With a week and a day* until the release of “The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)”, I’ve decided to be a terrible tease and feed you excerpts of the novella set to launch on June 24, each accompanied by a mini-giveaway! The first happened here, the second here, and the third and last begins… now.
*At least, that’s the official launch day. Stick around ’til the end of the blog post for some exciting** pre-order info!
**Lute and I aren’t the only ones excited, right?
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With the air of one humoring another in the hopes of removing the other from one’s back, Benedeck looked where Lute indicated, his clear intention to look away again in the same instant. Yet, contrary to expectation, his gaze held.
“Oh!” he said in mild surprise. “Of course – I wonder that I did not realize we would happen across it while passing this way.”
“It?” Lute asked.
“That landmark,” Benedeck clarified. “I’ve read of it. Many call it the Flute Stone, named for that narrow piece jutting out there. Curiously enough, that section is actually hollowed out in a markedly flute-like way. An eroding power of a river is an amazing thing – although naturally, the scientific explanation is nowhere near as popular as the fanciful one.”
“Hardly to be wondered at,” said Lute. “And the fanciful explanation is what, exactly?”
“It is said a wizard once fashioned a flute meant to control the world, but was displeased with the end result. Even so, he did not appreciate its theft by a brazen apprentice. The wizard caught up with the thief as he attempted to cross the river and, as punishment, turned him to stone, the flute still clutched in his hand.”
“The stone looks very little like a man,” Lute observed.
Benedeck rolled his eyes with something like amusement. “Very true. And wouldn’t you know that even the least scientific tale-tellers are perfectly willing to attribute that fact to erosion, even while saying also that, in spite of this ill-fated myth, any who brave the waters to blow the flute will gain good luck.”
“Is that so?” said Lute, eyes dancing. “I believe I should like to hear the music of such a flute.”
“You shall do no such thing,” Benedeck told him, “for the Flute Stone, though musically named, has never sounded a note.”
“No? Well, perhaps none with my musical ability have ever set their lips to it. Let us see if Gant-o’-the-Lute cannot make the Flute Stone sound. Be so good as to hold my fishing rod and mind my lute in my absence, Your Highness?”
Benedeck only stared at him. “You would attempt such a crossing now? With a river swollen with lately-melted snow sweeping one way and hundreds of trout swarming the other?”
“Certainly, I would,” Lute replied, already charting the course he would take. A flying leap ought to take him to that barely submerged boulder. (It will be slippery, he reminded himself. Watch the landing.) Another leap from the boulder should land him safely on the rocky shelf opposite. (No space for a running start there, so…) From thence to a second boulder – a shorter jump. And even if he missed his ultimate target on his fourth jump, the river’s current would bear him in the desired direction. (But of course, he thought without doubt, I will not miss.)
Benedeck uttering nervous protests all the way, the first steps of Lute’s plan were carried out, the amateur acrobat even throwing in a few aerial somersaults for showmanship’s sake. The bound to the submerged boulder was flawlessly executed, and he vaulted to the far side of the river with equal ease. The trouble lay in his leap to the second boulder – or more to the point, the trouble lay in the fact that the second boulder was not a boulder, but rather the back and shoulders of a large brown bear, now startled out of its preoccupation with trout fishing.
“LUTE!” shouted Benedeck.
“Whoops!” said Lute.
“ROWRRR!” roared the bear.
Faced with these unexpected developments, Lute did the only sensible thing: Carried on with his plan by catapulting himself off of the angry bear’s shoulders and through the air, landing lightly on the contorted form of the Flute Stone.
“Triumph!” he crowed.
“Behind you, you idiot!” Benedeck screamed.
Lute twisted around – not to face the animal shambling belligerently toward him, but to be in a better position to place his fingers and lips on the Flute Stone’s pipe-like appendix and blow.
And above the rush of the river, the snarls of the bear, and the panicked noises originating from Benedeck sounded a clear, mellifluous musical note.
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To be continued in full on June 24, release day for “The Song Caster”!
And now, for mini-giveaway number three! Leave a blog comment — OR order an early copy of the “Song Caster” paperback or NOOK book! — between now and the end of Friday, and from the commenters / those who provide some manner of proof of purchase, I shall randomly select one winner to receive the signed “Song Caster” bookmark pictured here.
Back after his introduction way back in “The Stone Kingdom”, it’s Crown Prince Benedeck of Peasequay, as realized by my valued Wilderhark artist, Yana Naumova! Now comment and pre-order away, my dears, and I’ll have Will and Allyn announce the winner after their Interactive Theatre skit this Saturday. (: