• Black as Light, Part 13

    “Please state our first request.” “Oh, yes, of course. We request the chance to live in peace. We will not bother anyone and no one must bother us. I believe Manny is next?” “Yes,” Manny said. He cleared his throat. “Secondly, we ask that you approach us in a civil manner rather than charge our home. In exchange, we will not venture into Bottlecreek for any reason whatsoever. Bede?” “We appeal to you in favor of a name amendment. We repudiate the title monsters and stipulate an alteration to said designation in order to be termed misunderstood creatures.” The king and his councilors stared at each other. “I’m sorry,” Lord…

  • Black as Light, Part 12

    We all stood on the bridge the following morning, just staring at each other. Euclid, trembling uncontrollably, was held tightly between Tanith and I. The misunderstood creatures stood in fright of the knights and the knights stood in fright of the misunderstood creatures. “Release my daughter!” King Adam said authoritatively from astride his clearly trembling stallion. “We have a proposition for you,” I called back when Eva kicked my heel. It was a hard kick, too, and it left me wishing I had worn my armor so her foot would hurt instead of mine. “We would like to negotiate a treaty with you.” I glanced over at Tanith to make…

  • Black as Light, Part 11

    “Tanith!” Eva yelled. “In here!” Tanith called back from the library, where we sat with Virgil, Drago, Manny, Bede, and Euclid. Books on diplomacy and books containing copies of hundreds of treaties lay open around us. We seven would be taking care of the treaty business, but only Tanith had any idea of what to do, which really wasn’t much. It was the day before King Adam would arrive with his army and we still had a lot to do. Eva appeared at the doorway and we all looked at her in varying states of exasperation and frustration. The preparations were not going well. “Look!” Eva cried out, holding out…

  • Black as Light, Part 10

    Walking back through Bottlecreek, I could believe that. Walking back to the Black Castle, I couldn’t. I should have gone hiding behind my couch with all the other knights and let the kings army storm the castle. But then Tanith would never forgive me. I would never hear the end of it. I sighed and just kept clunking back up the hill to the Black Castle, the White Sword hanging at my side. When I reached the doors, I paused to pull off my boots. I didn’t want Manny screaming at me about dirt on the floors, much less Eva’s scolding. Once was bad enough. I pushed open the doors…

  • Black as Light, Part 8

    “When are you going back to the castle for the sword?” Tanith asked, sitting beside me in the library. For once, the castle was quiet since Gina had gone to spend the evening with the harpies and had dragged Euclid along with her. I assumed Flavian was raiding the kitchen again for more cinnamon and Ferguson was with him, munching on some turnips Eva had allowed him to have. Eva herself was doing the dishes and doing her best to keep Flavian from finding the cinnamon. Drago was presumable out in the forest taking a walk with Bede as he usually did every night. Manny was quietly rearranging the books…

  • Black as Light, Part 7

    “We need the Gray Sword,” Tanith said to me one day when we were strawberry picking. “What?” I said, looking down at her. She was kneeling on the ground, picking the strawberries, while I followed her with the baskets. “The Gray Sword.” “Never heard of it. Why do we need it?” “It’s the only sword that can protect us, silly. And you need it since you’re our protector. It’s the only way you can protect us,” she said insistently. “And how do I get this Gray Sword?” I asked dubiously, obediently following her from plant to plant. “By combining the Black Sword with the White Sword, of course.” “Right,” I…

  • Black as Light, Part 6

    The room Eva showed me to was right across the hall from Tanith’s and, thankfully, none of the monsters were quartered in that part of the hall. They called it the “Human Visitors Quarters.” Ferguson wasn’t considered a human. He was a werewolf to them and he seemed perfectly happy about it, so it was just Tanith and I. It was actually a very nicely arranged room with soft ruby red carpet and matching heavy velvet curtains that pulled back to reveal a view of the meadow and the forest and mountains beyond. There was a wide, long bed with drapes that matched the curtains and carpet and the quilt…

  • Black as Light, Part 4

    Her face brightened and she squealed in delight. The next thing I knew, she was suddenly hugging me and asking how I liked the castle and how well Flavian was showing me around. All I could do was simply stare at her excited face. “Another human! Another human!” And with that, the zombie went zooming out of the room, looking about as frightened as I felt. I drew myself up straight a moment later and held Tanith at arms length, a serious expression on my face. “I’m here to rescue you, my princess.” She stared at me and then burst out laughing. She grasped onto my armored shoulders and her…

  • Black as Light, Part 3

    “Yes, Evadne, my dear? And what do we have here?” he said, turning to me with curious black eyes glinting in the dim hallway. “Flavian, please meet Sir Shane of Bottlecreek. He’s here looking for our Lady, the Princess Tanith. Sir Shane, this is Flavian–” “Duke, Evadne. Duke Flavian of Moors, never forget that, darling.” The ogre rolled her eyes and huffed. “Fine. Sir Shane, this is Duke Flavian of Moors. He will lead you in a tour around our castle and you’ll eventually find Tanith.” “Come along, Sir Shane of Bottlecreek.” He turned and I took a tentative step towards him. Then the vampire turned abruptly and I stopped…

  • Black as Light, Part 2

    As I neared the castle, I felt my mount stiffen beneath me and was forced to dismount since he wouldn’t move another inch. When I did dismount, he took off in the opposite direction, sliding and skidding down the hill, leaving me alone to face the castle. I recall muttering something to the effect of “imbecile, half-witted chicken horse” before squaring my shoulders as best I could beneath the clanging armor and marched through a muddy puddle to the bridge. “Okay, Shane, you’re not a chicken like that horse of yours,” I said to myself. “You’re a respectable knight out to rescue the fair princess, your best friend to boot.…