Welcome back to Lands Uncharted. Today I'm sharing another snippet from my newest release, Guardian Prince, which is the second book in the Ceryn Roh Saga. This series is a high fantasy epic set in a world where Humans are subjugated by the an elvin race known as the Rüddan. Ripped from her home and forced to collude with an ancient enemy, Sabine Rhyonselle is pursued across the world of Ceryn Roh as she races to find the Human godstone before the Rüddan annihilate her entire race. Guardian Prince is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook.
Below is an excerpt from chapter 13. I hope you enjoy!
Rounding the corner at the end of the hall, Sabine was so caught up in her thoughts that she almost didn’t see the two figures standing in a shadowed corner near the stairwell. Startled, she backtracked instantly, then chided herself for being so skittish. Even though she was a Human, she had as much right to be here as anyone else. Pushing her shoulders back and raising her chin, she began to proceed forward when another thought stopped her.
The two figures stood in the shadows, in an unused part of the castle, and she had not heard their voices or anything else to let her know they were there. What if they were meeting secretly, with no desire to be discovered? Pressing herself against the wall, she peeked around the corner.
The two figures were deep in conversation and didn’t appear to have noticed her. At first the shadows made it hard to discern their features, but after a few moments Sabine thought she could identify Amala’s golden hair. The Aethel woman stood with her back to Sabine, mostly obscuring the man she spoke with. However, based on the rich brown of his hair and the sky-blue-and-misty-white color scheme of his rather elegant clothes, Sabine surmised it was Maeron, the courtesan Sabine occasionally saw in the Great Hall.
Quietly, so as not to disturb them, Sabine pulled her head back. Although it surprised her to see Amala here, hadn’t Diera said that Lord Maeron sought Amala’s affections? Both Sabine and Amala were left to their own devices for the evening meal, so it was entirely possible for Lord Maeron to invite Amala to an unused part of the castle where he thought they wouldn’t be disturbed. Judging by the looks Amala frequently shot at Aodhan, Maeron didn’t stand a chance, but who was Sabine to interrupt his attempts to woo the Aethel woman?
No one, Sabine thought. Grinning smugly at the idea of leaving Amala to her eager suitor, Sabine retreated the way she had come, backtracking to the library in search of another route to the kitchen.
She was not halfway back to the double doors when she smelled the smoke. It was not a heavy scent—not like new wood burning in a clean fireplace. Rather, it smelled faintly like a campfire, redolent of charred wood and ashes.
Like the scent that is said to precede the Hannori. Sabine shuddered at the thought. According to her father’s stories, the actual physical manifestation of a servant of Nymhon looked like a shadow and smelled of something burning. If the Ayrhim were real, couldn’t the Hannori be real, too?
According to the stories, Sabine thought again, then groaned. The stories she was studying with Tayte must be winding up her imagination. What would a Hannori be doing here, in a deserted corridor? Besides, all the doors were locked—she had checked most of them herself—and all of the glowing orbs had been dark, except for the ones Amala and Maeron must have triggered. There was no one here to summon a Hannori.
Convinced she had imagined the scent, Sabine continued down the hall…
… and almost slammed into Gaelan as he exited a nearby room, carrying an armful of thick candles.
Sabine nearly choked on a scream that stuck in her throat. Gaelan grunted and dropped a few candles, which Sabine helped him retrieve. They were still warm, as if they had been burned for a while and had just been extinguished. That explains the smoke smell.
“Human,” Gaelan grunted, accepting the candles from her. “What are you doing?”
“Exploring,” Sabine said before she could think of a better response. “I’m still learning my way around. What about you?”
Gaelan eyed Sabine, looking as if he weren’t going to answer, then grimaced and said, “Guard duty.”
Glancing at the candles, Sabine arched her eyebrows.
“It’s true.” Gaelan stood taller and positioned his feet in a battle stance. Speaking in a theatrical tone, he declared, “I, Gaelan, Lord of Eddonwe Keep and head of the Royal Guard, am embarked upon the most noble of all guard duties: rat patrol.”
“Rat patrol?” Sabine barely managed to contain her laughter. “With candles?”
“Ahh, you see, fair lady-in-waiting,” Gaelan retorted, his tone turning conspiratorial, “one must have light to see them by, and the rodents of this keep hate our glowing orbs. They hide from the harsh glare and will only venture out in complete dark or in the yellow glow of a candle.”
Sabine assessed the Aethel captain, certain he was mocking her. “Is that so?”
Gaelan nodded. When he spoke again, his tone was back to normal. “It’s usually a punishment detail, but I lost a bet. A commanding officer is nothing if he is not a man of his word, so here I am.”
“Hmmm,” Sabine put on her best expression of pity, but didn’t try to make it too convincing since she was still fairly sure Gaelan jested at her expense. Did the Aethel not have rat traps? “In that case, I should leave you to your campaign. Happy hunting.”
“My lady,” Gaelan said, saluting her by touching the edge of a candle to his forehead.
Flashing a bemused smile but still not expressing any belief in his tale, Sabine returned to the library at last and made her way quickly to the kitchen and her dinner.