by Ben Zackheim | Sep 3, 2014 | Writing |
The Camelot Kids: Part One is on Amazon and invading Kindles across the globe! I love those sales in India, the UK and Germany ;-)
But there’s no time to rest. Ian, Nathan and I are on to Part Two (while Ray Buetens of Slub Designs works on the softcover, due in December)
The Camelot Kids: Part Two is where the big stuff starts to happen. You’ve met Simon, Maille, Merlin, Uncle Victor, Hector and Red. Next up is a pair of young knights-in-training named Josh and Russ, who will ease the transition into New Camelot for Simon. You’ll also meet Dergh who plays a major role in the story, especially in the latter part of the tale.
And finally, there’s Rukkush.
He’s a bad guy, no doubt. But how bad is he? What is he up to? And how will his shenanigans change Simon’s life forever?
In the coming days, I’ll share some peeks at the work Nathan and Ian are delivering. Look out for The Camelot Kids: Part Two eBook on Amazon September 30th, 2014!
by Ben Zackheim | Jul 10, 2014 | The Camelot Kids, Writing |
If you think you know Merlin, it may be time to meet The Camelot Kids’ Merlin.
He’s a hair over 7-feet-tall.
His torso pushes 4-feet-wide.
He’s 3276 years old.
He’s not a people person.
Merlin’s love of England is the force behind his immortality. He won’t rest until the prophecy of King Arthur‘s return comes to pass. Now, as he senses danger surrounding his beloved New Camelot, Merlin gathers the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table. But since when was an army of teenagers a good idea? Merlin has defeated dark wizards, angry elves and dragons 145X his size. But can he handle The Camelot kids?
In this excerpt, Simon is on his butt, with his head between his knees. He’s been training with the notorious knight Hexter all morning and he feels like hurling. But when he raises his eyes he finds that the training arena is empty. A moment ago, it was teeming with teenagers, onlookers and about two dozen talky chickens.
Excerpt from The Camelot Kids
Simon stood quickly and lifted his training sword in front of him. He turned in circles for a moment, watching out for any movement. He had a sense that things weren’t right. Something dangerous was nearby.
“Who’s there?” He felt silly for talking to no one. It was probably teatime or something, and he’d passed out and missed everyone leaving. He imagined that they’d stepped over his unconscious body, laughing.
Merlin’s humongous shape emerged from the castle’s shadows. His stick click-clacked on the cobblestones.
“Put that thing down before you hurt yourself,” the wizard said.
Simon lowered his sword, but his instincts told him not to. Ever since the sword fight, when his muscles had done things they’d never done before, Simon felt heavy, wary. He saw the world as one big adversary.
“Where did everyone go?”
“Oh, I sent them home. It’s a clever little trick I picked up in India.” Merlin’s eyes lit up. Simon could almost hear the smile in the old man’s words. “You did well today.”
“Yeah. I was real chivalrous.”
“What’s wrong with you?” In an instant, Merlin had turned combative again.
“Nothing… My dad once said that praise from Merlin had a price.”
Merlin chuckled. Simon’s gut relaxed a little. The wizard put his hand on Simon’s shoulder and led him out of the courtyard.
“I do have a reputation for getting my way. But let me give you some context, Simon. I’m several thousand years old. That requires a strong body and a strong mind. It would be very easy to go mad after all I’ve seen.”
They stepped into the castle and Merlin grabbed a torch from the wall. “Actually, I have gone mad a couple of times.” His voice softened. “But one thing always pulls me out of the darkness. One thing keeps me focused and strong. Did your father tell you what that is?”
Merlin stopped abruptly and looked at the wall, up and down.
“Do you have a chainsaw?” he asked Simon.
“Um, not on me.”
“Bother.” The wizard furrowed his brow. He raised his staff, held it sideways and shook it. Suddenly, Merlin was trying to stay on his feet as the weight of his walking stick threw him off balance. Except it wasn’t a staff in his hand anymore. It was a chainsaw.
Without a word, the old man lifted the huge thing, yanked on the cord and revved it up. The explosive sound of the tool forced Simon to cover his ears. Merlin shoved the saw into the stone wall.
Except it wasn’t stone.
It looked like stone, but the surface splintered like wood, white chips flying everywhere. Merlin laughed, maniacally, as he carved out a door shape. The whole scene made Simon want to run to his bed and hide under the covers.
Merlin stepped back, turned off the chainsaw and handed it to Simon, who immediately dropped it because of its weight. The wizard stood still in the uncomfortable silence, looking at the large rectangle cut he’d made. His hair was a wispy mess, long strands of it falling over his face and sticking straight up.
Then the rectangle fell down into the hall with a thud.
“The door has moved since I last used it,” he said, as if that would explain everything. Merlin slipped into the hole he’d made in the wall and gestured for Simon to hand him his saw back.
Except it was a staff again.
“Thank you,” Merlin said in a way that made it very clear that he was enjoying Simon’s exasperation.
They took a step into a narrow spiral stairwell that curved down into darkness.
“As I was saying. The one thing that keeps me focused and strong is Camelot. My home. It has deserved better for more than a thousand years and now, in the midst of great danger, its time has come.”
“What danger?” Simon asked. But Merlin didn’t answer. “Where are you taking me?”
“To the dungeons. Should be fun.”
That didn’t calm his nerves any. “What’s down there?”
“Someone who is the key to finding our enemy’s weakness.”
“He’s a weird one, though,” came a girl’s voice from behind Simon, startling him. It was Maille.
“Don’t do that!” Simon barked.
“What? What’d I do?” Maille shrugged her shoulders.
“You snuck up on me!”
“I’ve been here the whole time, excuse me very much.” But her cocky smirk gave her away.
“Enough bickering!” Merlin barked. “We don’t want the prisoner to hear. It would give him an edge we can’t afford.” When they hit the bottom of the stairwell, Merlin lit a wall of torches with one wave of his walking stick. They passed empty cells that Simon would not have wished on an enemy, of which he had a number, growing by the hour.
At the end of the long, stone hall was a cell with a small flame’s light flickering through its bars.
The prisoner was hard to see, just a slight figure in the corner, whimpering like a caged animal.
Simon recognized him immediately.
And check out these previous character introductions:
Caradoc the troll
by Ben Zackheim | Jul 7, 2014 | The Camelot Kids |
Welcome to the latest peek at a character from The Camelot Kids. If you missed the Maille Rose peek, check it out.
Caradoc may look like something out of a nightmare, but… well, who am I kidding, he IS something out of a nightmare!
But the troll is complex. He’s one puzzle after another. When we first meet him, he’s as mean as he is ugly. But as Simon gets to know him, he spots a pleasing trait or two.
In the following scene, Maille Rose, Simon and Caradoc are searching New Camelot for some missing gold. They suspect two mischievous faeries have teamed up and hidden the gold in the town’s granary. Their suspicions are correct.
But they’ve forgotten one important thing. It’s Friday. And Rule #2 in the “Care of Faeries Handbook” clearly states:
Don’t let a faerie meet a faerie on Fridays.
Enjoy this excerpt from The Camelot Kids!
Caradoc slipped in the key and opened the door. Torches on the wall lit up slowly as they entered. Simon found himself in a huge cave, packed with grain.
“This feeds the whole city year round,” Maille explained. “Let’s hope that floating rodent didn’t do anything to our food supply. Okay, start looking.” Maille walked into the grain piles and started sifting through with her hands. Caradoc and Simon looked at each other. Maille glanced over her shoulder and rolled her eyes.
“For the gold! It probably hid the stash in here somewhere. The vents in the roof are meant to aerate the grain, but I bet they make it really easy to smell gold from a long ways away, too.”
“We have to find the gold under all of this?” Simon asked.
“Unless you have a better idea,” she answered, readying herself for a new argument with Simon.
“Can’t you use, like, I don’t know, a spell or something?” Simon plead.
“A grain-moving spell? Oh, sure! That’s magic 101!”
“Fabulous!” Caradoc smiled and clapped his hands together.
“She’s being sarcastic, Caradoc,” Simon said. He started digging.
“Wait a minute,” Maille muttered. Her eyes darted around the cave. She smirked. “I could try something. Stand back, guys. Way, way back. This might get ugly.” Simon and the troll stood behind her. “If anyone else is in here with us, you’d better show yourself now or you’ll be getting much smaller in about ten seconds!” This made Simon and Caradoc back up a little more.
Maille didn’t move for a moment. Then she started to breathe heavily, pulled out her bat-wand and uttered the ugliest words Simon had ever heard.
A red haze shot out from her wand and covered the mounds of grain. Slowly, the piles began to peel away. As more grain moved, the cavern filled with an excruciatingly loud sound, like a billion locusts swarming down on them. The top two feet of grain slid across the room and rested against the far wall. Finally, the grain settled and the sound died down.
Maille was winded. She sat and put her head between her legs.
“What was that?” Simon asked, stunned.
“The Peeler. It’s meant to skin dead animals. Figured I’d give it a shot.”
“Splendid!” Caradoc shouted. They glanced up to see if the spell had yielded anything.
Indeed, across the cave was a single point of golden light flickering in the torchlight. But before they could take a step, two færies swept down from the shadows, blocking their way.
“Outta the way, ya varmints!” Caradoc roared. When the faeries just hovered there, getting uglier by the second, Caradoc’s angry face turned into Caradoc’s really worried face. “What day is it?” Caradoc asked, quietly.
“Friday,” Maille and Simon said together.
“Uh-oh,” all three muttered.
And right in front of their eyes the two færies bleated something and went at each other with a viciousness that would have done cats proud. The two disappeared into the grain with a thud. Then there was silence.
Caradoc and Maille started to back away. “Where are you going?” Simon said. “They took each other out! The coast is clear.”
“Simon! Back away!” Caradoc hollered.
Out of the grain emerged a much larger færie. More specifically, it was the two færies melded together. It had four eyes and four wings, though they were quickly becoming one big, revolting monstrosity. The four eyes became two and the creature shrieked in pain, swelling, mutating with every second that passed.
The party of three were almost backed up to the door when a roar of anger filled the cave. The faerie was only around five feet tall, but equally wide. Its gigantic fangs made Caradoc squeak in fright.
Then it came for them.
Maille reached for her wand but Simon knew she’d be too slow to match its speed. At a full sprint, he grabbed the bat from her hand, twirled on his feet and swung with all his might.
The færie flew back as fast as it had sprung forward and hit the far wall hard. It lay still. Within seconds it had transformed into two pixies again. They were sprawled over each other, out cold.
“Home run!” Maille yelled, arms raised. Caradoc started running for the door again. “Caradoc, where are you going?”
“You told us to run home!” Maille and Simon laughed.
“It’s a baseball term,” Maille said, twirling her bat.
Caradoc tried to chuckle but he didn’t think it was funny.
“You grab my bat again and I turn you into a booger,” Maille said to Simon, with a wink.
The troll slowly approached the shiny object jutting out of the grain. He felt the edges of a large golden box and heaved it up as if it were cardboard. Opening it revealed a messy pile of golden leaves.
Meet the team behind The Camelot Kids fantasy book series.