EXCERPT 1 – FROM CHAPTER 3
At the town gate, a halberd barred her way. ‘Where be you going, lassie?’ The unshaven face of a guard in a rusty breastplate smiled at her, baring a row of bad teeth.
Maud was unused to familiarity from a male, and the look she gave him was frosty. ‘Step aside, soldier.’
The guard’s smile turned nasty. ‘Don’t cause any trouble, wench. I’d have to spank you.’
Maud shifted her shoulders, and the muscles in her arms rippled. ‘You would try to,’ she said scornfully and walked on, pushing aside the man’s halberd. The guard staggered and cursed, but she ignored him and walked into Brisa.
The veteran had said it was a rough town. Well, it certainly wasn’t Tar Kell. Those drunken sailors she saw careening from tavern to tavern, that bone-thin trollop venting her desperate wares, the off-duty guards betting on a cockfight; none of it would’ve been tolerated back home. Maud chuckled. Had Hala warned her for this? The old tigress really was a prude.
As she walked past, a few drunks whistled and shouted lewd jokes. Maud disregarded them. She was looking for a boy, red-haired, pale of face and beautiful.
From one of the shady taverns, three men stepped into the street. The foremost, a big, hairy fellow with a rough beard and a massive belly, stopped in his tracks.
‘Whaddayathink,’ he said, his voice slurred by drink. ‘A lonesome girlie. I’ll have fresh sports tonight.’
‘Leave her be, Atark,’ the thin man at his shoulder whispered. ‘She’s a Kell, man!’
‘Ah don’t mind,’ the big one said, with a leering eye. ‘So she’s an outlander. In bed, they’re the same as we, aren’t they?’
Maud had only vaguely heard their exchange, but she noticed the smell of stale beer and sweat as the big man stepped in front of her.
‘Gimme a kiss, lass,’ he said, barely understandable, while he tried to put a clumsy arm around her waist.
‘You’re asking for trouble,’ Maud said clearly. ‘Move away, Garthan; you stink, you’re drunk and way too old.’
The big man didn’t listen. He belched, gripping her chin with a hairy paw, and leaned forward to kiss her. At his touch, Maud felt an explosion of anger that was new to her. Animal attack! With her right hand, she got a strangling grip on the man’s throat, killing his screams as her left hand crushed his crotch. Thus, she ran him backward to the nearest open sewer.
‘Never mess with a Kell,’ she said in a steely voice, before dumping the near unconscious man into the muck-filled drain. She looked around, with one hand to the sword on her back, and saw the shocked onlookers back away. With a loud snick, she pushed the blade back into its sheath. Not bothering to hide her contempt, she walked on, leaving a field of silence behind her.
Title: Lioness of Kell
Author: Paul E. Horsman
The lioness Maud is at eighteen already a black powerhouse of brawn. When she is ordered to fetch a young thief from a pirate town, she thinks it an easy task. Until she and Jurgis the thief find themselves running for their lives.
Young warlock Basil sees his life threatened by a summons from the Warlockry Council, to prove his beauty. He knows his lame foot will betray him and escapes on the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, a handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed.
When the four young people meet, Basil learns of a spell that could repair his foot. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. As the four decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change their world. Or kill them.
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch/Belgian border.
He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 a teacher of Dutch As A Second Language to refugees from all over the globe.
Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for both Y.A. and over. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.
His available titles are:
* The Shadow of the Revenaunt (Rhidauna, Zihaen, Ordelanden) trilogy
* The Shardheld Saga (Shardfall, Runemaster, Shardheld) series
* Lioness of Kell (standalone)