Hello, and happy Monday! Check out the new artwork we’ve gotten and our first excerpt from the Mystic Marauder prequel.
We are reaching out today to let you know that we are gathering together all the artwork for this series–we have gotten the first piece back from the artist. Check it out below!
We’ll be getting more art in over the next week or two and will share it with you as it comes in.
Next Stretch Goal
We are SO close to the next stretch goal–and once we hit it, we’ll be writing our villain’s vampiric origin story. We’ve had a ton of fun outlining his story!
Share the Campaign
To help us hit that goal, be sure to head over to the campaign and share it on social media. You can also enter to win a Premier Swag Pack in our giveaway by sharing the campaign on social media.
Excerpt from Maps & Massacres, the Mystic Marauder Prequel
Henry St. John, Third Son of the Earl of Northridge
I spent all afternoon at the taverns near the wharf, searching for someone who could provide what I needed. But Father wasn’t the only member of our family with connections. By dinnertime, I had made my arrangements.
My willingness to spend my father’s money with reckless abandon to get what I wanted helped. After all, it wasn’t like I was going to be around to suffer his wrath.
I cashed in several of my own accounts, as well, secreting my wealth in stashes hidden around my body and in the single bag I packed to take with me.
After dark that night, I made my way down to the Port of London. Giant sailing ships crowded the Thames, and it took me longer than I’d anticipated to find The Shadowheart, moored as she was away from the docks.
Finally, I found a dockhand willing to row me out for a few shillings, and we waited in the shadow of the ship. From high above me, I heard a rustling, and then the thump, thump, thump of a rope ladder slapping down beside me. I glanced up to see the face of the sailor I’d met that afternoon peering down over the railing, just long enough to wave a hand at me to hurry up.
The ladder swayed underneath my feet, reminding me of the games I had played in treehouses on my father’s estate when I was a child. I made my way up as quickly as I could, though by the time I reached the top, I wished I had thought to bring gloves. Even my worst riding gloves would have been useful.
The sailor helped me scramble over the railing and onto the deck, then shushed me as I started to thank him. Tugging me along behind him, he led me to a hatch leading belowdecks.
At least this hatch had a ladder made of wood leading down. The hold he led me to was close and dark and dank. It smelled of old seawater and the damp wood of barrels tightly packed, full of grain and alcohol and other goods.
He led me to a back corner where the cargo had been arranged to form a hollow space behind and under crates and barrels. It wasn’t obvious unless you knew it was there. And it wasn’t very big, either—there was just enough space one person to hide in if he curled up to sleep. One end of the hidey-hole stretched tall enough for me to stand straight, but only barely.
“You’ll need to spend the bulk of your time here,” the sailor instructed me. The makeshift cabin held a tin plate, a metal cup, and a single lantern with only the tiniest bit of oil. The sailor gestured at it. “I’ll replenish that as I can, too, but shipboard stores are carefully accounted for—I can’t promise much. You’ll probably want to save the light for later in the journey. I’ll open up the hatch during the day when I can, but sunlight will be even rarer than lamp oil.”
He pulled a few candle stubs out of his pocket. “I nabbed these, too, but the last stowaway we had near went mad, trapped down here all hours of the day and night in the dark with nothing to do but think.”
I nodded, thankful I’d thought to pack a book in my pack—at least I’d have something to while away the few hours of light I managed to get.
“I can bring you food every couple of days,” the sailor continued, “but you’ll need to be careful not to draw attention to yourself. If you do get caught and you’re lucky, the captain won’t toss you overboard immediately.” He shrugged. “Then again, she will put you to work, and you may wish you’d ended up walking the plank. Especially once we get to Australia and she sells you off as an indentured servant—or worse, reports you as a transported criminal just to punish you for stowing away. Much better to hide all the way there and let me sneak you off the ship as a free man, even if you’re an insane one by then.”
I nodded, though my heart was pounding. Was it worth the risk just to avoid going into the clergy?
Yes, I decided. I cannot live a lie.
I pulled a coin out of my purse and handed it to him. I didn’t let him see how much more I had—better, I thought, to pay him in increments than to risk having my throat cut in my sleep if he thought he’d soaked me for all I had. Not that he couldn’t do that and rifle through my lifeless body and belongings, anyway. I had to hope he was more trustworthy than he looked. Or at least greedy enough to hope for more every day.
He gave me a scratchy, rough-smelling blanket, and left me to come to terms with my new quarters.
I settled in for the longest, loneliest journey of my life.
Publishing on Kickstarter
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Have a great week and happy reading!
~Cali & Margo