Book Trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

What is Needed Pt 2: Conclusion

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1 and Part 2 (first section). This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples for the current Indiegogo campaign for the novel. The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. Please read this post and consider supporting the fundraiser. To learn more about The Bow of Destiny campaign click the provided link. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

 

What is Needed (Part 2: Conclusion)

by P. H. Solomon

Hastra’s lips puckered as the door to the Meditation Hall closed softer than falling snow.  Nothing again. No impression to share with anyone or write it in the Book of Prophecies. She pulled her thick shawl close and high-stepped through the snow with a sigh that billowed in her eyes. Thick clouds rolled over the Gray Spires. “Maybe I should just forget them.”

The Withling wandered to her room but didn’t find Zelma. She’s already at table. I could use an early dinner. Hastra sighed and trudged the route to the dining hall and served herself a bowl of steaming soup that smelled of onions and sausage. Hastra snagged brown bread with butter and shuffled between the trestle tables toward Zelma who sat alone and stirred her bowl of soup.

“This is different for you. Your crowd is busy, I see.” Hastra straddled the bench, sat and swung her leg over.

“Your visions trouble me. You’ve spent so much time in the Hall of Silence. Won’t you write them down for others to see? They consume you.” Zelma sniffed and wiped her nose while a tear gleamed in her green eyes.

“This is hardly the place to discuss my visions.”

Howart approached and sat across the table from Hastra and her sister. The tall Withling lowered his head in prayer. If he heard us… Hastra picked at her food and then took a hot spoonful of soup, smacked her lips, snatched a cup of water and sloshed the contents as she gulped.

“What visions are you talking about?” Howart tore bread and dipped it into the steaming soup.

Hastra choked and almost spewed her water. Now it will be out. She swallowed and wiped her face.

Zelma elbowed Hastra. “You should talk about it.”

Hastra scowled at Zelma who arched one eyebrow higher than the other and offered a faint smile. No chance for denial now. My, how that soup burned. Hastra drank again. She swallowed and opened her mouth.

The Grendonese sisters strode past giggling and whispering, their skirts twirling with their flouncing stride. Hastra clamped her mouth shut and followed the sisters with her eyes. Which one is which, I can never tell. They sat several tables away and shared a jest with Zeld and Kregen that set the Rokan brothers laughing.

Zelma cleared her throat. Howart paid Hastra’s reticence no mind as he dunked his bread again.

“Not here. Let’s eat first and find somewhere to speak.”

Howart shrugged and his sunken cheeks filled with his broad smile that exposed his crooked teeth. “A big secret, I see. Well enough, I’ve nothing to do after supper.”

Once they finished, Hastra led Zelma and Howart on a walk through empty corridors. She related the tale to Howart who bent close to hear Hastra’s whispers. She paused often and checked the passages for anyone following. They paused at a window overlooking the courtyard.

Howart gazed out the window at the late winter night beneath the early stars until his breath frosted the panes. “It’s almost like the vision is now since you have no unction about it.”

Hastra shifted her feet and cocked her head. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

The gaunt Withling turned from the window and his deep-set eyes shifted between Hastra and her sister. “The danger from these visions is here, now and not something in the future.” Howart swept his arms in an arc over Hastra’s head as he spoke.

Zelma hugged herself as she shivered. “But there’s no sign of trolls in this old keep. How can there be any danger?”

“The danger’s here though. That’s why there’s no interpretation, no instruction.” Howart wagged a long finger as he spoke.

Hastra turned to the window and found her murky reflection in the fogged pane. “But from where and whom is our danger? There may be trolls or not but there’s something else at work.” She turned back to her companions but neither answered. “We must watch for odd behavior and investigate if necessary. We have no proof of a betrayal or danger.”

Howart crossed his arms. “Except your dreams.”

Zelma chuckled and tossed her flaming tresses. “And oddity is common in this house.”

Hastra turned back to the window where the fog faded. Below, Kregen crossed the courtyard and entered the gatehouse. “You’re right, not odd, just activity that is out of place.” She watched her companions’ reflections nod.

“We’ll catch whoever endangers us.” Zelma patted Hastra’s shoulder.

Hastra drummed her cheek with her fingers. But this may not be about catching them. She shivered and pulled her shawl closer.

End of Part 2 (Part 3 will be posted on 8/17 or after)

Comments are welcome so please leave them below. See my Contact page for information on how to connect with me or follow the blog by email. Visit my Indiegogo campaign for more information and help support the novel’s publication.

Thanks for reading!

PHS

What is Needed – Part 1

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is Part 1 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples for the current Indiegogo campaign for the novel. The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. Please read this post and consider supporting the fundraiser. To learn more about The Bow of Destiny campaign click the provided link. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

 

What is Needed (Part 1)

by P. H. Solomon

 

Withling’s Watch squatted in shadow as the dregs of sunlight dwindled behind the Gray Spires. Hastra’s head bobbed with the motion of her mare’s hoof-dragging gait. It’s good to come home. She yawned. I long to see Zelma. Hastra’s stomach rumbled. But first some food. The expansive stone building loomed out of the dusk as the horse climbed the cobblestoned incline to the walled keep where lights flickered in windows and smoke puffed from chimneys.

Cold wind gusted from the eastern flanks of the mountains and flung Hastra’s fur-lined cloak in wild contortions. She tugged the garment under control, held it one-handed against another blast and gripped the reins in her other hand. She chuckled. I’m awake now. Her teeth chattered. We’re a house of mystics and miracles but even we suffer the winter and hunger. The Withling’s stomach growled again.

Horseshoes rang on the road as lamps in the gatehouse cast a pool of light in the gloom. Hastra pulled her cloak tighter and lifted her head. It’s threatened snow all day and night comes fast below these peaks. She gasped at the gatehouse after she returned her attention to the road. The lights are out and the keep is dark. Her eyes narrowed. The wrought-iron gates stood ajar and listed like a ship in a gale. She pulled reins and the mare halted with a snort.

The wind howled and exploded past the squealing gateway. Shadow slammed into Hastra and she fell off the mare. Screams of terror and snarls of violence echoed from the courtyard. Fire belched from the darkness and roared past her. The mingled voices fell silent while gusts moaned like ghosts from the desolate square.

Boots clattered on the stone pavement.

Hastra recoiled and gasped as a figure distilled from the gloom. Her hand fumbled for her belt-knife. “Who’s there?” The Withling blinked and the spectral gloom faded.

“Hastra? It’s me, Kregen.” The Rokan Withling trotted to Hastra’s aide with light streaming behind him. He extended his arms. “You fell off your horse. Are you ill or just tired? Are you injurded?”

The Withling stammered for words. He looks like a vulture stooping over a corpse with that bald head and hooked nose. “I’ve had a…” She stifled her tongue in sudden wariness. Best not speak of a vision too soon. “I must’ve nodded off a moment. I’ve pushed hard to return before the snow.”

“Can you stand? Here, let me help you.” Kregen clasped hands with Hastra as she climbed to her feet.

“Just bruised, I think.” She rubbed her injured hip.

Kregen released Hastra. “You’re young, that’ll heal soon enough unless Eloch instructs someone to heal you.”

“Yes, perhaps.” Hastra blinked at her surroundings. Light glimmered from the gatehouse and the gates stood open and whole. Lanterns gleamed in the courtyard while lamps or candles glistened from the keep’s windows. She turned and found nothing behind her except the mare and the gathering night. That was a vision but of what? She arched an eyebrow and shifted her gaze over her surroundings again.

Kregen gathered the mare’s reins. “Come warm up in the gatehouse. I’ll have your horse taken to the stable.”

Hastra limped beside the Rokan who held her arm and led her mare. That vision came with neither instruction nor other impressions. She grimaced at her hip and stepped into the gatehouse as stray snowflakes fluttered on the night wind.

“Noe, please see that mare over to the stable. It should be curried and fed.” Kregen motioned to the door and the young student scurried out the door on the assigned errand. “Is anything wrong, Hastra?”

Hastra stood at the door. The gates leaned on the hinges in that vision. She rubbed her chin.

Kregen touched her shoulder. “Hastra?”

“Hmm? Oh, I’m fine. Just a bump.” Hastra released her frown and smiled. Those gates, the dilapidated keep in darkness. It was abandoned after the screams and fire. She shivered but not from the night chill. “I’ll go up to dinner. Can the boy bring my baggage?”

“As you wish, there should be food on the table even now. I’ll send him around later with your bag.”

Hastra nodded and hobbled into the courtyard as her brows furrowed. I’ll speak with Zelma, maybe pray and write it in the book for others to inspect. She winced as she climbed the steps to the door. The Withling turned at the top and found the courtyard dappled in light and dark. Kregen’s head drew back into the gatehouse. He was watching me. By those narrowed eyes he guessed more happened than I let on. Hastra frowned again and opened the main door of the stone keep and entered. Wind snuffed lit candles by the door.

“Who’s that?” The doorkeeper stepped out of the shadows and held a covered lamp aloft. “Hastra! Welcome back to Withling’s Watch. I’m sorry to discomfort you with candles at the door but I’m still lighting lamps.”

“No bother, I just fell outside is all, Zeld.” The familial hooked nose of Kregen’s brother cast an odd shadow on his face as he lit a lamp by the door. Hastra tugged her gloves off her hands and held them folded in one hand.

“Do you need help? You look pained by the fall.”

“No, I just want food.” Hastra removed her cloak and draped it over her forewarm.

Zeld motioned across the cavernous entry-hall. “Well there are plenty of our fellow Withlings still sitting at the table. I should like to hear of your journey when you have the time.”

Hastra flashed a brief smile and nodded. “We can speak on the morrow. Good night.” Zeld bowed as she limped away across the marble floor. This vaulted ceiling leaves this place too cold. It’s too proud for our humble order. She grunted at her halting stride. All safe until the end of the journey. Candle flames fluttered as she entered the passage leading to the dining hall. Muffled murmurs transformed to tangled conversations as Hastra entered the dining hall.

She stood in the doorway as the wave of voices washed away her silent journey. The Withling shuffled among her fellow mystics. Scents of roasted meats and spiced vegetables tickled her nose and her stomach grumbled. If only I can find Zelma. She should hear of this vision. There’s frizzy, red hair down that row of tables. Hastra waved. “Zelma!”

The din of the clattering crockery and chattering mystics drowned Hastra’s call. She hobbled along the aisle and met a familiar face. “Howart, greetings!”

“Hastra? Have you returned on the wings of a night-bird?” The Grendonese switched the pitcher he carried to his left hand and offered his right in greeting. “What is needed…”

“Is given. Yes, but my owl walked the whole way.” Hastra rubbed her sore haunch as Howart laughed. This bruise was given for a reason so don’t linger. “I must speak to Zelma if you will excuse me.” The gaunt Withling nodded as she stepped away among the trestle-tables.

Hastra picked Zelma’s voice from the mingled voices. “Zelma!” Hastra waved her gloves over her head as she approached.

The freckled face with receding chin and prominent nose turned toward Hastra. A moment of arched eyebrows and thin lips parted changed into wide eyes and grinning. “Hastra!” The young woman scrambled over the bench and jostled her companions with apologies. “Sister, you’ve come with the night.” Zelma hugged Hastra, drew back and touched her cheeks. “You cold. Come warm yourself and I’ll fetch you a plate of food.”

“But I need to speak with you.”

“You can tell me all about the negotiations after you’re warm and full.”

Zelma found space for the two of them on the bench and hurried a plate to Hastra piled with steaming food and warm bread. The others eating around them welcomed the returning Withling.

“Has the snow started?” Sila, the Shildran, handed Hastra a cup of water.

“Flakes fell as I entered the gate.” Hastra drank. I’m thirstier than I knew. She smacked her lips as the dryness washed away.

“Is Last Landing at peace now?”

“Oh, you know it is. Hastra sent word with the bird weeks ago.” Zelma shouldered her way onto the bench next to Hastra with a grin and an expectant glance at her sister’s food.

“What is needed is given.” The other’s around them mumbled the saying with Hastra. My voice sounds smoother after the water. She shifted near her younger sister and lowered her voice. “I really need to speak with you, Zelma.”

“Eat first.” Zelma offered Hastra bread.

“I can take the plate with me but I must tell you fresh news.”

Zelma’s pale green eyes shifted between the food and Hastra’s furrowed brow. The young woman’s head tilted and her smile faded. “As new as when?”

Hastra leaned close again. “Now, at the gate.”

“Well, fine. We can go to our room I suppose.”

The sisters rose and excused themselves from those sitting near them. Hastra took her plate and followed Zelma among the tables with a wince. The hip’s so tight in those few moments. I’ll need someone’s prayers if healing is given. They exited into a narrow side-hall with fewer lamps shining against the darkness.

Zelma turned back and gasped. “You’re limping!”

“Now you notice.”

The younger woman’s gaze lowered to the floor. “Don’t scold me, you’ve just returned.”

“You’re right, dear, of course. I’m tired, hurting and hungry.” She patted her sister’s clasped hands.

“You could have eaten in the hall. What’s so urgent?”

They resumed walking and turned down another passage with less lights than the last. Zelma’s mass of wild hair flamed red even in the gloom.

“I fell off my horse when…”

The candles faded. A snake-faced hobgoblin stepped out of a darkened door by Hastra. The troll drew a curved sword. She uttered a wordless shout and dropped her plate. Hastra thrust her hands at the creature. She stumbled on her sore leg as shadow descended. The hobgoblin’s dark eyes glittered malevolence. A merciless grin spread wide and revealed discolored fangs.

“No.” Hastra’s senses failed as the sword whistled at her. Darkness snuffed her thoughts.

End of Part 1 (Part 2 will be posted within a week)

Comments are welcome so please leave them below. See my Contact page for information on how to connect with me or follow the blog by email. Visit my Indiegogo campaign for more information and help support the novel’s publication.

Thanks for reading!

PHS

Announcement – The Bow of Destiny

I have several announcements regarding The Bow of Destiny crowdfunding campaign.

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

1. Some of my backers have requested that I extend the campaign to the full 60 days allowed by Indiegogo. I have requested this from Indiegogo so the campaign is still in effect through 9/5.

2. I will continue working on The Bow of Destiny to send to my editor for a structural edit which could be back well before the end of the campaign. This will be followed by more work on my part and a final edit after the campaign is over.

3. This is the big announcement. Realizing that readers are not familiar with this work and that an excerpt is not enough to encourage backing, I will release serialized blog posts that serve as prolog for The Bow of Destiny. I intend to release about one edition a week during the campaign to introduce readers to my fantasy world. Look for the first release within a few days. Since these will be developed during the campaign these serial posts will be somewhat fluid and have a few changes in them so readers get a chance to see examples of my work and even make suggestions as I go.

A picture included in my trailer.

A picture included in my trailer.

4. If there is enough interest expressed I will schedule at least one party over social media.

5. If there is enough backing in the crowdfunding campaign then I will announce some stretch goals which may include the opportunity to receive the serialized blogs compiled into an ebook as well as being able to shift how I deliver autographs when the time comes using one of the e-autograph services available.

For more information about The Bow of Destiny see the News page or click the link above. Click on the Contact page for more information about connecting with me on social media. Please leave comments below. Also, blog subscribers receive a Smashwords coupon for a FREE copy my short story, The Black Bag in any current format – get your coupon and DOWNLOAD today!