(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard. Orlandrea is written by OJ Shefer.)
Kelly sat on a low branch of a tree in the palace garden of Cuskelom, and she leaned back against the trunk of the tree and closed her eyes. Even though this entire place was her imagination, in this way she was able to be everywhere at once. She saw Theran in a brawl in Athorim with Vixen standing back twisting her knives—waiting for the right time to intervene. In the king’s chambers here in Cuskelom, Heldon counseled his brother, the king, over a game of chess. Erita walked through her underground chambers beneath the Cuskelom palace, lighting candles and prepping for her evening ritual into the realm of magic.
No matter where Kelly looked, she couldn’t locate Lorrek, but he had the ability to cloak himself from her. Yes, she could sense him, but simply couldn’t see him.
Suddenly, magic shifted in front of her, and Kelly opened her eyes as she saw a portal open in the clearing. A smile touched her face. Even though she couldn’t see Lorrek, she knew he was just as aware of her and everything she was doing as she was aware of him. That was why he opened the portal here since he knew someone from her own world would be seeking passage here.
Pushing herself off the branch, Kelly landed lightly on her feet and stood in front of the portal as it rippled and Orlandrea passed through. She greeted her with a warm smile. “Hello! Welcome. I trust you’re well today?”
Wide eyed and slightly unsure of what just happened, Orlandrea smiled at Kelly and quickly glanced at her surroundings. “Whoa. I mean hi. Thank you. I’m great. Lorrek did that didn’t he?” She waved her arms around trying to indicate the portal that she had just passed through.
Kelly beamed. “Yep! He’s around. Don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance.” She winked but then motioned to their surroundings. “Care for a walk through the gardens? Mind you though, these aren’t your ordinary palace gardens back in our world. If you’d like, I can show you something really beautiful! We can talk while we walk.”
Orlandrea wanted to be polite and look at Kelly when she answered, but “uh huh” was all that came out of her mouth as she continued to look around. Her curiosity was going to get the best of her.
Kelly chuckled and motioned for her to follow. “Come on! There’s so much more to see.” She wondered if she would have to grab Orlandrea’s arm and drag her along, but then her visitor moved to follow her, and Kelly reminded herself to walk slower–didn’t want what happened in the last interview to happen again.
“So…” she glanced over her shoulder at Orlandrea as they walked down the beaten paths of this enchanted woods. “Tell me about yourself. What is it that you do? How does it tie into you being a writer?”
Orlandrea grinned realizing that she needed to keep up with Kelly’s pace. “Oh. I’m a homeschool mom.” She said quickly “But I’m in between jobs right now. Divorce kinda does that to you.” She laughed. “But I’ve been writing since 5th grade. My teacher made the mistake of giving me a pass to write whatever I wanted in my journal. I made up a story about a storm, and she got caught in it. She wasn’t too happy about that, but that story was when I realized that I could tell a good story. I couldn’t stop after that.”
“That is awesome! I wish teachers these days would let kids do that in classes.” Kelly shook her head, thinking of the twins she tutored who just finished fifth-grade–one of whom always begged if she could write a story rather than do homework.
Shaking her head, Kelly thought on what else Orlandrea had said, and she smiled, “Being a homeschool mom is a full time job! I was homeschooled, and I’ve helped other homeschooling moms, so yeah–it’s awesome that you’re doing that, but sorry to hear about the divorce.” She shook her head again but then went on to the next question in her mind. “So are you just finally writing toward publication?” She snuck her a glance. “Is that your hopes with your writing?
Orlandrea’s paced slowed just a bit. “I’ve self published a…” her voice trailed off as she looked up into the trees. “Was that?” She stopped for a beat, and then caught up with Kelly. “I’m so sorry I’m being so rude. It’s just so pretty here. And I could have sworn I saw Lorrek appear and then disappear near that tree. But anyway. I’ve self published a novel and two short stories so far. I guess I don’t have the patience of most writers. I don’t want to shop my stories around. And the introvert in me hates rejection.Oh and by the way, its so cool that you were homeschooled too.” Orlandrea smiled. “I wish I was. But at least I get to give it a go with my daughter.”
“Hey, my books are only self-published, and I don’t have any of my books in stores or anything, so—totally relate!” Kelly offered her a warm smile but then glanced around. Lorrek was around—trying to get her attention, but Kelly was ignoring him because she had a guest here, but she promised Orlandrea, “Trust me, you’ll meet Lorrek. Just wait.” With a smirk and a plan in mind, Kelly led the way up the hill in the woods—a path being well beaten by all her previous treks through here.
Finally they came to the top of the hill, and Kelly motioned below. “The Garden of Ruins.” Castle ruins spread out through the forest opposite of the hill—walls half broken and covered with vines and moss. Pillars and archways stood where halls used to be. It didn’t take much to fill in the imagination of what this place used to look like.
Kelly smiled at herself then glanced at Orlandrea for her reaction.
“How awesome is that!” Orlandrea said. “I like meeting other authors who self publish like me.” Kelly brought her to the top of the hill and Orlandrea figured the gardens must be magical, because she never gets to the top of any hill without needing her asthma inhaler. But when Kelly motioned below, Orlandrea’s voice got stuck in her throat. She felt her mouth open, but all she heard was a soft gasp. Nothing in Orlandrea’s wildest dreams could have prepared her for the beauty that was in front of her. To say the moss was just green would not be sufficient enough of a description. “I don’t think that I’m a good enough writer to describe this type of beauty.” Orlandrea finally said.
This caused Kelly to laugh. “C’mon, you haven’t seen the best part yet!” She then led the way down the hill slowly and carefully. As they walked, Kelly asked yet another question, “While I’d love to hear what your published books are about, what are you working on right now?” Finally, they reached the bottom of the hill, and Kelly let Orlandrea gaze wide-eyed about before gesturing for her to follow her through the ruins
Making sure to take in every single moment while following Kelly through the ruins, Orlandrea tried to keep up and tried to remember to speak when spoken to. “Right now I’m working on a few different stories. I have a fifteen book series of short stories that is loosely based on where I grew up in New Jersey. It was such a little boring town. I’m trying to put a Criminal Minds spin on it. I’m also working on a Sci-Fi fantasy type story which is still in my head. And I’m working on a few romantic stories. I tend to work better with multiple stories floating around. I just have to make sure to keep them organized. Wouldn’t want the alien showing up in my crime stories.” Orlandrea laughed. She made a mental note to find out if she could come back to the ruins with her AlphaSmart. It would be an awesome spot for inspiration.
“That’s a lot of work!” Kelly looked at Orlandrea impressed then shook her head. “I have no idea how you keep it organized.” She then approached a darkened doorway that in the side of a hill and glanced at Orlandrea. “Hope you’re not afraid of the dark, but it’ll only be briefly. Trust me, you will LOVE what’s on the other side. Besides, I’ll do this.” She snapped her fingers and conjured a fire orb above her palm then shrugged at Orlandrea. “Perks of being the author in my own world. C’mon.”
She slowly led the way through the damp, darkened passage and even reached her other hand back to grab Orlandrea’s just to make sure she didn’t get lost. Holding up the glowing orb, Kelly let the light pass over the walls, revealing runes carved deep within.
However, the end of the passage came too quickly, and Kelly closed her fist, extinguishing the fiery orb. She stepped out of the way and let Orlandrea see what stood before them—an entire abandoned throne room with high arching ceiling but broken glass windows.
Finding it easy to trust Kelly, Orlandrea silently wished she could conjure a fire orb as they came to the end of the passage. As Kelly stepped out of the way, Orlandrea’s eyes widened almost to the size of the fiery orb. She gasped again, but this time it was louder. “Isn’t this where Lorrek taught the forbidden magic to Mordora and Moren?” Orlandrea grew excited. “Is he here?”
“This is still Cuskelom. The place you’re talking about is in Nirrorm. As for if Lorrek is here…may~be!” Kelly gave her a wide smile. “Oh, come on! I need to ask you more questions, and if I allow you two to talk, I’d never get to finish our conversation!” Kelly laughed but then moved through the throne room, loving the majestic but haunting feeling of it.
Finally, she turned back to Orlandrea with a smile. “I promise you may speak with Lorrek but you answer only a few more questions of mine, deal?” She raised her brows.
When Orlandrea nodded eagerly, Kelly voiced her first inquiry. “So you said you have a lot of stories you’re working on, but is there a specific one that you’re focusing on? If so, what exactly is it about?”
Orlandrea walked around the throne room in amazement. And her childlike grin widened as she plopped down in the middle of the room, and folded her legs. “Well, my main focus is the series. The town where I was born, raised, and where I currently live is called Willingboro. It’s in South Jersey. The town has little divisions called parks, and there are fifteen of them. Each park has its own book with its own serial killer or killers, or something strange. Most of the characters in each book are real people who live or have lived there. Well, except for the antagonist(s). They are usually people that I have made up.”
Kelly nodded as she meandered around the throne room, looking up at the partly broken ceiling while Orlandrea spoke. When she finished, Kelly cast her a glimpse. “Is there a new character with each new book of the series, or do the follow the same main characters? If so, tell me about them.”
“The main characters are constant throughout the series. There is crime writer names Jasmine Lester. Everyone calls her Jae. There is also detectives Mike Bailey, and Troy Williams. And Mike’s wife and Jae’s best friend, Connie. Jasmine or Jae is really me, Mike and Connie are friend’s I went to school with, and Troy is my fiancé. But not in the books.” Orlandrea giggled. “Jae starts the series by finding a decapitated body while going on her morning jog. She ends up being an ‘unofficial’ investigator with the Willingboro Police Department. It’s really all a fluke that she ends up doing this in every book. But she lends an eye to each investigation that the detectives wouldn’t be able to see. As a crime writer, their boss thinks that she can do the job like Richard Castle. Needless to say, in the first book, Jae nearly dies by getting her throat cut, until Troy saves the day.”
“Hey, you don’t want to give away too many spoilers!” Kelly smiled at Orlandrea but then considered what she had said. “Quite a cast you have there. So she’s like a female Richard Castle? That’s neat. I love Castle!” Kelly then looked around and frowned. “As much as I want to keep asking you questions, unfortunately our time is up, and I have another interview to prep for. However, I did promise you can meet Lorrek, so…” She turned and called out to the empty room. “You may come out now!”
In an instant, wind whipped am around the room, sweeping up dust as tearing at cobwebs, but just as quickly it died, and Lorrek stood before them.
Kelly smiled and glanced at Orlandrea. “Lorrek, this is Orlandrea—my most recent guest, and I get the feeling she’s a huge fan of yours!” She winked at Orlandrea. “And I don’t think I need to tell you who this is.” She motioned to Lorrek who drew near to them and bowed.
“Greetings, Lady Orlandrea. It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”
Orlandrea didn’t want to giggle like a school girl, but she did. “It’s you.” She said. He was everything that she thought he would be.
“So…Orlandrea, how would you like to have a chat with Lorrek?” Kelly grinned as she glimpsed between the two. “I do have to go, but he can easily open a portal that’ll take you home. You can stay and chat with him if you’d like. You wouldn’t mind, would you, Lorrek?” She raised her brows at him, but he shook his head.
“Not at all. She is welcome to stay if she so desires.” And he offered Orlandrea a small but warm smile.
“I would love to stay and chat with Lorrek.” Orlandrea smiled. “Thank you so much Kelly for inviting me here. This place is amazing. I’d love to come back with my AlphaSmart and just write if that’s ok.”
“Unfortunately you can’t bring anything from the real world into this world…unless it’s taken through my mirror portal at my Muse Shop.” Kelly gave Orlandrea an apologetic shrug, but then she gestured to Lorrek with a smile. “Have a great chat!” With that, she magicked away knowing that her character would keep Orlandrea safe and bring her back to the real world at a good time, but for now, Kelly had another interview to do.
Note: Orlandrea’s book is titled ‘Good Night Garfield’ and is due to be released before the end of the year. For more information follow her on social media: