The Emperor\’s Mistress
The sorceress CHARIS and wizard KYROS,embittered ex-lovers, nearly shattered the Setor Empire a thousand years ago. Among other atrocities, Charis murdered Kyros\’s wife and unborn child. With the help of a goddess-forged sword, humans finally entombed Charis within a glacier. But she did not die.
Now Charis walks free. Disguised as a young woman named ILLISANDRA, she dispenses potions and philters to keep the emperor enthralled while she unknowingly nudges the empire toward a catastrophic mage war. Kyros has become TEVERUS, an aged mage who retains the loyalty of the emperor\’s brother. Neither recognizes the other as their ancient archenemy.
Teverus knows the goddess-forged sword will break Illisandra’s hold over the emperor. He dispatches the thief, STEALTH, and his apprentice, Prince DERRIUS HEXTOR, to retrieve it from an assassins\’ mountain bastion. Derrius is the first Hextor in generations to possess magic, but his spells regularly misfire, producing self-doubt he conceals with hubris. Stealth hates highborn; one murdered her mother, and Derrius’s demeanor reminds her of that man.
Though Illisandra doesn\’t know Derrius seeks her overthrow, she targets him for assassination to spark civil war. Conflict will sap the strength of those who would resist when she assumes the throne and exacts long overdue payback. When Kyros betrayed Charis, he fled to the elves of Luxamere where he engineered a military treaty between them and the Setor Empire that played a part in her downfall. She can’t punish her dead ex-lover, but she can order the legions to devastate Luxamere.
However, her spy master twice fails to kill Derrius. Though initially Stealth and Derrius can barely stomach each other, the grueling journey and near escapes bring them closer, and eventually they fall in love.
Illisandra devises a final solution. Small dragons blitz Derrius and his companions. Buttressed by his love for Stealth, Derrius blasts several from the sky, but too many remain. The battle goes badly. The companions survive, but a friend has been poisoned by dragon blood and will die without an antidote. Derrius and Stealth refuse to concede defeat. After all, they foiled a sorceress. With Teverus’s aid they will save their friend. Meanwhile, Illisandra vows to plot a new course to exact her vengeance.
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Mike Staton has done a little bit of everything in his 62 years of life in this corner of the universe. He has been a newspaper journalist and a technical writer/instructional developer. He was even a librarian one summer between his sophomore and junior years of college. Now the fellow has taken early retirement and left coastal North Carolina for the desert climate and Las Vegas; to be precise, Henderson, Nevada.
Mike’s love of writing and a passion for history and current events drew him to journalism. In the fall of 1970, he packed up the family car and headed off the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he learned to write a decent news story and cover Rotary meetings as an intern for the Athens Messenger.
The first 15 years of his working life were spent at two daily newspapers, the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in Lancaster, Ohio, from 1974 to 1981 and at the Leesburg Commercial from 1981 to 1989. His time at the Eagle-Gazette provided an inkling that he just might be good as a reporter. He was a member of the staff that won a first place AP award for coverage of the conversion of a juvenile prison facility into a medium security adult prison. At the Commercial he continued to rack up awards, winning two individual N.Y. Times Chairman Awards for in-depth news series and one newsroom Chairman’s Award for a staff report on Medicine in Crisis. In 1989, he left the profession for 21 years, but the Great Recession forced him to return to it. He became a sports and news reporter at weekly newspapers in Duplin and Pender counties in North Carolina. At the Duplin Times in 2013, he won an AP second-place in the Arts and Entertainment category for a feature on a small-town girl landing a major part in a Broadway musical.
In between newspaper stints, mike partnered with two friends in a disastrous public relations effort in Wilmington, N.C. They called the company Perceptions P.R., and it took years to claw his way out of debt. Then, for 17 years, he worked for a small training company that provided consulting services to clients in the pulp and paper industry.
Mike has published two fantasy genre novels, The Emperor’s Mistress and Thief’s Coin, both set in a magical world with Ancient Roman and 17th Century European traits. The novels are the first two of a trilogy, and are sword-and-sorcery style plots that are character driven. The third novel, Assassins’ Lair, is currently a work in progress.
Over the decades Mike has had two great loves – baseball card collecting and Civil War Re-enacting.
Mike just joined the Henderson Writers’ Group and just recently experienced a reading/critiquing session. When writing the first two books of his trilogy, he workshopped them through the OWW, short for the Online Writers Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. He’d grown quite comfortable writing two-hour reviews for fellow writers on the OWW, so the HWG method is quite news and a bit forbidding.