Ahhh, I’m soooo excited! Today I will be sharing with you the first chapter from my upcoming novel, The Cursed: The Allseer Trilogy Book II. Suffice to say, this chapter preview will have spoilers from the first book, so if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you either skip this post entirely, or hop on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of it for yourself.
While I haven’t announced an official release date yet, I wanted to share a bit of the story with you all to give you an idea of what you’ll be seeing in book two!
I hope you enjoy the preview!
Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you are most looking forward to in The Cursed! 🙂
The Cursed: The Allseer Trilogy Book II
“I can’t believe you’re serious about this,” Garild scoffed, arms folded across his chest. The puckered, pink flesh of the stump of his arm looked vivid and angry against the darkened folds of his shirt. “I just don’t understand you. Why is it so hard to just stay here? Why is it so hard for you to stay where you’re safe?”
Kirheen rubbed at her temples, too tired and aggravated to be having such a conversation. She’d just wanted to let him know of her plans, to let it sink in that she was actually leaving. Instead it had blown up into an argument, one he wasn’t about to let her win. “You really think we’re any safer here? Just because Therin and the others have stayed out of sight all these years doesn’t mean that’ll last forever. I know that. They know that. And yes, thank you, I am serious about this. I can’t just stay here, Garild.”
Garild frowned. “You could and you can and you should. And I absolutely believe we’re safer here away from the city. Tensions abound out here same as there, yes, but there is far less conflict this far north. We don’t have seekers here like they do there. There aren’t mass beheadings, nooses at every turn and a lunatic royal family fanning the flames. What you have here is scared, frightened people who just happen to be a bit jumpy and those are easy enough to avoid.”
“Tell that to the girl they beat to death when we first arrived. I’m sure she’d love to hear how safe it is for her here. Maybe you can offer to protect her!” They were unkind words but they slipped out all the same. She couldn’t help it. Her frustrations with Garild had been building, brewing beneath the surface. Ever since the loss of his hand and the fall of Sanctuary, he’d been a brooding mess. He avoided people, especially Kirheen, like the plague. He spent most of his days reading, quietly working his way through dusty old tomes provided by Therin. She’d tried to talk to him about everything, to figure out what exactly it was eating away at him, but he responded with harsh words, berating her until she just gave up. It was always the same.
He had a lot to be upset about. His whole world had changed seemingly overnight. He’d lost his hand, his bond, his way of life all in the blink of an eye and what he had been left with was a well of emotions he hadn’t even started to process. Instead, he chose to sulk and seethe, baring his teeth to any that wished to help him. And his anger, that he saved for Kirheen.
“There hasn’t been an incident like that in months and from the sounds of it, those strings of deaths were fairly isolated. They got their blood. It’ll stay calm now.”
“So easy to just brush it off, huh? As long as they get to hang someone every now and then and stay calm for a few months, it’s all suddenly okay? You’re delusional, Garild. You aren’t any safer here than I’d be in the city and you know it!”
“You’re just running away! That seems to be how you like to handle things. Just turn your back and flee from your guilt and see how far that takes you.”
“Enough!” Kirheen hissed, an edge of warning in her voice. He’d gone too far, prodded too deep at wounds that had yet to heal. She stood, letting herself rise to her full height. Her nails dug painfully into her palms.
“Or what, Kirheen? You want to hurt me some more? You’ve already done enough damage.”
“You know I didn’t run away. I found help and I came back to save my friends.”
“And a piss poor job you did! And now you’re going to run off, just run away to the city to rock the boat some more. Why can’t you just leave things alone? Why can’t you just keep your nose out of things? Every time you get involved, people get hurt.”
Kirheen recoiled from the words as if Garild had splashed a bucket of acid in her direction. “That isn’t fair, Garild. It isn’t fair at all and you know it. Stop trying to make me the enemy. I did the best I could. I never meant…”
Garild cut her off with a wave of his arm, the lack of hand at the end of it horribly noticeable. “No, of course not. You never meant for any of it and so it’s all just forgiven. It all just goes away. It doesn’t bring back my hand, Kirheen, and it certainly doesn’t bring back Fenir or Ian. And neither will you running off to the city.”
His words punched through her, tearing through muscle and bone and crushing her heart beneath their weight. She swallowed hard but the lump in her throat refused to be dislodged. She met his eyes, eyes that now seemed so unfamiliar, so unforgiving. They had held warmth in the not-so-distant past, but now it was gone, drowned beneath a flood of bitter anger.
Kirheen collected the shambles of her heart, rearranged her features and spoke the words she’d come to say to begin with. “I leave for Val’shar in three days. Goodbye, Garild. Take care of yourself.” She spun on her heels, bolting for the door before he could reply. She slammed it shut with more force than she’d intended, startling the chickens crowded near the front door. They scattered in all directions, flinging feathers as they went.
Something heavy was tossed across the room she’d just fled. There was a crash of glass, a muttered curse and then silence. Kirheen was shaking, adrenaline coursing through her. She balled up her fists, locked her arms at her side and tried to still her heart. It was hard not to let his words get to her, hard not to second guess her decision. It was so easy to let herself believe that it had all been her fault.
She’d done everything she could do. She couldn’t have foreseen the consequences of her actions, couldn’t have known that it would end in people being hurt, in people dying. It was something that weighed on her every day. It disrupted her sleep, echoed through her dreams, and haunted her every waking moment. Leaving was never going to make that go away and she didn’t want it to. Such pain was the price of change and she would never forget that or the people that died along the way.
A hand gripped her elbow, pulling her sharply away from her thoughts. She whirled, fully expecting to come face to face with Garild. Instead it was Tomias who recoiled from her anger, his brown eyes wide with surprise. Kirheen let out an unsteady breath and gave Tomias a half-hearted smile. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you.”
“For the sake of the person you’re angry with, I’m glad it was me and not them. That look would have made a lesser man croak,” Tomias teased, but his smile faded as he took in her expression. He stepped forward and pulled her close. Kirheen felt herself relax, her arms wrapping around him. She buried herself against his chest, letting him block out the light and the thoughts in her head. He smelled of hay and dirt, scents that followed them both, but she took comfort in it all the same. Months later, and they still called the stables home but it was safe and dry and that she couldn’t complain about.
He rested his chin on top of her head and sighed. “That didn’t go well, did it?”
“About as well as expected,” she groaned, her voice muffled. “Actually, it went worse.”
“He’ll come around, Kir. Just give him time.”
“That’s what people keep telling me but it doesn’t seem to be helping,” she sighed, pulling away from his embrace with some effort. “Come on. I need to get away from here. I need to walk.”
They cut through the field behind the house, climbing the gentle rise of a hill. Tall grasses swayed, glowing golden in the light of the sun. Flowers bled color into the surrounding hills, nourished by the spring rains of prior months. It should have brought a feeling of peace, but it only reminded Kirheen of the opposing emotions she felt, clashing so sharply with the scenery around her.
“He thinks I’m running away,” she choked. “He thinks I’m trying to forget.”
Tomias stood at her side, his eyes glowing as he surveyed the distant hills. His hair was pulled back in a high tail, a few wispy strands of white hair fluttering in the breeze. He’d grown a beard over the past few months. It made him look older, rugged, a sign of the hardships he’d endured. Kirheen suspected it was his way of hiding from his own reflection, a way of not seeing his brother every time he looked in a mirror. The loss of Fenir haunted them all, a ghost clinging to their shoulders, a burden that would never go away.
“But you know better. You did everything you could.”
“I know. I know that. It just doesn’t make me feel any less guilty. I’m still responsible for their feelings, their hurt. It’s my burden and it’ll follow me no matter where I go. It isn’t something I can just run from.”
Tomias gave her a sideways glance, his mouth forming a tight line. “You know I don’t blame you. I’ve never blamed you for what happened. You aren’t responsible for this.”
Kirheen shook her head. “If I hadn’t…” she inhaled sharply, trying to keep her voice level. “Tomias. I think you should stay here. You shouldn’t follow me. It’s foolish to go to Val’shar, we both know this, but I can’t stay away. I need to see it for myself. I just, I can’t be responsible for you. If something happened…”
He turned towards her slowly, arms crossed over his chest. His lips sagged into a disapproving frown, his brow furrowed. Irritation oozed from his body language, his eyes swirling with emotion. “Kir, that’s enough. You’re letting his words get to you. I’m not tagging along so you can take care of me. I’m not coming with you to guilt you or stand in your way or hold you back. I’m coming because I’m your friend and I’ll be damned if I let you take that journey alone. I’m coming because I care. Don’t make that decision for me. You don’t want me to come with you for some reason other than guilt, by all means, get it out while we’re both standing here, but don’t you dare take away my choice because you’re afraid of what might happen.”
And there it was, the truth she’d been avoiding. She was afraid; afraid of her feelings and afraid of her guilt, afraid of the world around her that was still so new and dangerous. Her lack of knowledge scared her, her lack of power even more so. Her battle against Nyson had humbled her, had shown her how little she was prepared to deal with this new world around her. She’d been but a small fish in a pond, suddenly dropped into an ocean of hungry sharks.
She was pushing him away because she was scared of losing anyone else. The pain she’d felt at losing Ian and Fenir was something she never wanted to feel ever again. And somehow, she knew if something happened to Tomias, that pain would be even greater. Despite it all, she needed his support. She couldn’t go to the city alone, didn’t want to. “I’m sorry, Tomias,” she sighed, turning towards him. She raised her head slowly, eyes marking a trail from his crossed arms, along the lines of his neck, over the curve of his lips and the point of his nose until she met his gaze. She saw fear there, fear of the words that would follow. “I want you to go with me. I…I can’t do this alone. Please.”
His shoulders slumped, his arms dropping to his sides. He let out a great, billowing sigh and a shaky chuckle escaped him. “I was a bit worried you’d found another reason.”
Kirheen smiled. “Oh, I’ve got plenty, trust me. You’re just lucky I’ve forgotten them momentarily. I’ll remember soon enough.”
“It’ll be a shame once you do,” he grinned. He turned back towards the village and beckoned for her to follow. She trailed after him, her hands running along the tops of the tall grass. Three days would mark the beginning of a new journey. She was both excited and terrified of what lay before her. She’d spent so much of her life in the dark, locked away in a prison of glowing trees with no sense of what lay beyond. Now she had a chance to explore, a chance to see the world for herself, a chance to learn more about her powers and the reasons for hiding them. She’d soon have answers to so many questions. Only time would tell if she’d be ready for them.