Whatcha Reading Wednesdays: Ackerley’s Sweet and Tempermental Tulip

My Dog Tulip is J. R. Ackerley’s honest and often witty memoir of his years spent with his possessive, fiercely loyal, highly intelligent, sometimes insecure German Shepherd, Tulip (Queenie). Tulip, who began her life in a neglectful home, is a handful. A canine hero only to her master, and sometimes not even to him, Tulip presents a face to the outside world that is often short of charming. She barks and growls, she comes in between Ackerley and just about everyone else, she panics and pouts when she can’t be with him, and she doesn’t always listen to him. She also loves Ackerley, who freed her from her abusive home, with a devotion that inspires and intimidates.

Instead of resorting to anthropomorphic devices to bring Tulip into our human understanding, Ackerley allows Tulip to be the dog she is and, instead, brings us into her world. The magic of this book is that it provides a journey into the animal world in a manner that respects and tries to understand the animal on the animal’s terms, much like Monty Roberts did for horses in The Man Who Listens to Horses.

Consider Ackerley’s lament after Tulip had a late-night accident while they were guests in a friend’s home. Tulip had fussed and pawed at the door to get Ackerley to take her outside to relieve herself, but he, believing that she that just wanted to chase the friend’s cat, ignored her and went back to sleep. The dog, showing more sense than her owner, “laid her mess on the linoleum.”

I was more than touched. I was dreadfully upset. My pretty animal, my friend, who reposed in me a loving confidence that was absolute, had spoken to me as plainly as she could. She had used every device that lay in her poor brute’s power to tell me something, and I had not understood her. True, I had considered her meaning, but she was not to know that for I had rejected it; nor could I ever explain to her that I had not totally misunderstood but only doubted: to her it must have seemed that she had been unable to reach me after all. How wonderful to have had an animal come to one to communicate where no communication is, over the incommunicability of no common speech, to ask a personal favor! How wretched to have failed! Alas for the gulf that separates man from beast: I had had my chance, now it was too late to bridge it. O yes, I could throw my arms about her as I did, fondle and praise her in my efforts to reassure her that it was all my fault and she was the cleverest person in the world. But what could she make of that? I had failed to take her meaning, and nothing I could ever do could put that right.

Next up on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die (James Mustich) list, three unique books by three unique Adamses: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, and Watership Down by Richard Adams.

Happy reading, everyone! Feel free to share what you are reading or any favorite books about animals that you have read.

©️2020 Tanya Cliff

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Whatcha Reading Wednesdays

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of James Munstich’s wonderful book, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, A Life-Changing List, thinking “someday” and “wouldn’t that be fun.” Then the coronavirus hit, and my thoughts changed to “now” and “because I can.”

A week into my reading adventure, I am midway through my third book in the A’s, Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abby, a compilation of nature-inspired essays based on the author’s three seasons as a park ranger in Arches National Monument in southeastern Utah in the days before that park was infiltrated by paved roads and thousands of tourists. The book strikes me as a cross between Aldo Leopold’s eloquent A Sand Country Almanac and Henry Miller’s brutal The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. Abbey’s insightful descriptions of the rugged beauty of unbridled nature and his unapologetic cries against the growing exploitation of those lands brought about by mining and tourism make for a lyric, poignant read. I am thoroughly engrossed.

“There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light which it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary.”

(Edward Abbey, from the essay, Solitaire)

If you are curious, I plan on continuing to log my progress through a weekly update here on WP, sharing snippets and thoughts from favorite books as I go. Please join me and share the books you are reading or want to read. Happy reading!

©️2020 Tanya Cliff

Writer’s Workshop

Exciting News!
I am going to be hosting a weekly Writer’s Workshop over at the Go Dog Go Café on Saturdays, beginning March 7th. Please join me there for a fun, challenging opportunity to stretch your writing skills in the Café’s warm, friendly environment. I love the group at GDG! I’m thrilled to be joining them, especially in a format that explores the power of language in storytelling.

The Writer’s Workshop will stick with a single prompt response each month, limited to 150-300 words, and involve several editing challenges to the same response designed to sharpen prose. The schedule is as follows:

Week 1: The Fastball
This week, I will introduce some element of good prose and/or share encouraging words from favorite authors. Then, I will pitch the Fastball prompt. Participants can link their responses in the comments section, and I will share them the following week.

Week 2: Batting Practice
This week, I will continue the discussion and share the responses from Week 1’s Fastball.
The challenge to participants this week will be to cut at least 10% of words from their response in week 1, tighten their prose. The 10% cut comes from Stephen King’s On Writing, one of several writing books that you will hear me refer to on occasion. The cut might seem arbitrary, but it forces concision and encourages the use of powerful language.

Week 3: Curveball Challenge
And just when you think you mastered it…
This week, I will throw a curveball, a specific challenge designed to improve prose, some element to be added to the response from the Batting Practice in Week 2. We will use this challenge to explore some of the grammatical tools that can be used to create tension and drama on the sentence level in our writing.
I will also show how I handled the 10% cut from Week 2 (including my word counts) and provide links to the Week 2 responses of participants.

Week 4: Players at the Plate
I will sum up the month’s activities, show how I handled Week 3’s Curveball Challenge, and link to all the other participants’ rewrites. Writing is hard work. You can expect a lot of encouragement and praise from me along the way.

I hope you will pull up a chair in the Go Dog Go Café and join me for the Writer’s Workshop. Visit the Go Dog Go Café to learn more.



This Happened…

The Legend of the Lumenstones received perfect ratings across all categories in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published book competition for 2018.

Judges comments:


“You’ve created a world and set of characters that ranks up there with the great quest novels like The Lord of the Rings and even Harry Potter. I enjoyed your succinct writing style that brought all this to life without overdoing the descriptions. I felt I was right alongside Mattoby and his motley crew as they go in search of the lumenstones. I loved the adventures they go through. I like how you made your characters believable and not one dimensional. You gave them each distinct personalities that weren’t stereotypical. Your pacing was wonderful – I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Great fantasy fiction.” – Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.


Ratings scaled from 0 to 5, with 5 considered “outstanding”:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5


🎄Looking for a Christmas present for the book lovers on your list?🎄

The Legend of the Lumenstones 

Books 1-3

now available in one epic volume in eBook and paperback



Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in review books, & Legend of the Lumenstones.

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Review: The Legend of the Lumenstones ~ by Patty at Dreampack

Among the blogs and websites I follow myself, I have a few authors on my weekly reading list. For Katherin E. Garland I wrote my first review on my website in Patty-style as I like to call it, because I am not an official reviewer 😉 Last year, I  also wrote two reviews for Richard M. Ankers and one for another talented writer Tanya Cliff.

Since then, Tanya has finished the third book of her series and its high time I share with you my thoughts on it. The review regarding the first two parts you can read HERE (click)

I don’t like cliffhangers, therefore, normally, I try to stay away from series. Once hooked on a story however, I am apparently an addictive person and will watch or read everything. Having read parts one and two, I just had to read the next part.

My thoughts on the third book:

The author takes the heroes of the story on an adventurous journey and her writing style will make you laugh, cry, fear together with the characters. I am still debating whether I want to be a Gat or a Lightbearer, I surely hope I will never turn into a werewolf.

A while ago I found a little white round stone and I couldn’t help wondering if it could be a Lumenstone. If that is good or evil, you really have to read the book(s) for yourself 😉

Like I wrote in the previous review: Tanya created wonderful different personalities, living in a world easy to imagine and an intriguing story-line.
And if that isn’t enough, she also created thrilling twists in a vivid way, hence the easiness to lose yourself in this imaginary world.

Dear Tanya, once again, many thanks for your gift: The book itself and your willingness to share your talent with us readers and publish your pieces of art. The signed copy was one of my favorite birthday gifts this year 🙂

Visit this talented writer and Beautiful Soul at her website, on which you can find of course all information to order The Legends, but also beautiful other pieces of art as poetry and photographs.


My note: Thank you, Patty! This made my day! You can read the review for Legends here

and check out Patty’s lovely blog here.

You can check out additional reviews and purchase the book @Amazon.

Nine – Chapter 4, The Jealous Prince

“I am Reglan,” said the captain. “No Matter, know this…
Your flesh will not be wasted.”

Mattoby the Gat takes his motley crew on a quest to uncover the secret of the Lumenstones and the evil forces unleashing them. On their journey, they encounter the disturbing Goblin Haunts, battle a group of witches and struggle to survive hostile terrain and each other’s tempers.

Their path takes an unexpected turn when Anditor, the young son of Vidor, describes his encounter with Reglan, the Lord of the Werewolves, and the chest of stones aboard his pirate ship…

…a story that will lead the nine into peril.



Chapter 4 – The Jealous Prince


“I wish you would reconsider.”

Eijivar stood from packing his sack. His bow and arrows were lined up neatly on the floor by his bag. His great sword and several daggers were already sheathed in his belt. He wore the travel clothes of the guard in plain greens and browns. The only exception was the intricate embossing of emerald threads forming vines down the arms of his shirt. He wore calf-high leather boots, and a travel cloak was folded on the floor next to his things. He kept his back to the Great King. When he finally did look up, it was to stare out over the grand balcony framed by three archways into his rooms.

“She has made her decision?”

“Yes, and it is sealed.”

“You didn’t know?”

“He kept it from everyone. Can you blame him?”

Eijivar snorted and went back to packing. The King observed him for a few minutes in silence.  Eijivar had served him faithfully for countless years like a son. He was proud, arrogant even by Valdaren standards, but he was a fierce fighter, unrelenting in battle. He would have made a good match for any other Valdaren princess, but he was never right for Lorien. The King had always known that. He knew his daughter’s heart and mind. He agreed with her decision. He hated her timing. Eijivar could not be replaced by a dozen Valdaren guard.

“This isn’t just about Lorien.”

Eijivar stood. He placed his hands on his belt. The fingertips of his right hand brushed the handle of his sword.  He turned to face the King.

“Really? Maybe not for the rest of the world, but it certainly is for you…and it was…for me.”


But the Valdaren prince raised his hand, palm up, toward the King. There were no words that would convince him.  The King sighed deeply. He placed his hand over his chest and bowed. When he straightened, he walked out of the room and shut the door behind him. He nodded to the two guards waiting in the hall for him, trying their best not to look astonished at the bow their King had just given to Eijivar and that man’s refusal to acknowledge it.

“Notify the rest of the company that we will meet in one hour,” he instructed.

“What about Ajie and Lorien?” one of the man asked.

“They are waiting in my chambers. I will inform them.”

Behind the door, Eijivar stared outside, motionless. The only change in him was that his hand was now wrapped tightly around the handle of his sword, the muscles of his arm straining. Fury welled inside him. Had he known the night before that Ajie had that ring, things would have ended differently. He would not have backed down for a second. Ajie had been wise in hiding it. It was an irrevocable bond. Eijivar knew that. And yet…

He bent over and packed his cloak into his bag. He secured the bag and threw it over his shoulder and did the same with his bow and arrows. He crossed over to the wall opposite the terrace. The long wall was decorated up and down with ancient weapons he had collected. Some of them were so rare that they were priceless in the cities of men. He gently removed an ornate dagger from the straps that held it securely to the wall. He rolled it over in his hands and admired it. It was a goblin dagger that pre-dated the Great Wars. The handle was carved from dragon bone depicting a battle between a phoenix and a dragon. He ran his fingers along its curvatures. It was his favorite. He removed the dagger from its sheath and stuck the sheath in his bag. He allowed the dagger to drop out of his hand onto the floor. The old bone cracked down the middle, separating the soaring phoenix from the fire-breathing dragon.

Eijivar left the room, not bothering to close the door behind him. He walked quietly down the hallway to the back exits. He descended the long, spiral stone staircase to the bottommost tier of balconies and vanished into the woodlands, traveling in a westerly direction.


Book 2, “Nine”, is available now in all eBook formats at Smashwords 

and available in eBook and softcover at Amazon:


Book 1, “The Lightbearer”, is available as a FREE eBook at Smashwords.




All material Copyright ©2017 Tanya Cliff

Nine – Chapter 3, Reglan

“I am Reglan,” said the captain. “No Matter, know this…
Your flesh will not be wasted.”

Mattoby the Gat takes his motley crew on a quest to uncover the secret of the Lumenstones and the evil forces unleashing them. On their journey, they encounter the disturbing Goblin Haunts, battle a group of witches and struggle to survive hostile terrain and each other’s tempers.

Their path takes an unexpected turn when Anditor, the young son of Vidor, describes his encounter with Reglan, the Lord of the Werewolves, and the chest of stones aboard his pirate ship…

…a story that will lead the nine into peril.



Chapter 3 – Reglan


The chest landed with a thud a few feet away from his hiding place, kicking up sand that almost made him sneeze. It was black with a strange marking on the side and chained heavily all around. The mark was shaped like a D on top with twist dropping down from it. Anditor squinted and cocked his head. From that angle, it looked like a snake falling off a ledge. Once he righted his head, he thought it looked most like a D.

He had listened, trembling but curious, as the group of noisy men approached. One of them sat down on the log he was hiding behind a few feet down from him. The man tossed a pile of furs to the ground, still wet with sticky blood, fat and skin. It made Anditor’s empty stomach churn. He thought he might vomit and clamped his mouth shut. He stared at the pile. It included small game pelts, like rabbit, and larger game, like lynx, all freshly killed and skinned. Each of the men had a similar pile strung together. There were five men in all and dozens of pelts.

“They have spotted us.”

“Good. Best to get this over quickly. We’ll take our pay and head into the woods,” the man sitting on the log responded.

“Didn’t Legard mumble some warning about nightfall? It is getting dark,” said the man standing closest to the chest. Anditor could only see his legs, but those were skinny and bent.

“Legard was drunk.”

“We all were drunk. Still…,” he said.

“Look, Fink. Legard is a moron. If he had any brains, he would have brought this chest here himself and collected the money. The pay on this job is worth hundreds of pelts.”

The other men started laughing. A long boat was lowered into the water. Several men climbed into it and picked up the oars. Another man, larger than all the rest, with a mane of dark hair swirling wildly around him in the wind and his ripped shirt flapping over his broad chest, climbed over the side of the ship and down the ropes to the boat. The boat swayed under his muscular mass. A slender, hooded figure, much shorter than all the rest, followed him. The men on the shore stopped laughing.

“They are huge,” whispered Fink.

“Bah…,” responded the man on the log, but Anditor caught the flash of the steel blade of a dagger and heard the crunch of bark as the man pushed it into the log.

“I don’t like this,” Fink said softly. “I don’t like this at all. It doesn’t…feel right.”

The men watched silently as the boat arrived at the river bank and its passengers disembarked. One of them anchored the boat on the shore and stayed beside it. The others approached. As they got out of the boat, Anditor caught a glimpse of the face of the hooded figure, a face with delicate features and large eyes that sparkled in the moonlight. He thought it must be a woman.

As they came closer, he could only see them from the thighs down. He cocked his head again to try to see their faces, but he could only see to their hips. The captain approached the man on the log. Anditor was shaking, trying to be still.

“You are the captain?” asked the man on the log.

The captain stepped over to the pile of skins that man had tossed on the ground next to the chest. He stooped down and sniffed them. From that angle, Anditor had a close-up view of his face. He had a strong, rigid jaw line and thick, powerful neck. His dark, piercing eyes studied the pile with an intensity that made Anditor’s heart race with fear. He reached down to touch the topmost pelt. Even his hands were hairy and strong. The man growled deeply under his breath and stood. Anditor shuddered and fought to keep still.

“You are Skinners,” the captain said in a low, throaty voice.

“What is that to you?” asked the man on the log. The tremble in his voice betrayed his otherwise cool demeanor. “We have delivered your chest. Give us our money, and we will be on our way. That was the arrangement.”

“What is your name?” the captain asked.

“No matter,” the man answered. Anditor heard the crack of wood. The man had removed the dagger from the log and scraped it along the bark. “Pay up. We will be gone.”

“No Matter,” asked the captain. “Did you eat these animals?”

The man on the log said nothing. There was an uncomfortable silence. The captain responded with a low, impatient growl.

“We…we,” responded Fink. “We didn’t have time, Sir. We…we were in a rush to deliver…your goods. They are right here. Look. See?”

Anditor’s father had warned him about Skinners. They were reviled among the hunters of the Trividian Forest.  Skinners hunted solely for the pelts they could trade in far off cities, harvesting as many skins as they could carry and leaving the rest of the carcass to rot. The hunters of the Trividian wasted nothing. The animals were their source of food and clothing. Even the fat of the animals was used to make oils and soaps and the bones to make stews and tools. Skinners only wanted a profit. The man was lying. The captain knew it. Anditor did also.

“No Matter,” the captain said.

The man on the log stood, the dagger in his hand pointed at the captain. The captain laughed in a crazed manner.

“We don’t want any trouble. Just pay us what we are owed, and we will be gone,” the man stammered. His dagger shook as he spoke.

The captain growled again and stepped directly in front of the man. Anditor dug the side of his head into the sand so he could just see the dagger touching the side of the captain’s shirt. The captain’s laugh echoed through the woods. He extended his arms openly.

“I am unarmed,” he challenged.

He moved his chest into the dagger until the tip sank into the folds of his shirt. Surprised, the man jerked back to pull his dagger away, but the captain grabbed hold of his arm and pushed the blade in until blood started to trickle down the garment. He laughed again. The captain pushed the blade in deeper and stared in the terrified man’s face.

“I am Reglan,” said the captain. “No Matter, know this…”

He thrust his free hand into the man’s chest in one motion, grabbed hold of the man’s heart and ripped it from his chest. Blood spurted everywhere.

“Your flesh won’t be wasted.”

He tossed the heart behind him. It was caught in the teeth of a werewolf. Reglan tossed the body back. The four men who had come with him, now all transformed, descended on the body in a flurry of growls and flying blood. The other men began to run. Anditor watched in horror as werewolves jumped off the deck of the ship into the water and disappeared under the surface, only to reemerge on the shore moments later. They tore into the woods in pursuit of the fleeing men.

“I loathe Skinners. Grab the stones.”

The hooded woman walked over to the chest and picked it up. When Anditor looked back at the captain, he had taken the form of an enormous werewolf, covered in dark fur. He lifted his head high and howled a long, mournful howl. Anditor shut his eyes tightly and held his breath. When the howl ended, he peered back again. Two werewolves were fighting over the leg of the man who had been sitting on the log.  Two more were standing in front of the woman. The hair on their backs was standing straight up and their teeth were bared.  Reglan’s werewolf jumped between and attacked the two. He bit one by the neck and tossed it to the side. It yelped as it hit the ground. The other ran off.

The woman walked past the injured werewolf and placed the chest into the long boat. She gathered the anchor and climbed in, taking up both the oars. She waited. Reglan followed her and sat at her feet, his large form completely hiding her from view. She rowed them back to the ship. Anditor watched as she tied a rope around the chest and scaled the side of the boat. She hoisted the chest onto the ship. When she was finished, she looked down at Reglan. Her hood flew back in the wind, and her long, dark hair cascaded in waves around her. Reglan scaled the side of the ship with his claws, his massive body rocking the entire boat. From the deck, he howled again, then he followed her down the steps and below deck. Anditor lay in the sand, afraid to move, barely able to breathe.


Book 2, “Nine”, is available now in all eBook formats at Smashwords 

and available in eBook and softcover at Amazon:


Book 1, “The Lightbearer”, is available as a FREE eBook at Smashwords.




All material Copyright ©2017 Tanya Cliff


Nine – Chapter 2, A Fall

“I am Reglan,” said the captain. “No Matter, know this…
Your flesh will not be wasted.”

Mattoby the Gat takes his motley crew on a quest to uncover the secret of the Lumenstones and the evil forces unleashing them. On their journey, they encounter the disturbing Goblin Haunts, battle a group of witches and struggle to survive hostile terrain and each other’s tempers.

Their path takes an unexpected turn when Anditor, the young son of Vidor, describes his encounter with Reglan, the Lord of the Werewolves, and the chest of stones aboard his pirate ship…

…a story that will lead the nine into peril.



Chapter 2 – A Fall

Anditor darted through the woods, the quiver full of arrows bouncing on his back and the bow in his hand. He was careful to hold the bow high so that he didn’t trip on it as he dodged obstacles in the dense woods. If he stayed on his feet, his brothers would not catch him. He was no match for them in size, but he was fast and had the keenest eyes of the bunch. He leaped over the exposed roots and fallen limbs nimbly, maintaining his pace. The Great River was just over the next ridge. If he could get past the ridge and down the hill, he could hide in the thick vegetation along the river bed. They would never find him. He glanced over his shoulder, bumping his nose on Trindon’s bowstring. He could just see Mennu and Trindon darting through the trees behind him. He could hear every one of Trindon’s curses. Too out of breath to laugh, he grinned. Serves them right for not taking me, he thought.

He dodged several more trees and then jumped over the top of the ridge. His feet slipped in the loose leaves of autumn, and he landed on his back. The quiver landed to his side, the strap pulling hard against his arm. He slid, faster and faster in that position down the steep embankment. He gripped the bow tightly to his chest and winced in pain. Hard bumps in the ground and rocks pummeled his back as he fell. Dirt flew up into his eyes and burned. He closed them tightly. He kept his body stiff and slid – down, down, down – until he finally landed in a thick mass of prairie grass where the bank flattened.

He lay motionless, hidden in the grass, afraid to move. He could hear his brothers’ voices coming from the woods above. He chuckled. It hurt. He chuckled again. He moved his arm, gently untangling it from the quiver strap.  There was a large gash in his shirt, and his shoulder was bleeding. His back burned, but he could move all his limbs. He clutched the quiver of arrows across his chest with the bow and rested for a few minutes, closing his eyes. His brothers’ voices faded.

“I will kill you!” Trindon shouted from a distance.

That was the last thing he heard from them. He chuckled again and winced in pain. His whole body ached. He rolled onto his side and listened for a few minutes more. Once he was certain they had gone, he sat up and looked around. He could just see over the tall grass. The river, broad and deep in these lands, flowed some fifty paces away. He glanced up and down. There was no one in sight.

Anditor stood to have a better look. Down river led to the bog cities of men where the Great River emptied into the Undulan Sea. He glanced up river. The river flowed straight for about two miles and then took broad bends as it cut through the thickest sections of the Trividian Forest. That was the direction he needed to go. Once he got to the bends, he could follow the river several miles north to a tributary that would lead him through the woods and close to Shrevdon, his village. Even if it got dark, the lad was confident that he could find his way home. This was the farthest south that he had ever been, but he knew the forest to the north well. He would recognize the landscape once he hiked that way.

He tossed the quiver over his shoulder and lifted the bow, then he approached the river, where the grasses were low enough that his seven-year-old legs could walk over them easily. The shadows grew long. It was evening. It would be late at night when he arrived home, provided he didn’t get lost on the way. Anditor was not worried about that. He hoped it would be late. His brothers would be sleeping, and he could work with his grandfather early the next day. The other boys wouldn’t mess with him then. By the time Trindon found an opening to freely pummel him, Anditor figured his brother would have something else to be angry about, most likely something stupid his sisters did.

Anditor continued. His shoulder bled, and he was sore all over. He was hungry, thirsty and tired. Yet he hummed as he walked, moving agilely through the grass. His only companion was a turtle that jumped off a dead log into the river as soon as it spotted him. He glanced up the ridge several times, and he paused and looked behind him. This was a wild and unpopulated land, the space between the villages of hunters in the north woods and the bog cities of men to the south. The bears of the Trividian Forest made their home in this desolate place. They were huge and fierce. Trindon’s bow was too big for him to use and wouldn’t have much impact on one of those, even if he could shoot it.

The slope to the river slowly flattened, and the tress of the forest encroached its banks. He was nearing the first bend. The grasses continued to thin and become shorter, and he was now stepping over masses of roots exposed from the river’s often flooding waters. He continued without stopping, silent now, breathing heavily. He knew he wouldn’t reach the tributary before dark. He guessed that he had an hour left of dusk, and he had several miles to walk before he reached that spot. As soon as he rounded the river’s curve, he froze.

In front of him was a long, slender, black ship, anchored in the deep waters in the middle of the river. The ugly, strange ship was facing south, toward the Undulan Sea. A few men walked along its deck. They were large, hairy and unkempt. They reminded him of nasty tales of pirates his grandfather told on stormy nights to scare he and his siblings. Pirates were folk of the ocean. The Trividian Forest, his home, was days away from those waters. The Great River was a passage for cargo barges and small fishing boats, not ships. He ducked behind a tree and watched.

Aside from the men on the deck, he saw no motion. He watched both shores. It was quiet. One of the men on the deck was watching the shore to the north of him. A thick grove of river birch and poplars with some freshly fallen trees in its midst stood twenty paces ahead of Anditor. It provided cover. The man on the ship watched intently up shore. Anditor knew that meant there was someone or something ahead. That was the direction he needed to travel to get home.

He inched toward the grove, pausing often and watching the ship for any change. It was getting dark. He decided to hide until whoever was approaching from the north passed. At the edge of the grove, he got down on his belly and slithered under a gap between the sandy ground and the fallen limbs. He clawed his way toward the largest fallen log. He could see a safe spot covered with branches that had an area large enough for him to climb under and hide. He pushed and pulled his way through, catching the bow several times and finally snapping its string. He couldn’t pull it free. He tried and tried. It held fast to something behind him, like a snagged fishing line. He tried to back up. The quiver caught. He couldn’t back any farther. He sighed and let go of the bow. Trindon would kill him.

He slid forward through the sand, and dug his way under the branches. It was good cover and provided a clear view of the ship, but he was closer to it than he had intended to be. He could see the men clearly from a gap between the sand and the fallen log, even as the evening’s shadows were growing long. The men were huge, dressed in rough, loose and tattered clothes. They were armed with long swords and daggers. Anditor was afraid. He didn’t move. He barely breathed.


Book 2, “Nine”, is available now in all eBook formats at Smashwords 

and available in eBook and softcover at Amazon:


Book 1, “The Lightbearer”, is available as a FREE eBook at Smashwords.



All material Copyright ©2017 Tanya Cliff

Nine – Chapter 1, The Theft

“I am Reglan,” said the captain. “No Matter, know this…
Your flesh will not be wasted.”

Mattoby the Gat takes his motley crew on a quest to uncover the secret of the Lumenstones and the evil forces unleashing them. On their journey, they encounter the disturbing Goblin Haunts, battle a group of witches and struggle to survive hostile terrain and each other’s tempers.

Their path takes an unexpected turn when Anditor, the young son of Vidor, describes his encounter with Reglan, the Lord of the Werewolves, and the chest of stones aboard his pirate ship…

…a story that will lead the nine into peril.



Chapter 1 – THE THEFT


A small snake slithered out of the stream of warm liquid and landed on the boy’s foot, causing him to fall on his bare bottom and land in the forest ferns. The motion of his foot hurled the snake through the air. It dropped a few feet away. Trindon glanced over his shoulder, thankful his two older brothers were not in sight. He stood, brushed the loose foliage off his butt and pulled his trousers up, securing the oversized pants with the leather belt his father had made for him.

He brushed his pants, removing any evidence of his misadventure, the only event that had caused his heart to beat quickly all day. The three older sons of Vidor had been hunting since early morning deep in the Trividian Forest. It was nearly evening, and all they had spotted were small birds and a few squirrels chasing each other through the trees. He was hungry, thirsty and tired, and he longed to return home to a hot meal. If he mentioned that to Mennu, the 15-year-old would hit him and poke fun at him. If he mentioned that to 17-year-old Kivandor, he would be banned from coming along on future hunts.

Kivandor was nearly as large as his father but not nearly as patient. Whining was something for “girls” and “girly boys”. Kivandor had warned Trindon sharply on his first hunt that, if he whined at all, he would be abandoned in the woods and be required to find his way home in the dark by himself. Worse, he would never be taken out again. The warning had resonated. Trindon, now eleven, had not uttered a single complaint, no matter how tired he had become, hungry he had grown, sore his arms were from carrying his bow or how many blisters he had on his feet. He was proud of the fact that he was still allowed on the hunt.

Mennu had once complained about a large sliver of wood that had pierced his palm while resting by a tree during a hunt. Kivandor left him in the forest. It took Mennu until the next morning to find his way home. The oldest son refused to take him on another hunt for an entire year. Vidor allowed it. He had important work to tend to as leader of their village. Vidor trusted Kivandor to teach the other boys the lessons he passed down. Whining was never allowed. Naked-bottom critter scares? Trindon blushed at the thought of what his brothers would say if they discovered that tidbit.

The snake rested on the ground a few feet away, drops of urine sparkling on its skin. Trindon took a step toward the snake, then another. It watched him, motionless. He slowly moved, until his foot was close enough to strike.

“Look at what I have!”

Trindon glanced to his right. Thirty paces away, his youngest brother stood holding the bow and arrow that he had left behind. Anditor laughed and waved the bow in the air. He strapped the quiver of arrows on his back and retreated several steps.

“Serves you right for not letting me come! There were nine deer in the woods! You have missed them all day!”

“Anditor! You little fleabag! Put my bow down!”

Anditor turned and ran, yelling over his shoulder, “They have headed toward the river! I will shoot one! I will show you! I will show you all!”

“Anditor! I will kill you!”

Trindon stomped his foot, squishing the snake beneath his boot. He ran after Anditor, cursing at the top of his lungs. Mennu ran up alongside him and pointed toward the ridge that led down to the river bank. They could just see Anditor darting ahead between the trees. They followed in pursuit, Trindon shouting every curse he could think of between gasps of breath. Anditor disappeared over the ridge. Mennu grabbed hold of Trindon’s shirt and stopped him. They were both gasping for air.

“Where…does he think…he is going?” Mennu asked.

“He said…there were deer…heading toward the river…that we missed them.”

“We should have brought him. He has the keenest eyes of us all.”

“Not gonna bring him anywhere…gonna kill him!”

The two boys ran toward the ridge. They hadn’t gone far when they were stopped in their tracks by strong hands which grabbed each of them from behind.

“Leave him!” scolded Kivandor.

“He stole my bow and arrows!”

The protest was met with a quick swat to the head from Kivandor. Trindon winced and rubbed his head.

“That little fleabag stole your bow and arrows, because you were careless and left them sitting by a tree while you went off to pee. It is your own fault,” Kivandor said.

“You saw?”

“I saw your stupid, naked ass fall into the ferns!”

Mennu laughed out loud. Trindon turned a deep crimson and fought back the tears which he was certain would bring a swift death. Kivandor whacked Mennu across the head.

“Shut up, Mennu!” Kivandor warned. “I didn’t see Anditor until he picked up your weapon. That little brat is sneaky.”

“He said there were deer heading toward the river,” Trindon stated with as much dignity as he could gather.

“Had we taken him with us in the first place…,” Mennu suggested.

“Leave him!” Kivandor interrupted. “Deer, or no, he was told he could not come along, and he did not listen. We are going home. He found his way here. He can find his way home. If he isn’t eaten by some beast on the way, you can kill him when he returns.” He whacked both boys across the head again. “Let’s go!”

Mennu and Trindon both rubbed their heads and followed their brother, but not before Trindon yelled several more death threats in the direction of the ridge.

“Why did you fall on your naked ass?” Mennu asked.

“Shut up!”


Book 2, “Nine”, is available now in all eBook formats at Smashwords 

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Book 1, “The Lightbearer”, is available as a FREE eBook at Smashwords.




All material Copyright ©2017 Tanya Cliff