adventure, Carol Nicolas, cover reveal, cozy mystery, fantasy, Irish mythology, magic, mystery, new book, new book cover, ocean, romance, Scottish mythology, sea, Selkie, Selkie King, Selkies, The Sea Child, Urban Fantasy, YA, YA fantasy
adventure, Carol Nicolas, cover reveal, cozy mystery, fantasy, Irish mythology, magic, mystery, new book, new book cover, ocean, romance, Scottish mythology, sea, Selkie, Selkie King, Selkies, The Sea Child, Urban Fantasy, YA, YA fantasy
adventure, bedtime story, cats, children's books, fairy tales, Felix the Cat, friendship, Jay BR Wokky, Old Bob, Once upon a Time, Princess Janine, The Book of Records, The True Adventures of Jay BR Wokky
Ch. 12.3 —
Janine looked up at Old Bob’s kind face. “I need a few things from the castle. Will you keep Freddie here until I come for him?”
“You can’t go back up there. It’s too dangerous.”
Janine shook her head. “No one will see me. I’ll take the servants’ staircases. Everyone is at the ball.”
“She’ll have ordered the guards and servants to capture you if they see you. And don’t forget Paul, who is hunting you.”
Janine bit her lip. How was she going to run away without supplies — clothing and food? And what about her books?
Old Bob opened a cupboard, took out a knapsack, and began to fill it with bread, cheese, apples, and a leather bag full of water. He slid out a drawer and then handed her a pair of trousers, a boy’s shirt, and a gray hat. “Step into the bedroom and change. Put your hair up under the hat.”
Janine took the clothing and went into the small bedroom. An enormous black and brown tabby cat sat on the bed. He began to purr.
“How interesting,” said the cat. “A princess. The youngest one, I’d say.”
Janine ignored the cat and began to peel out of her torn, dirty dress.
“Are you running away?”
The cat licked a paw. “You should go to the Tulgey Woods.”
“Will I be safe there?”
The cat laughed. “No one is safe in the Tulgey Woods. But you’ll be safer there than here.”
Janine groaned. “You’re probably right.”
“If you decide to go on o Wonderland, I have a cousin there who will help you. Ask for Chessy.”
Janine changed into the boy’s clothing and re-braided her hair, then tucked it under the hat. When she looked back at the cat, he had faded away. Only his smile remained.
Janine went back out to the main room of the cottage. Old Bob gave her an old buttoned coat and sturdy boots. He stuffed a toothbrush into the knapsack.
“Will you go with me?” Janine asked. Old Bob had always treated her with kindness. He had been her friend since the first time she had toddled into the stable yard.
“I cannot.” His eyes told her he wished he could. She didn’t ask why. He tucked a small glowing ball into the front pocket of the knapsack. “This will help you see the way. Just tell it what to do, and it will obey.” He studied her for a moment. “Is there anything specific you wanted from the castle?”
Janine bit her lip and shook her head. She thought sadly of the castle library, with its book-lined walls, old comfortable chairs, and thick, soft rugs that always seemed to be sprinkled with dog hair. The books within had been her friends. If there was a way to bring them all with her, she would. She would also miss the kennels, the stables, and the barns with their four-footed inhabitants. She would even miss her family, in spite of how horrid they’d been to her.
Old Bob studied her. “Before you go, you need to know what your name day gifts were.”
“The family record book is locked in a special drawer in the library, and only Father has the key.”
Old Bob smiled. “That won’t be a problem.” He snapped his fingers. “Felix.”
The tabby cat appeared on the big oak table. Curled with one leg stretched out, he seemed to be in the middle of his bath. He yawned widely. “You rang?”
“Get the book of records from the castle and bring it back here.”
The cat put his ears back and lashed his tail. “I seem to recall dogs with big teeth, guards with knives and swords at every corner, and an irate cook with a rolling pin.”
Old Bob looked sorrowful. “Too true. And the book is locked in the Royal Library. Scads of people are up there at the castle, all dancing and partying and carrying on. The kitchen’s frantic with preparing all that delicious food. No place for a cat who has lost his nerve.”
“Lost his –?” Felix hissed. “Ha.”
The cat vanished.
Old Bob winked.
Janine looked at Old Bob with interest. “I didn’t know you could talk to animals the same way I can.”
“It’s best to keep some of the stranger gifts to yourself, if you know what I mean.”
Felix reappeared with a large book in his mouth, which he spat out onto the table. “There. Nasty taste. Probably hasn’t been dusted in the last ten years.”
Old Bob scratched behind Felix’s ears. “You wonderful, smart, brave cat. How did I get so lucky to have your friendship?”
Felix sniffed. “Ha.”
“Thank you, Felix,” said Janine. The cat began to purr.
It’s November, and you know what that means. It’s NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month is the time when people abandon sane schedules, spouses, entertainment, sleep, and sometimes even food in favor of writing like crazy for an entire month. And the reward is… the satisfaction of having reached your goal of 50,000 words (and a cool t-shirt). The typical type A personality cannot understand why anyone would do something like this. You mean, they say, there’s no money prize at the end? No fame and fortune? No! Just a lot of zany people all over the country typing like mad. NaNoWriMo is a chance to immerse yourself completely in the book you’ve always dreamed of writing. Don’t stop and go back. Don’t stew over whether this or that word is exactly right. There will be time for that later. Hang a sign on your door that says ‘Back In December’ and just write, write, write. Above all, have fun!
If you are writing, Good Luck. Let me know how you are doing. We can even be writing buddies (look for cnicolas). I’ll be posting my word count. I can hardly wait to get started.
To sign up on the official site, go to this link: https://nanowrimo.org/
adventure, bedtime story, children's books, danger, fairy tales, Janine, Jay BR Wokky, magic, Old Bob, Once upon a Time, Paul, personality changes, royal family, spells, The True Adventures of Jay BR Wokky, to read aloud, Zelda, Zelda Mary
Ch. 12.2 Old Bob —
Someone hauled her to her feet. Janine looked up into the face of Old Bob.
Janine began to pound him with her fists. “I hate you. I hate you.” Tears ran from her eyes.
Old Bob grabbed her wrists. “Hold on there, Missy. You’re like a treed cat tonight. Stop screeching and scratching, and listen to me for just a minute.”
Janine kept struggling.
“I didn’t kill your dog.”
Janine stopped fighting and stared at him.
“Your little Freddie’s fine, but you’re in danger.”
Janine looked behind her. She gasped. The crashing was getting louder, coming closer and closer. Paul was almost there.
Old Bob put a finger to his lips and then drew her behind a tree. He made a gesture with his hand. They stood as still as posts as Paul ran by with his axe.
“He’s under a spell,” whispered Old Bob. “He can’t help what he’s doing. Come on, I’ll help you get away.”
“Freddie’s really alive?” She felt weak with relief.
“Yes. Now, be as quiet as you can.” Old Bob took her hand in his large, gnarled one and hurried her through the trees towards his home. When they got to the little cottage, they went inside. Old Bob bolted the sturdy wooden door and muttered a few words.
There by the fire on an old blanket, was Freddie. He looked up at Janine with a forlorn expression. “Zelda said you didn’t want me anymore. She said you ordered Paul to kill me.”
Janine rushed to him, fell to her knees, and hugged the little hound. “She lied. I would never hurt you, Freddie dear.”
The dog licked her face and began to wag his tail.
“Will Paul find us here?” Janine asked.
Old Bob shook his head. “I’ve placed runes of protection around my home. He won’t even see it.”
The fire snapped and crackled as it spread a warm, golden glow throughout the little room. Old Bob set out the teapot and two mugs. He poured her a cup and added a little honey and cream. Janine drank gratefully. She took the bread and bowl of vegetable stew he offered. Freddie gobbled down his bowl of food as if he hadn’t been fed for days.
Old Bob sat down across from her. “I overheard Zelda talking to Paul earlier. She said, “You’ll tell everyone she came here in search of her dog and got in the way of Old Bob’s axe. Such a tragedy. You’re heartbroken. Old Bob will be executed, of course.” And then Paul said, “Yes, your Highness.”
Old Bob shook his head. “What a shame. Such a good man, with a gift for training dogs. And your sister… she’s changed. Not too many years ago, she wouldn’t have harmed any living creature. Now she’s enchanting the dogs’ water and ordering your death. Your parents have become vain and proud. After Prince Derrick married Ariel, I thought things would settle down, but it’s only grown worse. The whole kingdom’s gone mad.”
Janine agreed. Zelda Mary had been a sweet, loving girl up until four years ago. They used to play together all the time. Zelda had defended Janine from the other’s children’s teasing. She had never seemed to mind her sister’s warty face. Then overnight, Zelda had changed.
Janine set her spoon down. Sadness filled her. “Why does she want me dead? I’m no threat to her.”
The food began to take effect, and Janine’s mind stopped whirling. “I’m going to have to run away, aren’t I?”
Ch. 5.2 Fritter Visits a Witch
Fritter was very worried about Jay. He went down into the Tulgey Woods that grew on this side of the mountains to visit a witch he knew, and there he heard what had happened at the prince’s name day celebration. Fritter was dismayed but not surprised. He wished the invitation had come on time.
The witch, Connie, told him all about the salve that Wizard Colin had invented, which healed the burns caused by dragon’s blood as well as just about anything else. She offered to sell a jar of salve to him.
“Everyone in the kingdom is buying it,” said Connie. “Old Cecil can’t keep it in stock. It’s being called Miracle Mix. Maybe you should try it on the old grump.”
Fritter opened the small jar and sniffed. The salve had a fresh minty scent. “Cecil? I thought Wizard Colin invented this salve.”
“He did, but the guards took his satchel, and Old Cecil ended up with its contents. Cecil persuaded Colin to give him the formula. Besides, Wizard Colin and the witch, Bernice, are still in prison.”
Fritter shook his head. “That doesn’t seem right.” However, he bought two jars from the witch.
“By the way,” said Connie. “A Bandersnatch raided Toffee Village last night. It took the mayor’s prize ram.”
Connie shook her finger at Fritter. “Sheep today, humans tomorrow. You tell that dragon to get out of bed and do his job. Soon the Tulgey Woods won’t be safe for any of us.”
Bandersnatches were not just a terrible nuisance. If they began to nest here and multiply, the humans would not stand against them for long — especially if they developed a craving for human flesh.
Now Fritter was filled with worry.
Ch. 3.2 The Dragon’s Curse
The people looked up and began to cheer. “The dragon! The dragon is coming.”
But their cheers stopped when Jay opened his mouth and roared, sending out a flame that set the flags above the castle burning. Jay swooped over the castle walls and down into the courtyard. With a terrible bellow, he settled on the stage. He spewed fire, and the banners burst into flame. In moments, they were burned to ashes.
The crowd screamed in terror. All around him was chaos. Some people ran, trampling those who couldn’t get out of the way. Others covered their faces and shrieked in fear.
The guards drew their swords and swarmed up the stairs of the stage, but the dragon sent out a spurt of flame.
“Back! Back, all of you.”
The guards were forced to retreat.
The queen reached for her baby, but the dragon turned and used one of his wings to sweep her and the king off the platform. They landed in a tangled heap at the side. When the king had got himself untangled, he drew his sword and ran up the steps.
Jay burned a hole in the floor in front of King Frances. “That’s close enough.”
King Frances stopped, his face grim. “What is the meaning of this outrage?”
“You did not invite me to the naming. I would have given great gifts, but instead I leave a curse upon the prince. Ezra’s life shall be filled with sorrow. He shall be blind, and when he is sixteen years old, he shall die by the sword in the hands of an assassin!”
The dragon reached one of his claws down to rake the baby across the eyes, but at that moment, little Ezra’s youngest brother, Eli, clambered up onto the platform. He drew his vorpal sword. Because it was a child’s practice sword, it wasn’t very sharp along the edges, but it had a needle-like point.
“You leave my brother alone!” Eli rushed forward and stabbed the dragon in the front paw. Blood spurted out of the wound and splashed onto Eli and the howling baby.
Jay bellowed in pain and jerked away. “No! Not my writing hand!”
Eli snatched his brother from the cradle and curled himself over the baby. The dragon held his paw and yelled as he lifted from the platform. His great wings hammered the air.
The guards, dwarves, and elves swarmed up the steps and fired arrows at the dragon. Jay twisted and snarled as arrows rained upon him. He flew upward, back over the castle walls.
Then, just for spite, he swooped down over the meadow and fried all the cakes, pies, and other refreshments. He even set the wagon of gifts on fire. With one last roar, Jay B. R. Wokky departed for the mountains.
Chapter 3.1 The Name Day Celebration
Jay circled in the air high above the castle. His eyes were even better than an eagle’s, and he noted the details below him with growing anger. “I was right. Everyone was invited except for me.”
South of the castle in the meadow, a great feast had been set out on tables, with dozens of cakes, cookies, and pies for dessert. Colorful streamers fluttered in the breeze. To one side was a large wagon, painted blue with gold stars, and pulled by a team of four white horses. The wagon was piled high with colorful wrapped gifts.
A great crowd had gathered in the courtyard of the castle, spilling out the gates and down Main Street. People crowded onto balconies and leaned out from the windows. Some even sat on their roofs, waving flags and cheering. Above their heads blue banners with golden stars flapped in the summer breeze. The Royal Musicians sat on the West Balcony and played triumphant music.
A large stage had been erected in the courtyard, with comfortable chairs on a dais along the back for the royal family and special guests, and a raised platform towards the front where the baby nestled in a cradle. The royal family was dressed in their finest clothing, blue with embroidered gold stars along the edges.
Jay counted a witch, a wizard, two dwarfs, two elves, two gnomes, two fey, a pair of hobbits, a werewolf, a mermaid in an enormous portable sea shell filled with water, and even a small giant among the special guests on the stand. The trolls and their allies were not represented, of course.
“How do you like that?” growled Jay. “They didn’t even prepare a place for me to sit.”
King Frances lifted the baby up so that everyone could see him. The sound on the stage had been magically amplified so that everyone in the town could hear. Even Jay, from high above, could hear each word.
“Friends and neighbors, welcome to our son’s name day. I present to you Prince Ezra!”
The crowd cheered and waved flags, and the musicians played a cheerful march.
“We shall now have the Presentation of the Gifts.” King Frances laid the baby in the cradle and went to stand by Queen Natalie.
The crowd quieted, for this was a familiar and enjoyable tradition. Whenever a child was born, his family’s friends and neighbors gathered together to eat and give gifts. If they were important people, they invited someone with magic to give a special gift to their baby. And if that family happened to be royalty, then each of the magical kingdoms was invited to send at least one guest, for their gifts were wondrous.
One by one, eight representatives from the magical folk came forward and bestowed their gifts on the baby prince, amid great applause and cheering.
Timora, the Queen of the Fey, was the first to come up the steps to the cradle. “I bestow upon Prince Ezra one favor from the Fey, to be called on when he needs it most.”
Jay snorted. Everyone knew that the Fey were tricky, and their gifts had a tendency to go wrong.
Next came Bob, the giant. “I give to Prince Ezra great Strength.”
King Winky of the gnomes stood up. “What’s strength without coordination? The prince shall have Agility.”
“Strength and agility are good,” said Brimhold, the dwarf. “But the prince will also need Courage.” The dwarves in the crowd cheered and banged on their shields.
Marin, a serious-looking prince from the Elves, stood up. “Every man needs to be able to use his abilities for good. I give the prince Wisdom.”
Four guards carried the sea shell forward, containing the beautiful mermaid queen. “If ever the prince visits our lands beneath the sea, he shall have the ability to swim and breathe under water.”
Everyone gasped and cheered. Even Jay was impressed by that one.
One of the hobbits approached. “What is a life without song and laughter? On behalf of the hobbits, I present the prince with this flute.” He laid a handmade wooden flute in the cradle.
MacQuire, the werewolf, stood and approached the cradle. Everyone watched uneasily, for their alliance with the human kingdom was recent. “I am honored to represent my people here today,” said MacQuire in a deep, rough voice. “I give the Prince safe passage through our lands, and if ever he is in need, he may call on us for help.”
The crowd cheered and clapped. MacQuire bowed and stepped back.
As each gift was given, Jay grew more and more angry. He should have been invited. He should be down there giving the baby prince his gift. Instead, the royal family had ignored him – insulted him. Jay ground his teeth together. Well, fine. There would be no good gift from him today. His anger grew into a red rage.
Finally, when there was just the wizard and the witch left, Jay couldn’t stand it anymore. He folded his wings and dropped from the sky.
CHAPTER 2: No Invitation?
Jay B. R. Wokky was an enormous green dragon who suffered from colds as well as allergies, and this year his allergies were even worse than usual. His nose ran, his head pounded, and his throat was scratchy. His ill health wasn’t helped by the damp, drafty condition of his home. No matter how high his servant built up the fires, it was always chilly.
Even worse, lately Jay found himself suffering from that terrible ailment known as writer’s block. His dream was to write a great novel, but his aspirations seemed doomed from the start. The area around his gigantic desk was littered with paper and broken ink bottles, and splatters of ink. Page after crumbled page ended up in the fireplace. He had never been known as a warm, congenial person, but now he became downright sulky and ill tempered.
One night Jay overheard a pair of gnomes talking. He discovered that everyone was getting invitations for the new prince’s name day, so he waited for his to come.
And he waited. And he waited. But it never came.
As the name day approached, Jay grew very angry.
“How dare they ignore me. I keep the East Pass safe for human travel. If it wasn’t for me, the land of Nelsonia would be overrun by hordes of toves and flocks of bandersnatches. The raths would destroy the whole kingdom. Not to mention the trolls.”
He paced back and forth, pausing every so often to sneeze and blow his nose. His eyes glittered with anger.
Jay’s servant was a thin, stooped, near-sighted gnome named Fritter.
Fritter tried his best to keep the fire burning, the bones and papers swept up, the cauldron of soup hot, and the books in the library organized and dusted, but it was all too much for one servant to do.
Usually dragons hired a whole team of people to take care of their caves and treasure for them, but Jay had ‘fired’ his last employees when they were caught stealing.
In apology, the king of the gnomes had sent Fritter. ‘It will do him good to work hard for a change,’ the king had said with a scowl aimed at the young gnome. ‘Don’t spare him.’ So Fritter worked from dawn to dusk, and sometimes far into the night. He had very little time to spend on his own interests.
Fritter was terrified of Jay, but sometimes he got the courage to say something. Now, he raised his head. “They’ve always sent one before. A letter will come, Sire. I know it will. Please be patient.”
“Silence! Go and fetch my dinner.” Jay aimed a kick at him. Fritter scurried back to the kitchen and began to slice the bread.
Finally, the name day came. Still no invitation had arrived. The sun rose above the mountains, and golden light filled the valley. Birds began to sing in the leafy, rustling trees.
Jay stood at the entrance of his cave and scowled. “I will not be ignored. The King and Queen of Nelsonia shall pay for this!”
With a great sweep of his wings, Jay set out into the sky.
CHAPTER 1: The New Prince is Born
Once upon a time in a land far away, a prince was born. His three brothers and his sister gathered around their mother’s bed to see the new arrival.
His sister, Esther, kissed the baby’s head and begged to hold him.
The oldest brother, Matthew, groaned and said, “Not another one.”
The second oldest brother, Mark, yawned. “You got us up just for this?”
And the third oldest brother, Eli, said, “I’m hungry. Can I have some toast and hot cocoa?”
Their father, King Frances, said, “A snack sounds good, but first we’ll pick a name for him.”
The children began to argue about what the baby should be named.
Matthew said, “He should be called Frederick, after our great-grandfather, who defeated the trolls in the last great war.”
“No way, we should name him Roaring Ron!” yelled Mark, who liked to watch the wrestling matches in the town square.
Eli studied his new brother. “He looks kind of round and lumpy. Let’s call him Potato Head.”
However, their mother, Queen Natalie, just smiled and said, “His name will be Ezra.”
The prince’s name day was selected, and invitations were sent out to everyone in the kingdom, as well as to important royalty and leaders in the neighboring kingdoms, and also to all the powerful magical folk who were their allies.
But somehow one person did not get an invitation.
The dragon, Jay B. R. Wokky, lived in a set of caves high in the mountains. His mail box was exceedingly hard to get to.
I’ve been so busy the last few months scanning photos, documents and scrapbook items that I haven’t taken the time to write very much. This past weekend, I said “Enough.” I sat down and began to write again. It was so much fun! I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed writing. Since two of my grandkids are far away in Japan, I am sending them a chapter (or section) every few nights for their bedtime story. So far, they are really enjoying the story. You can follow along too if you’d like. Feel free to share with your friends. Just click on the title near the top of the webpage.
Chapter 6.1 is now up. Sweet dreams, Sammy V and Olivia.
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