Read an Excerpt from “Annwyn and the Owl King”

This is from Chapter 2, The Owl King Celebration. Annwyn is on her way to her friend Oscar’s coronation as king, where she will be playing the sacred melody introducing him. She’s been ambushed by Dartmoor Nettle, who arrived unexpectedly at her home to escort her against her wishes.

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The candles cast a fine light over the path as the full moon crept further into the sky. Beams of moonlight pierced the forest canopy, creating pillars of silver. The forest began to wake with the first songs of the crickets and katydids, followed shortly thereafter by a refrain of tree frogs. The perfect compliment to such a sublime night was the thick, sweet scent of honeysuckle filling the air. If any night were destined to see a new Owl King crowned, it was this one.

Annwyn, arm-in-arm with Dartmoor Nettle, took only a passing notice at her surroundings. It required all her concentration just to force politeness with her odious escort. Annwyn thought back to Pooka’s warm embrace as she clasped Dartmoor’s sinewy forearm, and managed a smile in spite of her present company.

“I see your disposition has improved. I thought we might have to endure a joyless evening together. Surely I am not so objectionable?”

“You would never hear me say it,” Annwyn offered, eyes forward.

Dartmoor suddenly stepped in front of Annwyn, forcing her off the main street and into a shadowy alleyway. He swung his cane solidly into the wall, causing Annwyn to stop cold. Rowan used his husky frame to shield them from the passersby. Nettle’s face nearly met hers, and their eyes locked. In one deft motion, he spun his cane with a flick of his wrist and brought a particularly pestilent protrusion to rest on her cheek. “Trust that I never do, Miss Annwyn. I should not take it kindly.”

The spike from the cane slightly stung her, but Annwyn’s gaze did not waver for a moment. No amount of pain would cause her to yield. A glint of fear crossed his face, and he pulled away from her, barreling into Rowan and nearly knocking him down. He looked upon her for a final moment before regaining his composure and walking away, tapping his cane as he went.

“He knows how to put a scare in ya, don’t he?” Rowan chortled. “Where’s that tongue o’ yers now, eh missy?”

Annwyn was happy to show him by sticking it out with an indignant phhtbh! for good measure.

“You’ll learn to bite that before long. Dartmoor’ll see to it,” he spat, walking away and mumbling to himself.

Thankfully alone, Annwyn walked out from the alley and leaned against a wizened oak tree along the lane. She calmed herself and was in the process of repositioning the baby’s breath in her hair when she noticed movement overhead. She caught a glimpse of feathers moments before a young, ruddy screech owl swooped onto a limb directly above her. “Nice friends you got there, Annwyn,” he said, his warm, golden eyes full of mischief.

“Oscar! What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be getting ready?”

“I could ask the same of you. ‘If I’m going to be the new Owl King, I can’t have an unrehearsed Spriggin playing my melody. It’s just not done!’” At that, they broke out into laughter as Oscar’s impression of his father, King Otus, was uncanny right down to the puffed-out chest and ruffled feathers. This was but one of many excoriations Annwyn and Oscar had endured from his majesty in the weeks leading up to the festival.

“Oscar, really, what would your mother say if she knew you were out here instead of preparing for tonight?”

“She’d say, ‘Why is Annwyn out with Dartmoor Nettle?’”

“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be.” Annwyn’s wings hummed, springing to life and carrying her up in the air until she was face-to-face with Oscar. She hovered closer and dropped her voice to a near-whisper, though the Spriggins hustling below never would have heard them: “Oscar, I think my father wants me to marry Dartmoor.”

“Whaaat!??” Oscar squawked, losing a few feathers and golden eyes bulging. “That’s crazy! Tell your father you’ve decided to marry a skunk. At least they smell better!”

Annwyn managed a laugh. “Thanks Oscar, I’m sure that’ll help. But as much as I’d like to, we don’t have enough time to talk about it right now. We’re kinda needed at the festival. We’d better get going.”

As if on cue, a drum beat echoed throughout the forest and heralded the start of the Festival of the Owl King. “Shoot! We’re definitely not done talking about this,” Oscar said. “Tell you what, when I’m king, I’ll banish Dartmoor. Problem solved.” Annwyn and Oscar shared a nervous giggle, which dissolved quickly under the purview of the distant, portentous drumming.

“Good luck tonight, Oscar.”

“You too.”

A quick embrace and Annwyn flickered to the ground and hurried down the path, dodging the other Spriggins heading to the festival. She looked over her shoulder as she ran and watched her friend disappear into the trees. A wave of warm emotions washed over her, momentarily lulling her and bringing flashes of memories she and Oscar had shared over the years. But the soporific nostalgia receded, replaced by a stark and slightly unnerving realization—the next time she saw Oscar, he would be no longer be just her friend, he would be the Owl King.

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If you want to read more, you can get the book from Amazon.

Here’s the link to the paperback version: http://www.amazon.com/Annwyn-Owl-King-D-B-Wales/dp/0615846777/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404844867&sr=8-1&keywords=annwyn+and+the+owl+king

Kindle comin’ at ya: http://www.amazon.com/Annwyn-Owl-King-D-B-Wales-ebook/dp/B00E332MS8/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404844867&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=annwyn+and+the+owl+king

 

 

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