“I’m home.” I threw my bag on the floor in the hallway. Silence answered my announcement, and I wandered into the kitchen.
A bright pink note was stuck to the fridge. “Going to Mrs. Baxter’s – Be home around six. Dad is working late. Have a sandwich if you get hungry. Mom.”
Awesome! If Mom was at the Baxters’, I could sneak in a few hours of Hero’s Sword now and do my homework over dinner. I raced to my room and fired up my game console. Almost immediately, I got a message from Stu. “You’re on early.”
“Mom out,” I typed. “What happened to dentist?”
“Canceled. Let’s go.”
We played for about fifteen minutes before a familiar message popped up on my screen. “Lady Starla is in trouble. Do you accept the quest?” My stomach leaped. Yes, of course I would accept the quest. I wondered briefly what would happen with Stu when I disappeared, but the thought didn’t last longer than the flash of light after I toggled “yes.”
When the glare faded, I was in my familiar clearing, sword at my hip and bow on my back. Yes! I thought.
“Lyla, there you are.”
I turned to see my good friend, Roger Woodbridge, striding across the clearing. “Here I am.” I hugged him briefly. “You must have been expecting me. What’s the emergency?”
He smiled. “Nothing compared to past events. Lady Starla is expecting a visitor, and she’d like it very much if you would be there.”
I shifted the bow on my back and followed him toward the manor. “Since when does Lady Starla need me to be with her to welcome someone?”
“This person is a special case,” Roger said. “We are expecting an Imperial envoy. Based on the letter we received this morning, he comes from the capital with news of a new tax structure. One that’s not expected to be popular, I’m afraid.”
“Are they ever popular?” I didn’t know much about taxes, but my dad certainly grumbled enough whenever he read about new ones in the paper. “I’m still not really sure why Lady Starla would need me for that. Not like I can change anything.”
“I suspect she would like you there for moral support. She plans to oppose the new taxes.” He waved at a few people as we crossed the manor grounds and headed for the front door. “But it will be better to let her explain herself. After you.” He pulled open the massive wood door and waited for me to enter.
“That doesn’t sound too terribly dangerous,” I said as I entered the cool interior of Mallory Manor. The walk had only take a few minutes, but I was glad to get out of the summer heat.
Oh, if I only knew how wrong I was.
Title: Snake in the Grass: Hero’s Sword Vol. 4
Author: M.E. Sutton
Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Things are getting interesting at Tanner Middle School. The only official candidate for student council president is Jaycee’s nemesis, Trina Poppelman. Plus there’s a new girl in school. At first glance, she looks like she’d fit right in with the cheerleaders, but Jaycee senses something different about her.
Things are getting interesting in Mallory, too. Lady Starla is expecting an Imperial envoy to discuss new taxes. She plans to oppose the measure and asks Lyla to stand by her side in a show of support. However, when the envoy goes missing, the situation becomes a lot more serious than a proposed tax increase.
In this fourth installment of the Hero’s Sword series, Lyla and Roger hit the road to find a missing envoy before Starla pays the ultimate price for his disappearance. Along the way, Jaycee learns that winning isn’t always the end-game result.
Mary Sutton has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people’s stories, for as long as she can remember. After ten years, she decided that making things up was far more satisfying than writing software manuals, and took the jump into fiction.
She writes the HERO’S SWORD middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton and finds a lot of inspiration in the lives of her own kids. A lifelong mystery fan, she also writes crime fiction, including THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES, under the pen name Liz Milliron. Her short fiction has been published at Uppagus.com, Mystericale.com (Fall 2013), and in LUCKY CHARMS: 12 CRIME TALES (December 2013).