© Depositphotos.com/@ IngaDudkina

© Depositphotos.com/@ IngaDudkina

Happy New Year to you, and happy Hogmanay to those who celebrate it. It’s no coincidence that Fire Above is launching now, as dark-haired first foots bring in luck and Hogmanay fireballs swing. A source of these old traditions come to fantastic life in Fire Above.

All traditions, like all myths, start in a true story. All stories start…with chapter one. As you enjoy the start of the new year, here’s the first chapter for Fire Above. (Read the Prologue here)

 

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Chapter 1: Baby will Fall

 

As I ran toward the village, I tried to keep my worries away. I’d run this way late last night, checking on my oldest brother’s youngest child. Just starting to toddle, he constantly got into things, and I really could help in the raising. Now into my breeding years, I could show real interest in child-rearing without being teased. Not so long before, I could only imagine being chosen for the breeding program. Helping with my nephew, painfully adorable, let me really experience fatherhood, and I loved it.

My oldest brother and his mate lived close enough for me to sneak to their hut on the way to my own each night. That morning, when the lords wanted a runner to carry a package back from our village, I’d stepped up before even checking in with my father. He’d looked terrible after his meeting with the Queen the night before, and it was just a short run. Besides, I had to know what the package was.

As I entered the village, my heart dropped and my feet turned from trusted friends to tripping enemies. The lord was waiting by my brother’s hut. Carry a package. When they’d said from our village, I’d had a feeling. From my brother’s hut, what else could it mean?

I plodded forward, dreading the next moments. It was an honor to be Chosen, right? Father had been Chosen, and look where he was now. Pet slave to the Queen herself.

I watched the lord push open the door and obediently followed her inside. She looked around, wrinkling her nose. It looked like a regular hut to me, with its dirt floor, cooking pit in the center, sleeping mats to one side. Neater than most, in fact. My brother’s mate spun as we came in, my nephew on one hip. I saw my niece peep out from the sleeping mats out of the corner of my eye. Behind the lord’s back, I winked at her and tipped my head to get her to go back to hiding. She did.

My brother’s mate’s brown eyes shone black in the dim light. She flicked her eyes at the lord, and then at me, wide-eyed.

The lord peered at her and said, “That child is Called.”

My brother’s mate’s face flashed with fear and went slack. I dove toward her, managing to catch my nephew before his head hit the floor. Luckily, I bumped his stiff mother back into the wall instead of forward, so she shouldn’t be too injured. My nephew started screaming, and I couldn’t tell if he had an injury or was just scared. I guess it didn’t really matter.

Easily after so much practice, I carefully hugged him into my shoulder, and started tapping on his back while bouncing. Within moments, his screams quieted into a big sigh. He looked at his mother, and then glared at the lord. A deeply hidden part of me agreed, but I just turned slightly to hide his face.

Carefully not looking at the lord, I missed the cue that she was about to puppet my body. My nephew grunted as I stopped bouncing and held him a bit too tightly. The lord moved my body to stand right in front of her.

“Take it back to the castle,” she growled., then let me go enough to speak.

“I live to serve. I will run there now,” I said, and started running.

I ran almost to the forest before I felt the lord give me my body back. I didn’t stop running, just changed my stride to one that actually worked, shifting my nephew to a better position. , but it worked like a charm. My nephew leaned back to look at me with bright eyes, then snuggled into my shoulder. The smell of his hair filled my nose.

Despite the extra weight, I didn’t even think of taking my secret shortcut through the forest. I could feel the lord hanging at the edges of my mind. She must be flying, keeping pace with me. I ran as fast as I could while keeping my bouncing smooth and even, working hard not to wonder where my nephew would go. He fell asleep in my arms. His trust gave my body strength, but filled my mind with worry.

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Update: Read chapter 2

While just a sip, that’s a taste of what’s to come. I’ll send another chapter soon while I wait for the team to set the book loose. Feel free to share with anyone interested, and look for the next installment. I’m off to do my saining.

Until next time.

CHM