The Skirmish on Sarkoth: When Gods Descend teaser

“Anything that denotes the colour of blood we consider unsacred. Nobody wears or paints anything red.”

Macready laughed and ran a hand through his hair. “Should’ve left me on the ship, Commander. Apparently I’m bad luck.”

Alison grinned and opened her mouth to retort, but before she could make a sound a low rumble jarred the floor. The blue glow of the holographs flickered and jumped, and a yellow light switched on overhead.

“What was that?” Alison asked.

M’Jin’s brows furrowed even deeper and she studied the yellow glow for a long moment.

“What does the light mean?” Macready said. He was losing patience; Alison could hear it in his voice.

“Yellow is for a storm that has breached the integrity of the city’s barriers,” she said, shaking her head. “But there was no warning of a storm that bad today and we were not warned of any sort of test.”

“What could—” But before she could finish her thought, static issued through the speaker in her ear, followed by a male voice she recognized.

“Commander, do you read me?”

“Lieutenant?”

“We’ve got a problem.”

Alison touched a hand to her ear, hating the flimsy comm system there. The setup in their helmets was infinitely more sophisticated. “What is it?”

“—yellow lights everywhere,” Hawthorne said, voice crackling in and out of the static. “M’Kra—ey say it’s a shield breach, but the storm isn’t—” Continue reading

Haunted Garden: Changeling teaser

Four stone towers, only one moderately intact, connected by walls that had long since crumbled in the middle. Vines crawled up the sides of the weathered stones as nature tried to reclaim what was rightfully hers. A flagpole still stood from the highest tower, the one closest to me, with a scrap of fabric still attached. It drifted lazily in the evening breeze.

Another shiver danced down my spine. The highest tower was one of the tallest buildings I had ever seen, aside from the castle in Nallis. It was majestic and magnificent, even with one side gone.

“I don’t like this,” I said to myself, and walked slowly past the tower, alongside the south wall, which was mostly intact. A few holes like slits were carved into the stone—places for archers to keep watch and ready their bows in case of invaders—and from one still dangled the ruined remains of a tapestry. Continue reading

Monsters of the Past: Changeling teaser

I swallowed a lump in my throat and my hand drifted to my knife, which I had taken to wearing on my hip instead of my leg once we entered the Old Lands. “Logan, I am the one who lives in this territory,” I said weakly. “I am the one who had to convince you that it wasn’t haunted. But this place… it feels wrong.”

Logan stopped and looked at me, head cocked to the side. Sophia crunched away, oblivious to our hesitation. “Riane, this is why we came here. My legs haven’t stopped hurting since we left home, and I have never been filthier. But this is why we came, remember? We were going on an adventure to break from the monotony of our lives.”

I bit my lip and stole another glance in the direction of the fort. “I like the monotony,” I whispered, but he ignored me and jogged away to catch up with Sophia.

I watched their retreating backs, and my grip tightened on the hilt of my dagger. Night was quickly falling; soon we would be lost in the darkness, and I knew I wasn’t about to camp next to the ruins of the fort. We would have to walk back to Vavenby, and that would take all night.

My gut twisted and a shiver crawled down my spine. We were trapped. Continue reading

The dogs of war: Purity teaser

He could feel anger radiating from Vanessa like steam. He understood why, of course. He had ample opportunity to shoot Heinrich in a fatal zone—the heart, the head—and end this foolish war without further bloodshed.

But Vanessa didn’t understand. Vanessa had never been truly lost and alone in her darkest time of need, had never found that one person with whom to seek solace. In truth, Vanessa had no friends. Only allies.

No matter what happened, Heinrich had been a friend.

Fane gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on the pistol at his side. Joachim was right. He wasn’t strong enough to kill the man who had been his pillar of strength after the deaths of his father and Verity.

Heinrich snarled another curse in German. He released his injured arm and, before Fane could even move to react, grabbed a fistful of Joan Gwyther’s hair, yanking her upright. She shrieked, thrashing, but Heinrich held tight. “See what you have done, Fane!” he roared, loud enough to startle birds from their roosts. “This is the end! Everything you have fought so hard to protect will die today!” Continue reading

The Darkness: Purity teaser

The sun was still setting; a violet haze still lingered on the horizon, streaking the clouds rainbow hues. It was beautiful, despite the faint sting on his flesh; he had forgotten just how much he once enjoyed simply sitting outside and watching the last dredges of daylight struggle against the night. It was poetry in nature.

A twig snapped beneath his perch, and he squinted through the cover of leaves to see three people trudging through the dense forest beneath him. Two strigoi morţi, famished but well rested, dragging a limp figure through the dry grass and fallen leaves of autumn.

Continue reading

Lessons: Purity teaser

Jezebel Baudelaire was gasping for air, scratching at the sleeve of his coat with desperate fingers. Fane’s glare sharpened and he pressed his arm harder into her throat. He was tempted for a moment to be like Vanessa, when she was showing him the ropes of hand-to-hand fighting several centuries before, and coolly ask upon pinning the opponent, “So, what have we learned?”

Instead, he leaned closer to her, and she tried to buck him off by jerking violently. Fane stayed firmly planted atop her, legs on either side of her body. “Have you had enough yet?” he hissed. Somewhere behind him, he could hear the vârcolaci and strigoi morţi engaging in battle.

Satan only knew if Caitlyn had gone.

The vârcolac beneath him couldn’t answer, not while the life was being choked out of her.

“Get out of Auvergne, Miss Baudelaire,” he said, formality itself. “Return Estelle Moreau her son, and leave the pack be. I will not hesitate to kill you.”

He eased up on her throat, and a huge gust of air inflated her lungs as she finally managed to catch her breath. Gasping and panting, she glared at him and whispered, “You… won’t win. Heinrich… has too many… supporters.”

“Heinrich may have strong support, but I have greater allies. We shall see how this battle of wits plays out in the end.”

Leaning over her face as he was, Fane was suddenly very strongly reminded of several points in his childhood when he and his brother would wrestle for fun. Mircea, being older and bigger, always ended up pinning Fane, and leaned over him in this exact way, slowly drooling spit until Fane would call for their mother.

He smiled slightly at the memory. Baudelaire saw and her eyes widened, misunderstanding. She thrashed wildly beneath him, determined to free herself. Fane pressed his weight on her, and she gave up after a few moments. Her chest heaved with the effort of dragging in breaths, and she was still pawing weakly at his arm.

Fane sighed and moved his free hand. He reached into his coat and calmly removed the revolver. Pulling the hammer back with a click, he pressed the barrel into her temple, and she immediately froze.

“Return Master Moreau to his mother and leave Auvergne, and I will spare your life. This is your only chance, Miss Baudelaire, and the only mercy I shall ever show you.”

There was only a brief hesitation and flash of indecision in her dark eyes before she shoved him off. He let her and stood, watching her closely as she gasped and rubbed her neck.

“The kid’s in those trees there,” she croaked, pointing to a copse nearby. “He’s not hurt.” Turning away and crawling to her feet, she waved a hand. “Hey! It’s time to get out of here!”

The fighting ceased almost immediately.

“What?” A German voice—Manfred Gottschalk, unless Fane was mistaken—rose up in the darkness. “Where are we going?”

“Home.” Baudelaire limped toward her group, eyes cast down.

Fane kept the gun aimed at her, silent.

“Baden-Württemberg?”

Baudelaire’s mouth twitched. “Baden-Württemberg. Auvergne isn’t about to be swayed to join Heinrich. Let’s go.”

Fane watched as the rebels abandoned their fights and trudged toward their leader. The night was filled with the crunch of breaking bones for several long seconds, then a large pack of wolves stood on the ground before Fane. One—judging by the ash brown fur, Jezebel Baudelaire—glared up at him, and he nodded once, and lowered the gun. In silence, they turned toward the north, toward France’s far border with Germany, and began to run.

Fane waited until they were shadows. “Estelle Moreau’s child is in that copse. We are going home as well, and may this business with Heinrich Abendroth be finished.”

He turned and began striding back toward Le Vallon. In the distance, he could see Vanessa’s recognizable figure heading toward him, leading the third and final prisoner. A bubble of hatred popped inside him as he neared them; renewed disgust for Alfred Blade and everything he stood for.

Vanessa was near Joan Gwyther and Caitlyn now, who were watching in stunned silence, a large rifle on the grass before them.

“My lord,” Vanessa said, pushing forward the final prisoner. “What do you want to do with him?”

In one fluid movement, Fane lifted the gun and pulled the trigger. A sick splat as the bullet ripped through the prisoner’s forehead, and a thud as his body jerked in Vanessa’s arms; Fane barely heard any of it. His mind was elsewhere.

Vanessa dropped the corpse, looking disgusted, but Fane ignored it and pushed past her. Keeping his emotions under control, he said flatly, “Burn the body,” and, leaving the others behind, he slipped into the darkness around Le Vallon.

I appear to be IT

And not as in Pennywise, the clown from Stephen King’s IT. I’ve been tagged by the most illustrious On Windy Days in a game of blog tag. Heck yes, blog tag.

The Rules

1. I must post the rules.
2. I must answer the questions the tagger listed for me.
3. I must create (or reuse) 11 questions for those I tag.
4. I must tag 11 people.
5. I must let them know they’ve been tagged.

1. What is your favorite quote, who is it from, and why?

My favourite quote… actually, there are several. 1) By Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds in Dragon Age: Origins and II: “… it is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.” I love this not just because I’m a huge nerd and need a life, but because it’s entirely true. A teacher of mine once said that for every low you have in life, you must have an equal high. In the same quote is “Without an end, there can be no peace,” which I also like. I’m deep and thoughtful like that. 2) By Kreia/Darth Traya, the mentor/member of the Sith Triumvirate in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: “To be united by hatred is a fragile alliance at best.” This, this is just awesome. And also true. Video games are deep. 3) By Dagoth Ur, a mortal god and villain of the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: “Who knows what we may be capable of, when we no longer fear death?”

Basically, I’m really nerdy.

2. Which song can bring you to tears or reminds you of your childhood?

Family Portrait, by Pink. Yeah, yeah, pretty typical, but I related to it as a child when my family life got tough, and it still makes me cry.

3. What is one thing that keeps you going day in and day out?

Probably my writing. It’s what my life revolves around. It’s definitely what I live for.

4. Why did you start blogging?

I started this blog as a better place to document my thoughts and show my writing to the world. I used to frequent deviantART, but due to a lack of interest on the site for writing, I thought it was a good idea to move on.

5. Is there one thing that you regret not doing in the past? If so, would you be willing to share what that was on here?

I can’t really think of anything. There’s plenty I can think of that I regret doing, but not necessarily not doing.

6. What is one thing that you saw that restored your faith in the human race?

I lose faith in the human race with every passing day, especially with what I see going on in the US, what with the war on women, drugs, gays, anyone-who-isn’t-an-extremist-republican. So it’s tough to say. Maybe this:

This is pretty cute. Go Australian firefighters.

7. Rain or Sun?

I’m 50/50. I live in a place of perpetual sun, so when it rains it’s a nice refreshing change. But I do like me a good, crazy rainstorm, the kind that soaks you in a minute.

8. What movie had the most impact on you? (A movie that just really made you challenge your view on anything)

Well, I’ve already sat here and thought about it for several minutes. Financially, the Dark Knight Rises, because I’ve seen it four times now (and can quote it directly in many places). But to actually answer the question, probably V For Vendetta. V is a bit of a hero of mine, because the point he makes is relevant to our changing times. A democracy is nothing without its people. And don’t worry, I’m not a communist/anarchist.

9. List five words that describe your character.

Goofy, nerdy, smiley, thoughtful, bookish (THIS IS HARD.)

10. What is your greatest fear?

Dying. I’d say water, because that scares the living shit out of me, but dying, definitely. I used to lie awake at night because I’d fret about it and work myself into a tizzy.

11. What do you ultimately want to accomplish in the days to come?

I’m going to finish Purity, edit the bejesus out of it, and publish it as an ebook for all to enjoy! Maybe not in the days to come, but that’s my current goal.

Tagging!

Elisa Nuckle

Bethany

Ashley Jillian

My Other Book Is A Tolstoy

Preston Fuller

I don’t have 11. My apologies. Reusing the same questions, too, because I’m not unique!