Thursday, 31 March 2016

Friday Knights - Mordred - a good knight or a villainous traitor?

The traitor who brought down the greatest Kingdom and the greatest King of all times.

Okay, so most of us have heard of Mordred. He did, along with Lancelot, play a pinnacle part in the fall of Arthur at the Battle of Camlann.

Mordred was the son of Morgause - Arthur's sister -  but there is debate as to who his father was. Some say his father was Morgauses' husband, King Lot of Orkney, which would make Gawain his brother. While others say he was Arthur's illegitimate son, begot with his sister. Poor kid, no wonder he was so messed up

Alexander Vlahos - played Mordred in Merlin

But what else do we know of him?

Firstly, Mordred is mentioned really early on in the tales of Arthur and his knights.

"Gueith Camlann in qua Arthur et Medraut corruerunt."

   ("The strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell.")

This was what was written in Annales Cambriae for the year 537.

The Annales Camriae was written between the years 960 - 970. Although they cannot be counted as a primary source, they do however draw on older stories - probably verbal - of the telling of this great battle. If you have not already noticed, the quote above says nothing about Arthur fighting Mordred at Camlann. It states that both men fell (died) at Camlann - has Mordred therefore been wronged in the later telling of the tale? 

So let's assume that Mordred was a knight, who fought bravely by Arthur's side and died next to him in battle. This begs the question..who is responsible for turning Mordred into a villain?

Come on, can't you guess??!!

Yes, that's right. Geoffrey of Monmouth strikes again.

It is Monmouth who suggests that it was Mordred, who was left in charge of Camelot while Arthur crossed the channel to rage war on Emperor Lucius of Rome. It is Monmouth who states that Mordred saw this as an opportunity to take Arthur's throne. It is Monmouth who states that Mordred not only took the kingdom, but also forced Guinevere to marry him. It is Monmouth who states that Mordred and Arthur met at Camlann. 

And we believed him.

 Sir Mordred  H.R Ford (1902)

In the ancient Welsh texts Mordred is associated with Camlann. The two seem to go hand in hand. But Monmouth's casting of Mordred as the villain was soon accepted as the truth and others  expanded upon this story making Mordred something of an Anti-Christ - or an Anti-Arthur. 

Time passes and the story changes. Lancelot enters the tale and some of Mordred's villainous activities are passed on to Lancelot - such as the affair with Guinevere. Malory goes as far as saying that Guinevere fled from Mordred's disgusting proposal and hid in the Tower of London, which I always found considerably clever of her, considering the Tower was not built until after the Norman invasion! But hey, anything is possible in Arthur's Britain.

In the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Mordred was succeeded by his sons. The sons, like their father, have treachery running through their veins. In older text it is Constantine who tracks the brothers down and kills them. In later versions it is Lancelot and Bors.

But the extent of Mordred's treachery does not end there.

"...him who, at one blow, had chest and shadow / shattered by Arthur's hand..."
                                 (Canto XXXII)
This quote is from Dante's Inferno. If you seek Mordred you would find him in the lowest circle of Hell - a place set aside for traitors.

Mordred is cast as a magically Druid boy in the BBC show Merlin (2008 - 2012). He becomes a Knight of Camelot and has no notion of treachery until his beloved is sentenced to death. Ironically, if Merlin had accepted Mordred as a source of good, then Arthur would never have died - but hey, what kind of story would that have made?

Merlin 5x02 "Arthur's Bane Part 2" Mordred is knighted

 So there we have it. Of all the knights, I think Mordred is probably the least understood and the most wronged. Monmouth needed a villain and Mordred was it. I like to think that Mordred did not turn against Arthur, but fought by his side at Camlann - sacrificing his life, for his King. What do you think? Be sure to leave a comment below.

Nicholas Paschall, talks of the mythological creatures, more commonly known as Vampires! @Nelfeshne

I would like to welcome fellow author, Nicholas Paschall, on to the blog today. Nicholas is going to take us on a journey and explore the history of the Vampire through popular fiction.
  Vampires. The very word conjures up images of red-eyed, pale skinned angelic figures that feast on human blood, strangely erotic yet mind-numbingly dangerous at the same time. From the innocent looking child vampire to the androgynous ancient, they range in all shapes, colors and sizes. In books and cinema, we have three categories of vampires we can look at and analyze: the beautiful, the hideous, and the weird.

The beautiful can be seen in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Both highlight vampires as both dangerous and attractive creatures, with pale skin and taut muscles that provide preternatural strength. This is a step away from the original vampire story by Bram Stoker but it is a creative move. Meyer’s vampire’s aren’t even harmed by sunlight, though they do adopt a hostile stance against werewolves as it seems to be a classic route when the two inhuman species meet. Other instance of beautiful vampires with werewolf aggression are seen in the box office thriller Underworld series, and to a lesser extent Van Helsing and the dry comedy Dark Shadows, which was based off of a television soap opera of a supernatural family not unlike the Munster’s, though far more dangerous.

Twilight (5/11) Movie CLIP - I Know What You Are (2008) HD

The second category is the hideous vampires, vampires that shed their mortal skin to take on their true appearance, that of a monster. These vampires represent a more defined fear of the unknown that humans face every day. Unlike a shuffling zombie or a serial killer, the hideous vampire is almost unkillable. You’ve seen them in film: in Underworld: Evolution you have one of the ancient vampires infused with werewolf blood, creating a monster that is nigh indestructible. Bullets, silver swords, and holy relics do little to this creature. They finally manage to slay it through a combination of luck and skill from a vampire/werewolf hybrid. In Nosferatu they went to great lengths to pull the vampire’s appearance away from that of a human, making the monster possess spindly fingers ending in wicked hooks, bulging eyes with a misshapen bald head and elongated ears. He crept silently around his lair and your home, and killed those he drank from. The difference between the beautiful and the hideous is that the beautiful doesn’t necessarily kill the person they feed upon. The hideous always kills their victim, making them more monstrous than ever as they take life away from the natural to fuel the unnatural.

Now the weird is a category that only applies to vampires that straddle the line between the first two categories. In Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire book series, we have a community of vampires living openly with the town residents while hiding from college students who attend the local university. They have blood vans that come by and take blood “donations” from residents to feed the vampires, while some vampires prefer to hunt their prey. Some have gone mad over their centuries of life while others have grown detached from their human side. The older they get the more radical they shift in an emotional direction. The father of the vampires, Bishop, comes to town and tries to usurp control from his daughter Amelia while using the humans of town as bait. He wants a book that details how to create a new vampire, as it is a lost art and their numbers are dwindling due to a rare disease that slowly drives them into an animal-like state, more beast than anything else that seeks warm blood.

In this series we have vampires like Myrnin who is a mad alchemist, among other things. He synthesizes drugs to stave off the madness in the vampires and often comes close to killing his semi-willing apprentice Claire Danvers. Myrnin is erratic and strange, with humor that none get unless you are amused by mad antics of something that could easily snap you in half. He dresses as a Pierrot for a Halloween ball while forcing Claire to dress as the Harlequin, because he believes the sad clown Pierrot is actually the funny and dangerous one. This amuses Bishop, who is instantly reminded why he doesn’t like Myrnin who insults him, then attacks him with a dagger while cackling madly, proving he is just as strong as the elder vampire before fleeing. Then you have vampires that have detached from humanity entirely, like Mr. Pennywell. Described as an “androgynous dummy”. Mr. Pennywell is an amoral vampire that will follow the laws of the town so long as they please him. He corners people and often attempts to kill them, as he remembers the days where vampires lurked in the dark and fed well.

Then we have Amelia, the governess if the town. She offers protection to the humans with magical homes to prevent vampire intrusion, holds up laws and keeps the vampire population in check. She’s a preternatural beauty that is weak from the sands of time wearing her down. She creates the first new vampire in decades as she gets a hold of the book, creating controversy amidst the community.

Then you have movies where the weird vampires come out to play. In foreign films you have Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, a horror/comedy where a vampire tricks a boy into eating her blood, making him into a vampire. The girl that likes him dies through a tragic accident, but her mad scientist father reassembles her with the parts from various club members, making her a bizarre construct of considerable might. The reason this falls into weird is some of her powers lie in her cloak, which allow her flight, as well as her ability to walk about in daylight. She breaks norms and converts new vampires through unique methods. In the end she triumphs using swords made of blood, and fights a trio of monster school girls by pulling their skulls from their heads and throwing them in a pile.

The weird vampire is perhaps the most human of us all, as they have human emptions (sometimes to a dangerous extent) and a conscience that makes them ponder their actions. Some are good, some are bad; they’re humans with special powers. Judging them is a case by case basis, unlike the beautiful or hideous, who are much more one-dimensional than the weird.
Now if you think that my evaluation of vampires isn’t encompassing enough, that’s fine. There has almost been a century of vampire lore that has been created thanks to Bram Stoker and Nosferatu, so I’ve no doubt missed something. But think on the subjects next time you see a vampire movie or read a novel.  

Nicholas Paschall  is a horror fiction writer. Let's take a look at his latest book.
 David is in college and just keeps screwing up. After his latest mistake of throwing a huge party while his parents were out of town, his mother decides to leave him stranded at his Grandmother's house in Alice Grove. What starts out as a horrible idea blossoms into a nightmare as ghosts, Witches, and curses come alive in the sleepy town. How will David handle it all?
 Where can I purchase this fabulous book? 
About the author.
I'm just a humble ghost in the machine, a lurking specter in the darker reaches of the internet. I publish the dreams best left unsaid because I believe they should be heard. I graduated from the Univerity of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in History, which basically means I'm a researcher. My desktop is littered with projects that I hop to and fro like a mad cricket, working here and tinkering there. I have a website that I update five times a week at minimum. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Only 0.99 on Kindle - Limited time only - The Du Lac Chronicles

"...the intimacy in their relationship is tender, vulnerable and real, one of the best romantic relationships I've read..I loved, loved, loved this book and can't wait to read the next in the series..."
                                                                                                    M.M. Carter, Amazon Reviewer 

* Only 0.99 on Kindle - Limited time only *

A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms and principalities.

“It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.” 

 So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone’s words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.

Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon whore with her claws in a broken, wounded king.

Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary—but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain.

Book Extract. 

"...I hear you surrendered,” he said, a faint hint of glee in his eyes.

Alden, who was still contemplating what Oeric had told him about his brother, looked up. “Good news travels fast.”

“As does bad.”

“It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I had no choice.”

“That is what they all say, isn’t it?” Oeric laughed. “And who is this fine-looking woman by your side?” Oeric turned his attention to Annis.

Annis raised her head reluctantly. She had never met King Oeric, although she had heard a lot about him, mainly about his skill as a warrior from her brother, who liked to talk about worthy opponents to anyone who cared to listen. His appearance surprised her. Oeric was an old man, older than her father was. His hair was a soft white, his face wrinkled. His eyes were watery and the colour of a foggy blue sky. His clothes were lavish and skilfully embroidered. He smiled a welcome, showing gaps in his mouth where his teeth had been knocked out. Alden was right; she could see he was mentally undressing her with his eyes. He made her feel sick.

“What is your name, my dear?” Even the way he spoke to her was lewd.


“Annis?” Oeric raised his bushy white eyebrows. “A pretty name for a pretty girl.” He licked his lips. “And what are you doing in the company of Lord du Lac?”

Alden had to stop himself from saying king. The slight on Oeric’s part hit its mark well.

Annis nervously glanced at Alden. “I am his wife,” she whispered, fearing the lie.

“His wife?” he whispered back and then he laughed, turning his attention away from her and back to Alden.

“You lose a kingdom, but have the time to find a wife. Where did you pick her up? The dungeons?” Those gathered in the hall laughed at their king’s jest. “What did you do, my dear? Was it something horrid?” he asked Annis, stepping closer to her.

Alden’s arm shot out and pulled her closer to him. “The where and why has nothing to do with you.” There was a warning in his tone that he meant for Oeric to hear.

“You speak to me like a King. You forget yourself,” Oeric said, his eyes blazing with anger. “You cannot speak to me as an equal anymore. Annis, Annis.” He rolled her name over his tongue. “Of Wessex?” he stated, his eyes widening. “You married his daughter?”

 * Only 0.99 on Kindle - Limited time only *
Where can I get my hands on a copy of this book?

  About the author
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.

Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking—so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!

Useful Links. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Guest Post - "Author's Inspirations." James Collins @JamesDomCollins

It is my pleasure to welcome Historical Fiction author, James Collins, on to the blog today to talk about the inspirations behind his latest novel...
 Sol Limitis - Book One Of The Frontier Trilogy.

367 AD 

A battle-hardened soldier is sent to the frozen north of Britannia on a personal mission from the Emperor. Conducting a desperate investigation from a hostile garrison on the crumbling frontier of Hadrian’s Wall, Atellus must struggle to survive in a wild and lawless land torn apart by the death throes of an over-stretched empire.

Where did the inspiration behind your book come from?

One of my favourite books is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. A searing and brutal novel of America’s violent frontier, Blood Meridian follows the infamous Glanton Gang, a group of mercenary scalp-hunters working the US/Mexico border in the mid-C19th. It was this concept of the anti-Western which first piqued my curiosity and instigated a lengthy period of thought and research which culminated in my novel, Sol Limitis.

The key concept behind Sol Limitis was to re-create this type of revisionist Western in the frozen North of Britain; a novel which captured the extremes and brutalities of the period in a daunting and visceral manner, and which explored this notion of liminal space, investigated the concept of the Frontier and everything it entailed.

History is ripe with options for a setting for this sort of novel, but I chose a period I was already familiar with from my studies and work as an archaeologist: late Roman Britain. Even a small amount of research attested to lengthy periods of intrigue and action, hardship and depredations. The keystone notion of the Frontier was well-served by that most famous icon of the limit of romanitas: Hadrian’s Wall.

The concept of liminality, and its various permutations, drove the novel from then on: a physical front-line separating two ostensibly discrete and mutually hostile tribes (‘Romans’ and ‘Barbarians’); a cultural boundary distinguishing between two peoples; a temporal watershed marking the decline of Roman Britain and the rise of Tribal Britain; and an ethereal frontier separating Christianity from paganism. But perhaps the crux of this liminality resides in the blurring of all these boundaries: because of the physical, temporal and ideological location on the cusp of two extremes, the frontier exists as a place utterly distinct from either camp, drawing energy from both sides and maintaining its own distinct identity.

It was the concept of this lawless, broken hinterland that inspired me as the perfect setting for my novel.

The physical frontier in Sol Limitis is represented by Hadrian’s Wall, the huge stone and timber-built fortification which delineated the limit of Roman control. It existed as a rough militarised zone fortified by garrison towns and forts. The geographical area was defined by military authority, frequent violent clashes with hostile tribes, and its separation from more ‘civilised’ bastions of romanitas such as the larger towns further south.

There was eventual fall-out from this physical and ideological separation between the Wall and the seat of the Western Roman Empire (which at the time had moved from Rome to Treves, modern-day Trier): notably widespread poverty and corruption. The travails of the local populace – military and civilian – were likely to have been incessant, and the Wall itself served as a physical reminder of this hard life: a bastion of security and, concomitantly, danger, a constant brooding character sulking in the background.

The northern frontier of Roman Britain separated the two distinct factions of Rome and the ‘Barbarians’ beyond. Although there were multiple discrete tribes beyond the Wall, the period in which Sol Limitis is set is the prelude to the Great Conspiracy whereby the disparate tribes united to attack their common enemy: the Romano-British.

Despite this, it is likely that the liminal zone of the frontier was home to a confused assemblage of peoples on both sides of the Wall. Most of the limatanei (the Romano-British frontier soldiers) would have shared kinship and sensitivities with the northern tribes, and once the pay, food and support of the Roman infrastructure increasingly dried up as the C4th wore on, many must have queried where their true loyalties lay. Certainly we know that the areani (roving spies working for Rome beyond the frontier) betrayed their paymasters and aided the assault against the Romano-British, and it is likely that at least some forts along the Wall openly deserted their posts and allowed the tribes to pass through to lay waste to the Roman-held land beyond.

The temporal aspect of the frontier is represented by the blending of Roman Britain and Tribal Britain. In the mid to late C4th, Roman Britain was rapidly sliding beyond the reach of the empire. Depleted of military, wealth and resources, Britain was subject to increasingly dire circumstances whether from political and religious purges, escalating tribal insurrections or disease and poverty. Hindsight tells us that Rome finally abandoned Britain in AD410, marking the start of the so-called ‘Dark Ages’, a migration period whereby Britain, lacking focused unified resistance, succumbed to the pressure from invading tribes: Picts, Attacots and Scots from the north and Saxons, Jutes and Angles from the East. We see this liminal period of history as a time when the sol limitis (Sun of the Frontier) of Rome is waning and the stars of the great tribal leaders (precursors to the likes of Alaric and Vortigern) are in ascendance.

Celtic Christian culture has the concept of thin places, those liminal areas that straddle the border between the physical and the ethereal, linking earth and heaven, men and gods. The C4th northern frontier was at this point (since Constantius’s conversion earlier that century) attempting to be the border between Christianity and paganism. Although Christianity became embraced by increasingly hard-line emperors, these were often interspersed with rulers favourable of pagans, which led to a confused and troublesome mix. Roman culture had always been welcoming of new local religions and syncretism was its main tactic for centuries, as different religions were blended together and worshipped anew. 

Despite the best efforts of the Christian emperors, Britain still remained heavily pagan, and the closer to the northern frontier, the less hold Christianity had upon the common folk. Religion was important to soldiers, and the hard-pressed limitanei of Hadrian’s Wall had little else for comfort. As such it was a key area for ongoing pagan practices to Celtic gods such as Cernunnos and Belatu-Cadros, horned gods of the land: food, fertility, the elements, war and death. This period of history was ripe for such beliefs, and arguably the Romans did not share the same concept of reality as do we in the industrialised West: for them the gods may have been as real and tangible – and occasionally as hostile - as the enemies brandishing swords beyond the Wall. The boundary between reality and mythology would not have existed for them as it does for us, and this location so far from the larger towns and settlements of Britain would have only propagated the ubiquity of the localised gods and the rituals of the soldiers’ ancestors; practices no doubt shared by the tribes beyond the Wall who were not subject to the diktats of an incumbent emperor.

In summation, the prime inspiration for my novel Sol Limitis was the concept of the Frontier – in fact the book is the first part of a proposed body of work entitled The Frontier Trilogy. The spark was ignited by a fictional portrayal of the savagery and nihilism of the historical US borderlands, and the flames spread into a tale of a broken Rome in the frozen North. Although the themes covered are weighty (the oppressive weather, the violence, the poverty) they are all united by their liminal setting in a place teetering on the edge of a cultural precipice. 

The Frontier is extreme, it is an abutment against the hostile and unfamiliar, an impartial antagonist which will always, eventually, win; it is a man-made creation, a demarcation of the mind and a realisation of the self-imposed limits and predilections of a species which will always create conflict and division wherever it goes. The story of a frontier is the story of humanity in microcosm.
And for that reason, the concept of the frontier in fiction is a flame that will always be happily fanned.

 Where can I buy this fabulous book?

About the author.

James Collins is an author, editor, freelance journalist and recovering archaeologist. Born in Stoke on Trent in 1979, he studied archaeology at the University of Nottingham and went on to work as an archaeologist in the UK and abroad. Tired of wallowing in muddy holes for a living, he survived various unsavoury menial jobs before catching his breath in the construction and renewables industries for more years than was healthy. He is currently working towards being self-employed and to be able to get paid for doing what he loves: writing. James also plays and teaches classical guitar and spends most of his spare time studying the Daoist arts.

Useful Links.

Twitter: @JamesDomCollins

Book Spotlight - Princess Adele's Dragon by Shirley McLain @ShirleyMcLain93

Today's featured book is Princess Adele's Dragon by Young Adult fantasy author, Shirley McLain.

Princess Adele lives with her brother, Robert, the King of Valdoria in the castle. There has been a monster terrorizing the Kingdom for months. The King has finally come to a decision on how to deal with the monster but the Princess can't agree with him. For the sake of the Kingdom Princess Adele decides she must be the one to kill the dragon. She couldn't live with herself if her brother went ahead with his plans. 

What Adele found on her quest changed her life and the lives of those around her. She was a strong young woman who knew what she wanted and would do whatever it took to get it.  Follow Princess Adele as she battles to save her home and her life.

 Let's delve closer into the book and look at an excerpt!

Princess Adele's face paled when she heard the words of her brother. Her large green eyes stared at his face as she spoke. "Robert, it's inhuman. You can't do that. If the child were yours, what would you be thinking?"
"Look, Adele, I didn't come to this decision without doing a lot of soul-searching. Do you not think I haven't run this through my mind a million times? I don't know any other way to keep our kingdom safe from that monster. The counselor told me it's worked in the past."
"I don't care what your mighty counselor said. You can't do this. There must be another way." Princess Adele turned from her brother, the King, leaving him standing in the room alone. Her plan must be executed before the full moon.
How such a monster threatens her beautiful home is almost too much to comprehend. If only Anthony was here. He'd know what would be needed to stop this unthinkable act. Tears rolled down Adele's cheeks as she thought of her beloved Anthony. She enjoyed the world one day, deep in despair the next. What happened? Why did he leave?
The Princess recovered her emotions and resolved to come up with another plan besides sacrificing a beautiful child to the creature. There ought to be another way. Arriving at her bedchamber, her lady’s maid waited for her.
As Adele entered her room, Miranda bowed "Your Highness", she said.
"How many times do I need to tell you, Miranda, you do not bow to me and call me "Your Highness" every time I enter the room when we're alone. We've been like sisters since the age of four."
"I know, Adele, but if I don't do it all the time, I may forget. If I call you, Adele in public His Majesty's ogre of a counselor will behead me or something worse."
"What's worse than having your head chopped off?" Adele asked.
"Made to marry a man I do not love." Miranda helped the Princess change into her sleeping gown to make her ready for bed.
"Robert has tried to marry me off too many times to count. Six years ago, before we married, Anthony ran away for some reason. "
"You don't believe that any more than I do, Adele," With a soft voice Miranda said, he loved you more than life, and it showed in everything word and action he made. Changing the subject, what did the King say?"
"He plans to go through with the sacrifice on the night of the full moon, which is in two weeks." Princess Adele's covered her face with her hands as tears began to flow. Her voice trembled as she spoke. "I can't sit here and do nothing. A child sacrifice is unconscionable to me."
"What can a girl of your small stature do against a dragon? Many Knights died fighting that dragon. I can see you dead before you even get to the lair."
Princess Adele climbed into bed. "You know I can do anything a man can. She stifled a yawn then said "Goodnight, my dear friend. I hope you sleep well,"
Miranda blew out the wick of the oil lamp and said, "Goodnight, Adele." She turned with a big smile on her face and walked to the door to her room. I know what she's going to do, and as soon as her death is confirmed, I'll console the King. I'm in a fantastic position now to put our plan into action. I will be Queen of Valdoria! She smiled as she blew out the light and settled into her bed.
The door to Miranda's room opened and closed without making a sound. She heard footsteps padding across the room. "Hello, my love," Miranda whispered as she joyfully fell into a pair of strong arms.
She walked down the aisle to her beloved, Anthony. When she got close enough to take his hand, she slid backward, having to begin the journey down the aisle all over again. Adele experienced the same nightmare about her Anthony when she fell into a deep sleep. Tossing and turning, Princess Adele unable to sleep any longer, sat up in the bed. In the blackness of her room, she reached a decision. I know what I must do.
Without stars, the night sky displayed no brightness, only blackness as pitch. Adele hurried as she dressed in the boy’s clothes hidden in the straw of her mattress. Her secrets remained her own. Her adventures out of the castle before the sun came up, on many occasions, was known only to her. This adventure would be no different.
Her father made sure both of his children received the same education which she gave thanks for many times. She could fight with a sword and ride a horse as well as her brother. She bested her brother in their formal schooling. He wanted to play instead of educating himself. Robert began to apply himself to his education not long before their parent’s death. Adele's impressive capabilities were known only to Robert. Her father wanted her skills kept a secret for the purpose of a surprise if she needed it. If something happened to her brother, Adele could run the kingdom.
If her quest failed, she would no longer be alive, and her brother would be alone. He would be the only one of the family left. Her parents, the King, and Queen died the previous year from the plague. She and her brother left the area until the crisis passed.
They returned home having no parents and the country, no King and Queen. Her nineteen-year-old brother became King and Lord Ashmore guided the new King in all decisions. They relied on Lord Ashmore as their father did, over the years.
In an inconspicuous manner, Adele walked down the long castle hallway to the secret exit that took her underground, straightway to the stables. She thought once again of her father and how he made sure she knew the secret entrance location. He told her no one knew about it except her, but if the need arose she could share it with her brother. So far, it remained her secret way out of the castle.
She lit a torch before entering the tunnel. She didn't like the darkness of the tunnel. The dampness didn't bother her at all, and it felt refreshing when the outside temperature got high.
The trap door opening in the stable storage room remained well hidden. She checked it every evening, so it remained unobstructed. At the bottom of the ladder, she pulled her sword from its storage area. She carried it as she climbed the ladder to the storage room.
After covering the floor with the rug to hide the entry, she made her way to Champion's stall. "Hello, my darling. Are you ready for a ride?" The stable hand saddled the horse. She put the mufflers on Champion's hooves so he wouldn't make any noise walking across the stones. Adele waited for the guards to walk to the other side of the parapet so she could escape the castle grounds unseen. She didn't wait long. When she felt it safe, she carefully walked Champion out the gate to the open field. Once on his back, she gave the horse his head and let him run across the field to the timber edge.

Where can I buy this fabulous book?

About the author
Shirley McLain makes her home in Sapulpa Oklahoma with her husband and their fur family of four dogs and three cats. She also has two grown children, six grandchildren and twin great-grand sons.  She has/is living a very full life.  She retired after working thirty-two years as a RN and then began a full time writing carrier. She and her husband enjoy their five-acre country home.  It is a perfect setting to let Shirley’s Muse work it’s magic. Shirley is an eclectic writer and has always enjoyed the writing process. Shortly after her retirement she woke up one morning with the thought that she was going to write a book. She didn’t stop writing until she’d finished her first book.  So far she has published four books which are now on Amazon.  Her goal is to bring as much enjoyment to her readers as deserve and want.
Useful links