Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Long Way 'Til November

Although most of my posts on this blog are about the Middle Ages, I also reserve the right, as its creator, to talk about my stories.

And I've just released a new ebook!  It's called A Long Way 'Til November, and it's a novella (short novel), set in the world of Yurt.



Here's the description:
"A wizard, a witch, and a bishop in disguise, all off on a road trip in a gypsy caravan. What could possibly go wrong? 
But a pleasant autumn excursion for Daimbert the wizard quickly turns dark when accusations of ritual murder begin to fly and a schoolgirl turns up missing…. 
This novella (short novel) is intended both to introduce new readers to the Royal Wizard of Yurt series and (I hope!) to give reading enjoyment to old friends."

Here the link to buy in on Amazon-US (or .com if you prefer). It's also available on other national Amazons, as well as other ebook platforms.  I'm considering making a paperback to include all three Yurt novellas.

The story mostly takes place in a city on top of a ridge. which is why I chose for the cover my photo of Turenne, a city on a ridge in the southern Auvergne.  In the overall Yurt chronology, the story takes place between "Daughter of Magic" and "Is This Apocalypse Necessary?"  For those who would like to see more of the duchess's daughters, they are major characters.

Here's the opening of the story.  Enjoy!

The caravan was painted yellow, with red trim and door and bright green wheels.  I loved it at once.
“I wouldn’t sell it so cheaply,” the Romney man commented, “except that we’re leaving in two days, and we won’t need it any more now that my old aunt has passed on, and we’ve got her much bigger caravan.”
I walked around it slowly, trying to pretend that I was not already imagining myself driving it off into the red sky of sunset.  I doubted he was convinced.
“You can have the pony, too, included in the price,” he added.  A pony, I thought.  We would need something to pull it.  The man was smiling, but the pony looked at me with open suspicion.
“So where are you heading next?” I asked to have something to say, trying to keep from blurting out, “I’ll take it at once!”
He smiled, teeth white against his dark skin.  “South, of course.  Cold weather is coming on.”  The September wind was indeed cool, blowing across the trampled grass of the Romney encampment as evening came on.  “We like to spend the winter somewhere without as much snow.  We have a big meeting, Romneys from all over, every year in November down in the south.  Now you might think it’s a long way ’til November, but we don’t like to hurry.  We take it slow.”
Take is slow, I thought.  I needed to do that more myself.  Just wander across the countryside, without obligations or demands.  I had another vision, rolling down the road in this charming caravan behind the pony.  In this vision it was morning, and slanting autumnal rays of sun warmed us.  The trees would be touched with orange and yellow, and we would be eating apples.  Theodora of course was sitting beside me.  “How do I know this caravan is in good shape?” I managed to ask.
He cocked an eyebrow at me.  “Aren’t you a wizard?  Shouldn’t your spells tell you what’s under the surface?  It’s nice and clean.  And as you can see, we’ve just painted it.”
“Of course, of course,” I said.  I needed someone who knew something about caravans, not spells.  But I tried probing magically, looking for cracks and rust.  I didn’t find any, but then I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.  A demonic influence I would have spotted at once, but who knew what springs were supposed to look like.  Were wheels always attached like this?
The Romney glanced at me sideways from shadowed eyes.  “If you’re unsure, don’t feel you have to take it.  I’m certain we’ll find a buyer before we leave.  One of the shopkeepers was saying he could use it for an extra showroom.  He’ll be looking it over later this evening.”
That did it.  “I’ll take it!”
He looked almost disappointed.  Perhaps I was supposed to bargain more.  But I could not bear to see this beautiful travel caravan made into an extra showroom for some shopkeeper.
At least I had the sense to say that I would wait and give him the money tomorrow, when I had arranged a place to store both the caravan and the pony.  I didn’t entirely trust him not to disappear overnight.  We shook hands on the agreement, and I hurried back through the gates into the little walled city of Caelrhon.
Theodora’s house was on a quiet cobbled street in the artisans’ quarter.  The lamplighters were at work, and curtained windows shone yellow.  The new tower of the cathedral church rose above the housetops, dark against the darkening sky.  This late in the day, the workers had come down from the scaffolding, and I could smell the sausages on their cooking fires.
I burst into Theodora’s house, too eager to tell her about the caravan even to notice that the smells from the kitchen were just as good.  I just knew that my wife would be as thrilled about this as I was.

I was wrong.

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