Simplify

I’m sitting here wondering what to blog about… when it hit me.

I talked yesterday about how I’ve been thinking about how to rework the beginning of MAGIC WITHIN. And the more I thought about it he, more I realized I had to do it. So, since it’s a work in progress and since I really have nothing much to say today (I know – startling, right?), I figured I post a small excerpt of the rewrite with the new beginning. I’ve decided to change it up and simplify things a bit. Anyway – enjoy!

Leath Cuinn, Season of Dark

“Tis a bit cold for Harvest Festival this year, isn’t it?” Kincaid Degair said.

Eirhan Keary tucked a wayward red-gold lock behind her ear and gave her childhood friend, Kincaid, a sideways glance. He pulled his cloak tighter around his slender frame and flashed her a grin. Standing a head taller than she, he pulled his hood over his wavy dark hair to ward off the cold north wind.

“Yes,” she agreed. “A bit unusual for Harvest.”

Harvest Festival was an annual rite she had attended with her mother for as long as she could remember. As she and Kincaid stood on the edge of the main square, they watched the townsfolk complete building the first bonfire of the season. Six foot logs pointing upward formed a V and peat moss surrounded the bottom. Jalinda, her regal mother, wore her white gown with the gilt edges and a white fur-lined cloak. Her red hair hung down the length of her back in waves and Eirhan couldn’t help but admire her. She looked so striking and noble next to the rotund ceannard of the village. The oversized governor dabbed at his brow, which Eirhan thought strange since the cold wind cut right to the bone. She shivered.

Kincaid threw an arm around her shoulders and hugged her. “Cold?”

“A bit,” she said and glanced around the square.

It was a bustle of activity with the same townsfolk she had known all her life. All wearing the same colorful Harvest clothing in vibrant reds, yellows, and golds they had worn every year. The shops lining the main thoroughfare were decorated in festival colors as well. Every window hosted two candles, one burning and one unlit, to signify the outgoing Season of Light and incoming Season of Dark.

But something seemed out of place. Mayhap it was the dark threatening clouds overhead yet the first snowfall usually happened on Winter’s Night and it was still a fortnight away. And I will be another year older.

Her mother had promised she would pass the family’s sacred pendant, the seun rhusag, to her on her twenty-first birthday. But now, Jalinda wore the flat disk with the amber crystal in the center around her neck, her hand clasping the long chain as she prepared to bless the first bonfire of the Season. Coner, Kincaid’s father, hurried up to Jalinda and the ceannard. He took her by the elbow and led her a few steps away from the governor. Whatever he said to her made Jalinda scan the crowd. Even from her distance, Eirhan could see the worry crease her mother’s brow.

“What’s amiss?” Kincaid said then, breaking into Eirhan’s thoughts.

“You’ve noticed too?” She met his whisky-colored gaze.

He nodded and dropped his arm, scanning the crowd. Coner and her mother continued to converse. Jalinda stiffened at something Coner said. Eirhan wished she were closer and could hear what the two discussed. Eirhan glanced across the main square and spotted a tall, dark-haired man with a square chin who seemed to be staring with a piercing blue gaze at her mother and Coner. Cold fear trickled up her spine and a ball of fright settled in her chest.

“Kincaid, who is that man?” she asked and nodded in his direction.

“I’ve not seen him at Harvest.”

“Nor I,” she agreed. And still she felt the cold fear heavy in her chest.

Eirhan scanned the milling townsfolk again and noticed, then, a man dressed in black and wearing a dark hooded cloak. It wasn’t that his black cloak was unusual, but it was unusual he wore all back. Harvest was a time of rejoicing and all those present wore bright cheerful colors. This man, however, wearing all black had to be a sign.

“Kincaid, look.” She gripped his arm, hard, and nodded in the direction of the man in black.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” he said.

But he didn’t sound too certain of that, doing nothing to dismiss that feeling of foreboding.

***

“Jalinda, a word, if you please.”

Coner had never interrupted her at Harvest Festival before. Especially when she was about to bless the first bonfire of the Season. So when she saw him hurrying to her, his face creased with concern, it immediately signaled a warning.

“What is it, Coner?”

He took her by the elbow and led her out of earshot of the rotund and sweating ceannard.

“Coner, I must protest!  Jalinda is about to issue the blessing,” he said and dabbed at his perspiring forehead once again.

“A moment, Caellach,” Coner said, then turned back to her and lowered his voice. “You need to take Eirhan and get out of here immediately.”

“Why?” She didn’t like his tone and she certainly didn’t like the look of concern on his face as he glanced through the crowd.

“I’ve found it,” he said, dropping is voice.

“The sword?” she asked.

“Aye, and there have already been men here looking for it. They destroyed the shop. If they’re looking for the sword, then they’re looking for me, too.”

“By the gods, Coner.” Her heart thumped a hard cadence. Coner’s strength was unshakable so to see him in such a state sent fright through her. “What are you planning to do?”

“I have to leave here with it. I’m taking it to a safe place and Kincaid is coming with me.”

She glanced toward their children, saw them standing together on the edge of the main square. “So tell me, my friend, why you think my daughter and I need to leave as well?”

With his eyes on the crowd around them, he dropped his voice even lower. “There are whisperings of an attack. Jalinda, if they know I have the sword, then they know you’re here.”

“And Eirhan,” she whispered.

“Aye, and Eirhan. You’re in danger and so is she. Caellach knows, I think. It’s why he continues to sweat profusely despite the cold north wind.” He gripped her elbow tighter. “They’ve found you.”

Those three words sent terror through her. She had hoped she would never hear them in her lifetime and Eirhan would be forever safe by her concealment spell. If Coner suspected danger, then she knew she had to find a way out of the city and back home.

“I can’t leave, not yet.”

“Jalinda—”

“I know what you’re gong to say, Coner.” She blew out a breath, trying to maintain control. “But if I leave now before blessing the bonfire, it could raise more suspicion with Caellach.”

“And if you delay another second, you could be killed. Jalinda, please, I beg you. Get out while you can.”

“I cannot.” Despite his warning, she swallowed hard and looked again at the governor who wrung his hands. “And you know why. The Protectorate—”

“Is all but extinct!” he growled.

Jalinda met his dark black gaze, forcing herself to be calm. “Save for one.”

“And he is not ready,” Coner replied, lowering his voice. “Jalinda, get out of here before it’s too late. Get to Doane.”

“Do not speak his name to me ever again.” For hearing it sent a pang of longing and remorse through her. How could Coner be so callous as to speak his name to her now? He may as well as stabbed her in the heart. “I have a bonfire to bless.”

She stepped around Coner, grasped her pendant in her hand, and forced a smile. “Now, Governor, shall we commence?”

By Michelle

I love dragons, castles, fairies and elves. I drink coffee, wine and martinis. Fantasy, paranormal and contemporary romance author. Proud Texan.