By: Laura Seeber
Five stories tell of a world teetering on the brink of chaos. Five people who fight to dream, to love, to scheme, and to survive. Five glimpses into a time when a life was shaped by spirits just as much as the sword. It is a world where the lines between a truth and a lie, life and death, and love and obsession shift like the wind.
The Northern Problem and Other Stories offer a glimpse into the lives of those that would later come together in The Spring and Autumn Murders. Before passion, murder and intrigue would bring them together, the very same would threaten to tear their world apart.
Excerpt from “The Northern Problem” in The Northern Problem and Other Stories
The next morning, Kai awoke to the sound of movement around him. He laid there for a few more moments, his mind processing the sounds. There was the sound of footsteps, assured and calm walking behind him. There was the clang as someone dropped a spear tip onto the hard ground. There were the muffled groans of someone trying his best to wake up without looking like a fool. There was the neighing and snorting of the horses as they got their morning meal.
Good. They weren’t under attack. Those muffled groans would have turned into excited squeals by now if they were.
He opened his eyes and sat up, moving the animal skins off of his body and reaching for his tunic. It stank of yesterday’s long march, but it would have to do. There hadn’t been time, or access to water to wash his clothes. Kai looked at the padded armor that he had placed on the ground beside him last night. It smelled of smoke, of body odor, and once he brought it closer, the smell of rotted meat assailed his nose.
“This is going to be fun,” he muttered as he got dressed for the day. Looking around him, he saw the faces of the other soldiers, frowning and grimacing involuntarily as they donned the same clothes that he did. Kai shook his head and wondered if the enemy would know that they were coming simple by sniffing the air.
Of course, if they held to tradition, this wouldn’t be a surprise attack. The messenger sent to the northern frontier would make sure that the enemy knew that a force, thousands strong was coming to make war upon them. True, they only numbered in the hundreds, but what’s a little exaggeration among rivals, right? Kai shook his head. He wasn’t sure exactly what was in store for him and his men when they reached the northern frontier, but he doubted that it was something more than they could handle.
Kai pulled on his boot on, and wrapped the pads around his legs securely. Now neither the autumn chill of the mountains or a slash from a spear was likely to penetrate his armor. True, a well shot arrow would make short work of things, but his shield would certainly stop any of those. He doubted though that any of the dog people had weapons that would match the strength and might that was descending upon them. After all, they were drastically outnumbered, and out matched.
Laura Seeber has worked as a geologist, an environmental consultant, and a freelance writer. She currently divides her time between her own environmental consulting business, handling various ghostwriting and freelance writing projects, and her own fiction writing. Her interests include history, outdoor activities, martial arts, mysteries, and non-fiction material. The Spring and Autumn Murders is her first novel. She currently lives in Illinois with her husband, Michael.
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