Beads of sweat rolled into my eyes, and I used the back of my wrist to wipe my forehead as I continued to cut flesh from the lamb’s carcass. The task became difficult as my knife had dulled over the years, and there was no way to sharpen the blade. Scraping it over a rock seemed to make it worse, not better. Taking the animals thumped guilt into my heart, but I didn’t think that the people in the valley would miss them much and I was tired of eating fish. Only once had one of them ventured anywhere near my cave, but he never came close enough to find the bough-covered entrance. I hid, just like my mother said to do. The man soon left, but I’d stayed hidden for hours.
Rumbling filled my belly, and I sliced at the flesh with greater determination. Figuring out how to make fire had come naturally. As for the rest of it—what my parents could do, but I had not yet learned—well, Mama and Papa were not here to teach me. And besides, Mama said to keep it hidden. Some, especially the Brethren, would kill us for what we were.
“Mama said to hide.” I spoke out loud to myself. It had been a long time since I’d heard another voice, but at least I could hear my own. My cave was too far from the valley to hear the people there. The few times I ventured close to the hamlet, I heard their language was not my own native tongue. Suspecting I had lost some words, I spoke more often now, and practised all the languages I knew in order to not forget more, and so my throat wouldn’t lose the ability to speak. I talked to Mama and Papa, wishing they were here. I visited Mama out there in the woods.
Just bones now. I had taken the arrow out of her ribs, broke off the shaft, and wore the arrowhead on a cord woven with her hair. It was my way of taking my mother with me, keeping her close.
Heat flushed my forehead. That had been happening more often lately. Despite the warmth in my brow, I shivered. Waves of dizziness washed over me. I finished with the lamb and cleaned the knife on a bit of parchment, one of several scraps I found floating down from the sky one day. A piece had drifted across my face, and I glanced up to see what appeared to be a book flying by. The dropped parchment was no less strange: ornate script scribbled all over in green ink. I had grown tired of trying to decipher the bizarre symbols, many of which different than any of the languages I had learned to read, and found other uses for the parchment pieces.
And now I used another sheet as a mop for my sweating head.
Sitting back on my heels, I clutched the arrowhead in my fist. Once more the events of that long-ago day forced themselves into my mind. That terrible day when a man appeared on the ridge. The sun behind cast him in silhouette, and we could not see his face. He wore the dull robes of the Brethren. They billowed, though there was no breeze.
His limbs writhed and twisted and cloth rent as wings thrust out, the man’s body distorting until it resolved into a white wyrm, like a dragon but certainly not a dragon. A foul stench emanated from the beast, and I started to gag.
I saw my father struggling. I knew what he was trying to do, but he could not do it. I knew why my mother could not do it right now but why couldn’t my father? Before they had a chance to ready weapons, the wyrm flapped its leathery wings and issued a bone-jarring shriek. Lightning spewing from its terrible maw, past its narrow, gleaming teeth. That creature took flight, swooped down, snatched up my father in its talons, and carried him away.
“Teban!” My mother screamed my father’s name over and over that the word may reach his ears and give him hope. She fell to her knees, wracked with cries of anguish. Clasping me tightly, she held me for what seemed like a long time, both of us sobbing violently. At last, she gained control of her breath and said, “Quosa, I must go after him. I will get your father back. You must hide.” She stood, and shaking her head, she said, “It must be because of the signatures. That’s why he couldn’t—” Her words broke off as we saw another one of the Brethren approach. She screamed, “Hide!” as the man loosed the arrow that lodged in the middle of her chest.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a member of an organization called the Order of Paladins. Their precepts inspired me to write a series. Each precept provides the theme of each novel. I had the idea for the world and some characters since 2008, but the precepts of the Order gave me the inspiration for Arrow’s Flight.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
I learned so much that I don’t have the space to list it all here. The theme of Arrow’s Flight is Know Thyself, which sounds simple, but is more complex than it seems on the surface. I had to understand a lot about myself in order to write the book.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
Once I had the chance to sit down and write uninterrupted, it surprised me how the ideas flowed through my mind and onto the page. The flood gates of creativity opened, and ideas poured out. I takes me a while to get into that state of mind, but once I do, I can’t stop writing until I get the whole scene or chapter down.
4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
I would be a spoiler to say too much, but Arrow’s Flight has layers of meaning that should become apparent as the reader progresses in the story.
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Risto was partly inspired by my husband, and he knows. Vinnelar was also inspired by Tim’s mischievous side, too.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
There are lessons and morals to Arrow’s Flight, but I’ve tried not to be heavy-handed or preachy about it. I hope the book makes people think.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
Well, of course all of it’s my favorite, but I admit to being partial to the bit with the mitten seller.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Philiah was a challenge because I don’t like mean people, and let’s face it, she is the girl who picked on us all in middle school! Farrimond was also a challenge because he disgusts me and the inspiration for him came from every nasty person I’ve met.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
I’m going to write a short story to offer as a freebie when people sign up for my newsletter. And, oh, I should probably learn how to create a newsletter. I also plan to write novellas set in the same world as the Arrow’s Flight; the themes for those will com from the Code of Chivalry. Then, I’m going to get started on the next novel in the series.