Yeah… I just have to get brave enough… It’s such a scary thing. I’ve written for myself forever. Writing something others might read…. makes me nervous. 😀
Here’s just a little piece… from the prologue (the formatting changed when I pasted it… hopefully it’s still readable. The spoiler tag is kinda weird colored.):
[spoiler]She slept fitfully that night, waking often. The last time she woke, daylight peeked in the small holes he carved in the roof of the cave. She sat up and looked back at the fur lined bed, but he wasn’t there. She smelled something odd, decaying meat or damp fur and burning. She dressed quickly, pulling on the simple clothes she wore the day before and clamored down to the cave floor.
He stood in the center of the room by the fire pit listening, a torch in his good hand. She crept closer to him.
“Someone in the cave,” he whispered. “They’re burning the trees.”
They listened and heard nothing, but the acrid dry ashes floated down from openings all around them.
“There goes all our wood.”
He handed her the torch and unsheathed his knife, then crouched and listened.
“How did they learn to use fire?” He mumbled to himself as he peered at all the dark openings around them. He frowned, his eyes drifting far away for a long moment.
“Get the pack,” he whispered. Nira turned sharply to him, her lips parted. His eyes met hers. “Get it now.”
She hesitated, a shudder passing through her, but turned and ran to the kitchen, opening one thick door on the left side of the basin. She hefted out the heavy gray thing, hand stitched by him from thick canvas he bought from traders passing through. She lugged it and the torch back to him.
“Drop the torch and put it on,” he said.
She did as he told her to. Just as she got it in position on her back, she heard it. Chittering, clicking echoes all around them, like thousands of tiny nails all tapping on the stone together. A low droning note vibrated up from below her feet, a throat song, deep and continuous, and from all directions.
“Nox,” he whispered. “Battle song.” He turned to her, touching her arm with his useless metal hand, his eyes, panicked but piercing with determination, stared deeply into hers. “You know what to do,” he said. “I’ll keep them off you. Get out and go to Staeryn.”
“But, Master, I can’t leave you!”
“No,” he said. Anger flared across his face. “You can’t fight them. Run. Run now.”
She stared up at him, shivering.
The first of the little creatures appeared behind him. Nira’s voice caught in her throat. He turned and killed the thing with his dagger, making a clean cut, slicing a red line across its neck. At the scent of fresh blood, the vibrating note changed octaves. He stepped close to her and kissed her lips, holding her head with his metal hand.
“Run, Nira. This is it. Go. Fast as you can.”
She stared up at him as four more of the creatures, their wide mouths with gnashing jagged teeth, their thin limbs with sharp thorn-like black claws, jumped and climbed and bounced into the room, with the thunder of many more approaching. Their tiny gold eyes squinted through mottled black and dark brown fur. He killed each one in turn, but as one went down four or more appeared from openings all over the cave in their place. Shock and fear held her there as he killed them, blood spraying, the tiny things’ death screeches piercing her head.
“Nira,” he said again, his voice pleading. “Run, now!”
Her heart stabbed at her as she watched his swinging blows, no longer able to kill them on first strike. The noxairu adapted quickly. They changed tactics, attacking two or more at time. He struggled to keep them off of her. One swiped her ankle, slicing her in a long clean line. She startled at the pain, waking up from her shock induced daze. She staggered backwards.
“Good girl,” he yelled breathlessly as he swung, knocking them aside with his metal hand and stabbing and slicing them with his dagger. “Run!”
She scrambled to the kitchen as a dozen of the things chased after her, all fur and teeth and spindly legs. They snatched at her feet and tried to jump at her back.
“Don’t stop,” he yelled. “And don’t look back! Take the ladder door! Now!”
She snatched up the iron pan they cooked fish in the night before, laying clean by the basin, and whacked several as she backed to the wood ladder in the corner. She climbed up, holding on with one hand as she swung the pan, hitting two or more with every swing. As she cleared the top of the kitchen, she could see down into the open cave room again. He stood in the center still, dozens of the horrid black things attacking him, many all at once. He faced her, catching a quick glimpse as she appeared over the kitchen roof.
“Good girl,” he said. Three of them jumped on his back, clawing at his face. He yelled and tried to shake them off as more attacked his sides. The chant raised a bit higher, the war song continuously changing. She yelped as he dropped to one knee.
“Run, Nira! Please girl!”
He looked up at her, his right eye bleeding, his shirt shredded, blood oozing now as much from him as them. Still he fought, trying to get back on his feet, but they swarmed him and he dropped. The screeching blood cry pierced her ears. They dove in for the final assault.
“Nira,” he yelled, his voice gurgling and half choked. “Run!”
For a moment it felt as if everything stopped. He stared up at her and she at him. She lifted the hatch above her without looking away. Sunlight streamed down. The little gnashing creatures at her ankles screamed and fell back to the shadows of the cave. One recovered before the others, swiping at her and connecting, cutting a deep gnash along her calf. She cried out and whacked it with the pan. When she looked back at her master, his head dropped. He lay still as they clawed at his body, ripping his clothing to shreds. Tears burned her eyes, but the nox turned to her as one now. She pulled herself together enough to climb out into the sunlight, slam the door behind her and run into the harsh dry desert heat, their war tone changing yet again. She ran to the old road, still carrying the pan, the hatch to the kitchen bursting open behind her. They chittered and screeched at the light, but some ventured out to chase her, so she ran faster, the heavy pack swaying from side to side, streams of tears streaking her cheeks. She ran until her body ached, finally collapsing in the thin spotty grass by the road, the sounds far behind her now. She cried in earnest, sobs shaking her shoulders. She clenched up her face, the tears streaming, turning up to the morning sun. She shook her head, grimacing in pain and peered back through the wavy heat of the desert sands toward the cave, seeing a few noxairu heads bobbing up and down as they chased her. She scrambled to her feet and ran again, following the road to the north, the road to The Coffin Nail.