Feast your eyes on this tasty excerpt from my upcoming New Adult Fantasy novel, Rebel Elements.
The pale-skinned stranger set a crested lantern on the stump next to Savitu and waited to speak until his blond-braided men had gathered and set down their boxes. A ring of slender shadows hugged the tiny clearing.
Savitu eyed the lantern’s crest.
“No.” The visitor used the Karkhedonian dialect, though his height and brown curls marked him as Waarden. “The Hegemon didn’t send me. A distant cousin of his once saved my life. You know him as Isos. My name is Marco.”
Savitu glanced at his cousins, who stood by the tree line. Mitlik wore an appraising look, wary of anyone of Waarden ethnicity, and with good reason. Qisuk’s expression was superior, as if by possessing broader shoulders and a more muscular chest, he automatically dispelled any threat the curly-haired stranger might present.
“I heard you weren’t happy with your current situation,” Marco continued. “I’m not either. Perhaps we can come to an understanding?”
Savitu eyed the dozen blond men behind Marco. Would they attack? Could Savitu’s hidden loyalists get him to safety if they did? “Does Isos know you’ve brought me gifts?” Marco stepped back in surprise, eyes raking Savitu’s person. “Isos didn’t inform you that I was a eunuch, then,” Savitu said, hating the sound of his high voice just as much as he had for the last fifteen years.
Marco’s eyes rested on Savitu’s Raqtaaq features—dusty copper skin and long black hair. “You’re a Second.”
“They let it hurt for Seconds.” Savitu’s hand indicated his cousins as well.
Marco winced. “The Waarden Emperor did that to you.” Hatred coiled behind his words.
“You know what we want,” Savitu said. “What is it you want?”
The Waarden’s dark eyes shifted to Mitlik and Qisuk. The lantern’s soft light made Marco’s face appear too young for a beard, but the flickering glow couldn’t hide the aging around his eyes. Savitu had seen similar signs of unwanted experiences in his own grooming mirror.
“You still have family, despite your fate. I have no one,” Marco said. “What I want is what you want, except that I want it for everyone.”
Marco gestured, and his men pried the tops off the boxes they had brought. Savitu’s breath caught at the sight of so many sharp, glittering points. His cousins approached to view the gifts.
“That’s not iron.” Mitlik frowned.
“It’s better than iron,” Marco said. “It guarantees success, if we use it right.”
Savitu blinked, absorbing the idea. “This will not be a swift victory.”
Marco finally smiled. “I have nothing but time.”
Rebel Elements will be available in February.