Category Archives: An excerpt from The Thinara King
From Chapter Seven:
Snow fell in a blinding squall, carried first one direction then another by mercurial winds. Bitter cold stung Aridela’s face and almost immediately penetrated her jerkin.
Slinging a bow and quiver of arrows over one shoulder, she scraped snow from the trunk of a cypress, clearing a bare strip all the way around. Barbs of gale-driven ice lashed her eyes and cheeks as she found what she was looking for, evidence of frozen lichen on what should be the north side. She staggered into the blizzard, hoping she’d successfully determined east, and Knossos.
I do your bidding, Athene. I follow your will. Please, please—
The plea died before it formed. Menoetius would never forgive what she had said. There was no use asking.
Snow fell like a cold white ocean from a darkly overcast sky. All sound was muffled. There was no way to be certain she’d chosen the right direction. If only the sun would come out, even for a moment.
Menoetius’s warning returned. What if this reckless escape sent her straight to enemy search parties?
Surely they wouldn’t be looking for her in such a storm.
Don’t you trust me? She fancied a thrum of laughter under Chrysaleon’s words. Don’t you know I will protect you?
She closed her eyes. Show me the way, my love.
But there was only the swish of snow eddying in the wind. Only Menoetius’s face when she called him ugly.
Then she heard it. The crunch of deliberate steps. She opened her eyes and stared into the face of a large wild goat, its long, arched horns almost invisible under a coating of snow. It stood the length of a half-grown fir tree from her, staring back, perhaps trying to understand the sight of a motionless human transforming into a snow-drenched pillar.
Its meat would provide food for a month. But something stopped her even as her half-frozen fingers felt for the bow. Athene. Lady of the wild things.
Losing interest, the ibex turned and lumbered away. Aridela followed, trying to keep a discreet distance.
It came to a steep hill, dotted with mounds of stunted juniper bushes and a few twisted pine trees. The beast climbed effortlessly, crossing beneath a curious rock formation that rose high and curved into an arch, like a doorway. Aridela craned her neck to see the rough crown, half hidden in storm fog. Forced to use her hands as well as her feet, she scrambled then slipped backward, unable to secure footing in the slick snow. Within seconds the animal had disappeared. “Wait,” she cried. “I can’t walk as fast as you,” but wind and a wall of snow stuffed her words back into her throat.
Eventually, she reached the summit. Snow was falling so copiously by now that she couldn’t see past the length of her arm. She stumbled along the ridge, calling, “I’m here. Where are you? Come back.”
Iphiboë materialized before her, arms extended. “Aridela!”
Shock drew Aridela up short. She tried to blink the snow from her lashes, fighting hope and disbelief. “Iphiboë?”
Before she could begin to accept this miracle, the image disintegrated into the dark, solid form of Menoetius. Snow caked his hair and beard. He squinted. His mouth lay tense and severe.
“What are you doing?” Without waiting for an answer, he picked her up like a twig and flung her over one shoulder. “Two more steps and you would have been over the edge. How much would that help your people, you lying dead at the bottom of this gorge?”
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