Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Silver Flower: Chapter 9

Another Chapter from my book: only three more to go! Enjoy it while it lasts. :P

Chapter Nine: The Legend of the Silver Flower

“The legend of the Silver Flower is a story well worth listening to, and many believe it to be as true as you or I.” Valkin started, his eyes closed and he had a gentle smile on his face as he remembered how he was told the legend by an old elf. Finally Justin broke the silence.

“Ye still havnae told us o’ the legend!” he exclaimed impatiently. Valkin laughed quietly and opened his eyes.

“Alright, I shall tell you the legend. It’s long, be prepared.” The children merely sat closer and let the story sink into their minds. Valkin began:

“Yes, a long and complicated legend is the legend of the Silver Flower.” He paused. The children exchanged looks, and he continued.

“The legend started as a simple story, a story easily believed, for we are a magical people. It is said that a long, long time ago, when elves were more plentiful than men in this country, there lived an old, wise elf. His name is not known, but back then he was an important person.

“One day, while working as usual on some odd concoction or another, the elf discovered a magical metal substance deep within his cave where he did all his work. He excitedly dug all of the metal out of the rock, but was somewhat disappointed how little there was. Only enough,” Valkin paused and ran his finger over the delicate flower pendant, “To make one silver pendant. The elf went right to work, melting the metal, cleaning it, crafting it. When he finished the pendant, he was pleased. The pendant, as I have said, was crafted out of a magical metal found only deep within certain caves, and it is extremely rare, even for magical folk like elves, to find it. The substance’s magical power is this: It can create anything you ask, it opens all locked doors, and it acts as an invisible shield to the one who wears it, however, it only works if the ones using it can come up with believable reasons to do it for others.”

Valkin took another deep breath, and looked at the children sitting in front of him. He smiled, took a drink of water, and proceeded.

“Because the Silver Flower is so rare and powerful, there were many who wanted to take the pendant from the wise elf and use it for their own gain. The elf knew this, and thought long on how he could protect it from the ones who would use it wrongly. At last, he came up with a plan. He took the Silver Flower out of its resting place. Donning on a disguise, he travelled the world for a time, getting to know men and their ways. After many years of this, he found at last a trustworthy family. They lived in a small Scottish village at the edge of a thick forest. Though poor, they were honest and hardworking. The elf liked what he saw, and as a parting gift bestowed the Silver Flower to the father, Flannigan Elliot. The man did not know what a powerful thing he had, and life went on as usual for the Elliot family.

“However, after a few generations, when men prospered in the land and the elves retreated to the forest for safety, their came another man, He was the great-great-great grandson of Flannigan Elliot. His name was Grant Elliot, and he was a fine hunter. He stumbled across a stone circle one day, and stepped inside it for a moment for there was a deer he had been following for some time just ahead of him through some bushes. Imagine his surprise when an elf stepped out from behind a bush and asked his business. Elliot told him the truth, being honest, but still he was brought before the king. Elliot was soon loved by all the elfish people and many gifts were exchanged. He had heard stories from his father and grandfather about the Magical Folk and had interest in their lives. He learned their language, made many good friends, including the mother and wife of the king. His name was spoken over the entire elfish kingdom of Dunnion, which is the kingdom we are in right now.” Valkin turned to Mary with a smile, and took another drink of water, stopping the legend long enough for a passing guard to leave.

“As a quick side note, though Mary and we elves already know this, our kingdom’s name means ‘Strength’. We are very proud of our defensive abilities.” He cleared his throat. The three children leaned forward again, eager for him to continue the story.

“Grant Elliot decided to look into his past, feeling that he must have been linked with the elves somehow, and found that a certain elf had given a gift to his great-great-great grandfather. He searched over his house for it and at last found it in a secluded closet in a little used room. He took out the Silver Flower, and decided to find out what exactly it was.”

“During a long conversation with the king’s mother, she mentioned a mysterious legend about a silver pendent. He casually prodded for more about it, and she told him the legend, he realized that when the elf seemingly ‘disappeared from the elfish kingdom’ he really was travelling throughout the world and at last came to Scotland on his way back, he thought from a failed mission. He then met Flannigan, Grant’s great-great-great grandfather, and found him to be an honest, hardworking man. He gave the priceless pendant to him, and then promptly left. Flannigan didn’t know how precious a possession he had, and the Silver Flower was soon forgotten. That is, it was forgotten until now. Grant now knew how precious the pendant was, and he kept it safe for a long time.”

“But he grew to be an old man, and had no children to hand the pendant down to, he had to find someone who was honest and kind, and wouldn’t try to use the pendant for their own gain. After a few years, he at last found three people, siblings, who he knew would use the pendant wisely. So when the time came for the kingdom to be saved, he sent those certain humans to help our kingdom.” Valkin stopped and looked into the siblings eyes. He smiled.

“Yes, you three are those certain people. He gave you that pendant for such a time as this, using it you can get out.” His eyes scanned over the three humans, and he nodded his head as if agreeing to some unspoken thought of his. “He made a wise decision I think, there is no evil in any of you.” Justin frowned slightly.

“How can we use the pendant to get us oot!” he said. Valkin smiled.

“You are always thinking ahead, Justin, this is good.” He sighed. “Now, to answer your question, the pendent can help you in many ways. It can blind the guards’ eyes as we escape under their very noses, it can be used as a file to get through the bars of out window, it can be used as a key and unlock our door. Any of these things it will do, but only if it is for others that you do it.”

The three children exchanged glances, and Duncan chewed his lip thoughtfully. There was a moment of silence before Duncan spoke.

“We need to get oot so ye can be crowned king.” He said. Mary’s head shot up, and she smiled.

“Aye and we need to get oot so Shetta can marry Glevanne!” she said. Justin grinned, and he slapped his knee.

“An’ let’s not forget our own parents. If we be stuck in here forever or be-headed, then they’d niver get over it.” The elves laughed as the three humans came up with their reasons and the siblings were now full of vigor and ready to leave, but the elves had to think of who they needed to get out for. There was another silence, and the siblings waited, somewhat impatiently until the elves came up with an answer. Dusak spoke first.

“I need to be free so I can help Valkin rule.” He said, stealing a mischievous glance at Valkin out of the corner of his eye. “He’ll need lots of advice.” Valkin gave his brother in law a playful punch in his shoulder, but then sobered as he said his reason.

“I need to be free for the kingdom.” He said. “If I don’t become king, our land will perish under the evil counselor’s lust for power.” The children and elves both nodded their heads; this was the best reason yet. Vinea said her reason as Duncan pulled the pendant off his neck.

“My reason seems so small compared to all of yours.” She said softly. “But I need to escape for my child.” Dusak, who was sitting on the very edge of the prison’s cot, jumped so high that he would have fallen onto the floor if Valkin hadn’t caught hold of the hood of his cape.

“W-what did you say?” he asked breathlessly. Vinea smiled.

“We’re going to have a child, Dusak.” He nearly fell off again.

“That’s what I thought you said! But I didn’t believe my ears.” He replied. He enveloped his wife in a hug, and tears of joy ran down both their faces. The children and Valkin discreetly remained silent, and Duncan clapped a hand over his mouth to suppress a laugh. The children and Valkin exchanged smiles of happy surprise. Duncan held the pendant to the lock, and the door opened as if it had never been closed and locked.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Silver Flower: Chapter 8

Finally! I'm on schedule! Here is chapter 8: have fun!
Chapter Eight: The Counselor’s Move

Evening fell and supper was served cold by a red-eyed Vinea. Valkin and Dusak hardly said anything, and the three children were silent also. Mary was worried. She had figured out who the prince was, so now her mind went back to the king. How could they help him, and would he get rid of the counselor?

She glanced over at Valkin, still puzzling over all this. His eyes met hers, and he gave a slight nod in the direction of the door. Mary frowned slightly, but looked away from him towards her brothers. Had they seen Valkin’s sign? She was relieved to see that they both had their attention on her, and she gave a quick nod. The boy’s exchanged glances, and they all went back to eating.

There was something, or someone, watching the house, and Mary did not like it. She felt a prickly sensation go down her back, and she knew she was being watched. She shuddered slightly, and glanced again at Valkin. The meal went on in silence.

Suddenly there was a crash, and the front door was flung open. Valkin, Dusak, Justin and Duncan all jumped from their seats and stood, ready to put up a fight if it came to that.  Ten heavily armed men came into the house and the leader spoke first, his voice rough.

“j seeta deddicae ru digumsy adeck tu pretik tendelle.” (I have orders to take you all to my master/leader) he said, his eyes sweeping over the elves and resting on the children. Mary’s eyes were ice, and she returned his stare, making him look away quickly. They didn’t have much choice in the matter, and accepted the fact that they were captured.

They were heavily guarded on all sides, making it clear that they were not to escape. The guards had tied their hands securely, and Mary’s hands ached. Duncan watched the guard nearest to him warily, and Justin did likewise. They were furious to not be able to do anything, especially when they saw their sister in pain. Their fierce eyes clearly told the guards to keep away from their sister, and so they kept their distance. Valkin, Dusak, and Vinea were kept separate from the children, and Mary was worried about the three elves. Undoubtedly, the counselor had a special punishment for them. She glanced worriedly up at her brothers, but they could only console her with a grim smile.

Duncan was looking straight ahead with his head held high, when he suddenly remembered Elliot’s gift, the Silver Flower. Immediately, he had hope. He stepped closer to Mary, the sibling closest to him.

“Mary, we still ha’ the Silver Flower!” he whispered softly. Mary’s eyes lit up. She turned to Justin, and told him. He smiled with satisfaction, but suddenly, his face clouded, and he whispered something to Mary. Her smile also disappeared, and she turned to Duncan.

“Where be it?” she asked softly. Duncan was relieved that was all that was wrong.

“‘Tis around my neck on a string fer safe keepin’!” he said, and Mary quickly told Justin. Now hopeful, the trio followed their captors all the way to the castle. A password was said softly, and the gate opened. Saden Flettica glanced at the children in some surprise, but pretended not to recognize them. Mary, Justin and Duncan did the same, merely glancing at him. They continued up to the throne room, but turned before actually entering it, into a smaller hall. The door was opened by another guard, and when the door shut with a bang the children and the elves were together again.

They found themselves in a fairly large room, and the windows on either side filled the room with daylight. On the far end sat the counselor behind a desk, and to one side of him stood Glevanne Addets. His eyes met with the children and elves’ only a moment before looking away again. Duncan racked his brain for a way to deliver the note from the princess he still had before he was searched.

The counselor was looking at them smugly. He turned to Glevanne and whispered something in his ear, to which the elf gave him a quick nod and walked over to them, and then the counselor spoke.

“My agent will now search you for any illegal items.” He said, with a triumphant gleam in his eye. Duncan swallowed a smile. It was perfect. Glevanne would find the note, and all would be well. Glevanne made a big show of searching the elves, taking Valkin and Dusak’s daggers and Vinea’s locket. He searched Mary and Justin, finding their pocket knives and taking them, and then he came to Duncan. He felt him over, and took his knife. He left the silver flower around his neck, hiding it more efficiently before moving on, and found the letter. His face only slightly changed and he hastily concealed the letter on his own person.

The search was now complete, and Mary looked at Duncan, who gave her a quick nod while the counselor wasn’t looking. The letter was delivered, now the pendant would come into play.

The children and the elves were put in the same cell, which they were all very grateful of, and Mary spoke to Valkin as soon as they had their bonds off and heard the echo of the guards’ footsteps end and then silence.

“Valkin,” she whispered, her eyes shining. “Before we went on this mission, Old Elliot gave us a silver pendant to protect us. It be a silver flower. Will it help?” Valkin’s eyes suddenly lit up with hope.

“A silver flower you said?” he asked. Mary nodded.

“Aye! He gave it to the boy’s. Duncan has it around his neck as we speak.” She replied. Valkin smiled.

“Yes, it will help! The Silver Flower is a legend older than the kingdom itself.” Mary was puzzled.

“It be a legend?” she asked. Valkin nodded, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes! You have not heard it?” the three children shook their heads; even Elliot had not told them this elfish story. Valkin smiled, leaning his head back against the damp prison walls and began the story.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Back Again/ The Silver Flower: Chapters 6&7

Yes, I am back again, at long last. The ending weeks of November and beginning week of December have been very, excruciatingly to be exact, busy.
First, I had some of my family gone for almost a week, and then we had relatives from Indiana coming for thanksgiving. Yeah, not the most relaxing thing right after a trying week of baby-sitting. (Not to mention one of my older sisters had her wisdom teeth extracted which means our family was down a helper, not good if there is a lot of baking to be done and extra cousins to be watched.) All that adds up to equal a very busy few weeks.
Anyways, all that to say, I'm am very sorry to have neglected you all shamefully the last couple of weeks, I beg your pardon, and now will continue to make up for it by posting two whole chapters of The Silver Flower. Enjoy! :)

Chapter Six: The King and the Counselor

The door creaked open a crack, and Mary heard the familiar voice of Saden Flettica.

“Halden kassit?” (What is your business?) He asked. Mary replied.

“j hesik tu gresi tu adenk tendelle.” (I want to speak to your master/leader.) She said. Saden recognized her, and with a smile, he opened the door.

“j lasen adenne gretae.” (I wish you [feminine] luck.) He said. Mary smiled gratefully.

“Adigen.” (Thank you.) She replied. “je reton ti.” (We need it.) They continued on, Saden helpfully pointed out the way. They recognized Glevanne’s door, and saw a glimpse of Dusak behind it, but they dared to show they knew him and continued on their way without so much as a glance in his direction.

They passed the tapestry of the queen, and Mary looked at it with a new respect in her eyes. The queen seemed to smile down at her, encouraging her to do the mission well. Next to this poster, Mary saw another for the first time. It was smaller, but the lady was dressed in rich gowns and looked like an older version of the princess, Shetta. She guessed that this must be the king’s young wife. She studied the faces of both women, frowning. There was something about those two faces that reminded her of someone, but she just could not place them. Next to the young bride was a picture of the princess herself, but after this there was a gap, as if someone had removed one of the tapestries, and then a tapestry of the king. She puzzled over this for a moment, but the boys were anxious, and pulled her away.

They continued down the hall, and at last came to what must be the throne room. They paused, for in front of the door stood two imposing guards. Mary spoke up tentatively.

“j hesik tu gresi tu adenk tendelle.” (I want to speak to your master/leader.) the guards exchanged surprised looks. A human, speaking their language? This had been unheard of since a man named Elliot came through. But these humans were children. Their surprise turned into curious excitement. For this was something exciting, and they wanted excitement. With a nod, the taller of the two guards swung open one of the doors, and the children stepped into a room far more magnificent than the hall.

It’s high ceilings were covered in beautiful, delicate designs, and from it hung glass lamps which had the appearance of icicles. Huge columns, also elaborately designed, supported the castle. Justin looked at the width and barely suppressed an admiring whistle. He knew he and Duncan could probably reach around the sides without being able to touch their fingertips together. 

They walked down the carpet that lay exactly down the middle of the room, and stood in front of the throne, waiting.

At the moment, the king was in a deep discussion with his counselor, and Mary could tell from the frantic movement of his hands and the telltale terror in his face that time was running short, the counselor was getting impatient and wanted the throne for himself soon. She cleared her throat with emphasis, and the king and counselor stopped immediately. Mary looked pointedly at the king when he asked their business in a still shaken voice.

“We wish this conversation to be private.” She said, and looked at the counselor. He whispered something into the king’s ear that made him turn pale, and then shuffled from the room with one last sneer toward the humans.

“What do you want?” the king asked, his voice tired and strained. Mary looked at him. She let her clear gaze meet his fearful one. The king dropped his eyes, and he motioned them closer. Mary’s gaze didn’t flicker.

“I have come with my brothers to tell ye a thing or two aboot yerself.” She said. The king’s face was a picture of confusion, and even Justin and Duncan wondered what Mary meant by that statement. She continued, pleased that the king didn’t know what she meant. “Ye have done something wrong.” She said, as if she was reading his guilty mind. The king started and looked at Mary, but she ignored this and continued, her blue eyes burning into the king’s brown eyes. “Ye think no one kens.” The king sat forward in his chair, and glanced nervously at the door the counselor had gone out from. Mary realized that her suspicion was correct, the counselor was eavesdropping. “Ye cannae hide no longer.” She said. “Others ken what went on in tha’ room where the good queen died.” The king jumped from his throne, and his eyes darted from Mary to her brothers and back again. He was worried. How much did they know, and how did they know it? Mary continued. “Aye.” She said with satisfaction. “Ye will not listen, fer ye dinnae believe me.” This was true, and the king’s attention was arrested again. “But ye had better, fer ye are a watched man, and ye have evil council.” There she had said it.

The king licked his lips and glanced again at the door. What did this girl mean? How could she be so bold in such danger filled times? He was puzzled, and concerned, but also somewhat glad. If another person was there, maybe he could be free from the oppression of his counselor.

Mary paused for a moment, her mind racing. What could she say to completely convince the king that he needed to get rid of the counselor? Suddenly, she remembered the princess, and the king’s young bride. She smiled to herself in triumph, yes; this would bring the king to himself. She took a deep breath, thinking her words over carefully.

“Ye ken yer daughter loves ye?” she asked, and was pleased to get an immediate reaction from the king. His head shot up again, and his brow furrowed in thought. “Aye,” she continued, nodding wisely. “An’ she was yer wife’s last gift to ye.” The king was glancing nervously from the door the Mary. But Mary was only beginning her reproof to the unfaithful king. “Aye, ‘twas her last gift to ye, an’ ye were glad, but ye needed a son. Yer wife gave birth to a girl, yet,” she now paused, realizing she was on very dangerous ground, and licked her lips. “Yer wife not only had a daughter, Shetta Gloriheem, but she also gave birth to a son. She had twins.” The kings rose slightly from his throne, and his hollow eyes searched Mary’s.

“How come you know this?” he demanded hoarsely. Mary smiled and returned the king’s stare evenly.

“How I came to know this?” she asked innocently. “Why didn’t ye ask yer mother?”  The king’s face turned livid and then a deadly pale.

This news was a shock to him. He had an heir? The counselor had been tricking him, and conniving against him, and pressuring him, for nothing? The king suddenly grew angry, at himself, at the counselor, at all those he had hired for his own gain. Suddenly he realized what a fool he had been. He realized that he needed to get rid of his counselor, the start of all his problems. His beautiful wife’s face came into his mind, and his mother’s gentle caring one. He felt he could no longer be a king, he wanted to give up, and he wanted to have someone else take over. He was finished, an old and worn king, used by many for their own profit.

In front of the children’s surprised faces, he broke down under the unseen strain, and he cried. All the years of a false face, and a weak ruler in the hands of a crafty counselor, the king finally gave in to his better judgment.

Awkwardly, the three children stood in front of him. When he finally looked up, he searched their faces carefully, and read in them honor, loyalty, and a plain honesty. This refreshed the king, who was so used to fear, manipulation, and flattery. He was actually relieved to see someone willing to stand up against him. He smiled for the first time in years, in fact, the first time since his mother died, and looked into Mary’s eyes. Her gaze still did not falter.

“Find the prince.” He said hoarsely. “Find him and bring him to me. I want to see him before I die.” The children turned as if to go, but the king’s next words stopped them. “Tell Shetta.” With that they left, and although they were aware of a sense of danger, no one molested them on their way out.

They went the long way back to Dusak and Vinea’s house and entered by the back door. They didn’t want to bring any trouble to their friends. Valkin greeted them, giving them all a smile.

“How did it go?” he asked. Mary shrugged.

“I dinnae ken, the king wants the prince back, and he wants us to tell the princess she has a brother.” She replied. Valkin’s brow creased slightly in surprise.

“There is a prince?” he asked. Mary raised an eyebrow.

“Then ye dinnae ken too?” she asked in some surprise. She looked at Vinea who was setting the table for an early supper. “Ye should ask yer sister aboot yer history Valkin, I ken ye’d find it mighty surprising.” Valkin stood in between Mary and Vinea and his eyes darted from one face to another. Finally, he turned and went to Vinea.

Poor Justin and Duncan were still in the dark, so Mary took them aside to explain her story. They went into the room that they were sharing during their stay, and she told them the short history as told by first Old Elliot, and then Valkin Tredhale.

Chapter Seven: The Mystery Solved

“It started that one bonnie day when I went doon to Old Elliot’s house to deliver some things Father had just mended fer him and fer my weekly language lesson. He opened the door and led me in with a troubled smile. Puzzled, I asked him what was wrong. He sighed wearily and ran a hand through his hair.

“‘Ah, ye’d not understand lass.’ He said, but I begged him to tell me, so he finally gave in and sat down heavily. ‘Ye ken tha’ I’m a great friend o’ the elves, aye?’ I nodded, so he continued. ‘Well, they’re a troubled people right now, an’ I want to help, but I’m an old man an’ cannae lift a finger to relieve them.’ I asked to know more, so he did his best to tell me.

“‘The kingdom began to fall when the king’s wife died o’ childbirth aboot twenty or so years ago. I was much younger then. She was a young lass, and couldnae bear the strain o’ given birth to two children. One was a boy, but he was a weak lad, and the midwife, a wonderful and wise woman, took him in as her own to train as a page until his time came. The girl was healthy and strong, and given to the king as his child. Only four people knew of there being two children. The queen, the king’s mother, the midwife, and myself, the king’s young wife was a friend of mine, and trusted me more than herself, bless the wee lass.’ He paused for a moment and I saw his eyes glisten some with unshed tears. He went on. ‘We all swore to one another that we would not tell another living soul that there were two unless it came to saving the kingdom from falling.’ He looked me directly in my eyes and I felt them go clean to my most inward thoughts. ‘I’m tellin’ ye this now, because the kingdom is falling, and fast, I just got word from an elf, one of my oldest friends, that the king’s mother has been dead these three years, and only now had they time to tell me. The prince be safe, but he must be put on the throne. The only way ye can save the kingdom and the prince is wi’ the help o’ yer brothers. Ye must work quickly; there be no time to lose. Go home now, for I see yer brother’s coming on doon the lane, it looks as if they’ve found somthin’, and probably want my help, I’ll tell them, an’ ye can fill them in on any other details. Go!’ He turned to the window as he finished all this, so I left quickly out the back way.

“My mind was racing over all this information and I tried to work it out. There were still many holes I had to fill when you came back with the note. It was the perfect opportunity to get into the kingdom without suspicion, and I forgot for a time to tell you all aboot what our conversation was aboot, I’m sorry. I was busy finding clues as to where the prince was, and who the prince was. After I had looked at the tapestries for the second time, and put two and two together aboot the seemingly missing tapestry, I figured oot who the prince was and where he was. I now just needed the throne to open up to him.” Mary paused to take a deep breath and moisten her lips. The boys were both leaning forward in their chairs, drinking in the information.

“Who is the prince?” Justin demanded when Mary paused. “How did ye guess, and what were the clues?” Mary smiled.

“Aye, well ye may ask.” She stopped again, her eyes sparkling. “You’ll never guess.”

“WHO IS THE PRINCE!” bellowed Justin; he was the one in the family gifted with healthy lungs. Mary smiled again.

“The former Valkin Tredhale, messenger for his Majesty the King.” There was a long silence. The boy’s mouth’s hung open. The clock on the wall ticked, and somewhere a rooster crowed. The silence was broken by a chuckle from Mary.

“Aye, ye weren’t expecting tha’ were ye?” she asked. The boy’s shook their head dumbly, still not over the shock. “As to yer other questions, I guessed when I took a second look at the tapestries. The first time I noticed a strange resemblance in the king’s mother’s face to someone I knew, so I kept a sharp look out for that person, and then I saw the one tapestry again, and the smaller one tha’ must be the king’s wife. The resemblance was so clear when I looked at it again, that I knew the prince must be Valkin. The clue was the missing tapestry. It wasn’t actually a missing tapestry as I had first guessed, but a space for a tapestry when the prince was on the throne; the space was put there, no doubt, by order of the king’s mother. As for how the Valkin ended up here, I think Vinea will have the answers to our questions.” She paused and sighed. “I think I shall go ask her next, would ye two like to come?” The boy’s, still somewhat in shock, stood and followed Mary mutely down the stairs.

As they came closer and closer to the kitchen, they started to hear muffled conversation. Mary knocked on the door, and it was opened by a somewhat flustered Vinea. The three children stepped in, and Mary looked squarely at Vinea.

“I’m ready to hear yer part o’ the story.” She said matter-of-factly. Vinea turned slightly pale, and darted nervous glances at Valkin, who had an angry frown on his face, and Mary, who stood in front of the door, her only chance of escape.

“I don’t know what you mean.” She said weakly. Mary cleared her throat.

“Aye, ye do.” She said. Vinea darted another look over at Valkin who was fuming silently over in a corner. Mary continued. “Start when ye got Valkin from the midwife.” Vinea saw that they knew, and saw that the secret was out.

“How do you know about that?” she asked, paling even more. Mary raised an eyebrow.

“Old Elliot told me, because it needed to be told.” She replied. Vinea sat down heavily in a chair looking like a cornered animal.

“Very well, I shall tell you. The midwife was my mother.” There was a gasp from behind Mary, and Vinea smiled grimly. “Yes, it was not supposed to be known. My mother and I raised Valkin up as a page, and then he stopped that to become a messenger for the king. For some reason he preferred that job. We have kept him a secret this long, everyone thinks that Valkin and I are brother and sister, and shall continue to until he is on the throne. My mother made me swear to tell no one until his time had come.” She looked at us and sighed. “I suppose this means his time has come.” There was a silence, and finally Valkin stepped out from his comer, trembling with carefully contained emotions. He went over to Vinea and looked into her downcast eyes.

“Why did you not tell me?” he asked. Vinea had a tear run down her cheek.

“Because mother told me not to.” She said softly. Mary and her brother’s drew back quietly, and left the two to sort things out in their own time. Dusak was sitting outside moodily, so they did not disturb him and went back up to their room.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Silver Flower: Chapter FIVE

Yes, this is actually chapter FIVE, sorry about the mistake in my last post... :( I was being absent minded for some reason... (btw, in case you didn't know, the last post I made was chapter FOUR of The Silver Flower, not chapter FIVE. Got it now?) :P Read on and enjoy!

Chapter Five: The New Mission

Early the next morning, Mary went outside for a fresh breath of air and found Valkin sitting next to the door. She sat down too, and turned to him, her eyes full of question.

“I’ve been meaning to ask ye,” she said, chewing on her lip thoughtfully, “what did ye mean by tha’?” Valkin gave her a look.

“What do I mean?” he asked. Mary clarified.

“What ye said aboot my being able to help.” She said. Valkin’s brow cleared.

“Ah! I remember now. Yes, I think you can help us.”

“But how?”

“You’re a human.” He said simply. “The counselor won’t expect to have humans against him. He only thinks that elves will rise up in rebellion, but he’s wrong.”

“What if we won’t help?” Mary cautiously asked. Valkin looked at her warily out of the corner of his eye.

“Then Elliot would not have sent you.” He said. Mary gasped.

“Then he meant for us to come?” she asked. Valkin smiled at her surprise.

“Yes, I asked him to bring humans he knew and trusted.” He paused. “I was surprised, to say the least, when you and your brother’s happened to be the humans to show up. Your knowledge of our language was an even bigger surprise and I began to see why Elliot sent you three.” Mary allowed herself a small smile of amusement.

“We be somewhat tougher than we look, ye mean?” she asked. Valkin returned her smile and shrugged.

“One might say that.” He replied. There was a moment of silence and somewhere nearby a dog barked, and a horse returned it’s greeting with a whinny. Mary was the first to break it.

“So…” she started carefully, “Could ye tell me aboot yer people and their history? How came this counselor, and why did the king trust him?” Valkin took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. His brow furrowed and he looked darkly up at the castle. Obviously, the topic was upsetting him, and Mary almost told him to never mind, when he began.

“It’s a long and sad history.” He said, and sighed again. There was a long pause, and Mary was almost afraid he wouldn’t continue, but he took another deep breath and plunged into it. “It started, I believe, when the kings mother, may she rest in peace, began to grow ill about three years ago. She could no longer advise the king, and he started to grow power thirsty. He appointed several new officers, and when anyone complained, they were either thrown in prison or killed.

“One man, thirsty for power as the king was, was appointed as his new counselor, and though several of his wise, older advisors warned him against the man, the king rebelled and the counselor was elected.

“Far from happy, the queen went to her son, although ill, and ordered the king to have the man banished. The king refused and grew angry, striking his mother. She never rose again. The king, realizing what his hasty action had caused, fell to the ground next to his mother, imploring her through sobs to arise. He begged for forgiveness, but it was too late. His mother was dead. The only person that he knew was there was the counselor, and the counselor saw his big chance to overcome the kingdom. He started slowly killing the king himself using guilt and blackmail. Unknown to the counselor or the king, there was another witness.” Valkin stopped, and Mary saw a tear run down his cheek. “I was that witness.” His voice hardened, and he frowned. “Believe me; I shall not let the queen’s death go without vengeance, he shall pay for his deed. I shall capture the counselor and fling him into prison. The king shall be forgiven, but he must forfeit his job to someone more able and wise.”

“Like Glevanne Addets?” Mary asked softly. Valkin turned his searching gaze to her, and their eyes met.

“Yes.” He said shortly. “But to gain the throne, the counselor decided he had to keep all other threats under his finger of oppression, so he began to force himself upon the princess, putting guards at her door, proclaiming that he was trying to protect her, but both the princess and over half the elfish kingdom knew it was to keep her a prisoner. Secret letters was the only way she could communicate to her true love, Glevanne, but if any of them where found, it would mean the death of her lover. She and Glevanne entrusted their letters to only the most faithful servants, and they began to correspond. The princess kept Glevanne aware of dangers from the castle, and Glevanne kept the princess aware of new plans from his side. He was a high officer, and he kept himself clean of any suspicion. Thanks to your brothers, it is still that way. If any other human or elf had found the note, Glevanne would probably be on his way to the be-heading tower.” Mary gasped slightly, her face turning white. Valkin nodded grimly, agreeing with her unspoken thought.

“Yes, it’s a dangerous job, and a lot depends on the deliverers of the letters. But it’s been going on under the nose of the counselor for at least a year, probably more now. We have stayed safe for a long time and it will continue until the king finally has enough nerve to get rid of the counselor.” He stopped, and ran a hand through his hair. Mary looked thoughtfully at her shoes.

“Who did the king marry?” she asked, “Who was the princesses’ mother?” Valkin smiled, his face clearing for a moment.

“The princesses’ mother was one of the wisest decisions the king ever made. She was a wonderful wife, I’m told, but she died of childbirth before I was born. She was a young and beautiful bride. The king married only once, but his marriage was a happy one, though short. The princess looks a lot like her mother. It’s a shame the king doesn’t realize what a precious thing he may be hurting.” There was another pause and Mary again studied her shoes thoughtfully.

“But how can my brothers and I help?” she finally asked. Valkin raised an eyebrow.

“How can you help?” he said. “You could go into the castle and speak to the king alone, without his counselor. Tell him that other’s know what went on at the queen’s death, tell him that the counselor no longer has any power over him, tell him that he is free to be rid of him forever, just two words, and this land will be rid of its worst enemy.” Mary sighed, and she bit her lip. Valkin looked at her. “Afraid?” he asked softly. Mary returned his look.

“Aye.” She replied truthfully. “I am afraid, not only fer myself, but fer my brothers, fer this kingdom, fer the princess, fer Glevanne, fer Dusak an’ his wife, fer everyone who is involved with us. One wrong word an’ the whole kingdom may be destroyed.” Valkin nodded.

“This is true, and I have often felt the same way. It is not a shame to be afraid.” He paused, and a slight smile shadowed the corners of his mouth. “I am afraid too.” Mary let out a breath, watching it hang in the still, cold air, before dissolving into nothing again. There was movement inside the house, and Valkin stood, brushing a few fallen leaves off his shirt. Mary also stood.

“I will speak to my brothers. If they will come, then we shall help.” She said.

“And if not?” he asked. Mary paused.

“They will.” She said sturdily. Valkin smiled and the two went inside.

* * * * *

Her brothers were both at the table. She approached the subject slowly, but as she had expected, they both agreed eagerly. It was arranged for them to leave for the castle as soon as breakfast was finished, so they hurriedly ate and donned on their jackets, shawl, and boots. Valkin escorted them as far as the first gate, but he left them before suspicion would arise. Mary went boldly up to the gate and slapped her hand against it as she had watched Valkin do.

She stepped back, and the siblings waited for the guard to come, their breath held, and their hearts racing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Silver Flower: Chapter Four

The long awaited chapter four right? Just kidding...please, read on and enjoy! :)
Chapter Four: Shetta Gloriheem

Valkin had explained to the children the best way to get into the princess without the king finding them was through her window in the dead of night, so they had formed a small plan.

Quietly slipping through the wood, helpfully growing right beneath the princesses’ room, the small group of adventures soon made their way to the base of the tower in which the princess slept at night.

Dusak, who had brought an elfish rope, tossed it up into the lowest window, the rope made no sound and held tightly to the window as Valkin climbed up the sheer walls with amazing agility. He was soon followed by Dusak, who then turned and helped the three humans that were still down below. In a short amount of time the five adventurers were safely inside the castle tower.

Valkin, who seemed to know the way well, led the other elf and the siblings up a staircase of stone and through a long hall. They nearly got caught by a guard, but thankfully, due to Valkin’s quick thinking, they were saved by slipping behind a few handy suits of armor.

They soon found the princesses’ room, heavily guarded of course, but the guards were sound asleep so they crept around them gingerly and opened the door. Once inside, they closed the door behind them without a sound and slipped over to the bed. The princess was not in it; she was sitting by a desk, her hair framing her beautiful face. She was unaware of their presence, her head bent over a letter. Valkin cleared his throat softly, and the princess jumped up and spun around, clutching the precious letter in her hand.

“Letka fes adeck?” (Who are you?) She asked, startled.

“A denae,” (A friend,) replied Valkin, extending a hand, palm upwards. The princess, though still wary, touched the palm of his hand with hers, the sign of agreement.

“Hald fetik adeck hesik?” (What do you want?) She said, still clutching the unfinished letter in her hand. Valkin turned to Mary, who in turn looked at Duncan, the bearer of the two letters from Glevanne Addets. He took them from his pocket and handed them to the princess. She took them, looked at them casually, then gasped and ran her eyes over it hastily, then dropped it into the fire, letting it burn. The second letter she devoured as the first, and it quickly followed the other into the fire. Her face flushed in high excitement.

“How is Glevanne? Is he safe? Was he watched?” she asked quickly in the language the children could understand, her eyes scanning over the faces of the two elves and the three humans.

“He is fine, he is safe, and they do not suspect him of anything yet.” He replied to the princesses’ questions. She sank into her chair, the excitement too much for her delicate state. The children looked at Valkin quizzically, not knowing why the princess acted in this strange manner.

“Glevanne and the princess wish to marry, but this is impossible until the evil counselor can be taken away from the king. They can only sometimes write, and otherwise see each other at no time lest suspicion rise against Glevanne and he be thrown into prison or killed.” He explained quickly. The siblings exchanged glances again; this news explaining a lot of things. The princess, suddenly rising from her state of collapse, finished the forgotten letter with haste and sealed it, handing it to Duncan.

“Deliver this back to him, please. Tell him that I wish to have a reply.” She laid the letter in his hand. “This is a precious note; don’t let it fall into the wrong hands.” Valkin motioned to the children that it was time to leave. The guards were still sleeping, so they escaped the same way they had come.

Once outside the castle, and on the way back to Dusak’s place, they all breathed a long sigh of relief. Mary walked with her brow furrowed and her teeth biting into her lip. Valkin turned to her.

“Are you puzzled about all this?” he asked softly. Mary looked up, startled, from her musings.

“Aye,” was her reply. “Why cannae the elves rise up against the evil man. Why doon’t the princess refuse to marry him right oot, and why cannae Glevanne marry her iffin he wants to? It just doon’t seem right!” Valkin nodded understandingly.

“It seems hard to believe, but it’s not just the evil counselor of the king. That man has many agents, some of them under cover, working for him. If we were to fight back, they would all come down upon us, in the king’s name. The only way we could truly defeat that man, was if the king himself realized what the counselor was doing to him, and stopped him.” Mary sighed as Dusak’s house came into view.

“I just wish that I could do somthin’ aboot it.” She said. “But I’m afraid I cannae.”  They entered the house and Vinea relived them of their jackets, shawl, and cloaks. Before retiring to bed, Valkin turned once more to Mary.

“You can, Mary, you may not know how, but you can.” He then left to his room, leaving Mary in doubt and the boy’s curious.

“What did he mean by tha’?” Justin asked. Mary shrugged.

“It had to do wi’ a conversation we were havin’ on the way back fro’ the castle, but that last bit I have nae idea what he meant!” She shrugged and went over to the window beside her bed. “Let’s all get some sleep. I’ve a feelin’ we’re in fer a real good adventure boy’s.”

Long after her brothers were asleep, Mary tossed about in her bed, thinking about what Valkin may have meant when he said that. What did he mean, and what were her and her brother’s in for?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Fall!

Sitting in a comfy desk chair, sipping my mother's oil concoction for my cold, and thinking deep thoughts about October and what its been like for us as a family, I'd like to tell you that I am so sorry for neglecting you, my faithful followers...I will endeavor to fill you in now on some things my family and I have been up to. 
Family Photo Opp.!

This last month, not only have we been enjoying fellowship within family circles (My Uncle Richard, Aunty Christy, Cousins: Oliver, Colin, Jubi, and Graham just came back from Indonesia where they were missionaries), but also went to a pumpkin patch run by our dear friends the Blossey's,
Pumpkins, pumpkins, and MORE PUMKINS!!!
and a trip to Miracle ranch with our Aunty Christy and the cousins, and Aunty Sarah. It was fun to see people we knew there, and especially fun to hang out with the Asa family (at least, most of the Asa family... :P).
Friends and Family

Havin' fun on the hay ride

Jubi with the ponies: They were just the right size for her! :)

Jubi and Me

more fun w/ cousins and Asa kids!

The Archery place was the boy's favorite stop! (go figure)

Another favorite place: finding toys and candy in the hay!
We also had a harvest party at our church and that in itself was fun. I got to help in the kitchen and then "help" my friend Kathryn Stephenson with her game. ;) All in all, our family had a wonderful, but busy, month. Hopefully November will prove less busy, but more fun! I'd better go, but before I leave, I'd like to say one last "Random Remark" for this post: Remember that God is always with you, no matter where you are, or what you're doing. So just keep that in mind as you continue your day by day life...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Silver Flower: Chapter Three

Here is the next Chapter of my new book, enjoy!!

Chapter Three: Glevanne Addets

There was soon a response, and a small door opened in front of them revealing another elf, only slightly shorted then the guide.

            “Halden kassit, Valkin Tredhale?” he said, not noticing the three children. Justin looked at Mary, who hurriedly translated into their own language.

            “He said: What is your business, Finch Moor?” she whispered behind Valkin’s back. Justin nodded and turned back to listen to the elves converse.

“j seeta blettash koona Glevanne Addets, Saden Flettica.” Valkin said. Mary quickly translated.

“He said: I have outsiders who want to see Glevanne Addets, Falcon Cave.” Valkin heard her say this, and turned around.

“Would you speak to the guard in our language? I think you may have a better chance of getting in if he knows you know our speech.” He said. Mary nodded.

“I’ll try.” She said to him, then, looking at the guard, she spoke in the elfin tongue. “je kentre koona Glevanne Addets.” She said. This time Valkin translated for Justin and Duncan.

“She said: We would like to see Glevanne Addets.” He said, himself still amazed at her wisdom of their language. At the sound of the human girl speaking his language, the guard, whose name we now know, softened visibly.

“Addene geklen kess dessinkae?” he asked. (You [feminine] know our language?) Mary smiled and nodded.

“Nedin, a cesik.” She replied. (Yes, a little.) Saden, for this was the guard’s name, looked at her.

“j retin gresu tu Glevanne seshi adenne.” He said, (I will speak to Glevanne for you [feminine].) and closed the door.  Mary returned to the group she had left temporarily and shrugged her shoulders.

“Do ye think it will help?” she asked. Valkin nodded, a smile on his face.

“Yes, you will get in. Saden is not nearly as bad-tempered as he seems.” He said. Mary smiled.

“Tha’ be good to ken.” She returned. They were silent, all waiting for the guard to return.

When he did, the door swung open silently, and the small group went in. Mary did not forget to thank Sadin, who retuned her thanks with a gruff, “j fetik jaeta.” (I did nothing.)

The children followed Valkin down the majestic hall and Justin gazed open mouthed at the high vaulted ceilings and strong stone walls, covered with tapestries illustrating gory battle scenes or portraits of kings and queens of the elfish kingdom. The floor was made of marble, painted over with beautiful gothic designs.  Justin, at the end of the line, traced one of the designs with his foot, marveling at its delicate detail. Duncan, in the middle, looked in delight at one of the tapestries, the solemn look on the man’s face almost made him laugh, but he swallowed it quickly realizing that it may offend the elves. Mary, also in the middle, looked all around her, her gaze at last resting on a tall tapestry with a woman on it. Something about the queen reminded Mary of someone, the sorrowful smile, the flowing hair, the shape of her face.     

She stopped suddenly, as Valkin walked by it, causing Duncan to run into her, and Justin run into Duncan. The boys both yelped in surprise and Valkin turned around, giving them all a warning frown.

“You must not speak loudly,” he said, proving his point by speaking in a stern, soft voice. The boys hung their heads guiltily, but Mary stood still, looking at the tapestry carefully. Valkin returned and watched her as her eyes studied the face.

“Who be this woman?” she asked softly, her eyes not leaving the face. Valkin looked up at the face for the first time, and looked at it for a long while, when he at last spoke, his voice was full of respect and awe.

“This lady is the king’s mother. She is no longer with us.” His voice grew sad. “It is a great sorrow for my people, for she was a wise and just counselor for the king. Now he is growing old, and his new counselor…” his voice sank into a whisper, “his counselor, some say, is an evil elf who intends to take over the kingdom by marrying the king’s daughter, Shetta Gloriheem.” Valkin said all this while looking at the tapestry, so he did not see the glances the three siblings exchanged behind his back when the name was spoken. A short silence went over the four as they looked up at the woman in respect, although the three children never knew her. It was broken by Valkin, who sighed and beckoned the humans to follow him again.

They continued their way to a door on the other side of the hall, but long before they reached it, Valkin turned to a smaller door, and slapped his hand against it as he did with the front gate of the castle. A window opened, and another guard (they soon found out his name was Dusak Aknae [Hawk Meadow]) had a quiet converse with Valkin, who seemed to know him better than Saden Flettica, the first guard. Soon, Mary was called upon to again speak to the new guard in the elfin speech. The guard looked at her quizzically when she stepped up.

“Adenne gecklin kassit dessinkae?” (You [feminine] know our language?) he asked, curious. Mary smiled.

“Nedin, a cesik.” (Yes, a little.) She replied. Dusak turned to Valkin.

“j retin gresu tu Glevanne Addets seshi, adek.” (I will speak to Glevanne Addets for you.) He said, and with a quick smile, disappeared. Again, the group waited. Valkin chuckling to himself about something he had shared with the young elfish guard. Soon, Dusak returned, and opened the door. The four people were ushered into a warm room. A servant girl came and took Justin and Duncan’s jackets, Mary’s shawl, and Valkin’s cape. The servant and Valkin smiled softly at each other, and to the three children’s surprise, they hugged. Valkin saw their shock, and he chuckled, leading the servant over to them.

“This is my sister, Vinea Aknae (Vixen Meadow). She is the wife of Dusak here.” The boys’ mouths stayed open, but Mary smiled warmly at the young servant girl, and very soon the two were friends.

“Seket tu pretik tendille Glevanne Addets’ hatten.” (Welcome to my master Glevanne Addets home.) She said.

“j adigen.” (I thank you.) She said, returning the greeting. Vinea looked at her brother.

“Adeck fetick desh gresu tet adin gecklen kess dessinkae.” (You did not say that she knew our language.) she said. Valkin shrugged.

“j dani.” (I apologize.) He said. Vinea shrugged her shoulders and took the coats away to a different room, and her husband, Dusak, led the small group to a staircase. Again, Valkin and the guard conversed in under tones, and soon, the guard left Valkin to guide them alone.

They went up the staircase and found themselves before a long hall. Valkin seemed to know exactly where he was going, so the three children didn’t contradict his judgment. The four arrived at yet another door, but this time, when Valkin gave the slap of his hand, no guard appeared. Glevanne himself opened the door. The children realized this because Valkin bowed his head in respect, and they quickly followed his example. Glevanne spoke in a language the children could understand, realizing that they were not elves.

“Why have you come here.” He said in a tired voice. The siblings looked up in wonder, all of them becoming conscience of the fact that Glevanne was not an old man, in reality, he was quite a young man, and handsome. He continued, unaware of their astonishment. “The king does not like visitors at this moment. I am surprised that you have made it this far. Valkin must be a very good guide.” He said this with a smile towards the guide, who took the hint and left, the door closing with a solid thunk. “What is it that you want to tell me that is so important that you must risk a long imprisonment.” Justin looked worriedly at the door.

“Can no one hear us?” he asked. The elf looked at him.

“Why do you ask?” he replied.

“Because we must show you a secret.” Glevanne looked slightly puzzled, but assured the children that they were indeed alone. Justin gave a sigh of relief, and took out the note, handing it to the elf. He looked at it. With a glance he knew it was the one he had tried to send by hand to the princess. His gaze darkened, and he looked at the three humans.

“Where did you find this?” he asked sharply. Duncan spoke.

“We found it laying aside the road.” He said truthfully. Glevanne softened.

“Ah. Then you do not know what happened to the elf that was delivering it for me?” he asked. They all shook their heads. “That is a pity. He was,” he stopped and re-said his thought. “He is one of my most trusted servants.”

“We be verra sorry we dinnae ken where yer servant be, but we knew tha’ ye’d most likely not want just any person to pick yer note to Shetta up, so we thought we’d find either ye or Shetta an’ deliver it.” Duncan said quickly, forgetting himself in the presence of a highly ranked elf. Glevanne smiled, liking the honest humans more and more.

“I thank you for your concerns, they are much appreciated in times like these.” His face darkened again. “Most letters are not private any longer, and I especially wished this one to remain so. You helped in that way, I am very grateful.” He paused a moment, his eyes going from one of the children’s face to the next. He found all the faces to be honest, and loyal. This pleased him, for this was the type he needed for the mission to be done. His gaze rested at last on Justin, and he spoke his daring plan.

“You are aware of the contents of the letter?” he asked. Somewhat guiltily, Justin, Duncan and Mary nodded their heads. He encouraged them with a smile. “Then you know that it is an urgent message?” he asked again. They again nodded. He again looked in all their eyes, deeply. “Can you deliver it for me?” he asked. There was a long silence, and the three siblings exchanged looks. They silently agreed on their answer. Justin spoke for them.

“Aye, we will.” He said. Glevanne smiled again.

“Then, here.” He placed the note back into Duncan’s outstretched palm. “Take this back. I believe Valkin will be available to escort you to the princess’s quarters. She is safe from the king for the moment.” He sighed as he said this, a soft shadow coming over his face. He turned around. “You may go, and my blessing goes with you.” The siblings exchanged another look, and turned around, going out the door. Suddenly, Glevanne called out to them.

“Wait!” he said quickly. The trio looked at him in surprise. He scribbled something down onto a piece of paper quickly. “Take this to her as well.” He said, and shoved the new note into Duncan’s hand as well. The elf turned from them and his frame shook slightly with sobs as the door closed behind the siblings.

Valkin was waiting for them, just outside the door. He looked into their faces, reading their thoughts.

“You have a mission.” He said simply. “Is there any way I can help?” The children looked at him, gratefully. He took this for an answer and quickly added: “Dusak could help too, he is always longing for adventure.” Again, the siblings agreed to this, any help they could get they wanted. Valkin led them silently down the stairs again, spoke to his brother-in-law, and turned again to the children, a smile lighting up his features.

“He will come.” He said. There was a collective sigh of relief from the children. Dusak came up behind Valkin and gave them a grin.

“j hesik flenitt.” (I want adventure.) He said, “demis de aknef.”  (This place is dull.) Mary and Valkin laughed with Dusak, but the boys gave a confused smile to the group. Quickly, Mary translated, and soon Vinea joined them and let Dusak know that she had made dinner for all of them. She looked at the three children and smiled.

“I made enough for them, too.” She said. Justin and Duncan both rubbed their stomachs, hungry at just the mention of food; they hadn’t had breakfast or lunch, let alone dinner.

During dinner, Duncan leaned over to Valkin.

“How many elves ken our language?” he asked. Valkin thought awhile.

“Well, all the Elves in the castle must know your language or they can’t get a job here. There’s a few others milling about, and most Elfin school children are taught it as a second language, but with communicating, we mostly speak in elfin tongue.” He said. Duncan sat back in his chair, satisfied with an answer, but Justin now turned to Valkin.

“Can we, Duncan and I, learn it?” he asked. Valkin looked at him with a smile.

“Anyone who’s willing enough can.” He said. Justin was also satisfied.

The conversations continued, but altogether too soon, Valkin arose from his seat and said that it was time to go.

After an affectionate farewell from Valkin and Dusak to Vinea, the group left.

Blog Tour for Project Canvas!! *cue intense celebration*

GUYS, I couldn't be more excited to share about this incredible book that is going to be available for you to get your hands on in just ...