Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sneak Peaks: The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales!

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Hey there, readers!  I'm here today with an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales.  
The end of the publishing process is in sight- but there is still a ways to go.   A few illustrations have yet to be finished, as well as the cover.   No release date as of yet, but that's coming soon.  
In the mean time, enjoy this sneak peak!

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THICK CLOUDS covered the moon, and a chilling mist drifted across the land, making Gretta shiver as she trekked down the road to her home. Pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders, she shook her head and quickened her pace. If she kept herself at a brisk walk, she could keep herself warm and make it home in a little more than an hour. Determined not to be put off by the surrounding darkness, Gretta straightened her shoulders and began humming a tune.
Presently, the sound of a horse's hooves reached her ears. A rider approached swiftly from behind. Curious, she turned and raised the lantern, straining to see the stranger.
Soon, the rider came into view. He had his hat pulled low over his face, so that she could not make out any of his features. His cloak flapped in the wind, and as he drew close to her, he leaned over, stretching his hand out in her direction.
Gretta became suddenly alarmed, and turned and began running. The horse slowed slightly, and a gloved hand grasped her shoulder roughly. Gretta screamed and struggled, kicking her feet out and wrenching her body away. Her lantern went out and clattered to the ground, rolling away down the ditch.
In a moment, Gretta felt her basket torn from her hands, and skein of cloth was lifted from her shoulders. The next thing she knew she was thrown to the ground. Her chin slammed into the dirt, causing her to curl in pain. Having achieved what he wanted, the rider spurred his horse and disappeared into the darkness.
Gretta remained, hunched on the ground, trembling from head to toe. Her breath came in short gasps, for a few moments she couldn't move.
Gradually, her body calmed, and she was able to breath easier again. It was then that she realized her terrible predicament. She was alone on a moonless night, surrounded by thick fog, and without a lantern. Carefully, she rose, remaining close to the ground, and crawled about, searching for the lantern. After what seemed like an hour, she had found nothing, and her knees were bruised from kneeling.
Pulling herself to her feet, she took a cautious step forward. As near as she could tell, she was still on the road, but there was no knowing for sure. She was wandering completely blind.

For what seemed like hours, Gretta inched her way forward, hands in front of her face. All around her the mist swirled, though her eyes could not see it. As time crawled by, she found herself growing more and more jittery, her nerves becoming more frayed. Every noise startled her, and her skin crawled, as though someone were creeping up behind her. At any moment, she expected to be assailed by – but she didn't know what. She only knew that she wanted to get out of this accursed darkness as soon as possible.
A faint sound echoed toward her from somewhere out in the endless blackness. Gretta froze, listening carefully. Soon enough, it sounded again; a long, spectral wail that sent chills up her spine. Reaching her hands out in front of her, her fingers came to rest on a jagged rocky surface.
The Madman... she thought, recognizing the tortured voice. I'm in Elkriahl!
Feeling the panic rise with in her, Gretta attempted to calm herself. Slowly, she walked forward, clutching at the rock formation at her side. It was not only the Madman that frightened her, but Elkriahl itself. It was a perilous landscape, riddled with sharp stones, large boulders, rocky spires, and deep crevices that dropped so low that no one had yet found the bottom. The northern and western edges of Elkriahl were bordered by sheer cliffs that dropped straight down to the sea. Many a soul had fallen from those heights, and the legends said that their spirits still lingered near the rocks at the bottom.
Blindly Gretta stumbled through the narrow passages, desperately trying to find her way out. All the while, her nerves grew steadily more frantic, and the howling laughter of the Madman echoed off of the rocks, making it impossible to determine the direction they were coming from.
Suddenly, her foot turned, and her ankle bent painfully. With a cry, she fell sideways, and found herself tumbling down a steep incline, scraping across the pebbles painfully. Shrieking, she clawed at the ground, attempting to stop her fall, but it was useless. Bouncing about as she rolled, she struck her head one rock after another. Suddenly, she felt the ground beneath her simply drop away, and in a desperate move she grabbed at a rock, stopping her descent just in time. She was dangling from the chest over an abyss.
Her fingers were wet with blood, and slowly she felt her grip slipping. Throwing her other arm up, she clutched at the rock, which thankfully stayed rooted in the ground. Even still, her strength was waning and she knew that she could not hold on for much longer.
“Help! Help me, please!” she called, knowing no one would hear her. She strained her arms as she tried to lift herself from the crevice, and her feet scraped against the rocky wall.
Just then, two hands took hold of her wrists, catching her just as she lost her grip. She gasped as she felt herself dragged upward. Against all odds, someone had come to her aid. With relief she tightened her grip on her rescuer's hands, and when she had risen high enough, she moved her knee back onto solid ground and crawled forward. She felt herself gathered into her rescuer's arms and pulled away from the edge of the crevice.
Gretta lay there, trembling, too frightened to speak, to shaken to move. With a struggle, she lifted her head just enough to see if she could catch a glimpse of her savior. As she raised her eyes, the clouds parted for just a moment, allowing the moonlight to shine down and illuminate the night. And, in that moment, she recognized the features of the Madman. He was looming over her and staring with wide eyes, his lips parted. Gretta's eyelids fluttered, and her vision grew dark. She felt herself fading away... her world melted into blackness, and she knew no more.

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Let me know what you think in the comments below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

-Emmaray Redding

(Copyright 2016:  All text and images within this post are the property of Emmarayn Redding and Family, and may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.
Moonlight Sky photo was taken by Amy and Bree Redding.)