Before we get to anything else, happy birthday Willem!! Yup, my brother in law is having his birthday today and he's fortunate enough to enjoy it on an amazing vacation. Boet, we hope you have an amazing day and you see awesome sights. We're extremely jealous, and we miss and love you loads!!
And then, before I go on with today's post, I have to remind you of the promotion that's running on my novel. If you want to get your hands on The Rise of the Exile Queen, now's your chance. It's now AVAILABLE FOR FREE ON AMAZON FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK!!!! (This promotion started on Thursday, 4 July 12:00 CET, and ends on Sunday, 7 July 2013, on whichever time Amazon removes it. :D)
And then just the administrative bits again : Please click here to download from Amazon. If you want to know what the novel's about, please click here. I have a pretty extensive post about it. And for the prologue, click here. (yes, I copied and pasted all of that from yesterday's post. I'm a copy and paste ninja.)
And with that, we go on to today's post!! Roxanne's story continues on the blog today, so get ready for some Araheim action.
Over the following days, Roxanne's hands completely returned to their solid state. She was thankful for this, to say the least.
The mood of the party was subdued; almost grim. Everybody seemed to be on edge, ready to strike at a moment's notice and looking for unseen enemies at every turn. They hadn't found an enemy yet and had been moving northward unchallenged. The fact that no one had tried to stop them so far made the others even more nervous and Roxanne soon realised that she was the only one who still slept.
She hadn't had another dream of her world again, and she was thankful about that too. She didn't want to think about going back home again, not when it meant she would have to leave Oliver behind. She was falling in love with him, though she hadn't admitted the fact aloud yet. But she didn't want to stay either, thinking about her friends and parents in her own world. Of course, since no one really spoke anymore, thinking was all she did during her waking hours.
The farther north they travelled, the more humid it became, until it was so hot that their sweat evaporated off their foreheads, moments after it formed there. Heat waves made shimmering ghosts on the barren plains that were the Blacklands. Nothing grew there, not even cacti or dry grass, and nothing moved on the plains, not even tumbleweeds.
There were no signs of life, it was just a desolate, cracked and dry mass of very dark sand. Roxanne had never seen such black sand before in her life, and she commented on it upon their arrival. Dusk had quietly informed her that the colour was due to the insistent baking of the sun, a fact Roxanne learned for herself soon after.
It was like being trapped inside an oven.
It didn't even cool during the night, like a desert in her own world would have. There was no wind, no life, nothing except the relentless heat of the sun.
Roxanne was thankful she didn't have to wear Reinhart's heavy plate armour, because she imagined he was slowly roasting inside it. But the knight never complained, he just pressed on and always took the first watch, as he'd done since she met him. Rocket mumbled that he was too stupid to feel the heat on more than one occasion.
The deeper they went into the Blacklands, the more oppressed Roxanne felt. It was as if her every step were being opposed, as if an unseen force were pushing her back every moment. She mentioned this to Oliver one night and he told her it was nothing, they all felt it, but she noticed he was watching her much closer after that.
It was on the fifth day inside the desert that Dusk called a party meeting. They all sat down and allowed her time to speak. She wasted no time with words, informing them unceremoniously that they were lost. "We can't keep going on this way. None of us really know where we're going and we'll die if we don't find water soon. Where is the hall of the Trickster? Didn't the Storyteller tell you, Oliver?"
Oliver shook his head. "All he said was that the corruption spreads farther in the north. He could feel his enemy is here, somewhere, but he wasn't able to pinpoint where. We'll have to press on. Cookie, how much do we have to survive on?"
The fat man rubbed his hands together for a moment before he answered. "Well, we should have enough water for a week more, if we ration ourselves. If we can find a source in the desert, we may stretch that a little, but I'm not accounting for the journey home then..."
"That's ill news." Dusk mumbled.
"As for food," Cookie continued, "we have travel cakes for two more weeks at least. I didn't leave that to chance. We may dry up like raisins, but no one will starve on my watch."
"How much farther do we need to go though?" Rocket asked, pulling at her flaming orange hair.
Roxanne looked at them unseeingly. "Not far now. I can feel him."
Somehow, that dried up the conversation completely. Without another word, the party got back up and started on in the direction they had been travelling. Oliver offered his arm to Roxanne, as he had on the day they met. This made her feel much better and she clung to him as if he was her last lifeline.
They hadn't gone very far when a group of men, clad all in black, jumped out of the sand.
Right, that's it for today. Now you know the drill by this time. You needz to getz your vote on!!
Who are the men in the sand?
Have a fantastic weekend folks!
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,