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Timeless Specials

Timeless Specials!

Grace Anthony

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h1={color:#000;}. Copyright

Timeless Specials!

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

All Rights Reserved

Thank you for downloading this free ebook. This book may not be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any manner whatsoever except in the form of brief quotations embodied in reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

A Visit to the Market

Palace of Snow

Attack on Willowsford

Of Mothers and Daughters

In the Name of a Wolf

 

 

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h1<{color:#000;}. Introduction

I’m Grace Anthony, indie author of Timeless and the Short Horse Stories. This is a compilation of all the extras I wrote for Timeless. It includes four short stories, “A Visit to the Market,” “Attack on Willowsford,” “Palace of Snow,” and the extra-long “In the Name of a Wolf.” There is also an author interview about Timeless and a sneak peek at the next Timeless Chronicles, Eye of the Queen.

Thank you for supporting an indie author!

Grace Anthony

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h1={color:#000;}. Timeless Short Stories

[][] A Visit to the Market

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

(This occurs right before the beginning of Timeless)

Lulu turned and waved good-bye to Granny as she headed toward Split Creek Village. Her satchel was slung over her shoulder. In it was a lunch Granny had packed and Lulu’s blouse and trousers that Granny didn’t approve of. Lulu and Granny disagreed over whether women should wear trousers or not.

Lulu jogged the mile to Split Creek Village that was just inside the treeline of the Dark Woods. Lulu shivered at the gloom cast by the unnatural forest, its trees like bleached skeletons.

Lulu paused on the slight hill that overlooked Split Creek. The creek itself ran down the hill and created a small waterfall that flowed through the center of the village.

The village consisted of a mere thirty houses in a random, disorganized cluster. The tavern, the Dancing Duck, stood a little ways off from the village. People had always gathered there for important announcements, news, or general celebrations.

Because of its solitude and small size, Split Creek had avoided the Evil Queen’s notice for a long time, as long as Lulu had lived with Granny. Other villages weren’t so lucky.

Lulu trotted down the hill towards the village green outside of the town itself. Half the village was already there. Traveling merchants had set up tents for their goods, women strutted around in finery, and children played.

Lulu pulled Granny’s list from her pocket. Granny wanted her to get a bolt of fabric imported from Arialan for a new dress as well some food supplies and other items. Lulu saw her friend Marian, the wife of a traveling merchant, and she headed to her tent.

Marian was struggling to contain her two children, Jo, who was five, and Mary M., who was three. Marian looked up when she saw Lulu approach and the children made their escape.

Marian threw up her hands in defeat. Lulu smiled at her. “How are you doing?” she asked.

Marian smoothed her ruffled hair and tied on a handkerchief. “All right. You?”

Lulu shrugged. “Same as always. Did you make it to Arialan this year?” The previous year, the merchants had been unable to reach the island country of Arialan because the Evil Queen had deterred them.

Marian nodded and gestured to the tent behind her. “Want to look?” she asked.

Lulu nodded, trying to tone down her excitement. Marian led her into the spacious dark green tent. Lulu’s jaw dropped. There were bolts of cloth everywhere. Pretty dishes sat on tables and some barrels next to the wall held food.

“We had a good year,” Marian said proudly.

Lulu fingered the beautiful midnight blue satin before her. “I see that,” she murmured.

“Would you like to buy that?” Marian asked, indicating the satin Lulu was still stroking.

Lulu shook her head. “I couldn’t possibly pay for it.”

“How much do you have?” Marian asked kindly.

Lulu grimaced. Granny made a small income selling her homegrown vegetables. It was enough to support the two of them if they were thrifty, but it couldn’t possibly cover the cost of satin. “Granny gave me seven coppers for a bolt of fabric,” Lulu replied.

“You can have it for six,” Marian said generously.

Lulu took a step back and shook her head. “That would be theft,” she protested.

Marian got a stubborn look in her eyes. She stared down at Lulu.

Lulu chuckled nervously. “All right, it’s a deal,” she said.

Marian smiled, pleased. “It was a pleasure doing business with you, Lucinda Larson,” she said, handing Lulu the bolt and accepting Lulu’s six coppers.

“Thank you, Marian,” Lulu said earnestly. She couldn’t begin to express how nice the merchant’s wife was to her. The villagers thought Granny was eccentric and crazy, some even feared her. But Marian had always been kind to Lulu.

Marian gave Lulu a nod as the girl left the tent. Even though it was passed noon, it was gloomy and overcast. Lulu shivered and pulled her cloak around herself.

With her prize tucked under her arm, Lulu meandered to the Dancing Duck tavern. She joined the flow of villagers going into the tavern and sat down at the bar.

The tavern was a small room with a fireplace next to the door and a bar directly across from the door. Barrels next to the bar served as chairs. Tables and chairs were scattered across the room, occupied by tenets in various stages of inebriation.

Lulu chose a barrel and sat down, laying the fabric on her lap. She ordered a glass of milk and watched the activity in the tavern while she waited for it. Two villagers were squaring off while bystanders moved the tables and chairs out of the way.

The bartender sighed when he brought Lulu’s milk and saw what was going on. He shook his head and went to serve other customers.

Lulu watched the brawl with interest as she sipped her milk. One of the brawlers was a muscular man named Phil. The other was called Bean, who was tall, but strong.

Lulu guessed Phil would win. The two men circled each other, then without warning Bean tackled Phil, punching and biting like a wildcat. Phil got Bean in a headlock and pushed him off.

Bean slithered out of the headlock and scrambled to his feet. Phil warily faced him. Bean tucked in his chin and swung a punch into Phil’s jaw.

Phil ducked and delivered an uppercut to Bean’s gut. The tall man doubled over and Phil grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back.

Too bad, it looked like Bean was going to win for a minute there, Lulu mused.

Phil held Bean’s arm at an unnatural angle. “Yield,” he growled.

“Never!” Bean spat.

Lulu rolled her eyes. Couldn’t Bean see he was beaten?

Phil twisted Bean’s arm even more and Bean cried out as his arm popped. Lulu cringed when she saw his shoulder had become dislocated.

Phil let go of Bean and the other man fell to his knees, holding his shoulder gingerly. An enraged woman, probably one of the competitors’ wives, stepped forward.

Lulu couldn’t hear what she was saying as the onlookers began talking all at once. But she watched as the woman popped Bean’s shoulder back into place.

Lulu shivered and decided she’d better find the other things on Granny’s list and head home. She finished her milk and left the tavern.

As she walked among the tents, a table with a necklace caught her eye. She walked over to it and saw it was a snowflake necklace.

Lulu remembered how much Granny loved snow. After the first snowfall, Granny would spend hours alone in it. She often told Lulu how much she loved snow and winter.

Lulu decided to get the necklace for her with the money left over from the fabric. She cleared her throat and the merchant tending the tent approached her.

“Can I help you?” he asked. He was a kindly man with a rotund stomach and a balding head.

“How much is this necklace?” Lulu asked.

“That’s pure, magic ice there,” the merchant said. “It was taken directly from the Palace of Snow.”

Lulu gasped. The Palace of Snow had been Snow White’s domain until the Sister had gone missing almost ten years ago. “How did you get it?” Lulu asked reverently.

The merchant winked at her. “One can’t reveal all of one’s secrets,” he replied. “And to answer your question, it is one silver.”

Lulu winced. She would have to be frugal buying the items on her list of she got the necklace, but… Granny would love it. “I’ll take it,” Lulu announced, handing the merchant twenty copper coins that equaled one silver.

The merchant handed her the necklace. “Enjoy,” he told her.

Lulu shot him a smile as she went to buy food supplies. After she bought them, she paid a village boy to deliver them to Granny’s cottage the next day so she wouldn’t have to carry everything. Half an hour later, she was heading home through the Dark Woods so she wouldn’t be stopped by the Toll Bridge Troll.

Granny is going to love this necklace, she thought proudly.

(Continue Lulu’s adventure with Timeless book 1 of the Timeless Chronicles.)

[][] Palace of Snow

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

(This short story happens after the defeat of Genie and before Pan and Aurora’s wedding)

 

Lulu halted her horse, a pretty copper-colored mare. Daniel stopped his gelding behind her.

“Is something wrong, Lu?” he asked.

Lulu smiled wryly as she stared up at the Icicle Mountains where the sun shone off of the ice castle that stood on the tallest peak. “I just wish I’d known Granny better as Snow White, the Snow Queen,” she said softly.

Daniel didn’t say anything. He nudged his horse passed Lulu’s and shot her a comforting smile. “You’ll learn more at the palace then by just staring at it from a distance,” he teased.

Lulu rolled her eyes, but she smiled as she kicked her mare into a gallop and shot passed Daniel. “Race you there!” she yelled.

Daniel shook his head as he urged his horse after her. “Cheater!” he yelled as he drew beside her.

Lulu grinned back at him and leaned over her horse’s neck, urging her faster. She glanced back and saw Daniel was catching up. Ahead, the Icicle Mountains loomed. Suddenly, something slammed into Lulu and threw her from her horse.

She curled into a ball and hit the ground, her whole body exploding in aching pain. Her magic took control and enveloped her in a cocoon, protecting her from further attack.

Once her vision cleared, she saw Daniel was being held to the ground by a… tiny man. Lulu rolled onto her feet and shot a burst of light magic at the man.

The attacker flew off Daniel and Daniel was able to restrain the man. Lulu hurried over to them, as fast as she could with all her joints aching.

“Who are you?” Daniel demanded.

“One of seven,” the man leered.

One of… oh! “Daniel, get back!” Lulu cried, but it was too late. A dozen darts flew out of nowhere and pricked Daniel on the arm.

Within seconds, the boy’s eyes rolled back and he collapsed, snoring gently. Lulu almost had time to raise up a magic shield, almost.

A dart made it passed her magic and stuck into her neck. She yanked it out as quickly as she could, but already she felt the effects of the poison worming through her body. Time slowed as Lulu fell toward the ground.

She saw six more small men enter her field of vision, looking grim and determined. Then she blacked out.

When Lulu came to, she was being jostled along on the back of a mountain pony. Her hands were tied behind her back and she was on her stomach across the pony’s saddle.

She grimaced as a particularly painful bounce jarred her already bruised bones. She closed her eyes and focused on the rope tying her hands. In a moment, her magic slithered into it and disintegrated it.

Lulu swung her leg over the pony’s back so she was sitting astride it. The little men, dwarves, she finally decided, were riding ponies alongside her. She saw Daniel was still unconscious, thrown over a pony’s back.

Lulu’s pony was being led by the dwarf that had captured them. Lulu yanked the reins out of his hands and kicked her pony forward.

“Hey!” the dwarf yelled, alerting his companions. “Wait, miss!”

Lulu rode beside Daniel and used her magic to lift him up and put him on her pony. The dwarves circled her slowly.

“We can explain, miss,” the lead dwarf said slowly, as if he was speaking to a spooked horse.

“Explain why you knocked me out and tied me up?” Lulu snarled. “No thanks.” She kicked her pony into a galloped and used her magic to create a wedge between the dwarves and escape. If she could make it to the Palace of Snow, she would be safe.

The dwarves didn’t try following her. But Lulu didn’t trust them, it had to be a trap. She urged her pony faster.

Daniel woke up after an hour of traveling up the mountain. He was groggy and didn’t remember anything that had happened after he fell unconscious. He seemed ashamed that Lulu had to defend herself and him.

He rode behind Lulu and soon, they arrived at the Palace of Snow. The immense castle was tall and graceful with arches and delicate carvings in the ice. The gate was huge, nearly five feet above the pony’s head.

Lulu shot a blast of magic into the gate and made it creak open. The courtyard went all the way around the palace. A smallish stable stood next to the gate.

Lulu and Daniel dismounted and left the pony in the stable. The double doors to the palace were tall and transparent.

Daniel pushed them opened, then rubbed his hands. “That’s cold ice,” he complained.

Lulu didn’t reply, she was staring at the palace. The main hall was long and could easily house a ball. An icy throne sat on a raised dais between two stairs was at the end of the room. Lulu guessed the stairs led to the other parts of the castle.

Lulu walked slowly toward the throne and touched it almost reverently. “This is where she sat, Daniel,” she choked. “She was a queen. How can I ever live up to her?”

Daniel put a hand on her shoulder as silent tears rolled down Lulu’s face.

In the month since Granny’s death, Lulu had come to accept that her beloved grandmother was gone. But seeing her palace and who she had been before she had taken Lulu into hiding, was awakening all Lulu’s grief once again.

“I miss her, Daniel.” Lulu put her head on his shoulder, glad for someone to hold her while she cried. “I miss Granny.”

“You are Queen Snow’s granddaughter?”

Lulu jerked around, magic surging to her hands.

“Wait, princess, we can explain,” the lead dwarf said, holding up his hands to show he had no weapons.

Lulu lowered her hands, but didn’t release her magic. “I’m listening,” she said tightly. She felt Daniel’s hand automatically go to his waist, but the dwarves had taken his sword when he had been unconsious.

“We were Queen Snow’s servants, and her friends,” the dwarf said as his companions joined him in a semicircle. “I am Sourpuss and my brothers are Luis, Henkid, Mithal, Conbrad, and Domnik.”

A dwarf cleared his throat pointedly from the back of the crowd.

“Oh, and that’s Jerry,” Sourpuss said.

Lulu didn’t move. “How do I know you’re not lying?” she asked.

“How do we know you’re not lying?” Sourpuss countered.

Lulu raised her magic.

“Fine!” Sourpuss grumbled. A frown descended on his face. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a key made of ice. “We have the key to the castle.”

Lulu’s eyes narrowed, she wasn’t ready to trust them just yet. But Daniel faced her. “I think we should give them a chance, Lu,” he said. “If we find out their lying, then you can use your magic on them.”

Lulu sighed and released her magic. “All right,” she said finally.

Sourpuss didn’t smile, but his perpetual frown lifted some. “I apologize for all of us when I say I’m sorry for attacking you. We thought you were robbers coming to loot the Palace of Snow since Queen Snow is gone.”

Lulu smiled sadly. “Thank you for protecting my grandmother’s things so fiercely.”

“It is our pleasure, princess,” Sourpuss said gruffly.

“We’ll give you a tour of the castle then,” a dwarf with a long blonde beard said brightly. Lulu thought his name was Mithal.

Lulu shrugged. “All right,” she said. She moved to follow the dwarf when a mountain of white fur exploded into the throne room, being dragged along by a large white wolf.

The wolf barked tremendously and ran right for Lulu. Just before it reached her, the wolf skidded to a halt and sank down onto its haunches, its tongue lolling comically.

Lulu smiled and scratched its ears. Then she looked beyond the wolf and saw the mountain of fur was a giant yeti.

He stood upright and had curling tusks coming from his mouth. His feet were as big as serving platters and shaped like elephant feet, although Lulu had never seen an elephant. His hands were surprisingly nimble as he unwrapped the wolf’s leash from around his hand.

“This is Avalanche, the wolf, and Frostbite, the yeti,” Mithal explained, not at all concerned that Lulu had almost been run over.

Frostbite cracked a grin, showing human like teeth. “You Lulu, kin of Queen Snow,” he said slowly.

Lulu blinked. “Yes, how did you know?”

“Yetis can sometimes be prophetic,” Mithal said. “But they aren’t very bright.”

Frostbite continued smiling, oblivious that the dwarf had insulted his race.

“Shall we continue the tour?” Mithal asked impatiently.

“Sure,” Lulu replied, standing up and following the dwarf. Avalanche and Frostbite persistently followed.

Daniel shot them a suspicious look, but Lulu thought they were cute.

“And these stairs lead to the guest wing,” Mithal began.

Three hours later, Lulu stood on the balcony in Snow White’s rooms on the highest peak. From the balcony, you could see passed the Icicle Mountains and into Ne-anlian. Lulu thought she could see Rapunzel’s Twisted Tower.

It made Lulu happy to imagine Snow White standing on the same balcony, watching over Ne-anlian.

“What do you think?” Daniel asked from inside the room. He had, predictably, declined to venture onto the balcony. Even from inside the room, he was looking a little pale.

“Of what?” Lulu asked, turning around.

Daniel spread his hands. “Your new castle.”

Lulu smiled wryly. “It will be different living here, without Granny and just the dwarves.”

“Just the dwarves?” Daniel said with a raised eyebrow.

“All right, the dwarves, Frostbite and Avalanche,” Lulu conceded.

“Just them?”

Lulu groaned. “Who else is there?”

“Me?” Daniel asked pointedly. “I’ve always wanted to be a butler.”

“No you haven’t,” Lulu said.

Daniel grinned. “No, I haven’t,” he admitted.

“Don’t you have somewhere to return to?”Lulu asked with a frown.

Daniel became quiet. “I don’t have a family or a village anymore,” he said.

“I’m sorry, Daniel, I wasn’t thinking,” Lulu apologized, walking over to him. Lulu’s mother, Cinderella, the ex-Evil Queen, under the influence of the evil being Genie, had destroyed Daniel’s home a year and a half ago. “Of course, you can stay with me, but you’ll have to ask Frostbite, he seems a little protective of me. And I don’t think he likes you.”

Daniel snorted. “That’s an understatement. He nearly crushed my skull when I tried hugging you.”

Lulu smiled at the memory. “Yes, I think I’ll like it here. I feel close to Granny.”

“You’ll love it here,” Daniel promised.

Lulu touched the snowflake pendant under her shirt. Yes, she would love the Palace of Snow.

(Continue Lulu and Daniel’s adventures with Timeless book 1 of the Timeless Chronicles.)

[][] Attack on Willowsford

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

(This short story occurs one year before the beginning of Timeless)

“Daniel Hodge!”

Daniel jerked awake and groaned. There was a crick in his neck from sleeping against a tree. His whole body ached from working in the forge that morning.

He blinked blearily. After a moment, he realized his master, Stevon, had called him. He groaned again. Daniel must have overslept during noonday meal, again.

He scrambled to his feet and staggered back to the village, Willowsford. In a moment, he crested a hill and came into sight of the town. The houses were scattered around a central town square with the town hall behind it.

Daniel jogged to the forge where Stevon was waiting, his beefy arms crossed angrily and a scowl on his face. Daniel passed him without a word and entered the forge.

He slipped on his apron and got to work. Stevon hovered over him like a storm cloud to make sure he didn’t run off again. After a few hours, Stevon drifted away and started working on his own pile of chores.

Daniel worked all day, sweating and toiling in the sweltering forge. When the sun finally began to set, Stevon approached him. “Daniel,” was all he said.

Daniel squared his shoulders. “I’m sorry, master,” he said humbly.

Stevon ruffled his hair. “Don’t do it again.” The hulking man turned and headed into his cottage that was connected to his forge.

Daniel went to his home, where his mother worked as a seamstress. His father had died resisting the Evil Queen when she had enraged the dragons into burning the land around the Castle of Glass.

Daniel’s father and a group of rebels had stormed the Evil Queen’s castle, protesting. The Queen had killed them without question. That had been nearly nine years ago. Since then, Daniel and his mother, Merva, had struggled by.

When Daniel had become apprenticed to the village blacksmith, it had been a blessing because smiths were generally well-paid and Daniel needed the money. But first, he had to complete the four years of apprenticeship, during which he didn’t make any money at all.

Stevon had been kind enough to let him stay with his mother when apprentices usually stayed with their master all through their apprenticeship. It allowed Daniel to make money in his spare time by being a village guard.

Daniel headed to the barracks and strapped on his sword. Though there was no wall around Willowsford, it was large enough to have a regular guard and since Daniel was fourteen he was old enough to be a guard.

His shift started when the sun went down and ended at midnight. It was a struggle keeping his eyes open. But his friend Lucus was on duty with him and they helped each other stay awake.

Lucus Markin was the son of a merchant who thought it was a boy’s duty to serve as a guard until he became a man when he turned eighteen. Lucus didn’t need to work to provide for his large family of ten. As the eldest, he was training with his father to be a merchant.

As soon as his shift was over, Daniel went home and collapsed onto his cot in the main room of their cottage. His mother had already gone to sleep, for that he was glad. She overworked her eyes by trying to sew late into the night and Daniel was worried she was losing her eyesight.

Daniel closed his eyes and instantly fell into a deep sleep.

The next day, Daniel awoke before sunrise and was at the forge just in the nick of time. By the light of the fire, he and Stevon worked, forging farm tools and mending broken tools that were brought to them.

At noon, Daniel went home to eat his noonday meal with his mother.

“Hello, Danny,” Merva called from her sewing room that doubled as her bedroom in their small, two-room cottage. She was the only one who ever called him Danny.

“Hey, Ma,” Daniel said, kissing Merva on the top of her head. “Where’s the food?”

“I left it on the table,” Merva replied, returning to her work.

“Thanks, Ma.” Daniel found his meal where on the table and wolfed it down like a ravenous beast. “Did you eat already, Ma?”

“No, I’ll get something later,” Merva called back.

Daniel knew what that meant. She was too busy to eat and had given her meal to Daniel.

Suddenly, the bell that hung from the town hall started ringing. Merva was in the kitchen in a flash and Daniel shot out of his chair. The alarm could mean only one thing, Willowsford was under attack.

Daniel dashed out the door and started toward the barracks.

“Wait, Danny!” Merva yelled, hitching up her skirts so she could run after him.

Daniel spun around. “Stay here, Ma!” he yelled.

Merva caught up to him and gripped him by his shoulders. “Danny, I can’t lose you too!” she said in a scared voice.

“I have to live up to Dad,” Daniel said softly.

“But he died, Danny,” Merva replied, even quieter.

Daniel shrugged off her hands. “It’s my duty, Ma.” He turned and sprinted to the barracks. He slipped on his sword and nodded to Lucus, who was beside him.

They followed the other guards out of the barracks and jogged to the town square. There Daniel’s heart stopped.

An inky black glass carriage pulled by matching black horses was in the town square. Two guards stood beside the carriage. Then the carriage door opened.

The town guards dropped their weapons when the Evil Queen herself stepped out of the carriage. Daniel steadied himself. This was the woman who murdered his father.

The Queen had a deadly aura around her that made grown men cringe. She was tall and regal with dark chocolate brown curls and dangerous eyes. She wore a midnight blue dress with long, wide sleeves.

“Put down your weapons,” the Queen said in a silky voice.

The town guards immediately obeyed, but Daniel stubbornly kept hold of his sword. The Queen’s chilling eyes swept to him.

“What is your name, boy?” she asked.

“Daniel Hodge,” Daniel said proudly.

“Hodge,” the Queen murmured. “That sounds familiar.”

“He was my father,” Daniel growled. “You murdered him.”

The Queen waved her hand airily. “Now I will kill you. Like father, like son, I suppose.”

“Wait, don’t!” Merva threw herself before Daniel. “You can kill me, but don’t kill my son, please.”

The Queen arched a delicate eyebrow. “The complete set of Hodges, I see. Well, you’ll be joining the elder Hodge quite soon.”

“No!” Daniel pushed passed his mother and swung his sword at the Queen.

The Evil Queen calmly touched the sword tip before it could touch her and the sword turned to glass and shattered. She stepped forward and touched Daniel’s chest with the tip of her finger.

A force gripped Daniel from the inside out and he couldn’t move a muscle. The Queen moved around him and left him there.

“You see, I need lifeforce magic to grow stronger so that I can defeat those wretched Sisters of mine,” The Queen explained to the town. “It’s nothing personal, you understand.”

Daniel couldn’t see, but he heard the screams of Lucus, his mother, Stevon, and the whole town, as the Queen stole their lives away. Then she returned to him.

“Do you like necklaces?” the Queen asked, holding up a Charm.

Daniel’s eye widened. If she put the Charm on him, she would be able to control him. He fruitlessly tried to struggle.

“You know what this is then, good.” The Queen slipped the Charm over his head. “I hope you like lions, Daniel Hodge.”

Daniel’s vision darkened and he felt himself falling to the ground. In moments, he had huge paws, a golden mane, and wicked sharp claws. A roar was ripped from his throat. He was a pawn to the Evil Queen. Ne-anlian needs a savior! Somebody help me!

(Continue Daniel’s adventures with Timeless book 1 of the Timeless Chronicles.)

[][] Of Mothers and Daughters

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

(This occurs after the defeat of Genie, but before Pan and Aurora’s wedding)

Lulu, dressed in a tattered dress and boots, bumped into the Wolf King as she hurried down a hallway in the Castle of Glass. “Sorry, excuse me,” she mumbled, not looking at the werewolf king.

The Wolf King put a hand on her shoulder to keep her from rushing off. “What’s wrong, Lulu?” he asked sternly.

Lulu froze like a startled rabbit before the werewolf. “What?” she squeaked. “Nothing’s wrong, don’t be silly.” She chuckled nervously.

The Wolf King rolled his eyes and gave her a hard stare.

Lulu cracked under the pressure. “Fine!” she gasped. “Cinderella wants to talk to me.”

The Wolf King raised an eyebrow. “And this is a problem because…?”

“I don’t know what to say to her!” Lulu exclaimed. “She’s my mother, but I don’t know her at all, and to top it all off, I was the one who came here intent on defeating her! How awkward is that?”

“You’re never going to get to know her if you don’t talk to her,” the Wolf King pointed out reasonably.

“I know,” Lulu groaned. She paused and looked at the werewolf. “Would you talk to her with me?” she asked sweetly.

The Wolf King held up his hand. “No. I’m not getting involved in this any more then I already am.”

“But you’re already involved,” Lulu pointed out. “Why don’t you help a friend out?” Lulu gave him a pleading look.

The Wolf King’s eyes narrowed. “No, Lulu,” he said firmly.

“Fine,” Lulu sighed. “Wish me luck.” She turned and headed to Cinderella’s rooms.

“I wish you the best of luck,” the Wolf King said sarcastically.

Lulu rolled her eyes. “Thanks for your help, Archie.” She darted into another corridor before the werewolf could get mad about her using his nickname.

She found Cinderella’s rooms without any trouble and she paused outside the door, her hand poised to knock. Suddenly, the door was yanked open and Cinderella pulled her daughter inside. The Sister put a hand over Lulu’s mouth.

“Don’t say a word,” Cinderella hissed.

Lulu’s eyes widened. Had Genie come back and taken control of her mother again?

Cinderella stood and listened intently. Lulu heard footsteps outside the door. Cinderella bolted into a broom closet, dragging Lulu with.

They heard the door open and someone walk inside. “Ella!” Lulu recognized her father, Prince Charming’s voice.

Lulu was about to step out of the closet, but Cinderella pulled her back and held a finger to her lips. Lulu raised an eyebrow quizzically.

“Ella, are you in here?” Charming asked. Lulu heard him moving about the room. After a moment, he walked out and closed the door.

Cinderella breathed a sigh of relief. Lulu was flabbergasted. “What was that all about?” she demanded.

“Sorry, Lulu,” Cinderella said, helping Lulu out of the closet. “Charming wants to go over tax records for the past ten years.” She shuddered theatrically.

Lulu laughed. “For a minute, I thought you were possessed.”

“Believe me, if you had to go over tax records, you would wish you were possessed,” Cinderella groaned. She pulled Lulu into a hug. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

Lulu shrugged, her anxiousness returning. “I don’t know. You’re the one who wanted to talk in the first place.”

“I thought there might be something in particular you might want to know.”

Lulu shook her head. “Nothing comes to mind.”

After a pause, Cinderella said, “How about we go for a ride. Some air would be nice.”

Lulu shrugged. “Sounds good.”

Ten minutes later, Lulu was astride a pretty copper-colored mare. Cinderella was beside her on a flashy gray dappled gelding. They were silent as they rode out of the castle and surrounding town.

“So, how are you adjusting to your new life?” Lulu asked slowly.

Cinderella smiled wryly. “I don’t know. Everything is different. I want to adjust, I really do, but it’s hard. Which is why I asked to speak with you.”

“Oh?” Lulu said noncommittally.

“I was hoping you could help me adjust,” Cinderella said with a beautiful smile.

“How?”

“I want to get to know you, Lulu,” Cinderella said earnestly. “You are my daughter, I love you and I apologize for all the pain I caused you and Snow.”

Lulu blinked rapidly. “Granny didn’t blame you, and neither do I. It was Genie’s fault, not your’s.” A tear rolled down Lulu’s cheek.

“You don’t know how much that means to me, Lulu.” Cinderella leaned over and hugged Lulu cautiously.

Lulu squeezed her mother tightly and dried her tears. “I love you too, Mom,” Lulu whispered, remembering a time when she thought she would never be able to say that. Love was such a simple word, but it means so much.

Cinderella patted her back before Lulu straightened and urged her horse forward. Cinderella followed her and they meandered toward a grassy knoll.

“Lulu,” Cinderella said with a sly smile.

Lulu turned in her saddle to face her mother. “What?” she asked slowly.

“How is your friend… Daniel, is it?” Cinderella asked pointedly.

Lulu raised an eyebrow. “Yes, his name is Daniel. Why?”

“Because I want you to know, Lulu, I approve of him.”

Lulu’s jaw dropped. “Mom, he’s just a friend,” she protested.

“So was Charming, at one point,” Cinderella said dreamily.

Lulu sighed and turned her horse back to the castle. She looked over her shoulder. “I’ll race you!” she yelled, kicking her placid mare into a canter.

Cinderella laughed and urged her gelding after Lulu. They raced back to the castle, the wind in their hair and a smile on their lips.

(Continue Lulu’s adventures with Timeless, book 1 of the Timeless Chronicles.)

[][] In the Name of a Wolf

Grace Anthony

Published by AnthonyBooks

Copyright 2016 by Grace Anthony

(This short story happens years before the rise of the Evil Queen)

#
h3<{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 1

Cinderella, or Ella, as she was more commonly known, shivered in her thick dark blue dress. She was standing in the throne room of the Palace of Snow. At the end of hall stood an icy throne with two curving staircases on either side.

Ella shifted impatiently as she waited for her friend, Rapunzel. Rapunzel was part of Snow White, Ella’s mother’s, group of sorceresses called the Sisters. Ariel and Aurora were also part of their group.

Ella and Rapunzel were going to Helioncity, an island country off Ne-anlian’s coast. Rapunzel wanted to visit her friend Duchess who lived there. Ella had offered to accompany her because, to be honest, Ella was a teenager and she was bored with court life at the Palace of Snow.

The only creatures that lived in Snow White’s dominion, the Icicle Mountains, were yetis, wolves, werebears, and dwarves. Needless to say, they weren’t much for company.

Ella glanced up the curving staircases. Snow White and Rapunzel were gracefully descending the icy steps.

Snow looked too young to have a daughter Ella’s age, which was seventeen. She had pure white hair, flawless skin, and eyes that looked like chips of pure ice. She wore a dress with wide sleeves lined with fur and a high collar with a sweeping skirt. Her hair was swept up in a tight, formal bun.

Rapunzel wore a light purple skirt with a black shirt that had a low collar. Over her shoulders was a brown fur-lined cloak because, unlike Snow, she wasn’t immune to the cold. Her long golden braid swept the ground behind her and her eyes were a soft forest green color, like new spring grass.

Ella suddenly felt self-conscious in the presence of such regal women. She tugged on her skirt and bit her lip. What if Rapunzel had changed her mind and didn’t want Ella to go with her?

Rapunzel flashed the girl a smile. “Are you ready?” she asked.

Ella nodded, gesturing to her one bag at her feet. She liked to travel light and didn’t want to be bogged down by unnecessary luggage.

“Snow has decided to send us to Helioncity the easy way, as snow,” Rapunzel announced.

Ella looked up. “Are you sure, Mother? Helioncity is quite a ways away.”

Snow’s eyes looked sharp, but her mouth was soft. Ella was never sure what her mother was feeling. “I can manage, if that’s what you’re asking,” Snow said gently.

Ella bit her lip more. Had she offended Snow?

“Well, I’m ready when you are, Snow,” Rapunzel said, hefting her two bags. She obviously had the same inclination as Ella to pack light.

“Your ‘friend’ won’t be coming?” Snow asked teasingly.

Rapunzel blushed. “He is currently occupied with his kingly duties.”

Ella looked at her curiously. Did Rapunzel have a boyfriend? Who was a king?!

Snow caught Ella’s gaze and winked. Snow’s husband was away visiting his brother, the Woodcutter, in the forest. Snow was currently the only married Sister. But Ella didn’t think it would be long before Ariel and her pirate beau tied the knot.

“All right then,” Snow said, taking a step back. She raised her hands, preparing to use her magic. “Good-bye, Cinderella, I’ll miss you.”

“I love you too, Mother,” Ella said, standing next to Rapunzel.

Snow released a flurry of snowflakes on the two sorceresses. Ella felt an intense cold creep up her body as she dissolved into snow flurries. Her world turned black and she let the magic sweep her away.

#
h3<>{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 2

Ella and Rapunzel were transported to Helioncity’s capitol, the closest Snow could get them to Duchess. Castle Helion was set in the northern part of the country and was ruled by King Hector the Fifth. His lovely, fifteen-year-old daughter, Aria, was to be queen after him.

Duchess was a wealthy lady, who had a sizable chunk of land outside Castle Helion. Ella and Rapunzel reformed from snow just outside the castle walls.

Rapunzel shook her head and touched her temples with a groan. “Brain freeze,” she grunted.

Ella, who had more experience with snow transport, wasn’t as effected and recovered quickly. She grabbed her bag and rifled through it to make sure everything had reformed correctly. When she had finished checking, she straightened. “How do we get to Duchess’s estate?” she asked Rapunzel who had also recovered by now.

Rapunzel looked up. “We’ll hitch a ride with a farmer or merchant. Until then, we’ll walk.”

Ella stifled a groan. She wasn’t big on physical exertion. “Mother couldn’t have transported a couple horses,” she grumbled.

Rapunzel grinned at Ella. “You’ll be fine without your beloved horses,” she promised. “Now, let’s start walking.”

“Slave driver,” Ella accused.

“Sticks and stones,” Rapunzel replied good-naturedly.

Ella shook her head and heaved up her bag and began following Rapunzel down the dirt road.

Luckily, a kindly farmer took pity on Ella and they were able to ride in his hay cart the rest of the way to Duchess’s estate. The estate was a sprawling acreage that grew hay and wheat and raised horses and cattle. The manor was three stories tall with a roofed, wraparound porch. The windows were clean glass framed with red. The door was red, a startling contrast to the white siding.

A gardener was weeding a large garden on one side of the house. Two maids were hanging clothes out to dry on a line and another was carrying carrots in a basket from the garden to the house.

As Rapunzel and Ella approached, a larger woman in a tent-like rose-patterned dress burst out of the house followed by a swarm of cats. “Zellie!” the woman squealed. She flew down the steps and wrapped Rapunzel in a bear hug.

Ella stood awkwardly by their side.

When Duchess had finished greeting Rapunzel, she turned sharp green eyes on Ella. She had a bun of caramel hair with streaks of gray. “You must be the Cinderella I’ve heard so much about,” Duchess said.

Ella curtsied. “Yes, my lady, I am Ella.”

Duchess stared at her for a moment, then she burst out laughing. “I like her, Zellie,” she roared. “Me, a lady? Not hardly.”

Ella raised an eyebrow, she was beginning to see that.

Rapunzel smiled. “Duchie, could we get settled in our rooms? Ella’s been walking since Castle Helion,” Rapunzel said with a wink at Ella.

Ella shook her head, her cheeks burning.

“Of course!” Duchess cried. “I’ll have my maid Larie show you to them.”

A small red-haired girl peeked around the door of the house. She had a mousey demeanor to her, but she wasn’t timid. She bounded out to greet the guests. She curtsied elegantly. “I’m Larie,” she said with the distinctive Helioncity accent.

“Pleased,” Ella greeted. “I’m Ella and this is Rapunzel.”

Larie raised an eyebrow at Rapunzel. “That’s quite a name,” she said bluntly.

The corners of Rapunzel’s lips twitched. “It means ‘magic-haired’,” she explained.

Larie frowned. “You’re hair’s magic?” she asked quizzically.

Rapunzel nodded. “I have healing magic.”

Larie turned to Ella. “Do you have magic too?” she asked.

Ella nodded. “My name, Cinderella, means ‘glass-maker.’ Every sorcerer and sorceress are given a magic name when their magic is shaped.”

“So you have glass magic?”

Ella nodded again.

“That isn’t very useful,” Larie stated.

“Larie!” Duchess rebuked.

Ella grinned, happy to show off her magic. “No, it’s all right, my lady. Larie just wants to see what I can do, don’t you?”

Larie nodded eagerly.

Ella drew on the magic within her and focused on one thing. She closed her eyes and shoved her magic out, directing it to what she wanted it to do. She heard a pop and opened her eyes.

Larie gasped in delight and twirled around in her newly made glass slippers. Her bright green eyes gleamed and she looked at Ella respectfully. “Thank you, Miss Cinderella,” she said.

Ella inclined her head. “You’re welcome. But, please, call me just Ella.”

Larie’s lips quirked up. “All right, Just Ella.”

Ella sighed inwardly. This girl was a handful.

“All right, Larie,” Duchess interrupted. “Show our guests to their rooms now.”

Larie curtsied and bounded into the house. Rapunzel and Ella hastily followed with their bags. Ella had a large, comfortable room with a canopied bed and dresser with a washstand. It had two large windows overlooking the estate.

Ella unpacked her dresses and hung them in the closet. She formed a mirror out of magic and propped it against the wall. She changed out of her dusty dress and put on an elegant light blue gown with a loose gold belt that hung low on her hips. It had a low collar, but not immodestly so, and long, wide sleeves.

She quickly braided her hair and tied it up on her head. She wore nice boots that hid a secret dagger. Once she was all ready, she went to find Rapunzel.

The sorceress had also changed and was waiting outside Ella’s room with Larie. “Are you hungry?” Rapunzel asked.

“Yes, but it’s only sun-high,” Ella said with a frown.

Larie laughed. “So? We eat at dawn, sun-high, and sunset.”

Ella thought about that. In Ne-anlian, meals were served three hours after sunrise, sun-high, and sunset. But Helioncity was a land of hard-working farmers and ranchers who got up in the early hours before sunrise. So Ella figured they ate sooner then Ne-anlians.

“Come, I’ll show you to the kitchen,” Larie said, taking the lead.

Ella frowned. “Shouldn’t we eat in the dining room?” she asked.

Larie laughed. “I forgot you Ne-anlians called your kitchens dining rooms.”

“No, we don’t,” Ella began to protest, but Rapunzel cut her off.

“What Larie means is their dining room is called the kitchen,” she explained.

The kitchen, as Larie called it, was on the first floor. There was a long table with lots of chairs and a roaring fireplace. A huge glass window that nearly covered all of one wall, showed an amazing view of the lands.

Ella and Rapunzel were seated on Duchess’s left and right at the end of the table. The table quickly filled up with farm-workers and maids. Ella was surprised to see the hired servants ate with their employer.

Seeing Ella’s look of surprise, Duchess explained. “All Helioncitians eat with their servants. It shows we respect their hard work and are willing to share their struggles and the fruits of their labor.”

Ella nodded. Perhaps Ne-anlian should start doing this. The Sisters and the ruling Quad were the wealthiest in Ne-anlian, the only ones with servants. Ella was sure she could convince them to treat their servants kindly.

Ella lost track of the conversation when the food was brought in. Crispy chicken, mashed potatoes, deliciously buttered corn, fresh, hot bread, beans, glazed ham, salad, and spiced asparagus. For desert, the servants brought out one dish, a large three layered chocolate cake. Ella’s mouth watered at the mere sight of it. Conversations ceased as the diners dug into the moist cake.

When everyone was finished, Ella had a new appreciation for Duchess’s considerable size.

Rapunzel leaned back in her chair, looking full. “As always, you outdo yourself, Duchie. That was a magnificent meal.”

Duchess looked pleased. “It was not my doing. My cook has a magic touch.”

“Give her my thanks,” Rapunzel said, covering her mouth with her hand to conceal a burp.

“I would like to see the stables, if I may, this afternoon,” Ella announced. “I’ve heard they are the finest this side of Castle Helion.”

Duchess blushed. “I do love my animals,” she admitted, absently stroking a cat on her lap. “Of course you may visit them. If you wish, you can ask a groom to saddle a horse for you.”

“That would be wonderful,” Ella said, barely containing her delight. “Thank you, my lady.”

Duchess smiled softly. “Call me Duchess, if you will.”

Ella returned her smile. She was going to enjoy her visit to Helioncity.

#
h3<>{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 3

Ella was enjoying Duchess’s estate three weeks later. She ate breakfast in her room every morning because she never woke up early enough to eat in the dining room. After that, she would visit with Duchess or play with Duchess’s horde of cats. She would occupy her morning by learning to crochet with Duchess. After a communal lunch, she would go riding and see the town of Castle Helion. And finally, she would eat dinner and read in the good-size library.

She saw Rapunzel at meals and in the library where they talked. They had grown close over the course of their stay at the estate. They practiced magic together or read novels companionably.

One day, Ella was summoned to the drawing room after breakfast. Rapunzel and Duchess were already there, seated on the floral couches. There was also a stranger. He was tall and dark-haired, too dark-haired to be a Helioncitian. He had piercing green eyes and well-toned muscles and he dressed nicely, so Ella guessed he was from Ne-anlian.

She curtsied as Rapunzel introduced her. “This is Cinderella,” Rapunzel said in a strange voice.

The man inclined his head. “Well met, Ella.” He stepped toward her and leaned toward her ear.

Ella instinctively shrank back, but Rapunzel reassured her with an encouraging smile. She braced herself as the man whispered his true name into her ear. Ella’s eyes widened and she deepened her curtsy. “My lord,” she said, almost reverently.

“It’s all right, Ella,” Rapunzel said. “The Wolf King doesn’t stand on formality.”

Still, Ella bowed her head. “Well met, Wolf King.”

The Wolf King’s lips curled upward in a feral smile. He sat down on a couch and gestured for Ella to do the same. Ella complied.

“The Wolf King is here to escort us home,” Rapunzel explained. “Snow is occupied with dealing with a band of robbers and can’t transport us back.”

“How will we travel?” Ella asked.

“Duchess has graciously agreed to sell two horses to us,” Rapunzel replied. “We’ll use them to travel to the coast. From there, the Jolly Roger will take us to the Castle of the Sea Witch.”

Ella nodded. The Jolly Roger was Captain Hook, who was Ariel’s beau’s, ship and the Castle of the Sea Witch was Ariel’s castle. She could visit Ariel then.

“When do we leave?” Ella asked.

“Tomorrow,” the Wolf King said, his voice deep. He looked at Rapunzel, who blushed.

The pieces clicked in Ella’s mind. The Wolf King was Rapunzel’s boyfriend! Ella gaped at Rapunzel, who blushed. Duchess noticed the exchange, but didn’t mention it.

“What do you do in Ne-anlian?” she asked the Wolf King.

The Wolf King’s eyes narrowed as he thought. “I rule the werehumans and animals,” he replied slowly.

“But not the merfolk?” Duchess clarified.

The Wolf King shook his head. “They are Queen Ariel’s responsibility.”

Duchess nodded. “Do you have a castle, my lord?”

The Wolf King’s lips curled up. Ella wasn’t sure if it was a smile or sneer. “No,” he said. “I live with my people in the wilds.”

Larie entered the room, her head ducked shyly. “Would you like me to show you to your rooms now, milord?” she asked bashfully.

Ella groaned inwardly. The maid was smitten! Ella caught Rapunzel openly glaring at the girl.

The Wolf King either didn’t notice the tense women in the room or he just didn’t care. He winked at Rapunzel before turning to Larie. “Yes, I’d like that, miss…?”

Larie giggled girlishly. “Larie, milord.”

The Wolf King got to his feet with a wolfish ease. He inclined his head to Duchess and kissed Rapunzel’s forehead before following Larie out of the room.

Rapunzel looked triumphant, but she tried to keep it from showing.

Duchess raised an eyebrow at the sorceress. “Are you two…?” she asked pointedly.

Rapunzel blushed and cleared her throat. “Yes, we are,” she replied, almost haughtily.

Ella rolled her eyes behind Rapunzel’s back at Duchess. Duchess grinned at her, stroking a large charcoal gray tom cat on her lap.

“Well,” Rapunzel said, getting to her feet. “I’d better go pack.”

“Larie could do that for you, Zellie,” Duchess offered.

Rapunzel frowned at the mention of the lovesick maid. “No,” she said thoughtfully. “I believe I’ll do it myself.” She swept out of the room without another word.

Ella and Duchess exchanged glances. “Do you think you’ll need a chaperon?” Duchess asked.

Ella couldn’t help smiling. “No, I’ll be with them,” she said.

Duchess had a sly smile. “Do you have a beau?” she asked coyly.

Ella choked. “No, thank you!” she cried. “I don’t want to marry,” she said firmly.

Duchess gave her a look that said, ‘I’ll believe that when I see it.’

Ella rolled her eyes and stood. “I’d better go pack as well, my lady.”

Duchess set her cat aside and stood as well. “I’ll miss you, Ella,” she said kindly. “You’ll have to visit again.”

Ella nodded. “I’ll miss you too, my lady.”

Duchess heaved a sigh. “Will you ever call me just Duchess?” she asked in exasperation.

Ella’s lips quirked up slyly. “Of course, Just Duchess.”

Duchess groaned. “I knew Larie was a bad influence for you.”

Ella turned away as Duchess attempted to playfully slap her. She darted up the stairs, laughing. She hurried to get to her packing.

#
h3<>{color:#000;}. [] *Chapter 4*

Ella, Rapunzel, and the Wolf King left early the next morning, as the sun was just beginning to rise. Already the farm workers were up and eating breakfast. The grooms were exercising the horses before brushing them and feeding them. The cooks were bustling around, getting a meal prepared.

They ate breakfast with Duchess and went to the courtyard by the stables. Two magnificent horses were brought out. One was a dappled gelding and the other was a copper-colored mare. Ella and Rapunzel’s bags were strapped to the horses’ saddles.

Ella looked around with a frown. “Where is the Wolf King’s horse?” she asked.

Rapunzel grinned at her. “He prefers to travel as himself,” she said mysteriously.

Ella raised an eyebrow at her. What was she talking about?

Suddenly, the Wolf King began to change. His fur robe changed into actual fur and his hands widened, turning into paws. His face elongated, becoming a wolf’s snout. A tail formed and a moment later, Ella was facing a large gray-black wolf that nearly came up to her chest.

Ella took an involuntary step backward. “You didn’t tell me he was an actual werewolf,” she said slightly accusatory, to Rapunzel.

Rapunzel grinned. “Oops.” She turned to Duchess. “Thanks for having us, Duchie. I had a great time.”

“Come back soon, Zellie,” Duchess said, enveloping Rapunzel in an enormous bear hug.

“We will,” Ella promised. She gave Larie a quick hug, leaving the girl shocked. “Be good, don’t get too mischievous without me,” she said.

Larie grinned. “I can’t help it, Miss Ella.”

Ella smiled back at her and mounted the copper mare. She waved to Duchess as Rapunzel mounted and they set off. The Wolf King loped beside them.

They cut across Duchess’s fields, greeting the workers as they went. It took all day to reach the edge of Duchess’s estate. They set up camp for the night by a small stream. Rapunzel revealed a stock of home cooked food, courtesy of Duchess’s cooks.

Ella made a glass tent and slept in it with Rapunzel. The Wolf King stayed in wolf form and prowled the edge of their camp, keeping watch.

Ella gazed at the stars. She didn’t see any she recognized from Ne-anlian. Larie had shown her a few stars during her visit, but Ella couldn’t find them without her help. Finally, Ella drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, they ate fried eggs, crispy bacon, and biscuits. Ella brushed her mare, whom she’d named Thistle, for her prickly personality. Then they set off.

Ella was enjoying the ride. The sun shone on her, not too hot, but pleasantly warm. Thistle was in a good mood and walked with a bounce.

The Wolf King jogged beside them, occasionally darting away to chase a rabbit or bird. Once he caught a pheasant and they ate it for their sun-high meal. They continued traveling after they ate.

Suddenly, the Wolf King stopped and the horses nickered uneasily. He lifted his muzzle to the air and growled low in his throat. “There’s magic in the air,” he warned.

“Rapunzel and I both have magic,” Ella said easily. “Are you sure you’re not just smelling us?”

“No,” Rapunzel said. “I can sense it too.”

Ella reached out and felt Rapunzel’s aura and the the Wolf King’s, but there was another, she realized. “It’s dark,” Ella said in a low voice.

Rapunzel nodded, turning in her saddle to look around. She tensed. “To the east, behind us,” she said quietly.

Ella slowly turned around. Behind them there was a mound in the long grass and clumps of rocks. Ella squinted. “Wolf King,” she said warningly.

The wolf snarled and leaped forward as a bolt of magic shot out of the clump.

“No!” Rapunzel screamed, yanking her horse around.

Thistle reared, spooked by the sudden movement, and Ella slid off her back with a thump. The air was knocked from her lungs and she lay there, trying to breath. She gasped, sucking in a great lungful of air, and sat up. Rapunzel was kneeling by the Wolf King’s side, who was slumped over in the grass.

Rapunzel’s shoulders were shaking. No… Was he… dead?

Ella scrambled to Rapunzel’s side. There were tears streaking down the Sister’s face as she cried noiselessly.

Ella put an arm around her shoulder. “Can you heal him?” she asked softly.

Rapunzel looked at her, her eyes bright and shinning. She threw back her head and laughed, long and loudly. Ella was completely bewildered. Had she gone mad?

Then Ella looked at the Wolf King. His chest was moving steadily up and down. He was alive, but…

“What happened to him?” Ella demanded.

“There was a… witch,” Rapunzel gasped between fits of laughter. “She cast a spell… and made him… bald!” At this, Rapunzel burst out laughing again.

Ella pressed her lips together to keep from doing the same. The wolf before her was completely bald. His skin was soft and pink, like a newborn’s. Finally, Ella couldn’t hold it in any longer. She burst out laughing. She fell on her back in the grass and howled.

The noise roused the Wolf King. He looked groggily at Rapunzel, who tried, unsuccessfully, to keep a straight face. “What happened?” he asked.

Rapunzel turned away, unable to speak.

The Wolf King scrambled to his paws, worry etched on his face. “What’s wrong?” he growled. “Where did the witch go?” He turned to Ella. “Explain,” he ordered.

Ella shook her head, her shoulders heaving with barely contained laughter.

Suddenly, the Wolf King realized something was different. He looked at himself and howled in shock. He leaped five feet into the air and bounded into the grass, trying to conceal himself.

A moment later, he transformed and stepped out of the grass, fully clothed. His cheeks were suspiciously red and he had to clear his throat twice. “Well,” he said. “That was…”

“Hilarious!” Rapunzel roared.

The Wolf King glared at her. “Undignified, is more appropriate,” he said.

Ella finally got control of her mirth and she got to her feet. “Where did the witch run off to?” she asked.

Rapunzel shrugged, breathing deeply. “I was a bit occupied when I saw the Wolf King.” Her lips twitched uncontrollably and once again she burst out laughing at the memory.

Ella tried, she really did, but it was no use. Soon she was rolling on the ground with Rapunzel.

The Wolf King heaved an exasperated sigh. “You two are incorrigible,” he grumbled.

The two Sisters finally got their senses back and they got to their feet. But their eyes still shined with humor. Ella looked around and sighed. “Thistle ran away,” she said.

“She’ll be heading home,” the Wolf King said. “No need to worry about her.”

Ella shrugged. “I’m not, but now I’ll have to ride with Rapunzel.”

“Come on, Zellie!” the Wolf King called to Rapunzel.

“What’s the hurry?” Rapunzel asked.

“We’re going after the witch, of course,” the Wolf King said with a glare that would take no arguments.

Ella smiled. “It’ll be an adventure, but,” she said with a frown. “Why do you want to find this witch?”

“So she can remove her curse, of course.” He rolled his eyes as if to say, ‘everyone’s a moron.’ “Now, let’s get moving.”

Rapunzel and Ella exchanged glances, but there was no questioning the Wolf King. They mounted the remaining horse and set off. Seeing as he couldn’t possibly ride with the girls, the Wolf King reluctantly transformed. Ella and Rapunzel nearly fell off their horse with laughter.

The Wolf King pointedly ignored them as he picked up the witch’s scent. Soon they were traveling quickly south.

#
h3<>{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 5

The Wolf King led them south all of that day. As they camped that night, Ella questioned their strategy. “So we’re just hoping to somehow catch up to the witch, who are known for being fast travelers, and ask her nicely to remove her spell on the Wolf King?”

The Wolf King bared his teeth in human form. “No, I won’t be asking nicely.”

Rapunzel shrugged. “She does have a point, Archibald.”

The Wolf King turned to her slowly. “What?”

Rapunzel covered her mouth in horror. “I meant Wolf King,” she said hurried.

“But why did you say Archibald?” the Wolf King asked slowly. Apparently, he did everything slowly when he was angry.

Rapunzel slumped, defeated. “I’ve been calling you Archibald in my head since… it happened. Because, you know, Archi-bald,” she said, leaving the others no doubt as to what she meant.

The Wolf King sighed for such a long time, Ella was sure he would pass out from lack of oxygen. He slowly turned his back to the girls and set about methodically rotating their meal of pheasant legs.

Ella and Rapunzel exchanged glances. “What about just Archie?” Ella asked cautiously. “We can’t call you Wolf King all the time.”

The Wolf King didn’t reply.

Ella shrugged at Rapunzel, she’d tried.

Rapunzel made a pleading look at Ella. Try again, she mouthed. Ella sighed. What she did for her friends.

“So, Archie,” Ella began.

The Wolf King didn’t budge.

Ella gave Rapunzel a look, but continued. “I was wondering how you and Rapunzel met…”

Rapunzel gave Ella a horrified look that said, ‘now you’ve done it.’

The Wolf King slowly turned around and looked at Ella. A grin spread across his face that was slightly evil. “Are you sure you want to know?” he asked deviously.

“No! She doesn’t!” Rapunzel burst out, pushing her way in front of Ella.

The Wolf King smirked. “I wasn’t asking you,” he said calmly. “Do you, Ella?”

Ella lips twitched into a smile. “Yes, I do,” she said primly, going to sit beside the Wolf King.

The Wolf King grinned. “I like you, Cinderella,” he said. Then he began the story, while Rapunzel groaned. “I was visiting my lands in the forest with my werewolf comrades, Nightshade and Dragonbane, when I heard a damsel in distress call for help.”

Rapunzel moaned loudly to voice her reluctance to hear the tale.

The Wolf King went on heedless, but Ella saw a gleam of amusement in his eyes. “Of course, we went to check it out and we found a maiden with very, very, very long golden hair. We were astonished at the amount of hair the maiden had.”

“All right!” Rapunzel cried. “Might I add that you were wounded in a scuffle with a werebear and were limping along on three legs.”

The Wolf King shrugged. “You may add it, thank you. I almost forgot about my heroic battle scar.”

Rapunzel groaned and flopped down face first on the grass. “You’re hopeless,” she said, her voice muffled.

“The poor, fair maiden with extremely long hair had her foot caught in a gopher hole and had unfortunately sprained her ankle,” the Wolf King continued. “We helped her out of the hole and in gratitude, she healed my injury with her exceedingly long hair. But for some reason, she was unable to heal her own injury.”

Ella looked at Rapunzel in surprise. “You can’t?” she asked incredulously.

Rapunzel shook her head. “I use my lifeforce to heal. I would be pointlessly recycling my lifeforce if I tried to heal myself.”

“I never knew that,” Ella said.

“I try not to tell many people, otherwise they might try to kill me so I wouldn’t be able to heal the other Sisters,” Rapunzel said with a shrug. “It’s the same reason why Snow White can’t turn herself into snow and teleport.”

“Can I continue now?” the Wolf King said pointedly. When Rapunzel didn’t respond, he went on. “My brothers and I took her back to our den and bandaged her leg. She stayed with us for a few weeks while she healed.”

Ella raised an eyebrow. “Just you,” she said to Rapunzel. “And three werewolves…”

Rapunzel blushed. “Ella!” she rebuked.

The Wolf King grinned. “Rapunzel was a welcome guest. She hobbled around and made us meals and cleaned our den.” He grimaced. “It doesn’t look so good now.”

Rapunzel sniffed. “I bet it doesn’t.”

The Wolf King grinned at her and she smiled back. Ella let out a relieved sigh. They were friends again.

“So we’re okay now?” Rapunzel asked tentatively.

The Wolf King pulled her into a hug. “We’re always okay,” he murmured.

“Good,” Rapunzel whispered.

Ella got up to give them privacy. But as she was walking away to check on the horse, she heard Rapunzel ask, “Can I still call you Archie though?” The Wolf King snarled in reply. Ella grinned to herself.

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h3<>{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 6

Three days later, the Wolf King insisted they were getting close to the witch, but Ella wasn’t so sure. They were near a town called Bearsden and she wanted to sleep in a real bed. Rapunzel had sided with her so they got two rooms at the inn.

They were now sitting in the tavern next to the fireplace, eating rabbit stew with a crusty bread. The Wolf King had already had three big tankards of brandy. Ella was worried he would get drunk, if he wasn’t already.

But Rapunzel didn’t stop him, so Ella didn’t either.

She dunked her bread into her soup. It was delicious, for a small town tavern meal, she thought absently. Suddenly, she heard a man to their right start talking. She pricked her ears and listened.

“Then, there I was, armed with me pitchfork against a WITCH,” the man said. The word witch was accentuated with an enormous hiccup. Without looking, Ella knew the man was nursing a tankard of beer.

She noticed the Wolf King was also listening intently.

“Do you think it’s our witch?” she asked quietly.

“How many witches can there be in this small town?” the Wolf King said in answer.

“Should we talk to them?” Rapunzel asked.

The Wolf King shook his head. “We’re outsiders, and magic users, it’ll be kind of suspicious to ask about a witch that showed up at the same time as us.”

Rapunzel nodded.

“I wasn’t about to let that filthy old witch drain me DAUGHTER’S youth,” the drunk man continued. “I charged HER with me pitchfork and lantern and I told her to git or I’d get her. WELL, she got.”

The other townspeople in the tavern applauded the man’s bravery.

The Wolf King rolled his eyes. “He was probably drunk when he did it and didn’t know the difference between bravery and stupidity,” he muttered.

Ella smiled at him. Then she heard something that made her freeze.

“That old hag’s probably in cahoots with the werebear,” one of the townspeople murmured.

Werebear? Ella didn’t know Helioncity had werebears. She glanced questioningly at the Wolf King, who shrugged. He didn’t know anymore then she did.

“Where did the witch go?” a sober tenant asked.

The drunk hiccuped fiercely. “Who knows? She RAN into the forest with her TAIL tucked between her LEGS.”

Rapunzel caught Ella’s eyes and jerked her head upstairs. She was right, they should leave before they drew unwanted attention.

The three of them stood and inconspicuously made their way to their rooms. Ella and Rapunzel were sharing one with the Wolf King’s room beside their’s.

Ella shut the door and faced Rapunzel. “We can’t let the witch steal these townspeople’s youth,” she said fiercely.

Rapunzel nodded in agreement. “Let’s get some sleep, we’ll capture the witch in the morning.”

Ella covered a yawn and wholeheartedly agreed. She dove under the covers and soon fell fast asleep.

Ella awoke with dog breath in her face. She moaned and pulled the blankets over her head. Was the sun even up yet?

“Come on, Cinderella,” the Wolf King growled, using her full name.

Ella sat up and nearly hit the Wolf King in the nose. She looked around sleepily. “Where’s Zellie?” she asked rubbing her eyes. Where was the sun?

“Getting breakfast, come on now,” the Wolf King said impatiently. “Zellie was up hours ago.”

“So?” Ella said through a yawn. She fell back onto her pillows and pulled up the blankets. “Wake me up for lunch,” she murmured as she drifted back to sleep.

The Wolf King growled and ripped off the blankets. Ella sat up with a yelp. “It’s freezing!” she cried.

The Wolf King smirked. “It’ll wake you up,” he said uncaring.

Ella glared at him and looked around for her dress. There it was, in a crumpled heap on the floor. Ella glanced at the Wolf King and realized for the first time that she was still in her night gown. She hastily covered herself with a pillow.

The Wolf King rolled his eyes, but got the hint. “Fine, I’ll leave. But if you’re not downstairs in ten minutes, I’m dragging you out of bed, night gown or no night gown.”

Ella glared fiercely at him like a lioness. He closed the door tightly behind him, taking the blankets with him. Ella sighed, looking longingly at her pillows. Just five more minutes…? Then she remembered what the Wolf King had said. Night gown or no night gown. She shuddered. Was he threatening to carry her downstairs undressed? It wasn’t worth the risk.

She hopped out of bed and changed into her warm blue dress, cloak, and boots. She hurried to the fireplace downstairs and warmed up before it. The Wolf King and Rapunzel had saved her a seat and they ate their breakfast of gruel with strawberries, turkey legs, and thick bread.

“I have a plan,” Rapunzel announced.

The Wolf King and Ella looked up expectantly.

“We find the werebear and enlist his help finding the witch and defeating her.” Rapunzel sat back, looking pleased with herself.

The Wolf King nearly choked on his turkey. “A werebear?” he asked incredulously. “That’s your plan?”

Rapunzel nodded with a frown. “What’s wrong with that?”

The Wolf King sputtered. “Werebears are notoriously selfish and untrustworthy.”

Rapunzel raised an eyebrow. “Says the king of werewolves and werebears,” she said pointedly.

The Wolf King glared at her. “We can take the witch ourselves,” he said.

“No,” Rapunzel said quietly. “He knows the land and he’s a bloody werebear! He’ll be invaluable to our cause.”

If we can get his help,” the Wolf King growled.

Rapunzel looked him in the eye. “He’ll help us,” she said firmly.

The Wolf King met her gaze steadily, without blinking for a long moment, then he looked away. “Fine,” he grunted, digging into his food with vengeance.

Rapunzel nodded satisfied. “I already asked the barkeeper where the werebear is holed up. It seems he’s got a nice little place outside town, but it’s hard to find, so the barkeeper gave me a map.”

The Wolf King grunted again. He seemed sore that he’d lost the staring match.

Rapunzel rolled her eyes at Ella.”We’ll leave once you’re done eating,” she said. “We’ll leave our stuff here and pick it up later.”

Ella nodded and finished her last mouthful of gruel. “I’m ready,” she said, standing with the others.

Rapunzel and Ella got their horse from the stable and mounted up. The Wolf King groaned. “I’m going to have to transform?” he said with resignation.

Rapunzel’s eyes sparkled as she nodded.

The Wolf King sighed and quickly changed. He was still pink and totally bald. Ella had to look away to contain her giggles.

Rapunzel nudged the horse forward and they headed out of the small town into the forest. Rapunzel frequently checked her map and directed them forward. They had been going for a couple hours when Ella finally spoke up.

“Is it possible the barkeeper gave you a bad map?” she asked.

Rapunzel growled in frustration and threw the map on the ground. She glared at the Wolf King, who was huffing suspiciously. “If you’re so smart,” she snapped. “You lead the way.”

The Wolf King sat on his haunches. “Gladly,” he said before shoving his nose to the ground and darting forward after a scent.

Rapunzel urged the horse after him. In a few moments, the wolf came to a halt before a pile of rocks. The Wolf King dug around the base and uncovered a large hole. He changed into a man wearing fur robes and grinned at Rapunzel.

Rapunzel glared at him. “You knew it was there all along!” she accused.

The Wolf King shrugged. “Would you have listened to me if I’d told you where to go?” he asked.

Rapunzel smiled wryly. “No, I wouldn’t have.”

The Wolf King gestured to the hole.”Let’s go meet our neighborhood werebear.”

#
h3<>{color:#000;}. [] Chapter 7

The Wolf King slid into the hole first and called up to the girls. “Come down one at a time.”

Ella hitched up her skirts and crawled through the hole. It sloped steeply and she slipped, sliding the rest of the way down. She sprawled in a heap at the bottom of the tunnel.

The Wolf King helped her to her feet and she looked around. The cave was made of dirt with roots dangling from the ceiling. But Ella found it somewhat cozy. A pile of black furs lay in one corner. Ella assumed it must be the werebear’s bed.

Rapunzel screamed a she slid down the tunnel and she flew into the Wolf King’s arms. She planted a kiss on his cheek and hopped down. The Wolf King looked slightly stunned.

Ella frowned the furs were moving. Her eyes widened. “Zellie!” she hissed fiercely. “Shhh!”

Rapunzel looked at her, a crazy grin on her face. “What’s wrong, Ella?” she asked, way too loudly.

Ella made a gesture at her. Shut up! it said.

Rapunzel covered her mouth. Ella groaned and turned around. It was too late. The pile of furs, the werebear, was standing behind her on his hind legs. His jaws opened and he roared so fiercely Ella’s hair was blown back.

Ella took a cautious step back.

“Don’t move, Cinderella,” the Wolf King growled.

Ella froze.

The black bear looked like all the air wooshed out of him. He sagged onto the cave floor with a sigh. “Why does everyone assume I’m going to eat them?” he grumbled.

“Maybe because you’re roaring and showing your teeth,” Ella pointed out.

The bear gave her a quizzical look, his black ears flopping. “Perhaps you’re right,” he murmured. “I’ve been cursed for so long, I don’t know how to interact with people anymore.”

“You’re cursed?” Rapunzel asked.

The bear nodded. “I’m a werebear who can’t become human anymore. My name is Amos.”

“I’m Ella and this is Rapunzel and Archibald,” Ella said.

The Wolf King snarled. “Hey!” he yelled indignantly at Ella’s use of his new nickname.

Ella grinned. “Sorry, that’s Grumpy Wolf.”

“Ella,” the Wolf King growled warningly.

Amos got to his paws. “Why are you here?” he asked curiously.

Rapunzel stepped forward. “We need your help,” she said.

Amos sighed. “No visitors for years and suddenly all of Helioncity needs my help.”

“Actually,” Rapunzel said with a frown. “We’re Ne-anlians.”

“Really?” Amos asked looking excited. “I’ve always wanted to meet a Ne-anlian.”

Ella gave a bow. “Now you’re met three.”

Amos looked pleased, for a bear. “What can I help you with?” he asked.

Rapunzel smiled. “We have a witch problem…” she said slowly.

Amos bared his teeth. “Tell me more,” he growled.

Two hours later, Ella and Rapunzel slid off the dappled gelding. A gray wolf and a black bear padded beside them. They were in front of a hollow log.

“Are you sure this is it?” Ella whispered.

The Wolf King growled his certainty.

“It reeks of witch,” Amos said. He disliked all witches ever since one had cursed him to remain a bear forever and never return to his human form again.

“Do you remember the plan?” Rapunzel asked.

Ella nodded. Of course she remembered the plan, Rapunzel just needed to keep her mind off what was coming.

The Wolf King padded up to the log and howled into it. “I know you’re in there!” he roared. “Come easily and I may spare you!”

There was no reply. The Wolf King nodded to Amos, who walked, heavy-footed up to the log entrance and roared ferociously into it.

The Wolf King’s ears pricked. “Back door, Ella!” he yelled.

Ella pulled on her magic and slammed a glass wall down, blocking the log’s opposite exit. There was a witchy screech and the witch came charging out the log, magic firing from her hands.

Ella ducked as Amos stood in front of the log’s entrance to block another escape. The Wolf King bowled into the witch to keep her from injuring Rapunzel. A burst of magic sounded and the wolf flew off the hag, landing in a heap a few feet away, motionless.

“Archie!” Rapunzel screamed, attempting to run to the werewolf’s side. But a burst of magic prevented her from doing so.

This wasn’t going as planned. Ella stepped forward and drew on a deep calm inside herself. She breathed out deeply and pulled a glass cage down on the witch. It was sound-proof and magic-proof. The witch screamed silently in fury.

Ella and Rapunzel raced to the Wolf King’s side. Rapunzel knelt down and undid her thick golden braid. Her blonde hair cascaded over the Wolf King’s body and the air began to hum. Rapunzel’s hair glowed and her eyes shot open, also glowing.

The Wolf King’s body shuddered as if he’d been shocked, then he went still. Ella’s eyes widened in fear. Suddenly, the Wolf King heaved in a deep lungful of air and he sat up in alarm.

“Where’s the witch?” he demanded, baring his teeth.

Rapunzel smiled at Ella. “He’s going to be fine,” she said.

Amos refused to return to Duchess’s estate with them, where they would hand the witch over to be put on trial in Castle Helioncity. He claimed he was a loner, but Ella could see he was ashamed of being seen as a cursed werebear, forever trapped in his bear’s body.

Ella wrapped her arms around the great black bear’s neck. “I’ll miss you, Amos,” she said.

Amos grunted him reply.

Ella looked him in the eye. “I’ll look in Ne-anlian for the witch that cursed you,” she promised.

“Thank you,” Amos said.

Ella stepped back to allow Rapunzel to say good-bye. The sorceress looked nervous. “I can’t break your curse, Amos,” she began. “But I can weaken it a little, if you want me to.”

Amos’s eyes shone. “Of course I do, but how?”

Rapunzel smiled. “With love,” she said. “Love comes in many forms. It can be love between a husband and wife, brotherly love, love between friends, or love between a parent and child. Love is the most powerful magic of all. It can break your curse.”

“Please,” Amos said softly. “Do it.”

Rapunzel nodded and draped a strand of golden hair over the bear’s neck. Her hair began glowing and Rapunzel closed her eyes.

After a moment, she stepped back. “It’s done,” she said heavily.

Amos blinked rapidly. “Thank you,” he whispered hoarsely. “You’ve given me more hope then I’ve had in years.”

Rapunzel nodded.

The Wolf King stepped forward in his wolf body. Ella had to agree that he looked much better with fur on. The wolf barked quickly at Amos. The huge black bear responded with a series of grunts. The Wolf King’s wolf tail wagged briefly before he backed away.

“What did you say?” Ella asked.

The Wolf King shook his head, unwilling to divulge what the two beasts had conversed about.

Ella was okay with that. She turned and mounted the gray gelding. Rapunzel swung up behind her. Ella waved to Amos. “Good-bye!” she called as they trotted away with a wolf at their heels.

Amos threw his head back and roared.

Ella grinned to herself. Amos deserved someone to love and to love him back. She was sure he would find someone to.

(Continue Amos’s story with Beauty and the Beast, book 3 of the Timeless Chronicles coming out Fall 2016.)

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h1={color:#000;}.

About the Author

Grace Anthony is a home-schooled indie author in high school. She lives in rural Illinois and is a passionate reader, writer, and rider. Her first book, “Moonfeather: a short horse story,” was self-published and is available as an ebook.

Grace can often be found writing on a blue laptop named Saphira. She plans on writing many more books in the future.

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h1<>{color:#000;}. Contact Grace Anthony

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.anthonybooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBooks

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/AnthonyBooks

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/anthonybooks

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h1<>{color:#000;}. Grace Anthony’s Books

(available as ebooks on Amazon)

Moonfeather: a short horse story (Short Horse Stories book 1)

Stormfeather: a short horse story (Short Horse Stories book 2)

Timeless (Timeless Chronicles book 1)

Eye of the Queen (Timeless Chronicles book 2- now available for preorder)

For a more detailed list, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/anthonybooks

Thanks for reading!

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Timeless Specials

This book is an anthology of short stories starring characters from Timeless. It contains four short stories. A Visit to the Market: Find out how Lulu got the snowflake necklace for Granny. Palace of Snow: Travel with Lulu and Daniel as Lulu visits Granny's Palace of Snow for the first time. Attack on Willowsford: Find out how Daniel got Charmed. and Of Mothers and Daughters: And watch as Lulu bonds with her mother. Plus, it includes a special extra-long short story called In the Name of a Wolf: Did you ever wonder how the Wolf King got his nickname Archie? Read this short story to find out. In the Name of a Wolf stars Cinderella before she became the Evil Queen. Note: This book has spoilers for Timeless

  • Author: Grace Anthony
  • Published: 2016-04-30 18:35:20
  • Words: 13442
Timeless Specials Timeless Specials