Here, dear reader, for your delectation and delight, is a little snippet of my novel The Van Akkeren Wheel to encourage you to read further...
Even in the brightness of the late spring afternoon smoke rose from the crude chimney of the tavern, and sounds of merriment could be heard from within. While tenant farmers and villeins still toiled in the fields a few happy souls drank the afternoon away in the low, thatched building, and the sound of their laughter disturbed the otherwise deserted hamlet. In front of the tavern a goat grazed contentedly, seemingly the only other occupant of the tiny settlement, as every other able-bodied person worked the land in preparation for the new season.
Two black crows were startled into flight as the door of the tavern clattered open. From within the dim building the corpulent figure of a Roman Catholic priest emerged, staggering as he did so. The fat priest was well dressed, though not too richly. A bag of coins hung from his belt, a gold crucifix was around his neck, and he used a long staff to steady himself.
The priest stood still for a moment, blinking in the fading sunlight, then erupted into a hacking fit of coughing. He recovered from the fit, wiped his mouth with a podgy hand, and began to wend his way unsteadily through the deserted hamlet, singing as he did so.
He passed by most of the hamlet’s scattered cottages, and was approaching the Nottingham road when a soft popping sound silenced his singing. The noise seemed to penetrate deep into his bones, and he shivered in the cool afternoon air as he looked around for its source. After a few seconds he spotted some movement in a copse of trees just beyond the hamlet and, intrigued but wary, cautiously began to move towards it.
A moment later the priest stopped dead, frozen with fear by the howling scream that erupted from the trees and echoed through the still air. Ahead of him something burst from the tangled copse and began hurtling towards him at a terrifying speed. The priest caught the briefest of glimpses of a fetid, pale body with grasping arms outstretched before it, and ran.
The priest’s corpulent frame had covered only a matter of yards before the ululating shriek sounded again, seemingly from right behind him, and he echoed the scream in fear. A sickening stench hit him an instant before the homiril did, the force of the impact flinging him to the ground.
Scalpel-sharp talons rent the flesh of his back as he gagged on his fear and the reek of the demon’s milky hide. Somehow the priest managed to roll over onto his raw back, and stared up into a visage straight from Hell.
He screamed again.
The creature stopped flencing the flesh from the priest’s fat body, and squatted on his chest, staring down into his face. The victim’s scream subsided to a blubbering, gasping sob, and the homiril cocked its head to one side, regarding him with interest.
For a moment the two looked at each other, the priest’s eyes widened with fear as they stared into the homiril’s expressionless orbs of red, split by a vertical slit of sheer blackness. The demon leaned forward.
Over the next few minutes the priest stopped longing for life, and started praying for death.
Above him the two slowly circling crows were joined by a third.