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Gwenmere
The House Of Mere - Book One
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-220-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 223 Pages
Published: February 2015

From inside the flap

For a short but violent time monsters plagued the Western Lands, targeting and killing those in power. No one survived the attacks, and when the monsters left they took their secrets with them. Gwenmere’s mother was one of their victims. And perhaps that is why she rejects the ostentatious lifestyle of her caste: the luxurious living accommodations, the outrageously exquisite clothes, the sumptuous and delectable meals, the flamboyant parties. Well, in truth she does enjoy the meals quite a bit.

But the monsters have returned. Gwenmere finally has the chance to discover what they are and why they killed her mother. The only problem is… how does she go about uncovering the truth? As she plots and schemes, so does her father. The intimidating new Captain of the Royal Guard watches her every move. And it seems she will be sent to the distant lands of her spineless fiancé far in advance of their wretched wedding day. Is it all for her own good, to keep her safe—or is she being deceived?

Gwenmere (Excerpt)


Prologue

An Ominous Beginning

Onhabar's teeth! Gwenmere, you nearly frightened the quake out of me. Where the rot did you come from? Oh, of course, the concealed passage. And where might the door to this concealed passage be? The paneling alongside the fireplace? I don't... ah, yes, there it is. What a very clever discovery. I was unaware one of those bloody things ran to my chamber. A few bricks and some mortar can fix that. Hmmm? Oh, I was merely articulating some renovation plans, dear child. Now, what can I do for you?

Gwenmere, Gwen... Gwenmere! That's better. Now, if you want me to comprehend any of the words spewing from your mouth, you will have to slow down and enunciate. And please stop saying "and" every other word, it doesn't... well, yes, I know I just said "and", but-

Are you done? Are you quite sure? I can sit here and listen to you ramble on about the finer points of grammar, but I doubt we will be any closer to discovering why you are here bothering me. Now, in a clear voice, enlighten me on what has happened, concisely and in a logical sequence, to upset you so deeply.

Ah. They did, did they? Well... your courage is admirable. Not every girl of six rounds would ask such a question. What? When did you turn eight? Yes, I do realize it must have been two rounds ago. Are you quite sure you are eight? I was? A cake the size of an iron maiden with purple and orange sugared flowers? Ah... yes. Your stunning description has jogged my memory and I now recall you throwing up after attempting to eat your own weight in cake with purple and orange sugared flowers. I will concede you are of eight rounds if you will agree to never speak of the day you turned eight rounds again. In addition, please ask Tutor Celain what the word decorum means.

What? Already gone? Tutor Bennitas? Does this new tutor happen to have any experience in dealing with pigheaded children? She does? Pig-bodied as well? Ah... yes... sounds like a highly experienced educator, doesn't she? I am confident she will teach you... something. How to spit and scratch at the same time, perhaps? Now, onto the matter at hand...

Gwenmere, you did not gnaw through your mother to escape her womb, as your brother and sister claim. Yes, you were correct to be suspicious. And you should continue to be wary. Listen with a hound's ear to each word that exits Solamere and Haro's devious maws, as most Royals take great delight in the misery of others. Oh really? And I suppose throwing all your brother's clothing into the fountain last quarter was a horrible experience for you? You were forced? Ah, yes, now I understand. You are quite right, that is completely different. The proper term for your actions is revenge. The Royal predisposition for vengeance is unrivaled. Well done, my child.

As for your question about the true nature of your mother's death, I did witness the moment Rekule released your mother back into the quake, but can only postulate the origin of her afflictions. Is that satisfactory with you? Very well then.

Now... ah, take a seat, take a seat. Gwenmere, did you suffer some injury to your person or is that jam on your neck? Tastes like cloudberries, does it? Did this occur at breakfast or did you happen to wallow in preserves at some other point during the day? No dear, I'm not being condescending, I'm being sarcastic. There's a difference.

Comfy? Wonderful. You were still in your mother's womb when she received her mortal wounds. Accompanied by your grandmother Normere, Matriarch of the House of Mere, Silmere of Gore, your mother, was traveling home after a pregnancy-induced retreat in the Tattered Mountains. It was not a weak constitution that forced Silmere to seek sanctuary in the alpine backwoods, it was her attitude. Through her first two pregnancies, Sil blossomed. She was radiant. Each morning, as soon as the sun popped over the horizon, she awoke with a smile on her lips and a song on her tongue. I still don't know how she managed her tenacious warbling with a mouthful of tea. Her boundless energy sustained her throughout the day and she was a whirlwind of activity. She craved interaction and actively sought others out, enchanting and delighting all who crossed her path. And as she expanded, her appetite and predilections flourished as well. She persuaded Kreg to experiment with recipes and took great delight in judging each and every new concoction. Kreg would not be the master chef he is today without her encouragement and support.

With you, she became-to avoid equivocation-an insufferable fishwife. She started her day by throwing up and ended it with a bit of dry heaving. She drove myself, the servants, the guards, the kitchen staff, and everyone else living in or around the castle insane with her unending demands, her unpredictable mood swings, and her ability to take any comment and cunningly twist it into... humh. Sensing everyone was at the end of their rope, Normere convinced your mother to retire to our retreat in the mountains and relax. What? No, no! Your grandmother did not kill your mother. How could such a morose notion pop into a child's mind?

Now where was I? Oh, yes. Silmere did not last long in the mountains. I was told by the staff that she complained the air was too cold, it made her nose run. And the light was too bright, it gave her headaches. And the atmosphere was too thin, she couldn't breathe. Apparently, on her abbreviated retreat she enjoyed one thing and one thing only: acquiring the delicate blown-glass trinkets created by local craftsmen. The artisans failed to take pleasure in this activity, however, as Silmere was a consummate haggler and more often than not they left the manor with a scowl and a much lighter wallet than they had intended. With promises of warmer, thicker air, your grandmother convinced Silmere to return home before the usually patient and docile mountain denizens threw her off the breathtakingly scenic cliffs of Gamec. No, they didn't kill her either. I was trying to express how your mother... nevermind.

Silmere and Nor's exodus took place on a chilly Frost morning, their carriage crammed with as many gaudy baubles as your mother could swindle from the naive village folk. Humh. The coach retreated without event into the distance. No one knows for certain what occurred during the hours between their departure and the discovery shortly after sunrise the next day.

That morning, Farmer Dodd was walking a fatted cow to market. I never met the Citizen, of course, but Grager tells me Dodd repeated his story five times and his recount of the events never changed. Midway through his journey, Farmer Dodd came upon a broken glass ornament in the middle of the road. He had never seen anything like it before, the colors iridescent and the glass paper thin. Confronted with something new, Dodd decided to play it safe and forgo further investigation. He made a mental note of the strange event and continued on his bucolic way. After a bend in the road, Dodd spied more broken glass. Unlike the other glass, which was quarantined to the highway, this trailed off into a small stand of trees. From his vantage point, the farmer could barely make out the side of an overturned carriage and wondered if there had been an accident. Throwing caution to the wind, Dodd tied Bessie to the nearest trunk and followed the crushed souvenirs into the copse, stepping over the driving reins and traces still attached to the savaged corpses of two darlope, and taking care not to tread on any of the fine garments strewn about the sylvan ground. Your mother's body lay at the end of Dodd's daring trek.

For his courageous deeds, I granted Farmer Dodd two extra plots of land, which remain untouched to this day. Dodd recalls nothing after walking into the forest and spying Silmere's feet peeking out from behind an old oak. A thousand strides down the road from the carnage, a Citizen called Old Man Sombey reported opening the door to a slack-faced Dodd, Silmere hanging limp and bloodied in his arms. Even confronted with this information, the farmer claims to harbor no memory of the events after finding your mother, preferring an idyllic existence where pregnant women were not mutilated and left for dead. I cannot say I blame him for that.

Yes, Gwenmere, it does appear that the Seethers killed your mother. Eventually. The bodies of the driver, three guards, two servants, and your grandmother were never found. This was consistent with all other Seether incidents. In the wake of the attacks the only remains were prostrate carriages, dead darlope, and scorched earth if Tremblers were part of the entourage. When... no, Seethers targeted only Royals, not Citizens. And before you ask, no one knows what the Seethers are because there have been no witnesses. The attacks occurred over a two quarter period and only one individual was ever left behind: your mother.

Silmere never regained consciousness, holding on to her life by a tenuous thread for the trace before your birth. The Red Hands were surprised she survived the brutal lacerations to her face and neck and could do nothing to help her. When her breathing began to slow, your mother was cut one last time and you were born.

Now, have I answered your question? Splendid. In a few rounds, when you have questions about kissing and babies and such, do not hesitate to go ask someone else. Now, please proceed directly to Bennitas and have her remove that jam before a colony of bone ants find you. Ah... yes, Gwenmere. Bone ants can remove the jam. Along with everything else.