Story in the Round — Part 9

Hello! I’m excited to be joining the Scribes, and a little nervous that I’ve got the ending of the Story in the Round. See you soon and enjoy the end!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The King of Neráida stepped from his dais, sweeping Danny to the side as if he meant nothing. I leaned forward, prepared to grab my cousin and put him out of harm’s way. Yuko’s grip around my arm stopped me, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a silent promise that we’d get out of there alive and with Danny spoken through his eyes. I didn’t want to trust him, but I didn’t have many choices.

“I have a proposition for you, young one.” Kian, the king, stood before me. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked at him with what I hoped was a face void of emotion. If we were going to get out unscathed he couldn’t know just how scared I was. With Yuko at my back or not, I wasn’t convinced we could go.

“A proposition?” I asked.

“You for your little human here. He is of no use to me. You are the one I want. The reason I sent Alek and Aria to you.”

“And if I refuse?”

“Then you all die.” The king shrugged then returned to his throne.

I would not exchange Danny, nor would I accept death. From behind me, Yuko whispered, “Their magic is blocked, the king is unaware. Agree to trade Danny. When he is out of reach, take Kian.” A solid weapon pressed against my back as Yuko slid it beneath the waist of my pants. “I will dispose of the others. You can do this, Aideen. Use the gifts you have denied. It is time.”

He was right, I knew it in my soul. I’d denied my true self for far too long.

“If I agree to the exchange, you will give me Danny first. When he is safe I will come to you. Alek and Aria will not touch any of us.”

Kian studied Yuko and I for what felt like forever. The dampness of Neráida seeped into my skin. As the forest lightened my worry grew. If we didn’t leave before the sun rose, we’d never get out. Silently I begged the king to get a move on. Finally he nodded once.

“Agreed. Release the boy.”

None too gently, Alek shoved Danny across the open space. I rushed forward and pulled him into a hug. “Go to Yuko. Do what he says, don’t argue,” I spoke into Danny’s ear. He didn’t acknowledge my orders, but did as I’d commanded.

Kian stood to come for me, but I held up my hand and shook my head. “No. I will come to you.”

This was it. Time to see what I could do. I sucked into a deep breath and began the spell to shield myself from anything Alek or Aria might try. With my arms locked behind my back, one hand wrapped around the hilt of the dagger from Yuko, I took a step forward. Then another. King Kian stayed on his throne looking bored. Cocky. That was fine with me.

The moment I reached the dais I knew I’d have one shot. If I didn’t kill him the first time our mission to save Danny and avenge my mother would be done. A failure.

I closed my eyes and made the last step. Kian wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me to him. No time to hesitate, I whipped my arm from behind my hand and slammed the dagger into his chest.

Seconds later the world of Neráida collapsed around us. Danny, Yuko, and I were pushed back through the portal. The bonfire simmered beside us. We’d made it out. Alive. I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled Danny into a tight embrace.

No longer would I deny who I was or what I could do.

Advertisements

Story in the Round–Part 8

Hello readers! I’m so excited to be joining the ranks of the Spellbound Scribes, so I hope you enjoy my very first post and check back for more later!

——-

The ancient song poured from the well of magic deep within me, my voice thrumming through the hot, sluggish air. A faint oblong shape shimmered on the surface of the pond, growing larger and more solid the longer I chanted: the mirror portal that would transport Yuko and me to Neráida. My steps carried me closer to the gate and a thrill of anticipation shot through me.

The last words of the chant burst from my throat and the portal snapped into focus, a still shining disk atop the surface of the pond, like a mirror reflecting nothing. I reacted instantly, flinging myself into the water and surrendering myself to the magical gateway I had conjured.

I fell. Sideways, backwards, inwards; directions were meaningless. I clenched my eyes shut and focused on the dire purpose burning in my heart: kill the faerie King, and rescue Danny if I could. Nothing else mattered.

Stillness. I forced my eyes open and dropped into a defensive crouch, my hands sliding towards my weapons. Yuko’s presence loomed behind me, still and reassuring. We stood at the end of a long courtyard, open to a night sky that was both moonless and starless. Once magnificent architecture crumbled around us, wreathed by withered vines and dead flowers. In every direction stretched a barren wasteland, pock-marked by shriveled-up streambeds and petrified stumps of trees.

I swallowed hard against a wave of disgust. So this was Neráida, where the Fae had once lived in beauty and plenty until they’d depleted all the magic from the land for selfish gain. Now they sought to do the same thing to my world by sucking all the magic out of people like me. Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen.

I snapped my gaze to the end of the courtyard, where Danny’s broad-shouldered frame slumped between the monstrous shapes of two faeries. Aria and Alek. Beyond them, on a throne as pale as bleached bone, sat the faerie King with his eyes shuttered against the world. Hate filled my chest as I stared at the silent, cold King, posed like an ice sculpture upon his throne of destruction. Now, after so long, I was close enough to avenge my mother’s death. I could hardly believe it.

“Yuko!” I hissed, my eyes never straying from the target of my vengeance. “Get ready. The only way I’ll be able to kill the faeries and their King is if you stop their spells.”

“I am always ready.” Yuko whispered, his voice deadly calm.

My weapons slithered out of their sheaths as I flung myself down the length of the courtyard toward the faeries. Aria and Alek turned, hissing dark spells, but Yuko’s power wrapped around me like a cocoon, dampening their magic. I blocked Alek’s desperate blows at my head and caught him in a chokehold. My knife kissed his throat as his cold carrion breath rasped loud in my ears.

“Yield!” Aria’s voice, strident. She held Danny in front of her like a shield; his blank eyes and slack jaw betrayed the fact that he had no clue what was happening. “You’re outmatched. If you kill Alek, you’ll die too.”

“Outmatched?” I choked on a laugh. “You have no weapons and can’t use your magic. Get out of my way before I kill you too.”

A cold smile twisted Aria’s features, and a finger of dread slid down my spine. “We’d never leave our starving King undefended. Look behind you.”

I obeyed almost against my will, turning to see a horde of wraiths materialize out of nowhere, an army of vacant undead soldiers marching steadily toward me. Fear wrapped a cold fist around my heart. I was going to die here after all, without avenging Mom or saving Danny.

“Oh, stop.” The voice rang from above, ancient and cold as death. Slowly–so slowly–the faerie King opened his eyes.

Story In The Round – Part 7

Hi everyone, I’m so thrilled to be part of Spellbound Scribes. Hope you like my inaugural post!

—-

That was an understatement.

With a jerk of my head, I motioned for Yuko to follow me into the woods, far enough so we didn’t attract attention, but near enough to draw on the power of the ritual and the white stones at its heart.

Ten years. I’d done nothing but practice for this day since my mother died. When my magic went with her, I turned to physical training, but the point was still the same. My destiny was to seek revenge for her untimely death – and all the others like her – and put an end to the madness that had caused it. But to do that, I would have to cross over into Neráida to kill the faerie King. I swallowed hard. No one had ever attempted that, not even in the shadowy times before recorded history.

But when they took Danny, I knew. Alek and Aria were here for our magic, just as my mother always feared. “Watch out for faeries and wraiths,” she’d say anytime we ventured out after dark, especially on the high holy days. We always thought it was a joke or her way of being overprotective. But obviously, the threat was very real. Sure, faeries appeared beautiful in this world, but I’d glimpsed their true, dark nature in Aria’s eyes. Once she was in her own plane, she’d drop the glamour and reveal herself as a monster.

All this because of something in our DNA, some strand of magic that had become entwined with our bloodline. The faerie King thought it would break the spell that held them in a barren land, giving them free reign into our world just has they had before our ancestors built the stone circles to keep them at bay.

But the joke was on him. By some fluke, they’d picked the wrong cousin to enchant. Danny didn’t have any magic in his blood. That’s why he’d spent his whole life with cauldrons, wands and spell books, trying to develop any latent talent he might have, while I could flood the whole house on a whim. He would do them no good. Strike one against the fairies.

I sighed. That was the least of my problems. Now that Danny was under their spell, he would blindly follow them to the other side, becoming a wrath – an undead faerie solider – without even realizing what had happened. That’s what happened to all spellbound humans who passed through the veil.

Beside me, Yuko hummed a tune that twined with the rhythm of the drums. I glanced over at my new ally. I hated to admit it, but I needed him. He was the only hunter in this part of the States. If I was going to get to the King, I’d probably have to go through the two faeries and their new zombie lapdog, Danny. My heart squeezed painfully at the thought. There was one way to bring Danny back unharmed, and my newly-restored powers made it possible, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Better to have backup in case I needed it. Strike two.

“There. Stop.” I led Yuko to a small pond that cast back a glimmering reflection of the bonfire. The stones were obscured from sight by the ring of smoke and flames, but I felt them pulsing as surely as the blood in my own veins. “The faeries are probably still guarding their gateway, but I can create a mirror portal just long enough for us to get through. Chances are good Alek and Aria will sense my magic and chase us back to other side. I’ll need you to stop their spells while I kill them. Leave Danny for last – we’ll save him if we can.”

Yuko, a man of few words, simply nodded.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and began to chant.

Story In The Round – Part 6

I’m going to take just a minute to say thank you to all the Scribes who have gone before me. I’m so happy to be here!!

And now for part 6 of the Story In The Round…
           

Right.

Mom faded back into whatever dancing heaven she’d come from, leaving me alone on the porch with the fireflies and the dark. What the hell was she thinking? I’d done everything I could for a single glimpse  – spells, incantations, begging on my knees in the dirt – and hadn’t felt the barest breath of her presence. Now, the first time I touch magic in years, I witness the arrival of two mysterious beings, I lose my housemate and best friend, and then Mom wanders by to tell me things are hopeless.

One too many creepy coincidences for me.

Anger poked its head up like a fractious gopher, rattling my mantle of calm. I popped the lock and flung open the front door, teeth clamped to hold back the crescendo of fear and frustration screaming up from around my heart.

I slung my backpack on the couch. Our tiny living room looked fine, normal. Danny’s magical detritus sat neatly around his desk, and my yarns and fabrics made a disordered pile in the corner.

My real toys were in the spare bedroom. See, magic isn’t the only source of power in this world.

I had to snicker when I glanced at a candle and it burst into flame. Apparently my tricks were back. Adding magic to my new, hard-won skills would be a very good thing.

Lifting the candle by its pottery base, I headed for the spare room. Eight katanas hung from the wall opposite the door, each sheathed in onyx, their ornate hilts gleaming in the candlelight. Utility shelves held French tomahawks, knives of various sizes, and throwing stars. All of them were cleaned and sharpened and ready to rock.

So was I.

The center of the room was empty, the wood floor polished by bare feet and sweat. That’s where I practiced. I kept a locked jewelry box on one of the shelves, mainly to hold my cell phone and debit card when I didn’t want to carry them. I’d left the cell phone home, figuring the magic of the dance might eff up it’s inner workings. Bringing it out of the jewelry box, I scanned my address book, looking for a name.

Found it.

My heart gave an extra-heavy thump.

Dialed.

My breath came in shallow pants. Sweat dribbled between my breasts.

Yuko answered, his voice dark satin, otherworldly.

I had to clear my throat before I could respond. “I need help.”

“It’ll cost you.”

 “I know.”

By the time I hung up, I’d twisted my long ginger hair into a knot at the nape of my neck. Yuko traveled fast. Dressed in black, with my hair pulled out of the way, I felt less like the pigtailed moppet who’d first contacted him six years ago. Still, when he came through the door, I almost backed out. His dark, glossy hair was cut on a knife’s edge at his shoulders, and his exotic eyes held secrets I didn’t want to learn. Beyond that, his core of preternatural stillness was way more dangerous than any of the blades I’d strapped on.

He closed the door, and I breathed deep, pulling in the faint scent of nag champa incense that followed him. I can do this.

“Well Deeny, it’s time to put your training into practice.”

 

New Scribes!

Hello everyone and happy Monday! *ducks to avoid flying tomatoes*

Anyway! I hope you all have been enjoying our Story in the Round as much as we have. It’s really taking on a life of it’s own and starting to get darker and creepier, which, of course, we all love.

We will be continuing with the SitR on Thursday, with one of our new Scribes: Liv Rancourt! And on that note, I’m pleased to share with you our big news! We have new Scribes! Four, actually!

Please welcome…

Liv Rancourt

Liv #2Liv writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Nicole Evelina

nicoleevelina-2_600

Nicole is a St. Louis-born historical fiction/historical fantasy writer. She is represented by Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary. When not working in public relations or playing with her spoiled twin Burmese cats, she spends most of her time at least a thousand years in the past. Currently, she’s writing a trilogy about Camelot and the life of the legendary Queen Guinevere. She’s also a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and an amateur historian, specializing in Celtic and Medieval Britain.

Lyra Selene

securedownloadLyra was born under a full moon and has never quite managed to wipe the moonlight out of her eyes.

Lyra grew up on a steady diet of Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper and Ursula K. LeGuin, dreaming of fantastic worlds both near and far. Her first novel, written when she was eight, followed exiled warrior princess Jade and her unicorn companion as they braved the deeps of the Forbidden Forest in search of the Lost Wizard Bendar. These days, Lyra writes young adult urban fantasy. She is inspired by world mythology, brooding landscapes, and the alchemy of love.

Jennah Scott

Jennah resides Kansas City, Missouri. Until sheJ.Scott
started writing she didn’t know what she wanted to be. Which is why
she has degrees in education, business, and medical assisting. All
that uncertainty has provided her with plenty of ideas for new books.
Her books span across the spectrum when it comes to genre. Her
contemporary books are available now, but soon she’ll be genre jumping
and diving head first into paranormal. When she isn’t writing she’s
causing trouble on Twitter, hanging out with family, or she’s lost in
a book. There’s one thing about Jennah, there will never be a dull
moment when she’s around.

We cannot wait to see what posts these ladies have in store for us!

Be sure to keep up with the Story in the Round before the sixth installment:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Story In The Round – Part 5

I wanted to run to her. My bare feet stuck to the ground, a pebble digging into my heel.

I didn’t move away to dislodge the pebble. Its round hardness against my weight reminded me that I was not dreaming, that I was not tucked away in bed. Danny was really gone, and in front of me stood…my mother.

My mother who was many years dead.

The words that had cluttered my heart since her death tripped over one another on the way to my lips until when I opened my mouth, no sound came out.

“Aideen,” she said. Her glowing form moved toward me. Fireflies winked behind her as if drawn to her radiance.

Beneath the glow, I saw the gentle curve of her arms. Her eyes stood out, green and bright as they ever were in life. Instead of the twinkle they used to hold, though, their depth was shrouded in darkness.

I took a step back. The pebble stuck to my heel. “How are you here?”

The words left my lips at only a sliver above a whisper and disappeared into the air before I could be sure I’d really spoken.

“I don’t have much time,” she said. Her gaze flickered up the hill where the bonfire burned like a hungry star. For a moment, I thought I saw a shadow of wistful longing.

I waited for her answer, a thousand questions lining up behind my silence. Not much time — what was that supposed to mean? How was she here? No matter how thin the veil or how holy the day, the dead couldn’t just pop in without great need.

My thoughts shifted to Danny. “Why did you come?”

That she would come now, now when Danny had vanished into the Solstice night after warning me about the very fae who would spirit him away — it bemused and discomfited where years ago I would have felt only relief. My voice grew stronger in her silence. “Why did you come?”

She reached out one still-glowing hand, almost incandescent in the darkness of the night. My mother’s fingertips trailed on empty air, the distance between us more than two feet of open space.

“I needed to tell you…” she trailed off, eyes on a firefly that guttered green-gold in front of her face. She frowned, turned her head as if distracted by something I couldn’t hear.

“What did you need to tell me?” I closed my eyes. I couldn’t look at her. This confused spirit, so different than the effulgent woman who had floated on air itself on a Solstice night so long ago.

Opening my eyes once more, I half-expected for her to be gone, blown away on the breeze, leaving only a wake of fireflies to remind me that she’d ever existed.

“I needed to tell you…” My mother’s gaze focused in on my face, the darkness heavy as the depths of a cavern behind the green. “You can’t save Danny, Aideen. You’ll never save him.”

The night swallowed her glow.

***

You can see the earlier parts of this story here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Story in the Round – Part 4

The air whooshed from my lungs in a single heartbeat, and I remembered Danny’s warning once again.

Watch out for fairies and wraiths.

I opened my mouth to speak, but Danny pressed a finger to my lips. His eyes were wide, vacant; his mouth hung slack until his own lips parted in speech.  He turned to Aria and dropped to his knees. “We’re at your service,” he said, bowing his head.  “We must obey your king.”

I gasped. What is he doing?

Aria’s lips curled into a satisfied smile. Moments earlier I’d have called her beautiful. Now she was intimidating.  Frightening. She seemed to have grown taller, more solid. Her eyes burned into Danny’s, steady and unblinking.

“Danny,” I hissed, knowing the fairies could hear me, wishing they couldn’t. “Danny, what are you doing?”

He ignored me, and reached for Aria’s hand. She gave it willingly, and he pressed his lips to the fine, white flesh of her inner wrist, his eyes never leaving hers. The fairy’s skin pulsed with light from within, her tattoos dancing as though alive. Their steps matched almost exactly the steps Danny and I had danced moments before.

Alek stepped closer to me. He smelled of cinnamon and something else. It was a rotten, carrion scent, and I resisted the urge to cover my nose. His hand gripped my shoulder. “And you?” he hissed, his mouth suddenly too close to my ear. His breath was hot and wet.  “Are you at our service as well?”

Get away from him!

A voice – my mother’s voice, emerging  as though from a long-forgotten dream – pierced the chaotic hum of my sudden panic, commanding me to obey. I stepped back, out of the ring of smoke, away from the thump-thump-thump of the drums, away from the dancers, the fairies. Away from Danny.

Alek hissed.

The world trembled as I emerged from the smoke. It blurred. When it came back into focus, Danny and the fairies were gone.

“Danny,” I cried, peering into the smoke. My cry was swallowed whole by the drums, by the fire.

“Danny!”

The dancers continued dancing to the beat of the drums, and I was left alone in the darkness.

****

Our shoebox house sat at the foot of the hill atop which the bonfire burned. It was to there I ran, hoping to find Danny sitting on the front stoop, waiting for me, as if the whole night had been nothing but a terrible dream.

As I sped toward the glow of the single-bulb porch light, the fireflies around me ceased their nighttime frolic. The thrum of cicadas quieted and the rhythmic calls of bullfrogs silenced.The stars winked out one by one by one, and, finally, the porch went dark.

The warm, velvet air of the summer night turned cold.  My skin blistered with goose flesh and I shivered against the breeze. My house  – our house, mine and Danny’s – became shadow in the night, nothing more than a darker spot against the darkness.  I approached, and saw a flicker, a movement on the front stoop.

“Danny?” I called. My heart leaped. Maybe it was just a dream.

Then the flicker began to glow. It took form, shape, and my mouth dropped open.

“Mom?”