Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fae-The Wild Hunt

Fae - The Wild Hunt
The Riven Wyrde Saga Book 1
By Graham Austin-King
ReleaseD date - March 9th 2014
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Fairies... The Fae... The stuff of bedtime stories and fables.
But sometimes the fairy tales are true. Sometimes they hold a warning...
For a hundred generations the Fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind into myth and folklore, but now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the wyrde as they seek a way to return.
As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the wyrde of the Droos is fading.
Only by realizing the truth lost in a child's tale will the world hope to withstand the wild hunt.

Chapter One Miriam gazed through the small window at the sun as it sank slowly behind the tiled rooftops of Kavtrin. Smoke was rising from the chimney pots, lending a contrast that painted a dirty stain of indigo across the flaming skies. It was a sunset for young lovers and poets, but Miriam was blind to it. Once there had been a time when the sight would have struck a chord within her, but those days seemed long gone to her now. She traced her fingertips idly over the worn and knife-scarred worktop and sighed as she picked up a damp cloth and began to run it back and forth over the surface. There was no dirt to clean. The counter was as clean as anyone could make it, but hands need to feel busy and the cloth worked almost unnoticed by her as she stared unseeing out of the window. She caught sight of her reflection as she turned and she froze in place, one hand coming up to touch her cheek. Her face was lined and drawn. Her once lustrous brown hair was tied back into a severe bun, which only served to highlight the faint touch of grey at her temples. She looked... old? She wondered at herself. Who was this woman looking back at her? How long had it been since she'd really looked at herself? How long since she'd really been herself? She turned to stir the pot resting on the woodstove, and glanced nervously at the door. The stew was catching again, but he probably wouldn't notice unless it was really badly burned. She was a good cook, she knew she was, but there was only so much a person could do to keep food hot once it was ready. The mutton had stewed for a good six hours and she had been trying to keep it hot for the last four. She glanced at the door again and tutted as she caught herself doing so. Sliding the iron vent in the base of the stove closed, she lifted the pot with a grunt and placed it onto the heavy table. Her eyes drifted to the simple cot in the corner and she padded over on quiet feet. The only joy she had found in the last fifteen years of her marriage lay sleeping soundly in this small bed. Caerl hadn't really wanted children, but she'd hoped that it would have mellowed his temper and when Devin came along, he'd seemed to calm for a time. Then of course, he had taken up the drink again. Creaks and mutterings drifted in from the stairs, she turned with a smile carefully arranged on her face as the door opened, and Caerl slumped against the door frame. She took in all of his appearance in a single glance. The stained and slovenly clothing, the unwashed and unkempt hair, the filthy and scraggly beard. Where under all of this filth, was the man she had married? The man who had stolen moments with her, risking her father's wrath when she'd been little more than a child herself. “Hello dear,” she said, forcing lightness into her voice. “How was the marketplace? Would you like some dinner? I made your favourite.” Caerl grunted, a non-committal noise that could have meant any number of things, and staggered the three steps to the sturdy table before collapsing into a chair. Miriam busied herself with the stew, spooning out a healthy portion into a large earthenware bowl and setting a hunk of bread on the side. She put it down in front of Caerl's slouched form, and stepped quickly away to busy herself in the tiny kitchen. Not that anything needed doing, the rooms were spotless. Living in fear of Caerl's dark moods had turned her into an efficient cleaner, and the fewer reasons she could give him to start off with her, the better. Caerl dunked the dark peasant bread into the stew and chewed. He shovelled a spoonful into his mouth, and then grimaced and spat. His dark eyes sought her out and seemed to flash in the light from the fire and the oil lamps on the walls. “This is burnt, woman.” He slurred, seeming to chew out the words from a mouth slack from drink. “I'm sorry Caerl,” Miriam said, hating herself for the way she sounded. “I tried to keep it warm for you, but it must have caught.” “Dammit girl, how hard can it be to put some food in a man's belly?” He pressed his hands to the tabletop and stood in a sudden burst, knocking the simple wooden chair to the floor. It made a sharp crack as it splintered. “I run those damned carts all day long for you. Put food on the table and a roof over the head of you and your brat, and you can't even make a decent meal?” Miriam rankled at him starting on the boy. She knew she ought to keep her head down just as a rabbit will stay in the warren when a storm is coming, but Caerl always knew somehow what would set her off. “Well, maybe if you had been home instead of in the tavern three hours ago, it wouldn't have caught,” she muttered, the words spilling from her lips before her good sense could stop them. Caerl stopped, and stared at her with dark eyes for a long moment. A slow smile spread over his stubbled face. “So, it's my fault is it?” “No, Caerl. I didn't mean it like that.” She took a step back away from him and began edging along the wall towards the window. “I work all damned day and this is what I get? Burnt slop I wouldn't feed a dog!” He slammed his hands down on the table, making the bowl jump. Miriam flinched and turned quickly to see if Devin had woken. “Dammit, woman. Look at me when I'm talking to you!” He snatched up the bowl and hurled it at the fireplace. It shattered on the woodstove, splattering stew over the walls and onto the hearth where it bubbled and hissed. Miriam cried out as the bowl smashed, ducking involuntarily as though it had struck her. She cowered down, her hands shielding her face as Caerl stormed towards her with rage dancing in his eyes. She drew back as he came closer and grabbed for her and then skittered along the wall towards the woodstove and the doorway to their own tiny room. Caerl followed swiftly, his movements unimpeded by the ale he stank of, as if the rage had burned the alcohol from him. “Caerl, don't. Please?” She backed into the darkness of their small bedroom. “You'll wake the boy. Try to calm down.” “Don't you tell me what to do.” He reached for her and managed to grab her hair, pulling it free off the bun as she twisted and tried to dart away from him. “Who in the hells do you think you are, telling me what to do?” He yanked savagely on her hair, bending her backwards and off-balance as her eyes filled with tears. “You're nothing!” he spat. “That's what you are woman. You know it, and I know it.” He let go, dropping her to the floor as she curled up tight, balling her fists and pressing them to her face as if to ward off the hate. “Say it,” he whispered, but she lay silent, biting her cheek to hold in the tears. “Say it!” he roared, drawing back his foot and kicking her savagely in the ribs with his heavy boot. Miriam gasped as the pain flooded through her. Her eyes filled with tears and she felt him crouch down and grab her by the throat , wrenching her towards him. His calloused hands were rough on the delicate skin of her throat, and she fought to draw in a ragged breath as he squeezed at her neck. “Don't you ever tell me what to do.” His spittle sprayed onto her cheeks as he spat out the words and the stench of stale beer turned her stomach. She began to sob silently as she fled inside herself. Her silence seemed to enrage him more than her defiance had, and he struck her with the back of his hand, the force throwing her to the floor. “Da?” a small voice carried in from the doorway. Miriam's eyes flew open in horror and her pain was forgotten. Devin was a slight boy and the nightshirt made him seem all the smaller as he looked up at his father. “Da, don't hit her.” He said again, a world of reproach in his small voice. Miriam flew to her feet as Caerl turned and bristled at the lad. “You telling me what to do, boy?” he asked in a low dangerous voice as he moved toward the doorway. “Don't you touch him, Caerl,” she warned. “Don't you dare touch him.” “Boy needs to know his place,” he muttered almost to himself, as he looked down at the dark haired child backing away from him. Desperately, she reached for him and clung to his arm, trying to hold him back as he dragged her into the kitchen again. Muttering a curse Caerl struggled to throw her off, turning to face her once more. His face was a mask of pure rage as he struck her with his open hand across the face. This was no slap, his hand was rigid and she staggered backwards into the wall, her head ringing. He stalked towards her as she dashed the tears from her eyes and looked up at him. Her face throbbed and one eye was already starting to swell. He staggered suddenly as Devin launched himself on his back screaming like a feral cat. Caerl's eyes went wide in shock and then pain as the boy’s nails clawed at his neck. He reached back almost casually, grasping a handful of the nightshirt and threw the boy at his mother. “You both got no damned respect.” he spat and began to undo the thick leather belt he wore. “That's enough Caerl,” Miriam said snapped, her lips white with anger as she got to her feet, clutching Devin to her skirts as they moved sideways towards the fireplace. He laughed coldly and shook out the belt. Miriam reached out blindly and took up the first thing that fell to hand. The heavy iron ladle from the pot. “So help me Caerl, if you touch this boy...” His laugh was frost as she thrust Devin behind her awkwardly. She shrieked as he feinted towards her and she swung wildly with the ladle, spraying stew across the room and missing. He grinned and lunged again, but this time his balance or the ale betrayed him and he had none of the grace of moments ago. She lashed out, screaming, and the ladle caught him solidly on the temple with a sickening crunch. Caerl staggered backwards and fell, crashing through the chairs and table before hitting the floor. The silence when it fell, was louder than her screams had ever been. She stood frozen, holding the ladle with both hands. She was dimly aware of Devin behind her, both hands gripping her dress and his face buried in the cloth. Extricating herself from his grasp she crept towards Caerl's prone figure. Blood was seeping slowly from his temple and one nostril, and his eyes were half closed. She looked carefully, but saw no signs of movement. He lay still, seemingly out cold. She felt a wild exultation in her breast but then, just as powerfully, the reality of what she had done washed over her and Miriam was filled with a fear deeper than she had ever known. He would kill her. Her and the boy both, that much was certain. If he didn't kill her, he'd either make her pay so savagely that she begged for death, or he'd have her up before the Justice. “Devin, sweetheart?” she called softly. “Let's take a trip, just you and me. We'll have an adventure.” The boy looked at her with huge dark eyes. “Without Da?” he asked in a small voice. Miriam nodded. “Good,” he said firmly. Forcing a smile onto her face, she set about grabbing clothes and what little food they had in the house, filling bags while Devin dressed. Taking his small hand, she led him to the door and reminded herself to walk normally and calmly into the hallway and down the stairs, even as her mind screamed at her to run. Kavtrin was not a small city and even at this time in the evening the streets were filled with people. Miriam held tight to Devin with one hand, and the bags with the other, as she tried to thread her way through the crowded streets. Many people were still making their way home from work. Some few hawkers were still on street corners, trying to sell this and that. Miriam noticed first one, and then several evening girls coming to stand under the, as yet, unlit street lamps with their lost and hopeless eyes. She hurried Devin along the cobbled streets, trying to keep from being forced into the gutters by the sheer weight of traffic. They darted over to the side from time to time to avoid the carts that clattered through with their drivers flicking the whip at the horses and cursing at all who stood in their way. She was only dimly aware of where she was going. It had been so long that she was surprised she even remembered the way. Devin had been silent since they left the house, and she needed desperately to get him into the warm. Miriam didn't notice the rain when it first started, a soft misting drizzle that was more like spray than rain, but which soon began to soak through her simple woollen dress. It slowly changed into a steady rain that plastered her long brown hair to her face and her dress clung to her legs with each step. They were both soaked to the skin as they finally crossed the high cobbled bridge and saw the golden glow of the lamplight coming from the windows of the Broom and Badger. Miriam made her way around to the rear of the inn and pounded on the large oak door as Devin pressed himself hard against her hip. The boy was shaking, not simply shivering, but a solid trembling. Miriam drew in a breath to speak as the door finally opened, but the girl in the doorway pulled them both out of the rain with wide eyes. “Lords and Ladies, look at the state of you two.” she exclaimed. “Boy'll catch his death out in that. So will you! An' what's wrong with the front door anyway?” “Shalin said I could call on her if ever I needed anything,” Miriam told the blonde girl in a tiny broken voice. The girl looked at her, taking in the deepening bruises, and her face softened. “Ah darlin', you've been through it, haven't you, love?” She hurried them through into the warm kitchen, still filled with the aromas of dinner, and sat them close to the fire set in the long wall. “You two sit here and I'll find Shalin. I expect you could use something hot inside you too.” She bustled around and set a large bowl in front of Devin, before leaving through the double doors that led into the inn proper. The kitchen was long and lowbeamed, with huge cast-iron ovens set against one wall and a long table filling the centre of the room. It was well-lit with oil lamps on the walls shedding a warm comforting light. It smelled of chicken, fresh baked bread, and hope. Miriam let the warmth from the fire soak slowly into her body and watched Devin devour a large bowl of warm apple pie as only a ten year old boy could. “My stars, Miriam, I never thought I'd see you again!” exclaimed a slim blonde woman from the doorway. Shalin seemed determined to overcome every stereotype about innkeeper's wives. She was tall and willowy, with a figure that made other women hate her on sight. She was neither matronly nor blousey, though that was not to say she was not beautiful. She had long hair the colour of good honey, and piercing blue eyes. It would be easy to assume that she was just some pretty thing the Innkeeper had been lucky enough to end up with, but Shalin was far more than a pretty face. She ran the inn with a brisk efficiency that showed in her eyes. This was a woman who brooked no nonsense and demanded both order and respect. This was a woman that commanded loyalty and who no man with a whit of sense would cross. She had once been Miriam's closest friend, and the last things Miriam had said to her had been lies. “Shalin,” she breathed as she made her way to the doorway. “Lords and Ladies woman, look at the state of you,” Shalin muttered as she drew Miriam close into a fierce embrace, ignoring the water that was pooling by her feet. “What's happened to you?” Miriam sucked in one shuddering breath before spitting out, “Caerl.” The name tore from her throat and carried all the years of venom and fear. All the love and betrayal, the hurt and every bruise. She clung fiercely to Shalin, taking strength from the embrace and the simple knowledge that another adult cared for her. Shalin stroked her hair softly, making hushing noises. “Deena,” she called through into the hallway. “Why don't you get the lad a warm bath and wrap him up in Thomas' old room?” The girl nodded, smiling at Devin as she held out her hand. “That pie was good wasn't it? I always feel better after coming in from the wet, when I can get something warm inside me. Now, how about we get you out of those wet clothes, into a hot bath, and then find you a nice warm bed?” Devin nodded sleepily and allowed himself to be herded from the room. “He'll be fine,” Shalin said, stepping back to look at Miriam. “Now, how about we get you warm and you can tell me what is going on? Go on with Deena and she'll get you one of my robes. You can wrap up in that for now and get dry.” The blonde girl led them both up the stairs and pointed Miriam towards a bedroom door, “There should be a robe or two on the back of the door. Just leave your dress in there and I'll see it's cleaned for you.” Miriam nodded her thanks and crouched a little to give Devin a quick hug before stepping into the room. Shalin smiled at her as she came back into the kitchen and waved her back into the chair. The robe was soft and with the warmth from the fire she was beginning to thaw. “Now then, now that you look more like the woman I knew and less a drowning kitten, why don't you tell me what's going on? The last time I saw you, your Caerl had gotten a new job in Savarel and you were moving up there.” “We were never going to Savarel,” Miriam admitted in a small voice. “I lied because he'd lost his job again and we were being thrown out of our home.” “Why didn't you say something?” Shalin gasped. “I had no idea! You know I would have helped you.” “When you've got nothing, Shalin, sometimes pride is all you can to cling to,” Miriam said simply. “Hmm, you're right.” said Shalin. “We were so poor, we made the birds look rich when I was a little'un, but our doorstep was scrubbed daily.” She folded her arms across herself. “So, what's happened now? I mean, it's been what, eight years? Nine?” “It's been eleven, Shalin, almost twelve.” Miriam walked over to the fireplace and stared deep into the flames. “He drank,” she began. “Most men drink, but he drank and then he got mean with it. I could cope with that well enough, I suppose, but it was almost every day in the end.” Her head bowed as if she were speaking to the floor, like the confession of a naughty child. “And he would hit me. Nothing I did would be good enough, Shalin. I tried. I really tried! There would be days when he would come home and it seemed like he was searching for something to start off on. Then tonight, he beat me and Devin woke up.” “Your boy?” Shalin asked quietly. Miriam nodded silently. “Caerl was always careful not to wake him, either that or Devin always made out like he was sleeping. He'd never stir.” She breathed deeply before pressing on. “Caerl had me on the floor and he just kept kicking me. All I could think was, this was it. This was the night that he's finally going to kill me. Then, Devin was there, throwing himself on Caerl and he grabbed him and threw him at me. He actually threw my boy, Shalin! He was taking his belt off to beat the both of us.” “How did you end up like this, Miriam? You were always so strong, when I knew you.” “He wasn't always like this. When we first met, he was so sweet you wouldn't believe he was the same person.” “How did you meet him? You never did tell me, you know?” She stood and took down a kettle from a hook, filling it from the pump over the double sinks. “I expect you could use some tea to start with?” She cocked an eyebrow at Miriam over one shoulder. “He was a caravan guard. He used to come in to my father's inn every few months, doing the route from Savarel to Kavtrin.” “And I bet you thought he held the sun in one hand and the moon in the other didn't you?” Shalin said as she set the kettle to boil. “And then some,” Miriam admitted. “He was everything my father hated, and of course, everything I wanted. I was all of fifteen when we started sneaking about together.” Her face twisted as she spoke. “Eventually, he talked me into running away with him, and that was that. I snuck out of the window one night with nothing but a small pack of clothing and keepsakes.” She picked up the mug and blew softly at the steam curling from the top. “At fifteen, I knew all there was to know, and so I turned my back on my family, friends and my home. All for a man I'd really, barely known.” “You don't need to tell me if you don't want to,” the woman said softly. “No, it's good. It sort of helps, you know, to talk about it? I don't think I've ever told anyone the whole thing before.” Shalin nodded, setting the steaming mug down in front of Miriam and moving back to her own chair, cradling her cup in her elegant hands. “We settled here in Kavtrin. He found work easily enough in the marketplace and on the docks. I found easy work in a tavern. We had a lovely room in a nice area overlooking some of the gardens by the park. It wasn't anything especially wonderful, but it was ours, and it felt like a home. Things were wonderful. I mean truly storybook wonderful, until he started drinking.” She cleared her throat and looked down at the table as she continued. “First, he started drinking after work with the boys from the marketplace. I didn't mind or blame him. It's hot and heavy work, and a man needs to spend time with the folks he works with. “Then, he started drinking during lunch with the dockhands. Before long, he was drinking more than he was working. That was when he lost the first job. He was so ashamed that he hid it from me for almost a week before he finally admitted it. He'd been still going out to work in the mornings and not back until dusk, but I'd known something wasn't right. A woman always knows. So, he'd sworn off the drink and we'd muddled through. He found more work and things were back to normal, until it happened again.” She drew in a deep shuddering breath and sighed it out slowly. “This is harder than I thought,” she said, looking at Shalin with an apologetic smile. “You're doing fine Miriam, just take your time.” Miriam nodded and drained her tea, setting the mug down and curling her hands in her lap. “After we lost the third home, I told him straight. One more time, one last time, and that was all the chances I was giving him.” She sighed and gave a wry smile, “We hadn't really planned for a family. Oh, we hadn't exactly avoided it, I'd stopped drinking moon-tea soon after we settled down again. If I'm honest with myself, it had been my price for keeping us together, and that had been the idea really. Maybe I thought that if we concentrated on starting a family, then things would be better. Of course, you need to be home to start a family. It helps if you are conscious and not snoring ale fumes into the kitchen floor. I'd been right on the verge of telling him we were done, when along came Devin, just like that.” She laughed a bitter little laugh. “He changed. Overnight he changed, and it was like none of the strife or struggles had ever been there.” She glanced up at Shalin and smiled with tearrimmed eyes. “He helped through the pregnancy. He worked harder, was home earlier and looked after me like I was made of glass. Sometimes too much! When Devin was born he was there, though he bolted outside as soon as the midwife arrived and wouldn't come back into the building until he heard the babe squall. Life was back to the storybook for almost four years, four blissful years.” “So, what happened? What changed?” She heard Shalin ask. “Honestly? I have no idea.” She shook her head. “I wondered for a while if he'd been having an affair and it had ended or something like that. Between one month and the next he shifted, he became distant. He came home twice with ale on his breath, though I pretended I hadn't smelt it. The following week it was spirits he reeked of. Then it seemed it was every night. You know the funny thing?” Shalin shook her head quietly and Miriam smiled a sad smile. “It was only then, that I began to realise how alone I'd become. We lost most of our friends when we'd had to move the first time. There's nothing quite like pride to rob a person of their good sense is there? Oh, I'd reached out a couple of times, but after we'd moved the third time, I was so ashamed I never bothered trying to keep in touch again. Then Devin came along and my days were filled with him and what work I could find. Caerl had been so good to me that I almost didn't notice that I never really saw anyone else. Until of course, I needed somebody else. Until it all began again. And then I was alone. So, so alone.” Shalin moved to take her in her arms as the tears began to fall. Her body shook with silent sobs, and she allowed the willowy blonde to pull her head into her shoulder. For a time they just sat in silence, until Miriam pushed herself away with a sniff. “Look at me, crying like a babe.” Shalin just looked at her in silence, a faint smile on her face. “Where were you working?” Miriam sniffed. “I still worked in a couple of taverns. It was hard to find one where I could bring Devin. But then when he got old enough he worked as a scullion, while I worked in the kitchen or the laundry. I'd tried working as a serving girl again, but any man who smelled of ale reminded me of Caerl. I tried a few places, but in the end I realised it wasn't the inn, it was me. A girl working in an inn needs to be able to laugh and banter and flirt a bit. I couldn't do it. I couldn't find it in me. Any man so much as spoke to me and I ran off to the kitchens like a startled rabbit. So I stayed in the kitchens, preparing meals and washing linens. “Through all of it, Caerl was the same. He ran in cycles. He would drink himself to almost rock bottom before swearing off the stuff. He was true to his word too. He wouldn't touch it, or go to the inn with the others. He'd come back from his work early. He'd be calmer, kinder, more attentive, and then it would begin again. Always the same, every time. It would start with one drink with the boys on a Friday. Then it would become Wednesday too, then a touch of wine with dinner. Before too long, he'd be cursing that we had nothing in the place to drink. He'd be coming back from the marketplace later and later and stinking like the bottom of an ale barrel. The more he drank, the blacker his mood seemed to get, and then before long I was back to never knowing when he was coming home, or who he might be when he arrived. “Some men are happy drunks. We've both seen them, laughing and carrying on. Some become depressed and snuffle into a tankard in the corner. Caerl wasn't either of these. He would fall in through the doors with a shadow in his eyes, and then it would start. It seemed some days, he almost had to search for something to get angry about, but he always found something. Everything was meant as a hurt when the mood was on him. If the fire was built too high, I was squandering his money. If the food was too simple or the rooms not spotless I was failing as a wife. But it was rare for him to actually hit me, until just lately.” Her hand crept unnoticed to her face and she fingered the bruises, probing the sore flesh absently she spoke. “Always before, even in his darkest place he stopped at hurling things across the room or kicking over the table. He'd rage and curse at me as I stood in front of Devin's cot and eventually, it was like he'd suddenly see me. Maybe he saw how scared I was or something. But he'd turn and storm out of the door. He'd be back later, stinking of cheap gin and slurring apologies as he pawed at me in the bed. “And then one time, he did it. He hit me. And it was like, now he'd crossed the line and seen that nothing came from it, he decided it was okay. He never did it in front of the boy, though. It was like he thought beating me was fine, it was okay. But children shouldn't see it. Then tonight, he woke Devin with all his shouting and Devin saw him hit me. My boy actually tried to protect me Shalin.” Her voice was filled with a fierce pride. “What have you done, Miriam?” Shalin asked, as understanding suddenly dawned on her. “He was going to beat us both. He was taking off his belt!” “What have you done, Miriam?” she repeated in a soft voice. “I went for him with a pot ladle. It caught him in the face, just here,” she touched her temple. “He fell hard. And…and, we just left.” “Is he dead?” Miriam gasped. “I don't know,” she admitted as her hand flew to her mouth. “I didn't think to check. Oh, Lords and Ladies! What if I've killed him?” Shalin took her by the hands, and looked at her firmly. “Now, listen here. You did what you needed to do. Nobody in this room is going to blame you or think less of you for that. You were keeping your boy safe, and that's what counts. If he's dead, well then he got what was coming to him. Less than I would have given him!” She stood abruptly and left the room, returning quickly with two glasses and a dark bottle. “Take this, you look like you could use a good drink,” she said, pressing the brandy into Miriam's hands. Miriam drank the fiery liquid down without comment and held her glass out for another. Shalin chuckled and poured, before turning back with a serious look. “Have you thought what you might do?” Miriam shook her head. “I'd have you here, Miriam, you know that. But you must know it's going to be one of the first places he looks, if he comes looking for you. If he's dead, well then, better you were gone from Kavtrin completely.” “Maybe I should just go to the Justice, Shalin. I mean, if he's dead?” “Now don't talk stupid, girl!” Shalin snapped. “You've done the right thing. You got yourself out, you looked after your lad. You've walked all the way here, and now you talk about going to the Justice?” “If he's dead though...” she trailed off. “What? Because it's the law?” Shalin scoffed. “You know as well as I do, that people die in this city every day. Caerl wasn't rich or important, they won't bat an eye. IF he's even dead!” she took a deep drink, and set down her glass again. “Now, before you started on that nonsense, I was about to ask if you have anywhere you could go. Somewhere outside of Kavtrin, until you get on your feet? Are you in touch with your family at all?” Miriam shook her head. “No. And it's been too long. I couldn't just turn up, not now. To be honest, I don't even know if they're still there.” “It's a start, Miriam. Go there and see. It gets you away from any... problems here. And it gets you moving off your behind, girl!” “I don't have any money, Shalin. I hadn't really thought past maybe someday getting away from Caerl, and finding a job somewhere with just me and Devin. It was all just rainy day dreams, but now...” Shalin took a deep breath, visibly biting back words which were too harsh for the moment. “Wait here,” she said tersely and strode from the room. Miriam sat by the fire, listening to the sounds of raucous laughter and merriment from the common room. She was dimly aware of Shalin's voice in the hallway. The words were indistinct, but the tone spoke volumes. A few moments later she stepped back into the kitchen. “I've a few things to organise, but we will sort you out, Miriam. For now, I think you probably need a bed. You look like you're about to drop off your feet. Why don't you head up and climb in with your boy? We'll talk more in the morning.”

I was given book for honest review. This was a very intense read with lots of action and just when I was being drawn into a character it jumped to a different one. Then there was a gap of years that isn’t covered where I would have liked more detail on the growing up years or at least a message that years had past. Towards the end all of the subtle references of the fae and all the characters start to converge but book ends on a high fly adventure. Looking forward to the next in series so I can reconnect with all the interesting characters that I met.
Character bIO:

Character Name: Devin
Age: 10 -15 (aging throughout the book)
Species: human
Height:  5'6
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: dark brown
Likes: hunting, being in the woods, fine ale and a quiet life.
Dislikes: Artur, being in the lime-light, stone circles in the woods
1-2 Sentences about the character's personality: Devin's a loner, shy and a bit broken. He is the new-comer to Widdengate and works hard to stay out of the limelight. He's lost too many of those that are close to him and holds on to those he now has fiercely. 

Character Name: Klöss
Age: 14 - 19
Species: Human
Height: 6'2
Eye Color: Grey
Hair Color: Brown
Likes: The feel of spray on his face, a good fight, people with honour, good drink, good food, adventure
Dislikes: The merchant class, cowards, the weak.
1-2 Sentences about the character's personality:
Klöss is a boy who becomes a man in the novel. He's spoiled and intolerant. He's a natural athlete and talented. He's also quick to anger with a strong sense of justice. He has a weakness for blondes.
Graham Austin-King began his writing with children's stories to entertain his children when walking them to and from school. When he started getting demands to repeat the same story over and over again he decided to write them down.
Liam and the Grump was soon followed by Captain Pegleg and the Greatest Treasure.
Fantasy is the genre which has always appealed to him, a result of reading too many books and playing too many roleplaying games and computer games. Having weaned himself on Tolkein he cut his teeth on David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist.
Finally the keyboard beckoned, there were worlds to create.
Graham lives in Kent in England with his wife and three younger children.

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