TITLE: The Sword and the Skull
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
When the witch he loves becomes slave to an evil demigod’s plan for conquest, Ryn Ruscroft must steal a sentient sword to save her. But this doomsday weapon accepts no master, and its thirst for victory could leave Ryn guilty of mass murder.
Ryn pulled the silver hand vase from the desk drawer and waited. The cathedral’s bells would soon deal out their daily punishment. He didn’t want to be near Josalind when they did.
The vase held the Durassi sand lily he had cut the night before, after Josalind was asleep. Two years of cursing and fussing to coax just one flower from half a dozen plants. A green thumb he wasn’t. The bloom was as broad as his outstretched hand—hundreds of petals arranged in lazy arcs, shaded purple, violet, and indigo.
He cradled the lily under his nose—spicy sweet, like mulled cider and strawberries. Thanks to the sorcerer’s enchantment upon the vase, it would never wilt or fade.
If only it were so easy to protect everything rare and precious. Their work as bonedealers demanded Josalind touch a dead soul almost every day, and each time he wondered how often she could wander the Netherworld before it claimed her. She would sometimes try to explain what it was like to read a soul passed for centuries from an old relic or bit of bone, but words weren’t enough.
A sudden breath sounded at his shoulder, giving him a start.
“Hmm, smells like berry tarts, dearest,” Josalind said. Her milky gaze was fixed upon the flower as if she could still see.
Damn. “Scamp—I asked you to wait,” Ryn said.
“Did you, now?”
Josalind snatched the lily from his hand with an accuracy that never failed to surprise him and waved it beneath her nose as if sampling the bouquet of a fine wine.