Wildcard Wednesday

He wiped the tear from his eye and threw his money on the bar to pay for his drink. It was time to go home. He wouldn’t let her see him this way. After all the soccer really did not make any difference. He knew he had managed to foil her plans. World domination by the wrong beings was now further away than it had ever been. He walked past the waterfall in the park and memories of their encounter in the rain forest haunted him. Was there something he missed? It didn’t feel right. All the steps had been taken all the players put into place, all the right creatures paid off. Or had they been paid? Something tickled in his unconscious. Had a step been missed?

His phone rang as the sky turned dark violet.

Fae: The Wild Hunt

Fae - The Wild Hunt Banner

 

 

Fae – The Wild Hunt

The Riven Wyrde Saga Book 1

By Graham Austin-King

Release date – March 9th 2014

 

Book LINKS:

Amazon us: http://amzn.to/1p8348d

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http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/fae-the-wild-hunt-1

 

 

Book Blurb:

Fairies… The Fae… The stuff of bedtime stories and fables.

But sometimes the fairy tales are true. Sometimes they hold a warning…

For a hundred generations the Fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind into myth and folklore, but now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the wyrde as they seek a way to return.

As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the wyrde of the Droos is fading.

Only by realizing the truth lost in a child’s tale will the world hope to withstand the wild hunt.

 

Chapter One  Fae Wild Hunt Cover

Miriam gazed through the

small window at the sun as it sank

slowly behind the tiled rooftops of

Kavtrin. Smoke was rising from

the chimney pots, lending a

contrast that painted a dirty stain

of indigo across the flaming skies.

It was a sunset for young lovers

and poets, but Miriam was blind to

it. Once there had been a time

when the sight would have struck

a chord within her, but those days

seemed long gone to her now.

She traced her fingertips idly over

the worn and knife-scarred

worktop and sighed as she picked

up a damp cloth and began to run

it back and forth over the surface.

There was no dirt to clean. The

counter was as clean as anyone

could make it, but hands need to

feel busy and the cloth worked

almost unnoticed by her as she

stared unseeing out of the

She caught sight of her

reflection as she turned and she

froze in place, one hand coming

up to touch her cheek. Her face

was lined and drawn. Her once

lustrous brown hair was tied back

into a severe bun, which only

served to highlight the faint touch

of grey at her temples. She

looked… old? She wondered at

herself. Who was this woman

looking back at her? How long had

it been since she’d really looked at

herself? How long since she’d

really been herself?

She turned to stir the pot

resting on the woodstove, and

glanced nervously at the door.

The stew was catching again, but

he probably wouldn’t notice unless

it was really badly burned. She

was a good cook, she knew she

was, but there was only so much a

person could do to keep food hot

once it was ready. The mutton

had stewed for a good six hours

and she had been trying to keep it

hot for the last four. She glanced

at the door again and tutted as

she caught herself doing so.

Sliding the iron vent in the base of

the stove closed, she lifted the pot

with a grunt and placed it onto the

heavy table.

Her eyes drifted to the simple

cot in the corner and she padded

over on quiet feet. The only joy

she had found in the last fifteen

years of her marriage lay sleeping

soundly in this small bed. Caerl

hadn’t really wanted children, but

she’d hoped that it would have

mellowed his temper and when

Devin came along, he’d seemed to

calm for a time. Then of course,

he had taken up the drink again.

Creaks and mutterings drifted

in from the stairs, she turned with

a smile carefully arranged on her

face as the door opened, and

Caerl slumped against the door

frame. She took in all of his

appearance in a single glance.

The stained and slovenly clothing,

the unwashed and unkempt hair,

the filthy and scraggly beard.

Where under all of this filth, was

the man she had married? The

man who had stolen moments

with her, risking her father’s wrath

when she’d been little more than

a child herself.

“Hello dear,” she said, forcing

lightness into her voice. “How was

the marketplace? Would you like

some dinner? I made your

favourite.”

Caerl grunted, a non-committal

noise that could have meant any

number of things, and staggered

the three steps to the sturdy table

before collapsing into a chair.

Miriam busied herself with the

stew, spooning out a healthy

portion into a large earthenware

bowl and setting a hunk of bread

on the side. She put it down in

front of Caerl’s slouched form, and

stepped quickly away to busy

herself in the tiny kitchen. Not

that anything needed doing, the

rooms were spotless. Living in fear

of Caerl’s dark moods had turned

her into an efficient cleaner, and

the fewer reasons she could give

him to start off with her, the

Caerl dunked the dark peasant

bread into the stew and chewed.

He shovelled a spoonful into his

mouth, and then grimaced and

spat. His dark eyes sought her out

and seemed to flash in the light

from the fire and the oil lamps on

the walls.

“This is burnt, woman.” He

slurred, seeming to chew out the

words from a mouth slack from

“I’m sorry Caerl,” Miriam said,

hating herself for the way she

sounded. “I tried to keep it warm

for you, but it must have caught.”

“Dammit girl, how hard can it

be to put some food in a man’s

belly?” He pressed his hands to

the tabletop and stood in a

sudden burst, knocking the simple

wooden chair to the floor. It made

a sharp crack as it splintered. “I

run those damned carts all day

long for you. Put food on the table

and a roof over the head of you

and your brat, and you can’t even

make a decent meal?”

Miriam rankled at him starting

on the boy. She knew she ought

to keep her head down just as a

rabbit will stay in the warren when

a storm is coming, but Caerl

always knew somehow what

would set her off.

“Well, maybe if you had been

home instead of in the tavern

three hours ago, it wouldn’t have

caught,” she muttered, the words

spilling from her lips before her

good sense could stop them.

Caerl stopped, and stared at

her with dark eyes for a long

moment. A slow smile spread over

his stubbled face.

“So, it’s my fault is it?”

“No, Caerl. I didn’t mean it like

that.” She took a step back away

from him and began edging along

the wall towards the window.

“I work all damned day and

this is what I get? Burnt slop I

wouldn’t feed a dog!” He slammed

his hands down on the table,

making the bowl jump.

Miriam flinched and turned

quickly to see if Devin had woken.

“Dammit, woman. Look at me

when I’m talking to you!” He

snatched up the bowl and hurled it

at the fireplace. It shattered on

the woodstove, splattering stew

over the walls and onto the hearth

where it bubbled and hissed.

Miriam cried out as the bowl

smashed, ducking involuntarily as

though it had struck her. She

cowered down, her hands

shielding her face as Caerl

stormed towards her with rage

dancing in his eyes. She drew

back as he came closer and

grabbed for her and then skittered

along the wall towards the

woodstove and the doorway to

their own tiny room. Caerl

followed swiftly, his movements

unimpeded by the ale he stank of,

as if the rage had burned the

alcohol from him.

“Caerl, don’t. Please?” She

backed into the darkness of their

small bedroom. “You’ll wake the

boy. Try to calm down.”

“Don’t you tell me what to do.”

He reached for her and managed

to grab her hair, pulling it free off

the bun as she twisted and tried

to dart away from him. “Who in

the hells do you think you are,

telling me what to do?”

He yanked savagely on her

hair, bending her backwards and

off-balance as her eyes filled with

tears. “You’re nothing!” he spat.

“That’s what you are woman. You

know it, and I know it.”

He let go, dropping her to the

floor as she curled up tight, balling

her fists and pressing them to her

face as if to ward off the hate.

“Say it,” he whispered, but she

lay silent, biting her cheek to hold

in the tears.

“Say it!” he roared, drawing

back his foot and kicking her

savagely in the ribs with his heavy

Miriam gasped as the pain

flooded through her. Her eyes

filled with tears and she felt him

crouch down and grab her by the

throat , wrenching her towards

him. His calloused hands were

rough on the delicate skin of her

throat, and she fought to draw in

a ragged breath as he squeezed

at her neck.

“Don’t you ever tell me what to

do.” His spittle sprayed onto her

cheeks as he spat out the words

and the stench of stale beer

turned her stomach. She began to

sob silently as she fled inside

herself. Her silence seemed to

enrage him more than her

defiance had, and he struck her

with the back of his hand, the

force throwing her to the floor.

“Da?” a small voice carried in

from the doorway.

Miriam’s eyes flew open in

horror and her pain was forgotten.

Devin was a slight boy and the

nightshirt made him seem all the

smaller as he looked up at his

“Da, don’t hit her.” He said

again, a world of reproach in his

small voice.

Miriam flew to her feet as Caerl

turned and bristled at the lad.

“You telling me what to do,

boy?” he asked in a low dangerous

voice as he moved toward the

“Don’t you touch him, Caerl,”

she warned. “Don’t you dare touch

him.”

“Boy needs to know his place,”

he muttered almost to himself, as

he looked down at the dark haired

child backing away from him.

Desperately, she reached for

him and clung to his arm, trying to

hold him back as he dragged her

into the kitchen again. Muttering a

curse Caerl struggled to throw her

off, turning to face her once more.

His face was a mask of pure rage

as he struck her with his open

hand across the face. This was no

slap, his hand was rigid and she

staggered backwards into the

wall, her head ringing. He stalked

towards her as she dashed the

tears from her eyes and looked up

at him. Her face throbbed and one

eye was already starting to swell.

He staggered suddenly as

Devin launched himself on his

back screaming like a feral cat.

Caerl’s eyes went wide in shock

and then pain as the boy’s nails

clawed at his neck. He reached

back almost casually, grasping a

handful of the nightshirt and threw

the boy at his mother.

“You both got no damned

respect.” he spat and began to

undo the thick leather belt he

“That’s enough Caerl,” Miriam

said snapped, her lips white with

anger as she got to her feet,

clutching Devin to her skirts as

they moved sideways towards the

fireplace. He laughed coldly and

shook out the belt. Miriam

reached out blindly and took up

the first thing that fell to hand.

The heavy iron ladle from the pot.

“So help me Caerl, if you touch

this boy…”

His laugh was frost as she

thrust Devin behind her

awkwardly. She shrieked as he

feinted towards her and she

swung wildly with the ladle,

spraying stew across the room

and missing.

He grinned and lunged again,

but this time his balance or the

ale betrayed him and he had none

of the grace of moments ago. She

lashed out, screaming, and the

ladle caught him solidly on the

temple with a sickening crunch.

Caerl staggered backwards and

fell, crashing through the chairs

and table before hitting the floor.

The silence when it fell, was

louder than her screams had ever

been. She stood frozen, holding

the ladle with both hands. She

was dimly aware of Devin behind

her, both hands gripping her dress

and his face buried in the cloth.

Extricating herself from his grasp

she crept towards Caerl’s prone

figure. Blood was seeping slowly

from his temple and one nostril,

and his eyes were half closed. She

looked carefully, but saw no signs

of movement. He lay still,

seemingly out cold. She felt a wild

exultation in her breast but then,

just as powerfully, the reality of

what she had done washed over

her and Miriam was filled with a

fear deeper than she had ever

known. He would kill her. Her and

the boy both, that much was

certain. If he didn’t kill her, he’d

either make her pay so savagely

that she begged for death, or he’d

have her up before the Justice.

“Devin, sweetheart?” she

called softly. “Let’s take a trip, just

you and me. We’ll have an

adventure.”

The boy looked at her with

huge dark eyes. “Without Da?” he

asked in a small voice. Miriam

“Good,” he said firmly.

Forcing a smile onto her face,

she set about grabbing clothes

and what little food they had in

the house, filling bags while Devin

dressed. Taking his small hand,

she led him to the door and

reminded herself to walk normally

and calmly into the hallway and

down the stairs, even as her mind

screamed at her to run.

Kavtrin was not a small city

and even at this time in the

evening the streets were filled

with people. Miriam held tight to

Devin with one hand, and the

bags with the other, as she tried

to thread her way through the

crowded streets. Many people

were still making their way home

from work. Some few hawkers

were still on street corners, trying

to sell this and that. Miriam

noticed first one, and then several

evening girls coming to stand

under the, as yet, unlit street

lamps with their lost and hopeless

She hurried Devin along the

cobbled streets, trying to keep

from being forced into the gutters

by the sheer weight of traffic.

They darted over to the side from

time to time to avoid the carts

that clattered through with their

drivers flicking the whip at the

horses and cursing at all who

stood in their way. She was only

dimly aware of where she was

going. It had been so long that

she was surprised she even

remembered the way. Devin had

been silent since they left the

house, and she needed

desperately to get him into the

Miriam didn’t notice the rain

when it first started, a soft misting

drizzle that was more like spray

than rain, but which soon began

to soak through her simple

woollen dress. It slowly changed

into a steady rain that plastered

her long brown hair to her face

and her dress clung to her legs

with each step. They were both

soaked to the skin as they finally

crossed the high cobbled bridge

and saw the golden glow of the

lamplight coming from the

windows of the Broom and

Badger. Miriam made her way

around to the rear of the inn and

pounded on the large oak door as

Devin pressed himself hard

against her hip. The boy was

shaking, not simply shivering, but

a solid trembling. Miriam drew in a

breath to speak as the door finally

opened, but the girl in the

doorway pulled them both out of

the rain with wide eyes.

“Lords and Ladies, look at the

state of you two.” she exclaimed.

“Boy’ll catch his death out in that.

So will you! An’ what’s wrong with

the front door anyway?”

“Shalin said I could call on her

if ever I needed anything,” Miriam

told the blonde girl in a tiny

broken voice. The girl looked at

her, taking in the deepening

bruises, and her face softened.

“Ah darlin’, you’ve been through it,

haven’t you, love?” She hurried

them through into the warm

kitchen, still filled with the aromas

of dinner, and sat them close to

the fire set in the long wall.

“You two sit here and I’ll find

Shalin. I expect you could use

something hot inside you too.”

She bustled around and set a

large bowl in front of Devin,

before leaving through the double

doors that led into the inn proper.

The kitchen was long and lowbeamed,

with huge cast-iron

ovens set against one wall and a

long table filling the centre of the

room. It was well-lit with oil lamps

on the walls shedding a warm

comforting light. It smelled of

chicken, fresh baked bread, and

hope. Miriam let the warmth from

the fire soak slowly into her body

and watched Devin devour a large

bowl of warm apple pie as only a

ten year old boy could.

“My stars, Miriam, I never

thought I’d see you again!”

exclaimed a slim blonde woman

from the doorway. Shalin seemed

determined to overcome every

stereotype about innkeeper’s

wives. She was tall and willowy,

with a figure that made other

women hate her on sight. She was

neither matronly nor blousey,

though that was not to say she

was not beautiful. She had long

hair the colour of good honey, and

piercing blue eyes. It would be

easy to assume that she was just

some pretty thing the Innkeeper

had been lucky enough to end up

with, but Shalin was far more than

a pretty face. She ran the inn with

a brisk efficiency that showed in

her eyes. This was a woman who

brooked no nonsense and

demanded both order and respect.

This was a woman that

commanded loyalty and who no

man with a whit of sense would

cross. She had once been Miriam’s

closest friend, and the last things

Miriam had said to her had been

lies. “Shalin,” she breathed as she

made her way to the doorway.

“Lords and Ladies woman, look

at the state of you,” Shalin

muttered as she drew Miriam

close into a fierce embrace,

ignoring the water that was

pooling by her feet. “What’s

happened to you?”

Miriam sucked in one

shuddering breath before spitting

out, “Caerl.” The name tore from

her throat and carried all the

years of venom and fear. All the

love and betrayal, the hurt and

every bruise. She clung fiercely to

Shalin, taking strength from the

embrace and the simple

knowledge that another adult

cared for her. Shalin stroked her

hair softly, making hushing noises.

“Deena,” she called through into

the hallway. “Why don’t you get

the lad a warm bath and wrap him

up in Thomas’ old room?”

The girl nodded, smiling at

Devin as she held out her hand.

“That pie was good wasn’t it? I

always feel better after coming in

from the wet, when I can get

something warm inside me. Now,

how about we get you out of

those wet clothes, into a hot bath,

and then find you a nice warm

bed?” Devin nodded sleepily and

allowed himself to be herded from

the room.

“He’ll be fine,” Shalin said,

stepping back to look at Miriam.

“Now, how about we get you

warm and you can tell me what is

going on? Go on with Deena and

she’ll get you one of my robes.

You can wrap up in that for now

and get dry.”

The blonde girl led them both

up the stairs and pointed Miriam

towards a bedroom door, “There

should be a robe or two on the

back of the door. Just leave your

dress in there and I’ll see it’s

cleaned for you.”

Miriam nodded her thanks and

crouched a little to give Devin a

quick hug before stepping into the

Shalin smiled at her as she

came back into the kitchen and

waved her back into the chair. The

robe was soft and with the

warmth from the fire she was

beginning to thaw. “Now then,

now that you look more like the

woman I knew and less a

drowning kitten, why don’t you tell

me what’s going on? The last time

I saw you, your Caerl had gotten a

new job in Savarel and you were

moving up there.”

“We were never going to

Savarel,” Miriam admitted in a

small voice. “I lied because he’d

lost his job again and we were

being thrown out of our home.”

“Why didn’t you say

something?” Shalin gasped. “I had

no idea! You know I would have

helped you.”

“When you’ve got nothing,

Shalin, sometimes pride is all you

can to cling to,” Miriam said

“Hmm, you’re right.” said

Shalin. “We were so poor, we

made the birds look rich when I

was a little’un, but our doorstep

was scrubbed daily.” She folded

her arms across herself. “So,

what’s happened now? I mean, it’s

been what, eight years? Nine?”

“It’s been eleven, Shalin,

almost twelve.” Miriam walked

over to the fireplace and stared

deep into the flames. “He drank,”

she began. “Most men drink, but

he drank and then he got mean

with it. I could cope with that well

enough, I suppose, but it was

almost every day in the end.” Her

head bowed as if she were

speaking to the floor, like the

confession of a naughty child.

“And he would hit me. Nothing I

did would be good enough, Shalin.

I tried. I really tried! There would

be days when he would come

home and it seemed like he was

searching for something to start

off on. Then tonight, he beat me

and Devin woke up.”

“Your boy?” Shalin asked

Miriam nodded silently. “Caerl

was always careful not to wake

him, either that or Devin always

made out like he was sleeping.

He’d never stir.” She breathed

deeply before pressing on. “Caerl

had me on the floor and he just

kept kicking me. All I could think

was, this was it. This was the

night that he’s finally going to kill

me. Then, Devin was there,

throwing himself on Caerl and he

grabbed him and threw him at

me. He actually threw my boy,

Shalin! He was taking his belt off

to beat the both of us.”

“How did you end up like this,

Miriam? You were always so

strong, when I knew you.”

“He wasn’t always like this.

When we first met, he was so

sweet you wouldn’t believe he

was the same person.”

“How did you meet him? You

never did tell me, you know?” She

stood and took down a kettle from

a hook, filling it from the pump

over the double sinks. “I expect

you could use some tea to start

with?” She cocked an eyebrow at

Miriam over one shoulder.

“He was a caravan guard. He

used to come in to my father’s inn

every few months, doing the route

from Savarel to Kavtrin.”

“And I bet you thought he held

the sun in one hand and the moon

in the other didn’t you?” Shalin

said as she set the kettle to boil.

“And then some,” Miriam

admitted. “He was everything my

father hated, and of course,

everything I wanted. I was all of

fifteen when we started sneaking

about together.” Her face twisted

as she spoke. “Eventually, he

talked me into running away with

him, and that was that. I snuck

out of the window one night with

nothing but a small pack of

clothing and keepsakes.” She

picked up the mug and blew softly

at the steam curling from the top.

“At fifteen, I knew all there was to

know, and so I turned my back on

my family, friends and my home.

All for a man I’d really, barely

known.”

“You don’t need to tell me if

you don’t want to,” the woman

said softly.

“No, it’s good. It sort of helps,

you know, to talk about it? I don’t

think I’ve ever told anyone the

whole thing before.”

Shalin nodded, setting the

steaming mug down in front of

Miriam and moving back to her

own chair, cradling her cup in her

elegant hands.

“We settled here in Kavtrin. He

found work easily enough in the

marketplace and on the docks. I

found easy work in a tavern. We

had a lovely room in a nice area

overlooking some of the gardens

by the park. It wasn’t anything

especially wonderful, but it was

ours, and it felt like a home.

Things were wonderful. I mean

truly storybook wonderful, until he

started drinking.” She cleared her

throat and looked down at the

table as she continued. “First, he

started drinking after work with

the boys from the marketplace. I

didn’t mind or blame him. It’s hot

and heavy work, and a man needs

to spend time with the folks he

works with.

“Then, he started drinking

during lunch with the dockhands.

Before long, he was drinking more

than he was working. That was

when he lost the first job. He was

so ashamed that he hid it from me

for almost a week before he finally

admitted it. He’d been still going

out to work in the mornings and

not back until dusk, but I’d known

something wasn’t right. A woman

always knows. So, he’d sworn off

the drink and we’d muddled

through. He found more work and

things were back to normal, until

it happened again.” She drew in a

deep shuddering breath and

sighed it out slowly. “This is

harder than I thought,” she said,

looking at Shalin with an

apologetic smile.

“You’re doing fine Miriam, just

take your time.”

Miriam nodded and drained her

tea, setting the mug down and

curling her hands in her lap. “After

we lost the third home, I told him

straight. One more time, one last

time, and that was all the chances

I was giving him.” She sighed and

gave a wry smile, “We hadn’t

really planned for a family. Oh, we

hadn’t exactly avoided it, I’d

stopped drinking moon-tea soon

after we settled down again. If I’m

honest with myself, it had been

my price for keeping us together,

and that had been the idea really.

Maybe I thought that if we

concentrated on starting a family,

then things would be better. Of

course, you need to be home to

start a family. It helps if you are

conscious and not snoring ale

fumes into the kitchen floor. I’d

been right on the verge of telling

him we were done, when along

came Devin, just like that.” She

laughed a bitter little laugh.

“He changed. Overnight he

changed, and it was like none of

the strife or struggles had ever

been there.” She glanced up at

Shalin and smiled with tearrimmed

eyes. “He helped through

the pregnancy. He worked harder,

was home earlier and looked after

me like I was made of glass.

Sometimes too much! When Devin

was born he was there, though he

bolted outside as soon as the

midwife arrived and wouldn’t

come back into the building until

he heard the babe squall. Life was

back to the storybook for almost

four years, four blissful years.”

“So, what happened? What

changed?” She heard Shalin ask.

“Honestly? I have no idea.”

She shook her head. “I wondered

for a while if he’d been having an

affair and it had ended or

something like that. Between one

month and the next he shifted, he

became distant. He came home

twice with ale on his breath,

though I pretended I hadn’t smelt

it. The following week it was

spirits he reeked of. Then it

seemed it was every night. You

know the funny thing?” Shalin

shook her head quietly and Miriam

smiled a sad smile. “It was only

then, that I began to realise how

alone I’d become. We lost most of

our friends when we’d had to

move the first time. There’s

nothing quite like pride to rob a

person of their good sense is

there? Oh, I’d reached out a

couple of times, but after we’d

moved the third time, I was so

ashamed I never bothered trying

to keep in touch again. Then

Devin came along and my days

were filled with him and what

work I could find. Caerl had been

so good to me that I almost didn’t

notice that I never really saw

anyone else. Until of course, I

needed somebody else. Until it all

began again. And then I was

alone. So, so alone.”

Shalin moved to take her in her

arms as the tears began to fall.

Her body shook with silent sobs,

and she allowed the willowy

blonde to pull her head into her

shoulder. For a time they just sat

in silence, until Miriam pushed

herself away with a sniff. “Look at

me, crying like a babe.”

Shalin just looked at her in

silence, a faint smile on her face.

“Where were you working?”

Miriam sniffed. “I still worked

in a couple of taverns. It was hard

to find one where I could bring

Devin. But then when he got old

enough he worked as a scullion,

while I worked in the kitchen or

the laundry. I’d tried working as a

serving girl again, but any man

who smelled of ale reminded me

of Caerl. I tried a few places, but

in the end I realised it wasn’t the

inn, it was me. A girl working in an

inn needs to be able to laugh and

banter and flirt a bit. I couldn’t do

it. I couldn’t find it in me. Any man

so much as spoke to me and I ran

off to the kitchens like a startled

rabbit. So I stayed in the kitchens,

preparing meals and washing

“Through all of it, Caerl was

the same. He ran in cycles. He

would drink himself to almost rock

bottom before swearing off the

stuff. He was true to his word too.

He wouldn’t touch it, or go to the

inn with the others. He’d come

back from his work early. He’d be

calmer, kinder, more attentive,

and then it would begin again.

Always the same, every time. It

would start with one drink with

the boys on a Friday. Then it

would become Wednesday too,

then a touch of wine with dinner.

Before too long, he’d be cursing

that we had nothing in the place

to drink. He’d be coming back

from the marketplace later and

later and stinking like the bottom

of an ale barrel. The more he

drank, the blacker his mood

seemed to get, and then before

long I was back to never knowing

when he was coming home, or

who he might be when he arrived.

“Some men are happy drunks.

We’ve both seen them, laughing

and carrying on. Some become

depressed and snuffle into a

tankard in the corner. Caerl wasn’t

either of these. He would fall in

through the doors with a shadow

in his eyes, and then it would

start. It seemed some days, he

almost had to search for

something to get angry about, but

he always found something.

Everything was meant as a hurt

when the mood was on him. If the

fire was built too high, I was

squandering his money. If the

food was too simple or the rooms

not spotless I was failing as a

wife. But it was rare for him to

actually hit me, until just lately.”

Her hand crept unnoticed to her

face and she fingered the bruises,

probing the sore flesh absently

she spoke.

“Always before, even in his

darkest place he stopped at

hurling things across the room or

kicking over the table. He’d rage

and curse at me as I stood in front

of Devin’s cot and eventually, it

was like he’d suddenly see me.

Maybe he saw how scared I was

or something. But he’d turn and

storm out of the door. He’d be

back later, stinking of cheap gin

and slurring apologies as he

pawed at me in the bed.

“And then one time, he did it.

He hit me. And it was like, now

he’d crossed the line and seen

that nothing came from it, he

decided it was okay. He never did

it in front of the boy, though. It

was like he thought beating me

was fine, it was okay. But children

shouldn’t see it. Then tonight, he

woke Devin with all his shouting

and Devin saw him hit me. My boy

actually tried to protect me

Shalin.” Her voice was filled with a

fierce pride.

“What have you done, Miriam?”

Shalin asked, as understanding

suddenly dawned on her.

“He was going to beat us both.

He was taking off his belt!”

“What have you done, Miriam?”

she repeated in a soft voice.

“I went for him with a pot

ladle. It caught him in the face,

just here,” she touched her

temple. “He fell hard. And…and,

we just left.”

“Is he dead?”

Miriam gasped. “I don’t know,”

she admitted as her hand flew to

her mouth. “I didn’t think to check.

Oh, Lords and Ladies! What if I’ve

killed him?”

Shalin took her by the hands,

and looked at her firmly. “Now,

listen here. You did what you

needed to do. Nobody in this room

is going to blame you or think less

of you for that. You were keeping

your boy safe, and that’s what

counts. If he’s dead, well then he

got what was coming to him. Less

than I would have given him!” She

stood abruptly and left the room,

returning quickly with two glasses

and a dark bottle.

“Take this, you look like you

could use a good drink,” she said,

pressing the brandy into Miriam’s

Miriam drank the fiery liquid

down without comment and held

her glass out for another. Shalin

chuckled and poured, before

turning back with a serious look.

“Have you thought what you

might do?”

Miriam shook her head.

“I’d have you here, Miriam, you

know that. But you must know it’s

going to be one of the first places

he looks, if he comes looking for

you. If he’s dead, well then, better

you were gone from Kavtrin

completely.”

“Maybe I should just go to the

Justice, Shalin. I mean, if he’s

dead?”

“Now don’t talk stupid, girl!”

Shalin snapped. “You’ve done the

right thing. You got yourself out,

you looked after your lad. You’ve

walked all the way here, and now

you talk about going to the

Justice?”

“If he’s dead though…” she

trailed off.

“What? Because it’s the law?”

Shalin scoffed. “You know as well

as I do, that people die in this city

every day. Caerl wasn’t rich or

important, they won’t bat an eye.

IF he’s even dead!” she took a

deep drink, and set down her

glass again. “Now, before you

started on that nonsense, I was

about to ask if you have anywhere

you could go. Somewhere outside

of Kavtrin, until you get on your

feet? Are you in touch with your

family at all?”

Miriam shook her head. “No.

And it’s been too long. I couldn’t

just turn up, not now. To be

honest, I don’t even know if

they’re still there.”

“It’s a start, Miriam. Go there

and see. It gets you away from

any… problems here. And it gets

you moving off your behind, girl!”

“I don’t have any money,

Shalin. I hadn’t really thought past

maybe someday getting away

from Caerl, and finding a job

somewhere with just me and

Devin. It was all just rainy day

dreams, but now…”

Shalin took a deep breath,

visibly biting back words which

were too harsh for the moment.

“Wait here,” she said tersely and

strode from the room. Miriam sat

by the fire, listening to the sounds

of raucous laughter and merriment

from the common room. She was

dimly aware of Shalin’s voice in

the hallway. The words were

indistinct, but the tone spoke

volumes. A few moments later she

stepped back into the kitchen.

“I’ve a few things to organise,

but we will sort you out, Miriam.

For now, I think you probably

need a bed. You look like you’re

about to drop off your feet. Why

don’t you head up and climb in

with your boy? We’ll talk more in

the morning.”

Author Bio  Graham Austin-King

Graham Austin-King began his writing with children’s stories to entertain his children when walking them to and from school. When he started getting demands to repeat the same story over and over again he decided to write them down.

Liam and the Grump was soon followed by Captain Pegleg and the Greatest Treasure.

Fantasy is the genre which has always appealed to him, a result of reading too many books and playing too many roleplaying games and computer games. Having weaned himself on Tolkein he cut his teeth on David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist.

Finally the keyboard beckoned, there were worlds to create.

Graham lives in Kent in England with his wife and three younger children.

Author Stalker Links:

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Grayaustin

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GrahamAustinKing?ref=hl

Website: http://www.GrahamAustin-King.com

Blog: GrahamAK.blogspot.co.uk

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116040711337077240982/posts/p/pub

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20718

Books Go Social

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The first pages of all three books in the Palace of the Twelve Pillars trilogy are now up on Books Go Social. Here are the links. Go on over and get a little taste of Brandan and Joachim’s story.

palaceoftwelvepillars200x300 (2)Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One  http://bit.ly/1kSrjIi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two  http://bit.ly/UsbhdX palaceofthethreecrosses333x500 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three  http://bit.ly/1qNiORV Sanctuary of Nine Dragons 333x500