I usually say something brilliant here at the beginning but my guest author here, Paul Dorset’s writing is much more intriguing than me waxing philosophic. So, to avoid further delay, why don’t you just sit back and enjoy this lovely excerpt from RYANN by Paul Dorset…
RYANN, Excerpt from Chapter One
Ryann flattened herself against the cold stone wall and closed her eyes. “Don’t say anything,” she whispered to herself as the crack of the whip could be heard once more from the other side of the curtain.
A young girl screamed out in pain and a man’s voice could be heard laughing. “Now that’ll teach you. Just stay still will you and it’ll all be over soon enough.”
Ryann wanted to cover her ears but dare not move in case she gave her position away. Again she heard the crack of the whip and the crying, screaming, noise the girl made as the whip found its mark. “Just don’t say anything.”
She knew she shouldn’t have wandered into the bedroom, but she had been curious. That was all. And it had been typical of Megan to follow after her. At least she supposed it was Megan. As soon as Ryann had heard the movement outside the room, she had quickly run to hide behind the curtain. And then, not twenty seconds later, Megan had been discovered. Ryann heard the pleading as the young man muttered something under his breath. And then she heard the familiar sound of a whip cracking and a girl screaming out loud. It could only be the master, Lord Cala. He was the only one that had a whip. Or his son. Of course it had to be his son. And that meant it would be even worse. No, she definitely had to remain as still as possible and hope she was not discovered.
Another two screams and it was all over. The room fell quiet except for the silent sobbing of the girl. Ryann dared to lift her hand to her face and she bit into it, stopping herself from shouting out. She waited another couple of minutes and carefully peered around the edge of the long velvet curtain. Megan was lying face down on the bed with her simple dress half-torn, exposing her bare back. Ryann counted five deep cuts where the whip had found its mark. She wiped away a tear from her eye and crossed over to Megan. She bent over the shivering girl, reached out a hand, and whispered to her. “Come on, let’s get you back to your room. Come on.” Ryann carefully helped the young girl to her feet and let Megan lean into her as they walked together through the corridors, back toward their quarters.
“Twenty,” Ryann repeated to herself as she counted the marks she had scratched out on the wall. She had made Megan as comfortable as possible in her bed and then returned to her own room. “Twenty.” She slumped to the floor and turned her head so that her face touched the cold stone wall. Then she closed her eyes and savored the feeling of refreshing coolness.
Twenty copper coins was not a lot of money, but it was enough to exchange for her first silver coin. She smiled. Her first silver coin. Another nineteen and she could buy her freedom and leave the castle. How long would it take? She didn’t know. She tried to do some calculations in her head but there were so many variables. She earned fifteen copper coins a week as a sclava for Lord Cala. But it cost her five copper coins for her room and the food she ate. Then there was the cost of new clothes from time to time. And also the cost of any punishments.
Ryann balled up her fists and tried to let the memory of Megan’s beating wash over her. It would probably cost Megan three coins for her disobedience. And it would have cost Ryann too, if she had been found. She sighed. She ought to give Megan one of her copper coins toward her punishment. That would make it nineteen left and then she wouldn’t have enough for her first silver coin.
“Maybe a year,” she said out loud. Maybe she would have enough money saved up after another year. If she was lucky and if she was careful. She prayed she would be lucky. She didn’t want to end up like some of the other sclavas who were stuck in the castle for life, never able to pay off their debts.
Ryann got to her feet and wandered back to Megan’s room and looked inside. “You alright?”
Megan looked up from the bed, still lying on her stomach, and nodded. “I’ll be okay.”
Ryann crossed over to Megan and sat next to her on the bed. “I’m sorry I haven’t got anything I can put on your back. But maybe cook will have something a little later.” Ryann wiped her hand across Megan’s face and brushed back some hair from Megan’s eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for not giving me away.”
Megan gave a half-smile. “You would’ve done the same for me.”
“That doesn’t make it any easier. You know that. And next time don’t follow me. You’re too young to get into trouble like this.”
“I just want to be free and to get out of the castle,” Megan whispered. “I hate it here.”
“I know you do. I hate it too. We all hate it. But getting into trouble just means it will take you longer to buy your freedom.”
“We ain’t never going to buy our freedom, Ree. Not ever.”
Ryann ran a hand through Megan’s hair. “Hush. Don’t say that, Megan. It’s the only way I get through every day here. I live in the hope that one day, one day, I’ll earn enough money to buy my freedom.”
ABOUT PAUL DORSET
Paul Dorset was born in Poole, Dorset in England in 1960 but has been living in America since 1995. He has been writing for many years and some of his early works were published in ‘teen advice’ columns. He has also had many technical articles published, mostly in the field of Computing.
Paul currently lives in the Pacific Northwest but has traveled extensively and worked many times with teens and youth groups. It is this background combined with a vivid imagination that has enabled him to weave a tapestry of magic into complete novels. His first epic fantasy series, aimed at young adults, is entitled ‘The Southern Lands’. However, the storyline is more than exciting enough to keep adults turning pages as the story unfolds.
Paul is a father of five who has worked as a computer consultant for more than 30 years. His publications include fantasy novels for ages 12-plus, how-to books for adults, and dark paranormal thrillers for ages 16+. He incorporates his extensive experience in computers – and his insightful perspective on the possibilities therein – in novels that include layers of contemporary intrigue, romance and mystery. You can follow his blog at http://blog.pauldorset.com
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PAUL DORSET AND TO BUY HIS BOOKS
Links to purchase book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/207980 (FREE on Smashwords – but it costs $0.99 on Amazon)