Here is a short excerpt from THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. Enjoy!
812 AD, Scandinavia
“Astrid, you must wake.”
The young woman ignored the softly spoken command and rolled to her side, the crackle of the dry hay beneath her louder than her sister’s hushed voice.
“Now, you lazy cow!” Astrid’s sister spit, shoving her with both hands.
“What is it, Yrsa?” Astrid peeked with one eye out of the wolf furs she was wrapped snugly in.
“We’re being attacked!”
Astrid’s ears were suddenly overwhelmed with noise, a rush of sound that moved like the cold water that swelled the rivers that flanked the city of Birka. Dire combat could be heard from all sides of the small, stone home. The clang of swords and axes vibrated across her skin, while the screams of her kinsmen echoed, making her stomach feel hollow.
Astrid tore the wolf furs from her tall, naked body. She jumped to her feet, but panic gripped her when she gazed down at the empty beds of her sibling’s two children.
“Where are the others, Yrsa, the young ones?” Astrid’s mouth grew drier with each syllable.
Yrsa, her only sister, cracked the door just enough to peer out. A gust of wind blew in, scattering Yrsa’s straggly, blonde hair across her face. The smell of burnt wood laid atop the cool damp air, so strong both women could taste it.
“Father ordered us all to the fortress. We must go now.” Yrsa gazed back at the empty beds. “Gyrd took the little ones and left me to rouse you, the hibernating bear.”
Astrid moved once she heard that her niece and nephew were safe in the hands of Yrsa’s husband, a seaside guard. A trained soldier herself, she dashed to her armor where it hung on its old, wooden stand.
“Your husband moves too slow,” Astrid said, repeating a statement she had made many times in the past. “He’ll need my help.”
“Bite your tongue! There’s no time for your ego.”
Astrid found her arm suddenly restrained by her sister’s trembling fingers.
“We must go now, Sister.” Yrsa’s words were punctuated by the sound of something slamming against the roof.
Astrid pounded her chest above the hang of her full breasts, her long blade and wooden shield, both beloved heirlooms, held tight in her hands. “Then I will fight naked like my ancestors’ ancestors,” she boasted proudly. “Father’s blood in my veins, Thor’s strength in my limbs, and Odin’s blessing on my soul are all I need.”
“Here.” Yrsa handed Astrid a long cloak. “Gyrd will be glad to see you draped in his favorite bearskin, instead of unclad for all the children to gawk at.”
Although she suspected it would hamper her ability to fight, Astrid donned the heavy fur.
Astrid gave her sister a nod, and Yrsa swung the heavy wooden door open.
“Death to the enemies of Birka!” Astrid let loose as she launched herself out into the town over a pair of dead bodies like a deer vaulting over a felled tree. As loud as her scream was, it was overwhelmed by the hiss and crackle of flames. Birka, her home, the city she loved, burned all around her. “Astrid, to the fortress!” Yrsa tried her best to scream over the sounds of battle.
“I will be right behind you, Yrsa.”
Intrigued? Well, this is only two pages of nearly four hundred! Lots more action and adventure and mystery await! :)
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Write Makes Might!
Kevin James Breaux