Featherlight Snippet

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One of the most common questions I’ve gotten from those who read Ravages of Honor is, “What are the donai women like?”

Like so much about the donai’s world, the scope of Ravages didn’t really let me address that question. The Ravages universe and its inhabitants are too big, too detailed, too deep to be fully developed in one novel, even a 150,000-word one.

But the story of Lady Yedon did give me the perfect opportunity to answer this question, at least for one donai. Lady Yedon was introduced in Ravages during Galen’s flashback to the first time he met Emperor Thán Kabrin.

If you’ve read Ravages, some of the world-building details are repeated here (for those that have not). If you have not read Ravages, it’s my sincerest hope that you will.

Either way, know that this novella stands alone as its own story. And that, unlike Ravages, it is a dark one.


Chapter One

Valeria stormed through the arched hallways leading from the swordhall to the Sovereign’s Suite as though she were some elemental force of nature. Her blonde hair was darkened by sweat. She swept it out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. 


Barefoot, she strode across intricate mosaics, cutting through shadows cast by carved, stone titans. Lightning split the sky, hurling blinding flashes of light at a universe gone wrong. The storm brewing outside was nothing compared to the tides of emotions she was caught in. They sent her crashing against unyielding cliffs and then sucked her back only to smash her anew.


Valeria was losing her strength and agility—an unbearable travesty. She’d not only lost the sparring session with her men, but she’d emerged bruised and battered. Healing was taking longer than it should have. Had it been a real fight, her enemies could’ve finished her off despite the nanites that gave her kind—the donai—their incredible healing ability.


The doors slid aside and she entered the ante-chamber. Lanterns floated down from the ceiling, casting a soft glow in the spartan chamber. Intricately carved panels covered the walls, deceptively hiding the ante-chamber’s main function: a kill-box. No enemy could pass through this chamber into the ones beyond where they might catch her unaware. Everything in the room, from the lanterns, to the tiles, to the panels was made of utility fog. Nanites stood ready to change form as needed, depending on the threat level.


A sword rack protruded from the column just inside the main chamber. She shed the killing sword and placed it on the rack, but the short sword remained within reach even as she stepped out of the hakama and shrugged out of the wide-sleeved jacket. They landed on the tiles as she made her way past over-stuffed couches and low tables. She had no attendants—not today, not tomorrow, not as long as she was like this. The fewer people who knew of her growing weakness, the better.


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Ravages of Honor Snippet

7

It had been more than a decade since Syteria had breathed the sweet air of Kappa, the world where she’d been born.

High above her, Rho—Kappa’s larger planetary sister—dominated the sky like a vast,malevolent eye. Its light washed out the hauntingly familiar stars struggling to make their presence known.

A leaden weight, as heavy as the armor plating of her tactical vest, took form in her belly. Her grip on the rifle tightened, each deliberate breath bringing it closer as if it were some talisman.

Syteria had been paired with Mara, a trusted eniseri veteran. Age lines and scars crisscrossed the older woman’s face. Her dark hair, clipped close to the scalp like Syteria’s own, was covered almost entirely by her helmet. Mara’s gloved hands rested lightly on her rifle. A soft wind stirred the leaves on the trees above them, sending shadows into play across her confident face.

They knelt at the edge of a clearing, in the cover and concealment of a downed tree, awaiting the order to advance on the lone shack with its pitiful column of smoke.

A stone well fronted an animal corral. The lowing of the beasts within, the odor of manure,the tinkle of bells worn by the animals in case they got lost all poked at her memory. Syteria had been born and raised in a place not so unlike this one.

She closed her eyes as flashes of her past surfaced: running barefoot through leaves; watching Rho rise and set; holding soft, downy hatchling in her hands.

Syteria shook her head and opened her eyes, darting a glance at Mara, checking to see if she’d somehow given something away. But Mara was watching the shack.

To keep her hand from drifting up to the monitoring collar, Syteria tightened her grip on her rifle’s stock. Maybe the collar would attribute the change in her breathing and body chemistry to nerves, to this being her first time. Maybe the Matrons who were monitoring this mission were too busy to notice.

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