Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WATERSPELL Wins First Place—Texas Association of Authors 2013

Waterspell: A Fantasy Trilogy

by Deborah J. Lightfoot
2013 TAA Trilogy Book Award

Waterspell Book 3: The Wisewoman by Deborah J. Lightfoot 

WATERSPELL Book 3: The Wisewoman
Plague and pestilence have come to Ladrehdin. With their worst fears realized, Carin and Verek set out to put right everything that has gone so badly wrong. On the final leg of their quest, they retrace Carin's journey north from the plains—accompanied this time by the village wisewoman, Megella. Along the way, Meg dredges up—from an increasingly unreliable memory—the oldest of the "old stories," revealing how the actions of the Ancients continue to menace every life on the Wizards' World, and beyond.

WATERSPELL Book 2: The Wysard by Deborah J. LightfootWATERSPELL Book 2: The Wysard
After blundering into the last stronghold of magic, Carin discovers that she is right to fear the wizard Verek. He is using her to seal the ruptures in the void, and she may be nothing more to him than an expendable weapon. What will he do with her—or to her—when his world is again secure? Or has he erred in believing that the last bridge has been broken? The quest may not, in fact, be over … and Lord Verek may find himself not quite as willing to dispose of his fiery water-sylph, Carin, as he once believed himself to be.

The WarlockWATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock
Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic—and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can’t seem to decide whether to love her or kill her.

Book 1 - Chapter 1
Carin felt the hoofbeats before she heard them—a barely noticeable tremor underfoot, hardly enough to suggest the approach of a rider but enough to stop her mid-stride.

She turned and studied the leafless trees. Nothing moved. No breeze rattled the branches, no acorn fell to earth, no dead limb snapped. Nothing relieved the woodland’s emptiness.

But she was no longer alone under these oaks. A season on her own had taught her what solitude felt like, and it didn’t feel like this.

Every impulse that had brought her to this place screamed at her to get out of sight. Don’t get caught—not now, after all this time and all that way, those long miles that stretched behind. And not here in this high, pathless woodland that had seemed to hold no life.

The papery dry leaves under her boots barely rustled as Carin darted into a thicket. “Unh!” she gasped at the cold and darkness enveloping her. The pale autumn sun didn’t penetrate here. To a passing rider, she would surely be invisible.

She grew still and listened. But the woods stayed silent, with a hush like the calm while the storm-clouds build.

Carin tensed. A shiver ran through her.


She caught them again, tremors in the earth: hoofbeats, now unmistakable. As she hid in the shadows, her breath suspended, she followed their rhythm, the cadence they struck at the threshold of hearing.

Nearer the hoofbeats came—ever nearer and more distinct. They broke to a gallop.

With a sudden sharp burst of noise, a great snapping and splintering of brittle limbs and underbrush, the horse came crashing into the thicket.

“Stop!” Carin shouted. She had no time to run. She couldn’t even straighten from her crouch before she was bowled over onto her back. Instinctively she put up a foot, struggling to boot the animal away. “Get off!” she yelled. “Get off me.” She aimed a kick at the animal’s foreleg but the horse sidestepped and she hit nothing.

A blur dropped from the horse’s back. Steel flashed. And Carin felt the point of a sword touch the hollow of her throat.

“Oh sweet Drrr—” She almost rolled out an oath. But it died on her tongue.

The swordsman was glaring down at her with the angriest, most frightening eyes she had ever glimpsed in a human face. They were as black as volcanic glass, but they burned like fiends’-fire. Their unnatural luster hinted of … insanity? Demonic possession? She couldn’t say what she saw in their depths, but they took her breath away.

The man leaned in slightly. His weapon nicked the skin of her throat.

“No!” Carin yelled. “Don’t.”

He pulled up, just a fraction. His eyes scorched her. And when he spoke, he sounded as furious as he looked.

“Can you show cause why I should not remove your head at once?” he snapped. “The boundaries of my land are clearly marked. Those who would dare to enter here know the offense they commit, and the penalty for it. Do you have a defense to offer? Or shall I execute you now and save you the trouble of arguing your case?”

“Wait! Let me explain!” Carin demanded, blustering a little, attempting a show of outraged innocence. It fizzled. Her voice quivered and muffed the effect.

The swordsman pulled back another fraction—not enough to let her up. But he allowed enough space, between his sword and her skin, that Carin could heave a breath without risking major blood loss.

He gave her a curt nod. “Whatever you have to say,” he growled, “say it quickly.”

Why’d I tell him I’d explain? she thought, aghast at herself. How do I explain what I don’t understand?

“I’m … not from around here,” Carin ventured, feeling her way with him. “I came up from the south—from the plains. And I’m only passing through. I’m not a poacher, I swear.” She wiped her sweating palms on her leggings and tried to sound convincing. “I haven’t even seen a game trail to follow. Not that I would—follow it, I mean. I didn’t come up here to hunt.”

She resisted the impulse to touch the sling that she wore concealed under her grubby shirt. With the weapon, she had killed enough prairie hens and rabbits to stay just shy of starvation. That was down on the plains, though. These high woods harbored no sign of game—no tracks, no droppings, no fresh scratches on a tree trunk.

The swordsman didn’t budge. “Poachers do not concern me,” he snapped. “I accuse you of trespassing. And your presence here, on my land, is all the proof I require. Your guilt is clear.”

He leaned in again, poised to stab the blade through her throat.

“Stop!” Carin shouted. She raised both hands, palms open. “I haven’t done anything. I just climbed up a hill.” Her hands shook uncontrollably, which made her mad. She clenched her fists and demanded: “How was I supposed to know this was private property? There’s no fence on that hillside where the grass ends and these trees start.”

The man’s eyes flickered. The sword in his hand wavered, very slightly, but enough to make Carin press on, talking fast.

“I swear I wouldn’t be here if I’d seen anything that said ‘Keep out.’ But the way I came, there’s nothing. Maybe the sign’s down. Or,” she hazarded a guess, “somebody stole it.” She gulped a breath and added, “Let me up and I’ll leave—right now. Just let me go and I’ll clear out of here.”

The swordsman was staring intently at her. Is he a bit thrown by my accent? Carin wondered. People often are.

She tried to look the man in the eye. But she caught a gleam so strange, like a flame deep in the darkness of his eyes, that she recoiled. Carin found herself studying his throat instead, where a burnished badge fastened his cloak of black wool. One half of the badge was a crescent moon worked in silver. The horns of the crescent locked around the red-enameled, golden-rayed sun on the design’s other half.

“Cock and bull,” the swordsman snapped, whipping Carin’s gaze back to his. He gave her a look that, like a cautery knife, burned as it cut. She flinched, but she didn’t cry out—

—Not until he flicked the point of his sword up to her eyes. The blade was so close, she couldn’t focus on it. She couldn’t see much of anything, nor hear much over the pounding of her heart in her ears. But still she caught every word the man said next.

“I had planned to show mercy and kill you quickly,” he growled. “But you deserve a slow and painful death for your poor attempts at lying. It is not possible for any mortal to ‘steal’ the warnings that protect these woods from interlopers. Nor is it conceivable that any living thing could fail to notice those warnings. Your own words condemn you.”

“I can prove it!” Carin yelled. By now she was breathing so hard and so fast, she could barely talk. “I’ll take you—show you. There’s nothing. You’ll see.”

The blade was too close. She couldn’t look. Her eyelids clenched shut in a spasm of terror. Her body went rigid and her senses threatened to desert. For a moment, there was nothing: no brambly undergrowth pricking her skin. No spicy scent from the autumn woods’ decay. No sound of her own ragged breathing.

(Continue reading at Goodreads.)

No comments:

Post a Comment