Monday, December 7, 2020

Midwinter Gifts: Preview

Midwinter Gifts: A Children's Tale for Christmas

Midwinter Gifts, my children's fantasy book, is due out August 15th. It's a story of bravery and loyalty and how you need to keep going even when it looks like there is no hope.

Read on for a sneak preview.

Meadow Lily ran down Gurrentown’s snow-packed streets, laughing as she chased the black-haired half-elven boy. Duad’s longer legs helped him speed ahead, but Meadow Lily grew up running up and down the mountains. She ran fast as an upland doe. He jumped, spun and whipped a snowball at her from-mid air. He finished the turn and almost toppled sideways into a high-piled bank of snow. Duad flailed, trying to keep his balance in the sudden spray of white snowflakes. He stumbled forward until his boot found good hard-packed earth and he sprinted on with a wild whoop of joy.

Meadow Lily ducked the snowball and she paused to scoop some of the packed white snow herself. Her arm went back and then shot forward, but her snowball exploded against a wall as Duad disappeared behind the Sparrow’s Rest. She sprinted, fast on his heels. Her brown-gold hair flew behind her and she laughed wildly under the robin's egg blue winter sky. She turned the corner just in time to watch Duad nearly run into a steel-haired woman carrying a pail filled to the brim with kitchen scraps.

“Boy! Watch yourself!” she said with a scowl, lifting her bucket high to keep it safe.

“Sorry Auntie!" he said. “Meadow Lily was chasing me!”

“I almost caught you.” She grinned. “Hello, Miss Alyse!”

“Meadow Lily, how many times have I told you to call me Maggie?” she asked with a smile that crinkled the corners of her eyes. She stood little taller than her nephew, but when she glared, she seemed even bigger than Euric the blacksmith. “Are you chasing my boy all through Gurrentown?”

“Well,” the girl said, turning it over in her head, her sea-blue eyes sparkling with amusement. “Yes.”

“Ah. Fine, then." She nodded. “But I’m afraid I need him in one piece. He has chores to do.”

Duad groaned. “But Aunt Maggie!”

She gave her nephew a severe look. “Duvad Sivil Alyse,” she snapped, using his full name. “The pigs’ shed needs shoveling. It’s full of snow. Do you want them to catch their death of cold?”

“But that’s Geoff’s job!  He’s the pig-keeper!”

“And you’re his assistant." She pushed the bucket into his hands. “Feed them while you’re at it.”

He took the bucket, a sullen look in his dark eyes. “I just shoveled yesterday.”

“And more snow fell last night,” she replied. “The job is never done. Now go!”

Duad’s shoulders fell in a slump and he slunk off behind the inn.

Maggie turned back to Meadow Lily. “Sorry to steal your playmate, but the boy has his chores as I’m sure you do. How’s your father?”

“Getting ready for a trip up onto Old Slannos,” the girl said. “He said to tell you he’ll be along soon and needing some supplies.”

“So that was your errand, before you started chasing my fool nephew?”

“Well,” Meadow Lilly said,  “he did throw a snowball,  and I figured he’d run here.”

Maggie laughed. “You were right. How long will you be up there?”

“Not long,” Meadow Lily replied. “We’re going up to Brandr’s cabin to check up and make sure it’s ready for the winter. Daddy says we need to make it up there before the trail gets too bad.”

“Your father’s right,” the innkeeper said. “Before too long, nobody will be able to make it down the hill till spring." She sighed and looked at the fresh snowfall. “And unless I miss my guess, it will be sooner rather than later this year. Go tell your father the message has been delivered. I’ll see you’re taken care of."

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