About a month ago, I had the idea to write the backstory for Zolithia as a series of short stories that I could give to anyone for free. Immediately, I began working on one that is referenced early in my novel. It’s about the birth of a princess and a young boy desperate to protect her.
To make a long story short (pun definitely intended), the first story is available now! If you sign up for my email list, you can get the whole thing right to your inbox!
But… if you don’t want to do that just yet, here is a little excerpt for you.
“It’s a…” Sierre whimpered, but she trembled immensely. Harlo rounded the corner to see why she had squealed.
The first thing he saw was the overturned basket, which explained the crash he’d heard. In their father’s study, Sierre trembled in one corner. And in the other, something black was coiled up.
“A snake!” she squealed, her fists muffling the cry.
“Sie!” Harlo scolded as he put himself between her and the viper. “What are you doing in here?”
“I ran out of ink,” she explained in a whisper. “I was writing a song for the new baby…”
Harlo’s eyes locked on the snake. Its smooth rope of a body slithered like a trail of spilled ink that Sierre hadn’t intended to find.
Its eyes so dark, Harlo could hardly find them gleaming among the rest of the snake’s head. But the bright pink tongue darted out. The creature switched direction, and Harlo saw three red diamond shapes on its head, each smaller than the one above. Now, even in the shadows, he could spot it.
Most sinister was the sinking feeling in Harlo’s chest. Beyond danger. Like smoke in the lungs, the air was thick with the children’s fear. Sierre whimpered as the creature silently rubbed its belly across the stone floor.
Harlo trembled involuntarily.
“Get out, Sierre,” he commanded through gritted teeth, his 12-year-old arms spread behind him to protect her. The children inched toward the door and Sierre hyperventilated until the moment she darted out of the room.
Harlo knew there was only one way to handle it. He had to put it back in the basket, or there would be hell to pay. So, his fingers stretched as far as they could go, searching for the doorknob so his eyes wouldn’t have to leave the hissing creature.
Sierre yelled, “No! Harlo!”
But the door was shut. He lost the light from the hall, but the window and the red diamonds were enough. It was just him and the snake.
He dared not make a noise, nor move too swiftly as he scanned the room. The papers wouldn’t help. The chair was too bulky. The lamp wasn’t lit, and father would know if he burned any amount of candle or oil. Then there was the object almost as terrifying as the viper.
His father’s measuring stick.
It sat neatly in its place on the desk. Slowly, Harlo reached for it. The smooth, marked rod carried much emotion. Normally he shuddered at the sight. Vivid, stomach-turning memories rushed him as his fingers curled around it.
Now he was master of the switch.
The blurry corner of his vision shifted, startling him. He leaped to the edge of the room, the viper now at his feet. Harlo felt the cold wall against his back as he watched the snake’s head rise higher and higher off the ground.
Opening its pink and fleshy mouth, the snake released a harrowing hiss. Suddenly it snapped its jaws at him, and Harlo struck it with the stick without thinking.
Fear emanated through his limbs. What could he do to hinder this beast?
“Be like Father,” he thought, “Demand submission.”
Another swerve toward his midsection, Harlo leaped to the side. If only he weren’t so afraid of it. It hissed again but slithered backward. It was scared of him too.
Harlo’s heart raced. He knew he could never choose anger over fear. He wasn’t his father.
But he was resourceful.
He took off his cotton shirt and threw it on top of the snake. It’s risen head lowered to the ground. If it couldn’t see him, it couldn’t strike. Using the stick, he scooped the snake up once more and tossed it and the fabric in the basket. As if it were sitting in a blazing fire, he snatched his shirt back again and forced the lid on top.
It was done.
After a few deep breaths, he placed the measuring stick back in its place, unaware that it was facing the wrong way.
I hope you like it! This is just one scene in the middle, so the full version has a lot more. Here’s the link to get the whole story again!
Sharing these stories, and writing for you all, is new territory. I’m still learning and I appreciate your interest, as well as your patience. This is fun for me and I hope it is fun for you too!