The Praetorian Outlet, vol. 5

With my hands braced on my knees I thought maybe I was going to keel over. It wasn’t normal to feel so winded, my breath wheezed in and out laboring to keep up with the demands of my lungs. Black spots popped up in front of my eyes and for a moment I thought perhaps I was once again just an Asperian, no longer the strong battle ready Praetorian I had spent more than half my life training to be.

What’s wrong with me? My heart rate was erratic and unsteady, my intake of oxygen was minimal as I blew out a steady stream of steamed air. It was cold, the mist had fallen over Charlie Town and I felt surrounded by a blanket of bitterness. I focused on my breathe, my pounding heart, and coasted them back to a normal level. Finally, I was able to lift my head and assess my surroundings. It wasn’t much better than what I had been looking at while desperate for air looking at the rock riddled ground beneath my feet. I shuddered as I took in the decimation and crippled remnants of Charlie Town before me.

Fire belched from every building. Once a strong hold of sturdy planked wooden homes was now a blazing torch filling the night sky with smoke and ash. My stomach turned over as I began to notice the carnage of bodies strewn across the grounds. A mother huddled over her children their bodies a wild canvas of red and splotches of dirtied brown. Worse was a young couple, hands grasped in their final moments of life, heads turned toward each other with the remnants of tears still fresh on their cheeks.

“No,” I said stubbornly, “It wasn’t her. She couldn’t have done this Vee.”

I shook my head feeling a dizzying sickness take hold. My Camille, the love of my life, she would never do this.

“I saw her Leo,” Vesyon replied as he too shook his head at the obliterated town. “It was her, but at the same time it wasn’t her at all.”

“What do you mean?” I asked in a stilted tone.

“It was her; her body, her face, her voice. But it also wasn’t her at all. Her eyes were red and her skin was fully turned black. It’s like the Praetorian Venom took over and it spread throughout her entire body.”

I shook my head again in disbelief. I had just seen her that morning. We woke up together in the warmth of our bed at White Wall. Nothing had been wrong, nothing that I noticed at least. I couldn’t help but think of her face, the brilliant green of her eyes and the way the fiery red curls would fall over her face when ever they practiced sword play. I could almost feel the soft gentle curve of her lips pressed against mine as I stood in the growing horror of what Vesyon was telling me.

“You said she’s gone, what do you mean?”

Vesyon nodded slowly, slipping his own sword back in it’s scabbard on his belt.

“Metus, he took her.”

“What?!” I yelled without restraint. “The King Regent? Why would he take her? Where did he take her?”

“I don’t have any answers for you Leo, I’m sorry. But she’s gone. From what it looks like she won’t be coming back.”

My body started to slip back into the panic I had felt the entire two sun cycles it had taken me to horse ride from White Wall to Charlie Town. Vesyon’s words were loud and clear. First Jesabelle, her mother,  had disappeared, now Camille? It was no coincidence.

“What do we do now?” I said still shaken with worry.

“We do what we were bred to do,” Vesyon said with a final glance over his shoulder at the burning remnants of Charlie Town where Jesabelle had been stationed as Praetorian Protector. “We fight back.”

 

— Theo Shaehy

The Praetorian Outlet, vol. 4

The bitter wine tasted sour in my mouth but I drank it down in hefty gulps anyways. The wine wasn’t mine and I could get in a lot of trouble drinking it, but being the General’s Daughter, there was a lot I could get away with.

No matter what I did, including getting completely drunk, wouldn’t change anything. Perhaps I wasn’t really supposed to be drinking such copious amounts of alcohol, but to be bluntly honest, I didn’t give a fuck. It didn’t matter what I did, it wouldn’t change how he treated me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course there are times of extreme flirtation, times when he looks at me with those sharp blue eyes. I just want to dive into them but I never get enough time. It always leads in the right direction but there is never any payout for my efforts. By this point, most of what I do feels completely useless. At the end of the day he stands in front of me yet looks right through me. It’s like I’m not even there, or he’s seeing someone that isn’t really there.

He had kissed me once, several moons ago. It had shocked me straight down to my toes and it had been the first time I had ever been kissed, but it only lasted a moment. Before I realized what was happening he was apologizing profusely and backing down the hallway without a backwards glance. Now, it was little more than smiles and heavy glances, a subtle touch or quick embrace. A few flirtatious words and then a pause of blank emptiness before he ended the charade and immediately walked away. It truly baffled me and I didn’t know what to do with it.

Flirtation and hope be damned, it would never become anything. I picked up the bottle sitting next to me and skipped the glass, downing the last remaining gulps straight from the opening. As I set the bottle down I felt the easy swimming sensation melt my mind into blissful delight. “That’s better,” I said allowing a smile to float across my lips.

“You look like you could use a friend,” a burly voice said behind me. I turned to see him before he plop down beside in the balcony I had been hiding in.  “Care to join me?” He asked as he extended a second bottle of wine in my direction.

“What are you doing?” I asked sharply not caring if my tone came across a tad harsh. He didn’t seem to notice. He just smiled and slowly pulled the cork free from the bottle before handing it to me.

“I’m drinking with my friend, is that not allowed?”

“No,” I shot back at him though immediately regretted it and ammended my tone . “Well, I mean I won’t tell anyone about it.”

“Good,” he said with a wink as his hand slipped up to the side of my face and pushed into the blonde waves of my hair. “This will be our little secret.”

— Charlie Ballen, Second Lieutenant of the Rogue Resistence

The Praetorian Outlet, vol. 2

I sit right next to her and she doesn’t see it. Sometimes I can’t believe it, the amount of emotion screaming through my system and I hide it beneath a thin layer of muscle fibre. There is almost nothing hiding her ability to see what I feel, and yet it isn’t possible for her to ever know the truth of my ever increasing mountain of secrets.

It’s almost impossible not to lean closer to her, to breathe in the scent of her hair, but I remain steadfast in my stoicism. She isn’t mine, not mine to touch or love or enjoy, she doesn’t belong to me.

We sit together though, waiting for the final word of our future. We might live in close proximity or miles apart from each other, we have no say. We are now property of the High King and we must do as we are told. Despite our history of growing up in the same Village together, spending endless hours together in the adventures of childhood we now must face the impending truth of our time. The Kingdom is in disarray and the people need our help. I didn’t exactly volunteer for the job, but I would never walk away from my duty to the people of Aspera. This is my home as much as it is theirs and I am willing to fight for their right to live in it, to live in peace and protection.

With this fierce loyalty and determination comes fear and worry of my own future. A future without her. A future without the only woman I have ever loved. It seems an impossibility but it’s a probability that I must face and face alone.

We hear the echoing thuds of boots moving down the hall and my entire body locks into place, my system forcing the emotion aside knowing that I will have to accept my fate. As the boots rumbled in the distance a mantra of sanity slipped into my mind and I began repeating a steady rhythm of words inside the walls of my mind: No matter what, you will always find a way to be with her.

I turned toward her then, my fire-haired goddess, and I told her everything with my eyes that my lips could never express. She smiled in response, an action so pure and sweet it made the corners of my lips draw upward just a fraction. “No matter what,” she said in a tender whisper. “I will find a way to be close to you Vesyon. I won’t let the High King rip apart our friendship.” Her hand reached out and squeezed his for a moment before she yanked it back into her lap.

The boots had arrived now standing directly in front of them. It took everything I had not to grab her hand and run out the door. She had touched me, her words had seared the truth across my heart so clearly that there was no turning back. I wasn’t just going to hope to see her, I would see her and fight every day to make sure we would be together.

— Vesyon Vestra

 

The Praetorian Outlet: New Perspective

Hey Friends and Readers,

In this time between of releasing chapters and prepping for the release of my first Manuscript (YIPPEE!!), I wanted to share a little more with you than most authors would. There is a strong voice for each of my characters, a lot of background and emotion that are built within their voice. I want to share so much with you but of course I can’t share it all. The novel will be in your hands soon I promise you! Since I can’t give you the completed and perfect book just yet, I thought it would be fun to share snippets of my characters inner thoughts. This is The Praetorian Outlet.

I posted the inner thoughts of Camille Scipio, my lead character in The Praetorians. She is struggling with the demons of her past and knows there is a darkness within her but doesn’t know how to handle it. I’m excited to see where her character will grow and change, more than anything I am excited to share this with you. I hope you enjoy my Praetorian Outlet and find intrigue into the minds and workings of my characters that aren’t straight out of the book.

If you would like to be a beta reader, I am still open for notes and feedback. I’d love to hear what you think of my manuscript so far.

If you don’t have the time, no worries. The Praetorians will be released in 2017 and I hope you will be able to read it then 🙂 But for now…enjoy these little snippets inside the minds and world of The Praetorians.