and for me it really is a very happy one. It's taken me quite some time to get The Taexali Game ready for publishing but now it's available from Amazon in kindle format as well as in print.
Everyone loves playing advanced interactive computer games, don’t they?
Callum Fraser’s games are totally awesome but when his Rubidium Time-Leap flips Aran Bruce and his best friends—Brian and Fianna Fraser—back to AD 210, the reality is incredible. They have a task list to fulfil, which includes solving a local mystery, but it’s a nightmarish business when Ancient Roman Emperor Severus and his legions heap death and destruction on the Taexali Celts of northern Britannia.
Giving help to Celts and Romans alike becomes a lethal assignment—some Celtic chiefs are as foul as Severus and his beastly son Caracalla. Dicing with death becomes the norm for the time travellers from Kintore, Aberdeenshire.
Will they complete the mission and return to Callum unscathed?
Here's a little teaser where Aran (13 years old) finds the AD 210 northern Britannia that he has time travelled to is a lot more realistic than the contemporary interactive games that he's used to playing...
A sudden screech rent the air.
Aran knew that particular howl only too well. She wasn’t screeching out of fear, but out of sheer fury. Running between two roundhouses he could see her frantically kicking up at a single Roman soldier who was bent over her, his sword poised and ready to strike. Brian dangled from the soldier’s back and pounded away at the auxiliary’s helmet with his free fist, trying to dislodge it, his other arm a vice around the auxiliary’s neck. Little Caitlinn cowered nearby in a huddle of skins and cloaks.
Thank Taranis it was just the one soldier, though he thought it was unusual there was only one Roman auxiliary in the vicinity.
Aran daren’t use his spear this time because he’d likely kill Brian or Fianna. Instead, he whipped out the long knife from his pouch. Brandishing it in front of him, he charged forward, shrieking his own challenge. The soldier whirled around, attempting to dislodge Brian as the man forced himself upright to investigate what the howling was behind him, Brian’s arm still wrapped around the Roman’s neck. Aran watched as Brian slipped off and rolled away, the momentum tipping the auxiliary backwards. Aran lunged with his long knife, the blade heading for the soldier’s bare arm.
Th…whomp. Huumm. Twaaang!
This time it was Aran who felt the singing passage of the spear go right past his ear. By Taranis, it was terrifying! The contents of his stomach lurched up as quickly as he’d lunged out with the long knife. Once again, Tyrnan’s spear hit the mark, but this time not the ground. The Roman soldier lay pinned to the earth; the spear a direct hit through his throat, having precisely landed between the long earflaps of the helmet. The Roman Auxiliary’s death gurgle was a feeble blood-bubbling mutter since the man truly didn’t know what had hit him.
Aran slumped to his knees willing himself not to vomit—though he was so close. The soldier beside him, prostrate and pinned to the ground, was likely dead but he couldn’t bear to check. A rush of something like gratitude flushed through him because it hadn’t actually been his blade that had killed the Roman soldier. Not his. It had been Tyrnan’s spear.
What if Tyrnan hadn’t turned up? Aran’s stomach rebelled for real as he puked up the contents of his stomach with a few violent heaves at the side of the soldier. As the last of the vomit emptied out, he knew he would have driven his long knife into the Roman auxiliary if it meant that Fianna would be safe from the Roman’s gladius, the sword now lying alongside the body. Playing in a game, killing the enemy seemed so easy but in real life it was sickening. When he’d stopped heaving, through the fug of his shock, he eventually heard the plea beside him.
“Hurry.” Tyrnan urged them all as if nothing of note had happened. “Get away from here.”
Adrenalin kicked-in in good time as Aran struggled to his feet. He swiped a hand over his mouth before he passed Fianna one of the spears, and a sharp little knife. He felt in limbo: a place where he imagined all that had just happened. Brian lurched to his feet and picked up the gladius, as though fighting a Roman soldier was an everyday occurrence. It was all incredible.
None of them commented on the fact he’d just heaved his guts up.
Tyrnan scooped up little Caitlinn, and they rushed towards the nether. He followed on still rickety legs. As they approached the exit Seonagh and Orla headed towards them from another direction, their cries of relief and joy a delight to behold when they caught sight of them.
“By Taranis, I am so pleased you are all safe!” Orla bawled her head off.
Only when they were well up the hill did Tyrnan relinquish a silent Caitlinn to her mother’s arms, ordering them to rush to the safety of the woods.
“Seonagh and Taexali warrior, Aran!” he cried. “You must defend the people of Balbath who shelter in the Sacred Grove. There may be only a few branded warriors up there, so the care of those up there lies in your hands. Do not fail them.”
Tyrnan sped off back down the hill leaving Aran open-mouthed.