Today “Take of the Bookworm” blog was kind enough to give me a guest post today on their site. I get a chance to talk about my background and my writing. Check it out here at http://talesofabookworm.weebly.com As always, enjoy the read!
“And who might you be that the great Gramlick would send
you in his stead?” Mandrean inquired.
“I am General Tathbar, my lord. I am his number two…his
“I am familiar with the concept of a number two, Tathbar. You
are insolent as I recall, but Gramlick must see something in you.
So go ahead, give me the report for the Western province.”
Tathbar swallowed hard and spoke at first with a high-pitched
voice. “Economically, there have been two years in a row of poor
harvests. With the Empire counting so heavily on this region for
food as well as taxes, there has been a deficit in food production
“The farmers are being hurt and desperately need help in
subsidies. What’s more, areas of marginal soil, which were farmed
every other year, have been pressed into service. The result is soil
depletion and low yields. Our analysts estimate that those lands
need to lie fallow for a minimum of two years with subsides paid
to the farmers to assure the land is left to regenerate.”
Though the statement was dry, Mandrean managed to sift
through it and find the implications. “So you’re suggesting that I
should pay more money to the farmers who are producing less so
that they don’t have to work as hard?”
Tathbar held up one palm and said, “I think you fail to see the
bigger picture here, Sire…”
Mandrean began to rage. “I fail nothing. You tell those lazy
peasants that they not only need their normal contribution this
season but must also pay what they were short from last year.
Their excuses will not be tolerated.”
“With all due respect, My Lord, no order can increase harvests.
They produce all they can, but they can only reap what the land
grows. The price of flour is rising and looks to go higher. Only
drastic action will avoid starvation and migration to the territory.”
Economics were, in large part, lost on Mandrean. He had no
skill or interest in the field. His rationalizations on the subject were
often crude and harsh. Even with that being the case, he was
prudent enough to seek council.
“What sort of action do you suggest?” the emperor inquired as
thoughts of peasant rebellions flashed through his mind.
Tathbar knew his answer would not be liked by his master and
stuttered as he gave it. “Well…we have found…a large grain
reserve in the region that could be dispersed to alleviate the
situation. Prices would stabilize and the relatively higher prices
would enable tax payments and field rotation by the farmers.”
Mandrean listened to what sounded like the perfect solution and
smiled until his skeptical side began to ponder. “And what is this
reserve you speak of?”
Tathbar paused and then responded quickly, “The stores the
Legions have amassed over the last few years for the invasion of
“Out of the question,” Mandrean fired. “Our forces will need
those supplies for the prolonged offensive.”
“My lord, there is no way to invade any time soon. In the last
two years, our legions have been depleted by nearly two divisions.
We are in no condition to attack anyone. The grain disbursement
would only make use of resources being unused. In two years we
could be in a position to attack but not now.”
Mandrean was seething. “Two years? What kind of general do
you fashion yourself? And why have you allowed my armies to
erode? Gramlick would never allow this.”
“Sire, we have been hit hard by desertions. Morale is poor, and
it is due in large part to the terrible defeat in the Valley of Broken
Soldiers. We lost over a division there from my province alone.”
“Valley of Broken Soldiers? That area is called Trader’s Alley.”
“The men, Sire. They renamed it after our defeat at the hands of
Mandrean jumped to his feet. His anger blocked the pain it
caused. “Guards.” Four guards surrounded the general and began
to whip him. The once crisp uniform was quickly torn apart and
soaked in blood. He covered his face, but there was no salvation
for the rest of his body.
Once the screams were loud enough and everyone had
witnessed the example, Mandrean waved off the tormenters. He sat
back into his throne and addressed the crowd.
“For those of you who may have forgotten, that name will not
be spoken in my presence by anyone.” Silence followed. “Return
this general to his quarters until he is prepared to apologize.” Two
guards dragged the general away.
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.”
Necromancer lifted his eyebrows and the shackles on the party disappeared as though they were never there. Then he pointed to a bench. “Sit and do not move. You will know when I want you.” As the elves sat where they were told, Necromancer walked with great anticipation toward the throne. He turned and stood before the seat to the right of the seat of power and watched the people take their places.
Linvin casually flipped to the final balance line on the ledger and tried hard not to look impressed. “Let me start by saying that I do not recall any bad times you had to endure with my family, but no matter. When I was a young lad, your bank was rather small, was it not?”
Gredly reluctantly nodded. “We were not as big as we are today, that is true.”
Linvin looked through some papers on the desk. “Yes, I believe you were the fifth largest bank in Fraylic out of the six in town when my father began this business. Times certainly have changed.”
Again Gredly nodded. “We have done well over the years.”
“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 morningI 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.”
I have the honor of being on 2 blogs today. The first actually posted yesterday but my blog was already up. It is an interview on Michael Scifan’s site. I always try to make my interviews a little different than the last so it’s not so repetitive. Its link is http://www.michaelscifan.us/interview-with-rival-gates/ The second one is a permanent posting on Victoria H. Loren’s site of featured authors. The link is http://bit.ly/1OrT0nA You have to scroll down a bit to find me but I am there with all of my books. I wish to thank both these author’s for giving me valuable space on their blogs. Enjoy the reads!
Anvar was in tremendous pain but still had his wits about him.
“Officer Acreas, you can put the spear away now. I can walk very
little, and I have no use of my arms or my magic. It would be safe
to say that I am not a flight risk at this time.”
“The name is Commander Acreas, if you please,” Acreas
demanded. “I suppose the spear is unnecessary at the moment. It
was more for show and intimidation. I sense no fear from you.”
“Why should I fear at this time?” Anvar asked bluntly. “Even
with my advanced healing abilities, my wounds would have taken
my life if I had not been treated. Not only did I receive care but I
was fed as well. One does not do those things for someone they
plan to run through with a spear. Lord Mandrean has other uses for
me that require me being alive. So let us dispense with the pointy
objects. I will come without trouble.”
Acreas pulled the spear away. “My research said you were the
logical one in the group. Your logic makes sense to me.”
As they emerged from the jail to enter the courtyard of the
palace, Anvar addressed his escort again. “Research? I am
surprised the Commander of the imperial guard would research
someone like me.”
“Knowing your enemy is the best way to defeat him. I have
studied you and your family for that purpose. I have, however,
paid particular attention to your nephew Linvin Grithinshield. His
body of work is immense and required a good deal of analysis. I
have memorized his background, commerce and battlefield tactics.
If I could set my hatred of him aside for a moment, I might
actually respect his abilities. Every battle he has fought has been
against superior forces and every time, he has won. Whether he
was in Valia, the Territory or the Valley of Broken Soldiers where
he last fought, Grithinshield has used everything from the cover of
night to the morning mist and even the geography to his advantage.
He is a worthy opponent.”
“I had no idea Lord Mandrean’s commander furnished him with
such detailed information,” Anvar noted. “Perhaps it will help him
in the oncoming fight with Linvin.”
“Help him?” repeated Acreas. “Why in Lavacia would I ever
want to help my hopeless father?”
Anvar stopped and looked at him in complete surprise. “You
are Lord Mandrean’s son and heir?”
“You are partially right,” Acreas said as he shoved Anvar to
continue his march. “I am his son though my legitimacy is in
question, at least in his eyes.”
Anvar became confused. “If Mandrean is your father, than
why would you not want to help him against his biggest rival? He
must think something of your abilities to have advanced you to
such a prestigious position.”
“We loath one another,” Acreas confessed. “For two years
he has sent me into every cauldron of death so that I may meet my
own but instead I returned again and again victorious. I earned this
rank just like one day I will earn the chance to be emperor. Then
Linvin will be my adversary. When that day comes, I will know
everything about Grithinshield. I will finally be able to repay him
for this.” Acreas pointed to a long scar above his eye.
“Linvin did that to you?” Anvar asked.
“He did indeed during your flight from Marinhalk. Surely he
mentioned it to you.”
Anvar shook his head. “I do not recall any story about an
encounter with you. Knowing Linvin as I do, if that was your only
damage then it must not have been much of a fight.”
Acreas’ voice became bitter. “He dispatched me without even
making an effort. Only his expedience to escape allowed me to
survive. Much has changed since then. I have matured. When my
day comes, I will know how to handle your nephew.”
As they walked, Bander was the first to question Linvin. “So what happened after we separated?”
Linvin held the staff like a walking stick as he looked at the ground and tried to remain humble. “I overpowered the guards in the tower and descended into the torture room where Hugon was about to end Miri’s suffering. I surprised him and turned his own whip against him. I kept circling around and delivering blow upon blow. At one point I even threw salt in his wounds. Finally, I ran him through with a blazing poker from a fire-pit nearby.”
“Where was Miri during all of this?” Anvar inquired.
“She was chained to a torture rack where she was simultaneously being stretched at her limbs and stabbed by spikes rising from the table.”
Anvar shook his head. “So you went back to save her, knowing every guard in the palace was after you. Then you intentionally took your time punishing Hugon for his mistreatment of you while the woman you went to save was suffering and near death. You could have killed Hugon in less time than it took for me to describe that situation. 166
Because you wanted revenge, she suffered longer and I would wager you probably had more guards to fight than you would have had if you had handled your business and left. Am I correct?”
Linvin sighed. He thought for a moment about justifying his choice of actions but quickly abandoned the notion. It would be better to accept the critique and move on with the story. “Yes,” he acknowledged. “I could have killed Hugon more quickly. I was thinking more about making him suffer than I was about how Miri was suffering. The extra time did allow the guards to track me down. It was a mistake and I admit to having erred.
“After I freed Miri, some brazen young man stopped me on the stairs and attempted to prevent my escape. I threw him aside and climbed to the top floor of the tower. There I found the staff and my Father’s possessions. With an endless stream of guards climbing behind me, the only way to go was up. I ascended to the battlements of the tower and was cornered there. Then the staff and Red Sapphire began to draw toward one another. I inserted the gem in the staff and a storm of magic appeared around. During the mayhem, the Red Sapphire told me I could fly. So that is exactly what I did. You know the story from there.”
“So you talk to the Red Sapphire?” Bander asked with excitement.
“We do not exactly talk,” Linvin responded. “It is more of a telepathic connection. The gem is a living being in some ways similar to Falconfeather.”
“You took unnecessary risks for the sake vengeance,” Anvar reminded. “Though you came out victorious, you would be wise to note your error in judgment and not repeat it in the future.” Anvar paused and watched the sunken expression from his nephew. Then he added. “However, you have accomplished your goal and I cannot think of another person who could have done all of 167
that. You have reason for being proud this day. Just do not let it get the better of you.”
With his story told, Linvin longed to hear from the others. “So what did you three do after we separated?” Linvin asked.
“We followed your orders,” Anvar stated simply.
Bander, on the other hand, showed no restraint. “It was amazing.” he exclaimed. “The hole in the wall was right where you told us. So we snuck through it and were right by the stables of the Imperial Guard. Uncle Anvar did that fire thing with his hands and all the straw went up in smoke. Rander and I opened the gate for the horses and the fire sent them running everywhere. While the guards tried to stop the horses we snuck behind the barracks and Uncle Anvar torched that too. He was magnificent. The streets filled with people running everywhere. We ran amongst the crowd and headed for the outskirts of town. When no one was paying attention, Uncle Anvar would set another building on fire. Soon there were fires everywhere and we just ran.
“When we reached the messenger stables Rander and me, we killed two of the guards and the others were cut down by our uncle without trouble. Then we saddled five horses like you said and scattered the others from the stable. We rode for our lives. It was really something to see. You would have been so proud of us, Linvin.”
“The name’s Iron Hand. At least, that’s what I’m called out here. We are the best loggers in all of Sartan. That’s why we got sent so far into nowhere to cut these trees. They’re worth good money, if we can ever get the logs out of here.”
“What’s stopping you?” asked Rander.
“See,” Iron Hand continued. “We’ve been up here for a while. The plan was for us to chop the wood. Then a couple times a month, wagons would come up with supplies for us and haul away the logs. Problem is, those Trogos are messing with the plans. They killed two of my men already and chased off the wagons the last two times they came. So here we sit, with our wood rotting and no food except for a few pots of beans.”
“You seem well stocked with drink,” noted Anvar.
Iron Hand looked back at the kegs. “Oh, those,” he said. “Yeah, we provide all the wood for that distillery to make their barrels. It’s hard wood to come by and fetches a good price. They wanted to pay us for it, but we decided to take our money in trade instead. Right, boys?” The men raised their mugs and cheered. “So we have lots of wood, lots of drink and we’re stuck out here waiting to be the Trogos' dinner. The men will hardly leave the camp anymore.”
“Can you hunt them and rid yourselves of the problem?” Linvin asked.
Iron Hand took another generous drink and answered, “With what? It’s pretty hard to hunt with axes.”
The thought inspired Linvin. He turned to his relatives and whispered. For several moments the woodmen watched as the elves talked amongst themselves. At last, Linvin regarded Iron Hand again. “Perhaps we can help one another.”
“How’s that?” asked Iron Hand as he sat back.
“Let us rest here and share what food you have,” Linvin offered. “Once the rain stops, we will hunt some game with our bows. We will give some of it to you and your men and we will take some with us for the road.”
“What about the Trogos?” asked their host.
“If we see any, we will only be too glad to kill them,” affirmed Linvin.
Iron Hand stroked his beard for a moment. “Well,” he concluded, “we can’t be any worse off than we are now. You have a deal Mr. Linvin.” The two parties shook hands. “But tonight,” continued Iron Hand, “we drink!” The men cheered the arrangement and gathered around the fire with their drinks. They indoctrinated the newcomers to their group with a slew of drunken songs.
Today the good folks at “The Howling Turtle” were kind enough to give me a guest post. I wrote a little piece you might find of interest. You can check it out at http://howlingturtle-pdx.blogspot.com/ enjoy the read!
The wait was short as a knock came from the door. A voice
followed from the other side. “Sire. It is Fendri. May I approach?”
“Enter,” Mandrean replied.
A rather plain looking fellow entered the room. He had a simple
quality, which bespoke of being even tempered. There was nothing
of note about him physically. Although he wore an outfit that
clearly placed him as a servant, his threads were laced with gold
and decorated tastefully with small jewels.
“I see you are taking to the wardrobe I ordered for you,”
Mandrean noted with an approving nod.
“The clothes are most appreciated, my lord. But they seem to be
a bit much for me. Do they not seem to be too ornate for your
“They do not,” Mandrean answered. “Your position in this
palace is demanding of respect. You will wear clothing in that
“Accept my gratitude once more, lord.”
Mandrean rolled over to the edge of his bed and drew his
power-rod from its resting place. From its far end protruded the
Blue Sapphire. It was the wicked equal of the Red Sapphire in
every way. Mandrean was the perfect master to wield the stone.
His twisted, ambitious personality meshed perfectly with the
mandate of the gem. That mandate was to prove that evil was
stronger than good and that a single person with great power could
He spun the rod in his hands. As he stared at the gem, he asked,
“Are my territorial governors here for our meeting?”
“As you had commanded.”
“Are they waiting in my court?”
“As you commanded, Sire.”
“Excellent, Fendri. Tell them I will arrive shortly and then wait
for me by my throne.”
Fendri bowed and turned to leave.
“And one more thing,” Mandrean added, “on your way see the
master-at-arms and have four of the top soldiers from the imperial
guard assigned to guard my quarters, immediately.”
“Of course, my emperor. Shall I have the ones out there now
Mandrean squeezed the rod. A blue aura surrounded him for a
moment and then passed.
“There are no guards to reassign,” Mandrean said as he pulled
his feet from the water. Fendri was confused but did not question
his master. He bowed again and opened the door to leave.
As soon as he left the room, he saw two small piles of ash on
either side of the door. Fendri looked at them curiously at first. It
seemed strange that he had not noticed them upon his entrance to
the room. In a moment, his expression turned to horror when he
realized what the mounds represented.
He cast a frightened look back into the room. Mandrean
gingerly stepped to the door and looked at the ash. “I do not take
kindly to being anyone’s amusement.”
Fendri swallowed hard and walked briskly away. Mandrean
only smiled and closed the door.
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...