Royal & Piper #1

Shadow & Crown

by E. L. Tenenbaum

Shadow & Crown by E. L. Tenenbaum

Over a year ago, the Piper of HameLonn disappeared into myth and legend...

In the Kingdom of AhrenCairn, the late king’s sister watches jealously as his crown and conduit are passed to his young daughter. From now, Evalena vows, she will take what she has not been given.

Deep in the Southlands, a farmhand stumbles across a lost girl in an overgrown field and arranges shelter for her. Though she shares little about herself, Quirin knows Cal’s different from others. Unwilling to be entangled in someone else’s problems, Quirin tries to keep his distance from Cal, but as little incidents force them together, he begins to suspect she’s hiding a powerful secret.

Worse, Quirin’s pretty certain Cal knows he is too.

First of a new fantasy trilogy based on the legend of the Pied Piper.




Fairy Tale Retelling


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One Year Prior

The body tumbled to the ground before the last note was played, a fierce gust of wind snatching the sound away before it could linger. The corpse joined the three others without life because of a simple tune, a weaving of notes soft on the ear yet agony for its targets as its glowing strands seeped into their veins and stole the air from their blood. Modest as the melody was, no musician could quite find its measure, neither with strings nor percussion nor woodwind nor brass. Even as the refrain teased at the fingertips, its shape remained beyond form.

A green-clad leg wrapped in a worn leather boot stepped over the body, crunching quietly into the icy ground before being followed by its pair. There was no hesitation as they stepped past the bodies blocking their path, an upward winding trail leading into the jagged peaks and hair-raising howls of a perilous mountain pass.

The intent had been to leave no evidence of passage, but there was naught else for a man to do when set upon by four men up to no good. Especially a man on the run. He knew his king would sense what he’d done, but prayed he would not hunt him. The greater threat came from certain nobles of His Majesty’s court, aggrieved as they might claim to be. Though, the bodies would soon freeze to the ground and the thick snow would blanket them as it had the trail. It would be a long while until the dead were found.

As the path grew steeper, the fugitive pressed harder to meet the climb. He paused only once on the path. Paused long enough to wrest a final backward glance of the homeland he was forced to flee. The view from his vantage should have been glorious, a yawning vista of a fertile kingdom speckled with glittering lakes and etched throughout with sturdy roadways, but little was visible beyond the thick whirling snow.

The man turned to restart his trek, then stopped and stared at the instrument still clutched in his scarred hand. A weapon made without steel or stone, but even more lethal in its use. Since he’d possessed it, he’d needed neither the sharp knife in his belt nor the taut bow across his back for protection, but, faithful a friend as the musical weapon had been, he could not use it now. He couldn’t risk losing it either.

Abruptly, his hand shot to the air and viciously slashed a downward diagonal. In a spark of golden threads, a rift tore open, and he stashed the instrument in its folds. He removed his hand, and the opening vanished. Then he resumed his treacherous climb, torso near doubled over as he fought the raging winds.

The man was soon lost in the tempest that was the Tulay Mountain Pass. And with him, the much rumored about Piper of HameLonn disappeared deeper into myth and legend.



She watched her brother expel his final breath, the last of his life leaving him when a hitch cut into his peaceful exhale. The nobles gathered for his final moments unwittingly released a collective shudder as they felt the king’s hold over their LightForce depart with him, a sinking moment into a gaping emptiness before their limited powers came flooding back in transference to his heir.

King BallaMor had been ill six months, his health rapidly deteriorating until he could no longer walk, talk, lift his head, eat. Knowing the end was imminent, those closest to him had been assembled in his rooms since early morning, so he would leave the world surrounded by family and friends.

From her designated place closest to the king’s bed, befitting her position of only sister, Evalena shifted her gaze to His Majesty’s two daughters. They were seated on either side of their father, each tightly clutching one of his hands as tears trickled down their young faces. The aunt studied her nieces as if they were not related.

The younger daughter was growing notably prettier, enough that she would be a highly sought-after pawn in the game of advantageous royal marriages. She was a sweet girl too, and young enough that her bubbly personality hadn’t yet fizzled from the malice and maneuverings that come with years and years at court.

The same could not be said of the older sister. The heir. The one who would step into the role robbed from her aunt the moment she’d been born to the now-deceased king. Her niece, young, inexperienced, and so utterly, vulgarly plain was the one who would sit on the throne and wear the crown of AhrenCairn. The one who would control the entirety of the kingdom’s LightForce as the guardian of its conduit. Her brother hadn’t even the decency to appoint his sister regent until his daughter was older and more fit to rule.

All her life, Evalena had expected to be in her niece’s place as queen and protector of the kingdom. The one to bestow extra might to its army, the one to channel blessing and prosperity to all its inhabitants. The one to direct power to whichever royal she so pleased.

She flexed her fingers, feeling the LightForce reborn in her veins. She’d never seen the conduit, only an heir ever did, but she assumed it was close, assumed her brother must have kept it near until his untimely demise. She felt the familiar, steady surge of its power, bright threads of light calling to her royal blood, which eagerly sang back, thirsting for more. She turned her palm up but kept the threads in check, opening and closing her fist so they delightedly wove across her fingers.

What she held, what she could do with it, was but a pittance of the conduit’s power. Her abilities were mere tricks and amusements compared to what the monarch could do.

But with the king’s passing, Evalena was once more made to watch as the life that should have been hers was given to someone else. All that power. All that potential. All denied her, again.

Evalena swore she would not abide the slight this time; she would not end her days frustrated and embittered over what could have been.

And so, as the trumpets sounded from the ramparts and the criers spread the word in the streets, as the turrets were draped with black flags of grief and news of the king’s death spread to every corner of the kingdom and beyond, Evalena dutifully painted her face in colors of mourning and quietly began to plan.


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