Introducing “Song of Spirit”!

So, I have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating on “Guts and Glory”. But it’s okay, because that means now you get to read a whole different genre by yours truly!

Introducing, Song of Spirit!

Actually, this is book one in my epic fantasy middle grade series titled “The Elementals”, for ages 8-13 (ish), and I have been working on it since way before “Guts and Glory” even entered my mind. Song of Spirit will be available for purchase through my website on Monday, July 23rd, and through Amazon not long after that. But for now, I am posting the prologue and chapter 1 as a sneak-peek into my epic fantasy coup de gras, in which my own children take on starring roles as mythological creatures in a fantasy world directly connected to our own. If you like what you’re reading and want to give your kid(s) some epic magical reading, please come back on Monday to order your copy!

And now, without further ado, Song of Spirit!

 

Prologue

 

It was dark.

 

But it always was, so that was nothing odd. At least not to those who lived among the mini tornadoes of red and blue that whirled willy-nilly all over the ever changing, ever shifting black countryside of The Great Empty. The blue cyclones were searing hot, the red, burning cold, and both could burn and freeze the life out of any mortal creature who dared walk among them.

 

But then, those who dwelled within The Great Empty were not mortal.

 

Though there were many different kinds of immortals in The Great Empty, only one race could say they were truly native to the dark lands. These unnatural creatures made of mud skin over organic skeletons were kept alive by twisted elemental glamour, and were known to all as newmen.

 

On a day not too long ago, two of these newmen squatted on the only solid part of the landscape — the black ground near a towering rocky fortress — talking low together.

 

The first was small and rat-ish looking with big sharp metal front teeth, mud-like skin and a shock of thorny weeds for hair. He was a sorry sight, in torn, dirty green overalls, and he continually glanced around as if expecting someone to drop on top of him at any moment. His companion was much larger, resembling a gorilla, with drops of dark, scorching oil dripping from his fanged mouth like drool, and his hollow metal eyes glowing with literal fire. His clothing resembled a military uniform, dark blue with gleaming metals at his breast. It was clean and pressed, with not a bit of material out of place. In fact, it would be perfectly neat and tidy but for the bib of steaming oil burn along the jacket collar from the creature’s deadly drool.

 

These two mismatched metal monstrosities ignored the familiar currents of hot and cold that spun and blew among the shifting countryside around them, much more interested in their conversation. It was, after all, the reason they had met in the first place.

 

“They’re coming, you know,” the first one whispered, his voice a mixture of rat-ish squeaks and nails on a chalkboard.

 

The second leaned in closer to hear. “Who?” he growled, his deep voice also matching his own apelike looks.

 

The rat-creature grinned, an evil glint in his fiery, hollow eyes. “The Elementals. They’re coming.”

 

“I have heard that already,” the second retorted. “Have you called me here for nothing more than idle gossip?”

 

The rat-creature giggled like a crazy person. “But they’re coming. They are. ‘Tis not idle gossip.”

 

The ape snarled low in his throat, a warning to the other. “It is not possible. The Elementals are safely humanized and lost among their weak kin on The Earthen Plane Surface, just as they have been for centuries on end. All know this. Even if, by some slim chance, they have been found…”

 

The rat giggled again, rocking back and forth on its hind legs. “Ah, but they have been. They have been found! It know it! I do!”

 

“And you know this, how, Alexander?” the gorilla snarled. “Even Master Adams has not had any such confirmation of these rumors. If he had, he would have surely taken action.”

 

The rat leered up at his companion, his grin dark and twisted. “I know what I know. You can know too, for a price.”

 

Fast as lightning the ape jumped forward, grabbing Alexander by his throat with big, muddy claws. Though these creatures were immortal, they were not impervious to pain. The ape’s iron grip around the rat’s thin throat caused the latter’s eyes to bulge, and he made noises like the screeching of an old iron hinge.

 

“Now,” the gorilla said, his blazing eyes flaring bright. “Let’s try this again. When I let go, I want you to answer my question. If you say anything but the answer to my question, I will proceed to rip that throat right out of your neck, and that won’t feel very good at all. Are we clear?”

 

Alexander nodded hard. When the ape let go and sat back on his haunches, the rat fell backwards, choking and wheezing in a cacophony of screeches and squeaks. Finally, he climbed back up on his boulder, gasping for breath.

 

His eyes remained on the blasted black ground as he answered the ape in a mumbled whisper. “I saw. I saw the elf-pet sneaking around here. He run off towards the Midnight Gate.”

 

The gorilla growled again, unsatisfied. “That means nothing to me, Alexander,” he said, his voice full of danger. “The elf has visited both here and the Earthen Plane Surface many times before. In fact, he is always Traveling. It has been well known that he looks for The Elementals, but has not found them.”

 

“This says otherwise,” Alexander replied, holding up a scrap of paper he had taken from the breast pocket of his overalls.

 

The gorilla took the paper, unfolding it and reading it warily. It said simply, “Bring them home”, and was signed with the grand seal of The Great Queen Herself.

 

The gorilla eyed the rat. “This fell from the elf’s pocket?”

 

Alexander nodded.

 

“And he ran to the Midnight Gate with great haste?”

 

Again, a nod.

 

The ape stood up, throwing a handful of coins at the ground in front of the rat. “Tell no one else of this or you know what will befall you, minion.”

 

The rat nodded, happily scooping up his coins and scurrying away without another word.

 

The ape turned his gaze in a different direction, his drooling mouth twisting into an evil smile as he looked up at the monstrous fortress above.

 

Master Adams will be quite pleased, he thought as he returned to the fortress’ main gate. Quite pleased, indeed.

 

Chapter 1

A Strange Visitor

You know those days when everything is perfect? The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s warm and calm and there’s no school and no homework and no chores to do?

 

Admit it. They can be pretty boring days.

 

It was one of those perfect, boring days in the middle of summer for three perfectly bored siblings as they lounged on their back deck, wishing they had something interesting to do.

 

Nine-year-old Kat frowned as she pushed sweaty curls out of her eyes. Her pink and blue terrycloth dress, grass-stained from earlier in the day, was pushed up on her knees just far enough for her legs to dangle limply through the boards that circled the deck. She wrinkled a freckled nose at the backyard pool their stepfather had raised just the day before. “I’m so hot! Can’t we go swimming?”

 

“Mom said not until she’s done with her work.” Thirteen-year-old Ellen, the oldest sibling, rolled her brown eyes with a sigh, running her fingers through her long, straight hair while her other hand absentmindedly fiddled with the glasses on her nose. “I told you that ten times already.”

 

“But you can watch us swim.” Quinn, who was six, sat beside Kat, his dirty, scraped legs swinging between the boards. As he spoke, he whistled unintentionally through the gap where his front teeth should be. Sweat dripped onto his nose from the hair that stuck out from under the fireman’s helmet he always wore. He, too, eyed the pool with a pout. “You’re old enough.”

 

Ellen sighed, glancing from her phone to the pool. “I can’t swim. You know that.”

 

“You can touch bottom,” twelve-year-old Mae said as she came out of the house with a grape popsicle in her hand. She leaned against the sliding door frame, and didn’t seem to mind the head, which was weird since she was dressed like it was January. She wore red and black striped knee socks with her black combat boots and a black hoodie decorated in white skulls. Her short hair was encircled by her signature red bandanna, which she always wore in some way or another. “Heck, I can touch bottom! It’s only a four foot pool.”

 

Ellen shook her head, though she, too, now gazed at the pool with want, her glasses forgotten in the undeniable heat of the day. “Mom said no.”

 

“Hey, I want a popsicle!” Quinn yelled, jumping up as he saw his sister licking hers.

 

“Did Mom tell you you could have a popsicle?” Ellen asked in a bored tone, still looking at the pool.

 

Mae shrugged. “How about you ask her and find out? HEY! Get your own popsicle!” she cried as she jumped away from Quinn’s reach.

 

Just as Ellen was about to comment, she saw a dark shadow out of the corner of her eye, and jumped back.

Mae laughed. “It’s just a bird, dork.”

 

Ellen made a face at her sister, then looked back at the deck table where she sat. Sure enough, there was a small brown and white bird standing no more than a few inches away from Ellen’s hands.

 

The siblings scrambled to gather around the plastic table, fascinated.

 

“Is it hurt?” Kat asked, concerned.

 

Ellen shook her head slowly. “I don’t think so.”

 

“Weird bird, just standing there looking at us,” Mae commented, licking her popsicle.

 

“Freaky,” Kat agreed.

 

“Romin!” the bird chirruped. Ellen jumped.

 

“Excuse me?” she asked the bird, feeling more than a little silly for talking to a bird.

 

“It said, ‘CHIRRUP!’ stupid,” Mae retorted.

 

“Don’t call names,” Kat said absently, still watching the bird.

 

The bird, however, was only paying attention to Ellen, and looking at her with a very human expression at that.

 

Ellen was fascinated. “Did you say something little bird?”

 

“Romin,” the bird said again. This time the word was unmistakable.

 

Ellen jumped again. She couldn’t help it.

 

“Are we gonna swim or just sit around watching a stupid bird all day?” Mae asked, finishing off her popsicle.

 

“It’s talking,” Ellen said, her eyes never leaving the bird. “Can’t you understand it?”

 

Kat and Quinn glanced at each-other nervously. Neither said what they were thinking. Mae, however, was less tactful.

 

“If Ellen’s going nuts, I’m in charge as the next oldest! Muahahaha!”

 

Ellen glanced at her siblings. “You can’t understand it? It said…”

 

“She,” the bird corrected.

 

“Oh. Excuse me Ma’am. She said …”

 

“What?” Mae laughed. “How do you know it’s a she?”

 

“She said she was a she,” Ellen replied, only too aware of how silly she sounded. Looking back at the bird, she asked, “What’s your name?”

 

“Name?” the bird asked, cocking her head.

 

“Yeah. You know, my name is Ellen, this is Mae, that’s Kat and Quinn. What are you called?”

Mae rolled her eyes, twirling a finger by her ear. “Craaaazy!”

 

“Shhh!” Kat shushed. “I want to see what happens!”

 

Mae sighed. “Fine. I’m going inside to read. Quinn, ya still want a popsicle?”

 

Quinn was torn, looking from the bird to his sister back to the bird. Finally, he shook his head. “Ellen says the bird’s TALKING!”

 

“Ugh. Fine. Have fun being crazy,” Mae said as she closed the sliding door behind her.

 

“Bird?” the bird asked.

 

“Is that your name?” Ellen answered.

 

Quinn moved closer. “What’s it saying?”

 

“She,” Ellen corrected. “She’s asking me what a bird is. I think.”

 

She’s a bird!” Kat laughed. “Silly bird!”

 

“Bird … name?” the bird asked.

 

Ellen thought for a moment. “No… bird is what you are. Like I’m a person. Don’t you have a name?”

 

The bird didn’t answer.

 

“It doesn’t have a name? How sad!” Kat lamented. “We should give the bird a name.”

 

“Her name is Twwwwp. But she doesn’t know that yet. She’s still very young, you see.”

 

All three children jumped, having heard and understood this new voice just fine. It did not come from the bird, but rather it was unmistakably male, and seemed to originate from everywhere, though it was far from loud; one could even describe it as tiny. Kat and Quinn snuggled up to their big sister, suddenly frightened.

 

“Who’s there?” Ellen asked, her voice trembling a bit.

 

“I’m there, humankin.” The voice was now centralized, coming from a faint shimmer on top of Twwwwp. As the children watched, fascinated, the shimmer slowly materialized into a very small man sitting on the bird’s back like a rider on a horse. He had a greenish tint to his skin, large pointed ears, unusually slanted purple eyes, and bright red hair.  He looked down at his clothes, a white t-shirt, jean shorts and tiny tennis shoes, patting his body in relief. “At least, now I am. I do wish it would take less time to enter The Earthen Plane. It is cursed with such a low well of glamour. I really don’t know how the dwarves manage.”

 

“What… who… what are you?” Ellen gasped. Kat slowly reached out her hand to touch him; the little man batted it away.

 

“My goodness! They were right! You are ignorant!” he said, the surprise in his voice unmistakable.

 

“I… I’m sorry,” Ellen apologized. “I mean, it’s just that…”

 

“We never see little men that actually move,” Quinn finished for his sister.

 

Kat cocked her head, thoughtful. “You aren’t a faerie, are you?”

 

The little man grinned. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am! Now we’re getting somewhere!”

 

“But faeries have wings, don’t they?” Ellen asked, confused. “You don’t have any wings.”

 

The little man shook his head, “indeed I don’t. But do all faeries have wings? Come now, I know your mother has taught you better than that!”

 

The three siblings looked at each-other, trying to remember the things their mother had taught them about faeries. She was a writer, and a lover of myth and lore, especially Celtic, and had talked to her children about all things fae for as long as any of them could remember.

 

“You’re an elf!” Quinn suddenly exclaimed, grinning. “Right?”

 

“I knew you would get it!” The little man bowed low. “Romin of the Elven Clan Thornhaven, at your service. And I do mean at your service, humankin.” Looking up, he eyed the three confusedly. “Oh, but where are your sisters?”

 

“Mae’s inside reading, and Rose is napping,” Ellen answered, cocking her head. “How do you know about them? How do you know about Mom? Who are you?”

 

Romin licked his tiny lips as he thought of an answer. “I do suppose you deserve some kind of explanation. Though I must say I can’t tell you everything. Not even quite everything, I’m afraid.”

 

“Why are you wearing people clothes?” Quinn asked, laughing. “Elves don’t wear people clothes!”

 

Romin grinned at the boy. “Now there’s a question I can answer! In order to blend in, of course!”

 

Kat giggled. “I don’t think it worked very well.”

 

“No,” Romin sighed, looking at his clothes and shaking his head. “No, it didn’t.” He grinned back up at them with a wink. “Oh well, I like them. I think I’ll play with them a little longer.”

 

Kat and Quinn giggled.

 

Ellen sighed. “Let’s stick to the point, okay? Who are you and why are you in our backyard? And how do you know ..?”

 

The elf held up his hand, stopping Ellen mid-sentence. “One question at a time please, though I don’t want to repeat myself so I’d rather you got your sisters out here first?”

 

“You sound like Mommy,” Kat said, frowning.

 

Ellen got up reluctantly. “Okay, I’ll go get them. Rose has been asleep too long anyway. But you won’t be gone when I get back, will you? Mae would never let me live this down!”

 

Romin nodded thoughtfully. “Much like Peril Roma. He will be pleased.”

 

Ellen raised an eyebrow. “What?”

 

Romin shook his head as if to clear it. “What? Oh! Nothing. It’s nothing. Nevermind. Please get your sisters?”

 

Ellen reluctantly went inside.

 

***

 

“There’s a what on the back table?” Mae asked again, laughing so hard Ellen could hardly understand her.

 

Ellen, holding a sleepy three-year-old Rose on her hip as she stood in the doorway to Mae’s room, was not amused. “I told you, an elf. His name is Romin Thornhaven, and he wants to talk to all of us. That includes you.”

 

Mae snorted, wiping her tearing eyes with a nearby bandanna. “Seriously? You expect me to believe that?”

 

Ellen shrugged. “Come outside and see for yourself.”

 

Mae eyed her sister, understanding slowly dawning on her face. “You’re not just playing for the siblings, are you? You really believe this!”

 

Ellen didn’t answer.

 

With a shrug, Mae put her book down and jumped off her bed. “You do realize that if there’s no elf…”

 

“I know, I know. I’m your slave forever,” Ellen retorted, leading the way downstairs. “But what if there is an elf?”

 

“Then I guess I’m your slave,” Mae laughed.

 

When Ellen didn’t reply, Mae stopped laughing.

 

***

 

“It’s… it’s… it’s…” Mae stammered, pointing at Romin as she joined her siblings on the deck. “I… but… it’s…”

 

“An elf!” Kat cried, clapping. “Isn’t he cute?”

 

Romin bowed again. “Sorceress, I am at your service. However, it is not polite to point.”

 

“Whadda who? Oh yeah. S… sorry. Elf. Sorry elf. Dude, it’s an elf!” Mae stammered, squeezing in between Kat and Quinn at the table. She leaned down close to the little man, eyeing him suspiciously. “What are… who are… what the heck is going ON?”

 

“We were just getting to that,” Ellen said, having returned to her own seat with Rose on her lap. She looked at Romin pointedly. “Right?”

 

Rose leaned close to Romin, smiling softly at him. “Hi Mansy!” she said, waving a dimpled three-year-old hand.

 

“Hello, Enchantress,” Romin answered in such a formal way that the others glanced at their baby sister uncomfortably.

 

“What’s all this about Mistresses and Enchantresses?” Ellen asked.

 

“And Sorceresses… es?” Mae added.

 

The elf shook his head sadly. “I can’t tell you that, humankin. But I can say that I come to you now because you are sorely needed.”

 

“Who needs us?” Ellen asked, her voice quiet with awe.

 

Romin’s fair face darkened. “All of humanity, Mistress. The entirety of mankind.”

 

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