As my current WIP sloooowly progresses, I thought I would offer a peek into some of the characters.
You might have met the main character Raze here.
Danzell is a soul-collector, one who swallows multiple souls. In her case, wise ones.
Johzar is a slaver of questionable morals and allegiances.
I hope you enjoy this snippet.
The glowing soul rolled in Danzell’s palm, and she tilted her head. If only she could pry into the sphere, truly know the person bound within, their succulent secrets, forbidden dreams, and ripe desires. The wise of the world weren’t without their idiosyncrasies, the blades of madness that cleaved the mundane to unleash visionary brilliance.
Johzar watched her, a pendant on the Temple’s table between them, the one she’d given him as a gift. The soulstone still shone with the light of the soul within, her gift thus far rejected. Was he a fool or a wise man? She remained undecided, wary.
The Temple was her haven for the moment. She and the slaver sat by the window on the eighth level, too high for the common wanderer, and she kept her cowl up, face in shadow to all but him. “Why are you here, Johzar? Why the interest in imperial affairs? Why now? Why accompany me like my guard dog? What do you know? What do you want?”
He mulled over her questions, the gears grinding in his head as if visible to her eyes. Did he invent excuses or parse through her questions for the ones he’d answer?
Another pause. “Boredom.”
“Aah.” She chuckled and dropped a hand to her lap, fingers tickling the hilt of her knife. “And profit? Are you for sale?”
“Now and then.”
He shook his head. “I’ll stick with curious.”
“Did you or someone from your crew kill my sister?” She wrapped her hand around the hilt of her dagger.
“Do you know who did?”
His gaze pointed to her hip as if the table were transparent. “I may not tell you if I did, but my answer is nae.”
“Did you betray my friends to the soldiers?”
“I saved their lives and mine by turning over the girl. She’s Benjmur’s weakness, and he’ll protect her. I’m sure of it.”
Danzell sighed. “I should have killed them all in the catacombs and added their bones to the vaults. They’ve complicated my plans.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“The voices in my head.” She smiled and rolled the soul.
He slid the pendant toward her. “I gift this back to you. I don’t need to listen to a voice inside my head tell me what I already know.”
“Such arrogance from a slaver, Johzar. Do you claim to possess the wisdom of the ancients?”
“Far from it.” He leaned back and crossed his arms. “But I know myself, and I know what I need to do.”
“Hm.” She draped the pendant around her neck, eyes returning again to the pearl of light in her palm. Her hesitation surprised her, the sensation new. Had she reached her limit? Was she edging toward the brink of madness from which she couldn’t return?
She hadn’t suffered conflicting opinions in her head until recent events required choices for which the outcomes were unclear. When it was all passive speculation, the answers were easy, reflecting a hypothetical black and white world without a broad palette of grays. Taking action was much more nuanced.
She popped the sphere into her mouth and swallowed. Johzar leaned forward, studying her. Her eyes closed, she surrendered to the sensation radiating from her stomach. The heat streamed through her veins, tingling her fingers and toes, and rushed into her head in a dizzying wave. She envisioned a room full of chattering, the newcomer mingling, ideas bouncing off others, temperaments clashing and merging. Similarities and differences flailed about with practiced words. She’d thrown another stone in the pond, created a chaos of ripples. She breathed through it, seeking the inevitable peace as the waters stilled.