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I was writing a new post the other day and I noticed an ad at the bottom of the page.  It was an ad proposing to offer investment advice for people formerly investing in Bitcoin.  I somehow doubt that many people visiting my page have such a vast amount of extraneous wealth that they need this information.  I don’t.

In any case, I just want to state that I have no control over what ads appear on this page, and I don’t endorse any ads appearing here or products in those ads.  I could pay more (to WordPress) for my site and remove ads, and I will as soon as my own ad budget permits.

Until then, just letting you know.

The Price of Magic – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Hundreds of miles to the southeast of Port Dechantagne, the lizzie city of Yessonarah stretched across the sloping side of the great hill the lizzies had named Zsahnoon. Less than three years old, the city already housed more than 100,000 reptilians, and more were arriving every week. At the city’s northern edge, it touched the shore of Lake Tsinnook, created when the River Ssukhas was dammed. On the east, the city was protected by a great stone wall running from the edge of the hill to the lake, but there was only a wooden wall on the west side, and it had several large gaps in it. Amid a sea of square wooden houses were two dozen stone foundations that would someday hold important public buildings, but as yet only two such buildings existed. The first, the great palace of the king was in use, though it was only about two thirds completed. The other was the first great temple to the lizardmen’s god Yessonar.

High Priestess Tokkenoht stood at the top of the stepped pyramid, 130 feet above the city streets. The pyramid’s design was different from temples in any other Birmisian city, as so many things about Yessonarah were different. Each of the nine levels, representing the nine ages of the universe, was covered in smooth white limestone. The staircase running up the pyramid’s front, from the base to the top, was marble trimmed with red brick fired in a kiln, a process learned from the soft-skins. Behind her, the square vault was dark grey marble, with a copper frieze and a doorway trimmed in copper. And on either side of that doorway was a sculpture of the god, carved of stone but covered in silver. The top of the vault was of course flat, to give the god a place to sit when he came to visit.

The temple’s dedication was still three days a way, but everything was coming along. With a quick glance at the acolytes stationed at the vault, Tokkenoht descended the great staircase. A hundred or more lizzies, mostly new arrivals to the city, stopped what they were doing to watch her. She was quite a spectacle. Her smooth green skin was painted azure blue, with zigzag designs of bright yellow down her belly. She wore a cape made of feathers of all colors of the rainbow, from crimson achillobator feathers near her tail, to bright blue utahraptor feathers poking up to form a collar behind her head.

When she reached the street, the crowd parted for her, some of them bowing low. She hissed pleasantly to them and then climbed into her sedan chair, an enclosed seat carried litter-like by the four large males, their bodies painted white, who waited beside it. It was a not a long journey to the palace, but the streets were busy, so by the time they arrived, the sun was already dropping toward the western horizon. When the bearers sat her chair down, Tokkenoht dismissed them for the day and walked quickly up the steps to the residence.

“Welcome home, High Priestess,” said Sirris, waiting at the top. She had no paint or feathers, but wore a large gold necklace, with a Yessonar pendant.

“Thank you, wife of my husband. Were you waiting to speak with me?”

“No. I just stepped out here. I am on my way to check with Ssu and see that all the preparations are complete.”

“I will go with you,” said Tokkenoht. “I want to see the… what was that soft-skin word that Kendra used?”


“Yes. I want to see the children.”

Together, they walked through an ornately carved archway and into the royal gardens. The gardens were not particularly impressive at the moment, as the winter plants were past their prime. It wouldn’t be long till they were pulled out and replaced with spring flowers. But the colorful birds in the aviaries still sang and the fountains still sprayed their jets of water.

Just past the gardens were five plots of carefully prepared soil, and just beyond them, a huge cage. Built like the aviaries, the cage was a half dome made of mesh wire over a wooden frame. Unlike the aviaries though, which were twenty feet in diameter, this great cage was one hundred feet across. Inside was a carefully created environment, replicating the forests that stretched out hundreds of miles in every direction.

Ssu sat on a stone bench, watching the inhabitants of the cage. Tokkenoht and Sirris stopped beside her and looked. Scampering around inside the enclosure were some one hundred little lizzie offspring. Half of them were over a year old and already starting to walk upright. The other half, not yet yearlings, were still on all fours, scarcely thirty inches long.

“How are they?” asked the high priestess.

“They are good,” said Ssu, flushing her dewlap in pleasure.

“Oh, that one is mine!” shouted Tokkenoht, spying a blue band on one of the little hind legs.

Yes, things in Yessonarah were very different. Everywhere else in the world, female lizzies laid their eggs in communal nests in the forest. An old female was usually assigned to watch over the nest until hatching, but after the hatching, the offspring ran wild until they were captured and civilized into a lizzie household, or they were eaten. But here, in Yessonarah, the females were keeping track of their eggs and their offspring. What had started two years before as an experiment among the wives of the king, had spread. Now every house in the city was preparing its own nest for the coming spawning, and its each house had its own egg keeper. In two more years, the first lizzies ever to know their parents would be old enough to join society. This was the reason that so many lizardmen were flocking to Yessonarah, especially females.

After the servants had stripped off her paint, and she had bathed, Tokkenoht walked into the hearth room and lay down on her mat, in the way of her kind, on her belly, arms down at her sides, and with her nose pointed toward the central fireplace. She had almost dozed off when Szakhandu lay down beside her.


The Sorceress and her Lovers

It’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.

The Sorceress and her Lovers, Book 6 in the saga o Senta and the Steel Dragon, is available wherever fine ebooks are sold for $2.99.


The Dragon’s Choice – Chapter 8 Excerpt

The clouds were low over Brech City, turning everything to a dull monochrome. A wave of drizzling rain dropped without cease—tiny drops that a person scarcely noticed until he was wet through. Smoke from fireplaces, steam carriages, and factories barely rose above the tops of houses and lingered there just below the proper clouds, making everything that the rain touched dirty, greasy, and grimy.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Prince Clitus from beneath his umbrella. His usual uniform had been replaced by a formal black suit, making him as monochrome as his surroundings.

“Do what?” asked his older half-brother Prince Tybalt. “Stand out in this Kafira-wretched rain?” He too was dressed in black formal.

The two of them stood surrounded by a massive crowd at the dockside, staring at a great black steam liner: S. S. Lied des Vaterlandes.

“No. Are you sure you want to marry Princess Henrietta?”

“It’s time for me to marry.”

“You love her at least, don’t you?”

“Love her?” Tybalt frowned. “I don’t even know her.”

“But you’ve corresponded.”

“She wrote me some stupid letters. I didn’t read them.”

“Why then did you agree to marry her?”

“I have to marry someone. With Henrietta, we will cement our rule over Freedonia.”

“You could have picked anyone you wanted,” said Clitus. “You had a choice.”

Tybalt rolled his eyes.

“What choice? That fat Bordonian pig Lady Enid? I don’t think so. Princess Ophelia of Mirsanna? She’s a whore. Maybe you think I should have chosen the idiot Hortence Moorn, or the egghead Iolana Staff?”

“Lady Iolana is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” said Clitus, exasperated.

“She talks all the time. Have you noticed? Henrietta doesn’t even speak Brech. I’ll never have to listen to her. All I have to do is mount her a couple of times and pop some heirs into her. Then I can send her back to Freedonia to her family, and I can spend my time doing something more exciting with someone more exciting. That’s the beauty of it all. As King, I can have any woman I want, any time.”

Clitus sighed and shook his head.


The Sorceress and her Lovers – Chapter 6 Excerpt

Hsrandtuss opened his eyes and stretched. He had to push both Ssu and Tokkenoht off of him before he could roll off his sleeping mat. Only the latter female woke up. He stretched again. He felt better than he had in months, better than he had in years. A lot of it had to do with the fact that he was sleeping much better. He didn’t know if it was the proximity of the young god or the fact that for a change, things seemed to be going his way.

The other chiefs had all gone home. The last to leave had been Tistakha. Before Tistakha had left for Tuustutu, Hsrandtuss had managed a brief meeting. To say they had formed an alliance would have been too much, but they did seem to have an understanding. The two would work together to see that their trade with the soft-skins increased and that the plans of the God of the Sky were not disrupted by the likes of Szisz and his band of broken yokes in Suusiss.

“Your morning meal, Great King,” said Sszaxxanna, handing him a pomegranate.

“I don’t want another fruit,” said Hsrandtuss. “Where is my meat?”

“Your bowels, Great King.”

“Never mind my bowels. Find me a bird, or at the very least a nice fish.”

“The fish are not very plentiful here in the mountains, Great King,” said Sszaxxanna, with entirely too much sass.

He glared at her.

“I will try to find you a fish,” she said, scurrying off.

“See that you do. And send Sirris in here!” he called after her.

Sirris hurried into the room.

“Paint me,” Hsrandtuss ordered.

“If you wish, Great King, but the God of the Sky is gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean gone?”

“He flew north. Kendra says he has gone to visit the soft-skins in their city.”

“Yes, I see. That is good. What else does Kendra say? What about Szisz? Is he being watched?”

“Shouldn’t you wait and ask Sszaxxanna?” she asked quietly.

“You will never be first wife with an attitude like that,” he said.

“Kendra has trackers following him and his people. They are halfway back to Suusiss. She also says that there is a way for you to rise high in the esteem of the young god. She says you should do it, but Sszaxxanna won’t…”

Suddenly Sszaxxanna was there, striking Sirris repeatedly with her clawed hands, driving her from the room. Tokkenoht jumped up and hurried after her. Ssu continued to snooze on the sleeping mat.

“I have a bird for you, Great King,” said wife number one, thrusting the charred carcass of a bambiraptor toward him.

“It’s cooked?”

“It will be easier on your stomach.”

“What was it that Kendra suggested?” he asked, taking the bird and biting off the top half.

“It is nothing. It is ill conceived.”

“Would I not be a better judge of that than you?”

“Of course, Great King. But the god already favors you. You don’t need to risk yourself unnecessarily.”

“Bring her in here. I want to hear it.”

“But Great King…”


“As you wish,” said Sszaxxanna, stomping sulkily through the doorway. Hsrandtuss had no doubt that both Kendra and Sirris would be on the receiving end of Sszaxxanna’s claws later, but what was it to him how the females settled their differences?

Kendra entered and stepped very close to him. She placed one hand, palm outward, on her dewlap in a sign of respect and reached out familiarly to touch him on the shoulder with the other. She and Ssu were the youngest of his wives, and Kendra was very tiny, barely reaching up to Hsrandtuss’s shoulder.

“All right, what is this about improving my esteem?”

“There is a creature living beneath this fortress—a horrible creature.”

“Like the dead monster we saw when we arrived?”

“Much smaller than that one, but much more horrible. It lives in a place the young god cannot reach. One must pass through a narrow hallway and down a long flight of stairs. The red-caped one has sent five groups of warriors to kill it and they have all been unsuccessful. Most of them died.”

“So I am supposed to go down there and get myself killed too? Is that what you want?”

“No, no, my husband. You know that is not what I want. You must know how proud I am to be your wife.” She pressed her chin against his chest. “You are a great warrior and Tokkenoht and I will go with you, in addition to your warriors.”

“I am supposed to take two females into battle?”

“I have been on many hunts, and Tokkenoht has great magic. We can both aid you.”

Realizing that he still had half a bambiraptor in his hand, Hsrandtuss tossed it in his mouth and chewed. He did want to show Yessonar his worth, and Kendra was right that this might do so. And he was feeling better since he had been here. Maybe this was just what he needed to get back to his old self—a good battle. Yes, he decided. He would do it.

The entire fortress was a whirlwind of activity. The wall that had been completely disassembled when the group from Hiissiera had arrived was now almost completely rebuilt. Now a pair of high towers was being constructed just inside the walls. Wooden ladders and braces acted as an exoskeleton for the stone spires that when completed would house spiral staircases. Hsrandtuss found the god’s red-caped envoy easily enough. He had learned the important lizzie went by the name of Khastla.

“I hear that you have a problem beast.”

Khastla hissed slowly and eyed the king. “You speak of the vile creature below ground.”


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