Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RELEASE DAY: David W. Landrum "The Last Minstrel"


The Goddess Morrigan has cast her evil magic over Brendálynn’s kingdom and taken her mother captive. As she goes into Morrigan’s realm to challenge her and free the woman who bore her, Brendálynn discovers that there is powerful magic in the music she has learned—more than she ever imagined.



David W. Landrum is the author of The Gallery, The Sorceress of the Northern Seas, Strange Brew, and The Prophetess, all available through Amazon.


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Right after Mother disappeared, my father started beating me a lot, and the day I met the Goddess Ardwinna, he was at it again. The first couple of times he whipped me with his belt after Mother disappeared in one of the dark spells Morrigan brings on our land, I acted like I was in pain. After that I just gave him dirty looks.

"Didn’t hurt," I said when he had finished on that particular day — though it did a little. He raised the belt threateningly. "Go on," I urged. "Hit me all you want. I’m sure Mother would be happy to see you beating her only daughter."

When I spoke of Mother, Father always backed off. He turned and went to the kitchen, the belt dragging on the floor. I heard him pour himself what had to be a cup of whisky, which he usually drank when he was in this kind of mood.

It was hard when she disappeared. I spent time in church, prostrate before the altar, weeping and pleading. I told God I would do anything if He would return Mother to us. I promised I would enter a convent. Whatever He asked of me, I would do if He would return her. Only silence came from heaven — silence and Father’s drinking. Our priest told me to be patient. Months passed. Finally, I went out one snowy morning and walked to Ardwinna’s bower. This called for caution. Our people worshipped Ardwinna, the goddess of the wood, of hunting, and of virginity before our province became Christian. Some still worshipped her, though secretly.

I came to the sacred place beside a stream where two white birch trees towered to the sky. The bare trees creaked in the wind. The stream flowed in the middle, though it had iced at the edges. I walked up and brushed the snow from the two stones, took off my shoes, placed my feet on the two smooth, cold rocks, and reached out to touch the cold, peeling white of the trees.

In the perfect silence of winter — in the cold and purity of blue sky — I asked the goddess to help me. Even though my feet burned with cold, I stood there a long time. Did I feel the goddess near? There is no way to know if we feel such things or if they are simply our own hearts full of emotion making us feel what we hope for. After a while I returned. Ardwinna did not answer my prayer. I had given up on divine intervention to bring Mother back to us.

That had been in winter. Spring came and headed into summer, and still we knew nothing of Mother. We had no idea where she had gone nor whether she was alive or dead.

After Father had beaten me, Miranda came into the room. She brought a glass of light wine from the cellar. Her grey eyes were sad. I sat down, took a sip, and told her to climb into my lap. She was really too big to be sitting in my lap. At eight years, she was a tall, sturdy maiden. Tender-hearted and sensitive, it always hurt her to see Father give me threshing. She sat on my legs and snuggled against me. I put my arms around her.

"Why is Grandfather always beating you?" she asked.

"He doesn’t do it a lot. It just seems a lot, because it’s so upsetting when it happens. He’s full of sorrow about Mother." I kissed her and stroked her hair. "Don’t fret, Miranda. Time will heal him."

 "Will you sing me a song?" Miranda asked.

I got my lute and did a funny song for her. She laughed. We went outside, played tag, and tossed pine cones into a bucket until she got tired of her favorite game.

"I’ve got to do my chores," she said. I helped her feed our goats. She went off to weed the herb garden. I went to my room, washed, and changed into fresh clothing. My lesson was scheduled for that day.

I put my lute in its carrying bag. Roxanne, my servant girl, and Jacques, one of the burly, tough male servants, accompanied me. We were going to the home of Leonel, my teacher, who lived at the edge of the Wood of Ardwinna. In the old days, it was sacred to her.

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