In May, I released a short story written within the fantasy world of the Rys exclusively in Kindle stores. I thought I’d test out the possibility that by granting Amazon the exclusive right to distribute Lessons Learned the retailer might show me some merchandising love.
As I expected would happen, I could detect no benefit from withholding my creation from other retail outlets. I’ve begun the process of expanding its distribution. I’ll even add it to this website eventually.
This story presents a crucial episode of back story from The Rys Chronicles, one of my big four-book epics.
About Lessons Learned:
A rash act of defiance will thrust Shan into a high stakes competition with Onja, his lover, his queen.
His compassion for a mere human starts his descent into a dangerous test that he is not prepared for. Then, his desire to be his own master drives him to continue. Shan feels his magic growing inside him. He sees the good that can be accomplished if only he can stop the vicious queen who has ruled over the rys and her human worshippers for centuries.
Step into the epic world of the rys with this short story from the Rys World that inspired eight other fantasy novels by Tracy Falbe.
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Excerpt from Lessons Learned:
The presence of the humans was thick in the Jingten Valley. Shan could feel them in his homeland. Their bodies touched his sensitive mind with the energy of their short lives. If he applied himself, he could even feel the pumping pulse of their hearts and understand their thoughts in all of their languages.
It was the height of the tribute season, and tribal delegations were approaching the city of Jingten or departing.
This morning, a delegation from the Zenglawa Tribe entered the city. The King came with a sampling of wives and retainers. Three dozen of his warriors guarded his wagons laden with gold, jewels, food, and other goods of fine crafting.
Jingten with its blue stone buildings and copper roofs accepted the Zenglawa caravan like the bored host of a tedious party. The caravans came every year. They were supposed to come. For centuries, the tribes had brought their gifts to Onja, their Queen, their Goddess.
For a hundred years now, Shan had stood upon the balconies of Onja’s Keep and watched the humans come into the city of the rys. He could see over the city from the heights of the massive Keep. Its receding tiers of dark stone lorded over the city in stark contrast to the residential architecture of the rest of Jingten. The city was old, built to last, and the buildings were accented with stained glass windows in colors from tender lavenders to bold red. The homes and buildings set gracefully amid the manicured hedges and ancient trees in dignified permanence.
The sharp-edged Keep, however, jutted up from the shore of Lake Nin and dominated the cityscape like a bear rolling on flowers. A high stone wall contained its yards and metal gates where ornate birds locked claws guarded the entrance with enchanted wrought iron. The Keep announced the power of the Queen and declared that none should ever dare to challenge her authority.
Shan loved Queen Onja. She had been his caretaker and teacher, and she was more than that now. Onja spared him loneliness. A gulf separated Shan from the rest of his kind. He possessed powers far beyond the typical rys. Indeed, his talent had been so special that Onja took him into her arms as a rysling, orphaned, and bereft of kin.
He focused on the soft lamb’s wool tunic in his hands. He gathered the fine fabric that had come from the loom of some unknown but skilled lowland woman and pulled the tunic over his head. He slipped his long blue arms into the sleeves and slid the tunic down his smooth blue chest.
Shan ran his fingers through his short black hair after putting on his shirt. He grabbed his green suede jacket that was draped over the balcony railing and tossed it on without buttoning it. He took a half step toward the open balcony doors but then paused to admire the morning sun on the mountains that surrounded the Jingten Valley. Gold and pink glowed from the snowy peaks of the Rysamand Mountains. The gentle early autumn sunrise could not soften the harsh towering mountains that were beautiful yet always cold.
Shan took a deep breath and let his senses caress the mountain tops. He loved the Rysamand, as all rys did. This was their world, the Rystavalla, and it gave them life and it fueled their magic.
He approached the balcony doorway. White curtains covered the opening and twinkled with silver threads. A breeze billowed the curtains around him as he entered the bedchamber of Queen Onja. Opposite the balcony doors was a huge four-post bed. Its great carved bedposts rose to a canopy draped with blue velvet. Pine cones and birds were carved into the wood, twining and climbing up the posts with the vivacious energy of a happy spring day.
In a white gown and robe, Onja reposed against her gold threaded pillows. Far older than a thousand winters, she looked cold yet beautiful. Her blue skin, unblemished and perfect, was the same shade as the blue stone mountains that ruled her realm as surely as she did. Long white hair flowed from her head over her pillows, and a choker necklace of diamonds, each cut with one hundred and one facets, held her strong blue neck.
Onja opened her eyes—black eyes, dark as the abyss of knowledge that was her mind. She sat up when Shan approached her bedside. Her robe fell from her left shoulder, exposing that corner of her lovely physique. Shan plopped confidently into the bed and touched her bare shoulder.
“It will be a good day at court today,” Onja said.
Shan reclined alongside her legs. He put his hands behind his head and said, “I do not want to go. I want to go hiking.”
Before she could admonish him, which he saw coming, Shan grinned. “Come with me, Onja. The mountains are lonely without you,” he said.
A fond smile came to her lips. “You are young, Shan, and once I explored the land with equal relish, but I no longer need to. I can feel the Rysamand beneath my feet even from here,” she said.
Shan sighed and said that he would miss her, but then Onja’s kindness slipped from her face. “You are still holding court with me,” she said. “Do not let yourself become bored with it. I am teaching you an important lesson if you would pay attention.”
Her subtle anger poked Shan, and he sat up. He had not meant to provoke her displeasure. She was his teacher, and no other being in the world had the knowledge to offer that she did. He would mind his lessons, as she bid him.
“Yes, Onja,” he said.
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