Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 13

Princess Jholeira and I, and of course Hysteria, made our way east, following the road which is called the East Road, which is only appropriate, as it goes east… and it is a road. I had pretty much accepted that the girl thought she was a princess. She was convincing enough as she told me of life growing up among the royalty of the elven wood. I listened to her descriptions, because you can never have too much local color to throw into a story, but I didn’t commit much to memory as far as the events of her life were concerned. There just wasn’t much of a plot there. But to return to the point, generally speaking, if someone thinks they are a princess, I have found that it doesn’t much matter whether anyone else thinks they are or not.

At teatime we stopped and I made a fire, brewing some coffee and whipping up a pan full of biscuits. These were not like biscuits in Aerithraine. There biscuits are crunchy little sweet things—what my poor old father called “cookies” though you bake them instead of cooking them. These were what they call biscuits in Lyrria—something in the sort of a soft scone made with flour, salt, and animal lard. If we had only had a bit of honey they would have been quite good, but alas I had no honey. They filled us up though and both Jholeira and I were glad for them. Hysteria didn’t think very much of them though and she was mopey again for the rest of the day.

We traveled until dark was starting to settle. I had just decided that it was time to look for a campsite when my little orphan princess spotted the lights of houses some distance away. We continued and arrived at a thorpe, which is to say a hamlet or a small village. It was very small too, having only a single inn and half a dozen farmhouses. The inside of the inn was warm and inviting. We were greeted at a large counter just inside, by a husky innkeeper with arms like tree trunks and hands like hams. He had thick whiskers on either side of his face and when he smiled he revealed that both front teeth were gone.

“What can I do for you?” he asked.

“We would like a room.”

“Two rooms,” said the girl. “And stabling for our horse.”

“Ixnay on the ootay oomsray,” said I. “I don’t have the money to pay for the one. I was hoping I might pay for it with my storytelling…”

“Is that the good-for-nothing no-count Eaglethorpe Buxton I see?” called a voice from the doorway beyond.

While the proprietor squinted at me as if to see if it truly were the good-for-nothing no-count Eaglethorpe Buxton in front of him and not a good-for-something mathematically fluent version, I turned to see my accuser. There in the doorway was my oldest and dearest friend—Ellwood Cyrene. He had a mug of ale in his hand and a smile on his face. He looked quite at home having left his armor and swords off as he relaxed, though I could see the two daggers he kept in his belt, the one he kept up his right sleeve, and the one inside his back collar, as well as his knife in his right boot and the throwing stars in his left.

“That cannot be Ellwood Cyrene,” said I, “walking around defenseless and drunk.”

He stepped forward and we embraced. It was a manly embrace. He held onto me a bit too long, but what of that? He was a bit tipsy no doubt. No one could ever doubt the manliness of Ellwood Cyrene.

“This is for two rooms and stabling,” said Ellwood, tossing the innkeeper a big gold coin. “No doubt Eaglethorpe will want to pay for his supper with story-telling.”

The proprietor’s face lit up. “It has been a long while since we’ve had a storyteller.”

“And it will continue to be a long while,” said Ellwood, punching me in a very manly way on the shoulder. “I said Eaglethorpe wanted to pay for his supper with story-telling. I didn’t say that he could. Come my friend, let me buy you a mug of the muddy liquid that passes for ale in these parts.”

And throwing his arm around my shoulder, in a very manly way, he led me into the common room of the inn. The orphan princess followed. We sat at a rough-hewn table and Ellwood waved for the serving wench. She was attractive, though not as plump as I like, and she didn’t have any of the buttons on her blouse undone, and it didn’t matter anyway because she had eyes only for Ellwood, who gave her a wink in return.

“Ale for my good friend,” he said. “And… when did you get a pet boy?”

“She’s a girl and an elf,” I whispered to him. “But I want to keep it quiet. You know how much trouble women can cause.”

He nodded sagely, and then smiled at the wench. “A glass of milk for this poor pathetic ragamuffin.”

Jholeira playfully stuck out her tongue at him and the serving wench let loose with a peel of musical laughter as she went to get our order. Ellwood bought round after round as we sat talking of our service in the Great Goblin War and about our many adventures together. At some point, when neither of us was paying attention, the wench brought us a loaf of bread and a joint of beef and we ate like kings.

We had almost finished our supper, when Ellwood left to answer nature’s call. I had gotten up several times by that point, but Ellwood is renowned for his large bladder. As he walked away, my little elf girl leaned over to me.

“Have you ever noticed what a pretty man your friend Ellwood is?”

“Yes. I mean no,” I answered. “Absolutely not. How, why, how would I notice something like that?”

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The Dragon’s Choice – Preorder now at Barnes and Noble

The Dragon’s Choice (Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 9) is available for preorder at Barnes and Noble for the nook.  It’s just $2.99

The dragons seemingly have returned to the world and are once again in vying for power. Bessemer the steel dragon is worshipped by the reptilian lizzies, while the evil Voindrazius tries to put together a pantheon that he will control. Zoantheria, the coral dragon, feels pulled in all directions. Wanted both by Bessemer and Voindrazius, she is called to a world she has never known, her mistress, the sorceress Senta Bly encouraging her to take up the mantle of goddess. Her heart, however, is pulling her in a different direction, toward the young viscount Augustus Dechantagne. Which will prove stronger– love or destiny? Both Senta and Augie have their own problems, hers with teaching her wayward eponymous daughter the ways of magic, and him dealing with the yoke of leadership and a headstrong mother. Meanwhile, far across the ocean, the Dechantagne girls are taking Brech City by storm. Will one of them land a prince?

The Dragon’s Choice – Available for preorder at iBooks

The Dragon’s Choice (Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 9) is available for preorder at iBooks, for just $2.99.

The dragons seemingly have returned to the world and are once again in vying for power. Bessemer the steel dragon is worshipped by the reptilian lizzies, while the evil Voindrazius tries to put together a pantheon that he will control. Zoantheria, the coral dragon, feels pulled in all directions. Wanted both by Bessemer and Voindrazius, she is called to a world she has never known, her mistress, the sorceress Senta Bly encouraging her to take up the mantle of goddess. Her heart, however, is pulling her in a different direction, toward the young viscount Augustus Dechantagne. Which will prove stronger– love or destiny? Both Senta and Augie have their own problems, hers with teaching her wayward eponymous daughter the ways of magic, and him dealing with the yoke of leadership and a headstrong mother. Meanwhile, far across the ocean, the Dechantagne girls are taking Brech City by storm. Will one of them land a prince?

The Dragon’s Choice – Preorder at Amazon

The Dragon’s Choice (Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 9) is available for preorder at Amazon.  It is $2.99 for the Kindle edition.  A paperback edition will be available at a later date.

The dragons seemingly have returned to the world and are once again in vying for power. Bessemer the steel dragon is worshipped by the reptilian lizzies, while the evil Voindrazius tries to put together a pantheon that he will control. Zoantheria, the coral dragon, feels pulled in all directions. Wanted both by Bessemer and Voindrazius, she is called to a world she has never known, her mistress, the sorceress Senta Bly encouraging her to take up the mantle of goddess. Her heart, however, is pulling her in a different direction, toward the young viscount Augustus Dechantagne. Which will prove stronger– love or destiny? Both Senta and Augie have their own problems, hers with teaching her wayward eponymous daughter the ways of magic, and him dealing with the yoke of leadership and a headstrong mother. Meanwhile, far across the ocean, the Dechantagne girls are taking Brech City by storm. Will one of them land a prince?

 

The Two Dragons – Chapter 3 Excerpt

It certainly didn’t feel like his house. Technically it was, even though it didn’t feel like it. Under Brech law, all of a woman’s possessions belonged to her husband. And Egeria had a great many possessions. The table that Zeah was sitting at, made of sturdy cherry wood brought all the way from Mirsanna and inlayed with jade and mother of pearl probably cost more than he earned in a year—than he had ever earned, in his best year. The teacup in his hand probably cost more than the table—at least the set that the teacup had come from. Another man might have been bothered by this feeling that he was living in someone else’s house, or felt a certain unease at owning so many things that didn’t feel like his own. Not Zeah. He had spent his entire life living in a home that didn’t belong to him, and even when he eventually had his own home, he had only lived there a week or two before he moved back out and began living out of a small room behind his office.

“What are you thinking about, Dearest?” Egeria had worked very hard to come up with just the right endearment to use after their marriage and “dearest” was apparently her choice. It seemed as though she used it every third sentence.

“I was just admiring this cup.”

“It’s from the Daliath Islands. They came overland to Brech, and then I had them shipped here.”

“Is that so?” said Zeah, taking a little more interest in the cup than he originally had. He only had a vague notion of where the Daliath Islands were—somewhere in southeast Sumir.

“It’s iron glaze over a colorless pigment. Tenth century.”

Zeah started and almost dropped the cup. He had to revise his estimate. The single cup cost more than he had made in his entire life. He looked around the table. There were one, two, three, four cups here, a saucer for each cup and a teapot. No wonder the teapot was so oddly shaped. That must have been the style nine hundred years ago.

“Careful Dearest, you don’t want hot tea spilled in your lap.”

“Yes, I mean no.”

Putting his teacup down, Zeah took a bite of toast. It was at least possible to get one’s mind around toast. A loaf of bread was 20P, an exorbitant amount if one were buying bread in Brech, but here in Birmisia, it was about half of what people had paid for bread only two years ago. Toast with a bit of honey; that was all a man really needed. What did a man need with thousand year old teacups? He ate the last bit of toast and washed it down with tea from his immoderate teacup.

Egeria stood up from the table and gathered the used dishes together. She had only just collected them, when Chunny, her lizzie servant, appeared at her side to take them from her. She swept back around the table and sat down opposite her new husband. Zeah could have forgotten all about cups and toast and spent the entire day looking at her. She was still in her dressing gown, layer upon layer of pink Mirsannan silk, which only hinted at the petite form beneath. Egeria’s long red hair hung loosely over her shoulders, framing her pretty face. Sparkling green eyes looked back at him.

“Seeing you like that makes me want to stay home.”

“You don’t have to go to the office. You could stay home with me. We could eat cake in bed and make love all day.”

Zeah felt the heat rise up into his face. “We could eat cake all day, but I don’t…”

“Grandpa! Grandpa!”

Shouts and the sounds of stampeding shoes on the fine wood flooring announced the arrival of Zeah’s grandchildren, and they piled on top of him before he had a chance to even turn around. Augie, a rough and tumble boy, who was proud to say he was “over four and a half”, grabbed Zeah around the neck, while his little sister Terra, a thin and rather pale three and a half year-old in a yellow dress, was satisfied with wrestling her grandfather’s knee into submission. When Zeah did manage to turn his head, he saw his grandchildren’s cousin Iolana standing demurely by the door. He held out an arm and she raced forward, giving him a big hug. Though her dress matched that of her young cousin, the tall and thin eight year old stood out, with her long, golden hair.

He expected to see his daughter with the children, but instead Chunny ushered Governor Iolanthe Staff into the room. She looked as striking as ever in a grey pin-striped dress, a very masculine-looking tie, and black boater. She smiled at the Korlanns. She seemed to be smiling a great deal lately, but to Zeah’s mind, it just never looked quite right on her. It was like painting a rainbow on the prow of a battleship.

“Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Korlann,” she said, reminding them that it was the first time she had seen them since the wedding.

“Good morning Iolanthe,” said Egeria, getting up and giving Mrs. Staff a hug.

This allowed Zeah to simply say “Good morning,” and not have to say “Good morning Iolanthe” which he found excruciatingly painful to do.

Zeah stood up, Augie still wrapped around his neck, Iolana wrapped around his waist, and Terra wrapped around his knee. He reached down and scooped the smallest child up under his left arm and he guided the oldest with his right hand behind her head. He took two steps forward and doubled over, letting the middle child’s feet hit the floor.

“You must let go of Grandpa, children,” he said. “He’s way too old for this.”

“Come with me and I’ll get you a biscuit,” said Egeria.

Only Terra yelled “Yay!” but all three followed her into the kitchen.

“My daughter’s not with you?” he asked.

“Obviously,” replied Iolanthe. “I don’t know where she is actually. Cissy had the children dressed, so I thought I would bring them along to my office. They can play in the garden.”

“I’m sure Egeria wouldn’t mind letting them stay here.”

“It didn’t take you long to start making her decisions for her.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 12

Not having a hare to cook for our morning meal, and in truth I never really expected there to be one, I didn’t bother building a fire. We shared cold pickles and Hysteria ate the last of her oats. The sun was high in the sky and even though we were eating our meager meal amid large drifts of snow, as long as we stayed in the sun, it was pleasant enough. As you can imagine, my mind was reeling at the possibility that my orphan boy was not only a girl and an elf, but quite possibly a seventy-nine year old half-orphan princess. My mind was so awash in the news that I scarcely paid any attention to the pickles I was eating. It was a real shame, because I enjoy a good pickle. My poor old mother made some of the best pickles ever. Did you know that pickles don’t have to come from cucumbers? You can pickle just about anything.

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

“I’m attempting to ponder pickles.”

“That figures,” said she.

“But I find myself unable to.”

“Oh? Why?”

“Because of you, my very own little liar.”

“Stop calling me a liar. I didn’t lie. Everything I’ve told you is the truth… except for the part about being a boy and being called Galfrid and being an orphan.”

“And now you claim to be a princess.”

“I am a princess,” she argued. “My father is Jholhard of the wood elves.”

“Come,” I said, wiping the pickle juice off my fingers. “Let’s get going and you can tell me your woeful tale as we ride.”

We remounted my noble steed, which is to say Hysteria, and started off once again down the road. The mood was subdued. At least the mood was subdued between myself and the half-orphan princess. Hysteria seemed quite jovial, and threatened to break into a trot on several occasions. I can only assume that she was happy to have had oats for elevenses. I am sure she didn’t realize that we had no more.

“It is just like in your story of the Queen of Aerithraine when she was trapped in Fall City,” Jholeira said at last.

“What is?”

“Being a princess. It’s like being in jail.”

“You were locked away?”

“Well, not really. I had the run of the entire wood. It’s just that I didn’t realize just how small a world that wood really was until I left.”

“Now we come to the first plot element,” said I. “Why did you leave?”

“I ran away,” she said. “I ran away because my father was going to force me to marry.”

“Well that’s hardly worth running away over,” said I. “I mean, fathers all across the world are busy arranging marriages for their daughters. What was wrong with the fellow? Wasn’t he tall enough? Was he bald? Did he have a wooden eye? It was a wooden eye, wasn’t it?”

“He didn’t have a wooden eye.”

“If he didn’t have a wooden eye, then what was wrong with him?” I wondered. “Maybe you are just being too picky.”

“There was nothing wrong with him. I just didn’t want to marry him. I didn’t want to marry anyone.”

“That seems a bit obstinate to me,” said I.

“Don’t berate me about it now,” she sulked. “I have paid dearly for running away. I was captured by slavers and taken halfway to Lyrria. I only escaped them when bandits attacked them. The bandits took me captive and carried me away to their camp in the mountains. I was taken from the bandit camp when trolls attacked it. The trolls took me into the woods. Then I was stolen away from the trolls by ogres, who put me in a cage and took me to their horrible city. There things got even worse when I was captured from the ogres by a band of wererats.”

“Hold on.” I counted them off on my fingers. “Slavers, bandits, trolls, ogres, and wererats… If this were my story, then next would come… harpies.”

“Pixies.”

“Oh, well, that doesn’t sound so bad. Pixies are little.”

“Evil pixies.”

“Still. Little.”

“Evil pixies from hell.”

“Ah. But at least you got away from them.”

“I managed to escape.”

“Because they’re little, right?”

“Um, yes. But then I was captured by pirates.”

“Pirates in the middle of North Lyrria? By the Ogre Mountains? Far away from the ocean?”

“They were on holiday.”

“Pirates on holiday?”

“Yes.”

“All right. And how did you get away from them?” I asked.

“One of the pirates, a woman named Prudence released me. I think she was jealous that the pirate captain might fancy me instead of her.”

“Prudence? Prudence the pirate?”

“That’s right.”

“And you say she was jealous?”

“Yes.”

I ran through the details in my mind. Slavers, bandits, trolls, ogres, and wererats. Then came the pixies, but I would change them to harpies. Finally there was Prudence the pirate. Prudence who was jealous. Possessive! Possessive Prudence the pirate. Or Prudence the possessive pirate. Yes, I quite like the sound of that. Prudence the Possessive Pirate—that had to be a half-crown story if ever I heard one. I could take a title like that, work it into something, take it to every pub and inn in Illustria, and make a fortune. Of course I would send the half-orphan elf girl a percentage. On the other hand, she said she was a princess. Princesses are rich. She probably doesn’t need the paltry amount made from the sale of a story. She might be insulted if I tried to pay her.

“Now I’ve had more than enough,” said she.

“You don’t want any money?”

“No. I’ve had more than enough adventure and I want to go home,” she replied. “Are you carrying on some other conversation in your head about how you are going to take my story to every pub and inn in Illustria, and make a fortune, and not pay me anything for it?”

“Of course not,” I replied. “You want to go home. And besides, I am a firm believer in maintaining all the appropriate copyrights.”

The Two Dragons – Chapter 2 Excerpt

It certainly didn’t feel like his house. Technically it was, even though it didn’t feel like it. Under Brech law, all of a woman’s possessions belonged to her husband. And Egeria had a great many possessions. The table that Zeah was sitting at, made of sturdy cherry wood brought all the way from Mirsanna and inlayed with jade and mother of pearl probably cost more than he earned in a year—than he had ever earned, in his best year. The teacup in his hand probably cost more than the table—at least the set that the teacup had come from. Another man might have been bothered by this feeling that he was living in someone else’s house, or felt a certain unease at owning so many things that didn’t feel like his own. Not Zeah. He had spent his entire life living in a home that didn’t belong to him, and even when he eventually had his own home, he had only lived there a week or two before he moved back out and began living out of a small room behind his office.

“What are you thinking about, Dearest?” Egeria had worked very hard to come up with just the right endearment to use after their marriage and “dearest” was apparently her choice. It seemed as though she used it every third sentence.

“I was just admiring this cup.”

“It’s from the Daliath Islands. They came overland to Brech, and then I had them shipped here.”

“Is that so?” said Zeah, taking a little more interest in the cup than he originally had. He only had a vague notion of where the Daliath Islands were—somewhere in southeast Sumir.

“It’s iron glaze over a colorless pigment. Tenth century.”

Zeah started and almost dropped the cup. He had to revise his estimate. The single cup cost more than he had made in his entire life. He looked around the table. There were one, two, three, four cups here, a saucer for each cup and a teapot. No wonder the teapot was so oddly shaped. That must have been the style nine hundred years ago.

“Careful Dearest, you don’t want hot tea spilled in your lap.”

“Yes, I mean no.”

Putting his teacup down, Zeah took a bite of toast. It was at least possible to get one’s mind around toast. A loaf of bread was 20P, an exorbitant amount if one were buying bread in Brech, but here in Birmisia, it was about half of what people had paid for bread only two years ago. Toast with a bit of honey; that was all a man really needed. What did a man need with thousand year old teacups? He ate the last bit of toast and washed it down with tea from his immoderate teacup.

Egeria stood up from the table and gathered the used dishes together. She had only just collected them, when Chunny, her lizzie servant, appeared at her side to take them from her. She swept back around the table and sat down opposite her new husband. Zeah could have forgotten all about cups and toast and spent the entire day looking at her. She was still in her dressing gown, layer upon layer of pink Mirsannan silk, which only hinted at the petite form beneath. Egeria’s long red hair hung loosely over her shoulders, framing her pretty face. Sparkling green eyes looked back at him.

“Seeing you like that makes me want to stay home.”

“You don’t have to go to the office. You could stay home with me. We could eat cake in bed and make love all day.”

Zeah felt the heat rise up into his face. “We could eat cake all day, but I don’t…”

“Grandpa! Grandpa!”

Shouts and the sounds of stampeding shoes on the fine wood flooring announced the arrival of Zeah’s grandchildren, and they piled on top of him before he had a chance to even turn around. Augie, a rough and tumble boy, who was proud to say he was “over four and a half”, grabbed Zeah around the neck, while his little sister Terra, a thin and rather pale three and a half year-old in a yellow dress, was satisfied with wrestling her grandfather’s knee into submission. When Zeah did manage to turn his head, he saw his grandchildren’s cousin Iolana standing demurely by the door. He held out an arm and she raced forward, giving him a big hug. Though her dress matched that of her young cousin, the tall and thin eight year old stood out, with her long, golden hair.

He expected to see his daughter with the children, but instead Chunny ushered Governor Iolanthe Staff into the room. She looked as striking as ever in a grey pin-striped dress, a very masculine-looking tie, and black boater. She smiled at the Korlanns. She seemed to be smiling a great deal lately, but to Zeah’s mind, it just never looked quite right on her. It was like painting a rainbow on the prow of a battleship.

“Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Korlann,” she said, reminding them that it was the first time she had seen them since the wedding.

“Good morning Iolanthe,” said Egeria, getting up and giving Mrs. Staff a hug.

This allowed Zeah to simply say “Good morning,” and not have to say “Good morning Iolanthe” which he found excruciatingly painful to do.

Zeah stood up, Augie still wrapped around his neck, Iolana wrapped around his waist, and Terra wrapped around his knee. He reached down and scooped the smallest child up under his left arm and he guided the oldest with his right hand behind her head. He took two steps forward and doubled over, letting the middle child’s feet hit the floor.

“You must let go of Grandpa, children,” he said. “He’s way too old for this.”

“Come with me and I’ll get you a biscuit,” said Egeria.

Only Terra yelled “Yay!” but all three followed her into the kitchen.

“My daughter’s not with you?” he asked.

“Obviously,” replied Iolanthe. “I don’t know where she is actually. Cissy had the children dressed, so I thought I would bring them along to my office. They can play in the garden.”

“I’m sure Egeria wouldn’t mind letting them stay here.”

“It didn’t take you long to start making her decisions for her.”