My Y.A./Adult Fantasy, Elanraigh: The Vow is set in a quasi-medieval, alternate-earth.
Thera strolled along, admiring the colorful variety of starry flowers growing on the vines that netted the lichen-blackened rocks. She glanced back-trail, and laughed to see Mulberry dancing at the end of her lead and nibbling at the pony’s rump.
Their small party rounded the bend; the trail now steeply descending toward the roar of surf. It twisted past some sitka spars and turned to drive its way through more gorsgrass.
Thera sensed something. A chill…she looked up to see if a cloud covered the sun. No. The sun’s light ignited the washed blue of sky and she shaded her eyes from its brightness.
Clenching her hand on her dagger she pivoted to look back again. Jon appeared as usual, he had removed his skullcap helm and was wiping his arm across his forehead, but nothing altered his swinging stride or easy demeanor.
Thera’s gaze narrowed. The horses were uneasy. Mulberry’s ears twitched and her skin flinched, as if she were bothered with flies. Jon’s mount tossed its head, eyes rolling.
Ahead, Swordsman Innic walked alone, as the path was narrowing. He frequently turned, though, to talk to Nan. Thera could not make out the words they said, their voices were strangely muffled to her hearing as if spoken through heavy layers of cloth. Neither Nan nor Innic appeared alarmed.
Thera shook her head. Now she suffered a sense of smothering, of struggling to draw breath into her lungs. She sent her senses out groping for an answer.
It was the Elanraigh.
The Elanraigh was immensely angry.
Thera felt a sudden silence like an indrawn breath held ominous and tense, then rage gusted forth. Her hand rose to her throat where her pulse leaped under her thumb. Never had she felt such as this from the Elanraigh before.
It was as if an advancing army trod the air with pounding footsteps.
Her throat tight with fear, she tried to cry out a warning. At the same instant, hundreds of crows burst voiceless into the air where they swirled in their unnatural silence, as if they feared to alight.
They must have seen each other at almost the same instant, the Memteth raiders and the party from Allenholme. The Memteth crew were bent over a freshly fallen sitka spruce they had dragged down to the beach. Their bright-bladed axes hewed away its branches and skin. Their gibing joviality indicated no awareness or regard for the spirit of the deeply shocked sitka. Their black-sailed ship lay at anchor some several horse strides from the beach.
The apparent leader stood to one side. His manner was both brooding and watchful. The armored head swung from side to side as he scanned the beach and his partially scaled hand clenched an amulet that hung around his neck.
The Memteth leader’s strident yell and Swordsman Innic’s clashed in the air as they both cried out alarm.
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