Goodreads user: KingdomofTorrence
Books/Titles: The Legend of Jerrod (available at Friesenpress.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com)
From The Legend of Jerrod©, Chapter 7
From the doorway, (Amanda) could see dust and cobwebs covered the soldier’s tattered clothes. Its armor had grown black with dirt. A silver band circled his forehead. Near the center of the room, she saw coins and jewels strewn about the floor. Everything looked peaceful, as the long-dead soldiers lay where they had fallen, but her senses burned as hot as the torch.
“It is not safe here,” she thought. Her instincts caused her to dislike what she saw, but she did not falter. Her curiosity was too great.
The question of why someone had barred the doorway to keep someone from getting out of a treasure room nagged at her. Something is seriously wrong. But instead of leaving, she knelt at the entrance to the cave to watch.
Minutes passed. Nothing! She examined the entrance to the cave but found no visible signs of a trap. The floor did not seem to have any moving tiles or plates, but all her senses screamed danger. As she watched, Amanda familiarized herself with every inch of the room. She peered at the treasure and decided it was not a great amount of wealth, but the chest’s contents were still a mystery. As any thief would in a group of treasure hunters, she wanted to secretly take the first trinket before sharing the rest with her friends, but something seemed wrong.
She stepped into the room and then stopped, still in a crouched position like a cat ready to pounce. She looked about slowly, but nothing stirred. She took another step, daring to stand. Still nothing. Barely ten feet inside the small cave, she froze when deep laughter began to rumble. The chilling sound echoed off the walls as the corpse slowly raised its head to look at her. Bright yellow eyes burned in its skull. Amanda stepped back slowly, as the skeleton began to stand.
The laughter grew deafening, as the dead warrior took one step forward and then another. When it raised its arms the armored skeletons in the middle of the floor began to stand like puppets on the marionette’s string, answering their master’s bidding. Amanda began backing away faster. When the ghoul leaped into the air and flew slowly toward her, she turned and ran back up the hallway for the once-barred door, the door that had been sealed with two locks until she removed them.
The torch flame flickered wildly and then blew out from her running. The dim light from the doorway became a beacon of survival, as she raced up the uneven floor back toward the other room. She leaped through the doorway to land on her side, sliding feet first into the crypt room. She tumbled to a stop, and then spun around, diving back to slam the door shut. But as she swung the door closed, the ghoul hit it with a crash, sending her reeling backwards into the center of the room. The door splintered from the impact with an ominous cracking sound.
Imelrinn jumped to his feet at the tremendous noise. Instinctively notching an arrow, he fired, and then fired again. Both arrows embedded into the ancient warrior before anyone else was awake enough to realize that a battle for their lives was already upon them.
“Don’t let it touch you!” Nathanial shouted, scrambling to his feet.
Rok-lin began darting around the room, screeching as the skeletal warriors came rushing into the room through the splintered doorway. Amanda backed toward the obelisk and carefully positioned herself with the empty crypt between her and the floating ghoul. The ghoul laughed, deep and cruel. Slowly it waved its broadsword forward in a sweeping motion, beckoning its skeletal puppets into battle. Nearly two dozen skeletons swarmed toward the obelisk.
Fraum’s speed startled everyone. He flew into the closest group of skeletons, holding his mahogany staff back behind him, parallel to the ground; his arm crossed over the top of the staff as he wrapped his hand underneath and locked the weapon under his armpit. He kicked in the air, snapping his foot into a skeleton, sending it backwards, bones flying apart. Fraum landed in a squat, then sprang up, spinning as he brought his staff around, swinging it through more opponents. Skeleton bones flew everywhere.
Drin and Jerrod drew their swords and struck down on the advancing skeletons. Rok-lin ripped a skull off a skeleton’s boney neck, then darted away with her prize. The graceful sweeps of Imelrinn’s long sword were nearly as quick as his archery had been.
While the others fought the onslaught of skeletons, the ghoul remained focused on Amanda. Nathanial walked forward, holding his staff. Under his breath, Nathanial chanted in the ancient language of magic. The ghoul let out a curtailing screech. The sound deafened everyone.
As the ghoul tried to advance it looked down into the crypt, hissing. Nathanial’s spell blocked the evil spirit from passing over the holy ground of the empty tomb.
Drin moved between the ghoul and Amanda, but the ghoul’s sweeping sword caught him in the chest, the blow so powerful, Drin slid all the way across the floor to the far wall. He hit hard and lay lifelessly on the stone floor. Imelrinn and Jerrod attacked from the side, but the ghoul slashed back with one sweeping blow, knocking both of them to the floor. It stretched its grotesque, pale green hand with open, rotting wounds toward Amanda.
A deafening sound, like the boom of an earthquake, echoed in the room as Nathanial struck the bottom of his staff on the stone floor.
“Metlock!” Nathanial yelled with all his might.
A sapphire blue semi-sphere appeared, blocking the ghoul’s advance again. Standing next to Amanda, Nathanial raised his staff and pointed it toward the ghoul, as if he were pushing the creature away. At first, the ghoul moved back, but then it turned its gaze down on Nathanial. Its bright yellow eyes burned. The sphere quickly shrank, as Nathanial dropped to his knees.
The ghoul threw its arms toward the ceiling and screeched. As the bluish sphere disappeared, crushed beneath the ghoul’s intense yellow gaze, Nathanial flew backward. His unconscious body lay motionless behind Amanda. She stood there, alone and unprotected. Again, the deep laughter haunted her. The ghoul paused, as if to enjoy her fear.
Her fear feed its evil, beat-less heart. The ghoul intended to end her life slowly, causing great pain. It would draw strength from her fear and her death.
Amanda crouched in front of Nathanial in defense, one leg forward, near the floor. She knew flight was futile, but she doubted she could win in hand-to-hand combat against the evil creature. As she watched it approach, her hopes dwindled. With the determination of a cornered mountain lion ready to make its last stand, she drew her sword.
She thought to herself, “I may not be able to drive this through your black heart, but I will die trying!”
In that moment Jerrod leaped from the side of the room, his face reflecting the tremendous energy he was exerting in a last-ditch effort to save Amanda. He groaned with determination, as he swung his sword up in an arc that cut across the ghoul’s chest. The blade hit the side of the ghoul’s stomach first, then sliced up through its chest, as the sword cleaved the body in half. The instant the sword cut through the ghoul’s rotting flesh, a flash of silvery white light blinded everyone.
The Legend of Jerrod, which was initially released in January 2013, should have a revision edition released in October 2013. It is an epic fantasy. “I am drawn to fantasy and the creation of worlds to tell stories the readers will enjoy. I loved The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I am also a Star Trek/Star Wars fan, but do not like to write about technology. I loved stories of King Arthur, Camelot, Ivanhoe, and Robin Hood when I was much younger.”
To get from start to finish, Stoddard said, “I have a beginning and end in mind. Then, I draw out a map to help envision what the characters must travel through. After that I layout the primary events in each chapter. From there, I fill in the chapters with notes and thought before I start my first draft.”
Research? “I created the map of Torrence and Lithlillia (the druid-Elvin kingdom), and basic structures for various types of characters: wizards, soldiers, thieves, etc. I also studied mythology at the University of Maryland.”
Stoddard discussed his main character: “Jerrod is a boy growing into manhood. He does not want to become a miller as his father and older brother. He is young, ambitious, and naïve, but well intended, full of dreams. When Jerrod makes a choice to follow his dreams for fame and fortune, he finds a magical sword that changes his life. He may not know how much until book three.
After making new friends in Torrence, he and his friends undertake a journey to recover a lost treasure. On the road he finds he loves his friend, Amanda, but falls in love with a princess druid they meet in the Black Forest.
You cannot get enough editing, particularly proofreading, before you finish.”
Balancing time? “Family first. I write better on weekend mornings while the family sleeps, but I also steal time late at night. I have a fulltime, day job to pay the bills.”
Stoddard told me this about authors that inspire and the history of writing: “I have written since about the age of ten, although I never dreamed of being a published author. I have enjoyed the stories of such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ann McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, and David Eddings. More recently, I have enjoyed J.K. Rowling. I have also enjoyed Steven King.” Also, Stoddard said, “I worked on The Legend of Jerrod for about four years before I had it published. I lost two computers and an external hard drive during the process. I probably decided, subconsciously, to write a book while my children were young, during a period of time when I told them bedtime stories about forest animals, but I did not realize it until many years later.”
Publishing journey: “Being a self-published author is like living on a rollercoaster. Sometimes you are accepted by traditionally published authors, other times you are not. In Science-Fiction circles, however, if you are not traditionally published, you are not considered a “published” author. As a self-published author you finance everything. You manage every aspect of the author experience which often takes you away from writing.”
Projects in the works: “I currently have 180 pages of notes for the sequel, Amanda’s Quest. I have made the first draft of the prologue, epilogue, and first four chapters. Those writings should go to the beta readers in the next month. I am also in the process of composing a song for the bard’s song (page 151). I hope to produce a music-video to be posted to YouTube next spring.
I need to draw the second part of the map that will be in Amanda’s Quest and paint the book cover. I also have notes for book three. The title has not been determined.”
One wish? “I want readers to enjoy the story. I would like to expand my reader base.”
Hardest thing about being an author: “Finding the time to write. When someone tells you how much they have enjoyed your book (a great feeling by the way) your mind just screams, ‘how do I get the word to others so that they will read the book?'”
The best thing about being an author: “Sharing the storyline that I have created. I love hearing back from readers about what they like, their favorite parts and characters. One young reader (7th grade) relayed that it was the ‘best book he had read in some time.’”
Most important thing Stoddard wants people to know? “The Kingdom of Torrence series is written for the readers’ enjoyment. The world is created and described through the storyline which includes traditional mythology and new beasts. It is not just an epic fantasy, but also has subplots of coming of age, a love triangle, and treachery.
I painted the cover of The Legend of Jerrod. The book received an Honorable Mention from the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.”
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