YAPC would like to welcome Trudi Jaye to the blog today. She is here to share some info and an excerpt of her book Fire Mage. If this looks like something you would be interested in, please go buy a copy! It is only 99 cents for a limited time!
Especially not Jena, an orphaned ex-slave who’s finally found a safe haven with her master and mentor, the Great Mage Thornal. When royal assassins murder Thornal while trying to steal his powerful Book of Spells, Jena vows revenge on the man responsible—Prince Lothar, the next king of Ignisia.
It’s a dangerous quest that will likely mean her life, but Jena has help in the form of her master’s familiar, an enormous raven, and also her own—completely forbidden—mage skills. If she can keep her secrets hidden, she might just get close enough to Lothar to obtain justice for Thornal’s death.
Meanwhile failed mage Nate is a salt collector in the notoriously dangerous volcano mines, using his unique ability to call demons to keep himself alive. He emerges from his latest run to find everyone at the outpost dead, and royal assassins waiting to finish him off. He barely escapes with his life, but his elation is short-lived—Prince Lothar is convinced Nate is a threat to his claim to the Flame Throne of Ignisia, and will stop at nothing to eliminate him.
When Nate and Jena meet, they’re literally heading in different directions. But destiny—and the prophecies of the last Fire Mage—throws them onto the same path. They must work together if they are to save the kingdom—and themselves—from the machinations of a ruthless royal prince.
Two unlikely heroes, one unscrupulous prince, and a swathe of dark and mysterious beasts—who will survive this encounter?
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Jena felt as if someone had reached inside her body and wrenched out her heart. Bright sparks of pain lanced through her insides, and she cried out. Beside her, the first Hashishin drew in a startled breath.
Something heavy settled around Jena’s shoulders and in the pit of her stomach. Waves of pain crawled up and down her body. She sucked in air with short, panicked gasps, as light flashed in front of her eyes. A sound like rushing water filled her ears, and for a moment, she forgot where she was. The world became nothing more than a terrible overwhelming pain that she couldn’t control.
Falling, flying, upside down, and right side up. She was everything and nothing, white and black, every color all at once; she was inside the dark room of the cottage, and she was flying in the skies above; she was smaller than a speck of dust, and bigger than the world.
Jena opened her mouth to scream, and no sound came out.
Then, just as suddenly, she was back. She felt a hundred pounds heavier, and her vision was strange. Everything was brighter in the room, and she saw even more of the detail around her. The pain was still there, but muted and under control. She could again focus on what was happening outside her head. The knife pricking at her skin hurt, and Thornal was still sitting just across from her. He watched her closely, and when she sucked in a deep breath, some of the tension in his face relaxed. He even sent her a quick smile.
Jena breathed in and out, trying to still the pounding of her heart. There was a new tightness in her chest, but she was able to draw in another deep breath and stay calm. She needed to concentrate on their attackers. They might be trained Flame Hashishin, raised from birth to kill and to withstand most mage spells, but her master was Thornal, the most powerful mage in the kingdom. He was the Guardian of the Book of Spells, and he wouldn’t be easily killed.
“There is your book, Hashishin. Your master will not be pleased that you allowed me to destroy it,” Thornal spoke in a soft voice, almost a whisper.
Jena heard him as clearly as if he spoke directly into her ear. What was he doing?
“Your assistant seems to understand what a mistake that was, mage. If it really was the book?” The Hashishin’s voice was flat and calm as he dug his knife deeper into Thornal’s neck. Thornal grunted in pain and blood spurted below the knife. The large red jewel at the base of the hilt glinted in the firelight.
“You have failed in your mission.” There was a small smile on Thornal’s face, but it worried Jena rather than relieved her to see it. The face of the Hashishin holding her master hostage was impassive, but there was something about the way he held his mouth that said he knew Thornal was right.
The hairs on the back of Jena’s neck stood on end.
Thornal coughed, and more blood pumped out of the wound on his neck. Again, Jena struggled against the man behind her; the knife at her own throat pressed harder against her skin. She stilled, unable to bear the feeling of sharp steel against her raw uneven burns.
“You lie, old man. You would never destroy the Book of Spells. You are the Guardian, bound by your oath. Tell me where it is or the girl dies.” The Hashishin’s voice was neutral, his training ensuring he didn’t panic, or at least let his panic show.
Silently Jena prayed for them. She prayed to the Flames as she had never prayed before, not even in the darkest moments of her life; not even when she had to endure the raw festering burns that had covered a quarter of her upper body. That pain seemed like nothing now, when Thornal’s life was at stake.
The muted throbbing that still coursed through her body danced alongside the fear that was rising from her churning stomach. She stared without blinking at Thornal, but he didn’t look at her. He was concentrating on the Hashishin.
“I would never lie,” said Thornal. “I have burned the Book of Spells, so your master will never have it. I would rather break my oath and see it gone than in his hands.”
He grunted as the knife was thrust deeper into his neck.
Jena gasped, pushing forward off her chair. The arm jerked her back down, and the knife pierced her skin, drawing blood. The sharp pinpoint of pain focused her mind, and in that moment, she realized they were in trouble. Her vision blurred as tears threatened to fall. She frowned and pushed them back, making herself focus on what was happening around her. She had to find a way to save them both.
“This is your last chance, old man. Where is the Book? Your lives depend upon it.” The assassin’s voice shook and Jena stopped breathing. The break in the Hashishin’s emotionless mask was more terrifying than any of the physical threats were.
Thornal motioned his eyes toward her, his lips forming a word. Talk.
“He does not lie,” she said abruptly, trying to understand what Thornal was doing. “It’s an old mage tradition. It makes them stronger if they never lie; their power is enhanced by the very act of truth. It cancels out the excess emotion, the one thing that all mages strive to avoid. Excess emotion destroys a good spell, as they say.” Jena heard her voice as if from a distance, the higher pitch making it sound like someone else talking.
She watched as Thornal whispered a spell under the cover of her voice. It was a simple spell, but cast by a powerful mage.
The hands of the Hashishin behind her fell slack and became nothing more than smoke and dust. Even before he was fully gone, Jena surged out of her chair toward the other Hashishin, grabbing the fire poker next to her chair as she went.
The remaining Hashishin gave a grunt of surprise as the knife he was holding turned to smoke and ash. The spell sped through his body, turning him to dust as well. He tried to jerk his second knife, hidden in his sleeve, toward Thornal. It turned to a dirty powder before it left his hand. Jena’s poker smashed through dust, throwing the particles harmlessly around the room.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Thornal had done it. He had saved them.
As he stood up from his chair, she turned to Thornal—smiling to show she knew he’d been in command the whole time—and felt the brush of steel fly past her arm. The knife from a third Hashishin hit Thornal in the chest with a solid thud. Thornal crumpled to the floor without a sound, the knife hilt standing grotesquely to attention in the middle of his torso.
Jena screamed, taking a step toward Thornal before turning toward his attacker who stood frozen beside the entrance to the room. With a blast of anger and pain surging through her body, she uttered the first spell that came to her head, a feral fireball spell from deep in the Book of Spells. It shouldn’t have worked; she wasn’t in control of her emotions, and she hadn’t grabbed enough earth’s energy. But she was flying on instinct, and she flicked her arms toward the Hashishin before she even thought it through. A painfully white ball of flames came flying out through her fingertips. Heat burned through her and surged into the body of the third assassin.
The Hashishin crumpled to the floor, dead before he hit the ground.
About the Author: Trudi Jaye lives in Auckland, New Zealand, in a secluded haven amongst the trees with her lovely husband and cheeky young daughter. Trudi enjoys yoga, although she’s not very bendy, and karate, although she doesn’t like the idea of hitting anyone.
For the last ten years she’s been a magazine writer and editor, most recently writing about innovative and cutting-edge research. It’s a great place to get ideas for her books!
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