Today “Quest for the Red Sapphire” was reviewed by “As the Page Turns” blog. Page (the reviewer) honored my book and was flattering. It is the second review on the page at http://asthepageturns-page.blogspot.com/ Read and enjoy!
I must be an albatross. Here it is, 2016, and I am the only one I know with a land line phone. Everyone else just uses cell phones. Or do they call them wireless phones now? I don’t know. I’m not in the loop. When I think about it, I don’t even know why I still have a home phone. I only get calls from telemarketers on it so it has reached the point where I don’t even attempt to answer it when it rings. The only legitimate reason for having it is for the Call Canada Plan. It is relatively cheap and gives me unlimited calling to Canada. It came in handy when my parents were alive but now that they have both passed I just have my sister left in Canada and we usually Skype or text. So why keep the phone? True, distant relatives only know that number to call. And it would be a pain to change the number for everywhere from work to my daughter’s school to my cell. I do use the land line when my old cell phone stops working right. But are those enough reasons to keep the phone? It all comes down to the cable/internet/phone company. They bundle everything to give you savings. The problem is, if you want one thing, you have to buy another to get it. It’s kind of like options on a car. If you want the sunroof, you have to get the leather seats along with it. (Ouch! Hot in the summer.) If you want the discount on the high speed internet, you need to buy the land line. It’s one of those evil genius things. At least I don’t have dial up internet these days. Remember how slow that was? That was in the days before unlimited minutes on your cell phone so having a land line made sense but it was always in use by your internet. Now you don’t even need to be in the same room as your computer to get on line. So I return to the question I started with. Should I get rid of my land line? Presented with all the information, the answer is yes. That being said, my actions say no. I am locked into a 1 year contract with my cable company where the discounts basically make it free. So I can’t cancel. In a year I will take it up again. Like I said…evil genius.
“How do you feel, My Boy?” asked Anvar as he shifted some straw under Linvin’s head.
Linvin held his forehead and moved his skull from side to side in an effort to help his orientation. “I feel like I have been through a sausage grinder. My aches are compounded by weakness. Everything seems so fuzzy to me. What happened after Hugon whipped me? That is the last thing I remember.”
Anvar recounted what transpired up to the present time. Linvin had not recalled speaking with Necromancer or the doctor. Even after hearing the story, Linvin showed little recognition.
He was given more food and water from Anvar. As his body worked to consume the food, his mind felt reinvigorated. Anvar thought through the succession of events and then addressed his injured nephew. “I saw what you were trying to do with Hugon. Inciting him was very brave but foolhardy. The tactic nearly killed you.”
“It was worth the gamble,” Linvin mumbled in response. “I figured at that point we had little chance of survival. If Hugon removed our restraints we would have at least had a sporting chance to live.”
“Yes,” said Anvar. “Hugon is a coward. Such as he rarely will fight fair. Your miscalculation nearly cost you your life. As I said before, brave but foolhardy.”
“Well fate has seen to it once again that we survived,” Linvin said. “We have that reason alone to be grateful.”
“Grateful to Necromancer,” Bander corrected.
“So what do you think about our captor, Necromancer?” Linvin asked in return.
“He has saved our lives,” Bander pointed out meekly.
“To what end?” Rander implored. “Clearly he has some greater purpose for us and it doesn’t sound like anything we want to be involved with. We have traveled all this way only to be prisoners awaiting our deaths.”
In reaction to Rander’s despair Linvin sighed in such a way as to show he’d heard such talk before and was disappointed to hear it again. “If he wanted us dead, Hugon would have finished us. Necromancer has gone to great lengths to be certain we were kept alive. In fact, he wants us to be in fighting shape.”
“Perhaps he heard about what you did in Valia and wants you to serve in their army here?” Anvar asked. “Our imprisonment could be used as leverage.”
“So we are to be hostages?” Rander asked in fright.
“Do stop the drama,” Linvin ordered his cousin. “I am having enough trouble concentrating without you constantly telling me the world is ending.
“To your point, Anvar, it would explain why he wants us but not why he has kept the Emperor uninformed we are here. If my service were required for the army he would likely have told his master of our arrival straight away. Until we arrived here we were called the ‘Emperor’s Prisoners’. That proves he has interest in us as well and yet he is purposefully being kept in the dark about our arrival. It leads me to believe some sort of intrigue is afoot.”
“Uncle Anvar, what was that orange light that shot out of your hands during the fight at the tavern?”
Linvin and Rander had no idea what Bander was talking about, not having been conscious to see the pyrotechnics during the melee. They first looked at Bander to see if he looked confused. The big elf looked quite serious. Then their attention turned to Anvar. The kindly uncle stirred the fire and did not speak. “What is he talking about?” Linvin asked. Anvar threw his stick in the fire and then brushed his hands clean on his pants.
“Good Bander,” Anvar began, “you were trading serious blows with that man with whom you were matched. In the fray, you must have seen a flash from one of the table lamps being knocked to the ground. The sudden light must assuredly have drawn your gaze for a brief moment.”
Bander shrunk his stature and looked away. “Yes, I did see that. It caught my eye all right.” He paused as though he was finished. Anvar was about to change the topic when Bander’s voice again became audible. “Yep, that flash made me look over there. Right after that though, your hands looked like they were on fire or something. Some orange ray of light, sort of, came flying from them and hit the man you were fighting like a club.” Bander looked at his brother and Linvin. “The fella flew backward like he was fallin’, only sideways. He crashed into the bar real hard. Don’t ya’ remember, Uncle Anvar? The fire didn’t hardly seem to even be bothering you, but that other guy…Whew. He gotta’ be feelin’ worse than Linvin today.”
Linvin and Rander knew Bander to have many traits and flaws. One he was not known for, however, was a tendency to lie. So it was that Bander’s brother and cousin turned their attention again to their uncle, who poked the fire once again.
“Hands on fire?” Rander asked. “What is he talking about?”
“In the heat of battle,” Anvar began, “things are not always as they appear. Linvin, I am sure you have seen strange things in battles many times. Come, tell us of one.”
Linvin’s forehead wrinkled as he looked sternly at Anvar. “Do not change the subject,
Anvar,” Linvin said firmly. “You are implying that Bander is a liar or a fool. Is that your intent?”
Bander looked most sheepish and regretted beginning the conversation. He looked longingly at his uncle, hoping to avoid either title.
Anvar sighed and hung his head in shame. Without raising his eyes, he answered Linvin. “Your cousin is neither a liar nor a fool. What he has recounted to you is genuine. He was talking about my magic.”
I think I have phone envy. Let me start by saying I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone which I basically use to call, text and occasionally get on the internet and Facebook. It works for me. People see it, though, and react as though I have the Brick from the 1980s. Whenever someone pulls out their phone it is always bigger and cooler than mine. It is faster and better at hooking up to the internet than mine. The picture is better. I don’t even want to show people cool things I’ve found on the internet on my phone because I feel embarrassed. Yet, I don’t feel I should get rid of this one. It’s still working and it’s not costing me anything. Still it’s a sad little phone. On top of that I have I-Phone envy. It’s like the world has switched to I-Phones. All the Apple users make their phones seem ultra-cool. My daughter has one and loves it more than any other gift we have given her…and that includes a laptop! However, I have my reservations about these phones. For one, I don’t want to become part of the Apple machine where everything you buy has to be an Apple to go with what you have. Something else I’ve noticed is about half the I-Phones I see have cracked glass on the screens. It must be an issue and an expensive one to repair. Even with all that, though, they still have really cool phones. So here I sit with my Galaxy S3 staring at it as it blinks. There is nothing wrong with this phone except it is old and slow. I wouldn’t get rid of a dog for those reasons. Is a phone so much different? Not to mention that a new phone will cost a lot of money, while this one is free. I don’t surf the web much on my phone but maybe that would change if I had a new faster one. This I not a need but a want. It is a status symbol and will be outdated by the time I leave the store with it. Then what will happen? I’ll be paying off this new phone and be wanting the latest cool phone. There’s always going to be a new, cool phone. Logically, I should wait until this one starts acting up and then buy one. Unfortunately, it is hard to separate emotion from logic in this instance. I want a new phone. I don’t need one. It looks as though the logical side will win this argument…unless an awesome sale comes along.
It’s funny how we take little things for granted. Things you would never think twice about could be truly extraordinary to someone else. Take for example my aunt and uncle visiting from southern California. We had a thunderstorm over night. It didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary to me or my family. Thunderstorms are nothing new to Nebraska. My aunt and uncle, though, were giddy with excitement. They said they rarely even received rain back in the Los Angeles area. What they did get was a few drops here or there. To hear a full-fledged thunderstorm was more than they could have hoped. They said they slept like babies. I never would have thought a rain storm would generate such bliss. Along the same lines, during their visit they couldn’t believe how green things were around here. Once again in L.A. the scene is more like a desert. The description they gave was horrific. They have an orange tree in their back yard but it boggles my mind how it stays alive. Such little things can make a profound impact. When I moved here from Michigan I arrived a few months ahead of my wife. One night I called her up and she asked if anything was different out here. I said there were a couple small differences. We had thought Omaha would be flat but it’s really hilly. Also I told her it must get very cold in the winter because all the houses had attached garages. Then I went driving through neighborhoods looking at houses. When I would stop at a stop sign, people would wave to me. Being from Michigan, I stepped out of my car and checked the tires to see which one was flat. When they all turned out to be alright, I checked the rest of the car but it too was fine as well. The pattern repeated itself over and over until I realized the people were just being nice. In Michigan, if someone was waving at you there was a problem. I think that perspective fuels expectations. What you are used to determines the course of action you expect. As a writer you can use this little tool to inject suspense into a story. When the audience reads a part and expects a certain outcome you can really pull them in by changing that outcome. It must be done in a subtle fashion and only occasionally. Otherwise you tend to wear out the reader.
“You said before that you could not find the staff. What has
Necromancer smiled and produced the ancient garment from his
pocket. “This has changed the dynamic of the situation. Rub this
magical garment over the Blue Sapphire. The stone has been in
contact with its staff before. Some trace of it should have been left
on the gem.”
Mandrean did not fully understand but took the cloth anyway.
He polished his prized possession and returned the woven material
to his court magician. Necromancer smiled his most insidious
smile and hovered over the map of the world on the floor.
Necromancer closed his eyes and fell into a trance. Without
warning, his body began to glow and change shape. The
metamorphosis looked grotesque. His body shifted and twisted
before the amazed onlookers. When the light from the magic
faded, Necromancer was an old man in appearance. Disguised as
Gallatrium he proceeded to speak to the cloth.
“My old cloak, that magic stone has touched the staff that
makes it whole. You have touched it. Now show me the location of
the staff so that they may be reunited.” He cast it high into the air
and cried out, “Show me where the blue staff is located.”
The cloth flashed a blinding white light as it landed on the map.
Mandrean joined Necromancer beside and watched. The fabric
grew into a vast moving picture on the floor with a view
descending through clouds. Such speed and imagery was similar to
what might be seen while falling off a cliff. In fact, a violent wind
blew over them with just such a force. When it seemed that they
would be blown away, the picture finally focused on the location
of the staff. The image centered on a structure.
“Now show us who possesses the staff.” Necromancer
The picture changed, and both men smiled at once. They looked
at each other and for the first time ever had the same goal.
“That is amazing,” Mandrean muttered.
“I never would have looked for it there,” Necromancer said
“Now that we know where it is, I have a job for you,
Necromancer. A scheme is coming together in my mind that is
perfect for this. I could not have planned this better. Our troubles
are about to end.”
“Indeed they are,” agreed Necromancer.
Today I’d like to take a moment to pay homage to all the mothers out there. Think of all the mothers who had children who were aspiring writers alone. That’s a lot of time isolated from the family while they write. All that time the mother was patient and allowed them their time to express themselves through the written word. Mothers look after us and care for us. Sometimes your Mom is the only person you can count on. They love you unconditionally. Not many people in this life fit that description. And what do they get for this?...One day per year when they are remembered. If you still have your mother, count yourself lucky and show her your appreciation today. If you have lost your mother then remember her and the good times you shared. She’s a special lady and you should make this a special day.
At nearly the same time Mandrean was meeting with Division Commanders just north of the site of the former dock. His camp was being set for the night and he paced in his tent while two soldiers reported.
“There is no sign of him to the east,” one man said while shaking with fear.
“He has not been seen headed west either, My Lord,” the second officer decreed.
Mandrean was furious. “How could he just vanish?” Mandrean yelled. “There is nowhere left for them to run.”
The first officer spoke again. “It is possible they have found some storage facility or root cellar where they intend to hide until we have given up the search?”
“That would require us to search every building in the Province,” the second officer noted. “To do a proper search will take time.”
“Then do it,” Mandrean ordered. “If they are indeed hiding then time is on our side and not theirs. Also, send units back in both directions. This time, however, have them travel along a more northern route. He may have tried to slip past you and flee to the border that way.”
Necromancer sat in the corner with his arms folded and listened to the commentary with great amusement. He entered the conversation with his usual brand of cynicism. “You say he is not where you expected him to be?” Necromancer asked rhetorically. “That is a surprise, to be sure. You set such a masterful trap and Linvin evaded it. To think he has the unmitigated gall to not wait for us to come and collect his party. What bad form he has displayed.”
“He will not evade us for long,” Mandrean boasted.
“It seems that I heard those words only a short time ago,” Necromancer reminded. “Yet here we sit with no trophy to display. Now your plan is to sit here and hope he appears. I marvel at the way you make doing nothing sound like hard work. By the time you realize he is gone, he will be at home in his tree drinking to your foolishness.”
The first officer was deeply offended, as he was not accustomed to Necromancer’s brand of commentary. He grasped his sword and stomped toward the magician. “You think this is funny, do you?” The man snarled as he began to draw his blade.
Mandrean put his hand on the man’s chest and prevented his progress. “Keep your weapon sheathed,” he ordered. “That is a hornet’s nest in the corner you do not wish to disturb.”
“That was the most intelligent thing you have done in some time, My Master,” Necromancer said with disappointment. “Your action just saved that man’s life. Then again, your inaction is also saving Linvin’s. How ironic.”
Mandrean put his hands on his hips and sighed. “Speak plainly and end your games. You clearly have an opinion and you feel it is of greater merit than ours. So tell us where you think Grithinshield has gone.”
At last Linvin reached the office of the Secretary to the King. The Royal Guard greeted him with cheers and hugs. Linvin thanked them but insisted on seeing King Hardurian at once. A guard entered the ceiling-high double-doors in order to announce him. Moments later, he returned and told Linvin to enter.
The great half-elf patted down his hair and entered. Before him was a hall of golden floors, polished to reflect frescos painted on the dome-shaped ceiling and walls. A red crushed-velvet carpet led from the doors across the hall to the steps, leading to a mighty throne of gold accented with silver and encrusted pearls. Numerous advisers crowded the steps and were laughing in a celebratory tone. At the sight of Linvin, they became overjoyed and raised goblets of wine in toasts to the victorious general. “Our brave knight returns,” cried an adviser. “The greatest general in our great nation’s history!” called another. Linvin smiled harshly and with some frustration as he attempted to work through the drunken crowd. “You are too kind,” he repeatedly said.
“Make way!” called a voice from the back of their gathering. The men became silent and parted to fully reveal the grandeur of the throne and its occupant. They knelt on one knee and bowed. Rising to his feet from the seat of power was an aged king wearing fine silks and a proud smile.
His silver hair was fine and still covered his head. The wrinkles in his face each seemed to have a story to explain its origin. That face and its owner had deliberated many a trouble, but ittook on a glow at the sight of Linvin. A sense of great pride welled forth and transformed his appearance from a worried king to an admirer.
Linvin approached with his head held high and knelt most eagerly before the King.
“I have returned, Your Highness,” Linvin said as he lowered his head.
King Hardurian put his quaking hand gently under Linvin’s chin and raised it so that the two could look one another in the eye. “This is one day that I should be bowing to you, my young friend.
Arise, Linvin, defender of Valia, and be recognized.”
Deep in his soul, Linvin relished in the praise, but his heart was heavy and he could not enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“We had not expected you so soon,” King Hardurian said. “Word only just reached us of your victory.”
“There will be a celebration in your honor this evening,” an adviser said, while slapping Linvin on the shoulder.
“We are commissioning a statue of you to be chiseled of marble and set in the town square,” another said with a laugh.
“An etching in the Triumphal Arch will be carved.”
“Of course, there will be a victory parade once your men arrive, to celebrate your amazing wins.”
Such adoration would make many men feel pride and happiness, but for Linvin, each statement made him feel worse and worse. He had resigned to hold his tongue until he was alone with the king. However, at the utterance of the last sentence, rage welled within him and he could be quiet no longer.
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...