One of my plans for early 2021 is to release an updated version of the first Realmgard story Fryte’s Gold.
In anticipation of that, I’ve been working on a newer, better cover for the book.
Also in anticipation of the re-release of Fryte’s Gold, here’s a re-lease of a chapter as a free preview.
A Tale of Realmgard
Kat Darkstone would like to tell you about her sister.
For the first five glorious years of her life, Kat had the three storeys and modestly-sized yard of Darkstone Manor to herself, along with the undivided love and attention of her parents. But for the past ten years, ever since the arrival of a certain Dunstana Felicity Darkstone, Kat has had to share both Darkstone Manor and her parents.
It hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, it’s just that of all the kid sisters in Realmgard, Dunstana is the … well, Kat isn’t really sure how to describe what exactly Dunstana is.
Dunstana’s definitely the most something of all the little sisters out there.
Something indescribable, occasionally infuriating, but always exciting and equally excitable. Being Dunstana Darkstone’s big sister keeps Kat’s life undoubtedly interesting. And puts her training as a fully-licensed adventurer to good use. Of course, Kat does love her little sister, but Dunstana is not a normal little girl. Normal little girls don’t pretend to be reasonably successful pirates. But, then, strictly speaking, neither does Dunstana.
She is a reasonably successful pirate.
Kat blames that on their father, Admiral Dorian Darkstone, once a widely-feared, but now happily-retired pirate, and current purveyor of artisanal tea-cosies.
The Darkstones have a long family history of piracy. Though she had been regaled nearly every hour of every day as a little girl with her father’s stories of his own daring exploits and those of countless generations of ancestors, Kat has never had much interest in carrying on the family tradition. She gets seasick whenever she steps onto a boat, she can’t stand the taste of fish, and she only likes getting wet when she’s in the bath.
She’s quite content with her chosen career of freelance adventurer, part-time sales associate at her grandparents’ store, and professional layabout.
As far as Kat can tell, it’s because of her own lack of interest in the family trade that the Admiral has always tried especially hard to turn Dunstana pirate and ensure that the Darkstone family tradition keeps going strong. He’s been largely successful.
He decorated baby Dunstana’s room with images of ships and waves and treasure chests and hung a mobile of famous pirate flags over her crib. The first book Dunstana ever read by herself was the Big Book of Pirates. She’s barely ever put it down since. She still gazes up in wide-eyed wonder at the Admiral as he tells his pirate stories, even though Kat is sure she has heard them all somewhere between thirty and thirty thousand times.
Kat wonders if the Admiral knew ahead of time that Dunstana would be the one he’d love best. It’s the only explanation she can think of for why she got named after the Admiral’s own beloved grandfather, the legendary Dunstan Darkstone, while Kat got saddled with the absolutely monstrous Hortensia. She takes some solace in the fact that it’s her middle name, which allows it to be her deepest, darkest secret instead of common knowledge.
Kat doesn’t think she could survive as a Hortensia.
For seven years, little Dunstana was just a girl with a vivid imagination and an inordinate interest in pirates. But then came the day when she won herself a pirate ship.
Each year, to celebrate Porthaven’s Foundation Day, the office of the Prince of Porthaven gives away all sorts of fabulous prizes through the time-tested method of pulling names from a hat. Three years ago, the Porthaven Shipworks donated a sailing ship as one of the prizes.
When the time came for the draw for the ship, it was Dunstana’s name that came out of the hat. Clearly, somebody up there wants Dunstana to be a pirate just as much as the little pirate herself does. Thankfully, the Powers gave the world at least enough sense that Dunstana is only allowed to take her ship sailing under the Admiral’s direct supervision.
Like any pirate worth her salt, Dunstana lives for adventure. As the little sister of someone with an Adventuring Licence, that also means she lives for dragging Kat along with her. And, like any other good pirate, Dunstana thrives on danger and laughs in the face of death. And, like any other good big sister, Kat’s job to keep Dunstana as far away from the face of death as humanly possible. Dunstana laughs at the face of death. Kat tends to punch it.
Dunstana lives for adventure because of the prospect of fortune and glory promised by those adventures, always on the lookout for whatever treasure she can find. Of course, the treasure isn’t her main concern. It’s the ability to use that treasure to buy things she wants. That usually means Princess Moonflower dolls.
In a mere three years, with only a little help from her family, Dunstana has found enough treasure and displayed enough business acumen to cover every available surface of her room with Princess Moonflowers. There’s more pink on Dunstana’s shelves than Kat would have thought possible. It would be impressive if it weren’t so terrifying.
Dunstana may be a mere ten years old, but she’s an endless fountain of energy and determination. Plus, she has — in Kat’s humble opinion, at least — the very best big sister in all of Realmgard watching her back on her adventures.