Because I’m a writer. It’s my job.
Specifically, my mission is to promote my upcoming book, Seasons of Truth: Summer. This third entry in The Hunters Chronicle is definitely a mind and page-turner, and to get everyone good and ready for Tuesday’s release, I’m releasing a chapter a day into the wild, along with a humorous anecdote to make you like me…err, my books.
I can see that we have a lot of work to do. Less than 48 hours remain until Summer begins with a flood of sales, and I have no one but you, dear readers, to thank for it. If you want to catch up on the chapters from this last week, you can start here. And if you want to pick up the rest of the books in the series (Winter and Spring), I won’t mind a bit if you order them today.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Ah, good. you’re back. And just in time to read the next chapter.
Trigger warning: If you’re allergic to awesome, you should probably cover one eye just to be sure.
“WHAT DID HE…TEACH YOU…CONSTABLE…that the girl…did not?”
This time, Josiah was ready with an answer. After ushering the merchant out, he’d started arranging his words in anticipation of the priest’s question. Josiah had only heard the man’s account once before, but even though it had grown in the telling it was still recognizably the same.
Nudging the door closed with his shoulder, he set down two jugs of sweet wine and slid the bar into place as he spoke.
“He had an excellent view of the attack, but his account is suspect. That part about the light. His own lack of action, his failure to help the girl—it makes the rescue seem more heroic.”
“You forget…something. Something…important. The girl’s story. How does it…differ…from his?”
“I…I can’t think of anything else. I’m sorry.”
“Think on this…as we go…to the last…witness. Both spoke…truly. They had no…other choice.”
Though Josiah heard the priest stand, he could not tear his eyes away from the cup in front of him. The candles were little more than stubs now, and their light only covered half the table.
The cup danced at the edge of their glow, half in light, half in shadow. Its edges seemed blurry now, but the dark interior still beckoned, as if inviting him in to warmth and comfort. He reached a trembling hand toward it, but his arm was heavier than he thought it would be, and sank back onto the arm of his chair.
Chair? How did I…what…?
He knew the cup was empty. He knew he had filled it, and that three jugs of wine were now dry on the floor at his feet.
But he did not remember…
Josiah looked down at the unfamiliar jug in his hands. His mouth was dry, sour, and the smell of wildflowers still lingered in the air.
“Are you quite…finished…Constable?”
Josiah turned to find the priest’s scarred face a hand’s breadth from his own. There was something in his eyes, as if something…more…was looking through them than a man.
There was a flash of red light as the left candle guttered and died, and a rustle of black cloth moved away from the table. Josiah wanted to follow it, but he had to look. Had to know.
The cup was gone.
“Yes? Something you…remember? Something you…want to say?” The priest’s voice came from somewhere behind him, and Josiah’s Eyes were drawn to a dark shape silhouetted in the doorway.
Without waiting for an answer, the priest turned and moved down the hall. Josiah hurried after him, stumbling over the empty jugs as the second candle went out.
He caught up to the inquisitor when he stopped at the top of the stair leading down to the lower levels. The priest’s scar seemed like a living thing, framing the cold eyes of a man who had seen and heard too much.
“Ask it then. What you want…to know. Hurry. There is not…much time.”
The heat of the room was a distant memory, and Josiah shivered as the torches flickered and died. There was much he did not understand about tonight, and as he searched through his memories of the questions, he settled instead on a set of words in a language he did not understand, but were still somehow familiar.
Ask your question.
“Brother, what was that phrase, those words you spoke to the merchant? I’ve never heard anything like it before. But when you said them, it seemed…right.”
The scar twisted as the priest pressed his lips together, then turned away before speaking.
“It was…The Matins. We sing it…when the night…is blackest. We do it…to remind…ourselves…there is still…light…in the world.”
Josiah followed the priest down the curving stone stairs, the sound of his boots chasing the much softer impacts of the other man’s sandals until the world above was all but forgotten. When the dark priest spoke again, he nearly stumbled the remaining distance to the next landing.
If you liked this preview chapter, you can order the book today at Amazon.com and Smashwords. Don’t be shy about telling your friends on social media sites–anything you can do to help move the needle would be greatly appreciated.
And when you do speak of what you witnessed today, remember one thing above all else: the only way to know the full story is to…