Goddess of a Mad King Excerpt- Ma’tuk

Goddess of a Mad King by Jody J Hill is an epic fantasy novel told from the viewpoints of the four main characters. The following is an excerpt from one of the protagonists:

After the morning meal, Ma’tuk took A’unvak by the hand and led her towards the small creek that flowed from the hot-spring. They walked barefoot along the streambed, allowing the warm water and rocky bottom massage their feet as they talked about the children and the winter provisions. The topic of his leaving in the morning was carefully avoided until they rested on a grassy bank.

“Aun, I know you think that I am eager to see this done. That is true.” He threw a pebble into the slow-moving water and watched the water-striders skitter away from its ripples. “This hangs over my head, leaving little room for thoughts of the future.”

A’unvak ran her fingers through her thick hair and started twisting it in a loose braid. “It is our future that I’m worried about. The dangers you will face — the soldiers, your brother, and that flying creature, how can one man overcome so many?”

Ma’tuk lay back against the grass and closed his eyes. “I must have faith that the prophecy will hold true and I will return with Breaton and Shaheen.” The image of the strange blue river flowing over their village played in his mind. He snapped his eyes open to the white clouds dancing across the sky. “Aun, have you ever seen a corruption of the Dweller’s spirit?”

Her eyes took on a distant look. “Once,” she said after a moment. “A young child of three years.” She paused recalling her experience.

“What did you see?” Ma’tuk rolled onto his side to look at her sorrow filled face.

“Her mother talked of the child’s behavior, calling it violent and evil.” Aun lay down next to Ma’tuk as if to take shelter in his welcoming arms. “They brought the girl to El’atuk to discern the Dweller’s purpose. Old Mother started a Seeing but the spirit inside the child fought back. The link between them became a bridge and the girl’s gift took hold of El’atuk and shook Old Mother until she fell unconscious.” Aun snuggled closer before continuing, “The link didn’t break though. The shaking continued and spread to the child’s mother. Old Mother was bleeding from the ear. I needed to do something.”

A’unvak’s words came faster as she relived the memory. “I grabbed the child as her mother collapsed and I felt as though a giant hand was squeezing me like a doll. I felt a tingling as if my limbs were sleeping and then my body was shaken.” She pushed her head into his shoulder, whispering the story’s ending. “I had no choice, Ma’tuk. She was killing me. I managed to free one of my hands and grab a knife….”

He comforted her with his tight embrace and planted kisses in her hair. “Aun, you have no fault. The spirit in the child gave you no choice. You probably saved Old Mother’s life and the life of the child’s mother.”

“That is what the Ancient Ones said, but I question my actions. Could I have simply put the child down? Should I have tried to carry her out of the lodge before I succumbed to the shaking?”

“You have a mother’s heart. If you knew any way to protect the others and save the girl you would have done it.” Echoing her words, he said, “You had no choice.” They lay in the late autumn sun together, enjoying each other’s presence, Ma’tuk retelling Aun’s story to himself. If one child can do so much, what can that overwhelming flow do to the Na’uk? If Shaheen and Breaton are the keys to survival, I will do everything in my power to bring them here.

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