Name: Fortune’s Scion
necessarily bad and true love has a way of shining through.
missed an opportunity to remind him of his deficiencies, Ned grows up believing
his mage skills are seriously lacking. Conscripted at an early age, he fears
it’s a back-handed way to ensure he sustains an honorable death in battle.
lies and lack of knowledge about his mage powers—which are really quite
different from wizard magic—Ned finds ways to keep going. His first mission
away from the wizards teaches him he’s stronger and more resourceful than he
thought. Against stiff odds, he learns different isn’t necessarily bad and true
love has a way of shining through.
a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk
where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning
yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that
would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to
the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during
long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the
backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her
solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as
a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her
life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down
at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it
wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between
writing that novel and its sequel.
hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its
way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of
Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.
lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year.
A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear
which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband.
They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren
and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
crouched amidst the remains of what had been downtown Sacramento, using a
convenient half-decimated building as cover. The rest of his unit hid scattered
— or so he assumed — in close proximity. A low whistling noise made his heart
beat like a mad thing. Enemy magic. Maintaining his crouch, he spun, eyes
searching the late afternoon gloom for clues. Not quite sure what tipped him
off, he leapt out of the way. A concrete block exploded, showering him with
Way too close,” he mumbled, wondering for the thousandth time how he, a
human mage, ever became mixed up with the wizards’ war. Sweat trickled down his
forehead. His leather headband caught some of it, but a few drops fell into his
eyes. They stung. He shook his head to disperse the salty liquid. The
beginnings of a headache throbbed behind one temple. “Landarik,” he
whispered into his mouthpiece, “Where are you?”“Right
behind you.” A voice dripped sarcasm into Ned’s ear.He
whipped around. Landarik stood so close, Ned’s braids slapped against the
wizard’s helmet. “I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Ned said through
clenched teeth. “I hate it when you sneak up on me. ‘Specially when it
could have been one of them. You’re
lucky I didn’t blast you.”“You
called me. What do you want?” Speaking through the slit in his bronzed
helmet, Landarik looked like a robot. Only his blond braids, with debris
tangled in them, ruined the automaton image. He must have noticed Ned’s stare
because Landarik gathered his ratty braids and tossed them over his shoulders.“I’m
beat. Request permission to return to the caves.”“Mage
or no,” Landarik grunted, “you humans are more work than you’re
worth. I release you. Be back no later than first light.” Whistling
sounded again. Without apparent thought or effort, Landarik raised a hand. A
bolt of power flew from his fingertips and vaporized half a small building a
hundred yards away.“How
can you know so… precisely?” Ned sputtered.The
wizard tipped the visor of his helmet up. Extraordinary blue eyes and the
sharp-boned features characteristic of his race twisted in irritation.
“I’ve told you and told you,” he lectured in a patronizing voice that
grated on Ned’s nerves, “hold your inner parts still, human. If you could
manage yourself better, you would be able to hear where the enemy is
hiding.” He snorted. “Sometimes I find it difficult to fathom how you
are still alive.”