Chapter I

The snow bit through his gloves, burning his trembling knuckles as they ground into the white expanse. His breath came in gusts, puffing clouds around his beloved’s face as she lay trembling beneath him. He kept his head low, below the fray, his body covering hers as best he could as arrow after arrow whizzed over them. The last one had been too close for comfort, the dribble of blood on her cheek already drying on her skin.

“Through the trees!”

“Don’t let them get away!”

The Haravellian soldiers shouted their commands as the king and queen of Navah lay sprawled in the snow, hiding from the sudden attack. Ferryl could feel Adelaide’s heart pounding in time with his, not in the embrace of lovers but rather the desperate grip of two people dodging the arrows of the enemy.

The icy ground was taking its toll on Ferryl’s hands as he pinned his wife beneath him, the skin of his palms freezing though sweat beaded his brow. He dared to lift his head just enough to see exactly what was happening.

“Rebels,” he spat, catching sight of the attackers as they jumped from one tree to the next, hiding behind the fat, snow-covered trunks, firing their arrows with dizzying perfection.

Beside him, a Haravellian soldier fell with a thud, his eyes frozen in shock, his blood staining the snow, a crimson pool slowly growing beneath his throat. And around him in a pillar of black…those were…

Moths.

Black moths.

By the hundreds.

His eyes grew wide as he took in the sight of the minuscule beasts that had once plagued and tormented him. The sunlight glinted off their wings, which were iridescent despite their sheer blackness. So similar to the moths he had seen that morning not so long ago on the mountain in Haravelle, despite their darkness. More than moths. More than insects, they were…

I don’t think they’re really moths, he heard his wife say in his mind. He turned his attention back to her, only to narrowly dodge another arrow as it whizzed just above his head.

Ferryl gritted his teeth, took the risk, and grabbed the fallen soldier’s bow before jumping to his feet, pulling Adelaide into a sprint with him.

This way, he said for only her benefit. She followed without hesitation, letting him shield her with his body as they sped through the icy forest.

She landed by a fat sycamore, her breast rising and falling rapidly, her back to the fat trunk. Ferryl covered her body with his own, peering around the tree as her hot breaths caressed his neck. Just one shot…if he could just get in one shot…

Ferryl, she said, her words breathless even in her mind. There were ten rebels that he could see, their black arrows meeting their targets much too easily. Perhaps these were Midvarish wraith beasts. Or perhaps they were just boys. They moved too rapidly to tell. Either way, Ferryl and Derwin had met one of them in Ramleh only a few months ago. Met and killed him. Today would be no different.

Ferryl, he heard again, turning to meet her eyes. But Adelaide was not looking at her husband. And when he realized her gaze was fixed behind him, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.

He whirled, facing his enemy whilst simultaneously pressing Adelaide against the sycamore. For as long as he could, Providence save him, he would protect her. Because the world did not yet know that she lived. It did not yet know that the lost princess Adelaide of Haravelle had been found.

And Providence help them all when that fact was no longer a secret.

No, this was just a random rebel attack as they journeyed south to Navah. It had to be.

“Hiding something, Princeling?” said the man. No, not a man. A beast. A wraith. A devil incarnate. A demon made flesh with teeth as black as obsidian and skin as rough as boot hide. He grinned—if you could call it a grin––and his eyes glittered with the promise of a swift death.

“How rude of me,” the man went on, and Ferryl used the moment to press Adelaide more closely behind him. He dropped the soldier’s bow, inching his hand toward his side for the hilt of his sword. Adelaide’s breath was steady at his neck.

“I suppose you’re not a princeling anymore. Daddy’s dead.”

Ferryl bared his teeth, unsheathing his blade, the metal singing as it extended before him, the steel glinting off of the sun-kissed snow, momentarily blinding them both.

“What is that you’re hiding so fiercely?” the beast asked, cocking his black head to one side, unfazed by Ferryl’s sword. Blood dripped from his thick hands, a shock of crimson against his charred skin. The blood of Haravellian soldiers, no doubt. Ferryl took a moment to thank Providence that King Aaron and Queen Avigail’s carriage was far down the road towards Benalle—hopefully out of danger.

The beast-man bore no weapons. At least not any that Ferryl could see. He was not sure whether to be relieved or terrified. But he let the bastard speak. Let the beast buy him some time while he made a plan and figured out how in Sheol to keep Adelaide safe while he killed a nearly invincible foe.

“What a pity that you should lose your whore so soon after losing your dear father,” the man purred.

Ferryl lunged. Whether it was prompted by blind instinct or vengeful rage, he couldn’t be sure, but he would be damned if he let this beast get the better of him. And he sure as Sheol wasn’t about to let him take his wife.

So Ferryl lunged. And parried. He whirled and spun. He called on every skill which had been trained into him and every ounce of the strength in his bones.

But it was not enough. Not against a man who was more than a man. Not against a demon.

Ferryl cried out as the beast whipped a sword from his back, slicing through the air with deadly accuracy, aiming right for his heart. It missed, but only just. And when Ferryl whirled to parry, that’s when he realized—

“Adelaide!” he called out, panicking that she was not there at the tree. He realized his mistake the moment the beast started laughing.

“Not doing a very good job of hiding your precious princess,” he said. And then he lunged. The beast moved so fast Ferryl hardly had a split-second to react. He lifted his sword but it was too late.

No, it should have been too late.

The beast should have killed him. Skewered him like a stuck pig.

Instead the beast fell, toppling to the ground like a sack of potatoes. And from behind his gargantuan form, Ferryl saw the reason for his foe’s sudden demise.

“I am not a princess,” Adelaide growled, ripping a dagger from the beast’s back. “I am the queen of Navah.”

The beast groaned, clutching his side from where the black blood pumped in thick rivers across the snow. Ferryl wasted no time lifting his sword, and the beast’s head was severed with one fatal blow.

Black, oily blood sprayed her face, neck, and hands, yet Adelaide stood resolute, eye to eye with the king of Navah. Her breaths came heavily but steadily, the tremble of the dagger in her hand the only glimmer of any fear in her veins.

A moth—no, a butterfly landed on her shoulder, its wings glowing fiercely and radiantly ruby against the backdrop of fallen snow. And Ferryl could have sworn it bowed. Bowed. But he couldn’t be sure before it flitted away.

“Where did you learn—”

“Your Majesties!” cried a soldier, cutting Ferryl off. “Here, John! They’re over here!”

Though she surely knew what question he’d started to ask, Adelaide said nothing as she let the soldiers guide her back to the road and the carriage that awaited them.

~

Steam billowed around her bare shoulders, curling the rogue midnight locks that spilled from the pile of hair atop her head. She poured a basin of water over her arm as Ferryl made his way into the tiny inn privy somewhere inside of Navah’s northern borders.

Wordlessly, he took the cloth from the side of her small tub and set about washing her. Adelaide let out a soft moan as he began working a handful of lavender oil into her shoulders.

“Are you going to tell me where in the world you got that dagger, or are you going to leave me guessing?” he asked.

She breathed a laugh, her black lashes resting on her cheeks as she relaxed into his touch. Sixteen years. Sixteen years he had known her, and yet Adelaide of Haravelle never ceased to surprise him. And terrify him.

“Mother gave it to me when we were in Chesedelle. She said it was no good for a queen to be unarmed. Or unskilled.”

“You learned to brandish a blade in our time in Haravelle?” he chuckled, unable to resist pressing a kiss to her bare, oil-slicked shoulder.

“No. But I did learn a few tricks on exactly where to stick it should the need arise.”

“I see,” he said. “And you never thought to tell me?”

She cocked her head to one side, meeting his eyes. “Would you have approved?”

“Absolutely not,” he said.

She kissed him soundly and with so much passion that Ferryl’s interest in his wife’s weapon-wielding soon began to wane.

“Which is why I didn’t tell you,” she said when at last she took her lips from his.

“Adelaide, I will protect you.”

“I know, Ferryl. But you may not always be able to.”

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “You’re not allowed to leave my side.”

“If you think that now that I’m your wife you’re going to put me in a cage and pull me out to pet me now and then, you married the wrong woman.”

He laughed, pulling her hair down and running his fingers through it. “There is no cage that could hold you, my love. Or I would have already tried.”

She turned, resting her chin on her arms where they perched on the side of the tub.

“Ferryl, I know you’re joking. But I also know that if you could, you would hide me away from the world until all this business with Midvar is over.”

He looked down, fiddling with the thread of her washcloth, knowing it was true, knowing she was right. The woman saw straight through him. She always had.

She drew his attention back to her, running her fingers through his hair. “We face war, my love. You cannot protect me from everything.”

“I can try, can’t I?”

“Providence has brought us both this far. Do not take the credit from him so soon.”

He pressed his brow to hers, the steam from her bath billowing around them both. “Are you always right about everything?”

“Yes,” she said.

He kissed her once, swiftly, reaching so that he might lift her out of the tub. The water sloshed around her, dousing his gauzy white shirt and breeches. But he did not care. Holding his wife to his chest like a newborn babe, he carried her out of the privy and into their tiny attached bedchamber, laying her down on the paltry excuse for a bed.

He climbed over her, devouring the sight of her beneath him as he said, “Well, you were certainly right about one thing.”

“And what is that?” she asked, a smile threatening her mouth as he moved to remove his sodden clothes.

“It is good for a queen to be armed,” he said, settling himself over her once more. He bent and pressed a kiss to her neck, still slick from her bath. “It gives her people peace of mind,” he said as he let his lips make their way down, down, down… “It gives her husband peace of mind,” he went on. When she let out a little breath of delight, he smiled against her skin and continued his exploration. “And it is certainly a turn on.”

“You, husband, are hopeless,” she said, and he could hear the smile in her voice as he moved to worship the queen of Navah.

###

© 2019 The Parallax by Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. If you paste any part of this somewhere on the internet, please tag/credit me.

My Interview with Voyage Dallas

Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Voyage Dallas Magazine, a local magazine dedicated to the entrepreneurs and visionaries in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex. In the article, you’ll learn a little bit about my journey from musician to author to publisher, and what’s in store for the future!

Check out the article below!

Happy Birthday, The Promised One. You’re still my favorite.

I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since The Promised One made its debut in the world! What a year it has been!

In celebration, for one day only, you can get 36.5% off the signed edition of TPO on my website only! (36.5. Get it? 365 days. I mean, you get it, right?) #CleverMarketing

Just use the code TPOBIRTHDAY at checkout! Get your copy here! And if you already have one, pick one up for your friends!

I want to inspire you today.

I hear this a lot: “Gosh, Morgan, is there anything you can’t do?”

And I cringe when I hear it, to be honest, because DEAR SWEET JESUS, YES THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I CANNOT DO. Just the other night, I went to play Top Golf with my friends and, well, let’s just say I proved my ineptitude for anything remotely athletic. I’m a spaz, to be quite honest. While God may have gifted me in the artistic arena, he definitely did not see fit to bestow even an iota of coordination into my blood. Bless.

This is not a pity party. In fact, what I used to lament, I’ve come to be grateful for. Yes, in elementary school, it stung when the kids fought over who wouldn’t have to have me on their team that week.

“We had her last week! Y’all have to take her!”

Ouch.

(Yes, they actually said that.)

As an adult, I’ve come to be thankful for what I can do, and what I cannot. It’s okay to not be perfect at everything (my recovering inner perfectionist is currently shouting, “Yas, queen!”). It’s okay to only have a few talents. Find them. Then exploit them. As the great Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

~Dolly Parton

A Light Came On

So I found out who I am. After a long time, and taking inventory of all I’ve done and all that makes me tick, I finally figured out that at my core, I’m a storyteller. A writer. Yes, I’m also a musician and artist. But all my songs tell a story. So does all of my art. And words. Words are my favorite. When I figured that out, it was as if a veil had been lifted. I had spent the better part of my twenties pursuing a career in music, being terrified of the outcome the entire time.

Yes, I wanted to be a rock star. No, I did NOT want to be famous. And I couldn’t figure out why until I figured out who I was. When I realized that writing was my thang (misspelling intentional, people), a veil was lifted. A burden was removed. A light came on. I realized that all that music in me was really a result of the words I so loved. All that songwriting was a symptom of a bigger calling—writing.

I Figured Out Who I Am

Writing is what I love. A writer is who I am at my very core.

I used to joke that the only reason I passed college was because of my impeccable ability to b.s. my way through a term paper. And it was, for all intents and purposes, precisely true. But I still didn’t realize I was a writer. And for the better part of my life, the thought of writing a novel made me want to barf.

So in 2014 when out of nowhere, I wrote 3 novels in 3 months, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I had lost my mind, or gone mad, or something like that. I’ll never forget the night when, in the midst of a powerful spring thunderstorm, my husband sat me down under the tin roof of our deck and asked me if I was okay. I was writing practically twenty-four seven. I couldn’t stop. It consumed me in a way that I didn’t understand at the time. In the pounding rain and wicked lightning, my husband and I had to wrestle with what was going on. Looking back, I think that was really a result of ignoring that part of me for so long. I think all that prolific writing was the overflow of a lifetime of stories dancing in my mind, just waiting to erupt.

We All Have To Start Somewhere

But that didn’t mean they were any good.

In fact, they were horrible. (Yes, the title of this post had a purpose. Here it is. You’re welcome.)

The first three novels I wrote were horrible.

I don’t mean that lightly. I mean that with all sincerity, hand on the Bible, cross my heart and hope to die. THEY. WERE. DREADFUL.

My poor husband and best friend martyred themselves and read them anyway, all the while stroking my ego and telling me what a pretty girl I am (okay, that’s sarcasm, but you get the idea). It gave me the gumption to keep writing. Keep refining. Keep working at my craft.

I joke nowadays that those three novels are so bad, not even God himself is allowed to read them. But do you know what they did? They taught me. I learned. I began really honing the craft of storytelling—particularly novel writing. They were a gateway to what became The Chalam Færytales. And they were bad. But they taught me to be better.

So be inspired today. You have a gift. You just might need to find it. Don’t worry—I was over thirty when I figured mine out. And even when you find it, it might need some refining. That’s awesome! Refine it! Work at it! Keep going, keep pressing in to that thing that makes you tick. Don’t stop. Don’t let time or age or fear or lack of knowledge or anything else stop you. Go. Do it.

You’ve got it in you.

Because maybe, just maybe, the world is waiting for that thing you have to offer.

What I’ve learned, what I’m changing, and what to expect for 2019 »

When I look back on this year, I have to admit that it has been full of surprises—some good, some not so good. As most of you know, my first novel was released into the world in January of this year, with the second following in October. It has been a whirlwind of learning curves and exciting moments (like when book two became a number one new release on Amazon), but all in all, I have enjoyed every minute of my first year in publishing, and I’m looking forward to 2019.

What I’ve learned »

If you’ve followed my journey at all, then you know that when I started writing The Promised One back in 2015, it was never with the intention of publishing. It was nothing more than a labor of love (or quite possibly a psychotic breakdown… I haven’t decided). But somewhere along the way, I knew I needed to share the journey with the world. So in 2017, I decided to pursue publishing.

I was bent on getting traditionally published. I queried until I was cross-eyed. And eventually I got a couple of bites on the novel. When I was offered a publishing deal, it felt like I had “made it.” “Arrived.” But funny enough, the more I looked into the deal, the publisher, and the industry at the time, the more I realized that I might be better off publishing myself.

So I did.

I turned down a major-market publishing deal to go indie. And I haven’t regretted it for one minute. There have been ups and downs, for sure, but all in all, I am glad that I retain all the rights to my work, that I control the branding and marketing, and that I get to decide what story I want to tell the world. I would have given all of that up with a publishing deal, and apparently I’m too much of a control freak to do that. Not to mention the publisher was only interested in my book. They had no mechanism to also market my music and art, which is an integral part of who I am and what I do. I did not want strangers owning a third of my brand, so indie was the best choice for me.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes a lot of learning, a lot of discipline, a lot of patience, and a lot of pulling up your boot straps. But it has been worth it. And I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to publish.

I’ve learned that not everyone you meet can be trusted.

A foray into partnerships with fellow authors that turned sour taught me to keep up my guard and not take people at face value so easily. Yes, it’s a bit cynical, but the bottom line is, when you have nothing, it’s easy to know who your real friends are. But when you have something, or at least the perception that you’re on to something, people come out of the woodwork. And not all of those people can be trusted. Since then, I’ve been much more selective about who I let into my inner circle, and who I trust with this business that I’m working my tail off to build from the ground up. A difficult lesson? Yes. But one much needed.

I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, and not all of them are right for you or me.

Google how to publish your book, join a Facebook group of authors, or do any basic research and you’ll see that there is a wealth of information out there. And information, at the end of the day, is really just opinions. Some opinions are worth checking into, learning, even implementing. But most? MOST are rubbish. And people with little to no experience, or a flash-in-the-pan’s worth of success are quick to tell you what you should be doing. The bottom line I’ve learned… follow your gut.

I had many “experts” tell me not to use my book cover for The Promised One, for example. One even said it looked too much like a traditionally published book. 🤣I’m so glad I ignored that advice because more often than not, people tell me they bought my book because of its cover. And even Joel Tippie, an AMAZING cover designer for Harper Collins said my cover was awesome. Check out his thoughts here: (FF to about 25:30)

Yeah, that was a good day. So I’m glad in the end I went with my gut and ignored all those well-meaning opinions. I highly recommend you do the same, in whatever you pursue.

I’ve learned that the best way to help my brand is to help others.

I used to be like a cat—I’d sit in the corner and wait. If you wanted to come pet me, I’d let you, but I would certainly not come to you. Animal analogies aside, the truth is I’ve learned to be more like a dog—to seek out people to help, to be kind to, to build up, to promote. Why? Because it’s reciprocal. Because the more I give, the more return I see. And the best part? What started off as a bit of a selfish motive has ended up being a huge reward. I love meeting new people in all my social arenas. I love hearing their stories, following their blogs, learning about their journeys. It inspires me, teaches me, challenges me. The more I support other authors and artists, the more I find support. It’s a sweet cycle that I’ve enjoyed discovering.

What I’m Looking Forward To »

As 2019 approaches, I am gearing up for some pretty interesting experiments, as I’m calling them. With ever-changing, enigmatic algorithms on the likes of Amazon and Facebook, coupled with a growing pool of millions and millions of books and art flooding the market, the reality is, it’s getting harder to be indie.

So I decided to try something potentially crazy.

For all of 2019, I am not going to buy ads. Not a single one. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads, no Instagram ads, no YouTube ads, no Goodreads ads. None. Instead, I’m going to focus all of my efforts on grassroots marketing, expanding on the principle above of helping others. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve on how I’m going to do that, which I’ll expound on in future posts. But I figure I’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, if I can find a way to expound on my success without ads, then when I’m ready to start buying them again, I’ll have an even more solid, larger foundation on which to build.

We’ll see.

Be sure to follow me here on the blog to see how the journey is going! (You can sign up for my newsletter and never miss another post!)

And if you haven’t yet, join my Fantasy-loving group over on Facebook. You’ll see what I’m talking about in this group—authors and readers working hand-in-hand. Plus you’ll get lots of recommendations for great new reads!

Book 3 of The Chalam Færytales »

So many of you ask me on a daily basis… “When is book 3 coming out?” Well, I am excited to say that as of now, book three is slated for a July 2019 release! I can’t give you many details on it yet, but sufficient to say… I AM LOSING MY MIND OVER THIS BOOK. (This is a good thing… I think.) Seriously, I am so proud of this story and where it’s going. And just a heads up, if you love Michael and Delaney now… just you wait, Henry Higgins. JUST. YOU. WAIT. *grins wickedly*

Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to sound off in the comments and tell me what you’re working on for 2019. I want to hear all about it!

As always, all my love,

Morgan

 

That’s right. An AUTOGRAPHED eBook! Thanks to the awesome folks at Authorgraph, you can now request an autograph of any one of my eBooks. You can check it out here! Happy reading, friends!