It’s cover reveal time! We are so happy to present Heir of Koradin, Book 2 in the Chasmaria Series by Lisa Dunn. This sequel to Grit of Berth and Stone will be available on August 4th, 2015. Scroll down for an exclusive peek at the first chapter!
Heir of Koradin, The Second Book of Chasmaria
by Lisa Dunn
Surge, Anaiah Press
Dagger of Willow and Strike has waited a lifetime to return to the village of his birth. He’s been promised the throne of Koradin, but getting captured by his treacherous sire wasn’t part of the plan. Dagger needs a miracle to turn his childhood dreams into reality—And Grit of Berth and Stone might be that miracle.
Unfortunately for him, Grit’s stuck in the rival village of Thresh, and she’s in way over her head. Having bluffed her way into commanding an army of incompetents, she’s useless to Dagger if her new recruits don’t learn the right end of a sword. To make matters worse, Dagger’s sire seeks Grit’s life, and there’s no telling when he’ll return to Thresh to finish what he started when he killed her dame.
But freedom calls through shifting alliances, and neither Dagger’s disillusionment nor Grit’s doubt can keep the armies of Koradin and Thresh from war.
Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com/LDunn.html
As a child, Lisa Dunn fell asleep to her father’s fanciful bedtime tales and played with her own story ideas during the daylight hours. She now resides in a small southern town with her husband, four children, and an ever-changing assortment of pets. Local librarians habitually thank her for their job security.
Fealty stumbled, but Dagger held fast. When the mare regained her footing, Dagger dismounted. Despite the coolness of the Mid-Chasmarian Forest, sweat soaked the horse’s chestnut coat. Dagger patted her neck, then bent to examine her leg. He placed two fingers across the back of Fealty’s lower leg, just above the fetlock, and let out a low whistle. Beneath his fingertips, Fealty’s blood pulsed at an unhealthy rate.
“It’s no good.” Dagger scratched his head and pulled at his thick black hair. The mare whinnied and shifted her weight off her inflamed front foot. Dagger removed the saddle, set it on the ground, and unfastened the bridle. The decision was a rotten one, but there was nothing else to be done. Fealty was a smart beast. She could find her way home.
“It’s the best I can do for you. Make your way to Castle Concord. Kinsmon will tend your hoof.” He patted Fealty’s shoulder, and the horse limped away, her awkward gait quickening with each step.
If only Dagger could retreat to Castle Concord himself. Kinsmon had promised the throne of Koradin, but was it really his? All those years of watching and waiting, soaking up all the information he could gather, seemed endless, almost vain. Now they seemed too little time to learn all he needed to be king. Yet Kinsmon’s promises never failed. It was futile, foolish even, to consider anything but going on, even without Fealty. He couldn’t retreat.
Leaving the saddle and bridle to be recovered later, Dagger adjusted the pack that hung at his side, drew his cloak around his body, and continued on foot. Scarlett would probably go into hysterics when Fealty returned to the castle without him, but Kinsmon would support her. Dagger clenched his jaw. No more thoughts of Scarlett. He had a sire to sway and a village to liberate.
In the afternoon light filtered through rust colored leaves and in the caressing breeze, Scarlett seemed just beyond his reach. Though his eyes were on his map of Koradin, Dagger’s mind was all on Scarlett. One more step, two at most, and he would be with her again. Such a short time, and yet too long ago, he’d held her soft, ivory hands outside the stables of Castle Concord.
“I’ve grown so weary of good-byes.” Her voice had trembled. Tears pooled in her green eyes.
He’d taken her in his arms, felt her lips on his cheek, tasted the salty tear that fell upon his lip. Then, he left her. Scarlett would suppose him dead. A knot formed in his stomach. Could she bear such a thought?
The snap of a twig shattered Dagger’s reverie. A dark mass flew at him. Before Dagger could draw his sword, thick arms encircled his torso, pinning his elbows to his side. He struggled, but the man pressed tighter around him. A second man relieved him of his pack and sword. In the scuffle, Dagger’s map, sketched by a kitchen maid escaped from Koradin’s dungeon, fluttered to the ground.
He kicked at his assailants, but to no avail. One held him from behind. The other stood a few paces off, just out of reach of Dagger’s boot.
Dagger threw his head against the first man’s burly chest. The one who’d confiscated Dagger’s belongings stooped to pick up the map. He squinted at the delicately scrawled writing, his brow drawn together. His brown eyes met Dagger’s. Had they met before? A thousand faces passed through Castle Concord. This one was entirely new.
The man held Dagger’s gaze only for an instant before rolling the map and shoving it into his pocket.
Dagger took a deep breath. He ought to have known better. Even in peacetime, the Northern Forest, with its feuding villages of blustering, would-be warriors, was no place to be caught off guard. Losing one’s head came immediately before losing one’s life. Anyone with sense knew that. With his body restrained, he’d have to rely on wits and words. He relaxed in his captor’s arms. “I’ve done you no wrong, men. Release me, return my belongings, and allow me to continue on my way.”
“Another piece of Threshan scum, no doubt.” The first man yanked Dagger’s arms behind his back and bound his wrists with rope, much tighter than necessary. The coarse rope dug into his skin, but Dagger offered no resistance, nor did he correct the man’s error. Let them think he came from Thresh. The mistake might be safer than the truth. Even so, no one ever went willingly with one’s assailants.
“This is a grave misunderstanding,” Dagger said.
“Silence. You won’t talk your way out of this.” The second man slid a burlap sack over Dagger’s head, his sleeves falling back to reveal intricate tattoos wrapped around his arms. He grabbed Dagger’s elbow and led him forward. From behind, the first man shoved Dagger to his knees.
“That won’t be necessary, Thorn.” The second man pulled Dagger to his feet.
Thorn laughed. “Ah, Glaive, are you soft on the Threshan scum?”
Glaive’s hand tightened on Dagger’s elbow. “Not in the least, but you’re a fool to make our task more difficult. You know how Strike feels about efficiency. Besides, every second we waste waiting for him to regain his footing is a second longer I must wait for my dinner.”
Thorn nudged Dagger in the small of his back, but not as roughly as before. “You hear that, Threshan scum? Step to it. Glaive’s hungry. To Koradin’s dungeon you go.”
Koradin. At least if everything else had gone wrong, he was still heading in the right direction. But what credibility did he have as a prisoner? If only he could see, he might make an escape. He might yet face Strike as a free man.
“Could you remove the sack? It stinks of rot.”
“If you’d keep your mouth shut, it wouldn’t bother you so much,” Glaive said.
After what seemed an eternity of marching with Thorn periodically jabbing his back, the ground hardened beneath Dagger’s feet. No longer did he walk through dried leaves or upon soft earth. They must have arrived at a road, most surely the Koradin-Thresh Highway. Soon, he heard the rushing of a river through the moldy burlap. His muscles tensed at the sound of the tumbling waters.
“Are we crossing the Jubilee River?”
Glaive dug his fingers into Dagger’s arm and propelled him forward.
“Do not speak,” he said, a sharpness in his voice that Dagger had not noticed before.
They continued without talking. Thorn’s footfalls sounded steadily behind them. Finally, Glaive guided Dagger down a flight of stairs. Cool, dank air filtered through the burlap as they descended into the lower levels of Koradin’s outer wall. He’d seen the fortified village from a distance during his many journeys across Chasmaria, but never had he been inside the fortress, his instructions having been simply to watch and wait. He stumbled on the bottom step.
Glaive steadied him. “Just a little farther.”
Thorn pushed past Dagger, bumping his shoulder. Keys jingled, wood scraped against rock, and Glaive prodded Dagger forward. After the door latched behind them, Glaive pulled the burlap sack from Dagger’s head.
Dagger’s eyes focused in the dim light. Two torches lit the dungeon in sconces on either side of the closed door and one on the far wall above an empty, crumbling hearth. An old wooden table and chairs sat in the center of the room. Glaive loosened his grip and marched Dagger toward the far wall. Eight cells, divided from one another by metal bars, lined each side of the dungeon. Dagger peered into the shadows, but could make out little more than rumpled human shapes. In the second to last cell, a middle-aged woman gripped the bars so tightly they’d never pry her fingers from the metal if she died that way.
“Welcome home, Threshan scum.” Thorn opened wide the door to the corner cell. He shook his bearded head and chuckled to himself.
Glaive pressed his hand between Dagger’s shoulder blades. Even if Dagger could bolt from the cell, they’d surely catch him before he could open the heavy dungeon door. Wits and words. At the moment, Dagger had neither. He moved forward, turning as soon as the pressure of Glaive’s hand lessened. Thorn shoved the barred door shut with a slam and turned the key. Without another word, the warriors left. Dagger faced his back to the bars and stood in the middle of his cell for a full minute, staring at the stone wall. Glaive was right. He couldn’t talk himself out of this one.
There must be a way out. A square of blue sky was visible through a window, too high and small to offer escape. Dagger pulled at his hair. It was all wrong. He was meant to be king, not captive. What bargain could a prisoner make with the ruler of Koradin?
He held the triangular shard of weathered glass, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Its simple shape and smooth edges always comforted him. Somehow, the pendant made sense. Even in this hopeless situation, it soothed his spirit. It would all come out right. It had to. They took his map and his sword, but they didn’t take his necklace. They couldn’t take his necklace. Kinsmon’s promises couldn’t be stolen. Even Grit, fresh-plucked from her humble village, knew that. Somehow, it would all come out right.