Short and Sweet Update

Poking in before I post today’s author spotlight to apologize for not posting in a long time. I’ve been deep in the writing cave/ doing summery activities, but by the time I actually come in to blog I need to be off and running again. Consider this the official warning that probably for the next little bit posts with the exception of the spotlights will be in and out. On the plus side, it means those books I mentioned in an earlier post will hopefully be done sooner for everyone to enjoy :). Hope everyone had an awesome fourth of July!

In The Game of Waiting, No One Wins

I’ve had about five different posts planned over the course  of the past week and a half and have yet to post a single one. It’s my own fault really, I’m sitting here waiting for my feedback on the revisions and seeing how badly I messed things up- yeah, I know this sounds pessimistic as hell, but at the same time it might be realistic that while fixing some of the problems I actually created more. So admittedly nerves are high and it’s hard to come up with a coherent post to actually finish, I actually dread revisions on what I wrote fresh this week because I imagine it’s a mess.

Speaking of writing- here’s a peek on what to expect down the road.

-Darkness’s Fury- Closing in on the last little bit of the current draft and after about another week of resting from any revising, I’ll be starting that so I can actually show it to Beta’s and have it make a bit more sense. Still planning on a Fall 2014 release.

-Birthrights Secrets Novella (currently untitled) This will hopefully soon follow Darkness’s Fury and has been partly written and mostly plotted out with the major points. I”m a pantser school of writer, so some stuff is always left to where the story takes me. Expect this to follow Darkness’s Fury as Kakri followed Vengeance of Segennya.

-Follow up to Darkness’s Fury (full length and currently untitled)– Has had basic plot line made up, but details will be somewhat at the mercy of the final version of events in the untitled Novella and the remaining unwritten portions of Darkness’s Fury. Rough estimate for release is 2015 sometime.

Hybrid Novel Series- currently partly written it combines a bit of space adventure involving pirates that have magic-like abilities, who, while having their own share of normal misadventures while on jobs, have much larger problems that keep chasing them. That’s all I can honestly say right now- vaguest novel description I know and I apologize, but honestly, it’s still in overall early stages so hard to pick through what I have developed right now since it will give too much away. (Besides, summaries are among the worst things to come up with that aren’t super vague.) Expect this one also sometime in 2015 too.

Want to make sure you don’t miss any info on any of these upcoming books, among other things- sign up for my mailing list here.

Kicking off Friday in Style

Here’s a Friday treat for you all, the first chapter from the revisions of Vengeance- this chapter is not finalized since I still have it going through a reader or two before it becomes released to the world. I’m still waiting for both my own satisfaction and another pair of eyes I have looking at a few spots before I send it off to said readers.  Keep an eye out for an ARC giveaway of the new version soon though! Details will be announced on various forms of social media.

So without further ado I present Vengeance- Improved Chapter 1:

Some months ago             

Life before Ravenwood started to burn couldn’t have been more different. Instead of battles against larger forces she faced enemies of her Lower Quarter Lord. They were usually suspected of being guilty of plotting or had committed treason against him somehow. Her largest worries were when her next job came, though she never had to wait too long. Lower Quarter offered her plenty of opportunities to work under her Lord, even if it was simply a tax collection or something equally mundane. Ravenwood left them alone since they were more focused on their desires, goals and whatever internal conflicts were happening before to police the other part of the city.

She had seen much during her life. She had seen their lack of care and controlling fear spread like fire and poison through the streets, choking out much of the goodwill and security. Eventually, it reached where many—like herself—left the city entirely. No longer was anyone able to get by beyond crumbs and fear over what would happen the next time was constant. That was, until havens like Lower Quarter rose up. After that she had met Lord Durj and his sister Cat and found a sense of normal with them that she had longed for so long to find. In time they became a family of a kind and he gave her the means to live and not simply exist with her skills. As such, Liz had no mercy for the plotters and committers of treason—guilty or not. They were in a similar situation to her enjoying an easier life because of the Lord they served. Not to say there weren’t plenty of offers for her, many jumped at a chance to give her one any chance they got, most offering a lot better pay. She turned a blind eye to these because serving Lord Durj alone and making his enemies pay with blood was all she desired.

A job was what had her out today, trudging through the sooty slush in the streets since winter’s grip had yet to disappear entirely. Daylight had started to fade, turning steel-gray sky into slate with clouds churning as the wind picked up. Pulling the hood of her tattered cloak she passed a vegetable stand closing for the night. The proprietor gave her a slight smile as she passed; she returned the gesture, hoping he had a good business day even after Lord Durj’s cut of the profit. The tax was one of the many things that strained her little family, Cat was often furious Liz saw nothing of it and that her brother took it at all. The main reason for this was of her stance on how Lord Durj deserved nothing of his position since he treated his citizens as if they were nothing and just took from them. Instead—according to Cat anyway—these things should have gone to Liz, who did all the work in her eyes.

The market itself was just as run down as the rest of Lower Quarter. If you were fortunate enough to be set up in a building it was on the verge of crumbling around you. Similarly, if you managed to secure a stand it was tattered. Each one tended to lean on newer supports that looked just as bad the old ones and that they could be blown down in a decent breeze. Most shops barely made any profits and only sold the basics, though there were a couple of blacksmiths and leatherworkers for the needs of the Lords and their people. Dodging around a group of people crowded around a fire in a metal bucket, she was pulled out of her musings by her boot hitting a large stone. As she twisted to avoid tripping over the crowd, she scooped it up, put it in a pocket and shouted apologies over her shoulder. Picking up her pace, she wove through the maze of back alleyways to ensure she was there on time. It wouldn’t be good to have her task waiting for her and risk running into unwelcome spectators.

Liz climbed a broken down staircase to the roof of a building. What remained of it wasn’t that tall, but it was perfect since it overlooked a hole in the wall of its neighbor. From this vantage Liz could tell when and exactly how she needed to strike. She highly doubted her target would be alone as he was Durj’s third in command. He usually traveled with a few trusted bodyguards and they were just as guilty with knowing what was going on here. The wind picked up, blowing Liz’s hood off and allowing her bronzy brown hair to blow about her face as the sky opened dumping down a cold shower. She watched as the water obscured the taller buildings partly from sight.  Liz turned her face towards it welcoming the company in her solitary wait as she took the stone from her pocket and began flipping it several times in her hand. Laughter carried up by the breeze drew her attention away from the rain and to the hole once more. Four men accompanied one in the center, all joking and laughing, though those on the outside of the group remained alert for danger on the ground. Two of them stopped at the entrance, bidding the other three goodbye before standing alert. Shortly, five other men appeared at the end of the street. They were stopped outside to be checked for weapons and means to harm those inside before being allowed in.

Well, this complicates things. She was going to kill whoever gave Lord Durj the information since this meeting was not supposed to be happening. In fact, the worst that was supposed to be going on was a territory grab independent from Lord Durj. The newcomers looked to be from a neighboring Lord, Jek she thought he was called, though fairly down his chain of command. She had seen them at some meeting Durj had made her sit in when she was younger. Back when he had the hope his sister would join his reign and didn’t know how visible he wanted Liz to be. No, this wasn’t right at all, he was supposed to be taking this on alone, not with allies from within or without. Now she had to find out if Lord Jek was involved or if these men working independently of their Lords. One way to find out…

Liz launched herself into the alley, rolling slightly as she landed to end on her feet. The two guards outside stared, open-mouthed in surprise. “Hello boys,” she greeted cheerfully.

Quick as a deer fleeing a hunter Liz was on one, grappling them tightly, the other bodyguard pulled out his sword and ran at them. Unfortunately for him, Liz had no issue using his partner as a human shield and the sword wielding thug was too slow to stop the collision. Liz dropped the grappled thug and swung around behind the sword bearing guard staring in disbelief at his friend. A loud thud and ting rang out as the sword and thug dropped to the ground, lifeless. Liz dusted herself off a bit, pausing to consider the bodies and putting the stone back in her pocket. If she were lucky that was quiet enough the meeting taking place inside would continue on as nothing was going on. Liz knew the bodies remaining where they were would alert people if they left before she was finished. Grabbing them under the arms and dragging she looked around to try to find a place. Finally, she settled on simply dumping them around a corner hoping someone would think they simply got robbed and the thieves had put the bodies there. The rain would be enough to wash away the other evidence of her presence.

It was completely dark within, filled with somewhat stale air carrying the smell of unclean bodies. Low, tense voices carried to where Liz stood. She crept forward, keeping to the shadows the darkness provided as best she could. Faintly, she could make out some guards moving about at the edge of a well-lit area. Liz ducked into a room just outside the outer edge of the light that spilled into the hallway. From here she could hear anything taking place in the meeting and know when it was safe to proceed while they hopefully would remain oblivious of her presence.

Durj is a complete idiot,” his third in command was complaining. “There’s plenty of area for all of us if he just grabs it and plenty of jobs to give us all coin. Instead, he has that half-breed freak running around doing the best ones while the rest of us starve unless there’s an opening. Which isn’t a lot these days, him not wanting to step on either the freak’s or his sister’s toes.” Liz had no doubt who the “half-breed freak” was; unconsciously she covered her ears.

“Yeah,” another speaker rumbled. “But Durj will never see beyond his secret weapon. Can’t say I blame him, she’s like a ghost, in and out on a job before ya blink and damn good at what she does to boot.  I heard he handpicked her as a youngin’ and raised the killer in her. I do kinda hope you keep her around when you get up there to Durj’s spot. Damn loyal too from what I hear, might be useful”

“Bah!” Durj’s man exclaimed. “That wench only obeys Durj. Besides, when we combine our forces we’ll have enough under our control to make up for her supposed skills. Though if you want her, go ahead.  I suppose I could gift her to you as a token of appreciation for your help in this. I can’t risk telling too many in Durj’s lot without the bitch getting scent. Especially since the plan is to eventually grab his area too by takin’ him out.”

The other speaker laughed nervously, “Now we’re talkin’!  Now no one knows ‘bout these weapons right?  Those you did tell wouldn’t blab now?”

Nah, they’re trusty, they value their skins too much since unless Durj tells her to heel she’ll kill us all. And I run weapons out of the market anyway, a few coins in the right places, let’s all this stay not official.”

“Nice to see the bastards’ tight purse strings backfire on him.” Liz heard a groan and the scrap of something against the wood floor. “Well then, I’ll be in touch when I get things in place to get you to make your move.”

“Good,” another chair creaked as Durj’s third spoke. “I look forward to it.”

Liz glanced out into the dimly lit hallway and eased farther back just in case. Jek’s man was surrounded by his guards once more. Liz eased the stone out of her pocket as the five men made their way out, suddenly happy that she had gotten so much information. Jek’s man was out of her reach since he wasn’t Lord Durj’s, but a few words when she reported in would get him taken care of too. Well, if Lord Durj decided it was necessary. That would be up to him, though, it wasn’t her place after all to do more than report. Smirking, she took the stone out and flipped in her hand again as she waited for the hall to clear. Hearing movement in the next room her smirk widened as it seemed Durj’s men were taking care of things. Rounding the corner and back into the hall, she crept around and eased toward where the light spilled out, listening to them joke as they worked.

“Come on boys, Lord Durj is expectin’ us at the Blood Moon,” he chuckled, turning to the door as he spoke where Liz now stood, leaning against the casing.

Ahh, but I believe you’re mistaken,” Liz replied and she kicked off the wall and started to stride toward them. Her green and silver-gray gaze was dark as she eyed the three men. “You see Lord Durj sent me to give his regards and after I heard what I have tonight, I see it was very well to send them.”

“You crazy bitch,” the man had a wild-eyed look in his eyes, trying to find how to escape what he knew to be a certain fate but wanted to try still. “Just go where your master directs you, eh?”

“If you are referring to why I am here, I already heard the proof of your alliance with Lord Jek’s man. I will honestly say that was not my original reason for Lord Durj requiring my services here, but it appears I will get rid of two problems for him.” she flipped the stone again and as it returned to her hand it transmuted to two long daggers with a hearty hilt made of stone. The knives’ edges glinted in the torchlight.

The man’s eyes bulged even as they fixed upon the blades as his men rushed forward; very few had ever seen why she was so gifted with fighting and killing. The ability to transmute weapons out of essentially anything was where it started accompanied by years of the skill being refined. If they did find out, most took the secret to the grave. In a smooth motion she transferred a dagger to each hand and raised them slightly. The men continued their advance; the smirk reappeared on Liz’s lips at the comfortable weight of her daggers. Her power had created them so they were a perfect fit for what she wanted to do as the men came at her. In two quick slashes they fell to the floor with loud thuds just as easily as their counterparts outside had done. Now, Liz’s eyes rose to rest on Durj’s third in command, beads of sweat appeared on his forehead as he stared at the lifeless bodies.

“Now…” he managed to start, his voice losing all arrogance and calm that it had. “Now… listen… I… can explain…”

“I am sure you can,” Liz replied coldly. “I imagine there are several things you will tell me as to the reasons why you did what you did if only to stop this fate, but they would all be lies. You were trusted into an inner circle and threw what made that trust well placed away with your planning here. Moving to make your own name, and then move against him.” She took a step forward, “That is the simple truth, which even you cannot deny.”

“Nono… no…”the man repeated, close to tears. Then suddenly, he recovered just as fast as he broke down and yelled, “You don’t know what it’s like, you get all the jobs! If he could, he’d just have a force of you, after all you’re perfect. Go where you’re told and do your dance, then go home to get a pat on the head! Do you think I’m the only one who thinks that? He deserves betrayal ten times over by now for it all! But you won’t see it until it’s too late. You’ll be blind sighted cause you’ll still be singin’ his praises—like he’s a God when all he really is… is a… ”

Liz’s eyes flashed and her temper raised, she flung one of the daggers at him, and it buried itself in his chest, dropping him. “It does not matter what you think he is. What matters is that you plotted against your Lord, who you promised to serve.” she said darkly going over and pulling the dagger out. She cleaned both on his clothing, and just as easily as she made them she allowed the rock she had used to fall to the ground beside the bodies. Standing, she glanced around the room, making note of what was there so she could have Lord Durj send some people later to reclaim it. Her eyes dropped to the bodies on the ground and sighed. Such a waste of life and talent for something that could be avoided had they stuck to side of honor and keeping their agreements. All these jobs and she still could not understand why do it at all? Pivoted on the heel of her foot she pushed them from her thoughts and strode from the building. Her destination was either the Blood Moon to meet Cat or reporting into Lord Durj. Maybe after is best, the job is done and this place will remain as is, she shook her head, glancing back once more before she reentered the welcome rain.

Darkness had completely fallen by the time Liz finally entered the Blood Moon, she eased the door open to a noisy and warm inside. All around men joked and laughed with a few women scattered among them, most were actually the serving girls. Liz shook her head at the state of their dress, she swore every time she entered the tavern their dresses were cut lower and lower. She nodded toward the proprietor, Terra at the bar and headed to her usual table tossing her cloak over an empty chair. Terra glided over, her hips swaying to put-on a show for her customers. She set a mug down on the table for Liz, “I’ll be back in a second, lass.” With that, she walked back to the bar and spoke softly with her girls while getting their drinks. The door opened again and a short blonde haired woman walked in, her ice blue eyes surveyed the room before landing on Terra who nodded to in Liz’s direction and shook her head ever so slightly.

The woman walked to Liz, tossing her cloak over hers and slid into the seat next to her. They kept the side across from them completely empty knowing Terra preferred that side to keep an eye her girls. Terra had always been protective of those girls since she took over the tavern from the woman who had trained her in the arts of servicing—all  things—to put it politely. The tavern was the oldest building in Lower Quarter, named the moon that hung overhead that night that had led to the creation of this part of the city. With such a beginning it had been preserved in probably the best condition, almost like a monument. The inside shone with cleanness and it had some of the few remaining windows and enough candles and wood to keep the place cozy even on the harshest of winter’s nights.

“So,” the woman began. “What did my lovely jerk of a brother, have you do now that has you having your sympathy drinks this soon after sundown?”

Liz took a long drink, “Nothing more than usual.”

“Really? My brother was hopping up and down in delight when I passed him on my way here.” Liz glanced at her and Cat raised her hands in the air defensively, “I was civil, I was civil.”

“I somehow doubt that,” Liz replied. “I think the entire city has heard your shouting matches.”

Cat made a dismissive noise, “He deserved it.”

“I’m sure he did,” Terra had rejoined them, sitting her open slot at the table. “But ye always think he deserves it.”

Cat glared at her, “Of course he does! The pig-headed arse needs some sense pounded in his head for what he gets away with, and thinks he can just because.”

Terra glanced over at Liz who was drinking deeply from her mug again. Calmly, her green eyes appraised the situation and rather subtly she signaled for fresh drinks to be brought over “So, what‘s the deal lass? Ye look like ye’ve been run over by a wagon. Last time I saw ye this deep in the liquid therapy so soon after a job was after that clearing ye did a few years back. Took out a lot of Lord Durj’s men if I remember right, and he even sent Kellin with ye to do it.”

The serving girl placed three new drinks on their table, and Liz reached eagerly for the fresh mug allowing the girl to take the old one away. Once she was out of earshot Liz replied, “Yeah, he did with that job. This one was similar in a way. He stood there yelling and screaming—then what he said and did…” Liz took another deep drink. “Let us just say that it was unexpected for some reason.”

Terra and Cat exchanged a glance, knowing that conversation had finished. For all their years of friendship and Cat and Liz almost being almost sisters, Liz still remained fairly private. Liz sat there, mulling over the last moments of her target’s life. She was usually calm during those last moments, when most unhindered truths came out. For some reason though, tonight hit her heart.

Lord Durj takes care of his people, unlike most Lower Quarter Lords I have seen. He never asks them to do too much, though he has made a few mistakes along the way but what new ruler does not? His people are not overly lacking in what they desire though. and especially those in direct service. All their claims are is lies for justification for their actions without foundation. I am more clear-sighted in regarding Lord Durj, they let their greed blind them.  

“Liz,” Cat gently touched her arm, causing Liz to start. “You were so lost in your thoughts there I thought we were going to have to pull you out with a net.”

Ye okay?” Terra’s voice echoed the concern.

“Yes, I am fine,” Liz’s voice was somewhat vague as she brought herself back to the tavern in her mind.

“That job that idiot sent you on really shook ya, didn’t it?” Cat took a sip of her own drink. Her tone was light, but her face betrayed her worry. “Tell him you need a break, or I will for you.”

“No, I am honestly fine.”

“If ye do need a break here might be yer chance,” Terra nodded toward the door. A group of men, all looking quite fit and well dressed for the usual variety of merchants and tenants that frequented entered the tavern. At the center were two men in deep conversation. One with beady ice blue eyes and hairless head nodded as a shorter man with rather pink skin and just as icy eyes with his long, light-brown hair slicked back spoke. Cat glared at the taller man with eyes that matched hers; there was little denying the relation to her despite how she had tried when she was younger. Silence descended on the room, some stood to bow low before Lord Durj waved them back into their normal activities. Then he went with most of his men to a table which was slightly raised above the rest. The man with the his hair in the tail went the other direction, toward Liz and her friends.

“Kellin,” Cat greeted as he drew nearer. “What brings you to our little corner of the tavern?”

He smiled at them though he kept his eyes on Liz, “I actually came to give this to Liz, she left it in Lord Durj’s place when she reported in.” He placed a decent size sack of coins on the table. “Also, Lord Durj wants to warn Liz he might have a lot of jobs in store soon. He’s working on gathering some information now about how large of an issue this is, he’s hoping to have answers after his meeting tonight.”

Cat looked outraged that her brother already wanted Liz for another job for him. Liz rarely forgot anything meaning something was bothering her. She had exploded last time this happened and she would gladly again, “Listen here messenger boy– ”

Liz clamped her hand over Cat’s mouth, silencing her. “Tell Lord Durj I am honored and look forward to the task. It will be my pleasure to do it, all he has to do is tell me when I am needed.”

Kellin eyed Cat who was giving an impression of a volcano ready to erupt and back to Liz. “I’ll pass along the message, though I hope he doesn’t need you tomorrow night.” He gave Liz a slight bow of sorts and a slight wink before he walked back to Durj’s table.

“That boy is heads over heels with ye, lass,” Terra said.  “When are ye goin’ to stop these moonlight dates?”

“That he is,” Cat agreed. She took a deep drink from her glass, feeling the need to join Liz suddenly in a blissful stupor. “Still, doesn’t mean he needs to come over here and bring tidings from that great and powerful idiot.”

“He does not really have a choice,” Liz insisted. “He has to do his jobs just as I do mine.”

“He might not have a choice dependin’ but that bastard has a choice to not use you guys for his own means, he can have the balls to take care of it himself.” Cat’s eyes flashed in anger and she slammed her cup down on the table. “And don’t give me any of that I owe him my loyalty since I gave him my oath of service crap. Gods know he’s the lowest payer out there in Lower Quarter anyway. Besides, what you’ve done has paid him back time and again!”

Liz and Terra exchanged a glance. “Don’t do it, lass,” Terra said, swirling her drink around in her glass. “If there’s anything ye two will never agree on its Lord Durj.”

 

Liz supported Cat up the stairs of their home several hours later, thanking the Gods that they lived alone in the building due to Cat singing part of the way up at the top of her lungs. She was happy she had the wisdom to stop quite a while before leaving though she stumbled being pulled by Cat as she flailed. Their place was quiet and pleasant in a secluded area of Lord Durj’s territory, away from the main bustle of Lower Quarter. It had managed to survive what had decimated the buildings around it, protecting them from the element for the most part. The only flaw was where the roof crumbled inward and exposed them to the open air.

“Liz… Liz.. I luv you,” Cat slurred stumbling over the steps.  “Yer like a sister to me, and that bastard… that bastard, he doesn’t deserve you.”

“Which bastard are we referring to again?” Liz asked. She felt obligated to despite knowing the answer.

Durj!” Cat shouted.

“Oh of course,” Liz grunted, trying to hold Cat upright while fumbling with the keys. Oh the times she wished her transmutation ability went beyond ways to protect herself or do a job. She wished she could make something more useful for moments like this – like a chair. At last, she managed to get the key in the lock and open the door. “Why is that anyway?” she asked, continuing to  humor Cat in her state. Her motives weren’t entirely pure though, she also wanted the company while she set to work starting a fire to combat the coldness of the night.

“Because,” Cat began, flopping down on her bedroll. “All ‘e does is use people. Once they’re not bein’ useful anymore, he finds a way to get rid of ‘em. Or if they don’t make his job cushy secure like. I’m ‘prized he didn’t have you goin’ around the whole Lower Quarter yet killin’ peoples, but give it time…” Cat trailed off, watching Liz work with the flint and steel. She eased into the bedding, not even bothering to remove her boots. Soon there were flames, she smiled at the warmth and Liz as she removed her own boots before settling in her bedroll.

Liz looked over at her, her eyes shimmering in the flickering light the flames gave off. “Any other reasons before we go to sleep?”

“Yeah!” Cat yelled, then took a more somber look. “Yer too good fer him Liz, too good. If anythinyer should be Lord, ye don’t deserve to keep just doin’ the dirty work, but him getting’ all the credit,” with a sigh she rolled over. “Nigh’ Liz.”

Liz smiled softly at her friend back before closing her eyes, “Good night, Cat.”

 

Liz’s eyes snapped open what seemed to her to be almost instantly. For a few moments she couldn’t tell what had caused her to awaken so suddenly. Glancing out the worn roof, she could see it was still dark out and judging by the sky, still in the wee hours of the morning. She sat up slowly, looking around the room, her breath visible in the air and found no visible sign of danger to be apparent. She was just about to resign that it must have been a dream she couldn’t remember or some other night noise when a scream rent the air followed by other shouts and yelling in the distance. Instantly Liz was wide awake and had transmuted her daggers to her hands using the stone she kept by her bed. Setting them aside on her bedroll she put her boots on quickly, being as quiet as she could.

She reached over to Cat and gently shook her awake. Putting a finger to her lips, she signaled for the confused Cat to be quiet, the reason became clear as more screams filled the air. Liz pointed to the bedrolls and indicated that Cat should roll them up, while Liz gathered what little supplies they had to store within them. The noises were growing more and more around them so she was taking no chances staying within the city. Hurrying past the window opening her breath hitched in her throat for a second. The sky was splashed with an orange glow and the air grew thicker and thicker with smoke. The city was ablaze, though it was more intense in some places than others, steeling herself she raced back to Cat.

“We must go,” she hissed, grabbing her daggers up and throwing on her cloak.

Cat’s eyes widened even more, but quickly recovered throwing her pack and bedroll on her back. “Where are we going?” Cat whispered as they rushed down the stairs.

“I am not sure, just we need to hopefully reach Terra and definitely need to get out of this city. We need to find Kellin too, if we can manage it,” Liz replied, her eyes moved around restlessly trying to spot anything that might be in their path to safety. They hadn’t made even off their street when Liz heard movement; she pulled Cat into a nearby cubbyhole. Several men ran past, weapons drawn and at the ready ran toward their building.

“Are the bitches there?” A man yelled a few minutes later in a Lower Quarter accent.

“No, they are not,” another replied. “They cannot have gotten far, though; this part of the city is surrounded by fire and our men.”

“Spread out!” The first man ordered in a shout. “We need to find and take care of them for the boss before we end up sliced by her blades.” The men scattered away, running past Liz and Cat’s hiding spot. “Ahh, look at that,” the man said in a much softer voice. “That’s where the Blood Moon was; too bad, we could’ve used those pretty faces to celebrate the new age.”

“Now, now my good man, you can have any woman you desire when this business is done,” the second man spoke. “We will be heroes for bringing this new age!”

“True,” the first agreed. “But Terra’s knew how to treat a man…” Their voices faded away until they were replaced by the frightened yells in the distance once more.

Liz’s heart caught in her chest and she glanced down at Cat, who had silent tears streaming down her face. “All we can hope for now is that she got out,” Liz managed. “We need to get out alive now; she would kick our arses if she knew were staying around and risking getting killed for her memory especially.”

“Forever the mom of the group,” Cat’s mouth twisted into a sad smile. “Let’s get out while we can, we’ll try to find them later.”

Liz led the way out this time setting out toward the outer edges of the city; Lower Quarter’s walls had little upkeep so there were several places to sneak out without it needing an official exit. Those would probably be covered by multiple men to keep people from escaping. As they went further outward the sounds of screams and yelling diminished.  It appeared whoever was doing this had already been through this section of the city, as Liz surveyed the damage around them trying to decide the route to take. Next to them a building crumbled, still smoldering sending a shower of embers up into the air as pieces fell. Watching it for a moment Liz spied a hand about the size of a child’s lying silent beside the wreckage.

“We must keep going straight. I can see the wall just ahead,” Liz told Cat quickly wresting her gaze away.

“How you can see anything in this smoke is a miracle, but let’s get out of here, it’s giving me the creeps.” Cat said as she checked the dagger that Liz had handed her back near their home.

Liz took one step forward and was knocked to the ground by a blur that turned out to be a man. “I got you!” he yelled.

“Liz!” shouted Cat.

A grunt escaped Liz’s lips as she tried to roll over, but the collision had put her hands at an awkward angle and made the one with the dagger in it virtually useless. She couldn’t get the leverage to get into a better position and the man had her legs locked. Liz and the man struggled, entangled so badly Cat couldn’t get a clear shot at Liz’s attacker without risking injuring Liz herself as they moved and writhed. Liz’s dagger skittered across the stones coming to rest half the street away during one attempt to break the grapple. One of the man’s arms found their way to Liz’s throat and began to choke her; each breath became a gasp of air and her vision blurred.

“Soon I will have you taken care of, then your little friend over there, and I will get the reward. There’s a damn good sum on your heads too. I don’t know why, but you’re both targets number one. That doesn’t matter, all I care for is the coins.”

Liz tried desperately to hold onto consciousness that became more fleeting by the second. Desperate, she decided to try something new with her ability since all she needed was one second to break his grip on her throat. Her hands scraped the ground frantically for anything suddenly she felt the sharp edge of steel. Gripping it, she gave it as much of a toss in the air as she could muster entangled as she was. As it rose she concentrated with all her might, shaping it into a throwing dagger. In that second of materialization she somehow flung it at her attacker, hitting him in the shoulder. That moment of pain was enough for his grip to lessen and Liz to flip around and grab another stone, turning it into a dagger as she slashed across his throat. Gasping for air, she knelt on the ground beside the body, Cat hurried to her side.

What the name of the Gods were you doing?” Cat yelled. “That was way too close! How in the world did you get him to break off?”

“I know, I know,” Liz said between breaths not even wanting to pause to think of how she did it. “We need to go now—then we will think about what happened.”

Cat pulled Liz to her feet and started on the way Liz had previously said as the way to go. Easing through a crack in the wall they found themselves breathing a bit easier. Still, they had more distance to put between them and the city before they could settle down. It appeared to Liz’s eyes that they were the only ones to make it out this far, but she still tried to remain hopeful, after all, Terra and Kellin might be out there somewhere. They paused at the top of a nearby ridge which overlooked the city; the fire seemed to have spread. Holding back their tears and exhaustion, they pressed on, disappearing into the dark forest.

 

 

Lazy Days and Date Nights

I meant to finish my go over of Vengeance this weekend- but its not going to happen- after pushing for the past week and a half I needed a desperate recharge since I basically put the brakes fully on writing to keep downtime to a minimum except for a bit at night. Well, no writing and just editing make me a cranky author. So Thursday after a few unsuccessful attempts at moving forward I stopped and suggested to the hubby that we go out for the date night we had been planning on for ages. So after dropping the munchkin off at the grandparents he and I went out for a nice dinner at our local sit down Asian restaurant, most of them are the buffet styles around here. I’m just gonna direct you here to see a bit of what we got cause the presentation is that good.  The next day I went with munchkin to his school to a farm presentation where we got to feed the baby animals- though it took  a round or two before he tried his hand at it.

And seriously- cutest and smallest goat ever was there.

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Then yesterday was game night, which in turn changed into who can mess up who… we played a rarer game and while it’s player against the creatures that are Computer controlled it is also very much player versus player at the same time so you can steal their towns, items etc. Then we transitioned into a quick session of DnD before the night broke up, though we didn’t get terribly far the dungeon we were in. Still, it’s a nice break, and while I’m working on Vengeance a bit more today I’m still going at a pretty easy pace with it and will probably try to break into some writing later tonight. I’m still hoping to get it done this week so I can focus fully on the fun part of this job- writing!

Oh btw? I’m still looking for Beta readers for Darkness’s Fury- see this post here for the form to fill out if you’re interested!

Coming Out of The Cave…

It’s been a long, hair pulling week of revisions and we’re not done quite yet… soon though, very soon. I’ve had to cut back a bit the past few days if only for my own sanity though I’m trying to get it back up asap. For reasons as to why I took down the now outdated version- well, while it should automatically update for those who bought Vengeance already I don’t want to have people grabbing up a product that I am in the process of fixing. Right now it’s looking like late next week will be the earliest it will be back up.

Oh, also I’m on the lookout for Beta readers- probably to start in a couple weeks- for Darkness’s Fury. This gives me a bit of time to recoup a bit from my revisions of Vengeance and go over the chapters a bit so that they aren’t completely a mess. If you fill interested, please out the form below and I’ll get back with you. BTW- Sorry for the length, I was trying to cover everything I could think of coming up and get to know people at the same time so don’t let that scare you. Thanks in advance for all those who fill it out!

 

Deep Sunday Thoughts

Okay I confess- some of this will be repeats from previous posts where they were touched on in some detail or very little. This is my current mood though based on what just happened and made it dawn on me once more. The set up- I was sitting with my son on my lap watching a few music videos and a couple behind the scenes ones as well while we cuddled before bed. He was entranced though for a couple of the behind the scenes one I was more interested in what was being said- following your dream and being afraid to fail. The constants we put on ourselves that actually prevent us from following those dreams and I realized that’s what I had been suffering from for years now and still haven’t been able to shed it. ( Link to the video that partly sparked this post here, by the way if you haven’t I highly encourage you to check out her music as well.) While chancy indie publishing and being an indie author has never been at its best point to try to get into because of the attention it now has as well as credibility.

So I completely realized how right she was in this video- as we grow older we do put constraints on our dreams. Instead of seeing limitless potential we see hurdles upon hurdles and practicalities. Yes- some would call this realism and I would agree that some realism is necessary but you hear every day of people working jobs they HATE to get by only. And by hate I mean barely tolerate with sanity, several steps above and beyond what I consider baseline of simply impatient for the day to be over like I was during my summer job at a local amusement park back in high school. Anyway- I watched my son stare fascinated at the images on the screen, whether he fully understood what was said it caused me to think back to my mindset when I first started this journey- to show him dreams- even impossible seeming ones -can be possible.

Growing up I had a pretty lose outlook on what was possible for me from others in my life. At the same time- they urge me to get a solid job, one with a secure future- or you know, those ones that chances are you HATE or are ranked a bit below that point on the scale of job love. Who cares if you enjoy it, they say- it pays the bills and that’s all that matters liking it will either grow or just never come. As for me I had a drastically different view, what is a job if you don’t like it? I went in phases- I wanted to be a doctor.. .then actor except I have horrible shyness and stage fright- then author – and eventually professor as my college years progressed and the author thing became a distant memory. Then I discovered that I could actually accomplish that dream and figured why not try. Best to finally give it a go then not, of course this thing that I thought was going to be a somewhat laid back affair now carries a piece of my soul, hopes and dreams. It no longer is seen as a secondary thing, but a focus though I still go to school. Still, the same people wonder how much money I’m making from books, how much this and that is going into this. In other words- how much is being wasted on such a chancy thing?

I try to tactfully dodge the questions- since I’m starting to be honest the answers will just add fuel to the fire. I’m still finding my footing, tweaking my strategy and approaches- the windfall- if any is fall off into the future. But sitting here tonight I wonder why I ever stopped those years ago when I was spurred on to seek publishing the first time. I refocused my view because to be frank a few weeks ago I had one of those great moments authors have at times that I was about to throw in the towel and quit. I realized it was the same voices- the ones that tell you to go the realistic to constrained route in life that caused the silence, the abandonment of the dream for that time period. I was looking at colleges, trying to find a steady job- I couldn’t balance both I felt and still go to high school. And when I say trying to find  a steady- not seasonal job I mean really under a lot of pressure to do so though I was never really successful. Conversations turned to “What do you want to do after you’re done with school?” Anything less than certain was met with the usual grimace and quickly flying suggestions of alternatives that were much safer. This followed to the – why don’t you just work and not go to school suggestion. So I lived by the mantra for years of safety over dream- now that isn’t to say I have no love for being a professor or my major and that all they are is that safe option- on the contrary I do. It was one of those majors and ideas that take hold in the “discovery time” of early college years when you test the waters and discover new fields.

Last winter though I remembered those stories, since Vengeance and another idea I’m developing for a future series are both written originally back then. I remembered the far flung dreams and the voices urging me to publish, that it was good enough to make it. So I dared to take a look with fresh eyes and shove the other voices that said it was a waste of time and wouldn’t go anywhere- to just continue on the secure path aside and decided to go for it. To be honest while I want my son to have a secure future I don’t want him to do something he hates for it, I don’t’ want him to abandon a dream because it is hard and most of all I don’t want him to lose that world of wide possibilities we seem to completely lose as adults. Some harshness and realism will happen, it is par the course, you want to have that backup plan but I don’t ever want him to feel he has to wonder what if. What better way than to prove that it can be done taking a rode you have to literally pave yourself? Sure its not the easiest route- at the same time is querying agents and publishers any easier at times? You trade waiting for work – yeah there are pros and cons to each version of publishing- that’s a whole other post though, but really is it any easier on the nerves wondering if that latest promo effort paid off or if you would get a favorable response from someone who would represent you and your ideas? I also do it for myself- to fulfill a dream from days gone by that I thought I’d left behind forever but have a chance still to fulfill. I do it to also, and some may think this petty, to prove those nay-saying voices wrong. To prove that you can make a sustainable living of an amount doing this job, a job I love and fulfill a dream that may or may not be worth it in others eyes. In a way I’ve already accomplished the first part of the reasoning, I have a few books out with more being worked on- I have shown it is possible but its not done.

So in this insane stream of consciousness I began on a Sunday night and am now finishing in the early dawn hours Monday I do have a point. The point is to not give up on those dreams- seek out and remember those that encourage them, ignore the rest though those voices will be the loudest at times. Most of all, pass that belief down to the next generation if you have kids or someone of similar age in your life like nieces or nephews. Like I said some realism is going to happen, these dreams are hard work no matter what route you take, and sometimes things prevent them from being fulfilled right now. Don’t give the line of them being not worth it because of it and push into  the realm of  never instead of maybe. Encourage smartness but not lack of worth. Maybe then we can all keep looking at the world through the eyes of a child somewhat again and believe in not just the limitless potential of others but our own.

Sad, Sad States…

I used to browse for hours and hours in the sci-fi /fantasy section of my local Barnes and Noble- while not the biggest section in the world it definitely seemed to have a good area, covering about 2/3 of the back wall in the main part of the store with about the same free standing shelves about equal to the wall space covered by the books. Included in this partly was a tiny nook that held both like TV book adaptions and tabletop RPG rule books for DnD and Warhammer among others. Have the authors that have shaped my own stories in some way were discovered in this section. So for part nostalgia, part I haven’t been in a actual brick and mortal book store in a while I decide while we were out and about today after a few appointments and Chinese lunch to go over and take a peek after my husband asked if there were anywhere else I’d like to go while we were in the area. We’ll not touch on how somewhat bad of an idea it is to take a three year old to a bookstore and expect him to behave long enough for you to browse the shelves at least in the slightest right now because I think everyone can see how this turns out.

Anyway, we walk back and I notice that the store has been rearranged even from what it was last time I was in, now the fantasy/sci-fi section was a fraction of what it was then. The YA books that had the fantasy subgenre were shoved in among the free standing shelves with their own label as though to fill it out more or marketing gimmick and the entire section were tucked behind the romance section. Regardless of my beloved books being shoved into a corner, the same corner that used to just be a continuation of the section in the store, I start looking as my son takes it all in, squealing with excitement and running hands down the shelves he could reach (I will note for my previous statement he was rather well behaved overall). Most of the section was filled with rather the bigger names in fantasy and sci-fi and what there was that stood out seemed to be vampire centric novels mainly – seriously are we done with this crazy yet? I’m tired of vampires really, I’ve been tired of it like two years ago at least. Needless to say I didn’t get anything this time around, couldn’t take  nearly as much time as I wanted to look around but left with a somewhat sadness that the section had shrunk so much. As I drove home my husband commented he was sorry I didn’t get a chance to look as much as he knew I would have liked.

“It’s fine,” I tell him. “To be honest the selection wasn’t that appealing to me anyway. I’m rather picky when it comes to books remember?”

“Yeah, but still.”

“I actually wanted to go because I like the store and missed looking at physical books and, in a self-centered way, see if my book was there by a fluke- so I at least accomplished that.”

“You don’t have anything with them though, right?”

“So long as there’s demand my books can appear anywhere really.” I sigh, “That section really made me sad though.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because it was so tiny- a lot smaller from what it used to be. I wonder what happened.”

“Must not have been selling that well,” he shrugs in his seat.

“Maybe, always seemed full back in the old days when I used to be there quite a lot. Even the last time was pretty crowded.”

Its sad to see a that section tucked away like a forgotten toy with no one really beside me and my husband son browsing the shelves, shrunk to a fraction of it’s former sizes. I look at it from two different angles understandably-as an author who writes fantasy- how successful with a shrinking section would a book signing, going with the thought of not too many sales, be in my city- what are the chances I’d see my name with the others on the shelves?  As a reader I’m sad because if I want a physical book in a reasonable distance, we don’t have too many small book shops around my area, there is less variety that I can get immediately and have that whole experience. I’m thinking the last one actually makes me sadder.

Magic of Segennya Part One- Liz

Segennyian magic is somewhat unknown to its human population in Vengeance of Segennya though it does see a resurgence of sorts in Kakri. At the same times these systems of magic are somewhat elaborate and interwoven except for a couple areas. The main one of these systems that fall into the latter category is Liz’s ability. So now let’s enter what is essentially the 101 course to Liz’s magic.

– Simply put Liz’s power is the ability to form a weapon virtually out of any substance at will so long as her physical body and mind holds up. A bar of iron will form something out of Iron, a stone will make stone, etc.

– Essentially Liz’s power is linked to her physical strength, if a fight goes on long enough she will eventually lose focus and the shape of the weapons as her body tires from exertion. The same happens as well if she is too wounded in battle.

– How they are formed is concentrating on the shape and use of the weapon you desire- this means completely custom designs are possible- and holding the shape in your mind as your ability causes it to take shape in the medium of choice. After formation only a portion of the will of the user is needed to maintain the shape allowing the mind to be free to make use of the tool and actively engage in battle since even a subconscious level of awareness fulfills this need.

– The material that weapons are being formed out of do not always have to be a large amount of the material such as a what a blacksmith might use to form a weapon with normal means. At the same time it is restricted somewhat in how little of a material it can work with, it can’t form a weapon of any real substance out of just a tiny bit of material like a chip off a larger piece of stone or a sliver of wood can’t form a  full weapon.

– The exact amounts that are the cut off are unknown as Liz is the only living practitioner of this form of magic and typical errors on the side of practicality then experimentation to see limits. In addition in Kakri does expand what materials can be used (and that’s all I say in fear of anti-spoiler mobs 😉 ).

– As far as defensive practices, making shields, armor and the like, it is unknown if Liz can form these things since as previously mentioned she has never tried to experiment and her previous applications had little use for making such items.

-It is believed that Liz’s power comes to her from her father’s line since to date no Eiren, Uranyian or Inarnian magic works that way to tie her to those disciplines which also might make it a strictly human school.

– As far as documentation there is relatively little, most documentation of human magic schools in general have been hidden or more than likely destroyed at the time of Vengeance of Segennya.  Recovery efforts in this regard have been slow since the events of Vengeance.

 

Okay I confess- this looks like one of the most basic, basic intro guides to a magic system in existence. I will probably update as the books progress and the fear of spoilers is not as great since the older books won’t be just months old. I feel though this gives a good overview of what Liz can do, her limitations and hints at future prospects for her abilities as she is a bit freer with her powers now. So my question to you is what aspect of Segennya do you want to see next? I plan on making this a bit more of a regular feature on the blog whether weekly or more often I’m not sure yet. I have a few ideas but I wonder where people might be more curious about the world and want to touch areas of interest first so let me know in the comments!

First Look into Darkness- Read at own Risk!

Disclaimer (Spoilers maybe ahead):

Now these aren’t so much spoilers for Darkness’s Fury itself, though it can be applied, but more for how Vengeance of Segennya ends. So if that doesn’t scare you away I should also warn this has yet to be even really touched  a second time by me even, Darkness is far enough along though that I feel comfy giving a sneak peak. So without further ado I present for the first time on the internet Darkness’s Fury, Book 2 of the Birthright Secrets.

 

Chapter 1

Durj’s chains rattled as the leaky boat plunged over yet another wave soaking him through his prison issue tunic and trousers barely any protection from the cold, wet sea. He shifted uncomfortably on the splinter filled bench as his jailors pilot their ship over yet another wave. One of them noticed his change of position, “What’s the matter King Durj? Sorry it’s not velvet lined and cushioned but don’t worry you won’t be on here for long.” He gestured ahead of them. “Look!”

Sharp rocks rose out of the churning waters like some fabled monster’s teeth as a jutting island cliff loomed overhead. Their ship dangerously was pushed near the rocks, near enough Durj could reach out and touch one despite his attempts to keep an image of calm. The rock was slimy yet sharp as the teeth they seemed to resemble. Quickly his guards righted the vessel and guiding it through the cluster of obstacles until a small opening appeared just wide enough for their boat to go through.  As they disappeared into the darkness barely able to even see the walls Durj was almost thrown several times from the vessel as it bumped into the walls. Just as suddenly as the passage had emerged into view it widened into a calm pool, his guards maneuvered the boat towards a slight shell that formed a bank to the pool and the steep steps leading form it, there two armed and armored guards waited.

“About time,” one yelled as they near. “Thought we’d have to fish you out!”

“Sorry, it’s a bit rough out there,” The one behind Durj responds. “And his former majesty isn’t exactly giving us the easiest of times.”

“I’d bet not, how many times did he try to escape?”

“Five times,” the guard in front said speaking as though Durj wasn’t there.

The boat gently bumped into the rocks, the two guards hauled him to his feet, “We’ll help you get him settled into his rooms. They nice?”

“Oh he’s got the best,” one of the guards said leading the way up the stairs.  Durj’s chains echoed eerily as they climbed. “Nice and private.”

They neared the top of the landing and the guard took a key from his belt pouch sliding it into the iron door it opened with a groan and bang. “In you get,” the guard behind Durj orders shoving him.

Durj stumbles slightly as the urging, slowly entering the room one of the guards right behind him. As Durj studies his accommodations the guard takes the lose end of his chain and locks it to a ring in the wall then releases his hands though his feet remain shackled. The room had a horrible draft from the cracks in the mortar between stone and brick showing the prison’s age and state of repair. Water steadily came in through the open bars to the outside soaking the floor and was right next to the most uncomfortable bed just short of what he had in the makeshift jail they had him in inside Ravewood and was no doubt at least partly wet. “Room not to your standards Durj?” one of them asked.

“Do I get a blanket at least?” he asked trying to play obedient prisoner. The look on their faces tells him that they don’t quite believe it but say nothing.

“It’s at the foot of the bed there,” the same guard replied pointing.

Durj picks up a raggedy thing patched in many areas and threadbare, “Thanks.”

They shut the door with a bang causing Durj to jump and blink as it did so. “Enjoy your home for the rest of your days,” the guard told him laughing with the others as they went down the stairs once more. “So five times huh? He must have heard what happens to those who stay in Dalyrus too long or what being sent here means…”

Their voices faded, Durj walked to the bars as much as his chains would allow.  He looked down the hall and called out softly, “Anyone else here?”

The roaring wind outside was his only reply waiting several minutes in case he was too quiet he tried again. “Anyone?”

“You will only find skeletons here,” a voice came from behind him in his cell.

Durj whirled to see Traidan leaning against a wall showing little care with his old ally’s predicament. “Where have you been?” he hissed.

“I have been making plans and making sure you’d still have a chance at your throne again.  Zara says hello by the way.”

“She’s fine?”

“Better than fine, currently she is a guest of Manarum to the South while I prepare out current forces to weaken Segennya. I think right now she is finalizing some plans of ours.”

“Take me to her!”

Traidan laughed. “No Durj no, you see you failed and while I have decided some use is to be had by you, a few months of the pleasure and silence of Dalyrus is more than fitting for your failures with your underling. I will come get you have no worries there,” he walked over to Durj and pressed a crystal to his skin of his forehead.  Durj screams in pain the cry echoing, it continues to carry on even after the crystal is removed. “That should remind you who truly has the power,” a black mark in the shape of the crystal was etched where he had pressed the crystal.  His own screams still rang through the air as though he was still making them. “This will let me keep an eye on you,” he smiled at him. “I’ll leave you with your company, can’t have you going too mad too fast now. Do not worry though only you can hear them or see the mark, if you ask the guards they will think you crazier than they already do.” He vanished from sight as Durj lunged for him.

“Bastard!”

A searing pain exploded in front of his eyes for a moment.  Tut tut now Durj, that will be enough of that. The screams seemed to grow louder.

Resigned Durj sat on the bed putting his pillow over his head but it didn’t help.  After some minutes they quieted somewhat but still continued on,  for three days it went on and with the guards only coming up from the somewhat shelter of the rock below to give him gruel for meals three times a day othe r than that his only company was the screams.  When they ended Durj was relieved to have the silence since it was a calm day and Dalyrus was far enough no wildlife traveled.  Soon though he longed for that noise, sitting in his cell he leaned against the wall tapping his fingers, anything to keep the silence at bay. He could hear the blood coursing through his very veins it was so quiet, it was as Traidan had said, and soon he would go mad from it if he couldn’t keep it at bay.

 

Miles away in Ravenwood Liz walked through the corridors of the palace towards Cat’s room sighing. She had hoped the extra time she had before she felt Dalynus was ready for Durj would have shaken Cat’s obsession with looking through her brother’s belongings but had no luck. She was on her way to once again force her to join them for supper and was using the summons Cat had put forth as an excuse to do so. Pausing at the door she gave it a token nock before entering. Shutting the door behind her she took her sister in, Cat sat with her back to her books and other things littered the desks and tables all around where she sat in one of her rare gowns for her new station. Liz walks over her own green gown trailing behind her having had official Queen business earlier in the day and meeting with new nobles as well as racial delegations. “Cat, what is it?” she asked sitting in one of the scattered chairs around the room, and looking around. Clothing and other odds and ends were tossed on the bed over other furniture and floor.  Cat’s bedding was rumpled, half moved to a couch near the desk. “Cat?” she tried again almost pleading to get her to answer.

Cat’s head shot up, “Sorry. Got lost in what I was looking at.”

“So I noticed,” Liz said dryly. “Why did you want me to come by?”

Cat turned to face her, leaning back in her chair. Liz had to bite back a breath at the sight of the eye patch covering her right eye, now a familiar accessory for her friend even after all these months but still took her breath away. A sharp, vivid reminder of one of the prices paid for what took place though she had been lucky where others hadn’t, a bit more though and Liz shuttered to think. “I’ve been looking at something quite interesting,” she said drawing her attention away from the injury. “You now the uprising that took your father had no visible signs right? It would happen.”

“Yes, Cat we have spoken to my mother on this.  Unfortunately though since I and others are still almost positive Durj had help he won’t tell us so we are left to guess and prepare the best we can until prison loosens his tongue. The guards have orders to let me know if he lets anything slip while he is there. ”

“I don’t think any amount of preparing will help you.  I’ve been looking also at the bastard’s notes seeing if what he won’t tell you is there and found some things.”

Liz leaned forward, “What is it?” Cat reached over to the desk pulling a bunch of lose piece of parchment some of the writing looked unskilled as though someone had made the characters was quite new at forming the words. “Your notes?” she asked knowing Cat had just recently begun to master the art of writing.

“No, it’s his. Look though,” she changed a few pages around to reveal an entire page of what appeared to be someone else’s additions to the writing. “And I can’t read it.”

Liz held out a hand, “May I?”

“You’re the Queen, go for it.”

Taking the parchment in her hands she ran her hands over the words trying to gauge age of ink and parchment. “It looks fairly old but not as old as some of the papers we have come across buried in the room here.”

“Yeah lucky that idiot doesn’t have enough smarts to destroy things,” Cat laughed as Liz resumed her study of the notes. “And that he didn’t make it all the way through the palace cleaning it.”

Liz nodded half listening then cursed, “I cannot make out enough of this. It looks to be Eiren but it is also written in a code or a much older form. I do not understand though how Durj understood it to make what seem to be additions or his take on what is written.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like this-My Lord, you have truly thought of everything but I think more traditional routes are needed as well. If it’s agreeable I’ll put men in place to wait out the storm of unhappiness. I’ll also put in place my best weapon, she’ll do as told.”

“No doubt meaning you,” Cat muttered bitterly. “But he tried to kill you instead does it hint at what changed, the reply to his suggestion that is.”

“What I can make out of it says danger and no regarding his best weapon.  I would assume though that the others must have been put in place.”

“Why haven’t they struck yet?”  Cat asked. “It’s been months since you put Durj away and he stayed here for ages too while we waited for everything to settle to do a public trial and then after.” She shook her head. “Maybe you shoulda answered the call to kill him.”

Liz eyed her vehemently, “As I told him when I cornered him that is the easy way out and I am not about to begin this new chapter with more killing for us. I did a bit of research myself before I sentenced him to Dalynus by asking my mother. He will be all alone out there only seeing other people when they bring him meals, far from any supporters that might have gotten away from us. The prison never held more than one or two prisoners at a time and they are punished for speaking to one another. Meaning, except his own thoughts if anyone is put in there with him he only has wind and rain for company. He had his chances plenty to possibly get a lesser sentence or at least a better place to spend his days while we waited for Dalynus to be ready. Let him stew the rest of his life over what he lost and over who took it from him.” A wicked smile spread across her face. “That’s punishment enough I’d say and keeps him alive to pull information if needed.”

“Right you are,” Cat stretched yawning.  “Gods I’m starving I’ve been at this most of the day,” she said glancing over at the timepiece on the wall.

Liz followed her glance, “It is almost supper time, why do you not call it break time from all this?   No need to research constantly you are going to go mad.”

“The answers are here though!” she cried. “I know it and I think you do too, whatever he won’t say that we haven’t seen yet. I honestly think something is brewing, it went too easy. Durj is an idiot but not that bad of one for as much as he did taking the place over.”

“That we can agree on, but right now we are looking at smoke with no flame,” Liz replied staring thoughtfully at the parchment in her hand. “I am visiting my mother after I do this tour of the country I am going on soon perhaps she can shed more light on what these characters might mean. Simply do me a favor and do not work yourself ragged over this, since I know you will. Also let this go no farther beyond how is necessary so Terra and Kellin at the most.”

“I can agree to that,” Cat said, she walked over to the bureau and took some water to freshen up her face splashing it all over. “No need to start panic, I’m not so obsessed to know that there might not be much to all this.”

“Cat you have hardly moved into your rooms or your new house down in the city and,” Liz winces as Cat lifts the eye patch to examine the empty space that used to hold a viable eye. “Will you stop that?”

Cat quickly put the patch back in place, “Sorry,” she mutters.  “It’s somewhat surreal so I can’t resist.  And I have too moved in!” she waves her hands to mess of clothes and bedding.

Liz picks up a discarded tunic and tosses it aside once more, “Indeed it seems as though you have.”

Cat tosses a towel at her smacking her in the face, “I don’t care if you’re Queen Liz I can still pummel you.”

“Some might consider that a serious threat,” Liz tossed the towel aside. “Come on; let us get something to eat.”

Laughing they step into the hallway, Liz nods her head to acknowledge some passing servants’ bow as Cat locks her door. As they begin to walk farther into the depths of the main palace, “So I was asked by another lady during one of those things I’m forced to do about why you went with Queen Liz for your ruling name.” Cat asks. “I gotta agree with her somewhat it does sound off…like.. I’m not sure.”

“Not Queenly?” Liz smirked. “To be honest it was somewhat default since most involved with making me take the throne know me as Liz. It is still going to take me some time to embrace the name Cianien.”

“True, didn’t think of that, though you’ve told me a thousand times by now probably.”

“Well in your defense you have been a bit preoccupied.” They round the corner where more of the bustle was as a common corridor for this area of palace. Several builders scurry past them carrying boards, buckets for mortar and nails along with other tools into the other rooms. Servants in training carry mismatched furniture to fill the finished areas once more, the nicer things having been sold to give much needed assistance to a treasury directed by those who already had some time as domestic help.

“Your mum’s room done yet?” Cat asks peeking in an open door where the dust was still settling it seemed and workers still moved around.

“In a few weeks I believe. We both told them that it was among the last priority since she is quite content with Rue in the Manor and no need for it.”

They walk on in silence, Liz pauses once they reach where the private corridors join with the main palace to look out the window and to the courtyard that not too recently had mostly overgrown garden in it. Far below Kellin was working with men and women alike who had volunteered for military positions, William overseeing different group’s training with staffs and hand to hand combat. Their charges had come a long way from when they first began, eagerly embracing their training all along though. In a way it reminded her of the days she worked with those in Brookcavern and Rinette to stand against Durj the way the training had progressed having snuck down to observe the lessons on several occasions when she could get away from her more Queenly duties. Resting her fingertips on the window she looks out over the pools of water and toward the prism of color that shone over the rainbow. Several people were coming over the paths over the pools enjoying the milder weather within the cavern or just going to and from one section of the city to the other on their jobs. In no means would the construction be done again when winter’s winds blew at the fiercest, but it was coming along better than it had last winter. Still many homes needed repair and food and heat could still be issues. Liz was tempted to invite those who needed it into a floor or wing of the new palace to stay especially those who worked in and around the building and had families outside. That measure wasn’t needed though and she could imagine the fit from nobles if she went ahead and did it though she doubted few would openly challenge her decision. As they continued to watch the lessons she glanced back as a few servants walked past and smiled at her, eyes sparkling with life.

It was here that Durj had failed during his reign; he had wanted and wanted from the people with little offered in return. Turning back she watched the lessons break up for the evening some rushing into the barracks to clean up before starting on their own supper, Kellin and William joined them for this activity to strengthen the bond outside of combat. Sometimes in the late evening they would slip out as well with those off duty to drink away their worries at Terra’s new establishment in Ravenwood Proper not located too far from the palace. It was the favorite for most in the city, never an empty night. The amenities it used to offer were now done so in private, though it doubled as an inn so it was easy to cover such digressions. Terra lived in the building just as she had with the first Blood Moon despite Liz’s offers of a room at the palace for her she had declined. A title to rebuild she had accepted to a point, but never a thing like that.  She was content being the Queen’s unofficial eyes and ears among the general populace where they might say things they wouldn’t without aid to loosen the tongue. As she watched she saw the huddle form of Terra march up, curious for this time of day since shortly after supper Terra’s place was usually flooded with patrons she pulled herself away from the window. No use in making her wait for whatever it is, she thought.

Pulling herself away from the window she walked on Cat struggling to keep up. They rounded a few more corridors joining with the main areas of the palace, the ones shared by servants, nobles and dignitaries mainly from the Eire and Inarni at the moment.  In this hour only a few were out and about most having taken to supping in their rooms to get a few private moments since court hadn’t officially been set up and those rooms were still waiting to be freshened as another of Liz’s low priority rooms. They made their way to a room she had claimed for private suppers if she had more than Kellin joining her, it was the closest she had gotten to fully embracing her new title and role of being a courtier needing to use dinners to make arrangements or relations. Opening the door the women entered to find the circular table set with mismatched china and silver dinnerware, the settings were for five making Liz curious who else might be joining them. A few servants in training milled about the edges to tend to their needs with a senior member of staff, an old hand to such things overseeing them all bowing much too low or curtsying the same as they entered.  She nodded her head at them trying to put them at ease making her way toward the head of the table Cat taking a place on her left side only taking a seat once she did.

For several moments the servants were a flurry of movement, pouring wines and making sure water glasses were full. Cat’s eyebrow rose above her patch as she glanced over at Liz, “Umm… my Queen… you don’t think…”

Liz too her hint, “Brandon,” she said to the overseeing servant. “Our companions are not here yet; might we get the room for a few moments in private? I will alert you as soon as you are needed.” He looked confused but nodded and motioned for the equally confused newer servants to follow him out using the main door.

“Ahh peace,” Cat said once they were out, leaning back in her chair and kicking her feet up on the empty seat next to her.

“Indeed,” Liz agreed tempted to join her in the very un-Queenly position. “I feel bad however.”

“Why? It’s not like you were vicious when you did it.”

“Quite true, I simply needed a moment. My attendants are stifling enough at times, I do not know how many gowns they try to stuff me into and let alone get me prepared for the day.” She shook her head exasperated. “Face paint, numerous brushing of my hair and Gods help me if I get mussed in any way.”

“It starts all over again huh?”

“Even if it is simply a smudge of dirt and I do not dare go down to train! Imagine the fuss then!”

They chuckled until a knock at the door drew their attention, “Enter,” Liz said trying to school her face into the appropriate expression in case it was someone not so familiar.

“What are ye laughin’ at in here?” Terra swept in, throwing her cloak on a side chair as she pushed the door shut with a foot.

“Terra!” Cat cried jumping up to embrace her. “Quite bein’ a stranger!”

“Yer one te talk! I’m surprised Liz even got ye out of yer rooms for supper!” She returned the embrace heartily.  “It’s been what? Three weeks?”

“Not that bad!”

“Terra,” Liz greeted walking over.

“Ahh lass,” Terra released Cat to embrace her. “Or I suppose I should be all mannerly and curtsy?”

“Do not dare!” Liz insisted pulling back. “Come sit, it is not often you get up here.”  She walked over to fetch the decanter of wine from where the servants left it pour Terra a glass and setting it on the table.

“Your servants are gonna have a fit,” Cat told her. “Where it is has you written all over it.”

“I am a Queen not immobile.” Liz sat back in her seat while Terra simply drank up. “So what does bring you up here at this hour? This is your busy time.”

“I can’t just see my friends?”

“Not when you have that option every day,” Cat replied. “And not when it breaks your normal routine.”

“Well besides wantin’ te see ye before ye took off on yer tour I admit I’ve been hearing some curious things.” She took a deep drink.

“Like what?” Liz leaned forward, eyes gleaming with keen interest.

“Well like odd creatures popping up outside the city, things no one’s seen only te vanish. Odd whispers of Durj’s survivors near the borders, been plenty travelin’ lately hoping te come and get work while we rebuild here so news has been flowin’. They seem te be heading for te hills so te say, scattered from what I hear in te tavern.”

“This is old news though,” Cat pointed out. “Well somewhat.”

“The creatures are odd,” Liz said. “Any more description?”

“Nah, none sadly. Most it seems don’ believe it, but they still will come get plenty te drink once they see one.”

Another knock came at the door causing the conversation to pause once more, “It must be Kellin,” Liz told them. “Enter!”

The door opened to reveal Kai, who quickly closed it once more. Her appearance caught Liz by surprise though it had been only weeks since they had seen each other. Unlike Terra who favored low cut gowns and other articles of clothing Kai had been one of them in the cave before they reunited with Kellin to scramble into dry clothes though only females were present and yet here she was in one. Looking over the table she saw a similar look of shock on Cat’s face as well though Terra simply appeared to be knowing of what was going on. Well I think we now know the last item you wanted to talk to me about. “Kai,” Liz greeted warmly.

Kai smiled wide as she sauntered over holding herself with a confidence she had lacked on their journey together. Newly found somewhere I wonder… or is there something else at work here. Regardless she tightly embraced her friend pulling back to study her face.  Kai’s eyes seemed as dark as her black gown but alight with spirit that was lacking before. They were accented by a light sprinkling of face paint that highlighted her natural beauty while maintaining the darker air about her. “What is it?” she asked Liz curious.

“I feel as though a little sister has grown up,” Liz replied.  “You look good though.”

“Tanks,” Kai replied embracing Cat and Terra who had stood to greet her as well. Liz studied the exchanges, something was definitely off with their friend but at the same time it didn’t seem malicious in nature. In fact it was almost as though she had discovered a part of herself.

Kellin swept into the room followed by William, both men stopped at the sight of the women and Kai now animatedly chatting away to Cat.  Liz shook her head subtlety to hint not to ask then said loudly. “Kellin why do you not go and get Brandon and let him know they can return, he more than likely is not far. Also that we will need another setting for William.”

“Sure,” Kellin replied disappearing back out.

“Kicked them out again huh?” William asked taking an empty spot though it lacked eating utensils.

“Cat wanted privacy,” Liz smiled. “Having good luck with your recruits?”

“Yeah they’re great,” he beamed. “Got more arriving by the day it seems and while some lack talent on certain items they’re great on other others. Definitely can’t fault them on being eager though, they have that in droves.”

“Good to hear,” Liz said. “Hopefully that heart stays with them.”

“I tink it will,” Kai said, sitting down next to Cat. Tey got a future now.”

The door reopened allowing Kellin to enter the servants following behind. He sat at the opposite end of the table while the servants raced to get William a place. “You know,” he said as they worked. “All we need for this to be complete is Laeni, Ciehul and even Oktobriana though he was only with us for the end to get everyone back together.”

“True,” Terra agreed. “Where have those three gotten off te anyway?”

“Last I heard they were spending some time with their people before coming back into our realm again,” Liz said. “Had some important business to negotiate in Caya before they came back on a more permanent basis. They also wanted to get Ciehul checked by the healers there more. I imagine though that Oktobriana is working in Caya back as General of their forces mainly, available for helping us if needed of course.”

“He’s still having trouble then?” Cat asked.

“They think they might have some odd things there that can help.  I hoped they can, seems a bit unfair.”

“Such a stupid thing,” Kellin said. “He’ll get through.”

“That he will,” Terra agreed. “So how do things stand in te realms of te high and mighty?”

“Tense and complicated to put it mildly at the very least,” Liz sighed as plates were put in front of them. A type of fish graced each plate along with some rich looking green sauce and nicely done root vegetables and rice. Liz paused as they waited giving Brandon a clear sign that this next part of their discussion should be left to them. Once meal was served and glasses refilled if needed they bowed out and Liz felt it safe to continue. “Humans worry about the influence the other races now have, which is somewhat understandable on all sides considering. When this court is finally set up it will be a fragile balance for me to strike about whom is accepted as a noble house. As it is there are dozens that lay claim to the titles, it is going to take some time to wade through all of them. Some want certain conditions applied, old ways from Lower Quarter of that very screwed hierarchy. Others are attempting to get certain taxes passed, others borders closed or not…”

“Tell them the worst,” Kellin said after she trailed off.

“They have not shown up for a while now, but early on I had several that approached me to get Durj released at least made a focal feature of court. I of course denied these requests, but their number surprised me. Even now though every so often some letter has the same request, from villages all over Segennya, there is no ties to them to show that maybe there is a stronghold to be had lying in wait.”

“That’s somewhat comforting,” Cat said. “Only somewhat since why in the name of the Gods do they want someone released who drove this place into ruins?”

“I tink tat was ta odd part, Cat.”

“We’ll never know,” Kellin said. “We send out covert searchers every message we get and had them working double right after everything came crashing down around Durj. There’s never any sign.”

“These come from your own potential court though?” Terra asked.

“At one point yes, those who hoped to gain power when Durj took the crown but did not since he fell. As of late however the requests seem to come from more rural settings. Do not be too concerned though the last one of these requests was weeks ago.” Liz smiled widely at her friends. “Now eat, this is probably the last supper I get without some degree of manners and attempts to get favor and I would rather enjoy it.”

“You don’t have to go you know,” Kellin pointed out.

“I know I do not, but a leader needs to be among the people. From what I have read on my father’s reign he stayed much in touch with his subjects and I think we can all agree somewhat that was a clear mistake of the past in not doing it. I must say though I am curious to see how life is now in the places we visited on our journey.”

“Even Rinette with how miserable we were there?” Cat asked.

Liz considered, “Yes actually I am. I still stand under the thought that they were only doing that under Durj’s orders.”

“I know, but seems like if they had more courage they’d find some way te make it better,” Terra clearly still had some feelings on the issue.

Liz shrugged and resumed her meal.  For several moments they ate in silence as though digesting the conversation as well as the food. Utensils clanked against plates and gentle thuds against wood as glasses were set back down and the drinks slowly disappeared. Despite the somewhat heavy topics the feeling remained light as they ate simply enjoying proximity that didn’t happen too often these days. “So, what do ya look forward ta most Liz,” Kai asked at long last. “Goin’ anywhere new?”

“I am visiting mainly the same areas we went to in our trip, though there are a few newer villages that are rebuilding that are being granted visits as well this trip. Maybe in coming days a more elaborate visit will be planned. This time including some of the Eire cities that we did not get to see last time.”

“That lot will be happy about that,” Terra laughed. “Well some of them at least.”

“Yes a certain Lord comes to mind,” Liz agreed. “We should have introduced him to Durj really.  They might have gotten on swimmingly.” She pushed her plate toward the center of the table then rose to refill cups. “I think at a certain point the servants here will love and hate me for my lack of using their services.”

“I know they’re very confused,” Cat said. “I hear some when I pass them in the halls.”

“Ya mean ya actually leave yar rooms?” Kai teased.  “Tat’s amazin’.” Cat stuck her tongue out at her.  “Well tat’s not very ladylike.”

“Who claimed I was fully a noble lady?” Cat argued. “I might have the title but I definitely don’t have all the manners.”

Liz snorted. “That is an understatement my friend.”

“And you’re one to talk?”

Kellin laughed, “I’m inclined to agree with her there love. What’s that saying about this type of thing?” He pondered it for several moments before giving up. “Let us just say you are the least queenly person than I think anyone has pictured. I know you girls used to do this a lot; dream about what you might have done if you were in charge is this what you thought of?”

They nodded. “I suppose it’s true she’s not. I’d imagine bein’ a leader as less confinin’,” Kai said.  “Suppose I’ll find out soon enough myself here.”

“What are ya talking about?” Cat demanded.

“I’m rebuildin’ my village if I can. I’m more a creature of ta warmth anyway an’ my family has held it for years. It’ll be a shame if I didn’ try at least ta make it work.”

“Was everyone not killed though?”  Liz asked. “It is a large task for you alone to take up.”

“I won’ be alone by any means. Tere’s a few villages down tere tat got hit hard ta. Tere’s not enough of us left ta have our own villages again but the fishing is ta best off mine so we’re gonna see what we might do.” She paused swirling the deep red wine in her glass before downing it. “It might fail but we gotta see what happens.”

“As long as you are sure about it Kai. If it does fail you come straight back here though and we will see what we can do for you. Also talk to some of the suppliers helping with rebuilding in Briar’s Port on your way through, they might be able to give some supplies for your efforts.”

“Tanks for ta suggestion I bet we’ll need ta help.” She stretched and stood. “Tanks for lettin’ me join ya as well here but I’d best be off. I’m headin’ out early ta get down tere. Good luck on yar trip Liz.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t be a stranger now,” Cat said giving her a hug. “We’ll have to come visit once you get settled completely.”

“That’s right,” Terra agreed. “Anything ye need let us know.”

Kai walked over to where Liz waited and bowed. “Tanks for everyting, yar highness. Ya let me tag along where most wouldn’ back in Brookcavern. It means a lot.”

“It was nothing,” Liz beamed.  “We will see you again soon, maybe things will be settled when I do my next tour and I will drag Terra, Cat and Kellin along to visit. Maybe too Ciehul and Laeni will be back by then.”

“We’ll see.” She walked toward the door getting clacked on the arm by Kellin and William giving them a glance over her shoulder as she reached for the knob to the door. “I hope we can have tat.” Her head turned to the side slightly. “Shadows over ta land, but from where? I need to consult ta others.” She walked from the room leaving its occupants staring at the door long after it closed.

“That sound overly foreboding to anyone else?” Cat asked at long last.

“Very,” Kellin frowned. “And who’s she consulting?”

“Tell ye there was somethin’ up.” Terra said. “She’s way different.”

“I will agree to that, the clothing aside. Now the sudden desire to go back to her home village when I know there is nothing left there and many are calling the old sites cursed for not surviving. There might be a group of villagers pooling together down there but not in the fashion she is saying.”

“Why would she lie te us?”

“It is not a full lie, she is worried about our reaction no doubt.” Liz replied retaking her seat. “What is not being said is not so damaging to others besides how we might see her and she does not want to risk it right now.”

“She knows where we’re from right?  It can’t be that bad.” Kellin said.

“It probably is not, but you never know that part until it is out in the open.  As for her last statement, I will give her a message with one of those Eire spells in it for talking over long distances. This way even if she does not want to say how she can give the information she was talking about.”

“Smart thinking,” Terra approved.

“Still she won’t tell us,” Cat shook her head. “Thought we were past secrets. Well that and whatever she did see won’t take my other eye.” Her hand went to fiddle with the patch’s strap around her head.

“Don’ lift it!” Terra shouted. “We get the point.”

Liz stepped her hands resting her chin where her fingers met. “What is your take in this William?”

“Me? Well, I’d say she didn’ give too much to go one right now,” he blushed at being called on to give his opinion. “I’d still say its worth seeing what information network we have in place has had word or the Eire and them. I’d also say put more on guard detail when you go on your tour.”

“I was going to anyway given things,” Kellin said nodding his approval.

“And do that, though I doubt they will have much more to go on.  While there might be other sources of trouble I think we all know who is probably making this happen or at least have considered it.” Liz frowned.

“I think we all know who is doing it.” Cat pointed out. “I’ve been saying it all along.”

“We have no proof it was him Cat, and until you bring me concrete evidence or whoever shows their face we cannot do much to him.” Liz stood and looked over them. “Terra, send a message to Ciehul and Laeni please we can try to meet in Rinette if that is not too far for Ciehul to travel yet. They need to be aware though of what we might have going on.”

“Consider it done,” Terra said. “Should ye even go on this trip given all these whispers?”

“Yes I am still going.” Liz replied firmly. “I will not let them rule how we live now given all we have are whispers to go off of for any indication that things might be afoot.”

“While you’re gone I’ll be pouring over the books I have of his,” Cat said. “There’s gotta be something he blabbed about in there to whoever those letters are addressed to.” She pushed away from the table and stood up. “I’ll go start on it now.”

“No, stay!” Liz cried. “Tomorrow is early enough for that. Now let us just put this out of our mind and just enjoy since we set out tomorrow so we can get back before the cold fully sets in.”

 

Later that night in Liz’s temporary chambers she was sharing with Kellin she sighed as she flopped back on the bed wearing only her nightgown. Her hair fanned out over the pillow as she turned toward the flames. Next to her she felt the bed move as Kellin joined her slipping under the covers before scooting over to lie next to her.

“Get under the covers Liz. You have to be up early to leave; we have to be up early.”

The fire flickered across her skin as he hooked his arms around her body and his hot breath hit the cook of her neck. Liz kept staring at the flames showing no sign of acknowledging his presence this close to her. He gently rubbed on her shoulders working his way down her arm to her fingertips causing her to sigh again but this time with pleasure more than frustration. “Well that might just have to wait until we get back.”

“What?”

She shifted to join him at last, swinging her legs under and tucking her feet in between his legs to warm them causing him to jump. “I am going to humor Cat in her thoughts regarding Durj. Well, more than humor I suppose. After my visit with my mother is complete I need you to return to Ravenwood with the story that I am simply taking longer on my visit while William and some stay with my mother.”

He shifted next to her rising up slightly. “Why?”

“I have a visit to arrange with Cat to accompany me, I would take Terra as well but her absence would be too noticeable now with one of the few working businesses up and running in Ravenwood now. You have to return to keep up appearances so that whoever is behind these shadows will not know our moves quite yet. After that you will return to my mother’s estates and we will reunite to keep up the story.”

“Why all the misdirection? You’re avoiding saying who you’re visiting Liz and shouldn’t your Captain and well lover join you?”

Liz sighed, “Do not go all protective on me. I am visiting Durj in his cell if you must know and do not give me that look.”

“Liz seriously? What’s to be gained by that?”

“It will be safe if you are worried about that. As for what is to be gained by this secret side trip it is quite easy. He will have been in Dalyrus for a while at that point with only the wind and water to keep him company. He might have a bit more of a slippery tongue now and much easier to deal with. I am taking Cat so that we will move quite easily and hopefully it will put her more at ease about things. Poor thing is barely eating or sleeping I know. Right now where he is though this will more than likely go unnoticed by his allies right now and so I cannot let the opportunity go away.”

Kellin frowned pulling her close. “Do you have to take Cat though?”

“If I have you do this it will be best, also it is not like I am going unarmed. Two people disappearing unnoticed will be much easier than all of us.” She reached over and patted his arm. “I know you’re not happy about it, but I need to find these answers and you are the only one I trust right now to keep the plan a secret since I did not want to spring it on you suddenly when we arrived in Briar’s Port.”

“Thanks for that,” he grumbled. “Let me just make it clear I don’t like it.”

“Noted,” Liz laughed and leaned up to peck him on the lips. “Now go to sleep my protector, you were right we do need to sleep.”

“We don’t have to go to sleep right now.” His eyebrows wiggle suggestively.

Liz smacks him playfully across his chest, “Typical a one track mind.” She rolled over and rose slightly to blow out the candle on her side of the bed. “Nice try but not tonight.”

Kellin sighs as the room plunges into darkness causing quiet laughter for a few moments which faded into the sound of their gentle breathing.

Holiday Fun

What is this- A writing post? Been a super long time since we had one of these. Anyway…

Segennya has turned over the course of developing Vengeance of Segennya from a small country that’s fairly vacant of any real depth to a world that rivals my husband’s worlds for the Dungeons and Dragon campaigns we run, and trust me the current campaign he’s working on has had about three months of just solid world building going on let alone actual open world adventure- I’ve been a bouncing point for ideas in that regard. But I digress. When Vengeance ended Kakri built upon this world a bit more and so Darkness has to as well. I didn’t want to expand it though in the same way every story but just adding either a new area that we explore via the characters. Sure that’s fun and all, and there’s a ton of twists you can get into with it but still…

So was born the idea of populating the world with holidays and other celebrations which if you go this route in books and especially any novel or story that deals with a world that is far from our own on how far different or not you want to go with it. I started plotting/ writing Darkness around Christmas and won’t deny that I have a love of that holiday so that was my starting point. From there it was a matter of how different to make the holiday and how to add a certain Segennyian twist to it. From here I tossed out modern things I could think of completely, kept it simple- candles, rather plain and simple decorations. (I really don’t dare say more because I imagine those who read my books want to see it there rather than here.)

Now like I said there should be something that somewhat separates it from the known, but at the same time you want a reference. Readers of any story are already suspending disbelief for some of the magical feats or general different physics that might at work to make things work for your story so you don’t want something drastically different. I think in the end I’ll end up with something in the middle, some things that do scream that they are of my world but more typical things like what I said the simple decorations and candles, getting everyone together… the list of possibilities goes on. You don’t have to go completely wild though, but make it fun,