Books & Broadswords: Chapter 9

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 9, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

This is the final chapter, but there’s still an epilogue left! 💕

The store looked like it had been pulled directly from my imagination. A roaring fire kept the room toasty, and comfortable chairs were scattered around the walls. Half of the space was filled with rows of bookshelves laden with books, including many foreign volumes I’d never been able to get my hands on.

My fingers itched. I hadn’t brought any gold, since I hadn’t expected to be shopping today, so I made note of the books I wanted most. The list grew so large that it became easier to keep track of the books I already had.

Ansel watched me without comment.

It was fully dark by the time I ventured into the other half of the store. It was filled with weapons and armor of the highest caliber. I lifted a perfectly balanced short sword and smiled at the delicate craftsmanship. I would add this to my purchase, too.

Ansel’s broadsword hung behind the counter, along with his chainmail. I frowned, and he spoke for the first time in hours. “I gave up my knighthood.”


He waved an arm at the room. “I decided to start dragon hunting on my own. But I was beginning to think I’d have to take up banditry before you’d notice me.”

Books & Broadswords: Chapter 8

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 8, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

Six months later…

The weather was cold and gray, and if not for persistent rumors of bandits along this road, I would’ve been tucked into my cozy castle with a book and a roaring fire. I’d still be miserable, but at least I’d be warm and miserable.

This was my second attempt to flush the bandits out, but I’d yet to see any sign of them. Either they were smarter than usual or they’d moved on, and the rumors hadn’t caught up.

By the time the next town came into view, I was frozen and surly. The smart choice would’ve been to return to my castle, but for the past six months my home had been unbearably lonely.

The knight hadn’t found me—and hadn’t even looked, as far as I could tell. A month after I’d let him go, I’d started lingering in towns across the area, hoping for even a hint of rumor about a knight searching for a dragon, but there hadn’t been a single whisper. It was just as I’d expected. My heart ached, but I’d gotten used to ignoring it.

I trudged toward the nearest tavern. I would warm up with a hot meal and listen for any new bandit rumors, then I would return home and brood in peace.

I was so busy ignoring everything that I nearly missed the sign. Even after it registered, I blinked twice, sure I was hallucinating.

Books & Broadswords: Chapter 7

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 7, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

Ansel was waiting for me in the courtyard, Percy at his side. The knight’s jaw was clenched, and his expression blazed with stubborn determination.

“I’ll find you,” he declared. “No matter how long it takes.”

“People have been looking for me for hundreds of years. None have succeeded.”

“They weren’t me,” he said with the boundless arrogance I usually associated with knights. Finally, he was starting to act his part, but it was too late.

I’d already fallen.

“They weren’t you,” I agreed softly. “But in a few weeks, this will seem like nothing more than a strange dream.”

His eyes narrowed. “We shall see.”

New Car, Roadtrip, and BBQ

After waiting nearly a year and half from our reservation, our new car arrived last week! We replaced our aging, fifteen-year-old Nissan Cube—which remains one of my favorite cars ever, quirks, terrible transmission, and all—with a brand new Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV.

A cyber gray (aka silver-ish gray) Ioniq 5 in our driveway next to a white Nissan Cube.

Look at how cute it is! And it’s so easy to get into lawbreaker territory because unlike the Cube, which had obvious wind noise that let you know you were going fast (aka the “windometer”), the Ioniq is quiet even at highway speeds.

It’s also quite a bit longer than the Cube, which meant we spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up the garage and moving stuff around, which needed to happen anyway, but isn’t my preferred way to spend the weekend.

So on Sunday, we decided to have a fun day and do a little mini roadtrip down to Lockhart for BBQ. Lockhart is a small town of about 14k people, that was once named the “barbecue capital of Texas.” There are three main restaurants, and tons of family drama as one would expect in a small town with three BBQ families each trying to become a dynasty.

Lockhart BBQ isn’t really top-tier anymore, and we could get better BBQ right here in Austin, but it was a nice excuse to get out and drive on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Of the three mainstay BBQ joints in town, we hadn’t been in Kreuz Market in the longest time, so we decided to eat there. Brisket is pretty much the order of the day for TX BBQ, so that was my plan, until I saw the sign advertising pork belly burnt ends.

A sign featuring a smiling cowgirl pointing to the day's special of pork belly burnt ends.
She is standing on a throne of LIES

Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Unfortunately, I don’t know if it was or not, because they were sold out. 😭

It was a real rollercoaster. I didn’t even know pork belly burnt ends were an option, then I saw the sign (and it opened up my eyes…) and I started anticipating the deliciousness, then major disappointment, all in the span of a few minutes.

Since the sign lied to me, I stuck with brisket and Mr. M also ordered a couple of pork ribs. The brisket was just okay, but the pork ribs were pretty good. The real star of the show wasn’t BBQ at all, but the poblano creamed corn, which was delicious. Overall verdict: meh.

But the roadtrip was fun, and we went to a nearby state park and did a little hiking, so the day was a success overall.

We also got to figure out some of the high-tech features of the car, such as highway driving assist, which only tried to gently murder us once, luckily when no one else was around.

Oh, and there was the lady in the state park who came THISCLOSE to crashing head-on into us because she was driving too fast around a blind corner on the wrong side of road. That wasn’t too good for the ole heart. Luckily, she missed us by inches, and we had our dash cam installed, so we would’ve had proof of fault, but I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with a crash on a vehicle with just 100 miles on the odometer.

What about you? Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Books & Broadswords: Chapter 6

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords

Books & Broadswords, Chapter 6, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

I awoke in human form with Ansel curled around me, his cloak over us both. The sun was still warm on my face, so we hadn’t slept for more than an hour or two. I lingered, enjoying the warmth.

“You snore as a dragon and a human,” the knight murmured, a smile in his voice.

“I should’ve eaten you when I had the chance,” I grumbled without opening my eyes.

He chuckled, completely fearless. “Then who would pull the rest of the weeds, hmm? You’d better keep me around.”

I sighed at the reminder. “You can’t stay, Ansel.”

He tensed beside me. “Why not?”

“It’s not safe.”

“You’re a dragon, and I’m a knight. Surely we can—”

“It’s not safe for you. My magic will enchant you whether I will it or not. It’s already started. Would you have lain in the sun with a dragon a week ago?”

“I didn’t know you a week ago,” he argued, but I heard the tiny hesitation, the doubt.

Pain stole my breath. I didn’t want to give him up, but I would. My fists clenched. I would. But first, I would show him the library.