Fire Under the Mountain
Some things are worse than death. Helena Brandywine had what many would consider an idyllic, pampered life during the Gilded Age in San Francisco. But after discovering ugly truths about her family and community, she found the estate and trappings of wealth a Gilded Cage, from which she broke free to search for her parents. Old foes lurk behind every corner while new forces line up against her. An immortal dragon she accidentally released continues to harass her. Unsure who she can trust, she expects betrayal amongst her closest allies. Who are the shadowy figures set against her? Will Helena be able to rescue her parents? Will she die trying? Or worse, end up in an insane asylum? Don't miss Fire Under the Mountain, the second of the Helena Brandywine Series by Greg Alldredge, if you like Adventure and Fantasy with a strong female hero, then this Young Adult Steampunk novel will have you turning the pages! Come check it out!
Fire Under the Mountain
On a Mountain:
Helena became captivated by the mountains in the distance, so entranced she didn't realize she wasn't alone until she heard a woman's voice behind her speaking in angry Chinese.
Helena laid low, spinning to watch a beautiful young Chinese woman dressed in emerald green traditional flowing robes hitting herself on the forehead with the pommel of her sword. She didn't identify the moves, but Helena recognized she worked on a very complex series of sword movements. Captivated, she continued to watch until the Chinese woman slipped on the wet grass. Helena couldn't help herself but giggle when the woman fell on her posterior.
The Chinese woman spoke rapidly as she jumped to her feet sword at the qiánwèi or en-garde in any language.
Helena wasn't sure what to make of the woman. However, she had seen how fast she might be attacked if she didn't answer correctly. She decided surrender was the better option, quickly standing, and raising her hands, she tried speaking to the woman, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh, but when you fell, I found it impossible not to." Helena used the softest, calm voice she had.
"You are mortal, and Westerner? You don't belong here." The woman advanced sword still at the ready. "Tell me who you are, and you might live to see the sunset."
"My name is Helena Brandywine. I'm not sure where I am, however, you don't need to threaten me since I am unarmed, and you clearly have the advantage."
"The white devil has a sharp tongue in her mouth. You think you can challenge me? I've dealt with mortals before, I will surely deal with them again."
"Again, I'm unarmed, and I've surrendered. I'm not sure why you're so angry at me. I don't even know your name."
"You don't know my name? Everyone knows my name, I am Greenie. Greatest magician in these or any other lands."
Helena thought the woman was more than a little mental. "Then you shouldn't fear me, as you say I am simply a mortal, in your strange land."
"And now you think I'm strange? I've had enough of your insults. I demand satisfaction." With the last statement, Greenie slapped the flat of her sword against the palm of her hand and separated it into two swords. "If you think you are so superior, standby to defend yourself."
Helena wasn't sure how she had ended up in this strange land being challenged to a duel by an obviously deranged individual. However, she tired of the game. "If you feel hell-bent on fighting, give me a sword, and I will do my best to defend myself. But I want you to know I have no quarrel with you, I simply want to go home."
Greenie lobbed the Chinese broadsword handle first towards Helena which she deftly caught and did three swooshes in front of her feeling its weight.
"It appears you enjoy some skill with a blade, maybe you are more than meets the eye?"
Dropping into a street fighting pose, Sigmund had taught her she used her left-hand to motion towards Greenie while saying, "Only one way to find out."
A flash of anger flickered in Greenie's eyes, she hastily charged Helena sword raised high for a cleaving blow.
Helena waited until she was positive the woman attacking had committed her full force, taking her cue, she calmly stepped to the right out of her way. Her sword still at the ready in case the charge turned into a ruse. Helena did fight the urge to slap the woman on the butt as she rushed by, fearing it would add too much insult to injury.
Greenie continued past her three strides before abruptly turning. The anger that once flashed now burned bright, she began mumbling under her breath the clouds grew dark over the small clearing.
Goosebumps rose on Helena's arm, the air temperature falling as a billowing dark cloud blocked the sun, she was sure she caught the rumble of thunder overhead growing closer. The hair rising with the growing static charge. Anticipa