Category Archives: fiction

Keeper of the Sword

The following is an excerpt from my novel, “Keeper of the Sword,” which is in rewrite mode at the present. I hope to have it uploaded to smashwords with in a couple of weeks. I wil keep you posted.

“Josh, Josh dear, it’s time for supper.”

Josh struggled awake, sat up, looked around for his book, and found it lying half-open on the floor. He picked it up and placed it on the bed, “I’m not very hungry mom.”

“You need to eat something,” green eyes misted over. “I made a chocolate pudding for desert. Do you want me to fix you a tray and bring it to your room?”

“No thanks,” he flashed a grin. “As soon as I wash, I’ll come down and have supper with you. Having company while I eat will be nice.”

She smiled the worried smile that only a mother can, hugged him, kissed his forehead, “See you downstairs.”

After helping to wash and dry the supper dishes, Josh watched TV with his mom until nine, returned to his room and booted up his computer. Gramps still wasn’t online. No email from him either.

He took a shower, went to bed, fell asleep as soon as his head settled on a pillowcase, smelling faintly of lilacs, and drifted into a strange dream. A boy about ten years old lay under a tall tree, crying.   High above him, four big birds, black wings folded, cyan heads flashing iridescent blues, purples and greens in the moonlight pouring through rents in the heavy clouds, kept sharp eyes on the child.

The largest of the birds spoke in a hushed husky voice, “Poor young princeling, first his mother was poisoned, and now his father the King has been brutally murdered.”

Another one grumbled, “We can’t take proper care of him. He needs to be with his own kind.”

“Besides,” growled a third, it was as close to a growl as a bird can come, “We have our own younglings to tend to.”

The fourth one asked, “What are we then to do?” If no one tends to him he’ll die, and we can’t let that happen because he’s King now.”

The large bird answered, “He’s far too young for us to take him back to the castle because his enemies will kill him.”

“I know, I know, I know what to do,” shouted the fourth one.   The other three spoke at once, “Well, tell us.”   “We can take him deep into the forest where the old man and old woman live. They don’t have younglings of their own. They’ll tend to him and give him their love.”

“That’s a good plan,” the others said, “We’ll guide him on his journey when the sun wakes, but we can’t tell them who he is.”

Josh’s dream changed, and now he looked down into an old hut. Four men, two with short grey beards, looking old enough to be his great-grandfather, a third, dressed in mottled grey and green, and a forth, sporting a shamrock-green hat, adorned with a long blue feather, sat around a table looking like the slightest sneeze  would make it collapse.

The man with the hat asked, “How am I to find my way?”

One of the old ones reached under the table and lifted up a leather bag. He took out a black stone with a bright blue light lancing out of one side. “This is the seeing stone of Kings. Sometimes it is called the finding stone, and it will guide you to where the two who are spoken of in the prophecy wait.”

Away in the distance, carried by the breath of the wind came the skirling of a single bagpipe, wailing a mournful dirge, reminding Josh of his great-grandfather, Donald McDonald. For a moment, he saw the old man standing on hillside, silhouetted against the ruins of a castle, a kilt, bearing the tartan of the clan McDonald flapping around skinny legs, his dark eyes, eyes that always flashed when the Stuart’s were mentioned, fixed on the setting sun.

Over the tune, so familiar yet so strange came a voice, sweet, poignant, brushed with an Irish lilt, whispering at first, growing louder, filling him with an aching, a longing to go on board the great black ship she sang about. He held his breath in the depths of his dream, trying to burn each word, each haunting trill of the voice into his memory.

“In the moonlight gleaming/the Uniaedean rests, dreaming. Sails furled, captain sleeping/no one is watch guard keeping. Anchor set, gentle wind blowing, the great black ship dreams of going/to a mysterious, distant land/guided true by her captain’s hand. Awake, awake, loud voice calling. War drums beat/flaming arrows falling. In fear Uniaedean awakens, shudders from deep wounds taken/looks long at moonlight gleaming/then returns to her dreaming.”

The men faded, the hut, and the words the men spoke faded , all the words of the song, except Uniaeden faded, but the aching caused by the voice lingered on, filling his dream with sadness, and he wept for the loss of the sweetness of the moment.

He stirred in his sleep, tossed, turned, and before he woke, a ship sailed into view. How proud and bold she looked, with her black prow cleaving through tall white topped waves like a scimitar slicing through soft lard. Her black sails filled with wind, struggling to free themselves from the ropes binding them, and a fiery-eyed black stallion figurehead, pawing the air with silver shod hooves, glinting in the moonlight, seeming to urge the ship forward, ever forward.

Closer, closer came the horse and ship, closer until he made out the name Uniaedean on the ship’s side. The raised silver and turquoise letters glowing in the moonlight seemed to be surrounded by an unearthly blue and silver flame.   For a moment, he stood on the prow, looking over rippling muscled flanks, over the broad back, out between the black stallion’s pointed ears, and heard a man call, in a gruff voice, “Trim the sails, hard to starboard,” over the cracking of sails, the rushing of the wind.

Salt spray splashing onto his face, soaking his clothes, stinging his eyes, cooled his fevered brow. His heart thudded like he’d just finished a ten-mile run, his throat tightened, he held his breath. Ahead of him, mist gathering up from the sea, spread out over the distant shore, swirling through strange looking trees, sweeping up towards far off snow covered mountains, not hiding the land, but adding a mystical fairy like quality to it.

He blinked sea water from his eyes, and stood on the shore, filled with longing, filled with a need to be onboard her, and as the last bit of dark sail slipped over the horizon, the voice, the sweet voice whispered to him once more.

He woke, sweat soaked, shivering, sat up, wiped tears from his eyes and tried to remember the voice, the words to the song, but the only thing remaining of his dream was the great black ship, and the fear and excitement of seeing her flying before the wind.

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Filed under Adventure, fantasy, Fantasy Story, fiction, sory

Music Box Dreamer

As soon as they started dancing Bertha resumed the conversation with a question Annie wished she never asked. “Do you love Bertie Annie, really love him I mean. After all he’s a stuck up stick in the mud.”   Ann Foster stopped mid-steep and let go of her sister, “Shush right now Bertha Foster before Bertie hears you.”   Bertha began, “But I’ve heard you tell some of your friends that he is a stick in the mud and dull two. Why do you have to marry him or anyone right now any-way.”   “Because daddy and mother want me too and besides Bertie’s no worse than any other of the young men I know. I mean after all I can’t marry beneath my station.”   The toe of a slipper dug into Annie’s ankle, “Ouch, what was that for.”   “Bertha growled, “You’re starting to sound like mother.”   Annie said, “Heaven forbid,” then giggled. “It won’t be that bad being married to Bertie. In time I suppose he’ll find a mistress and I’ll find a fellow to keep me entertained.”   “Annie that’s scandalous, you wouldn’t and Bertie.s crazy over you.”   “That’s just the way it’s done in our social set.”   “You mean mummy and Daddy, oh no,” Bertha started to sob.   “No I don’t mean them you silly goose, there are exceptions to this rule. Besides,” Annie gave her sister a big hug, “Mother and Father are of a different generation. I think mother is frigid anyway. Have you ever seen them kiss or even hug each other?” She didn’t wait for the reply, “I never have. Now dear more dancing and less talking, then perhaps my feet will still be in shape for me wedding.”

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Music Box Dreamer

Thirteen-year-old Bertha Foster tugged for a third time on the sleeve of her sister Annie’s blue dress.   Ann foster turned away from the window, away from the heavy raindrops hammering on the glass, “What is it moppet?”   “Gee Annie you looked like you were on mars or something. Remember you promised to teach me the Samba today, remember? You haven’t forgotten,” the usual smooth forehead was puckered into deep furrows.   Still half lost in some fanciful day dream Ann Foster only heard a few of her young sister’s words. “Uh, what was that moppet?”   The teenager stomped her right foot, “Earth to Annie, you promised to teach me the Samba today.”   These last words dragged the twenty-two-year-old woman back from her mental wanderings down secret, romantic paths. “Sorry, I was just thinking.”   Bertha didn’t wait for her sister to finish. “That was some deep thinking sister dear. What great problems did you solve?”   “Oh I was just thinking about the wedding and my life afterwards,” her bosom tightened against the white silk of her blouse and nearly popped the top button. She heaved a big sigh, “Now for your Samba lessons dear.”   The words wedding filled the teen’s jade green eyes with tears. She couldn’t stand the thought of her so much loved sister moving away and out of her life. It didn’t matter a bit that the move was only two blocks away. It didn’t matter that she had a standing invitation from both Annie and Bertie to come and stay as often as she liked.   It just wouldn’t be the same. Not the same at all. Bertha knew she would miss the late night visits full of girlish giggles after their parents were in bed. There would be no more going into her sister’s room after a nightmare filled her sleep with terror. She sniffed and wiped a stray tear away. Bertha put on a happy, forced smile and looked up into her sisters big, mid-summer-sky blue eyes. The thought of crawling into Annie’s bed, scrunched in-between her sister and Bertie sent ice cold fingers racing up her spine. “Are you excited?”   Another sigh escaped rosebud, kissable lips. This one loud enough to make her father peer over top of his brandy glass before taking another sip. When there were no more loud interruptions he went back to his serious conversation with Robert Jones, Ann’s intended.   Annie opened the door on the big oak desk under the phonograph and rummaged around for the samba records. She eased the black vinyl disk out of its cover and placed it over the spindle. Being as careful as possible Ann set the needle down onto the first grove of the record. The large bay window rattled as the sound of the Samba filled the big parlour. Bongos, bass drums, a duet of snare drums and the swish, swish of a rattle, set her willowy body in motion. Hips, round, plump and perfect, pressing tight against the fabric of a blue dress swayed to the rhythm of the music.

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Music Box Dreamer

A rocking chair that had seen better days, powered by the thin legs of an old white haired lady squeaked back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth the chair went, in a sparse, stark, dingy room. She half slept, half dreamed and half listened to the raindrops dancing on the cracked and filthy windowpane. A solitary window, a window that was her only view to a world she had retreated from a long time ago.
She reached out with her aged worn, care worn right hand and lifted the lid on the antique music box resting on the table beside her. Two little porcelain dancers popped up as the lid was lifted. The clothes of the pair were stained by the hand of time. The small, delicate faces had little pieces chipped out of them and their once rose pink cheeks were faded into dullness.
It took all the strength of her frail, bony fingers to turn the wind up key but at last it was fully wound. When it was done the beautiful strains of the Vienna Waltz filled the small living space and seeped into every crack and crevasse. A few of the more unruly notes slipped out underneath the door and down the hall.
As she surrendered to the magic of the music her bright blue eyes were filled with the large picture beside the music box.
The young man looked proud in his crisp new uniform. He had every reason to be because not only was he going to be fighting for King and country but this was his wedding day. The blushing young bride wore a dress of white silk and red slippers adorned two dainty feet. A single red rose was in her sun coloured hair.
The old woman closed her eyes and let the music transport her back to another time. Back, back through the pages of many years, to a better time. Back, far back through the mists of an ever fading memory to a different place. A place where a new love was born, burned as a bright flame and then died in the hell, the horror of war.
For one more sweet time she felt Tommy’s strong arms around her slender body. For one more sweet moment of time she felt the heat of his body, felt the pounding of his heart through his shirt. She felt it through his suit coat, through her wedding dress, through her brazier. She felt all of the goodness, all of the excitement pressed tight against her rising nipples.

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Daramlhoardd’s War

Clang, sparks flew as the bright swords clashed. Parry, thrust, lunge and parry again.
Daramlhoardd used all of his weight and skill as he tried to overpower his son. He didn’t want Karodem dead, not yet. No it would give him much more pleasure to kill him after he watched his mother and sister raped. Raped first by him and then by his men, raped until they died from the shame and the pain.
Clang, again and again the swords crashed together as Karodem blocked his father’s savage blows. He could feel his arms weakening under the continuous barrage of cuts and thrusts. Karodem raised his broad sword to parry the next brutal lunge. He side stepped the next thrust and counter attacked.
Prince Karodem retreated four paces backwards and sucked air into his heaving lungs. The bright red juice of life dripped from a dozen cuts. He sucked in more air and readied him-self for the next attack. He brought his sword up to block his father’s blade. He realized too late that it was a feint.
No cry escaped the brave elf’s lips
As the cruel sword bit deep
A mother’s tears fell like rain
As Karodem went to his final sleep

As Daramlhoardd pulled the blade from his dying son’s body the dark veil of evil that had for so long clouded his vision with thoughts of hate, fell away from him.
For the first time in twenty-three years his mind was clear. Tears streamed out of his good eye and rolled down his cheek. “What have I done, what have I done?” He knelt on the bloody ground and cradled Karodem’s head with his left arm. He used his right hand to remove the golden helmet from the head and caressed the long brown locks.
The enormity of his deed whirled through his mind and heart. He was filled to overflowing with grief and the knowledge that he had been under the spell of the evil circle of five. A stray thought flew through his mind. “How can I make this right?”
As gentle as he could possibly manage he lay his son’s head back down. Daramlhoardd removed his hauberk and helm. They landed with a thud beside Karodem’s body. Death Bringer was placed firm on the ground. Clutching the blade tight the elf lord fell forward. As the last of life ebbed from him a shrieking and a wailing escaped the lips of the circle of five. They became translucent and then like puffs of wood smoke they faded away to nothingness.
The flames of two funeral pyres licked upwards towards the full moon.

The End

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Daramlhoardd’s War

Karodem could no longer keep quiet, “I may be from your loins,” he roared, “But you are no father of mine.”
Daramlhoardd glared at him, “Silence whelp, I did not come here to joust words with you.”
“You no longer command me Daramlhoardd.” Karodem placed his right hand on the hilt of his sword.
“You would challenge me whelp,” Daramlhoardd sneered.
Alldelham reached out and placed his left hand on Karodem’s right one. “No Karodem, this is between my brother and my-self. Besides your mother would weep for the rest of her life if death came to you.”
Daramlhoardd snarled, “Let’s have at it whelp, if you have the stomach for blood.”
Two swords were from scabbards drawn
Two blades gleamed in sunlight bright
Two warriors began their dance of death

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Daramlhoardd’s War

Defiant and looking as beautiful as ever, Angvaradel, dressed in gleaming chain mail stood at her husband, Alldelham’s right side.
The great sword “Dark Helm,” was held in her white knuckled left hand.  In her right there was a golden helmet, a plume of tail feathers from the blue Ostari on the crest waved back and forth in wind.
Prince Karodem, dressed in armour that was emblazoned with two crimson roses on a field of blue stood at her right side. The look upon his youthful face was as defiant as the one his mother wore.
“So it is true,” anger grew to be a mighty thing, filling Daramlhoardd’s body and soul with an overwhelming fullness. “The fruit of my loins has betrayed me.” For a moment another thought intruded into his dark, evil mind and brought with it a tiny ray of hope. “That loathsome witch, that cursed bitch Angvaradel, has cast a spell onto my son.”
“Well brother dear it is kind of you to visit me but you didn’t need to bring so many with you. I doubt if my larder can provide all of you with meat.” Alldelham, quelled his quacking limbs and gazed with steady, unblinking blue eyes into his brother’s green one.
“I did not come to dine,” Daramlhoardd roared.
“Pray tell, what did you come for?”
“Your head will do for a start,” Daramlhoardd spat the words, “And then I’ll have that of your bitch, your whelp and that of my son.”

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