On the Fifth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Welcome back to the twelve days of Christmas, fantasy style. So far, we’ve had a god with a secret, two changeling cats, three fearless hunters, and four lightning birds. If you’re just joining the story, a small estate within the mortal realm has collapsed. All twelve days relate to the rescue effort.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Five gold rings.

Maddison drew in a deep breath and prepared herself for trouble. It came in the form of two tall, arrogantly attractive men – the human halves of two lightning birds.

In their feathered form, they were like beautiful, long billed peacocks, shimmering with red and blue. They still reflected those colours, only it wasn’t feathers now, but silky locks that flowed to the shoulder.

Rolling her eyes, she whistled to one of the nearby soldiers on duty. His eyes were rolling too, but for an entirely different reason. The young human soldier was practically salivating.

Maddison gave up waiting for him to come to attention and walked to the table topped with clothes. They weren’t only for the changelings, but right now she needed to get Landon and Lochlan covered up.

“Thanks for the assist,” she said to the twins, throwing them each a pair of pants. “We’ve got it from here.” The last thing she needed was a camp divided. The gods weren’t the only ones prone to games.

Landon donned the pants quickly, his multi-hued hair glinting as he moved. “Mad, you wound us. Where is the love?”

She could have stopped him at any time, but Maddison allowed him to wrap his arms around her and brush his cheek against hers. The twins had saved her hide once, but more than that, she understood their need for acceptance. They didn’t allow her to throw up barriers, and she didn’t allow them to hide behind theirs.

Lochlan’s arms squeezed a little tighter than his brother, and she sensed his need, so she gave him the extra time. Lightning birds could be as private as the elves, and rarely allowed in outsiders. But, like changelings, they needed touch.

“We want to help,” Lochlan said, stepping back. “And we can’t be sure the Ancher twins have had their quota of fun.”

Maddison was about to protest when she felt it, the low vibration under her feet, as though the earth was fighting against the surge of power still being channelled by the elves.

She glanced over to the only structure still standing, a four-storey block of converted flats. It was going to fall, Maddison sensed it more than saw the signs.

If it fell, it would destroy the progress they’d made on the neighbouring properties. Even now she could see the gap they had meticulously uncovered.

So far, eight people had died in the collapse, and they had saved forty-seven. The medical tents were overflowing with injured, all awaiting for safe transport to a medical facility.

That left three. Those people had fought the hardest, and now they were about to be crushed because they had run out of time.

Everything inside Maddison protested. Between them, the rescue party had so much power they shouldn’t have to lose a single person.

Yet, like pawns in a sick game, they were prevented from overstepping the rules.

Screw that. Maddison began to pull rings from her hair as she jogged towards the building. The harmless looking accessories that bound her hair were actually a conduit to her power, and a secret weapon.

She’d only had them a few months, and hadn’t experimented nearly enough, but she didn’t have time to worry about that now.

Tossing them high into the air as she moved, Maddison unleashed her magic. The rings began to expand, spinning furiously as they continued their ascent.

When they were wide enough, she let them drop. Each fell around the building, hovering above the ground as she provided a link deep in the earth.

“Holy hell, that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Landon said from beside her. The twins were serious about helping, and she was suddenly grateful they stuck around.

“What we need is a little heat, boys.” She kept her eyes on the building as she spoke. “You see the top ring. I need you to hit it with everything you’ve got.”

They didn’t say a word. One minute they were beside her, the next they were flying up in a blaze of fiery blue. Lightning crackled around them, and though it was taking all of Maddison’s concentration to hold the rings in place, she watched the brothers light up the sky.

In a focused blast, they aimed their power into the highest ring. The energy exploded, creating a polarity effect, which travelled through each of the five rings, and held the building in check.

Maddison was aware of the heightened activity around her, and knew the others had moved in to double their efforts. She ignored them, concentrating on regulating the force field she’d created with the twins’ help.

If it took every drop of her energy, she didn’t care. They would rescue the three remaining survivors, because nobody else was going to die on her watch.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Welcome back to the twelve days of Christmas, fantasy style. So far, we’ve had a god with a secret, two changeling cats, and a hunter or three. If you’re just joining the story, a small estate within the mortal realm has collapsed. All twelve days relate to the rescue effort.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Four lightning birds.

A sizzle of kinetic energy lit up every nerve ending in Blade’s body. It was followed by a booming crack, a whip of sound and colour across the sky.

“You have got to be shitting me,” Blade said, depositing an unconscious woman onto a nearby stretcher.

Alayah followed his gaze, her breath hitching when she spotted them. Two lighting birds, their vibrant red feathers like a flame glowing in the night.

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Lo meant when he said we needed light on the situation,” she said.

Blade grinned, despite the crap storm above them. “Hey, you never know. They could be friendly.”

She snorted, and it was one of the sweetest sounds he’d ever heard. Yep, he was pathetic. But it meant she was comfortable with him again. That their friendship wasn’t a lost cause.

Those thoughts vanished when a bolt of lightning hit the ground in front of him.

“Hey, cat-boy.”

Blade turned to see Maddison jogging over to them. “We need to deflect those blasts away from the danger zones. And it appears they’re attracted to you.”

“I’m not sure I can outrun lightning. Why do I have to be target practice?” He would do it, he just liked messing with her. It probably had something to do with the fact his cat had a major crush, and she took his harmless flirtation in her stride.

He frowned, glancing Maddison’s way when she didn’t rise to the bait. She had her eyes closed, her head dipped to the side as though concentrating on something she couldn’t quite hear.

Blade studied her, his gaze dropping to her right hand. It took him a second to understand that the subtle movement of her fingers coincided with the increase in air current. What started as a gentle breeze became a gust of wind that made his hair dance and the dust swirl at his feet. She was creating a distraction.

Tipping back his head, Blade watched the lightning birds circle overhead. They seemed amused by her. Curious even.

“Can’t you guys like…woo them or something?” he asked, smirking when he felt Maddison’s gaze on him.

“If that’s a crack about witches using lightning birds as pets, I’m going to pin you to a lamp post and colour you a sacrifice.”

“Kinky,” he purred, wiggling his brows.

“I wonder if they have a thing for honey.”

Blade looked at Alayah, thrilled when he saw the light of amusement in her eyes. It felt better than the powerful energy crackling in the sky.

“That sounds like an interesting story, and I want to hear all about it,” Maddison said, interrupting. “But now would be a good time to let the cat out. We need a distraction so the others can start moving the injured.”

Blade shifted without another word, his good humour disappearing along with his human skin.

There was a small park bordering the housing estate, so he headed that way – hoping to draw the birds away. It worked. Though Maddison probably helped them along. He felt the blast of air like a hard caress along his fur.

For the next ten minutes, Blade zipped from one end of the park to the other as blast after blast of lightning mapped his progress. His fur got singed a few times, but his cat was enjoying the chase. At least until he took a hit. The burning pain along his right side was enough to slow him down.

“Son of a bitch.”

His words were punctuated by a crack-crack-sizzle. That couldn’t be good.

Blade glanced to his right, following the fiery snap of sound and saw two more of the damn birds, their feathers intertwined with blue. How the hell was he supposed to dodge four of the fuckers?

Drawing in a deep lungful of air, he prepared to bolt as a stream of power tore across the sky in a breath-taking display of dominance. He would have been toast for sure, if they had aimed that power at him. Instead the newcomers were aiming at the two using him for target practice.

He dropped to the ground, shifting as he did so he could lay on his back. The new pair were friendly, perhaps one of Orion’s countermeasures.

The birds went at each other with everything they had. A no holds barred assault that lit the sky like a fierce, fiery storm.

“Go team Orion,” he murmured and tucked his hands behind his head, content to watch the show.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

On the Third Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Welcome to day three. This is my take – a slice of fantasy – on the twelve days of Christmas theme. So far we’ve had a god who caused destruction in the mortal realm, and a rescue effort which began with a changeling or two. The story continues.

On the Third Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Three fearless hunters.

Logan waited beside the impromptu command centre, a tent one of the squads had set up to coordinate the rescue effort. He was on guard duty, a necessity considering the shit-storm of surprises they’d had to contend with over the past hour.

He’d already caught several wraiths trying to break through the barrier the elves had erected. Those wraiths hadn’t found the site on their own, but now that they had, they were looking for a quick fix.

Logan knew what they wanted. The people still trapped beneath the rubble were already weak, some barely holding on. Those poor souls would be easy pickings.

A growl built in his chest before he could stop it. His cousin was late. The fact Riley was one of the best hunters he knew, made it worth the wait. At least for a few more minutes.

And right on cue his cousin stepped into view. His timing perfect.

Logan blinked in surprise when he saw his companions. He’d known Riley would come packing, and by that he meant fully armed with his own team, but he hadn’t expected him to bring Maddison Wood.

The dark-haired witch had been out of commission for a while. She’d recently escaped from a war camp, or as the Fractured were calling them, recreational clubs – for the sick and twisted.

“Lo,” Riley said, flashing his trademark grin. “I hope you don’t mind, but a couple of my friends tagged along. You get three hunters for the price of one.”

Three? He’d expected more. Then again, the two he’d brought were their own army. If the rumours were true.

For some reason, Maddison was wearing and elfin uniform, Logan hadn’t seen anyone besides the Elite wear one of those beauties.

Her gaze travelled down his own suit, which was also elfin in nature, and she smirked as though reading his mind. “So, you’re a member of the exclusive club we’re all hearing about?”

“And you’re the witch who charmed the elves.” It felt odd that he would be recognised as a member of the Collective, but that was the nature of the beast, and his own was far more interested in Maddison Wood.

She laughed. “Zac here does the charming in our family.”

Zachariah Thorne, her adopted brother and partner in crime, stepped forward. “Good to meet you.”

“Thanks for coming.” Logan wanted to kick his own ass for that one. He rolled his shoulders and sucked it up. He still wasn’t comfortable with the position he’d been given, and his welcome speeches usually sucked.

Speaking of which. He was glad to have a vampire on board. Zachariah would be able to regulate the tempers in and around camp. Since they started pulling people out, tensions were running high.

“Riley speaks highly of you,” Zachariah said, shaking his hand.

Logan frowned. It was a nice sentiment, but it was full of crap. Riley didn’t speak highly of anyone. Not if he could help it.

“He’s just playing with you,” Maddison intervened. “We’re both curious about Ry’s family. He’s not exactly a sharer.”

“Now that I can believe.” Logan glanced down the road when he heard the rumble of an approaching vehicle. It had to be the supplies they were expecting.

Movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention and he realised it was Maddison’s hair. It was like the tail of a cat, twitching in frustration.

“What is it?”

It was Zachariah who answered. “Not sure. Whoever is driving that truck reeks of deception. The poor sap is terrified.”

A low growl came from Riley’s throat.

“Easy there, wolf-man,” Maddison said, and Logan watched as her hair snaked out to wrap around his wrist.

He couldn’t decide what shocked him more, that Maddison could soothe his cousin, or that Riley allowed it.

“What do you say we go do our thing, boys?” Maddison said. “I think our new visitor needs to check in.”

She didn’t wait for a response. Releasing Riley, she moved to intercept the truck. Logan didn’t tell her they were expecting the additional supplies he could see piled in the back. Instead, he stayed where he was and watched the three close in as a unit.

A minute later, Riley had the driver pinned up against the cab of the truck, aggression rolling from him in waves.

“Care to tell me what’s going on here?” Logan asked, moving to the group.

“This dipshit just led a shit load of trouble our way,” Riley growled. His eyes flashed when they turned Logan’s way. “It’s time to let the wolf off the leash, cousin. There’s a group of lost souls less than a mile away.”

That explained where the wraiths came from at least. When they conquered a soul, for a time their hosts became animated corpses. Temporary or not, they were strong, and their presence would seriously damage moral. Nobody liked a reminder of what the demons had planned for the mortals who stood in their way.

Logan didn’t even hesitate, he shifted. It appeared his job at welcoming committee wasn’t over just yet.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

On the Second Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Yesterday, the first day of my Fractured journey, my crazy muse sent to me – a god with an ace up his sleeve. To recap, a god with a penchant for cruelty sent his power into the mortal realm and caused an earthquake. It destroyed a small housing estate, and now humans are trapped beneath the rubble. Orion Reece (the god with the plan) has called in reinforcements.

On the Second Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Two changeling cats.

“Shit, man. How the hell are we supposed to move all this rubble?” Logan asked as he unearthed a large piece of red glass. It looked fragile against his big hand, but then most things did.

Blade studied the curved edges. He’d seen similar treasures before, especially at this time of year. Humans enjoyed their decorations. This one reflected the destruction around them.

The small housing estate was tucked way out into the countryside and had been an overlooked jewel until a god with a hard on for chaos and mischief decided to bring the whole thing down.

“With reinforcements.” Blade nodded to the trucks rolling towards them. “They took their sweet time getting here.” His cat was prowling in his mind. The smell of blood and impending death was driving the cheetah crazy. He could smell the fear of those trapped, hear their cries from underground, and they were running out of time.

Logan rolled his big shoulders, the white of his hair glinting in the moonlight. “We’re going to need a lot more where they came from.”

“It’s a start, brother. We need to get this show on the road.” Blade jogged to intercept the first team as they stepped from the armoured vehicle.

His body jolted when his cat picked up a familiar scent. If he’d truly been Logan’s brother he would have howled out his frustration. She was here. The one woman he couldn’t charm, the cat who confused the hell out of his cheetah and made every instinct in the man want to run. Sure, he’d been born to run. But still. It was humiliating.

“Alayah,” he said, taking in her uniform, the confidence in her golden eyes that he’d never seen before. “What are you doing here?”

“Panashe.” Her voice was remote, and it pissed him off. It had always pissed him off when she called him by his birth name, because it was a reminder that his parents had chosen her to be his mate. This, though, the cold way she formed the syllables. It was worse.

“I would think it’s obvious,” she said then. “I’m here to join the rescue effort.”

Logan snorted beside him. “She has you there, bro.” Then the jackass enveloped Alayah in his big arms and hugged her as though they were related. He did it to get a rise out of Blade. It worked.

Blade swallowed, wondering why he was only just noticing how graceful she was, how long her legs were, and how pretty her pale hair shone.

The last time they’d seen each other her supple body had been strung tight with tension. The thought reminded him of why he’d spent the past few years fighting the desire to rip Aaron limb from limb, and he almost growled.

They were friends again. Sort of.  But he hadn’t completely forgiven Aaron for his juvenile prank. And, okay, so they had made a game of it over the years, trying to one up each other. It didn’t change the fact their game had come to a sticky end.

Ha. Sticky. Aaron had tied Blade naked to a tree, and covered his body in honey. It happened to be in the height of mating season, and the cats had swarmed Blade like, well – bees to honey.

Alayah, the shy pretty cheetah who had followed him around since their parents introduced them, had saved him. She had staked her claim in the middle of the damn forest, and dragged him to an abandoned cave to ride out the crazy storm. Not literally. Well, not at first.

Neither of them had wanted the pairing, so Alayah’s bold move had been a way to save his sorry hide. Except they had both underestimated the power of the mating heat, and Alayah had turned into a siren. Her cat had taken full and complete control.

Then, when the heat had drained from her body, and her senses had returned, the old Alayah had stood before him. Awkward and tense. That was the last time he’d seen her.

The anger Blade felt towards Aaron for the stunt had less to do with his humiliation, and more to do with the price he’d had to pay. It had cost Blade his friendship with sweet, gentle Alayah.

Blade blinked, surprised to realise he was still staring. She didn’t look sweet now. She looked pissed. At him.

Logan coughed, probably to cover a laugh. “We’re glad you’re here, Al. With a rescue effort of this size, we need all the help we can get.”

Alayah nodded, glancing at the debris surrounding them. “Then put me to work.” Her eyes never left Logan’s. She appeared hell bent on forgetting Blade even existed.

“I’ll let Blade go over the plan with you,” Logan said, turning to him. “Think you can handle that, bud?”

Oh, he thought he was so funny. He wouldn’t think so when Blade wiped the smirk from his lips.

You know I’ll get you back for this, right? It still felt unfamiliar, the connection he had to Logan in his head. But it was at times like this he was grateful for it.

It’s just too easy, brother.

Blade narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to bolt when Logan took off. What the hell was wrong with him?

To give himself a minute, he glanced towards the elves who were positioned at strategic points within the site. Strategic to them, at least. They had been chanting for a while, communicating with the earth, or whatever, to stabilise what remained of the crumbling structures.

“Do you remember the cave-in at Durin Mountain when we were kids?” he asked Alayah.

Her pretty gold eyes widened in understanding. “They had to remove the outer layer of debris to assess the damage.”

He nodded. “You turned it into a game for those who had family trapped inside.” Their small group had made it a race, their movements so fast and light they hadn’t compromised the section of fallen tunnel. “Want to play a game with me?”

Alayah shifted uneasily on her feet. He couldn’t decide if she was remembering a different time, or if his forced joviality made her uncomfortable. “If I remember correctly, you run pretty damn fast.”

Yep. Definitely pissed at him. She wasn’t talking about his speed in general, she was talking about the morning he’d made an ass of himself by disappearing when the sun came up. His walk of shame had been a full-on sprint.

“Listen, Alayah-”

“Please let’s not do this. Just forget I said anything.”

His brows shot up. “Now who’s running?” Shit he was going to kick Aaron’s ass the next time he saw him.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.” She gave him a small smile. “Try to keep up.” Then she was off, zipping to the nearest building like a vamp on speed.

Blade’s cat perked up at the challenge. Pretty soon the reinforcements would arrive, and everyone would argue about the best way to find a way in. But for now, he could give his animal what it needed the most, a way to help the people trapped. Their fear was beginning to grate along his skin, but as long as he kept moving he didn’t feel so helpless.

Tell me again why you can’t transport these people out of here? He projected to Orion, knowing the god was monitoring their progress.

Because most of them wouldn’t survive. Came the impatient response. Are you giving up so soon, cat?”

Don’t put this on me. It was your crazy cousin who got us into this mess. Sometimes he wondered what the hell he was thinking, putting all his trust in one of the gods.

The same crazy cousin who is watching your every move. Now Orion sounded resigned, and Blade suspected it was the real reason he couldn’t intervene. If the rescue is fair, he’ll allow the humans to live. But this is a game to him, so expect company.

Which I take to mean you’ll be sending in countermeasures? This is sick. You know that, right? We’re talking about innocent-

Just don’t let me down. Darius will pay for this stunt, I can promise you that.

Blade had no response except to do the job he’d signed on for. So, he worked side by side with Alayah, and left the gods to play their crazy ass games.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

On the First Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

I’ve seen a lot of inventive posts over the last few weeks that play on the twelve days of Christmas theme. Of course my muse latched onto this, and sent me the twelve days of the Fractured instead!

My dad always loved Christmas. He had many traditions, some of which we still follow (like French toast on Christmas morning – yum!). He was a stickler for putting his tree up twelve days before Christmas, and taking it down twelve days after. It’s one tradition I can’t stick to…I’m far to excited to wait until mid December! So, instead, I’m going to start my twelve day story. I hope you enjoy.

On the First Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…A god with an ace up his sleeve.

Okay, so it was official. Gods made lousy drunks.

Orion stared at his cousin, Darius, the only member of his family he could still stomach, and waited for the tirade to end.

Let’s get together. It’ll be like old times sake. Yeah. Right.

It was his own damn fault. How was he supposed to know Darius was crazier than a wood nymph? Orion had been checked out for so long he was completely out of touch with the skeletons in his family closet.

While Orion had been out playing at being a cold-hearted son of a bitch, his cousin had been doing that shit for real. How had he once considered Darius worthy of his time? More to the point, how had he forgotten that insanity ran through his family tree, and damn but those roots ran deep.

But it was more than that. Darius had always been arrogant, but now his greed and cruelty showed through his skin like a toxic stain. He made the Fractured souls of Erebus seem as harmless as adolescent bullies.

Right now, Darius was waxing lyrical about teaching the Race Alliance a lesson. The more he spouted, the weaker his reasoning became. And it had nothing to do with the booze.

“I heard they hired someone. Sent them into the enemy camp. Who does that shit?” Darius said, waving his hand and causing the water on the lake to shimmer to life.

Orion froze. Not because his cousin had conjured a scene from the mortal realm across the surface, but because he was the red herring. So to speak.

The Alliance had requested his input, sent him in to end the war in the mortal realm. Getting up close and personal had been his idea. He now spent so much time with demons it was impossible to get their stink off his skin.

Damn Luke for dragging him out of his decade long pity party. His brother had a lot to answer for. And he owed him for what he was about to do.

“Hey, Darius,” he called, swaying to keep up the pretence. He’d been over-indulging for years. Alcohol no longer had any effect on him. “Catch.”

Orion blasted him with all his pent-up frustration, his power a sizzle of lighting as it reached out and froze his cousin to the spot. Darius didn’t have time to counteract. It was the only reason Orion got away with it. He’d been waiting hours for the maniac to let his guard down.

Strolling over to the edge of the lake, so he was nose to nose with Darius, he clamped his hands at either side of his head. It took mere seconds to find the canary who had sold him out. In fact, it took him longer to project that image to Lucas, so the angel could take care of their little problem. The mole in his own network.

Then he wiped the memory clean and resumed his earlier position, releasing Darius and painting an exasperated look on his face.

“What?” Darius said, looking around in confusion.

“Hell if I know.” Orion forced out a drunken chuckle. “You zoned out on me, cousin.”

Darius turned to the lake, staring at the portal he’d created as though he couldn’t figure out where he was. It didn’t take long for the madness to creep back in. “Hey,” he said, glancing back at Orion. “You know what we should do?”

Uh oh. Orion had a feeling he wouldn’t like finding out.

“We should stir things up a little.”

Yep. He’d been right.

Orion followed Darius’ gaze to the scene he’d conjured in the lake – a scene from the mortal realm that looked strangely untouched. He moved closer, curiosity getting the better of him. Most of the small towns within the realm had been all but destroyed when the Fractured descended, using it like a demons’ playground.

This estate must have been overlooked, or the humans got smart, because the small community still thrived.

“Watch this.”

Before Orion could stop him, Darius bent to slap his hands on the surface on the water. He sent so much power into the lake the ground shook.

Orion wasn’t concerned about that. The tremor on his own land would be nothing compared to the effect in the mortal realm. The effect from Darius’ transference of power.

The sound of Darius’ laughter was like barb against his skin. Orion felt rage build like an inferno in his blood. But the moment the lake settled, and he saw the devastation through the portal, he knew he didn’t have time to fight his cousin. One day. One day he would make him pay. Just not this day.

Relaxing his face into a bored expression was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. He wanted to kill Darius with his bare hands.

His mind reeled as he tried to come up with a plan. He was supposed to be protecting the realm, and he had failed because he still wanted some part of his past to mean something.

Blade? Logan? Where are you? he called out with his mind. The changelings were the only members of his team without an active assignment.

Hilmore. Blade answered immediately. This place is sweet. Definitely safe zone material.

We have a situation. He sent them a snapshot of the scene burning a hole in his retinas. The shimmer of the water rippling with aftershocks. Pull together a team. Whatever it takes.

On it. The growl in his mind could only belong to the wolf. Logan’s mental voice vibrated with anger, and it resonated through Orion.

“I have a better idea,” Orion said to Darius. “Allow me to introduce you to our new visitors at Camp Reece. They deserve your kind of entertainment.”

Darius’ eyes lit up. He knew exactly what Orion was referring to. By Camp Reece Orion meant his dungeons, and the prisoners currently housed within the cells were as despicable as his cousin. He couldn’t think of a better distraction for the crazy son of a bitch.

As he transported himself directly to the dungeons, a wave of fatigue rolled over him. If he had learned one thing over the past few months it was that he had a new family now. It was time he let go of his past.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Writing a Serial – The Saga Continues

In August I wrote a post about the trials of beginning my journey into serialised fiction. I learned a lot from the process, and the result of those lessons meant I had a few decisions to make about the future of the Collective.

In short, I had to rethink my whole plan. I still believe it will make a good serial, it just needs a stronger foundation before the group can come together and share their adventures. I’m sure readers will appreciate the time to familiarise themselves with the characters – all thirteen of them.

It’s for that reason I’ve decided to give each character their own novel. Yes, that’s thirteen books (at least) before the collective can be formed. By that time, readers will know the history, will be familiar with the world itself, and regular episodes will complement the series as a whole.

So, since the first novel won’t be ready until February 2017, and I promised a release this month, I wrote a novella – Badge of Honour – featuring Maddison Wood from the Fractured series. I will be releasing that Christmas week, and I’m excited about it.

I’m also excited about the fact that I have a new image of Maddy to share with you. I’ve been working with Magical Designs to create covers for The Collective, and The Fractured. Bekah Reece sketched Maddy for me, and I’ll be using her for future covers because she looks fantastic.

Yes, I messed up my timing when it comes to the serial and the planners among you are probably shaking your head, but there’s a silver lining. So, here she is, my feisty witch with hair that will tie you up in knots…I give you Maddy…

maddy-comission-2

I will be providing a sneak peak of Badge of Honour, and of course there will be a cover reveal coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Faithful Friend – Thursday Photo Prompt #writephoto

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We might not celebrate in the UK, but we can still be thankful for the gifts we’ve been given. I’m thankful for my two beautiful daughters, my supportive family, and my friends.

It was thinking of my internet friends, and realising I’ve been absent for so long, that prompted me to take part in Sue’s photo challenge this week. That, and the fact Sue’s prompts are awesome, so thanks for the inspiration, Sue.

faithful-friend

Rosalie pulled her hat further forward, until it covered half of her face. She still had a problem with light, and yet every part of her skin – the parts uncovered at least – craved the warmth of the sun. The breeze against her bare arms was a soothing touch, as soothing as the presence by her side.

Taking a deep breath, she began to cross the sprawling grounds of the Davison estate. They knew she was there, had given permission for her excursion. It bothered them, Rosalie knew, but she couldn’t let that deter her. They all had ghosts to put to rest, and the Davison family owed her a lot more than access to their land.

Still, when she stepped onto the path that would lead her back into the past, she felt her heart accelerate. When she reached the end, her skin felt raw and sensitive. The breeze no longer soothed, it irritated, and yet she didn’t turn back.

The low whine from her companion had her glancing down. She bent to tangle her fingers in his shaggy mane. “It’s okay, boy. I just need a minute.”

Ben whined again, and Rosalie saw something close to a reprimand in his deep brown eyes. He didn’t want her to be here either, or perhaps he was as terrified as she was; caught up in his own memories of what transpired.

“It’s important,” she whispered, as though she needed to defend herself. “I have to do this.”

He barked once, unsettling the quiet air around them and sending a few creatures scurrying into the underbrush.

If he had a voice she imagined, he would have told her to get moving.

Ruffling the fur along his neck one more time, Rosalie continued. This time she didn’t hesitate, not even when she came to the steps she had once viewed as a mountain too hazardous to climb.

At the bottom, she paused. It hurt her eyes, but she pushed her hat back so she could face what lay in front of her. It was easier after a little time and distance. She almost managed to see what others probably saw – a hidden treasure within the hillside. Almost. All the time in the world wouldn’t change the reality of what it had once been.

Her eyes drifted to the narrow opening. At one time a makeshift door had hung on rudimentary hinges. She hadn’t known how flimsy it was at the time, but she could still remember the sound when those hinges tore free and the door fell. Or perhaps that was only in her head – the sweet, sweet sound of freedom. After all, the door was covered with so much foliage she was surprised when it didn’t swing right back into place.

“It’s time,” she whispered, whether to Ben or to prompt herself, she wasn’t sure.

Rosalie’s breathing was laboured by the time she made it inside. It was cold, dark and damp, just as she remembered, but she had no intention of venturing any further than the entranceway.

Removing her hat, she placed it on the floor along with her bag. Then, with slow steady breaths, she removed the blanket and spread it out.

Her eyes were burning with unshed tears, her muscles aching from the tension, but she managed to sit with her back straight and her eyes on the mound of earth she knew was there, but couldn’t see.

“I’m sorry it’s been so long,” she whispered, finally allowing the tears to fall.

Ben padded over to sit beside her. He dropped to his stomach and laid his head on her knees.

“I wanted to come sooner, but I…” her words trailed off. In truth, she hadn’t been well enough to make the trip.

Ben whimpered, the sound vibrating against her leg and shaking a memory loose.

She had been terrified the first time she saw him, but not that day. That day he had taken more punishment than she had. Her master, the one she now knew was Warren Davison, had kicked Ben so hard he hit the wall.

At first, when he didn’t get back up, she thought he was dead. Then Warren had moved over to him, cursed him to hell and back, and stormed from her prison without looking back.

Rosalie had dragged herself to the wounded animal and cradled his head in her lap. The familiar weight had past and present bleeding together until she swore she could fee every bruise, every scar on her soul.

“You saved me, you know,” she whispered, running her hand through Ben’s fur.

She’d done the same that day. Soothed him without words until he had lifted his head and butted it against her hand. How long they sat in the dark she had no way to tell. She only knew that when Ben finally moved, what he did next changed the course of her life.

He had crawled across the floor, his short, sharp breaths searching until he stopped to paw furiously at the hard ground.

Rosalie had followed the sound, terrified that Ben would discover her secret – the weakened section of flooring that she had spent an eternity uncovering. At the time, she hadn’t known that Warren had been the one to weaken the earth. She liked the idea that he had unwittingly provided her with the tools to aid her escape. If he hadn’t dug up the earth in the first place, she might have died in the hell he created.

Ben had found her secret that day, and though she tried to stop him, he had pawed the ground until she sat back and let him do his worst. As time ticked by, she began to fantasise that he would dig them to freedom. She could almost see the light, a light she hadn’t seen in so long her very cells craved it.

And then he had barked, startling her out of the fantasy and pulling her straight into a nightmare. She had crawled over to him, feeling inside the soft earth until her hand hit something cold and hard. The scream building in her lungs broke free when she realised what it was – a body.

Rosalie covered her mouth to hold in the sob. That day she had cried into Ben’s fur until her throat was raw.

“I wanted to thank you,” she whispered, dropping her hand to her chest. She missed the heavy weight of the necklace against her skin, a necklace she had found that day. Simone Beatty, the girl Warren had murdered, had been clutching the chain in her hand.

How Rosalie found it, how she knew how to use it, she might never know. But as she began carefully laying the earth back into place, Simone’s hand had opened as though she were offering Rosalie a talisman.

It had taken a long time, but Rosalie had used the heavy, silver crucifix to further weaken the hinges that shuddered and creaked whenever Warren closed her in.

After her escape, she had put the necklace around her neck and refused to take it off. Not even the nurses managed to convince her. It gave her the strength she needed to get through the weeks that followed; the endless questions, the unearthing of Simone’s body, and the start of her long recovery.

“Thank you for the gift,” she said, louder this time. “Thank you for lending me your strength and support.”

She bent to kiss the top of Ben’s head. Her faithful friend, a friend who hadn’t left her side since Warren’s parents had released him. A friend who had once tried to protect Simone, and who had never given up his goal of saving her. She was no longer trapped beneath the cold ground, she was free, and so was Rosalie.

“I’ll take good care of Ben for you,” she said, rising to her feet. “And I want you to know he takes really good care of me.”

As she moved towards the doorway, a breeze ruffled her hair and as it lifted from her shoulders, so did the weight she had been carrying in her heart for months. The room felt truly empty now, as though Simone had been waiting to say goodbye.

photoprompt

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

New Release: Charms of the Feykin by Charles Yallowitz

I’m delighted to share details about Charles Yallowitz’ new release – Charms of the Feykin. More exciting Windemere adventures…bring it on!

Return to Windemere in Charms of the Feykin!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

To make a champion fall, one must wound their very soul.

Nyx is leading the charge to rescue Delvin and Sari, who have gone missing in the southern jungles of Windemere. Battling through the local predators, the champions are surprised when they reunite in the Feykin city of Rhundar. Instead of captives, the missing heroes have become the city’s rulers and are on the verge of starting a war with those that want to exterminate their new followers. Even with such a noble cause, Delvin and Sari have changed into brutal warlords that may kill each other and their friends long before they step onto the battlefield.

Have Delvin and Sari really changed for the worst or is there a greater threat pulling the champions’ strings?

Grab it on Amazon!

Add it to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ List!

Excerpt: Broken Bonds

Sari draws two daggers and sprints at Luke, slashing at his sabers in an attempt to cut his hands as he unsheathes his weapons. Instead, the forest tracker unclips the scabbards from his belt and spreads his arms to avoid the gypsy’s attack. The swords still sheathed, he does his best to deflect his former friend’s strikes while harmlessly smacking her in the sides. When a dagger slices his arm, Luke kicks out to knock Sari back. A hint of a grin on her face causes him to slow his attack, his foot aching as it bounces off her immovable body. Knowing he has to trick her, the half-elf runs backwards to get the gypsy to charge. Before she falls behind, the warrior lets her gradually catch up while remaining out of slashing range. Once Luke reaches the riverbank, he lunges forward and aims a swing at the sprinting woman’s knee. Forced to decide between taking a blow that would surely break bone or risk a similar injury by turning her power on while running, Sari tries to twist out of the way. She lands on her back at the forest tracker’s feet and curses when he pins her arms by jamming his sabers against her wrists.

Before Luke can tell the gypsy to stop struggling, an arm of water bursts from the river and bats him away. Phelan leaps out of the rapids and sprints at the prone warrior, his daggers lengthened by keenly edged liquid. The weapons sink into the muddy earth when their target rolls away, the ringing of drawn steel revealing that the champion is no longer restraining himself. With a flurry of stabs and slashes, the half-elf drives his new opponent back and whittles away at the watery daggers. Trying not to kill the Feykin, Luke delivers an echoing hilt punch to Phelan’s head every time the other warrior attempts a counterattack. Faced with the full speed and skill of the agile forest tracker, the outclassed hunter has various watery weapons fly out of the river. None of them hit the champion, who remains close enough to continue his barrage of muscle-rattling strikes.

Ducking to the side, Luke slashes at the other man’s exposed flank in what he hopes will be a crippling, but non-lethal, blow. The saber clangs off a patch of icy armor and a freezing tremor makes the half-elf’s arm go numb. A searing pain erupts from his lower back and he whirls around, the motion preventing Sari’s dagger from doing more than a long cut across his side. His first saber swings an inch over her head, but his second weapon leaves a gash up the middle of her chin. Enraged by the pain, the gypsy moves out of Luke’s reach and summons a massive hammer of water. She freezes the forest tracker’s feet to the ground before he can move, which allows the large weapon to connect. It repeatedly comes down on the warrior, breaking several ribs and one of his arms. Sheathing his sabers and remaining on the ground, the half-elf draws the stiletto and hurls it into Sari’s thigh. A look of shock is on her face and she stares at Luke’s battered form as if seeing such injuries for the first time.

Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning? Then click on the covers below!

You can start for FREE . . .

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Or grab the $4.99 ‘3 in 1’ bundles!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen 3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

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Also Available in Single eBooks:

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
Cover art by Jason Pedersen
Cover art by Jason Pedersen

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Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don’t forget an apple for Fizzle.

Author Photo

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

The Perfect Cover #writephoto

Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue – I hope you’re having a good time on your travels 🙂

ruins

Joanna crawled up the embankment, leaving a trail of red in her wake. She looked back, tracking the path she had taken; the trail like a flag to the raging bull on her tail. He was as relentless as the animal, too, and she imagined she could hear his snorting breath.

Her gaze shifted back to the ruins in front of her, her beacon of hope. If she could just find cover, she had a chance.

Pressing her body lower to the ground, she clamped her teeth together as shots exploded around her. She was a sitting duck out there, and she only had herself to blame. Joanna knew he couldn’t see her, knew he was aiming for the stark colour that leaked behind her.

She had to fight the urge to give in to her fear and stay put. Sure, it would make him sweat, but the longer she remained in place the less likely she was to succeed. Already her muscles screamed in protest. He never tired of the game, and though adrenalin had carried her this far, it was about to crash in a big way.

Taking a deep breath, she inched forward, her eyes narrowing in on the foliage covering the ruins like a protective coat of armour. Perhaps they would extend the courtesy to her. After all, the creeping plants that flared into a wide skirt at the foot of the stone were the perfect for hiding place.

It’s now or never.

Ignoring the soft pfft-pfft sounds that hit the grass around her, Joanna crawled as quickly as she could to the top. None of the shots hit her, and she felt a surge of triumph. The assault course her brother forced her to complete had finally paid off.

She didn’t get to her feet, didn’t allow herself to make a mistake now. Instead, she scrambled forward, through the entrance to the ruins, until she had ample cover. Only then, did she ease her body into a crouch, crab walking – her eyes on the empty windows – until she reached the small pack hidden in the debris. Snatching it up, Joanna let out a whoop of triumph, even as she was digging inside for her treasure.

The sound of footsteps outside didn’t deter her. She whipped the flag out of the pack and waved it in the air.

“Well played, Jo-Jo. Well played,” her brother said, panting.

She turned to the doorway, eyeing his readied paintball gun and gave him a winning smile. “Thanks, bro.” Her gaze dropped to her own gun, which was still leaking paint. She had doctored it, of course; taunting him. Luckily, she didn’t get a drop on her clothing.

“Do you think the others packed in by now?” he asked, gazing out across the meadow.

Joanna snorted. “Of course. They’ll be back at camp.” Their friends always let them go their own way, knowing how competitive they became whenever they played the game – any game.

When he turned back, he was grinning too. “Then let’s join them.”

Grabbing the water from her pack so she could clean the evidence of their game, she walked to him. “With any luck, they’ve already started dinner.”

The sound of her brother’s laughter tickled her ear as he hooked an arm around her shoulder and led her out.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge – Waiting Game

This week for the Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) the theme is Autumn.

The quote I chose is by George Eliot:

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. George Eliot.

There is something truly magnificent about autumn, and though we Brits don’t celebrate the holiday, it is a time for thanksgiving. For the glorious colours that explode to life, even in death. For the rich and pleasant smells, the wind on your cheeks, the fire in the hearth, and the warm drinks shared with friends.

I found myself inspired by the theme, so I created a few images to (hopefully) entertain you.

autumn-collage

autumn-pic

My inspiration for the piece of flash fiction has its roots in my current project. Eventually I will get back to my other works but, as you probably know, I have lived and breathed the Collective for the last six months. I went in a different direction, and used a goddess (of autumn), a completely new character who is surprisingly vocal considering she’s only been in my head for a day!

I’m considering a new series for the blog, and have been itching to find an opportunity to break the fourth wall – this might be it!

Waiting Game

There was a time when committing an act of hubris meant great suffering, and death. Not anymore. In Nearyon, arrogance and pride are applauded, and coercion will probably earn you a pat on the back.

Given the sorry state of affairs, I should not have been surprised that a bunch of upstarts who call themselves mercenaries for hire took me from my home. The kind who, if gathering brain cells was as easy as reaping a harvest, they should be filling their boots. And the worst part – aside from the fact they’re idiots – they take cues from a damn playbook. I mean, seriously, they should get it over with and set up their own club – HubrisRUs.

Okay, so maybe I’m a tad bitter because I haven’t figured out a way to escape, but still, my jailers don’t even have powers to speak of. No. What they have is powerful friends with the ability to dampen a god’s power. I should be flattered that they took extra precautions with me (I’m Thera by the way – in case you were wondering), and put me in a cell that is guarded against earth magic. Which kind of sucks, since my power links to the elements.

Still, I’m not completely defenceless. It took me three days to recover from the dampening spell, but it was worth the hours I spent plotting my revenge. The instant I came back online, I discovered a weakness (did I mention my jailers are idiots?) and, though I couldn’t pinpoint my location, I did manage to escape for a short time using astral projection.

I’m not going to lie, it didn’t exactly go according to plan. My sisters have the same ability, and give that they had been searching for me, the moment our connection snapped back into place they projected too. We sort of passed on the astral plane like ships in the night. It’s one way to find entertainment, I suppose. When you’re stuck inside a box it’s hard to find things to laugh at.

So, now it’s a waiting game. I can’t get out, but my sisters will find a way to get in, and together we will wreak havoc. As an added bonus, I will free all the other prisoners and we might even create our own playbook – 101 Ways to Exact Revenge. Not particularly inventive, but let’s just say I have a one track mind.


 

It didn’t really go anywhere, except as an introduction of sorts. It’s my first attempt at finding the right tone for the story and I wanted to keep it under 500 words. It’s a work in progress shall we say 😉

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Thanks also to Colleen and Ronovan for inspiring us each week.

autumn