From The Narrator, Chapter 9

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As soon as they entered the woods, the bright summer afternoon went out like a snuffed candle. The pleasant heat was replaced with a cool, damp breeze that surrounded them like a whisper. The trees pressed in on them, their trunks forcing the riders to shrink into their saddles. Low-hanging branches blocked the path, while tangled roots threatened to trip the horses.

But worse than all of that was the oppressive sense of someone watching them. Or rather, something, as if the trees watched their progress with disapproving stares. Calder wanted to confess everything he’d ever done in a vain attempt to make the judgement stop, or to curl up into a ball and close his eyes and wish all of it away.

Instead, he lifted the next branch out of his way and continued on.

After an hour of fighting the forest, Saydie grumbled, “I’m starting to think we’re not welcome.”


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

From The Narrator, Chapter 6

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The guards marched them down tapestried halls and stone passageways. Nobles and servants alike calmly stepped aside as the column passed. None of them looked twice at the prisoners.

The passage’s right-hand wall opened up into intricate archways. The elegant walkway looked out on a wide, lazulite river that rushed past two hundred feet below them. A few more sights like this, and Saydie might appreciate why Endar chose to live in an otherwise dreary castle.

A small fleet of ships flickered on the water. They hadn’t been there before, had they?

Then she heard a faint pop.

“Get down!” she bellowed. She rammed the soldiers in front of her. They stumbled into Calder. He hit the stone with a slap as a boulder smashed through the archway. Stone rained down on them. A sharp pain cut through her arm, but at least she had her head.

She scrambled to her feet and danced through the spattering of debris and groaning guards. One had taken a stone wedge to the thigh.

And another boulder was coming.

Based on the siege she’d worked for Pennington two novels ago, they only had thirty seconds until the reload. Less if other ships were aimed at them, too.

She found Calder, pulled him to his feet, and dragged him along. They had to get out of the open air. Fast.

“Let’s go!” she cried, hauling on his arm.

“Those were Delmaran flags,” he said, as if that mattered.

“That’s nice. We’re still going.”

A second boulder plowed into the cliffside. They staggered as the ground jumped beneath their feet.

Okay. Other ships were aiming at them.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.