I was sitting at my table in Meilori's, the haunted French Quarter jazz club, when the chair next to me screeched as a man dressed as a Turkish soldier sat down hurriedly. I blinked my eyes. No. Not again.
"Lord Byron!" I exclaimed.
He flashed me a gypsy smile, "His ghost actually. I've come to save my namesake!"
"Why, Byron from CASSASTORM!"
"That's just a book!" I cried, thinking how Alex had just started speaking to me again after the Mark Twain fiasco.
Speaking of the "devil," the ghost of Mark Twain sat down on the other side of me.
"Nonsense, boy! Why the outer space of the Shadowlands is filled with battle debris."
Lord Byron pulled his scimitar. "We are off to Alex's home to save him, Byron, and his son, whose mind is under assault from nefarious sources!"
"We?" I rasped.
"Yes," mumured a velvet voice behind me. I turned. Oh, no.
"I must race to my beloved's side to rescue him from the creations of his mind."
"B-Beloved?" I asked.
"Yes, I fell in love with him upon our last meeting."
"What?" I groaned.
Aura lightly stroked my throat. "Oh, yes. It was when Alex played and sang for me aboard Ming the Merciless's ship."
"It was the Roumlan Ale we both drank, that's all" I pleaded.
"Nonsense, Roland," cackled the ghost of Mark Twain. "I was there. And Byron and me are pure romantics. We aim to save Byron of CASSASTORM and re-unite these two star-crossed lovers."
"Eyes will be crossed when Aura meets Mrs. Alex!" I muttered. "And fists thrown."
Aura laughed, "What is a petty human woman compared to me?"
I was about to remind her how that thinking worked out for her with Flash Gorden and Dale when I spotted Aura stroking the hilt of her dagger.
Lord Byron clapped me on the shoulder. "Why, are you sitting there, laggard? We are off to Alex's home."
"You can't know where he lives," I protested.
Mark Twain shook his head with a laugh. "Some of those doo-hickies in old Ming's ship done showed us the way."
"Spock Bear," cackled Twain. "Get the boy moving!"
I forgot how strong the guy was. Before I knew it, I was tumbled into the interior of Ming's space ship.
Lord Byron handed me a guitar with a sheepish look. "Sorry about this. But sirens with ray pistols are terribly persuasive."
"What do you mean?" I rasped.
Aura reclined on her bed of gold layered pillows.
"Amuse me with a tune, writer, while we fly to my dear Alex."
"I haven't played a Spanish Guitar in years!"
"Play well or die," said Aura.
I shook my head.
Lord Byron whispered,
“The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree
I planted; they have torn me, and I bleed.
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.”
Great. Aura was fingering the razored edge of her dagger. I sighed. I bet J K Rowling never had days like this!
“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.”
– Edi’s Book Lighhouse
"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together."
- Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes