A Teaser & Character Art from A Rule of Shadows
Rule of Shadows is the third book in the Shadows & Starlight series. It's a YA mashup with dystopian, royalty, magic, and a splash of sci-fi. Perfect for fans of Cinder and Hunger Games. Check out the teaser and character art below!
👑💙 A Teaser from Rule of Shadows 💙👑
Ana stood in the council chambers, a silver dagger in her hand. She held the blade aloft and dragged it across her palm. Blood dripped on the carpet.
She stepped forward, so that each member of the council could see the cut for themselves. When she was satisfied they had done so, she returned to the center of the room and concentrated, just as Magdalena had taught her. In moments, the cut healed, and fresh skin appeared.
“I am Anabella Halt, and I am the rightful heir to the Halt crown. I’ve come to claim my council seat,” she said with as much confidence as she could muster.
Silence fell in the council chambers, so much so that Ana could hear her own unsteady breathing. She hoped no one else could hear.
She studied the council members, waiting for someone to speak. Lady Jacobs maintained a veiled expression of cool neutrality. A vein in Sir Arkwright’s head pulsed. Sir Noble seemed frozen in surprise or perhaps his hologram feed had actually cut out.
General Rockwell was the first to speak. “How can we deny her claim? She has presented DNA evidence and now the gift, for the second time.” He gave her a knowing glance at the word second as if to remind her that he still kept one of her secrets.
General Rockwell knew that her first miraculous healing had been faked. He even had video evidence. He wanted her to know that even if her engagement to Adam was over, he still held power over her.
Still, one acceptance of six was a start. She inclined her head. “Thank you, General Rockwell.”
“I believe none of it!” shouted a ferocious Arkwright. “I won’t allow some interloper to sit on this council.” In one swift motion, he pulled the long dagger from the sheath on his hip.
She took a small step backward, her emerald silk gown trailing the floor, and Samuel made a tentative move forward from the shadows.
Unexpectedly, Arkwright turned on General Rockwell. “Don’t think I don’t see this for what it is. A Rockwell power grab. After all, she’s engaged to your son.”
Ana winced. She supposed word had not yet reached the rest of the council about her canceled engagement.
General Rockwell didn’t correct him. Instead, his face was a mask of stone. “Be careful, Arkwright. It’s been over twenty years since a man was last slain in these chambers, but I’m not afraid to do it again.”
Arkwright’s hand trembled as he lowered the blade.
Sir DuBois, who seemed to be shaking himself out of a trance, spluttered, “But she’s not even of age.”
Lady Fleur grasped onto this immediately. “An excellent point. While her claim may be valid, only adults can serve on the council. She’s still a student.” She smiled sweetly. “If she is to join us, we are like family. Would we see our youngest cousin without a proper education?”
Ana almost snorted. Arkwright had threatened to stab Rockwell. Rockwell had clearly murdered a former council member. This was not a family she wanted to join.
To her surprise, Noble stood up and inclined his head. Then, he straightened and held her gaze for a long moment. “Welcome, Anabella Halt. The House of Noble accepts your claim.”
That was two acceptances. Ana pulled herself together and bobbed a curtsy. “Thank you, Sir Noble.”
Several others turned to glare at Noble.
Lady Jacobs rose. “I agree with Sir Noble. The bylaws are clear. She is a member of the Halt bloodline, and she has made a formal claim. We must accept it or risk the shattering of the document which has held this council together for millennia.”
Ana couldn’t believe her luck. Three acceptances. That was half the council. She only needed one more.
“That document,” DuBois said, “dictates those who make up the council be adults. All of our laws indicate that age is eighteen.”
Lady Jacobs placed a demure hand on her lips as if considering. “I suppose she could name a regent to act in her stead.”
The chamber fell into an uproar.
“No living relatives.”
“The bloodline has ended.”
“Not of age!” roared Sir Arkwright, still fixated on the previous point of contention.
Ana, not wanting to lose momentum, interrupted, “I name Samuel Jacobs as Acting Regent for the Halt family. He can serve until I turn eighteen.”
It had been the wrong thing to say. The uproar reached cacophony. Vines shot forward from Lady Fleur, angrily reaching their tentacles toward Samuel. Arkwright looked ready to draw his dagger once more. And General Rockwell, her tentative ally mere moments ago, pounded an angry fist on the table, causing it to quake. He locked eyes with her, and his gaze was murderous.
Perhaps, she should have remained silent. She glanced back at Samuel, knowing she might need backup if things escalated any further. But he, too, appeared shocked.
Only one person seemed thoroughly at ease, Lady Jacobs.
Of course. Lady Jacobs had been pulling the strings for over a year now. Just weeks ago, she had given Ana a fatal dose of the drug Elysium. Ana had emerged triumphant, healing herself for the first time using her family’s gift. That had been Lady Jacob’s intention all along. Now, Lady Jacobs wanted a favor, one she had yet to name.
Lady Fleur retracted her vines and settled her face into a masked expression. “Let us continue this conversation another day. The Winter Ball guests are waiting, and I think many of us would like to discuss this development with our trusted family members and legal teams.”
“Indeed, and perhaps, Ana will want to give her choice in regent a bit more thought before it is finalized,” DuBois said pointedly.
Ana had no intention of changing her mind, but she did feel unsettled, knowing she had played into Lady Jacob’s hand and rattled General Rockwell. Still, she knew she could trust Samuel. He was the right choice.
General Rockwell stood wordlessly. The rest of the council followed suit. One by one, they filed out, leaving Ana and Samuel alone in the room.