About the Book:
The laws are enforced by magic.
If you break the law, you’re cursed.
But the rich and powerful twisted the laws to allow for… exceptions.
Marshal has been cursed since birth for his unknown father’s crimes. When he discovers he’s also heir to immense magical power, he must flee for his life. His half-brother wants the power for himself and has hired an assassin to pursue Marshal and his mother. No one has ever escaped from a curse, but it’s the only way for Marshal to be truly safe.
Seri wants to become the most powerful mage in history. But the magic that holds the world together is failing and no one knows why. While the ground itself shakes, someone begins murdering mages. In danger from all directions, Seri must learn how to use her unique abilities before everything falls apart.
Neither of them know they are being watched from another realm…
Volraag snorted. “Well, I never thought I would be the one to give out such news, but congratulations. You’re the firstborn son of the all-powerful Lord Varion.” He paused. “You’re also a bastard, conceived by rape.” He shook his head. “To be honest, muteness seems like a relatively minor curse for the crime of rape, compared to others I’ve seen.”
Marshal found himself growing angrier as he considered this information. He wondered why Aelia had never told him, but the full weight of Lord Varion’s actions was almost unbelievable. Most people who bore a curse bore the consequences of their own actions. But the Lords of Antises had exempted themselves from the magical laws. Any curses of their actions fell on their children. Marshal had known that his father must be a noble, but Lord Varion himself?
And a “minor” curse? What did Volraag know of him? Muteness was only the beginning. As if in response to his thoughts, his right hand began to tremble.
“There it is!” Volraag whispered. He rose from the fallen tree and took a step toward Marshal. His eyes had widened, but not with surprise. Marshal had seen the same look on faces at the town’s annual thawing feast. He had seen it on Victor’s face a time or two when he looked at Careen and she wasn’t looking back. Volraag’s face held… desire?
Marshal took an involuntary step backward and grabbed his right hand with his left.
“Does it do that often?” Volraag asked, never taking his eyes off the trembling hand.
Marshal shrugged. That was the right gesture, wasn’t it?
“That is not a part of your curse, brother. That is something… much more.”
Marshal looked at him with narrowed eyes.
Volraag tore his eyes away from the shaking hand and looked Marshal in the face. “Do you at least know of the six Lords and their magical power?”
Marshal nodded. Who didn’t?
“Varion is one of the six Lords. That means he holds a vast portion of this world’s magic within him. He wields unbelievable power when he chooses to…” Volraag trailed off and looked away, as if thinking of something unpleasant. He shook his head and looked back.
“Despite the fact that the… circumstances of your birth led to you being cursed, your birth also entitles you to this inheritance. When Varion dies, or surrenders his power at the Passing, that power will move on to you.”
Marshal released his trembling hand and looked at it. Magic power? The power of a Lord? He had nothing like that. He had shaking, trembling. He was “Curse Boy,” not “Lord’s son.”
“Yes, you already possess a tiny fraction of the power within you.” Volraag took another step closer. “It’s like a lodestone calling out to metal. When Varion releases his power for the last time, it will be attracted to that. It will come to you, and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent it.”
Marshal found himself breathing hard. He could feel the trembling spreading through him. It had done that before, but he hoped it didn’t happen now. He didn’t like the way Volraag looked at him, and he didn’t know how to think about these revelations.
Volraag started to turn away, then rotated back, a long, thin dagger in his hand. “Actually, there is one thing that can prevent it: your death.”
Marshal stumbled and looked around. The guards still kept everyone else in the town center.
Volraag looked down at the dagger. “I could kill you myself, right here and right now. Based on what I can guess of your life in this pathetic dungheap, I doubt anyone would be very upset, other than your mother.”
Volraag casually pushed the point of the dagger a full inch into the fallen tree trunk. Marshal’s eyes remained fixed on it.
“But since I’m not a Lord yet, if I were to do that, I would be cursed. And I won’t be a Lord until my father dies. At which point, you would already have the power.” He spread his arms wide. “You see my dilemma.”
Dilemma. Marshal’s existence was a dilemma to this man.
Volraag sighed and leaned back against the tree without actually sitting. “This is not going as I expected it to,” he admitted. “Out of all possible curses, I had not anticipated muteness. I was relying on my own persuasive ability here, but it’s impossible to tell if you’re sufficiently grasping what I’m saying.”
He studied Marshal again. “I’ve been searching for you for a few years now. Obviously, I knew Varion had a bastard child, but I didn’t know where. I’ve had spies out all over Varioch and even across the borders.” He paused and gestured toward the south. “That’s not easy when we might be going to war with Rasna any day now.
“A few days ago, I heard about a cursed, fatherless man in a secluded village, and I knew.” He tapped his own head. “I just knew that my search was over.”
He pushed away from the tree and stepped forward. Despite his own admission that he was the younger brother, Volraag stood a full span taller than Marshal and appeared far stronger. Marshal’s hand continued to shake, and he swallowed. If Volraag really did choose to kill him, he could do nothing about it. The only thing protecting him was Volraag’s fear of cursing himself.
“Let me put it this way,” Volraag said. “Lord Varion’s power will be mine one day, one way or another. In fact, it’s really just one of two ways.”
He held up two fingers and pointed to one. “The simplest solution for all of us is that you kill yourself. No one gets cursed, and I get what I want.” He looked into Marshal’s eyes. “If Varion’s power came to you, after all, your curse would prevent you from fully using it. Besides, who would miss you? Your mother is still young. She’ll get over it. And I would think, with the life you live here, it would actually be a… relief.”
He pointed to the second finger. “And she is the reason why you don’t want to wait for the second solution. Should you fail to kill yourself, I will have to arrange for your death in other ways. More specifically, I will send someone to kill you, someone who isn’t worried about curses.”
He leaned in so close Marshal could see the moisture in the corners of his eyes.
“And he will also kill your mother.”
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
I started writing my own comic books when I was eight or nine. They weren’t very good. I worked on an epic fantasy novel off and on throughout high school and college. Eventually, I gave up and focused on “real life.” But a few years ago, I knew I had to start again. I began writing, writing, writing, researching more about good writing, and writing some more. And here I am now.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
Not especially. I sit in front of a computer all day, anyway, so whenever I can write, I do it. I seem to work best in the evening.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. An observation from one of my kids while we’re driving, the fragments of a dream when I wake up, a stray thought in the middle of a bicycle ride – anything can inspire me. My Notes app is full of notes all titled “Story Idea.”
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
Yes and yes. I usually have a broad outline and a specific ending that I’m looking toward. Along the way, the characters have a lot more control – at least if I’ve developed them enough. They can swing the story back and forth in directions I didn’t expect, but it all still heads toward that ending I have in mind.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
I write fantasy. I’ve been fascinated by it since my dad read the Narnia books to me when I was around five or six years old. Then I discovered The Lord of the Rings a few years later, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
Let me think… Casting Marshal would be very difficult as you’d need someone who could communicate a lot with just his face, and that under scars! I think Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things might be able to do it. He has a brooding look that might work well.
As for Seri, my other protagonist… unfortunately, I don’t know any young Middle-Eastern actresses that would fit this role. All the ones that I can think of would be too old.
It’s easier to cast some of the supporting roles with big-name guest stars: Evangeline Lily as Aelia. F. Murray Abraham as Master Hain. And a cameo appearance by Shohreh Aghdashloo as Lady Lilitu.
Finding a Mayan-looking martial artist for Kishin might be very difficult…
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read as much as I can, when I can find the time. I’ve already mentioned Tolkien and Lewis as huge influences. For more modern authors, I love Stephen Lawhead, David Farland, and Brandon Sanderson.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
At the moment: The Light of All that Falls, by James Islington. It’s taking me a while, not because it’s long, but because his world-building is so DENSE. (That’s a compliment.)
9: What is your favourite book and why?
It will always be The Lord of the Rings. It was the first truly epic fantasy that I read, and nothing has ever surpassed it. Every time I re-read it (which is often), I marvel at Tolkien’s skill in world-building, and I’m moved by the awesome beauty of the scene at the gates of Minas Tirith. (Seriously, I could study those 2-3 pages for days. I’m still mad at Peter Jackson for not getting that one scene.)
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Read. Write. Study everything you can find about writing. Repeat.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
My website: www.timfrankovich.com
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/timfrankovichauthor
About the Author:
Tim Frankovich has been exploring fantastic worlds since third grade, when he cut up a grocery sack and drew a Godzilla-meets-superheroes story. Since then, he’s gotten a little bit better at the writing part (not so much with the drawing). His goal as a writer is to transport readers to another world, make them care deeply about characters in dire situations, and guide them deeper into life itself. At the moment, he is probably suitably conscious somewhere in Texas with his beloved wife, awesome four kids, and a fool of a pup named Pippin.