I’m excited to share a second excerpt from my upcoming sword and sorcery, action-adventure fantasy release.
In this excerpt, Kora meets her brother on his way home from school (Zac is eleven. Kora is seventeen).
It’s a fun scene because it reveals so much: Kora’s love for Zac, her fear for him, the uncertainty and turmoil in the kingdom of Herezoth after a sorcerer has killed the royal family.
The crisp weather spurred Kora on, and she traveled the half mile to Opal’s house in record time. She felt calmer when the compromising pages had slipped beneath Opal’s door. Then she went home to work in the vegetable garden out back. The morning dragged on, her meager lunch of bread and cheese doing little to shorten the minutes. Feeling restless, she left the house again that afternoon and met Zacry coming up the road, on time for once. His face was red and his expression a scowl.
Without a word he turned his back to her, and Kora gasped to see bloodstains on his shirt, across his shoulder blade. She spun him around to face her, her hands shaking.
“Guess what Mr. Gared taught this morning?” he said.
“Did he do that to you?”
“The Sorcerer’s Revolt.” Zacry kicked the dirt. “He called Hansrelto a hero and pioneer. I called Mr. Gared a liar, and he whipped me with a branch. Hansrelto honorable, really? Everyone knows he was Zalski before Zalski! Only he failed.”
Kora felt too sick to comment on her brother’s revelations. “Go home and get inside. Straight to your room. Don’t you upset Mother with this.” Zacry trudged on, and Kora altered her path to pass by the school.
She hadn’t stepped inside the schoolhouse in years. The place was much as she remembered, with dirty wooden floors, brick walls, and tables arranged in rows. Mr. Gared seemed all that had changed. His hair had grayed, and he wore wire-rimmed glasses now. He sat at the front of the room, planning the next day’s lessons at his desk.
“I assumed you’d come,” he said. “Take a seat.”
Kora marched up to him instead. “How dare you beat my brother?”
“Did I ever whip your classmates without reason?”
Kora’s eyes grew wide. “Zac spoke the truth!”
Mr. Gared again asked Kora to sit. She yanked a chair from behind the nearest table and threw herself into it.
“I realize my lesson today was different from the one you received.” He set down his quill, avoiding her eyes. “Your version was more accurate. I’ll admit that privately. The fact is, though your brother speaks truth, it won’t matter when they arrest him to shut his mouth.”
All Kora could think about was her brother’s bleeding back. “Zac’s future is my family’s concern.”
“I wish him well, but Zacry must learn there’s a time and place to vent frustration. God forbid he traverse the same path . . .”
Kora crossed her arms. “What path?”
Mr. Gared could no longer avoid eye contact. “I had a brother, Kora. He lived in the village and got involved smuggling goods from the capital, mainly lumber, but he said some things about the new government he shouldn’t have in a tavern—spoke about taxes. They dumped his body behind my house a week later.”
“They killed him over an offhand critique of tax policy?”
“No, dear. He broke under torture. Admitted the smuggling.” Though Mr. Gared’s voice was calm, he pounded the desk with a fist. “They went too far in their fun, actually. He should have hanged by the current law. Zacry, now, is a bold boy, and curious. Clever, like my brother. I, myself, don’t claim bravery. I teach what I’m forced to teach, and it disgusts me. But the children learn truth at home. I teach them not to stand out. Can you deny your brother draws attention?”
Kora couldn’t. Though Mr. Gared’s story evoked her sympathy, everyone knew somebody lost to Zalski. She began to feel more uncomfortable than angry. “I fear that sending my brother home bleeding will only make him more outspoken, not out of pride, but out of principle.”
Mr. Gared nodded. “Principled he is.” His voice grew quieter. “Perhaps next time I’ll speak with him in private instead.” Kora thanked him, for she was sure there would be a next time. She left the schoolhouse feeling powerless to impress caution on her brother.
If you liked this except, you might enjoy this one as well.
Please consider liking my Facebook page, and PLEASE spread the word to the fantasy fans in your life, age 13 and up, that “The Crimson League: The Fight for Hope” launches on June 15 on Amazon!
You might also like to read my recent posts
- Doing the grunt work feels thankless . . . but it’s actually magical
- What the pícaro?
- A look into an author’s mind a week before launch day
- What the graveyard scene in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” taught me about high stakes action scenes
- Character Spotlight: Zalski Forzythe, because everyone loves a good villain
Leave a Reply