Sacrifice

Set your sails for Verglas, Champions, Sacrifice has arrived! Truthfully I’m struggling to think of something else to say, but I’m betting 90% of you have clicked on the link and zipped away to look at the new shiny, so I may as well shut up. For you poor souls who can’t get it yet, click the “Read More” link below for an excerpt of the first few pages.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think of it! After you finish it, please leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads! Just as I did with Heart of Ice, for every 25 reviews left, I’ll unlock a new Snow Queen freebie. (For the list of freebies check the top post.) Thanks, Champions. I really hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

Arrivals

The wind stung Farrin Graydim’s face and pushed some of his black-brown hair into his eyes, but he didn’t stir.

His regiment—the First Regiment, or as it was fondly called by Tenebris, the Fighting First—glittered like a sea of metal behind him in neat, orderly rows. They stood silent as they faced the snow-covered road that wove through a thick, untamed forest.

Dryden—one of the magic users under his command—stirred at his side.

“It’s freezing.” She pulled her cloak tight and brushed her button nose, red with the cold. “Bluff, can’t you do anything to warm it up?”

Bluff snorted. “Sure, if you can stop an avalanche.” He sneezed and rubbed his ears.

Farrin ignored the idle chit-chat and kept his gaze on the forest. The field of snow that stood between the woods and his men created a terrible glare that was difficult to see past.

“I hate this wretched country.” Dryden was hard to understand thanks to her chattering teeth. “Spring is just weeks away, and it’s as cold as it was in the dead of winter.”

Bunny snorted. She was the only one of their bunch who appeared untouched by the cold. She wore nothing more than a long-sleeved tunic, pants, and padded boots. “I think we have Princess Rakel to thank for that.”

Her observations pulled Farrin from his dutiful watch. Princess Rakel. How things will change for her when Tenebris arrives.

“Princess Rakel,” Dryden growled. “If I could get one minute alone with her—”

“She’d freeze you solid, and then you would complain even more,” Bluff said.

“She would not!” Dryden said. “I would get her before she could work her magic on me.”

“Would not,” Bluff said.

“Would too!”

“Would not!”

“Enough,” Farrin said. He cast a critical eye for his troops, searching for the slightest blemish or relaxed stance. They need to be perfect.

The magic users fell silent.

When the first few soldiers on horseback stepped toward them from the darkness of the forest, his fingers twitched as he automatically reached for his two-handed broadsword—which wasn’t there. Clever Rakel, he thought, recalling, with admiration and irritation, the way she’d swiped the weapon from him. He missed the sword like an amputated limb.

The mounted party emerged from the forest. Farrin shielded his eyes to make out the army insignia on the lead horse’s saddle blanket—there! He raised his arm in the air and shouted, “Salute!”

The First Regiment moved as one, raising their arms in respect as Tenebris Malus—the leader of the Allegiance of the Chosen Army—and his retinue rode across the barren, snowy field.

When he reached the edge of their forces, Tenebris dismounted.

“Tenebris!” Sunnira—one of Farrin’s healers and friends—broke ranks and ran up to the esteemed leader, throwing her arms around him.

Tenebris laughed as she attached herself to his arm. “You look well, Sunnira. I hope you have been taking care of my army.”

“Of course,” Sunnira said.

Tenebris patted her hands and passed off the reins of his horse to one of his companions. He stretched his neck and strolled towards Farrin—who hadn’t yet broken rank.

He held his salute. “Sir.”

“At ease, Farrin,” Tenebris said. He slapped him on the shoulder and offered him a wide smile. It was a happy one, Farrin was relieved to see. Tenebris smiled whether he was angry or pleased, but his smiles of rage always showed more of his teeth.

Tenebris Malus was a mysterious man. Though he was short and thin through the shoulders, he had a heavy aura of power. His face was bland but pleasant, and he almost always wore a helm or cap of some sort—though one could see strands of his gold-brown hair leaking out on occasion. His eyes were unusual, though. They were round like marbles, and their pupils were more disk-like than circular. They were gold in color, and hooded, which gave him a calculated air.

“Thank you, sir.” Farrin motioned for his regiment to drop the salute. They complied.

“Still as well organized as ever—and a sight for sore eyes. Kavon lets his mercenary troops run wild like savages.” Tenebris nodded once. “I cannot fault him. Those without magic are little more than animals—though it is good to see you have broken yours into submission.” He smiled again, and something in Farrin twitched at the harsh words.

Farrin straightened his shoulders. “It is our honor to have you with us.”

“I’m sure.” Tenebris shielded his eyes from the brilliant sun. “It has been too long since I’ve ridden with you and the Fighting First. I look forward to speaking with you—and Sunnira.” He spared the healer another smile.

Sunnira cocked her head. “What took you so long to come?”

Beside Farrin, Bluff gaped in shock at her impertinent question until Bunny kicked him in the back of the knee.

“Varmints started stirring in the south just when I thought it was time to come north,” Tenebris sighed. “I stayed to help Grimick stamp them out, but they’re worse than sewer rats.”

“Varmints?” Farrin asked.

“Some farmers and commoners playing rebel. Though they should be easy to crush, they’ve burned two outposts and reclaimed several villages—all in the name of their beloved Snow Queen.” A frown lurked on Tenebris’s lips, making the gold of his eyes glow. “We razed a few villages, but they still prowl around in the hills. In the end, I decided it would be quicker to kill their ‘hero’ than to keep hunting them down individually.”

Farrin kept his expression passive, but he couldn’t stop his hands from curling into fists. The inevitable clash of his affection for Rakel and his loyalty to Tenebris had arrived. “I see. Shall I take you to your quarters, sir?”

“Yes, thanks, Runt,” Tenebris said, moving to walk shoulder to shoulder with Farrin. Sunnira still held his arm, and Bluff, Bunny, and Dryden fell in line behind them.

“Released,” Farrin shouted.

The foot soldiers and the rest of the magic users broke out of formation, moving on with their duties as Farrin escorted their leader to the best tent.

“I must say, Runt, I am upset,” Tenebris continued. “It isn’t like you to leave an enemy alive.”

“I regret that I have disappointed you,” Farrin said.

Tenebris slapped his shoulder again. “Don’t take it to heart. You haven’t ever failed me before. You were bound to do so eventually—though I must admit, I didn’t think your lesson of humility would come from a thin-skinned, worthless princess.”

“With all due respect, sir, no one who has met Princess Rakel would call her thin-skinned or useless,” Farrin said.

“We’ll see,” Tenebris said. “In the meantime, I’ve changed my mind about the Verglas citizens.”

Farrin dared to hope for a moment. “Oh?”

“Yes. We’ll have to cull most of them.”

“Cull?” Bluff asked. He swallowed hard when Tenebris glanced back at him. “I-I beg your pardon, sir.”

“No harm, boy. I meant we’ll have to kill ’em. They’re too stubborn and too prone to hope. They’ll make lousy slaves unless we limit their numbers,” Tenebris said. He wore a smile and spoke in a pleasant tone—as if they were discussing plans for a celebration.

Farrin stopped outside the black tent he had ordered to be pitched for Tenebris. “Do you really think it is necessary to found our country with such slaughter?”

“Necessary? No. But it will make it easier.” Tenebris swatted his free hand through the air. “And with the way this war has carried on, we need all the help we can get. I planned for us to hold the entire country by now. As my officers were unable to achieve that, we’ll have to cut corners where we can.”

Farrin looked at Tenebris as if seeing him for the first time. I have always known Tenebris is a man without mercy to those who oppose him, but this—the slaughter of thousands of innocent people?

As if sensing Farrin’s thoughts, Tenebris arched one of his eyebrows and gave Farrin a toothy smile. “Next time don’t fail me,” he said.

“Farrin did his best,” Sunnira said diplomatically. “The problem is Princess Rakel. She was much stronger than any of us could have predicted.”

Tenebris shrugged. “That’s an easy fix. Once she’s killed, the resistance will run out of traction.”

A muscle twitched in Farrin’s cheek. He made his expression apathetic and hoped no one noticed.

Sunnira shook her head. “You need to be careful with her, Tenebris. Farrin did well against her because of his magic, but she could trample anyone else.”

Tenebris grinned and pinched Sunnira’s cheek. “You think she’s better than me, you impudent brat?” he asked, his voice warm with affection.

“I think she’s a monster,” Sunnira said.

Farrin wished she would stop talking.

“Well, it’s a good thing I am one as well.” Tenebris pointed to the tent. “Is this it?”

“I hope it meets your expectations, sir,” Farrin said.

“I’m sure it will. Give me a few hours to get settled, and I’ll meet up with you and your little trainees for dinner,” Tenebris said. “That means you, too, Sunnira.”

Sunnira kissed Tenebris’s cheek. “You don’t need to tell me—you aggravating man. I have patients to attend to.” She winked at their leader, waved to Farrin, and drifted off in the direction of the medical tent.

Farrin bowed. “Welcome to the First Regiment, sir.”

27 comments on “Sacrifice

  1. Ah! I’m so excited! Unfortunately I’m in the middle of a Harry Potter Read-A-Thon so I can’t take a break to read it, but I will as soon as I’m done!!

    • Good plan! I find it jarring to jump into one story-world when I’m in the middle of another. (Particularly when I’m in the middle of one that’s as wonderful as Harry Potter…)

    • You’re welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you think–but at the same time I’m dreading the reactions as Heart of Ice is a tough act to follow!

    • First of all, bravo for picking up on the mirror’s longevity–you were the first to mention it, so really, wonderful job! Second of all, yes, the mirror–along with other major pieces of the Snow Queen Series–will have an impact on Angelique and everyone else in the Timeless Fairy Tale Series. As to how big of an impact… 😀

    • Thank you! An all-nighter reading fest is probably one of the highest compliments you can give me, so I sincerely mean it: thank you!!

  2. OH MY GOODNESSSSSSSSSS! I just finished the book and it was wonderful. I could gush on and on but I’ll save it for the review I’ll write later today. I’m SO excited to read the extras because I’m hoping a few side things I was wondering about would be answered 🙂

    • I have to say the joy in your message made ME laugh with joy! I’m so glad you enjoyed Sacrifice! (Sequels are always hard to write because the pressure is ON to make sure they’re as good as the first book!) Also just a PS: the first extra will be going up in a few minutes. 😉 Thanks for reading!

  3. Just finished it and I just wanted to say that it was so emotional near the end you made all the characters seem life like and I could picture Rakel and Farrin toghther I loved how their relationship developed but near the end I was crying. I loved the last battle between Rakel and Tenebris and was no joke crying when it ended I’ve tried not to put spoilers into the comment as not everyone else might have read it yet but I just wanted to say well done I think this is my favourite book so far the emotions where so realistic and I loved how there where subtle references in prieviouse books as to how it would end but I still can’t believe it Keep writing i know that it’s the last snow queen book 😦 and am very sad please continue with the timeless fairy tale world just a guess here but is the mirror the focus of Dark forces which are separating the country and is the mirror what Stil and Gemma discover when they go to Verglas in the short story? Can’t wait until the short stories are unlocked this book was definetely worth the wait.

    • Wow, thank you for the awesome message, Davina! I’m so glad the different plot points and character relationships were emotionally charged…which now that I think about it is a little strange to say, but whenever I get teared up, I think it’s a mark of a great book! To answer your question, the mirror–like many other parts of the Snow Queen–does have an impact on everyone in Angelique’s timeline. 😉 That’s about all I can say without dropping major spoilers, but keep your eye out for it! Thank you for reading, and thank you for your comment!

  4. You book is amazing Kitty! Even better then first if you would believe it!! I loved the tragedy, but ultimately happy ending! I cannot wait to see what will happen with the mirror in the timeless fairy tale series.

    • Thanks, Alison! I really love books where there is a little loss but a LOT of joy–it feels more like real life–so I’m really happy you enjoyed that aspect of the book. Thanks for reading–I appreciate your loyalty!

  5. Such a great start. Is there a way to get this not on a kindle or nook? It is hard to find decent new books. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Sadly, at the moment my books are available only on Amazon, however I can still help you find some new books. Are you a member of goodreads? (If not, you MUST sign up, that is the best place to find books EVER) My Champions and I have a few lists going on Goodreads, one of them is for Clean Romances: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/96690.Sweet_and_Clean_Romances
      Some of the books are older and some of them are newer, but hopefully it should be a good start. Good luck!

  6. Loved this book! I’ve read all the timeless fairy tale books many times -they always make me smile! They are so bright and romantic I adore them! The Snow Queen was the first one that made me tear up too(except for when puss gets hurt:) ) such a special story- thank you so much for writing! never stop 🙂 so glad we have many more books to look forward too -even if the wait sucks 😉

    • Is it wrong that I did a fist pump when you mentioned tearing up? It probably is, but still! I always see it as a mark of a good book when it makes you laugh and cry. 😉 Thank you for the supreme compliment! Hopefully you’ll find those future books you mentioned just as fun and entertaining.

  7. I LOVE the book! I think that Sacrifice has made it to the top of my favorite books! (And believe me, that’s almost impossible) 🙂 The character’s emotions really seemed real and I almost started to cry when I read about Rakel’s sacrifice. Please keep on writing! 🙂

    • Awww, thank you! Creating emotional tension has been a learning process for me (Editor #2 has been patiently improving it since The Little Selkie) so Sacrifice was a big test for me. Therefore, I’m so happy to hear you sympathized with Rakel and her crew. Thank you for the lovely comment! 😀

    • I’m so glad you liked it! Sacrifice is actually the longest fairy tale I’ve written yet, but I do understand what you meant about its length. There are some books, where I wish they would just go on forever! Anyway, thank you for reading!

  8. I hope the shorts say something about the school for magic users I think Ariel has a hand in founding! I feel like sacrifice just touched the surface of the questions timeless fairytales brought up about the snow queen… super curious!

    • Hahah, don’t worry about the auto-correct–I absolutely understand. But yes, the final extra (the one I’m struggling to name) is all about the founding of the school. 🙂 And it’s good that you’re curious! If you’re watching for it, there’s a lot of connections between the Snow queen books and the Timeless Fairy Tale series.

  9. I reread the first one so I was ready for Sacrifice. All I can say is wonderful. I really enjoy the depth of your characters and the transitions they make as the story moves. They move with the story. And thanks for the Goodreads lists. I am making headway through that. This book made my Friday. I also went back and started to reread all the other fairytales. I love your books.

    • I’m glad you find the Goodreads lists useful! I’m kicking myself from not doing it earlier as it can be a lot of work to find a new good book. Speaking of which, I’m so thrilled you think my fairy tales are worth rereading! I only reread my favorite books, so I see it as a huge compliment. 🙂 Thank you!

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