He Said, She Said
First of all, a big thanks to Misty for having me on The Top Shelf today and I wish her a very happy birthday! I hope you’ll all enjoy my post!
Since it’s Monday, and everyone’s in a slump, I thought I’d bring two very special guests along with me today. Please welcome Galadin and Caliphany Trudeaux, stars of A Ranger’s Tale, my debut fantasy romance novel.
We’re standing on the porch here at their home in Wildewood Forest, just a mile from the city of Leogard. I’ll just knock and see who answers. Um, guys? You there?
Caliphany: Would you hold still? Your hair looks crazy.
Galadin: *laughs* What else is new? *opens the door* Hey, look, they’re here!
Caliphany: Oh, hello! I’m so glad you could join us today. I hope you don’t mind the mess here in our little cottage. We’re still settling in. Would you like something to eat? I baked some shortbread cookies.
Galadin: Who baked shortbread?
Caliphany: Well, I did roll the dough.
Galadin: You started to roll the dough. Then you got it stuck on the roller, and you got angry and gave up.
Caliphany: Fine. You baked shortbread. *holds up a plate* Want some?
Sure. It’s quite good. While The Top Shelf readers enjoy the cookies, let’s share a little about your lives. We’ll go backwards a bit. You had quite the adventure and your share of tragedy in A Ranger’s Tale. What’s life like for you now?
Galadin: Perfect. I have the love of my life at my side, and our sweet little girl is…honey, where’s Mollie?
Caliphany: I thought you were watching her?
Galadin: No, you were watching her while I was cleaning the kitchen—remember?
Caliphany: Excuse me. *exits the room in a hurry*
Galadin: *shakes his head* Anyway, like I was saying, life’s great now with my wife and daughter back with me where they should be. For a while, I wondered if I’d ever have them in my life again. Oh, there’s our sweet pea.
Caliphany: *bounces a baby on her knee* Mollie’s crawling all over the place now, trying to walk, getting into everything.
Galadin: I told you we could have Olyssia stay full time.
Caliphany: I can manage my daughter on my own without my old nanny’s help, thank you very much.
Galadin: I know you can, my love. I just want to provide for you. Sometimes I worry that this little place is not enough.
Caliphany: You and Mollie are all I need. See, as the king’s niece, I lived pretty much in the lap of luxury. I lived in a fine manor in North Leogard, wore the finest silks, attended every social gathering at the palace, and had a position waiting for me at the prestigious Mage Academy. I had it all, but I had nothing.
What do you mean by that? Could you elaborate?
Caliphany: It was a gilded cage. My father never let me far from the city. I was betrothed to a mage I didn’t even like. My entire life was planned out for me, and I felt like a prisoner.
Galadin: It took me a while to understand why she felt that way. My life was quite different.
Really? How so?
Galadin: My parents weren’t poor, but they were merchants and had to work hard for everything they had. They loved me though, and my time with them was like a fairy tale, sailing from coast to coast. Then, pirates attacked us, killed my parents, and took me with them. I was forced into doing things I’ll always regret. I never knew when I’d be beaten, where my next meal was coming from.
Caliphany: At least you learned how to cook. Otherwise, we’d all be starving.
Galadin: *laughs* No truer words have been spoken, my love.
It sounds like you both had a difficult road. How do you think you were able to survive the tests you faced?
Caliphany: That’s easy. From the moment we met, our lives became intertwined and…
Galadin: I think we saved each other. *kisses Caliphany*
Um, I think that’s our cue to leave. Thanks for the cookies!
I hope you all enjoyed a brief glimpse into the lives of Caliphany and Galadin. To read more about this intrepid duo, pick up a copy of A Ranger’s Tale, and let the adventure begin!
Mysti Parker is a full-time wife, mom of three, and a writer. Born and raised in Kentucky, writing has always been her first love. After many years of pursuing other things, she began her writing career in earnest in 2009. Look for more romantic tales from her fantasy world of Tallenmere, where magic, passion, murder, and mayhem are a part of everyday life.
Author page at Melange Books (includes photo, bio, and interview):
Excerpt (Entire Prologue):
North Leogard, the Aranea Estate, 15 Xaviel, LV 259 (The 259th year of King Leopold Vaeloria’s reign)
Fresh hay tickles Caliphany’s nose, and she stifles a sneeze. Hide-and-seek is her favorite game, except Aelendyl is allergic to hay, and she knows it. Below the loft, he runs and calls for her. He starts to climb the ladder and breaks into a sneezing fit. Caliphany giggles and picks a ladybug off her pointed ear. She watches it crawl along her finger and catches her breath when it opens its wings and flies away.
“Come on, Caliphany, I know you’re up there!”
A spark of fire springs to life in Caliphany’s hand. She knows she shouldn’t, but Aelendyl’s been making her play Mage Academy for three hours. If he wants to see magic, she’ll show him magic. She crawls to the edge of the loft and peeks over. Aelendyl’s headed for the stable door. She flicks the flame down toward him, and it lands at his feet with a loud pop.
He screams, “I’m telling!” Then, he runs from the stable.
“No. Please!” Caliphany hurries down the ladder, but trips on the hem of her dress. She lands with a thud on the dirt floor. A spark flies from her hand when she lands, straight into the dry hay at the rear of the stable.
The fire spreads like a plague, and smoke fills the stable. Coughing, she hurries to the stalls, opens them, and shoos their three horses out. By the time she escapes, flames have engulfed the structure, and the heat has scorched her skin like a too-hot bath. Her mother, father, and Aelendyl come running from the manor.
Father’s voice booms, “Caliphany! What have you done?”
Mother rushes to her side. “Oh, my darling, are you hurt?”
“We were playing hide-and-seek. I just…I’m sorry!”
She looks at the little high-elf boy. He trembles and rubs his nose on his sleeve. Her parents keep talking of their future marriage. She’d sooner marry a goat, but she never wanted to hurt him.
Father grabs her by the shoulder. “You could have killed Aelendyl, or our horses, or yourself. Stand back!”
The great wizard lifts his hands, chants a familiar spell, and the wind whips above the stable, spinning the fire into a cyclone. A dark gray cloud materializes, heavy laden with rain. One more chant, and the cloud releases its torrent over the inferno. A few minutes later, the burned-out shell of the stable smolders in front of them.
Aelendyl nods and bows to them. “I should go home now.”
When he leaves, father bends toward Caliphany. “Your behavior was inexcusable.” He yanks Caliphany up, tucks her under his arm, and heads for the manor. She screams and kicks.
Mother runs behind them. “Sirius, what are you doing?”
“We’ve coddled her too long, Ellawen. It’s time she learns her place before we lose another child.”
Inside the manor, he puts Caliphany down, grasps her arm, and drags her downstairs. He opens a storage room door. She wails and pulls against him, nearly knocking them both down. With one last burst of strength and a blast of wind from his wizard hands, Father hurls her into the small room, and shuts the door.
The wooden bar slams down, the sound of it sealing her fate. She runs to the door, pounds on it, tiptoes to peek out the window.
Father turns Mother around leads her up the stairs. “Stop crying. I won’t leave her in there forever.”
Caliphany turns, rubs her arms, slides down the door. Lamplight from the hallway makes flickering shadows in the room. Behind the crates, jars, bags, and stored furniture, she imagines ghosts lurking, hairy spiders, and unimaginable things with mouths watering at the thought of feasting on her flesh. She buries her face in her hands and cries, wishing she had never been born.
* * * *
The Southern Sea, 23 Kersh, LV 312
Sunset transforms the plain gray vessel into an amber dream ship. Innessa lies to the north, Tyronia to the south, and the Trudeaux family sails southeast toward Tilliya Island. Young Galadin can almost taste the stone-baked fish and evynfruit pie—Yura Juntay’s specialty. He’s not seen them for a year or more and can’t wait to arrive on the island to hear Keevo play his lute as they eat, and go spear-fishing with Kando.
He tugs at his mother’s skirt. “When will we get there?”
Mama smiles down at him and ruffles his hair. She is the most beautiful woman Galadin has ever seen—a high elf, with long golden hair, bright blue eyes, and freckles on her nose from her time on the sea with his father.
She laughs a sound he’s sure only angels can make. “Soon, my darling, by morning.”
“Where are Bob and Shyler?”
“They are taking a shore leave. I’m sure they will be with us next trip.”
Galadin frowns. He’s come to love young Bob and Shyler, barely more than boys themselves. The other crewmen brush him off, but when he grows bored, the two young men sometimes play checkers or pretend to be pirates with him.
Papa walks by and pinches his cheek. “Quit pestering your mother and get ready for bed. You’ll be fishing with Kando before you know it.”
Galadin chases after Papa, a human man with curly brown hair and a kind-hearted smile. He knows his mother will outlive his father by centuries, but even at his young age, he senses a love between them that defies the boundaries of time.
He reaches Papa and pummels his back in a mock attack. Papa feigns injury and falls to the deck. Galadin is quick to pounce, but is soon pinned down and tickled until he can hardly catch a breath.
Papa pauses just long enough to ask amidst his own laughter, “Do you yield?”
Galadin squeals, “Yes, Papa, I yield!”
“Come on then,” Papa says, offering his hand to help him up. “Off to bed.”
They stand, still smiling and breathless from their tickle match. Smiles are lost when the sun’s last rays are blacked out. A dark form has suddenly appeared on the sea right beside their ship. Mama screams.
It happens in a blur. Papa throws Galadin and his mother into the cabin, tells them not to come out no matter what. They crouch behind the bed, but the screams and shouts and flashes of fire grow so loud, Mama begins to cry. He cries too, and clings to her tightly. The door bursts open, she screams, and shoves him under the bed. He crawls on his belly just far enough to see.
Mama’s feet are planted firmly in front of him. She begs the pirates to take whatever they want and leave them alone.
Galadin hears a horrible laugh. It will haunt his dreams for the rest of his life. The man’s feet step forward and Mama stumbles. He pushes her down on the bed.
“Quit yer fightin’, and do what you women do best. Lie there and take it!”
She kicks him away, gets to her feet again. “Never! I’ll die first.”
“Have it your way.”
The next sound reminds Galadin of his father splitting logs back at their cottage in Wildewood. And then he sees Mama’s eyes once more, as her limp body and severed head drop to the floor in different directions. Her lips are moving as if she’s trying to comfort him with silent words. Her blue eyes lock on his and her blood runs under the bed until it coats his arms and chest.
He reaches out a helpless hand. “No!”
The pirates rip him from under the bed, drag him out, and throw him on their ship. He looks up to see his father’s ship in flames and Papa’s body tied high to the mast. The fire has reached his legs, and he’s screaming like nothing Galadin’s ever heard before. Bile rises in Galadin’s throat, and he hunches over to vomit. A loud crack at the back of his head knocks him flat to the pirate ship’s deck. The last thing he’s aware of is a rancid, metallic smell; a mixture of vomit and his mother’s blood.
Excerpt from Chapter 18:
Cali stood and flung her bow over her shoulder.
I waved my hands at her. “Cali, I think you should stay here in the camp.”
“I will do no such thing.”
“The goblins aren’t to be taken lightly. They can swarm on you in an instant.”
“Which is all the more reason I should go along to help.”
There was no arguing with her, not with that stubborn set of her chin and those flashing blue eyes. Damn, she was beautiful when she set her mind to do something.
“All right, then, let’s go, but we have to be careful.”
We climbed the narrow path up the cliff side to the ancient temple. Bastivar was a crumbling, pillared fortress carved into the mountainside in honor of the goddess Innessa. Worshippers had long since vanished, and as long as anyone could remember, the only current inhabitants were goblins.
“Hidari mi compli,” we chanted, and sneaked inside. Our eyes adjusted to the dim light in the entryway.
“I’ll draw some of them out,” I whispered. “Stay concealed, and when you see one coming, shoot it.”
Down one corridor, a group of three goblins came toward me. I aimed and shot one, then ran back when the other two charged. Cali’s first arrow barely missed my head, but she got one. I shot the last one as she readied another arrow.
“Nicely done,” I whispered. “Now, we—”
“Achoo!” Cali couldn’t stop her sneeze in time. She whispered, “I’m sorry.”
A great snarling ensued from within the main corridor. A horde of beady, yellow eyes came toward us.
She fled, and we ran down the cliff side as fast as we could without falling off. We reached the forest floor, and I looked back. Goblins streamed out of the ruins, so many that some fell off the cliff. There had never been this many before. It must have been a long while since anyone had cleared them out. We sped through the underbrush. Thorns scratched our skin and snagged our leathers, but they were gaining on us.
We reached the main path, and I grabbed Cali. “Give me my father’s sword.”
She unsheathed it and handed it to me. “Galadin, there’s too many. We’ll never fight them off.”
“Conceal yourself and run. Now!”
She clutched my sleeve. “I won’t leave you here!”
For the brief moment while the goblins closed in, I met her panic-stricken eyes. I’d never met a woman I would die for, until then. “Go!”
I pushed her on, and she turned to run. Goblins burst through the bush, and I readied my sword. Right and left, I swung, impaling and kicking them off the blade, chopping off spindly gray limbs, a head when I could aim just right. Piles of jerking bodies began to pile at my feet. The onslaught lessened, but before I could catch my breath, another wave of them burst forth.
One of them latched onto my arm, its jagged teeth sinking in through the leather. I cried out. Then, an arrow sank into its ugly body. Cali had come back, her next arrow nocked and ready. I shook the goblin off my arm. Still, they came, yet another wave.
She threw down her bow and ran to my side. “Galadin, get back!”
“What? No, I told you to run!”
She pulled me back, stepped in front of me, and held out her hands. Blue fire burst from her palms, like flaming blasts of lightning, but continuous, and dreadfully hot. I had to back away from the intensity of the heat. The inferno charred the goblins, turning them from gray, to black, to piles of ashes before my eyes. The fire consumed every bush and weed, everything in its path, until the goblins in the rear decided they were outmatched. Shrieking, they turned and hightailed it back up the cliff and into Bastivar.
Cali stared at her smoking hands. I ran to her, relieved to see that she wasn’t burned. But, she was weakened. I embraced her, letting her catch her breath, her head on my shoulder. I ran my fingers along her braid.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” I said.
She raised her head and peered into my eyes. “I didn’t either.”
Then, our lips met, and nothing else mattered.
Official blurb from back cover:
Set in the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf Caliphany Aranea longs to explore the world and escape from her controlling father. Her dreams are fulfilled when she meets ranger and ship captain Galadin Trudeaux. But, when secrets from the past bring tragedy to those she loves, Caliphany must fight to hold on to the life she’s always wanted.
Buy link for A Ranger’s Tale at Melange Books: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/mystiparker/parkerarangerstale.html
Buy link for A Ranger’s Tale at All Romance eBooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-aranger039stale-511665-143.html