Flash Fiction Friday: Esi’s New Home

alexander-andrews-218361-unsplashPhoto by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Esi walked down an unknown road in the gray shadows of twilight. Were was she? How had she gotten here? As soon as she’d put on this soft, comfortable blue dress and soft leather shoes she’d been cast from her previous home.

She hadn’t wanted to leave, but Esi knew the homeowners were tired of finding broken dishes three times a week. She hadn’t broken the dishes on purpose. They just seemed to slip from her fingers.

Where was she? She’d never seen a road like this before. It was hard and dark in color. A rumbling noise caused a knot to form in her stomach. Then the ground vibrated beneath her feet. What was happening?

The rumbling noise grew louder and came from behind her. She turned and two lights, bright as the sun, struck her eyes. She shielded her eyes with her arm and screamed as the large rumbling thing with two lights, like eyes, nearly ran over her. Just before reaching her, the thing screamed, louder than she, as it whizzed by her, the force of it knocking her into a ditch.

What was that? Esi obviously wasn’t in Schroomville any longer. She stood, brushed herself off, and continued down the road, trying to find a house that might welcome her. She hoped she’d find a house before the darkness fell like a blanket over the land. She didn’t want to encounter any more monsters like the one that had passed her.

The moon peeked over the horizon and revealed a dirt road on Esi’s right. A wooden fence surrounded a meadow on the right side of the dirt road. Surely, this must lead to a nice house. Esi pulled her shoulders back and marched up the path—the kind of road she was used to. The dirt road was longer than Esi anticipated. Weary from walking, her pace slowed. But there, on her left, stood a little brown house, a stream of smoke billowing from the chimney. A small red barn sat next to it.

Esi stepped onto the wooden porch, careful not to make any noise with her new shoes. She tiptoed to a window and peeked inside. Relief flooded her chest as she saw a woman scooping soup into bowls and placing them on the table before eight small children. The woman brushed a strand of hair from her face with the back of one hand.

A large man with brown hair and beard stepped into the room. Esi shrank from the window, but after a minute or two, she, once again, touched her nose to the windowpane. The man had kind eyes, and he scooped soup into a bowl in front of the woman, who now sat with the children.

Then he scooped soup into one last bowl, kissed the woman on the top of the head, and left the room, returning a moment later to take his own place at the table. The family bowed their heads and the big man’s lips moved. When his lips stopped moving, everyone raised their heads and began to eat.

Delight filled Esi’s heart. These people needed her. The woman needed her.

She sat on the porch floor, her back against the house, and waited for the house to grow still. Then she rose and tested the doorknob—unlocked. Esi opened the door, willing it not to squeak. She tiptoed inside and flinched at a growling sound.

Her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, and she noted the large bed beyond the kitchen. She stifled a giggle. It wasn’t a growl, but a snore she had heard, coming from the large man.

Esi moved through the doorway the man had gone through earlier. Just as she’d expected—the dirty dishes were piled on the counter. Esi found a bucket and stepped out the back door. There she found the pump and pumped water into the bucket.

Back in the house, she heated water on the stove, then washed all the dirty items, dried them, and put them in the cupboards, without breaking a single item. She found a basket of mending next to a rocking chair near the woodstove, along with needles and several colors of threads. She set to work and by sunrise, the mending was complete. Esi folded the items and placed them neatly in the basket, then rose from the rocking chair and hurried out to the barn where she climbed the ladder to the loft and fell asleep in the hay.

The next night she entered the house to look for more chores to do. She found a bowl of cream on the table. Esi smiled and savored the delightful treat. This may not be Schroomville, but she was going to like it here.

Can you guess: what is the monster that almost ran Esi down?
What is Esi?
Leave your guesses in the comments.

The Light Arises by C.S. Wachter

C.S. Wachter isn’t letting any grass grow under her feet (cliche, I know). But it was just a few short months ago on February 16, 2018 that her first book, The Sorcerer’s Bane was published and got rave reviews. The Sorcerer’s Bane introduced us to Prince Rayne, or the slave boy, Wren, and his story wrenched my heart and made me love him and want him to survive. This first book also gave us hope as it introduced the One and his work in Wren’s life.

Now, in Book 2 of “The Seven Words” series, The Light Arises, releases on May 29, 2018, C.S. Wachter does not disappoint. As a matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked The Light Arises even better than The Sorcerer’s Bane. This, to me, seems an unlikely feat from a debut author, but C.S. Wachter has nailed it. She has proven that she can definitely write a story that will hold my interest, make me love the characters and cheer for them; make me laugh with them and cry with or for them. An author who can evoke that much emotion within me while I read his or her words is an author with longevity as far as I’m concerned.

In The Light Arises, Rayne struggles with relationships in his home on the world of Ochen. Though he is the Prince, he has been gone for many years and has recently returned. While he was gone, his parents, King Theodor and and Queen Rowena, have devoted themselves to Rayne’s cousin, Brayden. There have been problems between Brayden and Rayne since they were young boys, but now Brayden is insufferable. He is the cause of a strain between Rayne and his parents, so Rayne feels the need to leave his home.

He is not happy to leave the parents he has just been reunited with, but the One has called him for a higher purpose. He is to be the Light Bringer who is to find the seven words hidden on the seven worlds in order to defeat the darkness. He is to begin by bringing light to Veres, a world one can only enter if involved in the brutal games arranged by the Sorial merchants. Rayne is forced to become slave Wren once again to infiltrate the games to skip to the isolated world.

Still more trouble awaits in the form of a golden-haired girl who has vivid memories of the day an assassin came and destroyed her world and disabled her father. She plans to kidnap the prince in order to get King Theodor to help her people.

As I said, this book doesn’t disappoint. There is still lots of action and battling the forces of evil, as well as a promised hope. The Light Arises kept me turning pages to the very end and I eagerly await Book 3 of “The Seven Words” series by C.S. Wachter.

My only question is: will Book 3 be even better than Book 2?

If you like Christian Fantasy stories, I highly recommend these first two books in “The Seven Words” series by C. S. Wachter. If you’ve already read The Sorcerer’s Bane, you don’t want to miss The Light Arises. If you haven’t read The Sorcerer’s Bane, what are you waiting for? Read it and then grab The Light Arises and keep reading!

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron by Aviya Carmen

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron Book 1 by [Carmen, Aviya]

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron (Book 1) by Aviya Carmen is  a fantasy story that also reminded me of an allegory. The story is simplistic and has an abundance of dialogue and lacks action.

There are a lot of quotes from the Bible, but they are not properly noted, and I felt there were too many quotes, as Ms. Carmen quoted full chapters.

The story is sweet and Ayron has an innocence about him that is endearing. It is easy to care for him and want to see him reach his goal.

However, as an adult, I have to say that I found the pace of the story slow. I felt the descriptions and dialogue slowed the pacing, and the lack of action also helped to slow down the pace of the story.

I believe this story would appeal to elementary age children; that they would find it fun to read, and I believe it would hold their interest.

There is a Christian theme running through the book, and though I suggest this book for elementary aged children, I would also caution parents that there is a sprinkling of profanity in a couple of scenes.

The White Forest: The Legend of Prince Ayron (Book 1) by Aviya Carmen is the first book of a series, and Ms. Carmen did something that I do not like in a series’ book, and that is she had no resolution at all at the end of this story. As a matter of fact, the story just seems to drop off in the middle of another conflict for Aryn, the main character. I prefer that even the first book of a series have some resolution at the end of the story, leaving me with some satisfaction as I await the next book because often, the next book is at least a year away.

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C.S. Wachter

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, a debut novel by a debut writer. I have to say that this is one of the few fantasy books I have read since reading the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. I loved the Narnia series, but didn’t really enjoy much of the Lord of the Rings, except for a some of the characters. You see, as a reader, I need an interesting plot that keeps things moving, but more importantly to me are the characters — being able to sympathize or empathize with them, feeling their feelings. I need to care about and identify with the characters, and I need to want to cheer them on and need to know how things will turn out for them.

I was introduced to the fantasy genre later in life — in other words, I was already out of my twenties, and I have always been an avid reader of any genre of story that includes some romance as part of the main story line, so fantasy has never really been my go-to read.

However, I have come to have an appreciation for and understanding of good fantasy books, especially Christian Fantasy books because they have a true good versus evil story line that points to the true hope for a happy ending.

Well, imagine my surprise, when I read The Sorcerer’s Bane and found myself quickly entrenched in the worst kind of evil — the enslavement and abuse of a child. Yet, the child grabbed my attention from the start, and held my attention fast so that I was unable to put the book down, even when it made me cringe and flinch, and it disgusted me sometimes.

So, what was it that kept me reading as I fought past these feelings? It was the characters — the boy who had an incredible resolve for one so young, the teacher who desired to teach the boy more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic, the kind young lady who ministered to the boy’s injuries. Even some of the characters that were part of the evil the boy dealt with held my attention because I had a glimmer of something more than the evil they presented that made me hope they may change.

C. S. Wachter has a way of weaving a tale that drags her character through hell but that always exhibits a glimmer of hope and light for something better to come. Even at the end, the knowledge and hope of more to come whets my appetite for the next book in the series of “The Seven Words” by C. S. Wachter.

So, if you love a good tale of good versus evil, I recommend The Sorcerer’s Bane to you, but only if you are a young adult or adult, as some of the violence and situations in the book may be too upsetting to children.

If you have enjoyed my book review for The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, be sure to stop by tomorrow for a special blog post, where you can read my interview with new author, C. S. Wachter.

Not So Human by Jeannette DiLouie

Not So Human (Faerietales Book 1) by [DiLouie, Jeannette]

Sabrina is an average young American woman who struggles in the relationship department. However, her life becomes more than average in a matter of seconds when four men in black suits and sunglasses follow her home.

She’s really a faerie princess with a royal family in Scotland, but that doesn’t mean her life is suddenly a real life faerie tale. On the contrary, her life is suddenly in danger and if she isn’t battling the bad guys, she’s running for her life and finding possible romance that might not get the chance to blossom.

This is another book by Jeannette DiLouie, who seems to have a talent for multiple genres. Not So Human puts a new spin on faerie stories with the Human Preservation and Advancement Committee out to get Princess Sabrina and all of faeriedom. The story had me on the edge of my seat when the HPAC followed her home and her best friend, Deanda, tells her they have to pack and leave their apartment. That’s when the run for her life begins. The faerie characters are endearing, the HPAC, not so much.

This story is full of action, suspense, a little bit of humor and a touch of romance. Who could ask for anything more?

Not So Human by Jeannette DiLouie is the first of a four book series of “Faerietales”. I can’t wait to get the rest of the series to find out what happens to Princess Sabrina and a certain male faerie I’ve come to love.

 

Armed for Travel

Amelia Merchant sat on her bed reading the last chapter of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. When she finished, she closed the book, sighed, and touched her lips remembering d’Artagnan’s kiss.

Would she travel to another place in another dimension again, or was that just one freak incident?

Amelia didn’t know but she’d better prepare for the possibility. She couldn’t expect there to be a handsome man ready and willing to protect and help her in another dimension. Grabbing her purse and car keys, she scooted out the door.

Amelia eased her little VW bug into a parking space and walked into the sportsman’s shop..

The brawny, bearded man behind the counter smiled. “May I help you?”

“I hope so.” Amelia’s eyes scanned the array of weapons. “I need a couple of items that are small and easy to conceal. I also need a good compass and some simple instructions on how to use it.”

“Here’s a compass that is popular with the ladies because it resembles a compact.” He opened the small square case and Amelia noticed there was even a mirror inside. The clerk also explained that it came with a DVD that fully explained how to use it.

About an hour later, Amelia left the sportsman’s shop with the compass, a handgun and holster to strap to her belt  that would enable the gun to lie against her back , and a boot knife that would fit nicely in the calf of her favorite boots. She felt much better equipped for anything she may encounter in another dimension, or, at least, she hoped so.

The next day, Amelia took her gun to the local shooting range to practice. When she was getting into her car afterward, her cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Amelia, this is Kim. Stacey and I are headed to the library and wondered if you’d like to join us. We’re planning to see what guys are there, select a couple of books and then go for pizza. So, you wanna join us?”

“Sure, I’ll meet you at the library in about twenty minutes.”

She stuck her handgun in the glove box and locked it. When she parked at the library, she also locked her car. She joined Kim and Stacey at a table, hoping she wouldn’t disappear into another dimension before going for pizza.

“So, have you been here long enough to notice who’s here?” Amelia sat down across from her two friends.

The two offered mischievous grins before Kim said, “Jackson Winters is here.”

Amelia’s heart skipped a beat. “Are you sure?”

“Mm-hmm. Skylar Bennett and Hunter Graham are with him. Can you believe that?”

“No way! Have they seen you?” Amelia had been hoping for months that Jackson would ask her out, Kim wanted to nab some time with Skylar, and Stacey wanted to hook Hunter’s interest. The girls knew all three guys were on the basketball team but had never seen the three hanging out together before.

“I’m going to check out the classic literature. I’ll be back when I find my next read.” Amelia headed to the classics section.

A few minutes later Amelia was walking between two rows of bookshelves already engrossed in a good book. She was headed toward the table she shared with Kim and Stacey.

When she heard the giggling of female voices, Amelia looked up and found herself surrounded by young women in long gowns with white aprons. They were staring at her, whispering to each other and giggling. She looked down at her shimmering pink blouse, skinny jeans and brown leather boots and groaned.

“Ah, hello ladies. Could you please tell me where I am and what year this is?”

Many of the young ladies stepped back looking frightened, but one bold woman stepped forward. “You are in the castle of the Sun King, King Louis XIV and the year is 1668.”

“And this is France?”

“Oui, mademoiselle.”

“I don’t speak French, so please continue in English.”

“You are dressed very strange. Where have you come from?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Can you just lend me some clothes and take me to a room where I can change?”

That evening Amelia attended a ball in the castle. King Louis the XIV was known for his extravagant balls and parties. She stood along a wall with many of the other young women servants and helped to keep the refreshment table stocked.

However, she couldn’t help notice a very handsome gentleman dressed in white pants, black boots, a white shirt with a front ruffle and a red jacket. She watched as he danced with several of the elegantly dressed ladies, and then his eyes met Amelia’s as one of the dances ended. His eyes were so startlingly blue, Amelia’s breath caught in her throat and she could not break eye contact.

He approached her as the music and the next dance began. He stood just a foot in front of her and bowed. Then his eyes met hers again.

“May I have this dance?”

Amelia put a hand to her throat and tried to find her voice. “I’m sorry, but I am simply a Lady’s maid. I don’t think I’m allowed to dance.”

“Under ordinary circumstances, you cannot dance, but at my request, you simply cannot deny me. You see, I am Phillipe, brother to the king.”

With that he led her to the dance floor where they stood across from each other in lines among others and participated in a very proper dance.

*****

Kim began to panic when she couldn’t find Amelia in the classics section of the library. Jackson, Skylar and Hunter would be joining them for pizza.

After a frantic search, she apologized to Jackson and the group exited the library.

*****

At closing time, one of the librarian’s walked through the library to do some last minute straightening and in the middle of the classics aisle found To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker lying open on the floor.

 

 

New Improved Flash Fiction Friday: Swords and a Kiss

Where am I? Amelia stood in a dusty street. Tall buildings lined either side. She heard voices and noticed some kind of commotion happening.

There were four men in boots, pants, shirts, vests and large hats with feathers upon their heads. They seemed to be arguing. Amelia sneaked closer and stood between two buildings.

Two of the men drew their swords, while the other two stood to one side. The two with drawn swords began to fight.

However, before they hardly begun, a group of guards arrived and tried to grab the two.  The two, in the wings, moved forward and the four fought the guards in unity.

Amelia didn’t know who the good guys or bad guys were, but she kept her eye on the one who appeared to be the youngest. He was extremely good looking with long black locks hanging to his shoulders. He carried himself quite straight and appeared self-confident.

Amelia watched as the battle continued. She gasped as the swordsmen she rooted for lost his sword. He continued to dodge his opponent’s sword artfully while trying to get to his blade where it lay on the ground.

Without a thought, Amelia ran from her hiding place, grabbed the sword and called, “Hey!”

All the men stopped, staring at her. She tossed the weapon to the young man and ran back to her hiding place. All eyes followed her and when she was safely tucked between the two buildings again, the men resumed their battle.

It was then she realized how out of place she looked in her skinny jeans, hot pink t-shirt and red canvas chucks.

The battle continued until several of the guards had fled and the young swordsman disarmed his opponent and sliced the man’s side. It was a serious wound.

As the remaining guards carried the wounded and fled, the four original men shook hands.

“Well, d’Artagnan, there may be room for you as a Musketeer of the Guard yet.”

d’Artagnan? Musketeer? Did her ears deceive her? She had just begun to read about them when she ended up here.

d’Artagnan’s gaze fell upon her. He approached slowly.

Amelia stood on shaky legs. She felt her face growing warm.

d’Artagnan stopped in front of her, his dark chocolate eyes scanning her from head to toe. Then he bowed, and when he stood, a slight smile tipped the corners of his mouth.

“Milady, I do not know where you came from, but I owe you a debt of gratitude for retrieving my sword for me.”

“No problem.” Then realizing he wouldn’t understand, she said, “Think nothing of it, sir.”

“Your clothing are quite unusual. I wouldn’t let the king’s guards see you dressed like that or you may be arrested and hauled off.” He winked.

“Yes, I will be careful. I . . .”

Before she could finish her sentence, d’Artagnan took a step closer, put a hand in her long, blonde hair, and placed his mouth upon hers. His lips were warm, soft and moist, and the kiss tender.

When d’Artagnan drew back, Amelia was breathless.

“Is there some way that I can be of assistance to you, milady?”

“Um, I’m not exactly sure, but I need to find  a way to get home.”

“Where is your home?”

“In the United States.”

“I’ve never heard of that place.”

“Yes, well, it’s a long story. Don’t worry about me. I’ll figure something out.” She sounded more confident than she felt.

“I’m not comfortable leaving a lady in distress. Maybe I could, at least, get you some suitable clothes.” d’Artagnan took her arm and led her down the street.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, one of the librarians at the Manheim Township Library retrieved a book from the floor, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.