Dawn Rider is the third of my trio of novels. The Dawn Rider novel is under development. I will being posting clips from Dawn Rider here this year. Mike
Seeing the jet black water flowing down the rivers from the land of Elmet told Joseph that magic had died in his fathers land. Once the rivers had sparkled with light and life, the river water had seemed to jump with joy, and had glittered with health, now all of the rivers leaving his fathers lands appeared turgid and sullen, the rivers where lifeless. Joseph had been away from the kingdom to long. He increased the length of his stride, something was badly wrong. No one had challenged him, there were no sign of human activity. No sounds reached his ears, the wild animals were silent, not even the birds sung. Josephs father had long ago cleared the forest of thieves, but now Joseph felt a coldness closing in upon him. He started to run, he had to reach his fathers house before dusk. There should have at least been traders travelling in the forest of Galertra. But nothing now moved, the forest darkened, as a night started to fall at mid-day.
He had grown up running in this forest, so no one, nothing should give him cause for concern, but instinct now told him to seek a pass of safety. An old warrior lay ahead, it had been Josesh friend for many years, so as a deep black shroud closed upon the forest Joseph dived into the heart of the old warrior. He felt the tree quiver then a section of its trunk broke free and closed off his entry point.
Jum’s jet black curly hair, spiky by nature, was today so bedraggled. Even still she looked like someone who enjoyed having fun. However Dom knew better then to confront Jum, for she had a kick like a mule. The climb up the black river rift had been hard, now they had to battle the ever shifting snow. To Dom and most of his team the cloying waist deep snow was just another nightmare, but to Jum the snow was heaven sent. She put her head down and drove on following Dom and allowing the cold snow to cool her fever. She knew that Dom’s task was getting harder by the hour, for Carlson’s trail was fading, being slowly obliterated as the wind grew in strength.
Soon Dom would call for a brief halt, for he understood that she had the best ability to find Carlson’s trail, her intuition rarely failed, she seemed to have a telepathic link to Carlson. But Dom felt reluctant to call upon Jum’s help for he knew how much strength she and Carlson had used to bring down the cliff face. The collapse of which had closed the pathway between his companions and the black wolf clan. The fever which had threatened to over power Jum since she and Carlson had fought to bring down Gor Scar had broken two nights back. As she and Carlson smashed open the gates which had blocked their entry to the black river rift. Jum knew that the fever was effecting her badly, but she needed to guide them now. Dom called for a halt, and looked at Jum, Carlson would need their warmth if he was to survive the coming artic night. Dom knew what happened to humans if they where left to the mercy of the long artic night.
Carlson had used his strength to forge ahead, he knew that Jum would be able to protect Dom and the others, but Carlson now feared for Viya’s safety. Once Arric knew that Carlson had escaped his hunting pack, Arric would know that even the black wolfs would struggle stop Carlson gaining the plains of Kir. Arric would fear Carlson setting Yiva free. For Viya had seen the secrets of Craket and that gave her the power to become a high priestess. And a power that one day might growth to match that of the Ice Queen.
Karr being the keeper of a long house had thought that he knew what to expect as late autumn arrived, but even he with his long memory was surprised by the sheer column of snow that had fallen over the plains of Kri. The young girl he held captive on behalf of Lord Einar would be going nowhere in this weather. Karr had not looked for this duty but when Einar who had the ear of King Arric told you to something, you did as you were told. If you did not then you took the place of the duty asked for. At least Einar had offered payment and good payment in gold it was. So Karr would keep the girl known as Viya under lock and key, in the pit. A place usually reserved for prisoners or wild dogs awaiting dispatch to Odin.
Karr wondered if Einar or perhaps Arric intended to dispatch Viya, if they did it would be a shame, for the more he watched her the more he realised that she was something special. Yes she had a kind of beauty which made him wonder if she had refused to lay with Einar or Arric. Perhaps he should break her in, then again if either of them wanted her in that way they would not want her soiled by him. Pity, well he could wait awhile longer, for the kitchen maid would warm his bed this Autumn. He would bide his time, and take his chance when he knew what Einar intended for the girl.
Viya saw the look in Karr’s eyes, she had seen that look many times, well Karr had better watch out, she knew he was vassal of Einar, but if he tried anything she would be ready. She had not wasted her time whilst trapped in this hell hole, she had honed a fine needle out of a splinter of wood, and she would drive it between is ribs if needed.
It time to go Miss, the lord demands it. We will be traveling fast and light. Viya knew he meant she should take the merest of luggage. Well she could travel light, and she would relish getting out of the underground cage. She slipped the fine wooden needle down the side of her moccasins. She was ready. Karr had escaped the needles pain, but she would still had to face Einar and Arric. Karr had her wrists bound and then groping her smiled, for he believed the lord Einar would do more. Karr consoled himself, entertainers approached, they had better be good.
The troupe came over the hills under my guidance, singers, musicians, and acrobat’s, my friend Dom was our guide. He knew these troubled lands well. So we advoided the black wolf clan and reached Einar’s house safely. None knew our real purpose, that night Karr laughed and relaxed, just as I had intended. The food and mead flowed freely and contentment filled the longhouse.
The first part of my plan complete I introduced Acitore. Her dance reached all, and as they laughed they drank of her special mead; even the three who stood guard. Soon all slept. I was tempted to part Karr from his head but Dom said not. So we bound Karr and all his household, then pulled up the floor. The cage that had held Viya was empty, our mission had failed.
Viya’s twin sister looked out over the wilderness, and wondered if her twin knew of her existence, separated at birth