Trading Into Shadow
It's Snippet Time for Trading into Shadow!
C.M.Simpsonn and Michael Anderle have created a new series set within the Age of Magic. This time, the action takes place in Paris! Or maybe I should qualify, it takes place UNDER Paris! I've only read the little snippet I'm including today but I can't wait for this one to launch tomorrow! Keep an eye out on FB Friday, March 1 for the link to this fantastic start to a new series set within the Kurtherian Universe and in the Age of Magic.
Marchant ran through the caverns, fleeing shadows that reached through the dark. She ran from their flaming eyes, and grasping claws, trying to get out of the range of limbs that stretched and flowed like molasses through the cracks of the Irth. It wasn’t long before she’d put some distance between herself and the shadow monsters, but still, she ran. A little distance was never going to be enough.
Marsh towed a frightened pack mule—ridden by the two children she’d managed to grab and toss aboard—along the trail of glow rods. They were meant to mark the safe zone, forming a barrier the shadow monsters could not cross. Trouble was, the damned things stalked the line of light, and if any of the glows went out? Well, that was what caravan guards were for—if you could afford to hire them.
Or if your boss wasn’t too tight-fisted and hired light, or stuck you with a caravan and no guards of your own. You’da thought he’d take better care of the goods he needed her to deliver, even if he didn’t give two gems’ worth of a damn about her. Well, she’d be saying something about that when she got back to Kerrenin’s Ledge. If she got back…
Screams rang out behind her as she fled the battle, the rest of the caravan proper strung out in her wake. She wondered how many of the guards would survive, and how many had already died. They’d stepped in to fill the path between the sudden black of a section of dead glows and the leading mules just as the monsters had struck. It soon became clear they were outmatched, and the caravan’s mage would have had no time to repair the trail and drive them back.
Obeying the orders to run, the rest of the caravan had turned back toward the safety of the last waystation. Having paid the least to join it, Marchant and her mule had been assigned the last position in line—the most dangerous place in any traveling party. Even the families looking to settle in the caverns around Ruins Hall had paid more, but Marsh hadn’t thought twice about scooping up their kids and giving them a ride out of danger, when she’d taken the lead.
Their parents were following a little way behind, having had to round up their other children. They were trying to control two mules apiece, not an easy feat when the beasts were panicking. Marsh kept moving, the rest of the caravan trailing behind her. She even thought they’d make the waystation— right up until the glows on either side of the path went out.
She’d barely had time to register the loss of light before the mule brayed in terror and dropped to its knees, pulling the lead tight in her hand. Marsh ducked and felt the air move above her, but she didn’t stop. She spun and snagged the kids before they fell or became shadow fodder, then picked a gap where the shadows seemed lighter and bolted toward it.
They’d passed a side tunnel leading into the gods knew where. Its only importance was that it sat just off the main trail and the caravan hadn’t avoided it, so maybe the shadows didn’t come from there. Maybe it led somewhere they didn’t like to go.
She pushed aside the idea that anything that frightened shadow monsters into avoiding a place should frighten her as well. The glows frightened them, and she wasn’t afraid of those. Struggling to carry both children beyond the path, Marchant let her eyes adjust to the dark. If she was lucky, the mule’s thrashing and bellowing would distract the shadows long enough for them to get away.
Marsh didn’t want to think about what was happening to those still on the path as they made it to the tunnel wall. Stopping long enough to set the bigger child on his feet, she tucked his little sister under her arm more securely, grabbed the boy’s hand, and hurried quickly around an outcropping of rock, seeking to put anything she could between her and the chaos at her back.
If their luck held, the monsters would go after the easy prey on the path before seeking any stragglers who made it into the dark. A quick glance showed her that the markers farther up the trail were still alight. She didn’t want to count on them staying that way, though, so she headed for the junction, leaving the glow behind her.
They reached the side passage, glad of the darkness wrapping around them like a cloak. The ground was rougher here, not worn smooth by the passage of thousands of hooves and feet, and Marchant slowed.
“Don’t stop,” the boy whispered, his eyes flashing white, his voice too loud in the dark. “Please don’t stop.”
He bolted past her, dragging her forward as he wound around boulders and stalagmites, his breathing fast and panicked. Under her arm, the little girl hung, as silent as a sack of shrooms but ten times heavier. For a minute Marsh worried that she might be carrying a dead weight, but there wasn’t any time to check.
The way the boy was running, the shadow monsters had to be hot on their heels. She almost looked back but couldn’t risk taking the chance. If the monsters were behind them, the last thing she needed was to fall. The only trouble was that not knowing how much of a lead she had meant she didn’t know how much faster she needed to go—and the ground was growing more uneven by the second.
Do you need to know what happens next as much as I do? If so, grab your copy tomorrow!