Author: C.M. Skiera
Series: The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy (#1)
Genre: Epic Fantasy (YA/Swords & Sorcery/Coming-of-Age)
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: July 1 2014 (Second Edition)
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook (Digital)
Hounded by watchmen, trolls, goblins, and a relentless bounty hunter, thirteen-year-old Jetsam dreams of the day he’ll no longer have to run for his life. A victim of circumstance burdened with an interminable unlucky streak, each sunrise ushers in more difficulty for the resilient adolescent. An avalanche of life-changing events forces him to boldly decide his future.
In the mountain city of Dwim-Halloe, Eidryn and Elvar were born twins to teachers at the city’s revered School of Sorcery. When the new king outlawed magic, the boys’ parents were murdered. Their deaths forfeited the siblings' magical birthright and made them homeless fugitives.
Rescued by an orphan gang, the water-logged twins were nicknamed Flotsam and Jetsam. To survive as outcasts, the orphans scavenge and pilfer nightly. Their last risky foray sent them fleeing into an unfamiliar cavern. Now the brothers are lost deep underground where they encounter a strange beast that will change their lives forever and begin a harrowing journey for their ultimate survival.
Crimson & Cream recounts Jetsam’s adventurous tale of flight and discovery as the fugitive orphan unravels the tangled mysteries his tortured past while securing his tenuous future.
C.M. Skiera grew up in Michigan and now lives in California with his wife and two rescue Chihuahuas. He works as a professional environmental engineer to pay the bills and has been writing since the mid 1990s. Crimson & Cream is his debut epic fantasy novel. He started writing Crimson & Cream in 1999, and after lots of twists and turns, 13 drafts, plenty of rejections, the arrival of the 21st Century and the advent of online self-publishing, the ebook is finally here. C.M. Skiera is currently finalizing Mirrors & Mist, book two of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy. An avid reader, C.M. Skiera enjoys a compelling story, regardless of genre, though speculative fiction novels are some of his favorites.
Jetsam awoke next to a roaring fire. Tramp? Feeling pain shooting up his leg, his spirits plummeted. His clothes were dry and stiff, like his body. His head ached and he felt nauseated. He recalled the old gypsy and Tramp’s yelp, and tried to sit up to look for his dog. The effort proved a struggle and he relented. He’s not here.
Glancing to his feet, Jetsam noticed his torn and bloodied trousers. Then he realized his short sword and pack were gone. Grasping his pouch at his side, he realized his precious scroll was still safe. Rolling away from the fire to have a look around, he met the gaze of a tall armored man hovering over him.
It was not the bounty hunter.
“Awake ye are,” proclaimed a masculine voice.
Jetsam viewed the man, dressed in steely plate mail. Big and shiny. A surcoat of blue and silver covered his gleaming cuirass. Thank the gods it’s not crimson and cream. The radiant armor ran all the way to his boots, with matching cuisses and greaves. His brown hair hung long and a scraggly beard and mustache hid most of his pockmarked face. He’s an ugly sod. The man leaned down toward the drowned rat. Jetsam smelled his foul breath. And he stinks.
“Didn’t know if ye was ever goin’ to wake. Been out since we found ye.” The man scrutinized Jetsam. Apparently satisfied, he continued. “Time to answer some questions, methinks.” Jetsam nodded wearily. Only now did he remember the river. That waterfall banged me up good. He was surprised to be alive, although not altogether grateful. Jetsam noticed horses and three other men near the fire. They all watched him.
“What’s yer name, knave?”
“What’re ye doin’ up in the weald, Jetsam?”
Jetsam remained silent, debating his answer. What should I say? The towering brute had little patience. He raised the back of his hand and in a flash, struck Jetsam across the cheek. “Well?” Jetsam couldn’t come up with any lie better than the truth.
“I’m a runaway,” he blurted as his cheek turned rosy-red.
“Dwim-Halloe. I’m an orphan.”
“Where’d ye get yon wound on yer leg?”
No delay from Jetsam this time. “A crossbow.”
“I can see ‘tis from a garrock. I ain't daft. Who shot ye?”
“Bounty hunter, probably. There’s a reward for orphans at the Citadel.”
“I highly doubt there’s much reward for yer scrawny hide. Can’t see a bounty hunter making a living off chasin’ orphans through the Kierawaith.” The men behind him chortled. “Must be more’n that to the story. Spit it out, knave, afore ye get another taste o’ me hand.” More chuckling from beyond. “Hold yer cackling, ye witches,” he scolded, turning back to his comrades around the fire.
“They think I killed a man,” Jetsam indicated. Now the men roared.
“So we’ve caught ourselves a murderer! Perchance yon Citadel ain’t such a tough place after all?”