Author: Scott J Kramer
Series Title and Number: Territory Novel #1
Publisher: Prizm, A Torquere Imprint
Cover Artist: Kris Norris
Release Date: 3/23/2016
Length: 65,000 words
Categories: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Goodreads | Torquere
Twelve year old Kara is on the run from King La’ard, but she doesn’t know why. Something is after her. Becoming trapped in the Territories, where humans are unknown and elves, orcs and dwarves roam the lands, Kara finds comfort with a Dwarc named Hambone, Dante the werefox, and Grace the sprite. In her effort to get back to the human land of Faldoa, she finds the assistance of a reluctant wizard and becomes the prey of an assassin elf. Kara must find a way back to Faldoa and then also deal with the evil thing stalking her. Previously published by Turquoise Morning Press, 2012.
As she surfaced from sleep, Kara could feel her damp, mud-sodden clothes clinging to her. Any little movement caused the cold wetness to seep further into her bones. Soft sunlight heated her cheek but that was the only part of her warm. Muck crusted her eyes, making them stick a bit as she opened them. Some dried dirt broke off from her lashes and blurred her sight.
Another coughed rippled her lungs, expelling the remaining river water. Her head ached. Actually, Kara found her whole body ached from her battle with the river.
Where am I? Where is Birch? Why had she gone into the river? Her mind searched for answers, but her memories were hazy. Witch Guard, fire, her father. An uncle?
She blinked her eyes, clearing more of the mud.
Above her, a large hand with huge fingers reached for her. A monster!
The hand darted away. The figure jumped back and took off running. An echoing scream erupted from it.
Blood pumped through her body and forced movement. She rolled to her feet and stood with a cough. Pain throbbed in her head, causing her to stoop closer to the ground. All her senses were on alert wanting to know who that hand belonged to. She rubbed her eyes, clearing away the last of the mud.
“Hello?” It came out as a questioning but anguished cry.
The forest looked empty. The hand, the monster, whatever it was was gone. Kara waited and listened, not sure what she’d do if something responded.
A bird chirped in the distance and the river waves made small sounds as they lapped upon the shore. And then, there it was. Snap! A small twig broke under a heavy foot, somewhere behind one of the trees to her left.
“Hello?” Kara tried to insert confidence into her voice.
Nothing answered back.
“I know you’re there! You might as well come out…slowly. I warn you. I’ve got a big stick and I’m not afraid to use it.” Her voice held command, but inside fear gripped her.
Kara glanced behind her at the river. The far shore was a good quarter mile away. A chill rippled her spine. Which side of the river am I on?
“Come out!” But her own voice betrayed her as it cracked. She had no weapon to defend herself with except a thin stick. And if this wasn’t Faldoa, then it must be the Territories and there could be anything on the other side of that tree.
A hand appeared around one of the nearby oaks, the same hand that had been reaching for her.
Her breath caught at the sight of it. Already, Kara could tell it was not human. The skin was a pale, pasty color. Five sausage-like fingers complete with dirty nails wrapped around the tree. Dark hair covered the muscular arm that wrapped the trunk.
Within a few seconds, the rest of the creature came into view.
Kara’s original gasp almost turned to laughter, but shock held her in check at the sight of the beast. Most people would expect the monster attached to that arm would be a horrible picture, but the arms were the worst of it. The rest of him was just plain ludicrous.
Dressed like a prairie farmer, giant overalls covered the massive forearm and a short, faded red shirt covered the rest of its torso. A hat made of some reeds and straw barely fit over its long locks of bark colored hair. A large mustache trailed under a large doorknob nose. A partially braided beard hung off its chin.
“I-I’m sorry I scared you. I didn’t mean any harm.” The voice was gruff, but intelligible. It reminded her of the fat men in town when they talked.
Kara stared, not moving, still unsure of the sight before her.
“I’m…I’m Hambone.” the beast said, offering an out-stretched hand, but not daring to take a step closer. “Nice….ta…meet you?” The creature had an awkwardness to it that made it seem simple.
“What…umm? I’m…Kara.” Kara stumbled over her words. He didn’t look like anyone, or anything she had ever seen before. No doubt about it, she was in the Territories. It was a land of the non-human races, and this creature was about as non-human as they go.
“I’m a dwarc. Part orc and part dwarf.” Hambone seemed pleased by this fact. He relaxed a bit.
Her father once read to her about elves and dwarves and fairies, but that was just childhood tales. Or was it?
“I’ve never met a…” Again, unsure of how to express anything, Kara’s voice sputtered out.
“I think I am the only one. Unique in a way. Mom called me her special Orc-kin. Dad was the dwarf.” He started to take a step toward her, but she immediately backed up.
“Stay there!” Water splashed at her ankles as she stepped into the river.
Hambone looked a little shocked by the fierce command.
“It’s okay. I understand. I look scary. I got my size from my mom, and hair and brains from my dad.” He turned his back on her and took a couple of steps away. “I’ll go now.”
“No…wait. It’s not…” Kara said uncertainly. She looked up and saw that the creature was listening intently. “Someone was chasing me….and I jumped into the river.”
Hambone’s eyes went wide. “Who would be chasing something as….small as you?”
“Um…” And Kara pressed hard to remember all that had happened in the last few hours. “The…Witch Guard?” Why was she so confused?
“The Witch Guard? They sound like a nasty bunch. Magic can be dangerous.”
“Magic? Don’t be silly. There is no magic in Faldoa.” Kara laughed.
“This isn’t Faldoa.”
Kara stared at Hambone, “Oh, no. I was afraid I was on the wrong side of the river.”
Hambone looked taken aback. “Um…it’s not the wrong side to me. It’s perfectly nice here in the Territories. Actually, Macada, if you want to get even more specific.”
It was Kara’s turn to look bewildered. “Macada?” Panic crept into her voice. But how will I get home?”
“I don’t know,” Hambone said. “Maybe you’ll have to stay here forever.”
“B-but…but t-that’s not…p-possible. I belong in Faldoa. My father is in danger, and I need to get home. Please, you must help me.”
Ever since Scott’s mother denied naming him Scott Fitzgerald Kramer, writing has been in his blood. He watched his grandfather use an old-fashioned typewriter to compose memories about his grandmother. Finding out quickly that typewriters didn’t like him, Scott began carrying a scrap of paper and a pencil. Word processing changed his fate.
Scott lives in Cincinnati with his beautiful wife and two adorable little girls. During the day, Scott as Mr. Kramer terrorizes sixth grade students, forcing them to read and write. Slowly, they come to realize that reading is fun and writing is something they have to do to pass his class.
Kara is Scott’s first novel in the Territory Series. Soon to follow will be Euphoria and Taylon, books two and three. You can visit Scott at http://scottjkramer.wordpress.com/
Rafflecopter Prize: eBook copy of Kara by Scott J Kramer