The Sorcerer's Temptation

I can see the feasting has made you rather bold. Really. You could be…fascinating.

I can see the feasting has made you rather bold. Really. You could be…fascinating.

“So how did a wench with such a lusty appetite come to the point of throwing herself into the river?”

“If you’re such a mighty Sorcerer, then you should already know the answer to that question.”

“I can see the feasting has made you rather bold,” he chuckled. “Really. You could be fascinating.”

“What do you want?”

“I already have what I want, Girl. Question is…what do you want?”

The girl chortled, the bark cut short from an upsurge of bile burning the back of her throat.

The pain of eating too much came upon her in that moment.

She curled into a ball and wondered if she would burst from gluttony until her silent memories swept in.

The image of empty faces and condemning eyes seared through and emptied her again. But the ache remained in her belly and the Sorcerer looming over her made her uneasy.

Yet she also remembered this was the first conversation she’d had in almost seven years.

“What do you think?” she muttered, sitting up. “I want to not be so alone. I want people to care. What else could I possibly want?”

The Sorcerer raised his brows and the hairless arches deepened the grooves in his forehead.

“Come on, Girl. Don’t be so paltry in what you wish for. You can do better than that.”

The heat rushed to her cheeks, but she said nothing.

The Sorcerer rested his chin on interlaced fists and waited.  

That squeeze clenched inside her breast.

But this time she wasn’t so foolish to hope her heart beat again. Staring into the colorless eyes of the Sorcerer, who gazed back at her with a bland expression, the girl couldn’t move.

“I want anybody I choose to fall in love with me,” she finally said. “Can you really make that happen?”

The Sorcerer of the Caverns smiled, his teeth the longest she’d ever seen, the dark yellow gleaming against his matted dusty beard. He nodded.

“And what do you want of me?”

“I want to lay with you,” he said. “And I want you to give me your heart.”

The girl froze.

Although her heart had been dead for years, she clasped her hands over her breast to protect what rested underneath. The thought of giving it to the Sorcerer made her stomach churn.

She shook her head before she spoke.

“No.”

“Not so hasty, Girl. I think you may like what I have in mind for you.”

“I said no.”

She stood and looked up the staircase spiraling out of the Caverns.

Then the snap of fingers made her flinch, and the sound bounced off the stone and reverberated up the tunnel.

A boulder slid across the top and the girl watched the nighttime stars disappear.

She couldn’t quite believe this was happening to her, but she still wasn’t afraid.

A calm descended on the girl as she watched the Gateway to the world above close off to her. She looked at the Sorcerer.

His robes cascaded around his throne; his hair and beard were dull against the opulence of gold and velvet.

“I’ve heard stories about you all my life,” she said. “But never once did I hear that you could force me to stay. Not even once.”

“That’s true,” he replied. “However, I can insist that you listen to what I have to say before you refuse me.”

The Sorcerer waved his hand to the sofa.

The girl saw the table was clear, the ruins of the banquet gone as if the feast had never happened.

Instead, a bronze triad of candles stood in the center of the table beside the crystal she pulled from the tunnel walls.

“Have a seat,” he continued. “You may find my offer enticing.” 

To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge.

To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge.

She sat down. Her back was straight as a rod, her hands in a tight clasp, her limbs rigid, a silent prayer repeating through her that she had to get out of the Caverns.

For a moment, she panicked at the thought that the Sorcerer might read her mind.

But he gave no indication he could as he took the crystal stargaze and held it to the candles.

Its essence came free, and the colors whirled around them.

The girl grew light-headed, but dropped her lids. She refused to look up until she’d made herself blind to everything but the Sorcerer.

Then she opened her eyes and focused only on him until the essence was brought home to the crystal and the colors fell.

“You have a strong command over yourself,” he said.

“Just tell me what you want and be done with it.”

He set the crystal down and pushed it across the table, its tiers spinning before her.

“If you lay with me just once, I will bless this stargaze with the power to steal the heart of any man you desire. But…”

The Sorcerer paused.

“If you lay with me many times, I will teach you the arts of seduction.”

The Sorcerer slowed his speech to the lulling cadence of persuasion.

The girl listened. She couldn’t stop her limbs from softening nor could she hold the tight grip of hands.

“To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge. If you can do this and pleasure me more than any woman ever has, I will give you a dust you can use for protection.”

“What does such a dust do? 

“Blow a pinch when faced with an enemy,” he said. “Say the first thing that comes to your mind and thus, your enemy is changed.”

“So far, this sounds…” the girl trailed off. “Why not just make this your offer?”

The right side of the Sorcerer’s brow crinkled deeper. She scowled, hesitating before she continued.

“My heart’s been dead for years anyway. Why would you want it?”

“All or nothing.”

The girl tensed. She thought an agitated serpent might have invaded her belly. The longer she looked into the Sorcerer’s eyes, the tighter the coil around her innards became.

“No,” she said. “I won’t do it. Just let me go.”

“I’m not done yet,” he retorted. “If you give me your dead heart, I will make you immortal.”

This excerpt is out of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. To purchase the ebook, click here.

 

The Noble Son

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Because the Patron’s Daughter had cast off all the eligible young men in her part of the country, her parents had to invite suitable families from faraway for long visits.

The patron and patroness had many houseguests that season. All of them arrived with a son who was of age to mate with their malicious minx of a daughter.

This desperate attempt to marry her off delighted we peasants working the fields.

There were rumors that the Patron’s Daughter was threatened with the convent at the end of this social season if she didn’t stop spurning suitors simply for the thrill it gave her.

The thought of the Patron’s Daughter with her hair shorn and dressed in a nun’s habit and wimple gave me great pleasure. I often laughed myself to sleep at night imagining such a fate.

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Whether those rumors were true or not, she did stop the emotional slaughter of the would-be suitors who were hunted for her.

Her rides around the fields were less dreadful when houseguests came, because she was always in the company of the latest young man her parents hoped would marry her.

Perhaps her reputation had spread far, because the families who came were rather lackluster. All the invited families had impeccable breeding, but those who accepted were either on the brink of impoverishment, or their sons were dull of mind, plain of face, or both.

Of course, all the enamored gentlemen got down on one knee to declare their love and ask for her hand in marriage.

But these proposals the Patron’s Daughter respectfully declined. Her parents hardly blamed her, for none of these inadequate young men would do.

Every two weeks, her suitors changed as the houseguests changed.

In the beginning of summer, somebody came along who the Patron’s Daughter actually liked.

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He was truly beautiful, this Noble Son of the patron family from the southeast.

I didn’t get a good look at him that day.

But I saw him the next on the ride he took with the Patron’s Daughter. He had fine brown hair and features that were unusually blunt in the highborn class, and the most soulful brown eyes.

The Noble Son wasn’t like the other suitors who had pursued the Patron’s Daughter. What set him apart was the way he treated us, the workers.

Every other gentleman who had come to the big house was content to ride past we who labored in the fields without a look or a greeting; but the first day the Noble Son rode with the Patron’s Daughter, he stopped his horse and dismounted.

He then took a few minutes to introduce himself to us, and even removed his glove to shake our hands.

“It’s wonderful to meet you,” he said to me. “You have the most beautiful eyes, Addie.”

My knees started to shake when the Noble Son took my hand.

He had the softest skin, but there was strength in his grip when he held my hand for that moment. His smile was warm and genuine, and the Noble son looked me right in the eyes.

Nobody had ever looked at me like that, not even my parents. He looked at me as if he truly cared to see me.

I almost collapsed.

Because he’d removed his glove, I had actually touched him, and the shock of contact sent a thrill up my arm and into my breast.

My heart stopped for an instant, then pounded as if I were working relentlessly at my fastest pace.

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I grew light-headed and could scarcely breathe. Something burst inside of me, spread throughout my being, and made me giddy.

Then the Noble Son nodded and stepped aside to introduce himself to the man next to me, and his manner was every bit as sweet and gentle. He had a simple grace and a universal kindness.

But my destiny changed on the day I met the Noble Son. The effect he would have on me would change who I was and who I would become.

I had always suffered from resentment and malcontent. Everybody around me was unhappy, how could we not be?

But most of my people, including my parents, resigned themselves to their fate. Though they knew life was unfair at their expense, they accepted their paltry share of it without complaint.

Perhaps apathy was a form of self-preservation for them, while rage over the injustice of it all seethed through me every minute of every day.

I hated my life. I had always wanted more.

Then along came the Noble Son, and the desire for something better became the most excruciating craving.

The Noble Son was impossibly out of reach, but that didn’t stop me from falling madly in love with him.

Desire is powerful, and the longing I felt for him was so raw I thought about him all the time.

Suddenly, I understood why girls allowed themselves to be seduced, even if it brought them to ruin.

In my world, privacy was unheard of. Thus throughout my life, I had caught couples in the fuck many times.

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Usually during urgent moments when I had to relieve myself, I rushed to the bushes for some privacy only to come across two backs and thrusting hips; or a woman held against a tree as the man ground his meat into her, her face contorted as if she were in pain; or a woman on all fours as the man poked her from behind as if she were a common bitch.

It was tedious to empty myself with the animal grunts and moans coming not even five feet away.

Until the Noble Son came, I had always found rutting rather repulsive.

Once he did, the restless consumed my body and hijacked my mind.

The fuck became appealing, and I knew exactly how to imagine him taking my maidenhead.

My fantasies were detailed and unabashed; and I dreamed about him day and night, at work and at rest. During the day, when I plowed through the fields I imagined the Noble Son plowing into me.

Every time I gave myself to the Noble Son, I was a virgin; and every time, a layer of ugliness fell away from me until all that was left was the blossom of purity.

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I never had a vision of what I looked like, but I knew I had transformed from the awe in my lover’s face.

“I always knew you were beautiful,” the Noble Son would say. “But you are beyond this world, Addie.”

Then he would kiss me deeply and I would melt.

But morning would interrupt rudely, and I woke up knowing I was ugly and unwanted.

I saw the Noble Son in the afternoons, for he rode with the Patron’s Daughter. Every day, he stopped to greet those who worked the fields.

These daily kindnesses when her escort treated us with courtesy caused much vexation to the Patron’s Daughter. It was the only time she acted cordial to the peasants because she knew she’d make a terrible impression if she didn’t.

There was some satisfaction in that, but of course, we knew better.

Those two weeks were delicious.

Besides savoring the discomfort of one who had to give up some of the power she loved to abuse, I got to touch the Noble Son almost every day when he shook my hand.

He remembered me too, and always called me by my name.

“Nice to see you, Addie, with the sparkling, golden eyes.”

Most of the time, I could scarcely mumble a greeting in return. I always looked away from him when my face grew hot for blushing was horribly embarrassing.

Oh! How I adored him! I would have given my soul for a night in his arms. I would have joyfully given him my maidenhead and I wouldn’t have cared about the consequences.

This excerpt is out of my work-in-progress, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” If you’d like to see the previous excerpt, click here.

 

 

8 Nudges to Write Fantasy With These Gorgeous Writing Prompts!

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I’m going to come straight out and just say it. I’m proud of these!

What’s not to love about beautiful images with a chunk of story to get your creative juices flowing?

It’s that time of year again.

When the faery folk come to dance upon the earth.

So light the way for them beneath the ancient tree.

If you remain still, you might get a glimpse of them.

Be careful though.

If they suspect a trap, they will grab you and imprison your soul in the tree for 1000 years.

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“Dance with the Devil, you handsome darling. If you please me, all your dreams will come true.”

“Are you saying you’re the Devil?”

The sensuous woman smiled and shrugged.

“I never thought of the Devil as a woman. So what dance?”

“Tango. Of course.”

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“You can’t be serious!”

“I am. Lie upon the yellow lines and the genie will come to grant you three wishes.”

“I thought genies lived in bottles and oil lamps.”

“Times have changed. Genies are now captive beneath the cement of roads and sidewalks.”

“What if a car runs over me?”

“That’s how the portal opens.”

“You must think I’m an idiot.”

“No. That’s the chance you gotta take. How badly do you want this?“

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Isabelle knew she was disappearing into the world of words, but she didn’t care.

Carlos begged her to stay, but she shook her head.

“I’d rather cease to exist physically if I get to enjoy all the pleasures of fantasy, of the erotic and romance.”

“What do you want, Isabelle, from the ethers of imagination? You will cease to be.”

”I know, darling Carlos. But ordinary life is mundane. I can’t bear the mundane.”

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Bernado’s heart pounded. This was the portal. it had to be.

But how could he get past that brick wall?

If he didn’t, Celeste was lost forever and their parents would perish from heartbreak.

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Fern yearned for the glory of humans. As psychic beings, plants healed, soothed, gave solace, and offered insight.

But there was no power. Plants were at the mercy of humans and animals.

Until the day a sad looking woman came into the forest undergrowth and lay down on top of Fern.

Fern felt her sorrow, and knew its time had come. This woman no longer wanted to be human.

“How about if we trade places?” Fern whispered. “You become me and I become you.”

The woman looked right at Fern.

“Is that possible?”

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She was emerging. She could feel herself coming back to flesh, blood, and bone.

After so many centuries held captive in the trees, she would be free at last.

“Why now?” she asked. “Why let me go now when the world is so changed?”

“Because we need you to convince humanity to protect us.”

“Why would I do that?”

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Ophelia threw herself into the water, but instead of the death she sought in her despair, she found conviction.

She deserved life. Only revenge would do for her father’s death.

Hamlet would suffer.

SO HERE THEY ARE! THE FANTASY WRITING PROMPTS FOR JULY. HOPE YOU LOVE THE IMAGES AS MUCH AS I LOVED PUTTING THEM TOGETHER, AND I HOPE THEY GET THE STORIES SPINNING!

PEACE,

MONTGOMERY



Your Girls Are Good - Novel Excerpt "The Shepherd and the Courtesan"

By Émile Bernard - Christie's, LotFinder: entry 5493043, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17885614

Novel Excerpt out of my work-in-progress, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” For a previous excerpt, go here.

“You must have done something supernatural to be here, Wanderer. None of Ella Bandita’s conquests have ever been redeemed.”

Adrianna moved fast, reaching down to take the Wanderer’s hand in hers before he could react.

“Did you get your heart back as well?”

Adrianna paused as she pressed her fingers into the side of his wrist.

“Well, well. I feel a pulse.”

“As I said,” the Wanderer murmured. “I was lucky.”

“That was more than luck,” she retorted. “She must be dead for you to get that crystal stargaze, and get your heart back. How did you kill her?”

“You can hardly expect a confession,” I interrupted. “We would hang.”

“For destroying a monster? I don’t think so, Shepherd. You and the Wanderer are our most cherished heroes. Legends will be told about you long after you are gone.”

Adrianna glanced to Celia who stood two paces behind the Wanderer, and then to Astrid who must have stood about the same distance from me. She nodded appreciatively to both of them.

“Well done tonight, girls. You may go and finish supper in the Joy Parlor.”

Astrid touched my shoulder with a soft hand.

“It really was an honor to meet you, Shepherd. I enjoyed our talk.”

I nodded, surprised that my feeling towards Astrid was one of neutral benevolence.

Celia threw her arms around the Wanderer’s neck and kissed his cheek.

“Thank you for leaving your fortune to the orphans,” she said. “It means more to me than I can ever tell you.”

“Okay,” the Wanderer said. “But it was nothing, really.”

He was obviously confused, not having heard that the woman he had made love to twice had grown up in the orphanage. Once the young courtesans followed a steward and maid back into the Casa, the Wanderer focused on Adrianna and whistled appreciatively.

“Your girls are good,” he said.

“Of course, they are. I trained them. So tell me how you got your heart back, Wanderer.”

“Let’s just say I had exquisite timing.”

“I’m sure it’s quite a story.”

“I suppose.”

“I would love to hear it.”

The Wanderer smiled at Adrianna and shook his head. Reaching for the leftover wild duck croquettes, he ate what was left, his deep black eyes peering steadily at his wily hostess.

Adrianna smiled and backed off. She took her seat in the chair Astrid had left vacant. Nodding to her servants, the stewards brought us each the fourth course, steaming bowls of pureed chestnut soup, while the maids poured red wine in ample goblets, and handed them to all three of us. Adrianna leaned back and took a sip.

“I must say, Wanderer, the years you lived as a Wolf have served you beautifully. I’ve always found rugged men most attractive. We don’t get much chance of meeting those in our civilized Capital City.”

“You flatter me, Madame.”

Adrianna smiled graciously.

“I told the Shepherd, and now I’ll tell you to call me Adrianna.”

“Your praise is generous, Adrianna. But I’ve never been one to be swayed by compliments.”

They smiled at each other in understanding. But Adrianna was far from done. She turned back to me and peered at me intently, her lovely golden eyes sparkling in the light.

“One thing I’ll say for my nemesis, Shepherd, she certainly had exquisite taste.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You are the man who loved Ella Bandita. The only man whose heart she didn’t steal.”

“No. She broke it instead.”

Writing Tips! Character, Plotting, Novel Structure, Oh My!

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Plot first, character second, or character first, plot second?

That is the question many of us struggle with.

General rule of thumb: Characters who drive the plot make up literary fiction; a fully developed plot where the characters come across as ‘flat’ or ‘1-dimensional,’ kind of like actors in a play, make up commercial fiction.

Perhaps that is an oversimplification. But generally speaking, it’s pretty easy to discern when a novel has its foundation in ‘character’ or ‘plot.’

To refer again the marvelous Margaret Grossman, one is either a plot writer or a character writer, and each envies the other their talent.

As a plot writer, I’ve had to research and devise tools to give birth to more intriguing characters – or at least, I think they’re intriguing. But I haven’t a clue how to show those writers who struggle with plot how to develop one.

Remember the post, Engaging Characters or Juicy Plot?

In it, I gave a character checklist for those who write plots but don’t write characters naturally. If you’ve never seen that post, here’s the link.

This is a similar tool I use when I’m struggling with fleshing out characters and why they do the things they do. Since I write plot naturally, I have to work on developing characters. Yet it’s very difficult to give pointers on something that comes naturally, at least it is for me.

Anyhow, on Pinterest, I came across a writer, Penelope Redmont, who offered a very simple and elegant method for developing plot, clearly for those who naturally write character. Here’s that wonderful blog here.

Also, while I’m at it, here is my Cage-Escape-Quest-Dragons-Home, the basic structure for forming chapters and the arc of the novel as a whole. This may help with the character arcs Penelope Redmont refers to in her blog, Plotting Fiction: 3 Plotting Tips to Make Fiction Easy.

And guess what else? Penelope Redmont writes Romance! Regency romance and romantic suspense – ha! Oh, what an odd coincidence that is! For anybody who doesn’t understand why that’s strange and would like to know, check it out here.