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Red Eclipse

An unusual object, compelling and unexplainable, comes into the possession of reclusive author, Suzanne Jennings, by an even stranger set of circumstances. The Tearstone forces her on an ominous journey to a time and place over a thousand years into our future, long after five natural cataclysms have almost destroyed the earth. What is left of mankind clings to the remnants of a fierce feudal society, living in a harsh climate and hostile environment. Those who have survived are forced to hunt and destroy the skags--the Others-of-Us--the (nearly) immortal survivors of biological contamination, who scavenge the land looking for anything or anyone to eat, either living or dead. Weary and scarred after years of fighting renegade tribesmen and the undying scags, the warlord, Prince Akken'ar must find and bring back the promised Wordsayer to his towered keep, Ironhold. All hope rests on the Wordsayer's ability to read and relay the words of the blessed Saint Kyrk's Sacred Text--how to defeat the skags. However, no one, especially Akken'ar, expected the Wordsayer to be a beautiful and intriguing woman. Time is running out. The creatures gather on the night of the Red Eclipse, an event that occurs every 214 years ... and Akken'ar has ten days left.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


C.L. Scheel

    Whether Christine Scheel is writing sci-fi/fantasy, a romantic suspense, or a Regency, writing is her passion-- not to mention horses, hiking and opera, but not necessarily in that order! Originally from Portland, Oregon, Christine resides in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Robert.

Reviews

"Scheel has created a believable universe and populated it with characters that readers will care about. But the contemporary scenes pale in comparison to the fast-paced action in San'Sorofel. Suzanne's struggles are believable and the ending holds a twist."

Karen Sweeny-Justice -- Romantic Times Book Club



4 cups

"C.L. Scheel has written an exciting story of elegant warriors full of a sense of responsibility, loyalty, and gallantry. The story line and pacing is brisk, making it irresistible and impossible to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed this book."

Katherine L. Hunt -- Coffee Time Romance
Excerpt


Chapter One

FOR THREE NIGHTS Suzanne dreamed of snow and of a pale bloodstained moon casting its cold light across a gleaming expanse of white, stretching endlessly to the horizon. She knew it was a sign, an ominous foretelling that haunted and unsettled her. And this particular night, wild with shrieking wind and driving rain, only heightened her unease and kept reminding her of the disturbing dreams.

Normally, she favored cool, rainy nights as the best time for writing. A mug of cocoa and her favorite shawl wrapped around her shoulders helped set the mood for hours of intricate plotting. The night encouraged the development of exotic, fascinating characters—what every science fiction author strove to accomplish.

She really shouldn't be working at her computer. Storms always made the monitor flicker. Power outages were frequent in such a rural area, which shut down her computer and plunged everything into darkness. Suzanne always kept a fire burning in the wood stove. It often consoled her as she contemplated restoring all her work after the sudden loss of power. The cheery flames also warded off any sinister shadows and seemed to dispel the menace of writer's block.

But, not tonight. The wind sang of omens, prophesied peril.

Her Siamese cat, Legolas, jumped onto her lap and pushed his head into her hands, demanding a scratch behind the ears. The proud cat shared her small house—hidden in the woods—and earned his keep by making sure the resident rodent population stayed at zero. He was a sleek, inscrutable creature, an elf-prince trapped in the body of a cat, swathed in fur the color of smoky champagne, with eyes like cobalt glass.

Elegant and aloof, Legolas lived up to his Tolkien namesake. He rarely meowed—not a typical "talky" Siamese. When he wasn't hunting, he took lengthy naps draped across the top of her monitor, one paw dangling over the side. Conversations were comprised of subtle eye contact, an occasional twitch of whiskers or a disdainful yawn. Sometimes Legolas' tail would snap with irritation or, languidly curl and uncoil, conveying his utter boredom.

Suzanne stopped trying to type and studied her lordly pet. "I'm not going to get this manuscript finished in time, and Lorraine is going to kill me."

One eye opened to a mere sapphire sliver. So?

"You're not being very helpful," Suzanne complained softly.

What do you expect me to do?

"I expect you to be sympathetic, understanding."

Legolas flexed the single dangling paw, unsheathing five miniature sabers that gleamed in the firelight. I am. I'm here. Isn't that enough?

Yes, it was enough. It ought to be enough. At least the cat understood her success and her need for solitude. Whereas David had not… The look in his eyes, his angry bewilderment and selfish indignation would forever torment her. David had wanted her to be his wife, not a celebrity. Snarled within the tangle of his hurt pride and jealous disdain, Suzanne soon realized being alone was easier…and safer. She never had to worry about restoring her battered heart or surrendering her misplaced trust.

Sighing, Suzanne got up and padded into her small, dimly-lit kitchen hunting for a snack. The wind had picked up again, beating the rain against the glass. Looking outside the living room window, she noticed her numerous bird feeders swinging wildly in the strong gusts, spilling out most of the seed. She was tempted to bring the feeders inside, but decided against it. It was too cold and the wind too threatening. She'd clean up the mess in the morning after the storm was over.

Finding nothing that appealed to her, she turned back to her computer, hands chafing against her upper arms to ward off the chill. The computer offered no consolation to her writing dilemma. Suzanne's editor had given her two weeks to complete her newest book, but it would not come to a satisfying end. The nearly finished manuscript sat in her computer like a malevolent toad, mocking her, daring her to break its evil spell.

She should quit and go to bed, but the wind troubled her and she knew the strange dreams would only disturb her sleep.

The jagged glare of headlights through the rain-wet window startled her. She rarely had visitors. Those who did visit were by invitation or they called first. She moved to the door and pulled a small pistol from its hiding place behind a large Boston fern. Suzanne wasn't stupid. A single woman, living alone in a remote wooded area of Washington state had to take precautions. It was either a well-trained guard dog, or a gun. The gun was cheaper and it couldn't pick a fight with Legolas.

Almost before the visitor knocked, she hastily put the gun away. Through the narrow window alongside the door, she recognized the familiar black and white SUV with its crown of lights on the roof. It was Dane McKenna, the local county sheriff. She opened the door, letting in a fierce gust of wind and a blast of icy rain. Dane quickly stepped inside. Water ran from his heavy jacket, pooling at his booted feet.

"Wild night, huh?" he said with a wry grin.

"Yes. What brings you here? Is something wrong?"