The new cover for Mandrean Revenge has arrived. It’s a great grasp of the character. Check it out at http://www.rivalgates.com/ If you like it, press the like button. Meanwhile, the editor is still doing first edits. Stay turned.
“General!” cried Victolin. “There is a disturbance in the fog.”
Linvin peered through the glass. The fog was indeed being stirred. With the ever-increasing light, he saw an ocean of pikes pointed at the sky. They moved slowly but deliberately toward Linvin’s line.
“How many would you estimate, Victolin?”
The cavalry leader too, had been watching through his lens. Putting it down, Victolin answered, “Six, maybe seven thousand at most.”
“Not the great host we would expect. Almost what we would be hoping for after two major battles in two days.”
“Sir, we should ride round behind them now and attack from the rear.
“Yes,” Linvin said calmly. “That sounds like the correct move right now, but they are marching too slowly. They must know they outnumber us by a wide margin. Goblins rarely maintain their composure when battle looms. That is especially true when they expect to win. Yet the army we see marches at a snail’s pace. I do not trust it.”
“They may be unsure of their footing in the fog,” Victolin suggested.
“Perhaps,” answered Linvin, “but we will wait all the same.”
The pikes advanced on Linvin’s line. When they were five hundred paces away, their heads came into view. At two hundred paces, their enemy was totally uncloaked. They wore hides fashioned into armor. Their pikes were nearly three times the height of a man. Various secondary weapons were worn at their sides.
Fardar stared at Linvin’s infantry with great intensity and increasing distress. “Why do your archers not fire? They are well within firing range.”
“Patience, Lord Fardar,” Linvin replied calmly. “Their war chief is fishing right now, but I am not biting.”
Soon the goblins were fifty paces away from the line. They lowered their pikes to point at Sculla’s infantry and marched on in a loose phalanx formation.
Sculla himself was positioned in the middle of the front rank. His men stood at attention, awaiting their leader’s command. “Javelins!” Sculla yelled. The men each grasped one of their javelins and on command, hurled the weapon at their enemy.
The salvo was accurate and lethal. Nearly the entire first line of goblins fell in an instant. The next several rows suffered heavy losses as well. Even so, the army pressed on toward the Valian line. At twenty paces, another round of javelins proved even more effective than the first. Goblins fell, screaming in pain. Without shields, they were easy targets. Even with their horrible losses, the goblins reached the line and attacked.
With the goblins’ front lines decimated, the initial contact was only in a few places along the wall of shields, leaving large gaps in the marsh dwellers’ ranks. Feverishly, the goblins struck out again and again with their pikes, but their blows were blunted by the disciplined formation.
Well, it’s been a long time coming. I have waited for this and waited for this for what seems like forever. Now it has finally happened. An editor has been assigned to my book and is working on it now. It’s the hardest part of writing for me. Here you have your baby that you’ve created and you give to another person whose job is to find fault with it. Much of the fault is justified. But sometimes editors can want to rewrite your book. It just all depends who you get. I’m hoping for the best with this one. It’s a solid book. I hope it doesn’t need a lot of corrections. But at least the ball is moving now.
Well, yesterday you are probably aware we had a solar eclipse. I live in Nebraska and could not help but be affected by it. Just examining the event itself, it was one of those celestial moments that comes once in a lifetime. To actually see the sun blotted out by the moon was a phenomenon you really must see to believe. Having seen it live I can say it was magnificent and makes you realize just how small we really are in the universe. But we are a greedy and petty race that takes advantage of our fellow man at every opportunity. And this event was one big opportunity. Special glasses to watch the eclipse were probably .10 to make and retailed originally for a $1. Closer to the event, they were being sold for $10 a pair by the side of the road. Hotel rooms near the prime viewing area were booking for $1000 a night. Farmers had cleared fields and were renting out the space to campers. T-shirt companies had set up shop and were selling shirts right off the press. Even the Chamber of Commerce put out their own t-shirts and was selling them fast. As I saw all of this I could not help but feel it cheapened the whole experience. One of man’s greatest events to witness was sullied by man’s greed. It was sad. Must we commercialize everything? From Santa Clause to fireworks, every major holiday has been capitalized on already. Just once why couldn’t we just enjoy the event.
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.
Rander sat to one side of Linvin and Anvar on the other with Bander further down the bench. “What do you make of that?” Rander whispered.
Linvin watched the room carefully and spoke without turning his head. “I take him at his word. He will kill us for the slightest distraction. That being said, I think he does need us for something. There is no other reason for us to be here.”
He stood by the window with a snifter of brandy. Swirling the container of precious liquor in his hand, he called out, “Jelena, could I at least have some ale instead of this lamp oil you’ve served me?”
“Anvar,” bellowed the woman, “This is an important occasion and I will not have it sullied by serving that swill you and Dirk took such delight in drinking. You are holding the finest brandy in the land. Savor it and let me see to my tasks.”
Anvar inhaled the bouquet and then sipped in a conservative fashion. His face wrinkled slightly. “I honestly do not see why you are making such a fuss, Jelena. After all, it’s just Linvin coming home.”
“Do you see him?” shouted Jelena as she ran to the window.
“No,” laughed Anvar. “I was merely saying that this gala you have prepared seems rather…extravagant for Linvin’s tastes. Would you not agree, sister?”
Jelena stormed over to Anvar. “Having been through this past year with me, I would think you of all people would see a need for celebration. This house has been like a mausoleum since Dirk left. I have one good thing left in this world and that is my son. Is it so wrong to shout to the world that he is home?”
“It could be,” Anvar said before taking a larger drink from his glass. “You know how I feel about this. It is an unwise and unneeded risk. One that may very well get us all killed.”
“The gala will have tight security, I assure you.”
Anvar came face-to-face with her and said with frustration, “You know that I do not speak of the gala. Has time blinded you so that you do not see the impending danger? The risks have not gone away, Jelena. Bringing us together again and announcing it to the world will only compound those risks.”
“Dirk has been gone over a year and there is not the slightest hint of danger. You are paranoid, dear brother. Even if there was a danger, it died with Dirk.”
Anvar struck his forehead in disbelief. “Dirk is not what they wanted! They have just been biding their time. How can you be so ignorant of the impending doom?”
“Because all I can see is my son! He was practically stolen from me as a boy and sent halfway around the world to be raised by strangers. My boy has lived more years away from me than with me and I want him back! I want him home!”
“Even if it costs us all our lives?” Anvar asked as he held his weeping sister.
“I see him!” called a nearby servant.
People always want to know how I come up with a book. The funny part is, I never start out with that as a goal. I start with little nuggets and build around them as far as I can. Sometimes that turns into something substantial and other times it turns into nothing. For example, “Quest for the Red Sapphire” all began with the idea of a sword that held the soul of another living animal with it. From that nugget I had to decide what kind of animal was held within and why. Then I had to create a master for the sword. That took some time. Then I decided to kill off that character and have the sword fall to his son; but not in a conventional sense. So the son, Linvin, had to be created. The longer I worked, the more his story grew. Then I needed someone to restrain his youthful exuberance. It had to be someone to be a tutor and guide to Linvin. Anvar was created and connected to Linvin’s father, Dirk. Then I needed something for them to seek. I discarded rings, amulets, necklaces and the like because they had all been used so much before. I always liked sapphires. The blue ones were spectacular. I envisioned an opposite to it. It only made sense to pick red. Since I was 13 at the time I went to my older brother and asked if there was such a thing as a red sapphire. He responded by saying, “Yeah, it’s called a ruby.” I just smiled. My character would look for a red sapphire instead of a ruby. Now I would need to come up with a story as to why it was a sapphire. That took a whole backstory which would only be eluded to here and there. Then I needed a couple of antagonists to keep the story interesting. Enter cousins Bander and Rander, the biggest pains in the neck I could create. They ride Linvin about every choice he makes. After all that I just needed to put things in order and make a storyline. Soon I found I had a book. All that came from just a little nugget.
My granddaughter is in the next room watching cartoons under the watchful eye of my 16-year-old. I could think of no better time to write my blog. I salute you if you get your book published. You have achieved something millions of others have only dreamed of doing. Now it is my duty to tell you your work is just beginning. It is time to market your book. You can hire a company to do it if you have the money. But you’re never going to see that money again. In the long run, it will still come down to you marketing your book. Here are some different methods: 1) blogs: There are many blogs out there specializing in your type of writing. Every day they need something new to post. Contact them. If you contact enough of them, one is sure to have an opening for an interview, excerpt, blurb, character interview, or article from you. Then they plug your book on their site to all of their readers. 2) You could do a book review. Again, you would proposition the blogs about reading your book in return for an honest review. These are harder to find and usually take a while of waiting in line before they can get to you. In the end, you get a review and stars next to your book on whatever web site you’re selling on currently. 3) Get your books on the shelf of an independent book store. This is really a win for you if you can pull this off. But be careful. You supply the books but the store sets the price. In the end you could end up losing money, as was the case with me. If everything works then see if you can do a book signing. You will need to buy additional books and assorted print materials from a print shop. It’s a great way to meet your audience Also pictures can go up on Facebook and your own web address. There’s nothing new here. I didn’t reinvent the wheel. These are just proven methods of marketing you can do yourself. Good luck to you
Mandrean rose from the bed and spread his arms wide. Fendri recognized the cue and adorned his body with a red velvet robe. After tying the belt, he returned to his tasks.
“You know I do not like being called that, Betrimpia,” Mandrean snapped.
“It is your name, My Lord,” Betrimpia noted. “There are no secrets here, as you said.”
“My name is no secret from Lord Fendri,” Mandrean said as he moved closer. “You have never spoken the truth in your life. Touching as your story is, I have a difficult time picturing you pining for me in your chamber. So let us dispense with your tricks and come to your real reason for ruining my morning.”
Betrimpia pursed her lips and said, “Very well. I was your very first consort. I have been with you since you became a man. Yet for years I have languished in the bowels of your estate being ridiculed by the over-bosomed, energetic young maids you keep at your whim. Every year you seek my companionship less and less. I have paid my dues and now desire what I have earned.”
“What you have earned,” Mandrean interjected, “is a sound thrashing.”
Betrimpia slammed her hand on the bed. “I have earned the right to be your wife. Marry me and make me the Empress I have spent nearly twenty years training to be.”
“Marry you?” scoffed Mandrean. “You have gone insane in your room. I require no empress and even if I chose one, it would certainly not be a conniving plotter like you.”
“Think of your son,” she pled.
Mandrean harshly stuck his finger in her face. Anger erupted from his lips. “For the last time, I have no son. You have an illegitimate child of origins I cannot say.”
Betrimpia shoved his finger aside and stood face-to-face with him. “You know there has never been another besides you. No man could even gain access to the lower chambers. Yet you still deny he is your son. Look at him. He carries your powerful frame and commanding disposition. His aptitudes rival your own and he looks like the man I knew all those years ago. Surely you must see he is of your blood.”
Mandrean sighed and looked toward the window. “I have given your son everything you have ever asked. The finest tutors in the empire have taught him. Philosophers, mathematicians, literary figures, warriors and the finest generals have educated him from birth. He has grown into a fine young man. I can do no more for him.”
“You can be his father,” Betrimpia pled. “Take me as your wife and acknowledge him as your son and heir.”
Mandrean turned to her and smiled like a person who has solved a riddle. “So that’s your game. You just want me to marry you so your son can take the throne. I wonder how long I would live after the nuptials. How long would it take you to poison my wine, or choke me in my sleep?”
“You know I could never do you harm Manenvious. I love you. I always have. If you feel so insecure, keep your whores in the cellar. I would suffer such indignity to make my Love happy.”
“Oh the women will stay,” Mandrean agreed. “You will no sooner be my wife than the sun will rise in the west.”
Betrimpia was visibly hurt by his words and formed tears in her eyes. “If that is what you require from me, I will resign myself to being Concubine Number One. I beg you, do not suffer your son to a life of humiliation. Adopt him as your own and make him your heir.”
“You know I do not believe in proclaiming an heir,” said Mandrean “Once one is named, the person wearing the crown tends to have his life cut short.”
“You would know all about that,” Betrimpia said just loud enough to be heard.
Mandrean’s anger could not be contained as he threw her to the floor. “Are you saying I had a hand in my father’s death?”
Betrimpia feigned terror as she covered her face. “Of course not. I merely was saying his untimely death coincided remarkably well with your reaching the age to attain the throne. No one would ever wish such a fate on you.”
“Such fate is not to be tempted,” Mandrean fumed. “I will name no heir. Even if I were to do so, it would never, ever, be your son.”
Betrimpia crawled on her knees. “So our son is to have no father?”
Mandrean poured a goblet of wine for himself. “Every child has a father. Yours simply does not know who it was that soiled his mother.”
Linvin walked over and picked up one of their bows. It's construction was flimsy and its draw light. “When your enemy is close, a sword becomes your best friend. While a bow is a powerful tool of war, these are little more than toys.” He effortlessly drew the string and released it. “They would never penetrate plate mail.”
Rander was incensed by the insult. “Let us see about that.” He entered the kitchen and returned with a thin metal plate from the stove. He placed it against the outside wall of the hut and walked across the rope bridge, to the next tree. In all, he was roughly twenty paces away. Drawing back the bowstring as far as he could, he sent an arrow into the plate. It pierced the metal and poked just through the other side.
“How about that?” Rander asked with obvious pride.
Linvin looked at the plate and then at his cousin. “What is your point?” Linvin asked. “So you can pierce armor once the person is close enough to charge you. You would be dead, long before your arrow was airborne. If you are trying to impress me, you will have to do better.”
Rander was enraged. “You could do no better.”
Linvin did love a challenge. “We shall see,” he said as he picked up the plate. “Let me show you a real shot.” Linvin climbed down the rope ladder and walked down the street. He stopped roughly one hundred paces away and hung the plate in a tree, using the arrow Rander had lodged in the metal. Linvin turned and walked over to his horse. He retrieved his compound bow and a single arrow. Climbing back to the landing, Rander was indignant.
“I will laugh so hard when you miss this shot,” he gloated. Linvin smiled and drew his bow. The butt of the arrow nearly touched his mouth as he eyed his target.
Rander suddenly realized that there was a chance Linvin could make the shot. In an effort to distract his cousin, Rander began talking very loudly and making gestures aimed at drawing Linvin’s attention. The juvenile tactic had little effect on the seasoned concentration of Linvin.
Letting the arrow loose, Linvin watched it slice through the air and bury itself dead center in the plate. The concussion of the blow knocked Rander’s arrow to the ground, leaving the plate dangling from Linvin’s arrow.
Bander and Rander were speechless in the aftermath of the display. Linvin patted Rander on the shoulder and said, “Keep practicing, but please do get a real bow. It is embarrassing for an elf to use a child’s plaything.”
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...