One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition with my own team. You can keep updated on our progress and all of our content on my SPFBO 5 page!
Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…
Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ and once she began, she has never looked back.
“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”
Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, one cat and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and is oddly fascinated by swords.
Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules‘, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness.
‘The Missing Shield‘ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest‘ series.
The Venzoian Soul Eater’s attack caught me across the back.
Like a deer pierced by a direct hit of a dart coated with the finest venom, it slowed my wits, then stopped me dead. My sword dropped from my numb fingers. The next moment would bring my End.
My knees hit the ground; bruising. I didn’t care. My world was a red-drenched puzzle that both fascinated and repulsed me: I was blind on my left side, it was not right and neither was the crimson outlook I ‘enjoyed’ but whenever this truth occurred to me, an influx of confusion made me falter, and then-
“Be Gone! Be gone Shadow Crawler! I banish you back to the Void from whence you slithered forth without permission! I banish you! Now be gone!” A brilliant flare of amber light burned hot and bright, even as the voice of an utterly loved and familiar person called out the hard command as though imbued with the power of magic.
My breath caught.
Though dismay rolled through me, I think I sobbed once in abject disbelief of the unexpected rescue.
The golden light shimmered like sparkles in the air and hit the black monster. In turn, the Venzoian Soul Eater screamed in anger, the proximity of the sound tearing into the insides of my head and bursting some of the smaller blood vessels in my ears, but the light licked forth like a segmented whip-chain, driving the monster backwards; forcing it away.
I wavered, fighting to stay the darkness that amassed at the periphery of my world. Growls and chanting of mystic words echoed all around, but I was in a haze; unable to comprehend. In my turbulent state of mind, I barely noticed as the voices of the trapped and the dead dwindled, silence replacing the previous cacophony in my mind. So…seemed today was not going to be the day the Soul Eater would claim and add my spirit to its pit of despair, but…. but mercy… how?
A crack exploded across the barren landscape and yet all I could focus on was the impossible idea of Iambre come to my aid. Here? Now?
The darkness invaded me further. I sank back on my heels, the curved heavy-tread soles digging into my buttocks but the discomfort was minor over the slicing agony that moved through me as I disturbed the deep razor cuts across my shoulders and the other, smaller yet malignant, injuries. Nausea rippled inside me as I clung on. Iambre could not be here. This was madness. A trick of my mind – any moment I’d open my eye and see how foolish and pathetic I’d become. Or maybe this trick was the Venzoian’s doing? Had it finally taken me after all?
I shivered and pitched forward. Battered. Exhausted. Iambre, my Princess, my duty, my friend, my cousin… she could not be here. I was supposed to protect her, not the other way around: I’d sworn oaths and signed my life away – I remembered this, yet here I was… broken like old crookery…
“Lancei? Solancei, can you hear me?” The soft voice was demanding, trembling. Someone clasped my shoulders. I almost ignored it but the clipped Etruian accent of a noble-born was the very one I knew so well.
“Bree?” I whispered, opening my eye to find my friend’s face only inches from mine, her tawny eyes mirroring all the fear and concern I’d spied in her voice.
“Bree!” I repeated, sudden worry lancing through me. I scrambled to extricate myself from her embrace. When had I ended up on the ground? I winced as my strength did not comply with my wishes and hated when my missing eye tried to see without turning my face, but Iambre appeared not to notice. Her presence soothed me and I sank my weight back into her shoulder though concerns that I would ruin her fine surcoat, momentarily fluttered like a teasing butterfly across my conscience.
“Listen to me, Lancei, and listen well,” Iambre hushed me in an urgent rush, firmly re-establishing her need not to be argued with, simply by the tone of her voice. “We do not have long, and I cannot stay, but do not let them win, do you hear?! Do not let them win! But… but do not let them take you from me either! Stay strong, Lancei! Stay strong!”
A key rattled somewhere. It was a sound that didn’t belong. It cut into my new-found bliss; parted the woolly haze, and brought wherewithal.
I didn’t want to let go of Iambre but I knew I did not have the luxury of choice. I was already alone. Just like the Soul Eater, she was just another figment of imagination…
I wanted to stay with Iambre, but I must ‘go back’. Go back to the cell in the madhouse the Knights Commander had locked me inside out of spite, and with the hope that the addictive poison they named ‘medicine’ would eventually wear me down enough to part with my secrets. It would not be long, I feared. The illusions were getting deeper, overlapping with real life; taking over. And my skills… My skills were gone and my health ruined!
I swallowed my hate and pain to know that the Knights Commander and his cronies had severed my ability to connect with The State of Veranto. Even did I survive this, I doubted I’d be able to re-establish my role as Iambre’s Shield. My hands shook when the virulent poison wore off – and whilst it still coursed through my body it was no better, sending me into this dream-scape of hag-ridden chimera and toxic fears…
The keys stopped their play. The heavy iron-bound door rasped open, the triple lock hardly necessary to keep me contained, but I suppose it showed diligence.
“Rise and shine, blade-twirl,” my keeper, Swentor, grated with an evil glint in his yellow-shot eyes. I hated him and his lank ponytail that sat upon his shoulder like some tame rat. Hated him. But not as much as-
Fighting past the aches and pains of my true injuries, I lurched from my rancid-smelling pallet and grasped for the dagger in his belt. The State of Veranto made me faster than a striking asp, except-
Except they’d stolen my ability with their filthy poison; they’d crippled me to win favour with the gods and now I was less than a shadow of what I had been, not even worthy of the title as Iambre’s Shield.
“Ah-Ah, grey eyes, not today. Your medicine is coming.” Swentor caught my arm and wrestled me down with too much ease as a new spike of withdrawal pain rained through my guts with damned, but impeccable timing. Not even owning the strength to curse his prick, I fell back, panting in anger and despair.
This was the third time I’d tried this trick, I suddenly remembered.
My head was addled. I’d try it a few more times too, but in the end, I’d give the Knights Commander exactly what he wanted, only fortunately he’d never get the information – because the Venzoian attack would see to that!
All his flecking men would die screaming. I’d die too. Almost. But The Vengeance of Magic had other plans. Of course.
I can smile now at the memory, but back then it was a while before I was able to recognise myself again. How everything might have been different, had I but known that in just a matter of days my wish would be granted and I’d be out of this cursed asylum for good!
Of course by then, my whole life would be forever changed – and not just for the obvious reasons either.
But everything comes with a price and I’d be out.
Out! And ready to fight the gods and the end of the world!
From the Memoirs of Solancei,
Duchess of Ivanor and Shield to Princess Iambre Actarione.
In the year 800, Post Declaration of Unity.
If you’d like to get in touch, you can find L. L. Thomsen on social media:
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L. L. Thomsen entered A Change of Rules, the first book of The Missing Shield series into SPFBO and got sorted into Lynn‘s group.
Please check out all the other tales on my Tales from the Asylum page!
Very tense! This remains my favourite feature in the SPFBO apart from the actual reviews. ^_^