Monday, May 17, 2010
one week and counting
Breath of Heaven will be released next Tuesday. I can't believe its almost here. To get you ready for the big day I've posted another exerpt that was cut from the book. Enjoy!
Edward’s hand shook as he dipped the quill into the ink. Was it nerves or the advanced stages of his disease? Whatever the cause, it did not matter. What did matter was the fact that even though his hand shook, his strokes upon the parchment showed sure and strong as he began his letter.
January 1, 1170. Fourteen and one half years passed since the day he pulled Rhys de Remy from the mud. Five months passed since he last heard from the now Lord de Remy upon the anniversary of their meeting as he had every year since. Finally, the time had come for Edward to call upon the debt owed to him.
Edward’s gazed wandered from the parchment before him to the woods beyond the outer wall of the castle. Even though his eyes were not as sharp as they once were, he caught a movement at the edge of the wood, a flash of dark green amongst the drab browns and grays of the winter day. Eliane, off to see Madwyn, with the huge beast of a dog at her side as usual. She held no fear for the forest, or the beasts that roamed there. Nor did she fear the strange tales of magic that always surrounded the place. Luckily the people of the keep and the town below held a great love for her, despite her strange behavior and her strange appearance. Just as they had for her mother before her. Was he too late to save her? The good Lord above knew he had done his best to prepare her for what was to come but…
Edward ran a trembling hand over his brow. So much time had passed since the day Han came to him in France with the news. Yet the time passed was not enough to prepare his daughter for what was to come. The problem was he had thought at one time that he would live a long and happy life with Arden at his side. That was the promise given to him when he took Arden as his wife. He was her choice for a husband and that meant the rest would come with it.
She was not supposed to die of an arrow wound to the heart as she defended the walls of Aubregate from Ragnor Vannoy. Ragnor had never given up his desire to be master of Aubregate. Not after Arden refused him time and time again as her mother refused his father before her. Nor would Arden agree to betroth Eliane to Renauld when Ragnor discovered that there was another daughter in a long line of daughters born to the Mistress of Aubregate. Even when Ragnor declared that Eliane’s strange deformity would not affect the terms or her worth as a bride for his son at all. Of course it wouldn’t. It was not Eliane that he desired. It was the land and the riches that came with it. Riches that would not last with Ragnor’s sorry rule.
The bastard knew Edward and his men were with the king so he attacked a castle defended by a few men of arms and a woman. The walls did not fall but Arden did. Luckily Madwyn spirited Eliane away and kept her hidden in the deep wood that separated the two estates. It was rumored that she used magic to keep Eliane safe. Many of the men who were tempted by Ragnor with great reward for the safe capture of the missing daughter ended up dead, as did their master when Edward finally came home and sought his revenge.
Ragnor’s death, quickly endorsed by the king who held Edward in high esteem, did nothing to restore Arden to him. Nor did it enrich his coffers. Renauld was the heir and remained so because of the King’s benevolence towards those who supported him at a time when it was not sure if he would wear the crown. Never mind that Renauld was a squire at the time. He’d sworn his allegiance to Allan who served the king faithfully and therefore would not be punished for the sins of his father. Even now he was at court, or so the men who were still friendly with Edward said. Peter was one of these men. Peter was well related and had proven to be honorable time and time again. He was also indebted to Edward and looked after his interests at court since Edward was no longer able to do so himself.
If only Peter had not been betrothed at a young age else he could solve Edward’s problem for him. He was now well married with sons and daughters of his own. Now there was no time for Eliane to choose, nor would she, as she told him time and time again. He was her father and he would choose for her as was his right. If Edward died before the matter was taken care of and Renauld was there to plead his case it would be the end of her and of all of Aubregate. That was the one thing Edward was certain of. He should not have waited so long to resolve it.
The deep wood swallowed Eliane and the beast at her side just as the earth had swallowed Arden after her death. Just as it would, one day soon, swallow his faltering body and return it to the dust from whence he came. He could only hope that he still had enough time. Edward turned once more to his parchment and picked up his quill.
Han was waiting.