Quit Monkeying Around - Excerpt from The Baron's Heart
It's mid-March, and we've hit the three hundred page mark in the Baron's Heart. When all is said and done, I believe we will have a four hundred page novel to round out the series.
A lot happens in this installment. The young heroes travel all over Thac, everywhere from Ravenford to Vermoorden, to Tarsmoor in central Thac, and even Lukescros, the home of the famous Harvest Fest Faire. The heroes also face a great many perils including assassins, flesh golems, vampires, and more dark mages.
There is plenty of action, but we also delve deeper into many of the characters' personas and backgrounds. One of those characters in particular is Donatello. In this final book of the Heroes series, we will get a peek at what makes Donnie tick. There is a great secret hidden in the slim elf's past, something that drove his wanderlust and devil-may-care attitude with the opposite sex.
Other characters have their own inner demons to face. Glolindir must finally come to terms with Elistra leaving. Martan must learn to deal with Kalyn, the woman he left behind. Seth has a crisis of conscience which may take him down the dark path of his ancestors, a path he has desperately tried to avoid till now.
Much will be resolved this go round, but many questions will remain, questions that just beg for a follow up series. Yet for now, let's focus on the craziness that ensues as the heroes try to learn more about the Baron's past. To that end, they attempt to hunt down his one time traveling companion, the Wizard Maltar.
Maltar disappeared from Ravenford under mysterious circumstances a few weeks prior. New evidence surfaces suggesting that he traveled to the city of Tarsmoor in central-eastern Thac. Thus, Glolindir, Lloyd, Elladan, and Donnie head there to seek out the missing wizard. Yet what they find is not at all what they expected.
Hope you enjoy this month's excerpt. Feel free to leave comments below and see you all again here next month!
The golem led them down a level to an open doorway. Through it Glo spied rows upon rows of shelves lined with books of all sizes and colors. Their large host led the way in, the rest of them keeping a respectable distance.
Glo spun around, his mouth agape as his gaze fell on bookshelves in all directions. Based on the number of shelves and their size, he estimated the room to contain somewhere between twenty to twenty-five thousand books. This is easily as large as my father’s library back home.
A jab in his side caused him to return his gaze to their strange host. The golem had stopped in the middle of the room, next to a perch with a monkey on it. The little simian wore a small deep-blue fitted robe.
As they stopped and stared, the monkey spoke. “I am the great Gaither. What brings you unbidden to my humble abode?”
Glo arched a single eyebrow. Gaither was a powerful wizard during the time of the mad Emperor Naradon. The tall elf pushed his way in front of the others. “Gaither? The wizard Gaither?”
The monkey looked over either shoulder, then twisted its lips to one side. “Do you see another one?”
Go exchanged a glance with Elladan and Donnie. Both appeared as perplexed as he. He returned his gaze to the small primate. “How is that possible? Gaither vanished over seven hundred years ago, along with the Emperor Naradon.”
The monkey turned to the golem and cackled. “You hear that, Mog? The elf dresses like a wizard, but can’t figure out something as simple as reincarnation.”
The golem remained silent.
Raven fluttered her wings on Glo’s shoulder. “Monkeui edan. Monkeui edan.” Monkey man, monkey man.
The monkey screeched with laughter. “Ha! The bird’s smarter than the elf!”
The wizard glared at the little simian.
Elladan sidled up next to Glo. “Wait a minute. If I recall correctly, there’s a tower on the northmost island of Tarsmoor that belonged to Gaither.”
The monkey grinned at him. “Look at that, Mog. This elf actually has a brain.”
As Elladan eyed the simian sharply, Donnie inched up on Glo’s other side. “I thought that tower was sealed—that no one’s been in or out since Gaither disappeared?”
The monkey threw up its hands and shrugged. “Okay, you got me. I’m not Gaither. I’m his familiar—but he left this tower to me!”
The three elves exchanged another glance.
Glo narrowed an eye at the little simian. “So, this whole time you’ve been holed up in here?”
The monkey swept its hand around him and bent its lips sideways. “What can I say? I’ve had a lot to read.”
Fafnar huffed behind them. “Are we done talking to this idiotic thing? Don’t we have more important matters to attend to?”
The monkey jeered at the noble. “Who you calling an idiot? With all the knowledge I’ve amassed over the years, my brain is probably twice the size of yours.”
Fafnar leveled a haughty stare at the small primate. “I highly doubt that.”
The monkey folded its arms and glared at Fafnar.
Lloyd stepped between the pair and held up his hands in front of him. “Sorry if we offended you, Gaither. We just came here looking for someone. Maybe you know him? The wizard Maltar?”
The monkey turned its nose up in the air. “Maltar. That hack? Yes, he was here. Come and gone.”
Glo eyed the monkey curiously. “What do you mean come and gone?”
The small simian glared at Fafnar, then turned its head away. “I’m obviously too stupid to answer you.”
“Dunwynn diplomacy strikes again,” Donnie muttered under his breath.
Fafnar fixed the elf with an unkind stare.
Meanwhile, Lloyd tried to mollify the monkey once more. “Please don’t be like that. Would it help if Fafnar apologized to you?”
Fafnar folded his arms across his chest. “You’re crazy if you think I’m going to apologize to that little hairy creature.”
The nobleman turned his head away. Man and monkey stood there silently mirroring each other’s pose. It would have been comical if the need to find Maltar wasn’t so pressing.
“Do you want to help revive the Baron or not?” Lloyd urged the noble.
Fafnar glared at him then let out an exasperated sigh. “Oh, very well.” He shifted his gaze to the little simian. “I am quite sorry if I have leveled any offense in your direction. Now, can you please tell us where Maltar went?”
It appeared for a moment as if the monkey was going to capitulate, but then it drew itself up and said, “It’s too late for that. You’ve worn out your welcome.” He glanced at the large golem. “Mog, please escort this ‘riffraff’ out of our home.”
The large creature nodded then lumbered forward toward the companions.
Lloyd stepped back and drew his blades. “Can’t we talk about this?”
“The time for talk is over,” the monkey insisted.
As the large golem reached for them, Lloyd’s blades came alight with red flame. The tall warrior waded in under those slow-moving arms and slashed the golem twice across its torso. They were shallow cuts causing minor damage, but the creature paused in its tracks and uttered a single word.
The monkey shrieked at the top of its lungs. “You hurt Mog! Tog, get in here!”
A door on the other side of the room swung open and a second flesh golem lumbered through it. This one was as big as Mog, but was wearing an ill-fitted cook’s outfit.
“Kill them!” the monkey shrieked. “Kill them all!”
As Mog and Tog lumbered forward, the monkey leaped off its perch to the top of a nearby bookshelf. From there it leapt all the way up to a chandelier hanging above them.
Down below, Fafnar drew his weapons as he and Lloyd prepared to face the golems.
“Catch the monkey!” Elladan cried. “Then we can force it to call off its servants.”
Easier said than done, Donnie thought to himself. He’d been in some strange predicaments before, but this might just be one of the weirdest.
Donnie swept his eyes across the ceiling and around the room. The chandelier was too high to reach from the ground, but it wasn’t that far from the ceiling. It gave him an idea.
Donnie leaned close to Glo and whispered, “Keep the monkey distracted. I’m going to try something.”
The wizard responded with a subtle nod.
Music filled the room as Lloyd and Fafnar engaged the golems in earnest. Elladan had conjured his lute and played an inspiring tune for his comrades.
Meanwhile, Glo had sent Raven to fly around the chandelier. The wizard then cast a spell and floated up to join them. As he approached, the little simian screamed.
“Get away from me! I warn you. I’ll hit you with a fire ray.” The monkey lifted its small hand and pointed a finger at the wizard.
Glo momentarily flinched, but nothing happened.
“Seriously, can’t we just talk this over?” the wizard implored.
While Glo, kept the monkey busy, Donnie rushed over to the opposite wall. He spoke the words that invoked his magical boots, “Aranea Ascenditur,” then began to climb upward.
As Donnie reached the ceiling and clambered across, he caught a glimpse of the battle below. Lloyd and Fafnar were locked in a fierce struggle with the two golems. Magic had little effect on those creatures, so neither the fire or the ice the two warriors generated did any good. Yet Lloyd’s black blade appeared to be doing damage.
Of course. It’s made of star metal.
The material was so strong that it could cut through almost anything. Donnie hoped it would be enough to hold off the golems, at least until they could catch the monkey.
The slim elf was close to the chandelier now. Glo had the little simian completely turned in the opposite direction.
“I’m telling you, I’ll fry you!” the monkey threatened again. The creature abruptly shifted its aim toward Raven. “Forget that. I’ll fry your bird!”
Glo face darkened with anger. He leveled a finger back at the small primate. “If you’re not careful, you’re the one who’s going to get fried.”
The monkey responded by skittering around the chandelier. “Go ahead, take your best shot.”
Donnie sighed inwardly. This was not going to be easy. A sudden idea came to him from his days on the pirate coast. The slim elf reached back and pulled off his cloak. He wound it around his arm then waited until the monkey was nearest to him.
The end of the cloak shot out and wrapped around the simian’s waist. Donnie gave it a swift yank, and the monkey flew backwards right into his waiting arms.
Donnie spun the little primate around to face him. Its tiny body trembled with fear. Donnie felt a moment of remorse, then realized his friends’ lives were at stake.
“Call off your servants!” he barked at the small creature.
“Stop!” the monkey wailed at the top of its lungs.
Directly below them the two golems halted their attack. Lloyd appeared relatively fine, but Fafnar already had a couple of bruises.
Unfortunately, Donnie had taken his eye off his small captive. The monkey savagely twisted its body out of his grasp and fell to the floor below. It landed on all fours, then scampered toward the stairs with a loud cry, “Kill them all! Especially the thin elf!”
Donnie cursed himself as he leapt from the ceiling to the floor below. A puddle of grease suddenly appeared in front of the monkey, yet the agile creature slid through it, shooting out into the stairwell.
Elladan snapped his fingers. “Dragon dung! I thought I had him!”
As Donnie skirted around the puddle, Glo and Raven shot through the air past him. Donnie was right behind them as they hastened after their quarry.
The monkey careened down the stairs, screaming for help the entire time.
“I hope there aren’t more of those golems,” Donnie yelled to Glo.
“There are more,” the little simian taunted over its shoulder. “A lot more!”
Donnie cast a quick glance at Glo. “If we don’t stop him soon, we’re all as good as dead.”
The monkey reached the next landing and skittered through the doorway. The two elves passed through the threshold a few moments later. This was another circular room similar to the two above them, but this one was decorated like a dining area.
The monkey leapt onto the dinner table and skittered along its length, still screaming for help. Glo went around the one side avoiding the chandeliers while Donnie hurried down the other.
The nimble elf reached the end of the table just before the monkey, but the agile simian leapt right over his head. Donnie grasped for the creature nonetheless, but it was too late.
Yet before it could reach the doorway, a black blur swept in front of it. Raven hovered before the little simian, blocking its path.
“I warned you not to get in my way!” the monkey jeered. It swiped a long limb at the black bird knocking it out of the air.
A scream erupted from behind Donnie, the slight elf flinching as a red-hot beam shot past him. It connected with the monkey, the small creature immediately erupting into flames. Hot fur flew in all directions. By the time it hit the ground, all that was left of the little monkey was a single paw.