…because these stories inexorably go together. They can’t be separated. At least since the second one has been written.
You may or may not have noticed that the stories in RieTales are in alphabetical order. Except when it comes to these two. The first one, “Nothing Left to Lose,” is in the right place, but the second, “Everything to Gain,” was placed out-of-order on purpose.
When I was just starting out on the path to publication, I joined Writers’ Village University. It was a great way to get into the discipline of writing after taking some time off. There was a contest to write a short story, and I decided to explore how two of the minor characters in The Blood That Binds (later to become The Luckless Prince) came to be traveling together. The story has outlived the novel until I can decide what to do with my orphans, but I am glad it is still available. It actually won the contest that session.
The story, “Nothing Left to Lose,” tells of a young girl in a slave encampment who meets a strange young man with healing powers and begs him to save her dying mother. Unfortunately, he fails, leaving her an orphan. He asks her to travel with him as a companion and apprentice. And thus, was the partnership of Eeonathor Ravenwing and Daerci born.
“Everything to Gain” continues the exploration of this unusual duo as he begins her training to be a lockpick and sleight-of-hand artist–in other words, a thief. She has to rescue her mentor from a fate not quite worse than death.
The descriptions above make the two sound like irredeemable rascals, but in the tradition of high fantasy, the rogue and the mage have roles to play. The two of them are integral to the plot of both versions of the novel. But the stories are fun to read by themselves.