The Water of Awakening
A Novel of High Adventure
Here begins my latest book, The Water of Awakening is set to be released on July 7 on Amazon. In in, Helga the farmwife sets out on a quest to save her husband, who is sick with a mysterious illness. The adventure turns out to be much more dangerous than she was initially led to believe – full of monsters both familiar and unfamiliar.
If this free preview piques your interest, please consider pre-ordering it. If you join my mailing list, you can get more free books and content, and if you email me with proof of a pre-order, I’ll give you the ebook early!
Helga was a young woman grown from an impetuous and difficult to satisfy girl. Even into adolescence she was mockingly called “Helga the Lion” on account of her brash and arrogant attitude. She was, as a girl, willing to say anything to anyone (including the Jarl, which got her into trouble more than once) and only slightly less willing to use her fists when words seemed inadequate. The people of the little hold of Greenfeld often blamed these flaws on Helga’s grandfather, who had a reputation his entire life for foolhardiness and a quick temper. He was known only as Brick, as he had been a stranger to the hold when arrived at the age of thirty, and his many flaws were frequently forgiven because of his propensity for heroism that exceeded his propensity to brawl men that should be his friends. It was said when Helga found herself in trouble that Brick had imparted more than his red hair to her, but as a girl she did not understand that this was meant to not be an insult to his memory; when people said these things she got tearful and even more angry, for she loved her grandfather more than anyone in her life.
Even though she eventually grew out of a great deal of her worse behaviors, the memories remained and title of “lion” stuck to her like an embarrassing scar, which left many of her relationships strained longer than they otherwise would have been. As a young woman, it would have been accurate to say she was tolerated more than liked, especially after the death of her grandfather, Brick the Brave.
Her parents were as a result quite happy to see her wed Erling, a tall and homely man of good standing in the little hold of Greenfeld. Erling was the second son of a second son of a Jarl. He had a good name, but little else, and was known to be quiet and reserved, even passive, which was not a well-liked trait among the boastful north-men. Helga’s parents were unsure their daughter would agree to marry such a man, for her expectations as a girl were lofty and her beauty in maidenhood was not so profound (though she was indeed beautiful – as most northern women are, with straight light hair, bright blue eyes and fair skin that blushed easily) as to command the fulfillment of such lofty expectations.
They never knew, however, of the secret love she held in heart for Erling, or of what he had done to earn that love. The knowledge of the trinkets he made, the poems he wrote, and the great task he undertook for her (which would make even a proud man sit quietly for the telling) she held fast within herself and revealed to nobody, for those things humbled the prideful girl that she was, and she also secretly feared that such knowledge would make Erling a man too great for her to possess.
And so it was that her wedding was a moment of great triumph to her heart, though to all who witnessed it the affair was simple and civil. Such joy, however, was fleeting. Before their first winter as man and wife, Erling was stricken with a profound and unexplainable sickness.
It began as a bad cold, but soon the man was bedridden and could not work his field or tend to his livestock. His voice became so hoarse, and his breathing so labored, he lost the power of speech. The village doctor was at a loss, and his arts of healing, passed down by the gods and his ancestors for so long, did nothing to alleviate Erling’s pain or discomfort, or to give him enough strength to walk more than a few paces from the bed. Erling’s care fell to Helga, a burden she was more than willing to bear, though it pained her to see a man she considered so proud to be bedridden.
Though Helga was not well-loved, the people of the Greenfeld were kindhearted and took turns working Erling’s fields while his health continued to deteriorate. The women helped Helga with her daily tasks, taking the sheep to pasture and back, when they were not busy with their own flocks. Though they were good-natured, people in small towns have a way of gossiping, and the women in Greenfield were particularly adept at making gossip that was meant to be heard.
“Poor Erling, so quiet. I doubt he has the gall to face the fever.”
“Poor Helga. To still be young and saddled with the care of the infirm. I wouldn’t trade places.”
“It’s good she didn’t end up with child. There are a few good men who would marry her yet, once Erling passes on.”
Some of these things got back to Helga, and she resented the words, though she never said so as she was thankful for the help in the growing of crops and the tending of house, and never let a favor pass without giving back some form of thanks. In her spare time, she would work her wheel and loom, and make what cloth she could for those who came to help her. Most of the townsfolk would accept these gifts, not wanting to shame the proud woman, but would without telling Helga sell them and give the money to Bjorn the trader, who would then give Helga a much better price for her crops when he came around to buy them.
This went on for some time. Erling could eat and drink, but do little else, and nothing anybody tried seemed to make him better. Helga loved him, but knew he would die without something being done to help him. Just what that thing was, she had no idea.
You can pre-order the book here or find all my books on amazon at my author page. I will also be giving away all of my books for my birthday!