After seven long years of research, writing, editing, and rewriting over 140,000 words, The Sun Palace will be published Oct 1st.
The story is set in sixth century Ireland, a place of rural beauty untouched by the rest of Western Europe and civilization, but times are changing. Pagan Druids have decided to become Christian monks, the weather is erratic, petty kingdoms are often at war, and a jealous Queen blames it all on her estranged niece who she has never met until now. A man struggles to hold onto the woman he loves and a young girl travels alone to the other end of the island to meet her father for the first time … but her father is the Queen’s brother and threatened by the girl’s very existence. In fact, she isn’t the only one the Queen feels threatened by.. Below is the beginning of the story. You can also download the first 20% of the book FREE on Smashwords and Amazon.com..
The Sun Palace by Brighid O’Sullivan
West Coast of Eire/ AD 520
She never heard the splash.
The world went black but soon she surfaced to the light, when an angry black wave smashed over her frail body, slapping her as if she were a stubborn child. Gripping her between its teeth, the sea engulfed her, regurgitating her between cusps and swallowed her as if she were nothing. She couldn’t tell which way was up and reached out in all directions, desperate and alone. She rolled and tumbled in the sea … becoming tangled in something slimy … arms flailing … toward what she hoped was the sky. She tried to cry out but the sea flooded her throat with a salty bitterness that choked her with each breath. She was blind and under water she grew deaf as well, disturbing her even more than the water’s icy grip which numbed her, almost solemnly.
The sea continued to churn.
She remembered it all. He’d sent her away with his most trusted friend to have the baby with the monks. She’d given birth, drank something and then woke up in the boat, her arms and legs tied together.
She wanted to kick, and did, but not without much effort. Thick cords secured her legs, the only thing keeping her thin gown from floating up to her head. She could paddle with her hands, though, for he had left a little slack when she had complained rather loudly. Her hands and arms were tied with a horse hair rope, secured above the elbows; it had left scars on both arms.
She flipped onto her back and tried to stay afloat. Once over the shock of bitter cold, she struggled to think, to get her mind clear. Surely the boat would see her. Surely he would come back when he realized she’d tumbled out. She stared up at the sun and swiveled her head side to side, trying to spot the fast disappearing craft.
I can’t see it!
Her breath jammed in her throat when she finally caught a glimpse of the boat. She could only see slips of black hull as it crested each wave. “Come back!” She changed her position and tried to tread water but her limbs were becoming weak.
If I can simply float perhaps … Certainly he won’t let me drown. He loves me too.
She had given birth only two days before, a girl, strong and healthy by the sound of her cry, but the monks had taken her away. Quick as an intake of breath and then what? Her heart quickened in her chest at the thought of leaving the infant behind. She had not seen the child though. Not in the boat before the fall. She must be safe, in the care of the gentle monks. But who will feed her? She pushed the thought from her mind. There were others things needed her energy for.
The only thing she could do now was let herself float. She could see gulls overhead, and grey scattered clouds, and the sun was hot as a new-forged blade upon her face.
He’ll come back for me, she thought. He never meant for me to fall. Then another wave smashed on her head, crushing her below a tall angry white-cap. She swallowed a mouthful; it shot up her nose, sharp as a red-hot poker. She sputtered and coughed, kicking furiously. Finally she flipped onto her back again. Where was the boat? Which way was shore?
I’m here. I’m here! The words stuck in her throat and she wasn’t clear to whether she’d spoken them at all.
Delirium set in and a queer tightness tingled in her breasts. It was time to feed the infant.
She continued to thrash about, reaching the surface now and again.
Is the boat behind me? I can hold on ‘til he sees me. I can! The ropes around her legs slackened giving her new-found energy and hope.
She kicked and the ropes unwound from her feet and floated to the surface. Lifting her bound hands, she pushed them from her face. The ropes flopped across the waves, mingling with long silvery weeds like old friends.
With one last snip of energy, her head above the grave, she searched the horizon.
The boat was gone!