10 Statements – Wendy Unsworth @WendyUnsworth

Wendy Unsworth spent her early years in Lincolnshire, England where she first developed a love of the countryside and wildlife. She is a passionate traveller and collector of new experiences, having lived for fourteen years in Central and Eastern Africa. 

Writing has always been a part of her life; she began to work seriously on her first published novel, The Palaver Tree, in 2011. This story is a psychological drama based in the fictional, Cornish village of Berriwood, though it does borrow heavily from her experiences in Africa where much of the action takes place. There have been two more novels in the series. Beneathwood (2016) and Dirty Work (2017).

 

Find me… I would love to hear from you:

Website:  https://wendyunsworth.wordpress.com/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625095.Wendy_Unsworth

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WendyUnsworth

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WendyUnsworthAuthor/

 

My personal motto:

I do like quotes and inspirational sayings. If I was to adopt one as a motto I think it would be:  “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass but about learning to dance in the rain.”

 

10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with… Tea. Two cups, while I browse emails and generally rouse myself for the day ahead.
  2. I lose track of time when I am successfully lost in creativity, be it writing, knitting or sewing or working in my garden.
  3. I have always… been excited by travel and new experiences.
  4. I have never… been into outer space or invited the join the SAS and, though I would like to, I have lost hope and expect that I never will!
  5. Home means to me… comfort and a special place to create my own well being. A place to welcome family and friends.
  6. I am inspired by… determination to win through despite the odds.
  7. I would like to meet… oh, tricky! There are so many. For all the amazing stories he could tell, David Attenborough.
  8. My worst character trait… The inability to ever complete a project to my satisfaction.
  9. My best character trait… I like to think I work hard for myself and others.
  10. The best advice I was given… my sister remarked many years ago that, though I wasn’t rich, I lived as if I was. I took this as a never to be forgotten complement and as advice. Enjoying the good things in life, family, friends and special places makes me rich.

Dirty Work (Berriwood Series, #3)

A shallow grave.
A body to find.
But no one is looking.

Caroline Duke and her sister-in-law Marcie lead very different lives, but blood is thicker than water; they are close, they share things. Husband troubles.

Marcie has everything she could possibly want, funded by Nathan’s high-powered city job. She pays for her privileged position in lonely days and nights, while her husband works away.

Caroline is struggling with two jobs and out-of-work Pete, who brings in no money at all. He is never home either. He spends his evenings in bars and clubs and the occasional ditch.

But everything in the Duke family is set to change. And for the better. Pete declares he has given up drinking for good and is getting a job. Nathan announces his intention to work less, spend more time with Marcie.

A birthday dinner should be the perfect occasion to bring the four together. But when is a party not a party? When someone ends up dead.

Print length:  264 pages

Published:  2017-09-30

Buy linksbooks2read.com/u/31MDMr

Excerpt:

The fingers twitched momentarily; a slight, almost indiscernible movement, and he noted, with mild interest, that she was not quite dead.

The nails, exquisitely manicured, though too bling for his own, more minimal tastes, were torn, the hand traumatised. Ragged skin hung like slivers of grated cheese, ruched and curled. The thumb appeared to be curiously displaced.

Now, as he watched, the man paused; took a moment to consider his night’s good work. And it had been good, thorough and satisfying, though… Credit where credit’s due, he silently acknowledged, with a nod toward the fingers that still fired tiny, random gestures, almost reminiscent of a greeting…

The bitch had fought. 

Even as her incapacity had begun to take hold, it had not deterred her from a relentless drawing of breath; the stuff of life sucked up with desperate, dogged determination. She had surprised him, impressed him. And though there was no longer any point to her feeble struggle, he understood this last, desperate flicker; could put himself in her position, so to speak, prone and confused, the earth closing in around her. Her muddied thoughts, he fancied, were still of life and he flattered himself to believe, also of him.


 

Beneathwood (Berriwood Series, #2)

A Cornish house, nothing more; slate and granite, tile and wood.

When Olivia Benson hears that her father has unexpectedly inherited Beneathwood she urges him to sell and be rid of it. She has never liked the dark and rambling old house and she has some good reasons…
… amongst them, the terrible sight of Auntie Edith, lying on the floor, smouldering.

But Olivia’s father has no such qualms. New retiree, Gordon Carroll, is eager to take up the challenge of renovation and, as he brings Beneathwood back to life, he begins to see the house not only as an asset but as home.

Beryl Carroll loves Beneathwood too… at least, she thinks she does. But when a box appears, seemingly out of nowhere, stuffed with remnants from her past, she begins to wonder if it is only she and her husband who have moved in.

Print length:  269 pages

Published:  2016-02-14

Buy links:  books2read.com/u/bpWqGX


 

The Palaver Tree (Berriwood Series, #1)

Berriwood Village, Cornwall, England; quiet, uneventful like the pace of schoolteacher Ellie’s selfless, modest existence until John Hathaway stops to ask directions. Their chance meeting catapults her into a new role as wife of a wealthy businessman and resident of the most prestigious home in the area, the majestic Calico House.
But Gabriel Cole is coming to the village, and his presence will set into motion a chain of events that bring dramatic change to Ellie’s life again.

In the poor, chaotic but captivating surroundings of Central Africa, Ellie teaches at Cole’s school, The Hope Foundation. She finds friendship and purpose and, perhaps for the first time, real satisfaction and love in her life.

But this new peace and happiness is short-lived. As Ducana descends into political chaos Ellie is torn by doubt. Is the Hope Foundation really the benevolent, caring institution she first believed it to be? And is headmaster Gabriel Cole really their guardian angel?

Ellie’s unquestioning belief in fate and fair play are slowly shattered as she learns that others, close to her, have been drawn into the same web of manipulation and deceit.

Ellie is plagued by the injustice of what has happened, until the moment comes when she is presented with the choice to stubbornly hold on to her principles or take matters into her own hands…

Print length:  368 pages

Published:  2012-01-23

Buy links:  books2read.com/u/bPJ71r

 

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Blessed Mayhem (The Mayhem Series, #2) by Sue Coletta #RBRT #BookReview @SueColetta1

 

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

A chance encounter …a deadly predicament …a lethal decision.

The infamous Mr. Mayhem is not your average serial killer. Reminiscent of the beloved Hannibal Lecter, minus his thirst for flesh—because eating humans is just plain rude—Mr. Mayhem storms on the scene with style, grace, elegance, and a zest for life unlike any other. Impeccable manners also help. He may commit murder, but there’s no reason to be impolite about it.

Accompanied by his loyal crow companions, Poe, Allan, and Edgar, his crimes strike fear in the hearts and minds of folks across Massachusetts’ North Shore. When Shawnee Daniels—cat burglar extraordinaire and forensic hacker for the police—meets Mayhem in the dark, she piques his curiosity. Sadly for her, she leaves behind an item best left undiscovered. Or is it serendipity by design?

Color him curious, but he yearns to examine the psychology behind her life choices, tough girl routine, witty banter, and unique double-life. In a different time and place they may even become friends. But unfortunately, their predicament defines the risk.

The stakes are too high to stop now.

For reasons authorities cannot fathom, these seemingly unrelated murders will go down in history as the most impressive killing regime of all time. His coup de grâce, if you will. Even if it means permanently erasing Ms. Daniels from the equation. All the pieces are there if the authorities look hard enough. The question is, will they? The only new wrinkle is Shawnee Daniels, and she may be his toughest opponent yet …if she’s clever enough to play the game.

Genre(s): Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
> Thrillers > Crime
Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
> Thrillers & Suspense > Crime > Serial Killers
> Thrillers & Suspense > Crime > Murder
Series: The Mayhem Series, #2
Length: 260 pages
Release date: 2017-08-09

Teaser


“That’s my good boy.”

As he admired his handiwork, he enjoyed his celebratory cigarette. Drag after drag he leaned against a tree, staring at the glorious sight while Poe gorged on honeydew melon, cherries, cantaloupe, and tangerine.

With this murder scene, he really outdid himself.


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Shawnee Daniels, still leading a double life and – being immune to feedback is suboptimal when a serial killer is near.

With Blessed Mayhem, Sue Coletta has once again created an incredibly chilling thriller with a stubborn young woman stalked by a serial killer. It is a very compelling read, inevitably drawing you in as the story proceeds. Sue Coletta paints a clear picture of the main characters’ mindsets – making the readers acquainted with them – while the story evolves. I was drawn rather close to Shawnee (despite her stubbornness) and Levaughn. The main characters are very complex – three-dimensional, believable with their flaws and virtues; sometimes too believable for comfort. The story is cleverly elaborated and has a great flow. Sue Coletta’s thorough research shows; you find proof throughout the story.

This is a book for you if you like psychological suspense, thrillers with serial killers, stubborn characters, food for thought, and if you are a fan of excellently researched topics.

Highly recommended – enjoy the thrill!

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Fast
POV First person – past tense
Language 😳
Violence 😳 – 😡
Sexual content 😳

 

About the author

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is the author of Wings of Mayhem (Crossroad Press), MARRED (Tirgearr Publishing), The Rendering, Crime Writer’s Research, and 60 Ways to Murder Your Characters.

A multi-published author in numerous anthologies, her forensics articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly; her flash fiction in OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive, One Hundred Voices (Centum Publishing), and in the upcoming dark fiction anthology, RUN.

In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue’s the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science, and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter.

You can learn more about Sue and her books at:  www.suecoletta.com

 

Connect with the author:


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Blessed Mayhem?  Or – if you did not yet read Blessed Mayhem – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

Karen_RBRT

rosies-book-review-team-1

 

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10 Statements – Michael Okon

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling is his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Find me…

michaelokon.com

@IAmMichaelOkon

facebook.com/IAmMichaelOko n

snapchat.com/add/iammichaelokon

twitter.com/IAmMichaelOkon

instagram.com/iammichaelokon

 

My personal motto:

“There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates and fills the interspaces of the Universe. A thought in this substance produces the thing that is imaged by the thought.”

 

10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with…  bacon, eggs and cheese, then research and development of my subject.
  2. I lose track of time when I’m playing video games with my kids.
  3. I have always… known I was going to be entertaining people.
  4. I have never… done drugs.
  5. Home means to me… being around our backyard fire pit with my wife and kids.
  6. I am inspired by… classic horror movies.
  7. I would like to meet… Steven Spielberg.
  8. My worst character trait… I bite the inside of my lip when I’m deep in thought.
  9. My best character trait… I can make a joke and laugh at any situation.
  10. The best advice I was given… “Eat bacon. Don’t jog.”

Monsterland

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

Print length:  219 pages

To be published:  2017-10-13

Buy links eBook:  books2read.com/u/4XorkN

Books
> Teens > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Horror > Monsters
Kindle eBooks
> Children’s eBooks > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Fantasy & Magic > Coming of Age
> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Paranormal > Vampires

 

Halloween is Murder (McKinley Mysteries, #11) by Carolyn Arnold

 

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

Beware of all that goes bump in the night…

Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.

But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.

As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.

Genre(s): Kindle eBooks
> Literature & Fiction > Humor & Satire > General Humor
> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Cozy
Books
> Literature & Fiction > Humor & Satire > Humorous
Series: McKinley Mysteries, #11
Length: 165 pages
Release date: 2017-10-03

 

Teaser


Sara’s own heart swelled listening to her husband say that.

“Aw, how beautifully put,” Chloe said. “And this here behind you-” she walked toward the baked goods “-did you two bake all these goodies, as well?”


My Opinion

The eleventh book of the McKinley Mysteries series starts with a Haunted House event – its creators, Sara and Sean McKinley are once again working for a good cause. The surprising death of the reporter covering their event arouses Sara’s suspicion.

With Halloween is Murder, Carolyn Arnold has created the eleventh instalment of the McKinley Mysteries series. Like its predecessors, this is a very enjoyable read. Sean did not really want to ‘take over’ a new case… Suddenly they find themselves in the middle of their next mystery, aided by their tried-and-trusted team. Halloween is Murder is entertaining with a thrill, a steady read with charming main characters, secondary characters of sufficient depth. I love how Sara craves for her coffee – no matter what the case throws at her and Sean.

This book is for you if you like cosy mysteries, series, charming, and quirky characters, and sleuths who will not give up.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:
Violence :mrgreen:
Sexual content :mrgreen:

 

About the author

Carolyn Arnold’s love for writing dates back to her teen years, but her passion was reignited in 2006 when a fellow employee said “tell me a story.” Since then Carolyn has never looked back.

TIES THAT BIND, the first in her Madison Knight Series, was published in 2011 and it became a Kindle Best Seller, reaching the top 100 in Police Procedurals in the US and in the UK. Her writing has been compared to New York Times Bestsellers such as JD Robb, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and more.

Carolyn was born in 1976 in a rural town of Ontario, Canada. She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and lives with her husband, and two beagles in a city near Toronto.

 

Connect with the Author:


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Halloween is Murder?  Or – if you did not yet read Halloween is Murder – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

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10 Statements – Saiswaroopa Iyer

 

 

Formerly an analyst with a Venture capital firm, Saiswaroopa’s interests include Startups, Economics, Carnatic Music, Philosophy, Politics, History and Literature of India. She won a state level gold medal from TTD in rendering Annamacharya Kritis. She holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

She currently lives in London and loves to read and write.

 

Find me…

Website:  https://saiswaroopa.com/
Twitter:   https://twitter.com/Sai_swaroopa
Amazon:  Saiswaroopa Iyer
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSaiswaroopa/
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14706559.Saiswaroopa_Iyer
 

My personal motto:

“To discover the lesser known characters and stories from Indian literature, history, scriptures and folklore and explore them as subjects of my future works.”

 

10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with…  a cup of Chai! Creativity is hidden in the leaves of tea! 😀
  2. I lose track of time when I am with my mother or with a favourite book!
  3. I have always… been a just in time person. Believed I can figure out things on the go.
  4. I have never… planned very early (Now I know these are very relative statements. But there is a chance that things have been changing in the recent times).
  5. Home means to me… where my family is. I am what I am because of them.
  6. I am inspired by… those who are focused and positive.
  7. I would like to meet… self-made achievers. They always have actionable advice that respects my time and theirs.
  8. My worst character trait… impatience. Looking for results ‘too soon’ at times.
  9. My best character trait… optimism.
  10. The best advice I was given… (Will limit it to writing related advice)…”To believe in my characters guiding my story.”

 

Avishi

Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of Rig Veda
But forgotten to the memory of India
The Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement, but at a high cost.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

If stories about ancient India, especially those with strong women characters interest you, then Avishi is a story you must read!
Saiswaroopa Iyer is an IITian and Venture Capital professional turned author. Her début novel Abhaya, published in 2015, was a tale set in the Mahabharata period, exploring the legend of Narakasura Vadha. She likes to focus and expand on ancient Indian stories with strong female characters. She tweets @Sai_swaroopa.

Print length:  388 pages

Published:  2017-08-12

Buy link eBooks:  books2read.com/u/ml5EW9


An Excerpt

“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”

“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard.

“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.

Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child.

“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded.

Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out.

The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them.

As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead.

General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”

“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door.

“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised.

The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy.

“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”

“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”

“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm.

The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”

Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”

Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”

“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”

“That does not answer my question.”

“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?”

The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure.

When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”

“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”

Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern.

“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet.

The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding.

“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon.

The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?”

“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink.

She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love…” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment.

It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!

“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away.

He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him.

That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life.

At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved.

The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.

“K… King…”

Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move.

“Finish him!” The General shout behind him.

Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?

Sukratu would never know.


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