Since it’s release week, I’m sharing a final excerpt from Riwenne & the God-Killing Machine. The usual disclaimers apply that there are spoilers in these excerpts, so if you haven’t read any/all of the series yet, you’ve been warned. But maybe this excerpt will intrigue you enough to check them out! In this scene, Riwenne and her friends are meeting to find out what the spies have found out about the Empire…
Spying on the Enemy
We didn’t actually meet most of our spies, since they kept their identities secret. Their spymaster, Nayaraq, relayed their reports to us in a closed meeting with the Council of Elders. Amena asked the questions to clarify any points that he didn’t cover in depth, which earned her a few sidelong glances from Nayaraq. Things had been strained between the two of them since Amena’s mom broke up her romantic relationship with Nayaraq.
But the meeting was professional and full of very serious people, so there wasn’t really time to go into personal issues.
The spies still hadn’t been able to get into Haman City for a closer look at the temple’s preparations for the solstice. But they had crossed the border into imperial territory, and what they’d learned had everyone worried. A new elite force of fighters was training to face us.
They were called Sun Warriors. Teen girls (Vilqa flinched when they found out nonbinary youths were excluded—again) who could wield magic just like we could. They fought with magical weapons, created shields and armor, and showed incredible feats of strength and speed.
Our enemies had been watching us closely. When they failed to beat us with their regular armies, they’d copied us. Now they had their own divine warriors, and they were prepared to meet us on equal footing.
We had risked none of our junior warriors to enter enemy territory, so we didn’t have direct reports about their magic. A few of the spies had Nexita’s magical lenses to let them see the power showed by the new Sun Warriors, and the brilliant light had overwhelmed them. If that was true, their power scale was beyond anything we’d seen before.
Fairuza nodded to Ixi and the other planetary warriors. “We’ll get a closer look for a more accurate reading,” she said.
I held up my hand to stop her. “Is it really important enough to be worth the risk?” I shook my head in answer to my question. “Probably not. We know that they’re waiting for us, which is enough for us to prepare. Maybe you can sneak in, but maybe they can see through your magical cloaking ability. It’s hard to tell until it’s too late, so don’t try. Soon enough, we’ll all face them and be able to see the truth for ourselves.”
Amena murmured her soft agreement. She always favored the cautious approach. Nayaraq did exactly the same, although neither looked at the other.
Fairuza clenched her jaw, but said nothing as she stepped back. Her eyes flashed, and I feared she would do what she wanted even if I ordered her not to go.
Eberet leaned forward in his seat on the Council. “Are you sure that you still want to attack them on the solstice?” He licked his lips. “What I mean is, you were only expecting priestesses and regular soldiers to block you from attacking the sun goddess. Now we have a new, unexpected enemy. Is it better to wait and see how strong they are before we launch a full assault?”