"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Okay, pick this apart like good little boys and girls. This is from my novel “If Truth Dies” and is third in my lycan blood series.
Brother Malcolm was a wiry, energetic wolf from the Monastery of St. Albans who had been assigned to Father Gileaus as an aide. He wore his hair trimmed neatly level with the bottom of his earlobes and tonsured. A member of the Order of St. Tarmus, devoted to the preservation of history and literature, he wore a forest green robe and hooded cowl symbolizing his devotion to the natural world. A wide leather belt cinched his waist, holding his pouches; and a prayer belt of carved wooden beads in the form of scrolls and books rested around his hips. His ‘runes’ of Willodarus and Tala hung on a slender chain around his neck. The long straps of a pair of satchels crisscrossed his lean chest and a large knapsack rested on his back.
He stood at the side of Blacktooth Falls, watching the rushing waters. The ferry was on the other side, and knowing Gavin MacLoud, it was probably there for the day. MacLoud enjoyed sitting in the taverns, gossiping and drinking at every opportunity.
He glanced up at the rope bridge suspended between two towering chestnut trees and considered it. A merchants consortium had built the rope bridge and maintained it for the purpose of sending someone over on foot to drag MacLoud out of the taverns when they needed the ferry.
Malcolm felt thankful that he had chosen to come on foot and could use the bridge without having to abandon a horse. He fiddled with the end of his belt of beads and seeds.
Grasping the stout rope ladder, he tested it, knowing that it paid to be careful and remembering the nasty prank that the Brownlea cubs had once played on Eldeward Gooseberry by cutting through the ropes at the top. Malcolm climbed quickly despite the weight he carried and scrambled onto the bridge. Wooden planks, fastened to the rope frame, creaked beneath his feet and the bridge swayed under his weight as he crossed. Despite years of using the bridge, it still filled his stomach with butterflies to see the swift water frothing around the scattered stones beneath him.
Once on the other side, Brother Malcolm leaned against the base of a broad oak tree and waited for his legs to realize they were on solid ground again. Then he scampered down the road toward Chandler’s Rock.
He reached Chandler’s Rock as dusk settled in and headed for the Broken Wheel Inn owned by Lily Maguire, which she ran with the aid of her two sons. If there was a Kynyr Maguire in Chandler’s Rock, the old Widow Maguire would know where to find him.
Chandler’s Rock was the largest town in Red Wolf because it nestled in the foothills of a spur of the Iradrim Mountains with a bend in the Eirlys River where it widened enough to allow water-going traffic. Two hundred years ago, the town was a small trading post and now it bristled with travelers and merchants coming from Iradrim, Waejontor, and the Aluintri Mar’ajanate of Shaurone as well as the towns and villages of Red Wolf and MacLachlan.
The Broken Wheel stood three stories high, painted white with a brown trim. Flower beds and trees graced the yard. Brother Malcolm entered the pleasant, white-washed interior of the Common Room and sat down at a square table near the bar.
Esyllit Maguire, a pretty bitch with light brown hair and a sweet smile, came to his table. “What will you have?”
“Ale. I need to speak with your Gram, if I may?” He extended a coin to her.
Esyllit refused his coin with a shake of her head and made the sign of the bear. “Your presence blesses us, Brother Malcolm. I’ll tell Gram you wish to speak with her.”
Lily Maguire hobbled in on her cane, looking more frail and fragile than ever. Her face crinkled into a mass of wrinkles and folds as she lowered herself smiling into a chair across from Brother Malcolm and her granddaughter set a tankard of ale in front of him. “Heavens smile upon you, Brother Malcolm.”
“And may they smile upon you also, Widow Maguire.”
“I’m a hundred and thirty-three years old, and the feeling in my bones tells me I’ve seen my last spring.”
“Willodarus will take you in his arms and hold you dear, Widow Maguire.”
“To be sure. I’ve been a gods-loving bitch all my life. How may I help you?”
“I bear a letter for one Kynyr Maguire. I believe it to be a plea for assistance as the original bearer was shot dead by a sa’necari.”
A frown deepened the lines around her mouth. “Sa’necari don’t shoot.”
“This one did.”
“How odd.” She tapped a finger to her lips. “There is a Kynyr Maguire in Chandler’s Rock, but he’s nearly as old as I am. He was a carpenter until his arthritis got bad.”
“I doubt he’s the one.”
“Agreed. You should speak to Gowan Maguire in Fifeshire. He’s my cousin, fathered a large brood, and outlived three wives. If anyone would know this Kynyr, it’s Gowan.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Will you overnight here and breakfast with my family? We would consider ourselves blessed by your presence, Brother Malcolm.”
* * * *