A.B. Funkhauser has done a feature on me and my new book “Mandrean Revenge” today on her blog. There is an interview and a lengthy excerpt from the book. Have a look at it at http://abfunkhauser.com/2015/07/14/back-with-more-author-rival-gates-and-mandrean-revenge/ and enjoy the read!
“Linvin, step forward,” Mandrean ordered. Releasing his uncle’s hand, Linvin boldly walked into the middle of the map on the floor and harshly threw the nearby pawns out of the way. He stood with his hands on his hips and a furious expression on his face.
The emperor observed him for a moment. “Hmmm. Somehow I thought you would appear more impressive. No matter.”
Mandrean began reading aloud from the scroll. “An assassin was dispatched to Valia. When he arrived Linvin had already left. He did, however, learn a great deal about our distinguished guest. After studying with Sedemihcra for a number of years, Linvin joined the Valian Army. He served with distinction and advanced through the ranks at an unprecedented rate. The half-elf Sedemihcra called his Greatest Student Ever became Supreme Commander of the Combined Armies of Valia.
“For years we had sent armaments to the Swamp Goblins in the Southern Marshes in hopes of destabilizing Valia. Despite all our efforts including training their warlords, the man you see before you checked us at every turn with meager resources. At one point the goblins even managed to lay siege to the capital, but Grithinshield dealt them a crushing blow with a minimal force at his command. In all he won over a dozen major battles and earned the honorary title ‘Defender of Valia’. After winning three startling victories to completely crush the largest invasion attempt to date, Grithinshield abandoned his men and resigned his commission.”
Mandrean looked at Linvin in disgust. “You were at the peak of your power and you quit? It says here King Hardurian even offered to adopt you as a son and make you his heir. Even then you refused and asked to be discharged. For a man who is reported to be a genius on the battlefield, you certainly have no grasp of politics.”
Linvin remained silent in his rage, not seeking to indulge the inferior man addressing his character. The twins gazed at Linvin in awe. They’d never fully realized the scope of his accomplishments.
Mandrean continued. “By the way. It says here they just completed your statue when my man left Valia. It depicts you on horseback with a sword in one hand and pointing with the other as though you were giving orders. The statue is on a pedestal in the City Square. The whole thing sounds a little ostentatious for my taste but I suppose some people need their ego stroked more than others. Pity you will never see it.”
Turning his eyes to the scroll once again Mandrean read aloud. “So you left Valia and returned home just prior to my spy’s arrival. With you back in Fraylic there could be no doubt the staff and key were in Grithinshield Manor. Linvin established himself at the head of the Grithinshield commercial empire and entered Society. Even during a gala held at the estate, our agents could not search the grounds thoroughly. We needed someone inside.
“It was about that time Linvin moved out and opened a store in Missandor of Sartan’s Elvin County.
Eventually one of the assassins was hired on to the house staff at Grithinshield Manor where she began looking for the items. Once they were located, it was decided his mother must die so as not to alert anyone of their theft. Without wanting to attract attention, it was decided to slowly poison her so her death would look natural. In the confusion of her demise it would be possible to confiscate the items and bring them to me.
“When she finally passed on, however, the staff and key were gone. Her only visitor since the items were last seen was Anvar Greenlith. After ransacking his home the assassins followed the next logical link in the chain. They paid a visit to Missandor to find Linvin Grithinshield. When they arrived, his tree was unoccupied. Another search ensued and nothing was found. A local elf mentioned they’d left town heading south and so the team did so as well. After finding no other reference to their trek to the south they turned north to the next nearest relative, Caritha Greenlith and her pathetic sons Bander and Rander.
“They’d guessed right. Linvin and Anvar had indeed gone there. They recruited the Greenlith boys and set out for the Territory. My agents once again just missed their query. It was clear from local accounts and the information the team already knew the quartette was searching for the Red Sapphire. Necromancer told me one of the uses of the staff was to lead its owner to the gem. Since I had the prize in my possession it would only be a matter of time before the staff and key were brought to me. I recalled the assassins and alerted everyone between here and Sartan of a bounty on you…alive.”
Linvin pointed directly at the area labeled 'AVOID' and asked, “Are these the Demon Marshes to which you referred?”
Newminor looked and chuckled to himself. “Avoid, how cute. Well, I suppose that gets the point across, doesn’t it? Those are indeed the Demon Marshes, and not even the bravest souls dare journey near.”
“What is it that scares you so?” Bander asked innocently.
Newminor smoothly spread his arms apart and corrected the elf. “Hey! I am not scared of anything.” He paused for a moment and looked at the map. His eyes grew large as he stared at the region. “I simply see no need to go looking for trouble, and entering that area invites trouble.”
Never one to pick up on subtleties, Bander continued his probe. “Then what sort of trouble would one get into if they went there?”
Newminor looked at each member of Linvin’s company in disbelief. “You know, when I said you folks were out here without a clue, I was just having fun at your expense, but you really know nothing about anything outside Sartan, do you?” Before anyone could respond he continued, “Well, that speaks pretty poorly of your nation. They think they are so powerful and mighty, yet their own people are ignorant of what lies beyond their borders. How sad. This probably isn’t even your map, is it? Let me guess, you took it from the goblins and can’t interpret the symbols. I can’t believe I even let such a pathetic bunch come to my aid. In the future, I must be more choosey with my associates.” He strode over to the fire and tasted the stew cooking. Then he took a slice of jerkyand lay down on his blanket.
Linvin showed controlled irritation. “My good Newminor, your flagrant insults are indeed distracting, but you have once again spoken volumes without answering the question placed before you. So please relent with the sarcasmand answer my cousin’s question. To this point, you have been amusing, but the time has come for plain talk. Tell us about the Demon Marshes or pack your bags and leave.”
Newminor stopped chewing like his jaw had stopped working and swallowed the meat in his mouth nearly whole. He was surprised and impressed at Linvin’s ability to control his temper and stay on task.
“Very well, Elf-Man,” Newminor said. “Centuries ago, before the written word and the nations of our day, there were the Dark Ages. There was no unity among men or elves or anyone, other than goblins. The savage beasts prayed fervently to their demon gods, who aided them in the rape of the world. For an untold number of years, their madness and destruction reigned supreme.
“Details of their undoing are unknown, as no records were kept. Legend has it that a climactic battle took place in a great valley. The battle raged as the tide shifted back and forth, with the fate of the world at stake. Despite insurmountable odds, the goblins and their demon masters were defeated by the narrowest of margins. The remaining goblins were vanquished to the Goblin Nations in the north and the Great Southern Marshes near Valia. Their masters, however, could not be killed. They were instead imprisoned in the Demon Marshes. Their greatest source of power was said to come from the prayers of those who worshiped them.
“For that reason, the goblins were told by the victors that their gods had been slain. Separated from the faithful by mountains and great distance, the demons remained weak in their watery prison, preying only on the foolhardy that entered their realm.
“It is said that the loss of life in the final battle was so horrific that the loved ones of the dead wept uncontrollably. Their tears of sorrow united and washed over the dead but did not allow them to float. The storm of tears filled the valley and washed away all evidence of the massacre. It also flooded the prison of the demon gods and added to their hatred of man and his allies. The body of water created was the Sorrowful Sea.
“It is also said that, from time to time, a demon will escape the Marshes for a time and roam the lake, but they are bound to the marsh and always return. In their stead, they are rumored to control various sea monsters created from their dead servants, who roam the sea and do their bidding.
There are many things on my pet peeve list. Many of them are common sense: waste, poor manners, senseless killing, poor sportsmanship and so forth. Other items are more personal: people who use their horns too much in traffic (like it makes anyone go faster), family members using up all the data on my phone plan when I don’t get a chance to use it, people using all the hot water when they know I’m going to take a shower, people who park over the yellow line and take two parking spaces because they either are terrible parkers or think their vehicle is more important than anyone else’s, waiting for rebate checks to be mailed to me, getting rainchecks at the grocery store and especially waiting for an extended period. Now I’m not talking about a long line at the checkout counter. I mean really having to wait an abnormally long time. Let’s take three examples. So my lawnmower is broken. It happens. I took it into the repair shop and I’m told it will be a week. The grass needs to be cut so I call a service. More on that in a minute. A week passes and I hear nothing. I call and the person at the repair shop says they will call me in the next day or two. They called a week later with an estimate. They hadn’t even started working on it yet! I understand being busy but why tell me 1 week when that wouldn’t even be close? I approve the estimate and they say it will be ready in 3 days. That was a week ago. They have now had my mower 3 weeks and I can’t get hold of anyone to find out if it’s done yet. The lawn mowing company I hired mowed the lawn the first week. They didn’t do a great job but it was mowed. The second week came and I waited…and waited…and for the heck of it, I waited some more. I am still waiting. Lions could stalk antelope in my grass, it’s that tall! It has been two weeks since the last cutting. I called the company but only get a machine. That’s frustrating. Yesterday I had two routine doctor’s appointments 2 ½ hours apart. I showed up for the first one 15 minutes early and waited. There was no one else in the waiting room. Then it started to fill up. At least 12 people were crammed in this little room with me. Then they slowly started to take the other people back before me. I tried not to be frustrated because I didn’t have all the information but I couldn’t understand why people waiting less time went in first. After an hour and a half I was called back. They took my vitals and sent me to a second waiting room with everyone else. Finally I saw patients going into and out of the doctor’s office. I thought I had planned it so well. I would see this doctor, get some lunch and have some time to hang out before my second doctor’s appointment. Now it was 15 minutes before my other appointment and it took 20 minutes to get there if I hit all the green lights. So I marched up to the receptionist and asked how many people were still in front of me. She said 5. I told her I had to run but I would be back after my other appointment. I made most of the green and yellow lights and arrived for my second appointment 5 minutes late. That was ok. After that was over I drove back and waited again at the first place where they had just passed my name on their list. They finally got me in after another half an hour. The appointment lasted 5 minutes. There were no apologies or explanations. What a day. Who would have thought waiting could be so tiring.
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.
“How about that plan?” Rander asked impatiently. “Is there one?”
Linvin surveyed the grand area and answered, “No time to explain. Just do as I do.” He led his uncle and cousins along the hall toward the tapestry. Soon they took shelter behind its massive width.
Clanking of armor was heard in great numbers coming from the far hallway. On the ground floor the guards from the outside stairs entered the room and were joined by a host of others. They ran with haste toward the great staircase. Moments later the great double doors to the throne-room blasted open from the Colorful Magic of Necromancer. Though Linvin’s party was safely distant, the situation became that much direr.
“This is your plan?” asked Rander. “Hide behind a rug? They already know we are here and are coming. Can’t you do anything else with that gem at all? Where’s all the great power we heard about? We are trapped in this hallway. You have no way out. We are all doomed.”
Linvin paid little attention to the complaints. He concentrated instead on the progress of the guards coming up the stairs, the ones emerging from the far hallway and the rapidly growing group from the throne-room. His gaze shifted around the three approaching enemies as he gauged their rate of closure. Without breaking his concentration Linvin spoke firmly to his uncle. “When this is over and we are free, reminded me to beat the life out of Rander.” Anvar simply nodded in an effort not to affect Linvin’s thought process.
The guards from below reached the landing on the second level and were ascending the two side stairways. Guards took up positions at the two ends of the hall and were slowly advancing from equal distances.
Anvar finally spoke. “I can take out a few but I cannot channel enough magic for this fight.”
“Save your magic. We will need it soon. Now everyone climb onto the railing. Use the tapestry to brace yourselves.” His bewildered family did as they were told and were soon balancing on the rail. “Alright, then. Follow my lead.” Linvin placed the Red Sapphire in his pocket and stabbed his short sword through the tapestry. Then he jumped off the railing. The sword slowed his descent as it sliced through the very fiber of Mandrean bravado. Following suit, Anvar and the twins dove in a similar manor and slid down the backside of the wall hanging.
The soldiers on the stairs were in such a hurry to climb the steps that steel blades sliding down the tapestry went unnoticed. In the hallway the guards were awestruck by the spectacle and did little more than watch as their adversary escaped.
Once Linvin and the others reached the ground he led them in a race for the grand entrance. After they cleared the front of the staircase all the men could see what became of their foe. Though only moments passed, the guards on the top took an inordinate amount of time to cry out the location of Linvin’s band. All eyes turned to see them crossing the center of the room and nearing the exit. Immediately the soldiers on the stairs turned and stumbled back down the way they’d come.
It was time for Linvin’s masterstroke. He held up his fist and the party stopped. Then he turned and regarded the majestic work of art, which had been formed into a staircase. “Anvar,” he said calmly. “That needs to be gone…now.” Anvar nodded and stretched forth his hands. Concentrating longer than they had ever seen him do before, Anvar built up such an aura of orange magic that a sphere glowed around his body. All at once he released the energy just as the first guards returned to the second floor landing. The wave of magic struck the stairs with a thunderclap as they exploded sending stone and men alike hurtling through the air. Those on the top level were cut off from their main access to the first floor and Linvin.
Today instead of posting an excerpt as usual, I would like to pay homage to a most significant yet somehow forgotten author. His name was Thomas Jefferson. Out of the Continental Congress it was Jefferson who was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. Other founding fathers had input on the document but it was Jefferson who did the heavy lifting. It was not an enviable task. It was his job to articulate the body’s opinions and then have them critiqued and torn apart by the same body of men. Imagine how he must have felt, sitting at his desk for weeks with a quill in hand trying to find the proper words to say to England that would tell them that the Colonies were rebelling against their masters. The words had to be strong yet levelheaded. He didn’t want to come off sounding like a Virginia farmer but this was no flowery work of Shakespeare either. Add the expectations of the congress to the mix and you can see that he had no simple task writing that sheet of paper. Even under all that pressure, he created a masterpiece, which has resonated through time. Few documents have ever captured a moment in history so eloquently. Can you imagine what the response must have been when this was read in the court of King George III in England? There must have been outrage, to be sure. Deep down, maybe, just maybe someone in the room silently found the words stirring or was moved by the impassioned cry from across the waves. Perhaps that’s too much to hope for but it must have made an impression. Jefferson did not come by the words entirely on his own. Other members of the congress helped in a 5 man committee. As a educated man, Jefferson read many documents and strung together some crucial ideas along the way. He believed that all men were created equal and that they were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are the ideas that really stick out in the minds of people when asked about the Declaration of Independence. Those are the words at the heart of America. He may not have been the most prolific writer but at least in this case, Jefferson got it right. And to think, he did it all without “spell check.” Bravo Mr. Jefferson. The congress adopted the Declaration on July 4, 1776 which formally set the wheels of revolution in motion. Over two-hundred years later that author is at the heart of the reason so many of the people reading this have the day off from work. I guess one author can make a huge difference in the world. To my American friends, enjoy the holiday!
The good people at Katie’s Corner Blog were kind enough to have me do a guest post on their site. Be sure to read my article about writer’s block. They featured me and my books. Check it out at http://crasyabout.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-promo-guest-post-mandrean-revenge.html Happy reading!
“No,” cried Necromancer. “What have you done, Mordane?
This fabric is sacred.” He took it over by the water basin and
rinsed it. The wine was coming out, but the wizard was still
Meanwhile, Mordane was picking himself up off the ground.
“What was that all about?” he asked while confirming all his teeth
had remained intact.
Necromancer made the rag glow with magic. Steam rose
quickly leaving the material dry in moments. He held it up to the
light and stared at the very fibers.
“This is the only remaining piece of Gallatrium’s cloak. I hope
for your sake you did not ruin it.”
“Do I know this Gallatrium?”
“You have much to learn, young one. This is old. It is a story
far older than written records. It is older than history itself. Long
before the many dark ages when the world was young, there was a
wise man that had been particularly blessed by his creator. His
name was Gallatrium and instead of world power, he chose to be a
simple farmer living with his family in solitude. He could have
been the greatest man to ever live but wanted nothing from his
power other than to care for his family.
“There were no other souls near his land save for he and his
four children. The one time he gave into temptation to use his
power for personal gain the creator took his wife from the world.
Thus, he lived a simple life and sought neither fame nor adulation.
He chose to protect his offspring from greed and the world around.
No harm could possibly come to them on his farm. He gave them
all that any father could give his children.
“As Gallatrium’s offspring grew in age, they also grew in
curiosity. Increasingly they yearned to see what the mysterious
world had to offer. Gallatrium warned them of the evils they would
find if they were to leave his house and forbade their departure. He
cautioned that leaving his house would mean he could no longer
protect and watch over them. The world was a cruel and deceptive
place for which they were not prepared.
“His stories only served to raise the children’s interest. The
outside being forbidden made it doubly intriguing. And so, one
night the four children of Gallatrium conspired to leave home in
four separate directions. They planned to walk until the sun rose
and then return to tell their father of their adventure.
“At the appointed time, they noticed that the night had taken on
a strong chill. They donned their cloaks but did not find them
warm enough for the unseasonably cold wind. One took his
father’s cloak for it was warmer than all others. Gallatrium wore it
every day and never felt cold beneath its surface. Jealousy and
envy overcame the other three children regarding the garment and
a fight ensued. When they were finished, their father’s cloak was
torn to shreds on the ground. The children blamed each other and
soon they neared blows. Vowing to never want to see the others
again, they set out on their separate paths. So great was their anger
at the others that they paid no heed to their path.
“When the sun reached the sky, they were in an unfamiliar
world of new things to see and do. By the time they thought of
returning home, they knew not which way to tread. They searched
in vain. Gallatrium’s farm was forever lost to them. Each
wandered aimlessly along in the wicked world. Nearing death,
they stopped searching and started homes of their own.
“When Gallatrium woke that morning after they left, he saw
that his children were gone. He had been hurt as no one could hurt
him. Falling to the floor he sobbed. His tears flowed onto the cloak
and brought out the handprints of his young ones.
“By picking up a piece one had touched, it enabled him to see
the child who had torn that piece of cloth. Though he could do
nothing to help any of them in the terrible times that came to pass
in their lives, he still had to watch as any parent would. To repair
his cloak was as impossible as repairing the relationship amongst
the children. And so he spent his days holding these rags and
watching his children in their successes and failures.
“Without his cloak, the cold north winds beat on him, and his
body aged. In time, he was a shadow of his former greatness, held
up in his desolate abode, with his only comfort being the sight of
his children and their families.”
Mordane had heard every word and was amazed at the story. “Is
it true?” he asked.
Necromancer nodded solemnly. “By the time Gallatrium died,
this one piece was all that remained, and he parted with it only in
“How do you know so much about this?” Mordane asked.
Necromancer smiled his devilish smile and answered, “It was I
that took it from him.”
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...