It’s Sneak Peek Week! More from A Sea Like Glass set to release later this year.
Demons are real, and they are hunting for Ris. A talented healer and one of the Lady’s descendants, Ris carries a secret that could lead to her losing more than her life. She could lose her soul. As the last of the Lady’s vessels, Ris goes on the run from demons sent by the forces of Darkness with a paladin whose past is shrouded in controversy and the former thief who had a hand in raising her. She must discover the truth about the Lady’s fall from the Light to heal the demon corruption that is spreading across the land. Can she discover the truth before the Darkness steals her soul and corrupts the world?
Time to find a spot to wait. Michel hated waiting. He wished he was geared up instead of in his more formal traveling clothes.
He found an alley within sight of the jail and checked his watch again. Still a half an hour. Seated on an empty crate, he watched from the shadows.
Michel didn’t understand why Bran needed his help or why a healer would need a Cloak and a Shield. What was so special about her that the Inquisitor took an interest? Because Tolbert did nothing unless it benefited him personally. So why bribe a judge and get this girl convicted of witchery? It made no sense.
Magic tingled in the air, raising gooseflesh on Michel’s arms, an ancient song that rose and fell in notes that weren’t heard but were felt. His magic wanted to respond to the melody, to thread its notes through and create a harmony of water, earth, and air. He held back. This wasn’t his fight. He would need his magic to cover the escape.
The magic hit the wards surrounding the jail. The song jangled and notes turned sour. The wards rippled with each hit, enough to be irritating to the one who’d cast the wards, but not enough to take them down. With the sustained barrage of magic, the wards tightened, shrinking to a small area inside the building.
The minutes passed slowly, and it was all Michel could do not to keep checking his watch. He closed his eyes and opened his mind.
Where was she? To keep Bran out, Tolbert would have to concentrate the wards around the girl.
The area stood out like a beacon to his inner-sight. Red flames with black streaks that swirled around a room-sized area. The discordant clang of Tolbert’s magic reverberated in Michel’s head. He gritted his teeth at the noise.
At ten minutes to the hour, the ripples of music turned into a cacophony that rained like hail on the shuddering wards. Michel had to give Bran and Cre credit; they knew how to create a diversion. The wards popped like a soap bubble, dissolving into the ether.
That was certain to get the Inquisitor’s attention.
Another long minute passed while magic crackled in the air in an invisible exchange of blows. A shimmering wave of power danced around the building. Gold and green flames taunted red and black.
Michel felt the moment when the Inquisitor lost the battle. The air in the town changed from oppressive to airy. A sure sign the Inquisitor was incapacitated. That was his cue to move.
He stood, brushed off his pants, and straightened his jacket. Time to rescue Mistress LaRoche.
The brick jailhouse squatted on the edge of Greendale like a demon waiting for its next meal. Michel rapped on the heavy wooden door. The window of opportunity to get the girl out would be slim since Tolbert probably wouldn’t remain out of commission for long.
A Guardsman opened the door and looked Michel over, his eyes pausing at the silver pin.
“You here for Mistress LaRoche?” he asked.
“Come on then. I’ll tell you how to get out, and you’ll make it look like I struggled with you. Understood?”
“I do,” Michel said.
Guardsman Prachett didn’t want to be on the bad side of the Inquisitor. Smart man.
A door to the left swung open, and Inquisitor Tolbert leaned out, using the frame to hold himself upright. Sweat beaded his pasty grey skin, and his shoulder-length blond hair fell free its black ribbon. His eyes widened when he saw Michel.
Void take it! The Inquisitor should have been out longer than a few seconds.
“What are you doing here?” Tolbert hissed.
Michel held his arms open and grinned at Tolbert. “I’m here to help. I was passing through and heard rumors about a witch.”
Tolbert waved Michel off. “You’re in over your head, Durant. Go back to the Bastion and let your betters deal with real affairs.”
Michel kept smiling as he stepped closer. “Betters? You were never my better. You know how to lick boots, but that’s about all you’re capable of.”
Tolbert’s face turned red. “You little—”
Michel’s open palm collided with Tolbert’s nose. Tolbert crumpled to the floor, blood streaming down his face.
Michel checked for a pulse. “Still alive. Shame.”
He glanced into the room. Tolbert’s favorite torture tools were laid out neatly next to a chair. Anger burned in his veins. He understood Bran’s desperation to get Mistress LaRoche away from Tolbert if this was what she’d been subjected to.
“We’ll need to tie him up,” Michel said. “I don’t want him coming after us. Where is everyone else?”
Prachett helped Michel drag Tolbert to the chair. “The rest of Guardsmen are off duty. Tolbert hasn’t wanted any of us around since the trial.”
“No wonder if he bribed the judge.”
“Horrible man,” Prachett said as he secured Tolbert’s arm into a thick leather restraint. The look of distaste on his face spoke volumes.
“Get rid of the tools. I don’t want him able to cut himself loose.”
“With pleasure, sir.” Prachett disappeared into the hall with the torture tools.
Michel touched the bone handle of the blade tucked into his boot. A knife to Tolbert’s heart would remove a great many difficulties.
Prachett returned with a smug smile. “That’s done.”
Michel clenched his fist. He served the Light. Tolbert’s murder would be a step into the Darkness. He picked up a dirty rag from the nearby table and shoved it into Tolbert’s mouth. “Take me to Mistress LaRoche.”
“She’s this way.”
Prachett led him further down the hall, fiddling with the keys on his belt. He opened a door and motioned Michel inside.
Michel peered around the door. It wasn’t a young girl that met his gaze, but a full-grown woman. He could see where a man might feel bewitched by her high cheekbones and rose petal skin. Honey colored hair fell around her face, cut short in ragged chunks, probably as a means to humiliate her. It hadn’t worked. Sky blue eyes met his with a hard glare. Even in a worn linen shirt and old wool trousers, she presented an elegant picture. There was a strength to her. She’d hidden her hands behind her back as Michel entered. What was she up to?
Michel offered the woman a graceful bow. “Mistress LaRoche, Lord Bran d’Idris has requested your presence at Raven’s Keep. I’m charged with your escort.”