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Silver & Steam, An Excerpt!

What a mess our heroine Eleanor Folley finds herself in. Wherever shall book two take her? To places she never quite imagined. Here’s a taste for you, Dear Reader. Rings of Anubis: Silver & Steam approaches and with it, Anubis!250_bigfinal_SS_Anubis2_ETobler_CovArt

It was late, but Eleanor was not sleeping. She couldn’t. She rarely had trouble sleeping in strange places, for such had been her childhood, traveling to here and there and back again. She knew that wasn’t the problem. Every time she climbed into the beautiful bed, its carved headboard sporting a riot of carved grapes and vines, she grew uneasy. While the sheets were soft as clouds, she would have sworn she felt sand on them. She felt twelve all over again, camping in the desert with her parents and trying to shake the grit from her bedroll before sleep. This left her pacing over the pale green carpets with their cabbage roses, staring at her grandfather’s journal which lay open across the foot of the bed.

At the tapping on the balcony door, Eleanor paused in mid-step. The room was on the second floor of the house and she thought it unlikely anyone—including Christian—had scaled the building to visit her. And Mallory would surely use the door. He had told her this room had been his own as a boy. Eleanor stayed exactly where she was, listening again over the hammer of her heartbeat. The tap came again.

Beyond the square panes of glass, the night sky was broken only by gleaming stars.  There was no shadow on the balcony, which emboldened her to move again, toward the doors she unlocked and opened.

She expected autumn’s cooling air,  but a hot wind greeted her, pushing the doors from her hands and lifting her hair from her shoulders. Her lips became dry and cracked and she felt as if she hadn’t had a sip of water in days. It was not a French vineyard she looked out on, but, instead, a temple room. Before her stretched a rectangular pool, its inky surface reflecting the light of a half dozen torches. In the distance, birds called to one another in the night air, and Eleanor could feel the powerful stroke of their wings as they took flight. The air they stirred poured through the temple and carried with it the stench of the underworld, black earth and sweet, rotting flesh. She knew everything here, and nothing; everything had a weight, everything had a pulse.

Her hands shook, but still she stepped forward, her foot coming down on warm stone rather than the cool balcony. Egypt’s heat radiated through her, forcing the chill into retreat. Her robe whispered over the floor behind her.

At the end of the pool, she found herself making an offering to the dark god she knew lingered there. Four rings, heavier than anything she had ever held, rested in her bloodied hand and though she didn’t think it possible, she lifted them for his acceptance. Blood curled around her wrist and forearm in a crimson bracelet.

She could not look the god in the eye. Was she dreaming? She thought back to the room and her restless pacing, and decided she was perfectly awake. Awake and in France and Egypt in the same instant, offering the rings to Anubis. But I don’t have the fourth ring, so this is a dream…isn’t it?

“Daughter,” Anubis said.

Eleanor looked at him, compelled by that word. Anubis was taller than the entire world, gold gilding every ebony edge of his body, and repugnance rolled over her. She felt helpless in his glassy eyes, a blue so dark it looked black at first glance. She blinked and saw an endless horizon. It stretched from one end of the world to the next.

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