I feel like I’ve been neglecting you all. That is, if any of you are even still reading. But if you are, you’re in for a treat: not only do you get TWO WHOLE POSTS today, you also get a sneak peak of the part of the novel I’m working on right now.
The usual disclaimers about this being a first draft and me a beginning writer apply.
It wasn’t long before Aoibheann could hear voices nearby. Her heart jumped into her mouth, and her nervousness suddenly returned. She stopped. Better to wait and listen, she thought. No sense in rushing in blindly. I should see what is going on first. She turned her attention to the conversation. “ – And so by the time we got there, the Duke’s men had the castle surrounded.” A man’s voice, low and gruff.
“So how did you get in? You did get in, didn’t you?” This was a child, a young girl by the pitch of the voice. With a start Aoibhe recognized the voice she had felt in her mind.
“ Well by then night had fallen. Lucky for us it was the new moon – they ordered us to sneak through the enemy’s camp. Each man for himself, as quietly as possible, was to go through the camp and get toe the castle moat. If he could sabotage the enemy on his way through, so much the better. We were supposed to go through the camp to the castle moat on the other side, and swim around to the back where there was an entrance through the sewer. Someone was going to let us in from the inside.”
Aoibhe heard the voice of a young man ask, “but how is that even possible?” at the same time that the girl exclaimed “Ewww! You walked through sewage?” and had to hold back a laugh.
“Yes, sewage. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience of my life, but…” Aoibhe could picture him shrugging. “You do what you have to do.” There was an skeptical noise in response. “You’ll see soon enough, young one. It’s not all about what you want.” There was a pause. “As for your question, Halle, it is possible with a lot of skill and even more luck. You see, as skilled as we all were the truth is that getting through that camp required luck more than anything else. And we were very lucky: there was little light, the enemy was overconfident, and most importantly, we were paid more.”
“What has that got to do with it?”
“Well we were more inclined to do as we were told rather than lounge about and drink to excess while on the job. I swear, three quarters of that camp was fast asleep when we walked through. And the others were hardly hyperaware of their surroundings. We could have waltzed through the center of their camp without a peep from any of them.”
“Loyalty is a powerful force indeed,” came a new voice. It was medium in tone and for some reason reminded Aoibhe of Fion. “But you should never underestimate the power of a full purse. Often money will get you what pure loyalty cannot. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.”
The conversation paused and Aoibheann felt a sudden urge to see these people. She reached out with her mind and impressed on Ceanna the command to stay where she was. Aoibhe moved carefully and slowly forward through the woods. Ahead of her she could see a clearing, a small oval island of open air in the dense forest, and in the clearing a group of people. Aoibhe drew closer until she could almost reach out and touch the man, well, young boy really, closest to her. He was leaning against a tree, one knee up, his head propped in his hand. A few feet away sat an older man, his hair just starting to turn to gray. A young girl – she must be the telepath – lay on her side the ground next to him. Despite this attitude of exhaustion her eyes were wide and bright as they stared at the older man. Even further away sat a red haired man next to three tethered horses. From the way he was sitting it seemed to Aoibhe that he had been trying to meditate. But that can’t be right. Humans don’t meditate, do they? She didn’t think they had the patience.
On the very edge of the clearing, as far away as he could get without reentering the forest, sat a dark-haired man, skinny where the other two were muscular, leaning against a tree trunk with his eyes closed. He looked as if he had no interest in the conversation, or rather, as if he was listening to the conversation and found it to be beneath him. “I’m hungry,” said the girl.
“Hungry?” Replied the grey-haired man, “But you just had lunch!”
“Well I’m hungry again.” She rolled over onto her back and sighed heavily. “And bored.” Aoibhe smiled. It seemed that human fourteen year olds were not all that different from elven fourteen year olds.
The dark haired man opened his eyes. “It’s your fault that we’re stuck here in the first place,” he said, an edge to his voice. “I don’t see why you have any right to complain.”
The girl turned her head towards him. “I didn’t ask you to come after me, Teren. Nobody made you leave the road.”
“I had to if I didn’t want to be left behind. Fine then. If it’s not your fault it’s Robin’s.”
The girl didn’t reply; instead she turned away. The red haired man raised one eyebrow although he did not otherwise move. Aoibhe decided she had seen enough and began to edge back to where she had left Ceanna. Suddenly the red haired man lifted his head up. He seemed to be staring straight at her. It took all of Aoibhe’s self control not to tense up. She forced herself to keep breathing normally, to keep her body relaxed. He was less likely to notice her that way. Odds were that he hadn’t actually seen her…finally he turned away, his brow furrowed as though confused.