The Falconer is a free murder mystery story set in the world of the Twelve Baronies novels.
Roan woke in the cool and familiar darkness of the mines.
For a moment he was twelve again, expecting to hear his mother’s call or his father’s shrill whistle to summon him home from a day of squeezing into cracks that wouldn’t admit a full-grown adult, scouting for gems and seams of ore. Then he tried to move, and the exploding pain in every inch of his body brought him back to the present with a string of curses that would have made his twelve-year-old self blush.
He was twenty-six years old.
He was the Falconer at Kethsgill.
And by Keyif’s fire and Oelum’s ice, there was no reason for him to be back in a mine shaft.
From the forest above, a cry split the air. He knew it at once: Bridd, one of the pair of red-tails he’d raised and trained since his youth. The two common hawks looked out of place amidst the majestic owls and gyrfalcons of the castle mews but they were too domesticated to return to the wild, and he was fond of them. Now, her piercing call brought everything back to him with a shock every bit as cold as plunging naked into the waterfall pools at midwinter.
He remembered the woman on the battlements, vomiting blood across the flagstones as his hawks circled and cried warnings. The way some substance in her body had seemed to tug at him, like the ore in the mountains, even as her life drained away before his eyes. The blank expressions that had greeted him when he’d tried to explain to the priest and the guard captain that he feared hers was not a natural death.
When a stranger tells her she's a mage, Ailith is intrigued but she's also afraid. Magic is heresy, and heresy means death under the Temple Law. Even literacy is suspect in a girl of her background, and her sister's impending wedding only serves as a reminder that she should be focusing on her future. Then a local priest asks her to rescue his son, and she starts to wonder if her talents could be a blessing, after all.
The Lord Baron of Watersmeet, Leofwin isn't accustomed to welcoming uninvited visitors. A commoner turning up at his gates should be no more than a minor footnote to his day, but something about Ailith catches his attention. Alchemy can be lonely work and an apprentice might be just what he needs.
As their lessons grow into shared experiments, Leofwin wonders if he might even trust her with his greatest challenge. But Ailith can't forget why she came to the castle.
Watersmeet is the first of a new series of epic fantasy and romance novels set in the Twelve Baronies. Although part of a series, it's a standalone story at 430 pages.
Roan wakes at the bottom of a mine shaft, badly bruised but lucky to be alive. He doesn't remember how he got here, but as he'd just witnessed a suspicious death, he's afraid someone is trying to cover their tracks. The only problem is, he can't imagine who would have wanted to kill the young Lady Arleigh.
The Falconer is a free short story set in the world of the Twelve Baronies novels. Download it here.