Short-and-sweet: My Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play readers will be able to pre-order series like Algardis via Patreon starting today. All Patreon readers who sign-up by November 30th will receive a copy of Mages By Assembly: Algardis #3 on November 4th (ahead of regular release) and their copy of Sworn To Victory: Courtlight #13 ahead of regular release!
I’m moving into a brand-new exciting year of publishing (almost) exclusively to Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Starting with Books One and Two of the Algardis series available today.
But I have absolutely not forgotten the readers who have supported me over the years on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.
I will still be releasing some new items on those platforms (primarily the Courtlight and Crown Service series) but to make sure you have access to all my books before publication, I want to let you know that every reader on a non-Amazon platform can now sign up for my Patreon account.
How this works is simple. Every month, my new-and-existing Patreons will receive an email with a download page for the books of their choice.
For $2 Patreons you can choose one catalog book every month.
For $5 Patreons you can choose up to three catalog books every month.
For $10 Patreons you can choose one catalog book and up to two boxed sets every month.
These books will download to your eReader device through a service I am paying for called Bookfunnel. The books will auto-sync to the eReader of your choice and that’s all there is! This Patreon is such a deal for ALL my readers and a way to maintain access for readers on all platforms as a pre-order incentive.
This month in particular is important for readers of the Algardis series who want access to Mages By Assembly: Algardis #3, a sneak peek at Sworn To Victory: Courtlight #13, and the pre-order of the Algardis Series Boxed Set: Books 1-3. I hope you join us over at teedun.com/patreon!
Keep reading below for the preview of Mages By Assembly: Algardis #3!
P.S. – There’s a NSFW version of this same chapter on my Patreon and I’m taking comments on whether or not I should add more cursing (and other stuff) to my books, so sound off.
Mae had long ago lost her sense of time.
She hung upside down by her ankles from a ceiling with thick chains attached to metal stakes driven at three angles into the wall. She had become very familiar with the anchors to her chain. After she had tried for an hour unsuccessfully to yank herself free from their holds, she had even named them.
The first chain that kept her anchored to the left wall was called Headache.
The second chain that was fixed to the right wall was Miserable.
The third and final chain which went straight up to the center of the ceiling was her favorite. Accordingly its name was Pain.
Pain was a favorite because Mae didn’t haven’t to crane her head to see it. Just look up and there it was. Attached to the high arch on the second-story of a room she only sort of recognized. She knew that she was supposed to know where she was. But she had become more and more unfocused as time went on.
Still, sensing the importance of the act, Mae looked up at Pain and tried to concentrate on the design of the ceiling she was seeing. She thought she should recognize it. For some reason. But her mind had long ago turned to mush. Her head was swimming from the blood constantly rushing to her brain, her feet felt cold like she’d dipped them in a bath of ice…she supposed one more effect of blood rushing away from her limbs, and her entire body felt distant.
Like she inhabited her physical form but wasn’t really there. Just drifting. It was kind of fun until she couldn’t concentrate on important things like where she was. Mae felt lucky she knew her own name. Even that was getting more difficult by the second.
Patches of her memories were gone. Blank when she tried to recall the circumstances that had brought her here. Hanging upside down by her ankles and wondering what she’d done.
The only thing she was occasionally sure of was that whatever had brought her to these circumstances, it wasn’t normal. She wasn’t being punished for talking back to an elder or lightly thieving a grimoire from a hidden library.
No, no this is something far worse, Mae thought as her mind drifted in a swirl of ever-present confusion.
She wanted to remember but she couldn’t. The only thing that she could guess at was that it had been something horrific she’d done to deserve this. But even her family wouldn’t be this cruel.
My family, Mae thought in a bleary state.
Just thinking on them brought a pain that Mae curled away from inside. It lanced through her heart like a dagger and she was overwhelmed by emotions so strong it was hard to comprehend.
For a brief moment she remembered why she was here. What she was done. Like a rose blooming in her mind, a petal slowly unfurled. It held a memory. Then many memories. But they didn’t last long. In fact as soon as she let out a scream of recognition, they were gone. All the emotions. Everything that told her who she was and how she had ended up here—suspended upside down from a ceiling she didn’t quite recognize.
The only thing left was relief. Mae’s body still felt the strain from when she’d arched up, still shackled to the ceiling, her body so tightly strung it might as well have been the bow an arrow would be loosened from.
Little by little her body relaxed. Her legs unlocked from the stiff pantomime they hung in, her back uncurved, and her jaw slackened. The fact that the only thing left after all that was relief was both perplexing and worrying.
She couldn’t remember why a moment before her whole body had been tense and her mind on fire with pain. But she knew enough to be grateful because it had felt like she was about to explode from the inside out.
Working her sore jaw, another after effect from the tension that had roiled through her, Mae tried to figure out what was going on. Why she was hung upside down. Who she could see to free her? But the room was empty of everyone else. She was alone with her rattling chains and the occasional crackle of a fire far below in lit brazier pots.
She could only see it when she angled her head back in order to look down. That hurt more than just letting her head hang. So she didn’t do it often. But in dim aloneness, the fires were her one cheery escape in a whole room which otherwise was split in half between darkness and light.
Fearing the worse and not knowing what else she could do, Mae started screaming.
Crying out for help but that brought no one to her aid and only hammered in the realization that she was on her own. As further time passed, Mae licked her dry, cracking lips and realized that if she didn’t try something to free herself soon, she’d only waste away hung upside down by her chains.
Twisting around she tried to see anything that would help her but nothing was forthcoming. Her movements also jarred something into her back.
Part of the chain, she thought. But with that pain came a brief and momentary glimpse into her past. What had brought her here. What kept her here.
Nervously Mae twisted again to feel the quick jab of the sharp piece of metal in her back and more memories loosened.
She wanted to remember. Even with the pain.
She wanted to be free. Even if it meant falling.
She wanted to be whole again and that desperation drove her to fight through the blood rushing to her head and the disorientation came with it.
For a moment there was clarity, visually and mentally, and the parts swimming in her gaze came together to form a coherent whole. Gray blocks marked with soot stains merged into a pattern she recognized. Laid stonework. Round buttresses became arches along the four corners of the slightly domed ceiling. In the center was a chandelier of mage lights that was now holding up more than just a dozen candle sticks.
It held Maeryn Darnes herself.
She recognized all the parts and the whole they made as the magical haze seemed to be doing more to cloud her mind than the dehydration and blood loss was.
“The sickroom…that’s where I am,” Mae mumbled in a daze to herself.
At least that’s where she thought she was.
Its where she had been when this horrifying ritual had begun.
Where what had once been Mae’s dream of salvation had rapidly turned her greatest nightmare.
And it all started here. Here where my siblings were confined in sickness. Here where I hang for my crimes, Mae thought in dazed blur as she tried to keep her eyes open.
She twisted again, this time lightly, just to get the sharp rush of pain in her lower back and the urgency to stay alert grew greater. The pain’s clarity didn’t last long, but it was enough to combat what was clouding her mind like a faint cloud covering every inch of her thoughts. Mae knew that it wasn’t a lack of sleep that was preventing her from keeping her focus, visual or mentally, however. It was magic.
She could see it when she blinked her eyes open and concentrated.
That was one thing she hadn’t lost in this grim imprisonment.
So she thought to counteract it. She couldn’t move much more than her wriggling but she didn’t need to physically manipulate her body to open herself up. Mae let her magic go.
The first thing that was affected was her mental acuity.
Then her eyesight and her ability to see auras.
Grateful to see that at least some things were still the same, even though the first time she’d been actually shown an aura was by the woman who her mind wanted to forget as much as it struggled to remembered everything else. She wasn’t precisely sure why it was so easy to shift into looking at those auras now but she had the feeling it had to do with the fact that her seal had been broken open.
Mae’s vision was a bit fuzzy still, especially close in but she would have been able to see the glowing script crawling up and down her chest even if she was blind. It was that bright.
Combined with the blood that had drizzled down her sides from some wounds she didn’t remember receiving and Mae might have thought her body was a living canvas for some insane court-based painter far from the capital of the kingdom of Nardes.
But she wasn’t a piece of art.
She was grateful at least that with the the cloud lifted from her mind, she could process that and more now that her magic made it possible for her to react to the present, and not just the delirium that had fogged over her thoughts. Mae realized that her whole body hurt—from the deep scratches at her hips, to the soreness of her chest that seemed to thrum with glint of the glowing scripts, to the feet shackled and enduring the weight of her body held upside down.
It was the pain that let her know this was all reality and not some dream.
It was the bitterness in her mouth that reminded her of how she had gotten here in the first place. Donna Marie’s betrayal. Hers and others. Mae’s hazy memory was coming together like puzzle pieces long ago separated and what she remembered—she didn’t like.
Every second she lingered in her mind—growing panic set in.
The kind of fear that was inescapable and overwhelming.
She sensed an ominous presence tied to not just Donna Marie thought, but now over the entire greater holding. A presence that meant evil had already been done and it made her pulse race. Mae didn’t care what was happening to her. She shivered in the dark however thinking about what had become of her family members.
The only thing she could do was hang around and hope. Hope that they had gotten away, somehow, someway.
“Enough of old worries,” Mae said to herself as she shifted her gaze around and grimaced with the liquid that drifted into her eyes—temporarily blinding her.
It wasn’t tears though. It was blood.
Wincing, Mae tried to get wipe away the sensation of her dried blood that had slowly dripped down her face from her chin over her lips, over her nose, and over her eyes. Her hands were free so she could periodically let them fall and smear away what she could towards her hair line and on her clothes.
She didn’t do that often because she had learned that by keeping her hands looped on her belt she could shift some of the dead weight of her hanging arms onto the core of her body.
It felt better. If only for a moment.
There were so many other things wrong, that temporary relief didn’t absolve all the other issues. Like the fact that just to be able to breathe and keep her eyes clear she’d been forced to keep her eyelids and mouth closed. Now that the wound had been sealed enough that it wasn’t leaking a steady stream, she could open them again. That was no problem when it came to her mouth.
But her eyes? Well, the blood had dried over her lids until it was a thick crust she couldn’t dislodge.
It was driving her crazy.
Not to mention the fact she was seeing things. Things that had nothing to do with her current position hanging upside down and everything to do with the casting Donna Marie had done to unlock Mae’s gift.
The only thing Mae remembered was that whatever had happened to her…she had brought onto herself.
The thought made her squirm inside. She couldn’t precisely remember how. Her memory was clearer but it wasn’t completely back, so whatever it was that had merited this punishment from the foreign woman and her cohort…Mae had to guess it had been something crucial. Maybe she had stumbled upon something she hadn’t. Ran into someone she shouldn’t have. But the past was the past and now she was paying for it.
Mouth wrenching in displeasure Mae realized that if she was going to get out of this she’d have to do so quickly. Before she sank back into unconsciousness aided by her dizziness and blood loss.
Twisting herself back and forth made her feet hurt but it allowed her to do pull herself by her torso enough times that she saw the chains around her feet were double-wrapped. Secure enough to keep her hanging up here but perhaps not for long.
Mae made a plan. She twisted some more and desperately reached out with her free hands to get purchase. She made it just barely. Gripping her upper thighs with desperation until she could physically climb up her legs with straining hands and reach between her feet for the chains that imprisoned her.
It was the most exhausting thing Mae had ever done but she made it, tears freely falling from the corners of her eyes as she panted in exertion and struggled to hold her body weight up by her arms and not let go.
Her eyes desperately searched the metal links she could see clearly now that she was raised up to the level of her feet. She was looking for some kind of linchpin or lock that she could loosen to free herself.
Her eyes snagged on an incongruity just as her arms began to shake from the strain.
Found it! She thought triumphantly.
There it was.
Knowing she couldn’t stay in this position for long, she lunged for the bit of metal that meant her freedom, grabbed it and yanked.
Joy went through Mae’s mind as she realized she had won. But just as quickly followed panic as she felt her back falling backward as she realized her hands were no longer anchored as well. Suddenly she was scrambling frantically as she realized she hadn’t exactly thought the next part through. Desperate not to plummet to the ground unchecked Mae clutched at anything metal she could reach.
She felt something cold and slick which might stop her fall but she’d only managed to grab onto the now loose chains that had bound her feet. That wouldn’t help.
Yet I’m not falling, Mae thought in amazement.
Panting heavily Mae peeked up, almost too afraid to look, and realized that her left hand had grabbed the loose chains but her right was snagged onto the hook that had been holding them all up.
“Thank the gods,” she whispered in fervent prayer as she smiled up at the first good thing that happened that day.
She even felt some relief sweep through her.
That is until a sheering sound whispered from above.
Upon release the 3rd book in the Algardis series will be live at https://www.terahedun.com/magesbyassembly