Hello, everyone! I hope this finds you well, and I hope you've been enjoying Midnight. It's about to come to a close in the next three weeks - and boy, has a lot happened for me since then.
I'm excited to officially announce the second novel of Maximus: BELTHOR SPELLWEAVER! It has its own page and Bookstore section now, as it is complete and ready for purchase! However, if you'd rather wait, it'll begin airing in March.
The third novel of Maximus has been completed. I'll announce its name once it has rested and been edited and made ready for purchase. I'm currently in the beginning of development work on number four - and so on and so forth.
If I've entertained you, I've accomplished my mission. In light of this announcement, I've cycled what chapters of Midnight are available.
If you're interested in making purchases, Belthor Spellweaver and Midnight can be bought individually through the Bookstore, but they can also be purchased together for a discount.
I hope to see you soon with the beginning of Belthor Spellweaver, and I hope it'll entertain you as much as Midnight has.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
"But, Princess Estelle-" Belthor sounded apoplectic.
"Thank you a thousand times, son of Morse, but I can't." Estelle struggled to her feet.
"But you could reopen your wounds and-"
"And if I don't-" Estelle took a breath as she remembered Belthor and Kui had no idea what had happened to her. "Kui, get my armor. Belthor, my bow's on the balcony. Get it."
"What happened?" Kui asked, as he grabbed what he'd been told to. Belthor was a little slower, but he did as he was bid. Estelle held out her arms for Kui to start fastening her back in.
"I went to Aurora and Ward's house." She elaborated on that for a few long minutes. "It's eleven-thirty now. They've had Luna for an hour. She could already be dead."
"Belthor," Kui ordered, pulling a shard of glass from his coat. He tossed it to the boy, and Estelle remembered what it was as her healer held it tightly.
"Spellweaver," he muttered, cheeks reddening. "Show me Luna Marona."
Estelle's breath caught as she saw her sister in the glass, bound to a tree in a clearing she recognized very well. Her fists clenched. Not out of rage, but out of pain...because what she had to do was far more agonizing than any gunshot.
"MacTavish will be on his ship," Estelle said as Kui finished fastening the back of her armor. "I'm sure the Light can arrange him coming on deck for a moment. All they have to do then is have Jason shoot him from on shore, and all anyone will know is that it was an assassin in Rosa who killed him."
"Estelle, what about Luna?" Kui asked. "If we go to face Jason-"
"We are doing nothing," Estelle said, her voice wavering. "I'm going to the docks." She met Kui's eyes. "I need you and Belthor to go after Luna."
Belthor paused. "You need what?"
"She's by Kulkas' camp," Estelle said. "She's not far. You've already run that far and back quickly. You know the way."
"I can only heal, not harm," Belthor said.
"Then heal Luna," Estelle snapped. "If you don't go with Kui, Bel, my sister's going to die. And that will start a chain reaction that will lead to a war for the Iron Sea. Are you a wizard or not?"
"Master Kulkas gave Vivian the staff," Belthor protested. "No, no I'm not a wizard."
"Belthor Spellweaver, son of Morse," Estelle said, reaching out and taking her bow from him, "the staff is a stick. It is a piece of wood. A big piece of wood, a powerful piece of wood, but it is a tool. Are you a wizard, or are you a man with a stick?"
Belthor paused. He looked very taken aback for a moment.
"And while we're saving Luna, you're going to be facing down Jason?" Kui demanded. "Estelle, you can't beat him and Vaneer at the same time. You're no match for them. Together, it would be hard enough for us."
"I've got no choice. You can't get down to the docks fast enough, not with the streets set up like they are." Estelle drew a grapple arrow. "I can."
"I can't let you go alone," Kui said. "I can't."
"And I can't let Luna die," Estelle replied. "I'm not asking."
"Neither am I-"
"I need you to do this," Estelle pressed. "Trust me."
"You need me," Kui replied. "More than you think you-"
"Yes," Estelle said, cutting him off. "Yes, Kui. I need you. I've always needed you. You've given me everything you could, and saved my life more than once for doing it, and I don't deserve you, and I know it." She inhaled. "But tonight, Ku'uaki, I need more from you than you've ever given me before. I need you to let me go. I need you not to protect me. I need you to save my sister's life."
Kui stared into her eyes. He swallowed, and Estelle saw pain and fear etched into his gaze.
"I owe you a debt," he finally said. "Estelle Marona, I do what you do. I do what you need me to do." He took her hand, and something about the gesture was very formal. "Luna will not die tonight."
"Thank you." Estelle glanced to Belthor.
"No one's ever believed in me before," the young man said. "You're wrong to, but I appreciate it." He inhaled. "I'm not a wizard. I never was. I never will be. But I will do what I can, whatever that is."
"Save her," Estelle implored. She shouldered her bow, checked her quivers, patted the hilt of Callan's knife. She drew her two pistols and offered one to each of her friends. "Whatever it takes."
"Fair enough." Kui took the pistol and slid it into his coat. "Let's go."
"Good luck," Estelle told them as they hurried through her blood to the door. She clutched her chest.
"You too," Kui said.
"Don't do anything strenuous," Belthor urged. "You're barely held together, Princess-" He broke off as Estelle gave him a vicious glare. "...Estelle."
"I'll do what I have to," she said. "Save Luna, then worry about helping me."
"Hang on." Belthor caught Kui's arm as they made through the door. "I've got an idea."
"Is it a good one?" the Islander asked.
"Well, that depends," Belthor hedged. "Define good for me, please."
Estelle turned away as the door closed. She strode out onto her balcony, testing herself. Walking was hard...anything was hard. She hurt like crazy. She was hungry.
She paused to inhale her remaining chocolates, almost in a swarm, and then take the little bottle of wine from Luna's gift basket and drink the entire thing. It was all she could do. Not nearly enough, but she felt a tiny bit more alive.
Kui was right. Belthor was right. She couldn't beat Jason or Vaneer, let alone both at once, and that was assuming she was at her peak. Tonight she wasn't. She was coming apart at the seams, and marching headlong into the hardest fight of her life.
But she had no choice.
"I'm not going to die," she told herself in a low voice, reaching for her helmet. She held it in one hand, staring into its eye sockets. It stared back, judgingly, challengingly.
The task she'd given herself was far too large for Estelle Marona. So she'd become Midnight to do it. The task had changed, since then. It was still too large for Estelle...but was it now too large for Midnight, too?
The moon shone down from overhead, and the light was blinding. Estelle lowered the helmet, taking long, slow breaths.
It didn't matter. It didn't matter if the task was too big, the fight too hard, the battle too vicious. It needed to be fought. People would die if she didn't fight it, and people who didn't deserve to die. For all her weakness, she was stronger than some. The strong had a responsibility to stand up for those who weren't strong.
She was the line between the innocent and the predatory.
Estelle lifted the helmet. As clouds passed over the moon and plunged her into darkness, she slipped it over her head and fastened the clasps.
The sense of eclipse rose...and Estelle stepped aside.
"Until the end," Midnight whispered to herself, setting her grapple arrow to her bow. "Whatever end that may be."