One of my fellow writers, the amazing Suzanne Young (author of the Naughty List and up-coming A Need So Beautiful-which I am beyond excited about), posted a novel graveyard and I happened to think it was a great idea.
A novel graveyard is exactly how it sounds. A grave yard full of dead WIPs that got left behind in all the clutter that is my imagination.
I have to admit, I'm a bit ADD when it comes to writing. I have so many ideas, that I have to start writing them as soon as they pop into my head, which distracts me from the one's I'm already working on! A crazy cycle, I know. So in ode to Suzanne Young- here is a chapter from one of may WIPs that that got lost along the way:
A Secret To Keep (keep in mind, this has NOT been edited-so please forgive any mistakes in grammar or spelling)
“People talk and word spreads like an infection. Treacherous actions as such these spread like a plague.”
I gasped. “Are you referring to me as a sickness?”
“Not you in particular, but your obvious lack of propriety and common sense. For how long did you think it would go unnoticed?”
He was taking it too far, but I deserved it. I’d let him come to his own conclusions without as much as the slightest contradiction.
“I don’t know of what you are speaking,” I feigned ignorance.
He was fuming. “I have seen it with my own eyes. But please tell me they have deceived me.”
“Then you don’t deny it?”
“I do not admit or nor do I deny anything.” I continued to stand before him, staring straight ahead. Fear ran rampant throughout my body. My hands shook so violently I had to grasp them tightly together, forcing them to stop. Had he looked deeply into my eyes, I wondered if he would have seen the deception.
He continued to pace back and forth at a furious pace. His breathing was labored. It burned my soul to know I had caused this, to know that all I had to do was speak and he would have been put at ease. But the love I had for each of them conflicted, demanding I choose one over the other.
He stopped and whirled about to face me. Storming over he grabbed me by the arms. “Then you lie. You dare lie to my face, to your King?”
Lifting my eyes to his, I admitted only the truth. “I have done nothing wrong.”
And I hadn’t. It was all to protect him; to protect them all. No matter the consequences, this was how it had to be. I would sacrifice anything, everything.
“Tell me now. Did you betray me?” His misty eyes pleaded with me, begging me to release him from the agony. I had brought the most powerful to King exist to his knees.
Tears gathered in my eyes. He would never stop asking or wondering. How could I tell him the truth? No matter what I said, blood would be spilled. I had to make a decision.
From atop the well muscled inky black stallion, Cadoc stroked his wiry graying beard; nervously shifting his gaze along the Northern horizon. His people, land, and castle were all about to be marched upon and in essence, destroyed.
Word of invasion had come but a few hours earlier.
A farmer from the outer skirts of the territory had raced to his King in warning. Unable to sleep, from out of his bedroom window he had spied an enemy scout creeping about in the dead of the night. The man had run his horse hard for several hours and his dark hair had been blown wild when he stood before Cadoc, still in his night clothes for he had not wasted a moment. The people had been on high alert for months, it could have been none other them one of King Humphrey’s men.
A message had been dispatched immediately to the High King Leodegrance, but Cadoc bitterly thought it would be too late. Cadoc’s territory lay in the Southeastern part of Andoriea, almost a day’s journey from where Leodegrance’s troops were last stationed.
Leodegrance’s Troops would likely arrive to find Cadoc’s forces slaughtered; they would be lucky to find women and children alive when the dust settled from Humphrey’s vengeance.
His heart thundered loudly in his chest, constricting every few minutes. Ignoring the increasing pain shooting down his arm, Cadoc steadied his breath and prepared for battle. He turned his horse and rode towards his most trusted and skilled knights: his sons. Colin and Philip sat upon their stallions at the front of the meager army of untrained men who were visibly nervous. There, in the frost covered grass in the early morning light stood farmers, tradesmen; town-folk or farmers who, as warriors, had either seen too many changes of seasons or not enough. Cadoc observed the men and focused on one small face in particular. Though the young man was tall, he found himself wondering if the lad had begun to shave.
His skilled soldiers had gone to join Leodegrance last season when they had become allies; this was what he was left with. Sprinkled among the men he found a few women. Though he did not believe in the practice of letting a female in the ranks, he could not fault them for wanting to defend their land and families. Knowing they would only put up a fight if made to leave, he decided allowing them stay was the wiser choice. Having a female undermine one’s authority was not what they needed.
Cadoc, King of Kalmardia, thought about the events that had lead to this moment. He believed in Leodegrance and decided to align with him. In truth, it was acquiesce Leodegrance as overlord or be overthrown by him or another who would slay him and his people. Leodegrance was the obvious choice because of his moral code: he did not (as so many others did) murder the undefended, euthanize the sick and elderly, abuse women, or exploit children.
Conceding to Leodegrance’s rule, the controller of the Northern lands - King Humphrey -- became enraged. Already Humphrey had taken the lands of eleven other rulers and made it his mission to invade further south, to bring Leodegrance upon his knees, making the mighty King his final conquest by conquering his latest land, thus drawing him into battle.
The sun began to warm the cold ground and over the horizon it seemed as though a never ending stream of marching soldiers filled their vision through the fine mist that rose. Hazy morning light gleaned off their armored chests and shields.
Involuntarily Cadoc whispered, “Lord, help us.”
It was eerily silent on both sides of the vast field.
Colin reached out his hand, placing it on his father’s shoulder in reassurance. Though the site before them was increasingly dire, he remained steadfast in the face of such insurmountable odds. Surrender was something that Colin, either out of arrogance or youthful optimism and invulnerability, never considered.
Father and son looked into each other’s eyes, one whose cloudy light blue eyes were fading with the weariness of age; the others whose deep cerulean eyes were brimming with determination and the valor of youth. To the left sat his eldest son, Philip, whose dark blue eyes remained focused on the task ahead, keeping his emotions at bay. He was a true pillar of strength and wise beyond his young years.
Soon each army stood face to face across the open field; the enemy was statues of marble. They were strong, heavily armed, and their leaders were on a mission he determined to win at any cost.
Alas, Cadoc and his men were determined put up a paramount fight no matter the odds, even if it meant their annihilation. There was no superior way to depart this life than in protection of one’s people.
As Cadoc loosely swung his reigns, urging his steed forward to meet with Humphrey in the center of the pasture, Philip held out his hand to stop him, looking at last to the aging King.
“Father, I ask your permission to meet with Humphrey in your stead,” Philip asked the elder King in his deep baritone voice.
The king looked at his son with pride and fear simultaneously. Philip was a man destined for greatness. He’d already led the men in skirmishes on the borders, but it was when his mother had died he showed his true strength. Cadoc had fallen apart upon his much loved wife’s death and Philip had not only hid it from the people, but assumed as many duties as he could; which happened to include taking responsibility for his younger siblings. Yes, he had shown true strength and unfathomable resilience at a tender age. Philip was destined to be king, whether it was his birthright or not.
But meeting a man like King Humphrey was dangerous to say the least, no matter the rules for conduct during war.
Reluctantly Cadoc nodded his head in agreement and watched as his eldest son rode off to meet the enemy.
In the center of the field the two men halted facing one another, neither dismounting from the strong innocent horseflesh they sat upon, and began to speak.
Cadoc watched as Humphrey’s face became enraged, Philip must have told him they were unwilling to surrender and would not denounce Leodegrance and in his place, accept him as their overlord. Instead of turning his horse back to his men, Cadoc watched as Humphrey held out his hand as if to shake.
Philip grasped the man's outreached hand. Humphrey’s free arm reached for a knife that had been tucked into his belt and sheathed it into the side Philip’s amour where he was unprotected. Philip had no warning or time to react to the act of violence against him. Placing his hand over the wound and pulling it way he looked in shock at the deep crimson blood that spilled from his flesh.
A thousand years passed by in the few moments it took for Philip to slowly slump over his steed. Silently he glided through the air, seemingly weightless, to the soft spring grass. The clatter of the metal resounded in the silence and into the ears of the people as they watched their prince die before their very eyes.
Everything melted away from Cadoc and he only saw thing: his beloved son, heir to the throne, dead upon the ground. He saw Philip’s entire existence pass before his eyes from the moment he was born, his first smile, the first time he picked up a sword, to his abrupt death. Nothing on Earth could condone what had been done. An innocent young man with everything to live for was slain without reason, by a man devoid of a conscience.
Despite the distance between them, Cadoc could see Humphrey sneer at him; Humphrey’s face filled with ostentatious pride. With his chest heaving and rage boiling his blood, there was no time for tears. He vowed Humphrey would die this day.
He heard nothing of the call for attack from his remaining son. Cadoc had already drawn his sword and was charging ahead at full tilt. He maneuvered about the soldiers with determination to reach his goal. The fierce cries of his soldiers rang out, sharing in the violence of his outrage as they charged forward to meet the enemy.
The only sound Cadoc heard was the blood pulsating through his veins, the beating of his failing heart, and the air that exploded from his lungs each time he breathed. He heard nothing but blood. He felt nothing but blood. He knew nothing but blood. He saw only a treacherous king who must now give him his blood. Death was now, for king Cadoc, an ally. And in this frenzied insanity for death, the overwhelming odds against Cadoc’s forces were rendered slightly more favorable.
The din of battle was silence to Cadoc as he charged forward into the sea of enemy soldiers. His sword flashed, reflecting the light of the golden morning sun as he slashed through Humphrey’s men.
Keeping on his path in his rage and skilled swordsmanship towards Humphrey, he slowly sliced a path through the flesh of men towards the overweight king. There was no thought in his mind that his beloved son was murdered, there was no thought for the army behind or in front of him. There was only the animalistic insanity of a warrior-king avenging his scion.
Humphrey was waiting for him, willing him to make it through his legions, knowing that Cadoc was not thinking about strategy or tactics, that he was consumed by vengeance. Upon Humphrey’s face was the unmistakable look of satisfaction as though he had already won even though the battle had just begun. The power hungry king held out his hand and waved his personal royal guards away, beckoning his adversary forward, enticing him into single combat.
Each man deftly unsaddled from their horse and approached one another.
Cadoc swung his sword mightily with both hands. As the sharp blades met and deflected off one another, he kept a firm grip on the handle and quickly was ready for another attack. He attacked from the right, the left, they circled around one another.
Humphrey was holding back, taunting him. They both knew Humphrey the upper hand, yet it would not stop him from defending the honor of his fallen son.
At last, one of them made contact; Humphrey swiped his sword cross Cadoc’s thigh causing him to stumble and fall to his knees. With weary eyes he looked up and into the face of a man who coveted all belonging to Leodegrance. Closing his eyes he resigned himself to being reunited with Philip.
Humphrey raised his hands and brought his sword high above his head. He smiled in satisfaction down at the broken king, joyous at the impending victory. That moment of hesitation allowed another to intervene. As he plunged the blade downward, seeking to spill the blood of Cadoc, a sharp reverberation of clashing steel sounded and the blade was stopped short.
Then a voice sounded like a bell in Cadoc’s ears; the voice of the archangel speaking to him, calling him back to Earth.
“Cadoc!” the thunderous voice shouted and caused Cadoc to open his eyes.
He looked up to see the man whose voice he had grown to recognize as well as his own. At some point King Leodegrance had arrived and joined in the battle. The High King had come to protect his people and at last Cadoc felt emotion, not for himself, but for those around him. It was an odd thing to feel a sense of joy for those around him at a time when so much sorrow bombarded one’s soul.
Having been awakened, Cadoc pulled himself together and stood, choosing to resume protecting all that was left. It took but mere moments for the young king to end Humphrey’s life before moving onto the next soldier.
Word quickly spread among the ranks of King Humphrey’s men that their king had been decapitated. Enemy soldiers fell back while other decided it would be in their best interest to pledge allegiance to Leodegrance, having been forced to join Humphrey as he took over their territories. Leodegrance would soon head northward to acquire the now vacant throne. In his pride, Humphrey had refused to name a successor and had no offspring.