New Paperbacks – New Paperback Prices

I’ve recently been informed that paperback pricing will change by June 20th, 2023.  I have removed the prices on the book pages of this site.  If you follow the links, you will see the latest pricing on the retailers’ websites.  As soon as things settle, I will put the new prices here on this site.

On a related note, I am in the process of revision/edit/review of all my current books.  The first was HIs Robot Girlfriend and is complete.  In addition to making the best ebook edition possible, I will make sure that there is a paperback edition for each book.  Those books that are free will not have paperback editions.  People aren’t purchasing a paperback when they can get a free download, so it makes sense to put the effort elsewhere.

As each book is update and out in paperback, it will be announce here.  Thanks, and thanks for your support.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsChapter Fifteen: Wherein we take the road less traveled.

The following morning found both Jholeira and me awake and refreshed.  So we made an early start.  It was not as early as Ellwood Cyrene who had left at the crack of dawn.  However when I went down to the common room that morning, not only did I find that my friend had paid for breakfast for my elf girl and myself, but he had left a package for me as well.  Wrapped in a large oiled cloth were several pounds of dried beef, a wheel of yellow cheese, two or three pounds of raisins and a small cloth sack with a half dozen coins in it.

Ellwood Cyrene never seemed to be in need of money, despite the fact that he seldom took payment for his many acts of manly heroism.  I have seen a bucket of gold coins gathered together by a town to pay the hero that saved them from the threat of a raging monster, only to have it politely refused by a smiling Ellwood Cyrene.  I have seen him pass out coppers to every orphan in a six block radius of the inn in which he was staying.  To be fair I have seen him plunder more than one baggage train, and on numerous occasions he has rifled through the pockets of a man he has just stabbed– but who hasn’t done that, when you get right down to it.

I was not able to procure any oats for my poor steed, which is to say Hysteria, but I did get a small bundle of dried hay to supplement the small amount of forage we were likely to find in that country in winter.

We set off on the East Road, but following the advice I had been given, we soon turned off to the north, following a cattle path that wandered over the hills and down into the valley.  Our new path veered off from our previous course, but not enough that I thought we would lose our way.  In fact at tea time, we stopped among a small copse of trees at the top of a hill.  From this point we were able to look down to the south across a vast valley.  True to Ellwood’s warning, a great battle was being fought.  It was impossible to tell who the two sides were, as their banners at this distance were too difficult to read.  All that was certain was that both sides were humans.  I took some small pains to make sure that we weren’t spotted, but considering the distance and the chaos on the battlefield, I judged that there was little chance of it.

After journeying the remainder of the day, we made camp just off the path in a little hollow which had been formed by three massive boulders piled one atop of the other two.  I can only imagine that some giant piled them up thus as there was no nearby mountain down which they might have slid to come to rest in such a fortuitous configuration, which is to say a pretty good shape.

“We should reach the edge of Elven Wood tomorrow,” I told my companion.

“Really?  I don’t seem to recognize any landmarks.”

“Maybe when we get closer,” I offered.  “How long since you’ve been home?”

“Six or seven years I would suppose.”

“That must be tough, being without your family for so long.”

“Yes.”  She sighed.  “And what about you?  You’ve been without your family for quite a while now too.”


“How long has it been?”

“How long has what been?”

“How long has it been since your family disappeared?”

“Oh.  That.  I really can’t say.”
“You know, I’ve been thinking.”  Jholeira stood up and began to pace back and forth beside the campfire.  “The purple drops on the floor, as I’ve already said, could be from the blueberry pie you were expecting.”

“Fiends!” said I.

“As far as Gervil’s knife being stuck in his bed is concerned, that could be an indicator of foul play or of nothing at all.”

“I see.”

“The floorboards being pried up however tells us something.  Whoever the culprit or culprits were, they were looking for something hidden under the floor.  Money maybe?  Family jewels?”

“The unpublished manuscripts of the world famous Eaglethorpe Buxton,” I offered.

“I suppose that is conceivable,” said she.  “What I don’t understand is the onions in the rafters.  The only thing I can think of is that they were trying to ward off vampires.”

“Monsters!” said I.  “But wait.  Isn’t that supposed to be garlic?”

“Maybe they couldn’t find any.  Or maybe they didn’t know the difference.  Garlic looks a lot like an onion.”

“Oh, my family would know the difference,” said I.  “My poor old father was a fine onion farmer.  In fact one variety, the Winter Margram onion was named for him.  My cousin Gervil wrote an epic poem about onions, though I was never able to memorize more than the first five hundred twelve lines.”

“Is that all?” she wondered.

“Tuki was Onion Queen three years running.”

“So it is possible that your family would have had onions around?  Say, hanging from the rafters?”

“Only at harvest time.”

“Was it harvest time?”
“Was what harvest time?”
“Was it harvest time when your family disappeared?”

“It could have been.”

“So there really are no clues at all,” postulated the half-orphan.

“What about the tracks?” I asked.  “What about the tracks that ended mysteriously after only fifty feet?”

“You said it was a stormy night.  The rain probably washed the tracks away.”

“You’re right,” said I.  “The next time it will be morning.”

“What do you mean next time?”

“Um, nothing.”

“You mean the next time your family gets kidnapped or the next time you tell this?”


“Your family never was stolen at all!”  She stood up with back straight and finger pointed accusingly.  She looked quite intimidating.  “You lied!”

“It’s wasn’t a lie,” I explained.  “It was a story.  Well, it was a first draft.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Fourteen: Wherein I divulge my plan to reunite the lovers.

I led the beautiful Megara Fennec, which is to say Megara Capillarie from the home of some unknown person, who was no doubt a chubby little red-head with a checkered apron and a brown bonnet, and out into the town square of Potter Town, where the shadows were growing long, which is to say it was getting late. My valiant steed Hysteria still waited patiently at the well. As we walked, I explained my plan.

“The plan is thus,” said I. “I will fetch from the apothecary a dram of a potion that is known as living death. You will go home and make peace with your parents and then take this potion. It will make you fall into a coma, a semblance of death itself. From you there will be no evidence that you still live: no breath, no heartbeat, and no body warmth. Your family will think that you are dead and place your body in the family crypt. In the meantime, I will send a message to your beloved in Oordport, telling him the entire plan and he will rush to your side, to reach you just as you return to life, having experienced nothing more than a pleasant sleep.”

We reached Hysteria’s side and I turned to smile at my lovely companion, but she was frowning.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Your plan seems fraught with unnecessary problems,” she replied.

“How so?”

“If the apothecaries of the area are wont to sell drams of ‘living death’, won’t someone suggest that perhaps I have been given ‘living death’ when I appear to die of unknown causes.”

“Living death is pretty secret,” said I.

“How secret?”

“Really secret.”

“But not so secret that just anyone can purchase it from an apothecary?”

“No, not so secret as that.”

“What if, when I die, they decide to burn my body instead of placing it in the family crypt?”

“Why would they do that?”

“To save space.”

“You are a member of the family, are you not?”

“Yes, but I’m just a girl, and I’m young. I haven’t had a chance to do anything grand or impressive that would warrant entombing me in a place of honor. Our family has had that crypt for at least a dozen generations and there have been a lot of us. It’s getting pretty full.”

“But you are Lord Capillaries’ only daughter.”

“I am the only child of his current wife, true. But my mother is his fourth wife and I am his sixteenth daughter.”

“I see.”

“Now that I think about it,” she continued. “I don’t think that I would want to wake up in that crypt anyway. It’s got to be pretty rank in there, and there is always the possibility of zombie attacks.”

“Yes, I forgot about zombies.”

“The only people who can afford to forget about zombies are those people with no brains.”

“That is true,” I agreed. “I suppose we could plan to have your body sequestered somewhere else.”

“And here’s another thing,” she said. “What if your message doesn’t get to my beloved in time? Suppose he hears about me dying before he finds out about your plan. He might do something rash—like hurt himself.”

“He wouldn’t do that would he?”

“He might. He’s very passionate.”

“He’s passionate enough to kill himself?”

“Oh yes. He thinks about it all the time.”

“So what do you propose?” I asked.

“Why don’t we climb on your horse and you just give me a ride to Oordport, where I can meet beautiful, sweet Henri and live together with him there.”

“Well, it is not nearly so poetical a plan as mine,” said I. “But I will do it.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Thirteen: Wherein I hear the story of two star-crossed lovers.


I stood looking at the young woman, whom might well be the most beautiful creature that I had ever seen. She struck a pose and tossed her thick locks of dark brown hair back over her shoulder.

“You are so beautiful,” I said. “Why would you want to go into such a disreputable business as acting? You could do anything you wanted.”

“It’s not what I want; It’s all that I have left,” she replied. “You see, my family the Capillaries…”

“I thought you said your name was Fennec.”

“That’s my stage name,” she explained. “My real name is Megara Capillarie. And my family and other family, the Montenegroes, have been involved in a feud for dozens of generations.”

“Is it the kind of feud in which you fight the other family, or the kind in which you challenge them to some type of word game?”

“It is the kind in which you fight and kill the other family.”

“Hmm,” said I. “Those types of feuds can be bad, especially if you are the one being fought and killed.”

“But there’s more. I met a lovely young man and fell in love with him, only to find out later that he was none other than Henri Montenegro, the son of my family’s great enemy. We met and exchanged fair words and fair kisses. But then yesterday there was a fight in the street and Henri, beautiful, sweet Henri killed my cousin.”

“So you don’t love him anymore? You hate him now.”

“Of course I don’t hate him! I love him! But we can never be together. He has been banished to Oordport, and I shall never see him again.”

“It so happens that I already have all the actresses that I need to portray the characters in my play,” said I.

“You are one short,” Megara said, tossing her hair back. “Two days ago, the Sorceress Myolaena Maetar arrived at the theater just after the performance and turned your lead actress Angelletta Seedling into a tree.”

“Oh bother,” said I. “I suppose though, that with a name like Seedling you have to expect that sort of thing. I guess I will have to find someone who can change her back.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. You see the locals are in constant need of firewood, and well…”

“They didn’t.”

“I’m afraid so,” she said.

“I find myself in need of an actress then,” said I. “But I could not claim the names of Buxton and of Eaglethorpe, which is to say Eaglethorpe Buxton if I were to take advantage of your unfortunate predicament, which is to say your situation, for my own gain. Before you settle for the life of the stage we must see if we cannot reunite you with your lost love.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Of course,” I replied. “I am Eaglethorpe Buxton, friend to the friendless, protector to the defenseless, finder of lost children and reuniter of lost lovers. And I have a plan.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Twelve: Wherein, as you probably guessed, I don’t die of poison.


“Wake up, Master Buxton, wake up.” I felt a gentle slap upon my right cheek and then my left. “Here. Drink this.”

The mouth of a small bottle was pressed between my lips and cool sweet liquid flowed over my tongue and down my throat.

“Is that an antidote?” I asked.

“Antidote to what?”

I looked into the face above me. It was one of the most beautiful faces that I had ever seen. Very large brown eyes, like cow eyes, but in a good way, which is to say large and brown, and with long lashes. A cute little nose. Perfect lips.

“I’ve been poisoned.”


“You are the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen. Kiss me quickly before I die.”

“What poisoned you?”

“Quickly, the kiss.”

“I don’t think I had better kiss you if you’ve been poisoned. I might get some of the poison on my tongue.”

“Don’t use your tongue. Just use your lips.”

“Well, that’s not really much of a kiss, is it?” quoth she.

“I like the way you think,” I said, sitting up. “If you didn’t know I was poisoned, what was that liquid you just gave me?”

“That was water from the well outside. It’s supposed to be naturally healthful.”

“I feel much better, but ‘naturally healthful, does not quite equal ‘antidote to poison’.”

“I ask again. With what were you poisoned?”

“That pie over there.”

The young woman got up from my side and walked across the room to where the remainder of the pie still sat. From my vantage point, I could see that, as beautiful as her face was, it was nothing compared to her body, especially that part of her body which she presented as she walked away across the room. In a word she was fetching, which is to say very attractive.

“Is this a disconsolateberry pie?” she asked.

“Yes. It was one of the finest buttocks I’ve ever had.”


“I said it was one of the finest pies I’ve ever had.”

“Well you can’t poison somebody with disconsolateberries,” she said, walking back over to me and kneeling down. “They are a natural counteragent.”

“That’s very breast for me,” I said, getting up.


“I said that’s very lucky for me.”

“They are full of natural antioxidants too,” said she.

“Is that good?”

She nodded. “Would you like that kiss now?”

Then it was my turn to nod, as I was suddenly but momentarily mute. She put her hand on my cheek and gave me one of the best kisses that I have had in my entire life. The only better ones that I can think of off the top of my head, which is to say within easy reach of my memory, are the kiss that I received from the Queen of Aerithraine, in whose company I once had the pleasure of spending a fortnight, and my cousin Tuki, who was the first girl I ever kissed and was also a first-rate kickball player.

“What are you thinking about?” the beautiful young woman asked.


“Well, stop it. I want you to think about me.”

“I don’t even know your name, or how you found me, or how you know me, or what you want, or how you were able to squeeze into that dress, or how much pie is left.”

“My name is Megara Fennec, and I’ve been looking for you for more than a week. I want to be an actress in your play.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Eleven: Wherein we discuss evil, the secret to good pie crust, and a writer of little importance.


As the sorceress said, disconsolateberries grow all over the southern coast of Lyrria. As you may know, disconsolate is a word meaning sad. It is a medium powerful word for sad, which is to say that it is more sad than crestfallen, but not so sad as woebegone. A disconsolate person is somewhat worse off than a person who is merely downcast, but not in nearly so bad a shape as a person who is inconsolable. You might suppose that the name of the berry comes from the feeling that one may feel after eating a few disconsolateberries, but you would be mightily mistaken. If anything, disconsolateberries lighten the mood of anyone who eats a few handfuls of them. It is my understanding that their name comes from a young man who lost his love. Wandering the hills along the coast, he was determined to die of starvation, but was unable to because he tasted one of the berries and thereafter kept eating them, despite his sadness and desire to die.

“You just made that up,” said the sorceress.

“Made what up?”

“That bit about the young man who lost his love.”

“Were you reading my thoughts?”

“No, you said that aloud.”

“I did?”

“I heard that the disconsolateberry got its name because being so tasty that one cannot stop eating them when out picking them, one can never gather enough to make a whole pie, leaving the maiden who is trying to do so, disconsolate.”

“I like my story better,” said I. “Although your story does have the benefit of having a pie in it.”

“I see you’ve finished your piece,” said Myolaena. “Would you like more poison pie?”

“Yes please.”

“I was being sarcastic.”

“So I can’t have any more?”

“Why would you keep eating the pie, once I told you it was poisoned?”

“For one thing, being evil, you are probably lying about the poison…”

“I’m not evil.”

“Evil people never think they are.”

“What about Shakespeare’s Richard III? He is determined to play the villain.”

“I’ve never heard of him.”

“Who? Richard III or Shakespeare?”

“Neither one of them.”

“One was a king in a faraway country. The other is the greatest writer of all time.”

“Which is which?” I wondered. “Never mind. I don’t care about a king in a faraway country, and clearly I am the greatest writer of all time.”

“That is a matter for some debate,” said she.

“Anyway, for another thing, once I’ve been poisoned and I’m going to die anyway, it seems a shame to deprive myself of one last piece of delicious pie.”

“You really think it’s delicious?”

“Yes. Did you use magic to create it or did you kill some poor cook and take her pie?”

“Neither. I made it myself.”

“You did? Really? How about the crust?”

“Of course I made the crust. You can’t have good pie without good crust. It’s one of the simplest recipes and yet it is so important.”

“That is so true,” I agreed.

“The trick is that the butter must be chilled.”


“Absolutely. And you must work it in enough to incorporate it, but not so much as to warm it up all the way.”

“It is so nice that you took the time to make it right,” said I. “So many people just go through the motions now-a-days.”

“That is true.”

“So tell me the truth. You didn’t really go to all that trouble of making such a fine pie, just to poison it.”

“No,” she said. “I went to all that trouble of making such a fine pie to poison you.”

Suddenly the room began to spin. I slid from my seat and flopped back, smacking my head on the dirt floor and stared up at the wooden ceiling. Myolaena moved around the table to peer down into my face.

“Goodbye moron,” she said.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Ten: Wherein I taste a disconsolateberry pie and other things happen too, but the pie is the part that I remember best.


I waved goodbye to my friend, but did not dally, for though a man may well wait for a pie, it is a verifiable truth that a pie seldom waits for a man. So, leaving Hysteria where she was, I hopped over to the where the chubby little red-head with a checkered apron and a brown bonnet held her pie.

“Good day, lovely piesmith,” said I, bowing at the waist.

“Good day, Sir.”

“Might I inquire whether that pie is bound for an inn or perhaps the market?”

“Indeed it is neither, Sir.”

“Then might I purchase it?” I asked.

“Might I ask first your name, Sir? You seem to be a man of heroic bearing and noble manner.”

“You are very perceptive, my pretty piesmith, for indeed I am Eaglethorpe Buxton, famous storyteller and adventurer. Really of late I have been more of an adventurer than a story-teller, for though my tales of the great heroes and their adventures have been repeated far and wide across the land, I find myself having even more wondrous adventures than any of the characters in my stories. Still, the appellation, which is to say the name of Buxton and of Eaglethorpe, is best known for stories so I still introduce myself as first a storyteller and then an adventurer.”

“It is so very nice to…”

“Now that I think about it, I should introduce myself as Eaglethorpe Buxton, playwright, adventurer, and storyteller, as my play ‘The Ideal Magic’ is such a success that I am sure I will be doing much more of that.”

“I’m very pleased to…”

“On the other hand, it might seem strange to say playwright, adventurer, and storyteller, seeing as how storytelling and play writing are so closely related. Perhaps one ought not to separate them from one another by placing them on either side of adventuring. And it is worth noting that I have been doing quite a bit of adventuring since writing the play.”

“Do you want pie or not?” she asked, one hand on her hip and the other holding up the delectable object in question.

“Oh yes. Pie please.”

“Come inside,” she said, leading me into a simple but clean little cottage, where I sat down at the only chair at the old but serviceable table.

She very fetchingly began to cut a generous piece of the pie. Though it smelled wonderful, I couldn’t quite place the combination of spices.

“What kind of pie is it?” I wondered.

“Disconsolateberry pie,” said she.

Disconsolateberries seem to be common in this area. I just tasted some disconsolateberry syrup and the other night I had my first bowl of disconsolateberry wine. Though I have yet to taste disconsolateberry chutney, I hear it is very good indeed.”

“They are indeed common all over southern Lyrria,” she said, setting the slice in front of me. “I had considered making it toad pie.”

I took a large bite. “What?” I asked with my mouth full.

“I baked that pie especially for you, Eagletwirp Buckethead.” Though she still had the appearance of the chubby little red-head with a checkered apron and a brown bonnet, now her eyes were flashing green.

“You are the sorceress,” I said, taking another bite.

She picked up a wooden spoon and waving it before her, she changed into her normal slender, blond, attractive self. The wooden spoon took on the appearance of her flashing wand. I was surprised, though not so surprised as to stop eating.

“Are you familiar with alliteration, Eagletwit Bumpkin?” she asked.

“It’s Eagletwirp… I mean Eaglethorpe… Of course I’m familiar with alliteration. I’m a talented writer.”

“How’s this then? Poisoned pie punishes poetic pinhead.”

“I don’t follow,” I said, taking another bite.

“When I said that I made that pie especially for you,” said she, “I meant to imply that I had poisoned the pie. And then when I added the bit about alliteration, you see, I actually told you that I poisoned the pie.”

“Did you in fact poison it?” I asked, taking another bite.


“What a waste of a perfectly fine pie.”

“And you’re still eating it!”

“I can’t help it. It’s yummy.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter Nine: Wherein we stop at the well at Potter Town.


Taking into account that a group of sword-wielding would-be assassins, fifteen strong, had found and the gone after Ellwood Cyrene, attempting to kill him, notwithstanding my valiant efforts on his behalf, we decided that it was probably a good idea if we found some other location for ourselves. To wit, which is to say therefore, we left. Ellwood had brought my horse Hysteria and had her stabled nearby along with his own, so we quickly packed and set off for Potter Town, which was an area of simple houses and low class eating establishments just outside the northern city gate. Ellwood offered that it was a good idea to get out of Antriador entirely, but I was loath to leave as I was still expecting to make a sizable fortune from my play. Ten percent of gross receipts are nothing to sneeze at. We stopped at the local well to discuss the matter.

A word about the well in Potter Town. This particular well was a relic of some earlier civilization who had inhabited the promontory where now sits Antriador. It was made of stone, which is to say the well was made of stone and not the previous civilization, though a good many of the monuments from that civilization are indeed made of stone. This well had carved all around the outside, fanciful images of people now long forgotten. Its center was formed of a round silo some eight or nine feet tall, and above this was constructed a wind-mill to take advantage of the plentiful breezes that made their way up the slope from the sea. The windmill turned a long shaft with a screw which pumped up the water from some unseen underground aquifer. The water poured out of about twenty spouts cut into the stone silo and flowed into a pool thirty feet around. This three foot deep pool was enclosed by close-cut stone walls, which too were carved into the images of people, and it was this pool which the local people dipped their buckets into for their daily water. This alone would have made it an interesting landmark, but there was more. Shooting off from the pool in three directions, like three spokes of a wheel, were stone horse troughs. Water flowed into these troughs when there was an excess in the pool and they were six inches lower than the pool itself, so there was no backflow. From each of these horse troughs, a series of gutters spread out like the branches of a tree, carrying the small amount of overflow away. What need of the builders of this system was fulfilled by these gutters, one may only guess, but the locals today use them to bring water to their gardens.

As Hysteria and Ellwood’s horse drank from the troughs, he and I talked over our options.

“I know you don’t want to leave for any length of time,” said Ellwood, “but you should at least leave for a few days.”

“I don’t see how leaving for a few days will help pie.”


“Pie. I smell pie.”

“Oh no,” said he.

“Oh yes,” I replied.

I scanned the little square until I could see that which I could smell, which is to say a pie. A chubby little red-head with a checkered apron and a brown bonnet stood in an open doorway holding a pie.





“As I have no desire to interfere with the love of your life…”

“I’ve never even seen her before,” said I.

“I meant the pie,” Ellwood continued. “As I have no desire to interfere, I’ll be leaving you now.”

“Where are you going?”

“I have business in Auksavl, but I’ll be back to Antriador in five days.”

“That will be the twelfth night.”

“Twelfth night of what?”

“It will be the twelfth night of this business with the sorceress.”

“Is that significant?”

“Not really.”

“You are so odd, Eaglethorpe.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 8

I put away my knife and then climbed back into the saddle. The orphan had regained his feet and I reached down, took his hand, and lifted him back into his spot behind me. He reached around my waist and held on tight.

“Thank you,” he said.

“All is well,” said I. “A few goblins are no match for a trained warrior.”

“Then how did they manage to prevent Prince Jared from becoming the King of Aerithraine? Did they catch him asleep and murder him?”

“One might have supposed that, under ordinary circumstances.” I continued my story. “These times were not ordinary. Goblins are not only small and stupid and smelly; they are disorganized. But every once and so often, there comes along a goblin who is big enough and just smart enough to unite the goblin tribes and lead them on the warpath against the civilized lands of humans.”

“I had always heard that none of the human lands were truly civilized,” said he.

“What an odd and unorphanish thing to say.”

“Um… oh. I’m just discombobulated from the incident with the goblins.”

“Even so,” I agreed. “Well, at the time my story takes place, there was one such goblin king, who came to power by killing and eating his many rivals. And as happens when the goblins become unified in such a way, they experienced a population explosion. The mountains of the Goblineld were teaming with the little blighters. When the mountains could no longer contain them, they swept out across the southern third of the Kingdom of Aerithraine, destroying everything in their path.”

“Frightening,” said the orphan.

“Quite frightening.”


“Still what?”

“Humans are so large and goblins are so small. You vanquished three pairs of goblins, and did it quite handily too.”

“Thank you.”

“And you don’t seem particularly skilled or particularly bright.”


“I just wonder that an entire human kingdom could not put together an army to destroy even a large horde of goblins,” said the orphan. “I would imagine that even a well-trained militia could do the job. I once heard the story of the Calille Lowain who held off five thousand goblins at Greer Drift.”

“I don’t know that story,” said I.

“Perhaps I will tell it to you sometime,” said he. “But what about it? Couldn’t the humans defeat the goblins?”

“There were tens of thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands. Thousands of thousands. But you are right. In other times, such hordes were sent packing, back to their mines and tunnels in the Goblineld. This time though, the goblins had a hidden ally. Far to the east, the Witch King of Thulla-Zor, who is always looking for ways to cause destruction and chaos, saw this as an opportunity. He supplied the goblin king with magic and weapons, and sent trolls and ogres to strengthen his ranks. None of these facts were known to King Justin when he rode forth with the Dragon Knights to meet them.

“King Justin, his three younger sons, and all of the Dragon Knights were slaughtered—to a man. Prince Jared, who had been in the north fighting sea raiders, hurried his forces south, only to meet a similar fate. The goblins were waiting for him. The entire southern third of the kingdom fell— and remained in the goblins’ filthy little hands for almost twenty years. And the Goblin King feasted on the spoils of war, sitting on his throne far below the surface of the mountains, drinking his disgusting goblin wine from a cup made from the skull of King Justin.”

“How horrible,” murmured the orphan.

“Yes indeed,” I continued. “And I think the worse part of the story is what happened to Queen Beatrix.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died. She died of a broken heart. And her unborn child almost died with her.

“Unborn child? It didn’t die?”

“No, the court physician cut the child from the Queen’s belly. It was a tiny baby girl.”

“Queen Elleena!” snapped the orphan.

“She should have been,” said I.

“What do you mean?”

“She should have been Queen the moment she was birthed, but that wasn’t to be. There were too many competing interests at court. Too many nobles wanted the throne for themselves. And in the chaos that followed the fall of the south lands, they might have done it, had it not been for the church. Little Princess Elleena Postuma was whisked off to the temple in Fall City, where she stayed for the next fourteen years, and Pope Bartholomew became the regent of the kingdom.”

“Did they keep Elleena prisoner in the temple?” wondered the orphan.

“Of course they didn’t,” said I. “Though I will wager she sometimes felt that she was in a prison. She could go anywhere she wanted to as long as she stayed in Fall City and under constant protective guard. In the meantime she was given all the training and education that was necessary for one who would one day rule.”

“It is like prison,” said the orphan.

“Neither you nor I will ever really know the truth of that.”

At that moment, I spied a light in the distance. The story, or at least this chapter of the story over, conversation ceased. I urged Hysteria forward, which is to say I encouraged her onward toward the distant light, which turned out to be a small cabin on the side of the road. Yellow light spilled from its tiny windows onto the snow.

Not having had the best of luck so far that night with regard to welcomes, which is to say that I had been attacked three times already that night, two times of which I have already described for you here, I dismounted and crept around to the side of the cabin to the window and peered inside. Lying on the floor in a pool of blood was a man in common work clothes. The single room of the little cabin had been ransacked. And dancing around, or sitting and singing, or drinking were more of the little, round-headed blighters, which is to say goblins.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 5

“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 anymore 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 storyteller in the world. You are messing everything up and making me confused.”

“Forsooth! I am the best storyteller 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?”


“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 in through 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.