Thursday, April 9, 2015

"You're Okay" - Story Excerpt

Lungs burning, Andrew stretched his legs as far and fast as he could on the dirt road. It was nothing short of miraculous that the much shorter lady Felicity was keeping stride next to him. Though slim and small, she seemed fit enough, but to keep pace with the Captain of the guard’s squire, who’d been in daily training since his twelfth year? His comrades would mock him for sure. The fear of what she’d just witnessed must have drained to her legs, pushing them beyond their limit. It had been a gruesome sight, even for fully trained knight. But a lady? He cast a sideways glance at her, noting the unladylike attire of her tunic and tights and even less ladylike ferocity of her expression. Hate sparked in her sky blue eyes and emanated off her with every puff of air from her mouth.
The low thunder of hooves sounded from the manner behind him. Without breaking stride, he grabbed the lady’s wrist and lunged into the brush on the side of the road. She stumbled as the thin saplings slapped at them, but rightened herself. After a few yards, the woods cleared enough for easier running and the lady pulled away. They ran until the hooves sounded distant as they passed down the road. His anxiety eased a little at that, but as he was considering which direction to turn their escape route, the lady Felicity suddenly went down. Her hard gasping quickly turned to retching and he paused sympathetically beside her. Instead of calming, however, her anger seemed to burst from her. Her angry yells were something between sobs and retching, as she leapt up and started beating her fists against a tree. Instead of tears, her face was red with anger and she shouted loud enough for any pursuit to hear. He grabbed her around the waist as she lunged past him towards a larger tree. She seemed to forget that he was her rescuer, not her enemy, as she directed her anger at him.
“Lady Felicity, please,” he said, pulling her struggling body against his chest. “Calm down.” Instead, a feral growl tore from her and pain erupted on his arm where she bit him.
“Hey, hey, hey.” He struggled to keep his voice soothing instead of reproachful. Pinning her against him with one arm, he reached around to his pack and grabbed the water skein. She was pitching her weight against him, growling and snarling savagely when he doused her face with a drenching splash of icy water. She froze, blinking and breathing hard in his arms as he recapped the water skein. All at once, the fight went out of her body and she melted against him like wax near a flame. Her tears mixed with the water running down her face. Andrew all but rolled his eyes as he awkwardly wrapped an arm around her and rubbed her back. He had no experience with females, and after all her yelling and raging he was worried about their pursuit discovering their trail and the last thing he felt like doing was pausing to console a half mad female. But as her tears wet the muslin of his tunic he felt a hitch in his breathing, as his own heart rate slowed to match hers. He barely knew the girl, but his Captain had trusted him with her safety and indeed, the security of the whole realm hinged on her safety. His arm tightened behind her shoulders. If she needed to cry, who was he to object? His heaving chest calmed as he inhaled deeply, smelling the incensed soap from her golden hair. “It’s okay,” he murmured falsely. “You’re okay.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Burn of Betrayal - Story Excerpt

“Wait! Stop! I order you to stop this instant”
I am not sure why Mia was still screaming, it was clear these thugs wouldn’t listen if it were the queen herself ordering them. I got an arm free long enough to enjoy the satisfaction landing a solid blow to an unprotected nose, though the fists that fell back on me in retaliation made me wonder if it was worth it. Two of them gathered my arms behind my back while others continued to land their blows on me. Though the alley had seemed full the minute they jumped us, still more continued to leap from the windows and block the exits like bees swarming into a honeycomb.
Clearly, we’d been set up.
I couldn’t see Mia, but I took comfort in the fact that she was still screaming her demands. She couldn’t be hurting too badly if she was still shouting like that.
All at once, a hush fell over the mob. I continued to struggle for a few moments, before realizing I was the only one. They were all staring wide eyed at Mia who was standing on a pile of crates near the wall. She was holding something up in the air and looking closer, I realized whatever it was had been the cause of the sudden silence. Then, to my utter dismay, the thugs started dropping to their knees around me with soft murmurs of “your Majesty”. My jaw dropped and I stared at Mia with the shock that comes from the betrayal of someone you’d considered your ally, maybe even friend. This had to be a mistake.
Mia? The missing princess was giggly, grubby, stubborn, potty mouthed Mia? My accomplice in crime? Lots of crimes when it came to naming them. But as a hand behind my shoulders shoved me roughly to my knees, I realized she probably wouldn’t be paying for her crimes in quite the same manner as I. As she accepted a hand down from the crates, she caught my face and I saw her wince at my hurt expression just before a hand shoved my head down in a respectful bow. I felt my eye swelling and my body hurt all over from their blows, but nothing compared to the stinging pain of betrayal heating my insides. Why hadn’t she told me? Had she been using me to accomplish her petty crimes this whole time? Probably. Because Princesses weren’t hung for thievery such as ours. Orphans like me were.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Town Thief - Story Opening Excerpt

Ravenwood’s Thief

A dripping gutter masked a scraping sound on the back wall of Lord Fimblhaven’s southern-most warehouse. The warehouses were solid structures, built to be resilient against the harbor town’s abundant storms and even more abundant thieves.
Perhaps that’s what made them so enticing.
Despite being slick from the rain--more prevalent than sunshine in Ravenwood Port,--the massive stone and mortar walls were easier than a ladder to scale. It would have been simple to pause at one of the barred windows a admit oneself in out of the rain. With only a slight hesitation, the shadow on the wall passed by the window, climbing steadily higher.
Though the pattering of rain would drown the noise of a carelessly placed foot, it was only a nuisance to the wrath slipping over the edge of the gutter and onto the roof. An experienced shadow never suffered from careless footing, but wet clothes were more irritating than perhaps they should’ve been, for one who grew up sleeping with owls in haylofts and eating whatever could be snatched from the food carts. Admittedly, the selection of easily accessible food had gained variety over the years, together with the ability to acquire them. Despite the increased richness in food, the small body seemed to have suffered permanent damage from lack of food early in its development, keeping it small and scrawny even approaching adulthood.
Not that this shadow cared.
He’d wedged his head between fence rails to watch the broad muscular bodies of the knights from the edge of the practice field, and decided those bodies would have been an inconvenience to squeeze through the spaces he frequented.
At the peak of the warehouse the shadow paused, not to survey the surroundings which he could have waltzed through blindfolded, or study the sentries walking the grounds whom he knew by name, but to try and wring the wet spot from his tunic. Little else was as irritating as the feel of wet clothing, clinging until the skin underneath became wrinkled and clammy. The hooded cloak he wore effectively shielded most of the rain’s damp—it had been a happy day when he’d lifted that from a merchant’s naive hands—but he had yet to scamper over a gutter without earning a big wet spot on his stomach. He cursed mentally when he let go and his wet shirt fell back to cling on him.
He could go wherever or get whatever he wanted with enough persistence, yet somehow controlling the weather still evaded him. Or maybe, just scampering over rushing gutters without getting wet. He made a mental note to work on that skill as he slipped down to the front face of the building and squinted through the rain. Two acre’s away—meticulously tidy acres hemmed by an unfriendly sized wall—lights shone from Lord Fimblhaven’s room. Electric lights, the first in Ravenwood port.
They would go out soon, and the shadow would be ready.