FREE SAMPLES OF NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES
Free excerpts of fantasy books by Duncan Harper. Full versions of these novels and short stories can be found as ebooks on Amazon.com and other Amazon country stores.
WITCH OF THE FALL
Forests of Exile book I
Excerpt I: Malvern Keep
“"Just don’t tell her about what I did to you at the gatehouse,” Faye said, as they approached the main entrance, “or she will kill me.”
“I still don’t know what you did to me,” Colm said. “Perhaps that smile of yours is as powerful as you make out.”
“You won’t see me smile again,” she said.
And then the Lady Malvern came out to meet them.
She was as tall and regal as Faye had remembered, as tall as Colm, and of course both towered over her. Faye felt even more diminished and lost than the last time she had been here. Now she was an orphan with no home to go to. She was an exile even from her exile.
Lady Malvern took one look at Faye and then went straight to Colm. She put her hands on either side of his head and looked into his eyes.
“Leave this young lady with me,” she said in a quiet voice, but Faye could sense the power emanating from her and directed towards her son. “Don’t think about her anymore. I will care for her. You have done your duty. Your role is at an end.”
“My role is at an end,” he said.
Then she took her hands away and smiled graciously at him. “Perhaps you will join your father and brother; they are having dinner as we speak,” she said.
As Colm walked away to stable the horses, the Lady went to Faye. Her expression was not kind. She put her arm around Faye’s shoulder and walked her quickly inside. They went along corridors and up and down stairs until they were in Lady Malvern’s private quarters. There, in the antechamber, the Lady closed the door and rounded on Faye.
“Why did you involve my son? What were you doing with him?”
Faye held herself as tall as she could. Even in her grief, she would not be yelled at.
“Your son invited me here.”
“Really? Of his own volition? You did not make him do so?”
“It was his suggestion. He was not under my glamour.”
“I hardly think it was an accident that you met. Through him you thought to seek help again from me.”
“No. You are mistaken. We met when entering the city gates this morning. I did not know he was your son. Not at first. Just a Poor Knight.”
“So you befriended him in order not to enter the city on your own?”
“Yes. But I did not know who he was.”
The Lady paced the room. She was still angry.
“You should not have come back. Did I not risk my life, and the lives of my family, to get you away from here?”
“You didn’t tell me what place you were sending me to. I could not spend the rest of my life with dusty books and cobwebs and women old before their time.”
“One day the Sanctuary will rise,” the Lady said.
“No it will not. You don’t know what it is like there. They have no intention of ever coming down from there into the real world. Their fear of the Patriarchs is too great.”
“So you escaped?”
“Yes,” Faye said. “I was ten years there. It was a prison, not a sanctuary. And I wanted to see my family.”
At this, Faye’s voice quavered. The Lady stared at her. Realisation dawned, and her ire waned a little.
“You went into the city?”
“You found out what happened?”
The Lady came forward and held out her hands.
“I’m sorry,” she said. "