Books, Books and More Books!!

Books, Books and More Books!!
Publications from Taki Drake

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Another Sunday, Another Snippet



It is Sunday and time for another snippet! I am working on several books right now, one of which is the next book in the Vorcian Imperial Chronicles, titled Power Surge. This is the third book in the series. It continues the story of Corda Devlin Watern, a student at the Barkin Prime Academy.

I hope you enjoy this small preview of the story. I will continue to post snippets up each Sunday as I can. The feedback, suggestions, and other comments I get are much appreciated!

Remember!! This is not edited and may be altered before publication.

-------------------<<< Snippet 02 VIC PS >>>-----------------------
Corda still felt strange about moving about the spaceship. The opulent interior and the servants that surrounded her grandmother intimidated her. Even when she had been an acknowledged member of the wealthy Watern family, they had not lived like this.

The young woman knew that her grandmother was quite amused by her awkwardness with servants, but Corda wondered if Misha really understood the problem. Growing up, the only people that really seem to care about me were the servants. My happy moments occurred mostly with them unless Bertor was home, she thought to herself.

Of course, now it would not be really appropriate for her to go hide with the servants. In her position as the Imperial Seer, her grandmother was expected to interact with many different types and ranks of people. That meant, as much as she dreaded it, that Corda would be meeting and interacting with those people also.

As the young woman exercised her healthy appetite on the plate of perfectly cooked food that had been set in front of her, she reassured herself mentally, thinking, at least I have a few years before I have to really step up to that. I know Nona wants to present me at court after I graduate. That gives me several years to get brushed up on all the protocol, memorize titles and names, and learn more about how to safely navigate the political environment.

Suddenly, the room felt colder and darker, and Corda knew that she was experiencing one of the strange episodes that had haunted her since she survived the multiple near brushes with death a few months ago. Sometimes those episodes took the form of a panic attack, while others seem to be as if she was trapped in a virtual reality game, showing her pictures of situations and places that she did not know.

Both the Healer that came to help her physically recover and the gentle and supportive old friend that her grandmother had called in to talk to Corda had told her that it was inevitable that she had some leftover reactions. Even knowing that, the young woman tensed as vague feelings of danger and warning became more forceful and strident.

The back of her neck ached as if someone was taking aim at it, and the area between her shoulder blades itched. Trying to calm her breathing, Corda felt like she was arm-wrestling for control. Unable to see any specific attacker or opponent, Corda felt herself reaching for a weapon, and unable to find one.

Waves of panic flowed over her, and Corda focused on breathing her way through the pressures that might have once crushed her. The young woman pulled up the remembered mantra of the Healer, who had coached her through several episodes. In Corda’s memory, bright blue eyes stared at her, and a soft age-roughened voice repeated a calm litany, “Breathe in through your nose, as you push your awareness outside of you to check for danger. Hold your breath for a count of three before releasing it through your mouth. Count to three, then repeat.”

Corda felt her body being buffeted with sharp pushes from many directions. There was no consistency to the blows, just disorienting and distracting pinpricks of attack that did not seem to have a purpose. Still focused, she kept up her breathing in time with the remembered voice, expanding her awareness wider with each breath.

By the time the images that surrounded her started to thin, Corda felt more centered and in control. She had pushed her awareness to far beyond the enclosing decks and walls of the spaceship as part of her breathing exercise. Relieved that she had found no sense of danger within that sphere, Corda felt her muscles start to relax as the dark, swirling cloud that had surrounded her seemed to dissipate in the light of the dining room.

Abruptly, the episode ended, leaving Corda limp with relief. Her hands shaking, the young woman grabbed the glass of water in front of her and drained it in a single gulp. Smelling the acrid odor of fear on her skin, she half rose from the table to go and take another shower when her grandmother came into the room.

Usually, Misha greeted her granddaughter with a cheerful comment, but the Seer was notably silent this time. Instead, the older woman walked into the room with a frozen face, searching for her granddaughter. When the Seer’s eyes met Corda’s, the young girl could see layers of concern and worry in her Nona’s expression.

“Nona, what is wrong? Has something happened to Bertor?” quickly demanded Corda, starting toward her grandmother. Immediately, Misha raised a hand to stop her grandmother, pointing commandingly toward Corda’s chair.

The Seer did not answer the question until she was sitting at the table and had both hands wrapped around her usual hot cup of morning drink. Only when the hovering servant had been sent out of the room did Misha speak to her granddaughter.

“I cannot say that there is something specifically wrong, Corda. And Bertor is just fine, as are all of your friends. However, I am afraid there has been a change in plans. I just received a summons from the Emperor. He wants me back in his court as soon as possible.”

Corda was conscious of a flash of disappointment but understood the demands of duty. Smiling at her grandmother, the young woman said, “I understand, Nona. Will you have time to drop me off, or am I catching a connecting transfer to go back home?”

The worry in Misha’s face became more evident as she said, “You will not be heading back to Barkin Prime now. Instead, the Emperor requested your presence at my side when I rejoined his court.”

Startled, Corda blurted out, “Why? I am just a student!”

“I do not know, my dear. I cannot understand the Emperor’s motivation, and that worries me. To my knowledge, this is the first time that the Emperor has ever made such a request.”

When Corda stared in horrified disbelief at her grandmother, the Seer’s frustration and worry came out in the tone of her slightly raised voice. “I have no idea what is going on, and that is never a safe place to be when dealing with Imperial politics. This is probably going to be the most dangerous thing that you have ever done, and I am limited on what I can do to protect you.”

-------------------<<< End Snippet 02 VIC PS >>>-----------------------

Monday, May 11, 2020

Slightly Tardy Sunday Snippet - Oops!

Sorry, but I lost track of time!! I was so busy writing that I did not realize that Sunday was over. Baaaaddddd Taki!! No cookie for you! 

Anyway, here is the snippet from UnFamiliar Pathways. It will probably be the last one before the book is published since I am in the home stretch! Hope this is fun and interesting for you!

Remember - this is not edited!!! (I am not sure why I keep telling you that, because people send me notes on proposed changes even though I put that disclaimer in. Oh well, I am focusing on finishing this one and then the next two this month in the other series!

-------------------- FAMM UP Snippet 07 ------------------------
The second wave of foul odors and bloody images began to pummel Dochin, each one a blow to her heart and spirit. Over and over again, what she saw reinforced the message that there was no way to save everyone. There would be no rescue party for Bolormaa’s adopted country.

Dochin felt her consciousness begin to fray and fought against the dissolution of her core identity. Let me at least let people know what is coming! she thought to herself. If I warn them, maybe some of them will survive! Perhaps, even if this comes to pass, there might be a possibility that later on, the Blood Mages can be defeated.

Lightning strikes erupted so abruptly that Dochin’s eyes flashed with spots of light and shadow. From the startled exclamations of her apprentices, the old Seer knew that at least part of the display that stunned her ears and disoriented her Sight was occurring on the material plane. The display over the Tsagiin Gol was even more impressive as eldritch spears of jagged light glowing in neon colors splashed from one side to the other of the river. Carried in its luminous wake came loud claps of shattering noise that slashed her ears with blades of pain.

A swirl of windrows above the surface of the River of Time, pulling the heavy smell of ozone and the press of dank air away from Dochin’s avatar. Gasping to draw the fresher air into her immaterial lungs, the Seer watched in amazement as the waterspout created a dry space that went all the way to the bottom of the river bed. Cutting through layers of time, the force created a cofferdam, isolating a protected area for the old Seer to stand.

The misty representation of Dochin inside her vision stood on shaking legs, gasping and exhausted. There was no place to rest, and the woman did not feel comfortable sitting in the muck that covered the river bottom.

There must be some reason that this is occurring, Dochin thought to herself. What am I supposed to have learned or gleaned from this? Covertly scanning her surroundings, the old Seer began to circle the protected area, looking for clues or anything that would help her make sense of what was going on.

The variety of items that were stuck in the muck was amazing, and Dochin had to remind herself that this was not an archaeological dig. Instead, it was a rare opportunity to find something that would help alleviate what appeared to be an inevitable disaster.

About halfway around the circle, the old woman noticed a strange configuration drawn in the slimy mud that covered the entire surface. She recognized the five-point radial form of the structure of a pentacle, even though it was not depicted in the usual fashion. She leaned a little closer to inspect it and realized that it was emitting a barely discernible glow.

Unsure if the illumination was innate or an accent to draw her attention, Dochin stepped even closer to the drawing. That step triggered some sort of response as the image began to glow brighter. The fascinated Seer noticed that there were glyphs drawn at each point of the pentagram.

Her intuition flashed, and she recited aloud in the singsong cadence that she had used to memorize many of the facts that her teacher demanded of her. “Mage, Witch, Wizard, Priest, and Sorcerer. The five forms of magic users. All with different affinities and skills. Aligned together, it could be a solution to many problems.”

How can I interpret this? Am I deluding myself? Or is this some sign from the Universe or some unnamed gods on what can help? Dochin was confused and filled her mind skittering around her skull like it was a rat trying to escape the trap.

As she stared blindly at the pentagram and the glyphs, blood welled up from the riverbed and covered the entire drawing. Dochin cried aloud, even knowing that her apprentices would hear her. The remembered agony of sacrifice wound its way through her voice as she called out to the heavens, “There will be sacrifices in great pain. Losses will rip families and friends apart, unable to be filled or forgotten. However, there will be an escape for some and the hope of tomorrow.”

Darkness descended like a heavy curtain, stealing Dochin’s sight and leaving her gasping for air. As her consciousness left, the elderly Seer thought, Have Gambol and Chimeg heard enough to warn people, if I never wake again?

There was a swirl of smell and pain. The immaterial waters of the River of Time closed over Dochin’s head and filled her lungs. For a split second, the old woman resisted before relaxing and accepting her fate. She thought to herself, If I am meant to die now, hopefully, it will not be in vain.

Darkness blanketed everything.
---------------------------------FAMM UP Snippet 07------------

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saturday Snippet Time! - The first snippet in the next Vorcian Imperial Chronicles Book - Power Surge


It is Sunday and time for another snippet! I am working on several books right now, one of which is the next book in the Vorcian Imperial Chronicles, titled Power Surge. This is the third book in the series. It continues the story of Corda Devlin Watern, a student at the Barkin Prime Academy.

I hope you enjoy this small preview of the story. I will continue to post snippets up each Sunday as I can. The feedback, suggestions, and other comments I get are much appreciated!

Remember!! This is not edited and may be altered before publication.

-------------------<<< Snippet 01 VIC PS >>>-----------------------
T’Kini, the Nyri Mage, completed her report and leaned back with a sigh of relief. The reptilian woman wore robes with the medallion of a full member of the Imperial Citadel Academy gleaming softly against her chest. Like all of her species, a distinctive brush of dappled, lustrous hair ran from the crown of her head to the base of her skull. Braided and coiled, her luminescent hair would have hung below her waist if brushed out.

The darkened room was a comfort to the exhausted woman’s eyes, and she appreciated the consideration of the Academy Cadre. The five people present were the strongest and wisest of those that had graduated from the ICA. The fact that they had met with her immediately upon her arrival told T’Kini that they understood the importance of what she had seen and experienced.

“I have several areas of concern, which are probably shared by everyone in this room,” stated B’Getha. The ancient Mage was the other Nyri in the room and had headed the Academy Cadre for the last hundred and twenty years. Her still-powerful voice resonated with both her emotion and control, as she said, “The idea of a rogue group within the Imperial Military Intelligence is hugely alarming. Especially since they were able to mount an attempted extraction of the initial infiltration survivors so quickly.”

Halberd of Halisert, the Urisian member of the Cadre, rumbled in his deep voice, “They need to be an extremely well-funded and well-connected splinter group for such a prompt and well-armed effort. I think we should quickly bring some of the Nyri peacekeeping and regime forces into an informal discussion of this situation.”

B’Getha nodded her head in acknowledgment before she continued, saying, “I find it also extremely disturbing that the Seer’s visions of multiple decades ago were a surprise to us. I thought our intelligence gathering was better than that. Perhaps, it is time we see about collecting more information on signs of contingency planning and other Foreseeing activity within the Emperor’s court.”

Trenton Madigan, one of the human Mages of the Cadre, pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes in a pained expression. Almost mumbling, the man said, “When T’Kini sent her early warning message, I immediately checked to see if any of our Seers had foreseen any of this. I asked them about unusual patterns or warnings of either a major threat to the Imperium or the events that just occurred on Barkin Prime. The answer is we have no recorded hint or emerging pattern that touches on either area.”

Murmurs of shared worry sounded from around the room, but T’Kini interjected with a surprisingly serious note in her voice. “The strength of the Imperial Seer is unlike anything else I have seen. Many times have I been around Mages when they have been scrying or in the grip of their magic. Compared to Misha Bellee Gerson, their command over their power is like comparing ripples from a flung pebble in a small pool to a tidal wave.

“I think whoever has formed this rogue MI group will rue the day that they attacked Misha’s granddaughter. The power of her fury almost had me hiding. That was the first time I have ever felt frightened in my entire life, and it taught me an important lesson about hubris.”

Well acquainted with the very talented Mage, the Cadre stared at her with open mouths. An observer would have seen the impact of that statement in the calculation behind each Mage’s eyes as they realized that a war had been initiated.

B’Getha somberly said, “I, for one, am glad that we have declared on the side of the Imperium and the Seer. We need to provide what support we can to our allies in this, lest these rogues destroy what has taken centuries to build.”

Nioni Edan, the Mage who oversaw all classes at the Academy, asked, “What can we do? Perhaps offer a place for Misha’s granddaughter here?”

Halberd said immediately, “No. That will do nothing but divide the people that must learn to work together on Barkin Prime. Instead, I suggest we offer an instructor exchange for the upcoming year. That will allow us to place someone on the staff of the Barkin Prime Academy to train both instructors and students into some of the forms of magic that are not normally offered there. Also, by being an exchange of styles and skills, our students could benefit from understanding other ways of looking at magic.”

“What a wonderful idea!” B’Getha offered immediately. Smiles around the table showed that the entire Cadre was in agreement. Nioni immediately asked, “Which instructor would you recommend?”

Stretching his massive 7-foot-tall and broad-shouldered shape out into an intimidating display of fur, fangs, and claws, the Urisian Mage smiled broadly and said, “Me, of course.”

In the rapid flurry of conversation that immediately descended, B’Getha heard T’Kini mutter to herself, “I need to go also. There is some hunting I must do.”
The old Nyri Mage smiled as her former apprentice appeared to slip into a light trance. The expression on the younger woman’s face was familiar, and B’Getha knew that one way or another, Barkin Prime Academy would never be the same again.
-------------------<<< End Snippet 01 VIC PS >>>-----------------------
Enjoy!


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Snippet Time! Snippet 6 from UnFamiliar Pathways - a Familiar Magic Story

Time for another snippet! This one is part of the next book in the Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

Remember that this is not edited! I thought you might like some insight into how the plot is unfolding!

<<<>>>

Jehani was conscious of his fur moving in nervous, swirling patterns. The young male cat was on the edge of emptying the contents of his stomach onto the ground and had no idea why.

Looking around, he saw that the rest of the clowder seemed to be hanging on every word that fell from the lips of the aristocratic Witch. Rosemary d’ Reauvrey, the premier Which of Paris sat in a pool of sunlight. The golden glow intensified her angelic appearance, turning her hair almost into a halo.

Valentina and Borial were perched on a cushioned block next to the chair that the witch had taken. The silvery female Persian had an adoring look in her eye, and Jehani’s nausea increased as he saw how little intelligence was showing from the supposed leader of their clowder.

Borial was not much better, and the young male cat was conscious of a deep feeling of betrayal as he saw that the impressive looking male head of the clowder Council was bobbing his head in agreement with every statement that the blonde Witch made. I have looked up to him since the day my eyes opened. How could I not notice how subservient he was to any Witch that visits, he thought to himself.

Jehani kept watching, trying to figure out the source of the cloud of gray mist that surrounded the Parisian Witch. Ever since the woman had entered the clowder, the cloud had gotten darker and started to extend further away from the woman.

At first, he had thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him. Jehani had been warned many times about confusing the skills of a Familiar with those of a regular Witch. All of his instructors had told him that he imagined things, some of them going as far as to accuse him of prevaricating to make himself seem more important. After a while, he had given up telling anyone what he saw.

Given that background, there was no one that he could speak to about the cloud that he saw, nor anyone that would willingly listen to him talk about how the Witch’s presence made his fur crawl and his stomach turn over. It was like a bad smell that no one else could detect. If only Jack were here, Jehani thought to himself. I know he would believe me if I told him what was going on.

Jehani felt conflicted. He was worried and nauseous to the point of wanting to run outside. Seriously considering leaving the room, the young cat froze in place as he saw what looked like a dark arm of the cloud reaching out from the Witch to touch one of the cats closest to her.

The calico Persian that was covered by the gray cloud was Xaleena, an energetic and bright young cat. She had been relatively subdued since Jack and TT had disappeared, but she was a valued member of the clowder.

Watching in growing horror, Jehani saw threads of what he thought was magic slipping through the greyness of the mist and entering Xaleena’s body. Going in as thin ribbons of glowing light, when the bright streaks reappeared, they were thicker and more intense as they slithered back to the Witch and entered her body.

The young cat’s eyes whipped back to look at Xaleena, only to see that her strong aura had dimmed down to a muted hue. Taking in her suddenly drooping head and the dulled light in her eyes, Jehani realized in terror that the Witch had stolen energy, even a portion of the unknowing feline’s life.

No one will believe me if I tell them what I have seen! Jehani thought. The young male felt like the jaws of a trapper closing around him and the rest of the clowder. Unable to think of anything that he could do, the adolescent cat began to ease his way toward the doorway. He knew he had to get away.

Jehani was only a few feet away from the door when the conversation of Valentina and the Witch suddenly slammed into focus in his mind. Horrified, he heard Valentina suggesting that the Witch might like to see the latest crop of kittens! Even from the distance that he stood, the adolescent cat could see the search in the Parisian’s aura.

Flashing with greedy tendrils of red and yellow edged with black, they formed a visual pattern of the lust and greed that threaded through the words of the Which Rosemary, as she said, “I think that would be a lovely idea. Perhaps, by seeing them earlier in their lives, it would be easier to determine who might be both a capable and longer-lived familiar for me.”

Valentina replied, “Of course, the quality that the Familiars from this clowder provide is unsurpassed!”

Unable to fight his nausea any longer, Jehani slipped through the doorway and stumbled off to the side, so he was out of sight. Bending over, the adolescent cat helplessly regurgitated the entire contents of his stomach, leaving him shaky and weak.

Thoughts spun in his mind, desperate ideas of denouncing the Witch or finding someone who could stop her. Panicked and friendless, the young cat was frozen until a sweet, young voice asked, “Jehani, are you okay? If your tummy is upset, I know where there are some of the plants that Mama gives me when my tummy hurts. I could go and get you some.”

Lifting his head with bleary eyes and aching throat, the adolescent cat looked up to see the bright, glowing aura that surrounded the young kitten, Meko.
Unable to take his eyes away from her gentle eyes and caring expression, Jehani felt something click into certainty within his body. Suddenly determined and resolute, the adolescent male cat straightened up and said, “She will not get you! I do not care what it takes, but you will not be sacrificed!”

<<<>>>