The prologue from my forthcoming novel “The Cliffs of Connemaigh”, the second book in “The Chronicles of the Starborn”. Enjoy!
(Photo can be found here)
A Harrowing Retreat
The disheveled man kept running. That was all he had done for the past several days now. Days? Weeks? He didn’t know by this point. He lost his horse just nights before now, and fear consumed his life every night since. Looking down, he kept his feet moving, one foot in front of the other. Dried blood was sprayed upon his dirt-marred jeans. Thus far, the banshee had failed to rip out his guts at every turn. Banshee. The word came to him from nowhere. He knew the name, but did not know how or where from.
I wish I still had the horse. It was the third night out, from what he could remember, that the banshee in their white gowns had ripped the animal apart. He could still hear the screams of the horse in his mind and see the horse’s blood upon the pristine white dresses. There was something about those white dresses that tickled the back of his mind. Looking up to the sky, his lips pulled down at the sight of the heavy dark gray clouds rolling in that threatened to let loose the deluge of water that filled them. If there’s a God above, don’t rain. I need the fire to keep them at bay. East. Due east. I need to get there. I can’t stop. If I stop, I die. Looking down, he could see his fingers twitching. His neck was sore and his heart raced. I must get there! Where is there? I don’t know. Just get there. He wanted to do nothing more than stop and cry right then, but he knew that the banshee would come if he did… If they come, I’m as good as dead.
Running as fast as he could, he watched his feet as they raced each other. Branches creaked and cracked under his feet, giving away his position. He looked up and in front of him to see what was coming up. A fallen tree and then an open field appeared ahead of him. Yes! A clearing! Now if I can keep a fire going. And stay close enough to it. He jumped over the tree and broke out into the clearing. A good place to stop for the moment at least. Rest up some. Yeah, I need to do that. Or a tree. I could sleep in a tree again. As much as those bitches will let me anyway. He had slept in a tree the night before. Or as much as he could sleep at any rate. The creatures had spent the entire night at the base of the tree. Even with those talons, they couldn’t make it up. By some miracle, he hadn’t fallen out of the tree either. The idea of sleeping in a tree tickled his memory as well. It was as though he had heard someone talking about it before. Frowning, he looked around the clearing. No, I need to keep going. Another tree would be better. He ran to the east again, towards the tree line, and into the trees. The scent of rotting leaves greeted his nostrils. Much better than entrails. He would need to find a tree with great haste.
As the sky grew darker, not just from the failing daylight, but also from the clouds, a muffled cry came from the north. He looked to glimpse the shape of a woman with dark hair and the white dress. Run faster. He dared not look at the woman for too long. He had discovered if he did, the banshee would look at him with those black, pitiless eyes. Don’t look! Coming to a tree that looked like it could bear his weight, he scrambled up it. A screech from the banshee came just after. Close! Too close! Looking around, he saw more of them. Safe for the moment. Safer than the ground. As they began their screeching again he knew that the banshee were not going to let him get much sleep tonight. He knew he had heard that screech even before he had lost the horse. He would need to remain vigilant this night, but as he looked around he noticed something else: the vegetation was changing. So many more pines, firs, spruces… A slow smile crept across his face as he looked at it. That is a good thing.