Excerpt from upcoming epic fantasy novel the Gates of Fire and Earth
I’m working on my final edits for the next book I will release, the Gates of Fire and Earth. I’m so excited as this book is behind schedule … because it just has refused to behave. Even the edits were the MOST challenging that I’ve ever undertaken. Thank goodness this will be my twelfth book. I may have given up on this book long ago if I didn’t know to remain patient and persistent.
I could go on and on about plot holes, element mismatches between front and back, and then having to align everything (or make sure it aligns properly) to the four books that came before! OMG, the work involved has been huge.
See, the Gates of Fire and Earth is the second book in the Games of Fire trilogy, which is the second trilogy set in my fantasy world of Myrrah. The three books making up the Rise of the Fifth Order trilogy came first. Even though there is time between the two series and a whole new set of problems, the characters remain the same and many of the interactions and lingering angst from what happened in the first three books, so reading them does help.
Which made me wonder where I should start releasing excerpts? With Born of Water, book 1 of the Rise of the Fifth Order? But I’m excited about my new book!
I’m totally giving in to excitement. This book will be coming out within the next month and I just want to share. And have been! Early feedback of advance excerpts released to my mailing list have been awesome, ranging from “high-octane fantasy” to “I’m really excited for the whole book to come out!” So, yay!
So if you haven’t read the previous books, I hope you can enjoy the excerpt for the excitement and fantasy it holds. And if you want to check out the first books, you can pick up Born of Water for free and join my mailing list so that you get those exclusive advance excerpts too at www.autumnbooks.co/get-free-book/. Now on to the excerpt!
Gates of Fire and Earth
Book 2 of Games of Fire Trilogy
THE HIDDEN GATES
“You did not defeat Isha.”
Keifa’kana loomed over Riva from where she stared upwards in defiance, bits of marsh mud and reeds drying on her skin under the desert sun from where she lay prone at the gates of the Ashanti city. For a moment, Behk’sah expected to hear Kefa’bey protest that Riva did not know the Ashanti ways, and that a Water Elemental who served Isha was not a threat. But Kefa’bey was dead. Behk’sah had killed him.
“Do you think she is greater than us because she found friends to aid her?” Keifa’kana growled. The walls of Ekhaba shimmered with the anger of the Ashanti king.
Behk’sah had never thought Keifa’kana strong in elemental power, but the connection he had to Ekhaba that allowed him to conjure the desert city in the marsh was a feat beyond Behk’sah. Ekhaba moved furthest on its rulers whim. Though it had been faint and fragile when it had appeared above the marsh. But it had come and the Ashanti had left, access to the spirit realm denied to them once again.
Riva looked away, refusing to answer Keifa’kana’s question. He grabbed her chin and yanked until she faced him.
“What else do you know of the spirit realm?” he demanded in a hiss.
“That I look forward to the day you are there!”
Keifa’kana backhanded her. Blue flared around Riva as she called upon her power, but there was little water in the desert and none that the Ashanti didn’t control. Which is what gave Behk’sah the idea.
“Leave her,” Behk’sah said, catching Keifa’kana’s arm as he moved to hit Riva again.
For a moment the eyes of his ruler and long time friend stayed wild and dark. The agony of having lost the path to save his newborn daughter from a short life of duty and little joy overwhelmed his reason. But then the tension slipped from Keifa’kana. He looked down at the Water Elemental prone in the sand of the great desert that stretched from horizon to horizon, its color a pale echo of the vibrant sun scorching overhead.
Keifa’kana snorted and booted Riva into the hot expanse of the desert then turned his back on her. The world outside Ekhaba shifted. But only someone who knew the desert would see the gray tinge in the sky to the west and know it was from the sea or notice the dunes here held brown pebbles and formed low humps compared to the piled mountains of sand in the deep desert.
“How long should we leave her?” Keifa’kana asked. Impatience glinted in his eye.
“She never left the marsh before. I imagine a Water Elemental lost in Ak’Ashanti’s embrace will not take long to convince to cooperate,” Behk’sah answered.
Keifa’kana nodded before walking toward the central palace. “We will check on her at sun’s height. You should see your sister and niece. Lyra’shoo learned to say her first word while you were gone.”
The news dropped Behk’sah to the ground. So soon. The child grew, time passed, and they had lost their first chance to save her. When Behk’sah could walk steadily without guilt and fear weighing his steps, he followed Keifa’kana to the palace to greet his sister and her daughter.
Lyra watched him with clever dark eyes, the power whisping around her a harbinger of great abilities as she aged. Within a month she would control the sparks that danced chaotically about the room, just as she would be able to walk. Such was the ways of the Ashanti and all Behk’sah knew. If he hadn’t known short lives were a punishment for a past great transgression, he wondered if he’d be content to watch his niece grow into the promise she held. For the tiny fragment of time he’d be alive to see it.
No. There could be no denying the fate placed on the Ashanti by Mhyrah was wrong and cruel. Lyra’shoo deserved more. All the Ashanti deserved more time than a lucky ten years. Behk’sah hid his growing anger while he visited his sister and niece, but Keifa’kana watched him with eyes that held the same thoughts and pain.
“We will not fail again,” Behk’sah said as he and Keifa’kana left the nursery.
Keifa’kana remained silent as they walked the windswept streets of a nearly empty city. Each echoing footfall reminded Behk’sah of the lost city of Ramen and of the approaching and matching fate of Ekhaba.
“You are certain there is another way?” Keifa’kana asked as they paused at the gate.
“Riva called it the gate to the spirit realm of water. If there is a gateway for water, there will be one for the other elements too.”
“Five gates …” Keifa’kana closed his eyes for a moment, hope loosening the tight muscles of his face. “We have four more chances.”
“We need only one,” Behk’sah answered before stepping into the desert.
Riva lay half buried in the sand, her exposed skin enflamed red. For a frightened moment, Behk’sah thought her dead. But as Keifa’kana pulled her upright and lifted his hand to her lips, water filling the hollow of his palm as he conjured it out of the dry air, Riva’s dazed eyes filled with awe.
“Drink,” Keifa’kana said gently. “Slowly, or you will choke. Let it moisten your tongue. It is swollen almost as large as your throat, yes?”
Riva nodded as she paused from taking small, hungry sips. She tried to speak, but her lips cracked from dryness and sun. No sound other than a rasp came. Even her blood had lost its moisture, bubbling to the surface of her split lips, but not spilling a droplet. Keifa’kana sighed, placing his free hand on her forehead. She winced but then froze as Keifa’kana’s power flowed through her. The blistered redness of her skin faded, returning to dusky paleness.
“How do you have this power?” Riva whispered, able to speak again. She knelt in the sand at Keifa’kana’s feet.
“Only the goddess …”
“We are like the great goddess,” Keifa’kana answered soothingly. “Help us return to the spirit realm so that we can right the wrong done to our people.”
Riva shook her head, shying away as her eyes turned dark. “But it was Mhyrah who punished you. Isha stood against you. Whatever you have done must have been horrid. I cannot help you.”
Keifa’kana grabbed her by her dark hair, pulling her upright until her neck stretched long. “Tell me or it is you who will feel what the punishment of a god can be.”
“Will you leave me in the sun again? To what? Come back and heal me?” Riva met Keifa’kana’s angry gaze without fear.
“Very well,” Keifa’kana answered. He drew a knife and plunged it into her gut.
Riva slumped forward as he withdrew the blade, hesitating as if tempted to stab the woman again. Blood flowed from her like the marsh’s water, staining her dress and the sand at Keifa’kana’s feet.
“Tell me what you know of the other gates and I will heal you. I will save your life,” Keifa’kana said as he tightened his fingers still entwined in her hair.
Tears spilled from Riva’s eyes as blood dribbled from her trembling lip. For a moment, Behk’sah saw a spark of rebelliousness flash in her eyes and thought she’d fight still. Her death would gain them nothing. But then Riva sobbed and clutched at Keifa’kana’s hand that held her upright.
“There are five gates,” she said hurriedly. “I’ve seen them when I was in the spirit realm.”
“Where are they?” Keifa’kana growled.
“I don’t know!” Riva cried, coughing on blood. “I’ve never been outside the marsh. I don’t know where they are in the world.”
“But you saw them. Through them?” Behk’sah said. “What did you see?”
“There is a place of darkness that holds fire, and a place of dryness and dust that holds earth. A place of rock and vast water that holds air, and a place of mist and spirits that holds life.”
“How does that help us?” Keifa’kana said, shaking her with such force that clumps of her hair came loose in his hand.
Riva cupped her hands against her injured belly, wincing with each rough movement. “Heal me,” she whispered. He opened his hand and she fell into the bloody sand at his feet. “Heal me and I will help you find the places I saw.”
Keifa’kana stood over her a moment. “What you have told us, that is all you know?”
Riva gave a tearful nod. “If I knew where they were, I would tell you.”
“You should have answered the first time I asked.” Keifa’kana knelt next to her and drove his gilt dagger into her heart.
For a moment, Keifa’kana and Behk’sah stood in their golden desert in silence over the body of the Water Elemental. “Are there others we can question?” Keifa’kana finally asked.
“Not easily,” Behk’sah admitted. Yet when he turned to Keifa’kana he smiled. “But I know a place we can go that may have answers.”