It was 61 years ago today. 61 years ago, my parents both said “I do” before witnesses and God. Sadly, neither of them lived to see this day. But I have no doubt in my mind that they would still be together. They would take a drive on their anniversary to the same drive -in diner they went to when they were dating. My father was never one for fancy restaurants. He was never much of a romantic either. On the night of their wedding they reached the hotel and he started emptying his pockets. Out came electrical component after component. He said, “I can’t believe I have 3 days off to start work on our new Hi-Fi set. You can hold the pieces while I work.” How they ended up with so many children, I’ll never know. My mother was the only woman I’ve known who would get mad when her husband bought her flowers. She always said, “It’s a waste of money. They’re just going to die in a few days anyway. And one rose means just as much as 12.” That one ember of romanticism in dad was snuffed out. When he proposed it was typical Dad. He sat on the sofa next to my mother and pulled out a ring box. Handing it to here he simply said, “Here.” She opened it up to see a college class ring from his school. Mom asked, “What does this mean?” Dad was tongue-tied and did not speak for several minutes. Then he said, “Well; do you want to get married or not?” As it turns out, my father didn’t ride the bus to class at the University of Toronto all winter and had only a light jacket against the frigid wind blowing off Lake Ontario. He did that so he could save and buy the best ring he could afford; his class ring. Mom didn’t know the story behind it but to her it may as well have been the Hope Diamond. She eagerly accepted and the rest, as they say, is history. They shared an unbreakable love which only mortality could separate. I’m coming up on my 26th year anniversary and hope know my love will always be there for me.
Suddenly there was a crack from a whip causing Linvin to drop the knife and grab his hand in order to try to stop the bleeding from the fresh wound. In a moment, Hugon stood before their cage.
“Don’t try to grow brains in here, Boy. There is no escape from my dungeon. Even a stupid half-breed like you should be able to figure that out.”
Linvin clenched the bars with his bloody fist and stared Hugon in the eyes. “Your time is coming, Ogre. When I find my way out of here you will wish you had killed me.”
Linvin believed Hugon was ready to respond but apparently noticed something cold and piercing in Linvin’s eyes. The half-elf’s expression seemed to terrify him. Linvin could tell in Hugon’s cowardly heart he felt the sincerity of the prisoner’s words and despaired. In what Linvin viewed as a clear attempt to hide his weakness he punched Linvin in the face with all his strength. Linvin held onto the bars in order to retain his balance. It was a crushing blow. Other than a wince, however, Linvin retained the same expression.
Stepping back, Hugon readied his whip. “I’ll teach you not to look at me.”
Linvin calmly stepped away from the bars and sat in the middle of the cell with his legs crossed. Hugon cracked the whip but it only caught on the bars.
“Trouble?” Linvin asked sarcastically. “You know if you grew a brain out there you might have realized the bars were too narrow for the whip to penetrate. I guess the joke is on you.”
Hugon’s fury made his body shake. “You will die for this,” he said under his breath. “Magician or no Magician.”
Linvin stood and laughed at the giant. “You are incapable of killing me, you pathetic blob of dough. You and your entire breed are utterly worthless. Do shuffle back to your little desk like a good slave.”
The Jailor had heard enough. Hugon reached for his keys and sifted through them quickly to find the right one.
Meanwhile Bander and Rander caught on to Linvin’s ploy and moved to the two sides of the cage.
Hugon found the key and headed for the door. Just as he reached it the loud sound of armor was heard coming up the stairs. It was the guards returning with the slaves. Seeing them enter, Hugon put the keys away and said, “The day will come when that pint-sized sorcerer won’t need you any longer. Then I’ll peel the flesh from your broken bones so slowly that you’ll wish I would just end it, Boy.”
“Until that day,” Linvin responded. “Do try to show us a little more courtesy. I would hate for Necromancer to incinerate you before we meet again.”
The Great Goblin turned and headed down the stairs. The ploy had been successful, but only in making Hugon more determined to kill Linvin.
Developing a character is not as easy as it sounds. It is a very important step in a story. People want to see growth in the character. It is something that peeks interest in the reader. Let me show you what I mean with an example from my books. Bander Greenlith is; at heart, a simple elf. He does not think for himself because his brother Rander does his thinking for him. If Rander says to hate Linvin then he will hate Linvin. Bander’s only real concern is having a full belly. At the beginning of the story, Bander doesn’t think twice about following Rander’s orders. As time goes by, however, Bander begins to see how he is being used and it annoys him. He starts to rebel against Rander. By the end of the story, he is totally independent in his thinking. As a reader you see the change and actually begin to root for him. Even the main character Linvin changes. At the start he loathes the brothers for their insubordinate reaction to him. Linvin is used to leading an army where his orders are followed without question. On his quest he finds he must earn the party’s respect. Linvin makes mistakes but overall proves to be a capable and worthy leader. In a novel you must develop the characters to keep your audiences interest. I have started reading many books I did not finish because the characters were stale. It’s not enough to write a book. You must keep the audience’s attention. Keep this in mind when you write your own stories.
The Count sighed, “Gredly had become increasingly brazen in the interest rates he offered the Kingdom. They were outrageous rates. He possessed the resources to make it difficult to find competitors. My family, however, found alternate sources of financing from outside Sartan, eager to do business. Gredly found himself without his largest debtor. He was completely cut out of Sartanian government economics. We had caught him by surprise. By placing the Donivis in the Treasury, he assured himself of all the loans he could ever want from the government at any rate he might choose. So really, he removed my family for both of the reasons you mentioned.”
Linvin leaned on his desk and blew a smoke ring. “That fills some gaps in my information, but it is largely what I expected. My dear Count, I have a business proposition for you. As a businessman, I hope that you will hear me out.”
Venicci smiled and said, “There is never harm in hearing a business proposal. Please proceed.”
“My father was a great man. This company has become so large that I doubt even he could have managed all the affairs he once did. Furthermore, I plan to expand the company. I have the capital, but I do not have the people to handle that capital.
“It is clear to me that the company’s system of handling finances is inadequate and an open invitation for impropriety. For that reason, I plan to streamline the finances of my company. I cannot afford to lose vendors over clerical errors, whether deliberate or accidental.
“I also need accountants whom I can trust. If I were to disappear from the world, I would want the Grithinshield Trading Company to continue without missing a thing.
“In summary, Count Venicci, I want to hire you and your family to handle all of my company’s accounting. You will see that every bill is paid in a timely fashion. You will audit all books, including the stores. Your family will monitor inventory and compare it to what the ledgers say we are supposed to have. Buyers working for the company will also be subject to audits.
“Inasmuch as it was a matter of public record, I know how much your family earned for their former duties. I am willing to pay you that figure, plus ten percent.”
The Count folded his arms and tilted his head as he looked at Linvin. “That is an intriguing proposal, but my family has more wealth than we could spend in a lifetime. Why would we bother running your assets?”
Linvin inched closer to his guest. “In a word, pride. Your clan has just been dishonored and has no use for their time. You do not wish to sink all your resources into your own bank for fear of loss. If you sit on your money, you will fade away into obscurity and Gredly will have beaten you.
“Now, consider what will happen when you accept my proposal. You will be allied with the most powerful trading force in this country and one day, the world. The Veniccis will hold a place of honor again, with arms that can stretch as far as your imagination will let them. My company is the only one that can afford to pay what you deserve and the only company grand enough to deserve your services.”
Venicci nodded along. “That is quite the sales pitch. Dirk could not have done better had he been here, but there remains unanswered questions. For example, why hire us? If you are looking for a competent accountant, there are many far cheaper than my family.”
“You said it yourself,” Linvin answered. “You do not need the money. If I had a store full of food, I would not hire a starving man to guard it.
“My company will be run professionally, cleanly and in an orderly fashion. There will be no payoffs, kickbacks, extortion, skimming, or any other similar behaviors tolerated by anyone in this company. Having your unique family history, you have seen every trick ever invented. You know all the angles. Those games will not happen in my company. You will see to that and root out corruption from within.”
Self-esteem is one of the hardest things to help someone with because it can only be generated by one’s self. You see people with low self-esteem all the time. They’re usually in bad relationships that often incorporate abuse. That abuse can come in the form of physical but more often verbal or mental abuse. The sad part is it can be a cycle with people. More often than not when people are brought up in abusive homes, they seek out that same sort of dismissive personality in their relationships. Even when they get out of an abusive relationship, many times they go right into another. I’ve watched it happen. They do this because they are conditioned to expect this sort of treatment. People with low self-esteem sometimes have problems accepting gifts or compliments. It’s just not something they’re used to. People with high self-esteem often keep it by doing things positive in their life that create a feeling of self-worth. It might be something as simple as mowing the lawn. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Personally, I am happiest when I’m writing. I’m putting words together that no other person could do exactly the same way. That gives me such a charge I can hardly contain myself. I love writing. It’s the best part of the entire publishing process. When I read over what I have written, I can only smile. I know that sounds vain, but I see no harm in taking pride in one’s work. That’s the answer to low self-esteem; pride. Too much pride can of course be a bad thing but there is no fault in taking pride in something you’ve accomplished. So; if you have a self-esteem problem, do something positive and meaningful. You’ll be surprised how much your behavior will improve as you add more positives to your life. That’s my take on it.
Round 2 with the monster. I’m sure some people have taken offence to my calling a puppy a monster. Perhaps it would be different if it was my dog or my family dog but it’s not. The monster belongs to my son who is “staying” with us for a while. In the mean time the creature seems bound and determined to destroy my home. No mater how much we take him outside, the beast urinates, defecates and chews random things in the house…including the other dogs! Having dogs now and in the past a certain amount of this is to be expected. This particular animal, however, seems obsessed with causing me grief. My patience is being tried. I try to pet him but he just bites me with his razor-sharp baby teeth which feel like a dozen needles penetrating my skin with force. Still, we take him out on the hour to try to housebreak him. The efforts have borne little fruit. For now, I will tolerate the monster; though I see no visible improvement in his behavior. What choice do I have? Lynard Skynard once said, “Lord I can’t make any changes. All I can do is write ‘em in a song…” I can’t make a song, but I can sure write about it.
“I am Sirca, Lord Grithinshield. Mr. Elmsworth said you needed a scribe, so I am here to be of assistance.”
Linvin looked at Gradon and asked, “Do you trust him?”
“We have used the company he works for in the past and never had a problem,” Gradon answered.
“I asked you if you trust him!” Linvin said sternly.
Gradon and Sirca looked at each other sheepishly. “Yes, I do,” Gradon answered. “Your father used him in the past and never had a problem.”
Linvin addressed Sirca directly, “How much do you make where you are working now?”
“Well sir, I am paid by how often my services are needed. In a good week I can make ten gold pharrings.”
Linvin stood with his face so close to Sirca’s that one could not fit a paper between them. “That was probably only one week that you made that much, was it not?”
Sirca maintained eye contact and answered calmly, “Yes, sir. Most weeks, I make about five to seven pharrings.”
Linvin’s angered expression turned into a smile. “Bold, but with integrity. I like that. Good, now sit at that desk over there and take a letter.” Sirca did as he was told. “You will write your employer a letter of resignation. You will now be the exclusive scribe to Linvin Grithinshield and the Grithinshield Trading Company. As an employee of the Grithinshield Trading Company you will earn a salary of twenty gold pharrings each and every week regardless of the amount of work you do. At the bottom, I suggest you sign your name.”
Sirca was speechless. He looked at Gradon and then Linvin. “But sir –”
“Do you accept?” Linvin asked forcefully.
“Yes,” answered Sirca, “but I must say, you could have a whole team of scribes for this price. I dare say they may be better than me. Why would you do this?”
Linvin sat in his father’s chair and lit his pipe. “Because my father trusted you, Gradon trusts you and therefore I trust you. I do not want a group of people around me whom I cannot trust. Much better a few that I can and do. Now, go take that to your employer and come right back. I have many letters for you to write.”
Sirca was so excited that he did not know if he should bow or shake his hand. After a moment of indecision he headed out the door.
“Oh, one last thing,” Linvin called after him.
Sirca meekly poked his head back in through the door. “Yes, Mr. Grithinshield?” his quivering voice asked.
“You do understand the meaning of trust, do you not?” Linvin asked.
“Good,” said Linvin, “because someone who betrays my trust will be shown no forgiveness and no mercy. Are we clear on this point?”
Again Sirca whispered, “Yes.” With that he was on his way to turn in his resignation.
Upon returning, Linvin dictated two letters.
We have a four-legged demon in our house. It does what it wants, when it wants and has no consideration for anyone or anything. The beast destroys at will and even with a certain level of satisfaction! Now; during my blogging time I have been left alone with the monster. I am tasked with preventing more destruction and soiling. But this is a clever demon I face. It hides its damage from view. I must be vigilant in my duties. Greater men and women have tried to contend with the monster but have found their efforts to be fruitless. So, it falls to me that I must watch the creature as I write these words. The family has even given a name to my bane. Oreo. He is disguised as a cute puppy but underneath hides the demeanor of a house killer! I check on him every little bit and he lies dossal; giving no hint of subterfuge. Yet I still find different forms of his destruction about the house. It has already been a week and we are entering “The Great Paper Towel Shortage of 2018.” My adversary is clever and has the others fooled by its charms. All I get when I come near are bites at my legs. Its teeth are small but sharp. I must go to the same room to observe my adversary. Lord, give me strength.
The Commander of the Guard came forward and knelt on both knees in full armor before this Emperor. “I have every available Guard in the City in their saddles outside the Palace walls awaiting your arrival. They and I will follow your orders to the death.”
“How many are there?” Mandrean Inquired.
“One hundred and eighty riders are suitable for duty and are ready to ride,” Vipis answered.
“That will be sufficient to guard me,” Mandrean told the commander. “Have my horse and one for Necromancer waiting by yours and inform the men we are leaving at once.” The commander nodded and stood. He gave the fist salute and rushed from the room.
Mandrean turned to his Court Magician and said tauntingly, “Be sure to dress warmly. These rides can become frightfully cold.”
“Fear not for me, My Master,” Necromancer said as he prepared to follow the commander. “A fire burns within me that will ward off the harshest of winds.” With a half-hearted bow he left the room.
Mandrean gave a nod to Fendri. Then the House Master stood and proclaimed. “The court is dismissed.” There was a good deal of mumbling as the courtiers exited the hall. Soon only Mandrean, Fendri, Gramlick and a hand full of guards remained. Mandrean snapped his fingers and the guards left.
With only the three individuals left, Mandrean approached Gramlick. “I have a special task for you, my Teacher. Maxion is as crooked as a tree-branch in the wind. You will stay here and see to it no coup is attempted in my absence. Furthermore, there are many displaced citizens who are likely hungry and cold. See the issue is handled.”
“How will I enforce your authority when Maxion has a Legion at his command?” Gramlick asked.
Mandrean held out his open palm and had it immediately filled by an envelope bearing his seal. “These orders give you the right to act in my stead. I have personally sent for a Legion of your men to camp just outside of town. They will be here tomorrow. Your soldiers will beat Maxion’s any day.”
“Then why leave Maxion here at all?” Gramlick asked. “I could have handled this alone.”
“I am testing him,” Mandrean explained. “He will not know of your forces and his allegiance will be proven in the coming days. He also has recent experience with handling rebellious people. You, on the other hand, will see to it the people are here when I return. Now go to your quarters and take some rest.”
Mandrean could see his former tutor playing through scenarios in his head as he limped from the room. Only Fendri and Mandrean remained. The emperor turned to the Master of his House and handed him six envelopes.
“What are these,” Fendri asked as he looked at the seals.
“These are orders I want you to personally deliver to Numbers One through Six,” Mandrean said slyly.
“To the concubines?” Fendri asked.
“No,” answered Mandrean grimly. “You know of whom I speak.”
Fendri paused a moment as he realized to whom his master was referring. “If I may be so bold, My Master, what do these orders say?”
Mandrean smiled and answered, “They are insurance. If I wanted you to read them, they would not have been sealed. Take heart in the fact I would not have given them to you if I thought you would open them. The less you know the better you will be, Fendri.”
“Now, I must vanquish a rat my forces are in the process of trapping. With his death dawns the birth of a Mandrean Empire that shall rule the world. I bid you goodbye, Dear Fendri.”
Mandrean strode toward the door. Fendri looked at the sealed orders and then at his master. “Manenvious,” he called out. Mandrean stopped mid-stride and turned angrily to view his friend. “Remember the first thing Gramlick taught you,” Fendri reminded. “’Never underestimate your opponent.’” Mandrean snorted in disgust and left the room.
Fendri stood alone with his orders in hand and heard only his racing heartbeat. As he turned to leave a strong wind blew through the shattered remnants of the great doors and extinguished all the torches in the room. Fendri felt a sense of foreboding as he returned to his wing of the palace.
I’ve been working hard on my 5th book as of late. I’m at a point where everything is detailed and I have to be sure I write them in the correct order. It is time consuming but more of a stress on the brain. As a result, I can only write in short bursts or else the story meanders. It’s very taxing on me but that’s the way I planned it. Funny how books seem so simple when you think them up and are so much more difficult when you write them out. This is a nice retreat to talk to you fine folks. Thank you for reading. I’m still waiting on the edits from the republish of book 3. I always take them so personally. It’s hard to not take the edits that way. You say, “she is just rejecting the way you write. She’s not rejecting you as a person.” It is logical. I have told myself that many times. So far it hasn’t worked yet. It’s like a dog having its teeth dug into your leg. Meanwhile the owner is saying, “He’s just doing it because he doesn’t know you.” That is all true and again, logical. Nevertheless, my leg feels like a chew toy. But the edits aren’t here yet, so as Scarlet O’hara would say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Now it is time to get back to the detailed work on book 5. Until next time, watch out for unfriendly dogs.
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...