Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Exerpt, unedited... from Underground: The Day of the Sun.

Sweat chilled. A breeze eddied between the avenues of grass. Sinking onto his heels, Caleath tried to fathom the forces at work.
He bit his bottom lip, grasped the smooth wood and fought an urge to cast the ensorcelled stick into the Abyss.
Between heartbeats, darkness shrouded the open grassland. Red sky swirled to black. Crows of evil cawed encouragement, while his spirit transferred to another plain. Knowing he risked losing his way, he turned to meet his host.
Greetings Deathbringer, welcome to my realm.” The voice of a sorceress sent the breeze scurrying.
“I have come for the boy.” At Caleath’s feet ground flowed, advancing and receding like water at the edge of an ocean. “Give him back.”
He is content. Curiosity is a wonderful thing, don’t you think.”
Crows flocked to provide foliage to a naked tree. Branches spread to encompass the sun. Streaks of bloody light etched an image in the darkness. Depicted in warm tones, Simon leaned forward beside a fireplace, to hear every word spoken by an attentive and attractive woman. Around the figures dragons bated. Armies marched and heroes died as tableaux out of history replayed on demand.
“Your magic is flawed. The snare should not trap those who embrace magic, witch’s spawn.” From whispering wind and garrulous grass, Caleath sought answers. From the murmur of the moving morass at his feet and the chorus of crows around his head, he gathered information.
Caleath recognized the taint of Sorathii. The wraith entertaining Simon had been Madrigan’s sister. Her tragic life, spent ostracized and alone like Mortimer, twisted her spirit. She trapped Aruven travelers passing by her cottage, to keep her company and work her fields. They would not suffer while they remained without talent. Simon, talented but inexperienced had succumbed to the sorcerer’s trap.
“I must destroy your memory unless you release him, now.”
Leave him, no one will miss him. He provides company. He yearns to hear my tales. My secret.”
“You no longer live. You cannot keep him here. His life has not yet begun, witch. Yours ended years ago. Give him up.”
My name was Marianne. Abide a while Deathbringer, I know many souls are eager to meet you again.”
“I have no desire to waste time conversing with you.” As he spoke, the ground surged over his feet. Like a rising tide, each successive swell left him standing deeper in Marianne’s earth.
“Don’t play with me Marianne; I am in no mood to stay.”
Fluid ground closed in around ethereal calves. Trying to step free only speeded the tidal movement. His feet now stood firm, rooted in Marianne’s world.
“Simon.” Rather than allowing panic to blossom and grow, Caleath folded his arms and closed his eyes. “Simon!”
He won’t hear you.”
“Won’t or can’t?” Caleath opened one eye. The crows lifted into the air and began circling. “I am not leaving without him and I am not staying, Marianne. Your time is up.”
A wave of earth crashed and broke around his waist. Caleath lifted his hands and placed his spread palms on the surface of the ground. No power flowed through the conjured dirt. His heart skipped a beat. Ethereal sweat beaded on his brow. Marianne laughed with the voice of her crows when he glanced around.
No threats? Come, I enjoy a challenge, Deathbringer. Will you wager your soul for the boy’s freedom?”
“Not with you, wraith. Not without a little extra incentive.” Caleath dug his fingers into dirt and let the grains trickle through his fingers. Breathing became difficult but he could not yield to the witch’s whim. “The secret you have hoarded, give it to the boy and I will consider your challenge.”
Never!” Her screech shattered darkness. Limbs buckled and broke from the single tree. Slivers of light pierced Marianne’s dark sky. Diamonds of denial mocked the beauty of a starry night. Crows rose and scattered when the earth beneath them began to boil. Tasting sulphur dioxide as he struggled to breathe, Caleath’s arms sank into the rising turbulence. Crushed feet burned. Scorched legs and abdomen resisted increasing heat and pressure. Being in spirit form offered no respite from inconvenience.
“Tell Simon he must learn why you hoard knowledge. You have waited for this moment. You cannot pass on this chance to justify your life. Madrigan has given Simon his support, Marianne.”
You lie. Madrigan despaired of ever having a chance to retaliate. While the red sun gives strength we cannot prevail.”
“Help the boy. Release me and I promise to see your dream come to fruition.” Caleath clutched at the possibility of Marianne not knowing the significance of events taking place since her death. The specter seemed too eager to share her version of history with Simon.
Can you?” The fireplace in the image flickered and light waned as if color leached from an ancient tapestry. “Is it time?”
“Do you want to risk a wager?”
Underground: The Day of the Sun... coming in February 2012 from Museitup Publishing.

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