A clatter of birdsong

As I know you’re all eager to read some of The Poisoned Well – today is your lucky day! In response to today’s daily prompt of Volume; here are two small extracts. I hope that you enjoy them.

Raucous – Extract One

It was a loud chatter of birdsong that woke Lyris. Sparrows hopped from branch to branch so that the over-hanging vines rustled and bounced; dappled sunlight shaking on her face. It had been a cold night with sleep coming in short uncomfortable bursts. The moss-covered ground that she’d hoped would be soft, had become unyielding. Her left hip and arm felt bruised and bracken poked her cheek as she lay peering at the pale green leaves. Warmth wrapped around her middle and she felt like a stream, suddenly frozen and unable to move.

Lyris couldn’t remember when it had happened but in the cold, endless part of the night, she’d curled up beside Arn and his arm had wrapped around her waist. His belly pressed against her back. His hand was warm on her middle. The weight of it sent tiny flickers through her abdomen.

The young woman let out an uneasy breath and rolled onto her front, flat against the soil, then onto her side again. His arm dropped with a thud and he grunted in his sleep. Shadows moved across his face as he rolled onto his back. It was the first time she’d been able to see him clearly. His hair was a darker shade of blonde than she’d imagined in the silver patches of starlight the night before. His beard was coarse, tracing the line of his jaw and chin and covering his top lip. There was a red line across his nose from a recent break and a healing scar on his left cheekbone. In the dim light, it looked as though a necklace of dull metal curled around his neck and vanished beneath the V of his shirt. Transfixed she watched him lift a long limb and press a hand over his features. Lyris held her breath as he sat up, the movement slow, as though sleeping on the ground had left him feeling just as delicate. Willow leaves scattered to the mossy carpet beneath.

Still – Extract Two

Out on the deck and safe from the biting insects, Lyris considered her options. She could either swing down the rope ladder and wade back to the shore and the bonfire, or she could remain on the ship. The call of her power, was often a distant hum in the background of the world. Travelling over the water though, it increased to a song. The Lake knew that she was there and the body of water showed sparks of colour as she watched it. Roan had explained that with the right weather conditions, blue waves would wash on the beach of the island. Lyris opened her canteen of water and poured it over the edge of the ship. Where it splashed there was a flash of blue light before the shine sank. She drew a circle in the water and watched the flare of natural fire dancing atop the waves.

Arn joined her and leant over the rail to watch, ‘is it magic?’ he murmured the words, fascinated.

Lyris shook her head and passed him the canteen, ‘take a drink,’ she encouraged.

He paused for a moment before taking a sip, ‘it’s just water?’ He was surprised and the young woman nodded.

‘Pour it into the lake,’ she gestured and bent to watch the results.

The first splash was large, it sent up sparks of glowing liquid into the air before they too faded.

‘It’s the algae,’ Lyris explained and folded her arms on the railing, resting her chin on top her hands. The cloud that moved obscured most of the starlight was moving fast. The sails were lowered for the night and the ropes secured. Wood creaked as the ship moved in a slow rock, with the sound of lapping waves in the distance and the scent of the wood-smoke drifting up from the fire. She could still taste his kiss, and remember the sensation of his warm hands on her skin sliding up the length of her spine as he held her close. The breeze moved between them now, though the hairs raised on the back of her arms and neck, heart still drumming and uncomfortable beat.

‘I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,’ Arn looked across from where he lent, his gaze lingering on her features before he looked away.

Lyris cleared her throat, watching the last of the water as he cast it out and the splash moved like a firework, exploding. The blue faded from their sight, but with her power the woman could see the shift in the lake. As the fresh water dropped in through the algae she could pick out flashes of orange and red, invisible to anyone else watching. It was a beautiful sight, with the rising and fall of slow waves, lifted by the wind and cresting against the beach. She could hear Rafa laugh in the distance, and the slow build of Kit’s flute as the music drifted through the night.

‘You told me you were travelling with your brothers. I believe you,’ she added quickly, she had no reason to doubt her companion. ‘Why though? Why so far south and so few?’ He’d mentioned their quest to the southern border of Staven and there hadn’t been a good opportunity to ask him any further. Now, with the quiet sway of the ship on the lake, and no one around to hear them, the young woman studied his face. The starlight that broke from behind the clouds, glimmered on the surface of the waves.

I hope that you enjoyed these two little snippets, please remember to leave me a comment. I’d love to know what you think of them.

Happy Reading,

Fibi xx

The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass

With a little help from my friends…

I hate missing deadlines, and I definitely dropped a few last week!

Despite my determination to blog twice a week that has certainly been falling by the wayside. However, as I said in my latest blog, I’ve got to stop beating myself up and just get started again.  I’ve also missed my deadline for the cover reveal, which is a real shame. This due to a few things, firstly, I realised a few weeks ago that the intended release for The Poisoned Well was going to be pushed back. I was toying with the idea of forwarding a few different covers and holding a vote for your favourite one. In the end, I’ve taken the last minute decision to follow my own instincts with the design – although it didn’t leave me much time to finalise the tiny details.

So, here are the things I’ve learnt this week about attempting to write with an aim to self-publish.

  1. Be more realistic with timeframes.

Then you won’t feel like you’ve failed when you meet those arbitrary targets. It’s great to have a goal, but as with anything, the goals are probably going to be stretched and setback. I don’t know of any house build that has even come in on time, and I have watched a lot of Grand Designs.

  1. When the times are going to slip – be open and honest.

Then you get to move on and shake off some of the guilt. It’s hard to complete anything with that big old cloud hanging over your shoulders.

  1. Gotta’ keep writing.

I missed some targets…but I’ve still got a manuscript to finish. I’ve just got to keep going and slowly, but surely, my goal is coming closer! I had 12,000 words and now I have more than 24,000! My intention is a manuscript of 50,000 words –ish. At the moment I can imagine the story has got enough legs to reach between 50,000-60,000 which is exciting!

So here we go, I don’t have a cover to reveal just yet, but it’s on its way. What I do have is gorgeous piece of fan art based on the original design – so exciting and I hope that you like it! Thank you Hollie for drawing this for me, I love it!

Without a little Collaboration this beautiful picture would not exist, and nor would the forthcoming cover 🙂

Happy Writing!

Fibi