A greeting to all of you! I am trusting that your new year has been favorable so far. If it has, great! If it hasn't, well, I'm sorry (but at least it isn't my fault....). This year is set to bring many changes, and many new things. We're going to have a new president, I'm going to get new shoes, hopefully Wal-mart will reconsider its change of new colors, and..... I will be releasing book two of the Chronicles of Vrandalin!
Now, for those of you wondering the 'when', it'll be a bit later on in the year, towards early summer if my computer holds out (but hopefully before then). For those of you wondering furthermore, this will be the conclusion to this story. There will not, I repeat, will NOT be a trilogy. So anybody who was fearing that can rest easy. I'll be writing other stories for your reading pleasure afterward (of course) but that will be after this story. But I feel bad. Wanna know why? (*No, we don't, please keep it to yoursel--*) You do?! Awesome! Okay, well, I feel bad because the sequel to Strife of the Mighty was supposed to already be out. But complications, deferred remunerations, and an illness or two, have gone on behind the scenes and, well, it's just a lot harder to write a book than it is to read one. I wish to conclude this tale with a bang, as it were, and not one or two surprises. So please believe me when I say that I am working hard to not disappoint (both you guys and myself).
However, I do still feel bad for the long wait that many of you who've read Strife of the Mighty some time ago are being forced to endure. Therefore, to that end, I am posting, for your viewing pleasure, a sample of a chapter from book two! It'll give you guys an idea of what's going on, and hopefully leave you fired up for book two's release. Mind you, it is rough and still in manuscript form, so pray forgive any shortcomings.
(The sample is not really that spoilery for those who haven't yet read book one, but do keep in mind that it is mainly intended for those who have. If you've not yet read it, you can pick up a copy here)
"In the western end of the city of Mariz, crouching behind the brickwork of a partially broken wall, Parma the healer released a silent breath. The night was cool and dark around her, but very quiet, amplifying any sounds that disturbed it to a detrimental volume. To her keen ears at any rate. One of the loud, careless, and empty-headed persons that made up the city would probably not have noticed anything if a troop of peddlers wearing wooden shoes had tried to tip-toe by on the lane of stone. Such things were beyond them. Tonight held a watchfulness and the feeling of waiting.
It was a hunter’s night, and Parma was hunting.
But from which way will the prey come? she thought. And when? She was very patient, of course, but she was on the outskirts of a rather large area. There were many ways from which a thief could secretly enter the quarter where the villagers of Varalel and Creath were housed. This had been proven several times— hence the reason why Parma crouched hidden in the dark against a cold, brick wall with a staff in her hand and a pouch at her side instead of lying asleep in a warm bed.
Four bandits had now struck on three different occasions, making off with clothing, livestock, and food belonging to the villagers under Parma’s watch. The first incident had been taken as an ill surprise and a lesson learned, but when the agitators had struck again two days later there had been a brawl between them and a few of the southeasterners, the latter party taking the far greater injury. And now, only a few hours ago, Lora Billows had been threatened by a darkly dressed figure in a mask as she had been returning from the market. Parma had had enough.
She guessed that it had now been about five hours since sunset and the beginning of her vigil, having made an attempt to keep up somewhat of a count as she had moved between vantage points. It was a large area to prowl, but she was not exactly on her own. Besides advising the folk of Creath and Varalel to institute watchers to help guard and protect their own, she had selected some to join in her effort. These were currently stationed in similar points of watch throughout that part of Mariz’s western end. Parma had been crouched in her current spot for about forty minutes, and in that time had seen and heard nothing unusual. She glanced at the sky, then rose to her feet and stretched. It was time to change position.
Just then, there rose a collection of cries from within the villagers’ quarters. Leaping forward, Parma dashed down the lane back toward the inhabited area. Letting the yells guide her, she sped past buildings and houses in which lights were beginning to appear, rounded a bend, cut through an ally, and entered a torch-lit square. About ten Varalelans were there, wielding hatchets, brooms, or clubs, and yelling at the top of their lungs as they made sorties at four figures garbed in black hoods and cloaks. But though the strangers were outnumbered, it was immediately clear to Parma that they were in little danger.
Three of them—men she realized by their bearing—brandished long swords, and these they used to deflect the clumsy attacks of the villagers with ease. The fourth held in either hand a short but curved dagger, and moved with greater aggression. Even as Parma hurried toward them she heard a cry of pain from one of the Varalelans and saw the man stagger back, clutching his bleeding side. But there was no mistaking the litheness with which this one moved; the person was definitely a woman.
“Hai!” shouted the healer, and she sprang into the fray. Numbers were against her, but she went instinctively for the largest of the group. She struck her staff against his knees with a force that caused his whole body to jerk forward. Flicking her arm up, she cracked the end of the rod against his jaw. As his limp form fell, she swung at her next foe. He was fast, bringing his sword up to intercept her strike in a blink. But at the last instant, Parma twisted the staff in mid-air, jerked it to a barely perceived stop, and then rammed it straight down onto her opponent’s right foot. Toes crunched beneath it.
Knowing better than to press her fortune, she leapt back and out of reach as the remaining two moved against her. “Form a circle!” Parma ordered the Varalelans. “Push them against a wall!”
The villagers did their best to obey, rallying themselves into a more sound formation. At this, the postures of the hooded figures tensed, but they did not give ground. Even the man whose toes Parma had broken stood firm crookedly. For a moment the two groups faced each other in silence, neither seeming eager to engage its opponent. Parma frowned slightly. She had removed one man from the four, and somewhat crippled another, but it seemed he could still stand, and that meant that two swords were still in play. And two daggers, she thought, eyeing the woman. She stood with her knees slightly bent, one of her weapons held in plain view near her thigh and the other clutched in a hand hidden in her cloak. Parma’s frown deepened. She is the most dangerous.
Then the healer spoke, raising her voice but keeping it heavy with threat. “Back down. You are outnumbered more than two to one.”
The strangers gave no answer, but Parma heard the woman scoff. She clenched her teeth. If there had been but one proper warrior amongst the village-folk standing with her she would have felt more at ease. Or if she had been alone. But there was not, and she was not. If the brigands brought their obvious skill to bear, even outnumbered by eight Varalelans it was most likely that they could still cut their way free. Which left Parma one option. One that she did not wish to resort to before the eyes of the villagers.