Moving along on our two-week Blog Tour. Scroll down for previous posts.
Cara Patterson is an Edinburgh-based Scottish writer who has been telling stories since before she can remember, and progressed on to writing them down as soon as she had a grasp of the alphabet. Now she’s publishing her stories, and I’ve been lucky enough to have two of them for my anthologies, “Steel” in this book, and “The Girl at the Window,” a chilling, eerily lovely, unforgettable historical piece about Russian women snipers during Siege of Leningrad, in my anthology Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire. Don’t miss a chance to read her work wherever you can find it.
You can find a little of it right here, with this excerpt from “Steel,” not quite at the beginning, but far from the end.
She knew she had no hope of reclaiming the citadel from Talbot, not as long as the dragon lived, but there were sorcerers and mages who could enchant a blade, and make it strong enough to kill a dragon. That was what she would seek.
She followed whispers and legends and rumors.
If Talbot’s men crossed her path, she fought them. Her battles were clumsy at first, but by and by, she learned. She blooded her blade. She strengthened her sword arm. She smiled quietly in the darkness of taverns as people spoke of the brave knight with no sigil who stood against the tyrant.
Talbot’s men were everywhere, though many of them were not seeking the lost royals.
She had no doubt they sought the same thing as she did.
If some enemy could learn how to slay a dragon, then Talbot’s advantage would be gone. What he did not think on was the fact that she could follow his men, find where they hunted, see who they sought, and when they set a pyre for a witch—save her.
Three soldiers were little enough challenge, the rest of their legion still bent on subduing the village.
She cut them down, and hacked through the bonds pinioning the witch.
The witch stared at her, bruised and shaken, but defiant. “I am not your prize,” she said through bloodied teeth and lips.
Sianna smiled mildly. “No,” she agreed, “but you will come with me.”
The witch had no strength to fight, beaten as she had been. Sianna lifted her up onto her own gelding, Tar, mounting up behind her, and galloped away. There were shouts from other soldiers, who gave chase. Sianna cursed through clenched teeth, spurring her horse onward.
“You’re a witch,” she snarled at the woman before her. “Do something.”
The witch laughed, the sound racked with pain. “Save you so you can make use of me?” she whispered. “I think not. No man commands me.”
Sianna was in no mood for words. Instead, she snared the witch’s hand and thrust it between her thighs, then returned her grip to the reins. The horse was flagging, weighed down by two, and the countryside was wild, the terrain treacherous.
The witch jerked her hand back. She was staring. Sianna could feel her eyes boring into her face. Tar leapt beneath them, over a fallen tree, and the witch grabbed at Sianna, holding tightly with one arm. Her other hand extended toward the sky, burns from the rope visible on her pale skin, while her fingers twisted and curled as if snatching dust motes from the air.
Clouds poured together, thick and black, and thunder cracked. Blades of lightning cut down from the heavens, catching on nearby trees. Sianna’s horse screamed in terror, picking up speed, and behind them, the burning trees fell, blocking their pursuers.
Sianna’s heart was racing.
She’d heard rumors of how powerful some witches could be. It was said they were element weavers, spinning the elements as some would spin thread. But to manipulate the weather so easily, and bend it to her will? Suddenly, armor and a sword and shoulders as solid as steel meant nothing.
Want to read the rest? And many more stories?
THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS
Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.
Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.
June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of Solisterre”
June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
Or, if you don’t win a copy, there’s always: