QSFer Nita Round has a rereleased FF steampunk/fantasy out, book three of “The Towers of the Earth”: “A Touch of Darkness.”
In the shadows, treachery and betrayal grow unseen.
The state funeral of Princess Olivia at Port Ruth marks the end of the Queen of the Desert’s reign of terror. As Lucinda, Magda and Ascara attend this grand ceremony, all is not as it seems. A storm of secrets and lies emerge from the shadows and the darkness threatens to destroy them all.
No matter where Magda goes, her heritage calls to her. Even when they make their way home, peace and safety are still not theirs. Malice and betrayal, hidden and out of sight, finds the three women and threatens to pull them under the waves of death and pain once more.
For the Trinity of Truth: Raven, Fire and Ice, there can be only one way forward, but at what price?
This is the third in the Towers of the Earth fantasy adventure series. Previously released as Raven, Storm and Shadows in 2019.
Captain Magda Stoner stood atop the palace wall, stared over the city of Port Ruth, and out across the bay. The sun, low on the horizon, bathed the whole city in a red-gold shimmer, but she hardly noticed. Her thoughts remained conflicted and uncertain in this time of grief. It had been five years since her wife had been killed, yet it had taken until now to bring home the remains for the funeral she deserved.
Three others stood with her for this, the first night of mourning. Lucinda Ravensburgh, the Raven of Raven Tower, and Ascara, the Fire to her Ice. They would always be with her, no matter what. They were as one, and she took strength from their nearness.
With them stood Prince Mogharan Ruth, ruler of all Rabia, and brother to Olivia. They’d been friends once, but time and events had rendered their friendship moot. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. Upon his shoulders, grief sat like a heavy cloak. He’d lost his sister in such a terrible way, and even after all these years, he still grieved for his loss. His grief made her uncomfortable. Magda looked away.
Magda pulled at the collar of her grey dress uniform as though she might blame her discomforts on her clothing. She ground her teeth and tensed her jaws together with such force her whole face ached, but at least she didn’t scowl. Emotion threatened to overflow her control, but she didn’t have time for emotions to cloud her mind or her judgment. Not now she had duties to perform.
I am like ice, she told herself. Ice. And I feel nothing.
They had almost died to bring Olivia home. Yet now they were here, she wished she could be someplace else. Any place else. Even back in the tomb of Sh’Na, where she would rather face the wrath of the Queen of the Night herself than this. This grief and this loss.
At her side, Ascara stood ramrod straight. Her stiffness had little to do with her formal uniform and more to do with the ownership mark upon her collar. A ceremonial sabre rather than her more familiar sword lay across one hip, and a three-barrelled pistol rested on the other.
Next to her, Lucinda wore a black dress of mourning. The red hair swept back in a tight and severe bun and the gold chain of ownership around her neck were the only signs of colour.
Neither of them had complained about the marks of ownership they were once more forced to wear. It was not easy for them, but they bore the indignity with grace and poise. Both of them. Magda wished she could remove this indignity, but to do so would have compromised their safety, and she would not—could not—do such a thing.
She turned her attention to Mogharan. All in black, with gold epaulettes, gold braiding, and rows of medals on his chest, he looked very much the part of the leader of the Rabian High Guard.
“Face the sun, Mag,” he said. His voice sounded harsh and disapproving. “You know this.”
Magda nodded. To turn away from the sunset on the first day of mourning would be to turn away from God. And no Rabian would ever do such a thing. On this day, she would be a good Rabian.
She adjusted her gaze and watched as the sun sank further over the horizon. In the bay, the sea turned from blue to grey and then, as the sun sank out of sight, the sea turned black. As far as she could see, not a single white top marred the stillness of the ocean.
Darkness spilt like ink across the city and chased away the remaining light. Not a single lamp nor open flame broke the gloom. This ever-active city, which brimmed with life and commotion, had drawn to a complete stop. No one spoke. Still, like death, the thriving city had become little more than an empty and abandoned ruin.
A city of the dead.
When the last sliver of light vanished below the horizon, she and Mogharan turned to the temples of the four quarters on the palace grounds. The priest of the third quarter stepped out onto the parapet of his tower. In his hand, he carried a single lit candle, the only light in the city that drew attention to this one man.
Nita has written all her life, whether short stories, games scenarios or novels. She loves to write about strong female characters, fantasy and speculative fiction.
When not working, she is an avid gamer, she escapes to any world, any format, any console, and any time. She also plays Role Play Games (AD&D, Werewolf, Cthulhu) and is sadistic enough to be the dungeon master whenever she can.
Other interests include: cemeteries, cooking (inherited from family of chefs), making damson gin and of course tasting it make sure it is fit for consumption.
Find out more about her on: https://www.nitaround.com/
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NitaRoundBooks/