Sword of Stone Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from book three in the Sword of Rhiannon series,  “Sword of Stone”.  I’m hoping it will be done by the end of summer.

Time seemed to stand still here in this primeval clearing located in this ancient forest. The birds were quiet as if to show reverence to the King of the Forest that stood in front of her. It lay dormant now, innocent and blameless, though Rhiannon knew that was a lie. The shell’s smooth surface warmed Rhiannon’s hand as her mind fought the calm wanting to race with disquieting thoughts.

Through the dim, dwindling light Rhiannon peered at where her long, sad odyssey had first begun: she stood before the Tree of Jur. Its huge, gnarled truck held up massive branches still full of dark leaves, shimmering in a dry breeze that dared to blow through the forest clearing. She edged a little closer mesmerized by the gaping opening in the tree, its inky darkness so deep the brightest light would not penetrate it. She could feel its draw on her soul calling her home.

She peered up at the living monolith standing before her. Hundreds of human bones hung eerily from the dark branches of the tree gently swaying in the breeze in a macabre dance of death. Flashes of white drew her eyes and gave the tree of bone and mist an otherworldly appearance. The Priests of Jur had hung the bones of their dead upon the tree many years ago in an act of reverence and worship. What they left was a ghoulish spectacle which most people avoided. But Rhiannon had been drawn to the tree’s sheltering arms and promise of home.

Rhiannon stopped before the tree and hesitantly held out her hand. The bark was rough and warm under her fingers. It would still be hours before the tree’s portal opened but she could feel a current running through the tree and the air as if it siphoned power from the forest in preparation. She mindlessly rubbed the rough bark wondering how it would be to walk back into her life in Montana. Matthew and Daniel would be shocked but she knew she would still be welcome. Could she do it? Could she leave Màrrach for good?

She edged closer to the tree as she counted everything she had lost since coming through the tree: her father, Tim, Flath and now Shih ‘Ni. The loss was too great to bare—she could stand to lose no more.

Unaware of time passing, Rhiannon stood before the Tree of Jur as the full moon traveled across a black sky. She felt no hunger or thirst or even a need to rest. She was not aware of Zellan as he grazed and ever so often looked up at her to make sure she was still alright. Her ears were deaf to the night insects or the hoot of a nearby owl. Enthralled by the tree she stood by its side all night like a sentry at her post.

Finally, the moon dipped behind tall pines and the cold stars gave up their twinkling as night turned to dawn and then the sun started to rise turning the sky from pink to blue.  Rhiannon felt the humming of the tree before she heard it. Under her caress, the already warm bark turned hot and she pulled her hand away. A thick mist started to poor from the tree and roll across the clearing. The smell of pine was replaced by the aroma of dirt and blood and the tree started to glow an amber color.

This was it. This was her chance to right the wrong that had been done her when she was brought here. The pull of the tree was hard to resist and then she wondered why she was resisting at all. She moved closer to the opening that was now aglow in amber light.

Ever so slowly something started to eat away at her haunted thoughts. A nagging that became louder and could not be ignored any longer. She was being watched! Her pulse quickened as she squeezed the shell in one hand and pulled her sword free with the other. Slowly she turned around ready to face what she was sure was an attack.

Peering through the mist, though, was not the face of an enemy at all. “Rhiannon, don’t,” Kyia pleaded, tears running down her cheeks—Rhiannon dropped her sword to the ground and the amber mist swallowed it whole.

Hope you guys enjoyed this little peek into Sword of Stone.  Check back for updates on its book launch.

This beautiful art is from: http://feelgrafix.com/799833-fantasy-art-wallpaper.html

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A familiar smell started to fill the air. Rhiannon stopped and closed her eyes tight. The smell of earth and roots and blood wafted across the opening. She opened her eyes and stared at what lay before her: her nightmares realized. The huge tree began to whisper. It was such a faint hum that she was not certain it was there at all. Slowly it became more evident. As if her dreams had been mere rehearsals, her body answered to the call of the tree as it had hundreds of times before.

Slowly she stood before the tree, her eyes were wide, and she began to tremble. She felt Zellan’s hot breath on her shoulder and without looking away, reached behind, grabbing tightly onto the reigns in a desperate attempt to deny the call she was forced to answer. The stallion proved to be an unwise choice for an anchor for he moved with her, almost pushing her, as they were drawn closer.

The twisted trunk sat in its place as if to mock her and an amber glow started to burn within the tree. The light grew brighter, and a golden mist crawled across the muddy forest floor. Luna pinned her ears back and growled, long, sharp fangs framing a feral smile.

The tree began to burn brighter, and she became afraid, but could not move away. Curiosity bade her stay as a familiar feeling sprinkled her soul like an old childhood memory now long forgotten. A heady, dull scent hung in the damp mountain air becoming overpowering as it coated her skin and tongue.

Fear began to recede, replaced by a feeling that this was something she should know, like the words to a well-known song whose name she could not recall. An overwhelming urge to touch the light clawed through her being. Slowly she edged forward, ignoring all rational thought. Like the bitter cold wind calls the winter to come along, Rhiannon continued her path toward an intimate, well-known course.

As though lightning had struck again, she was blinded by a searing light, and a low rumble battered her ears. In an instant, thousands of memories of her life on a Montana cattle ranch exploded in her mind leaving a jumble of brightly colored images swimming within her. Time had stopped, and as each image grew old, she knew they were gone forever.

When all the images were gone, she quietly left that place and flew over the Earth. She was awestruck by its raw beauty and perfectly round shape. As it, too, faded from sight, she drifted farther and farther away into a darkness that could not be explained. She felt as though she were being pulled towards something. A place she could not resist, nor did she wish to.

Onward it drew her into its bosom. And then she saw her: the woman who danced in her dreams. The woman she was convinced was the image of her long dead mother. “You’re almost home, my love,” the woman whispered, and then her world went black.

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