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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fantasy Novel snippet

One of the myriad things I'm working on at the moment is a new Fantasy novel series, and I thought I'd take a quick break and share just a little snippet of it. This is part of Chaper 4 of the first novel in this series, The Ruins of Lawic Keep. Hope you enjoy it!

“So what do we know so far about the situation?” asked Brithra. “The gothi did not give us very much information before we left.” She picked through the plate of greens in front of her, searching for the nuts and seeds she knew must be buried underneath it somewhere.
“Well, not a whole lot,” Rode replied. “Dad said to seek out your gothi, and find help, and then go seek out the Lawic grove. The only information that he gave me was that it was important we try to gain their trust quietly, because the call for help was coded secretly, using ancient words and formalities.” She dug into the pot with the fish that Arles had caught and cooked, and plopped it onto Brithra’s salad. “Eat this, you’ll be much happier with it I promise.”
Brithra accepted the boiled Ravencraft Char and took a seat next to her friend Nelye on the felled tree she was using as a bench. She took a big gulp of the boiled fish and swallowed heartily, then bit off another chunk. “Scho,” she chomped out of the corner of her mouth, still chewing, “schwat do you” chew chew “schink might be” swallow “going on up there?”
Rode took a deep breath, and thought for a moment. She still wasn’t quite sure about the Galalwe worshippers and their penchant for violence, but decided to trust her dad’s wisdom. “I believe that they may be operating under some kind of a curse. There wasn’t a lot of information available before we left for Mopool, but the gist of it seemed to feel to me like dad suspected they’d perhaps lost their Oak through external forces, or were having trouble with their underbrush. Most of these kinds of Groves are diligent about how they handle their sacred plants and animals, so if the were having problems with them it would probably be due to an outside influence.” She stopped for a moment. “I … well, I just don’t know. It could be any number …”
“Could it be they angered their Oak spirit?” Nelye interjected. “If they somehow managed to piss off their tree that might cause an imbalance, and make it tough for them to recover on their own.” As she spoke, she emphasized her words pointing at the half-elf with her wooden fork, or flailing it around, the juices from her fish splashing over the others.
Rode calmly wiped her face with her sleeve, and continued. “It could be any number of things, including that they damaged their Oak through accident or carelessness. I’ve seen blueberry and heather dryads get bent out of shape because a cooking fire was left unattended, but their wrath is usually limited to causing the nearby animals to misbehave, or to cause roots & weeds to entangle the feet of those who stray nearby. Mischievous stuff, nothing malevolent and certainly well within the realm of a Grove with an active Arch to handle …”
“Arch?” Brithra asked.
“Archdruid, sorry. A Grove with an active Archdruid should be quite capable of pacifying any of those kinds of small transgressions. If their Most Sacred Oak was damaged through such negligence, or even intentional act, the Grove would disband until the Oak found a new place to settle. That wouldn’t cause them to panic. That kind of thing has happened occasionally throughout history.”
Rode paused for a moment, giving herself time to think and the others time to chew. Arles sat thoughtfully, then his back straightened as he cocked his head to the right.
“Wait,” he said, softly. “Hush for a moment.”
The others stopped moving, straining to listen themselves. Rode looked at Arles, and saw his brow furrow, then his face turned slightly red as his eyes narrowed.
“Set down,” he said. “Follow me, bring your weapons. Quickly and quietly. Come!” he barely whispered, then sprung without a sound into the dark underbrush and disappeared.
“Grift!” cursed Brithra. “Aye, Nel, let’s after him before he gets himself hurt.”
Rode noticed that Brithra’s eyes seemed to twinkle at that. She has a crush on him! she thought. Rode knew better, knew that Arles was a peerless tracker in almost any terrain—able to track mountain goats up sheer cliffs—but then remembered that Brithra didn’t know that about him.
The three scrambled to keep up, as Arles nearly floated over the ground. After a few moments, they came to a dip in the ground, where Arles sat almost like a pointer hound. As the rest of them took up positions immediately behind him, he signaled to Rode to look out over the edge. “See, just over the farther ridgeline? That is a hunting party from Clan Filthgrin. The one with a shield, it has the bloody smile design. It’s similar to the Clan Foamscowl from the Northern Bloodfen area, but has the bloody dripping instead of the foaming mouth. See?” He pointed to an imaginary shield on his own arm, then back out over the top of the escarpment.
Rode looked out over the open plain below, just peering over the top of their hiding location. After a moment, she could focus her eyes on the object of Arles’ attention: a small group of gnolls. Five, she counted: one larger than the rest with a tower-type shield over its left shoulder, clearly showing the image of a bloody, crooked grin. “Yep. I see it. They don’t look like they’re terribly successful hunting yet, and they’re also not coming this way. We should get back and strike camp.”
“NO!” Arles snapped. “We should after them now, so they don’t threaten any of the locals.” His face was stern, even angry, as he cast his gaze at the distant gnoll hunting party. “We should strike at them immediately for the safety of nearby villages.”
“Absolutely not. This is not part of our charge, we need to continue to move toward the Tumunzar clan meeting place. We can’t afford to waste…”
“This is NOT a waste! You know yourself how heartless and feral these filthy creatures are! I say we set off and kill them all, right now.”
“It’s a waste of time for what we need to do! No. We strike camp and continue North to Tumunzar. If we come across them again on the way, we’ll revisit this. But now we need to keep moving.”
Brithra and Nelye looked at each other, somewhat taken aback by Arles’ vehemence. Brithra in particular examined Arles’ face for a moment, which was seething in anger and bright red. She and Nelye started back toward their camp, leaving Rodire and Arles for the moment.
Arles continued to glare over the escarpment down at the gnolls for a good long time, several minutes at least. Rode sat for a few minutes, waiting to see if he would calm down, but as it became obvious he was simply going to stew, she started back toward the camp herself. Just before she stepped away, she put her hand on Arles’ forearm. “Arles. Look at me.”
He turned his glare toward her, softening a bit as he recognized his long-time friend. His eyes bore the torment of his soul, nearly to the point of forming tears.
“I know how angry you are. I was there when you got news of your parents' abduction. We will have our chances. Right now, we need to continue to work on getting to the Tumunzar dwarves to meet with their council, and then find out what is going on with Lawic Grove. We will have our chances.”
She watched as the blood drained from his face and he resigned himself to their current reality. “Okay,” he replied, “but this is not over.”
“We will have our chances, Arles.”