Jeanne Owens, author

Blog about author Jeanne Owens and her writing


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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.

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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.

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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.