I will be posting chapters from my upcoming books here and there. It will spur me on to write faster, I think. Especially of you guys ask for them. Here is the opening of my sequel to Hell’s Reward. Enjoy.
“To accept reality is to deal with pain. That is why so many people live in the lands of delusion.”
Antiphontas, Age of Wonders philosopher
There are many ways to commit suicide. The worst ones are when you’re not even trying.
Why did she let herself into this fiasco?
She was on her way to find Drake, to warn him about the Night guild putting a bounty on his head. But on the way out of Lys she ran into Myco the Deft. And he told her how she could score some serious coin if she’d lend a hand to Myco and his crew. It’s a job up the road she’d be taking anyway, so why not? Easy pickings.
The job was supposed to be simple. A caravan would come along that Myco knew was holding some serious treasures. Using his tricks of deception and misdirection, he would keep the guards away from the goods long enough for this crew to get in and make a quick extraction.
And Myco was good. She’d known him for six years. He worked mainly out of Lys, but moved around like many in the trade. Normally she wouldn’t bother with a caravan job. She didn’t do raids or highway robbery. But Myco didn’t use violence. He was a stealth artist. This would be more like a snatch and grab. She didn’t trust too many people but she trusted Myco’s skills and his mates were known to her.
There was Exl the Ghost. Ever the quiet one, a man of few words, he was a legend for getting into places unseen. Dellas of Umber was a mistress of locks. No safe had ever given her pause, they say. And finally, Mad Jonas may have seemed a nutter to the straights, but he was crazy like a fox. His plans worked like they were blessed, yet they were often as mad as his name implied. He always saw things from an angle no sane person would consider. And some say he had the sight, and knew things others couldn’t guess.
Why they needed her, Reyne didn’t know, but they were good enough company and she could always use some extra coin.
They camped ten miles from Illun, expecting the caravan to pass this way. They chose a hill with a crown of trees, overlooking the road, so they could stay hidden yet see what passed below. They didn’t unpack much gear and didn’t light any fire. When the caravan made camp on their own, they’d be able to swoop in and do their work and leave before anyone knew they’d been robbed.
Myco knew a good spot nearby the caravan would probably use to spend the night. It was highly unlikely the caravan wouldn’t stay in town. Mad Jonas has been tracking their progress and said the spot below was a perfect place for them to stop for the night. Myco trusted Jonas insight, as odd as it sounded at times. So they waited out the hours, snacking on food, prepping their tools, and getting ready to go to work.
Dellas brought out a bag of dried fruits and passed it around.
“Twelve wagons was the last report, with six out riders for security. Seems a bit light, don’t it, Myco?”
“They must have some blades riding in the wagons. Can’t all be on horse, Dellas.”
“You said there’d be treasure. Why so few guards?” Reyne said as she sliced up an apple from her pack. “Seems to me, there’d be a lot more if they had valuables.”
“We’ll know the scope of it once Exl has a go at them. He’ll saavy the situation and make a report before we swoop in.”
“Aye.” Exl nodded.
Jonas sat in the trees watching the road. They’d been there for four hours and he never took a break. Suddenly he got up and came over, smiling.
“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes or so.”
He stretched and scratched his arse.
“Don’t know how he does that.” Dellas mused.
“Jonas sees far.” He laughed.
“If you see so good maybe you can tell us what’s inside those wagons.” Reyne said before chewing on an apple slice.
“Lots of items bound for the Castle. Lots of strange items Jonas doesn’t understand.” He shrugged. “But they have to be worth somethin’ fer tis not the first caravan of this type. Oh, no.”
“What castle?” Dellas frowned.
“The castle of Karas Undar. Much has been going to the castle of late. Aye.”
“That old Unwen ruin? Why?”
“It’s being rebuilt and stocked. Many caravans ‘sides this one have been goin’ there from all corners of the realm.”
“But why? Who’s paying for it?”
Myco cut in. “It’s a big mystery, but the kingdoms don’t seem concerned. Whoever’s behind it has greased a lot of palms. And that means, whatever’s in those wagons has to be worth stealing.”
That’s when Reyne started to get the feeling this may have been a mistake.
She wasn’t wrong and knew it soon after the caravan rolled into the clearing.
From Heaven’s War. © 2015 James Hudnall, All Rights Reserved
Publication TBD, hopefully this winter