Extract: Chapter One

As it’s the time for giving, here’s an extract from the first chapter of Everborne. I’d love to say I wrote this back in September, with months of reflection and hardly any revisions made since, but the truth is I re-wrote Chapter One only the other week, and this is my new opening. As with any opening, my focus was to instantly grab the reader and have them asking: what happens next? I need to know! It would be great to hear whether or not you think I achieved this, and any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, and Merry Christmas, Tom.

Chapter One

The Newcomer

1

You would spend a long time searching along the veiny maze of vertical paths cut into the cliff, only to end up lost and not just stuck but utterly screwed. It is not uncommon to find the sun-sucked bones of shattered, scattered skeletons a thousand feet below the forest-frosted peak that points away.

Daily rains lash slanted arrows that aim for the eyes and summon fog. A slick sandstone surface would be the least of your troubles, as sudden waterfalls appear in spears of spurting water, turning paths at random into rapids. Perhaps it’s the one you’re on, a hundred feet up. Or, maybe, it’s one of the indistinguishable few that end not with a gaping view of foggy, shrunken forest, but at the plateau’s peak, where the land is shaped like the reverse side of a round shield and bounded by sheer, overhanging cliffs. Several hundred uninterrupted feet down, a restraining neckline of rain-drowned, wind-blasted bushes flops guarded fans of green over the plateau as it strikes out in sharp angles, like the warning thrusts of a pike.

You can forget the five finger-like pillars that adjoin dwarfingly in the north. They are inaccessible from the forest floor. On one of the outermost fingers, a fire can be seen notched in the night, if it is dry and clear, like a distant comet trapped with its tail licking high above its smudged, blazing core.

The newcomer survived the climb, arriving in the night of a world already changed, a hooded and cloaked harbinger of the change to come. A voice not the newcomer’s own had said Reach them before it arrives. There is still time. They must be warned.

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