Books – The Holiday Shopping List

Éric Desmarais Author

Adventure, magic, fantasy, and friendship. Books for young adults and the young at heart.

Where to find them

https://renaissance-107765.square.site/s/search?q=Eric%20Desmarais  (HOLIDAY15 for 15% off)

https://www.EricDesmarais.ca

https://Coffee.Jeneric-designs.ca

Shipping Deadline

December 11th

Sales

Free Shipping in Canada over $75 with code CANFREESHIP


Mirror World Publishing

An Independent Canadian Press of Escapism Fiction for all ages! We publish paperbacks and ebooks in science fiction, fantasy, romance, and adventure as well as children’s books and some art books.

Where to find them

http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

http://www.mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com

Shipping Deadline

Varies by location and product

Sales

Use discount code BUNDLE at checkout when you buy a paperback to get 50% off a second paperback! https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/discount/BUNDLE?redirect=%2Fcollections%2Fpaperback

Or for Ebooks, Use code: BOGO at check out to Buy one, Get one


Renaissance Press

We sell books by diverse Canadian Voices

Where to find them

pressesrenaissancepress.ca

Shipping Deadline

December 10th

Sales

HOLIDAY15 for 15% off between November 1st and December 10th


The Holiday Shopping List

Find all your holiday gifts from local Canadian Artists.


The Wedding Planner – JenEric Movie Reviews

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 movie The Wedding Planner.

Story

I’m not sure what was going on in the early 2000’s that this was considered a romantic comedy. There was very little comedy and very little romance. The most jaded love story I’ve ever seen. It’s interesting that it has a similar love story to Enchanted but a completely different feel.

It’s the early 2000s but the amount of sexism, ableism, and racism is disturbing.

Score: 0

Characters

Jennifer Lopez manages to make a narcissistic, vapid, and whiny character be sympathetic. Beyond that I disliked almost everyone in this movie. I hated that she suddenly stopped caring about her career the minute a pretty boy blinked at her, I cringed at the love story, I yelled at the screen about how disrespectful her father was, and overall wished I could slap some sense into everyone.

Also can we talk about the inherent racism of making Lopez an Italian? I’m all for casting anyone in any role but it would have taken 2 lines to make her mixed race Italian-Latina.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The movie is pretty standard dialogue for it’s time and avoids a lot of slang by being mostly about rich people. There are a few lines by McConaughey that should be uncomfortable but he manages to make almost sweet. This is massive feat considering the dialogue is terrible.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot. It had solid angles and the locations are beautiful. They didn’t try to use any weird colour filters and let the beauty of the locations and the clothing shine through. I feel like they could have increased the saturation a little.

The music was well done, adding emotion and guidance where the movie lacked any idea whether you should be cooing or screaming in horror.

Score: 1

Fun

I like my romantic comedies with more comedy and more sweetness. I don’t like to cringe and I really don’t like it when a powerful career woman is made out to only be the product of a loveless life.

Score: 0

Overall

This type of movie is the reason rom-coms started to die out. It’s jaded, creepy, and overall offensive. The main actors are fantastic at what they do and manage to make the characters almost likeable but the writing gets in the way.

This is the kind of movie that would be fun to watch without dialogue where you make up your own story.

Final score: 1 star out of 5

Renaissance Press – The Holiday Shopping List

We sell books by diverse Canadian Voices

Where to find them

pressesrenaissancepress.ca

Shipping Deadline

December 10th

Sales

HOLIDAY15 for 15% off between November 1st and December 10th


The Holiday Shopping List

Find all your holiday gifts from local Canadian Artists.


Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

High School Musical – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film High School Musical.

Story

This movie simplifies everything about high school and condenses it into a plot that is much less stressful then the real thing. The loves story, which could have been super annoying, is played low key and the focus is really on expressing yourself through multiple likes and dislikes.

It’s simple and works well to get the message and the music through.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are desperately trying to not be two dimensional in a one dimensional world. There’s growth and even the main characters that could have been bland were endearing.

They are cleverly built and work perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s nothing fantastic about the dialogue, but there are a few moments of tenderness between the love interests that is both sweet and genuine.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This is one of the most lavish high schools I’ve ever seen; it’s beautiful in it’s own right. Add in the singing and dancing and it works really well. I’ve always wondered why they have a camel for this musical. The music is poppy and very mid-2000’s but it has heart and is used to push the story forward.

The character framing for the love interests is always perfect, both reflecting their feelings and in showing them vs the world.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite never wanting to be in the same situation, I love the meet-cute at the beginning and the overall feel of the romance.

I despise the teachers and the complete lack of understanding of theatre and science. I also really dislike the “character says something to shut up friends that is mean and gets them in trouble with the love interest” trope.

I’m also extremely amused that this has one of the most realistic portrayals of computer hacking. (The science girl uses a preset macro program to shut the gym down.)

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a fun movie that reminds me of high school while not looking anything like my high school. The music and story are fun and overall it’s pretty good.

I do wish that the character of Kelsi was more used, or that she got a spinoff.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Blush: Non-het Relationships in the Media

I’m certain that this topic could be discussed in WAY greater detail. A whole dissertation’s worth, in fact. However, I don’t have that kind of time and I’m not getting a PhD afterwards. Feel free to continue the comments.

Story time:

We watched Let it Snow on Netflix a couple weeks ago. (Super cute movie) In this movie, there is a lesbian relationship. I don’t think it’s spoilers to say that the girls kiss at some point during the movie. Our 3 year old daughter was very confused by this kiss. “Where’s the boy?” she kept asking. It took us a few tries to figure out what she was getting at. Apparently we’ve been watching too many Disney movies, because to her, relationships were a boy and a girl. I say were, because as soon as the movie was over, we corrected her. She didn’t believe us. So we pulled out a book that we haven’t read to her in a while (apparently). Promised Land. It’s a typical fairytale romance, with just the one slight change. The romantic leads are two men. She believed us after that, thankfully.

I’m not saying that Disney movies (or any other movie or book) is wrong to portray heterosexual relationships. Go for it.

But I’d like some diversity, please.

I’d like, for once, for a Christmas movie to have two men play the romantic leads. And I DON’T want the movie to be about them “finding themselves” or “coming out to the family” or any other trope.

I want the typical romantic movie. One goes home for Christmas to his family from the big city. Oh look, the guy he had a crush on is still super hot. Hijinks ensue. Due to Christmas magic, they end up together. You know, the Christmas movie we usually get on Hallmark channel.

And I know the perfect book to adapt. Faux Ho Ho, by ‘Nathan Burgoine, has ALL my favourite tropes. They were roommates, check. Fake relationship, check. There was only one bed, check.

So come on, Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime! I know the book was only released yesterday, but why haven’t you made a movie yet??

I want my children to grow up with movies and books that include all types of relationships. Gay, lesbian, poly, ace, you name it, I want it. And please use the same tropes as for the het relationships.

Think of all the new movies you could make!

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Untrained Deception Checks, (or How I Found the Right Voice for Faux Ho Ho) – Guest post by ‘Nathan Burgoine

This summer, I was lucky enough to take part in an all-writer Dungeons & Dragons campaign, alongside some amazing authors. Brandon Crilly was our DM, Marie Bilodeau was our fast-talking, shanty-singing aasimar bard, Evan May played a hysterical bugbear monk of few words (and even less grammar), Kevin Hearne played a grumpy human former-soldier turned ranger, and I rounded out the group with my perceptive—but really honest and trusting—half-elf cleric of the sea goddess. In the middle of a tense scene, where we were pretty sure we were up against a particularly bad foe who was skeptical of our arrival not being a hostile invasion (it was totally a hostile invasion, but we were hoping to convince him to leave without a fight), my wee half-elf tried an untrained deception check.

It went poorly. Or at least, he ended up having to blast the villain with the wrath of his sea-goddess, so it didn’t go as planned. But that’s D&D. You make a plan, the plan falls apart, you throw lightning and thunder around. Repeat.

Over the same time period, I was also working on a holiday-set, fake relationship trope romance novella, and our D&D sessions turned out to help coalesce some facets I was struggling with when it came to my protagonist, Silas. The set-up for Faux Ho Ho is pretty simple: Silas’s family isn’t particularly supportive of him, but they’re in the public eye as a political family, so they take pains to make things look better than they are. He lives in Ottawa, they live in Alberta, allowing him to keep his distance when he can, but at the start of the story, they’re trying to wrangle him back home for Thanksgiving, partly so they can have him included in an event for his eldest brother, a Member of Parliament, keeping the optics of “we support our queer kid” if not the actions. Silas can’t think of a single thing to get out of it, and then his roommate—who his parents don’t know exists—pretends to be his boyfriend, claiming they have plans already with his family for Thanksgiving. This sets into motion a series of further fibs that send Silas and his roommate on a path to a happy-ever-after, albeit one with quite a few hiccoughs on the way.

Now, Silas is an introverted sort, a coder geek and a gaming nerd, and while this is by no means outside of my wheelhouse (I mean, I don’t really code, but otherwise) I was struggling to find the right way to present Silas to the reader. His voice, in early drafts, wasn’t landing right.

Then we had the D&D session with my half-elf’s botched deception check and it struck me. While Silas is staring down his parents on the Skype call, his “boyfriend” behind him, Silas has to lie outright to them if he wants out of the Thanksgiving visit. I slipped into his point of view and wrote:

Okay. He could do this. He’d never put any points into deception in his entire life, but natural twenties happened, right?

And there he was. From that moment on, Silas took shape in my head, and everything started to flow just-so. Before I knew it, writing Silas’s dialog, his reactions, and his thoughts wasn’t just easier, it was fun, and I realized it was the first time I’d written a D&D playing adult as the protagonist of a romance, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d waited so long. I write queer characters in romance specifically because I want to see people like me with happy endings, but I hadn’t gone that extra step to add this particular flavor of nerdy gamer into the mix.

Dungeons & Dragons became one of the geeky lenses through which Silas viewed the world, and it was a joy to put those references in there. Luckily, my editor also has a history with the game, so I didn’t have to explain too much (and, in fact, some of the editing notes that came back included D&D references in return). Silas and his gaming group even get to play a session in Faux Ho Ho. Silas also dresses up in a Dungeons & Dragons cartoon cosplay outfit at one point (spoiler: he’s Presto).

In short, if it wasn’t for those gaming sessions this summer, and my writer friends who always have my back, I’m not even sure Faux Ho Ho would have made it out of the gate.

As for Silas’s ongoing deception checks to maintain the illusion of him and his “boyfriend” at his sister’s Christmas wedding, and how it all works out with his family and his roommate? Well, if you want to know how that particular campaign turns out, the answer is in Faux Ho Ho. But since Faux Ho Ho is a romance, it’s not a spoiler to say that even though it absolutely doesn’t go to plan, it definitely ends happily.

The Blurb:

Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.

Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.

Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.

You can pre-order Faux Ho Ho at the Bold Strokes Books webstore in all e-formats; it will also be available December 10th, 2019, wherever quality LGBT e-books are sold.


‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. This began his long love affair with short fiction, which has seen dozens more short stories published, including his first collection Of Echoes Born. Even though short fiction is his favorite, ‘Nathan stepped into novel writing, and his first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are available now from Bold Strokes Books, as well as his first YA novel, Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks. More novels, novellas, as well as works of short fiction are always under way.

Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 13 Conclusion

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Chapter 13: Fighters and lovers

Artemis

The natural reaction to an eight armed, monolithic demon should be terror. Artemis felt nothing but excitement.

“I’ve got this!” she exclaimed and ran out of the airship hanger.

Smaller than the demon’s smallest toe, she stood no chance in defeating it. She didn’t believe that; she knew she could do it. Standing on the end of the airstrip looking at the demon’s knees and down she stopped and concentrated on her breathing. Reaching the same, preternatural state of self-knowledge as she had fighting the lord commander of the Demon Hordes of Aldroy.

Every part of her being vibrated with excitement. She stood up, unsheathed her swords and jumped towards the demon.

It’s feet were just starting to touch the soil when she hit it in the chest with her shoulder. They both tumbled into the sea and stood up at the same time. She looked the demon in the eye and smiled. She was now the same size.

Eight blades fought against her two and she made sure to step backwards to avoid fighting too close to the island. The demon wasn’t just a great swordsman, they were also used to fighting with eight arms. She did her best and managed to lop off one arm but the demon cut her side with one of its serrated blades. The sea turned red and green from their blood, like some sort of holiday dessert gone terribly wrong.

Death had never scared her but she wished she’d had more time with Diana and Ezekiel. She wanted to explore what they had together. Unfortunately, she was getting weak from blood loss and as she was being beaten with blows from the seven remaining swords, she worried it was her last few moments.

A cannonball hit the demon in the forehead and exploded into a shower of caustic smelling liquid. The demon screamed and swatted at the airship. She took the opening and its head fell into the ocean, a silent scream still on its lips.

Diana

“She needs help,” Diana said.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do,” Fred sighed.

“What is he doing? Wait… She?” Ezekiel asked.

Diana closed her eyes and felt terrible. It wasn’t her place to out anyone. She’d come to the conclusion at the monastery but it really didn’t make a difference, Arty or whatever her name was, was a true hero. And damn attractive. “Yes, please don’t freak out.”

Eyes wide and mouth dropping open, Ezekiel looked terrified and amazed at the same time. It was a stronger reaction than she’d expected. Turning to look at Arty, she saw that the reaction was for the woman growing to match the gargantuan demon and not for the reveal of her sex.

“Did you know she could do that?” asked Diana to both men.

“No but I’m not surprised, she’s quite impressive and extremely well trained in mystical combat and martial arts.” Fred sounded impatient.

“No, but I look forward to discovering what else she can do.” Ezekiel sounded smitten.

“Your highness, the ships are ready and loaded. How are we to disperse the venom?” One of the captains asked.

“Have the Serenity ready to make it rain as if we were misting crops. Have the venom in the Raza brought to the gun decks.” Turning to Fred she said, “I’m on the Raza, make sure the city is properly rained.”

The Raza’s gun decks were impressive even by military standards. She took a moment to admire the nearly two hundred guns. The deck was crowded by barrels of Gabon venom.

It took some improvising, but she was able to combine the venom and cannonballs into a perfect demon killing weapon. After she’d combined the first ammunition box she turned to see Ezekiel playing an upbeat melody and she knew he was helping to bolster her magic.

“Sister, Sister, Sister. Why do you still struggle.” Paul, the lost prince, stood behind her with his sword at the ready. “Let’s finish this!” He swung his sword at lightning speeds, showing off its deadly serrated edge.

He surely meant to intimidate her and it wasn’t working. “Go back to hell, Paul!” She pulled out her pistol and shot him. Her paralysis dart hit him in the chest and he fell to the ground.

Turning to the inter-deck communicating tube, she bellowed, “Let’s get into the air and help our champion.” She turned back to her brother and saw him open a portal and start dragging himself into it. “Paul, don’t! You can’t sustain the portal! You’ll…”

The portal closed on him as he was crawling halfway in. His head to his waist made it through but his hips and below slopped onto the deck.

Ezekial

Once the colossal demon was defeated, the lost prince lost again, and the city was sprayed with Gabon venom, things quickly got better for the island of Cillian.

In some ways, things were forever changed. Artemis had earned the title of Master and the Monks of Dumas vowed to accept anyone into their ranks.

In other ways, nothing had changed. Ezekiel sat behind his desk dreaming of music and writing bits of songs on a piece of paper that might once have been an invoice.

“Well don’t you look content,” the Oracle said walking in.

“How can I help you?” He was being as diplomatic as possible.

“Can you deliver a message to your lover?”

Blushing, Ezekiel said, “I can certainly bring a message to Master Artemis, Princess’s Champion.” After everything had settled down, Artemis wanted to get to know both the Princess and Ezekiel better. It had turned into open relationships that left all three of them happy and fulfilled.

“You don’t like me?” The Oracle said bluntly with a smirk. He shook his head and she broke into a full smile. “Why?”

“You made a fool of yourself and us before my concert.” It sounded silly when he said it aloud.

“Yes but I made sure you were all in the right place.”

“What? Everything you said was wrong.”

Laughing she replied, “Oh sweet child. What I did ensured Artemis went to you after the concert. That made sure the Princess went to the monastery the next day. And it made sure you were too lovesick and tired to leave your bed.”

“But we didn’t listen to you.”

“No one listens to me but gossips and historians.”

Could she have really pushed them towards what happened? Ezekiel wasn’t convinced but the idea scared him. “What’s the message?”

“Tell your lover and her lover to help the white furred dog-girl* when she falls from the sky. She sees more than I would ever want.”

Ezekiel sighed. Another vague prophesy could mean nothing but trouble. At least for the moment everything had ended happily.

Vote in 2019’s Serial Story


*Authors Note: This is referencing Aleenia from Ciamon of Chymar and Battlemage Taika.


Did you enjoy this years serial story? Why not check out one of the previous years?

Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 12

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Authors Note: Apparently I had more story to tell and it didn’t all fit in this chapter. That means there will be an extra “New Year’s Day Special” also known at Chapter 13.


Chapter 12: Have bard will travel

Ezekiel stood outside the Princess’s room in borrowed pants. He’d always dreamt of going to her bedroom and now she just dismissed him.

Why wouldn’t she? They were in the middle of an emergency situation. She wasn’t some shrinking violet who needed saving. She didn’t need someone to take care of her.

What did she need? He sighed to himself and headed back to the courtyard. His parents had probably mobilized the Apollo guards to help protect people, but they’d been at home. He could mobilize the guards at the shipping yards and maybe get an airship into the fight.

Hurrying down the stairs, he rushed from the castle. As he was leaving, the gates started to close. “Why are you closing the gates? What if there are more injured?” he asked a guard.

“Princess’s orders. The castle will be sealed to defend their royal highnesses.”

“What? That’s not like her.”

“I agree, but I also have orders.”

This was odd; what was she thinking, he wondered. He sighed again and headed towards the shipyards. The streets were filled with demons and he had no weapons; he did his best to avoid them but the shipyards were on the other side of the city.

He managed to get most of the way when all of the demons collapsed and started screeching. It was more war cry mixed with anger than pain, so he doubled his pace.

A large portal opened and someone came out of it. It looked like Didi. He ran towards the opening, only to run into a circle of very angry demons. In the middle of the circle seemed to be Didi, Arty, and the royal physician. Picking up a discarded sword he prepared to go in and save his friend. He knew Arty could take care of himself, but the physician and Didi were sitting ducks.

The sword was larger than the epee he’d been trained with and he wasn’t sure he could do anything but swing it wildly. He was about to charge in when the closest demons exploded, others froze in place, and even more fell to the double blades Arty was holding.

Didi stood with both pistols out and smirking, her eyes scanned for more opponents. When she saw him she smiled and said, “Mr. Apollo. Glad you survived the attack in my workshop.” Why was she wearing the same thing as the princess?

“Didi, what are you talking about?”

“Oh for the goddess’s sake, Ezekiel. I’m Princess Diana of the house of Cillian. I also go by Didi.”

It shook him to the core that the princess he’d lusted after and his nerdy best friend were the same person. More than that, he felt like a fool that he’d escorted an imposter into the castle.

“I went after you and I found you, or someone who looked like you. Oh Goddess, I’m sorry. If I hadn’t been so blind…” He trailed off and dropped the sword.

“That was my brother’s plan? To impersonate me? I sure hope he tries to access my weapons. He’ll get a surprise.” Turning to Ezekiel, she added, “I’ve been stockpiling Gabon venom in case of an airship war. We’re headed to the airfield. You coming with us?”

“Absolutely your highness,” he bowed low.

“Cut it out Zeke. Oh yeah. I’ve been working on this. Try it out.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small guitar case, the size of a fork. As she gave it to him it grew until it was full sized. Inside was an electric guitar.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s self-powered and the amp is built into the body. It’ll convert your playing into magical effects. Mostly it should create a sonic attack but I’m not trained enough to test it.”

The guitar felt right in his hand, like it was made for him, which he supposed it was. He felt extremely fond of Didi at that moment; but as a friend, not romantically.

They walked on in silence, it didn’t take long for another demon attack. He played a power cord and all his rage poured out into a single blast of energy that threw a demon into a wall. If it wasn’t for the royal physician they would have died from acid burns really quickly. If it wasn’t for Didi the princess, still sounded weird, they wouldn’t have had the firepower to kill the demons fast enough.

They made it to the airfield with little trouble; Ezekiel was enjoying his new weapon/guitar too much to notice how easy it was. “This has been too easy,” Arty said.

“What do you have planned, brother?” whispered Didi.

“Wouldn’t you like to know…” The false princess was waiting for them inside the royal hangar. She was flanked by a hundred royal guards. “I’m so disappointed that you three have thrown in with this pretender.” The false princess looked smug.

“You know what? I’m not even angry, just annoyed. Who’s the ranking officer here?” No one reacted. They stood at attention staring blankly ahead.

“They belong to me, Sister. You’re out of luck.” With that he melted back into his real form.

Looking at Ezekiel, Didi said, “Help them.” He was going to argue but instead he started to play a rousing ballad. He improvised words dealing with fighting for one’s mind. It worked and the soldiers’ eyes sparked with self-determination.

“I need two airship crews ready in ten minutes. The rest of you get to the city and protect the people.” The soldiers may have their freewill back but they were still conditioned to listen to their superiors.

“You think this matters to me, Sister? I will rule Cillian or I will destroy it.” He laughed as he walked into a portal and disappeared.

The airfield was close to water and they could see through the hangar windows that the sea was churning and purple.

Screams echoed through the hangar as those closest to the windows saw the monstrosity outside. It looked like the demons, but was over a hundred meters tall. It had eight arms, each armed with a sword.

“Looks like he’s leaning towards destroy,” snarked the royal physician.

To be concluded


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 11

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Chapter 11: Self-Rescuing Princess

Her brother walked through the doorway spell, cocky and smug as usual. “Hello Sister, I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

“Still copying my work I see.” She wanted to scream and yell but that would be exactly what he wanted.

“Why mess with genius? Come now, big sis. Your work has paved the way for a whole new world.” He waved at the portal behind him.

Diana was about to answer but her brother turned to Ezekiel and yelled, “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR BETTERS FOOL.” There was a spelled command in his yelling. Ezekiel fell to one knee and stayed there frozen. Seeing her anger he said, “Come now, sister. It’ll fade after we leave.”

“Is this where you ask me to join you?” she asked half sarcastically.

“Yes. Join me and we can rule all the worlds together!”

“No! Go back to hell, you power craving, megalomaniac plagiarist.”

He smirked and said, “Plagiarist? Is that the worst thing you can think of? Fine, glad we got that out of the way.” He then said something in a language that sounded like grinding rocks and two large demons came out of the portal and approached her.

“I don’t need you. I just need your mind and that I can extract.” He walked back into the portal.

The problem with the lost prince was his lack of foresight, she thought. She grabbed her sword and started to defend herself. The Demons healed from every cut but as she was fighting them she was also analyzing everything she knew. The spell that made her airships heal had been destroyed by the Gabon Snake venom and it looked like the healing spell was exactly the same.

She’d discovered how to synthesise the venom and mass produce it. The design of the spell and the airships was shared with all of her neighbours. Having a counter that would destroy attacking ships only made sense. At least that’s what she’d thought.

There were three bottles in the cabinet demon was tipping it over. A quick levitation spell got her two bottles and she smashed one on her sword.

The first demon she ran through looked surprised. The next two didn’t, but despite breaking the second bottle she couldn’t stop the blow and one of them bashed her in the head. Her brother wanted her alive and that’s the only reason she lived.

Darkness transitioned to grayness, to soft light filtering through a wooden door. She was in a small closet. She’d have called it a cell but those tended to have bars.

The wooden door was spelled. She stood in front of it and felt the magic. “You’re either an idiot or your demons don’t have great initiative.” She reached into her apron and pulled out a small hammer. The first time she hit the door with it the floor shook, the second time the door flew out and exploded into a hail of splinters. The demon who was standing outside was perfectly perforated.

His blood ate the wood and his spelled healing took seconds to fix the damage.

“Get back inside the cell.”

“What? No please?”

“I don’t recognise your rule.”

“Princess or pauper, it’s just polite.”

The demon grunted and pointed at the closet, now a nook.

“Just a hint for the future. If you’re holding a spell caster or a tinker, make sure to take everything away from them and leave them naked.” She put her hand into her pockets.

“What could you be hiding in those-” he never finished the statement. She took her pistols out from the extradimensional space in her pockets and fired a shot through his head. He fell to the ground and dissolved. The healing spell couldn’t deal with massive head trauma… that was good to know. She hadn’t used the pistols in her lab; too many explosives.

“Never trust a woman with pockets. You never know what we’re hiding.” She reloaded her pistol and started to wonder how she was going to get home.

The easiest way was to open a portal to her world but without an anchor, there was no way of knowing where she’d end up and travelling across the world would take too long.

The demon blood sizzled. Who knows what they were like before her brother had warped and corrupted them?

“Blood!” The demon blood. These creatures were not native to her world. Which meant that they were all in the same place.

She picked up a little blood with a spelled beaker and concentrated on the spell she needed. Pulling out ingredients she only had a little time to wonder why no one had come to check on her yet.

When the mixture with the blood was ready she threw it at the wall and jumped through, praying to the goddess that she was right.

She landed in a crouch and looked around. She was surrounded by angry screaming demons.

From behind her she heard Fred, the royal healer, “I think we pissed them off.”

And Arty’s voice, “Maybe, or it could be a coincidence.”

“The two of you look like you could use some help,” Diana said smirking at Arty.

“Aren’t you supposed to be figuring out how to get rid of these things?” Fred didn’t miss a beat.

“Gabon Venom, Paul’s leading them, and he’s using my spells. Oh, and I had to escape being captured.”

Nodding, Fred said, “So we need to get to the royal airship and the Gabon stores?” When she nodded, he added, “I think it’s going to rain.”

Read Next Chapter


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?