The King’s Cellars
Paula Millhouse, author of the Kingdoms of Chalvaren catches an awesome break and receives a distinguished invitation down into the bunker under Castle Elias by King Lachlan Elias. Her company for this hush-hush impromptu visit to the King’s Cellars is Prince Kort Elias, and Mia’s dragonlet, Magnus.
Paula: “Kort…? Are you sure he meant for me to follow you down here? To his private cave?”
Kort: “Yes. He asked for you specifically. Just keep close, and don’t ask too many questions. Let my father lead the tour of his cellars, okay?”
Paula: Shakes her head in agreement. “Right. Okay. What exactly are we doing here?”
Kort: “You wanted to know more about the Royal Mead my father brews, right? This is where my father does his thing.”
Paula: Magnus the dragonlet bumps into me, and shoves me forward into the center of the cool stone room. A flood of light from above us illuminates me in a spotlight. “Watch that snout of yours, dragon.” The room is filled with the sweet aroma of honey. King Lachlan ignores us and sets about shaking large clear bottles of what I expect to be his fermenting mead.
Magnus: “Sorry,” the dragonlet says, and skitters off into the dark recesses of the great stone hall. I worry about him. He has a penchant for getting into trouble.
King Lachlan waves at me: “Come over here, Paula, and look at what we’ve done.” Kort guides me toward his father. I go forward and look at the 5 gallon bottles Lachlan is shaking, taking care to attend to each one on a large fermenting rack.
Paula: “So, you brew mead, King Lachlan? Monks on Earth brewed Honey Wine in the middle ages. I love Mead!”
King Lachlan: He smiles as he tends each fermenting five gallon bottle, shaking the glass in his hands vigorously: “Not only Earth, Paula, but many cultures honor the ancient rite of brewing honey wine. Would you like to taste some of Castle Elias’ favorite brews?”
Paula: I nod my head yes. “So, honey, water, and yeast yield Mead. Tell me about your cellars, King Lachlan.” A rotund chef appears out of the shadows. I instantly recognize him as Chef Thorvid. Of course he’d be here, supporting the king. He’s done this job well for over twenty-five years. “Chef Thorvid. You refused to tell me about the King’s food, but what about his Mead?”
Chef Thorvid: The portly elf giggled and adjusted his white beret. “Well, the king’s cellars are a different subject all-together, Paula. Now that you have an official invitation for a tour, what would you like to know?”
Paula: The sound of pottery clashing to the stone floors interrupts our conversation. I turn as I overhear Kort yelling, “Magnus! Stop that! Get out of the honey! That’s reserved for my father’s Mead!”
Paula: I turn to the king and the chef. “Oh, dear. The dragonlet’s discovered the honey pots. Where do you get all of this?"
King Lachlan, smiling: “Don’t worry Kort. We’ll find more. Paula, we harvest honey from the numerous hives Chef Thorvid set up around Castle Elias. We cultivate hives here. Keeping bees alive means we all stay alive. They pollinate all our crops, and the sweet honey they make from the surrounding forest wildflowers ensure I have enough honey to collect to make my castle cellars burst with Mead.” He takes a flute of amber colored mead from Chef Thorvid’s pudgy hands and presents it to me. “Here, have a taste and tell me what you sense?”
Paula: I sip the offering. The King’s Mead is dry on my tongue, with an afterglow of sunshine, like warmed honey meeting hot, buttered, fresh-baked bread. I stare into Lachlan’s blue eyes. “It’s complex. The flavor is buttery, yet light, and fragrant.” As the Mead courses through my veins, tickling my lower legs all the way to my toes, I’m struck with the feeling this may be the best cocktail I’ve ever tasted. “Oh. My. That’s powerful, King Lachlan.”
Chef Thorvid’s face pinks up, his smile lighting his eyes. “15% ABV, my dear. Watch yourself. That’s a heady concoction.”
King Lachlan smiles broadly, and takes my hands in his. “Wait until you taste my batch of Mead flavored with Rose Petals. That’s Queen Elissabet’s favorite. Thorvid, pour Paula a glass of the Queen’s Rose Wine this instant. It’s truly a labor of love. We’re not leaving this cellar without a bottle for her to take up to her room.”
Paula: I blush. “Yes, please. I’d love to taste the Queen’s Mead.” Off behind me another clash of pottery hitting the stone floors of the castle hammers my head. I hear Kort scream at Magnus. “Stop upsetting those crocks, Dragon. Chef Thorvid will have your hide for eating the King’s honey!”
Lachlan looks over my shoulder, his face clouded with dismay. Chef Thorvid raises both fists in disdain, and lumbers off to intercede on the king’s behalf. “Can’t you control that dragonlet, Kort? For God’s sake – where’s Mia when we need her? Get him out of the King’s honey!”
Paula: I turn around to see the dragonlet scooping up clawfuls of precious honey from overturned pots and stuffing his mouth with the viscous, amber liquid. I can’t help but laugh at the sight. The dragonlet wants what he wants. I sip the first amazing taste of Queen Elissabet’s Rose Petal Mead as I watch Chef Thorvid, Kort, and King Lachlan attempt to convince Magnus to give up the Royal Honey.
Queen Elissabet’s Rose Flowered Mead Recipe:
Rose Petal Mead
• 12 lbs. of Elven Honey
• 4 gallons of local spring water
• 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient – Elven Bright Sugar with B-vitamins and a touch of magic
• 2 Tbsp of Chef Thorvid’s proprietary Champagne yeast
Mix all ingredients together at room temperature, oxygenate, and allow to blow off after 24-48 hours of fermentation in sterilized glass container with air lock. Let ferment for 2-3 weeks.
Re-rack into sterilized container and feed with more Elven Bright Sugar and a touch of magic.
Right before your final racking you add two cups fresh Queen’s Rose Petals per gallon of mead, harvested at midnight by the light of a full moon.
Let them simply float around until they are clearish and settling to the bottom, then filter your mead and bottle. This will give your Queen’s Mead a rose-like smell as well as the taste of rose. Prep for the rose petals is rather simple - just softly wash them off with Elven Spring Water. No need to boil or press, as you want the flavor to be a gentle one, and not too over-powering.
Re-rack X 3. If you can keep your Queen out of the batch it’s best bottled after seven precious months of fermentation.
A Kingdom of Chalvaren Romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing
THE DRAGONSTONE HAS RETURNED
With the love of Kort, Chalvaren’s warrior-prince heir, Mia Ansgar will seize her birthright and become the great dragon-riding wizardess prophesied to free that elven kingdom from her embittered sorceress kin.
TO ASCEND TRIUMPHANT
Twenty-five years ago, Theo Ansgar abandoned the Kingdom of Chalvaren for a hiding place on another world. Some called him traitor. Some, thief. Now his fully grown daughter Mia must return to the land of her birth...and their war.
It was the elf prince Kort Elias who brought her back. Theirs was an instant connection, an inescapable union of body, soul and sorcery, reminding Mia of what she truly is, and what she must become. There is also Magnus, destined to be more potent than any wyrm Chalvaren has ever seen, a three-day-old dragonlet Mia must nurture and then ride. And then there is the Dragonstone, an artifact of power nonpareil. Joined, they can tip the scales of battle against the wraith-possessed forces of darkness, of Mia’s own embittered kin. Redemption will be offered, the protected will become the protector, and an ancient prophecy will come to fruition, but only righteous love can conquer all.
“You said we could unite our auras and free the Dragonstone from my father’s protections…?”
Kort’s smile broadened. “That amethyst is the largest chunk of dragon ore ever known to the elves of Chalvaren. The legend around it, if you go in for that sort of thing, is that dragons themselves tore it from the Drahkos Mountains.”
It was luminescent, the most beautiful jewel Mia had ever seen. She blinked, her mother’s words pouring through her mind. Your One True Love… If she was willing to risk being forever alone.
Kort whispered close in her ear, “It’s a conduit for energy of all kinds, Mia. Plus it has a special attunement to…” He eyed her meaningfully. “The physical.”
She gulped. “So…? How, exactly…? I mean…” She searched Kort’s eyes and smoothed her other hand down the skirt of her purple dress to dry her palm. “What are you proposing we do to liberate the thing?”
Kort pulled her into a kiss.
Mia let him.
Their magic auras mingled, and she nearly lost her breath. She trembled in his arms and arched her chest into his. Kort held her tight, his hands drifting down her back. She let the warmth of his body flush through her, and the spark of desire she’d felt earlier when they melded their auras to cast the spell over Magnus burst into full flame. His touch destroyed her with need, and she pressed closer, mindless, reveling in the first kiss she’d ever experienced.
He plundered her mouth with his tongue, and Mia reveled in his mastery. When Kort broke away, she arched her neck so he could kiss her neck and he trailed hot moist kisses up to the crest of one pointed ear.
“Let me love you, Mia. You don’t belong here. You belong with me. Let’s use the power of our auras at the height of ecstasy to release the Dragonstone and go home.”
At the height of ecstasy? Was he saying they would make love?
Whatever this magic was—whatever its intent and whatever its danger—Mia wanted more. All of this had been foretold by her parents. Magnus had led Kort to find her.
She was ready to see where he led.
About the Author:
Paula Millhouse grew up in Savannah, Georgia where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, and the Intracoastal Waterway. As a child, Paula soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the south.
Paula lives with her husband at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their pack and pride of furry babies. In the southern tradition of storytellers, she loves sharing the lives of her characters with readers, and following her muse on the quest for happily-ever-afters in thrilling romantic fiction.