I have no idea whether or not we're supposed to do this, or if it's frowned upon, but I felt the need to post something to give you-my most awesome and loyal readers-a taste of the novel I'm working on. Just so you know I'm not one of those kooks that can't write about anything except vampires. (Although I do adore those kooks!!)
Here's a sneak peek at the opening for Dreamwalker:
I was running. Running. And the faster I ran, the further away the safety and security of the castle seemed to be. The ground was cold beneath my bare feet, and littered with rocks and twigs, but despite the pain and blood, I couldn’t allow myself to think of anything but running. Hazarding a glance behind me, I could see the faces of the angry villagers in the orange glow of the torches, each one twisted with rage and disgust.
With renewed fear and strength, I sprinted toward the castle, finally close enough to believe I had a chance of escape. If only I could make it inside my family’s castle, the guards would stop these maniacal men and women before they could harm me or my family.
I could feel the heat on my back from the innumerable torches, could hear the shouts behind me, insulting and crude. My skirts were dirty and tattered as they caught on the passing branches, but I couldn’t let it slow me. My panic was at an all-time high, and with my last ounce of strength, I forced my legs to move faster, pushing through the burning pain in my muscles. The cold air was stinging my lungs with each gasping breath. Safety was within my reach. Another 20 feet and I would be inside the outer wall, and the guards would protect me.
Finally, I was within a few steps of the outer wall, the mob had fallen back just a bit, and I thought I was finally safe. That was, until I ran directly into the hard-bodied knight that had materialized between me and the safely of my kingdom. It was like running face first into a brick wall with arms that wrapped around and crushed the air out of me.
“Gotcha, you little witch!” he snarled in a gravelly voice.
“Please,” I begged breathlessly as I dangled in his arms, barely able to struggle against him. “Please, sir! I am not a witch! I beg you, release me and you shall never see me again!”
“Nay! You will pay for your crimes against the Church, and against God, witch!”
He carried me several steps to the left of the entrance to the outer wall, where a carriage waited, a traveling cage attached to the rear. I was thrown roughly into the cage, scraping my hands and crashing against one of the metal bars with my head, instantly sending my vision blurry and a warm trickle of blood oozed from the open wound. I sat up as the villagers drew close. They began spitting and throwing rocks at me, cursing me and calling me a villain. I scooted to the center of the small boxy cage and curled up into a ball, trying to make as small a target as possible for those that wished me ill. With my knees pulled up to my chest and my arms wrapped around them, making a ring for me to hide my face, I wept.
The carriage pulled away, and the cage teetered back and forth across the uneven terrain. The villagers fell in behind the cage as the knights surrounded it, surely making sure I didn’t somehow escape from their prison. The ride was tedious and long, and occasionally a young boy would sneak past the knights to poke me with a sharp stick or throw a rock at my head. Of course, the knights did nothing but send the children back to the mob again, often with a grin upon their faces.
When we arrived in the village from which I had so recently fled, I was greeted with more jabs from sticks, more rocks being thrown, and more hateful insults. The carriage took me to the center of town, where the village nobles, the priests, and the duke that governed the area waited patiently around a large wooden pole secured firmly in the cobblestone road and surrounded by kindling.
I started screaming when I saw it, begging for mercy, denying their accusations, pleading for the sake of my family that I be released. This only brought more insults and heinous laughter. We stopped in front of the pole, and the villagers soon filled in any empty seats to watch the show.
“Vivian Cottonsworth,” one of the head knights began. “You have been accused and found guilty for crimes against the Church, crimes against, God, and crimes against humanity, for the acts of practicing witchcraft. What have you to say for yourself?”
“I swear it is not so! I am not a witch, I swear it, I swear it!” I cried. “The boy had a cut, he was bleeding! I simply made a quick tincture of herbs to lessen the pain and slow the bleeding! I never hurt anyone, and I’m not a witch! I cast no spells, I am no witch!”
“Lies! Lies from the Devil himself, spoke through the mouth of a witch!” the knight’s voice boomed like thunder.
The priest approached the cage and began reading from the bible as I cried and screamed, denying their ridiculous accusations.
“My dear child, if you repent and accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your life, you have the chance for God to have mercy on your soul. Denounce your heretic ways and repent, and God may forgive your wrongdoings. Do you ask forgiveness for your sins?”
“Yes, yes, Father!” I said eagerly, hoping this would save me. “I graciously accept God into my life and I beg his forgiveness! Please, please Father, let me go!”
He sighed, clearly upset with his position in this spectacle.
“Child, your fate in this life is sealed, and none can change this. May God have mercy on your soul and have a special place for you in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
He backed away slowly, and I realized that despite always having been a good little Christian girl, one random act of kindness was going to end my life. I couldn’t understand what kind of God would allow an innocent woman to be murdered for helping another person.
The door to the cage opened, and two knights came in to retrieve me, each grabbing one of my arms and yanking me out of my cell. They dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the wooden pole, and a third knight tied my hands together behind me, securing me tightly to the pole. After binding my feet to the pole I was left alone against the pole, and the kindling was shifted to form a complete circle, blocking the path that was used to lead me to my fate. The head knight stood next to the Duke, who had a front row seat to my death and yet still appeared bored and slightly irritated.
“Vivian Cottonsworth,” the knight’s voice boomed again. “By order of Duke Hamish Chastain, ruler of the village of Coeur de Saints, for your crimes of witchcraft you have been sentenced to death by fire. Have you any last words?”
An eerie silence fell upon the crowd. I took a deep, shattered breath, raised my weary head and looked upon the villagers.
“God is no longer with you.”
With anger flashing in all their eyes, the torture resumed. The duke himself, finally showing emotion, seemed infuriated. He stalked over to the villagers, grabbed a torch from one of them, and turned to face me, his eyes full of venomous hate.
“Die, you Godless witch!” he screamed as he lowered the torch to the kindling.
Following suit, the knights also lowered their torches, and the kindling immediately set ablaze, the flames licking at my feet and skirts. The heat was unbearable, and I screamed as the fire quickly raged and blistered my feet and legs. The agony was torture. I felt my skin being charred as the flames engulfed my body from the bottom up. A searing hot pain ripping through my body and boiling my insides. I let out one last woeful and agonizing scream as the flames burned the last of my flesh from my face.
I had so much fun writing this, it was literally as though the story wrote itself! And it just keeps telling me more and more! I'm so glad to be taking part in this challenge!