Woodwalker excerpt, by Emily Benson Martin

WOODWALKER

PROLOGUE TO WOODWALKER

King Valien drummed his fingers on the rough table, the scars on his right hand shining pink against his copper skin.  Both he and the figure facing him were keeping their hoods up over their heads, and this extra covering coupled with the unsettling news he had just received were making his skin damp with sweat.  Before him, the only distinguishing characteristic the shadowed figure bore was a wrought silver band around one finger, set with a milky pearl.

“Are you sure?” the king pressed quietly.  The tavern buzzed with the ambient noise of townsfolk drinking away the day’s toils, but he could take no chances that he might be overheard.  If there hadn’t been a howling storm outside, he would have met his informant far out in the hills, away from sharp-eyed folk all too ready to report his surreptitious meeting back to his council.

“Positively,” replied his informant.  “I found them in Sunmarten.  All three.  Queen Mona Alastaire and her brothers.  My king, the royals of Lumen Lake are not dead as we assumed.  And it’s only a matter of time before our enemies find out as well.”

The king frowned, his fingers still restless.  This changed everything.  This threw every power in the eastern world into a startling unknown.  His own crown, so recently won, would be among the first to be affected.

“Well,” he said evenly, curling his fingers into a fist and staring at the hooded figure.  “We must do something about it.”

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