Recently on the World of Azuria podcast, I included a special bonus episode with a preview from Phoenix Rising.
Phoenix Rising is book one of my newest series, Feather & Flame. The chapter included in the episode follows Marcon through the war-torn lands of Eldura.
You can listen to this special bonus episode here or use the player below.
Alternatively, you can find it on your favorite podcasting app! Look for World of Azuria season 2, episode 22.
About the Chapter
I included this preview as a bonus episode alongside Buried Heroes to coincide with Marcon recounting part of his origin story to Iellieth. Why not also experience Marcon’s story directly for ourselves?!
Respite, Seven Years Ago
Respite was still a three-days’ march away when the first curls of smoke appeared over the peaks. He and his fellow soldiers of the Luz had put the ashes of Sanctuary behind them. Marcon’s last sight of the fallen city had been of Alessandra’s black dragon lieutenant, Braemorn, curled around the turrets. Even after two weeks, the smoky haze clung to his lungs.
His commander rode with her head hung low. Their ranks were half the size they had been when they set out from Respite.
It had been a century since the Luz had experienced such a defeat. The Sapphire Circle, an elite band of druid-warriors, had retreated north, to Vestige and on to Faer Haven. The Luz returned to their home city of Respite where the Council of Four awaited their report.
This would be one of Commander Draeza’s last nights breathing the free, fresh air.
A few of his unit had grumbled about her ordering their retreat. “She hasn’t the stomach for war,” he heard one old soldier say.
Marcon knew that wasn’t the truth. Draeza braved the council’s punishment to spare their lives. Perhaps the scarlet-skinned negata hadn’t the stomach to see the thousand troops in her command mercilessly slaughtered, tossed to whatever machines of war Braemorn and his minions would cart in before their rule over Sanctuary was absolute.
That was how a commander ought to be, ready to protect those in her care. He would say as much to Lorieannan, when he returned.
“Commander!” a pale elven woman cried as she sprinted up the steep slope of the Merediennes. She wore the brown leathers of the scouts, those positioned between the warfronts and the city centers. Those of elevated birth deemed too important—or too weak—to fight.
The Luz grumbled but allowed her to pass. A sea of what had once been white and gold, stained with soot and ash, parted.
From the center of their ranks, the commander slid off her horse. “Aye?” Draeza called.
The scout doubled over in front of the calvary. She pressed her hand against her chest, trying to catch her breath. “We’ve been routed. Cut off from the city.” The elf wheezed. She straightened, her narrow frame curved back. The scout shook her head. “It’s the largest force I’ve ever seen.”
Marcon’s blood ran cold. Murmurs and shouts rushed down the ranks. Voices rose, and several soldiers crumpled to their knees.
It was supposed to be safe.
Their entire force had been trained in the city of Respite.
They promised us it would be safe.
Draeza raised her sword overhead and silence fell. “Our intelligence was mistaken,” the commander yelled. “The nearest airship base is a day’s ride away.” She tugged her stallion forward and held out the reins for the scout. “Alert our allies, whatever it takes.”
They would never reach Lorieannan in time.
The stallion pawed the rocky earth as the elf swung up onto his back. She snapped the reins and they cantered off. The scout would ride till the horse collapsed, and then her run would begin anew.
“Soldiers of the Luz!”
Marcon clamped his arm against his chest and stood tall. He barked out a cry of attention. Five hundred of his fellow soldiers did the same. Their shout echoed across the mountains.
“Ilona has spared us for this,” the commander cried. “For Respite, we fight!”
Marcon bellowed, the sound grating against the scratches the smoke had carved along his throat.
His heartbeat set the pounding drum, and the soldiers ran down the mountain. He wouldn’t stop until he reached Lorieannan’s side.
Every soldier around him had someone in the city they loved.
This time, there would be no surrender. No defeat.
Feather & Flame book one is coming to a bookshelf near you later this year! Click here to read chapter one, “Ashes to Ashes.”
And between now and then, why not check out my first epic fantasy series, Age of Azuria? Sign up below for an exclusive prequel short story, “Blood Wolf Moon”!