Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Excerpt: The Gemstone Chornicles Book 2: The Amethyst by William L. Stuart

Today William Stuart is sharing with us an excerpt from Book Two of The Gemstone Chronicles. Enjoy!
The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst
Ch. 1
     “There was another terrorist attack this morning in Paris, France. A suicide bomber struck during a huge summer music festival…”
The newsreader’s voice went silent as Nana used the remote to change the channel on the television. She stopped at another news channel and the anchor was reporting a multiple shooting in New York. She tried another channel and the news there, though of a local Atlanta variety, was just as depressing. With nothing but bad news, she turned the television off, looked over at her husband Beebop, and sighed.
“I wonder if what the kelpie said was true about the Drow extending their influence into our world. It just seems that as each day goes by, our world gets more violent and darker – and from what you told us about your conversation with the kelpie that would be consistent with the goals of the Drow.”
She was referring to the not-so-mythical water horse that had tried to drown Beebop and their granddaughter Maggie during their unplanned visit to the magical world called Celahir.
Beebop looked up from his breakfast of eggs, sausage links, homemade biscuits, and grits, and wiped his mouth on his napkin.
“I have to believe what the kelpie said was true. It had no reason to lie to me and, since we had its bridle, it was bound to me. Still, that whole episode seems a really bad dream. Left to their own devices, I think that humans are basically good, but they can also be cold, cruel, and heartless when given sufficient motivation. Where that motivation comes from is anybody’s guess. Is the influence from the Drow, greed, despair, or just from human nature? That is the million-dollar question.”
“Speaking of the Drow and Celahir, I wonder how Findecano is progressing with his quest. It has been almost three months since we left him to continue on with his journey.”
Findecano was the elf that had been trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross stone. Nana and Beebop’s grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie, had freed him from his prison – against their grandparents’ wishes. Findecano’s quest was to recover the stolen Elven Bow gemstones. Beebop had retrieved the first of those stones – a beautifully smooth, oval cabochon carnelian. Findecano had left them back in the human world and continued on his quest searching for the next missing stone – the Amethyst.
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t underestimate him. He is very driven to recover the gems stolen from the Light Elves. I believe he thinks the theft is his fault, since it was on his watch that they were stolen.”
He paused for a moment, thinking about the gemstones, Findecano, Celahir, and their grandchildren.
“When are the grandchildren going to be out for the summer?”
“Do you miss them as much as I do?” Nana asked. Beebop nodded and she continued, “Their last day of school is next Friday. If I know Aidan, he will be expecting us to be there to pick him up on that Friday and bring him back here with his sister in tow.”
“Have you talked to Laura about how they are going to spend the summer?” Beebop knew that every summer for the last fourteen years, Aidan had come to stay with them for almost the entire vacation period. It had been a little tough when he was younger and they had to work, but a summer camp with swimming lessons had helped a lot. Not only did he have a healthy activity to do, but also had learned to swim and how to make friends in new places. Maggie had not gone to the camp when she got old enough, so she had not learned to swim as well as Aidan. Now that Nana and Beebop were semi-retired, perhaps they could get her into swimming lessons this summer. However, Aidan was almost fourteen and Maggie was ten, so they knew that at some point the grandchildren were not going to want to spend summer vacation with their grandparents. Nana and Beebop hoped to milk it as long as they could, though.
“I did ask her about it the other day and as far as she knew, they were planning on coming as soon as they got out, but she was supposed to confirm that and let me know. I think she and Mike were planning on going camping, but I haven’t heard from her yet.”
Beebop smiled in anticipation of the children’s visit. They had always been close, but had grown even closer since their visit to Celahir. Something about facing danger together tended to do that. Beebop still had fond memories of his time in the Navy aboard the submarine. He knew that you make friends that have a very special bond when you face dangers together. During their first visit to Celahir, they all faced death on a number of occasions, and those experiences had really forged that strong bond between them.
“I am going to the workshop to work on your china cabinet as soon as I clean up the kitchen. What do you have planned for today?” Beebop asked, changing the subject.
“I was hoping to do some antique shopping this afternoon. I heard that a new store has opened near here and I want to go check it out. Would you like to go with me?” she asked.
“Sure – if we can drive the Corvette. I need a couple of hours in the workshop and then I will take a shower and we’ll go.”
“I promise not to buy anything big so we can drive your mid-life crisis,” Nana replied impishly.
Beebop grinned at her, got up from the table, and carried their empty breakfast plates into the kitchen and set about cleaning up. Nana left him to his chore and she went into the office to look at her food blog stats and plan her next blog post.
About the time that Nana and Beebop were eating breakfast, Aidan and Maggie were waking up from sleeping late. It was their custom since it was Saturday and they did not have school. Or, more accurately, Aidan was sleeping late. Maggie had been awake for a while, and, when Aidan finally opened his eyes, he saw his blonde sister sitting patiently at the foot of his bed.
He sat straight up, instantly awake, and asked her irritably, “What are you doing in here this early on a Saturday morning? I wanted to sleep late today!”
Maggie answered back just as irritably. “You did sleep late. It is almost nine o’clock. Besides, I had the dream again, so I slept at the foot of your bed. I don’t know what the dream means except that Findecano and the other elves need our help and I don’t know how to help them. I wish summer vacation would get here so we could go to Nana and Beebop’s. They will know what to do.”
“Mom hasn’t said whether we could go for the summer or not. She and Dad may not let us go right away. They want to go camping,” Aidan said, irritation still in his voice.
“They have to let us go. I will go crazy if I keep having this dream and if I try to tell Mom and Dad, they will think I have lost my mind or that I am making it up. I can tell Nana and Beebop about it,” Maggie complained.
“You should tell Mom and Dad. We should tell them everything that happened,” Aidan said quietly. “I know that they will think we made the whole thing up or that we have gone insane, but I still think we should tell them.”
“If we tell them, they will think that we play too many video games and that is why we are having nightmares,” Maggie answered seriously.
Aidan grunted, stifled a yawn, got out of bed, stretched, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He trundled off to the bathroom to wash his face and brush his hair. Maggie got off the foot of the bed, sighed and wished the dream would just stop.
The dream always started the same way. She was walking in Celahir with Aidan, Nana, and Beebop. She could see, in a foggy kind of way, Findecano, Alatariel, Luthien, and Lotheth, their elven friends from Celahir. They were in a forest, and she could hear birds chirping and see the sun shining. Her family was laughing and joking as they walked and she could see the elves turn to look at them and laugh, too. Then, suddenly, the sky turned dark, lightning flashed, and rained poured from the sky. They dashed into the trees and took shelter under a huge chestnut tree. Chestnut trees are supposed to provide protection during storms, which is why they took shelter there. She could see her family standing under the tree laughing, rain dripping from their hair. She could see the elves, too, but instead of them laughing, they had looks of terror on their faces as they were swept up in a dark cloud and disappeared into the blackness of the storm. She always woke up right after that, never knowing what had happened to her friends. She did not think that the dream was what really happened, but it told her that her friends were in great danger in Celahir. Maggie knew that she was probably receiving these dreams because she had learned some telepathic abilities using her quartz crystal the last time they were in Celahir. She wore the quartz on a silver chain around her neck during the day and left it on the nightstand by her bed at night, so the stone was always near. She knew she should probably get rid of it, but the idea of not being able to see what might be happening to her friends made her keep it. The thing she did not know was whose thoughts she was receiving and that scared her. Maggie also knew that if Findecano and the others were not able to recover all of the gemstones stolen from the Elven Bow, then the Drow would win and darkness would reign over Celahir and, perhaps, the human world, too. She wanted to tell someone besides Aidan, but her parents would not understand and she never had a chance to talk to Nana and Beebop without one of her parents being around, so it was driving her crazy. She did not sleep much because of her dream and it was beginning to show. She had dark circles under her eyes and, though she and Aidan were both good students, schoolwork was not a priority right now. Luckily enough, school was almost out and then she and Aidan would go to their grandparents’ house and she could tell them everything. She sighed again and slowly shook her head as Aidan came back into his room.
“Let’s go get some breakfast. I’m hungry.”
Maggie nodded her head and followed him down the stairs to see what their dad had prepared for breakfast.
* * *
     Beebop worked on the china cabinet he was building for Nana. It was almost complete, but he still had to build and install the cornice for the hutch. He set up his table saw and miter box and began to cut the crown molding that would finish off the piece. Once he had cut the pieces to length and mitered the corners, he attached them to the top of the hutch. He drove in the last finishing nail and stood back to admire his handiwork.
“Not bad, Beebop!” he muttered to himself.
He looked at his watch and realized that a little more than two hours had passed, so he hurriedly cleaned up the shop, put away his tools, and headed to the house to take a shower.
After he showered, he shaved, leaving his white beard neatly trimmed. He had grown the beard during their first trip to Celahir. While there, his beard had gotten somewhat long and he thought it had made him look like some kind of deranged prophet. Nana had teasingly called him Whitebeard the Pirate while in Celahir. Once he trimmed it, though, he decided that he liked the look and he decided to keep it. Nana liked it, too, so that made it all the better. He dressed in jeans and a polo shirt and put on his walking shoes. He gathered his wallet and keys and was just about to close his closet door when he remembered his jeweler’s loupe was in his valet, so he put it in his pocket. Since he and Nana were going antiquing, he might be able to use it to find a treasure. He smiled to himself and headed downstairs to find his real treasure.
He found Nana sitting at the computer in the home office, putting the finishing touches on her latest blog post. She had made shrimp creole the previous night, photographed the dish beautifully, and posted it to her very popular web site. Of course, the best part was that he got to eat it! She got up from the chair, grabbed her purse, and kissed him lightly.
“How goes the china cabinet?”
“Construction is complete. I just have to paint it – as soon as you decide what the color is going to be.”
“I can’t decide whether to have it distressed black or a creamy white. I think it will help if we go antiquing. I might get some inspiration. Let’s go find some treasures.”
Beebop smiled at her enthusiasm, took her hand, and led her out the door to his car.
When Aidan and Maggie find a fairy cross while rock-hunting with their grandfather, it's just an oddity. But when they discover there is an elf imprisoned in the stone and set him free, they and their grandparents, Nana and Beebop, are attacked by Dark Elves and have to flee to the magical world of Celahir.

In Celahir, Findecano - the elf the children freed from the fairy cross - leads them on a quest to recover gemstones stolen from the Elven Bow by the Dark Elves. Without the restoration of the gemstones to the Elven Bow, the balance between good and evil in Celahir - and the human world - could tip toward evil.

You can purchase the The Gemstone Chronicles on Amazon and Smashwords.

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