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Book Previews - Veil of Darkness
Book One of The Earthsoul Prophecies

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Chapter 4
Kindelís Grove

    The ride down Forest Road was quiet, with only the tromping of the horses and the creaking of wagon wheels to break the stillness. It was enough to make him watch the woods on both sides of the road with more nervousness than was usual. Never before had he hesitated going into the woods alone. Whatever killed the Himelsí sheep had changed that.
    As he neared town, the dense mass of forest thinned slightly, and small homes became visible among the trees. Narrow lanes split off from Forest Road, slipping past fenced gardens and areas for livestock on their way in toward the homes. Like most of the residents of Omer Forest, the people of Kindelís Grove had been careful to cut back only as much as was needed to create a place to live, thus preserving the beauty of the forest that had drawn them here in the first place.
    He saw people working in their yards and waved to them as he passed. They called out greetings and an occasional question. How was his mother? Did they need help with anything around the house? Were they getting ready for the Festival of the Dragon? He returned their greetings and answered their questions, amused by their concern but thankful the world still contained such friendly people.
    He loved living in Kindelís Grove and wouldnít trade it for anything. Heíd spent enough time in Trian and had seen enough of politics and how the bureaucrats acted to know he didnít like it there. People in the larger cities were rude. Most were so caught up in their own affairs or with trying to get ahead of everyone else that true friendship seemed not to exist. He hated that kind of mentality and had decided long ago to spend as little time in Trian as possible. He didnít care that it was his birthplace; Kindelís Grove was his home.
    As he passed the Transtin home, Seril and Mikka, once again late for school, ran out to the road and asked for a ride into town. He waved them into the back of the wagon and listened as they argued about whose fault it was that they were late. It was much the same as the dozens of other arguments heíd heard in years past, and they said so much so fast that he quit listening. A short time later he reached the natural clearing that held the village of Kindelís Grove.
    Several hundred people lived in the village proper, most of them in snug little homes which often doubled as businesses, and yet things were quiet and peaceful. The main road through town was hard-packed dirt and wide enough for wagons to pass three abreast. Boardwalks lined each side, connecting the rows of buildings and offering a place to walk out of the dirt. There were people moving about on errands, some buying, some selling, and every one of them working hard to make Kindelís Grove a prosperous place.
    As work-minded as they were, however, they still made time for visiting with friends, and he saw many standing in the doors of businesses and homes. Others sat on benches in the shade of the covered walkways where they could chat about one thing or another. Children still too young to be in school scampered about, kicking balls, laughing, and chasing each other in the same games he had played as a child.
    Near the center of town, the Transtin boys released a flurry of thank yous and jumped off the wagon, racing toward the schoolhouse as if their lives were in danger. Considering that Thrinda Lisenbre was still the schoolmistress, they probably were. He watched them go, then turned back to the task of returning the dozens of greetings he was getting while trying not to run anyone over with the wagon.
    Aíshan had grown testy by the time he reached Zanderís Mercantile, and Jase had to spend a moment calming him down. It made him wonder if the big black resented the idea of being used to pull a wagon. He was a warhorse, after all, trained for battle, not for lugging a cart. He spoke soothing words to him, but Aíshan continued to toss his head and stamp his feet, and Jase realized the only way to appease the disgruntled animal now would be to let him run all the way home. If there was one thing Aíshan had, it was a desire to run.

- 19 -

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