and the Circle of Stones.
Here is the promised excerpt, an action scene from fairly deep into the story for you to enjoy and to entice the young ones with whom you might be sharing this book.
By the way there are very strong female characters in this book. Shelley came to the Elemental Realm from a portal in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. While she is in the Elemental Realm, her ability to communicate with animals becomes very advanced. Here’s an image of Shelley.
I’ll provide some excerpts for other characters over the next few days.
The messages swirled more and more, coming from Skysplitter high in the sky to Shelley and then out through the rest of Mark’s team verbally. From there the messages traveled by hand signal to the other teams led by Jett and Winstan. The grass in the distance on three sides shook. Black dots frothed above the green blades.
The charge of pounding hooves contrasted to the silence of the strange scene unfolding in the distance. By the time they could hear the dogmen, it would be too late. The dots and specks of black turned to a boil and then to a seething mass of snarling heads. Their sound reached like a living thing across the savanna, a dull hum and then a roar.
Mark’s insides roiled. He leaned over the neck of Patches and charged. There was no longer any question of hiding the danger from the beast. Now it was time to steer the deeply instinctive borgahl panic toward the very danger it sought to flee, to ride the frantic beast’s chaotic charge. Mark leaned further and further over the neck, streamlining himself, searching for the leader.
There were about thirty dogmen. One would leap and bark past another. The pack of them looked like a snarling snapping wave from hell. They were doing the half-beast gallop and running-man gait that ate the savanna in gulps.
He was going to die. Mark was one long streak pulling away from the army of men, and he had already accepted his death. In a strange way this knowledge freed him. Freed him to focus fully and totally on his mission. He had nothing to lose, for he had already accepted he would lose it all.
He had been looking to the center of the pack for the leader, but no single dogman emerged from the seething line. Something made Mark swivel his head to the left. The beast ran at the head of a line that formed a large snake hooking around all three groups of leatherheads. The leader.
Mark had miscalculated. By dividing the leatherheads into three groups he had weakened their forces against a cohesive attack.
The whistle of arrows soaring overhead was like the wind screaming the wrongness of two once peacefully coexisting species launching arrows and teeth against each other over nothing more than an evil idea. The men were doomed. Mark signaled to Patches and veered hard toward the lead dogman, the head of the snake. Mark was not the closest to the leader, but Winstan and Jett were leading their teams in the original direction.
Mark broke away from his group and veered back, away from the approaching semicircle of dogmen. To his teams, he must look like he was fleeing. He lowered himself over the surging neck of Patches and squinted against the dirt-filled air. Would the others even be able to see him? His own team had continued their charge toward the dogmen along the original trajectory, failing to follow him. Perhaps the cloak of dust would also conceal him from the lead dogman.
The brown cloud broke. Mark charged into open air. A snarling dogman plunged at him, teeth bared. Mark leaned back and pulled on the reins. “Hey ho, Patches!”
Patches slowed and stopped. The dogmen rushed, the semi-circle closing on him like a noose. This was it, his time to die, but first his time to save all that was dear. Mark raised his crossbow, aimed at the heart of the lead dogman, drew, and fired.
The arrow embedded itself in the hairy chest of the lead dogman. Blood flowered red in the matted black fur. Gleaming black eyes deadened. It lurched forward and tumbled to the ground like a felled tree.
Now to face the closing noose of dogmen against which he had no chance. Accepting death and actually dying were two different things. Mark couldn’t welcome the end. His world was a black hell of howls, barks, and growls, a swelling pit of fangs and claws. The surrounding forces of dogmen drew closer but had failed to form a perfect circle. Perhaps he could still turn Patches and bolt through the circle’s opening behind them. But the dogmen were too close to run.
Amazon Print: https://amzn.com/1075249910
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.com/B07TMYWQY2
Smashwords (all e-book formats are available here): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/946599
Barnes and Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1132415820?ean=2940163273706
Apple IBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1472075239