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Lifebringer incoming!

Hello everyone!


I am back to give you yet another four pieces of news, this time about my novel Lifebringer, the final book in the Firebrand trilogy!


First, take a look at this lovely cover!! 






Second, I bring you an official release date! Lifebringer will be released on April 16, 2024. There will be details on a release party coming later.


Third, I would like to let you all know that preorders are officially open for Lifebringer! All preorders come with bookmarks and maps, and each one is signed by me. In addition, if you use the promo code LIFEBRINGER20 between now and April 16, you can get 20% off your copy! Also, using the promo code TRILOGY50 between now and April 16 will get you the ENTIRE Firebrand trilogy for $50! Preorders can be placed here


(For my local Victoria area friends, please take a look at the "pickup only" delivery method when checking out. This will allow you to forgo shipping costs and pick your book up from me in person instead of having it mailed to you.)


And lastly, I would like to give you the chance to read and/or listen to the Lifebringer prologue today! The prologue, in both video and written form, are below. 



That is all for now! 



Mary






Lifebringer Prologue

Three and a half years after the end of Stormbrewer


Alvin Blackwell hadn’t seen the sun in three years.


It was three years to the day since they’d hauled him out of his hole in the belly of the guard station to be tried before a judge, handed him his sentence—life in prison—and dumped him in a new cell deep within the Dundere prison, this one so tiny he could touch both ends of it when he lay down at night. Three years since he’d been served anything other than hard bread and tasteless gruel with the occasional wilted vegetable mixed in. His once-healthy frame had withered from malnutrition; his beard—still patchy in some places—had grown in. At the trial, they told him that if he’d been a year older, his sentence would have been death. 


Almost daily, he wondered if he would have preferred that. 


For three years, he’d kept his head down, refrained from snapping at the guards, and never once complained about his situation. And today—finally—that would pay off. Today he would be moved from his tiny cell in solitary confinement to join the larger prison population, because of his good behaviour. He still wasn’t sure how the others would react to him. On one hand, he was basically still a kid. On the other, he was responsible for the death of someone that a good number of them despised. 


He shuffled down the prison corridor, hands and feet in heavy metal chains, after the guard. Out of the solitary wing and down another hall. The guard pointed things out to him as they passed. Dining hall, where he’d now get to eat with the other prisoners. Warden’s office. Kitchen. 


Sunlight washed over his face as the guard led him outside, through a courtyard meant for exercise. He stopped short, almost surprised by the crisp scent of fresh air, the warmth of sun on his skin, and the crunch of grass underfoot. He’d nearly forgotten how the outdoors felt. The breeze was chilly—it was only a few weeks until Long Night’s Eve—but it was welcome nonetheless. He squinted, and tears filled his eyes; he wasn’t sure if they were from the pain of the brightness or the flood of emotions that accompanied these sensations. 


A group of a dozen prisoners were engaged in a game of kickball, and they paused to stare at him. Alvin stared back. 


Some wore looks of curiosity; one or two of the bigger fellows sneered at him, seeing him as nothing other than a scrawny kid, someone new to beat up.


But most of them wore looks of awe, or even fear.


Oh, yes. They knew exactly who he was. 


“You get one hour a day here in the yard,” the guard was saying as they neared the door on the other side. “Use it well.”


Then they were back in the prison building, walking through a new cell block, this one much nicer than the one he’d been confined to. The cells here were larger, roomier, and each one had a proper window, two proper beds, and a writing desk. Prisoners stared as he passed. He heard whispers. Someone let out a wolf whistle. 


Finally, the guard opened the door to what would be Alvin’s new home. “Charles,” he said to the man already in the cell, “this is Alvin.”


The guard uncuffed him, shoved him inside, and closed the door with a clang. Alvin was left staring at his new companion.


Charles was likely a few years older than him and was everything he’d once been. Well groomed, clean shaven, clearly from the upper crust of society. And handsome. Alvin didn’t fancy men, but even he couldn’t help but notice. 


Charles looked him over with a scrutinizing eye. “Straight out of solitary, I assume?”


“What gave it away?” Alvin rubbed at his patchy beard and eyed the other fellow. “Straight off the streets, I assume?”


“Second day in here.” Charles wrinkled his nose, approaching Alvin. “You know, I didn’t think the infamous killer of our dear former governor would be so…skinny.” He poked at Alvin’s ribs.


Alvin snorted and swatted the other man’s hand away. “Three years of prison food will do that to you. Don’t worry, you won't be pretty for long.”


Charles’s eyes narrowed, but whatever response he might have been formulating was cut off by a guard approaching their cell, two figures in tow. “Blackwell. Your sister’s here to visit.”


Alvin smiled as Ashlynn walked up to the bars. His sister’s regular visits—granted thanks to his good behaviour—had been the one bright spot in the last three years. Ashlynn was the only family member who still acknowledged him, the only one who’d bothered to listen to his side of the story. The only one who’d believed him when he said that he’d expected the governor to survive the gunshot, being the healer that she was. He’d wanted to make Noelle hurt, yes. But not die.


And Ashlynn was definitely the only one who understood what he meant when he said that he wasn’t fully himself that day. 


She’d seen it happen to Aidan. And she’d warned Alvin against it too, told him not to get the earring, not to follow his brother down the same dark path he was already far too committed to. 


At first, Alvin listened. But then, that one night after Ruby rejected him again, and Kaden informed him that she’d told everyone about his abilities, he’d been far, far too angry to care. He let Aidan pierce his ear with the Fae-gold earring and surrendered at least a part of himself to the dark. 


Despite everything that followed, though, Ashlynn still cared enough to come visit when she was able. Even when she was extremely pregnant, then, soon after that, carrying an infant with her, she’d returned, a reminder that there was some good left in the world. 

The child—Tristan—was two now, and he was full of energy, bright eyed and rosy cheeked, always happy to see his uncle. Today, however, he was shy, drawing back against his mother’s leg as he observed Alvin’s new cellmate. 


“Nice place you have,” Ashlynn greeted cheerfully. 


Alvin raised an eyebrow and nodded. “It’s practically a palace next to the old place. Look, I actually have a window!”


“I see that.” Her eyes flickered to Charles. “Who’s this?”


Alvin made introductions. “Cute kid you have,” Charles murmured as his gaze travelled down to Tristan.


Ashlynn smiled. “Thanks, I made him myself.”


“With no help whatsoever?” Charles raised an eyebrow.  “That’s quite the accomplishment.”


She snorted. “All right, I had some help, but not much.” 


“His father isn’t around anymore?” 


“That’s an understatement,” Alvin muttered.


Ashlynn heard him and fixed him with a glare. “It’s better this way.” Her voice was firm and carried a clear warning not to say anything more to his cellmate. Better that Charles believe Tristan’s father had simply abandoned the family. 


“You’re raising him alone, then?” Charles asked Ashlynn. 


“We live with my parents, but once he’s old enough for school, I plan to move out and get us an apartment of our own.” 


“How’s the new job going, anyway?” Alvin asked her. 


Ashlynn began filling him in on her life outside the prison, and Charles took that as his cue to return to a book he’d been reading. Alvin couldn’t help but smile as Ashlynn rambled; his sister had changed for the better in the past three years. Motherhood suited her, as did her new job, it seemed. And, as much as Alvin hated to admit it, she’d been considerably more relaxed since Aidan died. 


They didn’t talk about Aidan anymore, or their parents. Ashlynn did tell him about the biweekly visits their eldest brother Arquinn had been making—always in secret, away from their family home. Alvin was glad for Tristan’s sake but rather wished Arquinn would pay him a visit. Then again, Arquinn had been all but absent from Alvin’s life since Alvin was eight. He’d run away as soon as he hit adulthood, just like Alvin had always planned to do. 


When a tug on the fabric of his pants interrupted their conversation, Alvin looked down to see Tristan staring up at him. “For you, Uncle Alvin,” he said, presenting a bundle.


Alvin grinned and crouched down to take the gift from his nephew—likely homemade scones, knowing Ashlynn. “Thank you, buddy,” he said, reaching through the bars and giving Tristan’s curls an affectionate tousle. 


Tristan grabbed his hand, and Alvin let out a yelp as a strange shock travelled through him, followed by a loud ringing in one ear. Tristan giggled. Ashlynn looked down in concern. “Are you all right, Alvin?”


“I…think so.” Alvin got to his feet. “The kid…shocked me somehow. Perhaps we have a future stormbrewer on our hands?”


She shook her head. “There’s too much anti-magic in here for that. Must have just been static.” 


Right. Alvin was so accustomed to the heaviness of the anti-magic that encased the entire prison—thanks to the aro stone inlaid into the walls—that he didn’t notice it anymore. 


Ashlynn’s eyes narrowed. “Are you sure you’re all right, Alvin? Your eyes are…” She shook her head. “Never mind. It’s likely my imagination.” She reached through the bars and squeezed Alvin’s hand. “Enjoy your fancy new cell. I’ll see you next week.”


As the two of them retreated, Charles let out a low whistle. “Your sister is stunning. And your nephew, well, he’s going to grow up to be a handsome kid.”


There was something in Charles’s eyes, a certain glint and a twist to his voice when he spoke of Tristan, that made Alvin recoil. Suddenly, he had to wonder about the nature of his cellmate’s crimes and was grateful that his beard hid what he knew was a still fairly boyish face. “Don’t you talk about my family that way,” he growled. 


“You know, I’m meant to be out of here in five years,” Charles went on. “Perhaps at that point I’ll marry your sister, then both she and the boy will be mine.” He grinned wolfishly at Alvin.


It was then that Alvin decided he wanted to kill his cellmate. 


 

It was only much later, once Charles was asleep, that Alvin realized what had happened when Tristan touched him. 


Hello there, Alvin, said an all-too-familiar voice in his head, it’s been a while.


Alvin stiffened, and his hand instinctively flew up to his earring. “What are you doing in here?” 


Hitched a ride with the kid, the voice replied. You know the rules. Anyone in the bloodline can take me, so long as they’re willing. Look in the little box he gave you.


Alvin didn’t move. Instead, his eyes narrowed. “You were talking to Tristan?”


Oh, little Tristan’s learning my language fast. He’s a smart boy. Curious, too. No surprise he stumbled upon me when his mother was looking the other way.


“And how do you intend to get back home within the required seven days?” Alvin hissed. “You’re not the only prisoner here; I can’t exactly return you to my father.”


But you can. And that’s what I want to talk about. The voice took on a devious tone. How would you like to make a deal with me?


“Forget it,” Alvin snapped. “Last time that happened, we killed a governor, and I ended up in here.”


I can get you out, though. And once I do, we can run away. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted, Alvin? To see the world? To have your freedom?


Alvin closed his eyes. Of course that’s what he wanted. “What’s in it for you?” he demanded. 


That’s simple. Before we run off, you help me exact revenge on a few folks. Some of them are people I’m sure you have grudges against yourself. Once that’s all finished, you grant me full freedom from your family name, we part ways, and you can do whatever your heart pleases. 


Alvin frowned. “I’m assuming one of those people is my father. Because you’re not going anywhere with me so long as he’s alive. You know the rules.”


Think about it, Alvin. The man beat you and humiliated you for decades. Wouldn’t you like to show him who’s in charge now?


Alvin tilted his head, and that slow, inky darkness that had once nearly consumed him began to swirl about in his gut. He knew very well where the feelings were coming from; nonetheless, he found himself nodding. He did rather like the idea of killing his father, he realized. “All right. So we kill Father. Then what?”


Then we head to Breoch and go after him.


Alvin didn’t have to ask who his companion was referring to. “Naturally.”


Before we kill him, though, we make him suffer. 


“Which involves hurting a few more people on my own list,” Alvin concluded. 


You know me well, boy. 


Alvin’s eyebrows knitted. “Are you sure he’s in Breoch?”


I’m fairly certain. And I have an idea as to how we might find him, too. 


Alvin listened as the voice explained the plan. “So you want me to charm my way into King Kairus’s court?”


You likely won’t have to, thanks to some misfortune that’s befallen the crown prince, Oliver. Interestingly enough, Oliver’s betrothed, a little lady named Isabelle, is tied to some of the folks we’re going after. 


Alvin sighed. “All right. So once these three things are done, we part ways?”


That’s right. But before any of that, we must do one thing. What do you think of that new cellmate of yours?


Alvin’s stomach tightened. “He’s a pervert.”


A very handsome pervert, though, don’t you think?


“I suppose so.”


Excellent. Let’s get started, then. 

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