SAMPLE CHAPTERS & ARTWORK UPDATES

Posts tagged ‘chapter snippet’

Snippet Time!

What I’m currently working on in the latest chapter of No’va.

*****

Its puce skin looked soft and moist from being in the humid climate. If not for a few sharp features and wings flinging even more mud at their faces, it might not have looked very intimidating. Another bubble brought several more into the air. One even carried its young, which clung to its underside and squeaked when the parent made any sudden movements.

Providence held his position, keeping himself between the men and harpy-demons. If he spoke to them, it came out in a series of clicks and sharp gurgles. Whatever the meaning, the creatures returned with threatening hisses. Soon the Healer began to back up where the men were standing. Slightly turning his head to peer over one shoulder, he warned, “Prepare yourselves.”

While the men just looked at one another and around at their sloppy situation, Jenario had his eye somewhere else.

“The water.” He nudged one of them in the direction of the island. “We can swim for it.”

The idea of swimming in swamp water was no more appealing than what suddenly swooped down at them. At a shout from Providence, the men turned to flee. Some of them ended face-down in the muck while harpy-demons clawed at those who still managed to keep their footing. There were at least twelve, with more on the way as Jenario noticed larger bubbles beginning to pop along the tunnel’s edge.

Like the others, Jenario kept his arms over his face when he was attacked. They came in pairs, effectively moving the men away from those who carried young. In between the chaos of yanking at his clothing, pinching claws and bites, he noticed those carrying smaller ones stayed back. There was no sign of Providence, though he caught a hint of green robe in between flapping wings and heard his commands to get as far from the tunnels as possible. Whether the harpy-demons actually attacked the Healer, he was unsure. At the moment, they just needed to find a way out, so Jenario took the one opportunity he had before a leathery wing gashed his cheek.

He dived. It came as a surprise that his boots got the traction they needed for the final push over the mound and down under the water. It was too murky to see, but he could hear several splashes from above as though the creatures tried to follow.

Jenario did not wait. The water was not deep, as his hand quickly touched a slimy bottom. Things that grew underwater slipped along his stomach. He could feel the bark of trees, or what he assumed were trees silently decaying in the dark. He found places to hold and started pulling himself along. Best to stay low, he realized. If they see any disturbance in the water, they might come back.

His thoughts drifted to the other men when muffled variations of dives came from behind. It was an oily sound, like slapping a thick soup. The cooks used to do that back at Mayla when they had just hauled in unusual looking shelled fish, fresh from port. They would slap their ladles across their hard backs in attempts to keep them down, just long enough for the pot’s lid to clamp shut. After the steaming process, they were then peeled and ladled into a thick stew. It had made a delicious impression on the council, who requested it more often than the normal broths containing just vegetables and beef. One would think a chef would not have needed an alchemist, but tasteful ingredients were always needed. Thus Jenario found himself called upon for food preparation more so than medicine, and he hated every moment of it. The very smell of his current pardictument was a good reason to despise becoming a culinary alchemist. A sudden flashback to himself pulverizing oil glands from a stinking fish corpse made his stomach churn.

He thrust up for a quick breath, unable to hold it any longer. The water did not fully break as quickly as a clear stream would have, so he received a mouthful of floating debris and muddy water. This set off a sputter of choking
gasps and hacks to clear his lungs. The gash on his cheek stung once in open air, sure it would get infected from whatever else sufficated in its muddy clutches.

*****

The image below might be something they swim in to reach the so-called ‘island’

swamp water

Chapter 4 Teaser

The main chamber was littered with coughing individuals, all huddled together under blankets or whatever they had managed to bring with them. It was easy to pick out Tia, her crested black hair a style no one else had. She cradled the wheezing child in her arms, his shaking shoulders in beat with his discomfort.

“Tia!” Jenario was by her side in an instant. “Nickademis has the medicine!”

She was nearly in tears at the sight of him, but said nothing at the answering wheeze of their young son.

“Give him here.” Jenario took Abraham in his arms and cradled in tightly to his chest. The boy let out a series of coughs that shook his father’s shoulders. He stared into Tia’s pleading gaze. “Nick! Hurry!”

“Jen?” Thomas Gracie and Shafari entered the chamber to assess the number of those ill.

“I might be able to raise the heat a bit,” Shafari offered, but Thomas Gracie’s warning glance silenced him from saying anything further.

“They need more than just warmth.” The extra voice perked Tia’s attention toward an unfamiliar figure stepping in between the two men. He sought out Jenario in the crowd and started toward him.

Sensing Tia’s anxiety, especially when noticing those pointed ears, Jenario rested a hand over hers.

“It’s all right,” he said gently. “He helped us gather medicine on the other side.” As the Healer knelt beside him, Jenario introduced him to his fiancée.

Forest green gaze met the pixie-haired woman’s defensive staredown.

“May I?” Providence indicated to take Abraham, but as Jenario was about to hand over his son, Tia slapped a hand over his arm.

“What are you doing?! You already know how I feel about Shafari’s botched-up magic. What makes you think someone else is any different?”

Even without witnessing power, Tia was no fool. Jenario swore she had an hidden sensor to hone in on magic. The outburst, however, put a shade of red across his cheeks. He could sense Shafari’s embarrassment as well. Surely, their visitor would feel the same, but a quick glance revealed a look of understanding.

“If there was a way to make medicine produce itself, there’d be no need for us. But for your son’s sake, please.” Again, he held out his hands to take Abraham. “Time is against him.”

“Just this once, I swear it! Abraham needs all the time he can get.” Jenario dared not move. It was her call now. The glare of worry and betrayal were prominent in those eyes. Reluctantly, she released his arm. Only then did he hand over his son.

It was a bold move, but one he feared if not taken would result in a harsher consequence than defying Tia’s beliefs. He watched her leave in silent anger. This, however, did little to deter the Healer from his task. Providence only briefly followed her departure before centering all concentration on the child.

“I know that feeling.” He placed a hand over Abraham’s chest. A warm glow quickly emitted from beneath the fingers. “Winter does not allow us to connect with Nature’s energy. But I should have a enough to spare. Don’t worry. She’ll come around when she sees her son is well.”

“What of the others?” It was hard to ignore the harsh coughs reverberating off the walls.

“Hopefully, your doctor will have his medicine in time…if he’s skilled,” Providence said.

“The best Mayla had.” Jenario let his focus drift, like the lone flakes that managed to bypass the canvas flap covering the mouth of the cave. He watched them linger in the air until they drifted over one of the campfires and melted away. “They let everything go.”

The sound of someone sucking in a deep breath alerted Jenario back to his son. The wheezing subsided, and for once Abraham opened his eyes and smiled at his father.

“That’s my brave boy,” he whispered down to him. He looked up to the sound of hurried steps. While Thomas Gracie and Shafari helped with keeping the fires going and distributing food, Nickademis came with a tray of medicines he had prepared.

“Nicolas!” The teenager swiftly came to his father’s summon. “These need to be kept warm.”

Jenario noticed how Providence scrutinized every move the doctor’s son made. Though limited in magic, he managed to heat a flask to the desired temperature. It was enough to get over to Jenario’s son and administer the first few drops of dark liquid. Nickademis then hurried to others, repeating the process until there was none left.

“I’ll need more, but this should do for now,” he said to regrouping leaders at the back of the chamber.

Jenario got up to join the others, having taken his son from Providence. The child was squirming to get down as his father watched Nicolas leave with the empty bottles and tray. His gaze finally landed on Tia, who had been watching the entire process from the back. She brushed past the teenager, never acknowledging his help.

“You can already tell a difference.” Jenario could hear Thomas Gracie addressing the others. Providence had joined the group as well, but watched the pixie-haired woman with interest when she crossed the chamber at a brisk pace to take her son.

“I’ll handle it from here,” she said quickly.

“Tia…” But there was no use in arguing. With a sigh, Jenario made his way toward his companions.

“She ought to be more thankful,” Shafari said. “Your son wouldn’t have made it this far without us trying to get supplies. And then with the healing….”

“Tia’s…Tia.” Jenario scratched his spiked-hair in doubt. “She knows what she likes.”

“And what she doesn’t, no doubt.” Providence gradually shifted his focus from the woman to Nickademis. “I’m impressed with what little you had to work with.” He gestured around the room. “This is a large group to handle.”

“I do what I can…under the circumstances.”

“And under the circumstances, we’re running low on firewood,” Thomas Gracie added. “No one’s been out in that storm since our departure.”

“Well, why should they?” Shafari checked for dirt under his nails. Seeing some gritty spots, he tried to pick it out before allowing his fingers to weave through the air in magical demonstration. “That’s why they have us.” His cocky grin put everyone at ease, with Thomas Gracie only shaking his head at his meaning.

Tag Cloud