Lewis Carroll’s “The Two Brothers”

THERE were two brothers at Twyford school,

And when they had left the place,

It was, “Will ye learn Greek and Latin?

Or will ye run me a race?

Or will ye go up to yonder bridge,

And there we will angle for dace?”

 

“I’m too stupid for Greek and for Latin,

I’m too lazy by half for a race,

So I’ll even go up to yonder bridge,

And there we will angle for dace.”

 

He has fitted together two joints of his rod,

And to them he has added another,

And then a great hook he took from his book,

And ran it right into his brother.

 

Oh much is the noise that is made among boys

When playfully pelting a pig,

But a far greater pother was made by his brother

When flung from the top of the brigg.

 

The fish hurried up by the dozens,

All ready and eager to bite,

For the lad that he flung was so tender and young,

It quite gave them an appetite.

 

Said he, “Thus shall he wallop about

And the fish take him quite at their ease,

For me to annoy it was ever his joy,

Now I’ll teach him the meaning of ‘Tees’!”

 

The wind to his ear brought a voice,

“My brother, you didn’t had ought ter!

And what have I done that you think it such fun

To indulge in the pleasure of slaughter?

 

“A good nibble or bite is my chiefest delight,

When I’m merely expected to see,

But a bite from a fish is not quite what I wish,

When I get it performed upon me;

And just now here’s a swarm of dace at my arm,

And a perch has got hold of my knee.

 

“For water my thirst was not great at the first,

And of fish I have quite sufficien-“

“Oh fear not!” he cried, “for whatever betide,

We are both in the selfsame condition!

 

“I am sure that our state’s very nearly alike

(Not considering the question of slaughter),

For I have my perch on the top of the bridge,

And you have your perch in the water.

 

“I stick to my perch and your perch sticks to you,

We are really extremely alike;

I’ve a turn-pike up here, and I very much fear

You may soon have a turn with a pike.”

 

“Oh, grant but one wish! If I’m took by a fish

(For your bait is your brother, good man!)

Pull him up if you like, but I hope you will strike

As gently as ever you can.”

 

“If the fish be a trout, I’m afraid there’s no doubt

I must strike him like lightning that’s greased;

If the fish be a pike, I’ll engage not, to strike,

Till I’ve waited ten minutes at least.”

 

“But in those ten minutes to desolate Fate

Your brother a victim may fall!”

“I’ll reduce it to five, so perhaps you’ll survive,

But the chance is exceedingly small.”

 

“Oh hard is your heart for to act such a part;

Is it iron, or granite, or steel?”

“Why, I really can’t say- it is many a day

Since my heart was accustomed to feel.

 

“’Twas my heart-cherished wish for to slay many fish

Each day did my malice grow worse,

For my heart didn’t soften with doing it so often

But rather, I should say, the reverse.”

 

“Oh would I were back at Twyford school,

Learning lessons in fear of the birch!”

“Nay, brother!” he cried, “for whatever betide,

You are better off here with your perch!

 

“I am sure you’ll allow you are happier now,

With nothing to do but to play;

And this single line here, it is perfectly clear,

Is much better than thirty a day!

 

“And as to the rod hanging over your head,

And apparently ready to fall,

That, you know, was the case, when you lived in that place,

So it need not be reckoned at all.

 

“Do you see that old trout with a turn-up-nose snout?

(Just to speak on a pleasanter theme),

Observe, my dear brother, our love for each other

He’s the one I like best in the stream.

 

“To-morrow I mean to invite him to dine

(We shall all of us think it a treat);

If the day should be fine, I’ll just drop him a line,

And we’ll settle what time we’re to meet.

 

“He hasn’t been into society yet,

And his manners are not of the best,

So I think it quite fair that it should be my care,

To see that he’s properly dressed.”

 

Many words brought the wind of “cruel” and “kind”,

And that “man suffers more than the brute”:

Each several word with patience he heard,

And answered with wisdom to boot.

 

“What? prettier swimming in the stream,

Than lying all snugly and flat?

Do but look at that dish filled with glittering fish,

Has Nature a picture like that?

 

“What? a higher delight to be drawn from the sight

Of fish full of life and of glee?

What a noodle you are! ‘tis delight fuller far

To kill them than let them go free!

 

“I know there are people who prate by the hour

Of the beauty of earth, sky, and ocean;

Of the birds as they fly, of the fish darting by,

Rejoicing in Life and in Motion.

 

“As to any delight to be got from the sight,

It is all very well for a flat,

But I think it all gammon, for hooking a salmon

Is better than twenty of that!

 

“They say that a man of a right-thinking mind

Will love the dumb creatures he sees

What’s the use of his mind, if he’s never inclined

To pull a fish out of the Tees?

 

“Take my friends and my home- as an outcast I’ll roam:

Take the money I have in the Bank;

It is just what I wish, but deprive me of fish,

And my life would indeed be a blank!”

 

Forth from the house his sister came,

Her brothers for to see,

But when she saw that sight of awe,

The tear stood in her e’e.

 

“Oh what bait’s that upon your hook,

My brother, tell to me?”

“It is but the fantailed pigeon,

He would not sing for me.”

 

“Whoe’er would expect a pigeon to sing,

A simpleton he must be!

But a pigeon-cote is a different thing

To the coat that there I see!”

 

“Oh what bait’s that upon your hook,

Dear brother, tell to me?”

“It is my younger brother,” he cried,

“Oh woe and dole is me!

 

“I’s mighty wicked, that I is!

Or how could such things be?

Farewell, farewell, sweet sister,

I’m going o’er the sea.”

 

“And when will you come back again,

My brother, tell to me?”

“When chub is good for human food,

And that will never be!”

 

She turned herself right round about,

And her heart brake into three,

Said, “One of the two will be wet through and through,

And t’other’ll be late for his tea!”

 

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Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wicked Prince”

THERE lived once upon a time a wicked prince whose heart and mind were set upon conquering all the countries of the world, and on frightening the people; he devastated their countries with fire and sword, and his soldiers trod down the crops in the fields and destroyed the peasants’ huts by fire, so that the flames licked the green leaves off the branches, and the fruit hung dried up on the singed black trees. Many a poor mother fled, her naked baby in her arms, behind the still smoking walls of her cottage; but also there the soldiers followed her, and when they found her, she served as new nourishment to their diabolical enjoyments; demons could not possibly have done worse things than these soldiers! The prince was of opinion that all this was right, and that it was only the natural course which things ought to take. His power increased day by day, his name was feared by all, and fortune favoured his deeds.

He brought enormous wealth home from the conquered towns, and gradually accumulated in his residence riches which could nowhere be equalled. He erected magnificent palaces, churches, and halls, and all who saw these splendid buildings and great treasures exclaimed admiringly: “What a mighty prince!” But they did not know what endless misery he had brought upon other countries, nor did they hear the sighs and lamentations which rose up from the débris of the destroyed cities.

The prince often looked with delight upon his gold and his magnificent edifices, and thought, like the crowd: “What a mighty prince! But I must have more—much more. No power on earth must equal mine, far less exceed it.”

He made war with all his neighbours, and defeated them. The conquered kings were chained up with golden fetters to his chariot when he drove through the streets of his city. These kings had to kneel at his and his courtiers’ feet when they sat at table, and live on the morsels which they left. At last the prince had his own statue erected on the public places and fixed on the royal palaces; nay, he even wished it to be placed in the churches, on the altars, but in this the priests opposed him, saying: “Prince, you are mighty indeed, but God’s power is much greater than yours; we dare not obey your orders.”

“Well,” said the prince. “Then I will conquer God too.” And in his haughtiness and foolish presumption he ordered a magnificent ship to be constructed, with which he could sail through the air; it was gorgeously fitted out and of many colours; like the tail of a peacock, it was covered with thousands of eyes, but each eye was the barrel of a gun. The prince sat in the centre of the ship, and had only to touch a spring in order to make thousands of bullets fly out in all directions, while the guns were at once loaded again. Hundreds of eagles were attached to this ship, and it rose with the swiftness of an arrow up towards the sun. The earth was soon left far below, and looked, with its mountains and woods, like a cornfield where the plough had made furrows which separated green meadows; soon it looked only like a map with indistinct lines upon it; and at last it entirely disappeared in mist and clouds. Higher and higher rose the eagles up into the air; then God sent one of his numberless angels against the ship. The wicked prince showered thousands of bullets upon him, but they rebounded from his shining wings and fell down like ordinary hailstones. One drop of blood, one single drop, came out of the white feathers of the angel’s wings and fell upon the ship in which the prince sat, burnt into it, and weighed upon it like thousands of hundredweights, dragging it rapidly down to the earth again; the strong wings of the eagles gave way, the wind roared round the prince’s head, and the clouds around—were they formed by the smoke rising up from the burnt cities?—took strange shapes, like crabs many, many miles long, which stretched their claws out after him, and rose up like enormous rocks, from which rolling masses dashed down, and became fire-spitting dragons.

The prince was lying half-dead in his ship, when it sank at last with a terrible shock into the branches of a large tree in the wood.

“I will conquer God!” said the prince. “I have sworn it: my will must be done!”

And he spent seven years in the construction of wonderful ships to sail through the air, and had darts cast from the hardest steel to break the walls of heaven with. He gathered warriors from all countries, so many that when they were placed side by side they covered the space of several miles. They entered the ships and the prince was approaching his own, when God sent a swarm of gnats—one swarm of little gnats. They buzzed round the prince and stung his face and hands; angrily he drew his sword and brandished it, but he only touched the air and did not hit the gnats. Then he ordered his servants to bring costly coverings and wrap him in them, that the gnats might no longer be able to reach him. The servants carried out his orders, but one single gnat had placed itself inside one of the coverings, crept into the prince’s ear and stung him. The place burnt like fire, and the poison entered into his blood. Mad with pain, he tore off the coverings and his clothes too, flinging them far away, and danced about before the eyes of his ferocious soldiers, who now mocked at him, the mad prince, who wished to make war with God, and was overcome by a single little gnat.

 

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Here is chapter 4 of that sci-fi novel I haven’t named yet!

Sorry this is a little late! It’s been a while since I’ve given you guys one of these (about two months I think), so here is chapter 4 FINALLY. Click the following links for the prologuechapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3!

 

Disclaimer: these chapters have not yet been professionally edited so there will most definitely be mistakes that I didn’t catch. Also this series contains violence, moderately strong language, and a touch of gore. Reader discretion is advised.

Chapter 4

Would-Be Killer

 

After five days of order intensive soldier training—curtesy of Lucas Cain—Kira and Artemis were nearly ready to infiltrate the N.E.S. Bengal. They had both been taught how to salute properly, how to reply to a superior officer, as well as how to address people who ranked lower than them. They’d been through Obstacle courses designed by Cain to simulate military training and it was no surprise to anyone that they both passed the physical assessments with flying colors. It was true that Artemis was more physically inclined than she was, but she was still much more skilled at combat than most people her age. Regardless, she was expecting to be underestimated, thus she’d worked twice as hard as Artemis to see to it that she was at least on par with him.

Thanks to Artemis’s vast knowledge of multiple martial arts, he was able to flip and spin his way through Cain’s difficult laser trials, while Kira had to run and dodge to keep herself from getting burned by the beams. There were a few times that she’d been tempted to just shoot the laser projectors and be done with them; however, she refrained knowing that sort of exercise was good practice for beating more complex security systems that were ‘un-hackable’—although she had yet to meet a system that she couldn’t hack into.

Kira liked Cain. Yes, he was strict and at times difficult to get along with because of his severe personality, but he was very good at getting she and Artemis to give it their all in every task he had them do. It was hard work, but Kira felt as if she had learned a lot about how to be a convincing Tora Corp solider—she only hoped the Tora Corp staff would feel the same.

Another day of training had finally concluded and Kira and Artemis sat in the middle of the bunker’s vacant training grounds—a large empty section of the base that Cain had used to project his laser obstacle courses. Cain had since ended the projections and was in the midst of packing up his state of the art lightdrives and other modern tech which Kira envied. With a simple flick and swipe of his fingers, Cain opened up a translucent light screen in front of him, typing in a few things.

“I thought only data chips could support lightbeam interfaces,” Kira said as she watched him.

Cain paused in his type to point to the onyx band on his finger. “You’re not the only one with tech accessories, Ms. Chevalier. Unfortunately we at the Timber Organization must occasionally turn to empire technology to keep us ‘in the game’ as it were, but we make their tech our own. We try to keep up with our own ingenuity, but empire tech is advancing too quickly, even for our genius engineers and technicians. It’s strange really—the leaps the empire has taken with technology is almost supernatural…”

“What? You think ghosts and vampires are helping them out or something?” Artemis asked with a snort of a laugh.

Cain raised a brow at Artemis. “I don’t know what a vampire is, but no, I don’t think it has anything to do with people’s residual energy. The term ‘ghost’ is so archaic I couldn’t even remember what it was you were talking about for a moment,” he said before returning his attention to his light screen. “In any case, the sixth dimension plane has been barred off to the living for almost four centuries now, therefore, I don’t believe ‘ghosts’, as you call them, are the culprits here. Tora Corporation tech is advancing almost as quickly as empire tech—I want you two to find out why.”

Kira and Artemis discreetly glanced to one another, both looking reluctant to the idea. “With all due respect, Mr. Cain, Artemis and I are only going to the Bengal to steal a sample of Tora Corp’s new MCTA prototype. We’re thieves, not spies,” Kira said.

Artemis nodded, Hopping to his feet and stretching his arms out high above his head. “She’s right. We just wanna get in and get out.”

Cain frowned and swiped his light screen away, closing it out. “I thought there might be a bit of resistance from the two of you. So, I’m prepared to make you a deal. If you find out how Tora Corp’s technology is advancing so rapidly, the Timber Organization will donate all new tech to this bunker. You and I both know Noire is in desperate need of new equipment and so are you. Deliver to me the information that I require and the tech is yours—no strings attached.”

Artemis smirked, crossing his arms over his chest. “You’re gonna update this whole bunker just for some info? Man, you wolves must really be hard up.”

“It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to infiltrate a high-security facility,” Cain said, clasping his hands behind his back. “Even with the tech and means, most of our operatives have been reluctant to agree to precarious mission such as the one you are undertaking.”

Kira scoffed and shut her eyes, slowly shaking her head. “So, basically, you’re trying to capitalize on our stupidity?”

“Those aren’t exactly the words I’d choose, but, in a sense, yes,” Cain replied.

“Well, at least he’s upfront about it,” Artemis said with a shrug.

“If Mr. Noire believes you can successfully achieve what you intend to do, I have absolutely no reason to doubt you,” Cain said, cracking the smallest of smiles. “He’s a tough critic.”

Yeah he is,” Artemis muttered sourly.

Cain picked up his stainless steel briefcase, typing in a code on the touchscreen lock. “Well, Mr. Flynn, Ms. Chevalier, I believe we’re done for today. I’ll see myself out.”

Kira got to her feet and shook Cain’s hand. “Thank you for all your help, Mr. Cain. Artemis and I really appreciate it.”

Cain nodded. “Anything for protégés of the Panther. I’ll see the two of you bright and early tomorrow morning.”

“Can ‘early’ be like ten-thirty?” Artemis asked, smiling hopefully.

“Nice try, Mr. Flynn. I’ll see you at six,” Cain said as he strode out of the white warehouse-looking room, leaving Artemis and Kira to stand there alone.

Kira took a deep breath. “Two days.”

Artemis nodded. “Two days.”

“I’m almost finished with your holowatch,” Kira said, waving to him and strolling to the exit. “I’ll drop it off at your room tonight after I’m done with it.”

Artemis was silent for a moment before jogging after her. “Hey wait.”

She stopped and turned around to face him. “Yeah?”

“You’re not freaking out are you?”

She shrugged. No she wasn’t freaking out, but she wasn’t confident about this plan either. But now wasn’t the time for those sorts of admissions. She offered him a weak smile. “Of course not. I’m fine.”

“Good. Me too,” he said, patting her arm. “We’ve got this in the bag, K.” He then brushed past her, whistling one of his favorite rock and roll tune as he too left the training arena.

Artemis ran a hand through her hair, grasping him for a moment before letting her hand fall back down to her side. I hope things go as smoothly as he thinks they’re going to go…

 

Kira finished Artemis’s holowatch that evening and brought it to him. It took quite a while, but she was eventually able to teach him how to use his new gadget. “Are you sure you’ve got the hang of it?” she asked, watching him tap random options on his holoscreen. “If you need me to go over it again—”

“I got it, I got it! Chill out, will you?” Artemis said as he swiped his finger down and lowered the holoprojection. “So you loaded up those files that Noire put together for our cover IDs?”

“Yes,” Kira said, handing him their modified ear coms. “I also modified our coms so to include Noire’s language translating microbugs. As long as we have our coms in our ears we’ll be able to understand what people speaking other languages are say, as well as communicate in the appropriate languages.”

“Awesome. But aren’t they gonna check for outside tech?” Artemis asked.

“Yes, but Noire coded our files to include medical history. We have a few ‘AI implants’, so they shouldn’t question our coms or holowatches,” Kira replied, taking a seat beside Artemis on his bed and sticking her com in her ear. “I’ve programed our holowatches to communicate with our coms so anything we hear, the micro drives in our watches will record.”

“How about what we see?”

“No go. We’re out of eye-lens recorders.”

“You think they’ve got some up on Bengal?”

Kira pulled her legs up onto the bed and crossed them beneath her. “You never know. Maybe they’ve got something better than eye-lens recorders up there.”

Artemis set his elbow on his leg and leaned his cheek against his fist. “Looks like you’ve got it all figured out then. Noire told me that our bot tailor’s finished with our uniforms. It took nearly ten minutes to finish them—that thing’s getting old…”

Kira hung her head, her shoulders falling forward. “We had a newer one.”

“I know,” he grumbled. “Do you … wanna talk about him or something?”

“Not really.”

“Are you sure?”

Artemis groaned and threw her hands up in the air. “Elliot’s gone and he stole all of our best equipment! What more is there to say, Artemis?”

He pursed his lips nodding slowly. “So… Were you and him ever—”

No.”

“You two just seemed so—”

“We weren’t.”

“Really? Cause it kinda felt like—”

“We were friends, Artemis,” Kira snapped. “That was bad enough, alright? I should have seen it in him—that darkness.”

“It’s not your fault, and no one blames you for what he did,” Artemis said, his tone gentler than it usually was. “It’s been three years, Kira—you should be able to talk about this by now. He screwed us all over, not just you.”

“He was a part of the only family I’ve ever known. I can’t just forget that.”

“You don’t have to forget it, you just have to remember that me and Noire are your family too,” Artemis said, staring at her intently. “Elliot’s a dick, alright? Can’t you just, I dunno, try to move on?”

She could feel the anger bubbling within in her chest as the memories of her former comrade and friend flooded back to her. Artemis was right. It had been three years—she should have gotten over it by now. But the fury she felt each time Elliot’s name was brought up never went away.

Her hands tightened into fists, her nails biting into the palms of her hands. “Noire and I knew him for twelve years and you knew him ten—I just don’t get how someone could betray people who they’ve known for so long,” Kira whispered.

Artemis cautiously placed his hand on her back. “We don’t need him, Kira. We’re gonna get that MCTA and find out how Tora’s coming up with their tech and then this place is getting a major overhaul. And, you know what?”

“What?”

“Elliot broke rule number one of the code,” Artemis said. He straightened up and cleared his throat before reciting in Noire’s accent, “Only steal from those who can live without it. Is someone who can’t even follow that simple rule worth mourning over? It’s like Noire says: holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die—or some crap like that. It’s just not worth it to be mad at him anymore. He’s gone, he’s never coming back, and we’re probably never gonna have to see his stupid, smug face again. So, screw Elliot! We’ve got more important shit to deal with.”

Kira breathed in deeply and lifted her head again. “Yeah, you’re right. It just—it makes me so angry every time I think about what he did. I don’t know how to let that go. I want to, but I can’t. I dream about kicking his ass at least once a week and it’s so … satisfying. But that satisfaction is gone as soon as I wake up and realize that I didn’t really hurt him and he got away scot-free. And I can’t stand that he’s out there with our tech, probably living the high life in some fancy loft, while we—the terrible two—”

“Damn, that name sucks so hard…”

“—are stuck in an endless cycle of attempted robberies, getting caught by Figment, and jail time—lather, rinse, repeat,” Kira said through gritted teeth. “I swear if I ever see him again, I’ll—”

“You’ll what, Kira? Kill him?” Artemis asked. “What is it with your ‘gun go boom, solve all problems’ attitude? Killing him is not gonna get our stuff back.”

“Uh, yes it will, Artemis,” she said. “After he’s gone we can just steal it all back. He’ll be dead, it’s not like he’s going care.”

“Killing him is not gonna make you feel any better.”

“I beg to differ.”

Artemis fell back on the bed staring up at the poster laden canvas ceiling above. “We’re not gonna need the shitty tech he stole from us once we get that info that Cain wants. Just let it go—let him go. You think he’s sitting around in his fancy loft thinking about us? Hell no! So why should we waste our time thinking about him?”

Kira glanced back at him. “Why did you even bring this subject up?”

“Because I don’t want it to be an issue on this job. I need you to focus on that MCTA.”

Kira clenched her jaw. “Elliot is going to be the last thing on my mind when I’m up there.”

“Good. That’s all I needed to hear.”

Kira, tiring of the conversation, stood up from the bed and went to the door. “I’m going to sleep, you should too. Don’t stay up all night listening to that noise you call music.”

“It’s called ‘classic rock’,” Artemis said rather haughtily. “Jeez, download a music history book, will you? Get cultured.”

She refrained from rolling her eyes as the door slid open for her. “Night, Artemis.

“See ya on the flip side, K.”

Kira strolled down an aisle of whirring and beeping machines as she made her way back to her room. She had lied when she told Artemis that Elliot would be the last thing on her mind. Elliot was going to be the very first thing on her mind. She was going to keep him in the forefront of her thoughts to motivate her. She was going to prove to him that they didn’t need him and that they were doing just fine without him.

She suddenly paused, hearing voices from just up ahead. Is that Noire and Cain? I thought Cain left for the day, she thought, slowing her gait and tiptoeing forward so as not to alert them of her presence. She peered around the side of a machine that controlled the bunker’s emergency laser barriers and saw Noire and Cain standing in a small nook-like space with a few chairs and a small table.

“How long until you’ve got the memento viewer up and running?” Noire asked.

“Six months at the very least,” Cain replied pouring an amber-colored liquid from the automatic kettle and into a glass cup.

She thought she recalled Noire refereeing to the drink as ‘tea’, but she had never had any. Tea was scarce along with any other food item that wasn’t processed into tablets, which is why Noire saved most of his rare things for special occasions.

“Why so long?” Noire asked, taking a seat in one of the chairs.

“Light spheres are hard to come by,” Cain said before taking a sip out of his cup. “The empire regulates them quite strictly, as I’m sure you know. Most of my black market connections refuse to sell them, and the ones who will sell them rarely have them in stock. I’m having my best engineers build a substitute; however, until we have a suitable replacement, the memento viewer will remain inoperable.”

A memento viewer? Kira thought. Why would the Timber Organization need one of those? That’s really old tech.

“Have you considered giving the memento back to her?” Noire asked. “Perhaps there’s a way to return it to her mind.”

“If there was, I would have done it already,” Cain said, sighing softly. “The technology is temperamental. When the empire tested their memento replacement process, all of their subjects died. I would never risk that with Kira.”

Kira’s eyes widen. They were talking about her? If that was true then it would certainly explain why she couldn’t remember anything before the age of five. Had they wiped her memory, and, if they had, what for?

After Noire said nothing in response, Cain went on. “Perhaps we needn’t worry ourselves over this as much now that Braith is dead. Demetrius is proving himself to be a fair and just emperor. Besides, there’s no certainty that the information the memento holds pertains to anyone other than a dead man anyway.”

Noire’s expression hardened. “Don’t you start with that nonsense too, Lucas. The empire—in any form—is more harmful to our society than helpful. Demetrius may be a ‘kind and just’ ruler, as you say, but he is still oppressing his people. Perhaps he doesn’t oppress as overtly as his father, but he has yet to repeal the law that states that all citizens of the Northwest Empire must be chipped by the age of five—that’s not freedom. Things haven’t changed.”

“The boy has only been emperor for two years,” Cain reasoned. “He can’t fix everything his father ruined in such a short period of time.”

Noire scowled, tapping his fingers impatiently on the arm of his chair. “You’re going soft, Cain. Demetrius is a poison to our world, just like his father—perhaps a better tasting poison, but a poison nonetheless.”

Cain finished his tea and set the cup down on the glass table beside Noire’s chair. “Since you feel so strongly about it, Adair, I’ll have my organization continue to search for a way to repair the memento.”

“A wise decision,” Noire said. “It’s not my place to tell you how to run your organization, but I truly believe it’s unwise not to find out what’s on Kira’s memento. The Empire attempted to hunt her down for the information she possessed—it must be important.”

“I suppose we’ll find out soon enough,” Cain said as he picked up his briefcase. “Tomorrow I’ll continue with Kira and Artemis’s training.”

“Do you think they’re ready?”

Cain paused, looking back over his shoulder at Noire. “As ready as they can be given the time constraint. Once they’re on the Bengal, they’re going to be on their own. Keep communication with them to a minimum—the less you speak with them, the lower their chances are of getting caught.”

Noire furrowed his brow, nodding slowly. “I understand.”

Cain straightened out his neatly pressed suit jacket and strolled away. “As long as they keep their heads down, they’ll be just fine. Despite what you may think, you’ve taught them well, Mr. Noire.”

Noire said nothing more as Cain got further and further way, his footsteps fading and the sound of the entrance hatch opening and closing behind him.

Kira pressed herself to the box-like machine she was listening from and tilted her head back to the domed bunker ceiling far above. The empire was chasing after her when she was a child? What information could she—a kid at the time—have possibly possessed that was so important to them? It didn’t make any sense. But she did know one thing for certain: she had to find out what was on that extracted memento. Not for the empire’s sake, but for her own sake. That was a stolen piece of her life and she wanted it back.

Noire had kept something vital from her for sixteen years and she was going to find out what it was even if he didn’t want her too. She had gone along with what he said for long enough—it was time to find out about her past, and her family, and who she really was. It was time she got the answers she deserved. Well, look at the bright side, she thought, despite the sinking feeling at the pit of her stomach. At least I’m not thinking about killing Elliot anymore.

For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Writer’s Corner: Illustration Breakdown – NICHOLAS

Hello everyone and happy Saturday! Since you guys seemed to like Scarlet’s illustration breakdown, I decided to post Nicholas’s! Again, these artworks are by the super talented Enrica Angiolini, my illustrator for The Prince of Prophecy series.

Creating characters is quite a process, not only for authors, but for artists too. Sometimes this task can be daunting, but luckily for me Enrica is a professional in every regard and we were able to create some really gorgeous looking characters. With the face models and written descriptions I provided, Enrica was able to bring Nicholas (as well as all of my other characters) to life.

The following is a visual sample of Nicholas’s illustration process for the cover of The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed from start to finish. *you can click on any of the images to make them larger*

 

First, Enrica sketches the characters for me to make sure they look how I’d like them to look. These were Nicholas’s first sketches:

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Now it’s time for the shading! During this stage I can get a good idea of what the character is going to look like when it’s finished:

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Once the shading is all finished and I approve the design, Enrica colors the portrait and adds details:

Nicholas (2) Nicholas (1)

After all final adjustments are made, it’s time to see the completed portrait:

Nicholas

And voila! Isn’t he such a handsome villain?

If you’d like to learn more about Nicholas (and see more of his illustrations), purchase copies of The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined  and The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed. Both books have excellent ratings on Amazon and B&N.com, and they’re great reads for anyone who likes fantasy, adventure, and fairy tales!

For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “Old Rinkrank”

There was once on a time a King who had a daughter, and he caused a glass mountain to be made, and said that whosoever could cross to the other side of it without falling should have his daughter to wife. Then there was one who loved the King’s daughter, and he asked the King if he might have her. “Yes,” said the King; “if you can cross the mountain without falling, you shall have her.” And the princess said she would go over it with him, and would hold him if he were about to fall. So they set out together to go over it, and when they were half way up the princess slipped and fell, and the glass-mountain opened and shut her up inside it, and her betrothed could not see where she had gone, for the mountain closed immediately. Then he wept and lamented much, and the King was miserable too, and had the mountain broken open where she had been lost, and though the would be able to get her out again, but they could not find the place into which she had fallen. Meanwhile the King’s daughter had fallen quite deep down into the earth into a great cave. An old fellow with a very long gray beard came to meet her, and told her that if she would be his servant and do everything he bade her, she might live, if not he would kill her. So she did all he bade her. In the mornings he took his ladder out of his pocket, and set it up against the mountain and climbed to the top by its help, and then he drew up the ladder after him. The princess had to cook his dinner, make his bed, and do all his work, and when he came home again he always brought with him a heap of gold and silver. When she had lived with him for many years, and had grown quite old, he called her Mother Mansrot, and she had to call him Old Rinkrank. Then once when he was out, and she had made his bed and washed his dishes, she shut the doors and windows all fast, and there was one little window through which the light shone in, and this she left open. When Old Rinkrank came home, he knocked at his door, and cried, “Mother Mansrot, open the door for me.” “No,” said she, “Old Rinkrank, I will not open the door for thee.” Then he said,

“Here stand I, poor Rinkrank, On my seventeen long shanks, On my weary, worn-out foot, Wash my dishes, Mother Mansrot.”

“I have washed thy dishes already,” said she. Then again he said,

“Here stand I, poor Rinkrank, On my seventeen long shanks, On my weary, worn-out foot, Make me my bed, Mother Mansrot.”

“I have made thy bed already,” said she. Then again he said,

“Here stand I, poor Rinkrank, On my seventeen long shanks, On my weary, worn-out foot, Open the door, Mother Mansrot.”

Then he ran all round his house, and saw that the little window was open, and thought, “I will look in and see what she can be about, and why she will not open the door for me.” He tried to peep in, but could not get his head through because of his long beard. So he first put his beard through the open window, but just as he had got it through, Mother Mansrot came by and pulled the window down with a cord which she had tied to it, and his beard was shut fast in it. Then he began to cry most piteously, for it hurt him very much, and to entreat her to release him again. But she said not until he gave her the ladder with which he ascended the mountain. Then, whether he would or not, he had to tell her where the ladder was. And she fastened a very long ribbon to the window, and then she set up the ladder, and ascended the mountain, and when she was at the top of it she opened the window. She went to her father, and told him all that had happened to her. The King rejoiced greatly, and her betrothed was still there, and they went and dug up the mountain, and found Old Rinkrank inside it with all his gold and silver. Then the King had Old Rinkrank put to death, and took all his gold and silver. The princess married her betrothed, and lived right happily in great magnificence and joy.

 

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Writer’s Corner: Feeding the Wolf

Nicholas Beast 5

It’s not unreasonable to say that modern day bag guys or “wolves” (as I will hence forth refer to them as for the rest of this article) are much more fearsome and dangerous than any of the ones written about in original fairy tales. Why? It is my belief that we, as a society, have groomed and fed our “wolves” by teaching our children that the world is a dangerous place that they shouldn’t explore alone. Granted, it’s far too late to give our children free reign now that the damage is already done, but it’s arguable that by teaching our children to fear and be wary of everything and everyone in the world we have made the “wolves” that much more clever and sinister. Wolves still need to eat after all, they’re not just going to take the lack of children wandering down lonely forest paths in stride. And they haven’t. Now the wolves, witches, and warlocks (the bad guys for all intents and purposes) seek us out since we no longer stumble upon them. What does this mean for our children? It means they should be afraid and so should we.

We’ve destroyed the Little Red Riding Hoods, the Hansel and Gretels, and the Goldilocks of the modern world by teaching our kids fear when we should be teaching them caution. If you threw a modern-day kid into one of these fairy tales, they wouldn’t fare well because they wouldn’t know what to do or how to defend themselves—even us adults would be a bit perplexed without the use of our smartphone GPSs. Why is this? Because in the real world, us adults seldom give kids them the chance to stand up for themselves and handle their own problems. Now when our kids get bullied at school, we, as parents, turn it into a full-blown court case. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was in school and got bullied by mean kids I learned to handle it by myself—my parents only stepped in when absolutely necessary. We’ve got to prepare our kids for the world, and we can do that by not constantly running to their aid every time a rude, little jerk at school calls them a mean name. No one wants to see their child unhappy, but if they can’t handle minor problems in third or fourth grade, how can we expect them to handle major problems in the future? Let go a little, parents. Easy up on the reigns! Give them the chance to show you that they can resolve things by themselves and they won’t disappoint you.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how do you expect my kid to stand up to someone who’s trying to abduct them? The answer is simple: we start teaching kids how to be clever and smart. Instead of letting them watch mind-melting cartoons all day or play on their computers/ipads/smart phones right after school, hand them a book of Grimms Fairy Tales—heck, hand them any book. Then maybe when someone is bullying them they’ll remember the lessons learned in those stories they will be better equipped to avoid trouble and stand up for themselves. They’ll learn perseverance, honor, kindness, truthfulness, and all the wonderful things that those classic stories teach. So when that brutish little wolf pup, or witch-in-training starts pushing around your Little Red, Hansel, or Gretels they won’t be afraid to deal with their adversaries themselves.

Yes, some of the original fairy tales are violent and grim, but you’ve got to understand that reading those stories to your kids is not going to turn them into psychos—let’s give our kids a little more credit than that, people. By reading them these classic, unabridged stories you’ll be preparing your children for the real world—a world that’s not always sunny and happy. These stories have been told to children for centuries and the world has yet to be overrun by violent little Peter Pan wannabes. I think our kids will survive an unabridged, un-sugarcoated short story or two without going on a rampage.

Bottom line, the wolves of the modern-day world are stronger than ever before because we’re killing our heroes and heroines—or at least weakening them significantly. We’re feeding the beast by not reading our kids these classic stories. By over protecting our children we’re making them cowardly, naïve, and wholly unprepared for the world full of wolves outside our triple locked doors.

Stop feeding the wolf. Give the heroes power again. Read your Little Red a fairy tale.

 

This week’s artwork is by Niconoff! You can view more of his artwork by visiting his Deviantart Page! For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Happy Birthday, Hans Christian Andersen!

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For those of you who didn’t already know, Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday was on the 2nd of April. I’ve already done a fact post about HCA, so if you want to check that out CLICK HERE. People seemed to like what I did for Wilhelm Grimm’s birthday (I posted a scene from my book including him and Jacob), so I decided I would do the same thing for Andersen this year.

The following scene is from my second book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed, and it’s right after you first meet Hans. I’ve always really liked this scene and I wanted to share it with all of you literary aficionados. I hope you guys will enjoy it!

 

Excerpt from The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed

 

Destan spent the rest of the day talking with Hans and trying to make him feel more comfortable with his new surroundings. The prince had showed the Danish boy around the castle, the gardens, and had even taken him to the castle ruins. Hans seemed absolutely enchanted at everything the palace grounds had to offer. The exotic flowers, the hedge maze, the tennis courts—Hans’s eyes lit up a little more with each new discovery.

By the time they came to the end of their tour, night was fast approaching and the stars were just beginning to appear in the deep purple sky above.

“I believe you’ll find it quite difficult to be bored here,” Destan said as the two made their way back towards the palace. “Ah, but you’re probably more interested in your studies than the silly trivialities I’ve shown you.”

Hans frowned, looking down at his feet. “Well, to be completely honest, your highness, my studies don’t interest me as much as other things do.”

“Oh?” Destan asked. “What interests you, then?”

Hans looked around to make sure no one was listening in before saying, “Singing and acting!” His smile disappeared as his gaze met the ground once more. “I-I mean, I like acting and singing, but if I were to pursue either of those professions my mother would be very disappointed in me. Now that father’s gone, I must do something to support the two of us and mother does not approve of my interests. I just want to make her proud of me, even if that means I’ll be unhappy.”

“What happened to your father?” Destan asked gently.

Hans was reluctant to answer at first, but finally he obliged the prince with a quiet reply. “He got sick…”

The prince paused, frowning as he looked down at him. “I’m sorry to hear it, Herr Andersen.”

Hans only shrugged, saying no more.

“Though, you can’t truly mean what you said. You shouldn’t sacrifice your dreams in order to satisfy someone else,” Destan said. “You should follow your heart no matter the cost. Your mother may be upset that you did not do as she wished, but it’s your life to lead, not hers. Take advantage of the freedom at your disposal. Some people don’t have the privilege of choice as you do.”

Hans tilted his head. “I thought everyone had a choice.”

“No. Not everyone,” he murmured, giving Hans a half-hearted smile. “Pursue your dreams. You’ll come to regret it if you don’t. That I can promise you.”

There was a comfortable silence between them before Hans spoke up again. “Prince Destan?”

“Yes?”

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you about,” the little boy said, fidgeting a bit. “What happened at the Snow Queen’s Palace? I’ve heard several different versions of the story thus far, but they all seem to conflict. Your adventure is famous even in Denmark, you know!”

Destan sheepishly scratched the back of his head. “Really? I didn’t think anyone outside of Rosenstaat had heard about it.”

“Oh no! The people that you freed from the Snow Queen were from all over Europe! In fact, you happened to free a boy from my village and he told everyone in town of you and your friends’ bravery,” Hans explained with more enthusiasm than Destan had seen from him thus far. “But weren’t you frightened of her?”

Destan took pause to seriously consider this question. “Well, I wasn’t frightened of her. I was frightened that if I didn’t act I could lose all of my friends, not to mention myself. I didn’t have time to let my fear hinder me. Instead I harnessed it and used my fear as my motivation to succeed.” Is that what I did? he thought. I suppose I’d never analyzed it until now.

Hans stared at the prince with complete admiration. “That’s amazing! I don’t think I could ever be that courageous.”

“It wasn’t a matter of courage. It was a matter of desperation. I couldn’t lose my friends—I have too few of them as it is,” Destan admitted with a feeble laugh.

“Hm, desperation…” Hans said thoughtfully. “So did you really think that you and your friends could defeat the Snow Queen?”

“Yes, I did,” the prince said, nodding firmly. “I had so much more to lose than Queen Isole did. I had to win. We all had to win. There was no other option.”

“I see,” Hans said. “And the girl whose hand you were holding when you left the Snow Queen’s palace?”

Destan felt his cheeks heat up at the mention. “Y-you heard about that?”

“Oh, yes! I’ve even developed a theory,” Hans said proudly. “Once I heard the initial story, I built from there. First, the Snow Queen enticed you to stay with her by making a deal with you—”

“I wouldn’t say she ‘enticed’ me, per se—”

“And then she took your memories and kept you as her slave at her palace!”

“I prefer ‘servant’,” Destan interjected once more, his frown becoming even more prominent as Hans continued on with his version of the story.

“Then the girl went to save you—”

“My other friends were there too, you know.”

“—But when she got there and saw that you were just a shell of your former self, she wept, and the tears of her love and devotion for you melted your icy heart. Then you awoke, proving that true love conquers all!” Hans cried, shooting his fist into the air and grinning triumphantly. “That’s what I wrote about anyway,” he said, bashfully lowering his hand.

“You wrote a story about me?” Destan asked.

“Well, um … yes,” Hans murmured. “It’s silly really. Don’t worry, I don’t intend on showing it to anyone.”

The prince released a relieved laugh. “You did make me seem a bit helpless. But at the very least, I’m glad you didn’t turn me into a girl.”

Hans made a face. “Why would I do that, your highness?”

Destan grimaced and shook his head. “The only two authors I’ve ever known used to make a habit out of doing so, but never you mind that.” He cleared his throat and straightened up. “Anyway, supper will be ready soon, so we should return to the palace.”

The two then headed back to the castle, speaking no more of either version of what happened at the Snow Queen’s palace, much to the prince’s relief.

Why is it that I’m always made out to be the damsel in distress? Destan thought as they silently made their way up the garden path. For once, I’d like to be the hero.

 

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Rudyard Kipling’s “The Law of the Jungle”

*****

Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.


The Jackal may follow the Tiger,
but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter —
go forth and get food of thine own.


Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle —
the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent,
and mock not the Boar in his lair.


When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle,
and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken —
it may be fair words shall prevail.


When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack,
ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel,
and the Pack be diminished by war.


The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter,
not even the Council may come.


The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message,
and so he shall change it again.


If ye kill before midnight, be silent,
and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop,
and your brothers go empty away.


Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates
,
and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!


If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker,
devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest;
so leave him the head and the hide.


The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack.
Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair,
or he dies.


The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf.
He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission,
the Pack may not eat of that Kill.


Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling.
From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten;
and none may refuse him the same.


Lair-Right is the right of the Mother.
From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter,
and none may deny her the same.


Cave-Right is the right of the Father —
to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack;
he is judged by the Council alone.


Because of his age and his cunning,
because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open,
the word of your Head Wolf is Law.


Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law
and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!

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