Saturday, October 20, 2012

Excerpt: “Empress of Dreams” by Scott Rhine

Priest, eunuch, and history teacher, Pagaose is rewarded by the gods for his good deeds at the conclusion of the epic fantasy “Dreams of the Fallen.” Reshaped into the perfect image of an emperor, Pagaose is dropped from the sky and given three miracles to guide mankind through the three generations with no contact from the gods. While the College of Wizards plots to discredit or kill him, Pagaose must rally the aristocrats by picking a suitable Empress candidate from each country. Each woman offers him alliances as well as enticements that disturb his dreams—each woman, that is, except the one he wants. Meanwhile, the ruler of the north plans to invade the island of Center, and a nightmarish dragon terrorizes the Inner Sea. After the first few days, this doesn’t feel like a reward anymore.

Excerpt from “Empress of Dreams” by Scott Rhine
copyright 2012

Lady Evershade found the Mandibosian Ambassador’s daughter playing human checkers with the emperor. Everyone else cheered as the girl beat the man who the college recently dubbed a master of military strategy. Pagaose turned to his guard and whispered, “Every woman is beautiful in the right light.”

“I could see Lady Anna being a mother figure and these virtues making her a mother to her empire, but her?”

“I can see her years from now as she gets taller. Her figure and humor will make her a wonderful companion. Her intelligence will guide her future husband away from many mistakes, and she will turn whatever he entrusts to her into enormous riches.”

“Until then, sire?”

“Listen. Child, would you perform for the others that song you sang for me earlier?”

The girl obeyed. The acoustics of the great hall carried her clear voice to every corner. Her words were sweet, encouraging, and enchanting. The men smiled.

Seething, Lady Evershade whispered to Rensalier, “Do you still have that alcohol that’s so pure it has little taste?”

“Aye, but never for the customers. They can’t handle it.”

“Put a flask of it on my bill and in my bag.”

“As you wish, lady. Your 10 percent kickback will more than cover the cost.”

When Nightglow appeared in the archway, she told her daughter, “Move to the music and spin on the marble in front of his highness as fast and gracefully as you can.”

The girl nodded and obeyed. In front of where he was seated, she pirouetted. As Nightglow did so, her dress rose, giving his highness and his head guard a flash of her bare legs and frilly silkies.

“Very nice,” blurted Niftkin.

The emperor nodded in agreement. “The blue of the fabric brings out her eyes.”


Lady Evershade smiled as she scolded, “Dear, I told you that the floors were too slick for that!”

Rensalier laughed. “Accidental?”

“The Dance is about showing the girls’ assets. No rules were broken,” insisted the mother. Ember went next, standing on the same spot in front of the emperor. The athletic girl leaned forward onto her hands, and then did a perfect handstand. Her silkies were cut so as to display an admirable portion of her firm behind. Pagaose cleared his throat and applauded, as did all the spectators. The girl bent backward in an incredible arch to regain her feet again. This prompted more applause and whistles.

“Here’s to fine assets,” joked Rensalier.

Komiko skidded to a halt on the marble, out of breath.

“You’re unforgivably late, young woman,” said Lady Evershade. “What’s your excuse?”

“Wizard duel . . . Lord Pinetto. Now.”

Air Force brat and techno-gypsy, Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving. He studied both short stories and computer languages. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication "Doors to Eternity" unexpectedly hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to retire from engineering in order to write full-time. Humor is a part of every story he does because people are funny, even when they don't think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can't laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he's married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.

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