If you’ve arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE.
Erik and Josie head for home
Benton and the black horse trotted eagerly side by side toward home and supper.
“So I’m assuming you were responsible for my birthday gift going missing?” Erik asked Lady Josie. He still had not seen what she carried, but the clues had all led him to believe she had his gift.
“Yes,” admitted Josie. “It wasn’t perfect, and it has to be perfect.”
“What is it?” Erik asked.
“It’s a surprise,” said Josie primly.
Erik could see he wasn’t going to get any more information out of her. Lady Josie was maddening that way – if she decided she wasn’t telling something well then by golly she wasn’t telling!
His stomach grumbled, reminding him that he was starving. He bent over and took a small nibble of the cake he carried. It was apple-y and delicious, full of cinnamon and topped with a creamy brown sugar-caramel icing. YUM!
“I saw that,” said Josie.
Erik wiped frosting off his nose and chin and licked his fingers and didn’t care.
Just then, Benton’s steps quickened and when Erik squinted into the deepening twilight he could just see the lights of the castle. They were nearly home!
They slowed the horses to a walk so that they could catch their breath and not be too hot when they reached the stable. A few minutes later they crossed the drawbridge. The horses turned without prompting toward the barn, knowing the way. A groom took Lady Josie’s black horse, and Erik removed Benton’s saddle and bridle, gave him a quick rub-down, and fed him a measure of grain and a flake of summer-sweet hay. “Good boy,” he said, giving his pony a fond pat. Then he headed for the castle with what was left of his cake.
Lady Josie was waiting for him just inside the castle. “Come with me,” she said, leading him toward the Great Hall.
Erik followed her through the huge doors, thinking about some hearty stew and crusty bread to go with his cake when suddenly…
The Great Hall was decked out with garlands of flowers and streamers and candles, and everyone from the castle was there! The lords and ladies, most of the guards, the jester, the cook, the knights, even the king! All dressed in their festive best and waiting for him, wishing him Happy Birthday!
Erik didn’t know what to say. He’d never had a birthday like this.
“Come forward, young Erik,” said the king, “and tell us of your adventures this day!”
So Erik stood before the king and all the assembled dwellers of the castle and told of the woodcutter, and following the black horse, of the Brownie at the bridge, the tinker at the ford, Berwyn, and Greta, the ogre, the Seer, and everything else, and how eventually he had faced Cuddles the dragon and returned safe and sound after all of it with the Lady Josie.
“Well done,” said the king at the end of Erik’s tale. “I believe it is time for your present.”
Lady Josie and Sir Lionel stepped forward, holding the box from the long-ago morning between them. “Happy Birthday, Erik,” said Josie.
Erik opened the box.
And this time, when he looked inside there lay a shining silver sword, its edges honed to perfection, a star-shapped ruby glinting richly from its exquisitely wrought handle.
“Oh…!” Erik breathed, scarcely daring to touch it.
It was the king who reached forward and lifted the sword from it’s resting place. “Kneel,” he said solemnly.
Unbelieving, Erik sank to his knees before the king and bowed his head. The king laid the gleaming sword first on Erik’s right shoulder then on his left. “I dub thee knight,” he said. “Rise, Sir Erik!”
And Erik stood. A knight. At last, a real knight!
The king handed him his sword and Erik took it, feeling the weight of it, and how the hilt fit his hand perfectly.
The Great Hall erupted with applause and cheering.
“And now,” said Erik, who was determined in this venture, “let’s have some CAKE!!!”
And so they did.
And forever after, Erik proclaimed that to be his Best Birthday Ever!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERIK! And for your actual present which is not a sword or a knighthood but is hopefully still fun, please Email Me!!! 🙂
To start the adventure again and choose different options, go back to the beginning! HERE
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, my friends, somehow or other it’s the last week of August. When I think of everything I’ve done this summer – life in general, writing, blogging, getting a new washing machine (yes! it’s true! and so pretty :)), applying my black thumb to the butterfly bushes (apparently when they say full sun they mean, like, ALL THE TIME!) and a few Secret Projects (details coming possibly soon… or possibly later… depending how long it takes to get things finished up :)) all stuck in around the edges of 21 college visits in about 14 states and DC – it makes sense that it’s nearly September. But on the other hand, the start of the new school year always seems to catch me by surprise…. probably what some would chalk up to not being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree 🙂
In case anyone is feeling a little down about summer drawing to a close, and because thanks to Short & Sweets our writing gears are still finely tuned :), and because we really SHOULD finish Summer Shorts up with a bang, and because we haven’t had a contest since MAY!, I thought this would be a good time for some fun – so let’s have a contest! (You all know how much I love contests! :))
SUMMER SEND-OFF CONTEST!!!
The contest will be for a children’s story of 250 words or less based on the picture above and in which somebody somewhere in your story says, in dialogue, “Did/do you see that?” (you may substitute any of the other senses – “Did/do you hear/feel/taste/smell that?”) and somebody somewhere in your story says, “Goodbye!” (you are allowed to substitute “Farewell!”, “Au revoir!”, “Sayonara!”, “Ciao!”, or “So long!”)
Entries must be posted on your blog (or, if you don’t have a blog but would still like to enter, in the comment section of the official contest post on my blog which will be up on Friday August 31 and stay up through Tuesday September 4) between Friday August 31 and Tuesday September 4 at 11:59 PM EDT. (I’m giving you an extra day to post, because I realize it’s Labor Day weekend!)
Once your post is up you must add your post-specific link to the linky list that will be up (or, if you don’t have a blog, copy and paste your entry into the comment section as mentioned above.) Special note: I know some people have been having trouble commenting on my blog since disqus updated. If anyone has trouble, please email your entry or your link or whatever you need to me at susanna [at] susannahill [dot] com and I will make sure your link gets linked or your comment gets posted!!!
Finalists – we’ll say 3, but you know me… it’s more likely to be around 6 🙂 – will be chosen by me and my assistant judge and posted for you all to vote on on Monday September 10. I’m guessing we may not get tons of entries, what with it being Labor Day weekend and all (although I’m hoping I’m giving people enough time to plan ahead that they might still be able to pull it off! :)), so we’ll probably only have one winner. But if perchance we get lots – more than 20 say 🙂 – we’ll expand out to 1st , 2nd and 3rd places. Prize choices will be:
1. A PB manuscript critique by yours truly 🙂
2. Your choice of 2 picture books.
3. Your choice of 2 paperback middle grade books.
4. Your choice of 1 paperback YA book.
5. Your choice of 1 writing craft book.
and whoever wins will get their first choice of those options, whoever’s second will get second choice, etc…. Hopefully there’s something in there that will appeal to every writer! 🙂
Now, onto the other business at hand. I wanted to share a little Short & Sweet update, now that the Summer session is officially ending. Summer Short & Sweets was 8 weeks of fun and games, and to qualify for a prize, you had to provide at least one entry for every week. As of this writing, we had a total of 51 people enter at least one of the weeks. The week with the most entries was Week 1, with 36, and the week with the fewest entries was Week 7 with 17. (Actually, Week 8 is about even with Week 7, but I’m pretty sure a few more entries will be trickling in over the next couple days.) By my reckoning, 12 people are currently qualified for a prize (Delores, Vivian, Romelle, Heather, Robyn, Laura, Karen, Jennifer, Erik, Cathy, Penny, and Tracy), 2 people are only one entry away (Renee and Jarm), and 1 person is only 2 entries away (Pam). I realize that a few of you have been having trouble posting comments lately, so feel free to email anything to me that you couldn’t post and I’ll copy and paste it for you in the appropriate spot. Looks like I’m going to have to part ways with disqus…. but that’s another story 🙂 If you think you posted an entry a week for 8 weeks and should be qualified and don’t see your name here, please let me know!!! The last day you can post entries on any of the weeks is August 31.
All in all, I think it was a success, and I really hope everyone had fun and got some good ideas out of it!
Short & Sweets will be continuing on alternate Mondays starting September 17 (because I forgot last week when I said September 10 that we need a day to vote on finalists for the Summer Send-Off Contest!) and we’ll see how that goes 🙂
Now fire up those imaginations and get started on those contest stories! Good luck and have fun!!!