First off, to all the mothers out there, happy belated Mother’s Day! We hope your day was an epic one.
We also hope you’re enjoying Relic Hunter, our newest release! We’d love to hear what you think about it. Please consider leaving a review on your ebook store of choice or on social media if you can’t leave it on the store. Just tag our scribe (Melinda Kucsera) so we can read it. We value your feedback.
Reviews are really important to us. They’re like that report card you got when you were a kid. They let us know how we’re doing, and whether we’re delivering the adventure you’re seeking. We hope we are.
But we are characters, and some of us (Papa and I, his son, Ran) are not entirely fictional, so we don’t always do what our scribe tells us to. We like to go off script. Okay, okay, I admit it. We love going our own way. But our primary goal is and will always be to entertain you.
We hope we’ve done that in Relic Hunter.
Click the images to see a larger version. 🙂
And now, to celebrate the launch of Relic Hunter, we bring you Part 4 of our free preview of (you guessed it):
Magic wrapped both his arms in protection, easing the twin vices grinding the bones in his arms as his captors strode on. They were stone-faced men who didn’t spare Sarn so much as a glance during the long walk. Neither had they hurt him—at least not on purpose. Any new bruises resulted from his struggles to escape not any casual brutality on their part.
Dread tightened the knot in Sarn’s belly as they turned another corner. Nothing distinguished this tunnel from any other down here. All was brown dirt and gray speckled rock except for the deepest shafts where the sleeping stones whispered their secrets to him. Sarn wanted to be down there bathed in their serenity and the soft light of the lumir crystals.
Nuggets of that luminous stone called ‘lumir’ cast a weak light over the tunnels in regular use, like this one. They were set in the unadorned walls or dangled from the metal beams holding tons of rock aloft.
Since this underground complex was built for one purpose—pulling minerals out of the ground—it was all rough-cut rock and metal bracing except in the oldest sections of the mine. There, wonders dwelled in private splendor but not here. Around that next bend, the Master of the Mines waited for him.
Sarn renewed his struggles, but it was no good. He had no leverage and ahead, a doorway loomed. Light spilled, white and inviting, through it until a shadow eclipsed it.
“Ah, good, you brought the boy. Well done. Your usual reward is waiting,” said the Master of the Mines as his shadow disappeared. “Bring him in here.”
“Yes, sir,” said one of the guards in a lighter voice as they stepped through, still dragging Sarn.
He glanced at her only now realizing she was a woman. Her shapeless leathers had given no hint of her gender nor had he really looked at his captors. They were rough men and women here to earn a wage and nothing more. But they did their duty and hauled Sarn up to face the burly, bejeweled man tapping a coiled whip against his thigh.
The Master of the Mines shook his head, and diamonds winked in the lumir light. They hung from his ears, nestled beside his flaring nostrils, and sparkled on countless thin gold chains sweeping across his cheeks. More diamonds adorned his brow. They were braided into his hair too, and they caught the light as the fellow moved.
Displeasure rolled off him in waves. The Master of the Mines caressed the bruise on Sarn’s jaw with pearlescent fingers leaving a fine, sparkling powder behind, and he tsked at what he saw.
Sarn recoiled as the wound throbbed under the Master of the Mines’ probing fingers. He must have winced because a change came over the bejeweled man who held his life in his hands and not a good one.
“Do as I command, and I won’t hurt you, boy. You know that. So, why do you keep defying me? Do you want me to hurt you?”
The Master of the Mines seized a handful of Sarn’s tunic and dragged him so close Sarn almost choked on the man’s lavender scent. His peculiar eyes washed a bald spot on his tormentor’s head in green light, and Sarn stared at it, dumbstruck.
I’ve never been taller than my tormentors. As that incongruity registered, shock shoved aside fear for a moment, but not quick enough for Sarn to take advantage of it.
“I think you do.”
The Master of the Mines nodded to the guards before Sarn could process what he was talking about. A new guard slugged him in the gut, doubling Sarn up. Then, the guard dropped a fist like a hammer between his shoulder blades jarring the welts on his back. Only the original guards’ hold on his upper arms kept Sarn mostly upright. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth where he’d bitten his tongue to keep from screaming. But some sound must have emerged despite his attempts to be quiet because the Master of the Mines smiled.
Please don’t hurt me anymore. Tears fell unchecked down Sarn’s face running salty fingers over half-healed cuts and bruises making them smart, and the ground under his feet softened.
“We could take you away,” those mottled stones said.
Sarn couldn’t risk speaking aloud, so he formed the words he wanted to say in his mind and hoped the stones heard him.
“I won’t go without my brother, and you can’t fetch him because Miren doesn’t have any magic.”
Which probably meant they didn’t have the same father either, but that was a given since there was at least a six-year age gap between them.
“Nor can you take me. I can’t breathe through solid stone,” Sarn thought at the stones under him. But the ground wasn’t listening, so his feet sank through the stone floor. Maybe they couldn’t hear his thoughts after all.
“You bring me red stones when I ask for white,” the Master of the Mines continued as if Sarn wasn’t slowly falling through solid stone right before his eyes.
Maybe no one else could see what the cave was doing. It was all a bit mad anyway. Cave systems weren’t supposed to wake up one day, notice what was going on inside them and take an interest in the one boy who just happened to have magic.
Maybe I’m just imagining the ground swallowing me because I want it to. Though, the cold rocks flowing over Sarn’s feet made a convincing argument.
* * *
And, we hope we have too. This is Ran, son of Sarn. I hope you enjoyed your free preview of Relic Hunter. Have a great week!
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