Excerpt from Auston Habershaw’s NO GOOD DEED

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 in Blog, guest, others books | Comments Off on Excerpt from Auston Habershaw’s NO GOOD DEED

I’m happy to welcome Auston Habershaw to my site! The second book in his Saga of the Redeemed series came out Tuesday from Harper Voyager Impulse. You can read an excerpt here today, and grab the full book for only $2.99!

More about No Good Deed:

No Geed Deed

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody is playing a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.

Tyvian’s own mother.


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No Good Deed Excerpt


The main courtroom in Keeper’s Court, Saldor’s hall of justice, had five sides, one for each of the arcane energies that made up the world. The accused stood in the center, chained by the wrist to a large squat stone at the center of the floor. Dull, black, and trapezoidal, “the Block” was so old that the courtroom itself was several centuries its junior. It was said that, in the old days, the condemned would have their heads struck off the moment the verdict was read. Those were primitive times, however—blood was no longer spilled in the Saldorian courts. They had other ways of making the condemned regret their actions. Ways that would not stain the woodwork or upset any children present.

There were four judges for any major trial—one for the Ether, one for the Lumen, one for the Dweomer, and one for the Fey. They each sat in a pulpit that loomed over the Block, as staring down one’s nose at the accused was an ancient custom that even this modern, enlightened age wasn’t keen on abandoning. The fifth pulpit, the Astral one, was occupied by a rotating cast of witnesses, accusers, defenders, and officers bound to present physical evidence to the court. Between these five pulpits and elevated a dozen feet above the floor was the gallery, where citizens of Saldor were encouraged to come and witness their justice system operate. They were even encouraged to bring things to throw sometimes, and jeering was understood as good form. It was surprising, honestly, the frequency with which persons present could shed illumination on a matter with a simple threat or insult, whether by prompting the accused into a rash reply or bringing new evidence to light. Justice in action, as it were.

Today, the gallery was in a rare mood, and eager to speed justice along. Beneath them, standing tall and graceful in her gray robes, a Mage Defender was about to hear her sentence. Kari Dempner looked at her, big eyes heavy with what might wind up being tears, despite her best efforts. “It’s not fair,” she muttered beneath her breath. “It just isn’t.”

The question, of course, was whether Kari, runaway merchant’s daughter turned ink-thrall, would do anything about it. Could she stand up there, in court, with all those eyes on her, and speak what she knew to be true? Did she have the courage? Her knees shook beneath her skirts and she wished she had some Cool Blue to calm her. “It’s not right,” she muttered again.

The howls of the mob drowned out her whispers. She doubted the rabble had even the slightest clue what the charges were, but to them it didn’t matter. Corruption trials always brought out the worst sorts—there was no shortage of criminals in the gallery, as well as a smattering of moon-faced idealists and bitter conspiracy loons. To see their biases confirmed by the courts was too rich a confection for them to abstain. They were here to wallow in it.

“Myreon Alafarr.” The voice of the Lumenal judge echoed through the chamber, amplified by the enchantments placed upon the pulpit itself. He was a frail old man in a white robe too large for him and a wig that seemed likely to slide over the front of his crumpled face at any moment. Arthritis had bent his hands into claws that could barely cling to the white orb he bore. “You will stand, please.”

A scent wafted past Kari’s nose—cologne, probably of Akrallian make, expensive and too liberally applied. Its cloying odor sent icy needles dancing down her spine. It meant one thing …

“Why, Ms. Dempner, what a pleasant surprise.” A voice, soft and gentle as a baby’s hand, whispered breathily in her ear. A man’s hand—also soft and powdered, bedecked with jewels and well-manicured—fell upon her shoulder and lay there, limp and heavy. “Enjoying the show?”

Kari knocked the hand away by instinct and turned to see Gethrey Andolon, her former lover (though the term applied only loosely). He grinned at her with teeth buffed and polished to an ivory shine, which marked a stunning contrast to his rouged lips and dyed blue hair. It was a fashion popular among young men, but Andolon was too old by almost twenty years to wear it. He ought to have looked ridiculous. Instead, his soft brown eyes made Kari’s heart shrivel up like a raisin in her chest.

Meanwhile, the Lumenal judge had interrupted the proceedings in order to have a coughing fit, the sound magically cast about the room so that all could hear the phlegm in his throat with the juicy clarity afforded someone sitting next to him at a dinner table. When it passed, the judge proceeded with the rituals of justice. “You stand accused of fraud, improper sorcerous conduct, and conspiracy to traffic in illicit magecraft, to which you have pled innocent. You have heard the arguments brought against you in the case and have been confronted by the evidence collected by the Defenders of the Balance. Do you wish, at this point, to change your plea and throw yourself upon the mercy of the court?”

Kari looked back at the accused. All it would take would be for her to stand and make herself heard, and the world would know Myreon was innocent. “I could do it,” she said over her shoulder. “You couldn’t stop me.”

Andolon chuckled quietly and motioned to the taciturn Verisi with the crystal eye sitting beside him. “So I’ve been told, Ms. Dempner. Why do you think I’m here?”

Kari glanced at the Verisi—an augur. Of course. She should have known. Anything she might do, Andolon’s pet augur could predict, assuming he had scryed the outcome of this proceeding. Nothing about to transpire was a surprise to Gethrey Andolon. He had set it up all too well.

Andolon tsked through his teeth. “Don’t be so glum, my dear. Perhaps Magus Alafarr will change her plea, eh? Maybe none of this will be necessary.”

“She won’t.” Kari hissed. “She’ll never. That woman has balls bigger than you’ll ever have, Andolon.” All about them, the gallery howled for Alafarr’s blood.

“She won’t do it,” the augur stated, his real eye far off, scanning the strands of the future.

“She’d better not.” Andolon snorted. “Otherwise we’d have come across town for nothing.”

Alafarr had to think she might win. Kari knew the mage had a lot of friends come forward in her defense—staff bearing magi, Captain-Defenders, and so on. Her alibi was strong, too, and her accusers had no motive they could clearly articulate. It was agony to think all that evidence was going to count for nothing. Finally, the Mage Defender’s voice echoed up from below. “I will retain my original plea, your honor.”

Andolon snickered, adjusting his lace ruff collar. “Perfect! Perfect!”

The gallery loved it, too—a chant of “Stone her good’ began in one corner. Others threw rotten vegetables her direction. They missed. Kari felt her heart sink, weighed down by the slippery, limp hand of Gethrey Andolon creeping back onto her shoulder, finger by finger.

“Don’t do it,” he whispered in her ear, the heavy scent of his cologne making her cough. He rubbed her shoulder again, slowly, gently—a man stroking a prized possession. “I can make it worth your while, Kari. Ink enough to swim in. Think about it.”

The Lumenal judge raised his orb and it flashed with sun-bright brilliance. Order fell over the court. “Does the accused wish to address the court prior to hearing our verdict?”

Kari trembled. The temptation of the ink was like a physical force—she could scarcely breathe with the thought of it. Andolon could afford it, too—that was why she first latched onto him. He was the first educated man who had spoken to her in months and he didn’t mind her vices—even approved of them. It wasn’t until later that she realized the price she had paid for his company. The price to her pride; the wearing out of her soul. Gethrey Andolon wanted to consume her, just as he wanted to consume everything around him. He was like ink given human form.

Alafarr’s voice was firm, even in the face of her disgrace. “I wish to say only that I am innocent of these charges. I am being framed for a crime I did not commit …”

Now was her last chance. Kari glanced over her shoulder and saw Andolon, watching her carefully, his augur whispering in his ear.

“… the evidence is faulty or tampered with, and I ask the court to reflect upon my service to the Defenders of the Balance, to Saldor, and to the Alliance of the West when considering my guilt in this matter.”

Kari saw in Andolon’s eyes her future—her long, slow slide into oblivion, cheerfully abetted by her onetime lover. She saw herself winding up in some Crosstown whorehouse, barely aware of the world around her, her blue-stained fingers wedged forever in a series of little glass jars.

Andolon rubbed her shoulder some more. “Don’t, Kari. Be smart for a change.”

Alafarr’s voice did not waver; she did not shout nor sneer. She was the picture of dignified poise. “I did not do it, there is no reason I would have done it, and I would not have been able to do it at the time my accusers claim. I have shown you as much when preparing my defense. The guilty parties are likely in this room as we speak, here to gloat over my misfortune. Were I not forbidden from naming them, I could tell the court exactly where to find them.”

She knew! Adrenaline surged through Kari’s legs. She shook off Andolon’s hand with a glare and stood. She was going to do it. She, Kari Dempner, was going to do the right thing for the first time in a long, long time.

She opened her mouth to speak, but the words were cut short by a bright, sharp pain across her throat. She clutched at her neck, eyes wide—a wire, thin and strong, lay across her windpipe. Strong arms dragged her back to her seat. She writhed, but the man with the garrote held her still, dragging her backward.

The Lumenal judge was reminding Alafarr of the complicated legal justification for her gag order while a low rumble of furtive conversation percolated through the gallery. Kari kicked her legs, flailed with her arms, striking people around her. She got a few annoyed glances but nobody seemed to notice anything amiss. Blood thundered in her ears, laced with panic. How did they not see? How could no one notice her being murdered, right here?

Andolon’s face floated into view. “I would introduce you to my little angel of death, but he’s the quiet type, you see. Nobody can hear you, Kari, and nobody will notice you are gone until the crowd clears.”

The orb was raised and flashed again. The gallery grew quiet, still oblivious of the woman being strangled in their midst. “Is that all?” The old judge asked Alafarr.
“Yes, your honor.”

The judge nodded. “Will the judges please stand to deliver their verdicts?”

Kari felt her limbs grow heavy. The fight in her was gone. She looked back, trying to see her killer. All she could make out was a shadow of a man, nondescript save his mouth and a small tattoo of a button just above the corner of his lips. A Quiet Man of the Mute Prophets; a man with no soul.

Andolon tsked. “Such a shame, Kari. I would have liked just one more tumble with you. You always were so … so pliable in bed.”

One last jolt of energy surged in Kari—anger, shame, fear, all rolled together—and she threw her head backward at the Quiet Man, causing him to lose his grip for a second. She gasped one more breath of air, honking like a half-dead goose, only to have the garrote slam home again.

Her last attempt at escape was drowned out as the gallery hissed and booed at Alafarr. The Mage Defender stood stock-still as three hundred people shouted all manner of insults. A rotten apple squelched against the Block not more than a foot from her leg.

The Lumenal judge raised his orb and restored order again. Everyone settled down; the theatrical portion of the event was over. The old judge’s voice came to Kari as though in a dream. “The Judge of the Lumen finds the accused to be innocent.”

The judge to the Lumen’s left, the Fey judge, nodded. “So noted. Do you affirm it seven times?”

“I do so affirm.”

Kari felt her thrashing heart thrill at this small victory—maybe Alafarr would be innocent after all, maybe Andolon wouldn’t have her killed this way …

Andolon cocked an eyebrow at her. “Is she still alive? Dammit, man—finish the job. We’re almost done here.”

The Dweomeric judge was next. She was an older woman with iron-gray hair and a severe demeanor. “The Judge of the Dweomer finds the accused to be guilty.”

“She better,” Andolon grunted under his breath. “She cost a bloody fortune.”

The Lumenal judge asked for her affirmation, and the Dweomeric judge affirmed three times, as was traditional. A tie. For Kari, the world began to fade away. Her brief moment of escape and the seconds it bought her were almost at an end. She scarcely heard what followed.

“The Judge of the Ether finds the accused to be guilty.”

“So noted. Do you affirm it thirteen times?”

“I do so affirm.”

Kari’s mind drifted to her childhood in Ihyn, playing with her mother aboard her father’s ship, telling tales of selkies who stole naughty children. The sun on her hair and the smell of the sea …

“The Judge of the Fey finds the accused to be guilty.”


There was a cheer from the gallery. The chant of “STONE HER GOOD” began in earnest, so loud it almost drowned out the final formalities. Gethrey felt buoyed by their petty hatred. He began to chant along, a grin splitting his face.

“So noted. Do you affirm it once?”

“I do so affirm.”

Alafarr did not sink to her knees, or faint, or quail. If anything, she seemed more rigid than before. Her face was a mask of serenity. Gethrey grinned at this, knowing how the woman must have been raging inside. He nudged DiVarro, his augur, in the arm. “It’s too perfect. Too perfect by half!”

He spared a look at Kari—she had stopped twitching, finally. Gods, strangling people took forever, evidently. He’d had no idea.

The old Lumenal judge spoke over the crowd. “Myreon Alafarr, you have been found guilty of the crimes of fraud, improper sorcerous conduct, and conspiracy to traffic in illicit magecraft. You are hereby stripped of your staff and expelled from the Defenders of the Balance from this day forward. Furthermore, you are to be petrified and confined to a penitentiary garden for a period not exceeding three years. May your time as stone allow you to contemplate your crimes with the depth and gravity such acts deserve, and may your ordeal strengthen your resolve against such misdeeds in the future. This is the finding of this court, under Hann’s guidance, and with the blessing of Endreth Beskar, the Lord Mayor of Saldor, and Polimeux II, Keeper of the Balance. Court is hereby adjourned, and the accused’s sentence shall be set to begin immediately.”

Gethrey applauded with gusto as Alafarr was led away, giggling like a boy. Around him, the mob howled and jeered even as they headed for the exits. Nobody raised any alarm about any dead woman beside him. The plan had worked perfectly. “There, DiVarro,” he said finally, “that’s settled. We can proceed.”

“There is a complication.” DiVarro said.

He threw an arm around DiVarro’s waist and steered him toward the exits, drifting along in a river of human flotsam, all high on what they perceived to be justice. “You augurs—always so dire. Alafarr was our last obstacle, understand? I had all the other angles covered. Now, she is disgraced, Kari is dead, and you know what the best part is?”

DiVarro said nothing, frowning at his hands.

Gethrey laughed. “There is no one in all of this world who will bother trying to help Myreon Alafarr.”


On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA. He has a blog at http://aahabershaw.com/.