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Greetings from Robin Joy Wirth


Hey,

I'm attempting to cook up something special for you for Valentine's Day, but right now it's not quite ready. However, I did put Bruin into a giveaway, and Dragon's Eye into a sale. It's 99 cents from the 2nd through the 8th. For those who are wondering, yes, I am still trying to get book two in that series written but much like everything else thanks to all the continued chaos my own work is moving slow.

This new place I moved to isn't exactly paradise. The hot water barely works; there's no dishwasher so I have to do everything by hand with the cold water, and the neighbor who got evicted apparently caused more than one kind of an infestation around here. I bought live mouse traps to catch some of our new friends and release them at the park, and over the month I removed 23 mice from here and still have more to go! So yeah, the saga continues.

Anyway, as I said I'll be attempting to finish up a special deal for Valentine's during this week. I had a story, Acolyte, which had been partially complete but just sitting there for a long time. After reading that some people like novella trilogies I'm converting it into one of those and have about 16000 words to go (the third book). So, I've got a challenge with myself to do that this week and get them up for you--the main trouble is, if I don't do it soon enough they might not be eligible for a kindle countdown until after the holiday itself. So, what is your opinion, should I put up the first two parts now with "dummy" covers so people can grab them, or finish the third and post the thing as a "boxed set" or both? If I put up two individuals now they will not be discounted, but then later I would offer up book three or the ability to get the trilogy as a set, a bit later (whatever day it is complete). What do you guys think? Here is the beginning of the story so you can get an idea what is happening in this great fantasy series...(I still need to do a “final edit” so don’t worry if you spot mistakes!)




ACOLYTE: The Journey Begins

ONE

Rigor du Main, the Earl of Morley, was in a fine lather as he trotted about the posh parlor of his palatial home in Cordan, an outer province of the Dominion, like a horse gone mad. His antics, of course, were Lady Eleanor’s primary cause for concern as she sat nervously upon the fine silk settee, trying to pretend she had not noticed.

Her twin brother, William, raised one brow at her when the man had turned away from them another time during all his pacing. So far, they had heard little to explain the cause of his dismay. Just a few mutterings about how had had been to see the financier earlier in the day.

Taking the hint, Eleanor cleared her throat and attempted to draw the Earl out of his melancholy mood. "What news, father?"

"What news?" he growled as he surged forward to clutch her chin in a brutal grasp. "What news? I'll tell you what news, child. We are ruined. We're going to lose the estate, our lands—everything!"

"What?" she gasped. "But how can that be? I thought you said we had money to spare."

"That's quite simple, sister," William interjected with a disdainful scowl. "Father seems to believe that money comes in an endless supply, and he spends it accordingly. We could have easily done without half of the fripperies he's lined along the walls of this palace he so lovingly calls home."

"That will be enough of your sass, William," said their father as he released Eleanor's chin and turned to face him. "The situation is dire, but all is not lost. I have always got as least one more ace up my sleeve."

"What are you scheming now, you wily old codger?" William asked, earning a glare for his temerity. "I daresay you have no means to fund yet another night of gambling and debauchery."

"I have heard news that the wizard known as Bargoth is looking for a new acolyte. I intend to provide one for him. It will be a good profession for you, son. You won't have to go hungry. And Eleanor is marriageable, so of course I'll be finding her a husband. Perhaps without the extra mouths to feed I may still be able to maintain the illusion that I am the nobleman these people believe me to be."

"Leaving Peridian soil to sail to a Dominion province was your choice, father, not mine," William reminded him. "Why should I be sold into servitude just so you can continue to maintain your pretty, pretty shoes?"

"Don't you want a means to make a living, William?" he asked him then. "Are you not appalled by the idea of becoming an unskilled laborer in some sweaty, dirty place or other? How would you maintain contact with your precious sister then?"

"Leave Eleanor out of this," William growled. "She's a good girl, and she'll be deserving of a good husband. Not any of the Dominion scum you have in mind."

"She's going to need to be well connected," said their father with a stubborn tilt to his chin. "And after all, she is such a fair flower—that beauty would be wasted on anyone less than a nobleman."

"And what nobleman here will treat her like a lady? If the others are at all like the men of Cordan, she cannot possibly be happy with one of them," William persisted.

"Perhaps any man who has the ear of the king would do," he speculated.

"This conversation wearies me," William said with a bored tone that Eleanor was certain he did not mean. "I believe I will retire to my chambers."

"Yes, of course," said his father. "We shall continue this discussion at dinner."

"I believe I could use a rest, also," Eleanor said as she got to her feet. "See you at dinner."

Eleanor wasted no time falling in step with her twin as he headed for the stairs. He set a hand upon her shoulder in greeting as they continued on the way.

"Brother, what are you doing?" asked Eleanor half an hour later as she stood in the hallway between their two rooms and her twin emerged from his room just as expected.

"I'll not be a pawn to father's whims any longer," he insisted as he hiked his sack full of belongings even higher on his shoulder. "He's not going to sell me into service to the King's right-hand man."

"But think, brother," Eleanor insisted. "If you were to obtain the skills of a wizard, you might even be able to help our cause. Surely father must know this as well."

"It doesn't matter anymore, Eleanor," William insisted. "All my life, I've listened to him tell me stories of the rebellion against Dominion, of how we are in a key position to be of help to them. But I have never once done anything that was helpful in that regard. I'm off to join the rebel army."

"Are you insane, William?" she gasped. "You're going to get yourself killed."

"Better to die for a noble cause, knowing that I am free, than to be bought by one of the very men I wish to fight."

"How do you know you would not like Lord Bargoth?" Eleanor asked reasonably.

"The man is completely in King Calador's pocket," William scoffed. "He is the last person in the world I wish to learn from."

"I fear I shall never see you again, William," Eleanor whispered. "Please tell me that you will change your mind."

"I cannot," William insisted. "Best if you tell the maid you've taken ill and won't join father for dinner. I would not wish for him to take his wrath out on you when he discovers I am gone."

"Then take me with you," Eleanor suggested.

"Ah, little one, you do not want to do what the women in an army must in order to be part of it," William chided softly.

Eleanor's cheeks suffused with heat. "It might be more fun than staying here and getting married off to some stodgy old Lord," she teased.

"Imp," he chuckled as he gave her nose a playful tap. "I'll write to you just as soon as I can."

"I will miss you, brother."

"Don't worry, Eleanor, you will always be the other half of me," he said with a smile. "Remember that."

"Good-bye, William," she said, kissing his cheek. She did not remain to watch him depart.

*****

Eleanor knew as soon as she heard the summons from her father later that evening exactly what the man wanted. He was certainly going to blame her for her brother’s behavior yet again.

For half a heartbeat she considered the notion of sending word that she could not come. She could say that she had become indisposed, just as William had suggested.

But visions of the vengeful man darkening the door to her bedchamber had her on her feet and down the stairs within only a few moments. She entered the dining hall with as much decorum as she could and approached his side of the table with a questioning air.

"My lord and father?" she inquired sweetly as she looked up at him, all innocent of wrongdoing. He saw right through her, of course.

"Where is your beloved brother, wench?" he demanded hotly.

"My brother?" she asked with feigned surprise. "I thought he was in his bed, just as I was in mine. I am sorry, father, but did they not tell you that I took ill? I've no notion of anything but the chamber pot for the last few hours. Perhaps it had something to do with the tea."

"Your brother has gone missing, as I'm certain you know," he accused. "You will tell me where he's gone, or you won't like the consequences."

"Like what?" she challenged irritably, not liking his tone.

"Well, as I intended to sell a child into service with Lord Bargoth, and as I have only one child to sell, I suppose you know what that means."

"What? You mean you're going to give me to some wizard as his doxy?" she gasped.

"I would never sell my one and only daughter out as a harlot," he scoffed. "No, my dear, you mistake me greatly. I intend for you to be his acolyte."

"A female acolyte in service to a male teacher?" she gasped in dismay. "You wouldn't dare, father. It would be almost the same as if you did sell me for a harlot if you did."

Lord du Main laughed coldly. "Oh no, my dear, you are hardly right," he told her. "A harlot must service more than one man, whereas an indentured slave would be meant only to serve her master."

"And yet I am defiled either way," she reminded him.

"That is of no great consequence, my dear. You are only a woman, after all. And besides, I do not think Bargoth is looking for a bed warmer— I had heard he has already got more of them than he could ever possibly want."

"How crude," Eleanor chastised him. "I think I shall be well rid of you when you send me away. I can no longer abide your attitude."

"Then I take it that you have no intention of telling me what I want to know?" he smirked. "I thought as much. So much like your dear, departed mother. She was always more trouble than she was worth as well."

"My mother is the kindest, loveliest person who ever lived," Eleanor protested. "I only wish it was she who lived to raise me, so I would not be forced to live in fear of what dreadful thing you will do next. Sometimes I fear you have become worse than the King."

"A sentiment I advise you to keep to yourself when you’ve met your new Master," he answered cruelly. "Remember, my dear, that Lord Bargoth is the King's right-hand man."

"How could I forget it?" said Eleanor miserably. And yet she was not willing to betray the trust of her brother. It seemed only right that she must now take his place.


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