Now you might remember that Pfoxmoor Publishing took on my novella series, “The Tower and The Eye“, but unfortunately, due to problems beyond Pfoxmoor’s control, they had to close down their business.
I learned a lot about writing and Publishing from my time at Pfoxmoor and I wish Diane Nelson all the best in her new venture, Pubwrite Manuscript Services and I can recommend her editing services without reservation.
All of this meant that I had to republish the first book in the series, “TTATE: A Beginning” – so I started with a read through, just to check everything was up to scratch. Then I edited a little, to change some things that I felt might be difficult on the copyright front; the reason being, that there were a lot of cases floating around the internet about authors being sued or attacked for using things that were similar to an existing, bigger franchise, so I wanted to protect myself.
Then I decided that I needed a fresh look for the cover.
This wasn’t because I didn’t like the cover that Pfoxmoor had published it with – on the contrary, I loved it. I just wanted to make it feel like a new edition of the story – considering the changes I had made – so I went to Elizabeth Bank of Selestiele Designs and asked her to come up with a new idea for the cover based on the original.
When the design came back to me, I loved it as much as the cover Sessha did –
Then finally, I got it primped, polished and ready to go… Here’s an excerpt to remind you what it’s like:
They had been in the treasure room for nearly two hours.
Loric had relaxed his guard and idly watched Silvertree examining a large emerald the size of Loric’s fist with an eyeglass. Grimhelm had found four matching rubies and was sifting through another pile to find a fifth one, as a wedding present for his sister, he claimed.
Kalytia was the only person who had not relaxed. She was getting more and more stressed as the evil that permeated the stones of the dungeon affected her.
“Please can we get this crystal and get out of here!” she pleaded for the tenth time.
“Just a bit longer,” Grim muttered.
“Relax, Lady Cleric. There is nothing to worry about, this place is deserted.” Thiert said, grinning at her.
It didn’t help.
Loric frowned. Earlier the thief had been advocating a quick get-away, now he seemed content to plunder the dungeon. What’s going on? It’s like the treasure trove in here has them hypnotised. He watched Thiert select his route through the room, and over to the biggest pile of gems.
At the very top of the pile was a massive Fire Opal, twice the size of the large emerald Silvertree had in his hands.
“My Gods!” the thief exclaimed. “I have to have that one.”
“Be careful!” Loric barked as Thiert reached up, balancing precariously on one foot.
Grimhelm and Silvertree looked round as the rascal got the gem, but tumbled onto the pile of treasure underneath it. He lay there, sliding the gem into his pouch and grinned weakly when he saw them all looking down at him. As he turned over and sat up, the gems behind him slid down and Kalytia saw the top of an alarm trap under him.
“Thiert! Stay still, you’ve sat on a trap!” she called.
The thief froze. His hood slid back off his head, exposing the tattoo Loric had seen earlier in the Inn and Silvertree gasped.
“A spell tattoo!” The elf moved closer to examine it.
That ink is definitely darker than it was earlier. Loric frowned. “What do you mean a spell tattoo?”
“I sent you books about Aracan Katuvana when you started researching this quest. Didn’t you read them?” Silvertree frowned at his pupil.
“Well, sort of.” Loric looked down, squirming slightly. “The ones I read had more stories in them than anything else.”
“You always were an indifferent student Loric, preferring fantasy to history.” Silvertree sighed. “Your brother paid far more attention to what I was teaching than you did.”
“Explain it, Mage; don’t have a go at the lad.” Grimhelm said slipping a fifth ruby into his pouch and tying it back on his belt.
“When the Aracan Katuvana was in power, those humans who accepted his rule or sold him their soul were tattooed with a thorny branch that extended up their left arm, up their neck and around their left eye.” Silvertree turned to look at the thief, considering. “The only difference between the two types of human servants was that those who had accepted his rule had tiny black roses in-between the thorns. Those fully possessed by him had red roses. ”
Loric looked back at Thiert. The tattoo he had glimpsed on the back of the thief’s right hand had been a thorny branch and now that the rogue’s hood was down, he could see the tattoo ran up the left side of his neck, across his forehead to curl around his right eye socket. There were no tiny black roses between the thorns. “So you sold your soul to the Aracan Katuvana, did you?”
“You don’t understand. When I was a tiny child, my parents couldn’t afford to keep me so they left me on the doorstep of the nearest Guild they could find. Unfortunately it was the Thieves and Swindlers Guild and though they took me in, they also sold my soul to the Dark Ones to make the guild rise in status. Two days ago this appeared.” Thiert sounded distraught.
“I knew we couldna trust ye!” Grimhelm snarled drawing his hammer and advancing on the man.
Kalytia went white and took three steps forward, her right hand outstretched as if trying to stop the dwarf from doing anything. Her foot slipped on the gold scattered across the floor and she fell, hitting her head on the floor.
She didn’t move.
Silvertree scrambled across to her and Grim turned to try and help.
Loric could hear something coming from the door behind him. As the noise got louder, a foul stench filled the air. He turned, raising his sword and shouted “There’s something…” but he never finished his sentence.
The south door burst open and the fattest demon Loric had ever seen stood there with two more behind it. The creature waddled in and Loric backed up as he realised that the smell was coming from the demon. As it advanced, it farted, each step releasing a cloud of gas that made him gag. Use the gas mask, he told himself, pulling the red mask from his pocket. One handed, he managed to get it over his head while holding his sabre out in front of him. Good. Now what do we do?
Once the demons were in the room, they spread out, not caring what they trod on. Loric didn’t dare take his eyes off them to find out what his companions were doing. He brought his shield round from his back and slipped it onto his arm, praying fervently.
The demons roared and shook their heads, rattling the Flails attached to their long horns. He backed up further, until he bumped into Thiert who was still half lying on the alarm trap.
“Duck, Loric!” Silvertree yelled and the prince dropped to the floor. A green fireball flew through the air where his head had been and hit the centre demon. It lodged in the creature’s stomach for a few minutes and the other two demons crowded round to examine the wound. They appeared puzzled and the injured demon poked at it with one long, dirty fingernail.
The fireball contracted slightly and Silvertree called out, “Stay down!” as it expanded rapidly.
The injured demon was torn into bloody chunks, throwing the other two demons through the air and into the side walls. The audible snap as they hit the walls indicated that their necks had broken. The bodies slid down to lie still on the treasure.
Loric barely had time to blink before a horde of tiny Gremlins wearing dirty red tabards rushed into the room through the east door, cleared up the bodies and rushed away shouting “Hup, Hup, Hup,” at the top of their voices through the opposite door. The door slammed shut behind them and they heard a key turn in it.
“Why did they lock it?” the Prince asked no one in particular…
* * * *
Here are the links you’ll need, should you be intrigued enough to read more!
I hope y’all enjoy!