It’s Excerpt Monday time again. This was so much fun last month, I’m doing it again, this time with a scene that focuses on Malachy and Cerys in The Scroll Thief. For the sake of space, click More to read on.
Malachy had made his bed by the kitchen fire and woke early, with a pain in his back and a stiff neck, to the sound of activity and the smell of burning wood. Cerys stepped over him and lifted a pot over the dancing flames. She smiled and threw some of her dried leaves into the water while he grumbled himself awake.
“Are you always this pleasant in the morning?” she asked brightly.
“Comfortable in my bed, were you?” He sniffed the boiling liquid suspiciously. “What’s that? More medicine?”
“No. It’s tea. Best with just a little milk.”
He made a face at the bizarre suggestion. “Where’d you get that?”
“We drink it at home in Fean. It isn’t rare. People drink it all over the Holtlands.”
“You drink leaves?”
She poured it into a mug and offered it to him with a look of challenge. It smelled strangely appealing and, once she had added the milk, he sipped it tentatively. The taste reminded him of herbs and, for a startled moment, a childhood memory stirred, of sitting with his father, of a similar exotic scent. He drank the rest, all the time watching the girl. She moved around the kitchen as if she owned it, her neat figure swaying like a dancer.
“How’s Halia?” he asked.
“She needs sleep to recover.”
“Is it an enchantment?”
She glanced back at him, hearing the suspicions in his voice. “Of sorts. It makes you nervous, doesn’t it?”
He tried to shrug, but he knew he hadn’t fooled Cerys.
“There are laws against the use of magic in this city.”
“And I’m sure there are laws against what you do too,Malachy. But it isn’t magic in the way you think. It’s more like prayer. Is that illegal too?”
“It is if it looks like magic.” He finished the tea and brought the mug over to the washing bowl. “Why do you think I’m a thief?”
Malachy didn’t have any illusions about what he was, like some people he knew. But looking at Cerys, he didn’t want her to think what others thought of him. He had met no one like her in all Klathport. If she thought him just a criminal, it would hang between them like a stain on an otherwise clean sheet. Her copper eyes flickered over his face, bright with amusement as they studied his indecisive expression. She took his hand in hers and led him back to the fire, pulling him to sit at her side. She cupped his fingers in her soft grip.
“Someone…someone sent me here, with very specific instructions. I’m looking for two men, different, but more alike than they would ever admit. By Liath’s name, I was told, you will know them. And when we met you swore by the Lady, by Liath.”
Had he? He swore by any number of names, given the right incentive. Liath, Mahailia, it was all the same thing. The Goddess in any of her forms or incarnations had no place in his world.
“It was just a coincidence, Cerys. But why a thief?”
“One who takes and one who gives.” She smiled, staring at his fingers. “But it isn’t certain which one of you is which. It’s like you can trade positions, like…reflections of each other. And though you won’t admit it, you see it too. You don’t strike me as a man of the law or a keeper of the peace, so you must be the thief. But then, in a way, so is he. I can’t explain it any more clearly than that. One’s called Grey, the priestess at home told me. The other’s an Animus.” She didn’t look back at him. Firelight made her skin glow.
He swallowed hard once the words were out and pulled his hand gingerly from hers. “There’s a man, a guard, a High Enforcer, and now he’s a prisoner. And if what they say about him is true, you want nothing to do with him. He’s dangerous.”
“Malachy, we need him.”
He frowned, screwing up his face, instantly annoyed with himself at his petulant expression. Her patience made him feel like a child. Cerys had asked nothing of him but this. She had saved Halia’s life, still tended her. How could he deny her? A debt owed made an indelible mark and only repayment could clear it. But if this was the payment…
“His name is Trask and he’s in Klathport’s most secure prison. And I think I put him there.”
A troubled look passed over her face. “What do you mean?”
“Well, he’s hardly going to thank me for it.” He saw her disappointment, almost worse than his anticipation of her disgust at his career. The disgust, he recalled, that she had not shown. He heaved in a sigh and rolled his eyes. “If you want me to, I’ll get him for you.”
“But you said he was in prison.”
The thief couldn’t help himself. He grinned. “That’s just a minor problem. He’ll probably want to kill me rather than let me help him, which is much more of a concern.”
As soon as I have the links to the other participants, I’ll post them here.
I’ve just picked out a few of the PG/PG-13 ones but there are many more from PG to R linked on the site. Some wonderful writers here. Have fun exploring.
- Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG-13)
- Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
- Gina Ardito, Historical Paranormal (PG)
- Ansha Kotyk, Middle Grade Adventure (PG 13)
- Adelle Laudan, Romantic Suspense (PG 13) (I critted on this one! Great story.)
- Jeannie Lin, Historical (PG) (I did a bit of critiquing on this one too! – its fabulous!)
- Crista McHugh, Historical Paranormal Romance (PG-13)