Summer Excerpt – Theme “Wine” #2

July 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , )

11754554_10155841288460032_4464622716940604587_o - EditedToday’s my last full Eymet. Tomorrow it’s off to Bordeaux so I can catch my flight to Paris and from there head back to Canada. I’m going to miss the socializing here. Trips to the local pub with my sister so we can sit and chat and outings to friends of my parents where we sip wine and nibble on cheese and olives are a little different from the socializing I do at home. It feels as if there’s a stronger sense of community here and people are quite warm and receptive.

Don’t get me wrong, people are friendly back in Nova Scotia, it’s just a different kind of friendly. I’m more comfortable around other people here then I am at home.

So here’s my next excerpt, from Masters & Renegades: Magic University.  I won’t be posting again until I get home, thanks to my converter missing a spot for a grounder (and my cord plug having a grounder).  Once I leave for Bordeaux, I won’t be able to charge my laptop until I hit Montreal, so the power I have will be for necessary/urgent use only (like electronic check-in for my flight.)

Tom entered the magical chamber.  A surge of apprehension swept over him as he looked at the royal blue carafe upon the table and the scry eye hovering above.  It was so different without Snyder there to guide him along.  The half-satyr had been a wonderful teacher, but Tom still did not feel confident enough about his skills to feel comfortable without him.  He sighed and approached the table.

Tom supposed it was his own fault.  He had let people pamper him all of his life and he did not have to be here.  In fact, many people would prefer he not be where he was, if they would have known.

As Tom squatted and focused on the carafe, he considered how he and his teacher had first met.  Snyder had been a travelling entertainer.  Tom had always been fascinated by magic and had requested that Snyder meet with him for a private audience.  He had food and wine brought to his chamber and they had talked all night about magic.  Having some idea at Snyder’s true identity, Tom pressured Snyder into revealing that his bardic talents were only a tip of the iceberg.  The half-satyr was a highly-skilled Renegade mage and his ability was much greater than his bardic charade would suggest.  Tom had leapt at the opportunity.  He had forced Snyder to remain with him, secretly keeping him as a tutor in spell-casting.

Time to go finish up my packing 🙂

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Summer Excerpt – Theme “Wine” #1

July 17, 2016 at 8:12 pm (horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

image4Today was a busy one, to say the least.  It included a morning trip to Issigeac for their market and basket fair,  a trip to a writer demo where I picked up a couple of books from local authors/illustrators, an afternoon pub stop to down a couple of Irish ciders (because I can’t drink regular beer.  We did have wine with our lovely supper at le Bastide.  I enjoyed pate foie gras, magret de canard (duck) – the local specialty and a tasty creme brulee.  I’m going to have to diet when I get home, and no alcohol for at least a week.

No more Sangria for me when I get back either.  My sister has spoiled me with it during late nights on the terrace.

So here is my first “wine” excerpt, from my short story, “The Storyteller’s Affliction” – yet to be published anywhere in full:

“As she tore her still beating heart from her chest, the pain was like a thousand teeth, biting into her flesh…”

No, no, no. The editor wouldn’t accept that; she knew it. She started again. Once more the whispers were there.

“It pulsated, scarlet and oozing, in the grip of her hand. The physical agony was as terrible as one would expect, ripping one’s heart from one’s chest, but her grief was suddenly gone.”

Natalie felt sick to her stomach. Every time she tried to write the scene without gore and pain, the whispers interfered. Hours later, she still had nothing presentable. She had written the same few passages several dozen times, each more suitable for some morbid gothic horror novel than a soulfully sad children’s book with a happy hopeful ending. It was nothing like what the editor had asked for.

Refusing to give up and admit defeat, she considered how she might better fight her affliction. Its constant presence had a soul-sucking effect, draining all of the positive energy from her. She had never sunk so low, teetering on the edge of depression herself for the first time in her life. She needed to tone down the imagery it was feeding her, to soften the impact. Once again, she considered Amortravail’s solutions. She never drank when she wrote because it numbed her mind and lessened her creativity, but that would actually improve her current situation, and she did keep wine and spirits in the house.

In the weeks that followed, her attic became a mental battlefield, and her primary weapon was a bottle of amber liquid. Those days and nights blurred together, with Natalie hardly eating or sleeping as she struggled to overcome the man-bird’s influence and write the book that she wanted, rather than the one it would have her create.

I did manage to finish up a short story while I was here, so I have a couple of submissions to make when I get home.

One day left and then I hit the road to head home.  I am looking forward to being reunited with my hubby, kids and garden.  I will miss my family here and France in general, though.  More later 🙂

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Summer Excerpt – Theme “Coffee” #3

July 14, 2016 at 11:36 am (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , )

11794430_10155841286760032_4772023191227114902_o - EditedYesterday was a shopping day for me, which included buying some coffee for a coworker and a t-shirt with a coffee slogan for me. Today is a national holiday here in France so there will be music, good food, wine and fireworks. I expect it will be a fun evening.

This will be my last “coffee” excerpt. I’m revving up for a wine fair this weekend and I am, after all, in wine country, so appropriately, the next one will be “wine”.  This one is from my Masters & Renegades novel, Magic University:

Ebon was halfway to his destination when his map slipped away from his telekinetic grasp.  This had never happened to him before, but he had also never put such a demand on his physical reach before today.  He juggle the map with what little physical force he could still manage to muster, flipping it over so that he could at least memorize its contents.

He continued onwards, abandoning the map face up in the mud.  He had not expected this would happen, and knew it meant that he would have to feed, something he rarely felt the inclination to do.  This did not please him.  Feeding took time and energy, and he had neither.

Arriving at what he believed was his destination, he began his search.  He had no trouble locating the leather wallet that contained the token.  He could pick out with ease the two glowing magical auras surrounding the purse, and they smelt absolutely heavenly, like the aroma of fresh bread or strong coffee.  He salivated at the thought of absorbing all of that sweet, distinctly different energy.  The one reminiscent of coffee was harsh and bitter, but strangely satisfying, the other somewhat bland, but slightly sweet and very substantial.  That was the only one he intended to feed off of, absorbing what he could as quickly as he could.  This was the plan, but once he started, he could not stop.

He had not recognized his hunger, had not realized just how ravenous he had become.  He sucked back the spell’s energies, lost in the instinct to feed and absorb.  Before he had realized it, he had completely devoured the first spell and had started in on the second.  He had lost all track of time, and as the last drop of energy slipped past his ethereal lips, he stretched out, thoroughly satisfied and replenished.

Now I’m off to make myself some lunch.  ‘Til next time 🙂

 

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Summer Excerpt – Theme “Coffee” #2

July 12, 2016 at 12:16 pm (horror, writing) (, , , , , , )

zombie3CB[1] - EditedWe took a stroll this morning down to “Le Cafe d’Arts” today to have a coffee “grande creme” (served with Belgian dark chocolate). The coffee shop is a host to many paintings and handicrafts that are lovely to look at while you sip the frothy brew which our server, Julia, offered up “mild or strong” – I can’t imagine asking for mild, only strong for me.

Today’s excerpt comes from my zombie short story, “Deadline,” and the coffee in it is nothing like the coffee I had this morning:

“Three weeks,” Kimberly muttered, “Shouldn’t have taken three weeks. It made me miss that deadline.”

Before reaching her desk, she would have to pass the coffee machine, Kimberly considered, and she was hankering for a caffeine fix. She was tired from her flight and the one blow to her ego after another was not helping things any. She came to a stop in front of the percolator, which to her surprise was stone cold and filled with a dark sludge that was already growing a fuzzy greenish-white film on the top. She gasped. Clearly, nobody had bothered with the coffee for days. Kimberly knew that she was normally the one to make sure that Kevin had a fresh pot available to him, but she could not imagine the others letting that task fall to neglect, especially not with an eager intern upon whom they could foist such a nuisance. Now she was really puzzled. She put the coffee pot down with an exhalation of disgust and proceeded on to her tiny office empty-handed, past the rows of peon cubicles.

The offices surrounding hers were just as vacant as every other work space that Kimberly had passed along the way. She sat at her desk, pulled out her laptop, and then started going through her Rolodex. She checked her e-mails – still nothing – and then began to call those on the roster of her best and most regular sources of information. Every single call went to voicemail. Nobody was even picking up their cell phones. That or they were screening their calls and ignoring her calls selectively. She fumed.

“I can’t believe these creeps,” she grumbled.

I’ll only be away from the office for just under two weeks, and I’m sure the Keurig will be fine when I get back (thanks Jolene.)  Then again, I don’t expect to find my co-workers transformed into zombies either.  Hopefully. I’ll have some warning if that’s the case.

More later 🙂

 

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Summer Excerpt – Theme “Coffee” #1

July 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm (writing) (, , , , , , )

zombie1CB - EditedOne of the things I like best about travelling in France is their amazing coffee, and my mother just gave me a painting she made using coffee as a medium, so my next theme will be one of my favourite things – coffee. I write about it when I can squeeze it into a story.  Here’s an excerpt from my zombie coffee story, “Waking the Dead”:

Approaching the counter, Alec noted that someone had erected a new sign. They were offering a special promotion– a free muffin with any purchase of their introductory Haitian blend. Alec approached the display, brow furrowed.

“Haitian blend?” he asked, directing the question at Jeremy. “What Haitian blend? I didn’t know we had a Haitian blend. We already carry a dozen varieties of coffee – why this one?”

One side of the assistant manager’s face curled up in a smile. “I’m grinding the beans as we speak. It was Clyde’s idea. He asked me to come up with something to attract a higher class crowd. We have our share of doddering seniors, bookish old maids and older blue collar workers, but they tend to stick with the house blend and avoid the more profitable specialty coffees. He wanted something to appeal to the younger crowd, and your typical trendy metrosexuals. I did my research and this is the new in thing.”

“I didn’t even know Haiti grew coffee,” Alec remarked, and then realized with dismay that he had just opened the door to Nora.

“They’ve been growing coffee for a long time,” the slender girl lectured. “And part of the reason it’s trendy around here is because it can help Haiti’s economy recover after being devastated by civil unrest and natural disaster. Of course, they’ve had their issues, like problems with the coffee rust fungus and a lack of consistency. They commonly grow a fairly standard Arabica bean, and a more current type called Haitian Bleu. Jeremy hasn’t told me which type that they’ve used in the new blend.”

“That’s because we haven’t used either,” he teased, holding out the bag that he was loading into the grinder. He thrust his fingers in and drew out a few beans, which he allowed to trickle slowly back into the bag. They were a dark rich red in colour, a sanguine shade.

“Red coffee beans?” Alec observed. “Well, that’s odd.”

And tomorrow, I’m off to the night market here at Eymet where there will be shopping, food, music, and likely coffee,  More about my stories and my travels tomorrow – ’til then!

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Summer Theme Excerpts – Travel #2

June 29, 2016 at 11:05 pm (Elliot, Fervor, Royce, Sam, Sarah, writing) (, , , , , , )

trans1As I gather my gear and ready for my trip, I thought I’d share an excerpt where some of my characters are doing the same…only I don’t have to steal any maps.  Today’s excerpt is from Transcendence, Chapter 7 – Recruitment:

As soon as Nathan returned, they started out towards the combination storage unit/residence. They travelled in pairs so as not to attract any significant amount of attention, with Sam and Angela leading the way, well ahead of the others and Royce at the rear, glancing over his shoulder as he went.

As they neared the building Sam searched the connection to see if Elaine and Elliot were inside. Fortunately, they weren’t. He and Angela slipped inside and he sent her up into the loft to throw down the storm gear while he searched for the records he knew Elliot had stashed somewhere around. He found them in a crate that had been hidden underneath the table where he had first seen the maps. The maps were no longer spread across the tabletop, stored in a plastic tube off to the side. Sam slid out the one with the route to Transcendence on it before pulling the file box out into the open.

“I hope these are one size fits all,” Angela said as she tossed down her fourth set of gear, trying to move as quickly as possible.

“I don’t think it matters. It might be a problem if they’re too small, maybe for Malcolm and Nathan, but otherwise we’ll rig them to fit,” he answered.

He flipped through the records, pulling out the files relating to everyone in his alliance, as well as for Katrina, Anthony and Grace. Then he noticed that Elliot had added to the collection. There were files about the Littles and various house families, information that Royce had retrieved from the Hub. Sam grabbed anything relating to the people in his alliance that was in those files as well. He didn’t get a chance to read any of it, because of the rush, but he thought it might be useful later.

“One more,” Angela informed him. “Then we pack it all up and we’re out of here. In and out, clean as…” She paused in mid-thought, and Sam didn’t think anything of it, partially because he had just made a discovery that had him perturbed.

“The blueprints, they’re gone! We need those. They show the layout of the buildings. They can let us see the security systems. How are we supposed to get Sarah out of Transcendence without them? They were here, with the other files. Where did they go?” Sam leafed through the papers a second time, searching frantically, but to no avail. He started to go through the entire box again, hoping that the records had been reorganized or maybe shuffled around for some reason. That proved futile as well.

“Sam…” He heard Angela descending from the loft, but didn’t stop long enough to look at her.

“I saw them with my own eyes at Elevation. Where could they have gone?” He was tempted to dump the entire box out onto the floor. He was certain that they hadn’t been left behind.

“Never mind them; we’ll just have to wing it. Be quiet, Sam. We have to go, we have to…” He heard rustling as Angela hastily shoved what she had gathered from the loft into a canvas bag, but she stopped suddenly and sucked in a quiet gasp. “Oh no.”

She had sensed trouble before she had heard it, which was why she had alerted Sam to danger a few moments before he would have known it was there by other means. When he stopped rustling through the papers he could make out the sound of voices raised in hostility. He felt around in the connection, easily identifying Nathan, Malcolm and Royce. He detected anger, frustration and defensiveness on their part along with some apprehension. He also noted the distinct presence of Elliot, the lone Connected latent, and one of the ghostly minds he suspected belonged to Elaine. Their diversionary tactics were in play.


That’s it for today.  I’m that much closer to my departure to France.  I’m looking forward to seeing family and the beautiful sights of Eymet. – More tomorrow.

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Summer Excerpts – Theme of the Week

June 29, 2016 at 1:10 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , )

SEU2I have a busy summer, with extra jugger, gardening, swimming/beach trips, vacations and overtime at work all added to my plate. I thought this year, I might start regular posts of excerpts matching a theme – so I don’t end up with huge gaps between posts. Since I’m revving up for a trip out of country, I thought I’d start with a theme of “travel.”

My first excerpt, from my novel “Sleep Escapes Us” come from Chapter 4 – Refuge:

Zelmis spent many days weaving his way through the forest as fast as he could manage, in order to make his way back to Gil-Doba. He still had hopes of stealing back his Alina, without getting caught and punished for his crimes. Not that he expected Dentys to mistreat her, but the longer he waited, the more likely the peltast would be lurking in ambush for him when he arrived, or even worse – Muka would be there to confront him. At the moment, that was Zelmis’s greatest fear.

He worried that even with the hastiest approach, he would arrive too late. The peltast would have the advantage of travelling by horseback and they would not have to worry about where they would find food, drink and shelter for the night, all citizens obliged to provide them with hospitality when asked for it. Zelmis had to journey on foot, often having to deal with near impassable terrain, and sometimes having to stop to seek out running water or to take shelter from inclement weather.

Fortunately, Zelmis had two regular permanent shelters in the woods in which he lived during the hunting season, one located fairly close to the Bucagi Mountains. That allowed him to shuck off the bloodied ceremonial clothing that he had been forced to wear for the sacrifice and change into some spare winter garb he kept for colder temperatures. Travelling in them would be uncomfortable, he would perspire heavily and risk overheating because the weather was still quite mild, but better that than exposing himself for his crimes by walking about wearing Zalmoxis’s blood. As long as no one identified him as the man who had been selected in the lottery, he would not be turned in to the peltast.

He also kept spare weaponry in his shelters, and gathered up one of his extra spears as well as a bow and a quiver of arrows. That allowed him to keep himself fed along the way; otherwise he would have succumbed to hunger long before reaching Gil-Doba. He made do with as little as he could to get by, each hunting effort presenting a delay in his rush to get home. By the time he did arrive at his village, he looked like a wild-man, as ungroomed and as haunted as Cerzula, and leaner than he typically was – not that he was a large man to begin with.

Zelmis smelled the smoke in the air while he was still quite a distance from Gil-Doba and he could see a glow through the foliage and hear the screams before he broke through the trees. He did not go into the village, but merely hovered by the tree-line, watching the chaos erupting in the settlement and observing with shock and horror. Someone was attacking Gil-Doba.

The first thing that Zelmis wondered, as his heart sank into his stomach, was if what he had done had somehow been the cause of all of this. Without the support of Zalmoxis behind the troops from Gatae and the surrounding regions, they might have fallen before the enemy, who were now infiltrating the spaces within their borders. If that were the case though, he was surprised that they would have already made it to Gil-Doba, a very central location.

The second and much more painful notion that crossed the hunter’s mind was that the raiders may have already reached and invaded Muka’s home, raping Dentys and killing the children. He reminded himself of Cerzula’s words, that he was to give the scroll she had given him to Alina upon his death-bed and that he would see her grow to maturity. As long as the seer’s foresight held true, his daughter was alive, and he would see her again.

He had to choke back a sob at the thought, withdrawing into the bush as some of the flames surged before him, fanned by the wind. He was convinced that he had to reach Alina now more than ever, if only to make sure that she was safe. Just because she would live to adulthood did not mean she was not at risk of suffering horribly at the hands of the enemy.


I’ll try to post one of these every day – even on my own travels.  That’s all for now.

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The Blurb on other People’s Words – An Old Favourite

December 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , )

What started with a hiatus for NaNoWriMo and turned into a long holiday break is over, and now I have to get back to work. I can’t think of a better way back to it than to present the latest offering from a favourite of mine, Bruce Blake. His work ethic puts me to shame. He’s a busy bee while I’m dragging my feet on the last book in my trilogy (almost done, just updating my cast of characters for this generation.) Anyway, here’s what he sneakily released over the holidays:

When shadows fall, the darkness comes…

A disgraced Goddess Mother wanders blind and alone, praying for her agony to end. When a helpful apostle finds her, could it truly by salvation, or does worse torment lie ahead?

A sister struggles to understand a prophecy that may not be meant for her while her brother fights for his life. If the firstborn child of the rightful king dies, will it spell the end for everyone?

Darkness and shadow creep across the land in the form of a fierce clay golem animated by its sculptor’s blood. It seeks a mythical creature who’s sacrifice portends the return of ancient evil banished from the world long ago. With its return will come the fall of man.

As the game unfolds, the Small Gods watch from the sky, waiting for their time to come and their chance to rise again. They wait for the fall of shadows, the coming of the darkness.

They wait for night to descend.

And that’s not all – he has been so kind to allow me to include this excerpt for your enjoyment…

Am I ready to kill?

A cloud of swirling mist sighed out between Kuneprius’ lips, rising into the night to smear the glow of the winter moon. He watched it dissipate, then exhaled another long plume, blowing it out the way he’d seen the Brothers do when they smoked their pipes filled with sweetweed. Instead of swirling the wreaths he’d watched them create, his breath came out a ragged column.

“Shh.”

Kuneprius cocked his head toward the urgent sound, an apology teetering on the tip of his tongue. At the last instant, he remembered himself and said nothing, pressing himself flatter against the side of the hill. Fildrian lay less than ten man-lengths away, but the Brother’s black hood and robe hid him in the darkness; despite his proximity, empty loneliness ached in Kuneprius’ chest.

The lad grasped the short sword’s hilt tighter, testing its uncomfortable weight. Though he’d seen the seasons turn but twelve times, he’d trained with this very sword for six of them. The temple blacksmith formed it with him in mind, the grip molded to the shape of his fingers. Its length and weight had proved too much for him when he first held it, but he’d grown into it, its size ideal for a boy of his age. He shifted minutely, searching for comfort and understanding that the prospect of swinging the weapon to wound rather than in practice caused his unease, not the sword itself.

Will I be able to wield it when the time comes? Can I kill if I need to?

He’d never been sent on a hunt, so the sword’s edge hadn’t tasted blood other than his own when he got clumsy or distracted while sharpening the blade. He shifted his grip on the leather-wrapped hilt, hand slipping with the slickness of the sweat on his palm. For so many seasons, he’d trained for this moment; he knew he’d kill if the need arose.

I hope it doesn’t.

The rattle-clunk of wooden wheels on dirt track rolled along the shallow valley and up the hill to Kuneprius’ ears. Soon, he’d need wonder no more.

The apprentice angled his head to peer down the weed-clogged road, squinting as he attempted to pick out the wagons in the darkness. The lanterns hanging at the front of each, bobbing and swinging with the horses’ gaits, made it easy. He counted them silently.

One, two, three…four?

His heart lurched. Brother Fildrian had said to expect three—two carts and a covered wagon. Kuneprius’ gaze flickered to the spot where he expected to find the expedition leader’s dark shape, but he saw nothing. He glanced back to the track, the horse-drawn vehicles drawing closer and, in the glow of their lanterns, he counted two covered wagons.

This is the sequel to When Shadows Fall, so you should check that out first, if you haven’t already. It is available for 99 cents through Kindle for the next week before it goes back to its regular price of $4.99. Here’s where you can find it:

When Shadows Fall:
Kindle: http://viewBook.at/shadows
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362347
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-shadows-fall-bruce-blake/1117001229
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/when-shadows-fall-2
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/8483067-when-shadows-fall-the-first-book-of-the-small-gods

And links for his newest release are below:

The Darkness Comes:
Kindle: http://viewBook.at/darknesscomes
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/391730
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-darkness-comes-bruce-blake/1117886146

Have a look – this is one writer I highly recommend, one truly dedicated to his craft and who has a real knack for character creation and world-building.

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October Submission Blitz – Book Release News

October 15, 2013 at 12:35 am (fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I took a little blog break this holiday weekend, but I did submit three flash fiction pieces so I’m up to 15 submissions for 15 days. I hope to have Laying on Hands ready to go tomorrow. It came in just under 5,000 words, so it won’t require major surgery, but I hope to trim it down somewhat during the editing process as the publisher specified shorter works are preferred. Then I plan on writing something I’ll be submitting under my pseudonym – as a break from the serious before I tackle my next attempt at a pro-pay acceptance.

No horror trope today. Instead, here’s an excerpt from my recently released Prisoners of Fate novel from May December Publications, the third in my Masters and Renegades series now available on Amazon and Smashwords:

When Ebon began casting his first spell, a minor transmutation spell, through Shetland and into a magical buffer that Anna had set up earlier, the dwarf began to glow. His coarse grey hair also started to stand on end. This was the most common reaction Shetland had to any spell not cast directly on him, but, rather, through him. That spell would have no other effect on its own, but introduce an energy-enhancing spell on top of it and infuse it with a dimensional pocket enchantment, and Ebon was convinced that the final effects would be spectacular. It would turn Shetland into a complex magical vacuum, drawing Ebon out of the other dimension in which he was partially suspended, and pulling him fully back into this one. The enchantment-imbued metal, which had mingled with Shetland’s dwarven flesh when he had tumbled into the melting vat as a child, would be drawn to the surface and evaporate, forming a magical cloud of sorts. This cloud would then solidify, sealing the dimensional pocket that would be penetrating both dimensions and allowing Ebon to transfer completely back to this one.

It would have seemed overly complicated to anyone but Ebon, but he had lived this process for years, existing to see it through to fruition. If he had been capable of eating, sleeping and breathing, he would have eaten, slept and breathed this moment since the day he succeeded at the University Admission Trials.

As Ebon initiated the second spell, not only did Shetland now glow with a slightly golden hue, he also began to vibrate in a very subtle way.

“I’m startin’ to feel the pull!” he hollered at Ebon, the noise from the combined spells almost deafening.

Ebon knew exactly what the dwarf meant. The first time he had tried this combination of spells, he had felt the pull as well, just as he was feeling it now. He had stopped the experiment prematurely that time, unsure how to proceed and uncomfortable with the strong tugging sensation within him. The tugging had come from two directions at once, like he was in danger of being split down the middle. Ebon had acknowledged after further studies, that he would not be able to undergo this change without pain. There would be an agonizing tearing sensation, and he would have to endure it if he wanted to succeed. Shetland would likely undergo similar agony, but he was not averse to the idea of pain, if it meant he would finally be a normal dwarf again. The two cohorts steeled themselves as Ebon prepared the third and last spell.

“Yesssssss. Finish it!”

Ebon hesitated. He was unsure where the whispery voice had come from, or how he could possibly hear it above the roar of the other two spells. It was soft, seductive and somehow familiar.

“Whatchya waitin’ for!” yelled Shetland, unable to see Ebon’s look of surprise. Very little could be distinguished on his face, due to his shadowy form.

“One moment!” Ebon called back. “I’m almost ready!”

“Go on…finish it! You know you want to. It’s time. We’ve been waiting for so long…” That voice again. It disturbed Ebon greatly, especially because he felt as though he knew who and where it was coming from, but he could not put that knowledge into coherent concepts. This confusion made it difficult to concentrate, and a lack of concentration made spell-casting a dangerous affair.

“Quit stallin’, ghost!” Shetland bellowed, his vibrating intensifying to the point that flecks of froth were forming on his lips. “Do it already!”

“Shut up! Both of you!” Ebon screeched, his voice becoming a high-pitched whine, intermingled with the rest of the noise. He centred himself, ignoring the chaos and focusing on the buffer beyond Shetland. He started the third spell. A maniacal laugh of triumph reverberated around them. Then it began.

Pain was a very simple way of describing what Ebon felt, and while agony was a more apt description, it was still insufficient. The hurt was greater than any Ebon had ever recalled experiencing, as if he were being torn inside and out, ripping right down his centre. Ebon tried to hold it back, but all of his discipline was not enough to keep a blood-curdling scream from escaping his lips. As he fought the throbbing ache that dug deep into his core, he saw a shape before him, a vague silhouette approaching him with increasing speed. It would reach him in a few seconds, right about the time the spells, the pain, and the process would all come to an end. He braced himself.

Suddenly, there was an abrupt pressure on his back and he was falling forward, tumbling into Shetland. The dwarf had not been expecting the collision and while he normally could have resisted such an impact, he was knocked off his feet as well. They fell together in a heap, at the far end of the room. Everything went quiet.

Ebon lay groaning on the floor, his head muddled and everything sore. He heard Shetland moving, shifting slightly from side to side. Ebon sat up, looking around. What had just happened? He brought his hand to his forehead, rubbing at his temples. There was something odd about the feeling. Both his hand and his forehead seemed slightly “squishy,” not quite right. Then it struck him like a bolt of lightning. He stared down at his hand. His hand.

Ebon blinked, rubbed at his eyes, and then blinked again. Once more, he felt that “squishy” sensation, but the hand was still there. It did not look exactly the way it should. It had a slightly golden sheen to it, and it seemed almost blurred around the edges, but it was there. The hand before him, obviously visible, was his hand.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – My Favourite Bruce

September 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

In celebration of the upcoming release of his new epic fantasy series called ‘The Small Gods’, here is a sample of Bruce Blake’s upcoming release (I’d call him my Favourite Blake, but that title goes to one of my characters, Reid Blake.). The main story line revolves around a prophecy found by Prince Teryk and his sister, Danya. It speaks of the rise of the Small Gods—who were banished by the Goddess a long time ago—and the fall of mankind. The story follows the siblings, who think Teryk is the saviour of mankind named in the prophecy, as well as a priestess of the Goddess, a sailor who hates the sea, and a little gray fellow named Thorn.

From WHEN SHADOWS FALL Chapter Two

“Quiet,” Teryk snapped and raised his hand. A hurt expression on her brow, Danya opened her mouth to protest, but didn’t. “Do you hear that?”

A tiny sound—completely unnoticeable when either of them spoke, lost amongst their footsteps when they moved, hardly there compared to their heartbeats—but he heard it. The faintest of hums masquerading as a buzz, pretending to be a breath. He took another step toward the lectern.

The sound emanated from the roll of parchment.

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Sshh.”

Teryk crept closer. The noise didn’t grow any louder, but it became more distinct—not a hum or a buzz or an exhalation, but a susurrant tangle of whispers, each indistinct on their own, but together combining to the softest of murmurs.

“It’s saying something,” he said, near enough now to reach out and touch the scroll if he wanted. He leaned his head closer still, listening, straining to perceive a recognizable word. “You can’t hear that?”

The pad of Danya’s bare feet on the stone floor sounded a cacophony in comparison, assaulting the prince’s ears and making him want to press his hands to the sides of his head, but then she stood beside him and the tumult ended. They both held their breath, the only sounds in the room the beat of their hearts and, hidden beneath, the whispers of the scroll.

Teryk counted twenty heartbeats pass before Danya shook her head and parted her lips, but he raised his finger, stopping her. Ten more beats, the scroll murmuring to him, talking to him. If only he understood it.

Why can’t she hear it?

A feeling easily mistaken for satisfaction settled into the prince at knowing a thing she didn’t, but it disappeared in an instant. Danya understood languages better than he, as she was better at most things. He wished she could tell him what language it spoke, what it said, what it wanted from him. He leaned closer, his sister leaning with him, his ear a handspan away from the edge of the rostrum, and then he understood.

“It wants me to take it with us.”

“What?” Danya straightened and put her hand on his arm. “No, Teryk. We can’t. We don’t even know how to get out of here.”

“I have to.”

He shrugged her off and took the last step to the lectern, raised his hand toward the scroll. Before he stretched his fingers out to touch it, before Danya did or said anything to stop him, the roll of parchment leaped into his hand and the whispering ended.

I was right.

Teryk held it up, staring, sensing his sister’s eyes on it, too. The parchment was rough against his fingers and smelled old—two qualities one might reasonably expect of a ancient paper. A spot of blue wax pressed with an unfamiliar seal held the scroll from unrolling. When the prince rubbed his thumb across it, chunks of the brittle material flaked away.

“We have to find a way out, Teryk,” Danya said.

“What’s your hurry?” He didn’t move his gaze from the roll in his hand.

“Trenan will be looking for us, remember? You have pike training.”

Teryk redirected his gaze from the scroll to his sister, his eyes moving lazily, as though mired in the royal cook’s version of oatmeal. They crossed the void between them, seeing the dust dancing in the light, the gleaming stone floor, the red with white pillars soaring toward the ceiling.

And the battle suits crossing the floor in silence behind her.

What a tasty niblet, eh? Looking forward to sinking my teeth into the whole thing. Bruce has a giveaway planned on Goodreads – enter for your chance to win.

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