Occasionally I like to share a sample of my work. Today I'm sharing the first chapter of my new book The Hart of Telendaria. I hope you like it and if you'd like to read more you can on any of the sites listed below my book to the right on my blog. Just click on the link and it will take you to the book site of your choice and if you'd like to purchase a copy you can there. I'm currently in the process of proofing the Print Copy and then it will also be available in Print. ;)
CASTLE GLEN HAVEN
Princess Terra watched out her bedroom turret window of Castle Glen Haven as the second line of defense of her father’s army was breaking. The Goblins and Trolls along with their brood of Trogs were now into the castle garden and pulling down the statues and turning over the cairns of those she loved and her many ancestors. She could not keep from having tears form in her emerald green eyes at the sight of it.
“My Lady, the King wishes you to make haste, they have brought your armor.” The long blonde haired maiden bowed her tall thin frame.
“Yes Elsbeth, I will hurry.” Princess Terra quickly put the metal breastplate over her long sleeve shirt made of woven leather and died a dark green which matched her trousers.
Lady Elsbeth helped to fasten the breastplate and shoulder guards. She brought the Princess her studded leather belt with the sheaths for her broadsword and knife.
Princess Terra looked at the sword, pausing for a moment to remember the mother who once wielded it, and then placed it within her sheath at her left hip. She picked up her long knife which had a white handle with the carving of a Hart. It was said to be once owned by her namesake, the first Queen Alterra, and was crafted with great care by her Pixie grandfather. She placed it in its sheath at her right hip.
Lady Elsbeth knelt down and tied Terra’s dark green leather boots which laced up to her knees, and then helped fasten her shin guards.
“Thank you Elsbeth.” Princess Terra smiled slightly.
“You are quite welcome.” Elsbeth also gave a slight smile with understanding of how hard a day it was for Princess Terra to leave the castle. “Now let us braid that mane of yours,” she giggled.
“Yes.” Princess Terra gathered up her long red curling locks and pulled them behind her for Elsbeth to comb and braid. The Princess could hardly keep her Elven ears from poking out of her hair. She tapped her small foot as she tried to patiently wait.
A loud screech was heard across the room where a broad-winged Hawk with brown and white speckled feathers danced upon its perch.
“It will not be long now Jig and we will travel to the hunting cottage across the River Whitebeard,” Princess Terra said sadly knowing she was never to return.
It only caused the Hawk to dance all the faster and he began to twirl around.
“My lady, you have truly named him well,” Lady Elsbeth let out a slight giggle.
Terra gave a half grin and nodded her head in agreement, but still had the eyes of sadness. It seemed like she were living a nightmare. All of her Grandmother Queen Adalay’s prophecies seemed to be coming true. Terra only held onto a thread of hope for her, her father and their people.
When Princess Terra reached the stables, her father was already there and had saddled her Horse with provisions himself. “Quickly Terra there isn’t much time, they’ve nearly broken the third line of defense.”
“Oh Father,” she said as she went and hugged him.
“There, there, I will see you and our people later. Now you must hurry and bring our people safely to the hunting cottage across the River Whitebeard.”
“Where is Elsbeth?”
“I’m not sure; I will find her and send her to you quickly. I’ve already saddled her Horse. Where is Jig?”
“I sent him to meet me at the hunting cottage, as I always do, but I doubt he will stay there.”
“He may sense danger and come back to you.”
“Father, I only hope he is not struck with an arrow.”
“Don’t worry Terra; I doubt they could strike him. You must not turn back; no matter what you hear, you must continue to bring our people safely to the cottage. I will send as many guardsmen as I can spare to guard the rear. Be brave for our people, I will be with you soon.”
With that King Royce gave his daughter one last hug and watched her mount. He slapped the end of her grey Horse Thunder as he galloped out of the stables down the dirt path with a steady stream of others following closely behind the Princess.
King Royce knew they would be hard pressed to keep the enemy back till nightfall and then they must themselves form defense lines around the hunting cottage to protect all who remained of his household.
The journey was long; Princess Terra tried to keep a steady pace for the others to follow. She pulled on Thunder’s reins, telling him to slow to a gallop as they neared the Whitebeard Bridge; it was made of wood and had stood strong through the ages. The river roared white beneath it; it passed on to the coastlands.
Any other time, this would have been a journey of pleasure. It was fall of the year and the forest was colored with scarlet, orange, gold and dotted with green from the Pines. Now it was past twilight.
Terra and Thunder began to cross when out popped three Trogs. Although Trogs were usually smaller than a Troll and larger than a Goblin; these were young. They were clothed much like their parents with crudely made animal hides. Their hairless skin was dark blue and scaly which was perfect for hiding in the night if it were not for their glowing golden eyes.
The Trogs hissed reaching out their clawed fingers and showing their jagged teeth trying to bite Thunder.
Terra quickly drew her sword and slashed all of them.
The Trogs were cut and screamed as they ran away on all fours whimpering to their Goblin and Troll parents back toward the castle.
Terra looked to see her people following her in the moonlight and she finally spotted Lady Elsbeth not far behind. She let out a breath and turned back to the bridge as Thunder now crossed; “On Thunder like the wind!” she yelled as she kicked him.
Thunder bent back his ears and lowered his head as he swiftly ran across the bridge and onward down the thin narrow dirt path which led through the Whispering Forest of Pine, Oak, Dogwood and Maple trees and on towards the little hunting cottage. The cottage was made of stone and had been used since the days of the first King and Queen of Glen Haven.
A loud screech was heard above them as Jig now flew circles overhead.
“To the cottage Jig!” Terra yelled.
The Hawk flew to the cottage as he had a hundred times before, beating Princess Terra in their race.
Now the cottage came into view in the star filled sky; the large stone chimney rose above the sheltering trees and Blackberry garden hedge. It was made of grey river stones with a red door in the front and had a thatched roof.
Terra reined in Thunder to a gallop as she spied the area, making sure none of the Trogs or their parents had made it there. Everything looked secure and Terra brought Thunder to a quick stop with a pull on the reins and she leapt from the Horse and quickly went into the cottage to make sure all was well. She came out as the others were dismounting their Horses.
One of the guardsmen her father had sent behind them now came to Terra with a torch, “Princess Terra, how may I assist you?”
“We must gather as much wood as possible for fires to keep our people warm and we must set up the tents in the Northern part of the garden, furthest from the entrance for protection. The briar hedge will help to guard the adults. The children may stay in the great room of the cottage by the fire.”
“Yes Princess Terra,” the guardsman bowed and then went and gathered any of the men who could assist the few guardsmen and they began to put up tents and set fires around the perimeter inside the garden’s hedge.
Princess Terra got all the women together and they began to prepare a cold meal from the provisions they had brought as well as some stocked inside the cottage.
King Royce had been storing up goods and treasures at the hunting cottage since the beginning of the Goblin and Troll skirmishes across the land; knowing it was just as Queen Adalay had foretold.
Princess Terra allowed herself a few minutes of silence within her bedchamber inside the cottage. She could not help but think of her grandmother Queen Adalay and the years she had lived there with her. Those were happy times for Terra, even if she did not see her father as often as she would have liked. Her fond memories were also tinged with sadness as she remembered the day her father cast her grandmother out of the land and sent her to her Elven kinsmen in Telendaria. Terra could even now hear her grandmother’s last words…
“Remember Alterra, you will go to the city of Telendaria and marry the Elven Prince.”
I wish it to be so Grandmother, but how? When? Terra thought.
Jig screeched from his nearby perch.
Terra came back to her senses, “hush now Jig.”
She looked down at her small leather satchel in the candlelight and took out a silver ring. It was one of her favorite possessions her father gave her. The ring had an antlered head of a Hart with green gemstones for its eyes; he gave it to her upon her sixteenth birthday, nearly six months ago. It was said to have been crafted by the Elves long ago. It reminded her of the many hunts she and her father took together and she could not keep from crying as she thought about him and prayed he would be safe and soon arrive at the cottage. She also prayed all of her people would be safe and that this nightmare would soon be over.
There was a tap on the adjoining door to Lady Elsbeth’s room.
“You may enter Elsbeth.”
“Forgive me Princess; I wanted to know if you might want a cup of tea?”
“Yes, Elsbeth and bring one for yourself so we may take this time together,” Terra smiled.
“Yes, I shall join you when I return,” Elsbeth said with a bow and went out her door.
Princess Terra noticed Lady Elsbeth did not smile as she always had before. Terra put the ring back into the satchel; for now was not a time for adornments.
Elsbeth returned and tapped once more as she entered with two earthen mugs of hot tea with cream.
“It smells divine.” Terra gladly took the offered mug. “Is all well Elsbeth?”
“Forgive me my Princess, but no, for my mother was killed this day as some of the Trolls entered the castle kitchen.” Elsbeth’s tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Oh Elsbeth!” Princess Terra quickly set down her mug on the side table and then hugged her. “I am so sorry Elsbeth; I knew you must have gone to find her.”
“King Royce said there were at least twelve killed when the Trolls caught them by surprise while they were packing the last of the provisions.” Elsbeth cried into Princess Terra’s shoulder.
“What a black day this is,” Terra said as she held her and looked out her window wishing to catch a glimpse of her father.
When the Moon rose full there was a Wolf’s cry heard nearby.
“It is Lord Fuil, he and his Wolf pack are hunting the Goblins and Trolls in the forest,” said Princess Terra to the Captain of the guard which her father had sent on.
“We can certainly use his help.” Captain Galen gave a wide grin. “Ease your heart my Princess, your father was right behind me.”
There was the sound of approaching hoof beats and Terra once more let out a breath with the hope her father had finally arrived.
When the Horses came into the garden, Terra saw it was her father and he was injured.
Princess Terra ran to him, “Oh father, are you badly hurt?”
“No my Terra, do not worry; just a sword wound to my hip.”
“Quickly bring a stretcher to take my father inside to his bedchamber.” Terra held his hand as they took him.
The midwife was called to clean and wrap his wounds; there was no surgeon near enough to help King Royce.
Terra sat in a chair next to her father’s bed and prayed for him to be well.
Lady Elsbeth sat in a chair on the other side of King Royce’s bed, sponging the King’s forehead. Then she stood up, “Forgive me my Princess, I need to go and get another pitcher of cool water.”
“Yes Elsbeth, I can also take turns with you.”
“Whatever you wish,” Lady Elsbeth gave a bow and left the room with the pitcher in her hand.
Terra bowed her head to pray again, “Oh Suthainn, will you not hear my plea?” Terra felt a presence and looked up to see Lord Rambleton seated across from her in the other chair.
He had on a dark green cloak over a brown robe tied with a rope. His hair was long and white as well as his long beard.
“I came as quickly as I could your Majesty, how does the King fair?”
“He has a sword wound upon his hip, it seems very deep.”
“How does the Princess Alterra fair?”
“I am well, only concerned for my father, please excuse me.” Princess Terra got up as tears ran down her cheeks and hot anger rose within her.
Why did he not come sooner, why has my grandmother not sent guardsmen from Telendaria to help! Terra thought. She ran deep into the garden where she could be alone and sat down upon a stone bench and cried until her anger subsided.
In the morning, Lord Rambleton walked in the garden and gave encouragement to the people of Glen Haven as he visited with them from tent to tent.
Princess Terra had slept in the chair next to her father’s bed and didn’t see Lord Rambleton again. Now as the morning dawned, she felt sorry for the way she acted and sought him out.
She found him as he was leaving one of the tents. “Lord Rambleton, may I have a word with you?”
“Yes, you may speak Princess Alterra.”
“I am sorry Lord Rambleton; I should never have treated you in such a way. I have been beside myself with worry for my father; but, it was no excuse.”
“You must know all of the forests and lands from the West to the East have been caught up in the battle; many of us were needed elsewhere,” Lord Rambleton said tenderly.
“I am sorry; I have only thought of my Kingdom. I guess I have had some resentment towards my grandmother for knowing what was coming and then not helping to stop it.”
“You must remember this Princess Alterra, knowing a thing does not always mean you wish for it to happen, or even you have the power to stop it. Your grandmother Adalay warned your father in hopes he would turn from that path and choose another; it was his choice to make. Sometimes we think we ourselves can force a different outcome, even when we can see the path leads to destruction. Your grandmother only told him out of love for him, you, and all of the people of Glen Haven,” Lord Rambleton spoke with such love.
“I miss her so; I cannot wait to see her once more and all those in Telendaria.”
“You must also know Princess Alterra; the time is come when all of the Elves in the Western lands are leaving and headed to the Northern coastlands, where many Elves have already gone to make their homes centuries ago.
Your grandmother is leaving with the last remnant of Telendaria to go to those lands, where she will be welcomed.”
“Then is there no hope?” Terra asked with tears filling her eyes.
“You can choose to go with me now and I will take you to Queen Adalay before she leaves Telendaria.”
“But Lord Rambleton, my father is not fit to travel such a distance.”
He looked to her seriously and said, “No, he is not I am afraid, and therein lies your choice.”
“I will not abandon my father in his time of need, not even for the Elven Prince!” said Terra with strong conviction.
“His path is not yet set; there may still be hope for the two of you. Do not give up on the hope of your heart; your destiny may still come to pass. He has his own choices to make as well,” Lord Rambleton said with a half grin and a wink.