Not Long Ago
By Susan A. Royal
By Susan A. Royal
Genre: Time travel adventure/romance
Number of pages: 227
Word Count: 89333
Cover Artist: Suzannah Safi
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/vOIQVdWUigU
Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times-- somewhere around 600 years.
Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something’s not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. But Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.
Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as handsome Sir Griffin’s squire. She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty. Yet, she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. But, Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.
I’ve chosen this passage to post because I wanted everyone to see Not Long Ago is not just about time travel, nor is it just a love story between two very different people. I tried to make it an adventure that will take the reader to another time and allow them to experience life there as seen through the main character’s eyes. This part was an especially emotional scene for me to write. I attempted to portray some of the emotions each of us experience when we’re faced with losing someone we care about, whether it be father, mentor or friend.
Late the next day, everyone gathered on the banks of the river under a clear sky. On a hill
above us, archers waited. Beside them men-at-arms from the castle stood at attention. Clustered
below were the castle servants and townspeople. Lady Isobeil, Lady Gwyneth and Kat positioned
mselves on opposite sides of Lord John, as far away from each other as possible. He stood at
one end of a long, shallow wooden boat filled with brush. Sir Maldwyn’s body had been
wrapped in linen and placed inside, his belongings next to him. Water lapped against the boat, a
strangely calming sound.
The pain on Sir Griffin’s face was almost more than I could bear. He clenched his jaw and
gripped the hilt of his sword until I thought it would break. Faces stoic, the other knights huddled
together with their squires. No doubt each of them remembered Sir Maldwyn in his own way.
After all, he’d been in service at the castle long enough to train most of the knights when they
were still squires. I thought of my parent’s death and the emptiness I felt knowing I’d never see
them again. People everywhere stared at the ground, trying to hold back tears.
All except for Deroc. I can think of nothing more poignant than the sight of him standing
over his father’s body while tears ran down his face. Over and over, the boy repeated the same
words. “I am sorry Father, I am so sorry.” The overbearing bully who confronted me in the
paddock had vanished. All that remained was a pitiful little boy, one who mourned a relationship
with his father he’d never had, and now, one he would never experience.
Sir Maldwyn’s body lay on the funeral pyre, in the custom of the Vikings, while Father
Alford conducted the service in Latin in a calm and soothing monotone, appearing completely
undisturbed by all the pagan customs surrounding him. When he said his last amen, Lord John
nodded at Sir Griffin. He began to ease the boat into the water. When it resisted, first Sir
Edevane and then the other knights joined him. Together, they gave one last push, and the boat
Sir Sion remained on the bank, alone in his guilt. He didn’t join the rest, likely because he
knew they held him responsible for Sir Maldwyn’s death. Sir Sion’s decision made in haste and
in anger had ended someone’s life. No wonder he couldn’t bear to meet anyone’s eyes.
When the boat reached the middle of the river, each archer touched his arrow to flame,
notched and loosed it. Their arrows arched upwards in perfect unison, only losing sight of them
when they passed between us and the setting sun, briefly dazzling our eyes. In the fading light of
day, they struck the raft holding Sir Maldwyn’s body like driving rain. Flames shot high into the
air and swallowed up everything. Sir Maldwyn was making his journey home to Valhalla in the
manner he had wanted. Not a sound could be heard among those of us watching from the banks,
except for Deroc’s quiet sobbing. A north wind began to blow, and I thought I heard a faint
noise. Somehow, the wind seemed to bring with it the echo of horns in the far distance. I know it
couldn’t have been so, but it sounded as though those ancestors who’d gone before him were
welcoming a fellow warrior home.
About the Author:
Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town that comes with a ghost who has been known to harmonize with her son whenever he plays guitar. She’s married, with three children and four grandchildren.
She comes from a family rich with characters, both past and present. She spent her childhood listening to her grandmother’s stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. Her father shared stories of growing up in San Antonio during the depression, and through her mother’s eyes she experienced how it felt to be a teenager during WWII.
Yesterday, the first piece she ever submitted, won author Cody James Wolfe’s Flash Fiction Newsletter Contest and that started it all. Her entry, Lost Souls, won 2nd place in the 2009 short story contest of the Northeast Texas Writers’ Organization and My Father’s House won 3rd place in the 2010 competition. Not Long Ago is a time travel adventure/romance, available through MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. She is currently working on a sequel, because the Erin and Griffin’s story wasn’t finished. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance, due out May, 2013.
website - http://susanroyal.moonfruit.com
blog: - http://ssnroyal.blog.com/