“Hello, Mountain child,” said a pleasant voice.
Golden spun to see who had addressed her with such a strange salutation and gasped in surprise.
A woman stood there. She had a square face, a flawless complexion, blue eyes accented with gold flecks, a perfect nose, classic lips, and a friendly smile. Her long, sunfloweryellow hair dangled to the middle of her back and was embellished with a copper brooch. She wore a royal-blue silk tunic and gold upper-arm cuffs. Her forest-green hooded linen cloak was trimmed with a light-green silk border, embroidered with sea-foam-coloured trinity knots, and secured by a woven yellow belt. A silver trinity-knot brooch secured the cloak to her breast. Her light-tan kneehigh boots were made from the softest calf leather.
She wore a stunning Celtic ring on her right hand, made of gold intertwined trinity knots, inset with a pink tourmaline gemstone, and bordered on each side by diamonds set in silver.
This must be the Green Lady or the Fairy of Kindness the villagers were talking about last week, Golden thought.
Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 75-76.
Three and a half years ago my co-worker Rachel Johnson joined the Department of Surgery and her presence just brightened my work environment. I never knew sharing an office with someone could have such a positive impact on my life.
Rachel is an amazing and talented individual. She has her nursing degree and then she went on to take training to be a Nurse Practitioner. Just recently, Rachel finished her Masters in Nursing. Her educational pursuits and her drive to better herself are inspiring.
Rachel is always positive and uplifting. She never says an unkind word about anyone. Every day I come into to work anticipating what she has to say. Her zest for life is infectious. Her passion to help others and make the world a better place is contagious. Her eagerness to embrace new ideas and ways of doing things is refreshing. Thank you Rachel for giving your “light” to the world. I am so grateful to have you as my colleague and friend.
Karen E. Mosier
It was a beautiful July morning, the height of the growing season. Button had suggested that Golden walk to Butte Seachdad Mìle and check for herbs along the way. She had brought with her the new leather bag that Button had painstakingly made her, beautifully etched with a large round Celtic knot design on the front flap. Golden had been walking for more than two hours, enjoying all the sights and sounds of nature in full bloom, when she saw a breathtaking sight ahead of her. She quickened her pace.
Looming before her was a high, treeless rise, with pockets of bush and greenery here and there and cacti everywhere. Golden climbed higher and higher, watching for and picking herbs along the trail and placing them in her leather bag. The zigzagging path had short, steep sections and offered a breathtaking view of what she now knew was called the Whitemud River.
Finally, Golden stood on top, on an immense, flat plateau.
- Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 74.
You can take winding trails all the way to the top of 70 Mile Butte but watch out that you don’t accidentally step on a prickly pear cactus. It is a bit of a steep climb but it is certainly worth the view. Once you make it to the top, you can see for miles. The butte overlooks the Frenchman River valley  and the endless mixed grass prairie, one of the largest tracks of undisturbed prairie in North America . 70 Mile Butte was one of my favourite sites to visit. It was definitely worth the drive to see it!
Karen E. Mosier
1. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2018. Saskatchewan’s Best Scenic Drives. Frenchman River Valley. P. 27- 29. Parkland Publishing.
2. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2017. The Great Saskatchewan BUCKET LIST. Prairie Panorama: Sunset Over 70 Mile Butte. P. 26-28. Parkland Publishing.
3. Parks Canada. Grasslands National Park. 70 Mile Butte. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pnnp/sk/grasslands/activ/experiences/randonee-hiking/sentiers-trails/70_mil
As they reached the edge of the town, Golden knew (because Button had told her) that their first stop would be to see Mary Lynn Bannock. “Can you tell me about her?” she asked Button. “Who is she?”
“Ye will soon find out!” Button teased.
“Please tell me,” Golden begged.
Button relented. “She is nicknamed Mary Lynn ‘Bannock’ because she makes the best bannock in the River Clan territory. Her husband was a Brehon who was killed during one of the early Ivarian raids. This tragedy left Mary to fend for herself.
“She has three sons. Mark, her oldest son, works in the mines at Loch Craobh Beithe (Lock CRAY-of BAY-heh), in the Bog Clan territory. Morris, her second son, is a doctor in Geata (GATH-da). Her youngest son, Oliver, does street theatre in Caor and also performs at the summer and winter solstice celebrations.”
Golden nodded, intrigued.
“Any other woman might have given up once her husband passed away and just moved in with one of her children, but not Mary. Mary became a street vendor in the Caor town square. She started selling baked goods such as bannock, farl, soda bread, barmbrack, blaa, and scuffler.” He licked his lips, clearly thinking of her delicious baking.
“Ooh!” Golden gasped. “I can hardly wait to meet her. She sounds like quite the woman.”
“That was two years ago,” Button added. “Mary’s business has continued to grow and grow. Everyone in the land has heard about her, not only because of her amazing baking but also because of her remarkable bartering skills. Mary always seems to find whatever a customer is looking for, and somehow, each time, she manages to get the item for the best price. As a result, people throughout the Darach realm seek her out to find scarce items and to get a fair price on goods.”
Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 110-112.
I started working in the Department of Surgery almost six years ago. I never imagined that I would have such a deep friendship with my co-worker Marilyn Baniak. She is sweet and kind and tells me about great sales so I get amazing deals on my purchases. In addition, she regularly brings baking to the office for us and it is so delicious! Every Christmas, she promotes inclusivity and buys everyone a gift.
I grew to respect her even more as the years went by. Her positive attitude and her happy disposition brighten our office. She is always ready to lend a helping hand no matter how busy she is. She doesn’t seek the spotlight for herself and is quick to praise those around her. What stood out the most for me was her gift of encouragement and how she always believes the best in me and continually encourages me to reach my full potential and achieve my personal and career goals.
I attended her retirement party yesterday. I will miss her greatly but we will continue to be good friends. At the party, her words touched me deeply when she said “my friends are just like family to me”. Marilyn is such an amazing person. I am grateful to have her in my life. She is such a positive female role model for me to aspire to and a true, blue friend.
Karen E. Mosier
Suddenly the terrain changed, and Golden felt herself descending. Cautiously, she made her way down into the valley. The hot sun beat down on her, and she fanned herself with her hand.
Everywhere she looked, there were hills upon hills of layered earth with alternating layers of black coal, red clay, and dirt that appeared white with fossils from prehistoric times. In some places, the layered hills formed long ridges that spread out for miles. In other spots, the layers formed an isolated hill, ranging in size from a small mound to a massive elevated plateau. The rest of the valley surrounding these majestic formations alternated between grassy expanses and shallow sandy and/or rocky patches, often intersected by meandering streams.
- Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 31.
One of the most amazing places we visited was the Valley of 1000 Devils in the East Block of Grasslands National Park [1,2]. The badlands landscape is absolutely amazing. There is also a parkway that visitors can drive right around the badlands and stop any of the many pull-offs to enjoy the view and have a picnic lunch . I never realized that we had such breathtaking places to visit in Saskatchewan until I started writing my book. The pivotal scene in the beginning of my book when Golden is rescued by Button occurs in the Valley of 1000 Devils and this sets the stage for the beginning of their beautiful friendship and many adventures.
Karen E. Mosier
1. Jenn Smith Nelson and Doug O’Neill. 2019. Big Muddy Badlands and Castle Butte. Grasslands National Park. P. 120-122. Firefly Books.
2. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2017. The Great Saskatchewan BUCKET LIST. The Baddest of Them All Killdeer Badlands. P. 32-25. Parkland Publishing.
3. Parks Canada. Grasslands National Park. Valley of 1000 Devils Route. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands/activ/experiences/randonee-hiking/arriere-pays-backcountry/dvls
4. Parks Canada. Grasslands National Park. Badlands Parkway – East Block. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands/activ/experiences/badlands
Golden struggled to stand up, dripping and coated in mud and sand.
A strange voice behind her boomed, “Ye are lucky that I came by this way. Why did ye come out to this desolate valley all by yourself, unarmed, and without food, drink, or a cloak? Are ye mad? Do ye have a death wish?
Reaching a safe distance several yards away from the quicksand, Golden collapsed on the ground, shaking uncontrollably and breathing heavily.
She looked in the direction of the voice. She saw a man—no, it was a boy, about eleven years of age, her age. The stranger was tall, broad-shouldered, muscular, and deeply tanned, most likely from working long hours in the sun. He looked bigger than most boys his age and more confident, too. His appearance was pleasant, with long, medium-brown hair tied back in a ponytail, green eyes with brown flecks in them, a small button nose, long, thin lips, and a round chin. He wore a beige tunic, with a brown woven belt, a long, black cloak, and a roughly made pair of leather sandals. On his right bicep, she could see a marking, like a tattoo, with an outline of the hills on it. Over his right shoulder, he carried a leather wineskin and a leather bag. On the right side of his belt was a sheath holding a small dagger. Golden guessed that meant he must be left-handed. Golden gaped at him.
Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 34.
I will never forget my first day in school in a new town without any friends. It was August 29, 1971. At the end of the day, a blonde girl came up to me in the coat room. She said that she liked my red hair and she wanted to know if I would be her best friend. I thought that would be a great idea so I nodded my head. Bertha Moorman (nee Balman) has been my best friend ever since.
Bertha was her Dad’s right hand man. Clarence Balman was the town’s maintenance worker. He didn’t have a son until later in his life so Bertha stepped into help. She blew the typical stereotype - that girls are weaker than boys and they are just supposed to play with dolls and learn how to cook to get married some day - right out of the water. There wasn’t anything that she couldn’t do. She helped her Dad lift heavy cans of garbage, shoveled gravel and asphalt to fix the potholes and helped scrapped the ice at the hockey rink in between periods to name a few things. She was physically strong like a man, but she had all the essential qualities that made her a woman to be reckoned with and I was so proud of her. She never lost her confidence and strong work ethic. She has had a successful career in the insurance industry for the last 36 years and is still go strong in this position. The character Button is based on her life.
Bertha has been such a good friend to me over the years. She has been such a strong female role model in my life. I am so blessed to have her in my life and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She is my best friend forever!
Karen E. Mosier
Golden walked the afternoon away. It was time to look for a good place to make camp for the night. In the distance, a large object loomed. As she got closer, she saw it was a butte, roughly shaped like a castle, a massive, towering structure of sandstone and clay that seemed to rise out of the ground from nowhere. It had a flattened top. As she got closer, she saw that the eroded slopes teemed with plants. Wildflowers were everywhere. As she walked around the massive butte, she could see that it was pockmarked with many small caves.
“This is spectacular!” Golden shouted out loud.
She decided to make camp at the base of this enormous structure. In no time, she had gathered some firewood and cleared a spot to spend the night. Wearily, she rested by the flickering fire. She nibbled on another biscuit, trying to make it last, then washed it down with more tea.
Golden watched the sun set. Its light enveloped the butte behind her, giving it a rich, reddishcopper hue. The warmth of its glow seemed to strengthen and permeate her soul. Golden took it as a good omen.
- Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 167.
One of the funnest things about writing this book was driving around Saskatchewan and actually visiting all the exciting places highlighted in my story line. One such place was Castle Butte. It looked deceivingly small until we got up close and only then could you tell how massive this rock formation is. Standing in front of it, my partner Dean looked very small in comparison. This amazing sight was definitely worth the drive to see it!
Karen E. Mosier
1. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2017. The Great Saskatchewan BUCKET LIST. Seeing Red Castle Butte Sunrise. P. 36-39. Parkland Publishing.
2. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2018. Saskatchewan’s Best Scenic Drives. Castle Quest: Willow Bunch to the Big Muddy Badlands. P. 40-44. Parkland Publishing.
3. Jenn Smith Nelson and Doug O’Neill. 2019. Big Muddy Badlands and Castle Butte. P. 104-105. Firefly Books.
Then he spoke. “Your tale is almost unbelievable, but I feel compelled to help ye. I have no answers for your questions, but I think I know someone who might. We have to find the Ancient Wizard.”
Golden felt a surge of hope. “Who is the Ancient Wizard?”
“His name is Alasdair, and he dwells in the Darach realm. He is spry for an old fellow. The people say he is known to walk ten miles in a day without effort. Legend has it he is more than seven hundred and fifty years old.”
“The Great Wizard wanders throughout the land, but sometimes he is a bit absent-minded,” Button continued. “Some people think the reason he has lived so long is that he accidentally stumbled across the fountain of youth in his travels. No one knows for sure if he has a permanent dwelling or not. At least, no one had seen it.”
“What does he look like?” Golden asked, intrigued.
“I have only seen the Ancient Wizard a couple of times. He never changes. He is tall and slim and appears youthful. Rather than the grey hair you would expect in someone so aged, he has red hair down to his shoulders and a long red moustache and beard. He typically wears a dark-green tunic, a green hooded cloak, and soft brown leather boots. He always carries a tall walking staff. It is carved out of a single piece of oak and stained to a dark walnut colour, and has a large oval amethyst set into the tip.”
Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 83-85.
Many years ago, I was asked at a job interview “Who has inspired you in your life and why?” The person that immediately came to my mind was my Great Uncle Leon Mosier. He worked hard all his life. An avid conversationalist and storyteller, he was friendly and kind to everyone that he met no matter what their nationality. Uncle Leon had done it all from working on the farm to selling cars to fixing tractors to driving the canteen truck in World War II. He was an amazing man. Many times I visited him and he always said that if I worked hard I would have something someday. He was immensely proud of me when years later I graduated, got a job working at the university, and got myself financially back on my feet again.
He died on November 22, 2020. He was a special great uncle to me. We both had the same birthday so this made me feel like we had a special bond. I still miss him, but every year on my birthday I remember him and his words of encouragement that spurred me on to success.
Karen E. Mosier
Golden had been trudging hour after hour up and down the steep grassy terrain, walking around ponds or small streams as need be. The sun was high in the sky. “I have walked the morning away,” she said out loud, and sighed wearily.
She topped a rise and suddenly saw in the distance a massive mountain range. A steep peak towered over the landscape near the end of the range. It gave her a goal. I’ll climb to the top to see if I can spot a road or farmhouse and find someone to help me! she thought.
It was a steep climb. It took her a long time to make it to the top. As she caught her breath, she looked at the beautiful panoramic view around her. She could see for miles.
The stone beneath her feet looked like limestone. She was standing on one of a series of ridges and peaks. Peeking over the edge, she saw spectacular cliffs and breathtaking peaks and a river meandering slowly through a lush green valley. Across the way, parallel with her mountaintop perch, rose another set of darker rock formations, lower and light grey in colour. A soaring falcon cried out overhead as it left its nest high up in the crevice of a boulder.
- Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 16-17.
When I first started writing my book I had no idea of all the interesting places to visit in Saskatchewan. One such place is Jones Peak near Ravenscrag. It is an impressive site that resembles the badlands with colourful layers of sediment exposed in places. Specifically, “The highest point along Ravencrag road is Jones Peak” . You get an amazing view of the Frenchman river. The steep climb is definitely worth the effort! The moment that I saw all the spectacular beauty surrounding me, I knew I would have to feature Jones Peak in my book.
Karen E. Mosier
1. Robin and Arlene Karpan. 2017. The Great Saskatchewan BUCKET LIST. Guardian of the Whitemud Jones Peak. P. 21-23. Parkland Publishing.
Throughout the evening, Golden stared at Naed the Wise, as Button affectionately called him. He sat beside Button, listening to the conversation intently and nodding his head from time to time, but barely speaking a word.
He can’t be much older than me, Golden thought. He is very handsome in his stylish garb. Naed was only a couple of inches taller than she and very slim. His wavy, long brown hair was tied back, creating hundreds of curly ringlets. He had hazel eyes, a Greek nose, thin lips, a cleft chin, and a rectangular face. He wore a buttermilk-coloured V-necked tunic with long sleeves, trimmed with embroidery on the neckline, cuffs, and lower hem. Over his tunic, he wore a long, olive-green woollen cloak, tied at the neck, and a reddish-brown Celtic belt tied around his waist. He had black form-fitting tights on underneath his tunic and short, tan-coloured calf leather boots.
Golden’s eyes were drawn to the beautiful silver wolf ring that he wore on his right hand. The wolf was crafted with fangs bared, ready to devour its prey, and had two fire-red rubies for its eyes. Golden recalled that Button had told her previously that the wolf was an important animal in Darach culture. It symbolized guardianship, loyalty, and spirit. Golden also couldn’t help but notice the tattoo of flowing water on Naed’s right bicep, peeking out from his rolled-up sleeve. He must be from the River Clan, she thought.
Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 118.
My partner Dean is my soul mate. He is sweet and kind and very intelligent. I tease him that he is like a “walking encyclopedia”. Naed is Dean spelled backwards. The character Naed the Wise is based on his life. Dean has enriched my life. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without him. I thank him for his support and encouragement to write this book.
Karen E. Mosier
At dawn’s first light, Golden and Button made their way across to Devil’s Island on Naed’s makeshift raft. A few feet from shore, Golden grabbed the rope, jumped into the knee deep water, and found a large rock to tie the boat to, using the special knot Button had taught her. She pulled it snug, then looked at Button, waiting on the raft. He gave her a confident nod. Then she waded to the jutting shoreline, found a sandy spot to climb up the steep embankment, and stood up and looked around.
Balsam fir, common juniper, creeping juniper, tamarack, jack pine, white spruce, and black spruce densely wooded Devil’s Island. Beautiful yellow buttercups dotted the landscape.
Golden did not know what to do or where to look. All she knew was that the Dagger of Urachadh was supposed to be somewhere on Devil’s Island. She turned around and waved to Button, then headed into the forest.
So far, so good. No danger yet. Golden let out the breath she’d been holding, took a new, deep one, and kept walking through the bush.
- Excerpt from Dagger of Urachadh: Attack from the Underworld, p. 153.
When I first started writing my book I did a lot of research on the web. I wanted to capitalize on places with unusual names in Saskatchewan for my book. I was surprised to find out from my searching that Saskatchewan has its own Devil’s Island. King Island, which is a small island on the western side of Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park, used to be called Devil’s Island. Later it was renamed to King Island to honor former Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King who established the park. It was said that the “Cree had a legend that this island was inhabited by supernatural creatures of a mischievous or demonic nature .” The moment that I read this statement, I was intrigued. I knew I would have to feature Devil’s Island in my book!
Karen E. Mosier