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READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Woods of Silver and Light by Victoria McCombs

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Ronin’s son is dead, but a sorceress banished to the Woods can bring the child back if he and his Silver Raiders do something for her first. She finds there's nothing Ronin Hood won't do for his son…

Anika finds herself drawn to the mystery of the Woods and the thieves who live within, but the cost of associating with the Silver Raiders becomes higher than she's willing to pay. The darkness of the Woods seeps into the Raider's hearts, blurring the lines between hero and villain, until Anika's fight for freedom turns into a fight to survive the magic of the trees that should have never been awoken.

This isn't the tale of Robin Hood you remember.

*Note: This is a companion novel to The Storyteller's Daughter. Both books are unique plots with a few recurring characters between them. It's suggested to read in order to avoid minor spoilers, but it's not necessary.*

Take this opportunity for an exclusive sneak peak into the first two chapters of the book to begin your adventure alongside Ronin and Anika!

Get carried away into the sparkling world of The Storyteller’s Series in this, the second installment, WOODS OF SILVER AND LIGHT by Victoria McCombs—out next Tuesday, February ninth. Pre-order your copy NOW!



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“Keep your head about you.”

“Attend all the balls you’re invited to.”

“And please, please, Anika, don’t swear in front of the king.”

Cosette and Rumpel repeated rules to me all morning as if I would turn feral without their constant supervision. “I will do quite fine on my own, thank you.” I broke away from their tight embrace. “And perhaps the king finds swearing to be charming.”

Rumpel snorted, but Cosette frowned. “I doubt it. Lady Claire, I’m sorry to be leaving you with such a mess.” She turned to the older lady at our side who wore a bulging, blush dress and a straight line on her lips.

My eyes rolled but Cosette swatted my arm, causing me to straighten. “I’m sorry I’m such a disaster, Lady Claire. It is not my intention.”

Lady Claire stretched the corner of her lips into a small smile and waved her large fan over me. “It’s been quite some time since I could help the society. You will be my greatest project yet.”

I resisted flaring my nostrils at the word project. Cosette had befriended Lady Claire and, upon hearing how she used to school young girls into proper women, beseeched her to come stay with me once she and Rumpel returned to Autumn Leaf Village. She also invited Lady Elenora to stay with us, and I knew she secretly hoped the girl’s fine manners would wear off on me. Lady Elenora was my age and could be tolerated. Lady Claire was a different beast altogether. I didn’t know if she needed the small payments we offered her or if my lack of manners hurt her, but she acted as if it was the second.

I had enough projects on hand without becoming one myself.

The village was still broken from the war that ended a year ago, and my farms were failing. My plans for my time involved donning my flax breeches and saving the lands, not forming stiff friendships among the other nobles. But I repeatedly promised to be on my best behavior until Cosette was satisfied enough to leave.

“Farewell!” I waved them away in their carriage with a wild arm while Lady Claire twitched her fingers beside me. When the cobblestone dust resettled and the click clack of the horse was too far away to hear, I announced I was going into the village to check on the farms.

With a disappointed shake of her head, Lady Claire pulled a parchment out of the pockets of her dress. “Have you forgotten?”

My blank expression answered her, but the silver etching on the paper she waved wasn’t a good sign.

“Your invitation. Lord Carson’s ball is tonight, and you will be the definition of proper the entire evening.”

“A girl playing cards? Would you look at that!”

I ignored the newcomer’s remarks while cursing under my breath. Unless Lord Nevins was bluffing, a skill he was undoubtedly adept at by the hefty stack of tokens tucked by his arm, my hand would lose. I kept my elbows close to my side and thumbed under the corners of my gray cards, bending them up to peek again. The corners were perma nently bent from months of playing, so my hand pressed against the top card to keep it flat. Beside me came the rhythmic sound of fingers tapping against the table as the third gentleman pondered his hand. Hallow and deep it played, dum dum…dum dum dum…he threw his cards in.

Jolly good. Only two of us left. The previous card did me no good, and I silently cursed again.

“Another one?” The low voice of my opponent came, mocking me. He knew I had nothing. The victory would taste sweet to him. I sucked in my chest as the last card was flipped over in the middle of the table. Heads swiveled from one side to the other, looking for a reaction from either my opponent or me, but I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. My head stayed down as I peeked at Lord Nevins. The final card brought little hope, but at least now I had a small pair to my name. That might do it. Blast, I should have tossed in rounds ago.

Invitations for tonight arrived a month ago, and Lady Claire trained me ruthlessly in preparation, not only for this evening, but also for the countless invitations that followed from families on either side of the Westfall en/Vestalin border. She would be dismayed to see me now, blue tokens in hand and ignoring the dancing beyond these doors.

I laid down my hand and hoped for the best outcome. My opponent might be bluffing, but it wasn’t likely I’d beat him.

Lord Nevins, to his account, showed no great joy at winning as he shook my hand respectfully. “You had me worried there; not many can do that.” He twirled his mustache between two fingers as his other hand stretched over the table, bringing his loot close.

My disappointment was difficult to mask. “You are a worthy opponent.”

A new voice came. “Did well for a girl, I’ll give her that.”

My attention swept across the room to the speaker. Roughly twenty people squeezed together in the oval room, most holding glasses or a cigar. My hair would be stained with the thick stench of their smoke in the morning, and Lady Claire would know I had been at the cards again.

Through the smoke sat a man older than me who I thought made the remark. “And what do you mean by that?” I asked him squarely.

His voice fumbled, not prepared to be questioned. If he didn’t want me to comment, he shouldn’t have spoken so loudly. “I only meant…that is, you are a girl, and can’t be expected to know the cards as well.”

“Is there some magic on these cards that only a man’s eyes can see?” I asked with annoyance. Most of the lads smirked, but the man I was staring at looked uneasy as he shifted sideways.

“I was wondering when we would get some attitude tonight.” Lord Byron chuckled. He was a kind man who meant no disrespect by the comment; I had been known to speak out vividly when insulted.

The man held his cup close to his body and shrugged. “Surely we’ve all been playing longer than you have; I guess that’s what I meant by it.”

I squinted my eyes at him. “Aren’t you the man I beat a month back? Took several pretty coins from you, if I recall.” The man next to him laughed, but he shook his head. “That was my brother; he came home in quite a fit over it.”

I grinned. “Glad to leave an impression. And I’ll have you know, I’ve been playing cards for years.”

As the lads chuckled, Elenora passed by the doorway and gave me a disapproving shake of her head. She proved a loyal companion over the year I had been here, but she couldn’t understand my love for the cards. She chalked it up to my ‘rough upbringing’ as she called it and avoided the topic. I knew her father had lost a great deal to the cards when she was little, though few played at such high stakes anymore.

“How is it that you’ve been playing for years, when you’ve only come here a year ago?” the gentleman next to me asked.

“I was taught how to play by some boys in the village.” “What’s this, you lived in a village?” another asked as he placed two chips on the table.

I sighed. It felt as if each time I played my past was brought up by curious gentlemen who couldn’t wrap their head around a strange girl. I laid my hands with my cards on my lap and crossed my legs “That’s right; I came to the Wateredge Manor a year ago when my family acquired the title.”

I didn’t offer any more information, but the man slowly nodded his head. “I recall now, you took on after Lord Gregory.” A man next to him coughed, and another drew his mouth in a thin line. This was a sensitive topic he’d unknowingly treaded into.

“That’s correct,” I confirmed.

Another cough. “Thomas, will you raise?”

He was bringing the conversation away from Lord Gregory and my estate, which was a smart move. The man who held my title and lands before me died during the war with no direct family to pass the lands to. His cousin should have inherited the land, but the late king of West fallen gave the title to my family instead as appreciation to my sister for her work in the war. It was my lucky break out of Autumn Leaf Village, but I hadn’t been received warmly. Lord Gregory was well loved, and many felt I cheated my way into his manor.

They might be right, but it wasn’t such a great prize as they believed. The floorboards in the manor sagged, rail ings were rotten, windows missing, and many tenant’s lands had failed to produce a generous crop in years. I spent the long year in tedious work fixing up the home and helping the farmers in the fields. This past year proved a more frustrating learning experience than I’d anticipated, but I was desperate to keep my lands. Many around me had to sell chunks of land to the king to keep afloat due to the shortage of workers.

More than half the boys had gone to war, and many hadn’t returned.

Wateredge Manor rested on the boundary line between Westfallen and Vestalin, our allies. While no bad blood stirred between our countries, the war had left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. Only four countries fought, but the whole land felt the sting of battle.

My sister and her husband brought relief from the war, spinning straw into gold for the king to provide the resources to bring the fighting to an end. That act awarded us this estate in the first place, however unqualified we were to run it, and my sister and I moved across the kingdom to live here. I only had a few months with Cosette filled with working in the village and healing the town before the letter came that Mama was ill and Cosette’s tender heart pointed her home. But not before inviting Lady Claire to the manor.

I hated admitting it, but I did need a few lessons to navigate the social waters, and I’d greatly misjudged how much socializing nobles did. Friendly alliances with the surrounding nobles boosted my status, and as much as I detested it, their business was crucial to my survival here. That meant participating in these horrid gatherings and playing nice.

There wa