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Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by runsforcelery   » Sat May 02, 2015 2:00 am

First Space Lord

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Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:39 am
Location: South Carolina

To be honest, I can't remember whether we'd already posted a brief snippet from this book or not. Anyway, here is the first "official" snippet. Joelle has the final manuscript and will be tweaking bits and pieces of it, but I think this is close enough to finished that even though Baen won't get it for a couple of weeks I can post this.

Hope you guys enjoy it.


Chapter One ]

The very tall, powerfully built man strode down the early morning hallway like an icebreaker through floe ice. Or perhaps, given his expression, like a battleship breaking an enemy line. The brilliant sunlight of Tajvana shone through the broad windows down the eastern side of the hall, gleaming on floors of polished marble and gathering in rich puddles, dense with color, on the runner of priceless carpet stretched down the passage’s center. That same sunlight touched the strands of gold threaded through his dark hair, but it did nothing to lighten the darkness in his gray, shadowed eyes.

He had not slept, though those who didn’t know him well might not have guessed it from his appearance. Those who did know him well had no need to guess; they would have known how any trace of sleep must have eluded him in the hours of the night so recently passed. There was bitterness in those gray eyes, and anger. And there was fear — not for himself, but for someone dearer to him than life itself — and there was despair. The harsh, hard, angry despair of someone unaccustomed to powerlessness. The despair of someone who hated himself for his helplessness.

His name was Zindel chan Calirath, Duke of Ternathia, Grand Duke of Farnalia, Warlord of the West, Protector of the Peace, Wing-Crowned, and, by the gods’ grace, Zindel XXIV, Emperor of Ternathia and Zindel I, Emperor Designate of Sharona. He was the most powerful man in more than forty universes . . . and a father who could not save his daughter from the destruction of her life.

* * * * *

One of the Calirath Palace maids looked up, saw the emperor bearing down upon her, and flattened herself against the wall with a squeak of dismay. Under other circumstances, Zindel would have paused, smiled at the young woman, asked her name and attempted to set her at ease. This morning, he simply strode past her with a curt nod. He doubted that engaging her in conversation in his present mood could have contributed much to her peace of mind, anyway.

He reached the door of his daughter’s apartments, and the pair of grim-faced bodyguards flanking it came to the attention. They saluted sharply, and he nodded in acknowledgment once more, eyes hard with approval this time as he noted the Model 7 shotguns, bayonets fixed, which supplemented their usual Halanch and Welnahr revolvers. The slide-action weapons were ugly and heavy, not at all what a smartly dressed imperial guardsmen would carry, and they offered less range than a rifle, but inside the confines of the Palace’s corridors and passages, they were also far more lethal.

He stepped past them without slowing, but his inexorable progress checked abruptly as he crossed the apartment’s threshold and saw the chair outside the closed bedroom door. It was – like all the chairs in Calirath Palace — beautifully made, comfortably padded and richly upholstered. Yet it was intended for people to sit in, not as a bed, and the middle-aged woman curled up in it under the light blanket could not have spent a restful night. He gazed at her for a moment, trying to remember if he’d ever before seen Lady Merissa Vankhal without cosmetics, her hair awry. She looked older and somehow worn, even in her sleep, and Zindel’s hard, set expression softened as he gazed at her. There were those, he knew – including his daughter, at times — who saw only Lady Merissa’s fussiness, her insistence on protocol, her determination that her charge’s public appearance should always be immaculate, and overlooked her deep, personal attachment to the imperial grand princess she served so devotedly. Neither he nor his wife Varena had ever made that mistake, and her presence here was not the surprise to him that it would have been to all those other people. She hadn’t mentioned her intention, yet he realized now that she shouldn’t have needed to. He should have known anyway.

He paused and gently tucked the blanket about her shoulders, then drew a deep breath, squared his broad shoulders, and knocked softly upon his daughter’s door.

* * * * *

Andrin Calirath, Imperial Crown Princess of Ternathia and Sharona, turned in her chair when the tap sounded.

“Come,” she called, and the door opened.

Her father stood in the doorway for just a moment before he stepped hesitantly into the room. Sunshine warm as melted honey poured across the small marble balcony where Andrin sat, staring across the quiet morning at the ultramarine waters of the Ylani Straits and the mourning banners fluttering from every rooftop and railing of Tajvana. Her face was worn and tired, her unquiet gray eyes swollen from the tears she’d been too proud to let anyone see in yesterday’s tumultuous Conclave meeting. A girl with the vitality of youth, sitting in warm, golden sunlight, shouldn’t have looked like ice on a windowpane, so pale light very nearly shone through her, and yet there was a hard-won serenity in that tired face. One that seemed to shatter his heart within his chest. The heart which had already lost a son and now had failed his daughter, as well.

“Andrin,” he said brokenly, “I’m sorry . . .”

She shook her head. “It isn’t your fault, Papa. There was no other way to secure the accords. I understand that. I don’t blame you, Papa. I blame the spineless cowards in the Conclave for not standing up to Chava’s demands, but never you.”

That simple absolution cut Zindel to the bone. She wasn’t just his eldest daughter and heir; she was the promise of greatness. And she would never reach it, not under one of Chava Busar’s sons. If nothing else, they would kill her in childbed, getting child after child on her. He wanted to wrap his hands around the throat of every rutting royal bastard in Uromathia and squeeze until all that remained was crushed bone and purpled, lifeless flesh. Wanted — more than he’d ever wanted anything in his life — to denounce the accords which made her marriage to a Uromathian prince the price for putting the crown of a united Sharona upon his own head. But duty — that cruel, uncaring goddess of ice and steel which had demanded so much of his ancestors over the millennia — demanded this of him . . . and of her.

He had an entire world to protect, and protecting it meant he couldn’t protect her.

Gods, he couldn’t protect his baby girl . . . .

“Did you bring the list?” she asked softly.

He held it out. It was short. Brutally so. The Emperor of Uromathia had only five unmarried sons. Among them was the crown prince, who was obviously his father’s first choice. She scanned it briefly, then handed it back.

“It isn’t complete, Papa. Please have it amended.”

There was an odd note in her voice, not at all the one he’d expected. It was harder, with an edge of the same steel she’d shown the entire Conclave when she spat her defiance into Chava’s teeth, and he frowned down at her.

“What do you mean, ’Drin?” he asked, trying to identify that oddness in her voice.

She lifted her eyes to meet his, and they were no longer dead, filled with burnt-out grief and proud despair. They were violently alive, those mirrors of his own eyes, and there was no defeat in them. Not in those eyes. The fierce triumph in his daughter’s gaze sent a shockwave through Zindel chan Calirath, and he seized both of her hands, crouched at her feet.

“What is it, Andrin? What have you thought of?”

“It was so obvious we didn’t see it,” she said. Her smile turned almost cruel, and she gave a strange little laugh that chilled Zindel’s blood. “None of us did . . . except Darcel Kinlafia. Maybe we’ve just spent too long concentrating on the threat of Chava and his empire for any Ternathian to have thought beyond it, but not Darcel. He and Alazon came to me with the answer in the middle of the night.”

What answer?”

“I’m required to marry a royal prince ‘of Uromathia.’ That’s the specific language of the treaty, Papa . . . but there are more Uromathians in this world than the people who live inside the borders of the Uromathian Empire. Chava may’ve forgotten that when he signed the treaty, or maybe it was just his arrogance. After all, when he says Uromathia, it means only his Uromathia, because none of those other states matter at all to him. And I realize his negotiators clearly meant ‘of Uromathia’ to mean the empire. But it doesn’t say that . . . and there are quite a number of royal unmarried sons in the kingdoms that govern those Uromathian peoples outside Chava’s borders. Unmarried sons like Howan Fai Goutin.”

Zindel gaped. She was right. Howan Fai Goutin was the crown prince of Eniath, and Eniath’s people were Uromathians. Culturally. Religiously. Racially.

“Triad’s mercy,” he whispered as a crushing mountain lifted from his shoulders, from his chest. He was suddenly able to breathe again. The sunlight shone more brightly and the scent of the sea had a saltier tang in his nostrils.

“I ought to have thought of it myself,” Andrin said quietly. “I should’ve remembered that lovely dance I’d enjoyed with Howan Fai at the pre-coronation ball . . . and the conversation I was having with him and Darcel and Alazon when that awful Glimpse struck. It was so unfair, coming in the middle of a conversation when —” She paused for a moment, then gave her head a little toss. “In the middle of a conversation with someone as sensible as Darcel,” she went on in what her father suspected wasn’t what she’d been about to say, “and a young man I actually liked, one with enough courage to ask a girl a foot and a half taller than he is to dance with him. I should have remembered him, but there was too much crashing down on me. Janaki’s death, the accords, Chava . . . It was all too much for me to think straight, but Darcel remembered for me.”

“Shalana be praised,” he said, brushing her hair back where the breeze had caught a tendril and wafted it across her face. “You found it. You found the answer none of us could see.”

“No, Papa. Darcel found it. Although,” her lips quirked briefly, “I think he was more than a bit embarrassed to be bringing it up with me.”

“Gods, gods,” Zindel said softly, tears brimming in his eyes. “This must be what Janaki Glimpsed, ’Drin!”

“Janaki?” Andrin’s gray eyes darkened again at her dead brother’s name, and Zindel’s hand moved from her hair to cup her cheek. “Janaki had a Glimpse of Darcel and me?”

“Not a very clear one, love. You know” — Zindel’s voice wavered for a moment — “his Talent was never as strong as yours or mine. But he loved you with all his heart, and he knew Darcel Kinlafia would be important to you before he ever sent him to us.”

She looked deep into his eyes, as if searching for something which had been left unsaid, and he gazed back steadily. She knew, he thought. She knew Janaki wasn’t the only one who’d had a Glimpse of her and Kinlafia, and he wondered suddenly if that was what she’d edited out about her conversation with the Voice. But she only looked at him, then nodded with a maturity that was heartbreaking in someone who was barely seventeen years old. A maturity which realized some questions could not be asked, even of a father.

“I understand, Papa,” she said softly, and he felt a fresh pain, because one day, he knew, she truly would understand, and Glimpses seldom showed happy or joyful visions of the future.

“I know you do, dear heart,” he told her, cradling her face between his hands and smiling sadly. “I know you do. But” — he drew a deep, shuddering breath — “thank all the gods there are that Janaki had that Glimpse. And that Darcel Kinlafia is the man he is.”

“In more ways than one,” Andrin agreed in heartfelt tones. “I don’t think he was deliberately pushing me together with Howan Fai, but he and Alazon were the ones who invited him to join us when I decided I needed a rest. And I think it may have been my telling him how close an ally King Junni’s become that made him think of Howan Fai . . . and remind me about him last night, Marnilay bless him! I can’t pretend even to myself that I really know Howan Fai, but at least I know I like him, and when I think about him compared to Chava’s sons . . . .” Her voice wavered with sudden tears. “Oh, gods, Papa, I’ve been so scared.”

He caught her close, held her as though she were made of glass. He held her until she stopped trembling. Then held her until he’d stopped trembling. When he knew he could actually control his own voice, he kissed her brow and sat back on his heels.

“We’ll have an amended list in your hands before sunset, sweetling,” he promised, and her eyes softened at his use of her childhood nickname. Shadows of the fear she’d just admitted lingered in them, yet it was a fear she’d conquered. One which could no longer conquer her, and his heart swelled with pride in her.

“I don’t feel particularly sweet at the moment, Papa,” she told him, and she smiled that smile again. The one any hunting lioness might have envied. “At the moment, I feel positively wicked.”

He let go a genuine laugh. “You’ve earned the right, child. More than earned the right.” He lifted her hands, kissed each one in turn, then said, “Enjoy the sunlight and the breeze, Andrin. I have a few things to see to, this morning.”

He walked briskly back across her bedroom, reaching the doorway in four long strides. He nodded once more as he crossed the sitting room, passed Andrin’s saluting bodyguards, and stepped back into the hallway, but this time it was a very different nod and he had to remind himself to maintain the grimly inexorable stride with which he’d arrived. There was no point pretending Chava wouldn’t have sources within Calirath Palace’s staff, and the last thing he could afford was for one of those sources to see him bounding along with the eager, anticipatory bouyancy which had replaced his morning’s earlier despair.

It took him less than five minutes to reach the chamber where his Privy Council had already gathered, despite the earliness of the hour. There were extra armsmen in the green and gold of the House of Calirath outside the council chamber’s door, as well, and they snapped to attention as he strode past them.

The assembled councilors rose at his entrance. Their faces were uniformly grim, most of them pale and worried. Partly that was the lingering shock of the news of the crown prince’s death and the knowledge that the mysterious Arcanans — the Arcanans who, it seemed, truly did use what could only be described as magic — had conquered no less than four entire universes in barely two weeks. But it was also deeply personal, he realized. The grimness of men and women who understood what marriage to one of Chava Busar’s sons would do to Andrin yet saw no more way to avoid that fate than he had.

He looked at them, recognizing their grief and treasuring their devotion to his house and family, and then — finally — he let loose his own ferocious smile.

“Shamir!” he crowed, thrusting the list into the First Councilor’s astonished hands. “Get this thing properly completed immediately. I want the names of every unmarried Uromathian prince from Eniath, from Hinorea, from every damned royal family of Uromathian culture this ball of rock ever produced. Even the ones who’ve emigrated to the colonies. Andrin’s done it, by Vothan! She’s found the way out. Well don’t just stand there gaping like ninnies! We’ve only got a few weeks to whittle that list down to a candidate who’s actually worthy of her hand!”

Shock at his smile had stunned all of them motionlessness while they listened to him. But now answering smiles—wicked, nasty, delighted smiles of sudden understanding—blossomed on every face.

“And need I remind any of you of the need for absolute secrecy on this subject? If Chava gets wind of what we’re doing, he wouldn’t be above assassinating the best candidates.”

Smiles vanished, replaced by angry determination.

“Your Majesty,” Shamir Taje’s words were chipped ice, “I will personally shoot anyone who so much as breathes a syllable of what you just said.”

Zindel saw exactly the same fire in the eyes of every member of the Privy Council and he nodded in profound satisfaction. If he hadn’t trusted them completely, they wouldn’t have been on his Privy Council. And he knew Security ran periodic probes, from time to time, just to be sure. The families of the personal armsmen who guarded the Ternathian Imperial Family had, for generations, bred some of the oddest, most useful, and occasionally downright terrifying Talents on Sharona. Talents they very carefully never discussed with anyone but themselves and a reigning emperor or empress . . . and which they would be using once again very shortly.

If there were a turncoat on his staff, he’d know it within minutes.

There were times — many of them — when Zindel chan Calirath hated the knowledge that his armsman spied regularly upon honest and honorable men and women who’d sworn solemn oaths of allegiance to him and demonstrated their loyalty so frequently. But when Andrin’s life was at stake, he would take no chances. Not even with men and women he’d trusted for thirty years. Not when all it would take was thirty seconds to put his child’s life back into the crucible.

Shamir Taje caught his eye. The tiniest of nods told him Taje had guessed far more than he’d been told about Imperial Security. Guessed and approved.

Zindel returned that nod decisively.

“All right, people, let’s get to work. We have a royal consort to choose and a war to win. Shamir, I need to speak to you for a moment. As for the rest of you, I suggest we get started immediately. And my friends, I’ll make one further suggestion.”

The rest of the Privy Council paused, waiting.

“Let’s all do our best to continue looking funereal.”

Wicked chuckles greeted that piece of advice.

It was a somber, even tearful, troupe that exited the chamber — thespian talent was a requirement for political leaders who operated at their level — and Zindel devoutly hoped Chava Busar would enjoy the reports of his councillors’ grief which would shortly be coming his way. He knew he could trust them to maintain the charade, and he’d have to have a word with Varena, as well. Of course, the empress had every plausible excuse to remain in seclusion for the next several days, and no doubt she would. But he’d have to see to it that she was in her box in the Conclave when the time came. He could hardly wait to see the expression on Chava’s oily face when Andrin announced her preference next week, and he knew Varena would feel the same. He intended for both of them to enjoy every delicious moment of the bastard’s outrage.

He waited until the chamber door had closed behind the others, then turned back to Taje, and his nostrils flared.

“I told the rest of the Council that Andrin found the answer, Shamir, and that’s at least partially true,” he said. “But it’s not the entire truth, and I think it’s time I shared something with you about Darcel Kinlafia.”

Taje’s eyes narrowed with a sudden intensity, but he simply stood there, waiting, and Zindel smiled without any humor at all.

“I know you’ve realized I’ve been . . . cultivating and supporting Voice Kinlafia’s political future. I notice that you haven’t asked me about my motives, however.”

“I’ve assumed that if you thought it was important for me to know why you were doing it, you would’ve told me, Your Majesty.” Taje shrugged ever so slightly. “That’s not to say I haven’t wondered about it, of course. I’ve never known you to invest as much effort in support of someone’s ‘political future’ — or to be as discreet about doing it —without having a very good reason for doing so.”

“Oh, yes. You could certainly say that,” Zindel said softly. “Sit back down, Shamir.”

The first councilor obeyed, but Zindel didn’t find a chair of his own. Instead, he clasped his hands behind him and began pacing slowly and steadily back and forth across the rectangular chamber’s shorter dimension.

“I’m sure someone as astute as you has to recognize how valuable someone like Kinlafia could be to us,” he said. “The Voice who relayed Shaylar Nargra-Kolmayr’s final transmission. The man who warned all of us that we were at war with another universe . . . and the man whose pain and grief and anger spilled over onto everyone with enough Talent to See that transmission. It’s hard to imagine anyone more intensely identified with this entire crisis by the public — unless it was Shaylar herself! That kind of recognition and stature would provide an instant, incredibly strong political base, and there are enough political operatives to grasp that. Janaki” — the emperor’s voice wavered, but he went on firmly — “certainly grasped it, just as he understood someone would try to make use of Kinlafia, whatever Kinlafia himself wanted. And, as Janaki pointed out, it would be far wiser to attach Kinlafia to our interests than to find ourselves in a position in which someone tried to use him against us.”

He paused, looking down at the first councilor, and Taje nodded.

“I hadn’t realized Prince Janaki had directly suggested supporting the Voice, but his potential to assist us — or someone else — was certainly obvious. Yet I have to admit I haven’t quite been able to convince myself that’s the only reason you’ve been quietly opening so many doors for the young man.” He smiled faintly. “Nor do I think young Kinlafia truly realizes just how many doors you have been opening, Your Majesty.”

“I think he might surprise you,” Zindel said dryly. “He’s surprised me more than once, and it would be a mistake to underestimate him. He’d never considered a career in politics before those godsdamned Arcanans blew his life apart with the rest of his survey crew, but there’s nothing at all wrong with that man’s brain. And whether he realizes it or not, he has excellent political instincts.” The emperor resumed his pacing. “In fact, those instincts of his are good enough to have made launching and supporting his political career worthwhile all by themselves.”

“Obviously, however, Your Majesty, they aren’t ‘by themselves,’ are they?”

“No. No, they aren’t.”

Zindel inhaled again, deeply, a man obviously marshaling his thoughts.

“Janaki had a Glimpse, Shamir,” he said finally. “One that concerned Kinlafia . . . and Andrin.”

It was Taje’s turn to inhale this time, not so much in surprise as at the confirmation of something he’d suspected — even feared — from the beginning. The hallmark Talent, mightiest weapon, and greatest curse of the House of Calirath, were the Glimpses which came to its members. Visions of the future, fragmentary bits and pieces of things to come. Those Glimpses had allowed Calirath emperors and empresses to change the course of history more than once throughout the centuries of the Empire of Ternathia . . . and more than one of those emperors and empresses had paid the price Janaki chan Calirath had paid when he went knowingly to his death in the defense of Fort Salby.

They were seldom kind and gentle, the Calirath Glimpses.

“Janaki’s Talent wasn’t strong enough for him to Glimpse exactly why Kinlafia was going to be important to Andrin,” Zindel continued. “But mine was.” He stopped pacing again, looking directly into Taje’s eyes. “He’s going to be there for her, Shamir. Whatever happens — to me, to you, to the entire godsdamned multiverse — Darcel Kinlafia will be there for my daughter. Just as he was there for her last night when he brought her the answer to the trap that bastard Chava thought he had her in.”

The emperor spoke softly, yet his voice was hard with certitude and the Calirath ghosts shadowed his eyes as he gazed down at the first councilor.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me,” he continued quietly. “Short of a Death Glimpse — which I haven’t had yet, thank the gods! — no one knows that about himself. But I know ’Drin will need him — need him badly — far sooner than I could wish. And I also know his Voice Talent is so strong that he shared at least a part of my Glimpse. He knows she’ll need him, too, and he also knows I know how much he’ll love my daughter. How much he already loves her, for that matter.” Zindel’s smile was faint and crooked but genuine. “He’s the one who came up with the brainstorm about other Uromathian princes, but did he come and tell me about it? Hells no, he didn’t! And that’s because he isn’t really a politician — yet, at least. He thought of it because he cares for Andrin, and that’s why he went and told her about it.”

“I see, Your Majesty,” Taje said, and his own eyes were dark. Zindel chan Calirath was only in his forties, and his was a long-lived family. Both of his parents had lived past ninety, and Caliraths seldom died — of natural causes, at least — much younger than that. Zindel might not have Glimpsed his own death, but his concern for Andrin sent an icicle down the first councilor’s spine. The emperor loved all of his children fiercely, he would die to protect any of them, yet there was something in his eyes, in his voice, that whispered a fear that he wouldn’t be there to protect Andrin.

“I imagine you do see,” Zindel said, and reached to lay one hand on Taje’s shoulder, his expression almost compassionate. He smiled down at the councilor who was also his closest, most intimate friend, then gave his head a toss that pretended to shake off the ghost of futures Glimpsed.

“I imagine you do, and since you do, I’m sure you also understand why it’s important to keep the Voice alive. Which is why we’re not going to breathe a word to anyone — not even the rest of the Privy Council — about who actually found the loophole in the accords. We’re not pasting any targets on his back for Chava. In fact, the longer we can keep anyone from realizing just how good those ‘political instincts’ of his are — or, especially, how devoted to Andrin he’s already become — the better. I want him seated in the House of Talents in the new Parliament before any of our adversaries realize he could pose an actual threat to their plans and strategies.”

“And that’s why you’ve been so careful about not supporting him overtly.” Taje nodded. His voice was a bit husky with the implications of what Zindel had already told him, and the emperor pretended not to notice as he cleared his throat.

“I believe we have enough Conclave allies to provide the necessary support indirectly and discreetly, Your Majesty,” Taje continued after a moment, and managed a faint smile. “Should I assume you’d like me to see to that for you?”

“I see you’re as perceptive as ever, Shamir.” Zindel gave him a gentle shake and nodded. “That’s exactly what I want you to do. And I want you to be your usual, deft, unobtrusive self when you do it, too.”

“I have just the delegates in mind, Your Majesty,” Taje assured him.


Zindel smiled fiercely, but then his expression sobered.

“Good,” he repeated more quietly. “But Chava will be apoplectic if he gets even a hint about what we’re up to. I want security here in the Palace tripled, and I want someone — one of our own undercover armsmen — keeping an eye on Kinlafia. We can cover some additional security for him because of his relationship with Alazon. Gods know there’s plenty of reason to worry about my Privy Voice’s security! But I want him covered when he’s not with her, too.”

“That might be a bit more difficult, Your Majesty. Ah, have you discussed this desire of yours directly with him?”

“No, I haven’t. And I’d prefer not to, frankly. One of the more endearing things about him is that he doesn’t see himself as the sort of political mover and shaker he has the potential to become. And partly because of that — but mostly because he’s so naturally open and honest — he’s not very good at dissembling.” The emperor’s lips quirked. “He’ll have to get over that, of course, but I don’t think we have time for him to learn the art of misdirection and deception just now. I’m afraid that if he knows we’ve assigned someone to protect him he won’t be able to conceal that knowledge, and I don’t want anyone who might wish him ill to realize we’ve done it.”

“Your Majesty, he’s a Voice.” Taje shook his head. “I know he takes the Voice’s Code seriously, but if he’s in regular contact with someone assigned to protect him, there’s bound to be at least some leakage across his Talent.”

“I was thinking about Kelahm chan Helikos,” Zindel said, and Taje cocked his head, lips pursed. He stayed that way for a second or two, and then nodded.

“I think that might be an excellent notion, Your Majesty. Of course, Brithum will have a fit when you recall him.”

Brithum Dulan, the Ternathian Empire’s Councilor for Internal Affairs, was responsible for the empire’s counterintelligence services, and he would not be happy to give up Company-Captain Kelahm chan Helikos.

“Brithum will just have to get over it.” Zindel chuckled grimly. “Chan Helikos was only on loan to him from the beginning, after all.”

“As you say, Your Majesty. But, ah, would it be too much for me to ask you to break the news to him?”

Chapter Two

It was hot in Fort Salby.

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by Randallw   » Sat May 02, 2015 3:52 am


Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:11 am

The beginning was already posted, but this is much more. It verifies what I, and I expect a lot of people, were guessing.
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by Spacekiwi   » Sat May 02, 2015 5:07 am


Posts: 2634
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:08 am
Location: New Zealand

Wohoo! :D Thank you Joelle and Thank you David. Looking forward to getting my hands on the finished version. :)

its not paranoia if its justified... :D
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by John Prigent   » Sat May 02, 2015 5:51 am

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Captain of the List

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Thank you - I've been looking forward to reading this book!
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by Ramhawkfan   » Sat May 02, 2015 9:47 am

Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

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Alright!! Been waiting for this book for a long time. Thanks so much for the snippet. Now I'm going to have to reread the first two again. What a shame. :D
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by Eagleeye   » Sat May 02, 2015 12:44 pm

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Finally! So there is hope we see the book around one year from now, isn't it? Or maybe sooner? E-Arc as an X-mas present would be really, really nice ...
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Sat May 02, 2015 1:14 pm

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Notes numbered for reference.

1 IfIRC, this line was the end of what you had given us.

4 This would be the first that is new.

2 I am surprised that a husband would be able to control
his wife this way, when it is the wife who is sovereign.

But she would not be sovereign at the time of marriage.

Still, she would be the Heir, and her husband would not be.


runsforcelery wrote:To be honest, I can't remember whether we'd already posted a brief snippet from this book or not. Anyway, here is the first "official" snippet. Joelle has the final manuscript and will be tweaking bits and pieces of it, but I think this is close enough to finished that even though Baen won't get it for a couple of weeks I can post this.

Hope you guys enjoy it.


Chapter One ]
* * * * *
[snip - htm]
2 not under one of Chava Busar’s sons. If nothing else, they would kill her in childbed, getting child after child on her.

[snip - htm]
“Did you bring the list?” she asked softly.

He held it out. It was short. Brutally so. The Emperor of Uromathia had only five unmarried sons. Among them was the crown prince, who was obviously his father’s first choice. She scanned it briefly, then handed it back.

1 - “It isn’t complete, Papa. Please have it amended.”

4 There was an odd note in her voice, not at all the one he’d expected.

[snip to eot - htm]
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by brnicholas   » Sat May 02, 2015 6:16 pm

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 254
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:40 pm

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I have been waiting a long time for this!

I wonder how they are going to keep Chava from repudiating the treaty when he hears who Andrin is going to marry? I suspect his army would back him if he tried and them refusing to do so is the only thing that would stop him. It will be fun to see what happens next.

Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by tonyz   » Sat May 02, 2015 8:50 pm

Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 143
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:42 pm
Location: Riverside, CA

Legally, Andrin is in the right, and any court would rule against Chandra if he tries to argue she's wrong. He drafted the amendment, so ambiguities get ruled against him.

But will this manage the diplomatic necessity of binding Sharona together? Will enough Uromathians buy it as an adequate marriage link to the Imperial Crown?
Re: Road to Hell, Official Snippet #1
Post by BarryKirk   » Sat May 02, 2015 9:01 pm

Captain of the List

Posts: 403
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:27 pm
Location: York, PA

Thank you RFC... Three series to look for snippets now... woohoo

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