If you’ve been following along on my newsletter or my blog, you might remember that I took down my Cathell series for revision. Well, I’ve since decided to rename the series The Fall of Legends. The first book is also getting renamed The Raven and the Darkness.
The following is a snippet (unedited) from the prologue.
“We’re losing the light.”
“So hurry up with those torches.”
“The climb took too long. We should have started the climb sooner. Damn Mitchy and his ever-grumbling gut.”
“Quit yer mouthin’, Hannik, and light the fuckin’ torches.” Thannet was starting to lose the last of his patience, something he had precious little of even on the best of days and this was not one of them.
Mitchel tried to ignore them both, staring out across the valley, hands hooked over the daggers on his hips. He would’ve liked a little more light, too, but the climb turned out to be harder than it looked from below. While they were picking their way up to the landing, the sun had slipped behind the mountains crowding the valley on every side, casting a false twilight over everything. They might have made it a little sooner, if their caster hadn’t taken his sweet time at the rear. If he didn’t know better, he’d think the man wanted them to be doing this in the dark.
Now the sun was close to setting. and the light on the landing was an eerie blue-gray. The valley below was living up to its original name—it looked like full night down there—not the one the locals made up to frighten small children and the feckless.
At the base of Nightstone, Joriel already had lanterns lit and was working on a fire. His cousin Derrick held one of the lanterns and had his eyes fixed on the landing above. The flickering light threw grim shadows across his young face. The friend he’d brought along, just as excited as Derrick to get to the valley a day ago now huddled close to the circle of light around Derrick, so close he was nearly in his cousin’s lap. Maybe he thought the light alone could ward off the dead man’s curse if it came for them. He was probably shaking under the blanket he’d wrapped around his shoulders, despite the warmth of the summer still in its full stride.
“Here.” Hannik pressed a torch into his hand and passed another to Thannet, standing with their caster.
Turning away from the edge of the landing, Mitchel stared at the caster’s back. He knew little about the man who called himself Gregor the Great, just that he’d sold Thannet on the idea he could get them into the caverns and past the curse said to guard them. He wasn’t the first to claim this kind of thing, and all had been proved to be liars by the sheer fact that none were seen again after they entered the caverns. Whatever Gregor had said to convince Thannet must have been good. They’d been hunting together for nearly a decade. Thannet wasn’t the kind to do anything on a whim.
If the caster was telling the truth, they’d come out of this damn famous and filthy rich. It was an appealing prospect, enough so for him to push aside his misgivings and agreed to come along. If the caster turned out to be a fraud like all the rest, however, Mitchel hoped he’d have the pleasure of seeing Gregor meet his end first before he met his own.
Hannik growled at the caster, “What’s takin’ so long? Quit tryin’ to draw this out.”
Gregor and Thannet shot him looks at the same time, silencing him. Muttering, the caster started waving his hands over the boulder in front of them, the entrance to the caverns.
“Ristrante hes morriea.”
Hannik looked at him while the caster went on spouting gibberish at the big rock. “What the hell’s he sayin’?”
Mitchel shrugged. “How should I know? I ain’t no sorcerer.” He had a healthy respect for their kind, but he didn’t trust them.
He’d seen casters shoot glowing shit from their hands, pop locks by looking at them, and make things appear out of thin air. There was no trusting a man who could do all that.
“Whatever it is, it ain’t workin’.”
Gregor shot him another look, then said to the stubborn boulder, “Obey the words I have spoken.”
Hannik let out a snort and curled his lip in derision. As he opened his mouth to give voice to an insult, though, the landing began to tremble.
Mitchel cursed and dropped his hands to his daggers again. A crack appeared between the boulder and the arch it was tucked into. It slowly rolled back.
Thannet laughed and clapped Gregor on the shoulder. “Well done, man.”
Gregor tipped his head and snapped out one side of his bright blue half-cape like a bat wing. “After you.”
Thannet turned to Mitchel. “Mitchy, grab the packs. Let’s get our gold, boys.”
He bent and tossed two of them to Hannik. When he picked up his own, he ran a thumb over the raven mark burned into the leather strap before he shouldered it and two others. Turning, he looked over the edge again. The valley and the mountainside were in total darkness now, but below him, Derrick still watched the landing.
If he didn’t make it out, Joriel would make sure Derrick made it safely back to Valis. He could tell Mitchel’s father what happened to him. Not that his father would care.
He gave the boy a nod and a wave, then crossed the landing, pulling Gregor the Great through the arch with him. No way he was risking the man deciding to turn tail after the four of them were across the threshold.