In a thrilling mystery of intrigue, the Elfin Keeper of the Keys, Alex, uncovers a sinister plot to steal the gold set aside for the Golden Harvest by a rival group of Elves, who will stop at nothing to get it.
Title: The Epsilon Account: The Golden Harvest Series Book 1
Author: Joni Parker
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction Hybrid
Thousands of years ago, Eledon was created for the Elves by their Mentors when they were forced to leave Earth. At least, that’s how the legend goes. In return, the Elves must pay them a tribute in gold, known as the Golden Harvest, every four thousand years. The Elfin Council of Elders appoints Lady Alexin (Alex) Dumwalt, the Keeper of the Keys, to manage the next payment, due 244 years from now. That is, until the Mentors show up unexpectedly and demand immediate payment of the Epsilon Account. Since the Harvest has never been called that, Alex suspects foul play and uncovers a sinister plot by the Star Elves, a rival clan from the Constellations, who want to steal the gold. To make matters worse, they’re willing to do anything to succeed to include murder. Can Alex stop them and save the Elfin gold before it’s too late?
It worked! The emergency contact system I had set up with the help of my Elf grandfather really worked. With this system, I could leave the magical Keys of Eledon with my grandfather, just in case something disastrous happened, like a flood or a quake. My grandfather had been the Keeper of the Keys before me, so he could fill in as needed, but if there was something he couldn’t handle, he’d sent Lord Hillen for me.
Lord Hillen had been in London recently to investigate the presence of Elf slaves in the mortal world and had posed as my Uncle James. If he needed to contact me, his lordship would use the portal and call me on a pay phone on the street corner outside of Hyde Park. We rehearsed it several times to make sure it worked. Unfortunately, when he called for real, I was the middle of a fashion show in Paris.
A few months ago, I signed a five-year contract to work as a fashion model for the Echelon Modeling Agency owned and operated by Andrew Miller. The next day, my exile to the mortal world ended, and I was allowed to return to Eledon. But since I had signed a contract, I felt obligated to finish it, so I asked for and received permission from the Elfin Council of Elders to do so. Five years meant nothing to the Elves.
My mobile phone rang when I returned backstage to change into my next outfit. I should have let it go to voicemail, but the caller ID said it was Mrs. MacDougall, the dog walker from Hyde Park in London. Why would she be calling me? Then I recalled how much Lord Hillen had liked the woman, so I answered it.
“Mrs. MacDougall? This is Alex. You’re on speaker.” I needed my hands free to touch up my makeup.
“Oh, Alex. How wonderful! I just wanted to let you know your Uncle James is here, and he asked me to call you.”
“What ‘s wrong?”
“Alex? Alex, are you there?” Uncle James/Lord Hillen shouted loud enough to be heard over the music. Everyone shushed me.
“Sorry.” I turned off the speaker and put the phone to my ear. “Yes, Uncle James. I’m here. You don’t have to shout. Is everything all right?” I was concerned about my grandparents. They weren’t old by Elf standards; they were considered middle-aged even though my grandfather was thirty-five hundred years old, and my grandmother was about fifteen hundred years old, give or take a thousand years.
“Lord Ashur must speak to you immediately,” he said. “It’s about the Epsilon Account.”
I paused. “What Epsilon Account?” I’d never heard of it although I knew it was the fifth letter in the ancient Greek alphabet. But the Elves had never used Greek letters for anything. Still, I was relieved to hear it wasn’t about my grandparents.
“We don’t know what it is,” he said.
“Okay, so why is this an emergency?”
“Because Lord Ashur said so.”
“Oh.” Lord Ashur was the Elfin leader of the Council of Elders, and I should drop whatever I was doing and rush home, but I couldn’t right now. “I can meet you in Hyde Park by eleven tonight.” I had memorized the Eurostar train schedule from Paris, so I knew what time it got to London. Once I got there, I would have to transfer to a local train for Hyde Park. “Can you wait with Mrs. MacDougall?”
“Oh… my pleasure,” he said, as he ended the call.
I knew he liked her, so I was sure he’d be happy to spend more time with her. I rushed off to make my next entrance and slipped the phone in my pocket without thinking. As I strutted down the runway, my mobile went off again. It was making too much noise to ignore, so I took it out to turn it off. It was Mrs. MacDougall again, so I swiped it and answered it as if it was part of the show. Uncle James/Lord Hillen came on the line, saying he forgot to tell me my grandparents were fine.
“Thank you so much,” I said, as I hung up. But instead of putting it away, I continued talking as if I was in the middle of a business deal. “But you don’t understand. I want two million, not one.” I rolled my eyes at the audience. “No deal!” I touched the screen, shook my head, and waved my mobile in the air.
The audience laughed, and cameras flashed all over the place. So, I turned my back to the audience and took a selfie. The show’s narrator, Philippe, grimaced at me and waved me off the stage. I strolled by him and waved my mobile to thunderous applause.
It was never my intent to become a fashion model, but after I was exiled here, I needed to earn a living. Modeling didn’t require a special skill except to walk in high heels. At the time, I was staying with Vice Admiral Sir Malcolm Teller and his wife in London because I had no place else to live. Their daughter, Suzette, was a fashion designer and asked me to be her model because hers had quit unexpectedly. I did fine in my first show, but my heart wasn’t in it. I’d been trained as a soldier, so I applied to join the Royal Marines. When they rejected my application, I went back to work as a model.
After several more dress changes, I ended the show wearing a spectacular wedding dress. My boss, Étienne, had specialized in them at one time in his career, and this dress was exceptional. It was made of embossed white silk with kimono-type sleeves, with a definite Japanese flair, but with an off-the-shoulder look. The train was at least twenty feet long, and the veil was to die for. I’d get married in that dress except I didn’t want to get married. Maybe one day. After all, that’s what fantasies are made of.
When the show ended, Philippe, the narrator, stormed backstage and chewed me out for taking a phone on the runway and violating the model’s code of silence. It wasn’t the first time he did this. The man hated me from the moment we met. He spoke so rapidly in French I couldn’t understand what he said except for those few words that crossed over to English, like ‘idiot’ and ‘mobile phone.’ I didn’t know why the French language was a such problem for me. I was fluent in four other languages—English, Scinthian (ancient Greek), Dwarf (Droogan), and Elf. Maybe it was a self-defense mechanism, so I wouldn’t understand all the nasty things Philippe said to me.
His tirade lasted for ten minutes. By the time he was done, everyone else had left, and we were the only ones backstage. He stalked away and left me to find my way to the mandatory after-show party at our boss’s house.
The World of Eledon
Guest Post By Joni Parker
Long ago, the Elves and Dwarves lived together in harmony with the Humans on Earth, who were referred to as mortals, due to their short lives. Every year, each group offered a tribute of gold to their gods, the Mentors, who admired the purity of the Elfin and Dwarf gold. Soon, the mortals became jealous of the favoritism they showed and attacked the others, destroying their villages and property. As the attacks grew more intense, the Mentors stopped it by removing the Elves and Dwarves from Earth, taking them to a world called Eledon.
Eledon wasn’t a natural planet like Earth, but one built by the Mentors. It had a hard exterior shell shaped like a globe, but unlike Earth, the people lived inside on a flat surface, where they were protected from the dangers of outer space. The globe was placed near the Earth to shorten the trip there, but far enough away so no one from Earth could get there. Inside the globe, the sun, the moon, and the stars were displayed on the interior, with climate conditions so similar to Earth, the Elves and Dwarves felt like they never left. Even the soil had been imported from Earth, leaving deep trenches on the sea floor. The Mentors knew Earth soil was rich in gold and demanded the golden tribute once more, but they gave the Elves and Dwarves four thousand years to get settled before the first Golden Harvest was due.
In addition, the Mentors gave the Elves a system to repair Eledon as needed. They provided 13 special keys to repair any of the systems on Eledon. The Elfin Council of Elders assigned the Keys of Eledon to the Keeper of the Keys, a position now held by Lady Alexin (Alex).
Joni Parker was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved to Japan when she was 8 so her father could become a professional golfer. Once he achieved his dream, Joni and her family returned to the U.S. and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. After high school, Joni served her country for 22 years in the Navy and another 7 years in federal civil service. She retired in Tucson, Arizona, devoting her time to writing, reading, and watching the sunrise.