Thursday 21 November 2013

Escape Publishing Birthday Book Excerpt & Giveaway - Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake

As part of my week-long celebration of Escape Publishing's 1st birthday (and the special giveaway!), I'm thrilled to share an extract from Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake....

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why...

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

Want to win a copy of this book and others? Then visit my Giveaway

Chapter 1
“Evelyn… Evelyn …,” the light‐as‐air voice whispers on the breeze.
My shoulders tense and burn as I continue holding my bow at the ready. Sure, it is a lovely voice, but I cannot see where it is coming from and I am too far from civilization for anyone to know my name.
The voice continues calling, gradually growing louder, until even the birds and forest animals come out to see what is going on. Usually the creatures hide from unknown things but for some reason they are just as drawn to the voice as I am.
“Show yourself,” I whisper as the voice echoes through the trees. I had asked the voice to do this when it appeared before without garnering any results. I honestly do not think I will get an answer this time, either.
But, then … there! What is that?
I see the whisper of gossamer and a flash of dark blue slip through the trees. Finally I have something and I race towards it, gripping my bow and arrow.
Though running, I am able to keep my eyes on the fleeing fabric as I automatically jump over rocks and dodge branches that I know already are there, my soft leather boots making no sound. Soon the dense trees begin to thin out and I am able to make out more of what I am chasing. It is not just fabric, it is a person — a woman — wearing a dress made out of a thin substance that glistens like the stars. Even though she is finally standing still, the fabric continues to move, swirling around her legs. The blue I had seen was actually her hair, tumbling in loose thick waves down her back, and the colour is so dark it is almost black.
She is not facing me, but is looking out over the river. Normally at this time of the year the river is loud and frantic, finally free of winter’s ice, but right now it is calm and peaceful. I can almost hear it whispering to us, but cannot make out the words. I look at the woman.
Who is she that even the river acts out of reverence?
“Evelyn,” the woman starts singing again.
I attempt to move, to draw closer to her, to see her face. It takes me a moment to realise that my body is not responding to my commands. I stand frozen with my mind screaming at my body, “Move!” Every muscle tenses again, hearing the warning and wanting to flee.
“It is almost time, Evelyn.” She draws out my name in that sing‐song voice of hers.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Now that I have finally seen her, I want answers. I do not know who she is, but I keep my voice firm, not letting her know how much her presence unsettles me.
“It is almost time …”
“Almost time for what?” Despite my efforts, impatience permeates my voice. I have never been good at playing the mind games women are accustomed to, a fact my parents have tried to remedy with little success.
“It is time,” her voice drifts away as she dissolves into mist. “You do not know … are … it is time … home.”
She slowly begins to turn towards me, so transparent I can no longer make out her features. She raises a slender hand to brush the hair from her face and is gone.
My diluted scream rasps in my throat as something warm and soft covers my face. Soon the warmth becomes oppressive and I feel the earth’s yearning to swallow me whole. I close my eyes tightly.
What is happening to me?
The warmth spreads through my body, thickening and suffocating. I take one last deep breath as the ground disappears from beneath me and I drop.
I wake with a start. My entire body is cold and I am gulping air so hard my lungs feel as though they are pierced with ice. I am still lying under my cloak, although it is soaked through. In fact, all of my clothes are soaked through; even the grass beneath me is wet and has begun to stick to my backside.
Brushing the leaves off me I stand, shaking, and survey my campsite. Expecting my soaked backside to be the result of a typical wet English spring morning, I am surprised to see that everything is dry and how I left it. The only difference is Marrakesh is not tied where I had left her. My heart immediately jumps in anxious fear. Where could she have gone?
Instantly I note the crunch of leaves behind me and sense hot breath on my neck. The engraving on my dagger’s ridges dig into my skin as I grip it tightly, turning slowly around.
“Marra,” I breathe.
Sliding the dagger back into its sheath, I look into the eyes of my Arabian mare. She has always looked more intelligent than any animal I have met and in her eyes now is a look of concern and anxiety. She softly nuzzles my shoulder and buries her nose in my hair. She takes a few delicate sniffs and, seeming satisfied that I am not hurt, lets out a soft whinny and slowly pads back to the wild berries she has neatly collected into a pile. I watch her lovingly as the dawn glistens off her white speckled back.
“What would I ever do without you, love?”
As fond memories of our time growing up together flow idly into my mind, I bend to pick up my bow and quiver and hear a twig snap about ten paces ahead of me. I freeze.
From the corner of my eye, I look at Marra. Her ears are twitching in recognition of the sound, but she never lifts her head from her breakfast. I slowly raise myself and peer around the trees. I see a flash of white and then it is gone.
Could it be?
Setting off at a sprint, the birds and forest creatures scatter in my wake, some chattering madly at being woken up or disturbed at their breakfast. Silently slipping through the trees, I soon realise that this is not the same figure from my dreams. This creature has horns the colour of buttercream and dainty hooves that are quite nimble. Occasionally I lose sight of the stag, but continue to track it…now, this game, I can play.

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