Here’s part of chapter 6 of THE WAY INTO CHAOS, on sale now.
Just in case you missed them: Chapter 1
Cazia couldn’t help it; the idea of learning to fly a cart thrilled her.
Then she saw Lar scrabble across the gray tiles and she flushed with shame. He slipped and fell to one knee but quickly regained his footing, heading toward the chimneys at the front of the building. His red coat looked almost comical, and she wished he’d chosen something that would not stand out like a rose in the grass. Col followed close behind; Timush must have been still climbing on the rope.
She couldn’t look away from them. Yes, she’d just been promised a lesson in flying–flying–but the one person she loved most in the world, her own brother, had just rushed onto a battlefield—and he’d brought his two best friends. A strange feeling she couldn’t identify filled her like wind blowing into a tent. She felt hollow and fragile, as though the next misfortune would make her pop like a bit of froth, destroying her completely.
This is the feeling that comes just before grief. You are about to see your brother murdered in front of you because he is trying to be a hero which is your fault because this was your idea. This is how you feel just before grief overwhelms you and makes you wish you could die with him.
The screams from below became more intense, distracting her. The creatures tore through the crowd, knocking people about like brooms. Each victim received a terrible bite wound, some instantly fatal but not all, as the monsters battered their way through the mob. Men, women, and children fell before them. One of the city guard pushed against the surging mob in an effort to shut the Little Gate, but there was no hope of that.
Lar scrambled toward the chimneys at the front of the house. As he moved, he started to strip off that long, gaudy coat, but it tangled on the strap of his quiver.
“Here!” Col yelled. He slid out of his gray-and-red jacket, then tossed it to the prince. Lar held it by the collar and let the hem hang over the far edge of the roof where Cazia could not see. A moment later, the two of them heaved it back up but, only now it had a girl clinging to it.
It was the Indregai princess: pale, tiny, and severe in her white house robe. Cazia knew she was a few years older than Jagia, but she looked shockingly young. The princess scrambled handily onto the peak of the roof, then began chattering at the prince, pointing back the way she’d come.
Lar did not seem not interested in taking orders. He scrambled to his feet, pulling Colchua upright with him. Timush shouted at them, waving them back toward the dangling tether, and Cazia hissed at the noise he was making. Lar practically shoved the princess toward the cart, and a renewed chorus of screams from below made her do as she was told.
An iron dart cracked the tile roof near the chimney. The sound startled Cazia, but she drew a spike from her jacket pocket without thinking about it and began to cast.
One of the creatures had dragged itself over the edge of the roof. The clerk had cast at it, missing, but Doctor Warpoole had begun a spell of her own.
“Great Way,” Treygar prayed, his voice tight, “protect the prince. Keep him on your path.”
Doctor Warpoole’s dart flew with surprising speed, but it struck the creature low on the back, practically on its hip. Cazia did her best to lead with her own spell, just the way she had to lead the hoops during Doctor Twofin’s lessons. She struck the beast on its high back below the neck. It sprawled on the tiles and tumbled down the steep roof slope.
Cazia started another spell right away. A second creature appeared at the top of the southernmost chimney. The clerk fired another dart, striking the brick just below the creature’s furred hind hand. At least she was getting closer.
Cazia wasn’t going to finish her spell in time, and Doctor Warpoole hadn’t even started a new one yet. Lar had a quiver of his own, of course, but his back was turned. Cazia kept her hands moving, her mind falling into the necessary state, despite the fact that she knew it was futile. The only way she could avoid this awful grief would be if the creature hesitated.
It didn’t. It leaped from the chimney at the prince. Cazia could feel tragedy flying at her like a volley of arrows.
Oh, no! not a cliffhanger!
Yep. That’s the last of this particular story I’ll be releasing free on the blog. If you want to know what’s going to happen next, be sure to order a copy.