I'm a fan of this cover, so let's begin with that and a blurb.
In the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf Caliphany Aranea, nearly a century old, has never been allowed to travel farther than a few miles out of the capital city of
When two brutes at
attempt to kidnap her while she dreams of faraway lands, half-elf ship captain and ranger, Galadin Trudeaux, comes to her rescue. From their first chance encounter, to the finale, where Caliphany must decide where her heart truly lies, she and Galadin will face more adventure, more love, more heartache, than they ever thought possible. Through it all, they discover the Leogard Harbor
power of forgiveness and of a love that stands the test of time.
power of forgiveness and of a love that stands the test of time.
And now I'll turn the floor over to Mysti, beneath the jump. She's got a great guest post for you, and an excerpt from her new book, too. If the excerpt appeals--and I suspect it will--be sure to leave a comment; Mysti's giving away one free PDF copy of A Ranger's Tale to a lucky commenter!
First, a great big thank you to Rachel here at Fantasy Unbound for having me here today! I hope you all enjoy my post. ~ Mysti
Such a simple word. Home conjures up different memories and emotions for everyone. We might look back on our childhood home with nostalgia and a smile. Perhaps you remember the smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies when you arrived home from school. Mom and Dad read you bedtime stories and prayed at the dinner table. You remember potlucks and camping trips, tickle fests and lazy summers.
Home to you now might mean a refuge, a place to kick off your shoes and relax after a long day of work. It’s where you welcomed your first-born and counted little fingers and toes to make sure they were all there. It’s where you lay your head at night and where you curl up with the love of your life.
Then there are the unlucky ones whose memories of home are not so pleasant. Mom and Dad were perfectionists and overly strict. Or worse yet, there was drug abuse or violence. Things like poverty and divorce can tarnish the meaning of home and spill over into our current lifestyle.
Most likely, home conjures images that are both good and bad. We have fond memories that we cherish and hold onto when life gets us down. Painful events remain with us though—deaths of loved ones, broken marriages, broken dreams.
When writing A Ranger’s Tale, I was conscious of what home meant to both Caliphany and Galadin. Even though Caliphany was raised in the lap of luxury as a high elf and niece of the king, her parents never let her spread her wings, never encouraged her to follow her dreams. The death of her brother when she was a young girl cast a shadow over their family that she, in turn, paid for.
“Once, many years ago, I remembered running into the room, while Father stooped over a journal, quill in hand. The desk was like a mountain then, and my father behind it, a giant. I ran around to his chair, into his widespread arms, and giggled at his bear hug. He had picked me up and held me in the air, tossing me around until we both laughed. Then, Caelen died, and everything changed. I took one last glance at the darkened room and wiped a tear from my eye as I shut the door behind me.” (from A Ranger’s Tale, Chapter 3)
Their disapproval spurred her to take matters into her own hands and seek out the kind of life she wanted.
Galadin grew up in a lower class merchant family, the son of a high elf mother and a human father. They loved Galadin dearly, and he carried that memory with him to help him survive the years that followed his parents’ death at the hands of pirates. But, he never really believed he could recreate that wonderful memory.
“As if history pulled me along, I headed in the direction of our old cottage. The stone foundation still stood, covered in vine and brush. I pulled back some of the growth and sat on one of the old stones. Razor climbed from my arm and sat beside me. Life had taken its toll on this place. And me. Maybe Claude had been right. Maybe I was fooling myself. I’d hoped running my father’s old business and doing an honest day’s work would absolve my sins. Forty-five years old, still young for a half-elf, but old enough to know life didn’t work like that. People reaped what they sowed. Eventually, I’d have to gather a bitter harvest.” (from A Ranger’s Tale, Chapter 5)
He didn’t think a happy ever ending was remotely possible—that is, of course, until he fell in love with Caliphany.
Now I leave you with the hope that you will enjoy A Ranger’s Tale as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I leave you with a question. Feel free to answer in the comments below. What does home mean to you?
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North Leogard, the Aranea Estate, 15 Xaviel,
259 (The 259th year of King Leopold Vaeloria’s reign) LV
Fresh hay tickles Caliphany’s nose, and she stifles a sneeze. Hide-and-seek is her favorite game, except Aelendyl is allergic to hay, and she knows it. Below the loft, he runs and calls for her. He starts to climb the ladder and breaks into a sneezing fit. Caliphany giggles and picks a ladybug off her pointed ear. She watches it crawl along her finger and catches her breath when it opens its wings and flies away.
“Come on, Caliphany, I know you’re up there!”
A spark of fire springs to life in Caliphany’s hand. She knows she shouldn’t, but Aelendyl’s been making her play
for three hours. If he wants to see magic, she’ll show him magic. She crawls to the edge of the loft and peeks over. Aelendyl’s headed for the stable door. She flicks the flame down toward him, and it lands at his feet with a loud pop. Mage Academy
He screams, “I’m telling!” Then, he runs from the stable.
“No. Please!” Caliphany hurries down the ladder, but trips on the hem of her dress. She lands with a thud on the dirt floor. A spark flies from her hand when she lands, straight into the dry hay at the rear of the stable.
The fire spreads like a plague, and smoke fills the stable. Coughing, she hurries to the stalls, opens them, and shoos their three horses out. By the time she escapes, flames have engulfed the structure, and the heat has scorched her skin like a too-hot bath. Her mother, father, and Aelendyl come running from the manor.
Father’s voice booms, “Caliphany! What have you done?”
Mother rushes to her side. “Oh, my darling, are you hurt?”
“We were playing hide-and-seek. I just…I’m sorry!”
She looks at the little high-elf boy. He trembles and rubs his nose on his sleeve. Her parents keep talking of their future marriage. She’d sooner marry a goat, but she never wanted to hurt him.
Father grabs her by the shoulder. “You could have killed Aelendyl, or our horses, or yourself. Stand back!”
The great wizard lifts his hands, chants a familiar spell, and the wind whips above the stable, spinning the fire into a cyclone. A dark gray cloud materializes, heavy laden with rain. One more chant, and the cloud releases its torrent over the inferno. A few minutes later, the burned-out shell of the stable smolders in front of them.
Aelendyl nods and bows to them. “I should go home now.”
When he leaves, father bends toward Caliphany. “Your behavior was inexcusable.” He yanks Caliphany up, tucks her under his arm, and heads for the manor. She screams and kicks.
Mother runs behind them. “Sirius, what are you doing?”
“We’ve coddled her too long, Ellawen. It’s time she learns her place before we lose another child.”
Inside the manor, he puts Caliphany down, grasps her arm, and drags her downstairs. He opens a storage room door. She wails and pulls against him, nearly knocking them both down. With one last burst of strength and a blast of wind from his wizard hands, Father hurls her into the small room, and shuts the door.
The wooden bar slams down, the sound of it sealing her fate. She runs to the door, pounds on it, tiptoes to peek out the window.
Father turns Mother around leads her up the stairs. “Stop crying. I won’t leave her in there forever.”
Caliphany turns, rubs her arms, slides down the door. Lamplight from the hallway makes flickering shadows in the room. Behind the crates, jars, bags, and stored furniture, she imagines ghosts lurking, hairy spiders, and unimaginable things with mouths watering at the thought of feasting on her flesh. She buries her face in her hands and cries, wishing she had never been born.
* * * *
The Southern Sea, 23 Kersh,
Sunset transforms the plain gray vessel into an amber dream ship. Innessa lies to the north, Tyronia to the south, and the Trudeaux family sails southeast toward
. Young Galadin can almost taste the stone-baked fish and evynfruit pie—Yura Juntay’s specialty. He’s not seen them for a year or more and can’t wait to arrive on the island to hear Keevo play his lute as they eat, and go spear-fishing with Kando. Tilliya Island
He tugs at his mother’s skirt. “When will we get there?”
Mama smiles down at him and ruffles his hair. She is the most beautiful woman Galadin has ever seen—a high elf, with long golden hair, bright blue eyes, and freckles on her nose from her time on the sea with his father.
She laughs a sound he’s sure only angels can make. “Soon, my darling, by morning.”
“Where are Bob and Shyler?”
“They are taking a shore leave. I’m sure they will be with us next trip.”
Galadin frowns. He’s come to love young Bob and Shyler, barely more than boys themselves. The other crewmen brush him off, but when he grows bored, the two young men sometimes play checkers or pretend to be pirates with him.
Papa walks by and pinches his cheek. “Quit pestering your mother and get ready for bed. You’ll be fishing with Kando before you know it.”
Galadin chases after Papa, a human man with curly brown hair and a kind-hearted smile. He knows his mother will outlive his father by centuries, but even at his young age, he senses a love between them that defies the boundaries of time.
He reaches Papa and pummels his back in a mock attack. Papa feigns injury and falls to the deck. Galadin is quick to pounce, but is soon pinned down and tickled until he can hardly catch a breath.
Papa pauses just long enough to ask amidst his own laughter, “Do you yield?”
Galadin squeals, “Yes, Papa, I yield!”
“Come on then,” Papa says, offering his hand to help him up. “Off to bed.”
They stand, still smiling and breathless from their tickle match. Smiles are lost when the sun’s last rays are blacked out. A dark form has suddenly appeared on the sea right beside their ship. Mama screams.
It happens in a blur. Papa throws Galadin and his mother into the cabin, tells them not to come out no matter what. They crouch behind the bed, but the screams and shouts and flashes of fire grow so loud, Mama begins to cry. He cries too, and clings to her tightly. The door bursts open, she screams, and shoves him under the bed. He crawls on his belly just far enough to see.
Mama’s feet are planted firmly in front of him. She begs the pirates to take whatever they want and leave them alone.
Galadin hears a horrible laugh. It will haunt his dreams for the rest of his life. The man’s feet step forward and Mama stumbles. He pushes her down on the bed.
“Quit yer fightin’, and do what you women do best. Lie there and take it!”
She kicks him away, gets to her feet again. “Never! I’ll die first.”
“Have it your way.”
The next sound reminds Galadin of his father splitting logs back at their cottage in Wildewood. And then he sees Mama’s eyes once more, as her limp body and severed head drop to the floor in different directions. Her lips are moving as if she’s trying to comfort him with silent words. Her blue eyes lock on his and her blood runs under the bed until it coats his arms and chest.
He reaches out a helpless hand. “No!”
The pirates rip him from under the bed, drag him out, and throw him on their ship. He looks up to see his father’s ship in flames and Papa’s body tied high to the mast. The fire has reached his legs, and he’s screaming like nothing Galadin’s ever heard before. Bile rises in Galadin’s throat, and he hunches over to vomit. A loud crack at the back of his head knocks him flat to the pirate ship’s deck. The last thing he’s aware of is a rancid, metallic smell; a mixture of vomit and his mother’s blood.
* * * * *
Mysti Parker is a full-time wife, mom of three, and a writer. Born and raised in
, writing has always been her first love. After many years of pursuing other things, she began her writing career in earnest in 2009. Look for more romantic tales from her fantasy world of Tallenmere, where magic, passion, murder, and mayhem are a part of everyday life. You can find Mysti at http://www.mystiparker.blogspot.com and http://www.melange-books.com/authors/mystiparker/mystiparker.html. Kentucky
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Want your own copy of A Ranger's Tale? Leave a comment with your email address to be entered in a drawing for a free PDF copy, or find it available here: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/mystiparker/parkerarangerstale.html.