Stories - Page 4 of 15 - Lyonesse

A Pius Man: The Pius Trilogy Book 1

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Murder in the Vatican!

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope’s latest project is to make Pius XII, “Hitler’s Pope,” a saint. Things haven’t gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Mercenaries, spies, beautiful women, international intrigue and ancient secrets – The Pius Trilogy has it all!

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The Origin Key: Treasures of Dodrazeb Book 1

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In the third century, the Persian Empire was a world power whose influence stretched from China to Europe. The king and his sons maintained peace with a powerful army—until the day a horde of screaming vandals attacked the king.

Pursuing a criminal known as the Viper, Prince Rasteem becomes suspicious when the Persian army easily conquers Dodrazeb. Princess Laneffri is desperate to expel the Persian invaders from her kingdom and she will stop at nothing to protect its secrets—especially the Origin Key. Is Dodrazeb hiding the Viper or something even more dangerous? When Rasteem learns what the Origin Key can do, he must find a way to make the princess an ally to save both their kingdoms from annihilation.

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Adventures in the Asphodel Meadows

Liv Grazdani liked to listen to the radio while there was a body bleeding off her table. The flat didn’t seem so shabby with jazz trumpets rocking off the stained windows and piano slides going up and down the wilting blue-print flowers. But she preferred the dramas most nights, smoking up the room with porkpies and clay pipes and who-done-its.

You hear about the mobster shot through the lung? (Sure did. Heard his organization sprang a leak.) Liv had Grave Flowers going that Tuesday when Rum Turner came flopping against her door, bleeding like a river. Word on the street that night was that Rum was dead as an octopus on the bottom of the Atlantic, half his head chewed up and a bed of oysters in his burst belly. Blackie and his gang started thinking about setting up shop in Rum’s old digs. Even barged in to measure the floor so they could buy themselves a nice red rug. Then boom! Two days later, Rum rose up out of the sea like Poseidon on a bad day, brewing up a storm and three names written bold and blue on his trident. Shot three people dead before the gossip could brew up the morning tea and make its social calls.

Yeah. Liv Grazdani did that. Took the bullet out of the muscle tissue and skin and patched Rum Turner up before he drowned in blood and became a very ironic octopus indeed. She made octopus jokes while he spit up gore. I could write a whole novel with the ink coming out of you. At least you were well armed before you got shot. No bones about it. You hear the one about the octopus at the bar? Tried to ask for a drink, but the bar fella couldn’t pour anything on account of being underwater.

Rum hadn’t heard the octopus rumors, so he didn’t think the jokes were funny. But his man sitting in the corner laughed until he near split. A girl’s got to laugh at something when nights she carves up bodies for her bread and butter instead of strutting down Main St. like she’s got a secret cooler than anything your Mama ever told you.

After Rum and his guy were gone, Liv sat out on the step, smoking cigarettes and watching people trot by. A sea breeze whipped up the street. She wondered if a lipsticked dame with smoky eyes and opera tickets in her pocket would think Liv were cool. If Liv told her she knew enough about anatomy to embarrass a circulatory system, would the woman perk up an eyebrow and admit to being impressed? Probably not. Probably think it was gross.

In truth, the smell of blood in her floorboards drove Liv crazy, but white throws become bloody throws and then they had to be chucked in the bay. So she mopped up with lavender oil and scrubbed with almond polish until her pale knuckles went red and the living room smelled like a rich lady’s boudoir.

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The Curious Affair at the Arkwright Club

Wine! Hundreds of bottles.

“This is quite a wine cellar!” Marshall Leibowitz remarked as he and the white-haired cork master, Frank Remley, walked down the slightly creaky stairs into the large, climate-controlled basement room.

“No other wine club can boast of vintages rarer than those here at Arkwright,” Remley said proudly as the two men stepped onto the floor and looked out over the wooden racks.

“I would think not!”

“As a member, you will have access to all of these wines.”

“Really?” Leibowitz asked excitedly.

“In a ‘diplomatic’ fashion.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“We can’t possibly partake of every vintage we have in the racks,” the older man explained, “so, at our monthly meetings, the members vote for the wine that should be enjoyed at our next meeting. Whatever bottle gets the greatest number of votes is properly prepared and served then.”

“I really hope I’m voted in. I’ve been waiting for an opening here ever since I moved to the city.”

“I have no doubt you will be admitted at today’s meeting.”

“Seriously?”

“As a young attorney, you are just the kind of professional we’re looking for as a new member,” Remley told Marshall. “It is, of course, terribly sad that Mr. Raymond passed on.”

“I had the honor of working on some legal documents for him. He was a fine man.”

“But, without his death, there would not be an opening here at Arkwright.”

“You really think I’ll be admitted?”

“I’d say you can count on it,” Frank commented. “As a member, you’ll be expected to donate four hours a month of your time to the club’s care and upkeep.”

“That’s in addition to the yearly dues?”

“It is,” Remley said. “Is that a problem?”

“No, but isn’t such a stipulation . . . well. . . excessive?”

“Not at all. Our charter has maintained that requirement since the club’s founding in 1928 by Simon Arkwright. In this way, we save funds that would have to be spent on hired help, allowing us to invest instead on the acquisition of rare vintages. Everyone donates his time.” Remley paused, smirked, and inquired, “Do you wish not to be considered for membership any longer?”

“Oh no. Certainly not!” Leibowitz replied, quickly dispelling the notion. “Any true wine connoisseur would be a fool to pass up the opportunity. I was merely taken by surprise.”

“If you have physical limitations that prevent you from performing certain tasks, please inform the secretary after you are admitted. We don’t wish to cause our members any bodily harm.”

“I can do whatever might be needed.”

“That’s good to know,” Remley told him. “Colonel Thrip, 88 years old and sharp as a tack, recently had to stop assisting with the club’s upkeep. Bad heart, you know?”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“But with him being the Colonel and having been a member in fine standing of Arkwright since the Carter Administration, we have waived that requirement for him.” Frank gestured at the many wooden racks. “Perhaps you’d like to perform your service here, tending to the bottles? We need someone for that chore.”

“I would like that very much, and it wouldn’t be a chore.” Leibowitz reached out and removed a random bottle from one of the racks. He blew the dust from the label and could not believe his eyes. “The ’47? I’ve only heard rumors of its existence.” He grabbed another bottle and was equally astounded. “How did you ever come across such rare specimens?”

“The name Arkwright carries great weight in the wine world. Anything can be had. . . for a price.”

He carefully removed another bottle. “This one is empty,” he said, confused.

“Yes, it is.”

Leibowitz tapped on another couple of bottles. They were also dry. “Do the members save the empties as remembrances of vintages enjoyed?” he wondered.

“Not exactly.”

“Then why. . .”

“There is one more thing you should know about Arkwright.” Remley stepped forward and removed an empty bottle from a rack. “Our secret,” he said proudly. He pulled the cork from the bottle’s neck. The wine cellar began to violently shake. Dust fell from the ceiling, and many of the bottles dinged against one another.

“It’s an earthquake!” Leibowitz exclaimed.

Remley was strangely, totally calm. “Don’t be alarmed.”

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The Witch and the Jurassic Wolf

Get out, get out,” the butcher yelled as he flung the side door so wide the wood cracked. Hugging their children tight, the crowd streamed out to their cars like marbles pouring from a jar. In their rush, they knocked over the Indian Chief.

As the cycle fell toward me, I hopped back into the pantry slamming the door—but not in time. My toes crushed as I pulled in with fear and adrenalin.

Taller, but no gutsier in my thirties than I had been in my teens, I hoped that this golden-hued, mega-heavy motorcycle might act as an obstruction between the witch and me.

Paralyzed in fear, I gawked through the vent. The installers had misplaced the vent slats at the top of the door instead of at the bottom, and backwards, too. I peeked across the dining room. It looked like a brawl between the Cutlery Queen and a prehistoric, bipedal throw-back was on.

An enormous gray tail deftly descended to the floor sweeping the motorcycle smack dab against the pantry door. Pinned in and trapped, I felt strangely safe in this storeroom with the Indian Chief now blocking me from the witch. Eight feet away, I could see what looked like a dinosaur with a Malamute snout, scaly wolf ears and wagging tail.

I’d seen a version of this mammoth in its purer dinosaur form in Life Magazine’s feature about a shark-toothed lizard. This impressive Allosaurus was at the top of its food chain.

The ancient reptile’s serrated, clawed teeth descended with each huff. The dinosaur’s head rammed the ceiling. A high beam cracked.

A gray and white tail rubbed against the vents. Unable to resist the chance to feel real dinosaur skin, I awkwardly crammed two fingers through the vent-holes. An intense crystal-blue eye met my gaze. A gentle lick brushed my fingers.

Machete is that you?

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