I hope this week finds you well and ready for some fun! I am pleased to announce that Dreamdrifter is now available for pre-order! For those of you who haven’t gotten into the Sylvan Cycle series yet, there is no better time to try it. The e-books of Dreamdrifter and Skinshifter (Dreamdrifter’s prequel) are both on sale right now for only $0.99.
Dreamdrifter_Cover_1-1600x2400

Buy Dreamdrifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Buy Skinshifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Although reviews can’t be posted on Dreamdrifter’s official sales pages yet, but several beta readers have mentioned to me that they couldn’t put the book down.

Rather than just tell you about the book, I thought you might like to read some of it for yourself. Here is an excerpt from Dreamdrifter, Book Two of the Sylvan Cycle series:

Prologue

“Master Daeryn, I am sorry to keep you waiting,” King Kaylor’s personal envoy said, in what he hoped was an even tone of voice as they greeted each other with a bow. He was struck by how much of Marga’s visage was reflected in this handsome male’s appearance.

“With all due respect, Your Excellency, I had expected to meet with His Majesty this evening, not you,” Daeryn said.

The ghoul Curqak suppressed the tremor of fear that coursed through him at hearing something so close to Caleb’s voice after all these years. Instead the envoy affected an urbane smile—tight-lipped to hide his pointed, yellow teeth—and gestured for his guest to take a seat in a nearby chair. “Of course, my apologies, Good Sir, but I’m afraid no one sees King Kaylor without speaking with me first, as is the age-old custom of the Tyglesean court. Now, you did state that the matter in question was urgent, so shall we come to it at last?”

Daeryn narrowed his eyes, but sat nonetheless. As Curqak sat down opposite his guest, he felt sudden sweat bead up through the heavy makeup cloaking his ashen face and black-tipped ears. Would Daeryn be able to sense the decrepit state of his body underneath all the finery, just as Daeryn’s mother had? If Daeryn discerned him to be a deadwalker…but no, the male was now busying himself with repositioning a chair cushion and surely couldn’t smell the charnel scent masked by Curqak’s heavy perfume…

“Where is my mother?” Daeryn asked.

“I beg your pardon?”

“My mother Marga disappeared over a year ago. She was last seen in this kingdom, so where…precisely…is she?”

Daeryn leaned close into Curqak’s painted face and, in doing so, revealed that he too wore makeup to cover his pallid features, and had styled his long black hair to cover the black tips of his pointed ears. Could the rumors possibly be true? Was there more of the vampires’ lineage than either the elves or humans in this hybrid that should have never been able to be conceived?

Curqak gulped hard, but did not break gaze with Daeryn’s penetrating blue eyes. “She did of course come here to speak with the king and queen, My Sir, but it has been more than eleven months since she left our borders.”

“Going where?”

“The guards told me she and her entourage rode northeast. I presumed she would return home to your family once her task here was complete.”

“Why did she come here?”

Curqak feigned shock and dismay. “Well, of course to discuss ongoing negotiations between the Ring of Sorcerers and the king.”

Daeryn sat back heavily in his chair, rubbing the faint stubble on his chin with a gloved hand and frowning.

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, Master Daeryn,” Curqak said consolingly. “But that is all I know.”

They sat in silence as a servant placed a silver tray laden with mulled wine, mead, bread, cheese, and fruit on the table nearest them and then left the palace chamber. Curqak lazily watched her shut the large door and then turned to survey the food. Normally he made a good show of eating and drinking with guests, purging himself in privacy soon afterward. Today, however, he doubted such a show of normalcy was necessary. After all, if the rumors were true, then Daeryn likely consumed nothing but blood just as Curqak did and therefore would not touch this proffered fare.

Daeryn surprised him by walking to the table and pouring wine for himself and his host. “Forgive me, Excellency, but when did you say my mother left the country?”

“Oh, about ten or eleven months ago.”

“And she was traveling which direction at the time?” Daeryn said as he turned back toward Curqak. He handed the envoy a silver goblet even as he drank from his own.

After a sip, Curqak frowned down at the liquid; it was more acrid than usual, but it gave him a nice warm tingle inside his body. He smiled and took another swig. Of course he would have to rid his stomach of it soon, but the discomfort of retching later seemed a fair trade for the comforting feeling he was enjoying just now. I certainly must speak with the sommelier about procuring more of this particular vintage, he thought.

Daeryn cleared his throat. “Your Excellency?”

“Hmm?”

“You said that my mother traveled southeast out of the country?”

Curqak nodded after another greedy gulp.

“You lie.”

Curqak froze mid-swallow and stared at Daeryn over the rim of his cup. The hybrid had taken off his gloves and his gray cloak and kicked them out of his way as he seized the emissary by his embroidered doublet. Curqak’s goblet clattered to the limestone tile floor as Daeryn yanked him off of his feet. The envoy heard fabric tear and watched as two huge, pale dragon-like wings emerged from the hybrid’s back. Three flaps of those membrane pinions thrust the two of them high into the air and out of the open balcony doors. Curqak shrieked as they flew beyond Castle Summersted’s ramparts and on over the rolling sea.

“Scream if you wish, but none can rescue your worthless hide here, deadwalker.” Daeryn’s eyes were like smoldering embers. His lips parted to reveal a pair of growing white fangs as he clenched the trembling ghoul in one hand and kindled a fireforger’s yellow flame with the other.

“Please, please! Spare me, I beg of you!” Curqak shouted as the wind roared passed his black-tipped ears.

“Why should I?” Daeryn shouted back as he pumped his wings, pushing them still higher into the sky.

The ghoul could feel his face begin to warm. The makeup was the only reason that the delicate skin of his cheeks and ears had not yet blistered in the dreadful sunlight. “I will tell you anything you want to know!”

“Oh, that you certainly will. I have already seen to that by drugging the wine.”

“I will do anything you ask of me short of betraying my own master, which I will not do.”

“Then name yourself!”

“I am called Curqak both by my former master Calais and by my current master.”

“You were once my father’s servant? Before he was Redeemed?”

“Yes. I was given to your father as a gift by my current master, so that he could learn how to perfect the vampire’s bite of servitude. I became his first bitten and most loyal valet until our souls’ tie was broken by his Redemption.”

“Name your current master, ghoul.”

“The Víchí High Elder Luther.”

“And what assignment did Luther give to you?”

“First, to hunt down and bring to him the twelve Keystones of legend; second, to Turn or kill all suspected fulfillers of Third Age Prophesy.”

“And how did you get past the enchantments protecting the Sylvan Continent from entry?”

Curqak moaned as he realized they had flown past the shore and out over the waves of the accursed sea. He retched in spite of himself. “A Tyglesean traitor smuggled me here in the bowels of his ship. It was the worst torture I have yet experienced.”

“‘Yet’ being the operative word, ghoul.” Daeryn snarled. “After the tales I’ve heard of your achievements during the Second War of Ages, you deserve that torture and much more.” They were descending now, swooping toward a tiny island a mere league beyond the shore’s jagged gray cliffs. They landed smoothly amid the dunes and then Daeryn hauled a now trembling and whimpering Curqak to the edge of the lapping waves. Despite the power of the incoming waves, Daeryn stood firm as he held his victim over the water. Curqak winced as he felt the salty spray on his legs.

“Listen to me carefully, Curqak. You will tell me everything I want to know or I will burn your face with the weakest fireforger’s flame while setting your legs in the churning sea. Do you understand?”

Curqak gulped.

“Good,” Daeryn almost purred. “I found the ashes and bodies of Mother’s escorts and of deadwalkers not three leagues from Castle Caerwyn, but Marga’s remains were not among them. So what have you done with my mother?”

“She was taken to Luther’s stronghold on the Northern Continent for questioning.”

“Blaecthull? Why?”

Curqak grimaced. “She is the keeper of the Keystones, but she would not tell me where she had hidden them. Luther has better ways of loosening her tongue than I.”

“And he would risk the presence of a fireforger that powerful in his own fortress? He must be insane! She could lay waste to the entire keep and every deadwalker in it with ease!”

Curqak nodded. “Marga certainly tried. Fortunately, there is a water cave there, which is strong enough to subdue her. After all, she is not like you and has only fireforging magic at her beck and call.”

“And so she is Luther’s captive.” Anguish crept into Daeryn’s gaze then. “What will it take to free her?”

Curqak felt a glimmer of triumph deep within his foggy mind. Was it possible that he might ensnare this male, just as he had trapped his mother? “Master Luther will likely want a trade: either the twelve Keystones in place of Marga or another captive of equal importance.”

“Do you know the whereabouts of the Keystones?”

Curqak shook his head, his eyes squinted shut with the pain of the searing sun and the swirling sea. “I knew of one—the Firesprite’s Sapphire, which Marga had brought to the priesthood here to protect; she did not trust other members of the General Council of Mages. Before I could attain it, Queen Manasa’s youngest brat ran off with the jewel and I cannot find her!”

Daeryn frowned. “So it must be a trade of beings then.”

“Likely, but I’m uncertain who Master Luther would consider worthy of exchange.”

Daeryn pursed his lips over shrinking fangs as he extinguished the flame in his clawed left hand and pulled the dangling Curqak away from the water with his right. When the hybrid released the ghoul, the deadwalker fell trembling to his knees in the dry sand. Before Curqak could think to flee, however, Daeryn shoved him onto his back and pinned him flat under his own heavier bulk. Daeryn forced the ghoul’s mouth open and dripped a pearlescent liquid from one of his claws down the back of the deadwalker’s raw throat.

Heat shot through Curqak’s body and every muscle felt alive with warmth. How long had it been since he had truly felt warm or alive? When had he died? It must have been hundreds of winters ago, but now the ghoul could scarcely remember it. The full-powered serum made his mind fuzzy and his body limp, but he no longer cared as he reveled in this newfound comfort.

“Ask me anything, Master Daeryn,” he whispered.

Daeryn’s answering smile was cold. “Tell me exactly how my father successfully Turned you.”

~
Dreamdrifter officially releases on September 30, 2016!

As an added bonus for those of you interested in reading Skinshifter as a group before Dreamdrifter releases, several readers are doing a Skinshifter Reading Marathon over in the Sylvan Scribes Community Facebook group beginning September 1.

I’ll be popping in and out throughout the marathon with interesting quotes, facts, and giveaways. I’d love to have everyone join in for the fun and freebies. Email me or message me on Facebook if you’re interested and I’ll add you to the discussion!

I’ll be back soon with more news and excerpts as things progress. Until then, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Warm wishes,
Alycia

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The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

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