Khantara: Volume 1
By Michelle Franklin
Khantara is a Haanta conqueror, meant to wage war and rule over the enemy nation of Thellis, but after vanquishing Thellis and occupying a construction of a Haanta outpost, he meets Anelta, a woman enslaved by her own people bearing a brand of servitude on her neck. Khantara contrives to save her from a cruel home and bring her to the refuge his people can provide, but how can he do so successfully when the eyes of Thellis are upon him?
Release: November 16, 2012 / $2.99 (ebook) / $11.99 (print)
Epic Fantasy, Romance
Paper Crane Books
ExcerptAlthough the sun was beginning to set over the outpost, and the chief of the prevailing light would soon
be the fires of the celebration behind him and the dim hint of the luminaries above, Khantara’s walk
was well supplied with the echoing calls of nighthawks and the coos of owls to support his journey.
This lane had become a favourite for his nightly walks: it was wide enough to house his immense form
and slender enough that the gales from the nearby Eastern Sea could be caught between the copses of
trees lining the path. Here was all his tranquility: in the sounds of rustling leaves and shivering boughs;
in the cries of chicks calling out for their mother and in the swoop of the mother attending them; in the
subdued scents of the unfamiliar flora around him, in their brilliant alloys and in the velvet texture of
their petals. All his equanimity swiftly returned, and he blessed his surroundings for renewing his peace
of mind and securing his solitude. He had only to walk, to remark, and to listen.
The nighthawks adorning his shoulders told of their various discoveries: of fruits fallen from trees, of
seeds from sacks being conveyed to the marketplace, of new nesting grounds on the other side of the
Eastern Sea. One nighthawk spoke proudly of her young eyas taking flight for the first time, and another
pronounced the same only her eyas flew longer and higher than the first hawk’s had done. Some spoke
of worms billowing and burrowing out from the ground during the morning rains, some spoke of their
good fortune to beat the owls at catching mice, and while this was idle raillery to the birds, it was all
felicity to Khantara, whose only wish for the remainder of the evening was to be quiet and indulgent.
His quietude, however, was suddenly broken; he came to the end of the lane whereupon he observed
the lights in the windows of a small home. Though the house had always been at the end of the path,
he had never noticed it before; his walks were usually taken well past gloaming, once all the business
and animation in the markets had done and all fires within the homes had gone out. Now, however,
the house at the end of the lane with its want of splendor, its gabled yard, its unadorned windows, its
cheerlessness, beckoned his notice. It was a pitiable home, one quite hidden away from the rest of the
human settlement, separated by a sanded walkway and a line of weeping ferns.
The situation and consequence of the house, however, had not disturbed Khantara so much as the
commotion within it had done. A few strident shouts from a male voice rang out, and in another
moment, the front door to the house was thrown open and out stormed a furious and ranting Thellisian
man. He thundered down the sanded walkway leading toward the more lively part of the settlement,
but was stopped by someone emerging from the home. A woman appeared in the doorway, terrified
and anxious, her shoulders tense and her hands in a pleading posture as though begging the man not to
leave. She said a few inaudible words and hastened to the edge of the yard to detain him further.
Khantara watched them speak to one another from his place in the shadows and studied their apparent
disparities while they were engaged in strained conversation. Where the man was short and robust,
the woman was tall and frail, and where he was stout and well-dressed, less could be said for her. The
woman’s dress was unremarkable and faded, her complexion pastel, and her person saddened and
distressed. A few terse and unkind phrases passed from the man to the woman: he would be going
out, he would be enjoying his time at the tavern and inn, and he would give her no answer of when he
should be expected to return when asked. He turned to leave, but the woman would convince him to
stay: she had a shy look about her, offered him a warm meal and a promise of something more later in
the evening, but her desperate attempt did not answer. The man seemed appalled and angered by her
offer. He scoffed in disdain, turned his back, and continued toward town, leaving the woman standing
at the edge of the yard with little more than her wounded pride and bare feet to support her dampened
spirits. For a moment, she seemed as though she might call out to him, but her mortification had
silenced her. She appeared despondent at the man’s departure despite the cruelty with which she had
been treated. She regarded the lights of town in the distance and sighed, seemingly more disappointed
in herself for failing to endear him than she was at being publically harangued. She turned toward the
house but could not continue; she was too disconsolate to reenter the empty and somber home. Her
shoulders wilted, her full lips pouted and quivered, and with a mortified sigh, she wept into her hand.
About the Author
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.
You can find more about Michelle over at her blog: http://thehaanta.blogspot.ca/