Title: The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book II
Author: A.L. Butcher
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Fantasy Romance
Who rules in this game of intrigue where magic is forbidden, and elves enslaved? Journey where beliefs shatter like glass, truth is unwelcome and monsters from ancient times abound: share the romance and revenge, magic and passion, and the wages of greed in a world of darkest fantasy.
Commander Hendrick of the Order of Witch-Hunters was alone, having dismissed his companions save for the unfortunate victims of his wrath and his greed. A blonde-haired elf knelt at his feet and the mage, her twin, hung in chains at the wall whimpering in pain. Blood stained the stone floor crimson from the whip coiled loosely at his side.
“So, scholar, you will lead us to that Citadel of which your late companions were so keen to tell. All the lost riches of the Elfkind,” he said. Gripping her hair, he pulled the elf close, his mouth to her ear. “A pretty thing, are you not? Both you and your sister. Now if you are a good girl, she might get to keep those looks. The Baneshackle scars will not be so bad. She might yet live to see the sun rise over your Shimmering Forest.”
Dragging the elven woman roughly so she could see her weeping and bloody twin, the Witch-Hunter continued in a voice which made her blood run cold, “See what you have consented to? That she lives. It is simple enough, elf.”
Th'alia fought back her tears, shame and degradation pricking her eyes and burning within her far stronger than her own physical pain, yet she summoned the courage and the pride to whisper, “I have a name, my sister has a name. My name is Th'alia Er'lis. We are not property. I will seek the Citadel, but for her, not for you, Witch-Hunter.”
Hendrick scrutinised the elf woman and, releasing her hair, laughed at her audacity. “Is that what you believe? She is a mage, an elf witch, and thus she belongs to us, to me. However, I may be persuaded to look the other way. Lead the Magelord Archos of Tremellic and that slut who shares his bed to this Citadel, allow them to perform the ritual needed to enter, and I may ignore the fact of your sister's existence.”
Motioning towards M'alia he removed the whip from his belt, letting the weight of it lie in his hands as though emphasising the point, for she had felt the bite of it and both elves knew he would not hesitate to use it once more.
“I will arrange escort and the required paperwork, for you cannot wander the human lands alone. Mark this however, you will be watched. If any harm befalls your escort, if you escape from him, if you fail or deceive him, the woman who hangs in chains yonder will die. Then I will inform the slavers of what stock resides in your settlement, for if they produce more as pretty as you, the slavers will indeed pay handsomely for the information. One way or the other, I will get my gold. Surely it is an easy enough choice, the lives of strangers for those of your sister and your town.”
He looked into her eyes and saw compliance if not consent, a realisation that choice was not a luxury she could afford. Th'alia nodded slowly, and with an unpleasant grin and the thought of elven treasure shining in his eyes, Hendrick said, “Good girl. Your sister will not be harmed or molested. She will be safe. You have my word on that.”
Th'alia turned her tear-filled brown eyes to his face and replied quietly, “What is the word of a Witch-Hunter to me?”
Hendrick looked over to the chained mage. Running the whip through his fingers once more, he replied, “It is the word of a man who has the power of life and death. Heed it well.”
With that, Hendrick unchained the mage, and instead of letting her fall, he wrapped his cloak about her and gave orders she was to be healed and removed from the cell. Casting one final glance at Th'alia, he exited, locking the door until his plans were in place.
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British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
She curates speculative fiction themed book bundles on Bundle Rabbit.
Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017, and The Kitchen Imps won best fantasy for 2018 on NN Light Book Heaven.
Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2hK33OM
Smashwords Author Page https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ALB123
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/LightBeyondtheStorm/
Indiebound Author Page https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=author%3AButcher%2C%20A.%20L
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