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In a medieval world former General Linvin Grithinshield is summoned home from the Goblin Wars after his father’s disappearance to run the family trading empire. Soon his mother is murdered and he is on the run with a price on his head. As a faceless enemy pursues him he must seek out the mythical Red Sapphire. In a world with enemies from without and within, he must set out with dragons in the sky and cutthroats all around to fulfill his destiny or die in the attempt.
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“If you like, I will take his place until his arrival,” Anvar offered.
“That will not be necessary, Uncle,” came Linvin’s voice as he sauntered down the stairs to his relatives, relieved to be released from the tailors’ ministrations.
His long blonde locks flowed back to rest ever so slightly against the gold embroidery of his neckline. He was all at once gallant and sophisticated.
“Please forgive my tardiness, Mother. It would seem that my appearance was in more need of repair than I had realized.” He gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek in an effort not to smear her face. “You look radiant, Mother.”
As if on cue, the first carriage of the evening could be heard rolling across the quartz driveway.
Jelena, Linvin and Anvar formed a receiving line and began to welcome their guests. Each party entering the mansion was announced and then properly greeted.
Linvin had been among great people in their best attire many times before, yet now he felt uncommonly nervous. He traced its source to no longer attempting to simply meet his own expectations. Linvin felt the additional burden of meeting those of his mother, too.
His mind filled with more uncertainty with each guest they greeted and to whom he was introduced. “What if I say the wrong thing?” he thought, “What if I offend the wrong person? Come to think of it, is there a right person to offend? I cannot embarrass my family. Wait. What was that last person’s name? Was he a baron or a lord? And what is the difference anyway? Why does it seem so warm in here? Maybe the other sandals would have been more comfortable?”
Anvar tugged on his nephew’s arm so that he would bend down close enough to whisper, “I may not be able to actually read your mind, but I am a rather good guesser. Remember, they are guests in your house and they are far more concerned with impressing you than judging you. If that, my boy, does not put your mind at ease, then I suggest you concentrate your attention on the beautiful young ladies assembled here, who will line up to be Mrs. Linvin Grithinshield.”
As always, Anvar brought Linvin back to reality and his demeanor softened considerably. With each new guest, he became more of the charming host Jelena had envisioned.
True to his mother’s word, every family of status was there. Along with gifts, usually of fine wine, they brought every available daughter of childbearing age in their house.
At times, the scene was nearly comical to Linvin. He was eagerly introduced to every woman from 14 to 40. Most of the ladies were quite proper in their introductions. There were, however, those who did not use their fans to hide their bosom when they curtsied, as was the custom in society. Though the act always drew Linvin’s attention, his mother would wait until the guest had moved along before whispering, “Not that one!”
Once the greetings were done, the threesome mingled through the room as their guests indulged in drink and folly. The roll of guests was staggering. There were nobles, members of the Royal Family, army officials, legislators, vendors of every race and region, and even the mayor of Fraylic.
Linvin was charming, but his mother kept him close. It was not the time or place for conversations on any serious matters. She whispered to him, “Remember, this is an opportunity to introduce and celebrate you. It is not the time or place to discuss politics and business. This is our gala and we must control its direction. Everyone here wants something from you. Do not be cornered into serious conversations, even with the daughters. They are often subtle agents sent to sway you to their family’s point of view. Keep the conversations light and take no drastic positions.
Two curious characters in “Quest for the Red Sapphire” and “Sapphire Crucible” are Bander and Rander Greenlith. They are the main character Linvin’s cousins and his Uncle Anvar’s nephews. They begin the first book having despised Linvin for their whole lives. When Linvin shows up on their door asking for help on his quest, he finds nothing has changed. They only agree to come after Linvin promises them a handsome bribe upon their return. Rander is small and frail. He is meekly built and not much of a physical threat. What he lacks in body he makes up for in brains. He is a schemer, a plotter, one who is always thinking of a way to advance his own cause. Rander is intelligent though he lacks wisdom. Bander is just the opposite of his brother although it is hard to tell sometimes. He is thickly built with muscle to spare. Bander could overpower most humans in a fight. He is nearly a match for Linvin. Brawn happens to be where his prowess stops. He has a very simple brain. His top goal is to get food and as much as he can eat. It is said that there isn’t a thought in his head that didn’t originate in Rander’s. Bander is controlled by his brother and does whatever he says. Thus, Bander is the muscle behind Rander’s mouth. Rander said not to like Linvin, so Bander doesn’t. Particularly early on in “Quest for the Red Sapphire” they are more trouble than they’re worth. As time goes on, however, they begin to come around and use their tools to help in the mission. Linvin comes to depend on them to take on responsibility during the campaign. They evolve on the trip. Rander learns to use weapons and begins to contribute. Bander stops listening to his brother and finds his own voice. By the end they are very major players.
“Well fate has seen to it once again that we survived,” Linvin said. “We have that reason alone to be grateful.”
“Grateful to Necromancer,” Bander corrected.
“So what do you think about our captor, Necromancer?” Linvin asked in return.
“He has saved our lives,” Bander pointed out meekly.
“To what end?” Rander implored. “Clearly he has some greater purpose for us and it doesn’t sound like anything we want to be involved with. We have traveled all this way only to be prisoners awaiting our deaths.”
In reaction to Rander’s despair Linvin sighed in such a way as to show he’d heard such talk before and was disappointed to hear it again. “If he wanted us dead, Hugon would have finished us. Necromancer has gone to great lengths to be certain we were kept alive. In fact, he wants us to be in fighting shape.”
“Perhaps he heard about what you did in Valia and wants you to serve in their army here?” Anvar asked. “Our imprisonment could be used as leverage.”
“So we are to be hostages?” Rander asked in fright.
“Do stop the drama,” Linvin ordered his cousin. “I am having enough trouble concentrating without you constantly telling me the world is ending.
“To your point, Anvar, it would explain why he wants us but not why he has kept the Emperor uninformed we are here. If my service were required for the army he would likely have told his master of our arrival straight away. Until we arrived here we were called the ‘Emperor’s Prisoners’. That proves he has interest in us as well and yet he is purposefully being kept in the dark about our arrival. It leads me to believe some sort of intrigue is afoot.”
“Then why is Necromancer being so good to us?” asked Bander.
“One thing is certain,” Rander answered. “It is not because he likes us so much.”
“You are right,” Linvin agreed. “He wants something from us. No. He needs something from us.”
“Perhaps it had to do with the key,” said Anvar. “He showed great delight at finding it among our things.”
“Wait,” Linvin said in astonishment. “I remember now. When we were brought in I tried to convince him the key opened my tree. He knew otherwise but would not tell me what it opened. Necromancer also talked about my door not keeping people out of my tree. Could it be the murderers we ran from in Sartan were known to him?”
“Perhaps he knows who sent them?” asked Bander.
“Perhaps he did send them,” Anvar added. “What if they were working for Necromancer? He showed great excitement at finding the key. He must know it is part of the puzzle of the Red Sapphire. If our assumptions are correct, the people looking for the key in Sartan killed Linvin’s mother to capture it. They were the people we ran from in Missandor and Varns. All arrows point to him being behind this plot in an effort to gain the stone.”
“That would mean he had my mother killed.” Linvin noted in a grizzly voice. “He just wanted the key.”
“There is another possibility,” Rander offered. “He may know who sent the assassins and wants to save us from their grasp. Necromancer then helped us so we may fight them and find the Red Sapphire. Consider this. He has made it very clear we are to receive excellent care. If he sent the assassins to kill us before, then why would he protect us now?”
Linvin shook his head. “I am not sure, Cousin. While I see your point, he appeared quite pleased at finding the key. It was as though that was what he sought all along. Even if he did not send the murderers, he wants the gem.”
After his long journey, the bath brought refreshment and relaxation to his aching body. He scrubbed his skin until he began to wonder if it would ever come clean. At last he was satisfied and laid his head back to enjoy the soak. No sooner had he done this than he heard what sounded like a crowd in the hallway moving in his direction. Leaping from the water, Linvin took hold of a nearby robe and managed to tie it just as the mob entered the room.
Linvin’s eyes were stunned. When he had heard that there would be tailors, he envisioned two men with bolts of cloth, chalk, pins and thread. He was correct in that expectation as all of those things entered the room. The shocking part was that there was an entourage of nearly thirty people with them. Some bore racks of clothing while others were clearly seamstresses. Only the tailors addressed Linvin, while the others marched through to another room.
The two tailors circled Linvin. “He’s a big one, Freedron,” said one, as he grasped Linvin’s shoulders in order to gauge them. The other man pulled Linvin’s robe off in one smooth motion. “Look at the scars, Thelon. Those will simply have to be covered in some way. He looks far more common than I had hoped.”
“And the hair,” Thelon said, while trying to rake a comb through its length, “It’s like an untamed jungle.”
Linvin’s initial embarrassment at being disrobed was replaced quickly by angered pain as Thelon attacked his hair. “Have you lost track of your senses! That hurts! Stop!”
Thelon paused for a moment. “I apologize for the lack of formal introductions, Lord Grithinshield, but we have been retained by the lady of this manor to make you presentable in a very short time.”
“It can’t be done!” Freedron exclaimed. “Even the greatest gardener cannot plant a flower and make it bloom by sundown. He is a savage barbarian. It cannot be done.”
Linvin smiled in a dry expression and put his arm around Freedron’s shoulders. “Now Freedron, it is Freedron, Yes?”
“I am Freedron, of the House of Flairgall.”
“How quaint,” Linvin said with contempt, “Am I to assume that my mother hired you and your companion at great expense to dress and prepare me for the gala this evening?”
“Yes,” Freedron conceded with regret.
“Well then, my slight and frail friend,” Linvin said while squeezing the man’s entire frame with his one arm, “I suggest you get over your misgivings and do the task for which you were hired. After all, I am sure you both have solid reputations in this town, which could only be enhanced by word of your part in my visual…blossoming, as it were.”~ 93 ~
The tailors eyed one another and nodded. “Forgive our momentary discouragement, sir,” Freedron said with a bow, “We have much to do and time is short. If you will but follow us into the adjoining room, we can get started.”
“Fine. I leave myself in your hands,” answered the nude half-elf as he strode past. On the way out of the room he paused to make one last subtle comment. “Oh, and just for future reference. If either of you ever call me a barbarian again; I will teach you the true meaning of the word. At that time, gentlemen, your reputations will be the only part of you that survives. Am I clear?” Both wide-eyed men nodded in unison. “Excellent!” exclaimed Linvin, “Then begin your work.”
Today I’d like to talk about a key character in the first two books of the Sapphire Chronicles series. His name is Anvar Greenlith and is the polar opposite from his nephew Linvin, the protagonist. They are both well-intentioned but their methods are very different. Linvin likes to jump into situations quickly and take action. Anvar likes to sit back and take in the situation for a moment as he contemplates any course of action. He is a thinker and sees violence as only a last recourse. Linvin is thin skinned. Insults can get him riled into not thinking clearly. Anvar is short and unathletic, even as elves go. He has endured a lifetime of taunts and insults. His skin is thick and he will almost never lose his composure over such things. Anvar has a secret he keeps for a long time. He is an Orange Magician. It means he can channel magic from nature through his body and release it through his hands at his command. This magic can take any form as long as it is orange. He could use it to lift a log or instantly cut down a tree, create a sudden gale force wind to blow away opponents, launch a plume of fire to incinerate his foes or even just send a blast at his opponent that kills him instantly. As amazing as these powers are, they come with limitations. Channeling magic is very taxing on the body. The more spectacular the display of Orange Magic, the more it tires his body much as running for different distances would do. As he rests he regains his strength and thereby his magic. His magic also heals him at a great rate. Unfortunately, Anvar is old and he is no longer able to channel the magic he once could. He cannot lead a party. Instead he can only help Linvin and give him words of guidance. He is hard on Linvin only because he knows what he is capable of being. Anvar is a fun character to write and read.
There she sits. She’s beautiful. You have to have her. It’s not a matter of want. You must have her. But she won’t come cheap. You’re going to have to spend a lot of money to get her. You take the plunge and spend the money. You have her and for a short period, you are happy. Then the trouble starts. She starts to have fits and become temperamental. That equates to more money coming out of your wallet. She becomes violently ill and can’t even move. You can’t afford the cure so you charge it because she must be there for you at any cost. As time goes by she just costs you more and more just to keep her around. As you stare at a stack of bills you begin to wonder if you should stay with her or if you should move on to a younger one without all the headaches yet. I am of course talking about a car. In high school, my Consumer’s Education teacher once said that a car is the worst investment you will ever make. Boy was he right. After all the repairs, I have paid for over the years I can testify to that. The catch 22 is you have to have a car. You have to get from point A to B. Unless you have excellent public transportation or live close enough to walk, you need a car. After throwing your money away long enough, the question becomes, “Do I keep throwing good money after bad or do I buy a new car?” Both are expensive and only you can answer the question. With a new car that means a major expense just for the vehicle. Then there are taxes, titles, plates, and dealer fees. With the older car, you hopefully have it paid off. The plates are cheaper. On top of that, you’ve already put so much money into her. On the other hand, it’s still an old car which is prone to break down and cost you down the road.
The only thing for sure with cars is that you have to have one.
Linvin could not stand the sight. “Leave him alone, Gutter-Rat,” Linvin cried angrily.
Hugon removed his foot from Anvar and turned his attention to Linvin. With two fists full of Linvin’s shirt, Hugon lifted him into the air and drew his face close. The great elf was weak and sick but still stubborn. He stared straight back at the monstrous creature.
“So you’re the little half-breed that has everyone so upset. You look pretty harmless to me. Kind of like a bug. I guess maybe them Humans is afraid of bugs?” The other goblins started laughing.
Linvin replied. “You must be the pathetic Goblin Pet your Human Masters chose to guard the mean, nasty little Elves. What a sad commentary on you. So scared of us are you that you need to keep us shackled. I do not blame you though. Slaughtering all those goblins in the Territory was quite easy and actually a good deal of fun for us. I would be scared of us too.”
Hugon threw Linvin against the wall and turned to the goblins who traveled with the prison wagon. “They killed goblins?”
“At least an entire patrol,” the shivering voice of one of them said.
Hugon was furious and quickly showed his displeasure by uncoiling his whip. Without a thought he began to lash Linvin with vigor. “You want to play games with me, Boy?” Hugon shouted as the thick leather tore through Linvin’s clothes. The victim curled into a ball to protect his face. Unrestrained, the leather sliced through his skin with ease and did not stop until it struck bone.
“How do you like that?” Hugon screamed as the other goblins cheered his torture of Linvin. “I think I’ll give you one lash for every goblin you’ve killed. If there’s anything left of you after that, I’ll show you the lower levels where we can really have some fun.”
Linvin watched his tormentor closely. When the whip headed his way again Linvin held up his shackles and let it wrap itself around the chain. Then he grabbed the weapon and pulled it from the goblin’s hand. “I am Linvin Grithinshield,” he said from his knees. “No one puts leather to me and lives.”
The goblins were speechless. They withdrew to the corners as Hugon howled with fury. “So you want to die quickly,” Hugon barked. “I can oblige you with that. This is my jail. No one defies me here.”
Linvin struggled to his feet as blood poured from his wounds and pooled on the floor. “If you are so confident of your superiority then remove my restraints and I will give you a real fight.”
“Why would I do that?” yelled Hugon as he drew his club high. “It is much more enjoyable to fight you as you are. Now, come and get some, Boy.”
He struck down with the club. Linvin blocked the blow again with the chain between his wrists. This time, however, he twisted and wrapped the chain around the weapon, dislodging it from Hugon’s hand. In normal circumstances Linvin would have followed up immediately with a blow of his own. With his injured condition, however, he could do little more than fall to the ground.
One of the goblins guarding the elves on the journey stepped over to Hugon. “Sergeant, I mean no disrespect but we were given strict orders not to mistreat the prisoners.”
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...