Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beau Coup Presents: Curtiss Robinson

Protectors of the Vale
The days are dark and terrifying for the defending forces of the Alliance, a steadfast coalition of elves, dwarves, gnomes and humans. Yet dual lights of hope spring from the lush forests of Celes’tia… Rosabela, an elven shapeshifter and healer, and her twin brother Wavren, a hunter and beastmaster, leave their home to join the Protectors of the Vale, an elite band of heroes who are the world’s best defense against the dark forces. Treacherous infiltrators hinder preparations for the approaching conflict as the enemy draws ever nearer. Rosabela and Wavren will need every ounce of their cunning, courage and skill to fight for the freedom of all as blades clash, arrows fly and magic shatters the air.
Just as he was preparing to meld into the darkness himself, a voice called out in poor, but understandable, common: “Wel-come to For’stedge, ci-ty of the orcs,” the voice called loudly. You have walk-ed right in-to our trap.” Captain Helio froze and scanned the area with his fine night vision. He saw no one, which was inexplicable given the nature of elven sight. He knew he was exposed, but his men were not. They would cover him at all costs, so he dared to call out to the orc. “You say we have walked into your trap, but I see no warriors. I think you are foolishly all alone, but I admire your courage. Come out and settle this in the open; settle this according to the code of honor the orcs claim to live by.” Captain Helio was scanning the streets carefully and still saw no one. He knew the entire Dae’gon Alliance Army was soon to arrive. He held his position, wondering if the orc would in fact show himself. He decided to move out of sight just in case. As he silently became one with the shadows, he carefully drew his wickedly curved polearm from its strap on his back. He crept forward a few steps and felt a tiny, almost imperceptible, breeze across the back of his neck. He knew he was no longer alone, but before he could react, a massive arm came in from behind, and searing pain shot through his back. As he looked down, he could see the tip of his attacker’s sword push through his fine armor. A voice whispered in poor common, “The war-ri-or code of hon-or is not my way. I am Night-shade, mas-ter of shadows.

Blurb Continuing The Heroes of Dae’Run Series with Volume 2 

The stalwart city of men takes up the fight against the Bloodcrest Forces in Defenders of Griffon's Peak as the orcs of Dek'Thal build alliances with the worst of mankind...the fearsome assassin's guild and a deadly pack of were-wolves. Ever in opposition, the Protectors of the Vale venture from the Far West to unite with the heroes of the Far East to defy the evil Bloodcrest Forces. Vlaad-the last human defender and champion of Griffon's Peak and his beloved Theila, a warlock of dark magic, leave their home to hunt down the orc leader Gorka Darkstorm and put an end to his evil plans. Cunning assassins lie in wait at every turn, deadly were-wolves prowl through the night, and the worst fears imaginable stand between the heroes and their duty. Vlaad and Theila will need more than skill with a sword and sorcerous might to fight the evil looming before them as shields splinter, blood flies, and magic lights up the sky.
Vlaad was hammering away, as usual, when the smithy’s doorway became filled with a giant of a man. Vlaad stopped his work and turned to the visitor, noticing that the towering warrior stood nearly a foot taller than he.

“Hello friend and welcome to my shop. How may I be of service?” Vlaad asked pleasantly.

In a strange dialect that was a combination of unusually rolling consonants and dulled vowels the huge warrior said, “Vell met young mon, I ahm Andar Razamun of ze ‘interlandz and I ahm in need of repairz from many battlez. Can zhou ‘elp me?”

Vlaad was a little confused by the foreign accent. He thought the man said that his name was Andar and that he was from the Hinterlands. He just couldn’t be sure, but curiosity compelled him to smile and nod in response.

Andar said, “Bery vell. I can pay zhou now two gol’ coinz to make ze repairz. Do ve haf a dealz?”

The young smith wiped his palms off on his leather apron and extended his well-calloused hand to the warrior and said, “I will work on your armor, but you need only pay if you are satisfied with my services. I would like to hear about your adventures as a down payment if you would honor me with a few stories.”

Andar looked piercingly at the youth as if measuring him up. The young man stood barely six feet tall and was strong, but not unusually so. He had thick, dark eyebrows and a full goatee but had shaved his head completely bald like the elite guard of Griffon’s Peak. It wasn’t his physical appearance that caught Andar’s attention. He saw strength and discipline in the blacksmith’s deep brown eyes and sensed both honor and integrity within him like the knights of ancient legend. He asked, “Are zhou so zertain zhat I vill pay vhen ze verk is done? I ahm a stran-ger ‘ere and un-accustomed to such trust vrom utherz.”

Vlaad smiled as he ciphered through the thick accent. He was pretty sure the warrior asked if he was certain that the big man would pay after the work was complete, since he was a stranger that others did not usually trust. He nodded and repeated a phrase his O’ma had often said throughout the years: “Everyone pays sooner or later. It is only a matter of time. This is the law of justice to which we are all bound.”

The larger man thought for a moment and then laughed a deep and hearty laugh. He reached out and grasped the waiting hand Vlaad still held out to him. He shook it eagerly. Andar immediately noticed that although his hand dwarfed the blacksmith’s, there was great strength in Vlaad’s grip and the dark piercing eyes that he looked into were filled with fire and strength as well. This simple blacksmith was more than he appeared. He was ironically similar to the unshaped and untempered steel the blacksmith forged—ready to be formed into a keen and valuable blade. Andar Razamun was intrigued. He said, “I ‘ave ze story for zhou but it iz not my own adventure. It is ze legend of ze Zhield Vorrior.”

Continuing The Heroes of Dae’Run with Volume 3  Imprisoned…deceived…betrayed… “My love, Theila is held captive…my own kinsmen have failed me and my mind…well, I am not myself.” 
Wavren, Da’Shar, and Rosabela have been tasked with destroying the very essence of lycanthrope but the sacrifice is great. Which is greater; the life of an innocent man or the soul of a hero? One will be taken. 
A new enemy arises from ancient ruins assembling an army of the most feared and despised abominations ever to walk the land. They have but one order: slay every mortal in the realm. Only a poor scholar, a wizard, and a clan of dwarves have the power to hold them at bay while the forces of good mobilize for the sake of all living creatures. Orcs, assassins, and the most unlikely of allies are called on to intercede but can they be trusted in such desperate times? 
Love, faith, and courage flicker weakly amid the impending chaos and destruction in the final epic tale of the Heroes of Dae’run Saga. Summon your strength, draw your sword and embark on the most exciting adventure ever written by Beau Coup Publishing’s fantasy storyteller…Curtiss Robinson. 
Guardians of the Mountain awaits!
 Theila noticed Ja’Zaru’s flaming tail swishing back and forth like a cat anxiously awaiting an opportunity to pounce. She said, “I am no fool. Our agreement was for Pirate’s Cove. I will not release you to run amok from Pirate’s Cove to Dek’Thal.”

The cunning demon looked up with an evil grin and said, “Then we need a new agreement, Mistress.”

Theila closed her eyes. She pictured her friends in her mind. Their lives could be spared, she thought. She considered her father, Don. His death in her vision had been horrible. Finally, she pictured Vlaad. She could never allow him to be torn apart by the barbaric orcs. She loved him with every fiber of her being. It was this love that gave her pause. She knew what the demon wanted and giving in to him would mean never having the life she wanted. The choice seemed to take an eternity to make as she weighed the lives of her companions against her soul.

“Speak your terms,” the warlock commanded.

Ja’Zaru knew he had won. The greater demon stood to its full height. Its wings spread, and he threw his head back laughing with unbridled evil. As the massive balrog returned his gaze to Theila he said, “You will serve me in life and for one hundred years after.”

The warlock could not refuse and took a knee in subservience. The balrog laughed maniacally. Its patience and cunning had paid off. He would have revenge against Theila and now had a willing conduit to gain revenge on Gorka...

...Theila had acted in desperation to save her friends, herself, and her love. She had willingly sacrificed herself that they might live and somehow, they all had escaped. The most amazing part was that Vlaad had come for her and defeated the greater demon, resulting in her freedom from more than one hundred years of servitude to the evil being and in the process, banished it to the abyss as well. The greatest irony was that now she faced punishment for that amazing chain of events that simply could not have gone any better.

A sickly looking clerk standing beside the high platform where the council of judges sat stepped forward and spoke, “Will the demoness Theila please come forward?”

She glared at the clerk as a guard shoved her roughly forward, causing her to stumble and fall. Her leg shackles cut into her ankles and as she went down, her wrist shackles bit deeply into her flesh. The warlock took a moment to stand and then brush back a renegade tendril of hair that fell across her eyes.

The centermost judge, a withered old hag of a woman, signaled for the clerk to proceed.

The clerk cleared his throat and announced, “Demoness Theila of Westrun, formerly a warlock of the Black Gate, you have pleaded guilty of illicit transplanular summoning, entering into a demonic covenant with a balrog, and endangering the kingdom. Have you prepared your defense?”

Theila nodded but did not speak.

The panel of judges nodded back. A thick-bearded man on the far left, obviously the prosecutor, began with a simple question, “Do you know the laws which bind our order?”

Theila replied, “I do.”

The prosecutor continued, “In accordance with those laws, under what circumstances is a warlock permitted to summon beyond their rank and station?”

Theila returned, “Under no circumstances, which is why I pleaded guilty.”
The panel of judges shuffled uneasily at the sharpness of her reply.
The prosecutor then asked, “Are you prepared to suffer the punishment associated with your

crime as a last act of honor?”
The accused replied, “I would like to submit testimony under mitigating circumstances.”
Curtiss Robinson (1970-Present) was born in Key West, Florida, grew up in South Carolina, and joined the US Army in 1989. For twenty years he served in Ft. Bragg, NC, Schofield Barracks, HI, Ft. Bliss, TX and returned to work in Charleston, SCwith the SC Army National Guard. During his second combat tour (OEF 2007) he wrote his first adventure novel, "Protectors of the Vale", which mirrored the successes and failures of his PMT team in Afghanistan. In 2009, wrote "Defenders of Griffon's Peak" which further detailed the adventuers of his sword weilding and spell casting fantasy characters. Curtiss is a lifelong martial artist and RPG enthusiast which contributes greatly to his combat scenes and vivid imagery but it is love for epic heroes and tales of legend that fuel his love of writing.

Guest Post

While writing Protectors of the Vale late one night in Zabul Province Afghanistan, I suddenly became keenly aware that I was no longer alone. My men were sleeping soundly in their US Army-issued sleeping bags (affectionately called fart-sacks…yep, you can imagine why). It was late, probably around 0100 hours if memory serves me correctly, and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle with anticipation. I was still in my boots and pants, but my body armor and helmet were across the bed. I reached under my pillow and felt the cool grip of my M9 Beretta pistol. I slid it quietly into the low-ready position and flipped the safety off. I looked around a little nervously, half expecting nothing and half expecting something unspeakable. I dared not stand up for fear of giving myself away with the creaking of the cheap mattress springs from my cot.
A cool breeze blew from nowhere. It danced across those now bristling hairs on the back of my neck sending shivers down my spine. A cold sweat began across my brow, and I felt the palms of my hands grow sweaty as well. I took a minute in the near darkness to put my eyes on the M4 rifle propped up on the bipod beside my bed. It comforted me like a loyal friend I knew would never let me down. I longed to belt my pistol and grab the rifle, but those damnable squeaky springs would be my undoing for sure if I did.
The room was bathed in a dim glow from the screen of my computer and moonlight streaming through the one window high in our small B-hut. My eyes were attuned to the poor light but I saw nothing. I strained to hear movement, but there was nothing but dreaded silence.
I considered waking my men, knowing that their loaded weapons were useless as they lay prostrate in their fart-sacks, but I hesitated knowing that a false alarm would be both humiliating and impossible to explain. In my mind, I pictured something terrible devouring them one by one like a human burrito bar at a Mexican restaurant. I know it was ridiculous, but my mind was now on high alert and everything seemed possible at that moment.
Suddenly, I noticed something I had overlooked. It was the laptop—more specifically the program I had open. I realized that I had been writing for several hours as I did every night after a long day of fighting the enemy, but I hadn’t saved in a long while. “Son of a biscuit,” I thought and mouthed to myself. How could I have been so careless? I was trapped! Both hands were on the pistol, and I was immobilized on the squeaky cot. I was willing to fight and even die protecting my men if something attacked, but I hated the thought of losing my work. I reconsidered the rifle just out of reach. I reconsidered waking my men. I even said a little prayer hoping that God would be with me but, in the end, I was drawn to that god-forsaken laptop!
I took a deep breath and moved my left hand away from the pistol. My right hand trembled a little as the anxiety built. I got my index finger of the left hand over the mouse pad and eased the cursor ever so quietly across the screen. Time slowed to a crawl as I tried to use my peripheral vision to watch the shadows while my attention focused on the save icon. It was in place, but I knew the mouse button would make an audible click when I pushed it. I knew the enemy would hear. He was always there, always listening and waiting for his opportunity to kill the lot of us. I scanned the room one more time, my head on the proverbial swivel. It was hell not knowing what was out there, but somehow all I could think of was not saving my work and dying at the hands of the enemy. My mind raced. I started picturing the enemy capturing us all. As they tortured my men with knives and hot brands, I could picture them slowly and painfully deleting my work one…character…at…a...time!
In one deft move, I threw caution to the wind and pressed that blasted mouse button and, as I had predicted, there was a click. It wasn’t that loud in reality but, at that moment, it sounded like a bass drum…ba-BUM! I sprang up and the springs from my cot squealed like screeching brakes. I whirled around ready to open up with my pistol, but there was nothing there. I holstered the Beretta and grabbed the rifle, knowing death was soon to be upon me. I pulled the charging handle back and let the buffer spring catapult the bolt forward, ramming a bullet into the chamber. It made yet another gargantuan noise…cha-chaunk! Who or whatever was out there surely knew I was awake by now, so I roused my men saying, “ON YOUR FEET!”
Twelve warriors sprang into action, grabbing pistols and rifles with reckless abandon. I dashed to the wall and took cover just as the enemy was about to kick our door in. My men took up positions behind cots and footlockers, preparing for the devil himself to come through the door.
Suddenly, my senior NCO flipped on the lights and said, “Sir…what in the hell?”
I was surprised to find myself lying in my cot with the laptop on my chest. Apparently, I had been having a nightmare when I called out to my men in my sleep. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was having a bad dream about not saving my work so I lied. I said, “Just a little PTSD…I’m good men. I’m good.”
Not a word was ever spoken about that night out of respect for me but, I tell ya, the one fear I have as a writer is losing all of my work. As a result, I am always saving and emailing my wife backup copies. It really doesn’t bother me now that I am back in the good old US of A, but in combat the darnedest things can really get the best of you!

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