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Can Meek Heroes Thwart Unstoppable Villains?

For the Christmas newsletter, I started a story; one that would give a little Christmas gift not only to my readers, but to some of my characters as well. Let’s face it, I’ve put Einar, the Circle, and their families through an awful lot since the start of my series. But let it not be said that I am a heartless writer. I challenge my characters, and test them, even refine them through hardships, just as all of us are challenged, tested, and refined by real life. But I also allow them to feel joy, love, and yes, even moments of great triumph. The villains don’t always win, and great wrongs can be righted in surprising ways. Sometimes the most powerful, seemingly unstoppable villains, are thwarted not by the strongest and most powerful of heroes, but by the meek, who glide past unnoticed because they aren’t considered important enough to watch. That’s real life, too.

I thought I could finish this fun story in two parts, but it has gained some momentum in the writing process and will take more than that. Who knows, I might even expand it in the future, filling in more detail, and adding more twists to the plot. That’s part of the fun of writing, at least for me. There are always deeper furrows to plow, and from the seeds planted within them, amazing things grow. They just need the genuine warmth of heart, and a fertile imagination, watered with an unquenchable desire to keep creating, day after day, season upon season.

Hope you enjoy “Letters for the Circle,” Part 2. If you missed Part 1, no worries. You can still read from the beginning by following either link.

Keran tucked his head down deep inside his hood and tried to keep his mare walking at a leisurely pace. His heart thumped so loudly he was certain everyone he passed could hear it, including the Port’s Keep night watch. With the Winter Festival just beginning, they were more attentive than usual to the comings and goings of those out after nightfall.

Keran’s mare sensed his anxiety and kept trying to rush forward to outrun it. It took all his strength to keep her reined in. “You’re going to get us noticed,” he hissed, irritated more by his immediate risk than by her behavior. He knew she was only responding to his mood; if he could calm himself, she would settle. Keran took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on nothing but the road directly in front of him. The city gate loomed just ahead—if he was going to get caught, it would be there, by an overly inquisitive guard wondering why a boy would be leaving the protection of the city alone in the dark of night. He sat up straight in the saddle, trying to make the most of his height. He had grown rather tall in the past year. Perhaps they would think he was older, if he kept his head covered and face hidden. It was the only hope he had. (Click to continue…)

 


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I still want to know…

…what you think I should keep, or change, in my editions of the newsletter for the new year. My goal is to include content that is interesting and useful to you, my loyal readers! Thanks to those who have already answered the short poll–if you haven’t, it isn’t too late. I still want to hear from you. There are only 4 questions, so it won’t take long, I promise!

Did you miss the special Christmas newsletter?

With the holidays, I know many of us were incredibly busy with family, and spent long stretches of time “unplugged.” Christmas is over, but you can still enjoy Saturday’s edition. In it I released part one of a brand new short story related to my series. I’ll be releasing part 2 in an upcoming newsletter. Hope you enjoy it!

 


 

“Letters for the Circle”
by Allison D. Reid

“Get up, now!” Keran woke to find Torren from Tyroc’s castle guard standing over him. A dim glow of flickering torch light spilled in from the open door of his chamber. Despite the fact that Torren’s thick, curly beard masked much of his face, it couldn’t hide the intensity behind his eyes. Something was horribly wrong. His voice carried an urgency that dared not be disobeyed.

“What is going on?” Keran’s voice still croaked with sleep. Surely it was still the middle of the night.

“Treachery,” Torren responded gruffly as though there was nothing more to be said.

“Where are Mother and Father?”

“Just move, and quickly, if you value your life. I told your father I would get you away from here.” He stopped for a moment and took Keran by the shoulders. “I may have to threaten you with my blade if we’re caught, boy. Show your fear on the outside, but know that I would never really hurt you. Do you understand?” Keran nodded with confused alarm. There was nothing about this that he understood.

Torren drug him out of the room and down the corridor at a near run. It echoed with the barks of orders being given, angry shouts, and the clash of steel against steel. They were soon joined by other men being marched forward; some peacefully, others at sword or spear point. Torren gripped Keran roughly by the back of the neck and held his blade at the ready, as though he expected Keran to fight him. And now Keran was beginning to grasp what was happening. But it couldn’t be true—how could it be true? The men of the Circle were being rounded up like prisoners; dragged from their beds, their stations, separated from their families and forced out into the night—to where, and to what end?

Click to read the entire story…


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Merry Christmas!

Welcome to this special holiday edition of the Fantasy Fix Newsletter!

Last week I promised you a rare treat that you wouldn’t want to miss. Renee and I have both written something special just for you, our loyal readers. While you’re spending time relaxing with family and friends this weekend, we hope you’ll be able to take a few minutes to enjoy this bit of fantasy fun.

 


“The Deadline Before Christmas”
By Renee Scattergood

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when on my laptop
Was an unfinished story, no better than slop;

I let out a groan, threw my hands in the air,
Then stood, and I muttered as I paced ‘round my chair;

The deadline was looming, oh that I did dread,
But worse, was the fact that I had been misled;

A call interrupted, I was needed asap;
I went only to find that it had been a trap;

My friends said, “It’s Christmas, so come celebrate;”
Didn’t they see I was already late?

I tried to escape, but was met with backlash,
So, I finally gave in, and I joined in the bash.

Next thing I knew, the bell had chimed midnight;
I had less than eight hours to sit down and write;

Click to Continue…


“Letters for the Circle”
by Allison D. Reid

“Get up, now!” Keran woke to find Torren from Tyroc’s castle guard standing over him. A dim glow of flickering torch light spilled in from the open door of his chamber. Despite the fact that Torren’s thick, curly beard masked much of his face, it couldn’t hide the intensity behind his eyes. Something was horribly wrong. His voice carried an urgency that dared not be disobeyed.

“What is going on?” Keran’s voice still croaked with sleep. Surely it was still the middle of the night.

“Treachery,” Torren responded gruffly as though there was nothing more to be said.

“Where are Mother and Father?”

“Just move, and quickly, if you value your life. I told your father I would get you away from here.” He stopped for a moment and took Keran by the shoulders. “I may have to threaten you with my blade if we’re caught, boy. Show your fear on the outside, but know that I would never really hurt you. Do you understand?” Keran nodded with confused alarm. There was nothing about this that he understood.

Torren drug him out of the room and down the corridor at a near run. It echoed with the barks of orders being given, angry shouts, and the clash of steel against steel. They were soon joined by other men being marched forward; some peacefully, others at sword or spear point. Torren gripped Keran roughly by the back of the neck and held his blade at the ready, as though he expected Keran to fight him. And now Keran was beginning to grasp what was happening. But it couldn’t be true—how could it be true? The men of the Circle were being rounded up like prisoners; dragged from their beds, their stations, separated from their families and forced out into the night—to where, and to what end?

Click to Continue


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A Bard’s Tale

This week, instead of an excerpt, I’m sharing my short story, “A Bard’s Tale,” from the Dragon Tempest anthology.

This short story connects to my Wind Rider Chronicles series, following one of the adventures of Broguean the Bard from Ancient Voices.  This is the first time it has been released outside of the anthology.  More of my related short stories can be found in The Dragon Tempest anthology, and The Magical Muse anthology.

Enjoy!


The sun was making its journey toward evening as Broguean the Bard entered the small town of Westfalle.  Its familiar sights and sounds brought some bounce back into his weary step, and he rubbed his stiff, cold hands together vigorously in anticipation.  Lorne, the local tavern keeper, was well known for making a fine brew, even if his manner was…to say the least…a bit gruff.   Armed with his lute, pipe, and a litany of songs and tales, Broguean was looking forward to a spending a boisterous evening quenching his legendary thirst.  His spirits were bright when he finally saw the signboard for the tavern swaying gently in the wind, blazoned with an image of an old wooden mug.  Broguean grinned knowingly.  It had been some time since his travels had brought him to Westfalle.  It almost felt like coming home.

Before he reached the threshold, the heavy wooden tavern door creaked open and a man came flying out as if someone had scooped him up and tossed him like a bucket of dirty dishwater.  Quickly following was a wooden cup, split and chipped along the rim, and the resounding slam of the door.  The cup knocked the man in the head and he uttered a pained expletive in response.

Broguean gave a raspy chuckle as he helped the dazed man to his feet.  “You know you’ve had a satisfying night of carousing when Lorne gives you the old heave-ho.  But I must know, what in glory did you do to get booted before the sun has even set?”  Perhaps there’s a good story here to add to my collection, he thought.

The man clung to Broguean’s arm to steady himself.  His watery eyes lacked focus, and Broguean wasn’t sure, but from the state of the man’s clothes and hair, it was quite possible he’d still been there from the night before.  The man puffed up his reddened cheeks, blowing out a gust of pungent air as his mind slowly tried to form a coherent response.

“Hey now, keep that to yourself,” Broguean said turning his head away.  “If I’m going to succumb to the effects of Lorne’s brew tonight, I’d prefer to do so by actually drinking it.”

“Alas, it was one of the bar maids,” the man whispered loudly with widened eyes.  “A new one—never seen her here before today.  Beautiful vision of a girl as I have ever seen, with soft brown hair and eyes like the sea…” he trailed off as his thoughts became lost in memory.  Broguean jostled him impatiently, still hoping for a good story. “And?”

The man looked about with a mixture of alarm and guilt, whispering even louder.  “Turns out she’s Lorne’s daughter.”  Broguean stifled an amused laugh.

“Aye friend, it is always wise to steer clear of any tavern keeper’s daughter, but especially Lorne’s.  Off you go now before he sees you’re still here—you’re lucky he only threw that mug after you.  Can you make it home on your own?”  The man nodded and stumbled his way down the cobbled street, humming loudly to himself.

With a grin, Broguean picked up the broken cup still lying on the ground and cheerfully swung open the tavern door.  The place was still mostly empty, but Broguean knew that would soon change.  Lorne was standing at the bar to the left, forcefully washing and drying a stack of dirty mugs.  Wild white hair framed an angular face, with a strong jaw, bulbous nose, and thick, unruly eyebrows that were shaped into a frown.   Lorne was obviously in a sore mood, but Broguean didn’t mind.  It was all part of his charm.  Helping him wash mugs was a young woman with pasty blue eyes and limp brown hair, half pulled back into a slightly stained head covering that had begun to fray at the edges.  This must be the daughter who had caused all the commotion.  She had the same bulbous nose and untamed eyebrows as her father.  Oh well, Broguean thought to himself, if I get tossed out tonight, at least it won’t be on the same offense.

The shelf next to Lorne was lined with a row of old broken mugs, only good for assaulting disgraced patrons.   Broguean slid the broken cup in his hand onto the counter along with enough money to pay for his first drink.  If the night went as well as he hoped, it would be the only drink he’d pay for.

“Mind yourself, or that old cup will find your head next,” Lorne said crossly.

“Oh, come now,” Broguean mocked a hurt tone. “You know me well enough.”

“Aye, that’s the point.”

“Honest to the Ancients, I’ll bring you no trouble tonight,” he said sincerely.

Broguean took a quiet table in the corner where he could scout the room as it gradually began to fill with people, some more amusing to watch than others.  There were those who came for serious drinking, with no interest in making merry while they did it.  Sad and boring, thought Broguean.  Some came to drink with their friends or lovers, comfortable and familiar, while others were there to seek new ones somewhat more exciting. The gamblers were the ones to watch, because one never knew what to expect.  Big winners tended to be generous to both bards and bar maids that’s more like it, but big losers were prone to violent outbursts, particularly if they had been cheated entertaining…from a distance.  Then there were the travelers, like himself.   A mixed bag of characters—warriors, merchants, nobles, monks, and rogues, most seeking companionship, even if only with their mug of brew.  Broguean played for them all.  He quickly downed his first drink and signaled for another.  Pulling out his lute, he began to strum a common melody, just to warm up the room before deciding on a song suitable for the present crowd.

But before he had gotten very far, a familiar face came through the door; a monk named Sefton who Broguean knew from his own region.  His unexpected presence brought bitter-sweet memories to mind—they’d once been brothers of the same order, until… Broguean closed off his thoughts with the finality of a prison cell door clanging shut.  That was all in the past now.  Broguean had given up that life, though not his faith in the Ancients, or the kinship he had shared with some of his brethren.  He took a long draught from his fresh mug of ale, finding comfort in the soothing warmth of its effects.  Despite all that had happened, he brightened at the thought of sharing a drink with Sefton and perhaps some tales from home.  However, Sefton avoided his gaze and took a seat on the opposite side of the room.

“Well, how do you like that—not so much as a wave or a nod,” Broguean mumbled to himself in an offended tone.  Sefton was usually a jovial man, but today his expression seemed weary and agitated.  Broguean rarely bought drinks for himself, let alone others, but perhaps this was an occasion to make an exception.  Once again, he raised his empty glass to signal that he wanted more and waited.

The tavern door swung open again and Broguean suddenly understood Sefton’s mood…he was being followed by an unsavory looking man in a gray cloak.  The man’s face lacked expression, but his left hand sported a black ring, and a black serrated dagger hung from his belt.  No doubt he was from the nefarious Order of the Shadow, a group of men who claimed to be monks, but who in truth worshipped the darkness and the evil that governs it.  Dealings with such men rarely ended well.  They were ruthless, brutal, and relentless in their pursuits.  Beyond the notice of the general population, a silent battle was ever taking place.  For hundreds of years, the dark order had attempted to destroy or bury humanity’s most powerful spiritual tomes and relics.  Monks such as Sefton had dedicated their lives to reclaiming them, usually at great personal peril.

So much for frivolity and maidens, and his promise to Lorne.   Broguean had turned away from the monastic life, but he had not forgotten his oaths.  Helping Sefton in his fight against the dark order was one he was glad to fulfill.

One of the bar maids came over to refill his mug.

“Best water it down a bit this time,” he said with a disappointed sigh.  “I’m going to need my wits about me.  Oh, and give my deepest apologies to Lorne.  I really tried,” he said with a boyish grin.

He cleared his throat and struck an upbeat tune, walking out into the middle of the room.  One of his many perfected and practiced songs would not do—this one would have to be improvised for the moment.

“Let the night grow dark and cold as a cavern,
while we gather here in the warmth of Lorne’s tavern…”

Lorne looked up and gave him a warning glare.  Undaunted, Broguean continued.

“Our daily labors are finally at an end,
there’s no better time to sit with a friend…
‘Tis a fine time for a drink!”

Several of the men who’d already had a few too many cheered in response and raised their cups.  The man in the gray cloak remained expressionless, his cold eyes still taking in Sefton’s every move.

Broguean moved near to a table of men who had been trying to best each other with tales of glory all evening.

“Quarreling warriors, so honor bound,
glorious tales of their exploits resound.
Red blood sprayed on their tunics fine,
oh wait, ‘tis not blood, but only wine!
‘Tis a fine time for a drink…and a fight!”

One of the warriors chuckled, while another turned red and looked offended.  Again, Lorne glared at Broguean, who quickly took a swig from his mug and danced over to the next table.

“Spring is here and it’s time for love,
with a bit of help from the Ancients above.
The merchant’s chasing the girl in red,
but she’s got her eye on the noble instead!
‘Tis a fine time for a drink…and a fight, and for love!”

The merchant seemed disappointed, but the surprised noble glanced up at the girl in red who smiled and winked at him.  The man in the gray cloak relaxed his focus on Sefton, who seemed to be rooted in his seat, as the energy of the room picked up and all eyes were drawn to Broguean’s antics.

“Take a chance and roll the dice,
gambling’s such a treacherous vice.
If you dare to play, have plenty of pluck,
buy the bard a drink to change your luck!
‘Tis a fine time for a drink…and a fight, and for love, and for luck!”

There was laughter all around and several drinks were left on Broguean’s table—even the serious drinkers turned a weak smile.  All but the man in the gray cloak, who sat stone-faced as ever, and Sefton, whose grim expression persisted.  Don’t worry, my friend, it won’t be long now.  You well know what to do…and so do I.

Broguean merrily made his way over to the man in the gray cloak, pretending to be oblivious of his intentions.  The man’s dark, soulless eyes sent a chill straight to Broguean’s bones, but he dared not do anything that would betray his feelings.  He smiled and danced about, seemingly without a care.  No doubt everyone in the room thought him a drunken fool—it would not be the first time.  His reputation had been well crafted over the years.  Little did they know, he now played a game far more treacherous than any that required dice.  Sefton’s life, and perhaps his own, were hanging by the stings of his lute.

“A weary traveler seeks rest from the road,
who surely has tales that he’d like to unload.
Stories of beasts or of men on the brink,
if you can add to my song I will buy you a drink…”

All eyes were on the stranger as Broguean strummed an expectant refrain.  Others were calling for him to meet the bard’s challenge and come up with a verse.  Finally released from his stalker’s constant gaze, Sefton moved swiftly from his seat over to the bar.

“Come now,” Broguean chided, purposely moving to block the man’s view of Sefton. “One line in exchange for the finest brew on the western shore.  Surely you can give us just one line…it doesn’t even have to rhyme,” Broguean smirked and tapped his foot to the music. Despite encouragement from the crowd, the man said nothing, his lips pressed tersely together in a thin immovable line.  Beneath his placid exterior he was seething.  Best not push him too far, or I’ll end up with that black dagger in my belly…probably laced with poison, too.

“No then?  Oh well…‘tis still a fine time for a drink…and a fight, and for love, and for luck, and a song!” The room cheered as his finished out the melody.  Now for the big finish.

Broguean took a deep breath and gulped down several large mouthfuls of ale before picking up his instrument again.  He meandered over to the bar, saying nothing to Sefton, but giving him a knowing glance.  With a sigh and a grimace he hoped didn’t show, he set down an empty mug in front of Lorne’s daughter and gazed directly into her eyes.  Only for love of the Ancients…

“Oh, I met a beautiful maiden, fair and noble to enjoy,
with lovely blue eyes, large and good,
and hair silky brown beneath her hood.
Her cheek shines alight, like a lantern by night,
radiant in her chamber.

“She has a lovely neck to embrace,
with arms, shoulders soft as lace,
and fingers fair to clasp.
A damsel so fair and fine, would the Ancients she were mine…”

Lorne’s daughter blushed deep crimson.  An angry snarl came from across the bar, quickly followed by a shock of wild white hair and the strongest pair of hands Broguean had ever known.  Before he quite knew what had happened, he had been tossed out of the tavern onto the cobbled street.  As the door slammed shut with a bang, a cracked wooden mug came flying directly at his head.  With a raised arm he deflected the blow, then picked himself up off the ground and attempted to gather his dignity.  That’s not nearly so fun when I’m sober, he mused.  Now to see if it was all worthwhile.

Broguean picked up the broken mug, and smiled.  Good old Lorne. I knew he’d come through.  Tucked inside was an object wrapped in heavy cloth.  He quickly peeked inside the wrappings, and what he saw took his breath away.  Sefton, my good man, how in glory did you get hold of this?  It was a curved piece of silver, highly ornamented, bearing the crest of Varol, the most venerated hero in all of history.  This had once been fitted to the front of a famous staff, a highly powerful relic that had been carried by Varol’s descendants for generations.  Its loss to the ages had been bitterly mourned ever since. Broguean had seen many images of the staff in old tomes, and on paintings and mosaics.  He had no idea how much power it might still hold, but the staff’s ability to decimate the dark armies was legendary.  Tarnished and time-battered though it was, this was an amazing treasure to reclaim.  He now understood why both Sefton and the man in the gray cloak wanted it so badly.

Broguean quickly wrapped up the relic and tucked it away safe under his shirt.  He set the broken cup on the tavern threshold and gave a respectful bow before making his way down the cobbled street, humming loudly to himself.  His step was still weary, but his spirits were bright as ever.  There was an abbey one town over that would be glad to keep this treasure safe until it could be moved to its proper home.  Isn’t it the merriest jest in the world that old Gray-cloak is still sitting there watching Sefton drink away the night?  All the while, his prize is slipping away under a glowing crescent moon and a sky full of radiant stars.  Hey, there’s the makings of a good song in that!  Speaking of radiant, I sure hope Lorne doesn’t actually think that I wanted his daughter!  He really does have the best brew around…and after tonight, Sefton owes me a few.

.

 


 

The Magical Muse 72THE MAGICAL MUSE

A Collection of Fantasy Stories

Stories of fantasy ranging from dark, to light and inspiring, bring life to this anthology.  The creatures featured throughout, both good and evil, display the devastating or wonderful personalities they were given by the authors who created them for your enjoyment.

Featuring My Short Story: “The Hounds of Alazoth”

Mythological hounds are a foreshadowing of doom for one man seeking refuge from their deadly chase. Allison D. Reid brings a tale of adventure as seen through the eyes of the hounds and their mysterious master, born from the darkness of hell.

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace

 

The Dragon TempestTHE DRAGON TEMPEST

Tales of Fantasy and Adventure

The Dragon Tempest offers a collection of short stories in a variety of fantasy genres, including dark, light, adventure, and epic. Creatures from all worlds abound: dragons, angels, centaurs, witches, gods and goddesses, and those lurking below the water’s surface. Whether you’re moved by tales of battle and bloodshed, suspense, humor, or enlightenment, The Dragon Tempest will leave you craving more from each author. Such a diversity of great fantasy tales to enjoy will leave no room for disappointment.

Featuring My Short Story: “A Bard’s Tale”

A rogue bard seeks rest from the road at a favorite tavern. Seeking a night of merriment and free ale, he finds instead an unexpected danger…and an old friend. Can a tune and a little cunning save them both?

Featuring My Other Short Story: “Birth of the Necromancer”

Alazoth and his hounds strike terror into the hearts of men. Passed down through the generations is a chilling myth about the origins of his son. Who has this child of evil grown up to be?

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace

The Hounds of Alazoth

Thanks to Renee Scattergood for posting an author spotlight, featuring my short story, “The Hounds of Alazoth” from the Magical Muse anthology.  (See the full post on Renee’s blog.)

This short story connects to my Wind Rider Chronicles series, depicting an event from Journey to Aviad, but from the villain’s point of view.  This is the first time it has been released outside of the anthology.  Two more of my related short stories can be found in The Dragon Tempest anthology.


 

The Hounds of Alazoth

The sun had finally sunk below the rim of the world, bathing the Deep Woods in a dark blue twilight. Sensing movement, a Hound lifted his head, turning his nose toward the wind and perking his ears forward. A massive figure was rising up from the earth, his imposing black-horned leather armor and antlered helm a familiar sight. The Master was awake.

The Hound watched his master intently as he and his brothers were roused from sleep, now alert and ready to begin their nightly roving. But this was to be no ordinary night. The Master was calling to them in the only language they could understand…guttural and primitive, from the very dawn of time. There are men in the wood. Men who belonged to their sworn enemy, Aviad, the Creator of all things.

Humans were Aviad’s most prized creation, but they were made of flesh; fragile and weak, not worthy of the high status that had been bestowed upon them. They called the Master “Lord of Destruction,” and rightly so, for since the beginning of their existence he had brought nothing but chaos and death into their lives. The Master had found no way to destroy Aviad—he was far too powerful. But the human vermin were a different matter. The Hound let out a low, angry snarl. How had they dared to cross over into the Deep Woods, the dominion of his master? From within the hound’s belly, the depths of the abyss spewed forth as fire, and he let out a smoky howl at the rising moon. His brothers followed his lead. The hunt had begun, and there would be no escape.

The Master raised his staff, leading his pack into the thick of the wood where the waning light had formed great pools of shadow. The darkness brought them into full wakefulness, sharpening their instincts and giving them clarity of sight. His nose to the ground, the Hound picked up the men’s scent. He let out a glorious howl that was sure to chill their souls if they could hear it. The pack rushed forward, excited by the smell of prey, their tongues salivating at the memory of previous kills…the taste of flesh, the aroma of fear, the shrieks of pain. They were shrieks of victory that Aviad could hear.

Far ahead, there was a flash of movement in the trees. There were three men, all wearing the rough brown robes of the Enemy. Holy men. Around them Aviad’s light glowed, making the Hounds’ sensitive eyes ache with pain. But this did not deter them, it only sharpened their anger. The Master called out to them again…the holy men are not here by chance. They had found something of importance—an ancient relic that belonged to the Enemy. A relic that had had the power to decimate the Master’s armies. It had been buried in the Deep Woods for hundreds of years in the hopes that it might never again be found. But somehow these holy men had found it. They must not be allowed to carry it out of the wood.

Bristling and growling, the pack raced even faster. The Hounds knew they would be upon the men in a matter of moments—no man or beast could match their speed, enhanced by the power of the Master’s staff. Their prey continued to run in a pathetic attempt to get away, their legs and the thick brush getting tangled in their long robes, slowing them down. Their master called out again for speed. The men were heading toward the river, the protected border of the Deep Woods which the Hounds were still unable to cross.

The Hounds were so close upon the men now that they could smell their sweat, and hear their desperate gasping for air. The Hound let out a burst of flame from his belly, scorching the trees as he passed. One of his brothers lunged and caught the slowest of the holy men, bringing him to the ground. The man cried out, but not for long. Several others joined, not to be denied the pleasure of a fresh kill.

The rest of the pack continued to pursue the remaining men. The second one fell, his screams of horror quickly silenced as he was set upon with ravenous fervor. The Master tore through the men’s clothing and their bags, but the relic was not there. He called out again. You must bring down the last of the men without fail. The pack was close on his heels now, snapping at his robes. The leading hound lunged, but the holy man jerked evasively to the right. Another leaped, his claws catching the man across the back. He screamed in pain, his brown robe turning red, but he did not stop running. He was quickly approaching the river. The Hound surged forward with all his strength, catching the man’s legs and felling him at the water’s edge. His weight was pressed upon the struggling holy man to keep him from getting away. He could not help but howl with delight that he had been the one to do his master’s bidding.

But this holy man was not screaming in fear as the others had. He was uttering something in a language the Hound could not understand, but that pained his ears. Before he knew what was happening, the man had fumbled beneath his robe and pulled out an object of such brightness that the whole wood seemed to be enveloped in the light of the sun. A searing pain stabbed through his eyes and head. He cowered from the light, yelping and whimpering, completely paralyzed. The Master was furious; the holy man was getting away. He was fording the river, his blood staining the water around him as he waded across. It was too late. He was beyond even the reach of the Master now.

The bright light faded, but the ache of its stinging power remained. A host of red glowing eyes watched through the falling darkness as their quarry disappeared into the world of men. But while they had lost their battle over the relic, there was still hope in the gathering war. A new age was about to dawn upon a complacent, sleeping world, unprepared for the onslaught their master was preparing to unleash. The Hounds were not the only beasts of long forgotten legend that would soon break out upon the present day. The Master would breach the river barrier…it was only a matter of time. The Hound lifted his nose once more to the wind. The scent of lost souls was intoxicating.

 


 

The Magical Muse 72THE MAGICAL MUSE

A Collection of Fantasy Stories

Stories of fantasy ranging from dark, to light and inspiring, bring life to this anthology.  The creatures featured throughout, both good and evil, display the devastating or wonderful personalities they were given by the authors who created them for your enjoyment.

Featuring My Short Story: “The Hounds of Alazoth”

Mythological hounds are a foreshadowing of doom for one man seeking refuge from their deadly chase. Allison D. Reid brings a tale of adventure as seen through the eyes of the hounds and their mysterious master, born from the darkness of hell.

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The Dragon TempestTHE DRAGON TEMPEST

Tales of Fantasy and Adventure

The Dragon Tempest offers a collection of short stories in a variety of fantasy genres, including dark, light, adventure, and epic. Creatures from all worlds abound: dragons, angels, centaurs, witches, gods and goddesses, and those lurking below the water’s surface. Whether you’re moved by tales of battle and bloodshed, suspense, humor, or enlightenment, The Dragon Tempest will leave you craving more from each author. Such a diversity of great fantasy tales to enjoy will leave no room for disappointment.

Featuring My Short Story: “A Bard’s Tale”

A rogue bard seeks rest from the road at a favorite tavern. Seeking a night of merriment and free ale, he finds instead an unexpected danger…and an old friend. Can a tune and a little cunning save them both?

Featuring My Other Short Story: “Birth of the Necromancer”

Alazoth and his hounds strike terror into the hearts of men. Passed down through the generations is a chilling myth about the origins of his son. Who has this child of evil grown up to be?

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