Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Book Spotlight: The Three Sisters

Today I have a treat, a spotlight on the fantasy novel, The Three Sisters by Rebecca Locksley (the pen name of award winning author Jane Routley). Plus, there's the prologue excerpt from the book. Enjoy!



The Three Sisters by Jane Routley (writing as Rebecca Locksley)

Three sisters, estranged from the Society they are destined to save. Elena, more beautiful than any man can resist, is kidnapped, her destiny controlled by the men who desire her. Yani, warrior woman, brave, strong, able to pass as a man, who will do anything to find Elena. Marigoth, powerful female mage, determined never to grow up, equally committed to finding their missing sister. In a country oppressed and cruelly ruled, the fate of many people lies in the unsuspecting hands of these three women.



You can find The Three Sisters at




Excerpt from The Three Sisters

Prologue


Mathinna’s Story

Three children born of life force,
A bridge from death to life,
from imbalance to harmony.
The warbird flies at their command
to rein in the people of the dragon.
A demon fire that burns toward Ermora
Yields to their quenching
A melded child of their making
is born to rule the dragon
To bring harmony in clasped hands.


Pushing aside the fallen stones of Asgor’s fortress with bloody hands, Mathinna pulled herself out of the smok­ing rubble. She felt . . . shaken, devastated—no, those words ­were too lukewarm for what had happened. Mathinna had killed Asgor and in killing him had, like all her people, been forced to share his experience of death. She felt as if her own heart had stopped and her own skin had been blistered with agonizing fire, even though she was well and mostly ­whole.
Ah, but it had been worth the pain!
Mathinna looked over at the charred body of the dead demonmaster and felt a shamefully unclean glow of plea­sure. To kill must always be wrong, but she was still glad she had done it.
You are avenged, my son!’ she thought.
Yet in her moment of triumph she knew how small the gain was. Asgor’s death could not bring back Garroway. The demonmaster had fed her son’s life spirit to a demon and it had gone into the Abyss, ripped from the Circle of Life, never more to be part of the conscious world. Unlike Asgor, whose life spirit could still meld with the Circle, Garroway was utterly destroyed.
Her triumph turned dark. At first she had longed to feed Asgor to his own demon, but to do anything to feed the Abyss . . . the life spirit forbade such revenge. Revenge would not bring Garroway back. Her body drooped, then she shook herself. At least Asgor was dead and his evil had died with him. Her own grief was personal—no one’s burden but her own.
With difficulty she crawled forward. I must leave this place, she thought. Asgor had drawn on the power of his demon servant; it had been a hard fight to overcome them both. And he had created all manner of vile creatures. She could sense that they ­were still lurking about.
Mathinna was astonished to see that there was still light outside. The demonmaster’s fortress stood on a headland above the city of Olbia. On the opposite headland was the Tower of Olbia where even now Gorice, High Chieftain of the united Seagani tribes, may his name be cursed forever—cowered with his court. It was he who had called for Tari assistance against Asgor, and he who had trapped the three unsuspecting Tari mages and handed them over to his supposed enemy. Now that she had defeated Asgor, someone would come to take Gorice to Ermora, where he would be submitted to the judgment of the life spirit. There in the Spirit Cave he would be made to live through all the wrongs he had done as if he had been the victim himself. Mathinna could not begin to imagine the horror of it.
Her limbs ­were shaking. She sat down upon a huge tumbled stone block to catch her breath and recover. That was when she noticed two figures farther along on the same headland as herself. Two Tari figures.
Had those snail brains in the council already sent someone? Amazing! The figures looked familiar. Who . . . ?
Sweet life, it was her son’s wife, Shara. This was no place for a grieving widow, especially not a pregnant one. Mathinna strained to get to her feet to hurry down to her, but she was so exhausted she could barely hobble.
Who was that with her? He should have stopped her coming. Ah, Jagamar! Shara’s horrible brother, who’d never done a useful thing in his life. But he hated the outlanders. What was he doing . . . ? As she watched, Jagamar squeezed Shara’s shoulder as if to make a point. Shara nodded once, raised her clasped hands and pointed them at the Tower of Olbia on the opposite headland. Mathinna felt, rather than saw, the bolt of magic that came from between those hands.
The bolt hit the headland beneath the tower with a deep thud. There was a cracking noise and small rocks fell. With a horrible, groaning slowness, the tower and the ­houses and the rock beneath them began to slide.
No!” screamed Mathinna. She tried to summon the power to stop the collapse, but she had no more strength than a newborn baby.
The entire cliff face and the tower plunged into the sea with a roaring crash. A monster wave was thrown up, smashing against the remaining headland and washing over the beach beneath, pounding boats and little huts to kindling, then crashing over Olbia’s walls.
Mathinna was frozen with horror. She could feel the screaming terror of the people within the tower, within the ­houses below and in the little boats. She could feel the balance of nature tipping as if a jagged piece of night had suddenly ripped through the curtain of day. It made her so sick that she fell sideways to the ground.
The moment her sickness passed she thought of Shara. What had she done? What would happen to her now?—and to Garroway’s baby within her womb? Mathinna dragged herself upright and staggered toward the others. Shara was convulsing on the ground. Jagamar, that worthless man, stood uselessly over her, hands on his face. The baby! The last reminder of her son Garroway—what if it ­were lost? Mathinna threw herself down beside Shara.
The young woman was choking and clawing at the air. Suddenly, with a last terrified gasp, she went limp.
What’s happening?” cried Jagamar, horrified.
You fool!” screamed Mathinna, punching at Jagamar. She gathered Shara in her arms. She could feel the tiny ­half-­formed child within her writhing in distress.
Shara’s eyes had flown open again. Once more she was convulsed, struggling and pawing at the air. There was nothing Mathinna could do for her but let things run their course. But the baby . . . Mathinna put her hand firmly on Shara’s belly and, using what felt like the last of her strength, tried to calm the unborn child and bind it safe within.
What’s happening?” cried Jagamar, grabbing Mathinna’s arm.
Let me go, you fool. What did you think you ­were doing ­here? What possessed you? Now she must suffer every death she caused.”
It wasn’t enough to put Gorice in the Spirit Cave. He killed three Tari, the dirty outlander,” shouted Jagamar. “Death is the only thing enough for—”
Can’t you see that the judgment of the life spirit would have been worse than death? To live on with the knowledge of your own wrongdoing?” Mathinna was so angry she resorted to violence, hitting him on the shin. “How can you understand so little of the life spirit? He would have suffered as she will suffer now. She will experience every single death she caused one by one.”
It was difficult to calm the unborn child when she herself was so furious.
“ ‘One by one,’ ” echoed Jagamar in a horrified voice. “We didn’t realize it would be one by one.”
Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me,” Mathinna snarled between clenched teeth. “How could you even contemplate causing so much destruction? The two of you must have killed over one hundred people! Oh, my little child,” she crooned to the baby in Shara’s womb. “Be calm!”
They deserved to die. They stood by while . . .”
What? . . . Servants, children, fisherfolk? Prisoners in the dungeons? Are you insane? What say did they have in the madness of their leader? Of what horror is your mind made, Jagamar? What kind of Tari are you?” Shara collapsed limply again, leaving Mathinna free to look up.
As she did so she saw something glittering on the ground beside Shara. She snatched it up. It was a big blue lump of cut crystal—a Mirayan power crystal. She had seen such things on a visit to Mirayan Ishtak.
What is this, Jagamar? This is yours, isn’t it? One of those Mirayan trinkets you bought back from Ishtak. What is this for?”
Shara wanted it to focus her power.”
Oh did she?” cried Mathinna. “Why? She never had any interest in those evil little trinkets before. All she could think of was my son and babies. This was your idea, wasn’t it?”
She asked me for the crystal and I gave it to her.”
And came along to see that she went through with it. You vicious horror! You’re the one who hates outlanders, not her. This was your idea, wasn’t it?”
Jagamar looked scared. “No! I just came along to support her. You saw. She’s the one who did it. I did nothing wrong. How could I have stopped her? You know I’ve got very little power.”
Mathinna waved the power crystal at him. “She could never have forged such destruction without this thing.”
Shara began to struggle and choke again. Mathinna turned back to her. Jagamar hovered over them.
I did nothing. I’m too weak to bring that cliff down and you know it. I did nothing!”
You disgust me!” snarled Mathinna. “Don’t just stand there justifying yourself. Go and get help, murderer! Can’t you see your sister has a terrible time before her, and she may lose her child?”
Jagamar lunged forward and grabbed the power crystal out of Mathinna’s hand. She was too caught up with Shara’s child to stop him.
Then he was gone, running away over the headland to where the Circle of Power could take him back to Ermora, leaving Mathinna to struggle with Shara’s continuing death and her unborn child.
Help did come in the form of other Tari, although Jagamar played no part in sending them. Mathinna and Shara ­were taken back to Ermora, and although Shara continued to die for a day and a night—over 150 deaths—she did not lose her child.
Afterward she could do little more than sit and stare into empty space, as one does when the mind is numbed by horror. Mathinna struggled to suppress her own grief so that she might help her son’s widow, but it came as a relief when the Guardians came and told Shara that she might enjoy the relief of unbeing in the Spirit Cave without the fear of being punished further. Shara was glad to go. She had never been ­strong-­minded and she could not bear the knowledge of all the suffering she had caused.
Friends urged Mathinna to seek the relief of unbeing as well, but Mathinna wanted to grieve. She felt her son deserved such a sacrifice, and indeed she found some comfort in making it.
Jagamar was noticeably absent from his sister’s side during this time, yet Shara refused to bear witness against him. An inquiry into the destruction of Olbia was held, but the council was dominated by Jagamar and Shara’s father, a man who served po­liti­cal necessity rather than the life spirit. Jagamar was exonerated of any blame; and Shara’s actions ­were pronounced justified madness. It was a pop­u­lar verdict even though many ­were shocked by it. For violence can never be justified to those who truly love the life spirit, even in the case of revenge. If it had been, then surely Shara would not have suffered so.
Mathinna paid little attention to the debate that followed when many Tari cried out that the lands outside Ermora ­were too full of demons for it to be safe for Tari to travel, that the outlanders had shown themselves to be unworthy of being helped.
Normally Mathinna would have been one of the most powerful advocates in favor of traveling outside Ermora, for she was widely respected and one of the se­nior members of the Society of Travelers. She had always felt passionately that for their own good, energetic young Tari needed to leave the wonderful easy life of Ermora and contend with the less perfect world of the outlands. It was the Tari’s duty to repay the care of the life spirit by bringing its balance and love to the people there. As for the danger of demons . . . that was ridiculous. Mathinna had traveled all over the Archipelago and knew that most outlanders would have fought to the death to protect the Tari from demonmasters like Asgor.
Yet in those bleak days she cared for little but to sit in her bower and look over her son’s things. When the council took the decision to disband the Society of Travelers and forbid outland travel, she spoke out against them, but by then it was too late. She let herself be ruled by the will of the majority as was proper for a Tari, and took the vow to abide by the decision.
Then Shara came back from the Spirit Cave. She had been gone some months by then and was now enormously pregnant. The darkness had gone from her face and in its place was a joyful light. She and Mathinna spent a few happy days talking over old times.
She told Mathinna that she had come to her for help with her labor. She seemed convinced that she would give birth soon, despite the fact that seven months was far too early. Mathinna wanted to examine her. Tari women do not give birth easily or safely, but Shara said the life spirit wished for things to follow their proper course.
It was only when Shara told Mathinna she did not, under any circumstances, want Jagamar to raise her daughters that Mathinna had any inkling that Shara did not expect to survive.
By then her labor had begun despite the earliness of the time, and only now did she allow Mathinna to use magic to look into her heaving belly. To her horror Mathinna discovered not one but three children within. Triplets! No Tari woman had ever given birth to triplets before! Where had the extra children come from?
She could feel the life spirit blazing in them with a power she had never felt in any being before. It was as if they ­were twice as alive.
The life spirit made the one into . . . three,” said Shara through her pain.
It is to replace the gap . . . in the great circle that was left . . . when Garroway and the other two ­were consumed. They asked me if I would undertake this task and . . . and I was glad to make some restitution for what I did at Olbia. . . .
Mathinna could feel her heart faltering under the strain. “Hold on,” she begged Shara with tears in her eyes. “You can make it through.”
Don’t be sad,” gasped Shara. “The life spirit . . . has gifted our . . . daughters greatly. And I am . . . not sorry to . . . die.”
It was the last thing she ever said.
By the time her family had arrived, her father, sister and that worm Jagamar, poor Shara was dead and three baby girls wailed lustily in their ­moss-­lined cots.
Three sisters.
Elena, Yanimena and Marigoth. 



~*~



Author Bio:

Two times Aurealis award winner Jane Routley lives in Melbourne.
She has published short stories, articles and a blog about working on a railway station.
She has published 3 books as under her own name – Mage Heart and the Aurealis award winners Fire Angels and Aramaya, and one book as Rebecca Locksley.
The Three Sisters is her fourth published novel available for the first time in Australia

Website: www.janeroutley.com/

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