An Excerpt: This Huge Space Inside Me

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An excerpt from my work-in-progress historical fiction novel, The Thrall’s Sword!

“Would she ever realize her efforts to love him could never thaw his icy heart?”

Grace Caylor

(Glossary note: Iosa is the Irish word for Jesus)

“What am I looking for?” I whispered.

Tyra pulled her blanket up to her chin and stared up at the thatched roof above us.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s this huge space inside me, wider and emptier than a starless night. Nothin’ I do can fill it up. Nothin’ but God, nothing but the grace He has given us through Iosa. That may not be what you’re looking for, but it’s what we all need, Sigrid. If it weren’t for God bursting inside of me, I wouldn’t be able to stand Ragnar. I’d run. He’d catch me and whip me. I’d run again. But with God, I’ve learned to have compassion on Ragnar. I’ve learned to fill up this void with Iosa’s love and His… strength.”

Tyra gave a gentle, rippling laugh. “God is good, Siri. He is so, so

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The Thrall’s Sword

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Now introducing my novel, The Thrall’s Sword! This is my Christian historical YA novel, at present unpublished–but by God’s grace, it won’t be for long. Keep a look out for updates! Follow my author blog to get updates: gracecaylor.com

On the night Sigrid escapes death on a fiery longship, she loses her mother. Will sweet revenge or a foreign god free her from despair?

The seventeen-year-old Norse slave Sigrid escapes her sacrificial fate in the afterlife, just as the Lord Joar of Bergen murders her mother. When two fishermen rescue her from the seas, the grief-stricken Sigrid joins them on their mission to warn the Irish of the oncoming Viking raiders, secretly plotting to destroy the Lord who has done her wrong. However, as the Irishman Erik teaches Sigrid about God, a power starts to work inside her, transforming her hate into forgiveness—but she doesn’t realize it until the moment of her deepest misery.

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NP2: Chapter 2 of The Healer of Istagun – Prima

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(Image from Google)

This is the second chapter of my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I will be posting a chapter every week. Click here to read Chapter 1. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 2

Prima

I knocked at the door of the thatched roof house. Tap, tap. Ratta-tap. I waited for a moment, then knocked again.

A spindly fairy with fluttering wings opened it, her mouth immediately twisting into a tight grimace. “Gesu wants to see no one—you should get some sleep, little girl.”

I found it funny that she’d call me little, when I was a foot taller than she. Though I supposed eighteen was young compared to the hundreds of years the fairies lived.

“I’m Dahlia and I have an important request,” I said quickly, noticing the blue glass wand she held tightly in her white fist. “Can he heal a girl with the Livs?”

The fairy tapped her wand on the door frame. Tick, tick, tick. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I grabbed her wand, trying to yank it out of her hand. “Hollis is going to die. She needs Gesu’s help.”

Tears came, whether real or pretended I could not tell. I was sorry about my sister and in a hurry all at once. Sinking to my knees, I begged the fairy to help me.

Suddenly I heard the high chatter of several fairies at the door.

“Oh my! What do we do?”

“Poor child, don’t you turn her into sawdust, Prima.”

“Cheer up, girl, Gesu is still awake; I’ll go see if he could help just one more.”

It worked. Of course it did. That was the fairies’ weakness. They gave into sympathy far too easily.

“Get along, ladies—I’ll do the work. You know you can’t be seen.” And with that the fairies’ chatter disappeared before I could ever see one of their faces.

Now Prima, the spindly fairy who had opened the door, pulled me up to my feet. Her pink lips managed a quick, prim smile. “You aren’t goin’ to cry again, are ya?”

Her light green wings beat steadily, as calm as a Spring fairy’s would. I’d never seen a Summer fairy so calm. Or maybe it was I who felt calm in her presence. I imagined the rippling of tall grass and a faint coo-coo of a dove from the woods. Suddenly conscious of myself, I glanced at the wand in her hand. Prima. She must be the soother fairy—after firing up people’s emotions first, of course.

The fairy touched my cheek with her long, slender finger. “No more tears, Dahlia,” she said.

I nodded, slowly. Maybe I should get to sleep.

Wait, what was I thinking!?

Prima lead me into the living room to Gesu, who was seated on an armchair, staring into the fireplace. When he saw me, he ushered me in to sit down on the couch.

The man was broad-shouldered, strong, yet he slouched in the leathery chair as though he was a small fairy with droopy wings. “Why have you come?” he asked, his intense, soulful eyes staring into me.

My cheeks burned. I realized all at once how foolish I’d been to come here and interrupt this man’s rest from the day’s chaos.

“My sister is dead,” I told him, “or will be if you don’t help. She’s in Spring. Is there any way we can get to her and you can heal her? She has the Livs.”

Gesu scratched his dark bristly beard. “No one can cross into another season unless it is their Time.”

I narrowed my brows but managed to level my frustration in my voice as I said, “Yes, of course, sir. But there must be some way, with your powers—”

“—his powers are for healing, Dahlia,” Prima interrupted, her pretty face contorting into an ugly scowl. “He can do nothing more, so you might as well—”

Gesu raised his hand to stop her. “You are right to say that my powers are for healing, Prima. My mission is to heal. And I will use my power to do anything that will bring about such healing.” He smiled at me. “Anything at all.”

Prima looked at him in dead silence, paled, flapping her wings slowly in the shadowy corner.

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, but aware of the respect due to this man, I spoke quietly: “Thank you very much, sir.”

I was speechless after that.

Gesu and Prima did not speak either, as if waiting for me to say something, but for some reason I did not know of anything I wished to say.

“Who are you, Gesu?” I said, because it needed to be said, because if it wasn’t said, I wouldn’t know what to do. Was he trustworthy?

The man lifted his eyes to mine. “It is not the time to reveal such things. I am Gesu, the healer, and that is all you need to know.”

“Of course,” I said quickly, remembering why I was here again. “Please, help me. Hollis is in Spring. Do what you must do to get her out, and to heal her before it’s too late.”

After studying me closely again, Gesu rose from his big leathery chair. “Prima, I need to talk to you alone.”

When the door to another room shut, I gazed at the pictures on the walls.

A painting hung on the wall for each stage of Gesu’s life: first as a newborn, held in the arms of a mother; then as a boy, smiling with a bouquet of flowers; then as a teenager, hard at work in the mines; and then as the forty-year-old he was today, smiling with Minerva by his side. The last one must have been painted today to celebrate her healing, I thought, although bewildered. Even more perplexing was the fact that at each stage, he was surrounded by fairies—not one brand of fairies, but a colorful mixture of yellow Spring fairies, green Summer fairies, orange Autumn fairies, and blue Winter fairies. I had never realized what color the Autumn and Winter fairies were, but now it was obvious, as if I had known it all my life.

Were those the fairies I had heard chatting earlier, the ones Prima had shooed away?

Soon Gesu and Prima returned; Gesu, solemn, Prima, smiling.

“I’m expected to be transferred to Autumn soon,” Gesu said. “Getting a little old, I suppose.”

I tried to laugh, but it came out short and stiff. Why was I afraid of him?

“Prima will take you to Spring.”

But how? I wanted to ask. What was he going to do about the mud walls?

“You will find the way—both of you, together. And I will always be with you.”

The pixie’s wings fluttered ever so slightly as she gazed up in admiration at the huge man.

I shivered, even though the regular warmth of Spring encased me with sweat. I didn’t know what Gesu meant, or who he was. I didn’t know if I could trust him, or this dainty fairy who baffled me almost as much as himself. What if this was a trap? What if Gesu was trying to get rid of me, to let me face the wrath of Queen Hazina, the ruler of Istagun, the builder of the towering mud walls?

All I knew was that Hollis needed me. And she was worth whatever risk I had to take.

NPO: Outline of My Novella

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Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

This is a rough outline of my 10 chapter novella, The Healer of Istagun. Don’t read if you don’t want it spoiled!! Enjoy if you’re a fan of spoilers. ;D

Chapter 1 –
As Dahlia and Andrea work on the fields of Summer, evil fairies order them about and Andrea points out that there’s a young man staring at Dahlia. They argue about their views on marriage, and then the young man comes up and announces to all the Summer fairies that there’s a great healer named Gesu in town. Andrea and Dahlia go to see the healer performing miracles, and Dahlia wants to ask Gesu if he can somehow heal her sister who lives in Spring, but the crowd gets in her way. A long while later she wakes up from consciousness to find the young man asking her if she’s all right. She asks where Andrea is and he tells her. They introduce themselves. Then Dahlia bluntly states she never wants to get married, which sends Tarquin off running.

Chapter 2 –
Dahlia finds Gesu’s house and tries to get in but Prima the green fairy says he’s busy. Finally, after Dahlia makes a show of crying, Prima and many other fairies who appear give in and let her in. After encountering the strange soothing powers of Prima, Dahlia meets Gesu and asks if he can help. During her encounter with Gesu, she discovers pictures of Gesu with fairies from all four seasons. Gesu tells Prima he needs to talk to her alone, and so they go in another room. Dahlia waits in suspense, and then Gesu comes back and tells her that he is busy so Prima is going to take her to Spring. He tells Prima that she will find a way, with the power he gave her when she was a child

Chapter 3 –
During the trip Prima tells Dahlia about how Gesu has magic beyond healing, and that’s why so many fairies willingly serve him instead of the ruler (albeit in secret). She says that he’s more powerful than the ruler, but he’s waiting for the right time to overthrow the fairies. When Dahlia and Prima approach the wall that separates them from Spring, they don’t know how to get on the other side. They try to dig under but give up. Prima suggests she flies over and asks for someone named Hollis, but they know it would take too long, and Dahlia wants to see her sister for herself. Finally, Dahlia tries to climb the wall and Prima flies, trying to pull her up, but they just fall. Then they watch as fairies pass through it (the mud walls move apart magically for them); they try to just walk right through it, but then the muddy walls show that they are mud monsters and they throw Dahlia and Prima away. After much hopelessness, Prima remembers what Gesu said about the power he gave her, and they rush back. Prima soothes the mud monsters and they let them pass through the wall.

Chapter 4 –
Hollis isn’t in Spring. The fairies don’t remember where she went. Little kids are dying from a plague (They don’t know how it’s spread, but later find out that the ruler is trying to kill everyone because he wants to replace them with the Treelanders—their drinking water comes from a water fall Queen Hazina is poisoning). Dahlia hopes she went to Summer, but Prima says she probably went to Winter since she couldn’t work.

Chapter 5 –
Because Dahlia insists on being hopeful, she and Prima return to Summer. But they can’t find Hollis. In fact, they can’t find a lot of other people, and the people they do find are sick (there’s a plague?). And there’s no cure, not even the great healer, because Gesu is gone with all his fairies (no one knows where). So Andrea and Hollis and a lot of other sick people are in Winter, where the dying people and old people go. When Dahlia is looking in the last sick room for Hollis, she sees Tarquin helping the sick. He sees that she is one of the few people not sick and he hurries her and Prima to a room in the basement so she doesn’t catch the sickness and so they can talk without so much noise (he takes his gloves and mouth cover off.) (Just as Dahlia and Prima entered the room, a green fairy enters who doesn’t want anyone to help the people get better and doesn’t want anyone to find Gesu). Tarquin says that he was planning to go find Gesu if she’d like to come along. Prima suggests they try to find Gesu with Tarquin in Autumn on the way to the center of the island because the only other place Hollis could be is in Winter—and maybe Gesu can come with them. Dahlia sees the ship and Tarquin tells her about how he was building it so he could one day sail away (there were rumors about people called Treelanders who lived across the sea). Tarquin makes Dahlia dress up as a miner and they figure Prima can act as a fairy who is putting Dahlia on a new job.

Chapter 6 –
Tarquin, Dahlia, and Prima go to the mine to see if anyone knows where Gesu and his fairies are, but no one knows where they are. A lot of people there are sick, so that’s all the more reason to hurry up and find Gesu. (Dahlia wonders if her parents are there but she never sees them.) The three go to the center of Istagun and see the giant tower and all the fairies. (They hear about the Treelanders who are locked up. Someone says that they are going to take the place of the humans because they are a stronger species.). They try to find their way to Winter, but there are heavy guards, and they are taken to the palace to talk to Queen Hazina. Tarquin asks the ruler where Gesu is. The ruler says he put him in winter where he will quickly die. The ruler puts Tarquin in a dungeon and then throws Dahlia and Prima back into Summer with severe headache spells that make them take awhile to get their bearings.

Chapter 7 –
Not wanting to risk the dungeon by going to the center of the island again, Dahlia decides to go on Tarquin’s almost-built ship around the island to Winter with others who want their sick loved ones back. On the ship Prima says, “Gesu isn’t like the others—people just try to live, but Gesu lives–people just try to be good, but Gesu actually wants to be good and gives people the power they need to be more than alive.” Prima gazed off in the distance. “He isn’t like the others—he wants the whole world to be happy—he loves us, Dahlia—no one else is like that,” Prima took a little breath and sighed. “That’s why I love him, too.” Dahlia and Prima see the winter fairies at sea on the way, where Dahlia sees a bunch of dead people including Gesu (they are taking them to Midfuna Island—where humans are buried). One bad fairy says she’s going to go tell Queen Hazina, and she flies off. Dahlia and Prima have no choice but to go to Winter to see who is left alive. Dahlia finds Tarquin holding the frozen Hollis by a warm fire. He says that a ship went off with all the dead people, and he saved Hollis (he says this very humbly though! XD). Tarquin says he still couldn’t find Gesu, and Dahlia says where she saw him. Dahlia suggests everyone goes to the village where the old people live so they can warm up. Old people gladly welcome them and invite them in and help Hollis get better. The old people figure Queen Hazina didn’t give any poison to them because nothing can grow in Winter, so “it doesn’t matter what happens to them.” Tarquin finds the fairy followers of Gesu and tells her about the song they keep singing, “Long live the King, who will never be King! One drop of his blood, will meet all our needs!”

Chapter 8 –
So Tarquin and Dahlia and the Gesu-fairy followers go on the ship to Midfuna Island to find Gesu. On the way Tarquin and Dahlia talk about the horrible fairies and how no one else seems to realize how horrible they are (“Prima would be offended”). After they find Gesu (by hiding from the winter fairies with help from the Gesu-fairies’ powers), they see that he is dead and then they take his blood and put it in a bottle. They go back to Winter and see that there is a huge battle going on, between the few rebels and old people and the ruler and his fairies. The rebels and elderly are clearly losing.

Chapter 9 –
So Tarquin and Dahlia quickly go about giving the sick people Gesu’s blood (She sees Andrea—and Andrea says something “annoying” about Tarquin). People are healed and they start to help fight the battle—including Dahlia’s parents, who recognize her, and they have a short reunion before they have to go into battle. Gesu’s blood gives them extra power and they win over the fairies and the mud wall monsters—and everything turns into summer. Tarquin and the queen start to fight, but Hollis says to stop, because she has something to tell Queen Hazina. Hollis tells the fairy queen that Dahlia looked so hard for her, and she asks her if she ever knew that kind of love. She says that Gesu died trying to heal everyone, and she asks him if she ever knew that kind of love. She points out that she’s been enslaving the humans to do certain tasks at certain times in certain ways. She says that she’s separated the people so the children grow up without mothers and the parents have to say goodbye to their babies as soon as their born: “How can you let us live like this? Don’t you know anything about love, about loss, about healing? Where is your family, Queen?” The speech deeply moves the queen, but Tarquin quickly kills her in anger. The people are happy and decide to crown Tarquin as the new king.

Chapter 10 –
The Gesu-follower fairies have a funeral for Gesu and talk about all that he did for them. They sing sadly, “Long live the King, who will never be king; only the King in our hearts, to all humans and fairies.” Dahlia and Hollis talk about how they thought the queen was going to change until Tarquin killed him. Dahlia and Hollis reunite with their family. Tarquin knocks on their door and tells Dahlia that he’s going to set the Treelanders free and then sail them off across the sea. He asks Dahlia if she would marry him and be queen and go on the adventure across the sea for their honeymoon. Dahlia is conflicted: she is mad at Tarquin for not giving Queen a second chance, but happy in a way that he is king. Tarquin insists that he is sorry. Finally, Hollis reminds Dahlia of how he took care of her when she was frozen, so then Dahlia agrees to marry him.

 

 

On The Train

I fondle the yellow marigold between my fingers as the rusty train screeches down the track. The sun shines on me through the dark clouds and through the glass window; the wind pulls my hair out of my face.

“I love you,” says a low, murmuring voice. I turn to the stranger on my right, and then whip my head to the seat behind me.

I shake my head, amused with myself. No one is talking to me. I am alone.

I try to remember when the last time I heard those words was. Too long ago. I’m going home now, to my parents who raised me. But home with them is of one kind, while home with my husband is another. I won’t really be home till I die.

“I love you,” says the voice again.

I grip the marigold, and turn hesitantly to the stranger on my left. “Ma’am…?” I say, my voice breaking.

She is a big woman who is idly knitting a scarf in her lap. “Hmm?”

I give a tight smile. “Did you hear some feller say something?” Continue reading