Magic is at the heart of any good fantasy story

244277Magic is defined as “the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.” Magic is at the heart of any fantasy story.

For the Forever Avalon series, I had to come up with the “how’s and how too” of magic in the world of Avalon. That was the easy part. In Forever Avalon, all magic exists only on this enchanted island. When Merlin cast the spell to bring all magic from the outside world to Avalon, it infused the island with magical energy. Magic exists in every rock and tree, plant and animal, man, Elf, Dwarf and creature alike.

So now the question is asked, how do you access that magic? To me, the innate ability to tap into magical energy requires thought, belief and the right word. Anything is possible if you believe in it. Faith, courage and the human spirit has shown us that throughout history. If you add magic into the mix, the impossible becomes possible.

The Gil-Gamesh explained it best in in a conversation with his son-in-law Andrew in this excerpt from The Dark Tides.


“Here, the impossible is possible. The laws of nature are reversed. This is a world based on magic, not science.”

“But basic science rules apply, don’t they? I mean, practices like physics and chemistry, they still exist or else you couldn’t get your ship to fly or fire to burn.”

“True, but it’s how we get that science to work. We take that one step, beyond the reason of science and make it happen through magic,” Bryan explained. “For example, science tells us that folding space to travel from one place to another instantly takes tremendous power and an equation as long as a football field. But on Avalon, all it takes is a good wizard with the right spell.

“Eo Ire Itum! ” Bryan chanted as he waved his hand and in an instant, vanished right before Andrew’s eyes.

“You see?” said a voice from behind. There stood the Gil- Gamesh, appearing out of thin air.

“I really can’t explain it and even I had my doubts when I first arrived here,” he continued as he sat back down. “But, the longer you’re here, the more magic touches you, it will make you feel younger, vibrant and more alive and it will make you believe that anything is possible. I think that’s why magic left the outside world. It wasn’t just Merlin’s spell, it was also because of man.”

“I don’t understand?” Andrew queried.

SKU-000941753“Well think about it; at the end of the ‘Dark Ages’ man had already began to fundamentally change the way we thought about the universe. Science had answered the age old questions … Gravity, stars, planets, the Earth itself. People like Galileo, Copernicus, da Vinci and others changed the way we thought about life. Science was now our magic.

“Merlin’s spell brought all things magical to the realm of Avalon. In the outside world, there is only science. Here, magic and science co- exist with magic leading the way. That’s what makes the impossible possible on Avalon,” he concluded.


So now that we know how magic works, the next question was spells. I didn’t want to create a whole new language for spells, I decided to use one of the oldest languages as the basis for magical incantations … Latin!

First and foremost, I want to thank the University of Notre Dame (Go Irish!) for one of the best English to Latin translators online. All I had to do was type in a word or phrase and it would give me various usage options for those words. That helped tremendously in the creation of magical spells.

The last element was components. This is something I can harken back to my days of playing Dungeons & Dragons. I remembered that a simple darkness spell required bat fur and charcoal to complete the incantation. I wanted to incorporate this into my spell casting but not for every type of spell.

Since Avalon was infused with magic, simply lighting a candle shouldn’t require a pinch of sulfur. So, the more complicated the spell, the more components are required to cast the spell. Even harder spells require a magical item as a “well” to draw upon the magic of Avalon to power the spell (hint, if you want to see this in action, read The Dark Tides to see how Morgana Le Fay wields her magic through the Orb of Veles).

Magic is at the heart of a good fantasy story and as writers, we have to be the sorcerer and create the spells, components and magic items to bring the magic to life.

The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Don’t Mess with the Gil-Gamesh – An Excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

People always underestimate one another, especially when it comes to outsiders or people who are different from them. I grew up feeling that way because I was different from most people I knew. I liked comic books, cartoons and sci-fi/fantasy movies while others thought those things childish and nonsense.

SolaresFrostI think that’s why I made Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh, an outsider with a lot to prove in Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides. Though most of Avalon looks up to him as a hero and a champion, others scorn him as an Outlander and unworthy of wielding the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon.

Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides where the Gil-Gamesh’s power is tested by such an individual, but he proves himself once again as the champion of Avalon.


Anger filled his eyes as he looked down the street toward his attacker. Th e lone figure stood in the middle of the road, his face shrouded by a flowing black robe. In his hand, pointed at the Gil-Gamesh, was his wand, still pulsing with magical energy. Th e wand was a twisted branch of wormwood with a dark moonstone embedded at its base.

“I don’t know who you are, but you must have a death wish to attack me here in my own home,” Bryan swore.

“The only one who will be dying here today is you and your pathetic Outlander family Gil-Gamesh,” the attacker grumbled, his voice low and guttural. “Th e Cult of Darkholm will seal your fate once and for all.”

Th e Cult of Darkholm came to rise aft er the Gil-Gamesh killed Lord Kraven Darkholm in a wager by battle … A duel to the death. The death of Lord Darkholm meant the end of the line of Morgana le Fay. Th e cult believed that they must kill the Gil-Gamesh in order to restore balance to Avalon.

“How many more of you fanatics do I have to kill to end this idiocy?”

“You cannot kill us all Gil-Gamesh … Death cannot kill that which never dies!”

“Never say never zealot!” the Gil-Gamesh shouted as he leapt at his attacker, swinging Twilight down toward the cultist’s head. But before his sword strikes, he cried “Incandesco!” causing Twilight to burst with bright light. With the attacker temporarily blinded, Hunter and Nevan drew
their GunStars and fired a volley at the attacker. The spell shots erupted as a single fiery projectile that split into many fiery projectiles.

Th e cultist waved his wand and chanted “Caligo Obscurus Cimmerii”—an incantation Bryan had never heard before. Tendrils of darkness fl owed out of the wand like an octopus attacking its prey. It reached out to form a protective shield in front of the cultist, swatting at the meteor swarm to dissipate as it impacted on the barrier.

Th e Gil-Gamesh couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d seen spells that blocked magical attacks or deflected them, but never cancel them out like that. He knew he had to take a different tack against this madman. He sheathed his swords and motioned for Hunter and Nevan to back off . The cultist expected the Gil-Gamesh to attack him, swords swinging like a whirlwind, as he is known. He tried a different tack against the champion of Avalon.

“What’s the matter Gil-Gamesh? Are you afraid to use your vaunted swords against me? Th ey are the only reason you have any power on Avalon. Without them, you are nothing,” he taunted.

“You know, I’ve been here for more than 18 years …” Bryan lamented as he removed his gloves, tossing them to as he untied his cloak, letting it fall off his shoulders. “… One would think you idiots would take the time to do your homework.”

“Acheron Draconis!” he commanded. His body erupted with magical energy as it flowed around him until it takes the form of a dragon that acted as an extension of him. Th e people of Emmyr stared in awe of the Gil-Gamesh, but especially Ashley and Andrew. She had seen her father
do some amazing things before, but nothing like this. Th e cultist quivered slightly as fear raced through his body. He wondered if he made a mistake in taunting the Gil-Gamesh, but he
stood firm.

“I am Lord Bryan MoonDrake, Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, 17th DragonMage of the Wizard’s Council,” Bryan announced as he cupped his hands in front of him, drawing power from ground and focusing it through the dragon stone that hung around his neck. His eyes pulsated with magical energy in an unnatural glow. “You are sadly mistaken to think that I am powerless without my swords; but that is a mistake I will gladly help you resolve!”

“Aboleo evi Itum!” Bryan chanted as he released the energy through his dragon-form at the cultist. With a wave of his wand, the cultist reformed his dark energy shield but the blast hit with such a force, it pushed the cultist back. He grasped his wand with both hands, trying to hold off the Gil-Gamesh. He looked up into the sky and stared at the crescent moon, as if he were calling to it for help. The blast slowly began to break down the dark energy barrier.

SKU-000941753Bryan knew he had to press his advantage. He reached out with his right hand to toward a lit torchiere hanging next to one of the vendor’s stalls. “Draconis Infernus!” he cast, drawing the fire to him and adding it to his energy blast, igniting his dragon-form into a fire-breathing dragon. The explosion shattered the dark shield, igniting the cultist’s robes on fire. He dropped down to one knee, his garments burnt away, leaving nothing but a charred husk.


The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Hooray for Hollywood, now get to work and make my favorite book into a movie!

Hollywood has been on a roll lately with one blockbuster after another of sci-fi, fantasy or comic book origins; but lately, it seems like Hollywood is running out of ideas by remaking older movies rather than making new ones. It’s not like they’re remaking movies from 40-50 years ago. Instead, they’re remaking (or as they like to call reimagining) movies from the 80’s like Terminator, Point Break and Poltergeist.

With the success of Game of Thrones on television and The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit in theaters, there are some great fantasy novels out there just ripe for transitioning to the silver or TV screen, that have yet to be adapted.

Unfortunately, some series are so huge and all-encompassing that adapting them would mean some parts of the books would be edited out and you know how fans hate that. In any case, here’s my list of the top five medieval fantasy novels that need a big screen adaptation. I know that some people will disagree with my choices but, if you do disagree, please let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear what I might have missed.

Sword_of_shannara_hardcover#5 – Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks: Though some consider the series a direct rip-off of Lord of the Rings, I am one to let the Terry Brooks series to stand on its own. It takes you on an incredible journey through the Four Lands, fighting warlords and ousting wicked brothers from their throne … Everything a fantasy novel asks for. A visually stunning and epic story that deserves its own adaptation.

COMIC_elfquest_book_01#4 – Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini: I know most of you are wondering why Elfquest is on my list when there’s been a movie in the works for years. That’s exactly why it is on the list. This movie has been on again/off again since 2008. Let’s get it done already! Elfquest is an award winning, cult following comic book fantasy series that has been in print since the 70’s. The rights to this series has changed more hands than Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. Quit fussing about and get it done:  Live action, CGI motion capture or animated, I don’t care. Just do it!

102243#3 – Fafhrd and the Gray Mousrer by Fritz Leiber: This series is right up there with Lord of the Rings as one of the most influential fantasy series that started the entire Dungeons & Dragons genre. Fritz Leiber is even credited by many with coming up with the phrase “sword and sorcery.” Everything you want in a fantasy story is here … Wizards, thieves, warriors and the like fight through an incredible landscapes with plenty of skullduggery. There is rich history woven into the tapestry of the world of Fritz Leiber. It amazes me that this hasn’t made its way to TV or film yet.

673593#2 – Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock: Without a doubt, Elric is one of the greatest anti-heroes ever written. Michael Moorcock has created a world so fantastic, it could only be created through CGI technology of today, like James Cameron waiting until he had the right technology to create Avatar. The warrior/sorcerer renegade searching for his place in a world that hates and fears him. The hard part is trying to translate the Elric series into a trilogy. I would recommend Elric of Melnibone, Weird of the White Wolf and Stormbringer. Elric would bring horror and fantasy fans together to see the world of Michael Moorcock brought to life.

The-Dark-Tower-Novel-Cover#1 – The Dark Tower by Stephen King: I know this is not a true medieval fantasy, but hear me out. This novel has everything and then some and, just like Elfquest, it’s been tied to a big screen adaptation for the past few years but nothing has come to fruition. Even Ron Howard and Russel Crowe have been tied to this at one time or another. Which leads me to ask, why the hell aren’t you making this movie?! The Dark Tower is King’s take on the Arthurian legend, mixing fantasy with sci-fi and a western. I mean gunslingers, swords and sorcery, knights and thieves … what’s not to love about this series. This is one of Stephen King’s most unique stories that he’s ever written.

I know many of you have your own opinions and your own choices for fantasy books needing movie/television adaptation. I, for one, would love to see my own novels, Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides, added to that list someday. I just wish Hollywood would stop trying to redo something that’s already been done and try something new for a change.

Did you know Superman is vulnerable to magic?

Marvel's version of the sorceress Morgan le Fay

Marvel’s version of the sorceress Morgan le Fay

With the constant rush of superhero movies coming out regularly, filmakers are trying hard to bring the heavy-hitters to the big screen. The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are just the beginning of the now steady diet of comic book-based films and TV shows. Magic and medieval fantasy in these genres are often forgotten and mostly ignored.

NBC tried to bring the supernatural side of the DC universe to life in Constantine, fans loved it but it fell flat in ratings. Marvel is planning a Doctor Strange movie with Benedict Cumberbatch and DC has Guillermo del Toro helming Justice League Dark to add to his long line of magical fantasy-based movies.

Sorry, I digress … I don’t want to talk about the could have/should have but rather what comics have done with medieval fantasy over the years, specifically those characters from Arthurian legend. I think Marvel, DC and other independent comics have put their own unique spin on these classic characters and even integrated them routinely into their world. There are so many to pick from so I’m just gonna hit the highlights.

Morgan le Fay was introduced in Marvel Comics in Spider-Woman #2. She has been associated with Doctor Doom on more than one occassion but I think the best use of her character was in the Avengers where she used the Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping powers to turn the world into one of magic where she ruled with the Queen’s Vengance, a twisted version of the team. Seeing medieval versions of the Avengers (Captain America as Yeoman America for example) was great.

My favorite has to to be Iron Man “Doomquest,” a two-story arc where Iron Man and Doctor Doom are flung back to Camelot where Iron Man teams up with King Arthur to fight Doom and Morgan le Fay. In the end, the two have to work together to get back to their own time. It was made even better with a “What if” issue where Doom left Iron Man in Camelot and Tony Stark eventually became King Anthony of Camelot.

I would also like to mention Merlyn (as they spelled it) and his association with Captain Britain, Dane Whitman aka The Black Knight (an Avenger) and the Pendragon (a source of the magical power of England) just to name a few honorable mentions. Marvel has truly embraced the Arthurian legend within its pages.

Morgaine le Fey and her son Mordred from Justice League Unlimited.

Morgaine le Fey and her son Mordred from the TV series  Justice League Unlimited.

DC has had a bonanza of magic and fantasy, but mostly around the Greek gods (i.e. Wonder Woman) but Morgaine le Fay (as she is called in DC) and her son Mordred have both played a part in the DC universe. I always thought it was interesting that, besides kryptonite, Superman is also vulnerable to magic. That has played out in the many dealings with the immortal sorceress.

Morgaine was introduced in DC in Madame Xanadu #1 where she is revealed to be the sister of Madame Xanadu and the Lady of the Lake, three survivors of ancient Atlantis. Morgaine is also tied to one of most unique characters in the DC universe … Etrigan the Demon. The pet demon of Merlin was bound to a human Jason Blood, an ally of Morgaine, as penance for his betrayal. This puts Etrigan at odds with the sorceress for centuries to come.

One of the best stories from DC with Morgaine has to be “Kid Stuff” from the animated Justice League Unlimited series. Mordred betrays his mother by stealing the Amulet of First Magic and banishing all adults from the world. Morgaine turns to the Justice League for help but has to turn them all into kids to return them to the real world and stop Mordred. The rest is just a roller coaster of fun watching Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern (along with baby Etrigan) fight Mordred.

There are many others I could mention here … Lady Pendragon from Image Comics, Camelot 3000 from DC, even Excalibur from Marvel, just to name a few. They all have ties to Arthurian legend and magical fantasy. You may not see them translate to the big screen like the Avengers and Superman, but they have their place in comic books.

The Shield Maidens of Avalon – An Excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

Shield Maidens, the warrior elite of Avalon.

Shield Maidens, the warrior elite of Avalon.

When I think of the word “Shield Maiden” I am reminded of where I first heard it used. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” Aragorn calls Eowyn, a “Shield Maiden of Rohan.” It was from this that I created the Shield Maidens of Avalon, women devoted to God, King and Country, selfless in their duty of protecting the Knights of Avalon in battle. These warrior nuns (as I like to call them) are elite warriors on par with the Knights of the Round Table. The two share a special relationship, almost symbiotic,  that is built on honor, duty and trust. It’s one that the Gil-Gamesh and Sarafina, his adopted daughter, share; but theirs transcends that even more. Here is an excerpt from “The Dark Tides” that demonstrates how deep that relationship is. See if you can catch how I named my Shield Maidens.


Th e Crooked Goose was well known as an establishment that specifi cally catered to the lowlifes of Avalon. It sat at the crossroads of the Vanir Road and Hadrian’s Pass on the outskirts of Blackbriar Forest. Like many inns and taverns along the roads of Avalon, the Crooked
Goose was a place for travelers and locals to eat, drink, relax and conduct business. But anyone stopping there usually found themselves robbed blind or their throats cut come morning.

Th e inside of the Crooked Goose was dimly lit as most of the people visiting the establishment preferred the dark. Th e drinks were strong and intoxicating while the women were loose and homely. Humans, Dwarfs, Dark Elves and even some goblins and other dark creatures liked to meet in the Crooked Goose. Most of the time, they’re looking for any opportunities for underhanded work on Avalon, from simple robbery to an assassination.

Th e Gil-Gamesh lets this establishment stay open because he always knew where to look when trouble started or to fi nd information. Sarafina knew that too which is why the Crooked Goose was the first place she visited in her search for Lord MoonDrake. He’s been gone for nearly a week now. Th e fact that he hadn’t turned up dead yet meant they’re keeping him alive somewhere, probably torturing him.

Sarafina kicked the door in unceremoniously, blinding most of the patrons inside as the midday sun poured through the door. She was flanked by four of her sister Shield Maidens, dressed in plate armor and carrying various weapons from swords to pole arms. Sarafina walked in slowly, not saying a word until she found the right spot so she could see everyone in the room.

“Caleb Guoyle!” she shouted. “I want to know where that rat hides. Whoever tells me what I want to know will more than likely leave this place alive.”

“Now just one minute here!” a voice boomed from behind the bar. Elmer McElroy moved out from the bar, slowly shift ing his rather large frame. He’s been running the Crooked Goose for more than 50 years, since he killed the previous owner and took from him. He looked fat but
that was misleading. McElroy was strong as an ox and a resilient fighter. He once broke a trolls arm while arm wrestling with it. Elmer chomped down on his cigar and strutted over toward Sarafina. His receding hair line was more prominent with his hair pulled back into a ponytail. It also highlighted his enormous forehead, squinty eyes and bulbous nose.

“Just who do you think you are missy, coming into my establishment and threatening my customers,” he argued as he got right in Sarafina’s face. Elmer took a long drag on his cigar and blew the smoke right at her. “Now I suggest you get out of here before you end up like the

Sarafina turned away, as if to leave, but in one swift motion, she drew her sword and swung it at Elmer, cutting off the brute’s nose and half his cigar in one swipe. Elmer dropped to the floor, holding his face as blood spurted everywhere, agonizing in pain. He grabbed his apron and pulled it up to his nose to try to stem the bleeding.

Th e other Shield Maidens drew their weapons and surrounded Sarafina while she walked over to Elmer. Even though they were outnumbered, most of them knew better than to pick a fi ght with a Shield Maiden, especially one that’s extremely pissed off . Sarafina grabbed him by the collar and placed her sword at his throat as Elmer continued to scream at her.

“You bitch!” he shouted. “Look what you did to my nose!”

“You’re going to lose something a lot more precious than that if you don’t answer my question,” she said as she shift ed her sword from his throat to his groin, cutting through his pants and poised right at his manhood.

“Easy, easy lass!” he protested. “I don’t know where Guoyle is. He moved into some keep hidden in the Fenris Mountains. That’s all I know, I swear!”

“You’re going to have to do better than that,” Sarafi na declared, cutting away a little more pants as her sword grazed his thigh.

“Wait! Wait!” he pleaded. “There’s a troll, Usage is his name, I think. He used to live in some old keep in the Fenris Mountains, or so he said. He’s living in an old stump of a wormwood tree near the western opening to Blackbriar. You can’t miss it.”

Sarafina pulled her sword out and let Elmer go. She stood up and stared down the others in the Crooked Goose. “Rest assured, if I have to come back here, no one will be leaving this place alive.”

Sarafina turned to leave with the other Shield Maidens right behind her. Th e sounds of horses could be heard as the maidens rode away from the Crooked Goose. As soon as they’re gone, the bar quickly emptied as patrons didn’t want to be around in case Elmer gave her some bad information. All Elmer could do was sit on the floor in excruciating pain, hoping he never saw that Shield Maiden again.

Th ey rode straight through as Sarafi na continued on her search for the Gil-Gamesh. “He wouldn’t give up on me, I won’t give up on him,” she pondered as she rode toward Blackbriar and the troll named Usage. Even though the sun was high in the sky, Blackbriar Forest lived up
to its name as the thick overgrowth kept the interior of the woods dark. Th e Shield Maidens slowly entered the forest until they spotted the fallen Wormwood tree just as Elmer described.

About 100 yards off the road sat the downed tree. It fell toward the path with the roots sticking up at the far end of the tree. On the other side of the roots, obscured from view, the soft glow of a fi re could be seen.

Sarafina and the Shield Maidens quickly dismounted to access the situation and determine the best course of action for them. “Okay, Merida … You and Ariel go around the right. Aurora and
Snow will come with me around the left . Move quickly and quietly so we can jump out at the same time.”

“Why do I always have to go with the princess?” Merida complained, her thick Brogue accent running her words together.

“Who’re you calling a princess, princess?” Ariel snapped back.

“Zip it you two or you’ll have more than an angry troll to deal with!” Sarafina retorted. The Shield Maidens drew their weapons and started moving toward the roots. Shield Maidens were well versed in all forms of combat but each carried a weapon unique to their personality and
skills. Merida knocked an arrow in her long bow while Ariel wielded a trident. Sarafi na and Aurora both drew long swords while Snow carried a large hammer with a pick-axe on the backside. They moved in unison until they reached the root of the fallen tree.

Where the idea for “Forever Avalon” came from explained in an excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

Many people ask me how I came up with the name “Forever Avalon.” I believe this excerpt from the book The Dark Tides perfectly shows why this series has become the “Forever Avalon” series. Enjoy:

The Gil-Gamesh sat with King Gregor and his daughter, the Princess Cadhla. Though only 13-years-old, the young princess’ beauty and sharp intellect was well known across Avalon. Many of the Lords of Avalon hoped to match their young sons with the princess. But today, her interest was squarely upon the Gil-Gamesh.

“Tell me Sir Bryan, what are the young ladies like today in the outside world?” she asked. “The last Outlander I met spoke of something called a ‘poodle skirt’ and rock n’ roll music.”

Bryan laughed under his breath so not to insult the princess, thinking of the 50-year difference. “Well your Highness, things are very different in the modern world today. I have two teenage daughters, one about your age, and I never fully understood their taste in music or fashion. They wear tight pants, low-cut tops and listen to music of people speaking in rhyme instead of singing.”

“You let them wear tight pants? Like men?” the princess asked, shocked by his answers.

“Well, I can’t say I let them. They did that on their own accord. You see, women in the outside world today are very independent thinkers, living their lives as they want to. To many of them, a career comes first before marriage or family.”

“How terrible … Do you have servants then to take care of your home and family?”

“No your Highness, well some people do have servants but I didn’t. We all shared in the responsibilities around the house: The cooking, the cleaning, taking care of the kids. It’s normal in today’s modern world for both the husband and wife to work to help make ends meet.”

“How positively dreadful,” the King interjected. “How on earth do you maintain a civilized society?”

“Well, some would say we don’t, but life is what you make of it Your Majesty. If you let the hardships bring you down, then it’s not worth living.”

Cadhla didn’t mean to turn the conversation into a political discussion and tried to change the subject. “Pardon me for asking Sir Bryan, but you don’t seem old enough to have daughters as old as I am?”

“Yes well, I married very young … Here, let me show you,” Bryan said as he pulled out his pocket watch. He popped it open and showed Princess Cadhla the picture of his family.

“That is my wife Stephanie, my daughters Ashley and Rose and my son Hunter,” he explained as Cadhla took the watch and examined the picture closely.

“You have a beautiful family Gil-Gamesh,” she admired as she handed the watch back to him. “It must pain you knowing you will never see them again.”

Bryan tucked the watch back into his belt pouch, a solemn look fell across his face. Princess Cadhla saw this and realized she may have hurt his feelings.

“I am sorry Gil-Gamesh if I hurt you by reminding you of your loss,” she said, placing her hand on his.

“There is no need for you to apologize, Your Highness,” he said with a smile. “I am reminded every day of the loss of my family when I look out the window and see the beauty and splendor of Avalon. This place is nothing like the world I left behind and though I miss my family terribly, they will forever be in my heart.”

King Gregor, who listened in on the conversation between Princess Cadhla and the Gil-Gamesh, raised his goblet to him. “Well said Sir Bryan, well said!” he saluted.

“Yes indeed …” the princess added, “… and we will do everything we can to make your time here tolerable yet pleasant.”

“As a matter of fact, Your Majesty, I would like to ask your permission to end the killing of Outlanders that arrive on Avalon,” Bryan interjected. The King nearly chokes on his wine when Bryan broached the subject. One rule of politics in Avalon … Don’t discuss matters of the crown at a party, especially one where you are the honoree.

“I’m really not sure this is the appropriate place and time to be discussing this Gil-Gamesh,” the King said politely, knowing that Bryan was not familiar with etiquette and protocol of court.

“I apologize if my request is out of order Your Majesty,” Bryan said once he noticed that he may have stepped out-of-bounds with his request. “It’s just that the people coming through the barrier now are just like me and it would be very difficult to follow the rule of law and kill them outright. They should all be given the same chance that I’ve been given.”

“Well, I doubt they are anything like you Sir Bryan. From what I’ve been told, people in the outside world are self-obsessed and over-indulgent with morals so depraved that it would make a priest blush,” the King stated emphatically. “I’m sorry Gil-Gamesh, but Outlanders are not worthy of living amongst the people of Avalon.”

Most people would take this as a sign to end the conversation, but not Bryan. “With all due respect Your Majesty, I have to disagree with you.”

It’s one thing to broach political topics at a party; it’s another to disrespect the King at a party. King Gregor was quite angry now, but before he could say anything, Princess Cadhla acted as peacemaker.

“Father … I think the Gil-Gamesh is speaking for his experiences as both an Outlander and as a citizen of Avalon. I’m sure he has very strong feelings for both,” Cadhla stated, trying to intervene. “His only concern is for the safety and well-being of all people.”

Bryan saw what she was trying to do and knew he may have gone too far this time. “I meant no disrespect Your Majesty and I humbly apologize if I spoke out of turn. You see, to Outlanders Avalon is a place they could only dream about. It is a place in stories, plays, music and games. It’s not real but many wish it were. Believe me … If people in the outside world knew Avalon existed, many would give up those ‘self-indulgent’ modern conveniences and opulent lifestyles for a chance to be a part of this wonderful world.”

“Avalon is more than a place, it’s an idea, eternal as magic itself. Avalon is forever …” Bryan concluded with inspiring passion.