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Authors: Elysa Hendricks

The Sword And The Pen

BOOK: The Sword And The Pen
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Table of Contents
THE SWORD AND THE PEN

By Elysa Hendricks

It was time. After penning ten popular sword-and-sorcery novels, Brandon Alexander Davis was ready to move on. Ready to stop hiding in his fictional world. Ready to start living a
real
life. There was just one problem: as he plotted the noble death of Serilda D'Lar, his fictional creation complete with mile-long sword, skimpy leather outfit and badass attitude, appeared in his study.

Was she nothing more than a crazy fan, or had Brandon finally cracked?

This warrior woman whom he knew so well, so strong yet vulnerable, was both fantasy and reality. She was an invitation to rediscover all he once knew--that life is an incredible, magical journey and, for love, any man can be a hero.

Copyright 2009 & 2012 Elysa Hendricks

Cover images courtesy of images from Dreamstime

Cover by Joleene Naylor

Other titles by Elysa Hendricks

STAR CRASH

THE BABY RACE

COUNTERFEIT LOVE

THIS HEART FOR HIRE

HER WILD TEXAS HEART

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

DEDICATION

For Gerrie, a true warrior woman.

If the pen was truly mightier than the sword,

I'd write you back to life.

SERILDA

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE
 
"Choices determine destiny. Choose wisely." --Brother Eldrin, Order of the Light

While outside a storm raged, Brandon Alexander Davis wrote the final chapter of what he hoped would be his last Warrior Woman book:

Inch by inch Serilda fought her way forward. Lightning streaked across the rolling black clouds, darkening the midday sky. In the brief light her sword flashed crimson. Thunder crashed, drowning the screams of the men dying around her. The stench of death and gore stung her nostrils. Bits of flesh and bone along with a generous amount of blood spattered her face and body.

Despite Hausic's wise counsel, she'd launched a frontal attack against Andre Roark's army. She could see him. A few yards more and she'd break through his guard and cut him down. Arms burning from the strain of fighting for hours, she swung again and. . .

*** *** ***

 

Lightning touched the tip of my upraised sword. A jolt of energy shot through my body. Stunned, I slipped on a puddle of blood and tumbled backwards. My sword flew out of my hand. A blade swept downward toward my neck, and I faced death.

Doubts and regrets about my chosen life aren't something I often consider, but at that moment I regretted my failure to reach my goal--burying my blade deep in Roark's heartless chest--before I died.

Though I kept my eyes wide--it was better to embrace my demise and face my reward or punishment for my sins--I didn't die. Instead, nothingness surrounded me. I blinked to clear the misty haze, but Roark, my troops and the battle that raged around me vanished. Other than my body I could neither see nor feel anything. Fear faded. Time stretched endlessly. How long I existed in that limbo I don't know. As I waited, my irritation grew.

Had a great wizard plucked me from my world? Since Roark, my belief in magic had been fading. If magic still existed, I'd experienced little good from it. Was this a place of safety? A place of death?

A place of judgment?

Though my path has always involved death, I choose with discretion. I take only righteous commissions, and those I hunt are always given the opportunity to surrender. It isn't my fault they rarely do so. Neither do I harm or kill innocents. I'm a mercenary with a solid code of ethics. I fight only for justice and freedom. If I was dead, surely my few slips wouldn't condemn my soul to. . .

Damn it, woman.
The voice spoke without real heat, just resigned frustration. I liked his strange accent. Deep and even, this voice hinted at long nights spent between the sheets.

Why won't you ever do what I tell you to?

"To whom do you speak?" I tried to shout, but no sound came from my throat.

I had Hausic counsel you to stage a sneak attack from the rear, not make a frontal assault on Roark's fortress. But no, you had to do it your way. Three weeks' work and outlining wasted.

A frontal assault? How did this stranger know of my chief counsel's arguments against my plan? Our conversation had been private. Or so I thought. What spy of Roark's had been listening?

The voice I heard in my head gave me my first clue as to where I was and what I had become.

It's my own fault for giving you a conscience, a sense of fair play and a stubborn streak.

I bristled at his assumptions. The monks that took me in after my parents died at Roark's hands were to blame for my conscience, not this disembodied voice. My sense of fair play came from my father and my stubbornness from my mother. Or so I believed. Unease slid down my spine.

If I didn't have other plans, I swear I'd let that barbarian take your head off right now. Let's go back and get it right.

I wanted to argue. To tell him I had gotten it right. The frontal assault was working fine. I'd drawn Roark from his fortress. He was nearly within my reach. It wasn't my fault I'd slipped on the gore left from the battle, was it? But at that point I had no voice--at least none my tormentor could hear.

And this time we'll do it my way.

Before I could blink, I found myself back in my tent a week earlier, Hausic repeating his arguments against a frontal assault. He spluttered when I pushed past him and out into the night. Sword drawn, I slipped around the tent, but found no strangers lurking. The guards stared at me in confusion.

Back in the tent I slumped on my cot, sword dangling between my knees. Hausic pestered me with questions about my unusual behavior until I sent him away, plans for the attack still unresolved. Perhaps a sneak attack was more prudent. Roark's troops had been ready for the frontal assault--unless I had dreamt the last week? I would have considered that the only possibility, gone on with my life if the sultry voice of my wizard tormentor had not then asked,
What is it now, woman? I'm already past my deadline on this damned book!

I searched the small tent, but I knew the voice came from inside my head.

Donoval may be more brawn than brain, but I never had this much trouble with his books.

King Donoval of the kingdom of Shallon was my onetime lover: beautiful as an angel, strong as a bull, and as dense as a rock, at least in matters of the heart. With more than a twinge of regret, I'd kicked Donnie out of my bed and life several years ago. For all his faults, he was spectacular to look at, honorable and a dedicated lover. But his demand that I choose between fighting for my country or becoming his bondmate was more than I could stomach. Marriage was too final a commitment for me.

Cooperate, or I swear I'll write you out of existence in the most painful way I can dream up.

Write me out of existence? The possible answer to what was happening was beyond my ability to believe, but once imagined, the idea wouldn't leave. My breath stilled. Was I indeed some wizard's creation?

*** *** ***

 

Brandon Alexander Davis scratched his stubble with a weary hand. After ten years and ten books, he'd thought he was beyond writer's block. But finishing this book and this series was giving him nothing but grief. He should have stayed with the Donoval series. But no, he'd had to create Serilda. And though fictional, the woman had taken over his life.

When he'd first begun writing fantasy stories, his grandmother, the woman who'd raised him from the age of ten, warned him that words held powerful magic--magic that could consume him, magic that would demand he sacrifice everything, magic that if not carefully controlled would destroy him. At the time he'd laughed. Nonsense! He loved her, but this was just another of her bizarre stories. Once she'd told him they were descendants of an ancient race of sorcerers from Atlantis! The one time he'd asked about his father, who'd vanished before Brandon was born, she'd said he disappeared into a fantasy world of his own creation. After that, Brandon avoided such subjects. Though his grandmother had been a better parent than his mother, in many ways she was just as crazy.

Or, so he'd always thought. But his fictional world was indeed becoming too real. Face it, he talked to his characters, and at times it even felt like they talked back. Maybe this world and magic really was devouring him.

The parallels between Serilda's life and his own were disturbing. Orphaned at a young age, raised by wise elders then left alone again. The truth was, in creating Serilda and her quest, he'd found an outlet for the anger and pain inside himself; but as much as he loved the world he'd created, it was time for him to reconnect with reality. This was Serilda's last quest. It was time to make a clean break. It was time to kill off Serilda. It was time for him to be reborn.

His phone rang. He ignored it, but he couldn't ignore his agent's shrill voice through his answering machine.

"Brandon? Pick up, I know you're there. You're always there. You need to get a life. At least move out of that hick town to Chicago." She paused.

Interesting, that her thoughts echoed his.

"Attend the Sci-con at the mall. Sign some books. Judge the cover model contest. Get your face out there for your fans."

He smiled at what she considered a life: attending fantasy and sci-fi conventions, doing book-signings and judging some cheesy book cover model contest. Hell, no! Especially not the contest. Though he was killing her off, Serilda was his creation. No real woman could match the image in his mind. He wouldn't watch wannabes make the attempt.

Hillary gave a dramatic sigh and continued: "You're already three months past your deadline. The publisher is starting to talk lawsuit, and the movie producer is going to cancel his option if the next Warrior Woman book isn't released on time. You've got to strike while the iron's hot. Make hay while the sun shines."

He cringed at her clichés, something he prided himself on avoiding in his novels. Hillary Raymond was past the cajoling point. She'd reached the demanding and trite stage.

"What's going on with you? You never had these problems with Donoval. Now there was a hunk." Her sigh held a wealth of meaning.

He'd never had problems writing Donoval because Donoval was never a real person to him the way Serilda was. Donoval was simple. Brandon had written him without any deep emotions. Brain and brawn, but no heart--at least not compared to Serilda. Was that another reflection of his own life? Yeah, probably. At the time, Brandon had just buried his grandmother and didn't want to feel.

When he'd first signed with the Raymond Agency, Hillary had assumed that because Brandon looked like Donoval--tall, blonde and muscular--that he was
like
Donoval, and she'd thought they could have a physical relationship as well as business one. Brandon had soon quashed that idea. Hillary was a shark, handy to have on his side in business but uncomfortable as a bed partner. He'd known from the first that if he made the mistake of responding to her offer she'd eat him alive. He might be a physical model for his character--aside from the long hair, iron hard muscles and fighting skills--but inside they were nothing alike. Donoval was honest and honorable. Physically and emotionally secure in his own power. Fearless in the face of death. Kind to small children and animals. A legendary lover. Brandon was the exact opposite.

BOOK: The Sword And The Pen
5.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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