It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chapter 1 of, Skhye Moncrief's *SWORDSONG*


Time hadn’t beaten time guardian Ring Master Murdo McEwen, yet. Wind yanked at his kilt. He squeezed the unconscious time-guardian cadet’s thigh draping his shoulder and swung his own leg through the tall grass toward the toothy time-travel portcullis of Stonehenge. The lad’s weight hung heavier over Murdo’s shoulder than the approaching thunderstorm. A hundred yards remained between him and a life of historical studies while guarding a Druidess and being trapped in 79 B.C. with angry Romans searching for the lost cadet. But the training mission hadn’t been a complete disaster.

Lachy Fitzpatrick’s dead weight slipped across Murdo’s shoulder.

The bloody lad equated to at least one-hundred pounds of lead. Rather, a trying lump of elements only a fellow Post-Modern alchemist could appreciate after the foolish dolt had crept off to observe the activities of a Roman fortress. Being kicked in the head hadn’t snuffed the cadet’s life though. Just his cognizance. Murdo hoisted Lachy’s body upward, grabbed the back of his bare knees, clutched them tighter against his shirt, and stretched his stride toward the monstrous circular post-and-lintel framework of the Order’s time-travel machine.
Thunder grumbled in the distance.

Gods. Lightning’s electricity and the residual ozone made time travel uncontrollable. He glanced over Lachy’s tartaned arse.

The kilt’s hunting neutrals of browns and greens didn’t camouflage Lachy against the purple squall line of clouds. The storm churned like a billowing bank of smoke toward the towering stone circle.

Staring only wasted time. A time traveler knew better. He turned back to Stonehenge and forced his aching legs through the whipping grass.

Time was always on a Ring Master’s heels. A smart man would have taken up cattle breeding on planet Cymbry.

By the time he shifted the heavy cadet to the ground at the base of a short inner stone pillar, the senior time guardian, Lars Uí Neill, wore a relieved mask. Somewhat. The older man’s expression didn’t lighten the situation. They had to beat the storm. Beat time as it snarled and unfurled. But Lachy was going home with the rest of them. Murdo backstepped, and took his place in the line among the eighteen apprentices.

Thunder boomed in the distance. The billowing bank of antagonistic clouds rolled toward the astral complex.

Not good in the least. The delay could cost them their freedom. But a gladiator’s life wasn’t sweet. A cadet deserved more than that for signing his life away to the Cause.

"Present swords," Lars barked.

Older, more progressed cadets who had already earned their stone-circle keys unsheathed their ringing claymores.

If the team leader didn’t summon the sun god, Lugh, fast, his efforts to save the cadet would have been for naught. Gripping the hilt of his broadsword, he slid his gaze across the sharp carved edge of the portal, to the brown-and-orange Uí Neill plaid pinned at Lars’ shoulder, and he thrust his Ring Master sword skyward.

Lightning screeched through the atmosphere. The sound smacked at the apprentices’ colorful kilts with an invisible hand. Gooseflesh erupted on Murdo’s arms. Even the cadets flinched, turning, gaping at a long line of jagged light. The brilliant lightning bolt jerked in dance, clinging for life on a distant rise.

Why was Uí Neill taking so bloody long? The party must embark before the end of this autumnal quarter day, the best traveling day for another twenty-three days. If not, hiding from the Romans with quasi-trained apprentices would be difficult. He focused on his meditating leader.

"Make ready," Uí Neill shouted. Get on with it. Murdo squeezed his sword’s hilt.

The lads hoisted their swords over their shoulders, preparing to thrust the blades into the inner ring of short blue stones.

"Insert keys."

At last, the bloody command. He rammed his sword into the nearest low pillar in sync with the cadets.

The faerie-forged nidium blade slid into stone like a dirk through butter.

Such a smooth action symbolized the God’s gift to those submissive few who gave their lives in exchange for safeguarding history. Murdo scanned the sacred scene around him.

Swords jutted from the stones like gearshifts, all perpendicular to the long-axis of each monolith. Lars had gauged the mechanism, opted for a kick-start with sunlight activation through nidium penetration. The nidium keys would route energy from sunlight into the stones. Hopefully, create the proper resonance. A nonstop journey to 3038 A.D. minus the human sacrifice was the easiest way to fly home. He glanced at the sun hovering at its zenith.

Gray clouds stretched toward the warrior sun god of light with wicked purple fingers.

Was time cursing them? Hopefully, Lugh would pity them, catapult them through time. The god had yet to let them down.

Lars threw his head back, arms spread wide. "I call upon Lugh. Taskmaster, assist us in this troubled state. Pity us for we have done as instructed and request only to return to our humble beds, Father."

To say the least. Without a human sacrifice, they could only pray for the gods’ help. Who knew which fairy would opt to help them for whatever price?

Wind ceased to blow. The world grew silent.

By Conn and all that was holy, the time-travel mechanism had been activated in time. He sighed.
Sound waves crackled and clicked in his ears.

Sunlight flickered into a black void.

Naught proved as wonderful as the nothingness in transit through fairy transmutation.

Tumbling yet perfectly still, he hung aloft in the darkness somewhere between reality and deep space. Just see us all home to Ring Master Keep on planet Scotia Major.

Something hard struck him. Yet, softness cushioned his palms. He wiggled his fingers and shook his head. His ears still popped. Crisp air settled in around him.

Sweet-smelling heather? Was he still on Earth? Or planet Scotia Major? He opened his eyes and gazed into a cloudy blue sky.

Day was good. Darkness always implied fairy subterfuge. How were his lads? He pushed up from the spongy vegetation to see if any of the cadets were ill from the time-and-space jaunt.

Three winged golden females stretched on their bellies, observing him with wily smiles.
The War Furies. Not what a time guardian wanted to find. The goddesses aided Druidesses. He was a leg shy of two X-chromosomes to interest these fey. "What a surprise." It never hurt a man to sound friendly.

The goddesses giggled. Their golden locks writhed into a frenzy.

Perfect. So much for setting a Brother at ease. Aside from the fey, naught but stones and heather met the cloudless sky. His lads were shanghaied in time. Damn the Furies. "Where are my charges?" he managed to carefully."Safeguarded," Morganna lilted. "‘Tis the year 2004."
Truth from her? She adored toying with Ring Masters. "Is that all I’m to know?"

"You’ll know soon enough." Morganna blinked her iridescent green eyes at him. "Seek the Brothers of this time. Welcome to Scotland, Brother Murdo McEwen."

Brothers of this time? Since when did archaic Freemasons have anything to do with time travel? So much had changed and evolved into a completely different form of Brotherhood in the future that the War Furies had to be jesting. Centurian Freemasons couldn’t help him with calculating a time-travel jaunt even if they tried. These masons had yet to leave the Mother World and identify the thirteen constellations encircling Scotia Major. Without the star chart of Scotia Major’s night sky, the Centurians couldn’t time travel with stone circles.

The trio shot skyward, screeching with laughter, twirled into a golden mass of light, shrank into three brilliant balls, and zipped westward through the jagged standing stones.

Only Conn, the Patron Fay of Ring Masters, delivered Ring Masters the orders a Brother could trust.

The wee fairy lights jolted to a halt near a massive tree trunk. Their illumination flickered in broken bands. Their shrill cries faded into nothingness.

Good riddance. A sudden goddess departure was never more welcomed. Yet, being left on Earth was strange. What of the jest? Loitering in 2004 wasn’t a grand holiday to Ring Masters. Getting back to the thirty-first century and finding his charges was crucial. His responsibility. Just where had the gods found this detour necessary? The wisp of straw reason was now his time-guardian chore to pluck from the haystack of reality. He scanned the small ring.

Twenty stones. No visible encircling earthen dike. All the craggy menhirs stood upright, poised for time-transportation duty. A bloody arthritic hand gripping him in this time. A reflection of the double-edged sword time guardians lived by. Ring Masters and Druids were bound to secrecy in their quest to study history. On the same token, the gods could offer protection.

Standing stones indicated a wormhole portal. And Stone circles riddled the Gaelic countryside. Touring the nearby wood would help ascertain his location before the stars sketched out the night sky’s astral map. With his nidium claymore, a wise Ring Master would wait until night settled, read the stars, calculate the astronomical path back to his time of departure, and find his lads. Perhaps the bent sword would work? He could try the key under the cloak of darkness.

And a little dead reckoning always proved a challenge to students of Astrofolklore. Challenge?

More like enigma. Solving the fairy riddle never sounded so intriguing. And to debunk the fairy-controlled mechanism of time travel would make a Post-Modern alchemist famous.
Katie Innis gripped the steering wheel, steering the boxy front end of the blue Agila carefully around an indecisive edge of forty or so milling sheep. Make that four hundred. Damnable creatures.

"We’ll never get anywhere if you don’t let me see the map," Jennifer Torn, one of Katie’s two best friends, whined in the backseat.

Would they argue all day? The huge creased sheet of paper hovered a smack away. One karate chop and those sunlight-brightened soft greens and blues of the paper where Pam Rucker held the map in the passenger seat would be tattered toast.

Jennifer’s hand snatched at the map.

Pam slapped the manicured fingers. "I’m not finished reading the map."

"Come on, Katie," Jennifer begged. "Tell Pam neither of us think she can read a map." As if I don’t have anything better to do dodging sheep south of Edinburgh? And if I hit one animal, there’ll be hell to pay. She needed to escape her girlfriends even though they paroled her from her familial metal-smithing apprenticeship for a Scottish excursion. Holyrood here I come turned into Holyrood save me from my unbearable best friends. She peered into the rearview mirror where Jennifer’s brown eyes pinched in disgust.

Not only was the perfect dark-skinned brunette begging for assistance with her chocolate gaze, but Jennifer struggled to tuck a long black strand of hair back into the short ponytail she wore. The diva couldn’t even stop primping to goad Pam.

Just let the day end free of bloodshed. Tomorrow she could drop them off at the airport. None too soon. All the talk of rich boyfriends with big wallets, among other large endowments, was too much. She’d give anything to find a guy who was as provisioned as the men her friends claimed to have found. Why couldn’t she find a trustworthy man? One who wanted sip a steaming cup of coffee and discuss global peace instead of how long it would be before he could get in your pants. Talk about World War III. Whether the battle was between friends or foe, a girl couldn’t escape the madness. There was no perfect place in the world. She glanced at Pam.

Trees bent in the Scottish wind beyond Pam’s shoulder where she bent over the map. Her short red hair spiked skyward like the scruff of an angered corporate bulldog. And that was just what Pam intended to become.

"Katie?" Jennifer whined again.

Pam shot a cutting gaze over her shoulder. "Don’t try me, little girl."

School chums sure could wear out their welcome. Katie stomped on the break. "Enough."

The cup of cold coffee sloshed wildly in the cup holder beside the gear shift’s base. Luckily, they drove so slowly the abrupt stop didn’t matter. She stared at the woolen uniquely Gaelic social class milling around the compact car.

The sheep’s bleats hung over the silence inside the vehicle.

The erupting coffee stilled in its well.

Escaping the sheep proved as impossible as getting through this last day of vacation. Katie turned, glared at her two college buddies, and snatched the map from Pam’s grasp. "One more day!" She shook the crackling map out over the steering wheel and glared into their wide-eyed innocence. "You two act like you’ve been married twenty years."

What she’d give for a twenty-day anniversary. She shook out the map and searched for the route. Anything to stop thinking about bickering. "If you don’t try to get along, we’ll never get to Edinburgh. The day will be wasted. Hence, another day in Hell."

"Hell?" Pam gasped. "This is Scotland. You dreamed of Scotland."

Focusing on the sheep-free picture of Scotland, she bit her tongue. I’m not going there with them. They’d beg her to go back to the States. And she wasn’t ready to give up on Scotland. Or her artistry. The Scots could have one more year to produce an incredibly provisioned Dafydd Emyr. Or a man who looked half as good as him. One who could be trusted to mean every word he said.

A warm palm draped her arm. Jennifer’s perfectly French-manicured fingers squeezed her arm.

"What’s wrong Katie?"

"Nothing." To admit the truth would be crazy. Cousin Sticky Fingers was back at the Innis house, waiting to cop a feel. The creep was always lurking. She had half a mind to carry one of her favorite swords. But she would kill the bastard. End up in prison. Sticky Fingers would not be the end of her vision. Katie Innis would become a renowned sword smith. She followed the map’s knotted spaghetti tousle of roads, located the black line winding north to Edinburgh, and licked her lips. "I just can’t take anymore of the bickering."

"Bickering?" Pam condescended.

Like truth was questionable? She swept her gaze across the dashboard’s round gauges to Pam’s black eyes. "Bickering like a dog and a cat locked in a coat closet." She turned back to the map, fighting a shrug. "We’re almost there. I hope you two can manage to play nice in heavy traffic."

"I resent that," Pam said.

Did it matter? "I resent your juvenile behavior." Without a glance, she thrust the cackling map to Pam. "I’m trying to drive half-ass backward." She took a deep breath, watching the trees sway above the woolen-covered road. After a year’s worth of driving backward hadn’t cured the problem.

Pam shook out the rattling sheet of paper defiantly.

"She’s right." Jennifer sighed in the back seat. "I’m sorry, Katie."

Now to get out of a discussion. She gripped the steering wheel with both hands.

The amoebic ground cover of bleating wool had completely engulfed the road, swarming around the car.

Great. Every sheep was as important to a Scot as his whisky and music.

"How will we get out of this mutton sand pit?" Jennifer moaned.

The sheep probably zeroed in on Jennifer’s heightened receptivity to males. The herd had to be entirely male. "Wait it out." Boy, was she tired of waiting. All she wanted was to see if the tenements under South Bridge were haunted. Was that too much to ask from a month’s vacation? A good spook was just what she needed. Anything to churn her blood before she returned to cousin Sticky Fingers and played the cold fish.

Pam rustled in her seat. "So, you going to latch onto that cousin of yours?"

Never. "Where I come from, that’s called incest. End of subject."

"What’s his deal anyway?" Pam propped her elbow on the car door and leaned her cheek against a palm and bent fingers.

Pam Lovelace was anything but a fool. The unsettling expression meant her friend had realized the tight line she walked at the Innis house. Well, whenever Uncle John wasn’t around to kick arse. The big man could sweep the garage with his dolt son’s mop of brown hair.

"You didn’t take us by there this year." Pam blinked accusingly.

Why air out secrets? Katie looked back at the churning woolen surface. "I wanted to get on the road. There’s so much to see and so little time."

"He gave me the creeps last summer," Pam droned.

The backseat squeaked. But Jennifer remained oddly quiet through Pam’s inquisition.

Great. Had they already discussed things? "Why?" She truly didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t want to give up on her dream of becoming a renowned artisan.

"I swear he shooed off a magnificent man at the pub that first night last summer. The man was making a beeline for you." Pam smacked her armrest with total disgust.

"Listen, Cousin John and I share a few genes. That’s all."

"All humans share the majority of their genes." Jennifer piped.

The biologist sat with arms crossed over her more-than-ample chest.

Some friends. They had teamed up to drill her. "You too?"

"He makes my skin crawl. He’s like a room full of leeches." Jennifer shook her fingers like disgusting worms clung to them.

Instead of arguing something ridiculous and scientific along the line of nematodes writhing under epidermis with the peanut gallery in the back seat, Katie turned back to the road.

The sheep had almost cleared the black top.

"I can take care of myself." Hopefully.

Jennifer grabbed the shoulder of the driver’s seat and leaned forward. "When are you coming back to the States, Katie?"

Why did everyone ignore an artist’s dreams? "Metal working is my calling. When I’ve failed." That’s what her father always said anyway. Besides, Jennifer was in grad school at Scripps. She wouldn’t have time for a swordsmith while studying deep-sea rifts with heaving tanned masses of muscle that stretched Speedos to the absolute limit. Not to mention imaginations. A trip to the beach sounded like good medicine.

"Failed?" Pam lilted.

Non-artists would never understand. Artists rarely made a fortune. Hoping to amass great wealth pounding lumps of iron into knives was absurd. The challenge in the creative process sparked her life. Not the money. A life as a swordsmith would glaze over her loneliness. And these Gaels thought smiths were magic themselves. She just needed a chance to let the magic manifest in herself and kick her life into happy gear. She blinked.

The last fluffy white tail wagged goodbye to the travelers.

About freaking time. "Hurrah!" She gunned the gas.

The car shot forward, leaving Pam’s last horrid comment behind with the lingering silence.

"We’re off to Edinburgh." Hopefully, the point would change the subject.

The boxy car bounced along beside the sparkling River Esk into a heavily wooded stretch of winding blacktop.

Jennifer thrust her nose into Katie’s periphery from the back seat. "Hey stop here. Let’s take some pictures."

Anything for art. She pulled off the road under a huge tree.

The car dipped down a bit toward the tree trunk. Something slid from beneath the seat and tapped her foot.

She glanced at the floorboard.

The Welsh and Your Welsh Ancestry video. The black plastic tape had worked out from beneath the seat.

The image of the perfect man, Dafyyd Emyr, took form in her mind. That killer smile. That highly tuned body. Mr. Welsh Dashing had all the makings of a perfect husband. He looked completely trustworthy. What were they thinking not going to Wales for vacation? She sighed, swung her car door open, and threw her hiking boot into the grass.

Jennifer toted both her cameras west toward large oak trees.

"She’s taken far too many photography classes," Pam snapped over the car’s glinting roof.

"At least we don’t have to take pictures. She’ll email them to us." Free was good.

"Not even NASA has enough memory to store all those images."Is Pam planning to drive me insane? She scanned the jingling leaves of the trees flanking the road. "She hasn’t taken that many. Besides it’s a form of art."

Pam scowled, skirted the car, and halted beside Katie. "I’m sick of this obsession you have with art. You really happy here? Because I’ve got a position back in Cincinnati with your name on it. We could use an artist"—

"No. No graphic art. Wrong medium." She wagged her head. "I’m quite happy learning the craft. It’s a family thing. Connections and all."

Pam shot her a motherly scowl.

Humans weren’t omniscient. Poker face, Katie. She stared back at the city chick’s assessing gaze.
A girl could be happy here if things just picked up. If I find a man, someone who wanted to see me at each day’s end like Uncle John and Iona, a man who didn’t cheat on you every time he turned around, I’d be happy.

"You know what I think?" Pam asked.

Did it matter? She stared off into a copse of hazel. "I don’t want to know."
"I think you’re miserable."

Just miserable in the loneliness department. "Life rarely serves one prime rib around the clock. So, the past year was bangers and beans. A haunch of beef has to fall on my plate any day now. Lonely, yes. Miserable? No." She shot Pam a broad smile.

"The job will always be there as long as I’m breathing. You can even stay with me."
Right. "Room with you and your fiancé?" She guffawed.

Beyond Pam’s shoulder, Jennifer hurried toward the car, drew up short, and grinned. "Alright. I’ve got them."

The contrast between her two friends was striking. Pam was low maintenance for efficiency’s sake. Jennifer was high maintenance without make-up. No sense in hating Jennifer’s perfect white teeth and full lips. She pulled the door handle and fell back into the squeaking seat.Note for future reference: it’s best not to take Jennifer along when kilt-hunting. Unfortunately, their thirty-day man-hunting escapade was rapidly concluding. Hitting every castle, music festival, and clan gathering had provided nothing in the way of brains, brawn, and sex appeal. How could the journey with Jennifer? Men zeroed in on the biologist like ants swarming Mt. Sugar. She thrust the gearshift in reverse and looked over her shoulder out the rear window.

No sheep. Just trees beyond the road. She gunned the gas.

The car rolled backward, up the shallow incline. She braked, shifting into first gear.

"Hey. I lost my lens cover," Jennifer squealed, scrabbling around the back seat.

Hopefully, the car hadn’t rolled over the plastic. She slammed down the break.

The car rocked. Pam twisted into the back, assisting in the search between the front seats.

"Here it is," Jennifer pealed, producing the round black plastic cap like a lump of gold.

Too easy. They were off to the haunted Vaults. She toed the gas, turning back to the steering wheel.

The car jolted.

A tall object fell over. A man. She gasped, slamming on the break.

"It was a man," Pam shouted. Her hand flew to her mouth.

No. She had not killed somebody. So much for a life to brag about. Hello prison.

Jennifer unleashed a howl like a banshee.

The man wasn’t dead. No. She flinched and jumped through her gaping doorway.
He wasn’t. Her foot slid off the hard road into loose sediment.

The man laid face up on the road, one arm twisted up behind his head, legs tucked under the front end of the car, all the way up to the bottom of his blue-and-green kilt.

He wasn’t dead. She collapsed onto her knees at his side, her knees banging against brutal asphalt.

Pain wasn’t penance enough for what she’d done. Staring at the man’s face, she choked on her tongue. No. It couldn’t be. He looked like Dafydd Emyr but with long black hair drawn back into a queue. She’d killed Mister Welsh Perfect.

A shadow purled west across the man’s off-white shirt.

"They’ll throw us in prison," Jennifer screeched.

"Quiet," Pam scolded, kneeling across the man. "Katie?"

The man’s chest rose. Dark half-inch stubble spritzed his square jaw.

"Katie?" Pam insisted over Jennifer’s endless screech.

Not a lecture. "He’s breathing." The words were more to reassure herself than Pam.
"We need to get him to a hospital," no-fuss Pam said.

Corporate Bulldog’s serious mask didn’t need to rationalize. She turned back to the Dafydd clone. He looked as if he slept easy. Or was dead. "Sir?" She grabbed his corded arm and shook.

The man’s steely arm was still warm. But he didn’t respond. She touched his wiry whiskers.
Warm breath hit her knuckles.

"I’ll check his leg for breaks." Pam reached for a thigh.

The girls wouldn’t grope him. "No." Katie deflected Pam’s extending arm.

Pam frowned. "Why?"

"There’s no sign of blood."

"There could still be a break."

Katie waved off Pam.

"As long as there isn’t fluid draining out of his ears, I guess you can shake him," Pam conceded.
What was that? "Why?" Katie looked back at her sleeping Dafydd.

"It’s something I saw on one of those ER TV series. Spinal fluid running out ears equals a broken neck." Pam waved a dismissive palm in Katie’s periphery.

Ignoring Pam was probably not the best tactic. "I’ll check his ears."

No fluid in his upward-turned ear. Her gaze strayed to his gorgeous profile. The epitome Sleeping Beauty on testosterone. Why did she have to run her Dafydd Emyr over? Stop sulking, Katie. He could die. She slid her gaze back to the ear.

Jennifer quietly descended to kneel by his head. "Why is he dressed this way? He looks more authentic than the kilted guys we saw at the Mull Music Festival."

True. He had a sword and an amazing brooch encircled with Celtic knot work. She tugged at the pin until she could see the old safety-pin clasp on the back. What a treasure to make. And he wore his kilt in the old manner, pleated and wrapped around his waist with the long end thrown over his shoulder. Too perfect. He couldn’t die. "Please, just get the bottled water." She scooted up to lean over his face. To block the annoying sun with her shadow. "Sir?"

He wiggled his head a little.

Thank God. He was coming around. "Sir?" She didn’t want to startle him.
Murdo shook his head in the darkness. The back of his skull ground into hard rock. Were those murmuring fairyvoices? Was he dead? Damn the War Furies. Didn’t they have anything better to do? Perhaps correct some glitch in the timeline. Save someone. His leg ached. A burning pain gnawed on his shoulder. Something wet lazily brushed his forehead. Where in the bloody Universe had a dog come from? By the gods, he had just been inside the stone circle. He struggled to open his eyes.

No luck. Time travel was rough business. Only one homeward jaunt had ever landed him in his time without a detour, injury, or illness among the party.

"Sir?" an angelic voice called.

By Conn, he heard the fey.

"He’s coming around."


Fairies chatting in the darkness around him? Was he still in transit? The bloody cur licked his forehead again. He wouldn’t lie there and be fawned over by a hound. He shook his head harder, grinding his skull into rock.

"He’s magnificent," one fay whispered.

"Sh, he can hear us," another admonished.

That was the last he cared to hear. He flitted his eyelids to open.

Blinding sunlight bore down through a woven canopy overhead.

Squinting, he made out two maidens hovering above and one... The other’s gender was indecipherable. He glanced down at the third’s chest and found two mounds broke the drape of her purple shirt. All were female. Three females. A brunette, a redhead, and a blonde. No dog.

The blonde reached up and ran a damp palm across his forehead. The soft heel of her hand massaged his sweaty brow.

If she weren’t a healer, she should go to trade school.

Her fingers wiggled in his hair, teasing his eyes completely open.

He preferred this concerned blue-eyed dog. With a long braid falling over her shoulder, the blonde was Druidess material. His loin tightened. He shook off the despicable sensation. No honorable Ring Master would fall for tempting Centurian females rumored to throw themselves at anything in the twenty-first century. Gallant thoughts would honor the maiden’s kindness.

"Are you alright, sir?" The blonde blinked sincerely. Her gaze wandered across his features.Her H "I’m sorry. There’s been an accident. I hit you with my car."

The gas-propelled terrestrial cart. The revving engine. He was on his back. Splayed out under the baking sun.

"You’re not bleeding." The blonde glanced down at his kilt and reached toward his groin.

The females planned to uncloak him. How predictable! Not this Ring Master. Sucking air into his lungs, he bolted upright. His knees rammed the sharp base of the terrestrial cart.

"You mustn’t move," the blonde scolded. "We don’t know if you’re alright." Her frown was oddly attractive, nurturing.

Maybe she was a healer. Damn Morganna. His leg ached and his shoulder burned. "I’m all but mortally wounded." He pretended to feel no pain. No Ring Master wished to appear weak in front of lasses.

All three females gaped like a triad of nosy crones, blocking the sun. "What?"

Their shocked expressions indicated they didn’t hear "mortally wounded" often. He definitely was on Post-Modern Earth. "I’m well." He slid one knee out from beneath the period cart, then, the other.

His scabbard popped shorn of the machine.

Bent. A bent scabbard. His heart sank. The Ring Master’s sword, his time-travel key, sheathed inside the hard leather case, would be bent as well. By the Universe, he’d be in trouble if the blade couldn’t penetrate stone. He had never heard tell of a dented key factored into travel problems. The fairies had a wicked sense of humor.

Visit Skhye on the WEB- &

*Skhye will be giving away an E-copy of one of her books from her backlist- but you have to comment for your chance to win! A winner will be picked at random over the weekend! Thanks for stopping by!*


Tamsyn said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you! Love the picture you painted of the three friends.

Chicks of Characterization said...

I would like to thank Skhye for hanging out with us all week!!! We at the Write Life wish you all the best! and hope you have many, many sales!! Oh, happy birthday too!!!!

Best of luck in all your future endeavours!! And should you ever need us again- let us know! :O)

Chicks of Characterization said...

The winner of an E-book from Skhye's backlist will be picked at random over the weekend! Check back for the unveiling of the WINNER!!! Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and took the time to comment!!!!

Brandy B aka Brandlwyne said...

Thanks for the exerpt. I love this site!!!

brandyzbooks@yahoo dot com

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