The Viscount and the Witch
 
    Author’s Note
    Welcome to this first installment in the Riyria Chronicles, a short story that tells a tale about the early days of Royce and Hadrian, before they became the notorious pair known as Riyria. For those who are unfamiliar with my larger epic series The Riyria Revelations , fear not. This story is perfect for you as it is a standalone tale that will provide a wonderful introduction to the world of Elan and a pair of characters that thousands have come to know and love.
    I’d like to take a moment to discuss my Riyria Revelations series and why I’m releasing this short now. This is an interesting time for me as a writer. I feel like I’m graduating from a college where I spent the last thirty years. Writing for a living is not an easy career choice, and if I had any say in the matter, I wouldn’t have selected it. But you see, I can’t stop the stories from filling my head and putting them down on paper is really the only way to stop the voices. So I have to do this or go mad, and I’m opting for door number one. It’s unfortunate that so many authors have nightmarish war stories of what they went through to “make it” and my own path is no exception. In fact, I became so disheartened in my years of struggling to get published that I quit and vowed never to write creatively again. But never is an incredibly long time.
    My hiatus lasted ten years, and when I finally relented I decided to write something that had been building in my head all that time, something just for me —well me, my wife, and my then thirteen-year-old daughter. I had no intention of publishing it…that way just led “to the dark side.” Totally free, I could do whatever I wanted. I could resurrect the heroic tales I fell in love with in my youth. I could start the story simply and build it slowly, adding layers to characters such that we come to know them over a span of time. I wanted self-contained books, with their own conflict and resolution but also be able to weave an overarching mystery throughout the series.
    Somewhere along the way, I started thinking, “I just might have something here. Maybe it’s worth taking a shot at publishing again.” While I continued to write, my wife started working on the business side of things: writing queries, getting an agent, finding a publisher. That process is a long tale, and I’ll leave that for another day. The short version is that it took years, which worked out because by then I had become fixated with the notion of finishing the entire series before publishing the first book.
    I can’t emphasize enough just how crazy this is. Writing a single book is a herculean task writing six is just plain nuts. But there simply was no other choice. I was weaving a complex tale and often found myself having to insert something back in book one or two based on what I was writing in book four or five. I would have regretted being in a position where I couldn’t have added an important plot point because the books were already “out there.”
    While I got my first book published through a small press, 2008 took its toll and they had no funds to print the second. They informed me of this fact just weeks before the scheduled release—a release that already had book club readings and store signings scheduled. The only way to make the deadline was to produce the book ourselves, so my wife, an exceptional businesswoman and entrepreneur, formed Ridan Publishing.
    We adopted a schedule to put out the next book every six months, and even though they were all written, we were hard pressed to meet each deadline. What took so long? We could have just performed a bit of copy editing and then release them, but that would have been a disservice to both the books and the fans. So each book was carefully revised to make them as strong as possible. Just like a film’s cutting room floor, entire scenes were discarded and new ones written. The story remained the same, but how it was revealed

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