After a Long Hiatus… Exciting News! Plus a New Short Story.

It’s certainly been a long time since I updated this blog, but I never forgot it. Instead, for the past year, I’ve been completely consumed with revisions for my first novel, The Snake-Oil Pursuit. It turned out to need a lot more attention than I anticipated, at least to reach the point where I was satisfied. I’ve been hammering away at this project for years, ever since I really committed to writing. That writing journey is certainly still a work in progress — I’ll always have more to learn, room to improve. But the story is finally done, and ready to publish! You can expect more news on that this week as I sort out the last technical details.

But to keep up the tradition of my blog, I never just post news (no matter how exciting) without a story. So as promised here’s a new one — inspired by a writing prompt as usual — about a miner who makes a very peculiar discovery. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

***

The beat of a lone pickaxe rang at the end of a dark stone tunnel. A muscular arm rose and fell without rest. The dwarf’s beard was more coal dust than hair, his dark eyes glittering like obsidian in the dim lantern light.

A birdcage hung from his half-filled mine-cart, and a little yellow canary sang encouragement to him. Not just a warning against danger, but his only friend.

The other dwarves back at the mining camp called Gribmar crazy. They insisted that down, down, down was the only way to find riches — there was nothing to be gained by sideways exploration. But he’d got this idea stuck in his stubborn head. The birdsong sounded just a little sweeter with every new twist of the tunnel he’d carved. It had to be a good omen.

His pick began to spark against a new layer of rock. He paused and ran his thick, calloused fingers over the tunnel wall. What was it? Smooth and tough, like volcanic glass, but colored with swirls of jade and crimson. Was this the treasure his trusty dwarven instincts had sought?

The canary squawked and hopped around in excitement.

Well, looking at it wasn’t as going to get it mined. His pickaxe fell with renewed vigor, now green and red sparks lighting the tunnel. But he’d hardly worked up a sweat when his pick broke through into a chamber. A few more blows, and whole wall crumbled.

Gribmar stepped into the small cavern, hefting his lantern. In its center, strange shapes gleamed, silver and black. The silver was a dented and ripped suit of armor fit for an ogre — no, much bigger than that. Fit for a full-grown dragon.

Gribmar could tell, because he had a full-grown dragon for comparison — its huge black scales reflecting the flame. Its body was coiled around the suit of armor, both frozen as if in the middle of a mortal struggle.

Aye, the heat of dragon breath could partially explain the strange rock encasing the cavern.

He circled the long-dead combatants in amazement. A ladder hung down the back of the suit of armor, fit for a person his size. How could he resist?

Hanging the lantern from his belt, he climbed up the rungs and through a circular opening. Inside the armor, it was like a smaller metal cavern with a window looking back the way he’d come. There was a chair — he could identify that well enough — and a kind of table, filled with odd little levers.

No sign of the armor’s owner, which by the rights of salvage recognized by all civilized creatures, made this his-

Wings suddenly fluttered past his head, and he yelled. It was only his friend. “Ach, how’d ye get out of the cage?”

The canary chirped and landed on the table. Its head bopped over little nubs and protrusions, to the rhythm of a tune only it could hear.

The armor shuddered and began to hum. New, flashing red and green lights on the table painted its feathers.

“What do ye think yer doin’? Get away from there!”

The canary danced toward a glowing shape. A map? A map of the mines? Those little bearded symbols had to be his dwarven companions. And they were slowly moving toward… that big, monstrous shape with burning red eyes. That seemed like a bad omen.

The canary hopped around in circles. The floor shifted, Gribmar lost his footing and fell into the chair.

Outside the window, blinding green lights, like magic, flashed. His hand-carved tunnel grew taller, and wider.

The armor began to walk on its own.

Gribmar wasn’t quite sure what was happening. But he got the impression that his canary friend was taking its job of warning him about danger to unexpected extremes.

***

Thanks for reading! And stay tuned for the official announcement of my book release shortly.

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