Amanda Bonilla visits Fantastic Fables with her heroine Darian from the Shaede Assassin series. The third novel in the series, Crave the Darkness, was released last month. Want to know our thoughts on the first novel in the series, Shaedes of Gray? Read the review here.
One lucky reader will win a copy of Crave the Darkness, thanks to Amanda Bonilla for today’s giveaway!
Darian and the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff
Okay, now I know I didn’t fall asleep on a barren hillside. The last thing I remembered, I was in my own bed, drifting off to the sounds of The Daily Show in the background. John Stewart’s snark puts me at ease. Now I was standing on the top of tall hill overlooking a stream with a bridge that led to a wide, grassy meadow.
“I don’t suppose you could help me out?”
I blinked and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Blinked again. The goat standing in front of me canted its head to the side as if waiting for a response. I had to be dreaming. Goats couldn’t talk as far as I knew. “Did you say something?” I asked, feeling completely stupid talking to a goat. It stood up on its hind legs and peddled its hooves in the air like some kind of trick pony.
“I’m trying to get across that bridge to the meadow,” the goat said, coming down on all fours. “My brothers are already over there, but I don’t think I can make it on my own.”
I looked down at the stone bridge. “What exactly do you need help with?” I still couldn’t believe I was having a conversation with a goat. “I mean, can’t you just trot across like your brothers did?”
“I could try,” the goat answered, “but I doubt I’ll make it. There’s a troll living under that bridge. He wanted to eat my brothers but they told him if he let them go, a bigger, fatter goat would come along that he could eat.”
Sheesh. Way to throw your sibling under the bus. “Sorry about that.” What was I supposed to say to a goat who’d been offered up as a sacrifice by his own family? “I’ll help you across, but, are you sure you want to go hang out with your brothers after they pulled such a douche move?”
“It’s all right,” the goat said. “We drew lots to see who’d go last.”
“You got screwed, buddy,” I said.
The goat let out a long, drawn out bleat that I had to assume was laughter. “Probably,” he said.
“So, what’s your name?” Did goats give each other names? He sort of looked like a Fred. Fred the goat.
“You can call me Gruff,” the goat said. “What’s your name?”
“Darian,” I responded.
“That’s a pretty nice sword you have there, Darian.” He bucked his head toward my right shoulder where the handle of my katana jutted out from my back.
“Thanks.” It was a damned good thing my subconscious had the good sense to bring a weapon along. Hand-to-hand combat with a troll didn’t sound all that appealing. “Well, let’s go for a walk across the bridge, Gruff.”
We headed down the dusty hill to the bridge. It spanned about thirty yards, constructed of river rock and mortar, arching over the river. I tried to see into the shadows beneath it, but without walking down to the shore, I couldn’t get a good enough look. As we neared the bridge, I became one with the light, merging with the rays of sun filtering down through the trees. The goat gave a start, turning a full circle and I spoke low in his ear, “I’m here, just using a bit of stealth.”
The goat bleated nervously in response and stepped onto the bridge, his hooves clicking and clacking as he walked. We hit the apex of the arch when a large troll vaulted in front of us, arms so long they almost dragged on the ground, hulking body corded with muscles. Damn, it was ugly as sin: face covered with boils and sharp teeth dripping with saliva. Ew. It brandished a large club with spikes protruding from the bulbous end, though I doubted it needed a weapon; the troll could have crushed both of us with one fist if it wanted to.
Regaining my corporeal form, I ripped the katana free of the scabbard. The troll gave a startled yelp and swung its club. I barely had time to jump out of the way as the club landed on the bridge with a resounding crack, debris and hunks of rock flying from the impact. I swung out with my sword, slicing through the troll’s hand and taking two of his fingers in the process. He shouted loud enough to shake the bridge beneath us and attacked with another downward sweep of his club. I parried the attack as best I could, but he had a good ton of weight on me and though I was strong, I wasn’t that strong. I expected Gruff to make a run for it, but he took up a position behind the troll and shouted, “Steer him toward the edge!”
Easy enough, I guessed. I was on the defensive, after all. I hopped up on the ledge of the bridge, teetering precariously as I fought to regain my balance. The troll lifted its club high in the air, prepared to smash me into oblivion. From the corner of my eye, I caught sight of gruff, his head bowed, crouched and ready to go. He dug his hoofs into the cobbled surface of the bridge propelling himself forward and ran at the troll full-speed, ramming his horns into the creature’s backside and propelling him off the bridge and into the river below. The troll floundered in the deep water, the current pulling him down stream as he sunk beneath the churning rapids. I hopped down from the ledge, watching as Gruff bucked his hind legs in the air, bleating happily before he canted across the bridge.
“Thanks for your help, Darian!” he called as he ran off to join his brothers who were busy glutting themselves on green grass.
“No problem!” I called back, looking around as a beep! beep! beep! invaded my consciousness.
I sat bolt upright in my bed and rubbed my eyes as the details of my studio came into focus, my right hand still clenched as though holding my sword. I hit the snooze button on my alarm and flopped back down on the pillows. What a crazy freaking dream. That was the last time I was eating a bag of Ghirardelli sea salt caramel chocolates before bed.
Amanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.
Want to read more from Amanda Bonilla?
This giveaway is provided by Amanda Bonilla!
One lucky reader will win a copy of Crave the Darkness
Available March 5, 2013 from Signet/Penguin
About this Book:
Nothing comes easy for Darian. Her heightened powers make her indispensable to the Shaede Nation, but dangerous missions have driven her lover, Tyler, to his breaking point. Darian must salvage their bond, but a new assignment to protect Anya—a fellow Shaede and the first of their kind to become pregnant in centuries—stands in their way.
It doesn’t help that the two Shaedes are longtime rivals and share nothing besides mutual hatred. But when it becomes clear that someone—or something—is bent on destroying the expectant mother and her unborn child, Darian must put her feelings aside and track down Anya’s would-be assassin.
As she probes into Anya’s past, Darian digs up long-buried secrets—and a connection between Tyler and the mission that could destroy everything between them…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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