- L.L. Stephens
Teaser Excerpt: The Second Stone
Updated: Jul 28, 2022
I just turned the manuscript for Book 3, The Second Stone, over to my publisher. This means I like the additions/deletions I made and think the book is ready to go.
This also means my editor is going to take a red pen and start the process of whipping my book into publishable shape.
That a series is completely written does not mean it is completely edited and pristine. I am an okay editor. My books are always better after a real editor has had at them!
So keep in mind that this short teaser for The Second Stone is unedited. These are my raw words. The final product, coming out next year, may vary either a little or a lot. I am working on an editing post where I compare pre-edit and post-edit versions of a scene in The Kheld King, just to give an idea of how much can happen.
In any event, I hope you enjoy this look at a sorcerous encounter in Book 3: The Second Stone.
Lookouts hollered before the first crewman ran up with word. “Mormantalorus,” the man said, pointing. Zepheron brought the spyglass to his eye. A black crow of a ship rode the waves of a sea already in the first throes of storm.
The way was watched, just as Emyli had feared it would be.
“Turn about.” Zepheron put away the glass. “We head to port. There’s a Rift storm blowing up.”
“It’s the Sorcerer’s ship,” his officer pointed out.
“Yes. Yet more reason. Make for the Eye!” He had set the course for Stauberg ahead of time but wanted them to know they must not wait. If the winds were kind, the Ariande would have enough speed to outrun Nammuor’s pursuit.
Ariande pulled into the wind and with a surge gained speed. The Rift was not far off Stauberg’s shore, where it could be seen from the tall towers the Malyrdeons had built for the purpose of watching it. Even as far out to sea as they now were, they could see the white wings and spires of Stauberg’s Wall.
“Why do we run?” his officer demanded. Fear slashed the man’s face. The Mormantaloran vessel, though still but a black blot on the storm-dark sea, had clearly engaged in pursuit. “We are not enemies—”
“Ask, then, why the Sorcerer gives chase,” Zepheron countered grimly.
The man took him by the arm. “Have it that way, then — why does he follow?”
Zepheron managed a feral grin, a look intending battle unfolding in his eyes. “He thinks we have the Prince on board. That we picked the lad up at sea. And that is exactly what we want him to think.”
Soon every man aboard the Ariande could see the great yawning beak at the prow of the Mormantaloran ship. To them it seemed the red eyes of the thing were fixed on them like those of a demon’s beast. The nearer it got, the more it drank of the Ariande’s wind. Ahead of them, Stauberg’s Wall tipped the horizon, the city yet unseen.
Ergeiron, Protector of Men — come to us! Zepheron prayed. But only Highborn voices had ever moved the Wall.
Looking back, Zepheron saw the Sorcerer himself, red-cloaked and terrible on the deck of the sinister vessel, framed by its taut sails and clouds of storm. Against Nammuor, he had no weapons. Speed had been his only hope, and that dependent on the wind. He was still lengths in front of the black-sailed ship. Still had hope of the Wall…
Sorcery, even the most benign of its ilk, smelled of volatile vapors. What drenched the Ariande stank of sulphur and the fire at the World’s end. The golden-hulled vessel at the last moment appeared to fill her brilliantly emblazoned sails with wind, to leap forward through the brightening water. Then the whole vessel, every glowing board and gilded mast, the shimmering sails upon her and the men screaming on her incandescent decks, took on the look and texture of flame. Ariande wavered, a ship of fire. And then that vision dissipated into the wind that tore into her.
There was not even smoke but simply ash, blowing across the water to fall there like snow.