I’m close to finishing my medieval novella for Vella. I hope it’s online by the time you read this. So I thought I’d post a snippet from it so you’d know what I’ve been up to lately. It took longer to write than I expected. I ended up polishing chapters more than usual as I went. It took more concentration, too, so I quit working on my second Karnie mystery to finish it. Once it’s done, I hope to jump back into The Steaks Stakes Are High and do my best to pound the keys. Anyway, here’s a snippet:

They had a plan.  Not a good one, but a few might survive.  Except Sylwan had no intention of honoring it.  She knew what she had to do.

Ordinary people didn’t trust magic.  She couldn’t cast spells without attracting attention.  Now wasn’t the time to start, but she doubted farm implements would be worthy weapons against a giant beast.  So once the village slept, she went to the animal shed and climbed into its attic to retrieve her mother’s two-edged sword.  She’d only use it if it was necessary.  Then she walked to the river bank to wait.

A half-moon painted the water silver.  The river banks were visible, but deep shadows stretched from a clutch of trees close to where the village boats were tied.  Sylwan sat in the shadows to watch and wait, her back propped against a tree trunk, the sword pressed along her thigh.  Nights were warm now, so long sleeves were enough to keep her comfortable, and trousers protected her legs.  Bronson said the monster came as soon as the sun sank, so that’s when she started her watch.  The scent of dusky river mud and green grasses filled her nostrils.  Water lapping and the hum of insects lulled her to drowsiness, even though she tried to stay alert.   Once the sky inked to black, she drifted to sleep. 

Five uneventful nights went by before this night when ripples moved near the far bank, making moonbeams dance across the water.  Bubbles rose, floating closer to her and the shoreline.  Sylwan pushed to her feet and raised Blood.  A long, supple, lizard-like creature, taller than she was, slunk onto the bank.  It sniffed the air, then turned its head toward her and hissed, revealing long, spiky teeth.

Its narrow tongue darted out and wrapped around her waist to pull her toward it.  She sliced Blood downward, and the whiplike tongue dropped to the ground.  The beast raised its head and squealed in rage.  People rushed to their doors, grabbing weapons as they ran out of their huts.

Coblyr stared when he saw her and yelled, “Run!  Get away from the thing!”

She took a fighting stance.  The lizard crouched.  Its yellow eyes studied her.  Coblyr started to run toward it, brandishing his pitchfork.

“Stay back!” Sylwan cried.  “I have a sword.”

Coblyr stared as moonlight glinted off her heavy blade.  He turned to the other villagers.  “We have to help her.”

Gudwif grabbed his arm, tugging him to stay with her.  “You won’t reach her in time.  You’ll die with her instead of battling with us.  Don’t go any closer.”

He started to tug free when the lizard lowered its head and rushed Sylwan, its wide jaws opening to snap at her.  She stepped aside and sliced with Blood.  A deep cut oozed on its long snout.  She’d cut deep, hitting bone, but as Sylwan watched, the skin closed, mending itself.  The monster had magic.

It shook its head and lunged again.  This time, she leapt out of its path and, gripping Blood’s handle with both hands, jammed it straight down, listening to bones give.  She let the lizard’s momentum slice a deep groove in its skull and halfway down its neck.

The thing didn’t fall.  It curled its body to circle her, then locked gazes with her.  Was it smiling?  Its thin lips lifted.  She could stab and slice all night until it wore her out.  She planted her feet again, raised the sword and chanted a quick spell. 

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