Books, Books and More Books!!

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

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Final Snippet before Publication! UnFamiliar Pathways

It is Sunday and time for another snippet! I am deep into the finish cleanup of the next book in the Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

This story was planned for release today, but it will be another day or two. I do not want to send the manuscript out without following our quality checks, because I feel that it is disrespectful to my readers.

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

-------------------<<< Snippet 12 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

The discussion with Zhanna and Bolormaa had gone well. Neither woman had argued with TT’s plans or desires. Instead, they offered suggestions and guidelines, as well as a variety of assistance. The Seer told TT that she would check to see what her scrying bowl showed her about possible opportunities and dangers. At the same time, the young Witch promised to travel to the BHP and bring items that would possibly assist the Clothier in the construction of protective armor for Jack and the younger Persian.

The young Persian left that discussion feeling supported and loved. Her eyes burning with unshed tears, TT looked over at her friend, Dascha, as they paused by the portal that led to the BHP. Awkwardly, TT said, << I have not mentioned this enough, I know. However, I am honored and have been blessed to have you as a friend. If this is the last time we are together, please realize that you will hold a place in my heart until I draw my last breath. >>

The look in the eyes of the black Familiar spoke volumes, but her comment was typically snarky, << Only till then? I would have expected to have that spot reserved for several lifetimes, girlfriend! You need to work on your gratitude arc! >>

Choking on her own laughter, TT turned and walked into the portal, knowing that her friend understood. As the cat’s foot broke the plane of the doorway, she felt the familiar feeling of rushing through along to the twisted and turned until, between one step in the next, she was walking from a protected courtyard in Blagogarsk and striding into the warmth of a busy bar.

Waiting for TT were two smiling people. One was Madrik, the Anchor of the BHB, and one of TT’s favorite people, the warm and welcoming waitress, Wynn. It was the woman who broke into speech first, saying, “Welcome back, TT. I am so pleased to see you again! Are you here for something specific, or are you chasing after Jack?”

<< Yes, to both. I have several specific errands, but I am also chasing after Jack, >> answered the Persian.

Before either Madrik or Wynn could say anything else, a familiar mental voice intruded, asking TT, << Hello, Princess. Rumor has it that you and that old reprobate of an uncle are going to be making a rescue run back to our former home. Is that right? >> It was one of the Mercenary Guild members that had been initially part of a mercenary company under Dov that was voicing the question.

Surprised, TT answered, thinking that there was no need to keep there plan secret. << Yes, we are planning on going back and collecting whoever has managed to get to Paris for a final rescue run back here. Both Jack and I have been haunted by dreams of those that we left behind. While Jack sees it as his guilty conscience, both Bolormaa and Zhanna think it is a message to us from a deity or at least some higher power. After careful consideration, we decided that it is reasonable for us to attempt this. >>

The man turned to the others at his packed table, putting his hand out with the palm up and saying, “I told you, boys and girls. Now, pay up!”

The other men and women at the table laughed and began to lay money into his open palm. Still wearing a broad grin, the man turned back and asked, << Would you accept several people to go with you? >>

Startled, TT peered closely at the man’s face and saw shadows the same fears with which she had been dealing. Even from halfway across the room, she could feel the burden of guilt that lay on his shoulders, continually battering him with questions like, “How could I survive and escape when so many others died or have no chance to live?”

The Persian’s throat caught with a swallowed sob, and she murmured, << You do understand how dangerous this is and that anyone that goes has a good chance of being severely injured or killed? >> When the man nodded wordlessly, TT responded, saying only, << It would be helpful if we had a couple of humans to go with us. As determined as we are, at the bottom line, we are cats. No opposable thumbs and without a voice that most people can hear. I tell you, it significantly cramps my style! >>

The mercenary Witch immediately said, << My name is Fyodor, and I want to go with you. I keep dreaming about two members of our company that stayed back in Brasilov. I keep picking up feelings of fear and pain from them and hope that somehow they can get to Paris. Whether they make it or not, I can at least feel like I have done my part. >>

<< Welcome Fyodor. I need to go to the Clothier and talk to her about some protective armor. I believe that Jack and I will be ready to go within another day or so if that is possible for you. >>

Smiling, the mercenary Witch answered, << That is perfect. It will give me plenty of time to arrange for supplies for us and get them packed in a reasonable manner. >>

An abrupt movement at the bar startled TT and drew her gaze. A massively built man in the undress uniform of the new Mercenary Guilt had come to his feet and was striding back toward where the Persian cat was talking to Fyodor. Reaching the cluster of people around TT, the man completely ignored Madrik and Wynn. Locking his eyes on TT’s face, a gravelly mental voice said, <<Gennady Igorovich Kalinin. I wish to go also. >> Then as if tortured, the man added, << Please! >>

In a private aside to TT, Fyodor whispered, << Gennady never volunteers for anything! He is immensely powerful but as quiet and stubborn as the Earth. >>

Equally softly, TT asked, << Is he an Earth Elemental Witch? >>

<< Yes. >>

TT began to reply, planning on putting the man off, but then she saw the horror and the buried agony that shattered into shadows behind his eyes. Despite her best intentions, TT heard herself say, << Then, you may come with us. Welcome, Gennady, to what may very well be a suicide mission. >>

-------------------<<< End Snippet 12 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Last Snippet for UnFamiliar Pathways! Publishing this week!

It is Sunday and time for another snippet! I am working on several books right now, but the one on the last chapters is the next book in the Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

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. And luckily that publication is coming soon!

-------------------<<< Snippet 11 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Khan Oktai’s mental voice answered her thought, saying, << Probably for the same reason that very few people have heard of Familiars that are raptors. This world does not have much of a place for our kind any longer. >>

<< I do not understand how that can be true. Everywhere I look right now, the Familiars are helpful. And looking back at my life, I can see where the Witches I know would all have benefited and been thrilled to have someone closer than a friend and intertwined in their Magic, >> Chimeg answered.

<< The situation is made worse by the lack of qualified Russian Witches. Since Familiars will not bond with any Magic user that has slipped over into the darker uses of their Gift, and many Magic-user lines have lost the means or knowledge of maintaining their own honor and ethics. There simply are not many Witches or Mages left in this world that can bond with a Familiar. >> With that one last comment, the massive Black Eagle sprang into the air and headed out on his planned sentry sweep.

Chimeg knew that this was his periodic check to see what lay ahead of them, as well as a double check to detect any long-range pursuit that might have started. The young party leader felt more comfortable knowing that the big Familiar had taken responsibility for this aspect of their safety. However, she believed this subject needed to be reopened again, and soon. An amorphous sense of pressure and dread told her that it was important to continue the discussion, and any delay would be dangerous.

Muttering to herself, the young Journeyman started to think about the force that was driving her, realizing in a flash of insight that they needed to get to their goal quickly. At first unsure of why, Chimeg cast her mind around, trying to perceive the source of the warning. The young woman only had a split second of warning before a vision crashed into her, swamping her senses. A swirl of partially seen images surrounded her as she was pulled down deep inside the River of Time with only enough time to issue one incoherent mental alert as the familiar wrenching feeling of a Timedive overtook her.

Spinning and twisting in the familiar, but still frightening waters of the River of Time that ran through all aspects of time and choice, Chimeg concentrated on maintaining her sense of self. She knew from her training that without a clear boundary, a Seer would quickly be lost in the illness that inevitably killed all of their kind. Dochin had taught her well, so her practiced discipline kept her from fragmenting as the Timedive dipped her into the chaos of the River.

Focusing on sensory input that anchored her to the current reality surrounding her physical body, the young woman replayed the feelings of how her body stretched and moved during her ride, as well as the pungent smell of her horse and the sound of the Eagle Familiar’s takeoff. With these landmarks to help her, Chimeg managed to center herself well enough to take in the images that flashed with importance as they slid in front of her spectral vision.

Scattered among the fragmented glimpses of unconnected events, the young Seer managed to grab many of the fragments that glowed with the unique light she had learned to recognize as indicators of importance. Now bombarded with those pictures that she had saved, the Seer felt bruised and pummeled.

Chimeg dug deep inside of her core, mining her spirit and her strength of will to successfully navigate the minefield that she had ingested. Holding on with determination, and fighting the weakness of her body and doubts in her own ability, the young Journeyman fought the barrage to a standstill. Clutched into her insubstantial hands were a small number of unmoving images that would provide her guidance and clues on what lay ahead.

Her spirit body shook with exhaustion, and Chimeg could feel her heart stuttering and the rasping of breath in distant lungs. Frantically, she pieced the stabilized images together until, with a sudden flash of intense light and a loud snap of sound, the partially-seen images coalesced into a coherent message.

Feeling like she had been stabbed to the heart, Chimeg screamed at the top of her immaterial lungs, “We have to be there in three days! How are we going to make that distance?”

As soon as the tortured words ripped out of her throat and exploded into the strange atmosphere, Chimeg felt two large hands reach up from within the ground and grab her ankles, beginning to pull her down. Twisting and turning, the young Seer fought against an enemy that she had never encountered before. Frightened but unwilling to even divert one erg of energy or sliver of attention from where she was fighting for survival, Chimeg screamed, “Help Me!”

As the massive hands yanked her forcibly into the dirt, the young Seer felt a smashing entry of someone that she knew intuitively was her ally. Large arms swooped around her and brought her to cradle against a massive chest. A rumbling voice in her mind said, << I have you! >> before the exhausted Seer began to slip into the cushioning embrace of exhausted sleep.

Just as she lost consciousness, Chimeg’s body thrummed with the sound of a massive snarl. Comforted, rather than terrified by the reverberation, the young Seer’s fading senses brought her a powerful voice, roaring, “You shall not have her! She is mine, and I am hers!”

-------------------<<< End Snippet 11 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Monday, June 22, 2020

Another Snippet for the Familiar Magic Series - Book is Almost Done!

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 Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

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!

This book is almost finished with only a few chapters to go. Hopefully, in the next week, it will be published and I can turn my focus to finishing the next Vorcian book! Wish me luck!!

Remember!! This is not edited and may be altered before publication. And luckily that publication is coming soon!

-------------------<<< Snippet 10 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Conveying the information to those that had no mindspeak, Chimeg and Gan Gerel turned back to the Eagle as Ganhsuk asked urgently, “What are they trying to protect from? Is it Blood Mages?”

The big avian huge beak one more time, and said, << Blood Mages would be easier. I could see some of the Tibetan Temple dogs in the back of the wagons, guarding the children, while a whole group of Tibetan mastiffs prowled around the perimeter. All of these I have seen at the Familiar Trials, so I am going to assume that they are also Familiar lines that have decided to emigrate. >>

Exchanging glances, Geriel and Chimeg both looked stunned. Almost whispering, the Healer asked her companion, “What are we going to do with them?”

The Seer shrugged her shoulders and said, “Dochin set out a call to Familiars. I would expect that is who responded. If they are Familiars, we can have a reasonable discussion and figure things out as a group.”

Geriel raised her voice, panic underlying it, and screeching, “How can you be so calm? It sounds like removing a whole horse herd and almost a zoo!”

First Chimeg and then Batsorig started to laugh. Pretty soon, all of the humans were laughing until tears ran down their faces. Struggling to stop, the Seer said, “I realize that is not what we planned, but that is what we have. I am sure that Dochin did not make a mistake when she called.”

The great Black Eagle ruffled his feathers and remarked, << I hope that viewpoint will survive the fact that there is a whole group of Bankhar dogs, and that is one of the things that the horses are trying to guard against! >>

Almost afraid to ask the question, Chimeg queried their scout << What else did you see? >>

<< I saw movement in the woods and brush, but could not get a clear view of the animals that skulked there. All I know is that most of them are larger than the typical cat Familiar. >> stated Kahn Oktai.

Murmuring aloud, Chimeg looked over at the warrior woman and stated, “I think this is very interesting. I cannot think of a large cat that has the capability of being a Familiar. Can you?”

A totally unknown voice pounced into the conversation, << Yes, we are all Familiar lines. The Blood Mages have been preying on our kittens, and the call from the old Seer fell on receptive ears. Three lines decided to come with you. Will you honor Dochin’s promise? >>

Immediately, Chimeg responded, << Of course. As my mistress promised, you are welcome to come with us. >>

Appearing as if they had sprung out of the ground were three different large cats. One looked like an extremely large house cat with a dense fur. Chimeg recognized it as the so-called Steppe cat, a tough ring-tailed cat that she knew did equally well in the desert and the cold mountains.

The other cat was approximately the same size but was more delicately formed. Moving with sinuous grace, it approached Chimeg and sat with its tail curled around its feet in front of her. The young Seer nodded her head in greeting, but her attention was pulled to the Healer, who uttered a strangled sound of fear.

Following her gaze, Chimeg saw something that she never could have predicted. Standing in a majestic pose, as if it wanted someone to paint its picture, was a huge snow leopard. The sun glinted off its light fur and accented the dark spots. Against the dramatic coat, the animal’s silvery-gray eyes appeared almost to glow. Moving closer to the humans, it stalked instead of walking.

The young Seer could hear the abortive movements of the warriors around her after their weapons. Only the Eagle Hunter stood still.

When the large cat was only a few feet away from Chimeg, it tilted its head to the side and scrutinized the young woman. There was a movement in the gaze, and the Journeyman Seer was conscious of a wave of approval.

Switching his focus to the other members of the party, the big leopard examined each of them before turning its attention to Geriel. Tilting his head further to one side, the big cat opened its mouth, displaying its huge fangs. Suddenly, a sound erupted from his throat, “Mew!”

There was a thump beside Chimeg as the Healer fainted, crashing onto the ground. Instantly, Ganhsuk swept the woman up in his arms and moved her away from the cat.

Trying with difficulty to keep a straight face, Chimeg looked at the leopard and said, << That was really cruel! >>

Making a purring sound, the leopard responded, << But you have to admit it was pretty funny! >>

-------------------<<< End Snippet 10 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Monday, June 15, 2020

I won the writing contest! Cycle 5 in Inanna's Game on Wenebojo!!

I am stoked! The game people give us prompts and we have to pick on from each of three categories and incorporate them into a story. It was a blast! And I got the most votes!!

I am already looking forward to the next one!

Another Snippet in the Unfamiliar Pathways book!

It is time for another snippet! I am working on several books right now, one of which is the next book in the Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

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. And luckily that publication is coming soon!

-------------------<<< Snippet 09 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------
Take a deep breath, Chimeg turned determinedly back toward her mount, finally ready for their trip to start. Before she could take more than two steps toward her horse, the pounding of horse hooves announced another entry into their drama.

There was a groan from one of the guards, and a curse from the other one. Grabbing her bow and one of the arrows that lay in a convenient quiver strapped to her saddle, Chimeg turned toward the sound of the threat.

The young woman had her arrow knocked and her bow ready to fire by the time her body had spun around, but she immediately lowered the bow as she saw two women pulling to a coordinated and controlled stop amid the milling horses. Glancing over at Geriel, Chimeg was not surprised to see the Healer openmouthed with astonishment.

The two unknown women that sat comfortably on their sturdy horses were very different but equally composed. One was obviously a warrior, dressed in the distinctive metal topped hat, chained protective shirt over a padded undercoat, and bloused trousers tucked into fur-edged boots. A sturdy pack animal stood patiently behind her, with no visible leading rein.

The other woman was much younger, not much older than a girl. Her hair caught in braids and head topped with a circular fur hat, she wore a horsehide jacket with a broad leather and metal belt. A prominent bag lay against her thigh.

However, the way the younger girl was dressed was not what drew the eye and made the watchers gape in surprise. It was the huge black Eagle that sat in upright splendor on the young woman’s right forearm. It had its enormous talons closed around her padded and protected limb, and the colossal predator turned bright and knowing eyes to examine each person in the area.

One of the guards was the first to find his voice. Yanking his mount around to confront the woman warrior, he demanded, “What are you doing here, woman? I do not remember inviting you!”

She replied in a resonant contralto, keeping her voice even although the spark in her eyes warned Chimeg that this was a true warrior and would not tolerate disrespect. “I am here, Temujin because this party has two women as leaders. Men cannot guard women as well as we can. If you are going into danger, you need all the help you and Ganhsuk can get.

The guard protested again, “You have no right to be here! Return to your family and the village where you belong!”

“That is enough!” The words ripped through the air, freezing everyone in place, including the young Journeyman Seer that had uttered the words without thinking. Carried by a rush of anger that felt like fire along her nerves, Chimeg stalked over to the suddenly pale-faced guard and demanded, “Who are you to give orders for this party? The Healer asked you to accompany us. She did not tell you to try to boss everyone around, did she?”

When the man opened and closed his mouth several times without uttering any words, Chimeg reached up and grabbed his belt, yanking him off his horse to clatter onto the ground. Leaning over him to demand an answer, she ground out, “Did she?”

“No, no.”

“No, what?” snapped Chimeg, letting the fury she felt show in her face. The other male guard had dismounted and walked over to Chimeg with a rolling gait of a born horseman. “What Temujin would say if you had not just scared him out of ten years growth is that we understand that you and the Healer are in charge of this journey. I am positive that he will not make this mistake again.”

Chimeg asked, “And what about you, Ganhsuk? Will you willingly obey a female leader?”

Offering her a formal salute of a warrior to the khan, the ax bearing fighter said with a contented smile, “I am very pleased to serve you.”

Turning her back on the two men to stalk over to where the two women waited warily, Chimeg looked at the female warrior and demanded, “Are you here just to provoke Temujin, or are you sincere in your desire to come with us? Do you realize what it is we are going to do, and the dangers that are associated with it, or are you so anxious to prove yourself in a battle that you will take any opportunity without considering the risk?”

The warrior clad woman broke into a broad smile, cheerfully saying, “I have considered the risks, and I had a long talk with Ganbold yesterday about what it entailed. Although he is more than a little frightened of what you have to do, I would like to be part of the effort to save at least a portion of our heritage. It matters not to me where we go or who we fight. Instead, I look for someone to take my allegiance, a person who is worthy of my honor. Someone who will lead and understands the responsibility of that leadership.”

Tilting her head to the side, Chimeg stared at her and asked, “What makes you think that I am such a person?”

Smiling so broadly that it looks like her face was going to split in two, Batsorig answered, saying, “You came back and stopped Temujin in his unthinking male attempt to take over. Then you were equally willing to kick my butt if necessary. There was no condescending behavior from you directed toward either one of us. Your questions were strong, and I can tell that you have fire in your soul, Yes, I believe you are that person.”

Very clearly from behind her, Chimeg heard Geriel mutter, “Crazy people! I am surrounded by crazy people!”

-------------------<<< End Snippet 09 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Another Sunday, Another Snippet. Familiar Magic Series!

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 Familiar Magic series, titled UnFamiliar Pathways.

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. And luckily that publication is coming soon!

-------------------<<< Snippet 08 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

Recognizing Perun’s sign, the old Seer watched in amazement as the bent and angled arms of the symbol appeared to snap off, separating from the center wheel-like hub. Each of the outer pieces began to glow in different colors. Glyphs appeared on each one, radiating a powerful golden light.

Counting them quickly, Dochin realized that there were six of them. Although unusual for most kolovrots, the Mongolian woman knew that the six-armed version stood for balance and cooperation.

I can see where this is appropriate, she thought to herself. After all, I am looking for six Magic users. Each of them has a different strength and a different approach to the use of Magic. That would mean that each will be marked with the type, and that is probably what forms the glyphs. Witch, Mage, Wizard, Priest, Sorceror, Healer. Every one of them will be needed.

Convinced that she had found her tokens, Dochin poured her energy into the next stage of the ceremony. Pungent smoke filled the air as Ganbold lighted a series of different grasses. Swirling winds of sage and other sweet herbs filled the Seer’s nostrils and energized her.

Chanting aloud, Dochin let her words fly from her mouth into the bowl, soaking into the surface of the tokens. Speaking of sacrifice and possibilities, the old woman entreated those that would take up the burden to gather Familiars and Hidden Folk, taking critical apprentices and journeyman with them. She warned them that her visions showed that only if they joined with Zhanna would they survive and thrive.

The old woman could feel her body start to fail, and she pushed harder, sending messages of where her vision had shown the different beings joining together. Black spots floated through her eyes, and she felt her chest ache as breath came with increasing difficulty.

Knowing that she only had a few more seconds, Dochin flung her hopes and fears into the tokens, trying to give each of the fated bearers as much support as she could.

As her consciousness trembled, the old Seer saw flashing glimpses of Rovers, travelers that lived a nomadic lifestyle. She also saw swirls of horses, cats, and dogs, all congregating for a great exodus. Last of all, she saw the face of a roughhewn man, and a massive hound leaned against his shoulder. They were seated on a wagon, in transit to someplace. Intuitively, Dochin knew that he was a central actor in the stage of life on which they were cast.

Desperately trying to hold on, Dochin knew that she was exhausted and drained. Her attention wavering, she could feel the power of the bowl starting to dissipate when Ganbold cried out, “I see Bolormaa and Zhanna in a garden!”

Releasing her hold on her vision and the bowl with relief, Dochin sagged against the table and raised streaming eyes to Ganbold. She can tell that the young Seer was caught in his Sight. His eyes were glowing, and a strange light outlined his figure.

Dochin struggled to speak but stopped her efforts when Chimeg asked, “What else do you see?”

“The flowers and the plants in the garden are strange. I have never seen anything like them. The sky is a different shade of blue, and the plants have strange-colored foliage, purple, teal, and pink. Both the women look happy, and Bolormaa has three little ones in her lap. The small ones are all Hidden Folk, and the Seer is smiling as she strokes them gently.

Dochin found her voice finally, saying, “At least one of my daughters is safe. Thank you for telling me.”

The next instant, the old Seer almost slipped from her chair, and both Ganbold and Chimeg leaped to hold her. Before they could call for help, Geriel came into the room with a wild look in her eye and trembling hands.

Immediately, Chimeg demanded, “Geriel, what is wrong? Why do you look like you are both scared out of your mind and excited?”

The trembling in her hands increased as the Healer held an object out in front of her. Glowing with intense blue light and decorated with a blinding gold glyph, both young Seers were astonished to see the token they had last seen a few moments before in Dochin’s bowl.

What Geriel was holding in a grip both shaking and firm was the token for the Healer.

-------------------<<< End Snippet 08 FAMM UPW >>>-----------------------

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 >>>-----------------------

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!”


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

First Badger Hole Bar Story on Wenebojo!

I am very excited that my first BHB story has released on Wenebojo. The storytelling site is ramping up to provide an inclusive platform for people of varying abilities. I love the optional closed captioning, adjustable colors for the visually challenged, and ADORE the fact that one license lets 4 people watch and listen to the stories of their choice at the same time.

More of my stories will be moved up over the next few months, hopefully including my Unfettered Mage and Standard of Honor series. If there is one you really want to have available, please let me know!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sunday Snippet Time - Next book in the Badger Hole Bar series - Wedding Fashion - Snippet 01

If it is Sunday, then you need to see pieces of what I have been working on! Just in case you think I am being lazy...

This snippet is from the next Badger Hole Bar book, another book about the Clothier with Kris Endicott. The book is titled Wedding Fashion.

Here is a short snippet for you! Hope you enjoy it!
-------------------- BHB WF Snippet 01 --------------------
Genevieve stood in the middle of her studio, surrounded by her assistants. A vibration and hum in the air resonated in her bones and made it impossible for her to stay still for any length of time. The Clothier wasn’t sure if her tension was in response to the ball of swirling colors that hung in the air in front of her or because everyone in the studio shared that sense of tightened nerves and pent-up energy.

Over her bond with Doucet, the woman could feel a level of gleeful excitement that was something new from her typically contained partner. His emotions were so strong that even her assistants could read them.

“Ooh, what is it?” eagerly asked Yoko, the silk pincushion. Her two back folded-fabric petals were tilted up off the cutting table a little. All of her pins stood halfway out. The ends of the pins looked almost like extended eyeballs, arranged in a fan. It was as if Yoko had eager spectators trying to see whatever was going to occur.

“Doucet, come on. You’re killing us with the suspense,” Genevieve said in an affectionate tone. “Tell us what the surprise is.”

The magical building had been hinting all week about an experiment he’d been trying based on an image plucked from Genevieve’s memories. Doucet’s constant teasing had pushed her to the limit, and finally, today, she had threatened him with not allowing further access to her memories if he didn’t share his results.

That restriction was not something that Doucet wanted to occur. In particular, the memories of comic books his Anchor had recently shared were very intriguing. In his long existence, they were a unique art form and offered him a sizeable creative scope to exercise in his chosen media.

Knowing he had pushed Genevieve as far as he could without her retaliating, the BHB Clothier Shop gave into his Anchor. Genevieve felt Doucet chuckled through their mental link, and the ball of magic in the middle of the studio began to rise and expand. Amid the misty swirling colors, a dancing fountain of water rose from the floor, ebbing and flowing as skirling notes emerged.

<< Are you ready? >> Doucet asked in her mind.

Genevieve put her hands on her hips in annoyance and glanced around at her four companions, who were nearly as agitated by anticipation as she. “He asks if we’re ready,” Genevieve told them in disbelief.

Gingher raised up, his blades open menacingly. “Doucet, I swear, if you do not get on with the show, I will cut to shreds that painted velvet image of dogs playing poker that you love so much.”

Yoko and Henri were silent. The pincushion had already made her opinions known. From his position around Genevieve’s neck, the French tape measure patiently waited. He knew there was probably more drama coming, but he saw no reason to add to it right now. Isaac, the old Singer sewing machine, was just as impatient as the Clothier. With a roar of his gears, he added his voice to the demand, “Torturing us does no good! You are acting like a child!”

A flash of apology slipped over the bond to his Anchor while Doucet pushed a strong force through the ball of light and into the floor of the studio.

On the heels of that force, the fountain of water split into two plumes of the pocket universe’s living water dancing and twisting around each other in a joyous display. Faster and faster, they swirled. Colors from the lighted mist around them balanced and shaped the water as the pillars grew in size. The liquid suddenly exploded as if it had hit something of substance, hidden from the spectators’ view.

The water flew everywhere. It could have soaked everything, but the liquid evaporated before impacting any surface or fabric. The suddenness of the explosion had everyone scrambling to get out of the way. The lack of wetness quickly stopped their reactions and made them feel both foolish and furious.

A general outcry happened, and Doucet murmured, << I’m sorry! >> over and over again. When the furor died down, Genevieve demanded, “What were you thinking? That could have been a disaster!”

<< In all your memories, this type of unveiling was accompanied by the teasing for days ahead of time and for something dramatic when you finally saw your gift. I just wanted to give you something that would match those special times. >>

<< What special times? >>

<< Your birthday, of course! This is your present, and according to your memories, everyone is supposed to tease you about what you’re going to get and then stage some dramatic show. >>

Just then, all of the living water vanished, and the last of the brightly colored mist disappeared. Where the whole showy spectacle had been, there now stood a bolt of black fabric laying flat. About a yard of the cloth was unwrapped from the rest and lay draped across the studio floor.

The completion of the extravagant light show was an abrupt shock to the senses. It felt to the Clothier like a boisterous party had just left the room, leaving a profound silence. The dark, somber color of the textile lying on the floor pulled everyone’s eyes. There was no sparkle or shine to the fabric, a deep cavern of shadow made physical.

The Clothier stood motionless, stunned in surprise, and for once wordless. She felt shocked to her core, with waves of hot and cold sliding over her skin and rapid changes. Genevieve could sense the concern from Doucet over their bond, but the stunned woman was incapable of any response.

Henri’s voice was raised, sounding shocked and trembling a little bit. “Madam! Why did we not know that it was your birthday? Are we not your assistants? Never would we have insulted you by forgetting to celebrate a milestone in your life. Please forgive us!”

Isaac immediately started his motor and began to sing a common song of celebration. He was quickly joined by Yoko and Gingher. Genevieve didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The only thing at the top of her mind was pent-up emotion.
-------------------- BHB WF Snippet 01 end --------------------

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

UnFamiliar Pathways Snippet 04

Here is the other Sunday Snippet that I forgot to post! Sorry about that, but was very busy writing. This snippet is from the next book in the Familiar Magic series, UnFamiliar Pathways. I plan on publishing this book sometime in the next few weeks, but I wanted to give you some idea of how it was shaping up!

Remember that this is unedited!
----------------------FAMM UFP Snippet 04 ----------------------------
Numbly, the men wandered around the pitted streets, unable to take in the enormity of the disaster that had occurred. Blackened timbers and crushed walls defaced every building that was even partially standing. The smell of old smoke clogged their nostrils and made them choke on the contaminated air they were forced to breathe.

At one point, a plume of ash had risen in the air, and the entire group of men had charged over in the hope that someone or something was still alive. Smashing their way through the debris that had fallen over the doorway, they arrived wide-eyed and adrenaline-powered only to find that a weakened beam had finally collapsed, raising a small cloud of the fine ash that filled the room.

One of the men had tripped, catching himself against the carcass of what had been a cabinet. Looking down to see what he had stepped on, the man collapsed to his knees sobbing as he tried to gather the bones of the small skeleton that he had disturbed. Two of his teammates helped him to rise, their own faces riven with grief.

The three of them carried their tiny burden out into the shattered square with the contaminated fountain. There the mercenaries laid the remains of another one of their friends and family at the end of the heartbreaking line of corpses and skeletons.

Motioning the men to join him by one of the vehicles they had used to return home, Peotr Tesorov rubbed his face fiercely, as if he could scrub his own tear tracks from not only his skin but his soul. Looking around at the twenty shocked and grieving faces of his men, the Mercenary Witch Commander said, “There is no sign of conventional weapons being used in the destruction of Brasilov. As far as we can tell, the carnage here was done with magic.”

“At least your father, Mayor Nikolai, fought back. The half-melted grenade launcher was fused to his bones. Most of the others were helpless,” growled Boris, Peotr’s second-in-command.

“Rolan and I found this close by the group of skeletons in the desecrated church,” offered Kasimir in an angry, deadened tone. His hand noticeably shaking, the ordinarily phlegmatic mercenary handed Peotr an object wrapped in shielding cloth. The commander raised his eyebrows at the atypical treatment but trusting his men, he laid the bundled item down and carefully unwrapped it, using the tip of his dagger.

As the last layer of concealment slid off the item, Peotr drew back suddenly with a horrified expression on his face and his gasp ripping a biting line through his chest. Staring as if he could not believe what he was seeing, the man cried out, “Blood Mages! No wonder the village had no protection, no way to fight back. My father may have deliberately fought so that they had to kill him. At least, they did not get to torture him to death.”

Boris crowded in and covered the malevolent-looking amulet once again. His eyes met Peotr’s and their gaze clung for a moment as a conversation only possible between old friends occurred. Taking a deep breath, the commander turned to his men and said, “It is possible that moving the amulet has notified the Blood Mages that we are here. We need to do what we can for the remains of our loved ones. Unfortunately, we also need to leave as soon as possible. There is no point in adding to the power that they derived from the pain and suffering the Blood Mages caused here.”
------------------End FAMM UFP Snippet 04 -------------------------

Monday, February 24, 2020

Social Combat Snippet 02!

Here is another snippet from the next book in the Unfettered Mage series, Social Combat. Remember that this is unedited!!

The book is coming along well and we expect to publish next week!

----------------------------TUFM SC Snippet 02 ---------------------------------

Twisting and turning, the stingship attempted to cut through the trough among the buildings of the city, using the civilian infrastructure as a shield as it fled to the North. Undeterred, one of the assault shuttles peeled off in pursuit while the other one slid over on the far side of the two armored vehicles that were preventing forward movement along the street.

The remaining shuttle dropped down to less than a hundred feet above the ground, maintaining a position a hundred yards to the east of the hostile armored cars. The people in the room with Ruth were cheering as long slender ropes or cables slipped down from both sides of the shuttle, and the figures of AMF Marines in full battle armor slid rapidly down to the ground.

Quickly forming up into fire teams, a Marine with a broad portable barricade shield was walking point while behind him came two other Marines. One of each of the pairs held a heavy mobile energy weapon, while the other carried one of the new projectile weapons that Ruth had purchased for her forces.

As soon its mobile units were dropped, the shuttle rose up higher in the air and brought its forward weapons into play.

Someone in the crowd yelled, “Those idiots do not even know that anyone is there! Apparently, their pilot does not know how to use a radio.”

Ruth looked at the display, trying to see what they were talking about and finally realized that the enemies that had been advancing from either side of the street toward her trapped men had no warning of what was about to happen. A vicious snarl appeared on the Mage’s face as she hoped the next few moments would show some payback.

Just then, the AMF assault shuttle fired its forward weapons. To Ruth’s surprise, the shuttle pilot targeted the center of the jointed transport that was blocking the rear Borachland vehicle. Dazzling in intense colors of gold and red, the hungry beams lashed out, carving huge holes in the massive armored conveyance that the hijackers had brought to bear. Fires surged up in reflective fury, as the armor fractured and melted.

The splash of the energy incinerated the closest attackers. These had been repeatedly firing into the rear of the pinned transport. The speed of their disappearance was almost more than Ruth could comprehend. One second there were eight men firing weapons that were chewing through the back of the Borachland vehicle, and the next, there were only ashes blowing in the wind.

------------------------End TUFM SC Snippet 02 ---------------------------------

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Next Book in the Familiar Magic Series is Unfamiliar Pathways !

Snippet Sunday!
The book is coming along, with TT and Jack on a mission. Here is a snippet to remind you of the story! Please remember that this is unedited!

--------------- FAMM Snippet 03 -----------------------
“I worry too,” said Zhanna to her grandmother, “I know that you have tried to see how those we had to leave behind are doing. Have you had any success? Do you know anything that has happened?”

“Nothing yet. My scrying into that world is getting better, but it’s still very fragmented. I’m afraid that part of my difficulty is the terror that I have in my heart for our old world.”

“I wish there were something I could do, but Star Child Grace was very clear. I cannot go back.”

Zhanna’s Baba reached a comforting hand over to clasp her granddaughter’s wrist. Opening her mouth to say something, a sudden flash of light changed the color of the Seer’s eyes and her expression altered.

The voice that emerged from the old woman’s mouth was different than the smooth and warm tones that Zhanna loved. Instead, a harder, harsher sound came out, “Beware the changes. They are coming for the good and the evil. Sadness rides their coattails while destruction becomes protection. Love and sacrifice fuel their energy, fearful in its power. You will see arrivals and departures in the days ahead. Take each as if it were your loved ones’ last moment, for they tread an unfamiliar pathway. One that you cannot travel with them.”

Zhanna gasped in shock, the words hitting her like blows. A split second later, the light disappeared from Baba’s eyes, and the old woman’s unconscious form pitched forward toward the table. Shedding her chair with a force that sent it clattering to the ground behind her, Zhanna caught her grandmother in her arms.
Instantly, Dascha and several of the Hidden Folk were in the room, providing extra support and asking excited questions. Dascha pushed the hardest, demanding across their bond, << What happened? Who was talking? >>

<< Baba had a vision and a Power spoke through her. >>

<< Oh, that doesn’t sound good. >>

<< Later. We need to talk about it later. >>

After a very short time, Zhanna’s Baba roused enough for her granddaughter and the other helpers to get her into bed. The exhausted Seer was so tired that she fell asleep before Zhanna could even kiss her goodnight. Worried, Zhanna looked down at the woman she loved more than any other person in the world and noticed how frail she was.

“Don’t worry, we will stay with Baba,” said Noma.

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need anything or if something more happens!”

Feeling a fog of concerns and worries following her like a starving dog, Zhanna left her grandmother tucked in the bed, watched by Noma and another one of the Hidden Folk. Guilt and a desire to help fought with the knowledge that she didn’t have to do everything herself.

In this case, knowledge won, but Zhanna was unable to shrug off the feeling of impending disaster. Joining her, Dascha remarked, << I am very worried about that prophecy and TT. It has all the stink of someone interfering in our lives. >>

<< Again. >>

<< Yes, again. >>
----------------------- end Snippet 01 FAMM ----------------------

The Next Book in the Unfettered Mage is Social Combat!

Snippet Sunday! 

Here is a snippet from it! Remember, it is unedited and may be different when the story is published!
-------------- TUFM Snippet 01 SC -----------------------
The ForceX Bar was having its own Founders’ Day celebration. There were so many people that the building was unable to hold all of them, and tables had been set up outside in the street along the entire block. As was traditional, this day was one when had many roadways in Arkken Port were entirely or partially closed off, and almost every tavern and bar in the entire port took advantage of that.

This was the most popular of the planet-wide celebrations. Typically, the weather was good, and everyone could wander in and out of the buildings without being concerned about too much heat or the dangers of snow and ice. This day was no exception to that expectation.

To celebrate the freedom that the weather had most graciously granted them, the bar’s doors were all propped open so that people in a convivial mood could swirl in and out, talking to different groups of friends without having to juggle their drinking glasses and door handles.

According to Luka, the head bartender, they had planned for double the number of usual customers. The bouncers pegged it roughly closer to ten times the number of people stopping in to chat with each other and staying to drink and eat. Ruth and Pawlik had wondered about the press of people, but when Pawlik pointed out that there were a large number of demobbed Space Force people in the crowd, Ruth understood immediately.

Luckily, Luka had laid on far more food and drink than they currently had customers, although some of the Mage’s security team had noticed that no less than three fast supply runs had already been made.

Bending over to make a comment to Ruth, Margot murmured, “I know that word of the shooting competition has gotten around. It is very seldom that a competition of this sort can be held where everybody can see. Considering how many mercenaries and former Navy spacers we have in the crowd, let alone talking about all the Marines, there are a lot of people here that want to evaluate some of the announced contestants.”

Ruth laughed, murmuring back, “I assume you are talking about how many people want to see you shoot!”

“No, there is such an interesting mix of people that have entered the competition that I have heard that there are even people coming from off-planet to watch. We have noblemen, mercenaries, former Marines, and even people that design weapons for a living.”

“I do not think Pawlik has heard about all the unexpected attendees. I wonder what he would say if he knew?” mused Ruth in a thoughtful voice. Suddenly smiling a gleeful, broad grin, she added, “I do not believe we should tell him. It can be a surprise.”

Exchanging glances, the Mage and the cohead of her personal security detail both wore gloating expressions. Margot fought back laughter as she added, “After all, you are sponsoring a very unusual take on a shooting competition. Not only are you providing a winning purse for the top three ranked people, but anyone entered into the contest will have a chance to fire some of the newest guns from Victin’s company.”

“It is the least we could do, after all the help that Victin has given us. Besides which, I want to make sure that his company gets all the good press that it can.”

Margot quirked her right eyebrow at her liege Lady, saying severely, “You are not fooling anyone. Otherwise, you would not also be demonstrating some of the latest toys that Hiroko Mishi has built for us. That is just going to make some of the people die of envy.”

Ruth smiled transformed into something a lot sadder and somehow harder before she said, “That was the best way I have of warning people in general that they should not be attacking us. Between the weapons and armor, I am hoping that the message gets passed around.”
Suddenly thoughtful, the two women went back to observing the crowd in silence.

A whirring sound and the parting of the crowd heralded the advance of Alan Culhane, the man that Ruth and Pawlik had picked to head up their nascent intelligence and military strategy group. Although paralyzed from the waist down, the vigorous looking man was a real force to be reckoned with and every Marine that Arkken had respected the man tremendously.

“Hi, Alan, have you decided if you are going to enter the contest or not?” asked Ruth.

“I am having problems deciding. Typically, officers do not engage in competition with the troops. It is not a good thing either way. On one side, you could win and make the people who are on the sharp end every day look bad. The other way, someone beats you, and you look less capable. It does not seem to me that there is any way that entering the competition could be beneficial for me to show off my shooting skills.”

Ruth’s voice was a little sharp as she answered, “I do not agree with you. Showing that you are competent will communicate that you have reasonable expectations when you send your troops into something where they have to fire a weapon. If you are less then perfect, it teaches them a valuable lesson that no matter how much experience you have or how good you think you are, there is always somebody who might be better.”

Alan stared at the Mage wordlessly for a few seconds. Ruth was not sure what he was looking for, but his intense stare into her eyes felt like he was trying to pull information out of the depths of her soul. Sliding into an internal calm space, the Mage waited for his response.

“My Lady Mage,” Alan said formally, “I believe that you are right.”

The hover chair pivoted as sharply as the Marine commander that Alan used to be had ever done, before moving toward the sign-up table outside.

Ruth and Margot looked at each other as identical grins grew and broadened on their faces.
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