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By the Fates: Freed (sample scene)

Note: I am close to needing beta readers for this novella. If you are interested, there are some caveats you must know. This is an adults-only fantasy story that deals with some very dark themes. There are detailed descriptions of sexual abuse (not of a child, but of a very young woman) and torture. However, those are confined to the first few chapters, as it is ultimately a tale of survival and power. Beta readers must be willing to be brutally honest with me, but hopefully in an encouraging, constructive manner, as I am well aware that much of the text is precious to me, and therefore likely needs to be slashed with the red pen of doom. However, I am also very nervous about the prospect of sharing my words and my stories with the world, so telling me that the chapter sucks is likely going to send me cowering under the covers and burning Scrivener at the stake. <nervous grin> So tell me it could be better, or that I’m telling the reader things instead of showing them, or that I managed to change my character’s eye color four times in three pages. Unless of course the writing is so truly horrible that your eyes bleed, in which case, hit me over the head with something heavy.

My goal is to have one – maybe two chapters ready for review per week starting 12/10/12 with the ultimate goal of publication sometime in February or March.

The year of my birth was the thirtieth year of peace. My mother had no memories of the war, but my father fought bravely – so bravely that by the time he and my mother were mated, his body was failing him. To hear her tell it, they lived a lifetime in the two short years they were together, and I was born on his last day of life. It was he who named me, Ealasaid, for the promise of greatness or so my mother said. But the very night of my birth, the Fates took him, and days later, my mother fell into darkness.

I do not know the circumstances of her fall, for she was spelled by a devil, and the powerful magic he used forbade her from speaking of it – or perhaps it was merely too painful. I was only aware that when he was present, her mind and her body were his. She had once been a powerful witch, but under his control, she could manage only to cast a single spell – one that would protect me as long as she lived. The devil – nameless to me – for neither he nor my mother ever spoke his name – would watch me with a gleam in his eye, but neither his hands, nor his magic could touch me.

For fifteen years, I knew my mother’s love and though our lives were simple, with few comforts, I was safe. The devil – the man I came to regard as the tormentor – would spend his days away, and my mother would teach me. By the time I was fourteen, I had more education than most, and when he left the house, she would pull up one of the floorboards in the small bedroom we shared. In her hands, the old, faded spellbook contained the mysteries of the world, and she began to teach me the old language – the one I would need to work magic of my own. A witch was not born with magic, however, and though the words felt a part of me, reassuring and warm, they were powerless on my lips.

I had few friends, my only possessions a few threadbare dresses and my parents’ sigil – a stone pendant I wore around my neck with the etching of a phoenix in flight. It was this sigil that protected me – held her magic – when the tormentor would return and my mother’s eyes would go dead. She would cook, clean, and do his bidding, and if I called her name, she would turn, but look right through me. When he would retire – or bring his latest in a string of young women to his bed – her eyes would clear and she would hold me close, as if I could somehow erase the horrors of his fists or his words. Frightened, I would try to comfort her, and more than once I begged her to leave with me, but his magic kept her a prisoner, and so I stayed, biding my time and praying that one day, my magic would manifest itself, and we could break free.

On my fifteenth birthday, my time ran out.

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