Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

This began as a very short flash fiction piece inspired by a story from my good friend Ruth Long in The Fairy Ring Flash Fiction Contest.  I was wading through some old files the other day, took this out, expanded it a bit and thought I’d share it with you. A bit of a blast from the past but updated.

The image is one I could not find an attribution for but it is part of the basis for this story so I’ve included it. If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know. Hope you enjoy…


Ruthie and the Darkening Prince

The Darkening bordered the western edge of the Glade that stood between our world and the other. The gloom hadn’t crept in over time or spread through the trees like some dark malady. It simply appeared one summer day, turning the brightly magical woods to a dimmed and dusky version of itself, the edge of it an invisible line through the woods.

As Guardian of the Glade, it was Ruthie’s duty to discover the cause. For nearly a fortnight she sought high and low but could find no culprit for the strange perversion. That is, until a warrior in barbed armor met her at the border. Silently, he walked in the shadowed half of the wood, mirroring her steps like some dark-natured counterpart.

Impatient, she stopped and turned to glare at him. He stopped in the same breath, turning to observe her with cool disdain from beneath his demon-shaped helm. He was tall and imposing, but she did not fear him for she held the power of the Glade.

“Are you responsible for this?” she asked, gesturing along the line dividing her green bounty from his murky landscape.

The warrior eyed her for a moment more.

“I am,” he said finally. His voice was silken and cultured and laced with a leashed power that sent chills down her spine.

She was about to demand more of an explanation, when he lifted a hand to remove the helm. Alabaster hair cascaded like silk over his sinister epaulets. His tawny inhuman eyes ensnared her, freezing her heart mid-beat.

In that stark proud face, she recognized a boy she had once known. A boy she had loved dearly when she’d been but a child. Before she’d become a Guardian. Before he’d inherited the power of his Fae father.

“My Prince,” she breathed, nodding in deference. She would once have had to kneel, but the Guardian of the Glade bowed to no one. Not even the Fae King.

“Guardian,” he said, tilting his head slightly in return. Then, he said, “I remember you.”

“Have we met?” she asked, taking a step toward him as tendrils of chill mist from the darkened wood crossed the line to swirl about her ankles like a cold caress.

A flock of pixie attendants rushed to her, drawn by the threat of his power. They circled her in a cloud of fervent cacophony, their fear obvious in the earthward cant of their diaphanous wings.

“Yes,” he said. “You stole something from me.”

Ruthie nearly took a step back, shocked that he would accuse her so.  “I have taken nothing of yours, my Prince.”

“Ah, but you have,” he said, taking a step toward her. “You stole … a kiss.” A conspiratorial smile creased his cheek, warming his features and peeling back the years to one afternoon beneath the shade of a willow’s cloak. An afternoon she remembered only now.

Her sharp intake of breath confirmed the truth as a long-denied memory burst upon her mind. The press of his lips to hers like summer wine in the cool shade.

The boy prince had been raised in her village. His fair hair and her auburn locks had bounced through the sunshine as they ran in and out of the dappled shadows of the Glade. They had been close as children, too close, taking liberties with each other that were against the Law.

Had he come now to punish her?

“My lord…” she began.

“No, do not fear,” he said gently. “I seek only a small recompense.” He leaned toward her without emerging into sunlight although his face was mere inches from hers. His voice and the unexpected tenderness in his eyes beguiled her and she leaned in to meet him.

“And what penance is it you seek?” she asked, her heart stirred with a heady emotion she was reluctant to name.

“I would like my kiss back again,” he whispered, his eyes on her lips.

His dark yet noble heart beckoned to her, as it always had. The child she had been longed for the innocent rebellion of those bygone days, but they weren’t children anymore. He was a Prince and she a Guardian. What had been only frowned upon long ago would now be a grievous sin. Still, she wavered, tempted to grant him this one small trespass.

Sensing her weakness, the pixies admonished her in a whirlwind of fluttering, their wings like so many butterflies on her cheeks. But she shooed them away angrily. She didn’t need their council. She knew quite well what hung in the balance.

She had taken an oath as Guardian. Her loyalty was to the Glade, and the Glade alone. Her heart and the Glade’s were one and the same. As the neutral border between the Fae and human realms, she could not give that heart to one side or the other. As Guardian, she must refuse him even the smallest of favors, for to grant one would be to endanger the peace that was the Glade’s reason for being.

“What say you?” he prompted into her silence as he lifted a long finger to trace the line of her jaw.

“You know I cannot,” she whispered, her voice full of a longing she had meant to suppress.

His golden eyes roved over her face and came to rest on her lips. “Then, my dear lady, the Darkening will remain until justice is served.”

He stood back from her, letting the cool mist rise between them. It sent chills up her arms as she watched him bow and turn on his heel to stride off into the gloomy woods.

She knew him well enough to know he would find a way to get his kiss in the end. And she wanted him to. But, she had a few tasks she required in return. Her lips curled with mischief. It would be an interesting summer.


 

Review of Braving the Wilderness

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True Belonging is something we all aspire to and yet something we pursue in all the wrong ways. Fitting in is not the same as belonging, as Ms. Brown discovers in her research. Spurred on by a Maya Angelou quote (“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”), Brene brings her considerable research skill and dedication to the question of what does it mean to belong.

This book resonated with me on so many levels and I had quite a few A-ha! moments reading it. I love psychological books that touch on the real problems we face as individuals and as a culture. As usual, Brene Brown treads these delicate issues with fierce courage and vulnerability and tells it like it is. I’m sure this is a book I will go back to more than once to re-read and digest and course-correct myself in my dealings with others. A great read for anyone who has felt left out by the world at large. Inspiring, hopeful and vulnerable.. just like we all should be. Thank you, Brene.

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Review of Tears of War


Tears of War by A.D. Trosper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Galdrilene’s Dragonriders are back and so are the Shadow Riders. The conflict heats up in this second book of the Dragon’s Call series by A.D. Trosper. The scope of the story blossoms from just the first eight riders to a brewing world war, as the riders must go to back to their homes to convince the nations that not all dragons are black and magic does not cause insanity. Game of Thrones in its scope, Tears of War shows us more about the world the riders must deal with and the kind of enemies they have. I cringe at the power of the Shadow Riders and found myself seriously worried for a few of my favorite characters. With a name like Tears of War, you know bad things are going to happen and if your eyes are dry at the end, you must have skipped a few chapters. A great read, and I eagerly look forward to the next one in the series.

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Review of Betrayed by A.D. Trosper

Betrayed (Raven Daughter Book 2)Betrayed by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You won’t feel Betrayed by this book, it delivers. (See there, I did it again)

You really should read Unveiled first and I will attempt to avoid spoilers. That said, I wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys a paranormal romance that has heart, a wonderful cast of characters and a good plot.

Snarky Jo and arrogant Caius are back, and I love them more with every page. As Jo comes to grips with the realities of her world, a world wherein her most trustworthy ally is a high-ranking demonborn, she begins to embrace her power and her potential role in the war she thinks is heading their way. A war prophesied by the Morrigan, the supernatural Mother Of All whose end it is foretold Jo will bring about. But prophesies are tricky things, as we all know.

The action is fast-paced and there are plenty of dangers awaiting her and her allies, not the least of which is her own unfathomable power and her growing affection for her demonborn partner. Jo and Caius sport the same rebellious streak concerning following the rules of people who are trying to kill them (which I totally love) and we discover another bond between them that makes me root for them all the harder. The loyalty they feel for each other and the sparks that fly are tantalizing and satisfying at the same time – as any good romance should be.

Again there is a slightly cliffhanger ending as with Unveiled but I am sure all loose threads will be tied up in the pending sequel and I just can’t wait to find out what happens next. You do not want to miss this series.

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Review of Unveiled by A.D. Trosper

Unveiled by A.D. Trosper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A.D. Trosper “unveils” another engrossing and delightful story. (See what I did there.)

I have enjoyed other books by this author and I am always struck by the ease with which Ms. Trosper creates her worlds. Her language is unadorned and straightforward. The prose itself quickly slips into the background as the setting she creates fills your imagination. The world-within-worlds reality of Unveiled is truly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what further lands are explored in the sequel(s) to this book.

Moreover, Trosper manages to put us smack dab inside the heroine’s head and never lets it slip. Jo, short for Josephine, is an ordinary if extremely stubborn young woman who has never suspected anything supernatural about her life. But when her mother dies, she discovers just how wrong she was. From her unusual parentage to her decision to join the ranks of Reapers (guides who help souls to the appropriate afterlife), she has to embrace a new worldview which she does with a only a smidge of kicking and a good dollop of sarcastic snark. She is tough and vulnerable at the same time; you can’t help but love her. As for her counterpart and reluctant partner-in-crime Caius, he has a Darcy-like haughtiness that just begs for a comeuppance. The two mains play well off each other, with a great deal of enjoyable spark. I bet their relationship will bear further watching.

Trosper’s mix of angels, demons, and older gods is fun and fresh. If you love paranormal romances with a strong sense of snark and humanity, Unveiled should definitely be on your TBR list.

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In Love Is Courage Reading

Since completing the audiobook of Quest of the Dreamwalker, I’ve been sort of fixated on narrated prose. In my travels, I found a site called 600 Second Saga.  This is a website for authors to have their flash fiction read by a professional narrator. I submitted one of my favorites for consideration and they accepted. I hope I will be able to do more of these in the future.

For now, please enjoy Mariah Avix‘s lovely narration of my heartfelt tribute to my parents, In Love Is Courage. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Author Interview – Stephanie Barr

A fellow author who writes YA science fiction/fantasy. Can you say shapeshifters in space?  Check out this lovely interview.

Author Stephanie Barr is a storyteller with a focus on people, whatever form those “people” might be. And she loves to make you think, feel, and laugh. Please welcome this dynamic writer to No Wasted Ink. Stephanie Barr is a part time novelist, full-time rocket scientist, mother of three children (two still at home) and […]

via Author Interview: Stephanie Barr — No Wasted Ink

Tales of the Archer Sneak Peek

I’m so excited. Exactly two weeks from today Tales of the Archer will officially be released!  As a special sneak preview, you can read the first chapter free below.  Order soon to take advantage of the $0.99 preorder sale.


 

CHAPTER ONE

Reid Tarhill watched the bonfire crackle and flare, sending sparks like stars up into the velvet sky. The bright crisp moon beyond the fragrant boughs of the sheltering pines heralded the return of the growing season and warmer weather. The rare gift of belonging warmed Reid against winter’s lingering chill far more than the bonfire’s glow or even the smoky heat from Aedan’s stolen flask. As the tang of wood smoke tickled his nose, he reveled in the merriment around him.

He couldn’t remember the last time his family had attended a Fire Night. His father, Tamrach Tarhill, disdained raucous celebrations, avoiding them with dogged determination. Tonight though, Reid’s mother had worked her subtle magic on the old curmudgeon and here they were—under the stars with all the families of Bear Clan. Their village was small compared with their sister clans at Seal Bay or Eagle’s Nest. Less than a hundred homes in all nestled under the towering pines tucked in the curve of the great White Mountain Range. Continue reading “Tales of the Archer Sneak Peek”