Servants of Destiny

FrontMy first published novel though not my first written novel. I wanted to turn the classic fantasy idea of strong male hero protecting his female sidekick on itís head. Here we have a princess quite capable of protecting herself but in need of assistance from a very reluctant source. Using magic, wits, and strength they conquer their enemies and learn to appreciate each other with some humor tossed in as well.

Hereís a sample you might enjoyed from later in the book:

"Dolan lifted his lantern higher as he edged his way into the cave. Of course I get to go first, he scolded himself. He looked at the map and frowned. Am I even in the right place? The hole in the sky had been almost the same, if one ignored the fact it was midday and not night, and the princess had chanted the same words, though this time she said it would merely stabilize the gate. It had been opened, and the thief had felt his skin crawl as they went through and the feeling they were being watched washed over him; it was just like before. Now, alone inside the cave, the eeriness increased.

Silently he counted to himself as he advanced. The assignment was to go two hundred paces inside, then watch as the princess caught up to him. The map had been uncertain, as had been his mistress when she tried to explain her errors and why she wasnít sure anymore of how long the gate would remain open. If they were lucky the wizard wouldnít be near the crown, and he could just take it and leave while the princess closed down the gate. Marelda had not sounded like she believed in luck today.

One-ninety-five, Dolan thought as he stopped at a wide opening. One step inside showed him it was an enormous cavern, at least as large as the castles in the other magical realms. The thief stepped in further and looked around. The walls glistened with light from his lantern as the gold, silver, and gemstones reflected back the flame inside. "Lady and Lord," the slave whispered as he looked around at the riches just seconds from his hands.

In a corner directly across from the cavern entrance a pedestal stood. Sitting on it was a golden crown covered with clear, red, and green gems. Dolan took one step forward, his eyes twinkling, when a bolt of fire shot across his path. Freezing in place, the slave looked up at the largest creature heíd ever seen in his entire life, a creature of nightmares and a monster from stories parents of all classes told their children. With a scream the thief turned and fled down the corridor toward the cave exit.

The princess jumped and readied her sword as the screaming hit her ears. It continued, increasing in loudness as she walked carefully into the cave. At a turn she cried out as her slave bolted toward her. She grabbed his arm as he tried to flee past her. A quick survey and a hasty sniff made her shove him outside as she let her backpack fall to the ground so she could remove her jacket with one hand. "Get face down on the ground!" she ordered.

Dolan covered his head as he was beaten with her leather jacket. "Mistress, please! I didnít mean to disobey!" he began as she tripped him, forcing him to the ground.

"Youíre on fire!" Marelda countered.

The slave froze at the words, then screamed as his nostrils filled with the scent of what he imagined was his burning flesh.

"Take off your jacket!" Marelda yelled as she knelt down and scooped up handfuls of dirt. As soon as his smoking jacket left his body she covered it with the dry earth. One glance assured her that nothing else was on fire. "Dolan, just be quiet now."

"I'm on fire, I'm on fire," he was repeating as he hit himself with his hands, his head turning wildly from side to side in an effort to see where the flames were spreading. He stopped cold after she slapped him, his mouth falling open in shock.

"It was just your jacket," Marelda said slowly and softly as she held him by his shoulders.

"My jacket? Just my jacket?" Dolan repeated.

"Yes," the princess replied as she breathed a sigh of relief. She went back to the burnt and torn jacket and dusted some of the dirt off. "It set me on fire," Dolan said as he approached, one wary eye on the cave.

Marelda picked up the remains of his jacket and smelled it. "I don't think so," she said as she stood up.

"Oh, yes it did," Dolan replied.

"This smells like oil, the oil from your lantern," Marelda informed him. From one of the sleeves a metal ring fell. "And that looks like what's left of said lantern."

The slave blinked a couple of times as he considered the jacket, the tarnished metal ring, and the cave. "Maybe, but that thing in there is going to do a lot worse to us."

"You saw the wizard?" Marelda asked as she dropped the jacket. "Tell me, what form is he in?"

Dolan pulled away angrily. "You said he could become a bear, or a unicorn, or a lion! You never told me he'd be a demon!"

The princess frowned but simply repeated her question.

"I'm not going in there, and I don't care if you beat me within an inch of my life!" the slave announced as he backed up a few steps. "In fact, kill me now quickly if Iíve pleased you at all, Ďcause not going back."

"Whatís in there?" Marelda demanded as she grabbed him by his wrists, her hands twisting his cuffs so that they cut into his body at the edges. "A dragon!" Dolan screamed back. He fell backward onto the ground as the princess released him. "Itís a damned dragon! The worst thing Iíve seen in my entire life!"

Marelda turned back toward the cave. "A dragon," she repeated. "Interesting choice," she muttered as confidently as she could muster.

"Interesting choice?" Dolan gasped as he stood up quickly. "Itís a demon!" The slave turned back toward the glowing gate, falling as his cuffs shot bolts of pain into him.

"It isn't a demon, just a wizard who's made an interesting choice," Marelda said, as she held up one hand and called on the runes of the slave cuffs. She waited until the slave was back at her feet, his face creased in anguish, to lower her hand, so the pain stopped in his wrists to be replaced with her fingernails digging into one of his earlobes.

"Mistress, please. Let's just leave," Dolan begged as he was forced to his feet. "You have two; can't you do something with two?"

"No, of course not." Marelda tempered the harsh tone of her words with the knowledge running through her mind and the look of pure terror in her slaveís dark eyes. "But now that we know what he is, we can better fight him," she tried to assure him.

Dolan screamed as the tree next to the cave burst into flames. Above was the form of a dragon, darker than any night, smoke billowing from his jaws and flames issuing forth.

Marelda bolted for the cave, pulling her thief behind her. Inside, she pushed him against the wall as the flames hit the mouth. "Damn! He must have another way out," she cursed herself for miscalculating again. "Move deeper inside!" she croaked as she pushed her slave forward with one hand as she retrieved her backpack with the other. As she glanced behind them the place where her pack had been was covered with flames."

I see "Servants of Destiny" as the first of a trilogy of novels but sadly I need to find another publisher willing to put out the next two books since I am no longer comfortable with itís publisher.

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