Monday, April 8, 2013

The Bedtime Story: An Early Prologue to EXILE, by Betsy Dornbusch

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Betsy Dornbush to the Rock, where we’re in for a treat! She’s sharing The Bedtime Story: An Early Prologue to Exile – a companion piece to her book series that begins with Exile, the First Book of the Seven Eyes.

In Exile, Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when he is falsely condemned for the grisly murder of his beloved wife, he is banished from the kingdom and cast upon the distant shore of Akrasia, at the arse-end of the world.

Compared to civilized Monoea, Akrasia is a forbidding land of Moonlings, magic, and restless spirits. It is also a realm on the brink of a bloody revolution, as a sinister conspiracy plots against Akrasia’s embattled young queen–and malevolent banes possess the bodies of the living.

Consumed by grief, and branded a murderer, Draken lives only to clear his name and avenge his wife’s murder. But the fates may have bigger plans for him. Alone in a strange land, he soon finds himself sharing the bed of an enigmatic necromancer and a half-breed servant girl, while pressed into the service of a foreign queen whose life and land may well depend on the divided loyalties of an exiled warrior...

Let me tell you a bit about Betsy.

Betsy Dornbusch is a writer and editor. Her short fiction has appeared in print and online venues such as Sinister Tales, Big Pulp, Story Portal, and Spinetingler, as well as the anthologies Tasty Little Tales and Deadly by the Dozen. She's been an editor with the ezine Electric Spec for six years and regularly speaks at fan conventions and writers' conferences. She's the sole proprietor of Sex Scenes at Starbucks where you can believe most of what she writes. In her free time, she snowboards, air jams at punk rock concerts, and has just started following Rockies baseball, of all things.

And now, without further ado, I give you:

The Bedtime Story: An Early Prologue to Exile, by Betsy Dornbusch

Drae pulled the rough blanket up to his chin as his father talked and shifted so the straw didn’t poke his side as bad. He scratched his head. The cook had clipped all the knotted braids out of his hair again and his head felt funny without them. He bet the Prince never got knots in his hair. It was fine and straight, the color of sunlight.

“And the blood, boy, I tell you, it liked to never stop. It ran down the cliffs like a river, into Moon Bay, as it was called in those days, the blood of ten thousand people, twenty thousand maybe. Even babies, like yourself.”

I’m not a baby, Drae thought. I’m six. But he didn’t dare say it out loud.

“Those Akrasians screamed behind me as I ran.” Drae’s father scowled. “They line their eyes after the habit of their damned goddess Ma’Vanni. Make them look like demons. Fair frightening they are, too, when they come at you with swords and murder in their hearts.”

Drae shrank back—not at the boom of his father’s voice, but at the big hand as it swept the air over his head. This was the most exciting part of the story, but he never knew what his father might do when he got to it.

“But I was to the tunnels by then. I heard creak of the chains. The whole place stunk like sweat and blood. My men were hauling the gates up, some of them injured. I took my father’s boat—the one he never let me captain. He was past caring by now, being dead. Fifteen oars a side and a whip-man; we were away before the Akrasian scum even knew we had boats hidden in those caves.” His father got a far-away look.

“And then what happened?” Drae whispered. His voice felt heavy in his throat. They’d left all those people to die…

“The men rowed hard with the current and it runs strong on the Erros. The whip at their backs helped. Bastards shot a thousand arrows at us—my own man Halmar rowed with one in his shoulder for an hour. But we got to safety. We got to … here.” Drae’s father paused to lick his teeth like he had a bad taste in his mouth. He stared through the shuttered window over Drae’s head.

Drae hated that window. It sat low over the moat, low enough he could reach out and touch the water if he wanted. Not that he did. His father said errings swam in the moat and looked through the window at night, searching for awake little boys. They’d make a meal of him if he ever got off his straw pile in the corner before morning. Errings didn’t much like straw, Drae reckoned.

His father sighed. “There’s magic in the world, Drae, and some say it’s grand. But it’s a cold, black magic that keeps a man from his homeland. You’ll go back someday, swear it to me.”

“I swear, but Father, there’s no such thing as magicks.” And this was just a story. His father had said that before, laughed over it.

His father frowned. Drae flinched, but couldn’t dodge the slap. His father’s meaty hand caught him on the temple and ear. Blinded by pain and humiliation—not tears, never tears—Drae pulled the blanket over his head and huddled in a little ball, tightening his spine against the next blow. But the weight of his father’s body shifted away. Soon after, he heard a muffled scream from a maid, then some thumping and grunting at the other end of the kitchen. Drae kept his eyes squeezed tight.

When Drae woke the next morning, his father was gone to his duties for the day. Drae was disappointed. He wanted to tell his father he hadn’t bawled, not once, not even when he’d heard the youngest maid sobbing in the pantry all night.


Thank you for sharing The Bedtime Story with us Betsy! 

You can learn more about Betsy and her writing on her website or on Electric Spec's website.  Plus, here's a link to an excerpt (Chapter One) of Exile, and links to the Broadway Book Mall and Amazon, where it's available now!

Janet Fogg
Janet is the author of Soliloquy, an award-winning historical romance, and co-author of the military history best seller, Fogg in the Cockpit.

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