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First Page: Unpublished Manuscript (Fantasy)

First Page: Unpublished Manuscript (Fantasy)

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

Apprentice Rhea Lasko was the first to Old Silas’s farm. She sat by herself on the wall, looking up and down the ancient cobbled path before her, hitting her nail against her bottom teeth. For the past hour she had been this way, waiting for superiors and the priest who was to oversee her. Being the first to a job was part of Rhea’s self-designed routine. Sometimes, she felt like she was always waiting.

The old path before her was one that Rhea had walked many times, usually when visiting friends and doing jobs outside the Province’s capital city . It was a long line along the largely uninterrupted landscape of hills and fields, bridging the gap between the farms and small villages that sat in between the capital city and the other cities nearest to it. The stones that made up this ancient, well worn were falling apart where they lay, leaving the structure very uneven in places. The Court had many better things to spend their money on, however, and the cities with their big screens, monorails and numerous cars would forever remain a priority.

In Rhea’s bag was a sling, the leather seat folded and bound up in its own strings. It was the only weapon with which she felt properly skilled. Slings, bows, swords and other weapons were often owned by people who needed to protect themselves – there was no way that anyone outside of the Royal Court would be allowed to use a firearm. At any rate, a sling was perfect for all of Rhea’s needs. It was small, and it was effective. Properly, aimed, it could even be used to herd animals. Rhea had seen it done and it was very impressive.

Rhea stayed there on the wall for what felt like hours, back straight and nail hitting her teeth, until finally the two she was waiting for arrived. They were a young in a short red dress very similar to Rhea’s and a brother from the nearby temple. Once he was close enough to see properly, Rhea guessed that he was somewhere in his late thirties. She slid awkwardly off the wall and offered them a wave, causing the young woman to break out into a smile.

“Rhea,” she chirped, pulling the girl into a tight hug and not letting go until Rhea spluttered for air. Having been a very close to this woman since the age of eleven, Rhea was very used to this form of greeting.

“Morning, Eireen,” said Rhea, a smile growing on her face despite the pain her lungs felt. “I was wondering when you’d arrive.”

Eireen was twenty-one now and very different from Rhea in appearance. She was a tanned young woman with long blonde hair she tied up every morning and eyes that were light grey in colour. Rhea, a week from her seventeenth birthday, had eyes that were a very dark brown. Her skin was almost as dark, and she loved her shoulder-length hair despite the odd distasteful comment she used to get from teachers about it being too wild or in need of taming.

“This is Brother Thomas,” said Eireen, gesturing to the robed man standing beside her. “Enchanter Dion asked him to oversee our work today, okay? Just in case anything goes wrong.”

Brother Thomas nodded, looking Rhea firmly in the eye “From what I understand Old Silas wishes for you to place a warding spell around his flocks in order to protect them. If a warding spell is absolutely necessary, then it is my duty to ensure that he is spiritually protected.”

“Did Silas ask for protection?” asked Rhea.

“Of course he did,” said Brother Thomas. “Without a request I wouldn’t be here.”

First Page: unpublished manuscript M/M Historical Romance

First Page: unpublished manuscript M/M Historical Romance

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

“Stupid!” Lucky exclaimed, breaking the rain-soaked silence. “You’re so stupid! What did I do to wind up with such a stupid brother?”

“It was an innocent mistake, Lucky.” Frank shoved his hands in his pants pockets and scowled at the car that shot by, splattering his shoes with dirty water, even though he was pressed all the way back against the building, under the awning. “Anybody could’ve done it.”

“No.” Lucky flicked ash from his cigarette. “Falling for that hijacker trick was stupid. You knew your orders. Don’t stop for nothing when you’ve got a full truck.”

“I said I was sorry!”

“Sorry ain’t gonna be good enough for the Boss.” Frank could see now that Lucky’s hands were shaking, though it wasn’t that cold for April. “Not when somebody else is distributing the product we risked our necks to bring in. It almost would have been better if you’d gotten caught. They might have released you. Or it would have made a nice excuse to go to war. Now it just looks bad for me, your brother, who recommended you for the job.”

“You don’t seriously mean I should’ve died?”

Lucky sighed. “No. It’s my fault. I thought you understood what was putting food on your table your whole life. I thought you wouldn’t just abandon the truck when you got in a tight spot. You had backup three blocks away.”

“Thanks,” said Frank bitterly. He wanted to put a tough face on it, but he was more humiliated than he’d ever been in his life. He’d lost the organization serious money, a lot of booze, and a truck, looking like nothing more than a wet-behind-the-ears kid. He hoped the Irish boys had enjoyed a good laugh along with their booze, at the sight of a Masi Family soldier fleeing down the street before they’d so much as fired a shot.

The door to the apartment building opened behind them.

“Come on up,” said the sentry. He didn’t look directly at either of the two brothers.

“Okay.” Lucky pitched his cigarette into the street and slapped Frank on the back. “Let’s go, kid. Best thing to do now is own up to it and maybe you won’t find yourself waking up at the bottom of Lake Michigan tomorrow morning.”

The sentry led the way up the carpeted stairs. It was an old building, still lit by gas, and the effect made shadows dance in the stairwell as the three men made their way up. Frank had never met anyone higher ranking in the organization than Lucky, who was a Capo, only a couple steps ahead of him and the leader of their crew of soldiers. Even Lucky only reported directly to the Underboss, not the big man.

The closer they got to the top, the more he felt the urge to run again. Then, he thought of how he must have looked on Friday, tearing down the street so fast his hat flew off.

No, he’d face this, like the man he was supposed to be.

When they reached the top, Lucky knocked twice on the door. “Luca Denino.”

“Come in,” growled a voice.

Lucky opened the door, taking off his hat. Frank quickly copied him, schooling his expression into one of remorse. Maybe he ought to think of it like church.

The apartment’s front room was dark and smoke-filled. Frank recognized three of the men at the table as friends of Lucky, other Capos. Then, there was the Underboss and the Consigliere, both of whom Frank had seen briefly, visiting various hangouts of their gang. The man in the middle was the Boss, Rocco Masi. Frank had never met him, but he’d seen his photo in the papers and remembered bragging as a kid about the notorious bootlegger his brother worked for (which had earned him a rare thrashing).

Then, Frank noticed the man standing behind the Boss, the youngest of the group; he could have been Frank’s own twenty-one. His bearing was different than that of the big tough guys who made up the rest of the table. It wasn’t just his build, or the piercing gray eyes that were presently assessing Frank. There was something unusual about him that Frank couldn’t quite articulate.

He didn’t drag his gaze away until Masi himself spoke.