The Voice Was Hers

The Voice Was Hers

Enjoy this excerpt from J.D.G. Perldeiner’s forthcoming novel, Haven. Read our profile on Perldeiner and Haven here.

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The journey was meant to take five or six hours, but it had slowed to a nightmarish crawl. No bandits emerged to demand a fee for passage, because no bandit was foolish enough to be out in the cold. A killing wind descended on the motley as it made its slow way along the high road. The cracked asphalt tarmac was a wasteland of white: huge hummocks of snow and ice trailing crystalline veils as the wind whipped over them. Tiber had never been so cold in his life. When the autumn weather turned truly nasty down in Haven, the novices were allowed to come into the cloister and huddle around the braziers. There were no braziers to be had out on the high road, nor anywhere left to stop and build a fire. Three inches of snow, which would seem next to nothing in the comfort of the monastery, could be death on the high road.

Tiber rubbed his nose. It was covered in frozen snot. His thin cloak wasn’t enough to keep out the wind’s bite, and his flimsy leather boots were soaked through. He looked around at the others. Sir Thorn was angry, his bearded face creased in a grimace and his eyes cast to the ground. His men-at-arms didn’t look much better. Brother Laudangar was crouched down near the cart, his hood pulled all the way over his face and his robes bunched up to take the brunt of the wind. Ray alone was unconcerned, clad as he was in thick leathers and furs.

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Moving through the snow with the cart in tow was near impossible. Sir Thorn and his men had to spend an hour clearing a path that Ray would cross in moments. They struggled for nearly the entire day climbing the hill on the far side of the tunnel, and still they had yet to reach the top. The task of keeping the cart from sliding back down its icy face fell to Tiber, who kept moving rocks forward at each stop amongst the drifts to chock the wheels.

Sometime after midday, the wet dull throb in Tiber’s feet transformed into a searing pain. He looked down to see bloody tracks behind him.

“Brother Laudangar,” he said weakly. His strength was draining out through his heels, leaving his legs wobbly and worthless. He stumbled over to the monk and tugged at his robes. “Brother Laudangar?”

Laudangar looked over his shoulder with disdain, but his expression changed hastily when he saw the sopping bootprints. “Thorn!” he called loudly.

They sat Tiber down in the cart. At first, relieving the pressure in his heels helped, but a moment later, his back gave out and he was lying down on the wagon’s wooden bed. Down the hill they went, kicking the rocks out of the way and making a scratch-bump on the pavement. Tiber’s head knocked against the bed of the cart, sending tremors that he could not control through his legs and feet. He heard Sir Thorn grumbling, “Woodbridge. We have to stop at Woodbridge. We can’t go on in this. Not till the weather clears.”

When they reached the bottom, they discovered that the soles of Tiber’s boots were worn all the way through. He couldn’t bring himself to look at them, so he closed his eyes. Someone threw something warm and scratchy over him. He found it hard to stay awake. He tried to sit up, but discovered he couldn’t. He tried to open his eyes, but that only produced a flutter of light. From somewhere far away, Brother Laudangar’s voice reached him.

“Lie down, child. Rest.”

Tiber dreamed of spring. The air was warm and thick like honey, and the bees—which were all but dead in Prior Alexander’s time—swarmed around the abbey apiary in droves. His mother was there, in the dream, and his father, too. He had never known what his father looked like, but in the dream, he was a slender man with delicate hands who wore the cap of a scav Road Captain. He was dressed in the clothes of a tribe that Tiber did not know: colorful, a spray of blue and red across a smoke-gray jacket. Tiber himself stood on the Cross Green, surrounded by the sunlight’s amber glow.

Prior Alexander said there were no more bees, but they returned half a century after him, and the brothers quickly put them to good use. Mead and melomel, honey-wine metheglin with spices, these were brewed the year round. Tiber found himself with a mug of sweet melomel in his hand, redolent of apple and cherry. He sipped from it, but the drink turned to bile in his mouth.

He choked, spat the foul stuff from his lips, and found there was still more lurking behind his teeth. Again he spat, and more came forth. Malus, malus, malus, he thought. Was it the thrax? His father turned his back, his shining brown eyes staring into the distant horizon. His mother rushed to his side, but she was Brother Laudangar at the same time. She placed her hands on Tiber’s shoulders and whispered, “Lie down, child. Rest.” The words were Laudangar’s, but the voice was hers.

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J.D.G. Perldeiner’s Haven
Release Date: September 3, 2016
Preorder: Prepper Press | Amazon

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