So, as you all know, my little book saw the light last week and I announced it to the world here, on the Couch. Wait? You haven't heard? *gasp! shock! horror!* Well, you can read the deets here.
As a thank you for your support, I thought I'd share the prologue on the blog today, so you can get a taste of what's inside. So get ready to enter Beregor and meet Eva for the first time. :)
It had been an ambush.
Where there should have been only a single Elite and a small group of Guards with the supply train, they'd found no supply train at all. Instead, a squadron of Elites had been waiting for them.
From her vantage point, Mallory could see Eva clearly in the fringe of combat, leading the attack. It was a heartening sight. With every blow Eva faced, Mallory cringed, only to watch her sister parry the blow and strike her own, bringing down opponents as if they were no more than practice dummies. Hunter and Elliot fought by her sides, just as simply slaying the enemy and pushing forward with every Elite falling.
The Exile Army was winning, despite being the minority.
She made her way closer to the combat, never taking her eyes off Eva, who was shouting insults at the enemy and rallying her own troops all the while. It gave Mallory no small amount of pride to see her sister in action, leading the soldiers to victory so simple and effortlessly.
Mallory was so close now that blood splattered on her face. She wished she had a weapon, so she could join her sister and murder these Elite dogs, but Eva wouldn't allow it. Her little sister would never engage in combat. It didn't please Mallory, but she knew Eva simply wanted to protect her. Eva always said that taking a life was no small matter, even the life of an agent of the High King. Mallory couldn't see how it could be difficult to cut one of them down. She would feel no remorse if it were her blade sinking into their flesh.
The Exile Army pressed forward, driving the enemy closer to the edge of the Forest all the while. In the Forest, the Exiles were on home turf and the Elites would be much easier targets. The archers and other ranged units were hidden in the trees and the closer the Elites came to the foliage, the more of them fell to unseen foes.
Mallory heard a twig break. The hair on the back of her neck suddenly stood on end as she realised she was not alone.
"Oh, this is priceless."
Even without having to turn, Mallory knew who had spoken behind her. Fear took her, its icy fingers causing her to shiver.
Elite Lieutenant Ericson..., she thought, turning slowly.
His eyes were just as steely grey and mad as she remembered them, his reddish brown hair dishevelled and his mouth pulled into a wicked sneer. He had a pistol trained on her as he came closer.
"Unarmed!" he exclaimed and laughed. "Could Eva be so ignorant? Or was it you, little Mallory, who didn't stay where she told you to? Silly little girl! Walking right into my hands! Seems I'll live to see another day after all."
"Don't come closer, swine!" Mallory hissed, taking a step backward.
He said nothing, laughing maniacally from the pit of his stomach and taking her into an unbreakable grip. She instinctively did as Eva had taught her, forcefully lifting her knee and landing it in his crotch. He gasped in sudden pain, letting go of her for an instant, during which she turned and ran.
He was quicker than her, however, and caught her easily, causing her to scream for help, but the sound was lost in the raging battle. Before she could make another sound, he slapped a rough hand over her mouth and held her firmly against him with the other. Her back was turned to him and he forced her to move forward.
"Little bitch! You'll pay for that yet. What do you say we go and see your sister?" he whispered in her ear, his closeness making her nauseous. She wanted to shove him off her, to get away, but she could do nothing against his strength. If only she had listened to Eva and remained at camp...
Ericson took a winding path to the edge of the battle, making sure that none of the Exile Army could see them. The going was slow and tedious, with Mallory fighting him every step of the way, but eventually they broke through the massing soldiers. Her white dress was splattered with blood, some of it her own, due to her unwillingness to give in to him.
The Elite had been mumbling and ranting unintelligibly all the way but suddenly became silent. He chose a place out of the range of the archers, but in the path Eva would take, and they stood waiting.
By this time, the battle had almost come to a halt, the single remaining Elites being mercilessly killed where they lay while some others were trying to regroup in front of Ericson and Mallory.
She saw her sister as she approached, covered in blood and gore, her whip snapping in the air as a warning to the Elites in front of them. Her black hair billowed behind her in the wind and Mallory thought she looked like a Queen of Old in that moment. Elliot was laughing beside her and they were joined by many of the others, preparing themselves to end the battle.
Ericson chuckled and gave a step forward. "EVA!" he bellowed and her head snapped to meet his gaze, her eyes locking with Ericson's. For a moment, even Mallory was afraid of her sister, her face contorted with rage and hate, malice dripping from her. But then the expression changed to one of pure, undiluted terror as she noticed Mallory in the monster's grip.
"No." Eva's mouth formed the single word. It was spoken so quietly that Mallory had not been able to hear it, but she could feel the weight of it anyway.
Instantly, the advance of the Exile Army stopped. She could see their eyes, the same terrified expression crossing each of their faces as they saw her. A thousand emotions ran through Mallory's mind, but none could pinpoint what she was feeling.
"Let her go, Cannikin!" Elliot demanded as he inched forward. Cannikin was Elliot's special name for the Elite. It meant 'plague' in Circle Flash; a fitting description. It was clear in Elliot's expression that he knew he could never fling his daggers at that distance and Eva's fear was apparent in him as well. Mallory saw his mouth form words and she could make out 'Arrow'. Eva shook her head.
So even Arrow wouldn't be able to save her now.
The Elites in front of them started pacing backward, seeing their escape with Ericson, some vigour returning to them. They formed a protective line in front of him, blocking the attack from all sides.
"Let my sister go and I'll let you live." Eva said levelly, but her eyes were maddened and her sabre trembled in her hand.
Ericson laughed, letting go of Mallory for a moment and lifting his arms in a welcoming gesture. "Come and claim her, Princess."
There was a moment of complete silence as Eva and the Elite stared murder at each other. His arm slapped around Mallory's waist again, but he left her mouth uncovered.
"I'm sorry, Eva." she called, but still her sister did not take her eyes from the Elite.
"I'm coming, Mal." she called back, determination audible in every syllable.
Mallory knew that Eva could not see the knife Ericson was sliding up her back. She felt the stabs of pain as it sliced her open, but she kept her expression neutral, since she didn't want to add to her sister's pain. For Mallory knew, without a doubt, she was going to die. There was no way Eva, or any of the others, could reach her in time. Arrow would have been able to do it, but she was somewhere concealed in the trees with the rest of the ranged soldiers, probably unaware of what was happening.
Even if they managed to kill Ericson where he stood, he wouldn't die without taking her with him. Mallory only wished she could tell her sister to let her go.
She was at peace. If her time had come now, in her seventeenth year, she was ready to face it.
Blood ran down her, dripping into a pool on the ground and colouring the grass crimson below her. Something in Mallory's face must have changed, because Eva suddenly frowned deeply and noticed the growing pool of blood under her sister's feet.
"I'll kill you." Eva said, her voice so fierce that it made Mallory shiver.
"You can try, Eva." Ericson spat. "But you will fail, like you have failed before."
"ATTACK!" Eva bellowed and the result was instant.
Soldiers stormed towards them, weapons raised and ready. Eva's eyes never left Mallory's, sending a single message; 'I'm coming'. But Mallory knew it could not be. She smiled her bravest smile and spoke a message of her own, repeating it over and over again.
"I love you, Evangeline."
The knife plunged into her back.
Eva's eyes widened in horror, the realisation that she was too late seeming to weigh her down for a moment, but she never stopped racing toward Mallory, roaring wordlessly in defiance.
Pain seared through her as the blade entered her heart.
Ericson let go of her, running as fast as he could to get away. Mallory didn't see his retreat, sinking to her knees and gasping for breath through the shock of pain.
Everything seemed to happen slowly then; people moved as if caught in quicksand. Many of the other Elites turned to follow Ericson and nothing could be done to stop them. Ericson was too far away and he disappeared into a field of corn.
"NO! NOT THIS TIME!" Eva growled, but she didn't follow him, keeping on course to where Mallory had fallen.
Mallory noticed strange details as the life drained out of her; small insects in the grass, a bird soaring above them, a blade of grass with a single drop of blood on its tip. Sound was ripped from her world and beautiful colours swam around her vision.
Eva was on top of her suddenly, pulling the knife out of Mallory's back. She was shouting orders, saying things to Mallory as her tears dripped all over her little sister's face. Mallory could hear nothing of it, simply smiling, but knowing her sister was begging her to live.
It was starting to get darker, faces blurred slightly.
Tears made rows of skin visible on Elliot's blood covered face. He was staring at her disbelievingly, sitting on the grass and clenching her hand. Hunter's hand was on Eva's shoulder and Mallory had never seen such sorrow on his face, even though he wasn't weeping. Thomas knelt down, tears dripping into his beard. Arrow came running, though it didn't seem very fast to Mallory at all, light bouncing off her bald head and her mouth pulled into an open outcry. Other faces came closer, but she could no longer make out who they were.
Mallory saw the dust sparkling in the sunlight and looked at Eva a last time, still smiling, before everything was dark.
Now, if you want more, there are just 47 chapters waiting to be read by none other than you! It's available as ebook in an Amazon store near you!! As for hard copies, a lot of my South African comrades have been complaining that it's not available in print yet. I'm sorry about this, but at this point I don't have the moola to get it printed, but I will eventually. Until then, the Kindle app is free to download!! You can read from your tablet, ipad, phone or computer if you don't have an e-reader.
Thank you for your support!!
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,