Kay MacLeod- Heirs of Power
About the Author
Hi everyone, I’m so excited for you to be here. I’m the host of this event so I won’t spend too much time talking about myself as you can check out my bio link at the top to find out more and read some of my interviews too.
I’m a fan of all things fantasy, it’s pretty much all I read or write. And if I’m not doing something book-related I’m probably playing a fantasy RPG. When I first started dating my husband, our idea of a date night was levelling World of Warcraft characters together. Not much has changed…
Heirs of Power – Book One of The Constellation Saga
After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training. She’s been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father. She is a Constellation.
And she’s not the only one.
A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy. Kitty, along with a high-born dancer and a snarky juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.
With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?
About the Book
Heirs of Power is an epic fantasy novel that’s full of character-driven action. And plenty of banter. This is swords, sorcery, and sarcasm for any fantasy fan from YA to adult readers. You can read the first five chapters for free here. Or you can see some other extras by clicking the ‘books’ link at the top of the page.
Kitty looked over Serena’s shoulder as she unfolded the paper and felt the royal tense as she took in its contents.
“It is the letter we left…”
Kitty skimmed the writing. It’s started, two will meet you. Name a safe place.
But then on the bottom, in a different hand. Run, they know who you are.
They looked at each other with wide eyes for a split second, then grabbed their packs and bolted for the door.
They found themselves back in the receiving room, but they were met with an unnerving sight; Kitty noted that the room looked a lot smaller when it was packed with soldiers. These were not royal guards, but clearly a group of individual warriors with grey plates of armour and assorted weaponry consisting mainly of swords, daggers and cleavers. Alainia was speaking to one with distinctive grey skin and pointing towards their corridor.
Kitty grabbed Serena’s arm, intending to pull her back to the room. Maybe they could escape through the window?
It was too late, they had been spotted. The Dancer pulled away from Kitty’s grasp and swiftly tore out her fans. The Archer moved to deploy Venethos as the soldiers charged, hoping to take down a few before she had to rely on her knife. In that instant, her stomach flipped. She suddenly found herself next to a door leading out of the building, just a step behind the enemy soldiers.
An imposing man stood with her, his hand on her arm. He looked a few years older than her and was tall and slim with a scruff of dark blond hair and messy stubble. He was obviously not part of the soldiers’ squad- he wore no armour, just a loose, black cotton top with elbow-length sleeves, rugged trousers, and a self-satisfied smirk.
His grip tightened and he unceremoniously shoved Kitty behind him before she had time to react. She caught herself and succeeded in remaining upright. The closest soldier spun around to face whoever had approached him from behind. The blond man lazily tapped the enemy with one finger and glanced across to where Kitty had been a few seconds previously. The soldier vanished and Serena appeared in his place, brandishing her war fans.
“Asher!” she exclaimed, her relief palpable.
“Who else was gonna come rescue you, Dancer?” The Juggler was deep voiced, with a local accent. He turned to Kitty with an unhealthy amount of anticipation in his massive, liquid brown eyes, “Cover us, Archer.”
Asher drew a short sword from his belt with his left hand and launched himself into the centre of the battle. The squad had quickly realised their quarry had shifted and moved to surround the trio of Constellations. Kitty put herself in the doorway so she couldn’t be flanked, tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear and began firing Venethos’ conjured arrows into the mass of soldiers.
Serena wove around the enemy soldiers, her fans flashing as she waltzed between the incoming blows. She took the head off one man before spinning low and hamstringing another, her regal features still arranged into their usual calm expression.
Asher’s style of combat was unlike anything Kitty had seen before. It seemed that he used his strange swapping power as a weapon. He was never facing the same man for more than a second or two, constantly flicking between the soldiers. He kept at least one hand free to tap his target, using his short sword ambidextrously to combat unsuspecting foes as they unknowingly materialised in the blade’s path. Even merely watching was making Kitty feel queasy, she couldn’t imagine how disorientating it would be to try and fight against.
Five soldiers broke away from the rest and headed for the staircase, readying their bows. Kitty had put black and white arrows into three of their skulls when another small group rushed straight at her, swinging cleavers and screaming war cries. She felt an unusual calm settle over her as she lined up her first shot. Venethos was an exquisite weapon; it felt perfect in her grip and she swore that it improved her aim. It seemed to be an extension of her body and senses, a sleek predator felling her enemies one-by-one. She would have to break soon though- they were getting close. Kitty tensed, ready to duck an oncoming strike. Biting down nausea, she found herself on the marble counter at the other end of the room.
“Treacherous whore deserved it,” Asher commented jovially as he blocked a sword strike from one of the rapidly decreasing number of soldiers on the floor below her.
Kitty struggled to understand until she looked over to the spot which she’d been moved from. Alainia had taken the blow intended for her. The Juggler had switched the attendant into the path of the cleaver and now she was sprawled across the entrance, previously spotless skirts dyed a bloody red.
Kitty felled the remaining enemy archers before they could snipe at the Constellations.
“I was about to dodge,” she huffed between shots.
“Yeah, but two birds and all that. Now you got the high ground and I don’t have to kill her myself,” Asher’s cool drawl remained steady.
Kitty decided to ignore his harsh reasoning and concentrate on the task at hand, in the hope that she would be able to gain a better understanding of their new companion when they weren’t fighting for their lives. It was easier to pick off the remaining soldiers from her new perch and The Juggler faithfully removed any threat that came too close.
The Dancer was the most obvious target, but anyone who thought that this meant she was an easy one soon realised their mistake. She was more than a match for any of them, with not one blow landing on Serena as her fans flickered deftly into every unarmoured weak spot.
The chaos turned to calm in an instant. Kitty shot a man who had given up and run for the exit. He was the last. She checked and double-checked the room, alert for another attack and adrenaline still pulsing through her veins. The room was a state. Blood spatters covered the chipped marble decorations and a sea of dead bodies carpeted the floor. But there was something else out of place.
“The man leading them is gone,” Kitty shook her head, furious that she’d allowed the only grey-skinned man to escape.
“He’s gotta be in one of the other rooms- he didn’t go out the front,” Asher said with perfect confidence. “Let’s find that Tenebri-loving scum.”
“There is more than one way out of this building and we need to be away from here as soon as possible,” Serena interjected. “Take us somewhere safe, Asher.”
The tall man looked like he was going to argue but settled on giving The Dancer an exaggerated eye-roll.
“Only coz you asked so nicely.” He smirked.
A hard look flared in the noblewoman’s eyes, not used to this kind of insolence. Kitty quickly resolved not to get involved. The tension was lost on The Juggler, who swiftly shooed the women out, stopping only briefly to make sure they had all their gear. Kitty averted her gaze as she stepped over the pile of gore and frills to take her leave, although she was still unable to avoid the accusing blank stare of the dead woman at her feet.
Night was starting to fall and the impending rain with it. It made for a miserable journey, despite its brevity. Asher’s house was closer to the outskirts of Garrowgent, along a system of labyrinthine alleys. He gave them a set of directions, handed Kitty his door key and then disappeared into the gloom to check if anyone was following them. The Archer was relieved to approach the squat, single-story stone building. It was quite inconspicuous, looking solid but worn, and consistent with the drab grey theme of the city. She fumbled with the key for a few seconds, feeling the chill set in now that she was starting to get wet.
She dragged open the solid oak door and stepped inside with a sigh of relief. This feeling was short-lived- the place had been turned upside down. There were random objects and items of furniture scattered everywhere, and it seemed that everything from ornaments to tools had been snatched up from where they belonged and hastily discarded. The Juggler’s house had been thoroughly searched.
Kitty barred Serena’s entrance with an arm, motioning for the noble to be quiet and pointing to the scene of destruction that lay in their path. The door to the kitchen lay open on their right, it was dark inside but seemed empty. Serena glanced at Kitty before drawing her fans silently and nodding towards the closed door at the opposite end of the room. Kitty braced herself and gripped her knife.
“You can go in, you know.”
Kitty jumped, heart beating wildly as Asher appeared behind them.
“Look,” she whispered. “Someone’s wrecked everything, it’s a complete mess”
The Juggler frowned at her and surveyed the damage beyond the two women. He strode in, glanced around and shook his head. “Nope, that’s exactly how I left it.”
“You live like this?” Serena asked, disapproval written across her face as she eased the door shut behind them. “Do not bother with an answer. Where is your best guest room? I must change into clothing that is not covered in blood.”
“Well, I recommend the Summer Suite: it comes with a four-poster queen-sized bed, butler and private pool. Depends on what colour scheme you’re after though, love,” he deadpanned.
Lady Olbridge took the hint and flounced through the single closed door, just managing to stop herself from slamming it behind her. Kitty was left stood in the gloom awkwardly, not wanting to disturb Serena but certainly not wanting The Juggler’s ire turned towards her. The only solution, it seemed, was perfect neutrality.
Suddenly a tremor rocked the building, nearly knocking everyone over. Asher was at the window in an instant, twitching the curtains aside. “Get down!” he commanded, diving to the floor. A huge fireball ripped through the glass, shattering it, and exploding against the far wall. Sparks and gouts of fire showered the small space and the two children started to scream. The unnatural flames caught the wooden building and began to spread rapidly.
“Everyone, out!” someone shouted over the crackles and roars.
Clair picked up her youngest daughter, hoisting the girl onto her hip, and tried to help her weakened husband to his feet. Serena lent her assistance, pointing Clair to the door and lifting the skeletal man so that his arm was over her shoulder. Ellie fled after her parents.
Kitty got hold of whatever equipment she could seize through the haze of the smoke that was getting thicker by the second. She patted out an ember that was burning through her sleeve. The whole atmosphere was a scalding, choking oven. Sweat dribbled from Kitty’s forehead, invading her already stinging eyes.
“Asher! Come on!” she managed to croak. The Juggler was still at the smashed window, trying to get a lock on whoever had attacked them.
“You too!” yelled Stefan from the door.
All three of them took their leave of what was left of the family room as another explosion rippled through the house. The landing was a little clearer of smoke and Asher took a second to relieve Kitty of some of the bags that were weighing her down and threatening to trip her, swinging them onto his back.
“Go!” The Astronomer insisted from behind them.
A small cough came from the girl’s room at the other end of the house. Even with such inhuman eyes, the look of pure terror on Stefan’s face was unmistakeable. “No! Ellie! She must survive…” He panicked, then fled along the corridor towards his sister.
“Oh, crap,” Asher snapped. “By the bloody stars Astronomer, you’re the priority here!”
The Juggler had taken one step in Stefan’s direction when a colossal crash came from directly above them. Part of the roof caved in and pieces of blazing support beams dropped, cutting The Astronomer off from his escape route and nearly crushing The Juggler where he stood. Then the wall began to disintegrate, falling and knocking Stefan to the floor. He scrabbled weakly but couldn’t get up again.
“He may not be able to get himself out,” Kitty explained. “His mother said he has the same condition as Martin- he’s physically weak.”
“This just keeps getting better,” The Juggler growled.
“Juggle him out.”
“Love, if I could Juggle myself I’d be over there by now.”
She dropped the rest of the gear and grabbed his sweat-slick hand. “No, I mean me.”
The next thing she knew she was laid at the other end of the landing, covered in pieces of planks, splinter and ash. She crawled out and yelled back to Asher, “Next time I’d appreciate it if you at least tried to talk me out of doing something stupid and dangerous!”
“You’re intending on making this a habit?” came his dry reply. “Get to that back window Archer, The Astronomer’s coming round already, he’s fine.”
She could see through the gaps in the wood and fire that Stefan was partly holding himself up now. Asher had the gear on one side and The Astronomer on the other and was hastily heading downstairs.
Kitty stumbled over into the children’s bedroom where the smoke was blacker now and felt as if it was clawing at her throat and lungs. She wanted to shout for Ellie but the sound that came out was somewhere between a croak and a cough. Close to the floor there was slightly more oxygen, but even as The Archer sucked it in greedily she was aware that it was accompanied by poisonous gasses which still caused her to choke. She heard sobbing sounds coming from her right and crawled towards them, but just the smallest movements were getting harder as her limbs protested to the lack of air by turning to lead.
She found Ellie under the bed, curled in a tight ball. The girl flinched as Kitty gripped her arm and pulled her out shakily.
The journey to the window was the single longest trek of her life. Putting one hand forward, then one knee, then again and again, was a test of sheer endurance and will. She pushed, cajoled and physically dragged the young girl, with her own vision swimming and head pulsing with agony. How Kitty made it the whole way without vomiting was an utter mystery.
Eventually the goal was within reach and she went to lift the latch on the window. But it didn’t move an inch. At first Kitty thought it was because the heat and smoke had robbed her of strength and so she heaved more effort into undoing the latch. Then the realisation dawned: it was a child’s room- the window would be locked so they couldn’t fall out. She hammered at the glass with the little energy left in her dying body.
“Seems like a sweet little place, I’d like to live somewhere like this one day,” Kitty mused as they browsed various market stalls.
“Big cities are better for getting lost in,” Asher remarked. “Doubt you’d get your village boy to leave his home though.”
“Most people in my village have been there for generations and probably haven’t travelled more than a couple of hours outside its borders, it’s true. On the other hand, I think our situation may make it necessary. Plus, I’m a village girl and I have no problem being away from there.”
“You’re not a village girl,” he scoffed, “You’re some kinda feral forest folk- you get twitchy at the sight of a hamlet.”
“A log cabin in the middle of nowhere does sound infinitely more attractive, I agree. What did you find so appealing about Garrowgent?”
“Anonymity,” the reply came without hesitation, “No-one even knows their neighbours there. I was raised in that city and not a single person knows my real name. I got to grow and learn in peace, and practice my power without the chance of a friendly passer-by checking in to see how we were getting on.”
“Didn’t have time for being lonely,” Asher laughed. “Think you get this awesome by lazing around and socialising?”
“So, your parents were totally in agreement about this?”
“My dad always took whatever precautions were necessary, he’d seen what it takes to resist these scum. He didn’t have a woman around to debate the matter with,” The Juggler looked a bit uncomfortable and tried to hide it by intensely comparing two identical small backpacks.
“I never knew my mother. Serena said that they got to her when I was still a baby. Is that what happened to you?”
“Nope, she just never wanted to be around from the start,” he announced, over cheerily.
Kitty’s heart sank for him. It sounded like after Quentin’s death all Asher had left was The Constellations and their mission. So why did he seem to try so hard to push them away?
“Was it because of what we are?” Kitty kept her voice low.
“In a way,” her companion evaded, waving to get the stall-owner’s attention. “I’ll take this one, how much?”
The Juggler paid for the pack and then moved on, with Kitty trailing him and trying to match his long strides.
“Do you want me to stop asking about it?” she said as she caught up with him at the side of a tool stall.
“Whatever gave you that idea, love?” he mocked, fiddling with his hair. “Thought you came to watch my back, not badger me to death about irrelevant stuff that happened before you were even born.”
“I can do both,” The Archer assured, and Asher just shook his head in disbelief and perused a stand filled with knives.
“It’s not irrelevant, either,” she pressed. “I never really had the chance to talk to someone about it… My dad went to pieces at the mention of my mother and everyone else in the village had full, close families: parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters. I never knew if the way I felt and dealt with her not being around was normal.”
“Yeah, well I honestly wouldn’t use me as a baseline for anything,” he muttered, picking out a blade.
Alex Carver- Where There’s A Will
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Alex, an author from the land of ever changing weather, otherwise known as the UK. I’m a keen but lapsed golfer and a fan of history, mythology (especially Egyptian, it appears often in my books) books and movies, and the weird and wonderful, I’m a big fan of the weird and the wonderful.
When I’m not involved in one of my interests I’m a multi-genre author. Primarily I write crime stories and thrillers, with three titles out in my Inspector Stone Mysteries series, but I have also dabbled in sci-fi, action, and even children’s adventure, with titles that will be released over the next of years.
Where There’s A Will: Inspector Stone Mysteries #1
Nathan Stone finds himself caught between two tough cases as he struggles to find a kidnapped teen while also investigating an armed robbery at a music festival. If that isn’t bad enough, there are rumours the Russian Mafia is behind the kidnapping.
Alice Keating’s kidnappers want 3.5 million Euros or they’ll kill her. Can Nathan find her before they run out of patience, or will her father have to pay the ransom?
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