High Maga #Excerpt by Karin Rita Gastreich (#Fantasy #Fiction)

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When the dancers arrived, lithe girls draped in translucent veils, Mechnes took his cup in hand and strolled restless about the hall, observing the drunken revelry with a keen and sober eye.

Meanara’s surviving offspring, three in all, sat closest to the San’iloman. Gluttonous men, they were now fat and useless with age. Already they had expressed opposition to the campaign for Moisehén, and they could yet stir up unrest over the circumstances of Rishona’s succession. Mechnes gave them a month, at most, before Rishona’s poisons found a way into their households.

The other brothers would be less inclined to oppose her, at least for the moment. All those born to the Second Wife Lhandra, including Mechnes and Paolus-Nur, respected Rishona, having witnessed her passion for weaponry during the years in which she trained with Mechnes. She had earned their admiration in a way no other woman could, though mere admiration, Mechnes knew, was not enough to keep her on the throne.

“Brother.” Paolus-Nur appeared at his side, one hand holding his cup, the other coming to rest on Mechnes’s shoulder. “Why that scowl upon your face?”

Mechnes grunted and nodded toward a fair-headed man who played the dulcimer. “That new musician is careless; his instrument is not well-tuned, and he strays ahead of the rhythm.”
Paolus-Nur shrugged. “None will notice with the wine we’ve had.”

“I notice.”

“Dismiss him, then.”

“I will. Tonight. In a most unceremonious fashion.”

Paolus-Nur chuckled, drew close, and lowered his voice. “You never hesitate to dispose of that which is useless. It makes me wonder what witchcraft kept you from taking our niece’s head?”
Mechnes did not return Paolus’s questioning gaze but continued to study his musicians with a critical eye. “Who is asking?”

“All your brothers, including those born by the second wife of Joturi-Nur.”

“There was no witchcraft at work. Our father named her, and she defended her claim. Custom demands the blood of but one sibling, and with good reason. Had you cut her down, another might have challenged you, and then another would have challenged him. By the end of it, all Joturi-Nur’s sons would have drowned in their own blood, except me of course.” He shot Paolus-Nur a sharp glance, assessing his brother’s stance, the set of his jaw, the placement of his hand on the hilt of his knife. “Indeed, now that I reflect on the matter, perhaps it would have served me better to be rid of the whole brood at once.”

Paolus smiled and drank from his wine. He was three years Mechnes’s senior, but looked the younger, when one compared his lean figure to Mechnes’s stocky build and battle-worn face. “You did not answer my question. You could have challenged her yourself, and none would have opposed you. Why did you not spill her blood?”

Mechnes let his gaze settle on Rishona. She had shed her mourning robes before the feast, donning a more provocative gown of gold, scarlet, cerulean and ivory. The silky folds clung to the curves of her torso and hinted at the length of her legs. Bracelets adorned her bare arms and shapely ankles. Her black hair fell in voluptuous waves to her waist. A simple diadem sat on her forehead, accentuating the magnetic pull of her kohl-darkened eyes.

“Because it pleases me to see her alive,” he replied. “Rishona is of my household. She is like a daughter to me, and I am as her father. She may carry Joturi-Nur’s sword, but I am the one who wields its power.”

Paolus narrowed his blue-gray eyes. “Then it is your wish, not hers, that we invade Moisehén?”

“It is my wish, and hers. Moisehén is a worthy conquest, and it is Rishona’s kingdom, by right of birth.”

“The people of Moisehén know nothing of her or her heritage.”

“That,” Mechnes replied, “is hardly relevant.”


Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.

What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.

HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.

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Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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