Jeanne Owens, author

Blog about author Jeanne Owens and her writing


Leave a comment

The Ghost In The Pub – An Excerpt From A Goddess Awakens #Halloween

For your Halloween reading pleasure, an excerpt from my current work in progress, in which one of the characters, Loren, has an experience with a ghost.

———————————————————————-

Althea and Loren stood just inside the door and looked about them at the spacious room. To their left was the pub’s bar, a long oaken counter. On the wall behind the bar was a long shelf with bottles of liquor, glasses of various sizes, and mugs. At the end of the shelf there was a door that Loren figured must lead to the kitchen area. A dozen bar stools stood before the bar. On the wall to their right was a large fireplace full of ashes. Tables and chairs filled most of the space of the room. Empty lanterns were hung along the walls. Across the room from Althea and Loren was a staircase leading, Althea thought, to the sleeping quarters on the second floor. Thick wooden shutters covered two large windows, one on either side of the door. Cobwebs and a thick film of dust covered everything.

Anju wandered off into the room with his nose to the ground, following a spider that had caught his attention and stirring up puffs of dust with every sniff and sneeze.

“What a mess!” Loren complained. “It’ll take forever to clean this place and get it ready for business.”

“Maybe,” said Althea as she ran a finger through the dust on the top of a nearby table, “but it’ll be a nice change of pace, don’t you think? Relaxing, taking our time, cleaning and repairing the place…”A wistful smile crossed her lips. “I haven’t done any real domestic chores since my time at the orphanage. I’m looking forward to this.”

“Orphanage?” Loren asked in surprise, taking his eyes from a large cobweb in a corner that he had been watching – where there was a rather large spider wrapping a moth up in webbing – and focusing his gaze on his partner. “You never told me you had been in an orphanage, Althea.”

“I didn’t? I thought I had. Well, I was. My parents died when I was ten years of age, and since I had no other living relatives to take me, I got thrown into an orphanage. I didn’t stay there long, though – only a couple of years or so. The caretakers were nice enough, but I was never able to make friends with any of the kids. I’m really not sure why. But when I think on it now, it’s almost like they were afraid of me for some reason. What reason, I have no idea. I was a nice little girl and did nothing to cause any fear. Anyway, the loneliness became unbearable and one day – my thirteenth birthday, to be exact – I managed to run away from the orphanage. I haven’t had a home since.”

Her frankness at answering surprised Loren. She must be in a really good mood, he thought. She’s usually not this open about her past. Taking advantage of it, he asked another question. “So how did you end up hunting monsters? I’m pretty sure you didn’t learn that at the orphanage.”

“You’re right. I didn’t. Not long after I ran away from the orphanage, I met a wandering hunter. He was a kind, older man who was nice enough to take me on as his apprentice and teach me everything he knew. But it wasn’t long before I was alone again. After a couple of years of apprenticing with him, he was killed on the job one day while fighting orcs. I continued hunting, to keep my master’s memory alive.”

Althea’s green eyes shimmered with unshed tears in the afternoon sunlight streaming in through the open door. After a moment, a tear finally trickled down her cheek. Loren instinctively reached out to wipe the tear away. “I’m sorry, Althea,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to drag up painful memories. I…” He trailed off as a chair scraped across the floor behind him, and he jumped and turned around. “What was that?” he asked with a trace of fear in his voice.

“Anju probably bumped a chair while nosing around,” Althea answered as she wiped her eyes. “Come on. Let’s check out the rest of the place and see what supplies we have.”

Althea headed for the door behind the bar. Loren followed her after a moment. “Are you sure it was Anju?” he asked as he stepped through the door after his partner.

“Who do you think it was? The ghost?” she teased.

Loren scowled and did not bother to dignify her taunt with a response.

They did not see the mug that left the shelf, floated through the air, and settled down atop the bar – seemingly by itself.

Althea and Loren were not the least bit surprised to find that dust and cobwebs covered everything in the kitchen area as well. It was a modest-sized room that they were in, with a good-sized table directly in the middle. A couple of stools stood by the table. Lining the wall were cupboards that upon inspection were found to be empty of food, and only a couple contained plates, bowls, and dining utensils. In one corner of the room sat a cast-iron stove with a pile of logs of firewood. Knives and other cooking utensils hung from an iron rack dangling from the ceiling over the table, along with various sizes of pots and pans. There were two other doors besides the one they had come through – one directly opposite the door back to the pub and one on the wall to the right of it. Checking out the doors, they found that the former led outside and the latter led to a large but barren pantry.

“That has to be the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen,” Loren remarked as he followed Althea from the kitchen back to the pub proper.

“What? All the dust and cobwebs?”

“No. I was referring to the total lack of food. I’ve never seen a kitchen so completely devoid of foodstuffs before. It’s unnatural.”

Althea paused and turned to look at the elf. “You’re hungry again, aren’t you? I bet you were hoping to find a little something to snack on, weren’t you?”

Loren gave her a wry smile. “You know me too well, Althea.”

“Just be glad you didn’t find anything. Any food in there would have been ten years old and definitely not good enough to eat.”

“You’re right. I…” He trailed off as his eyes caught sight of something behind his partner. His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Althea, was that there before?” he asked tentatively.

“Huh? Was what where, Loren?”

He pointed over her shoulder. “That mug sitting on top of the bar.”

Althea turned to look. “Oh, that? I… I don’t know, Loren. It may have been. I wasn’t paying all that much attention to minor details earlier when we looked around.”

“Well, I was, and I didn’t see it there.”

“Are you sure?”

Loren nodded. “It wasn’t there before we went into the kitchen.”

“Well, then, if you were that certain, why did you ask me?”

“I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t mistaken.”

“Oh. Well, then, I’m sorry I couldn’t confirm your suspicion. So, Loren, if you’re so sure it wasn’t there before, how did it get there?”

“Well, obviously, the ghost put it there.”

Althea rolled her eyes. “The ghost. Uh-huh. Right. Couldn’t it be just as likely, Loren, that someone saw us come in here, and decided to play a little prank on us while our backs were turned? We did leave the door wide open, after all.”

“I suppose,” he conceded after a moment’s consideration.

“Good. Then let’s lock up and head upstairs to check out the bedrooms and get some rest.”

Loren looked at her as if she were crazy.

“What?” Althea retorted for the look. “You said you were looking forward to sleeping in a nice warm bed for a change.”

“Yes, but I didn’t mean in a haunted house.”

“You got any other ideas? We don’t have the money to stay at an inn, you know.”

Loren sighed. “I know.”

“Okay. Then let’s go.”

Althea gathered their leather bags together and started for the stairs, but Loren did not move from his spot. “Althea…” he began.

She stopped at the foot of the stairs and turned to face to the elf. “Now what?” she snapped. His childish behavior regarding the ghost was beginning to get on her nerves.

“I’m still hungry.”

She tossed a leather bag at him, and he deftly caught it. “Here,” she said flatly. “We still have some rations left. Munch on them. We’ll get some real food tomorrow.”

“How? We’re broke.”

“We’ll pawn your other silver dagger, of course. Now come on. Lock up and let’s head upstairs.”

Scowling, Loren watched her start up the stairs with their other bag. Then he headed towards the front door to lock up. Once the door was locked, he headed back towards the stairs. He had not gone more than a couple of steps in the dark when he felt the room grow chilly and saw movement out of the corner of his left eye. Turning for a better look, he saw the mug on the bar lift into the air, float over to the liquor shelf, and settle down – by itself. Loren just stood there, stupefied. Then, before his very eyes, a man materialized behind the bar. He was in his late forties, had short dark hair, and wore a simple white shirt, brown pants, and an apron stained by various foods and beverages. And Loren could see the wall and liquor bar through him. The man smiled and waved hello to Loren, then vanished.

Loren just stood there a moment, stunned. “A…A…Althea!” he finally managed to stammer out, and ran up the stairs.

Upstairs, Althea had lit a small lantern and had already opened three of the four doors along the short hallway. There were two doors on each side of the hall. She was just about to open the fourth door when Loren called her name and ran up the stairs. “Oh, now what?” she muttered and turned to face the stairs. A moment later Loren reached the landing and stood facing Althea. His slanted chocolate-brown eyes were wide and he was breathing heavily.

“What’s wrong now, Loren?” Althea asked snidely.

“I…I…I saw the ghost, Althea,” he gasped out. “He…He smiled and waved at me.” Then the elf fainted dead away, falling forward, luckily, and landing on his face.

Althea rolled her eyes again. “Oh, for crying out loud,” she muttered. “Anju!” she called, and the white wolf stepped out of the first room on the right of the stairs. “Take your silly master into his room and make sure he gets some rest. He’s hallucinating now.”

Anju took hold of the collar of Loren’s shirt and cloak with his teeth and gently dragged the unconscious elf into the room. Then Althea shut the door, picked up the bag Loren had dropped when he fell, and returned to the door that she’d been about to open – next door to Loren’s room – when she was interrupted. She opened the door and stepped into the room.

Althea’s room looked just like Loren’s room and the room opposite it. They were moderate-sized bedrooms containing a small bed along the left wall, a desk under the room’s single window across from the door, and a bureau and mirror along the right wall. Even here cobwebs and dust covered everything. The fourth room, across the hall from Althea’s room, was the lavatory.

Althea took one look at the bed and smiled. She took off her sword and tossed it and the bags into a corner, shut the door behind her, ran over to the bed, and threw herself onto it. Lying on her back, she heaved a long sigh. This feels so good, she thought, then drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Advertisements


2 Comments

A Goddess Awakens Ch. 9 Excerpt

I’ve decided to share part of a chapter of my current work in progress, the fantasy novel A Goddess Awakens (working title). [I’ve not had a chance to work on it much lately, with Fiverr orders taking up most of my writing time, but I hope to get back to it soon.]

Chapter 9

In the middle of a wide forest clearing, a large marble building gleamed in the late afternoon light. The single-story structure stood rectangular in shape and had a gold-plated dome in the center of the roof which sunlight glinted brightly off of. Small gold-plated cupolas had been placed atop the four corners of the building, and a silver dragon statue sat atop each, as well as atop the dome. A stone wall a few hundred yards out surrounded the building.

Men of varying ages and wearing robes of varying colors were out in the courtyard. Some sat on benches scattered about, reading books. Others tended to a large vegetable garden off to one side. A few others were practicing swordsmanship with wooden swords. Occasionally, someone inside the building would walk by a window and pause to watch the people outside before continuing on.

This was the temple of the dragon god, Samaryu.

High above the temple, a falcon glided in lazy circles in the cloudless blue sky. Slowly, it made its way down, eventually landing on a branch of a tree on the edge of the clearing. There, it watched the temple and the people outside it with its beady black eyes.

After a while, the sky began to grow darker, and a gong sounded from the temple. The men in the courtyard stopped what they were doing and began returning inside the temple by way of a large set of oaken double doors in the front of the building.

The falcon’s head gave a slight nod as it whispered to itself in the voice of a young woman, “Now.” There was a brief flash of light which went unnoticed by the priests. When the light faded, a small brown bird had replaced the falcon.

The wren took off, flying towards the temple and the open doors. It flew slow enough and high enough not to draw the attention of the priests. It also made itself appear to be heading towards the roof, in case anyone was watching. At the last moment, just as the doors were closing, it slipped inside near the top of the doorway.

None of the priests noticed that the small bird had followed them in and roosted on the bust of a silver dragon over the door frame. As the priests made their way down the hallway, some going left, some right, and a few down the intersecting corridor straight ahead, Wren watched them and thought back to what Tarn had said about where the library was located.

When Raven had contacted her, Wren had been surprised. She had not expected to hear from her teacher for a while yet. She had been even more surprised by what Raven had asked her to do and why she wanted it done. She could understand Raven wanting to help Tarn, given their history together and the fact that Raven’s home was not far from the temple – only a few hours when flying as a bird – but the story about the swordswoman and elf was astonishing, as was High Priest Usiah’s actions. Yet as surprised by everything as she was, Wren was more excited to be part of the adventure her teacher was on – and to finally be using her thieving skills again. She had not used them much since becoming Raven’s student five years earlier and she was eager to make sure they had not become dull.

Once the priests were gone, Wren left her perch on the dragon bust and flew off down the torch-lit hallway to the left. When the hallway stopped going straight and branched to the right, she followed it. After a few hundred feet, she found a set of closed double doors, just as Tarn had said she would. She landed on the floor in front of the doors and looked around, making sure no one was nearby and that all the doors she had passed and all those further down the hallway were closed. Seeing that they were and that there was no one around, Wren changed back into human form. Following a brief flash of light, the small brown bird was gone and in its place stood a young woman of about eighteen years of age. Her shoulder-length mousy brown hair was pulled back into a small tail by a leather thong. She wore a brown cloth tunic over a loose white shirt and brown leggings. Across her waist was a leather belt to which she had attached a sheathed dagger on her left hip and a small leather bag on her right. Completing the ensemble were brown, soft leather boots.

Wren leaned an ear against the crack in the doors but could hear nothing from inside the library. Kneeling down, she peered through the keyhole with a jade-green eye. All she could see was darkness, though. She made a quick check that she was still alone then stood up, grasped one of the brass doorknobs, and turned it, only to find it locked. With a small sigh, she reached into the small bag on her belt and brought out a small purple cloth pouch. She made another check of the hallway then knelt down in front of the keyhole and opened the pouch, revealing an assortment of small metal sticks and hooks of varying shapes and thickness.

Wren studied the keyhole for a moment then selected a stick and hook from her pouch and stuck them in the keyhole. Giving them a few deft lifts and twists, she was rewarded after a few seconds with a slight click from the lock. With a small smile, she removed the lock picks and returned them to the pouch, then placed the pouch back in her bag. Wren then stood back up, checked the hallway once more, grasped the doorknob, and turned it.

The library door swung open with a slight creak that made Wren wince. She hurried inside the library and closed the door behind her.

Wren found herself engulfed in blackness. She reached into the little bag at her waist again and brought out a small glass sphere. She softly spoke a couple of words to the bauble and it started to glow with a soft white light. Wren tossed the sphere up into the air. The globe stopped and hovered just over her head. The light from the floating bauble only lit an area of about ten feet around Wren, but it was enough for the young mage to get her bearings and see what was around her.

Wren stood in the center aisle. On both sides of her were rows and rows of shelves full of books and scrolls. As she slowly made her way down the aisle, the floating globe moving with her, Wren could make out an occasional table and chair between some rows of shelves. She could also barely see, in the distance, unlit oil lamps on sconces hung intermittently on the walls.

When Wren reached the back of the library, she found herself faced with sets of shelves full of books and scrolls covering the back wall, just as Tarn had described. Recalling what the red priest had told her, Wren went over to the next to last set of shelves on her right. “Tarn said Usiah had reached out to this shelf,” she muttered to herself, thinking aloud. “He had to have touched something to get it to open. But what?”

She studied the shelves with a practiced eye. She saw scrolls and books about history and theology, theories on a variety of topics, collections of spells and poetry, and an assortment of other things. But nothing that seemed to stand out to Wren as out of the ordinary. Wren tried pulling on some of the books, thinking one might be a disguised trigger. But nothing happened, so she studied the shelves themselves. She carefully looked over the casing and the shelves the books and scrolls rested on and ran her fingers lightly over the edges, giving an occasional push or tap on the wood when a spot seemed a little suspicious.

About halfway down the set of shelves Wren found a place where a small spot felt slightly raised. A closer look revealed a barely visible small button in the center of a section of tree ring. If she had not been looking for it, she doubted she would have noticed it. Fairly certain this was what she was looking for, she pressed the button. A barely-heard click sounded, then the whole set of shelves quietly swung back into the wall like a door, leaving Wren staring in mild surprise at the black opening. Though she had been expecting it, it was still a little startling to see it.

The light from the globe floating over her head illuminated a little of the opening, showing the young mage that what the shelves hid was not a room but a narrow passageway. Not sure what may lay ahead, Wren placed her hand on the dagger at her hip, ready to draw it at a moment’s notice. Then she stepped into the darkness.

She had barely gone a few feet when she sensed the set of shelves close quietly behind her. As they did, she turned to look at the back of the shelves. She studied the wooden panel by the light of the globe, looking for the trigger to open the doorway when she was ready to leave. It didn’t take her long to find it, since it didn’t have to be hidden on this side of the passageway. The small lever was prominently displayed on the wall to the right of the panel, next to a lantern which Wren passed on using as she did not want to leave any trace of her presence. A simple pull on the lever when it was time to leave would open the door. Wren would just need to remember to step back out of the way after pulling it.

Having found out how to leave, Wren turned from the door and headed down the dark passageway, going slowly so she would not miss anything or run into something, since the globe’s light did not reach very far. But there was nothing to see.

The empty passageway ended after about fifty yards, bringing Wren to a stop at a closed wooden door. She grasped the handle to open the door, but found it locked. “Of course,” she muttered. Wren pulled out her pouch of lock picks from the small bag at her waist, studied the keyhole, and selected two picks. Within seconds, she heard the satisfying sound of the lock clicking. She put the lock picks away and opened the door.


2 Comments

Excerpt from A Goddess Awakens (current WIP) #amwriting

It’s been a while, I know, since I’ve shared anything regarding my writing. Honestly, I’ve not had a chance to work much on this lately, having spent more time with writing jobs from Fiverr than working on my WIP. I hope to get a chance to get back to this piece soon and finish it up. For now, I’d like to share a bit of it with you, as I haven’t shared any in a while. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share your thoughts.

——————————————————–

Lorenathalus found himself crouched in the shadows of a building across from the castle, next to an alley, looking at the guarded castle gate a half-mile away. Anju crouched beside him. The elf could not remember exactly how he had gotten there. Nor could he remember stopping by his little loft to retrieve his belt of daggers, short sword, and bow and arrows – but he knew he had to have done so, for he wore them now. Even though he could not recall these things, his position had a feeling of familiarity, for he had pictured this scene in his mind many times over the years as he planned his revenge. He had put up with the humans training and using him as an assassin, all the while pretending to be a good, loyal lackey so he could learn the skills he would need when his time for vengeance finally came. Only he had not planned on doing it this night. And he certainly had not planned on doing it during a full moon. But the orders he had received had been the last straw, pushing him to act now instead of in a few years as he had planned.

But with all the planning he had done over the years, learning assassin skills from his unsuspecting teachers, there was one plan he had not formed – how to actually get into the castle. So there he sat in the shadows, staring at the guarded castle gate half a mile away and wondering how he was going to get in.

The sound of drunken laughter echoed down the street behind him. He carefully turned to look and saw a couple of castle guardsmen staggering down the street towards him, oblivious to his presence. A sly smile crossed the elf’s lips and he glanced at Anju. “Quick and quiet, okay?” he whispered to the white wolf. “We don’t want to draw attention.” The wolf’s tail wagged in reply as the animal stood up. “Good,” Lorenathalus said softly as he slowly stood up also.

The two quickly ducked into the alley next to them and waited for the guardsmen to come by. As soon as they passed by the mouth of the alley, Lorenathalus and Anju slipped out and up behind the two. The elf hated doing this out in the open under a full moon, but he had no choice. He was just glad there were no street lamps around and that the guards at the castle gate did not have his keen elven sight.

Quick and quiet, he had told Anju, and that was how it played out. Lorenathalus grabbed one guardsman by the head and, giving a quick, sharp twist, snapped the guard’s neck. At the same time, Anju pounced on the other guard, knocking him to the ground, clamped his jaws around the man’s neck, and shook his head back and forth very hard and briskly, snapping that guard’s neck. Neither guard ever knew what hit them or had time to utter one noise.

Just as quickly as they had dispatched the guards, they drew the bodies into the alley. There, Lorenathalus slipped off his cloak, dagger belt, and bow and arrows and slipped a couple of daggers into the tops of his boots. Then he put on the uniform of the guardsman he had killed, as the other had some blood on it that might arouse suspicion. Then he ordered Anju to stay there and guard his stuff, explaining that he’d just draw too much attention if he went with him. Anju promptly sat, but the look in his eyes said he was not too happy with the arrangement. Promising to be back soon, Lorenathalus left the alley, strolling nonchalantly down the street, toward the castle. He affected a drunken swagger and had his hair tucked up under the uniform’s helmet. The helmet hid the points of his ears, but there was really no way to hide his distinctively slanted eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes. So he kept his head down and trusted to luck.

The elf’s trust seemed to have been well placed – for a while, at least. The guards at the gate did not challenge him. Thinking him one of their own, they only laughed and joked him for getting so drunk as they opened the large oaken doors for him to stagger through. Once he was in, they closed the gate behind him.

For the benefit of the guards patrolling the castle walls and grounds, Lorenathalus kept up his drunken swagger as he crossed the wide courtyard and made his way up to the doors of the castle itself. Assuming that he was reporting for duty, the guards smiled and chuckled but opened the mahogany doors to let him in, giving him a remonstration to sober up quickly. Lorenathalus nodded and mumbled something about doing just that as he entered the castle. The doors closed behind him.

It was about now that luck decided to betray the elf’s trust. Not hearing anyone immediately nearby, Lorenathalus stood up straight and looked around. He found himself in the antechamber – a large, torch lit room decorated with colorful tapestries and burgundy drapes. A huge gold and crystal chandelier hung overhead. A long hallway in front of him led further into the castle. To the right were a couple of closed mahogany doors. To his left, a carpeted staircase led up to the royal private rooms and bedrooms. The elf drew the dagger from the top of his right boot and, moving with a natural stealth and speed enhanced by his assassin training, ran up the stairs. As he neared the top, he found that the hallway dead-ended straight ahead, but branched off to the right. Along that hallway were the royal bedrooms and private rooms. With his destination close at hand, Lorenathalus became overly excited and unusually sloppy. Imagining what would happen when he arrived, he did not pay attention to his surroundings, and so he did not notice the sound of footsteps heading his direction from the hallway. Still running as he left the stairs and made his right turn into the hallway, Lorenathalus collided with trouble. Instinctively, he looked to see who or what he had bumped into, and saw that it was a big man in black armor. The man had a black beard and a craggy face that was all too familiar to the elf. Lorenathalus frowned. The man also looked at who had bumped into him, and instantly recognized the face. He frowned as well.

“Kinski,” Lorenathalus said with no attempt to hide his displeasure.

“Lorenathalus,” the man said flatly. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be on a mission?”

“I am on a mission.”

Kinski glanced at the dagger in the elf’s right hand. “I see. So you are. Is it a sanctioned mission?”

“Not by King Heinrich and the Guild.”

Kinski nodded in understanding. “A personal mission, then.”

“Right. I’m not taking orders from the king and Guild any more. I’ve decided to quit and leave town. I was going to say farewell to the king first, then was going to tell you good-bye. But I suppose I can start with you first, since you’re already here.”

Kinski sighed. “It appears they were right after all when they told me I was a fool to leave you alive. But I really thought it would have worked out, since you were so young when we brought you here and began training you.”

Lorenathalus gave him a wry smile and raised his dagger before him in a ready position. “That’s the problem with trying to make a pet of a wild creature, Kinski,” he said. “There’s always the possibility that it might turn on you at any time.”

Kinski drew his sword from the sheath on his left hip. “You’re one to talk, Lorenathalus,” he snapped, “what with that wolf following you around all the time like a puppy.”

Lorenathalus gritted his teeth and scowled. “Anju is not a pet! He’s a friend!”

The elf slashed out with his dagger so quickly that Kinski did not have time to raise his sword to block. He barely had time to dodge. He twisted his head out of the way of the swift blade, but not far enough. The edge of the dagger caught his left cheek, leaving a slash from the corner of his eye to just above his chin. Kinski’s left hand reflexively raised to cover the wound and he narrowed his eyes at the elf smirking at him.

“Guards!” Kinski yelled, calling for backup, knowing he was no match for the elf’s speed by himself. “Intruder!” He raised his sword, intending to keep the elf occupied until the guards came.

Lorenathalus grimaced, his plan fallen all to pieces. He could take Kinski, but not before the guards arrived. He had to escape so he could try again later. But how? He quickly glanced around and spotted a large stained-glass window halfway down the hall. It’ll have to do, he thought. At least I’m not that far up. It’s only on the second floor.

“I swear,” he told Kinski, “one day I’ll make you pay. Both of you.” Then he slashed the dagger at the big man again.

Kinski blocked with his sword, catching the dagger near the hilt, and tried to push Lorenathalus back toward the stairs. The elf pushed back in return and kicked out hard with his right leg, hitting Kinski in the stomach with his foot. The big man gasped and stumbled backward. Lorenathalus dropped his dagger and took the opportunity to sprint past Kinski to the window.

A quick glance around revealed no way of opening the window, save for one – a large vase sitting on a stone pedestal nearby. Time was running out; he could hear voices and footsteps clambering up the stairs. Lorenathalus grabbed the vase and threw it at the window, shattering the glass, and jumped out the window just as the guards cleared the stairs and came into the hallway, Kinski in the lead. Shattered glass rained down around the elf in a rainbow of colors as he fell through the air and landed in a crouch in the courtyard below.

Kinski stared down from the broken window and watched the elf run away.


7 Comments

A Goddess Awakens, Chapter 14

Well, I spent a few hours this afternoon writing, and about 1200 words later, I finally finished the chapter I’ve been working on.  I’ll share a sample here for you all. If you’d like to read it all, it’s available on my AuthorsDen page here, as it’s available for leaving feedback on. Previous chapters can also be found there.

 

excerpt of Chapter 14:

 

 

Anju lay curled up beside the door of the small cabin, his gaze roving around the room as he tried to fall asleep. The room was sparse of furniture, with only a small table at the far end of the room, and a couple of cots, one on either side of the room. There was no window, and the only source of light was an old, shielded lantern hanging down from the middle of the ceiling on a rusting chain. On the table lay Althea’s and Loren’s weapons, and the book Wren had risked her life to bring them. Anju remembered that after they had boarded the ship that morning and had gotten settled in their rooms, Loren had tried a few times to see if he could read any part of the book, but with no luck. He’d tossed the book roughly onto the table while muttering that he just could not recognize enough words to make any sense of it.

Anju also recalled how they had spent the first part of the day wandering around the ship, learning their way around, watching the sailors at work, and enjoying the scenery. But as the day wore on, they had found that there was really nothing for them to do, so they had retired to their rooms after supping with the captain at his invitation. Anju’s tail wagged slightly as he remembered how delicious the scraps of meat Loren had slipped him at the dinner table had been.

When Althea and Loren had returned to their cabin after dinner, Althea had lain down on her cot and drifted off to sleep while Loren had taken another try at reading the book for a little while before giving up and going to sleep himself. Anju had then curled up by the door to keep guard and watch over them.

Slowly, the wolf’s eyes closed.

A small sound from Althea’s direction made Anju’s ears twitch, and he opened his eyes and turned his head slightly to look. He saw Althea moaning softly and tossing lightly in her sleep.

Anju heaved a small sigh and was about to close his eyes again when Althea suddenly sat up. His ears pricked and he watched intently as she got up from her cot and walked over to the little table. To the wolf, her movements seemed just a little stiff, as if they were not quite natural, and though her eyes were open she did not appear to be fully awake, like she was not aware of what she was doing. Anju’s pale blue eyes narrowed and he watched her movements closely.

Althea looked over the items on the table, frowned at the book, then picked up one of Loren’s narrow-bladed knives and unsheathed it. Then she went over to Loren’s cot and stood beside it. She stared at Loren’s prone body for a moment, then slowly lifted the knife over his chest.

Anju leapt to his feet and growled.

Loren’s eyes snapped open at the sound, and he grabbed Althea’s wrist and twisted before he fully realized what was happening. The knife fell from Althea’s hand and to the side of the cot.

Althea gasped from the pain of the elf’s rough grip on her wrist. Then she blinked and looked down at her friend.“Loren?” she asked, confusion coloring her voice. “What’s going on? What am I doing over here?” Her gaze drifted to the knife on the cot, not far from her hand, and her eyes widened and the color left her face as she understood.

 


Leave a comment

Thank you! Enjoy your sample

Wow! I’ve already picked up a few followers. Thank you for choosing to follow me. I hope to keep fairly active on this blog. I may not post every day, but I’ll try to post fairly regularly. I’ve been playing around on here for the past couple days, getting this page set up. I tweaked my “about” profile a little today. I think I’m fairly happy with how this page looks, for now at least. So I suppose I should return my focus to working on my book some more.  As a thank you, I’ll share a snippet of the book I’m working on. You’re welcome to share your thoughts on it.  (Note: I retain all rights to the fragment I’m posting)

(Excerpt from Chapter 12 of A Goddess Awakens)

Once Wren returned the flask to the bag, she stood up and chanted a quick spell. The resulting brief flash of light startled a squirrel rummaging in some nearby underbrush and sent it scurrying up the nearest tree to chatter in alarm. When the light faded, Wren’s human form had been replaced by a falcon.

The bird stretched its wings, flapped them a couple of times, then launched itself into the air.

Leaving the small forest clearing where she had stopped to rest, Wren flew south, following a well-traveled dirt road toward Maarkess. She stayed high up in the sky to avoid detection, in case she had been followed from the temple, although she had not noticed anyone following her.

She flew until late afternoon, then found a small clearing to take a brief rest in and eat a quick meal of more jerky and dried fruit washed down with a few swallows of water. Then she resumed her falcon form and took to the air again.

As dusk approached, she spotted something on the road a ways ahead of her. From her position, it looked like a bunch of ants on the road, but she knew it had to be a group of people, and they seemed to be moving rather quickly, most likely on horseback. Curious, she headed towards them while slowly drawing closer to the ground to get a better look.

As she got closer, she could see it was indeed a group of about a dozen men on horseback, riding single-file and at a brisk gallop. Wren flew a little ways ahead of them and alighted in a tree near the road so she could get a better look at them. As they drew near, she made note that they were soldiers dressed in armor, and their faces held looks of intense determination. She also picked up from them a sense that they were more than ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

Wren focused her attention on the lead rider, whom she assumed to be the leader of the group. He had dark hair sprinkled with spots of gray sticking out from a helmet with a long tail of white hair seemingly sprouting from the top of it. A short, neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard covered his craggy face, except for where a scar ran down his left cheek, from the corner of his eye to just above his chin. Unlike his fellow soldiers, though, this man had a look in his dark eyes that spoke of eager anticipation mixed with blood-lust. She did not like the look one bit, and felt very sorry for whomever the man’s target was.

Then Wren took notice of the second rider. Instead of armor, he wore a dark green priest’s robe with its cowl up to cover his head and face. Even with her sharp falcon eyes, she could not see his face clearly, though she got the impression that it was not human. The rider grasped the horse’s reins tightly with gloved hands, as if he was not comfortable riding the beast.

Wren had a bad feeling about the group and their presence on the road to Maarkess. So, as soon as they had gone a little ways passed her location, she flew after them, determined to find out more about them and their purpose.

Wren followed the group of soldiers until just after nightfall, when the lead soldier, the one with the scar on his face, called a halt and sent a couple of his subordinates to find a place to camp. Wren settled in a nearby tree to watch. The two soldiers returned a few minutes later and led the group into the forest. Wren followed them to a clearing not far from the road. She perched in a tree near the edge of the clearing, where she could watch them unobserved – all night, if need be.

The group tended to their horses before fixing a couple of small campfires, then split up between them for a quick meal. Afterward, some of the soldiers left the fires to lean up against trees to sleep. Others remained by the fires for a little while, sharing stories and flasks of what Wren assumed was liquor of some sort, before also retiring for the night.

The green-robed person, after tending to his horse, forsook a fireside meal and instead sat down beneath a tree at the very edge of the camp. Wren watched him for a while, but all he did was just sit. He kept the cowl of his robe up, so Wren could not tell if he slept, or just watched the camp.

The scarred soldier watched over his men for a while, then assigned a few of them to keep watch over the camp at intervals during the night. Then he also retired to a tree to rest. Wren could hardly believe her luck when he chose the tree right next to hers.

The young mage watched the camp for a couple of hours, then felt herself growing drowsy. With nothing interesting happening in the camp, she thought it was probably safe enough for her to take a quick nap. She was just about to tuck her head under a wing when the man with the scar stirred and began to mumble in his sleep. Curious, Wren watched him.

“At last,” he mumbled, his hand unconsciously reaching up to touch his scar. “You won’t escape me again, Lorenathalus. I will finally punish you, you filthy traitor.”

The man drifted back into sound sleep. Wren stared at him, confused by what she had just heard. He obviously held a deep, personal grudge against someone. Someone he considered a traitor. That was understandable enough. But the name he had said, Lorenathalus, had not sounded like a human name. Perhaps it was elvish, she mused. But why would this man being calling an elf a traitor? That made no sense to her.

Then a thought crossed her sleepy mind. She knew an elf. One who went by the name Loren. Could that be a shorted form of Lorenathalus? She was fairly certain it was. Which would mean…

Wren was not too sure what all it would mean, except that it probably was not good. But what she did know was that it meant Loren was in trouble. She rather liked Loren, based on what little she had seen and heard of him through the mirror, and she had to warn him and the others.

As quietly as she could, she flew from the clearing and back to the road, heading for Maarkess as quickly as she could.

In her hurry to leave, she did not notice the green-robed figure watch her leave.