BUSY, BUSY, BUSY—HELP!
This week is out of control. As a result of my being unable to slow down the passage of time, I will not be bringing you a regular post. I do feel very bad about this, so to show that my heart is in the right place, and that I am so happy that you support my critters, we, me and my critters that is, have decided to bring you a special delivery.
Below is the prologue to book two, The Gift of Sunderland, which will be delayed in publication. I was hoping to have it out to you before the end of the year, but it looks like the baby will arrive early in 2015. I do hope you like the prologue. Feel free to send me any comments at: Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Two of the main characters in the book are Waylond, a regal Numbat, and Fergal a wonderful little Quoll. Waylond is a reluctant hero, and Fergal is spending most of the story trying to prove herself. Before I give you the prologue, I am posting a short ‘interview,’ which Fergal conducted with Waylond well after their adventure in The Gift of Sunderland took place. I think it will give you a good idea as to the personalities of these characters. Enjoy!
“I am Waylond of Acadia, Son of Roland, Guardian of the Forest.” He sits in a large wingback chair in a candlelit room. The light is dim, but the black band of fur on his face accents his sparkling eyes. It has been a long time since he has had a guest, and although he typically shuns visitors this one he welcomes. The spotted Quoll, named Fergal, listens carefully; a pen and paper in her paws are at the ready. She doesn’t want to miss a thing.
“Tell me, Waylond,” Fergal begins, “what is the status of your relationship with your brother. I believe his name is Kaylond. Is that correct?’
“Yes, that is correct,” Waylond replies. “Our relationship is strained at best.”
“Hmmm. Sunderland is abuzz with speculation about what it was that drove the two of you apart.”
“My brother and I did not see eye to eye. My father’s announcement that Guardianship of the Forest would be passed to me caused friction.”
“Yes, friction is saying the least!” Fergal clears her throat and stifles a giggle, which she is prone to. She rubs a paw along her snout, and does her best to strike a serious pose. “Well, he must have been pretty angry with you for burning down the family tree. It’s not easy to find homes like that these days.” She leans forward, anxiously waiting for his answer and searching his snout for any hint of emotion. There is none. “Why did you burn down the tree?”
“I was devastated,” Waylond said. “My father was dead and I was left to sort things out. I realize now that I wasn’t ready.” Waylond shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
“Yes, at the time I believed that I was not prepared—not worthy to take on the duties of Guardian. Sunderland and the surrounding lands are vast. It is a great responsibility.”
“I see,” Fergal said, tapping her pen on her pad of paper. “So you thought it best to wander into the Forest and leave the creatures of the Forest without a Guardian?” Fergal tightened her jaw. She felt that it would be necessary to be straightforward—ask the hard questions. She was a stickler for the facts and would print nothing less than the truth. The honest story is always the best story, she thought.
“I did what I had to do,” Waylond said.
Fergal thought she heard a hint of sadness in his voice.
“Yes, you did, and the rest of us went along for the ride. Didn’t we?” She persisted. “We all found out what we were made of, whether we liked it or not.” Fergal put her pen down and stared at the mighty Numbat. “We did our best, Waylond,” she said softly, a smile forming slowly on her face. “Didn’t we?” She examined the Numbat who had become more to her than just a friend. Maybe I won’t print this quite yet. . .
Waylond Ayers stood on the banks of the Gabbling. The water of the river rushed by forming eddies around smooth rocks. Acadia and Demelza, territories within the realm of Sunderland, teemed with life, but today the Forest was quiet. Warm breezes blew through the trees and ruffled Waylond’s fur. A green leaf drifted down before him and dropped into the river. The current pulled it under. It rose briefly to the surface, then disappeared from sight beneath the dark water.
Waylond scanned the woods on the far side of the Gabbling. Not another soul was in sight and he was grateful for the solitude. He had not been to this embankment since the tragedy. The memory of what had happened at this spot on the river was clear in his mind and it stung his heart like the poisonous bite of a brown snake. He bent a knee to the hard earth and thought about all that had passed between himself and his younger brother, Kaylond. Then, slipping his claw beneath the gold clasp that held his cape around his neck, he released it and the cloak fell to the ground.
A royal numbat, his family was composed of an ancestry of mighty marsupials, sworn to care and protect the weaker inhabitants of the countryside. They made sure the cycle of life and death continued as the Forest intended, and maintained peace and harmony among all creatures. As in times gone by, Guardianship was passed down. The voices of the Forest’s former Guardians spoke the name of the next in line. He was chosen and would need to take on the obligations expected of him.
But those heavy responsibilities could not hold him in the present. Dark memories clouded his thoughts and the mighty marsupial squeezed his eyes shut. The breeze skittered across the river bringing painful recollections with it. Rising from the chattering waters, his memories arrived on the whistling wind.
“Waylond!” The boy’s shrill voice called out as he ran along the dirt path toward the river. “I’ll beat you there!” Leaving their mother behind to set up a picnic lunch, they hurried on toward the Gabbling together. Waylond caught up to his younger brother and tackled him. They rolled together in the tall weeds, giggling, and nipping playfully at each other.
“Careful, boys,” their mother’s voice warned from within the trees. “Don’t get too close to the river. Stay near.” Rising to their feet, both boys ignored their mother’s warning and headed closer to the rushing water. They played on the edge of the river and wandered near to the Gabbling’s slippery banks.
It happened quickly. The slick riverbank seemed to reach out and take hold of Kaylond’s feet and he fell into the rushing water. Waylond thrust out a paw, but he could not reach his brother in time.
Waylond screamed for help and their mother sprinted to the spot. She raced down along the bank until she was close to her son. Jumping into the river, she clutched at Kaylond, gasping for air every time she came to the surface. Waylond watched helplessly as his mother shoved and pushed Kaylond toward the bank. Finally, she lifted Kaylond and dropped him in a heap onto a flat boulder. She tried to hold on to the slick surface, but she was exhausted. Her paw slid off the edge and the current embraced her, carrying her quickly away.
“Mother,” Waylond shouted from the shore. “Mother!” He ran along the river, keeping her in sight for as long as he could. He lifted his paw, asking the Forest for help, trying to use his immature sorcery, but he couldn’t. Nothing happened, just a swift wind whistled through the treetops in response to his call. Finally he stopped. He stood staring, his chest heaving. He no longer saw her head above the rolling water.
“Mother!” Waylond woke from his reverie. He was alone again on the bank of the river, staring out at the flat rock—the rock that saved his brother. The same rock his mother could not hold on to. Sadness gripped him and he scolded himself, as he had done so many times before, for not being able to save her.
Thanks for stopping by!
Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!