This is the back-story of one of the characters in the next book, the Talent Seekers. It is dedicated to my Facebook friend Blackbird Jury, who is the real Glory’s dad.
Glory huddled in the corner of the attic. The waves on the beach crashed and sang as they broke and drew back again, the rhythm calling her to sleep, to rest after the exertions of her day. She couldn’t sleep though, not yet. He might be coming.
She relived the events of the last couple of days. The long journey to Castle Forest, bouncing around in the rickety cart. The incredible complexity of the inside of the Castle. The beating when she failed to finish in the wall-running competition. The journey to the inn, where she had to dance for their supper. The agility course where she failed to cope with the greasy poles that stuck to her coat and slipped through her hands. Another beating. Then home to Calella.
She still called it home although none of her family was left. Her father had sailed a boat, traded provisions and crafts with ships passing the Foreland, which stuck out into the sea almost like a corner they had to turn. Her mother had made the baskets and blankets and other goods, keeping the community’s traditional business going, teaching the rest of the clan how to make them. Her brothers had been woodsmen, coppicing the willows and hazel so that the baskets would have spokes and strips of good green wood to bend and twist and form into intricate patterns.
Things changed when he came and helped her father with the boat. He’d become a friend, moved in, made himself part of the clan. They didn’t ask where he came from, although everyone guessed he’d been a pirate. One stormy day he’d come back with the boat, but her father had been lost overboard. He lamented long and loud, blamed himself for not being able to rescue him, the sea was too steep. Glory wondered. Her mother did too, but although they could hear and talk to each other without words, they couldn’t do that with the menfolk. He was a blank wall to them.
Then her brothers had disappeared. He was the only male left in the village. The womenfolk did what he told them to, for fear that their children would be hurt. He saw Glory on the cliffs one day and realised she had talents. He told her mother what he planned to do, to make them all rich. He’d train Glory and they would be rich and famous because of her. Her mother had objected, said Glory had another calling. Her mother met with an accident two days later.
After that he took her to the ruined Castle of Roc, and trained her in wall-running. He’d stand in the middle and beat time, and count how long she took. He’d beat her if she fell off, and he’d beat her if she went slower than the day before. Round and round the inside of the castle walls, running on the smooth surface, catching hold of the slightest edge to keep herself anchored, using her speed to press her lithe body against the vertical walls. Sometimes when she’d done well, he didn’t beat her. He came to her later to give her what he called his present. She didn’t like that at all. She’d rather be beaten.
She huddled in her corner, and thought about the Castle they’d visited, and the place where the soldiers were. There were other places she could live. She had other talents, she could get away and live somehow, she knew she could.
Her mother’s words echoed in her mind. Find the knives your grandmother meant you to have. They are behind the Rock, but I don’t know what that means.
Glory straightened up. How stupid! She knew the stone Roc in the castle where she trained. Passed it hundreds of times, since it formed one of her favourite pivoting points.
She listened very carefully to the sounds of the house, but could hear no movement. She considered leaving by way of the roof, but the surface was loose, it might let her down… although with this wind, it might come away anyway. The stair creaked. Was that the wind or someone on it? Glory made up her mind, squeezed through the crack between the wall and the roof, and slithered over the thatch, sliding as it dislodged in the wind, trying to make its falling look natural.
Running with the wind to Castle Roc was exhilarating. She was free! As long as she kept clear of him. It took her no more than twenty minutes to reach the castle, examine the Roc, and find a set of four silver knives stashed in a secret compartment at the back of the statue. Secret compartments cannot be secret when the knives, her inheritance, sang to her. Why hadn’t she realised before?
She whirled two of the knives as she’d seen her grandmother do. It seemed like they were natural extensions of her hands. They slotted into a soft pouch that she strapped around her middle, and then she set off, into the windy night, heading west.
Watch out for The Talent Seekers in a few weeks. It’ll be on Amazon Kindle first, then all ereaders in the summer.
Don’t forget to enter our Princelings A to Z Giveaway – 9 ebooks and a paperback to be won, including all the Princelings books. See full details by clicking the button at the top right of the page, or just click the banner to go straight to the rafflecopter entry form.