Happy Tuesday, and thank you for tuning in again.
Please allow me to present to you the sixth teaser for Seeds, Book One of The Heterogen Chronicles, scheduled for publication January 2016.
For this particular teaser, here is some context. This scene takes place after the previous teaser, following our characters who have left the City of Kaliber in a rather unconventional, and violent, way. As they realize they will be pursued from their exit, Brass has led them off the main road into the Wild, and Shade has been sent ahead to ride point as they march. He soon finds himself in an apple orchard, where he meets another old friend, and some new ones…
From Act Two, Part One of the novel, this is Scene 3…
[PLEASE NOTE: Seeds is intended for a mature audience.]
Emerging From The Trees
Shade breaths deep the clean air of the foothills and enjoys the chirping of hidden birds. He thinks for a moment to take a sip of wine, their bottles all having been refilled at the Inn during breakfast. But now, being back in the Wild, the urge is quick to vanish. He pulls out a bottle of water instead. As he drinks it occurs to him, for the first time, how odd it is that they drink water from bottles, the dispensing of which is controlled, just like wine. When in the Wild he has drunk from streams and rivers with no issue, but in the Cities, and at the Manor, the drinking water is always bottled, never taken from a faucet. To build a reliance on the Petties, he thinks of Brass’ words on the balcony last night.
His ride is slow on the muddy trail and he assumes the wagon to be going at a similar, if not an even more sluggish, pace. It is almost twenty past twelve when the density of pines opens up to a large grove of apple trees, like a private orchard in the middle of the woods carpeted with soft grass, clover, and moss. This is when he hears something, like a twig snapping, coming from off to his right.
He swings quickly out of the saddle, draws a revolver from his vest, and flips the safety. “Wait,” he whispers to Luci and she lifts her snout to him so he can feel her warm breath. Shade takes a couple of silent steps and listens. Still the sounds like something creeping toward him, but he can see no movement. He takes out the telescope and powers it on, then lifts it to his eye with his right hand, holding the glowing revolver with his left, pointed at the ground.
Looking through the telescope he at first can just see some of the nearby apple trees magnified, but still no evidence of the sound’s source. He adjusts the zoom a bit more and again scans the grove. Nothing moves except the leaves in the trees.
His vision suddenly fills with black and he drops the telescope, brings up the revolver, finger hot on the trigger.
“Well, well, well, just a few years out of Farther and you’re ready to shoot an old friend,” she speaks in a voice like smoke rising from a roaring fire.
“3396317!” Shade exclaims and lowers the revolver.
“You may call me Onyx now, Shade. Black Onyx.” She is a bit taller than he, and a Felis, her fur shiny black and long, the tips glowing in the bright sun. Looking him over with amber eyes, she gives a deep smile that wrinkles her small pink, triangular nose. One of her short, pointed ears twitches a little and her curling tail seems to peek out from behind her. She wears a long heavy coat with a split in the back, a wool tunic and breeches similar to his own, all colored dark green, and heavy boots of deep brown leather. In her hands she holds a dormant splitter and wears a sword on her back, just like Brass’.
“Onyx,” he says, “a fittingly beautiful name.”
“What did you expect?” she asks with a wink and flick of her tail.
“I can’t believe you’re standing here.”
“But here we are.”
“I just never thought I would see you again, or anyone else from Farther Island.” He powers down the revolver, places it back in his vest, and steps toward her. They embrace, a gentle breeze wrapping around them, dappled sunlight raining down through the leaves of the apple trees. Shade takes a long breath as the tip of her tail brushes his cheek. The sweet scent of almonds.
She pulls him to her tightly, the curve of her body comforting against his own, and purrs in his ear. “I imagine you were just as surprised to see Brass yesterday.”
“Yes, I…wait,” Shade says and steps back. “How do you know about Brass? How do you know my name instead of my Number? And just what are you doing out here in the middle of…wherever it is we are?”
“The Wild is rife with Outlaws, and a smart girl never travels alone, as the four of you should not.” She turns for a moment and waves her hand as though beckoning, then Shade sees three more figures emerging from the trees. “We are all part of Storm’s group, and here to see you safely to our home.”
The three are Capris, one male being the tallest and largest heterogen Shade has ever seen, standing at least a head higher than Onyx and with shoulders so wide it seems he would have to go through doors sideways. His fur and eyes are inky black, beard peppered, and his tightly curled grey horns show little reflection of the sunlight. There is a second male, the same height as Brass but thin as a twig, with reddish brown fur that is rather shaggy, a lengthy beard, one horn longer than the other, and eyes the color of wild sage. The third is a female, short and slender with unblemished white fur and bright green eyes sparkling like emeralds. Her shiny horns rise shortly from her head then jut out to the sides with just the tips curling slightly toward the sky.
“These are Hardy Kale, Autumn Leaves, and First Frost,” Onyx introduces them.
“At your service,” they say in unison and give a modest bow. Shade can see they all wear the same green tunics, breeches and coats as Onyx with similar boots, a sword over each of their right shoulders, and splitters in their hands.
“And I am Shade, Summer Shade.”
“We know,” Kale says, his voice like a clap of thunder, and steps forward. The scent of burnt wood. Shade looks up at the giant Capris and tilts his head a bit to the side.
Leaves springs around Kale, slides an arm across Shade’s shoulders, and looks at him with only one eye open. The scent of freshly sliced oranges. “Certainly you didn’t think your chance meeting with Brass yesterday was so much a coincidence, no?” His voice is like a sudden flare of sunlight breaking through the clouds.
“Well,” Shade offers, “it did seem a bit odd to be running into him in Kaliber like that.”
“Odd, or perhaps not, no?”
Frost glides up next to Onyx and speaks softly as the breeze into her ear. “You weren’t lying, girl. He is a handsome one.” She blinks her large green eyes at him. The sharp scent of freshly cut mint. Shade returns a charming smile.
Please stay tuned for more teasers…
Ciao, for now, Stephen~