Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Virtual Book Tour ~ Rumpled by Lacey Louwagie ~ Excerpt


by Lacey Louwagie

 Re-telling / Fantasy
Date Published: March 3, 2014
Gold for a poor girl, 
Beauty for a twisted man, 
A child for a powerful sorcerer . . . 

Rumpelstiltskin can change anything he touches into gold, but he cannot change his own twisted body. The sorcerer Laurus can make Rumpelstiltskin tall, strong, and handsome—but he will only work his magic in exchange for a child in its first year of life. 

When Emily’s deluded father claims she can spin straw into gold, the King demands proof. Caught between a mad father and a mad king, Emily’s life hangs in the balance. Rumpelstiltskin will help keep up her ruse for three nights—if she promises him her firstborn child. 

When the King decides to marry Emily, the pretense must continue for much longer. And what Emily offers Rumpelstiltskin in return for his continued help has the power to change everything. 

This retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” is best suited for ages 14 and up.

For the remainder of the week, I was snappish with her. As much as I told myself I did not want to know about her beautiful man, curiosity gnawed at me. We were halfway to the wedding date, and Emily had begun telling her guard that she was going to the tower to use the spinning wheel when she left for her sessions with me. Now, the stable hands always left a bale or two of straw up there for her. Still, she had not yet transmuted a single item. Instead, I sent her back to her room with skeins of silken gold that I had transmuted. She, in turn, scattered them casually about her room. 
I opened my drawer of odds and ends, rummaging until I found the ruby ring. I placed it in my palm and held it out to her. I would remove this last reminder of her suitor. “It's real gold, yes?”
She nodded. 
“That might make it easier; perhaps we've started too large. Perhaps we should start with a single material, and transform it into something different but of the same substance. We have here a gold ring. Let us transmute it into a gold coin.”
This was not how Laurus had started with me, but it was worth a try.
But in the end, it was once again I who turned the ring into a coin. It glinted faintly red in the candlelight, as if it remembered the ruby stone it once held. 
“Can you change it back?” she asked. 
“Of course. But it's better I don't. You shouldn't have this reminder of your former suitor lingering about six weeks before you marry the King. It could drive him mad with jealousy if he found out—and that could be very dangerous indeed.” 
She nodded, solemnly studying the coin in her palm. She slipped it into her pocket. 
“Best you're free of the reminder, too,” I muttered. “What good is it to pine for a man who can't even make good his promise of marriage?”
She stood up straighter. “You don't know anything about him.”
I know that he was tall, dark, handsome—isn't that enough? I know that you loved him because you spoke as much about him as you possibly could, even though you were supposed to be telling a story about your dear dead mother. But instead, I said, “Fine. Tell me.”
She did. She told me that he was a traveling merchant, buying goods in one city and then traversing the land, bringing them to villages where the people had never seen such things, and fetching higher prices for them. She told me how he would be away for long stretches at a time, traveling with one caravan or another, and how, when he came back, he always brought her silk or candies or carved stones. Sometimes he was gone for weeks, months. And then, he'd taken a journey from which he'd never returned. 
“He was distracted by another beautiful maiden, no doubt.” I bent to remove my boots. Let the lesson be concluded for tonight—I wanted my reminder that, sweetheart or no, King or no, for these few precious months, Emily was mine. “You are not the only one in the world, you know.”
She bit her lip, and I hated myself. What I said may have been true enough—but whenever she was in my room, I had difficulty believing it. A troubling thought had been keeping me up nights: what if, even after the final transmutation, I could not find a woman I wanted as much as I wanted Emily? These thoughts aroused in me a certain hatred for her, which spilled out in moments like this. 
“It could have been anything,” she said. “I worried about him every time he left. Robbers attack traveling merchants all the time. Sometimes he returned with cuts upon his forehead, with bruises on his body. He wouldn't have just left me. Something happened to him. And now, if he ever returns, he'll find that I've betrayed him by marrying another.”
“Accepting a king's proposal is hardly a betrayal.” I was now working my shirt buttons, growing impatient with this conversation. “Do you think I enjoy making an ass of myself in front of his court three nights a week? Now that my training has come to a halt, I don't even need his coins. But you don't say no when the King wants something. Ugly though it is, I prefer to keep my head attached to my body, thank you very much. And I would rather rest in this bedroom than a dungeon cell. So would you, I suspect.”
“Training?” repeated Emily, and I froze. For the first time, I'd let slip a hint of my life outside the palace, outside weekends entertaining the King and evenings teaching Emily.
“It is nothing.” I waved my hand dismissively. “It is only that I wish to learn something bigger than turning rocks to gold.”
“I would be happy to learn only that.” Emily slumped onto my bed—which was where I wanted her, anyway. I shrugged my shirt off my shoulders and approached her.
“You will,” I said, although I also had trouble believing it. I crawled up onto the bed beside her, kissed her neck. “We have time.”
But for the first time ever, she pulled away from me. What? Had it taken her this long to notice I was repulsive?
“I'm not even sure I believe this is possible anymore,” she said. “I'm just a commoner, a miller's daughter. How many times can I watch you turn anything you touch into gold, or feel your fingers while you do it, or do everything you tell me to do, only to find myself holding the same old stone or button or piece of string in the end?”
“It's not easy. Remember, I've been doing this for many, many years.”
“I just don't think I have it, Rumpel. Whatever it is that allows you to do this. How long did it take you to do your first transmutation?”
That arrested me. I remembered those early days with Laurus, the way I knew, the first time I transformed a palm full of salt into a palm full of sugar, that surely this gift could be more than kitchen magic if I could only harness it. That this gift could be the key to achieving what I'd always believed to be impossible. “Three days,” I mumbled. “I made my first transmutation three days after I began my instruction.”
“You see?” She stood now, agitated. “If this is something so easily taught, why isn't the whole world clamoring to learn it? I've never met anyone like you before, nor have I met anyone with this particular gift. What about your teacher? Was he like you?”
I narrowed my eyes. “What do you mean, like me?”
She gestured vaguely. “You know . . .”
“Ugly?” I spat. “Twisted? Puny? No, he's none of those things.” And yet, I thought about the way Laurus preferred to keep his hood up, how, when I had seen his face, I'd noticed that his skin was paler than bone; indeed, it stretched so tightly over his skull that it might as well have been bone. But he was old, and he'd told me often how a lifetime of channeling such power could take its toll on a body. 
“I just don't think I have it in me. This power.”
But you have the power to make a king want to take you as his wife; you have the power to make me forget what other women look like, so that all I can see is the length of your golden hair, the curve of your back when you lie on your stomach. This is powerful magic indeed, and surely, teaching you to bend it into a form that serves you differently is just another transmutation.

Lacey Louwagie

Lacey has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and fold a few pieces of paper together. Her first book, full of pictures of unicorns, started her on the path of writing science fiction and fantasy. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor, magazine editor, reporter, and librarian. She lives in a tiny house in South Dakota with her husband, two cats, a dog, and hundreds of books.



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