I live! Freaking hotspot was acting up and I felt so cut off.
I had a wonderful birthday filled with awesome people. I've been writing like crazy, aside from the last day or so. (Stomach bug hit the house. Oi.)
I haven't heard back, yet, from my MS request, but I'm hopeful still. With the holidays coming up, I'm kinda expecting it to be January before I hear either way.
I'm jetting off to work shortly, but I wanted to share a bit more of Dark Ember. There are definitely some High Fantasy elements to this tale, the scope of it has gone far beyond what I expected. I love it, though. It may be my favorite thing I've ever written.
Enjoy the excerpt and have an awesome day!
They stood in the clearing, listening as the footsteps drew nearer. Rex kept his hands held in front of him, hoping against hope nothing had happened to the hunter who befriended him.
Her voice drained some of the panic and tension, but not enough for him to snuff out the fire in his hands.
“You ok?” Jonas called out, his .9mm still aimed in front of his body.
“Yeah. We have a guest.”
Swift stepped into the clearing, her bow slung over her shoulder. Rex’s gaze swept over her, ensuring she was unharmed before his gaze found the hulking creature following her.
He was enormous, standing an easy foot over Swift’s head. Thick muscles bunched at his arms, bared by the sleeveless smock he wore. His flesh was a muted green, his face rugged though not too inhuman, excepting the tusks peeking up from his bottom lip. His clothing was clean, though definitely not new. Long, black hair was twisted into braids that lay on each shoulder.
On one of those broad shoulders stood a very small, very wiggly little wyrm.
“Oh, my God.”
“Yeah.” Swift said, depositing the haunch of whatever animal she had killed near the fire. “I caught him trying to sneak up on me in the woods.”
Neither Rex nor Jonas sheathed their weapons as the newcomer stood at the edge of the clearing. Ember had gone back to her corner, purring contentedly. Rex sent her a grumpy nudge, which she promptly ignored.
“I think you can unclench.” Swift’s voice was amused. “If he was a threat, he’d be in chains.”
Rex, reluctantly, allowed the fire in his hands to die. His stomach immediately began to grumble.
So, using the firedrake power did run him low on energy. Good to know. He’d have to start carrying snacks.
Jonas slowly clicked the safety onto his gun, then slid it into his waistband. Swift had already butchered some of her kill and in seconds, the scent of cooking meat filled the clearing.
The green-hued stranger stepped cautiously toward Swift, handing her the vegetables he’d been carrying in those massive hands. As he moved, the little wyrm flapped on uncertain wings toward Rex. He held his hands out eagerly, catching the little creature as it chirped merrily.
“Hello, little one.” Rex said quietly. “How did you get here?”
“I removed him from the dwarf.” The gruff growl of the stranger’s voice forced Rex to turn toward him. “The wyrm is a child of DeRoc, we do not do well in cages.”
Swift looked up, shaking her head. “Orcs are a little particular about things from their realm.”
“You’re from DeRoc.”
Rex felt the swell of sorrow from the creature sharing his body, the homesickness threatening to steal his breath. In a flash, he saw a range of snow-capped volcanoes, lush jungles and scorched desert. A realm of flame and heat and growth. Rex reached out to comfort Ember, the wyrm scampering up to sit on his shoulder.
“I am Rhama Bloodbane.” The stranger said, inclining his head respectfully. “And I know what you are.”
At this, the orc slid gracefully to his knees and genuflected in Rex’s direction. Astonished by the action, Rex turned to Swift for help. The hunter merely shrugged both shoulders, cleaning her hands on a cloth as the orc pressed his face into the damp loam beneath them.
“I don’t…” Rex hesitated. “I don’t understand.”
“Tell him to stand,” Jonas offered quietly. “Just give him permission to stand.”
Rex shot his friend a pained look, but cleared his throat quietly. “Please, Mr. Bloodbane, please stand.”
The orc took his feet as quickly has he slid to the ground. He looked nervous, but grateful. Rex’s stomach clenched ominously. Why had he done that?
“My people have stories of the Drakes.” Rhama explained. His voice was soft, deeply respectful. “We have stories that, one day, a firedrake will return and reignite the Great Forge of DeRoc. When I learnt what you had done with the wyrm, I knew it was my duty to follow you.”
Rex shot Swift a look, but her face had done blank. Jonas looked just as confused as Rex felt. He nudged Ember, entreating her to come out from her concealment. The fire dragon pressed forward, but she did not engage with him as he wished.
Instead, Ember sent him the image of his own hand clasped with Rhama’s and a single word.
“I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know if following me is going to do you any good, my friend.”
“I told him he was welcome to come with us to Heversuch. Perhaps there we will find the next steps.” Swift cut in. “For now, lets get some food into our bellies and get some rest. I’ll take the first watch.”
Hope you enjoyed!