Reveal Blast: “The King’s Ransom” by Cheryl Carpinello

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The King’s Ransom, book 1 of Young Knights of the Round Table

12Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions

In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith’s apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder. Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.



Prince Gavin
Gavin’s gaze was drawn back to the castle’s battle-scarred walls and the heavily armed guards. The evil Q.5.1emanating from the structure surrounded and held him captive, like a lone deer surrounded by hungry wolves in the dead of winter, unable to move, its eyes glassy with fear, its limbs frozen by the hypnotic gleam of the wolves’ yellow eyes. Even knowing its life was ending, the deer wouldn’t break and run. So Gavin sat frozen in front of the castle.
The enormity of his quest enveloped Gavin and he sighed. Continuing on meant he might save the Wild Man, but he might put himself in danger as well. King Edward was his father’s enemy and possibly responsible for Aldred’s murder. If Gavin were caught, Edward wouldn’t treat him kindly. The young prince summoned his courage and focused on the Wild Man. It had seemed so simple last night in the company of Bryan and Philip.

Bryan
Q2The air inside the blacksmith shop lay dense and heavy, making it difficult to breathe for any who ventured inside. The fire from the forge still burned red hot, even though the bellows hadn’t fanned the embers in some time. Sixteen-year-old Bryan submersed the newly formed sword into a cold bucket of water. Steam enveloped him, adding to the sweat already streaming down his face. With his free arm, he wiped his forehead and pushed back his soaked red hair.
The blacksmith, James, watched intently as Bryan Balyard lifted the sword out of the water, its blade cooler but still hot to the touch. Holding the sword in front of him, Bryan sighted down the blade’s edge as he’d been taught. Straight and flat, just as it should be. He made a few short cuts to check its balance. It responded well to his moves. Bryan handed the sword to James for approval. After checking its weight and doing a closer inspection of the craftsmanship, James nodded.
“You’re getting better. This weapon is good enough for a knight of the Round Table.”
Bryan beamed, his eyes reddened and watering from the smoke.
“I haven’t an order from any of Arthur’s knights, so make this your own.”
Bryan’s lower jaw dropped.
“Mine?” he forced out.

Philip
The late afternoon sun still held the day’s heat. Philip set the ax down and wiped his brow before getting a drink of water. Looking at the stack of chopped wood, he smiled sadly. Two years ago he would never have dreamed he’d be here, chopping wood for food and a dry place to sleep. He shook his head at his thoughts, his shaggy, ill-cut black hair falling unevenly across his forehead. Two years. It seemed like forever.
Two years earlier, he had lived with his parents and baby brother on their small farm up north. His parents worked hard to put food on the table and to pay off the farm. Philip’s main job was to watch baby Benjamin while his mother helped his father in their small field. When Benjamin fell sick, Philip helped his father clear the old stalks and rocks from the soil while his mother nursed the baby. He helped his father carefully plant the winter wheat and barley for harvest in the spring.
As autumn slipped into winter, Benjamin hadn’t gotten better. His tiny body burned with fever. Those last few days when Philip held him, the heat coming from Benjamin threatened to slowly engulf him like the embers of a dying fire.
Then one day, the heat drained from Benjamin’s body, and cold took its place. Philip didn’t understand at first why his mother and father cried. For days they’d waited for the fever to leave, and finally it had. Then he noticed the stillness of Benjamin’s body. His small chest didn’t rise and fall; he wasn’t breathing. Along with the heat, life had also left the tiny body.

Book Sound Track for Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, book 2 and The King’s Ransom, book 1 of Young Knights of the Round Table.



AUTHOR BIO

Original_Author_PhotoI am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales & Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds.

 

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Book Blast: “Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend” (Book 1)

On the Eve of Legend

At the dawn of Camelot, one young girl is about to take her place beside the greatest king inQuote 7 England’s history…. She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted—all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage. For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits? However, the wizard Merlyn—her teacher and friend—knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not.

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Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, book 1

Excerpt

Hard to believe that last night she had been so happy. Now, her world had fallen apart. It’s not that I don’t expect to get married. I know I must. But not now, not so soon. And to spring it on her and not give her the opportunity to participate in the decision stung like the bee that had bitten her last summer. Suddenly, the magic of the unicorn seemed so far away. Her eyes started to water. She blinked and tried to wipe the tears away before Cedwyn saw them, but she couldn’t.

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying again? Is it because of that decision your father made?”

Guinevere nodded in reply.

Guinevere–On The Eve of Legend“What do you have to do? Is that what the king and Merlyn were talkin’ about last night in the hall after everyone left?”

“It must be,” she said, wondering if Merlyn had known even in the forest. “When did you see them?”

“I sneaked back into the hall after everyone had gone to bed to see if there was any more circlette left. I saw them with their heads together, but they didn’t see me. They were discussin’ some secret.”

Shaking her head, Guinevere said, “That’s why Father waited for Merlyn before he said anything to me. They came up with this idea between themselves.” She felt so betrayed.

“So, what is it that you have to do? Why have we run away from home?”

“My Father the King and apparently Merlyn have decided that I am to marry King Arthur in two years and become his Queen. I’ll have to leave the castle, my home, you, and everything I’ve grown up with,” she added, not realizing that Cedwyn was staring at her with his mouth wide open.

“He even promised Grandfather’s round table to King Arthur. All without asking!” She finished, sure that she had stated her point clearly. Her eyes strayed to the hand that Arthur had kissed. Quickly she averted them.Quote 6

“Are you sure they said King Arthur?” Cedwyn asked, his amazement showing in his voice.

“Oh yes! I’m sure.”

“That’s fantastic! He’s gonna be a great king! He’s gonna bring all of England together. I heard some of the knights talking about him last night. They said that he is the bravest and best warrior they have ever seen. And the smartest!” He looked at Guinevere and shook his head. “And you are gonna be his Queen!” Disbelief washed over him. “I wish someone would make a decision like that for me!”

“Really? Then you can marry King Arthur!” she said, standing up and stamping her foot.

Then she turned and stomped up the rise.


The Legend Within

by Cheryl Carpinello

            Arthurian stories are steeped in legend. While perceived as fiction, legends often contain elements of factual happenings. It is left up to readers to decide if they believe or not.

In the Arthurian tales I write, I always add one or two of my own legends. Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend contains one of my favorites: The Legend of the Red Deer and the Unicorn. I’ve recited this story at readings and at Medieval Festivals where I have been the storyteller. Here it is:

The Legend of the Red Deer and the Unicorn

A long, long time ago when the forests were young, the unicorns roamed the land of what is now called England. They numbered in the thousands. One day a red deer washed up on a sandy shore during a violent storm. Not knowing the land, the red deer soon became lost, unable to find fresh water and enough grasses to eat. The unicorns found the deer near death from thirst and starvation. These kind creatures nudged and pushed the deer to fresh water and later showed it the best grazing grounds and the Quote 5safest places in the forest to bed down.

Before long the unicorns adopted the deer, which, in turn, promised that all future generations of red deer would protect the unicorns. A few years later, another red deer washed up on the shore, was discovered and saved by the red deer and the unicorns. The two deer later mated and left the unicorn herds.

Hundreds of years passed and in those years, the red deer herds grew in number until there wasn’t a forest without the deer across the land. Sadly, the same could not be said for the unicorns. As men populated the island, a myth arose about the unicorn. It was believed that a unicorn’s horn held strong magic for man, and some even thought it could cure all of men’s ills. To that end, unicorns were hunted ruthlessly for the magical horn, their bodies left to rot once the horn was harvested.

The numbers of unicorns across the land dwindled to just a handful when the unicorns and the red deer met once more. The unicorns asked if the red deer remembered when the unicorns had saved them. The red deer remembered because the memories of the first red deer were passed on to each new deer. Filled with dismay at how few unicorns remained, the red deer kept their promise to protect the unicorns.

Today if you are lucky enough to come across a herd of red deer in England, you must be very quiet and patient. If you wait long enough and look hard enough, between the legs of the red deer, you may catch a glimpse of white. At the middle of each herd, the unicorns thrive and play.


About the Author

Original Author Photo

I am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales & Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds.

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