I’m very excited to reveal the new cover for book 9 in the Extreme Medical Services series. My awesome cover designer, Christian Bentulan from CoversByChristian.com took my short description and, as usual, created this awesome look for The Paramedic’s Sorceress. If you haven’t caught up with the rest of the books in this series, click on the series link above to check out the other books.
I’m hard at work and about halfway through the first draft of this book. My goal is to release it to you all later this spring. I hope all goes according to plan. So many things have to fall in line for this to work out, including an opening in my editor’s schedule, proofreaders, and my beta reader team to pick up on any inconsistencies and story holes.
Keep reading if you’d like a sneak peek at the beginning of this book. Please forgive any typos. This is a first draft look. I hope you enjoy it.
Prologue from the unreleased draft of The Paramedic’s Sorceress (this is a writer’s draft, warts, typos, and all)
Joanna held up her hand fist closed just above her head. She’d seen movement up ahead. She crouched to one knee along the overgrown path that had once been a concrete sidewalk in a nice residential neighborhood. It always amazed her how fast nature had moved in to take over once the people were gone. Twenty-plus years gave the trees and undergrowth plenty of time to move in.
Behind her, the rest of her ten-member hunter squad had also stopped, each assuming a position to watch their own chosen approach vectors. Nothing would sneak up on this hand-picked team. Knowing her back was safe, she scanned the path and underbrush to either side, watching carefully for any sign of the hint of movement she’d seen seconds before.
She tensed for a second as a figure stepped out onto the path about fifteen yards ahead. Joanna relaxed. It was Flynn. The fairy scout had been watching for trouble. The fact she was here before they’d reached their target wasn’t a good sign.
“What did you see?”
“They’ve definitely got the spell circle staked out. I spotted at least fifteen various demonlings on this side of the location. I’m sure there were others on the opposite site I couldn’t see.”
Joanna pressed her lips together in a grim line. She’d hoped this circle might have gone forgotten by the Eldara and their underworld minions. That now turned out to be wishful thinking.
“With that many demonlings, there has to be an Eldara around somewhere.”
Flynn nodded. She knew their enemies as well as Joanna did. She was a few years older than her leader and had fought in this gods-forsaken war as long as she had.
Joanna looked over her shoulder at the rest of the team. If Flynn had spotted fifteen demons and said there were others, they were there. Add in an Eldara warrior to control them and the team would be hard-pressed to win out in a standup fight.
Behind her, Joanna second, a shifter named Marian, moved closer. Joanna didn’t bother to repeat what Flynn had told her. The werewolf’s enhanced hearing would have picked up the entire conversation.
Marian leaned in. “You’re not thinking of turning around and trying somewhere else, are you? This mission is time-sensitive. You said it yourself.”
Joanna thought about the question for a moment, then shook her head. “This is too important. Besides we have no guarantee any other spell circle would be less guarded. ”
Flynn glanced down the path. “It’s possible we can catch the ones closest to us by surprise. If we can take out enough of them on this side, it’ll even at the fight a little bit.” She brought around her crossbow patted the stock.
Joanna smiled. The woman wasn’t just an amazing scout and an excellent medic, she was also a deadly shot with that crossbow. The rest of her team was equally equally as adept with their own weapons. She’d picked the group with care when they left on this mission.
“Gather everybody around, Marian. Let’s come up with a plan of attack. Flynn’s right. If we can take out enough of them, it might just even up the odds.”
The werewolf nodded and moved back down the path, whispering to each of the team. Soon all of them were clustered around Johanna. A few on each side turned to face outward, covering their position and watching for trouble.
Joanna crouched down. “This isn’t going to be easy. Flynn thinks there are probably 20 to 30 demonlings and an Eldara up ahead. They’re guarding the remnants of the home in which the spell circle is situated. If I’m going to accomplish my mission, I have to get to that circle. Once I reach the center, you can break off the attack and do your best to escape. Until then, we have to keep fighting. Does everyone understand?”
She scanned the grim faces around her in the darkness. The silver hunter charm around her neck gave her the ability to see clearly even in the dark of the moonless night. Each team member gave a short nod or met her eyes with a slight smile. They were all with her.
“Alright, we move out now. Spread out into a skirmish line. Flynn will take point.” Joanna turned to the scout. “Take out the closest sentries. We’ll be right behind you if anyone raises the alarm.”
The fairy smiled, the grin showing her teeth. She cradled the crossbow in front of her and disappeared down the path without a sound. The rest of the team spread out on either side of Johanna and moved forward through the remnants of homes burned down long ago. All that was left were the open foundations and a few tattered walls still standing. The thick cover would help them get closer to the target. Hopefully, it would be close enough to kill the demonlings before they new the hunter team was on them.
A hundred yards down the path, Joanna encountered the first body. The demonling lay across the narrow track, the stubby feathered end of a crossbow bolt jutting out from between its vacant eyes. The creature wore shreds of clothing that might have been for modesty, or were just to display random colorful trophies from its victims. The rags did little to cover the scaly green hide or the clawed hands and feet. It was harmless now, though.
She continued forward. The thrum of a bowstring ahead stopped her. She crouched and scanned the area, trying to peer through the vegetation that had once been someone’s front yard. Joanna mined the recesses of her memory and tried to piece together where she was in the old neighborhood. She hadn’t been here for twenty years. It couldn’t be that much farther to the burned out shell of the Victorian house that had once been the home to the coven that had trained her in the use of magic so long ago. The witches were now long dead, but their sacred and blessed spell circle should still be intact.
Pushing aside memories she hadn’t thought about for a long time, Joanna crouched and moved forward. She’d heard no shouts of alarm so it was still clear. Flynn was good with that bow. By the time any victim heard the thrum of the bowstring, the speeding bolt would’ve already found them and they’d be dead.
Joanna found the next demonling lying side-by-side with a third. The first one had a crossbow bolt pinned between its shoulder blades. The second had its throat cut open from ear to ear. She smiled. The scout was just as deadly with that long, fairy knife she carried.
Taking a few steps, she was just getting hopeful they might make it all the way to the circle without raising an alarm when a shout to her right drew a chorus of demon howls all around. It was followed by a screeching snarl to the left as one of the hunter squad squared off against one of the demons guarding the site.
Knowing the need for secrecy was all done now, Joanna stood, gathering her magical strength from nature all around her as she’s been taught so long ago. She filled herself with power, not caring that it would alert any magical creature for a quarter mile in every direction. With her left hand, she drew her grandmother’s katana from over her shoulder. Her right, she kept ready to cast a spell at any incoming attacker.
Ready for anything, she sprinted forward. It was all about speed now as more snarls and shouts sounded ahead. The demonlings knew they were under attack. Joanna kept her eyes open. She knew the Eldara would be around somewhere and they’d almost surely choose her as their target. She was the most dangerous of their team. Joanna had to make sure she spotted them before they found her.
She’d almost made it to the site of the old home and the spell circle inside when shouts from ahead drew her attention. She cursed under her breath. It wasn’t one of the Eldara. It was two. That meant there were probably even more demonlings nearby than her team could hope to handle. Joanna launched a bolt of molten plasma directly at the pair of former angels without a second thought. She had to keep them busy so they couldn’t exert control over their underlings. It was the only way any of her team were going to escape.
She charged forward, slinging spell after spell at the two Eldara. They had now separated to try and come at her from two different directions. Maybe they didn’t realize she was just trying to get to the spell circle and didn’t care about whether they attacked her or not. Anything that delayed their attack on her was a win. Once she was at the center of the circle she could release the prepared time travel spell she’d worked on for months. It would only take an instant to activate it. They’d never catch her once it went off and sent her into the past.
A whirr of wings from above her gave Joanna just enough warning to dodge the swipe from the glowing silver blade that would have decapitated her. Rolling across the ground, she came back to her feet and blocked the next blow with her own blessed blade.
The ring of metal on metal echoed through the night as the two mighty swords med. Sparks flew from the magical blades as they crashed together.
Joanna pointed a finger and blinding darts of lightning launched from her fingertip at the winged woman fighting her. At this range she couldn’t miss.
Electrical energy surged into the Eldara’s chest. With a look of shock, the formerly immortal creature collapsed, dropping the glowing silver blade to the ground as she did. The silvery glow faded, along with the life of the one who’d wielded it.
Joanna didn’t have time to gloat over killing one of the foul creatures who done their best to destroy the world these last twenty-odd years. Instead, she turned to continue towards her main objective while she searched for the other Eldara. Shouts and snarls raged all around her in the darkness as her team fought their way through the ever growing numbers of demonlings waiting for them.
She kept her eyes open as she moved. A flash of light to her left jerked her gaze that way. She winced as she saw the winged enemy cut down one of her team members. They’d never stood a chance against one of the angels. The people with her were good, but few of them could stand up to one of the Eldara alone.
Ripping her gaze away from her friend, she focused on getting through the last bit of brush and into the remnants of the living room with the inlaid marble floor and its spell circle.
She made it to the center and reached up to clutch at the silver charm around her neck, releasing the stored spell. The Eldara from outside had spotted her and charged in at her, wings propelling angel over the crumbled wall. The male laughed as he neared, his glowing sword outstretched towards her chest.
Just before the blade struck her, the spell went off and she tumbled backward into the temporal vortex. Her visceral scream of success echoed in her ears alone as she tumbled back to a simpler time.
Joanna sat up, wiping the sweat from her eyes, gasping for breath. It was just a dream. She’d made it, though the dreams continued even weeks later, she was here and now she could make it all right again. Swinging her legs over the side of the stained flophouse mattress, she got up and crossed the tiny motel room to the sink with its dripping faucet. Cupping her hands, she splashed fresh, cool water on her face.
These people had no idea how good they had it. Most people in her time hadn’t had real running water from a tap in decades. It hadn’t taken long for the trappings of civilization to fail once the war started. That was when the dying started.
Shaking her head, Joanna looked up into the mirror, her one good eye staring back at her from a face she hardly recognized. She avoided her reflection back home. The scars and leather eyepatch reminded her of everything she’d lost over the years. But, that was why she was here in the past. She had to find out what had happened when her father had stopped the four-horsemen and the Eldara from starting their war to end the world. She had a good idea now If she could make that right, then her future would never happen and maybe everyone she cared about would still be alive.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into the new book, The Paramedic’s Sorceress. Catch up on the rest of the Extreme Medical Services series here.