M. Terry Green is putting the finishing touches on Trapped, the second book in her Chronicles of White World series. She has graciously granted us permission to post an excerpt from that novel.
Trapped by M. Terry Green
Though much of the crowd would drift away in the afternoon, Céfiro always found this part riveting. The circus was in full swing. On the ice floor of the coliseum, troops of clowns and acrobats performed in seven rings. At the far left, one juggler tossed flaming torches high in the air. To either side of him, two more passed tumbling axes in front of and behind him. A tall pyramid of human bodies, feet on shoulders, was growing at the far right. In the circle next to it, clowns in colorful ballooning clothes walked on pointed stilts that seemed too thin to support them.
Beyond the top of the great, circular arena, the constant wind buffeted the surrounding pennants. Brilliant sunshine flooded the ice, casting short, harsh shadows on the glittering surface. Even without the wind, the temperature was just above freezing.
“Bravo,” Chucho cried out. He waved his scepter, jangling the rows of bells. “Bravo!”
Though the king and queen had left the royal box an hour ago, the little jester had stayed. Céfiro didn’t know what in particular he was watching, nor did he care. The only interesting performance was at the center.
Dangling from several thick ropes strung from the high rectangular frame, the aerial acrobats were at work. The young women pirouetted in midair as the ropes whipped in spirals below them. They wore hardly any clothing, little more than bands of elastic cloth at hips and breasts. Their bodies gleamed as they worked up a sweat. Though they were far away, Céfiro imagined their young, smooth skin would be flawless. Now as a synchronized group, they inverted, seeming to dangle with only a loop of rope around their ankles. Holding their weight like that, it would have to leave a mark. Céfiro could almost feel the dimpled grooves under his fingertips.
Chucho coughed, a deep and watery sound. But only when his scepter hit the floor did Céfiro look. The little man was standing with a hand to his mouth. As he usually did, he stood at the front of the box where he could see over the low wall. Still facing the arena, he backed up in stiff-legged steps until he hit the queen’s chair. He rolled along its front edge, finally facing Céfiro. Chucho’s eyes bulged, and he pressed both hands over his mouth.
As Céfiro watched, his miniature features turned red. Céfiro cocked a head at the darkening skin, trying to puzzle out why he didn’t just cough. But in answer, dark blood seeped through the spaces between the jester’s fingers. Then he coughed.
Céfiro jumped up and sprang back as spittle mixed with blood sprayed the royal chairs. Chucho’s wet hands couldn’t find purchase on the polished wood, and he slowly sank to the ground.
“Guards!” Céfiro yelled.
©2015 M. Terry Green
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