Clement: The Templar’s Treasure

Welcome to Craig R Hipkins on today’s blog with an excerpt from Book 3 in the series – Clement: The Templar’s Treasure. YA Fantasy. Publication Date: 4th May 2022 / 233 Pages

Clement & Dagena return for another action packed adventure. From the cold and dreary shores of Greenland to the fabled land of Vinland. The legendary treasure of the Knights Templar awaits.

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Here’s an excerpt

Clement strapped on his belt and checked his dagger. He would not need his bow so he left it with Olaf in the shelter. They left quietly, in the dark, leaving Olaf with the remaining biscuits. The village was a few miles away. Pometecomet estimated it would take two hours to get there as they would not be using the trails for obvious reasons. It was still snowing, but not as heavy as the evening before. Clement could feel the cold air biting his face and pulled the hood of his cloak tighter. Except for his feet, Pometecomet’s legs were bare from the knees down. Clement wondered how he managed it in the cold, but it did not seem to bother him.

            They wanted to arrive before dawn. The Nipmuck usually only kept a solitary guard near the entrance but there might be more than one on this morning. No doubt, Sven would have men on duty. Pometecomet was hoping Dagena would be sleeping with the other maidens in the small hut near the breach, but if not, they would be able to tell them where she was staying. Clement was dreading the worst possible scenario. Sven had her with him, or even worse, the sailor, Guy, who would probably be doing unthinkable things to her. He felt his blood boiling again and was impatient to get there. If Pometecomet was not here, he would probably be reckless and use the main trail. However, he was glad he was here. How would he know about the location of the village or the breach where they could enter the town undetected? He felt fortunate and blessed.

            It was still dark when they arrived on the hill overlooking the village. Clement felt a lump in his throat. This was going to be dangerous and he might end up being captured or even killed; but he had no choice. Not only was Dagena counting on him, but Tristan’s life was also in peril. For a few minutes, the two boys crouched down among some boulders and observed the palisade. It was quiet. Mostly, everyone was sleeping. They could have probably entered through the narrow lane and quickly dispatched the lone sentry keeping watch, but if they did, it would come at a great risk. The sentry might be able to call out the alarm. Also, Clement knew his uncle would not be so careless. Undoubtedly, there were others tending to the fire and keeping a lookout on the camp. He could see the glow of a fire but, from their position, could not actually see the flames.

            “What do you think?” Clement asked.

            Pometecomet was rubbing his chin. His long dark braids fell across his face. He pointed toward a depression in the ground outside the sturdy posts that served as the town’s walls.  “That is where we will enter. Come…it is time. We need to do this before it is light.”

The snow was now coming down fast and heavy. It was turning into a white out as the two boys quickly and catlike moved down the wooded slope. If anyone had been watching, they would have mistaken them for ghosts. Pometecomet led the way. They were soon huddled together in the depression up against the posts. They could see the opening but it was only a few inches from the ground to the bottom of the posts. They began to dig frantically into the snow. It was not long before they had an opening a boy could fit through but not a grown man.

            Pometecomet touched Clement on the shoulder. “I will go in first. If I am not back in the time it takes to walk the perimeter of this village, then I am caught and the game is up.”

            Clement nodded. “I will be waiting but do hurry.”

            Without replying, the Wampanoag boy slipped through the opening. Clement was on his belly, peering through the hole. He saw his friend disappear around the corner of the hut. The snow was now coming down in sheets. He had never seen it snow this hard. It was turning into a blizzard. He remembered his father talk about one storm that had stopped King Stephen’s army in its tracks on one of his campaigns against the Welsh.

            He waited anxiously, getting impatient. He wondered if he would have had time to walk the perimeter of the village. He had decided if Pometecomet got caught, he would still go. That is just the way he dealt with things. He was about to despair when he saw his friend peek around the corner and motion for him to come. He crawled through the opening and joined Pometecomet behind the hut. A few of the girls were standing in the shadows, watching them. Would any of them betray them?

            “Dagena is being held in a separate hut,” Pometecomet whispered. “They say she is all alone, except for a guard, who has been assigned to watch her. He is sitting on a log outside of the hut.”

            Clement was biting his lower lip. His mind was in motion.

            “Where is this hut?”

            His friend looked grave.

            “It is located on the other side of the village. It is isolated from the others. It is usually where the Nipmuck keep prisoners. You will recognize it because it is the only hut built right into the palisade and there is a small holly tree growing next to the entrance. Watch out for the guard. The maidens say he is a big Norman with a brown mole on his forehead. They say he is fierce and has been abusing the girl with the hair the color of the brightest autumn leaves.”

            Clement’s eyes narrowed and he was clenching his fists. He pulled his dagger from its sheath.

            “That is Guy. He is a dead man.”

            Pometecomet placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. He began to speak in his own tongue, in which Clement was now completely fluent.

            “My friend; do not let your anger get in the way of your mission. You can get there undetected by following the narrow space between the palisade wall and the huts. I am going to help Weetamoe. I have told her about the boy, Tristan. She is gathering some supplies but needs my help to get them. I will meet you behind the boulders on the hill.”

            They clasped hands and Clement watched his friend disappear into the darkness. For a second, he just stood there listening. The falling snow seemed to muffle nearly every sound, including his own footsteps as he cautiously crept around the backside of the huts along the palisade wall. He heard someone coughing in one of the huts. For the first time, he felt apprehensive and even a little frightened. What if he were captured before he got to Dagena? He quickly erased this thought from his mind. He was wearing the white cloak with the red cross of the Templar order. He suddenly felt empowered, almost invincible and omnipotent. He was not only a Templar Knight, but he was also their Seneschal. He was their leader. He could not fail. He would not fail.

            He crept along in the snowy mist until he reached the last hut. Peering around the corner, he saw it. The small hut built into the palisade wall. He could see the lumbering form of Guy sitting cold and miserable on a stump blowing warmth into his hands and rubbing them together.

            Clement’s eyes narrowed and he pulled his dagger from his sheath and boldly started forward. When he was about halfway across the open space Guy looked up and spotted him. Standing up, the sailor was at first confused, not recognizing who was approaching in the wintry mist. When he did finally realize it was the boy Templar, he was baffled. How had he managed to make it into the village? He had heard all about Clement’s former exploits and his supposed invincibility. Still, he did not believe a word of it. Clement, after all, was still only a boy and no match for him, a grown man twice his size and strength. Despite this, however, he felt it wise to treat this boy as a formidable opponent. He pulled his dagger from his sheath and grinned, showing his rotten teeth and grey gums. He started for the boy with his dagger raised.

Author Bio

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018) He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

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Thanks for the excerpt, Craig, and good luck with your blog tour

@CraigHipkins @maryanneyarde #HistoricalFiction #YoungAdult #YAfantasy #Medieval #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

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