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Book Previews - Veil of Darkness
Book One of The Earthsoul Prophecies

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    Brysia smiled again as she rose, then went into the house, leaving him alone with his worry. He deliberately set about hitching up A’shan, trying his best to keep the dartbow from his thoughts, but finding it impossible to do so. He didn’t think he was ready to experience the tingling surge of Ta’shaen again. Frankly, it scared the life out of him.
    But he had agreed to take it, so when he finished with the wagon, he went into the house and walked up to face the tiny weapon. It didn’t look any different from the first time he had used it—not to his eyes anyway—but it was different in his mind. Even without touching it, if he concentrated, he could feel the Power pulsing through the weapon’s internal mechanisms.
    Taking a deep breath, he reached out and drew the miniature crossbow from its holster. A tingling surge of energy rippled up his arm, causing the hair on his neck to prickle, and he momentarily considered casting the weapon aside as he had the last time he touched it. He held on, determined to face this thing down. Fortunately, the feeling lasted only a few seconds more then faded. The wood of the handgrip felt as it always had: like wood, smooth and cool to the touch.
    Relieved, he exhaled slowly. He could still sense the Power within the weapon, but the tingling in his hand was gone. He returned the dartbow to the holster, waited a minute, then drew it again.
    Nothing happened. There was no sudden surge of Power, no tingling, not even a whisper of what he had felt before. He wasn’t sure what to make of it, but when it came right down to it, he really didn’t care.
    Holstering the weapon once more, he took it down and belted it around his waist. Perhaps the sensing of a Power-wrought weapon only happened once. Or maybe it only lasted until he had accepted it for what it was. Either way, his mother’s advice had been good. Smiling, he fingered the handgrip as he climbed the stairs to his room. It felt good to wear the weapon again. Its weight was comforting.
    He pulled a trunk from under his bed and rummaged through its contents until he found the box of extra darts he was looking for. He took out a tray with red fletchings. Red for poison, and these were the most lethal of all. Tipped with pyfer, a rare compound made from a plant found in Arkania’s Storm Mountains, it was the deadliest poison known to man, able to kill an animal as large as a horse in seconds. Men died immediately. It had been used for centuries to foil assassinations. Even a Riaki Deathsquad was no match for a weapon so deadly. Or so fast.
    He drew the dartbow and took aim at a small leather circle hanging on the wall. Green light flashed as he pulled the trigger, and the leather circle thumped away from the wall as a single blue-fletched dart struck it dead center. At least I haven’t lost my touch.
    He marveled at the weapon’s peculiar mix of mechanics and Earthpower. Except for the obvious lack of any kind of a bowstring, it looked normal enough. It was when he pulled the trigger that its uniqueness was seen—a thin line of green fire that appeared between the bow tips and launched a dart from the spring-loaded clip within. Launched it so quickly, in fact, that the dart was invisible as it hissed through the air. He had done an experiment once and found that the darts reached their target twice as fast as an arrow shot from his nicest bow. It was truly an amazing weapon.
    He held his hand beneath it and pressed a small button. Ten blue-fletched darts dropped into his palm. Blue because the poison was made by mixing crushed Blue Thistle leaves with the venom of a blue-bellied toad. Much weaker than pyfer, bluthis, as he’d named it, was only strong enough to kill small animals and birds. People it only made sick.
    He dropped the darts into the box and carefully loaded fifteen red darts into the weapon’s inner mechanism. When he finished, he snapped the metal sleeve closed and slid the tiny crossbow back into its holster. After checking one last time with his mother, he left for town.

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