The Little Princess (part 2)

Trouble begins when Princess Adora gains a baby brother…

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On Myrddin Publishing’s blog this week, I posted part of a chapter from my forthcoming novel EPIC FANTASY *WITH DRAGONS which described how Princess Adora came to be born. Here is what happened nine years later. (You can read the preceding section here.)

 

As was the custom, lost in the eternal fog of ancient ritual, if the thing produced from the loins of woman had been a male, it would have been quickly removed from the chamber as though it had never been created. No mourning would occur and no announcement of the failure would be made. A female child was placed into the breast cradle and offered a nipple to suck and encouraged to dine with great passion from that first day forward and for as long as the motherly teats gave milk.

Adora, the little princess, noted the arrangement, standing quietly beside the nursing lounger, watching her mother lovingly press the new babe against her large breast.

“What words have you to say to your new sister?” asked Queen Dorothea nine years after birthing little Adora.

“I suppose I will say ‘Welcome to Sannan’ to her.” The pretty girl thought for a moment. “What shall I call her?”

The queen smiled, her chubby cheeks flushing as they often did when she was delighted.

“Let’s call her . . . Lumina. She is so bright. How is that?”

“Lu-mi-na. Yes! I like it!” exclaimed the girl.

“So it is done. The naming. A lovely name for a queen. Almost as great as Adora. Now let the realm know my second daughter is to be called Lumina—Princess Lumina.”

The chief maid exited the slumber chamber to pass the news to the court crier who would make the official announcement.

“What will happen to the other babe?” asked Adora.

The nursing maids chuckled. Such a beautiful, naïve child, they seemed to suggest. Once she returns to her tutors, she will learn more of the customs of Sannan.

“It’s none of your concern. Go and make play for yourself.”

Adora turned to the basket on the floor beside the great slumber seat. In the basket the babe gurgled, threatening to cry, its tiny feet wriggling above the basket’s rim. She wanted to step closer and get a better look, to see if this one was as cute as the babe resting on her mother’s chest sucking the nipple.

“Sometimes the goddesses bless us with extra measure,” the glad queen spoke in a soothing voice. “As always, we must dispense with males, the sons and brothers, fathers and uncles, lest they return our great realm to ancient depravity and ring loud the bellicose bell. You must remember the history of womankind.”

“I do,” said Adora. “I listen to my tutors always.”

“As you should.” The queen spoke to her maids a moment. When she returned her eyes to Adora, she said: “I hire only the best tutors for you, so you can trust what they tell you.”

Adora stared at the babe in the basket. The queen saw her abject attention and waved at one of the nursing maids.

“Remove the waste,” commanded the queen.

When the basket was taken out, Her Majesty turned as best she could, rolling on her side upon the slumber seat, and gazed at her elder daughter.

“When your time comes, little one, a suitable sire will be arranged for you. You need not trouble yourself until then. After the necessary coupling you need never have to see that beast again. Until then, you have plenty of lovely girls to play with. So go on now and play. Those twins Countess Nadal has . . . you always get on with them, don’t you? Delightful girls.”

Adora pouted.

“Do not show a sour face. The maids will think you have erred in some way. And we shall not call you Adora any longer, for you won’t be adorable any longer.”

“But, Mama, I want—”

“Adora!”

“I’m sorry, Mama.”

“Mama? You forget who you are, child!”

The girl bowed her head. “Yes, Your Majesty. Forgive me, Queen Dorothea. I’m only a child.”

“Very well, forgiven you are.”

After a moment, Adora raised her eyes to her mother.

“May I keep it for a pet?”

The queen stared at the child, then shifted her weight upon the great slumber seat, tucking the newborn daughter into the cleft of her elbow with a warm smile. The nursing maids gasped, fearing that the newborn would be crushed.

“A pet?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Already you fancy a pet? You’re not yet of the age for that.”

“I just want to play with it.”

“You must know such creatures will grow into adulthood, just as  you shall. It is not a good thing. Not much of a pet then. By such age it will be dangerous. They surely will be violent.”

“I only wish a pet for now,” said Adora, daring to raise her eyes to the queen. “If it please Your Majesty. I think caring for a pet will teach me many responsibilities.”

“Responsibilities!”

The queen chuckled. She rolled over onto her back once more to hand off the newborn babe to a nursing maid.

“Better you had a canine or feline for that kind of lesson, or even a small dragon would do as well. Not a male babe.”

“I beg you, Ma—Your Majesty!”

“Begging? That’s not very becoming of a princess.”

The queen thought for a moment, her chubby fingers stroking her daughter’s soft cheek.

“Very well, child. You shall have the male babe as a pet. Yet only until it reaches the size you are now. Then it must be set aside as the others are. Before it can do any harm.”

“What will become of the babe then?”

“Likely it will be sent to the workhouse for training. All the males we keep become either warriors or laborers, as you should know. The lesson needs teaching to you this week. Ask your tutor for the lesson about males. Only the tests will determine which path it goes. If a warrior, then we may need a few battles to be able to determine who of them is worthy of service for our younger women.” She raised her voice for the note taker’s benefit: “We owe a battle to Anjoz, don’t we? They dare encroach on our south shore once more.” Returning her attention to the princess, she continued: “Those warriors who are victorious will endure and serve. Those who do not pass become at best common laborers, at worst farm fodder.”

The girl gasped, as though expecting a pinch of pain.

“And laborers do not touch maidens.”

“Correct, child. Your tutors have taught you well. I shall add to their wages.”

“Will there be a battle soon?” asked Adora.

The queen chuckled. “Why soon?”

“I wish to know if it will stay or go before I devote my attention to caring for it.”

The queen patted the girl’s head. “You will make a fine queen some day, Princess Adora. You are always planning for the future and wanting it now. Such a delight!”

The queen gave the command and the basket was retrieved with some effort and returned to the slumber chamber.

Set on the floor at Adora’s feet, the male babe wriggled and cooed contentedly in the basket as though nothing awful had happened or was about to happen. That was as it should be, thought Adora as she gazed down upon her baby brother.

Authors beware: A new danger for KU authors

This is one more reason why I will never go Kindle Uunlimited. I’ve never had problems with the Big A, but I don’t want all my eggs in their basket. I use Draft 2 Digital to post to all other venues. That way, in one day of uploading in 2 simple steps, Amazon and D2D, I am able to make sure my work is available in all formats. If a person wanted they could even post to Amazon through D2D, but I prefer to keep that separate as most of my sales are through Amazon.

Darrienia: The Forgotten Legacies Series

Hi all,

Anyone who follows me closely will know my book was removed from Amazon for almost a fortnight after they registered some unusual activity. At first I was at a loss. What was it, where had it come from? But since I have learnt a terrifying truth behind Kindle Unlimited, it is one all authors need to be aware of. It is a KU scam that could ruin your career and put your money into fraudsters’ pockets.

In this post I will detail my own experience, in hope you know what to look out for.

I was running a book promotion, a push to generate interest in my first book. After approaching blogs and book promotion sites I began to run a 99cents promotion on Darrienia, which at that time was number one in two of its categories. Book two is coming out at the end of the year…

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#flashfictionfriday: Short Poetry: I Have Seen the Stars

Reblogged from Life in the Realm of Fantasy

Life in the Realm of Fantasy

Admiring the Galaxy |CCA 4.0 ESO/A. Fitzsimmons Admiring the Galaxy |CCA 4.0 ESO/A. Fitzsimmons


I have seen the stars hung bright

Across the inky dark of night

Such beauty there displayed for me

I scarce can know their mystery.

Heaven’s vault with diamonds flung

Summer’s sky with beauty hung

Bursting forth, the joy in me

Humbled by the majesty.


I have Seen the Stars © Connie J. Jasperson 2016

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A Piece Of Homage And A Beer

Peter Wells, AKA countingducks delivers a great character sketch in this short piece. Humorous, scarily accurate, and always worth reading, countingducks is one of my favorite blogs.

countingducks

“Was he the last man alive,” I asked myself. He who’d walked another life than mine; climbed mountains I would never see but whose eyes lit up with understanding when I talked . You do not have to be young to be lost, and living on the edge of approval, sited somewhere near exile, was a fate we had in common. I was twenty four and he “just over eighty” as he’d said for several years.

He was difficult by all accounts, and refusing to be wrapped in his obituary: we shared a common horror of the commonplace as seen from Chaos Road. His morals were doubtful, his career had been patchy, but he was exuberant and a celebrator of the smallest episode.

He was there by force of circumstances and I, because I lacked vocation, but our bond was to “Grab the moment and let the morrow damn you if…

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The Latest Trend in Alternate Realities

The dragons were a given, as ubiquitous as rainbows after rainstorms.

An Epic Fantasy *With Dragons…

Somehow I got roped into joining the fine establishment known as the Edgewise Words Inn. It probably had something to do with what I drank that night. Then I saw my blog post about Thanksgiving was plastered all over social media. That did it for me: enough was enough.

Now I’m supposedly a regular contributor. Semi-regular, in my thinking. Possibly even a demi-semi-regular, who knows? For my first contribution, I thought I would share the opening scene of my brand-new work-in-progress. Granted, the sharing of new and untested material is always a risk, but I’m just bold enough to throw it out there for your entertainment!

If you wish to know how I got hooked into writing this new novel, you can click over to my regular blog.

I call this new novel EPIC FANTASY *With Dragons …because, well, that’s what it is!

1

The Beasts Above

The dragons were a given, as ubiquitous as rainbows after rainstorms. These aerial beasts, however, had developed such a vile temperament in their endless quest for dinner that Corlan had no choice but to rip the lead winger out of the formation.

It wasn’t that he enjoyed culling the herd; it was his job. And he didn’t much care how he came to be employed in such a capacity. He would say “Politics, mere social squabbling was all it was, not what people assume!” to anyone who asked. One day he was the son of the king, the next an outcast making his way across the battlefields of the Americus offering his tactical services where he could. Then, retiring from conflict, he took up the massive dragonslinger weapon, as long as he was tall, and hired himself out. Fear gripped the lands in those days so it was lucrative, more than mercenary work. The best payer so far was his current employer, the foolish young prince of Nerk who seemed to fear dragons more than anyone Corlan had ever met.

However, such an act of violence, Corlan knew, would compel the reptilian lieutenants to turn upon him with the full fury of all the gods and all the devils united in flesh-ripping horror. Like dragonslayers before him, their lives were measured in minutes. A toasty end to regrets unimagined and mostly unfulfilled.

Corlan had little concern at the moment, refitting his weapon with another iron bolt, the metal dart as long as his arm, trident-barbed. For good measure the tip also included the best poisons man could create encased in a capsule which would burst upon impact and hopefully spill its rotten juice within the body of the beast—in case the wound itself did not take down the creature.

As he prepared to fire the weapon again, he kneed his broad-shouldered muscular mount, the hefty hippor, into the shadows of the cliffs where they would be safe a moment longer than in full view. The hippor grunted its disagreement but complied. The quivers of bolts hanging from each side of the hippor rattled like chains on the devils in Hell. As heavy as the collection of metal was, it required a hippor to carry them.

Corlan scanned the sky, measured the distance with his well-trained eyes. It might be a good day, he decided. The more dragons dropping from the sky, thought Corlan, the better the sky. The better the ground, as well. And his fine clothes! He hated stepping in dragon shit.

Pressing his foot against the side of the cliff, Corlan dismounted, dropping to the dirt beside the red-brown hippor he rode as others did who needed to range far and wide through the mountains. The hippor was a slow-footed, wide-shouldered creature yet the only means of travel left to his people other than by foot.

Fat and easily guided, the hippor yawned. Its broad throat opened for a full minute, flashing its long twin tusks before closing and firing a snort out of its long nostrils.

Corlan cursed, kicking dirt over the toes of his boots to dry the mucus sprayed from the hippor’s slimy nose. He tore a cloth from his saddlebag and wiped his leg from knee to hip. Keeping his eyes on the incoming dragons, he let out a long breath. If only horses still existed. The last horse was already dead more than a hundred years. It had been kept in a small pen on the palace grounds where the prince’s grandfather thought it would be safe from hungry peasants. In the end, it was not safe.

The wizards in their long white robes used Clona magic to create this new riding beast, he had heard. It was a long, expensive process so he felt special that the prince would offer him one. First, the wizards took dust from a dead animal that had been kept in a jar and locked in a secret vault. Then they mixed in many potions and set it all into an oven. What came out of the oven was placed into a larger container and fed many liquids until, after many days, a beast could be seen. It grew from a thimble of flesh into a full-sized baby animal in a few weeks. The animal then grew normally within the confines of a farm pen. Or, in the case of the hippor, in the marshes below the palace walls.

Some people said dragons came into being the same way. A few deviant wizards chose to mix their potions and create the flying reptiles. That happened a few hundred years past. They came into being either as the result of a rogue element of magical turpitude or as an accidental outcome of attempting to produce a new food source for a starving populace. “What starving fool would dare eat the flesh of a dragon?” Corlan mused whenever anyone sought to discuss such history. It was now well-known that dragon flesh was poisonous. No matter how they entered the world, from that initial formation they had grown into nine distinct species roaming all regions of the world, some of them with viable subspecies.

Overhead the dragons were circling, locating their prey against the side of the mountain, Corlan’s red-brown clothing merging into the red-brown cliffside—as did his red-brown hippor.

The familiar cries did not alarm Corlan, an expert in this necessary occupation. With boots planted, he leaned back against the hippor, urging it to move tighter against the cliffside. Then Corlan took his stance, the bolt loaded, another leaning against his knee, ready to load next.

A large gray bull with teal throat markings came in first, wings open and talons drawn, making a ridiculous spectacle.

Corlan’s shot went through the dragon’s throat and the beast instantly dropped from the sky, falling past the human’s position on the cliffside, down to the valley floor.

In went the next iron bolt, prepared, aimed.

The second, a tan female with orange wing tips, came at him, apparently upset about loosing her mate. He could tell that by her fluttering throat skin and the high-pitched cry of anguish. She gave Corlan an exhale of noxious air which, with a deliberate hiccough, caught fire. The dragon blew the fireball at the cliffside and Corlan crouched quickly under the hippor.

Squealing, the hippor bumbled forward, its bulbous rump and hairless tail lit and burning. There was nothing Corlan could do. A canteen of water would not be enough. And he needed the water for the journey back to the city. He had ridden the hippor for the past season, lent to him by his employer, the prince. It was an expensive accommodation, thought Corlan, standing and staring hard at the tan dragon, still approaching the cliffside for further vengeance, making an arc in the sky and returning.

The iron bolt was set into the weapon, Corlan’s hands working without thought. He raised the weapon, released the bolt, and struck the dragon under its lower jaw.

The beast crashed into the cliffside, a wingtip scraping along the trail that hugged the rocks. Corlan dove aside—as his eyes caught the last of the hippor disappearing over the side of the cliff, its rear end well-burnt and smelling almost delicious.

In the same moment, a large beige dragon swooped up from below him and snatched the fat animal in its mouth. The dragon sailed high into the sky—boasting of its prize, it seemed to Corlan. With a quick toss upward, the dragon caught the hippor in its mouth and bit off half, letting the other half fall. The dragon then swooped down and saved the second half, downing it in a second tremendous gulp. Taking on the extra weight forced the dragon to a lower course than the clan. Others seemed to scream at him to keep up. The dragon only burped in response and a cloud of black smoke formed around its mouth, then trailed the beast as it flew on.

The formation decided to continue, he saw. They could not spare any more time or energy to deal with another pesky gamekeeper. Three of them already lost on this passage through the mountains. They should count themselves fortunate. Beyond the mountains, Corlan knew, was the valley where they would settle for the cold season and do their mating. After the cold season, the nests would be full of little dragons.

If only he could make his way there and destroy all the nests before they hatched. Then the kingdom would be safe for humankind. And the less he had to step around dragon droppings, the better. He was already into his third pair of boots this year!

Now he had no beast to carry him and his supply of the heavy iron bolts through the mountains and back to the city. It would be a hard journey on foot.

The hippor was a sturdy animal with thick legs and large three-toed feet, with a back wide enough for a large man like him to have lunch on. The animal’s small eyes were set far apart above a cavernous mouth full of large, rounded teeth designed for chomping the stalks of river plants, an activity which occupied them most of their days. Until they were tasked for travelling.

Corlan brushed off his sleeves, straightened his leather jerkin, blithely ran his fingers through his long auburn hair as though he were about to step into the private chamber of a certain lady of the Court whose attentions he had garnered in recent weeks—yes, her! the lovely blond buxom Petula!—and not merely setting himself on the road back home. He could not continue his hunting without more supplies.

His boots had gotten scuffed and the snot of the hippor made every particle of dust cling to them. He sat on a rock and pulled off his boots to clean them properly. As he worked, the winds picked up and he could hear the fading cries of the dragon clan as they winged their way west. It was a smaller clan than he usually saw so perhaps his work was actually reducing their number.

“Pity,” he grunted, examining the results of his cleaning.

When the dragons were all gone, he would be out of a job. No more enjoying the Prince’s favor. No more the ladies at Court to dabble with after the feasts. They loved being with a dragonslayer. He was the only true man in the Great Hall—or in any tavern.

He shook his head. No more the steep hikes up into the mountains on the back of a hippor to hunt dragons at  their own elevation.

“Pity….”

Rebooted, Corlan set out at a brisk pace, arms swinging, the heavy spring-loaded dragonslinger, one last bolt loaded,  dangling from a strap over his shoulder. It would become heavier as he hiked. A side blade swung at his hip for lessor dangers.

He decided to whistle a tune as he walked the trail, the cliff rising to his right and dropping to his left, the space for footwork only double the width of his shoulders. Likely the hippor would not have fit this section of the trail and they both would have tumbled over the side. Then where would he spend the night?

“Lucky day,” Corlan snorted, clapping his hands.

 

More has been written, but I shall not bother you with it at this time. Be confident that I shall continue until the last word is written, no matter how long it takes, no matter what obstacles I need to overcome, no matter how many dragons I, or my stand-ins, must slaughter. Thank you for your indulgence!

Hibernation

As a resident of dark, dreary Washington State, I am in complete agreement with Sue’s thoughts on hibernation here. I go to bed early during the long nights and have no desire to leave the house unless I am forced. Come spring, you can’t keep me inside!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

glaston4 017 (986x1280)

“Birds do it… Bees do it…” Fleas, both of the educated variety and those who bunked off school seem to manage it.

Well, okay, one bird does it, the common poorwill,  the rest don’t seem to bother. With weather like this, in deepest darkest winter, perhaps they ought to think about it. Everything seems organised around hibernation really. The days are short, the nights are long, the light minimal… The weather is foul enough to discourage anyone from crawling out of bed and in sleep the body slows down anyway, using fewer precious resources at a time when food would be scare without commercial growing. I wonder if human beings ever did hibernate? Probably not properly; there seems to be only one primate that does so, a lemur from Madagascar.

Hibernating means stocking up on the body’s resources for winter… a bit like Christmas… Metabolism seems to slow down about…

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