Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Huntsman III: King

All is quiet in Olvang Keep, yet the future of a kingdom may rest at the mercy of a vicious wilderness. The cards have long since been dealt, the actors all upon the stage, leaving the royal Huntsman with but a simple message. His beloved Princess has manipulated events from the very beginning to slip away into the wilds, and she fully expects him to hunt her down.

To discover what his Princess has heard whispered on the wind for so long and to finally understand his own bestial affinity to the wild, the Huntsman must leave Castle and Keep to chase a fading trail through the eternal night of the frigid Northlands, but he does not hunt alone. With companions that have seen him through thick and thin, the Huntsman rides to bear witness to the truths of Katalyne Olvang's path. What he makes of his Princess' cunning deception and the mysteries she has come to divine from the dark woods with her own hands in this final volume will be remembered as legends in time.

Let the hunt begin.

That must be the longest synopsis I've done for some time, but it's necessary. This is the third and final chapter of the Huntsman series, and I'm not going to be as emotional now as I was in its author note section where I share some personal thoughts and feelings. I've had time to come down, but suffice to say it's been an emotional thing to work through, more than I'd expected it to be. 

So often I looked at things and thought "okay, just a couple scenes left, done in no time" and the power everything was building to just weighed down on me and really made those seemingly short distances a lot harder to get through. It also made them longer than I thought they'd be, so I think the moral is my estimates should never be believed.

And that's fine. While I would have liked to get it out faster - something you'll never not want, like a sort of recurring sum wish - there's a lot of feeling in it and it's really one of the first big points in the history of my world I've been able to really close up and mold into its own sort of legend. It may not seem all that much right now but its existence is already played on in other works and I have a big long timeline of how and where everything matches up. 

Not to come across as daunting, you don't need to see that world to enjoy Huntsman, or the Lusty Maid to come soon. It's always about creating a story here and now, and Huntsman is no exception. With that said it's funny how I'm finding it a little hard to actually talk about the content of the book for want of not spoiling the big shift in things, but practically speaking you can get hints of that from "also browsed/bought" and tags on the various storefronts.

So without going too much into it, shift is the operative word. The wolves out there are not quite just the wolves out there, and stuff will happen! Shifting, shapeshifting, werewolf, beast, monster or just paranormal, it's gotten a lot of names over time, but you know what it means, and it's good.

Excerpt follows the pagebreak.

There, on the ground where the trap that had begun this whole thing had lay, he saw something all but buried in the snow. It had lain there for more than a night, the covering flurry fresh, undisturbed, yet shallow enough that he should have seen it at a glance the night before.

No, of course he would not have seen it. His eyes had been firmly on Katalyne, and there was no reason to inspect the ground below her pivoting foot. Brushing the snow off it revealed a small leather pouch, and within it a fine parchment.

To think that even hiding this in plain sight had been a part of her plan was chilling, but a chance to know her tracks and intent was more than a comforting warmth. Unfurling the parchment and reading the fine script Katalyne had inked into it had him back on the horse within a swift moment, his pace increased.

‘Dearest Mikhael, if you are reading this then you are the man I know you to be, and have come to find my trail. I will ask none to forgive what I have done, you most of all. I must find what calls to me in the wild. I can leave this in the care of no other, but have taken two I trust with me, and should it be what I feel, then you and yours deserve to be present.
I cannot tell you where I have gone simply for I do not know where the wind will take me, yet you would not wish to have your hunt made so simple in any case. No matter what maw of darkness I go to, I know you will find me, Mikhael. Come, my Huntsman, and track your mate once more. Make of me what you will once you have seen what I see.
Yours, Katalyne Olvang.’

Whatever it was she had felt and found, Mikhael could not shake a sense of dread and danger in it. He could not afford to wait around any longer, and both the tracks of Katalyne’s escort and most certainly his own horses pounding strides were thick and clear enough in the snow to follow with little trouble.

Vaulting over root, stump and fallen trunk alike to chase her faint path, the forest was all too quiet for the Huntsman’s liking. Katalyne had always taken a keen interest in the blackguard hounds, the wicked, hulking beasts that haunted these wilds beyond the walls, and no two guardians alone would protect her from crossing those beasts.

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