24 January 2013

Excerpt Thursday: The Welsh Healer by Ginger Myrick

This week, we're welcoming author Ginger Myrick, whose latest title is The Welsh Healer: A Novel of 15th Century England. Join us on Sunday, when Ginger will offer a free copy of the book to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb: 

The Welsh Healer: A Novel of 15th Century England tells the compelling story of a young woman growing up in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War. Spanning the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, it touches upon historical events including the Welsh rebellion, the English army's invasion of France, and their triumph at Agincourt.

Arlais is the gentle and free-spirited daughter of a humble Welsh household. Though just managing to scrape out a living in the rugged hills of northern Wales, her loving environment and strong family ties make for a happy home. But there is more to her than meets the eye. She is endowed with a mystical gift passed down through an ancient line of healers. She has been told her entire life that she is the fulfillment of a prophecy and destined to preserve the bloodline of kings. Despite the wondrous expectations for her future, she is content to wait for her intended mate, a mysterious man seen in a dream on her tenth birthday.

But the Welsh rebellion strikes and turns her world upside down. Arlais is forced to journey across the whole of Britain to live with a distant relative. While the events foretold by the prophecy unfold around her, she settles into the unfamiliar country continuing her path toward fulfilling her destiny and experiencing companionship, heartache, and even love along the way.

**An Excerpt from The Welsh Healer**

The Prophecy

In the tenth year of a child king’s reign

Out of the Northwestern hills of the land

Sired by an adamant nonbeliever

A girlchild born with a healing hand

After the week of a midsummer’s revel

A time when the shadows are on shortest earth

Under the light of a new crescent moon

Is when the latent scion shall give birth

Only after her family’s demise

Will she pass into her mentor’s safe care

Price of her sacrifice for a dark prince

Wounded for life while transformed into hare

The maid shall continue, her only companion

Spirit protector, man turned into beast

Shall guard her until she meets her intended

Unbidden love of a stone from the east

In her long life she will see come to pass

Four kings named Harri ascend to the crown

One returned to his birthright at last

One on a faraway soil brought down

One of them roused from the depths of malaise

The other a young lad delivered from death
Spawn of this last a new dynasty born
Risen from Wales, preserved by her breath
It was a family legend that Briallen had saved the Black Prince from death, brought him back from it, it was said, at the risk of her own life. He had suffered a calamity when she happened to be near, and she had rushed to his side to aid him. Only after ensuring that he would survive had she transformed into a hare to effect her escape and was attacked by one of his hounds. The dog had bitten her hind foot and broken it, leaving her seriously maimed and crippling her for the remainder of her life. It was a selfless deed, especially astonishing for the fact that she was a native of Wales to whom Edward—bearing the title of prince of that land along with crown prince of England—would seem a usurper. But she had saved him nonetheless and nearly forfeited her life in the process.

Caron had sought to commemorate Briallen’s sacrifice by naming the child for the meadow where it had taken place. She put forth the name Arleigh, meaning ‘field of the hare’ in Old English, but her husband with his staunch Welsh nationalism would have none of it. It derived from the original usurpers, the Saxon invaders, who had pillaged and raped and stolen the land of his ancestors, claiming it for their own. They had swept the Welsh westward, finally leaving them with only this last mountain stronghold, a mere portion of their original homeland. How did she expect him to ever agree to that? And besides, it was a male name.

But this had not fazed Caron in the least. She was much more resourceful than that.

“You know, husband,” she began in a contemplative tone, “the signs are consistent with the events foretold in the prophecy. If this child should be the one to fulfill it, she should bear a name to denote her significance.”

“And what traditional Welsh name did you have in mind?” Dylan asked, emphasizing the importance of their heritage and raising his right eyebrow in question. He knew enough of her ways to be wary.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “Arlais means ‘from the temple’. We could honor her destiny and pay tribute to my aunt in the same gesture.”

“Hmm …” he mused, turning her suggestion over in his mind. Finally, nodding his head with a small, resigned smile, he looked up at her and chuckled. “I might have known you would find a means to finagle your wish. You know I could not refuse you even if I were so inclined. Very well, then, you shall have your Arlais.”

Arlais crouched in the soft, springy grass at the edge of the clearing, still as a statue and barely breathing, waiting for the doe to decide whether to linger or flee. The graceful creature took a tentative step forward, lifted the head atop her regal neck, and sniffed the air once … twice … her dewy nostrils flaring gently, trying to ascertain the slightest scent of human, which she had learned to equate with danger. Distinguishing nothing out of the ordinary, she took another step forward and lowered her head to nibble a few blades from the fragrant green carpet.

Arlais exhaled slowly and quietly so not to startle the doe, releasing the air in her lungs in a long, low hiss. Her aspiration was cut off abruptly as the breath caught in her throat a second time. From around the rear of the female fallow deer peeked a miniature version of its mother, an exact replica down to the spots dotting its back and the large white patch marking its hindquarters. Arlais bent lower in the grass, her blue eyes open wide, ignoring the tickling of her nose by a few loose strands of her thick blond hair. The fawn trotted a few jaunty paces, shook its chestnut hide, and playfully flicked its bushy, black-striped tail. It lowered its head to the grass in imitation of the doe and snorted a few times, not really interested in grazing. Then suddenly he kicked up his heels and gamboled around the lea in a gleeful, energetic romp.

Arlais grinned broadly and held a hand over her mouth to stifle any chance noise that might escape and cut short the display before her. The fawn was so cute, bouncing hither and thither, seemingly with a smile on his own face, exhilarated by the bracing mountain air and ecstatic just to be alive. He carried on in the same comical manner for a few minutes, and then, without warning, the doe raised her head, shot a nervous look at the path leading into the clearing, and leapt from the meadow, the fawn following closely after. Only then did Arlais hear the hurried footsteps quickly approaching through the woods.

She turned her head toward the noise and was not surprised to see her brother tumble into the place so recently occupied by the wildlife.

Ginger Myrick was born and raised in Southern California. She is a self-described wife, mother, animal lover, and avid reader and knitter. Along with the promotion for THE WELSH HEALER, and EL REY, she is currently crafting her third novel, which takes place during the U.S. Civil War. She is a Christian who writes meticulously researched historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core. She hopes to persevere with her newfound talent and show the reading community that a romance need not include graphic details to convey deep love and passion.      

Connect with Ginger on Twitter: @ginger_myrick    Facebook     Goodreads      Amazon