Can you, in less than five words describe your story?
Dark fantasy, shapeshifters, dragons, elves
What inspired you to write it?
Fisherpriest came out of a scene in another story, Shadow Trap, where the heroes of that tale cross paths with the heroes of this one. I wanted to explore a bit of Linna’s past, and see where she went after they all fled the temple in Faerclay. It’s a tale of fantasy and adventure, with a touch of romance, but it’s also a tale with some very dark elements that were difficult to write.
And here's the snippet!
This excerpt is taken from an encounter with a group racially puritanical White Mountain tribeselves, who object to the protection Linna and Tarquin have received from the elven nation with whom they need to make a treaty. Linna has gone swimming with the women and surfaced to find the White Mountains on the riverbank.
I half-turned until I could see where Tarquin stood, without losing my own view of the Silver Mountain tribesman. My prince carried a fully-drawn forester’s bow in his hands, and he was not alone. Half a dozen of Alandor’s people stood by him, their bows also fully drawn.
It looked, judging from the ill-concealed smirk on Remahl’s face, and the edge of a smile Alandor wore, that the insult of Tarquin speaking directly to the tribeselves had been planned in advance.
Alandor stepped forward before Golden Eyes could reply.
“You threaten my scouts and a guest of my camp. That is most undiplomatic. Your chief shall hear of it.”
There was a stirring at the rear of the assembled Silver Mountains. They parted to reveal another of their number.
“His chief already knows,” the chieftain said, quietly releasing the pull on his bow.
Alandor reddened, the smile falling away as anger took its place.
“You would condone this?” he snapped. “You violate the treaty!”
“The treaty remains unbroken; your people are intact as are your guests.” The chieftain spat the last word, snarling it, turning it into a curse, the name of a disease he hated to speak.
“Nevertheless, you threatened them.”
“The threat came from a warrior whose lack of wisdom will be redressed.”
Golden Eyes stiffened, the mask of scorn frozen on his face. Another of his number, this one I thought of as Straw Hair because of his light-colored mane, laid a covert hand on his knee and the pale blue of his eyes conveyed such sympathy that I wondered what form of redress could be so bad.
Remahl’s words from the evening before rose unbidden to my mind ‘You are wiser to choose the thargramorg and beg them for the mercy of captivity in their hands.’
Golden Eyes query rose above my thoughts.
“My lord,” he began, addressing his chief, “I was not aware that it was wrong to taunt the keepers of filthy beasts.”
“Only when we wish to treat with them,” his chieftain answered, and I felt Katya’s fingers break skin at the softly spoken savagery in his voice.
Golden Eyes bowed his head and the chieftain returned his attention to Alandor.
“There will be concessions demanded in the treaty talks to repay our insult,” he said.
“The queen’s representative will arrive within the hour,” Alandor told him. “Your people will be ready to receive her. And you are not the only ones who will be seeking concessions for this insult.”
“As you say,” the chieftain replied, then he barked an order that sounded like a spitting growl and the tribeselves melted back into the scrub and rocks that lined the river’s edge.
When they had gone, a pair of Alandor’s scouts crossed the river on a footbridge of branches. Tarquin eased his bow to half tension until they returned.
“Clear?” Alandor asked.
The scouts nodded. “All is clear, my lord. They returned to camp.”
“We will be one short at the fire tonight,” the other added. “The Silver Mountains are not kind to those who cause them embarrassment.”
Alandor nodded. Katya released her grip on my shoulder and led the way to the bank.
“We had almost finished bathing, my lord,” she said. “We did not mean to be so long.”
“Your apology is unnecessary, Lady Katya,” Alandor replied. “Your duties were discharged honorably and with greater courage than I should have asked. Remahl will see to their safety now.”
The bushes rustled and shook, and another of Alandor’s scouts appeared. He carried two small packs.
“I have what you asked, my lord,” he said.
“Leave them here,” Alandor ordered, then turned to Katya. “My lady, we are deploying in Rondel Nine. I will need your people as soon as they are dressed. Kyroneth has rations by the central fire. Gather them before you go.”
The scouts were moving now. I followed them out of the water, separating my hair into three thick strands and braiding it as I reached the bank.
Tarquin had eased the pull on the bow, until only the tension of being strung was left. He made to hand it back to Alandor, but the elf captain shook his head.
“Keep it,” he said, “in memory of Al A’Harimmal. Use it with honor.”
We were alone, except for Remahl.
Alandor turned to him as I brushed the front of my tunic smooth and reached for my boots.
“All speed, my cousin,” he said, “and may you find rest in safety.”
“I will guide them with swiftness and lay my trust in the queen,” Remahl replied. “More than that I cannot ask.”
“Lay your trust in the gods, Remahl,” Alandor admonished, “for I fear the queen will not be able to stay their hand in this matter. If the thargramorg are rising we must make an alliance with the Silver Mountains, no matter how high we think the price.”
“The gods it shall be,” Remahl replied, “and may happiness rest between the houses Grevonel and Serinow.”
Alandor blushed. “I have not asked the lady, Remahl. How can I know if your wishes are not premature?”
Remahl smiled then.
“Trust me, my lord cousin. My wishes are never premature. I will send a gift, even if I cannot attend.”
Tarquin handed me a pack as I stood from lacing my boots. My club followed, and our fingers touched as I took the smooth wood from his hand. The contact made me smile and I lost the thread of conversation that passed between Remahl and Alandor as Tarquin pulled me close.
“I am so glad you’re safe,” he murmured, his breath warm in my hair. “I don’t know what I would have done.”
I hugged him in return, not daring to look into his face and see the shadow of a feared pain in his eyes.
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