Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – Christa Conklin

March 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.

My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.

During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.

Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.

The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.

How did you come up with the title?

Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.

Tranquility - Front Cover.png

How much of the book is realistic?

My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.

http://www.christaconklin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christaconklinauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christaconklin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christaconklinauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528828.Christa_Conklin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christa-Conklin/e/B0788392DJ/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christa-conklin-72002669/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”

Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.

What is your best marketing tip?

I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!

Bio:

CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and
woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school
their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle.
Visit her at christaconklin.com.

Review:

Tranquility  by Christa Conklin
“Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies,
and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative
tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of
characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you
finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next
adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
March 20, 2019

Blurb:
She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying.
The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds.
Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.

 

Author Interview – Bianca Rowena

August 10, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

 

Bianca

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Mostly it exhausts me, both emotionally and physically. But so does playing the piano and doing art. If I was doing those things to relax, then it would be like a colouring page or writing a diary entry. But when I’m truly working on my art (writing) then I’m exhausted afterwards because it takes a part of my very self, when I’m truly creating.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Constant interruptions.

Book 1 Rowena

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I wanted to publish a mid-grade book, which would be too far separated from my adult romance. I wouldn’t want the mid-graders to pick up the adult romance, so I considered writing the younger genre under a pseudonym.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m part of a writer’s group, where we write together and share our work. My best friend is also a writer, who writes romance and we talk about writing all the time. I am lucky to also have a couple friends who work at the local library and who like to write and read, not to mention writers I’ve met and become friends with through conferences, book fairs and author readings from Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. It really is a big community once you get involved. They help me become a better writer because we share insights and advice and things we’ve learned or discovered, from anything from writing style to book advertising options.

Ryn

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Currently I’m working on a three book series. The first two definitely go together, originally written as one long novel split into two. The third book could be a stand alone and is the prequel to the first two. The series is a Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy based on a fanfiction novel I wrote two years ago. The first book has been published and is called ‘The Gift Stone’, book one of the Gifted Series ( https://www.amazon.ca/Gift-Stone-Bianca-Rowena/dp/0994851332/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 ).

Book two will be released in the summer of 2018, and will be titled ‘Takano Rynn’, the name of the main male character in the series. Book three will hopefully follow soon after that.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was born in Romania and we were Hungarian speaking. So when I came to Canada I was five years old and put into Kindergarten. I remember being forced to go to these English language sessions in the office, where they would hold up a photocard of a boot and say ‘boot’ over and over again. It didn’t take me very long to learn English, and it was WAY before anyone realized I understood it. So I had the power to know what everyone was saying around me and about me, without them knowing that I understood them. Understanding English came quickly at age five, but speaking it back, took a bit longer.

Also, whenever my parents needed to tell us something that they didn’t want anyone else to overhear, they’d tell us in Hungarian. And when they wanted to discuss something that they didn’t want my sister and I to hear, they’d discuss it in Romanian (we were too young to have learned Romanian in school, before coming to Canada). So I recognized at an early age that language held the power of communication, either to make it possible or to close it off and leave you completely clueless, depending on which language was being spoken at the time.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

‘Swim the Fly’ by Don Calame

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The Eagle.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve got five unpublished but completed novels and one half finished novel, as well as 4 full length screenplays and many, many, many stories I started.

Virgin

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

A movie made based on your book.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For my fan-fiction I spend a lot of time researching the details. Otherwise my novels are more character based so I don’t get into details, even in my sci-fi/fantasy novels, of the technicality of things. I sort of avoid too much research. As for character research I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books in the genre I write and observe everyone around me. That too is research!

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

The last three months I’d been writing at least 3-5 hours daily, mostly for posting fanfiction chapters daily ( www.wattpad.com/biancawatson ). But when I’m not deep in my fanfiction I spend most of my time editing. I’ll write a novel in a month or two, non-stop, about 6 hours a day. Then I’ll stop and do edits at a slower pace. I’m not a planner, so when ideas hit me I write them as fast as I can (like my personal Nanowrimo), then I plan and edit and work hard on the rewrites, but at a slower pace, a few hours a day. It’s not a consistent thing for me, writing. It’s on a project by project basis, so the times fluctuate per month.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I like short, simple names. Usually I can just sense that the name is right for the character or if it is wrong.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write YA because everything I write comes out sounding YA, whether I intend it to or not. My first novel, The Virgin Diaries, was a contemporary adult romance. Yet anyone who has read it would tell you it ‘reads’ like a YA. I’m naturally drawn to writing in a more simple, easy to read, style and my understanding of the world around me seems to be naturally very young minded. So I stick with what I write best!

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I was working on my Star Wars fanfiction right after the new movie came out, doing a sequel to it. Now I’m focusing on my next novel in the Gifted Series, Takano Rynn, which comes out this Summer. I also want to write some new material for future work, and I’m editing (alongside book two) book three of the Gifted Series, which may need a rewrite for the ending. I also write in a journal when I can.

  1. Share links to your author websites.

www.biancarowena.com

www.facebook.com/biancarowena

https://biancarowena.wordpress.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Bianca-Rowena/e/B0161S8DI0

https://www.instagram.com/biancarowena/

https://twitter.com/biancarowena

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14199529.Bianca_Rowena

 

Clickety Click Excerpt #10 – The End…

November 9, 2015
mandyevebarnett


monster claw

Alice’s excitement kept her awake until the early hours but she was still wide eyed in anticipation of her new role. The elders welcomed her into their cavern and huddled around her as she explained the cloth storybook. It took many months of carefully note taking to ensure the whole Griffian history was compiled. Another several months were taken to make sure it was in chronological order and then the sewing begun. During this time, Alice’s task became the talk of the underground world. Many Griffian’s would nod to her as she walked the many corridors. Alice increasingly felt at home in the rock caverns and corridors and became accustomed to her new form.

Alice and Totoran would escape into the night sky when the moon was hidden by clouds or was just a sliver of light. She flew over her Aunt and Uncle’s old home on occasion but it was just a forgotten place now. After their rescue her guardians settled into the under ground world in the mountain range and were always pleased when she visited them. The story of her parentage was no longer a secret and Alice knew she was where she belonged for the time being – a Griffian new world would be found eventually and a new chapter written in their history.

I hope you enjoyed my ‘short’ story! It just grew and grew.

With several larger projects requiring my time, I thought it best to end this story.

thank you

Clickety Click – Excerpt #8

September 28, 2015
mandyevebarnett


monster claw

Too hesitant to ask what the King meant by his remark, Alice nodded and smiled. Totoran took Alice’s hand and led her away, calling back to his parents that they would join them later for supper. Escorting Alice along another passageway he turned into a splendid chamber decorated with several battleaxes, a large cloth covering depicting a battle scene and a long low bench. Alice was amazed at the intricate details in the fabric although the scene was rather gory.

“What is this, Totoran?”

“This tapestry was made by my great, great, great grandmother. It is the final battle on our planet before we escaped. It is a reminder of our home and the courageous Griffian’s who tried to defend it. The weapons you see are the only remaining pieces from that battle. We fashion new weapons in their likeness although we use earthly materials, such as iron and steel.”

“So this room is a war room?”

Totoran smiled and shook his head.

“Not exactly – it is a place of reflection and a reminder of our history.”

“I’m not sure I could be peaceful and reflect with these images, Totoran. The scenes are violent and graphic.”

“Well, yes I can understand that. You are young in your transformation and the collective memoirs have not invaded your mind yet.”

Alice turned from inspecting the tapestry with wide-eyed shock.

“Collective memoirs? What are you saying, Totoran? Will I see this battle somehow?”

“Alice I did not mean to alarm you. I’m so sorry. The images will come gradually just like dreams. You will not be assaulted all at once with the history of our kind. It is a way of passing down our world and accomplishments, generation to generation.”

“Will the dreams be so graphic, horrid? I’m not sure I would call them dreams more like nightmares.”

Totoran rubbed at his chin, deep in thought. When he looked up again, he was smiling.

“I think I know a way of making this history less frightening for you, Alice. Come with me.”

Puzzled at his words but thankful she would have less horrific images to deal with; Alice followed the prince along a corridor which steeply dipped into the mountain. Totoran took her hand as they descended for what felt like a long time, guiding her and ensuring she did not slip on the wet rock surface. Alice guessed after some time that an archway encircled with torches ahead of them was their destination.

“We are now as deep as it is possible to dig, Alice. Here we keep our most precious treasures.”

“Treasurers? How will treasurers help me learn your history with being scared?”

“You will soon see. Come this way.”

Totoran turned to one side and brushed away a heavy cloth from a hidden wooden door. It’s surface was framed and crisscrossed with heavy metal bars.

“Not much could get through this door!”

“That is why it was made, Alice.”

Totoran took a large key from his belt and turned it in the lock. The heavy mechanism’s clanking echoed along the corridor behind them. As Totoran pushed the door, Alice could see it was over a foot thick and the hinges creaked loudly. She had to blink several times for her eyes to get used to the bright light within the chamber ahead. As her eyes focused she saw several hunched figures sitting around a table lit with dozens of candles and there were even more torches hung on the rock face around them.

“May I introduce you to our most precious treasurers, Alice. These are the elders. They are writing their life stories in intricate detail for future generations.”

Alice was stunned into silence. The Griffians before her were hunched, pale and withered. She whispered.

“How old are they?”

“Well in human terms several hundred years but Griffian’s live a lot longer than humans. Why don’t you sit, Alice? We shall talk a while.”

Alice followed Totoran’s lead and bowed to the elders one after the other, then sat on a nearby bench beside him.

“We ask your help, great elders. Alice is fearful of the history transfer and its images. Can you relate the past for her?”

The elders turned as one to face the two young Griffians, nodding slowly. One Griffian with steel grey tufts along his back spoke in a low gruff voice. It sounded like pebbles rolling down a wall to Alice.

“Young ones, we have many, many stories of our planet before the destruction. Generations of Griffians enjoyed happy times and abundance on our home world. The battle was but a second in time and not to be dwelled upon for long. We must learn from our mistakes and ensure our kind continue far into the future. What did you wish to know?”

Totoran nodded his encouragement to Alice. Her mind froze. What should she ask first? Gripping her hand gently, Totoran spoke.

“Our young guest has recently transformed and is trying to make sense of her new form. Please forgive her.”

The elders smiled and nodded in unison. The grey tufted one, held his claw out towards Alice.

“We have many stories to tell, my young one. We only want to help. Do not be afraid we are old and harmless.”

“I didn’t mean you to think I was afraid of you, I just have no idea what questions to ask. The tapestry so horrified me and when the prince told me I would have dreams of the battle, I was scared.”

“It is understandable, Alice. Why not ask about something other than the battle?”

Alice’s shoulders dropped showing her relief at the elders offer. After a moment she began to talk. Three hours later, with their stomachs grumbling for food, Totoran and Alice left the elder’s chamber, happy and filled with momentous stories to recite at the supper table.

Clickety Click – Excerpt #6

July 9, 2015
mandyevebarnett


monster claw

“Where is your planet? Can we see it from Earth?”

“Firstly, in essence it is your planet as well, Alice. Secondly, it is further away than any super telescope can view. Unfortunately, our escape required we never return. We have no idea what fate our planet suffered after we left.”

“What happened? Why did you all leave?”

Totoran guided Alice to a stone bench and sat beside her. As he looked into her eyes, she saw a shimmer cross her vision. Images began to appear and a dark sky appeared. Alice shook her head but Totoran held her chin.

“Let the vision come, Alice. I am showing you our last view of the Griffian world.”

Alice let her shoulders relax and watched the vision come into sharp relief. The landscape stretching before her eyes was festooned with hexagonal boulders stacked on top of each other. The dark sky was a dark purple but there were infrequent streaks of blazing aquatic blue across it. In the distance she saw intense blue sparks and flames shooting hundreds of feet upward.

“What you see is the destruction of our capital city, Alice. We have no idea if any Griffian’s, who escaped to the far shores, survived. We have no way of getting back now.”

“Who or what did that? Why can’t you go back?”

“You are so full of questions! The destruction was caused by a break in our atmosphere. A large fissure grew to extraordinary lengths across the whole planet. Without the protection of the atmosphere our planet was at the mercy of bombarding comets. These brought with them not only a kind of radiation but also bacteria. Griffian biology cannot withstand either of these elements and many hundreds of Griffian’s died. In a desperate hope that we could find another planet that would sustain us, we built a craft of mammoth proportions. Many did not live to see it launch.”

Alice saw the sadness in Totoran’s eyes but she was puzzled as to how a young Griffian could be so moved by an event that happened generations before. Unable to voice her thoughts she placed a hand gently on Totoran’s own. They remained silent for a while, both lost in their thoughts. Wrightsen’s croaky voice broke their peaceful contemplation.

“Prince Totoran, please you must come. The watchers have a report.”

Alice nearly toppled backwards off the bench with the speed in which Totoran stood up. He ran and soon disappeared down a corridor, shouting behind him for Wrightsen to take care of Alice.

“Oh goodness, what has happened, Wrightsen?”

“I think it might be human machines approaching, but sincerely hope that is not the case.”

“Can I do anything to help? What should we do?”

“We are at the mercy of fate, my young Griffian. I only hope we survive this conflict.”

Before Alice could stop her thought escaping her mouth, she blurted out.

“Did you see your world burn, Wrightsen?”

Alice clasped a hand to her mouth and shook her head vigorously while laying a hand on Wrightsen’s shoulder.

“I’m so sorry, don’t answer anything, I shouldn’t said that. I apologize.”

“Totoran told you then of our escape?”

He begun to but then could not continue. The sadness in his eyes was intense. How can he feel such pain? He could not have been there.”

“It is not for me to disclose the Prince’s secrets, Alice but we all feel the loss of our world. Tales are passed down generation to generation.”

“I understand that but to see how intensely Totoran felt at a distance event, stunned me.”

“As I said, I am not at liberty to discuss the Prince, my young Alice. Come now we should make our way further into the mountain.”

Alice followed the older Griffian, keeping close to the rock walls as other Griffian’s hurried this way and that in a determined manner. Wrightsen glanced back repeatedly to ensure Alice did not stray from their path. As they traveled further into the mountain fortress the air grew colder. Alice shivered, wishing she had some sort of cloak to wrap around her misshaped figure. As if reading her mind, Wrightsen pulled her sideways into a small room. With a click of her talons, Wrightsen produced a spark and lit a torch held in place by a bracket on the wall. The yellow flame illuminated the room. Alice saw large boxes piled high one side of the room and folded garments to the other.

“Take a couple, Alice, it will get colder the further we go.”
“Thank you, I was shivering with the cold and damp air.”

Once they were both wrapped in warm woolen garments, Wrightsen took Alice’s claw and guided her into the corridor again.

“Stay close, Alice, these passages are not frequented by the majority of the Griffian’s. There may be rock falls and slimy surfaces to deal with as the maintenance crews have enough to monitor and repair higher up.”

With care the two Griffian’s trod the narrow passage lit only by the torch flame held up by Wrightsen. A sudden gust of wind battered the flame, producing grotesque shadows all around them. Aware that Wrightsen had stopped, Alice stayed behind the older Griffian waiting for instructions.

“That’s not good. There are only a couple of reasons there would be such a gust like that. We must hurry, Alice and get to the sanctuary.”

“Sanctuary?”

“I have no time to explain, just follow me, Alice, we have little time.”

Alice heard the fear in Wrightsen’s voice and saw it cross the elder’s eyes. With her heart racing, Alice followed in silence through several passages, which gradually reduced in size. They were both hunched over when her guide held up a claw and stood still. Alice narrowed her eyes trying to glimpse what was ahead. The torch’s flame flickered casing shadows over the wet rock walls. A talon went up to Wrightsen’s lips and Alice compiled to remain silent. Claw in claw they moved forward one step at a time listening intently. A booming noise echoed along the rock walls, halting their progress for several minutes. Alice saw Wrightsen sniff the air then motioned to move forward again. After some time they came to a dead end, surrounded by a clawed rock face. Alice looked at her guide in puzzlement and pointed at the impenetrable barrier ahead.

Wrightsen placed her claws on the wall in front of her and pressed. A glimmer of light appeared to her left and Alice realized it was a door. Stone scraped against stone as they both pushed the rock door open. Once the gap was large enough to accommodate them, Alice and Wrightsen passed through. Before Alice could take a look around, the elder grabbed her shoulder and motioned for her to help close the portal. Once satisfied it was secure, Wrightsen turned to Alice.

“Now we can speak, we will be safe here.”

“Where are we exactly?”

“In the deepest part of the mountain, a place none of us ever wished to use.”

“Can other Griffian’s come here to safety? We should have brought others with us.”

“There are other entrances just as well hidden, do not fret, Alice. We need to continue for a while yet but there is no fear of being followed now.”

Alice took the torch from Wrightsen as she lit another. The rock walls were not as well maintained or as smooth so as they walked they took care not to bump into pieces of rock jutting out into the passage. After a while, Alice heard running water.

“Is that water I hear, Wrightsen? All the way down here?”

“It is an underground river and the reason we dug these passages so deep. We have supplies stockpiled but water is vital for a siege.”

“A siege? I don’t understand.”

“The humans will try to eradicate us, Alice. We must hide until they feel their invasion has been successful.”

Alice’s eyes grew wide with fear. She tried to make sense of what the older Griffian was saying.

“How long do we have to stay here?”

“Last time it was about ten years.”

“What! No…Wrightsen that’s not happening. I can’t be here that long. We have to go now, get out of here and fly far away.”

“Alice calm down, we can not risk going to the surface. We must stay and hope many other Griffian’s have made it down safely. Including the King and Prince.”

With her body shaking uncontrollably, Alice fell to the floor sobbing. The elder Griffian embraced her and made soothing noises to comfort her. A grinding sound made them hold still and quiet until Wrightsen heard a huffing sound and replied in a similar manner. Large shapes approached and gradually formed into Griffian’s.

“Wrightsen, what a welcome sight you are? How many are here?”

“My Prince we have not ventured further as yet. Alice is upset.”

Tortoran knelt beside Alice and pulled her head upward to face him. With great care he wiped tears from her skin.

“You are safe here, Alice, do not fear. I will try to be near at all times but cannot promise. The humans are blasting the upper rock face in an attempt to break through. We must be diligent and secure this sanctuary. “

Alice looked up her fear increasing at his words.

“They are blasting the mountain? Surely we must leave?”

“We have constructed numerous safety measures and escape routes throughout the mountain range, Alice. There is no way they can penetrate this far down. We are safe. Would you feel more comfortable changed to human form?”

Alice looked into Tortoran’s eyes seeing his sincerity and care. She felt easier having him near.

“Would the other Griffian’s not be offended if I changed, Tortoran?”

“No, of course not! Whatever helps you is fine. Wrightsen will be with you at all times and Marduke here will protect you too.”

Tortoran pointed to a large Griffian standing behind him, who nodded in agreement at his Prince’s order.

“Thank you, Tortoran for your understanding and for the extra protection but do you not need every available Griffian to fight?”

“We are many, Alice, it is not a problem. I would feel better knowing you are kept safe. Come, we can rest in the sanctuary.”

Alice wrestled with herself on whether to transform or not and decided her Griffian form would serve her better if the humans did penetrate the fortified sanctuary.

“I will retain my form, Tortoran, if we are attacked I will be better equipped to help. Thank you.”

Tortoran smiled at her and held his claw out to direct her forward.

“I would hope that situation does not occur, Alice. There are many Griffian soldiers between you and the surface.”

In single file the group walked steadily downward again along a narrow passage. There was a glow ahead of them and the torches bright flames diminished as they approached. The passage way ceased abruptly into an enormous cavern. Alice saw stockpiles of food and equipment on all sides. The cavern was teeming with Griffian’s carrying more supplies and others directing their placement. The low buzz of grunts and murmurings lessened as Tortoran entered the space. Griffian’s turned to face him and bowed.

Tortoran held up his claws and spoke loudly so the assembly would hear him.

“Griffian’s we will overcome as we stand together. We have endured before and we will again. Together we are strong. Continue with your assignments, I thank you all for your loyalty.”

Loud huffing sounds echoed around the cavern as Tortoran’s speech ended. Alice looked at him in awe. They all love and respect him.

           Tortoran turned to her and guided her down a ramp into the center of the cavern. She was aware of questioning looks, as she passed, at her presence with the Prince. A corridor ahead was their destination. The walls were smoothed and there were torches cradled in holders along its length. Alice saw an elaborating decorated door before them and puzzled why such decoration was needed so deep within the mountain.

“Your majesty, I will await your orders.”

Alice turned at Marduke’s words and saw him stand to one side of the door. Wrightsen bowed toward Tortoran and then sat on a small ledge in the rock face.

“Come, Alice, it is time you met my father, the King.”

“Are you sure? I can stay with Wrightsen and Marduke.”

“Yes, I am certain. Please bow and remain silent unless my father questions you directly. He is not as fierce as he appears but insists on proper protocol.”

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