Category Archives: fantasy

New Series by Gus Kenney: “The Complications of Being Lucy”

 

Now’s the time to start reading a new author!

This series is the next in line with some of the greats!

BOTH BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR $0.99 CENTS US/UK

A fun for all ages new ssries of modern day magic and adventure.

If you loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Childre, and books by  J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan, you’ll love The Complications of Being Lucy.


“This Author Has A Truly Inventive Imagination!”

The Complications of Being Lucy Book 1: Never go into the Park

Lucy was never afraid of the dark. She never questioned her family. She never thought that the world of logic and science could be a lie. But on her ninth birthday everything changed when a strange boy came into her life from the very lands she was forbidden from ever entering and she finds herself immersed in a conspiracy that was created before she was born. Her reality is shattered by the existence of magic and things of legend. The bonds of family are tested by a lifetime of deception and the truth of who she actually is, becomes the least of Lucy’s torments. For someone has unleashed a nightmare, and Lucy, her family, and her new friends, are soon on the run from a creature that even darkness fears.

Read a sample | Get the book! |

 

The Complications of Being Lucy Book 2:

The Changeling and the Borrowed Family

 

A nightmare is just a dream in the light of day.

 

Lucy was used to everyone hiding things from her. Now she is the one forced to hide. The Changelings have been discovered and to save herself, Lucy must slip into the life of a creature who shares her nightmares. With her family scattered in search for answers and her only friend powerless to help, all alone Lucy must guard her heart from the world she always longed for and from the people that want her dead. But how can you fight the agony of your dreams and the secrets buried in your own blood.

Read a sample | Get the book! |

Meet Gus Kenney

Gus lives in western New York with his amazing wife and five four legged children. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he realized that he could never be a spy as good as Timothy Dalton’s Bond and that Hired Sword was not part of any growth industry. When he is not semi-busy writing, he spends his time pretending he knows what he is doing at a nine-to-five job and the rest of it complaining that it is taking way too long for them to start showing new episodes of his favorite cartoons. If you’re bored, or just a creeper, you can check out the insanity that doesn’t make it into his books on his social media outlets.

 

Facebook | The Complications of Being Lucy | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram |

Linkedin |  Goodreads | Amazon | Website | 

As It Is Blog (Stop over and sneak a peek at Book 3!) |

Find out what Gus says when asked the difficult question: “What is your favorite part of the story?” Click Here!

Interested in speaking with the author?  Email him: guskenney@yahoo.com

Gus was asked a slew of questions during an in-depth interview with Rukia. Here is Q & A from that interview.

Q: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

A: Honestly, write something else. Anything at all. You can’t get truly blocked unless you stop completely. Sure the story you have been focusing on for months suddenly stalls. No need to fear. Just prime the pump of creativity with some other ideas. Do the paint chip trick (look it up on Pinterest). Look online for story prompts(also Pinterest). Take your characters and put them in strange and unusual scenarios that would never come up in the world you created for them. Write something off the wall like a race of people that aren’t carbon based but cocoa based (I call them Fudgelians). If all else fails do some dishes. That always works for me. Don’t believe me? Come to my house and wash them. You’ll see.

Read The Full Rukia Interview

Read An Interview with The English Informer, France.

Great News! Gus Kenney has something he wants to share with you!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway Name The Character competition!

The Rafflecopter

Name The Character

Author Gus Kenney is offering a chance to name one of the characters for Traitor’s Neice: Book 3 in The Complications of Being Lucy Series!

The Rules:

Get book 1(The Changeling And The Cupboard), snap a pic of you with the book like the one above(if it’s an eBook open it on your ereader device), tag us (Gus Kenney / Margaret Daly) and post your picture! That’s it! The winner will be announced on Facebook on The Complications Of Being Lucy Page!

Now’s the time to get your copies of these books, each priced at $0.99c/$0.99p.

Then enter the competition to name the character in Book 3!

Don’t miss this opportunity to not only read the next hit series, but to be a part of the story yourself!

Thank you for joining us today! We hope you’re coming away from this with a better sense of this new hit series by Gus Kenney…

If you have any questions you can normally find Gus on FB, or you can send him an email.

Have A Great Day!

Please remember to leave a book review, just a few simple words is all!

 

CHILD OF THE NIGHT GUILD by Andy Peloquin

 

Vicious, ruthless criminals are made, not born. Child of the Night Guild—an insight into the transformation from innocent child to thief and killer.

Title: Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

Author: Andy Peloquin

Publication Date: Jan 17, 2017

Digital Price: 2.99

Pages: 401

ASIN: B01N1TC3VW

 

About Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Scott Lynch, and Brent Weeks will love the Hunter…

 

Buy Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1) on Amazon Kindle, and  Amazon Canada.

Read about it on Goodreads.

Join the book launch event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/336765836707837/.

Join Andy’s Thunderclap at http://thndr.me/fdeiQu.

10 Things You Need to Know About Author Andy Peloquin:

  1. Hot wings, ALWAYS!
  2. I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
  3. I’m a head taller than the average person (I’m 6′ 6″)
  4. Marvel > DC
  5. I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
  6. Selena Gomez, Skrillex, Simon & Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Five Finger Death Punch are all in my writing playlist.
  7. Aliens are real, but it’s self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
  8. Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
  9. I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
  10. I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

A Few of Andy’s Favorite Things

Favorite Books: The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, Sherlock Holmes by A.C. Doyle, Warlord of Mars by E.R. Burroughs

Favorite Songs: Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch, Prayer by Disturbed, I’m an Albatraoz by AronChupa, Look Down from Les Miserables, Shatter Me by Lindsay Sterling and Lizzi Hale

Favorite Movies: 300, Red Cliff, Shoot Em Up, Love Actually, Princess Bride

Favorite Comics: Anything with Deadpool, Wolverine or Doop in it

Favorite Foods: Hot Wings, Meat-Lover’s Salad, A good sandwich (made by me), Yaki Soba, Sushi

Favorite TV Shows: The Flash, Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawaii Five-0, Brooklyn 99, Firefly (too soon!), The Last Ship, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones

Read an excerpt from  Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

We’ve been at this for hours! When will he let us rest? Mind numb from hunger and fatigue, Viola placed one weary foot in front of the other. Blood dripped from cuts in her hands, arms, and forehead.

Master Velvet refused to let up. “Your past is gone, your families forgotten. You have no names, no identities. You are nothing more than a number until it is deemed fit to give you a name.”

The children called out as one, “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Everything you are, everything you will be, you owe to the Night Guild. We are your masters, your creators, your gods.” The tirade had repeated for endless hours, but Master Velvet never seemed to have enough.

“Yes, Master Velvet!”

Master Velvet’s voice cracked like a carter’s whip. “Disobedience will be punished harshly. Obedience will be rewarded well. Learn this and you will flourish in the Night Guild.”

Viola’s legs wobbled, her shoulders ached, and her arms shook from exertion. “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Forget everything you know. Forget life outside this room. You eat, sleep, and shit at my command.”

“Yes, Master Velvet!” Viola’s voice cracked from thirst and fatigue. She wanted to lie down, to close her eyes, to sleep.

Master Velvet snarled in her ear. “You live and die at the pleasure of the Night Guild. You belong to the Guild mind, body, and soul. What are you?”

“We are tyros, Master Velvet.”

He crouched beside her. “And what are tyros?”

“Lower than dirt, Master Velvet!”

A satisfied smile spread across his face. “Empty your buckets and set them on the floor beside the barrels. Double speed, my drudges.”

Viola tried to move faster, but her feet refused. By the time she reached the barrel at the far end of the room, only one other child remained. The boy, barely taller than her, had yet to empty his bucket. He strained to lift his heavy load. His hands trembled uncontrollably—a permanent condition that made even eating and drinking difficult. Water splashed down his tunic, turning the dirt to mud.

Emptying her pail, Viola dropped to the sodden ground with a half-sob, half-groan of relief.

“Get up, tyros!” Master Velvet would not let them rest.

Tears of exhaustion and frustration streaming, she climbed to her feet. Though her back protested, she forced herself straight when Master Velvet approached.

Stand tall, no matter what. Mama’s words echoed in her thoughts. I’m trying, Mama, but I’m so tired!

“Chow time, my drudges. You’ll find that table over there loaded with delights to fill your little bellies. Eat. You have done well.”

Someone had piled the table high with fruits, sweetmeats, and treats. She’d been too exhausted to notice. The scent of fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, and pastries wafted toward her. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation.

Master Velvet placed a hand on her shoulder. “Not you, Seven. You were the first to fail, so an example must be made.”

“B-But…” Viola couldn’t put up more than a weak protest.

“Off with you, Seven. To your bunk and reflect on your weakness.” His dark eyes held no kindness. “Pray to the Watcher for strength to survive.”

“Y-Yes, Master Velvet.” She turned away to hide her tears.

“Perhaps you’ll try harder tomorrow, Seven.” He spoke without a trace of compassion or pity in his voice. “If you want to have any hope of survival here in the Night Guild, this will be the last time you fail.”

Hunger gnawed at Viola’s belly, but it could not outweigh the bone-deep weariness. She forced herself not to look at the other children, to block out the sounds of their eating. Feet leaden, she turned to the tunnel that led to their sleeping quarters.

Tears flowed in earnest once she reached the darkness of the passage. Sobs of anger, desperation, and frustration washed over her, shaking her body like a leaf in a whirlwind.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she threw herself onto her bunk and buried her head in the thin pillow. She didn’t care that her clothes were soaking wet or that she hadn’t had any water to drink for hours. She wouldn’t allow any of the others to see her cry.

Bright Lady, hear me and protect me in my hour of need. Her parched throat refused to form the words.

The prayer had comforted her in the past, but now it felt empty. The hunger, exhaustion, and thirst remained. Minutes ticked by in silence. Nothing happened.

She balled her fists and swallowed the ache in her belly. Down here, she was all alone. The Bright Lady can’t hear me.

Why would she? The goddess of healing hadn’t heard when she’d prayed for Mama and baby Rose. The gods were far away, if they cared at all. Mama was gone and Papa had left her here. In this place, she was the only one she could count on. She had to be strong, just as she had been after Mama died.

I will get through another day. Just one more.

About Andy Peloquin, lover of all things dark and mysterious

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!

Learn more about Andy Peloquin and his books at

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New release: The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen

Bucelarii 2 Small

The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen

A faceless, nameless assassin. A forgotten past.  The Hunter of Voramis–a killer devoid of morals, or something else altogether? (The Last Bucelarii–dark fantasy with a look at the underside of human nature)

Author: Andy Peloquin

Official Launch Date: August 19th, 2016

Publication Date: July 21, 2016

Paperback Price: 15.99

Digital Price: 3.99

Pages: 340

ISBN: 1535388668

The Hunter of Voramis is no more.

Alone with the bloodthirsty voices in his head, fleeing the pain of loss, he has one objective: travel north to find Her, the mystery woman who plagues his dreams and haunts his memories.

When he stumbles upon a bandit attack, something within urges him to help. His actions set him at odds with the warrior priests commanded to hunt down the Bucelarii.

Left for dead, the Hunter must travel to Malandria to recover his stolen birthright. There, he is inexorably drawn into direct conflict with the Order of Midas, the faceless, nameless group of magicians that holds the city in a grip of terror. All while struggling to silence the ever-louder voice in his mind that drives him to kill.

From feared assassin to wretched outcast, the Hunter’s journey leads him to truths about his forgotten past and the Abiarazi he has pledged to hunt. His discoveries will shed light on who he really is…what he really is.

Fans of Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, and Brent Weeks will love the Hunter…

Buy The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen on Amazon US, and Amazon CA.

Enjoy an Excerpt from The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen

He filled his lungs with the fresh night air. The taste of smoke mixed with the earthy scent of loam. The warmth of the fire soothed and relaxed him, the hypnotic rhythm of the dancing flames calming his mind. The fatigue of the day washed over him, and he allowed his eyelids to droop.

The visions came then; memories leapt out at him.

Within the bright depths of the flames, he saw the hell he had glimpsed in the Serenii tunnels. Lord Jahel’s face appeared in the fire, laughing, mocking. Bone and skin morphed into the faces of Lord Cyrannius and the First of the Bloody Hand. Shuddering waves of flesh and gristle writhed, shifting, transforming.

Demons roam Einan once more. People treat them as myth and legend, but I know the truth.

The Hunter retreated deeper into his blankets, his sword clutched to his chest. He told himself it was out of habit rather than fear.

He had left Voramis behind, not only to find the truth of the woman whose face plagued him, but to discover the truth of the demons. Curiosity drove him to learn of his past, and his own heritage as a Bucelarii—descendant of the Abiarazi horde.

The demon added its voice to the swirling maelstrom in the Hunter’s mind. ‘He disowns his blood, all to play the hero, the protector.’

The Hunter was too tired to fight it off.

I’m no hero. If it was up to me, they’d all rot.

He had no desire to save the world. He had no reason to save humans from themselves.

A vision of horror flashed through his mind. Creatures of nightmares seized a screaming child, tearing at pale skin with razor-tipped claws. Blood splashed across chitinous armor as the demons ripped the child apart in their haste to devour the flesh.

The girl bore Farida’s face. She lay bloody, mangled, discarded like refuse, gasping her last agonizing breaths.

Oh, child. I am so sorry.

He wished he could scrub the memory from his mind forever. With it gone, the sorrow would leave. He needed no reminder that he was once again alone.

He turned his back on the fire and buried his face in his cloak.

He could turn his back on those who had feared and hated him, yet he had not the strength to hide his face from the suffering of innocents. People like Old Nan, Ellinor, Little Arlo. They would suffer most should the Abiarazi find their way into the world once more.

The demon whispered in his mind. ‘Why must you protect them? You are not one of them, after all. You are Bucelarii.’

They do not deserve such suffering.

He squeezed his eyes shut and pushed back against the demon’s voice.

I’m doing this for them.

He pictured Farida the way he had seen her that day in the Temple District, with that same bright smile. She was happy. That was what mattered, and that was what he would remember.

I’m doing this for her.

 

About the author:andy peloquin author photo

Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

Here’s where you can find out more about Andy and his writing:

| Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+ |  Amazon Author Page  | Facebook Author Page |

| Goodreads |

COMING IN HOT – Author Spotlight Tour

coming in hot cover

Paramedical meets paranormal in this steamy set filled with doctors, nurses, paramedics, shifters, werewolves, vampires, and more!

Get a dose of romance, STAT!

Featuring NYT, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors, we’re Coming In Hot with paranormal to contemporary, and sizzling to seductive bedside manners by the doctors, nurses, paramedics, and more in this boxed set.

Today’s Spotlight: Bad Medicine by Red L. Jameson!

bad medicine cover

When you make a deal with the devil…

Don’t complain about the heat.

Luckily, I like it hot.

Nurse Ian Ryder, or just Ryder, is everything I want. He’s big. He’s tough. He’s oh-so-sexy with his leather jacket and motorcycle that I’ve had indecent fantasies about. And even better, he seems emotionally closed off. Not the kind of man who would ask a lot of personal questions. The perfect candidate to reveal my secret—I’m still a virgin, worried I’ll die this way if I don’t do something about it soon. Somehow, I’m going to convince Ryder to play doctor with me.

Dr. Asha Whitetail is completely out of my league. Intelligent and sophisticated. And those glasses she wears makes me think about steaming up her scrubs. When an awkward moment turns into a hot kiss, I realize I’m going to do everything I can to have her—not just her body but her heart too. Problem is, she seems to want only one thing from me. So I’m going to make her an offer she can’t refuse. I’ll give her what she wants, if she spends time with me, gets to know me, the real me, while I do everything in my power to convince her she can play doctor with me…for life.

The Wild Love Series is set in Wyoming and Montana, where things are little more…wild, where love can never tamed. Each book within the series can be read as a standalone and intended for a mature and adventurous reader. Enjoy and fall in love!

***BRAND NEW & EXCLUSIVE***

Now Available for pre-order at $0.99 for a limited time on AmazonNookiBooksKobo, and ARe.

bad medicine interview image

Hello! Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my newest release Bad Medicine, Book 4 of the Wild Love Series, featured in the Coming in Hot Anthology! I’m so excited to share more about this book, the anthology, and even titbits about myself!

Tell us about your title featured in this set: 

Bad Medicine is Book 4 of the Wild Love Series, which, although it is a series, each book is a stand-alone. I can write pretty quickly and wrote it in about three weeks. However, it’s the editing that always takes the longest with my own revisions, the back-and-forth between a beloved critique buddy of mine then the back-and-forth between my editor and me, polishing, moving on to my proofer, and polishing some more. My editing process takes anywhere between a month to two months. Oh, and the title…Hee-hee! I asked the other members of the anthology what they thought and we all agreed to Bad Medicine!

Tell us something about yourself. 

Hmm, where to start? Well, I was born in Montana, but as soon as I turned eighteen I wanted to move away, so I did. I’ve lived in a lot of places during my early twenties, mostly in the South. But something kept calling me back home. Eventually, I moved back to Montana to be closer to family, met a special fella, and, well, the rest is history as they say. I love learning and have tried to continue my education with now one Master’s Degree in US Military history and several certificates—including fitness instructing to grammar to coding to you name it. But my best teacher of all is my thirteen-year-old son, wise beyond his years. I’m the luckiest mom in the world!

Tell us about your writing process. 

It depends on the book. But most often an idea comes, then a few scenes, then the character “talks” to me. I know. That sounds goofy, but I’ll have days where a certain character become so clear to me it’s as if he or she is really talking to me, telling me about their background, their goals, what motivates them, everything. After a few days to months of this, I plot his or her story. Then I write it furiously down. As I mentioned above, it’s the editing that takes me the longest, and by the time I’m done, the character is done talking to me, letting another enter my mind. J

What is your favourite genre to read? 

Romance and almost anything non-fiction.

What would you say is the one thing are you most passionate about? 

Being a good mother. I want to be a good partner, friend, sister and writer, but every day I try so hard to be a good mom to my wonderful boy.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do? 

I like reading, hiking, taking pictures on my hikes, cooking, baking, playing games with the fam…gosh, so much! There’s no shortage of fun things to do.

If someone who hasn’t read any your books asked you to describe your story in this set (the elevator pitch!) what would you say? 

Nurse Ian Ryder and Dr. Asha Whitetail make the deal of a lifetime. She wants to get rid of her V-card; he wants her heart. Who will win?

About the author:

red l jameson image

Red L. Jameson is an award-winning and multi-published author. She writes in many genres. Her pen name, L. B. Joramo, includes the odd combination of historical and paranormal for the Immortal American Series. However, it is under her “Red” name, her nickname too, where all her stories are strongly laced with love, including contemporary, historical, time-travel, paranormal, and erotic romance. Red lives in the wilds of Montana with her family and a few too many animals, and is currently working on her next novel that she hopes will make her readers laugh, cry, think, and fall in love.

She loves her readers, so please feel free to contact her at http://www.redljameson.com

Or sign up for her sporadic emails at http://bit.ly/1jUgUhr

Readers can connect with Red L. Jameson at:

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coming in hot giveaway imag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Release: UNAWQI, HUNTER OF THE SUN

Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun

Unawqi_Hunter_of_th_Cover_for_Kindle-194x300In a time when supernatural and industrial worlds are staged to collide, an Andean boy finds himself in the center of an epic struggle between the cosmos and the earth. Unawqi is born with both insurmountable power and a fate of certain death, both of which are challenged by his hunt of the emperor, Aakti, the Sun: the very force that desires to abandon the earth unless Unawqi can overcome him.

Genres: Mythical realism, Folklore, Science fiction, Adventure, LGBTQ.

How easily we take the Sun for granted. We are conditioned to its rising and setting on time, and assume it enjoys doing so, or more likely is indifferent. Unawqi, Hunter of the Sunreveals a more perilous tale: the Sun, Aakti, is a being who is a reluctant player in providing light and warmth to our world, and even more has always desired to leave us to die if he didn’t have certain personal complications standing in his way. Aakti will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if that involves murder of his own kin or annihilation of an entire living planet. Ironically, what holds him back is the very life he is creating; the family from which he tries to but cannot wrest control, and among them a young intrepid boy emerges, a hunter who sets out on a journey, not to stop the Sun, but to overcome him with a force we also take for granted: our humanity.

Buy Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun on Amazon and Kindle.

Enjoy an Excerpt: Chaper 2 – The Unawqi Awakening

Titu Ilumán walked quickly, his steps close together, to keep the altitude from decaying his pace.  He was in a hurry, but he knew the Quijos canyon well enough to calculate it would defeat him if he broke into a run.

He clutched his treasure beneath his punchu, Aakti Amurugana, words from an ancient language no longer spoken, but everyone knew what they meant.

He was carrying the seeds of the Sun.

At that moment, Titu knew what he had, but he would not comprehend the devastation that would come from them.

He only knew of the seeds from legends he had heard as a child, legends he’d come to mock.  He was unlike most everyone else.  He was not a believer in legends, and so he had forgotten their important details.

The legends say Aakti, the Sun, is not an unfeeling object in the sky.  It is not an it, but a he, a being, no different than are we.  He has a relationship with us, albeit a contentious one.  He is none other than the emperor of earth and sky, who is to be both worshipped and feared.

And here, Titu, a rather common man, had stolen the emperor’s seeds from the hands of his newborn son while his first cries of life were still piercing his ears from the valley floor below.  Titu knew what he had done, but he bristled at the notion of his deed as a theft.  The way he thought of it was that if he were the father of the child, then the seeds delivered through this birth were his rightful property.

Besides, Titu had a further motive.  He was born in a place where his ancestors had been for thousands of years, but it was also on the edge of “the next world,” as his parents put it.  Just over the next few hills from his own village, a people with pale skin had built their own village, made up of strange buildings, with everything laid out in squares.  They were driven and ambitious. They behaved as if nature was theirs to command, and they used tools he had never seen before that were efficient.  Titu craved to be a part of “the next world” and was a malcontent at home, uncomfortable with leaving the supernatural to gods and magicians.  Mysteries were gifts meant to be unwrapped, he believed.  They should be studied, tamed, and put to use for the purpose of advancing the lot of people like him, and not just the pale town a few hills away.

His parents did not encourage him as much.  They wanted to maintain the family tradition and see Titu growing cassava and plantain as had they and their parents.  But from the first time Titu lay ill in the house of the local shaman, he wanted to know what was in the bowls and baskets lining the healer’s walls, and how it worked according to nature, and not according to magic.  His parents chided him for asking, for such matters were not his business to know, which made Titu all the more determined to know.

In a larger drama, Titu was the next in line to be in possession of the Aakti Amurugana, but this was the first transfer of hands in almost a millennium, as they had gone missing for 888 years.  The emperor and the world did not know where they were, but in truth, they had been held captive all that time by the sorcerer of Antisana, the one they called Moche.

Moche was a completely foreign entity to the people of the Quijos.  He was not of the family of the mountains, but a demon who had usurped the mountain in his control, burying its rightful goddess somewhere inside.  Where he came from, no one knew, but his ways, though different, were also wanting of the Sun.

The local people feared him terribly, for he would hunt them and bring them back to the mountain to be sacrificed, drinking their blood, saying it pleased the Sun, even though this was not according to anything they believed or practiced.

As far as Titu was concerned, he didn’t care to think about all of that.  The seeds were the most powerful medicine he could ever hope to find, and there were no parents this time to deny him from taking and demystifying this magic.  This was an extraordinary opportunity for him to become a legend himself, if he could but harness the power of the seeds.

Still, the fact that he was running arrested his conscience.  He was a fugitive, and he knew it.  He had to leave Tamaya behind, a woman whom, at one time, he could not keep himself from.  She was weak and without aid, the blood of her womb flowing, cold, onto the floor of her grass-roofed hut.

Titu loved her, and many times had thought of bringing her home to marry her, but he’d convinced himself he was protecting her from danger.  A great many powerful people–sorcerers, kings, witches–would kill to have Aakti Amurugana.  He needed to get them far away from Tamaya to keep her safe, so far that his footprints would be lost, even if it meant Tamaya would never be able to see him again.

Tamaya never laid her eyes on the seeds because her eyes were closed tight with labor’s pain when they were snatched from the child’s hand.  So for her, Titu’s sudden flight was as mysterious as it was cruel.

Lost in his thoughts, Titu stumbled over a stone in his path.  He rolled down the side of the canyon, and would have encountered his death if another death had not encountered him first.  The still warm belly of a dead, black goat was braced to the edge of a cliff, bleeding, having succumbed to a thicket of tarapacana.  Its bulging eyes stared directly into Titu’s as if pleading with him, a little too late.

Titu had been told to beware if he ever saw a dead, black goat in the wild, for it was an omen of a bad future, so he delicately raised himself to his knees, and blessed the goat with a nod of awe, fearing it might awaken from the dead.  The black goat’s eyes would not leave him as Titu pulled himself back up the hillside.

Those eyes would never leave him.

Through the indigo night he ran west over the Papallacta plateau.  The seeds under his punchu harassed him with a gravitational clash, some craving the fleeting sun in front of him, others pulling toward the cries of the child behind him.  He wondered if the seeds were his captives or his captors.  Who had the greater power, him or them? What if the seeds were to forever maintain two opinions?

When the Sun, the emperor Aakti, passed over the valley the next day, he sensed his amurugana had reemerged, and that they were pulling at him from the west.  This meant they had been stolen, yet again, after 888 years of captivity, and Aakti heated up with anger, ready to burn the grass roofs of the huts underneath him into ashes.

But Tamaya, who had only the knowledge of an abandoned child suffering in the merciless heat, and none of the seeds, cried out for Moche, the sorcerer of Antisana, to save her, to send wind or rain to contest the Sun.

Little did she know that Moche well knew why Aakti had been angered.  Moche himself had kept Aakti Amurugana successfully concealed from the emperor for almost nine centuries, and now he had been robbed of them, the same as Aakti.  He wanted them back, just as much as the emperor, and was pleased this call from a common woman would give him a head start on retrieving them.

Having heard Tamaya calling, Moche put some coca leaves in his mouth, chewed them, and spit out a plume, high into the air, making the sky sneeze, expelling a squall of hail into the valley, and throwing a blanket under the Sun.

When the squall settled, Aakti had fled west to hunt for his seeds.  Tamaya had barely a moment to be grateful when Moche showed up at her door to collect his debt.

He was a scrawny demon, no taller than Tamaya’s waist.  He looked like any of the other people of the valley, but seven times older than old.  His clothes were scavenged from whatever travelers had lost in the mountains: a white Cañari hat, loosely enveloping his tiny head; an Otavaleño scarf he had fashioned into a vest; and pants made from of a sack that probably had carried spices from the Amazon.

He held out his shriveled hand.

“I saved you from Aakti, but he wants what is mine.  Give me the child before the emperor returns.”

The startled mother looked at the little sorcerer, no bigger than her dog, but with enough strength to squash her like an ant between his fingers.  She knew well Moche’s traditions, and of his sacrifices.

“But this is my son!  I cannot let him go!” Tamaya contested.

“Listen to me,” Moche warned, “for I will only tell you this once.  You will not survive tomorrow if you stay, and you will surely die in the caves of Antisana where the child and I will live.  Run away, east into the cloud forest, where the emperor does not know your name and will pass over you.  The child will only be safe with me.  Everything else will die.”

Helpless and terrified, Tamaya ran from Moche, but though he was smaller, he was faster, and stronger.  He caught up with her and pulled the child into his arms, pushing Tamaya down and onto the ground.  She screamed at him for mercy, and tried to pursue him, but the sorcerer stamped his foot on the ground creating a wide hole between them that she could not cross.

Despite his size, Moche had no problem bearing the weight.  He carried the child away without hurry and disappeared over a hill, and Tamaya wept until she had no voice left with which to scream.  Now both Titu and her child were gone.  All that she had were the words of Moche saying the child will live.  She resolved to find a scheme to get him back.

Fearing for the emperor’s return and destroying the rest of her life around her, Tamaya quickly packed her things, gathered her goats, and fled down into the cloud forest, as Moche had told her to do.  But once there, the forest closed around her and she lost the trail she had made.  She could not find her way back to the valley, as much as she tried.

Moche brought the child into the cool underworld of Antisana, a spectacle of a thousand tunnels and crystal streams, with glowing pools of azure-colored lava emitting light and warmth.  It was a land the emperor had never seen, the land where his seeds had once been held prisoner.

The sorcerer entered a chamber so grand it seemed to have a sky of its own, its clerestory heights filled with flying bats, ventilating the air.  There, he laid the sleeping child down on a bed of eucalyptus leaves, and one of the bats flew down and hung over the child’s head to protect him.

“The day will come,” Moche whispered to the sleeping child, “when the Sun will forget you, but I, on the other hand, have found you, and you are now mine.  I will train you to be a hunter, but not of mere beasts.  You will hunt for the atama who stole my seeds in the night, and return them here to my keeping.  Aakti Amurugana: they are crying for you already; I know you hear them.  They need you to keep them planted, here in the world.  Until then, I know who you are.  You are the most gifted creature to ever touch the earth.  You are…Unawqi!”

The child awoke upon hearing his name, and cried like a shrill flute from another world, and all the million bats in the chamber fell stunned to the floor.

About the author:

papakaliPapaKali is the brainchild of Kali Kucera, an American artist, lorist, and entrepreneur.

Since he was 9 years old he has been composing plays, operas, short stories, and multi-disciplinary experiences. He has been both a teacher and performer as well as an arts mobilizer, and founded the Tacoma Poet Laureate competition in 2008.

After some time being a teller, Kali was concerned about the absence of both original and local lore, and no one seemed to be preserving the tradition of creating new narratives, tales, and myth about why the world around us is the way it is. He therefore devoted his energy to filling this void with PapaKali, beginning with tales of the South Sound and continuing with new tales emerging from the inspiration of the high Andes of South America, where Kali currently lives while also running a bus travel information service called AndesTransit (http://andestransit.com).

It is important to understand that in PapaKali lore, self-standing stories are often interconnected with other stories. Characters in one story will appear in a completely different context of another story, hence establishing a pantheon upon which lore can be constructed. The second important aspect is that the stories often change; they live and breathe as the influences of new narratives emerge to support the interconnectedness.

As a reader, therefore, we urge you to not read these like a book, but more like the oral tradition upon which they more appropriately relate. Check back on them to see how nuances have changed like you would listen to a story being told every year around a campfire.

Learn more about Papakali and Kali Kucera on his website at papakali.com.

The Forgotten Origins Trilogy Sale!

For a limited time, you can have the box set for under a dollar!
July 15th – 22nd
 
 


  
An alien plague. A sixteen-year-old girl. A fight to save the world.

The Forgotten Origins Trilogy is a fast-paced young adult sci-fi story, centered around sixteen-year-old Alex. What starts as a rare meteor shower ends up unleashing a viral plague that changes everything. Led into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest by cryptic clues left from her deceased father, Alex discovers that the past is not what she learned in school. When the human race balances on the brink of extinction, the fate of the world rests on the truth being exposed. To unravel the ancient secrets, Alex must rely on her friends, family and few allies. The Forgotten Origins is an epic saga, drawing the reader into a fascinating, frightening world where the unfolding drama will keep you riveted until the last page is turned.

The Forgotten Origins crosses many genres including science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, and supernatural. It is also a clean read! (PG-13)

 [The series has a combined 78 reviews with a 4.6 average rating!]
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
About the Author:
 
Author Tara Ellis lives in a small, rural town in Washington State, set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys the quiet lifestyle with her husband, two teenage kids and several dogs. Tara was a firefighter/EMT, and worked in the medical field for many years, before committing herself to writing young adult and middle grade novels full-time. 

She grew up on sci-fi, was a devoted Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fan, and has since found a love for conspiracy theories. This background, combined with a wild imagination has led to The Forgotten Origins Trilogy. The first book in the series, Infected, was a finalist in the IAN 2015 Book of the Year Awards, was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, named ‘Indie Book of the Day in Oct, 2014’ and voted as ‘Top 50 Indie Books of 2014’. (readfreely.com)

Her on-going middle grade mystery series, The Samantha Wolf Mysteries, has hit the best seller status on Amazon in the children’s detective story genre several times, and continues to grow in popularity. The engaging, fun stories herald back to the days of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon, and several readers have commented that the series is of the same caliber. These are clean reads that are suitable for the whole family to read together, and are also part of the Kindle Unlimited program.
 
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New Release! Roue of the Dragon: Full Moon Series

New Release From Amazon #1 and Top 100 Bestselling and Award Winning author P.Mattern

Roue Of The Dragon

by P. Mattern

 

What if you could start completely over?

Clean slate
Without limitations or disabilities
Without human failures of any kind
…and all it cost was your SOUL?

The question is-would you do it?

Well, would you?

About The Book

Full Moon Series Book 5: Roue of the Dragon
Amazon Top 100 Best Selling Series! 

There be dragons — Argent has taken over Faquier Hall after his mother Mitzi kills his father Adrastos. Not all of the vampires and humans transition into the new step-dimension intact. ..And is Charley Rabbit really gone for good?

The amazing and popular saga continues!

You can get your copy today!

Buy Full Moon Series Book 5: Roue of the Dragon on Amazon.

Excerpt:

Rosalie stirred in her sleep, then opened her eyes. Standing over her, her pearl grey hair in an uncombed tumble, was her best friend in Training Camp, Nanny.

“Rosie!” she repeated , shaking Rosalie gently,”Wake up. The sun is just coming up over the hill, and today is Dante’s birthday! There will be a sacred ceremony on Tranquility Hill at dawn before Waterwalking practice, and whichever group gets there first gets breakfast afterward!”

Inwardly Rosalie groaned as she stretched. It was difficult sleeping in a separate dorm from Jaxon. Those apprenticed to Dante Febere were required to live segregated lives and the lifestyle as an ascetic ,abstaining from physical contact for the duration of the training. Rosalie was determined to learn all that she could of both the White Arts and also Magick, the darker arts, but keeping her high libido in check, and especially staying ‘pure’ when Jaxon was in proximity was pure torture.

Her dreams were filled with Jaxon and all the creative lovemaking they had done before taking the Mage’s Oath to learn from the Most High Mage Dante Febere.

Feeling her personal power increase with each session was a pure adrenalin rush.

Living a nun’s life plain sucked.

They were rarely partnered up for the sessions, and Rosalee never was partnered with Jaxon. As far as she could tell Dante was making a massive effort to keep them apart. Still, every time they were in training, she could feel his eyes on her. He returned her glances with wink and smiles. Rosalie thought that Jaxon had the sexiest smile she’d ever seen: his lips were long and curvy and his smiling eyes were full of secrets.

Dante’s mistress Miel ( the French word for honey) entered the sleeping and dressing chamber for the young women and clapped her long white hands together to get their attention.

Please wear your best robes over your Combat Attire ladies,” she told them, ”And proceed to

Tranquility Hill. The young men are already gathered there! Hurry—the sun has almost gained the crest of the hill.”

All conversation fell off and the young women followed Mistress Miel in pairs. Rosalie was grateful to have Nanny by her side. Nanny was a rare soul, with prematurely light grey hair and violet eyes.

Her features were even, and she might have been considered beautiful were it not for her withered left hand.

Curious about it, and being blunt by nature, Rosalie had asked her about it one evening as they shared two cups of Earl Grey tea spiked with honey wine.

Nanny had looked down shyly before answering her.

“My mother told me that my hand is withered because of a curse. My father had cut off the hand of a man caught stealing coins from my mother’s household chest in the middle of the night after he broke the lock with a file. The man was in agony of course, and swore that he would have his gypsy mother curse my father’s firstborn with a withered hand…

“Say what you will about gypsies—their magic is powerful, so you can see.”

Rosalie was appalled.

“But you were innocent of all wrongdoing! How can it be that such a curse was manifested? The act was your father’s…and not without reason!”

“Ay that,” Nanny answered her , her Irish brogue kicking in, ”But curses are carried in the blood to ten generations.

“And I AM my father’s child!”

Remembering that conversation, Rosalie impulsively took Nanny’s withered hand , which was on the side facing her as she walked side by side with Nanny. It was soft, and smaller, but she felt the need to let Nanny know that she was valued just as she was.

Nanny, as if she could read both Rosalie’s thoughts and intent, turned and blew her a kiss with her other, perfectly formed hand.

At last they reached the crest of the hills. All the young males flanked Dante’s left side. Their hoods were pulled so far forward over their faces that it was impossible to guess their individual identities.
Dante gestured that the young woman should line up facing the young men, leaving an aisle 15 feet wide between them. As soon as they were situated, and while Rosalie was ruing the fact that the boys would be getting the Breakfast with Dante, he began to speak.

“Glorious Sun, giver of warmth and life in many realms, we greet you! Embrace us with your divine light. Grant us your eternal burning brightness and impart to us your fierceness.

Kiss the faces of those who gather here this morning for they are bold and desire to know your mysteries.

Without warning, Dante raised both of his golden robe clad arms above his head in a wave motion and then stretched his hands forward, turning his head to the side as bright multicolored flames sprang from the tips of his fingers. Pouring like liquid to the ground, the river of flame quickly coursed up the small gully between the male and female Mages in training, growing higher and higher as it did so, until there was a mounting wall of flame that stretched 15 feet into the air.

Rosalie could barely see the male students through the flames, which seemed to operate apart from all natural law, burning brightly although the ground underneath remained unscorched.

As suddenly as the wall of flame had appeared, it disappeared, and several of the apprentice Mages gasped and press their hands to their cheeks.

Each had a roughly heart shaped burn on one cheek: the kiss of the sun.

As the entire group turned to go to the Eastern Lake for their Waterwalking practice, Rosalie noticed the mage speaking to two of the apprentices. He had a serious look on his face, and the female apprentice immediately buried her face in her hands. The Male apprentice’s face looked ashen even under the shade of his hood. Dante pointed in the direction of Castle Febere and the couple walked off in that direction their shoulders slumped. Rosalie could hear the muffled weeping of the girl as she walked away from the group.

One of Rosalie’s gifts was a high amount of prescience, and she knew instantly why the couple had been sent off—they had violated the abstinence rule. Because they were not pure they had not received the Kiss of the Sun, and with it, the ability to make fire flow from their fingers.

Their lust had cost them dearly. Rosalie swallowed hard, vowing to herself that she would not meet the same fate. What Mage Dante Febere was offering them was an opportunity to become powerful, but with the opportunity would come responsibilities, as well as the continued observance of many rituals.

Rosalie remembered the first lesson the Mage had taught them:

Where power is taken, control is given…

Where control is taken, power is given.

In order to access the kind of power Dante Febere had sacrifice would be required, but the outcome would be worth it: all of them would retain a level of power and control never granted humans and rarely gifted to immortals.

In Rosalie’s opinion, it was worth it.

COPYRIGHT BY P. MATTERN 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Roue Of The Dragon Book 5 from The Full Moon Series

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The Omen Operation

omen operation tour BANNERfirst concept omen operation

Omen Operation
by Taylor Brooke
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Limitless Publishing

Summary:

After an epidemic spreads through the country, Brooklyn Harper’s high school years come to an abrupt end.

Implanted in a rural camp, Brooklyn and her friends are cut off from their families and the outside world. Each day is filled with combat training to assure their safety against the crazed, belligerent, and deadly— those infected with a mysterious virus.

If the world couldn’t get any crazier, a letter ups the insanity…

After being assured day after day that the world outside their little camp had been compromised, Brooklyn’s cabin-mate, Dawson Winters, finds a letter that turns everything they’d known upside down. There is a world outside the trees that surrounds their camp, and the virus they all feared seems non-existent.

Determined to see it herself, Brooklyn plots with others to attempt an escape…

On the outside, Brooklyn finds the world is as normal as ever. But when they are attacked in the city, they dispose of their attackers far more efficiently than any normal human.. Is there more to Brooklyn and her friends then just being highly trained?

As their exploration continues, the group is faced with impossible feats. Betrayal, love, death, and a powerful sense ofcamaraderie lead Brooklyn and her friends to fight for their life, their freedom, and most of all, each other.

Buy Omen Operation on Amazon.

Add to Goodreads

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About the Author:

taylor brooke

Taylor Brooke is the author of the upcoming sci-fi adventure trilogy The Isolation Series. She started out as a freelance makeup artist, and quickly discovered her love of elves, zombies, mermaids, kaiju, and monsters of all kinds. After receiving eight professional certifications in special effects makeup, working on countless projects, and fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures, she turned her imagination back to her one true love- books. Taylor has had a knack for writing since she was a little girl, and received recognition for her skills throughout grade school and junior college. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of steaming hot tea in her hands, scanning the shelves for new reads, or hiking one of the many mountains that surround her home in Oregon.

Author Links:

Website │ Goodreads │ Twitter |

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Believably Dystopic

rp_autumninthecityofangelscover-220x300.jpgWhen 17 year old Autumn finds herself alone in Los Angeles after a global pandemic, she does her best to survive. On a foray into the city, she is taken in by The Front, a group whose focus is power and repopulation. Autumn escapes and is saved by Grey, who disappears shortly thereafter. She returns to her condo where she discovers Ben and his seven year old sister, Rissi. The three of them set up house in Autumn’s penthouse and grow to become a family, but waning supplies forces Autumn out into the dangerous streets of Los Angeles in search of Grey. Due to the air of mystery surrounding him and the kindness he showed her, Grey has become all Autumn can think of lately. And she thinks she knows just how to find him, based on the directions he left her just before he disappeared.

Kirby Howell’s Autumn in the City of Angels was a great read. Howell expertly sets the scene of a believably dystopic Los Angeles. And while Autumn contains many of the plot lines familiar to this genre– a mysterious boy with whom the protagonist can’t help but fall in love; two camps, one good, one evil; most of the world destroyed by a super-virus–there is one plot twist that I didn’t foresee (and which I won’t divulge here) that makes it different from the rest. Autumn in the City of Angels is more than a simple tale of surviours in a post-apocalyptic world. The sci-fi elements are there if you look closely enough. These elements serve to throw a wrench into Autumn and Grey’s sweet love story and hooks the reader further in as the novel races toward the end.

I’ll admit I was thrown for a loop when the big sci-fi element was spelled out for me. When I went back to write this review, I realized that was because I wasn’t reading closely enough. Howell drops hints that I’d missed throughout. Simple things like Autumn’s loss of time that are credited to her injuries, have a much deeper meaning, so watch out for them when you read. And though my first impulse was to stop reading at the point of the reveal, I’m glad I didn’t. My one true complaint is that the book ends too abruptly, and without resolution, probably to leave the reader wanting more for the next book in the series. I’m one of those few people out there who don’t particularly like binge reading series, and would have preferred more of a plot resolution as a result. If you enjoy reading series, however, then you won’t be disappointed. Howell’s intention, to leave the reader wanting more, is bang on.

If you enjoy dystopic sci-fi and paranormal, romance book series, you are in for a treat in  Autumn in the City of Angels.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Excerpt from “Breathe” by Christine Grey

Breathe-Final Cover (1)

About Breathe by Christine Grey (from Amazon.com):

Dearra comes into possession of the magical Sword of Cyrus just as the evil Breken attack her island home. Though her people succeed in driving their enemy back to the sea, one of the invaders remains behind, left for dead by his cruel kin. Now, Dearra doesn’t know what to be more surprised by, the fact that her sword can speak to her, or that it has imperiously informed her that the handsome Breken warrior is her destiny. The two are bound together by a chain of events that was set into motion a thousand years earlier, and everything they thought they knew about themselves, their history, and their future is about to change.

Buy Breathe on Amazon.

Excerpt from Breathe

Dearra bolted upright at the voice that seemed to come from all around her and inside her head at the same time.

“Who is it? Who’s there?” She meant to speak with authoritative calm, but the words came out in a pitiful squeak.

You really aren’t very bright, are you? came the response, the voice flowing around her and through her.

She leapt from the bed, dropped to the floor, and looked beneath it.

Not even warm, taunted the voice.

Dearra sprang to the window and tore aside the heavy drapery…nothing.

It will come to you. I know you can do this. Connect the dots, girl.

Dearra’s gaze drifted back to her bed and the sword that waited for her on top of the soft coverlet. But it couldn’t be, could it? It was impossible, wasn’t it? Dearra took a small, tentative step back toward the sword. What else could it be? She took another step.

Ah, success! There may be hope for you after all, girl.

Coming to a stop at the bedside, Dearra let her weak knees have their way, and she sank to the floor in shock.

“How are you…? I mean…what are you…? I mean…Wow! You can talk!” The words tumbled from her in a confused jumble.

Yes, yes, very good, girl. You’ve not only managed to grasp the obvious, but you almost succeeded in completing a coherent sentence. Very, very impressive. I can see we’re going to get on famously.

It was impressive, when you considered it, Dearra thought, that without facial expression to assist, one could convey that level of sarcasm.

Thank you; I try.

“Have you always been able to talk?”

Certainly. I am incredibly intelligent, even for my kind.

Your kind? Are there other swords like you?”

Of course not; I am quite unique. And as to ‘my kind’, well, that is a story for another day, if I decide I can tolerate you well enough to share that kind of personal information with you.

Dearra sniffed lightly. “Not too full of yourself, are you?”

The sword paused, as if considering the question seriously before responding. No, I should think I am full of myself just the right amount.

Dearra wrapped her arms around herself as a fit of giggles shook her from head to toe. She slowly regained control, as the events of only an hour ago came flooding back, and a frown creased her brow.

The deep sadness was about to take hold again when the sword spoke brusquely. Now, now, none of that. We have much to discuss and much to do, and curling yourself back into a useless ball on the bed won’t get us anywhere. Unless, of course, you wish to reconsider the whole notion of death by cliff. That would certainly save me a fair bit of trouble.

Dearra scowled at the sword and snapped, “No, I have myself quite under control now, thank you.”

Good. Now, what else would you like to know before we save Darius?

“Well, I guess I would like to know…Wait—who’s Darius?”

Excellent, girl! You grasped that one much more quickly. You’re improving.

Exasperation dripping from Dearra’s tongue as she fought to control her simmering temper, she said, “Could you please just answer the question?”

Darius is the Breken warrior I saved from you earlier today. The one that little man so thoughtlessly clubbed on the head.

Dearra was stunned. “Wait! He lives?” she said.

Wouldn’t make much sense to save him if he were already dead, would it?

Dearra was overwhelmed. The image of the handsome Breken warrior shimmered in her mind. Questions came in a steady stream and her pulse quickened. How had he managed to survive such a vicious blow to the head? How did the sword know he was alive, and why was it so important she save him?

Are you quite finished?

It was amazing how quickly Dearra had gotten used to someone responding to the thoughts she hadn’t spoken out loud. Strangely, it felt like remembering a skill she had been born with and forgotten from lack of use.

Firstly, I have no idea. The Breken have hard heads, what can I say? Secondly, I know a lot of things you don’t and do not feel the need to share the whys and hows of it with you, and lastly, because we need him to get back that little brother of yours so you won’t spend the rest of your life in a useless catatonic state. Oh, and he’s your destiny, which I suppose you may find an interesting piece of trivia, though hardly useful.

Dearra nearly choked. “My what?”

He’s not going to be your anything if we don’t get moving. They’re about to find him. You may want to hurry things along a bit, girl.

Scooping the sword from the bed, Dearra raced from her room and down the winding staircase, past the shocked faces of Daniel and Hugh, and out into the courtyard.

Not knowing what else to do, the men followed behind her. The look they shared clearly conveyed their fear that Dearra had lost her mind, perhaps as a side effect to the terrible loss of Pip. They were not really trying to catch her, just follow her to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself in her mad dash to Cyrus only new where.

Coming to a skidding halt at the gate, she asked out loud, “Where now? I can’t remember where I was.”

Take the path east out of the castle, cross the stream, and you should hear them. Hurry, girl!

As she sprinted over the bridge, familiar voices came to her. The hatred and anger in their tone made her feet slow to a gentle trot so she could make out what they were saying more clearly.

“Run him through!”

“He’s half dead already.”

“Evil spawn doesn’t deserve to live.”

Dearra felt shock cross her features as she came around the small clump of bushes that had hidden the scene from view. This was not the behavior she expected from the people of Maj. Certainly, they had a right to be angry; their home had been invaded, their lives put in jeopardy, friends and family injured, and dear Pip had been taken from them. This last thought sent a shiver through her. But to speak with such bitter hatred and eager anticipation of the death of another, even a Breken, made Dearra’s blood run cold. Then she saw him and it all clicked together.

Jacob stood back and a little away from the others, but there was no doubt in her mind as to who had stirred the people into this angry mob. Jacob was not born to the isle but had joined them three seasons ago. He seemed a quiet and unassuming addition to their group, but wherever trouble was, so too would be Jacob, usually whispering in someone’s ear. Her father tolerated Jacob, hoping that, eventually, the people of Maj would rub off on him, making him into a useful and productive part of the community. Dearra had her doubts as to their potential for success, but it seemed important to her father so she held her tongue.

Sitting part way up, his back propped against a large stone, Darius held his sword out in front of him. It was a futile gesture; his arm shook so badly from the effort it took simply to hold the sword, there would be no force behind any swing he could manage. His black hair was matted from the head wound he had received from Daniel, and the blood that had run so freely had dried to form a gruesome mask covering the left side of his face. Dearra’s eyes met his for just a moment, but it was long enough to see recognition flitter across his features.

“What’s going on here?” she said evenly, meeting each pair of eyes that looked to her own.

Hugh and Daniel walked around the same cluster of bushes Dearra had passed and moved to stand behind her.

“I said, what’s going on here?” her tone became sharper.

Several of the people dropped their heads. Shame washed over them as they realized what they had been about to do.

Jacob stepped forward, and with no hint of remorse in his voice as he addressed Dearra, said, “We were about to exterminate a pest, Dearra. You’ve been through enough today. Return to the castle, and let us deal with this unpleasant business.”

“No,” she stated simply.

Oh, that’s wonderful, girl. I am sure everything will be fine now.

“You be quiet,” she mumbled. “I can handle this.”

Concerned glances flitted about the assembled group at what appeared to be Dearra speaking to herself. But one set of eyes widened almost imperceptibly as Darius, from his prone position, looked first at Dearra and then to the sword she held.

“I don’t understand, Dearra,” Jacob said, speaking as if to a half-wit. “No? You wish to kill him yourself, then?”

“There has been enough pain today, Jacob. Are you so eager to bloody your hands against this defenseless man? Besides, he may prove useful in restoring my brother to us.”

Very nice, what an excellent notion, girl. Did you think of that all by yourself?

I’m trying to diffuse the situation, Dearra thought. Be still, and let me try to fix this. That is what you wanted isn’t it?

Humph, came the reply.

“Be reasonable, Dearra,” Jacob whined like a child who was not getting his way. “He’s dangerous. Let us put an end to him quickly. It will be more merciful than his kind would be for any of us.”

Hugh stepped forward and put his hand upon Dearra’s shoulder, silencing the sharp retort he knew was coming. “Dearra speaks wisely. This Breken may indeed prove useful in returning Phillip to us. In any case, I will not make a decision that could affect us all in haste. Take him to the keep and lock him in the lower store room. The apples have not yet been harvested; use that room. Bar the door, and put two guards outside.”

Disarming him with ease, they picked the young man roughly from the ground, and half dragged, half carried him toward the castle. Dearra trailed a short way behind to make sure they did not get too enthusiastic in their efforts to hurry him along.

Darius’s eyes were everywhere at once. He surveyed his surroundings anxiously, trying to commit to memory any opportunity for escape. What he could do to escape an island, with no boat, and no one looking for him, was a detail he ignored for the moment. At that instant, he was simply grateful to be breathing; he would work the rest out later.

They took him to a room one level below the main keep. It was cool and dry and held the faintest aroma of fruit. He leaned against the dirt wall and slid less than gracefully to the smooth, plank floor. Empty baskets of varying sizes were strewn about in haphazard stacks, waiting to be needed again.

Dearra took one last, long, lingering look, and then firmly shut the door. Jacob volunteered to be one of the guards, and since she could think of no reason to object, she let him have his way. She was comforted, however, when the much milder tempered Bryan stepped forward as the second volunteer.

Dearra’s footsteps echoed through the deserted corridors as she made her way back to her personal chamber. Her thoughts were a twisted mass as she relived, over and over, the moment she saw her brother on the Breken ship, his innocent face pale, and his eyes wide in fear. The cold black, eyes of his captor were too far away to really be visible, yet she knew they had been filled with triumph at his victory over the people of Maj. Then her mind remembered the eyes of another, golden brown, holding her captive and refusing to let her look away, and she shook her head trying to rid herself of the image. Dearra swept up the stairs into her room and dropped the sword onto her bed, unceremoniously. She scanned her room until she found what she was looking for, and made her way to the jumbled pile of objects near the fireplace.

Where do you think you’re going?

“To my father and Daniel, and then back to our strange…um…guest. His wound needs attention,” Dearra explained. She pushed aside a pair of mud-caked pants and a torn vest she kept meaning to repair, and scooped up the bag in which she kept her supply of healing medicines, assorted bandages, and basic medical instruments.

Fine. Leave me here, then. Abandon me. I’ll just wait until you are content to give me your attention once more.

“Yeah,” Dearra responded, distracted. “That would be great, thanks.” Turning back toward the bed, she asked, “Hey, what’s your name?” almost casually.

My name, girl, is ancient. I am descended from… well, never mind that. My name is a thing of power and awe. I am called Brin’du Drak’Tir, the sword said brimming with pride.

Dearra absorbed the name, briefly, finding it cumbersome and awkward in her mouth. “Ok, I’ll just call you Brin,” she responded, pleased with her solution to the problem of the funny name.

Decidedly offended, taken aback that anyone could be so casual about a thing of such monumental importance, the sword shot back, Fine! And I shall call you Big Fuzzy Animal with Antlers.

“Yeah, yeah. Deal,” Dearra said, as she whisked from the room.

***

Forgetting her plans to speak to her father and Daniel first, Dearra flew through the halls and down the short set of stairs leading to the storerooms. Heart pounding, she came to a stop in front of Bryan and Jacob. They looked at Dearra, and then at one another in confusion.

“Well? What are you waiting for?” Dearra demanded. “Open the door!”

“But, Dearra,” Bryan stammered, clearly at a loss for words.

“Absolutely not!” Jacob stated. “Lord Hugh ordered us to keep watch over the prisoner!”

“So? Keep watch. No one’s stopping you.” Dearra took a step forward and placed a hand on the heavy board barring the door. As she braced herself to lift the board up and out of her way, Jacob’s hand clamped down on her upper arm.

“I said, no, Dearra.”

“Let go of me immediately.” Dearra’s voice was calm and cool, but a bolt of panic swept through her as the grip tightened painfully around her arm. Her temper flared to life. She saw Bryan take a step back, recognizing the golden flames that sprang to life in Dearra’s eyes. Bryan had always been a friend to Dearra, and the look of fear on his face unsettled her where nothing else would have. Though the pain in her arm increased along with the pressure of Jacob’s grip, Dearra took a slow deep breath before speaking in as calm a voice as she could muster under the circumstances, “You’re hurting me.” Dearra’s voice shook with the effort it was costing her to remain in control, but only slightly so.

Bryan’s eyes popped wide open, and his jaw dropped as far as it could go as he stared at the scene in front of him in disbelief.

Two sounds came to Dearra almost simultaneously, one in her head, the other clearly coming from the other side of the door. The first was easily recognizable.

I’ll bet you wish I was there now, don’t you, Fuzzy? Her sword spoke in an ‘I told you so’ manner that grated on her nerves. And that nickname was going to wear quickly thin.

Who knew the blasted thing could hear her thoughts even when it wasn’t with her?

The second sound was indistinguishable at first, but as it grew in intensity, there could be no doubt the prisoner behind the heavy door was…no, he couldn’t be…but he was. Dearra could clearly hear that the fierce Breken warrior was…growling a low, throaty sound. Jacob hastily loosened his hold, though he did not let go completely.

Things could have gone badly had Daniel not chosen that exact moment to make an appearance at the base of the stairs.

Daniel spoke, and the fierce growl coming from behind the door ceased abruptly.

“Is everything alright here, Dearra?” Daniel’s eyes (and ears for that matter), had assessed the situation rapidly, and if he were to be honest with himself, he had to say that, in this circumstance, he was completely with the Breken.

Jacob took a wise step away from Dearra before speaking again. “Of course, Daniel.” A simpering smile appeared on Jacob’s face as he continued. “Dearra was…confused. She thought to enter the room with the Breken dog, and so, naturally, I had to protect her.”

“Protect her from what, exactly? One injured man against Dearra with the two of you standing guard just feet away? Open the door, Jacob,” Daniel said, daring Jacob to contradict his instructions, “and when you’ve finished with that, please fetch Serah to take your place at watch. You’ve clearly had a busy day and are deserving of some rest.”

“You want Serah, Daniel? Wouldn’t one of the men be better suited to…?”

Daniel raised one brow at the now tongue tied Jacob, who went at once to remove the board barring the way to the prisoner, then turned and left without another word.

“I’ll be right here for you, Dearra. Until Serah arrives.”

“Thank you, Daniel.” Dearra reached out, patted Daniel’s arm in gratitude, and walked into the storeroom turned cell.

A scowl grew on Dearra’s face as she saw no blankets, nor food, nor even water, for that matter, had been brought to the prisoner. She quickly stuck her head back through the door and instructed Bryan to bring some of each to her immediately. Having witnessed Daniel’s ire with Jacob, Bryan didn’t need to be told twice, and was gone almost before Dearra was done speaking. Dearra closed the door before turning back to her patient and lowered herself beside him on the wooden floor. He was large, of course, but seemed smaller than many of the Breken she had seen earlier that day. He was, maybe, only six and a half feet tall. His skin was the beautiful, copper color she remembered from their earlier encounter, though it was harder to see now, with only one small torch lighting the room. His thick, black hair looked even blacker, if that was possible, with the blood matted and dried in the strands. And then there were his eyes, made even more glorious by the flickering light of the torch, that deep, rich brown with flashes of gold. They looked right into Dearra, and her breath quickened, and she had to look away. She busied herself opening her bag, and laying out all of the contents before her to better evaluate what she would need. The young Breken watched her intently as she worked; she could feel his eyes on her as she arranged and rearranged bandages, unguents and salves in a neat row.

Bryan returned with the water, two blankets, and some fresh bread and soft cheese. Dearra handed the young warrior a chunk of bread and some of the chilled water, and dipped a soft cloth in the bowl of steaming water Bryan had brought in anticipation of her needs. He shied away as she reached to begin cleaning his head wound, but then held himself still as she worked. Dearra noticed the pained look on his face and paused.

“What is it?” she asked hesitantly. “Am I hurting you? You can tell me if I am. Please, you look so…strange.”

He didn’t speak, but raised a hand, ever so slowly, and traced the bruise just beginning to show on her upper arm.

Dearra froze at his touch and the jolt running down her arm as his fingers brushed, feather light over the red bloom making itself evident on her pale skin.

“Why?” he asked softly, the deep timbre to his voice strong and menacing in the small room.

“Well…” Dearra spoke the word and had to swallow to begin again, the feel of his hand on her arm making her mouth go suddenly dry. “I have always bruised easily. It’s a terrible nuisance, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he said, and though his hand had dropped back to his side, his eyes never left the mark marring her porcelain skin. “I meant, why did you do it? Why did you challenge him just to come in here?”

“Oh! Well, you needed attention. Your wounds aren’t going to clean themselves, you know.” She was relieved to have such a simple answer to give, though he seemed genuinely startled by her response.

Dearra dipped the cloth in the water again and continued to do what she could to clean the nasty lump at the back of the Breken’s head. She leaned in close in the dim light, to get a closer look, probing as gently as she could to make sure the injury wasn’t more serious than it seemed.

The silence of the room enveloped her, and she couldn’t, at first, identify what had changed. She looked down at the Breken sitting placidly before her, and realized that, in her effort to get a better view, she had provided the Breken with a view of his own—her chest was directly in front of his face. His jaw was clenched tightly, and his eyes stared straight ahead, as though he were completely unaware of what was right before him, but Dearra noticed that the silence she had sensed had been due to the fact that the fierce warrior was no longer breathing in his efforts to remain completely still. She eased back from him and returned to her bag of supplies pretending to not have noticed the awkward moment, but she couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face when she heard him exhale loudly behind her.

She finished with her task, and after gently covering him in one of the blankets, turned to leave.

“Wait!”

Dearra turned back to face him as he spoke. “Yes?”

“Thank you…Dearra.”

His voice was rough and the words were spoken haltingly as if they words he was not used to speaking. She had not introduced herself, but it was not surprising that he knew her name, as at least a dozen people must have used it around him today. Still, it was presumptuous of him to speak to her with such familiarity without her consent.

A small smile lit her face and she said, “You are truly welcome…Darius.”

His eyes flew open wide, as he knew he had definitely not given his name to anyone.

Dearra left the room with a grin on her face. Let him ponder that for a while, she thought.

About the author:

BookChristine Grey lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Dan, and their seven children, three dogs, and two cats. With a family like that, she knows how important it is to escape from reality from time to time! She and her husband have grown their family through foster care adoption and are advocates for helping children find the permanency and support they all deserve. When she isn’t busy chasing children, running a household, or savoring a hot cup of tea, Christine spends her free time creating worlds of magic, romance, and humor.

Here’s how readers can learn more about Christine and her work.

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