This week’s teaser is from the soon-to-be-released second Dark Age novel
By Scott Bury
Mauricius’ house was typical for a wealthy merchant of Constantinople. Three stories high, constructed of p
Mauricius’ house was typical for a wealthy merchant of Constantinople. Three stories high, constructed of pinkish-brown stone, clad in front with white stone, it had wide steps on one side leading to an arched entry. Slaves carried Javor’s things up the stairs, while others brought the wagon and horses into the ground-level stable.
The two-story high arched entryway led to a marble-tiled receiving room with low sofas covered in velvet and a large carved wooden chair for Mauricius. One wall held his pride, a huge, elaborate tapestry of St. Constantine meeting, as far as Javor could tell, Jesus Christ. Javor did not like it. None of the people looked right to him, and there were too many colours in it.
Mauricius’ wife, Calanthe’s mother, strode down a column-lined hallway, her glittering, gold-trimmed chiton sweeping across the polished tiles. She was a slender, attractive woman with large green eyes and a long, thin nose. Silver strands accented the rich dark brown of most of her hair. She threw her arms around Javor and kissed his cheeks. “Javor, it is so good to have you back!” she said breathlessly.
“Anna, where is your headdress? Your hair is loose,” Mauricius complained.
“Oh, hush. What do men know of clothing?” She dismissed her husband with the same wave he had used to dismiss Calanthe’s labour. She turned to Javor again. “Come, Javor. My daughter and I have a big surprise for you.” She took his hand and pulled him down the colonnaded hallway.
“Is it the baby? Andrina?” Javor asked and he followed, his feet slipping on the polished marble.
Anna stopped to glare at her husband. “Mauricius, you were not supposed to tell him before you returned to the house.”
Mauricius laughed. “It just slipped out.”
“Men,” Anna huffed, pulling Javor again.
They ascended a wide staircase to the second floor, where the shutters had been thrown back from the arched windows, letting a cool breeze through. Anna strode down the marble floor, telling slaves to bring food and wine, to prepare a bath for Javor and make up sleeping quarters, to close some of the shutters as the wind was too strong and the sun too warm.
“My dear, I have already taken care of that,” Mauricius said, but Anna just waved him off again. They arrived at a closed door. As a slave put a hand on the knob, Anna turned to Javor and Mauricius with a finger to her lips. “Now be quiet. The baby is sleeping, and poor Calanthe needs her rest, as well.”
Calanthe’s childhood bedroom had always struck Javor as especially feminine and childish—not that he had seen it often—with walls covered in dark gauzy fabrics and the floors with thick oriental carpets that her father’s ships had brought from the eastern shores of the Euxine Sea.
The room was dim, with daylight leaking in around the shutters over the windows. Javor thought it stuffy, too, but when his eyes adjusted, he could see his wife lying on her back, under thick coverings. She was plumper than her mother, her face rounder but with the same long, narrow nose, and she had her mother’s green eyes and thick, dark brown hair. Her head was propped up on several puffy cushions.
Anna padded to the bedside and bent to her daughter’s ear. “Darling, wake up. Look who has just arrived.” Her voice was soft as velvet.
Calanthe’s eyes fluttered. She groaned, looking at her mother. “What is it?” she whispered.
“Look,” Anna said, turning to Mauricius and Javor by the door.
“Mama, I am so tired,” Calanthe replied, her eyelids closing.
Calanthe’s eyes moved and settled on her father, then her husband. She smiled a little. “Hello, Javor. I have given birth at last. You have a healthy daughter.”
Javor strode in and took his pretty little wife in his arms. She remained limp, her arms staying on the mattress even as he lifted her off the bed. He kissed her cheeks, then her mouth.
“Javor, stop that now,” his mother-in-law admonished. “You can do that when you two are alone.” Still beside the door, Mauricius laughed again.
Javor lowered his wife to her bed. “Where is the baby? What did you call her?”
“Andrina,” Calanthe whispered. She looked to the side of the room, where an older woman wearing loose brown robes and a soft cap on her head stood, holding a baby, rocking it back and forth. She was smiling broadly, and could not keep her eyes off the bundle in her arms.
Javor jumped from the bed to take a closer look. The woman, Calanthe’s childhood nurse, Martha, smiled at him and pulled a fold of white cloth away.
Javor looked at his own baby, the round pink face and the impossibly tiny fingers that reached up. The baby squeezed her eyelids shut, wrinkled her nose and smacked her tiny lips. She seemed so small, so fragile that Javor did not dare touch her. “Andrina,” he whispered, then regretted that his breath might touch her face.
The Children of the Seventh Son
Book 2 of the Dark Age trilogy
The year 600 of the Christian Era is the darkest time of the Dark Age. Young Javor the Sklavene has settled in Constantinople, the last bastion of civilization against dark forces that have shattered the Western Roman Empire.
Wielding two special weapons made from the Bones of the Earth, Javor has become the favourite monster-killer of the secret Gnostic Order. As his young family grows, he is sent to distant, exotic lands to eliminate threats and learn more about why the earth is intent on destroying humanity.Every mission seems to bring more questions than answers—until he finds the greatest danger comes not from forces from beneath the surface of the world, but from the very civilization he has been defending.
The Children of the Seventh Son publishes on Friday, November 13. You can pre-order at a special price now on Amazon.
Learn more on the author’s website.
can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”
The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.
Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.
He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
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