As To Kill A Curse comes out TOMORROW, I thought I’d share a couple of small excerpts. 🙂
Excerpt 2 – Chapter 9, To Kill A Curse (Inside Evil series, Book 5 finale)
It didn’t take long for the tea to take effect, and soon Susan saw transparent limbs moving away from her physical body. She’d found it scary at first; the splitting process. But now it was exhilarating. Such lightness, such fluidity, such clarity of thought. She stood, and looked to where Sam was staring at her, no doubt wondering whether she’d left her body yet. He glanced around the room, but she knew she was invisible to his eyes now.
Focussing her full attention on the bag on the floor, Susan reached out for it, determined she’d be able to lift it the first time. She failed, and her fingers flowed straight through the handle several times before there was even the slightest connection. Finally, she managed to snag the cloth strap upon her finger and used all the strength in the world to hoist the bag to her shoulder, watching the amazement on Nastasia and Sam’s face as she did so. To them, the image of the floating bag must be quite a sight.
Monty had already completed his work, and the web was prepared. As she approached the mirror, he ran across the top of the frame, twanging each strand of silk as he passed and causing the small purple droplet to descend the full length of the glass. Within moments, the reflective surface was no more, replaced instead with a swirling glassy mass of sticky material that clung to her as she stepped through. And then, as it bounced back into shape, Susan left Earth and entered the Middlelands.
As soon as she set foot in the world that acted as a thin veil between Earth and Gathin, that prevented the two realms from explosively colliding and obliterating one another, she realised something was wrong. The pale yellow light of the world was thin, as if it had been watered down somehow. A howl filled the air, but not one that emanated from a creature, but from the beast of nature itself. Susan followed the noise, wandering through her wooded surroundings and crunching across the pine needle covered floor. The roar of the fir trees above was something she was used to; on Earth and in the Middlelands it had its distinctive sound. But this was something different; a howl, the juddering thunder of a great storm.
She walked onwards, not sure where she was going, but undeterred nonetheless. Martha had become lost in this place, but it didn’t seem important now that so many of them were gone. It was imperative she complete her task, that she return to Earth with the knowledge of what to do, how to save them. But what if she didn’t? What happened if she too became lost and weak and starved? She pushed the thought aside; she could not dwell on such matters.
In time, the ground beneath her feet became steeper, and Susan realised she must be following the path trodden by so many before her. Her inclination was correct as, ten or so minutes later, she emerged on the precipice that overlooked the vast forested landscape ahead. She’d been here before, of course. In the real world. In her world, but never in the Middlelands. She saw immediately that the roaring noise she’d heard, and the sound she’d become so sure was not from that of the wind in the canopy, in fact came from a great tear in the sky. Her skin pimpled as she felt the cold air whirling around her and saw the jagged slice falling from the heaven to earth as if a lightening bolt had been captured and caught in an eternal attack. From where she stood, Susan couldn’t work out whether air was rushing in or out of the bright void, but the noise was deafening as the atmosphere smashed, battered and tore at the edges. As she looked on, the roaring increased and one edge of the hole tore further. For the most miniscule of moments, the forest was silent and then, where the additional rip had formed, the most ear-splitting sound, as if an aircraft had exploded and sent its engines to a fiery end, filled the air. She couldn’t help but be bowled backwards by the sound, and she found herself against the trunk of a large pine that vibrated ferociously under the onslaught of the noise. Whatever the Queen had done, it seemed their worst fears had begun to happen; the fragile boundary between their worlds was fracturing.
Except 2 – Chapter 13, To Kill A Curse (Inside Evil series, Book 5 finale)
“Why were you on the North Realm’s side of the boundary?”
Roberta looked across to the two riders just above her eye level. They rode a black mare, her mane flecked with dust from the flat landscape they were meandering across. There was not a tree in sight, just a few measly shrubs here and there that sprang up in clumps amidst the fields of cereal that spread out in every direction. She’d been told they were about to cross the ‘Golden Belt’, and now she saw why.
The man holding the mare’s reigns continued with his work, but the other looked across to where Roberta and her motley crew sat in the back of the small cart, being jostled as the wheels bumped and clattered their way along the dry road.
“Rumours abound about you….about your copy,” he corrected himself, eyeing her carefully. Since she’d been freed from her chains, life had become a lot easier. That was not to say that each and every member of the procession didn’t still dissect her with a wary eye. There was less hostility, though it was clear on their faces that this was an act of will rather than natural disposition. Many simply avoided any interaction with her at all, whilst she caught others, such as the teenager, snatching glances at her when they thought she wasn’t paying attention.
“And you thought you’d just ride straight into Hilltree outright? She’d have never allowed that.”
“You think us all fools,” the man growled lowly. “You’re no better than that witch of yours.”
“I don’t think that at all, actually. It just struck me, in fact, that you’re too intelligent to think she’d have just bowed down before you.”
The man stared back as their journey continued, pausing to ruminate on her words before continuing.
“We have spies. Guess it don’t matter now who knows. One of our major informants failed to check in with us. We were sent to find out what was happening. We weren’t there for your rescue, before you think it. You were in the right place, at the right time.”
“Forgive me if I’m not exactly seeing things in the same light,” Roberta said frankly, realising the man’s idea of rescuing was very different from her own.
“You’d be in the belly of a wolf if it weren’t for us.”
“And instead I’m in the belly of this raiding party.”
“Raiding party?! You think us fools and a raiding party?” The man’s eyebrows arched in offence. “I’ll have you know, we are the Royal Boundary Guard! Each of us is here by official appointment.”
“If that’s true, I fail to see how you can’t compare yourself to us,” Sesane said dryly. “You call us North Realm scum, thieves, beggars, the uneducated scabs of life. And yet you expect me to believe that someone like Garner, or Antane, was royally appointed to this Royal Boundary Guard?” She mocked her last words, taking care to sarcastically imitate the man’s pride when it had come to naming his regiment.
“To the hells with you.”
The man nudged his comrade, who jabbed his sharp-spined boot into the mare’s side, causing her to trot quickly off amongst those ahead.
“Whatever got underneath his skin?” Sesane said with a smile upon her face as she nestled back against the timber frame of the cart. “I’m not sure why you even bother talking to them. We may be out of chains, but we’re far from free.”
“I was trying to gather some information,” Roberta said with slight exasperation. “Emily, you said it yourself, we’re getting through to them, getting them to realise we’re not the enemy. What’s wrong with a little fishing spree?”