Alexis Morgan visits Fantastic Fables set in her Warriors of the Mist series. Her Knight’s Quest, the second novel in the series, was released on March 5, 2013. My Lady Mage is the first novel in the series. Alexis’ fable is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel with Sir Duncan from Her Knight’s Quest as the hero.
Today’s giveaway is provided by Alexis Morgan! One lucky reader will an autographed copy of Her Knight’s Quest.
The True Story of the Woodcutter’s Children
Once upon a time, there was a noble knight named Duncan. He was known to be a scholar well versed in all the disciplines, a man content to spend his waking hours surrounded by books and scrolls. But Duncan was also a warrior of great repute, one whose skill with a sword was unrivaled and whose honor demanded that he defend those who could not defend themselves.
It was the latter skill that had brought him to the deep forest two nights ago. Few were brave enough to venture into the depths of the dark woods, a place with a reputation of great evil. Duncan understood the fear of ordinary men, but then he was not an ordinary man and hadn’t been for a long, long time.
Journeying ever deeper into the darkness, he was afoot and leading his horse. Neither of them had had a moment’s rest since he’d received word about the two missing children. Every minute counted, and neither he nor his two animal companions would waste a single one sleeping. His mare gamely plodded along behind him, her head drooping nearly to the ground as she walked.
Duncan patted her neck as he turned his eyes skyward. “Kiva, do you see anything?”
Most people would think him a mad man for talking to an owl, but then most people hadn’t been gifted with their own personal avatar by the Lord and Lady of the River. Thanks to their special bond, not only could Kiva understand him, but Duncan could see through the eyes of the enormous raptor soaring above him through the treetops. The bird answered by sharing a swirling flow of pictures—trees, deer, a few rodents scurrying through the underbrush, but no children.
Duncan trudged on and thought about the young boy and girl he was hunting. According to their father, the woodsman, they had gone with him to gather kindling and to stack the wood as he cut it. Late in the afternoon, they had disappeared and hadn’t been seen since. The man’s worry for his young son and daughter had been genuine, but that of his wife had not rung true. There was more to the story than either of the them had been willing to admit. Duncan would get to the truth, but only after he rescued the children.
In his own life, he knew firsthand that sometimes a parent was as much a threat to a child as any villain. His mother had loved Duncan unconditionally, but his father . . . well, that was a different matter. He closed his eyes briefly in prayer for the goddess to guide his path, knowing with each passing hour diminished the chances for Hansel and his sister Gretel to remain unharmed.
A sudden rush of images filled Duncan’s head with such dizzying speed, he nearly stumbled to the ground. He leaned against the mare, using her sturdy strength to support him as he made sense of what Kiva was trying to tell him. Slowly, it all came into focus.
A house, but one painted in bright colors. The path led straight to the door. Smoke rose from the chimney. And there was a power that drove the forest creatures away. It was magic, foul and potent. Underlying that stench was the scent of human fledglings and one other–a sorceress .
Duncan hesitated only long enough to decide the best way to stage a rescue. His horse would only be in the way. He would have to leave her a short distance away from the clearing. If he failed to save the children, the mare could find her way back to safety. As he swung up in the saddle, he asked her for one last burst of speed.
A few minutes later, the trees began to thin out. Duncan dismounted and walked on alone, sword in hand. His skin burned as he forced himself through some powerful magic wards. He recognized the spell, one meant to keep out adults but to let children pass. No doubt the sorceress was now aware of his presence.
He drew his sword and started for the door of the house, which was even stranger than Duncan had expected. The small building had appeared to be covered with bright paint through Kiva’s eyes. Instead, it actually smelled of sweets and ginger. What manner of strangeness was this?
When he touched the handle on the door, a jolt of pain burned up his arm. Another spell to deny entrance to unwanted visitors. That didn’t stop him. Duncan retreated several steps and charged the door, slamming into it with his shoulder and the strength of the gods. The wood shattered on impact. Inside, the sorceress immediately shoved the two children behind her and brought her hands up to defend herself.
“Stand aside, woman, and let those children go.”
Her smile held death and defiance in equal measures. “They were to be my dinner. Now you will fulfill that role, and they will be my dessert.”
When she threw a blast of power right at him, Duncan brought up his shield to absorb the blow and charged toward her, his sword at the ready. At the same time, the boy threw himself to the ground behind the sorceress, causing her to trip and fall, hitting her head on the iron door of her huge oven.
As Duncan ensured she had breathed her last, the dark magic drained away, leaving the two children shivering in the cold darkness. The boy had drawn his sister into the far corner, placing himself firmly between her and Duncan. His bravery was to be admired.
“I don’t blame you for not trusting me, Hansel. Your father and mother sent me to find you and your sister Gretel.”
The boy was already shaking his head. “They don’t want us back.”
“Yes, they do. They are the ones who told me you were missing although I will admit that there was something odd about their behavior.” Duncan glanced behind him at the dead sorceress. “When did you first notice a difference in your parents?”
Hansel bit his lower lip but finally answered. “Our mother refused to feed a strange woman who was passing saying that we are poor. The woman told my mother that she would regret her actions. After that, she and our father have acted most oddly.”
The girl spoke for the first time. “They no longer love us.”
Hansel stepped back to take his sister’s hand. “It is our mother’s fault that we are here. She sent us down a path to look for kindling, but we couldn’t find our way back. No matter which direction we chose, it led us here to her. She is the woman my mother refused to feed.”
So Duncan’s suspicions had been right, and his heart ached for the two frightened children. He sheathed his sword and dropped to one knee to meet the boy’s gaze directly. “Come with me, and I swear upon my honor that I will see you and your sister are safe. And if your parents are under the sorceress’s spell, I will end it.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Alexis has always loved reading and now spends her days imagining worlds filled with strong alpha heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the author of over thirty books, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals; paranormal and fantasy romances; and most recently, contemporary romance. Alexis has been nominated for numerous industry awards, including the RITA© from the Romance Writers of America, the top award in the romance genre.
Want to read more from Alexis Morgan?
This giveaway is provided by Alexis Morgan!
One lucky reader will win an autographed copy of Her Knight’s Quest
Available March 5, 2013 from Signet Eclipse/Penguin
About this Book:
They are cursed by the gods, and war is their salvation. Love is their deliverance.
For centuries, five legendary warriors have braved battles shoulder to shoulder. But now they must divide and conquer as lone champions against evil.
Duncan, a scholar at heart, is drawn to an isolated abbey rumored to hold the answers to countering the terror unleashed by Duke Keirthan. Inside the cloistered walls lies the hidden collection of forbidden lore on dark magic. But the real key to the salvation Duncan seeks—both for the people of Agathia and his soul—is the abbess herself, Lady Lavinia. Hunted by the duke, who seeks to harvest her powers, Lavinia knows Duncan wants to help her. But can she trust the tortured warrior with her secrets?
In the end, it is only by joining forces that they can save not only those they are sworn to protect but each other.
Click here to read an excerpt
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