Weaving together the threads that make up my passion for the written word…as an author, editor, and follower of The Word.
Today I’m celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with DKC. Come join us on facebook!
Since I am promoting my book Journey to Aviad today, I’m sharing an excerpt from the book with current and future fans. The section below was taken from Chapter 5, Vivid Dreams and Tree Sailing.
Elowyn decided to do something she had not done in a long while. She called it tree sailing. Morganne called it utter madness. And just past her camp, standing in a patch of soft, springy green moss, was the perfect tree for it … tall, but not too tall, strong, flexible, and with a great number of canopy-like branches fanning out from the trunk. Elowyn scrambled up the tree, inching forward on her belly across the strongest of the overhanging branches, grabbing the smaller ones to her chest. She pushed herself forward as far as she dared, hanging on with her whole body. As the wind caught the branches, she was swayed up and down. It was the closest she had ever come to experiencing what it must be like to sail on the ocean—something she had always felt a great longing to do. Once caught in the rhythm of the tree and the breeze, she could close her eyes and relax without any fear of falling. She felt so free suspended weightless in the air. It was almost as though she were part of the tree itself, growing tall and graceful, joining the wind and sky in their daily song, year upon year, age upon age. Time seemed motionless, meaningless.
Elowyn had been in the tree for a long while when her senses slowly became aware of movement below her. Peering through the leaves, she saw someone moving about where her camp was. His form seemed familiar, but she had to be sure … yes, it was Einar. Finally he had come! She called out to him, laughing as he looked about unable to find her.
“Up here,” she called, “in the tree!”
Einar seemed both startled and amused at the same time. “By the Sovereign’s name, what are you doing up there, child?”
“Can’t you see?” Elowyn smiled joyfully. “I am riding the wind!”
Surely if anyone could understand this unique habit of hers, it would be Einar. He shook his head at her but did not scold. That beautiful, wondrous, youthfulness that she had recognized in him only once before, shone through his features.
“You are indeed a most unusual child …” Einar looked around the ruins as Elowyn eagerly climbed down the tree to retrieve the helmet and bow. “I see that you have not sat idle while you waited for me. Making a new home for yourself?” Elowyn could see that Einar did not regard this place with the same reverence she did. As his eye roved from crumbling wall to fallen pillar, he saw little more than a jumble of old masonry.
“It is a special place … it seemed to need me. Everyone has forgotten it.” Though Elowyn said this with the utmost humility, she could feel her face growing warm.
Einar began to laugh in that jaded tone of his, until he saw the crestfallen look on her face. “Aye, such a tender soul. I suppose if I had been forgotten for hundreds of years, I would want one such as you to find me again.”
“I was hoping you could tell me what the carvings mean. They are all about people and places I don’t know, except, of course, for Aviad. He is everywhere.”
Einar seemed a bit uncomfortable as he scanned the numerous images spanning the walls. “I’m afraid I will be of little help to you in that regard. I have not put much thought into the old tales of Aviad and the like.” He shrugged.
To Einar it all seemed no more than a fairy tale, and a dangerous one at that. How long had the Temple leadership interfered in the affairs of the Sovereign for the sake of its own gain? How often had they swayed the people, based not on the issue at hand, but simply on their word and desire? He thought the Temple leadership to be imminently corrupt, and the people who blindly followed them to be no better than drunks, addicted to a never ending supply of ale, packaged neatly and sold as religion. However, he could not say this to Elowyn, her innocent face raptly gazing into his, desperately craving his wisdom and approval.
“Perhaps one day I shall be able to introduce you to a friend of mine who knows of such things.” Quickly changing the subject, he put on the brightest expression he could manage and said, “Come now, sit with me and show me this bow that you’ve found.”
As Einar sat down, the breeze lifted his cloak, revealing a heavy bandage wrapped around his left arm from elbow to shoulder.
“You’re hurt!” she exclaimed. “What happened?”
Einar quickly covered his arm with his cloak. “Let’s just say we ran into some … trouble, two nights ago. We had to move camp, which is why I am so long in getting to you. My sincerest apologies for the wait. It could not be helped.”
Elowyn’s ears attended to every word. This was the first time he had ever mentioned “we” or “camp.” Again, she wondered about him. Where did he go? Where did he live? Did he have a family? Why was he always so secretive? What was he hiding? Perhaps in showing him what he had come for, she would get some answers.
Pulling the bow out of her sack, Elowyn handed it to him. All of the joy instantly left his face, and he held it close to his body with his head bowed heavily.
“Please, tell me again exactly what you found, and where you found it.” His voice was low and somber.
Elowyn recounted the tale of that last night by the stream, of finding a stray coin, which led her to find the helm and the bow and the arrows. She told him about the tracks she had found, and what she thought they meant, which seemed to be confirmed by the attack on her the next day. She showed him the helm as well, and he wept over it when he saw the crest.
“It is finished then. My friend is lost, and so is the accursed quest that sent him to his death. There is no hope to recover either, the Hounds and their Master have seen to that.”
Elowyn shuddered at the mention of the Hounds and their elusive Master. “The night of the storm, one of those Hounds was scratching at our cottage door. It left a footprint. The last two nights that I have been here, their sounds have drawn closer. Einar, what are we to do if they come to the cottage? It is only my mother, two sisters and I. We are not warriors, and we have no weapons to fight off such horrific beasts. I told my sister the print was from a wolf, so as not to scare her. But I am scared.”
“If you were not, after what you have seen, child, then you would be a fool.” His words troubled her. She had expected him to say something comforting, or at the very least give her some practical advice.
Einar rose and said abruptly, “I must take my leave, and report back what you have told me. I am sorry.” Elowyn felt her heart being squeezed by a mixture of emotions. Sorrow first, for she felt the loss of Einar’s friend, who apparently meant much to him. Second, hurt, for she had anticipated that once she brought Einar what he asked for, he would be more open with his own business. Instead she found him even more closed off, and curt with her in a way he had never been before. She knew it was not because of anything she had done, but it left her sore just the same. Third, fear. Einar was the closest thing to a brother, or even a father, that she had ever known. She wanted him to make things right, to protect her, to assure her that she was not in danger, or tell her what to do, just as he had given her instructions on how to use the dagger. Though Elowyn knew she was miserably clumsy with it, at least she was not completely vulnerable so long as she carried it. There was always a chance. But now she was left feeling helpless, paralyzed. She handed him the bow and arrows with the helm.
“Keep them, or give them back to your friend’s family. I do not want them any longer.”
“Thank you,” Einar nodded. His eyes had grown cold, and all the muscles in his face hardened. She felt as though she were standing with a total stranger.
“When will we meet again?” Elowyn asked, hoping that he would look at her, and that she would be able to see some remnant of the kind gentility she had come to know in him.
“Soon,” was all he would say. Then he departed, vanishing into the trees, as was his custom. Elowyn felt hurt, and betrayed, and very uncertain about Einar. She had done his bidding, waited at the ruins patiently for two days, knowing that if it had taken a week or more for him to come, she would have waited. This was not exactly the way she had expected his visit to turn out. She sat in front of the little basin and cried until the hurt gave way to a quiet resentfulness. She decided that if she was going to continue meeting Einar, she wanted to know more about him. She needed to know that she could trust him. “Next time I see him,” she vowed to herself, “I will demand some answers.”
But then as she stared at the ground, she noticed something. A footprint, deep and clear. It was Einar’s. Glancing in the direction he had gone, she saw more. The ground was still extremely soft from all the rain the storm had brought, especially in the thick wooded places where the sun did not reach. It would be impossible for him to leave no tracks on a day such as this, no matter how great his skill. She sat and debated for a moment. Was it right to follow uninvited? What if she were caught? Surely he would be furious. It would be his fault though, wouldn’t it? If he had been more honest from the start, she wouldn’t need to sneak after him looking for answers. And then the most dreaded thought of all; what if she followed him, and did not like what she found? Was it better to know than not know? She told herself that she would just follow a short bit, to see in what direction he had gone. But curiosity grabbed hold of her; she could not stop herself. She needed to know, once and for all, what his secret was, and she might not get the chance again, for she realized that she did not have the ability to follow him any other way undetected.
Einar was heading well away from Tyroc, up along the ravine but more to the west. Where the soil became thin and sandy, his footprints were shallow and difficult to follow. Several times she thought she had lost the trail, only to pick up traces of it again further ahead. Eventually she came to the bottom of a long, sloping valley. On the other side, a steep hill crested and she could not see what lay beyond it. Many separate plumes of smoke rose above the hill, and Elowyn guessed that they came from the camp he had spoken of. She eased her way slowly along the edge of the trees, not wanting to draw attention to herself if anyone was on the lookout. As she got closer, she began to hear the bustling sounds of an active camp—axes at work, people calling out instructions to one another, bits and pieces of casual conversation, and warm greetings passed between friends. Elowyn strained to see, but was not yet close enough. The camp was masked by thick, tangled underbrush, much of it sporting nasty looking thorns. Carefully she inched herself up a nearby tree so that she might get a better look.
The camp was full of makeshift tents, many of which were windblown with patches sewn on to cover the rips. It was a bedraggled group she saw—most dressed in what were once fine sturdy clothes, now worn thin with use. A group of men were digging a large pit on the far side of the camp against a rock face. The rest were busy setting up tents, preparing food, and taking care of other menial chores. Several seemed to be wounded. There were no women, and no children.
One man was tied up against a tree near the edge of the encampment. Elowyn wondered who he was, and why he was being held prisoner in such a way. Then she saw Einar emerge from a tent. He strode over to the prisoner and had some sort of argument with him. She could not hear what they were saying, but both seemed very upset. The prisoner spit on Einar, and instantly several large men rushed over to pull Einar away before he had the chance to strike him. An older man approached who had an aura of authority about him. As he and Einar spoke, the man’s expression grew increasingly concerned. He dismissed the other men and motioned in Elowyn’s direction. At first she panicked thinking she had been seen, but then realized that he was motioning to a tent near to where she was hiding. Perhaps if she could get close enough to it, she could finally hear what was going on. Elowyn slithered down the tree as quietly as she could and crawled over toward the back of the tent where she could hear but not be seen.
Find out what happens next…today two lucky winners will receive a free copy of Journey to Aviad, or you can find it on Amazon.
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