News from within the Cloak, March 2017

Welcome to the first edition of our monthly newsletter.  Thank you all for joining us on this incredible journey to bring great stories and readers together, to delight the imagination. 

First order of business is a congratulations to Ruth Anne Caukwell, winner of this month's $5.00 Amazon giftcard. Ruth Anne, you should see this appear in your mail box today as well. If you do not, please let us know by sending an email to AMF@cloakedpress.com


Next I would like to remind everyone that if you like what you see here on Cloaked Press, tell your friends. They can sign up for our mailing list, and be automatically entered into our monthly drawing, by signing up at our website, Http://www.cloakedpress.com

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Lastly, let's get to this month's short fiction story. This one comes from Andrew M Ferrell . This is from his epic fantasy realm he is working on and is the story of one of the Goddesses. Have a read of "Lady Luck, The Story of Princess Melbahkt"


                                                                Lady Luck, The Story of Princess Melbahkt
                                                                                    A short story from the Realm of Ezrahn

     “Here she comes,” the man turns to his companion. “The Princess. We are fortunate to have such a view.”
     A dour, gaunt faced man behind the pair leans forward. His breath smells faintly of decay when he speaks, “What is so special about this woman?”
     The two, stricken dumb by the man’s appearance, stare openmouthed. The first one recovers, “The Princess Melbahkt is the greatest beauty in the kingdom. Three Kings have come today to ask for her hand.”
     The second of the pair joins in, “She said that whoever dances with her the best, will be her choice.”
     “A dance, you say?” The gaunt faced man leans back, putting his fingers to his chin. “How fascinating. Carry on.” He vanishes.
     The two companions blink a couple of times before turning back to the spectacle in front of them. Neither would remember their encounter with the strange man, even when they met him again at the end of their lives.
     To the blaring of trumpets, the first king enters the ballroom. King Dalreck, a large man from the North, stomps toward the Princess. He snatches her hand and pulls her to her feet. The crowd’s gasp turns to laughter as the Princess spins out of his grip and curtseys.
     “My dear King Dalreck,” the Princess speaks, her soft voice still echoing through the chamber. “That is no way to ask a lady to dance. Wherever did you learn such etiquette?”
     Red-faced, Dalreck growls. “You will marry me or I will bring this castle down around your ears. Your other suitors are disposed of. There is only me.” He reaches over and roughly clasps her hands again.
     “Dalreck you are hurting me.” Princess Melbahkt twirls again, freeing herself from his clutches. “This is not acceptable. Guards!”
     Dalreck laughs as a group of his warriors tear off their disguises. They all draw weapons on the guards, outnumbering them three to one. “You see Princess, you have only one option.”
     Princess Melbahkt smiles. “You forget whose castle you are in. My people will protect me.” She begins spinning and weaving, her dress flowing and flickering around her. Dalreck’s warriors, bewitched by her movements, stand frozen. The guards however, are familiar with the Princess, and quickly overpower the warriors with the help of fellow citizens.
     The Princess continues to dance around the floor, Dalreck incapable of moving he is so entranced with her beauty. He comes around when a group of guards clap a set of iron handcuffs around his wrists. He roars, throwing his captors. He charges from the chamber, yelling, “I’ll be back Princess. Mark my words.”
     The gaunt faced man shakes himself out of his own trance. “Never have I seen such a wonder,” he mumbles to himself. As he fades into the shadows, a rare tear of joy slips down his pale cheek.
    
     The days following the Princess’s rebuff of King Dalreck saw a kingdom tense with worry. Everyone knew King Dalreck would not take his humiliation lightly. When his army appeared on the horizon, the Princess calls her people together. “King Dalreck is a fool to think we will just surrender. My people, I love you all and ask that you leave now. Go through the tunnels to safety on the other side of the mountain. I will meet with King Dalreck and settle this.”
     The people cry out against the Princess’s plan. They love her, and refuse to see her in the hands of the brute, Dalreck. When the invader marches on the gates, his army meets arrows and spears thrown from every able hand. His first wave falters in the confusion.
     Dalreck did not expect such resistance from the tiny kingdom the Princess ruled. He gathers his captains close, “I will have the Princess before sundown, or I will take all of your heads. Get me into that castle.”
     Scared of their formidable leader, the captains put their heads together and come up with a plan. Their second assault on the kingdom’s walls strikes from multiple areas, stretching the Princess’s small army to its limits. The city vibrates with the assault. The sound of metal clanging against metal shakes the stones of the walls. For a time it looks like the invaders will be thwarted a second time. However, the Princess’s weary forces, unused to fending off a sustained assault, fall one by one. Eventually, a group of horsemen break through a smaller gate and flank the citizen army. As they are cut down, Princess Melbahkt cries from her vantage point in a castle tower.
     Dalreck mercilessly slaughters every citizen on his way to the castle, be they soldier or farmer, man or woman, old or child. The gaunt faced man floats above it all, watching as the death toll rises. His minions begin collecting the souls as soon as they depart their fallen bodies, saving them as much pain as possible. He looks towards the Princess, struck again by her beauty. He sees that in fulfilling his own duties, Dalreck has reached the castle.
     Dalreck kicks in the door to the Princess’s chambers. “Now you are mine Princess.” Princess Melbahkt prepared another plan. Seeing her kingdom gutted like so many helpless sheep, she cries out at his entrance. Drawing a small, ornamental dagger her father gave her before his death, she rushes the brute king, Dalreck.
     The Princess spins her blade, “Fate shall decide which of us wins.” She crashes into his chest, driving the blade deep into her own bosom. With a smile, she speaks her last, “You took my kingdom, but I took your prize.” Her eyes glaze over as she falls, smearing his tunic with the blood welling from her wound.
     The gaunt faced man reveals himself in the room in the full regalia of his station. Dalreck is no fool, falling to his knees before the Lord of Death himself, Sephter. “Dalreck, your pride and arrogance has taken a true light from this realm.” Sephter snaps his fingers. His minions become corporeal and begin tearing apart Dalreck’s army. The screams reach the tower, causing the king to tremble in fear. He keeps his eyes downcast as Sephter speaks again, “For your foolishness, your people will walk the realm for a thousand, thousand years. Never welcome within my kingdom. You, will be taken as you stand into my immortal realm, to experience eternity, frozen in your flesh.” Dalreck screams as a whirlpool opens beneath his knees, black as the darkest midnight. His cries fade, sucked into the vortex.
     The body of the Princess shivers one last time, her soul trying to escape its mortal shell. Sephter glides to her side, placing his hand over her mouth as a tear slips down his cheek to land on hers. “You, beautiful creature, I refuse to claim. You should live on forever, immortal.” He leans down and kisses her forehead. The Princess shivers again, this time as her body heals and color returns to her limbs. “Your beauty causes even me, a God, pause. I have no doubt fate itself bends to your charms.” Sephter stands and quickly departs, leaving the Princess to finish recovering.
     When she finally stands, the air around her tingles with magic. The Lord of the Dead unknowingly gave her more than her life, he gave her a new life. One capable of turning the winds of fortune as one turns the steps of a dance. She spins, her dress changing and shifting, as she vanishes into the currents of fate.