November 2015 Newsletter Excerpt
FEEL THE BURN
Coming November 24, 2015
“Aren’t you freezing?”
Annwyl glanced back at Morfyd, standing on the lake edge, her human form wrapped from head to toe in a white fur. Her human body always had a hard time adjusting to cold weather, even though spring was coming and the ice on the lake had already melted.
But Annwyl was trying something new. She needed a bolt of fresh ideas. She thought sitting naked in this cold water would help her. That’s what Elina said the Riders believed.
She was beginning to think the Riders were very, very wrong.
“I’m fine,” Annwyl lied, wondering how much longer she should keep up this charade.
Think of something new? She could barely think about anything but stopping her teeth from chattering together until they broke into little pieces.
“Annwyl, get your big ass out of that water this instant!” Talaith ordered. The fur around her shoulders was brown to match her fur boots and thick leggings.
“No! This instant!”
With a sigh that was meant to sound put-upon but really was deep gratitude, she stood. She wanted to run back to shore, but she was going to walk. Like a proper royal who put herself in freezing water like an idiot. Especially with Dagmar also standing there watching. While the other two were bundled up, Dagmar didn’t have a fur on. “You call this cold?” the Northlander had asked. “Seriously?”
Dagmar watched her with a smirk. She knew how miserable Annwyl was but she was doing this thing lately. This thing where she just let Annwyl do whatever she wanted and then, when it blew up in her face, Dagmar smirked and without saying a word, clearly stated with the expression on her face, Told you so, my queen.
Annwyl was near the shore when she heard a voice call out, “You are Annwyl the Bloody?”
She looked over and blinked in surprise before glancing back at Dagmar. “Thought you said the giants lived beyond the Ice Lands and wouldn’t help us.”
Dagmar let out a small, annoyed sigh. “She’s not a giant.”
Annwyl looked over again, took a moment to study the woman, then asked Dagmar, “Are you sure?”
“She’s not a giant!” the Northlander snapped. She’d been getting real snappy lately, too.
“Look,” one of the women with the giant pointed out, “she wears the mark of the beast on her arms and between her thighs.”
Confused, Annwyl looked down at her thighs. She’d had Fearghus’s brands there for so long, she’d forgotten about them. They were just part of her now. Like her limbs. Like Fearghus. Not that he ever let her forget his presence. Ever.
“She’s definitely the one.”
“Oh, all right,” the giant said, appearing disappointed, but Annwyl had no idea why. She hadn’t done anything yet. She usually only disappointed people after she’d done something.
“Is there something you want?” Annwyl asked.
“Yes.” The woman nodded, her grin wide. “The boy.”
“The boy they say belongs to you.”
Annwyl sighed. “There are no slaves in the Southlands.”
“No, no. Not a slave. Your son. I want your son. I will give you…six oxen for him. Good stock. My tribe breeds the best oxen in all the Outerplains.”
“My…” Annwyl cleared her throat. “My…son? Talan? You’ve seen him?”
“He is here! With his sister and cousin,” the giant said with an alarming amount of cheer. “Sent back with us Daughters of the Steppes by the old She-beast Brigida through some magickal portal.”
“The children are here?” Talaith asked. And, without waiting for an answer, she started to run off, toward the house, but Morfyd grabbed her arm and pulled her back, holding her in place.
“Yes, they are here. And you can keep the girl. I have no sons for her. They are already promised to others. But once I am done with your son, teach him all he needs to know—in bed and out”—she and the other Riders laughed at that—“I will make sure to marry him to one of my strongest daughters or nieces. He will be well taken care of. Especially if he is good breeder.”
Annwyl still stood in the freezing water, but she could no longer feel it. She was naked and it was frighteningly cold, but she couldn’t feel that either. She knew that Morfyd had rushed into the water, her hands on Annwyl’s shoulders, her beautiful face with the scar down one side permanently marking her as a witch now loomed in front of her, but Annwyl couldn’t see her.
No. She couldn’t see anything around her—except that dark red haze…