My upcoming novel, The Bonded, will be released in just 62 days! I know many of you have been waiting very, very patiently for the book to come out. Some of you have been waiting years… So, I figured it’s about time I reward your patience and give you a little preview of what’s to come! So, without further ado, may I present to you a preview of The Bonded! Enjoy!
The ritual was held in the Temple of Union, inside the vast hollowed heart of a glowing wraith wood tree. The tree itself jutted upwards, jagged spires reaching high into the heavens. In the glow of the moon it shone faintly, its ghastly bark throwing out a whisper of icy blue light.
The inside of the tree was a great hollowed core, forming a large circular room with nothing but dirt for a floor. It had been stripped bare, save for a row of wraith wood chairs at the back of the room. Robed council members sat quietly, waiting for the ritual to begin. They wore cloaks the color of the midnight sky, their faces hidden in shadow but she could feel them watching. Candles were the only light in the room and they formed a circle in which she and another Bondless sat. The faint light flickered and shifted, colliding strangely with the blue glow of the tree.
It was the sixteenth year in their cycle and now it had come to this. Reaching up, the girl tucked her ashen hair behind her ear and stared at the boy across from her. He returned her gaze, his dark eyes wide with fright. He had a full face, a boyish chubbiness to his body that only a growth spurt could take away. His wavy brown hair had been smoothed back and he ran a hand through it nervously, no doubt afraid her gaze picked apart some untidiness he had failed to notice.
Their clothing was customary for the Ritual of Union; dark blue robes with a silver sash tied tight around the middle. They’d removed the dark leather boots they’d worn before entering and they sat barefoot on the floor, their feet tucked beneath them. The girl tugged impatiently at a loose thread and she couldn’t help but wonder how many Bondless children had worn those very same robes before her.
It was on this day that they would cease to be Bondless. Over the course of their youth, the Council had watched them. They had picked apart their personalities, studied their interests and dissected every action they had taken. It was with this information that they chose one boy and one girl to bond together. After the process, the two would cease to be apart. Their thoughts, minds and hearts would meld. It is said that the Bonded can know each other’s thoughts without speaking, can find each other even if a great distance separates them. To be bonded was an honor with no equal. To be given that special connection with someone was the greatest gift a Bondless one could be given. Such a bond would grant them the strength to face the Darkness that lurked outside the walls of Sanctuary.
It was also something the girl found completely and utterly pointless. She’d known her entire life that it would come to this moment. Sometimes she had watched the boys she’d been raised around, wondering which one the Council would see fit to match her with. As she’d gotten older, the allure of being permanently bound to someone had lost its shiny luster.
Now it just frightened her. The thought of giving her mind to another wasn’t even something she could fathom. They’d tried to allay her concerns, her mentors assuring her it wouldn’t be as terrible as she thought, but she’d known deep down that they were lying to her. And now she sat, watching the boy she’d be Bonded to with a dissatisfied frown.
It could have been anyone else and she would have been slightly more interested in the ritual but instead they’d chosen to stick her with him. His will was about as pudgy and pliable as his face. He was the kid that always did the right thing growing up, the kid that was first to tell the mentors when another had done something wrong. He would do anything for the good of Sanctuary and it grated on her nerves that someone could be so compliant. How could anyone not have an opinion of their own? How could anyone follow with questioning? It didn’t make sense.
The only thing she was really looking forward to was getting her name. Throughout her youth, she’d always been referred to as the Bondless, or simply called ‘Child.’ During the Ritual of Union, they would finally be given a permanent name. To have an identity of her own after all those years was something she had been anxiously awaiting.
A soft rustling caught her attention and she glanced up, surprised to find herself staring at the Union Master himself. The man had always been a bit of an enigma. He commanded the lands of Sanctuary, keeping its citizens safe from the Darkness that threatened them. Along with the Council, he made the rules and kept the peace. Until their time of union, most of the children rarely saw him.
He was an old man, much older than she remembered. His thinning hair had faded to a dull gray and he had a sharp, weathered face that looked like it had been carved from rock. He wore the same robes as them; dark blue with a silver sash. They hung loose on his lanky body and swirled around him as he approached. He regarded them with hawkish eyes, his lips drawn into a tight line. She exchanged a nervous glance with the boy next to her.
With a gesture of his hand, the Union Master commanded them to rise. They stood, but quickly dropped to one knee, bowing their heads to show respect. The Union Master nodded his approval and cleared his throat before speaking.
“Welcome, Children. It is good to see you both today. As you may already know, I am the Union Master. No doubt you’ve seen me throughout the years, but now I may properly introduce myself. From this point on you may refer to me as Master Nyson.”
“Yes, Master Nyson,” they spoke in unison, just as the mentors had trained them to.
“Ah, such manners” he spoke, his gravelly voice taking on a tone of approval. “You come before me today, two Bondless ones ready to take the next step in the cycle. As you know, the Council has watched you closely over the years. They have seen your desires, watched your actions and choices and have been amazed as you’ve grown before their eyes. We are all honored to guide you through this process. Shall we begin?”
She nodded, feeling her stomach twist at the thought but she managed to keep her expression passive. She didn’t want the boy next to her to think she was as frightened as he looked. Even now she could see him wringing his hands nervously.
From the shadows, two men emerged. They were identical. Tall and lean, they wore the same dark robes as the others in the room. Both seemed dreadfully pale and their chin length white hair made them look like ghosts in the light. They bowed respectfully to Master Nyson before taking a seat before them. Each held a leather bag and from these they produced several vials filled with a dark liquid, parchment, ink, quill and a strange instrument with a needle sharp point. This was all done in silence, the strange men hardly looking at each other. Their movements were precise and almost comical, so mirrored were they that they barely seemed to be separate people at all.
The girl watched this with fascination, her eyes wide as she observed the silent exchange. “This is what it is to be Bonded,” Master Nyson said. “To know the thoughts and feelings of another so deeply, you could mirror their movement without looking at them.”
We’ll share each other’s thoughts, the girl thought to herself. It irked her that someone could be privy to the things that she thought or felt. She looked at the round faced boy and silently cursed her luck. She didn’t want to be Bonded, not to him or to anyone. It wasn’t her choice, but what other choice did she have? Much like everything else throughout her childhood, this was something being decided for her.
Nyson regarded her with a level gaze. “Are you disappointed girl?”
The girl checked her face, skewing her expression to something more agreeable. “No, of course not, Master. My thoughts merely strayed.”
He nodded, his eyes hovering over her for a moment longer. “Very well. Let us continue the ritual. I could bore you with small talk, but I think you already know the importance of this. This Bond that you are to be given is unlike anything you’ve yet to experience. To succeed, you must treat your bond with the utmost respect. Treat each other well and you’ll flourish. Now, I think it is time you both received a name.”
At the mention of receiving her name, she turned her attention to the man in front of her. He set a piece of parchment between them, dipped his quill and waited for Nyson to continue.
The Union Master shifted himself towards her and she met his eyes. She mentally forced her hands to be still, trying to keep her nervousness from showing. “It took quite some time picking a name for you, Child. Through your youth you’ve shown that you are spirited and intelligent. Your kindness and bravery are commendable traits and it is these qualities we smiled upon when we thought of who to bond you with. Your strength of character compliments him greatly and will bring him happiness and stability.”
The girl smiled to herself as she listened, nodding in agreement as he listed off her more redeeming qualities. It was only when his face grew somber that the smile faded off her lips and she watched him with steely eyes. “One cannot just be made of good qualities, however. Be mindful of the doubt that plagues you, girl. We’ve seen it much over the years and we do not wish to see it lead you astray. You are curious about your new life and rightfully so, but curiosity can lead to trouble. Be thankful for the life you’ve been given and never cast doubt upon it. In this, your bond mate will help you. His dedication will reveal to you the value of devoting yourself to this process.”
“Yes, Master Nyson. Thank you,” the girl muttered, bowing her head. She bit back her frustration, glaring at the ground with enough force to burn holes through the world. Her cheeks burned and she was grateful for the dim light masking her embarrassment.
“Are you ready to hear your name?”
Anticipation hung around her like a thick cloud and the girl found it hard to breath. She clasped her hands tightly, feeling her heart flutter wildly in her chest.
“From this day forth, you will take the name…”
And there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little sneak peek of The Bonded! I’ll be announcing more information in the coming weeks about pricing and where to order! I appreciate the support and kind words I’ve received from all of you! Thank you so much for being a part of this journey! 🙂 Have any questions? Comments? Tell me all about it using the form below!
The Bonded will be released on December 7th 2015!