Friday, 15 August 2014

An Excerpt From 'The Touching of Stones' by Louise E Rule

The first in a planned trilogy set in the 14th century, The Touching of Stones tells the tale of a stone mason's family and will span across two countries and a continent. This excerpt tells of the bloodiness of war.

He looked down at the blood seeping through his ragged aketon, leaking dark, with a metallic odour drifting towards his nostrils. Flopping back against the tree, closing his eyes, he prayed urgently to the Madonna, pleading, desperately, for his life to be saved. He didn't want to die here in the mud and blood of the battlefield. The noise of fighting came and went as he drifted in and out of consciousness, like a dream, a terrible dream from which he hoped he would soon awake.
Flicking opened his eyes in panic, he studied the distorted shape coming towards him; a horse that appeared to be galloping in slow motion, clods of earth spinning from huge feathered hooves, a rider leaning forward in earnest.
He struggled to move, but was unable to, he tried to speak but his tongue lay fat and rough against the roof of his mouth. The rider knelt beside him with sorrow in his eyes; his friend was not long for this world. He supported his head while trying to give him a drink, but it just dribbled from the corners of his mouth. He tried to speak again, but only a gargling, guttural sound could be heard as blood dribbled down his chin. He tried, desperately, broken lips drawn back over his teeth, to draw a breath. He looked wide-eyed at his friend in despair, his blue eyes turned black and sightless, as his pupils dilated to their fullest as he passed from this world to the next.  His last exhaled breath hissed and frothed from his mouth. His head lolled to the left, his jaw hung askew; and there he lay with the stench of his piss and excrement fusing with the filth of battle. His war was over.


Life was cheap on the battlefield, cheap enough for it to pass almost unnoticed. But they had been friends since childhood, shared many adventures and had entered this war keen to claim a victory for Scotland. He became aware of a shadow looming, but before he had a chance to turn around he felt a thrusting pain in his back and looked down to see the bloodied point of an anelace forcing its way steadily through his body. His breath hitched in his throat as he half stood; staggered sideways, glancing over his right shoulder in time to see the sneering face of the soldier who had just stolen his life. The world around him shrunk to a pinhole of light, he crumpled to the ground falling across the body of his friend.
They looked down at themselves lying in the filth, with soldiers laughing and thumping each other on their backs congratulating themselves for their courage in battle. One kicked at a body, another stamped on its head, splitting it wide and unrecognisable,merging the white matter with coagulating blood which gradually seeped into the noisome muck. The other they slashed and hacked to pieces in a frenzy, kicking each part from the other. The brutality of war turned men into beasts with a blood lust that was as virulent as the bubonic plague. Laughing and congratulating each other on their work, they mounted their horses and in an instant they re-joined the battle.

The friends looked at each other; the glow of their battle was extinguished. They drifted slowly above the mêlée, gradually dissolving into the heavens.

Louise E Rule

Louise is the author of Future confronted

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