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Sneak Peek of Redemption's Song

Are you excited to read book 4 in the Redemption Saga? I am simply thrilled to turn it loose on the world. My Beta readers have had great things to say about the conclusion of Valor and Erianna's story arc. Since I completed the book cover this weekend, I want to share an excerpt from chapter one of the story to reveal what type of weapon is featured on the cover. You can find the prologue of the story here, if you haven't yet read it.


The kindle version of Redemption's Song is available for pre-order on Amazon. If you intend to buy that version, I'd be ever so grateful if you'd reserve your copy by pre-ordering (you won't be charged until the release day). A successful book launch, much like opening weekend for a movie, begins with lots of sales the first day and week. It tells Amazon to keep the book higher in search results, even months after the launch, because readers are excited about it. If you will be buying the paperback version, those are, unfortunately, not available for pre-order. They will be available on the release day, February 11th. Thank you for all the love and encouragement you have shown me and this series! The enthusiasm of my readers is more than I could've hoped for.

Have a blessed new year!

E. L. Cross



Redemption’s Song

By E. L. Cross

© Erin L. Cross 2021. All rights reserved.


✦ Chapter One ✦


ERIANNA


October 23rd

I raise my sword and charge my opponent. I hold nothing back. This time I will bring him to ground. He sidesteps me, deflecting the downward arc of my blade with a flick of his wrist. I correct my sword’s path and step into my attack, using my body’s momentum to put force behind my sword’s cut. His connecting parry jars my arms, sending a line of pain through my shoulder. I ignore it, being careful not to allow our blades to lock at the cross guards where he will use his superior bulk to his advantage. Our blades sing as I slide my sword away from his, slipping away from his advance.

“Again!” He barks.

I feint twice then cut upward. His downward block looses the sword from my hands—more from the searing pain in my shoulder than from the precision of his movement. Instinct keeps the scream behind my teeth as I step out of his range, drawing a dagger with my left hand while cradling my right arm against my side.

Injured or not, a warrior must always be prepared to defend life and limb. Thankfully, my instructor does not make me prove my readiness this day as he has done in the past.

“Hold,” Kragorn raises a staying hand and sheaths his sword.

My singleminded focus on battle flees the second my beautiful dagger is reunited with its scabbard. Unfortunately, without that focus, my mind turns to the next pressing matter—the throbbing pain in my shoulder. I whimper and sit in the dirt floor of the training room. Normally, we would be at the barracks in the city utilizing their large training rings, but Kragorn agreed to meet me at the castle today since my schedule is more restrictive than his.

Kneeling in the dirt with me, he braces his hands on the front and back of my shoulder and orders me to rotate it. I do so with teeth clenched tight and watering eyes, the only outward symptoms of pain I have not mastered.

“It is still in place,” Kragorn determines and sits back on his heels. “I think it is time you accept the obvious.”

“The obvious being that I will eventually find myself back in a sling? I have already arrived at that conclusion.”

“No, the one after that.”

“Which is?” I find my feet and take up my sword with my left hand.

He wisely steps back before saying, “You should abandon the sword.”

“What!” I shout, brandishing the weapon in my clumsy off hand.

“Valor should have told you in Parse Kítaran.”

“Nonsense. I simply need more muscle strength, more training.” I place my left hand nearest the cross guard and use my right hand to steady the weapon near the pommel.

Kragorn dusts off his hands. “I am a weapons master. I have trained hundreds if not a thousand men to fight over the years. You and the sword are not suited.”

“This is ridiculous! I must be able to fight with a sword. I was practically lamed without it in the city. Fighting from horseback with daggers is impractical.”

“It is,” he concurs. “Even so, you are not suited.”

“So…” I drawl. A sometimes irritating habit of Kragorn’s is his use of as few words as possible. He says what he means and little else. It is good that he was given a wife with many words to balance him. Thoughts of her present another valid argument. “Leelah can fight with swords.”

“Leelah has never dislocated a shoulder. That can permanently weaken the tendons.”

“Then teach me to fight left-handed.”

“It will not help.”

“Leelah can fight left-handed,” I point out, tiring of this circular conversation. “If she can wield two swords, I can certainly manage one.”

Kragorn crosses his arms and gives me his signature look—a scowl. “You are finer boned and smaller framed than Leelah. Even without an injured shoulder, you would not be able to do what she can do.” Seeming to have heard his own words after uttering them, he threatens, “If you ever repeat that to her, I will deny saying it.”

Leelah would undoubtedly find insult in her husband’s factual statement about her being of larger frame than most women. Since her temper tends to explode in every direction, I will not repeat his words.

“I had those swords made especially for her. Even so, I would not want her in a true battle.”

“Why is that?”

“Take offense if you will,” Kragorn shrugs, “but under normal circumstances, a woman can never hope to match a man for strength. Leelah can hold her own in short skirmishes with the best of fighters, but sustained fighting against men will weaken her faster than her opponents.”

“I understand, but still I must be able to fight from the ground and from horseback. Would a custom sword help me?”

He considers me for a long moment, then his mouth twitches into a rare smile. “Come.”

I follow him from the training room to the weapons room where he positions me in the middle.

“Assuming you master a sword, your reach is still short. You need an advantage.” Kragorn selects a polearm from the racks along the wall and places it in my hands. “You are good with the quarterstaff. This will not feel much different.”

Thinking he was about to give me a sword to compensate for my size and injury, I do not receive the polearm graciously. It offends.

The strong, inflexible ash pole is tipped with a two foot long curved blade. It is roughly eight feet in overall length and awkward. I have seen the cavalry practice with them before, but it is not practical to carry one with me at all times like I can carry a sword.

“You are not convinced,” Kragorn notes.

I imagine myself lugging it through the castle and hand it back to him. “If I cannot use a sword, how am I supposed to use a sword on a stick? It is five times the weight of a sword.”

Wearing a scowl of rebuke, he hefts the weapon and demonstrates. “This is a glaive. It is not the weight of the sword that is the problem for you. It is the force of your opponent against your inferior strength. This will compensate for your opponent’s advantage with leverage and give you a longer reach. It can also be wielded from horseback.”

“And it will fit so well on my weapons belt,” I mock.

“This is a battle glaive. We will have a custom glaive made for you. It is the ancient weapon of choice by warrior maidens of old. Especially against a man armed with a sword.” He returns the weapon to the rack and strides from the room. I follow him back to the training room where he tosses me a squire’s quarterstaff then draws his sword.

“Defend yourself!” Kragorn exclaims and charges me.

I dance to the side, blocking with the staff, turn, and strike for his feet. He hops over the staff and brings his sword down, nicking my arm.

“Kragorn! Stop!” I plead without effect.

I block another attack, bracing my hands wide on the staff, and catch his full strength on the wood. Astonishingly, it does not break. I pivot and knock the staff across his back. He lurches forward.

With fresh enthusiasm, I throw myself into the movements I know so well. I can block his sword without allowing him to close in on me. I am able to use leverage and agility without actually engaging him in a battle of strength. I also realize that I am not fatigued like when I fight with a sword. I have much more fight in me.

As it is, I cannot bring Kragorn to ground. He is simply too skilled. But, I see how much advantage I would have if my quarterstaff was tipped with a blade. Swallowing my pride, I concur with his assessment. In a battle or on horseback, this weapon would place me on nearly equal footing with men.

“What say you, Warrior Queen? Would you like a glaive for your own?”

I loose a feral grin. “I might.”

“Good. This is the only thing of which you must be cautious.” Kragorn arcs his blade. I parry, pivot, yet somehow he is upon me, advancing on my back that I left unguarded for a heartbeat. He shoves me forward. I feel a sword tip in the middle of my back.

“I yield,” I say, for if I do not, Kragorn will prove that he has won the match by drawing more blood. Valor and Anders never do that. In fact, they rarely draw blood from me when I spar against them, though they have no such reserve with each other. It is only with Kragorn that I must be on my guard. He believes a little blood and pain lends authenticity to the match and increases my desire to win. He is correct, of course.

“When may we go to the armorer?”

“Immediately.” Kragorn passes a cloth to me to staunch the trickle on my arm. I do not know when he cut me. “It will take him some time to complete. We may also go to the saddler to order your greaves.”

My face heats. I intended to go with Valor but did not have the opportunity in the few days that he was in Malsihra after his last assignment. He set out to hunt the Ruphiri when they made a brazen attempt to raid the storehouses in Chishelm days after their attack here in the capital. They abandoned the scheme when our soldiers foiled their efforts after being alerted and thwarted by the townsfolk. It was satisfying to see our provisions pay off after the atrocity in Malsihra.

“You ought to have it done,” Kragorn prods. “Valor made deposits at both shops for you, knowing he would be on assignment for a time.”

“He did?” I knew about the greaves to protect my “fine legs,” as he put it, but I did not know about the deposit at the armorer.

“Some excuse about you being properly armed and protected without taxing the kingdom’s coffers.”

“That is thoughtful, but unnecessary. I would not want him to expend so much on me, especially after buying the rest of my armor.”

“And your horse and tack,” Kragorn reminds me.

I shake my head. “Leer reimbursed him for those.”

“I am sure the king would have, but Valor provided for you out of his own accounts while journeying across the continent. Every garment, every pastry came from him.”

“How do you know that?” I demand.

“I asked,” he scolds, because I did not realize his brother’s generosity.

Warm tenderness spreads from my heart through my whole being. Valor looked after me in every way, even when I was not his to care for, and he has continued to do so without fail. “It was my greatest honor,” he told me of our time together before I wed.

Maybe, just maybe, it does not have to be the greatest honor. Maybe someday, there can be more.

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