Susan Skommesa joins the Watchers today as our Wednesday Writer. She works at the Art Institute in San Bernardino and is co-owner of G8Press. The following is Chapter 5 of a fun project we are doing on YCN (Yahoo Contributor Network). Any author can continue the story. Susan, aka Redhorse, is working on her first novel--an Indian historical romance. I've read the first chapter. Awesome! Here's her installment from A Light in the Forest.
The Secrets of a Desperate King
Déorah began to stir from the depth of sleep which was filled with darkened shadows and lurking terrors. She pulled herself to the edge of reality to escape the horrid scenes of death and suffering. Suddenly, her eyes opened, her breath almost stolen as she struggled to remember where she was. Memories of the long journey through the ancient forest began to flood her mind. She could again see the pain in her king's eyes as he looked at his son for the last time.
The young queen continued to check the foreign surroundings. Her sleeping chamber, warmed by the fire that still danced with a gentle breeze, was greeted by the morning sun. Golden rays filtered through a small window high in the stone wall.
In the far corner, a shadow caught Déorah's eye. She gasped.
"M' Lady, I'm sorry to startle you," said an elderly woman with wizened eyes. "I have watched over you during the night. I am Lithuen."
Lithuen rose to her feet as one who's only seen twenty years. Déorah could see kindness in Lithuen's wrinkled face as she approached the bed. There was something about this woman that put Déorah at ease. She felt safe.
"Water to wash your face, M' Lady?" Lithuen asked as she helped Déorah out of bed. "And breakfast is ready." The elder woman hustled about laying out clothes good enough for a queen. "One of the young maidens gave of her milk to KBehrszhen early this morning," she continued, "but I am sure the child will eagerly drink from his mother. He has quite a good appetite. Almost nothing left for Swana's daughter. After breakfast, she will bring him to you." Lithuen's eyes twinkled as she patted Déorah's hand with the assurance of a mother.
Just then, the door creaked open and a young girl peered around the wooden edge. A procession of young maidens, carrying jars of warmed water and food, followed her inside. They all bowed respectfully. Déorah smiled as she remembered a time when she served the important visitors who had come to her village to meet with her father, grandfather, and the elders. Lithuen ushered the girls out, gently closing the door as she walked on behind them. As Déorah refreshed her body with food and wash, she thought of the task ahead and the promise she made to a reluctant Trondar.
"To ask help from your people is unfathomable," he told her. "It was I who commanded my soldiers to burn your village and carry away your women, children and cattle."
Though she flinched at the memory, she reminded him that her people were the best horsemen and archers in the kingdom. He paced, shook his head with his chin resting between his forefinger and thumb.
"Many good men died that day," he whispered. "Why would they help now?" He was certain they would not.
Déorah stood in the path of his pacing and took his hands in hers. She held them to her lips and softly kissed them. Looking in his eyes she assured him that she would make her father and the elders listen to her.
Want to write the next chapter?