Samples From "The Child of Time"

From Book 1, "Injury of the Spirit", Chapter 2

At first, Mekin was unable to notice anything. Within a few moments, though, he heard what sounded like a horse approaching from the direction of the city. Shortly after that, a person rushed out from the trees. They were clearly unaware of the depression in the landscape and with a wail stumbled, falling down the hill and rolling into the water with a loud splash, tossing something in a bag off to the side toward where Mekin had come in. Mekin jumped up and ran around to aid the person but before he could be of any assistance the horse he'd heard burst into the clearing. Though the rider was unaware of the decline, the horse compensated and it navigated down before coming to a stop. The rider was an imperial guard. His silver armor glinted in the sun, which flashed off of the T-shaped rose and sword logo of the King's family. He looked to be in his mid-twenties and sported an impressive-looking sword on his back, while his shield with the royal insignia of the Tirada dynasty was strapped to the side of the horse. Mekin stared in awe as the soldier reined the horse around and calmed it down. This was what Mekin wanted - to be this soldier, garbed in all the imperial regalia, chasing down fugitives and wrongdoers from atop his trusty steed.

"Halt!" he yelled to Mekin. "Where's the thief?"

Mekin assumed the guard was talking about the unfortunate person who'd fallen into the water. At that point, she stood up and he almost choked in surprise.

Ruñe immediately leapt at Mekin and spun around him, holding her knife to his neck. She apparently did not realize who he was in the panic and he was caught off guard. "I'll kill him!" she screamed to the guardsman. She sniffed the air briefly, as though something was bothering her nose.

The guard dismounted gracefully, awing Mekin again, and paced forward slowly. He lifted the visor of his helmet up to reveal the concern on his face. "There's no need to harm innocent people, young lady. Just let go of the boy and come over here and things will be okay." His voice was calm and measured. He clearly knew how to handle this sort of situation since it was one of the many things guards-to-be were taught at the academy. Mekin had read all about the variety of courses offered to the students to supplement the extensive weapons training. He heard Ruñe sniff again.

"I won't be letting go of the boy, so you can -" Ruñe started to say.

In a flash of déjà vu, Mekin slid out of Ruñe's grasp, knocked the knife out of her hand and pulled her around and into a hold. She screamed, clearly frustrated, and tried to break free of his hold. It was unsuccessful, though, as Mekin was ready this time.

The guard, a bit taken back, shook his head and said, "Okay, just hand over the bread now, miss."

Mekin was not sure if she realized who he was. Regardless, he stood up for her. "She doesn't have a loaf of bread!"

Now thoroughly confused, Ruñe angled her head back to see Mekin. Her lips formed an "O" and she sent some anger out at the guard. "Yeah! I don't have any stinking loaves of bread!" She stuck her tongue out at him. Very quietly, she whispered to Mekin, "Why do you smell like a girl?" He blushed and cursed the eunomia silently.

"You know as well as I do that I wouldn't be chasing you if you hadn't taken any bread from the market." The guard retorted. To Mekin he said, "Young man, this girl is dangerous, please be careful." He paced around a bit and came back with the bag Ruñe had thrown off to the side before plunging into the water. "Here we go. Now, just hand her over to me carefully."

The guard reached forward for Ruñe but Mekin suddenly realized what would happen to her. He remembered her situation, as little of it as she had told him, and knew from reading what a few jails looked like. In addition, he'd heard from various people what the prisoners, themselves, lived like.

"No, I'll tell you what," he said, matter-of-factly, improvising a plan. "How much is a loaf of good bread? Half a lin? I'll give you two for the bread maker and five for you to say the girl got away."

Mekin pursed his lips as Ruñe continued to struggle in his grasp. She looked back and forth between the two expectantly as the soldier regarded Mekin bemusedly for a few moments. "You're a tough little man, aren't you? Apart from the fact that the law demands I bring her in, how could I even be guaranteed that you two aren't in cahoots and she couldn't go steal another loaf? Just let me bind her ..." He trailed off as he approached and Mekin pulled Ruñe further back from him. She feigned a slight struggle.

"My father is Argil Toria, a farmer. We sell vegetables out of a cart in the Taerin market: Sugar beets, and gherkins, and corn, and radishes. Surely you've seen us there recently? I know this girl, she's just misguided, and I'll make sure she doesn't touch another loaf of bread. Just give us the loaf she took, and I'll give you the seven lin to keep it quiet." He was overreaching, he knew this, but he absolutely could not let this girl go to jail. He'd heard that most guards weren't above an old-fashioned bribe and he hoped that this one was not an exception. He bit his lip and chewed on it gently as the man appeared to turn the idea over in his head.

The guard chortled a bit and looked away, his face a mix of disbelief and genuine amusement. "You're Argil's son?" he asked, and Mekin nodded his head. "All right, I'll let you off this time ... but I'll put you both in the pen if she steals again!" He jabbed his fingers at the two of them while speaking. Then he took the seven lin from Mekin. In a single motion he mounted his horse and rode away, back toward the town.

From Book 2, "The Stone Royalty," Chapter 14

The sign at the entrance of the town had been intricately carved and then painted to display a welcome message and the name, Yliuneal, which Ruñe didn't have the slightest clue how to pronounce. There was an archway at the front that looked to be a carefully tended bush of sorts with bright pink flowers dotting it. She walked through and inhaled the scent they gave off, which had a sweetness she wasn't expecting. The town opened up to the left and right from there, and was built on a decline that led all the way down to the shore of the ocean. Ruñe knew they'd been steadily going uphill since leaving the port but was still amazed at how many streets she could see intersecting the four main roads leading downhill. The buildings were all of different construction, probably from the various points in time they went up - she could see several old stone buildings with ivy growing on the side but also many with smooth, painted sides.

A group of children ran by, laughing, as they chased some sort of small animal. It actually upset her that this remarkable village was just a waypoint on her travels and she thought to herself that once everything was okay she would make Mekin come here with her.

The ephemeral thought of everything being okay jolted her out of her head in time to avoid bumping into a Jinnese man. She stumbled and fell forward, but he thankfully reacted to catch her.

"Careful, young lady," he cautioned. "Don't hurt yourself!"

She apologized profusely to him, despite his reassurances that it wasn't a problem. Taking the opportunity she asked him, "Do you live in this town?" The man nodded and she followed up, "How do you pronounce the name?"

He laughed before responding. "It's funny, the name is so natural to me but I can see it being tough to someone passing through. You say it like, Yee-lee-yoo-nee-yal, though people here generally just say the Yee-lee part and leave it at that."

Ruñe repeated it. "Yliuneal. Very pretty. You only say Yli, though?"

"Yes, the town is named after the river, which then gave its name to the lake and waterfall there," he said, indicating them by pointing in their directions. The river was probably the same one they'd crossed the previous day and the lake was definitely visible so she guessed the waterfall was close. The man addressed her again. "Where are you visiting from?"

"That's a long story but my journey originated in Taerin," Ruñe stated.

"As in northern Pleridia?" the man looked amazed. She indicated he was correct and he shook his head while whistling. "Well now I can say I've met someone from there for the first time in the nearly thirty years of my life!"

Her mind called up an image of the odd trees with the blue berries. "Oh, one last question! Do you know what the bush-like trees are? The ones with the dark green leaves and the icy blue berries that grow on them?"

"You're probably referring to the junipers. I hope you didn't eat any of the berries," he stressed. She shook her head. "Good. The ones that aren't poisonous taste awful."

He bowed and wished her a good stay before taking his leave. Ruñe continued along the path, meandering and absorbing the beautiful little town as she headed downhill. After a bit she came upon what she suspected was the river the local man had mentioned: the hill flattened out and she could hear the water running as she came upon the bridge over it. She stood upon the bridge and looked across to the other three, marveling at the beauty of the various trestle plants growing along them. The thought of a sunset here made her wish she could just abandon Belzamus but she knew that would not be very good of her to do, though she was now certain she would make Mekin travel with her to this wonderful village.

Heading further down the hill, the road she was on started to merge left into another one. At the point where they met, there was an overlook next to the Yliuneal waterfall. The river must have wound back around to this point and it was one of the most amazing sights Ruñe had ever seen. She almost wished that she hadn't painted the view of the castle earlier, since capturing the waterfall would be even better. However, she recalled seeing a vendor up near the beginning of the town where she might be able to purchase supplies.

From Book 3, "March of the Moon," Chapter 22

Even with one eye it was easy for Brylle to help Prince Waysen sneak around and through the Diazürian encampments on the outskirts of Taerin. He could tell that the forces were set to go in waves and the advance ones already engaged in battle were roaming the various streets on the outskirts of the city and fighting with Tiraidan soldiers. Deftly, he managed to lead them all through the fray without alerting any troops; while he had no memory of it, he was sure the skill came from the days before his injuries. They made their way to the northern edge of the city, pausing between some buildings so that they were close to the castle but still concealed from its view - on the chance that there were marauders along the curtain wall or somehow inside, he wanted to remain hidden.

"Well done, Sir Umeka," Jayvin whispered as they pressed against a mud brick house.

Brylle, however, was almost thirsting for combat. He knew it would be too much of a risk to the Prince and his son, but as he heard the din of war around them it was very difficult to resist the call. They had to make it to the castle gate safely, so he urged them on - but his desire for battle must have been a part of Meoneri's plan: A warrior who was clearly Diazürian walked into their path from an alley between two buildings. He turned to see them and didn't waste time moving forward to attack. The marauder had a short sword but his speed more than made up for the weapon's reach. Brylle's blade was out in a flash and he met the first strike, glancing it away. My worries were correct: They're already this deep into the city! he thought with alarm.

They were on a path that was only marginally wider than an alley so Brylle was able to keep the Prince and Jayvin behind him. The Dian lunged forward and stabbed quickly, but Brylle contorted his body to avoid it and spun to knock the blade away. This managed to back the man up a bit so Brylle advanced and made a few attacks of his own, all of which were parried away. Their attacker kept sidling back, his blade at the ready, trying to draw them into the open, but Brylle held his ground until the movement stopped. He noticed he was absently adjusting his shield.

"Too much for you?" Jayvin taunted, and this caused the Diazürian to press forward again. The attacks were well-timed and Brylle was unable to block one, leading to a cut on his forearm. It wasn't bad but it caused him to flinch a little and this further emboldened the man. He growled and leapt, swinging his sword as he did so.

That's quite foolish, Brylle thought to himself as he swiftly juked out of harm's way then rushed into the warrior, shield first. He drove the Dian backward and down the alley into the street, grunting as he did so.

Their attacker fell backward, losing his blade in the process. He held his hands up and begged for his life, so Prince Waysen and Jayvin came around to bind him. They left the warrior sitting against a wall, wrists tied behind his back and ankles tied so he couldn't pursue them later.

Brylle motioned for them to follow and he ducked into another alleyway, keeping his ears pricked for any noises so they wouldn't be surprised again. When the castle gate got closer, he heard another person approaching and braced himself.