“The troops are here, Sire.” The butler held his head high and stood in the doorway, hands clasped behind his back. “They have armed themselves and are ready to leave at your command.”
“How many?” the king asked as he put on his uniform, his burgundy hair tucked behind his ears and ready for the helmet he would put on for protection. His blue-green eyes searched for any flaw in his armor.
Every piece shielded him from head to toe in a body vest made of the sturdiest laminated fibers and felt like a second skin upon his tall, muscular body. It would protect him from every form of combat, including fire.
The advancements in technology over the last 3,000 years would be of great benefit to him today. He didn’t just want the best technology science could create and money could buy. He wanted the power to do whatever he wanted. Just as the Second Kingdom had.
Since WWIII, the First Kingdom and Second Kingdom had created a contract to avoid future wars between their two countries. They had divided the remaining land and claimed truce. The remnants of the seven continents were now merged into two.
King Ezra was in charge of the well-being and progress of the First Kingdom. Queen Ada was in charge of the Second. However, news of the Second Kingdom’s advancements into sorcery and magical power made the King twitch for the same. He should be able to possess what they controlled. Otherwise, WWIV was inevitable.
“Approximately 25,000 men from all over the Kingdom, Your Highness. Every man eighteen and over has arrived and trained for what is to come. Are you certain you wish to do this, Sire?”
Blue-green eyes peered at the butler with darkening irises.
“Buford, do you dare question your king?” His voice was sweet and smooth like water steadily pouring over pebbles.
Buford's eyes blinked and moved to the floor. His face scrunched before he shook his head and said, “No, Your Highness.”
“Then kindly tell the men to get into formation and prepare to march. For today, we will defeat the Second Kingdom's power. We will conquer them and unite into one Kingdom.”
“Yes, Sire,” Buford responded, and then walked out into the hall with a shudder.
With head bowed and slow steps, Buford walked down the hallway praying the young king would change his mind. He wasn't the only one who knew the king was walking toward certain death.
Sighing, he opened the doors and motioned to the Secretary of War to step forward, “The king is ready to attack.”
His whispered words were sent with another shudder, and he looked into the dark eyes of the grizzled man before him, exchanging a silent nod and raised brows.
“He won’t be swayed? There has been peace for almost 3,000 years,” the secretary pleaded.
Buford shook his head. The secretary sighed before walking to the edge of the steps to announce the king's command.
Amazon Kindle Customer: 5/5 Stars
"This was a great re-imagining of The Beauty and the Beast. The only issue I had was probably caused by the conversion to e-formatting. There were too many spaces in some places and in a couple of others, the words were smashed together. Otherwise, the story was good. I would have loved to get the whole story from both characters and a more complete epilogue. Overall this was a clean and fun story.
I received this book free from one of the book subscription emails."
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Apollo and Amaya Shelly are twins, living deep in the forest of Stockwood Washington and away from civilization. Raised by their father and under the protection of their leader, Maximiliano, Apollo and Amaya live what they consider a normal life with the Sanguis clan.
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I screeched at him furiously. Had I been sober, I may have chosen discretion. However, rage mixed with ethanol coursed through my young veins. “You! I have a bone to pick with you!” I shouted at him. He looked up in shock and surprise. He said “As clearly stipulated in terms and conditions of sale, there are no refunds.” I stalked up to him, as he turned at a slight angle towards me. I could see his hand dipping down into his pocket. I felt sure he had a magic wand but my rash, young, alcohol-addled mind didn’t care. I said “You ruined my life!” He pouted at me curiously. I had already drawn quite a crowd with my story and they largely stayed to watch it out to its end.
He asked “Do I know you?” I stamped my foot and shouted “Yes, we met in the Betwixt where you told me to abandon my friend and chase after a boy.” A look of recognition came across Mythrysia’s face and he said “Ah, yes, the little girl who likes to leave her backpack lying around between dimensions as a tripping hazard. Jane, I believe was your name.” I growled back “My name is Julie!” Vilga spoke up saying “of Ohio.” Mythrysia nodded and said “Yes, quite, the girl who wanted to dance with JTT yet had to face a blonde-haired buxom dragon in order to get him. Are you angry at me that the Stacey-dragon struck you? I scarcely imagine that came as a surprise.”
My face flushed and I said “After one, terrible, dance, Stacey got Jeremy and now the whole school says I’m a climber, using other girls to get boys out of my league. My life is ruined!” Mythrysia’s eyes narrowed and he replied “Is it now? How is your breath? Are your lungs still working?” I squinted at him angrily not wanting to answer. He continued “And about your heart, I trust it is still beating? With all that anger I feel confident in assessing that your mind is quite a flutter with electrical impulses.” I snorted angrily and replied “So?” He said “Then your life is not over and therefore cannot be ruined. For anyone whose heart is still beating and whose mind is still pulsing may still have hope. No matter how terrible their fate may seem, as long as these functions work there is always some hope. So, in this manner, I can safely assume that your life is not yet completely ruined.”
It’s strange how powerful that phrase feels to me now, after all I have been through. But such was not the case back then. I was a teenager and I thought I knew everything. Also, I was drunk.
To my brash young mind, I felt I needed more than some cheap words. I said “But my reputation is ruined, my best girlfriend hates me, and I’ve lost the boy of my dreams!” Mythrysia’s eyes twinkled and a smile played upon his lips. He replied, loudly for all to hear, “Reputation, a so-called friend, and some teenage boy? You are angry at the loss of these things? I dare say you lost nothing for what you received in return.” He pulled out his hand from his pocket. I braced myself for whatever hell he could conjure from his wand. Instead he withdrew his empty hand and pointed at me saying “I can see it in your eyes, Julie of Ohio, that you have fought with a dragon.” The man with the pet dragon riding on his shoulder shot Mythrysia an insulted look as his dragon whimpered piteously. Mythrysia replied to the man and his pet saying “Oh, Horace, it’s just an expression and you know it.”
He continued, loudly for all to hear, “When I met Julie of Ohio she was nothing more than a whimpering little girl crying to herself in the dark. Now look at her. I bet if we fed her coal diamonds would plop out from the fire which broils through her veins. I’ve seen men of less ferocity on the field of battle than this young Julie.” I replied bitterly “But, I lost everything.” Mythrysia spoke to me softly saying “Julie, in ten years-time this boy of yours will have met his wife-to-be in the cubicle next to his at a job in another country. Your so-called friend will be attending college in another state and you won’t ever speak to her again. No one from your school will even remember your name, much less the gossip that fluttered about you in junior high.” He stepped in close and put his finger square on my chest saying “But you, you will remember that you stood up to your dragon and you fought it. It doesn’t matter how the fight ended. What matters is that you had the courage to fight at all. That, Julie of Ohio, is why I advised you to say ‘yes’ to the boy. Not because your dance with him would mean anything. But, because the courage you found to do so will serve you well for the rest of your life.”
I pushed his finger away and said “But…”
My mind could conjure no retort.
A small tear started to come down my cheek. In my mind, I knew he was right. Really, none of it mattered. Nothing that happens in junior high matters. But my heart couldn’t accept it. I said “Tonight was supposed to be magical and romantic. Not the worst night of my life.” Mythrysia took a step back and spoke up “Ahhh, yes, there you have me.” He raised his hands to the crowd and said “Indeed, I have not ruined her life. However, my brash advice, has ruined something for which I intend to make amends.” He gestured towards me and said “For I have ruined her dance. I have ruined her evening. For this, I shall make amends. For we shall host, this very night, a do-over dance for young Julie of Ohio.”
He shuffled in his pocket and started to draw forth some coins. He spoke first to Jessica Thoroughgoblin “Madame Jessica, perchance you know any songs which would be popular for a Junior High dance in Ohio?” Jessica shrugged and said “I don’t know. I’ve never been to Ohio.” Mythrysia replied “ah, yes, and you should never go there for obvious reasons. Earth’s much too dangerous, what with the landmines and such though I can’t quite recall if they are more common in Ohio or the Congo... Hold on, for I might have something for you.” Mythrysia shuffled around in his backpack and pulled up some sheet music “Here’s a bit I picked up on my last trip. A few pieces from this quaint little group named Boyz II Men. Quite popular on Earth these days.”
Jessica scoffed and replied “Dumb name, but I guess we can make this work.” Mythrysia gave her some coins and she reviewed the sheet music with her magician-musician. Beth piped up “What do they drink at a junior-high dance in Ohio?” Mythrysia nodded and said “Punch, indeed. Make up a bowl full and scoop some out for our dancers with a ladle into small, clear glasses. On earth they use glasses constructed of polyethylene.” Beth asked “Of polyethylene? But that is so expensive,” Mythrysia waved a hand and said “You can just use the cheap quartz crystal-wear for it instead.” Beth asked me “How many bottles of tequila do they normally put in the punch in Ohio?” I blanched, and she looked at me queerly for a second. She corrected herself saying “Oh, yes, Earth’s too dangerous of a place to get drunk.” She patted me gently on the shoulder and said “Don’t worry, Julie of Ohio, I’ll only put in three bottles of Tequila for the punch-bowl.”
A few coins from Mythrysia later and Beth set about this task. Mythrysia announced loudly “Let’s make a dance.” The other bar denizens, of their own accord, began shoo-ing the tables away from the dance floor to make more room. As they flapped and clapped at the tables, the tables walked away on their tentacles. Mythrysia directed them “For a proper junior high dance, we must have all the men on one side and all the women on the other.” Vilga asked “What do we do then?” Mythrysia responded “The separate genders eye each other awkwardly for two hours while you drink punch and nervously talk with your same gender.” Vilga continued “But, when do we dance with the women?” Mythrysia responded “You don’t, or if you do it is rarely and only the brave…” He paused and looked at me. He smiled and said “Only the brave cross to the middle and dance.”
Mythrysia pulled out his magic wand and pointed it at the ceiling. With the speaking of a magical incantation, the house-lights went down, and a disco-ball descended and begun twirling casting sprinkling lights about the room. Either out of good-sportsmanship, or just for the fun of it, the bar denizens followed Mythrysia’s advice and soon the room looked slightly nothing at all like a conventional Junior high dance.
Yes, I know they were trying their best, but I have never been to a junior high dance where some of the attendees had three-inch canines jutting out from their lower jaws, others had purple skin and still others had four hooves instead of legs. I looked down and another detail stuck out at me sadly.
I still wore a nightgown.
Regardless how concealing it may have been, it scarcely passed for fancy clothing.
Mythrysia chuckled at me as I looked up at him piteously “My dear, it seems you have nothing to wear to the ball.” He said. I replied “It’s not funny and this isn’t a real junior high dance. I don’t care how much you…” Before I could finish the sentence, he pointed his magic wand at me and spoke an incantation. I gasped and held out my hands defensively, but it was too late. A magic bolt struck me square in the chest and a flash of heat passed around my body followed by a deathly chill. I couldn’t imagine that after all of this, he decided to kill me in the end.
My heart beat on, though.
I looked down and my nightgown had transformed into a ballgown.
He chuckled and said “Bippity-boppity-boo.” I reviewed the dress, half expecting it to be fifteen layers of satin petticoats each one more delicate than the last, but such was not the case.
Mythrysia was well versed in the fashion of the 90’s.
I wore a neon-blue polyester affair with sewn-on sequins decorating the abdominal section. The sweet-heart cut bust-line ended on the sides with high shoulder-pads that stuck out in slight angles. The dress itself was sleeveless, but my left arm was partially covered by an over-sized polyester flower stitched across my chest. The dress terminated below the sequin paneling and boasted an over-stuffed mermaid’s tale that cut off just below my knees.
“And what is a girl without good hair?” Mythrysia asked. He raised his wand again and I said “Whoa, whoa, don’t….”
My hair felt briefly hot and then cold again. Mythrysia gestured for me to follow him to a side corner next to the bar where a full-length mirror stood. Here, I saw my hair for the first time
My banes exploded straight up into a teased-out bouffant that rose several inches over my actual scalp. The rest of my hair sprung into tight curls which scattered in all directions away from my head as if they had a mind of their own. Whatever magic Mythrysia used on my hair clearly had dialed the volume up to eleven.
Looking back on it now, it makes laugh. That hideous dress and my hair couldn’t have been more garishly dated if Mythrysia had tried. It looked like the culmination of every cheap prom-gown and bridesmaid’s-enforced-wardrobe crammed together into one unruly pile of fabric. If it had not been magical I would have half-expected to see a ‘Made in China’ tag in the back next to a resume for the designer since he would be looking for a new job upon creating such a monstrosity. My hair appeared as though it had been teased to the brink of death. At the time, however, I loved it. It was cool. It was hip. It was…
…everything that I wasn’t.
He Who Seeks Power, Seeks Destruction.
Over 1000 years ago, nearly all the ancient wizards were destroyed after the Wizard Wars. However, the one who started the War still remains, having worked his will in secret. If he can find the last Dragonwand, he will regain his powers as the dark dragon. Unaware of the Dragonwand or the betrayer, sixteen-year-old Markus is looking for a wizard who will give him a letter of recommendation for the College of Wizardry. During his journey, he stumbles upon Tolen the Wise, who sends Markus on a quest to end the darkness and find the Dragonwand before it gets into the wrong hands. As Markus discovers growing powers and makes allies, will he find what he needs to complete Tolen’s task, or will the ancient, dark wizard uncover the Dragonwand and forever change the fate of the land of Gallenor?
Ellie folded her arms over her chest. She watched Charlie grab a long, fat vial from her med kit. Charlie held it up, turning it this way and that. Staring at the clear, slightly viscose liquid inside, she flicked it. Edward padded into the kitchen on bare feet. His shoulder length, blond hair was stringy. He’d simply pulled it back into a messy ponytail at the nape of his neck. Long wisps of bangs fell loose curving over his square jaw. It had been a few days since he saw a shower. He was dressed in the same gray sweatpants he’d been wearing since the day Ellie and her boys got there last week. The stubble on his chin was getting thick. He sat down on the stool in front of the massive kitchen island and batted exotic blue eyes at her.
Science shouldn’t try to play with magic. That didn’t stop them from trying, though. A ring of violet ringed Edward’s irises. It gradated to a softer shade with spikes of a blue so pale it almost looked white ringing his pupils like the rays of the sun. Ellie missed his human eyes. She missed rather a lot from when her brother was human. Ellie tried flashing him a smile. It was weak. She was more than just a little worried about him. It was like he’d just given up. This wasn’t her Edward.
Charlie drew out thirty lines into the syringe. Edward held his arm out, pumping his fist. Charlie flashed him a small, reassuring smile, and handed him a solid piece of plastic. Edward lifted it to his teeth and bit down on the thing. Charlie slid the needle slowly into the vein at the crux of his arm, pressing the plunger down.
Edward’s jaw tightened. His entire body went rigid with the pain it caused. Like broken glass swimming through his bloodstream, it tore him in half. He shuddered. His screams were wretched. Ellie reached up quickly to wipe at the tear that fell down her cheek. She took in a shuddering breath. Ellie decided in that moment that bitch Bennet's death wasn’t nearly as bloody as it should have been. Charlie pulled the needle free and went about cleaning up the small mess she’d made.
Ellie threw her arms around her big brother from behind. Her hands wrapped around his muscular arms. “I’m sorry, Eddy,” Ellie whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“For what?” he said through gritted teeth. Edward couldn’t stop the shudders, couldn’t quiet the agony that roared through him. It took an eternity for the fire to begin to die down. Edward forced himself to relax against her. He concentrated hard on her embrace.
“That you have to go through this.” Ellie touched the side of his face, smoothed the hair back from his sweat-drenched forehead. “That I didn’t get there in time to save you.”
“You came, little Lottey.” Edward breathed in slow, just to blow it free. “I’ve had worse.”
Ellie sniffed and laid a kiss on his bristly cheek. “Liar,” she said with a pouting lip. She worked hard to give him a smile. “I love you, Edward.”
Edward sat up, leaning back far enough to put his arm around his kid sister’s back. He pulled her into his lap without any effort and ruffled her silky hair. “You going to stay a while this time, Squirt?” Ellie had a hard time ignoring the lilt of hope in his voice.
Her eyebrows drew together and her mouth dropped open. Ellie had a lead on another one of Bennet’s crazies. But after watching that, she couldn’t bear to tell him no. “A little while.” Ellie nodded and sniffed.
Charlie zipped her small med-kit closed and slipped it into the cupboard on the end. She walked back to the dining room table. Her fussing caught Ellie’s attention. Charlie closed down a program on her laptop. Ellie stared at the small black rectangle Charlie had jacked into one of the USB ports. The external hard-drive had all of Susan Bennet’s research on it.
“How’s the science going?” The moment the words left her lips, Ellie regretted asking in front of Edward.
Charlie turned to them. Her hazel eyes first met Edward’s pleading gaze, and then bashfully, she looked at Ellie. “I’m doing my best to make something of it.” Charlie hated lying. She’d developed a skill for it married to her EX husband. And she needed every ounce of it to get past the searching stare of Ellie. Charlie didn’t get the need for this secret. But it wasn’t exactly hers to tell.
“That’s all I can ask,” Ellie said with a nod. She wiped at her nose and slipped her arms around her brother’s neck. “Can you make a list of some of the stuff you’ll need?”
Charlie’s mouth dropped open to answer but Edward beat her to it. “What for, Squirt? How exactly do you plan on getting any of it?”
“We’ll steal it,” Ellie answered simply.
Edward frowned. He hated the idea that Ellie happily embraced being an outlaw only a tiny bit more than she did being a murderer. Ellie could tell by the look on his face there was a fight on the horizon. She just couldn’t deal with it. She loved Edward more than life itself. But living with him was proving harder every day. Ellie leaned in and kissed him between the eyes. Cupping his face between her tiny hands, she smirked.
“I’m going to make you better, Edward.”
He let the love shining in her pretty green eyes draw a smile across his mouth. “Never had a doubt in my mind, Squirt.” Edward tried hard to keep his face neutral. His vision blurred with stinging tears.
Ellie took in a deep breath and laid her head against the side of his. Her eyes cast to the floor. She was lost here. Ellie was the first to admit this life took some getting used to. But Edward just couldn’t handle it, and it was getting harder to ignore. Ellie spent her whole life thinking nothing could come between them. Now, she worried she was wrong. The only thought in her head for the longest time was of him. Now that he was free, Ellie just couldn’t shake the feeling he was spinning away from her.
An unexpected encounter with a creature of song may have the power to change his fate.
Tribesman Misha is in search of a deer, hopeful of winning the hand of Tiva--next in line for leadership--and determined to secure his family’s prominence. When he finds a small song-bird-woman, who he names Raven, he’s sure fate is on his side. The creature can’t speak, yet her song captures his heart.
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The end of the day nears, and he must bring home a gift for Tiva or risk losing her to the lowly fisherman, Rokkoo, a fate that would undo everything he's worked so hard for.
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