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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Sthulabhadra

Sthulabhadra appears to have been born into a life of privilege. His father was the chief minister to the last king of the Nanda dynasty, and his younger brother was the king's personal bodyguard. Unlike his father and brother, who lived lives of service to their beloved king, Sthulabhadra dedicated himself to the pleasures of life, and fell in love with a royal dancer (so far, I am liking your style Sthulabhadra!). He was so devoted to her, it seems that he pretty much ignored everything else, including his family, who apparently wanted him to return home.

After his father's death (of which the circumstances are quite interesting and sudden) Sthulabhadra was offered his father's position -- chief minister -- but he didn't accept immediately. Unsurprising, considering his lifestyle, I suppose. For the last 12 years he'd been living it up with his lady, who clearly was quite talented in her arts. If I had been Sthulabhadra, I would have thought long and hard about taking up the post, too, because in my experience of history, rising that high in government tends to alter one's life dramatically, and judging by the behavior of the rest of his family, it required a certain amount of devotion and self-sacrifice which heretofore he had shown no interest in, content with his dancer-lady-friend. Not that I blame the guy!

In any event, Sthulabhadra thought it over. And thought it over some more. And then he decided that he'd been wasting his life, and rather than take the post and be of service to his king, he was going to GIVE UP EVERYTHING, POST HASTE, and become an ascetic monk.

Evidently, this new lifestyle agreed with him. So much so, that twelve years later, he went to go face his Royal Dancer Ladyfriend, and convert her to his way of life. She tried all her wiles and skill and dancing talents to lure him back to her at the court, but Sthulabhadra was impervious to her charms! After four months, she admitted defeat, and Sthulabhadra returned to his guru, having succeeded not only in proving his own resolve, but in semi-converting her.

But here is where things became sadly tame. It seems the thing Sthulabhadra did which was so objectionable to Bhadrabahu was simply this: he showed off to his sisters by turning himself into a lion.

Sthulabhadra, you had so much promise! If only you were a little bit more awful, and a little bit less awesome at being a monk. Now I'm inclined to think that Bhadrabahu was short sighted, stubborn, and paranoid instead of reasonably terrified by your corruption!

That's not to say that I can't still make this work -- it just means I'm probably going to offend a lot of Jainists if I do.*

*Maybe I should apologize ahead of time for that, too. Practitioners of Jainism, I AM SO SORRY.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aesir Legal (XIII)

When last we left our heroes, CERTAIN DOOM was coming with an ominous rumble that WASN'T thunder. Erhm. This time, at least. And! We did solve the mystery of Tyler possibly dying! So I guess this doom must be...

The overlarge doors of the hall flew open, and I made a sound of dismay, taking a half-step back even as my fingers grasped Thor’s tunic more tightly. Sif had borrowed Freyja’s boar, harnessing him to a chariot of blinding gold and patterned with sheaves of wheat. That particular set of doors led only to bifrost, and from bifrost straight to Asgard, but the polite thing to do would have been to leave your boar-drawn-chariot parked outside on the flagstone courtyard. Sif, however, drove it straight into the hall at speed, golden hair flying, and aimed it directly at me.

“Halt, Sif!” Baldur called out, stepping out in front of us.

The tension in Thor’s shoulders eased just slightly as his brother moved between Sif and me. I exhaled, and took back the half-step I’d given her, if only to stand that much closer to Thor. It didn’t matter all that much anymore, I supposed, if she thought we were carrying on an affair or not. But it would be a shame to die for something I wasn’t actually guilty of doing. My gaze traveled over the powerful line of Thor’s shoulders, and I was suddenly very aware of the muscle beneath my hand on his back.

He froze, shooting me a storm-cloud glance over his shoulder. Sparks slipped up my arm, dancing through my blood. My heart skipped. From the tingle of current coming off his body, or the way he was looking at me, I wasn’t sure, but I did know one thing: in that moment, we were thinking the exact same thoughts.

“So it’s true!” Sif snarled, her chariot pulled up short by Baldur, who had only had to look at the boar to slow its stampede. “You’re in love with this mortal?”

Thor dragged his gaze back to the problem at hand. “As I am no longer your husband, Sif, I cannot see how it is any of your business one way or the other. You have no grounds for offense or insult. Is this not true, Baldur?”

“It is true,” Baldur agreed, frowning. “Unless Thorskona has given insult to Sif in some other manner, she has no claim.”

Sif’s eyes narrowed, glowing gold. “You use Baldur’s justice as your shield, but he will not always stand between us, and his law does not reach into mortal lands! Once this Thorskona leaves Asgardian soil, she is mine!”

“And you would break the Treaty of Nine Worlds?” Thor demanded. “Tear us from the earth once more, and lock us again in Asgard just to feed your jealousy?”

“Um,” Mia said, at my elbow, and I realized she and her zombies had joined us, forming a horseshoe around me in a last line of defense. “I might be confused, of course, but it seems to me that all of this would be nicely settled if Amaliaz just became an Asgardian citizen. Then she’d be protected by Baldur’s justice all the time, right?”

Sif hissed. “Is this mortal another of your playthings, Thor?”

“Most certainly not,” he said, but his eyes had lit with something like appreciation as he glanced at Mia and her Zombies. “Admiral Hayson’s friends are not overfond of my company at all. But Baldur, would it serve?”

Baldur did not take his eyes from Sif, his gaze more stone than silver. “Provided Thorskona met the requirements for citizenship – you have trained her, have you not?”

“I’m a little bit rough on the poetry parts,” I admitted, glancing at Bragi, who still looked a little crisp around the edges. “But I’ve seen those forms, Baldur. They’re all written in nonsense, thanks to Bragi.”

“An oral examination would serve,” Thor said. “It has been done before.”

“Yes,” Baldur agreed. “Certainly it would, under the circumstances. We could not trust Bragi to give a fair assessment, regardless.”

“No!” Sif launched herself from the chariot, fingers curled into claws and arms outstretched.

Thor and Baldur shifted immediately to shield me, weapons of choice in hand. I wasn’t really sure where Baldur had pulled the sword from, but he held it as naturally as Thor did Mjolnir.

But Sif wasn’t aiming for me this time. Her golden fury was set on Mia. 
***
I know, I know. Mia led you to believe this would be the last episode, and I REALLY TRIED you guys, I did! But it just did not work out that way. SO. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK, same bat time, same bat channel!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sthulabhadra the Monk

I'm revising GENERATIONS again (because I can) and as a result, I'm doing some new research. I needed a historical figure born in roughly 279 BC, and as is my habit, I turned to Wikipedia, which has handy lists of things like births and deaths and rough timelines of major events for any decade in any century -- hardly comprehensive, of course, but convenient for someone looking for ideas.

Westindischer Maler um 1400 001What I found, or rather, the historical figure I found, born in 279 BC, was Sthulabhadra. Now, ordinarily, a Jainist monk would have been the absolutely opposite of what I was looking for. The character who would reside inside him was anything but peaceful, and certainly he does not have any respect for life other than his own, and how the living world might serve his own agenda. And according to wikipedia, Sthulabhadra is not just a Jainist monk, but also considered by some to be "the originator" of Śvētāmbara, because he introduced/permitted the practice of monks covering their mouths with a white cloth, to keep from breathing in small organism, and inadvertently causing their deaths.*

But there was something else mentioned about Sthulabhadra, in every wikipedia article in which he's referred. Sthulabhadra did something not quite right. What exactly he did I haven't yet uncovered -- these are early days yet -- but it seems that somehow, he corrupted the sacred teachings of his faith, the purvas, and used them for something so frowned upon, that his teacher, the monk Bhadrabahu, refused to reveal to him the last four of these sacred concepts, for fear that the teachings would be corrupted and abused. Bhadrabahu refused, knowing that not sharing this knowledge would result in its complete loss.

And that, my friends, is much more like it. Because if there is one thing my character knows how to do, one thing he has mastered, no matter the restrictions placed upon him by the world, it is the corruption of faith for his own ends.

Hello, Sthulabhadra. It seems that you were just what I was looking for, after all.

*This is in the interest of practicing Ahimsa, which literally means the avoidance of violence, and one thing I DO love about Indian history and religion and mythology is that there are words for everything. It is such a rich tradition and culture, in every respect. That richness, however, is also part of what keeps me away from it -- there is just SO much to learn, and I know that no matter how much research I do, I'm going to miss something important. For which I will just go ahead and apologize now. INDIA, I AM SO SORRY.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Aesir Legal (XII)

I was invited on a bit of a last minute road trip this week, so I'm afraid that you'll have to make do with a single episode, rather than our usual double awesome!

SO!

Head over yonder to Mia's blog for this week's installment of Aesir Legal!! I'll be honest with you -- I have no idea what she's got planned, but knowing Mia, I am SURE it will be the funnest fic around!

See you next week, friends and followers!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thor Sandwich RESULTS

So. We have an official winner! (And um, Mia. Who wrote a fabulous entry for us, in spite of the fact that she is not in the USA and therefore can not actually win, technically. She's still a winner in my heart, especially since her entry is both a story AND a picture!) But without further ado, the Thor Sandwich Blog Contest Winner is: 

CAIT!

Shoot me your addresss and your preference for trading card action, and I will send some your way. (I totes could have just emailed you but I said I'd announce on the blog so I am announcing on the blog!) ALSO, allow me to present to you, Cait's most excellent short story! With a side of my sandwich!
My awesome Sandwich, rescued from the camera at last!

THOR'S SANDWICH


Thor’s red-gold eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he lowered the final piece onto his masterpiece. The bread settled into place with barely a sound, and the god stepped back with a grin to admire his work.

Now THAT, he thought, is a SANDWICH.

“Thor!”

The smile became a scowl. “Your timing is atrocious, Freyr,” he growled.

The other god rolled his eyes. “Forget your stomach, Thor. Loki’s chasing your goats again.”

Thor sighed. Damned menace. Loki seemed to find particular delight in tormenting his goats. It was really rather absurd. He shot a longing look at the beautiful stack of edible art that was his dinner, and his stomach rumbled. “Freyr…”

“I’ll make sure no one touches it.”

“Thank you,” he said, hefting his hammer. Loki wouldn’t be at all pleased when he finished with him.

***

Thor waved to Freyr and let his hammer drop beside him. Loki always seemed to take such joy in messing with him at the absolute worst times. He shrugged it off and heaved a satisfied smile as he settled into the seat, staring lovingly at his sandwich. Even in his hands, it was still huge. The lettuce crunched as he raised it to his mouth.

“Thor!”

He squeezed his eyes shut and resisted the urge to reach for Mjolnir. “What?” he snarled.

Thrud glanced from her father to the sandwich he was trying very hard not to crush. “Um. I’m sorry, but Odin wanted you...”

He growled to himself, and set the sandwich down gently. He shot a glance at his daughter, and she flinched at the lightning in his eyes.

“I’ll make sure no one touches it,” she swallowed.

Thor took a deep breath. “Thank you.”

***

“Damn it, Baldur!”

“I am sorry, Thor, but they prayed to you! You need to answer!”

“But I just…” Thor’s countenance fell as he shot a longing glance at his sandwich.

“It will hardly take you more than a moment. Your supper will still be here when you return.”

Thor grumbled, but Baldur at least had the good grace to look sorry.

***

“Sif…” He was beginning to despair of ever seeing his sandwich again.

“Please, husband? It will only take a moment…”

***

“Heimdall…!” he groaned. “Why me?”

“You control the lightning, Thor. What would take me hours will take you seconds.”

“Does it have to be now?”

Heimdall’s golden eyes stared back, and Thor sighed again.

***

“Thor, please?”

“No, Thrall!”

“But Nidhogg…!”

Thor’s head fell to his hand.

***

“FOR THE LAST TIME, NO!!!”

Thor’s shout rocked Asgard, sending lightning shattering through the aether. His eyes glowed blinding white, and electricity flickered across his skin. The gods all stood, staring.

“Now,” he said, steadying his breathing. “I am going to go eat my sandwich. And the next person who interrupts me will find Mjolnir in their face. Are we clear?”

His eyes flashed back to blue as he turned, sweeping his gaze across the assembled company. No one moved. Thor gave a small smile, and stalked back to his seat. Hammer still in one hand, he picked up his sandwich, settled back, kicked his feet up, and took a bite.

Now THAT, he thought again, is a damn fine sandwich.

And a finer Thor sandwich story, I never did see.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Aesir Legal (XI)

While Mia and Tyler are suffering through Baldur's interrogation, Amaliaz, Thor, and the rest of the zombies, have been left to their own devices... with Bragi. Poor planning on someone's part, that's for sure.

We were alone in the room. Well, except for the zombies, now busying themselves pasting the collected gold coins to the walls under Adam’s supervision. Bragi was pinching his nose as if it had been trying to bleed, and Thor had turned half-toward the closed door, his head cocked, his grip on the axe still white-knuckled.

“What?” I asked him.

He pressed a finger to his lips, silencing me, and his eyes narrowed. Thunder gods have better hearing than you’d think, considering all the thunder blasting out their eardrums, but if Thor was listening for something, I had no idea what it might be, and I didn’t see how he could hear anything over the zombies scrabbling about the other side of the room.

But apparently, whatever he’d been hoping to hear reached him, because his eyes flashed a brilliant blue-white, and he bared his teeth in a way I recognized as the opposite of a smile.

“Thor –”

I was too late. In one motion, he had spun, grabbed Bragi by the collar of his shirt, and slammed him against the wall, the axe blade pressed against his throat, just below his ear.

A line of blood bloomed beneath the steel, and Bragi made a garbled noise, half-protest, half-shock. I wasn’t the only one staring. The zombies had all stopped scrabbling and pasting, their eyes wide.

“What did you tell her?” Thor growled.

“Thor,” I said again, catching his axe-arm by the elbow and trying to ease the blade away from his brother’s face. “Are you sure this is really a good idea…?”

Thunder gods are immoveable forces AND unstoppable objects, and Thor wasn’t in any mood to listen, besides. But the fact of the matter was, getting all defensive now would only confirm whatever suspicions Bragi had. Thor was making us look guiltier by the minute. Not that we weren’t guilty. And that was the problem, really, wasn’t it? Because once, years ago, in the very beginning of our relationship, before I had learned the rules of not ever being more than friends with a thunder god, Thor had expressed an interest, and I had expressed one back. Um. Physically.

Of course, we’d been interrupted before the most critical stage by the electrocution, and my heart stopping, and the resulting emergency jump start via lightning and Thor’s palm. We had both learned a valuable lesson regarding the fragility of the human body when large voltages of electrical current are passed through it, and needless to say, we hadn’t tested it any further. Thor had been too guilty to even look at me, and it was months before we so much as brushed shoulders during a movie. But that was why he’d learned to refine his life-saving techniques – even Thunder gods are guilty of wishful thinking, I guess, and there was always the off-chance I might get singed in a scuffle.

But if Sif learned the truth, how close we had come to, ahem, consummating our feelings, this nonsense with Asgardian gold and Bragi would be nothing compared to what she’d rain down on my head. Sif was a goddess of prosperity and foodstuffs, in the modern day, as well as the typical beauty with a touch of fertility just to keep from being left out, and what she could give, she could also take away. I’d find myself lucky to call a cardboard box my home if she didn’t kill me outright with some disturbing and painful disease – financial ruin and sickness were just two of many things a thunder god couldn’t fight, no matter how heavily muscled he was. And Thor definitely had muscle to spare.

“I know what Adler told you,” Thor said, ignoring me. “What I do not know is what lies you used for embroidery, as I do not believe for a moment Sif would pay good Gold for a tapestry of spiders.”

“Poetic,” Adam muttered, and the zombies all murmured agreement. I shot him a look of exasperation and he cleared his throat, whistling innocently as he urged the other zombies back to their crafting.

“Nothing!” Bragi said, his face sickly grey. “Nothing, I swear. I spoke nothing but the truth!”

Thor’s eyes narrowed, blazing blue-white again. “And that was?”

“I only told Sif that you loved her,” Bragi said, clutching at Thor’s arm, and craning his neck to remove the pressure of the axe. “And the bit about the spiders, of course. I imagine there will be a hoard of them in the apartment when she gets back.”

I groaned. “Only.”

Thunder snarled, lightning snapping and sparking off Thor’s skin. The zombies scattered, chasing the flares of light that tumbled across the carpet.

“Death would be too honorable an end to you, brother,” Thor said. “I will see you suffer for eternity in a tub of Jormungand’s venom!”

I sank down the wall, hugging myself. I’d be wishing for the easy death of Jormungand’s venom before long, I was sure. For a mortal, it would be quick, if not painless. What Sif had in store for me, I could only imagine.

“This is even worse than the truth,” I mumbled. “A stupid affair, leaving me jilted – that would have been one thing. She might have been satisfied by mortifying me. Making all my hair fall out, or giving me boils and warts…”

Thor dropped his brother, kicking him hard in the ribs for good measure – the better to keep him down – and knelt before me, taking my face in his hands. “I will speak to Baldur, find some way to defend you within Asgardian law. If Sif has taken insult, she cannot refuse payment, and once she accepts, she will be bound by the agreement, no matter what.”

Bragi laughed, a weird wheezing sound as he clutched his stomach, rolling to his side. “Sif would demand so high a price, you could never repay it. But think of the poetry,” Bragi gasped. “Your name will be made immortal, Thorskona. It will be Sigurd and Brynhild, come again! My greatest work.”

Thor growled, and the room flashed brilliant, burning white, the crack of thunder so loud I thought my skull would split in half. When I blinked back the afterglow of lightning etched behind my eyes, Bragi was charred black, still, and silent.

“I will speak to Baldur,” Thor said again, loud enough for me to hear over the ringing in my ears. The zombies were moaning, but picking themselves up off the floor free of burns. “And we will find a way to keep you safe.”

Klikk for Mia's half of this episode!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Thor Sandwich Challenge ends TONIGHT!

Today is your last chance to enter to win Half-Naked Thor and other Avengers/Thor trading cards! Details are HERE, and you have until 9pm!! If someone does not fight over Half-Naked Thor, I think he'll be sad. And we wouldn't want to discourage him into putting a shirt on, now would we?

In the meantime, I present you with my OWN fabulous Sandwich picture*:



P.S. AVENGERS ROCKED MY SOCKS.

*I was going to show you my sandwich from the other day (Lemon Pepper Chicken, Prosciutto, Fresh Tomato, Assorted Lettuces, Swiss cheese, Balsamic vinegar, Sweet Pickles, and just a hint of mayo, on fresh Italian bread) but el husband made off with the camera before I could upload the picture!! If you're wondering, it was absolutely delicious. I only wish I'd had fresh basil to top it all off! I'll try to upload it later, provided he does not leave the camera at work for some less-important reason, like taking pictures of airplanes. Silly el husband, Sandwiches are More Important than AIRPLANES**!


** totally not in this house. El husband would go hungry before he gave up something airplane related. That may be a slight exaggeration, but only SLIGHT, I promise you.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Aesir Legal (X point 0)

When last we left our heroes, Amaliaz was preparing to behead Bragi, and everything was going swimmingly to that end until Mia knocked her out cold with a spoon. (She would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for Mia and her meddling zombies!)

I groaned. My skull felt like it had split open, and then I groaned again, because I would never get all the glitter washed out of my brains if it had. Glitter of the brain. If I opened my eyes and the world glinted and sparkled, I was going to slit my own throat. And Mia. Oh boy was Mia going to regret this. See if I ever asked Thor to resuscitate her again. I sat up carefully, holding my head just in case it decided to roll off somewhere. And then I stared.

Zombies were chasing bits of gold across the room while Mia, with Adam and Tyler’s help, pinned Bragi to the floor. Sweat beaded on Mia’s forehead, because Bragi was cursing her with a surprising lack of poetic imagery. Not to say he wasn’t being creative, and I didn’t want to be Mia when the magic behind his words finally sank through whatever protection she’d rigged. So far, she’d be suffering from indelicate boils, an unwholesome interest in farm animals, and a plague of…

“Enough!” Thor shouted, thunder cracking so loud the room shook.

I moaned. My head was going to explode if he did that again. Thor knelt beside me, his hand finding the lump on the back of my head and his eyes flaring blue-white.

“Forgive me for not following sooner.” His gaze burned across the room to Mia, kneeling on Bragi’s chest, and then he stiffened.

Slowly, he reached out, picking a piece of gold from a mess of feathers on the carpet. A coin, stamped with Yggdrasil, the world-tree one on side, and One-eyed Odin on the other. Asgardian Gold.

“Baldur!” Thor bellowed.

The moment Baldur stepped into the room, the zombies gave up their chase for gold coins, stumbling toward his shining brilliance instead. There were dozens of them. Each one a never ending supply of wealth to the owner. Thor turned the coin between his fingers, then passed it to his brother.

The glow of Baldur’s face dimmed, then darkened, and I realized suddenly that I had never in my life seen Baldur truly angry. His eyes flashed silver, and his expression hardened, as if he had been chipped from stone.

“Admiral Hayson,” he said, his voice unnaturally calm. “If you would be so kind as to release my brother?”

Mia shot me a questioning glance, and I shrugged. There was no possible way that Bragi could escape, now. And the way Baldur was looking at his brother, I had a feeling Bragi knew better than to try. Mia clambered up off Bragi’s chest, brushing stray feathers from her pants. Tyler and Adam waited until she had danced back a few steps before releasing Bragi’s shoulders and legs. The god of poetry snarled at them as he rose, dripping glitter and stained with zombie drool. But he didn’t meet Baldur’s eyes, or Thor’s.

“These creatures attacked Thorskona and then me in an entirely unprovoked manner!”

I wasn’t sure if it was because he’d stopped shining quite so attractively, or because they realized his patience was running dangerously thin, but when Baldur stepped forward, the zombies parted like the Red Sea before Moses. He bent, collecting the battle axe I’d dropped after Mia had dropped me, and examining the blade.

“Thorskona was carrying this when she entered the room?” he asked.

Bragi frowned. “I suppose she must have been.”

Baldur nodded once, then passed the axe to Thor. “Admiral Hayson, you and your zombies are to be commended. Had Thorskona reached my brother first, I have no doubt he would be lying in pieces upon the floor. You have the gratitude of the Asgardian Embassy, and, I am certain, my brothers. Thor and Thorskona both are in your debt.”

“Er,” Mia said. “Of course! Absolutely my plan all along!” She beamed at me, and I glared back.

“I wasn’t really going to kill him,” I grumbled.

“With that axe, I fear the outcome would have been beyond your control.” But Baldur was still staring at Bragi, his expression cool, and his eyes unfeeling. “Though considering the nature of his crimes, had you presented yourself to me for judgment at once, I would not have outlawed you for the murder, only suspended your rights of visitation.”

“Generous of you,” Thor said, his grip on the axe so tight his knuckles had gone white. “Considering the fact that our brother appears to have been planning treason, the punishment for which, had he succeeded, could have easily been execution.”

“Forgive me brother,” Baldur said, “but while I respect and admire Amalia, as she is not Aesir, nor a resident of Asgard of some other breed, I must remind you that it is not her place to stand in judgment over any god, regardless of Bragi’s sins.”

“Bragi would have seen her killed!” Thor roared. “And you would punish her for challenging him? For facing him in honorable combat, when he slinks and slithers behind all our backs?”

Baldur held up a hand for silence. “That Bragi brought Asgardian Gold into this embassy is clear. Whether he did so at the behest of Sif, we cannot yet know.” And Baldur’s silver gaze shifted to Mia and Tyler, who were carrying on a hissed conversation, their heads together. “Admiral Hayson, Mr – Tyler. I must speak with you at once.”
Episode X point V can be found HERE, as per usual.

Don't forget to enter the #HalfNakedThor contest!! It will only cost you a sandwich!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cupid&Co's Writer's Voice!

Title: Blood of the King
Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Query:

Arianna has lived in fear of her father, the king, since the day she saw him throw her mother to her death from the castle wall. The king despises her, convinced she is the product of the queen’s betrayal, and her future is grim: marriage to a man who will abuse her, if he does not get them both killed for treason first.

When she discovers an orc, beaten, chained, and trapped inside a magic mirror in the king’s tower, Arianna is struck not by horror, but hope. Her whole life, she has lived among her father’s nobles, men with pretty faces and cruel hearts. Even with his grey-green skin and curved tusks, Bolthorn is no monster. Beneath his heavy brow, his yellow eyes glow with warmth and kindness, and in his immense strength she cannot help but see her own freedom.

Bolthorn never imagined his prayers to the ancestors would be answered by this woman, whose strength of spirit rivals any orc's. He needs her help to warn his people before King Gunnar marches his army through the mountain to enslave the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is the love of a twisted creature, born to ice and darkness. No orc has ever been bound to a human, even if she can survive winter in the mountains. If she accepts his love, she will have no choice but to exile herself from everything she has ever known, for once they cross the mountain, there will be no return. And the bitter winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side.

With the blood of the king flowing in her veins, Arianna can open the magic mirror that imprisons Bolthorn and free them both. But if they are to escape to the orcs without bringing war with them, the king, her father, must die.

BLOOD OF THE KING is a 104,000 word romantic fantasy novel with a touch of Norse influence.

First 250:

The room was forbidden, but staring into the mirror hanging from the opposite wall, Arianna did not understand why. It was empty, but for the framed, silvered glass, the only light coming from the arrow slit windows, one on either side of the mirror. No tapestries hung on the rounded walls, no furnishings to speak of, and no hearth for a fire against the frozen north wind that bit at her nose and turned her cheeks red.

At first, Arianna only saw her own reflection in the glass, no more than a shadow of movement in the dim light. But when she moved away toward the arrow slits, something else stirred in the dark and a low growl filled the silence of the room, knotting her stomach. She froze, pressing back against the cold stone wall. Nothing stood behind her, to cast such a reflection, and nothing else moved in the room itself.

“Have you come to gloat?” a harsh voice called, thick and deep. “Is it not enough that you hold me hostage, you must taunt me as well?”

A breath of fear escaped her lungs, loud as thunder to her ears, and the too-tall shadow in the mirror shifted again, with a clank of chains and a flash of sickly grey skin behind the glass. Inside the glass?

“Who’s there?” the voice called.

She didn't dare answer. If whatever lived behind the mirrored glass told the king she had been in the tower, she’d be fortunate to escape with less than ten lashes. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A Festival of Food! (For Thor, with Prizes)

So here is the deal, friends and followers: I find myself in possession of a number of extra THOR and AVENGERS trading cards. Among these duplicates are a half-naked Thor, a Thor-in-the-mud and several Thor in the new bulging-biceps costume in various poses of flex. I think these trading cards deserve an appreciative home, and to this end, I feel the need to invoke the right of blog-contest.

YOUR CHALLENGE, if you choose to accept this throwing down of the gauntlet, is to engage in one of two activities to the glory of Thor in all his states of undress:

1) Find or make a fabulous sandwich, take a picture of said fabulous sandwich (and I am talking Dagwood levels of awesome, the taller the better), and leave me a link to this photography in the comments. (Then feel free to eat said sandwich. In fact, photos with a bite already taken out of the sandwich can sometimes be artistically interesting! Bonus points if you happen to include some kind of Thor anything in the picture! But not bonus entries, because I do not mess around with that nonsense.)

2) Write a short story (1000 words or less) which involves a sandwich, or sandwiching. Your character could be out to lunch, and the sandwich might be spilled in their laps, causing an uproar or a meeting of the eyes! Or maybe your characters are making sandwiches and fighting over who gets the last piece of lemon-pepper chicken! (Guys, Lemon-Pepper Chicken is AMAZING.) I do not care, really, what the situation is, as long as a sandwich is present in a crucial way. Maybe Thor is experiencing the excellence that is Jimmy Johns for the first time. Whatever! Write it, post it on your blog or in the comments, make sure I get the link!

I will totally post a master list of all links with your blog stories/sandwich photography on my blog after all entries are in.

You have ONE WEEK from today. All entries must be linked in the comments by May 8, 9pm eastern. I will choose one winner from each category (or, if there is only one category of entries, two winners from that category) and also draw one entry at random. This means you may enter once in each category (but you will only win once). The winners' names will be posted on this blog the following Tuesday, and if you send me your address within one week of the names being posted (USA only, sorry!) I will send you some AVENGERS/THOR trading cards, including at least ONE Thor card. If you want to include a preference (half-naked, Thor-in-the-mud, Any-Thor-will-do, forget-Thor-I-want-Loki/Odin/Hogun/NewHulkDude/Cap/AgentCoulson/NickFury etc) when you send in your address, I will do my best to accommodate, first come first serve.

Make Thor proud, friends and followers! But more importantly, have fun!