When their god needed a protector, she chose yes.
Choices Meant For Kings
The Choices Trilogy Book 2
by Sandy Lender
Genre: Epic FantasyThere’s no doubt: Amanda Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a doomed wedding. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.
When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
Choices Meant For Kings is Book Two in the Choices Trilogy!
When Chariss sat down on the floor of Hleo-Arcana’s parlor and scooted up close to a low table, Nigel sat on the couch and watched her speak to one of the Ungol in the being’s native tongue. A guard came in with blank parchment, feather, and ink that she’d requested, and she thanked the man.
“You’re very efficient so late at night,” she said to him, and he beamed under the compliment. “Please get some rest, Soldier.”
He saluted and marched out of the parlor as if going to bed was an important order. Nigel marveled at how she could have that effect on them. Rohne, as the highest active god in Mahriket, had been an authority when He put her in charge after the wedding, but these warriors seemed to have been already in her command. He watched her sketch out a diagram of what looked like the ground floor of Hleo-Arcana and remembered Kaylin once saying to Hrazon something along the lines of, “I don’t think Chariss can draw very well, can she?”
He chuckled to himself, and received a wan glance from her. He thought her eyes lingered across his frame a bit longer than necessary before she looked back to her task, and wondered how he could suggest that she stop for the night and get some sleep. She was obviously exhausted.
But she got her point across to the Ungol, who seemed content to take the makeshift map of Nigel’s house to whomever she’d created it for.
“You know, you got the rooms all reversed on that map you just drew,” he said.
“I know,” she yawned.
Now Chariss looked over at him and wondered if it was the candlelight or the moonlight filtering in the windows that made his eyes look marvelously dark in this room of pleasant, cool colors. The blues and grays of the carpet and upholstery reflected silvery light onto his body of dark fabrics as he smiled at her, teasing her, she knew.
He wore his customary black trousers but traded his white gauze shirt for a dark-hued one—something deep blue and dark enough that it brought out the dark brown strands of his hair that curved easily about his ears and neck. The lighter strands kissed by the suns of summer work wove delicately amid the curls and curves, almost hiding softly like a youth’s tresses would. But Nigel was a twenty-eight-winters man who carried the weight of his family’s estate on his well-formed shoulders.
“And the kitchen doesn’t have a door where you drew it.” His deep voice shook her from her reverie.
He leaned forward on the couch and rested his elbows on his knees. “And you completely left off Loetha and Lahs’s room.”
She merely grinned, laying her head down on her hands on the table. When he leaned forward as he did now, his dark hair fell to frame his face and made a lovely painting to stare at. She liked the way his high cheekbones sloped down gently toward a clean-shaven, squared chin. He looked the part of a strong gentleman, yet one who’d already seen enough trouble to recognize it when it came knocking again.
“So, what good exactly is a map that’s drawn so poorly?” he asked.
“Well,” she said, trying to clear her mind to respond. “That map is going to be left strategically close to the barn, and Denan Dreor is going to escape tonight.”
He blinked. “You’re letting him escape?”
“That’s what I told the Ungol guard to let happen.”
He stared at her incredulously. “But isn’t that what Julette wants?”
Her grin turned mischievous then, and she shifted herself so she could move the short space to him. Smiling up into his eyes, she leaned up to take him completely by surprise with a simple kiss on his mouth. It caused her stomach to tighten in a way that surprised and pleased her. “Sometimes, you have to give people what they want,” she said.
He laughed lightly. “Nice. You’re trying to distract me, aren’t you?”
“Well, it’s working beautifully, but I still want to know why you’d send a spy off to Julette when that spy can tell her everything she wants to know.”
Chariss thought about his question for a moment, but found herself thinking more about his lips, which seemed an odd circumstance to her. She furrowed her brow. “I’m sorry, could you ask that again?”
He chuckled and reached down to lift her onto the couch.
Choices Meant For Gods
The Choices Trilogy Book 1Not even the gods noticed when Amanda Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian hide from a mad sorcerer in a household full of false hope and whispered secrets. The same god who watches over the family school sheltering Chariss will soon reveal her role in an impending war.
When a wizard’s ward sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies they uncover? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?
Choices Meant for Gods is Book One in the Choices Trilogy!
Now she sensed someone approach. All her muscles tensed as she watched through the strip of space between the curtain and doorframe. And when a small dragon landed with a click-click of its claws on the stone balcony rail, she put her hand to her mouth to keep from gasping aloud.
It’s a baby dragon!
The thing couldn’t have been four feet tall, sitting there fussing with its oversized wings. It seemed to have difficulty getting the webbing to fold nicely against its sides. In fact, it seemed to have so much difficulty that it lost its balance and nearly fell backward. She could imagine it cursing if it had a voice, by its agitated hop-and-bounce to the balcony floor, which proved more stable.
She watched all of this with fascination, not afraid, but surprised. Dragons are extinct, how is this real? The last sighting was, by the gods, five hundred winters ago.
Its feet reminded her of any reptile, only this creature’s small claws would some day be brutal scythes. The dark scales on the feet blended into rich blue and purple hues with black overtones as she followed their pattern up the muscled legs to the creature’s belly.
This was obviously the part of the body slayers had targeted for centuries. Her own fingernails could pierce this supple-looking skin. Hopefully the skin would toughen with age and darken to match the rest of its body. For now, the tan underbelly would certainly stand out against a night sky, even if the glistening young scales didn’t.
As the creature continued to fuss with its wings, Chariss watched it tuck its elongated face around to scratch its back. It was hard to believe the scales would have nerve endings to feel an itch, much less the scratching meant to relieve the annoyance. It leaned on its right front leg for support as it rubbed its chin against the left wing. And when all the motion, combined with not-properly-folded wings, knocked it off balance, she giggled.
The creature would definitely curse if it had a voice. It was scrambling to regain its footing and lift off from the narrow balcony. Unfortunately, it would have to coordinate itself to hop to the railing before its wingspan would allow it to take flight. Chariss took advantage of its frantic attempts at escape to capture it from behind.
“Hrazon will have my head for this,” she muttered, but stepped onto the stone balcony and scooped up the mass of flailing reptile. It flailed all the more, its weak tail wrapping and slapping the backs of her legs, and emitted a strangled barking sound.
“Hey, be quiet!” she admonished, rearranging her arms to hold its forelegs down against its body. “You’re going to tear a wing if you don’t settle down. And stop making that noise!”
Sandy Lender is a construction magazine editor by day and author of #GirlPower fantasy novels by night, living in Florida to help with sea turtle conservation and parrot rescue. You can follow her author page on Amazon, check her website at SandyLenderInk.com, or subscribe to her newsletter at https://bit.ly/SSReNews.
With a four-year degree in English and thirty-year career in publishing, Sandy’s successes include traditionally and self-published novels, hundreds of magazine articles, multiple short stories in competitive anthologies, a handful of technical writing awards, and a handful of creative writing awards and nominations. Sandy’s been writing stories since she was knee-high to a grasshopper when her great-grandmother shared her odd little tales of squeaky ghost-spiders around an apartment complex in Southern Illinois. The stories have developed to include strong young ladies working with dragons to save worlds from terrible fates, but those pesky spiders still show up from time to time.
There’s always something brewing at Sandy Lender Ink headquarters where some days, you just want the dragon to win.
Modern Music in an Epic Fantasy
From Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
Thank you for letting me “talk” about music on the blog today! This topic came to me because an editor asked me what writer or character[s], from either books or movies, has had a major impact on my writing. While I mentioned some of the authors—like Charlotte Bronte—who have influenced my writing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t dive into what a huge impact music and music theory has on my writing.
A couple reviewers have pointed out I sometimes have a lyrical or sing-song style to my writing in the Choices series and I consider that high praise. I love to use parallel structures, repetitive words, and even flat-out rhymes in a paragraph to give the narrative a lilt or a cadence as you read it. Make it flow.
I’ve played around with poetry over the years and managed to win a “best collection” trophy I can display for motivation with my first poetry chapbook released in 2020. That sense of iambic pentameter and sensing where stresses should hit pleases me—sometimes. Other times, I throw all the rules out the window.
Music inspires me while I’m writing, as well. Even when I’m writing scenes in the epic fantasy world of Onweald, I have modern-day music playing. I have a playlist for the world of Onweald, a playlist for the upcoming Choices sequels, a playlist for Nigel & Chariss, and so on.
Many of my characters have theme songs. If I need to type out a scene with Henry Bakerson in a hurry, you can bet I’ll play Sting’s Saint Augustine in Hell and the instrumental I Miss You Kate as I get started. I used to play the violin and the flute, so music is another language I’ve forgotten how to read correctly on the page, but still appreciate and incorporate in my writing.