Before the Epic Tale of Alyra's journey across Alburnium, there was a whole different story. The tale of her life in Racah, before she escaped. Her life in Racah where she fell in love with a young hunter. And that young hunter fell so madly and deeply in love with her, he was willing to sacrifice everything to be with her.
The stories had been forgotten. Or rather, stolen, until now.
Find out the complete story about Tarek and Alyra's true love story when you read White Road Tales.
Now, all four (yes, four) stories are bundled together and offered in print and ebook version. But, I'm sure you're wondering about the fourth story, because there have only been three: Captured, Stolen and Ransom. Well, there's been hints at Stitch and Tarek's story, as well. And in Deceived, all will be revealed.
Where can you find the Complete White Road Tale Collection?
Well, click on your favorite retailer.Amazon
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Here's a sample from Chapter One of Deceived:
Tarek dodged the palomino centaur’s legs, hoping he’d not get his toe smashed again by one of his prancing hooves.
Stitch ducked behind a cluster of trees, leaving Tarek in clear view of the irritate guard. The brown centaur guard, named Abek, stomped in circles, first going in one direction, then another which caused a peal of laughter from his accomplice.
“Shhhh,” Tarek hissed. “He’ll hear and know it was us.”
Tarek and Stitch had come across a pod of brownies the other day while on guard detail in the woods. Stitch had managed to catch five or six of the tiny beings with painfully sharp teeth and clawing nails. He’d secured them into a pouch he kept tied to his gear belt. “This’ll teach him,” Stitch said with a conspiratorial wink.
For the past three nights in a row they’d found Abek, the night guard, asleep while on duty. They themselves should have been asleep, but Tarek’s dreams often plagued his slumber and Stitch was a nervous sort who was prone to wandering to settle his anxiety. The first night they’d let it go and simply woken him up. The second night, Tarek mentioned he needed to do something since he was in charge of the Racan stock. It was his job to make sure the creatures stayed in line and did their jobs. He was also responsible for feeding and locking them in for the night. Except the young centaur Stitch, who’d quickly become one of Tarek’s closest friends after finding him half-drowned in Many Rivers. Tarek only pretended to lock him up at night.
One of the strange dreams which plagued Tarek was of the man dressed in gold and white who might have been the one who kept Tarek from tumbling over the falls in Many Rivers. He’d been ready to give up and let the current take him over. But a strange wind had come along and swooped him up onto a rocky crag instead. That’s where Stitch had found him and they’d been inseparable ever since.
Which was strange for Tarek. He normally didn’t put much trust in creatures. But Stitch’s antics kept him from falling into a pit of despair and that was enough for Tarek to lower his guard and allow the friendship to grow.
The guard Abek yelled out in frustration.
Stitch had the grand idea of teaching the night guard a lesson about falling asleep during his shift. While the brown centaur snored away, Stitch and Tarek had sneaked up on the unsuspecting creature and tied the furious brownies to the hairs of Abek’s long, curly tail. Despite the hissing and yelps of pain from Stitch when he was bitten or scratched, Abek slept on through the whole ordeal. By time they were done, Tarek reasoned the lazy mule-man deserved what he got.
Abek’s screaming brought a few of his kinsmen to his aid. They surrounded the bucking centaur, trying to calm him so they could remove the fighting Fae creatures.
“If you’d hold still, Abe!” one of the guardsmen shouted. “Ow!” He shook his hand after receiving a nip from one of the brownies.
Finally a pure black centaur entered the commotion, unsheathing his knife. “There’s only one way to get them out. You will all have to hold him still.”
Stitch gasped, covering his mouth. “Oh, no. Abek’s beautiful tail.”
Tarek tried to shush him, but it was too late. Abek caught sight of Stitch peering around the cluster of trees and pointed in their direction.
“Run for it,” Stitch yelled, leaving Tarek still on his hands and knees.
He ducked down and tried to scramble out of sight through the thick growth of fern and brambles. Some way to show he’s the boss of this lot, he thought as he crawled like a child through the brush.
After putting a good distance between himself and the commotion, Tarek stood and ran, remaining hunched over until he reached the edge of the woods. He made for a row of buildings along the edge of Denovo, which was now inhabited by Racan soldiers. Tarek had no more than stepped out of the tree cover when he heard his name called.
“A word, Squire.” Captain Whines motioned him over.
“Yes, sir.” As Tarek started toward him, he felt a jolt on his belt and realized he still had the bag of the two remaining brownies he’d taken from Stitch while he finished tying in the others. They’d both feared they were pushing their luck trying to secure all of them without waking the slumbering Abek. He tucked his thumb into the hip pocket of his trousers, hoping to hide the wriggling bag with his hand.
“I’ll be sending a work crew of dwarves and centaurs over to the canyons by the north range.” He pointed to a three-pronged peak of the Semitamon Mountains towering over the township of Denovo. “There’s a passage which has caved in. I think it’s repairable. Orders have been sent by messenger bird for us to keep at least two of the tunnels through the mountains open. I only know of three, but one is too difficult to get to. So we’ll focus on keeping the other two accessible.”
Tarek gave a nod, not sure why the captain was telling him this.
Whines smoothed his bushy mustache which practically covered his lips and was always caked with crumbs or grease from his last meal. “I want you to pick six bucks to take and about a dozen of our dwarves. They stay there until it’s open. You’ll need to oversee the operation and make sure they make quick work about it.”
At that moment, a group of centaurs burst from the woods, Abek in the lead as he ran away from one wielding a knife. The brownies bounced along behind his rump, still tangled in his long tail. “You’ll not cut it. I won’t let you,” Abek cried, galloping toward the stables. “I’ll get them out myself.”
“Be reasonable, Abek.” shouted the one chasing him with the glinting silver dagger. “I’ll nip them out in no time. Your tail will grow back, lad. In time.”
“Nooooooo!” Abek’s wail pierced Tarek’s ears.
“Good night, man,” Captain Whines gasped. “What was that all about?”
Captain Whines folded his arms across his chest, resting them on his expansive gut. “I’ve explained the necessity of keeping your stock in order, have I not, Squire?”
Tarek tried not to look chagrined. He didn’t rank high enough to be given the title of a private. Not that he cared, but still, he wondered how they expected him to take his job seriously when they refused to take him seriously.
Then again, he was only here as a means to retrieve Princess, though he still had no intention of allowing her to be captured. He’d written his family and warned them to make a run for it, if given the chance. Pop had responded by ordering him to do what he was told to do. To think about his family and his own hide before he worried about that troublesome princess. Who wasn’t really a princess at all. Her name was Alyra, she was free and confident, and the last time they’d met, in Many Rivers, he’d been left almost shattered because of her and his failure to hinder her pursuit of freedom.
“Well?” Captain Whines demanded.
Tarek blurted, “Abek was caught sleeping while on duty, sir. I… uh—”
Stitch appeared then, out of breath and still laughing until he saw Tarek standing beside the captain. He almost dove back into the woods, but he stopped. Maybe he wasn’t going to totally abandon Tarek, after all, the wily skunk. Tarek narrowed his eyes threateningly, and Stitch approached, head ducked.
“I—” finished Tarek, “—asked Stitch here to find means to teach him a lesson.”
“Really?” Captain Whines didn’t seem too impressed by his tone. He glared at Stitch who fiddled with the belt looping around his narrow waist.
Stitch muttered, “Just following the master’s orders.” Then he quickly added, “Sir.”
“Tarek, need I explain again that the best form of discipline is a heavy-handed one? Our king would find your simple-minded pranks a feeble attempt to keep order. If you find a sleeping buck, you whip his hide until he learns to stay awake.”
Stitch’s eyes widened as he took a nervous step backward.
Captain Whines leaned in closer and added, “Most certainly we do not elicit the aid of the beast to manage the other beasts. You must keep your distance, lad. How can I trust you to maintain the stock if you’re too weak-willed to give them the lashing they deserve? After that guard gets those… things out of his tail, you set him as an example, understand? Cut off his tail to rid him of the pests, then give him twenty lashes for shirking his duty.”
“But sir—” Tarek started.
Stitch froze, his rounded eyes darting between Tarek and the captain.
“I mean it.” Captain Whines smacked his fist into his pudgy palm. “This is the only way to keep those stupid creatures in line. They understanding nothing else and certainly can’t be reasoned with.”
Stitch turned away and started walking toward the stables.
“See,” Captain Whines pointed at the retreating palomino. “he doesn’t even stand and argue with me. No spirit. No brains. No sense even trying to reason with them.” He patted Tarek on the back. “I like you, Squire. I know why you’re here and I know your position is precarious. I do not wish to send you back to Racah for failing your assignment.”
Tarek sucked in his breath. He caught Stitch’s blond head peering around the building. He was still close enough to listen to their conversation, drat him! Such a nosy nelly.
When Tarek offered no response, Captain continued, “However, I need to know your presence here will benefit our unit, understand?”
“Indeed, sir. And I’m still watching out for… her. Sir. I may yet be able to accomplish the… assignment I was sent on.” In truth, if he was fortunate to find Alyra again, he just might actually go with her if the invitation was still open.
Captain Whines’ black eyes looked like two floating beads broken off a lady’s necklace as he stared down at him. “I should hope you remember the reason your life has been spared, lad. You are the only one who truly knows what the damsel looks like. I will need you to identify her when you see her. We will take care of it from there.”
Tarek swallowed the rock lodging in his throat. He gave a quick nod.
“Very good. Now go take care of your situation with the centaurs. Show them you will not tolerate their laziness.”
“Yes, sir.” Tarek left him and headed toward the stables, hoping they’d settled the matter on their own. He didn’t want to beat any of them. However, the captain was right— he needed to have a talk with the guard. He’d strip him of his nocturnal duties and send him to the dig out the tunnels during the day. The business of clearing out the rubble should keep him awake.
“What was all that about?” Stitch asked, falling in step beside him. “About having an assignment and—”
“Mind your own, mule.”
Stitch clicked his tongue. “You sound a little put-out.” Then the crunching of his hooves slowed as his hand grasped Tarek’s shoulder. “Wait, you don’t intend to… you won’t actually beat Abek, will you?”
Tarek knew that was probably what he should do, but he shook his head. “No, not this time.” Still, Tarek knew he had to do something. Something more than playing that stupid prank on him. Blast Stitch for coming up with the idea!
No, his annoying inner voice condemned. Blast you for letting him talk you into it in the first place.
Breathing out a long breath, Tarek steeled himself for what needed to be done. He hated it. Hated being in this position. If he didn’t fear for Alyra being caught if she traveled through here, then he’d leave and disappear in the mountains. He’d heard rumors of small hamlets hidden in the cliffs. He had no idea how anyone could make a life for themselves up there. What could they grow among the rocks? Or build shelter in the side of the cliffs? He shook his head, knowing at the moment he had nowhere to go. He’d sent a letter to Ma, appealing to her to make Pop leave Racah. He told her his position was precarious and he doubted he’d make it back to Racah alive. And he had no intention of returning. At all.
When they reached the stables, there was still a commotion going on inside. Abek wailed as the others tried to untangle the brownies from his tail. “Don’t yank out my hair. Ow!”
Tarek stopped and withdrew his knife. “Stitch, you’ll have to hold him down. This was your idea and you’ll help me deal with him. He has to learn his lesson.”
“Would you rather I whipped him like the captain suggested?” Tarek yelled.
“No.” Stitch ducked his head again.
“Then do what I said. Let’s get this over quick.”