Looking out the window, the rain is coming down. Thunder rumbles in the background and I have two very large dogs thinking it is the apocalypse. Welcome to my world. I have been promising the coming of the Lazarus Men for a while now, mostly to draw you in- you know it worked….
So I have spent the majority of the morning formatting the manuscript to be published through Lulu. These are the same folks who originally published 50 Shades of Grey and we all know how that turned out. Fingers crossed for similar results.
Additionally, I am down to the final four chapters of the final book in a brand new four book series that I begin waaaaaay back in 1996 when I was stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea. I found the manuscript in a binder, dusted it off, and decided to finish what I began so long ago. I’ve enjoyed the creation of this new world, though there have been obstacles and roadblocks along the way.
While my mind struggles to come up with a new world to explore I decided to treat you all to a now published tale I call Where Have All the Elves Gone? Sit back, buckle in, and enjoy. This is going to be a long and wild ride. Read on my friends, read on.
Where Have All the Elves Gone?
Daerdalon roared in agony as the crystal spear stabbed into his heart. The Dark Elf clutched desperately at the haft, trying to dislodge it before it was too late. Enchanted, the crystal spear was like poison. Smoke and steam issued from his pores. Viscous fluids leaked from the corners of his thin eyes and drooled from his ears and nose. His mouth twisted in pain as he clawed at his slayer. Hatred blazed in those red eyes, forever damning the man who had killed him.
Tavis Halfhand took a step back and watched as his lifelong enemy started to dissolve. Running the crystal spear through his heart had been exhilarating and climactic. The great plague of the world was ending, all in one fell swoop. Justice had come to claim Daerdalon — justice long in coming. His evil had turned the surrounding kingdoms into mockeries of life. Trees and bushes had died. The people, those foolish enough to remain, were downtrodden and beaten into submission by the seemingly endless cadre of ogres and trolls. Not until Tavis and his band of brave heroes had sought out and found the crystal spear had anyone dared to hope.
This momentous day restored hope to a broken world. Tavis struggled not to smile. Proud of his deeds, his thoughts turned back to his beloved Annisha. Once the most beautiful woman in the eastern kingdoms, she was now little more than a decaying corpse in an unmarked grave. His quest for revenge may have been satisfied, but it left a hollow pit in his heart. He was nothing without her.
The ground began to tremble. Fires erupted from a hundred fissures. The air turned dark with smoke and ash. Tavis wrenched the crystal spear from the defeated Daerdalon and fled before he became the dark elf’s last victim. Powerful legs carried him into the open ground, and he ran for his life. Much of the surrounding countryside collapsed in on itself, scant meters behind him. His breathing was ragged. His lungs burned. His legs struggled to move faster. Tavis knew he was going to die.
The gryphon swooped down low, coming in from behind, and snatched Tavis into the air a moment before the ground beneath him dropped away. Tavis looked down and watched the ruin he had caused with a sense of satisfaction. It was over. He had won. The darkness of Daerdalon was ended, and life had the chance to prosper once again.
Daniel Thomas leaned back in his chair and cracked his knuckles. He exhaled a long, slow breath; staring at the words he’d just finished typing. For the thousandth time, he almost wished he were Tavis Halfhand, swashbuckling his way across the worlds of his imagination and rescuing all of the maidens he could. Well, maybe not that last part. He was sure what Sara, his wife, would say about that! Daniel chuckled softly. The thought of having a few adoring, scantily clad women hanging around desperate to prove their gratitude lingered just a while longer.
Unfortunately, real life wasn’t quite so glamorous, or dangerous, as his imagination. Oh, he’d had his time in life-threatening situations. A brief stint in the Army had been enough to send him to Afghanistan and then Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. Sara constantly got on him for having old Army memorabilia in the house. She argued that it influenced their kids too much. He always shrugged and asked, “What do you want me to do about it? It’s part of who I am.”
The rigid structure of Army life was not for him, however, and he got out after his six-year enlistment. Besides, combat wasn’t what he’d imagined when he was a kid playing with his brother in the backyard. Stick guns and running around yelling “bang, bang, bang” wasn’t even remotely close to the horror and fear he’d felt when the shooting was for real. The feeling of when he’d killed his first enemy soldier was incomparable to anything his mind could conjure. There were simply no words for the mixture of raw emotions colliding in his heart and mind when he envisioned the man pitch backwards in death. It still bothered him, from time to time. That face would never leave his dreams.
Daniel had tried his hand at a few odd jobs here and there, but nothing called to him. That listless feeling was the most infuriating he’d ever had. Always having an overactive imagination, it was no stretch for him to make up fantastical stories to tell his children when he tucked them in at night, and they loved it. Soon, he did too, and the first inklings of turning those stories into a novel had popped into his head. That was all it took. He ‘d toiled day and night, much to Sara’s admonishment, until he had more than one hundred thousand words finished.
That novel, Rise of the Dark Elves, was quickly picked up by one of the bigger agencies in New York City and then a major publishing house. Daniel relished in how greedily his first book was consumed by the strong fantasy base across the country. Rise of the Dark Elves went on to become a New York Times bestseller for nearly six months, and Daniel became one of the most sought after authors in the country. His book tours were resounding successes followed perpetually by speaking engagements, writer’s workshops and even a stint as a guest judge in a few of the more well-known amateur competitions. Daniel Thomas had finally found out what he wanted to do with his life.
He followed up his first breakthrough novel with three more, all set in a mythical world filled with elves, dwarves, dragons and wizards. His fans couldn’t get enough, nor could the publishing world. His success was a goldmine for the big timers in the City.
Then the dark times fell on the fantasy world. Elves just weren’t popular anymore. The dramatic decrease in sales left him reeling. All people wanted to read about, it seemed, were vampires and silly teenage girls falling in love with monsters that should be depicted as tearing out throats. No one cared about elves. Sure, the movie adaptation of the Hobbit helped for a while, but even that was short lived.
Daniel found himself in a dying market, and it was unsettling. His name no longer took top billing at events. Lines at book signings dwindled to all but the most diehard of fans. His agent continued to try selling his latest novels, but each consecutive one was harder and harder to get off the shelves. Residual income from his string of successes shrank, forcing him to find part-time work at the local grocery store stocking shelves at night. It wasn’t much, but it helped pay the bills and take his mind off the steadily devolving market.
Still, no part of the situation was strong enough to dissuade him from pursuing his one true love. New stories and characters sprung into his mind at random, so fast he could barely put the words on paper. Sara didn’t understand it. He couldn’t properly explain it. Writing was the best form of stress relief, taking his mind off his problems, the stress of being at home during homework time with the kids, keeping the house clean, and so on. That, and, not to brag, he was pretty damn good at it.
Hitting “save,” he drafted an email, attached the file, and fired it off to his agent. There. All done. Daniel slid the chair back and left his study. His back hurt a little from being hunched over the keyboard for so long, but the satisfaction of putting those two most magical words on the last page filled him with euphoria. It also left him hungry. A quick glance at the dark cherry grandfather clock showed that it was close to six thirty. Dinner time. And hopefully, he’d missed homework time.
He smelled dinner long before entering the kitchen. Fresh tomatoes and basil mixed with ground Italian sausage. Fresh Italian bread warming up in the oven filled the hallway with the most pleasant aroma. The only thing better was a fine cigar with his bourbon after the kids went to bed. It had become a ritual. He’d take the page with scribbled notes on storylines and word counts and burn it the night he finished the rough draft. That, a cigar, and some of Kentucky’s finest finished the night properly. Of course, there was always the chance Sara was feeling a little frisky. He broke into another smile and entered the kitchen.
Coming up behind Sara, he slid an arm around her waist and leaned in to kiss her neck. “I love it when you smell like that.”
She smiled before pushing his wandering hands away. “Dan, I’m making dinner, and the kids are in the other room.”
“You’re no fun. What happened to the risk-taking girl I fell in love with?”
She snorted, stirring the homemade red sauce. “She got married and had kids. Now, if you’re finished, I could use some help getting dinner on the plates.”
“No rest for the wicked, I see,” he chided and went to the cabinet to pull out the plates. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give Sara a light slap on her butt. After all, she was next to irresistible in the plum shirt and black skirt. They may be pushing forty, but she was doing a superb job of maintaining her figure.
He frowned, looking down at his steadily developing belly. Not that it was big, but he wasn’t the scrawny hundred and fifty pound kid that had joined the Army anymore. His workouts now consisted of walking their two Bernese Mountain Dogs, and that was more than enough. They were well over one hundred pounds and capable of pulling his arms out of their sockets if they wanted, and they wanted quite a bit as far as he could tell. He loved those dogs and was willing to suffer a few strained muscles for the enjoyment and adoration they showed in such a simple act.
“All right, spill it. What’s got you acting so strange?” Sara asked suddenly. Her hands were on her hips, and she gave him a cross look.
Daniel turned. “What? Can’t a fella be happy?”
“Not without an ulterior motive,” she replied just tartly enough to get a rise out of him. “Let me guess, you discovered the cure for cancer.”
“If I could be so lucky. No. If you must know, I finished my latest book today,” he fired back, pretending to be a little hurt. “I sent it to Ariel already.”
“What did she say?” Sara turned back to stirring her sauce. A quick taste told her it was ready. She pushed him out of the way and started to serve.
“I won’t find out until tomorrow. I’m hoping this one will be easier to sell,” he told her and shrugged. “We’ll see. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
She nodded. “Well, uncross them and get your children. It’s feeding time at the zoo.”