National Novel Writing Month – Brandished Destiny – part 4

Here’s part 4, and Fern’s involvement becomes much more personal.

In truth, I never had a job I wanted to turn down so badly as this one. But one thing had changed my mind. The Troll. I saw Zhirk, who Zhira was named after in my head. His face dissolving in the shotgun blast. I shut my eyes again and went through my office again mentally, remembering where each item of my office was. It helped divert my mind from the horror of those vivid memories and let me release them instead of replaying each one again and again in my head.

Judge Caddus, I must admit I would rather never to have anything to do with that object you brought.” I held up a hand as his face screwed up in stricken despair, which was a shock to see on his normally serene and stoic features. “I will help you. One thing I am sure we both have learned is that if you do nothing, evil like that flourishes.” There was a faint ‘snap’ like a static shock. I, for better AND worse now, had a binding fae contract with the Judge. Gods and powers, I sounded like a freaking superhero or something. How much more pompous could I sound? I guess it was the right bit of bombast, because the Judge’s features smoothed out and I think I detected relief emanating from him.

I thank you for your reminder that no one being need stand alone. We have to trust, and reach out to confront imbalance and chaos.” That was one way to put it. I’m certain I don’t mind imbalance and chaos, we humans live with that all the time. Perhaps they look at Imbalance as Injustice. I don’t know for certain. What I was absolutely sure of however, was that bottle was made to make misery and death. Ahiah had drunk from it and become immensely powerful. That was burned into my memories. What I wasn’t sure of was the ‘why’. Why did it show up? Why did and Elf have it? I could somewhat understand his coming here. I was mixed up in that horror before. Both I and Fawn.

I’m certain he came to me because of our prior meeting, rather than go to Fawn. She represents human law, and Elvish law is not close at all to it. What we judge by is intent and morals of our society. What Elves judgment are certainly not on those qualities. I’m not certain what they are based upon, but one thing we are certain of is Elves despise Magick used for ill. They rightly hate and fear those powers that have free will to meddle in the physical world, especially those of malevolent nature.

What we would be facing was the nightmare that created that bottle. Be it human, fae, or other, it was a monster that needed be caught and put away. I’d prefer it gone and buried and the bottles broken and tossed in the ocean. The problem would be to hunt it down. Which meant locating the source of the one the Judge had brought.

I looked over at the cup resting over the cursed bottle. “Judge Caddus, where did you acquire that particular item?” Diplomacy. Yep. No vicious names for things. No strong emotions. Nope, not a thing to unbalance the calm, or whatever passed for it currently.

The bottle was procured from the remains of a burned oak on what you name Prince Edward Island.”

I went cold with memories. Cobb. The tree. Kent and Kevin. Anolyn. Being possessed by him, and his rage at Cobb for making those abominations. I’d thought the dragon fire would have burnt them all. I looked up at the Judge, who seemed anything but calm now that we were discussing the main reason for our meeting. He appeared suddenly careworn. Deep lines were etched on his face that I hadn’t noticed earlier. Fae magic or just normal human inattention. Neither he or I reached for the cup to expose the bottle underneath.

In the reopening of the way to PEI, we found the devastation that had been wrought upon the tree, and the abominations that were warped into its heart. We found the remains, and the tools to create.” He paused, as if to add a more colorful term, but refrained and continued. “We found a crate made of bespelled wood which had been destoryed by dragon fire. The Bottles inside broken and rendered inert.” He paused for a moment, like he was a movie actor about to dispense an ominous statement to make the audience gasp.

There were four empty locations in the crate. We procured this one from an Elf that had used it on his own.”

My stomach churned at the thought of three of those things loose. But why Halifax? Wouldn’t Europe be a more fertile hunting ground for the users? Why here?

I have found myself wondering why we are the recipient of such a menace. It would meuch simpler to go where the population is greatest. There one could hunt and use the bottle to their heart’s content. Disappearances would be lost in the myriad of other disappearances that occur daily in large populations. Your Nova Scotia is far from being a huge metropolis such as London. What would bring something so dangerous here?”

We were on the same wavelength, which made me wonder at the apparent coincidence. With Elves, never expect coincidence. I learned that already. Never ever trust in coincidence. That trust will trip you up at the worst possible time. So using the ‘there are no coincidences’ rule, the Judge was reading my mind or following my intent and using that to reinforce the idea in hopes of something breaking loose. I suppose it’s his method of helping, but, so not helpful.

If you’re observing my thoughts, I recommend against it. Agreements of that nature do not help discovering new paths. Right now I’d love to talk to the person who had this bottle in their possession. Asking the right questions could get us answers where the others are.”

He bowed contritely. “I do apologize. This is a very dangerous investigation. I had hoped to assist in creating active thoughts that would find a method of advancing along this perilous conundrum. Please forgive my earnest error. I meant no insult nor harm.” Take note. He did apologize for his enthusiasm, not for trying to manipulate my thoughts. Always pay attention to what Elves say, and more to what they DON’T. I decided to let it go. IN his own way, the Judge was doing his best to be helpful. My job, as I saw it, was to track down the rest of the bottles. Just how was the real question.

National Novel Writing Month – First update of ‘Brandished Destiny’

National Novel writing month got off with a literal bang for me.  I got in 3500 words which is a new record for any output that I can remember.  I’ll be posting 2-3 pages of the new novel here in the following days fore two reasons.  First is to let those interested see the progress of the fourth book of the Glass Bottles series which is tentatively titled ‘Brandished Destiny’.  THe second is a spur for myself to keep up the pace and not fall into overthinking the story, which had clobbered my writing before.  So now that you’ve made it through the introduction, here’s the first post of 2020’s ‘Brandished Destiny’

CHAPTER 1

The blast of power blotted out the cloudless blue sky with a rippling distortion that turned everything grey. It smashed into me like a runaway truck. I held my ground and diverted the power upwards by imagining a curved surface in front of me. The surface did its job and the power flashed upwards to break apart in blots of grey surrounded by flecks of blue. Imagination is a great weapon when you don’t need a circle to cast, but you pay for it with headaches and lethargy. I had both in spades.

We’d finally gotten a handle on what we experienced facing off against a huge entity that a weird cult had put their compound over. Both Fawn and I suddenly could do major magic without needing any kind of practice or particular item to focus. It was just there. Believe me, we were very happy it was just there back then. We’d have died along with a lot of naked senseless people trapped in cabins that were going to be used for some kind of sacrificial ritual that would have wakened said enormous entity. That we’re still alive is a testament to sheer wild luck, and perhaps magic’s own agenda.

Larry has never heard of this kind of thing ever happening before. If Larry doesn’t know, it’s a good bet that it’s something potentially unprecedented. Which ratcheted up our own paranoia about becoming lab rat test subjects for the powers-that-be in Canadian government. We’ve kept what happened secret for our own peace of mind. Neither of us wants to give up our life as it is.

Fawn and Larry, through a lot of counseling and a lot of work, stuck together. Zhira, their daughter was born healthy and Fawn was pulled back from death’s embrace via shocking her heart back into action. I helped out for the first five months until Fawn told me to get lost and take care of myself. She’d recovered totally, and was the picture of Amazonian health. If anything, she looked more together than she had since high school.

She was back on her job and had been promoted again to precinct captain and still managed to hang on to the leadership of Dayning/Halifax police department’s magickal response team. That organization went through three incarnations before settling on the current the current ‘Special Response Unit’ moniker. The SRU was her special baby. Larry had given up on trying to get her to drop that position, but had at least gotten a compromise with her being the precinct captain which meant her forays into the field were now more limited.

Fawn relaxed and glanced over to her left, where Zhira was making sand castles with daddy Larry. She turned her gaze back to me.

One more time?”

No, I’m wore out. Spend some of that extra energy on those two” I laughed, then winced. I’ve said in the past that Magick is a pain, and now it was a literal pain in the head, and the metaphorical neck. It’d be a few minutes before the headache went away, but at least it’d go. I hadn’t been terribly interested in practicing Magick, especially since it was something that just came natural after being dragon possessed. What changed I don’t know, but after it happened the cases I got hooked into suddenly were a lot more weird and unsettling. The giant entity was the first and the most disturbing to me. The others were just plain weird.

The latest example was that I had to go over to Klaus’s liquor store down the block from my office, and help him solve a problem with missing stock. The security system he had showed no one in the place, and now one leaving. Bottles and kegs were full one moment, and empty the next. Not gone. Empty. How someone empties a full bottle of alcohol without removing the cap would have been beyond me before Prince Edward Island, now it could have been simple. I’d have to do it one bottle at a time, but I could do it. Whoever had played this trick was way more practiced than I.

Klaus called me back later saying he’d found the missing booze. One thing you should remember about Klaus is that he’s a bookie. He’s not big-time, and he deliberately keeps his client list small, almost like a hobby than a business. Anyways, he found the booze when he opened the door to the small back room where he runs it. All of the booze had been transported into the room and nearly drowned him when he opened the door.

As it was his equipment was shot, and I think the critters in the sewers had a grand old time with that much booze flowing into the system all at once. I never did find out why or how that happened. Rynun wasn’t hanging around the alley any more so I couldn’t ask him. He’d returned to the area around my folk’s old cabin since the spell conjuring up Ahiah was finally broken. I rubbed the nub of my little finger. Ahiah had bitten it off during that fight. He’d been banished back to the ground.

I’d tried to forget that particular nightmare for two years without any luck. It seems more than just my Magickal abilities were improved. My memory was nearly eidetic now. Maybe that was a reason why I could do spells so easy and without a circle. I could remember every sense and feeling, for lack of a better description, of each spell.

It made my head swim thinking about it and I turned my attention to my niece. Zhira was two. Her birthday was last week, and she’d gotten a genie costume. Yes, she wanted one. How did we know? She told us. Yes, at twenty months she was forming sentences. Not great ones, but definite, distinct, sentences. She saw the costume on sale for Halloween. Yes, that’s still a holiday, only one with more meaning than before. Regardless, she saw it and wanted it. And ‘Auntie’ Fern just couldn’t say no.

She hadn’t taken it off since she’d opened her present, with exceptions to wash it. I could only wonder what she’d be like by four if this was two. Maybe she’d be casting spells though gods I hoped not. Which brought my thoughts over to Fawn and I.

I find it amazing how Magick fitted itself to us in such disparate forms and yet so appropriately. Fawn’s Magick works internally. Basically she can harden her skin, increase her strength, speed, vision, hearing, etc. Anything dealing with physical attributes, she can do it. Me, mine’s all external.

Back on the Hamster Wheel

Hello out there! My apologies for such a long layoff. I will be picking up where I left off with the story and will continue. The last year has been stressful with family being moved from Arizona to here after their home had to be sold. We are all dealing with it, but it’s been very difficult for all of us. Time to get back to storytelling. Thank you for sticking this out for so long. Readers are greatly appreciated, and feel free to comment. Any and all comments help me become a better writer.

A word from the Author

With the third book being released, I’m certain there are a few wondering what all this is leading to. A snarky author would say, a climactic last book! Well, snarky or not it’s true. At some point in the future, this series will finish up and a new one will begin. I expect this series to be five or six books long. ( I know which the publisher would like  )

As it continues, I will be adding more and more about what’s been going on, and back-linking to the earlier books. There is a reason for everything. The bad guys may seem like they’re not motivated by anything other than being bad, I can tell you that’s not true. Each has a reason that they have behaved the way they have. with only two or three books left, it is now my intention to start pulling back the curtain, and showing you what’s behind it. Not fast, mind you, that would spoil the suspense.

And, to all those that have read these books, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m honored you took a chance on me to entertain you, and I appreciate it so very much that I had the chance to make your reading fun and enjoyable. Now, back to NaNo, and stay tuned for more books, more stories, and more fun!

Beguiling Words

The manuscript for ‘Beguiling Words’ is now on its electronic way to Paper Angel Press.  I’m excited to have it done, and am waiting already for the edits and suggestions to come back from the editor.  Paper Angel Press has three really good ones; Steve, Kim, and Laureen. If you’ve got a story you want to submit, send on to them. Their link is to your right on the page.  Try it, new stories are always welcome.

 

The revelations of collaborating on an audio book

One new experience I’ve had since being published, is the creation of an audiobook of ‘Best Intentions’. To say it was a learning experience, catches the essence, but it was way more than that.

One thing I’ve learned is that what sounds great in my head, comes out on audio and my first thought is, “What the hell was I thinking?” There were more than a few places that got past me, the editors, and publisher that the audio found loud and clear. I’d read to myself before, but hearing another person put her words to the book brought out and highlighted every flaw in my writing tenfold.

That gave me new incentive to get it right the first time. And I had to learn how to listen all over again. To hear the mistakes, and mark the places to clean up. The narrator had to put up with my mind erratically catching and missing corrections. I made it a lot harder on her, and everyone involved, than it needed to be.

( more about the experience on the next post )

A few thoughts on what I’ve learned about writing

What I learned about being a writer is that

a) it’s hard work,

b) there are long days of struggle with few sentences, and occasional bursts of inspiration that can cover pages,

c) the stories are what drive the writer, the desire to see for themselves, what happens next, and finally

d) there is nothing like seeing the end of the story so another can begin.

New Amazon author site, and thoughts on ‘branding’

As stated in the title, I’ve an Amazon author page. It is difficult as all get out to find, unless you use the link here. There are a LOT of J Dark out there, authors, parts of names, etc. One very important part of sales, both books and nearly everything, as sales people will tell you is ‘branding’. What is it that makes you unique, or intriguing. With books, it’s the cover, and your name. Niki has done great things with the cover, but my name isn’t terribly unique. it may be that a pseudonym would help make me and my books easier to find, though I’m not certain what all that would entail.
For those of you curious about the author page, here’s the link:

The New Year, and a skill plateau

Hiya, as you can tell it’s eight days into the New Year and this is the first post.  it’s been a little slow, and for that I apologize.  To get to the situation, Book Three, (current working title “Beguiling Words”) is stubbornly refusing to finish.  It may require a rewrite of the last portion again to find that elusive path to the end.

Frustrations aside, things feel like when a person is moving from conscious thought to a more instinctive reply.  There’s a point in practice, where, at the start you have a steep learning curve, and then a plateau, where movements you have to think about to perform, struggle to become a learned response one doesn’t have to think about.  This is where I’m feeling my writing at the moment.  It’s like I can see more of my weaknesses, and I can get around them by thinking about each word and situation, but there’s the struggle to push on and let the words flow, which then loses some of the descriptive emotional color, or vibrancy of the background.

The job now is to let the lessons I’m seeing in writing sink in and become part of the learned response so I can add more to the story while the instinctual flow can add more color, description, and emotional impact without the conscious part interrupting the creative flow.