Buddug, Brenhines Iceni Prydain is the first Legendary Women of World History biography available in the Welsh language and one of the few biographies
It’s finally here! The final chapter to the Peers of Beinan Series! Released on 1st February, 2015, Princess Anyu Returns tells the story of Princess Anyu’s exile on D425E25 Tertius and of her return home to Beinan to face the murderous and very treacherous Lord Yelu. In this scene from chapter two, Enter Anyu Wen, you are treated to a Firefly-influenced opening followed by the introduction of a very dangerous alien.
Music filled Anyu’s ears as she wandered the mall, light, rhythmic and sweet with the familiar sound of shawms and flutes. As if in a dream of the home she knew existed no more, Anyu drifted towards the sound. In the center of a large open space near an escalator, a small troop of performers dressed very much like Beinarians danced and played the sweet music. Recognizing the dance, Anyu put everything down and joined the forming circle. Memories swelled. Her feet knew the steps, transporting her and surprising the performers while the crowd of shoppers applauded. As the song ended, she disappeared, collecting her belongings once more. One of the dancers, a man with brown eyes, jet black hair, and apricot skin followed her, “Who are you?”
Anyu turned and faced him, “I beg your pardon?”
“You appeared and disappeared as if from nowhere. I have never seen you before, yet you knew the steps to our dance.”
“Everyone knows that dance,” remarked Anyu casually.
“Not in this time and place, they do not,” countered the man.
Comprehension filled Anyu, “Ah! You must be of this Society for Creative Anachronism that people told me about!”
“I am. My name is Seo-jun.”
“It suffices. So what are you doing here?”
“Shopping. New dress,” motioned Anyu at the fabric of her dress.
Seo-jun raised an eyebrow, “With a heavy pack like that and a basket of food?”
“Sure, why not?”
Seo-jun’s eyes changed from brown to metallic blue, his voice lowering, “You are not from around here. As a matter of fact, you are not from anywhere near here – not even this galaxy.”
Anyu tensed and instinctively raised her hand to her hip, forgetting for the xiao-shir that her sword was buried in her pack, “Who are you?”
Seo-jun grabbed her arm, “Let us take a walk, Princess!”
Seo-jun dragged Anyu to the parking lot outside of the mall. Forcing her onto the back seat of his black two door Ford Fiesta sedan, he threw her belongings into the car hastily, spilling out one of the kolaches from its basket. Suddenly a dark-haired and grey-eyed man wearing white trousers, a white t-shirt, and white linen blazer leapt out from behind a nearby station wagon, his laser épée humming fiercely, “Let her go!”
Seo-jun laughed, “Why? You cannot harm me!” To prove his point, Seo-jun concentrated; the doors on the sedan locked with a loud click. Anyu tried to pry open the locks; they would not budge.
Understanding her life was in danger she quickly found her sword and drew it from her pack as the man stepped towards Seo-jun with his laser épée. Closing his eyes and controlling his breath, the locks flew open. Anyu rolled onto the ground to safety. Lifting a finger, the stranger threw all of Anyu belongings out of the car including the stray kolache which rolled in its protective plastic sandwich bag until it hit Anyu’s pack as Anyu found her feet.
The man with the épée advanced on Seo-jun, “You will leave this world, Seo-jun.”
Seo-jun sneered, “And who will make me? You?”
“If I must,” confirmed the man, raising his épée and planting his feet firmly to attack.
“Your powers of mind are limited. Your powers of flesh are even more limited. When can your kind ever defeat us?” guffawed Seo-jun.
“Perhaps I will die trying,” offered the man.
Anyu raised her sword, taking a defensive position with her strange benefactor, “If he dies, he does not die alone!”
“I did not come here for you, Princess. But if you wish to die too, I can arrange that. Pity though; you are worth so much more to me alive – unlike your friend here,” frowned Seo-jun.
“Come now, what would Lady Laela think if she heard you talk that way? You cannot simply dispose of her favourite pet without provoking her wrath!” cried the stranger sarcastically, his feet instinctively falling into the ritualized martial arts forms of the knights of Gurun. Anyu smiled, recognizing the steps from countless lessons by Lady Knight Aldris of the knights of Gurun, her feet gliding into complimentary forms in accord with the Gurun style of fighting. Their two swords – one heritage and one modern – seemed to dance joyfully as they met each other’s eyes. Two complete strangers yet suddenly comrades in arms.
Undaunted, Seo-jun rolled his eyes, half amused at the irony of a man from the past wielding the modern weapon while the adolescent daughter of Beinan’s conquered queen wielded a heritage sword. It was, from a larger perspective, downright comical while being, from another point of view, rather heroic. “You both surely must realize how useless both your weapons are against me.”
“That has yet to be seen,” challenged the stranger. “I have never actually attacked one of your species before – but since you obviously are intent on taking one or both of us to Lord Yelu, I see little incentive to not at least try.” In affirmation, the stranger lunged at Seo-jun with his blade, much to Seo-jun’s annoyance.
Seo-jun deflected the blade with a wave of just one finger, “I am no longer amused.” Anyu, unaffected by Seo-jun’s telekinesis, glided closer, cutting her blade down and slicing ever so slightly into his shoulder. A few drops of black blood spilled onto the ground, sizzling against the payment acidly. Seo-jun faced her, his eyes like blue flames, “Unwise!”
Just as Seo-jun was about to throw Anyu into a nearby car with his mind, he observed several native humans approaching their position, obviously attracted by the noise. A man wearing the navy blue uniform of the State College police department approached cautiously, his firearm drawn. Seo-jun’s eyes changed back to their brown disguise. Stepping back towards his sedan, he opened the door, “Very well then, since this place is far too crowded for my taste, let us defer this conversation for another beinor. I trust you will make peace with your goddesses by then. I would hate to see your soul trapped around this world.” Sitting down in the sedan, Seo-jun closed the door, engaged the internal combustion engine, and drove away.
Relieved, the stranger stepped out around a car to turn off his laser épée out of sight of the police officer. Anyu pulled her sword sheath out of her pack, “What just happened?”
“I would think that would be obvious,” answered the stranger as the police officer reached them.
“State College police,” announced the officer. “Are you okay?”
Anyu looked at the officer and offered a respective bow, “Yes! Yes we are – thanks to you!” The police officer tipped his cap politely before turning back, unwilling to get more involved than absolutely necessary. Anyu turned once more to the stranger, “Well, now that’s over – did you know that Seo-jun creature?”
‘I do; I did,” admitted the stranger as he re-joined Anyu.
“Who is he? Perhaps more importantly who are you?”
“That is a long story – to both questions. I am not entirely certain I know who you are – except that you are not of this world. Why did he call you ‘princess?’”
“I do not know how you know I am not of this world – but he called me ‘princess’ because I am the daughter of my people’s reigning sovereign queen.”
The stranger took off his watch, “This looks like an ordinary multi-function time piece such as local men of wealth wear – but it is not.” Demonstrating, he tapped the surface of the timepiece rapidly three times. The display changed. “As I hope you know, all life on this world is kol-based, not silizium-based like we are. This function scans for silizium-based life. That is how I found both Seo-jun and you, actually. All three of us are silizium-based. But beyond that – all I can tell is that Seo-jun appears to be after both of us – not just me.”
“That name – Lady Laela – sounds familiar. Who is she?”
“Assuming these readings are correct and you come from B345A15 Quartus, also known as planet Beinan?”
“Yes, that is my home world.”
“Mine as well. Have you ever been to the castle temple of Abka Biya overlooking the Amba Mederi Ocean in Bira Hecen?”
“Do you remember a strange woman with metallic blue eyes who takes care of the temple’s observatory?”
“Vaguely – she did something – scanned me perhaps? I came to the temple to seek refuge from strange dreams I was having. She said I was seeing someone I knew in another life – someone named Janus who I later came to recognize as the same soul as this Lord Yelu the Bastard who has no doubt overthrown the Gurun dynasty.”
“Precisely. That is Lady Laela.”
“You know her?”
“Better than you do – and so does Seo-jun.”
“Who is he?”
“A very dangerous person from an ancient race – Lady Laela’s race actually. We first met them – we call them ‘The Amur’ – during the Great Migration. Woe to all Beinarians that beinor ever came.”
“My name is Anyu – Lady Engineer Anyu.”
“You are both a princess and an engineer?”
“Yes. You find that strange lord…”
“The locals call me ‘Christopher.’”
“That is not your name.”
“Why give me an alias?”
“I will tell you my birth name – in time. This is hardly the place to discuss our world.”
“I have a home in town where we can talk more privately – it is not far from here.”
“Lead the way!”
The following excerpt is highly unusual: it is the final two pages of the book, its epilogue.
“On BE 6961, beinor 154, my mother, Queen Constance the Kind, sacrificed everything to give me my one chance at escaping the weapon systems under Lord Yelu’s control. Hating Yelu as much as she loved Lord Knight Corann, she hid her feelings and played along with Yelu’s whims. It would not be until I returned to Beinan that I discovered Yelu’s plans that beinor; the drug my mother drank was no different than the one Janus gave Lady Ecter when he first raped her, conceiving in Lady Ecter his daughter, the future Lady Priestess Miriam, and through them, the Choire Ar Cerridwen.
“In my mother’s body, a child was quickened by Yelu’s persistence in those last beinors of the Beinarian era. Across Beinan, the fires emanating from the Ten-Arian monastery, from the temple of Abka Biya, and from the palace spread widely, destroying many familiar and sacred places. As I set course in my star craft for D425E25 Tertius, my star craft detected a strange anomaly coming out of the temple where I found so much peace. A small shockwave hit my star craft two xiao-shirs later. In my mind I heard Lady Laela’s voice and knew that somehow she was behind whatever it was my star craft detected, working unseen and unnoticed though for what purpose I would not understand until I returned to Beinan.
“The Beinan I knew was gone. But deep inside me I knew something else: that out of the darkness and cold comes a new spring, a new hope. If I ever doubted it, all I needed to do was listen to the messages left for me on board the Liltaél. The story of my exile on D425E25 Tertius and of my return to Beinan, planet B345A15 Quartus in Beinarian nomenclature took me down many unexpected roads. Many I loved perished in that Great War whose lives I honour across this history of the last yen-ars of the Beinarian Era. Many hidden things revealed themselves at last. I am not proud of what I said and did along the way. But this I affirm forever: in the darkest night, in the deepest snow, in the bitterest sorrow, there is love, there is light, and there is a new life waiting for you if you simply find the courage within yourself to believe.
The Great Succession opens the Peers of Beinan Series as book one of The Legacy of Princess Anlei trilogy. A young adult coming-of-age story, GSC lays the world building foundation for the entire Peers of Beinan Series with a classic love story based in part on Arthurian romances and the real life struggles Queen Elizabeth I of England.
In this excerpt from chapter five, Princess Anlei and her knight protector, Lord Corann meet Corann’s father and two of his half-brothers for the very first time.
“Make way. Make way for her Royal Highness, Anlei, Crown Princess of Beinan,” cried the herald as Anlei entered the state dining room where the reception for the most important suitors was already in full swing. Lord Corann kept a single pace behind her, visibly protecting her and yet not overly obtrusively. Anlei could feel the warmth of his body near her as she moved and felt glad for it in this intimidating setting filled with so many richly dressed Beinarians representing so much power and prestige.
Gazing around the room, she saw her parents, and then noticed several groupings of young men, many with their fathers. As her presence became noticed, Anlei attended to the posture and disposition of these men. Many of them were richly dressed with crimson belts, embroidery, and trims to their tunics. As a group they seemed to be somewhere between thirty and seventy yen-ars with an air of self-confidence and ego, mostly in their physical appearance, she could tell, by the way they preened and showed off as she passed. These men were obviously interested in a trophy wife, not her.
Overwhelmed by what felt like a wall of men wanting to devour her, Anlei clutched Corann’s arm, trying to conceal her fear. Corann put his hand over hers, trying to both comfort her and cover the fear in her hand, transforming the grasp into a secure escorting hold. “Courage,” he whispered into her ear.
Navigating away from the first group of young men as far as she could in the crowd, Anlei bowed courteously but did not approach them too closely. Suddenly an older gentleman wearing a Ten-arian broad sword turned into her path, stopping her in her tracks. His eyes were a bright grey and his hair was a medium brown that curled into wavy locks. He was 56.8 cun 寸 tall and very athletic in build, his muscles well defined under his fine pale yellow wool tunic embroidered in silver symbols. Just as stunning to Princess Anlei was the way his face and the way he carried himself reminded her of Corann. Suddenly she realized who he was, “Good afternoon, my lord. Would I have the honor of speaking to none other than Lord Cariadoc of House Ten-ar?”
Lord Cariadoc bowed graciously, “Indeed, Your Highness…but it is House Shem that I represent in your fair hall. Many yen-ars ago I gave my soul to the Shemai; though I am a brother of Ten-ar, it is my devotion to my faith that calls my heart first and foremost thanks to my lady wife. I am blessed, Your Highness, to be the father of and extend my name to many sons and daughters.”
“Not all, my lord,” corrected Lord Corann from behind Anlei. He knew it was against protocol to speak now, but he was eye to eye with his father for the first time in his adult life. Surely Cariadoc knew from his face who he was. “You have a son, your first born – and he is a Knight of Ten-ar.”
Cariadoc eyed Corann with veiled contempt, “You are Corann, I presume?”
“What are you doing here? Are you courting the princess?” demanded Cariadoc.
“I am vowed to her side as knight protector. No man shall harm her as long as I am alive. I have a sacred trust to fulfill, to stand always at her side in friendship and in service to her. Her highness is my dearest friend for whom I would gladly lay down my life if called upon to do so as a true knight of Ten-ar,” declared Lord Corann with pride.
“A beautiful woman of House Miyoo is a dangerous creature, Lord Knight Corann, I would be careful of falling to the magic of your charge. You may find yourself in regret one beinor.”
“Is that why you avoid me, Father? You feel some sort of regret that I exist?”
“You have no father, young one. All you have is a witch’s spell that entrapped an honorable man into dishonorable lust until you were made of that abomination. “
“I was more than a yen-ar old when you left, Father. You knew me as an infant and yet you chose to leave. Do not blame the prayers of House Miyoo for your actions. No one made you leave. Nor did anyone make you ignore me all these yen-ars. How many yen-ars did I train in the monastery – ever once did you speak to me, did you say my name, or admit that I am your son? I never asked much of you, only that you admit that you sired me.”
“The Shemai help us all that such a spell was cast over my body, that I ever laid with your mother, boy. Did I lay with your mother, the Lady Cordelia, until you were born of that lust? You want me to say it? YES. I did – for it there has never been a beinor of my life I have not felt the judgment of The Shemai on my head. He will judge all of Beinan for it; destroy us all because of my lust, because I was too weak to prevent your making. I have sinned and I can never undo my sin. This is why I never acknowledged you. You are a mark of shame upon my flesh, Lord Corann. You are an abomination before the god I worship. I beg my wife every beinor to forgive your making and in penance, I have given her many children, only some of whom have survived. My eldest sons, Kaleb and Janus are here. THEY are the sons of my hopes and dreams,” asserted Lord Cariadoc.
Anlei felt Corann’s slow temper rising. It was very difficult to stir Corann to anger, she knew, but this time she could tell, Lord Knight Cariadoc was actually insulting him enough to do it. Fearing for her friend for whom she cared deeply, her many yen-ars of training and practice asserted themselves, “Perhaps, Lord Knight Cariadoc, in a less formal setting the three of us may re-convene in a quieter place to discuss the past in more serene and genial environments. Perhaps this is not the best setting for healing old wounds which clearly need to be healed. Not speaking after all these yen-ars have obviously wounded both of you. If you are amenable, I would be happy to serve as arbiter in your dispute and help end this misunderstanding between you. I understand, my lords, that the past is unpleasant for both of you. But we ARE civilized Beinarian nobles, are we not? Have we learned nothing from the beinors of clan warfare when such misunderstandings were resolved at the points of blades and arrows, with generations of clan feuds, endless and needless bloodshed?”
Cariadoc tried to suppress a laugh and failed, his guffaw escaping his lips against his will, “Well, young one, you have trained your princess well. Perhaps this can be settled in more genial environments. That is, if you really do want a few xiao-shirs of clearing the air between us?”
“Lord Knight Cariadoc – father – I have wanted little else from you in all my life. Just to sit and TALK to you for a bit. I am sixty yen-ars old; I do not need a father per se. But I would like to know who you are and how you have lived your life since you left Lady Cordelia and me. And I would like it very much if you would take some miniscule interest in some part of my life. Right or wrong in what she did; I am innocent in this. I had no choice in how I was made or why,” answered Lord Corann.
Cariadoc softened, “No you had no choice, you are right. Your Highness, if you are willing to arbitrate, I am willing conference with your protector in, say, ten beinors?”
“Agreed,” answered Anlei.
“Agreed,” answered Corann.
“Until then,” bowed Cariadoc, leaving them both.
Corann and Anlei tried to recover mentally from the confrontation with Cariadoc which, by this xiao-shir, had left them both with headaches. Before either could move from their spot, even to look for refreshments, Prince Anwell, her younger brother, rushed up behind her, “There you are. Where have you been?”
“I might ask the same thing of you, Anwell. You were not at grandmother’s dinner when father, Corann, and I came back from the Ten-arian monastery. I’m surprised grandmother did not have your hide. You know how grandmother feels about those formal dinners. You – you – you….” Anlei could not finish her sentence.
Corann laughed behind her, “My dear friend, can I reasonably presume this is your brother Anwell? You’ve grown since last I saw you.”
“Friend? Or lover boy?” teased Anwell. “Father told me you two were kissing back there in house Ten-ar. Any truth, Lord Knight?”
Anlei eyed her brother with contempt, “Lord Corann, this is indeed my younger brother by seven yen-ars, Prince Anwell the Unready, 37 yen-ars old and still acting 17.”
Anwell returned her dirty look as Corann addressed him, “What is true, Your Highness is that I am the sworn protector of your sister and that it is my job to lay down my life in her personal defense should either honor or physical danger be threatened. I would hate to use my sword on someone as royal as your person, Your Highness, but as I said, my vow to her includes Her Highnesses honor.” Corann met his eyes steely, scaring the irresponsible prince.
“You wouldn’t….” implied Prince Anwell.
Corann put his dominant left hand on the hint and drew the sword two cun 寸 to demonstrate his intent, “I would if you pressed the matter. Do you intend to keep pressing it, Your Highness?”
Convinced at last, Anwell backed off, “NO SIR!”
Corann smiled and returned the blade to its natural position in its sheath, “I did not think so.”
Lord Prince Bevin, from a few zhang across the room, naturally saw the slight drawing of the Ten-arian sword and joined the conversation, “Is there a problem here?”
Corann answered him, “Your son does not respect house Ten-ar, Your Highness. I had to teach him a small lesson in…respect.”
Bevin laughed, “Well done, my lord. Carry on.” He strode off to resume his conversations with the fathers of candidates for Anlei’s hand.
Anwell’s expression changed, his posture shifting to one of great caution, his voice softening so that Corann and Anlei could barely hear him even after he put his arms around both and huddled the trio close together, “Actually, sister, I do respect your knight very much. But I had to know how trustworthy you are, Lord Knight Corann.”
“I don’t understand,” replied Corann, just as softly.
“I’ve been in this room longer than both of you and I’m not nearly as ‘unready’ as I seem to be, Sister. I just don’t want the throne in this political climate. After all, it claimed Prince Alastair’s life when I was just a toddler. That tells me that someone or something is very interested in seizing power for himself, someone prudent enough to realize that our little brother would have readily made a proper king successor for mother. Anyone with that sort of – political ambition is a danger to us all. I for one am not interested in dying at the hands of some social climber. A knight of Ten-ar as consort can protect this house better than anyone can—everyone in this family knows that. Why do you think mother managed to become queen? She married a knight. You think our father doesn’t have the skills to repel an attack on this palace? Sure he does…and the skill needed to avenge anyone who tries to kill mother, let alone succeeds. That is why; I think the assassin did not try to take mother’s life when doubtless he had the chance. The security recordings I’ve seen show that father was barely two steps away from mother when we were little. No murderer chances getting a knight of Ten-ar involved like that; they are too fierce of warriors with too many different weapons. Even the knights of Gurun mostly train with modern weapons, not the heritage ones from original home world,” explained Anwell.
The fine hair on Corann’s arms stood up on end under his tunic. Was Anwell saying was that he was actually playing this political game quite astutely, trying to avoid assassination and trying to keep his sister alive in the process? “How do you know so much about the training of knights of different houses, Your Highness?”
“What do you think I’ve been doing the past thirty yen-ars? Sister…I know you think I’ve been doing little more than playing our whole lives…you even came up with that awful nickname that seems to stick with me everywhere I go. But in truth what I’ve done is infiltrate most of the other houses, learning what they know and don’t know – especially what they won’t say in Council chambers. Our constitutional monarchy is much more fragile than anyone here seems to realize – or at least, if they know, they are not speaking of it. Taking an interest in martial arts and in technology is the perfect way to learn what they know, Anlei. I’ve travelled our planet – from Nan-li in Xi-Nan Fang to Belarn to Olos-Mir and beyond…. There is a predator in the fold, one very well hidden. I do not think you will catch him before it is too late. But you might prevent him from striking, Corann – if you can bring yourself to do what you know you must,” riddled Anwell. “The time to stop him is now. Do not wait for tonight, no matter what her visions may say. Stop him now, noble knight. He will strike in a way you will not see until too late – but will recognize from your own past, I think.” Anwell slipped away and melted into the crowd like vapor.
Anlei stood shocked, “He doesn’t…”
Corann’s senses from Lady Cordelia carefully marked Anwell’s words, “Oh, but he does. He’s just as house Miyoo as you are. There is no reason to believe he hasn’t foreseen something. He just doesn’t want to tell us outright anything.”
“Why do I feel afraid?” trembled Anlei.
“I think we both have a good reason to be afraid now, Your Highness,” replied Corann. Escorting her gently through the crowd, he brought her to a buffet table and found her a cup which he filled with the contents of a nearby silver pitcher filled with nanla wine. He handed her the cup, then filled one for himself and drank deeply. Both started to sigh a bit of relief and tried to relax.
“Have you tried the kelan fruit, it’s quite good?” offered a 55.5 cun 寸 tall bright blue-eyed nobleman with short blond hair. Lord Janus smiled at Lord Corann and Princess Anlei genially.
“No – I – we have not had the chance yet. Too much politics in this room for us to make it to any food,” replied Anlei.
“Are you here as a couple?” asked Janus.
“You may not realize this, my lord, but I suppose I am the lady this whole thing here is all about. I am Princess Anlei…this is my protector, Lord Corann, Knight of Ten-ar. He stays close to me to ensure all of you behave yourselves,” she answered.
“Oh, of course. Royalty can never be too careful these beinors. All the rumors of those kidnappings and so forth are enough to make any noble woman nervous. You know the older of my two sisters Lady Ecter had that happen to her. Her child, a daughter, is two yen-ars old now. No husband – and the bastard is quite proud of what he did to her, of course,” replied Lord Janus.
“I’m – I’m – speechless,” answered Anlei. “I have never met anyone who was affected by such violence before.”
Lord Janus eyed Corann, recognizing his looks, “Oh, I am sure that if one looks close enough, one will find these practices are more common than one thinks. But enough of our sorrows. This is a party and, if you will permit me, Your Highness, I brought you a gift that I hope you will honor me by accepting.”
Anlei deferred to Corann as Janus brought out a small box from a pocket and offered it to her, “Corann, what do you think?”
“I think you should be careful, Your Highness. You do not know this man and, whatever it is, you should not fully accept it without security fully testing it,” answered Corann cautiously.
Janus’ pride struck out, “Are you utterly paranoid or is that just your self-interest as a suitor of the princess talking that you don’t want her to accept a gift from me? What is it, Knight? Yes, I know who you are, Corann, son of Cariadoc of house Ten-ar. Oh, I don’t dare challenge you by the old rules…you could kill me in an instant and call it ‘protecting’ her. But what is really at play is that you want her for yourself. Everyone knows it. You’ve been in love with her for yen-ars.” Janus’ raised voice judiciously drew the attention of everyone in the room.
Janus’ words lashed at Corann. As Lord Knight Culain’s squire he had served as his master’s aide when the Great Council was in session along with Lord Eisiq and his squire, Lady Elda, the daughter of Lady Cara and her late husband, a knight of Gurun. Together, Corann and Elda had learned to recognize members of the Great Council by sight. In just the seven xiao-shirs since Anlei and his arrival, Corann counted at least twenty such councilors in the room, making Janus’ accusation politically damaging to his protection of the princess.
Corann stayed calm, remembering his training and avoiding Janus’ flagrant attempts to provoke him. Corann knew palace security protocols as well as any knight of Ten-ar, a factor of the close relationship between houses Ten-ar and Gurun. Standard procedure was to never let a royal accept anything potentially dangerous and unknown without certain tests being run. Tests for poisons, for enchantments, for technologies, weapons, and so forth had to be run. This had nothing to do with him. Any palace guard would have insisted upon it. No foreign object could be brought into the palace without first rigorous tests, much less offered to a royal. So how did this gift get past all that security? What had Cariadoc and his family done to bypass these protocols? How many tai-ors had been paid out as bribes to get this far?
Concerned about attention Janus attracted yet even more concerned for Anlei’s safety, Corann took the high road, “Anlei … there are rules for these things, basic security procedures that have to be followed in the palace. That he is offering this without my advanced knowledge tells me that something is wrong, that none of these rules have been followed. Your safety could be at stake. I know all of these words are designed to discredit me because he makes it sound like the issue is not your safety, but our friendship and my feelings for you. But I beg you. Listen to wisdom and reason. Do not accept this until all of the normal tests have been run. If you do not believe me, summon one of the knights of Gurun charged with protecting your mother during court. Every knight and guard in the palace can tell you this box is not on our list—and it has to be on our lists before it is allowed anywhere near a royal or a dignitary for that matter. Nothing presented to royalty comes to you without our first knowing about it. This is how we keep you alive in dangerous times. Please, I beg you…let me keep you safe.”
Anlei smiled at Corann, taking the box and handing it to him, “As you wish, Lord Knight Corann. My life is in your capable hands. Summon the knights of Gurun charged with palace security and begin testing this at once. If it is safe, I would be most pleased to accept the gift. If it is not, I think we both know what happens then.” As Corann moved to a nearby panel in the room to bring in security, Anlei took Janus aside, “That was very badly done of you, Lord Janus. Corann is my best friend and closest confidant. Humiliating him is not the way to win my heart. I know he loves me more than he will ever tell me. He knows I cannot return his feelings. We have…and understanding on this matter. But as friends, I am just as protective of him as he is protective of me. You want to win my hand and possibly my crown? That was NOT the way to do it.”
Shamed, Lord Janus bowed deeply, “Forgive me, Your Highness, I did not know. I thought more to play to the crowd – and to impress my older brother, Kaleb. My father loves Kaleb much more than me, you know.”
“Your father has given poor Corann nothing but contempt his entire life, something he does not deserve. Corann is the finest example of house Ten-ar I have ever known. There is no finer man in all of Beinan. If my father had arranged him for me, I would have felt lucky to be his wife.”
“Why didn’t you marry him? I hear he practically grew up around the palace, that he’s your grandmother’s protégé?” asked Janus.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess there is something intimidating about knowing someone is in love with you when your heart is just not there. I grew up in such a political world. I never had a chance to think about love. Corann is so…passionate, so tender. I guess I figured I would be a poor choice for a wife for him, that he deserves better than me.”
“Political marriages. Ever we arrange our lives around power and prestige, never love. We bed people we don’t want to spend any time with normally out of just pure…physical instinct or political obligation to procreate. And all the time, we feel like we would rather be somewhere else as we feel our bodies just automatically act. What a strange world we nobles live in. You gotta envy House Cashmarie for their ordinariness. They at least get to enjoy sex with their spouses.”
Anlei smiled, “You are very perceptive, Lord Janus.”
“Well, I am a son of Cariadoc. I suppose some good has to come of that.”
“Who is your mother?”
“Oh, the Lady Jebez of House Shem, a very fine but serious woman. She bore Cariadoc ten children, only five of us survived past forty yen-ars. She and father really enjoy being close. Naturally, my father doesn’t believe in using technology when it comes to affecting procreation, one way or the other. I think one or two of my siblings would have lived longer if he did…just using modern medicine to heal their illnesses. Instead, when they became seriously ill, we went to our religious house to pray and The Shemai chose to take them in death instead. Unlike your religion, we do not believe we are reborn after this life. We only believe in one life and once only. So my siblings are gone – never their like to be seen again.”
“Are you done talking to her?” asked a low voice from behind. It was the grey-eyed Lord Kaleb, the eldest of Cariadoc’s children by Lady Jabez.
Bowing, Janus introduced them, “Princess Anlei, may I introduce to you my older brother, Lord Kaleb, first born of Lord Cariadoc.”
“Second born,” she corrected. “You are the first born of your mother, but you do have an older half-brother, you know.”
“Temporarily,” sneered Lord Kaleb.
“Indeed?” squirmed Anlei, gliding over to Lord Corann and grabbing his arm. The tightness of her fingers said it all.
Kaleb turned to his brother, “So what was all that about?”
“A setback – for now – but there are a still a few shir-ors before the masquerade, brother. We still have time. See what we can do about that; this is not over, not at all,” schemed Lord Janus.
Good-bye A672E92 Quintus is a young reader, young adult novella from the Peers of Beinan Series exploring the final yen-ars on planet A672E92 Quintus. It tells the story of the meeting between Lord Malvyn of house Balister and Lady Priestess Brigid of house Miyoo and how together they helped unite their divided people before their sun went nova.
The isle of Ben-Ar glittered with the crystalline temple of Ainisil, its many spires and towers weaving together organically out of the island’s craggy cliffs with smoothness and geometric precision. Dormers flowered near the pinnacles of each tower, amplifying the number of windows and usable working space. Twenty zhang张away from one of the spires, a species of falco albus circled, then wringed and stooped, catching a large rodent in her talons to feed to her hungry chicks being watched over by her mate in their nearby nest. Three stories below wound a carefully paved road leading from the docking port for low altitude shuttles one full li里 to the main entrance to the temple, a choice made to reduce the environmental impact of technology upon the area wildlife.
From the elaborately carved portal arch of the main temple entrance, Lady Brigid walked the smooth stone path with practiced precision. Fifty zhang 张 along the path from her starting point at the heavy wooden temple doors she stopped and stood gracefully at attention. Two figures, one male and one female, appeared as growing specks from the opposite end of the path. Brigid smiled as slowly the features of Lord Malvyn of house Balister and Lady Abbess Sareth of house Ten-Ar became clearer to her eyes. As they approached, Lady Brigid noticed six more figures appearing in the distance that too began to walk the smooth stone road.
Lord Malvyn bowed to Lady Brigid, taking her hand and kissing it, “Honor and respect to the lady of many names and to her ambassador in you, my lady!”
As Malvyn’s lips touched her hand, Brigid felt a shockwave of spiritual energy. Her eyes widened and balance faltered barely perceptibly, taking her breath as a presence filled her consciousness. Who was this Malvyn of house Balister and why was his polite kiss of respect, presumably directed at the triple goddess known collectively as Ainisil, affecting her so? Knowing an answer was merited by protocol, Brigid curtsied politely, “Merry meet, Lord Malvyn. House Miyoo greets you in the name of the Lady.” Malvyn smiled chivalrously in turn.
Lady Abbess Sareth bowed in greeting to Lady Brigid, “It is an honor and pleasure to meet you, Lady Brigid. Honorable Lady Kendra praised you highly when informing me of the conference.”
“I shall endeavor to earn your respect then, Your Grace. How fares house Ten-Ar this beinor?”
“Too few choose the healing arts, I am afraid. You speak honorifically to me, Lady Priestess Brigid, but I fear there is precious little honor in my title; it appears to be more of a formality than a true position of authority,” confessed Sareth.
“But surely you are a skilled healer and gifted teacher of the healing arts,” protested Brigid.
“These are not gentile times, my lady. Master knights and generals of war hold the greater prestige. Better a warrior and knight of Ten-Ar than a healer to them– at least for the present.”
“Perhaps we may reverse that trend,” suggested Brigid, her mind still mostly focused on Malvyn unexpectedly even as she applied Miyoo mental discipline towards staying in the present.
“Reverse what trend?” asked Lord Horatio of house Xing-li, his eyes forward so as to avoid noticing the delegation from house Cashmarie immediately behind him.
Lord Malvyn offered Horatio the Balistrian gesture of respect, “Good morning and welcome lord …”
“Lord Admiral Horatio of house Xing-li, at your service,” echoed Horatio.
“A pleasure and an honor, lord admiral. I am Lord Malvyn, master bowman and head of house Balister. Please allow me to introduce the ladies: Lady Abbess Sareth of house Ten-Ar and our hostess, Lady Priestess Brigid of house Miyoo,” presented Malvyn.
“A pleasure as always,” greeted Lady Silmira of house Cashmarie from behind Lord Horatio’s right ear. “I am Lady Mariner Silmira of house Cashmarie and head of our delegation.” Turning towards Horatio, Lady Silmira smiled politely and sarcastically, “A pleasure to see you again, lord admiral. Killed any children lately?”
“The affairs of house Xing-li are none of yours, Mariner. Or should I call you a hapless dimwit of a sailor who cannot navigate her way out of a sea to an ocean?” snarled Horatio.
Lord Malvyn raised his eyebrow with a turn of his body so only Lady Sareth and Lady Brigid could see his expression of mild annoyance and disbelief. The ladies echoed his body language silently. Turning his attention once more to Horatio and Silmira he motioned, “Well then, clearly we have much to discuss. Shall we enter the castle temple then and begin?”
Lady Silmira bowed and curtsied politely, her ocean green kirtle catching a sudden gentle island breeze, “By all means, Lord Malvyn! Let us find the solution to this problem. The sooner we conclude negotiations, the sooner we may all return to our homes.” Horatio nodded consent as Lady Brigid led the way into the castle temple and showed each of her guests their quarters for the duration of the negotiations.
Two shir-ors later, the negotiations began without progress. At the first meeting lasting three shir-ors, the three delegates from house Xing-li shouted insults and insinuations at the three delegates from house Cashmarie who returned them with equal ferocity, trying the patience of all three arbiters and forcing an early adjournment. The next morning talks fared little better as the delegates from each house numerated the flaws they saw in the other, their voices increasing in volume and the cutting of their mutual insults escalating to levels none of the arbiters realized was possible. After four full shir-ors of shouting with barely any breaks for meals, Lord Malvyn left the conference room for some air. Heading to his quarters, he collected his heritage bow, a recurve bow made of a tawny white wood called Nara known for its lightness and strength. Heading outside, he set up two targets, the first twenty zhang 张 from the invisible firing line he drew in his head and the second at sixty zhang 张. Stringing his bow he picked up an arrow from his nearby quiver, nocked it into the bowstring, and drew the string to his ear, sighting carefully at the far target. Releasing the arrow he heard it thump into the ground clumsily, his concentration clearly off. Picking up another arrow, Malvyn tried to quiet his mind. Behind him strode Lady Brigid, “You are angry.”
“Shouldn’t you be at the conference listening to their profanity?” remarked Malvyn.
“I adjourned the meeting three xiao-shirs after you left. It was pretty clear we were not going to achieve anything this beinor.”
“My lady,” began Malvyn, trying to conceal his anger at the stupidity that filled the negotiations, “I – I don’t know what to say or feel or do. I am used to leading women and men; I have certainly heard my share of petty arguments. But this? This I do not know how to handle – do you?”
“Anger and hate is like a gale force wind; sometimes you have to simply endure it and let it run its natural course before you can clean up the damage it has created.”
Malvyn lowered his bow and set it aside gently, “What makes you think anything will survive the ‘gale’ as you put it? These two houses are determined to destroy one another.”
“They are more alike than they are different. But Cashmarian discipline is based on cooperation and mutual respect; Xing-lian discipline is largely about fear and obedience to authority. Until they stop shouting and recognize how much they really do have in common …”
“… This nonsense will continue,” finished Malvyn.
“I am sorry I lost my temper.”
“There is nothing to apologize for, my lord.”
“Please call me Malvyn.”
“Malvyn. May I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes, of course.”
“When you first greeted me last beinor – did you feel anything, notice anything out of the ordinary?”
“You mean beyond simple respect for you as the chosen representative from house Miyoo for these talks?”
Brigid paced nervously, “Yes. I do not know how to put it into words.”
“I am not a man of religion. The Lady Ainisil is a mystery to me; I need priests and priestesses like you to help me understand. Of late I have had dreams, a face and an image that made no sense to me – until I saw your face and recognized you from the dream.”
“What happened in the dream?”
“It is hard to remember. But you were with me, steadying me in some way, I think.”
“Politically? Personally? Do you remember anything about the context?”
“It makes no sense to me. I saw – people I recognize to be on the Great Council. There were people everywhere around us, all dressed in their finest fabrics and brightest colors. There was food and drink being served, then some sort of formal – I do not know – maybe an inauguration or something?”
“I do not remember. But I do remember feeling you close to me and liking that feeling,” blushed Malvyn.
“When you touched me, Malvyn, I felt an energy flowing from you into me. It was unexpected and hard to understand. Something changed in me from that touch. I have no words to elaborate with. In all my training I have never heard of anything quite like that before. But we are taught one thing: the goddess of many names whom we called Ainisil often gives us sign posts on things to come so as to alert and prepare us for some challenge. Do you think it is possible that your dream and my experience last beinor are perhaps connected?”
“I do not know, my lady. But I am willing to see what comes next.”
“As am I.”
“Assuming there is some special significance to all this, may I touch you again?”
“Are you married?”
Malvyn’s grey eyes lit up at the question, “No. I have never actually been close to any woman in any particularly personal way.”
Brigid smiled, “Then you may.”
Encouraged, Malvyn closed the distance between them and brushed a free lock of her hair back behind her ear. Tentatively he brushed his lips shyly upon hers before feeling bold enough to kiss her fully and completely. Brigid reciprocated the kiss. Malvyn kissed her again, “Could it be that you and I are destined to be together? Are you to be my wife?”
“Let’s find out,” blushed Brigid.
Catherine de Valois is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of Henry V’s queen consort, Catherine de Valois. Caricaturized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the real Catherine you meet in this biography was a woman of great intelligence, courage, and conviction.
In this scene from the end of chapter one, Catherine meets King Henry of England for the first time in October 1419.
“Must we do this, Mother?” asked Catherine, pacing furiously.
“What choice do we have, Catherine? The blood of the women and children of Rouen cry out for action. We must meet with King Henry this day or risk further slaughter,” conceded Queen Isabeau, her heart equally furious and grieved at the same time at Henry’s atrocities in Rouen.
“I do not want to meet him! I hate him! I have never heard of any living man being so vile and disgusting to me.”
“It is said that he is otherwise to his own English people, that he governs them kindly and with great skill.”
“But what about the Welsh, Mother? Was he kind to them when he slaughtered them while his father reigned?” countered Catherine. “I know it is my duty as your daughter – but you know how I hate violence, especially against the innocent. How are the Welsh any different than us? All they wanted was to not be slaves to this conqueror. We of all people understand this!”
Before Isabeau could respond, the door opened. Jacques de Heilly entered with a bow, “Your Majesty, Your Highness may I introduce you to Henry, by God’s grace King of England.”
As Montjoie stepped aside to take his traditional place one pace behind the queen, King Henry emerged into the room, his eyes immediately fixing themselves on the beautiful Catherine in her embroidered cotehardie and fur-edged side-less surcoat, the royal fleur-de-lys glistening in gold thread on her gown. For a moment, Henry found himself so moved by Catherine’s beauty that he could not speak. Finally after two minutes, the king took a chivalrous bow, “Good ladies, we meet at last!”
Coolly, Catherine curtsied politely, “Your Majesty.”
Henry, normally so confident and proud stammered, “Y-y-you are more beautiful than I ever dreamed! Truly a vision of all that flowers in France.”
“If you value the beauty of the flowers of France, perhaps you should not have killed so many along the way,” countered Catherine, her rage flaming from her eyes.
Chided, Henry turned to Queen Isabeau, “Your Majesty, you permit your daughter to speak to me like this?”
“Catherine speaks her mind. In that, she is quite her mother’s daughter – and a Bavarian,” smirked Isabeau proudly. “That you slaughtered our people, we concede. That we wish to end this war, we fully declare. But do not think you can force the mind and heart of my daughter in any matter. Though you may, through the brutality that brings us here together, compel a measure of outward obedience, if it is affection of the mind or heart you desire, it would serve you best to put aside all savage warrior ways and behave yourself like a gentleman.
Henry blinked in shock. No woman had dared to speak to him so boldly – or venomously. Rather, he was accustomed to fearful pandering – not the confidence of a woman seeing herself as his equal, “I – I do not know what to say. I was not born a prince, though certainly I wear the crown more easily than my father. I,” Henry paused, his pride hurt even as his desire to possess Catherine grew. Marrying Catherine was his birth right; since the death of Princess Isabella, Catherine’s sister and widow to Richard II, all talk had been across his life of his marrying Catherine. Was it not his destiny to marry Catherine? Did she not see it the same way? As his thoughts grew more confused by Catherine’s obvious spite, the rhythm and confidence of his speech waivered, “I have wanted this alliance for many years. I cannot imagine myself with anyone else. Yet do I dream of love, of your love, Catherine. Will you not be my wife?”
“Not out of love, England, for you are my enemy. What am I to you but a trophy to your murders?” burned Catherine.
“If I swear on my soul to end this campaign this very day and never again kill, will you not agree to marry me?”
“If you never kill again – yes – but there are many things you must agree to in order to make this treaty one and whole,” bargained Catherine confidently.
“I SWEAR IT!”
“God will hold you to your vow, Henry of England,” warned Queen Isabeau. “If you acknowledge this and still so swear, then shall we both draw up the formal terms to be signed once they are ready.”
“God hold me to my vow and strike me down in death if ever my hand spills French blood again!” vowed Henry fiercely.
Content with Henry’s answer, Queen Isabeau supervised the drafting of the now agreed-to peace treaty. On May the twenty-first 1420 King Henry the Fifth and King Charles the Sixth met in the city of Troyes where they both formally agreed to and signed the treaty. As demanded by King Henry, King Charles gave Catherine to him in marriage in a grand wedding held a few days later on the second of June.
Across the summer and autumn of 1420, Henry and Catherine became better acquainted as they toured together across France over the next six months. Towards Catherine, Henry expressed the utmost admiration and, if not genuine love, certainly an intense romantic attraction to her.
For her part, Catherine found herself more than flattered at Henry’s attention. King Henry seemed so sincere in how he treated her. Certainly he was gentle when she yielded to him in wifely duty, despite his fiery temperament. Still in her heart, Catherine could never forget that this man who caressed her so softly in private was the same man who killed women and children for the crime of being born Welsh or French, his eyes both tender like a baby bird’s – or fierce like a raging storm – depending on his mood.
Christmas came. Henry wisely decided their first Christmas as husband and wife should be spent in Paris with her parents and siblings. As familiar songs filled her ears at the traditional midnight mass on Christmas Eve, Catherine knelt in silence, the music gone from her heart and reflected in her eyes. Though she tried for the sake of her people to make truly merry, Catherine found herself sad instead, as if something precious to her was lost, gone forever.
Finally, at the end of January, 1421 they at last arrived at Calais for the crossing to England.
Boudicca: Britian’s Queen of the Iceni is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of one of the ancient world’s greatest heroines. In 61 CE Boudicca shocked Roman patriarchs by uniting most of the English Celts in what became the last great stand against Roman conquest of the British isles.
In this scene from chapter four, a prayerful Boudicca seeks wisdom from The Morrigan.
Two years of peace passed. For the time being, it seemed like the Roman governor was keeping his word. But with each passing week and month, Alys and Morgan grew more anxious as their dreams became filled with visions of the future.
Boudicca watched them, her heart aching for their pain. Finally, three days before mid-summer’s day, she and Linet drove her light chariot to a small shrine to the Morrígan in the thick ancient forest to the north of their village. All day and through most of the night, Boudicca and Linet sat in prayer and vigil, asking the goddess for guidance.
Finally, as dawn broke through the trees and birds woke from their sleep, Linet stood up and put her hand on Boudicca’s shoulder, “Your Highness, we must return.”
“We will not survive what is coming, my friend, though it seem victory will be in our grasp for a time. War is upon us; the Romans do not see the equality of women as our peoples do. This governor – Paullinus – does not even consider me queen of the Iceni – only my husband’s personal servant for his bedchamber. Should anything happen to him, they will come to claim what they feel belongs to them. The Iceni will become as my people are,” wept Boudicca.
“We do not have to let them take our people; we can fight. Already we are fighting them in the west. They would stamp out our faith – but we are not afraid. We fight them with all we have. The goddess is on our side, Your Highness, as is the morality of our cause: freedom and equality for all people! They think that those who lack certain kinds of strength are created and designed to be inferior. But we know better. We know we are all one – equals. Surely our goddesses and gods will fight for us in the great battle. Camulos, god of war, he shall be our champion!” proclaimed Linet with fire in her eyes.
“Camulos must hate the Romans for taking his city and claiming it as theirs. He must especially hate this temple to the dead emperor Claudius in his city. How can he fight for us while the temple still stands, while animals are killed and offered to this Claudius where once our people prayed to him?” asked Boudicca.
“All the more reason for him to support us and help us cleanse his city of Roman stench. We will re-dedicate it to him – when all of us are free.”
Just then a scream echoed in the forest. Drawing their swords, Linet and Boudicca charged towards the sound. By the time they reached the source all that could be seen was Prasutagus, his blood spilling into the ground – as if a year-king killed as an offering to the gods for his people. Prasutagus looked up, his eyes blurring, “Boudicca?”
Boudicca knelt, weeping, the blood from his chest wound soaking her dress, “I am here.”
“A Roman – scout – I – surprised him.” gasped Prasutagus, trying in vain to tell his wife what happened, knowing the moment he died rage would fill her – rage against Rome.
Boudicca kissed him tenderly, “My love, do not leave me!” Prasutagus kissed her repeatedly, his eyes fixed on hers until they saw no more. Feeling his spirit leave his body, Boudicca wept, as if her entire life suddenly passed with him – at least for this moment. Finally, she rose, helping Linet carry him to their chariot. With a gentle nudge of the reigns the horses turned for home and the sad work ahead.
Several days later, war trumpets heralded the arrival of a group of twenty soldiers and five centurions dispatched from the Roman capital of Camulodunum, the once great capital of the Iceni’s southern neighbor, the Trinovantes. This was a relatively small force for the Romans to send, a sign that the Roman governor expected little trouble enforcing Prasutagus’ will and claiming the Iceni for Rome. At the head of this group marched Centurion Marcus Vetus, the son of a legionary born among his mother’s Aedui tribe near the Seine River. As he approached the fortification guarding Boudicca’s village, Boudicca could not help staring at the man who looked far more Aedui than Roman. Resolutely Boudicca intercepted him, “Who comes to the heart of the Iceni?”
“I, Centurion Marcus Vetus come in the name of Nero and his imperial governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus. Your king is dead; your kingdom now belongs to us.”
“No, Centurion. It belongs in equal measure to my daughters and to Nero. Until our people deem them ready to rule, I rule as queen as is my natural right as Prasutagus’ widow and by the customs of all British people.”
“You are a woman; you have no rights under Roman law.”
“But I do under Iceni law,” countered Boudicca.
“There are no Iceni now, only slaves,” proclaimed Marcus, seizing Boudicca before she could draw her sword. With the help of another centurion, Marcus bound and gagged the struggling Boudicca and her daughters, forcing them to watch as the remaining soldiers spread across the village. Every Iceni, armed and ready for the attack within hours of Prasutagus’ death, challenged the soldiers resolutely, creating a great noise. With the Roman attention entirely on the battle, Linet slipped quietly out of the village in order to raise the alarm across Britannia.