Friday, April 27, 2012

#FridayFlash - Xenomorph Infestation

The fucking things had gotten out.

Darzell ducked under a lab counter, adrenaline filling his veins. The blaring siren of contamination breech made the biotech wince, the piercing noise compounding the horror of the situation.

He struggled to control his thoughts, to remember the protocol. There were always protocols in place, meant to keep everyone safe in an emergency. There were protocols for the protocols. A hundred different things to do, long lists of precautions to keep danger at bay.

So who had fucked up and let the xenomorphs out?

The chitinous black beasts were kept under triple security procedures, locked behind state-of-the-art plassteel walls. A telepath was always on hand to keep the nest calm, acting as a surrogate queen to the deadliest genetic creation in the explored universe.

Darzell heard a scream and tucked further under the counter. The lab complex was expansive, meaning the victim had to be close. Someone was being torn apart by a monster he had helped create.

The sirens wailed on and on. Shouldn't the AI have been telling the scientists what to do by now? Was it somehow damaged? Had it gone crazy and let the xenomorphs out in a fit of madness?

He broke out in a cold sweat as panic and fear continued. The biotech needed to escape, but he knew all too well how quickly the creatures hunted. Agile, they'd climb the very walls if it got them to prey quicker. Razor claws and a whip-like tail only aided their fearsome teeth.

Darzell knew there was no escape.

Why wasn't there gunfire? The guards were heavily armed and armored. It wouldn't take much for the big soldiers to mow down the escaped beasts. They were probably at a different wing of the complex, working their way here. He could surely go unnoticed for that long.

The sirens stopped, his ears ringing painfully in the sudden silence.

What did he do now? The AI hadn't declared an all clear, but why else would the alarms quit? Darzell wiped sweat from his brow, trying to steady his nerves.

A deep voice, that of the head scientist, came across the intercom. "This experiment is now concluded. Your participation is appreciated."

Gulping hard, confused, Darzell rose from his crouch to look around. His scream was brief when the xenomorphs lunged at him.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Writing

Without even looking, I know a bunch of people are blogging about writing. It's really a rather easy topic for an author.

I doubt many others are going to discuss the addictive aspect of writing.

Being a storyteller is a pressing need that nearly drives us crazy. I have to tell these tales or I'm fit to burst. The words are constantly banging around in my head, and I'm always toying with the What Ifs of my surroundings.

The addiction doesn't end there, though. It's not enough to just write it down. I need to have other people read it. I need to be validated, and know I took them somewhere special for a while.

It keeps going from there. The adulation is great, and sets me off to bobbleheaded happiness. (Bobbleheaded is a term used around my house to describe the way I act like a living bobblehead when I'm over-joyed.) The high of entertaining someone is like no other. It really makes everything else seem unimportant. I could live off hearing someone liked my story.

Yet all highs have their come-downs. The writing crash is horrid. It eats at me, and tells me silly things, and wants me to feel worthless. Oneperson liked my story, but ten others didn't even read itt. There are much better phrases I could have used, and the rhythm is horribly off. I'll never be a real storyteller.

And then it starts over. I absolutely have to write. Doesn't matter how much the last one "sucked", this one will surely be better, will be the one.

Writing is the worst addiction. At least heroin addicts can get into rehab. Storytellers are stuck chasing the literary dragon because of something internal. It will never come out, and it will never end.

Yet I wouldn't want itt any other way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vampires don't sparkle


You seriously had to know I was going to write about vampires on V day. Would you have it any other way, though? It's really just who I am.

So, yeah, sparkling vampires. I cannot even begin to describe the deep-seated loathing I feel toward sparkling vampires. Any of the non-biting, non-hunting, non-predator vampires, actually. What's the point of making a vampire not drink blood? Would it be compelling to talk about a great white shark that didn't eat seals? No.

Dear wuss vampire authors, and yes, this is me being a little spiteful, please stop diluting my genre. Pick another creature, since it doesn't matter if your main man has fangs or not. Perhaps he's an elf, or just a superhuman. Plenty of other supernaturals have cool powers, and you won't be able to ruin their dark mystique.

Some of us have the desire to be hunted and fed on, and that's why we like vampires. We need to be victims, need to hang in the mercy of our lover. We need to show how deep our passion and love run, and we do that by sustaining his life.

You don't have to stop writing. Just stop taking our thing. Leave vampires to the shadows and those who want to be in there.

Thank you for hearing me out. It's not going to change anything, but I feel better for having spoken up. If you agree, or want to see what else I have to say on the matter, stop by VampiresDontSparkle.com

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Serilda's Story





S is for Serilda. The younger sister of Varick from my K&V Chronicles, she's also a vampire. She's also a mage. Kiyoshi is the incubus from the chronicles, and when he's introduced, he is like a social chameleon; he takes on aspects of whatever woman he's with.

Here's a short story from between Chronicles 2 and 3.


Friday, April 20, 2012

#FridayFlash - The raven's revenge

Fall nights came too early. Darkness always fell suddenly, dropping the temperature, making his walks home miserable. Buster huddled deeper into his jacket, cursing the long and lonely dirt road.

caw

Buster looked up, a frown creasing his forehead. It was after dark, and all the pesky crows should be asleep. Yet this one sounded close by, in a tree to the left. He hurried his pace, wanting to get past the row of trees as fast as possible. Where there was one crow, there were others.

A long croak sounded from high above, almost as if it were taunting him. "Get, hellbeast!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. Were it daylight, he'd have hucked a rock, like normal. "Filthy things don't belong here."

caw

The sound chilled him, scared him so much it made him angry. Logically, Buster knew they were only birds. But it wasn't logic that was in control. Irrational loathing of their beady eyes and sooty feathers made him lash out.


His kill count was at thirty-five for the month.

Not that killing them made much of a difference. There were always more crows, like they replenished their numbers from some demon gate. Always watching, always making noise, always wanting his soul.

caw caw caw

Three of them, in different trees, loud and disconcerting. Buster's heart raced. Why were they up this late? Could they even see him in the dark? He wanted to be home and behind locked doors like nothing else.

As he scurried down the road, rustlings and mutterings came from the trees. Far more than three birds. Buster would have sworn there were a thousand nasty crows glaring at him. "Just fuck off!" Too bad he didn't have his .22 pistol with him. Then those pests would leave him alone.

With the sound of a hell chorus, the crows took flight. They were coming for him, finally ready to claim his soul. Buster shrieked and fled, not caring if anyone thought him a coward.

His headlong race didn't last long. A hole caught his foot, sending him crashing to the ground. Buster's head struck a rock, setting stars to dancing before his eyes.

The crows cawed madly, as if cackling at his fall.

Fighting through his dizziness, Buster got to his feet. Knowing he would be attacked at any moment, he stumbled forward, determined to make it home. He wasn't going to be scared by the monster flock circling overhead.

caw

The vicious bird dove at him. Buster swore and dodged to the side. He lost his balance, swerved off the dirt road, and to the edge of a culvert. His heart lodged in his throat as he tried not to fall.

Another bird swooped down at him, and Buster fell. The ditch was deep, full of rocks, and he landed with a sharp crack of his neck. Sobbing and paralyzed, he could only watch as the demon birds descended for their meal. "Now I see...a murder of crows."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blogtour - The Slayer by Theresa Meyers

THE SLAYER
Book Two of the Legend Chronicles
By Theresa Meyers
Zebra - Steampunk Romance
April 3, 2012
ISBN-10: 1420121251
ISBN-13: 978-1420121254

Brothers Winchester, Remington and Colt know the legends—they were trained from childhood to destroy demon predators, wielding the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a devil of a job. But sometimes your fate chooses you...

CHASING TROUBLE

Winn Jackson isn’t interested in hunting nightmares across the Wild West—even if it’s the family business. Unlike his rakehell brothers, Winn believes in rules. As sheriff of Bodie, California, he only shoots actual law breakers. That’s what he’s doing when he rescues the Contessa Drossenburg, Alexandra Porter, a lady with all the elegance of the Old World—grace, beauty and class. And then he sees her fangs.

Alexandra isn’t just some bloodsucking damsel in distress, though. She’s on a mission to save her people—and she’s dead certain that Winn’s family legacy is the only way. Luckily, aside from grace and class, she also has a stubborn streak a mile wide. So like it or not, Winn is going to come back with her to the mountains of Transylvania, and while he’s at it, change his opinions about vampires, demon-hunting, and who exactly deserves shooting. And if she has her way, he’s going to do his darnedest to save the world

ebook: Kindle



Excerpt from THE SLAYER

Branches cracked and snapped as Alexa tore through them on her way to the forest floor. Fortunately the drop wasn't too great. She landed in a crouch on the ground, letting her knees absorb the shock of her fall. She slowly rose and glanced up at Winchester, still suspended in the ruined glider. From this distance he reminded her of a Christmas ornament in a very tall tree.

"Are you going to join me?" she shouted up at him, enjoying the opportunity to dig at him.

"Not like that, I'm not," he replied as he carefully maneuvered his way out of the pod, loading his pack and the holstered rifle onto his back. Hunters. They were nothing without their toys.

She sniffed the wind, trying to scent out their distance from the Castle Barranoch where the captain had adjusted their course. It lay on the edge of the border with France. The moldering smell of ancient stone and fresh blood reached her, but it was tainted with the feral scent of wet wolf. The castle was fifteen miles to the northeast, and the wolves were no more than a few miles away, between them and the protection of the castle. She swore heartily in Russian under her breath. For herself she wasn't afraid. She was stringer and smarter than any were. But the Hunter was merely human, with all the frailties that entailed.

"Insufferable creatures," she muttered to herself. When they later retrieved the wreckage of the airship, she had no doubt that it would be Sidhe bolts recovered. No one else but the dark fae who lingered in the Black Forest could shoot that distance accurately, which was bad news. It meant the Sidhe and the Russian werewolves had formed an alliance in her absence. While the werewolves were brute strength, the Sidhe had more powers. It was a formidable combination. Now that the Sidhe had brought down their airship, the werewolves were closing in for the kill.

Where are you? Are you harmed? Enric's insistent voice, edged with worry penetrated her mind.

The Hunter and I are fine, for the moment. How far are you from Castle Barranoch?

We transported there, per your instructions.

Excellent. Inform Count Vernay that we have landed and need an escort through the forest. There are werewolves on the ground and I suspect Sidhe in the forests. We shall be arriving shortly.

His majesty is not going to be please his airship was wrecked.

Pfft. He can have another built. He'll be more worried if we allow these werewolves to kill the Chosen.

She kept a close eye on Winn's progress down the tree. A crackle in the underbrush caused her to tense. Alexa sniffed the air, her gumline beginning to throb. The wolves were still a few miles away; this was a different scent altogether. Gun powder, oil and leather.

From the bushes sprang five men, all armed and pointing their weapons at her. Helsing crossbows, loaded with silver tipped arrows that could pin her to a tree in less time than it would take to transport herself away from the clearing. Each of them had a scabbard at his side, the handgrip of their swords easy for her to see even in the gathering gloom.

"I think we have us a lone vampire, men, and one worth ransoming from the look of it," said the blonde man, German by the sound of him, a glitter of avarice in his eyes.

Alexa hissed at them. Damn Hunters. "Where is your honor? Do you not have treaties with his vampiric imperial majesty?"

"What that old vamp doesn't know won't bother him," the blond Hunter sneered. "Take her." Two of his comrades lowered their crossbows, shifting them to their backs, then pulled out their swords and started forward.

There was a crack just above her and Winn dropped from the tree between her and the Hunters. He sprang up, armed and ready to fight, the Amanarath stretched and loaded.

"Not so fast, boys. This vampire happens to be off limits."

The blonde Hunter stepped forward, brandishing a blade with a twist and flourish of his wrist, making the metal flash.

"Drop it." Winn held the Amanarath poised and pointed right at the Hunter's chest.

"Identify yourself," the Hunter demanded.

"You first. I'm gettin' a mighty itchy trigger finger. Takes a lot of thought to control it. Might hit everyone of you before I get my control back."

"I'm Lieutenant Victor Van der Hoff, a Hunter with Saxe-Coburg regiment of the Legion. And this vampire is in our custody."

"Is she now? How do I know you aren't just making that up?"

Van der Hoff quickly unfastened the buttons of his shirt, pulling it aside. A tattoo of the triple cross bracketed by a lion, palm tree and raven at the points was inscribed over his heart. He was definitely a Hunter. No one else would want a tattoo that ugly. "Satisfied?"

Winn nodded and lowered the crossbow slightly from his shoulder. "I'm Winchester Jackson, part of the Legion out in the western territories of America."

"A Slayer?" One of the others behind Van der Hoff said, a note of derision in his tone. Two of the others snickered as if it were some kind of a joke.

Winchester frowned. He didn't know what they meant, but he knew he didn't like it. Choosing to ignore them, he locked gazes with Van der Hoff. "Our airship went down. We're trying to get to Castle Barranoch."

Van der Hoff jerked his chin in the Contessa's direction. "What about the vampire?"

Winn's hands tensed on the Amanarath, ready to aim and fire in an instant if it became necessary. "She's my guide."

One of the Hunters in Van der Hoff's party gave Alexa a lewd appraisal. "To what?" he interjected.

Van der Hoff glared at the other member of his hunting party. "Hold your tongue, Werner. I'll ask the questions." He turned back to Winn. "What are you looking for? Perhaps we can help you and you can give her to us in exchange."

Winn raised the barrel of the Amanarath an inch from Van der Hoff's face. "No deal."

Van der Hoff smiled, but it didn't reach his pale green eyes. They remained as unyielding and cold as deep lake ice. "Alright. No harm, no foul, Slayer. But you can't possibly want to protect that Darkin."

For a moment the irony did sink in. Here he was protecting a Darkin, and a vampire at that, from other Hunters. Pa would have risen out of the grave and kicked his ass if he'd known. But this wasn't a normal situation. He needed her help. "My bow begs to differ with you."

A blood curdling howl tore through the night and all of them turned to peer at the dark maw of the forest. "Werewolves!" Alexa shouted as she ran up and grabbed Winn's arm, almost causing him to misfire the bow. "We're running out of time!"

"Correction," Winn said as the shadows burst from the trees. "We're outta time."

The twenty or so wolves were far larger than any Winn had seen before. They were the size of grizzly bears, and while most of them were gray, there were a few brown, white and black wolves among them as well. With coordinated movement they circled him, the Contessa and the small band of German hunters.

"Insufferable Weres," the Contessa muttered, her voice turning more guttural and growl-like as her face shifted and changed.

By now it didn't shock Winn as much, even thought the sight of her in her fighting mode still disturbed him. She hissed, and the wolves came to a stop. They were close enough in their formation that Winn could see no easy gap for him and the Contessa to get through.

He changed his target for the crossbow, grateful Marley had offered it. Winn's mind quickly calculated his options. With only fifteen shots in his rifle he would have been out of ammo before dispatching all of the wolves. He had that pathetic water shooter, but he didn't trust it to do more than slow the wolves down. And it wouldn't do anything to the Hunters. If he ran out of bolts, he could likely take out the other Hunters with his rifle butt first, backed up by his fists if necessary.

"Kill only if necessary," the Contessa warned under her breath.

Winn nestled the crossbow against his shoulder ready to let it release. "They attack, then it's all necessary."

"Hold your bloodthirst, Slayer." Van der Hoff's voice itself was irritating right now.

Winn wanted to tell the Hunter to go screw himself. This was no time for being some pasty yellow-bellied mama's boy. It was kill or be killed. That's how it always went in these kinds of situations. Negotiation was done by who had the least dead. Period. "This ain't bloodthirst. It's survival, and I swear I'll kill every damn one of them if I have to."

The wolves glanced at one another, ears twitching as if they talked to one another the way the Contessa did with the other vampires. The hair on the back of Winn's neck prickled up like an agitated porcupine.

A few of the wolves growled low and belly-deep, their black lips curling up to reveal razor sharp yellowed teeth. It was a veritable Mexican standoff with the furries on one side and the Hunters, and vampire on the other. "They don't look like they're here for a tea party, Van der Hoff. What do you wanna do here?" Winn prompted. His finger was getting itchy to pull the trigger on the bow as tension pulled at the muscles in his neck and shoulders.

"Hold," Van der Hoff ordered.

"You don't even know what they want." Winn's thigh burned with the tension of the muscles beneath his skin.

"Does it matter? They're Darkin."

Winn's mood darkened further. He didn't see a good way out of this. He edged closer to the Contessa. "I thought you said there were treaties for this sort of thing."

"That's the problem with treaties. They get broken all the time, and usually when it's most inconvenient," she said with annoyance.

"What the hell do they want?" Winn asked. "They're just holding back."

"Why don't you ask them?" the Contessa growled through her fangs.

A loud howl broke the standoff. Winn didn't wait another second. His Hunter training kicked into gear, taking over both his body and his mind, making his movements as automatic as breathing. He shot down three of the Werewolves in quick succession. The thwang of the crossbow jolted up his arm with each rapid release of the bolts. Thunk. Thunk, thunk. Three of them fell. The others kept coming, a blur of movement.

Winn cranked the bolts into place and shot off three more. The Contessa leaped forward into the fray, fangs at the ready. For an instant Winn's heart forgot to beat as he watched a bolt graze past her, shearing off a lock of her hair. An inch closer and he would have hit her square in the head. She tore every Were within reach with her bare hands, sending fur, muscle and skin flying as she ripped away limbs.

His heartbeat returned twice as hard and Winn turned away from the grisly sight to glance in the direction of Van der Hoff and his men. The Hunter hacked and slashed at anything with fur that came within striking distance. Winn's chest burned. His blood was pumping hard. The fighting had turned hand to hand now, wolves and men in mixed battle. Winn swung his crossbow to his back and pulled the bowie knife from his boot.

A great gray wolf coiled his back legs a split second before he launched into the air, seeming to sail toward Winn in slow motion. The dinner-plate sized paws connected like a solid punch to the solar plexus, knocking the wind from him and leaving him gasping as he fell backward into the fir needles of the forest floor. But he didn't need to breathe to act. Winn pulled hard and fast, slashing the blade of his Bowie across the exposed throat of the wolf, looming over him.

Hot blood splattered his face and the weight of the enormous dead wolf crushed down, smothering him. Winn's lungs burned as he scrabbled to lift the huge beast off of himself. Cries of anguish and pain from Van der Hoff's men were followed by the sickening crunching sounds and abrupt silence.

"Winchester!"

Winn managed to shift the weight enough to crawl out from beneath the wolf carcass. The Contessa was surrounded. He scrambled up, hacking a bloody path to her. He and the Contessa stood back-to-back against the ten remaining werewolves.

The growls of the largest wolf shifted and warped into words Winn could comprehend, stunning him. "Slayer, cease your resistance. Rathe wants you taken alive, but he didn't say unharmed. Put down your weapons. Come with us now and we will let the vampire live."

Winn twisted the handle of the Bowie in his extended hand, still brandishing it against the werewolves. Tessa was snugged up tight against his back, her derrière brushing the backs of his thighs. "Let me get this straight. You expect me to just give in and come quietly?"

"Yes."

Winn let out a brittle, caustic bark of laughter. "Clearly you've never met an American Hunter before. We don't quit, and we sure as hell don't give in."


About Theresa Meyers:
Raised by a bibliophile who made the dining room into a library, Theresa has always been a lover of books and stories. First a writer for newspapers, then for national magazines, she started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer's Digest course and putting the book under the bed until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993.
In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She is married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her brother sit between them in the backseat of the car. They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their two children, three cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd puppy, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden.
You can find her online on Twitter, Facebook, at her Web site or blogging with the other Lolitas of STEAMED!






Friday, April 13, 2012

#FridayFlash - Lust in the dark

Honing my skills had become part of our routine over the last couple months. Varick enjoyed teaching me, and I enjoyed learning from him. The vampire never lorded his centuries of experience over me, never made me feel untalented or weak.

Which was great when he was stalking me through the woods around his house.

There'd been rain earlier, and the late may night was a little chilly. Clouds obscured the moon, giving me very little light to work with. The homes in Hillside were big and expensive, with lots of thick trees between them. We weren't but a few miles from downtown Portland, but it might as well have been the middle of nowhere.

I moved in pauses, darting from one tree to the next, reaching out with my senses at every bole. The point of this exercise was to see how well I could cloak myself by hiding my aura. The vampire gave me a ten minute head start, then would hunt me down. I got farther and farther each time we played this game, my psychic powers letting me blend into the surroundings better each time.

With all the leaf litter and underbrush, Varick wouldn't be able to move quietly, no matter how much he damped down his aura. I wouldn't be able to pick up his emotions until he was right on top of me, but I counted on hearing him first.

Something rustled nearby, and I stiffened, on high alert. Holding my breath, I pulled my aura as tight as possible, hoping to cover my heartbeat. I couldn't make myself disappear from people's perceptions like Varick could, but I was getting pretty good at hiding.

Animal awareness told me a raccoon family was the source of the noises. It was handy to perceive the life signs of other creatures. Releasing my breath, I darted to the next tree.

Varick's arms wrapped around me from behind before I made my destination.

I gave a brief cry as I tried to escape. In a burst of movement, I stomped on his foot, threw myself forward, and twisted the pressure points in his thumbs. Against a mortal assailant, I'd have been free. My German lover was impossibly strong, and simply held still as I fought.

As he was a vampire, I could play rough. Really rough, so long as my psi blade wasn't involved. Grunting with the effort, I drove my left heel back, trying to break his knee.

Varick lifted me from my feet, taking the force from my kick. My foot rammed into his shin, causing me more pain that it did him. In the next breath, I swung my legs up and threw my head back, hoping to topple us over.

The vampire laid his lips to my neck, and my whole world froze.

No feeling compared to his mouth on my skin. The play of his tongue, the hardness of his teeth, the sharpness of his fangs. From the very first time he bit me, I'd become his wanton victim. Giving the German my blood was an addiction I never wanted to give up.

"Mein liebchen is getting better at this." His voice was low, not quite a purr, and I sighed as his breath washed over my skin. Varick put me back on the ground, but I didn't have the strength to support myself. "She made it almost a mile this time." His tongue flicked across the side of my neck.

I swooned, letting my head fall back to his shoulder. "Shouldn't you take your prize, then?" Every nerve in my body screamed for his bite.

Varick growled faintly. "Nein. You had better try again. Run far, mein Keila. See if you can get away." The vampire shoved me forward.

I reeled and gasped. How did he expect me to hide when I radiated lust this powerfully? Knowing the release would be worth the effort, I stumbled into the darkness.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for the K&V Chronicles

The K&V Chronicles. Keila and Varick. It only took me multiple years to come up with an acceptable series title. I am so bad with titles, it's almost shameful.

When I was trying to settle on the name, I had a more difficult time than normal. "A Keila O'Broin novel" is pretty straightforward, but she won't always be an O'Broin, and it's not just about her. I wanted something more than just the "Keila and Varick" I had been using.

One of the biggest struggles was not excluding Varick. He is absolutely integral toKeila and the series, so he needed to be part of it.

Then I realized not a lot of other leading man get the spotlight when it comes to series titles. Which is a shame, because, for me at least, the man is the reason I'm reading a romance.

Men are great, and my Varick is the greatest. He is perfect for Keila, and they make each other happy. She isn't defined by her man, hut heightened by him. Keila could live on her own, but life just wouldn't be as good without him.

When I'm writing about them, it absolutely is about them. Both of them. Their adventures together. Their development as a couple and as people. Soulmates and inseperable, I needed that to be reflected in the title.

I finally managed, and it feels absolutely right. I would chronicle them forever if I could.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blogtour - Portal by Imogen Rose

It's not cheating when I host a blogtour for A-to-Z, is it? I don't think so. The timing just happens to line up, so I think it's awesome, actually. Anyway, I is for Imogen.












Portal
by Imogen Rose

Blurb:

Come Find Me Two Years Ago...

Six words that propelled ice hockey playing tomboy, Arizona, into an alternate dimension.

She suddenly found herself in the past. In one moment she went from being an ice hockey playing teenager in New Jersey to a glamorous cheerleader in California. She found herself transported from a happy life with her dad, Dillard, to a new, strange one living with her mother whom she hates. Apparently it's a life she's always lived in.

Everyone knows her as Arizona Darley, but she isn't. She is Arizona Stevens.

As she struggles to find answers she is certain of one thing- that her mother Olivia, a brilliant physicist, is somehow responsible...

PORTAL is the story of the repercussions of Olivia Darley's attempt at creating a perfect world for herself and her children. Arizona's quest for answers threatens to undermine the seemingly perfect world that her mother has so carefully constructed.

PORTAL is the first book of the Portal Chronicles. Fans of time travel, romance, and the supernatural will enjoy Arizona's quest for answers.






Meet Imogen Rose
Imogen Rose is the author of the bestselling YA series, the Portal Chronicles. She was born in a small town in Sweden and moved to London in her twenties. After obtaining a PhD in immunology from Imperial College, she moved with her family to New Jersey, where she’s been based for the past ten years.
For as long as she can remember, Imogen has dreamt stories. Stories that continued from night to night, from dream to dream. So, even as a child, going to bed was never an issue, just an anticipation of the story to come.
PORTAL, Imogen’s first novel, would have remained in her imagination, to be shared only with her daughter, Lauren, had her eight-year-old not insisted that she write it down. In the course of a month, Imogen typed while Lauren waited eagerly by the printer for the pages to appear, and a novel took shape.
The warm reception PORTAL received encouraged her to continue with the story and the Portal Chronicles. The Bonfire Chronicles is Imogen’s new YA paranormal series.
Imogen is a self-confessed Hermès addict who enjoys shopping, traveling, watching movies and playing with her dog, Tallulah.

Website    Blog    Facebook    Twitter


Monday, April 9, 2012

Blogtour - Frozen in Time by Marie Symeou






FROZEN IN TIME

BLURB

Set in Ancient Greece, at the time of Alexander the Great, a time when the spirit world of gods and goddesses and other immortal beings bleeds into the world of mortals, Frozen in Time is an engaging story of a love that can transcend anything. Even death or banishment to otherworldly realms, or the transformation of the lovers into immortal beings.

After the death of his wife in childbirth, Philip, grief stricken and suicidal, joins the army of his half brother Alexander, with whom he has a very uneasy relationship. But the world of immortals has other plans for him and the vampiric monster, Scylla, plays on his grief by seducing him in the form of his dead wife. Horrified when he discovers the truth and that he too is now one of the immortals, it becomes his life’s quest to escape Scylla, find a way of destroying her forever and also reunite himself with his beloved wife in one way or another.


FROZEN IN TIME EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Philip could not believe his eyes. His Amaranthea. Sweet Amaranthea - a temptress in the silver moonlight.

He felt as if he were in a trance. Perhaps all the wine he had consumed had gone to his head. Trying to blink the vision away, he realized this was no alcohol-induced apparition. No, this beauty was alive. Solid. As clearly defined as the craggy rock at his side, a glorious sight clad in a scarlet cloak.

Strange mysterious music rang out as she called his name. Bewitching. Caressing.

‘Come my love, be mine.’

Without a second thought, he took her jewelled hand and let her lead the way along the rocky mountainside.

The air was thick with dust. Down below in Darius’ camp the flames from the torches outside the tents glowed brightly, flickering in the light breeze. Alexander had instructed his men to monitor Darius’ every move and nothing should have deterred Philip. But Amaranthea was his life.

Had been his life.

He wouldn’t even be in this war if it had not been for her. In all honesty, it meant nothing to him. He cared not whether he lived nor died.

Amaranthea led him to an opening buried deep within the jagged rock. Philip hesitated, turning to glance back at the campsite he had just left behind.

Through the hazy air he could see in the distance the masses of tents where the army rested for the night. They had all feasted well, as if tonight was their last, in preparation for tomorrow’s battle. By walking away, he had betrayed them all. Betrayed Alexander.

But the life of a soldier didn’t suit him. The thought of the terror and bloodshed he witnessed made him want to vomit. He had no real desire to kill anymore. And yet he had. So many times. It was what he was paid to do. But there were also times when he simply wished that an enemy spear would soon put an end to his misery.

Amaranthea’s voice drew him out of his dark thoughts, ‘Come, my love,’ she said, the breeze catching her long red hair.

He turned towards her, meeting her dark gaze. How could I have wished to die? he thought. We are together again.

They stepped into the vast cave. It was pitch black, but as Philip followed Amaranthea she seemed to glow, lighting his way up ahead. Philip blinked in astonishment at the network of passages that clearly came into focus.

As they walked the light illuminated something. Philip jumped back as the figure of a winged serpent with a woman’s head leapt out at him. The cave was painted. Walls covered in images, both beautiful and terrible. Recoiling, Philip caught the image of a serpent woman devouring the head of a child.

‘Why have you brought me here?’ he asked.

No reply. He paused, staring at the figure of Amaranthea walking steadily ahead of him. More paintings of monstrous creatures and women with half-serpent bodies, of winged maidens and warriors with snakes and torches in their hair came to view.

‘Why have you brought me here?’ he asked again.

Still no answer, but he could not help but follow Amaranthea towards a welcoming gleam of light. The sound of gently plucked harp strings floated in the air towards them, a melody so calming to a man whose ears had grown accustomed to the cries of war.

On entering the chamber, the intense heat hit Philip’s face. Fires and torches blazed brightly. Shadows from the flames danced on the ochre-painted walls, and fragrant oils burned - awakening his senses to memories of times long passed. On the ground, he noticed a scattering of rose petals. Whatever this dwelling-place was, he soon began to feel at ease.

Amaranthea guided him towards a large bed draped in shiny silk of crimson and gold. Philip sat his aching body on it. He so longed for a good night’s sleep. To lie back on those sumptuous cushions.

Amaranthea stood before him, holding his gaze. Her dark eyes flashed. Removing her scarlet cloak, she let it drop to the ground. Naked, her pale skin glistened in the glowing torch light, her red hair cascading over her shoulders. Philip had never seen anything so beautiful. So perfect, like a goddess. Overwhelmed with desire, he pulled her to him...

They made love. He had waited a long time for this.

‘Amaranthea,’ he cried.

Then everything changed. She hissed like a snake. Alarmed, Philip opened his eyes and to his disgust, he found himself staring into a pair of red demonic eyes. This was no longer Amaranthea but a strange woman that hissed like a serpent. In place of Amaranthea’s slender hands, sharp claws reached for him.

He tried to move away but it was too late. Something sharp pierced him in the neck and he felt his blood oozing out from the wound. He roared with pain. The creature pinned him down and began to suck his blood, licking and devouring it. He grew weaker. Then once again, he heard Amaranthea’s sweet voice.

‘My love, you are dying. I will give you back your life if you promise to be with me always. Until the end of time. I will not let the gods take you from me. You are far too beautiful for that. But you must be mine. Always. You will never love another. Do I have your word?’

He could barely speak. ‘Yes.’

Blood gushed into his mouth. He tasted it and hungered for more.

As more hot blood flowed into his veins, his heart throbbed strongly, its pulse heavy in his ears. He shuddered, felt cold, shivered. His eyesight began to flicker. Images of his life flashed before him. His childhood. His mother. His brothers. His wedding to Amaranthea …


PART 1

CHAPTER 1

Winter

Scylla’s skin prickled with excitement. Emerging from the ocean, water running from her slender body, she ran her hands across the slick black panther fur that was her only covering. The salty night air, heavy with the scents of pine and wild flowers, intoxicated her, and the cries of those participating in the worship of her father, fired her senses, calling her to join them. The snakes twined in her hair hissed malevolently. It was the one night she could remain in this human-form for the whole night. For she knew her immortal father watched over her. The evil spell would not have any power tonight.

The smell of frankincense drifted in the breeze as the pounding rhythm of drums drew her. Overcome with excitement, she sprinted into the woods to join the manic dancing and screams. Maenads armed with thyrsus, the sacred wand wrapped in ivy and tipped with pine, carried a goat in offering to the divine god of wine. They wore faun skins and had wreaths of ivy in their hair, and like Scylla, a few also adorned their heads with serpents, the hissing sound emitting from them drowned out by the heavy pounding rhythm of drums.

Standing in a ring with joined hands, the maenads sang an incantation to the divine one before they sacrificed the goat. They then beat the ground with their feet, manic laughter ringing through the misty air as they began to dance wildly. Cymbals clashed as the women twirled, whirling in frenzied fits.

Tearing branches off elm and oak trees, they ran untamed through the forest, biting into the raw flesh of any animal they could find, blood trailing down their mouths and chins. Tasting and savouring in delight. Then a gathering of fauns descended upon them and everyone abandoned themselves as an ecstatic Scylla ran to the top of the fir-topped hill, raised her hands to the sky and hailed her father’s glorious name.

Philip walked over to Amaranthea and wrapped his arm around her waist. The festivities, the lust burning in the air, had made him long for her. They had barely been able to keep their hands off each other since the very day he took her from her parents’ home, saving her from the miserable fate that had awaited her.

‘Let us disappear for a while,’ he said, his hot breath in her ear as he proceeded to kiss her on the neck.

Amaranthea unwound herself from his strong arms and turned towards him with a dazzling smile. The scent of him, of wine and sweat, made her feel lustful. ‘Oh, is that all you have on your mind?’ she said, teasing him as she fondly took his hand in hers.

He kissed her on the lips as he held her close and said, ‘Yes, my love.’ He pressed himself hard against her. ‘It is a time for pleasure, in the name of the great god.’ He lifted her and carried her off into the nearby woods, leaving Callias, Amaranthea’s brother, and their friends to their celebration of the maturing of the wine and coming of spring.

She kicked her legs in protest. ‘Put me down, Philip!’ she giggled as her burnished curls swayed behind her. The music played by Callias on the lyre as he entertained their friends at the farm had faded into the distance. Instead, she heard the sound of pounding drums, pan flutes and the rattling of sistra in the forest, and feet stomping the ground. It was a night vibrantly alive with elation.

Fuelled by love and desire, the crazed drumming sounds and orgiastic cries didn’t make her feel threatened. Tonight the veil between this world and the other lifted. No need to fear. Perhaps a journey into the invisible world wouldn’t be so forbidding after all. Would it not be fun, considering how her life had turned out? The gods had blessed her at last. No longer wealthy, no extravagant house to live in, no ornamental clothing, but she was the happiest she had ever been. Well, almost, she thought. But you can’t be truly happy. The gods wouldn’t like that.

Philip carried her off into the depths of the forest. The air was alight with laughter and the sound of lovemaking. Amaranthea settled into Philip’s strong arms and felt her desire rising. He was a very passionate man and they made love almost every night. But sometimes she felt it was a little too much. However, she hoped that the gods would see fit to give her the child she so desperately wanted. Only then would her life be complete.

At last Philip put her down so that she was leaning her back against the trunk of an old oak. He stroked her hair and began to kiss her. She groaned with pleasure as his lips brushed against her neck, his breath hot and reeking of wine. Skin tingling with desire, she reached up to embrace him, hands around his neck as his lips travelled lower. She sighed, thinking she would die from the longing. She loved this man so much. And she knew that he loved her, for he had risked so much so that they could be together. Running her fingers through his dark hair, she wondered what would have happened had she not met him. No, don’t think of that now, she thought, moaning as she felt Philip’s hands explore her body.

The pleasure was mounting. She needed his love. ‘Now!’ she cried, unable to control herself any longer. ‘Please, Philip,’ she sighed, pressing herself against him.

A babe was crying.

‘Can you hear that?’ she said, suddenly drawn back into reality.

‘It’s nothing,’ Philip said, pushing himself against her, burying his face in her neck. Whatever it was, it could wait. His hand slid up her slender thigh.

‘It’ s a baby crying,’ Amaranthea said, lifting her hands to his face in order to stop him. She took his face in her hands and widened her chestnut eyes.

‘Can you not hear that?’ she said, staring into his grey-blue eyes. ‘It sounds like an infant’s cry.’

‘You are just hearing things,’ he said, reaching under her chiton again.

‘Forget it. Let us have fun making our own child.’ His lips were upon her neck again.

‘Stop it, Philip!’ She said, pushing him away. The wreath of ivy in her hair caught on a branch and slipped off her head. Philip handed it to her and she noticed in the darkness that his eyes were glazed; he was very drunk, and she didn’ t like it. She had never seen him like this. The evening had become very strange. Something wasn’t right. Placing the wreath back on her head, she glanced up on the hill and caught sight of the large full moon almost touching the tips of the fir-trees. A very strange night indeed.

An infant’s cry again.

There was nothing for it. She had to find this poor babe and see why it was crying so loudly. Probably an abandoned child that nobody wanted. Most likely deformed in some way. She took a deep breath as she advanced towards the direction of the wailing. Her heart raced, strangely mimicking the rhythm of the drums.

Philip had no choice but to follow her. There would be time for more lovemaking later. Besides, he realized that she was right. It was not an animal’s cry. The wailing grew louder. It came from a dark cave. As Amaranthea ventured into the darkness with Philip behind her, she glimpsed a basket balancing upon a rock. Though it was dark, she could see it clearly from the light of the moon and also the lighted torches beaming from all the wild celebrations in the forest. Heart still pounding hard, she bent down to look into the basket. A crimson-faced babe kicked its legs under the blanket.

Amaranthea drew closer and gazed at the little screwed up face. ‘Oh, Philip, it’s a newborn babe!’ She lifted it gently into her arms. The wailing almost deafened her. The poor thing must have been so hungry. ‘Who would do such a thing?’ she said. The babe was tiny, the smell of birth still upon it. It was a boy as he had just revealed from under the blanket as he kicked and fussed, and it did not look deformed at all.

‘Perhaps the mother is dead,’ said Philip.

‘Yes, but who put him here?’ She held the babe close and tried to rock it calmly. He seemed to like her as the crying had begun to wane.

Philip threw a quick glance around for any clues. Dark, dirty… Just an empty dark cave. No clues whatsoever.

‘We have to look after him. We can’t leave him like this,’ Amaranthea said, her eyes deep pleading pools as she looked at Philip. She turned back to the child. Such a small babe, her heart almost erupted with love.

Philip, trying to focus his mind after the numbing by the wine, put his arms around her. ‘We have to find out whose it is.’ He didn’t add that feeding another mouth would not be practical for them right now. They simply could not afford it. But then when did that ever stop anyone from having a child

'Oh, Philip. The poor thing,’ she said. ‘I sense such deep sadness surrounding the conception of this child. He was not made of love.’

‘Not many children are,’ said Philip cynically.

‘Perhaps not. But this one, I can’t help feeling so sad for him, the poor little thing,’ she said, starting to rock the babe in her arms. ‘Sh… little boy, everything is going to be all right now.’

She smiled as the babe really seemed to be calming down. Unable to resist, she gently kissed the top of his soft, birth-scented head. ‘Oh, sweet little babe,’ she said, her heart swelling with love. She took a deep breath. Could it be that all her prayers and offerings of wine and honey to Hera had worked? It wasn’t quite what she had wanted, but somehow a child had been blessed to her, even if it was not from her own womb. She held it tight against her heart, wanting to look after it and keep it out of harm’s way.

Their attention was suddenly drawn to a horrified Callias running past them, shouting. ‘Help! Someone, help me!’ His olive-green eyes were wide with shock, and for a moment he didn’t recognize his sister. ‘It’s taken Chrysanthe!’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Philip. ‘What has taken her?’

‘It was some hideous woman with fangs. She just took Chrysanthe and bit into her neck and…’ Chrysanthe was a girl Callias was sweet on. The daughter of one of the workers on Philip and Amaranthea’s farm. Callias had fallen quickly in love with her and had wanted to marry her when he was a bit older. But now it was too late. Callias wailed uncontrollably.

‘Calm down, dear brother,’ said Amaranthea, reaching out an arm to hug him while she still held the babe in the other. As Callias’ elder by three years, she had always felt maternal towards him and had always taken care of him. They were very close, for they’d had to be with the parents they’d been cursed with.

By now the babe had also started crying again.

Philip turned to a horrified Amaranthea. ‘Take the child and go back to the house immediately.’ He dragged Callias by the arm. ‘Take me to where it happened.’

Callias hesitated, his throat choked with words he could barely get out. ‘I can’t… It was terrible.’

‘Come Callias, be brave,’ said Philip. ‘Maybe we can save the girl.’

‘No!’ Callias wept. ‘It’s too late. It’s too late!’



AUTHOR BIO

Marie Symeou was born in North London, where she still lives. She is the author of FROZEN IN TIME, a historical vampire fantasy set in Ancient Greece, and AGE OF DREAMS, a semi-autobiographical tale of fame, love and addiction set in the 1980s. She also writes screenplays and song lyrics, and is the vocalist of Violet Eternity. She is currently working on the sequel to FROZEN IN TIME.
http://marie-deepthinker.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/#!/marie_p_s
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Symeou-Author-Singer/119520001398734

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blogtour and GIVEAWAY - Whistle Down The Wind by Sibelle Stone


Mega-long post today. Not only an awesome guest post from Sibelle Stone about faeries, or just that and an excerpt, but a giveaway on top of that. Sibelle is giving away a copy of Beneath a Silver Moon -winner’s choice of format, either a free Ebook or a print copy- and one $10 Starbucks Gift Card open to US Shipping.

So that's why today is G for Giveaway. Be sure to leave a comment with your email so a winner can be picked and contacted.

 



Fairy (Faery) Lore
 
Sibelle Stone

My new Mystic Moon series features four sisters who are Elemental Witches. In building my world I used Restoration England as the setting, but I decided that if witches were being tortured, prosecuted and executed, I’d give some the women a fighting chance. The story question is: what if a woman is accused of using witchcraft, and she actually has magical abilities?

I gave each sister a specific elemental spirit connected with their magic. Each witch controls, well actually works with an element, air (the wind), fire, water and earth. The spirits connected to each element are very specific - Air -sylphs, Fire - salamander, Water -undines and Earth -gnomes.

I based the elemental beings on fairies (faeries) -- supernatural spirits who are thought to exist in a realm between heaven and earth. There are fairy legends throughout the world. They are said to be of various sizes, sometimes described as tiny, butterfly like creatures, but there are stories of human size fairies too. All of the legends assign magical powers to these creatures.

Because I wanted my story to begin in the British Isles, I researched various magical belief systems. Celtic supernatural legends, stories and folktales appealed to me the most. This narrowed down my choices for fairy characteristics. I decided my fairies would be nature spirits, that they would work with my witches in order to gain something for themselves. They love to bargain, but eventually as a Glyndwr witch comes into her power, (because it made sense to me that if you possessed these powers, you wouldn’ t know how to use them all at once) the elemental works with her to increase their own magical abilities. It’s a symbiotic relationship, with each party getting something from the arrangement.

Because fairies can be good or bad, (or in-between) and ugly or beautiful -- I ascribed the various characteristics based on the type of element the witch controlled. Catlin, the heroine of the first book in the series, Whistle Down the Wind, is an air mage, so she can control the wind and storms. I perceive her elemental creatures, sylphs, to be tiny winged creatures, they appear to humans as silver motes floating in the air. In the blink of a human eye, they can disappear. Catlin can hear them speak, but should they ever decide they no longer wish to work with her, they can drive her mad with their voices.

Because there are so many legends about fairies seducing human women, I decided that my sylphs would be seductive, sensuous creatures. In one of the earlier chapters of the book, they urge the heroine to kiss the hero. Fortunately for them, it doesn’t take a lot of encouragement to get the couple to share their first kiss.

I look forward to writing the next book about Catlin’s eldest sister, Aelwyd, who is a fire adept. She has extensive magical powers, and her tiny elemental creatures are usually referred to as salamanders. I decided that I preferred the name, fire dragon. While Aelwyd tries to be composed, controlled and self-possessed, her elemental beings can influence her to be as fiery, emotional and passionate as they are.
 
If you truly love learning about faerie lore, I encourage you to visit http://faerieworlds.com/

I’ve attended several of these events, and they are delightful fun. The costumes are gorgeous, the people friendly, the music amazing and the general feel of each event is a celebration of all those who love fairies and the many stories surrounding their existence.

Images from Faerycon West - February 2012


Whistle Down the Wind
Book One The Mystic Moon Series - Featuring the Glyndwr sisters
Elemental witches!
Genre: Historical romance with paranormal elements
Publisher: Moon Valley Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9839103-2-9
Page count:  360
Blurb:
Escaping from the persecution of the European witch hunts, a beautiful witch with the power to control the wind joins forces with a handsome Cavalier on a mission to save the King of England and the colony of Virginia.

Catlin Glyndwr is a tenth generation Mistress of Elements -- a hereditary witch who can call upon her elemental spirits for assistance in casting spells.

Accused of witchcraft in seventeenth century England, she faces the hangman. Even though she took a vow never to hurt anyone with her magic, if her true powers are revealed, she’ll be executed.

Sir Griffin Reynolds is on his way to the colony of Virginia, on a secret mission to locate Puritan rebels intent upon seizing the throne of King Charles II. When his best friend becomes deathly ill while interrogating a beautiful Welsh maiden accused of using magic to attack a local official – Griffin is forced to strike a bargain with her in order to save his friend’s life.

When Catlin and Griffin travel together on a voyage to the American colonies, they try to resist the pull of erotic sensuality that flares between them. It is a temptation they both soon crave. But danger lurks aboard ship and evil haunts Catlin. She must learn how her destiny is linked with that of the man who has vowed to protect her.

In a dangerous and unexplored world, where superstition exists along side the new discoveries of science, powerful elemental spirits are capable of assisting the magical adepts. But there is always danger in harnessing magic and a price to pay when one calls to the spirit world for help.

While Griffin tries to deny his attraction to Catlin, she works her own special magic on his heart and he discovers he cannot resist falling under her sensual spell.

Together, Catlin and Griffin learn that a journey of the heart requires courage, trust and the ability to believe in the astonishing gift of love.

Tagline: A beautiful witch discovers there’s more then one way to be wicked!


Short Blurb:

Whistle Down the Wind

By Sibelle Stone

Escaping from the persecution of the European witch hunts, a powerful witch with the ability to control the wind joins forces with a handsome Cavalier on a mission to save the King of England and the colony of Virginia while a dangerous stranger hunts them both. Book One: Mystic Moon Series.





Author Bio

Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats.

Author Bio: Deborah Schneider

A lifelong love of American history led Deborah Schneider from teaching high school to writing novels. Her first book, Beneath A Silver Moon won the Molly award for “Most Unsinkable Heroine” from the Heart of Denver chapter of RWA and was later a finalist in the New Historical Voice Contest in 2000. Her most recent release Promise Me won the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Western Romance. Her first steampunk story, No Ordinary Love was published in fall 2011. Deborah is employed by the busiest and best library system in the U.S. She’s received the “Open Book Award” from Pacific Northwest Writers and was named “Librarian of the Year” by Romance Writers of America in 2009.




Shrewsbury England
1664


Prologue



Twilight shadows chased Catlin Glyndwr down the cobblestoned streets of Shrewsbury. The mist reached out to snatch at her, like skeletal hands creeping across the graveyard when the moon is dark.

I'll never reach home before dark. Catlin pulled the velvet cape tightly around her shoulders and quickened her step. Her heart thumped like a bodhrán drum.

Danger lurked in the darkness of Shrewsbury. Hunters searched for those who dared leave the safe confines of their homes to wander at night. These hunters were especially interested in any woman bold enough to walk the streets after dusk. Such women quickly came under suspicion.

Catlin had planned to make her visit to the tiny, shabby hut brief. But the Widow Holton had been too feverish to rise from her bed. After glancing around the dingy one-room hovel with no fire to keep the Widow and her three children warm or to cook, Catlin hadn’t been able to turn her back on the impoverished family.

She’d prepared a stew from the foodstuffs she carried in the basket with her herbs and tonics. She had even taken the time to stir up a pot of porridge for the next day, when she promised the Widow she’d return.

Catlin’s feet scrambled against the rough stones, and she stumbled on the rough cobblestones. She adjusted the basket on her arm just as a glimmer of light diverted her attention.

A warning?

She didn’t have time to respond as a thick arm shot out from the darkness, grasped her around the waist, and pulled her into the shadows.

A leather-gloved hand covered her mouth, smothering her scream. Her stomach heaved, in danger of purging her hastily eaten meal.

Not that screaming would do any good. Lately, the good people of Shrewsbury kept their doors barred and their shutters fastened after the sun set. They’d grown accustomed to hearing screams in the night and accepted that sometimes women simply disappeared without a trace.

Fear made them silent allies in the sick drama being played out in the lanes surrounding their homes and businesses. Too many living in the village of Shrewsbury chose to look the other way, or to pretend that whatever happened ’twas God’s will.

“Stay silent,” a voice warned from behind her as the sharp prick of a knife blade pierced the side of her throat.

The arm dragged her farther back into the alley. Catlin knew any effort to resist the man holding her captive could easily result in her death. She fought the tremors making her so weak, if she wasn't held so tightly she'd collapse.

As a candle passed before her face, Catlin tried to shrink back from the stinking hulk holding it. He leered at her with a toothless grin.

“One of dem Glyndwr sisters, Bodwell.”

A muffled laugh echoed behind her. “Then ’tis a good night of hunting indeed, Scapes.”

Symon Bodwell, the witch hunter, was not known for his compassion or fine manners. He was probably the most despised man in Shrewsbury, yet the license dispensed from the Bishop had given him power and authority over almost everyone in the village.

The iron grip holding her prisoner slackened. Huge hands shoved her roughly against a wall. She crumbled to her knees, and tears washed the back of her eyelids.

I must not be afraid, for fear is the thing that feeds creatures like Bodwell.

“Leave me alone,” she finally gasped. Her arm ached from the assailants grip and her ears still rang from her collision with the wall.

Symon Bodwell, his thin lips formed into a sneer, glared down at her with a hatred so fierce, if she wasn't already forced against the wall, she'd have clamored away from him.

“You are not in a position to give me orders, witch.”

Catlin tried to swallow her fear. The man couldn’t possibly have proof of his accusation. She and her sisters were careful about practicing the craft. Their recent celebration of Beltane, in the quiet of her sister's home instead of out in the fields, had been modest compared to their rites back home in Cymru.

“You’ve attacked an innocent woman, Bodwell, and I can assure you I shall write to the Justice of the Peace to complain about this treatment.” Her voice echoed high and thin with fear.

Bodwell’s mouth twisted into a cruel smile at her words.

“Save your ink and paper, for Lord Cranborne is soon headed to the grave from what I hear,” he snarled. The tone of his voice was as harsh and cold as the winter winds that blew in from the ocean near her ancestral home. “He’ll not help any such as you, witch.” Catlin shivered at the menace in the man’s words.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” she protested, hating the weak tremor that entered her voice. Her stomach clenched again, and Catlin feared she would humiliate herself by spewing. She couldn't help it, deep down, she was terrified. She was sure these men could hear the staccato beat of her heart, banging in her chest.

Symon Bodwell hovered above her like a specter for a moment, then grasped the fabric of her cape and pulled her roughly to her feet.

“There are ways to escape the gallows.”His other hand slipped beneath the velvet cape to roughly grasp the fabric covering one of her breasts. He yanked her even closer, so his face was only inches from hers. The pungent odor of onions clinging to his breath made her gag. She swallowed to keep her stomach from spilling its contents on his boots.

Catlin gasped as he continued to squeeze and mangle her breast before his hand moved lower. Ice spilled through her veins as she realized his intention.

“Lean back against the wall and spread yer legs.” He pushed her backwards again. “If ye please me, I might let ye live so’s I can enjoy ye again.”

Catlin tried to scream, but the gloved hand covered her mouth again. Bodwell released his hold on her arms to yank at her gown and petticoat, lifting them to bare her legs.

The man planned to ravish her, and he thought she'd meekly acquiesce to his demands. The chill of fear quickly turned to white hot rage. Death couldn't be worse than allowing this monster to steal her virginity. Catlin balled her hands into fists and prepared to lash out and fight the man intent on raping her.

“Leave her,” another man’s voice called out from the darkness. “You were told to capture her and I’ll not have the goods sullied before you hand her off to me!”

The accent was polished, deep enough to reverberate in the alleyway. She recognized beneath the words lingered an ugly, evil thread of dark magic. She sensed the greater threat came from the man hidden from view.

Bodwell turned away from her, his gaze scanning the darkness. “I wasn’t expecting ye here tonight, milord,” he said, backing away from Catlin. His arrogant sneer had turned to a simpering whine.

She seized the opportunity to quickly draw a sigil in the air before closing her eyes to gather her power. She cleared her mind of the fear and drew on the ancient and familiar words she'd learned from her mother. Energy spiraled through her body, making her fingertips tingle and her heartbeat slow to an easy rhythm.

She called on her sylphs for help, and a quick breeze assured her they’d heard her plea. Within moments, the breeze transformed into a whirlwind that gathered dust and dirt to pelt her attackers with debris.

The two men who had cornered her started to cough and hack, giving her the chance she’d been waiting for.

Gathering the magical power building within her, she hurled it at her captors. Bodwell slammed backwards into the man holding the candle. They both toppled to the ground, spitting and swearing.

Catlin sketched a different sigil in the air and small dots of light began to flicker around her. She pointed her finger at the two men and chanted in the ancient language of her ancestors.

"Doethineb, cryfder, ammddiffyn rhag!"

Wisdom, strength, protection. An ancient spell.

Sparks of light flew from every direction and attacked the men, making them swat at the air around them as if warding off angry hornets.

Catlin circled away from her attackers, working hard to keep her trembling body under control.

“I’ll see all ye Glyndwr sisters dancin’ at the end of a rope. Wait and see.” Bodwell’s voice trailed behind her, his vile threats laced with swearing.

“You fools,” the stranger howled, “she’s escaping!”

A spiral of dark magic followed Catlin as she stumbled through the darkness. Her sylphs acted as a shield, protecting her from its evil touch. Fear gripped Catlin’s heart as she slipped through the murky ink of night, toward the safety of her sister’s shop. Away from the immediate danger, but she sensed a terrifying malevolence hunted her and her family.

Copyright 2012, Deborah Schneider



If you've made it this far, thank you from both me and Sibelle.