Welcome to a little excerpt from The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I
Excerpt 1 – Dii
Dii walked through the day, stopping only to refill her water-skin from a spring. The day had turned out to be overcast and the air was heavy with the tension of a storm hanging over the land. Heavyset big-horned sheep populated the surrounding countryside; hardy and excellent providers of meat, cheese and wool that was surprisingly soft to have come from such tough, belligerent beasts. Trees covered the land to the east, not quite fertile enough for grain or barley but ideal for the orchards and forests that provided for these lands. As she walked, the hills began to roll steeper. The horizon boded storm clouds and any canny folk, Witch or not, could foresee the storm approaching. Every mile she walked was further from her Keeper’s land.
As evening approached, the road forked, and the rain began to fall in huge, cold drops that chilled the blood and saturated a person to the skin. She was aware some mages could control the weather, calling and dismissing storms and remaining dry in the rain. Dii, however, was young and inexperienced, and did not know such useful spells. She hesitated, unsure; she could try to camp, although she had little food remaining in her bag and knew her tent would not protect her from a storm or high winds. She had passed a farmhouse some way back and contemplated returning to shelter in the barn, yet she did not wish to be caught stealing apples or eggs and, not knowing the sympathies of the farm folk, she was reluctant to beg for food. The other choice was the elf could risk the village she could see on the horizon, which would provide her at least with a hot meal, a warm fire and a bed more comfortable than a hayloft or bedroll. Being a healer, Dii knew the risks of such weather, and of prolonged exposure to cold and damp. She knew also the danger of one such as her seeking accommodation, but at this moment, she was too cold and wet to care; weather such as this could kill. It was worth the risk for a night or two. Hopefully, if she was cautious, the village should be safe enough.
The storm began to rumble and roll, the symphony of the gods beginning to boil like a cauldron. Quickening her pace, the young elf hoped no other souls were out in the storm. Looking around she saw the pear, apple and plum orchards to the east of the village. Much of the fruit had gone but a few trees still bore laden branches amongst the brown and red leaves. The storm would bring death for some of them and possibly ruin the last fruiting for the rest. Resisting the temptation to fill her pockets with the fruit, she simply plucked a couple of the juiciest ones to quiet her rumbling belly.
Dii smiled sadly when she remembered her foster mother’s fruit pie. Dii had learned much from Malana, not just some of her magical training, unofficially of course as that was forbidden. Malana was the best cook and best herbalist in the area and although she was the lord’s mistress, she was also a midwife. Often the villagers appealed to her when the other midwives had failed or were unavailable. A few times, Dii had been given permission to attend, escorted of course. The first time she had marvelled at the sight of new life arriving in such a fashion, the joy, the pain, often the blood. She had watched and then assisted, pleased to be able to help with bringing new life into the light. She remembered Joset had not been pleased she had attended, feeling it unsuitable for her, but Malana had somehow persuaded him. Perhaps it had simply been another use of her skills for which she would receive payment to fill the lord’s coffers. The ability to be an excellent cook and a well-trained herbalist, not to mention his favourite bed warmer, were solid reasons why Joset kept her foster mother around. Nasty and manipulative he may be, foolish he was not. Dii knew to her cost that he would not waste a good source of income and entertainment. Malana also believed herself, as a bound concubine and Kept, to be in no position to be elsewhere. In her way, she loved him, although Dii had never understood why. Perhaps he had once been a different man; as a mage, Malana would have been bound in the prison beyond the Enclave, unless she was very clever or very lucky. A mage would be bound with the feared Shackles: cruel, draining of magic and often fatal. Standing at the fork of the road, Dii was afraid and unsure, then a rumble of thunder reminded her of why she must risk her new-found freedom, and perhaps her life.
Adult rated #fantasy (contains violence and sexy scenes). Universal Link – ebook, audiobook, hardback, audiobook, large print.