Greetings and welcome back to Lands Uncharted. I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to one of our new topic categories: Writing Snippets. Here you will find odds and ends from the works of the authors who blog with Lands Uncharted.
For those who don’t know me, my debut novel is The Healer’s Rune. It is the first book in a trilogy and was published long enough ago that the second book is due soon! The Healer’s Rune is a story about Sabine Rhyonselle, a Human who is tired of her people living as slaves to the fey Rüddan in everything but name. But the ban on magic use keeps Humanity indebted to the Rüddan, whose superior strength is the only thing that once protected them from being annihilated by the Aethel. At least, that’s what Sabine has always believed. When she learns otherwise, she must overcome centuries of prejudice and lies, forge an alliance between two enemy races, and find the location of a powerful talisman in order to break the chains that bind Humanity to the Rüddan. Along the way she learns a dangerous secret about herself that could get her killed.
The Writing Snippet that I have for you today is a deleted scene from the second book in the series, titled Guardian Prince. There is so much about this scene that I love, but it just didn't work for the direction of the chapter I had it in. This is why I'm thrilled to share it here with you. And while I don’t have a release date yet, I do have a cover! The excerpt begins after the cover pic. I hope you enjoy this taste of book two. I'd love to hear your comments below!
By the time Sabine woke the next morning, the sounds of busy activity filled the camp. Rubbing the sleep from her face, Sabine rose from her pallet, stretched, and stepped out of her tent...
...into the hustled activity of a camp being torn down at a rapid pace.
“Sabine,” Tayte said, his manner brusque as he handed her a hunk of cheese and a blush-pink apple, then began pulling up the stakes of her tent. “Eat quickly. It’s time to go.”
Glancing around for Bree, Sabine polished the apple against her cloak. “What's happened?”
“The Dryht's raven has brought a message.” Tayte finished with the stakes and began winding the cables that had held the tent taut, meticulous about the details despite his obvious haste. “The portal gate has fallen.”
Sabine gaped, the apple half-raised to her mouth. “When?”
“During the eighth watch. They sent the bird back as soon as the portal was breached.”
Sabine bit into the firm apple, its juicy tartness registering dimly as she chewed and observed the activity of the camp. Sabine's tent, the last one standing, would be down soon. To the left of the camp Gaelan and Kyarr were saddling and loading the horses while Koen brushed the ground with a fallen limb, stirring up the forest undergrowth with the branch's twiggy limb and obscuring the more obvious signs of the group's overnight stay. Unable to discern any way she could help, Sabine did as Tayte had suggested and ate her food.
They mounted and rode out a few moments after Sabine finished, Gaelan and Aodhan in the lead and Kyarr and Koen bringing up the rear. They rode as briskly as they could along the narrow path, and Sabine worried for Bree, but Gaoth stayed close to the dog, as if guarding her. Sabine wondered what the bird could actually do if Bree got lost, but figured that, since Gaoth always found Koen, the two animals would find a way to make do.
Half a watch after they broke camp, it began to rain. Light and patchy at first, it soon collected into an icy downpour. Sabine raised her hood, even though she expected the rain to soak through her cloak quickly, but noted that the cloth was not actually absorbing any of the water. Rather, the droplets beaded up and rolled off as they hit the soft red fabric, as if the cloak were magically water-repellant. Curious about how that worked, Sabine reasoned it must be something all the races except hers knew about, for everyone else seemed to be benefiting from the water-repellant cloaks, as well.
Still, Sabine's forearms and lower legs were uncovered and the water was cold. She draped her cloak as best she could but only succeeded in covering more of her mount than herself. Still, the horse didn't seem to mind. It even sighed subtly, as if grateful for the small amount of relief.
A short while later the rain intensified and changed directions, blowing directly into Sabine’s face. The horse seemed to have had enough, for it turned its head and pulled sharply against the reins. The movement startled Sabine, but she tugged instinctively against the animal, correcting its course.
The horse complied briefly but soon yanked against the reins again. Sabine was more alert this time, so her reaction was well timed, but as she resisted the horse's attempts to turn away from the rain, she noticed Tayte correcting his mount, as well. He looked in her direction and smiled grimly, glanced down at his horse, then shrugged.
Sabine wondered how Diera would manage if her mount responded to the rain in the same way. As if to answer her question, Diera's horse pulled to the left, away from Amala's. The princess's handmaiden grabbed for Diera's reins, but Diera motioned her away. Instead of pulling against the horse, she allowed it to turn into the direction it was already pulling toward. Rather than stopping halfway, however, Diera continued to turn the horse until it faced forward once again.
“We're not going to get very far this way,” Tayte yelled over the rain.
Sabine nodded her agreement, but Tayte could not have seen her, for he had urged his horse forward until he caught up with Aodhan and Gaelan. The three halted and huddled in a conference.
“We can't stop,” Gaelan said as she and the other two ladies caught up to them. “I don't like pushing the horses, and I certainly don't enjoy being out in a storm like this, but we don't have any choice. Now that the Rüddan Emissary has broken through the portal, she won't be that far behind. This storm is mild compared to the blizzards she grew up with in the north—it's not going to slow her down.”
Sabine shifted her leg, trying to avoid being mashed as her horse pressed into the huddle. Amala tugged her mount away but had nowhere else to go, since she was blocked on the other side by Diera.
Koen and Kyarr caught up to them. Kyarr joined Gaelan and Tayte in the discussion of possible options, but Koen only peered around the rim of his cloak's hood, examining the dense wood around them.
“Perhaps I can help,” he said to no one in particular Dismounting, he walked to the largest tree beside the path, a towering maple that soared so high its crown was obscured among the branches of the other trees. Gently, almost as if asking permission, he place both hands flat on the rough trunk and bent his head, as if listening.
Sabine cold not tell what the Dryht was doing, but a short while later the tree's branches began to stir. The tree looked as if it were swaying in a stiff wind, but the direction and intensity of the rain did not change. The limbs of the maple brushed against those of the other trees to its left. Soon, those trees began to sway, as well. They, in turn, reached to the trees on their left, as well as those across the path from them.
As the third ripple of trees began to sway, Koen removed his hands from the maple and returned to his horse. The stately tree leaned after him, as if it would follow, until its limbs arched over Sabine and the rest of the group.
The relief from the rain was almost instant. Although a fine smattering of drops still found their way through the branches now arched over the path, the intensity of the downpour was greatly diminished. Sabine stared in wonder as the trees along the path cascaded in a slow, graceful wave, bending to form a leafy tunnel.
“They will cover us,” Koen said as he remounted, “but we should not tarry. Although they bend, it is a great effort.”
“Tarrying was not something I had in mind,” Gaelan said, staring at the limbs of a cedar that trembled subtly over his head. Backing his horse out of the huddle, he turned it around and resumed his position at the head of the group.
Sabine fell into place with the others, awed by the Dryht's magical display. Although the rest of the group seemed to take it for granted, Sabine felt as if she had just witnessed something sacred. She knew it was silly, but she wished she could thank the trees.
Once everyone had ridden a few steps farther along the trail, Sabine turned in her saddle to look again at the maple Koen had touched. She saw it rising gracefully back to its upright position, limbs quivering softly as it settled into place once more.
* * *