Friday, July 30, 2010

Adult Excerpt: Rise to Power by Lena Austin

Rise to Power

Author: Lena Austin
Artist: Celia Kyle
ISBN: 978-1-60168-205-5
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Publication Date: 05/01/09
Sexual Content: Erotic scenes
Author's note: While this book will stand alone, this is a sequel to After the Flood 1: Blood & Magic. Some of the more subtle nuances may escape you without reading Blood & Magic first.

“Never anger a woman’s sense of wrong.”
 The Herd Stallion, Talamar wants revenge on Tanne for humiliations in the past, and is aware that Tanne is the only serious rival for the “throne” of Herd Stallion. The Valley is outraged by the coming birth of Kella’s unicorn-vampire child, and the introduction of a human into the Valley. The opportunity he’s been waiting for is at hand.  Tanne will be exiled, leaving a pregnant Kella to face the anger of the vampires and the unicorns.
 What is the most dangerous creature in the world? A female predator, defending her offspring.  What’s the most dangerous creature in the Valley? A very angry vampire sorceress defending her children.

Tanne’s guilt made him return to the place of exile time and again, peering through the shield wall as if he expected to actually see something. He felt sorry for Mijara, the exiled priestess, and hoped someday to arrange for her return, should she continue to prove herself redeemed.
Weeks went by, and of course, he saw nothing. Then, one afternoon, he stopped by after a healing. Dread seeped into his soul and sat like a lead weight in his heart.
The forest was burned significantly, and still smoldered in some locations, even right up to the edge of the shield itself. Mijara’s hut stood on the edge, untouched by the forest fire. Two small circles of green grass where a meadow had once stood each contained a body. The untouched areas were clearly what was left when mages put up personal shields.
Tanne wagered that the hut was unburned because Mijara had had the good sense to layer protections on her little home. She might have been only an herb healer, but she’d still been a full priestess. Warding spells were easily within the limited scope of her powers. 
In the center, Tanne could see two bodies, one likely dead. It was a charred hulk on the ground, but he could tell no more through the veil. However, the other body was unmarked by fire, and as he watched, one hand twitched feebly. One of the mages still lived.
Tanne’s healer instincts kicked in, foolish as they were. He mind called for Jona, now long his faithful assistant in healing, and awaited his arrival.
A small puff of displaced air told him Jona arrived by teleportation. “Yes, Father?”
Tanne turned from the horrific images. He pointed beyond the shield. “Mage battle. One burn victim, one corpse.”
His son’s soft brown eyes hardened to stone. “That’s where Mijara and Leonus were exiled. What has that idiot done now? Can you see if Mijara lives?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but stepped forward. “Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. Let’s go.”
Tanne stepped through the shield wall with his eldest son, each carrying their healer’s kits. They picked their way carefully through the burned area, avoiding all the smoking spots that warned them away from areas still hot. The stench of smoke was thick and hurt their lungs, but it was easy enough to manifest a small breeze to ease their throats without fanning the fire back to life.
Jona reached the unburned body first, and turned him over to assess his hurts and identity. “Father, this one is human.”
The discovery took Tanne aback quite a bit. Human mages did not often venture this way. Tanne knelt beside his son. The human was badly wounded, with claw marks to tell them an earth elemental had done the damage. His face would bear the scars for life, and his left arm was broken in at least two places. He drew breath and moaned when Jona pulled his sleeve back to examine the arm, so they knew him to be alive still.
Jona left Tanne to finish the examination of the human’s injuries while he went to check on the charred remains of the other mage.
“Well, Father, this one is clearly dead, so I’d say your patient was the victor of this mage battle,” Jona said with some irony. The burned body was also facedown, so Jona turned it over. His shout rang out. “Father! It is -- er, was -- the high priest Leonus!”
Tanne glanced up in time to see Jona lift the golden sun disk pectoral Leonus had insisted on taking with him. The priest’s symbol of office was badly melted, but still recognizable. “Are you sure, son? Check the teeth of the skull, if you can.” 
A few moments later, Jona’s voice answered with cool impersonality. “Yes, it is a vampire’s teeth. The fangs are intact.”
A thought struck Tanne. “Jona, search the hut. Mijara may be inside, or nearby.” Jona nodded and left. Tanne continued to bandage what he could of the human’s injuries and pondered what to do about him.
The Valley was a sanctuary for all, but there would certainly be some tension over a full human being in their midst. Of course, when he was healed, if he chose to leave, they would alter his memories. He could choose to forget all he had seen, or remember his stay only as a dream. Humans made everyone a bit nervous. Their aggressive ways and greed were too dangerous.
Tanne shuddered and briefly considered leaving the human to be cared for by his own kind. Then he chuckled at his own prejudices. “Be better than that, fool,” he admonished himself. “By technicalities, this is an intelligent, magic-using creature. He fits the parameters of admittance.”
Another shout rang out from Jona. “Father! Come quickly! Mijara is hurt, as well!”
The human was stable, though badly damaged, and Tanne had bandaged what he could. He left the human lying there and ran to the hut. Jona, his face sickened, knelt next to Mijara’s still form on the floor of the tiny hut. Her face was a mass of bruises, and one eye was blackened and swollen shut. One arm was clearly broken, but had been splinted.
“I feel great pity, for some of these bruises are old and yellowed, as if done some time before. New bruises layered over old shows me Leonus didn’t take kindly to his exile. He apparently took his frustrations out on Mijara.”
If Leonus were not already dead ... Tanne wished he could enact similar painful injuries on him. He clenched his fist and fought the urge to pummel the burned corpse in a frustrated need for justice.
“She’s alive, Father. Rules be damned. We heal, and we don’t take sides in battles that are not our concern. I say we take them back into the Valley for proper treatment.”
Pity for two beings who’d tangled with Leonus warred briefly with the laws of the Valley. “Talamar wouldn’t like this.” Tanne smiled at his vampire son’s ferocious snarl at the hated name. “I know and I agree, Jona. It is right to care for the injured. We’ll deal with the broken laws as we must.”

"Write Drunk..., Edit Sober..." Ernest Hemingway
Lena Austin

1 comment:

misskallie2000 said...

Some post. Sounds like a great book.


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