[GUEST POST] Neverland’s Library: Fantasy is a Reality (Plus: Excerpts!)
Roger Bellini owns and runs a fantasy review website. He works as a promotional manager for a local movie theater and is the 2014 Con Chairman for MystiCon, the premiere convention in Southwest Virgina. He discovered his love of writing early in life and earned his BA in English in 2009. Currently he is hard at work on his debut novel and actively involved with several different anthology projects, one of which being a collaborative project with Ragnarok Publications.
by Roger Bellini
Hey, my name is Roger. Many of you lovely readers probably have no idea who I am, and that’s perfectly fine! At this time last year I had absolutely no connection to the wonderful Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing community. I was an everyday guy with who just happened to read too much. I went from there to where I am now – editing an anthology with several of my favorite authors.
Late 2012 I started a website called A Daily Dose of R&R, a blog that I dedicated to reviewing books that I love, along with others that made me curious enough to pick up. Since then my ambitions have grown ten-fold. I began to engrain myself into a tight knit family of readers, reviewers and writers. This sparked something in me, and I, along with my lovely girlfriend and co-editor, began to lay the foundation for Neverland’s Library, an anthology designed to realize our dreams of sharing the literary works we love.
I’d like to thank all of the wonderful people who played a hand in this amazing journey, and also thank the entire community as a whole for the willingness to embrace a newcomer and make them feel at home. The people who I owe gratitude to are legion, but I want to draw especial attention to Joe Martin (Author Contributor), Tim Marquitz (Author Contributor), Alex Shvartsman (Unidentified Funny Objects Editor) Gabriel Verdon (Cover Artist) and last but certainly not least, Rebecca Lovatt (my co-editor, best friend and book reviewer).
On October 13th 2013, we successfully reached our crowd funding goal for this project. Artists and authors have all been paid, and printing is all lines up. Thanks to all of you for showing that fantasy is actually a reality!
Below are a couple of goodies regadring the finished anthology:
- The project video
- The table of contents
- Excerpts from stories that will be included in the anthology
Please take a look and enjoy these treats, courtesy of everyone from the Neverland’s Library family!
- Introduction by Tad Williams
- “Deception” by Mark Lawrence
- “Centuries of Kings” by Marie Brennan
- “Redemption at Knife’s End” by Tim Marquitz
- “The Machine” by Kenny Soward
- “Redfern’s Slipper” by Stephen McQuiggan
- “The Last Magician” by William Meikle
- “Restoring the Magic” by Ian Creasey
- “The Rendition of Ephraim Waite” by Peter Rawlik
- “An Equity in Dust” by R.S. Belcher
- “The Stump and the Spire” by Joseph Lallo
- “A Soul in the Hand” by Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Marsheila Rockwell
- “The Height of our Fathers” by Jeff Salyards
- “The Tomb” by Miles Cameron
- “Fire Walker” by Keith Gouveia
- “Season of the Soulless” by Betsy Dornbusch
- “Dead Ox Falls” by Brian Staveley
- “Love, Crystal and Stone” by Teresa Frohock
- [Untitled] by J.M. Martin
- [Untitled] by Mercedes M. Yardley
- [Untitled] by Don Webb
No-one believed Jak these days. Not since he saw the Maker. Not even his older brother. He heaved in a breath, half pant, half sob. He’d been so excited then. So excited that he’d not waited to tell father, but rushed into Chant-Meet and shouted out the news.
“A Maker! I saw a Maker!”
Once more Jak saw the looks the town-folk exchanged. His eyes stung and the sparkles on the lake blurred behind tears. He remembered the people were awkward at first, as if they wished he’d shut up. But then, when he said the Maker was naked, they laughed. They seized on that, and suddenly it was a joke. They could sweep it all away.
I saw him! I didn’t dream him.
Priest Roth told Jak he’d dreamed it. Helpless before church orders, Jak’s parents had delivered him to the rectory. A slow walk to the dark manse that dominated the town. A servant took him to Roth’s study. He remembered the carpet, soft and thick, the crystal glasses in the cabinet, the golden chess pieces, and the priest in contemplation as the servant led him in.
The priest had held him with pinching hands and cold eyes. “You dreamed it, Jakimo. Say it. Say it. If you didn’t dream him then you must be lying, and the Makers have fires to burn liars on.”
Sometimes he wondered if it was a dream. The Maker looked so like the stained-glass picture in the Chant-Hall. He could have stepped from that window above the altar-stone. Ten foot tall, overtopped by eagle wings, perfection glowing golden in each limb, hair like spun silver.
Jak sniffed and picked up his lefid-spear. They made us in their image, he thought, but I wish they’d given us their wings too. I’d fly above the clouds and find him again. Make him tell everyone I
A dark shape flickered by, impossibly large, impossibly fast. The surface of the lake exploded and the first wave took Jak from his rock with a cold slap. Through the spray, he saw stones fly from the
beach as the object surged from the water. Several trees fell. Jak heard them splintering. Then silence.
During the early hours of shallow the watch discovered the Duke of White Rapture burning on the catwalk, his hot ashes drifting downward to join the skulls and dust.
His murderer leered at me through the crumbling outer walls of the Hive. Bloated and red, it straddled the terminator between dark earth and bruise-blue sky.
Things weren’t fixed out here anymore unless decay threatened the Hive’s core. It made people uneasy. Most haunted places do. Angry victims of the Bug had died cursing as they beat their bloody fists against the seals, begging to be allowed inside the inner dome.
My magistrates, fifteen strong, were with me. Led by Wren, they fanned out at his silent signal and began to secure the scene of the crime. Wren spoke to the guards who had made the discovery.
Guardsmen also called to the scene stood sullen watch, their radios occasionally crackling with police chatter. They did nothing. They knew better than to interfere in attendant politics.
Knoris’ magistrates, attired in the tan and gold of their patron, grudgingly gave ground to my people who, like Wren and myself, bore the Halloween livery of our Duke– haystack yellows, jack-o-lantern oranges, and fire-ember reds upon night-pure jet.
Galia and Knoris were engaged in hushed conversation, appropriately choreographed, with their backs to my approach. My fellow high attendants grew silent. They turned to greet me hidden behind masks of sheet-white kabuki and smiles that held all the sincerity of jackals baring their teeth.
“Ah, there you are Finch,” Knoris said. He was tall and wide, once with muscle but now creeping to fat. His head was shaved and he wore his duke’s mark across his forehead in black tattoo. “Good shallow to you. We wondered what was keeping you.”
“It would appear an error was made in the instructions the watch were given about notifying me first,” I said.
“Well you really can’t blame the watch,” Knoris said, smiling. “For over a century I’ve been the one they reported to in such distasteful matters. It’s only natural they would have some difficulty in adapting to the new arrangement.”
“I don’t blame the watch. It’s easy to understand their forgetfulness,” I said. “As I’m sure your attendants have also forgotten that they now no longer bear the magisterial authority to disturb this crime scene.”
Knoris darkened beneath his pale paint. I saw the minute constriction of his pupils, watched his body give off 12 of the 27 signs of increased distress we had been trained to notice and conceal in temple. I felt a mild disgust that he had allowed himself to become so easy to read.
As shaven acolytes in the Temple of the Servant, we were always instructed to treat attendants of the Beloved with all the respect and politeness we were to extend to the Beloved themselves but with none of the deference.
“I’m sure that too was merely an omission in orders.” I made the slightest bow of my head and showed them my own jackal smile.
“Of course, Finch,” Galia said, her voice like oiled leather. “We merely came to provide our patrons with any relevant information they should know about Duke Kolvino’s demise.”
Her pale hand opened like a bloom to reveal the silver signet ring with a large eye of yellowed ivory. It was Kolvino’s.
“Knoris’ second found it among the ashes of the Duke’s remains,” she said.
The anger poured into me but I remained cool stone and inscrutable smoke; no outward sign betrayed my core. I remembered my lessons.
Was it real? Had they planted it and, if so, why? I didn’t have time for this nonsense. It was time for quick answers and Knoris had already showed me the easiest way to get them.
“How fortuitous you found it,” I said. “But I must inquire why the high attendants of the Duchess of the Iridium Mask and the Duke of Hounds were out in the fringes at such hours? My people tell me you beat the watchmen here.”
I let the accusation hang in the air, a crippled thing waiting to be made whole by their reaction. Sadly, Knoris took the bait. He couldn’t help himself.
“You go too far, Finch! You dare to include the names of our Patrons in this scandalous affair? Be assured this slight will be redressed!”
“And be sure,” I interjected, “your interference in this inquiry, which I must assume was undertaken with your patrons’ knowledge, shall be reported to my Duke and will figure prominently in his own report to the Queen’s Court.”
Knoris was hot under his sizeable collar, but mention of Her Dark Majesty doused his fire quickly. He had raised the stakes by threatening to enter the Beloved into this; I merely upped the ante.
Galia, the smarter of the two, quickly stepped in to try to minimize the damage done.
“Finch, Knoris misspoke himself. No one questions your Duke’s authority in this inquiry, or your service in this matter. What say you, we provide you with the signet and any other knowledge our people have gathered and we retire and leave you to your work? It shall be as if we were never here, yes?”
“Of course.” I plucked the signet from Galia’s palm and showed them my back as I walked away. “Good shallow.”
They retreated from the walkway quickly, with their entourage in tow.
Wren, who had been watching the exchange with some amusement, approached. He signaled the watchmen to step in to finish the search of the walkway and to cover the ashes and blackened skeleton of Duke Kolvino.
“Sir,” he asked, “do you believe they had anything to do with this?”
“If they had been involved, they would not have been here when we arrived.”
Galia and Knoris’ patrons were allies of Kolvino in the High Court and I doubted this was the result of a split within their alliance. They were here without their Patrons’ knowledge, searching for scraps of information to curry favor. “No, Knoris’ reaction proved to my satisfaction that they had no hand in the Duke’s demise,” I said. “I think they were here to see just how far they could push me.”
Wren snorted. “Not very far, it would seem. I have sent for Duke Kolvino’s High Attendant, Perin,” Wren said as he watched the last of Knoris’ agents disappear down the iron stairs.
“Perin? He’s Kolvino’s consort as well?”
“Yes sir, I believe he is,” Wren said as he jotted a note in his small notebook. “They were quite the item some time back, as I recall. Quite the scandal, I hear. Some kind of gift or title the Duke wanted to bestow upon Perin that was forbidden for a high attendant, or some such,” he said and waited for me to fill in the remainder of the Court gossip to which he had not been privy.
I smiled at his long, bland face, a face I had come to count on over the last 30 years.
“You should spend less time culling scraps of idle chatter from old ladies in the Basement Quarter. It was not that scandalous a matter. It was rare for one of them to think so highly of one of us to risk royal censure just to bestow a gift on a consort.”
“Must have been true love,” Wren said flatly.
I shrugged and began the work at hand.
I sincerely hope to have whetted your appetites, and I would like to encourage you to join us over on Kickstarter to help us unlock some stretch goals and be part of an amazing book!
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