One the Twelfth 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, four lightning birds, five gold rings, six members of the Battalion, seven of the Elite, eight greedy goblins, nine brave soldiers, ten borrowed shapeshifters, and eleven Noble Shields. 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 Twelfth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Twelve Fallen Guardians.

Orion sat beneath the large tree in the centre of the newly built site. He studied the tidy structures that were so different to the original design, but sturdier – harder to crumble. Not that he would allow his asinine cousin to make a repeat performance.

His attention was caught by a small group of children racing across the path above him. They were laughing, a sound that felt good and right. It drifted into the night, relieving some of the guilt that still weighed heavily in his gut.

The children couldn’t see him. He’d used a cloak to conceal his presence. It would risk his mission to be seen here, not to mention his reputation for being a cold-hearted bastard. The ice had cracked a long time ago, and the damn thing wouldn’t stop thawing. It was good that his acting skills were as flawless as his complexion.

Orion rose to his feet when he heard a heavy crash, followed by sound of shattering glass. A horrified gasp, had his attention returning to the group.

It took him a few seconds to figure out what happened, and he had to smile. One of the children had been carrying a jug of liquid – that smelled of summer mornings – and had stumbled. The boy had tried so hard to save their treasure as he fell, but the jug had dropped from his grip and now lay shattered on the ground.

Unable to help himself, Orion donned a disguise and dropped his cloak. He watched four sets of eyes widen as they spotted him.

“Shh,” he put a finger to his lips, glancing around to make sure they were alone.

“Are you Santa?” one of them asked, voice so low he barely heard it.

Orion almost laughed out loud as he looked down at the red tunic he was sporting. He’d meant to come across as unassuming, and had chosen an elderly, grandfatherly skin. The white beard did feel rather long, but the effect was purely coincidental.

The thought of all they had been through, stopped him from denying the character they cast him in. He preferred a different kind of magic, but if this was what they needed, then so be it.

He winked, but didn’t say another word. He didn’t need to. The excitement was palpable. How easy they were to please. How wonderfully innocent they were. It made him feel lighter, almost giddy with shared delight.

Taking a step forward he used his power to gather and lift the broken shards. When they were hovering before him, he chanced a glance at the group and saw he had their undivided attention.

He let the glass spin in front of him, faster and faster until it fractured into tiny splinters. They twinkled, like tiny specs of light, and it gave him an idea. Turning, he slowed their progress and blew hard.

Now, almost as fine as sand, they drifted through the air and coated the tree he’d rested against.

A collective gasp rippled through the group as the glass settled, shimmering against the branches.

“Cool,” one of the children murmured, and Orion grinned. He sounded like Blade.

Moving back to the group, he snapped his fingers and a jug appeared in his hand – this one plastic. He handed it to the clumsy child with another wink, and searched his memories for something appropriate to say. Something befitting of the legendary figure.

“Go. Share your drink, and go quickly to your beds,” he whispered, conscious that he felt an adult presence close by. A mother worried for her children.

Before they could respond, Orion disappeared. Or rather her used concealment magic to hide himself from view.

Several hours later, and still firmly cloaked, he watched as the community came out on masse to witness the Christmas miracle. A large, sparkling tree, with a pile of brightly wrapped presents beneath.

“Are you going soft on me?” a voice said beside him, a beat or two before Lucas showed his angelic face. The Guardian, the angel on his shoulder, liked to make an entrance.

“If I am, then you made me this way, brother.” Orion shrugged. “This eases some of the guilt for what happened here.”

“You’re not responsible for your cousin’s actions. And you’ve been acting on that guilt all along. For you, this is overkill.”

“And you always have my back.” Orion smiled when Lucas feigned an innocent look. “Do you think I don’t know about the Fallen?”

“It’s their job to protect,” Lucas countered, as though he hadn’t gathered them to watch over the small community. A temporary assignment or not, they had done more than protect. They had soothed, eased and in some cases healed.

The Fallen were former Guardians. Angels who chose to fall from Empyrean to take a more proactive role. Orion counted twelve among the gathering group. It was their job to blend in, but he saw them. Saw the light shining from each of them. It was almost as strong as his brother’s blinding energy.

“Perhaps we both got a little carried away.” Lucas’ mouth twitched. “Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season.”

“Ho, Ho, Ho,” Orion muttered and transported himself home. Lucas’ laughter followed closely on his heels.

And that concludes my Twelve Days of the Fractured. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop

trick or treat

The lovely Patricia Lynne, author of the Path of Angels series, is running a book blog hop today. Basically, we’re handing out treats in the virtual world too. Only, instead of candy, it’s literature!

From today until the 5th of November, my book – The Fallen – will be free on Smashwords as a Halloween gift. It seemed the most fitting of all my genres, being dark fantasy.

You’ll need the following code – EG43E – to redeem the gift and, if you click on the picture below, you will be redirected.

Have a Happy Halloween, and thanks for stopping by.

Mel

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