I am terribly critical of my own writing. Even after it has been approved by the submissions editor, and checked closely by a content editor, and finally scanned by a line editor, I still see all the tiny flaws that I could have made better. It is all bullshit of course, just my mind torturing me. Below is the proof that this problem is all in my mind.
This excerpt is from my second book, Crossing Mother’s Grave. Popalia, our heroine, has charged forward into a cave expecting to find Katia alive after being waylaid by an orcish war-band. Seth and Raenyl doubt there are survivors but wielding the illusion of hope, Popalia convinces the brothers to push forward just a little further. Raenyl has begrudgingly moved deeper into the cave to scout ahead. This is what he finds.
Deep in the shadows, feeling forward along the wall, Raenyl was careful nothing fell over. Sliding his feet softly so nothing knocked across the walkway, he moved slow, fearful a tiny pebble could echo down the long hall and call unwanted attention to his presence. He looked backward again, relieved he’d left the torch so far behind. The light now served as a candle along a windowsill showing the way home on a dark night.
Slowly easing another ten paces, he gained a little better orientation. The red wall was light reflecting from within a larger cavern. Only a few more steps, and the wall he crept along fell away and down into a bigger, fire-lit cavern. The pathway he followed continued beyond the exposed trail where another black-mouthed tunnel waited, swallowing deeper into the sunless unknown.
Approaching the fall-away wall, Raenyl duck-walked the last few paces until he could see down into the cavernous room. Peeking with one eye around the wall, he saw the room easily could fit 100 orcs. Below, the cavern glowed alit by three widely spaced fire pits made up mostly of glowing coals.
Many orcs were gathered but not close to a hundred. Counting quickly, he saw eight ugly females, each with four swollen breasts; Raenyl observed some must be nursing mothers. Eleven little orc-offspring scurried in the low light, not including the rare orc baby tied in furry carriers that rested on a hip within breast range. Raenyl counted six males within the room—two of them being the big warrior types. Upon seeing the little orcs and the nursing offspring, hair stood upon the back of Raenyl’s neck. This was no raiding camp—this was the raider’s entire tribe.
A female with a crying baby on her hip tossed a log onto a fire. By the fire’s light, he could see through the murky smoke trapped in the high ceilings of the big room. Smoke used the tunnels as an exit out. Raenyl looked down below at the nearest pit. Aside a pile of wood at the nearest fire laid a naked and bloodied body of what his mind defined as once being a young woman. It looked as if her chest had exploded outward, and one breast was a mangled mess.
Raenyl felt his heart leap. He’d first thought it was Katia, but then one of the larger orcs lifted her over his shoulder. Long, dark hair fell from the lolled head. One of the female orcs brought over a long, iron bar. The woman hung like deadweight, and the stronger orc strained to support her battered body as the female orc tied the woman’s hands to the top end of the iron bar. Once done, horrified Raenyl watch as the dead woman’s feet were tied to the bar. Another male, one of the smaller males, was setting two forked poles into holes on opposite ends of the fire pit.
Raenyl’s mind began to flitter as he understood what was happening. The smell of cooked meat all made sense, and he felt instantly sick. Looking further toward the back fires across the room, other bodies roasted over their own personal fires.
There was only one thought in Raenyl’s mind. They had better be far away before this tribe added them to tonight’s meal.