I’ve been hard at work polishing the manuscript of the third installment of the Fylbrigge Saga: In The Wake of Ashes. The book will be officially released for Kindle and Paperback on April 19. I thought I’d share a small excerpt.
This sample comes from the first chapter. William is overseeing the construction of his new home.
**Spoiler if you have not finished My Brother’s Keeper**
“I told you it would work.” Ian clapped William’s shoulder. “That was a fine bit of engineering you worked out.”
“He worked it out?” Simon scoffed. “It should have fallen afoul before it started, then.” He crossed his arms over his chest, grinning.
William turned the plans over in his hand and gave Simon a confounded look. “That’s odd. The peaks are pointing the wrong way, look.” He held the upside-down plan out to Simon.
Simon burst into laughter then shook William’s hand heartily. “Congratulations, Will. ‘Twill be a fine home.”
“Thank you.” William rolled up the plans and took another gander at his masterpiece. “I’m as surprised as you are, Simon. It’s better than I expected. I’m amazed that the frame is finished so quickly.”
“It isn’t finished yet.” Ian shook his head, looking to Simon. “Is it, Simon?”
“Why, no, Ian.” Simon stroked his chin thoughtfully. “There’s something missing.”
William gave Ian and Simon a suspicious look. He unrolled his plans to see what could possibly be missing. “What are you two talking about?” he asked.
Ian winked at Simon with a grin. “Won’t be finished without that last touch, will it?”
“Not at all,” Simon answered.
“All right, what are you two up to?” William rolled his plans again.
“Why, the blessing of the bough, of course.” Ian extended a hand to the peak.
“The bough?” William looked where Ian pointed. As part of the construction preparation, a large iron arm, with a pulley on the end protruded from the peak. A rope had been threaded through, and was attached to a workman’s bench, meant for hoisting building materials. “What bough?”
Ian gave William a mischievous smile, then nodded a signal to Ephraim Ashcrofte, the new vicar, and Charles Blackwood, the blacksmith of the village, who were sitting on the grass nearby, both wearing the same look of smug conspiracy. They stood and went to the workman’s bench and set it across two barrels. Charles held up the evergreen branch that, as part of the traditional builder’s blessing, would be attached to the peak of the frame and remain there throughout the rest of the construction. Ephraim held up a hammer.
“So…who is to place the bough then?” William asked, with a slight sense of trepidation.
“The bough is always placed by the master of the house, of course.” Simon said, resting a hand on William’s shoulder.
Before he could protest, Ian and Simon flanked William, and lifted him off his chair, each taking one arm and leg, and carried him to the workman’s bench and sat him down.
“You’re not serious…” William laughed, looking back and forth at his friends, “are you?”
“Aye.” Ian and Simon spoke together, as they handed him a long length of rope.
“Strap yourself good, lad, you’re going up,” Ian said with a comical seriousness in his eyes.
“Absolutely!” William grinned, as he wrapped the rope back and forth around the bench and across his lap as many times as the length would allow. He looked up to Ian, then to the peak. “It is safe. Right?”
Ian leaned close to William, “Yes, but if you don’t want to do it, tell me. Truly, Will, it’s up to you.”
William looked again at the peak, thinking it over. “How high is it?” he asked quietly.
“It’s a bit more than twenty feet to the ground from up there,” Ian said, still speaking quietly. “If you like, I’ll go with you, if you’re afraid,” he offered.
William grinned, and raised a brow. “Afraid?” He took the hammer from Ephraim. “I think not. Hoist me, lads!”
The men around him cheered as Charles handed William the evergreen bough. It was no more than a yard in length and an inch in diameter. William threaded it under the rope on his lap, along with the hammer.
“Ready?” Ian asked, as he checked the safety rope.
William wrapped his left arm around one of the supporting ropes. “Ready.”
Slowly, Simon pulled the rope hand over hand, lifting the bench toward the peak.
Twenty feet to the ground. Twenty feet? For a moment William had an odd feeling he’d heard someone tell him that before, then the thought passed as finally he reached the peak of the frame. He glanced down to the ground. Wrong thing to do. He closed his eyes for a moment to steady a strange trembling that began worming its way from the pit of his stomach up through his chest. Fine time to discover that I’m not fond of heights. Just hammer the bough, and be done.
“You’re doing great, Will!” Simon called up from the ground.
“Just drop it in now,” Ephraim added his encouragement.
William tightened his grip on the support line, then reached for the bough with his free hand and slid it out from under the rope. A U-shaped bracket had already been placed in the beam, and all he had to do was slide one end of the bough into it, then give it one or two taps with the hammer and he would be done. Easy enough. Just hold on tight and lean out a bit—
“William!” Mehlyndia cried out, “What are you doing?”
William jolted, violently, as the sound of her voice startled him, and for one, terrifying moment, he was certain he was going to fall off the bench. His brief panic was echoed by a chorus of startled gasps from below him that quickly settled. He clutched the support rope as tightly as possible, and took a long breath, then looked down, nodded to the people that all was well, then looked to where Mehlyndia’s voice had come from. She was running toward the construction from the cottage. Elinor and Prissy, with Seany in tow, ran close behind. Ian ran to meet Mehlyndia half way, and stopped her from getting any closer. She argued with him for a moment, a mixture of panic and anger on her face. Oh, I’ll catch it from her later, I’m sure. Elinor caught up to them and put a motherly arm on Mehlyndia’s shoulder.
“Be careful!” Mehlyndia called up to William as Elinor persuaded her to sit in the shade. “That’s a long drop!” She settled on a rock beneath a large oak tree and watched him through her fingers.
“I’m always careful.” William answered, forcing a smile he hoped appeared more confident than he was feeling after being startled. When he turned his attention back to placing the bough, he discovered, to his dismay, he would have to lean out farther than he expected to reach the bracket. He instinctually wrapped his left wrist one more time around the support rope, which tightened, almost painfully so, as he leaned out, holding the bough with is right hand. Another strange echo flashed in his head, the drop is twenty feet to the floor. He froze, bough midway to the bracket, as the tremble in his middle made its way to his hand. Ground, not floor, there’s no floor under me. It’s the ground.
“Will?” Ian called up, from directly under the bench. “Is something wrong?”
William did not answer. He sat still as a stone.
©2013 All rights reserved: Lorrieann Russell