Author Name: Eric Alan Westfall
Publisher: Eric Alan Westfall
Release Date: Monday, September 7 2020
Is This Book Romance?: No
Are You Okay With Reviews?: Yes
Price: USD 3.99
Story Type: Novel >50k
Word Count: 179,768
Cover Artist: Karrie Jax
Genres: fairy tale, fantasy, MM(M), Russian fairy tale
Pairings: MM, possibly MMM
LGBTQ+ Identities: Gay
Keywords/Categories: Russian fairy tale, fantasy, magic, magick, shifter, fairy tale, gay, queer, LGBTQ, fairy tale, new release, announcement, giveaway
What do you get when you combine a greedy Great Tsar, his two cheating, bullying older sons, his youngest esser (shh! no saying that aloud) son, stolen gold apples, a Firebird quest, A. Wolfe who has the power t’assume a pleasing shape, a magickal sandstorm, as well as two bands and a full Symphony of Gipsumies?
A rollicking, roisterous Russian Fairy Tale, with vigorous esser activities in tents, halls, bedrooms and alcoves, with and without the assistance of PSTs. Plus princely parades, a duel over Gus, new lyrics to an old drinking song, and the possibility of bits of blood, gobs of gore or moments of mayhem. As required by CORA (the Code of RFT Authors), should these occur, your author will give you timely warning.
Ah. Still not ready to part with your kopek-equivalent? Consider the fun you’ll have reading chapters like:
- “To Kvetch, Or Not To Kvetch? A Reader’s Choice”
- “Ivan Has A Close Encounter Of The F-Word Kind”
- “Second Direction Questers vs. The Caliph’s Sayer Of Sooths”
- “Will Sasha Succeed In Seducing Prince Ivan?”
- “Bad Prince Ivan! No Touch Cage!”
- “A Travel Pause For Gratuitous Sex In The Tent—Which Does Not Advance The Plot—At The Insistence Of The Characters”
- “A Necessary Interlude To Consider The Age-Old Questing Question: What The [Expletive Of Your Choice, Dear Reader] Do We Do Next?”
If you buy it and try it, you’ll like it, or so says your most talen…er…humble author.
p.s. If Karrie Jax and I have covered you and blurbed you to buy, look for “Dear Reader, Along The Way, Did You Happen To See The Allusion To Olivier?” in the TOC. It’s a spot-the-allusions chance at gift cards of $25, $15, or $10.
166,000 words of story fun and frolic, plus a 2160-word teaser from another MM fairytale: The Tinderbox.
Eric is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via rafflecopter:
IVAN PUTS HIS HORSE AT RISK, AND MEETS A. WOLFE“A wolf who talks,” Ivan said, his voice all full of surprise.
“I am not a wolf, Prince Ivan, I am A. Wolfe.”
Ivan lifted an eyebrow, in his long-perfected “inquiring princes want to know what you mean” mode, while wondering what effect it might have on such an enormous beast. Well, not a beast, exactly, since it could talk.
No reaction, except the bright gold eyes—so like one of his father’s apples, well-polished after plucking, or the gold circles in the Firebird’s tail—stared back, unblinking.
Since his eyebrow inquiry failed to a verbal response, it was Ivan’s turn to talk. Politeness had worked with the Firebird, when used in place of “I am royal, hear me roar” arrogance, and might be best for Ivan’s well-being in the current situation, conversing with a wolf, the top of whose head was above Gus’ shoulder.
“‘A wolf who talks,’” yes. My exact words, Sir Wolf.”
The wolf opened his mouth. Wide. No mere flash this time. Ivan was fully fanged. As they had only just met, he could not tell whether he was being fang-grinned for a reason he could not fathom, or fierce-fanged to frighten him. If it was the latter, there was a glimmer of starting-to-work happening.
But the wolf’s voice was neither fierce nor fun-filled when he hid most of his fangs and talked again. His tone was a goblet of great size, filled not just to the brim but overflowing—with more coming from somewhere so the over kept on flowing—with…patience. The kind of patience you use for, with, and on, those who are not very bright. Indeed, those who are so dim that if their brains were used to provide light for reading at night they’d be as effective as an inch-tall stub of a quarter-inch wide candle, set in a candlestick in the bowels of a cavern on the far side of a mountain range five-and-a-half eighths of a continent away.
“When you bathe, do you clean your ears, Prince Ivan?” [See above for how he said it.]
A sigh was heard.
Ivan wished he’d brought along a sigh that big, but then, since it was a large wolf letting it loose, accompanied by, Ivan was almost sure, a hint of a scent of pasta, pesto, garlic and butter, Ivan might not have been able to use it with the same effect. The sigh might almost have been designed to complement the show-patience-to-the-afflicted voice.
“Do. You. Clean—”
“I heard you the first time, Sir Wolf. I just don’t understa—”
It was the wolf’s turn to interrupt. “It’s clear you don’t understand, young prince. I was trying to ascertain whether your inability to understand plain Russian was based on a physical defect—stuffed ears, whether unclean or for another reason, bad hearing, something of that sort—and if not, on some mental lack which in theory requires me to be considerate and gentle.”
There was a tiny pause, so infinitesimal Ivan would have had no chance to get a syllable of a word in edgewise, sidewise, upwise, or downwise, even had he tried. “You do understand kindness and gentleness are not traits associated with a wolf, and especially not A. Wolfe?”
At the end of this series of insults, the Great Tsar would have raged, calling on his ever-present Imperial Guards to “Rid me of this wolf!”
Anatol would have ranted about the presumptuousness of peasants who did not know or stay in their proper place, probably forgetting who had just offended his sense of propriety.
Vlad would have grabbed his sword, and whether from horseback, or following a grandiose leap to the ground which displayed his awesome athleticism for the admiration of any viewers lurking in the vicinity—it was his policy to always act as if he was being viewed with admiration—would have started hewing and hacking away.
In part because Ivan suspected the outcome would have been the same with all three of those scenes—dead soldiers, dead royal family, likely including bystander youngest prince—Ivan chose the fourth door…and laughed.
He couldn’t say why he saw—thought he saw—a twinkle of humor in the great golden eyes. But he must have been right, because the wolf didn’t leap up, all howling, growling and slavering, and drag him off Gus before doing the devouring which would logically follow offending laughter.
Ivan forced a halt to his own humor. With gasps interrupting his initial words, he said, “My apologies, Sir Wolf. I was not laughing at you. It was an image in my head of my family’s reactions to your words, and yours to theirs. However, with all the respect to which you are entitled, which seems to be at least a reasonable amount”—Ivan was willing to be reasonable, but not obsequious—“I have no mental or physical defect which interferes with my hearing or my understanding. Perhaps the, ah, flaw lies in your explanation of what you mean? Or, you might consider, the lack of one?”
Ivan gave the wolf a princely grin of satisfaction with his response.
Wolfe gave the prince back a wolfeish huff. “I’ll entertain the possibility you might be right, if you’ll entertain the possibility you are not listening as well as you should.”
“Very well. Repeat after me, ‘A wolf is not the same as A. Wolfe.’”
“A wolf is not the same as a wolf.”
Wolfe sighed again. He apparently had an inexhaustible supply, in a wide range of sizes.
“A wolf is an animal, Prince Ivan. It resembles me, but is far smaller, roams the forest, howls from time to time for various reasons, and at times for no reason at all. Perhaps because it doesn’t reason. I am a wolfe—with an ‘e’ at the end. Which means I have magickal skills. My name is: A…full stop…Wolfe.”
Ivan grinned again. “Your first name is Afullstop? What an unusual name. Not Russian, is it?”
“No. Not an ‘uh’ sound, but a long a-sound, which rhym… You’re teasing.”
Ivan learned another lesson in wolfe-prince relations. A wolf-with-an-e-at-the-end could grin, without his fangs looking all fearsome.
Ivan widened his own grin. “I am. So what does long-A stand for?”
“A handsome name for a handsome wolf-with-an-e.”
Ivan paused. He shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t, but he decided he would, anyway. “Sir Wolfe, now that I know your name is A. Wolfe, and since we are being so precise with our pronunciations, are you really quite certain I shouldn’t call you ‘A. Wolfie?’ To be sure the final ‘e’ gets its just and proper due?”
Ah. So that’s what a Wolfeish glare looked like with a fillip of fang.
Before The Start Of The Story
Great Tsar Feodor III Berendey and his family—the first, second and third Tsarinas being long out of the family portraits—lived in the vast Imperial Palace occupying most of one of the many sides of sprawling Moscow. It was filled to the brim and a bit beyond with treasures from around the world, all of them shiny, glittery and/or gaudy, sometimes all three, as the Berendey dynasty has never been known for subtlety. The enclosure created by the high, high walls surrounding the grounds included a series of gardens filled with plants as wide-ranging as the treasures inside, arranged from the carefully elegant and highly stylized to the wild disarray which might be found in nature. The plants also tended toward foliage and blooms whose colors might be described as bright, brilliant, eye-catching and, of course, gaudy.
Beyond those high, high walls, in one direction, and carefully three feet beyond the farthest reach of any shadow from that direction’s wall, was the Imperial Tree Collection. It was filled with all the trees which needed full sun to grow well. And all the Great Tsar’s trees grew well, because this Tsardom of All The Russias had the finest and foremost sunlight in all the countries, in all the world, in all the Worlds Beside which might ever be, without a single magickal enhancement.
Perhaps it is that purity of sunlight which explains the tree in the center of the apple orchard, which was itself in the heart of the Collection. An alternative explanation is there was an ancestor of Great Tsar Feodor
Authorial note: The formality of numbers and family name for the Great Tsar and his sons will hereinafter be dispensed with, and if you consider them important to your understanding of the tale, you may simply memorize them, and insert them where, and when, needed.
who hired a mage who magicked up the seed for the tree. It was the one and only seed in All The Russias, in all the et cetera, the mage magickally promised, as he had no desire to lose his head as part of the annual spectacle known as “The Axeman Cometh.” This annual spectacle of public head-from-neck severing—which was sometimes more often than annual, depending on the moods, whims, or impulses of the particular Great Tsar at the time—also served as a logical reason why no one ever bothered this special tree.
At least not until the night which starts this tale.
The tree, you see, was both beautiful and wondrous in its height (forty feet) and spread (the crown was forty feet wide as well), and easy to admire for those with access to the Collection. There was a twenty-foot wide circle of vivid green grass growing around it.
But beyond beauty and wondrousness the tree’s principal asset was its magickalness. How else could it produce two varieties of golden apples?
The first variety was the brightest gold in color and those apples were the most delicious, the
sweetest, the best for creating the finest of apple sauces and apple butters, or apple anything, of all the golden apples in all the orchards, in All The Russias, in all the et cetera, et cetera.
The other gold apples were of the solid variety. The ones which break your teeth if you are foolish enough to bite them. The ones which enhanced the Great Tsar’s wealth. The ones which amounted to every other apple on every branch of the tree, and which vanished if they weren’t harvested when the apples which were only golden in color were at the peak of their pick-readiness.
The alternative explanation for the tree doesn’t explain why the mage who made the seed hadn’t disclosed this particular peculiarity. Which in turn might explain why the first time the gold apples vanished the then-Great Tsar was so surprised it left him in a terrible state.
So much of a state, that’s what his subjects called him ever after, that earlier Great Tsar Ivan. He was, however, a traditional tsar, in the very, very, very sense of the word, with a low tolerance for criticism well-matched to his other verynesses. Thus his terribleness was only mentioned in whispers, and only when his subjects were certain there were no members of Section Three of His Imperial Majesty’s Privy Chancellery—also known, but only in even softer whispers, as the secret police—around. Axeman, spectacle, et cetera.
The tree-origin tale is vague about whether, at the time of the first vanishing, the mage was unreachable, being far beyond the various borders of each and every one of the various Russias. Or whether one or more members of Section Three had visited him, as such visitations were long associated with disappearances of the never-seen-again sort. Or perhaps the mage was long dead, or recently dead, possibly from participation in a private Axeman Cometh spectacle, the mage not being known for being very high on the magickal morality scale. Alas, All The Russias and the rest of the world will never know, because even if the Great Tsars know, they aren’t telling.
Fortunately, the following year a very nice crop of both types of apples appeared. Great Tsar Ivan and his descendants made sure no apples of either kind ever again vanished.
Until the night on which our story starts.
Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.
Starting then, he’s published 13 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2020 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)…no guarantees.
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Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/eawestfall43