Hello, Dear Readers! Congratulations on making it to Wednesday. As a reward, I bring you an enticing snippet of FrostFire, which regular readers will know is the companion novel to Daughter of the Flames, and which is sheduled to come out from Walker Books in the UK in July next year.
Related to this - I'll probably be setting up a FrostFire page here and on my website soon, so if you've got any thoughts on the information you'd like to see there, tell me in the comments and I'll do my best to provide it.
In the meantime...let me know what you think of this teaser!
I went in low, swinging at the Gourdin’s leg. Moving fast for such a bulky man, he brought his right axe down, catching my axe-blade on his pick. His other axe flicked up to catch Arian’s sword in exactly the same way. The rebel twisted and pulled his axes expertly. I staggered forward a step, fighting to hang onto my weapon.
Arian let go of his sword and leapt away. The sudden release of tension made the rebel lurch, off-balance. I wrenched at my larger axe. Metal screamed, and the weapon went flying from the Gourdin’s hand. I bared my teeth in a grin of triumph. One axe down, one to go.
Arian reached under his jerkin and pulled out his weighted baton as the Gourdin took his remaining axe in both hands and aimed a side blow at my gut. I got my weapon down just in time, deflecting the blade with the iron langet.
Arian surged into the fray and drove the end of his baton into the rebel’s stomach. The man went white and stumbled back, almost bouncing off the wooden frame of the doorway .
Trusting Arian to guard me, I took an underhand swing at the rebel fighter’s legs that forced him to twist sideways. He struck at my back – Arian blocked the move with the baton, losing a chunk of wood in the process. I danced back and then edged forward, trying to find a space to cut at the man again. As he angled away, clearly believing me and my axe to be the greatest threat, Arian dived in beneath me and smashed his baton into the man’s knees.
The rebel bellowed as his legs buckled and he crashed to the ground. At the same moment, I jabbed the iron-bound head of my axe into his temple. There was a crunch as the metal met the rebel’s skull, and he slumped to the floor, lying half in and half out of the doorway.
Arian got to his feet and retrieved his sword. Together we jumped over the giant’s legs, landing in a large, echoing space, full of shadows.
The room was oddly shaped, with many sides, and was mainly taken by with roughly made wooden furniture – long tables and stools. It looked for all the world like the Hill Guard’s mess tent. I had braced myself for more enemy soldiers, but the room was empty.
“They left only one man to defend the doorway? That’s crazy.”
“They didn’t believe attackers would get this far,” Arian said, his gaze searching the room. “The inbred belief that they were invincible was the reason the Sedorne lost the war. Come on, we need to keep moving.”
We searched the room cautiously, backs to the wall, until we found a doorway. There was no door in it – a rail above indicated a curtain had once hung there, but no more. Arian eased through the gap, still plastered to one wall. I took the other side. The corridor was wide, with a towering ceiling that disappeared into darkness. The only light was from thin window slits high up. I still couldn’t hear any movement, no voices or footsteps. It was eerie.
Arian was running one hand over the wall. Then he ducked down and seemed to be touching the floor.
“What are you doing?”
“There are embrasures here for lamps, but they’re empty. And I can feel dust on the floors. I think this part is disused,” he said.
“That makes no sense. It’s directly off the main room,” I said, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck lift. “Can I have your baton? There’s no space for an axe here.”
“Take the knife instead,” he said, handing it to me hilt-first. “You’re more used to an edged weapon.”
We moved forward, weapons ready. I expected to see light at any moment, but instead the place grew darker. It was like venturing into a cave. I was thankful that at least there was no slime or bats. Yet.
“This place is massive,” I whispered as we came to a circular chamber with four more empty doorways leading off it. Even lowered, my voice echoed off the walls.
“We’re going to have to risk a light,” Arian said. “I’ve got a candle in my belt pouch. Hold this.”
He pushed the baton into my free hand, and, after some muttered swearing and scraping noises, a light flickered to life. Then he took the baton back and let some of the molten wax drip onto the end before sticking the candle to it. Now the baton served as a candleholder as well as a weapon. He held the light up high, but the tiny flame didn’t offer much illumination – just enough to keep us from stumbling over our own feet.
“Maybe we should go back and try another exit from the main room?” I suggested.
There was a muffled cry from one of the corridors and without another word we both rushed forward.