As well as going to visit my wife in hospital I’ve been hard at work on my new novel. It’s taken some time on my edit of my Tudor novel but I’m slowly but surely working my way through that as well. I hope to publish this in February or March. Alice Petherton, the protagonist, is getting impatient to let her voice be heard.
I wrote the last novel on Scrivener and have done the same with this one. I’m learning more about it every time I use it. It seems ideal for me with my rather butterfly mind. I can write scenes as I think them and place them like jig-saw pieces into the overall framework. I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks.In the meanwhile here’s the opening section of my new novel. Hope you like it.
Brand turned over in his sleep. His eyes flickered open and he lifted his head. He could hear the sound of horses snorting. He placed his hand over Hild’s mouth and shook her awake.
‘Be quiet,’ he whispered. ‘Wake the children but keep silent.’
He pulled back the bed cover and tip-toed across to the bench. He picked up his hunting knife and drew it as quietly as he could. Turning towards his wife he gestured to her to take the children into the far corner of the room where the shadows were darkest. Then he inched open the door and peered out.
A dozen horsemen were standing on the slope in front of the hut, most still mounted, a few holding guttering torches. The horses were panting from exertion, blowing and neighing, kicking at the icy ground. Their breath and the heat from their bodies rose in the cold air, clouding them in a drifting fog.
Three men had dismounted and were making their way towards his hut. Brand slipped out of the hut and held his knife outstretched towards them.
‘Who are you?’ he cried. ‘What are you doing here?’
The three men hurried towards him, drawing their swords as they did so.
‘Put up your weapon,’ one of the men ordered. He was a tall, well-built man who stood a head taller than Brand. ‘There’s a dozen of us,’ he continued, ‘and we’re all well armed.’ He pushed the tip of his sword close to Brand’s throat.
Brand felt the scratch of the sword upon his neck. His heart was hammering in his chest and he willed himself to keep calm. ‘What do you want?’ he asked.
‘Food for my men and forage for our horses.’
Brand shook his head, his eyes widening. ‘We don’t have enough food for ourselves. We have none to spare for strangers.’
‘Whatever you have we’ll take,’ said the man.
He put down his sword, pushed past Brand and peered into the hut. ‘Dudda,’ he cried, ‘bring a torch.’
One of the warriors ran over and held the torch close to the door. The tall man glanced inside and chuckled quietly. ‘Outside,’ he called. ‘Quick about it.’
He stepped aside and Hild and the three children stole out of the hut, their eyes wide with terror.
‘Here’s a pretty little thing,’ said the man with the torch, stroking the hair of Brand’s daughter, Nerienda. She shrunk back against the wall and the man pushed his body against her. ‘I saw her first, Cenred,’ he said. ‘Finders keepers.’
The big man gave a grim smile. ‘Whatever’s here will be shared, fair and square, Dudda. Including the girl.’
‘No,’ cried Brand.
‘Both women,’ the big man, Cenred said, holding his sword at Brand’s throat, ‘including the girl.’
‘She’s fourteen years old,’ Hild cried, pushing forward. ‘She’s only a child.’
Cenred nodded. ‘That’s true. But you are not a child. You’re a comely woman. Very comely.’
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