Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Exclusive Bewitching Excerpt:
“I don’t mean to sound pushy,” Beth started, “but earlier you said that I’m a Dreamer. Tell me more about what that is.”
Zack turned away from Frank, walked over to Beth, and took a seat back at the table next to her. “I’m going to give you the short version,” said Zack, “only because I need to get to the real reason for our visit.”
“Of course,” said Beth.
“So straight to the point, you are a Dreamer, as I said before,” Zack said. “That makes you part witch and part psychic but with an added benefit of being more powerful than both. The main difference between you and normal witches is that you can see into the future without using magic because your psychic side empowers you to do so naturally. And you don’t even need to train this skill. Where other witches fail, you succeed because they don’t have the natural psychic ability you do. They have to use magic to see into the future.”
Beth gawked in amazement at Zack’s words. “So how far into the future can I see?” asked Beth.
Zack shrugged. “To be honest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the answers you seek can only be found in the grimoire. The grimoire is the most powerful spell book among witches and warlocks. Every spell from growing flowers in your garden to conjuring up lightning is recorded in that book. Every name of every witch and warlock, whether good or bad, down to every war, including the Great War of 1782 is recorded in that book. You can even find spells on how to create magical objects like amulets and talismans.”
“And even the mystical arts of performing magical charms and divination, on summoning or invoking supernatural entities, is also a part of that book,” Zoë chimed.
“Do you know how many supernatural beings would love to get their hands on that book?” Zack added.
“Where is the book now?” asked Beth.
“Long gone,” Zack said. “It was given to a very powerful witch like yourself to keep safe. She also was a dreamer, the first of your kind, and the only one until now. You are the second, my sister, in our 250 years of traveling on this earth.”
“Only the second?” said Frank.
“Yes, only the second, and we’ve been everywhere in this world, so that should tell you something. Your wife’s kind is rare.”
“Well, the question here for you to answer now is, who and where is the first?” asked Beth.
“Her name was Tiara. And she died along time ago,” replied Zack somberly.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Did you know her? I mean were you close with her?” asked Beth.
“Yes…very. She was the one who taught Zoë and me how to use our powers,” said Zack. His eyes beat over to Zoë. “She protected us during and after the Great War. If it wasn’t for her, we would’ve been dead long ago.”
“God, I miss her,” said Zoë, finally speaking up.
“Well, now that you know everything there is to know, keep this in mind. Power is innocent. The one who wields it…” said Zack with a brief pause. He pointed directly at Beth. “Well, that is what taints it. He or she must decide to use it for good or evil. That choice makes a difference.”
“Just remember who you are,” said Zoë, cutting in.
“I will,” said Beth.
“Good, now let’s get to the real reason why we’re here,” said Zack. “After the great battle back in 1782, Jackals and witches all went their separate ways as the town was no longer viable. The fallout of the fight was tremendous; houses were burned to the ground. Bodies were everywhere, and the land was saturated in blood and rotten flesh. The stench was unbearable. It was all a complete mess. So some witches migrated to the east while others went north. Zoë, Tiara, and I headed west. After settling down for a few months, we split up again and went our separate ways. Tiara told us she was going on a journey to find someone very important and that she would be back in approximately one year.”
“If you don’t mind me asking,” said Beth, “why didn’t you two go with her?”
“We wanted to, but she forbade it. She insisted that we remain behind and give aid to any stragglers that needed assistance,” said Zoë.
“Yes, she did,” said Zack as he nodded in agreement. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t live with the regret of my decision that day.”
“So what happened to Tiara?” asked Frank.
“We never saw her again,” said Zack, his voice raspy and soft. “But anyway, after 30 years away from Black Oak, we had grown very powerful, teaching ourselves the ways of mysticism and sorcery. And then one day in the fall of 1812, Zoë and I felt something: a surge of power we’d not yet experienced before. Not since the Great War. It was all in the air, calling out to us. So we packed our things and followed the surge to its source until it led us back here to our original home of Black Oak.” Zack took a moment to smile as Zoë placed a gentle hand over his. “I could see the town in the distance and, as Zoë and I approached, we started preparing ourselves for a fight because we didn’t know who or what was living there. But the closer we got, our minds began to calm. The visions before us were heartwarming. People were everywhere. Families and friends were bustling about. The town was good as new. It was like nothing ever happened and the magic we felt there was good and pure and untouched by evil.”
“You could sense it,” said Zoë.
“And now it’s happening again, but only this time, the magic feels different. It’s evil for sure, I know it,” said Zack.
“How can you tell?” asked Beth.
“Answer one question for me,” said Zack, staring intently at Beth.
“Okay,” she replied.
“What did you sense from my sister and me when you first opened your door?” asked Zack.
“Good. I felt good in both of you,” said Beth. “Nothing bad…not even a little bit.”
“And I too felt the same thing when I saw you. And I’m not talking only about tonight,” said Zack. “But what I feel in this town now is wicked. Mark my words. Something is coming. What’s more, is that something is already here. And that should be impossible. Do you know why?” asked Zack as he stared at both Frank and Beth for an answer.
They were both speechless, but Beth took a stab at it anyway. “There’s some special magic protecting us?”
“Yes. A force field—placed over this town hundreds of years ago by the witches, that was supposed to stop dangerous beasts or any other supernatural creatures from passing through,” said Zoë.
“But I’m afraid the force field failed against whatever forced its way in. Now Zoë and I need to find out who or what it is before someone gets hurt or maybe worse…killed.”
“Killed?” Beth inquired.
“Yes. On the way over here, we came across a sea of dead bodies in the woods. Most likely campers who were mauled to death, and it looked like the work of Riffs,” said Zoë nonchalantly.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/9e5djB0mwVE
A feeling of dark foreboding, like storm clouds forming on the horizon before a violent storm, washed over Bruce as he maneuvered the SUV into the parking lot behind The Krystal Unicorn.
Tristian was already there and it wasn’t to give his report. Bruce could feel the fury in Tristian’s magic signature hanging in the air. A silver tipped arrow penetrated the windshield, split the arm securing the rearview mirror, and stuck in the headrest a quarter inch from Bruce’s neck. Blue liquid oozed from the tip and a stream of red mist escaped from the other end of the arrow.
“Hold your breath and don’t open the door or windows. The influx of fresh air will spread the poison.” He hissed though his teeth not daring to take a breath.
Air pressure inside the vehicle changed, Angie’s head felt like it was going to explode. “Bruce.” She whispered into his mind, a benefit of being mated.
“I know, just a few seconds more, I’ve got it handled.” His deep smooth voice floated reassuringly in her mind, as he reached over caressing her shoulder.
The pressure eased and the red mist sucked in on itself disappearing along with the oozing liquid. He pulled the arrow from the headrest, fingering the hole in the upholstery.
Through gritted teeth, Bruce growled. “His first mistake was that he missed me. His second deadly mistake was he risked your life. That is unforgivable.” Those two things also told Bruce that Tristian wasn’t thinking clearly, fury was coloring his judgment. That gave Bruce an edge, though the attack caught him off guard. He hadn’t expected Tristian’s attack to put his sister at risk.
The console between them lowered to seat level. He hoped to add fuel to the fury burning inside Tristian. Bruce put his arm around Angie’s waist and pulled her against him, his lips pressed against hers then gently covered her mouth as his tongue traced the soft fullness of her lips. He drew back, touched his lips to hers again trailing them down to the pulsing hollow of her neck and whispered, “You’re going into the shop now, Willow is waiting just on the other side of the door. Please stay there, you’ll be able to remain in my mind just don’t interfere. I need your presence there as a calming one. Willow can help you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know, there wasn’t time to explain how everything works and I’m not exactly sure myself. Only that I can feel you in my mind and I assume you can feel me in yours.”
“Yes, it’s a weird sensation,” Angie said a tremor in her voice.
“We’ll learn together to use it to our benefit, now is as good a time as any to practice.”
She snorted, “Sure, our lives are on the line. No big deal.” She threw up her hands.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
“I was with Xavier,” Thomas replied. With head bowed, he stared at his stew, sensing he would not be allowed to eat.
“Who?” His mother’s voice. Her angry, high-pitched voice.
Thomas looked up at his father to see a pipe halfway to a gaping mouth. “Xavier, you know, he lives in the tower. He wants to teach me to read and write. He wants me to be his apprentice.”
His mother sat down and stared at him.
“He’s got lots of books, scores of them. He showed me a book with lots of animals in it.”
His da sat back in his chair, silent. His mum folded her hands in her lap, also silent.
“Think of it,” Thomas continued excitedly. “Think of the things I could do if I could read. I could go and work for the prince in Targon, I could see the whole kingdom.”
“Go to bed, Thomas,” Da said.
The boy gazed down at his untouched food. It smelled good and looked even better, but his father had spoken. Thomas got up and climbed the ladder to his loft. Deep into the night, even after his parents stopped their whispered arguing, he lay in bed thinking of the map Xavier had shown him of the kingdom. He would find a way. He would be…what word had Xavier used? Necromancer. He would be a necromancer and he would see the whole kingdom.
* * * *
In the morning, Thomas awoke to the smell of porridge. Having had no dinner the night before, he hurried down the ladder. There he found his da already eating. His mum ladled his share into a bowl and then got some for herself.
“We’ve decided you may learn to read and write. None of that dark stuff, though. You hear? No digging up of graves,” his da said. “We want more for your life, Thomas. Now then, what does this friend of yours want in return? We can’t afford to pay anything. I suppose he mentioned a price.”
Thomas looked at his mum as she sat down. She folded her hands in her lap and remained quiet.
“He said it would cost nothing. He just wants someone to teach. Xavier said he’s getting old and just wants someone to pass on some of ’is…” Thomas paused trying to remember the word. “…knowledge.”
Da wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Then we’ll give it a try. Only til ’arvest, though. You’ll be needed in the fields then. Anything after that and we’ll see.”
A month and a half, Thomas thought excitedly. I have a month and a half!
“No good will come of this,” his mum remarked. “Mark my words, that man never did any good for anyone.”
Thomas finished his breakfast in a gulp and got up to run from the house. He stopped just outside the door to pick up his favorite stick and heard his da say, “I want better for him, Sonya. This life is no life for my son. He’s smarter than this.”
* * * *
A month passed and Thomas studied. He studied geography; the world turned out to be a lot bigger than he imagined. He learned arithmetic, how to count to a thousand. Then moved on to reading and writing, eight to nine hours a day he went through the books and scrolls. On the second and third floors of the tower stood skeletons of various animals, there he learned science, anatomy, and biology.
The fourth floor, however, Xavier said he needed to learn a good deal more before being ready for that.
“The villagers are shunning me,” he said to Xavier one day after learning the word. “They whisper about me whenever I pass. Even my friends. Yesterday I waved to them and started walking, to tell them what I was learning, and they turned their backs and ran away.”
Xavier looked up from the book he held. “People, for the most part, are very small-minded. They shun what they do not understand or things that are different.”
“Was that the way it was with you when you first started studying to be a necromancer?”
“People always thought me to be a little different. Look, Thomas, you will see more, you will do more, than they can imagine in their empty heads. You will learn to create life from death.”
Thomas thought about these words for some time. He wanted to do more than just plant and harvest. He wanted to travel this world, especially the sea to the west, to see more than just this tiny village too small for a name. He decided he liked being different. He was already learning more than they ever would. Did not that make him better?
Monday, November 16, 2020
It was the wolves that woke her.
At some indeterminate point between sleep and waking she became conscious of a sound. It insinuated itself subtly and delicately first into her ears, and then her mind, becoming part of her dreams: a sound she had never heard before, composed of multiple high-pitched cries. She visualized these in her head as intertwining silver threads, weaving in and out of the darkness as if it were a backing of black velvet: each strand clear and shimmering and pure. They reminded her of birdsong or whale-music. But birds and whales are solitary singers: this was a whole chorus of ethereal voices raised, not in perfect harmony, but in a kind of counterpoint. One voice would begin, soft and low, rising to a thin quaver; then the rest would join in. Trying drowsily to analyze what she was hearing, Chantal moved at last from fragmented semi-consciousness into full waking awareness.
Wolves – it’s a wolf pack!
She had never heard wolves howl in the wild, only in movies where the sound effect used was a single long wail like a lonely dog’s. Never had she imagined anything like this. The sound was beautiful, but also unearthly. She had heard of things that could make one’s hair stand on end; as she listened, she swore she could actually feel the fine hairs on her arms and the nape of her neck pricking up. It must be her imagination though, for the odd sensation extended even to where she had no hair, on her cheeks and the backs of her hands and along her spine. She alternately shivered as though cold, and then flushed as if with a fever. Opening her eyes, she saw the moon at the window: full, round, tinged with gold; a “hunter’s moon”.
Springing out of bed, she went to the window and opened it, letting in the chill night air. She breathed it in, in deep hungry gulps. But she still felt sweaty and flushed. She tore off her pants and tee shirt and tossed them aside. Now the night breeze blew upon her entire body, and her hot prickling skin responded to its icy caress as if to a physical touch. A brief giddiness made her reel and clutch at the windowsill for support. Chantal looked down at her hands resting on the sill.
But they were no longer hands.
They had become two grey-brown furred limbs ended in broad, clawed pads. It was the fur that made her feel so hot, she realized. Her tongue lolled, panting, from her mouth, its soft length spilling over teeth and jaws that now had a different shape…
With understanding came not fear, but relief and joy. She was not feverish after all, nor was she in any kind of danger. This was obviously just a dream. She would wake from it soon, as she did from every dream, and then everything would be all right. But now the wolf-voices called again, and the dream-body she wore yearned for the freedom of the outdoors, for the cool scent-laden air and the exhilaration of running through the forest. She glimpsed indistinct, shadowy shapes flitting through the blackness under the trees, and eyes like glimmering stars turned towards her in invitation.
In one light easy motion, Chantal sprang out of the window and into the night.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.
Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.
The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.
“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.
But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.
“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.
Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?
I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.
Either way, there’s nothing he can do.
“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”
His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.
“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.
Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.
Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.
My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.
“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”
I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.
“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.
Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.
Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.
From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…
My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.
Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”
Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?
Elexis Bell is a quiet nerd with too many hobbies, including everything from gaming to shower-singing and even archery, weather permitting. She specializes in sarcasm and writing stories that make people feel. She's made a home for herself with her husband, their dog, and a small army of cats.
She writes dark, gritty stories, sprinkling gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, thrillers, post-apocalyptic romance, and science fiction.
For further information, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, or check out her blog on her website.