Archive for the ‘Advent Calendar 2016’ Category

For our fourth and final day of our Raven Siren extracts is the most recent of the full length stories in the Nicolette Mace universe, the Lily & Rose Saga.

Lily & Rose: an extract

Fred Barlow sighed as he hung his hat and coat behind his door and stared about the immaculate living room. He didn’t spend enough time here. He glanced at his watch, 1.30am; his days at work were getting longer.

He strode across the living room to his bedroom. It too was spotless. He sighed again as he sat upon the corner of his bed.

The bathroom door opened and a silhouetted figure stood leaning against the door frame. The silhouette had legs like a racehorse and the chemise she wore showed them off nicely.

“You’re late.” She said gliding across to him. She straddled his legs and kissed him as Fred grabbed her by the waist.

“Paperwork.” He said throwing her onto her back on the bed. “I hate it; it’s not about catching criminals any more, God it’s changed and not for the better.” He said as she rested her hands upon his shoulders.

“I wish Siren was still around. She at least kept bringing in criminals and was marginally entertaining whilst she did.” He shook his head.

“But she died a long time ago now.” She said as she kissed Fred again.

“Nic, don’t be ridiculous.” Fred smiled slightly, gazing down at his wife. She hadn’t changed in appearance in four years, only her dress sense had.

“If she hadn’t died we wouldn’t be together. I gave it all up for you and I don’t plan on going back…” She said stroking his face.

“God, I wish you would, if only to show the new mayor that at least someone still wants to get criminals off the streets.” There was defeat in his voice. He was tired now, almost too tired to fight against the corruption and restriction he faced every day.

Nicolette rolled Fred onto his side and nuzzled his neck.

“Nic please don’t do that whilst I’m ranting…” He groaned at her, there was still lots that he wanted to get off his chest without really knowing how to.

She nuzzled him more.

“What are you, some kind of cat?” He demanded trying to sound annoyed.

“Miaow.” She and Fred both laughed.

“I don’t know how you do it, but you always make me feel so much better.” He sighed as he looked at her. She was much happier now that she wasn’t a private investigator, much happier now that the two of them were together. Her abrasive and defensive nature had been replaced with joy and a gentle nature he had only hoped lay beneath it all.

“What else is a wife for?” She asked kissing him again. Fred rolled her back on to her back and whispered in her ear.

“To be my equal, to share everything with me, to show the world that I love you above all others and keep you happy. You aren’t just here to cheer me up.” He said lovingly running his fingers through her hair.

She smiled broadly and kissed his forehead.

“Now if you don’t mind, I would like to forget about work.”

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

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Once again we are back today with the Raven Siren in her continuing adventures, this time we’re taking an extract out of book 3 in the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series – the Kevin Metis Saga.

Derek Long Saga: an extract

For the first time in as long as I could remember, I was in the hospital but I wasn’t a patient. Granted I had been up until about half an hour ago but I had been discharged, for the first time, and I was still there.

“His condition is stable but he is showing no response to any outside stimuli. The machines are the only things keeping him alive right now.”

“That is just so comforting.” I sneered at the man who had spoken; the brown eyed and brown haired protégé of the comatose Fred Barlow, known to most people as Rick Clegg. I however was not yet ready to address him by any form of name. I had only met him once before today and that was after Fred had just been shot by Derek Long.

“So your reputation is well earned then.” Rick replied leaning against the door frame of Fred’s room.

“And which reputation is that then?” I snapped back as I sat watching the heart monitor.

“For being a bitch.” Rick said shrugging.

I chose to ignore him and reached out to take Fred’s hand.

“So you and he were close?”

Rick seemed to have a really annoying problem of not knowing when conversation wasn’t welcome.

“Is that any of your business?”

“Probably not, so do you mind telling me what happened to result in all the blood, guts and bullets?”

“Maybe I do mind. Maybe I don’t talk to strangers because I’m not a snitch.”

“They prefer the term verbally challenged.”

“Shut the hell up you annoying excuse for human life. There is nothing you can say or do that is going to make me tell you what went on in that house and if you decide to speak to me again, don’t bother, because if you do I’ll just shoot you.”

I was in the foulest mood I’d ever been in. It didn’t take much at the moment to make me want to rip the head off someone for asking me ridiculous questions.

“You may already know this, but threatening a police officer is a punishable offence.”

I drew my revolver and aimed it at Rick’s head.

“You wouldn’t shoot me in a hospital.”

“You really don’t know me very well, do you? Whatever you have heard about me hasn’t been exaggerated. If anything some of the stories have been downplayed for the sake of believability. So step away from the door and let me get on with what I have to do.”

“And what exactly is that?” Rick asked moving to block the doorway.

“Well if you don’t move, then firstly killing you and then finding the man who has so much to pay for.” I stood and walked towards Rick, the gun still aimed at his head.

“And here was me thinking you might want some help.” Rick said raising his eyebrow and slowly smiling.

”I don’t need any help.” I wasn’t exactly in the mood to try and be civil. The only time I ever tried to be civil is when Fred made me.

“If you need it, and I’m not saying you do, then you’ll know where to come to get it. I’ll be watching over Fred whilst you are…erm…busy.” Rick said as he walked past me, ignoring my gun and sat down beside Fred.

“Let’s just make one thing perfectly clear. There aren’t many people I trust and probably the only person I do trust is lying next to you unconscious. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m going to come around to you pretending to be a charming nice guy, because I won’t. I’m not like the women you’ve met before; you have to earn my trust.” I holstered my gun.

“And how do I do that?”

“You don’t ask me stupid questions or try and manipulate me.”

“Well.” Rick leant back in his chair and rested his heels on the edge of the bed. “At least you didn’t shoot me.” He pulled out a packet of cigarettes, took one and lit it. He held it out to me.

“You aren’t supposed to smoke in hospitals.” I replied coldly.

“From what I’ve heard that’s never stopped you before.” Rick shrugged.

“The rules apply to you though. They never seem to have had the nasty habit of applying to me.”

Fred being in the hospital was a slight handicap to what I had to do now. Having him watching my back whether I’d wanted him to or not had always made my life easier; though I would never admit it to his face.

I never had to worry about what was sneaking up behind me because Fred was watching out for me. So I had one extra thing to think about, I couldn’t just tear around town trying to kill Long whilst someone else mopped up behind me and made sure I didn’t get a bullet in my shoulder or worse.

I didn’t like doing things in a low key manner either. It takes longer to do and requires people staying alive long enough to tell you what you need to know without them screaming. I actually don’t mind hearing people scream, it actually has become quite common place in recent years; screaming seems to be an unfortunate side effect of shooting someone during interrogation. What I don’t like is sneaking around, sneaking around makes you no better than – than an assassin.

Assassins are not my favourite people in the world. In fact you could probably go as far to say that of all the people in the world I have ever hated, assassins would come top of that list every time.

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

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We’re staying with Nicolette Mace today for more from her adventures, but this time from the Kevin Metis Saga, book 2 in the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series.

Kevin Metis Saga: an extract

It was a dark, dismal afternoon, like they all seem to be these days, when I got this call. I could hear the rain battering the windowpane of my office when the phone rang.

“Nicolette Mace, the Raven Siren.”

“He’s back and you’re marked.” The phone went dead in my hand. Anonymous calls were always trouble; laying traps for the unsuspecting Private Eye, but this time it was more confusing than anything else. It wasn’t hard to believe that someone had painted a bullseye on my back; the hard part was believing that someone was warning me.

Eight years in a business like this and you don’t make any friends, probably why most P.Is have cats. The only social life a P.I has is with the scum of the earth (their clients), who in this burg are no better than those they ask you to catch, and the local police; you can tell dinner parties are always a blast to have. Usually a shotgun blast.

I could have kept my head down and waited for the hit, it would have saved me an awful lot of trouble and a few fingers as well, but that’s the deal with retrospect.

Two minutes after the phone call I had my coat in hand, my guns in their holsters and no cat to wish me luck.

Times have changed in this business from the days of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. The two of them didn’t have the modern world to contend with, the escalation of violent crime, the degeneration of society, in my mind those guys had it easy.

Some things though haven’t changed.

The first thing to do was to try and sniff out a lead, general snippets of news, new guys in town, old faces resurfacing, suspicious activities anywhere in the city.

There was only one guy to go to who’d know what was happening and who would actually talk, Alfie Dennis. Alfie Dennis, still in his early twenties, was the best snitch in the city. He took from both sides and consequently knew more about the city than either side was willing to admit.

He’s a pricey resource if you knew only one way to ask and after double-crossing both sides more than once, he knew how to disappear in the blink of an eye. Luckily enough for me though, he wasn’t immune to female charms.

Alfie wasn’t an easy man to locate and the rain made me irritable when I found him in a down-town pool hall. He wasn’t an attractive man, pug faced with a spot epidemic still clinging on from his teens, though he was never short of women, mainly hookers because even though his looks made any woman want to wretch, the depth of his pockets more than made up for it.

That night he wasn’t alone either, he had two girls hanging on his arms and another two throwing him glances from the bar. When I walked through the door, all eyes turned from their games to the door and back again. That wasn’t unusual, most people in there knew who I was and I knew who they were, if I left them alone, they’d leave me alone.

Simple arrangements like these tend to make life so much simpler, and by “simpler” I mean “longer.”

It wasn’t unlike any other night walking into that hall, but the moment I walked through that door I knew something was different, something about the pool hall was bothering me and the phone call was enough to get me on my guard.

I didn’t like it.

I felt cold like I’d been dropped in a snow bank in the middle of December. It struck me as odd that Alfie hadn’t looked up as I walked in. Normally he would have been watching the door intently, just waiting for business to walk through it. I’d seen him react to the police like a snivelling worm and to the underworld agents in the same way, but he always jumped and headed for the back door if it was me he saw. He hadn’t moved.

Damn.

It was a set up; I could feel it as my flesh crawled. I thought as fast as I could, trying not to give anything away. First thing that came to mind was backing out the door I had just entered through, but it would be being watched.

I stepped away from the door and moved to the bar, the two hookers leaning against it turned and grinned maliciously at me. There was something familiar about them. I was over the counter, guns in hand, before the first shot left its chamber.

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

The New Year is off to a flying start for all of us here at Mightier Than the Sword UK – some of the more interesting things you’ll all find out about in due course, but we felt that today was a very appropriate day to post an extract from Beginnings, the first book in the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series by C.S. Woolley (you’ll understand why in a few weeks time)

Beginnings: an extract

When I walked into the living room, Louise was sat on the sofa cleaning her favourite rifle. The coffee table was covered with a multitude of other weapons, including six revolvers, a colt that had been a gift from my dad to me, a shotgun and my dad’s favourite assault rifle.

I never thought it was fair for a P.I. to carry an assault rifle, but he mainly used it for intimidation since it had a high tendency to misfire. Most people tend not to argue with someone carrying an assault rifle, but then again there are always exceptions.

I can remember my father being hospitalised for three weeks after he had to use it against a small time gang that seemed immune to intimidation. Any normal person with any amount of sanity would have probably gotten rid of it after that, but honestly, I think it increased his love of the stupid thing.

At least it wasn’t a misfiring shotgun, though there were days when I am sure that Danny had tried to sell him one.

I walked over and sat beside Louise and picked up my colt. It was a beautiful antique six shooter that I lavished more care and attention on than spinsters do on their cats.

Louise always mocked me for it, said a love affair with a gun wasn’t normal – rather rich coming from her considering how much time she spent talking to her rifle.

What it came down to is that our weapons were our greatest friends, the only things we knew we could count on as long as we took care of them. Dad had taught us from a very early age that we couldn’t rely on each other, but if we looked after our guns – we could rely on them.

Louise took this very seriously. She spent more time cleaning and maintaining all our weapons than I have spent sleeping in my fourteen years on the planet. As I sat down next to her I picked up the small brushes and began examining my colt for the smallest specks of dust that could have gotten past my sister’s inspection.

It didn’t take long for my father’s voice to reach decibels that shook the building and caused glass to fall out of the rotting window frames.

“He’s getting worse.” Louise shook her head in despair. She always did think that dad lost his temper too easily, especially when he was on the phone to Danny.

“I don’t think he is, I think you’re getting less tolerant as you get old.”

“You mean older.”

“No, I know what I meant. Definitely old.” I said, staring down the inside of the barrel of the colt.

Louise would have retaliated for a comment like that, normally with some form of excessive violence, but it was this moment that my father chose to throw down the phone and storm into the apartment.

“We’re going out.” He growled in our general direction.

“Why?” I asked, putting down the little brushes. Louise hadn’t missed even the smallest speck of dust.

“Because Danny knows how to push the old man’s buttons and he thinks we have nothing better to do than come along.” Louise sighed as she polished the barrel of her rifle.

“You don’t have anything better to do.”

Dad was never very good at recognising we had our own lives to lead.

“Niccy doesn’t.” Louise shot back.

“And you do?” I always hated it when she called me that.

“I have my own case to work on.” Louise always was more independent than my father liked. After Laura had died, he’d always been very protective of us both – at least that’s what Louise always told me. She said that before mum had died, he’d been different, much more easy going than he was now, not quite so prone to violent outbursts of temper.

He wasn’t a man that doted on his daughters in the same way that I have seen most men dote on them. He didn’t try and buy love because he couldn’t really afford to – there were no ponies or promises of trips to Disneyland, there was no coming home from being on a business trip laden with foreign gifts – there was always the possibility that he would come home from the hospital; bleeding, carrying pizza, but that’s about as far as it went.

The way my father showed his love was teaching us to shoot, teaching us to fight and teaching us how to survive. Louise had learned these lessons very quickly. She had a tougher skin than even my father did, and her ability to shoot straight under pressure was legendary. I, on the other hand, hated the sight of blood, flinched at loud noises and missed every target I shot at.

Arthur said it didn’t matter, that I would get better with practise, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t cut out to be a private detective, but then again, there was nothing at school that interested me either. It’s an odd feeling that you might not have a place in the world. But at fourteen, I hardly let that bother me.

“What case is that?” Arthur growled. He wasn’t very good at hiding when he was angry, or supporting what he disapproved of.

“It’s none of your business.” Louise said bluntly. She never liked sharing really, was always a problem when it came to our toys.

There wasn’t a lot that my father could say to that. He tried to form several sentences several times before he gave up completely. I was glad in a lot of ways that he couldn’t come up with a retort; it meant not having to suffer through the carnage of Louise vs. Arthur, round nine hundred and thirty seven.

Louise didn’t give my father the opportunity to argue back either; she dropped the gun parts on the table, grabbed her coat and headed out of the door. It slammed behind her and caused the walls of the office and apartment to shake like they were made from paper; to this day, I am not entirely convinced that they aren’t.

“Get your coat.” Arthur snapped at me and disappeared back into his office. Louise had gone out unarmed, but she was more than capable of defending herself without the use of weapons. The only thing I could take was my colt.

In the office there were plenty of places that my father had guns hidden that I knew existed but had never had any great success in finding. I realised that I hadn’t eaten yet so threw some of the leftover rabbit stew Louise had made two days before, into the microwave and turned it on.

There was a great crash, a smell of burning and the next thing I knew there was a flash of light, I was lying on my back and the smoke alarm was going off.

Arthur came rushing in to see the remnants of the microwave smouldering on the side, rabbit stew sprayed about the apartment with an assortment of electronics.

Who knew putting rabbit stew in a microwave would make it explode?

My father hauled me to my feet without a word, strode across the apartment, opened the window and threw what was left of the microwave out onto the street below.

“You can clean this up later. We have work to do.” He growled as he picked up my coat and threw it at me. I checked over my arms, legs, torso and face and found only four wounds. None of them were particularly deep, the bleeding mostly superficial and there weren’t any scraps of metal lodged in them.

Walking out of the building, my father was already halfway down the street; he didn’t like to be kept waiting. I stepped over the smoking remains of the microwave on the pavement and ran smack into someone walking the other way.

“Hey, watch it!” I shouted as I nearly fell backwards into the pile of ruined electronics and melted plastic.

“Sorry.” The man I had run into replied. I realised that I wasn’t falling because he had grabbed my arm to keep me on my feet.

I looked up to see a young looking man with blue eyes, dark hair and the shadow of stubble that had been left intentionally unshaven. I felt my cheeks flush as I looked at him.

“Colt!” My father shouted, dragging my attention away from the attractive man. I pulled my arm from his grasp and ran off down the street. I could feel his eyes watching me as I chased after my father and couldn’t put my finger on why him watching me didn’t bother me.

“Stay away from him.” Arthur said gruffly as I caught up to him.

“Why?” I said, frowning and turning my head to look back at the man who still stood by the smouldering remains of the microwave.

“Bacon has never been a very healthy thing for private investigators to associate with.” Arthur grunted. For those of you who suddenly feel offended at the thought that bacon, being possibly the greatest meat product after steak, could be seen as something that private investigators shouldn’t associate with; by bacon what Arthur meant was the police.

I didn’t say anything in response as I looked back at the young man. He didn’t look like he was a cop; he looked like he should have still been in high school, not locking up criminals on the street and getting in the way of the work of a private eye.

I hoped I wouldn’t come across him again, not because I have anything against the police really, it’s just they tend to end up getting shot by my father for interfering and surprisingly I didn’t want to see this nice young man end up with a bullet between his shoulder blades.

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

Well Christmas is well and truly done, so we shall be moving on into the New Year, but before we do, we have one more festive offering for you in the form of a Christmas interview with lovely Penelope Wallace.

If you haven’t read her debut novel, We Do Not Kill Children, we highly recommend that you check it out.

Penelope Wallace Christmas Interview

Your favourite day of Christmas from the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”?

A: The lords a-leaping and ladies dancing would make for a good ceilidh or barn dance.

If you had to be Scrooge or the Grinch, which would you be?

A: I am always Scrooge-ish about Christmas beginning too early.

Tell us about this book. Who did you write this book for?

A: “We Do Not Kill Children” is a not-too-dark story of murder and intrigue, in a pseudo-medieval setting with gender equality. I wrote it for people like me, who find swords and honour enthralling, don’t understand technology, like women to have roles other than love interest, and don’t want to read about rape.

What is your favourite part about preparing for Christmas?

A: Possibly opening cards and guessing who they’re from. Also seeing family.

Is there a central message in the book?

A: There are two: heroism is the daily trudge as well as the dramatic leap; and every criminal justice system needs a Court of Appeal.

What is your favourite Christmas Tradition?

A: Carols, and presents.

What is the most important idea you share in your book that will add value to the reader’s life?

A: Possibly to treat people as individuals, and not stereotype them, eg by gender or appearance.

Who is in charge of cooking Christmas dinner in your house?

A: Definitely not me. Normally my husband.

If you could compare this book with any book out there we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

A: Fold “Brother Cadfael” into “Song of Ice and Fire” and add feminism.

If you could spend Christmas anywhere, where would it be?

A: At home is good.

Why did you start writing?

A: It is the obvious way to preserve and develop the strange images and story-lines in my head. Maybe.

Do your characters celebrate Christmas?

A: They certainly do, and you can watch them doing it in the epilogue of “We Do Not Kill Children”.

Will it be a White Christmas?

A: Probably not.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

A: “God rest ye merry” and “Hark the herald angels sing” are excellent carols. If you mean secular song… how about “There’s only one more sleep till Christmas”?

When do you decorate your tree?

A: As late as possible, before Christmas Eve.

Which movie do you watch every Christmas?

A: The classic “Muppet Christmas Carol” (see above under “Song”) but “Love Actually” is also frequently watched.

Do you have a favourite book that you always read over the festive period?

A: No, but I sometimes read Milton’s “Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”.

We Do Not Kill Children

front“We do not kill children; we do not commit rape; we do not take pleasure in torment.”

Dorac Kingsbrother was one of the King’s Thirty in the kingdom of Marod. That was before he was found guilty of the murder of Lord Gahran’s three children. Though Gahran was a traitor, his children were innocent. The code of the King’s Thirty leaves no room for such a barbaric act, and for this heinous crime Dorac faces a life in exile.

The shame of such a sentence is something that Dorac can’t brook, and so he sets off on a journey to the Old Stones, the place where those that seek death meet their end. Followed by Gormad, a child in search of adventure, Dorac is not alone on his final journey.

But not everyone believes that Dorac is guilty. Gemara Kingsister, head of the Six, investigates the murder of Gahran’s children; though there is more at stake than the life of a lone warrior in this, the first of the Tales from Ragaris.

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Christmas is over and all the supermarkets in Great Britain seem convinced that it’s already Easter, but we’re not quite done with our Christmas giving. Today we are bringing you the opening to WAR, book 2 in the Children of Ribe by C.S. Woolley. The Children of Ribe is a book a modern fairytale and Viking saga for children.

WAR: an extract

“Where are we?” Riki Andersen frowned as he looked around. The last thing he remembered, he had been scrambling to pick up his sword. He had dropped it when he tried to draw it from its scabbard. The warriors of Hedeby had found them on the headland opposite Lindholm.

“I don’t know.” Eva Axeldatter replied. She had been the only one of the children who was ready to fight the advancing warriors. Her pet wolf, Wifrith, was sat next to his mistress. The danger that had threatened her was gone. The wolf didn’t care where they were now, only that Eva was safe.

“You are on the island of Fyn.” a female voice said. Eva and Riki turned round. Behind them were stood Dalla Ingeborgsdotter, Christian Andersen, Erland Kalebsen and a woman that neither of them had seen before.

She wasn’t a normal woman, she looked like a spirit. She was stood next to Erland, though neither Erland nor Christian seemed surprised to see her. Eva wondered if she was a threat, but Wifrith wasn’t growling.

“Aldís,” Erland said, “why are you here?” he asked.

“I am the guardian of the arm ring of Yngvar, now that you have found the arm ring, I will be there to protect you wherever you go.” Aldís replied.

“You transported us to Fyn?” Christian asked.

“I did. I can only protect you when Erland is wearing the arm ring though. If he hadn’t put it on before the warriors reached you, I wouldn’t have been able to transport you to safety.” Aldís said.

“Why did you bring us to the island of Fyn?” Dalla asked.

“Because it is the furthest away from the warriors of Hedeby I could carry you, your ponies and all of your belongings,” Aldís replied, “you should rest for the night.” The spirit said before she disappeared.

“An unusual day we’re having.” Christian said under his breath.

Riki set to work looking for wood so that Christian could build a fire. Christian and Erland were both still wet and cold after swimming the strait between the headland and Lindholm to find the arm ring. The two boys were checking the ponies, the warm bodies of the ponies helping to keep the two warm until the fire was built.

“We should put up the tent.” Eva said. The tent they had made to camp in the woods to the east of Viborg had been saved and packed onto the back of Riki’s pony. It didn’t take the two girls long to put it together.

Erland and Christian went inside the tent to change out of their wet clothes. Eva sat down with Dalla as they went through the food supplies they had.

“When did you learn how to do magic?” Eva asked quietly.

“Ciara taught me.” Dalla replied. She didn’t look at Eva as she spoke.

“Is that why we were kidnapped?” Eva asked, chewing on her bottom lip.

“Yes.” Dalla said meekly.

“When were you going to tell us?” Eva asked calmly.

“I don’t know. I was hoping you wouldn’t find out. I didn’t want you all to be angry with me.” Dalla was close to tears.

Eva didn’t say a word. She stood up and went to help Riki with the fire. Dalla sat looking miserable. Wifrith lay close beside her, his watchful eyes fixed on the food.

Erland and Christian felt much better when they had changed into dry clothes. Erland was wearing his arm ring proudly as he stepped out of the tent. He was carrying the wet clothes. Riki and Eva had lit the fire and gone in search of water.

“All alone?” Erland asked Dalla as he laid out the clothes so that they would dry by the fire.

“Wifrith is here.” Dalla replied.

“Where are Riki and Eva?” Erland asked.

“They went to get water, I think. They didn’t tell me.” Dalla shrugged.

“Oh.” Erland said. He felt a little uncomfortable talking to Dalla. He found it hard to talk to girls at the best of times. They liked him a lot, but he was always tongue tied. Dalla was even more of a problem to talk to. She swung between being very happy and very sad and always seemed to have a faraway look in her eyes.

“We should make a pen for the ponies.” Dalla said, breaking the awkward silence.

“Good idea!” Erland said enthusiastically. He waited for Dalla to put away the food and then the two set to work building a pony pen.

Christian had fallen asleep inside the tent. Wifrith padded in and flopped down beside the boy. The wolf knew that Christian was important to his mistress, so he guarded him whilst he slept.

“Are you angry with Dalla?” Riki asked Eva. The two were looking for any signs of a river close by.

“Yes.” Eva said shortly.

“Why?” Riki asked.

“She learned magic from the witch that held us prisoner.” Eva said with a frown.

“She was a prisoner too. Ciara put her under a spell.” Riki replied.

“Don’t say her name.” Eva’s eyes flared as she spoke.

“Why not?” Riki asked.

“When you say the name of evil things you give them more power.” Eva warned.

“Don’t say things like that!” Riki whined.

“It’s true; you’ve heard the old stories.” Eva said.

“But in the old stories saying the name doesn’t only give it more power. It calls the evil to you.” Riki shuddered as he spoke.

“Exactly. So don’t say her name.” Eva said pointedly.

“Okay. The witch it is,” Riki agreed, “but Dalla really was a prisoner too. I heard the witch casting spells over Dalla and I am sure the witch put potions in Dalla’s food too.”

“It doesn’t matter. Dalla put us all in danger.” Eva said stubbornly.

“What about you?” Riki asked.

“What do you mean, ‘what about you’?” Eva demanded.

“You got captured by that troll. You put us all in danger.” Riki asked innocently.

“That was different. We weren’t all prisoners of the troll.” Eva snapped.

“No, but Christian fought the troll to free you. We didn’t have to fight the witch, we just ran away.” Riki said.

“It’s not the same thing.” Eva refused to admit she was wrong.

“If you say so,” Riki shrugged, “hey, look over there, I can see a pond!”

More about the Children of Ribe

A Viking Saga. The Children of the Viking town of Ribe must find the eight arm rings of Yngvar. The arm rings contain magic, which will save their town from the warrior horde of King Viggo Odinsen.

To find out more about the four books in the Children of Ribe series, follow these links: FATE, WAR, WIFRITH, DOUBT.

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We’re taking another break from the short stories today to bring you an extract from another one of our books – FATE, book 1 in the Children of Ribe Saga. The Children of Ribe books are written by C.S. Woolley and aimed at children who are not only interested in adventure and magic, but also learning about the Vikings.

FATE: an extract

“Erland! Erland, wake up!” Christian Andersen jumped up and down on Erland’s bed. Erland Kalebsen opened his eyes and glared at the young man of sixteen who was shaking him.

“What do you want?” Erland pushed his best friend off the bed and sat up. Christian collapsed in a heap on the floor and grinned.

“I have something to tell you.”

Erland yawned and looked out the window, noticing that it was still dark outside he asked, “What time is it?”

“I don’t know, maybe four o’clock?” Christian shrugged.

“Four o’clock! Why are you waking me up at four o’clock?!” Erland demanded.

“Keep your voice down. You’ll wake up your mother. She won’t be pleased I climbed through the window again.” Christian hissed.

“You better not have left footprints on the wall. She’ll hit you with the broom until you’re sore!” Erland said, sticking his head out of the window. It was too dark to see if Christian had tracked mud up the side of the house.

“I was careful; I didn’t even step on the window this time. Look, your mother will get over it, Frigg is a good sport really. Anyway, I have something important to tell you!” Christian said, his chin length blonde hair bouncing up and down as he spoke.

“Well, what is it?” Erland asked grumpily.

“There’s a new girl in town!” Christian grinned.

“A new girl? You woke me up at 4 o’clock because there is a new girl in town?” Erland stared at his best friend.

The two boys were both sixteen. Erland was a tall boy with dirty blonde hair and dark blues eyes, something he had inherited from his mother. He was strong for his age, but when he stood next to Christian he looked decidedly small. Christian was shorter than Erland, but a lot more muscular. He had a slight blonde stubble spread across his chin and blonde hair to his chin that was so light it was blinding if the sun caught it at the right angle.

Though they were the same age, Erland was a lot less interested in girls than Christian was.

“She’s not just any new girl, she comes from Norway.” Christian replied.

“So?” Erland asked.

“So! Don’t you listen to the stories that Alessia and Sibel tell?” Christian said with exasperation.

“No, I’m too old to be listening to fairy tales. I need to learn about running the farm and how to protect the town and the farm from thieves and wolves.” Erland said, lying down again.

“What a load of nonsense, you are too young for that, you should listen to Alessia and Sibel. Their stories are all about adventure!” Christian’s eyes danced as he sat on the edge of Erland’s bed.

“A girl coming to Ribe from Norway is important in the stories?” Erland asked.

“Well, no, not Norway. It’s the legend of the arm rings of Yngvar.” Christian said scratching his head.

“The legend of the arm rings of Yngvar? Another tale of adventure and daring that cause your sisters to swoon?” Erland rolled over and pulled the blankets over his head.

“Beatrix and Camilla aren’t interested in adventure stories, they just want to sit in the meadow and make daisy chains.” Christian tutted.

“I think you missed my point.” Erland muttered.

“Look, Erland, the legend of the arm rings of Yngvar, it says when a girl from a distant land arrives that danger is near at hand. That heroes must rise from the town and set out to find the rings.” said Christian.

“And these rings are not normal arm rings like the ones that my father has?” Erland asked, his voice muffled by the blankets.

“Yes.”

“And each arm ring will give the wearer untold power and unmatchable skill?”

“Yes!”

“And there are only a few days when you can find these arm rings of Yngvar before disaster befalls everyone and the darkness takes hold?”

“You do know the legend!” Christian said with a smile.

“No, I just know the stories that Alessia and Sibel tell.” Erland said crossly. The sound of footsteps echoed in the corridor outside Erland’s room.

“Uh oh.” Christian said.

“I told you to keep your voice down.” Erland said from under the blanket. The door to Erland’s room opened. Erland’s mother, Frigg, stood in doorway.

“Christian Andersen! You should be at home in your bed!” Frigg said in a stern voice.

“Yes, Frigg.” Christian sighed. He started to climb over Erland to get to the window.

“What do you think you are doing?” Frigg shouted.

“Going out the same way I came in.” Christian said and instantly regretted it. Frigg grabbed her broom and started chasing Christian.

“I told you not to climb the side of our house!” Frigg yelled and Christian ran to the front door. He undid all the bolts and ran outside. Erland heard his mother slam the door, bolt it and walk back to his room.

“What did he want?” Frigg asked.

“Something about the legend of the arm rings of Yngvar.” Erland yawned.

“I see.” Frigg said with a slight frown on her face.

“He believes all those tales that Alessia and Sibel tell to the children.” Erland said as he drifted back to sleep.

“You are still a child.” Frigg whispered as she closed the door to Erland’s room.

More about the Children of Ribe

A Viking Saga. The Children of the Viking town of Ribe must find the eight arm rings of Yngvar. The arm rings contain magic, which will save their town from the warrior horde of King Viggo Odinsen.

To find out more about the four books in the Children of Ribe series, follow these links: FATE, WAR, WIFRITH, DOUBT.

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As promised, here is the second short story from Stickleback Hollow, the 8th Day of Christmas.

8th Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking

Christmas was always a busy time to be an innkeeper. Lots of people came to Stickleback Hollow to visit relatives in the nearby city of Chester and also in the village itself. Some people chose to stay in the inn that Wilson ran because his wife’s cooking was known far and wide as the best in the area. Some people didn’t like staying in the city as it was too busy and full of bustle.

Whatever the reasons that people came to the inn, Wilson and Emma were both every busy. Unlike the staff at the house and many others in the village, they didn’t close, not even on Christmas Day. They went to the house for Christmas dinner after going to church, but they were always the first to leave as they had to get back to the inn. They made sure that all their guests knew that the doors of the inn would be locked from when they went to church until after Christmas dinner had finished, but this never seemed to be a problem as all their guests had prior plans for Christmas Day.

But on Boxing Day things were back to normal. In fact, the inn was often busier on Boxing Day than any other day of the year as people like the blacksmith and Miss Baker were not at work, and so came to the inn to talk and swap seasonal greetings – though they had all seen each other the day before.

Wilson liked running the inn, especially around Christmas. He didn’t really need time off to put his feet up. There was nothing to do when he stopped working, and often found the days when the inn had to be closed to be rather boring. Emma preferred to be busy and even when the kitchen wasn’t open, she could be seen bustling around the inn, making sure that everything was running smoothly.

One of the problems that faced the inn during the busy time of Christmas was the risk of running out of milk. Every day during Christmas, Wilson woke up early to walk out to one of the local dairy farms to get the farmer to buy more milk. When he walked down the path to the dairy farmer’s house, he could hear the milkmaids singing in the small field that lay next to the house. The milkmaids were the daughters of farmers in the local area, but not all of them were the daughters of the dairy farmer. There were eight of them in all and all of them enjoyed singing, though not one of them could carry a tune.

Wilson waved to them as he passed and went about his business with the farmer.

“It’s a sad thing, but today is the last day you’ll see those milkmaids.” the farmer said as the two men walked outside to fetch the pails of milk for the inn.

“Why is that?” Wilson asked.

“They’re all to be married, can’t stay milkmaids forever. There are a bunch of young farmers coming later on today to meet them, then the dates for the weddings  will be set and the girls will be gone.” the farmer sighed.

“Who is going to milk you cows?” Wilson asked.

“Oh, there are more girls coming to do that, the cows won’t mind at all, but you might want to say your goodbyes. My two are going to be going down to Kent, only God knows where the others will end up.” the farmer shrugged.

“Will they be well provided for?” Wilson asked.

“They will. I know all the boys that are coming to meet the girls, some haven’t bought holdings yet, others will be going back to their father’s farms. I’ll miss them, but it’s better than them winding up as old maids.” the farmer shrugged.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Today we are giving you two short stories for the price of one as our New Year gift to you. Yes, we have two short stories from Stickleback Hollow just for you that fall on 7th and 8th day of Christmas. So to begin with here is the 7th day of Christmas.

7th Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a swimming

“Are you ready?” Lee asked his brother. The two of them had waited until their mother had gone out to her shop for the day before they made their plans. The two boys had been adopted by Miss Baker when they had been found on the doorstep of her seamstress shop.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Stanley asked as he followed Lee out of the small house that stood on the edge of the village of Stickleback Hollow.

“Of course! We need to go get our boat back.” Lee smiled at him. Both of the boys knew that Miss Baker wasn’t their real mother, but their family was closer than most that were related by blood. Stanley worked as the boy for the butcher and Lee was the boy for the baker. Both boys started working long before their mother rose to go to her shop, but the boys always came back for breakfast before she left.

Christmas was always a quiet and enjoyable affair for the family. They spent Christmas Day at Grangeback and then on Boxing Day they went for a walk around the woods. It had been on Boxing Day that Lee had begun to plan rescuing their boat from the frozen lake. Stanley hadn’t wanted to go back to the lake ever again, but his brother was far more convincing than Stanley liked.

It had taken three days for Lee to talk his brother into his scheme and a day to gather the items that they would need in order to get their boat back. Lee had borrowed some pikes from the blacksmith without the old man knowing; promising Stanley that he would return them once the boat was safely back ashore.

The two boys set out from the house and went around the edge of the village, making sure that no one saw them as they went. They ran as quickly as they could until they reached the safety of the tree line. The two boys paused in the trees to catch their breath before they walked to the edge of the lake.

The snow was still thick on the ground and the lake was frozen solid. The two boys walked gingerly across the ice until they reached their boat and climbed over the side of it. When they were both settled in the bottom of the boat Lee handed Stanley one of the iron pikes he had stolen from the blacksmith. The two boys hit the ice around the boat until the boat was freed from the ice. Stanley took up the oars and started to manoeuvre the boat back towards the shore. Lee leaned over the side of the boat and kept breaking the ice in front of the boat until they reached the bank.

It was hard and slow work, but by the time they had finished, both of the boys felt proud of what they had accomplished.

“You know that if your mother finds out about this, you’ll not be able to sit down for a week.” Alex said. The two boys froze in the boat as they looked up at the hunter who stood on the shore, leaning against one of the trees.

“You’re not going to tell her, are you?” Stanley asked as Lee jumped out of the boat and started to pull it onto the bank. Stanley followed his brother to help him get the boat out of the water.

“I won’t need to; did you even think about what you are going to tell her when she sees that the boat isn’t stuck in the lake anymore?” Alex asked with amusement.

“No.” Lee said slowly.

“You told me that you’d thought of everything!” Stanley cried.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much.” Alex smiled at the two boys.

“Why not?” Lee frowned.

“Leave the boat here and I’ll tell her I got it out for you.” Alex said with a shrug.

“Why would you do that?” Stanley asked.

“Because you’re going to need to put those pikes back before the blacksmith notices they are missing and because you haven’t noticed what breaking the ice did for the lake.” Alex grinned.

“What are you talking about?” Lee asked.

“Just look at the water.” Alex said. Lee and Stanley both turned around and looked out at the lake. A group of seven swans had come out of the forest and was moving across the ice to the open water. The two boys watched as the swans slipped into the cold water and started swimming around.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

As it is New Year’s Eve and the end of 2016, we are not posting an extract or a short story today, all we are doing is wishing everyone a very Happy New Year filled with peace, happiness and prosperity.

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