Happy Monday, everyone! Or should I be perky at my own risk? Let’s face it, Monday’s suck. Especially when it rains. So, I’ve decided to share a short excerpt from my new novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other to brighten your day.
In this excerpt, our heroes Pig and Kay meet the famed Lady of the Lake. Before their encounter, Kay advises Pig to lower her expectations. The reader is welcome to keep theirs high;) Please enjoy:)
The seconds turned into minutes, the minutes into hours, and the hours stretched out into what to Pig felt like an eternity, though it was only midday. The farther they traveled, the denser the forest grew, and the thinner and muddier their path became. To Pig’s dismay, this only slowed their progress all the more.
“Are we there yet?” Pig threw back her head and wailed.
Kay turned and glared at her from the corner of his eye. “What did I tell you the last twenty times you asked me that dumb question?”
“You said I would know,” said Pig, mocking his tone.
“And do you think we’re there yet?”
“Then we’re not there yet.”
“I’m sorry, Sir Kay, but I’m just so excited! I’ve never met a real celebrity before . . . except for you and Sir Lancelot—and King Arthur, of course. Oh, then there was Merlin and Sir Gawain—oh, what if she comes from the water and holds aloft the Holy Bread Box? It would mean God chose you to have it!”
“No, it wouldn’t mean that,” said Kay, swatting the mosquitoes that swarmed about his face. Like the foliage and the minutes, they, too, were increasing in number.
“Have you met her before, Sir Kay?”
“More times than I’d care to admit,” he said, frowning. The mosquitoes were relentless.
They did not bother Pig. She was immune to them by now, having spent so much time with them at the pits. Even a swarm of hornets would have little effect on her at this point. “What is she like? Can she breathe underwater?”
“She’s . . . unique.”
“Does she live in the pond or near the pond?”
“I’ve never actually seen her home,” said Kay after a short pause. “She’s always splashing around in the water.”
“Is she beautiful?” Pig assumed so. She just wanted to hear Kay say it.
“I’d imagine she’s a specific type.”
This did not sate Pig. “Is she kind? Can she sing? What is her favorite color?” The questions were just spilling out of her mouth as they formulated in her mind. She could not control herself.
“Just save your questions for when you meet her, Pig,” said Kay. “Just don’t waste her time with the silly ones.”
“I just can’t help it. I’m so excited!”
“So I gathered.”
“I just wish we’d get there already—what’s that terrible smell?” Pig’s nose picked up a familiar scent, but it was only similar to that of gong, not exactly the same. It was . . . more watered down.
“That would be our destination,” said Kay as he brought his horse to a stop and dismounted. When Pig did not follow immediately, he turned to her. “Are you coming? I thought you were impatient to meet her.”
“Yes, of course.” She hopped down from the saddle. After securing her pony next to Kay’s horse on a tree branch, she followed him to an old willow tree and waited as he parted the draping branches. Pig’s heart beat wildly in anticipation of the sparkling waters that would surely be revealed, but when the branches parted, they exposed a dank marshland.
“Here we are: the domain of the Lady of the Lake,” said Kay, allowing Pig to step through before him. “Of course, the term lake is being used liberally in this case.”
“Where is the lady?” Pig scanned the waters for movement, nearly tripping as she stepped back into a mushy spot of land. She pulled her foot out and gagged at the slimy substance clinging to her shoe.
“Come now, Pig. It can’t be worse than the sites and smells you encountered at your last job.” Kay chuckled.
“Yes, but one expects the pits to be unpleasant,” she said. “This is the mystical realm of the Lady of the Lake. It should be beautiful and enchanting. Where are the sparkling waters? The mystical fog? The baby ducklings?”
“You need to start setting your expectations lower,” said Kay.
They both turned to face the pond. Pig’s eyes peered into the scum-covered water. Sure enough, someone or something was paddling over.
“Sir Kay, is that you?” It was the voice of a woman that spoke between gargled breaths as she came to the shoreline and pulled herself onto land.
Pig was shocked to see that aside from the stray foliage, shells, and pond scum that clung to her skin, she was absolutely naked. Thankfully, all of the naughty parts were covered by unimaginably long blonde hair* that reached down to her buttocks. Caught in the nappy tangles was an assortment of water life, some of which were still alive and flopping. Pig could not help but stare. The woman smiled as she came before Pig’s knight. “Kay, it is you.”
“Aye, it’s me,” said Kay, keeping his distance.
“My God,” she gasped as she looked him up and down. “You’ve gotten fat.”
“It’s taken me years to become so,” said Kay. His eyes ping-ponged about the marshlands, searching for something—anything—to look at other than the naked woman standing before him. Meanwhile, she smiled expectantly at him, waiting for a compliment in return. Coughing into his hand, he managed. “I see you’ve grown your hair out—a good decision.”
“Oh, thank you.” She smiled, fiddling with the ends. “I was actually thinking of cutting it.”
Her smile widened. Then she turned her large blue eyes on Pig. “Who’s this?”
“Oh, that would be my new page, Pig.”
“Pig,” she said, a bit unsure, and then beamed as though a light bulb had gone on in her head. “I have just the thing for you in my waters, Pig. Be back in a jiff.”
Before either one could stop her, the lady was back in the lake, diving to the bottom of the water. Within minutes, she arose with a dagger, encrusted with jewels and a thick coating of rust.
“I present to you, young Pig, this gift,” said the lady as though she were speaking at an important ceremony rather than standing in the middle of a filthy pond. “Here take it.” She offered the dagger to Pig, who reached out for it in haste.
“No, she can’t have it.” Kay swatted Pig’s hand away and pushed the rusty thing back towards the lady.
“But, Sir Kay!” Pig watched in horror as the lady chucked it back into the waters.
“Quiet, lad.” Kay shot her a look of warning.
Pig slumped in defeat.
Turning back to the Lady of the Lake, Kay said in a more gentle tone, “Actually, if you don’t mind, I came for a specific item.”
“What is it Sir Kay seeks?” The lady tilted her head. “Perhaps I have it. There are all sorts of mystical treasures hidden in the waters. It’s God’s little treasure chest down there, and I am its keeper.”
“Er, right,” said Kay, avoiding her eerie gaze. “Well, I’m looking for a breadbox of sorts, possibly holy. Would you happen to have one of those floating about your pond?”
“I must consult with the powers that be,” she said, gaze drifting off. Then she stepped back into the center of the lake. “Be right back.” Sucking in a large chest full of air, she plugged her nose and sank to the bottoms of the water. Air bubbles popped at the surface of the water until there were no more. For a second, both Pig and Kay were sure she had drowned until, at last, she resurfaced, cradling an object in her arms.
“Sir Kay, I bestow upon you this.” She handed him a square metal item covered in holes. It too was rusted.
“A cheese grater?” Pig turned to Kay.
“It’s very nice, I’m sure,” said Kay to the lady. “But didn’t you find any holy bread baskets while you were down there?”
“I was not meant to give you this breadbox, nor do I know what one is,” she said, a little indignant. “It seems you were meant to carry out your quest.”
“That’s why I came here!” Kay groaned. “So I wouldn’t have to go questing.”
The lady took on a hurt expression. “And here I thought you missed me.”
“Oh, aye, that too.” Kay rubbed the back of his neck and turned away quickly as the lady leaned forward for a hug. “Well, better shove off, quest and all.”
“Farewell, Sir Kay,” The lady waved to him as she stepped slowly back into the lake, falling back into the waters with a loud splash. Pig and Kay watched her flail a bit before regaining her composure and sinking into the waters. Then they turned back.
“So, was she all you expected?” Kay asked Pig as he untethered his horse and led it back onto the path.
“She was more nautical than I imagined she would be,” said Pig after some thought. She waited until they had mounted their steeds and were back on the path before asking, “Why didn’t you let me have that dagger?”
“You’re not ready for one,” said Kay without missing a beat. “Besides, you won’t need one for this journey, as short as it will be.”
“Short?” Pig frowned. “What is our new destination?”
“The City of Un’Named,” said Kay after a moment’s thought. “The city hosts a huge market. There, we’ll purchase some supplies and one of those holy something or others.”
“Holy Breadbox,” said Pig. “And you can’t just buy a breadbox and call it holy.”
“Come on, lad. Do you think it actually exists?” Kay laughed. “It’s just some ridiculous vision that Merlin had. There’s no truth to it.”
“What about the Holy Grail? He also envisioned that.”
“Also a fake,” he said. “This is why the other knights are going to be finding their grails at a market as well. If they’re smart, they’ll split the cost.”
“What did I tell you earlier?” said Kay. “It’s time for you to start lowering your expectations.”
*Blond being loosely used to describe her hair color.
That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed it. Knowing I brought a smile to someone’s face definitely brightens my rainy Monday morning.
If you’re interested in downloading a larger sample, click here to visit the Amazon sales site, no purchase necessary.
The book is available in both paperback and e-formats for those of you who would like to purchase it.
Again, Happy Monday to everyone!