Slave Elf, Part 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Luxury-Hotel-In-Istanbul-525543149, http://orig01.deviantart.net/4aef/f/2015/098/b/e/luxury__hotel_in__istanbul_by_villazurich-d8ow7ot.jpg

 

Part 1 here.

Part 7

At a few minutes after nine I was led into the breakfast room. Alexis Traford was at the buffet along the right-side wall, selecting morsels from chafing dishes to put on his plate. Lady Traford came in behind me.

“Good morning, Princess Delia.” The lady stopped and gave me a peck on the cheek then took my arm in hers.

“Well enough, Lady Traford. Thank you for asking.” I nodded at Alexis as he turned from the buffet. “Good morning, Lord Traford.”

“Good morning, Princess.” He smiled as he sat down. “I’m glad you’re joining us.”

“The lady walked me to the buffet. “We keep breakfast casual. Serve yourself whatever you’d like.” She nodded in the direction of a uniformed man at the door at the back of the room. “Lors will pour tea, coffee, juice or water, as you indicate.”

I gave the man a nod which he returned. “Thank you, Lady.” I picked up a plate and studied the buffet. Bacon, sausage, and what looked like some sort of meat loaf in slices, scrambled eggs, potatoes both white and orange, then platters of fruits, rolls and sliced bread, followed by four varieties of cheese and cold cuts. Not my usual bowl of mush. I selected fruit and a roll and sat down. Lady Traford followed and sat across from me.

Lors appeared at my side. “What would the Princess, prefer?”

“Tea, please.”

“I’ll take the same, Lars,” Lady Traford added. “And a glass of juice.”

The man nodded and moved to a buffet on the other wall and prepared the drinks.

“Are you feeling well?” The Lady looked over my sparsely filled plate.

“I’m well. I had a small breakfast a few hours ago.”

She nodded and smiled as she cut into her sausage. “I suspected as much. Is Pricilla working out for you?”

“Yes. Thank you for the loan of her. A nice young woman.” I cut my melon into tiny pieces and speared a slice to eat.

Alexis joined the conversation, half of his plate of food already demolished. “Father asked me to lead you to the tutor, Princess, when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Lord Traford.”

“Please, that’s my father. Call me Alexis.”

I glanced at his mother. She seemed to be fine with that. “And call me Delia, please. Princess seems,” I waved my hand, “too formal.”

At that I saw the Lady’s eyebrow twitch but she gave her son a small nod. “Of course, Delia. I’d be honored.”

That settled, the meal passed pleasantly until the Lady rose. “I must meet with my secretary. So much correspondence.”

Alexis rose and went to his mother. He gave her a peck on the cheek and took her arm as she walked to the door. He opened it for her. “You have a wonderful day, Mother. Shall I see you at dinner?”

“Yes, son.” She kissed him back. “You may want to go to the stables this morning. One of the stallions seems to have a problem. Talk to the stable master about it.”

His head bowed. “Of course, Mother. I’ll see to it immediately.”

“I’ll see you this evening, Princess.”

“I look forward to it.” Delia nodded her head and Lady Traford left.

I gave a small sigh of relief.

“We can delay if you’d like more to eat,” Alexis said.

“I’m finished.” I dropped my napkin on the table and rose. “It’s time to meet my tutor.”

He led me out of the small dining room. Pricilla was waiting outside of the door. “Lord Traford is taking me to the tutor, Pricilla. Thank you for waiting.”

“Yes, miss.”

“She’ll be in the conservatory, Pricilla.” Alexis held out his arm. “Shall we proceed?”

“Certainly.” I did my best to quiet the butterflies in my stomach. I was glad I hadn’t eaten much. On the way, Alexis entertained me with stories about the portraits and landscapes on the walls of ancestors and famous battles. We arrived at the conservatory relaxed.

The space was huge, walled on three sides with glass. It was lush and green and humid, a definite change from the desert environment where Katzin was located. I tried to take in all of the different flowering plants as he walked me around the central plantings to an open set of double doors on the second wall. There a small wrought-iron table and chairs sat, a tea tray in the middle, looking out to a lawn and garden outside. It was very lovely.

A man sat at the table, looking out. He turned at our approach, and rose as we neared. My breath caught in my throat. It was an elf.

He had long blond hair, pulled back on the sides to a braid that fell over the back hair. He was silver at the temples, with deep brown eyes, flecks of gold in the irises and high cheek-bones making his face seem aristocratic. A tooled leather belt at his waist, with a silver dragon buckle, set off the sage green tunic. His fawn colored breeches were tucked into knee-high brown leather boots. He wore a silver pin sigil on his left breast of a spreading tree.

“Lord Enaur, this is Delia, Princess of the house of Ucheni. Princess Delia, this is Lord Enaur, a mage of renown, from your father’s kingdom.” He bowed as he stepped back.

I could hardly take my eyes off of the elf. He studied me. “Welcome back, Princess.”

“Thank you, Lord Enaur.” My mouth was nearly too dry to speak.

“Will you have tea with me?” he asked as he indicated the tray beside us.

My knees felt like water. “Yes. Certainly.” I gripped the back of the chair next to me and controlled myself as I sat.

“I’ll take my leave, then.” Alexis bowed to the mage, then me, turned and left out of the open doors.

I clasped my hands in my lap to control the trembling.

Enaur, sat down and poured tea for us both. We were silent through the adding of cream and sugar. Once his cup was to his satisfaction and he’d replaced it in the saucer, he took a breath.

“I’ve been informed that you were told who you are just last night.” He studied my face. “It must have been a shock.”

I nodded. “It was. I still have difficulty rearranging what I thought about my life until now.”

He sipped again. “Drink your tea.” He looked around the conservatory. “Then we’ll walk around the gardens and I’ll give you more background.

I picked up my cup and sipped. This was a more robust tea than I’d had for breakfast. Fortifying. I glanced around the conservatory. Did he suspect listeners? I emptied the cup.

He rose and held out his hand. I took it and rose beside him. “I have much to share, and a message from your parents.”

We left the brick-floored conservatory and stepped out onto the green lawn. What could the message be?

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 8.

1163 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf, Part 6: Flash Fiction Friday Post

By Randy Cockrell

Reminder: All stories on my blog are drafts. I do my best to have the spelling and puctuation clear but there will be errors. Please bear with me as I decide if this serial should be in 3rd or 1st person.

Part 6

After a restless night, I rose just as the sun began to brighten the eastern sky. The clouds were pink and blue, changing gradually to yellow, then orange as the sun came up over the city towers. I washed in the cold water left me and put on a blue dress from the wardrobe. It fit me perfectly and I idly wondered how Lady Traford knew my size. The dress had a subtle dark green design woven into the fabric and I found shoes to match. Dressed, I rang the pull next to my bed and went into the sitting room.

I opened the curtains there and watched the sun rise until a soft knock sounded at the door. “Come in.”

The door opened to reveal a young woman. She was discreetly dressed in a dove gray gown, a white apron over all, her black hair pulled back and put up in a bun at the back of her head. She stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. “You rang, Princess?”

I had to recover at the honorific. It was still too strange. “Yes.” I swallowed, unaccustomed to giving orders. “What’s your name?”

“Pricilla, Princess.” She bowed her head.

“Pricilla, I’d like breakfast served here. Something light. I’ll attend breakfast with the Lady, later.”

“Yes, Princess.” She turned to leave.

“Wait.”

Pricilla turned back to me, hands folded in front of her. “My Lady.”

“Have you been up all night waiting for a call from me?”

“No, My Lady. I came on duty an hour ago. Lady Traford thought you might rise early, this being a new place to you. I’ll be your personal maid for the time being.”

I stared at her. She hardly looked old enough. “How old are you, Pricilla?”

“Twenty, My Lady.”

She seemed so solemn. “Thank you, Pricilla.”

The girl turned and left. I sat in the window seat and watched the city wake. When Pricilla returned, she had a tray with her. “On the window seat, Princess, or on the table?”

“The window seat, please.”

She carried the tray over and placed it at the opposite end of the cushion. “Shall I pour, Princess?”

“No, I can do it. Please, pull a chair over and sit with me.” I saw an eyebrow twitch but she nodded and carried over a small chair and placed it near the tray, facing me.

“Good. Thank you. Tell me how long you’ve been in service here?” I poured tea for myself. Then selected some cut fruit, a square of orange cheese and a roll and pulled them all over in front of me.

“Three years, Princess. My father indentured me to Lord Traford.”

“I see.” I blew across the tea cup and sipped. It was a nice dark tea, with a floral and citrus undercurrent. Perfect for breakfast. “And what do you do here?”

“I worked in the kitchen, at first, scut work. Then the House Keeper moved me to cleaning rooms. She must have liked my work because later I became Lady Traford’s, third maid. Occasionally I served visiting ladies. Now I am your maid.” She studied her hands, folded in her lap when she finished.

“You must be very clever or they wouldn’t have promoted you so quickly.”

Pricilla shrugged. “So it seems. I do my work well and keep what I hear to myself.”

I nodded. “Discretion is a valuable characteristic.” I knew from keeping Master Corbet’s counsel how much it was valued. “Would you rather not be my maid?”

“I do as I’m told, Princess.” Her eyes stayed on her hands.

“And what have you been told to do?” I wondered if she was a spy for Lord Traford. If she was, would she tell me?

She raised her head to face me. “Follow your orders for your care and well-being. Keep your apartment clean and tidy. Care for your clothing and person. Run errands for you if needed.”

I broke off a bit of cheese and bread and chewed them while I thought. “And what are you supposed to report to Lord Traford?”

“I’ve been given no instruction on that, Princess.”

Whether she had or not, sooner or later the Lord would want to know what I was thinking and saying. I nodded to her. “I don’t have any instruction for you except to come back at nine and escort me to breakfast. I don’t know my way around the house yet. After breakfast, I’m to meet a tutor. I have no idea how long that will take, or if lessons will begin immediately. In any case, if you can determine my schedule, I’d appreciate you being there at the end of the meeting or the lesson, to bring me back here. Eventually I’ll know my way around and won’t need that type of hand-holding.”

“Yes, Princess.”

“I don’t require a lot of care, Pricilla. Mostly escort until I learn my way around and caring for my apartment and clothing. I suspect I won’t have time to do those things myself.”

Her eyebrows rose at the last statement.

I chuckled. “I’ve been caring for myself for a long time, Pricilla. Trust me that I do know how.”

The girl nodded. “Yes, Princess.”

I wiped my hands on the linen napkin and placed it on the tray. “Have you eaten?”

“No, Princess.”

I waved at the tray. “Help yourself. You brought more than enough.”

Her eyes went wide. “Oh no, Princess. That’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t even be sitting in your presence.”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Of course not. Standards must be maintained. I looked her in the eyes. “I apologize, Pricilla. I won’t presume again.”

I could hear a tiny sigh of relief as she did a small bow. “Thank you, Princess.”

“I’m finished. You can take the tray away and go get your breakfast.”

She rose from the chair and put it back where it belonged. Picking up the tray she said, “I’ll return at nine.”

“That will be fine. Thank you, Pricilla.”

She bowed and left the apartment. I leaned back against the wall, staring out over the city. Sunlight touched the high points, inching its way down the walls to the streets below where early morning vendors were beginning to open shops and pull carts into the streets. I could feel my stomach knot with stress over what the morning would bring.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 7.

1068 Words

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Slave Elf Part 5: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Palace on the Isle by shpyo via www.DeviantArt.com
http://www.deviantart.com/art/Palace-on-the-Isle-678301769

See Part 1 here.

Part 5

I sat, numb. The struggle to grasp the fact that I had a family and that they were at war and that they were royalty was too much to bear. Finally, a clear thought came to me. “I don’t have any powers.”

“Your parents mentioned that you would begin to see them manifest at this age.” Lord Traford tugged his lace-hemmed sleeves down inside his brocade jacket. “I have employed a tutor for you to help you through this period of learning to use them.”

I looked at Master Corpet. “You mean I’m no longer a slave?” I could feel my heart racing as my hands twisted in my lap.

“That is true, though to me, you were never a slave. A ward, would be the best way to put it.” He grinned at me as though he was pleased with himself.

A wave of anger washed over me that made me gasp. “A ward? Really?” I shot up from my seat. “Controlled like a dog for decades. Leered at by your men. Whipped by Emil. Locked in my wagon when elves were near.” My voice quavered with passion.

Surprise filled his face. “Whipped?” he stammered. “No one was to touch you. Ever.”

I snorted. “Emil thinks it’s funny to ride up to my wagon and use his quirt on me then ride off.” I folded my arms over my chest trying to contain my fury. I spun to face Lord Traford. “Why was I not educated in the life of my people? I’m to be a savior and I have no idea what or who they are!”

All three men stood up. Lord Traford placed a hand over his heart. “My Lady. Please forgive us. We followed the King’s orders. I don’t know why he gave them, only that he did.”

Corpet reached out a hand. It was meant to be a comfort but I shot him a glare that should have roasted him on the spot. I paced the length of the room and back again, stopping in front of the Lord. “What’s next then?”

He cleared his throat. “I have an apartment prepared for you, here in the palace. I’ve arranged for you to meet your tutor tomorrow after breakfast.”

I closed my eyes. My greatest dream, freedom, was coming true and all I could think about were my pitiful possessions in my wagon. “What about my things?”

“I’ll have them sent, first thing in the morning,” Corpet rushed to say. “I’m sorry, Delia, for causing you so much pain. It was never my intention.”

I started to smooth it over, as I would have as a slave. I bit back the comment. “Intention or not, it happened. My entire childhood spent making myself small and invisible. No parents, no love.” I shook with the pent up emotion. “Abused.”

He looked devastated. I didn’t care.

“Princess.” Alexis intervened.

I turned to face him.

“I’m sure Master Corpet did the best he could given the circumstances. We’re all a little out of our depths here. It must be very disconcerting for you, especially.”

That, at least, was true. My entire reality had just been shifted. I reached down and picked up my sherry, draining the glass. From slave to princess in a single sentence. I drew a deep breath. “Very well.” I put the glass back on the table. “I’d like to retire to my apartment.”

All three men began nodding and making apologetic noises. “I’ll lead you to your apartment,” Alexis said. He went to the door and held it open.

“Gentlemen.” I nodded curtly to Corpet and Lord Traford and left the room.

Alexis guided me through the palace, up another flight of stairs and down a long hall. He stopped at the last door on the right and opened the double doors. “I do hope you find everything to your liking.

We entered a sitting room. A circle of armchairs surrounded a low table, similar to the arrangement in the library I had just left but in feminine pastels, primarily greens and blues. Landscape paintings hung on the pale green walls and a bookcase filled with volumes was centered on the wall to my right. Opposite the door was a bank of windows with a window seat cushioned and pillowed to match the armchairs. To the right of the windows was a door where I found my bedroom. Again, wide windows with window seat, a bed wide enough to sleep four people was opposite the door. A dressing table was on the wall with the door. A fireplace was on the wall facing the window with two armchairs facing it.  I could fit three of my wagons in the bedroom alone.

“This is nice.”

Alexis bowed. “Mother did her best to make the rooms pleasing to you.”

“I’ll thank her when I see her.” Suddenly I was exhausted. “Thank you for showing me the apartment.”

“My pleasure.” He backed out of the room. “I shall leave you now, to your rest.”

I followed him to the door.

“There’s a bell pull next to your bed and one here.” He pointed to a long ribbon of fabric hanging by the door to the hall. “Just pull it and a servant will be here shortly if you need anything.”

“I appreciate that.”

“Breakfast is at nine but if you wish, you can have the servants bring you something earlier.”

“Very thoughtful.”

He stepped into the hall. “Good night, Princess.”

“Sleep well, Lord Traford.”

He bowed again and closed the doors. I went into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe. Several dresses hung there, along with several pairs of shoes. The dresser held undergarments, bedclothes and dressing gowns. I pulled a pair of bedclothes from the drawer and changed. As I took down my hair and brushed it out, I tried to sort out what had happened to me.

I had a family. Parents anyway. Did I have brothers or sisters? I had an uncle who was challenging my father, the king, for the throne. I was supposed to have powers. What would those be? They purposely hid me. With a slave caravan. Purposely kept me ignorant. Why?

I had very many questions and no answers.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 6.

1038 Words

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Slave Elf Part 4: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Nilagiri Palace in Odisha by PatraTravels via DeviantArt.com http://www.deviantart.com/art/Nilagiri-Palace-in-Odisha-678700094

See Part 1 here

 

Part 4

Dinner went as I expected. I was too nervous to eat and I had no idea how to tell these aristocrats that I was a slave. I did my best to keep my comments to how nice they looked. We had nothing else in common.

After dinner, the ladies retired to a drawing room where a young woman played soft tunes on a harp while the men assembled in the library. There was more awkward conversation to go through as each lady made the time to come over to my chair and ask me questions about my life in the caravan. Many were amazed that I kept the books. One dowager was utterly aghast. “You read, write and do math?” She gave a nervous giggle as she raised her eyebrows to her friends. “Very unseemly for a woman to be educated. Very.” Then she walked over to a group of women and whispered something that had them all turn and stare at me. I heartily wished I could be back in my wagon.

That’s when a servant arrived and went to the Lady Traford. She came over to me, a puzzled look on her face. “Lord Traford asks for you to join him and Master Corpet in the study.” She pointed to the servant. “He’ll escort you.”

All the ladies within earshot turned to stare. This was apparently something very unusual. I rose and bowed my head. “Please excuse me, Lady Traford. I’ve had a lovely evening.”

She nodded in return and I went to the servant, holding the door open. I followed him through the house to a room upstairs and over the drawing room. Here I found Lord Traford, his son, and Master Corpet in armchairs around a low table. They each had a tumbler in front of them or in hand. Sam was not in sight.

Lord Traford stood. “Delia. Thank you for joining us. Please,” he waved to an empty armchair, “join us.”

Alexis rose also and bowed. Corpet raised his glass in salute. I took the proffered chair and sat on the edge of the seat. “Sherry?” Alexis asked. “Or would you prefer to share our whiskey with us?”

“The sherry, please.” I nodded.  My mind was in complete confusion. What could I be doing here?

Alexis went to the small bar and poured a glass of sherry and returned, handing it to me with a bow and a smile. I had all I could do to keep my hands from trembling. After he returned to his seat, his father began.

“This must all seem confusing to you, Delia.” He looked at Corpet and his son. They both nodded. “We have a matter of some consequence to discuss with you.”

I placed the glass of sherry on the table and folded my hands in my lap to keep them from shaking. Lord Traford was scaring me.

“Master Corpet reminds me that you’ve been with him over sixty years now. A whole lifetime.”

My mouth went dry. Fear washed through me. And dread. What was coming?

“We believe it’s time to let you in on our secret.”

I nodded. I couldn’t trust my voice not to quaver.

He sipped his whiskey and replaced it on the table. “My father is the one who put you into Master Corpet’s care.”

Care? How was making me a slave, care?

What I was thinking must have shown on my face. Traford raised his hand. “Please, I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Your parents gave you to my father for a reason.”

My hands twisted in my lap as a roaring filled my ears. My parents gave me up? What?

“I’m sorry. I’m making a bungle of this. What I mean is, they gave you to us to hide you.”

I stared at Corpet. He nodded. “It’s true, Delia. You were in great danger if you had stayed with your parents. I’ve done my best for you, I have.”

I thought back to Emil, who had made my life a misery since he joined the caravan. It was not uncommon for him to ride up beside my wagon and strike me on the thigh with his quirt then dash off, laughing, as I nursed the pain. That was the best Corpet could do? I clenched my teeth together and gave a brief nod. I turned back to Lord Traford. “What danger, my Lord?”

“What do you know about the Elves?”

I thought it an evasive question. “Not much. I haven’t been allowed to talk to them. I’ve had no instruction and have read no histories about them.” I’m afraid I let my voice reveal how angry I was.

The Lord merely nodded. “Were you aware the Elves, like us humans, have a King?”

I nodded.

“King Ucheni is his name. The queen is Ralae. They have been fighting for the last sixty-five years against his uncle, Iyuno, who started a civil war to claim the throne. It has been a struggle but the king’s advisors have been waiting for a prophesy to come to fruition.” Lord Traford sipped his whiskey and resettled himself in his chair.

I waited for the rest of the story. Alexis had draped his right leg over his left and seemed bored. Corpet was studying me, sitting forward, eager, almost.

The Lord continued. “The prophecy is that a savior will come to them. More powerful than any elf in a thousand years, the savior will settle all arguments and bring peace to the land.”

“How do they know the prophecy is true?”

“They had a sign, sixty-five years ago.”

I noticed that all three men were watching me. Waiting for something. “What was the sign?”

“A black-haired elf child.”

My mind spun. I blinked at him. “You mean…”

He nodded. “Yes, Delia. It’s you.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 5.

965 Words

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Things are Moving: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

The weather has been unsettled. Probably not a surprise for the end of winter and early spring but still, it’s interrupted plans for walking around the neighborhood and testing out my plantar faciitis. Oh well.

I did edits on Tested, the fourth book in the Brown Rain series. I don’t want to send it to the editor, though, until I get Mystery at the Book Festival published. It’s coming, may be end of May before it’s published though.

I’m already thinking about a Nook promo for Mystery at the Book Festival. I’ll make the ebook of Mystery at the Fair free, for a time, to encourage people to get into the series. I’ll be working with some other authors on that promo so you’ll get the chance to try out new to you authors at little to no risk. Good deal for you.

The unsettled weather has also delayed getting my roses cut back. Sigh. Now they’re really starting to bud out. I need to get out there this week! Hold my feet to the fire, would you? I want to stop by one of the hardware stores or the local gardening store to find seed potatoes. I can plant them now and harvest in July. Then dig them up and plant carrots afterward. I love gardening in Arizona.

Have you been reading my serial, Mystery at the Dog Park? I’ve had some wonderful comments from KD Clark. The story is based in the Jean Hays series and as an added bonus, I’m using pictures of dogs up for adoption from the Payson Humane Society to illustrate each section. I had fun writing the story. Links to each section are at the top of each post so it’s easy to go back to the first episodes and catch up.

Speaking of free books, this week is Read an eBook Week. I have several books on special pricing for the event. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/ and search on my name. I have put Mystery at the Fair up for free for this week. Other books are just .99, some are $2.99. Enjoy and spread the word. If you do get one or more of my books, remember to write a short, honest review. It really helps an author out.

 

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is going strong. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. Get in on the opportunity to win $100 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 35 authors, that’s over 70 prizes! Hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight March 17th.

 

Shout Out:

I’d like to mention humane societies. They do their best for the creatures brought to them. However, some dogs or cats end up living there their entire lives. If you are thinking of getting a pet, please consider your local humane society. A wonderful dog or cat will thank you forever. Annie Bamber

Outreach Programs Coordinator

(928) 474-5590 ext. 100

annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org

www.humanesocietycentralaz.org

Like us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/

“Because They Matter”

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

This week, March 9th at 10am, I’ll be interviewed on KPJM-FM by host Pam Newman. We’ll be talking about Mystery in the Woods and the Payson Book Festival. You can listen here: http://www.kpjm-fm.com/listen-live/

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the above mentioned Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Found: Key, Part X of X – Friday Flash Fiction Post

 

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Part X of X http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426 by LiveFast-x

NOTE: This final installment is a little longer than the usual flash piece. Enjoy.”

 

Ying opened the door to the antique shop. “You’ll love this place.”

“I already love it. It’s where I met you!” Jason kissed her cheek as he entered.

Inside, Eleanor was at the counter cashoug out a customer. She nodded at Ying, acknowledging her presence. In the background, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played. It was a little heavy for Ying’s taste but played as softly as it was, it made for a relaxing stroll around the store. Ying inhaled the scent of lemon polish and bees was, detectable but not overwhelming. It provided her a feeling of quiet and comfort.

Jason stopped inside the door and looked around. Ying couldn’t help noticing, even with her annoyance at being manipulated, how nice he looked in his Dockers and polo shirt.

“I can see why you like it here. Lovely things surround you.” He turned and smiled. “Have you bought anything yet?”

“Not yet.” She threaded her arm through his, the one with the watch, and led him to the Chinese screen she’d noticed on her first visit. “What do you think?”

“It’s gorgeous! What are you waiting for?”

Ying shrugged. “It’s kind of pricey.”

“Nonsense. You should get it. It’s perfect.” He dropped her arm and stepped to the screen to examine it.”

Eleanor joined Ying. “Hello.”

“Eleanor. You’ve met Jason.”

Jason stepped away from the screen and held out his right hand, the watch clearly visible on his bare wrist. “Nice to meet you under better circumstances.”

“Yes. It is.” She glanced at his watch. “What a lovely watch.”

He pulled his hand back, left hand covering the watch. “Thank you. A family heirloom.”

Eleanor exchanged glances with Ying. “Would you mind if I looked at it? Professional interest, you know.”

Ying thought he looked uncomfortable. He spun the watch around his wrist several times. She was waiting for the rush of warmth but it never came. Jason was looking at Eleanor, who suddenly looked confused.

“Eleanor?” Ying put her hand on her friend’s arm.

Eleanor gave herself a little shake and smiled at Jason. “I won’t damage it, I promise.”

It was Jason’s turn to look confused. He glanced at the watch.

“Go ahead, Jason. She’s an expert.”

His eyes met hers, then back to Eleanor’s. “Umm, I suppose.” His reluctance to unclasp the ltach and hand the watch to Eleanor was obvious in his slow movements. Jason lay the watch in Eleanor’s outstretched palm.

Eleanor hefted the watch. “Gold, I presume?”

Jason nodded. “It was my great-great-great-grandfather’s.”

“The style is certainly old. Let me get my lupe.” Eleanor turned and strode to the counter.

Ying watched Jason dart after Eleanor as though she were stealing the watch. That was inconclusive proof that the watch was magic. He would do the same if it were simply what he claimed. She followed them to the counter.

Eleanor had laid the watch out on a square of black velvet. Jason’s hands hovered at the edge of the cloth. Ying had to admit it was a handsome watch. The face, also gold, had gold hands elaborately pointed and engraved. The face had what looked like diamons at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with the following numbers in ruby and the last four numbers in emeralds. Mystic symbols were engraved on the face. The antique dealer fixed her lupe to her eye and without touching it, examined the watch closely. She already had her book of artifacts open on the counter beside the watch.

“It’s a beautiful piece, late 1800’s? It must have cost a great deal. Watches for men were only just coming into style.”

Jason nodded. “No one ever said how much it cost.” His voice was tight – as though having the watch on the counter was painful.

Ying put her arm around his waist. “A wondful keepsake, Jason.”

“Hmm,” was his response. He watched Eleanor flip through her book.

“I don’t see anything like it.” She took the lupe from her eye. “It must have been custom made.”

Ying watched Jason stiffen as Eleanor flipped the watch face down. She studied the back. “a lovely sentiment is engraved on the back. ‘To my darling Husband, Love and Long Life, Mary’” She looked up. The elaborate script is right for the time frame. “Your three greats grand-mother? What was her maiden name?”

He sighed. “Mary Whitten. It was her wedding gift to him.”

Eleanor pulled another book from the shelf and began flipping pages. “Ah, here she is. An accomplished woman, your grand-mother.”

Jason picked up the watch and put it back on. “Yes, she was, in her day.”

Eleanor looked him in the eye. “You know she was considered a great Spiritualist?”

“All table knocking non-sense, of couse.”

Her eyebrow rose. “You think so?”

Ying noticed Jason begin to fidget.

“Nice to have met you again, Eleanor. Ying, I have a meeting back at the office.” He twisted his watch.

As the warm glow came over her, Ying clasped the key. The nausea and the glow fought for a moment, then they both disappeared. “I know the watch is magical, Jason.

He stopped and turned back to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that I know the watch has magic. You twist it on your arm whenever we meet or when you want me to do something. A few minutes ago you tried to use it on Eleanor.” Ying raised an eyebrow at Eleanor. “I’m not sure why it didn’t work on you.”

“We’re trained to resist magic used on us.” She shrugged at Jason. “Your watch’s magic isn’t very powerful against trained people.”

Jason stared at both Eleanor and Ying. “You’re magicians?”

Ying shook her head. “No. but I carry a powerful artifact. I could feel it every time you used the watch.” She saw his face fall. “It wasn’t necessary, you know. You’re charming, funny, smart, I’d have gone out with you without the manipulations.”

Jason closed his eyes and sighed. “I thought so but you’re so high-powered, I didn’t think you’d take the time.” His eyes focused on the key around her neck. “You have an artifact? A magical piece?”

Her hand crept up to the key. “Yes. I found it. Or it found me. It’s good with business.”

“Wow.”

The two stood staring at each other. Ying was certain he would break up with her and she realized she wanted him to stay.

Eleanor cleared her throat. “I think, if I may be so bold, that the watch is making it possible for you two to be together.”

It was Ying’s turn to be puzzled. “How so?”

“Just a guess, really.” Eleanor glanced at Jason. “No other documented owner has had a family. So something has changed.” She made a pointed look at zjason’s watch. “The watch has to be the difference.”

Ying reached out and stroked Jason’s watch. It was warm to the touch, nothing at all like touching metal. She smiled at him as the familiar warm glow washed through her. “I think this could work.”

 

Thank You!

 

End Part X of X: 1186 Words

 

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Found: Key, Part I – Friday Flash Fiction Blog

Key by Chunkygummybear via www.deviantart.com

Key by Chunkygummybear via www.deviantart.com

http://www.deviantart.com/art/key-62685439, Key by chunkygummybears

Part I

Ying Lee hurried along the sidewalk, high-heels clicking a staccato beat, her briefcase tapping against her skirted thigh. She rehearsed her presentation as she traveled. If she could land this account, that would put her in the running for partner. She felt good about this. She’d been emailing her potential client, sending him freebies, making friends. Today it was time to close the deal.

A glint from the sidewalk made her step stutter. She backed-up, causing the man behind her to bump her shoulder. “Sorry.” He glared but went on. Ying stopped and stared at the grubby junction between the building and the cement sidewalk. Crouching, she studied the key that lay in the dirt. It didn’t look shiny now. It seemed old—an ancient skeleton key, like in some story book.

She reached out and picked it up. It had an elaborate, curlicue bow, but no key ring or cord attached to it. The shaft had four cuts of different lengths and widths. She couldn’t imagine what kind of lock the key would open. Standing, she pulled a tissue from her purse and rubbed off some of the dirt. Ying felt a little dizzy. She took a breath and thought, stood too fast. It’s pretty. She wrapped it in the tissue and put it in her purse. Ying checked her watch and continued to her meeting. I’ll go to a locksmith after the meeting and ask what kind of key this is.

Ying was pleased as she left her client’s office. The contract was bigger than she expected. She grinned all the way out of the building. Take that, Clint Baker. I’m going to be the next partner. As she went along the sidewalk two mothers with strollers blocked her way. She stepped into the nearest doorway to let them pass. An old man in a Veteran’s ball cap rode by on a motorized chair. Ying glanced in the window of the shop. A display of keys, old ones, caught her eye. Her found key leapt to mind.

Opening the door, she went inside. Antiques, she realized. The store had classical music playing in the background. Everything was displayed elegantly, dusted and expensive looking.

At the counter an old woman sat, a gilt-edged book open on the counter in front of her. “May I help you?”

Her voice was firm, a surprise. Ying expected a weak, quavery voice. “Umm, yes.” She reached into her purse and pulled out the tissue. She placed it on the counter and unwrapped it. “I found this a little while ago. What can you tell me about it?”

The old woman put a ribbon in her page and closed the book. “I’m Eleanor. I own this shop.” She pulled a magnifying glass out from under the counter and examined the key. “Interesting. Where’d you find it?”

“Just up the block. I saw it glint.”

Eleanor descended from her stool like a queen from her throne and turned to the wall of research books behind her. She studied the spines then selected a book with a spine so old, faded and broken, Ying couldn’t read it.

Eleanor opened the book and turning the pages with care, stopped on a page near the middle. Even upside down, Ying could see that the illustration looked exactly like the key she’d found.

“Interesting.” Eleanor adjusted her glasses. Circles sat in such a thin gold frame it was nearly invisible. The frames were attached to black ribbon that went around her neck. “It’s been over a century since this key has been seen.”

“What do you think it goes to?”

“Originally, the study in a castle in France. A famous alchemist of the time owned the castle. At least that’s the rumor. The last report of it was from before World War I. A young Frenchman found it and apparently met with much success despite the war.”

Ying pushed down her impatience with such an unbelievable story. “Okay. Really?”

“I can see you don’t believe the story.”

“Well.” Ying shrugged. “I’m a practical person. I succeed because I work hard. There’s no magic.”

“The history of the key is quite clear.” Eleanor ran her finger down the page and turned it. “Every owner, that we know of, has had remarkable luck. Each owner said the key was responsible.”

A small snort escaped Ying. “I’m sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“Let me ask you a question,” Eleanor smiled. “Did you meet with some success this morning?”

Ying’s eyebrows rose. “I did. But I was prepared and I landed a new client.”

“Did it surpass your expectations?”

“The contract was bigger than I had anticipated.” Her eyes narrowed. “But I seriously don’t think it was because of a magic key.”

Eleanor shrugged. “Perhaps it was your hard work. Take the key. Keep it with you for a month then come back and tell me what you think.”

Ying eyed the key. “So, what? I rub it or something?”

“Is that what you did this morning?”

“I, uh, I just…” She remembered rubbing dirt from the key. “Yes. Yes I did.” She nodded to herself. “Can I wash it? It’s really dirty.”

“Try it.” Eleanor smiled again. “Thank you for stopping in. Do come back and tell me how it goes.”

“Ying re-wrapped the key in the tissue and put it back in her purse. This whole thing sounded crazy. “I, uh, I will.” On the way out the door she chastised herself. Why’d you promise to come back? I don’t have time for fairy-tales. Get back to the office and fill out the reports.

Thinking about her new client and the benefits the account would bring to her cheered her up. Her steps grew more definitive until her heels made a staccato beat on the sidewalk. No one or nothing is responsible for my success but me. Her chin rose. Poor Clint won’t know what hit him.

 

Thank You!

Part I: 989 Words

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Serial: Lost Rainbows Chapter 1 – Theft

e-book Cover, Lost Rainbows, J.A. Marlow

Cover for Lost Rainbows by J.A. Marlow

Chapter One – Theft  (Lost Rainbows – Serial)

By Connie Cockrell

Shamus O’Malley is on a quest to recover the Leprechaun Kingdom’s magic rainbows and gold before the rainbows are lost forever. To do so he must travel to the new world where he finds the evil wizard, David Bannon, intent on using the magic from the rainbows and the gold to conquer the Leprechaun Kingdom. He also finds an ally, Becca Bannon, the wizard’s niece. Can Becca and Shamus recover the rainbows and gold and defeat her wizard uncle?

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the series Lost Rainbows

Want to start this serial from the beginning? Click here for links to all available chapters.

Theft

It was a typical evening in the court of the Leprechaun King, Mac Shadenan. The throne room was full. Harpists, drummers, flautists and horn players were halfway down the left wall from the King. The center of the hall’s polished wood floor was filled with dancers. Shamus O’Malley was standing on the right side of the hall near the buffet table, a silver goblet of Irish Whisky in his hand.

Dressed in his court best, he tugged at the collar of his lemon-yellow shirt. Like most of the male leprechauns present, he had on his cherry-red wool weskit and frock coat with seven rows of seven buttons. It was annoying to button all forty-nine buttons but luck was luck. He didn’t want to push any away. His pantaloons and stockings were white and his brogans were black leather and as shiny as his polishing could make them.

He had his eye on Princess Lyeen. She was dancing in the middle of the floor with that half-wit Banar Donovan. Shamus sipped his drink. Banar, he snorted to himself. More like banal, and boring to boot. Lyeen wouldn’t be givin’ him a second look if it weren’t for the five rainbows with their pots of gold at the end that he owned. He put the goblet he was holding down on the table and began to edge his way into the dancers. As soon as the music for this dance stopped, he was going to ask the Princess to dance.

She was a vision. Like most leprechauns, a smattering of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose, accenting the creamy, smooth skin of her complexion. Merry blue eyes flashed with her laughter. Best of all though, to Shamus, was her hair. His own could be best described as orange. But hers, left unbound as was customary among unmarried maids, hung to her waist. The burnished gold highlights in her dark red hair set off the gold of the dainty, diamond-encrusted crown around her forehead that held her hair back from her face. She’d chosen to wear green today, setting her apart from the traditionalists in the court. When she’d come into the room earlier in the evening, she’d set their tongues wagging.

“She’s not wearing the traditional red!” one old biddy whispered loud enough for the people on the other side of the hall to hear.

Her neighbor nodded. “What are young people coming to?” she lamented. “Defiance, that’s what it is.”

That’s what Shamus loved about Lyeen. She had spirit and flair. Too bad her father didn’t consider Shamus’s worthy. True, he was tall for a leprechaun, four foot three inches, which worked in his favor. But there was only one rainbow among his whole, large family. The gold was spread thin. Despite that, he was determined to get the Princess’s attention, gold or no gold.

He had nearly reached her when the guardsmen at the door to the throne room called out, “Courier for the King, the great Mac Shadenan! Make way for the Courier!”

The dancers split apart, moving to each side of the hall. He was separated from the Princess as she moved to the other side. Reluctantly he backed up to make way. The courier, dressed in woodland colors to better blend into the environment, entered the hall and staggered across the floor to the king. Dirty and road weary, the man looked as if he had been through every bramble in the kingdom.

Twenty feet from the throne, the courier dropped to his knees in exhaustion. King Mac Shadenan leaned forward on the carved, backless wooden seat. The red pillows could barely be seen under the red wool cloak the king wore, with a gold harp pin holding it together at his shoulder. His advisors, two on each side of the throne, whispered to each other.

“What say you, courier?” the King asked.

“My Lord,” the man gasped. “The rainbows are gone!”

While one of the advisors hurried to the courier’s side with a goblet of wine to help revive him, the court burst into loud cries and lamentations. Shamus noticed that Banar grew quite pale. Princess Lyeen, though, he saw with a great deal of admiration, straightened her spine and, head held high, strode to the front of the room to stand beside her father’s chair.

There was so much confusion and consternation, the King signaled the guard near him to pound on the floor with the butt of his spear. He stood up.

“What is this caterwauling? You all sound worse than the animals in the humans’ zoo at feeding time.” King Shadenan glared at the people in the hall. The horror of being compared to those poor creatures confined in unnatural habitats stunned them. They shut up.

He stepped off of the throne’s platform and pulled the courier to his feet. “Come, man.” He clapped the courier on the shoulder. “You’ve had a bit of wine to refresh yourself. Tell us your news.”

The courier nodded. “I’m Draum, son of Fitz.”

The courtiers nodded. Fitz was a high-ranking member of the court. Draum was in service to the King, as every courtier’s able-bodied sons were at one time or another. Shamus had been a courier himself upon his eighteenth birthday for twenty years. That had been a long time ago.

“Sire, the treasury was robbed. All of the guards are dead. I don’t know how I escaped the explosion but something large and ferocious chased me nearly all the way here.” He looked down at his appearance. “My apologies, Sire, for appearing before you in such a state.”

The King clapped him on the shoulder. “No need to apologize, young Draum.” He motioned for one of the guards standing near the throne to come to him. “Take Draun to the baths. Get him food and drink and fresh clothing. We’ll talk to him again in two hours.”

The guard led Draum away through a side-door of the hall near the throne. The courtiers refilled the hall and whispered to each other. Shamus began edging his way to the front of the room. The Advisors had surrounded the King. As he neared he could hear a furious discussion going on between them.

“Sire,” the eldest Advisor said, “we need to send guards to assess the damage.”

“Yes,” said the youngest. “How do we know if Draum is telling the truth?”

“Majesty, we should send someone to bring back the rainbows.”

The King stood still in the rain of comments and suggestions, nodding at each person as they spoke. Shamus moved up to stand directly behind the King. When the suggestions died down, the Advisors waited for the King to speak.

“We will send an investigator,” the King announced. “Someone from our court, someone trustworthy.”

They all nodded.

“But who?” the eldest Advisor asked. “Perhaps the savage beast that chased Draum is still lurking about.”

“I’ll go,” Shamus piped up.

The entire group turned to stare. Shamus began to blush under the inspection.

The King nodded. “It’s dangerous, you know. The beast may still be outside the sidhe.” Their villages, the sidhe, pronounced shee, were hidden by magic. The leprechauns had long separated themselves from the world of men. King Mac Shadenan ruled all the sidhe of the leprechaun kingdom, scattered far and wide across the men’s countries of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The leprechauns kept track of the world of men but since the loss of their gods, the Tuatha De Danann many centuries ago, they had no choice but to hide. It was safer to stay in their hidden kingdom, and they flourished in their own way.

Shamus breathed a sigh of relief. As a courier, he’d always gotten along with King Mac. “I understand, Sire. But the kingdom’s treasury has been stolen. If we wait too long, all evidence of the dastard will be gone and the trail cold. I’ll leave immediately. The sooner I go, the sooner the rainbows may be recovered.”

Lyeen had joined the circle of Advisors. She smiled at Shamus and he nearly missed the King’s words.

“Good idea, Shamus. You will be my representative in this. Leave at once. Draw whatever you need from the armory.”

Shamus bowed. “Thank you, Sire. I’ll depart as soon as I can.”

He turned and hustled down the middle of the court, the courtiers parting in front of him. The murmurs began as soon as he passed.

~~~~~

Lost Rainbows

To be continued…

Come back for more! Look for the next exciting installment each Wednesday.

 

You can read more of this story serially on this website for free or you can buy it and read it now at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

See more at: www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts

Thank you for reading. You can support the story by commenting or leaving a review. Buy my other books for more reading pleasure. If you’ve enjoyed this chapter, please spread the word, tell a friend or share the link to the story by using the share buttons to your right. The author is part of the Forward Motion Flash Fiction Friday Challenge and the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.

© 2015 Connie Cockrell

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