Stormstruck Snippet…

Trying to re-start this blog again.  Sharing a quick snippet from a fantasy novel I’m working on when not working on another project I have percolating.  This one is called Stormstruck.

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Sacrifice or suicide? Kaitiana Harobed mused as she forced one trembling leg in front of the other, fighting to remain standing as one of the furious autumn storms that gave her nation its name pummeled her relentlessly. Which will the bards attach to this night’s work when they sing of my death? At this point, she wasn’t even sure she cared.

One thing was for sure, though: sing of this night they would. Kaitiana, last directly-descended Queen of Valdaren, had just become the first to openly defy the ruthless Empire which had enslaved her nation centuries ago. Her desperate attempt to convince the realm’s Triple Goddesses to deliver their people at last would be a song to echo through the ages. A pity it was doomed to failure.

Once, before the Empire crushed Valdaren beneath countless steel-tipped boots, dozens of hopeful women braved the torrential rain, gale-force wind, and deadly lightning each year in the hopes of being chosen by the Raven Goddesses to wield untold power. But that had been back when nine out of ten women—provided their intentions were pure and their bravery absolute—actually survived Valdaren’s annual Stormfuror, whether they were chosen to serve or not. In the centuries since Valdaren’s enslavement, that number had plummeted to precisely none.

Kaitiana tightened her lips as a burst of wind buffeted her with twice as much fury as the last, refusing to bend knee to the mindless element any more than she ever had for the monster who called himself Emperor. He may have ruled her realm in all but name; he may have married first one, and then the other of her older sisters before orchestrating their “accidental” deaths when each failed to produce the triplet birth that came to every generation of Valdaren’s royal family; he may have been holding each sister’s young son hostage to ensure her good behavior until he could force one more royal wedding in anticipation of the inevitable magical birth; but he had never been able to crush her spirit enough to make her bow to him. The grief and rage that had been burgeoning in her heart from childhood had culminated in a flash fire after her sister’s deaths once she became convinced he had been responsible for them both. Now, she would be damned to all the hells before she would ever show him the slightest sign of obeisance, and those inconsolable emotions had pushed her to brave this year’s Stormfuror despite the fact that doing so had been outlawed by Imperial decree for hundreds of years. Perhaps because of that fact.

So yes, perhaps this was an act of both sacrifice and suicide. The chances that she would survive this night were as slim as the Queenly chain of purest silver that held back tangled golden curls from her rain-and-tear-soaked face. Perhaps better than her odds of survival had she birthed the Emperor’s triplet daughters and he had named the eldest heir to the Raven Throne—but only slightly. At least this way, she would both thwart the will of her sisters’ murderer and take back some small measure of control over her own fate. And perhaps her willing sacrifice would be the blood price needed to end the centuries of punishment the Triple Goddesses had heaped upon their people for some long-ago slight that no one, not even the most learned of bards, could now remember.

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