With a little over a month until the release of “The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)”, I’ve decided to be a terrible tease and start feeding you excerpts of the novella to come. You shall have three, spread out between now and the book’s launch on June 24, each accompanied by a mini-giveaway! And the first begins… now.
<> ~ <> ~ <>
Jackillen Gant was not the sort that could easily keep still. He never had been.
His mother had often recounted, during his childhood, her months of discomfort as the yet-unborn Jackillen perpetually wriggled and squirmed inside of her, as if with impatience to be let free. It was a running joke among the traveling entertainers who made up his extended family of sorts that they had not made the decision to become a caravan until Jackillen came along, at which point they realized they needed to stay on the move simply to keep up with him. He had even been known, on several occasions, to walk in his little-needed sleep – once, somnambulating halfway across a tightrope one of the caravan’s acrobats had neglected to take down for the night. (It might well have been all the way across, had Jackillen not awakened at the midpoint, startled, and promptly fallen off. The moment his broken leg mended, he made it a point to learn how to walk a tightrope while wide awake.) In light of his wanderlust, Jackillen’s eventual career choice was absolutely ideal, as constant travel was a large part of the job description.
Thus it was that Jackillen Gant – better known now as the minstrel Gant-o’-the-Lute – found himself striding briskly along a country lane on the last leg of his leisurely weeklong journey between his home (or the place to which he returned most often, and therefore referred to as home) in Emmett Down, kingdom of Anuranda, and his destination of Cersegg, kingdom of Denebdeor.
As he strolled along, whistling more prettily than many a songbird, Lute looked forward to his latest professional engagement – a double celebration in honor of two pairs of the unlikeliest friends any minstrel ever had.
The first two for which the festivity was to be held were also the hosts of the event, their castle home providing the space for the occasion: Villem and Ursula Deere, king and queen of Denebdeor. Today marked the royal couple’s fortieth wedding anniversary – a date which, six months previously, a terminally ill King Villem had resigned himself to not living to see. Queen Ursula, significantly less resigned, had pleaded with a witch to do her magical utmost to cure her husband. The result had been, in a word, disastrous. But much stress, confusion, determination, and sheer good luck later, Villem had indeed been made well, even making a friend of Gant-o’-the-Lute in the process.
The second pair of honored guests was also a royal couple involved in the chaos of half-a-year ago: Gaol and Millyanna, king and queen of Terrestaire. More accurately, the guests of honor from Terrestaire were a trio, for Gaol and Millyanna brought with them to Denebdeor their first child and primary reason for rejoicing, a three-week-old prince to be christened that very day.
There would be others in attendance Lute was eager to see – one in particular, from whom he had been separated all the winter long, and had yearned for just as much as he had the mild spring air he now breathed and which gently ruffled his fair ginger-gold hair.
“Soon,” he sang to himself, strumming his namesake instrument.
“Soon we’ll be together again, my love, my dear.
Soon I’ll see your lovely smile once more.
Soon your golden voice – singing, laughing – I will hear.
Oh, what a reunion is in store!”
Reunion. Yes, that was what this day was really about, so far as Lute was concerned.
“Anniversaries are fine –
Like babies, have their times and places;
But primary motive, mine,
Is sight of old, familiar faces.
“Emphasis on ‘old’,” he murmured, bracing himself as he entered the Denebdeorian castle grounds. While the affair that had first thrown them all together (even as it threw them apart) had taken place only six months ago, Lute had been one of the few of those involved whose age had not dramatically changed for the magic’s duration. His twenty-year-old body had gone back less than a year in time, while others had aged fifteen years in reverse – and still others, close to three times that. How familiar would some of the faces really be, after all?
<> ~ <> ~ <>
To be continued, in part, soon enough. To be continued, in full, on June 24, release day for “The Song Caster”!
And now, for the first mini-giveaway! Leave a blog comment between now and the end of Friday, and from the commenters I shall randomly select one winner to receive the signed “Song Caster” bookmark pictured here.
That’s right, a bookmark featuring Gant-o’-the-Lute himself, as realized by my valued Wilderhark artist, Yana Naumova! So comment away, my dears, and I’ll have Will and Allyn announce the winner after their Interactive Theatre skit this Saturday!