The following is an excerpt from Obsidian Waith, a fantasy novel slated for publication in 2017-2018.
Nazair’s ears perked at the sound of voices in the forest. He threw his cloak about him and crouched on the cliffs overlooking the road. Long ago, he perfected the technique for melting into the shadows. To the untrained eye of a traveling merchant, his body looked like an outcropping of rock on the cliffs.
A band of mercenaries emerged from under the orange forest canopy. Nazair took note of the swords and crossbows belted at their waists, tallying the number of warriors and archers. He counted thirty armed rogues and a score of drifters under the wing of their protection.
Far more fascinating was the woman in their company. While he was immediately drawn to the shapeliness of her figure, he also noticed she moved with the ease of a warrior. Furthermore, one look told Nazair she was far removed from her homeland. Her half-shaved head sported hair as black as the night is mysterious.
Her attire marked her as someone of tribal origins, nothing like the merchants and villagers traveling by her side. This certainly begged the question, what was she doing in a land so foreign to her? She glanced around nervously and Nazair caught the sparkle of her eyes. They danced like silver pearls limned with fire.
Everything about her was an enigma to him.
In that moment, the same feeling from before erupted and rattled him to the core of his soul. It burned like an incorporeal fire blistering under his skin. Nazair bit his lip to stifle the anguished scream that would surely alert the caravan below.
He clutched his afflicted hand to ensure the flesh hadn’t melted off the bone. He took quick, steadying breaths and wrestled back control. He needed to stay strong in the face of this curse.
He calculated the perfect opportunity to approach the woman. The abandoned village positioned further down the road looked like a promising spot to intercept her. He would skirt the wilderness around the mercenaries and lie in wait for the sorceress’s arrival.
Eyeing the mysterious woman below, he hoped she possessed the ability to rid him of this curse. He also hoped the mercenaries didn’t kill him on sight.