Trials and Tribulations Book Blast

By Lorana Hoopes

About the Books

Title: Trials

Editor: Faith Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

21 Vignettes and Short Stories set in Faith Hunter’s World of Thorn St. Croix.

The Rogue Mage world began long ago, when the epic battle between the High Host and the Darkness was won and lost. TRIALS takes fans of Thorn St. Croix into the past, before the opening pages of BLOODRING. These stories, set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world, are adventures with new characters and old, facing dangers unimaginable. And they must save the world all over again.

If you ever wondered what happened between seraphs, kylen, second-unforeseen, mages, seraph-touched, spawn, humans, dragons, and their creatures before the series, now is your chance to delve deeper and wider. TRIALS features new short stories from nine authors—including Faith Hunter—and vignettes from the Rogue Mage role playing game.

TRIALS will be followed soon by TRIBULATIONS, and then by the omnibus TRIUMPHANT.

TRIALS Authors: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Lou J Berger, Ken Schrader, Spike Y Jones, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Christina Stiles, Tamsin Silver, Melissa McArthur.

TRIBULATIONS Authors: Faith Hunter, Jean Rabe, Spike Y Jones, Christina Stiles, and Lucienne Diver.

Title: Tribulations

Editor: Faith Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

17 Vignettes and Short Stories set in Faith Hunter’s World of Thorn St. Croix

The Rogue Mage story began with the post-apocalyptic novels BLOODRING, SERAPHS, and HOST, when epic battles between Thorn St. Croix and the forces of Darkness were fought. TRIBULATIONS (Rogue Mage Anthology Vol. II) takes place during and after the series timeline. These stories and vignettes, set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world, are adventures with new characters and old, facing Darkness and an uncertain future.

The relationships between seraphs, kylen, second-unforeseen, mages, seraph-touched, spawn, humans grow deeper, and the battles with dragons and their creatures grow more dangerous. TRIBULATIONS features new short stories from five authors—including Faith Hunter—and vignettes from the Rogue Mage role playing game.

TRIALS and TRIBULATIONS will soon be followed by TRIUMPHANT—the paperback omnibus (both Anthology Volumes I and II in a bound format).

TRIBULATIONS Authors: Faith Hunter, Jean Rabe, Spike Y Jones, Christina Stiles, Lucienne Diver.

Deleted Scene:

Hello and Happy 2017! To celebrate it AND the release of the Rogue Mage Anthology omnibus, TRIUMPHANT, here’s a FREE, deleted scene from Mettilwynd (a short story in TRIALS, the first book of the Rogue Mage Anthology). Timeline wise, it would be inserted between when Chopra learns the truth of Katara’s business and when Katara and Arcadia arrive in Penang. You do NOT need to have read Mettilwynd to understand this super-short, nor will it ruin anything for you if you plan to read it later. Enjoy! – Tamsin Silver J

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IT’S ALL IN THE NAME – A Rogue Mage Super Short

Early July, 103 Post-Ap (2115 AD) – Ranong, Thailand

 She walked into the bar dressed to kill, literally and figuratively. Her dark, straightened, chin length hair swung with each bold step as everyone watched the short, petite woman of Indian decent make her entrance. A glamour spell masked the natural glow of her mage skin so that wasn’t the reason they all stared. Instead, the focus fell on the blades she wore. There were eight, not counting the metal throwing stars peeking out from pockets in her buckled bodice or the steel toes and heels of her knee-high boots.

Covering the distance between door and the primary seating area, the mage and her Amazonian partner heard someone whisper “Pirates,” with fear thick as tar on their tongue. This triggered many patrons to suddenly decide they needed to be somewhere else, and they slithered, one by one, from their seat to the bar to pay their tab.

“It seems we have a reputation here as well, Captain,” her ship’s Quartermaster said.

A sly grin slid into place as Katara scanned the room for her contact. “You bet Mika’il’s mighty sword we do.” Noticing her contact by the red silk tied to his wrist, she added, “Conrad is here.”

Her Quartermaster huffed.

“Problem?” Katara asked.

“You mean other than this whole meet up? Look, who’ve you ever met named Conrad that you could trust?”

“Name prejudice isn’t becoming, Arcadia.”

“Pfft.”

Katara wandered over, slung her leg over a chair, and sat at Conrad’s table, keeping her back to the wall. Arcadia took her place beside her captain, facing the same way.

Once the remaining patrons began to chatter and bustle about again, the man whispered, “Does your bodyguard need to stand there like that?”

“She sure does, Conrad. All six foot, one-hundred and seventy-five muscle bound, red-headed, weapon-ready, pounds of her.”

Arcadia huffed a laugh at the scrawny, dark haired man, causing his Adam’s apple to bob up and down.

Katara touched Conrad’s forearm to settle his obvious fear and feign camaraderie. “Don’t worry, she only has orders to run you through if you try something stupid. You’ll not do that, will you?”

“Of course not.”

“Good boy. Now, what news do you have for me about the one they call Havâ?”

“Do you have my money?”

Katara placed a leather pouch filled with gold coins on his knee under the table, but left her hand on them until he set a folded paper before her.

Conrad’s eyes nervously looked around the room. “That is what you need.”

Katara noted the paper’s high-grade texture: the kind only the rich, pious, and non-Earth conscious used. The rest of the world bought recycled. Opening it, a key slid out. Pocketing it, she stared at the hand drawn map inside. It was similar to those she’d previously seen, but this one held more detail.

Letting go of the money at his knee, she skimmed her fingers over the embossed insignia of the dark watcher, Jetrel, pressed into the top of the paper. “What is this room with the star? Is that where Havâ is kept?”

“Yes,” he said. “It’s a secret room behind the tapestry in Saval’s quarters.”

“And the key?”

“You’ll need that but beware of—”

A blade tip, exploded from Conrad’s throat, stopping his sentence as blood flew into Katara’s face and onto the map. Without pause, Katara’s left hand came up and caught the second blade six inches from her face as Conrad’s head hit the tabletop.

Hearing another piece of steel come singing through the air toward her, its pitch like a well-trained soprano, telling her its exact speed, she shoved her chair back and slid to crouch between it and the table. The third blade flew over her and sank into the wooden wall with a ‘thunk’ as she looked in the direction it’d come from. Seeing a tall man in royal colors by the bar, she sighed. “Angelsnot.”

A fourth blade suddenly slammed into Arcadia’s shield as she raised it to protect Katara. “He’s not alone.”

“Demon bones!” Katara swore, grabbing the dagger in the back of Conrad’s neck and throwing it with immense speed toward the man she’d already identified.

He dodged, causing it to clip the bartender’s ear before smashing into the mirror and bottles behind him.

Katara leapt up, yanked the guard’s blade from the wall, and threw it with a spell on her lips. It flew toward her target, arcing like a curve ball, confusing her target, the steel sinking into his eye and dropping him to the floor, scattering the remaining bar clientele.

“Why do people always think attacking me is a smart idea?” Katara muttered as the chaos of patrons running for the exit gave her and Arcadia a moment, for the royal guard wouldn’t put the community in danger if they could help it.

“I told you not to trust a weasel named Conrad,” Arcadia said. “We still have four.”

“Any other name prejudices I should know about?” Katara asked, folding the map and shoving into the back pocket of her black leather pants.

Using hand signals to indicate the location of the other four guards, she said, “Trevor. Trevor is a bad one for sure.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Katara replied, reaching down to her thigh holsters, both holding two daggers each. Placing a hand on the hilt of a dagger on either side, she asked, “Shall we go home or stay for a drink?”

“Oh, there’s only four, let’s stay for a drink,” Arcadia said with glee in her voice.

Katara pulled a blade from each side. Seeing this, two men advanced toward them, one of which throwing two more round blades. With an easy twist, Katara stepped out of the way while Arcadia blocked the second one with her shield.

“Then a drink it shall be!” Katara threw both daggers, each embedding into a thug’s shoulder. Launching from chair to the top of a long table, Katara ran its length, shouting, “Balance weight!”

Arcadia quickly stepped up to stand between center and her end as Katara reached the opposite side. Pivoting on her left foot, Katara raised her right knee. Kicking out, she smashed her foot into his windpipe. Hands clutching his throat, the man stumbled backward. He hit the bar and dropped to the floor, struggling to breathe.

Ditching her shield, Arcadia pulled her bastard sword. Gripping the hilt in both hands, she smiled at the second royal thug. He immediately switched his attention to Katara, throwing more disks at her instead. Taking the cue, the other two men drew swords and ran at Arcadia.

Katara jumped into the air, her fingers latching onto the low, metal, ceiling beam’s edge as Arcadia leapt forward off the table. Lifting her legs into a side split to avoid the disks, Katara heard Arcadia’s sword clash with the two who’d chosen her as their target.

Knowing her Quartermaster could handle herself, Katara wasted not a second. Swinging her feet up, she placed them on the beam between her hands. Pushing off, she let go and flipped backwards, landing in the center of the room. Rushing forward, Katara placed her hands at the tables edge and threw her herself over it as if sliding across the hood of a car. Both feet slammed into her attacker’s chest, sending him flying.

Her momentum too great to stop, she landed with a foot on either side of her attacker when his back hit the ground. Opting to somersault over him, her head came in contact with his as he slammed his forehead into her nose, breaking it.

Growling in pain, Katara landed in a sitting position. Unclipping the safety, she pulled the blade on the side of her right bicep. With a guttural yell, she lunged forward and slit his throat. In the same motion, she let the blade fly. It sank into the heart of the man sitting on the floor still gasping for air.

“And then there were two.”

Noting that Arcadia was okay, Katara yanked her blade from the first dead man’s shoulder and slid it into her thigh holster. Placing fingers on the break, she sent power from a healing amulet into her face. Setting her broken nose, cartilage crunched against bone. Shuddering, she wiped tears and headed toward the dead man at the bar.

Rapidly blinking to clear her vision, Katara squatted before dead man number two. Retrieving her blades, she put them away before turning to back to her Quartermaster. Arcadia still had man number three and four in a sword battle, evidently not trying very hard to kill them.

“Quit playing around.”

“Why should you get all the fun?” Arcadia quipped.

Reaching behind her, Katara unsnapped the safety latches on her two matching dirks. She wore her primary weapons horizontally at her waist, angled slightly, handles down. Drawing both blades, she stepped into the fray, taking one attacker from Arcadia for herself.

Blades clashing, Katara shouted above the sound, “So…Trevor is the other bad name, huh?”

“Yeah, always felt that name was pompous,” Arcadia replied, side-kicking her remaining guard to the floor.

A fifth man ran into the bar, sword in hand.

“Wrath of angels!” Katara swore, shoving the man she’d taken back to her Quartermaster. “Guess he’s yours again!”

Arcadia whooped with glee and ran her sword through his abdomen. Yanking it out, she said, “Ya happy now?”

“About time,” Katara replied, bringing both blades up to meet her opponent. Shouting, she added, “Personally, I think you have name phobia!”

Arcadia laughed, her sword smashing into her remaining opponent’s blade. “Well, duh, why else do you think I changed mine?”

A sixth man came through the door.

Katara sighed. “Are you effing kidding me? Screw this!” With two swift moves, a scissor-slice motion in and up, then a twist before slicing outward, she opened the fifth man up in four places; one on each side and two at his throat. He slumped to the ground, carotid arteries spilling his life across the wooden floor as Katara dropped to one knee.

Sticking both dirks into the man to keep them accessible, Katara pulled two poison throwing disks from the pockets of her bodice, flinging them with deadly accuracy. Both sank into the sixth man’s chest. He stumbled a few steps before dropping to the ground.

Everything went silent, save for the labored breathing behind her. Twisting around, Katara found the source to be the last man standing. Arcadia had him pinned against the bar, her sword held perfectly poised with the tip at his throat.

Katara yanked her two dirks free from dead man number five. “And then there was one.” Standing up, she slowly made her way over to the bar. Returning her weapons into their holster and securing them, she spoke to Arcadia, “Ya know, not that I don’t like your new name, but I didn’t hate your old one.”

“It was a Mule’s name,” she said, using the derogatory term for her breed, one of the Second Unforseen: children of humans and mages. “A slave Mule at that. I’m a Guardian and warrior, not some lowly peon.”

“Point taken.” Katara said. Turning her full attention to the man at the end Arcadia’s sword, she continued, “Speaking of names, what is yours, my friend?”

When he said nothing, Arcadia nicked his neck with her sword’s tip, causing him to bleed. “Name!”

“Fra-fra-fra-Francis.”

“Hey! Looky there,” Katara said with a grin, “That used to be my guardian’s name!”

“See? Peon. I rest my case,” Arcadia said, her tone flat.

Her smile still in place, Katara shoved her two-inch heel into the highest part of his foot. “Who do you work for, Francis?”

“Jetrel,” he said too easily.

“Nice try, but I work for His Horribleness, so he’d have sent much more talented men if he was coming for me. Who do you really work for?”

Francis looked as angry as a swatted bee, but with another push into his foot he yelled out, “Pichai!”

“You see, now that makes sense,” Katara said. “The eldest of the King’s twin sons hates me.”

“Gee, can’t see why…” Arcadia said dryly.

“That was an accident. I didn’t know his old man was behind me…” Katara said, letting the sentence trail off. For there was no need to out Pichai’s sexual preference for men to anyone else, she’d already done enough damage. “We were friends once upon a time, he and I,” she said instead.

Arcadia backed the sword away from Francis’ throat since Katara’s heel seemed to be just as effective. “But your traitorous reveal to his father isn’t the only reason he hates you.”

“No. It’s not.” It also stemmed from his romantic connection to Saval. “Tell me, Francis, is Pichai here in Ranong?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, and turned to make a run for it, but found Arcadia’s sword blocking his path.

“Now you’re just pissing me off,” Katara said, yanking him back by the neck his shirt and throwing him up against the bar. Placing a dagger point at his throat, she clucked her tongue at him before saying, “Let’s try this again. Is Pichai in Ranong?”

“No. He heard you were going to be here so he sent us to kill you.”

“I find that highly unlikely, Captain,” Arcadia said. “He’d have sent better soldiers.”

“Too true.” With great speed, Katara raised a second dagger and shoved it under their prisoner’s right clavicle. “Try again.”

Francis screamed in pain. “All I know is that Saval told Pichai he believed there was a traitor in his ranks who was meeting someone in Ranong. He didn’t know who it was or the person they were meeting.”

“And?” Katara pressed, turning the blade a hair.

“We quickly figured it was one of two men. Teams followed each and Conrad led us to you.”

Katara pulled the blade out. “See, Arcadia, Conrad wasn’t untrustworthy.”

“No, he was just an idiot.”

“Poor dead Conrad,” Katara said, looking over her shoulder briefly at him, his head still on the table.

Arcadia walked around to stand to Francis’ right, blocking him in case he tried to make a run for it again. “You don’t even know who we are, do you?” Seeing he didn’t, she leaned her back against the bar, crossed her arms, and laughed. “I thought not.”

“So, when did Saval leave?” Katara asked.

Francis’ face twisted in disdain. “Saval said he must consult his psychic advisor right away so he and his fancy beard left earlier than planned; about four days ago.”

“Fancy beard?” Arcadia asked.

“It’s an old term,” Katara explained. “Seems Francis here knows the big secret about Jetrel’s eldest human brother-in-law.”

“Setan-benih homo,” he said, the first of the two-word sentence a Malaysian word for demon-spawn. Carefully turning his head, he spit on the ground to show his utter disgust. “He struts her around like a peacock, all bejeweled and elegantly dressed, but we all know he beds men at night.”

“Does this peacock have a name?” Arcadia asked.

“Havâ is what they call her.”

Everything seemed to stop. The feeling of the air, the stench of blood, the sound of voices outside going about their everyday life; it all blurred into absolute silence.

“Now you have my attention,” Katara said quietly, doing her best to hold back the fire burning in her chest. “Did they both head back to Penang?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

Katara rammed her steel heel into his foot, crushing it. “Damn you to the eternal fires of hell! Tell the truth, you cur!”

Eyes wide, he screamed, “My foot! You broke—”

Arcadia grabbed his ear and twisted it hard. “You think that’s bad? It only takes ten pounds of pressure for me to remove this. Want me to show you?”

“No no no! Please, I remember now…” he cried, and Arcadia let go.

Using the blade at his throat to urge him lower, Katara waited until their eyes were level. Leaning in, she spoke through clenched teeth. “Are he and Havâ here now?”

“No. They left together for George Town, Penang. Something about returning for the Feast of Tithes. That’s all I know.”

“See, that wasn’t so hard,” Katara said, easing back from Francis.

“Kill that homo for all I—”

Katara shoved the dagger through the man’s throat. “Wrath of angels, you had to be a batang and say that word again, didn’t you?”

“Captain’s got zero tolerance for prejudice,” Arcadia explained to a dying Francis as he sputtered.

Katara took her knife out and he fell to the ground. “Peon.”

Arcadia nodded. “It’s all in the name.”

“You might be right.” Katara said as she slid the blades back into their sheathes. “Come, we’ve got to ready the ship. It’s time this was over. Besides, if we don’t move now we may never get her back.”

Katara walked over to Conrad, thanked him, and took back her gold coins. Tossing the leather money sack onto the bar, she spoke to the only other living person still in the building other than herself and Arcadia. “For damages and to keep your mouth shut.” With that, Katara turned and headed for the door.

Following behind her, Arcadia asked, “So, how’s your nose?”

Without looking at her Quartermaster, Katara pointed over her shoulder at her. “Don’t start.”

The last sound the bartender hiding behind the bar heard as they walked out was Arcadia’s hearty laughter.

THE END

(To know what happened after this, read Mettilwynd, which can be found by going HERE)

Links

Amazon Trials: https://www.amazon.com/Trials-Rogue-Mage-Anthology-Book-ebook/dp/B01N43OZ6C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1482094741&sr=1-1&keywords=trials+anthology

B&N Trials: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trials-faith-hunter/1125191913?ean=2940157139261

Amazon Tribulations: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2UTGCF/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482094874&sr=8-1&keywords=tribulations+faith+hunter

Lorana Hoopes is a Christian author who focuses on children’s book and adult inspirational books with a touch of romance.Her books are available at Amazon.

Heartbeats series

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