Chapter 1 - Redux

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A/N: I don't usually like to start with an Author's Note, but this time it's very necessary. If you've been wondering why there has been such a long delay between posts, the reason is this: I'm a dumb-dumb. I KNEW I shouldn't start writing the sequel until the outline for the whole book was final and approved...but I hate outlining, and I got impatient.

Long story short, I shared my outline with my editor, and he flagged a few major issues (unfortunately ones that affect how I told the first chapter...meaning I had to start over). Valuable lesson I learned: use coincidences only sparingly. It's much more powerful when your protagonist makes something happen through their own actions. AKA, having Sam coincidentally run into her aunt in Rhea is lazy storytelling.

So, here is the new version of Uriel based on a fully-fleshed out outline that my editor has signed off on. I thought about starting a completely new story on Wattpad, but figured it would be easier for folks to find the story here.

Anyway, here is Uriel, the sequel to Paladin, Chapter 1, attempt number 2.

A thousand miles of land and sea from Haywood, just beyond the star-shaped mound of sand, something white gleamed under the light of the unforgiving afternoon sun.

A mirage, Sam thought, wiping the grit from her eyes. Her mouth was parched, her lips dry and cracked, the exposed skin on her face red and angry. And Gods, was it hot. Even her damned horse was sweating, and they weren't moving at more than a slow trot.

"No, I see it too."

Sam hadn't realized she'd spoken aloud. The oppressive heat was getting to her. Had gotten to her days ago, really. "You think we're close?" she asked, her voice little more than a croak.

The wind whipped Braeden's long silver hair across his face, the pieces that had broken free of his braid in snarls. His appearance was otherwise unaffected by the elements. Lucky demon. "I do," he said, shading his eyes with his hand.

Sam slumped against her horse, a gray stallion its former owner had rather optimistically named Quicksilver. "Thank the Gods." It had been three long days since they last saw any hint of civilization, and she was beginning to question her sanity. The Rhean desert was cool enough to sleep for two hours of the day, and they were forced to traverse the rolling sand dunes for the remainder. Slowly. The wind was a force to be reckoned with, hindering their progress without providing much in the way of relief.

You didn't have to cross the desert to find the Convent of the Sun. It was just the fastest way to get there--at least according to the map they'd purchased from the first village off the Rhean coast. That was nearly a week ago. Sam had still been excited at the prospect of exploring her mother's homeland.

Right now, she would give anything for a bath and the comfort of her own bed back in Thule.

"Look, Sam," said Braeden, pointing. Her gaze followed his finger. The something-white now had a blurry shape and form. And as they drew closer, the something-white became a massive palace of ivory-white marble, a dizzying array of domes and towers and spires.

The Convent of the Sun. Home to the Sun Sisters, and if the Gods favored Sam at all, home to her mother's sister Nasrin.

Her heart leapt, the hot desert and her discomfort momentarily forgotten. She had family here, her mother's blood. Intuition and faith had brought her this far, and she wouldn't be disappointed.

She'd taken a chance, knowing nothing about her aunt other than that she was a Sun Sister. Or had been a Sun Sister when Sam's mother Tsalene had been her age. Tsalene hadn't seen her older sister in twenty years on the day that she'd died. Who knew what Nasrin had since become? Or if she still lived?

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