Free Short Story (Knights without Honor hits Kindle March 16!)

To celebrate my excitement for the release of Book Two of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll, I want to share a brief snippet of the book with you all! This snippet stands as a complete story and I promise no major plot will be spoiled by reading it. Thanks so much for all your support! Click here to check out the book.

Now here we go. I hope you enjoy!

A MOTHER DUCK’S webbed feet flapped up an arrow-riddled bogside. The light of the moon and stars made the mud of the bogside look blue, and the bog itself was a pit of blackness. A score of screaming horsemen completed a circuit around the bog and the mother duck pronked back down the slope in fright. She flapped her wings and quacked desperately. A train of yellow ducklings answered her from the middle of the bog, chirping and chirping as they kicked and kicked through the blackness towards the bogside. Looming high above the ducks, a crooked siege tower filled with men was groaning and creaking, taking volley after volley of arrows and bolts from distant castle walls. Yelps of cessation filled the night with a palpable misery.

A dying man fell from the top of the tower and splashed in the bog water beside the train of ducklings. In the throes of the splash, the teensy chirplings were yellow petals tossing in a rapid river. The man’s screams turned into bubbles as he drowned in his armor. The ducklings kicked and kicked away from his flailing arms, swirling in waves of madness.

On the bogside, the mother duck craned her head to show her babies a nervous eye and quacked. The screaming cavalry completed another circuit and their galloping hooves kicked up a splash of mud that pushed the mother duck into the bog. Soon she was floundering with her ducklings, quacking at their chirps in the waves. She bit one of her babies by the scruff of the neck and used her wings to gather others. As she quacked at a few who had been tossed far away by the splash, she caught eye of a passing sparkle.

One of the horsemen racing around the bog was brandishing a sword above his head. The sword shimmered in the moonlight and made the hen tilt her head for a better look. It was a momentary flash—a spark of determination. The man on the horse was wearing a black hauberk, and the twenty horsemen at his rear were clad in blackened plate. The silvery chanfrons on the heads of their horses gleamed brightly like wraiths. The chanfrons turned blue and white and blue again in the moonlight, and would turn red every time they passed the siege tower. Moments ago, shieldmen and engineers had been trying to unstuck one of the siege tower’s wheels from the mud, but the screaming wraiths had cut them all down. Now the foot of the siege tower was ablaze and the wraiths were throwing up jeers and japes at the men dying inside.

The rider in the black hauberk made another spark of determination as he galloped under the crooked tower. Dirty men were up in the wooden arrow slits, shaking their shields in anger at the circuiting wraiths below. But no matter how angrily they shook their shields, none of them were mad enough to jump down to the wraith’s level, not unless they wanted to get hewed. From the castle on the other side of the warground, arrows arced over the sky and bolts hissed long and true. Some shafts cracked or glanced off the wooden tower. Others hissed through loopholes and hit marks.

The rider in the black hauberk was determined not to quit until the tower was down. After each circuit around the bog, the tower’s groans became louder, the flames higher, and the mother duck and her chirplings were lost in the middle of it all. One man inside the tower knew he would die soon, and so he observed the ducks with love, placing his mind far away into a much more beautiful place. An arrow thudded against the wall by his head, but he didn’t flinch a bit as he stared down through a gap in the wood. He smiled at the mother duck as an image of home lingered in his mind. A bolt hissed through the gap and made his head jerk back. Mind-muddled, he got trampled by the dozens of desperate men swaying about in the crooked tower.

Every time the mother duck felt like she was close to gathering all her babies, another body would fall from the tower and scatter them all again. As the rider in the black hauberk showed yet another spark of determination, the mother duck made hers. Hope glistened in her watery eyes. She quacked and kicked and gathered her chicks all over again. She would not give up until her babies were safe.

One angered man in the tower had had enough. He crawled through a crevice in the wood and leaped down into the mud.

The fire at the foot of the wooden tower was roaring now, and so the surface of the bog was illumed with hundreds of snaking yellow streaks. The light was dancing off the wetness, glistening and splashing around the angered man’s boots as he trudged up the muddy slope. He swung his sword at a passing horseman. It bounced harmlessly off the rider’s greave. Anger rising, the man swung at the next rider. At that moment he too created his own spark of determination as his sword flashed in the firelight.

The approaching rider saw the flash and directed his stallion with a push of his knee towards it.

The angered swordsman was thrown by the horse’s shoulder. He went rolling back down the muddy slope and lost his sword before he splashed in the bog water. His spark of determination had been bright, but now it was gradually extinguishing for he refused to get back up. He decided to lie there and stare at the moon. He listened to the chirplings. They suddenly sounded so close. If he lied there in the water and pretended to be dead, he could walk away in the morning. That was his hope, until a sudden loud snap heralded his doom. His eyes opened wide to see the siege tower tilting. It was falling right towards him. In another life he would’ve tried to swim away, he promised himself, but not in this one.

The siege tower smacked the bog’s surface, devoured the loser and created an eruption of muddy water. The ejecta filled the air for a time, then came back down in flapping heaps as the tower settled into its new place. The tower was creaking and groaning like a capsized wreck and all the while men were spewing up out of the loopholes. Swords and axes hacked away to make new exits, and one by one men crawled from the wreck to gawp at the stars with faces raped by madness. One by one they came and one by one arrows and bolts from the commanding castle put them down again. Arrows thudded into them relentlessly and many slipped off the side of the wreck to die in the bog. A few who made it to the bogside were cut down by the circuiting wraiths. Soon the last dying man’s screams were quelled by the end of a broken lance.

The victor in the black hauberk remounted, then led his wraiths away. When their galloping hooves were far, quacks and chirps began to dominate the atmosphere. The chirps were frantic and the quacks were distressed at first, but after a time they collected and quieted and settled. The ducklings were safe with their mother again, waddling up out of the bog. Within a cozy tussock at the top of the slope, the chicks nestled under their mother’s wings and closed their eyes to sleep. Somewhere yonder, another battle was beginning. That was sure. But here by the bog, everything was peaceful.

The End

There we go! That was just a brief taste of what Knights without Honor has in store. For those of you who prefer hardcover books, I’ll be creating box sets once I finish Book Three of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll in mid-2017! Thanks again for all your love and support!

Our Bloody King (poem featured in upcoming Gods of the Grotto Book One)

He stormed out from his castle

 Harry after hassle

Yearned to win so badly

Sortie after sally

The siege did cost him dearly

During one great battle

He called out from his courser

Yelling O so proudly

You know why they did crown me

I fight for man and country

A spear then caught him aptly

Before his leal knights

Bloody, O so Bloody

Our king did lose his life

bloody grass

The Bird of Wellimgale, a small tale

A wench was wandering down a wynd when a pauper begging for pence stopped her to broach of the Bird of Wellimgale. The wench surmised it a tact to finagle her, but when the pauper told how the Bird would grant her any wish if she kissed it, she allowed herself to be waylaid by his words. He explained how the Bird lived on a precipice that jutted from an enormous bluff. Then he confided in whispers about a secret crystal-laden tunnel that wormed through the ground to meet it.

Flummoxed by his story, the wench became the beggar and begged him to show her the way. To her cheer, he wrung his hands and leered and said he’d love to take her there. Several times they fought for their lives, but with blood on their hands and dirt in their hair, they saw through the tunnel of crystals and emerged to greet the air.

They walked out onto a grassy landing that had one baobab tree. There, high up on the escarpment, they gazed down at a summertime forest. Finally, the moment had arrived, the wench was gleeful to know. ‘O where, O where is the Bird of Wellimgale!’ she called to the sky, excited to make her wish. When no bird came fluttering down to perch in the baobab tree, she frowned at the pauper and asked him where it could be. ‘O where, O where is the Bird of Wellimgale?’

The pauper wrung his hands and leered, then dropped his breeches to his feet. ‘O here, O here is the Bird of Wellimgale. I’ll do anything if you kiss it!’

~ RJ Eveland

Farmer’s Paradise: A Murder Mystery Short Story

Farmer’s Paradise by Timothy RJ Eveland (One of my very first stories from college)

 (A mom, dad, and son are having dinner on a Monday, 2014, somewhere on Vancouver Island)

“Why must we always start dinner with that subject, hey son? Your father says never to disrespect another farmer, tell him honey.”

“Your mother is right, Rupert. Johnson may farm differently than we do but he is still a respected individual in our community.”

“But you saw him this morning, dad, right through the window. We saw him dancing with his dog like a mad man!”

“He wasn’t dancing, son,” said the mother. “He was doing some ritual of some sort. You know right Glenn?”

“Yes Sheryl. It was yoga or tai chi or something.”

“Yeah that’s it; listen to your father, Rupert.”

“But mom, he is not even a farmer. My teacher said that Johnson has a giant garden because he is a veggie junky.”

Glenn stabbed his steak with a fork and said, “His farm only looks like a garden because we live down the road from one of the largest farms on the island!”

“And if you ask me,” said Sheryl, “it’s a delight to a have a beautiful garden beside such an awful farm. When I look out the window it’s a pleasure to see more than just machinery and ugly greenhouses.”

“Why are you guys protecting him all of a sudden?” asked Rupert. “Two weeks ago you guys thought he was a creep!”

“Listen son,” said Glenn, “we may have talked about Johnson at the table before but that’s the reason why we should stop speaking about him.”

“Yes it’s not polite, son.”

“But I remember you said he was crazy, dad.”

“I only said he was crazy because he didn’t take The Dalco Company and Friends’ offer,” said Glenn.

Sheryl quickly wiped her upper lip with a napkin and said, “Yes, what was that offer again, darling? You didn’t get to finish telling us the story.”

“What has gotten over you Sheryl? I thought we had agreed to talk about something else.”

“So we can’t even talk about our neighbours in a good way? Jesus honey, that Bible is changing you,” replied Sheryl with a ghastly tone.

“Yeah, ever since you picked up that Bible, dad, you seem different,” said Rupert.

“The Bible says we shouldn’t speak ill of others,” replied Glenn.

“So then finish telling us this pleasant story, darling, come now; this conversation has turned into a healthy discussion about our neighbour’s welfare.”

“Oh Sheryl, this is the only time I’m telling it. Our friends up the road, The Dalco Company and Friends, as you know, are one of the richest farms on the island. As you probably have noticed, sweetie, their property has been slowly expanding and growing around Johnson’s property ever since we moved here. The Dalcos would have surrounded Johnson’s small property by now if it wasn’t for the lovely Clarkson farm down the road.”

“Yes, I have quite noticed,” announced Sheryl.

“And sweetie,” said Glenn, “you won’t believe this. I’ve talked to Mr. Clarkson at the video store recently; he said he was introduced to one of the Dalco family’s closest friends and has obtained some interesting information.”

“What is it?” asked Sheryl.

“Apparently, the Dalco family, for years, has been offering Johnson millions of dollars for his small farm.”

“And Johnson says ‘no’?” asked Sheryl.

“Yes, he says no! And that’s not even the crazy part,” replied Glenn. “Our kind neighbour, Mr. Clarkson, has offered Johnson even more money than the Dalcos.”

“But that doesn’t make sense, darling. Mr. Clarkson’s farm is smaller than ours. How could he afford it?”

“Mr. Clarkson and his wife had to recently sell that toy store they owned in town; now they are desperate to start something new.”

“Well then, that explains that, Johnson is a fool! I can’t believe he is saying ‘no’ to these people.”

“Like I said Sheryl, it is hard to believe. Mr. Clarkson told me that Johnson is content with keeping his land. Apparently Johnson has already declined the Dalcos over ten times because he has no family and nothing else to live for. But enough about Johnson, tell me how your day…”

“Our property is barely worth millions of dollars. Would you say ‘no’ if they asked us, honey?”

“I don’t know, Sheryl, but I am done speaking about this.”

Glenn sat up from the table and then he threw a napkin onto his plate before he said, “Thanks for dinner Sheryl. It was delicious.”

Glenn walked away swiftly then Rupert laughed and said, “Dad has changed.”

Sheryl smiled, “It’s for the better son, now finish your vegetables.”

Rupert watched his mother as she tidied the table and began to wash the dishes. Every now and then she would look back at him, causing him to stiffen his back and then eat another piece of broccoli. This usually occurred until the vegetables were either eaten or stuffed away somewhere. After Rupert left the table and went up into his room, he sat on a small wooden chair that faced his large window. From there, Rupert could gaze out far into the vast landscapes of his country. Scattered hills with sharp peaks along with mysterious snow covered mountains in the distance created the wide horizon. Tall waving trees revealed the slight movements of large animals along the hillsides. Dark blue bodies of water were shimmering with the sun and sparkling with yellow streaks of light. The sky was like an illuminated marble with swirling colours of purple and gold. And right in plain sight, just across the road, Rupert could see Farmer Johnson pushing his homemade contraption up a field. It was a large wheelbarrow that carried a barrel of water with a sprinkler on top. Johnson could easily push the wheelbarrow along rows of vegetables while a battery powered sprinkler tossed the barrel’s water in all directions. The vegetables got their water while Johnson’s dog, Rex, ran along the edge of Johnson’s property barking at crows and keeping the rats at bay. Rupert laughed slightly and then he heard a floor board creak behind him.

“Knock, knock,” said Glenn from Rupert’s doorway.

Rupert turned around to see his father holding a piece of cake.

“See, there are countless benefits to eating your vegetables,” said Glenn as he handed Rupert the cake.

“Thanks dad.” Rupert started to slowly eat the cake while gazing out the window.

“What are you looking at, son?”

Rupert was silent for a moment. “Dad, do you think Farmer Johnson eats cake?”

Glenn looked out the window and was struck by the beauty of what he saw. “I never realized you had such a good view in here.”

“The clouds usually hide the mountains from view but not today,” replied Rupert.

Glenn looked down the small hill and across the road into Johnson’s field. “What is that thing?” he asked.

“It’s what he uses to water his plants with,” replied Rupert.

Glenn started to laugh. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

“Do you think it’s strange dad?”

“Um, I don’t think it’s strange son, it is creative, in fact; Johnson used to invent stranger things before you were born.”

“But you just said it wasn’t strange?”

“You know what I mean, son. When something is strange it just means that you don’t understand it. Johnson is a creative man and sometimes he does things that people can’t quite understand.”

“I think he is strange,” said Rupert.

Glenn smiled then sat on the bed and faced Rupert with his hands locked. “How would you like to read the Bible with me some time?”

“You mean right now? My teacher said the Bible is too violent for kids.”

“Your teacher seems to say a lot of things. Do you believe everything he says?”

“Shouldn’t I?” replied Rupert.

“There is a difference between facts and opinions my son. I know a lot of people who believe the Bible is meant for children.”

“I still don’t want to read it, dad.”

Glenn looked displeased and then with a wink he said, “That is fine son but don’t think I won’t try to change your mind. Hey, you want to watch a movie tonight?”

“I think I am just going to read, dad.”

Glenn looked surprised. “What are you reading?”

“You won’t like it, dad. It’s not meant for adults.”

“What is it?”

Rupert grabbed a small book from under his pillow then handed it to Glenn.

Glenn studied the book intently. “Are you reading this for school?” “No, I just like it.”

Glenn gave his son a proud look before handing the book back.

“I like the new you,” said Rupert.

Glenn looked down at his feet then sat up from the bed. “It will be tough son, but I think I can stay this way.”

Glenn walked to the door way, faced Rupert and said, “I’ll be watching a movie with your mother in the living room. Come down if you get bored.”

Rupert smiled while Glenn gently left the room. Then in one swift movement, Rupert crawled into bed and picked up his book. As soon as he began to read, he entered a strange world where goblins roamed the country side searching for helpless children to feast on. Hours later, Rupert managed to read until his favourite character was on a dark misty mountain surrounded by a horde of vicious beasts.

“This is a good spot to take a break,” he said. Rupert looked out the window but he only managed to see a dim reflection of himself and then he was suddenly tired. “Is it really past nine?”

Rupert turned off his lamp, gave a relaxing sigh, and then rested his head on a soft pillow while facing the window. Soon his eyes began to slowly adjust to the darkness and then eventually, from across the road, he could see the flickering light emanating from Johnson’s cottage window. Rupert watched Johnson’s window and he seemed to be calmed every time a shadow danced across it. The shadows escalated until the flickering light suddenly disappeared and caused Johnson’s window to become camouflaged with the surrounding darkness. “It’s about that time,” whispered Rupert. Rupert’s eyes adjusted some more as the moon revealed the distant mountains with her divine glow. Rupert whispered, “Beautiful,” as he studied the elegance of the wilderness at night time; then he closed his eyes and was fast asleep.

Downstairs, Glenn and Sheryl’s movie eventually ended. Everyone was asleep but the staircase was illuminated by the moon light drifting in from the living room window, a grandfather clock nearby thumped in rhythm with another high pitched clock that echoed from the kitchen.

Hours passed by and when the clocks rang a quarter past three, all was dark and Rupert was suddenly awoken by the sound of a loud engine. Rupert sat up in his bed when he realized the noises were coming from across the road. He focused his vision on the cold damp window and then peered through it. Movement across the road caught his eye. He leaned closer to the window as he perceived the figure of a large van in Johnson’s drive way. Rupert heard the sound of a car door slamming and then he saw the mysterious van quietly roll away. Rupert kept watching for a while but nothing seemed to happen. He went back into bed and sighed as if he had wanted to see something interesting.

After he rolled onto his back and then looked up at the ceiling, from the corner of his eye he could see something strange. He turned his head and then, to his surprise, he noticed Johnson’s cottage had a glowing aura around it. The sky vibrated with a yellow and orange presence that danced above Johnson’s roof top. Then suddenly, like a dragon swooping up from behind a wall, the tongue of a giant flame sprung up and licked Johnson’s rooftop like a whip. Then as fear ran across Rupert’s skin, he watched as one whole side of Johnson’s cottage quickly became engulfed by monstrous flames. Then, before not even a cougar could have reacted, the fire started to linger all over the rest of the house like mold. Rupert felt his bed shake when the flames suddenly began to roar and snap in the wind like eagles.

Rupert watched as Johnson’s cottage door swung open; Rex squealed like a pig as he dashed outside with his fur on fire. The dog looked like a limping fire ball twirling all over Johnson’s field. Then suddenly, as Rupert covered his eyes from panic, Farmer Johnson’s burnt body started to shuffle and twitch through the cottage door way. Rupert heard screaming and gurgling then he uncovered his eyes for a split second too see that Farmer Johnson had jumped and flailed onto the grass; then Johnson began rolling around, desperately trying to extinguish the flames. Rupert starred as Johnson began to drag his legs across the gravel with one arm and reach towards the moon. As Rupert witnessed the burning flesh, the reflection in his eyes shimmered like dull candles until blue and red lights flashed throughout his room. Rupert watched the firefighters as they began to hose down the burning cottage. Johnson was already shrivelled and completely black when a fireman found his body smoking beside the field.

(Dinner Time, Wednesday, 2014)

“I am telling you guys, I saw a van in Johnson’s driveway! Why won’t you believe me?”

“Rupert, my son, I know you feel bad for Johnson but now is not the time to make up stories. Why didn’t you mention this yesterday?” asked Sheryl.

“I am not making it up! You believe me, right, dad?”

“I just can’t believe that someone would want to burn Johnson alive, son. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Rupert crossed his arms and then seemed to be fairly frustrated.

“I thought you said desert was for after dinner, mom.”

Sheryl put a half eaten cookie back on the desert tray with a sad sigh.

“Can you please pass the pepper, Sheryl,” said Glenn.

The pepper was passed across the table with a dull slowness. The kitchen blinds were closed and the light bulb above them left an artificial tint on everything in the room.

“So I managed to watch a segment about Johnson on the news while I scraped up a lunch today,” said Glenn.

“What did you make? The mess you left on the counter was horrid,” said Sheryl.

“Don’t you care what the news had to say?”

“Why would I care what the news had to say? My sons making up stories and I can almost smell the ashes from here. Those news reporters left tire tracks on our front lawn yesterday for crying out loud!”

“Well, Sheryl, they said it was most likely caused from a candle and they are ending the investigation. After all, we could always see Johnson’s flickering candle by his window.”

“I don’t want to talk about it now, Glenn,” replied Sheryl.

Rupert tried to mix in his vegetables with the gravy so it didn’t taste so strong. Suddenly, the presence of large trucks outside made the cutlery on the table vibrate. Rupert quickly got up to peek through the kitchen blinds. “Wow!” he said.

“What’s going on out there?” asked Sheryl.

Rupert looked back at his mother slowly and then with a shocked look on his face he pulled the blinds open. Sheryl took one look and then she dropped her jaw while slowly trying to get up from her seat. Glenn was in the middle of cutting his steak when he stopped chewing to realize what his eyes were seeing.

“They are already moving in?” asked Sheryl.

“I guess so,” replied Glenn with a shocked look on his face.

The Dalco Company and Friends’ happy looking logo sat on four dirty old farm trucks parked across the road on Johnson’s driveway. Men got out of the trucks and started to shovel the burnt wood and ashes while Mr. Dalco was ordering a few young men to start taking down the fence that separated his property form Johnson’s.

Mr. Clarkson came out of his house on the other side and walked towards Mr. Dalco with his arms crossed. Mr. Dalco waved with a crooked smile then Mr. Clarkson shook his head and seemed disgusted. Mr. Dalco then fingered Mr. Clarkson and they gave each other a cold stare.

Rupert watched the young men start to break down the fence with sledge hammers. “I swear it wasn’t a candle, dad.”

The End