Excerpt from SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE: The Return of Kira Grasdon

Get a glimpse into SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE!

With a frown, Wayland nods to Asher and the warrior stands to make sure he has everyone’s attention. “The Helgardians have targeted the Grasdon family. We don’t know why they are attacking us with these creatures, but the city has decided to use their forces only to defend. This means they go about their business until a beast appears. By that time, our family has already suffered losses. They claim that this is to make sure the situation does not escalate and they lose their remaining trade pacts with the Helgardians. What you see here is all that remains of the Grasdon lineage. Every attack has taken at least one of our kin.”

“You four are all that remain?” Luke asks, talking for the first time. Feathers ruffle under his collar and his eyes shimmer gold as his panic rises. “What happened to Kira?”

“Afraid that you’ll be stuck with a simple gypsy?” Wayland Grasdon retorts, polishing a ruby ring on his left hand. He grins at the anguish on the young warrior’s face. “Maybe you’re scared that my only daughter is still alive, but crippled. If you reject her in such a state it would make you look like a monster. Then again, you probably hope she’s one of the dead, so you don’t have to make a decision.”

“Tell me where Kira is, sir.”

Asher leans over to his father to speak, but a quick hand is placed against his lips. The younger man settles back down and sighs, settling for enjoying a pear. He refuses to look at his father or Luke, his attention finding an unimportant spot on the ceiling to ponder on. Timbre and Quill exchange nervous glances and follow their elder kinsman’s example.

“I don’t know what she sees in you,” the patriarch admits, popping a grape into his mouth and squishing it between his white teeth. “I told her to test your relationship or I would publicly stand against it. What does my daughter do? Picks a claimed man who has left our city behind and uses him as public proof that she is upholding the traditions. Meanwhile, I know he wasn’t a challenge to what you two have. I’d be fine with that if I didn’t start hearing about you and this gypsy.”

“Kira told me to uphold the traditions of your people,” the forest tracker argues, letting the griffin spirit sink back into his subconscious. He can still feel Stiletto at the fringe of his mind, the dog’s influence enough to sharpen his teeth. “I was honoring her request and I thought she was doing the same. Sari and I toned it down months ago because we want to sit down and talk to your daughter. Now, where is she?”

“You don’t understand our traditions.”

“Then punish me and teach me.”

“It isn’t my place to do so.”

“Then stay out of it!”

“On my beloved wife’s spirit, I will not let my daughter destroy her life for someone like you,” Wayland coldly says. A spearman breaks ranks to whisper in the man’s ear and swiftly moves back into position. “It appears this meeting is done. My butlers and maids will show you all to your rooms. If you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be.”

Grunts and shouts are heard coming down the hallway as Wayland gets to his feet and freezes. The sound of a body hitting the door echoes throughout the room, the sound repeating a few more times as if someone is trying to bash their way in. Asher and Timbre are on their feet with weapons drawn, the younger brother revealing a pair of long-handled sickles that he keeps hidden beneath the tail of his shirt. A lightly armored guard is hurled through the doors, the man landing on his back and rolling out of the way. Kira Grasdon storms into the room with her chain and sickle weapon drawn and a calico maid nervously following behind her. The black-haired woman is wearing leather armor and a furious glint is in her emerald eyes. She marches over to the table and slams the blade of her weapon into the polished surface, missing her father’s hand by an inch.

“This is why you sent me to check on the defenses,” she hisses in a voice that threatens to erupt into a scream. Her slender frame quivers from her anger mixing with the grief of recently losing so many loved ones. “You brought my fiancée and his friends here without telling me. I assume you were less than cordial in asking for their help.”

“I refuse to argue in front of our welcomed guests,” Wayland states, gesturing for his sons to stand down. The merchant rolls his eyes when Kira makes a wordless yell of rage in his chubby face. “This isn’t the time for you to get involved in this mess. We both know this relationship is nothing more than a fling and your mother will never approve. Imagine the pain you’re causing her by continuing with an outsider who doesn’t understand our ways.”

“Mom has been dead for years, dad!” Kira shouts, her arms shaking with anger. She tosses her weapon to the uncomfortable maid who rips the sleeve of her black and silver dress on the sickle. “Luke and I love each other and we’re in a unique situation. The rules have to be bent and I’ve jumped through every hoop you put in my way. Caspar, negotiating what you thought were impossible trade agreements, training with the local guards, and cleaning some of the more disgusting areas of the manor. What else do you want?”

“I just-”

“I don’t care what you want anymore! I can’t believe you’re continuing this feud while our family is being murdered. Get your priorities straight, dad, or you won’t have an empire to rule over.”

Enjoy the taste?  Then check out the entire adventure.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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24 Responses to Excerpt from SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE: The Return of Kira Grasdon

  1. L. Marie says:

    Wooooooo!! Love the conflict between Kira and her dad. Love how Luke struggles to stay polite, but then sort of loses the battle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MRS N, the Author says:

    Loved it! Can’t wait to read more! I shared on Twitter for ya! 🙂

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  3. shawn says:

    Reblogged this on Down Home Thoughts and commented:
    Need a new fantasy read? Check out the latest Legends of Windmere book!

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  4. Cool stuff. I think I will stop the serial read and jump into this one.

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  5. excellent, Charles. As always.

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  6. Bill says:

    I’ve been of two minds on the “traditions” of Kira’s people especially as executed in her situation, less an exploitation of interesting people, more an act to be completed to satisfy her father, which diminished her. I actually think it would have more interesting if there had been more emotional exploration on her side, that any sex was non existent or a choice she made due to a true conflict, rather than coerced. I’m also not sure that one cultural belief should have superseded another in a “mixed” relationship. I wish some compromise had been reaching that respected the beliefs of both. That said, obviously following her beliefs created the very interesting Gypsy storyline and allowed you to explore loving two people. I hope the future is about resolving the current conflict, rather than introducing more. I’m glad Kira finally recognized that she should have just trusted him rather than forcing her traditional beliefs without consideration for his feelings. Choices have consequences…as they should.

    Obviously it’s turned out her father or family didn’t have the best judgment. At some point a cathartic realization of that fact and how it relates to her current relationship mess would be interesting. Not all traditions are wise is an understatement

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    • (Trying my best without spoilers.) It wasn’t a pretty situation to begin with. Luke was always given the option to not go along with it too, which I don’t think gets taken into account as often as Kira making the request. In my mind, all 3 of them are at fault, which kind of makes sense to me since the three cultures at play are rather incompatible to begin with. Not to mention Luke, Kira, and Sari are the youngest and more immature of all of the main characters.

      One thing that made it difficult to use is that their two cultures are very different in this situation. Really hard to compromise. Best example I can think of is swinging couples are both in instead of one in/one out. Yet there was a tiny bit of compromise between Kira’s culture and Luke’s adventuring lifestyle. She altered her own traditions to give him a pass and not feel awkward around other women, which really bit her in the throat. In her mind, that was taking his feelings into consideration. It just was a really big mistake that lead to the current situation. This book is where things take a big turn in the relationship of all three and a conclusion is locked in with the next book, but people will probably see where it’s going after this. As you said, choices have consequences and I finally have the proper place to get all 3 into the same spot to make those come to pass. I looked at earlier books for this, but Kira spends a lot of time absent from the stories. I’m really just happy to put a few nails in this coffin. As happy as I am with it and knowing how it plays into the finale, it’s a storyline that I will never attempt to repeat.

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      • Bill says:

        Charles,

        Thanks for the thoughtful response, I fear the two minds didn’t get captured in my original post. While I didn’t love that element, it did lead to Sari who I’m glad is a fully validated and legitimate part of the story, so ultimately worthwhile. My perspective might be a bit different than many folks, as I’ve already completed “Sleeper” and read the series in a little different style. I’m trying to avoid spoilers in my comments but I read the first two books, stopped reading, then picked back up just in time to read the entire series to “Sleeper” over the last 2 weeks. I only mention that because I might see things a little diffrent than folks who had a chance to settle into some of the situations and characters for a longer period of time. I’m pretty confident I’m less emotionally invested in Kira for example than folks who read the books as released. For me, she quickly became a (foolish) afterthought once they were separated. From my biased perspective and because of how I read the books, Sari seems the “truest” to who she is, the least responsible. Kira made it seem like the “tradition” was inviolable in her culture, which was not the case, we later learn that many of the younger generation don’t follow the practice any more, it seemed she made the offer out of distrust, his willingness to participate (even though given a choice) was presented as “the test” of his love and respect. more than the process itself. Also, because I know about her father, a choice to please him looks like an even bigger mistake in retrospect (ahh the beauty of 20/20 hindsight). That said, I like where things ended in this book, in shows that choices do have consequences and I think you make clear that all involved recognize that fact now. (I won’t go into spoiler details) This book, especially the final scene with Sari & Kira “holding hands” (purposely obscure) demonstrates everyone’s understanding of the quagmire they’ve created.

        I really enjoyed this book, I absolutely believe it’s the best of the series and reading them in rapid succession makes it easy to see the growth of everyone involved…. everyone 🙂

        One final though… yes Kira not being around created a vacuum of influence for her character, but interestingly, that issue reflects the nature of the Luke’s choice, someone one to live with or to retire with…. Tough choices ahead…can’t wait!!

        All the best
        Bill

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      • Here’s the funny thing: Sari was actually first. Kira never existed in the original game/plan and I created her as a rival for Sari. Yet she appeared in the first book and connected with Luke better than I expected. I still needed Sari for the main plot, so that’s where Bor’daruk and its traditions came from. It was originally a way to allow Luke to be torn between two women, but avoid the ‘cheater’ issue. Then it just blossomed and boiled into what it is now. Honestly, I think all three characters are benefiting from this in terms of development and it means at least one of the series romances is set to be tragic in some way. Part of it is going to be following what the ‘loser’ does and how the ‘winners’ act towards him/her.

        You’re right that Kira has a big issue with connecting to readers. Her absence, which makes sense for the character, does make it hard for the reader to connect with. This is why I had her try to show up as often as I could without stretching things. Several attempts to fit her into Tri-Rune and Dark Wind got thrown out because it was getting ridiculous that she’d be in the areas. So I think she kind of turned herself into an afterthought. As far as Sari being the only ‘true’ one, that’s a good point. Though she may be too true considering her subconscious actions that were revealed in Compass Key. Luke and Kira come from upbringings where they put on masks, so they’re still trying to design their permanent, ‘true’ identities throughout the story. Kira especially has multiple facades to combine and erase because she grew up playing the game of nobles. Being from that world, she did think tradition was key because she would have a lot to lose if she married incorrectly, got divorced, and was exiled from the city. The truth is that Kira caused her own problems and didn’t think things through. She never expected someone like Sari, thought her offer would relieve Luke of any guilt if he made a mistake (too many adventurer tales of drunken one night stands), and attempted to predict her father who is controlling. The truth is that the Bor’daruk traditions don’t really work with outsiders.

        A big part of this book is bringing the love triangle to some closure and giving Kira a burst of development. I do feel like she got short-changed since she isn’t an adventurer. It’s why a lot of her reasoning and mentality never got in there. I kept trying to find ways for her to explain her thoughts, but it never fit with the scenes she got into. So several readers have turned on her. Yet, as you put it, the whole thing does reveal that Luke will reach a point where he has to choose stability (Kira) or a life of wandering (Sari). I get the feeling that the decision will be made for him in a way since the two ladies are more decisive.

        I really hold the grand ending is enjoyed. Very impressive reading marathon. Thanks for your thoughts.

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      • Actually, I think only one book has a spot where Kira spewing all of her logic and coming to several revelations. Just rather late in the series. Wondering if it would work as the character suddenly seeing her own mistakes and admitting them.

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  7. M T McGuire says:

    Looks brilliant. Congratulations. 🙂

    Like

  8. Bill says:

    Charles,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share those insights. It’s really interesting, when the tradition is framed as Kira wanting to let Luke go on his quest without the burden of expectations of fidelity,my perspective changes immediately. Having her see her mistakes and own them is excellent. Honestly, while not as emotionally invested in her, I also see her as the most interesting “good” character in the story. She’s not perfect, has made mistakes, failed, been week at time…. is human. Her love and commitment to Luke has never wavered.. IMHO her biggest flaw has been he shackles imposed by the family business. It drove her early perception, in some part choices to do what was politically correct, continues to drive her decisions and tied her down geographically. The big question is what really is her priority? While others were participating in their grand adventure she was negotiating trade deals for her father. This book addressed a lot of that, I’m curious to see how that evolves in the next book.

    But because she’s never abandoned Luke, is imperfect, suffers frustration and self doubt, she’s also the ONLY candidate to be the “Phoenix”

    The real question is, how much an old limping warriors greatest regret, from book 1 resonated with Luke 😉

    Thanks for the insight, as a result I realized Kira probably is more complete and worthy than I previously gave her credit for.

    I believe not carrying the burden of the story and your realization of her limited “air time”, created a situation where she’s more complex and multidimensional than her rival, if simply because she was allowed to show her imperfections, insecurities, fear and will to fight despite them.

    Talk about a 180!!

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    • Good question. Kira really does have to evaluate her priorities and life, especially after the events of ‘Sleeper’. She stands out among the other heroes since she’s not an adventurer and has no role in the big destiny plot. In the eyes of the gods, she’s an expendable tool that may only be around to help evolve Luke and Sari in some way. She has to redesign herself and it’ll be interesting to see how she does it. There are several paths she can take, which I can’t hint at in public. I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for her since she’s changed so much from the one scene screaming brat that appeared in the first book. I’m hoping she can go the distance even though she isn’t a physical presence in every book.

      In contract, I think Sari is less complex only because she is what she is. There’s no mask or secrets about her, which is opposite of Kira. I still have some things to do with the little gypsy because she’s long overdue for a world rocking. 🙂 Thanks for the fun conversation. Love the idea of a Kira being a ‘Phoenix’ character.

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      • Bill says:

        No, thank you.

        The insights you provided really made me reconsider my previous views. I promised myself I would not let the morality issue cloud my view of Kira but think I had failed until this conversation. By the way, I always understood intellectually the purpose of the “traditions” and it was effective in removing the “cheating” element. But hard on the Kira persona, even when I promised not to let it be… We are funny, strange creatures.

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      • Good to hear. You gave me some thoughts on what to do with Kira and Sari as the story continues. Especially with revealing Kira’s reasoning and helping her come to terms with her actions.

        The morality side of things is really tough to ignore. All of us are raised to believe in monogamous dating and fidelity while deviations are wrong. Even when writing it, I found it hard to throw those ideas away. I think Kira takes the brunt of it because she’s the one who created the situation. Luke may have agreed to it and Sari took advantage of it, but they weren’t the ones who started the fire. That really does help me see why Kira gets a lot of flack. Makes me feel even more determined to find a way to redeem her in some way.

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