Tag Archives: Fantasy Fiction

Seeking a Genre

I’ve had a difficult time lately trying to figure out what kind of writer I am. Do I write horror? Am I a scifi writer? What about fantasy? Does it even freaking matter?

I’m not sure what’s prompting me to pigeon-hole myself to a particular genre or not, however maybe it’s best if I gravitate toward something. The phrase “Jack of all trades and master of none” keeps coming back to me.

Of all three genres, I think the one that I most identify with is horror. It’s what I’ve read the most, watched the most, and what interests me the most.

I don’t feel I have the credentials to call myself a scifi or even a fantasy writer, though my background in medieval history does give me a foundation for the kind of fantasy I enjoy. I’ve not read many of the scifi classics. I have tried to navigate my way through some of the mainstays of the genre to have a working knowledge of what’s been done before and the major players in the field. Still, it doesn’t feel like I’ve “paid my dues” and learned enough about previous authors to jump into their genre. Does watching a lot of scifi shows count? I don’t know. Maybe? Do I have to have those works read in order to write my own stories?

thinker-1294493_1280I imagine purists would scoff at the idea of someone with a basic knowledge of science fiction calling themselves a scifi writer. I kinda agree. Start throwing questions at me about Heinlein or Asimov, I might give you a blank stare and change the subject.

Same goes for fantasy. I know a few pillars of the genre, but I’ve not read many of them. My first real introduction to fantasy was through Robert Jordan and I know there were many before him like Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett and more. I love fantasy for the idealized medieval worlds they tend to portray (and yes, I’m aware of the Euro-centric bent of most fantasy) though I’ve not read extensively in the genre. Do I have to in order to call myself a fantasy writer?

When it comes to horror, I do have a greater background through reading and movies than the other two genres I gravitate toward. King, Barker, Jackson, Oates, Ramsey Campbell, and countless other authors have all been my go-to authors when I want something to read. I love the dark themes and ability of authors to scare the crap out of me. I feel much more confident calling myself a horror writer though to date, I’ve not written much more than several flash fiction and short stories in the genre.

So why question all of this? What’s the point?

skull-3026666_1920As I continue to grow my readership and reach out to new readers, I don’t want to confuse them. I love using elements from all three genres in my writing. One day I feel more like writing fantasy, while another I want dark, scary horror. I don’t want to be forced into a genre I’m not entirely 100% all in on (or at least don’t feel like I belong because of a lack of rudimentary knowledge of the field.) Yet, readers and especially other authors want to know “what do you write?” Damn good stories? I mean, that’s how I want to answer.

Lately I’ve come to use the term “Speculative Fiction Author” to describe what I write. It’s a term not without its drawbacks and controversy, though for the most part, it encompasses all that I enjoy writing. It allows me the freedom to flow between genres without feeling stuck or unable to try something else. It’s like when King wrote the Dark Tower books. He’s known as one of the most popular horror authors ever, yet he wrote a fantasy series. Of course, it sold because his name is on the cover, but in my case, I have a long way to go to establish my name. If I call myself a “Speculative Fiction Author,” readers generally understand I genre-hop and can pick and choose what stories of mine to read.

If I take a big step back, this entire discussion about genre really is all about marketing anyway. When bookstores sell books, they need to know where to put books to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. When Amazon categorizes books, they get down to fine detail about the genre. It all goes back to marketing: How do we sell this book? Who is the market for this one? Have a monster in it? Good, call it horror. Is the protagonist a seventeen year-old girl? Call it young adult. It makes it easier for readers to discern what to buy and not buy. I get it.

The more I can figure out who I am as a writer, the easier it’ll be for me to market myself. If I claim “Speculative Fiction Author” as my title, then I’m open to marketing myself in all three of the genres I enjoy depending on the books I’m writing at the time. It’s not that I’m chasing the latest trends, but writing stories I enjoy and hope others will too. I don’t even know what the latest trends are! Reverse harem? Who knows!

I hope to figure this out soon. I’d like to sell a few books and begin making a profit off my work. I haven’t yet, however I have earned a few new readers in the process.

 

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New Year, Better Plans

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you can take the best of 2017 and carry that over to this year. Let’s leave all that negativity and hate in the past and move forward with a purpose and a bright future ahead.

ipadrt_823x978 copy2017 saw the release of my first novel, The Selection. It has since been rebranded as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. It’s now the first in what I’m planning as a trilogy, set on the planet Anastasia and following Eron as he moves beyond the Selection. As the series title suggests, the Forgotten play an immense role in all of this.

I’ve had mostly positive responses to the book and it’s brought me more readers which I hope to continue into 2018.

To further that, the audiobook release of The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 is due within a week or so of this post. It’s narrated by Paul Jenkins and sounds AMAZING! I cannot wait for its release. I think you’ll love it!

ipadlt_823x978The second book in the trilogy, Rise of the Forgotten comes out on January 19th. You can pre-order the ebook now for only .99. ( A little under the radar pro-tip: if you really don’t wanna wait, the paperback is actually live and available to purchase now.)

I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, The War for Truth. I’m about 8,000 words into it and I’m planning a late Summer release, maybe July. If all goes well, you may also get the release of a series of novellas in the Fall that relates to 4-5 characters from the series.

Other than the scifi series, I’m planning on releasing two horror novels in 2018. One is titled Brown’s Sacrifice and the other is Soul Windows. Both are set in Brownsville, my pseudonym for Murphysboro, where I live. I’ve thought about branding those as Brownsville Oddities Novels and see how that goes. I have a possible third novel to include in that series, however I’m not certain about that yet.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodIn May, my book The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1, will be re-released as part of the On the Horizon book bundle which includes 22 full-length scifi and fantasy novels with the theme “little to no tech.” My book fits perfectly with the theme and to make it enticing to those that have already read my book, I’m going to include an exclusive short story that’s only part of this bundle. The best part is you can pre-order it for only .99! I highly encourage you to check it out and pre-order your copy today. Even if you’ve read my book, that’s still 21 other full-length novels for less than a $1!

Finally, I’ll be working on a fantasy novel for a 2019 release as part of a larger shared world project. I think at last count we had something like 20-25 authors committed to the project. Our plan is to release a book a month, all tied into the same world. It’s a fascinating concept and will finally get me to write the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to write since I started creating stories.

This is what you can look forward to from me in 2018. I’m grateful to those of you who’ve supported me by buying a book, sharing my posts, or offering words of encouragement. It’s lonely sometimes as a writer and you make it all worthwhile. Thanks again for everything! Let’s crush 2018 and make it the best yet!

 

 

Author Spotlight: Michelle Murray

In my continuing series presenting new and emerging authors, I present author Michelle Murray.


Author Spotlight: Michelle Murray

miranda-cospaly-casey-2Today I’m fortunate to present Michelle Murray author of The Dream Walker Land of Mystica series and Rainbows and Dreams.

Hi Michelle, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am a working mother of two fine young men, one in college, and the other in high school. I started writing myself in high school. A number of my poems and short stories won awards, and were published in anthologies. I was even featured in Whos Who Among American Poets. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, and children. I combined my two loves, and Dream Walker was born. Rainbows and Dreams is a collection of some of my poetry.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since high school.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

The freedom of expression, the ability to write down my feelings and thoughts with no judgement, no talking back. The ability to create worlds, feelings, moods from a pen and paper. There is magic in that, taking words and painting a picture.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I have a couple projects in the works, one is a sequel to Dream Walker’s Destiny, and one is a prequel called Lighting’s Journey. I also work on my poetry from time to time.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I prefer fantasy and poetry. I can’t pick between the two, they both have a hold on me.

 

What authors influenced you?

I love the classics, and believe we can learn much from them as authors and readers. Shakespeare, Mark Twain, JRR Tolkien, have always inspired and influenced me.

 

What are you currently reading?

Right now, nothing. If you know some good poetry or fantasy, please feel free to recommend some.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I try to write at least two times a week, but it doesn’t always go that way. I’m really trying to get more of a schedule down for my writing, this is one of my goals for this year.

 

Do you listen to music when your write?

Unless you count teenagers, computers, tvs and regular household noises music, no I do not listen to music when I write.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I started with poetry and short stories, and evolved into a novel. I created characters, a world, and gave more detail than a poem or short story would. I went back and added chapters, tweaked descriptions, and just kept filling in the gaps in the story so to speak. I have learned to rewrite things and change my sentence structure.

 

How do you create covers for your books?

51blfiktrrlI hire someone to do that for me. Generally I have an idea what I want, and I describe it. The artist usually sends me a couple different pictures to choose from based on that description. For my sequel Dream Walker’s Fight, I want Miranda in or around some clouds with a dark presence haunting her.

 

Are there any nonliterary influences for your writing?

I am inspired by nature. The trees, the clouds, the sky, rainbows and butterflies. I love to go for walks and see what will inspire me! Movies tend to be the same stuff sequel and reboots so I don’t find a lot of inspiration there.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

I don’t really have a favorite book, as I said before I love the classics. I also enjoy Robin Hobb, Margaret Weiss, and Collen Huck.

 

How do you market your books?

This is a challenge. I used to post on Facebook and Twitter but I think people were getting tired of that. I contact bloggers, reviewers, do author interviews. I try to do things besides just saying “buy my book.” I have gone to the girl scouts, boys and girls club, and donated books to the libraries and other organizations. I would like to do more of this, but seem to be hitting a snag in these plans.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

I have been posting on my Facebook excerpts from Dream Walkers Fight, stay tuned for more!

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

All three Dream Walker Land of Mystica Series books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Rainbows and Dreams is available for Kindle only at this time.

Amazon: The Dream Walker

Amazon: The Dream Walker Returns

Barnes and Noble: The Dream Walker

Barnes and Noble: The Dream Walker

 

Where can we find you online?

You can find me at Facebook.

My website.

You Tube.

Twitter.

GoodReads.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I knew Dream Walker was special, and a good story. I wanted to get it out there, I didn’t realize how much work or what I was getting into. I have been lucky it’s been finding an audience and readers are enjoying it!

 

Any parting words for writers?

Keep at it! Keep writing, keep submitting just keep trying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Shakyra Dunn

In the next installment of my ongoing series of Author Spotlights, I present Shakyra Dunn.

Author Spotlight: Shakyra Dunn

shakyraToday I’m fortunate to present Shakyra Dunn, author of The One Left Behind: Magic.

 

Hi Shakyra, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi there! Well, I’m twenty-two years old, I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m currently living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Full time writer and part time night stocker. Wonder which one is more life-consuming.

 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about seven, but I took up the mantle of writing officially when I was fourteen, and became published last year.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I used to create stories all the time when I was younger and write them down on paper or my mom’s old desktop. When I started high school, I happened to find my stories tucked away in a box and spontaneously decided to write again. Since then, I’ve become influenced to take up the craft.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I’ve put the sequel to The One Left Behind: Magic on hold and I am currently working on a novel that I started for NaNoWriMo called “FML: The Final Lesson” (name is in progress). It is going to be a part of a separate mini-series centered around the themes of life, morality and understanding, but none of the stories really connect to one another aside from some similarities or cameos here and there. This is going to be the first of the saga that I create.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I prefer to mix genres, but my primary field is fantasy.

 

What authors influenced you?

Lemony Snicket. When I was nine years old, I picked up his first book in “A Series of Unfortunate Event” for a project for class, since we were assigned to read a certain amount in a month. After I finished the first, I started to devour the series until the final book concluded when I was thirteen. I always felt as though the series ended on a bad note, and it inspired me to want to create my own stories and try to tackle my own endings.

 

What are you currently reading?

Reading, uh, now? I’m sadly not reading much due to focusing more on my own works, but I’ve been dabbling on and off with Adelle Yeung’s final book in her series “The Cycle of the Six Moons.”

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

It’s come down to a few days per week solely because my job drains a lot of my motivation and energy. Nights are not fun. Nope.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Always! I listen to instrumentals, and it paints a picture in my head about the scenery that I want to create.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

Well, for one, I’ve gotten heavy development on characters, even if my plots can be a bit mundane or outlandish. There is no in-between with me. My characters from age fourteen were so dull and lifeless, and now that I’ve grown stronger in that aspect, I feel that I can carry a story well.

 

oneleftbehindHow do you create the covers for your books?

For the original cover of The One Left Behind: Magic, I enlisted the help of an artist on Deviantart that did concept art of my main character Frayle. To this day, I still adore the picture. I tend to go to other artists for my book covers.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Definitely music, and I also play a lot of JRPG’s to help fuel my idealism on characters and plot.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Oh man. I have so many, I don’t know what to do with them all.

 

How do you market your books?

I try to promote myself through author takeovers and participating in groups as much as I can. I’ve yet to have any success through online promotion websites such as BookRaider.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure!

The cinders crackled over the singed wood, rising through the midnight’s earthy air. Gusts of wind drifted through the dry oak trees, the shades of early autumn teeming from the branches in the form of cracked leaves. The stars were absent from the sky, yet a faint glimmer hovered above.

The still night of a new moon; such times were hard to fall upon. That made things even more brilliant for such an announcement.

“You feel it, don’t you?” A gravelly voice cut through the silence, catching the attention of the group that surrounded him. “This air is thick. The stigma of wind such as this besieges any and every lost soul, carrying them beyond the boundaries of time.”

“Master Hinju, you always make things more dramatic.”

Any means of a rebuttal were replaced by extended humming in a straight tone before finally, “Now is not the time for remarks.” Copper eyes opened to the sound of distant laughter caught in the indistinct gales, and a single glance at the source drew bitter silence. A stern expression coated his features as he gazed upon the group of fourteen seated around the open fire; no disturbances occurred, and he once more cleared his throat, running his fingers through the curly brown mop on his head.

“I have summoned you here today for your final examination.” For a moment, chatter progressed among the group, some questioning what he meant by a ‘final examination,’ and after a second glance, silence took over again. “Moving on… The fourteen of you have advanced through your courses with ease, rising through the ranks of your respective classes. You were hand-chosen by your mentors to reach this stage in your lives.”

“Master Hinju, what is this final examination?” One student piped up, a stalwart expression coating her pale features. “We’ve had plenty of tests, but this is the first that I’ve heard of this…”

“Curious as always, Leilana,” Hinju replied with a nod. “That is correct—you have had many of these examinations, using your time to study magic and overcome obstacles placed before you.” The man cocked his head to the right and smirked. “But how often have you been sought out by the Headmaster himself for one of them?” Leilana grew silent, tucking a loose strand of her shoulder-length dark hair behind her ear.

“He’s not wrong…” one of the students mumbled.

“I guess this is the first time we’ve had someone like Master Hinju try to teach us…”

“Your examination on the night of emptiness will be a test of your overall skill level and valor.” Hinju rose to a stand, extending his hand up towards the evening sky. “As Maesters and Arcana, you know that under the blessing of an innovative and invisible moon, you will be guided by none other than yourself. I chose this night specifically for you to give your all.” The students turned to one another in silence before continuing to listen to their Headmaster’s words. “Two by two, you will duel one another. The winners of each respective battle will progress towards the title that you each so crave—a chance to grow closer to becoming a Warlord.”

Leilana’s eyes widened at the statement, and she clutched the golden-encrusted grimoire in her arms closer to her chest, the metal vines lining the book pricking her fingers. So, that was the prize of winning a duel. Seemed simple enough.

“Would anyone like to volunteer for the first battle?”

From the group of fourteen, a boy with neck-length dark brown hair tipped his beret and rose to a stand, confidence clear in his amber eyes. “I will.”

“Ah, so the mighty Lancett Lune is our first up for battle.” Hinju nodded in approval. “I expected no less. Do you wish to choose an opponent, or shall I have the stars choose for you?” Lancet briefly turned any signs of contempt on Leilana after looking over all his possible choices at least once, and the girl met his gaze before returning a small smirk. Lancet turned to Hinju once more, a hand on his hip.

“I leave my fate in your hands, Master.”

“Very well.” Hinju closed his eyes and ran his fingers along the silver crystal at the tip of his wooden staff, the jewel illuminating a smoky gloom. The students never averted their eyes from the man, watching as the crystal’s haze began to flow over another boy seated on a log. Once he had caught notice of the beam above him, a grin upturned on his face and he shot up from his spot, his blonde hair bouncing along with him.

“Yes!” he exclaimed gleefully before brandishing what appeared to be a rapier from the sheath at his side, twirling the hilt between his fingers. “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at fighting you, Lancelot! The day has come!”

“Lancelot?” Lancett laughed at the comment before he took hold of the sword at his side, pointing it at his opponent. “Take it easy there, Kindall. I’m not some knight. One day, I’ll be a Warlord. But right now, we’re both just knaves in the field of magic.”

“Begin!” Hinju commenced.

The two boys charged for one another at the call to battle, rapier and sword interlocking, the clashing metal harmoniously in sync. Lancett shoved Kindall back with his hand, causing him to stumble before regaining his stance in time to block an oncoming strike. Kindall thrust his hand out, miniscule shards of ice rushing through his palm, cutting into Lancett’s skin before melting. Lancett’s body became shrouded in a douse of flames faster than Kindall could process, the heat and cinders hazing his vision.

Kindall leaped from the line of fire and swung his rapier, sharper icicles accelerating from the tip of the blade. Lancett cut through the shards with his sword as he boosted himself forward off his right foot, ducking under another shard before slamming his sword onto the ground. Kindall barely had the time to react when a cataclysm of earth sent him off his feet and up into the air. He gripped to a tree branch and pulled himself up, bouncing on his right then left foot in an anxious manner.

“The hell is he doing?” one of the male students exhaled. Leilana’s eyes narrowed as she kept her focus on the noble battle before her. Something about the method that the boys seemed to be taking was a little profound, as if they were slowly beginning to seep into a fractured state of bloodlust.

Kindall held up his rapier with both hands and cast down a streak of lightning at Lancett. Lancett cringed, the narrow impact sending quivers down his back. Once he had found an opportunity to strike, Kindall swung from the branch and pierced through Lancett’s defenses, knocking him to the ground. He quickly regained his footing afterwards and extended his sword forward as Kindall was rushing to him again, a swell of dark energy ensnaring the boy and locking him in place, hovering above the ground in a magenta-shaded bubble.

“Hey!” Kindall tried to slice through the bubble, to no avail. When that failed, he attempted to kick and punch it, and when his efforts came to nothing, he groaned and decided to just take a seat inside of his solitary confinement, arms crossed in a huff. “Damn! I was so close!”

Lancett sighed of relief, falling on the ground, hand over his pounding heart. “That was close… I was afraid I was gonna run out of stamina…”

“Excellent work, Maester Lune. Victory is yours,” Hinju stated, laying a hand on Lancett’s shoulder. Within seconds, the torn flesh on his face and body began to mend and close once more, as if the marks were never there.

“Thank you, Master,” Lancett replied, grinning.

“That was awesome, Lance!” One of the girls piped up, now on her feet, both hands curled into confident fists. “You’re so strong!”

“That was impressive,” Leilana agreed.

Kindall grit his teeth, anxiously rocking his right leg up and down. “There he goes again, winning the hearts of all the girls… why can’t I ever get that lucky…? I’m handsome enough, I’m strong, and I’m fun and I’m confident too, just like him… maybe I should just dye my hair or something…”

Hinju stepped up towards Kindall’s little prison and patted it a few times with his staff, the bubble bursting and causing the boy to hit the ground face-first. Kindall sat up, nearly glaring at the man before tapping his finger against the dirt, his free hand still pressed against the ground.

“Vanity does not win hearts. Nor does it appeal to those that you do seek out for guidance—it shows that you have some weakness in yourself.” He rested a hand atop the boy’s head, and a warm light washed over Kindall’s body, healing the wounds that he sustained during his duel. “But those flaws about yourself do improve your perception on what you want to improve on.” Hinju extended a hand to the boy and once Kindall had a solid grip, he pulled him to his feet. “You did admirably yourself, Mr. Mandrison. Do not take this as a loss, rather as an experience.”

“T-Thank you, Master. I will, definitely.”

“That goes for all of you,” Master Hinju continued, “When in battle, or throughout your lives, certain obstacles that you must face are not to be taken with a heavy heart. Every step forward is something that you are meant to grow from. Now, who would like to go next?”

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

My current book can be found on Amazon and NOOK! The Final Lesson is, I’m hoping, set to be released in late summer!

https://www.amazon.com/One-Left-Behind-Magic/dp/1533690448

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-one-left-behind-shakyra-dunn/1123913689?ean=9781533690449

 

Where can we find you online?

My Website: http://shakyradunnauthor.wixsite.com/seerofwords

My Review Page: http://burningmasses.shakyradunn.com

My Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SeerofWords

My Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/shakyradunn

My Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15350089.Shakyra_Dunn

My Amazon Author Account: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01H1BAPWS

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

Part of it was a lack of patience in wanting to pursue traditional publishing, and the other was fear of rejection at the time. But now that I’ve spent six months in self-publishing, I feel that I would do better in the traditional field. It’s got to be worth one try.

 

Any parting words for writers?

It may sound cliché, but never stop doing what you love. Your dream is yours alone, and once it is set in your mind, don’t stop fighting for it.

Anniversary Giveaway

Can you believe it’s been one year since I released my first collection of dark fiction (Almost) Average Anthology?

January 15th is the anniversary of it’s release and to celebrate I’m holding a one day free sale on BOTH my books.

This coming January 15th 2017, be sure to grab copies of both my books for FREE! Please share with your followers, family, and friends.

one-day-free-sale

This is a limited one day free sale so don’t delay in grabbing your copies!

(Almost) Average Anthology

Moments of Darkness

Thanks!

 

A Dragon’s Bargain

It’s the 15th and time for another tale. This month I’ve got a fantasy story for you with a knight and dragon. I’ve been fascinated by medieval lore for most of my life. Stories of Arthur and dragons have held a special place for me. This is not an Arthurian tale but I hope you find it entertaining. Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to share it with others that might like it. Thanks!


A Dragon’s Bargain

“Keep moving!” the knight shouted. Dragus listened and watched carefully. The knight in rough silver armor led a man in chains through the forest. Dragus was almost caught bathing but at the last minute he heard the chained man scream and that gave him the heads up he needed to hide. Now watching the pair trudge through the forest, he thought he recognized the chained man. His eyes narrowed as he stared, his nostrils grew large as he searched his scent.

Then the sensation overwhelmed him. Anger, fear, disgust all washed over him like a bath of evil. His eyes shot open. He knew the man. All dragons did. He was the Dragon-Slayer,  friend of man and bane of dragons. He was feared and hunted by dragons and now Dragus had him in his sights. Smoke swirled out of his nostrils, his anger stoking the flames within. Flexing his wings, he shot high in the air and with a great roar, Dragus swooped down ready to exact the furious vengeance of his race.

dragon-955348_960_720The dragon’s roar made both men look to the sky. Dragus bellowed loud. Fire belched forth from his mouth, trailing behind him. His giant leathery wings beat a rhythm of death in the air.

“By the gods! A dragon!” the knight holding the chains cried. The Dragon-Slayer tried to run but the chains held him back.

“Come on man, let me out of these bindings! He’ll kill us both!” the Dragon-Slayer said.

Dragus made a pass at them, breathing a line of fire in the forest alongside the men. The bright orange and red flames ignited the dried timber and soon a wall of flame trapped the men.

“Can you kill it Dragon-Slayer?” the knight said. He roar of the flames grew louder around them.

“Release me from these chains and I have a chance. Quickly! He’ll be coming back!”

Dragus circled above them, roaring and shooting long bursts of flame from his mouth. His chance at vengeance sent him in a frenzy.

“By the gods, kill it Dragon-Slayer. I release you!” the knight said. He unlocked the chains and thrust a sword in the hands of the Dragon-Slayer. Before he could turn away, the blade sliced through the air separating his head from his body.

“No man takes Aydan and lives,” the Dragon-Slayer said. The knight’s head rolled away from the force of the blow.

Dragus observed the men fighting and watched as the Dragon-Slayer betrayed the other man. The time was right. Alone with the Dragon-Slayer, he dropped from the sky intent on killing the bane of his kind.

A roar above made Aydan look up. Dragus breathed mighty flames towards the man. With his claws outstretched he exhaled a deep red flame but not far enough to injure the Dragon-Slayer. It was meant as cover so he could catch him in his long yellow talons.

His plan worked.

The Dragon-Slayer cowered from the flames and Dragus plucked him off the ground. The man screamed obscenities at the dragon. Dragus roared and spit flames in front of him. Aydan struggled but the talons kept him from moving.

Silver arrows pierced the dragon’s wings. Dragus cried out in pain. His wings smoked where the arrows struck. Volley after volley of the deadly silver arrows fly towards him from the forest below.

“Ha, that’s it dragon! That knight’s guard knows your weakness! Die dragon! Your head will look spectacular mounted on my wall.”

Dragus spun in the air. Arrows stung his large wings. When Aydan taunted him, Dragus clung tighter to his prey.

“That’s it dragon! Try and kill me! Use your energy on me while the arrows pierce your flesh!”

The arrows forced Dragus to the ground in a great crash. His claws were like a harness protecting Aydan who was freed from the talons when he struck the ground. Dragus roared as he tumbled across the forest floor striking trees with his tattered wings. He collapsed against a tall oak. Smoke rose from his nostrils. After a few moments, Aydan approached the wounded dragon with his sword at the ready. Dragus opened his eyes and pushed himself off the ground.

“I need you Dragon-Slayer,” Dragus said in a weak voice.

“Why would I help you?” Aydan said, “you do nothing but destroy our lands. You’re a menace that must be eliminated.”

Dragus collapsed on the ground unable to fly. Dark thick blood oozed from his pierced skin, smoking as it struck the ground around him. He tried raising his head to look at the Dragon-Slayer but was too weak to move.

“I need your help Slayer. I will die if you do nothing.”

“Precisely! That’s the point dragon. You will die. I am the last true Dragon-Slayer. My name is Aydan. You’ll go to the hell that spawned you knowing the great Aydan slew you.”

Dragus turned his head. “Aydan, you must save me. You cannot kill me.” The dragon coughed, small balls of flame shooting forth from his mouth and dissipating just as quickly.

“You’re mad dragon! I kill beasts like you, not save them. I have an entire hall of trophy heads of your kind. There’s a spot left for you.”

The dragon struggled pushing himself up and fell back to the ground. Smoke puffed from his nostrils

“Aydan!” he said, his voice booming despite his weakened condition. “You must save me! It is in your best interest to do so. When I die,” Dragus said. He coughed and wheezed, life clinging like a stubborn tick.

“My best interest?” Aydan laughed. “Dragon, that’s not the craftiest line I’ve ever heard from your kind. Go and die. Our lands need a reprieve from your destruction.”

“My life spares you from damnation Aydan. As long as I live, you will not taste the sting of a sinners death.” His eyes closed and his chest heaved. The energy of speaking exhausting him.

“Die already dragon! I tire of your chatter,” Aydan said.

Dragus opened his eyes and turned his head, the effort straining him. “Insolent fool. You know it’s true. Your dreams of death. The wailing and torture. That’s no dream, it’s your future if I die.” The dragon closed his eyes inhaling deeply. “The black pit, the never ending suffering awaits. Your actions against my kind have condemned you.” He inhaled again and lay motionless. For a moment Aydan thought he was dead. The dragon let out a long breath, groaning in pain. “Search yourself Aydan. The truth is as I speak. And if I die, nothing prevents you from it.”

Aydan wrinkled his brow. The dreams the dragon spoke of haunted him for months. Most nights he wished for rest but was cursed by the horrific images.

“How do you know this dragon?”

Dragus inhaled before speaking. “I am the gate. Through me you enter obliteration or paradise. If I die your choice it made and can never be undone.” The dragon wheezed. Aydan could see how much pain the dragon was in. “But if I live, if you share just a drop of your blood with me, I can escort you to paradise. But hurry Slayer, my life flickers.” The dragon lay motionless on the ground, his blood boiling under him, smoke rising up all around.

Ayden hesitated. “What if your words are false? How do I know you’re true?” Dragus coughed, his body losing strength with every passing moment.

“The dreams Slayer. Search yourself,” Dragus said, his voice now a low rumble.

With his dagger, Aydan sliced his arm drawing blood. The bloody dagger was thrust towards the dragon’s mouth and he dropped some of his blood on his tongue. When he did a bright flash consumed the dragon, blinding Aydan. When the light winked out, the dragon sat before Aydan full of life.

“Thank you Slayer,” Dragus said. His voice was deeper than before without a hint of weakness. Aydan held his sword in front of him.

“I saved you. I expect you’ll keep your word dragon! We have a bargain.”

Dragus sniffed the air. The scent of the archers nowhere to be found. He and Aydan were alone. He exhaled dark gray smoke from his nostrils. “Aydan, a dragon keeps its word. Always.”

Large heavy wings unfolded behind Dragus. He rose in the air, snorting smoke and fire.

Aydan howled when the flames engulfed him. Scorched flesh sizzled in the intense heat. Dragus roared his victory, the sound echoing throughout the forest. Aydan fell to the ground in a blackened heap of ash. Dead.

Dragus shot upwards, circling around the charred body. “The only trophy we need! The arrogant Slayer no longer a threat. And his paradise of wailing awaits. With the Slayers blood running through my veins, never can man slay dragon again. Never!” Dragus snatched the smoking body and flew fast across the forest, free and alive. The rest of the horde would soon share in the victory and dragon-kind would once again rule the land.

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The Gem and the Hide

It’s time for another short story and this month is a fun fantasy piece I wrote a while back. I’m determined to one day write a longer novel length Medieval/fantasy piece but until then, I’ll keep writing these.

Read on for my latest story and feel free to leave a comment, like the story below, or share it with others. I do appreciate all the support!


The Gem and the Hide

Gerald approached the cave with his heart beating loudly in his chest.  Lady Ygraine needed the gems from deep within the cave at the wizard Shonar’s request in order for her kingdom to be free of the dark Lord Mormet.  As her champion, Gerald took his quest seriously.  He was Lady Ygraine’s only hope.  He’d not fail her now.

Lighting a torch, Gerald wiped his brow and stepped inside.

He wound his way through endless tunnels, following the map given to him by Lady Ygraine.  He found the sparkling green and blue gems, encrusted in the surrounding walls.  Reaching out to pry a strikingly bright green gem from the cave’s wall, the room started spinning.  The floor disappeared from under him and he fell for a long time only to land safely on soft ground.

Gerald found himself surrounded by thousands of blinking lights, twinkling their song at him.  He shielded his eyes from the visual onslaught.

“What pray tell are ye that flashes this infernal device!  Yield.  I yield!” he shouted to the lights.  A strange series of clicking sounds enveloped him.  With a flash, everything turned bright white then all stopped.

He felt solid ground underneath and stood.  He couldn’t see a thing.

“I must leave this cursed cave before anything more vile and hideous befalls me,” he said out loud.  He reached around with his hands in the blinding whiteness but found no walls nor gems which to hold.  He looked around searching for anything to get him back outside.

Nothing.

He walked straight ahead, arms outstretched, searching for a wall or any surface with which to guide himself.

He stepped on a soft, squishy substance and stopped.  Bending down, he nudged the viscous material.  It was warm to the touch and gave just the slightest.  Surprised, Gerald stood up and continued his cautious walk forward.

Ferocious hot air fueled by enormous flames whooshed past him, singeing his beard.

“By the gods, what hell am I in?” he said.

“You my pretty, you are in my home.  My sanctuary.  You are an intruder.”

“Who’s there?” Gerald called out to the voice.  Thin tendrils of smoke whisped from his mustache and eyebrows.  He patted them down, hoping to extinguish whatever small flame caused it.

“I do not answer to mortals of the fifth realm.  You are in my home, you answer to me.”

The voice was harsh, raspy, and male.

“I am Gerald of the Moors, champion of Lady Ygraine, the keeper of the Valley.  I kneel to no one!” he replied.

The voice cackled.  “Then why did you yield so quickly…champion?”  Gerald bent his head low.

“That’s what I thought.  You are nothing.  You are in my home Gerald.  Why do you bother me in the seventh realm.  You don’t belong here.”

“I’m on a quest to retrieve the jewels in this cave.  My lady needs them to save her kingdom.  Will you help me?”

Another loud, long laugh from the voice.  “I told you Gerald, you don’t belong here.  You are much to far from home now.  You are my champion now.  You do what I want.”

Gerald’s heart sank low.  His beloved Ygraine, the only Lady he’d ever truly loved was lost to him.  All he had was this formless voice to command him.

The voice spoke out again.  “If you do my bidding, I might be kind enough to send you back to your dimension.  Fail me, and your soul is mine.  Forever!”

Gerald wrung his hands, thinking over the proposal.

“Spirit, my life is yours to command.  I give to you all I am, only so I may return to my Lady Ygraine,” Gerald replied.  A soft cackle answered him.

“You will bring me the hide of a boar.  It needs be white in color and red of eye.  Bring it back within a fortnight and your realm I will send you.  Now go!”

Before Gerald could reply, the scene shifted again like a veil removed from his eyes.  He stood in an old forest full of large trees unfamiliar to him.  He spun around searching for the cave.  Light twinkled from a knot in the nearest tree.  He stepped towards it.

“I said go!  Come back when you have the hide or your soul is mine,” a voice said to him from the twinkling knot.  Gerald marked the tree with his sword and took off in search of his quarry.

After seven days of fruitless searching, Gerald lost hope.  He saw no boar.  And a white one would be even harder to find.  Late that afternoon as he sat under a tall tree enjoying the comforts of the shade, he spotted it.

Across from him about fifty paces away was the beast.  It was larger than any man and whiter than snow.  It snorted and rooted in the dirt, covering its snout with brown and black.

Gerald’s eyes lit up.  Hope burst through his veins.  He crouched low and made his way towards the boar as silent as possible.  When he was within ten paces, he drew his sword and lunged.  The beast jerked its head up at the sound but it was too late.  Gerald thrust his blade deep within its heart, killing it.  He skinned it and hurried back to the knot in the tree.

A brilliant light shone from the knot and Gerald again found himself inside the white nothingness though this time holding the hide of the slain boar.

“I have your treasure, now grant my request as promised,” Gerald said to the nothingness.  Silence.  “Spirit, listen!  I have your bounty, now grant me my boon!”  To his right, Gerald heard the soft familiar cackle.

“So, you’ve slain the beast, eh?  My what a diligent knight you are.  Well, a promise is a promise.”

The hide disappeared and Gerald fell once again into a deep void until he landed on hard ground.  He pushed himself off the ground and recognized the cave instantly.  He reached out, grabbed a green and blue gem, and ran out as fast as he could.

Upon his return to the castle, Lady Ygraine marveled at his success.

“You’ve been gone so long!  I feared Lord Mormet would gain the kingdom.  You truly are my hero!”  She kissed him, causing his face to turn a pinkish color.

“Well, you have done a wonderful thing here Gerald.  Fortunately for you and the kingdom, Lord Mormet could not attain the sacred hide from the seventh realm,” Lady Ygraine said.

Gerald’s face lost all color.  He spun around to face the wizard Shonar.

“What sorcery are you about Shonar?  Tell me!” Gerald shouted.  Shonar shrugged.

“Nothing.  But luckily for you, Lord Mormet didn’t get that hide.  If he had, these gems would have no power.  This kingdom would be under his rule and we’d be helpless to stop him,” Shonar replied.

“But how do you know?” Gerald asked.

Shonar waved a hand in the air.  “Wizards know much Gerald, it’s what we do.”

Shonar turned to walk away and Gerald swore he heard a familiar soft cackle as the wizard strode down the walkway, a faint glow surrounding his body.