Thanks again to all the folks who read us and our colleagues at Samhain Publishing <www.samhainpublishing.com>. Teri Smith and I hope you’re enjoying the science fiction and fantasy portion of Samhain’s Reader Appreciation Week.
Now it’s our turn to add to the excerpt fun. Teri and I write fantasy with a double shot of comedy and romance. Think Lord of the Rings meets Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Here is the first unedited excerpt from With Nine You Get Vanyr. Yes, there will be a test--er, contest afterwards. But you have to read all the way to the end of the excerpt to find out how to enter. Teri and I are evil that way.
“Light,” Roarke said, drawing his blade.
An insubstantial globe of blue-green light winked to life over Roarke’s right shoulder. Too late. Roarke swore at the scene before him.
Deryk crouched over the drunk, a bloody dagger in his right hand. His sheathed sword splayed awkwardly across his thigh. A fold of his unfastened doublet flopped over the hilt. Eyes narrowed against the light, he straightened. His left hand inched toward the glint of gold visible at his throat.
Roarke sliced Deryk’s right forearm. The dagger clattered against the cobbles. Blood spurted through the ruined sleeve of Deryk’s doublet and shirt, and splattered the clothes of his victim.
“Caught red-handed at last.”
The feeble glimmer of Roarke’s witchlight painted Deryk’s blond hair a pale, watery green and made his skin glow like fine marble. A slight frown creased Deryk’s brow and nagged at the corners of his mouth. He resembled an aristocratic merman moderately inconvenienced by a drowned sailor.
“Roarke, you ass, how dare you try to bind me with Chosen magic?”
“It worked, didn’t it?”
Deryk eased away from the corpse. “Dream on, brother. That piece of glass might have hid you from my scrying, but it won’t stop me. My steel will break that fragile conceit of yours into a thousand pieces.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. But you have to draw it first.”
Roarke was six feet tall. Deryk was two inches taller, and he carried twenty-weight more of muscle. But Deryk had spent his whole sorry life flush with Vanyr magic and the bloody rites of the Serpent’s Path. He had never been forced to earn a living by his sword--much less fight with a torn and bleeding sword arm.
Deryk feinted toward his sword with his right hand while his left reached for something hidden inside his doublet. Roarke stabbed the tip of his sword into the top of Deryk’s left hand. Twisting his wrist, he dragged the edge of the blade across Deryk’s right.
Deryk jerked his useless sword hand at Roarke’s head. He roared a string of guttural sounds bearing little resemblance to speech.
Roarke ducked. The cursed blood flew past his head and hissed against the wall behind him. For all the fury behind the spell, Roarke’s witchlight never wavered. Roarke bared his teeth. Even if it had landed, the curse would’ve barely raised a few blisters.
Skirting the drunk’s corpse, Roarke advanced on his brother. The point of his blade aimed for the white splash of linen covering Deryk’s black, black heart.
Deryk crossed his arms over his chest. He retreated, step for Roarke’s step, toward Poole Lane. “Leave now and maybe I won’t kill your friends,” Deryk snarled.
“With what?” Roarke asked. “Your magic is as dead as mine.”
Almost casually Roarke’s blade re-opened the half-healed gash on Deryk’s arm. The smell of fresh blood soaking the wool of his brother’s doublet was better than perfume. “I could take your life here and now.”
Roarke jabbed at Deryk’s face, hoping to create an opening for a death blow which would disable Deryk long enough for a proper binding. Deryk flinched but kept his arms locked over his chest. Sweat sheened his forehead. It glistened in the hollow of his throat where the head of the golden snake nestled against his skin.
“I could take your tongue,” Roarke taunted, his gaze fastened on Deryk’s eyes, not his unprotected neck. “That would cripple your magic. Or perhaps I should aim lower and cripple your pride.
“No. I think I want your”--Roarke lunged--“snake.”
Deryk was too slow to block and too proud to take a dive. But he didn’t have to. His golden snake reared like a living thing and caught the tip of Roarke’s blade on the flat scales of its muzzle.
Turquoise lightning exploded from the place where obsidian sword and gold serpent connected. The magical bolt struck Roarke square in the chest, hoisting him in the air like hay on a pitchfork. He slammed into the wall opposite the tavern door. Roarke’s dead body made a wet, sucking sound as it slid into the muck.
From Chapter Two, With Nine You Get Vanyr by Teri Smith & Jean Marie Ward, coming from Samhain Publishing November 2006.
Now for the good stuff--contest! We’re offering downloads of the novel (redeemable upon publication or whenever the stern editor person allows) and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab imps (perfume testers for you folks not yet seduced by the wonders of BPAL). To qualify, you need to answer the contest question we post at the bottom of each excerpt. A combined prize of one download and two imps will be awarded for each excerpt. You can answer the question for one excerpt or both, but your name or handle will only be entered once for each excerpt, and you can only win once.
Contest Question 1: How tall is Deryk?
Post your answer here or on Teri’s LJ <http://qnotku.livejournal.com>. We’ll draw the winners at 3 p.m., EDT, Sunday, July 16, and announce them before 5 p.m., EDT.
Thank you for reading!