I'm trying something new starting this week: Teaser Tuesday. Each Tuesday, I will post a snippet of one of my books, usually published but also unreleased from time to time. This week, I am posting the beginning of the first chapter of book 1 of my dark fantasy series Into the Darkness (available now).
Chapter 1, page 1 of Into the Darkness
The old, grizzled drover and his mount guided the sell-sword and her stallion down from the steep mountain passage into the barren valley. The intermittent gusts of wind and rain slapping against the hood of the sell-sword’s cloak told her that the rage of the Northlands’ storm season was coming a full month earlier than its usual late autumn arrival. It promised to make getting back out of the valley just as treacherous as the trip to the valley, if she even made it that far.
The drover looked back over his shoulder periodically, a grim look on his face, as the pair picked their way to the valley’s base. He knew her purpose for being there, and she knew this old friend of her father’s did not approve. Once at the bottom, the drover turned his horse to face hers and studied her for a moment. She pushed back her cloak hood, uncovering her dark hair, and studied him with gray eyes that matched the storm clouds above. She knew what he was going to say.
“This is where I leave ye, Aeryn Ravane.” He squinted at her and grimaced in the face of another biting gust of wind. “I don’ feel good ’bout it. Yer father wouldn’ approve, ye know.”
“This was what he wanted,” she replied. She had hired Phineas because he knew her father and knew his way through the Black Mountains and past some of the recent rockslides the locals in Valis warned her of. She had not hired him to lecture her.
He shook his head. “Once, mayhap, as a young man. I think he’d disapprove o’ his only daughter takin’ up this foolish idea of breaking the curse in his stead. I only agreed to take ye here to this gods-damned place because I knew no one else would, and ye’d come anyhow on yer own. Ye’re just as damned stubborn as he was, and it’s like to get ye killed.”
Aeryn smiled slightly at the backhanded compliment. She pushed her cloak aside so that she could untie a pouch attached to her belt and nudged her red-brown stallion closer to him. “As agreed, the rest of your payment. Thank you for your help. May you have safe passage back.”
The drover took the coins and said, “Don’ thank me. It jus’ makes leavin’ ye here all the harder.” Phineas looked sidelong at the rest of the valley. “I don’t expect ye to make it out o’ here alive, honest. Even if ye manage to set foot in those caverns, ye’ll be dead like all the rest ’fore you. Likely, I won’ get to spend this ’fore bad happens to me, as well.”
“Believe what you wish. I put no stock in superstition.”
“That’s what they all say, whens they come here lookin’ to test that curse.”