Unnormal Normalcy

Just News and Ramblings From Your Average Author

Time for a Teaser!

Here is yet another fun feature I decided to add: Teaser Tuesday! I’ve noticed this around other writers’ blogs and thought “Hey, I’m gonna do that too!” (So, no, not an original idea of mine). This is only going to happen on the first Tuesday of the month, though. So don’t expect this every week!

Anyway, the first feature is Chapter 10 of Vows. Enjoy!

Vows From Darkness – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The day that the envoy was expected to arrive, Coulta waited at the city gate, sitting atop the wall and gazing out over the land beyond. It was a long wait – he saw no signs of the approaching group of horsemen until dusk had begun to set in.

Coulta watched them enter the city gate below him, and counted twelve men in total. Eleven of them wore red uniforms, and one of those eleven wore a golden cord of rope tied from his left shoulder across his body to his opposite hip – clearly, he was the captain. Riding beside this man, at the head of the group, was a man dressed in blue and tan. He also had a cord of rope draped across his body, but it was thicker and there was blue braided into the gold – a mark of higher station, Coulta assumed. All the soldiers, even the captain, wore helmets of silver metal, but the envoy did not – his chestnut hair shone in the setting sun. He was also the only man in the group who was clean-shaven.

Coulta couldn’t help staring with wonder at the site of them. They must have stopped before reaching the city to groom their horses, because they all gleamed far more than any steed ridden for a week could have. They were clearly there to remind Varin who was truly in control of the city.

The group moved down the street and Coulta followed silently on the rooftops. As he had expected, they stopped at the best inn the city had to offer. Coulta knew the layout well. There was a tavern on the ground floor, above which there was a floor with two large group sleeping rooms, and on the top floor were two smaller group rooms that could fit five men each, and two private rooms. He was fairly certain the group would take the top floor.

He waited and watched from the roof across the street, crouching in the shadows and willing himself not to be seen. The men stabled their horses in a public stable beside the inn, and made their way into the tavern. Coulta slipped soundlessly from his post and found a place where he could watch from a closer vantage point, still hidden in shadow.

He could see a large portion of the tavern from his new location – the shutters were wide open – and, as he had expected, the soldiers were already busy getting drunk and flirting with the girls working inside. Though he kept track of what the soldiers were up to, his gaze returned frequently to the envoy – Wildas – and the captain, who were speaking to the innkeeper.

Moments later, coins changed hands and the two guests made their way upstairs carrying several traveling packs with them. The captain had removed his helmet, and Coulta saw a graying head of hair that had previously been covered.

As they went up the stairs, Coulta climbed easily onto the stable roof, which allowed him to see into the window on the second level. As expected, the men did not stop there. So Coulta grabbed the handholds he had planted in the wall the night before. These allowed him to climb up to just below the window and rest almost comfortably there to listen.

Luckily for him, the men chose to enter that room and not the other private room at the opposite end of the building. Coulta heard them enter and glanced up to see the window gradually grow lighter as candles around the room were lit with one they had brought with them from downstairs.

“Oh, let the men have their fun,” the older man was saying. “They’re soldiers, Wildas. They’ve spent a week on the road, away from the comforts of ale and female companionship.”

“If what I have been told of these Arren whores is true, they’re likely to be leaving a part of themselves here when they leave,” Wildas grumbled.

Coulta could hear them moving around, as if they were getting their things organized while they conversed.

“Soldiers make hard choices.”

“I’ll pretend you never made that pun.”

There was a laugh from the older man.

“Uncle Decus, do you think Varin knows we’re here?”

The captain was serious again as he answered, “I’m sure he has his spies. We won’t know until you speak with him tomorrow. And if he does know, there’s nothing we can do.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“I’ll keep an eye on the men, you get some rest, Prince.”

Coulta’s eyes went wide and he nearly gasped out loud. Prince?

He knew then that he couldn’t make himself kill the man. Even knowing that Varin had ordered it, he couldn’t make himself climb up through the window when the man was left alone. Instead, he climbed back to the stable roof and ran back to the castle, springing from roof to roof effortlessly as he tried to escape his own shock and horror at what was being asked of him.

When he got back to the castle yard he paused to catch his breath, then climbed up the castle exterior and through his window. In his room again, he went straight to the door separating his room from Teeya’s and knocked several times before walking in.

Teeya was getting out of bed, dressed in her nightshirt. “Coulta, what’s –“

“Damn it!” Coulta exclaimed. “He’s a damn prince!”

“Who?” Teeya asked, looking confused from sleep still.

“The envoy I was sent to kill! This Wildas. He’s a prince!”

Teeya’s eyes went wide. “Wildas? Oh, no, no Coulta. He’s not just a prince. He’s the prince.”

“What do you mean?” Coulta demanded, throwing his hands up in frustration. Nothing was making sense to him.

Teeya was looking truly disturbed. “He’s the Crown Prince, the oldest prince, and heir to the Grand King’s throne. Coulta…”

Coulta sank to the floor, burying his head in his hands, feeling like something was stabbing into his chest and ripping into his soul. “I can’t. Teeya, I won’t kill him. I won’t assassinate the Crown Prince. I can’t have that on my conscience with all the other lives I’ve taken.”

The voice of the young man in the inn came back to him. He was guilty of no crime. He cared for his men. Death was not what he deserved, least of all a death by Coulta’s hand.

Teeya sat down beside him and lay a hand on his shoulder. “Coulta… You went against Varin’s demands tonight?”

He shook his head. “He told me I could observe the first night, let them settle in.” He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Tomorrow…”

She hugged him tightly. “I think, Coulta, that it’s time for you to take control from Varin.”

 

If you want to see what happens next, find out where you can buy the book!

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April 5, 2011 - Posted by | Teaser Tuesday, Vows From Darkness

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