After bringing you all an awesome interview with the author R.B. Watkinson yesterday on The Tattooed Book Geek, if you haven’t yet read it then I highly recommend taking a look, it’s well worth your time!!! The link can be found here:
I’m very pleased today to be welcoming R.B back and bringing to you all an extract from her book The Cracked Amulet (Wefan Weaves #1) which is already out to buy as well as an exclusive preview of the first chapter from the forthcoming sequel The Fractured Portal (Wefan Weaves #2) – it’s that new it doesn’t even have a cover or blurb yet! 🙂
The Cracked Amulet (Wefan Weaves #1).
Wefan is leaking from the world, and the blood-priests of the oppressive god Murak rise again to bring war to the lands of Dumnon. They search for those with Wealdan in their blood, for this gives them power. Power to twist, to alter and control, and ultimately to gain yet more power. In horrifying blood-rites practised on both humans and creatures, they gorge on the blood of innocents, destroying farms and families, conquering swathes of territory and gaining new followers. But not all Wealdan-infused blood carries the same intoxicating fuel. The blood-priests seek one above all others.
Against a background of failing states, magik and spirits, Coryn and Katleya lose all that they have and must flee all that they know. Coryn, protected by a cracked amulet, must find his sister and fulfil an oath. Katleya has only her wits and her knives to defend herself. Desperate to reach a haven where she can learn to use her power fully, Katleya uses her Wealdan to do little other than see the Wefan. But she is hunted by those who would use her for terrible purposes of their own.
A story as intricate and as powerful as any Weaving of the Wefan.
Book Extract from The Cracked Amulet (Wefan Weaves #1).
Katleya in Black Rock, royal capital of Rophet
On the other side of Victory Arch from Atash’s Temple, huddled the smallest of the three inns, its sign showing a man’s face in profile wearing an ornate crown. Katleya hurried out of the alley and with a nod to Sarl, the doorman, went through the heavy door and into the vast tap-room of the Royal Head.
‘Is Garve about?’ Katleya asked Laru, one of the flustered barmaids and a good friend. She showed her a roll of parchment. ‘I’ve a message.’
‘Yup, he’s somewhere. Busy as Atash’s hells tonight.’
Katleya coughed. After the biting air outside, the fumes from burning tobacco, wood, and tallow thickened the air so much she struggled to breathe. She pushed her hat back from her forehead and looked around. People lounged on long benches listening to music, eating, drinking, arguing. Some even slept. A couple of dogs lurked under the trestle tables, alert for food dropped onto the rushes.
Laru dumped three tankards on a nearby table and scooped up a coin. They’d become good friends after Katleya had saved her from drowning a month after arriving in Black Rock. Shorter than her, but a fair few years older at twenty-four, Laru had taken Katleya under her wing, and along with her brother, Flick, taught her how to survive in the city.
‘Garve!’ Laru shrilled. Her voice knifed through the noise. ‘Katleya with a message for you.’
‘Sparks, Laru, where’d you learn to yell like that?’
‘Soon learn what you’ve got to if’n you want to survive, Katleya.’ Laru shrugged and rolled her eyes. ‘Sold your Uncle’s stuff then?’
‘How’d you guess?’ Katleya shifted and ran her eyes over the room again, hating to think her face that easy to read.
‘Got the forge stink on you and a look in your eye. Besides, I hear he’s close to gone with the lung-rot.’
‘Yeah, well,’ Katleya blinked, the smoke making her eyes smart. ‘Good quality tools, every hammer and tong, but I still couldn’t get much for them.’
‘Everyone’s sellin’, no one’s buyin’.’ Laru shrugged. ‘The war.’
‘That’s the truth. Still, I’ve enough to finally get that Healer in.’
‘He still don’t take to the herbcraft then?’
‘It’s just not enough, no.’
‘Hmm. Could still get you a place here, if’n you’re willin’ to wear a dress.’
‘More likely to knife them than serve them if they put their paws on me.’ Katleya scowled round at the sweaty crowd. ‘Don’t think Garve would like that much. And there’s no way I’d ever wear a dress.’
‘I’d believe that.’ Laru laughed. ‘You’ve a way with knives that I’ve seen in few others. I only wish I’d had an uncle who could’ve taught me such skills.’
‘Quit your natterin’ and get to servin’, girl.’ A squat, bald man bulled his way through the crowd.
‘I’ll come by tomorrow.’ Laru turned and hurried off.
‘Message from Master Lugg the Metalsmith, Master Garve.’ Katleya showed the landlord the rolled parchment with its black ribbon. ‘He said you’d give me twelve docks.’
‘Half a sickle for a message? Are you mad, girl?’ He glared at her then flipped open a heavy leather coin pouch. ‘I’ll give you two docks.’
‘It’s Midwinter. Special rates on a holiday,’ Katleya insisted, refusing to back down. ‘I’ll take ten and not a dock less.’
‘You’ll take eight and be happy with it, Katleya.’ Garve counted out the coins.
‘Done.’ Katleya gave him the parchment and slipped the coins into the pouch under her armpit, the safest place from cutpurses. She grinned.
She had got twice as much as she’d hoped for and before Garve could change his mind, she shot out of the inn. Straight into the belly of a fat man who reeled into her path. He reeked of ale, and food stained his green merchant’s sash. In full view, a heavy coin-pouch swung below his blubbery paunch. Tempted, her fingers twitched.
Without warning, his fist closed on her shirt and he yanked her close.
‘Murak’s stinking hells!’ Katleya hissed as the linen ripped from neck to navel. ‘Let go, blast it!’
‘By the Fire-God, it’s a female!’ the merchant shouted and he roared with laughter.
‘Get off me, lump-arse!’ Livid, Katleya clawed at the fist and tried to cover her breasts at the same time.
‘Blessed be Great Atash, look what I’ve caught. A new-ripened girl who would pluck me but has been plucked herself!’ Lump-arse roared and he tugged at his purse so the thong broke and held it up as evidence.
‘That’s blasted bollocks!’ Katleya landed a sharp kick to his shin, but he wore a pair of thick leather boots and she’d only her soft roof-topper shoes on.
‘O hoy, a fresh and lively one too!’ Lump-arse grinned through his thick, black beard, and gave Katleya a shake that ripped her shirt even more, letting the cold air bite into her skin. ‘My mouth is watering in anticipation of her fair flesh!’
Katleya readied a fist for that but looking up into his face she caught a tell-tale flicker in his eyes and realised Lump-arse had company. Ducking down, she head-butted him in the paunch. Air whooshed from his lungs, he let go of her shirt, and folded to the ground with a pig-like grunt.
A blow skimmed her ribs. It burned forge-fierce but at least Lump-arse’s partner hadn’t managed to crack her skull. Furious, Katleya whipped round and danced sideways. She slipped her knives into her palms and let the bastard come to her. He wore a red-corded hat and a flame was embroidered on his sleeve.
So, this was a sweet little set up to catch themselves another innocent for their chains. They would soon see just how sweet she wasn’t!
The lean man surged forward. Katleya ducked down and twisted left. She thrust low, well below his belt. A finger’s length of fine steel slid straight in, just shy of his bollocks. He doubled over in agony and she slashed into the shadows under his hat. Crying out, the Thief-taker crumpled to the ground and she vaulted over him. Dodging Lump-arse, still winded and yet to get back on his feet, she crossed the square at full pelt.
Her eyes everywhere at once, Katleya pressed the heel of one hand against her ribs and tried to ignore the pain, but it reduced her to quick shallow breaths. As she swung into the alley she felt agony hammer into her thigh. She stumbled, leaned against a wall, and looked down. Slicked with blood, her trousers sprouted a knife just above the knee.
How did I miss the blasted Thief-taker’s knife?
‘Rats chew on his blasted bollocks, the piss brained bastard!’ She pulled the knife out and the wound burned like a brand from new forged metal. She bit down hard on her cry, turning it into a strangled whimper. There’d be no climbing walls and leaping along rooftops for her now. She wiped the blood from her blades, sheathed them, and limped on.
Close. Too blasted close!
Purchase The Cracked Amulet (Wefan Weaves #1).
Preview from The Fractured Portal (Wefan Weaves #2).
First Chapter of The Fractured Portal
Tensed and wary for danger to come at them from some other quarter, Coryn watched for the Murecken to enter the valley below. Hunching his shoulders against the chill downdraft from the mountains, he scanned the scrawny pines rooted in the thin soil of the ridge, looking for anything that didn’t fit. A tree-spirit emerged through the bark of a nearby sapling, crept along a branch and hung onto its tip. Coryn followed its line of sight and spotted a tiny water-spirit splashing in a pool of rainwater.
Coryn leaned his bow against the rock, took out his spyglass and studied the area where the ravine entered the wider valley, a thousand yards away and two hundred feet below. Everything was quiet. Even Captain Yagden and his two squads of Royal Storratian Guard, hunkered behind boulders and trees, were silent. They all waited.
‘Are you certain?’ the Moder asked again. She kept her voice low, but it sounded loud in the silence.
If it were his choice, Coryn would’ve left both women back at Castle Drogue. These mountains were no place for Lehotan Adherents, but the Moder insisted on seeing where the latest skirmish took place. Reckless to his mind, what with Murecken on the prowl, likely Bloodhunters and lacerts too. He’d too close an encounter with a lacert as a boy, and no driving need for another.
‘They’ll come down that ravine any time now.’ Coryn put the spyglass away, picked up his bow and shifted to get a clear sight down to the ravine’s entrance. Feeling the itch of spirit-magik, he looked around. The water-spirit stared at him, then winked an emerald eye before disappearing. The tree-spirit grimaced and sank back through the pine’s bark. He shook his head, now was no time to allow spirits to distract him.
The Moder left, moving near as quiet as Katleya, and Coryn’s heart stuttered at the memory. He pushed it away quick – no time for such thinking now. A trio of mule deer, feeding their way down the slope, froze. Ears perked they looked toward the ravine then fled, tails flagging alarm. Enough warnings for any man with wit to act on.
Coryn drew in a breath as the Murecken appeared. He counted five Murecken soldiers, two blood-priests and a pair of writhen. No lacerts, but one horse wore a cover over its muzzle. A Bloodhunter. These were no survivors of the skirmish, they were a hunting party, and Coryn knew who they hunted.
Then a narrow high-wheeled prison cart appeared, with a pair of soldiers riding behind. The cart held nine, maybe ten captives, some being children. Captives complicated things. Yagden whistled the high call of a buzzard three times, the signal for quick deaths and no attempt at capture.
The Bloodhunter rode into a dip in the trail leading to the ridge and dropped out of view. Coryn measured the distances. When the Murecken came out from the copse of rowan, they’d be a shade over a hundred yards away. He rose and stood alongside the pine. Angling his body, he drew and sighted down the arrow.
The writhen appeared first, followed closely by the Bloodhunter carrying a blood-magik whip; its tentacles of oily black smoke writhed. Coryn sensed the wind, felt the fletching brush his cheek, adjusted his aim, then released his breath and the arrow as one.
Feathered through the throat, the Bloodhunter catapulted from his saddle. His horse wheeled and galloped back up the ravine. One soldier fell from his mount, but the others clung to their panicked horses, sawing at the reins for control. The blood-magik whip collapsed and the two writhen turned on the Bloodhunter, ripping him to pieces with claws and fangs. Screams and neighs racketed around the narrow valley. Satisfied the Bloodhunter couldn’t heal himself again, even if he wore a Blodstan, Coryn turned his attention to the other Murecken.
A second soldier fell, his desperate grip on the reins getting him dragged for yards before his mount stopped. A third horse reared, fell on its rider, then scrambled up and galloped off. Coryn released a second arrow, taking a Murecken soldier down before he got his crossbow readied. His third arrow punched into the armpit of the cart driver struggling with his panicking carthorses. The captives screamed as the cart tilted and rammed against a tree, coming to a wood-snapping halt. Captain Yagden and his squads’ crossbows riddled the leathery hides of the writhen, more quarrels hammered into the rest of the soldiers and the priest.
When the valley fell quiet, Yagden flicked a hand forward, fingers spread wide. In response, five of his men stole down the slope. Coryn notched another arrow and waited, scanning the sides of the valley and the entrance to the ravine. At the all-clear sign, he rose and put his remaining arrows back in their quiver.
‘Some lucky shots he got in there,’ Corporal Wenzel drawled as they scrambled down the back side of the ridge to where the horses and the rest of Yagden’s company waited.
‘Lucky shot?’ Captain Yagden, burly and taller by a hand than Coryn, looked at Wenzel with disgust. ‘Lucky my arse! You’ve not seen Sire Coryn shoot before, Corporal, but I have. He hits what he aims at, every time.’
Coryn grunted and swung into the saddle. He turned his horse toward the ridge’s saddle.
‘Do any writhen or priests live?’ the Moder asked. She urged her own horse next to Coryn’s and pinned him with her pale blue eyes. ‘It is important we study them. We must understand how their Ascian works if we are to counter it.’
‘I wouldn’t hold out too much hope, Moder.’ Coryn replied. ‘But at least the captives are safe.’
‘We can be thankful for that, as I am sure they are too.’ The Moder turned to the other Lehotan Adherent. ‘However, to understand your enemy is to defeat him. Is that not so, Dame Liandre?’
‘Indeed, Moder.’ Dame Liandre studied Coryn with her sharp, dark eyes. ‘It is important we know how these Murecken priests extract the Wealdan from the blood, how they meld it with their Ascian, and use it to control other beings.’
‘There’ll be more. There are always more.’ Coryn managed to stop himself from hawking up spit. He swallowed and clamped his jaw. ‘That I can guarantee, Moder. I’ll get that Blodstan for you, though. Likely it’ll be worth studying.’
‘Thank you, Sire Coryn.’ The Moder smiled a fraction, nodding her head. ‘I am sure such study would be of great benefit.’
Coryn grunted and scraped at his jaw.
‘Move on out, Corporal. Take two and range out to the north. We’ll free those captives and head back to the village now,’ Yagden ordered. ‘Keep your mouths closed and your eyes and ears open. There are bound to be more of those bastard blood-sucking priests sneaking around out there. Don’t forget the horses, some might not have gone far and the Manomish could always do with more of them.’
‘Useless Manomish couldn’t find their own backsides, what with all their damned spirit worshippin’,’ Wenzel grouched. ‘Should be sendin’ in more troops from Storr to protect the borderlands for these grassland-mongrels, ‘cause they sure ain’t. Why, they ain’t got no more sense than –’
‘That’s enough, corporal!’ Yagden barked, his face turning almost as red as his hair. ‘The Manomish are doing their best, so keep your trap shut and your brain on the job. Always supposing you can find it. More likely to be in your pants than your head.’
‘Ain’t that the truth,’ another soldier muttered behind Coryn.
‘Aye, sir.’ Wenzel grumbled something unintelligible under his breath as he swung up onto his horse. ‘Liff, Weep, with me.’
Two grizzled veteran trackers mounted up and followed Wenzel past the rocks, turning onto the steep track angling down the ridge. They wisely kept any comments they might have to themselves.
Grinning, Coryn heeled his horse over the lip of the ridge and the Moder and Dame Liandre urged their horses to follow. The rest of the Storratians folded around them as they rode down into the valley.
About R. B. Watkinson.
I was born a long time ago in a country far far away – The Netherlands is a long way from Devon, right? I’ve lived in Africa and the Middle East – where my eldest was born. I’ve visited the Far East and much of Europe and Scandinavia. I’ve worked in Paris and Copenhagen.
I was raised on mythologies, legends, and tales from all over the world as, amongst other things, my father was a collector of ancestral tales and creation myths. It’s probably why I adore reading fantasy, but I also love science fiction, history, historical fiction, and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.
I also write – a lot.
In the past, I’ve worked as an editorial secretary, in special educational needs teaching, and in publishing. I now run a small-holding, am Co-Chair of a local amateur dramatic group, sing folk music with a local group, and work on the occasional film as an extra.
Have I mentioned I love to write?
I’ve written (and illustrated) a children’s book, a play, screenplays, numerous poems, and short stories. After completing the Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University in 2011, I signed a three book deal for the Wefan Weaves Trilogy with Claret Press, London, a small independent publishing house. Book one, The Cracked Amulet, was published in January 2016, and had been nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar Award. The audio rights for The Cracked Amulet was bought by a New York publisher, Essential Audio Books, and it came out in February 2017.
Book two, The Fractured Portal, should be out this year.
I know I am lucky to be an author and do what I love in the comfort of my own home – or any cafe with good coffee – but don’t be mistaken; it is also a lot of hard work.
You can find R.B. Watkinson:
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: