Earlier today, I published a newsletter that was supposed to have a link to this excerpt in it, but apparently that link was broken. Huge apologies!
Here are the first three draft pages of The Chosen. Hope you enjoy!
Magic blew in on the winter wind.
As Lily stepped through great iron-bound doors and onto the slippery dock outside, the wind tugged at a lock of her hair. She breathed in deeply. The air was cold and damp, and the briny scent of the sea filled her nostrils.
Margot and the rest of the group followed her, instinctively clustering together for warmth.
Inside Camaeline Abbey, a rotation of priestesses kept a constant web of protections cast over the people who had taken shelter within, as well as the entire island. Camael was the goddess of the hearth, and the abbey was full of brightness, warmth, companionship, and comfort.
Inside, the magic seemed little more than a nuisance.
Beyond the abbey walls was a different story. Here in the open, the atmosphere felt edgier, more perilous, as if imbued with malice.
Margot paused by her elbow, glancing at the sky.
Damned weather magic, Margot said telepathically. The caster has a hell of a range. It feels diffuse, lacking a central direction. I can’t get a clear read on where it’s originating from; can you?
Over the past six months, she and Margot had developed the habit of carrying on telepathic conversations. As long as they stood within twenty or so feet of each other, they could share insights and compare opinions in complete privacy, which was a useful trait, especially when they were around other people.
, Lily spoke slowly, feeling her way through the problem. I would need to travel some distance to be sure, but I think it’s likely several weather mages are working together. If they’re scattered across the countryside, we wouldn’t be able to track the magic back to a single source.
Several weather mages working to cast banned magic? Margot’s jaw tightened. Sometimes I hate it when you make sense.
Lily gave her a rueful smile. You only hate it when you don’t like my conclusions.
True enough. Margot made a face. Who do you think is behind it—Guerlan or Braugne?
Tension pinched the back of Lily’s neck, threatening to turn into a stress headache. I truly have no idea. It could be coming from either one—or perhaps even another kingdom is behind it.
Margot gave her a brief, grim glance. Curtly she gestured to the group, and everyone settled into their assigned positions.
Shivering, Lily tucked the errant strand of hair behind her ear with a gloved hand as she stepped into place. Along with the rest, she turned her attention to the large, squat barge that had launched from the docks of the coastal town of Calles.
The barge’s blunt prow crunched through the thin sheets of ice floating on the shallow sea around the island of Camaeline Abbey. Winter solstice was still a week and a half away.
Usually it was a season of celebration, culminating in the Masque of the Gods. This year the weather had turned unseasonably bitter, fueled over the past month by the bouts of magic cast by the unknown mages, and nobody felt like celebrating anything.
Within the next moon, the water between the island and the mainland would be frozen solid for the first time in generations. According to reports, the harvest in all the six kingdoms of Ys had been sparse, and now the kingdoms faced lethal temperatures.
Lily thought of the small farmsteads dotting the countryside. If the weather mages weren’t stopped, many of those farms would lose much-needed livestock this winter. Probably family members as well.
There was a reason why weather magic was banned. According to international treaty, weather mages were supposed to cast only under royal decree to avert natural disaster.
With Braugne and Guerlan at the brink of war, the implications behind the current weather spells were frightening. Had the king of Guerlan broken treaties and brought a cursed winter to Ys, or had Braugne?
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