Today, I’ll be sharing with you a new snippet, but this isn’t just any snippet. It’s the prologue to the novel I’m working on. So enjoy, and any feedback would be very much appreciated.
A lone figure stepped out onto the barren desert of snow. Her steely jade gaze swept the desolate landscape, as howling gales and icy sleets penetrated her, or at least tried to. She couldn’t feel the blizzard nor the burning ice of the stone cold ground on her bare feet. The cold winds and the sharp particles of ice couldn’t pierce her. It was as if they were forbidden to, and the mysterious woman stared out at the lonely expanse of snow, looking for something. As she kept her silent vigil, the sound of silk swishing across a marble floor announced the presence of another behind her, “It is almost time and they’re still not here.” the intruder remarked. Despite the howling gales, the woman could hear her companion’s voice loud and clear, even though it was no more than a whisper.
“You worry too much,” she replied coolly, not even tempted to look at her companion.
A derisive scoff sounded over her shoulder and the woman’s brow twitched with slight irritation, “Your riddles are difficult at best, sister. Do you really think they would solve them in time?”
Annoyed jade green eyes firmly scanned the horizon, ignoring the scepticism in her companion’s voice, “I have no doubt of it.”
Like the figure behind her, the woman did have her own reservations, but they were quickly squashed by a sudden flash of movement in the distance. Emerging from the steep incline of the hill in front of her, was a dark figure who was rapidly approaching, as if in a great hurry. As she watched the rapidly nearing figure, a wave of relief unwittingly filled her, and a proud smile lifted the corners of her mouth. She could hear another scoff behind her and the sound of silk gliding against stone, “Lucky guess.”
The chagrined tones of her companion’s voice finally forced the woman to turn back, but it was too late. Platinum locks and silver robes retreated behind a door that was not supposed to be there. It stood open, completely solidly against the rattling wind and ice, and revealed a warm, golden hall beyond, which contrasted greatly with the grey cold of the hill around it. The magnificent interior was impregnable. It could and would not allow the blizzard through and the great hailstones quickly disappeared as they passed over the threshold. The screaming of the wind picked up, as if it knew it was being beaten by a simple door and the woman looked up, squinting against the tiny particles of ice as they drifted towards her. Her companion was right; it was almost time. Turning back to the distant figure, she watched as desperate golden eyes locked onto hers, the silent plea in them screaming louder than the wind.
As the woman kept watch, the frantic figure stumbled, diving to the ground hard, and finally prompting the woman to move. In mere seconds, she stood over the figure and could see clearly now that her quarry was another woman. She leaned heavily on one elbow as she checked the bundle of blankets in her arms, cooing at it, before picking herself up off the floor. When she was on her knees, she looked up at the imposing figure standing before her, and relief almost made her collapse once more, “Please, whatever it takes, save her,” she offered, holding the bundle out.
Calculating jade eyes stared emotionlessly at the small bundle. It was as if she knew what was hidden beneath the many folds of the blankets that protected it from the cold. Her gaze then turned to the fallen woman, studying her as if she were appraising a piece of art. There was no doubt she was standing before royalty; her smooth, olive skin glistening with sweat as her hair was done up delicately with braids and curls. Unfortunately, her elegance was lost to the desperation that had fuelled her movements, and the queenly figure no longer looked as neat and tidy, as she could have been.
Minutes flew by, while the mysterious woman continued to study the fallen royalty, and the sound of clashing metal and heavy footsteps began to close in. Alert now, both women looked up, towards the sound and watched as an army of pale soldiers began to climb up the hill.
Without another word the mysterious green-eyed woman turned around, walking towards the door that wasn’t supposed to be there. Unsure, and a little more than frazzled, the woman on the ground scrambled after her, picking up her gold and green skirts with hasty fingers. She didn’t have to run too far, for in the blink of an eye she stood inside the golden hall, beyond the impossible door. It was warm, unlike the blizzard outside, and the woman almost collapsed again, from the sheer temperature difference.
Impressed and awed, her eyes roamed around the room, unable to stay in one place. It was filled with murals, each one moving within their frames, displaying scenes she was familiar with, and faces and creatures, she’d only ever read about in her childhood books. Golden pillars surrounded the room, holding up the domed ceiling, which was painted with thousands of golden stars, imitating the night sky that lay beyond the golden circular oculus. In fact, it almost looked like there was no ceiling at all, and the painted sky was simply a window.
So awed was the woman, that she almost forgot she wasn’t alone. The room held another figure, which emerged from the dark shadows around the walls, only to rush towards the queenly woman, like an arrow. A dark blur of maroon hair engulfed the royal, catching her off guard, and when a familiar female voice cried out to her, she realised who was crushing her.
“Your Majesty!” Startled out of her daze, the queen stumbled as she tried to accommodate the weight of this new figure, grunting as she was wrapped in a tight hug, “I was afraid you weren’t going to make it! They said the riddles were too hard this time! They weren’t so sure either, but you’re here, you’re safe!”
The queen, chuckled as she returned her companion’s hug, reassuringly, “Of course I am, I would have solved their riddles eventually. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t.” She pulled away from the shaking woman, and stroked her cheek, like a mother comforting her child, “We still have some time. Calm yourself, Ary.”
The woman called Ary, nodded vigorously, sniffing back the tears that threatened to fall from her honey coloured eyes. However, their short reunion was interrupted, as a distinctly male voice sounded beside them, “Not for long, they’ll be here soon.”
Both women turned towards the great hulking figure that stood in the shadows, by the door. It was as if the darkness had melted, as the great black beast stepped out into the light of the room, revealing himself to be a six-foot wolf. His fur coat gleamed in the dim candlelight, and the emerald marks that engraved his skin, shone with a cold green glow. Dangerously emerald eyes narrowed at the fast approaching army in the distance and he padded towards the pair, keeping his eyes on the door, “We must hurry, if we are to succeed, Your Majesty.”
He glanced down at the queen, whose golden eyes were held fixed at the door. Archers had begun to kneel in the snow, preparing to fire their weapons on command. A slight twitch in her jaw was all the indication both her companions needed, to know that she was furious. In a voice as cold as steel, she said “Let’s go.”
As soon as the words fell from her lips, she turned towards the marble pedestal that sat in the centre of the room. Atop the flat surface was a small gold pendant. It was shaped into a pair of deer antlers with a small cage attached beneath them. Inside the cage was a small jade egg that seemed to glow. Picking up the pendant, the queen glanced over her shoulder, as her two companions joined her at the pedestal. She watched arrows and bullets fly past the door, before quickly turning back to the task at hand. Gently, she placed the bundle in her arms onto the pedestal, revealing the face of a sleeping new-born. With shaky fingers, she placed the pendant around the child’s neck watching as the glow of the jade egg brightened, filling the room with a soft green light, before beaming up towards the oculus above them.
All three figures watched the stars glow brighter in the sky, as the green beam touched them, and the twinkling starlight began to approach the golden room, stretching towards the group gathered around the sleeping child. As they continued to watch the bright starry arms reach towards them, they failed to notice a thin and deadly arrow whiz into the room and towards the queen. Pain shot through her and she cried in anguish, collapsing against marble pedestal, waking the baby with her cry.
High pitched wails accompanied the approaching clashes of metal footsteps, as both Ary and the wolf rushed to the queen’s aid, “Your Majesty!” they both cried, finally noticing the deadly arrow that struck the queen’s back.
Biting her lips against the pain, the queen glanced over her shoulder, towards the army of pale soldiers. She watched as the archers knelt down once more, ready to fire again. With no time to lose, the queen pushed herself to her feet and with the help of her companions, she stood tall, swaying slightly with the dizziness.
“We won’t all make it; they’re too close,” she croaked. The metallic taste of her own blood began to fill her mouth and she forced it down to continue, “Someone will have to hold them off.”
“I’ll do it Your Majesty,” the wolf stepped forward, vengeance in his eyes, as he watched the army beyond the door.
The queen shook her head, “No, Wymond, I need you to stay. Protect my daughter, that is your command.” She gave the wolf a meaningful look before turning to Ary.
“Don’t you dare, she needs her mother,” Ary shook her head vehemently.
“She needs what’s best for her,” the queen replied, clutching the other woman’s arm in a vice-like grip, “You will only kill yourself if you fight them.”
“You won’t fare any better. Let me take care of them, I can hold them off,” Ary insisted, readying herself to step off the platform that surrounded the pedestal.
“No!” The queen stood firm, pulling Ary back towards the platform, “I won’t be any good to my daughter like this. Remember, Irenia will be cut off once she leaves. I won’t be able to heal myself, and if this arrow is removed, there is no guarantee I will survive.” She glanced over her shoulder one more time, before adding, “Let me do this for my daughter. At least she’ll know both her parents died as heroes.”
Ary didn’t like what she was hearing, and her tense jaw told the queen as much, but she was right. The best option for all of them was the queen’s self-sacrifice, and Ary reluctantly nodded, before standing beside the pedestal firmly, “As you wish, Your Majesty.”
The queen nodded, her energies quickly draining, as she turned back to the child that still rested on the pedestal, “Good.” Stroking the delicate head one more time, she bent over to kiss the child’s olive forehead and whispered her reluctant goodbyes, before stepping off the platform. She turned to the two guards that stood beside her only child, and gave them one final command, “You are her family now. Protect her.”
“We will,” both Ary and Wymond replied, curtly. Within seconds, the light of the stars engulfed them, blocking them from the queen’s view.
Soon, she could only see a pillar of light and with an anxious heart, she stepped away from the platform to turn towards the onslaught of the Iceborne army. As if a wind engulfed her body, the silk fabric of her dress and cloak moulded to her figure, turning into metal armour. Dragon scales and gleaming metal knives covered the queen’s body, and at her sides swords rested in their sheaths. As she assessed the distance between the door and the pale soldiers, she conjured up a wall of ivy vines and wooden branches, hoping that would slow them down enough. Knowing the army would have a tough time breaking through the barrier, she glanced back over her shoulder, at the pillar of light, sending up one final prayer before unsheathing her swords and turning back to the battle in front of her.
As she returned her attention to the door, a second arrow struck her, and she cried out with pain as the burning coldness of ice penetrated her body. It wouldn’t be long before it completely covered her, but at least she still had some strength left to fight. She prepared to charge forward, and watched as the Icebornes broke through her initial defences. They rushed towards her, war cries falling from their lips as they ran into the room, each one holding their weapons high as they entered.
With one last burst of energy, the queen used everything in her arsenal to defeat each and every one of the pale soldiers that dared to enter. Every soldier she saw, she struck, either with knives or her magic, and each one fell like trees, toppling over one by one. Nearly every soldier didn’t last a second in the room. So precise was she that no one stood a chance to even come close to the pedestal.
It wasn’t until a third arrow was shot through her that she faltered. She was struck in the stomach this time, and there was nothing she could do when she coughed up blood, spurting it in great black splatters onto the golden floor. Vengeful eyes turned to the door, and she watched as the archer who impaled her readied another arrow. Determined now, she made her way to him, ready to destroy him with his own weapons, but the arrows slowed her down, and her enemies now had a fighting chance against her. She didn’t make it more than halfway across the room when an axe buried itself into her back, and she screamed once more in pain, as she fell to the ground.
With no more energy left, and with her blood now oozing from her, all she could do was watch the pillar of light, in the middle of the room, disappear. As the light dimmed, she could see the pedestal was now empty, devoid of her two most trusted guards and her only child. A wave of relief washed over her, as she closed her eyes, ready to take whatever punishment the Iceborne army saw fit for her. She listened as the archer rushed to the pedestal, only to find it empty. He growled with frustration and anger, before stomping over to her, and in a dangerously low voice, asked, “Where is the child?”
Disturbed from her near slumber, the queen chuckled weakly, “You’ll never reach her.”
Another growl came from the archer, and he notched another arrow into his bow. The queen once more shut her eyes, ready for what was to come, and sending a promise to the heavens, as she heard the tell-tale whoosh of the arrow as it flew through the air.
Well? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, and if any of you have any ideas to make it better, I’d like to know. I’ll see you guys tomorrow, where I’ll be taking a stroll down a very musical lane.
This is Feather, signing out!