Sneak Peek

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday over the 4th of July.  I know I did.

I thought I’d start my next blog post by giving you a little sneak peek into some of the things I’ve been working on.  First, is the first UNEDITED chapter of one of my fantasy stories called Redeeming Blade. It follows the story of Roguelyn and her quest to save her father and redeem herself after she makes a huge mistake.  She finds adventure and heartache, and deals with some pretty heavy stuff.  This book is for the YA audience, but deals with some heavier themes like sexual assault and abuse, and cults.  So, without further ado, here is that first chapter:

CHAPTER 1
Roguelyn hit the ground hard, a puff of dust rising around her.  She paused, breathing raggedly, trying to regain her senses. She wasn’t used to this rough treatment.  When she was younger, her father’s men treated her with respect, with a touch of delicacy, as they should, since she was a Duke’s daughter; but now, dressed as a boy, and in disguise as she was, these men were treating her like any other boy who recently joined the military. She just needed to get used to this kind of treatment.  She pushed herself up, her practice sword clenched in her right fist. The dust settled around her, and she brushed off her hands on her britches, swapping the sword from hand to hand. Her opponent faced her, sword up and in a ready position. He was scrawny, and tall, with a shock of blond hair on his head, cut short in the heat of the summer.  He looked nervous and his shifted his weight from foot to foot. Roguelyn licked her lips, tasting the dirt caked there. She settle the sword back in her grip and brought it up, ready for the next attack.
Around her, other pairs of fighters spared, and across the yard, she could see Will, red hair catching the hot afternoon sun, sparing with a short, squat boy with brown hair and some light freckles.  He seemed to be holding his own against the shorter boy, but Will and Roguelyn had been practicing sword play their entire lives, playing at being soldiers in the stables and yards of her father’s castle.  Roguelyn focused her attention back on her opponent as he attacked. He was determined and ruthless, coming on strong and hot. She parried and blocked, backing up, trying to find an opening to change the tide of the spar.  Finally he stumbled a bit, his sword dropping to the left. She took advantage and swung her sword up and to his right, hitting him in the shoulder, raising a nasty welt. He hissed and backed off, and Roguelyn saw by the look in his eye, she was going to pay for that move.  She gripped her sword with both hands, ready to fend him off. At that moment the sword master, who had been walking the field, observing and correcting pairs of fighters, called for a halt.
“Alright you maggots,  we’re going to stop here for today.  None of you were any good, and frankly, I’m surprised any of you made it past infancy.  Hit the baths before you hit the dining tent.” He strode away, his brawny arms clasped behind his back.  The sun glinted off his bald head, as Roguelyn watched him go, her sword down, tip resting in the dirt. She wiped her hand across her brow, smearing dirt and sweat into her short cropped brown hair.  It was the one thing she regretted about running away and pretending to be a man. She missed her long hair. She constantly found herself running her fingers through her hair, but they kept stopping short around her ears.  Around her boys were trudging back towards the barrack tents, dropping their swords off in giant barrels. Will was waiting for her as she approached the barrels, grinning from ear to ear.
“What are you so happy about?”  She asked, dropping her sword in with the others and wiping her hands on her shirt.  He slapped her on the back, laughing.
“Oh you know, the adventure of it all.  Aren’t you looking forward to your first battle?  The thrill of really fighting and beating another opponent?”  They walked together across the dusty camp to the tent that housed the baths.  Roguelyn winced, not wanting to think about that part.
“You know that’s not why I’m here.”  She said quietly. She ran her hand through her hair, staring at her feet.  
“Yeah I know, but it’s still exciting.”  Will’s face fell a bit. He knew why she was really here.  
Two months ago, Roguelyn had gotten word that her father had been kidnapped and was prisoner in the capital of Gadel, the kingdom to the north and west that her kingdom, Rayaven was at war with.  Her father had been the commander of King Royce Fairburn’s army, and while on campaign along the border of Rayaven and Gadel, was captured in a skirmish and help for ransom. King Royce had tried to free him, but King Theodric Hargrave of Gadel was a ruthless man, and he was not willing to negotiate his terms.  Roguelyn was on a mission, to fight for her kingdom and heroically save her father. She just hadn’t worked out quite how to do that yet. The first step had been running away from home, dressing as a boy, and joining the military.
She had been at a party with her mother, Isa, when the news came.  Roguelyn was bored, sitting by a window, trying to avoid eye contact with the son of a neighboring baron who kept trying to catch her eye for a dance, when the messenger came racing into the room, guards on his heels, panting and out of breath.  He was practically collapsing when he shouted the news to Roguelyn’s mother.
“My Duchess, your husband, the Duke, he’s been captured!  In a skirmish along the border.” He said this breathlessly, clutching his side in a cramp. Roguelyn’s mother had clutched her chest, her beautiful face draining of color.  Roguelyn had leapt to her feet, cold crawling up her spine. Later that night, after watching her mother regain her composure and finish out the party with grace, plastering a fake smile on her face, Roguelyn decided she wasn’t going to sit around and wait.  She refused to end up like her mother, just throwing parties and pretending to be happy while her husband was off fighting a war. Roguelyn was one for action, and so the next day, she and will, packed up their stuff, cut her hair, and ran off to join.
Roguelyn and Will approached the barrack tent.  
“Are you heading to the river?”  He asked.
“Yea.”  Roguelyn couldn’t bath with the others, her secret was a matter of life and death. She often snuck off to the river while the other boys were at the baths, bathing in cold water was not at all fun, but she knew she’d do anything to keep her secret.  
“Alright, do you need a lookout again?”  Will offered, gathering his clothing from his bag under his cot.  
“Sure, if you’d like, but I don’t want to always force you to take a cold bath.”  Roguelyn reached under her cot, gathering her clean set of clothing and a bar of soap.  
“It’s fine.  You need me.”  He grinned over at her.  She grinned back, and together they left the tent, heading into the wood nearby and the river beyond.
A week later found Roguelyn’s company rumbled into the mountain town of Coalville, nestled in the Ryrf Mountains, huge pine trees surrounding it.  It had been transformed from a minor mining town, into a large war camp, tents and temporary barracks hastily built, spiraling out from the original town.  The ground was trampled to mud as rainy season had just begun the higher they rode into the mountains. Roguelyn thought wistfully of the hot days spent at the river and dreaded what it would be like here in a large war camp.  She also had to be careful, some of her father’s men were still stationed here, although their paths were unlikely to cross. She and Will picked bunks in an old wooden barracks by the door, a quick escape if she needed it. After making her bed, a straw mattress on a wooden frame, she stuffed her bag underneath and looked around her.  Other boys and men around her were doing the same, getting settled in. Will stood up across from her and came over, punching her in the shoulder.
“Let’s go explore shall we?”  He was quick to grin and find the fun in everything, he certainly made up for some of Roguelyn’s seriousness.  She stretched and nodded, feeling her breast band strain against her bosom. She quickly put her arms back down and glanced around her.  No one had noticed, but she was still wary. They wandered outside in search of the latrines. To Roguelyn’s delight, there were separate out houses built for sanitary reasons, which meant she wouldn’t have to wander into the woods or sneak past guards at night to use the bathroom.  They also found the showers which here also individual stalls, although they were not very tall and could be seen over. She’d have to find a different time of day to shower than when all the other recruits were in there. Will had told her they had a tendency to play pranks on one another, stealing each other’s clothing, and forcing boys to run around naked trying to catch the culprits.  Roguelyn shuddered at the thought. But this camp wasn’t like previous camps, there was a town, and therefore there were women and children present. They past the fighting yards and a large, gruff looking man with a large scar running down his face was drilling a set of men who looked to be advanced. Roguelyn grabbed Will’s arm and they stopped, pausing by the temporary fence to watch.
A dark haired man was sparing with a light haired man closest to them.  His eyes were dark and his hair darker, falling into his eyes, and giving him a sense of mystery and menace.  Roguelyn’s heart thumped at the sight of him, and a little thrill of fear ran through her. He was ruthless in his attack, pushing his opponent towards the fence with blinding speed.  He was deadly, and Roguelyn knew it. This was a man to be avoided. The corprol running the drill called for a halt right as the dark haired man drove his opponent into the fence, forcing Roguelyn and Will to back away quickly to avoid getting their fingers banged.  Breathing hard, the dark haired man looked up through his hair, wet with sweat, and grinned maliciously at Roguelyn. She narrowed her eyes, refusing to let him see her trepidation. He laughed under his breath and backed off, offering a hand to help his opponent up. The light haired man took it.
“Gods Cole, no need to try to kill me, it’s just sparring!”  The light haired man exclaimed, pushing his hair out of his face.  The dark haired man, Cole, grinned again maliciously and turned away, jogging back to drop off his sword.  Roguelyn shook her head and turned away, Will following behind.
“He was amazing!”  Will said, admiringly. The look on his face was as if he’d seen a god incarnate.  Roguelyn scowled at him and punched him in the arm.
“Are you kidding me Will? That man is a menace! He almost killed his opponent, and aren’t we all on the same side?”  They continued walking for a moment before he responded.
“Yea, I guess. I just, I wish I could be like that.  That driven, that good!” Will said wistfully.
“You will be one day Will.  You’ve improved so much since we were kids.”  He nodded and they made their way to the large wooden mess hall for supper.  

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Hope you all enjoyed that little snippet!  Here is a small snippet of an idea that’s be floating around my head for a few weeks.  Nothing special, it doesn’t even have a name, but I’m excited to see where it goes!

Marlee Anne Gainsworth grew up in the Redbird Trailer Park, just outside of Lydia, Louisiana.  Each trailer in the park had been painted a different color, and outside of most of them, potted plants grew in a profusion of hues.  When she was a small wisp of a girl, Marlee always thought it looked like a rainbow had settled here in her little park.

Lydia had two seasons, the mild season, and the stormy season.  During the mild season, Marlee went to the local high school, hung out with her friends, went to football games, and played soccer on the high school team.  But during the stormy season, when the heat was oppressive, and the humidity made breathing difficult, and you were sweating even before you took a shower, Marlee disappeared.  She had plenty of friends, but none of her friends knew about the other side of her life, which made her mystery all the more interesting. Once school was out in June, her friends rarely saw her until she came back to school in September.  For those two and a half months, Marlee was off the map.

She lived in the green trailer down at the end of the row.  The end of the trailer park butted up against some marshland, and Marlee has spent her childhood running through the marsh, getting dirty up to her knees in mud, and coming back covered in stickers and burrs. She always used to keep her golden blonde hair cut short, a ball cap often askew on her head.

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