Thank you so much for having me as part of the Elements of Sorcery 2013 Tour--I really appreciate you hosting this interview. I'm giving away three full sets of the Elements of Sorcery so-far as part of the tour, so I hope that your readers will enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for their chance to win!
That was my first thought when consciousness returned. The second made me wrinkle my nose against the steady drops of water that fell upon it.
Realization crashed in.
My hands flew to my chest, poking and prodding my center of mass. The pain had vanished. I was lying in a rapidly-diluting pool of my own blood as cleansing rain poured through the worn thatching that covered the alley, but I was no longer losing any more precious life. I rummaged through my robes, but found only smooth skin where the blade had entered.
After a moment's panic, I found the heartblade caught up in one of the folds of my robe's sleeve, its light gone dark. I plucked it out and wrapped my fingers around it, carefully. On the ground beside me lay the silver manacle which had been clamped around my wrist, the sign of my servitude. It had broken into two pieces, with black scorches marking the shattered edges.
With careful precision, I checked the rest of myself. The large gold ring which clutched an amber gem had not moved from its place on the second finger of my left hand. My bag of tricks, consisting of several small magical artifacts which I'd imbued with various enchantments over the last several months, still hid away in a concealed pocket inside my robes. Whoever had killed me hadn't been interested in my trinkets and treasures—just my life.
A quick look around revealed no sign of other people nearby. The ambient light had vastly dimmed, but the sun had not yet set. The sunny day that I remembered had been replaced by the iron-gray storm clouds above.
For a moment, paralysis gripped my mind.
What have I done?
The haze clouding my vision pushed back at the edges, and I forced myself into an upright position. A rush of dizziness almost took me back down to the cobbles, but I managed to sit up straight and look around.
How much time had passed? I had no idea. I tucked the heartblade back into the leather case at my ankle, safely away into the velvet-lined interior. A brilliant warmth suffused me, I slowly realized, as though a hearth fire had been kindled at the very center of my being. In fact, I felt better than I had in years.
I flexed my fingers experimentally a few times, finding myself mostly unchanged. No immediate defects that made themselves apparent to my eyes, and as I at last climbed to my feet, the lingering haze of unconsciousness dissipated.
I glowered down at the broken silver manacle with every ounce of sneering contempt that I could muster. It had been my chain for six months. A shock collar to keep the good little lapdog in line. If only I'd known what I had agreed to when I'd accepted it, I might have chosen to starve on the streets instead.
Ah, what's the point in lying to myself? I'd never have nobly starved if there was another option available.
Gingerly, I picked up the blackened silver pieces and stuffed them into an inner pocket of my robe. The enchantment was gone from it now, but one never knew when pure silver might come in handy.
As I tucked away the broken manacle, a thought recurred. I stood on the street alive, but I was supposed to be dead.
"Black gods," I muttered under my breath. "Who did I piss off now?"
In that moment, a thought percolated its way through my mind. If I'd been left for dead in an alley, my assassin was convinced of my death. Indeed, there would have been no way for me to have survived such an assault, had I not been holding a trump card in reserve. Two things logically followed from this train of thought.
One, my assassin did not know about the heartblade that I carried, which meant my efforts to conceal it had been successful.
Second, the city of Selvaria thought I was dead.
A weird chuckling snort escaped me. "By gods," I murmured. A new glow, this time one of inspiration, warmed my mind. "I get to investigate my own murder!"