An Interview with Angela Ackerman

Woot! I have awesome luck. Not too long ago, I managed to score an interview with the awesome Becca Puglisi. I’m happy to announce that now, I have managed to score an interview with her partner, the amazing Angela Ackerman. As you all know, I’ve recieved a ton of help with improving my writing thanks to their Emotion Thesaurus. I’ll go into greater detail about it another day (I can’t believe I’ve not written about it before), but in the meantime, here’s my interview with Angela. Hope you like it.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Angela Ackerman: Instructions like this always make me feel like I’m attending an A.A. meeting….my name is Angela, I live in Canada, I write books, it has been three weeks since my last confession meeting interview… Angela Ackerman

The “official” stuff is that I am one of the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and a few others, I run Writers Helping Writers with the fabulous Becca Puglisi, who is basically my twin (the better one) and when I do get around to writing fiction, I tend to pen the dark side of middle grade rather than the fluffy, fun side. I also like teaching writing, dreaming up tools that writers need, and then creating them. Oh, and I believe in kindness. Trite I know, but true. My attitude is if you can do some good, then do.

R.w.F: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

A.A.: Not a book release in the traditional sense, but then I’m not really someone who colors in the lines. Becca, myself and the creator of Scrivener for Windows, Lee Powell are collaborating on something called One Stop For Writers, which is basically a cool online brainstorming library that takes all our work (writing books and online thesaurus content) and puts it together in one place. Beautifully searchable and cross-linked, it provides a wealth of information writers can access as they create, so they write more efficiently and describe more effectively. There are a few other things on the site as well, including new tools we’ve built and a one-of-a-kind generator. One Stop will evolve over time as Becca and I conjure up more useful tools, and Lee works his techno-voodoo to bring it all together in an innovative, intuitive way. One Stop launches on October 7th and we are pretty excited (translation: as excited as preschoolers swimming through a vat of sugar.)

R.w.F: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent, or a some combination?

A.A.: I guess a combo best describes me? All three of our books are self-published, but we have traditional translation deals with publishers in Korea, Romania, and we’re waiting for the paperwork for Japan.

R.w.F: What made you chose to go this route with publishing?

A.A.: A few things. First of all, we had an odd project, a book that was, more than anything else, a set of lists. The traditional market (especially in 2012) liked things, well, traditional. We knew it would take a long time to find a publisher willing to take a project like ours on. We were also seeing copycats of our work cropping up and knew if we didn’t get our book out there, someone else would take the idea and run with it. Self-publishing was a terrific option for us, and I am so happy we went this route. We’ve turned down more than a few traditional offers since, simply because publishers as of yet have anything to bring forward that makes fiscal sense. Besides, Becca and I like that we are in control of the end product. It would be hard for us to give that up.

R.w.F: Are you exclusive to one platform?

A.A.: No. We publish across all platforms, print and ebook, and offer PDFs to those who wish using a service called Gumroad.

R.w.F: Do you write by the seat of your pants, outline, or a combination?


A.A.: For fiction, I am a “plantser,” meaning I plan some, pants some. For NF, I am a strict planner.

R.w.F: What does the standard advice of “Write what you know” mean to you?

A.A.: This is “safe” advice that should only be loosely adhered to: write in genres you read voraciously, unless that genre doesn’t exist: then experiment and create your own by blending the genre elements you enjoy best. A better rendition of this advice might be: write what you are passionate about, and care enough to get the details right for your readers.

R.w.F: Now for the more unusual questions. None are X-rated.

R.w.F:  What is your current desktop picture? (would you share it with us?)

Angela's desktop

R.w.F: The last song you listened to?

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

R.w.F: You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal. What kind do you make?

A.A.: Easy–toasted peanut butter and bacon. Try it and you’ll know why.

Thanks for these fun questions Rob. As I said, I like people who don’t always color inside the lines. J


And thank you, Angela for agreeing to do this with me.

10 common myths about evolution

Originally posted on The Logic of Science:

Evolution is the single most important concept in all of biology. It is absolutely vital for understanding both the history of life on earth and why our modern organisms have their current traits and behaviors. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most misunderstood concepts in modern science. Much of the confusion stems from creationists’ faulty arguments, but even those who accept evolution often don’t really understand it. Therefore, I am going to describe and debunk ten of the most common myths and misconceptions about evolution.

Myth 1: Evolution is just a theory

This is arguably the most common myth about evolution, and it is probably creationists’ most well worn trope. It is also a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. I’ve explained this in more detail before, but briefly, evolution is both fact and theory depending on exactly what we are talking about. The idea that all modern…

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An Interview with Becca Puglisi

This one is rather special to me as it features one of the folks who really helped me improve my work. Without this lovely writer, and her co-author, I’d still be struggling with rewrites.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.IMG_3114

Becca Puglisi: Hi, there! My name is Becca Puglisi, and I’m one of the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. I also write YA historical fiction and fantasy. I also keep busy running my blog, Writers Helping Writers, which has become something of a hub for descriptive writing.

R.w.Fo: Tell us about your latest or upcoming release, please.

BP: My co-author, Angela Ackerman, and I are really excited about a totally new journey that we’re undertaking. We’ve teamed up with Lee Powell, a talented software designer, to create a software product for writers wanting to elevate their storytelling. One Stop For WritersTM is a website that contains a host of reference materials that can help writers improve. As writers ourselves, the three of us understood the frustration of always having to stop drafting, revising, or arranging our stories to go and research different things: multi-sensory descriptions for a setting, how to effectively convey a character’s emotion, figuring out which events from the past may have helped to mold a hero into who he has become. At One Stop, we’re providing resources like these, along with customizable tools and worksheets, craft tutorials on difficult areas of writing, idea generators, and more—all in one convenient place. Our hope is that in creating this software, we will also create the one thing writers really need: more time to write.

R.w.F.: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent or some combination?

BP: Our books are self-published.

R.w.F: What made you decide to go this route?

BP: Well, self-publishing, wasn’t our first choice. We’d always had the dream of going the traditional route—getting the call from an agent or editor and being accepted by a publisher. We had just started down this road when copycat sites starting popping up around the Internet, where people had lifted our Emotion Thesaurus content and just pasted it onto their sites. We realized that we didn’t have time to find an agent, then an editor, and wait 12-18 months for the book to be published. So we decided to do it ourselves and get it out there as fast as possible.


I love telling this story because it’s a great example of how there isn’t one correct path to publishing. Self-publishing made sense for us; we had a large fan base, we were firmly established on social media, and nonfiction books can do well when self-published. I’m also partnered with a marketing genius in Angela Ackerman, which was hugely beneficial. So, even though we had no idea how to do it, we knew it was the right thing to do. And it’s worked out really well for us.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those wanting to start writing?

BP: There’s so much information out there about how to succeed as a writer, which can be really overwhelming for new writers, because it’s impossible to do it all. So, in my opinion, there are two must-haves.


First, make time to write. Do it in car line, on your lunch break, before the family wakes up or after they go to sleep. Take those moments whenever they come, and just write.


Secondly, you grow exponentially when you study the craft. Attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to the blogs of knowledgeable authors and industry professionals—whatever works for you, do it. I would also strongly advise new writers to get into a critique group or find a critique partner. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t know your problem areas, and we’re often too close to our own writing to see those difficult spots. Having someone else read your work is instrumental in learning what you need to work on; conversely, reading other people’s work opens your eyes to problem areas, different styles of writing, and new techniques that you can then apply to your own writing.


And now for a few fun questions:


R.w.F: What is your favorite soda?

BP: All of them. I’m literally addicted to soda in any form. There’s some kind of psychological issue there that I haven’t figured out; I just know that if I drink it at all, it doesn’t matter what parameters or limits I impose, I will soon be mainlining the stuff all the day long. So I’ve had to cut it out completely. I’m now developing an addiction to Snapple…


R.w.F: What is the Last song you listened to?

BP: Blue Collar Man by Styx. This is currently my five-year-old’s favorite song. I hear it a lot.


R.w.F: What is your favorite desktop picture?

BP: It’s one of my family. Before my mother-in-law passed away last year, we arranged for an extended family photo shoot. This one was taken of my immediate family, and it accurately captures some of the personality of each of us. Props to the photographer, Jennifer Stonebrink at Yankee-Belle.


R.w.F: Cool stuff. Thank you for agreeing to this interview, and the enlightening (for me) stuff.


BP: Thank you for having me, Robert!


If you want to check out those awesome books mentioned by Becca, you can find them at some of the links below:

Emotion Thesaurus

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

An Interview With Susan Kaye Quinn

Today, I get to interview the wonderful Susan Kaye Quinn. She’s someone I get to gush over fun science stuff with – like scientists freeze light – and, I’ve been able to read a couple of her books (I’ll provide links throughout and at the end).Susan Kaye Quinn 300 pix

R.w.Foster: What is your process for getting in the mood to write?

Susan Kaye Quinn: Belting out “Let It Go!” at the top of my lungs, scaring the cats as well as all my fears away.

R.w.F: In my opinion, the greatest enemy of a writer is Procrastination. How do you defeat this dreaded beast?

SKQ: By openly attacking my fears with a steak knife and some creative action; as well as actively immersing myself in my work once I start. These two have greatly cut down on my procrastination activities.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those who want to start writing?

SKQ: Write a lot. Write some more. Don’t endlessly fiddle. The dichotomy between writing fast and writing well is a false one – the more you write, the better you’ll get.

R.w.F.: What do you label yourself as?

SKQ: I don’t like labels – for me or anyone else.

R.w.F: What were you doing at midnight last night?

SKQ: Wishing I was asleep.

R.w.F.: Name one movie that made you cry.

SKQ: If it’s well done, almost any movie can make me cry.

R.w.F: If you were a type of tree, what would you be?

SKQ: Weeping Willow

R.w.F.: If you were a color, what one would you be?

SKQ: Polka Dot

R.w.F.: When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?

SKQ: I don’t know, but it was certain to be something my kids did.

R.w.F.: Would you rather be immortal, but dependent on blood, or age 1000 times slower than everyone else?

SKQ: I’d rather have nanites in my brain that will enhance my intelligence, make me independent of my wetware, and give me an immortal robotic body. It’s possible I’ve written a story about this.

R.w.F.: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

SKQ: I’m deep into writing my YA SF Singularity series – about a future where most of the world has ascended into hyper-intelligent human-robot hybrids, except for the Legacy Humans left behind, preserved for their biodiversity like the rainforest. The first novel of the series, The Legacy Human, tells the story of Eli, a Legacy Human boy who wants to be an ascender… until he finds out he’s something altogether different than he thinks. I’m working on the second novel, The Duality Bridge, which should release in August. Along with the novels, I’m writing a series of companion short stories, the Stories of Singularity, that explore all the dark corners of the Singularity universe that I can’t get to with the novels. The first of those is out— Restore, a story about a med bot ruled by unconditional love, rather than the three laws of robotics.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

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More about Sue:

Coming Soon!

Next Monday, July 20, 2015, I’ll begin to share interviews with some fantastic authors I’ve met recently.


Soon after, I’ll share reviews of some of their work, excerpts and more of my own works in progress.


Speaking of my work, I’ve discarded the old Rise of the DarkWalker stuff because it was becoming boring, even to me. I’m hoping you like the new version even more. Maybe you’ll even like it enough to comment.

Rape culture? What Happens When a Feminist’s Son is Accused of Rape?


Shame on her, indeed.

Originally posted on Women Against Feminism UK:

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women’s rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice’s looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. “CALL ME. URGENT. NOW.”

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought…

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Rise of the DarkWalker Chapter 5

I stumbled through the underbrush, wondering where the hell Weijia was taking me. She’d set a pretty harsh pace, too. Moving across open ground, I’d have kept up with ease, but moving though the groundcover left me tripping and stumbling like a toddler learning to walk.

“Where are we going?” My breath leaped from my lungs in short, rapid bursts.

“My clan. The Shaman will be able to help you with the lichen on your stomach.”

I stopped. “You’re taking me to an enclave of trolls? Don’t they hate humans?”

She turned with a sigh. “No, Carter. I’m taking you to my tribe. We’re all half-bloods.”

I used the time she paused to catch up. “What’s the hurry?”

“Do you wish to be chained again?”

“Do bears speak Krogan?”


“The answer is no.”

“Then why not say so?”

I hung my head and resumed walking. “That’s what you get for trying to be poetic. Dumbass,” I muttered at myself.

“Did you say something?”

The tone of her question told me she hadn’t heard my mumbling. “No. How much further?”

“We’ll arrive near sunset. Can you keep up?”

“Sure. As soon as we get to a path, or something.”

“Paths would make it easier to track us.”

That didn’t make sense. “Wouldn’t one make it harder to follow us? Heavily travelled versus forcing a trail through the woods and all that.”

She glanced to the sky and then back the way we came. Turning to me, she shook her head. “The path will make it easier to track us, but we’ll move faster on it.”

A flock of birds exploded into the air, chirping and screeching. I looked to my right where they’d taken off from in time to see a couple trees collapse with crashing thuds. Without waiting for input from my companion, I turned and bolted in the opposite direction from the destruction.

I raced past trees and bushes. Hurtled a stream and ducked under a low hanging branch. The path was crossed without a thought. A sapling provided enough support to allow me to whip myself behind a boulder without slowing. A root, or rock, or something ended my running.

I belly flopped down an embankment. Dirt, leaves, twigs and other debris went down my shirt. I slid into a wide, yet shallow, brook. I was soaked, scraped up, and a lot cooler.

The water turned out to be rather refreshing. I lifted my face from it and cleared the liquid from my ears in time to catch the last of Weijia’s words.

“ —ter! Why did you run off?”

I blew water from my lips, trying not to think of what was upstream and pissing in as I lounged in the brook. “I ran from whatever was knocking down the trees.”

“Why? You’re the Walker of Worlds.”

“One, I don’t know how to use my powers, nor what they might be.” I stood and sluiced some water from my body. “Two, if it’s big enough to knock down growing trees, it’s big enough to run from.”

“But, you killed Belial.”

That should have been my first clue that Weijia wasn’t necessarily on my side, but the trembling aftereffects of my sprint and the breeze chilling me in my wet clothes caused that to pass by unremarked. I sloshed through the water and held out my hand. She helped me climb the slippery bank, and I pulled off my shirt. Holding it out between my hands, I spun it in a rope and then folded it over, twisted it more. Water squirted from the wrung out deer hide, but it remained damp.

I sighed and tossed it over my right shoulder. I noted her watching me closely, but thought nothing of it. “Please tell me I at least ran in the right direction and we’re now even closer to your clan.” She shook her head and pointed back the way we came. “Damn it.”




As it neared sunset, the surrounding woods grew thicker. The trees grew closer together and seemed to have distorted faces. ‘Pareidolia and an overactive imagination equals rough night sleeping tonight.’ The denseness caused a premature twilight to fall. As we hiked, I gradually became aware the noise of the forest became quieter.

The drumming of a woodpecker seemed to become the wail of a scared child. I stopped and listened intently, but only heard the hammer of the bird’s beak as it searched for insects. I scratched my head and then resumed walking.

A fog rose from the ground and rolled steadily through the woodlands. Indistinct whispers came to me on the breeze.

“Weijia, do you hear that?”


“Sounds like a group of people whispering nearby.”

We halted and she listened. After several minutes, she shook her head. “I don’t hear anything.”

I raised my eyebrow, but continued on. The ground became softer with each stride. It was like I trudged through mud. When I took my next step, my foot sank into something warm, wet and fetid. The rank odors of sour milk and rancid meat hit my nose. I recoiled from the sensation of squirming maggots around my ankles and fell to the forest floor.

My heart lurched when I discovered the earth was dry and nothing was on my foot.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“Are you okay, Carter?” Weijia came over and knelt beside me.

“Has anything seemed odd to you?”

She shook her head. “The fog may seem a little spooky if you’re not used to it, but all is normal.” She pushed to her feet and offered me her hand. “Come on. We’re not too much further away.”

I accepted the hand up and the apple she tossed to me. I bit into it with a crunch. I wondered where she’d found the red fruit. ‘Oh well. Doesn’t matter.’ The flesh was both sweet and tangy. It reminded me of a Winesap. I absently glanced down to take another huge bite and discovered bloody teeth with chunks of hairy skin. I launched the disgusting thing away with a cry and puked.

I coughed and spat, trying to clear my mouth of the horrid taste of vomit. I shrugged her hand off my back when she touched me.

Standing upright again, I pinned her with a glare. My body was hot. “What the fuck is wrong with you, woman?”

She backed up. “Carter?”

I closed the distance between us. “Why would you give me something like that?” Each of her steps backwards were answered by one forward from me until her back was against the trunk of a black walnut.

“Something like what?” Her voice was high. “Carter, what’s wrong?”

I pointed at the remnants of the apple I’d been eating. “That!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you don’t like apples.”

“Does that look like a fucking apple to you?”


“Are you kidding me?”

I was so close to her face and yelling so hard, flecks of spittle landed on her cheeks. She cried out and cringed away. “Whu-what did I do? Why’re you so mad at me all of a sudden?”

“Look. At. That.” I all but bit the words out as I jerked my finger at the discarded fruit.

Shivering, she turned her head to see what I pointed at. “I don’t know what you want me to see. It’s just a half-eaten apple.”

I whirled to pick it up and stopped in my tracks. The only thing on the path was an oddly lumpy red spheroid with rough white pieces exposed where I’d bitten pieces away. There was no sign of the teeth or the skin. “What the fuck is going on?”

Jennifer Steel Chapter 18

His fist came to a halt inches from her face. His index finger flicked out and tapped her nose. “You know better than to sneak up on me, Kirei-chan.”

She wrinkled her nose in that cute way she had. “Sorry. I was entranced with your awkward dancing. Do you have seizures often?”

“It’s called a kata, as I’ve told you before.” He scowled.

Jennifer smiled. “You keep straining like that and you’re gonna crap yourself.”

He couldn’t help it, he started laughing. It was so much fun being around Jennifer. After a few seconds, he grew more serious. He looked her up and down, taking in the turquoise karategi and the tape in her hands. “Couldn’t figure out what to do with the tape, eh?” She shook her head. Rob plucked the roll from her fingers. “This is to help protect your joints, Kirei-chan. Hold out your hand.” She raised her right arm and he began to wrap the adhesive tape around her wrist and hand. When finished, it looked like she had a fingerless tape glove on her hand. As she flexed her hand, getting used to the new feeling, he told her to raise her other hand. Moments later, he had her left hand done as well and had moved down to her feet.

Jennifer sat on the floor to make it easier for him to wrap her feet and ankles. She stared at him when instead of rising to his feet after the taping was done, he began to caress her leg. He grinned at her and slid his hand further along her calf up to her thigh. When he lightly squeezed the back of her thigh with his thumb and index finger, she squirmed away, giggling.

Rob rose easily to his feet and held his hand out to her. She took it and allowed him to pull her to her feet. When she stood this close to him, her heart started to beat a little faster. He smelled so good; leather from the sheathe, Brut aftershave and a clean, masculine scent that seemed to be all his own. ‘If only I knew what he was thinking,’ she thought. ‘Then I might-’ She pushed the thought away. It wasn’t the time or place for thoughts like that. Rob positioned her so that she was a few feet away from him. She enjoyed his strong hands on various parts of her body: her legs as he adjusted her stance, her arms so they were ready to defend her and her waist as he tried to get her to relax. ‘I’ll never tell him that I find it hard to relax when his hands are on me like this.’

Rob shook his head. “It’s gonna hurt if you don’t loosen up.”

“I’m loose, let’s go.”

He nodded. “I’ll start slowly. Don’t worry about countering, or blocking. Just duck each swat. When we have increased to a sufficient speed, we’ll move forward, okay?”


He delivered a long slow swing at her head. It came in so slowly, that she put up her arm as he’d taught her two weeks ago and lightly punched his chest. He raised his eyebrows and she scowled at him, daring him to say anything. Instead, he fired his left hand at her faster than she could see. His open hand tenderly touched her right cheek. She blinked as he grinned. ‘Point taken, Rob.’ Instead of continuing with the lesson, he instead stroked her cheek, lightly trailing his fingertips along her jaw and caressed her lips. ‘His fingers are so gentle. I like the roughness of his callouses. It’s manly.’ She looked into his eyes, trying to mask her thoughts. His pupils were dilated, making his eyes look black. Her breathing came a little quicker. He stepped forward and she took and answering step backward. He stepped forward and she retreated a step once more. They did this twice more, Rob’s grin growing each time.

“Kirei-chan,” he crooned. “Why are you retreating?”

“I’m not. I’m advancing to the rear.”

He paused, the words slowly trickling through his Jennifer filled brain. When they finally sank in, he guffawed. Once again, she had caught him off guard with her wit. She gazed at him, amusement and…something else dancing in them. He approached her again, but this time the wall of the training room was behind her, leaving no place for her to retreat. He stood so that his chest was brushing against hers. She tilted her head up to gaze into his eyes.

“Worth, what are you-”

He tilted his head down and slanted his mouth across hers, catching her with her lips parted. His mouth moved against hers, kissing her with an intensity she had never felt before. When his tongue slid into her mouth and lightly touched her own, she automatically wrapped her arms around his neck as she began to caress his tongue with her own. ‘He’s been eating blueberries,’ she thought briefly. His lips were firm, yet soft. Demanding, yet giving. His scent filled her nostrils as she held him tightly to her. Her pulse thrummed in her veins as she melted against him.

Rob pulled back a bit and began to rain feather light kisses along her jaw as she tried to catch her breath. He kissed his way around to her ear, nibbled it for a second, or two, then moved down the side of her neck. She held him tightly to her, nuzzling the side of his neck. Her breathing was short and shaky as adrenaline raced through her. She ran her hands through his hair, enjoying the silken softness of it. He nibbled the side of her neck before lightly biting it. Jennifer gasped as heat flooded her belly and spread outward. Shortly, Rob’s mouth returned to her lips. She pushed him back a bit and playfully kicked his shin. “What the hell, Worth? What are you doing?”

He chuckled. “You have to use every weapon at your disposal.”

She scowled, eyes narrowed. “Oh really?” She then kicked his shin a bit harder this time. It wasn’t enough to hurt him, she didn’t want that. He hopped up and down on his left leg, clutching his right shin and rubbing it.

“Ow, ow, ow! What the hell, Kirei?”

As he hopped, she stepped forward, gripped his right arm, pivoted into his body and flipped him over her shoulder with a judo throw he’d taught her last week. He slammed to the mat, hard, with the air knocked from his lungs. She stood over him, her hands on her hips. “How’s that for using every weapon at my disposal?”

He started laughing. Before he could formulate a response, Danijela’s voice sounded in the room.

“Mr. Worthington, we have a situation near Fort Avenue. Take your new recruit and investigate.”

“Roger that, Danni. What are the particulars?”

“According to the reports, it seems a wild dog attacked a jogger near the Koba Café. Local Leo’s are on scene. Be careful, you two.”

“Change up, Kirei. I’ll meet you back here in five minutes. There will be a tactical vest in your locker.”

“Roger that, Worth.”

Rise of the DarkWalker Chapter 4


The screams echoed off the stone walls and faded away. A large fire pit sent dancing shadows through the room. Another scream sounded as a dark-haired dwarf in blood begrimed clothes pushed a finger into a wound in a human’s chest. The dwarf withdrew his finger, wiped it on a rust brown rag and picked up a quill pen. Dipping it into an inkwell, he made a few notations and blotted the parchment.

He gestured and a pair of orcs turned large cranks, rotating the table with the prisoner until it was flat. Taking up a thin bladed knife, he sliced a line from the man’s left shoulder, across his chest to his right. Then, he did the same at the human’s waist, from hip to hip, ignoring the wails of pain. A line was cut down the center of his torso, connecting the other two. The prison shrieked even louder than he had before. Blood gushed from the new wound. The dwarf placed the blade next to other sharp instruments and picked up a wooden bowl. Gathering some of the contents in his bloody hand, he sprinkled it over the human while chanting.

The orcs watched the black powder begin to glow and change color as it liquefied. Wherever the magic liquid touched, the blood withdrew into the man. The two looked at each other, and then back to the dwarf. He pulled the wound wide, eliciting a scream that sounded like it tore the human’s throat. To the amazement of the orcs, no further blood flowed. They stepped closer to better see, drawing the dwarf’s attention.

“You appear puzzled, my friends.” His voice was smooth, powerful. They nodded. “Allow me to hypothesize. You desire to know why the human’s lifeblood no longer flows.” Another nod. “The conjuration is named ‘Prohibere Sanguinem.’ It maintains life while I conduct my experimentations.”

The orc to the left spoke. “Why do you experiment, Master?”

“I seek knowledge of better interrogation techniques.”

The one on the right tilted his head. “What information do you seek?”

Drago stared at him, stone faced. “You’re joking.”

“I meant that you would need better interrogation techniques for.”

The Dark Dwarf’s countenance brightened. “Oh. It is for when the demons bring me Keeper Dearbhaile. She has the most delicious secrets, I’m sure.”

A door at the far end of the room opened. Moving with a swiftness that belied their bulk, the orcs slipped between their master and the opened door. One orc drew a hammer from his hip and muttered a command word. Seconds later, the small tool has expanded into a huge Warhammer with a wicked looking spike at the opposite end of the blunt one. The other unhooked a coiled chain and stretched it out, spinning the large spiked ball at the end. The two prepared themselves to fight to their deaths to protect their lord from the intruder. None were allowed to disturb him in his laboratory.

When the human dressed in deer skin, with shoulder length, curly brown hair entered, the orcs dropped to a knee and placed their left hands over their right chest, covering their hearts and offering their fealty. She flicked her gaze over them and walked past, ignoring the orcs’ salutes. She didn’t care for the ugly creatures, always cringing in the face of a superior foe, and then plotting behind its back. . Like the demons, but mortal. Drago continued his experiments, unconcerned with who might have entered. The orcen warriors would have given him enough time to prepare for any enemy. Though she hadn’t seen him in battle, she knew enough about his training regimen to believe he’d be a formidable enemy.

She curled her thick fingers into fists at the thought and then reluctantly opened them. This was not the time to challenge him. For now, his enemies provided enough of a challenge to keep her satisfied with being his second. ‘I wonder how Bjorn and Fenrisúlfr are doing? Do they miss me?’ The twins had been her friends and self-appointed guardians for as long as she could remember. She gave herself a mental shake. ‘Focus on the present. Leave the past where it belongs.’

She clapped her fist over her heart. The deer hide muffled the sound, but she knew the keen ears of Drago picked it up. “Belial has captured Dearbhaile.”

“Of course he did, my friend.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Did you doubt me?”

“No. Just the half-demon. He’s constantly coming up short against Carter.”

Picking up a rag, he surprised her with a laugh as he cleaned his hands. “Belial has a twisted sense of humor.”

“What do you mean?”

“He enjoys setting up his opponents to think they’ve bested him only to later strike them down.”

Her eyebrows went up. “He enjoys being cut down with his own sword?”

“The pure white broadsword?”


“Razorwing cannot harm him. It’s made from his own essence.”

“But, I’ve seen him both decapitated and run through with it.”

“Do not trust your eyes where the Prince is concerned. Or any of your other senses for that matter.”

“Are you trying to tell me he is invincible?”

“Of course not. You just have to know how.”


She walked over to the dangling human. Dried blood covered the areas of his flesh that remained whole. His remaining eye was fogged, whether from pain, or blindness, she didn’t know. With the speed of a striking snake, she punched her fist through his heart, putting him out of his misery.

“Why did you do that, dear Sera?” The dwarf’s voice held only curiosity.

“You can’t learn anything from the tortured.”

“On the contrary. I’ve learned quite a bit from this one.”

“But was it true, or was it a lie to get the pain to stop?”

Drago scratched his smooth cheek, sending scales of dried blood to float through the air. “What do you mean?”

“Back in my world, torture is banned because you cannot gain reliable intel from your victim. People will say anything they think you want to know, just to get the pain to end. It is a sadistic war crime to torture.”

He raised his hand. “Your people try to uphold laws in war?”

“Not during, but after. And only some laws. Usually moral ones.”

He leaned his hip on this table. “Even though morals are subjective?” She nodded. “Humans are odd creatures.”

“We’re odd because we have figured out what works and what doesn’t?”

“No, because of the war crimes. Who decides what the crime was versus what was acceptable in war?”

“The winners.”

He laughed, his head thrown back. “Perfect.”

Sera snorted. “I had a feeling you would approve of that.”

He sobered. “Where is Dearbhaile now?”

“Belial is awaiting her delivery to him, and then he will bring her directly to you.”

“Excellent.” A bell tolled once and then went silent. “Excuse me, my dear. I must see to this.”

She clapped her fist to her chest. “I will go prepare the troops for the invasion.”

Drago dipped his head in acknowledgement and hurried off. The young woman watched him go. ‘I will find out what the hurry is all about soon.’

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