This weekend I took a break from writing after finishing the last edits of Dark Moon Rising. I spent some time with a friend and we talked about cross-stitching and other crafts. She had just completed a silhouette of Harry Potter characters for one of her nieces. I’ve done cross-stitch patterns that resembled woodcuts and those are much harder to keep the lines straight than doing colored cross-stitch patterns.
So this weekend I finished cross-stitching an owl. I watched Cleverman again so that I could get into season too. Plus took the dog for a walk.
Today I am onto Unlicensed Sorceress, which is the third book in Hilda’s Inn. Hilda is now in Koenigstadt and finds that Lord Barton and his cohorts are spreading rumors about her magical abilities.
Just a little excerpt to wet your whistle:
Part of Chapter Two in Unlicensed Sorceress
It had been a long time since Hilda had slept in a soft bed. She stretched and her knee locked. She rolled out of bed and stamped her leg on the floor, swearing under her breath. Sassy looked up out of the dying coals and grinned at her. Michael knocked on the door and whispered, “Are you okay?”
“Damn it,” said Hilda. “I hate getting old.” She heard a click in her knee, and then it loosened up.
She opened the door. Michael leaned against the door jamb with a small smile on his face. “Breakfast is ready,” he said. He turned away and she slammed the door. To hell if it made noise, she felt grouchy.
Her breeches had been laundered and left on a wooden chair. She had a shirt made to go with them. Instead of dressing in her traveling clothes, she looked in the wooden wardrobe. There was a gown and a cloak hanging there. Folded on the bottom was a shift and a simple dress. It only took her moments to get dressed. She could smell eggs and bacon and her stomach began to grumble.
She slipped on a pair of slippers and went to eat.
A young man waited, while they finished their breakfast. He separated Hilda from the rest of the group. “You need to come with me, madam,” he said and put his hand on her arm. She didn’t say a word, but let him take her arm. She didn’t pull away from him or use any self-defense moves. She was proud that she went with him quietly.
The young man was probably a mage. Sassy stayed hidden in the flame. It would be better if the mage didn’t know she had an element.
He walked with her through the gardens and then turned to a small innocuous building. Trees and bushes hid the building. Hilda could think of a hundred ways she could hide in the bushes and ambush anyone working there.
Since she had become a mercenary, she still had that instinct to look at someone and know how to kill them. Though as she looked closely around her, she could feel and smell magical traps. If she had really ambushed this building, she would be either captured or dead within minutes.
The young man must have read her face. He smirked just a little. “Every mage meets the big man,” he said cryptically.
Whoever built these traps was more paranoid than her and more powerful. She didn’t say a word and hoped her face didn’t show her sudden anxiety.
She sniffed, but only could smelled the trees and flowers. There was no smell of burning ash or rotten eggs. So if her nose was right, she wouldn’t have to deal with a dragon or a demon. There wasn’t a hint of corruption in the smell. Usually life has death mixed in it. The smells were too antiseptic. It made her nervous.
The door opened before the young man knocked. An older man with a huge smile showing yellow and broken teeth, invited Hilda into a small room with two chairs and a desk. Then the young man left.
The older man pointed Hilda to a seat. He walked around the desk and slouched in his chair. She waited for him to speak. The silence stretched for a long time. He looked down on a piece of paper and then looked up at her. Hilda would have given much to know what was written there. But she had never learned to read and had only learned basic math skills for running the inn.
She waited. She was not going to break the silence. She was not a young thing who would get nervous if some man looked at her long enough. She recognized this interrogation technique.
Finally the older man cleared his throat. She waited for him to speak.
“My name is Morcant,” he said.
Hilda nodded her head, politely.
“I will be discussing with you the unfortunate incident in the forest south of here. But first,” he handed me a piece of paper. “Sign here.”
“No,” Hilda said. “I will not sign something I cannot read.” She stopped her arms from folding against her chest. She didn’t want to look defensive. She gripped the chair arms firmly. Then said, “I want my brother to read this before I sign.”
Morcant’s eyes flickered back and forth. Hilda knew that the next words out of his mouth would be a lie. “It’s just saying that you are a mage.”
“But I am not,” she said. “I have not gone to the mage university and I have not practiced ritual magic. I am not a mage.”
“If you don’t sign this paper,” Morcant smiled. Hilda shuddered at that smile. Dragons had a nicer smile than this man. Morcant continued. “Then I will send you to the dungeon for dangerous criminals.”
“I have done nothing wrong,” Hilda said, her eyebrow went up. “What are you trying to pull?” She leaned forward. Morcant leaned back just a little, then he leaned toward her. She caught the slight movement that meant Morcant was nervous.
She felt his magical energies ramp up. She wished Sassy was with her because the two of them could overpower this wannabe. She sent a probe towards him on the off chance that she could read something in his mind. He blocked her and the smile wiped off his face.
He sent a probe back. She could barely push it away. She knew he was going to try again, so she reached for her knife. Damn. She was disarmed.
She reached across the desk and grabbed a pen.
A heaviness came over her limbs. She fought it and she could see beads of sweat roll down Morcant’s face.
“Enough,” someone yelled. Both Hilda and Morcant collapsed. Hilda was lying on the floor unable to move. Two legs and feet appeared in her view. Someone, very strong, picked her up.
As she was being carried out of the room, she saw a healer leaning over Morcant. His face was white and he was breathing shallowly.
“What the hell did you do to him?” said a familiar voice. “Hilda… Hilda.”
She looked up into the face of Rooso. She wanted to say “What are you doing here?” but her lips wouldn’t move.
He carried her all the way back to the house.