Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C5, S1)

Previous subchapter here

 

 

Chapter 5

Subchapter 1

I didn’t mention the attack to anyone. I don’t know why. I must have gotten some of the creature’s stench on me because Angriz delicately told me about my odor.
“Carter, you stink. Ask Keeper Dearbhaile to throw the soap at you, I mean to you, and head west of camp. There you will find a hot spring. Wash. Please.”
“Hey, Angriz,” I said.
“Yes, Carter?”
“Stop being polite and tell me how you really feel.”
“Fine. I don’t think I have ever smelled something so-”
“Alright!” I shouted with exasperation. “I get your point! I smell! I’m going!”
He wasn’t done yet. “Thank you, my friend. You have no idea how much that means to me!”
“You are an asshole,” I said.
I glanced over my shoulder in time to see him try to hide a laugh. I asked Keeper Dearbhaile for the soap, and as soon as I had it, I promptly pegged it at Angriz’ head. Just when it was going to collide most satisfyingly with the back of his head, it stopped and slowly tumbled in mid-air. It then flew back into my waiting hand.
“Please do nae play-” she began.
The soap flew back through the air on a perfect trajectory and slapped into the back of Angriz’ head.
“With the soap, Carter,” Keeper Dearbhaile continued drily.
“What the-?” Angriz said, rubbing the back of his head as he turned.
I didn’t wait. I turned and ran for where he’d said the spring was. I saw the spring had formed a wide and deep pool. Just as I reached the water’s edge, something walloped me in the back of my head. The world rotated crazily, and I landed in the hot spring. I surfaced, spluttering. I heard Angriz’ booming laugh even though he was back in camp. Figuring he was responsible for my sudden dunking, I cussed him under my breath. Eventually, I called him everything but a half-dragon.
I pulled off my sodden clothing and began tossing it to shore. My pants got caught in a tree. It looked like the tree was trying to put my pants on while they were upside down. I began to laugh at the absurdity of that thought. Then I thought of how I must have looked muttering under my breath like a crazy man, and laughed even harder. Soon, I started laughing about hitting Angriz with the cake of soap and clutched my ribs, I was laughing so hard. I stopped laughing abruptly when I heard a twig snap nearby. I submerged my body until all that was showing above the water was from my upper lip to the top of my skull.
I hunted around with my eyes until I saw Keeper Dearbhaile coming towards the water. I froze in shock as she began calmly removing her robes.
“I’m still in here, Keeper Dearbhaile!” I shouted.
“I know,” she replied.
“What are you doing?” I said with some trepidation.
Okay, I admit, I only pretend to be smooth around the ladies. I always heard, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” and figured it applied to everything. It doesn’t work with women. Unless they somehow know I’m still fourteen.
“I be gettin’ ready tae bathe,” she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Not while I’m in here!” I said, nearly panicked; what if the worst should happen?
“And why not? ‘Tis just a bath. Elven bathe together all the time. ‘Tis only natural. How else are ye goin’ tae get yer back clean?”
I was unable to continue the argument because just then, the full moon came out from behind a cloud, revealing her nude form. My mouth dried up and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was entranced by my second sight of a live, nude female. Her soft brown hair was pulled back and twisted into a braid. Her pointed ears were revealed fully for the first time. They weren’t as surprising as I thought they’d be. Then again, I was distracted.
She had firm, up thrust breasts, a line outlining her abdominal muscles, a defined “V” shape where her abs descended to her pubis, which had no hair. There was a very evident inward curve to the outline of her body at her waist and a sharp flare outward at her hips. She had muscular, yet feminine legs and delicate feet. She performed a swan dive into the water, revealing the graceful curve of her back, and entrancing half-moon indents above a round, plump bottom.
Keeper Dearbhaile abruptly surfaced next to me and squirted the cake of soap into my distended mouth. I spluttered and gagged while she laughed merrily. I hurriedly scooped water into my mouth and gargled before spitting it back out. I growled as I lunged to duck her under the water, but she escaped me as easily as an eel. She popped up behind me and called my name. I turned and received a face full of water as she used the flat of her hand to shove it at me.
I roared, laughing as I vowed to get her. Keeper Dearbhaile laughed, then swam quickly out of reach. I waited until she surfaced. While she still had her back to me, I sunk under the water and arrowed right at her. I intended to surface quietly behind her and ambush her.
Keeper Dearbhaile must have cast a spell of telepathy because when I surfaced, she was facing me and she slapped both hands at the water’s surface, splashing me once more. She dove beneath the water again and came up some distance away behind me. I turned and looked at her.
“Come and get me, Carter,” she sang.
“No, I think I’d rather you come for me,” I said.
“Are ye certain?” she said.
Without thinking, I said, “I am.”
Keeper Dearbhaile held her arms out beside her, her hands appeared to be grasping something unseen. The water boiled and rose five feet from the surface. She curved her arms up to her shoulders, and rotated her hands in my direction; the water followed her every movement. I saw what she intended too late. Her arms shot out towards me and the water rocketed at my face.
“No!” I shouted, right as about twenty gallons of water hit me as if from a fire hose.
It was over in less than a second. I blew water from my mouth like a horse.
“That’s it!” I called. “I surrender!”
Suddenly, Angriz’ voice boomed over us like a peal of thunder.
“LOOK OUT BELOW!!!” he bellowed.
A split second later another deluge hit me as he cannon balled into the pool. He turned to Keeper Dearbhaile as soon as he surfaced and using his big hands, sent one, two and three waves at her. She had a chance to let out a squeak, then they all hit.
“All right!” I crowed. “Two on one!”
I swam up beside Angriz and prepared to help bombard Keeper Dearbhaile. Angriz cut his big right hand down and across his body, hitting me with a four-foot wave.
“No way!” he said with a laugh. “Everyone for themselves!”
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New Erotica Work In Progress (WIP)

Hope you like.

 

 

Her First Time Making Love

 

 

“I don’t get it. How is it that with someone as beautiful as you, no one has ever made love to you?”

 “I’m not beautiful, for one.”

 His mouth fell open. “You are not beautiful? Are you daft?!”

 An elegantly arched eyebrow went up. “Not at all. I know what I look like.”

 “Shall I enumerate the ways you are beautiful?”

 “This shouldn’t take long.”

 A corner of his mouth curved up. She was quickly learning how to snark. “Let’s start with your most beautiful feature: You’re highly intelligent.”

 She shook her head, sending auburn tresses flying. “No I’m not.”

 He lightly pushed her shoulder. “You’re a flipping author for sobbing out loud.”

 “I’m not published, nor am I signed.”

 “Well, ho-lee shee-it. You are absolutely correct: You’re a fucking moron then.”

 “Hey!”

 “I’m being facetious, Baby Girl.”

 “You don’t have to be mean to be sarcastic.”

 “True, though it does help make the point.”

 “To-om.”

 The inflection she put into his voice warned him he was close to her limits. “I’m sorry. I’ll try not to do it anymore.”

 She lightly shoved his shoulder. “You’d better not.” Her hazel eyes twinkled. “What other delusions have you thinking I’m beautiful?”

 “You have a wonderful sense of humor.”

 “That reminds me of a joke.”

 “Everything reminds you of a joke.”

 “No, that’s you.”

 He nodded. “That’s true.”

 “Do you want to hear it, or not?”

 “Yes. Please.”

 “Three blondes walk into a bar. You’d think that one of them would have seen it.”

 He chuckled and shook his head. “That was so delightfully bad. I love it.”

 She beamed. “I knew you would.”

 “The way your eyes sparkle puts the stars to shame.”

 She turned pink. “Thank you.” Her voice was so soft, he almost had to strain to make out her words.

 “You’re breasts are wonderful.”

 “They’re a 36C, and they sag. That’s what happens when you breastfeed.”

 He lightly cupped her left one and softly squeezed it, eliciting a moan. “It feels marvelous.” He trailed his hand down her belly. “Your abs are nicely defined.”

 “I’m a runner.”

 “I know.” Both hands rested on her yoga pants clad hips, his thumbs pointing towards her sex. “Your hips have a delightful swell to them.” He gave them a gentle squeeze with slightly more pressure under his thumbs.

 Her hips arched forward in response. “Mmm.”

 “Do you like that?” His voice was rougher. She closed her eyes and nodded. “Open your eyes and tell me.”

 Her eyes opened, revealing the irises had darkened and her pupils dilated . “I like it.”

 “Why?”

 “Your thumbs are on one of my spots.” Her voice was noticeably huskier.

 He smiled lazily at her. “What happens if I do this?” His thumbs slid closer to her sex, and pressed a little more firmly.

 She gasped as her hips bucked under his skilled hands once more. “That.” It was a moan.

 Tom tugged her down to the couch, and lay back against the arm. She lay on the outside, and he on the in. “Kim?”

 “Yes?”

 “What do you think of this?” His index finger traced the outline of her.

 Her whole body arched, and she purred. “Stop teasing me, Tom,” she pleaded.

 In response, he slid his finger over the front of her yoga pants, starting from the curve of her crotch, and slowly moving up to her waistband. He delighted in the way her body reacted to his movements: The bucking of her hips, the arching of her back, the increased heat of her sex, the moans, and the sallower breaths.

 When his fingers slipped behind the elastic at her waist, the heat and humidity they discovered took his breath away. She was really turned on.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C4, S8)

Previous subchapter is here.

 

 

Subchapter 8

Near sunset, we stopped and began to set up camp. Angriz had been silent all day. Once we had a fire going and tents set up, he gruffly said he would return and headed off into the growing darkness.

“Any idea as tae what be goin’ on with Sir Angriz?” Keeper Dearbhaile asked.

“Indeed,” I said. “Now, I’m not a telepath, but I’d be willing to wager my services for three years, no task refused versus you answering five personal questions that he is angry we aren’t going after Lady Orwen and by what happened in Rivorei.”

“What kind o’ personal questions?”

“Any I may devise.”

“That wager doesn’t seem fair tae ye.”

“Don’t worry about me. Do you accept?”

“Nae.”

I smiled. “Are you afraid I am correct?”

“Nae. I just think if yer goin’ ta risk servitude, Laird Blake, I should as well.”

I laughed. “Are you certain? Remember, I have traveled with Angriz for a while.”

“Aye. I be certain. The loser gives one year of absolute service tae th’ other fer one year. That, I’ll agree tae.”

“Done,” I said. “While we wait for his return, how about we begin preparing dinner?”

“Good idea. How does rabbit stew soun’?”

“Excellent, milady,” I said. “Would you do something for me Keeper Dearbhaile?”

“Certainly, milord.”

“Call me Carter.”

“Really? Thank ye so much!” she gushed.

“I don’t get it. Why are you so happy that I invited you to use my first name?” I said.

“Oh, ’tis a gran’ honor, mi-, um, Carter. For me people, th’ use o’ birth names without titles be only for ones considered equals.”

I grinned, then volunteered to get the rabbits. Before I could head out, Angriz strode into the firelight. He carried a four point buck under one arm. He let it drop to the ground near the fire.

“Dinner,” he announced.

He then began to clean the deer for dinner. As he worked, I decided to talk with him. I decided to be cautious as he wielded a wicked looking knife.

“Angriz,” I ventured.

“Yes, Carter,” he said.

“I’m sorry my choice upset you.”

He heaved a sigh. “There is no need for that,” he said. “You made the more difficult choice. To be honest, it is the best one. Lady Orwen would have been quite displeased when she learned that we had chosen her rather than ending the war more swiftly. I admit I was angry with you for your choice. However, I realize that was unfair because I had vowed to go wherever you lead and I refused to help you choose. Most importantly, it is not your fault we are in this position. I hope you can forgive me.”

“There is nothing to forgive, Angriz. I know that you care deeply for your friends. I would despair if you did not.”

He nodded in acknowledgment of my words and finished preparing the buck for our meal. “There’s also the mystery of what happened in Rivorei.”

“What do you mean?”

“Rivorei was a town that belonged to Lady Orwen. It makes no sense for it to have been destroyed. Especially as she has been abducted.”

“Maybe that’s why?” I said. “Maybe it was a punishment for being involved.”

Angriz shook his head. “The children wouldn’t have been killed if that were the case.”

“In the history of my world, sometimes the children were killed so that no one would have to worry about them getting revenge when they grew into adults.”

He shook his head. “It’s not the way of the Orwens. Nor of their people.”

I let that go. He seemed remarkably innocent for a warrior. I shoved my hands in my pockets, not sure how to continue. I felt the odd piece of stone I had found earlier. I pulled it out and showed it to the big guy.

“Have you ever seen anything like this before?”

He looked at the medium-sized piece of flat rock with the odd shapes etched into it.

“I’ve never seen anything like this stone before, but the markings resemble Dwarven runes. Maybe Keeper Dearbhaile will be able to translate them.”

Keeper Dearbhaile produced a large kettle of water and placed it on the fire as we talked. She added various vegetables and spices to the water as it heated. I took up an ax and walked over to a grove of maple trees. Spotting a couple of young ones, I felled them and began chopping the green wood for another fire. From the corner of my eye, I saw a strange green light playing around the outside of the pot. ‘Is she using magic to cook the food faster?’ I thought. ‘I hope it doesn’t change anything within me. Better not say anything to her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings.’ When I had a sufficient quantity, I stacked it in a pyramid shape. I ringed the stack of wood with medium-sized rocks from the forest floor.

“That’s goin’ tae produce a lot o’ smoke,” Keeper Dearbhaile observed.

“Exactly,” I responded.

She had claimed both hind legs of the deer for her stew by the time I finished with the wood, so I began carving the remainder of the meat into chunks and strips. Angriz drew another knife from a hip sheathe and joined me at my labor. Just as Keeper Dearbhaile announced dinner was ready, Angriz breathed a thin stream of fire over the maple wood. The intense heat of his breath dried the wood just enough for it to ignite.

While the deer meat smoked, we sat down to our meal.

“The stew is delicious, Keeper Dearbhaile,” I complimented. ‘What kind of rabbit is this again?”

“Ach, shut yer mouth, ye great galoot,” she said to my teasing. “Thank ye for killin’ tha deer, Sir Angriz.”

I passed her the stone I’d shown Angriz. “Can you translate this? Angriz thinks it’s Dwarven.”

She tossed the rest of her biscuit into her mouth, brushed off her hands and took the stone from me. Her eyes widened and she leaned closer to the fire, tilting the stone to the flames.

“Where did ye find this, Carter?”

“Back in Rivorei. After I stepped in that muck.”

“This is part of a larger one, but this section seems to be orders from Drago the Clanless to his troops!”

“What do they say?” Angriz asked before I could.

“I can nae make out all of them, but they seem tae be sayin’ that  the next target be Hawgrave City.”

“Hmm,” mused Angriz. “That’s three days to the east. We don’t have time to help them.”

“But we have tae do somethin’!”

“Dearbhaile, is there a way you can use your magic to send them a message?” I asked.

She gave me a comical look of surprise. “Aye!” She slapped herself in the forehead. “Why did I nae think o’ that?”

She pulled a small bird charm from her necklace and whispered to it for a few minutes. She cast it in the air, and to my delighted surprise, it flew east. After dinner, I gathered the dishes and took them to a nearby stream to wash them.

Just as I finished, the Slitter that had adopted me leaped up onto my shoulder. It had a tendency to come and go as it pleased. I turned my head to look at it, and it poked my cheek with a sharp claw. As I recoiled from the pain, a knife flipped by my face, missing me by about a centimeter. I nearly vomited at the sight of my attacker as it stalked out of the bushes.

It was a gaunt, somewhat humanoid creature with two long, pale, writhing tentacles beneath its arms which hung nearly to its knees. It had a flat face, broad bat-like nose, pointed ears, wide mouth and six-inch fangs. Wicked talons capped its skeletal fingers. Its hairless, waxy gray skin was covered in weeping sores that oozed a pale greenish fluid.

Something had me rise up on the balls of my feet and go loose limbed. As if my movement were a signal it was waiting for, the gruesome creature launched itself at me. Suddenly, the world slowed to a crawl. In slow motion, I saw the creature flex its leg muscles and spring for my throat. The world then returned to normal and I saw the creature was still running towards me. My brain froze in bewilderment, and my body tried to follow, but it continued traveling backward and I tripped over a root as the thing sprung exactly as I had already seen. Tripping saved my life. The creature flew over my head as I slammed into the ground. I rolled to my right and rose. The monstrosity scrambled to its feet and charged again, swinging its arms in arcs, leading with its scythe-like claws.

Again, the world slowed. I saw myself backing up rapidly, wheeling my arms out of reach of those vicious claws. I saw myself back into a tree, stopping myself with my right foot sweeping back into the tree. I then kicked off the trunk with the same foot. My foot then rocketed forward and caught the creature underneath its jaw. Once more, the world snapped back to normal. This time, I was waiting for it and began the exact movements I had just seen myself do.

It seemed confused by the circling of my arms, but it pressed forward nonetheless. At the perfect moment of my retreat, my right leg swung back, hitting the tree and halting my movement. I immediately swung it forward again, bending my knee and snapping it straight as it whipped through the air. My foot flashed forward and exploded under its jaw. The creature’s mouth crashed closed, breaking many of its teeth. It wobbled, dazed. I came forward, caught it by the back of its head and with a twist of my body, rammed it face first into the tree I had kicked off of. Bone crunched and a blue fluid squirted as its skull was crushed.

I let the creature slump to the forest floor and bent at the waist, panting from my exertions. Unfortunately, I chose to catch my breath right above the body as a foul stench began to rise from it. I vomited my dinner on the creature’s carcass. I staggered away, wiping my mouth. I sat down, hard, on an up thrust root (probably the one I tripped over) and rested. Several minutes passed as my heartbeat and breathing slowly returned to normal. My eyes kept trying to return to the dead thing, but I resolutely continued to avert them again. Finally, I got up and walked over to the forgotten dinner dishes. I paused to rinse my mouth of the flavor of bile, gathered the dishes and returned to camp.

The Start of A New Tale

I’m still working on the other stories I’ve shared. Well, I’ve actually cancelled The Chronicles of Sera Blake. I wasn’t able to capture her essence. Maybe after I’ve grown as a writer, I’ll return to her. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of my latest Work In Progress, Court of Blood.

 

1

 

Joey glared at his brother. “What are you doing here, David?”
“Viola is dead.” David bowed his head, eyes wet. “We’re down to nine Queens.”
“I know.” Joey picked up a Sig Sauer, actuated the clip, and racked the slide. A cartridge, with a strange blue bullet attached popped out. He peered at him from under long, sooty lashes. “This means war.”
“No!”
Joey let out a low, raspy growl, stalked over to David and stood nose to chin with him. “No?” He tilted his head back. “You don’t get a say, brother. You left the pack, remember? Wanted to live among the humans.” His upper lip curled away from her teeth. “You wanted to be one of them.”
“Joey.” He drew the last syllable out, his voice dropping.
“We’re going to kill the dirt-nappers, and then the shifters, and finally the Giavana’s. So, run away, pup. It’s what you’re go—”
A massive hand around his throat cut off his words. Joey kicked frantically, but to no avail; he was three feet in the air.
“Listen, bitch. You may be Pack Leader, but never forget who is Alpha.” David snarled the last.
Joey’s eyes turned a bright green and his lips curled away from his teeth which grew longer, and sharper. David threw him down the hall. “Go ahead, dumbass. Waste your transformation.”
Joey glared at the bigger man. His arms were tense, and his chest out, and heaving. The Alpha shook his head with a faint smirk. The pack leader howled, and his mouth lengthened, merging with his nose, and becoming a muzzle. Triangular ears rose atop his head. Black hairs sprouted over his face, lengthening until it became fur. His teeth grew longer and sharper-looking. His fingers elongated and sprouted coarse black hairs. Each digit was tipped with a thick, black talon. His body began to elongate, his muscles stretching and growing bigger. His shoes burst apart, revealing sis feet as they extended, and narrowed, the toes were capped with long black claws.
His knees snapped back like a dog’s with sickening wet crunches. His barrel chest grew wider, the bones creaking, and snapping under the pressure. Wiry hair spread over it in a rippling, spiral pattern. His arms spread wide, and his head went back, loosening a deafening howl.
“You’ve been a naughty boy, Joey. Messing with magicks you’re not supposed to.” David rolled his shoulders, and tipped his head from side to side. Each movement caused popping, and crackling sounds. “let’s dance, Pup.”
The werewolf bellowed in rage, slaver dripping from his fangs. He leaped at his enemy, seeking to rend him limb from limb. David took a step to his right, guiding the deadly claws away with the grace of a dancer, and then slammed the werewolf’s skull through the window. The lupine creature extricated his head from the broken glass with a howl, and lunged forward with another attack, leading with his left clawed hand. David flowed to the right, and aimed the wolf’s head at the brick wall. Fragments flew through the air as dust rose in an explosion.
Joey pulled his head away, moving slower than before. He shook his head, and whimpered at the buzzing deep inside his skull.
“Surrender, Joseph, and turn back. I don’t want to hurt you further.”
Instead, he snarled again, and thrust his gaping maw forward. David punched the other in the snout with his right fist, and captured Joey’s lower jaw in his left. The pack leader made a strangled yip of surprise, and then was yanked down. His jaw collided with David’s rising knee. He dropped to his knees, dazed.
“Pull yourself together.”
David turned to leave. White hot heat ripped through his body as Joey’s claws tore great furrows down his back. He screamed in pain, and whirled. Fists, moving like lightning pounded into the werewolf’s skull with the force of jack hammers. In the space of a moment, Joey’s nose was broken, his jaw dislocated, and his cranium misshapen.
The Alpha grabbed the Pack Leader’s ears, and then used his head as a pinball, bouncing it from one wall to the other, up one end of the hall, and down the other. He then threw the werewolf down the stairs to the marble floor twenty feet below. David leaped down after him, landing in a perfect three-point-stance. He gripped the beaten wolf by the scruff of the neck and lifted him.
“Clean yourself up. You’re a mess.” He left his opponent’s head hit the floor, and stalked down the hall between the twin flights of stairs to Viola’s quarters.
Joey lay, naked and shivering on the floor for several minutes after the Alpha left. Abrupt reversions always left him with a quivering stomach. He slowly raised his throbbing head and spat out a tooth. It lay in a mix of saliva and blood, mutely accusing. What was I thinking? I’m not yet ready to take David’s place as Alpha. This just confirmed what she said.
He sighed, and slumped over to his back, blindly staring up at the massive fairy crystal chandelier dangling from the vaulted ceiling. He blinked, and switched his gaze to the large oil painting of Alastor Hara, the pack founder. As always, that unsmiling countenance seemed to be saying, ‘You’re not worthy to lead my pack, Mongrel. Only purebloods should ever lead.’
“Fuck you, old man.” He gingerly sat up, not yet fully healed despite his swift regeneration. I should get dressed. I’m sure the old man doesn’t want to be staring at my pale ass. He got to his feet, and swayed, nearly falling again. He shook his head, and collapsed to his knees. His gorge rose, and before he could swallow it back, it barreled out his mouth like a runaway freight train. Each heave served to aggravate his torn neck muscles. After the last one, he wiped his mouth, paying no heed to the frothy pink vomit on the floor. One of the servants would clean it.
He limped down the hall that opened just off the eastern most section of the front stairs, bracing himself against the wall, trailing blood behind him. He staggered into the library, and locked the door behind him. He paused, knees shaking, head down for several heartbeats. He then walked over to the fireplace, and flipped a hidden switch.
The heart slid to the side revealing a dank stair down. He slipped through, depressing another button on the other side of the threshold. The fireplace slid back, leaving him in pitch blackness. He confidently strode the stairs, his sight unaffected by the lack of illumination. The steps wound around, and around, sometimes twisting under each other, but going ever further down.
Near the bottom, it grew brighter. The increase was gradual enough that his eyes had a chance to acclimate to the change. The stairs terminated in a cathedral-like cavern. Torches scattered around on the walls provided the light.
In the center of the room stood an elaborately carved granite sarcophagus. At his approach, the lid swung open. A small, blonde girl stepped out and turned icy blue eyes on him. He stopped at the base of the platform and knelt with his head to the stone floor.
“Rise, Joey.” The soft voice had an ethereal quality to it. He did as commanded, gazing worshipfully at her porcelain features. “You lost.”
Though it wasn’t a question, he felt compelled to answer. “Yes, Mistress. Just as you said I would.”
“Your recklessness almost gave away your secret.”
“David still doesn’t know I can transform without the queen. He thinks it was a wasted one.”
“He knows you are dealing with magic you shouldn’t be.”
Her voice wasn’t loud, but he shook anyway. “I’m sorry, Mistress.”
“No matter. He will not be a problem much longer.” She gestured, and an ornate golden chalice appeared in her right hand. She passed her left over it, and handed the now full cup to him. “Drink, and grow strong.”
“Yes, Mistress.” He swallowed the fiery ruby liquid in one gulp.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C4, S7)

Previous subchapter here.

 

 

Subchapter 7

 

The midday sun beat down on our head when we arrived at the remnants of the town of Rivorei. The fires, having consumed all they could, had all but burned out. The acrid stench of smoke, burned wood and charred flesh hung in the air like a wet blanket. The horses refused to get any closer, so we dismounted, tied their reins around some trees, and entered on foot. The city walls, once proud evidence of the town’s prosperity, were melted like wax candles. We walked through the sagging, gaping hole in the wall. I was amazed by the scale of the destruction and the absolute silence. I was cognizant of Keeper Dearbhaile sliding her hand into mine, but at the edge of my awareness. The cobblestones underfoot were still warm from the fires that just raged through the city . A charred wooden wall had the blackened remains of a person hanging from a spear through the gut.

We found ourselves walking through what had been an alleyway, the buildings on either side slumped from the fire. I stepped in something squishy and wet. Looking down, I realized I had my foot in a stream of a thick pinkish brown liquid with a greasy film. ‘What the hell?’ I went to one knee and dragged my finger through the slurry. I caught the stench of sewage and blood. I recoiled so hard I fell on my butt.

I noticed something odd sticking out a little from the mess. I fished the thing out and dried in on my pants. It was a flat, grey stone with some odd etchings on one side. Keeper Dearbhaile helped me to my feet, her eyes brilliant with unshed tears. She moved further into the ruined city and I stuck the stone in my pocket without thinking about why I did so. I turned to ask Angriz what he thought had happened here, but he was gone. I turned and headed out of the alley.

I found him in the center of what might have been the market square. The scattered piles of burned wood and bodies made identifying things difficult. Men, women and children lay about, hacked into pieces. Some had arrows, or spears, in their backs as if they had been killed as they tried to flee. He was looking at a huge emerald flag hanging above a pyramid of slain townspeople. In the center was an emblem of a colossal silver dragon clutching a dozen spears in one fist and the throat of a vampire in its other.

“Shit, Angriz. Isn’t that the flag of the Orwens?” I said.

Eyes still fixed on the flag, he nodded his head.

My Thoughts on Amazon vs Hatchette

Since I’m scheduling this for Tuesday, this may have ended by then. But, regardless, I’m throwing my two cents out there.

 

As many of you may be aware, internet superstore Amazon.com is embroiled in a feud with publishing conglomerate Hatchette Book Group. This seems to be how Joe & Jane Average seem to be seeing things. You note that only two seem to be neutral? All the others, especially is you search Amazon vs Hatchette seem to call for boycotting of Amazon in favor of Barnes & Noble, and indy bookstores. Yeah, as if that would be a good idea.

 

As a currently unpublished author, I’m going to say this, “Boo-fucking-hoo.” So the multi-million dollar authors aren’t going to get a few pennies more on their tiny royalties. If the authors really cared about the readers, they’d say, “See ya,” to the traditionals, and self-publish. But they don’t care about that, they don’t like the idea of competition, and they don’t want to give up their guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts.

Folks seem to enjoy painting Amazon as the Big Bullies, and Hatchette Book Group as the Heroic Underdog fighting for the little guy. I say those roles are switched around. Amazon isn’t the bullies here, Hatchette is. They are the ones that want to jack up the price of the e-books. They aren’t fighting for their authors that are under contract. Consider: The authors that are with HBG get, at most, 20% royalties on their books once they make a certain amount. Even guys like King, Patterson, & Rowling. Twenty fucking percent. And, when you have guys like them under contract, HBG offers them advances of $100K- $3Million. Those advances are why folks like King are bitching, not the royalties. If they cared about royalties on their books, they’d go with the folks with the highest paying royalties out there, Amazon. Yes, Amazon. They even say it on their pricing page (for authors), “For titles priced between $2.99-$9.99, we pay a royalty of 70% on each sale.”

In the meantime, Hatchette wants a bigger piece of that pricing pie. They think that Amazon is getting too big a piece with their charging 10% for titles that are over $9.99. Go look up Steven King, James Patterson, et al., on any book seller website, and look at what the books are being sold for. Barring a second hand site, you won’t find any of their titles for less than $7.99 for a trade paperback, and less than $25.99 for a hardback. Now, consider this price breakdown: on that $25.99 James patterson, Hatchette takes 70%, the author gets 20%, and Amazon takes 10%. The way Hatchette wants it to be is they get 78%, authors still get 20% (big names, anyway), and Amazon would be left with 1%. How is that fair?

You notice who’s not been mentioned in all of this? The customer. That’s because they’d still pay $25.99. Unless HBG wins, that is. Then it would be $25.99 + shipping & handling. Even with Prime.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C 4,S6)

Previous subchapter here.

 

 

Subchapter 6

 

Around midmorning, we viewed the column of smoke. Gloom covered the sky like something belched from the gates of Hell. It was the second day after we left the home of Lady Soo-jau “What do you think is on fire, Angriz?”

“I don’t know Carter. The town of Rivorei is ahead of us and could be what is burning.”

“Oh, I hope nae! We should hurry an’ see if we can aid them.”

“And how would you propose we hurry, Keeper Dearbhaile?” said Angriz. “We’re on foot, remember?”

She rolled her eyes, reached into her pack and pulled out three wooden toy horses. She set them on the ground and waved her hands over them, intoning…something, “Uoy fo deen evah ew. Efil ot emoc.”

The toys grew and widened. Hair covered flesh replaced wood. Coppery hooves became keratinous, the thread mane and tail became real hair and little bead eyes turned into real ones. Soon, breathing flesh and blood animals stood pawing the ground where only toys had been.

The closest horse to me was huge, every bit my height with a straight facial profile, broad forehead and wide muzzle. The animal was well-muscled and strong, with an arched neck, high withers and a sloped shoulder. The coloring was bay, with white markings. Despite knowing next to nothing about horses, I knew what this kind was due to them being in beer commercials.

Standing next to the Clydesdale was a smaller horse, silver in coloration, with a refined, wedge-shaped head, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzle. This one possessed a concave profile, an arched neck, and long, lean muscles. The horse’s mane and tail were pure ivory.

The last one was black with a medium length head, with a straight or profile. Its neck was long and broad, running to a massive chest, a short back and broad, strong hindquarters.

All three, smelling of sunlight and hay, were saddled and seemed eager to run. Though gentle-looking, all three scared the hell out of me. ‘Keeper Dearbhaile is nuts if she thinks I’m climbing on of these things.’ I looked from the horses, to Dearbhaile, to Angriz and back again.

Dearbhaile must have sensed my unease. She came over and taking my hand, laid it along the side of the Clydesdale. She talked in a soft voice and ran my hand along its back. The big animal pushed against my hand. The horse lowered its head and she guided my hand along the steed’s side and neck in a back and forth motion. The mount snorted and pushed harder on my hand. I broke into a smile, which grew wider with each passing moment. I was so entranced by what was happening with the stallion, I almost didn’t notice when Dearbhaile released my hand and rested hers on my hip.

“Scratch his ear,” she whispered. I did as she suggested and was rewarded with almost being knocked off my feet by the horse’s enthusiastic reaction. After a couple of minutes scratching the big horse, Dearbhaile lead me to the others, allowing us to get used to each other. As I scratched the silver’s ear, hands lifted me by my waist and setting me on her saddle. I grabbed the saddle in a white knuckle grip and spun in place to scowl at Angriz as he swung up into the saddle of the Clydesdale. Keeper Dearbhaile was already atop the black.

“W-what the hell, Ang-griz!” I stuttered.

“Keeper Dearbhaile wanted us to hurry, Carter. We’ve spared ten minutes for you to get to know the horses, now we ride.”

“I don’t know how!”

“You’ll be fine. Hold the reins and grip his sides with your thighs. He’ll stick with the others.”

I must say, the half dragon was pretty cavalier with my safety. I felt dizzy and twitchy, like my insides were trembling. The sun beat down. My chest was tight and my heart racing. ‘I’m going to fall off this animal and it’s gonna step on my head, and I’m gonna die!’ Sweat poured down my face and I’m sure my eyes were bugging out. I tried not to look at the ground which was too far below me.

Keeper Dearbhaile took pity on me: she wheeled her horse around and took the reins from me. “Hold on tae th’ pommel,” she said. “I’ll lead yer horse for ye.”

I held on for dear life.

Bugger

I can’t believe I’ve not posted here since May 19th. Eep. Sorry, guys. It totally slipped my mind lately. What’s been getting in my way? Final edits on Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I, and writing on other projects, and lately, worry about my best friend who has recently gone to the hospital.

 

I’ll do my best to resume posting sections of Carter’s tale on Fridays. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from a new story I started not too long ago:

 

 

Joey glared at his brother. “What are you doing here, David?”

“Viola is dead.” David bowed his head, eyes wet. “We’re down to nine Queens.”

“I know.” Joey picked up a Sig Sauer, actuated the clip, and racked the slide. A cartridge, with a strange blue bullet attached popped out. He peered at him from under long, sooty lashes. “This means war.”

“No!”

Joey let out a low, raspy growl, stalked over to David and stood nose to chin with him. “No?” He tilted his head back. “You don’t get a say, brother. You left the pack, remember? Wanted to live among the humans.” His upper lip curled away from her teeth. “You wanted to be one of them.”

“Joey.” He drew the last syllable out, his voice dropping.

“We’re going to kill the dirt-nappers, and then the shifters, and finally the Giavana’s. So, run away, pup. It’s what you’re go—”

A massive hand around his throat cut off his words. Joey kicked frantically, but to no avail; he was three feet in the air.

“Listen, bitch. You may be Pack Leader, but never forget who is Alpha.” David snarled the last.

Joey’s eyes turned a bright green and his lips curled away from his teeth which grew longer, and sharper. David threw him down the hall. “Go ahead, dumbass. Waste your transformation.”

Joey glared at the bigger man. His arms were tense, and his chest out, and heaving. The Alpha shook his head with a faint smirk. The pack leader howled, and his mouth lengthened, merging with his nose, and becoming a muzzle. Triangular ears rose atop his head. Black hairs sprouted over his face, lengthening until it became fur. His teeth grew longer and sharper-looking. His fingers elongated and sprouted coarse black hairs. Each digit was tipped with a thick, black talon. His body began to elongate, his muscles stretching and growing bigger. His shoes burst apart, revealing sis feet as they extended, and narrowed, the toes were capped with long black claws.

His knees snapped back like a dog’s with sickening wet crunches. His barrel chest grew wider, the bones creaking, and snapping under the pressure. Wiry hair spread over it in a rippling, spiral pattern. His arms spread wide, and his head went back, loosening a deafening howl.

“You’ve been a naughty boy, Joey. Messing with magicks you’re not supposed to.” David rolled his shoulders, and tipped his head from side to side. Each movement caused popping, and crackling sounds. “let’s dance, Pup.”

The werewolf bellowed in rage, slaver dripping from his fangs. He leaped at his enemy, seeking to rend him limb from limb. David took a step to his right, guiding the deadly claws away with the grace of a dancer, and then slammed the werewolf’s skull through the window. The lupine creature extricated his head from the broken glass with a howl, and lunged forward with another attack, leading with his left clawed hand. David flowed to the right, and aimed the wolf’s head at the brick wall. Fragments flew through the air as dust rose in an explosion.

Joey pulled his head away, moving slower than before. He shook his head, and whimpered at the buzzing deep inside his skull.

“Surrender, Joseph, and turn back. I don’t want to hurt you further.”

Instead, he snarled again, and thrust his gaping maw forward. David punched the other in the snout with his right fist, and captured Joey’s lower jaw in his left. The pack leader made a strangled yip of surprise, and then was yanked down. His jaw collided with David’s rising knee. He dropped to his knees, dazed.

“Pull yourself together.”

David turned to leave. White hot heat ripped through his body as Joey’s claws tore great furrows down his back. He screamed in pain, and whirled. Fists, moving like lightning pounded into the werewolf’s skull with the force of jack hammers. In the space of a moment, Joey’s nose was broken, his jaw dislocated, and his cranium misshapen.

The Alpha grabbed the Pack Leader’s ears, and then used his head as a pinball, bouncing it from one wall to the other, up one end of the hall, and down the other. He then threw the werewolf down the stairs to the marble floor twenty feet below. David leaped down after him, landing in a perfect three-point-stance. He gripped the beaten wolf by the scruff of the neck and lifted him.

“Clean yourself up. You’re a mess.” He left his opponent’s head hit the floor, and stalked down the hall between the twin flights of stairs to Viola’s quarters.

Joey lay, naked and shivering on the floor for several minutes after the Alpha left. Abrupt reversions always left him with a quivering stomach. He slowly raised his throbbing head and spat out a tooth. It lay in a mix of saliva and blood, mutely accusing. What was I thinking? I’m not yet ready to take David’s place as Alpha. This just confirmed what she said.

He sighed, and slumped over to his back, blindly staring up at the massive fairy crystal chandelier dangling from the vaulted ceiling. He blinked, and switched his gaze to the large oil painting of Alastor Hara, the pack founder. As always, that unsmiling countenance seemed to be saying, ‘You’re not worthy to lead my pack, Mongrel. Only purebloods should ever lead.’

“Fuck you, old man.” He gingerly sat up, not yet fully healed despite his swift regeneration. I should get dressed. I’m sure the old man doesn’t want to be staring at my pale ass. He got to his feet, and swayed, nearly falling again. He shook his head, and collapsed to his knees. His gorge rose, and before he could swallow it back, it barreled out his mouth like a runaway freight train. Each heave served to aggravate his torn neck muscles. After the last one, he wiped his mouth, paying no heed to the frothy pink vomit on the floor. One of the servants would clean it.

He limped down the hall that opened just off the eastern most section of the front stairs, bracing himself against the wall, trailing blood behind him. He staggered into the library, and locked the door behind him. He paused, knees shaking, head down for several heartbeats. He then walked over to the fireplace, and flipped a hidden switch.

The heart slid to the side revealing a dank stair down. He slipped through, depressing another button on the other side of the threshold. The fireplace slid back, leaving him in pitch blackness. He confidently strode the stairs, his sight unaffected by the lack of illumination. The steps wound around, and around, sometimes twisting under each other, but going ever further down.

Near the bottom, it grew brighter. The increase was gradual enough that his eyes had a chance to acclimate to the change. The stairs terminated in a cathedral-like cavern. Torches scattered around on the walls provided the light.

In the center of the room stood an elaborately carved granite sarcophagus. At his approach, the lid swung open. A small, blonde girl stepped out and turned icy blue eyes on him. He stopped at the base of the platform and knelt with his head to the stone floor.

“Rise, Joey.” The soft voice had an ethereal quality to it. He did as commanded, gazing worshipfully at her porcelain features. “You lost.”

Though it wasn’t a question, he felt compelled to answer. “Yes, Mistress. Just as you said I would.”

“Your recklessness almost gave away your secret.”

“David still doesn’t know I can transform without the queen. He thinks it was a wasted one.”

“He knows you are dealing with magic you shouldn’t be.”

Her voice wasn’t loud, but he shook anyway. “I’m sorry, Mistress.”

“No matter. He will not be a problem much longer.” She gestured, and an ornate golden chalice appeared in her right hand. She passed her left over it, and handed the now full cup to him. “Drink, and grow strong.”

“Yes, Mistress.” He swallowed the fiery ruby liquid in one gulp.