I am terribly sorry I haven't been visiting blogs much since last Wednesday. I had my five-day vacation from the day job, and I've been busy with NaNo and proofreading The Nightmare Collection, so I can publish it in the next few days. I hope to catch up on visiting blogs and emails by Saturday. *crosses fingers*
Today's Friday excerpt comes from "Lady Death" in Women of Foxwick.
The clashing swords rang in her ears like a cacophonous symphony. Peeping from behind the red velvet curtain, Umbria spotted King Leon and his sword master Fallon. She rippled the curtain, dust motes flying in the candlelit air, to alert Leon of her hidden presence.
When Fallon’s sword skidded across the floor, the sword fighting ceased.
“That’s enough for today, Fallon. Leave me.” Leon waved him away.
“As you wish, sire.” Fallon bowed, retrieved his weapon, and exited.
As soon as the door closed, Umbria slipped into the room with her broadsword raised.
“Hello, sister.” Leon’s weapon clanged with hers. “Is it finished?”
“Would I have returned if it wasn’t?” In a swirl of fabric, she removed her cloak and parried his move. An amused smile curled her lips. The blade whistled through the air, and her feet danced as she thrust and jabbed. She always enjoyed a good sword fight.
His breathing increased and sweat beaded upon his brow. Was her brother already winded from his previous exertion against Fallon? The sword mirrored her movements, but Leon wasn’t nearly as quick. She blamed the rich meats he enjoyed.
“So, the quacksalver is dead?”
“Yes, the false healer won’t be practicing his witchcraft anymore.” She slowed long enough to produce the thick gold ring Thaddeus enjoyed wearing, his finger attached.
“Thank you. He wanted to kill my wife to save the child.” Leon gnashed the words. His grip tightened around the sword, and he spat upon the floor and attacked. “The other healers aren’t much better.”
She grasped her weapon in both hands and took the brunt of his anger. What would her brother do if his wife and child didn’t survive? She couldn’t begin to imagine his despair and frustration. “Is there any news about Verona and your child?”
“They keep bleeding her, but she remains gravely ill.” He grunted. His movements grew wilder, more erratic, and Umbria struggled to keep up. “She’s delirious most of the time. They want to take the baby. Cut into her. Can you believe it? She’s been with child only six months. He won’t live without her.”
Umbria ducked and his sword banged into a marble column.
Leon’s chest heaved. “I can’t lose her, sister. Our relations with Lochhollow are tepid at best, and they will attack Foxwick, if she . . . .”
“Doesn’t Lochhollow realize how much you love their favorite daughter?” Her eyes narrowed in concern. She would do anything to prevent another war, to help him. “Would you like me to travel to Valdale? They have some of the finest physicians.”
“Did you know Verona’s parents first denied my marriage to her? They won’t hesitate to attack.” He swung the blade wide, completely missing Umbria. Frustration huffed from his nostrils like a bull snorting before attack. “There’s no use to journey to Valdale either. They can do nothing for her.”
“Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything for you and Verona. You know that.”
He swung his sword toward hers. “I want you to assassinate Death.”
“What?” Her eyes widened and mouth dropped open. When their weapons connected, hers flew from her hands and clattered on the floor. She flipped backward three times and stood with sword in hand again. “You want me to do what?”
Until the end of 2012, Women of Foxwick is only $1.99. If you enjoyed what you read, please consider buying a copy at these retailers: Amazon US / UK / DE / FR / ES / IT Smashwords Nook Kobo iTunes. You can also add on Goodreads.
I am also taking most of next week off from blogging. You can see an excerpt of "Mage Game" on Monday before I take a brief vacation due to Thanksgiving.