Tuesday, 26 January 2010

teaser tuesday is doomed

For today's Teaser Tuesday I wanted to post a fondly-remembered scene from THE INFERNAL FAMILY, only to realise upon rereading it that it was not good at all. Happily, one of my novels always comes through for me. So here's a scene from the first chapter of my epic fantasy IRONBANE. It's the first teaser to feature my favourite character Summer -- in the other teasers Anjen is carrying the sword she gave him as a memento of him.

NB: Iron and salt and symbols of God are the traditional weapons against supernatural evil.


Something flitted through the woods. Anjen looked around wildly, caught it, lost it. The child burrowed into her coat; her arms were burning, she shifted her burden. Summer wiped his bloody hand on his coat and took a less slippery grip on the iron knife. Ahead she glimpsed daylight and open space.

“Hear that?” Summer brightened. “Horses! People! That’s good, right?”

She stopped in her tracks. Then she caught it too: hoofbeats like distant thunder.

Pale shades slipped through the woods. Moving toward them. Fast. She felt their advance in a wash of bitter cold.

Panic dug its icy claws into her. She cleared her throat; her voice was abnormally calm. “It’s the White Hunt. The Winterfolk.”

“Is that bad?” said Summer, blissfully oblivious.

God she was an idiot. She should have snatched the child and run the instant she recognised the white arrow. “You’re faster. Take the child and run. If you cross all seven chains of stones you’ll be safe. Go to the church father, he’ll --“



“I said no, and please stop making plans, they’re terrible. I have a better idea.” He turned her firmly by the shoulders. “Run.”

The shove got her moving. She hitched up her skirts one-handed and ran. Branches clawed at her with bony fingers, ice and snow skidded underfoot. Thunder rose all around them as the pale horses charged them down, sweeping a killing frost ahead of them, and the riders’ laughter hissed in the air.

They broke into open air. Frosted grass crunched underfoot like glass. Her arms were on fire, the little girl squirming. Ahead icy roofs glittered under the sun.

A lone hunter swept in from the left to cut them off.

Both of them skidded to a halt. Anjen went for the salt with her free hand.

The pale horse picked a leisurely path through the snow, placing each hoof with care. Sunlight danced on its icy coat. The rider shone translucent. She felt the murderous cold contract like a fist; pain and thunder and ice sang in her bones.

She put her back against Summer’s. He was shivering even harder than she was. Should have stayed in his summerlands.

“I always thought a valiant last stand sounded fun.” Summer’s voice was sharp with strain.

Her laugh broke down into coughing, lungs burning, air frozen. “Didn’t you say you were too pretty to die?”

“I’m prepared to make a heroic sacrifice. There could be songs. Possibly even legends.”

The hunter leaned down from its horse, blinding bright in the sun, and reached out -- delicate frost feathered its fingers.

Anjen stayed frozen. The little one yelped and grabbed a tiny handful of Anjen’s coat.

“This is definitely the worst plan you have ever --”

“Get ready,” Anjen said through her teeth.

Pale fingers brushed the child’s pale skin.

Anjen threw salt in the hunter’s face. It jerked back with a hiss and its face started to melt. Water ran down its armour in glittering lines. She shoved the child at Summer -- he caught her, a reflex movement -- “Now run, idiot!” -- and advanced on the hunter, snarling, throwing salt after salt.

Its hiss rose to a shriek as she drove it back. The ice horse reared above her; the sun set every edge on fire, it burned as if lit from within. She snatched up an arm. One hoof carved a line of white fire across her forearm -- an instant earlier it would have been her face. Numbing cold leapt up her arm. The horse hit her with its shoulder, her foot slipped and she crashed to the snow. Impact slammed the breath from her lungs. Thunder reverberated through the iron-hard ground. She rolled over, gasping and clawing in the snow, fingers frozen, and threw another shower of salt upward at the horse. Most of it fell back on her. Both horse and rider were melting fast. She spat snow and salt and scrabbled for something, anything to --

Its hoof smashed down an inch from her skull and the melted leg snapped like an icicle. It lurched. Its other leg snapped. The ice horse fell on its face.

Anjen levered herself upright, clutching her bag of salt, hand wrapped round the talisman at her throat. The ring burned; she felt its heat even through her glove.

The hunter slid down from horseback and drew its sword, a long sliver of ice. It staggered toward her dragging a melted leg. Its half a face turned to follow her.

Anjen tried to douse it with salt. The last crystals rattled sadly in the bottom of the bag.



Other teasers: ChristaCarol, Karla, LynKay, Firedrake, Dystophil, JustLaurie, sunna, KBridges, WritingDemons, Kristin Briana, M Austin, Bryn Greenwood, paranormalchick, Mad Hatter ... and more as I read.


  1. RUN! This was seriously catching.

  2. 'I always thought a valiant last stand sounded fun'....I love that line. great snip!

  3. "The last crystals rattled sadly in the bottom of the bag. Shit."

    Pure win :)

    Liked the whole thing anyway, it was very engaging, and a great teaser.

  4. Damn, woman! This passage is full of awesome.

    Your descriptions are fantastic. i.e. "the sun set every edge on fire, it burned as if lit from within." I could feel the chill. The whole concept of a 'White Hunt' is so brilliant.
    Also love the earthy humor too.

    Brilliant stuff, missus.

  5. Okay, so when do I get to read this? Soon, right?

    I love-love-love the premise, and definitely Summer. You have a gift for effortlessly witty dialogue in the midst of great stress.

  6. Fabulous humor and beautiful descriptions of the ice and cold! This is awesome!

  7. “I’m prepared to make a heroic sacrifice. There could be songs. Possibly even legends.” --Aww, I think Summer's adorable :)

    Great descriptions!

  8. This is a beautiful scene. Really sucked me in and your language is purely beautiful.

  9. I love the Winterfolk and the frost on the hunter's fingers. My only hesitations were the various places where she needs a spare hand. She's holding the child, who's heavy enough to make Anjen's armS burn, both. But she has a hand to lift her skirts to run. And then there's reference to her "free hand" when she reaches for the salt.

  10. Great descriptions! You have a way with words!

  11. Absolutely loved it!

    Great line, "The hunter leaned down from its horse, blinding bright in the sun, and reached out -- delicate frost feathered its fingers."

  12. “Didn’t you say you were too pretty to die?” - I love that I'm apparently not the only one dropping covert Firefly references here, love, love Summer's snark and seconding sunna: I want to read this draf, now. :D
    The idea with the hunters melting as they are hit with salt is really cool too. Gimme more :)

  13. Loving Summer! And reading these carefully worded descriptions of the scene in winter makes me cold all over! Great imagery. Looking forward to more of this!

  14. Awesome rhythm and description-- saw it perfectly in my mind.

  15. If you ever say, or type another bad word about your novels, I will personally take the journey to Bath and do unspeakable things to you.

    Do, I make myself clear Para?

    Oh, and this teaser is made of win and I love you :D

  16. This was gorgeous. The descriptions, the narration, it's just awesome. I don't do good with fantasy, but this one just stands out. My friend would love this (she's a fantasy NERD). Loved this!

  17. Whoa, cool teaser Para! Fantastic descriptions, and I love the idea of melting an ice monster with salt. It makes so much sense! I love it when things make sense. :D

  18. I love, love, absolutely love this. I don't need to tell you how gorgeous your narration is - something tells me you already know that. Can't wait for you next teaser

  19. This was so interesting and intriguing! Awesome!

  20. Ah, this is awesome Para! The dialogue and the characters -- absolutely loved the whole too pretty to die thing. And the heroic sacrifice comment that followed cracked me up :D

  21. Awesome descriptions, tension, action... everything. You WILL be published or I'll eat my socks (the new yellow ones I got for christmas).

    I just joined publication or perish on YWS btw. You're just the person to moderate that.

  22. This was so good! I definitely agree with Writer hippie :D