My first book. The one where my muse woke up and demanded attention. And I listened.
“Daughter of Hauk” will forever hold a special place in my heart. If not for this story, I wouldn’t live the life I do now.
“Arwenna, honey, wake up.” There was urgency in her mother’s voice. Sleepily, she sat up and rubbed her eyes. It was still dark, her mother’s face barely recognizable. “Honey, we have to leave right now. Hurry and get some shoes on.” Lyssa stood as if ready to run at any moment.
Arwenna slowly got out of bed and put her shoes on. Before she had time to grab a cloak, the house lit up with a reddish glow. Looking out her window, she saw the house next door explode into flames. The roar of the explosion made her cover her ears.
Lyssa grabbed her hand and began to run out of the room as more explosions went off.
Outside there was confusion and panic. The air was thick with smoke and screams. Arwenna shrank in horror as she saw creatures beyond comprehension attacking all around her. Her mother pulled her along the back side of a barn, trying to shield her. Arwenna bumped into something and looked up, screaming.
It was tall, at least as tall as a grown man. The legs were more like an animal’s, with hooves and knees that bent the wrong way. The skin was grey, as if death itself had touched it. A massive chest and pair of arms that looked like they could tear a person in two made her eyes go even wider. The face was nothing but a contorted snarl of hatred, with tusklike teeth. Red eyes looked down at her.
Lyssa turned swiftly and shoved Arwenna behind her. She was holding a short sword in the manner of one well versed in self-defense. “Run, Arwenna!” She glanced back for a moment at her daughter. “Run! Now!” Arwenna stumbled, then obeyed the command of her mother and began to run blindly.
She did what she could to dodge arrows streaming her way, as well as the bodies of the fallen. She stopped behind a wagon and looked back to see if her mother was following. Her eyes widened in terror.
The creature had Lyssa in his grip. Her feet dangled off the ground as he pulled her up to face him. It ignored the sword buried within its shoulder. With a roar, he broke her in half and tossed the pieces aside like kindling. Arwenna screamed, but the creature did not hear her.
More villagers were being slaughtered; others were being corralled into the center of the village. Most of them were her playmates. A lone horseman approached them. The visor of his helmet was down, but she could see wisps of smoke coming out from the bottom.
“Is this all of them?” a voice demanded of one of the creatures. The voice was inhuman and grated down Arwenna’s spine like a hot knife.
“All we can find, Lord Corse.” The beast sounded worried that his report would be found lacking.
The creature on the horse looked at the group of children, searching. He dismounted and started to examine the faces of the children. With some, he pulled aside the neck of the tunic as if searching for some kind of mark. He finished his examination and mounted his horse again.
“The child is not here. Kill these, and keep searching.” He turned his mount and walked away, oblivious to the screams of the dying villagers.
Arwenna turned away, unable to watch the slaughter of her friends. After a moment or two, she scrambled towards the fields in front of her. The corn was tall; it should hide her at least for a while. She ran blindly, tears streaming down her face. It seemed like an eternity before she reached the main road on the far side. She collapsed in exhaustion and grief behind a group of boulders.