Karen: Beth Caudill pens fantasy stories with intriguing worlds readers enjoy visiting time and time again. Her flash fiction tale, The Bridge Guardian, will transport you to a land where Gorgons and trolls reside. Will the guardian allow the next innocent soul to cross the bridge?
***Giveaway: Beth is giveaway an Ebook copy of Healer's Fate in winner's choice of pdf, epub, or mobi format. Read on to find out how you can add this treat to your goody bag!
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* Previously published in the Creatures of the Night anthology
The Bridge Guardian by Beth Caudill
The high-pitched tinkle of warning bells caused Raeburn to look up from his book. Of course someone would come in the middle of the last fight scene. A look at the sandglass told him it was almost midnight. A bit early for the scavengers to be returning home. He hefted his body out of the cozy chair, said a few magic words, and waited for the entrance to enlarge. Nice thing about troll magic, he could enlarge any rock to fit the shape he desired.
A cool wind carried the stink of dark magic to him as he climbed from his cave. After ninety-nine years, he hated the sight of Graystone Castle—the home of the exiled Gorgons. With a sigh, he reached up, grabbed the bridge supports, and flipped onto the top of the bridge. Feet apart, stance set, he was ready to face anyone who wished to cross to the island he guarded.
A new moon left the countryside covered in inky blackness. Raeburn blinked as his eyes adjusted to the flickering torchlight provided by the approaching couple. The female appeared young, pretty in the awkward way of girls on the cusp of womanhood. A bit older, the male seemed good-looking in an average kind of way.
“What business do you have on the Isle of Stone?”
The girl shrank back as the torches illuminated his seven-foot, green, bumpy, leathery frame. The young man draped his arm around the girl but otherwise had no reaction to his presence.
“I…I want to find my m…mother,” the girl said stepping forward and twisting out of the man’s hold.
Raeburn snorted and sniffed taking in her scent. She smelled of innocence, old magic, and the sea. Nothing to do with the island he guarded. “What makes you think you will find her here?”
She pointed to the man behind her. “He claims an enchantress saw my mother in a vision and has been compelled to find me ever since.”
Raeburn gazed at the man. He had no scent and there was a mischievous glint in his eyes and the hint of a smirk on his lips. No doubt the man had been sent but not to help the girl find her mother. The man was a chameleon, an errand boy for the Gorgons.
He sighed, tired of the games. Of being a watchdog for idealists who couldn’t see the manipulation of the very dreams they sought. He’d been young and overconfident once himself. That’s what had him guarding this particular crossing. He’d let wine and a beautiful woman trap him into a 100-year contract instead of the one-year he’d thought he committed to. There were six months left to that contract and he intended to deny the Gorgons their prizes every day until he was free.
“I cannot allow you to pass.” His heart broke at denying her, but if she crossed to the island, she wouldn’t come back alive. “I suggest you try looking in Willowwood by the Sea. You may find your mother’s family there.” It was the oldest settlement on Avison and her scent reminded him of it.
The man scowled but before he could question the ruling, Raeburn waved his club. “Go! Do not come back.”
The girl scrambled away, her sobs echoing back in the dark night.
“Well, that was unnecessary,” the chameleon said, his features morphing into a smooth, unremarkable visage. His skin darkened to a muddy brown tint.
Raeburn shrugged. “She didn’t belong on the island. The Gorgons only need one innocent a year to feed on. By my count, they’ve each had three. Too many. Next time use a different bridge. I won’t be allowing any more innocents to pass.”
“Hey, I just fetch who I’m told. You’re the one that has to deal with the GateKeeper.” The slimy lizard edged past him across the bridge to the island.
“Yeah, I just love dealing with her.” Anyone with snakes for hair was just a bit too creepy, even for him. At least the magic contract protected him from turning to stone. He just needed to make sure when the contract expired he got far away from here. The sun and Gorgons were the two things that killed a troll by turning them to stone.
He took another sniff of the wind to make sure no one else approached. Assured he was once again alone in the night, he climbed down and crawled into his cave. He could finish his book and then go over the classified ads in the Enchanted Crossroads newspaper. Surely someone needed a bridge guardian with all the kings and knights at war.
***Giveaway: To win an Ebook copy of Healer's Fate in winner's choice of pdf, epub, or mobi format, all you need to do is leave a comment and your email.
About the Book:
Corliss Rumdone hides behind her status as Healer to avoid the normal wolf pack hierarchical challenges. A forced mating changes the course of her life. Instead of Raymond, the beta wolf selected for her, she mates with Liam‚Äîher best friend and heir to the Alpha pair.
Liam whisks them away to a shifter retreat so they can allow the mating bond to settle in private. But interference from those seeking power and two terminal children arouse past hurts and challenge their new relationship. Even their home is not the haven it should be as Liam must watch Corliss fight for the right to stay his mate. For one healer, death becomes a weapon to balance life.
You can purchase Healer's Fate at:
Barnes and Noble
Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and two sons. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. Catch her online most days except when NCIS and Once Upon a Time air.
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