Book Highlight: Enchantments

Enchantments is an allegorical tale told in prose and verse.
Though born and raised in the elvin land of E’alowen, E’lienna, daughter of Lady Claire, a human, and Gle'anden, prince of elves, longs to better understand her human lineage. She sets out from E’alowen and into human lands. There, she visits the wizened Mage of Dur, a long-time friend to her parents and all elvinkind. She discovers that the wizard is secretly working to help bring about a new age throughout the land of humankind. For he reveals to her that a babe, born of a king, has been secretly hidden away until such time when he is grown so that he may fulfill a prophesy made long ago of a king of men who will grow to rule the land with justice and mercy.
Through her quest to find out more about her mother’s past and about this king of men, E’lienna uncovers the mystery behind a tragedy that befell her family years ago and, in the process, discovers that the worlds of men and elves are much more deeply entwined than either have believed.
My name is E’lienna. I am daughter to a human woman and an elvin prince. Both bloods flow within my veins, the human and the elvish. This very thing it is which brings up longing deep within me, a longing in my heart and mind to find my own place in both worlds.
Born into a time of change for elf and humankind alike, I have always sought out answers far beyond my elvin kin’s embrace. Many stories tell of how the worlds of men and elves are weaving. This is my own story. So listen, if you’ve mind to hear, and I’ll recount my tale to you in that fashion keeping with the long-held elf tradition; poetry and prose entwining.
The Beginning
While moon shines bright and full, I ride out from my elvin wood, E’alowen, and under hood and cloak, I keep myself quite hidden. After I have ridden under summer’s silken stars for three nights and three days, I finally come upon the village where the wizard dwells. I’ve come to visit him.
I reach his cottage just at dusk and knock upon the door three times. He opens it and clearly is astonished by my visit.
“E’lienna!” says the sage. “Child, what brings you here?”
“Good Mage,” say I, “I am no child. Sixteen years have crowned me. I have come in hope of finding answers to a mystery which will not be explained to me by either of my parents. So please, good sage, will you engage in sharing what you know? For you are wise and friend to both my father and my mother.”
“Do they know that you are here?” he asks, and strokes his beard.
“Of course, good mage!” I answer truly. (Elves don’t lie or trick.) “It was they who told me you might offer clarity! Now will you let me in?”
And so the wizened Mage of Dur ushers me inside. His cottage proves a simple hut, yet comfortable and cozy.
“Sit. Please sit. And have some tea,” he says, upon my entering.
He serves it on a wooden tray, in two clay cups, all painted brightly. Then he sits himself across the large old wooden table, smiles and cocks his head.
“Now, pray, tell me why you’ve come.”
I pull a locket from the bag which hangs about my waist and open it to show, inside, two portraits, small as thumbnails.
“Sir,” I say, “I want to know whose picture this might be.”
On the left, my mother smiles, her sixteen year-old face all rosy. On the right, another girl stares out from sullen eyes. Their faces seem so similar. Hair and eyes, chin and cheek, both share all the same fine features. Yet they could not be more different—one a joyous angel, filled with light and magic, one an angry, brooding creature, shadowed, bleak and tragic.
I set the locket down before him. Even before looking, he begins to nod his head then sighs and closes his dark eyes as if he knows already who the woman must have been.
“No wonder Claire sent you to me,” he finally says, “and I agree it was a good thing that she sent you here. For this tale is a tale of grief—for her and your poor grandmother. Because you ask this task of me, I’ll tell you what I can.”
He pauses. I wait. Then he takes a long and heavy breath.
“How shall I begin? This portrait, E’lienna, is of your mother’s sister.”
“Mother has no sister!” I exclaim.
“Now, good child,” he says, “you must allow me to explain. And without interruption! As I said, I’ll tell you what I’m able. But I warn you, E’lienna, this is not a fable! This is sorrow. This is pain. Now, shall I start, again?”
The air hangs still, a silent weight that seems quite palpable. I swallow back my sudden feeling of dismay and answer, “Yes, dear mage, continue on, I pray. I will hold my tongue, I promise. ‘Til the end of it.”
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About the Author:
Susan M. Botich writes science-fiction and fantasy. She is also a freelance writer, poet, songwriter and performing musician. She has lived all over the United States from California to New York, Alaska to Hawaii, Washington to the Midwest of Iowa and Minnesota and even the high desert of Northern Nevada. She and her husband have recently made Bend, OR their home.
Susan is an eclectic reader, having interests that bridge physics and metaphysics, social and spiritual issues, and multiple genres of fiction. She simply loves to read a good story. She became a science-fiction and fantasy fan as a teen. She has always been an avid reader but turned her focus to story writing after marriage and family in her early thirties.
Susan has recently published her science-fiction novel, The Dream Star, as well as a fantasy verse-novel, Enchantments. Both books are available through in both Kindle and print edition and as a Nook book. Readers may also buy her books through her website

Book Highlight: The Lurker War

In this sequel to “The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight” an evil force is growing in the “Nown” world, causing peaceful nations and kings to wage war on one another for no apparent reason. Returning home after her adventure “Karen” has accepted her new identity, having been changed into a woman, marrying her faithful squire Jatel. In her absence, Idoshia has become a fallen and conquered nation controlled by the Xows! The Royal Family are prisoners in their own castle, and a political opportunist named Hector has seized power. In the elfin lands, an ancient evil has been released causing all free-loving people to take up arms against their beloved king.. Building up a great alliance, Karen of Teal, former Errant-Knight to the kingdom of Idoshia, becomes her people’s one and only hope. Battling Elves, vampires, an escape from prison, sea creatures, and an army of the dead, no horror is more unimaginable than what would later be called “THE LURKER WAR!”
Karen of Teal, formally an Errant-Knight to the Kingdom of Idoshia, lay blissfully in her bed, barely conscious. Her body relaxed to the constant pitch and roll of her room, as her mind made note of the humming of the Argo’s fantastic sky machines. Her night was one of the most fantastic she had ever experienced, for she had become a bride. As a woman, she was experiencing life from a different point of view, and had become quite used to it. This acceptance was remarkable, considering she had once been a man.
Upon hearing a set of footsteps above her, on the main deck, Karen opened one eye surveying her cabin. She spotted shadows moving through the cracks of the wood, and heard muffled voices ordering themselves about. The suns were starting to raise midpoint in the course of time, and she felt a small pang of embarrassment that she had been sleeping so late. Then again, the last couple of phases had been exhausting. Her wedding dress and undergarments lay scattered upon a nearby chair. She giggled slightly, remembering how desperately she had wanted them off the evening before.
Then, Karen felt the weight upon her chest.
"To the gods! No!" she whispered, reaching up in a panic.
Karen’s concern could be understood. The last time she had felt such a weight, she had been known as Ka-Ron, a brave knight - a man. She had fallen victim to the wrath of a Wicca Master, who had blamed Ka-Ron for the sad death of her daughter. A daughter Ka-Ron had sworn to protect from all worldly evil. In her wrath, Kai, the Wicca Master, and mother of the unfortunate woman created a most evil curse - a curse worthy of destroying a knight’s life forever. Ka-Ron became a woman. And, in time, the woman became Karen.
However, this time, the woman’s fears were false. She breathed a sigh of relief, when upon reaching up towards her chest, to discover Jatel’s head lying between her breasts. She laughed, realizing that all was indeed quite normal.
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About the Author:
Donald Allen Kirch lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is an avid reader of history, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, and the paranormal. He has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and is listed in "Who’s Who in America." He is the author of a monthly article that appears in "Suspense Magazine" entitled "Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal." After spending two weekends in the famous "Sallie House," a "haunted house" featured on the Fox TV-series Sightings, in Atchison, Kansas, he is one of the only authors of his genre who can claim to have been attacked by a ghost!

Book Highlight: Under the Stone Paw

Anne Le Clair, a successful, young attorney, has always managed to remain free from her family's gothic past - until now. When she inherits her eccentric aunt's antique necklace though, she finds no escape from its secrets. Anne is immersed in a crash course of forbidden wisdom, secret societies, and her family's own legacy. She soon discovers that her aunt's necklace is one of just six powerful "keys" that, when combined with the other five at the appointed time, unlocks the legendary Hall of Records. But the shadowy Illuminati is working behind the scenes to uncover the same powerful secrets - and make them their own.


"So you have this whole secret life I know nothing about?" Anne quipped.

Thomas was quiet.

"Oh, my God." Anne put down her drink and stared at him. "You do, don't you?"

"Let's just say I know more about the family than you do. But you knew that already, dear sister."

The main course arrived, and Anne began methodically cutting up her steak, wondering how to breech this gap between them.

"Why do you persist in eating that stuff?" he asked. "You know how much heart disease there is in our family."

"It's from Argentina. No chemicals. Besides, we die from assassinations, don't we?"

Thomas frowned. "Cynic."

"So, if you knew Cynthia so well, why didn't she leave you her whole estate?"

"She left me her library, all her papers and research."

"Everybody knows you love those dusty family archives."

"Besides, some things have to go through the female line."

Anne sat forward. "Like what? What does that mean, anyway?"

Thomas considered her. "Do you really want to know?"

"Of course. Oh, you are so exasperating. Why do you all have to be so mysterious?"

"Who else is being mysterious?"

The waiter came to ask if everything was acceptable, and Anne was saved from further comment.

After a moment, Thomas asked, "What is it you're not telling me?"

"You're the one hiding things."

"Annie." Thomas took her hand. "This is your big brother talking to you. What's the matter?"

Anne looked up at the amber eyes fixed on her.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Why have you never told me about your relationship with Cynthia before now?"

"Because Mother insisted I leave you out of it, and when you got older, you made it clear you weren't interested in learning more of the family, uh," he hesitated, "legacy. I respected your wishes."

Anne considered this. It was true that when Thomas had tried to talk about his ideas or tell her a family story, she resisted, even ridiculed him. He often flew off to explore the musty libraries of some minor branch of a noble family or an obscure metaphysical organization, but she never listened when he told her about an enticing find. It never excited her. It only served to annoy her that this brilliant man wasted his talents on such pursuits. She'd accepted her mother's view of things as a child and never really questioned her rational worldview. "I guess there's a lot I don't know about you."

Thomas set his glass down and looked across the table at Anne. "I've often wished that was different."

Now the words tumbled out. "I had these weird dreams last night, and Aunt Cynthia left me this odd necklace as a gift with a very peculiar note."

Thomas glanced around. The tables nearest them were empty. "Tell me what happened. I want to hear about the note and the crystal. Please. This is very important."

"How did you know it was a crystal?"

Thomas ignored the question. "Tell me what happened.

Anne relayed the story of the crystal necklace, the note from Cynthia and the faces she'd seen sitting before the fire. When she finished, Thomas studied her for a long time. "Say something. You're making me nervous."

"Actually, that might be an appropriate response to this development."

"What do you mean?"

Thomas squared his shoulders. "You need to make a decision and you need to make it quickly. You've always told the family you wanted nothing to do with our legacy." Anne started to speak, but he interrupted her. "Hear me out. If you keep this crystal, then you'll have to learn what it's for and how to use it."

"Use it? It's just a necklace."

"It is far more than a necklace, my dear sister. You've already had a vision using it."

"Vision? I fell asleep on the couch."

"Oh, right." He looked around again, then lowered his voice. "If you don't want to take on the responsibility of being the keeper of this crystal, then you must give it to Grandmother Elizabeth immediately. If you keep it like some bauble in your jewelry case, your life may be in danger."

"My life?"

"Quiet." Thomas looked around again.

Anne lowered her voice. "Make sense. How can a necklace threaten me?"

"I'm sorry, Anne. I want to tell you, but we can't talk about this here."

Anne sat back in her chair. "What's the big deal?"

"Are you staying at the estate after the party?"

"I always do."

"Good. We can talk Sunday. I think Grandmother will want to join us. Is that okay with you?"

"What is the big deal?" Anne repeated more emphatically.

"I'll tell you then. Meanwhile, just leave the necklace in its case."

Anne sighed.

"And don't tell mother."

"For God's sake…"

"Please." Thomas watched her earnestly.

"Oh, all right. But I think Mother is right. The family has damaged your common sense."

"Good. Now I've got to scoot."

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About the Author:

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently "White Moon" in Riding the Moon and "Bringing the Waters" in The Aether Age: Helios. She's also published poetry and a baker's dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at