Summer Excerpts – Theme of the Week

June 29, 2016 at 1:10 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

SEU2I have a busy summer, with extra jugger, gardening, swimming/beach trips, vacations and overtime at work all added to my plate. I thought this year, I might start regular posts of excerpts matching a theme – so I don’t end up with huge gaps between posts. Since I’m revving up for a trip out of country, I thought I’d start with a theme of “travel.”

My first excerpt, from my novel “Sleep Escapes Us” come from Chapter 4 – Refuge:

Zelmis spent many days weaving his way through the forest as fast as he could manage, in order to make his way back to Gil-Doba. He still had hopes of stealing back his Alina, without getting caught and punished for his crimes. Not that he expected Dentys to mistreat her, but the longer he waited, the more likely the peltast would be lurking in ambush for him when he arrived, or even worse – Muka would be there to confront him. At the moment, that was Zelmis’s greatest fear.

He worried that even with the hastiest approach, he would arrive too late. The peltast would have the advantage of travelling by horseback and they would not have to worry about where they would find food, drink and shelter for the night, all citizens obliged to provide them with hospitality when asked for it. Zelmis had to journey on foot, often having to deal with near impassable terrain, and sometimes having to stop to seek out running water or to take shelter from inclement weather.

Fortunately, Zelmis had two regular permanent shelters in the woods in which he lived during the hunting season, one located fairly close to the Bucagi Mountains. That allowed him to shuck off the bloodied ceremonial clothing that he had been forced to wear for the sacrifice and change into some spare winter garb he kept for colder temperatures. Travelling in them would be uncomfortable, he would perspire heavily and risk overheating because the weather was still quite mild, but better that than exposing himself for his crimes by walking about wearing Zalmoxis’s blood. As long as no one identified him as the man who had been selected in the lottery, he would not be turned in to the peltast.

He also kept spare weaponry in his shelters, and gathered up one of his extra spears as well as a bow and a quiver of arrows. That allowed him to keep himself fed along the way; otherwise he would have succumbed to hunger long before reaching Gil-Doba. He made do with as little as he could to get by, each hunting effort presenting a delay in his rush to get home. By the time he did arrive at his village, he looked like a wild-man, as ungroomed and as haunted as Cerzula, and leaner than he typically was – not that he was a large man to begin with.

Zelmis smelled the smoke in the air while he was still quite a distance from Gil-Doba and he could see a glow through the foliage and hear the screams before he broke through the trees. He did not go into the village, but merely hovered by the tree-line, watching the chaos erupting in the settlement and observing with shock and horror. Someone was attacking Gil-Doba.

The first thing that Zelmis wondered, as his heart sank into his stomach, was if what he had done had somehow been the cause of all of this. Without the support of Zalmoxis behind the troops from Gatae and the surrounding regions, they might have fallen before the enemy, who were now infiltrating the spaces within their borders. If that were the case though, he was surprised that they would have already made it to Gil-Doba, a very central location.

The second and much more painful notion that crossed the hunter’s mind was that the raiders may have already reached and invaded Muka’s home, raping Dentys and killing the children. He reminded himself of Cerzula’s words, that he was to give the scroll she had given him to Alina upon his death-bed and that he would see her grow to maturity. As long as the seer’s foresight held true, his daughter was alive, and he would see her again.

He had to choke back a sob at the thought, withdrawing into the bush as some of the flames surged before him, fanned by the wind. He was convinced that he had to reach Alina now more than ever, if only to make sure that she was safe. Just because she would live to adulthood did not mean she was not at risk of suffering horribly at the hands of the enemy.


I’ll try to post one of these every day – even on my own travels.  That’s all for now.

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