Houston Havens

Featuring The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi ~ @AuthorLRossi

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Luca-Rossi---The---Branches---of---Time---coverblurbThe population of the island of Turios is mercilessly exterminated by the workings of black magic. Only Bashinoir, badly wounded, his wife Lil, and the Priestess Miril have survived. Determined to give their loved ones a worthy burial, the three soon discover that the corpses have disappeared. Their only hope for salvation now lies in the magical protection of the Temple, as sinister threats continue to pursue them. A shadow spreads over their hearts, dividing and destroying them, as their bodies appear to be fading away. Feeling increasingly isolated, Bashinoir watches as the two women grow closer…

In the Kingdom of Isk, wizards and wisemen alike must bow down before the insatiable King Beanor, whose greed for power and war is matched only by his hunger for sex. A young woman he has chosen as his next bride does not, however, wish to surrender her freedom to love and live. Will games and tricks under the sheets turn the tide in a war that has lasted thousands of years?

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authorbioResearch, science, science fiction and high technology: this is the world of Luca Rossi, and the main themes that run through his literary work.

He believes the internet provides a tool to bring people together and make the world a more open, fair and democratic place.

In 2013 he published Galactic Energies, a collection of short stories set in a universe where not just the laws of physics, but also the laws of eros, passion, desire and the spirit are a little different than our own.

He was born in Turin on April 15th, 1977. He likes to ride his bike, take walks through nature and spend most of his free time with his family

Buy Link

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L3PI7AG/&tag=lucros-20

excerpt

Three Chapters

Chapter 1

Why does she keep flirting with that moron? wondered Bashinoir, the best man.

Ignoring her husband’s disapproving looks, Lil continued trading coy smiles with Anodil, a man ten years younger, standing tall in his handsome green suit.

“…to be your lawfully wedded husband?” asked the priest.

The pure white snow fell softly over the guests and the trees of the forest. Several women shivered from the cold. The freezing temperature didn’t seem to bother Lil.

All of a sudden a mass of dark shapes darted through the snowflakes. The priest stopped in mid-sentence. Bashinoir watched him waver and then fall backwards, his forehead split open by a sharp shard of stone. A shower of razor-sharp pieces of rock hammered down over the guests. Covering his head with his cape, Bashinoir ran towards his wife.

Men, women and children fell to the ground. The blood seeped through the snow, forming red haloes around the cadavers. Bashinoir grabbed his wife’s hand and continued running, pulling her behind him. She tripped and fell. Bashinoir picked her up, lifted her over his shoulder, covered her with his cape and dashed towards a gully in the rock. It was just big enough for Lil to take shelter, as her husband protected her by stretching his own body over the opening. A vortex of screams, wails and sobs whirled behind them. A shard lodged itself into Bashinoir’s calf. The blood began gushing out of the wound.

The voices grew quiet. The shower of rock shards had stopped. Bashinoir lifted his head and studied the area around him. “No, don’t look up,” he ordered his trembling wife. Bodies were stretched out all over the ground, torn to shreds and floating in a lake of blood.

Bashinoir helped Lil to her feet. She pressed her head against his shoulder, covering her eyes with her hands. Husband and wife headed towards the Temple. He was limping. They passed by a shapeless hunk of flesh, wrapped in a green garment soaked in blood. Bashinoir held his lady even closer. They reached the sacred building. Standing in the doorway, the priestess Miril observed the massacre.

“Black magic has fallen upon our island,” she said. “Come in.”

“Did any others survive?” Bashinoir asked in a weak voice.

“No. Just you.”

The three huddled around the sacred fire. They were the last inhabitants of the frigid island of Turios.

Chapter 2

None of the three wanted to break the silence. Despite the sacred fire, they didn’t feel the tiniest bit of warmth.

Bashinoir stared at the flame. He observed Lil’s face out of the corner of his eye. She was staring at the ground, still trembling slightly. Tears streamed down her face. Bashinoir thought about young Anodil. A surge of jealousy shot through his body, yet he immediately repressed it. He wanted her to explain why.

No, it’s not the right time, he reasoned. He couldn’t let jealousy get the better of him right now. In his mind’s eye, he watched the shards of rock fall from the clouds yet again. The priestess had said something about black magic. But why? What did we do to deserve so much cruelty?

Lil couldn’t hold back her tears, though she wanted to put up a brave front. I have nothing left. Everything’s gone. They’re all dead. My island no longer has a future, she agonized.

Friends, relatives, parents. The blood of everyone she loved had  poured into that red lake staining the snow outside of the Temple. When they walked to the Temple through the expanse of cadavers, not a single moan had come from that pile of bodies without souls.

Alone!

There were just three of them left now, on an island forgotten by both humans and gods. “Maybe…maybe we should go back and see if anyone survived,” she suggested through her sobs.

The priestess and Bashinoir looked at her. Neither said a word. Bashinoir thought about what he had seen in the snow as he and Lil headed to the Temple. The cadavers on the frozen blanket of snow were nothing more than shapeless heaps. The pointed shards had lacerated their limbs and torn strips of their flesh away. They no longer looked like human beings. No, none of them had made it out. Bashinoir didn’t want Lil to go back and see those bodies again. He would rather wait for the following day to go out and burn them himself, alone. He silently hoped it wouldn’t snow much over night: then it would be easier to bring the bodies to a woodpile and burn what remained of the people he had shared his life with.

Absorbed in his own thoughts, he absentmindedly sighed, sadly: “Ah…”

The priestess noticed Bashinoir was still losing blood from the wound on his calf.

“Bashinoir, come with me. We have to dress your wound. We need to find a warmer place. After we take care of your leg, we’ll try to eat something.” She knew none of them would be able to swallow anything down.

Bashinoir, supported by his wife, followed the priestess. He had never before been granted entry into the Temple quarters.

“Wait. Just a minute. I need to see something. Don’t move. I’ll be right back,” the man said.

Lil and the priestess watched him limp away.

Outside, the snowfall had grown into a blizzard that blocked the weak light of dusk from shining through. Bashinoir could barely see his hands in front of his face. The blood stains had already been covered by a new layer of snow. He noticed the depressions created where the bodies had fallen to the ground. But where are the bodies now? Where could they have gone? He groped his way through the storm and reached the nearest depression.

He knelt down, feeling around the snow with his bare hands. No, it wasn’t an illusion. The body had disappeared.

Could it have been blown away by the wind? Impossible!

He searched around the stain, looking for marks or signs that it had been dragged away. But he didn’t find a thing.

How much time had they spent in the Temple, standing around the sacred fire? If anyone had survived, there’s no way they would have had time to drag away all of the cadavers. There weren’t any footsteps, either.

He stood up, looking for another depression. Nothing, no bodies. Exhausted and in pain, he continued searching. He fell down to the ground, then pulled himself back up. He knew he was still losing blood. He stumbled towards the trees. He peered into the forest but couldn’t make out a thing.

I need to go back to the Temple. Now.

He turned around and headed back. A few yards away from the entrance, he fell to his knees. He tried to get back up, but his legs no longer obeyed him.

“Come, Bashinoir,” the priestess whispered. Her silhouette blurred into the flurries swirling around in front of him. Then everything went black.

Chapter 3

“Close the door and come help me,” the priestess Miril ordered Lil. Struggling with the man’s weight, they carried him to a room adjacent to the entrance and stretched him out on his stomach over a skin that covered the floor. The priestess removed his boots and pants. Lil tried to hide how awkward she felt.

The wound was very deep. Miril left the room and came back with a small box. Once the wound was cleaned, she took out a needle and thread and started to stitch the skin back together. Then she covered her handiwork with a bandage.

“Listen, Lil. We won’t be able to carry him to another room.” She told Lil where to find wood and the other skins. Lil left, coming back with what they needed a few moments later. They lit a fire in the hearth and created a bed with the remaining skins. Bashinoir’s forehead was burning. “I’ll go make him an infusion. Wait for me here.”

On her way back, as she passed by the entryway, a strong gust of wind slammed against the heavy wooden door, blowing it open. The storm invaded the foyer. The priestess stopped, stunned.

“What happened?” Lil asked, rushing over. She followed the direction of the priestess’ gaze. Lil turned towards the open door. The two women stood as if they were waiting for someone or something to come in. “Help me close it,” Miril urged her.

Staring at the door panel opened to the right, the priestess moved forward. Lil paused for a few seconds, then, her eyes locked on the opening, imitated Miril with nervous, cautious steps, heading instead towards the left panel. As she pushed, she felt as if invisible hands on the other side of the panel were exerting a pressure against her. That’s impossible. I’m just tired. And yet it seemed as if Miril was struggling as well. We’re women, this is the kind of thing you need a man’s muscles for. The focused, tenacious eyes of the priestess gave her the energy she needed to dig her heels in and push. Her body shook, her muscles screamed, but finally the panel yielded shut, just as Miril also succeeded in overpowering the other panel.

Could that wooden barrier keep them safe? Could it really protect them from the evil that had devastated their home on that ill-omened day?

Lil tried hard to convince herself that they were safe now.

 

Miril and Lil looked after Bashinoir until, exhausted, they collapsed onto the cushions arranged in front of the fire. His fever was under control. The wound had stopped bleeding. He was breathing normally.

“Priestess, can I ask you something?”

“Miril. Call me Miril. There are so few of us left. Perhaps formalities are no longer necessary.”

Lil couldn’t hide her astonishment. A distant and inaccessible figure, the priestess had always embodied mystery. Lil had only come close to her during the most important rituals. They said she spent most her life shut up in the Temple. Whenever she left, searching for some plant or mineral, Lil would watch the priestess walk along the paths of the island, alone. Nobody dared say anything to her. The Elders called upon her from time to time to settle disputes they were unable to resolve themselves. The priestess’ judgment was always accepted with absolute obedience.

Rather abashed, Lil continued: “M-Miril, I wanted to ask you, if you could tell me, what do you think…what happened?”

Miril studied the girl’s black eyes. Lil felt her gaze penetrate deep into her soul. It seemed as if the priestess had only then noticed her presence.

She really is gorgeous, Miril mused. It was hardly surprising that most of the island had admired this maiden’s attributes. Her limbs were perfectly proportioned. Her complexion was dark, her frame petite. The contours of her face were flawless, and her dark hair spilled down over her shoulders in graceful curls.

“I’m sorry, Lil. I don’t have an answer yet. I sensed a very strong black magic. I doubt the wizards of Isk are able to manipulate that kind of energy or command the elements so effectively. Yet…I still don’t have an explanation.”

Miril felt slightly guilty. There was so much more she could have told Lil, but only she and the priest could know those secrets. Since their people had come to the island two thousand years ago, the priests were responsible for handing down the truth of their past. The Elders, however, told the people only part of what had happened through a few different legends. The truth was too dangerous. They were convinced that ignorance of their own past would protect them, allow them to build their new homes and continue on with their new lives.

But now something had gone terribly wrong.

Did our protections fail? What can I tell her? Miril wondered, as the girl’s questioning eyes peered at her.

“Lil, do you know why our people live on this island?”

“I know that our forefathers came here from far, far away, because the land where they lived before was freezing,” Lil rattled off unceremoniously.

“That part is true. The Northern lands were no longer habitable, so our ancestors traveled over the seas to find a new place to live. When they found this island, they decided to settle down and prosper. What else do you know?”

“Not much. The Elders don’t like it when people talk too much about the past. They say it’s better to focus on our work.”

“Lil, what you know is the truth. But it’s only a part of the truth. The rest is not so easy to explain.”

Behind them, Bashinoir stirred. Miril and Lil went to his side. His forehead was burning. His fever had returned.

The priestess quickly left the room to prepare another infusion. Lil wiped the sweat from her husband’s forehead. Upon Miril’s return, they woke him up so he could drink. Bashinoir moaned. He tried to speak but was only able to grunt. Miril and Lil continued tending to him until the fever came down once again.

Finally, in the darkest hours of the night, the two women barely had enough strength left to drag the cushions in front of the fire. The priestess didn’t want to return to her own quarters and leave the man and woman alone.

“Lil, take these cushions and put them a few feet away from the fire. We can sleep here tonight. Tomorrow we’ll try to carry Bashinoir to a more comfortable place.”

Lil did as she was told. Miril headed towards the cushions, carrying a skin. It was the only one left in that room. She gestured for Lil to lie down next to her. Somewhat reluctant, Lil stretched out along the priestess’ side. Again, she felt embarrassed, but soon the fatigue accumulated during that long day came over her and she fell asleep.

Miril admired the perfect lines of Lil’s face.

How could something like this have happened? She had never felt an energy as strong as the one she had felt that day. There was no question in her mind that the dark influence had come from the Northern lands. So they hadn’t stopped looking for them after all. After so many years, the lords of those lands still nourished an insatiable thirst for revenge.

I need to get some sleep. The next few days are going to be very long indeed. She glanced over at Lil’s face once again. She really is beautiful, she thought.

 

 

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Author: houstonhavens

Houston Havens is an international and national Best Seller of Romance from erotic to main steam. Reviewers say her books are 5 star quality and should be the next block buster movie of the year!

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