Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsChapter Six: Wherein I begin to tell the story of the Queen of Aerithraine.

 

Hysteria clomped along slowly down the snow covered road for some time. The orphan was so quiet that for a while I thought he must have fallen asleep. But at last he stirred and shifted a bit in his seat, which is to say upon Hysteria’s flank. I myself had been quiet as I remembered the events of that horrible night.

“What are you thinking about?” asked the orphan.

“I’m thinking about that horrible night,” I replied.

“Did you never find your family?”

“No, though I searched for weeks. My mother was to make me a blueberry pie that night, and I not only have never seen my mother since, I did not get to eat that pie either.”

“I’m sorry I brought up such a painful memory,” he said, then paused. “Do you suppose that the purple drops on the floor could have been from your blueberry pie?”

“Fiends!” said I. “To rob a man of his mother and his pie in the same night!”

“Perhaps it were best that we think on something else,” said he.

“Perhaps,” I agreed.

“If you are really such a great story-teller…”

“The greatest in the world.”

“And if the story of the Queen of Aerithraine is a great story…”

“Wonderful. Exciting. True. Profound.”

“Well, maybe you could tell me the story.”

“I get half a crown for that story in Illustria,” said I.

“I have a shiny penny,” said he.

“The story begins in Aerithraine, far to the west, along the coast of the great ocean sea. From storied Illustria, its capital, to Cor Cottage just outside Dewberry Hills in River County, Aerithraine has been a great and powerful country for some seven hundred years more or less. By more or less, I mean that it has been more or less seven hundred years that Aerithraine has been a country and that it has been more or less great and more or less powerful during those seven hundred years. But about fifty years ago, it was less. That was when the old king died, and as is the way of kings, a new one was crowned. He was King Julian the Rectifier.

“He was called Julian the Rectifier because he was chiefly interested in rectifying. He spent most of his time rectifying. He rectified all over the place. And he was good at it. He rectified like nobody else.”

“It means setting things to right,” said the orphan.

“Of course it does and that is just what he did. Under his reign, the kingdom was prosperous and wealthy. And, as he wasn’t so interested in warring as in rectifying, there was peace throughout the land. King Julian had only one son, and he passed to that son the strongest and wealthiest kingdom in all of Duaron, and if it had only remained so, Elleena would have become nothing more than a minor princess perhaps.”

“Which would not have made a half-crown story,” pointed out the orphan.

“That is so.”

“Carry on then.”

“King Justin was the son of Julian. I hear tell that he was once called Justin the Good and Justin the Wise, though now when story-tellers refer to him, they usually call him Justin the Weak or Justin the Unready.”

“What do you call him?”

“I just call him King Justin,” said I. “Though I truly believe he may deserve the title Justin the Brave, it is not what the listeners want to hear.”

“Go on.”

“King Justin married a princess from the faraway land of Goth. The Arch-Dukes of Goth, which is to say the rulers of that land, have for generations, maintained power through a tightly woven web of treaties with its mighty neighbors. Their chief barter in this endeavor is the marriage of the many female members of the family. I hear the current Arch-Duke has but four daughters at least as of yet, but his father who was Arch-Duke before him had seventeen, and his father, which is to say the grandfather of the current Arch-Duke had nineteen.”

“That hurts just thinking about it.”

“What?”

“Nothing. Go on.”

“It must have been quite a coup of diplomacy for the Arch-Duke of Goth to make a match with the King of Aerithraine, but he did, marrying to the King his daughter Beatrix. And though I hear that the women of that country wear too much make-up, she was never the less accounted a great beauty. She had pale white skin, raven hair, smoldering eyes, and a gold ring in her nose, as is the fashion in the east.

“King Justin and Queen Beatrix had four strong sons, the eldest of whom was Prince Jared. He was particularly beloved of the people. I saw him once when I was a child of four or five, sitting on my poor old father’s shoulders as the Dragon Knights passed on their tall white steeds. That is to say, I was seated on my father’s shoulders and the Prince was not. Neither were the Dragon Knights or their steeds. I don’t remember why the Prince and the knights were in River County. It was too long ago. He would have grown to be King upon his father’s death if it was not for…”

“Goblins!”

“Yes, that’s right. You didn’t say you had heard the story before, though I’ll warrant it wasn’t told as well…”

“No!” screamed the orphan. “Goblins! Right there!”

He pointed straight ahead, and sure enough, stepping out of the shadows and into the moonlight were a half dozen creepy little man-things. They were no more than three feet tall, their over-sized round heads, glowing eyes, and gaping maws giving away their identity. As they came closer those mouths widened into grins filled with jagged little teeth, looking far too much like the teeth on the blade of a cross-cut saw for my taste. They brandished what weapons they had, mostly things they had picked up from the ground—a stick, a length of cord with a knot in it. But a couple of them carried old, discarded straight razors.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Free at Kobo Books

Eaglethorpe BuxtonEaglethorpe Buxton, famed adventurer and story-teller, friend to those in need of a friend and guardian to those in need of a guardian. He is a liar and braggart, not to be trusted, especially around pies. Who are we to believe? Buxton himself leads us through his world as he comes to the aid of… a poor orphan? An elven princess? Who can guess with Eaglethorpe himself telling the tale?

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess is available free at fine ebook stores everywhere, including Kobo Books.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsChapter Five: Wherein I reveal the mystery of my family.

 

“You said that you do not live far from here,” I mentioned, once we had finished the pies. One might say the purloined pies, but I would not. I would instead insist that they rightly belonged to us in recompense for our unjust confinement.

“That is correct,” said he.

“The pies rightfully belong to us?”

“No. I live not far from here. Are you carrying on some other conversation in your head about the pies?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “You are an orphan.”

“I am well aware of that fact. There is no need to keep rubbing it in my face.”

“What I mean is you don’t have a proper home any more now that you are an orphan.”

“Even an orphan may have extended family,” he explained. “Perhaps I live with them.”

“Do you?”

“One might suppose that I do.”

“One might suppose a great many things,” said I. “But would it not be better to base our future activities less on supposition than on actual remembrances?”

“One might suppose we should,” said he.

“You have an odd way of talking,” I commented. “You don’t quite sound orphanish at all.”

“Really? How many orphans have you known?”

“Quite a few actually,” I revealed. “The Queen of Aerithraine…”

“With whom you once had the pleasure of spending a fortnight.”

“Indeed it is so. The Queen of Aerithraine, with whom I once had… well, she has a soft spot for orphans. Some years back she opened an orphanage called Elleena’s House.”

“Is that because her name is Elleena?”

“Why would her name cause her to have a soft spot for orphans?” I wondered. “No, I believe it is because she was an orphan herself.”

“No. Is it called Elleena’s House because her name is Elleena? And how could a queen be an orphan? Doesn’t she have to be a princess? Or did the King find her in an orphanage and come to sweep her off her feet? That would be a lovely story.”

“Well, there is no king,” said I.

“Gah!” he exclaimed. “You are the worst story-teller in the world. You are messing everything up and making me confused.”

“Forsooth! I am the best story-teller in the world. I do not expect you to know so, as you are an unfortunate orphan without any knowledge of the world.” I looked over my shoulder at his pinched little face. “In truth I was not trying to tell you the story of the Queen of Aerithraine. If I had, you would be filled with wonder and excitement. I have made half my fortune from that story, and a better story, a truer story, a more profound story; you are not likely to hear in all the days of your life. But I was not trying to tell that story. I was trying to explain that the Queen of Aerithraine has a soft spot for orphans. In fact, I suppose that I do so myself, as I am almost an orphan.”

“You are almost an orphan?”

“Indeed.”

“How can you be almost an orphan?”

“Why couldn’t I be?” I demanded. “If anyone can be, I could be.”

“What I mean is…” He took a deep breath. “How can one be almost an orphan?”

“Oh. Well, it’s only that my parents aren’t dead.”

“I see,” said he.

“But they were kidnapped,” I confided.

“Are you sure they didn’t just run away?” he asked.

“It was a stormy night and I had been away from my parents’ home, which is to say my former home, which is to say Cor Cottage just outside Dewberry Hills, and I was returning for a visit. As I approached I heard a disturbance, though at first I attributed it to the sounds of the storm. Then I looked up at the cottage window to see figures silhouetted on the shade, locked in a grim struggle.”

“What did you do?”

“Why, I rushed forward to aid my poor old mother, who as I recall smells of warm pie, and my poor old father, and my sister Celia, and my aunt Oregana, and my cousin Gervil, and my other cousin Tuki, who is a girl cousin, which is to say a cousin who is a girl, which makes sense, because whoever heard of a boy named Tuki.”

“They were all struggling by the window?”

“They may all have been struggling by the window, or some of them may have been, or perhaps only one of them was struggling by the window. I don’t know, because when I burst into the front door, they were all gone. The back door was open wide and the rain was splashing in.”

“What happened to them?”

“I know not.”

“Were there any clues?”

“Indeed there were.”

“What were they?”

“The table had been set for nine, which was two places too many.”

“Three places!” said the orphan triumphantly. “You thought I wasn’t paying attention. There was your father, mother, sister, aunt, and two cousins. That makes six.”

“They would also have set a place for Geneva.”

“Of course they would have. Who is she?”

“She’s my other cousin, which is to say Gervil’s sister, only she’s imaginary, but she wasn’t always imaginary, which is to say she died, but Gervil still sees her, so Aunt Oregana always sets a place for her.”

“What other clues?”

I listed them off. “There was a knife stuck in Gervil’s bed. Floorboards had been loosened in several rooms. There were drops of purple liquid leading out the back door. And someone had hung bunches of onions from the rafters of the dining room. Most mysterious of all was the fact that the tracks led away from the house only fifty feet and then disappeared entirely.”

The orphan gripped me around the waist and squeezed. “How terrible,” he said, in a tiny voice.

What to write?

I’ve finished two Astrid Maxxim books and the reception has been very good.  I really kind of write them for myself, as I haven’t made enough money from them to pay for the covers.  (I take that back.  The first Astrid Maxxim book has more than sold enough to pay for its cover art.  The others are still working at it.)  Still, Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane had a very good first month. I couldn’t be more pleased.

I’ve also got His Robot Girlfriend: Charity on its way to publication.  It is available now for pre-order for just 99 cents.  Since my robot series is far and away my best seller, I expect it to do well too.

Now, the question is what to write.  My plan is to go back to 82 Eridani: Journey, which I had originally planned to finish before any of the previous three books.  It may take me a day or two to get into the right frame of mind.  I have to be in a very different mind-set than the one I’m in writing Astrid Maxxim or even His Robot Girlfriend.  82 Eridani is very gritty and adult.  I think of it as sort of my “HBO Sci-Fi.”  In other words, sex, violence, and darkness abound.

The good news is that I have a very detailed outline and the first 8 1/2 chapters drafted.  I’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, go out and pre-order His Robot Girlfriend: Charity.  It’s only 99 cents to you, but it will mean a great deal to me.  Thanks.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsChapter Four: Wherein we make decisions about our supper.

 

When we were not two hundred yards down the road, I let Hysteria drop to a trot, for in truth I did not expect anyone to follow us into the night, daring wild animals, bandits, or hobgoblins regardless of how fine a pie smith Mistress Gaston was reported to be. A few hundred yards beyond that, my horse dropped of her own accord to a walk and I expect she was beginning to feel a bit mopey because of the slap the orphan had dealt her. At that moment I was less interested in her mental condition than my own physical one though, because I was holding a cast pie pan in each hand and they were both heavy and still quite warm.

“Here.” I turned in the saddle and handed one pie to the orphan. “We can eat while we ride. If we wait until we find a campsite, the pies will be cold.”

“Do you have a fork?” the boy asked.

I mused that this seemed an unlikely request from any boy, most of whom I have found uninterested in tableware on the best occasion, and especially from an orphan whom one might have supposed to have been forced by necessity to dig into all manner of food scraps with his hands. However it was not a question to which I needed reply in the negative, for I always carry a fork in the inner left breast pocket of my coat, which I call my fork pocket. I gave the orphan my fork and pulled my knife from my boot to use on the remaining pie.

“This is a very nice fork,” said the orphan.

“Of course it is,” said I. “That fork came from the table of the Queen of Aerithraine herself.”

“You stole this fork from a Queen?”

“Impudent whelp!” cried I. “That fine fork was a gift from the queen, with whom I once had the pleasure of spending a fortnight.”

“What kind of queen gives a man a fork?”

“A kind and gracious one.”

That apparently satisfied the boy’s curiosity for the moment and for the next few minutes we concentrated upon the pies. I am not one to mourn a lost pie and that is well, for the pie that was lost to me on that night, as I have previously mentioned, was a pie for the ages. A fine pie. A beautiful pie. A wonderful pie. This new pie was almost as good though. It was a crabapple pie, which was a common pie to come upon in winter in those parts, which is to say Brest, as cooks used the crabapples they had put up the previous fall. This pie was an uncommonly good pie, with nutmeg and cinnamon and cloves and butter. I had more than a few bites by the time the boy spoke again.

“What kind of pie is that?”

“Crabapple,” I replied. “What pie do you have?”

“It is a meat pie.”

“A meat pie,” I mused, as I thought back upon how long it had been since I had eaten any other meat than venison. I had eaten a sausage a week before, but it had been a fortnight and half again since I had eaten mutton stew with potatoes and black bread in Hammlintown. That had been a fine stew and the serving wench who brought it to me had been nice and plump with the top two buttons of her blouse undone and she had smiled quite fetchingly when she had set down the tray. Stew is a wonderful food and even when it is not served by a nice, plump serving wench with the top two buttons of her blouse undone. It always seems to give me the same feeling when I eat it that a nice, plump serving wench with the top two buttons of her blouse undone gives me when I see her.

“What are you doing now?” asked the orphan.

“Pondering stew,” said I.

“Well stop it. Rather ponder this instead. You eat half of your crabapple pie and I will eat half of my meat pie. Then we can trade and eat the other halves of each others pies.”

“Alright,” I agreed. “But this will mean that I have to eat my dessert first and my supper after.”

“Just pretend that the meat pie is your dessert and the crabapple pie is your supper.”

“A crabapple pie could be a fine supper. In fact I have been to countries where the most common part of a supper is crabapple pie.”

“Fine then.”

“But a meat pie is in no country a dessert.”

“Then trade me now.”

“How much have you eaten?” I asked.

“About a fourth. How much have you eaten?”

“About a fifth.”

“Then eat another twentieth,” said he. “Then we will trade pies and each eat two thirds of what remains and then trade them back. At that point, we will each eat what remains of the pie we originally started with. That way you can think of the first portion of the crabapple pie as an appetizer, the portion you eat of the meat pie as your supper, and the final portion of the crabapple pie as your dessert.”

“You are a fine mathematician for an orphan,” said I. “But it suits me. Will it not bother you that your appetizer and your dessert are of meat pie and your supper is of crabapple pie?”

“I have decided that I will make this sacrifice,” said he. “Since it was you that provided the meal.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress – Free at Manybooks

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsLooking for the sequel to Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess?

Eaglethorpe Buxton, famed adventurer and story-teller is back, this time to put on a play about a sorceress. When the sorceress, subject of his play arrives with fire in her eyes, Eaglethorpe must pretend to be his good friend Ellwood. Will he pull off this charade and survive? And what happens when the real Ellwood shows up? One can never tell, especially when Eaglethorpe tells the story.

Download it free at Manybooks.net.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsChapter Three: Wherein I escape and lay my retribution upon my captors.

 

I pulled the boy out through the hole that I had created and into the deep snow that had formed in a drift beside the shack. He almost disappeared, as he couldn’t have been more than four foot ten.

“Grab the back of my belt,” said I. “I will guide you. The first thing we must do is find my noble steed.”

“The stable is on the other side of the Inn, just beyond the cart path.”

“Very good. Come along. I am sure that the noise of our escape was heard and any moment I may have to fight off a dozen or so angry villagers with pitchforks and such.”

“Do you have a weapon?” asked the boy.

“I have a knife in my boot, but I would be loath to stick it into a person over such a thing as this.”

“They deserve it,” said the boy, now trailing along behind me as I negotiated my way around the buildings in the gloomy night. “If my father was here, he’d lay waste to this town.”

“Quite the fierce cobbler was he?”

“Um… yes. Before he died…leaving me an orphan.”

I trudged through the snow around the large building that I now knew was the inn and crossed the cart path, distinguishable from the rest of the landscape by two parallel ruts in which the snow was not quite as deep as everywhere else. I perceived no danger from any direction and indeed could still hear the voices of men and women singing in the inn. The stable, which I would have recognized even without the orphan’s help, was dark and silent. The pleasant aroma of horse dung enveloped me as the slight breeze turned in my direction. I crept up to the large double door and pulled one side open slightly.

“Hysteria,” I called in a whisper and was answered by a gentle knicker, which is to say the sound that horses make when they are neither angry nor excited nor otherwise engaged.

Inside the stable was pitch black, and I cast around for a lantern, but the lad needed no such artifice.

“I see your horse in the last stall,” said he.

“You have very good night vision, orphan,” said I.

The little ragamuffin guided me by the hand to the far stall and by the time we arrived there I could make out the more prominent shapes including that of Hysteria, which is to say my horse, who tossed her head in greeting.

“Poor girl,” said I, running my hands over her. “They didn’t even bother to unsaddle you or remove your bit and bridle.”

“All the better for us and our escape,” said the boy.

I led Hysteria out of the stall, through the dark of the stable, and into the lesser dark of the night. It was in fact, quite a good night for traveling, at least as far as light was concerned. The moon was reflected off the white snow, and though the ghostly illumination created monsters of the many gaunt and gnarled trees, they were easily negotiated through. This put me in mind of a number of similar nights, when the moon was shining upon the snow. It seems somehow unfair that I more than most find myself sneaking in or out of town on cold, dark nights. I am not one to complain about my lot in life though. Then at that moment, as if to remind me that the lot of others was worse than my own, the boy tugged at my sleeve.

“What are you doing?” said he.

“I am pondering life,” I replied.

“Can you ponder life once we’ve made our escape from this wretched town?”

“Quite so,” said I, placing my foot in the stirrup. Once I was in the saddle, I reached down for my charge. “Come along orphan.”

“In some circles it might be considered rude to keep calling me an orphan,” he opined.

“Your parents are dead and so you are an orphan,” said I, lifting him up to sit behind me. “If I call you something else, your parents will still be dead.”

“Even so,” he agreed. “Let us get out of here.”

“Not until we make this town pay for its injustice and our indignities,” said I.

I spurred Hysteria forward, though truth be told I did not spur her precisely because I do not wear spurs. Spurs seem unnecessarily mean and pointed and Hysteria is possessed of something of a fragile ego. If one speaks harshly too her, she is likely to go into a mope for weeks on end and jabbing her haunches or belly with pointy metal objects could send her into a serious downward spiral of depression. It would be a sad thing to see. So I encouraged her forward. I urged her forward. I coaxed her forward. I asked her to go forward and she went forward, which now that I think about it, is the direction that she is usually most likely to go.

I guided her through the snow, across the cart path, and around the corner of the inn to the spot where upon I had first been laid hold of. I fully expected that the pie I had originally seen would by now be gone. As cold as the weather was, the pie would have gone from hot to warm to cool to quite cold in the time that I had spent escaping from the shack and rescuing my valiant steed, which is to say Hysteria. I was not wrong. The pie was gone. But Ho! There were now two new pies sitting on the very same window ledge.

Sitting astride Hysteria as I was, the pies were now at a level between my shoulder and my waist, and I could easily look inside the window. A fat woman with red cheeks and red hair and wearing a white apron was rolling out dough with a rolling pin. She was too busy to notice me. That was not the case with the stout fellow that at that moment entered from the common room beyond. He caught sight of me and let out a yell that could have, and in fact did, summon everyone in the place. The sounds of singing stopped as others rushed to see the source of his consternation.

“Let this be a lesson to you not to waylay innocent travelers!” I shouted, scooping up the pies, one in each hand. I urged Hysteria onward, but no doubt feeling the warm air exiting the window, she was loath to move. The orphan fixed that by slapping her on the backside, her fragile ego notwithstanding. She jumped and shot around to the front of the inn just as the gang of toughs from inside came out the front door. They were just in time to watch us race off into the darkness with two warm and steamy pies.