Tag Archives: Hashna Stone

Using Patreon to Write a Book

So, I’ve announced that I am publishing a book (Yay!) and I’ve announced that the book will be The Hashna Stone (Yay again!).

I also announced that I live with trolls and am a few steps away from living under a bridge, so I can’t afford a fancy smancy cover and a snoody editorial service.

But that’s ok, because I found this place. A place where dreams come true.

No, I’m not talking about Disney World. (I wish I were…can we all go there right now? A big party for the Epic Dreamers?)

I’m talking about Patreon. It’s a place for artists and creative types to get funding for their projects.

Ok, so you know two things: I’m publishing and I’m using Patreon to make it happen.

What does this mean for you?

This means that you get a chance to make stuff happen (“stuff” in this case being an awesome book).

Maybe you don’t have the time to write a book. Maybe you don’t want to sit for hours alone talking to people who aren’t there and making maps of places that don’t exists. You don’t want your friends to haul you to the psych ward because you started talking about how you need to help Sheila find her grandmother’s missing heirloom, and when they asked who Sheila was you were like, “Oh yeah. I forgot. She isn’t real.” (Trust me, you don’t want that to happen…not that I have experience or anything.)

Well you don’t have to worry about the time or the emotional scars left from a psych ward, because I’ll do all that for you! Yes, I will go to the crazy house for you!

While I’m receiving all these emotional scars, you can be basking in the knowledge that you made some awesome stuff happen. You created a book.

And what could be more amazing than that?

Except maybe this.

 

Focus, Megan. Focus.

I wrote this post to explain how Patreon works and what becoming my patron actually means, and no amount of ADD or emotional scars from friends who don’t understand the creative mind is going to get in my way.

*deep breath*

Ok, here it goes.

What is Patreon?

This is how they explain it.

Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator’s community and pay them for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally    throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now give a few bucks and you become a bonafide, real-life patron of the arts.  That’s right–Imagine you, in a long frilly white wig, painted on a 10-foot canvas on the wall of a Victorian mansion.  And imagine your favorite creators making a living doing what they do best… because of you.

Or in my case, I won’t be making a living, just making a book for you guys.

 

What does becoming your patron mean?

It means you are only the most awesome person in the world! 😉 But in more technical terms, it means that you pledged a certain amount of money per book I write.

 

Whoa. Hold on a minute. Per book? Just how many are there?!

Don’t worry. I’m not going to slam you with 50 books all of a sudden (though how cool would it be if I wrote 50 books?). The plan is two books: a re-do of The Hashna Stone and then if all goes well with that, Samel’s story. If I’m really enjoying myself and decide to consider another book, I will let you know though Patreon so you have a chance to withdraw your pledge or continue supporting. I’m not going to sneak a book three on you without letting you know! (For real, that’s just rude.)

 

Ok, I want to be your patron. How much money am I giving?

That is up to you.

There are three options: $1, $10, or $15 per book.

 

So, I’m your patron. Do I get a prize or something?

Yes!

Besides the great feeling you’ll get from knowing that you made a book, you’ll get access to special patron-only posts, have your name mentioned on my blog, and get your name listed in the book itself depending on the pledge you choose. More details here.

 

This is great and all, but what if you only publish one book? Or none? What happens to that precious money I pledged?

Actually, it never left you. You don’t get charged until I produce a book. That’s fair and reasonable right?

If I decide to abandon the second book, your money stays with you.

If I get writer’s block the size of the Wall of China and can’t finish the first book, your money stays with you.

You never have to worry about money evaporating into space. There will ALWAYS be an actual thing created before funds start flowing toward it. Also, I broke my evaporating machine.

There. I did it. And I didn’t even get distracted by…Oh, look. There goes Sheila. 😉

 

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or you can just go and look at the page…I won’t judge. 😛

 

The Book I’m Writing is No Longer a Secret

Hello Epic Dreamers!

Today is the day you finally get to discover something you’ve been waiting to find out for weeks. The votes are in and it’s time to reveal which story I’ll be turning into a book.

Is it a remake of The Hashna Stone? Will Dalan, Ethan, Faiza, and Rachael be given a chance to come back as fully-developed characters in a book?

OR…

Will Samel get his own story and be able to show you just what it is like to be a dwarf in Hashna?

Answer is….

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The Hashna Stone!

The voters have spoken and this will be the first book that Invisible World creates.

How exciting is that?

Before I move on with details about the book, I’d like to tell all of you that were looking forward to reading Samel’s story that you don’t have to be disappointed. The Hashna Stone won by only one vote, so that let me know there was a lot of interest in Samel’s story. With almost a tie between the stories, I can’t simply discard one can I? Besides, it’s Samel we’re talking about. How can anyone resist that mischievous, curly-headed dwarf?

The good news is, I’ll still write Samel’s story. The other good news is that I’ll be writing The Hashna Stone first, which has Samel in it. 😉

Now that we’re all happy… 😀

Ok, so now that you all know what the book is going to be about, you’re probably wondering what the book is about. Yes I just used the same word. No they don’t mean the same thing. 😉 Let me explain.

 

What the book is about…

You know that The Hashna Stone is about Dalan, a sixteen-year-old boy, who finds a mysterious piece of jewelry in a cave. Finding out where the jewelry came from isn’t the only thing Dalan has to discover. The king has been acting strange since the death of his brother. He broke the alliance between Minaria and the dwarves of Hashna, and he created a new law that allows soldiers to take orphans from the streets and bring them to the castle to work.

The jewelry Dalan found turns out to be a lot of trouble, and he is tasked with getting it back to its rightful owner. At the same time, he must re-established the alliance and discover why the king would want a bunch of orphans.

He has to save the orphans, save the dwarves, save the stone, save the kingdom. Save the world!

Ok, so not the world, but you get my point. There is a lot of saving going on.

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What the book is about

Those of you who have read the blog version of the story are like, “Yeah, yeah. I know he finds a random big red gem in the middle of nowhere and that he has to doge some soldiers. And fight off some grimulin. And sneak around the castle. But what else is this story about? Or is there anything else? I have read the whole thing you know.”

First off, congrats on reading the whole thing. You are now my favorite reader (don’t tell the others).

Second, yes there most certainly is more to the story than the blog version. I wouldn’t have suggested the idea of turning it into a book if all of the story were already written.

And third…well I can’t tell you everything this story is about. Otherwise I’d have the whole book right here in this blog post. 🙂

But I will give you a peek into what makes the book version different from the blog version. 

Anyone wondering if I’m going to get rid of characters can worry no more because Faiza, Ethan, Rachael, and Samel aren’t going anywhere (except to Hashna). And of course Dalan stays. He’s the main character. The show doesn’t go on without him!

I won’t be killing off characters in the book version, but I will be adding new ones.

You don’t get a chance to meet any of the others that live in Dalan’s orphanage in the blog version, but you will now. He doesn’t want to be revealed until the book so all I can tell you is that he is fourteen, has unruly blonde hair, and his name is Thomas. I can’t say anything else, or he’ll get mad at me. (There’s nothing worse than making a character mad…it isn’t worth the risk.)

Besides new characters, there will be new…creatures?

Remember how the grimulin were spirits who were made to be seen by ______ (I can’t put spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it yet 😛 )? Well now there aren’t just grimulin in the spirit world. They have company. Something called Siril that aren’t similar to grimulin at all. Except that they are spirits of course.

There are also some cool ways that humans can use grimulin and siril in this story. How? I can’t just tell you that silly. You’ll have to read the book! (I love author power.)

Speaking of power…

You know how the dwarf magic is just, well, dwarf magic? There isn’t any explanation for how the get it or how it works. In The Hashna Stone book, the mystery of dwarf magic is solved!

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Oh, and there’s also a religion added. And speaking of religion: the old version briefly mentions that Ethan grew up in a monastery. Well, in this new version you get to see a peek into what that was like for him.

Speaking of sneak peeks…you’ll get a glimpse into what’s happening to the orphans that you didn’t before (I can’t get specific because of spoilers….gez guys go read the story so can just say what I want to).

And there might be a new viewpoint character!

Ok Megan, no more talking. You’re going to give everything away.

 

You get it though. There is a LOT more going on in this story than there was in the old one.

For everyone who went through the choose-your-adventure version: this book will give you a chance to spend more time with the characters you love while discovering tons of fun new things.

Win-win situation.

Well, I better end this post before I start blabbing about all the exciting things I’m adding to this story.

See ya later Epic Dreamers!

 

Want to give my book a cover? You can!

Visit my patreon page to find out more.

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I’m only $10 away from reaching my next goal!

 

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Time for the Vote: Which Book Will I Be Writing?

Monday, I announced that I am publishing a book. That’s a pretty heavy announcement considering I’ve never self published before, but I’m confident with all of you supporting me through this journey that it’s going to be a blast.

What’s the book about?

I’m glad you asked, because actually I don’t know.

That decision is up to all you Epic Dreamers (a.k.a my wonderful readers).

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve been on a trip with some strong-willed, determined, and sometimes just silly characters to a place called Minaria, then Hashna, then back to Minaria again.

Your decisions helped return a lost gemstone to its rightful owner, restore a throne, and save two kingdoms. And helped me write a story. 😉

Yes, I’m talking about The Hashna Stone.

We’ve all enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to bring it back. But this time even bigger and better. *cue epic music*

This time it’s coming in the form of a book.

 

There are two ways we can do this:

  1. I can do some rewriting on the chapters of The Hashna Stone that we already have. I’ll change the end of the chapters to look more book form, since right now most of them end in a question for you to vote on (that worked great for a choose your adventure story, but that would just look silly in a book 😛 ). I’ll also add some chapters and scenes to make the story fuller.
  2. I can write a story in Samel’s view point (he is the dwarf). It will start out in Hashna before Dalan and the rest come, go through the little matter of taking the stone back to the king, and then end back in Hashna. It would be a chance to explore Samel’s world a bit and see what he was thinking during his little expedition in the human world.

Also, Samel’s story will be a bit shorter than a The Hashna Stone. Which means it will be easier to write, so I can get it to you faster. 🙂

Just because we pick one, doesn’t mean the other one is out of the question. I’d love to do both if that’s what you all want.

For now we’ll just decide on one to start with.

And how are we going to decide? You vote of course! (You thought you were done with these polls once The Hashna Stone was finished didn’t you? 😛 )

Now that your vote is in, let’s get into some unanswered questions.

Where can I get the book once it’s published? I’ll be using Amazon to publish the story you guys choose for me to write, so you’ll be able to get a copy without leaving you comfy chair and laptop.

Is this a for sure thing? You’re not getting our hopes up to let them shatter like a glass vase in the hands of a two-year-old are you?

Actually, your hopes are in your own hands (I hope you aren’t a two-year-old). Getting a book out there can get expensive. It’s a good $200 dollars for a book cover and editing service. And as much as I wish I could close my eyes and wish the money for these things into existence, I can’t (believe me, I’ve tried).

Me on the 99th time trying to make money appear

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on my wishing skills to get this book out there. There is this great site, Patreon, that allows communities to get together and make awesome things happen. Including making a book.

All we need are a couple of patrons willing to donate to make this idea into a reality.

I like to keep things cheap whenever possible and I love getting deals, so I’m not going to need $200 to get this book published. I will thrift shop this book into existence if I have to!

All we need is $75 to make this thing happen.

Yep, that’s it. No hidden fees. 😉

And if for some reason we don’t make our goal (which of course won’t happen) and I’m not able to publish the book, then you won’t even be charged for the amount you pledged. The great thing about Patreon is, it won’t charge you until I actually present the product (book).

There are a few hundred of you Epic Dreamers, so if even less than half of you threw in a dollar, we’d reach our goal in no time.

So, the short answer to that question, “Is this a for sure thing?” is it will be once our $75 dollar goal is met. I don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver, and right now I could take care of the writing part, but not the cover/editing part.

And it would be pretty lame to give you guys a book without a cover and a pages filled with massive amounts of mistakes. I won’t do that to you. 🙂

Your generosity won’t be unrewarded. Depending on what level of support you choose, you will get your name mentioned on my blog or listed in the book. (Learn how you can get your name in the book)

Yes, you get to be famous with me!

If you can’t become my patron…I will hunt you down and make you.

Not really. 🙂

I completely get if it isn’t something you can do right now. You have to eat right? I can’t have you hunting me down because I took the food out of your mouth to create a book.

There’s another way you can help me out if financial support isn’t an option. Tell people. Tweet it, post it, pin it. Do it however you want. Just get the word out about our book and maybe I won’t hunt you down. 🙂

You don’t have to decide now. Check out my Patreon page and let me know what you think of it!

Before I end the post, I’d like to send out a huge thank you to Jes2G for being my very first patron! You’re the best!

What was voted in?

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I’m only $10 away from reaching my next goal!

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I’m Publishing a Book!

I just had the greatest idea and had to share it will all you Epic Dreamers!

No, it’s not a vacation to the Bahamas (though I could go with that idea right about now).

I’ve decided to publish a book!

Is that the greatest idea or what? I know you all are super excited and just as pumped as I am!

 

Or not.

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. How are you going to get your book published? Do you have any idea how much it costs to self publish?

You have to pay for the cover: at least $60 to $100 depending on how professional you want to get.

You have to pay for someone to edit that mess you wrote, because no one is going to understand that pile of words you threw together. Who knows how expensive that could get considering most editorial services charge by page. Maybe another $100?

How is your skinny little writer behind going to pay for all that? Huh? Did you think of that in your “greatest idea that you had to share with us”?

First, I’d like to say, thank you readers for your concern about my financial state (or financial despair). It truly is touching to know that you care for my skinny little writer behind and don’t want me to destroy my financial utopia (utopia being five steps away from living with some trolls under a bridge…oh wait, I do live with trolls 😛 )

Second, I’d like to say…

I did think of how to pay for all that in my greatest idea ever! I have it all planned out thank you very much. So there, naysayers! Don’t mess with my dream or I’ll hit you with my frying pan.

tangled Rapunzel Dream

I mean…uh…thank you for your concern, but I have this worked out and under control. *nods head politely*

Before I get into the second part of my greatest idea, let me explain just what it is that I will be publishing.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed all those characters in The Hashna Stone. The blog just isn’t the same without all their clamor and Samel’s silliness.

So I decided to bring them back.

That’s right, go ahead and read over that line again. It says what you think it does.

There are two ways I can do this.

I can either go over The Hashna Stone chapters that you helped decided and turn them into an actual book: rewriting the endings so they wrap up like real chapters and not questions for a choose-your-own-adventure story and add some scenes and chapters.

Or I can write a story from Samel’s view point. It will start out in Hashna before Dalan and the rest come, go through the little matter of taking the stone back to the king, and then end back in Hashna. It would be a chance to explore Samel’s world a bit and see what he was thinking during his little expedition in the human world (he is a dwarf for those who haven’t read it).

Either one will be fun, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one you want. (Click to get your vote in)

Now that you know what I’m publishing, here’s the second part of my greatest idea.

I may not be able to afforded a cover the cover or editing service, but I’m not alone in this.

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished alone.

Did Thomas Edison create the light bulb on his own? No, he had a team that helped him discover new things.

If I asked who created the first airplane, you wouldn’t say “a Wright brother” because there were two of them, a team (and a Wright brother sounds ridiculous, but kindly ignore that fact).

Heck, even troll bridges have to be built with a team. You don’t think those trolls do it alone do you?

Even Rapunzel needed some help to achieve her dream.

(I guess it would be difficult to achieve your dream with all that hair ;P )

My point is, big ideas and dreams only get so far if you’re alone. But with some support the world can be lit by light bulbs, the sky peppered with planes, and the rivers overshadowed by troll bridges.

The possibilities are endless!

Now, I know what you’re all thinking (yes, again…I can read minds). Creating a light bulb takes a lot of time. Building a plane is a lot of work. And troll bridges? I’m not a troll.

Don’t fret dear worried reader. I’ll be the one putting all the time and work into making this book happen. And I won’t require you become a troll to join my team.

I’ve found a much easier way for you to be a part of this epic book. 🙂

There is a wonderful place out there in internet land, called Patreon. In this magical land, dreams become reality, projects launch into the stars, and the possibilities are endless.

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I have created a home for myself in this land of dreams. How could I resist? (Don’t judge. You would create a home in internet land if you lived with trolls.)

On Patreon, you can choose to support me and my book project with a simple pledge of your choice. (And get rewarded!)

Since I don’t know which story I’ll be writing yet–book version of The Hashna Stone or Samel’s story–I’m not sure just how much I’ll need for the editing, but right now I’m setting my goal at $75 which will get us a good quality book cover.

If I get enough pledges to reach $75, then I will for sure, no doubt about it, be publishing the book.

What will happen to that money you pledged if we don’t reach our goal and the book isn’t published? Actually, your money never left you. The great thing about Patreon is, it won’t charge you until I actually present the product (book).

If you’re running low on funds, no problem. You don’t have to pledge your next meal away! 😉 Just $1 will be super helpful.

I have a few hundred followers. It wouldn’t even take all of you to toss a dollar in, and my goal would be met just like that.

We can make this happen!

Live under a bridge with stingy troll that won’t let you get your hands on a dollar? You can still help! Spread the word about this book project to your troll-free friends (Twitter is a great way to share). 😀

I can’t wait to get started on this! You have all been the best supports. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this blog wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. I’ve accomplished this dream because of you, now lets push the limits a bit and see what else we can accomplish together!

 

 

Twitter_bird_iconThis little blue bird will take you to my Twitter page where it will continuously feed you random lines about writing, blogging, and the world inside my head.

 

Our Journey Comes to an End

I can’t believe it’s over! I’m feeling kind of nostalgic already.

Yesterday, I posted the last chapter of The Hashna Stone. It’s been a long and memorable journey and I wanted to thank you all for being a part of it. It wouldn’t have been the same without you! 🙂

I had so much fun writing this story, but like all stories, they can be a pain at times. There were a few people who help lessen that “pain” part of writing a story and I’d like to give them a huge thank you.

First off, I’d like to thank Joy Pixley for being a fantastic NaNoWriMo buddy, which is when I wrote the draft for The Hashna Stone. Her encouraging emails kept me writing and it was nice to have someone to be accountable to. Thanks for being my NaNo partner Joy!

Next, I’d like to thank clcouch123. He has been the biggest supporter of the Hashna Stone. Seriously, he commented on every chapter (and no I didn’t bribe him :P). And I don’t mean he typed something nondescript like, “This is good.” He had something insightful and encouraging to say about every chapter. That is dedication! 🙂 So, thanks clcouch123 for giving me something to look forward to after posting each chapter.

Last, but most certainly not least, is Nandini. She was nice enough to point out a few mistakes in the first two or three chapters I posted, and even nicer to offer to proofread the chapters before I posted them. Nandini took the time to read over every single chapter of this ongoing adventure (even reading on here vacation and through exam week…she’s a trooper!). She made sure that all the funky grammar mistakes that made it past my foggy writer’s brain, didn’t make it into the final draft of the chapter. So, you can thank Nandini for a much better experience of The Hashna Stone than I could have given you on my own. Thank you Nandini for patching up my story! 🙂

Now that I’m done saying my part, you guys get a chance to speak. I’d love to know what you thought of the story. What was your favorite part? Who was your favorite character? Comment and tell me your thoughts!

Missed some chapters? No problem! They’re all at the Hashna Stone Page .

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Chapter 34 All as it Should Be

I couldn’t believe this was all in our honor. The banquet hall was packed with people.

I glanced to my left where King Radon sat at the head of the table, looking much more kingly now that his reddish-blond hair was trimmed and clean. Who would have thought that I’d be sitting at the king’s side, eating with him at a banquet held to celebrate me? I wished my father were here to see this.

The banquet wasn’t only celebrating me of course. Ethan and Faiza sat next to me and Tallis was across from me, followed by Rachael, then Samel who, besides looking a little pale, was back to his usually self. I stole a quick look at his hand lying on the table next to his plate to see if it had miraculously started moving after a week of being motionless, even though I knew the doctors said the feeling wouldn’t come back. I may have carried the Hashna Stone safely to the castle and taken a foolishly-brave swing at Ryker, but Samel was the one who’d sacrificed the most.

King Radon stood and the room quieted even before he spoke.

“We are here to celebrate those who have bravely fought for the King of Minaria when he could not fight for himself. They have uncovered truth, traveled far, fought hard, and given much to ensure that the rightful king sat on Minaria’s throne.”

The king paused as the people applauded, then continued, “Faiza. Ethan. For your service to Minaria, what would you ask as a reward?”

Faiza and Ethan looked at each other, caught off guard at the question. Faiza spoke. “I want the law about nabbing orphans to be changed.”

King Radon’s lips curved upward in a smile. “Everything that was done while I was away from the throne will be revoked. Since this hardly counts as a gift, is there anything else?”

Ethan spoke this time. “We would like to have some houses built, if it’s not too much to ask.”

King Radon raised an eyebrow.

Faiza explained. “They’re for some kids. They don’t have any.”

Of course that was all Faiza and Ethan would ask for. Faiza may have complained a bit when we were selected to bring the Hashna Stone to the castle, but it was only because she didn’t want to leave the Foxes. Even now when she had the chance to be compensated for time she’d been away from them, all she wanted to do was make sure they were taken care of.

I rubbed my fingers on the cloth napkin in front of me, wondering what I should ask for. I didn’t have a group of kids I was looking after. Would asking something for myself be selfish?

The king gave his consent, then addressed Tallis. “To you, I give a choice of any position in my court. Name it and it is yours.”

Tallis bowed his head humbly. “All I would ask, Highness, is to be reinstated to my position as ambassador to Hashna.”

“I would gladly give Hashna their ambassador back.” King Radon smiled. “He’s been too long away already.” Then he looked at Rachael. “Is that your request also?”

My stomach fell. Hashna was much further away than Faiza’s and Ethan’s Foxes. If she went back to Hashna, who knows how long it would be before I would see her again.

“Actually,” Rachael said, “I’d like to stay here and help train the orphans Bayvlad brought in.”

I glanced at Tallis, wondering what he thought of Rachael’s idea. He didn’t look surprised at all, and I guessed they’d talked about it before now.

“I would be honored to have your help,” King Radon said. “And in a few years, I may have you put in Bayvlad’s position.”

Rachael dipped her head. “Thank you, your highness.” When she lifted her head, she grinned at me, like I’d been the one responsible for the offer. I was surprised by how much warmth spread through me.

Then I knew what I would ask the king for. It would be something that was both for me and others.

“Samel,” King Radon said. The dwarf was munching on a piece of cake topped with strawberries and grapes. His mouth was so full, his cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk’s. Anyone else would find it embarrassing to have the attention of the room focused on them at that moment, but Samel simply kept chewing and gave the king a salute with his left hand.

“What is it you would ask for a reward?” King Radon asked with a slight smile.

Samel swallowed loudly. “I’ve already got it. The alliance is back in place between Hashna and Minaria, and Tallis is coming back. I couldn’t ask for more than that.” Then he tapped his chin. “Though you could order Rachael to come back with us.” He winked at Rachael.

King Radon’s half smile turned into a full one. “I’m afraid you’ll have to be content with just Tallis. But I can offer you more than the alliance as a reward.” He motioned to a butler beside a door who opened it and let in three servants carrying miniatures sets of clothing: tiny shirts, jackets, trousers, and shoes.

“I heard you were having trouble finding clothing in your size,” the king said. Samel hopped out of his chair and went to examine the clothes, running his hands over the cloth, trying on a jacket. Some of the nobles at the table laughed. Others looked embarrassed or annoyed at his lack of propriety. But King Radon didn’t seem to mind.

When Samel was finished reveling, he stopped by King Radon’s chair and raised his right arm, hand hanging limp at the top. He caught himself and let it fall to his side with a shrug. He grinned like a mischievous child caught nabbing a cookie. “Some habits take a while to get rid of.”

He began to lift his good hand, but King Radon took hold of Samel’s limp one and shook it.

“Minaria is in your debit for what you did,” King Radon said, keeping Samel’s hand in his. “If you ever need anything, know that you have a friend in Minaria’s king.”

As Samel came back to his seat he was smiling, but his eyes looked moist. Maybe it was just the candle light.

Next, King Radon’s attention was directed at me. “Dalan, without you the Hashna Stone would still be lost, and Minaria’s throne still being held by a pretend king. All of Minaria is grateful for your bravery. And I am grateful for your loyalty.”

I ducked my head, feeling a bit awkward, but hoping it would look like the respectful bow that Rachael and her father gave earlier.

“What would you ask?”

“I would like to train in the army,” I said, firmly. “I want to serve Minaria like my father did.”

My dream to become a soldier like my father had faded when they began nabbing orphans, but now that they would no longer be doing that, I could join the army like I’d always wanted. It was an honorable request. I wasn’t asking for items or a title, but to protect Minaria and serve its king.

Besides, training as a soldier would mean staying at the castle with Rachael.

King Radon nodded. “I couldn’t have asked for a better soldier than your father. I know you will make him proud.” He motioned to the butler at the door, who again opened it. There was only one servant that came through this time, holding something out in front of him. “If you are to be in the army, you will need a sword.”

As the servant approached, I saw the pommel of the sword in his arms.

It was the face of a wolf.

I reached out and touched it, tracing the eyes and nose as I did so many times when I was a child. Then I took it, holding on to it like it was my father come back from the dead.

I looked up to give my thanks to King Radon, but my throat was too tight. I realized my eyes were moist and I blinked. I hoped everyone watching would think it was just the candlelight.

———

Once the gifts were given, everyone headed to the ballroom, but I’d never been much of a dancer, so I slipped outside to one of the gardens.

I stood looking over the neatly trimmed plants and fingered the wolf on my father’s sword at my side. It didn’t comfort me as much as I thought it would.

After wanting so badly to get rid of the Hashna Stone, I was surprised at how empty I felt now that it was gone. It wasn’t that I missed its familiar weight around my neck or the power that it gave. It was the togetherness that the stone brought. Our little group came together because of it, and now that it was in its rightful place, there was nothing to keep us together anymore. Since my father died, I hadn’t felt close to anyone until I met them. Now, we would go our separate ways.

Rachael stepped out and stood beside me.

At least she wasn’t leaving. That thought chased away my sudden gloom. Then I realized I was staring at her and smiling like an idiot, so I quickly thought of something to say.

“You don’t want to dance?” I asked.

“I don’t know how.” She shrugged.

“A girl? Not know how to dance?” I gave her an exaggerated, disbelieving look.

She rolled her eyes. “I was taller than all the men in the nation by the time I was eight. Who was I supposed to dance with?”

“There’s plenty of tall men around now.”

“Are you asking me to dance?”

“Well no…”  My cheeks heated.  “I can’t exactly dance either.”

“Oh, so you were trying to get me to leave.”

“No. I don’t want… I didn’t mean…”

She laughed.  “I’m just kidding.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes.

“So, do you?” Her eyebrows rose over her blue eyes.

“Do I what?”

“Want to dance.”

“How do we dance if neither of us know how?”

She shrugged. “Just go with it.” She took my hand and my heart sped up.

Just as we were getting into position, the door opened behind us and we both jumped like rabbits. Faiza, Ethan, and Samel spilled out into the night.

“You two aren’t dancers either huh?” asked Faiza.

We looked at each other, then burst out laughed, thinking that we were about to dance.

“Someone’s had too much of the wine.” Faiza shook her head.

“I wouldn’t mind dancing,” Samel said, “if all the girls weren’t such giants.”

“You’ll be back with your midget friends soon,” Faiza said, but there was a smile on her lips.

“And will I be glad to not have to worry about being stepped on,” Samel said. “You Minarians need to look down more often.”

“I’ll just be glad to get away from you,” Faiza said. “You’re worse than all the kids at our camp combined.” Then the smile slipped from her face and she looked out into the darkness. “I hope the boogers are still there and didn’t starve to death while we were gone.”

“With you whipping them into shape?” I said. “They’ll be fine. What I can’t see is you as head mistress of an orphanage.”

She whirled on me like I’d suggested that would be a fat old maid with seven cats. “Why would I be head of an orphanage?”

“They’re building you a house, aren’t they? For orphans.  And you and Ethan are the leaders.”

She lifted her chin. “It won’t be an orphanage. It will be run just like it was in the woods. They’re free to come and go as they want.”

“We’ll just be in rooms with beds now,” said Ethan.

“Just like the woods huh?” I asked, thinking about the pledge, and how much trouble I’d be in if the stone I’d found had been anything less than the Hashna Stone. “I’m glad I’m getting out now then.”

Ethan grinned and Faiza gave me a look. “I can’t help that you’re a scoundrel that breaks your pledge.” A flicker of a smile played on her mouth.

There was a small lull in the conversation where everyone seemed to realize that this was our last night together.

“What does your father think of you staying?” I asked Rachael, thinking of how long she’d been separated from him already.

She sighed. “He wants me to come with him, but we talked about it. I’ll still get to see him. He comes to the castle once a year for an annual meeting, and I can visit him. He understands that there is nothing for me in Hashna.”

“Thank you very much!” huffed Samel.

Rachael ruffed his hair. “Besides you of course.”

Samel smoothed his hair back into place with his left hand, his right hand dangling by his side. “I won’t miss you doing that.” He grinned.

“I will,” she said. “I’ll miss all of you.”

Ethan looked at the ground and Faiza cleared her throat, clearly uncomfortable.

“I guess I’ll miss you all too,” Samel said. “But not nearly as much as I miss this.”  He held up his hand.  Well, he held up his arm.  His hand wasn’t there.

We all startled at the sight of his handless arm. Then he laughed and his hand appeared, hanging limply on top of his arm.  He’d made just part of him disappear.  I didn’t know he could do that.

“It won’t be the same without all of you to scare.”

“That’s something I won’t miss,” Faiza said dryly.

I would. I was going to miss Samel’s pranks and his cheeky grin. I was going to miss Ethan’s easygoing way and Faiza’s sarcasm.

They were my family. And now we were splitting up.

But maybe that was how it was with families.

I thought of my father and fingered the wolf on his sword. Maybe he wasn’t here right now, but that didn’t mean he ever stopped being my father. Space between people didn’t mean they stopped being who they were. It didn’t mean they stopped being connected to you.

We might each go our separate ways, but we’d always remember each other.  We may not always get along, but we’d be there for each other. And like Rachael and her father, family may separate for a while, but they never stay apart forever.

 


Next (A thank you to all involved)

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Chapter 33: Samel

When I woke, I didn’t open my eyes. They were too heavy to be moved, like the rest of my body. I was drifting back to sleep when I realized the familiar weight of the Hashna Stone wasn’t on my chest. I moved my hand to the spot, and was surprised by how stiffly it moved. Then I remembered the fight with Bayvlad, my blackened, bent sword, Radon’s confrontation with his brother, and Samel’s brave attempt to take the Hashna Stone. The image of his small body lying motionless on the floor and his curly dark hair surrounding his bloodless face filled my mind, and I bolted out of bed.

I was disoriented to find myself in a room that wasn’t one of Tallis’s, but the regal blue and silver decorum let me know I was still in the castle. I rummaged through the stately dresser drawers for my clothes, but couldn’t find them. I shoved the last drawer shut and let out a huff of air. I couldn’t go searching through the castle for news about Samel in my nightshirt.

I shrugged. Then again, maybe I would. I started toward the door when it opened and a maid walked in. I froze in my nightshirt, feeling foolish.

“You shouldn’t be up,” the woman said trying to hustle me back into bed, but I didn’t move.

“Where is Samel? And Rachael and her father? And—“

“They’re all fine.” She frowned at me, clearly dissatisfied that I wouldn’t move back to the bed.

“Even Samel?  He’s…”

“Resting. Like you should be.”

“I want to see him. All of them. Where are my clothes?”

She snorted. “Those things you were wearing?  The ones with holes through them and blood on them?  We burned them.”

“I had another pair in Tallis’s place.”

“We haven’t had the time to move your things,” she said, looking at me as if I should know this. “It’s been a bit hectic around here after what happened.”

“What has happened?” I knew Radon had the Hashna Stone back but I didn’t know what happened after that. Had the court accepted him?  Did the soldiers believe that he was Radon? Or did they think he was some look-a-like Bayvlad hired to help steal the crown? Surely once his face was washed, his beard trimmed, and his hair untangled they would be able to see that the resemblance was too much to anyone but Radon.

The maid looked at me like I’d gone mad.  “What happened?  Aren’t you the one who caused what happened? And you’re asking what happened.”  She shook her head and let out a huff of air.

“I mean, Radon is king again, isn’t he?”

The door came open again and Rachael, Faiza, and Ethan spilled in.

“I told you three to come back later.” They maid scowled at them. “Let him rest.”

“He looks rested to me.” Faiza looked me over with a smile playing at her lips and I was keenly aware that I was still in my nightshirt.

“Did everyone decide to stop knocking?” I said.

“Is that anyway to great your friends after all we’ve been through together?” Ethan asked with a smile.

“Sorry,” Rachael said.  “We were worried about you.”  Her apology wasn’t very helpful because her whole face looked like it was trying to hold in a giant giggle.

“If you were so worried, you wouldn’t be busting down his door without any thought to his health.”  The maid put her hands on her hips, but no one paid her any attention.

“What’s happening?” I asked, hoping to get more answers from them than I had from the maid. “How long have I been out?”

“Only since yesterday,” Rachael said. “You’ve slept through the night.”

“Which is more than we could say,” Faiza said.  “You’re lucky you knocked out like that.”

I didn’t feel lucky. My body was achy, like I had the flu.

“There was a lot of confusion,” Ethan said.  “Tallis and Radon— King Radon I mean—called a meeting with all the nobles to straighten everything out.”

“My father explained how Ryker asked the dwarves to make him a new stone,” Rachael said, gesturing animatedly, “and how he became angry when they wanted to use magic to see the stone.  He told them how they saw King Radon in a prison cell, using the stone, and how you found the Hashna Stone and brought it here.”

“We had to stay up half the night with them,” Faiza said, “to tell our side.  Basically we were robbed of our sleep just so we could tell those stuffy nobles that Tallis was telling the truth.”  She rolled her eyes.

“But Radon is king once more,” said Rachael.

“What happened to Ryker?” I asked.  Last I’d seen him, he was held between two soldiers.

“The council found him guilty of treason and sentenced him to death,” Ethan said.

“Doesn’t the king get to decide?” I asked.

“He can overrule anything they decide,” said Rachael, “but I think he was glad to have them make the decision for him. I get the feeling he didn’t actually want to be the one responsible for killing his brother.”

I thought back to the fight yesterday. Radon could have run Ryker though, but instead he told the soldiers to take him.  Perhaps even after all that Ryker had done, it was still difficult for Radon to kill family.

The door opened again and an aged gentleman came in.  He was carrying a small bag and I assumed he was the doctor. He frowned when he saw all the people in my room.

“I thought I told you to keep people out of his room,” he said to the maid.

She gave a huff. “How am I supposed to keep them out?  The castle walls couldn’t keep them out and the dungeon doors couldn’t keep them in. How is a maid supposed to keep them from doing anything?”

“Alright,” said the doctor. “Everyone out.”

“See you later, invalid,” Faiza said as she left.  Ethan gave a wave.

“Wait,” I said to Rachael just before she followed them.  “Samel?”

She gave a small smile. “He’s fine. He’s been sleeping, but the doctor says he’ll recover.  He’s tougher than he looks.”

I wanted to say something else.  Something about how relieved I was that he was alive.  How sorry I was that I hadn’t been able to kill Ryker with my twisted sword.  But no words came and I just nodded.

“I’ll come get you as soon as he’s well enough to receive visitors.”  And she left before the maid could shoo her out.

———

I woke up the next day to pounding on my door.

“Just a second,” I called as I hurried to dress.  My clothes were brought to me yesterday. Which was a good thing, because I was summoned by the nobles to tell them how I’d found the Hashna Stone and everything that had happened afterward.  It was the only thing that I’d been allowed out of my room for.  After my friends’ short visit yesterday morning, I’d spent most of the day bored out of my mind.

Once I was dressed, I opened the door. Rachael was on the other side, her blue eyes shining.  I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t combed my hair and ran my fingers through it.

“The doctor is allowing visitors.”

At first I thought she was talking about visitors for me, then I realized she was talking about Samel.

He was in the room next to mine so it didn’t take long for us to get there. Rachael opened the door. “Go ahead. I’ve already had my visit.”

I stepped in and Rachael shut the door behind me. The bed in the center looked even bigger with someone as small as Samel laying in it.  He looked like a doll tucked under the covers of a child’s bed. He was sitting up, surrounded by so many pillows he looked as if he would drown in them.

“You gave us the biggest scare of our lives,” I said, then thought that probably wasn’t the best thing to say to someone who’d almost died.

“That’s what I’m best at.” He gave that cheeky grin of his and almost looked normal except for his sallow cheeks.

I smiled back. “You did that just to scare us, didn’t you?”

“Of course.”

I shook my head, the smile falling from my face.  “I thought you were gone.”

“So did I.” It was the first time I’d seen him look so serious. “It was quite a chance. The Hashna Stone couldn’t be taken by a human hand.  But what about a dwarf?”

“Then you knew it wouldn’t kill you?”

“Had no idea.” He shook his head, making his curls swirl. “The wording of magic is a tricky thing.  If the dwarves that made it said ‘human hands’ and left it at that, then it wouldn’t kill me. I didn’t know if they included ‘dwarf hands’ or not.”  He shrugged. “I saw you charge in with that crooked blade in your hand, and thought ‘if he’s crazy enough to do that, I’m crazy enough to take that stone.’”

I was suddenly glad that I’d decided to rush in, even if my plan didn’t work.

“But it still zapped you,” I said.

Samel shrugged.  “Who knows how those spells were worded. I guess my hands were enough like human hands that it wouldn’t let me take it freely. But not enough like a human that it killed me.” Samel lifted his right hand.  Well, he lifted his arm. His hand flopped forward in a crumple of limp fingers.  “It got its revenge though. It didn’t let the hand I grabbed it with come away unscathed like the rest of me. I still can’t feel a thing.”

I swallowed. What could I say? Was it polite to ask if he would ever be able to use it again?

“Is it permanent?” I blurted. Too late to think about what was polite.

He let his hand fall limply to the quilt. “The doctors aren’t sure. They’ve never dealt with injuries from magical dwarf stones.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“Maybe the feeling will come back later.”

“That’s what the doctors said. I think they’re just saying that to make me feel better.  They think that just because I’m the size of one of your children that I am one.” He let out an indignant huff.  He glanced his stiff fingers, then looked away. “It’s just a hand, not my life.”  He tried to keep his voice cheerful, but it cracked at the end of his sentences.

Nothing I could say would make up for the loss of his hand. But I knew what would at least lighten the moment. “One thing’s for sure,” I said, grinning. “I was pretty smart for letting you come with us.”

He grinned back. “You sure were.”

Next

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Chapter 32: Unlikely Hero

The doors led to a spacious sitting room littered with over-turned furniture, dead grimulin, and it was packed with soldiers. Ryker stood in the center between his two bodyguards, the Hashna Stone still around his neck. Radon stood opposite from him, looking even shabbier now that he was next to his twin.

Faiza and Ethan were standing behind Radon along with several soldiers forming a protective half-circle around him. They must be some of the soldiers that knew of Ryker’s treachery before now. I started to join them, but a bout of dizziness swept over me, so I stayed by the door and leaned against the wall.

“That is not my brother,” Ryker said. “He died three years ago.”

“I am Radon. Rightful King of Minaria,” Radon looked more like a beggar than a king with his uncombed hair and shabby beard, but his voice was commanding, where Ryker’s came across as whiny. “Ryker, the scoundrel that now wears the crown, put a sleeping potion in my drink and dragged me to the dungeon. Then he claimed that it was Ryker who died, while he pretended to be me.”

There were several shouts of outrage.  A few directed at Ryker, dressed in the king’s robes and decorated with the crown, but most were directed at Radon. The soldiers were having trouble deciding who to believe.

“This is madness!” Ryker’s eyes were wild, like a man on a piece of driftwood in a storm. “This man dares to come in here and accuse me—Radon, King of Minaria—of stealing my own throne.”

“He is your twin,” called one of the soldiers near Radon.  “There’s no mistaking that.”

“Perhaps I should come closer, brother,” Radon said. “So you can recognize me.”

“I buried Ryker three years ago.  I identified him with my own eyes.  If this is Ryker, then he has either found a way to fake his own death or has been raised from the dead.” Ryker gave a barking laugh that no one joined.

“I am Radon,” Radon said firmly.

“If you are Radon, then why am I wearing the Hashna Stone?” Ryker pointed at Radon. “This man is in league with Bayvlad! They have plotted together to steal my crown. Seize him!”

The soldiers around Radon lifted their swords, ready to fight.  The others in the room either stayed put or only took a few hesitant steps toward Radon. No one wanted to risk killing him if he was the king.

“I know who the real king is!” Tallis strode into the room followed by twenty soldiers and a handful of people dressed in wealthy clothing that must be important officials. Right behind them came Rachael.  She was still pale, but she wasn’t shaking.  She spotted me leaning against the wall and came over.

“Are you alright?” She looked me over.  I realized I was probably as pale as she was, and I was covered in scrapes from the grimulin’s talons. I nodded.

“You,” Ryker scoffed.  “You who were arrested for conspiring to steal my stone! This only proves that my twin is in league with Bayvlad.”

“These will vouch for what I have to say.” Tallis gestured to the officials.  “Our true king has been locked in a dungeon for the past three years.”

“Silence!  Guards, kill the traitors.”  No one listened to Ryker’s demands. Their eyes were fixed on Tallis.

“As many of you know, I was once an ambassador to Hashna and before I left, a very strange thing happened. Our king came to the dwarves and asked for a new stone to be made for him, because his had been stolen—“

Ryker drew the sword at his hip and charged at his brother.  “If you cowards won’t defend your king…” Ryker swung at Radon, but Radon blocked it. The guards around him tried stabbing at Ryker, but their swords didn’t cut him. Rachael stiffened beside me and put a hand on my arm. I gritted my teeth feeling helpless. After wearing the stone for so long, I knew there was no way for anyone to hurt him, no matter how strong or skilled they were.

Ryker laughed, “Fools!”

His two body guards followed him in his charge and attacked Radon’s soldiers, but there were only two of them and about a dozen surrounded Radon. They were soon killed.

Ryker continued slashing at his brother paying no attention to his fallen body guards or to the men that tried attacking him in spite of the stone’s protection.

The rest of the soldiers didn’t know who to attack. What if they chose the wrong side and killed the real king? That would mean their death for sure.

I started forward, ready to join the fight. But what was I going to do? Kill Ryker who had the protection of the Hashna Stone? Grab the stone and be shocked to death?

We’d gotten this far for nothing. Radon may be a better swordsman than Ryker, but eventually Ryker would wear him out. Once he died we’d be back in the dungeon, or if we were lucky, running for our lives, or hiding in some other country.

I shook myself. There had to be something that could stop Ryker.  My sword!  It was immune to Bayvlad’s magic, maybe it wouldn’t be hindered by the stone’s magic either.  It was a long shot, but it was the only thing I could think of.

I turned and ran back to the hall, causing another burst of dizziness. I slowed long enough to let it pass, then found my bent and blackened sword.

“What are you doing?” asked Rachael as I came back to the room. I didn’t answer. My mind was focused on one thing.

I would only have one chance to make this count. Ryker wouldn’t be expecting anything to actually be able to hit him and his surprise would be my only advantage.

That is, if it actually could hit him. It may be a bit beat up, but it should still have the magic that the dwarves put into it.

I pushed passed the soldiers and ran toward Ryker whose back was to me. Perfect. I would hit him in the back of the neck. I couldn’t exactly stab with my sword bent like that. The tip was curved in. The blade was still sharp though.

I brought the blade down across the back of his neck and was pleasantly shocked that it made contact.  Blood came out. Ryker stumbled forward, but didn’t fall as I expected. The gash on the back of his neck wasn’t deep.  My seared sword wasn’t as sharp as I’d thought.

He righted himself and faced me with wide eyes.

I would have laughed at his expression, but all that physical activity caused another bout of dizziness and all I could do was stand there with my sword held up in trembling hands.

Ryker batted my charred sword from my grip and would have stabbed my with his next blow, but someone caught his arm. Radon stood beside him, holding his arm back.  It only lasted a second before Ryker pushed him off and in two moves, had Radon at the point of his sword.

His smile looked more like a grimace of pain. Blood ran out of the wound in his neck and down his back.

I swayed and thought I would fall over from the dizziness, but somehow managed to stay upright. All I could think was that I’d messed things up again. My stupid plan to attack Ryker caused the king’s death, just like my stupid plan to let the grimulin out of the dungeon caused us to be thrown in the dungeon.

Ryker stumbled backward and the stone on his chest moved. It pulled away from him, and I expected it to disappear—sending itself away again—but it didn’t. There was a flash of red light and the Hashna Stone fell to the floor.

Right beside Samel. I blinked, thinking the dizziness was making me see things, but Samel’s motionless form remained.

There was a moment of shocked silence before Radon advanced on his brother. In one movement, Ryker was at his mercy.

Ryker whined for the guards to take Radon, but Radon commanded for them to take hold of Ryker and they did.

Radon picked up the glistening red gem from the floor beside Samel, his face grim. The golden chain was broken so he held it in a clenched fist instead of putting it around his neck.

Rachael rushed forward and knelt beside Samel.

“Samel!  Samel? Wake up.”

I knelt beside him too, the pieces finally connecting in my fuzzy brain.  Samel had pulled the stone from Ryker’s neck. He’d come up invisibly and no one had seen him until the stone’s power had shocked him and….

I couldn’t even think the word. Not Samel with his cheeky grin and cheerful spirits. But he was lying on the floor. He’d touched the Hashna Stone while it was around someone’s neck. The bolt of magic it put out would kill a grown man. There was no chance half a man would survive it.

Rachael cradled his head in her hands and people crowded around us. They were talking, but I didn’t hear words. All my senses seemed to be focused on the tear sliding down Rachael’s cheek. It moved so slowly, like it too couldn’t believe what had happened.

I thought I should put my hand on her shoulder, but couldn’t move. I didn’t know if it was from shock or because I was so weak from my fight with Bayvlad.

I was still watching the tear on Rachael’s face when she gasped out a sort of choke/sob. I followed her gaze. Samel’s eyes were open. A knot that had formed in my stomach released and I thought I might fall over from relief.

Samel looked at Rachael, then his eyes wandered to me. “Bet you’re glad you let me come along.” The corner of his mouth lifted, then he closed his eyes again.

For a terrible second, I thought those were his last words.

Rachael looked up with teary eyes. “Someone get a doctor.” And I knew that he was still breathing at least for now.

“He took the Hashna Stone.” I looked up to see Radon gazing at Samel with admiration and confusion.

One thought pressed itself into my weary mind: the Hashna Stone was finally back where it belonged. Bayvlad was dead. Ryker captured. And Radon was back.

The relief should have made me feel light but instead it felt like a heavy arm clapped itself around my shoulders and pulled me down.

And down I went. Into blackness.

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