Book Snippets

This is a small snippet from Book One of Sons and Daughters: Young Falcon (released November 17, 2011).

    The next morning was hot. Mosquitoes buzzed around me, nearly driving me insane. Sweat dripped from my brow and my back and sides, but I forced myself to keep going. I hoped I would be coming to the end of the pass within a day or so, for I wanted to get out of the mountains as quickly as possible.
    As I rounded a bend, I came to a fork in the pass. Bewildered and tired, I glared down each of the paths, trying to decide which to take. They looked essentially the same, which only added to my frustration. I gripped my dagger pommel so tightly that my knuckles turned white, and tears sprang to my eyes. I was burning hot, thoroughly exhausted, and ready to be done with the tiny, cramped pass that I had been traversing for nearly three days.
    I sat down heavily on a stone to try to calm myself and clear my mind. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. I felt the stagnant breeze ruffle my hair and whisper across my cheeks. I listened to the still, small voice of the wind moving through the walls of the pass and longing to hear Lliam’s voice instead.
    After a while, I felt calmer and more able to make a decision. I opened my eyes and peered again down the two paths. Since they both looked alike, I simply chose the right path, knowing I could always double back if I was unable to travel it for some reason.
    At first, the going was easy, and I walked on for a long while.  The sun shone down with blistering heat. I had to stop every hour or so to rest. As I wiped the sweat off my face using my sleeve, I thought, I bet Yaron wouldn’t have stopped at all. He’d walk or run  all day long and still not be tired. I smiled regretfully at the thought of the boy I had known for such a short time and had come to love. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. I frowned and got to my feet, my mind shifting to Lliam. I so longed to talk to him again. I stood and walked aimlessly around for a little while, exploring the area. There was not much to see, but I was bored and not ready to continue on just yet.
    A little farther down the path, I found some more deer prints in the dirt, and they were fresh. Excited, and with hope renewed for finding some food, I followed them around the twists and turns and scrubby plants. They wound around the pass in no particular direction, but I followed them anyway. The thought of having fresh meat for dinner made me determined to track them. But as I rounded the next corner, I suddenly wished I had not gone exploring.
    Seven monstrous wolves were feasting on three bloodied deer beside a boulder. They were bigger than any normal wolves I had ever seen and looked vicious, too. They were all as gargantuan as the russet wolf that had spared my life during the attack on the Plains, but, for some reason, I knew that these would not hesitate to hurt me. Their jaws were stained with the deer’s blood, and there was a wild, half-crazed look in their eyes. Only one of them, a slightly smaller reddish-black wolf towards the outside of the semi-circle, looked moderately sane. His chocolate eyes looked tired and sad, but not crazed.
    I stood stock-still, hardly daring to breathe. I knew that these were no ordinary, friendly wolves my mother had always told me lived in the Plains, long before I had encountered these massive, unnaturally intelligent ones. I had no earthly, remote idea where these colossal creatures had come from, nor did I have any desire to learn. With a sick feeling, I remembered the slaughter of almost half of the men from Veryan’s troop on the Plains. Those wolves, as big and lethal as these here before me, had seemingly come out of nowhere and were gone as swiftly.
    For a minute, I thought they would not notice me. But then, the largest of the pack, a great black dog, raised his head and noticed me. He snarled and bared his bloody teeth, excitement and bloodlust filling his eyes. The others looked up then and swivelled their ears in my direction. There was obvious intelligence emanating from their eyes, but the bloodlust of the recent hunt was still raging in them.
     The black wolf came closer to me, and I stepped back slowly, until I was pressed up against a rock wall. There must be somewhere I can escape! I thought frantically. I looked around desperately for a way to escape before the wolves got to me. I could see none. I knew I had no chance of outrunning them, even if I turned and ran back the way I had come. The wolves were every inch as big as the ones on the Plains had been, and I realized from where I stood that I would only come up to the top of one of their front legs. Their tails were about as long as I was tall, and their paws were many times larger than my head.
    I glanced back at the wolves once I had confirmed that there was no way of escape. All seven were gathered around me in a threatening semicircle. The smallest, the reddish-black one, growled something uneasily, but the black wolf cut him off with a vicious snarl. The smaller dog shrank back, but he still looked on with disapproval. The black dog was at the head; it was clear he was the leader. My hand closed around the dagger at my belt. I had left my sword behind where I had stopped to rest. I had no idea what good it would do against such a huge monster, but it comforted me to have my hand around it. My heart pounded like a drum as the black wolf advanced slowly, his yellow eyes boring into mine hotly. I can’t do this! I can’t! Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run…How am I going to survive this? I took a deep, steadying breath, keeping my eyes firmly on his.
    Two of the wolves, the ones to my far right, were glancing at the rocks to their left nervously, looking anxious and tense. One of them was the smaller, red dog. The black wolf, sensing this, turned his head and growled a snapping warning at them. He bared his bloody teeth and narrowed his burning yellow eyes.
    Frantic, I turned and looked up at the rocks behind me and saw a ledge a little ways up that I had failed to see earlier. Several jagged spurts of rock which protruded from the wall allowed me to scramble quickly up to the ledge, panting with fright. I scooted as far as possible against the back of the shelf, almost hyperventilating with panic. I was about six or seven feet above the black wolf’s huge head, and therefore, over twenty feet above the ground, and it frightened me.
    I did not particularly like heights, but when I was only a few feet above the heads of a wolf pack that significantly dwarfed every normal wolf I had ever seen, knowing they were intent on killing me, it made me feel even more anxious and light-headed. The thought of what those giant, blood-stained teeth and claws could do to me raced through my head, and I slumped against the stone wall behind me, weakened with fear.
    The black dog whipped his head around and glared at the spot I had been standing only moments before and then stiffened in rage to see that I was gone.
    I shifted slightly, trying to get farther out of sight. A tiny sound made by my boots against the rock, however, caused the wolf’s ears to swivel in my direction, and his crazed gaze found the ledge I was cowering against an instant later. Snarling, he crouched and lashed his tail angrily. Sensing he was about to leap, I tried to move back, but found myself unable to go any farther. Nevertheless, unless he was an extraordinarily good jumper, I would be safe from his reach.
    He came flying towards me a second later, claws outstretched, and landed on the rock in front of me, a triumphant gleam in his demented eyes. I could not even feel a vibration from his giant paws when they landed. I screamed involuntarily as he bared his teeth at me, looking utterly demonic.
    Heat began pulsing through my head, and black dots swam over my vision. I could not move or even think, so terrified was I at what could happen next. The black wolf bared his teeth again in a feral snarl and took several steps towards me, extremely agile and at ease, even with his massive bulk. I was covered entirely in his shadow. His hot breath blew over me, and the stench was overwhelming. I resisted the urge to gag, but my bile rose, and I struggled to breathe through my mouth.
    Then he lunged.
    I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the clamp of his teeth closing around my neck. But instead, I felt only the soft brush of wiry fur and heard only an angry snarl and a heavy thud. Too terrified to open my eyes, I waited for a what seemed like an eternity.  I could hear sounds from the wolves below me, but now it sounded like they were fighting among themselves.
    Finally I mustered the courage to open my eyes and look down from the ledge. I was amazed to see the russet wolf, the one who had understood me on the Plains,  crouched over the black wolf, snarling at him. The black wolf was lying on his side whining, ears pinned back, eyes roving about desperately, wanting to be free. The russet wolf nipped the black wolf on the head and then backed up, allowing the black dog to rise.
    The black wolf slouched off to the other wolves, who pinned their ears back as he passed. The reddish-black wolf snarled at the black wolf, and the black wolf lunged at him angrily. The two rolled on the ground tussling, their gigantic paws batting each other and their teeth connecting with each other’s hides. The russet wolf dove into the fight and dragged the  smaller wolf away, holding him by his scruff. The russet wolf then snarled at both of them and they fell silent, ears laid flat and glaring at each other.
    The russet wolf padded over to the base of the ledge where I was still trembling, and in a single, graceful leap, jumped to stand in front on me. My heart began beating wildly again. Was he going to kill me now, after he had spared my life on the plains? But no, the russet wolf lowered his huge head until we were eye-to-eye, and I saw once again the burning intellect in those dark eyes. The wolf eyed me for a long time, appearing once again to be searching for something in my face. Then, finally overcome with panic, I fainted.

The acrid smell of ash and smoke made my nose sting. I turned my head away, but still the scent was strong. My brow furrowed as I frowned, though my eyes were still closed. I felt a light touch on my arm, and I opened my eyes. Staring back at me was a pair of blue eyes set in a pale face, full of concern. I closed my eyes again, suddenly convinced I was still dreaming. After all, the last eyes I had looked into had been brown…I suddenly sat up and gasped. The wolves!
    It was then I noticed there was a person sitting beside me. It was a boy a few years older than me, perhaps, and his eyes were as deep and  blue as sapphires. Nut-brown hair framed his face and his skin was pale, like alabaster, and he was beautiful. I blushed involuntarily and sincerely hoped it did not show.
    A quiver was slung on his back, full of swan-feather fletched arrows and made of some dark wood I could not identify. He wore a blue shirt, and there was a ring upon his left hand.
    He looked at me with amusement. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
    I started to respond, but then said, “I don’t know…What happened to the wolves?”
    He replied, “You saw them? What happened to you?”
    “What do you mean…?”
    “Well, I’ve been following a huge brown wolf for the past several days, the biggest wolf I’ve ever seen, and I saw him again today. He seemed to be baiting me, because he would run out of sight, and then I would come around a bend, and he was there, like he was waiting for me…I came around a turn not far from here, and he was standing over you, like he was guarding you or something. When he saw me, though, he ran, and I haven’t seen him again…Do you remember anything?” he said, blue eyes curious.
    I frowned, disturbed. “He…led you to me?” I asked doubtfully.
    “You could say that, I suppose,” the boy affirmed.
    I thought about this for a long time: So the wolf had spared my life on the plains, saved me again from another wolf, and had led someone to me while I had lain unconscious…What on earth was going on? Why was this animal helping me? I put a hand to my aching forehead and answered, “He…saved me from another wolf that was attacking me. I think I fainted-”
    “You did,” he confirmed.
    “-And after that, I don’t remember anything,” I said. “I don’t know why he did that.”
    The boy was silent for a moment and then introduced himself. “I’m Efroy,” he offered.
    “Elysia,” I returned. Then I asked, ““But…those weren’t Salquessaé wolves…were they? I’ve never seen any wolves that massive or agile, except for some of the same kind that attacked-” I cut myself off, realising that I probably should not say any more. I did not know this boy or whether I should trust him yet.

And THIS is a snippet from Book Two of Sons and Daughters (whose name is currently a secret). 

A brief, confused moment passed, and then I suddenly found myself pinioned against Jakob, my back against his chest, and a dagger at my throat. Hardly daring to breathe, I stayed as still as I could, not eager to give him any reason to hurt me.
     “Don’t move.” Jakob echoed my thoughts almost immediately after I thought them, and I could not help but let out a soft whimper of fear. What was he going to do now? Kill me? Use me as bait the way Roman had used Efroy?
     “Call out to Efroy,” he instructed me then. “Let him see that I have you.”
     I swallowed and found I could not speak, but when Jakob pressed the knife closer against my throat, I forced myself to cry hoarsely, “Efroy!”
    He glanced briefly in my direction, took another look, and seemed to realise what had happened. I heard him curse as he drove his sword into a human soldier and then free the bloody weapon. He moved towards Jakob and me, sword at the ready and a fierce, angry light in his eyes. Terrified that he would get himself killed, I tried to struggled away from Jakob, but the human held me fast.
     “Lliam told me not to hurt you, but if you keep wiggling, I may forget he said that,” he threatened me. I dutifully stilled and waited for Efroy to help me, heart pounding violently.
    “Let her go,” Efroy advised in a low, dangerous voice, and Jakob merely pressed the knife closer to my neck, his message clear. Efroy grimaced and looked as though he wanted to say something else but did not; his blue eyes flickered to something behind me frantically, and I frantically wondered if Roman had joined the battle.
    Jakob watched Efroy closely for a few moments more, and then he began backing us up towards the opposite end of the vale, using me as a living shield, and though Efroy followed, looking exceedingly frustrated and helpless, we both knew he could do nothing to help me. I stumbled a few times, and Jakob lightly slapped the blade of the knife against my neck each time, warning me not to try anything—as if I would have been capable of escaping him.
    The human men came in front of us as Jakob brought me backwards, their crossbows and spears pointed threateningly at Efroy’s men. I could hear Efroy cursing from where he stood thirty feet away from me, an anguished look on his face, and I ached to get back to him, where I would be safe.
    “I’ll take her now, Jakob.”
    I froze, completely losing any semblance of bravery I had shown in our brief battle. Roman was here. Roman, not Lliam; I could tell by that victorious gloating in his voice. He was just a few feet away from me … Was he going to kill me now that he had found me?
    I felt Jakob tense behind me, and then he slowly, reluctantly released me. Eager to be away from his knife but panicked at the fact that Zoser’s assassin was there, I stumbled forward—and Roman caught me. I tried to struggle away blindly, but he held me fast, laughing at my efforts.
    “What, didn’t miss me?” he taunted, gripping my wrists tighter until I cried out with pain. Roman smirked and shoved me down to the ground, so hard that I lost my breath for a moment. Panting, I held my ribs, wincing as I dragged air into my lungs. “You’re pathetic,” he said softly, seeming disgusted. “I don’t know why, but I expected something more, Elysia.” Heart racing, I grimaced up at him. What on earth was he talking about? I was a seventeen-year-old girl who had never been out of her tiny hometown; why would he expect anything more than this? Of course I was terrified of him; he had threatened to kill me a few days ago and likely would do so again!
    Roman scoffed and hauled me up roughly, only to then shove me at the nearby horses. “Tie her up; let’s go,” he instructed.

And another (paragraph) from Book Two!

She’s making me weak, Lliam reflected sullenly, stepping out of the tent. He did not like the effect his connection with Elysia was having upon him, not one bit, but it was inevitable. What was done was done, and there was nothing he could change now. By now, even Jakob was beginning to notice a change in Lliam, along with Roman and a few others, and they were starting to question him. It concerned Lliam greatly that he appeared to others as though he was becoming weak in his authority and conviction, but seeing the world through Elysia’s eyes had caused him to evaluate his circumstances differently, including what he was doing and why. He had already pretty much come to accept that he and Roman were not going back home, and he had been learning to live with that, but now that Elysia had come along, his entire mind and perspective was different -- in nearly all regards.
      That seventeen-year-old girl from Aseamir had changed everything.   

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