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Today, our post is about The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, a new YA Fantasy series with over 100 five-star reviews! Written in the spirit of Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder, and Sarah J. Maas, The Cat’s Eye Chronicles follows the adventures of Sora Fallcrest, a young noblewoman who is kidnapped by a dangerous and mysterious assassin. If you like magic, romance, and exotic worlds then check out this series! You’re sure to fall in love. You can even read the first book, Sora’s Quest, for free (click here).
Now pull up a seat, stay a while and read an exciting, totally exclusive excerpt of Ferran’s Map, Book 4 in The Cat’s Eye Chronicles!
Exclusive Excerpt: Ferran’s Map by T. L. Shreffler (Book 4 in The Cat’s Eye Chronicles)
Sora flexed her injured hand, testing the wound beneath the bandages. She knew what she had to do. She stood up and dressed herself in a thick woolen shirt, belted at the waist, and snug cotton pants. She pulled her boots on one by one, stretching out her back and legs as she did so.
Finally, she strapped her daggers to her belt and slung her staff over one shoulder, then headed above deck on the Dawn Seeker, a mid-sized schooner sailing down the Little Rain river. She exited the row of cabins and walked down the side of the ship in the early morning light. Finally, she paused next to a large barrel. She knew he would be here, as he always was at this time.
Crash stood at the aft of the boat. As she watched, he finished a quick set of press-ups and crunches, then ran through a series of sprints across the deck. These simple exercises would warm his muscles in preparation for more strenuous training. His breath appeared in small bursts of vapor and he had yet to break a sweat.
He finished his sprints and removed his shirt. The sky held only a slight tinge of gray, but in the dim pre-dawn light she could see the scars that traced his powerful back. They crisscrossed every which way, some long and thin where blades had cut, or perhaps whiplashes. Others formed white, rough craters, puncture wounds from arrows or daggers. They were small but numerous and formed a fine web across his shoulders, like constellations drawn on tan parchment.
She knew his longest scar began at his jaw and cut down his chest in a jagged white line—a wound the bloodmage Volcrian had dealt him many years ago. It should have killed him, but he was not a normal man. He had another scar at the base of his neck, a new one, freshly healed from the Isles: a circle of angry, warped skin, as though someone had jammed a hot-poker straight between his collar bones. A sunstone caused it, a weapon of the Harpies used to bind and torture the Unnamed. His voice still hadn’t fully recovered. His tone sounded rougher, deeper than she remembered. As an assassin, it only made him sound more lethal when he spoke, like small rocks grinding behind his words.
He paused after another set of crunches, then stood to face her. Sora left the protection of the barrel and stepped into the open. He watched her quietly, appearing neither concerned nor curious.
She had prepared a little speech for this moment while lying awake in bed, but now, words failed her. She cleared her throat. “A long time ago, you called me your student,” she said.
He considered her for a moment, then nodded.
“I’d like to be that again…if I can.”
Crash observed her, then a slight smile crossed his face, a wry tug of the lips. Wordlessly, he sank into a fighting stance, his knees bent agilely and his hands held naturally before him, slightly below eye level. He beckoned her with a quick flick of his wrist.
Sora felt mildly surprised. Well that was easy. Then she mimicked his position. Her stance was not as smooth or comfortable as his. Her legs strained from the slight crouch and she hesitated before setting her left foot first. It had been some time since she last practiced hand-to-hand combat and her muscles were cold.
She first came to know Crash in the depths of Fennbog swamp, where he taught her to defend herself, to leap nimbly over roots and through tree branches, to duck and weave, block and punch, kick with enough force to break ribs. Now—after uncovering the truth of his race, the hidden darkness of his past—she would come to know him again. Their friendship needed to be rebuilt, so she would start over from the beginning.
He waited for her to make the first move. She approached him warily and decided to attack head-on, best to get it over with. She let out a swift punch to his face, which he easily blocked, sweeping it to one side with his open palm. One attack led into the next, and she tried to follow the momentum of his body, jabbing out with her elbow, bowling into him, attempting to knock him off balance. He intercepted all of her blows.
She moved faster as her muscles loosened. She caught him behind the knee with a deft kick. He fell gracefully and rolled on his shoulder, leaping immediately back to his feet, coming up from behind. She turned and blocked his punch aimed for her lower back. A quick volley of strikes and jabs ensued, and now she found herself on the defensive, relying purely on muscle memory and instinct. He moved too fast for her to watch his hands. She tried to anticipate each blow.
Finally she saw an opening. She lunged, intending to upper-cut him in the jaw, but he caught her hand at the last minute and spun her around, pulling her against his chest. He locked her arms in front of her, tightly holding her wrists. She gasped, surprised by the abrupt change of position.
“Softly,” he murmured against her ear, his breath unexpectedly hot on her cold cheek. “You’re too rigid.”
“You’re too fast,” she countered.
“You’ll be faster if you loosen up.” He held her like that for a moment too long it seemed, or maybe she became overly focused on the warmth of his skin, the tight coil of his arms. Then he abruptly released her. “You’re worse than I remember,” he mentioned.
She flushed. “I…I know,” she relented. “It’s the Cat’s Eye. Usually it helps me.”
Crash raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been cheating?” he asked with mock disapproval.
She wrinkled her nose, resisting the urge to grin. While training with her mother, she had learned the Cat’s Eye could aid her in hand-to-hand combat. The souls of past bearers still resided somewhere deep in the stone, centuries of warriors, their skills at her fingertips if only she had the control. During battle, she could feel the old warriors stir; not as specific people, but as a source of strength, a sixth sense to guide her hand, improving her reflexes.
But now the necklace seemed stifled. It offered no hidden power, no secret help. She was just a normal girl with a few years of practice under her belt, sparring with a deadly man, more than just an assassin—one of the Named. The elite.
Of course he would put her meager experience to shame.
“Again,” Crash said, and returned to his crouch. They repeated their brief battle, except this time he critiqued. He never spoke harshly, but he called out her missteps, her inconsistent footing and lack of balance. His words offered no encouragement. Everything he said was coldly logical, without flattery or pretense. But she knew this side of him. She understood his method of instruction.
“You’re wasting energy,” he pointed out when she over-extended her reach. “You’re small. Get closer before you attack.”
“But you’ll grab me!”
“Then wait for the right moment,” he said. “Everyone lets down their guard, even a Grandmaster.”
She frowned, uncertain. What’s a Grandmaster? Obviously someone far more skilled than she. No time to ask. She came at him again, targeting under his ribs; a swift punch to the abdomen could deal a lot of damage.
He trapped her arms again and pushed her back against the railing of the ship, easily overcoming her strength. She let out a breath of frustration.
“Will you at least let me try?” she ground out, aggravated. How could she practice when he didn’t come down to her level? This seemed less like training and more like flaunting.
She tried to escape his grasp but he pinned her in place. He used his body to trap her in a living cage. She could feel the entire length of him against her. As her heart slowed and her head cleared, she found herself completely preoccupied by his closeness, his height and strength. The memory of their kiss rose in her mind, and she tried not to weaken against him. She glanced up and met his impenetrable gaze.
“What are you thinking?” she asked, hoping he didn’t notice her distraction.
A small, teasing smile touched his face. “That if I were the enemy, you’d be dead right now.”
His words broke the spell. Her lips twisted in defiance. She slipped to one side and ducked halfway under his arm before he grabbed her again. He spun her around effortlessly and locked her against the rail. “Wrong,” he murmured. “Try again.”
Read Sora’s Quest, Book 1 in The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, for free!
100+ 5-star reviews! Find out more at www.catseyechronicles.com
Sora Fallcrest always dreamed of adventure, but as a member of the nobility, she learned the ways of a Lady instead. Now seventeen, she is expected to choose a husband and marry. She plots to run away, but just as she is stepping out the door, she runs into a mysterious man—and is kidnapped.
Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.
But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)
About Author T. L. Shreffler
Ms. Shreffler is an author and journalist living in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy and thrift store shopping. She currently holds a BA in Eloquence (English) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She is the author of two published series, The Cat’s Eye Chronicles (YA fantasy) and The Wolves of Black River. She also puts her creative talents to use as a graphic designer, painter and illustrator.
To find out more, visit her author website at www.tlshreffler.com.
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