Welcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at The Bawdy Book Blog. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story.
This Week’s Excerpt: Ill-Fated by Evelyn Ink!
“The stars have aligned to make my life grim and loathsome,” fourteen year old Leila Edgewick stands on the brink of disaster, balancing the fate of Bainland and her father’s legacy against a vague, ill-fated prophecy. A meaningless number, a luckless red moon, and worst of all– a star that falls south– send Leila on a quest she does not expect to survive. Simultaneously, an unknown boy wakes up in the sunken hull of a decrepit cargo ship. Captured and mind-locked, the boy– dubbed “Sam” by the ship’s crew– must escape the infamous Bonesplitter and the dark schemes of one Captain Erastacus Oren. All the while, Leila journeys out of Bainland. Crossing the wall for the first time in her life, she finds a world where magic meets machine. Aeroskiffs, daguerreotypes, and automatons merge with the ‘earthdolven’ magic of the South, leaving her to question what is sorcery and what is science? When Leila and Sam’s paths cross, fate ties them together and sends them deep into the Ramble in search of the Wasteland Witches and a healer named Atara Valatrix. Plagued by Sam’s erratic memory and Leila’s dubious rationale, they must outwit the southland drudge-hunters, and take on the dangers of the Ramble; sandwolves, bloodswamps, and the Kartivaus– the strange night creatures from the Shadowland. The Wasteland Witches, the Kartivaus, a bloody family history, and a deranged Grandfather add up to a wicked mess of clues to detangle. Even worse, as Leila’s quest unravels, Sam’s past is pieced together, and Leila must face up to a family history that could rip their friendship apart . . .
The sun was low. All day the clouds had been a dark line on the horizon, slowly unfurling. Now, pale sheets of rain, stretched down from the dark folds above, veiling the line where earth met sky. Leila, Sam, and Blister were on a southwesterly route, with the wind blowing up over the hills from the direction of the brewing storm. Leila wondered vaguely where these creatures, the Kartivaus, lived during the day? Did they have burrows in the desert like the Sandwolves? Did they hide in the rocks and caves . . .
Sam broke into her thoughts, “How much farther, you think?” “I have no idea. Why?” “Well, with that storm closing in, it’s going to get dark pretty quick.” “Maybe the Kartivaus don’t like rain.” She was half-joking. Sam said nothing, but Leila urged Blister
into a gentle lope, “Atara lives in a sort of windmill-house. Ash said we couldn’t miss it, it’s lit up like a beacon all through moonspell.”
The wind began to whip up around them, bushes of dead rashweed rolled across Blister’s path and it wasn’t long before they were being pelted by large drops of rain. Sam was right to be worried. The storm clouds pushed up against the ever-ashen skies of the Brackenfire Mountains, sealing them in darkness. Only when Leila looked back towards the southeast corner of the sky, could she see the pale blue of evening. Unfortunately, she also saw something else.
“Sandwolves,” Sam had to holler through the wind.
Leila nodded, to show she had heard. There were at least five, and all much larger than she would have guessed. The wolves were following from some distance, matching Blister’s gait with an easy, loping pace. Sam had said they attacked in packs, but would they try and take down a horse as large as Blisterwitch? For now at least, the wolves were keeping their distance, and riding into the wind, Leila doubted Blister had caught their scent.
As the rain increased to a downpour Leila lost sight of them, she had last counted eight. Sam pointed forward, “I think I see a light.”
Sure enough. Straight ahead something flickered, then steadily brightened. It was difficult to guess how far away the light might be. The rain was hard, but the wind was worse, biting their wet skin raw. They were squeezed together into the saddle, but Leila was already shaking from the cold.
A crackling rumble shuddered through the air, followed by several skittering flashes of lightening. For a split second, everything from the grass below Blister’s hooves to the distant hills, was lit up like day. Blister started, suddenly aware of the wolves, let out a screaming whinny and bolted. Rain was flung into Sam and Leila’s faces with such force, neither could see the road or the flickering light they hoped was Atara’s house.
Shooting through the darkness at such a terrifying pace, Leila was caught off guard by the sight of dark shapes suddenly surging in around them. The wolves. One leapt forward, teeth snapping. Jerking her foot back, Leila grabbed the blunderbuss, and when the wolf leapt again she slammed the butt of the gun into its head. Sam shouted something in her ear and pointed. Leila looked up. The light, larger and
glowing, was straight ahead. They might make it. Blister barreled on, but the wolves were closing in on both sides. Leila aimed the blunderbuss and fired, blowing a hole through the pack of shadows. Despite the good shot, she felt instant regret. The gun was spent. It would be impossible to reload.
“Lean forward,” Sam ordered.
Leila glanced back, Sam was fitting her arbalet to his forearm. She lay flat against Blister’s neck, so he could turn and aim, taking one creature out just as it leapt at Blister’s hindquarters. As Sam reloaded, a sharp, painful jerk sent Leila lurching sideways off the horse. One of the wolves had got ahold of her boot. She screamed throwing her arms around Blister’s neck. There was a clink and thwap next to her ear, as a bolt sunk through the wolf’s head. Another leapt, but she had regained her balance and hammered the butt of the blunderbuss right down into its gaping mouth.
The light was as bright as a beacon now. Sam was drawing faster. Each thwap was followed by a yelp or yowl, but the only thing truly saving them was the horse’s blistering pace.
Despite the rain, Leila could see they were at the base of a hill, the outline of a small windmill sat, windows lit up and glowing through the rain, but with the slope of the hill, Blister was losing ground to the pack. Sam let our a sudden scream of pain. His body wrenched left, almost dragging both of them out of the saddle. Leila lost hold of the blunderbuss to keep ahold of Sam. He was being drug to the ground, one of his legs firmly in the mouth of an enormous grey-black beast.
Luckily, the arbalet, strapped to his right arm, had hooked around the saddle, caught, and held fast. Sam kicked at the wolf violently with his free foot. Another wolf lunged, but Blister kicked it away. “Hold on!” Leila cried, suddenly remembering her sword. She ripped it from the scabbard near the saddle horn, and turned, but something odd was happening. The wolf had let loose on its own, and was now yelping and hopping about as though mad. Leila yanked Sam back into the saddle, and Blister plunged on. Leila and Sam turned and watched in shock as the wolves, scattered and yowling, disappeared into the darkness.
“Not the Kartivaus?” Sam was slumped forward now, breathing hard. Leila glanced at Blister, despite the horses heaving chest she appeared calm. “No. I don’t think so.”
She looked at Sam. Rain was running down his face, dripping off his hair and lips. He looked ashen in the darkness. There was blood and water, dripping––draining down the side of the horse. Leila went dizzy at the sight of it.
About the Author
Follow Evelyn Ink around the web:
The plaque on my lawn reads the Edgington Mansion, it was once thought to be lovely I suppose, though now rather decrepit and quite full of secrets. I live here with my husband. He is a philosopher, and quite mad. Our house is full of books. Stacked, piled, and always advancing out and away from the shelves that ought to keep them in. I paint and draw, write and read, and occasionally go down into the dark, dismal, cobweb- creepy dungeon, to do laundry.
If interested, you may choose to follow me on my blog or check in with me on facebook. However, due to my absolute terror of electronics and a crippling phobia of the social media (technical term: Socmephobia), my blog posts tend to be infrequent and erratic. Also, due to several post exile investigations I am generally prevented from giving any specific information regarding my whereabouts …
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