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The Stormbrewer Post You've Been Waiting For!


Hello everyone!


This evening I am very excited to give you not one, not two, but FOUR pieces of news about my novel Stormbrewer, the second book in the Firebrand series!


The first thing I wish to reveal to all of you is this lovely cover! Here it is, folks:



I am so excited to have this book in my hands very, very soon, and look at that gorgeous cover not as a digital image, but in print.


Speaking holding my book in my hands, the second thing I have for you is an official release date! Stormbrewer will officially be released on April 25, 2023. There will be details on a release party coming in a later post.


Third, I would like to let you all know that preorders are officially open for Stormbrewer! All preorders come with bookmarks and maps, and each one is signed by me. In addition, if you use the promo code STORMBREWER20 between now and April 25, you can get 20% off your copy! Preorders for Stormbrewer 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 Stormbrewer prologue today! The prologue, in both video and written form, are below.


That is all for now. There will be more news coming soon though- stay tuned!


Mary


Stormbrewer Prologue


Three years after the end of Firebrand



Tonight was the perfect evening for a sail, or so my brother Jade thought. And I certainly couldn’t tell him how wrong he was.


The sky was mostly clear, dotted by just a few puffy clouds, their undersides tinged pink as the sun slid slowly towards the horizon. A brisk wind blew in from the west, making the sails billow. Jade was rather proud of his new sailboat, so when he’d invited me along for a sail a few days before, I agreed to come.


That was before I realized what the weather was going to do.


Now I could feel it. I could sense the massive bank of dark clouds that brewed just beyond our line of sight and could feel the wind currents picking up. I shivered. If it’s just a short sail, we might be all right. I’d have to find an excuse to ask Jade to turn around early, because I couldn’t tell him the truth. Especially not with Gabrielle here.


Jade was a picture of poise and calm as he stood at the wheel, his arm around his wife. They were both beautiful, their features illuminated by the evening light, her slender form next to Jade’s tall, muscular physique looking like it could blow away. We’d known Gabrielle—or Gabby, as Jade had us calling her now—since I was about seven, when Father’s job moved us from Sylvenburgh to Kirstein. Her family lived a few doors down from our new home. She was right between my brothers in age, and they’d both had crushes on her at various points in their lives. Jade, of course, had won that battle, and the two of them had been married for just over two years now. The wedding was a dream come true for my mother, whose illness had just begun to take a turn for the worse at the time.


I doubted Mother would approve of them now, though. There was no talk of children, and Gabrielle was no simpering housewife. They spent their money on extravagant things like sailboats and their time on organizations that I was only just beginning to understand.


“Ruby,” Gabrielle said to me, “you owe your brother a congratulations.”


I turned back from the bow and grinned at her. “Which brother? I have two of them, you know.” My last words were muffled as a gust of wind whipped my blond curls directly into my face. Jade laughed and ran a hand through his hair—blond like mine but cut short enough that his own curls were nonexistent.


“This one, obviously.” She snorted and turned to Jade. “Where is your brother, anyway?”


Jade shrugged. “I invited him, but he said he was busy. He’s probably out smoking teakflower with his new friends, as usual.”


Gabby frowned. “A shame. I still don’t understand what happened to him.”


Jade and I both nodded. Just over three years had passed since our brother returned from a job with scars on his face and the light gone from his eyes. The scars were nearly gone now, but the person we’d known had yet to return. Within a month, our normally competitive brother had been demoted to a mere clerical job at work, due to poor performance and constant tardiness. Most nights, he would stumble into the house in the wee hours of the morning, reeking of alcohol or strung out on teakflower, occasionally accompanied by an equally intoxicated woman. Neither Jade nor I had any idea what happened to him.


“He would have made a wonderful Witch Slayer,” Gabby went on. “Which, of course, is what you should be congratulating Jade on, Ruby. He became a full member just this afternoon.”


Jade grinned, his blue eyes glinting. “Time to start slaying some witches.”


“You did a splendid job of that during your initiation,” Gabby replied. “You should have seen your brother, Ruby. Put a knife right in that elfieblood’s gut and twissssted.” She drew the last word out, moving her hands to simulate the motion.


I felt the blood drain from my face, and Jade chuckled. “I don’t think Ruby here is the slaying type, Gabby. You’re scaring her.”


“What, you don’t want to join us when you’re a little older?” Gabby grinned.


I shook my head. “As Jade says, I’m not into killing.” My voice shuddered, and I toyed with my hair. Just ignore her. I’d learned to smile and nod when talk of capturing magic users and rendering them mute and disabled came up. It was unavoidable in my family. Now that Gabrielle was a part of it, though, the talk had shifted from stories of capture to outright murder. I frowned at Jade. “Does your job allow that? Killing witches for sport?”


“If I’m on the job, I’m meant to turn them in, not kill them, so long as I can avoid it. But no one can tell me what to do when I’m off the job.” Jade eyed me. “Don't tell Father.”


Gabby snorted. “Your father, second captain of the Breoch Guard, renowned hunter of magic, the same fellow who once turned in two dozen hildakins in a single day, disapproves of the Witch Slayers?”


“He thinks we’re a little extreme,” Jade replied. “The law doesn’t forbid being born with a talent, he says, it only forbids using it.”


“You’re going to have to move past that sort of thinking, my dear. That’s not how the Witch Slayers think. The only way to eliminate the scourge of magic is to eliminate all witches. Whether they use their magic or not.”


“Yes, I know that, but that’s why Father thinks…” A shadow fell over our boat as Jade spoke, and he glanced to the left and frowned. “Huh. That doesn’t look good.”


The large bank of clouds was visible now, hanging ominously on the horizon. The wind picked up, and our boat began to list to the right. “We’d better get turned around,” Jade mumbled.


My heartbeat picked up as I stared at the clouds. They were blowing in fast, and I knew they’d be over us in a matter of minutes. We don’t have enough time to get to shore.


There was, of course, one way to stop the storm. But it was suicide, especially in present company.


Jade and Gabby worked to turn the boat around, and the first few raindrops fell just as they set us to head back to land. The rain came hard and fast, heavy droplets that soaked through our clothes in a matter of seconds. But it wasn’t the rain that worried me. It was the wind.


Strong gusts tore at our sails and threatened to send us back to sea. The waves picked up and slammed themselves against the boat. One particular wave spilled over the side; the next tilted us far to the right. Gabby screamed as she nearly went over the edge.


This is ridiculous.


The words were burning on my tongue, words that I knew were damning and yet might well save us. If I did nothing, we could die. If I acted… well, I knew the consequences.


I turned away from my brother and my sister-in-law, took a deep breath and whispered three words, summoning the wind to do my bidding and driving the remainder of the storm far to the east, away from us. “Arius Dominus Karnium.”


The storm passed in seconds, the clouds moving away from our boat with unnatural speed. Gabby gripped the railing, gasping and trying not to cry. Jade put an arm around her and then glanced up at the sky, eyebrows knitted. “How… how did that happen?” he asked. I looked around, and only now did I see that there were no other boats nearby. His eyes met mine then looked at his wife. “One of you did that.”


Gabby’s head snapped up, and she pulled out of his embrace. “You’ve got to be joking,” she said, her voice wobbling. “You think I did that? Jade, I was the one who convinced you to join the Witch Slayers! You think I, of all people, am an elfieblood?”


Jade frowned, and then both of them turned to me.


“I…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. My mouth was dry; my heart pounded in my chest. I stared at my brother, unable to move or think.


Gabby spoke before Jade did. “Your sister is a witch?” Her voice turned acidic. “You have magic in your family?”


Jade stared at me, eyebrows knitted. “Apparently,” he said softly.


“You have magic in your family, and you didn’t think to tell me?” Gabby tossed her auburn hair out of her face and stared at him. “No, no, this isn’t happening. How do I know you’re not a witch yourself? One of your parents must be one, which means that when we have children, there’s a chance that…” Her voice broke, and she glared up at Jade. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Her words came out as a screech.


“Because I didn’t know!” Jade turned to her and crossed his arms. “I had no idea Ruby was like this, Gabby! And if one of my parents is a witch, then I don’t know about that, either! You think I’d hide something like that from you? You think I’d even consider dating someone whose entire family is made up of Witch Slayers, if there was a chance I was a witch myself? I’m not the one hiding things around here.” His gaze fell on me. “Why didn’t you tell us, Ruby?”


I gaped at him. “Why… why do you think?” My words came out ragged, halting. “Jade, you’ve known me my whole life, and suddenly you’re looking at me like I’m some sort of monster!”


“That’s exactly what you are.” Gabby’s lip curled in disgust. “I can’t believe I’ve known you all these years, only to find out now that you’re a filthy little witch. And you know what we do to witches, now don’t you?” My breath caught in my throat as she pulled a dagger from her belt. Then she frowned and turned to Jade. “You do it.”


Jade’s eyes widened. “You’re asking me to kill my own sister?”


“I’m telling you to slay a witch like a good Witch Slayer!” Gabby thrust the handle of the knife towards him.


Jade glanced at me and then shook his head. “No way. If you’re so intent on her being dead, you do it.”


“She’s your sister, therefore you need to purge your family of this… this stain!” Gabby’s green eyes narrowed. “If you value me as your wife, you will do this.”


“Since when do I take orders from you? I thought we were in this together, as partners! You’re not my superior.”


“If you don’t deal with her, then you’re not worthy to call yourself a Witch Slayer. And you’re not worthy of me, either.” Gabby’s voice turned to ice. “Spare her, and I will step off this boat, go back to my parents’ home, and never set foot in our house again. Choose, Jade. Me or her.”


Jade glanced between the two of us again and shook his head. “All right, how about this? No one kills Ruby. But when we get back to shore, I’ll turn her in, as per my job.”


“Jade, no!” The world began to spin. “I’m your sister!”


Jade's jaw tightened. “You broke the law, Ruby. Rules are rules.”


“But… I saved your lives! Don’t you understand? We’d all be dead if I hadn’t moved that storm along.”


He turned away from me and looked at Gabby. “Do we have a deal?”


Gabby huffed. “I suppose so.”


"Then let's move."


Jade took his place at the wheel, and I stood at the front of the boat and blinked back tears, trying to control my pounding heart. I need to get away. I knew all too well what awaited me if I did not. I went through a list of all my friends who I might be able to stay with if I ran away from home and came up lacking. None of them would shelter me if they knew the truth. I chased away a rogue thought that perhaps I should run off into the Shrouded Woods and join the riffraff that I knew lived there. I was aware that the woods were home to thieves and troublemakers, but I also knew that my father had gone into the woods hunting magic users at least once. Maybe someone in the woods could help me?


When we got to the docks, though, I knew it was too late.


The docks of the busy Kirstein harbour were crawling with Breoch Guard. As soon as they spotted our ship, a dozen guns were pointed at us, and orders were yelled to come into harbour immediately. I watched, my heart in my throat, as my brother obeyed. A young guard approached our boat once we were within speaking distance. “Jade?” he said.


Jade nodded at his coworker. “Albert. What is this?”


“There was magic out on the water, that’s what this is. Someone chased away a storm. We’re looking for the culprit.”


“Well, you have her.” Jade pointed at me. “My sister, Ruby. She was the one using magic.”


My heart dropped into my stomach.


Albert chuckled. “You’re a hard man, Jade, turning in your own family. All right, get your boat tied up.”


My head began to spin as Jade got to work. There’s no way out. I had water on one side, Breoch Guard on the other. I stared at my brother, but he was working methodically, avoiding my gaze. Gabby, on the other hand, glared at me, her eyes glittering with hatred. As soon as the boat was secure, one of the guards stepped onto the deck and grabbed my arm. Several others stood behind him, guns trained on me. My vision blurred with tears as he hauled me off the boat.


People began to crowd around as I was led to the waiting carriage, gawking at me as word spread on the docks of my capture. My wet dress had plastered itself to my body, making my curves more obvious, and a group of older men let out catcalls. One woman pulled her children close as I passed; on my other side, a child broke free of her father’s grasp and spat at me. “Elfieblood, elfieblood!” she cried out in a singsong voice. A stick whizzed past me. My face burned, but I wasn’t sure if it was from anger or shame. I forced myself to keep my head up, scanning the crowd, looking for an escape, a sympathetic passerby, anything to get me out of this.


Then my eyes landed on a familiar face. “Father!” I screamed out. “Father, don’t let them take me! I won’t do it again, I swear!” My voice broke, tears running down my face. “Call them off, Father, please!”


But my father did not meet my eyes. He kept his head down, gaze averted. He doesn’t want the people to know it’s him I’m screaming for, I realized. My father, the second captain of the Breoch Guard, had a witch for a daughter. His fellow Guard would doubtlessly shame him for that.


Just before they hauled me into the carriage, I screamed out one last name in a desperate hope that my other brother was somewhere in earshot, and that, despite his past entanglements with the Breoch Guard, he would save me.


“Jasper!”


There was, of course, no answer.


 









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