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First pages

CHAPTER 1

Lying in bed, Adair looked up at the ceiling. She had spent the night in a backwoods inn that the locals called a resort. The room was plain and made from unfinished woods that had been slapped together to create a building. Her open window granted access to ample moonlight. She could see the room around her clearly. She could hear the sounds of drunken gambling and cheering in the pub below and in the street outside of her window.

Her ears perked up when she heard a loud thud down the hallway and the sounds of men grunting following by several loud screams. The gambling below went silent. To her left Adair quickly picked up her sword. She clutched the hilt in her hand and stood up. A loose nightgown of cotton draped over her body. Footsteps grew closer.

“Adair! It’s me! Let me in!” shouted a feminine voice.

Adair sprung out of bed and opened the door and a smaller blonde woman dashed in. She was dressed in silver robes with her blonde hair tied up into a neat bun. Her hazel eyes looked up at Adair, wrinkled in fear and sweat dripping from her temples. Together, they slammed the door shut and Adair slid a wooden bar over it to lock it. Men shouted at them from the other side and banged against the door.

“What’s going on Shea?” asked Adair.

“The Sword Theater came in and is killing our friends” she replied while looking out the window.

“We have to get to Prince Abel” said Adair, worriedly.

From the sleeve of her shimmering robe, Shea pulled a small crystal pendant dangling from a silver chain. She held out the crystal into the moonlight and whispered an enchantment. With a hard kick, one of the men had broken through the door. Three of them quickly moved in around Shea and Adair.

“Take my hand!” shouted Shea.

Without arguing, Adair grabbed her hand and in a bolt of blue light they had teleported out of the room. They were standing inside a larger bedroom suite where the prince had been staying. The body of Prince Abel was splayed out on the floor with a fatal wound slit across his throat. Adair covered her mouth, stifling her urge to cry out at the sight of his body. Shea snatched Adair’s hand back and then teleported them once more.

They landed softly on cobbled stones in front of the inn. Adair looked around her, trying to get her bearings. Shea whispered another enchantment, her pendant radiating in her hand. Fog swirled in from the sky around them. In a matter of seconds, they were hidden in a mist that was thick enough to prevent even a trained eye from spotting them.

“We need to get help” said Adair as she tried banging on the doors of the house across the street from the inn. From upstairs a woman leaned out of the window. The woman quickly slammed the shutters of the windows closed. The street had gone silent and the townsfolk had turned their backs on Adair and Shea.

“They won’t help Adair. We need to run!” shouted Shea

Hand in hand, two took off down the street. Behind them they saw the bobbing flicker of lanterns and torches following them through the fog. Up ahead were two wooden towers where the night’s guard were keeping eye on the town gate. Adair ran to the base of the tower just as an arrow landed at her feet. From the other tower, another arrow shot towards her. The fog impeded their aim enough that neither of them stood a good chance of actually hitting her.

Shea took her crystal and spun the chain around quickly. It formed a translucent shield that reflected a faint rainbow light. She swung the shield up and blocked the next arrow from hitting Adair. The wood of the arrow splintered and the pieces fell harmlessly to the ground.

“Why are you trying to kill us?” Shea shouted to the guards.

They didn’t respond.

Six more men came up the street from the direction Adair and Shea had just ran. They were closing in steadily. Adair brandished her sword, readying herself for a fight. Shea maintained her shield next to Adair. The two of them stood back to back as the men started circling out around them.

“We can’t take eight of them, we need a plan” whispered Shea.

“My plan is to kill them!” shouted Adair as she clashed swords with the first of the men to reach her. At her back, another one of the men lunged at them. Shea quickly deflected the second attack with her shield, bouncing their attacker back. No one was going to be able to approach Adair from behind.

With a few lucky slashes Adair had managed to gut the man in front of her. He fell before her, bleeding profusely from his stomach. He wore the black and green colors of the Sword Theater, but his use of a sword was untrained.

This was not their first run in with the mercenary group. Another one of the thugs ran up swinging wildly. Shea spun around and used her shield to knock his sword up into the air. As the two women shifted around, Adair finished their rotation by planting her blade into the mercenary’s chest and then kicking him off.

“Does even one of you know your ass from your blade?” laughed Adair as she unsheathed her sword from the body of the thug in front of her.

Holding the shield spell in her hands, Shea started etching out runes into the dirt using her foot. Two more of the mercenaries closed in on them but before they could reach the two, Shea intoned a single word and the ground turned to mud beneath the feet of their attackers. Everyone except Shea and Adair struggled to maintain their footing. A few of the mercenaries even slipped and fell, mud splattering up around them.

“I’ll handle this… Inconvenience” grimaced a man who just arrived to the fight.

“Ivor? You conniving toad. You want to fight me too?” growled Adair.

“Haha not with that little witch at your heel. When Nathaniel told me that you had a mage, I called in one of my own” he laughed and then stepped to the side.

A black hooded man stepped forward with a gnarled long staff in his hand. The staff was nearly as tall as he was. The gnarled wood swirled up to the top of the staff where a human skull had been affixed. He directed the tip of the staff at them and muttered a single word. A ball of flame shot forth at Adair and Shea. Shea swung her shield around and blocked the fireball. Explosions of flame bounced out from her shield and the force of the blast still managed to knocked Shea and Adair off balance.

“I can’t block another attack like ---“ began Shea but before she could finish her sentence another fireball launched at them. Without thinking Adair used her shield to push Adair back. Shea bounced one way and Adair bounced the other. The fireball passed between the two of them and hit the town gate, lighting the wood up in flames.

As they were falling apart, one of the mercenaries crept around from behind and stabbed Shea in the back. His blade pierced right through her chest. Her eyes got big and she gasped for air. Then her whole body relaxed. She did not scream or fight any more. She looked straight at Adair and with a pleading look in her eyes said “Please run. I need you to live.”

Adair took one last look into Shea’s speckled green eyes. Then she glanced at the thugs, at Ivor, and the black mage. Her skin prickled as she felt Shea’s last words penetrating deep into her spirit. She turned around and with all of the strength her legs could muster she ran.

“You’re staying with me until she’s dead” said Ivor as he tossed a small drawstring purse into the mage’s hand. It clinked with the heavy weight of coins.

The dirt felt thicker beneath her feet than it did when she was with Shea. Her sweat was trickling down her brow, matting in her hair. She had made it into the forest and was following an overrun path to the North of the town gate. Adair had heard rumors of a house up there where she could get more help or possibly hide out for the night.

She heard the shouting of the men behind her. She had made it out of sight from them but knew they would be on her trail in minutes if she stopped. Adair was disciplined enough to keep breathing and to pace her strides. She had managed to run several miles North from the village and she could see a compound ahead.

To call it a house would be an understatement. This was a manor. The house was of modest construction on the outside, the wood painted shades of cream and brown. The entire compound was surrounded by a wrought iron fence that went several inches above Adair’s head. She ducked around the side of the house and taking hold of the top of the fence, jumped over. She landed on the other side, in a patch of manicured green grass.

Adair stealthily slipped around the back of the house, ducking under windows as she went. She found herself in the middle a beautiful garden. Roses and flowers grew all over and surrounded an open pavilion of richly colored stone. Looking around the edges of the pavilion she dropped down and hid behind one of the many topiaries. Her body was tired from fighting and running and she had to force herself to stay alert as her excitement wore off.

At the front of the house the mercenaries arrived on horseback. They looked at the wrought iron gate protecting the house. Ivor tried pushing it open but the lock in the center of the gate was not going to budge. As the mage approached he looked around the gate and the manor.

“Can you just blow it open?” asked Ivor.

“There was a powerful magic surrounding this house. It seems like it’s fading” stated the mage.

“I’m paying you good money, blow the damn lock!” demanded Ivor.

The mage grunted a couple words and waved his staff towards the lock. A black ooze poured forth from the key hole and the metal popped, unlocking the gate. Ivor’s accomplices pushed the gate open and the group walked through. They headed up the well paved approach to the house. Ivor trotted along to the door. He balled up a fist and pounded it against the door. No one answered his heavy-handed knock.

“Go look around” ordered Ivor, waving a couple of his companions around the manor.

“Open it” shouted Ivor to his hired mage.

The mage performed the same spell on the door as he had on the gate. With more hissing and snapping, the locks and hinges of the door leaked out the same black sludge and then fell open. Inside was a simple foyer with stairs leading off on both sides and a hallway running straight to the back garden.

Sitting behind the topiary, Adair heard the thugs come around through the garden. Their footsteps hit heavily against the stones of the pavilion. Adair took in a quiet breath and peeked out from around the shrubbery. She thought about fighting, thinking her odds against just two of them would be good enough. Her body was just too tired. She laid back against the stone vase of the topiary, deciding it was best to wait and fight only if she was left with no other recourse.

One of them walked up past the plants she was hiding by. She sighed, realizing she was going to be spotted, and then swung her leg out. Her leg hit the man in the shins, sweeping his feet out from under him. He groaned loudly as he hit the hard stones of the pavilion. She scuffled around with him, climbing on top and punching his face. The other mercenary rushed over to grab her. She elbowed him in the face, his nose sinking in and bloody against the pressure of her elbow. Adair grabbed a long dagger off his waist and swung it around her haphazardly. Both of the men she was fighting stepped back.

Ivor and the rest of his gang rushed through the house and out the back to the pavilion. Within moments Adair was surrounded again. Suspended in a scabbard at his waist was a longsword that Ivor drew as he stepped closer to Adair. He put both hands on the hilt, readying himself to strike her down.

“A lot of trouble you put us through. Put the knife down and I promise I’ll put you out of your misery before my boys have their fun” said Ivor.

“I’m not going to give up! I’ll kill every one of you for what you did to my friends” Adair cried back.

“Now now. No one else needs to die here” said an unfamiliar voice.

Everyone turned around to see a woman. She slowly walked forward, her steps graceful, silent, measured. Long chocolate brown hair flowed freely in waves down her shoulders. Her skin was pale and draped with exotic purple and black robes of silk. The woman was clearly tall in her own stature but the extravagance of her robes created an even more imposing silhouette.

“Those robes… The magic here… Are you a sorceress?” asked the black mage.

“I don’t care who she is. You stay out of the way” grunted Ivor to the woman.

“I’m the lady of this manor and my dear gentleman I believe it’s time for you to head home” said the mysterious woman.

“Listen bitch, say one more thing and we’ll kill you too. Just mind your business” replied Ivor.

“I’m not worried about your quarrel with the girl. I’m worried about the damage you’ve done to my house. Now walk away and I’m willing to forgive this misunderstanding” offered the woman.

“Boss, I think we should walk away. Something isn’t right here” said the mage, his face wrinkled with concern.

“I’m not paying you to think. I’m paying you to blow stuff up, just get rid of her” ordered Ivor.

The mage sighed and lifted his staff.

With startling speed, the woman darted forward to the mage, grabbing his staff with both hands and smashing one end of it into the mage’s throat. He let go of the staff and fell to the ground, choking and gasping for air. Staff in hand she parried the blades of the mercenaries around her, striking each of them down one by one. Each blow was calculated and dealt pain without killing any of them. In the uproar, Adair backed off and watched the robed woman fight.

“Get up, you’re all pathetic” shouted Ivor as he was last man standing against her.

A couple of his thugs got up and tried to surround the woman. Ivor lunged at her. She slapped the edge of her staff against his hand. Adair heard a loud crack as the bones in his hand shattered and the sword dropped. The woman followed up by swinging the staff low. She struck him in the back of the knees, knocking him off his feet. Ivor laid on the ground, clutching his hand. She continued spinning around and knocked Ivor’s gang down again.

“This is your last chance to walk away from here alive” she stated as she slowly walked backwards in the direction of her house.

The men scrambled away around the side of the house, not wanting to take any more chances. Still clutching his hand, Ivor shouted at her “I’ll be back to burn this place down!” He grumbled obscenities as he staggered away. The only one left there was the black mage, who was unconscious on the ground.

“You, Girl. Carry him inside” ordered the woman.

“He was with them when they killed my friends” said Adair, pointing her stolen dagger at the mage.

“You’re my guests for now. Carry him inside and we’ll talk” repeated the mysterious woman.

Adair was shocked at everything that had happened but knew she did not want to get on this woman’s bad side. She laid down the dagger in hand and with some effort she slumped the man over her shoulders and carried him inside. His weight was lighter than she had expected. The robed lady followed Adair inside and shut the door behind them. They were in a dining room with glass walls facing the garden.

“Just lay him on the table for now” waved the woman.

“Are you sure he’s not dead?” asked Adair as she dropped his body onto the dining room table. His black hood slid back, revealing a middle-aged man with a bald head and several scars on his face.

“I doubt it” replied the woman casually.

“How do you know?” asked Adair.

“Just leave that to me. I’m interested in you. Put the kettle on and tell me how you got up here.”

CHAPTER 2

Sitting on the edge of the dock, Adair dangled her feet down and let her boots touch the edge of the water. The fresh air filled her lungs as she took a deep breath, wisps of honey blonde hair swaying in the breeze. She looked out on the water. There were a few ships occupying the bay, lit up by the radiant gold and amber hues of the sun just preparing to set. Adair had finished her patrol shift and was relaxing, thinking about her life.

It was a pretty good one. She had two parents who loved her. Her father was a lord of the eastern mountain range. Her mother was a peasant girl who he had fallen in love with. The customs of the land forbade him from taking care of her so he gave her a satchel filled with gold and sent her to Guardia. Adair’s mom used the money to open up a tavern and they prospered. Her father even visited occasionally when duty brought him back to the capital.

In Guardia, she was allowed to keep the family name. It was her station as well as dedication to justice that helped her become knight of the realm. She had just been elected to the office of deputy captain and had the job of guarding the West Civilian Quarter of Guardia. Some days she was chasing down criminals but most days she was just making her rounds and enjoying the beautiful views of the ocean.

She jumped up to her feet and walked off the dock and back to street. Looking up, she was surrounded by stone pathways and tall buildings. In the distance, she could see the crystal tower of the castle overlooking the city. Its structure dominated the skyline of the whole city and after rainy days would often reflect rainbows across the streets. It made the city seem brighter. On the right day, it felt like living in a fairy tale.

Feeling a squeezing sensation in her stomach, Adair realized she had not eaten since breakfast. She walked by the tavern her mom worked at and thought about grabbing a bite there but decided she did not want to trouble her mom while she was working. She loved her mom but Miri was a tough woman and Adair did not want to impose on her if she did not have to. The guards mess hall was always an easy place to grab a bite. The food did not always taste the best but it would fill her belly.

A mile later and she was in front of the cafeteria. A few guards were chatting out front. They waved cheerfully at Adair as she walked in. She got along easily with most people. Adair gave them a wave back and headed towards the bar counter inside.

Behind the counter was the cafeteria attendant who scooped up a fillet of fish and slapped it onto a plate, and with the same spoon scooped up a serving of lightly boiled vegetables and slapped them down next to the fish. He passed the plate off to Adair without saying a word. Behind him was a large woman mixing ingredients and cooking over an open fire.

Nothing in the room drew Adair’s attention. She sat down at one of many long wooden benches and started eating her food. The fish had been cooked until it was hot but the meal was bland. All of the ingredients seemed to lose texture and flavor together. It was unusual for the guards to be provided with seasoning for the cooking. The cafeteria workers had little passion for it either. Often the meals were basic and made of whatever food was plentiful that season. Adair cleaned her plate of food, stood up and tossed her plate into a bin of dirty dishes at the end of the bar.

When she got back outside the sun had set and one of the guards was hustling by her, lighting lanterns along the street. Adair walked back to her mom’s tavern. The wooden sign hung out front of the tavern had the words“The Salted Mug” printed in bold over the outline of a tankard frothing with ale. Around the side of the building was a staircase that lead up the side of the tavern. Arriving at the top, Adair pulled a key out of her pocket and unlocked a door on the side of the upper floor of the tavern.

Inside was a scrubbed and cleaned bedroom. In the corner, sitting atop several crates, was a simple mattress with a green woolen blanket folded neatly on top of it and a single pillow pushed against the corner. The room was dark without any lights on in it but this was home for Adair so she was able to navigate it with ease.

She stripped off her work clothes and put on a simple night dress. After the work clothes were off she folded them neatly and laid them over a chair that was by a small writing table. She braided her hair back and then crawled into bed. She pulled the blanket over her body and nestled into the corner where her pillow was wedged. In a few minutes Adair was fast asleep.

Morning came quickly and Adair was wide awake before the sun had fully cast its light across her room. She set about fastidiously putting away her pajamas neatly in a trunk at the foot of her bed and then putting on her uniform again. She untied her braid and shook out her hair into loose waves.

After letting her hair down Adair opened her door and walked outside. She headed to the North Industrial Quarter. She passed by factories and warehouses on her way to the guard’s headquarters. The headquarters were located in a keep that overlooked the entire quarter. It was made out of the same stone as the inconspicuous cafeteria she had eaten in the night before.

The guards waved her through the gate and she entered the keep. Immediately inside was a large courtyard where guards were sparring and people were walking through to conduct their daily business. She walked down the center of the courtyard and up the steps behind the courtyard leading to the central commanderie. She wanted to give her report, however uneventful it had been, to the knight commander and then begin her shift anew.

In front of the commanderieshe saw a captain, fully dressed in his armor and cloak talking to a small girl. The girl looked up at him, peeking up from the wide brim of her bonnet, as he yelled at her. Adair recognized the girl’s blue robes and bonnet to be an indicator that she was part of the Mage’s Guild. Adair could not quite make out the details of what he was saying but she was not worried about it. She had seen quite a few people verbally reamed while working with the guards. Then the captain pushed the small girl against the wall, her body lifting like a rag doll and hitting the cold stone.

Hey! What are you doing?” shouted Adair

None of your business. Who are you anyway?” asked the man gruffly.

He turned to face Adair. His skin was tan from years of being out in the sun, his eyes almost hidden around his curly black mane of hair. He flipped his gray cape back, revealing shiny armor that looked like it had not seen the wear of the battle. He had the insignia of a blue diamond, the typical crest of Guardian society, on the clasp of his cloak. His eyes were dark brown and up close he had the faint of smell of wood mixed with something Adair couldn’t put her finger on. She recognized him as Knight Captain Nathaniel Grahtsword.

Deputy Captain Adair Titanborn” she stated with confidence.

His demeanor softened“I was just telling this waif that if she costs me another tournament she’s going to be thrown out on the streets. I asked for a wizard and they sent me this little witchling, hardly suitable for cannon fodder” his tone was as if he was Adair’s buddy and had an air of“Can you believe this?” to it.

Last time I checked we weren’t in charge of the Mage’s Guild. Just because she was assigned to your command doesn’t mean you get to push her around” replied Adair.

Oh… So, you think you know more than me? Put your sword where your mouth is, take the girl on your unit and fight me in the next tournament” challenged the other Captain.

Fine! I will!” proclaimed Adair.

Without saying a word, the witchling shuffled behind Adair.

Haha! Good! I like a challenge!” he laughed as he turned to walk away.

And Adair, I suggest you don’t back out of this one” he finished, still chuckling.

From behind her, Adair heard the small girl exhale sharply. Adair turned around and faced her. The girl came up just past Adair’s chest, the brim of the girl’s bonnet bringing her almost to Adair’s chin. The girl looked up at Adair with big hazel eyes, almost equal parts brown and green. Adair sighed back and went inside to give her report.

When she came back out, the mage girl was standing there waiting. She scurried up to Adair eagerly. She clenched the edges of her robes, trying to contain her emotion.

Thank you so much for standing up for me!” she cheered.

Don’t thank me yet. I probably just made more trouble for us both. Why did you accept the contract with Captain Nathaniel in the first place if you weren’t ready to fight for him?” asked Adair.

I didn’t really have a choice. Nathan had been petitioning the Triumvirate for weeks to get the budget for a mage to be added to his unit. The Archmagesaw no purpose in sending a mage to play in the tournaments but Nathan kept pressuring. I’m at the bottom of my class so they sent me to teach him a lesson…” explained the girl, her voice trailing off at the end.

Great. So, he got the runt in the litter just to shut him up and now I agreed to face him in the arena. What’s your name?” groaned Adair as she clenched her forehead.

Shea Hille” chirped the little mage.

What kind of magic can you do?” asked Adair.

I don’t know. I’m pretty good with nature but they don’t really do anything with that in my class. I’m thinking about switching to botany and alchemy” started Sheaas she trailed off into a rant about her favorite flowers and their medicinal properties. Adair didn’t pay attention to what she was saying as the two walked towards the front of the headquarters.

Okay so what did Captain Nathaniel have you do in your last bout?

Uhh… Well he put me on the front line with his soldiers and kept shouting at me about fireballs or something and I don’t know to do those so I just tried to do what I could and… Well…” Shea muttered.

Well what happened?” asked Adair, not quite sure she wanted to know how the rest of the story went.

I turned the battlefield into mud and our team’s feet got stuck and the enemy team knocked us out… It was pretty bad. But I learned how to direct that spell. I’m sure I won’t do that to your team!” said Shea, trying to put a positive spin on things.

Adair groaned again.

I didn’t ask for this. I come from a small town, and I didn’t fit in there either. I just thought if I went to school I could learn to do something worthwhile with the gifts I was given. I’m small and I’m not very powerful, but if you give me a chance I will work so hard not to let you down” spoke Shea.

Looking at the young mage’s eyes twinkling as she spoke, Adair believed that Shea was telling her the truth. Not that it mattered. Adair was the one who was on the line with challenging Nathaniel. As she contemplated what Shea was saying and what their plan needed to be, Adair remained silent.

What’s wrong? I promised you already. If you let me fight on your team I’ll work twice as hard to show that guy that we’re not the losers he thinks we are!” exclaimed Shea.

Adair resigned herself to whatever was going to come from her fool hardy challenge. She stopped, locked eyes with Sheaand stated“I don’t have a team.

CHAPTER 3

“What do you mean you don’t have a team?” asked Shea, her eyebrows skyrocketing up her forehead in surprise.

“I’ve always worked by myself I didn’t think it through. But you said you’re willing to work hard so you need to help me recruit. You and I make two, we only need three more to compete” explained Adair.

“True. Where would we start though?”

Pausing by the front gate Adair turned back to the guards training in the yard.

“I’m a Deputy Captain, I can requisition any guard not presently assigned to a duty for Captain Nathaniel or the Knight Commander” said Adair. Her slouched posture and the idle tapping of her foot made it appear as if she was thinking out loud more than talking to Shea. The mage girl turned with Adair to face back to the guards training in the yard.

“Yeah! you grab them, and I have someone who I think will help us too!” said Shea as she took off out the gate.

“I have no idea where she’s going” thought Adair.

“Alright men, who here is missing a beat?” shouted Adair.

Her voice was loud and carried an air of authority with it. She was new to her role but decided it was better to feign confidence than to admit that she lacked experience in leading teams. About six guards stopped sparring and turned to look at her. They did not speak up. They just stared blankly, awaiting input from Adair.

“You there! Who do you report to?” said Adair, pointing to the man closest to her.

“I uhh… Captain’s got me training for deployment. Raz here isn’t doing anything yet” stumbled the man as he slapped one of his cohorts on the back.

Raz coughed at the slap on his back. He shifted anxiously. He had skin the color of dark brown teak wood and eyes that seemed only a shade more amber than his skin. With one hand, he ruffled his short black hair and smiled squeamishly at Adair.

“What ya need mum?” he asked.

Adair couldn’t place his accent and she didn’t recognize him as one of the new recruits. She looked him up and down carefully. He had a training sword at his waist.

“How long have you been here?” she asked him

“Just a fortnight. I’m from New Valar. Times are hard outside of Guardia and I really just needed a job. So ‘ere I am!” he said.

“Well you’re being called to duty. Where’s the rest of the recruits?” she continued her questioning. The rest of the guards went back to their activities.

“I’m the only one left. I didn’t do too well on the final exam so they sent me back to train for another week. Figured I’d do better with a little more training. The rest o’ the recruits are heading East for some operation the Commander is preparing for”

“Ok. I want you back here tomorrow morning right after market opens” ordered Adair.

“Yes mum!” he said and turned back to his sparring partner.

Knowing that she was not going to find another recruit in the compound, Adair finally left the guard headquarters. She figured as a last resort she could always go to her mom’s tavern and see who she could rustle up there. Taverns were known for attracting a wide variety of characters and adventurers.

It was still too early for the tavern as many people were just starting their day so she decided to do a walkthrough of the market place.

In the center of Guardia was a bustling market circle. It was filled with stalls and traders selling a wide variety of wares from food and clothes to weapons and rare trinkets. Any quarter of the city could be accessed from the market and the East entrance lead straight out of the main gates of the entire city while the West lead back to the housing district. To the South was the royal palace and the crystal tower.

Adair made her usual rounds through the market. Most of the stalls were already up and running for the day. She noticed one of the produce stalls had started selling new floral arrangements. The flowers of early Summer were in full bloom. She did not notice any criminal activity and no one stopped her to ask for help. A couple uneventful hours passed in the market. Adair decided it was a good time to head down to the West Quarter and make her patrol there.

On her way past The Salted Mug Adair saw her mom pop out of the tavern. Her mother’s name was Miri. Adair’s mom wore a simple taupe dress with a brown apron wrapped around her waist. She had strawberry orange hair in roughly the same length and waves of Adair. She was of above average height and when she waved her arms to catch Adair’s attention her whole body jiggled up and down with each movement.

“Adair! Your mother needs your help” she called out in a singsong voice.

Adair’s lips pursed when she heard her mom’s voice.

“What do you need mom?” Adair asked as she approached.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

M.L. Brooks, author of the new book Voidwalker, lives in Oregon with her husband and their dachshund Max. She has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies for everything from articles and prose to science fiction and fantasy. She works during the day as an instructor in a vocational training program, and spends her evenings with video games or writing away and building that next fantasy world. For more information check out www.mlbrooksediting.com

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
I wanted to write a series that embraced two big thematic elements. A story of revenge, something that pushes you to doing what you would have thought unthinkable, and a friendship that fills your spirit with purpose. Book one lays the framework for what should be heartfelt fantasy series.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
When I was little my grandma would let me spend hours typing up stories on her old typewriter. At school I would have notebooks filled with scribbles of new worlds and plotlines. I never had to decide to become a writer because it was something that was intrinsic to everything I had done in my life.
Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Magic Kingdom For Sale, and Harry Potter. They are all very meaningful stories to me and I connect with them in different ways. All three of the stories have the magic of modern fairy tales.

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