Yesterday I was working on some promotional material for one of my books. Then, out of the blue, I started thinking about the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” It’s the scene where the father is scolding the daughter for giving up being a lawyer to be a writer and now she wasn’t even doing that. He says he receives emails from her at 2 in the morning. She replies the he’s not being fair. She wrote those emails at least. Then I stopped and looked at what I was doing. I finished the first draft of my latest book months ago and it waits its turn to be edited. In the mean time I have been looking for people to review my books and feature them on their sites. They need the publicity. But my writing had been reduced to small blurbs meant to get the reader’s attention and minor guest posts. I hadn’t written anything substantial in months and I was feeling like the character in the movie. The reason I started in this business was to write and I had put it aside for too long. So I set my other work aside and decided to start the outline of my next book. There I sat with a blank screen and a blinking cursor before me, like so many other writers staring into the abyss. At first it was intimidating. Starting with nothing and building from there. Then I reminded myself that I have been going over this book in my mind every day for months. It has been planned for over 25 years. That cursor is nothing to fear. It is something to use. So I did. I began to write. It was slow at first as I cautiously hit the keys. Then it sped up as the story started flowing from me. Soon I was back. I felt like my old self. It was a glorious feeling. Pages rolled off and details I had forgotten came to mind as I put the outline to paper. I only stopped when my wife came in and basically told me she was lonely. I saved my work with pride knowing I had a toe-hold on the next book and my feeling of being a writer, restored. It is such a wonderful feeling to write. Creating images on paper is such a marvelous sensation. There is nothing else quite like it. Today I will go back to promotion work but I will return to my writing soon. It is just too much fun to ignore for so long again. Besides, once the edits on the new book arrive, the time for fun will be over.
Lord Mandrean walked hurriedly down the illustrious halls of
Marinhalk. Four soldiers of his imperial guard marched in tow.
Though the emperor’s mind focused on the health of General
Gramlick, he could not help but notice the flamboyant decorative
uniform of one of his guards. Falling back into the middle of the
group he sneered and commented. “It has been nearly two weeks
since I gave you the title of Commander of the imperial guard,
Acreas. Do you not think it is time to return to your normal
Commander Acreas was in front of his master but could display
his fiendish grin without fear of retribution. “This is a dream I
have worked hard to fulfill. In only two years as a member of the
guard, I have risen to become its leader. While Your Eminence
was the one who gave me my insignia, it was only after I had
defeated all challengers in the jousting tournament. This rank was
earned. I should think you would be pleased. Clearly my superior
breeding has produced a finely honed weapon in your arsenal.”
Mandrean begrudged every word knowing that Acreas was his
illegitimate son through Betrimpia, his first of over one-hundred
concubines. Everyone knew the lineage to be true. The emperor
simply would not acknowledge the boy’s birthright publicly for his
own reasons. “I care nothing for your ‘breeding’.” Mandrean
fibbed. “Your mother is the most annoying, bull-headed woman I
have ever known. Since you were old enough to walk, you have
had the most prized tutors and instructors in the empire.
Considering nearly all of the senior guardsmen were lost in
Trader’s Alley, it would have been stunning if you had not won the
contest for leadership.
“I still recall the gloating expression on your mother’s face
when you were given this command. She had the cold, wicked
glare of someone who had won a bet and was going to let her
money ride. To an emperor with a new commander of the guard,
that was a worrisome look. The guard’s main purpose, after all, is
to protect me against all others. Is this so with you and your men?”
Acreas could see the distrust in the emperor’s face as he
glanced back. The entire situation was a game to the youngest man
ever to be commander of the guard. He viewed his father with
contempt and hatred. Acreas had no delusions that the man he
served was anywhere close to his intellectual equal. Thus, the
“You have sent me to every battle since I joined the guard, and
the men trust me. They have sworn to follow my commands. In the
same way I have sworn to follow your orders, My Emperor.”
Acreas nodded his head with the statement.
As the room parted, Necromancer came into view. He moved but his robe showed no motion from his legs. As he grew near his eyes became a deeper red and nearly appeared ablaze as he approached the elves. He stopped directly before the guards in the front of the column.
“Captain,” he ordered. “You and your men may return to your duties.”
The captain looked puzzled. “I certainly would never disobey you, My Lord, but we were told these are the most dangerous prisoners we have ever held. With Lord Mandrean about to begin Court, I would think it would be wise to stay with them. After all, Lord Mandrean’s protection is the most important factor.”
“Your concern is noted,” Necromancer answered as anger swelled in his voice. “There are over a dozen Imperial Guards already stationed in this room. That is more than sufficient. Your men have other responsibilities they are neglecting. I suggest they return to them. As for our Dear Lord Mandrean, I am here. There is no greater protection to be had. You are dismissed. Pray I do not recall you’re questioning of my orders in the future. Such a recollection may displease me and be detrimental for you.”
The captain gave the fist salute and said firmly, “By your leave, My Lord.” He turned on his heal and led the guards from the chamber.
Necromancer smiled a fiendish grin as he approached Linvin. “I see you have been restored to health. That is good. I may not have use for you but I will be prepared all the same, Grithinshield.”
He walked over to the twins and looked at them with contempt. Then he glared at Linvin. “I can see why you loathe them. They are miserable excuses for elves. To be fair, elves never have impressed me as a group. These two are particularly under whelming. Had I been you, I would have eliminated them long ago.”
“They are my kin,” Linvin stated indignantly.
“A fact I am sure you have regretted on more than one occasion,” remarked Necromancer. “They may be of your blood but you would have done well to shed it long ago. Your trip would have been far easier. Then again, I may be giving you too much credit. Perhaps you enjoy having inferiors around. I personally despise it, but have no choice in the matter. I have no equal with whom to associate.” He moved on to Anvar. “You certainly draw a pathetic comparison to me. What is the world coming to when everyone is so scared of a circus freak like you? An Orange Magician, eh? You are better served as a sideshow trickster. At least that would earn the slightest respect. Instead you pass yourself off as a force to be handled with extreme caution. You could not harm me on your best day.
“There are many here who may fear your tricks. For that reason I will be clear. I will be removing all your restraints soon. After all, we do not want the ‘Emperor’s Prisoners’ to be uncomfortable, do we? Then you will all sit where I tell you and do nothing until called upon. If any of you make the slightest effort to escape, you will only leave this chamber when your ashes are swept aside.” He paced before the prisoners with his hands behind his back. “That means, no swordplay, fisticuffs or that sad thing Anvar Greenlith calls magic. Remember, you are nothing more than a means to an end for me. Even at that, you are a backup plan. Your incineration would at worst be an inconvenience to me. So do not bother convincing yourselves that you are indispensable.”
Anvar stood the staff next to Linvin and drew on his pipe. After being sure it was well lit, he sat down by his nephew and said in a calm voice, “Perhaps you’re right. I thought guilt might be a motivating factor, but I was wrong. Know this, though. Whoever killed your parents undoubtedly wanted these items that you now possess. How long do you really think it will take them to track you down here? How long doesn’t matter, because they will come, and you, my dear boy, will find yourself in a grave next to your mother. I would make sure that your body was laid to rest by hers. That is, if I am not dead as well. Look at this as a game of chance. The stakes are high and clear: tremendous power or death. There is no middle ground here. No one asked if you wanted to play, you are already all in.”
While he would never admit it, even to his uncle, Linvin was scared. All the gaps in his life had been filled so suddenly. It was only natural that he did not want to accept the answers. Anvar looked down on him with a piercing stare. Finally, Linvin capitulated, “I will go on this quest,” he sighed, as he took to his feet. “If my parents wanted me to go that badly, well, I owe them at least that.”
Anvar, once again, held out the staff. This time Linvin took it from him.
The moment he grasped it, Linvin could feel a force flowing through his body. His senses tingled and in a moment, things became clear to him. He could feel its presence washing over him like a wave. The staff was indeed a living entity. It felt like a best friend which he had found again. He could finally understand that the staff was ‘meant’ for him.
A voice entered his head, though no noise was heard. “At last we are together,” the voice said. “I am the Path of the Red Sapphire. Long have I waited for the chosen one to come and wield me in his hand. Together, we will find the stone that will complete us both. With it, we will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. We will prove that one can save many. One can make all the difference, and we will strike down the ever-growing tyranny and oppression in this world. You were chosen because you are true of heart and character. Together, we will make the difference no one else can make.”
Linvin felt warmth and satisfaction emanating from the staff. He had never experienced telepathy before and decided to try to send a message back. “How will I know where to look?” he asked. The staff’s answer was swift. “I will point you in the right direction.” Linvin’s arm involuntarily extended with the staff in hand and pointed to the north.
“What is it?” Anvar asked, nearly dropping his pipe.
Linvin listened to the staff for a moment and then answered his uncle. “That is the direction we must goin order to find the Red Sapphire. The staff says it is a very long distance from here.”
“It spoke to you?” Anvar asked with excitement.
“Did you not hear its voice?” Linvin questioned back.
“I heard no sound,” said Anvar. He nodded thoughtfully and bit hard on his pipe. “Do you have any maps around here?” “Yes,” Linvin answered. He quickly went inside and came out with a rolled map.
They spread it out on the floor and examined the area to the north closely. The path set before them was not an easy one. It would indeed be a perilous journey.
We talk about the big things in life that go wrong when we are explaining our misery but how often is it the little things in life that drive us mad. Being a writer, I worry about my computer. The hard drive might go out or the mother board could fry. Perhaps a power surge knocks out the whole thing. I’m getting freaked out just thinking about these things. None of those faults occurred this week and I was still brought to a standstill. My keyboard wasn’t working. Actually it was less than that. When I struck the letter “P” it typed “OP”. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, you might think? You would be surprised how often “P” is used in writing or even every day computer usage. The error was messing up passwords and searches. Just one key malfunctioning shut me down until I could buy a new keyboard. When I brought the new one home I tried to break the seal with my pen. Doing so ruined the end on the tip. That was my one good writing pen. (See last week’s blog) After that it seemed like I kept getting calls needing notes taken; and there wasn’t a working pen to be found. When you have the seat of your car adjusted perfectly for your body and then someone else moves it to drive the car, disaster strikes. You would think you could find that spot easily again but it always takes a while for you to find a place you can live with. Trying to match socks can go beyond frustrating when you know you put both in the laundry hamper and you can only find one. There are plenty of socks that look close to the right one but none that look the same. It’s like a game of Concentration. Yes the major things in life are just that, major. But the little things are the ones that rub at you, gnaw at you and irritate you until they drive you crazy. I never appreciated a keyboard so much until this week. Let’s hope next week I’m not writing about major problems.
A scribe sat in the alcove to record the events of the meeting.
“The first order of business,” he recited, “is the Lord of
A well-dressed gentleman came forward from the crowd. “My
liege,” he stated with a bow, “there is disturbing news about the
Unclaimed Territory. With neither Sartan nor the empire legally
permitted to introduce combat units into the disputed region, a
potentially volatile trend has emerged. Settlers from the Kingdoms
of Romadon, Rador, Valia and even the empire have begun settling
in the fertile region with little to be done about it. Now that you
have withdrawn our forces from the region, we have no leverage in
“How is that a concern to the empire?” Mandrean inquired
while accepting a drink from a servant.
“Sire,” stated the lord, “our informants tell us that Valia for
certain and perhaps each of the others has secretly promised
protection to the settlers as an enticement to move there.”
Mandrean had heard every word but was, after all, a man of
slow wit. Realizing that the significance of the information was
indeed lost on his master, the lord elaborated.
“Do you not see the implications for us, Sire? If that prairie is
settled and these nations provide protection, it is an underhanded
method of claiming the territory. Once the farmers are in place,
these kings need but only claim that there is a danger to their
people and send armies to protect them. They would appear to the
world to be innocent lambs but are in fact preying wolves. We
would be forced to either accept their annexation of the region or
fight three powers. The issue must be scrutinized.”
Mandrean grew agitated when the issue was brought into
perspective. “That land should have been ours years ago,” he
insisted. “Are you sure of your facts?”
The lord shuffled his papers and looked away. “We are certain
that the settlers are squatting and that they are doing so in
increasing numbers. As for the support guaranteed by the other
factions, we have one spy’s report from Valia and no others.”
“So this threat is little more than speculation at this time, is it
The lord became less at ease. “Sire, I truly believe that my
concerns are valid on this matter.”
“Fine. Then find out how correct they are, and report back to
me with something more definite. I am not inclined to mobilize our
forces without good reason.”
Snickering was heard from the gallery after the statement. The
sound set the emperor into a tizzy.
“Who laughed?” he yelled. No one spoke. The hall was silent.
“If I find that fool, he will be dead.” Still, no one spoke.
Seeing that his point was made, Mandrean returned his attention
to is Lord of Diplomacy. “What else have you?”
“Your regional commanders have been briefed on the other
matters, and they will address them in their reports.”
“Then waste no more of my time talking,” Mandrean told him.
The lord returned to his seat.
Is it too much to ask for a pen that writes? How many times have you gotten a phone call and gone through pen after pen just trying to find one that works. It can drive you mad. Right now I’m staring at 5 different pens and I would be surprised if more than one worked. Still, there they sit. Think of your closet and those clothes that no longer fit. Yet we keep them around with that faint hope that we will fit in them again. Think of your cds. How many have scratches on them and are unlistenable? If you’re like me there are quite a few. In fact, every cd I ever brought in my car is scratched. In spite of trying different cleaners the scratches remain. So I throw them out; right? No. I just hold onto them for some strange reason. And let’s not forget the stacks of video tapes in the basement. Even though I still have a vcr (yes, I’m old) to play them on, I never watch the tapes and will probably never watch them again. Nevertheless, they sit on shelves and gather dust. How many times have we held onto cars that needed to be traded in? They had turned into money pits and there was no end in sight. Still, for some reason, we kept the car. Is it laziness or a sense of value that causes my household and others to hold onto these things? I think maybe it’s a bit of both. Part of me just doesn’t want to deal with fixing the problem. Another part can’t help thinking that I spent good money to get this particular item. Maybe it still has some life left. Maybe that’s an excuse but it is a compelling one. Whatever the reason, it would still be nice to have a working pen when I need one.
“You are being modest,” Linvin chided. “Your bank is the foremost lending house in the world. I know for a fact that Valia obtains loans from you. I imagine many other countries do as well. You have become enormously wealthy by lending my family’s money.”
“Such is the nature of banking,” Gredly interjected. He squirmed as though his seat had become slippery.
Linvin smiled in a wicked fashion. “Look at you. You are terrified that tomorrow morning I will come to your bank and wish to withdraw all of my assets, are you not? The greatest bank in the world would collapse in one day. That is why you are here right now.”
“Is that your intent? Is that why you brought me over here?” fumed Gredly.
“Well, that depends,” Linvin said while putting his pipe down.
“On what?” asked Gredly cautiously.
Linvin turned in one quick motion and swept every paper from his desk onto Gredly. “That depends on how you explain this mountain of unpaid invoices from vendors. My store and warehouse are half empty and it is because venders were not being paid in a timely fashion, if at all! We have lost precious suppliers that we may not get back so that you could hold onto the money due them. Your shortsighted greed would have my company bankrupt within three years. Where would your precious deposits be then?”
Gredly had a look of astonishment as he heard the knowledge Linvin possessed. “Mr. Grithinshield, it was your father who paid your venders and it is not our responsibility if those who managed your finances in his stead did so irresponsibly.”
“Do not take me for a fool, Mr. Gredly. Such large payments to venders go from bank to bank. You sit covered in papers saying the proper authorization signature is not present to pay this invoice. Please resubmit. You sat on money due to my company’s vendors, my company’s friends! Then you have the gall to blame our bookkeeping? Do you take me for a fool?”
Gredly bent both knees and folded his hands before him as he prepared to beg. “Please, Lord Grithinshield, please forgive our foolishness. We have wronged your family and your company. Do not let this minor transgression end what has been a lucrative coupling of your business and ours.”
Linvin took up his pipe again and kept repeating the words 'minor transgression' in his mind. He sat down and composed himself. “If I were to close our accounts with you, Sartan’s economy would be in ruin overnight. Ruin is not good for business.”
The old man began to smile.
“I am not finished,” Linvin continued, “I will not destroy you, but neither will you leave this room unscathed.”
Gredly bowed his head and said, “You may, of course, name your terms.
Linvin observed an old elf leaving the town pub down the
street. He had a slight limp, which he normally worked hard to
disguise. On that evening, he was in a hurry and noticeably
favored one leg.
“I say,” Linvin called out. “You were in the pub a little later
than usual, Elzer. Night is nearly upon us and not a lamp is lit in
the whole town. Your duties are in need of tending.”
“I know,” he answered while grabbing his special pole for the
task. “Drinks were two for one, and I forgot about the time.”
Linvin picked up his cup and sipped. The tea was cold. He had
not realized how much time had passed while he was on the
balcony. “Do not worry, Elzer. Time can go by rather quickly
when one is busy.”
Elzer stopped below Number 7. “Mr. Grithinshield, my kind sir,
the wife will tie me to the trunk if I’m late getting home. You
know how she disapproves of spirits. And I was wondering
if…you know…you could.” Elzer waved his hand in a circle.
Linvin broke out laughing at the sight of the pantomime. Elzer
appeared desperate. “You needn’t but do it this once, sir. I promise
I won’t never ask another thing from you so long as I live. But that
won’t be long if’n the missus finds out I’ve dipped my bill.”
Linvin composed himself and said while chuckling, “Well, I
could not allow a fellow gent to get in that kind of trouble. Hold
on.” He stepped away from the rail for a moment and returned
with the staff that the Red Sapphire called home. He held it aloft,
and it turned a fiery red. Pointing it at one of the lamps, he released
a bolt of magic that struck the wick. The red magic rapidly flew
from one light to the next until all of them were burning.
“You’re an angel,” Elzer cried. “I’ll have the wife bake you a
pie for this, sir. Your fav’rit is cherry-berry isn’t it?”
Linvin laughed and nodded. “Cherry-berry it is,” he answered.
Elzer nodded back and ran down the street.
Linvin turned his attention to the tea he was holding. His
eyebrows wrinkled as he concentrated. Soon his hand lit up with
red magic, and the cup was emerged in a red aura. After a few
moments, he relaxed his face allowing his hand and the steaming
cup to return to their normal colors.
He sipped and looked out over the rail. Dusk turned to night
before his eyes. Storm clouds took place overhead to obscure the
moonlight. The rainy season, it seemed, would pay another visit.
Illumination was left in the hands of the street lamps and lights
shining from houses and trees.
The elves on the lane became fewer and fewer as they returned
home for the evening. Soon there was hardly a soul to be seen. It
was sound, however, that Linvin was noticing. A familiar whistle
was heard from the street behind Linvin’s tree. It became louder
and louder until its source came into view. The plump town
constable was strolling down Oak Street and was making his turn
at Number 7 to travel Spruce Lane.
He was not an imposing figure in any way other than his
weight. The squat constable enjoyed his meals often and in great
quantities. His uniform was shabby and barely concealed his belly.
He was a poor excuse for a law enforcement officer, but he was
sufficient for the sleepy town of Missandor.
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...