#MothersDay Sneak Peek: New Frewyn Fables Book
Gran Mara Connridh, the book about Baba Connridh and her magical knitters, will be out in two weeks! Until that time, here is a special look at one of the later chapters and the cover art:
|Sneak peek of the cover art by Twisk|
The wind changed, a cool breeze browsed the wrinkles on Baba’s neck, her gaze followed the gale from one side of the tree to the other. A sudden rushing sound grazed her ear, the fabric of space undulated, something seething emerged, and time slowed. Baba glanced at the phuca, who was staring back at her in horror; she had a moment to defend herself from the attack, and only a moment. She tossed the brouneidh toward the tree, the phuca caught it and ducked behind the mound. Something phased in and out of view, a blaze of shadow tore through the atmosphere, and Baba turned, her shawl whirling round, verdant sparks glancing off her knitters as she brandished from her belt. She pulled her knitters across her chest, the folded iron hissed and glowed, and something in front of her writhed in anguish. Blood seeped into the loam, a thunderous stomp clapped across the field, the ground shook, the air vibrated and teemed with an imperceptible force, and Baba lunged forward, striking at the nothing before her. She stabbed from both sides, the glow from her knitters streaking across an empty plane. They connected, something fell back and skittered across the loam, a guttural wrawl resounded, and from the atmosphere a large shadow suddenly materialized. It prowled under the whitethorn, its long caliginous claws scraping across the roots, its exsibilations suppressing all other sound. A cry suddenly penetrated the low growls: the brouneidh was looking up from the phuca’s arms, the beast was nearly on top of them, and the brouneidh began to scramble away when the phuca held it close, closed its eyes, and vanished in a wisp of glowing light. It reappeared behind Baba, who was standing in defiance of the beast, with chest high and knitters ready.
“Think you got the sneak on me?” Baba fleered, twirling her knitters triumphantly. “Hah! Smelled you from a mile aff. Yer breath is like rottin’ peat blowin’ across dyin’ heather.”
The beast raised its head and roared. The thrushes fled from the hollow, the whitethorn boughs rattled and shed their early leaves, and six dead eyes of varying sizes fixed on the old woman and the cat at her heel. Fangs gnashed, a nowl swayed and nurred, and the beast followed the scent of the phuca, its long ears raised, its eye fixed on the brouneidh as it made a shrill cry. The beast gave a few hardy sniffs and began to salivate, its mouth a riddle of teeth and tongues, its fangs protruding every which way, its immense form arched and looming.
“This yer man, girl?” said Baba, in a careless hue, pointing a knitter up at the beast. “This the one you were afraid was gonna find you if I didn’t let you go?”
“Please, Gran!” the phuca cried, holding the brouneidh to her chest. “Please don’t let him near me!”
The beast bellowed in answer, and the phuca shrank back behind Baba, who was wholly unaffected by the monster’s advance.
“You sure you don’t wanna go to him, girl?” said Baba, glancing down at the phuca, who was pulling at her skirts in wordless consternation. “Looks like he came here just for you.”
“Give her to me…” the beast hissed, the terrible voice seeping out of its wreck of fangs.
Its eyes glistened, its tongues flicked toward its prey, and its chest heaved, its breath labouring under an appetence that would not be soon done away.
Baba appeared unimpressed. “You look this terrible in yer true form, girl?” said she, speaking to the phuca, pointing her knitter at the beast.
“This is my true form!” the phuca implored.
“How’s it yer such a pretty little mite and yer man is such a bracket-faced rawley mountain-mass? He looks like someone sewed a hare, a wolf, and a bear together for the chraic of it. Well,” she shrugged, “suppose our lads look the same when they’re all ale-brained on a girl.”
“Give her to me…” the beast snarled, eyeing the phuca and slavering along the ground.
“You’ll get nothin’ from me, son,” Baba demanded. “This here’s my land, and ain’t no one’s gonna tels me what to do on it.” She canted her head and glanced at the beast’s stomach. “Bleedin’ a bit where I nipped you. Go on outta here, monster, and stop bleedin’ on my furrows. I already put the ash in the loam, don’t need you fertalizin’ it anymore with yer innards.”
“Give. Her. To. Me…..” the beast bellowed, clawing at the ground, its patience with Baba’s candour beginning to wane.
“You ruin my bean beds with ‘em claws o’ yers and I’ll put my knitters right through yer eyes, d’ya hear me? Now,” she sniffed, pulling up her skirts, “what’s all this about you cursin’ my land? Better stop slaverin’ and start talkin’, monster.”
The beasts eyes blazed.“GIVE. HER. TO—“
A knitter rapped the monster on the nose. There was a hissing sound, a plume of smoke rose from the wound, and the beast growled and backed away.
“Heard you the first time,” Baba contended. “I’m old, son. I ain’t deaf.” She stabbed a knitter at the beast’s largest eye. “Yer gonna start tellin’ me why you’re here and what you think yer doin’, stoppin’ my beans from growin’.”
The beast gave her a vicious look. “The brouneidhs come...” it sibilated, its nowl divagating. “My prize comes… The brouneidhs see the trap…. I curse the land…I make the brouneidhs agree to trap my prize…. I come to collect my prize…”
“And this prize yer female here or me?”
“The female…” the beast rumbled, slenching the phuca with an edacious look. “…And you… I curse your land…You come to me…I kill you…”
“Hah! Sure, son,” Baba rasped, waving a hand at the beast. “Whaddya wanna kill me for anyhow? I ain’t do nothin’ to you.”
The beast lifted itself onto its haunches and spread its enormous arms. “This is our land…” its voice resonated, “…This is our tree…Here before you were here…”
“That’s piss-talkin’. Yer actin’ the tale-teller now. This here land’s been in the Connridh family since before Allun’s time. Yer all hee-haw in the head, son. The forest south o’ here is yers, says so in the accords. You wanna try to toss me aff my land, yer gonna get a head full o’ iron, I’m tellin’ ya that.”
The beast began to pace. “You will leave or you will die…”
“Heh, not likely. Weather and famine ain’t killed me yet, doubt you’ll do any better.”
“I will have this land and the female…” the beast seethed, growing more anxious.
“Aye, well. You can’t have her, and I’m not goin’ nowhere, so go’wan home now. Yer gettin’ in the way of the dinner.”
The beast lurched and writhed. “Give her to me….”
Baba gave the beast a flat look. “All yer males this dim, girl?”
“Please, Gran,” the phuca entreated, looking up at her with speaking concern. “We must flee!”
“I’ll flee in my arse.” Baba affirmed. “They’ll be no fleein’ and no givin’ anyone over.” She struck her knitters against one another, green sparks dispersed, and she brandished them toward the beast. “There’s more’n one way to lift a curse, son. You want yer girl and my land? ‘Mon then,” she proclaimed, whirling her knitters around, inviting the beast to attack. “Up with yer claws, and we’ll see which one o’ us wins.”The beast roared, Baba clicked her knitters with threatening dispatch, and each lunged at the other, the beast swiping and gnawing, and Baba careening toward it with iron raised.