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Elfboy Elfboy (The Pizza Shop Chronicles #1)
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    Goblinprince

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    Goblinprince

    Chapter 1

    Silence filled the grand hall, as it had for many years.The white stone walls and floor reflected early morning sunshine that streamed in through the twelve floor-to-ceiling windows and gleamed lightly on the marble throne that had been carved into the shape of a small tree growing over a rock, the leaves of which would have formed a canopy over the king’s head.

    If there had been a king.

    Technically, I had been considered the king since I was five, twelve years ago when my father died. But I’d never been officially crowned because I hadn’t fully come into my powers—still—and couldn’t wake the Veldstone Crown, which sat on a marble pedestal beside the throne and was considered a symbol of unity between the elf kingdoms of forest and mountain.

    I considered it my nemesis. At least, that’s how I’d felt about it for the past eight or ten years since I hadn’t been able to wake it—the Veldstone, for which the crown had been named, had remained dull black in dormancy ever since my father had died. I hardly remembered when it was awake, but had heard that the stone had been nearly covered in scarlet flames and the stone gave off unlimited power to the one strong enough to wield it. My father had been the first—and last—one to wake it in thousands of years.

    But then his mother, the witch Gildreth, had come when I was only five and killed him.

    Now, I was almost seventeen, and nowhere near being as strong as my father as far as I could tell. It didn’t seem fair that Elrond Higgins, supposedly the most powerful elf alive at the time, had been taken away from Mother and I like that, a sword through his chest. And it was even less fair that he had given his powers to my uncle Chris when he died instead of to me. Chris, being a human from a “magical” world called Kentucky, couldn’t even use elf powers.

    I could. And I needed to be more powerful than I was now. My third storm moon, the time when an elf’s powers peaked, was only three months away, and I couldn’t even get a single red flame to spark in the Veldstone.

    Everyone told me not to worry, that I would be fine, but the closer I got to my birthday and the storm moon that followed, the less I believed them.

    That’s why I tried to often to wake the crown, especially since my last birthday. I needed to be at least as strong as my father—stronger if possible. Even a little flame would’ve made me happy at this point.

    I couldn’t help but sigh as I walked towards the throne, even my soft footsteps echoing strangely in the quietness. I couldn’t count the times I’d dreamed of sitting on the throne, feeling the cool marble around me, looking down on the rest of the hall. But I’d never dared actually climb the steps to sit in it. I considered it a sacred spot, something that shouldn’t be sat on until everything was official—and I woke the Veldstone.

    I stopped a few steps away from the crown, hating the way it seemed to glare at me in a mocking, taunting way. If I didn’t have to wake it to keep the two kingdoms together, I’d’ve probably thrown it out the window into the gorge by now.

    Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath, willing my powers to focus on the crown, forcing the air around me to grow chill and icy. I hardly dared look a few seconds later when the cold abated.

    But I did… and nothing had happened. Nothing at all. The Veldstone was still just a black stone in a silver crown. Just like it always had been.

    I sighed again, wishing I could make the flames dance in it the way my father had when he was king.

    At the time, I couldn’t think of anything worse than if the storm moon came and I couldn’t wake the crown. If the kingdoms were divided again. How could I be satisfied with only being the mountain king while living in the shadow of my father’s legacy? As I said before, he was Elrond Higgins—the most powerful elf anyone knew of since our ancestor, King Narya, had come over the mountains over thirteen thousand years ago during a civil war and united the people.

    My father had even overcome goblin bites. Something that never happened before, or since, as long as the oldest elves could remember.

    And I was just Alastair.

    I hadn’t even been allowed to rule the past twelve years I’d been called king. It was all done for me by Mother and an elf named Brudak, whom I’d always been impartial to since he’d survived on the day my father had not.

    I let a third sigh loose. This one of frustration—with Brudak, my mother, my father, the crown. Everything.

    The crown seemed to be laughing at me again, mocking, daring me to try, and fail, again. I hated the way it stared, silently taunting.

    My eyes, generally silver like Mother’s, flared orange—something I’d inherited from my father being bit by goblins. No one understood why, but I’d found that it only happened when I was feeling frustrated or angry. Sometimes just when I had a sword in my hand.

    Having no real reason to be angry, except maybe with myself, I reached out a hand to knock the crown over. I’d had more than enough of its tormenting over the years. In fact, I couldn’t understand at all why the thing was kept around here. I’d never want to wear the ridiculous thing.

    An electric jolt raced up my arm as I brushed the ice cold metal, and I forgot to keep moving.

    The image of an elf with red eyes and overgrown teeth flashed through my mind. Blackened patches of what looked like mildew covered his skin.

    The worst part was that I instantly recognized him.

    It was me. Turned goblin.

    Startled, I jerked my hand away from the crown with such force that I landed on my back on the floor. The orange left my eyes the same as the breath left my lungs. Maybe I got some sense knocked into my head as well, there was a lump at least.

    An uneasiness came over me as I lay on the floor, staring up at the crown and gasping for breath. This was the second time in a week the crown had shown me that image of myself and I knew it had to mean something. I’d told Brudak about it last time, but he only laughed sarcastically and said I was letting all the excitement go to my head.

    And this time, the crown laughed. The same silent laugh as before, but I could almost feel it shuddering throughout the entire hall.

    Starting to feel chills of fear and confusion race along my spine, I stumbled to my feet as quickly as I could and ran from the room, slamming the heavy wooden door behind me. As if those feelings could be left behind in the grand hall, I leaned against the door to leave them there and stayed until my breath came even before I left, walking slowly down the hall and hoping that no one saw me.

    I was just thinking I might make it to the courtyard unseen when I turned the corner to see Mother walking towards me. Her black dress swished delicately along the stone floor and her long dark hair hung loose past her waist.

    “You tried to wake the crown again, didn’t you, Alastair?” she asked, a wry smile just missing her face, but evident in her eyes.

    “I’ll get it one of these days,” I said jokingly as I realized again that my mother’s head barely came to my shoulder anymore. It made me feel awkwardly like a giant.

    “But you should wait until the storm moon,” Mother said. “And it doesn’t really matter whether or not you wake it at all, so quit worrying.”

    I didn’t respond and instead relisted everything that could happen in my head. How could it not matter? The crown literally held the kingdoms together, like a single stitch in an already tearing fabric.

    “It doesn’t matter,” she repeated, more to herself than to me. Then she walked on, sighing and shaking her head.

    I watched her walk around the next corner knowing that I should’ve told her about the vision the crown had been showing me. It was certainly more than the crown’s typical teasing.

    But I didn’t want to believe it could be anything to worry about.

    Shaking my own head, I continued my walk to the courtyard, and then to the gardens, where I found my cat, a huge, gray-striped tabby, lying in a patch of sunlight on the ground. 

    No one knew exactly where the cat came from. I’d found him wandering the castle shortly after my father died and begged Mother to let me have him. I’d even asked Cook to let me have the job of feeding the cat. I just never figured out a name for him, so I just called him Cat. Very original and creative.

    “Hi, Cat,” I said, sitting down on the ground and petting him.

    He purred loudly for about a minute, then decided to turn it into a game and try to bite me.

    Booted footsteps sounded behind me, but I didn’t bother to look up. I knew who it was.

    “Still playing with that cat?” Brudak asked, sounding disgusted.

    “Does it matter?” I retorted.

    “Not really except that kings don’t generally play with any animals.”

    I turned to face him. The only elf I knew of as tall as me, Brudak always carried with him an air of superiority. He had once been a lord of the forest, living in the caverns with the rest of the forest elves, but, after helping my father drive the goblins out of the mountain castle, found himself too important to continue living in the forest.

    And, he seemed to feel the need to remind me over and over again that he had been my father’s trusted friend. Probably because he had once been my grandfather’s enemy—they had fought a duel over my grandmother, the witch Gildreth, and Brudak lost, walking away with a scar that stretched the entire length of his face.

    Considering that my grandmother had killed my father and grandfather, I would really say that Brudak came out on the good end—even being the only survivor of a goblin attack when the witch came back to kill my father.

    That last one was probably the biggest reason I disliked him, and I don’t think I was the only one. Mother, I knew, only kept him around the castle because he made himself useful. My aunt Tachla absolutely hated him.

    “Well,” I said in answer to his remark. “They still call me the prince, so I guess it doesn’t matter at all if I play with the cat.”

    “True,” Brudak said, crouching down beside me. “But you will be the king soon.” He reached out a hand towards Cat, who instantly leapt up and ran into the bushes. Obviously, Cat didn’t care for Brudak either, which I thought was entirely understandable since Brudak had suggested drowning him as a kitten. It made me wonder often if he’d have done the same thing to me. “Have you studied your Latin today?”

    “No, it’s worthless. It’s not even a language from our world. I’ve studied the Elvish, Fairy, and Ancient Fire-breather. I don’t need to learn a dusty old human language as well.”

    “I couldn’t agree with you more, but I believe that your father wanted you to learn it, otherwise he wouldn’t have started teaching it to you. And how about your swordsmanship?” The way he talked, Brudak acted like he was in charge of my entire education.

    “I’m fine with a sword.”

    “Could you say the same thing against a host of goblins?”

    I shrugged my shoulders. “I can beat the instructor nearly every time.”

    Brudak nodded. “That just means it’s time for a new instructor.” He stood, dusting off his clothes, and went into the castle, leaving me contentedly to myself.

     

    ***

    Goblinprince is the second book of The Pizza Shop Chronicles, taking place in the rural small town of Orangeboro, Kentucky, the summer of 2035. It’s not out just yet, but coming soon!

    Thank you for reading, I look forward to seeing you around Orangeboro, where I can often be found hanging around Benny’s Pizza or wherever I think I might find a good story, and there are many of them around here! This one, though it doesn’t happen for a few years after Elfboy, I assure you it is a grand story, perhaps even better written as I find that my writing grows better everyday.

    Come back soon! 🙂