The Royal Gift: Sneak Peek #1
- Shotput of Power - ready to launch.
- Antis - ready to launch.
- The Mist Thief - First draft writing.
- Forged in Magic - structural edits
- Wandless - plotting.
- Forbs - 3rd draft rewrites.
- The Stars of the North - that's a secret...
The following excerpt was revealed on Google Plus on 13th October 2014 as part of the #samplesunday and #saturdayscenes event. This is the
rough final draft of The Royal Gift’s opener.
Rain dripped from the nose and chin of a sixteen year old. As she wiped the water from her face, her brown eyes watched as a brick was freed from the inner defence wall of her home. Above Aldora Leoma, as if mocking the stinging threat of her tears, a rainbow slowly formed above the village. She ignored it, a plain sword hanging stiffly from her right hand. At her side, his own hands twisting round the grip of his sword, was Aldora’s father. The two were silent as more of the wall’s stones were pulled free. One of the village’s teens stepped closer, poking through the gap with his sword. In return, the attackers started using anything long to jab out at those next to the removed brick. Soon the first attackers climbed into the Brown Buzzard Village.
The two Leomas stood at the back of the other villagers, under orders by the village leader not to engage with the attackers, but to protect the path behind them. The teen’s heart raced as the first clashes of swords rang out, but instead of looking at her friends and their families fighting, she turned to look behind her. Next to her, a low sigh rippled free from her father, causing Aldora to look up at him. Whilst Aldora had brown hair, her father’s was black and starting to grow a bald patch at the back. With laughter lines beside his grey eyes, he wasn’t making them wrinkle as he looked at his daughter. “He should have come back by now. Go and find out what is taking Haethowine so long.” Aldora hesitated. “Go on. I’ll watch over the path.”
Reluctantly, Aldora turned to do as asked, sheathing her sword, but before she could take a step, her father’s hand was gripping her right shoulder. “Keep that drawn,” he warned softly. “And hurry him up.” Aldora drew her blade again, then rushed down the tight cobbled pathway. Between the buildings, the sounds of the fighting became muffled, but they still reached her ears. She slowed as she neared the end of the pathway; she could see the village leader through the open doorway of the village’s ancient temple, which housed the Dagger of Protection. As she drew near, Aldora noticed that Haethowine’s sword’s tip was touching the floor. She frowned, hurrying her footsteps until she reached her village leader’s side. She looked up at the completely bald male with a questioning look.
“They’ve got in,” she said softly. Out from the rain, the girl could feel her body trembling, but she couldn’t figure out if it was the cold or fear that was responsible. The village leader swallowed before he gave a curt nod.
“I did my rounds last night.” He gestured with his free hand at a small podium with a red velvet cushion atop it. Normally, the Dagger of Protection would be sat upon it, but instead of the familiar blade, there was nothing but an impression of where it had sat there for the last century. “It was here then. But it’s not now. It’s gone.” He turned to Aldora, giving her a weak smile. She did her best to return it, but her own smile wasn’t all that strong either. “You have to help us. Go to the royals, Aldora. If you use the small east gate, you should be able to get out without being seen, unless they have drawn close to your father.” The village leader dipped his hand into his jeans’ hip pocket, withdrawing a small key. “That will unlock the padlock on it. You might need to pull some of the barricade out of the way. Tell the royals that we need help, and that the Dagger has been stolen. I will do my best to get everyone into the refuge and create a distraction.”
“But I’m rubbish with a sword. What if some of the attackers do see me?”
“Run fast,” ordered Haethowine, taking Aldora’s left shoulder and turning her to face the doorway. “Go.”
Aldora ran, feet pounding against the stone floor. She jumped over the steps of the temple. Her shoulder-length hair swept back as she raced towards her father. Hearing her approach, he turned with a concerned look. “Aldora?” She didn’t respond straight away, though she paused next to him so they could speak.
“The Dagger’s gone. Haethowine wants everyone to go to the refuge. I’m to tell the royals.” Her father glanced towards the other villagers fighting the men and women blocking their street. He frowned down at his daughter.
“Stab anyone that you don’t recognise. Don’t slash.” Aldora nodded, and her father gave her a hesitant smile. “Good luck.”
“Love you too,” replied Aldora, a slight smile playing at her lips. She turned to the right, jogging down a wider street, heading towards the gate Haethowine had instructed her to go to. She gripped the key hard in her hand, letting it bite at her skin. Was she strong enough to shift the blockade? What would she do if she wasn’t? She wasn’t the strongest villager, and she knew every second counted. If she could get to the royals in good time, they might be able to send some of the kingdom’s royal officials to the rescue. They would be the ideal protectors – the most specialised fighters in the kingdom, who worked as both law enforcers and soldiers. If royal officials weren’t available, then the nearby army base would be able to help. The village would have to hold out for longer, though, if it was to be the Third Legion that the village relied upon for their rescue. Please have some royal officials, she thought.
The villager slowed as she caught sight of the gate and the meagre defences. Haethowine and the others villagers hadn’t had much time to secure the small black iron gate in the inner wall. With the use of some sandbags at the bottom of the gate, they had strengthened the lower section, and then the upper half had been reinforced with two large wooden planks with their ends shoved into the dirt. Aldora lowered her sword onto the ground at her side, then gripped the first plank. With a small grunt, she tugged the end free of the dirt and shoved it to the side. She then repeated her movements with the other one. Moving to the sandbags, she tugged a few a small distance from the gate, just enough that she could slip her body through. She slid the small key into the padlock. “Aldora, watch your back!”
The girl turned at the sound of her father’s shout. She couldn’t see anyone running towards her from his direction, so she glanced left. None approached. She looked right: no one. Her father’s warning wouldn’t have reached her without need. She clicked the padlock open. Pulling it away from the sliding bar that would allow her through, she tossed the padlock onto the ground, the key still in it. After retrieving her sword, she opened the gate and stepped through, closing it behind her on instinct.
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