Apologies for the earlier version of this post which I’d copied from the beta version of the book, not the final.
I’ve been too lax in promoting my novel so for those still thinking about it, I hope these two excerpts will nudge you into getting it. The first is mainly narrative and the second, dialogue. Hope you enjoy.
Excerpt 1 (location; Hadiz beneath Mt. Sabinyo)
One might think it is easy to prepare for something they expect; to brace themselves against foreseen misfortunes, or to open the door to likely possibilities. And yet it is these expected things, good or bad, that dwell in our subconscious, ultimately festering into our deepest fears.
The Chamber of the Veil was one such expected thing. In the past year alone, Kamau had gone through countless guidelines and simulations. But even then he’d wondered why there were no testimonies from those who’d crossed before. And the more he prepared, the deeper his anxiety became.
As soon as he stepped into the chamber, Kamau realised how inadequate his preparations had been. The air was devoid of all smell and taste. The wind was mournful and the darkness sentient, of an ancient origin, watchful. But worst of all was the cold; a chill that seeped into flesh and soaked through bone, reaching for his soul; for his tether to life. Kamau froze, unable to breathe.
For any but the Hadiza, this cold was fatal. They alone were born with a spark that ignites and evicts it. Kamau’s spark flared for the very first time, a warmth that wrapped him in a halo of protection. He sighed deeply with relief.
Commander Nakai stood waiting for him, her gold fur-linings and bracelets glistening, face stolid.
The chamber was immense in all proportions, and yet Kamau felt like he was in a massive bubble detached from the world he knew. Lofty stalactites threatened from above. There were no glowing crystals here; instead eerie green fires were scattered every few lengths; barely enough for even the Hadiza’s gifted sight.
As they descended a winding path, Kamau tried to maintain the cold indifference crucial for any who ventured into the chamber. He did not flinch at the grotesque stone carvings of ancient beasts; some tall as giraffes while others were crawling serpentine terrors.
He did not marvel at the Guardians all around, dressed in black leather kilts; the men’s bicep rings, women’s fur-linings and bracelets, all glowed like silver fireflies in the darkness. Some were running drills with astonishing speed and dexterity while others lounged on boulders watching him and the commander walk by. Everywhere the commander passed, the Guardians would spring to attention, stomping one foot in salute.
Kamau barely stifled a gasp when a purple spirit floated through him, oozing a horrid sweat that trickled and vanished just before hitting the ground. It left a sweet rot in its wake as it floated up to the commander. She inclined her ear, listening to its mouthless whisper. She nodded curtly and then watched it fade into the gloom.
“Nasir is coming,” she muttered.
Before these words registered in his mind, they had skirted the wings of a large stone hawk and here, Kamau’s eyes widened. A gothic arch loomed into view, tall as a eucalyptus tree, wide as five men abreast. A long curtain draped the space between the arch, hung as though in mid-air, without hinge, peg or rod. It was of the deepest most impenetrable darkness Kamau had ever seen; the gateway to the spirit world!
As they drew nearer, Kamau’s resolve was tested. Gusts of wind churned around the archway but the Veil did not billow. Instead it shuddered. The vibrations pulsed, a faint and threatening hum beating inexplicable fear into him. The Veil emanated an overwhelming aura of hatred and Kamau silently recited the prayer again to steel himself:
Cold as End
Alive as death
Your quiet breath
Excerpt 2 (location; kitagata hotsprings)
Within a few minutes he was comfortable, head against the soggy grass. He had stopped fighting their toes meeting beneath the surface and Ninuwe’s feet rested softly on top of his. He kept stealing glances at her. Her dark shaded eyes were closed. She sighed across the pond where glimmers of sunlight made it through the leaves and steamy air. Her lips, a little parted, caught the soft rays deliciously. Despite himself, Kamau thought about the vision in the House of Truths; a kiss that was meant to happen, or one that should not happen—for every time this vision came to him, the one of Ninuwe’s lifeless body followed.
“Ninuwe?” he called to her.
“Aren’t you scared about that vision in the House of Truths?”
“Which one?” she asked, her eyes still closed.
“The one of you dead in my arms.”
“You don’t think you’re risking too much?”
“Are you risking too much?” she asked him.
“Ever since I was born I’ve had only one major purpose awaiting me,” Ninuwe interrupted, “but when I saw you in that dream, a whole new world of possibilities opened up.”
“This is not a fun adventure, Ninuwe. It is life and death.”
“I was already dead inside, Kamau.” She opened her eyes and fixed him with a steady look. “There is a reason no one in the climax quadrant dared approach me. Being the High Priestess’ daughter is…” she trailed off then spoke again, “I’d rather die while living, than live while dead inside.”
Kamau did not know what to say. He felt awkward. Happy that she was committed as much as he and Irina were, but worried about the heaviness of this pronouncement. She was chosen after all. This was as much her own quest as it was his.
“When I was younger,” she said, “every boy I seemed to like would all of a sudden begin hating me. It was not until I was in my teens that I found out my mother kept driving them away. Apparently, I’m meant to follow in her footsteps, and we alone of the Femi, aren’t allowed to fall in love. But I tried anyway. I’ve liked and gotten close to both boys and girls, but always, it’s just a fling, never meaningful.”
“I wasn’t supposed to have a sister, you know,” Kamau found himself speaking, “but I did, and despite every warning from the Hadiza, we got close and somehow made it work.”
“That’s so sweet. I wish it had worked out for me too.”
“Except that Kimya is now dead,” Kamau said bitterly.
“I—I didn’t—I’m sorry, Kamau.”
“It’s okay. It’s not your fault.”
“I didn’t mean it, you know,” Ninuwe spoke, watching him.
“Didn’t mean what?” Kamau asked lazily.
“What I said in the House of Truths—about your kissing—that it could use some work.”
“So it wasn’t that bad?” he asked, grateful that they’d steered away from Kimya but very nervous at where they’d steered.
“Yes it was—” Ninuwe said. She was gazing steadily at him across the surface of the water. “It was bad, but not in the way you think.”
“What do you mean?” He sat up and leaned forward.
“You see, while you must have only seen the vision, for me, it was like being there, like I could feel it—just about,” she frowned, “it was bad, Kamau, because I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Do you ever think about it, Kamau?” Her gaze demanded an answer. He hesitated.
“More than I’d like to,” he said finally. Ninuwe’s eyes flashed.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” she asked, entangling her foot between his and drawing herself closer.
“I—I don’t know what any of this—all of it is so new—”
“Yes you do,” she interrupted, “search yourself, I know you feel it.” Her knee was now pressed against his; her head drifting closer over the water.
“I do not know what ‘IT’ is,” Kamau said, pulling his thigh quickly away from her. She used her legs skillfully and as he made to stand up, tripped him so that he fell to his knees, right into her embrace. The hot water splashed onto their faces, droplets clinging to her long dark lashes, her lips a breath away.
He could feel a soft erotic press against his shorts as beneath the murky water, her tender naked body slipped into his arms; arms that did not stay by his side like before, but rather moved of their own accord, to her delicate sensual waist, drawing her closer.
“‘IT’ is a connection—” she breathed across his neck, “‘IT’ is an attraction—” her hand was caressing the sinews of his arm, her lips just below his chin, “‘IT’ is you and me!” The flowers in her hair made the steamy air fragrant, her hot breath intoxicating, “—you with me!” His body was now thrumming with anticipation. Kamau gave in, their lips pulling to each other—
“Ms. Ninuwe! Mr. Kamau!”…
Hope you enjoyed. It was quite difficult to pick between the many pivotal conversations, action scenes, and landscape descriptions, not to mention the scary bits.
ebook copy on Lulu-HERE
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