Fiery Edge of Steep
Noon Onyx #2
by Jill Archer
Noon Onyx #2
by Jill Archer
Lucifer and his army triumphed at Armageddon, leaving humans and demons living in uncertain peace based on sacrifice and strict laws. It is up to those with mixed demon and human blood, the Host, to prevent society from falling into anarchy.
Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.
When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task which will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…
Jill Archer is the author of Dark Light of Day, the first book in the Noon Onyx series. Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jill now lives in rural Maryland with her two children and her husband, who is a recreational pilot. She blogs about books, movies, interesting people, and various weekend adventures.
May 6- May 11 each day a new excerpt from Chapter One of Fiery Edge of Steal is being revealed. Stop by each site to read a new sneak peak and enter the giveaway.
Chapter 1 Part 4
To the east of the square, I heard scraping and clanking. The crowd rippled and swelled back as if a giant had stepped into its edge. “But drakons are a myth,” I said quickly, turning toward the sounds. They were mythological creatures, winged demons supposedly born to human mothers.
“As much of a myth as a female member of the Host with waning magic,” Sasha snorted. I blocked him out. I was trying to block it all out.
I don’t want to be here, I thought. I can’t do this. I won’t do this.
I was the girl who went out of her way not to step on ants. I put house spiders in cups and took them out to the curb rather than squashing them under my boot heel. And I was expected to help kill someone I’d never met just because someone else said they deserved to die? Even if I had paid more attention in class, someone else’s case notes wouldn’t have been enough to convince me to end another’s life. Frankly, I didn’t know if I was capable of executing a demon in cold blood. But what I did know was that if I was going to be asked to take on the moral responsibility of ending another’s life I was damn well going to be deciding for myself whether they deserved it or not and I wasn’t going to be participating in an execution purposefully designed to be cruel.
At the edge of the crowd, my father was ascending the wooden steps of a hastily erected platform. Waldron Seknecus, St. Lucifer’s dean of demon affairs, and Quintus Rochester, one of our professors, stood near the platform with several upper-year Maegesters-in-Training. My father walked to the center of the platform and held his hands up. The crowd immediately fell silent. He gestured to his left and a young man was led up the stairs.
Rail thin and filthy, the man stared defiantly out at the crowd. But when a woman’s cry pierced the silence, his defiant look turned to one of terror. He hadn’t known she would be here, I thought. I could feel it in his signature. The anguish, the anger, the remorse. Suddenly I heard a thump and the crowd shifted again in response to something happening. Jezebeth strained against his captors, twisting his body from side to side, trying to break free. But more than mere muscles held him in place.
Had his human lover thrown herself against the base of the platform?
Was that the thump I’d heard? The thought of her desperation suddenly made me sick. Why was she being forced to watch?
The crowd swelled. I felt the waning magic around me intensify. Beside me, Ari’s waning magic flared and I suddenly felt like I’d emerged from a dark house into blinding sun. Instinctively, I shielded myself from him. He glanced down at me with a small, stiff smile. In the midmorning sunlight, his eyes were the color of caramel.
“Ari . . .”
I didn’t have to finish my thought. Waning magic users couldn’t read minds, but some of us—the more powerful ones—could feel each other’s feelings. My redlining signature told Ari everything he needed to know. I was ready to bolt.
“Don’t. Everyone will see you leave,” he said in a low voice, leaning close to my ear. “You’re standing right next to me so no one will know if you don’t participate. My magic is strong enough for both of us.” He stared at me, waiting for me to respond. I shook my head and clenched my fists, keeping my head down. I didn’t want Ari throwing my stones for me. Or seeing me cry when I did so. Up front, the drakon’s lover continued her pitiful sobbing as she begged my father to set him free.
“Unveil him,” my father commanded, motioning toward Jezebeth. The Archangels on the platform cast a spell and suddenly Jezebeth—the real Jezebeth—was before us.