Risingshadow has the honour of hosting an exclusive excerpt from A Demon in Silver by R.S. Ford. This excerpt is part of A Demon in Silver Blog Tour.
Information about R.S. Ford:
R.S. Ford originally hails from Leeds in the heartland of Yorkshire but now resides in the wild fens of Cambridgeshire. His previous works include the raucous steampunk adventure, Kultus, and the grimdark fantasy trilogy, Steelhaven. You can find out more about what he's up to, and download free stuff, here: http://richard4ord.wordpress.com.
Information about A Demon in Silver:
In a world where magic has disappeared, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war.
When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade: all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.
But Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places... and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.
A Demon in Silver was published by Titan Books.
AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM A DEMON IN SILVER BY R.S. FORD
As men-at-arms went about securing the rickety gate that looked ready to fall off its hinges, Mullen came to stand beside Josten.
‘So, what do you rate our chances?’ he asked.
Josten thought about it for a short while, rubbing the stubble on his chin. ‘Well, Tarlak Thurlow, the most renowned brigand in the Red Forest, is on his way with twenty of his dirtiest bastards to kill us all and kidnap the duchess. We’ve got six men-at-arms, me, you and a couple of handmaids to defend her with. Oh, and that old man there.’ Josten pointed to the frail-looking castellan as he limped across the courtyard, making himself busy with nothing in particular. ‘We’re in an ancient fort with a gate that would blow down in a stiff wind and the only help we’ve got coming is ten leagues away.’
Mullen nodded at the news. ‘So, what you’re saying, in a nutshell, is that we’re royally fucked?’
‘Something like that,’ replied Josten.
‘Great.’ Mullen turned to the men-at-arms and started barking orders of his own as they piled barrels and hefted a broken cart in front of the main gate.
Josten took the stairs up to the roof of the gatehouse, surveying the keep. Its walls were crumbling, of that there was little doubt, but they still had a solid perimeter to defend. The drawbridge and portcullis were out of action but at least was only one way in and that was through the gate. If they could defend it long enough for help to arrive, they might make it through this.
It was a slim hope.
For a fleeting moment Josten thought that he should just run. That he should grab Mullen and get the hell out of there. But he knew that wasn’t an option. There was one reason this had become more than a job. There was more than just gold keeping him here, and he’d most likely get killed because of it.
‘Everyone gets what they deserve,’ he said under his breath.
The sound of beating hooves echoed through the forest and Josten saw a score or more horses break the tree line. At their head was a fearsome-looking brigand, his beard unkempt, tall even in the saddle. Josten had heard of the man but never seen him in the flesh. Tarlak Thurlow’s appearance was every bit as formidable as his reputation.
With a renewed sense of urgency, Josten moved down the stairs to the gate. The men had done a good enough job of shoring up the defences and it now looked like it might take more than a stiff breeze to knock the gate over. There were gaps in the wooden timbers and Josten could see Thurlow and a couple of his men jump down from their saddles.
‘Who’s in charge?’ Tarlak shouted across the drawbridge.
Mullen glanced at Josten with a shrug.
‘That would be me,’ Josten replied through a gap in the gate.
‘A name would help,’ said Thurlow, like he was talking to an idiot.
‘Josten Cade. Guard Captain of her ladyship, the Duchess Selene of Ravensbrooke.’
‘Cade? I’ve heard of you, son. I’m—’
‘I know who you are.’ Josten could see Thurlow’s mouth twitch into a smile, pleased his infamy preceded him.
‘Then you know why I’m here and what I’ll do if you don’t give her to me. We’re not interested in you, Cade. You and your men can walk away from this. Just hand over the duchess and no one has to die. What do you say?’
Josten had already taken a loaded crossbow from the hands of a man-at-arms. There was a big enough gap in the gate for him to aim and fire through. Unfortunately, his aim wasn’t all it could have been. The bolt crossed the drawbridge before Thurlow could make any more demands, the man to his right taking it full in the chest and dropping without a sound. Josten had been aiming for Thurlow but he’d always been better with a sword than a crossbow. Either way, he’d made his point.
‘Does that answer your question?’ he shouted, as Thurlow and his men scrambled to safety.
Josten handed the crossbow back and looked to Mullen, who just stared in disapproval.
‘So much for negotiations,’ Mullen said.
‘I think I’ve made our position clear,’ Josten replied.
‘And I reckon Thurlow is glad you were so straight with him. I’m sure he’ll return the favour and make his position just as clear while he’s nailing our heads to the nearest tree.’
‘That’s what I like about you, Mullen. There’s always a bright side.’ Josten turned to the rest of the men, who looked a fine mixture of brave and shit scared. ‘Right, lads. Time to earn your coin. It’s going to be a busy afternoon.’
He looked back through the gap in the gate as Thurlow began to muster his men for the fight and realised that busy didn’t even start to cover it.