A most interesting and useful post for those of us building new worlds.
A most interesting and useful post for those of us building new worlds.
Today I’m giving you a look at Chapter 1 of Vengeance of a Slave. It is the story of a young man, taken as a slave by the Romans in 70AD, how his hatred of the Romans grew and how he extracted his revenge on them.
I hope you enjoy it. If you want to purchase a copy, follow this link. or click on the picture of the book cover below.
The boy tried to hold back the tears pricking the back of his eyelids. His mother stood next to him, holding his hand while they nailed his father to the cross. Some Roman soldiers lifted five other crosses in the field just outside the town. He covered his ears against the screaming of the women as they tried to rush forward to their men folk, who now hung on the crosses.
He looked up at his mother who stood calmly and with dignity, knowing hysterics would not help her husband, nor her small family. He tried to ignore the screams from the men as the nails entered their flesh.
The boy understood little of what had happened, but he knew a man named Julius Civilis led a rebellion against Rome and the Roman Legions on the Rhenus went to put it down. He knew his father and other men took advantage while the soldiers were away and they launched their own attacks across the Rhenus and even laid siege to the town of Mogantiacum. He understood the legions coming back from the north had relieved the siege and now the Romans had come to punish them. What he did not understand was why.
When the Romans arrived across the river, they lined all the men up and took every tenth man to be made an example of and then set about making crosses for their crucifixion. The Romans pushed the boy along with the rest of the population to this field to watch.
The commander of the Romans told them they must see what happened to those who challenged the might of Rome, even though they were not in the Empire. Rome must exact punishment for the raid.
The boy pushed back the tears forming in his eyes. He could hear his little sister crying as she hung onto their mother’s leg, burying her face in her mother’s skirts, but she was only four, so she could be excused. His baby brother slept in his mother’s arms blissfully ignorant of what happened around him. He would never know his father, the boy thought, looking up at the baby. He almost wept then. He would never see his father again after today, either.
He forced himself to look at the crosses, searching for the one on which the Romans had nailed his father. He knew it would be the last chance he had of seeing him. He caught his father’s eyes. In spite of the pain in them, his father gave a half smile and mouthed ‘Look after your mother and sister.’
The boy was six, and the eldest, so he had to show courage. A slight breeze ruffled his ash blonde hair and he raised his hand to push it back out of his eyes. He didn’t want to see the horrible death his father was undergoing, but he felt, somehow, he owed it to him to watch and remember. A tear trickled down his cheek, and he brushed it away. He must stay strong for the rest of the family.
After the soldiers had lifted all the crosses, the people turned away to return to their homes. Some women tried to rush to the crucifixes, but the Romans beat them away. They would allow no one to try to rescue the men.
As the boy and his family walked sadly away from the field of death a legionnaire approached his mother. She stopped and shook him off as he touched her arm.
‘These are your children?’ he asked in their language.
His mother looked scornfully at him. ‘Of course!’ she snapped. ‘I wouldn’t bring anyone else’s children to a crucifixion.’
The legionnaire reached out to the boy and touched his hair. The boy pulled back, not wanting this man, who had been complicit in his father’s death, to touch him. He shivered as the strange man smiled at him. The boy thought he looked like a wolf.
The legionnaire spoke to his mother again.
‘I’ve never seen such pale hair. I see your little girl also has it. They’ll make a fortune on the block.’
Their mother looked at him in confusion.
‘What do you mean, “on the block”?’ she asked.
‘Oh, we’re taking a few of you as slaves. We always need more and it will teach you not to attack Rome in future.’
‘You’re taking us as slaves?’
The man laughed. ‘Oh, not you. Just these two children. You’re not particularly valuable, but these…’
‘No! You can’t take my children,’ cried the boy’s mother. ‘Take me, but leave my children alone. You’ve taken my husband and put him to death. Isn’t that enough?’
She grabbed onto the boy and his sister, nearly dropping the baby as she did so.
The legionnaire pushed her away and roughly took the boy and his sister by their arms. The boy struggled, understanding this man intended to take him and his sister away from their mother. The legionnaire pushed them in front of him towards where a group of crying children and screaming mothers stood.
His mother’s composure broke then, and she began to scream along with the others as she tried to wrest her two children from the officer. It was to no avail. Seeing his mother crying broke the child’s resolve and he broke down into sobs, struggling against the man. He was no match for the strong Roman soldier, though and the man pushed him towards where more soldiers held the other prisoners.
No matter how much he struggled, he could not escape the firm grip of the soldier holding him. He turned and tried to bite. The man laughed and said something in Latin to him that he did not understand. His mother tried to come to him, having handed the baby to a neighbour, but a centurion knocked her to the ground. The boy heard him speaking to her in their language,
‘Don’t try that again or you’ll regret it. Your tribe deserves all the punishment we mete out after your attack on us. Those children will bring a fortune with their light hair. Never seen hair like that. Almost white. They’ll go mad for them in Rome.’
Then he understood that they would be very unlikely to escape and that, in all likelihood, he and his sister would be separated. Would some rich Roman buy them as pets? What would happen to them when they were no longer pretty children?
The legionnaire dragged the two children to where the boy saw a small group of others being guarded by more soldiers. This group consisted mainly of young boys and men over the age of ten, with a few of the prettier teenage girls. He could see no more small children on the group.
One of the girls, whom they knew quite well as she lived near to them, came and picked his sister up, soothing the sobbing child as best she could.
‘Hush, hush,’ she whispered to the little girl. ‘I’ll take care of you and your brother. I’m sure no one will hurt you.’
‘They killed my father,’ sniffed the boy, wiping his nose with his hand and then smearing it over his face as he wiped his eyes.
‘Yes, but they were punishing him for attacking their city. You haven’t done anything, so they won’t hurt you.’
‘Then why are they taking us from our mother and little brother?’
‘You’re both very pretty children, you know. They haven’t seen anyone with hair as light as yours, I don’t suppose, and they think you’ll bring them a lot of money.’
‘Then we’re to be slaves!’
‘Yes, I’m afraid so.’ she replied. ‘So am I, and these others too. They’ve taken all the boys of an age that might decide to try to take revenge, as well as a few of us girls.’
Just then, his mother managed to break away and she rushed towards the little group of slaves, calling out his name.
‘Adelberht, Adelberht. Look after your sister. Don’t let anyone hurt her.’
‘I won’t, Mamma. I’ll take good care of her. Odila’s here. She’ll help us.’
They crossed the river to the Roman fort of Mogantiacum. Adelberht did not notice much about the place, concerned as he was about their situation. He understood he and his sister would probably be bought by different people, and wondered how he could then fulfil his promise to his mother that he would look after her.
He felt a growing hatred for the Romans. They had first crucified his father, a terrible death for the young boy to witness, then taken him from his family, home and friends. He thought he would also have his sister taken from him at some time, so he subsumed his sorrow and fear by building his hatred of his captors.
The soldiers took the prisoners to a compound in one corner of the fort and locked them in. His sister, Avelina, had stopped crying and clung to Odila. He was glad of that, but wondered what would happen when she was not only taken from her mother, but from him too. Where would they take them to be sold? Would they be sold here or taken elsewhere? Maybe even to Rome itself. What was his mother doing? Was there any chance there would be a rescue party? Could he make a break, somehow rescue his sister and get back across the river? All these questions went through his head as he sat in the compound.
Soon, a legionnaire brought some food for them to eat and water to drink. He picked at the food, but drank some water. Odila tried to persuade Avelina to eat something, but the little girl still sobbed between the small mouthfuls the older girl managed to get into her mouth.
Eventually she fell asleep in Odila’s arms while still eating. The day’s events had all been too much for her. Adelberht himself began to feel tired, but before he went to sleep, he enumerated the reasons he hated the Romans.
‘They crucified my father: they took my family away from me: they took my home from me: they took my friends from me: they will probably take my sister from me.’
The next day Adelberht woke wondering where he was. Then it all came flooding back. Tears again pricked at his eyelids, but he determined he would never again cry because of a Roman. One day he would have revenge for all they had done to him. One day he would be free again. He would also find his sister and free her too, if they were separated. Wherever the Romans took her, he would find her. Then he would try to get back to his home across the Rhenus. He did not think about how he would carry out these plans. He would just take any chance he could when it came.
They sat in the compound all that day. The commander of the fort came and looked them over. He took a couple of the girls out and marched them over to his rooms. Adelbehrt wondered what was going to happen to them. Were they going to be sold separately from the rest? He thought about it for a while, then forgot about them as he tried to comfort his sister, who had begun crying again.
‘Don’t cry, Avelina,’ he told her, ‘Everything will be all right. Somehow we’ll get away and go back to Mamma.’
The little girl looked at him trustingly, and a half-smile appeared on her face.
‘Back to Mamma?’ she asked him. ‘I miss Mamma.’
‘Yes, so do I. It may not be soon, but one day we’ll escape these horrid Romans.’
‘I don’t like the Romans. They killed papa.’
‘No, I don’t like them either. We’ll get away sometime, I promise you.’
He did not know how or when he would be able to keep his promise to the little girl but he determined to do so, whatever the cost. He smiled to see his words had comforted Avelina somewhat, and that she had dried her eyes and sat more quietly.
Towards evening, the two girls, whom the commander had taken, returned to the compound. They entered the compound in tears. Adelberht wanted to ask them what had happened, but Odila kept him away from them. He wondered why, but she managed to distract him by talking about Avelina. The little girl had once again started to cry, seeing the tears of the two older girls, so he did not find out what caused their upset. He did notice one of the young men, who had been courting one of the girls before they were taken prisoner, became very angry and some of his friends held him back as he tried to attack one of the Romans.
Two days passed. Avelina cried less, but called for their mother in the night, every night. She also began sucking her thumb again. She had almost stopped that childish habit before their capture. Adelberht also missed their mother, but he stuck to his resolve not to allow the Romans to make him cry. Even when the tears pricked the backs of his eyes he managed to prevent them from falling.
Each day, the commander took one or two girls and they always returned crying. Sometimes one of the legates or centurions took a girl. They took Odila on the second day. When she came back, Adelbehrt asked her what happened, but she refused to talk of it. She seemed withdrawn after that, and sat in a corner with the other girls, not talking, but staring into space.
On the third day of their captivity, a civilian man came over to the compound with the commander of the castrum. He looked the slaves over and called for Adelbehrt and Avelina to be brought to him. He asked a few questions in Latin, which Adelbehrt did not understand, but assumed they were about him and his sister. Then the man smiled. The two men walked away, talking.
On the following morning, some men came and took all the slaves to the baths and stripped them. They washed them all thoroughly and took their clothes away. What would happen now? That question soon had an answer.
First, the men who had washed them took them to a building in the market. The man who looked them over the previous day came in. He ordered that the men take the girls out, with the exception of Avelina. Avelina cried out to Odila and tried to run to her but one of the slaves who had bathed them, grabbed hold of her as she ran past. The Romans had taken seven girls from the village, and shortly afterwards, a slave brought two of the less pretty ones back into the room. Odila was not one of them.
Adelbehrt heard them saying the others had been bought by a brothel. He did not know what a brothel was, and the others deflected his questions when he asked. He decided, when he saw the looks on the faces of the remaining two girls, that it could not be a good place. Something else to hate the Romans for. He mentally added ‘Taking Odila to a brothel’ to his list of reasons to hate them.
The man, who seemed in charge, hung a board around the neck of each slave. Adelbehrt later learned it gave some information about the slave, including his likelihood of running away or committing suicide as well as his name and where he came from.
They took the slaves out one at a time. He could hear noises of people calling out something outside, but could not understand the words. When a man brought the slaves back in he took them to a different part of the room where another man sat at a table. People came into the room, handed over money to the man at the table, and then left with their purchase.
Eventually their turn arrived. The slave merchant had left them until the last, and as they were led outside, Adelberht realised they were being sold as a single lot. He felt he could breathe once more. He could keep his promise to his mother to look after his sister.
The warm air met them and he felt the sun on his naked skin. Adelbehrt became embarrassed to be nude in front of the crowd filling the market place. He looked round and wondered at the large numbers of people still left, since all the slaves had been sold except the two of them.
The auctioneer picked Avelina up and another man did the same with Adelbehrt and held them so everyone could see the two children. The auctioneer spoke to the crowd and pointed at the children’s blonde hair.
A few aahs came from the crowd, then people began to call things out. Adelbehrt thought the people were making bids for them.
They were a popular lot, if the number of bidders was anything to go by, but soon almost everyone dropped out leaving just two men in the bidding. Eventually one of them held up his hand and turned away, thus indicating he had dropped out of the bidding. The man who had brought them out led them back into the room and gave them tunics to put on.
Their purchaser walked over to the man at the table and handed over a purse of money, which the cashier counted carefully, nodded and handed a paper to their new owner who then came over to them, took each by a hand and led them out.
Adelbehrt looked at this man. He was a tall, clean-shaven man with an aquiline nose and dark hair and eyes. He did not look unkind, but still the sort of man you would not want to annoy. He spoke to the children in a light tenor voice, but they did not understand him, so he called to a man standing near the door.
‘This man says he’s your master now and wants to know how old you are,’ the man interpreted.
‘I have seven summers and my sister four,’ answered Adelbehrt, quietly, looking down at his feet.
The interpreter spoke to their new master in Latin and then interpreted the next few sentences.
‘He says you are to be gifts for his wife and daughter. He’s on his way back to Britannia and you’re going to accompany him there. You’re to call him ‘Dominus’. That means ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’. You now have your first word of Latin. You’ll soon learn to speak it though, so don’t worry.’
‘I’m called Adelbehrt, and my sister is Avelina.’ Adelbehrt told him, not knowing his name had been on the scroll round his neck.
‘Well. Adelberht, you’ll be all right just as long as you do as you’re told, and show proper deference to your master and mistress. Good luck.’
And with that, he left them.
‘What’s going to happen now?’ whispered Avelina.
‘We’re going to Britannia. We’re presents for his wife and daughter, that man said. We must call the man who has bought us ‘Dominus’ and do as he says.’
Avelina began to cry. ’You said we’d go back to Mamma. You said you’d escape and take us back.’
‘We will still escape,’ he told her. ‘Somehow we’ll get away, but I can’t promise you it will be soon.’
To find out more about this book, and others I’ve written, go to My Books page.
Your comments are always welcome, so please add them to the comments box and I’ll get back to you.
From 23th to 27th August, The Stones of Earth and Air, Book 1 of Elemental Worlds will be free on Amazon.
To get your copy, click here.
Here’s a bit about it.
After the Crown Prince of Ponderia starts behaving strangely, his best friend Pettic discovers that the prince has been replaced by a doppelganger, and the real prince kidnapped.
Unable to accept the loss of his friend, Prince Torren, nor the cruel impostor to become the new king, Pettic sets on a quest to rescue his friend. After he sees the fake prince meet a mysterious man, Pettic discovers that the prince has been imprisoned in another plane of existence.
With the help of Blundo, the court magician, Pettic finds out that the only way to enter this another world are four keys, each of them associated with a different element. As Pettic sets on his seemingly impossible quest, he discovers that the four lands that hold the keys are all vastly different… and more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.
via “My Phantom Traveler” A story by Sheila Renee Parker.
I’m giving you a quick look at the next book in the saga that traces the history of a family from Roman Britain through the ages. The first book, already published, is called Vengeance of a Slave.
This second book takes place during the time of the Danish occupation of the East of England. It tells the tale of a young girl, a descendant of Adelbehrt from the first book. She is the daughter of an Anglo Saxon woman, descended from Adelbehrt, and her Danish husband. It’s called Revenge of a Viking
I hope you enjoy it. I’m currently on the first rewrite, but I hope to have it published by September, all being well.
As yet I have no artwork to go with it. Apologies about that.
Helgha bent down to pick some herbs she had been looking for. The sound of hooves came from around the corner of the track. She whirled around, her ash blonde hair whipping across her face. The forest was not a safe place, especially as it was getting dusk now. All kind of dangers abounded. A pack of wolves roamed not far away, and the threat of bandits was a very real danger. She should have been home already, but a clump of the herbs had caught her eye. They were just the ones she sought and she stayed to pick enough for her mother to use to prepare the medicines.
A man appeared from round a bend in the road, leading his horse. She backed towards the bushes at the edge of the track, hoping to make herself invisible to the man, but his eyes alighted on her as she whirled, her sudden movement giving her away.
‘Hey,’ he called, ‘Can you help me? I’m lost.’
Helgha backed further into the bushes, looking for somewhere to run. Perhaps this track, made by some animal would lead her to a wider one where she could make her escape. The man called again.
‘Stop, please. I won’t hurt you. I promise. I just want to find a way out of this infernal forest and back on the road to Jorvik.’
Helgha stopped. She could not go any further, anyway. A large bramble bush prickled her back, its thorns even penetrating the woollen cloak she wore.
The man had now reached where she had pressed into the bushes.
‘I understand why you’re afraid,’ he said, ‘but I’m not one to harm a young girl. Certainly not one as pretty as you.’ He smiled, making his grey eyes light up.
‘My name’s Erik,’ he continued. ‘I’m assuming there’s a farm or a village ahead and that’s where you’ve come from. I don’t expect you’re wandering the forest at dusk if you’re far from home.’
Helgha stepped out from the bramble bush, pulling her cloak free from the thorns that grasped the wool, trying to pull her back.
‘No, sir,’ she murmured. ‘My home is just a few minutes away.’
‘Then will you take me there?’
Helgha looked at the man. He was tall and had light brown hair, a beard and a long moustache as did most of the Danish men. His clothes looked of a good quality and his cloak an expensive brooch pinned his cloak.
He’s not a beggar, or even a poor man, she thought Having made the decision that she ought to help him, she nodded in answer to his question and began walking along the road, beckoning Erik to follow her.
He pulled his horse to get it walking again, and it shook its head before beginning to reluctantly walk forward. Helgha had been so busy trying to make herself invisible when Erik appeared she had not noticed the animal had an injured foot.
The girl walked over and patted the animal talking gently to it before reaching down to feel its foot.
‘She tripped over something and threw me,’ Erik said. ‘I hope she’s not hurt her leg badly. She’s a good horse and has served me well.’
Helgha smiled back at her companion.
‘Father will have a look when we get home.’ she replied. ‘Have you walked far?’
‘It seems like hundreds of miles,’ Erik replied, ‘but it’s probably only a few.’
‘How did you come to be lost?’
‘A group of us went out hunting, then my horse tripped and threw me. The others went on and I started back towards Jorvik, but must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.’
‘You must have done. We’re nearly a day’s journey from Jorvik.’
They continued to walk along the forest road that wound between tall trees, mainly oaks, with bramble and bracken growing beneath the canopies. The leaves had begun to turn a yellow-gold and many had dropped to form a carpet beneath their feet. The rustling of these dry leaves had alerted Helgha to Erik’s approach. They swished like the sound of waves on the beaches as the feet and hooves passed through them.
The smell of fungi made Helgha stop.
‘Wait a moment,’ she said, and rushed off towards a fallen tree trunk where she picked some fungi from its bark.
‘These are good to eat,’ she told Erik. ‘Mother will be pleased to have them.’
Then she continued walking without looking back to see if he followed her.
After a little while, the ground began to rise and soon the trees stopped altogether. Ahead was a cleared area around the top of the little hill. Fields surrounded the village with partially harvested crops growing in them.
As they reached the top of the hill a palisade with an open gate appeared This, then, was Helgha’s home.
A large longhouse stood in the centre of the village surrounded by smaller ones in the same style as the longhouse. All the houses had thatched roofs and were built of wattle and daub.
‘Tie your horse here, Erik,’ Helgha told him, ‘then come into the house. The Dane did as she bade him and followed her into the longhouse.
The pair entered through a door set in the middle of one of the longer sides of the building. Erik blinked in the darkness that met them. It seemed darker due to coming in from the light outside. His eyes quickly became accustomed and he looked round.
Inside, the longhouse was much as Erik expected. The fire pit lay in the centre of the single room. Smoke curled up towards holes cut in the thatched roof, These holes allowed light to enter as well as the smoke from the fire to escape. Three boys, all younger than Helgha, sat on a bench running along one side of the house. They were playing some sort of game. A similar bench ran along the other side where three women sat spinning, and weaving at an upright loom.
One end of the longhouse was closed off. Animals shifted around, and occasionally there came the lowing of a cow. At the other end another room had been closed off. This gave some privacy to the lord of the village and his wife.
A pot stood over the fire and a woman with ash blonde hair very similar to Helgha’s stood stirring it. Helgha’s mother, Erik deduced.
She straightened up and rubbed her back, then smiled at Helgha and said, ‘You’re back then. Who’s this you’ve brought home? And did you get the herbs?’
‘Here’s everything you wanted. I was lucky in finding them all today. I also found these mushrooms.’ Helgha handed over her basket and her mother put it to one side.
Helgha continued speaking as her mother dealt with the herbs and mushrooms.
‘This is Erik. I met him just as I started for home. He got lost. He was with a hunting party out from Jorvik and his horse threw him so he became separated from the rest. He was trying to find the road back to Jorvik when he saw me.’
Just then, the door opened to admit a tall man with light brown hair. He walked over to the fire and warmed his hands.
‘It’s getting cold in the evenings,’ he said. Then he noticed Erik. ‘Who’s this?’
Erik stepped forward and introduced himself. He told the man how he became lost in the forest and had been rescued by Helgha.
‘So, my daughter found another stray. This one’s a bit bigger than most.’ He laughed and put his arm round Helgha to give her a hug. ‘She has a kind heart and is always finding something that needs looking after.’ He turned to the girl. ‘You’d better go and see to that little fawn you brought home, although he’s not so little now. He’ll need to go back to the forest soon.’
Erik looked at the man. He was big and had the look of a warrior about him. He had a full and bushy beard and twinkling blue eyes that he now turned towards Erik.
‘Well, you can’t leave for Jorvik now. It’s going dark. It’ll take you nearly a day to get there. Stable your horse with the other animals. Over there.’ He pointed to the room that held some cattle and pigs.
Erik thanked the other man and brought his horse into the stable end of the house, through another door. Helgha’s father noticed the animal’s limp and followed.
‘Let me have a look at your animal. She seems to have hurt her leg.’
He knelt down and ran his hand down the leg. The mare shifted uncomfortably as the man touched a sore spot.
‘Well, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, he said. ‘It’s a bit bruised that’s all. Rabbit hole. was it?’
‘Yes, I think so. I didn’t really see properly. I was too busy getting up and looking where my companions had gone. Then I noticed she was limping, so I couldn’t chase after my friends.’
Although it was not very near the fire, the stable end of the house was warm due to the presence of the animals. When he had made his horse comfortable, Erik returned to the main part of the house.
Helgha’s father said, ‘Well, I know your name. You don’t know mine.’ He laughed. A loud and cheery sound. ‘I’m called Biorn. My wife is Aedelflaed. Helgha you know. Boys, come here,’ he called to the three sitting in the shadows. ‘This is Hartvigg. He’s seen eleven summers. Then there’s Laeff. He’s seen nine summers. Little Sighmund five. Helgha has fourteen, or is it fifteen. I forget sometimes.’
Aedelflaed shook her head. ‘I don’t know,’ she scolded with a smile at her husband. ‘She’ll be fifteen in three weeks time. You know that as well as I do.’
‘Well she’s fourteen now.’ argued her husband, and turned to Erik. ‘It’s late. You must stay here tonight and tomorrow. Give your horse chance to recover. Then I’ll show you the road to Jorvik. Your companions. Will they be anxious about you?’
Erik laughed. ‘I expect so, and when they return to Jorvik without me my father will no doubt punish them before sending them out to find either me or my body.’
When Aedelflaed served the stew, they all sat round eating. Erik noticed a shield hanging on the wall opposite him.
‘You were a warrior then?’ he asked Biorn.’ When did you come here?’
‘I came with the Great Army. We conquered this area. The Anglo-Saxons were weak fighters. It wasn’t too hard.’
‘And you decided to stay?’
‘Not straight away. I went back. Then I came again. I met Aedelflaed and stayed. The land is good here. Rich and fertile.’
‘Many came to settle here. My own family did. My father also fought with the Great Army and was there when they took Jorvik. He still tells tales of that battle, and how the Anglo-Saxons tried to fight back, and we killed their leader.’
Helgha sat looking at Erik throughout this conversation. She was trying to memorise his features. She knew when he left in a couple of days she would not see him again. She thought he was the finest man she had ever seen. He was handsome and tall with the body of a warrior.
He turned to look at her and she blushed. Erik smiled and that made her face heat up even more. He knew she liked him. That idea embarrassed her but why it did she was unsure. She was only a young girl, but she was of marriageable age. There were many girls her age who were married.
Her parents would find her a suitable husband, and she would endeavour to be a good wife, but she wanted to remember Erik. She could dream of him at night and imagine his kisses, but only if she could remember exactly how he looked. That was why she had been watching him carefully, noting how he held his head and threw it back when he laughed. She noted the way he smiled at the little boys and how his voice changed when he spoke to them. He loved his horse, too. she noted how he patted it and spoke in a low voice so as not to startle it. Yes, she had enough stored to remember this man who had come so unexpectedly into her life, and just as quickly was going to leave it.
That night as she lay in her bed, she wept silently for what could not be.
The next day, Erik went to examine his horse’s leg. It seemed less painful when he touched it, but it still made the animal toss his head and snort. He had hoped to be able to leave that day, but he did not want to harm his horse, and so he agreed with Biorn to stay one more night.
Helgha watched as Erik tended the animal. She stroked its soft nose and whispered to it as it shifted uncomfortably under Erik’s ministrations. She loved the horse. Its warm smell and brown eyes looking so trustingly at her. Erik looked up and smiled.
‘He likes you,’ he told her.
‘I like him, too,’ she replied. ‘I like all animals, but horses are special.’
Biorn came to speak to Erik. He looked at the horse’s leg and said he did not think Erik should ride him for a few days.
‘I need to get back to Jorvik, though,’ Erik said, getting up from where he had been kneeling while he looked at his horse’s leg.
Biorn thought for a moment.
‘Well,’ he said, scratching his beard, ‘I could lend you one of mine for a few days until yours is better. I’ll tend him well.’
Helgha could not help the smile that broke out on her face at this. Erik would need to return to get his horse. She would see him again.
Erik rode out later that morning on his borrowed horse and Helgha returned to her tasks dreaming of his return.
She spent time with Erik’s horse. She groomed him and took him apples. He welcomed her with a gentle whicker whenever she came near him. She leaned against his side and spoke gently.
‘You are so lucky,’ she told the horse. ‘He’ll come back for you. You’ll be living with him, seeing him every day. When he comes back it’ll be the very last time I’ll ever see him.’
The horse seemed to look at her with sympathy in his brown eyes. Or so Helgha thought as she returned reluctantly to her tasks.
When Erik returned for his horse, Helgha ran to take her father’s animal and lead it back to the barn. Erik walked with her and smiled down at her.
‘How is my horse?’ he asked.
‘He seems to be better,’ she replied, not daring to look at him in case she blushed. She could not let him see her blushes because she would never see him again after today. He had brought her father’s horse back and had only come to collect his own and then he would ride away forever.
Last week I published my review of David Kummer’s book, Until We Burn. This week, I have the pleasure of introducing you to David.
David is a promising young author, who has already published quite a number of books. He is one to watch for the future.His books are generally in the fantasy or horror genres.
Welcome to Dragons Rule OK, David.
1. What is the first book you remember either reading or having read to you?
One of the first books I remember my dad reading to me is C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. He would read two or three chapters a night, and we zoomed through all the books. I really enjoyed those, and still do, as well as the memories it brings.
2. Who is your favourite author?
My favorite author is Mark Edwards
3. What is your favourite book?
Probably “The Magpies” by Mark Edwards. It was surprising and I read it in two days.
5. Apart from writing, what is the thing you enjoy doing the most?
I play basketball quite a lot, and work. See below.
6. If you weren’t a writer, what job would you do?
I want to be an English teacher once I get out of college, probably for middle school or high school.
7. If you have a “proper” job, what is it?
I do landscaping. And most of the time the heat index is well over 100 degrees, so that’s fun.
8. Why do you write?
Honestly, I just enjoy it and it’s something that’s now a part of my everyday life. I’m so immersed in it, I don’t think I could separate without losing a part of myself.
9. How old were you when you published your first book?
I was 15 years old, but 14 when I wrote it.
10. Do you write to music? If so, what music inspires you?
Occasionally, I will listen to soundtracks while writing. But when I’m not writing, I’m constantly listening to music. I prefer Alt-Rock, and my favorite bands are the Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, and lately Arcade Fire. Also, Twenty One Pilots, who I saw in concert back when they were still a tiny band with no fans.
11. A question I can’t answer, myself. Where do you get your ideas from?
Most often, I get them from a setting I see. I’ve had one short story come from a dream. Usually, I’ll be in a situation and think “What if this terrible thing happened?” so then it does in my story.
12. Do you have any pets?
My family has two dogs, but at one time we had four. Also, two cats.
13. Are you a dog or a cat person?
14. When you go out to eat, what type of food do you prefer?
I like Chinese, or buffalo wings.
15. Do you prefer the city or the country?
I prefer small towns, like Hanover, Indiana where I live. Somewhere in between the country and the city.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you better, David.
You can contact David on the following links.
My blog- http://davidkummer.com/
Goodreads Account- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14106755.David_Duane_Kummer
Cyrus Street never forgot about his home. It was always in the back of his mind, with the memories, the nightmares. Alluring, always pulling him back. There were so many questions unanswered. Something he left behind.
When he finally returns, he’s drawn back into a world even worse than he remembers. Werifesteria, with its dark secrets and murky past, never changed. It remains a cesspool, a danger. There’s something about the town unnerving, yet enticing. It isn’t normal. It isn’t sane.
As soon as Cyrus steps back into it, the murders begin. He’s the only one can catch this madman, if he can only control his mind.
Everybody remembers the fire. Everybody remembers him. But there’s a darkness he’s buried inside his own head. And unless he can remember, the entire town will burn.
Cyrus Street returns to the town where he grew up. He returns to try to solve a mystery that had ruined his life.
15 years previously, the church in the town had burned down, killing, amongst many others, Cyrus’s young son. The fire had been arson, and he wants to find out who did it.
Helped by a young man from the town, he sets about trying to find clues as to the perpetrator of the crime. This becomes more important as murders begin to take place in the town, seemingly of people who were witnesses. Cyrus’s probing has worried someone.
David Kummer is a very talented young author. I found I couldn’t put the book down once I’d started it. He manages to grip the author and carry them along with him. It is a dark story, described as ‘psychological horror’, and I would go along with that description.
David Kummer has an insight into character unusual for one so young. His characters are real, and have both flaws and virtues. We find ourselves sympathising readily with them.
The ending is surprising. I thought I’d guessed the perpetrator, but I was wrong.
If I have a fault to find, it’s that at the end, we know who, but not why. There are also a couple of places in the book I was unsure about what had happened, but this did not spoil my overall enjoyment.
This is a young man to watch.
I gave it 4 stars on Amazon
Tomorrow, 20th July, Wolf Moon, the third part of The Wolves of Vimar after The Wolf Pack and The Never-Dying Man, will be free on Amazon. This offer is until 25th, so don’t miss your opportunity to get your copy.
This book follows adventures the five members of the group calling themselves Wolf, who had become separated from the others. They need to escape back to their homeland of Grosmer to tell of the plans they had discovered of the Leader of the land of Erian’s plans for war, after centuries of peace.
They have to travel through mountain caves where they discover a hidden people. They need to convince them to allow them to continue on their travels, as the people are afraid of being discovered by the outside world.
Can they manage it, and can they reach home in time to warn the King and his council before war breaks out?
This book, although part of a series, can be read as a one off, although, of course, it is better if you have read the other books. To buy the others, and claim your free copy, follow the links.
Other books by V.M.Sang are: