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Shadow on Concrete Wall

Return of the Defenders

This is the fifth book in an eight book fantasy series. The 5th novel is being beta read. It is scheduled for release on 1/9/2024.

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On a medieval planet, Brodia has escaped with her lover, the Bone Crusher. The enemy believe she is dead, but she's training to get stronger as she waits for the right time to return.

Meanwhile the enemy grows stronger too. Grand Wizard Quon has established an Academy of Wizards and has many students trained in the art of a wizard's battle.

Planned for 1/9/2024

release

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Tropical Leaves

Waves in the Water

 

In the fourth kingdom on the planet Vosj, during the sixth year of Queen Foliana’s reign, the river would soon sweep little Tresela over a two-thousand-foot waterfall.

Before then, Tresela tossed another boat onto the rushing waters of the stream near Home Cave, where she lived. She watched as the strip of bark bobbed its way before disappearing over a small waterfall. The girl sat on her haunches in the pouring rain. But she didn’t care as it had rained daily for as long as her five-year-old mind remembered.

In her game, each boat was one of Papa’s fishing boats. She loved his stories told during the evenings by the fire. Tales of houses above a cliff with fishing boats at the bottom. Legends of sea storms, creating waves like those that crashed into the cliff’s base at the edge of her world. She’d never seen a proper house or boat, though Mama promised to take her flying to see one soon.

But Mama wasn’t at Home Cave, so Tresela should be mindful of what Aunt Jis told her. Still, she could slip away when Jis played with her knives. Of course, she wouldn’t wander off too far, so she remained near the forest’s edge.

She made her next boat by pulling more bark from the dead branch she’d found. Tresela felt a strange itch at the back of her neck. Her conical hat stopped her reaching it, so she continued her game. After tossing the make-believe boat into the stream, she heard a sound above the constant patter of the rain on her leather hat. But a maze of pine trees blocked her view. Is Jis creeping up on me? After pulling off her hat, she strained for the sound again, ignoring the rain plastering her black, curly hair to her head.

All her young ears picked up was the rain. Putting on her hat, she made another boat to send to the big cliff at her world’s edge. Tresela chased the boat as it turned in the stream. Soon, she was past the point where she saw her home valley. But she still felt Uncle Ibun practicing at Home Cave. Besides, she wouldn’t break Mama’s biggest rule about not crossing this stream.

The itch continued to pester her. When a strange sound came again from the woods, she held her breath to listen; someone shuffled through the soggy pine needles. “Aunti Jis,” she called out. Of course, she didn’t feel Jis like Uncle Ibun, so she wasn’t sure if it was her. “I can hear you,” she said, wishing it was true.

She spied a light brown shadow deep in the near black of the tree trunks. Standing, she watched, hoping for Jis in her bearskin coat. But the thing moving between the pine trees was so much bigger. Tresela stepped back as the creature came closer. In the past, when she met one of these monsters, Papa, or Mama pushed it away, so she knew she must keep far from it. She took another step back, her feet on the stream’s edge. But her attention remained on the massive animal walking toward her that Mama called a bear. It sniffed the air.

Tresela ran into the stream. Behind her, the monster crashed through the bushes.

The stream raced over the slippery stones. When she peeked back, the bear was at the stream’s edge. She slipped as the water tugged at her legs. Screaming, she hit the cold water, which dragged her away. Rocks banged into her as she rolled in the current, pulling off her hat. When she grabbed a rock, her hand slipped; then, she rolled down the stream again. Everything spun as the water got faster. Soon, Tresela no longer rolled over rocks; now, she floated. She had to fight hard to keep her head up to breathe.

The water swept her into a pool, giving her time to cry for help. But the stream didn’t care about a little girl, so it pushed her from the pool. The trees flew past her. They didn’t care about a little girl either. The cold water made each breath painful. Around, she spun, keeping her head up to cry out.

After being battered by the stream, Tresela found herself floating in calmer waters. Waggling her arms, she turned to look around. Now she was in a broader river, drifting past the trees. All thoughts about the bear disappeared. If she reached those trees, she’d be safe. She paddled toward the nearest shore, her arms flailing weakly as the cold stole her strength. She just wanted to rest. So, she did.

She searched for Uncle Ibun with her mind, but he was too far away. She searched for Mama or Papa but found nothing. She noticed a speck in the air near the forest’s edge. Was it Mama or a bird? Tresela screamed as loud as possible, but the dot didn’t care because it didn’t move.

It would be easier if she breathed like a fish, so she let herself sink. With her eyes open, she saw the bottom. Can I breathe down there? A calmness came over her as she drifted down. Then, something snapped her back. She knew she would die there, so she kicked up to the surface, taking another desperate breath.

That sky’s speck was gone, so she cried because the world didn’t care. Tresela turned herself to see where the river was taking her but saw nothing except a sky filled with dark clouds. She was at her world’s end, where the river disappeared over the big waterfall down to the endless sea.

Scared, the five-year-old held her breath. Next time, she would stay in Home Cave like Mama told her. Next time, she wouldn’t die.

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