Stage One: Hear (Print) - Voices of the Sanctum #1

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404 pages | Trade Paperback | 6x9"
Date of publication: 12/04/2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-946004-21-5
  • Model: 90393 words

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Heat Rating: 2 Flames

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Kana Morel is possibly the Sanctum's most powerful caster. Training Jamyn Siska as her new acolyte should be easy. When she accidentally discovers his hidden passion for her, she's not sure she can contain the ensuing firestorm.

Kana Morel has established herself among the Sanctum's elite operatives. There is no danger she cannot face, no problem she cannot solve, no enemy she cannot defeat.

Enter acolyte Jamyn Siska. He has studied Kana's impressive record and jumps at the chance to be teamed with her on a mission. The job swiftly goes sideways when the spirit they're pursuing accidentally feeds Jamyn's most guarded secret directly into Kana's mind--his overwhelming desire for her.

Kana barely has time to react to this when she's blindsided by a sudden promotion. Jamyn is now her acolyte. Jamyn can perceive the structure of magic, a strange phenomenon known as the Voice. Kana has the same ability, leading to their unexpected pairing.

The hidden passion of her new student, his potentially catastrophic knowledge of the Voice, and the storm of emotions brewing within Kana threaten to topple the Sanctum's greatest caster.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

"So what are we after again?"

Kana bristled under her heavy, black robe and shot her younger companion a sharp look of disapproval. Her steps quickened for a brief moment before evening out again as they walked together down the stone-lined corridors of the Sanctum's main complex. "Didn't you pay attention during your briefing?"

"I did," he answered immediately, struggling to keep even with her longer strides. "I just wanted to be sure. I've never--"

She stopped dead in her tracks and grabbed his shoulder, abruptly halting his advance. "Hold it. What do you mean, 'never'? Please tell me this isn't your first field assignment."

"Not really," he replied, fighting off any hint of hesitation in his voice. "I've been on a few gathering missions for the Apothics. Once I retrieved several of the Lorians' lost tomes."

Kana's dark eyes narrowed and she snarled under her breath. "Flowers and books? Pah!" She growled angrily. "You've gotta be kidding me!" She took two steps forward and slouched so she was almost nose-to-nose with the shorter man. In a flash, her right hand latched onto his crotch and gave it a wicked squeeze. "You ever been sent out to nab something that wanted to rip this off, jam it up your nose, and then tap-dance on your forehead?"

"N-no!" He stuttered, his composure quickly fading under her unwavering stare and iron grip.

"Then why the hell were you paired with me?"

"I volunteered!" he blurted.

Suddenly, he tagged the underside of her wrist with his index and middle fingers. Her grip released and he retreated a few steps. He gave his tunic a quick tug and smoothed it down over the front of his pants.

She lifted her arm and tapped her wrist twice, restoring control over her hand. "Chi diversion." She noted the move with a grudging respect. "Nicely done. Got any other skills that might prove useful?"

"I have been trained in all of the arts required by field members of the Spectral Corps," he replied, confidence returning to his voice.

"Trained by...?"

"First Seer Qa Shon."

Her dark eyebrows twitched upward, but only for a moment. "Qa? Seriously? How long has he been working with you?"

"The last two years."

"Years?" She shook her head and frowned, amazed she'd been out of the loop for that long. "Guess he's gotta do something to keep himself busy while I'm out busting my butt." She shook her head and chuckled. "Still, old Qa's gone back to teaching, huh? I thought he gave it up for good after me."

Her young companion shrugged. "He recruited me and then took me as his acolyte upon my arrival."

Kana pursed her lips and thought for a moment. "Same as me," she muttered under her breath.

A bright blue aura of power enveloped her right hand and she lunged forward, her fingertips aimed to pierce his chest.

A similar burst of light intervened, deflecting her strike. He instantly snared her right hand in his left. In a lightning-quick move, he poked her chest in two different spots with his free hand before driving an open palm just below her breastbone. Her limp body pitched forward and he wrapped an arm around her to keep her from falling to the floor. Her body molded to his, her head flopping backward so that she ended up looking up along his chest at him.

He tried to say something but uttered only a flustered squeak. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat. "Why did you do that?" He finally forced the words out.

"Had to see if you were any good," she mumbled, her words slurring as her cheek pressed harder into his chest. She lifted her free hand and clawed weakly at the side of his tunic.

"I would find it most inconvenient if you blew up my student," declared a serene voice from further up the hallway.

Kana stood up straight, easily slipping from her companion's grasp. "No worries, Qa," she told the short gray-haired man standing several paces away from the pair. "I wasn't gonna blow him up. Maybe just singe him around the edges a bit."

"Master!" the younger man blurted in confusion. "I was--" Her words finally registered in his mind and he turned back to Kana. "You what?"

"Examine your tunic, Mister Siska," Qa suggested. "I warned you that you must never let your guard down around Kana Morel."

The young man directed his attention to his side. A glowing glyph had been inscribed on his tunic.

His jaw dropped. "You were going to--!"

"I do not believe she would have done you permanent harm, Jamyn," Qa said. "It was likely meant to be a demonstration of how she never falls for the same attack twice."

"You used a chi shield to absorb my strike!" Jamyn gasped, his amber eyes widening when he realized how she had recovered so quickly from his last hit.

"Then played possum to draw you in close for the kill," she added with a sly grin, enjoying the look of sheer dismay on his face. "Lesson one--get the enemy's attention and then club him over the head with it." She casually rapped her knuckles on the top of his head before giving his light brown hair a quick tousle. "You figure out the glyph?"

"I did," he replied, looking back at his tunic. "Effects could range from a light electrical shock to full-scale immolation. Correct?"

"Yep."

He lifted his awestruck gaze back to her. "You had me marked for certain defeat in seconds!"

She brought her face close to his. "It's what I do."

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This book was added to our catalog on Thursday 01 December, 2016.

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