Chapter 1 (Sample)
The smell of burnt wood and despair assaulted Rain’s nose as she stepped through the portal into the cellar of the Gray Star Tavern.
Her expectations of seeing Pagdal, priest of Latarris, were instead met with a severed finger and a large pool of dried blood at her boots.
Having been raised by a true warrior, her Djini father, Rain understood in her heart the meaning of the empty room before her brain registered the danger.
The warrior eased herself across the room towards the stairs, moving from shadow to shadow, avoiding the glaring beams of light.
Sunshine from the upper floors, thought Rain, no roof.
Caifiel passed through the portal behind Rain, saw the warrior tensed at the bottom of the steps and froze, her brain still fuzzy from the spell she had used to get them back to Fallfell.
Rain took one step. The sounds of steel against steel had the warrior in no hurry to find out what waited above.
Caifiel’s adrenaline began to pound the fog from her brain, the enchantment replaced by one thought, “Pagdal!”
The priest raced to the stairs and flew up them. Rain managed to grab the rear of the girl’s cloak as she passed, but it ripped off in the warrior’s hand.
The warrior did not expect the priest to be so brave, or reckless, as to rush up into the unknown. Rain shook her head, “The gods gave more brains to sheep. They run away from danger.”
Half way up the stairs Rain slid Nightbane from its sheath and dropped her pack. Screams from the streets above did not hasten Rain’s climb up the stairwell.
A warrior that rushes into combat is defeated before the battle begins. That was just one of the many sayings her father spouted.
Rain peeked up through the opening. The Gray Star Tavern was only a scorched-out shell of its former self. The stained-glass windows were gone, the ornately hand-carved doors burned out of their frames. The plush furniture customers used to ease their pains, gone. Portions of the building still smoked.
Through what used to be one of the windows, Rain watched chaos moving across the streets of Fallfell. A scream, clearly that of a child, forced the warrior out into the road.
Three riders, laden heavy with studded leather, corralled a small group of women and children across the street from the warrior.
“You! Orc piss!”