Read an Excerpt:
“Nice moves,” Aunt Poppy said. Sweat was beginning to gather on her brow. Her sandy short-cropped hair glistened in the sunlight. “You must have been practicing while I was away.”
She raised her short sword to guard her face and torso and backed away from me. She certainly looked less intimidating in her formal pantsuit, but the shirt still strained from her hulking arm muscles.
“Something like that,” I replied. I didn’t exactly have fighting clothes, as my mother didn’t approve of this hobby. But my old, beat up riding clothes worked well enough. “Or you’re just getting old.”
I took a deep breath and flung my head to toss my dark black ponytail around to my back. I rushed towards her and she swiped her blade in my direction. At the last moment, I dropped into a crouch and swung my leg around to trip her. She jumped before I could make contact and flipped forward, over my head. She lowered the edge of her short sword to my throat as autumn leaves fell around us.
“Got me again,” I laughed as she pulled her sword away and offered me her hand. I happily took it and pulled myself up. The garden of the Autumn Maiden’s estate wasn’t meant for this sort of training, but it was always my favorite use of the grounds.
“You truly are getting better,” she repeated.
I pushed some loose hairs behind my ear and smirked. “Still not good enough to beat you.”
“Please girl, I have been adventuring for over a century now. You are barely within your second decade,” Aunt Poppy reassured.
“I just really wanted to beat you before . . . . Well, you know,” I admitted.
“Asha,” she began sympathetically, “just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you need to stop sparring with me.”
“The future Autumn Maiden doesn’t concern herself with the martial arts,” I said, pointing a crooked finger at her, mimicking my grandmother. I pushed my nose out and opened my eyes a bit wider.
Aunt Poppy laughed. “You better not let her catch you doing that. That woman never forgets. You can trust me on that.”
That made a chill run down my back, remembering all the times I’d been scolded by my grandmother. It’s not what she says so much as how she says it. That tone will stick with you.
“But it's more than that, Aunt Poppy. I don’t want sparring to just be a womanly dalliance for me. I want to be an adventurer. I want to be like you!” I exclaimed. I meant it. The princess life never seemed to fit for me.
“I know,” she said in a consolatory tone. “But sometimes we just don’t get to choose our path in life.”
I liked to believe she truly felt things could be different. Why else would she send me such detailed letters of her adventures all the time? I hoped she might know about a loophole to get me out of this.
“But you did!”
Aunt Poppy sighed. There were some things, it seemed, even great adventurers can’t do. “That’s the blessing of being the second born. I assure you, your father has made sacrifices because of his duty to the family. That is just something firstborns get saddled with.”
“It's not fair,” I whined. I sounded like a small child. I always made sure to take advantage of my time with my aunt to get in all my overly dramatic complaints that I couldn’t do in front of the rest of my family.
“That it is not, Asha. Life rarely is,” Poppy said solemnly, turning to look toward the Autumn Maiden’s expansive manor house.
“It's just,” I began, “The way you talk about the material realm makes it sound like there is so much more opportunity there.”
“It is that,” Aunt Poppy admitted, “but there are troubles there too. I’ll be heading back there after tonight’s dinner. Perhaps if you make a good impression your grandmother might let you tag along.”
I smiled at the thought, even though I knew it was a far-fetched fantasy.
“Asha! Sister! It is almost time!” My sister Tinsley called, running out of the large decorative glass double doors on the back of the manor house.
“Very well, Tinsley,” I relented and began following behind her.
“Eh, not so fast,” Aunt Poppy said.
I looked down and noticed the training sword still in my hand. I handed it over.
“I get it,” Aunt Poppy began, “I’ve had more than a few first dates I’d wished I’d brought a weapon along, but it may not offer a good first impression.”
“Probably not,” I laughed.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Tyranny of the Fey by Terry Bartley ~ #Fantasy @terrybartley
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Publisher: Starlight King Press
Date of Publication: 8/15/2023
Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 50,334
Cover Artist: Deryl Arrazaq
Tagline: Adventure Waits for No One
About the Book:
A collection of short stories in a connected fantasy world
A famed Elven researcher is worried about her home. When she discovers a new realm with massive magic potential, she believes she has found the answer. Will the Seasonal Fey Courts allow her to continue her research without interference, or do they have more nefarious plans?
An Elven princess runs away from her arranged marriage to a parallel world. Will she be able to find the adventure she seeks? While she is in search of battles with dragons and quests to obtain sacred artifacts, she finds that what she was looking for may have been a true connection with someone that understands her.
Two childhood friends, an Orc and a Goblin, have long dreamed of adventure. When a magic school dropout stumbles into their lives, they jump at the chance to realize their ambitions. This found family realizes the world of Galevyn is a much bigger place than the jungle they grew up in.
Terry Bartley is a journalism, literature, and English teacher at Scott High School and writer of the upcoming collection of short stories, Tyranny of the Fey. Terry is the host of the podcast “Most Writers are Fans,” about the intersection between writing and fandom. Terry has professionally written for the Coal Valley News and Screenrant. He has won awards for writing and broadcasting from the West Virginia Associated Press, the National Broadcasting Society, and MarCom. He has a B.A. in English from the University of Phoenix and an M.A. in English Education from Western Governor’s University.He loves tabletop roleplaying games, social deduction games, reading comics, and watching musical television shows. He lives in rural West Virginia with his dog, Etsy.
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