The Amber Elixir - an Arthurian tale of magic, shape-shifters, and the quest to win back a forbidden love - is now available in paperback on Amazon.
E-books release on October 3, 2017
In the time of King Arthur
Lake of Forgotten Memories
Far below the lake’s surface, in the cold dark depths where only blind armored fish venture, the water fairy Morainn stirred within her cave. Sensing dawn had spread its golden light, she swam past Roderick, curled upon their shared treasure. Once past the sleeping dragon, she frog kicked towards open water.
Morainn’s sleek sapphire body rippled through the water like the eels swimming overhead, stirring silt and small rocks. She angled upwards and broke into a fast kick, speeding her ascent to clearer water. Green, scarlet-finned perch darted out of her way. As she neared the top, her pondweed-like hair entrapped passing minnows. With a shake of her head, she freed them.
When Morainn breached the surface, a moss-green spell-sheen washed over her, spreading like a fleeting veil down her head and shoulders. She sniffed the cold spring air. The stench of charred pine, fear, and a lingering hint of Merlin’s musty aroma of ancient books and sulphur seared her nose and throat. Wincing, Morainn swirled to face what remained of the Lady of the Lake’s sanctuary.
Viviane is free!
Nine days ago, Merlin had seized the isle, conjured a towering castle of solid ice, and imprisoned Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, within it. Roderick had seen it all. He had watched as Merlin cast a curse upon the lake, a moss-green bloom that would turn to stone any of the Lady’s handmaidens or priestesses who attempted to cross the water to save her.
In the shallows on the far shore, Morainn spotted the two priestesses who had failed to heed Merlin’s warnings and were now statues captured mid motion.
A tiny plunk of ice falling into the water caused her to turn her gaze back to the sanctuary. Last night, after encountering a small boat carrying a handsome Halfling, a human girl, and two pixies, she had returned to her cave on the lake’s floor. Soon after, she had heard the crackling noises of battle being wrought by magic and the loud crumbling, thumping sounds of what she now saw must have been the destruction of Merlin’s ice prison.
For indeed, the better part of the ice castle lay in ruins. Chunks of ice, the debris from sheared-off spires, littered the shores and rocks surrounding the ruin. Mayhap their fall caused last night’s earth tremors. Morainn’s gaze swept the devastation. The core of the castle also had been destroyed, though here and there, waist-high opaque ice walls remained.
And where is the young Lady of the Lake? Morainn scanned the isle, but caught no sight of Viviane’s auburn hair or the indigo cloak she favored. Nor did she see the impetuous young wizard who had trapped her.
Did Merlin or Viviane leave behind any treasure? She scanned the ruins more closely. Nay. They left nothing bright and shiny.
Morainn swiveled in the water. Her hair, the dark green of water lily pads, swished about her shoulders as she turned her back to the isle and studied the distant shore. An empty coracle had beached not far from the two stone handmaidens.
She thought back to her encounter with the small round boat’s occupants. The Halfling’s cloak had been fastened with a gold Norse brooch. Alas, he had resisted her beguiling enchantments with complimentary charms of his own, which had made her forget about collecting treasure and instead bless him on his journey. No pretties had been visible on the flame-haired human, but who knew what the girl had hidden beneath her fairy cloak? Morainn contemplated the Halfling’s seasick pixies. No treasure there.
Mayhap the Halfling lost his brooch. Brightened by the prospect of adding Norse gold to her trove, Morainn dove beneath the waves and swam towards the coracle. She surfaced in the shallows. As the water lapped against her glistening body, she eyed the compact vessel. The foursome must have abandoned the craft in great haste, for they had not tethered it. Thank, Mab!
Idly, the tide licked the woven willow hull.
Come to me, she willed.
The little boat lifted in the water. With three receding waves, the craft floated within reach. Morainn tipped the side and peered in. Treasure! Not the Norse jewel she had coveted, but something equally rare—a gilt-edged sheet of parchment.
Her prize scooted away from her though no breeze stirred the air. Intrigued, Morainn whispered, “Are you enchanted, Little One?”
In answer, the page slid just beneath the plank seat.
Morainn crinkled her nose, for the parchment reeked of charred pine, magic-laced ice, and Merlin’s wretched scent. Its ragged edge suggested the page had been ripped from a book. The water sprite eyed the black marks written in a neat flourishing script.
As if it sensed she sought its secrets, the gilt-edged sheet shrank back.
A page from Merlin’s spell book! It has value far beyond its shiny edges. She pressed her glittery indigo lips together. Will the water lift away its words?
A shadow slithered over the coracle. Morainn shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare as she watched a white owl glide low overhead. An owl in daylight? How curious.
Waves surged behind her, and Morainn glanced over her shoulder. A broad river coursing through gently rolling marshland separated her lake from Avalon’s mist-shrouded shore. A vessel glided through the water. Her barge! The Lady of the Lake and one of her priestesses approach the isle. The women stood at the front of the barge as they neared land, their long flowing garments pressed against their slender bodies by the gentle breeze.
The owl soared and disappeared into the clouds while the parchment scurried mouse-like up the side of the coracle. Morainn snatched it. The page writhed in an effort to escape. But Morainn tightened her grip and dipped one corner of the parchment beneath the lake’s surface. More words appeared. It is enchanted!
Clutching her tattered treasure, she frog kicked away from the shallows. By some foul magic, the wretched parchment burned her hand. Enraged, Morainn submerged the struggling page below her, half hoping to drown it.
Nay. I’ll hide it.
Memories of rumors arose in her mind, murmurings that Mab, the foreign-born, newly crowned Queen of Fairy, often spied upon her subjects. Unease crept across Morainn’s shoulders. Mayhap Mab watches me now.
A queen who spies upon her subjects is not worthy of her throne, Roderick would say.
Although Morainn could hardly disagree, Mab was queen, and likely to remain so for centuries. It would be dangerous to ignore her or challenge her power. So far, only Merlin had dared oppose her.
And I have a page from the great wizard’s spell book!
Fearing she had already drawn Mab’s attention, she decided on a new course, one best kept secret from Roderick, who would surely disapprove. I will give the page to the queen and earn her favor.
The gilt-edged scrap curled and cut Morainn’s fingers.
Eel’s teeth! With a wrathful kick and small splash, Morainn plunged to the dark depths with her furious prize.