Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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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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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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

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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.

With just eleven days to go until Christmas, we’re taking you on yet another journey to Celadmore through the eyes of Caslo Morgan.

2650GL 20th Spregan

When I stepped out into the duelling arena today, I had never felt more adrenaline coursing through my veins than I did at that moment. The roar of the men and women of the Order, Queen Annalia and the rest of the royal family in the city sat on a platform at the far end of the arena. Flags and music filling the air.

Such an atmosphere is something I had never known before. I felt like a conquering hero returning home victorious from some legendary battle; that I was King Leinad, Lord Rathe, Lord Queteria and both Lord Allamontos all rolled into one.

Venetia was stood at the far end of the arena already waiting. In her hand was her sword, the Clambria Yesma, a sword crafted for her that had carved a reputation for her in the last year as she had seen battle. A sword that no man could help but envy. My own blade, the Astana Drecsar, looks almost dull by comparison to it.

Her heavy armour was missing for this fight, instead she wore the same travelling armour that I had first seen the Lady Morrigan and the Lady Gekendra in. I had nothing but the leather armour that I wore for moving around, worn and tatty in places, older than the young princess I was about to face.

I could feel the eyes of Shammah burning into me from where he stood in the crowd. There wasn’t exactly hatred in his gaze but more a command to prove that I belonged as one of his men; that I was truly worthy of the mantle of the Eight.

Swordmistress Talrana moved to stand in the centre of the arena and beckoned both myself and the princess to approach. She explained that this was a simple duel; that three strikes that connected with our opponent would secure us a victory, but no blood was to be drawn. I looked at Venetia who smiled back at me and nodded. Happy that we both understood, Talrana raised her sword and brought it crashing down to stand in the arena floor to signify the start of the duel.

Venetia rushed at me before I had even registered we had begun. I managed to dodge sideways and watched the princess dart past and recover herself enough to aim backhand at my legs. I felt the blow connect and stumbled forward slightly. A roar arose from the crowd as Talrana acknowledged the hit. I knew Venetia would be quick to strike again, so I rolled as I stumbled to bring myself up to face the young princess. I managed to catch her off guard and strike her upon the shoulder before she could dodge the blow.

The crowd roared more. I was vaguely aware of the clink of gold in purses as bets were taken and paid as the bout between the young princess and I continued. Venetia grimaced as she felt her shoulder spasm under the weight of the blade. Without thinking she switched her sword arm from right to left, so I did the same.

She lunged again and missed, a feint to throw me off balance that would have worked on a less seasoned fighter. I parried her feint and knocked her backwards, her shock briefly registering before it was replaced by glee. Clearly it had been a long time since she had faced someone that she needed to apply herself to beat.

It took three hours before we each received a second blow from the other and we both were near exhaustion. Her hands were shaking and my legs felt weak beneath me. I knew that our duel was coming to an end. Venetia was becoming more determined to win the longer the duel was drawn out. To see her so focused gave me hope that the woman that would succeed her mother on the throne was so fierce at such a young age.

She came at me again, her blade moving quickly as she tried to drive strike after strike home, waiting for a crack in my defence, her eyes eagerly scanning for an opening. Her focus on my defence gave me an opening. With one swift, sweeping kick to the ankles, the young princess went flying backwards, my blade flowing to touch her in the centre of the chest.

Talrana raised her blade from the ground to signal the end of the duel. The noise of the crowd that had been blocked out by concentration reached my ears once more. The people began to file away discussing what they had seen. I reached out my hand to pull Venetia back to her feet, which she accepted.

It struck me how mature she was for one so young and yet how free spirited. She was smiling as she dusted herself down and half-laughed. She spoke to me as she left “Next time, you shouldn’t hold back because you are afraid of showing your true abilities in front of so many.”

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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.

We’ve only got twelve days left until Christmas! If you haven’t finished shopping yet, time is running out! Today we are back in Victorian England for another of the 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow.

4th Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four colly birds

Doctor Jack Hales sat in his house sipping on a glass of sherry in front of a large fire. The doctor had done well in his life. He lived in a village that was an interesting place to live and was much more pleasant than any city he had ever visited.

He had spent the day visiting the Manchester Royal Infirmary to help the doctors with an influx of people suffering from chest infections.There had been so many this year that the doctors had been struggling to cope before Jack had arrived.

“Father, you’re back.” his son, Richard said as he walked into the library where the doctor sat.

“Yes, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” the doctor yawned and took another sip from his glass.

“Well, that’s very nice, but we weren’t expecting you back until tomorrow.” Richard said looking furtive.

“What are you up to?” the doctor frowned at his oldest son.

“Nothing.” Richard said, trying to sound off-hand.

“Where is your brother?” the doctor asked as he put down his sherry and leaned forward on his knees.

“Nowhere.” Richard replied too quickly.

“You always were a terrible liar.” the doctor tutted.

“Please, don’t ruin things, father. Promise me you won’t ask any questions and that you will stay here until we come and get you.” Richard begged.

“Fine, but if whatever the two of you are up to gets Constable Evans coming to visit us again, your lives won’t be worth living.” the doctor warned.

Richard disappeared from the room quickly and the doctor picked up his sherry again. He loved his sons dearly. He had raised them alone as his wife had died giving birth to his youngest son, Gordon. Richard was almost thirty in age and was training to be a doctor. He had tried a few different career paths before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps. Gordon was in his mid-twenties and training to be a lawyer. Both boys had applied themselves to their studies and the doctor was proud of them, though he rarely expressed such emotion.

The two boys, though studious, also had a knack for getting into trouble. They often argued over the same girls, and though neither seemed inclined to marry, they were in and out of love as often as the moon changed.

In the next room, the doctor could hear shuffling and the odd expletive being uttered as his two sons worked on whatever surprise it was that they had in store. The doctor had an uneasy feeling about it all, but he was a man of his word, so he waited patiently until Gordon and Richard came to fetch him.

The two boys were grinning as they led their father into the next room where there was a coup of four blackbirds sat by the windows.

“What is this?” the doctor asked.

“Well, you said that you always waiting birds to send messages with to the hospital to save on sending messengers from the village. So we went into Chester and found these.” Gordon smiled.

“We thought they’d be less likely to be shot at that pigeons. Not many people like colly bird pie round here.” Richard grinned.

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.

 

We’re jumping back to Celadmore today with more from the diary of Caslo Morgan from the Chronicles of Celadmore. This is the third journal entry from his New Year diary (there’s no Christmas in Celadmore), the first journal entry was published in 7th Day of Advent and the 2nd on 10th Day of Advent if you want to catch up.

2650GL 15th Spregan

We have been in the capital now for three days. The whole city seems awash with excitement at the presence of some many of the royal family at one time and the arrival of the legendary warriors of the Eight.

When we made our way through the streets towards the castle, the streets were lined with people cheering and throwing flowers. Shammah led Maharai, Helez and Jashobeam with more pride and dignity than I thought possible. I rode behind them and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible…I wasn’t all together very successful. Being brought to the island by order of the Elders and being known as the man who saved the life of Prince Radow isn’t really the best way to avoid being the subject of gossip. That and news of my appointment to ride with the Eight seemed to have somehow managed to reach the city of Anamoore ahead of us.

When we reached the castle there were two people waiting on the steps that I hadn’t seen before. Shammah clearly recognised them as he saluted and dismounted as he reached them. They were introduced to the rest of our party as Tusala and Hisanda. The two of them had been chosen by Shammah as the next to ride with the Eight and had been asked to meet him here to be inspected by Queen Annalia. Shammah had chosen them both as candidates to join long before Elika and Elhanan had fallen in battle. After their deaths he had contacted both of them and asked them to meet him at the castle.

Tusala struck me as very young to be riding as one of the Eight, she is barely over the age of 14, but Shammah’s judgement has been impeccable in recognising those that are worthy of riding with the Eight.

This was the first time that I had ever been to Castle Anamoore. The building itself was impressive beyond reckoning, the palace in Queteria and the palace of Ice and Light though beautiful and ornate were a complete contrast to Castle Anamoore. The whole castle was designed for battle, from the narrow streets that led up to it, to the heavy barred doors at every entrance.

Lining the entrance hall to the castle were more royal guards than I have ever seen in my life. Each of them shone more brightly in their armour than the spires of the palace of the Ice and Light, it was almost blinding. Shammah, Tusala and Hisanda were called before Queen Annalia so the rest of us were shown into guest quarters to wait until we were called for.

The princess Venetia was the one who led us through the maze of corridors in the castle. She was seven years old, a mere slip of a girl and yet she was shown more respect by the warriors that we passed than any other living member of the Order. She already wore her own blade, the Clambria Yesma; she had proven herself in battle beside those that now saluted her as she walked. She strode through her home with a stature that comes to warriors after years of forging reputations in the fires of war.

She is the only member of the royal line that seems to be in residence besides Queen Annalia. Lady Morrigan is not in the city, neither is Lady Gekendra. The gossips in Queteria, though normally accurate in their information, seem to be misinformed on this occasion.

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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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And with the 11th day of advent, we are bringing you Siren’s reprise of the 12 Days of Christmas, but rather than what Fred has given to her, it’s what the city has given to her.

If you want to find out more about the Siren books – you can do so here.

12 Days of Christmas Reprise

On the first day of Christmas, the city gave to me, all the shreds of Fred’s dignity.

On the second day of Christmas, the city gave to me, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of Fred’s dignity.

On the third day of Christmas, the city gave to me, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of Fred’s dignity.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of Fred’s dignity.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the city gave to me, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, eight irritating clients, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, nine deadbeat boyfriends, eight irritating clients, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, ten packs of cigarettes, nine deadbeat boyfriends, eight irritating clients, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the city gave to me, eleven day’s at Harry’s, ten packs of cigarettes, nine deadbeat boyfriends, eight irritating clients, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the city gave to me, twelve bitter arguments, eleven day’s at Harry’s, ten packs of cigarettes, nine deadbeat boyfriends, eight irritating clients, seven faulty firearms, six life-threatening situations, five new enemies, four weeks without heat, three nights in hospital, two gunshot wounds and all the shreds of his dignity.

It’s nice to see that at least the city and Fred can agree on one thing

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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It’s just over two weeks until Christmas now, and the advent calendar continues merrily on. Today we are back in the realm of Celadmore with the 2nd diary entry from Caslo Morgan.

2650GL 11th Sprengan

I was brought before the Elders this morning. They started by presenting me with all my faults and short comings that they had noted during my training. Three hours later the Eight were brought in. Shammah was still clearly taking the loss of his brother to heart, but his grief did nothing to diminish his stature as a warrior. His entrance into the council hall was enough to impress even Queen Annalia herself; silence enveloped the room as he stepped into it. Not a soul dared to breathe as he passed by, the effect of having a living legend before those that have only heard of the war is something that I cannot even begin to describe.

Mordecai, one of the Elders, told me that the final part of my training was to ride as part of the Eight, that when the time came for my task to begin I would be called for. That riding as one of the Eight is my final test made me worried, for the first time since I arrived on the homeland, as to what my task actually would be. Not even the gossips that seem to know of every move that every soldier on the mainland makes know what it is I am being trained for.

Shammah did not look impressed that I was to join his company. It is hard to describe the look of disgust that filled his face when I was presented to him as a new member of the Eight. Before now, the Elders have not been the ones to choose who rides as one of the Eight. It has always been the leader who has suggested warriors to the royal line and vice versa, the members being chosen by the consensus. The Elders have been scrambling for years to have more power, to even place themselves as equals to the royal line. Fortunately King Marlo is too strong a man to allow them to take too much and Queen Annalia could disband them upon a whim if she desired, but still the idea that they are slowly chipping away at the structure of our government makes them no better than Valians in my opinion.

I have not been introduced to the other members of the Eight. Eleazar and Tulsana will not be riding with the Eight any longer either. Tulsana died this morning and went to join Elika and Elhanan in Halsanda. By Arala’s will, Eleazar lives and is growing stronger, but it will be many months before he is fit to fight again.

I am to travel with Shammah, Maharai, Helez and Jashobeam to Castle Anamoore to meet with Queen Annalia to discuss who will be replacing those that have fallen. The gossips have reported that Lady Morrigan and all the young princesses of the Order will also be there.

With the amount of supposedly secret and confidential information that is being openly discussed on the streets of Queteria, I wonder at how inept the spies of the other nations of Celadmore really are when they know nothing of our activities.

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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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It’s getting ever close to Christmas and today we are back in Viking Denmark for another short tale about the snow in Ribe. If you enjoy this take and the other short story from the Children of Ribe universe, there are some discounted book gift sets that include digital and paperback copies of the books and A3 posters that make ideal gifts for children and adults who haven’t grown up yet, available exclusively from our Etsy Store.

First Snow Fall in Ribe

The mead hall in Ribe was full of men, women and children. The sound of laughter and celebrating echoed out of the town and out across the lands beyond. Pav stood on the wall that they had built around the town to defend against the invading armies from Hedeby and Schleswig. The lights from their campfires dotted the landscape, glowing in the dark of the night and giving the old warrior and unsettled feeling in his stomach.

The snow had fallen and driven back the armies to the shelter of forests that surrounded the town. The animals had all been driven out and the snow had made it virtually impossible for the army to forage for anything in the forest. There were other dangers that lurked in the trees like trolls, wolves and bandits. If the armies of Hedeby and Schleswig were foolish enough to remain in the woods during the winter they wouldn’t be in any state to assault the town in force come the first thaw of spring.

“Any signs of movement out there?” Kaleb asked as he joined his father on the wall.

“No, everything is quiet, just as you’d expect. No one is stupid enough to try and launch an attack against these walls when the snow is knee deep.” Pav replied gruffly.

“How many fires have you counted?” Kaleb asked as he warmed his hands in the bracer that stood beside him.

“Too many to count, rising smoke from denser parts of the forest too. Impossible to know how many warriors they’ve got there,” Pav sighed, “how are the preparations going?”

“Well, Axel and Frigg have the fires burning hot enough to keep me forging from now until Ragnarok.” Kaleb said with a grim expression of his face.

“There were plenty of blades left on the corpses now covered by snow.” Pav shook his head sadly.

“The cost of war we pay in the lives of the young. You told me that when I was begging you to tell me heroic stories from the tribe wars.” Kaleb said patting his father on the shoulder.

“All those lives lost because Viggo has lost his mind and now calls himself king.”

“We’ve loaded the bodies into the boats and they are ready to burn – children of Ribe, Hedeby and Schleswig alike.” Kaleb tried to console his father.

“We’ll sing songs of this day for generations to come, of the madness of ‘King’ Viggo and how the first snow of winter held him here and broke the spirit of his army.” Pav said.

“You don’t think he’ll retreat?” Kaleb frowned.

“No, his queen is here and all those that would consider themselves elders of both Hedeby and Schleswig. None of them have the wisdom or experience in war that would tell them returning home until the spring thaw is the only sensible thing to do. They’ll be starving in a few weeks, and those that don’t starve will fall prey to the wolves.” Pav growled.

“At least with their attention focused on us, the children have a better chance.” Kaleb sighed and looked up at the sky. There wasn’t a single star to be seen, so think was the cloud.

“It’ll snow again soon. I hope they’re keeping themselves warm.” Pav smiled to himself.

“Erland knows how to keep a fire burning, even in the heaviest rain. They’ll be warm enough.” Kaleb closed his eyes and tried to not think about passing the whole winter without any word of how his son fared.

“They were meant to search for the arm rings, just as we were meant to stand on this wall and hold back the tides of war.” Pav said warmly.

“Then we must all do what the gods have put before us and trust that when the spring thaw comes, our children will be home again.” Frigg said as she joined her husband and her father-in-law on the wall.

“Brave the cold of winter’s nights, bear our heavy hearts on high, for the sun will shine once more when spring is here again.” Pav recited and turned his attention to the blazing glow of the hundreds of fires that sprinkled the dark, snow covered lands of Ribe.

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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