In the spirit of Fairy Tale Fortnight (brought to you by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story) and in anticipation of the June release of my fourth Wilderhark Tale, “The Song Caster”, I’m sharing excerpts from a never-before-released (and not entirely finished, yet) story chronicling the life of our minstrel in blue prior to his introduction in Wilderhark Tale #3. Part 1 is linked here, and Part 2 is below. Enjoy!
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Jackillen’s name had not always irked him. He had lived in ignorance of there being anything amiss for five blissful years. But this era reached its end on the day that the islander caravan made a stop at the small village of Burich, kingdom of Quist. Whilst the grownups engaged in whatever tiresome things that grownups will do, Jackillen capered off in search of playmates. He quickly fell in with a collection of young fellows who were near his own age, if not particularly near his own size; though in coloring the two could not have been much more dissimilar, Jackillen had inherited his mother’s diminutive frame.
“Hallo, chaps!” he called ahead of him, blithely. “Want to hold races?”
To this proposal, the other boys agreed wholeheartedly, one among them declaring, “I’ll go first! It’ll be me against you, Ardric. Then Terril against Lennard, and Earryn against… hey, what’s your name?” he demanded, pointing at the tiny stranger.
“Jackillen,” he replied.
Jackillen’s eyes – a bright green-blue color, ever-changing depending on how you happened to be looking at them, and they at you, at the time – blinked in surprise at the question. “Jackillen nothing. Just Jackillen. Jackillen of the islander band, if you like.”
“What, no family name?” asked the boy called Ardric.
“I suppose not,” said Jackillen, shrugging.
“But you’ve got to have a family name,” spoke the first boy. “Everybody’s got one. It’s Barr, for me; Rowland Barr. And Harritt for Ardric, Stand for Lennard…”
“Mofford, for us!” piped up Earryn and Terril.
“The only reason not to have a family name is if you’re royalty,” said Lennard.
“Which I’m not,” said Jackillen.
“Or if you’re a girl,” added Rowland.
“Which I hope I’m not,” laughed Jackillen.
“Or if you’re illegitimate,” said Ardric.
“Are those all the reasons?” Jackillen asked. “No others?”
The boys nodded.
“Well then,” he deduced, “I suppose that I must be illegitimate. What does that mean? Is it better than royalty, or worse than a girl?”
“It’s worse than anything,” said Ardric. “It means that your mother is cheap, and your father is negligent, and you basically amount to less than a nobody.”
At that, Jackillen’s eyes flashed like blue-green flame. “I am not a nobody!”
“I know.” Ardric nodded. “You’re less than one.”
In less time than it takes to relate it, Ardric was sitting hard on the ground, bawling and holding a bloody nose, and Jackillen was well on his way back to his caravan, having decided that he had no further use for senseless children.
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More of the pre-“Song Caster” tale to come as Fairy Tale Fortnight continues!
And two things to remember: One, I’ve got a giveaway going on! Check out my feature on A Backwards Story and/or my interview with The Book Rat and enter to win a free paperback of Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales, “The Seventh Spell”!
Two, I’m looking for advance readers! If you’re willing to read and review “The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)” ahead of its scheduled release on June 24th, drop me a line via my contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the tale in all its practically completed glory!