I come bearing gifts! A blogpost containing something other than book reviews. Scream and shout for joy!
I just passed the 25k mark on the Viking story yesterday. It’s both exhilarating, and depressing. Eight months of working on this thing and that’s all the farther I’ve gotten? Then again, fifteen thousand of those words were written in the last month and a half. So I’m gonna focus on that.
With that lovely milestone fresh off my keyboard, I thought it would be fun to share some snippets from the story.
If you haven’t already heard the gist of the story, here is the unofficial blurb.
When a band of raiders descend on the island, kidnapping all of the healers, Ailith is willing to do anything to get her mother back—even sail with the invaders to their country to try and stop the sickness that is sweeping through their people. But the kingdom’s own witch doctor has other plans. The healers’ success means her downfall, and she doesn’t intend to lose.
The bone hooks are smooth from heavy use and click together as I work. The gurgling is the river and rustling leaves creates a steady music the musicians are always trying to imitate but can’t come close to.
It should bring calm to my soul, but instead it feels like the river is flowing through my stomach, and my thoughts are as stable as the water.
There’s another sound on the wind. Faint and distant. It’s rhythmic and haunting, like a chant, but I can’t identify any words. I tip my head, trying to hear more, but it’s gone in the next gust, just a trick of the wind and my tangled emotions.
Keavy jerks toward the trees suddenly, her wings poised ready for flight. A horse nickers above the noise of the falls.
I freeze and scan the shadowed tree trunks along the river. There is nowhere to hide and I slide my sword from its scabbard slowly, careful not to let the metal ring.
“Put that away.” Kade rides out of the trees, leading another horse.
“You’re supposed to be with the boys.” I yank my collar back into place so he doesn’t see the bite. We don’t have time to take care of it.
“I’m not their shield partner.”
He lets out a long low whistle and four Stri materialize from the brush like spirits taking on flesh. They appraise me with wary eyes and I told perfectly still. This is no time to make any sudden moves.
“She says she’s alone,” my captor says. “Make sure.”
“Do you think she’s the traitor?” A ruddy faced boy with flaxen hair asks. He doesn’t look old enough for the earring marking him as an adult, but the bloodlust in his voice is no child’s.
As a little girl I’d always thought he was unbreakable, but he’d cried. He’d cried for days and I remember how badly it scared me. My best friend was undone and wounded in a way all of Mim’s healing couldn’t fix. And I vowed to protect him from ever being hurt like that ever again.
I turn to the young man. “He’s my shield partner. We’ll be back by tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t think you realize who is in charge here.” He smiles patronizingly, like I’m a stupid child who won’t learn her lessons. “You be back by morning. He’s staying here. If you get any bad ideas about trying to bring poison instead of medicine, or trying to get help, he’ll be right here with me to suffer the consequences.”
There is a place for a bonfire, and someone arrives moments later with a forth and lights the wood that’s already waiting. I squint against the dancing flames but there’s nothing about the cracklings sparks that is reassuring. The heat reaches for my skin, and sweat slicks my brow. The tongues lick hungrily at the air, waiting for an offering of human flesh. And the light illuminated the rough wooden benches surrounding us, offering a perfect view of the entire spectacle.
Coilin pushes the door open and motions me forward. “Let’s go before someone changes their mind and decides to kill you now.”
I tuck the bag of herbs under my arm. “Right behind you.”
My hand slides around the knife in his belt and the blade hisses as I whip it out of its sheath. “You’re not going to stop me.” I swing into the saddle and point the knife at him. “I’m going.”
He stares at me and I meet his gaze, waiting for a challenge, or an attempt to take the knife back. But he just shakes his head and mounts his own horse. “I’m coming too.”
“They told me I have to come alone,” I protest. I can’t afford to anger them in any way.
“Then I’ll wait out of sight. I’m not letting you charge into a band of murderers with my knife and a pack full of herbs as your only defense.”
Their leader walks toward me, but the witch intercepts me first. Her painted black lips part, revealing teeth filed to wicked points. “So much work, just to pay for your own death.”
“Ani.” The leader sets a hand on her shoulder and juts his chin back toward the group. “Let us see what she has to offer before you go tearing her throat out, hmm?”
She casts him a heated look beneath her kohl caked lashes, but the corner of her mouth curls up in the faintest of smiles. “I can wait.”
Bile rises in my throat and I pull back on the reins. “We have an agreement.”
He turns to me and smiles. “So we do. But I also have an agreement with her, and I happen to love her.”
“You came alone?” Kade asks, and I glance over at Arran.
He nods. “The elders couldn’t get anything out of the warrior they captured. He didn’t speak our language. They wanted to go after them, but with so many in our village gone there weren’t enough. A rider was heading for Cladach for help when I left.” His eyes slide over to mine. “I was worried about you.”
“I’m touched,” Kade says flatly.
I’m so happy this story is finally starting to take shape and come together. My goal was to have it done this month but...that might be a bit lofty. We shall see what happens.