Malessar’s Curse is a work of epic fantasy. Or an epic work of fantasy. You decide. The first volume, Heir To The North, is available now from Kristell Ink/Grimbold Books in both paperback and e-book formats. For more details, go to the HTTN page here, or read a sample below!
From Heir to the North – © 2015 Steven Poore
Her emotions were coiled too tight for her to remain at the table. She decided it might be best to get out of the way.
“I’ll see to the mule,” she muttered aloud to nobody in particular, and walked as calmly as she could toward the lean-to. Her legs trembled with every step and her vision was blurred by tears welling up in her eyes. When she reached the lean-to she could not hold them off any longer, and she buried her face in the mule’s foul-smelling hair, hugging the beast’s neck.
It wasn’t fair, she thought. It just wasn’t fair. How could the day have turned so ill, so quickly? Even their escape from Varro’s mob had not been so awful, not compared to this.
The mule tried to pull away. She was holding it too tight. She wiped away her tears and stared at the bags hanging from the beast’s back. The sum total of their lives, she thought miserably as she began to untie them, a task made harder by her quivering fingers.
“Girl,” a voice whispered quietly from the yard, making her drop one of the bags in fright. She peered around to see Attis at the gates leading from the yard, making good his intent to go home. Cassia was not certain she wanted to speak to him. After all, he had tried to purchase her too.
He glanced back in the direction of the table, making sure he was not observed. “Listen well, girl,” he told her. “The gods know your father for a damned fool. Normally I’d not waste my time helping him, but now he’s got you involved too.”
Attis paused and took a deep breath. “Baum is a dangerous man.” His voice lowered even further. “If you think that young swordsman of his is trouble enough, think again. I knew Baum fifty years ago. He hasn’t changed, girl. Not a bit. He’s more than he says he is. Tell your idiot father to keep his head down if he wants to keep it on his shoulders. And you – be careful, and stay away from Keskor. Rann Almoul will not forget this night.”
Cassia felt the trembling return, the muscles in her arms and legs threatening to betray her. She held tight to the bags on the mule’s back.
“Thank you, sir,” she said, her voice cracking. “I’ll tell him.”
Attis opened the gate. Halfway through he stopped, looking back over his shoulder. “If I thought you had even half a chance, I’d tell you to take that mule and run now.”
There were so many questions, but there wasn’t enough time. “Why?” she heard herself say. She wasn’t even sure which question she had meant to ask.
The old moneylender stared at her, and he seemed to shrink a little, bowed by an unseen weight on his shoulders.
“Because I had a daughter too. Once.”
The gate closed.