The Sorceress and her Lovers – Just $2.99 for Kindle

The Sorceress and her LoversIt’s been three years since the Kingdom of Greater Brechalon, with the help of Zurfina the Magnificent, defeated their hereditary enemies, the Freedonians. The world has changed. Port Dechantagne, once a distant outpost of civilization, has grown to be a large city, the center of prosperous Birmisia Colony. Steam-powered carriages share the streets with triceratops-pulled trolleys, fine ladies in their most fashionable bustle dresses lead their lizardmen servants through the shopping districts, and an endless stream of immigrants pours into the region.

The young ladies of the colony are busy with fashion, coming out parties, and securing partners among the smaller male population. Eleven-year-old Iolana Staff, daughter of the colonial governor, has more important things on her mind—the mysterious machine known as the Result Mechanism, and her relationship to the machine’s creator.

Meanwhile, sorceress Senta Bly returns from the continent with a new male companion, an illegitimate daughter, and a long lost brother. Hated and feared for her magic, she must face wizards, assassins, and an old enemy from another reality.

The Sorceress and her Lovers continues the story of Senta and the Steel Dragon, taking up where The Two Dragons left off. It is a story of magic and power, fear and revenge, and love.

Purchase your copy of The Sorceress and her Lovers by following this link.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress – Chapter 14 Excerpt

“The plan in 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. You 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 if 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.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess Chapter 12


Chapter Twelve: Wherein I hear the story of a Princess of the Elves.

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.”

“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 Lyria. I only escaped them when they were attacked by bandits. The bandits took me captive and carried me away to their camp in the mountains. I was taken from the bandit camp when it was attacked by trolls. 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 Lyria? By the Ogre Mountains? Far away from the ocean?”

“They were on holiday.”

“Pirates on holiday?”

“Yes.”

“Alright. 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.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 9


Chapter Nine: Wherein I demonstrate the value of a classical education.

“Do you think they are the same goblins that we saw earlier?” asked the orphan, at my shoulder, peering into the window.

I could only shrug, for in truth one goblin looks much the same as another to me. Though I had relatively close contact with three of the creatures earlier that evening, which is to say having kicked two and poked one in the head with my knife, I can’t say that I had become familiar enough with any of the three to distinguish them from any other of their race. That being said, I was relatively sure that the one I had poked in the head with my knife was not among those now in the little cabin. These goblins were singing or drinking or dancing or doing some combination of the afore-mentioned, all of which are extremely difficult if not impossible to do when one is dead.

“What are you going to do?” wondered the orphan.

“Why do you suppose I should do anything?” I wondered.

“Shouldn’t you avenge the poor man lying on the floor? After all, he is a human being killed by foul goblins, and you are a… I mean we are human beings too.”

“Aye, it is true that we are human beings.”

“And he was killed by goblins.”

“I do hate goblins.”

Hysteria knickered. She hated goblins too, probably because they stand so low to the ground and as I have pointed out before, she dislikes anything too near her feet.

“And I am frozen,” the orphan continued. “I would love to spend the night inside of doors and near a warm fire.”

“Now you make a compelling argument,” said I.

“So what are you going to do?”

“Have you ever heard of Brementown?”

“Uh…no. Why?”

“There is a story told there of a group of musician animals.”

The orphan rolled his eyes. I explained my plan, devised on a variation of the Brementown story. Turning Hysteria so that her rear end was pointed toward the wall of the cabin, I left her with the orphan while I went back to the front and took a position by the door. Pulling out my knife, I placed my fingers in my mouth and whistled, which was the prearranged signal for both my noble steed and the orphan.

At the signal, Hysteria began kicking the wall of the cabin with both hind feet and the orphan commenced to making all manner of strange noises. I was so surprised by the cacophony of sounds, which is to say noises that came out of the youngster’s mouth that I almost forgot my own part of the plan. I am aware that boys are well-versed in the creation of creative noises as well as all kinds of mimicry, having been a boy myself once. But this orphan was a true artist. He belted out the yowls of a wildcat, the braying of a donkey, the barking of a dog, the screech of harpy, and the gurgling growl of a frog-bear. Not to be outdone, Hysteria let loose with the squeal of an angry equine, which is to say a horse.

It was scant seconds before the door burst open and the goblins began pouring out into the snow, their shrieks clearly indicating that they were frightened out of their tiny little minds. The first two who came out were quickly dispatched with my knife. After that I decided that it was too strenuous to keep bending down to kill them, as they are so low to the ground and I had been riding all night long, which under the best of conditions can give one a sore back. Thereafter, I reverted to my now well-practiced maneuver of using their heads as makeshift kick balls, which is to say I kicked them on their kick ball-shaped heads.

In the space of twenty seconds, I managed to get rid of all the goblins, which turned out to be seven. I can’t swear that all of the goblins were dead, as five had been sent in long arcs through the air into the darkness of the woods. They were gone though. Scant moments later, the orphan, Hysteria, and I were inside the cabin. I put Hysteria in the corner furthest from the fireplace and directed the boy to stoke the fire, while I pulled the body of the unfortunate former owner out into the snow next to two of his apparent murderers. Thereafter, I went back inside and bolted the door.

“That was a wonderful plan,” said the orphan.

“Indeed it was.”

“I’m surprised you thought of it.”

“Just one of the benefits of a classical education,” said I. “If I did not know the story of the Musicians of Brementown, I would not have known what to do. And as I recall, you looked noticeably unimpressed when I mentioned my knowledge of this particular bit of culture.”

“I do admit I thought it a waist of time, um… at the time,” admitted he. “I offer you my apologies.”

“I suppose I will have to accept them,” said I. “What with you being a poor, ignorant orphan.”

“Your magnanimity is wonderful to behold,” said he. “In any case, I think I would like to hear the story of the Musicians of Brementown.”

“Oh no!” cried I. “You still owe me a shiny penny for the story of Queen Elleena of Aerithraine.”

“But you didn’t finish it.”

“Of course I did.”

“No. You didn’t. When you stopped, she wasn’t even Queen yet. She was stuck in the temple in Fall City.”

“When she turned fourteen, she returned to the capital in Illustria and was crowned Queen by the Pope, after which she took control and banishing him back to Fall City.”

“How did she do that?”

“No one knows.”

“Gah!” he cried. “You are the worst story-teller ever!”

“What would a poor, ignorant orphan know about it?”

“I know you’re not getting my penny!”

“Go to sleep,” I ordered him. “You sleep on the rug by the fire. I will take the bed, after I give Hysteria a good rub-down.”

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 8


Chapter Eight: Wherein I return to my story of the Queen of Aerithraine.

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…”

“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.”

“What?”

“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 I 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.

Note: I just approved the store copies of Princess of Amathar and Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess, so they should be available at Amazon in a week or so. You of course can purchase them now by clicking on the links to the right.

Blog Site Tweeking

I’ve been making some subtle changes to the blog. Hopefully they are so subtle that you haven’t even noticed them. Things seem to be pretty well squared away with “His Robot Girlfriend”. If you haven’t downloaded your free ebook copy yet, do so today. As you can see there is now a link for a similar download for “Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess”.