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Mark_Brisby

Excerpt from "Untoward" (My Fantasy Novel) - Your WRITES

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Mark_Brisby
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I sighed but followed him down the cart trail that led to the road. It was a good hike on foot, but the stars sparkled above us – enow light for vision despite the darkness of the new moon. A chill breeze encompassed us, pleasing and stirring to both body and mind. It helped me stay awake as I trudged in the middle of the night beside my uncle.

“So what is it?” I asked him, looking up and noticing just how hairy he was. The wispy white froth enveloped his entire head, growing shaggy due to the weight of it and the conditions of the road. There were parts of the mass that still looked golden, but not many.

“Ye wanna know what happened to me, Daumis?” Jedric asked me intently but also with a slight absentmindedness as he glanced about. “Ye wanna know where I been these last few suns?”

“Yes!”

“All right then,” my uncle coughed. “I was in a Corvan prison.”

I practically yelped I was so stirred-up. “Wherefore?!”

“Falsely accused, thank ye very much! An’ don’ go a-tellin’ no one else. I ain’ tellin’ them; I’m tellin’ ye.”

I gulped. “Very well, so what happened?”

“Let’s just say that there was a beautiful lady involved, an’ let it be.”

I grew indignant at the lack of knowledge he provided. “So if ye ain’ gonna talk about it, then why are ye tellin’ me?”

“Shhh! Keep yer voice low.” There was another series of furtive glimpses about before he carried on. “Anyway, there are some men approachin’ from the woods, comin’ down the road at a swift pace. I saw ‘em from the roof.”

“What were ye doin’ up there?”

“Lookin’ for trouble. If’n they ain’ followed me, then ye’re in for a birthday treat. If’n they’re lookin’ for me, then I need my favorite nephew to vouch for what-so-ever I tell ‘em.”

“It’s my birthday right now,” I coldly spoke.

“I know, but I gotta use ye for a bit. Ye don’ want ‘em to take me away, now do ye?”

I sighed. “No, it’s fine. I’ve just always been able to tell when it’s my birthday, is all. I have this sickness in me. My heart and my stomach ache somethin’ awful. Not only that, but I can feel it deep down in my bones. Each sun I think it’s gonna be diff’rent, but it’s always the same.”

“It’s because of yer mother,” the minstrel spoke after a moment, dry but with a soft touch. “Just remember her, Daumis. Remember what she did for ye. She died to bring ye life.”

“I know that!” I snapped, tired of people reminding me how my birth had been the end of my own mother. I knew what I did without the need of those painful prompts. I felt rotten enow as it was.

“I just mean to say that it’s a large, powerful thing she did for ye. That’s gotta mean somethin’. No wonder ye can feel it.”

The silence between us that followed was filled by crickets as we marched down the trail, eventually arriving at a copse of oak trees that grew in a close-knit circle. We entered the scrub passing the large, bushy shrubs that surrounded it, providing ample coverage. My brothers and I had often used this spot to hide and spy on the road in case something interesting should ever come along. My uncle and I now both leaned against separate trees and watched the road that led from the southern forest, from the Enz Mountains and the country of Oliad. The road went right past our hiding place and continued on to Thesaale, the nearest town ruled by our local lord, Duke Shirad.

Suddenly three men emerged from the night, cresting a hill not too far down the road from us. They trotted upon black steeds, their hoof-falls a queer cadence. All three men wore black cloaks, boots, and breeches. The lead man was older and more distinguished than the other two. The stave he carried tucked under his arm was made of yew and had a crystal orb at its head, alight with blue fireflies. The other two were far younger, but they were also confident and proud. I could not see their faces due to the dark masks that they wore, but one could tell by their hair and hands the apparent difference in the ages of the leader from his followers.

Long after they had passed and could be seen cresting a distant hill, Uncle Jedric turned to me and beamed down a relieved grin.

I continually shifted my gaze from my uncle to where the men had disappeared down the road. “So – they um – ain’ after ye. So – who was they?”

The minstrel put on his “performance façade” and lowered his voice to an eerie whisper. “From the Halls of Desolation and Destruction, deep within the surface of Orfe, clawed up from the bowels of rottin’ morality and putridly wretched ideals – they be those cursed with wickedness and magic, my dear nephew. They be – the Deymen!”

“Horse frit!” I swore, not believing a word of it. “Who was they truly?”

My uncle’s face grew as dark as the Abyss, and a mighty frown conquered all other features on his wrinkled landscape. “Do no’ swear! ‘Less ye want to a-shame yer poor mother. She did no’ give her life for ye to become a fool with words. Honor her memory by stayin’ a good boy.” He quickly toasted his dead sister and took a giant swig from his bottle. Then he belched.

I decided to ignore his request since he didn’t want to hear about that again. “Are they truly Deymen?”

Uncle Jedric was so confident in his answer. “Would I lie?”

I felt it best to just shrug. “And where’s the Abyss?”

“Ye should know that,” the minstrel lightly chided me as he suddenly left the copse of trees behind – heading back to the house. “It’s ‘neath the ground, leagues below us. One don’ hope to see such a hideous thing, save for them Deymen. Some say that they’ve even perched their ugly city right on its edge, but ye canno’ believe aught that ye hear.”

“I mean to say, where’s the way in?”

Uncle Jedric was quite the performer, and with the aid of his libations, he became very theatrical with how he spoke. “Only those unfortunate enow to be taken by ‘em learn the answer to that. Pray that ye never learn!”

“Deymen only take children on the day they turn thirteen,” I informed him of what everyone already knew.

“Which is today for ye,” the minstrel commented. “I’d keep low and quiet all the day, were I ye.”

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If you reading this extract, "Untoward" is available through Amazon and Kindle as well as Barnes and Noble dot com.

Thank you for your interest.


Mark_Brisby
Posted

Another Extract from "Untoward":

Night brought us to a spooky ravine with a cave in the back. It was set far away from the road and heavily forested despite the rash difference in the height of the ground. Moss and cobwebs covered every branch, and there was no sign of animal life. It seemed like a forgotten place. No one would find us there.
We were shoved into the cave and made to kneel while our bonds were momentarily released and then reattached, our hands now clasped behind our backs. After that we were pushed aside, told to stay in the cave, and then completely ignored for the rest of the night.

The men set out to build a fire and take care of their horses. Soon the Deymen removed rations from their packs, and the men sat about the fire, chewing hungrily upon game meat and gulping down huge mouth loads of water. I could smell the meat as it was cooked over the fire, and both of our stomachs rumbled in protest.

I turned to Daumis and asked, “Why did you try to save me? I mean to say, how did you know that it was me that the Deymen were after?”

Daumis shrugged. “I canno’ tell ye. I just saw it. Ye had a somethin’ about ye.”

“Like clouds?” I asked hopefully.

“No, just a glow, like ye were in the middle of a fire. It were gold, an’ it shimmered to spite the false night.” Then Daumis sank to his side and tried to go to sleep. It didn’t look very comfortable, so I decided to stay awake as long as possible. Besides there were crawling things in caves at night, and I didn’t fancy anything slithering up my nose or in my mouth.

The next morning found me curled up against the cave wall, arms still bound behind me, drooling upon the rock. I awakened easily, but Daumis proved much more difficult.

Maron slapped him athwart the face. When the boy startled finally, the Deyman grabbed him and roughly hoisted him to his feet, dragging him out of the cave and to the cart. Maron then quickly tied the boy’s bonds up to the railing.

“Troublesome, little brat,” Maron grumbled, spitting in his face. “You’re the worst scum I’ve ever had to handle, but rest assured that I will enjoy your screams and sorrows as we break you.” The Deyman turned and stomped away, climbing aboard the driver’s seat.

Daumis wiped the spit on his already filthy sleeve. “What’s stuck to his burr?”

“You wouldn’t wake. They thought you were being difficult. Were you? It might be safer if we don’t become a nuisance to them.”

“I ain’ troublin’ ‘em none. I was dreamin’.”

I didn’t believe him. “You might as well stop trying to annoy them; I fear what consequences we’ll suffer at their hands.”

Daumis looked as if he were angry. “Are we just to go with ‘em quietly?”

“We could be still and quiet,” I whispered. “We can learn much more before we act.”

“We ain’ got long afore all the people that love us is far beyond our reach.”



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