Brechalon – Free at Smashwords

Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 0: Brechalon is the novella-length preview to The Voyage of the Minotaur, The Dark and Forbidding Land, The Drache Girl, and the other books which make up the Senta and the Steel Dragon series. Set two years before the events in The Voyage of the Minotaur, Brechalon tells the story of the Kingdom of Greater Brechalon in a world that is not quite like our own Victorian Age. The Dechantagne siblings; Iolanthe, Augie, and Terrence plan an expedition to a distant land, hoping the colony they build will restore their family to the position of wealth and power it once had. Meanwhile the powerful sorceress Zurfina rots in an anti-magic prison, guilty of not serving the interests of the kingdom, and the orphan girl Senta Bly lives her life without the knowledge that she will one day grow up to be the sorceress’s apprentice. Senta and the Steel Dragon is a tale of adventure in a world of rifles and steam power, where magic and dragons have not been forgotten.

Brechalon – Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 0 – Free at Smashwords –  – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11537

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 6 Excerpt

There seemed to be more people milling around on the starboard side of the ship, so he headed to the port, in hopes of finding a spot to sit. When he rounded one of the battleship’s great gun turrets, Zeah saw why most of the others were eschewing this particular location. Zurfina the Magnificent was standing near the railing. Her blond hair was its usual, carefully cultivated chaos. She was wearing a dress which completely covered her from head to heel, but which was so tight and so contoured to her body, that it was more lewd than if she had been standing there naked. Zeah would have sworn that it was made from rubber, had such a thing been possible. The girl that had accompanied the sorceress when she had boarded was with her now. She too wore a black dress, in a more traditional style, though made of the same shiny substance. And the question of what type of animal that the sorceress had brought aboard with her was now answered. The case that she had carried when she had arrived now sat beside the girl, and on top of the case perched a small, sinewy, winged reptile. It had a long, snakelike neck, and an equally long, snakelike tale, four legs and two thin wings. It was covered in scales the color of new steel, even on its wings. When it suddenly flapped them, sparkling reflections caused Zeah to cover his eyes. It was a dragon, the first that the head butler had ever seen. The girl was feeding it pieces of raw, red meat with a gloved hand. Between bites the tiny dragon would make growls reminiscent of an angry housecat and the girl would giggle.

Zeah paused for a moment, uncertainly. He was about to turn around and go back the way he had come, but the sorceress looked up and saw him. Not wanting to be seen a coward by one so powerful, he squared his shoulders and stepped forward with his porridge and pumpernickel. The girl was sitting on a case covering some type of shipboard equipment, and the butler moved to sit next to her only a few feet from the dragon and the obscenely dressed magic user.

“May I join you?” he asked.

“You are more than welcome, Mr. Korlann,” said Zurfina, in her smoky, sultry voice. “We are at our lessons. Perhaps you can benefit from them as well.”

Zurfina raised her hand and a glowing sphere rose up from the deck. It floated up until it reached the height of her shoulders, and then began expanding and becoming more opaque, until Zeah recognized it as a globe of the world, which stopped growing at eleven or twelve feet in diameter. As it slowly spun in mid-air, Zeah could make out the shapes of the landmasses and oceans of the world.

“This is Greater Brechalon,” said Zurfina, and the shape of the four islands making up the country glowed.

“It’s little,” said the girl.

“Yes it is, Pet,” said Zurfina. “It’s just one of many countries on the continent of Sumir and Sumir is just one of the twelve continents. We’re going to this one—Mallon.”

Another portion of the globe was illuminated as it slowly rotated around in mid-air. This was a large portion of a tremendous landmass made up of four continents, and was almost on the opposite side of the world from Greater Brechalon and the rest of Sumir.

“And this area right inside of Mallon, is the land of Birmisia”

“It’s little too,” said the girl.

“True, it is only a small portion of Mallon, and yet it’s larger than all of Greater Brechalon. You see, that’s why the King and the Prime Minister want colonies on all these other continents. There is all this land, just sitting there, filled with the riches of nature, and no one to reap them—a vast world without the benefits of civilization.”

“What’s so great about civilization?” asked the girl.

“You see, Mr. Korlann?” said Zurfina. “Out of the mouths of babes come great truths.”

“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength over thine enemies, that thou might slay them and lay waste to their lands and their flocks,” quoted Zeah. “For the kingdom of the Lord shall reign over all the other kingdoms of the world.”

“Yes, well,” said Zurfina. “She has plenty of time to become disillusioned later.”

The tiny steel dragon startled Zeah, as it let out a short growl. The little beast was undeniably beautiful. It reminded the butler of a statue that was heavily detailed—the pointed barb and the end of its tail, the whiskers around its face, each individual scale fitting neatly together as it moved.”

“You have a question, Mr. Korlann?” asked Zurfina.

“Is this a real dragon?”

“Most assuredly.”

“Aren’t they… well, dangerous?”

“Most assuredly.”

“How large will it get?”

“Far too large to sit where it is now sitting,” said Zurfina, her smoky voice punctuating the image.

The girl fed the dragon one last piece of meat, and then took off the leather glove that had protected her hand. The dragon, evidently unhappy that his meal was over, let out a particularly long and unhappy growl.

“Does it have a name?” asked Zeah.

“Of course,” said Zurfina.

“We don’t know it yet,” said the girl. “He’s too little to talk.”

His Robot Girlfriend – Free at Smashwords

His Robot GirlfriendHis Robot Girlfriend – Free in every ebook format at Smashwords.

Mike Smith’s life was crap, living all alone, years after his wife had died and his children had grown up and moved away. Then he saw the commercial for the Daffodil. Far more than other robots, the Daffodil could become anything and everything he wanted it to be. Mike’s life is about to change.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1864

 

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 5 Excerpt

The Voyage of the MinotaurClosing her fist tightly around the coin, Senta took off down the street, around the corner and down Prince Tybalt Boulevard. She was running faster than she had ever run. She thought that, to the other people on the street, she must appear nothing more than a black streak flying by like magic. Like magic! She was just about to reach the corner of Avenue Phoenix, around which sat the toy store, when her feet suddenly stopped and of their own accord, took her into the alley just behind the row of stores.   She stood against the wall and opened her left hand to look at the coin. Magic! She pointed at the coin with her right index finger.

“Uuthanum,” she said, and twirled her finger.

The coin flipped over in her palm.

“Uuthanum,” she said, again twirling her finger.

This time the coin sat up on its edge and began to spin.

She could do magic!

“Hey, gimme that!” said a voice nearby.

Senta looked up to see a boy a few feet away from her. He had been sitting in a pile of trash, but now rose to his feet. He was a bit older and about twice as thick as Senta, but about the same height. He wore a pair of pants that might have once been white, but now were decidedly dark grey. His shirt, if the upside down writing on the front were any indication, had once been a sack of Farmer’s Best Grade “A” Flour.

“Gimme that.”

Senta closed her fist around the decimark and put her hand behind her back, but she didn’t say anything. The boy moved closer and balled up his fist. Senta pointed at him with her right index finger.

“Uuthanum!” she said.

She didn’t think it would really work, but if she could flip the boy over, like the coin, then she could run back out onto the street. The boy didn’t flip over. Instead, a blue cone sprang from her outstretched finger, expanding to engulf the boy.   There was a crackling sound. The boy’s skin turned blue. Frost formed on his hair, his eyelashes, and his nose. Senta pulled her finger back, but the cone remained for a moment before fading. The end of the boy’s nose turned black. He opened his mouth to scream, but his lips cracked and began to bleed. He turned to run, and then fell screaming. He got back up and ran away down the alley, but he had left a frozen big toe on the ground where he had fallen.

Senta walked over and bent down to look at the frozen big toe on the packed dirt ground of the alley. She had a sudden urge to pick it up and put it in her pocket, but she didn’t. She did reach out and touch it with her finger. It wobbled slightly. Standing back up, she walked out of the alley and around the corner to the front of Humboldt’s Fine Toys. The same toys were in the window that had been there when she had last looked inside—the life-like, singing bird; the mechanical ships, trains, and steam carriages; and the doll. With a feeling she had never felt before and could not put a name to, Senta walked over to the door, pushed it open, and walked inside.

A bell hanging above the door chimed as Senta walked in. Though brightly lit, the room seemed somehow darker than it really was because it was so filled with toys. Overflowing counters left only tiny little aisles through which to negotiate. There was no shopkeeper to be seen, but the girl heard a muffled call from the back, and a moment later a man walked into the main shop. He was an older man with thinning grey hair and a bushy mustache, wearing a white shirt with brown suspenders. He wore gold-framed pince-nez glasses. When he saw the child standing in his store, with fine, new, frighteningly inky black clothing, he visibly started.

“Hello, young miss,” he said. “What can I do for you today?”

“I want the doll.”

“Which doll?”

Senta looked around, suddenly realizing that there were scores, maybe hundreds of dolls in the shop. There were dolls on the counters and dolls on the shelves along the back wall. There were even dolls hanging from the ceiling. Most, like the one in the window, were cloth-bodied dolls, with ceramic hands and feet. Some wore beautiful miniature gowns, though others wore day dresses. They ranged in size from a petit six inches to one that was nearly as tall as Senta.

“I want the doll in the window.”

Nodding, the man went to the window and retrieved the doll. He carefully held it by its cloth body, with its porcelain face peeking over the top of his hand and the cloth legs with black porcelain shoes dangling below it. He walked back to the counter and slipping back behind it, set the doll down in front of Senta.

“I can see the attraction,” said the toy maker.

Senta suddenly realized that the doll looked like her; or rather she now looked like the doll. She hadn’t this morning when she had gotten up, but now she had a new black dress, and shiny new black shoes, and a new short haircut.

“It’s four marks,” said the toy maker.

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 4 Excerpt

The Voyage of the MinotaurShe looked like a demon or a deviant prostitute, or some combination of the two. Her shoulder length blond hair was styled as though it had been cut with garden shears and it stuck out in all directions. She had dropped charcoal dust into her large grey eyes, creating thick black borders around them like the ancient Argrathian queens, and she had framed them with green malachite eye shadow. Her lips were so dark that it was more the red of blood than that of the rose. Though her skin was alabaster white, as was Iolanthe’s own, she wore no rouge on her cheeks to give her that aura of health and vitality. She wore no hat, and to Iolanthe’s eyes, no clothing.

The woman’s ensemble was bizarre and lewd in the extreme. It was clearly meant to frighten and baffle at the same time. It was a collection of women’s undergarments transformed into outer clothing. Her arms were covered in fishnet gloves, though they couldn’t really be called gloves, because they didn’t cover her fingers. They simply attached to rings around her thumbs and her pinkies and then ran up almost to her shoulders, where they were held on tight with silken bows. She wore a corset made of black leather with a series of five belt-like straps with buckles running up the front, which Iolanthe suddenly realized, would allow the woman to don and doff the device without the aid of anyone else. The low-cut brassier portion of the corset left much of the woman’s chest bared and exposed two tattoos, each a five pointed star, two and a half inches across, outlined in black but filled in with red ink. She wore a kind of leather skirt over the corset, but it reached down only about fourteen inches from her waist, leaving the tops of her stockings and the twelve suspenders connecting them to the corset, completely exposed. The stockings were fishnet mesh, matching the gloves. They were mostly unseen however, as the woman’s leather boots reached all the way past her knees to mid-thigh. These boots each had seven of the same belt like straps with buckles that her corset had, as though they were made to match, which they probably were. The boots had thick square four-inch heels. This last detail was the least striking, as high heels were the fashion. Iolanthe’s own shoes had similar heels, and owing to the fact that she could look the woman directly in the eye, the two women must have been of about the same height, with or without heels.

“Zurfina, I presume,” said Iolanthe.

“Zurfina the Magnificent.” The woman had a husky voice that put Iolanthe in mind of a teen-aged boy.

“Am I supposed to call you Zurfina the Magnificent?” asked Iolanthe. “Do I say ‘good morning Zurfina the Magnificent’ or ‘meet me for tea, Zurfina the Magnificent’ or ‘look out for that falling boulder, Zurfina the Magnificent’?”

“You are of course quite right, Miss Iolanthe Dechantagne,” said the woman. “We shall be on a first name basis, Miss Iolanthe Dechantagne.”

Iolanthe heard a small sound coming from behind her and to her right and suspected that Yuah was suppressing a laugh, or perhaps, worse, a smirk. She didn’t turn to look at the dressing maid, just aimed evil thoughts in her direction.

“Show us some magic, then,” she said. “I feel the need to be impressed. I know my brother is already.”

Augie, who had been so engrossed in the woman’s posterior, that he had not even noticed that his sister had entered the room, suddenly startled to awareness and stood up straight. The blond woman favored him with a sly smile over her shoulder. Then she raised her arm out straight in front of her, palm down. Turning her hand over, a flame sprang up in her palm. Within two or three seconds, the flame had coalesced into a humanoid figure, eight or nine inches tall, which immediately began pirouetting and spinning in a miniature ballet, all without leaving Zurfina’s hand.

“That’s it?” asked Iolanthe. “That’s your great magic?”

“Well I thought it was smashing,” said Augie.

“You don’t like fire?” said Zurfina. “How about ice?”

The tiny figure turned from fire to ice, but continued dancing, breaking off little pieces of itself as it did so, to fall to the floor like tiny snowflakes. Iolanthe pursed her lips.

“My brothers and I are preparing to embark on a great expedition,” she said.

“I know all about it,” said the sorceress.

“Then you know I need a magic user with real power. Just dressing like a necromantic whore doesn’t make you a powerful witch.”

“Oh, you are so right,” said the sorceress. “Clothes do not make the woman.”

She waved her hands in front of her own body, and her clothing became an exact match for Iolanthe’s own evening gown, right down to the red and black trim.

“Or does it?” Zurfina said.

She waved her left hand in front of her face and it became an exact match of Iolanthe’s. She even had the red and white carnations atop her head. The false Iolanthe gave a very flouncy and very un-Iolanthe-like curtsy, then raised her chin and said in a very Iolanthe-like voice. “Yuah, fetch me a white wine!” Yuah took several steps forward before remembering herself and stopping.

“Outstanding!” shouted Augie, clapping his hands.

Iolanthe took a deep breath. “Not bad, I do admit. But show me something that I won’t see one of our journeyman wizards do.”

The sorceress pointed her arm at Yuah, fingers splayed. “Uuthanum uastus corakathum paj.” There was a grinding sound, as though someone were walking upon gravel, and suddenly Yuah froze in place. She, her grey and white dress, and everything else she wore had been turned into a stone statue. She looked like one of the apostles that lined the nave in the Great Church of the Holy Savior. It was as though Pallaton the Elder had been brought from his time into the present to capture the essence of a Zaeri dressing maid.

“My God!” said Augie, absentmindedly crossing himself.

Thanks!

I had a great time at the Clark County Library Spring Fling Book Fair yesterday.  I met some really nice people and autographed a few books.  All in all a very enjoyable experience.  Thanks to those who stopped by and said “Hi”.  Thanks also to Julie Kobiashi and the whole crew at the LV District Library for their hard work in putting it all together.

If you are interested in purchasing an autographed copy of one of my books, shoot me an email and it can get done.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

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.

 

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress – Free at Smashwords – #Fantasy #Comedy https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/4511