It’s Sneak Peek Week. I haven’t done one of these in a while. This week’s sneak peek is three-fold. A Sea of Broken Glass (formerly A Sea Like Glass) has a new point-of-view character. Also, I’m revealing the full cover and the new blurb. Enjoy!
Secrets have a price.
After enduring weeks of torture and being convicted of witchery, Ris escapes, only to discover the Darkness and the Lady are hunting her. They need the magic that sings within her.
Creator of all, the imprisoned Lady needs Ris, her last vessel, to find the Heart of Creation. The Darkness seeks to corrupt the vessel and retain his hold on the Lady, and with it, the world.
Ris finds help from a pair of Paladins of Light who aid her in cleansing the evil taint from the lands. As her power grows, so do her questions. How can she restore balance to the world and free the Lady? Should the Lady be trusted or is she as much at fault for the evil in the world as the Darkness? With powerful demons War, Ruin, and Plague at her heels, Ris struggles to stay alive as she tries to unravel the secrets hidden within her before it's too late.
Secrets that may cost Ris her soul even if she does succeed.
The metallic tang was the first thing Aeron noticed when he got off the train at the Copper Hills Mining Outpost. It tickled his nose and coated his throat, reminding him of things he’d long ago pushed into the abyss of his memories. The clang of the station bell warred with the raucous shouts of the overall-clad men and women exiting the train.
Aeron pushed his way through the crowd. His first stop was food, then lodging. The seven-hour train ride from the Bastion had been torture. He hated being confined.
The Mining Outpost was an ugly place filled with squat wooden-sided buildings and loud equipment. The thump and whir of steam-powered machinery meant progress, or so the Bastion and the Provincial Governors claimed.
Aeron didn’t believe them. It was all about money and power. He who controlled the resources controlled the world. Even a street rat from Odenfeld knew that much. Didn’t matter if it was food stolen from a baker’s cart or ore dug from the earth. Three hundred and fifty years since the Lady’s fall and that fact hadn’t changed.
“All aboard for Borderton, Raven’s Keep, and Langden’s Landing,” the conductor yelled.
Aeron ignored the press of the crowd and used his slight build to slip through unnoticed. The Poor Man’s Pub was the best place to get grub and close enough to the station that he could keep an eye out for Ris and Michel. The thought of Ris being in the Inquisitor’s hands left a bitter taste in his mouth. He should have never left her side.
“Demon’s balls,” he muttered, “quit worrying and get to it.” It wouldn’t do him any good to think about how badly things could go wrong.
A triple-chime sounded from the seerstone that hung around Aeron’s neck. He quickly glanced around before darting into a nearby alley. He didn’t need random passersby overhearing his conversation.
Once he was out of sight, he slipped the glowing orb out from under his shirt and focused his magic on it, a quick rat-a-tat-tat of drumbeats that filled the air and lit the seerstone from within.
“Have you arrived?” A pasty face appeared in the orb.
Aeron suppressed a sigh. The Voice of the Lady was a thorn in his side. Aeron wished for the return of the days before the Council had been formed. Before the Voice was appointed as head of the Bastion.
“Just now,” Aeron replied.
“Good.” The Voice hooked pale blond hair behind his ear. “As soon as you make contact with the girl, bring her to the Bastion. The Lord of Ravens may think he can protect her, but he’s proven to be a failure.”
Aeron clenched one hand until his knuckles cracked. The disrespect that modern paladins showed those left from the Lady’s fall had become a problem. “Bran is a Lord of Light. You—”
“You are relics of the past.” The Voice smiled coldly. “Do as you’re ordered. You know what happens if you fail.” The threat lingered in the Voice’s icy blue eyes; the hint to not step out of line clear as day. The seerstone darkened, taking the Voice’s unpleasant face with it.
Aeron clutched the crystal orb in his fist. Light, he hated that man. How had the Voice dug up secrets buried so far in the past? It could cost Aeron everything if those secrets came to light.
He clamped down on the frustration that threatened to overwhelm him. It wasn’t the time or the place to deal with it. The Voice had seen to it that Aeron’s hands were effectively tied. In the end, it didn’t mater where Ris ended up as long as she was safe. Raven’s Keep wasn’t any safer than the Bastion.
What truly worried Aeron was how Tolbert got permission to capture Ris in the first place. The Voice had assured him it was entirely the Council’s doing, but Aeron had his suspicions. Not that he could do anything about it. It was that helplessness that rankled the most.
Aeron returned to the dusty street. The Poor Man’s Pub deserved its name. The large front window was boarded over, probably a casualty of a late-night brawl. Clanging piano music rattled out from the swinging saloon doors, and shouted conversations competed for space in the noxious cigar smoke that clouded the dining hall in a perpetual haze.
It wasn’t a pretty place to eat, but the food was good, the dice games fruitful, and the women good looking. Aeron sat at an empty table and surveyed the room.
A waitress in a knee length ruffled skirt sashayed up to the table, her brown curls bouncing as she moved. “What’ll it be, sweetie?”
“What’s on the menu?” Aeron laid an aran on the table.
The waitress’s eyebrow rose a little when he pulled his hand back from the silver rod. “For that price, a bottle of our finest and Cookie’s special.”
“How about a room and the special? I don’t need the bottle.”
“Double it, and the room’s all yours, sweetie.” She gave him a sassy wink.
Aeron smiled and slid another silver rod onto the table. “Got anything to drink that’s not got a kick.”
She reached out and tapped the silver pin on Aeron’s collar. “We don’t get much call for it, but I keep a few bottles for the likes of you.” She wandered toward the bar, skillfully avoiding the hands of too-friendly customers.
The likes of him? Aeron fingered the pin that marked his rank as a paladin. Paladins tended to stick to the outposts in the Copper Hills, but the fact that she kept a special stock of drinks meant they came around enough to make an impression. That was worrisome.
He slipped the pin off his collar and put it in his pocket. No need to draw any more attention to the fact that he was a paladin.
The Voice wanted Ris in the Bastion. Why? The question had plagued Aeron ever since the Voice cornered him. Less than a handful of people knew about Ris, yet somehow the Voice had all of the information in tidy little file. How many others knew her secret? It made Aeron’s stomach twist with anxiety. He was Ris’s Cloak, meant to protect her secrets. Somehow, he’d failed and he had no idea how.
Tolbert had a loyal following in the Bastion. If the Voice knew about the plan to break Ris out, did Tolbert know as well? It was a complication that Aeron would need to take care of before Ris arrived.
The waitress plopped his meal down on the table along with a bottle of cider and a clean mug. She offered a flirtatious smile and wink, then dashed off to another table.
Cookie’s special consisted of a bowl of stew, fresh biscuits, and a generous dollop of butter. Aeron poked at the meat with his spoon, wondering what it really was. It didn’t matter. Food was food. Growing up, rat was common fare. He dug in, savoring the hearty flavor.
At the next table over, a dice game was in progress. Aeron watched with interest as a skinny, blond rolled seven dice, spilling them over the table. The man quickly scooped up three of the dice and got ready for another roll.
It’d been a while since Aeron had a chance to play. Bran had been a stickler about gambling. Every time he’d caught sight of Aeron playing cards at the Bear and Buzzard they’d ended up in a shouting match.
Playing a few rounds of dice would pass the time nicely until Ris’s train arrived.
“Oy, Gunther, one o’ them’s was a four not a six.” A burly miner in dusty overalls slapped a hand over the dice on the table. “You trying to cheat?”
Or maybe not.
Gunther offered a sly smile. “Ain’t got no proof, Les.”
“I got’s eyes. So does this lot.” Les pointed at the three other men at the table. The men in question shifted in their seats, looking away from Les.
Aeron polished off his stew quickly. From the look of things, Gunther had the other men in his pocket, and poor Les was going to end up with the short end of the stick. He knew the racket well. It was one he’d pulled many times. It was long past time to leave.
He caught the eye of the waitress and met her at the bar. “Which room is mine?”
“Top of the stairs, third door on the left.” She grabbed a key from a rack on the wall and dropped it in his hand.
“Thanks.” Aeron shoved the key in the pocket of his vest. “You got a back door?”
The waitress’s eyebrow rose and her lips quirked into a knowing smile. She cocked her head toward a set of swinging doors behind the bar.
Aeron slipped her another aran on his way by, smoothly depositing the silver rod in her hand as he ducked through the swinging doors and into the kitchen. He ignored the grey-haired cook and slipped out of the building and into the alleyway. The sounds of a brawl reached him when he hit the street.
Light, sometimes he missed his old life. Nothing got the blood pumping better than a good-old-fashioned brawl. If he wasn’t on the job, he might have stuck around to throw a few swings.