Today I hand over the proverbial keys to the site to Indie author Emily Ward, a fellow Guild of Dreams member who’s stopped by before. So without further ado…
The Protectors Blog Tour: Excerpt from Promising Light
* * *
Grace followed Thurma’s eyes to a spot on the ground. A bright green snake lay in front of her, the body curled up, but the head gazing at Thurma. Grace gasped and stepped backward. It was louder than she intended, and the snake sprang at Thurma. Grace was about to let out a scream when someone grabbed her from behind, clasping a hand over her mouth.
She fought against the arms frantically, but then they were suddenly changing. The skin bristled, the bones grew smaller, and the hand was now rope twisting itself around her, forcing itself into her mouth. The ropes caught her wrists and her ankles. Stumbling, she fell, and her chin barely missed the ground. She screamed as loudly as she could with the rope in her mouth, but someone grabbed her again. She thrashed against him, feeling miserably helpless. He picked her up and threw her over the back of a horse. She ended up on her stomach, her face toward the ground. The rider grabbed her dress and set off in a gallop.
The horse tore through the dense forest, leading them away from the prince and his carriages. Grace screamed as she jostled around on the horse, the rider’s hand holding onto her back. She struggled against him and the ropes, but she was too afraid of falling off the horse and being trampled. Where was he taking her? Had the snake bit Thurma?
Once she gave up screaming, she tasted blood in her mouth. She must have bit her tongue when she fell.
They rode on and on, the forest around them growing thicker and darker. The rich smell of the earth surrounded them. The horse kicked dirt into her face and eyes, and she tried to cover them as they kept going. Her head felt faint after a while, the blood rushing to her head, her back aching from the position she was in.
As soon as the horse slowed to a trot, Grace struggled against the rider. She couldn’t let him take her. She tried to elbow him in the legs and kicked at the ropes on her ankles.
“Stop struggling!” he shouted, shaking her by the shoulders.
Just as she began to understand her struggling wasn’t going to do anything, the man stopped the horse and stepped off. Her body started to slip, and he grabbed her by the waist and lifted her off the horse. She tried to step away from him, forgetting her ankles were tied, and he caught her before she fell over.
Grace only got a glimpse of the unsaddled horse before he began to change. His back legs grew while his front legs shrunk, his nose recoiled, his torso twisted in shape, and then a man stood in front of them. Grace stared at him, her eyes wide. Her knees suddenly felt weak. It couldn’t be… it couldn’t. How… but he’d just been a horse. He’d changed forms in front of her very eyes.
Everything she’d heard about shape changers over the past week ran through her mind. She hadn’t truly thought it was real, but now that she’d seen it, she couldn’t deny it.
“I’m going to untie the rope around your ankles,” he told her. He was a tall, muscular man with dark hair and eyes. Like Dar. The rider kept his hands firm on her shoulders. “But you must promise not to run.”
Grace couldn’t respond. He crouched down, and she winced as he untied the ropes around her ankles. The rope was entwined all around her, tying her wrists, twisting around her torso and cutting off her voice. That had been a person, she knew it, the person who’d grabbed her when the snake jumped at Thurma.
Grace held out her wrists to the man. He shook his head. “No. We’re almost there.”
He began to lead them forward, but she broke away from the rider’s hands. She started to run, and the rope moved, changing from the rough, bristled twine to a full-grown man. He tackled her down to the ground, knocking the breath out of her. He pulled her hands behind her back, and she kicked as hard as she could.
“Stop moving!” he yelled.
“Caleb, be careful with her!” the horse-man said loudly. “Lady Grace, we’re not going to hurt you. We need to take you to our camp leader.”
“Take me back to the prince!” Grace demanded, her voice rough.
“I know you don’t understand—” the horse-man began.
“You want money, I know, but if you don’t let me go, they’ll kill you!”
“We don’t want money,” the horse-man said. “Caleb, get her up. We need to get under the enchantment before they realize she’s missing.”
Caleb, the man who’d been rope, pulled Grace to her feet. She spit a mouthful of blood in his face. He cried out, pushing her toward the rider. Caleb wiped blood off his face as the rider seized her shoulders. Caleb grabbed her wrists and tied them again, glaring at her.
“You could have used that rope in the first place,” Grace grumbled.
The horse-man motioned forward. “Come on, Lady Grace, we’ll explain everything once we reach the camp.”
Grace followed him, Caleb’s hand on her shoulder. As they walked through the thick forest, her dress snagged on branches and bushes. Although it was a traveling dress, it was still elegant, too much fabric for a walk in the deep forest.
They approached a small clearing, the trees spaced farther apart, the leaves on the ground matted down. The rider said something in a language Grace didn’t understand, and then sounds echoed through the clearing. Footsteps, people calling to one another, horses whinnying. Slowly, a scene materialized in front of her. In the clearing once empty, things came into a hazy view. Tents, horses, fires, and people. People standing up, calling to each other, coming toward them. They had simple clothes on, brown or white, and almost all of them had dark features. Black hair, olive-colored skin, dark eyes.
Caleb pushed her forward, and the rider chanted in the language again. Grace stared at the people with the same fear and awe they had on their faces. They’d appeared out of nowhere. Invisible one second, there the next. Her heart pounded in her ears, and her breath came out in pants.
The horse-man walked through the middle of the clearing, and Caleb pushed Grace to follow him. They approached a tent at the opposite end of the camp. It was set up like a small house, only a couple inches taller than the horse-man. He called, “Adrian. We’ve brought Lady Grace.”
A moment later, the flap opened. A man with a goatee stepped out. His wide eyes fell on Grace, and he smiled. He bowed and said, “Lady Grace.” When he straightened, his eyes ran over her, and his smile faded. “Vin, why is she bleeding?”
The horse-man—Vin—cleared his throat. “She probably bit her lip when she fell down.”
“She looks terrified,” Adrian said.
“I want to go back to the prince,” Grace said. Her voice came out smaller than she’d intended, and she gritted her teeth.
Adrian gave her a small, pitying smile. A woman came out of the tent, pushing past Adrian to look at Grace. She had hair that reached her waist and a mole above her lip. “Is this her?” she asked, her voice quiet.
“This is Lady Grace,” Adrian said. “Lady Grace, this is Myra.”
Grace stared at him. They’d just forcefully kidnapped her, and now he acted as though she was an honored guest.
* * *
Dun, dun, dun! If you want to read more, be sure to check out the book at Amazon or any other ebook retailer.
I’m having a lot of fun on this blog tour! Today, I also posted Promising Hope‘s book soundtrack at Ron C. Nieto’s blog. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting another excerpt, this time from Promising Hope, the sequel to Promising Light. Come visit us!
If you’d like a chance to win the books, enter the giveaway here! Here’s what’s up for grabs:
(1) $15 Amazon Gift Card
(5) Protectors Ebook Packages (Shifting Light, Fire and Light, The End of Light, Promising Light, and Promising Hope)
(1) Protectors Paperback Package (Promising Light and Promising Hope)
Also, you can comment on these posts and other stops on the tour or follow blogs participating in the tour to gain more entries! Hope to see you around
Emily Ann Ward is the author of Passages, Beyond Home, Finding Fiona, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on God and the Bible. Aside from writing, she’s also a content editor for Entranced Publishing. She loves reading, traveling, sociology, religion, and Reese’s sticks. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their crazy cats. Visit her website at emilyannward.com.