“The only one in this castle that won’t eat you on sight”

I recently turned in my final edit for the Beanstalk and Beyond, being volume 1 of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer.

 

I am posting short excerpts from that work at random intervals. This is one of them.

Art by Tony Padegimas
Then, the great hand [of the ogress] came for me once more. “Now, don’t do anything foolish like squirming or screaming. I’m the only one in this castle that won’t eat you on sight.”

Jack meets the Cockatrice

In this excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Beanstalk and Beyond, the Ogress has imprisoned Jack in the giant chicken coop, where he discovers that he is not the only non-chicken trapped within.

Cockatrice scan

 

When I have told this story in the past, I typically described the bird as a hen or a goose. Truth is far stranger; I have not seen anything like this bird before or since. In the moonlight, it seemed about the size of a good goose, but parts of its head had scales instead of feathers. Its eyes glowed amber, like a dragon’s, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to stare into such a gaze, and its beak had teeth.

“We must escape tonight, before sunlight,” that beak announced.

“Wha-aaw!” I jumped, for I was yet unaccustomed to animals starting conversations with me.“You talk.”

“Of course I talk; I’m a cockatrice. And I am relieved that you speak some words as well. You’re a human, right? Funny, I’d always imagined your kind larger and hairier. No matter. We must escape tonight.”

 

 

The Foolhardy Dolts

In this excerpt from Beanstalk and Beyond,  Jack relates the tale of the giant’s battle with local militia, partly from overhearing the giant tell it while Jack hides in the kettle.

foolhardy dolt
Art by Tony Padegimas

Rheghed, the third son of Merchion Gul, was eager to prove himself worthy of more than the scraps of land he might otherwise inherit should Merchion the Lean ever actually pass on. Perhaps he felt this was that chance.

“The foolhardy dolts marched right up to me in an open field.” The giant said as the ogress plopped the kettle on some high counter somewhere. “The one on horseback dared speak to me, shouting some nonsense about how those were his cows and I had no right to take them. I told him what I thought of that, and then he and his men starting hurling their pointed sticks.”

Beanstalk and Beyond Preview 7 of several

I recently turned in my final edit for the Beanstalk and Beyond, being volume 1 of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer.

I am posting short excerpts from that work at random intervals. This is one of them.

Since the giants have fallen asleep without eating him, Jack makes the most of his opportunity.

I’d like to say I spent even a moment considering the moral implications of stealing a hat full of gold coins from my hosts, but starving peasants waste no time on such thoughts. That the giant was a hate-filled tyrant intent on destroying humanity had nothing to do with my decision.  I took the gold because I could reach it, and my only reservations had to do with how much I could carry.

It would be many years before I considered such matters differently.

[…]

I have often wondered how my life might have differed if I had done the sensible thing and climbed down the beanstalk then and there. But, naturally, the poor peasant boy elected to go back and get another hat full of gold.

Beanstalk and Beyond preview 6 of several

I recently turned in my final edit for the Beanstalk and Beyond, being volume 1 of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer.

I am posting short excerpts from that work at random intervals. This is one of them.

Jack is hiding from his gigantic hosts inside a kettle on top of their table.

“ENOUGH!” He slammed the table hard enough to bounce my head into the top of the kettle. The kettle, in turn, began to wobble and I soon discovered the hard way how close to the edge I really was. It was tipping over as the giant bellowed, “It is my land they ravage, and always has been! So they discovered when … “

I don’t know how he finished that sentence being occupied myself with trying not to tumble out of the pot as it fell to the slate floor.

All of my bones felt like they suddenly shifted to the wrong side of my body, and the deafening clang echoed like the inside of a bell. So I lay inside the pot, shaking and effectively deaf, with my only fortune being the open end had rolled facing away from the my quarrelsome hosts.

Beanstalk and Beyond Preview 5 of several

I recently turned in my final edit for the Beanstalk and Beyond, being volume 1 of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer.

I am posting short excerpts from that work at random intervals. This is one of them.

Jack hides inside a kettle in the giant’s castle, because the owner has returned home.

“Humans!” He spat. “The land below is riddled with the muck-dwelling vermin. They’ve driven all the decent game from these lands. There used to be mammoth and bison in these hills, as commons as the stones. Now there dwells only these stupid, stunted beasts.”  I heard the thud of three enormous carcasses slamming onto the table. The kettle bounced around me.

“Cows. Hmm. Not much, but they will do. I can manage a decent stew from them.”

“Are we reduced to stew already? Curse it all!”

Beanstalk and Beyond preview 4 of several

I recently turned in my final edit for the Beanstalk and Beyond, being volume 1 of the Autobiography of Jack the Giant Killer.

I am posting short excerpts from that work at random intervals. This is one of them

The Ogress (the giant’s wife) is explaining some history to Jack.

“Long ago,” she continued, “While your like was just poking their tiny heads out of caves, this world belonged to the giants. Not the demented cretins you might encounter these days, but true Giants, like my husband. Thousands of them who could all trace their mighty lineage to the Titans themselves.”