Monday, July 15, 2013

Fated - Excerpt

Fated has been turned in to JenMcJ over at GoodReads. Yay!! And I'll tell you right of the gate, I will be working on an expanded version of the story this coming fall, after I get Striker turned in to LT3.

Fate came just under 29k. I anticipate the full length story to be 80-90k. I already have the title, Fate and Destinies. This will be a standalone novel. At the moment, I don't anticipate there being others but I've been wrong before. I swore I would never write a historical, even a paranormal historical and look where that got me. *nods* Yep, a paranormal historical.

With luck, Fated will be released at the end of the month. I'm guessing it will be one of the last ones released. Which by the way made me think of the Dear Author Prompt that I put out there. Dana Cavallon picked it up. I think there are two more weeks left for the event's releases. It should be coming soon, even though I wanted it yesterday!  ~le sigh~ :)

Here is an excerpt to wet your appetite. Hope you guys like it!!

Fated by Lexi Ander
Copyright © 2013


1164: the Battle of Renfrew

~Laird Ewen Meinnear, Thane of Malcolm IV, King of Scotland~

The red haze of berserker rage crowded the edges of my vision. By strength of will alone I held the beast at bay. For the last couple of days, my men and I had pursued the banner of Somerled, King of the Isles, only for the slippery snake to slide through our fingers. However today, the scarlet clad pagan Somerled kept close to his side broke away from the King of the Isles, seemingly quite determined to meet us on the battlefield, to all appearances leaving Somerled no choice save to follow him. I surged forward, my beast catching the scent of the man we needed to kill. In my haste I almost became separated from my king, Malcolm IV, and my men.

The pagan in the flowing red robes wore no discernible armour. He wielded his sword and shield with a fierceness that closely matched my own. Before I could engage him, the golden-haired warrior veered off, and there before me stood Somerled himself. Young Malcolm, King of Scotland, came up on my right. Under his protective helm, Somerled's eyes flared with an ambitious light when he spotted Malcolm. Little did Somerled know he would have to go through me to kill my king.

Over the last several days of battle, we had watched Somerled. Those of us who fought beside Malcolm would convene at the end of the day to share our observations. Soldiers surrounding the King of the Isle kept him insulated and he rarely lifted the sword in combat. This meant I was well aware the man I faced was fresh and not battle weary. Even so, he still would not be a match for me and the beast contained under my skin.

The moment I stepped in front of Somerled to face off with him, I caught the scent of another. The beast and I snarled together, the berserker haze that stayed at the edge of my vision during battle intensified as the creature within me attempted to go to the protection of the source of the amazing scent. The tight control I held over the beast's actions slipped away leaving me utterly animalistic in mind, even if not in body, as I engaged Somerled with the single-minded ferocity that caused my kinsmen to give us a wide berth.

Normally I exercise tight control over the beast within me but in battle I am unable to keep him contained. When the animal fury grips me, I always came away far more drenched in blood than a normal warrior, the bodies of the fallen mauled almost beyond recognition by my sword or axe. Sometimes I lose myself so completely to the animal I cannot recall my actions. I constantly worry I will strike down friend or family instead of the foes who face me on the bloody field. Such are the results of the legendary berserker rage.

I do not recall what I did or how long we fought.

The berserker rage I rode into battle with suddenly disappeared. Never before had my inner animal been calmed so quickly or effectually. Usually it took time for the rage to disappear, my kinsmen making sure I did no harm once the battle finished.

The beast that shared my skin went from combative to curious in the blink of an eye, soothed and contented. My arms and shoulders tingled and ached from prolonged excessive exertion. I gulped air as sweat stung my eyes. The sounds of battle echoed around me, a noise I never want to remember but always dream about in the dark of night. Wounded and dying men alike cried out in sorrowful wails. The sound rivalled the fiercest of banshee singing. Ravens added their sharp cries to the discord as they circled overhead or moved among the bodies. I did not want to take these memories back to my family or my quiet forest, though I would never be free of them.

As I attempted to catch my breath, shocked at the sudden withdrawal of the beast, my gaze took in the details of the waning battle. Somerled's invading troops retreated now their king and all of his retainers lay dead or dying on the battle ground. Before me laid the decapitated body of Somerled mac Gillebride, King of the Isles, his body armour dented and cleaved in two as if severed by the powerful blows of an ogre or giant.

Appointed as Thane over Loch Raineach two years ago by Malcolm IV, King of Scotland, I spent my days in battle near him. I knew only I had the ability to protect him. At twenty-four, Malcolm appeared as a man twice his age and he had been in poor health for as long as I had known him. If I was weary then he was doubly so because he insisted on fighting regardless of his malady. Malcolm moved up next to me and gazed down at Somerled. My kinsmen of Clann Meinnear loosely surrounded us to protect the king against a random attack for all that the battle seemed to be over.

The red robed warrior cautiously approached us. I admired the heart of the foolish but fierce golden-haired man. Every day he wore flowing robes instead of armour, but strangely never seemed to suffer injuries. The pagan approached us cautiously, his blue gaze unerringly locked on me. Unsure of his intention, I shifted my feet, readying my shield and sword to engage this new enemy even as he reminded me of Graundfather's stories of the old ways.

Plaited golden hair lay in one long thick rope over the warrior's shoulder. Tattoos marked the fair skin of the man's face although the design could not hide the scarring that started at the right temple, flowing down the cheek to the neck. The pagan wore a short, tiny cropped triangle on his chin, lighter than the colour of his braided hair, on the lower part of the chin. His upper lip, neck and cheeks were clean-shaven.

Eyes so blue they reminded me of the glaciers in the far north held me transfixed as the man dropped his weapons and knelt on the ground on the far side of Somerled's body. His arms stretched wide, held out from his body, he finally broke eye contact when he bowed his head and bared his neck to me. With his king now dead, this man willingly gave his life for me to take. As I inhaled his scent, my beast yowled and chuffed. This smell, this pagan had both instigated a fierce berserk rage and then soothed the beast. A long-ago conversation with my graundfather once again tickled my memory. A warning. So many years had passed with no culmination of Graundfather's words that I had begun to disbelieve.

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