Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘kingdom’

Marked by The Goddess

Intrigue In The Summer Court by Mistral Dawn.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51YeDoxp13LI never thought I’d find myself intrigued by an erotic fantasy that takes place in a land called Fairie ( which is populated by fairies, fae, humans, brownies, goblins, magic, spells, etc.), and whose royal couples (Princess Roni and Prince Uaine, The Huntsman and Cassie) enjoy intense, graphic BDSM lovemaking that will make your nerve-ends tingle (along with other parts of your body). Neither fantasy or BDSM is high on my “to read” list, but somehow Intrigue In The Summer Court pulled me in and kept me bound throughout.

There is a plethora of characters, and terminology, in the tale that took me a while to figure out and keep straight. Little did I know, until the final page, that there is a literal Who’s Who at the end of the book, with character descriptions, and a section on terminology, flora, and fauna in the land of Fairie. Nice to know it was there, but not knowing everything at the beginning didn’t take anything away from the story. Most of the actresses, actors, and nongendered beings are introduced in the first chapter.

Here is a sample. A Fae named Angelica is trying to convince Jillian (who serves Queen Briallen) that there is a plot to kill Roni and Uaine on their honeymoon (who have been ordained by The Goddess to rule the land). “The small Fae sat on the tabletop and crossed her legs over each other. Taking a deep breath, she said, ‘I’m old enough to remember Fairie before the Courts were formed. While I haven’t been happy with the way things have been in The Summer Kingdom for quite some time, ‘ she threw a less than friendly look at Briallen, ‘I’m not willing to allow things to go back to the way they were.’ She gestured at Roni’s left wrist where the goddess had marked her. ‘Besides, you seem to have the goddess’s approval, which she doesn’t bestow lightly. If something were to happen to you, there’s no guarantee that another as qualified would be found to fill your position.'”

Perceptions of good, bad, right, wrong, justice, intuition, and forgiveness are observed throughout, as well as truth-telling, protection, pain, and revenge. There is a sense of freedom, and fluidity with the love scenes, and an honoring of differences and similarities between sexual desire and expectations. Sex is presented as a mutually satisfying activity, with partners honoring, and respecting one another’s wishes. Oh yeah, there is also a pixie (Ciane), who has love and lust magic, which can cause intense uncontrollable orgasms with her touch. You’d think that would be wonderful, but she uses it to control and enslave others against their will.

Intrigue In The Summer Court has many familiar beings of historical magical kingdoms, but they do not always act as they do in those well-known tales from the past, yet they feel just as authentic, perhaps more so. Ms. Dawn has established herself as a talented writer who I see has a number of other adult stories (which come before and after this one), which include further flights of fancy, domination, love, and spells. If erotic fantasy isn’t your usual cup of tea, I’d invite you to take a sip. You might be tantalizingly surprised, and find yourself submitting to its magic.

Sensual Robin and Miriam

51l1u-uPg1LUnmasking the Knight by Terri Lyndie.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Come with me to the Kingdom of Mercia, in 911 AD England, and read about the love of Gisella and Ranulf. Sounds of Lorena McKennitt’s mystical music floated in the air, and visions of unicorns, magic, and misty meadows filled my vision, as I read Unmasking the Knight. Memories of the Robin Hood film Robin and Miriam, with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, flirted with my mind.

Gisella’s friends, Nesta and Drogo, warn her that Sevarin, the druid prophet, will soon insist on choosing a husband for her, if she does not do so herself. Gisella wants no one but her childhood friend, kindred spirit, and love, Ranulf, but he was lost years before when taken by the King’s army, or so she believes. Here is a brief scene of Ranulf desperately waiting for a rendezvous with Gisella.

“The air was cool, and a low mist had settled upon the moor. Crickets sang a continual melody in the inky beyond. Ranulf could make out the silhouette of the stone circle jutting up in the grassy field but there was no sign of Gisella. Fog bellowed, a figure seemed to appear, and then…”

This sensual first novella, by Terri Lyndie, is a surprising treat. It didn’t take long to read, but took me quickly to a lovely land of longing, and romance. The characters are lovely, there bond is strong, and the emotions and environment are weaved skillfully into the story. Unmasking the Knight isn’t the next War and Peace, but it never pretends to be.

The Mother Of Invention

A mother of an excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Little is known of Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba’s mother (including her name). There are reports that she was the seamstress to the Royal House of Padmasova in the Kingdom of Genoia, which was East of Africa and North by Northwest from the Indian Ocean. It is said that her mother lived a simple quiet life of service to the royal family, until a man called Shane came to town.

imagesNobody knew where Shane had come from or where he was going, but he quickly won the hearts of the royal family and was accepted into their good graces (and the queen’s adult daughter Chartres’s arms). Shane wasn’t bad, he was just made that way, or so they say. Before the people knew what had hit them, Shane had the king and queen ostracized and exiled to the Land of Ozberjian, along with Chartres (whom Shane had promised his true love too and impregnated within weeks of his arrival). Shane named himself King and demanded that a royal coat be made to adorn his beatific body.

Master Tova’s mother was devastated. She had loved the royal family and warned their daughter that this new vagabond was trouble, but they hadn’t listened. Now, she was being ordered to make a coat for the man who had dethroned her beloved employers. Working at night, with a single candle, the seamstress toiled for four weeks to finish the coat. When she had finished, she placed it carefully in a large gift box with a note for the guard’s assistant to deliver it to King Shane the next day. Master Tova’s mother packed everything she owned into a single case and left that very night, traveling through the darkness to a new land, where she met Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba’s father.

King Shane was delighted to receive his coat the following afternoon and immediately had his attendants’ help him put it on. It fit like a glove. He turned round and round, showing it off to all those who could see. It was made of colorful silk and had many pearls and rubies sewn into its hem. Everyone clapped, nodded, and admired the garment (including the king), until he sat down and felt something squishy burst in the bottom of his coat. He immediately stood, trying to turn and see what had happened. Though they tried, those in the court could not keep themselves from laughing. King Shane looked over at his chair and saw a large red stain. He took off his coat and saw that it was also drenched in a gooey red substance that was now dripping on his pants and shoes to the floor. When he went to change, he discovered that the stain had gone through his pants and underclothes and was also on his skin. He bathed repeatedly, but could not remove the red stain from his bottom.

Though the king sent out guards to look high and low for the seamstress who had sewed a concoction of permanent staining beet juice and herbs into the bottom of the coat, she was never found. It wasn’t long until word spread of the royal’s bottom and King Shane became known as King Beet Butt the Red.

More royal stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Thief of Hope – A Novel

Thief of Hope is a marvelous fantasy novel by Cindy Young-Turner (Crescent Moon Press).

Sydney, a street urchin and pickpocket in the town of Last Hope, has managed to evade the oppressive Guild for years, but there is no escaping fate when she’s sentenced to death for associating with the resistance.

After she’s rescued by a wizard, Sydney is forced to accept that magic, long outlawed throughout the Kingdom of Thanumor, still exists and the Tuatha, a powerful faery folk, are much more than ancient myth and legend. When the wizard offers a chance to fight the Guild and bring Willem, bastard prince and champion of the Tuatha, to the throne, Sydney embraces the cause as a way to find her own redemption.

Prologue

“So it has begun even here.” Oryn’s murmur was lost in the shouts of the crowd around him as the hangman tightened the rope around the condemned man’s neck. Pulling a tattered blue cloak about his shoulders, Oryn turned away and weaved through the throng gathered in the public square. The crowd grew silent. Although he didn’t look back, he pictured the man dropping and then jerking with a snap of his neck, the body now swaying back and forth. The crowd roared again.

“If only they knew what they’d started,” he said with a sigh and quickened his pace.

Oryn left the market square and cobblestoned streets that surrounded it, moving swiftly toward the other side of town. After he passed the well-kept, thatch-roofed homes of the town’s merchants and craftsmen, he came to narrow, muddy streets lined with tenements. Many of the people who lived in these hovels, often one family sharing a single room, were those who welcomed the Guild.

In the square, Oryn had listened to eager talk of the prosperity the Guild promised and a new beginning for the town of Last Hope. He saw the hope in their tired eyes, the same hope he had seen in other people’s eyes in other towns and cities. For the past two decades, he had watched the craft and merchant leagues unite throughout the kingdom, promising the same prosperity and independence they now offered the commoners of Last Hope. Most people in Last Hope did not yet understand that as the years had passed, the Guild had become a means of enforcing the oppression it had once so vehemently opposed. Common folk who needed to earn a living had no choice but to join the Guild and contribute a portion of their wages to support it. Those who spoke out against its policies, nobles and commoners alike, risked their lives.

Oryn had once thought this isolated and impoverished hellhole of a town was beneath the Guild’s interest. When the hangings began, he knew he had been mistaken.

The narrow streets led him to a block that housed several small shops and a tavern. The sign above the tavern door bore the faded image of an eagle. It’s been a long time, Oryn thought. Too long, perhaps. He opened the door and entered the dimly lit room that smelled of strong ale and stale sweat. Despite the din of voices and laughter, the stench of poverty and desperation clung to the crowd. Oryn wished he could warn the people of Last Hope of the Guild’s false promises. But he hadn’t come here to stop the Guild; he’d come on behalf of a single child.

He caught sight of a young girl sitting at the bar. At once he knew she was the child he sought. Not more than five years old, Sydney was perched on a barstool, talking earnestly with one of the serving women and jabbing her finger at something she pulled from her pocket. Her face was smudged with dirt, her hair unruly, and her skinned knees and elbows pushed through holes in her clothes. While others saw only a barefoot waif, Oryn glimpsed the threads of fate entwining this child.

He could see the interweaving strands of possibility, but the tapestry they formed constantly shifted. The slightest alteration could unravel all that was to follow. Why this child was so important to the future of not only the kingdom, but also the existence of magic, was unclear. A wizard who tried to arrange the future by altering the present could never be certain of the outcome. That was why Oryn needed to come here, in spite of the edicts against the practice of magic and wizards themselves. He had to make sure she was given the chance to fulfill her potential.

READ MORE OF THIEF OF HOPE

What’s Up Elizabeth?

The Butterfly’s Kingdom by Gwendolyn Geer Field
Excerpt from inspirational novel.

What’s Up Elizabeth?

THE HOUSE WAS SILENT, an abandoned stage set. The occupants and all traces of the lives they lived seemed to have completely vanished. There were no pushed back chairs, no scattered partially-read newspapers, no misplaced drinking glasses, sticky with finger prints. There was only pristine emptiness draped with long flat squares of moonlight. As I passed Annie’s door, I paused and wondered if I should knock. I stood quietly, listening for a sound, but there was none — no breathing, no creaking floorboards, no whispering voice inviting me in. So I tiptoed down the hallway to my room.

As I opened the door, a sleepy voice whispered, “Elizabeth, is that you?”

I fumbled for the bedside lamp as Betsy wrestled with the sheets and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “What time is it?” she yawned.

I glanced at the clock. “It’s after midnight, sweetie,” I sank down on the bed beside her. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” Her eyes blinked in the sudden brightness.

“I can see that,” I reached over and rubbed her shoulders as she sat shivering in a thin cotton nightgown. “But why are you waiting for me?”

“Because I was worried about you, I didn’t know where you’d gone.”

“I’m sorry, Bets. I did phone your mom and let her know I was okay.”

“I know,” the large brown eyes were smudged with sadness. “But mom seemed really mad, and she wouldn’t tell me what was going on, except that you were with Jackson, and that she guessed you’d come home sometime.”

I kicked off my shoes and stretched out beside her. “Yeah, she was pretty irritated with me.” I turned to look at her. “Do you have any idea why she doesn’t like him?”

Betsy wriggled backward and leaned against the headboard. “It’s just another one of those secrets we live with around here. I know something major happened a long time ago, but no one ever talked about it, not to me at least. I knew dad had a really close friend and they had some kind of fight, but I never even heard his name. When we had Jackson over the other night, I kind of put two and two together and figured he was the guy.” She stared wistfully at me. “What do you think it was?”

“Lordie, I have no idea. You’re right, something big happened, but we’ll just make ourselves crazy if we try to imagine what it was.”

She looked chagrined, and I was afraid that my choice of words had upset her. “Sorry about the word ‘crazy’. I just meant that it’s never a very good idea to try to figure out what other people are thinking. I’m always wrong, and then I just start making a bunch of bad decisions based on a faulty premise.”

“You don’t have to baby me like that and cut the word ‘crazy’ out of your vocabulary. Who knows,” she shrugged, “maybe that is what made everybody nuts around here — the secrets, the doing everybody’s thinking for them.”

I ruffled her hair and tugged her close to me. “You’re a pretty smart cookie, Bets. Lets us promise to never do either of those things to each other — have secrets or try mind reading, okay?”

She sat quietly for a moment and then laid her head on my shoulder. “So if we’re not going to have secrets, tell me what you and Jackson were doing tonight. I thought you were going out for a walk by yourself.”

“Well, I did. That was the problem. Apparently, I didn’t know where I was going, and I didn’t even notice it was getting dark until I suddenly found myself down by the creek in a thicket of trees and I couldn’t see lights anywhere. I got kind of panicky, but I made myself calm down enough to think clearly, and I remembered that I couldn’t be too far away from where we were the other night. So I turned around and groped my way back to the restaurant.”

“You were scared?” she interrupted, tilting her face to look up at me.

“Yeah, pretty scared. The dark does that to me.”

“So how did you calm yourself down?”

“I said a prayer.”

“You just said a prayer and you felt better?” She sounded incredulous.

“Yes. Actually the prayer kind of said itself. It floated into my mind out of nowhere, and I grabbed hold of it and held on. I just kept saying it over and over, and it made me feel better.”

“What was it?” She stared at me suspiciously.

“‘I am safe, I am sound, all good things come to me as God’s beloved child.’”

“That’s it? That’s the prayer? You didn’t ask God to show you the way home or come rescue you or anything?”

“No, I think all that’s in the prayer already.” I saw the skepticism in her eyes. “Don’t you ever pray about things? What kinds of prayers do you say?”

“I never pray. Nobody in my family does. My dad said God was for fools — something they thought they needed, so they just made Him up.”

“Yeah, well I think I felt that way for a long time myself.”

“What changed?” She asked.

“What changed is that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand being the only power I relied on, being my own God. I got to a place where I wasn’t enough.”

“And so you just made a God up because you needed one? Just like that?” she snapped her fingers.

I smiled and kissed the top of her head. “I like you so much, Bets. You’re my kind of gal. You ask all sorts of questions, and you don’t settle for half answers. When I was your age, I used to drive everybody crazy,” I flinched instinctively. It was as though the word ‘crazy’ had become radioactive. “They used to say I was way too intense because I kept asking and asking until I got an answer I could understand. It didn’t always work and not everybody liked it, but I do. So keep it up. I think it’s healthy.”

She grinned. “Okay, explain it then. How did you go from wanting a God to getting one? Why isn’t that the ‘wish fulfillment’ my dad always talked about?” She grinned impishly. “Aren’t you impressed that I know that term? I think I even know that it was something Freud said.”

“I am impressed, although I must confess to you, in the spirit of our new found honesty, that I don’t think all that much of Freud. How’s that for heresy, saying that to the daughter of a psychiatrist?” I grinned back at her. “But getting back to your question, just because you want something, need something, and then you get it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I mean on a very basic level, you want food, you need to eat, but that doesn’t make the food you get somehow unhealthy or unreal. In fact, some philosophers say that God placed the desire to know Him in us, so our wanting Him is a sign that He exists.”

“That’s interesting. But maybe I don’t like philosophers anymore than you like psychiatrists,” she jousted playfully. “What I want to know is what happened to you. I believe you, I don’t necessarily believe some old philosopher guys I’ve never met.”

“Fair enough. What happened to me, is happening to me, hasn’t been a sudden kind of thing. I spent almost an entire lifetime trying to fix myself — trying to learn enough, do enough, understand enough. Trying to be enough. I always felt I was missing some vital part of me, but I guess I thought I could make up for it if I worked really hard. So I got good grades in school, and I went on to a good university and I got a good job and built an important career. I kept thinking that the next thing I did would make me feel safe and make me happy, give my life meaning.”

“Meaning?” She looked confused.

“You know … a reason for being here on the planet, my special purpose, that kind of thing.”

She nodded.

“Well, a few years ago, I had everything I ever thought would fix me. I had an exciting job, lots of money, important friends. Everything I’d been aiming for was in place, and I still felt lost and frightened. The worst part was that I couldn’t think of one more thing to do about it.”

“What about getting married and having a family?” Betsy asked eagerly.

“That’s a whole different story. Maybe we’ll get to that another time. The point is I just ran out of things to try. It’s easier when you have some big dream and you can pretend that if you get it, then you’ll be happy, but all my dreams had come true. And when that still wasn’t the answer, I was …”

“Sad?” She suggested.

“Sad’s a good word. Yes, I was very sad. One day about a year ago, I took a walk on the Lower East Side. I was restless and I needed to get away from the office. I don’t know why I ended up where I did, but I found myself outside this old stone church. It was almost like I’d stumbled into a time warp. I found out later it was built in the 1600’s, so it really was like something from another world. Anyway, I wandered around it until I came to these massive wooden doors. When I saw that they were open, I went in and,” I paused. “Well, it was amazing. It just kind of took my breath away. There was this huge white wall up at the front, and in the middle of it, way up high, a window — a little portal actually — flooded gold light across the wall. It looked like a painting, like a gorgeous abstract portrait of light. I don’t know what it was, something about that wall just reached out to me and invited me in. So I sat down in one of the old wooden pews. I stayed there for a very long time, all by myself, and while I was sitting there that prayer, the one I just told you, floated through my head. I don’t know where I’d heard it before, or even if I had heard it before. But it penetrated me. It pierced through my despair. And I felt the presence of something other than myself that was loving me and taking care of me right in that very moment.”

I looked over at Betsy. Her intensity had given way to a kind of focused stillness. She sat motionless, as though she were transfixed. “So, did you know it was God?” she whispered softly.

“I think I did. I think I really did.”

She leaned forward, her young face both serious and sweet. “I believe you, Elizabeth. Thank you for telling me.”

I hugged her in a tight, fierce grip. “Thank you, Betsy, for letting me tell you. I’ve never told anyone else about it, ever.”

She looked so sleepy. I felt a pang of guilt at keeping her up so late. “Bets, it’s nearly two-thirty in the morning. Your mom’s going to kill both of us if she finds out what we’ve been up to.”

She slid under the covers and curled into me like a kitten. “Can I stay here with you?” She was nearly asleep before she finished her sentence.

“Of course.”

“And, Elizabeth, what was the name of that church you went into?”

“The Church of the Good Shepherd, why?”

Her voice was thick with sleep, “I just wanted to know.”

I stood up and smoothed the sheet over her shoulders.

MORE ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY’S KINGDOM

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