Princess of Amathar – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The room was large, though obviously not as large as the huge chamber we had visited before. The far wall was about one hundred fifty feet away, and the room was equally as wide. We had entered through a doorway in the middle of the wall, and there were no other entryways or exits visible. The room was well lit, though I could not determine the source of the light. Indeed, it seemed that the light came from everywhere, as though light were a thing that could flow around solid objects like the air. The walls, floor, and ceiling were smooth and dull grey, as were the fixtures in the room’s center—four large geometric shapes.

As the three of us slowly walked into the room, we were drawn toward the four geometric shapes in the center of the floor. They were each about the same size, perhaps twelve feet across. Closest to us was a sphere. The others were a cube, a pyramid, and a dodecahedron.

“What are these for, do you suppose?” I wondered aloud.

“Perhaps they are not for anything,” growled Malagor.

“Why are you so grumpy?” I asked. “Still hungry?”

He growled again in confirmation.

“This is unlike anything I have ever seen relating to the Orlons,” said Norar Remontar. “The lighting has an interesting quality.”

He reached up and laid a hand upon the surface of the sphere, and a large portion of the wall to our left suddenly became a huge picture screen. A forty-foot image of a great plain appeared, with tall grass billowing in the wind like waves on the surface of the ocean. Here and there, grazing herbivores roamed in search of a particularly interesting bit of flora. To the far right of the image, two stummada sat looking around lazily. At their feet were the remains of a large animal.

“Wow,” I said.

“This is most definitely not an Orlon site,” reiterated the Amatharian. “Their technology never reached anywhere near this level.”

“I wonder what else these shapes do.” I stepped around him to the cube.

I placed my hand on the surface, which felt warm to the touch, and marveled as another giant image appeared opposite the first. This image was of a beautiful green field, obviously cultivated. In the distance, to the right was the edge of a great forest of extremely tall coniferous evergreen trees. At about the same distance but to the left, one could see the edge of a strange and marvelous city. It was made up of ivory colored buildings with reddish roofs— each roof topped by a carved animal figure. In the foreground, as well as around the city, were the inhabitants.

The people living in the strange city, playing around it, and working in the fields looked remarkably like a child’s teddy bear. They were covered with light brown fur, had very large round ears on the top of their heads, and large expressive eyes above their small snouts. They came in a variety of sizes, probably males, females, and children. Some of the small ones seemed to be playing tag just outside the city. Larger ones were working in the field, pulling up green vegetables of some kind. Still others, of several sizes, were busy within the confines of the city, though just what they were doing was impossible to tell at the present magnification on the image. They were probably doing the same things that humans on Earth did in their own cities.

“I do not know that race of people,” said Malagor. “I wonder who they are, and where in Ecos that place is.”

“Or when,” I offered. “For all we know, that may be a stored image of the ancient Orlons, or even their ancestors.”

Norar Remontar and I were both fascinated by the images, and we began moving around the shapes, placing our hands here and there and watching the scenes produced on the three blank walls of the room. Most were of wild places with nothing but plant life and an occasional animal, though the locale of each was noticeably different. There were scenes of deserts, of forests, and of jungles. Finally I placed a hand upon the sphere at a point as yet untouched and a picture of a hillside replaced an earlier scene on the wall opposite the door. Standing on the hillside were two Amatharian men.

“Bentar Hissendar!” shouted Norar Remontar.

“You know him?” I asked the obvious.

“He is a friend and kinsman of mine,” the Amatharian replied. “He works within my uncle’s trading group.”

Advertisements

Senta

Senta and the Steel Dragon

Age of the Title Character in Each Book

Book 0: Brechalon                                                      7

Book 1: The Voyage of the Minotaur                         8-9

Book 2: The Dark and Forbidding Land                      10-11

Book 3: The Drache Girl                                              12

Book 4: The Young Sorceress                                     14-15

Book 5: The Two Dragons                                           17-20

Book 6: The Sorceress and her Lovers                        21

Book 7: The Price of Magic                                         23-24

Book 8: A Plague of Wizards                                       24-29

Book 9: The Dragon’s Choice                                      32

Book 10: For King and Country                                   33-34

Princess of Amathar – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The room was large, though obviously not as large as the huge chamber we had visited before. The far wall was about one hundred fifty feet away, and the room was equally as wide. We had entered through a doorway in the middle of the wall, and there were no other entryways or exits visible. The room was well lit, though I could not determine the source of the light. Indeed, it seemed that the light came from everywhere, as though light were a thing that could flow around solid objects like the air. The walls, floor, and ceiling were smooth and dull grey, as were the fixtures in the room’s center—four large geometric shapes.

As the three of us slowly walked into the room, we were drawn toward the four geometric shapes in the center of the floor. They were each about the same size, perhaps twelve feet across. Closest to us was a sphere. The others were a cube, a pyramid, and a dodecahedron.

“What are these for, do you suppose?” I wondered aloud.

“Perhaps they are not for anything,” growled Malagor.

“Why are you so grumpy?” I asked. “Still hungry?”

He growled again in confirmation.

“This is unlike anything I have ever seen relating to the Orlons,” said Norar Remontar. “The lighting has an interesting quality.”

He reached up and laid a hand upon the surface of the sphere, and a large portion of the wall to our left suddenly became a huge picture screen. A forty-foot image of a great plain appeared, with tall grass billowing in the wind like waves on the surface of the ocean. Here and there, grazing herbivores roamed in search of a particularly interesting bit of flora. To the far right of the image, two stummada sat looking around lazily. At their feet were the remains of a large animal.

“Wow,” I said.

“This is most definitely not an Orlon site,” reiterated the Amatharian. “Their technology never reached anywhere near this level.”

“I wonder what else these shapes do.” I stepped around him to the cube.

I placed my hand on the surface, which felt warm to the touch, and marveled as another giant image appeared opposite the first. This image was of a beautiful green field, obviously cultivated. In the distance, to the right was the edge of a great forest of extremely tall coniferous evergreen trees. At about the same distance but to the left, one could see the edge of a strange and marvelous city. It was made up of ivory colored buildings with reddish roofs— each roof topped by a carved animal figure. In the foreground, as well as around the city, were the inhabitants.

The people living in the strange city, playing around it, and working in the fields looked remarkably like a child’s teddy bear. They were covered with light brown fur, had very large round ears on the top of their heads, and large expressive eyes above their small snouts. They came in a variety of sizes, probably males, females, and children. Some of the small ones seemed to be playing tag just outside the city. Larger ones were working in the field, pulling up green vegetables of some kind. Still others, of several sizes, were busy within the confines of the city, though just what they were doing was impossible to tell at the present magnification on the image. They were probably doing the same things that humans on Earth did in their own cities.

“I do not know that race of people,” said Malagor. “I wonder who they are, and where in Ecos that place is.”

“Or when,” I offered. “For all we know, that may be a stored image of the ancient Orlons, or even their ancestors.”

Norar Remontar and I were both fascinated by the images, and we began moving around the shapes, placing our hands here and there and watching the scenes produced on the three blank walls of the room. Most were of wild places with nothing but plant life and an occasional animal, though the locale of each was noticeably different. There were scenes of deserts, of forests, and of jungles. Finally I placed a hand upon the sphere at a point as yet untouched and a picture of a hillside replaced an earlier scene on the wall opposite the door. Standing on the hillside were two Amatharian men.

“Bentar Hissendar!” shouted Norar Remontar.

“You know him?” I asked the obvious.

“He is a friend and kinsman of mine,” the Amatharian replied. “He works within my uncle’s trading group.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Mystery of Dolphin Island – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The storm continued to rage outside the walls of the little house on Dolphin Island. The five young women had to make due with lighting from a single flashlight and several candles. They only ate food that could be eaten cold, and concentrated on that which was in the refrigerator, since without power the food within would eventually go bad.

“I wish I knew which direction the storm is moving,” said Penelope, as they sat around the table, eating a dinner of cheese sandwiches and cabbage and fennel salad.

“We had a hand crank radio,” said Eleanor, “but I broke the crank off of it.”

“Cranked it too hard?” wondered Penelope.

The blonde nodded.

“I can hook up the laptop directly to the internet,” said Astrid. “We’ve got enough battery power to run it for several hours.”

Unplugging the now unusable router, the girl inventor connected one MPro 5 notebook to the cable. Loading up the browser, she pulled up the satellite image of the storm.

“It’s passing to the north of us,” she told the others. “It’s not moving very fast though. I would guess we’ve got another two days of rough weather.”

“That’s what I figured,” said Adeline. “We’d better turn off the computer and conserve the battery.”

“First though,” said Penelope. “We each need to send a message to our loved ones telling them we’re okay.”

When it was her turn, Astrid sent the following message, making sure to address it to her mother, father, and to Toby. Power is out here, so no phone, but we are safe and sound. Don’t worry. Love to you all. Call you when we get the power back.

“Sending your love to Toby?” asked Penelope, looking over her shoulder.

“No, I’m just… That’s just what people say. You don’t think he…?”

“Stop worrying about it. He knows how you feel about him and he has since he was old enough to stand.”

“Well…” said Astrid, shrugging. “I guess.”

That night, the wind rattling loose boards and shingles on the outside of the house, made sleep difficult for Astrid. When she finally dozed off, it was late, and she was awakened at least three times during the night. It was a surprise therefor to find that she had slept late into the morning. All of the other young women were up and dresses and sitting around the table eating bread and jam.

“Why did you let me sleep so late?” asked Astrid, as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.

“There wasn’t much point in waking you,” said Penelope. “We can’t do anything but sit around staring at one another.”

“I thought now that it’s light outside, I might take a look at the generator,” returned Astrid.

“It’s light out,” said Eleanor, “but it’s still too windy to go outside. You would be blown off your feet. I’m a little surprised that we haven’t lost the roof.”

“The house is sturdy,” said Adeline. “We are also protected somewhat by the trees.”

“I hope the dolphins are okay,” said Astrid.

“They will be fine,” assured Océane. “They will swim out to the deep water. The storm won’t bother them at all.”

There was just enough light coming in through the boarded up windows that they were able to play a French version of Monopoly during mid-day. In the afternoon, the wind seemed to die down a bit, giving Astrid some hope that maybe the storm would soon be over. Then it grew suddenly dark, and minutes later, the island and the little house were deluged by waves of rain. The girls immediately had to scramble to lay out pots and dishes under the sixteen leaks in the ceiling that ranged from a steady drip to a constant stream.

“I feel like we need to look for two of every animal,” said Penelope.

It was so dark by five o’clock that it could have been midnight. Astrid peaked out a crack in the boards covering the window. All she could see were bushes being bent by the wind and pelted by the rain.

“Astrid,” said Océane, at her elbow. “Will you come help me make dinner?”

The girl inventor followed her to the part of the room that made up the kitchen.

“You seem very nervous,” said the French girl.

“Do I? I guess I am. This is the first hurricane that I’ve ever been in. We don’t get a lot of stormy weather in the southwest U.S.”

“Everything will be fine.”

“Oh, I know it will be,” said Astrid. “At least I know that in my head. I guess some other part of me isn’t so sure.”

“You will feel better after you eat. I’m making sandwiches with the last of the bread and hazel nut spread. I want you to chop of this bag of pistachios and whatever fruit we have left to go on them.”

Astrid found a handful of strawberries and two bananas in the no-longer-cold refrigerator, and diced them up fine, along with the pistachios. Océane sprinkled them on the hazel nut spread before placing the two pieces of bread together.

“I have a secret treat,” said Océane. “We’re all going to have hot cocoa.”

“How are we going to do that?” wondered Astrid. “We don’t have any heat.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Mystery of Dolphin Island – Chapter 9 Excerpt

Astrid kicked her legs as hard as she could, shooting through the water over Swen’s Atoll. The grey monster shot up from behind and passed her like a bullet, only to roll over and propel itself directly toward her. At the last moment, it rose just enough to pass above her without touching. Seeing him from the surface, it was difficult to tell just how big Alister was, but seen from here beneath the waves, he was huge—over ten feet long and weighing about a thousand pounds.

“Alister play. Alister play,” the device in Astrid’s hands translated the dolphin’s signals.

From twenty feet to Astrid’s left, came another sound. Alister’s partner called out to him.

“Alister. Alister”

Astrid didn’t know for sure, but she suspected that John was trying to get Alister to pay him some attention, rather than lavishing it on the surface-dweller. Five consecutive days of swimming with him had certainly given Astrid the impression that Alister enjoyed her company. She couldn’t say the same about his companion.

She dove down and flipped over, swimming in the reverse of the direction she had been going. As she approached where the boat was anchored, she saw Penelope and two female dolphins playing with the scarf. Then she saw Adeline, who was signaling to return to the surface. Astrid followed her until both their heads popped above the waves. The girl inventor was surprised to find it darker than it had been when she had submerged.

“We’ve got to go in,” said Adeline. “The clouds have rolled in and the wind is picking up.”

“Okay,” Astrid replied. “Let me get Penelope.”

Pushing the regulator back in her mouth, Astrid dove down to where her aunt was floating, tapping her on the shoulder. When Penelope looked, she signaled to head for the surface. When their heads reached the air, they could see that the ocean was already becoming choppy. They quickly climbed into the boat.

“Were we expecting weather?” asked Penelope.

“It’s Hurricane Diego,” said Eleanor. “It was supposed to be far north of us, but it’s turned our way.”

She pulled up the anchor and then took her place behind the wheel, starting up the engine and steering toward Dolphin Island. The dolphins swam along behind them for a while, riding the wake, but then disappeared.

“That was great fun,” said Astrid. “I can’t believe that Alister is saying whole sentences—well, at least a two word sentence.”

“I think our translation is problematic,” said Adeline. “The dolphins use gestures and other signals, but I think they should be saying more. I think we are only getting a little slice of what they could say to us.”

By the time the boat was cruising into the lagoon, the waves of the open ocean were five feet or more.

They pulled the boat as far onto the sand as they could and tied it to not one, but three trees. Then they hurried inside the little house.

Eleanor turned on the radio and dialed into the weather.

“I’m going to pull up the storm on the Internet,” said Astrid.

“I’m going to puke,” said Penelope.

She staggered to the front door and stepped outside. The others could hear a retching sound. Astrid stepped out to make sure that she was all right and found the sky so dark she could have been forgiven for thinking it was night. The wind was so strong that it pushed her two steps to the left. Steadying herself, she stepped over to where Penelope knelt in the sand and bent down over her.

“Are you okay, Aunt Penelope?”

Her aunt arched her back and heaved again in reply. Astrid pulled her aunt’s black hair back to keep it out of the pool of vomit in the sand.

“I think I’m going to be turned inside out,” gasped Penelope at last.   “I haven’t felt this bad since the after party at the Grammy’s.”

“What were you doing at the Grammy’s?”

“Getting sick. That’s really all you need to know. Well, I think I’m done.”

She began struggling to her feet. Astrid helped pull her up and then threw her shoulder under the elder Maxxim’s. She led the way back inside and into the office, where Penelope crawled into her sleeping bag.

“Here, Penelope, drink this,” said Océane, stepping into the room with a glass of amber liquid.

“What is it?” came the croaked reply.

“It’s ginger ale. It will settle your stomach. We keep it on hand because Eleanor gets seasick too.”

“Is she sick now too?” wondered Astrid.

Océane nodded. “You should drink some too, Astrid.”

“I’m not seasick.”

“Not yet.”

“I need something stronger,” said Penelope. “I think I need to be put in a medically-induced coma.”

“I’m sorry,” said Océane. “I’m afraid we don’t even have motion sickness pills.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge – Chapter 14 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge“All systems nominal,” said Astrid, looking at Ariel’s instruments.

“We have a clean burn,” said copilot Carl Williams.

Ariel, propelled by her custom Maxxim liquid fuel blend, a combination of hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene, nitrous oxide, and several top secret ingredients, pushed the advanced spaceplane higher and higher into the atmosphere.

“Throttling up,” said Astrid.

She looked over her shoulder at her three passengers.

“Everything good back there?”

Laura Bell flashed a smile. Booker Larson’s eyes were glued to his instrument panel, but her threw Astrid a thumbs up. Sergei Bryce simply looked like he was going to throw up. The three of them, all of whom could be found on the list of the twenty richest Americans, had each paid $2 million for the chance to fly into space.

The force of acceleration pressed everyone back into their seats.

“Nosing up to forty degrees,” said Astrid. “Throttling up to seventy percent.”

“Mach six point three,” called Williams. “Altitude is four five miles.”

The gentle rumbling of the rocket engines through the fuselage of the space plane continued.

“Fuel is good,” said Williams. “Pressure is good. All navigation and secondary systems are good.”

“Flight controls are good,” said Astrid. “Plotting a geostationary transfer orbit.” She looked back at her three passengers. “This will take us flying out to 22,230 miles out, and then swing us back down to one hundred miles.”

“That’s fantastic!” Laura Bell’s shout was amplified by the microphone.

“Easy there, Miss,” said Williams. “I’d like to return with both my eardrums intact.”

“Sorry.”

“Who’d like to get out of their seats and float around?” asked Astrid, as she released her restraints.

The others followed suit and soon they were all floating around Ariel’s large cabin, spinning, doing summersaults, and peeling off their flight suits. Astrid had just finished stowing her suit and helmet, when she turned around to see Sergei Bryce throwing up.

“I’ve got it,” called Carl Williams, as he retrieved a vacuum hose from a ceiling compartment and began chasing down the spherical globules of vomit.

Several hours later, back in her seat, Astrid made an announcement.

“Congratulations lady and gentleman, you have just reached the farthest point away from the earth of anyone since the crew of Apollo 17.”

Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition – Chapter 5 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic ExpeditionThe next morning, the girl inventor headed out the door, luggage in hand. She climbed into the car with her parents and then they all drove into the Maxxim Campus to the dedicated airfield. A Maxxim Starcraft 170 waited on the Tarmac. Toby, Austen, Denise, and the two Valeries were all waiting to say goodbye. Christopher, who would be making the trip to Antarctica with Astrid, was there with his parents, as was Denise’s brother Dennis, who would be piloting their flight to Los Angeles.

“Hello Nerd,” said a familiar voice from behind Astrid. The girl inventor turned around to come face to face with her cousin Gloria and Gloria’s parents.

“Be nice to your little cousin, now,” said Aunt Lauren.

“Indeed,” said Uncle Carl. “She’s going to be an important part of the new company.”

“What company is that?” wondered Astrid.

“The new Maxxim.”

“Hello Carl,” said Dr. Maxxim, smiling.

“Roger,” responded Uncle Carl, tersely. “Kate.”

Aunt Lauren turned her head, ignoring her in-laws.

“So, did you guys come to see me off?” Astrid asked her cousin.

“Oh no. I’m going to Cali to spend a week with Aunt Penny,” said Gloria. “It seemed a shame to charter another plane, when you’re already headed that way anyway.”

“Gloria’s very cost conscious,” added Aunt Lauren.

“I’ve always thought that about her,” said Astrid with a straight face.

Once everyone had said their goodbyes, the travelers stepped across the tarmac and up the steps to the plane’s hatch. Astrid had hoped for a moment alone with Toby before she left, but she didn’t get it. She shot a quick look back to see him watching her through the glass wall of the terminal building. They gave each other a quick wave. Dennis Brown and Marty Crockett, one of the Maxxim pilots, took their places in the cockpit, while Astrid and Christopher sat down together near the front. Gloria walked all the way to the back of the cabin and staked a claim to the seat directly in front of the small restroom.

“The view is better up here,” Astrid called back, thinking that Gloria’s window view would be obstructed by the rear canard wing.

“Survivability in case of a crash is greater in the rear of an airplane,” said Gloria. “I would think a nerd like you would know that.”

“The joke’s on her,” Astrid said to Christopher. “If this plane crashes we’re all going to die.”

“That’s it, Astrid,” he replied. “Always look on the bright side.”