Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This is a big thank you to all who read and commented on the first three chapters of The Ultimate Evil. I hope everyone enjoyed it and all your comments helped immensely. Thanks again!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chapter Three: Hard Lessons To Learn

Here's the last chapter I'm going to share. Enjoy!

Chapter 3
Hard Lessons To Learn

"Ouch!" Aduan cried out as the maid pulled on the strings of her corset. "That’s too tight! How am I supposed to look beautiful if I’m fainting all the time because I can’t breathe?"

"Forgive me, milady," the girl said.

Another one of her ladies-in-waiting walked up to her, carrying a dress the color of the sun, but Aduan dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "I changed my mind. I wish to wear my blue gown."

She gave a curtsey. "As you wish, Your Highness." She ran and fetched the beautiful light blue dress. She and the other two ladies-in-waiting helped the princess into it. Once that was accomplished, one of them hurried to get the jewelry and the other began to brush her hair.

"Ow!" she protested as the brush went through a very thick knot. "Do you want me to be bald?"

"Of course not, Your Highness," she said. "I shall take better care."

"See that you do."

There was a knock at the door, and one of the girls rushed to open it. She walked back in saying, "Lord Taon, my lady."
Aduan sighed. Taon had said that her lessons would start today, and she was not looking forward to them. She knew that they were going to be boring. "Show him in."

The vizier walked in. "Good morning, Your Highness. Are you ready for your lessons to begin?"

"No," she said, "but I don’t think there’s any way I can prevent them."

"Not if you want to keep your throne."

"Very well." She waved her ladies away and after a curtsy they obediently shuffled out of the room. "Where shall we begin?"

"I believe he first step would be the best place to start and that is learning that a trusted and effective ruler earns the respect of the people," Taon said.

"How do I do that?" she asked as she sipped from a gold goblet. She seated herself at the vanity in her chambers and began to inspect her reflection with a critical eye, making sure it was perfect.

"You will be receiving your subjects in the throne room," he told her. "They will come to you with their stresses and troubles. I will be there, recording every one. Then, at the end of the day, we will discuss how to solve them."

"Are they all going to have troubles to talk about?"

"Perhaps not. I also must remind you that some may come with gifts."

Aduan brightened. "Like what? Silks? Velvet? Gold?"

Taon shook his head. "No, Your Highness. These are hard times for Validor, and even if they were not, the people would not bring you those types of things for there is enough in the castle. What they will bring you are fruits and vegetables, poultry, pork, beef, or honey."

The princess wrinkled her nose. "Why would I want those?"

He sighed. "The people don’t have to give you anything at all, but they do. You need to take what they give you with grace and dignity, because whatever they do bring, it is the best they have."

She sighed and stood. "Very well."

They went into the throne room. Aduan did not sit in her father’s throne, for that throne was reserved for no one but the king or queen of Validor. She sat in the one beside it and waited.

"Send the first in," Taon commanded the guard at the door as he seated himself at a small desk near Aduan’s throne. He picked up the feather pin, dipped it in the ink, and waited.

The guard opened the door, and a woman walked in, dressed in slightly worn clothing. She carried a basket filled to the brim with fresh fruit.

"You may come forward," Aduan said.

The woman obeyed and curtsied before her. "My lady," she said. "I bring fresh fruit for your table."

"Thank you," the princess said. Uncertain about what to do next, she looked at Taon, who motioned for her to get up and take the fruit from the woman. She obeyed, set the fruit down beside the throne, then sat back down. A moment of uneasy silence passed then Taon asked, "What is your trouble?"

"I do not know what can be done about this," the woman said. "The land near the western border is dying. No one settles too far into the west, milady, and of course you know the reason why."

"No, I don’t," she said. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Taon wince. She knew that she had made a mistake, but she had to continue. "Tell me."

"Why, Morlaya is on our western border, my lady. I was at the king’s funeral, God rest his soul, and I heard that awful crow. Honestly, milady, I have never been so frightened in my life! I believe we need to fight Arvil, but that is your decision and not mine to make."

"Thank you," Aduan said. "You are dismissed."

The woman paused for a moment then, with a look of irritation, gave a quick curtsey and briskly left the throne room.

The princess looked at Taon. "What did I do wrong?"

"Never admit that you do not know anything," he told her. "If you don’t know, say something along the lines of ‘Speak as if I know nothing.’ The people need to feel that you know everything that is going on around you before you will ever earn their trust."

"Is that all I did wrong?"

"No. You have seen your father do this, Aduan. You should have known to take the fruit from her."

"I forgot."

"And also, you never say ‘You are dismissed.’ When someone has finished speaking, you need to stand and kiss them on the forehead. This is a tradition that was started at the beginning of Validor’s history hundreds of years ago. Judging from her pace in departing, I do not doubt the fact that woman was highly insulted."

Aduan sighed. She thought she hadn’t been that bad. "I’m sorry."

Taon’s expression softened just a tad. "Perhaps you will do better this time."

From the west entrance into the throne room, Yeugh stood, watching the princess. After the woman left, Gallim walked up to him.

"How is it going?" the treasurer asked.

Yeugh sighed. "Not well. Aduan has no idea of what to do. She unintentionally left a woman highly insulted, and that is not the best way to start your reign."

"Indeed not," Gallim agreed as they watched Taon explain to her what she had done wrong. "Do you suppose Taon will get through to her?"

Yeugh shrugged. "It is difficult to say. I personally doubt that she can rule Validor, and today’s performance has done nothing to cause me to change my mind. What do you think?"

"I have no idea," he admitted. "Part of me wants to believe that Aduan can do it while the other part tells me that I’m waiting for some miracle that will never happen."

"Bring the next one in!" Taon called, and both Yeugh and Gallim fell silent, not wanting to be noticed. They watched as a poorly dressed farmer came down the rich red carpet, leading a fat black and white pig. He bowed before the princess. "Your Highness, I bring this pig so that you may have meat for your table."

"Thank you." Aduan stood and took the rope from the man. The pig was curious about who was now holding his leash, and he stepped up to Aduan, sniffing and sticking his face in her dress.

"Eww!" the princess shrieked. "Take this thing away!"

Taon sprang up from his desk and hastily grabbed the rope, trying to glare at the princess and apologize to the farmer at the same time. Yeugh sighed. "I believe Taon is trying to teach Aduan what she can never achieve."

"Her father was a wonderful, compassionate king," Gallim said, " and her mother was a kind soul. I know she has some of their ability in her."

Yeugh crossed his arms. "The question is, can she discover it in time?"

The two men looked at each other in silence.

* * *

Well, that was a disaster, Taon thought after Aduan had seen two more people and insulted them as well.
"Am I going to see any more of my subjects today?" she asked.

"No," he told her. He couldn’t risk it. Aduan had a bad enough reputation already.

"Good," she said. "Now I shall go and change out of this dress. That stupid pig made it absolutely filthy!" She left the throne room briskly.

Once she was gone, Taon leaned his elbows on the desk and rubbed his tired eyes. He heard footsteps and looked up to see Yeugh walking toward him.

"Yes, Sir Yeugh?"

"I watched the. . .proceedings with interest," the knight said.

Taon sat up straighter. "Indeed?"

"Yes," he said and smiled a little. He walked up and sat on the edge of the desk, crossing his arms. "What were the people’s troubles? I couldn’t hear everything from where I was."

Taon sighed and looked at the paper. "Every single person complained about land dying near the western border. I believe I shall ride out there and see it for myself."

"You know why the land is dying, don’t you, Taon? It is because Arvil will soon launch his war and he’s starting by frightening the people. And what will be done about it? Nothing!"

Taon’s eyes narrowed. "Where are you going with this, Yeugh?"

Yeugh leaned forward. "Don’t wait the one month to teach Aduan everything she needs to know. We need an effective ruler now, one who will take action."

"The Council agreed—"

"We have more than enough evidence to present before the Council to prove that Aduan is incapable of ruling. There is no one who will vote in her favor, except for, perhaps, you."

"I will not give up on Aduan so easily, Sir Yeugh. I was closer to her father than anyone, and I promised him that I would teach her."

"So you are willingly putting your friendship with the king over Validor’s safety?" Taon did not reply but seemed startled by the question. Yeugh stood. "Think about it."

He left the room.

* * *

After Yeugh left the throne room, Taon went down to the stables and ordered one of the stable boys to saddle his horse. The boy obeyed, then helped the advisor to mount the powerful white stallion.

Taon cantered off the castle grounds and through the countryside of Validor, going to the western border. As he traveled through the different villages, some people stopped their tasks to bow as he rode past. The people did not trust Aduan, but they trusted Taon, and he held that dear; however, he wished that the people could trust their princess to care for and help them. The people of Validor were good, simple folk who wouldn’t give up too easily on their princess. But all knew of Arvil’s threat of war, and Taon was certain that the people were only going to allow Aduan so much time to become what she needed to be before they started demanding a new ruler from the Council.

Taon had been riding for two hours when he noticed odd patches of dying grass scattered about. Another hour of riding brought him deep into the western side of Validor, and he rode among dead and dying grass, trees, and other types of foliage. He pulled his stallion to a halt, listening and watching. No birds sang or flew in the sky, no squirrels sat in the trees, and there was no hum of insects. Taon dismounted and looked at the ground. It was dry, cracked, and hard as if it hadn’t rained for months. No ants scurried about. He sniffed the wind and smelled nothing but decaying foliage.

Suddenly, the white stallion shivered and half-reared, whinnying, his eyes bulging and nostrils flaring with fright. Taon grabbed the reins and patted his horse’s neck. "Easy, boy, easy," he soothed. The horse quieted under his touch.
Taon knew what had upset the stallion, for he had felt it as well. For a moment, he had been unable to feel anything except evil all around him. He climbed back into the saddle and rode back to the castle, his fears confirmed. The dead and dying land was Arvil’s doing, and it was not going to stop until it covered the entire land of Validor.

When Taon came back to the castle, he found Aduan in her chambers. "There you are," she said. "I was wondering where you were."

"I was out at the western border, my lady," he said.

Aduan turned sharply to him, her brilliant blue eyes flashing with anger. "I did not give you permission to leave the castle."

"With all due respect, Your Highness, I do not need your permission. It is my duty to investigate all of the people’s troubles, therefore, I did not need to ask you for permission to leave the castle." Another thing you would know if you would only study.

"Oh," she said, remembering that indeed was true. "Well, what were the people’s troubles?"

Taon was slightly shocked, though he didn’t know why. He should have expected this. "You have forgotten the problems of your people?"

"They seemed trivial to me at the time and, therefore, I deemed them not worthy of remembrance. I ask now merely out of curiosity."

"What is wrong among your people is something you should always know; that way we can do something to fix it."

Aduan sighed, showing her complete boredom. She truly did not care about the people. "Are you going to tell me what the peasants troubles are, or do I need to dismiss you?"

Taon closed his fists in anger. "Never refer to your people as ‘peasants.’ To satisfy your curiosity, everyone expressed concern about the western border, and I must admit, I am concerned about it as well."

"How so?"

"While I was there, I felt a sharp sense of evil. It was very near. The foliage is either dead or dying, no animals—not even insects—were present. The ground was very hard and dry, as if it hadn’t rained for two months, and we had rain only last week."

"Perhaps we didn’t have any out there," the princess said. "And about that sense of evil, I believe you were imagining things."

"My horse felt it as well and was spooked."

"A great many things will spook a horse. I don’t think the western border is of any concern."

"I know all this is Arvil’s doing," he argued.

"And I feel that it is not."

Taon raised his voice. "Your Highness—"

"This discussion is at an end!" she yelled.

For a moment, Aduan and Taon just stood, staring into each other’s eyes, both furious with the other. "Very well, Your Highness," he said through clenched teeth. He bowed and left.

* * *

The next day, Taon decided that Aduan should study before she tried again to meet the people. Until he deemed her capable, he would receive the people himself. He knocked on the door to her chambers, and one of her ladies-in-waiting answered. He stated that he wished an audience with the princess, and the girl conveyed his request to Aduan, who granted it.

"That will be all for now," Aduan told her ladies as Taon walked in. They curtsied before her and left.

Taon bowed. "I do hope your anger towards me has diminished."

"It has," she told him. "Rise and tell me what you have come for."

"Your lessons, my lady."

She sighed. "Very well. Let us sit." She walked over to a small table and sat, indicating for Taon to sit across from her.

"I have decided that you need to be taught how to act like a princess, for it is very similar to how a good queen should act."

"But why must I be taught how to act like a princess when I am a princess?"

"Answer this question. What is a princess, who is she?"

"She is the daughter of a king and queen, destined to rule if no male heirs are born."

"That is the. . .technical definition," Taon said. "I mean her characteristics."

"Characteristics are different in one person than another. You know that, Taon."

"Yes, but there are several characteristics that every princess needs to have."

Aduan was intrigued. "Like what?"

"A princess must be noble, carrying herself with dignity and poise. When she speaks, she carefully chooses her words and exercises control over her emotions, never getting overly excited or angry. She makes choices based on what is right, not how she feels. She is selfless and humble, thinking only of others and focusing on their needs. She listens attentively and seeks and accepts advice when she thinks it sound. She never demands nor expects special treatment. She must always be trusting, forgiving, faithful, respectable, and admirable."

Aduan lowered her eyes and thought for a moment. "I never knew that’s what a princess should act like." She looked back up at Taon. "This is not going to be easy."

"And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not all that it will take for you."

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

"Most times, when a princess is your age, she knows all the laws of her land, is able to receive her people without insulting them, has the people’s love, respect, and trust. She also knows how to handle herself in difficult situations and stand firm no matter what. She cannot be ignorant, immature, or easily swayed. She must be a strong leader, powerful and bold. She must be able to effectively rule her country with dignity, knowledge, and grace."

"Is that all?"

Taon shook his head. "No. You must memorize the laws of Validor and familiarize yourself with the different statuses of your people. You must learn how to effectively command those who serve you. You must also learn how to defend your country and learn just how important it is to be prepared when there is threat of war."

Aduan laughed. "Oh, Taon, do you still think that Arvil is going to attack us? It has been rumored that he will attack us and possibly Excadious and Shaldothe for over three hundred years. I don’t think there is any reason for worry."

Taon sighed, wondering how she could so easily dismiss the warning given to them by the crow. "Very well. I will discuss this with you no more for now. At this time, it is more important that you understand what is expected of you and that you learn it."

"I told you I would try."

"To be honest, so far, you haven’t been trying hard enough." When Aduan’s cheek’s flamed red and her eyes flashed with anger at the insult, Taon raised his hand. "I know you took what I just said as an insult, but you must be told the truth if you are to learn anything, no matter how much it hurts. If you do not learn enough in less than one month’s time, the Council will vote you off the throne."

"They will not!" she stated. "It is mine by privilege and birth!"

"But it is also a responsibility, and one that you have neglected to claim. If you do not, then your throne will be taken from you and someone else will claim it."

Aduan slammed her fist on the table. "No!"

"Then you must be willing to learn."


Taon thought a moment. Then he said, "Tomorrow, in the early morning, I would like to take you somewhere. Have your ladies-in-waiting pack some warm clothes for you."

"Where are we going?" she asked eagerly.

He only smiled and did not answer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chapter Two: Princess Aduan--Incapable Leader

Here's chapter two. Enjoy!


Chapter Two
Princess Aduan—Incapable Leader

It was a cold night in Morlaya. The wind whistled through the dark trees, an unspeakable fear groaning on it, traveling to every corner of the land. The sky, void of both moon and stars, was as ebony as the wings of the crow that was gliding through the heavens, cawing unceasingly.

Dark Ones walked in their oppressive land, their evil mounting with every step. Their black eyes gleamed with anger and hatred. They were ready to fight and slaughter whoever dared step in their way.

The tallest landmark in this land was Black Peak Mountain. Its sides were steep and slippery and it was up these treacherous slopes that a lone soldier was daring to climb. He had urgent news for his king and tried to ascend quickly, but he lost his footing on loose shale. He nearly fell down the steep sides, but righted himself and, not for the first time, cursed the mountain. But before he could continue his journey, a shadow landed in front of him and he recognized her as Janaan.

Janaan was an Excadian and as such, she was a born warrior. The soldier knew that they had excellent skill with any weapon. He admired her hawk-like wings that allowed her to travel quickly and easily.

"What is your reason for climbing the mountain?" She asked, placing her hand on the hilt of her sword. If the soldier failed to have a legitimate reason, she would kill him, as was her right in the laws her master had laid for his land.

"I have urgent news for our king."

Janaan raised an eyebrow. "Of great importance?"

"In the extreme!"

"Very well. Relay your news to me, and I shall deliver it to him."

The soldier obeyed. Janaan nodded once and flew to the one whose danger surpassed the mountain’s. She headed towards the terror that lingered in Dark Castle, which sat on the peak.

The castle had dark, imposing wooden doors with accents of black iron. The smallest flicker of light did not escape the gothic style windows. Seven towers rose from the main level of the castle. Black flags stood on top of each tower. These flags, caught in the chilling breeze and whipped relentlessly by the wind, brought little comfort to the soul.

The cold onyx walls served only to warn of the danger inside. This hideous place was the home to Arvil, King of the Dark Ones.

The only subjects who lived with Arvil were his most loyal ones. But proud as they were to be living in the castle, they trembled in constant fear.

Fear of their king.

Arvil was the most powerful Unicorn alive, born with the amazing gift of shape shifting, able to morph into any form he wished. His subjects were terrified of disappointing him. He had a reputation of slaughtering bystanders when he let his temper control him.

Arvil stood in the tallest tower in Dark Castle. He held his head and tail high. His long, thick mane hung over both sides of his neck. His heavily muscled body bore several battle scars. Half of his golden horn had been chopped off at an angle, and numerous chips and dents scarred its surface. His most terrifying scar was on the left side of his face that traveled from the corner of his eye down to his lip, twisting his mouth into a permanent scowl that showed off chipped white teeth.

He was a frightening being, his most terrifying feature being his eyes. They were darker than his body, and against his ebony coat they gave him a ghoulish appearance. He radiated with the type of evil that lurks in nightmares. He was a son of darkness who bathed in the terror he projected. There were many who believed that Arvil was the devil himself and they shook in fear at the mere mention of his name.

His chamber was round with only one window. No torches were in the room for Arvil preferred the shadows. He almost disappeared in the blackness, except for his heavy gold horn. No light at all hit the horn, but somehow it still glowed brightly.

This room was private. No one was allowed entrance without his permission. Usually, he walked all over the castle, feeling the terror he had instilled in his subjects, but for the past few days he had kept to himself. Only one week ago, the king of Validor had died. That same day Arvil had sent out his threat of invasion. But everyone knew that it was more than a threat. It was a promise and it had sent the people into a panic. The evil King smiled at the thought. He knew that there were those who wanted to destroy him, but that was not possible. He was the most powerful creature in history—how could anyone defeat him? There had been one who had tried and that was why Arvil had kept his battle scars—to remind all that no one could destroy him, and to haunt that one when they met again.

Someone knocked on the door to his chamber. Arvil looked at the door and said, "Open." The door obeyed and Janaan stood in the doorway. Her skin-tight black armor moved silently with her body, and her long black hair swayed from side to side as she approached him.

Janaan’s parents had come to Arvil from Excadious before she had even been born and pledged their allegiance to him. Janaan had grown up in Morlaya, never seeing her true home. Out of all the Excadians loyal to him, Arvil preferred Janaan. Although she was young, her mind and her skill were at the level of someone much more experienced and aged. Arvil sensed great promise in her.

"What do you have to report?" Arvil asked her in his deep, rough voice.

"The Council of Validor has just met," she told him. "Princess Aduan refused to attend."

"Indeed?" the Dark One King said. "I thought she might not."

"Could it be because she is in mourning for her father?" the Excadian asked.

Arvil nodded. "That and the fact that she does not think council meetings are important. She wishes to rule her land, but she has never been trained. She has been raised to live in comfort and have everything her heart desires. This is exactly the type of ruler I have been waiting for. One who will not stand against me, one who will not ruin my plans." He snorted. "As if anyone could!"

"Of course, my lord," Janaan said. "But it is rumored that Aduan has a strong will. There is a chance, however slight, that she may pose a threat to you."

"She is only human and, like every other being, below my hold on power."

"I still advise caution, my liege," she said. "Also, it may be advisable to send a few spies into Validor. Taon is going to start training the princess in what she needs to know in order to become queen. It may help us to know how she will accept it."

"A good suggestion, Janaan," Arvil said. "But why send a spy when I can go?"

In the blink of an eye, Arvil shifted from a Unicorn to a common crow. He jumped into the air and flew out the open window, heading to the land where the leaves were green.

* * *

Taon waited for Aduan in the office that had once been her father’s. He paced the room impatiently, several scrolls tucked under his arm. The princess had agreed to meet him here at nine o’clock, and she was an hour late.

At last the doors opened and Aduan walked in, dressed in a long flowing gown that was a bit too formal for the day. Her bronze hair grew to past her shoulders and had been left down. She had beauty of such magnitude that it had earned her the name Validor’s Treasure. Taon only wished that her spirit inside matched the outside.

"My lady," he said, bowing before her. "We had scheduled our meeting for nine."

"I am perfectly aware of that," she said. That statement told Taon that she did not care that she was late and wished to continue as if she had arrived on time, offering no excuse for her delay.

The princess seated herself at the large desk that had been her father’s and was now hers. She looked up at Taon, waiting for him to begin his speech.

"Your Highness," he said, "as you know, Arvil has sent out his warning of invasion, which means that the war we have dreaded for so long will soon be upon us. Now, if I may direct your attention to this map. . ."

He set the scrolls down on the desk and unrolled one in front of her. It was a map showing the lands of the world. "Validor is the only land that borders Morlaya. If we fall, then he can proceed to Excadious, and then Shaldothe, the land of Unicorns."

Aduan waved her hand impatiently. "Why do you bore me with these petty details?"

"They are not petty, Your Highness. If we do not find a way to stop Arvil, then the world that we know will be lost. Arvil will take over our lands and our lives. We will be slaves to his will, helpless, with no one to come to our aid. The time for action has come!"

Aduan leaned back in the large chair. "And what action would you suggest?"

"More intensive training of our army. Border patrols. Try sending a spy within Arvil’s domain."

The princess began to laugh. "Dear, dear, Taon," she said. "You really are wasting your time. People have been afraid of Arvil declaring war for over three centuries. If he hasn’t attacked by now, he never will."

"But, Your Highness—"

She slammed her hand down on the desk. "I will hear no more of this!"

Taon stepped back and bowed in apology.

"You are dismissed," the princess said.

"As you wish," he said. He gathered his scrolls, bowed again, then left the room, feeling frustration grow in his heart.
Neither Taon nor the princess had noticed the crow that had landed on the stone windowsill. Once the vizier left the room he took off, his cawing sounding much like laughter. And if anyone had paid attention to his direction of travel, they would have noticed that he was flying west to Morlaya.

* * *

When Taon emerged from the royal office, he noticed that Yeugh was standing in the hall waiting for him. "How did she respond?" the knight asked.

Taon sighed. "Exactly as I had expected."

Yeugh shook his head. "Regrettable."

"Yes, indeed," he said. "I do not know if I can accomplish what needs to be done in one month. There’s not enough time."

"There never is," the knight told him. "You must teach her what she needs to know and make her understand, or the Council will remove her from the throne."

"Never before in the history of Validor has that been done," Taon said.

"But the law states that the Council members have that right. We are both on the Council, Taon. I know you are very loyal to the princess because of her father. Although he was my friend, I will not keep Aduan on the throne if I don’t think she deserves it, even though she was the king’s daughter. The other members feel the same as I. If we do have to vote her off, I know of no one else but you who would hesitate to relieve the princess of her crown."

* * *

Later that day, Aduan went outside and sat on the bank of a small sparkling stream, protected from the sun by the shade of the sycamore tree behind her. She had removed her shoes and stockings and was dangling her small feet in the cool water. Red and yellow songbirds perched in the branches above her, their song light and sweet.

For a time, she was left alone. But soon Taon came out. Normally she hated any interruption of her pastime, but today she did not mind because she wanted to see him. She gestured for him to sit beside her. "A lovely day," she said.

"It is," he agreed.

"Taon, I have decided that next Sunday will be soon enough for my coronation."

Taon took a deep breath, preparing himself for whatever might come. "No, Your Highness," he said quietly.

Aduan recoiled as if she had been slapped. "What did you say?"

"No," he repeated.

"Is there something scheduled for that day?" she asked.


"Then why can’t I have my coronation?"

Taon sighed. "Because the Council did not approve it."

"Ugh," she said, irritated. "Why not?"

"For one thing, you did not attend the meeting."

"Taon, you know how meetings bore me."

"Meetings are a part of life, especially in the life of a queen," he told her. "The Council does not believe you are ready to assume the throne."

"They don’t have to," she said to him. "I am the rightful heir and therefore, the throne is mine. They cannot keep it from me."

He sighed. "According to the law, they can. And from what I have heard, they will not hesitate to do so."

Aduan leapt to her feet, not caring that the wet sand was sticking to her feet. "This is outrageous!"

Taon stood and faced her. "Nevertheless, neither one of us is above the law. You have one month to learn what you need and try to convince the Council that you are capable of assuming the throne and wearing the crown with dignity and grace. If, at the end of that time, they feel that you are ready, you will be crowned. However, if they feel that you are not ready, they will appoint a new ruler for our land."

"But what about you?" she asked. "Can’t you make them change their minds? After all, you are the highest ranked member of the Council."

He sighed. "I am only one member of the Council, not the Council itself. My vote does count, but we do not need a unanimous vote on anything, even on a matter as serious as this. The majority rules. You would know that if only you would study."

"Study? Is that all I have to do?"

Taon sighed again. "You have much to learn, for ruling a country is much more than that."

"What do you mean?"

"You must become a friend of the people, someone they feel that they can trust. You must know how to govern and command your country."

"Can’t you do that?" she asked.

He sighed. "I cannot do your job. No one but you can. And if you don’t, then the Council will remove you from power, and nothing in the universe can change that vote."

"Then I am going to pass a law," the princess declared. "No one, not even a member of the Validor Council, can vote me or any other ruler of Validor, off the throne."

"Your Highness, you cannot pass that law."

She put her hands on her hips. "And why not?"

"As I said, you would know these things if you would study. The reason you cannot pass that law is because all laws go through the Council. There is absolutely no way they will support it because it allows for a dictator to seize control. Also, you must be a queen before you can propose a law."

Aduan made a sound of irritation. "But how can I secure my place on the throne?"

"By learning what you need to. If you wish to learn, I shall be your teacher. But as I said, we only have one month, and that is barely enough time to accomplish anything."

Aduan sighed. "All right," she said. "I’ll do it."

Taon smiled at her, pleased by this first step. But it is only the first, he reminded himself. The question is, will she truly listen to what you have to say and apply it? Will she become a capable leader or have her throne taken away?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chapter One: An Impossible Task

As promised, here's chapter one of The Ultimate Evil. All comments welcome! Remember, this is copyrighted by US law.


Chapter One

An Impossible Task

A good king had ruled Validor not that long ago. He had lost his wife to disease shortly after his daughter’s birth, but did not let his grieving affect his ability to rule the country with compassion and grace. He was a kind man who had been very skilled with the sword, and though ruling Validor had demanded most of his time, he always found enough hours in the day to spend time with his only daughter and heir, Aduan. She was a very beautiful and skilled girl, one of the few women who could expertly wield a sword.

But sadly, this king became subject to a terrible disease. The castle was usually a happy place, but it had not been since the king had become ill. Now everyone was sad and distressed, not knowing what to do.

Aduan paced outside the door that led into her father’s chambers. Her heart raced and fear slowly mounted in the pit of her stomach to the inside of her chest.

Taon, the king’s closest friend and advisor exited his room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Aduan approached him.

"Your father is very ill," he told her gravely.

Aduan hung her head. "Do you think he will live?" Her voice was meek.

He shook his head sadly. "There is little hope that he will survive." He paused. "I’m sorry."

The princess nodded sadly and entered her father’s chamber. Everyone had been warning her not to enter the chamber because no one knew what disease the king had contracted. But she wouldn’t listen. Her father had stayed by her whenever she had taken ill, and now it was her turn to return the favor. She sat quietly, holding his large hand in her small ones. But never did his eyes open.

She maintained a vigil with him for many days, hardly taking the time to eat. Then, one dreary day, despite the heroic effort of the physicians to save his life, the king of Validor passed on.

Taon walked into the chamber. When Aduan flew to him, sobbing against his chest, he knew that it was over. He encircled Aduan as he would his own daughter and comforted her.

Validor mourned for their beloved king and many came to pay their respects at his funeral. Many tears were shed as his body was burned in glowing flames. However, the king’s death could not have come at a worse time. While his ashes were still warm, a crow from Morlaya, the land ruled by Arvil, the Dark One King, soared across the land crying, "The time is near! The time is near!" This was Arvil’s threat of war. The Validor Council only referred to it as a threat, hoping to prevent the people from panicking. However, everyone secretly knew that war was immanent. Arvil had been planning it for far too long and the future looked bleak.

The crow’s cry frightened the people present because all knew of Arvil’s shape shifting powers, and there was no way to know if this crow was one of his minions or the Dark One King himself.

With the passing of the king, it was now time for Aduan to assume the throne, but Taon did not think she was ready, and he was not alone in that opinion.

Just one week after the death of the king, Taon called an emergency Council meeting. All twelve members of the Validor Council responded quickly and met in the conference hall. Taon walked in and heard their quiet whispers, knowing that their many conversations all circled around the princess.

The head of the long table was reserved only for royalty, and it should have been Princess Aduan’s seat, but she had chosen not to attend the meeting. Taon would be sitting at the head of the table, stepping in for the royal heir. The vizier knew that already the Council was not pleased, and the meeting had not even begun.

"Gentlemen," he said from the head of the table. "You may be seated." He was immediately obeyed and began the gathering by saying, "I mourn the death of our beloved king and I am sure that you mourn with me. However, it saddens me even more so to see our only princess and heir to the throne refuse to attend this important meeting."

"I concur," said Sir Yeugh, a skilled knight. He was dressed in his armor and the colors of Validor, which were red and gold. His blonde hair, which was chin length, had been pulled back in a ponytail. "Though I respected and admired the king, as he was my friend, he did not do the best that he could to raise his daughter."

"Though I do agree, I do not believe now is the time to accuse the king of any wrongdoings," Taon said. "He never truly got over the death of his beloved wife, God rest her soul. He raised Aduan the best way he knew how."

"By giving her everything she ever desired." This snort came from Lord Gallim, the royal treasurer. "He even raised the taxes at one point just so Aduan would have all the gifts she wanted for her twelfth birthday." There were murmurs of agreement around the room.

"Gentlemen," Taon said, his strong voice silencing the muttering around the table. "I do not disagree with you, but do not think that the king was oblivious to what he had done to Aduan. Out of everyone here, I was the only one present with the king at his deathbed. As he lay dying, he admitted to me that he realized that he had raised Aduan in a way that was not best for her or the kingdom. He wished for me to guide and raise her until the time comes for her to assume the throne."

"That time has come," Yeugh said. "We need a leader. She needs to be taught, but the damage done is extensive. What if she can’t be?"

"Then the king’s third cousin is next in line," Gallim said. "He lives in the southern parts of Validor, oh, what is his name? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there is no other living relative of the king except for his daughter."

"That is correct," Taon said. "Arvil has destroyed every other relative, and as it stands right now, I believe that Princess Aduan is not ready to become queen. Are we all in agreement on that?"

All the heads around the table nodded. "However," Yeugh reminded the Council, "we need a leader. The day Arvil attacks will come soon. We need someone to help us fight him."

"And it could take years to teach Aduan what she needs to know," Gallim added, looking Yeugh across the table. "We don’t have that amount of time considering the warning we received only one week ago. I would say if she does not learn what she needs to at the end of this month, then we need to appoint a new king of Validor, one that will order us to prepare for war."

"So you are with me in believing that war is a certainty, then?"

He nodded. "Especially with the warning the crow gave," he said with a shiver.

Taon was shocked. "One month is hardly enough time to correct all the damage that has been done!"

Yeugh stood up, banging a closed fist against the table. "Morlaya is on our very doorstep! We are the only country to border that land! Also, Arvil’s shape shifting power is the greatest we have ever seen. He could be here right now, impersonating a member of the Council, and we have no way of knowing it! We need someone who will lead us to action; otherwise, there is no possible way we can stand against the Dark One King."

"And there are many things that Aduan must learn—many more than you might think, Taon. She is a princess, but she does not know what that means. She does not believe that Arvil’s war will come and is taking no precautionary measures to help protect Validor against it. She cares more about her appearance than her people. She is arrogant, conceded, and spoiled—none of the qualities we need—so let us appoint a new leader now." the treasurer suggested.

"Without giving her a chance?" Taon asked. "That hardly seems fair."

"I agree with Lord Gallim," Yeugh said.

You would, Taon thought. You want Aduan off the throne as much as he does—perhaps more. "Is that why you are giving her only one month? You know she cannot succeed within that time."

The grin that formed on Yeugh’s lips told him that was precisely the goal of the Council’s devious plan. In their minds, she could never become a capable ruler. He looked around the table. "What would the king do if he could see you now?"
"He would agree with us."

"Possibly. He did come to see the error of his ways. But our late king believed in people. He believed in the good in those who may not seem to be. Do we honor his memory by not granting his daughter the same courtesy?"

But the Council would not be swayed, even though they admitted his words were true. "One month, Taon," Gallim said. "We will wait no longer."

Taon closed his eyes. This task would fall to him, he knew, since it had been the king’s final wish. To succeed would be nearly impossible, but he would do his best. He opened his eyes.

"Very well. Are we agreed?" All heads around the table nodded. "Then let us consider the meeting at an end."

Everyone shuffled out of the room, but Taon remained. He leaned forward and laid his head in his hands, pushing his brown hair back as he did. The Council knew that they were asking the impossible from him, but they felt it couldn’t be helped, and Taon knew that they were right, no matter what the king would have done. War was near, and a capable leader was essential. Would Aduan be up for the enormous task?

But even though he loved her as if she were his own daughter, he doubted she had the desire to listen to him. She didn’t even think that Arvil’s threat of invasion was true, though she had heard it with her own ears.

Taon sighed and left the room. He needed a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was going to be the start of many long days.

So, what do you think? If you like the story and have a Facebook page, you can scroll down to the bottom of my blog and find a link that takes you to a fan base that I have created for The Ultimate Evil.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set, Visit My Blog Oct. 24-26

Many of you have read the little bits of The Ultimate Evil that I posted shortly after I launched this blog. Well, starting tomorrow, I am going to post the first three chapters of my YA fantasy in their entirety, one chapter a day. Remember that I want honest opinons, so when you post, be sure to tell me all of your tips, suggestions, and opinions. Do you like it? Tell me. Do you hate it? Tell me! I wanna know! Also, remember that everything posted is copyrighted under US law.

Remember, this starts tomorrow! See you then!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Writer's Frustration

As writers, we get frustrated. Something's not going right in the story, or life gets in the way and we can't write as much as we want to, or the dreaded writer's block gets in the way.

Right now, my frustration is different. I have too much to do! So many stories are falling into place at one time that my head is spinning! I'm in the middle of an MG sci-fi novel that has grown over 5,000 words in two days. I'm revamping another MG story and it's coming along pretty good. All this sounds good, but this can actually turn into a very bad thing. When you have too much on your hands, one story does not get that devotion it needs and sometimes great stories are lost. I'm doing my best to prevent that from happening.

So, is there any frustration you want to vent out? I'm calling a venting session for all writers who just want to yell over cyberspace and someone's willing to listen. So, go ahead, vent away!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bringing You Up To Date

So, it's sunny once again down here in sunny Florida. It had been raining and raining and raining some more. But no more! Yes!

But, in order to bring you completely up to date, I need to tell you about my writing. Well, I have written a short story that I plan to submit to Highlights Magazine. Also, more editing has been done in The Ultimate Evil and as you know the query for that story is done. I have also written five stories out of a 12-book series that I hope to get published and have entered chapter 14 in The Untitled Story. I've been busy as a bee. I also have an article about the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek XI, that will be posted on I'll let you know when it's available.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ode To the Perfect Query

I've been writing a query letter for The Ultimate Evil for six months and I am sick of it. So, I sat on my bed this morning in beautiful Florida and wrote this:

Ode To the Perfect Query
When it comes to the query letter
I am smitten
I want to write the perfect one
That never can be written
No matter how much I try
This is something I cannot do
Even the literary agents have said
That this is too true
So try as I may
Try as I might
I'll never write the perfect query
No matter how much I fight
So I'm declaring it finished
Declaring it done
The Ultimate Evil query
Is done, done, done!
Will the agent like it?
This I cannot say
I guess I'll have to grit my teeth
And e-mail it to her someday
My frustrations worked out in a poem. I think six months is MORE than enough time to spend on a query letter for a story. What do you think?
Also, I apologize for a confusing layout with no spaces. For some reason it won't publish the spaces that I add, so again, I apologize.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Ideas? Yep, I Got 'Em

*SIGH* I got even more story ideas now. Yeah, this time, it's a series about a pirate cat. Already got a dozen adventures for her. Now, if only the publishing process were as easy as getting ideas....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Are You Registered?

I know this has nothing to do with writing, but I want to make sure that everyone who visits my blog who's at least 18 years of age has registered to vote. This year's election is one of the most important presidential elections that America has ever faced, so, please, if you haven't registered to vote yet, please do.

I already know who I'm going to vote for, but I'm not going to share because I hate political ranting. Just think about who you're voting for and make sure you believe that whoever you are voting for is the one you really want to see in the White House. And remember, if you don't vote, you are throwing away the greatest privilege you have as an American citizen.

My registration form is in the mail. Is yours? If not, hurry up and send it. Time is running out.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Progress Report

So, the new story, which is titled "The Untitled Story" (and, yes, that IS the real title), is now thirteen chapters long. Yep. A week's worth of work and I'm already beginning chapter fourteen. The chapters are kinda short, but it suits the layout. It's YA fantasy, my fav genre to write in. So, maybe I'll complete the first draft in less than six months. That would make the fourth mss. in a row to be completed in that amount short amount of time. REALLY scary! But, hey, it's October, and all the Halloween candy gave me an idea for a story! Gosh, too many ideas!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Want To Read Some Of My Work?

Then click on over to Go to the Star Trek Novel section and you can read my review of Diane Duane's book, "Doctor's Orders." Hope you enjoy it!