Evidence Book 4 is coming soon

21 Apr

Enough with the posts that say, “I’m working on The Dwarf’s Legacy.” It’s time to start showing you some progress, so you can tell it really is close. So here is Chapter One.

“Not so fast,” you say? You read Chapter One at the end of Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess? Yes, you did. But if you can spot the subtle changes between that and the chapter below, you’ll get an glimpse at why I think The Dwarf’s Legacy is my best-written book yet.

Chapter 1:

The winding defile was so narrow that Karia was forced to place one foot in front of the other, now and then banging her knees, hips, shoulders or elbows against the rocks on either side. And she was skinny. She could hardly imagine how her broad friend, Gerik, and his large horse were going to get through.

She stopped and twisted – she could not actually turn in the cramped space – to rub the forehead of her horse, Tsilinki.

“Easy, girl,” she said. “We’ll be out of this soon.”

She didn’t want to think what might happen if the high-strung mare got nervous in here.

When the passageway opened into a small, bowl-like valley, Karia felt as if she could breathe again. First she pushed back the hood of her light but warm traveling cloak so she could see better. She shook out her long auburn hair, then crunched through the snow a dozen paces to where Akamon stood. That got Tsilinki into the valley, and made room for the others behind her to come in.

Dark clouds swept the sky. Ragged shards of gray hung low, scouring the rocks just over her head and dipping into the valley. The breeze that blew from behind Karia felt heavy and cold. It blustered through her hair, chilling her ears and neck.

The valley was roughly oval, seventy feet from the defile to the other side and forty feet across. Just to Karia’s left, her oh-so-blue eyes caught sight of a rough wooden lean-to that sheltered the entrance to a cavern.

She thought that was where Akamon was looking, and turned to him to make a disparaging comment about his choice of accommodations.

She was surprised to see that he looked frightened. He stood stock-still, his jaw clenched, looking down. She followed his gaze to a set of footprints in the snow. The prints were sharp and well-defined; this told Karia they were recent. They led from where she and Akamon stood across fifty feet of icy, rocky valley floor. Then they climbed rocks that seemed natural, yet formed a sort of stairway, up into gray mist that thinned now and then to reveal only a blank rock wall.

“I thought no one else knew about this place,” Akamon said softly.

Karia, still angry over the way he was treating her, replied, “You should be used to being wrong.”

He looked at her silently for a few seconds. She was trying to read his expression as she heard the others walk up behind her.

“We don’t have time for your childish games, Karia,” he said. He looked past her and said, “Gerik, follow me.” Then he turned back to Karia. Gesturing to Tika and Hikil, he said derisively, “You and your possessions stay here.” She felt her anger building as he turned from her, let go of his horse’s lead and followed the footprints.

When Gerik walked past her, Karia began to follow Akamon.

“Karia, you should stay here,” Gerik said.

She glared at him. “Are you giving me orders now too?” she asked icily.

Before he could reply, Akamon, without slowing, said, “It’s not worth arguing with her, lad. Not right now. She can come if she wants, or stay if she has sense.”

Karia stopped and willed her anger down her right arm toward her hand. Fire! she thought. But her hand stayed as cold as before. I still can’t do magic. What if I’ve lost my power? Oh, golly, it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds that out, and … then what?

By now Akamon was bounding up the uneven steps, with Gerik close behind. She hurried after them.

Akamon reached the top of the steps and waved his hand across the door. There was a pattern to what he was doing, but it was so fast and unexpected that Karia did not catch it. Then a symbol glowed gold, ever so briefly, and she realized Akamon had traced it: a cross, with a diagonal bar connecting the ends of the top and the right arms. The same symbol her mom showed her to cut into rising bread; the symbol on her cloak and haversack. The symbol Gerik said belonged to the dwarf, K’rilik.

Well don’t just stand here gawking, she thought as, a dozen steps above her, Akamon signaled to Gerik. The two of them walked right through the wall together and disappeared from her view.

Karia raced up the intervening icy steps. She somehow made it to the top without slipping, until she tried to stop. Here at the top, the mist had made the ice slick. Her feet slid forward, and she quickly shifted her weight. But it was too much. Her feet now slipped back and she fell toward the rock wall Akamon and Gerik had just gone through. Instinctively she put her hands up. For an instant she assumed the wall was an illusion her hands would pass right through. She thought she would slam face-first into the snow and ice. She was pleasantly surprised to stop, holding herself upright on a very solid – and very cold and damp – rock wall.

She regained her balance, stood back and rubbed her hands together briskly. She reached toward the spot Akamon touched. She traced out the symbol; it glowed gold briefly. Karia stepped forward, wincing, because she could not help but feel like she was walking right into a rock.

Immediately she found herself in a large stone room strewn with furniture, but she did not have time to take it all in. She saw Akamon’s back, and someone beyond him – someone who was just completing a gesture of some kind, sending Gerik flying backward. He struck the wall to her right.

“Enough!” she shouted. She took two quick steps to Gerik and knelt next to him. “Are you OK?”

He seemed stunned, but nodded. She turned toward the men, and was surprised to see that the man facing Akamon was Visili. She was equally surprised that they were just standing there, staring at her.

“Impressive, Tsilinakaya,” Visili said.

She was about to say, “What?” but caught herself. Don’t look confused. Calm down. Figure this out.

“How is this even possible?” Akamon asked her.

She smiled at him. I might be able to tell you if I had any clue what you were talking about, she thought. And it’s about time you’re the one with unanswered questions.

Get The Dwarf’s Legacy (The Day Magic Died, Book 4)

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