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My Drawing of a Princess by © Jacqueline Miller

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This is my drawing of Princess Fenella who is one of the main characters in a book I’m writing.

I used some apps on my iPad to do the drawing.

Some of the chapters are on this blog.
I need to get myself back on target and finish writing three books. I was very productive when doing a recent 14 day challenge where I had to post a new story every day. I’ve written a few chapters in the month since it finished.

I’m now giving myself a deadline to finish writing the books by 31st October 2014.

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How It All Began. A Cartoon by Jacqueline Miller

How It All Began. A Cartoon by Jacqueline Miller

Today, I started drawing the back story to my cartoon The Wrong Spell. I’m also writing it as a graphic novel and a regular novel. Today’s cartoon took ages as I had to use several apps on the iPad.

This shows the moment Janey and Gerald meet for the first time.

I hope you like it.

Jacqueline

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Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Wrong Direction by Jacqueline Miller

Hi,
This is story number 14 of a 14 day writing challenge I’ve been participating in on Mythic Scribes. For this one you could write your own prompt.

I found today’s story the hardest as it’s been exhausting trying to write and post something every day! I thought I was going to fall at the last hurdle, but I’ve managed to post the story just before midnight.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Jacqueline

Day 14 The Wrong Direction Prompt ( This is my own prompt! )

Write a story in which someone goes in The Wrong Direction, someone and/or something gets lost and someone and/or something is found.

The Wrong Direction by Jacqueline Miller

(1570 words)

Part 1

For this chapter, let us rejoin the wizard whom we last saw standing alone in a field watching the expedition disappear over a hill on the horizon.

Zol stood and thought for a while as he listened to the sounds of the countryside. He could hear the trickle of water from the stream and the occasional screech of birds that were native to this uncivilised area. They were more likely to be birds of prey than sparrows and suchlike, he thought, looking wary as he saw a flock of eagles fly by, heading south.

Here he was, stranded on the Eastern border of Zanderlands by the track that led into Dirkwood Forest. Further East lay the Wilderness and further still, the Goblin Kingdom of Verucka.

Zol felt more than a little hurt at having been abandoned by the company of knights. Where, he wondered, was the love and respect an old man deserved?

“When I was a boy I respected my elders!”he muttered.

Then he smiled wistfully as he remembered that he had been a boy less than an hour ago.

“I should have remained young for longer if I’d known the knights would leave me, anyway; but then I wouldn’t want to be that young. Perhaps, thirty would suffice.”

He bent down stiffly and lifted the portrait of the Princess Charmane which was still propped up next to the hedge. It was such an unpleasant picture and quite heavy. He toyed with the idea of just hurling it over the hedge. Then he thought better of it. After all, King Norbit had commissioned the painting and the horrid thing was signed by the artist R Pigasso. He guessed it might be worth a fortune some day in the future, long after the artist and all who knew him were dead.

“Ah, yes,” people would say. “This is an original Pigasso executed during his Green Princess Period.”

The wizard pulled the cloth across the horrifically ugly, green faced, long nosed, cross eyed, scowling girl in the picture and held it awkwardly under his arm.

“This face could give a man with a weak constitution a heart attack!” he decided.

As he walked back to his tent, he wondered what had happened to his horse, for there was no sign of it in the field. He began to feel angry that Sir Hugh Pendleton had deliberately left him here with nothing and no one to help him. Then, to his relief, he noticed his distinctive black and white pony grazing by a tree, nearby.

He whistled and the pony looked across at him, pricked up his ears and came trotting over. Zol had always had an affinity with animals, or rather: animals liked him. Although, to be honest, he was fairly indifferent to them; but having a pony would be useful.

“Graze here, Desmond,”he instructed, blowing gently into the animal’s nostrils.

Desmond whinnied and drew back his lips to show two rows of rectangular teeth.

Zol shuddered and stepped back. Evidently, the pony was also annoyed at having been left behind.

He entered the tent, stacked the portrait next to his books and then finished dressing. He put on his warmest blue robe, a navy blue coat and a long scarlet scarf that had been knitted by the simpleton apprentice, Jay, using wool from some of his pet sheep. He finished his fashionable ensemble by squeezing his swollen feet into leather walking boots, and sticking his blue pointed hat on his head.

Then he found his pipe and lit it. He sat near the entrance of the tent, allowing the smoke to form rings in the morning air. He spent a happy ten minutes smoking and thinking. He reflected that perhaps being left behind wasn’t such a bad thing.

The day seemed to be brightening now and he needed to make a plan.

He was still perplexed that the knights were travelling in the wrong direction. Sir Hugh Pendleton knew the lie of the land. Surely he knew that Verucka lay to the East, yet he had taken the company North.

Zol had tried to like Sir Hugh Pendleton. Well, perhaps “like” was too strong a word for what he felt for the knight.

“He’s a brute and a bully.”

He wished he had his cauldron.

He sat down on his folding stool and picked up one of his books. This was a notebook that had been handmade and sewn together by one of Zol’s apprentices and given to him as a birthday present. It had a map on the second page drawn by the student who had been studying local geographical spells.
The map clearly showed all the kingdoms in the region. If Zanderlands was to the West and Verucka was to the East, Wilkielands was to the North East. The sea lay to the South but North just led straight into land that had,until recently, been part of Zanderlands but now belonged to Sir Hugh Pendleton’s estate. It was a huge area of land through which the River Zandy flowed. It was rich in minerals and forests with a diamond mine at the top. Zol had wondered why King Norbit had given it freely to Sir Hugh when he made him a knight. This land was almost the richest in King Norbit’s kingdom.

But why would Sir Hugh Pendleton be taking the expedition back to his own estate?

Suddenly, Zol was aware of a flapping noise outside the tent. He put down his book and poked his head outside.

Up in the orange tinged sky he could see a dragon. It was flying towards the forest…

Part 2

Meanwhile, back in Zanderlands, The Princess Fenella hovered around the stables for the whole morning after the expedition carrying her sister had departed, waiting in vain for the Green Knight to appear.

Eventually, she spoke to Tom the stable boy. The Princess knew him well, because he used to be Sir Lanceypot’s page. He was working in the stables while he was waiting for the knight to return so he could train as a squire.

“I’m expecting a certain person to meet me here today. He’s …er…quite noticeable as he wears green armour. Have you seen him?”

“No, your Royal Highness.”

“Can you get my horse saddled, please. I want to take him for a run around the fields.”

Tom obeyed, dragging the saddle across the room for her. As he began to saddle the horse, a servant entered to tell the princess that the king had summoned her to the Throne Room.

“Oh, what does he want, now? Tell him I’m out riding my horse.”

“He says it’s most urgent, your Royal Highness.”

“Oh, very well.”

Fenella told Tom to put the saddle away, and hurried back into the castle. The throne room seemed to be a hive of activity, with workmen all over the place hammering nails, sawing wood and polishing surfaces.

Ethelbert the Wise was standing at one end of the room supervising everything. There was no sign of the king. Fenella felt her anger rising. She hurried over to speak with Ethelbert.

“Where’s my father?”

“He’s in his chamber, your Royal Highness. He wishes to speak with you.”

“I know!”

Up in the Royal Chamber she found the king still lying in his four poster, red velvet-curtained bed. He was wearing his nightshirt. His face was unshaven and his nose was bright red. In his hand he held a golden cup.

“Ah, Fenella. Come in, my dear. So kind.”

“What do you want, Father?”

“What do I want? I want the Geranium Cup, the one that matches this. As you can see, this is my Fuschia cup.” He blew on the rim and polished the gold with the sleeve of his nightgown.

Fenella sighed, impatiently. Her father grew more ridiculous each day.

“I meant, what do you want with me? You summoned me.”

“Yes, yes, I did.” He looked at her briefly, before staring at his reflection in the golden cup. “I just wanted to say I don’t want you to be lonely now your sister has gone off to be married, and your betrothed has been captured by the goblins, so you must be missing him. And I know I’m always busy with matters of state, Fenella, but I do love you and want you to be happy, so I thought I’d give you a little job to do?”

“A job. Why would I want a job?”

“To keep you busy of course, and to stop you pining for Cedric. I want you to help Ethelbert decorate the throne room. He’s a bit colour blind, so I’d like you to make sure everything comes in red and gold,not green and gold.”

“Very well.”

“And I’d like you to supervise the workmen and make sure no one steals anything.”

He lay down and snuggled under his blankets, still clutching the Fuschia Cup.

“That is all. You may go now.”

Fenella felt very cross indeed as she marched back to the throne room.

Everything was going wrong: she wanted to go on a quest with the Green Knight to save Lancey, not act as her father’s housekeeper.

Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To be continued, hopefully, as a book: after all, I can’t leave all the characters like this! Nothing’s been resolved, yet!

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The Knights Lose Hope by Jacqueline Miller

Here is my story for day 13 of the 14 day writing challenge I’m participating in for Mythic Scribes.

This one was comparatively easy to write as the prompt concerns a dungeon, and the party of knights were already imprisoned in a goblin dungeon. This gave me the opportunity to move the focus over to this arc of the story.

Today is the last day of the challenge, but I hope to continue writing every day and complete the book. There’s certainly a long way to go until we reach the end! I may continue posting it on my blog here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Jacqueline

Day 13-Dungeon Prompt-Write a story in which the characters are lost with seemingly no way of escape.

The Knights Lose Hope by Jacqueline Miller
(1200 words)

“So, how many days have we been in this confounded place?” Sir Tristram asked, dragging his chain across the dungeon floor.

Sir Gwain raised his stump of a candle and held it close against the wall. The flickering light revealed rough drawings and graffiti, that he presumed prisoners of the past had written whilst incarcerated in this cellar. The most recent were several verses of some kind of love poem that had been scratched into the stone.

Lower down the wall, he found a number of crude vertical tally lines in the moss covered clay. Sir Gwain counted the marks aloud, for he was pleased to have something to occupy his thoughts. Every soldier prisoner in captivity knows that the mind must be kept active in order for the body to survive.

“Ten days,” he said at length. He attempted a feeble joke, “At least I’ve remembered how to count!”

“It’s only nine,” said Sir Tristram. “You missed out number eight.”

“Did I? No, you jest?”

“I wish I did, Gwain.”

“Then it’s your fault for practising that hypnotism rubbish on me. You should never dabble in things you don’t understand.”

Sir Gwain was referring to a book on hypnotism which they’d found on the dungeon floor, lying next to a human skeleton that was chained to a wall.

“It feels like ten years, not days, my friend,” said Sir Tristram. “And as for using that book of tricks, what have we got to lose? We must try it on one of the guards to effect our escape.”

“It didn’t do HIM much good,”said Sir Tristram’s squire, Toby Wright, pointing at the skeleton. It was difficult to see it clearly by candlelight but he had an impression of ragged robes and a pointed hat perched on top of the skull.

“If we stay here much longer, we’ll forget our own names, much less how to count!”declared Sir Gwain, adding, “That damned squire must’ve reached Zanderlands by now!”

“Unless these cursed goblins were only pretending to send him off with a ransom note,” suggested Toby. “Perhaps they took him away and… and …harmed him?”

He began to swear.

Sir Tristram reprimanded him, half heartedly, then suggested,

“Perhaps Rustin’s lost his way in Dirkwood Forest.”

“Or the dragon’s killed him!” added Sir Gwain.

“What if our king refused to send his eldest daughter and has left us to die?”

“He’ll send her. He hates the ugly wench and will be pleased to see her married.”

“Yes, the king will send her. He’ll exchange her for gold. He’d sell his soul for less.”

“Old Gorthick won’t want her when he sees her face does not match that of the portrait!”

“No, Norbit will leave us here to rot!”

“No, he wouldn’t do that? Would he? Truly, would he? After all the gold and riches we’ve brought him? Cedric, what do you think?”

There was no answer, so Sir Tristram raised his voice,

“Cedric? Are you awake?”

They heard a groan and the sound of someone yawning.

“Cedric? Say something?”

“What is there to say?” a deep, pleasant voice replied. “You fellows have said it all these past few days. And it is nine days, by the way.”

“You were very quiet, that’s all.”

“I was in that pleasant place between dreams and reality, I know not which. I think it was a dream, for I was with the fair lady Fenella and she had come to save me.”

Sir Gwain laughed, humourlessly.

“Such dreams I can do without. How would this maid rescue you?”

“He said, t’was but a dream,” replied Sir Tristram.

Sir Lanceypot sat up.

“We can practise our counting skills now,” he said, “starting with our food. I have four apples, two carrots and three cucumbers.”

“I have three lemons.”

“I stole some nuts”

“I have four apples, too.”

“Let’s share them out. The guard left us some bread and beans. The meat we’d best leave as it’s filthy and diseased.”

“Not only that, it hops around headless on three legs.”

“It would need just one leg to hop!”

They tried to laugh: black humour is as good a foil as any, in times of disaster.

“These goblins truly are vile creatures – they even abuse their food!”said Sir Lanceypot. “Now, where’s the lantern that Prince Forthick forgot?”

“I have it!” called Toby.

He used a flint to light the lantern. The orange glow flickered around the walls of their prison, illuminating the planes and hollows of their haggard faces.

“This has got to be one of the darkest, most hellish places on earth!”cried Sir Tristram.

“Do not despair,” said Sir Lanceypot. “Next time they let us out in the garden we will see if there’s any way we can escape. This wouldn’t have happened if I’d not suffered illness and been weakened when they fought us.”

“I told you to go back when we reached the mountain pass,” Sir Tristram said in an accusatory voice.

“Yes, but many of us were ill and the snow blocked our exit.”

“Snow? T’was an avalanche! We were doomed in all directions!”

“And what’s happened to our healer friend?”

“Flavin? He’s sure to be somewhere outside the castle gates trying to help us.”

“Is he? Then he’s taking a damned long time to do so! He said Zol sent him.”

“You can’t rely on magic to fight a war, my friends,” observed Sir Lanceypot.

They munched their meagre meal, arguing and bickering amongst themselves.

Suddenly, Toby, who had keener hearing than the rest, alerted the knights to a noise in the passage outside. They quickly hid their food and extinguished the lamp.

There was a sound of metal scraping against metal as the key in the lock turned and they heard footsteps descending the stone steps.

Whoever it was, was being pushed roughly down the steps.

“Here, fool, join your comrades!” hissed the ugly guttural tones of a goblin jailer.

The dungeon door slammed shut and the key turned once again.

“Make yourself known!” called Sir Gwain.

“It is I, Yorick,”

“Yorick? Which Yorick might that be?”

“Yorick the Yellow.”

There was a collective sigh of relief. The lantern was lit again and King Norbit’s messenger was welcomed into their midst.

Yorick stood amongst them, wide eyed and trembling, as they bombarded him with questions.

“Have you brought help with you?”

“Who has come to save us?”

“Did Squire Rustin arrive at the court?”

Yorick stood petrified in his linen jerkin and his bare feet. He shivered both from cold and fear.

With difficulty, the knights managed to get him to tell his tale, but soon they had heard everything.

“So the Princess Charmane comes in a convey being led by Sir Hugh Pendleton?”

“Yes. The thing is, I’ve been here three days and they’ve not arrived yet!”

The knights were mystified.

“This bodes ill for all of us. If they do not arrive soon, we shall all be doomed!”

Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Carnivorous Goblins and Vegetarian Knights by Jacqueline Miller

Hi,

Well, I’ve just about made it to day 12 of the 14 day writing challenge I’m participating in on Mythic Scribes. I was delayed in posting this as unexpected visitors arrived at my house last night.

I’ve been writing from 3am to 6am UK time to finish writing it! Fortunately, a lot of the other writers participating are in American time zones!

For this one I had to write about food. My description of the inhumane way in which the goblins kill their meat is a bit gory. I do apologise, but then the goblins are evil, and I’m vegetarian!

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Jacqueline

Day 12-Food Prompt-Write a story with food that causes both life and death.

Carnivorous Goblins and Vegetarian Knights by Jacqueline Miller

(1460 words)

Gorthick castle was situated on the summit of the Warty Mountain in the Goblin Kingdom of Verucka. It was a black stone building with numerous battlements perched crookedly above sheer walls. These walls were impenetrable, being covered with metal spikes over which poison ivy grew. A moat, filled with dark water, surrounded the castle. The water reputedly contained carnivorous monsters and electric eels. The castle belonged to Gorthick the Grimy, the Goblin King.

This morning, the said king sat in his favourite dining room in the castle. He was chewing on a chicken leg and staring greedily at the beautiful dark haired girl in a painting which hung on the opposite wall.

“You’ll soon be mine, my lovely Princess Charmane,” he leered, licking his lips as he partook of his favourite meal: raw chicken with tongue of bullock and pigs’ trotters.

Goblins were reputed to be greedy creatures who liked their food raw or undercooked. They adored fresh steaks with the blood oozing off the bone. The Goblins of Verucka were often described as having voracious appetites, wearing pointed, steel-capped green shoes, and consuming continuous meals throughout the day.

In fact, goblin connoisseurs preferred their food to be raw and fresh. This meant that a leg of lamb would be a limb sawn off a lamb that was still alive and brought to the table. Instead of killing an animal outright, the cooks at the castle were known to cut what they wanted off a live animal, leaving the rest of the animal to be eaten, bit by bit, at other times.

This meant they did not need larders to store their meat. The kitchen storerooms were filled with many three, two or one legged creatures, hobbling or hopping around, screaming in pain, waiting for their sad mutilated bodies to be placed on the menu and devoured gradually. Live animals were often served uncooked at goblin tables. There was also a collection of legless creatures lying around the castle, chirping or groaning in agony.

Hence, the well know goblin joke question:

“Where do you find a pig with no legs?”

Answer: “Where you left him!”

In between meals, a young goblin might cry:

“Dad, I’m hungry!”

and a fresh chicken leg would be fetched for him, leaving the poor chicken to hop around the storeroom, like Long John Silver, without a prosthetic leg. This also happened to dogs, cats, rats, horses and cattle.

Occasionally, a headless chicken or two would be seen running around the dining rooms. Goblin children would race them for fun. This was one of their favourite sports. They called it: ‘Run, Chikky, Chikky, Run!”

Not being human, the goblins had no concept of humanity or kindness.

However, even goblins fall in love, and Gorthick, who already had several goblin wives and loads of mistresses, had fallen in love with the picture of Charmane. He liked the idea of having a human bride, and especially a royal one. He had his heart set on conquering Zanderlands and extending his kingdom. An alliance made through marrying King Norbit’s eldest daughter seemed the easiest way of achieving this aim.

King Wilbert of the Wilkielands, who had met the real princess and knew the portrait was misleading, had maliciously gifted Gorthick the picture of Charmane by way of effecting a truce. He had also presented the Goblin King with some jewellery that had been stolen from a dragon who lived in the caves between their two kingdoms.

It had been a stroke of good fortune when the dragon had befriended both Kings and agreed to be their ally. They’d first had to convince the beast that the folk of Zanderlands were the real enemy.

An interpreter had told the dragon, “Trust us, we’re your friends. Your enemy is the evil King Norbit of the Zanderlands. He’s been stealing your golden cups! We will help you reclaim them.”

The stupid dragon had believed them. Emitting flames of fire, his eyes red with rage, he’d roared,

“Tell me what to do and where to find him!”

Gorthick’s second in command was his eldest son, Prince Forthick, and it was he who had communicated with the dragon. Forthick was cleverer than most goblins, having learnt how to read from a nomadic wizard who’d been captured, imprisoned and tortured in their dungeons. After the wizard had died, the prince had read a few of his books, including one on hypnotism.

This had given him an idea as how to hypnotise the dragon. Forthick had ordered his servants to secure a massive ball and chain to the wall outside the dragon’s cave. As the ball swung to and fro across the opening of the cage, Forthick had recited a hypnotic chant in a singsong voice. He’d continued until the dragon crossed its eyes and went into a sort of trance.

“Trust in me, just in me,” he sang. “I’m going to count to ten slowly. When I say TEN you will fly out of your cave. Fly East to the Kingdom of Zanderlands, oh mighty dragon, Smarl, and set fire to King Norbit’s castle.”

Forthick counted slowly. At number TEN, the dragon uncrossed its eyes, stumbled to the entrance of the cave, and sprang up into the sky. He flew around the castle several times, his wings flapping noisily, and then swooped across the tree tops and out of sight.

It had been Forthick’s idea to steal the dragon’s gold while the creature was away attacking King Norbit’s castle.

As soon as the dragon had disappeared over the horizon, droves of goblins had descended into the cave on slave pulled trolleys to take the dragon’s gold.

It was Forthrick, too, who had consulted with Sir Lanceypot and then told his father to set Doran Rustin free and send him back with the ransom note.

“We need to lure another party of their knights here and capture them, too. Soon we will have all King Norbit’s knights imprisoned in our dungeons. After that, it will be easy to take over his kingdom.”

Forthick was quite educated and unusual for a goblin. He realised that often things could be achieved without the need for brute force.

“Brain power not brawn power!” was his motto.

Sometimes, he and his father did not agree and had terrible arguments.

“You’re not fit to be my son!” Gorthick shouted, once, during a violent quarrel. “Your mother told me she’s not pure goblin when I married her!”

“So why d’you want to marry this human princess whatshername, as well?”screamed Forthick. “You’ll have more half blood kids, won’t you, imbecile!”

“Because I want her land, idiot!”

Gorthick was tall for a goblin, with a thick thatch of greying hair, green pimpled skin and a large nose. He was also broad with huge muscles.

His son, Forthick, was even taller, but of a puny build. He had pale skin and regular features. If he’d been a hundred percent human, he would probably have been considered handsome, except for his green tinge. He did not much care for goblin food and had become a vegetarian in recent years. Once he’d taught himself to read, he’d studied gardening and had cultivated a large orchard of nut, lemon and apple trees in one area by the castle walls. He also grew root vegetables nearby and kept free range, egg laying chickens.

Forthick had released the knights from the dungeon on certain days and allowed them to work in the orchards, picking fruit and weeding the vegetable beds. This had probably saved their lives as they’d had sunlight on their skin and they’d been able to get vitamins and protein from nibbling the fruit and vegetables. In fact, many of the company had become vegetarian as the goblin food was so revolting.

At first, Gorthick had been disgusted at the idea of a vegetable farm at the castle; but, occasionally, even he ate a few of the apples.

However, Gorthick had been pleased with the success of his son’s plan to steal the dragon’s gold while the creature was away attacking King Norbit’s castle. Now the vaults of Gorthick Castle were filled to the brim with stacks of gold.

The goblins had left a few trinkets and a couple of cups behind for the dragon, arrogantly believing that the dragon was stupid and would not notice.

They were soon to learn that you underestimate a dragon’s intelligence at your peril!

Written by: Jacqueline Miller

© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Oh, Please Be Mine! A Medieval Love Poem From A Knight to the Princess He Loves by Jacqueline Miller

Today I wrote a poem for day 11 of the writing challenge I’m participating in for Mythic Scribes.

I hope you enjoy reading it. It’s humorous, but I also found it sad because it was about a pure and true love, and the poor knight was imprisoned in a dungeon.

Jacqueline

Day 11-Bard Prompt-Write a story about the worst bard in existence.

Oh, Please Be Mine!

A Medieval Love Poem From a Knight To The Princess He Loves by Jacqueline Miller

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a kingdom far away, lived a knight who fell in love with a beautiful Princess.

The Princess fell in love with him, too. They wanted to marry but her father, a greedy King, sent the knight away on various quests to prove his love.

( The author of these tales of Zanderlands has previously written a Valentine’s poem about their love; but this authentic poem was found in the Kingdom of Verucka, written on the wall of a dungeon in the fortress of the King of the Goblins. The author has translated it from the old fashioned form containing such words as ‘thou’ and ‘thy’, and updated it to this modern version.)

The Princess Fenella found a copy of this poem written inside the flyleaf of a book gifted to her by Sir Lanceypot. These words were also discovered written on the wall of a dungeon as stated above.

Oh, Please Be Mine!

Oh, Princess Fen, you are most fair
With lustrous shiny golden hair
I’d know your perfume anywhere
Oh, please be mine!

Your father is a noble king
With lots of gold and everything
I’d serenade if I could sing
Oh, please be mine!

You live inside a castle tall
I’ve watched you dancing at a Ball
You are the fairest of them all
Oh, please be mine!

And while inside that castle tall
We danced together at the Ball
You are the sweetest one of all
Oh, please be mine!

We kissed outside the castle grand
We stood together hand in hand
We even listened to the band
Oh, please be mine!

Your father is a greedy King
He loves gold more than anything
I’ll have to give you BOTH a ring
Oh, please be mine!

But now he’s sent me on a quest
To kill a dragon in the West
I’ve told him I will try my best
Oh, please be mine!

But should I die and not come home
You know my love’s for you alone
I’ll love you, Fen, where ‘ere I roam
Oh, please be mine!

I trust my love is not in vain
I think that you still feel the same
I hope that soon you’ll share my name
Oh, please be mine!

I hope you feel the way I do
You know I want to marry you
I swear to be forever true
If you’ll be mine!

The words in the dungeon were by Anon

But Princess Fenella’s copy was signed,

‘Sir Cedric Lanceypot, with love.’

Written by: Jacqueline Miller

© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Transformation Of The Wizard by Jacqueline Miller

Here is my story for Day 10 of the 14 Day writing challenge I’m participating in for Mythic Scribes.

It was supposed to be a story about lost beauty rediscovered. You would expect this to be about a woman, so I decided to try and be original and to give it a different slant. You can judge for yourself whether I managed to succeed!

I must say that writing every day has really helped me develop the plot. The prompts are a little difficult to accommodate into the story, but they certainly keep it moving along!

Jacqueline

Day 10-Beauty Prompt-Write a story about lost beauty rediscovered.

The Transformation of The Wizard by Jacqueline Miller

(1777 words)

Zol, the wizard, tried to move his aching limbs. The company had been on the road for a whole day and were camped by the side of the pathway that led into the forest of Dirkwood. This was the first stage of their journey towards the Kingdom of Verucka where the evil Goblin King ruled, on the far side of the Foggy Mountains.

The wizard groaned loudly as he managed to drag himself into an upright position, and again as he banged his head on the ceiling of the tent. He hobbled towards the entrance and stuck his head out into the chilly morning air.

In the grey light, he saw silhouettes of trees, tents and horses. The air was silent except for the crowing of a distant cockerel. He remembered that there were farms in the vicinity. This was the last post of civilisation in the outer region of Zanderlands before travellers entered the forest and approached the Wilderness that lay between the adjacent Kingdoms of Wilkielands and Verucka.

Zol, who had visited these parts before, remembered that there was a little brook not far from here. He girded up his ancient loins and walked slowly in that direction. His toes and soles were painful in their coarse rope sandals.

“I wish I’d remembered to pack my slippers,” he said, aloud.

The water, when he reached it, seemed to be much nearer to the road than he recalled.

He was, furthermore, surprised to find merely a narrow trickle of a stream.

“It used to be much wider. Perhaps there has been a drought in the fifteen years since I last passed this way,”he thought.

The water was also a curious purplish lime colour.

“Oh, how I miss the suppleness of youth,” the wizard muttered as he bent down stiffly by the stream.

He filled his cup with water and recited his morning mantra. These were magic words that aimed to give the wizard energy and to prolong his life. He made a habit of reciting them every morning when he rose.

Now he tilted the cup and poured the cool liquid over his face, hands and feet. The water was ice cold and seemed to fizz on his skin like lemonade.

Feeling invigorated, he made his way back to the camp. He could see the grey shapes of tents and King Norbit’s Royal Crest on a flag.

As he entered the camp, he was surprised to find his footsteps felt more sprightly than of late. He even danced a little jig on the grass.

Suddenly, he espied Sir Hugh Pendleton, dressed in daytime livery and boots, emerging from a nearby tent.

The knight stared at Zol and raised his hand.

Thinking it a friendly gesture, Zol waved back.

“Halt! Who goes there!” Sir Hugh cried.

Zol turned his head to look behind him, but there was no one else in sight.

“Who? Me? Who are you talking to?” Zol noticed that his voice sounded unusually high and immature.

“Guards!” called the knight.

Two tall figures ran towards him from opposite directions.

“Remove this boy!”

Zol’s arms were grabbed by the two burly knights he knew as Thomas and Arthur.

“What the… Have you gone crazy, you stupid imbeciles?” he cried in his new falsetto voice.

“Don’t be insolent to the servants of the King!”cried Arthur.

“You deserve a thrashing!” shouted Thomas.

“But, I’m Zol! The wizard! You know me-“

“Be off with you!” shouted Sir Hugh, affecting not to hear him. “You are trespassing on the King’s Royal Expedition!” He spoke to the knights, “Take this trouble maker outside the Royal Enclosure!”he ordered.

Zol found himself being carried across the field to a large hedge. Ignoring his protests, the knights lifted him up and roughly threw him over. He landed on his back in a clump of thistles.

“Go home, boy!”

“Yes, go back to your mother!”

“And don’t bother us again!” they jeered.

Their laughter faded into the morning gloom.

Zol sat up and crawled away from the thistles. Something sharp was digging into his hip. He put his hand in his pocket and found the shiny metal object which Doran Rustin had magicked for him two evenings ago, when curing his backache. He managed to use one side of it like a mirror. He peered at his reflection and was amazed to see the countenance of a youth staring back at him. He had blonde curly hair, a smooth unwrinkled skin and clear baby-blue eyes. The nose was long but straight.

“Why it’s me! This is how I looked many moons ago! By gum, I was rather a handsome lad.”

He viewed the face in the reflection from different angles, ignoring the slight distortion caused by the shape of the silver barrel.

He looked at his hands: the skin was soft and white; the fingers slim and flexible.

“But how has this happened? And, more to the point, what can I do now?”

He wandered back to the brook. He’d heard of such things happening before. Some said the land by Dirkwood was enchanted.

“Maybe I uttered an unusual spell,” he said. “I need to undo it, much as I would enjoy being a young boy again.”

He bent down, splashed water over his face, hands and feet, and recited a reverse transference spell.

Within seconds, the customary arthritic pains had returned. His fingers became gnarled and swollen, with brown spots on the back. Zol looked at his reflection in the silver object.

A familiar, grey haired, long nosed, wrinkled face with bushy eyebrows stared back at him.

“Oh, well, it was nice while it lasted,” he sighed, grabbing onto a tree trunk and pulling himself up onto his aching feet.

He was horrified to hear the Royal Horn being blown in the distance. The company was evidently departing without him.

“Hey! What about my cauldron? My books of spells? My clothes?”

He was unable to lift his legs high enough to climb back over the hedge so he stumbled around the perimeter of the field until he found an opening in the foliage. It took him several more minutes to cross the field. He arrived back at the deserted camp site just in time to see the procession disappearing up the road.

“Come back!” Zol shouted, but his voice faded into the breeze.

He stood and pondered for a moment. Was there much point in rejoining the company? He hadn’t really wanted to come with. He thought longingly of his comfortable den back at the castle. He could return if he walked for a couple of days. After all, he hadn’t asked to go on this ridiculous quest.

Besides, he was pretty sure that Sir Hugh had heard his words explaining who he was; but the knight was a narrow minded brute who didn’t believe in magic. Why stay where he wasn’t wanted or appreciated?

In fact, Sir Hugh had been less than welcoming when Zol had turned up yesterday morning, to report that the King had contracted his services for the quest.

“We don’t require wizards!” Sir Hugh had yelled, rudely. “This is a military operation. We have no need for magic mumbo jumbo. And how do you expect to carry THAT?” he’d bellowed, pointing with derision at Zol’s cauldron.

“It’s the smallest one I have,” Zol insisted.

“We already have a cooking pot!”

The wizard had ignored him and smuggled it onto the cook’s wagon. He’d noticed last night that it had been used to serve the evening meal of carrot and barley soup.

The wizard had consoled himself with the knowledge that he would have a friend and ally in young squire, Rustin; but after they’d travelled several miles he learned that Horatio Higgins, had taken Doran’s place.

Another knight of their party had told him the full story. Apparently, Sir Hugh had picked a quarrel with young Doran, grown violent and dismissed him with a bloody lip.

“Sir Hugh Pendleton preferred his own squire, I guess,” said the knight, a red haired man named Sir Rupert Brownstone, who came from a solid old noble military family.

Zol had remarked that it would still have been useful to have the squire on the quest. After all, Doran knew exactly where the knights were being kept prisoner in Verucka and the goblins had sent him to deliver the ransom note to the King.

“Yorick the Yellow has been sent ahead with the reply, so maybe he didn’t,” Rupert replied. “But, you know, Sir Hugh is a law unto himself. If he doesn’t like you, your career is good as over!”

Rupert repeated a rumour, which Zol had heard once before, that Sir Hugh wanted his son, David, to marry the Princess Charmane. Zol had laughed heartily at that. Apart from her obvious lack of beauty, the girl was a bit of a bad tempered shrew and had never shown the least interest in David, or indeed, any of the knights. She liked needlepoint and her cats. David, like most young knights, seemed fond of male company and of getting drunk.

Thinking about things now, Zol realised that he hadn’t seen anything of the princess who’d been kept locked in her carriage or under guard inside the royal tent.

He walked back to the space where the camp had been set up. It was deserted with bits of debris scattered around. Strangely, his tent was still standing. He looked inside. His robes and his books were still there. How odd? Why had no one looked for him? He walked back towards the road.

Looking into the distance he could just about see the expedition climbing a hill on the horizon.

The wizard frowned: there was something peculiar about this. He was sure the company should be travelling East through the forest, but they were definitely travelling North along the country road.

“Hey! Come back, you fools! You’re going in the wrong direction!”he shouted, weakly.

Suddenly, he noticed a large, flat, rectangular package lying in the road. It was wrapped in a cloth. Lifting it up with difficulty, he propped it next to a hedge. What could it be? He dragged the cloth back. A ghastly, green faced, black haired creature with lopsided red rimmed eyes, stared back at him.

The wizard was not a nervous man, but even he jumped in fright.

On the bottom of the portrait he read: ‘The Princess Charmane ‘. It was accompanied by a squiggly, almost illegible, signature:

R Pigasso.

Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Ethelbert The Wise And The Old Assassin By Jacqueline Miller

Here is my story for day 9 of the Flash Fiction writing challenge that I’m participating in on Mythic Scribes. I wrote two stories for this one as I found it quite difficult. I’ll post the second one at the end of this one, although I wrote it first. The second one is very short!

I hope you enjoy reading them!

Jacqueline

Day 9-Assassin Prompt-Write a story about an assassin’s last job before retiring

Ethelbert the Wise and The Old Assassin by Jacqueline Miller

(460 words)

“And so,”Ethelbert the Wise, was saying, “the king would like you to repair this cabinet.”

“Bit of a mess, ain’t it?” said the carpenter. “Cor! What ‘appened ‘ere? Looks like it’s been

burnt.”

“It’s from dragon fire,” Ethelbert explained, beginning to feel irritated.

He’d spent all morning interviewing carpenters and goldsmiths in the throne room without

any help or support from the King.

The artisan scratched his head.

“Ooh, that’s going to cost ya. We always charge double to repair stuff wot’s been damaged

by dragon fire.”

Ethelbert made a face. The man, who was short and stout with a ruddy complexion, stared

back at him, then pointed a grimy finger at the Royal Adviser’s charred and ragged beard.

“You look like you need repairing from the dragon fire, yourself!”

Ethelbert made a mental note to tell King Norbit not to employ this man. He disliked people

who made personal comments. Besides, he felt his services would not be cheap.

“Thank you. Just write your estimate in the Royal Book of Quotes over there and I’m sure

the Master of the Royal household will be in touch.”

“And who might that be?” asked the man.

“Oh, never you mind!” Ethelbert replied. “Just don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

“Is that so?” said the man. “Right. Well, here’s my card, anyway.”

Ethelbert took the card. On it, in bright red ink, was written,

“Ade’s Assassins! No Job Too Small.”

Ethelbert began to splutter with surprise.

“Assassins? But I’m looking for a carpenter!”

“Oops, sorry, wrong card!” The man snatched it back and handed Ethelbert a card printed in

brown ink.

“Ade’s Carpenters! No Job Too Small.”

If Ethelbert’s eyebrows had not been burnt off by the dragon fire he would have raised them

now.

“I like to keep myself versatile,” the man explained. “I retired from being an Assassin last

month after my last job. I found it too emotionally draining.”

“Indeed,” Ethelbert said.

“Although, of course if the King required my services, I’d be more than ‘appy to ‘elp.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Ethelbert took both cards.

After Ade had signed the Book of Quotes and departed, Ethelbert examined the cards again.

At the bottom of the Assassins card he read:

“Monsters, Goblins and Dragons Our Speciality.”

Day 9-Assassin Prompt-Write a story about an assassin’s last job before retiring.

Very Short Assassin Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Miller

(18 words)

Before retiring for the night, John, a mercenary assassin, squashed a small spider that had been bothering him.

Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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A Departure, A Portrait And A Plan by Jacqueline Miller

This is my story for Day 8 of the 14 day Flash Fiction Challenge I’m participating in for Mythic Scribes.

When I started writing it, this morning, I planned to make it a very short story. It was just going to be about King Norbit complaining about needing to renovate his throne room.

Then, this afternoon, I reread it and wrote another 1400 words as the characters had started to come alive for me and I could see the plot developing.

I think the biggest surprise was Doran Rustin being ousted from the quest by Sir Hugh Pendleton, and Princess Fenella revealing his past history.

Reading between the lines, I suspect that Sir Hugh has a secret agenda and a reason for wanting to prevent Sir Lanceypot’s squire from going on the quest.

I’m glad that Princess Fenella cares about her sister and wants to help her, despite their sibling rivalry.

I had fun writing this today, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Jacqueline

Day 8-Setting Prompt-Write a story in which the setting is slowly being destroyed.

A Departure, A Portrait and A Plan by Jacqueline Miller

(1,800 words)

The following morning dawned fine and bright, if a little chilly. There was much bustle and excitement in the Royal Court as the knights prepared for their departure.

The company had been asked to assemble in the castle courtyard around sunrise, but they were delayed because many of the knights had hangovers from drinking the red ale at the Bloody Banguet the previous night. Several had been sick or overslept. Messengers were sent to rouse them, usually by throwing buckets of cold water over their heads.

The wizard, Zol, secured the services of several servants to carry down his luggage, which included a gigantic cauldron, two changes of robes and three large books. He hobbled along the corridors, groaning loudly to anyone within earshot about the stupidity of sending an old man on a quest.

Sir Hugh Pendleton, who was to lead the expedition, strode up and down the courtyard, inspecting horses, grooms and supplies. He gave lists of items to Doran Rustin and the other squires to check. A few page boys were also accompanying the party, and their tearful mothers had assembled nearby to hug them and wave goodbye.

The Royal Princess, Charmane, was also tearful. She was attended by her lady in waiting, Iris, and her maid, Susan. These ladies were to travel in a special royal coach. The Princess groaned and moaned and pretended to faint. She had to be dragged out of the castle by force and carried, kicking and screaming, into the coach.

A fresh portrait of the princess was strapped to the roof of the carriage .

The Royal Artist, Roger Pigasso, had finished painting it during the early hours of the morning, and the paint was still wet on the canvas.

The artist did not consider it one of his best creations for he had been in a foul mood when he painted it. In trying not to flatter the princess he knew he had rather veered to the other extreme. The girl in the portrait had an impossibly long, very pointed nose, green skin, red rimmed lopsided eyes and an unattractive scowl. He had hesitated before placing his signature at the bottom.

King Norbit, however, had been delighted when he saw the picture.

“That’s more like it,” he said. “Perhaps this will do the trick, Roger. This should put the Goblin King off any ideas of marrying into my family!”

“Perhaps we should also send a portrait of yourself, your majesty” Roger remarked bad temperedly. He had dark circles below his eyes and wore an expression as black as his clothes.

King Norbit peered up at the artist who was at least a foot taller than he. His majesty was unsure whether this was a remark of flattery or insolence. He decided to give the artist the benefit of the Royal doubt.

“No, no, this should suffice. But, once we’ve renovated the throne room, I’d like to commission you to paint me a new portrait, Roger. Take note: I’d like an enormous one of me which we’ll hang on the Southern wall of the chamber. I shall be depicted sitting on the throne, dressed all in gold, of course, and holding my new golden Geranium Cup.”

Roger merely scowled and nodded. He muttered to himself about artistic integrity and creative freedom, slunk moodily back into the shadow of the castle wall, and hurried off in the direction of his studio and his bed.

Princess Fenella was also up early. Having witnessed her sister’s tantrums and been unable to persuade her father to change his mind about sending Princess Charmane to Verucka, she gave it up as a lost cause and decided she would have to work subversively to save her sibling and her lover.

Now, trying to look as natural as possible, she wafted into the Royal stables, expecting to meet the Green Knight, but there was no sign of him.

“Oh, where can he be?” she asked, crossly. “He promised to be here at daybreak.”

Fenella’s suit of armour was hidden under the straw in one of the haylofts. She checked that it was still there, together with her sword and some other essentials. She sighed and walked over to the stable yard. Knights in full armour had mounted their horses and were trotting in procession out towards the drawbridge.

A couple of the knights saw her and nodded their heads as they passed.

The princess recognised one of them as having written a sonnet to her only last week. It was called, ‘Ode to a beautiful fair haired maiden’, and was about noble courtly love as viewed from afar.

She felt compelled to shout: “Good luck and god speed,” and to smile as if she didn’t have a care in the world.

When they were out of sight, she reentered the stables and hurried over to the stalls. Her stallion, Sonar, greeted her, shaking his chestnut head and nuzzling her arm.

Fenella kissed the stallion’s nose.

“What shall we do, my darling, if he does not come?” She gave her horse some strips of carrot. “Perhaps I was foolish to trust him?”

Sonar nuzzled her again, then whinnied as someone entered the stables.

Fenella looked up, expecting to see the Green Knight. Her hopes were dashed as she recognised Doran Rustin. He was limping and there was a gash across his lip.

He seemed to be in some pain.

“What’s wrong?”Fenella asked.

Doran tried to bow. “Good morning, your Royal Highness.”

The squire sat down on a small wooden stool.

“I thought you were leaving this morning?”

“So did I, your Royal Highness, but Sir Huge – I mean, Sir Hugh Pendleton has decided he does not want me as his squire. He’s taking his own squire, Horatio Higgins, instead, and leaving me behind.”

“Oh, how terrible!” Fenella cried, sympathetically. “But your lip is bleeding and what’s wrong with your leg? And how will they find Sir Lanceypot without you to guide them?”

“I gave them directions. Sir Hugh fought in Verucka once before and knows the lie of the land. Truth to tell, I think Sir Hugh dislikes me. We…er…we had a bit of a row.”

Fenella screwed up her face.”I must admit, I find Sir Hugh a bit of a pompous brute,” she said. “He persuaded my father to knight him and to give him land when he returned from that quest. I believe he took far more land than was gifted. But my father was too stupid to notice. My sister told me all about it. Sir Hugh wanted my sister to marry his son, you know, but she would have nothing of it. I admire her for that! I’m distressed that she’s been forced to go to Verucka. I thought she was made of sterner stuff.”

“Sir Hugh labelled me a sissy because I wept for our lost comrades,” Doran confided. “He struck me and called me a coward because I said I’m war weary.”

Fenella handed him a handkerchief to wipe his lip.

She looked at the squire with interest as a plan began to form in her mind. “I know you are not a coward, Doran. I’ve seen how loyal you are to Sir Lanceypot and how you respect him.”

The squire looked at the princess with troubled eyes.

“Not only that: Sir Lanceypot respected me. He said he would make me a knight at the end of our quest. It was he that persuaded the goblins to send me here with a ransom note. He particularly told me to tell the Princess Fenella not to worry, and that he loves her.”

Fenella sighed and moved closer to the knight. She lowered her voice to a whisper.

“Doran, listen carefully, I have a proposition and a plan. You may yet be able to save your master…”

Up in the Royal Chamber, the King stood at the window and watched the company departing below. He waited until the last horseman and flag bearing the Zanderlands emblem had passed through the drawbridge and disappeared along the road.

“Good luck, my brave fellows,” he muttered to himself. “And may you succeed in bringing back the golden Geranium Cup.”

The castle seemed quiet and empty. He wandered into the throne room but that was deserted too, except for the guards standing at the door.

The room still bore all the marks of the dragon’s attacks. The Mayeaux Tapestry was burnt almost beyond recognition. Solid gold cups and bowls were dented or partly melted. They were haphazardly stacked in piles around the room.

The King had a sudden inspirational thought. He hurried over to the royal gong and hit it with the golden hammer.

“Boinggggg; boingggg!”

Within seconds, his royal adviser, Ethelbert the Wise, had hurried into the room.

“You rang, my Leige?”

“Yes. I have been thinking.”

“Well done, your majesty.”

“Look around you, Ethelbert.”

“Yes, your highness.”

“What do you see?”

“Why, the throne room, sire.”

“Do you? Do you know what I see?” This was evidently rhetorical and so Ethelbert did not reply. “I see a setting that is slowly being destroyed!”

The King walked over to the molten mass that had formerly been the throne.

“I cannot sit on this without sliding to the floor.” He pointed at the tapestries. “Look at these: all burnt and charred.” He indicated the red velvet chairs. “The seats are black.”

He frowned and continued, “Everything needs to be repaired, renovated or replaced. Please see to it, Ethelbert.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

The King walked over to the door.

“I shall require a new cabinet to house my collection of golden cups. Make sure there is a space for the Golden Geranium Cup, which we should have obtained within the month. Perhaps this very week!”

The king smiled, hopefully, and added,

“Oh, and Ethelbert.”

“Yes sire?”

“Make sure you get costings from different tradesmen. Go with the cheapest. This latest quest is a big drain on the Royal Purse. Please inform the peasants that their taxes will be rising by a penny a week forthwith.”

“Are you sure that’s wise, your majesty?”

“It may not be wise, but it is necessary!”

And so saying, the king departed.

Ethelbert sat down wearily on one of the damaged chairs. As usual, the king had left it to him to do his dirty work.

Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.