Refugees from the council, Tof, Bri and Gi land in Bear’s arms to discover safety and love. They’ve found a refuge from the council and its agents. Far from the council, they develop friendships and connection to their community. When that community is threatened, Tof, Bri and their five friends defend against the violence of their world to protect the people of the land. Along the way, secrets of their past are revealed and accepted, love is found, and danger is faced.
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I woke up on Thanksgiving 2010 with this idea in my head. It started with people hiding from the government who saw things being done which needed to be corrected. If they stood up for others, they would risk everything. Would they have the courage to do it? I’ve always liked stories like Robin Hood and King Arthur. This is in the same realm as those two stories. It’s about doing what’s right even at great risk to self.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Strong characters are a must when I’m reading a book. I like to break the rules a bit. The “warrior” character is usually male so I made my warrior female. Not only is she female but she’s small and feminine looking. But put a sword in her hand, she can beat almost any warrior (except her mother who taught her). The “leader” is male but he has concerns he will turn out like his father (who caused a lot of problems and the downfall of the monarchy). He relies on the support of his people. He almost has too much integrity which is good.
Bri asked, “Tof, which sword will you use?”
Tof walked to the hidden cupboard with the swords. Bear had a large collection he’d made over the years even though carrying a sword had been outlawed and making them without permission was strictly forbidden. Looking at the collection, he selected the oldest sword in the collection. It was the right length for Tof and always felt right in his hand. The leather sheath, like the sword, was simple and without adornment. He took it down and walked over to Bri. She didn’t take it from him.
Bri instructed, “Liza, will you help me with this?” Liza hopped down from the bench. The two moved to the center of the room. Tof handed Liza the sword in its sheath. She held it flat in her hands. Bri read from her paper and tucked it back in her belt. “I’ve not done this before but I think it would be best if you all formed a circle around us.”
The five of them formed a circle around the two strongest magic makers in their group. They all had magic of sorts but Liza and Bri were strongest in the craft. When they were in place, Bri closed her eyes and began the blessing, “Goddess of the land, God of the woods, elements of the world, guide our hands this day. A leader’s sword lies before us. Bless the sword, that it be sheathed in times of peace and only drawn to defend those who cannot defend themselves.” As she spoke she placed her hands over Liza’s with the sword lying between them. Energy and light flared between Liza and Bri. The five in the circle could not move, held in place by the power called upon. Unseen voices murmured, fire flared, water rushed onto a shore, rocks tumbled down a mountainside, winds whipped as the two held the sword and the light shown. The light faded. Tof lunged forward to catch Liza as she fell away from Bri clutching the sword. Benry caught Bri who fell backwards.
Everyone stood in stunned silence. They’d never seen or felt magic so powerful. “What’s that,” Benry asked turning Bri’s hand over. Just over the pulse point of her right wrist a picture of a leafy vine twined in a tight circle. It looked seared onto her wrist.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she whispered hoarsely. Benry ran a tender thumb over her wrist and she didn’t flinch.
Bri looked at Liza, her hands glowed. Alex took the sword from her and the light faded. Leaning against Tof, she looked at her hands. On her wrist, she had the outline of mountains. Hers didn’t hurt either. Both markings faded to be nearly invisible.
Bic went to the drinking bucket in the corner and brought a ladle full to each of the magic makers. Benry lifted Bri onto the work bench so she could sit. Tof lifted Liza to sit next to her. The girls looked at the markings.
Liza ventured, “I think we’ve been gifted a connection, you to the woods and me to the earth.”
Molly objected, “But you already had that connection. Look at how Bri can track and work in the woods. Liza, you can make anything grow anywhere in the earth.”
Alex offered, “Perhaps this is a blessing of those connections or maybe recognition of them.”
While they talked, Bri and Liza began to feel more grounded. The strong magic faded. Bic looked at the sword in Alex’s hands, “That wasn’t there before.”
Tof went to take it and Bri stopped him, “Don’t touch it yet. You can’t touch it till you take the oath.”
“I touched it,” Alex stated.
“It’s not your sword,” Liza said looking at Bri. “How do I know that?” Bri just shook her head.
“Instinct?” Benry offered.
Alex held the sword flat so all could see it. The sheath had changed. It was no longer plain but covered in vines, trees, flowers. In the background were mountains towering over it all. “Land and woods,” Molly said as they looked at it. “Don’t draw the sword Alex. Tof has to be the first to draw it.”
The men looked from Bri to Liza to Molly. Then it dawned on Tof, “Priestesses of the land.”
All three of the women nodded. Any woman could be a priestess of the land at any time. The land would choose to bestow certain gifts on them. Bri asked, “Molly, look at your wrist.”
Molly held up her wrists and on her right wrist was a small bird. She had gotten a gift as well.
Bic grumbled, “No fair. You guys get all the good stuff.” Bri laughed and tousled the boy’s hair.
Benry leaned against the workbench next to Bri. He asked, “So, this oath? Are we likely to all fall over from the power of it?”
Bri shook her head. Liza answered, “It’s a different type of magic.”
“It’s not a blessing but a promise,” Molly answered.
Again the men looked askance at the women. “Are you going to keep doing that?” Alex asked.
Liza, Bri, and Molly just laughed shaking their heads.
“Do you need a couple minutes?” Tof asked.
Molly took the sword from Alex, and shooed the men to the other side of the room. She brought Liza and Bri another ladle full of water. They took several moments to gather their energy. The blessing was done and it was time for them to acknowledge their leader.
Tof stood in front of the other three men forming a half circle. Molly approached holding the sword in the flat of her hands. Liza, Bri and Molly completed the circle for a moment. Molly stepped forward to offer the sword to Tof.
She offered this question, “You are chosen to lead this group, to keep its secrets, and to honor its goals. You are chosen to lead with integrity, to defend the innocent, and to honor the land and all within its boundaries. Do you accept these tasks?”
Tof knelt before her. He carefully considered his oath, “I do.”
“This sword is a symbol of all that you stand for, use it wisely.”
“I will use the power of this sword to protect those I lead, the innocent, and the land. I will honor all within the group and within the boundaries of this land. I will temper the use of this sword with wisdom and reason. I will give my life before I break this oath.” Molly handed the sword to Tof and stepped back into the circle. He pulled the sword from the sheath and it hummed with power. Returning the sword to its sheath, Tof spoke softly to the group. “Those who wish to join my quest come forward now and swear an oath.”
Bri stepped forward. Tof held the sword by the hilt pointing down. Bri placed her hand on top of his. “I swear loyalty to you as leader. I swear to protect and honor those in this circle, the innocent, and the land. I swear to give my life before I break this oath.”
“I accept your oath.”
To Bri’s right stood Benry, he stepped forward and took the oath. Bic, Alex, Liza, and Molly followed swearing the same oath. When all had sworn, Tof stepped back into the circle. He held the sword in the center so all could place their hand on the hilt. With all hands on the hilt they chanted three times, “We are the Defenders of the innocent. We are the Defenders of the land. We are the Defenders.”
The magic of the oath surrounded them like a warm blanket, wrapping them in the power of the moment. No one moved. They stood with hands intertwined on the hilt of Tof’s sword. A light shimmered around them holding them entranced. The echo of their words rang true. As they faded, the circle broke apart.
They stood staring a bit awkwardly at each other. Bic’s stomach grumbled. “I’m hungry,” he complained rubbing his stomach. “This magic stuff makes me hungry.”
Laughing, they opened the door of the workroom and headed for the house. The sun had set and the full moon rose above the house. Gi opened the door when she heard their noisy conversation. She stepped out of the house and stood in front of the door.
The seven of them lined up in front of her like she was going to inspect them. Gi asked, “You’ve been doing magic?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Benry answered first.
“Blessed a sword and took an oath,” Bic blurted out. The others groaned. “What? She’s one of us.”
Alex reached behind the boy and smacked the back of his head, “Learn some discretion.”
Bear stood in the door behind Gi smirking. Gi smothered a laugh and continued, “You do realize it is midsummer and a full moon.”
Tof responded. “I don’t think we had realized that.”
“This will make your magic stronger and more binding. I believe you have chosen well. I believe in all of you. I believe we need to feast.”
Bic let out a whoop. Tof stepped forward to accept the blessing his foster mother had just bestowed upon them with an embrace. Each member of the defenders followed his example.
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