Quest to the North goes live today on Amazon. Like I said the other day, this is the next book in the Minivandians series and it picks up where Tales ended. A snippet from the more serious story can be found here.
There are also a few of the shorter stories that are inspired by real life, and I thought I’d let you all have a taste of one of those.
They continued to wend their way down the hall, then heard loud cheering from one of the doorways.
“Is there a game going on?” asked Elsked, peering through into the chamber.
“Ah, the merfolk are having an afternoon match,” Weerdington said as he caught up to the boy. “Would you like to watch for a moment?”
Elsked did not answer, but instead walked through the door into a large room which smelled of salt water. In its center was a large, open tank, in which swam several merfolk, both male and female. Across its middle someone had stretched a net, and the merfolk were batting a leather ball back and forth over it. As one made an acrobatic strike at the ball, another on the other side hit it with her long tail. This raised a cry of hoots and cheers from the small crowd of merfolk in a nearby pool, who were relaxing and watching the sport.
On the other side, a well-muscled merman with long, blonde hair tracked the approaching ball and used his head to send it arcing high over the net and out the back of the tank. Derisive boos and catcalls came from both the other players and the spectators. Elsked ran to catch the ball, which had bounced across the floor and come to rest next to the wall. He picked it up and walked back to the edge of the tank, holding it out to the mermaid waiting there for him. His pale blue eyes were transfixed on the creature, who sported a head of wavy dark hair and twinkling eyes the color of waves after a storm.
She took the ball from him, saying “Thank you, sweet child!” in a breathily melodic voice, then paused. She looked from the boy to his father, then back again. After a moment, a knowing smile came to her lips and she looked back to the Minivandian.
“Hello, DaddyBear! It’s been such a long time since I saw you last!” she cried out in a sultry tone, waving a shapely arm at the Northerner. Ruarin looked up to her husband in surprise, then her lips grew thin as she saw his face blush a deep red under his beard.
“Uh, hello, Cichlidia. Indeed, it has been quite a while,” he called back, looking as if he wanted to melt into the floor. The other merfolk saw his discomfort and began to laugh and call out to him.
“I know he can swim! I’ve seen it!”
“But not with those heavy clothes on!”
“Yes, he’ll have to strip down like last time!”
Ruarin, her head held high and a serene expression on her face, walked to the tank and took Elsked’s hand. She looked up at Cichlidia, still floating in front of the boy and rolling the ball between her hands, with a glare which should have set her dark hair alight. The mermaid laughed as she splashed back to her position in the game.
“Come, son, let us leave these… lovely creatures to their relaxation,” she said gently, her eyes never leaving those of the mermaid.
With a regal air, and without looking at her husband, she walked across the room and out the door. As he followed his mother, Elsked looked back for one more glance at Cichlidia, returning her wave as he went.
The Minivandian motioned to Master Weerdington to go before him, and turned to leave the hoots and cries of the merfolk behind. The deepening redness of the back of his neck was the only sign he gave of emotion as he followed his wife and child.
Once they were a few feet down the corridor and out of earshot of the merfolk, Ruarin wrapped her arm around her husband and pulled him close. “I love you,” she whispered in his ear, “but I want to know how she knew you.”
DaddyBear, for his part, mumbled a quiet “Yes, my lady,” and continued his escape from the merfolk.
The rest of the story, along with much more, can be found in Quest to the North, available now at Amazon. Hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please leave a review!