Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

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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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.

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Having had a few days of extracts from our fantasy books, we’re now heading back to our short stories with a little offering from Victorian England and Stickleback Hollow.

6th Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a laying

Mrs. Bosworth was not a woman that liked to do very much, aside from work. She hated to sit down and waste time; after all there was always something better that she could be doing, especially around Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Bosworth had no children of their own, three had been born and all died before they had reached the age of five.

For Mrs. Bosworth, it made Christmas a rather difficult time of year. Mr. Bosworth had borne the loss of two sons and a daughter with remarkable fortitude, and had buried himself in his duties at Grangeback. Mrs. Bosworth had looked on Lucy Kneelingroach as a surrogate daughter, satisfying her maternal instincts by mothering the young lady. When she had died, it had caused Mrs. Bosworth to become even more fastidious than she had been before.

Every Boxing Day, when she and Mr. Bosworth were not working, Mrs. Bosworth would sink into a quiet depression. She didn’t speak a word to Mr. Bosworth for the whole day, but sat in their room, holding an armful of old knitted geese. When Mrs. Bosworth was pregnant she spent her evenings knitting things for the baby she was expecting. She wasn’t very adept at knitting, but had skill enough to create blankets and toy geese. Each pregnancy she had done the same thing – knitted two blankets and two geese. The blankets had been put to good use when Lucy had been a baby, but Mrs. Bosworth couldn’t bring herself to give the geese to the young lady of the house. Instead she kept them for herself, a reminder of the children she had once had and the short time she had to cradle them before they were taken from her.

Mr. Bosworth never tried to take the geese from his wife, nor did he offer any word of comfort. He knew that there was nothing that he could say that would make the loss of their children any better. When their daughter had died, Mrs. Bosworth had told her husband that she couldn’t take losing another child and the two had agreed that there would be no more children. Mr. Bosworth was a man that kept his feelings to himself, he had his own pain over the loss of his children, but he didn’t want to burden his wife when he knew of the pain she was suffering. He consoled himself every year by watching his wife as she cuddled the six geese and gazed out of the window at the lake.

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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Well for 5th Day of Christmas we are sticking with the fantasy genre, but we are switching authors to Penelope Wallace and an extract from her debut novel, We Do Not Kill Children.

We Do Not Kill Children – An extract

Dorac had always hated being stared at.  He stood, flanked by guards, in the centre of the White Hall in Stonehill Castle.  Around three sides crammed men, women and children.  Most though not all he knew, and every eye was fixed on him.

Fifteen years ago, he had sworn his oath to King Arrion’s mother in this hall.  Since then, he had received orders here, and delivered reports, and greeted new brothers and sisters.  It was the centre of the life of the King’s Thirty.

The long whitewashed walls glared in on him.

Before him on the left was a table with the holy gospel, on which the witnesses swore.  The priest, a short scowling woman, stood by, and the King’s Questioner, Lady Kara.  On the right, another table with that cloak, his cloak, stiff with blood.  The witnesses sat behind.  Cremdar looked troubled, Arvill looked distraught, and Braf looked like nothing.

The eyes burned into him, and raised sweat.

He answered what turned out to be the last question, and was told to step forward and take the oath.  His right hand on the open book, hearing himself stumble over the words, he swore that the evidence he had given was true.  He knew that no one believed him.

The eyes shifted away, and he was cold.  Everyone looked – Dorac looked – at the man sitting on the dais at the north end.  King Arrion, his lord for nine years.  His lord, his friend, his brother.  Everyone else had been staring at him because they believed him guilty.  The King looked away for the same reason.

“Your Grace, do you wish to retire to consider?” asked Lady Kara.

“No.  But he may sit down.”  So someone brought him a stool, but he ignored it.  He waited.  Fought the knowledge of doom coming.  All around the walls, a hiss of talk.   Dorac could not hear words.  He could guess.

(“He murdered three children, and thought the King would approve.  One of the Thirty!  Why is it taking so long?  What is there to decide?”)

The King stood up.  Silence beyond imagining.

“Dorac Kingsbrother, I find you guilty of the murders of Ilda aged twelve years, Gascor aged nine years, and Filana aged five years.”

It still seemed impossible.

Hands on his shoulders, pushing him to his knees.  Blood pounded behind his face.  Possible and actual.  At least he would soon be dead.

“You have served my mother and me and this land with great loyalty for many years.  I do not doubt that you thought what you did was for the best.  Words were spoken at Council that may have helped you to believe this.  But whatever your motives, it was an abominable act.

“From this day, and forever, you are exiled from this land, and from the fellowship of the Thirty.   If you are still within the realm one week from today, or if you ever return without the King’s word, your life is forfeit.

“I take back your companionship, I take back your land and your gold to comfort the bereaved, I take back your horse and your armour.”  He paused.  “Your sword you may retain.  Go from here, make a better life, and may God forgive you.”

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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As a special treat on the 4th day of Christmas, we at Mightier Than the Sword UK are bringing you an extract from book 7 in the Chronicles of Celadmore – When Darkness Falls. This particular title hasn’t been released yet and also contains the winners of the 2015 Murder in March competitions. When Darkness Falls is due for release on 10th January 2017

WDF Coming

When Darkness Falls – An extract

The fires of war have left the realm of Celadmore burnt and barren. There is little to hope for. Lives were ruined by the marching army of Aksoth.

Five years have passed since the invader and his army were defeated. There are still whispers of their presence that haunt the waking dreams of those that now stand watch over the realm.

The war torn land has become a realm of opportunity. The country boundaries still stand, but old alliances are under threat. There is little love lost between neighbours.

Profiteers have taken advantage of many, stealing what little people still had to hold. There are those that speak of hope and peace, but work to serve their own greed.

The Order stands ever vigilant, but has retreated into its own bastions of power to rebuild, leaving those outside their people to find their own way.

Resentment is building and those with hearts of stone and a talent for survival are gaining favour and power.

Though Aksoth’s army has been defeated, dark days have fallen for the people of Celadmore and their beacon of fire and hope that was lost in the final battle may never be rekindled.

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Shroud of Darkness Trilogy

A fantasy book trilogy that was 16 years in the making. The trilogy follows Venetia, a queen amongst her people in the fantasy realm of Celadmore. Strange occurrences in her home world have Venetia searching for answers as to whether an old evil has returned or if a new threat has arisen. Joined by a number of unlikely allies, who do not all get along with one another, Venetia has to fight against not only the darkness threatening to destroy her home world but the treachery of politicians, the fear in those around her, assassins that want to take her throne from her and those that would go to any lengths to try and prevent another war.

The Shroud of Darkness Trilogy contains the three volumes of the Shroud of Darkness trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days

Shroud of Darkness

In the realm of Celadmore, evil is stirring. The war torn land has not recovered from the last conflict as evil rises and threatens to ensnare the world of light. Venetia, favourite daughter of Queen Annalia, must fight enemies and allies alike. She must uncover truth amidst deception to discover the source of this new threat to her world before the darkness engulfs it.

Lady of Fire

United they must stand for destruction is upon them. The realm of Celadmore faces it’s destruction as a war that none perceived is brought against them. Venetia, Queen of the Order of Anagura and Queteria, must forge a new alliance between the nations of Celadmore against the evil that Aksoth, Lord of Nether Roth, is set to unleash. The Allied Spirit of Celadmore must be raised and march once more.

End of Days

The end is here. Aksoth’s forces roam unchecked across the plains of Celadmore; the people of Celadmore have been forced to retreat to the fallen city of Grashindorph. Revolution stirs amongst the poorest of the people; Venetia seeks to restore Gruagadon to his rightful place on the throne of Nesca and will sacrifice anything to get him there. In this final bastion, they must find victory.

The Chronicles of Celadmore (in chronological order)

The Rising Empire Trilogy
1. Rising Empire: Part 1
2. Rising Empire: Part 2
3. Rising Empire: Part 3

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy
4. Shroud of Darkness
5. Lady of Fire
6. End of Days

Fading Dawn Trilogy
7. When Darkness Falls
8. Torn Allegiance
9. Fading Dawn

Ailing Light Trilogy
10. Ailing Light
11. Ill Blowing Wind
12. Shadow of the South

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On the third day of Christmas we are bringing you an extract from the sixth book in the Chronicles of Celadmore – End of Days.

End of Days – An extract

The City of Grashindorph. The oldest of the great cities of Celadmore. The first city to be built. Built by the Anaguras and Queterians and given to the line of Tutesk to govern the land of Nosfa and then Nesca and stabilise the uniting lands of Celadmore. Built to be the seat of power for the line of Kings and Queens for the new nations and to hide the realm’s greatest secret.

The site of the most bloody and vicious battles in the history of Celadmore. The city that suffered tyrants and revolution, the city that has seen the sun rise and fall over some of the greatest rulers that the land has ever known.

The city of hope that was destroyed and humbled by the monster that now seeks the destruction of the entire world. Blood ran through the streets, bones were left to turn to dust and no one came to its rescue.

The city where the war began is where it will end. There is much to rebuild and prepare as the destruction of the rest of Celadmore continues.

In the city where hope died so many years ago, it is now the only chance for victory; a forlorn hope, almost lost.

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Shroud of Darkness Trilogy

A fantasy book trilogy that was 16 years in the making. The trilogy follows Venetia, a queen amongst her people in the fantasy realm of Celadmore. Strange occurrences in her home world have Venetia searching for answers as to whether an old evil has returned or if a new threat has arisen. Joined by a number of unlikely allies, who do not all get along with one another, Venetia has to fight against not only the darkness threatening to destroy her home world but the treachery of politicians, the fear in those around her, assassins that want to take her throne from her and those that would go to any lengths to try and prevent another war.

The Shroud of Darkness Trilogy contains the three volumes of the Shroud of Darkness trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days

Shroud of Darkness

In the realm of Celadmore, evil is stirring. The war torn land has not recovered from the last conflict as evil rises and threatens to ensnare the world of light. Venetia, favourite daughter of Queen Annalia, must fight enemies and allies alike. She must uncover truth amidst deception to discover the source of this new threat to her world before the darkness engulfs it.

Lady of Fire

United they must stand for destruction is upon them. The realm of Celadmore faces it’s destruction as a war that none perceived is brought against them. Venetia, Queen of the Order of Anagura and Queteria, must forge a new alliance between the nations of Celadmore against the evil that Aksoth, Lord of Nether Roth, is set to unleash. The Allied Spirit of Celadmore must be raised and march once more.

End of Days

The end is here. Aksoth’s forces roam unchecked across the plains of Celadmore; the people of Celadmore have been forced to retreat to the fallen city of Grashindorph. Revolution stirs amongst the poorest of the people; Venetia seeks to restore Gruagadon to his rightful place on the throne of Nesca and will sacrifice anything to get him there. In this final bastion, they must find victory.

The Chronicles of Celadmore (in chronological order)

The Rising Empire Trilogy
1. Rising Empire: Part 1
2. Rising Empire: Part 2
3. Rising Empire: Part 3

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy
4. Shroud of Darkness
5. Lady of Fire
6. End of Days

Fading Dawn Trilogy
7. When Darkness Falls
8. Torn Allegiance
9. Fading Dawn

Ailing Light Trilogy
10. Ailing Light
11. Ill Blowing Wind
12. Shadow of the South

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We’re a little late in getting today’s advent calendar to you – we have been slightly distracted by the cricket and having to watch the highlights from the Ashes at Trent Bridge in 2005 to raise our spirits. Today is our last day in the office before the festive break so we are making sure that the rest of the advent calendar is set up and ready to go out so you don’t miss out.

With today being 19th day of Advent we’re going back to Victorian England and our new favourite place of Stickleback Hollow.

5th Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold rings

The sun was bright in the sky as Sarah awoke on Christmas morning. She could hear the sounds of the household bustling through the white marble corridors. She rolled over and closed her eyes. She waited until she heard the door to the room open and her ayah walk in.

“Still abed on Christmas morning?” ayah asked as she pulled back the sheets and Sarah buried her head under the pillow.

“It’s too early.” Sarah’s moan was muffled by the pillow.

“When you and your mother were little girls, both of you used to jump out of bed before most of the household had woken up to see if there were any gifts for you.” ayah said shaking her head and pulling the pillows off the bed.

“I’m not a little girl anymore, ayah.” Sarah whined and tried to grab the pillow back from her nanny.

“No, now you’re a young lady and should start acting like it. At your age, your mother was married to your father. Nearly all girls your age are married and expecting families.” ayah clucked as she disappeared into Sarah’s dressing room to get out her clothes for the day.

Sarah sighed and sprawled out on her bed before she rolled out of her bed and traipsed over to her dressing room. Ayah had taken out a white muslin dress and a long white lace shawl that was pinned over her shoulder. Sarah stood with her arms out as ayah washed and dressed her.

“You’ll do.” ayah said finally and Sarah left her room to go enjoy breakfast.

Her mother and father were both sat out on the veranda enjoying their breakfast whilst looking out at the Indian countryside that lay around their home.

“Merry Christmas.” Sarah said as she walked out onto the patio.

“Merry Christmas, my love.” Colonel Montgomery Baird said without looking up from the book he was reading.

“Merry Christmas, there are some visitors waiting to see you.” Lady Watson-Wentworth said and led Sarah away from the breakfast. Sarah glanced at the breakfast table with longing as she was led back into the house to a sitting room where five young men were waiting.

Each of them were dressed in the uniforms of lieutenants and all seemed to be very nervous. Sarah looked at her mother with a raised eyebrow as she saw the five lieutenants.

“Gentlemen, please place the rings on the table on your calling card and then address my daughter as my lady. When she is finished talking to you, you will be escorted out by the butler. An answer will be returned with your calling card. If she rejects your proposal, then the ring will also be returned with your card.” Lady Cynthia Watson-Wentworth said in a clear voice.

“Mother.” Sarah said in protest as her mother turned to leave the room.

“Good luck, dear.” Lady Cynthia said as she patted her daughter’s arm and kissed her cheek.

Sarah turned back to face the five lieutenants and looked down at the five gold rings that lay on the table on the velvet pillow that had the five calling cards on.

“This is not what I wanted for Christmas.” she said under her breath as the first lieutenant approached her.

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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It’s only 8 days now until Christmas, and we are all very excited here in the office, not only will we be getting a break until the New Year, but we’ve got the third batch of Nicolette Mace: the Raven Short novels coming out in just a week! But we aren’t blogging about those today. No we are taking another jaunt into the realm of Celadmore and picking up the fourth journal entry of Caslo Morgan in his New Year narrative (since there’s no Christmas in Celadmore)

If you want to catch up on the previous 16 days of our short story Advent Calendar, then check out our blog archives and you’ll find all of them there.

2650GL 19th Spregan

We were brought before Queen Annalia two days ago. I was not sure what to expect. Her reputation is that of being wise, strong and gentle yet at the same time so fearsome that even King Marlo is slightly afraid of her.

When we entered the Great Hall she was seated on a throne at the far end of the room. Her daughter, Venetia was sat at her feet pouring over maps and battle reports. Behind Venetia stood two women, one with dark skin and jet black hair, the other with skin as pale as the moon and blonde hair that shone like spun gold even under the candlelight of the hall. Both were dressed in travelling armour, light shadcrag leather over thinly beaten meran, deep chestnut in colour with light woven cloaks hanging from their shoulders.

The Lady Morrigan and the Lady Gekendra.

From the way they were dressed they had arrived not long ago, but to look at them, their faces did not show it. All four women looked undisturbed by our presence there. Jashobeam led our party as we entered. Maharai and Helez, Tusala and Hisanda, Shammah and I, the seven members of the Eight.

We knelt before the Queen and Shammah spoke to her. Lady Gekendra and Lady Morrigan seemed oblivious to our presence and Venetia was much more interested in the battle reports she held. Each member of the Eight was presented to Queen Annalia in turned, I was saved until last.

Shammah said my name and there was a change in the atmosphere. Venetia put down the battle reports; Morrigan and Gekendra stopped their conversation and stared. I have never felt so much like a tapestry before in my life. It seemed to go on for hours, but was merely minutes. Morrigan and Gekendra returned to their conversation, their attention no longer fixated on me. Venetia however did not go back to her battle reports.

Instead when Queen Annalia had finished speaking and officially naming us as the Eight, Venetia stood and asked if I would walk with her around the grounds. She was still wearing her sword and her battle armour. It was unusual for any to wear their full battle armour whilst away from the battlefield. She found it amusing that I was confused by it and explained that it was because she wanted to get stronger, and be able to move as though she was not wearing armour in battle.

There is something spectacular about her, the way she thinks and moves, the way she is still very much a child but more adult than most four times her age. She challenged me to fight as we walked around the grounds, I agreed and that duel is now set for tomorrow…it was to be a small affair, the Swordmistress adjudicating the fight but since Shammah and Lady Morrigan found out about it, most of the city is now coming to the event.

I partly think that Shammah wants to see me embarrassed in battle by the seven year old princess, but to lose to her in a duel would not be as embarrassing for me as he imagines.

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Shroud of Darkness Trilogy

A fantasy book trilogy that was 16 years in the making. The trilogy follows Venetia, a queen amongst her people in the fantasy realm of Celadmore. Strange occurrences in her home world have Venetia searching for answers as to whether an old evil has returned or if a new threat has arisen. Joined by a number of unlikely allies, who do not all get along with one another, Venetia has to fight against not only the darkness threatening to destroy her home world but the treachery of politicians, the fear in those around her, assassins that want to take her throne from her and those that would go to any lengths to try and prevent another war.

The Shroud of Darkness Trilogy contains the three volumes of the Shroud of Darkness trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days

Shroud of Darkness

In the realm of Celadmore, evil is stirring. The war torn land has not recovered from the last conflict as evil rises and threatens to ensnare the world of light. Venetia, favourite daughter of Queen Annalia, must fight enemies and allies alike. She must uncover truth amidst deception to discover the source of this new threat to her world before the darkness engulfs it.

Lady of Fire

United they must stand for destruction is upon them. The realm of Celadmore faces it’s destruction as a war that none perceived is brought against them. Venetia, Queen of the Order of Anagura and Queteria, must forge a new alliance between the nations of Celadmore against the evil that Aksoth, Lord of Nether Roth, is set to unleash. The Allied Spirit of Celadmore must be raised and march once more.

End of Days

The end is here. Aksoth’s forces roam unchecked across the plains of Celadmore; the people of Celadmore have been forced to retreat to the fallen city of Grashindorph. Revolution stirs amongst the poorest of the people; Venetia seeks to restore Gruagadon to his rightful place on the throne of Nesca and will sacrifice anything to get him there. In this final bastion, they must find victory.

The Chronicles of Celadmore (in chronological order)

The Rising Empire Trilogy
1. Rising Empire: Part 1
2. Rising Empire: Part 2
3. Rising Empire: Part 3

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy
4. Shroud of Darkness
5. Lady of Fire
6. End of Days

Fading Dawn Trilogy
7. When Darkness Falls
8. Torn Allegiance
9. Fading Dawn

Ailing Light Trilogy
10. Ailing Light
11. Ill Blowing Wind
12. Shadow of the South

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16 Days in and we hope that you are all enjoying the short stories from our Advent calendar. Today is another story from the Chronicles of Celadmore and the diary of Caslo Morgan.

First Ride

2650GL 35th Spregan

We left the comfort of the city of Anamoore seven days ago. Shammah was called to meet with the Lady Gekendra at midnight on 2650GL 28th Spregan. Helez came and woke me and told me to meet with the others down in the stables. Only Jashobeam was there when I arrived but it was not long until all but Helez and Shammah were with us. We waited for over an hour in the freezing cold night; our horses saddled, supplied and ready to head out of the city. When Shammah and Helez joined us not a word was spoken. Shammah simply nodded and mounted. The rest of us followed suit and were left the city without fanfare or ceremony.

We rode to the coast, not the port and were met by Keldrak, Captain of the Queterian Navy and the most discreet and unbreakable man to ever grace the face of Celadmore. He was waiting with a skeleton crew and one of the small clippers that had recently been built and had yet to be named. We were taken onboard with our mounts and shown to our berths with orders to stay below deck until the Captain gave the order.

I fell asleep for what seemed like days but was only a few hours. Keldrak came down to my cabin to visit me with news from the mainland and from the rest of the Queterian fleet. He couldn’t tell me where we were headed but merely sitting with a man I had known since I was knee high to a grasshopper was a great comfort after the last few weeks of uncertainty and no small amount of intrigue. He told me that four hours after dawn we would be able to come on deck and Shammah would explain what was happening.

Sure enough, the call came four hours after dawn and we assembled upon the deck of the unnamed vessel to hear what our mission was. Lady Gekendra had received word from the mainland that her daughter, Gevana, and her son, Lucas, had both disappeared into the wilds to the south of Ziya known as the Chesil Void. One man had ventured after them without orders, but none had heard from any of them. The Eight had been called upon to find the three missing members of the Order and bring them home to Anamoore whether they were dead or alive. If they were dead, then vengeance was to be wrought on those that had killed them.

It seemed to strange to think that any member of the royal family would be able to go off on such a treacherous journey alone, but Tusala informed me that the princess Gevana was a girl of extraordinary talent when it came to avoiding detection and strategy. Lucas was a promising young warrior, but as both were only 11, their disappearance was a worry.

No one seems to know who the warrior is that went out after the royal twins, but Shammah and Helez assured us all that there would be time to discover who he was when we reached Ziya. The crew on Keldrak’s ship have been placing wagers as to who this man is. The most popular name I have heard is Jadow, a man named after the father of the legendary Queen Kasnata, but much of his reputation seems to be posturing. I asked Keldrak who he thought the man was. The captain merely shrugged and smiled “Bandecai.”

 

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Shroud of Darkness Trilogy

A fantasy book trilogy that was 16 years in the making. The trilogy follows Venetia, a queen amongst her people in the fantasy realm of Celadmore. Strange occurrences in her home world have Venetia searching for answers as to whether an old evil has returned or if a new threat has arisen. Joined by a number of unlikely allies, who do not all get along with one another, Venetia has to fight against not only the darkness threatening to destroy her home world but the treachery of politicians, the fear in those around her, assassins that want to take her throne from her and those that would go to any lengths to try and prevent another war.

The Shroud of Darkness Trilogy contains the three volumes of the Shroud of Darkness trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days

Shroud of Darkness

In the realm of Celadmore, evil is stirring. The war torn land has not recovered from the last conflict as evil rises and threatens to ensnare the world of light. Venetia, favourite daughter of Queen Annalia, must fight enemies and allies alike. She must uncover truth amidst deception to discover the source of this new threat to her world before the darkness engulfs it.

Lady of Fire

United they must stand for destruction is upon them. The realm of Celadmore faces it’s destruction as a war that none perceived is brought against them. Venetia, Queen of the Order of Anagura and Queteria, must forge a new alliance between the nations of Celadmore against the evil that Aksoth, Lord of Nether Roth, is set to unleash. The Allied Spirit of Celadmore must be raised and march once more.

End of Days

The end is here. Aksoth’s forces roam unchecked across the plains of Celadmore; the people of Celadmore have been forced to retreat to the fallen city of Grashindorph. Revolution stirs amongst the poorest of the people; Venetia seeks to restore Gruagadon to his rightful place on the throne of Nesca and will sacrifice anything to get him there. In this final bastion, they must find victory.

The Chronicles of Celadmore (in chronological order)

The Rising Empire Trilogy
1. Rising Empire: Part 1
2. Rising Empire: Part 2
3. Rising Empire: Part 3

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy
4. Shroud of Darkness
5. Lady of Fire
6. End of Days

Fading Dawn Trilogy
7. When Darkness Falls
8. Torn Allegiance
9. Fading Dawn

Ailing Light Trilogy
10. Ailing Light
11. Ill Blowing Wind
12. Shadow of the South

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