A band of teenagers in a medieval world escape in to the wild in search of freedom and themselves.

The times are medieval. A work house high up in the mountains cringes next to a dark forest without boundaries. Meet a pair of sadists who harass and torment three teenagers and a small child forced to live there. Two siblings, orphans from a noble family, keep their origins a secret to the rest of its inhabitants. A poor farm girl and a young boy with his heart on the altar decide that enough is enough.

They escape to the dark bowels of an unknown world with hopes of happiness and freedom. They are helped and led by a handsome young hunter with an unknown past and a feisty girl, who seek escape for reasons of their own.

Feel the pangs and joys of their first loves, and encounter painful social and religious hypocrisies and superstitions that threaten to tear them apart. Bandits, murderers, predators, soldiers, even a faceless beast of terrifying dimensions crowd along their perimeter. But they fight to keep and preserve their one true possession: freedom.

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Excerpt from A Glow in the Forest by Jude Perera © Copyright 2024 Jude Perera

Chapter 1

All Alone

Aurelia almost fell off her perch on the window seat as the wolves bayed, so close. She peered through the darkness and cloud to see if she could spot them, the beating of her heart hurt her ribs. Their plaintive cries shred her nerves and her resolve for the mission at hand. She gripped her father’s bejeweled dagger even tighter; it bit in to the palm of her hand. She looked across and saw Aden sleeping peacefully on the cold stone floor; a flimsy piece of linen separated his puny frame from the freezing floor. That was a relief. He needed his strength and rest for the long night ahead. They had not told him how big the night was going to be. Lidith was standing guard outside the strong oak door to Maud and Viktor’s room, just to be certain. Orla should have knocked them out for the night with her potion. That was the plan. She could see, just barely in the dark, Hywel’s painfully emaciated frame a few paces away from Aden. She could picture him trembling with fear, his eyes wide open. He was a pack of nerves and she was still uncertain whether he would go through with it.

Usually the wolves prowled along the border between the woods and the forest, hunting for stray fowl, cattle, and other livestock. But they had gotten bolder with hunger in recent times and made daring forays in to homesteads including the Tower. Their firm bonding within the pack and seamless teamwork conferred confidence on them, which they used to bloody effect. They had killed their two dogs in the months gone by. Aurelia shivered as she recalled their grisly remains.

Christen has told them often that the forest had no boundaries, if there were, he did not know of it. It was a sanctuary for bandits and murderers. He also told that all sorts of predators roamed the forest. Leopards, panthers, brown bears, wolves, wild boar, and even massive boa constrictors. He had killed a panther right in front of them; the beast nearly wiped out her sanity without leaving a scratch on her person. She could feel goose bumps blossom on her skin as the memory came back. They were now about to enter the panther’s haven for the first time. She was not feeling so confident anymore. And the dagger felt limp in her hand. Everyone spoke of the forest in hushed tones, never to be experienced. The only creature she did not fear was a hairy tall spirit with blood shot eyes and jagged sharp teeth, said to live in the forested peaks; which had a peculiarity for human flesh. The one that looked like a man. Even Chrisent thought it was a legend, told by grandmothers and mothers to scare their children off the forest and make them eat their rye and barley porridge. Two farmers who had strayed in to the forest had seen it, but their addictive fascination for the locally brewed ale ruined the credibility of their tale. The wolves howled again, but this time the sound was fading. She blamed her father and mother for leaving them and dying. There was no reason for it.

Why? You think killing any one is what our Lord wanted?”

She could still hear her mother questioning her father’s reason or lack of it for going to war in the far deserts. It was supposed to be a holy war against the infidel. She had never heard them quarrel before.

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