I’ve been quiet a long time, I know — getting On the Edge of Death finished nearly wore me out, more than I had realised, and for almost two months I wallowed in doing nothing except reading Scottish crime fiction — yes, tarton noir is this fantasy writer’s secret vice.
But I am back writing, if not as consistently as I’d like, and what I’m working on now is Becoming the Demon, part three in The Seven Circles of Hell. In fact, it’s almost half done. So I’m going to start sharing bits with you as part of my Monday Morsels series again, and I’m going to try to get back to finish telling you about last year’s trip to Scotland. If I’m honest, I’ve avoided that because I’m homesick for Scotland, and thinking about it, about how long it will be before we go back, makes my chest tighten up painfully. It will probably be 2021 at the earliest.
So, instead of dwelling on that, here is the opening page of Becoming the Demon.
The diagram appeared to delineate a gate, the stark black lines innocent in their simplicity; but not all doors lead to places a man wants to go.
Alloran hunched over it at the central worktable in his laboratory, sketching in a new line, with Gisayne peering over his shoulder.
The laboratory door banged open, the sound of the wood striking the stone reverberating through the room’s small confines. Gisayne jumped, jerking away from Alloran like a guilty lover, even though they’d only been huddled together over the diagram.
Alloran straightened, casually covering the image with a hand. Then his brain caught up with his reflexes; it was only Ashraque. He let out a long breath, and moved his hand away. Even if Ashraque had not already known what he was about, the planned out lines of sulphur and magnesium for a hell-gate were disguised with a code. The diagram instead spelt out the use of certain woods for its construction; ash for magnesium, oak for the sulphur. Concealing it, even casually, had been the stupid act of a guilty man.
“You scared the hell out of me, Ashraque,” he said.
“You should be scared.” Her words came out a gasp, and she paused, leaning against the door, winded. Her usually immaculate platinum blonde hair was falling from its pins, and her white pillbox hat was askew.
“What’s happened?” he asked.
“You have to run.” She straightened, jamming a pin back into her hair before the hat fell free. Her amber eyes were alight with intense anger. “Valgon has been elected to the position of Lord Wizard. The guards are already on their way.”
About BECOMING THE DEMON
Not all doors lead to places a man should go.
Desperate to rescue Dek from the fifth circle of hell after abandoning him, Alloran’s task is complicated when he is forced to go on the run again. Bereft of all resources, Alloran enters into the shady world of loose morals and stitchers—black wizards hiring out their services to the highest bidder. When a strange woman presents him with a lucrative but criminal opportunity, he must ask what Dek’s life is worth to him — or is it the chance of a challenge he cannot defeat that tempts him into the criminal underbelly of the city?
Gisayne is fixated on avenging her father’s murder, but Alloran, consumed by his need to rescue Dek, will not help her. Alone, she hunts the deadly wizard Ladanyon, but when the trail leads her back to Alloran, she must fight to save him—but is the greatest threat to Alloran from the black wizard or himself?
Blinded by his determination, Alloran risks crossing a line to become the very thing he fights against.