story excerpt

Omen teaser III – The Necrolatry

(Necrolatry: worship of the dead, Late Greek nekrolatreia, from Greek nekr-necr- + -latreia -latry; or the case of Guardians of the Path: the church devoted to Death and His work.)

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, is to be released on 23 November 2016.

Here’s the third excerpt from the third book of the series (Tesla would be happy).

Dividing a story into chapters can be a tricky part of writing. Is the chapter just part of a scene, a teaser so to speak? Does a full sequence with a beginning, a middle, and an end take place?

A guide-line I like to use for ending a chapter is don’t leave off at a stopping point. When the character falls asleep, or sits down to wait, or ends a conversation where they learn something they need to is not a good place to end, because it invites the reader to put down the book. They have some measure of satisfaction, and you want to leave them wanting more (i.e., a “page turner”) with a cliff-hanger. Some ways to do this could be having the protagonist round a corner and come face to face with something, have someone find something and then it does something unexpected, or what happens at the end of this excerpt, which is incidentally the end of a chapter of Omens:

Strong hands grabbed Ria’s arms and hauled her to her feet. A moment later the four of them were running across the courtyard and through the black doors that opened from within, spreading like arms to welcome them with an emotionless embrace. A thick carpet underfoot swallowed their footsteps, leaving them in silence as they hurried from the door.
Cold air raised the hair on Ria’s skin when the door swung shut with a click behind them. Inside, the air was crystal clear and made her eyes sting. Despite the lack of visible lighting, Ria could see with perfect clarity. A smell slithered into Ria with every breath, the smell of emptiness and silence which filled her head with space and an odd ringing.
Windows of black glass towered over them on either side, folding into each other, the facets of a liquid diamond. High above them Ria assumed there must be a ceiling of some sort though it was lost in the darkness. A Mark – a circle, one half black, the other half white – was seared onto every visible surface, carved into the end of the wooden pews, welded in the filigree over the windows.
“What’s that?” Ria asked.
“That is Death’s Mark,” Juff said, averting her eyes from the symbol on the wall.
Ria stared at it. The Guardian Luca Lorisson had explained to her briefly about the Prophecy of Aethsiths and Her Mark. This Mark was not a true Mark, she decided after a moment of thoughtful examination. A true Mark was written by its owner with the intent to write it, and that could be felt as easily as the Mark could be seen; Ria felt nothing from the Mark, no tingle of magyc, no undercurrent of golden music. It was a lie.
“Why do they put it everywhere?” she wondered aloud, her eyes sliding from the drapes framing the windows to the low benches cloaked in the shadows that clung to the walls, to the black columns at the side of the massive room.
“I don’t know,” Juff said, and gave her a frown. “Don’t speak so loudly.”
The door behind them opened, sending light chasing after the shadows. The nymphs froze, incandescent eyes wide.
“Here!” Juff said and gave them a shove towards a long black table draped with folds of shimmery cloth that appeared before them as though it had just been set down by a giant hand. A wreath of metal barbs as big as a swimming pool fashioned into Death’s Mark hung on the wall behind it.
They scurried behind the table. Ria peeked around and saw the blood-red uniforms outlined in sunlight. The Streetwardens hesitated outside, shifting and looking back and forth. Two black-robed figures appeared from within the Necrolatry, gliding towards the Streetwardens, who backed away. When the doors closed the figures disappeared into the darkness as if they had not even been there.
Ria’s breath caught in her throat when they reappeared in front of their hiding spot. Shaved heads and skin so pale it glowed made the figures seem insubstantial, like projections of light. Juff looked at Ria with wide eyes and the nymphs huddled together for support. Ria scooted over and peered around the folds of cloth.
The black figures conferred softly with their backs to Ria, gesturing at the door and the table. Ria ducked back as the nearest figure turned to look at the table. Moments of tense silence marched by to the erratic beating of Ria’s heart. Her senses would have her believe that the figures had gone away, that there was no one there, but Ria knew better.
A coldness pressed on her, squeezing tighter and tighter as she imagined the black robed figures stepping closer on silent feet. Ria turned her head very slightly to the left, saw Juff wide-eyed with fear, the two nymphs clutching each other and seeming to shrink in size as Ria watched.
None of them could do anything, they were trapped behind the altar. They would be discovered and the stark fear in Juff’s eyes was not giving any comforting ideas as to their fate. Ria had to do something before they were all discovered.
She could think of only one thing to do.

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Doesn’t that make you want to find out what she does? 😉

Look for Omens and other great books published by Witching Hour Publishing coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

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Omens teaser II – Destiny

The Guardians of the Path Omens, published by Witching Hour Publishing, is to be released on 23 November 2016.

When you write a story, any story, whether it’s a short story, a novelette, or a ten-part series, ask yourself “Why would some one read this story?”

And why would they?

If you’re writing non-fiction, what the reader gets out of it is easy to see. They learn something (hopefully): the tactics used to win such-and-such battle in such-and-such a war, how to bake cookies that are chewy on the inside yet crisp on the outside, the technique for juggling flaming swords, etc.

If you’re writing a work of fiction or fantasy, the reader also wants to get something out of it. They are not going to invest the time in reading if they don’t feel there’s a prize at the end. You have to pull them through the story, from the past, through the present, to the future, with the promise of this prize, this satisfaction, this resolution.

This is the second excerpt from Omens. Here we have something of the past happening in the present, and hinting at the future, embodied in the form of destiny.

Three things lay before the Desert Man, innocent at first glance, but something much more on closer inspection. They drew his eyes and fixed his attention with a subtle yet unmistakable power. One was a pen of yellowed bone, point sharp enough to break skin and stained a rusty brown. Devoid of embellishment to the point of plainness, the bone yet had personality. A tiny sliver of white gem graced the pen just below the nib.
The second was a handle-less cup of a hard wood Dymitri had never seen before. It too was plain, but the light danced off the wood in strange ways, tricking the eyes into seeing shapes that wasn’t really there. Or were they? It was ice cold to the touch. Set into the wood was a dark blue gem.
The third was a beautiful feather of dark green, blue and purple. It was warm as the cup was cold, and soft as silk.
“That is an Emerald Phoenix feather. They are quite common, though often mistaken for peacocks,” Teled said. “It is used in healing potions.”
The fact that he did not offer an explanation for the other two did not escape Dymitri. He knew Teled was waiting for him to ask what they were. He also knew if he did that, it would change his entire life in a way that would be difficult to qualify with words. Destiny whispered to him, asking him to dance though he could not hear the music.

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Look for Omens and other great books from Witching Hour Publishing coming soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone Happy Valentines Day!

Whether you consider it an elaborate marketing ploy to make people spend money on expensive presents, candy, and jewelry, or a day to celebrate an undying love or budding romance, or the celebration of St. Valentinus’ efforts to unite couples in love despite persecution by the Romans, or even the modern version of Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus (the Roman god of agriculture) celebrated at the ides of February – February 15 – with the sacrificing of a goat for fertility and a dog for purity, I hope you have a wonderful day.

I will be contributing to the celebrations in a very literary fashion, with an excerpt from my submission to the upcoming annual Ink Slingers Guild anthology. The story is called “Love Potions Sold Separately”, and I thought it was fitting for this day. Enjoy!

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Maggie Baker dusted the flour from her hands, and pulled the next tray of raspberry filled cupcakes out of the oven. Spooning vanilla glaze over them before they were cool so it would soak into the cupcakes, she smiled at the burly man with the ginger beard waiting patiently for her to finish.

“Sorry, I’ll be right with you, Mr. Miller,” she said.

“Not a problem, Miss Maggie,” the man said. “It’s a week until First Days, and you’re the best baker in a hundred leagues. Everyone’s looking forward to the Festival Feast.”

Maggie laughed, set the cupcakes on the bench, and came over. He had brought a dozen bags of flour. She paid him, and he tipped his hat as he walked out. Mr. Miller passed Old Tom, who came all the way from the city of White Wall to buy her baked goods. More from Droll, Mundy and even as far away as Troppers had been in and out for the past week, and they wouldn’t stop coming until the Festival was over.

The Festival itself culminated in a dance on the first day of spring. The whole town was in a fervor of delight. Maggie would prefer to stay curled up in her favorite comfy chair with a good book, and a hot cup of tea. However, everyone expected cakes, cookies, and sweets for First Days. However, she always saw to her own first, and she grabbed the basket near the door and she hurried down the street.

It was springtime. The weather was fair, the skies blue, the air fresh. The pink and white ribbons tied in the trees danced in a stiff breeze, waving merrily to all who passed. Down the streets, baskets of bright flowers adorned doorways, windows and lampposts. Banners sewn with hearts or couples dancing hung on walls.

It was festive, brimming with positive energy, good hopes and love. Maggie returned people’s cheery greetings with a polite smile and a nod, and breathed a sigh of relief when she let herself into the cool florist’s shop. A bell greeted her.

“Maggie, is that you?” a voice called from somewhere in the green.

“Yes!” she called back as she made her way through the rainbow of daisies, carnations, roses, sunflowers, bluebells, daffodils, petunias and the rare leopard lilies that appeared only for a few brief weeks at the start of spring.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!” William, the florist’s eldest son rounded the corner, bouquets under each arm. “Do you have them?”

“Why else would I be here?” Maggie asked, holding out the basket of vanilla cookies with a painstaking white and pink floral icing tracery around the edges.

“Those are beautiful,” William said, examining one then taking a large bite. “And delicious.”

“Don’t eat them all, or you won’t have any left for your customers,” Maggie scolded.

“Who?” William asked as he took another cookie, eyes wide and innocent.

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Fine, eat them all if you want, but those took me hours last night to make, and I don’t have time to make you more.”

“Right, the Festival Feast,” William said. “Are you going?”

“The whole town is going,” Maggie said noncommittally, caressing the velveteen petals. “Oh, and I need to pick up the bouquet I ordered for the bakery. The First Days Table looks so bare without it.”

“Of course.”

He left and came back a moment later with a bouquet of roses and carnations, layers of purple, white, pink and little yellow chrysanthemums that couldn’t help but cheer someone up.

“It’s lovely,” Maggie said.

“Oh, and I almost forgot. You haven’t gotten a corsage yet,” William said. “I saved one for you.”

He held out a delicate ring of pink and white flowers tied together with silver ribbon. Two tiny silver bells were twined into the intricate bow.

“Thank you Will,” she said, her eyebrows rising in surprise. “That was very thoughtful. How much do I owe you?”

“It’s no bother,” William said with a shrug, and smiled. “Consider it a florist’s dozen.”

Maggie laughed. “Alright.”

“So you’re busy then?” William said, as he took a cookie, wrapped in sheer white paper, and tied it around a huge collection of flowers with red ribbon. “What can we look forward to at the Feast this year?”

“Um, I thought about apple and pear tartlets, chocolate eclairs, cheese and honey bread, strawberry crepes, spice rolls with caramel pecans…” Maggie continued to list the desert menu of the First Days Festival Feast as he continued putting the cookies in the bouquet, ending by arranging the flowers just so, putting an orange monstrosity with black speckles on the outer petals in the middle, and adjusted the ring of tiny white baby’s breath around it.

“That sounds amazing, I’ll save room to try it all. Now, what do you think?” he asked, taking a step back so he was standing next to her to survey his handiwork.

“It’s beautiful,” Maggie lied.

“It’s atrocious,” William said, pulling a face at the overdone arrangement. “But that’s Dame Manning for you. For someone so self-important, her taste leaves a bit to be desired.”

“Oh, that reminds me!” Maggie said, a slight panic as she realized she was cutting it very close. “I’m supposed to bring her a cake for her First Days’ party tomorrow!”

“Okay,” he said. “I…”

“Bye Will!” she called as she ran out of the florist. “I hope she likes the bouquet!”

***

You can look for the whole story in November 2016 in the ISG’s fifth annual anthology (yet to be named).

Until then…

val

❤ ❤ ❤ DragonBeck