Racism in a medieval fantasy world… An excerpt from THE DARK TIDES

Today is “Juneteenth” all across this nation, a day to honor the day President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed those still held in slavery in 1865. In honor of this day, I wanted to share something with you. I wrote about this very subject in my second novel, The Dark Tides. When I created the world of Forever Avalon, the concept was based around the Bermuda Triangle and where the ships and aircraft that disappeared ended up. In my world, they traveled through a rift in the magical barrier and found themselves on the island of Avalon. So, with that premise, it was possible that a ship carrying captured slaves from Africa ended up on Avalon.

So now I had to mix a world of medieval magic with people, ripped from their homes, and now in a world unknown to them. To me, they would be quite cautious of people and set themselves apart from the rest of Avalon. So now, the stage was set as the Gil-Gamesh, Bryan MoonDrake, a sailor from the modern world who lived through the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, and racial integration, enters into this new land. He hopes to bridge the gap of fear and mistrust with what he’s learned and experienced in the outside world.

Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides as I use the teachings of Dr. King to make a difference my own medieval, fantasy world.

# # #

As T’Ronga led the Gil-Gamesh through the streets of Togo, Bryan was amazed by the people here. They were very simple folk, dressed in animal furs and cloth woven with colorful designs. The one thing Bryan noticed was how strong and muscular everyone looked, including the women and children. It was as if the entire nation were bred to be warriors.

“I meant to ask this before T’Ronga, but you and others speak English better than I expected. Why is that?”

“One of the first great Chiefs of Togo, Elewa, made our people learn the white man’s language. It is best to know one’s enemy through the language they speak.”

“You really think of us as your enemy? The people of Avalon I mean?” T’Ronga stopped and stared down the Gil-Gamesh.

“It was the white man that captured my ancestors, took them from their homes, their family, and their people and brought them to the white man’s world. Why shouldn’t we consider the people of Avalon our enemies?”

“Avalon is made up of many different races, different cultures and we respect that which makes each of them unique. I’m not your enemy. I hope there comes a day when you will consider me a friend.”

T’Ronga said nothing as he turned and continued on their way. The Togo people stared at the Gil-Gamesh with curiosity and surprise. Most of them had never seen a white man walking freely through the streets without being bound in chains nor allowed to carry weapons. It was completely unheard of on Togo.

As word spread across the city of the arrival of the Gil-Gamesh, people began to line the streets as the crowds fell in behind T’Ronga and his warriors, following them to the Gathering Mount. In the center of Togo was what appeared to be a mound of earth, approximately 500 feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall. In reality, it was a dome of stone, wood, thatch and tar with large crystals embedded in the structure to reflect the light inside. A large opening at the top of the dome circulated air inside through the four entrances at the base, each facing North, South, East and West.

As T’Ronga brought the Gil-Gamesh inside the Gathering Mount, Bryan was again amazed as to how a medieval society could build such an impressive structure with no modern tools or equipment. Stone arches reached up from the floor to hold up the ceiling, connected by wooden beams. There were no chairs or seats for anyone to sit in. At the back of the dome sat a raised dais, made solely of human skulls, with a throne of bones at the top. A shadowy figure sat there, staring out into the darkness. It was a gruesome sight, something made to invoke fear and dominance over people. Bryan wondered if he’d bitten off more than he could chew.

From the throne, the shadowy figure stepped down. He was a heavy-set man but very muscular, adorned with silver and ivory jewelry. He wore a cloak of various animal furs sewn together, clasped around his neck by an ornate broach of gold and rubies. He wore a leather bodice while the rest of his body was painted like the others. Atop his head was a headdress made from the feathers of a variety of birds with a small skull with precious gems in the sockets centered. He held a staff adorned with metal rings, one representing each of the chiefs of Togo, and a human skull at the top of the staff. It was said that the skull was that of the captain of the slave ship that brought them to Avalon.

“That is B’Rrak, Great Chieftain of Togo,” T’Ronga told Bryan. Chief B’Rrak walked down and stood in front of the as he glanced back to see T’Ronga and his men with the Gil-Gamesh. T’Ronga gave an order to the warriors around the Gil-Gamesh and they closed in tight. “You will wait here,” he ordered Bryan as he walked over to Chief B’Rrak.

Bryan stood in the Gathering Mount, awaiting his fate at the hands of these outcasts of Avalon. He watched closely as T’Ronga spoke with Chief B’Rrak; their conversation heated and quite vocal at times. T’Ronga seemed to plead for the Gil-Gamesh to speak. Bryan hoped he found an ally in this Togo warrior. Finally, Chief B’Rrak relented and returned to his throne.

T’Ronga signaled his men to bring the Gil-Gamesh forward. The Togo warriors nudged Bryan toward the throne, still surrounded as he approached the Skull Throne. Chief B’Rrak waved them off as they stepped back behind Bryan. The throngs of people who lined the streets started to file into the Gathering Mount. Their curiosity had brought them inside to see what Chief B’Rrak will do with the stranger.

“Gil-Gamesh, you stand in the presence of B’Rrak, Great Chieftain of Togo,” T’Ronga proclaimed. “Step forward and be heard.”

Bryan bowed to the Chieftain. “I am honored Chief B’Rrak. I am Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. I humbled to be able to speak with you.”

“Do not thank me Gil-Gamesh, thank T’Ronga,” B’Rrak denoted. “The only reason you are still alive is because he says you are a man of honor. You asked for an opportunity to speak, so speak!”

Bryan collected his thoughts, carefully putting together his words so as not to offend B’Rrak or the people of Togo. “I have been overwhelmed by everything I have seen since I arrived on Avalon and Togo is no exception. You have truly built a wonderful life for yourself here.

“I will not pretend to understand the hardships you or your ancestors went through when they arrived on Avalon. I have read stories about the slave trade at that time in our history. It was barbaric and unforgiving; but while you have lived here with the hate and contempt for the white man for hundreds of years, slavery of your people ended in the real world. You see, I am not from Avalon, I am an Outlander.

“So much has changed since your ancestors survived their journey and arrived on the shores of Togo. Africans now live, work and worship side-by-side with the white man. In fact, the barriers between the different races are practically non-existent. It happened in the real world and it can happen here. As the Gil-Gamesh, I can help bridge the gap between Avalon and Togo and build a new and lasting relationship.”

“Togo has prospered without the help of you, Gil-Gamesh, or anyone in Avalon,” B’Rrak shouted from atop his throne. “We will not bow down and pay tribute to the white king.” The large gathering of people cheered loudly, encouraged by the Chief’s words.

“And no one is asking you to Chief B’Rrak,” Bryan continued. “All I have heard since my arrival on Avalon is praise and respect for Togo. You have the fiercest warriors equal to any knight and powerful shaman on par with the great wizards on Avalon. We would love the opportunity to learn more from each other. The potential is unlimited.

“I didn’t have to come to Togo as part of my Grand Tour of Avalon, but I wanted too. I wanted to reach out to you, to all of you. The time to open relations between Avalon and Togo is now. All I ask is that you give us a chance.”

“A chance? A chance for what? To stab us in the back and return my people to a life of slavery? That’s all the white man has ever wanted!” B’Rrak condemned.

“With all due respect Great Chief, you’re wrong!” Bryan interrupted. A hush fell over the audience. No one had ever spoken to the Great Chieftain before. “This is the time for us to prove you wrong about the people of Avalon, to show you that we are not like the people who enslaved your ancestors.

“A wise man once spoke of a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. He said, ‘Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.’ His name was Martin Luther King, a son of African slaves, who believed that all people of all races could live together in peace. It was a dream he was willing to die for. Don’t let that dream die here too. You cannot live in hate when there is an opportunity for peace.”

T’Ronga was moved by the Gil-Gamesh’s words, as were some of the people in the audience. Never before had they heard anything like this from anyone from Avalon. “Your words touch many here Gil-Gamesh and though your heart may be true, there are many on Avalon who are not as willing as you,” Chief B’Rrak said. “Maybe someday there can be peace with Avalon, but I do not think this is such a time.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you Great Chief. May I have your permission to leave Togo in peace?” Bryan said as he bowed to Chief B’Rak.

Chief B’Rrak sat in silence then motioned to T’Ronga. “You may go Gil-Gamesh. May the Gods smile upon you through the rest of your journey,” B’Rrak blessed as T’Ronga led Bryan out. The crowd parted as they moved through, allowing them to leave the Gathering Mount. Some of the people bowed their heads in respect to the Gil-Gamesh, something never done before on Togo. Chief B’Rrak watched his people as he considered what the Gil-Gamesh said.

# # #

I try my best not to get political in my books or on my own social media. I think that people who enjoy fantasy come from all walks of life, not just one ideology. This, however, is a time when we all have to think about the status quo and how we can talk about it and, hopefully, change it for the future. I don’t know if my books can make a difference, but I hope it does bring a voice of clarity in these dark and tumultuous times.

# # #


Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Meet Abdel Ben Faust, the half-demon mercenary swordsman of Avalon

47621e03971b118a9570e1362f12b9a8Creating a proper villain is an integral part of any fantasy story. Villains like this can be complicated, conflicted, and disturbed with a sordid past that can explain their tragic upbringing. Most of the time, though, they are just pure evil.

That is the story of Abdel Ben Faust, a new character and antagonist in The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. Faust was based on a character I once played in Dungeons and Dragons. This character was my one and only perfectly rolled 18/00 strength. For those of you who don’t know what that is, that is the highest natural strength attribute for a D&D character. I never rolled one before, and this was a perfect roll. So I created a lawful evil, half-orc fighter who loved swords. He was proficient with every type of sword, and kept the swords of enemies he killed. He always claimed the most powerful swords for himself and kept them locked away in a vault as trophies.

I used this character as the basis for Abdel Ben Faust. Now, I don’t have Orcs in Avalon, so I made him a half-demon. I also gave him a cursed broad sword, Deathsong, which only he can wield. This weapon burned with an unnatural flame that only he could stand. It was the perfect weapon for a mercenary swordsman. Here is an excerpt from The Outlander War where we are introduced to Abdel Ben Faust.


# # #

On Avalon, South Essex was known as a city of artisans. The finest craftsman could be found in South Essex of all mediums—wood, metalwork or canvas—as well as exceptional tailors, tinkers and tradesmen. It was a town full of the finest shops you could ever find, outside of New Camelot

In South Essex, the Black Swan was one of the most reputable taverns, with the best food, wine and spirits in the city. But even the best places can attract unsavoury characters.

Inside, the tavern was brightly lit with the glow of candlelight and roaring fires. The rooms were decorated in the finest silk drapes and tapestries of red and black. The décor lived up to the name, with as swans could be seen represented in various shapes and sizes from statues to wall sconces.

While the rest of the tavern was crowded, as usual, the back of the room was empty, save for one guest. The owner arranged this at the request of the guest, but also, so the other patrons wouldn’t be subjected to his company.

He sat alone with his back to the wall, gorging himself on rare roasted beef and bottles of 500-year-old Aldinian Whiskey. He appreciated spirits, especially rare ones, and he always came to the Black Swan whenever he was in town because they carried the best.

His name was Abdel Ben Faust, a mercenary by trade and considered by most as the finest swordsman on Avalon. His skin was reddish-brown. His long, black hair was pulled back tightly in a ponytail, exposing his pointed ears and long face. A scar ran from his left temple, across his nose and down his right cheek—a reminder of being cut from his mother’s womb. His moustache was long and thin, hanging down below his chin, which was where his true heritage showed through.

From there grew horns that resembled a goatee, twisted like braided hair. Abdel Ben Faust was a half-demon, the son of a witch and an Incubus, conceived during a blood moon in a magical ritual. His mother died while giving birth to him. He had to be cut from her womb by the same clerics that killed his demon father.

Faust was raised a slave, tormented regularly for his demonic form, but in his torment, grew strength and resolve. He moulded himself from slave to mercenary warrior, becoming a master swordsman available to the highest bidder.

He had avoided conflict with the Gil-Gamesh since his return to Avalon thanks to an innate ability from his demonic lineage. Faust could conjure ‘demon holes’ to move from place-to-place, unseen. Demon holes were doorways of black smoke, fire and brimstone. Only binding him in iron prevented him from using his power.

Faust came to South Essex to indulge his tastes while the Gil-Gamesh and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table moved to the coast to protect Avalon from the Outlanders. He knew there would be no trouble, coming to the Black Swan and drinking his fill, before moving on to his next job.

The curtain to the back room was pulled aside as young Finnick Devereaux, son of the Earl of South Essex, stepped in. The young man was nearly 50, young for a noble of Avalon. His dirty, blonde hair, dashing good looks and fine clothes endeared his upright lineage. He pulled a handkerchief from his inside pocket and waved it in front of his face, as he tried to dispel the stench coming from Faust.

“He is here, milord, just as I said,” Finnick said to someone behind the curtain. A robed, hooded figure stepped through, walking right past the young noble.

“Good. Leave us, Finnick, and make sure we are not disturbed,” the hooded figure said.

“Are you sure you want to do this, milord?” Finnick asked. “The last man who interrupted Abdel Ben Faust while he was eating had his head chopped off and tossed into a stew pot.”

“Not worry, I’ve come bearing gifts,” said the stranger, as he pulled a bottle from out of robe pocket. Finnick bowed and left the room, closing the drapes behind him.

The stranger walked up to Abdel’s table but stopped when the half-demon drew his sword and chugged down the last of the whiskey, resting his blade across the table. It was a broadsword, nearly four feet long, with a jagged edge etched along the top edge of the blade. Wisps of smoke curled from the sword, as if it were burning, and the runes etched deep into the blade glowed softly. This was Deathsong, a cursed blade that only Abdel Ben Faust could wield, and he did so very well.

“I’d think twice before sitting down,” Faust warned, as he finished his drink. The stranger just placed the bottle down in front of him. Faust dropped his own bottle to examine the gift.

“Can it be?” he exclaimed. “Panaque, distilled from the vines of the dryads of Meliai, over 4,000 years old!” He popped the cork and smelled the delicate bouquet of the fine spirit. He looked up at the stranger and nodded his head to the chair in front of him. The hooded figure sat down as Faust sheathed his sword and poured himself a drink.

“So, to what do I owe this honour and whom do I have to kill to keep this bottle?” he asked, as he took a sip of the delicious liquid.

“The bottle is yours, Abdel Ben Faust, a gift for listening to what I have to say,” he began. “But first, I have a question for you. Last year, when Morgana le Fay was resurrected, why were you not part of her forces at the Battle of Idlehorn Mountain? Surely a swordsman of your calibre could have turned the tide in her favour.”

Faust was insulted by the stranger’s accusation but let it pass. “Her cause was lost from the moment she began,” he scoffed, as he took another sip. The hooded man seemed irritated by his answer but just sat back and listened.

“Go on.”

“She let the Gil-Gamesh live,” he said. “You don’t give someone like the Gil-Gamesh any glimmer of hope. She should have killed him when she had the chance. That’s always been the problem with despots like Kraven Darkholm and Morgana le Fay. They want that power, but they want to gloat about it in the process. That’s what got them killed.

“I don’t side with losing causes,” he concluded, as he downed the last of his drink. “I’ve answered your question, now you answer mine. What do you want?”

“I want you to lead an army to take Avalon out of the grips of the Pendragons and the Gil-Gamesh,” the stranger said without skipping a beat.

Faust just laughed under his breath. “Well, if you wait long enough, the damn Outlanders with all their technological weapons will do it for you.”

“Oh, I doubt that,” the stranger impugned. “If the Gil-Gamesh is as resourceful as you say, then all I should do is wait until he restores Avalon as it was before, hidden from the outside world. Then, we tear Avalon apart, taking the throne and killing him in the process.”

Faust was not convinced by the hooded stranger’s plan. He laughed again, as he poured himself another drink. “Well, in the first place, you’d need an army at least 10,000 strong,” Faust calculated. “Hell, the goblins don’t even have half that number anymore, and the trolls are all whipped lackeys for that shield maiden now. So where is this army you speak of?”

The stranger reached into his robe and pulled out a ruby amulet, still glowing from the strong magic he had imbued within it. Faust barely glanced at it, “What’s that supposed to be?” he asked.

“The key to controlling the most powerful army in creation, the Wraith Legion of Purgatory!” Abdel Ben Faust was stunned, aghast at the stranger’s claim. The Wraith Legion was an army of fallen knights, trapped in purgatory because of some dishonour or shame that fell upon them in life. They served a penance, keeping the demons of the underworld in check until they earned their place in Heaven.

Faust rolled his eyes. “No one can control the Wraith Legion. It’s impossible.”

“You can with this,” the stranger said, dangling the amulet. “With this amulet, they will follow your every command. You will be their General, Abdel Ben Faust, and you will conquer Avalon for me. In return, I will give you the Twin Swords of the Dragon Knight as payment, for your collection.”

It was well known that Abdel Ben Faust had, over time, collected the weapon of every knight, warrior and monster he bested in battle. He kept his collection hidden from prying eyes. He liked to savour every victory by looking at the weapons of his fallen enemies hanging on the walls of his vault. The swords of the Gil-Gamesh would be the centrepiece of his collection.

The stranger had intrigued Faust with his offerings but wasn’t convinced completely just yet. He needed to know something more. “Who are you?” the half-demon asked.

The hooded figure stood up and peeled back his hood. Faust recognised the face almost immediately. “You? You’ve been dead for centuries, millennia even! It can’t be!”

The stranger pulled the hood over his head and sat back down. “I assure you, it is me, Abdel Ben Faust. I have many machinations at work, but I need a general to lead my army. You are the one man I can entrust with this task because I know that you will only accept my offer if you believe it can succeed.

“So, will you join me?” he asked. Faust sat there, stroking his chin in contemplation. After a few moments, he raised his glass.

“When do we get started?”

# # #


Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Cover reveal… THE OUTLANDER WAR, Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series

After a year of waiting, I’m finally able to reveal the cover for THE OUTLANDER WAR: Book 3 of the FOREVER AVALON series. This book completes the first trilogy of this series, after almost 20 years of writing these stories.

I actually started writing Forever Avalon during my last deployment in the Navy in 2001. It took me a few years to finish writing and editing it, and then a few more to get it published in 2009. The Dark Tides was published five years later in 2014 and now, before 2019 comes to a close, I hope to see The Outlander War join them.

My thanks to Austin Macauley for taking my vision for the cover and creating it to such an “Nth” degree. A battle between modern military forces and the Knights of Avalon can clearly be seen; and the floating dragon island of Emmyr takes the stage, front and center, on the cover. It’s a great cover.

This has been a journey complete for me in getting The Outlander War published; but believe me, I’m not done yet. There is another trilogy already in the works. I’ve written the fourth novel in the series and I’ve started writing the fifth. There are still more stories for me to tell about the island of Avalon.

Below is the synopsis for the story. I hope this first tease entices you to want to read all my novels. Thanks for your support!


It is an island frozen in time and space. For more than 3,000 years, the island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world. It was a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, Elves, Dwarves and Dragons. The island was only accessible through a rift in the Bermuda Triangle, where mariners and aviators disappeared throughout history. No one believed Avalon was anything but a myth.

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, Avalon reappeared suddenly, causing disruptions on both fronts. The U.S. Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. On Avalon, they fear Outlanders (as they call them) would intrude on their home; and caught in the middle of it all is Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and Champion of the magical realm.

The Gil-Gamesh was no stranger to the outside world. He was once a U.S. Navy sailor, lost at sea in a freak storm, who found his way to Avalon. After his family followed him to the island, they decided to stay and make this their home. Now they are torn between loyalty to their new home and compassion for their old one.

The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, causing mechanical weapons to falter and shut down. As military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war, ancient evil stirs from within, one that has been seeking to sit on the throne of New Camelot for three millennia.

Can the forces of Avalon hold off the military might of the outside world? Can the barrier be restored in time before the conflict grows out of hand?



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I cry when I write, okay? It doesn’t make me any less of a man, but it does make me a better writer!

Like most authors, I consider the characters in my novels like they are part of my family. I live, laugh, and love them with every word I write. And yes, when I have to kill someone off to move the story along, I cry. It has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I write, edit, and even when I read that part of my story again. The emotion is still with me, even after all that time.

I don’t cry over the villains. I mean, they’re villains… They need to die. But sometimes, the villains win and that’s when it gets hard. These wonderful characters you cultivate and grow through you words also have to die by your hand. It’s not easy.

I know what you’re thinking… “They’re not real! You’re such a wuss! Why do you care about imaginary people?” Well, they are real to me. I breathed life into those characters with every word typed or written down. I’m not going to compare it to motherhood, or giving birth, because that’s an insult to women. It’s not like that. I just see it as a parent-child relationship between a writer and its characters.

But when you think about it, it’s all about the story. You don’t just kill someone or hurt someone for no reason. It has to go with the flow of the story and make sense. Think about the “Red Wedding” in the Game of Thrones series. That was a horrific death scene for a number of characters, but when you think about it, it moved the story along. It gave a purpose, resolve and motivation to characters like Arya and others. As bad as it was, as unexpected as it was, it was necessary.

Crying when I write makes me feel my humanity. It bridges that fine line of fantasy and reality, of what’s real and imaginary as it relates to my characters, but I’ve dealt with that all my life. I played Role Playing Games (RPGs) my whole life. Characters could easily live, or die, in these games. When you’ve played a character for so long, you form an emotional connection. It’s especially strong when said character dies because of a stupid mistake or bad decision.

Here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES to make my point. I can’t read this page, even now, without a tear welling up in my eye. I guess I am an old softie at heart.

FYI to anyone reading this excerpt who hasn’t read my novel yet… Yes, I named the Shield Maidens after Disney Princesses. I have two daughters, it was inevitable.


Sarafina and her Shield Maidens fought their way down through the keep toward the dungeon. Lord Baldrid was happy to loan her an airship and company of Elves to rescue the Gil-Gamesh. Even Usage was with them, showing the quickest route to the dungeon, bashing a few goblin
heads along the way.

Merida led the way, clearing a path with her bow. Sarafina and Aurora followed close behind, slashing at the ones still standing with their swords. Usage directed them where to go while Ariel and Snow covered them from behind, keeping the Brood at bay with their pole arms. The Elves, led by Eonis, scattered the remaining Brood and goblins outside the keep from their airship Aerdrie Faenya. The airship rained down explosive volleys from their cannons, sending goblins flying off the keep’s defenses. Archers brought down the ones still standing in an
attempt to make the keep safe for landing.

Within minutes, Sarafina and her Shield Maidens made their way to the dungeon. They found the Gil-Gamesh hanging by the chains while Caleb Guoyle lay prone on the ground. Sarafina rushed to Bryan, checking if he’s still alive.

“Ariel, get him down!” Sarafina ordered as she and Merida held him up. Ariel pointed her trident at the locks around his wrists.

“Excido Portas!” she chanted as magical energy sparks from the tips of her weapon, opening the locks. Bryan’s body went limp as they eased him down to the ground.

“This one’s dead,” Snow exclaimed after checking on Caleb Guoyle, “though I doubt the Gil-Gamesh was able to do it.”

“It doesn’t matter who killed him. The Gil-Gamesh is dying,” Sarafina said as she checked his wounds. “We need to get him to the healers quickly.”

Bryan began to stir at the sound of Sarafina’s voice. He opened his eyes and saw her hovering over him as he smiled. “Hey you …” he moaned. “I knew you’d be the one to find me.”

“Of course I would,” Sarafina said, tears welling in his eyes. “You wouldn’t stop looking for me; I wasn’t going to stop until I found you.” Bryan smiled again as he closed his eyes and fell unconscious. “Father!” Sarafina screamed, trying to wake him up. “Father! Don’t leave me… Father!”

“Come on,” Aurora said motioning for Merida to help. “We have to get him back to the ship now.” Sarafina didn’t move, she just stared at the Gil-Gamesh.

“Sarafina! We’ve got to go now!” Merida shouted at her. Sarafina nodded her head, then stepped back as the two Shield Maidens lifted the Gil-Gamesh and started moving up the stairs. Snow and Ariel followed close behind.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Dark Tides is heading to Germany!

This past week, I received a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to have my second novel, THE DARK TIDES, displayed and marketed at the 2018 Frankfurt International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 10-14. This is an incredible honor for an independent author like me.

The Frankfurt International Book Fair is a major cultural event: around 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries, more than 275,000 visitors, over 4,000 events, around 10,000 journalists and around 2,400 bloggers make Frankfurter Buchmesse the world’s largest trade fair for publishing every year – and Frankfurt, the metropolis on the Main, the centre of the international media world.

Just thinking about the thousands of people who will get a glimpse of my book gives me hope that someone like me has a chance to make it as an author. I’ve been writing stories since high school–the early eighties, yes I’m old–but I didn’t become published until 2009.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure many independent authors have, with the cost of artwork, editing, publishing and marketing. This is a huge event, but it’s also a risk that one book like mine could stand out among millions.

I want to thank LitFire Publishing for seeking me out and believing in my novel for this event. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be heading to Germany.

For those who may be unfamiliar with my novel, here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES, explaining a bit of the background of the story in a conversation between Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh, and Bryan Drake, the new Gil-Gamesh.


Bryan’s dream were jumbled, filled with pain. He watched Donegal fall into an endless black void. His deathly screams caused Bryan pain. He also saw others floating in the darkness; a variety of men, women and creatures he’d never seen before. They writhed in anguish, as if their souls were being tortured by the darkness within sword.

Then his dream shifted; he saw a knight standing on a hillside surrounded by an eerie mist. The early morning sun began to rise in the distance. The man wore the two swords Bryan had used earlier around his waist. He turned around as Bryan walked up to him. He was an older man, dressed in plate mail armor, with brown hair and a beard, flecked with gray. He smiled at Bryan, putting him at ease.

“Greetings Bryan Drake, we have been expecting you,” he proclaimed.

Bryan was confused. “We?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

Appearing out of the mist were other knights like him, each wearing a different type of armor, clothing and hairstyles, as if he were looking at a timeline of history. The only thing similar about them was that they all looked very much alike, as if they were related in some way.

“Where am I?”

“I am Sir Percival Peredyr, first Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. We …” he exclaimed, motioning to the others, “… have been the protectors of sacred Avalon for thousands of years.”

“Gil-Gamesh? What is that?”

Percival placed his hand on Bryan’s shoulder and walked him through the ranks of knights. “It is a name I heard on my quest for the Holy Grail for good King Arthur. It was the name of a great hero in ancient Persia. It is the name I took as the champion of Avalon.”

“Avalon? You mean the mythical island from the King Arthur legend?” Bryan questioned him. Percival grinned with a devilish smirk, something he does from time-to-time.

“Yes, Bryan Drake, this is Avalon. But my story doesn’t begin here. It begins nearly 3,000 years ago. I was witness to the death of King Arthur at the hands of his son Mordred at the battle of Camlann. I retrieved his sword Excalibur and was about to return it to the Lady of the Lake when Merlin stopped me.”

“Merlin the Magician? The wizard who advised King Arthur?” Bryan asked. “He’s real too?”

“The one and the same … Merlin told me that with King Arthur’s death, the age of magic was coming to an end. He thought the only way to preserve the magic and all magical beings was to bring them here to Avalon.” Percival explained how Merlin combined his magic with that of Excalibur and opened up a mystic portal. Anyone touched by magic was whisked away to Avalon.

“Touched by magic? You mean like the dragon I saw earlier and the Dwarf too?” Bryan implied.

Percival nodded his head. “Dragons and Dwarves, unicorns and Elves, goblins and trolls … All things created by magic, as well as humans imbued with magic themselves. A new age had begun, but at a great cost.

“Excalibur was shattered, the Knights of the Round Table were decimated and the forces of evil began to gather themselves together. They wanted to wipe us from the face of Avalon forever. To aid in the coming battle, the Elves of Alfheimer and the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls took the broken pieces and forged them into the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon … Twilight and Dusk.”

Percival drew the swords and showed them to Bryan. “Twilight is the light of Avalon, a shining blade of pure starlight that can cut through anything. Dusk is the darkness within Avalon, a soul reaper that feeds on the souls of its victims to power the ungodly blade. I took up these swords, but not as a king, a champion for justice. I was the first Gil-Gamesh and that honor has been passed on from generation to generation.”

“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with me?”

“Because, Bryan Drake, you are of my blood … my kin,” Percival told him, “And now you are the new Gil-Gamesh of Avalon.

“You wielded Twilight and Dusk in your battle with Donegal. The swords represent the balance between order and chaos, a balance needed to maintain the peace in our troubled lands. Only a true heir of Percival can wield the swords and become the Gil-Gamesh.”

“But why me and why now? I have a family that needs me. I need to get back to them,” he declared.

“Fate has brought you to Avalon, Bryan Drake” Percival chimed in. “It has always been your destiny to be the Gil-Gamesh. It is up to you to accept your destiny and determine the future of Avalon.”

Percival held out the swords to Bryan, as if to pass on the legacy of the Gil-Gamesh to him. Bryan seemed unsure to take them and Percival sensed his apprehension. “Avalon has been without a Gil-Gamesh for more than 500 years Bryan. The people need you.”

His words rang true—duty, honor and commitment—the same things that made Bryan join the Navy all those years ago. Somehow, someway, he was brought here for a reason. He didn’t like it but it was his only chance to live. Perhaps someday he could find a way home, but now he had to accept his destiny.

Bryan took the swords from Percival. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but for now, I will do what is right.” The dream began to fade and the last thing Bryan saw before he floated back into darkness was the proud look on Percival’s face.




Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Courage is a key quality found in the true hero, whether real or fantasy

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

13Courage… I think the first time we’re exposed to it is watching The Wizard of Oz as a child. The Cowardly Lion showed us both sides of having courage and conquering your fears. While meant to be funny (especially as played by Bert Lahar) it was also quite educational, especially for a child. As we get older, courage takes a different form, like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or watching and To Hell and Back and learning about Audie Murphy. Even today, the heroics of people like Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, or the heroes of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting inspire writers like me to exemplify what it means to have the courage to stand up to evil.

Courage has been demonstrated throughout history in stories, myths and legends:  The 300 Spartans who held back the Persian Army, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the march to Selma, or Perseus killing Medusa. These stories inspire all of us to have the courage within ourselves.

However, there are trends to write about heroes that confuse courage with “having the balls” to fight, and that doesn’t work for me. There is a difference between them. A person high on PCP would “have the balls” to confront the police, head-on. Some would call that courage, others might consider it insanity (hand raised high). To some, climbing a mountain in the face of insurmountable odds would call that courageous, while others might consider it stupid. There are so many sides of what to consider as courage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
― Mark Twain

Who can say what truly lies inside someone, whether its courage or cowardice. Some people put on the face of a hero, but when confronted, that courage disappears. Others seem timid to most people, yet they are the ones to step up in times of crisis. With the 24 hour news cycle in today’s society, we can see both sides of this on a daily basis. From the heroes who rush into the fire to save lives, to the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines who charge into battle without question, these are the examples I want to emulate in my stories.

That’s why the main protagonist in the Forever Avalon series, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, was a U.S. Navy Sailor. You see, I come from a military family and served in the Navy myself. I not only met and worked with many brave men and women, but I also learned the personal history of many of them.

The best example I can give is Chief Gerald Farrier. On July 29, 1967, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was off the coast of Vietnam, readying to launch airstrikes against targets in North Vietnam. Before the first airplane catapulted off the flight deck, an electronic circuit misfired, launching a Zuni rocket off the wing of an F-4B Phantom into other aircraft. Full of fuel and loaded with ordnance, this caused a chain reaction that ruptured fuel tanks and detonated ordnance.

In all the confusion, Chief Farrier ran out on the flight deck with a PkP bottle (a fire suppressant similar to a fire extinguisher but used for fuel fires). Ignoring his own safety, he rushed in to push back the flames so the trapped pilots could escape. He rescued as many as he could before another bomb exploded, killing him and most of the flight deck firefighting team. His courage had an impact on me, as a young Sailor, that I used him as a model for the protagonist in my own novel. Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides that shows how the courage of one man can save many.

* * *

Inside Flight Deck Control, Bryan rushed into a flurry of activity. McGregory was on the phone with the “Air Boss”—the officer in charge of air operations on Enterprise—while others peered out of the small windows to get a peek at what’s happening on deck.

“Clear away from the window,” Bryan shouted to the sailors. “If you don’t have any business in control, get out now!”

The sailor’s groaned and filed out as the Handler hung up the phone. His mustache twitched—a sign Bryan came to learn as trouble. “Chief, the Boss doesn’t want that aircraft damaging any others,” he said to Bryan. “It’s already clipped another helo and a Hawkeye. Think you can secure it?”

Bryan looked at the Handler, tense and nervous. He’s always relied on Bryan for the tough jobs, and he knew it had to be done. “Yes sir. Just give me Georgie, Bartman and a couple blue shirts and we’ll lock it down.”

The Handler picked up the sound-powered phone while Bryan grabbed a flight deck vest and helmet off a hook on the wall. He’d need the safety gear out on the flight deck, especially in this weather. George, Petty Officer Mike Bartman and two blue shirts—sailors who chain the aircraft down to the deck—arrived in Flight Deck Control. Bryan finished buckling his helmet as he relayed orders to his crew.

“Georgie, you drive the tractor. I want that bird hooked up and holding steady. Bartman, you guide him into the helo. Once that’s done, you two lock it down tight. Ready?”

They all chimed in at the same time. “Yes Chief!” Bryan opened the hatch to the flight deck, the wind and rain blowing them down almost immediately. Once everyone is outside, Bryan moved his crew toward the swinging helicopter.

Its rear wheel remained chained to the flight deck but its front wheels broke free, causing the aircraft to swing like a pendulum. Georgie and Bartman go around the island and start up a tractor while the two blue shirts stayed close to Bryan. The ship was listing heavily to right as huge waves crashed over the flight deck. The wind and rain added to the problem, making it hard for them to get good footing.

Complicating things even more was the multiple aircraft around them, strained against their chains by the storm. Georgie backed the tractor on the helo’s rear wheel and, with Bartman’s help, locked the helo down. Once steady, Bartman signaled a thumbs’ up to Bryan to send the two blue shirts in. Heavy chains hung on their shoulders, chocks in their hands, Bryan ordered the two sailors to get to work. He watched as the chocks were placed under the wheels and the chains are hooked on to tie the aircraft down.

Bryan was pleased with his team. He had a great group of sailors working for him. The blue shirts gave the thumbs up and they all started to celebrate, fists pumping and cheering, until without warning, things went from bad to worse.

The ship hit a big swell that caused the carrier to drop fast and list heavy to starboard. Bryan can only watch as Bartman slipped and started to tumble backwards toward the edge of the flight deck.

He acted quickly to save his shipmate; without regard for his own life or safety, he dove after Bartman. The momentum of the listing deck flung him through the air. He reached Batman and knocked him into the catwalk, saving his life, but his life saving gesture propelled him over the side of the ship into the water.

He hit the water hard and momentarily blacked out. His safety gear kicked in, though, and his vest auto-inflated. He rose to the surface and regained consciousness. The waves, wind and rain battered him around. He saw the ship in the distance. The sound of “Man Overboard” can be heard, even with the storm.

The ship started to turn around, but to Bryan it seemed to be getting further and further away from him, as if he was being pulled away from the carrier. The waves continued to beat him about, practically drowning him in its fury.

Bryan became disoriented and fear started to grip him … The fear of dying. He thought about Stephanie and the kids. He remembered birthdays, anniversaries and holidays as images flooded his mind.

Suddenly, he saw a glow in the sky. Bryan thought it was the light from a rescue helicopter, but the ship couldn’t have launched one in this weather. “Is this it? Is this the end?” he thought as the light grew brighter and brighter until it enveloped him. Bryan closed his eyes and accepted his fate.

# # #

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

My next project … “Corsair and the Sky Pirates” Steampunk adventure

As I work with my editor to get The Outlander War ready for publication, I am looking ahead to my next project. To be honest, I am planning to continue the story of the Gil-Gamesh and the MoonDrake family on Avalon with another trilogy, but I wanted to step away for a second. I wanted to try a science fiction adventure, specifically a STEAMPUNK adventure.

I have always been fascinated by the steampunk genre, from the Victorian sensibilities to the wild, gear-driven, steam-powered inventions. It reminds me so much of Jules Verne and his fantastic novels, which is why I decided to write this story. So, without any further adieu, I present to you the prologue for my next story, “The Adventures of Corsair and the Sky Pirates: Uriel’s Flame” on Inkitt.

* * *

DesertShadows_Myke_Amend_desktop-Imagine that Jules Verne, the prophet of science fiction, and Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor, had met. What would the world be like? Steam-powered machines like you’ve never seen before, bringing about a new age of science and industry, and bringing the world one step closer to war. In this age of modern mechanical marvels, the wealthy have gotten richer off the backs of workers, toiling in the factories all around the globe to produce these wondrous inventions. The only person standing up for the people is the infamous Corsair and his Sky Pirates. In his dirigible, the Arkaroo, Corsair searches the globe for the source of power for these incredible machines… Uriel’s Flame. Meteor fragments from a passing comet provides unlimited power for these steam-powered, modern marvels. Whomever controls Uriel’s Flame controls the main source of power in the world, leading countries to the brink of war. The Edison/Roentgen/Fulton, or ERF, Corporation is searching far and wide for the meteors, giving them complete control of this valuable mineral. It’s up to Corsair and his Sky Pirates to stop them and prevent a world war from impacting the world.

* * *

1887 in the city of Amiens, France. The port city in northern France was not the bustling seaport it appeared to be, but rather a quiet, little community divided by the Somme River. It’s home to one of the largest cathedrals in France and one of the world’s greatest authors.

At a small café in Quartier St.-Leu, Jules Verne sipped quietly on his coffee as he sifted through the newspaper. Verne enjoyed the quiet moments like this. It helped to clear his mind and arrange his thoughts for the next adventure.

You wouldn’t know by looking at this quiet, little man that he was such a renowned author. His white hair and beard match the wrinkles on his face. He rubbed his left leg, hoping to relieve the pain. It still ached where his nephew, Gaston, shot him. The poor boy, locked away in an asylum, with little to no explanation as to why he did it.

The pain was a constant reminder to Verne… a reminder of his own mortality, and it scared him. He left behind a legacy in his stories of science and adventure, but was it enough, he wondered? Do these ‘flights of fancy’ mean anything beyond the pages on which it was written?

Pardon moi, monsieur,” came a voice, startling Verne. “Are you Jules Verne?”

He looked up from his newspaper to see a tall, lanky young man standing next to him. He bowed slightly, a bowler hat rested in his hand over his heart. Through his burly mustache and thick accent, Verne knew the young man had to be from Eastern Europe. His dark clothes reminded Verne of an undertaker. He hoped that was not the case.

Oui, may I help you?” Verne asked.

“I am Nikola Tesla,” he said. “I am a great admirer of your work, Monsieur Verne. I apologize for interrupting you, but your housekeeper said I might find you here. I was hoping I could have a moment of your time.”

Verne thought for a moment before nodding and motioning for him to sit down. Tesla was overjoyed as he sat in the chair across from Verne. Before he could say anything, the waiter came over to the two men.

Voulez-vous un café, monsieur?” he asked Tesla.

Oui, merci?” he replied. “Et un verre d’eau s’il vous plait.” Tesla waited for the waiter to depart before he said anything, but Verne spoke first.

“From your accent, I can assume you are from Eastern Europe, Monsieur Tesla. Austria or Hungary, am I correct?” Verne inquired.

“Serbia, Monsieur Verne, but it is part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so you are quite correct.”

“And what brings you to Amiens? Surely you did not come here just to get my autograph?” Verne quipped.

Non, Monsieur…” Tesla stated, but stopped while the waiter brought over his coffee and set it down in front of him before leaving. “I work for the Continental Edison Company. I was sent here to work on your cities electrical system. I thought I might get the chance to speak with you before I return to Paris.”

“Edison, well, I must thank you for the electric lights,” Verne commended. “It is better than writing by candlelight at three in the morning.”

Tesla smiled and nodded in appreciation of the compliment. “Thank you, Monsieur Verne. Perhaps I can inspire you in another way,” Tesla remarked as he pulled out a folded piece of paper from his coat and handed it to Verne.

“What is this?” he asked. “I thought you weren’t looking my autograph.”

“No, no … this is something that your words inspired me to create.”

Verne’s curiosity was peaked as he unfolded the paper. When he saw what was inside, his eyes grew as large as hen’s eggs. It was an engine, one so complicated in design that Verne could not understand the intricacies of what he was looking at. Around the engine was a crude drawing of a ship, a submersible ship that resembled his description of the Nautilus from his novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Incroyable,” Verne whispered, amazed at what he saw. “What is it?”

“A steam-powered oscillating electric generator,” Tesla explained. “It can generate 20 times the electrical power of anything today, maybe more. This could power a ship, like your Nautilus, don’t you think?”

“Indeed … indeed it could, but it would take a ton of coal just to generate the amount of steam you would need for such an engine, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes, but not with this,” Tesla said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small test tube. Inside were a few small blue stones that glowed slightly. He handed it to Verne, who stared at them in awe.

“What on Earth are they?” Verne asked.

“They’re from a meteor that fell near my home in Serbia,” Tesla began to explain, until the waiter stepped up and brought him his coffee and a glass of water, as he requested. He waited until the waiter departed to continue his explanation. “It generates a constant heat that never seems to die out. Here, observe…”

Tesla took the cork off the test tube vial and poured out one small meteorite into the glass of water. The blue rock began to bubble and burn, raising the temperature of the water quite rapidly. Soon, the water was boiling as steam arose from the glass. Tesla took a spoon and pulled out the tiny rock before dropping it on the table.

“You can pick it up, Monsieur, it won’t burn you.”

Verne reached down and tentatively touched it with his fingertips, until he realized how cool the rock was and he picked it up and held it in his hand. “Monsieur Tesla, this is quite, well… Remarquable!

“It burns on and on, without any reduction in size or mass,” Tesla boasted proudly. “It could change the world of science and industry as we know it.”

“Is there any more of this meteor?” Verne asked. “Where does it come from?”

“I have a colleague at the Royal Astrological Society who discovered a comet he named Uriel, after the archangel,” Tesla explained. “Fragments from Uriel are impacting the Earth from the Urals to the Alps and across North America as the comet passes by. We are working on a method to detect the fragments of meteorite. So far, I’ve collected nearly 500 kilograms.”

“You are an incredibly talented young man, Monsieur Tesla,” Verne said as he handed him the meteor, dropping it in the tube. Verne then folded the paper and handed it back. “But, what does this have to do with an old man like me? I am a writer, not a scientist.”

“Your stories have inspired me to pursue new avenues of science,” Tesla said. “I would like to collaborate with you on some ideas that I have. I have the scientific knowledge, you have an incredible imagination. Perhaps, together, we can bring about a new age of science and technology.”

“Won’t that interfere with your work at the Edison Company?” Verne asked.

“I have already put in my notice to leave my position with Edison,” Tesla explained. “I am planning to go to the United States to pursue my own dreams, but I wanted to work with you before I go.

“Besides, I don’t want my ideas to come under an Edison patent instead of my own. Something like this,” he said, shaking his design at Verne, “could change the course of human history. It just needs a little imagination to make it come true. You, Monsieur Verne, are a master of imagination. Imagine what we could accomplish together?”

Verne sat there, intrigued by the young man’s offer. For the first time, he saw how his novels can influence the future of mankind. “Very well, Monsieur Tesla. Where do we begin?”

# # #

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

There nothing more magical than a Christmas Wedding – An excerpt from The Dark Tides

winter-wedding-winter-wonderland-ceremony-decor-preston-baileyThere’s nothing more magical than a Christmas wedding. It’s that time of year that makes something as special as a wedding even more spectacular, and nothing ruins a wedding more than an evil sorceress hellbent on total domination. That is the setting for The Dark Tides: Book Two of the Forever Avalon series.

You can really find inspiration in the strangest of places. Christmas is very special to my family, especially my wife. She listens to Christmas music year-round, watches Christmas movies all the time and shops for anything and everything to make the house sparkle even more at the holidays. Being overwhelmed like this, it seemed natural to me, as a writer, to use Christmas as a foil in my novel.

You have that perfect setting of this pristine wedding, like a blanket of new fallen snow, and you throw in a deadly plot to destroy Avalon and resurrect the most vile sorceress in history to boot. So, you are all invited to the Wedding of Ashely MoonDrake, daughter of the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, to Andrew St. Johns on the floating island of Emmyr on Christmas Eve.


On Christmas Eve, all of Avalon gathered on Emmyr for the wedding of Ashley and Andrew. Port Charles closed for the first time so as to allow the ships carrying the many dignitaries to dock for this special occasion. But even with a “who’s who” of royalty attending, the most important people invited were the people of Emmyr. Everyone in the city was invited by the Gil-Gamesh. So they all put on their best clothes for what many described as the wedding of the millennium. It’s not often that ordinary people mingle with the Lords of Avalon, but that’s how the Gil-Gamesh saw himself. He was a person of the people, especially to the people of Emmyr.

This was also a first, for many on Avalon, to see the wedding of two Outlanders hold such fervor with the people; but then again, these were no ordinary Outlanders. In any case, everyone made their way to the city square just outside the Dragon’s Veil. Rows of chairs encircled the statue of Lady Stephanie and her children, divided by small aisles with a main aisle coming directly from the gates of the Dragon’s Veil. A raised dais stood at the rear of the statue, where the ceremony would be performed, draped in white and blue silks. Cardinal Dominici Allistar Magelleon stood on the dais, waiting to officiate the ceremony.

The aisles are lined with iron torchiere, but instead of burning wood, they each held a magical flame, suspended to provide warmth and light. White Poinsettias lined the aisles and around the dais as a symbol of the winter season. Around the square, the large mirrors focused the light from all around on the square.

As the guests filtered into their seats, special attention was given to the arrival of certain dignitaries to the wedding. A herald announced each arrival as they arrived at the wedding.
“Master Dinius Oddbottom, Lord of the Gilded Halls,” the herald announced as Dinius and a small company of Dwarves took their seats. They were dressed in their finest armor, but it’s hard to tell as their long beards hide them from view.

“Lord Baldrid and the Lady Lyllodoria of Alfheimer,” came next, as the King of the Elves and his wife were escorted to their seats by a company of Elves. Though most people have seen Elves before, it was rare to see the Lord of Alfheimer away from his home. As they walked in, most people are overwhelmed by the glow of their presence.

Many others were introduced, including friends of the Gil-Gamesh like the Wizard Browbridge, as well as all of the Lords of Avalon and members of the Wizard’s Council. One of the more spectacular arrivals was that of Kragmar and Nihala, who landed on a stone outcropping just above the square. Though their presence was intimidating, they are looked upon with respect and awe.

The last to arrive was the Queen. “Her Royal Highness, Queen Cadhla Edaline Raewyn Pendragon, Queen of Avalon … Long Live the Queen!” the herald announced. All stand and bow or curtsey as she made way to her seat. She was accompanied by Hunter, who led her personal escort for the wedding, and her son Bowen. Though only five-years-old, Bowen was quite reposed for a toddler. His red hair and freckled face showed off his innocence, something he is well known for in New Camelot, as a well-behaved boy and dutiful prince.

Once the Queen is seated, everyone else filled in the remainder of the seats or stood at the rear as the wedding was about to begin. A chorus sang “Ave Maria” as the wedding party marched in. They are dressed in the finest Elven silks, draped in the colors of the House of MoonDrake.
Stephanie was escorted by Andrew along with her grandson Thomas. She held Thomas’ hand and Andrew’s arm as they walked down the aisles to their seats before Andrew stepped up to the dais. Next, Nevan and Sarafina walked down the aisle, taking their seats next to Stephanie.

Chancellor Ocwyn followed, escorting Mrs. Thurgoode. Bryan and Stephanie wanted to make sure their longtime friends were a part of this special occasion. Rose was escorted by Captain O’Brian, the best man. Rose could barely contain her delight in being able to walk down the aisle with Edan, something she hoped to do again in the future.

Lastly, as the wedding march began and the audience rose to their feet, Bryan escorted Ashley down the aisle. Her dress was a work of art as white silk was layered with a frosted lace that glittered like falling snow. It was trimmed with a white mink collar and cuffs to complete the package. Her veil was also made from the same glittering lace, held on her head by a diamond and sapphire tiara, an early wedding gift from the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls. Around her neck, she wore the blue stone pendant given to her by Merlin. She carried a bouquet of white poinsettias and blue roses.

Bryan walked down the aisle, head held high, beaming with pride. This was something he had looked forward to since the day she was born. Ashley smiled, though it was hard for her to hide her nervous jitters.

“I can’t believe all these people came to my wedding,” she whispered to her father. “If I wasn’t so nervous, I’d probably faint right here.”

“Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m here to catch you,” he joked. “Besides, everyone out there is looking at you and they are totally jealous of how beautiful you look.”

Ashley smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek. “Oh no, I can’t start crying yet.” As they reached the dais, Bryan lifted her veil and dabbed her cheek with his gloved hand.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of family, friends, and our Lord God to bring together this man and this woman in holy matrimony,” proclaimed Cardinal Magelleon. “Who gives this woman?”

“Her mother and I …” said the Gil-Gamesh as he placed Ashley’s hand in Andrew’s before taking his seat. Once seated, Stephanie noticed a tear on her husband’s cheek. She wiped the tear with her hand. She knew that beneath that gruff warrior-like exterior he was really a softy, especially when it came to his children. He smiled then took her hand in his as the ceremony continued.
The ceremony concluded with Cardinal Magelleon announcing to the gathering, “May I present to you, Andrew and Ashley St. Johns of Avalon.” The crowd erupted in applause as the couple made their way down the aisle. One by one, the official party and some of the dignitaries were escorted behind them into the Dragon’s Veil while the square was transformed from wedding seating to a huge reception for all.

Ashley and Andrew took their place at the head of the receiving line, along with Bryan and Stephanie, to be formally congratulated by everyone. Ocwyn hovered close by to ensure they knew exactly who they were speaking too and that the proper protocols were adhered to. Queen Cadhla was the first to greet the happy couple.

Ashley and Andrew bow and curtsey, respectfully, exactly how Ocwyn instructed them as the Queen approaches. “Congratulations to both of you, it was a beautiful ceremony,” she congratulated. “You should be very proud Lord and Lady MoonDrake.”

Bryan bowed, ever respectful of his monarch. “We are honored that Her Majesty could attend.” He then turned his attention to young Bowen. “And did you enjoy the ceremony, Prince Bowen?”

“It was okay, but I preferred watching the dragons,” he said, pointing up the mountain to where Kragmar and Nihala sit. “I’ve never seen a dragon before.”

Bryan saw an adventurous streak in the young prince. “Well, maybe your mother will allow me to take you on a flight around Emmyr so you can see the dragon’s a lot better.”

Bowen brightened up at the chance of seeing the dragons up close and he turned to the Queen for approval. Queen Cadhla hated to burst his enthusiasm, but she knew this was not the right time.

“I don’t think we’ll have time for that today Bowen,” she cautioned, causing the boy to look sullen and disappointed. “But perhaps, the next time Sir Hunter comes home to Emmyr to visit, you can tag along and spend some time here, alright?”

Bowen practically jumped for joy. Bryan and Stephanie were surprised that the Queen, who had been so over-protective of her son since his birth, would allow him to come to Emmyr alone.
“I will look into making the necessary arrangements, Your Majesty, once we get back to New Camelot,” Hunter interjected.

“We would be honored to have the young prince as our guest,” Stephanie added. “Thomas would love to have another boy his own age to play with.”

As the Queen moved off to talk with some of the other guests, Ashley leaned into her mother, looking curiously at Queen Cadhla and Prince Bowen. “Mom, I’m confused … Who is the boy’s father?” she whispered.

“No one knows really,” Stephanie replied softly, so others wouldn’t hear her. “Rumor has it there was this young knight who was completing his training in New Camelot when the Queen fell madly in love with him and seduced him. However, he was honor-bound to his home and left without saying good-bye. It broke the Queen’s heart. He was said to have been killed in Blackbriar Forest, but no body was ever found.”

Others came through the receiving line, including the Gil-Gamesh’s friends Eonis and Dinius. The pair greeted Bryan and Stephanie warmly before turning their attention to the wedded couple. “Congratulations laddie and welcome to Avalon,” Dinius said, reaching up to give Andrew a hearty handshake. Andrew was slightly tongue-tied to the fact that he’s talking to an actual Dwarf and Elf.

“Congratulations laddie and welcome to Avalon,” Dinius said, reaching up to give Andrew a hearty handshake. Andrew was slightly tongue-tied to the fact that he’s talking to an actual Dwarf and Elf.

Eonis gave a courteous bow to Ashley and Andrew. “You are a welcome addition to the MoonDrake family.”

Ashley reached out and gave Eonis a hug before she realized that she might have breached protocol. “I’m so sorry Eonis, I shouldn’t have done that.”

Eonis just ignored it altogether. “Not to worry Ashley … Being a friend of your father, I have come to grow accustomed to involuntary hugging.”

“If you like lass, you can hug me. I don’t mind it as much as the Elf,” Dinius quipped. Ashley knelt down and gave the old Dwarf a hug, leaving everyone with a good laugh. “Andrew lad, the Gil-Gamesh tells me you’ve taken to swinging the axe?”

“Yes sir, Róta and Myst are the perfect weapons to have.”

“Indeed it is laddie, any knight can wield a sword, but it takes a real man to swing an axe …” he exclaimed before pausing and turning to Bryan. “No offense intended Gil-Gamesh.”

“And none taken Master Dinius, as always!” he joked.

Dinius grumbled before he turned back to Andrew. “If you ever need some tips lad, I’d be happy to share them with yeh.”

“That would be great Master Dinius, how about we talk about it over a pint?” Andrew replied, knowing the Dwarf’s fondness for ale, or so Bryan told him.

“Ha-ha, now you’re talking lad! You’re buying!” Dinius agreed as he slapped Andrew in the back, a stronger blow than he was expecting, as it nearly knocked the wind out of him.

After the entire line of dignitaries made their way through the receiving line, they all moved back into the square for the reception. The area had been transformed, thanks to the uncanny precision and meticulous organization of Mayor Henri Beauchamp.

The servers brought out large roasted pigs, peccadillo, roast chicken, chicharones, fried plantains, mango salsa, black beans and more … It is a feast unlike anyone has ever seen in Avalon. Though some ate the food with slight trepidation, others dove in with enthusiasm. It was a rousing success as great food and music brought laughter and love together.

Ashley and Andrew sat at a table on the dais with Rose and Edan. The four young adults were enjoying their meal as well as their time together. Bryan kept a close watch on Edan from down below, but Stephanie nudged him every once and awhile to mind his own business.

Even with all the festivities going on, security was still paramount. Amelia and the other Shield Maidens had been intertwined with the Gil-Gamesh’s Dragon Guard and Knights of the Round Table from New Camelot to surround the square and keep a watchful eye. Amelia wandered around, looking at everyone who came in and left of the square.

One person caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. A woman wearing garish clothes—probably a prostitute from the local brothel—placed a small box on the gift table. The table was filled with a variety of presents from both the dignitaries as well as the people of Emmyr. It wasn’t anything unusual so she just noted it and continued her patrol around the square.

Ocwyn stepped up to the head table and tried to get everyone’s attention, but even he was unable to be heard over the crowd. He finally pulled out his wand from within his robes and pointed it into the air. “Silentium!” he chanted. The tip of his wand glowed as waves of magic rippled through the air cascade from his wand. The load roar of the crowd turned to utter silence as the spell took hold over the square. Once Ocwyn saw he had their undivided attention, he waved his wand and canceled the spell.

“Your Majesty, Lords of Avalon, Ladies and Gentlemen … It is a noted tradition that on Christmas Eve, some parents allow children to open one gift. To continue that tradition, I invite Mrs. St. Johns to pick one of the gifts from the table to open before our assembled guests.”

The audience roared in approval as Ocwyn helped Ashley down to the gift table so she could make her choice. She walked along the table, looking at all the gifts, each wrapped beautifully. People in the audience shouted out advice as to which gift to pick as she walked down the long table.

She finally stopped and spied a small box neatly wrapped. For some reason, her eye was drawn to it and she picked it up, garnering applause from the crowd. She made her way up to the table and stood next to Andrew. Together they unwrapped the ribbon and Ashley opened the box. People stood and strained to see what she would pull out of the box.

Ashley was speechless as she reached in and pulled out a small orb, about five inches in diameter. It shimmered in the light as she fawned over such a beautiful gift. But from near the front, Archie watched as Ashley pulled the orb out of the box and his delight turned to fear.
“Ashley no!” he shouted. “Put that down!”

But his voice couldn’t be heard over the applause and cheers of the crowd. The orb pulsed with energy, drawing the attention of Nihala who roared out a warning, silencing the crowd. Suddenly, the pulsing energy transferred from the orb into Ashley. She looked up as her eyes rolled back into her head; she looked down, bracing herself on the table.

“Ash, are you alright?” Andrew asked. Ashley righted herself and opened her eyes, but it wasn’t Ashley looking back. It was Morgana le Fay.

“Repello!” she commanded, firing a bolt of energy from the orb at Andrew that sent him flying across the square and crashing into the wall.

She turned to Rose and Edan, sitting next to her looking confused. “Repello!” she commanded again, sending the two flying off the dais.

Shouts of horror and disbelief could be heard around the square. Stephanie rushed to help Andrew while Sarafina and Nevan looked after Rose and Edan. Bryan rushed to his daughter but Archie stopped him.

“Ashley, what are you doing?!” he shouted.

“No, no Gil-Gamesh … it’s not Ashley,” Archie explained. “That’s the Orb of Veles. Ashley has been possessed! It’s Morgana … Morgana le Fay! The sorceress has returned!”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Halloween is more than a holiday, it’s a fantasy writers dream come true

fca4ce85-0b3b-4b59-b288-0ab3d781338a“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen. The moon laughs and whispers, ’tis near Halloween!”

This is the time of year when it starts to get darker early, the air is crisp and cold, and a full moon makes you think twice about being out after midnight.

Halloween is a special time of year, even more so for us fantasy writers. This is when we can let our hair down (for those of us who still have it) and let loose with all the scary stories we’ve been storing up for the past year.

I saw a great special on TV the other day that explain how dressing up in costumes and “trick or treating” was invented by a lady in Kansas to keep kids from vandalizing neighborhoods in their small, rural town. That may be true, but Halloween has always had a darker meaning.

Though it is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated in the Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, how it is practiced and celebrated today is the as the festival was Christianized as Halloween. Most of us carry on the tradition as we did as kids … By decorating our homes with jack o’lanterns, skulls and tombstones, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and passing out candy to little kids while saving the leftovers for the rest of us.

As a writer, Halloween brings out the best in me. You have a wealth of myths and legends to choose from to scare your readers. In the instance of my third book, The Outlander War, I brought a couple of “Halloween inspired” characters to my story … The half-demon Abdel Ben Faust and the Wraith Legion of Purgatory. Here is an excerpt from my “soon-to-be-released” novel which shows how deadly a wraith can be.


Dotted along the coast of Avalon, sitting atop the raised cliff-face, were outposts manned 24/7 by the Knights of the Round Table, Shield Maidens, the Dragon Guard, and Elves from the Hîldrägo Boquè. Their job was to keep an eye on the fleet off the coast and report any movement toward Avalon, by sea or by air.

At one outpost, located directly across where Emmyr once floated in the sky, sat a small group of men in the third hour of their watch. A small fire kept them warm, but it was of little comfort out here. It was three o’clock in the morning, and the tedious, sometimes boring, nature of the watch was already getting to some of them.

Of all the knights there, Sir Eadric Cuthbert was the oldest. At nearly 100-years-old, and he was still considered by many to be in his prime. He had fought in many battles throughout his career as a Knight of the Round Table, characterized by the many battle scars on his body. He could have had them healed but he preferred leaving the marks as they were, because each one was a story. His shaggy beard of black and gray was the only hair on his body as the rest either fell out or was burned off at one time or another. He leaned up against his halberd, a two-handed polearm with a broad ax blade and a pike, as he tried to shake off the sleep. He knew he had too much to drink before coming on watch, but the young men kept asking for one more story and he couldn’t help himself.

As Eadric dozed, Feredir kept his gaze locked off the coast of Avalon. As one of the youngest members of the elite Hîldrägo Boquè, the Elf warrior was always mindful of his duties while on watch. He memorized all of the ships situated off the coast of Avalon and took careful inventory whenever he assumed watch. His stark green eyes and brown hair highlighted his beautiful features, wearing the traditional copper-colored armor of the Hîldrägo Boquè. Armed with his long bow and long sword, his normally dutiful attention was interrupted by the occasional snoring of Eadric, waking himself up with every loud gasp for air.

“Are you sure you should be standing the watch so tired, Sir Eadric?” Feredir inquired politely.

“Nonsense Feredir, why I once stayed awake for four days straight on twenty minutes of sleep at the siege of Kohlwick Hollow,” Eadric replied as he snapped to attention. “I usually need some action to keep my focus so I don’t drift off.”

“Well, you’re not a young man anymore. You should take it easy on the late night revelry.”

“Speak for yourself lad,” Eadric snapped back. “It’s late night revelry that keeps this old man going.”

“Lad?” Feredir said as he glared at Sir Eadric with a look of bewilderment. “You do realize that I’m more than 1,500 years older than you?”

“Ah, it’s not the age lad, it’s how you carry yourself,” Eadric answered. “You walk like my son, Dabney, use to … Strong, confident and full of life. Me? I’m an old man, past his prime, who tries to be ‘one of the boys’ by drinking the night away while telling one of a hundred stories of my life as a Knight of the Round Table.”

“You speak too harshly about yourself Sir Eadric,” Feredir said to comfort the old knight. “You have lived a long and fruitful life, serving the people of Avalon with honor. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

“He’s right Sir Eadric, your presence means a lot to young men like me,” one of the other knights spoke up. The other men nodded their heads in agreement, chiming in to support the aged warrior.

Eadric said nothing in reply. He just leaned against his halberd and sighed. Feredir saw that something was on his mind. “Is something bothering you, Sir Eadric?”

“My son, Dabney,” Eadric said, his voice turned solemn and sad. “I haven’t thought about him for over a year now, not even speaking his name.”

Feredir jerked his head, unsure of where Eadric was going with this. “Dabney died last year at the battle of Idlehorn Mountain,” Eadric continued. “We were defending the right flank when a Drow Strider came right at us. I got under the beastie with my halberd while Dabney sliced it right between its eight eyes. The Drow fell off the spider’s back, so I ran it through with the pike.

“We turned our back on the spider, thinking it was dead, but it had a little bit of life left. It grabbed Dabney and ran him through with its stinger. Some lads carried him to the rear while I continued to fight. When the battle was over, I went to find Dabney but …”

His voice trailed off, not finishing his sentence, but Feredir understood what happened to his son. “They had to burn his body because Drow spiders lay eggs inside their victims when they die. The only recourse was to burn the bodies before the eggs could hatch. I’m very sorry Sir Eadric.”

Eadric wiped the tears from his eyes and took a deep breath to regain his composure. ”That’s alright lad, we all have to go sometime. I’ll see my son again one day, that’s what keeps me going.”

The two remained quiet for almost half an hour until Eadric finally broke the silence. “Do you remember a Storm Giant by the name of Boras?”

“Boras? I remember when he came down from Merlin’s Pinnacle to raid cattle and sheep farms,” Feredir recalled. “His people were starving because they didn’t stock up enough for the winter, so he took it upon himself to get some provisions, as it were. I heard it took more than 100 knights to finally bring him down.”

“101 actually …” Eadric joked as he cracked a smile. “Let me tell you about it, you see …”

“Oh no Eadric, not the Boras story again!” came a voice from behind. The men all turned to see Sir Hunter and Chancellor Beauchamp walking toward them. Hunter was carrying a Lancer, as if he was ready to fight while Henri carried a teapot.

Eadric walked up to Hunter and greeted him like a brother, embracing him enthusiastically. “What are you doing here Sir Hunter?” Eadric asked. “I thought you were in Alfheimer?”

“I finally got a clean bill of health from Doctor Bonapat, so I took the first flight back here. My mother was driving me crazy!” he joked. “Actually, I’m just escorting Chancellor Beauchamp out here. Henri thought you all could use some efion tea.”

“Mais bien sûr,” Henri chimed in as he poured some tea for each of the men. “I wanted to bring you some of Chef Manfred’s world famous Cioppino, but he would not let it out of his sight. De toute façon, the Gil-Gamesh always said that everyone needs a little something to keep them going until morning, n’est ce pas?”

Sir Eadric greedily took the cup from Chancellor Beauchamp. “God bless you, Chancellor, this is just what I needed!” He took a big sip of tea, savoring each swallow with a soft moan. “Ah, a Christmas Hot Toddy! Just the way I like it!”

Efion tea is an Elvish drink that provided nourishment to Elves when they travel away from Alfheimer. To humans, it’s like an energy drink on steroids. A side effect of the brew is that it mimics the flavor of whatever you’re thinking, from sweet to savory.

Henri offers a cup to Feredir, but the Elf politely refuses. “No thank you, Chancellor Beauchamp. I had some before I came on watch. I am perfectly … fine.”

His voice trailed off at the end of his sentence as his eye caught something different off the horizon. Hunter knew how keen the eyesight of an Elf was and tried to see what he’s looking at on the horizon. Though it was a clear night, the moon was waning with a small sliver of a crescent high in the sky.

“What is it?” he asked. “What do you see?”

“There’s a new ship out there, one I’ve never seen before.”

“Are you sure Feredir? Those metal contraptions look all the same to me,” Eadric interjected.

“I have observed all the same ships for the past few weeks, that one is new,” he said pointing out. Try as he might, Hunter could barely make out the ship in the darkness.

“Can you describe it? Do you see any writing on it?”

“It looks like the other large warship, the aircraft carrier I believe your father called it, but the front of the ship is curved upward like a ramp,” Feredir said. “There is some writing on the side of the main structure but I’m not familiar with the language.”

“Show me!” Hunter demanded. Feredir took a dagger and wrote a few letters in the dirt next to the fire. Hunter didn’t recognize the words but he knew the style of the language. “That’s Russian, I think,” he said. “It must be a helicopter carrier of some sort.”

“Is that the machines with the spinning blades on them?” Feredir inquired.

“Yes, why?”

“Because there are four of them headed our way!” Feredir stated as he drew his bow.

Hunter turned to two of the younger knights standing with them. “You two, pass the word down along the coast that invaders are coming toward Avalon,” he commanded as the two men took off in opposite directions to warn the other outposts. “Henri, go tell my father what’s going on! We need him here immediately!” Henri dropped the teapot as he took off running toward the main encampment.

Hunter reloaded his Lancer with two new spellshots as he and Sir Eadric crouched down low behind the protection of some rocks. Feredir kept his head above the rocks, keeping a close eye on the approaching helicopters.

“How far out are they?” Hunter asked.

“Three of them are holding their position about 500 feet of shore,” he said as he scanned the horizon. “I’ve lost the fourth one.”

“What?” Hunter exclaimed as he and Eadric jumped up to see.

“Where did it go?” Eadric bemused. Before Feredir could answer, the three men heard a whirring sound from just off the cliff. From below the cliff edge, a helicopter rose up in the air in front of them, threatening them with 7.62x54mm rotary mini-gun.

The three quickly ducked down as the helicopter opened fire, pelleting the ground around them with rapid-fire spray. Feredir notched an arrow and readied himself. The Elven warrior stood up and fired off an arrow at the helicopter pilot but it ricocheted off the front windshield. He quickly shot off one more, but it had the same result, as he dove down behind the rock before the pilot adjusted his fire toward him.

“My arrows won’t penetrate that infernal machine!” Feredir complained. Hunter weighed all the options until he came up with an idea.

“I think I can help you there,” he said as he pulled up his Lancer, ready to fire. “After I fire, hit him again. Your arrows should penetrate this time.”

Hunter took a deep breath before he popped up and fire his Lancer at the helicopter. His spellshot—a combination of magic and alchemy loaded into a cartridge the size of a shotgun shell—fired a freezing spray at the helicopter, coating the front of the aircraft in a layer of frost. The windshield froze instantaneously, causing the pilot to stop firing momentarily as he attempted to get his bearings.

Feredir knew what he had to do as he quickly popped up and fired another arrow at the windshield. This time, his arrow shattered the glass and pierced the pilot through the chest. The aircraft became erratic as it spun around and around as the co-pilot tried to regain control. Feredir didn’t give him a chance to recover as he fired another arrow, this time killing the co-pilot with an arrow through the throat.

The helicopter spun out of control as it flew over the three warriors and dove down toward the ground. The engines shut down just before it impacted the surface, exploding in a giant ball of fire. Sir Eadric and Hunter roared loudly at their victory while Feredir just stood there silently, with a hint of a satisfying grin on his face.

“Now that was teamwork,” Eadric cheered. “Well done lads; well done to both of you!”

Hunter looked closely and calculated the distance from the cliff to where the helicopter crashed. His face turned sour as he made a grim discovery.

“The barrier has shrunk even more,” Hunter surmised. “It reaches almost 300 feet away from the cliff.”

“We should order the outposts to move in, otherwise, their infernal weapons can reach us,” Eadric replied.

“I agree, we need to warn the others immediately,” Feredir concurred. Before Hunter could say anything, the sound of engines filled the air. The three warriors turned around to see two more helicopters rising above the cliff, moving towards them. The two open up with their mini-guns, tearing up the ground as they strafed toward them.

With uncanny reflexes, Feredir grabbed Hunter and threw him to the ground behind the outcropping of rocks. Unfortunately, Sir Eadric was not as fast. The spray from the mini-guns ripped him apart as he fell to the ground.

Hunter looked over at Eadric’s lifeless body, saddened at the death of his friend. Even Feredir, who only knew Sir Eadric for a short period of time, mourned his loss. The two watched as something strange happened to Eadric. His body glowed briefly as his spirit rose from his body. It hovered over the corpse for a moment as it reformed into a wraith—an armored warrior with a ghostly visage for its head. The energy from his spirit absorbed into the heart stone on its chest as the gem beat to life.

Once fully formed, the wraith screamed an unearthly shriek before it flew into one of the helicopters. As the ghostly spirit passed through the craft, it unnerved the pilots as it swerved right into the other helicopter. The two collided into each other, shredded into pieces as the blades from one cut into the other. The two helicopters fell straight down to the beach below, exploding on impact. The wraith that was Sir Eadric was gone.

The last Russian helicopter was not deterred by the destruction of the first three. It hovered back from the cliff and fired a pair of 9k114 assault missile at the two hiding behind the outcropping. Hunter saw the missiles being launched from the aircraft. He grabbed Feredir by the arm and pulled him away from the rocks as quickly as possible.

The missiles hit the rocks, causing a massive explosion that hurled the two warriors through the air. They crashed into the ground hard, knocking the wind out of them. The helicopter moved in closer as its mini-gun whirred to life and started firing.

“Acheron Draconis!” shouted a voice from behind as the Gil-Gamesh summoned his dragon form, erupting with magical energy as it formed around him. “Defendo!” he chanted as the dragon’s wings folded down in front of Hunter and Feredir, protecting them from the gunfire.

“Infernus!” he commanded. The dragon form reared back and breathed fire, blasting the helicopter with full force. The helicopter exploded almost instantly, dropping down on top of the other two wrecked aircraft.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


The story behind the legend of Avalon — An excerpt from the Forever Avalon series

avalon-12I know I’ve talked about what inspired me to write the Forever Avalon series, but inspiration is one thing … Creating the legend of a new realm of magic is another. I know I could have created my own world—like Middle Earth, Azeroth, the Four Lands or Westeros—but I was trying to set my stories based partially in our world, using the myths and legends I grew up with. That’s why I chose Avalon. It is somewhere that people have heard of before, yet since there are no specific accounts about it in detail, so I could make it into the world I wanted it to be.

I want to tell you my story of Avalon and the best way to do that is to go back to the beginning. Here is an excerpt from Forever Avalon. I hope this will help to explain my idea for the island of Avalon and how it exists in our world today. Then, maybe, you’ll continue the journey through The Dark Tides: Book Two of the Forever Avalon series and The Outlander War, the next installment coming soon.


Bryan walked over to the fireplace, tossing in a few logs to stoke the fire. “Tell me,” he started, “what do you know about King Arthur?”

Both Stephanie and the children were confused by his question. “What?” she asked.

Bryan turned around and sat on a tall stool by the fireplace, continuing to smoke his pipe. “King Arthur. You know, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the Magician, quest for the Holy Grail …
etc., etc.”

She was completely lost by what he was saying to her. Bryan saw the confusion, taking his pipe and tapping it against his hand so the ashes fell into the fire, as he began to tell his tale.

“No matter what you may have read in books or what movie Hollywood made, King Arthur was real … The stories are true. He united all of Britain into one kingdom, through the power of his sword, Excalibur, and that of his trusted advisor, Merlin the Magician.

“And like the stories say, he was fatally wounded by his illegitimate son, Mordred, at the Battle of Camlann where he eventually died. Merlin knew that with Arthur’s death, the age of magic would come to an end and he could not allow that.

“The legend tells of the last of Arthur’s knights, Sir Percival, throwing Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake as Arthur was carried out to sea to the island of Avalon. That part of the story is only partially true.

“Arthur was taken to Avalon, but not as the legends described. In reality, Merlin combined his power with that of Excalibur to purge man’s world of all magic. He created a kind of mystical wormhole—for lack of a better term—sucking everything magical into it and bringing
it here to Avalon.”

Stephanie stared at him in disbelief. “Avalon? We’re on the Avalon?”

“Yes, this is the magical island where all things of legend and myth now exist. Elves, Dwarves, unicorns and dragons as well as trolls, goblins, ogres and other assorted dark creatures. Merlin brought them all to Avalon, beginning a new age of magic here.

“You see, the laws of science don’t exist here, only the laws of magic. Cell phones, computers, automobiles—nothing mechanical or electrical like that can function in Avalon. Over the years, people have tried to make machines work, but they could never do it. The best inventions to hit these shores that actually work were gunpowder and indoor plumbing.”

The kids laughed, but Stephanie was still struggling to comprehend what Bryan was telling them. “That’s why practically everyone on Avalon can use some kind of magic,” he added.

“Is that how you were able to make the sand and water turn into dragons?” Rose asked her father.

“Yes, exactly. I’m known as a DragonMage. I can cast spells that are elemental in nature, like dragons. You know—earth, fire, water, and air,” he said as he held up his pendant and showed it to them.

Stephanie saw the subject was getting off track. “So, how big is this island and why isn’t it on any maps?”

“It’s roughly the size of Texas, give or take a few miles,” he explained. “You see, Avalon exists outside the normal plane of existence, in another dimension. It’s cloaked from the real world by a magical barrier.”

“But if it exists in another dimension, how did we get here?”

Hunter asked. Bryan moved over to the table, sat down across from his family and poured himself a cup of tea. “Over the years, the barrier protecting this island has weakened.

“Over the years, the barrier protecting this island has weakened. The wizard’s council theorized that storms in the Atlantic caused instability in the barrier, allowing people and objects to pass through. Something else they’ll probably chalk up to global warming I suppose,” he said as he took a sip of tea. “Anyone who passes through the barrier ends up on the southern beaches of the island, where I found you.”

They all stared at him in silence and disbelief. “Well, why do you think they call it the Bermuda Triangle?” he exclaimed. “Planes, boats and people have been disappearing for years—usually in bad weather—and they all ended up here on Avalon. The ones who survive either adjust to living in a medieval society or end up as a slave or dead.”

“So what’s your story? How did you adjust?” Stephanie asked somewhat sarcastically, using her fingers as quotation marks to emphasize her words. Bryan sensed the tension in her voice, realizing that the truth was hard for her to accept.

“Actually, my story begins back at the beginning of Avalon,” he told her, leaning back in his chair and filling his pipe again. “You see, when Merlin cast his spell, some humans came along with him and all the magical beings to Avalon. Among them were Sir Percival and Queen Guinevere. Together, they organized the people to build a new home. We call it New Camelot.

“No sooner did they finish when they were attacked. The forces of darkness, led by the sorceress Morgana le Fay, wanted to destroy Guinevere and enslave the humans, so she gathered together goblins, trolls and other evil creatures who would side with her.

“Fortunately, the Elves of Alfheimer came to the human’s aid and formed an alliance with New Camelot. They united under the banner of the Pendragon, but they needed someone to lead them into battle. That someone was Sir Percival.”

“Did he take up Excalibur and become the new king?” Rose asked.

“Not exactly,” Bryan explained, “Excalibur was shattered by Merlin’s spell. Merlin knew that New Camelot was united under Queen Guinevere; so they didn’t need a king, but they needed a champion.

“With the help of the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls, the shattered pieces of Excalibur were forged into two weapons—Twilight and Dusk, the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon,” Bryan proclaimed as he put his pipe down on the table, stood up and drew the two swords from their hilts showing them to his family. “These swords would be used to defend all of Avalon against evil, tyranny, and corruption.”

He held out the gold sword, letting them see it up close. “Twilight is the sharpest blade ever made; it can cut through anything. The magical light that shines from this blade will pierce any darkness.”

Bryan then held out the black blade. “This is Dusk, blackened by the darkness that sickened King Arthur because of Morgana and Mordred. It’s a soulless void that sucks the life out of my enemies. These swords represent the balance between order and chaos,” Bryan concluded as he sheathed the swords and sat back down.

“To distinguish himself as a champion and not a king, Percival changed his name. He called himself the Gil-Gamesh, a name he had heard during his quest for the Holy Grail. It was the name of a hero in ancient Persia and now it was the name of the champion of Avalon.

“For thousands of years, the descendants of Percival have taken up the mantle of the Gil-Gamesh, defending the people of Avalon from generation to generation.”

“What a minute,” Ashley said, “That guy Biscuit called you Gil- Gamesh.”

“That’s right,” Bryan answered. “I am the 37th Gil-Gamesh.”

“But that’s not possible,” Stephanie inquired. “How can you be a descendant of Percival? You’re from our world, not Avalon.”

“Well, it seems that before the Battle of Camlann, Percival became deathly ill and was taken in by a widowed farmer and his daughter somewhere in southern Wales,” Bryan explained. “The woman nursed Percival back to health and fell in love with him, even though he was
devoted to both God and to his King.

“Percival got better and left the farm, but not before the young maiden took something from him, probably when he was asleep. His journals talk about a night when his dreams were filled carnal lust for this young farm girl, which is why he decided to leave as soon as he was well enough.”

“She had sex with him while he slept?” Stephanie asked.

“Ew-w-w, gross!” Hunter remarked.

“So it would seem,” Bryan said, sipping his tea. “As a result, Percival’s descendants remained in the outside world. I am a direct descendant of Sir Percival Peredyr. It is that genetic makeup that allows me to wield the swords.”

“I don’t follow you,” Ashley inquired.

“Well, you see, since Percival and his descendants have been the only ones ever to wield Twilight and Dusk, the swords have become attuned to Percival and his descendants—sort of like a magical DNA link.

“Over 500 years ago, the 36th Gil-Gamesh, Ethan Peredyr, was assassinated along with his entire family. The realm was thrown into utter chaos. With no one to defend the realm, dark forces raised havoc across the land.

“However, in that dark time came a prophecy … A descendant of Percival would come from the outside world to take up the mantle of the Gil-Gamesh. So the lighthouse and this house were built,” Bryan said, motioning to the surroundings, “and when anyone came through the barrier, the Outlander was tested to see if he was the descendant the prophecy spoke of.”

“Tested?” Stephanie asked, “How?”

“Only a true heir of Percival can wield the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon. Anyone else touching the swords is consumed by their power. Many died during that time until I came through. Call it fate or destiny—I am the heir of Percival and it is my duty to serve Avalon
as the Gil-Gamesh.”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.