Free Fiction Friday: The Fire of Her Eyes – excerpt
It’s Friday again, and you know what that means! It’s time for some free fiction!
Once again, I’m forced to apologize for the lack of an update to “A Knight’s Sacrifice”. The last week was devoted to selecting submissions for the Weight of a Gun anthology and getting pre-orders up and available for Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley, Crescendo, and Daughters of Artemis. In addition to that, I’m still finishing up my own short story for DoA, and that’s what I’d like to share a bit of today in lieu of an official chapter or short story. “The Fire of Her Eyes” is inspired by the balance of power between humans, tigers, and wolves in the Russian Far East. To spice it up, I’ve made it into poachers, weretigers, and werewolves. I hope you enjoy this snippet!
The Fire of Her Eyes
“What do you mean, ‘the humans have picked up our trail’?” Katya demanded, turning abruptly from her maps to glare up at Mikhail, who quickly put up both his hands and averted his gaze in the face of her anger.
“I don’t know how it happened this time, honest. We did everything you said after the hunt. We made sure the remains were scattered, didn’t take a straight path back…” Mikhail trailed off and looked at her cautiously between dirty locks of his blond hair. “I don’t know how, but they’ve caught on.”
The anger bled out of Katya’s eyes, and she sighed, running a hand through her pale hair. “It’s not your fault, Mischa. Get everyone assembled. We’ll break camp and leave now. I’ll be damned before those poachers catch us.”
She dismissed Mikhail with a wave and rolled up her maps before stuffing them into her pack. Standing, she pulled the ties keeping the furs on the framework of her tent. A practiced yank and the sewn furs fell off the wood posts completely. The cold rushed in around her, and she cursed, securing the hood of her coat up around her face to keep the worst of the chill at bay.
It was bad enough that the poachers had attacked two months ago and killed off half the pack. There had been no alpha male left after that massacre, no one more capable than her to lead the survivors deeper into tiger territory to escape the humans. Well, normal humans, anyway. Her pack was still human as well, but with how violently everyone else took to werewolves, it was hard to imagine they were in any way related to the scum that hunted them. At best, the normal humans saw them as extensions of the gray wolves that occasionally picked off their livestock for food. If they were just pests, then it was easy to justify hunting them down like animals.
She made quick work of her tent, watching as the others in the pack gathered their things, tore down their makeshift tents, and put out the fires. Their numbers were so few, now. It made hunting difficult, even when they shifted, but it also made her heart sore, even as they knit together the remainder of the pack, trying to mend the holes that still remained from their losses.
Her eyes narrowed as she picked up the pace of her own packing. She would see them to safety. It would mean crossing tiger territory to one of their old hiding places near the mountains, but the poachers wouldn’t follow. At the very least, they’d be distracted by bigger game. She smirked to herself as she pulled one of the straps of her pack taut. Finally, a use for the weretigers that didn’t involve eating her pack out of hearth and home.
With an upward glance, she breathed in the cold air. Snow. It would hide their tracks if they got moving. The day was looking up.
Daughters of Artemis comes out on August 26th! Storm Moon Press is holding a contest for those who pre-order a copy at the discounted, pre-sale price, so head on over for a chance to win a great prize pack of goodies! See you next week with more free fiction!