I am still in the editing process of my 4th book in the Realm of Ashenclaw series entitled TOWER OF TORMENT and thought that I would offer up a snippet of the upcoming novel in its rawest of forms to whet your appetite.
I am still hoping for a late 2013 release date. The following is the very beginning section of the Prologue. I hope you enjoy!
|Rose Thorne by WIlliam Kenney|
He chewed on his breakfast, a well-made roasted duck being the main course, as he sat comfortably at the rear of the Steel Dragon. He sat alone, watching through the dusty window at the crowd of passersby.
He was waiting for her. He knew she was coming. He could feel it.
He sat at a large table made of the finest oaks of the town’s namesake and rapped his knuckle on it as if to reassure its quality. He absently sipped a bit of his honey spiced wine and frowned at its bitter flavor this day. He fondled a slice of crisp apple that rested on his plate beside a portion of the partially eaten duck and shoved the plate aside. His stomach was churning with anticipation.Several of his men stood behind him at the ready and several more sat at adjacent tables, eating and expertly blending in with the crowd. Their subterfuge however, would do them all no good he realized, stifling a smile and knowing that she would recognize them for what they were as soon as she laid eyes upon them. She might actually find it amusing. Nonetheless, he decided that it would be practical to maintain some semblance of normalcy.His confirmation of her loyalty after speaking with both Nimaira and Tiyarnon softened his anger, he admitted. From what he could tell she had not offered any information about his den of rogues or anything that might even incriminate him to the Council.He summoned a serving wench with a snap of his fingers.“Yes, my lord?” she said with a respectful bow.“I’d like a refill,” he stated, holding his mug in the air. She gingerly grasped the outstretched mug and he snatched her hand at the same time and forced her into his lap. She landed softly and with a giggle, never spilling a drop.“Quite good you are with the pitcher,” he offered as a compliment.“I’m good at many thin—““I hope you are going to pay for that, Ganthorpe Randolph,” called a gruff voice from behind them, interrupting the woman before she could finish her flirtation. This was followed by a bellowing laugh. He turned to witness the proprietor of the Steel Dragon, Fabian Oxborn.
Fabian was a bear of a man with dark skin and hair to match and a thick shock of a beard that ran halfway down his chest. He wore an apron that was soiled with all kinds of stains and his odor was born of a mix of spices, most of them pleasing to the senses.“Of course I won’t,” Ganthorpe barked with a forced smile, gently lifting the girl from his lap and setting her upright before finding his own footing and standing out of respect “I’d still love a refill of that wine, though,” he added to the serving girl with a sideways glance.“No need to get up,” interrupted Fabian with a wave of his hand, gesturing for him to be seated again.“Then you sit, too,” Ganthorpe instructed with a gesture in return. The big man slowly lowered himself onto the chair, which creaked under his weight.“Still eating a bit too much into your own profits I see,” suggested Ganthorpe through a laugh and nodding toward the man’s bulbous belly.Fabian rubbed his stomach and smiled, “indeed.” Suddenly his smile disappeared and he licked his lips.
“What is it?”“I’ve some news,” said the big man, leaning in. Ganthorpe's icy blue eyes hardened, losing all signs of his light-hearted appearance from a mere heartbeat ago and regarded him coldly. He nodded, indicating for Fabian to continue as he looked about, seeing none but his own guards surrounding them. Fabian leaned in close to him, as best as his belly would allow and spoke in a whisper.“There’s rumors that yer girl is back. The one that’s been missing.”Ganthorpe eyed him steadily, his expression never changing. “And where did you hear this?”“An informant I have in the Commons. An old wretch of a man that would trade his own mother for a bottle of me cheapest rum.”“And how can you believe this…'wretch'…as you call him? Not that I doubt the information is true.”“Said he seen her wandering around the Street of Jackals. Appropriate name if ya’ ask me,” he said as he picked up a piece of chopped apple, sniffed it and tossed it into his mouth. Ganthorpe said nothing again, staring at the man who chewed the apple loudly and slumped into his chair.So Helgoth has not completed his task yet, he mused, a smile involuntarily creeping across his face. She’s not gonna’ go down without a fight. He glanced up at the weighty man seated across the table and returned his attention to him.“Well, thanks for the good word, Fabian.”With that, Ganthorpe stood and stared deep within the shadowed recesses of the hall leading back to the kitchen.
He caught a glimmer of auburn hair just then as it disappeared within the darkness.His heart skipped a beat, began to race suddenly, and he became flush.She is here!“Are you alright?”Ganthorpe turned and regarded the huge man who stared at him. He blinked at him a few times before realizing he’d asked him a question.“Of course,” he lied, straightening his jerkin and running a hand through his dark hair. He sat back down in the chair and leaned in close again.“I need to make use of your private office.”Fabian looked at him queerly and then nodded. “Of course ya’ can use it. Do I—““No...no questions asked. Just give me the key. Or don’t. Either way.” Fabian reached below the collar of his apron and removed a chain with a key dangling on its end. He handed it to Ganthorpe who accepted it absently and looked to his guards. “Stay here. I will return soon enough.”His men also looked at him as if they all wanted to question him, but none of them uttered a word.He nodded to them and proceeded up several flights of stairs to Fabian’s private office, inserted the key, turned the knob and walked in. The space was bathed in shadow as it only had one window on the opposite side of the room from the door. Fabian had it built that way as the man was more than a bit distrustful. And reasonably so, as he operated an illicit gambling setup as well as a delightful kitchen.“Hello, lover boy.”
His heart skipped a beat. A shadowy figure emerged from the recesses of the darkness and a flash of auburn hair shone briefly in the light of the window.
“Are you trying to have me killed?”
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