To title or not to title!

There are just two days to go until I begin my challenge. I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo, so writing a novel in 79 days shouldn’t be that difficult, except this time it’s for charity and I’m starting to feel the pressure. 

I don’t have a title for a start, and that’s the issue. Do I start without one? I’ve done that with short stories and the title has come to me at the end, but I’ve usually had a rough idea what the title will be for my novels. It would help to reference the work, too. When I’m giving up dates, the novel that is yet to be named will start to get old!

I did make it a little easier for myself by using familiar characters. I haven’t worked with Maddy for a while, but I’m sure I can immerse myself in her world and achieve my daily word challenge in order to finish on time.

I’m also giving readers an opportunity to take part by naming a character and a place/building. All suggestions will go into a hat and the winners announced Sunday, the day it all starts!

If you would like to get involved, drop your suggestions in the comments and I’ll add those to the hat!

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Mind Games: Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge

It’s been a while since I took part in Colleen and Ronovan’s Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge. I tried to follow the theme, I had every intention of writing a mystery. But sometimes you have to go where the story takes you, and I got a kick out of the voice in my head so I went with it.

Because we’re encouraged to use quotes, and I miss sharing them, I’ll lead with that – a quote from Albert Einstein –

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

Mind Games

The moment I woke I knew something was wrong. Well, okay, there were clear indicators, for one I couldn’t feel my arms or legs. My mind helped me out with that, and gave me a helpful image of being strapped to a table, or perhaps I should say a horrifying image.

Things got worse from there. When I opened my eyes it hit me all at once; the blurred vision, disorientation and an odd metallic taste in my mouth. I’d been given drugs. All those lectures from my parents, the times I’d earned my brownie points and just said no, and someone had shot me up.

I took a moment to freak out, time in which I would have thrashed against my restraints – if I’d felt them, that is. But then the voices distracted me. They were quiet, mere whispers, and not being able to make out the words was somehow worse than hearing them at all. It could have been worse, it could have been, god forbid, a club tune; the devil’s music as my dear old gran used to say. She was a bit of a kook, I’ll admit, but at that moment, a pounding beat would have tipped me right over the edge.

The strangest thing was, though I knew I had an eccentric god-fearing woman in my ancestry, and random memories hit me like a slap upside the head, I had no other points of reference.

In that kind of situation, the mind can be extremely helpful, or unhelpful depending on how you choose to look at it. To distract me, my considerate brain offered up a series of dizzying scenarios for me to consider. I was a soldier, special forces, naturally, and I had been separated from my unit. I was an undercover agent and I had come too close to discovering a deadly secret. I was a genius savant and my gigantic brain had tipped me over the edge into crazy town.

Round and round the fantasies went, fed by the drugs, my hysteria, and the fact I had no clue what was going on. For all I knew I was a guinea pig – the only uninfected human on the planet and the scientists had gone for a fag break, before they injected me with more of their crazy potions. No. Wait. If I was the only one uninfected, there wouldn’t be any scientists left to carry out the experiments. Anyway.

I settled on zombie apocalypse and was scaring the bejesus out of myself when I heard my name. I focused, squinting to make out the shadowy form, and I was so lost in the illusion, naturally I saw a zombie. He didn’t leap on top of me, or try to eat my brains, so he was either on a steady diet, or he wasn’t really a zombie at all.

“Can you hear me?” Pause. “Jessica. My name is Dr. Jenkins. Can you hear me?” The voice was soft, non-threatening, the kind you might use on a small child or an animal backed into a corner.

I didn’t respond. For some reason I was afraid of this stranger. I heard different words echoing through my head, frightening words about experiments and phases of treatment and I knew I had done this to myself. I had caused the uncontrollable panic wracking my body. The hallucinations came thick and fast then. My eyes cleared and I was in a small room surrounded by personal crap. I blinked and I was in a cell; cold and dark and dingy. Then back to a place that might have been a hospital, and since the whispering voices were familiar, I couldn’t help but latch onto the savant fantasy.

I relaxed a little, that was until the scene changed again and it didn’t change to anything good. Now I was chained to a cold, hard slab and the whispering voices were coming from faceless creatures behind bars. I blinked rapidly, ready to see something else, anything else, but it only made it worse. I was surrounded by large metal constructs, which looked suspiciously like bird cages. I think I might have screamed, but the sound was more like a squawk.

When I heard my name again I turned, cringing back when a light hit me square in the eyes.

“Jessica. My name is Dr Jenkins,” the voice parroted, but this time the sound was accompanied by touch, and I was so relieved to have some feeling back, the fog cleared a little.

I could make out his features this time, and the more I concentrated, the more I could see. Sounds rushed in, more than whispers this time. I heard the steady pulse of machinery, and the beep of a heart monitor.

It was then I saw her, my mother, cradled in my father’s arms as she sobbed into his chest. I had done that too. Memories flooded my brain as quickly as the tears spilling down my cheeks. I had been at a party, my friends’ laughter echoing around, and I accepted a drink from a stranger.

“Mum,” I croaked, as the room began to spin.

She turned her grief stricken face towards me, and it was the last thing I saw before my mind went quiet and all thoughts snapped off.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

 

Completing the Cycle – Thursday Photo Prompt: Roses #writephoto

Completing the Cycle – Written for Sue’s Photo Prompt.

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Rebecca stepped onto the front porch and froze when she saw the obstacle in her path. She knew what it meant, what they represented, and her heart began to pound. The song was next. It came at her from behind, in her own damn house, the haunting melody pulsing into her very core as her legs gave out and she dropped to her knees.

Her gaze fell on the roses and she thought of Matt, of the shriveled, decaying dream she once had; now as dried up as the flowers and their crumbling leaves. She watched them tear apart and flutter in the breeze, taking the last of her broken memories. He had finally come for her, and this time he intended to end it. Why else would he leave the real thing, the symbol of their dying love, if not to complete the cycle – as she had hoped he would.

Rebecca’s hand shot out, but hovered inches from the bouquet. In her mind the colour was a luscious, vibrant red. She had been so happy the day Matt gave them to her; young and innocent and in love. It didn’t last. The bloom fell from the relationship well before the flowers withered and lost their glow. She hadn’t known about Matt’s illness then, hadn’t expected he could hurt her.

“May I have the honour of this dance?”

Rebecca felt the breath catch in her throat. It was time. She had known he was there, in her house; toying with her. He had always been good at that, at finding weakness and exploiting it. “I think I’ll pass.” Her throat sounded scratchy, and for some reason she thought of the thorns.

“Don’t be like that,” Matt said from the doorway. He was using his quiet voice, his scary quiet voice, and yet she felt no fear. Not this time.

“You were the first man to give me flowers. The only man.” She turned towards him. “You’ll also be the last.” Rebecca stood, her legs unsteady. Not her thoughts, though. No, her mind was focused for the first time in months. The waiting was always the hardest. “It’s time to finish this. I’m done.”

“We’ll never be done,” Matt said, stepping forward. “You belong to me.”

Without taking her eyes from him, Rebecca crouched to retrieve the roses. There was no hesitation this time. She crushed them in her hand, and felt a slight scratch across her palm. Matt moved, eyes glittering, and the moment he stepped out onto the porch she slapped her hand against the floor.

The spell snapped into place immediately. Rebecca felt it buzz along her skin. It hurt, but she could deal with a little pain; she’d endured worse from Matt.

With her eyes still on his, she moved back so she was on the edge of the porch. He tried to follow her, but he couldn’t move. She saw the moment he realised what she’d done, and the satisfaction was like a hit of vodka; it went straight to her head.

“I never wanted this,” she told him. “But you gave me no choice.”

“Your juvenile spell can’t hold me forever.” Matt’s body began to vibrate with rage, and she knew he was fighting the hold.

“It doesn’t need to, because it’s already done.” Taking a deep breath, Rebecca placed her hands on the side of the porch and took a deep breath. “I’m taking away your power. Literally. And you will never be able to hurt me again.”

Energy shot through her, the impact taking her off her feet. Her chest burned, a white hot pain that she knew was a brand in her soul as well as her skin. On unsteady legs, she regained her feet. Matt was lying in the exact spot he had placed the roses, his skin pale, his eyes brimming with fear.

“What have you done?”

She walked to stand over him, pulling at the neck of her jumper so he could see the representation of her freedom, a talisman scored into her flesh. “What you intended to do. I broke the cycle and I’m letting go of the past.”

Matt screamed, a loud, high pitched noise that drowned out the song still playing in the background. Music to her ears. She dropped her head back and stared at the trap she had carved into the ceiling. It had taken days, a drop in the ocean compared to the time she had waited for this very scene to play out.

When Matt’s scream became a low whine of defeat, Rebecca smiled and glanced down at her chest. The roses were hers now, and they would not wither or die; they did not instill her with fear. They gave her strength, and protection. The best gift of all. “Thank you for the flowers,” she said, and walked back into the house.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 21 – Fresh

I have to admit, when I saw the theme for Hugh’s photo challenge this week, I heard my nan’s voice in my head! She used to chastise my grandfather for being ‘fresh’ with her. Of course he did it on purpose, and teased her mercilessly.

Then I thought about how I could reflect the theme and, I have to be honest, I got a little carried away. There are so many possibilities: fresh air; snow; paint; cream; coffee; flowers; water – I could go on. Needless to say, I had trouble deciding, so I settled on a collection of random shots, which incorporate the theme – as far as I see it.

PicMonkey CollagePicMonkey Collage2

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My brother took these shots on a skiing trip, so he gets the credit 🙂

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I really enjoy taking part in the challenge. I try to contribute to others when I can, though it has not been easy of late. Sue has a pretty great photo challenge, which I’ve been meaning to take part in for a few weeks now. I’ll try my best to fit it in this week, when the next prompt is released on Thursday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 20 – Solitude

I haven’t taken part in Hugh’s photo challenge for a while, but I felt compelled to this week. Perhaps it’s because my week has been consumed with photography – my eldest daughter has three projects to complete for her photography class and she likes to involve the whole family!

The theme also spoke to me. I’m a solitary person, I think writers are in general; we’re never really alone – what with the characters in our head! I’m at ease in solitude, it soothes me, and allows me to recharge my batteries. It’s not that I don’t like being with people, it’s that I like my own company, too. I can write anywhere and at any time. It’s easy for me to switch off, even in a crowded café, but there’s something to be said for the quiet peace of nature.

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When I’m on holiday, I tend to be on the go; exploring a new place so I can soak it in. I usually find a quiet spot to reflect. The first photo, a place named Durdle Door in Dorset, gave the perfect backdrop and I almost got lost in my moment of solitude!

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I lived in Dorset for a while, and loved the area. When I got time off, I went exploring with my family. Bournemouth beach is wonderful, especially at six in the morning when there are few people around and the beauty of it settles like a calming breath. The second photo was taken on one of my early morning outings. I took a notebook and a cup of coffee, and let the inspiration flow.

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The last two photographs are here because the garden used to be one of my favourite places to relax and find time for myself. The garden was built below the house, and though you can’t see it in the photograph, a decking area provided the perfect viewpoint. I would sit out in the evening or in the morning, and enjoy the scenery.

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Thanks to Hugh for providing the inspiration and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Squeaky Goodness – Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge

This is kind of a long introduction, so if you are pushed for time, and you know what the Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge is, you can jump to the good stuff below – the quote and short story!

I mentioned on Saturday that I miss my friends, and it is the absolute truth. I try my best to keep up with posts, and check in. I particularly enjoy Colleen and Ronovan’s challenges, and wish I could take part more often. When I saw that they have an awesome new format (you should check it out), and the theme this week is Romance, it got me thinking about a scene I started earlier but couldn’t quite finish.

I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about The Collective, a serialised fiction project. I begin releasing episodes in April, and you would think, at this point, I have things nailed on. You would be right – sort of. Although the first episode is ready, and just needs checking over by my editor, I still feel there is something missing. One of the main characters, a god, who is a great deal of fun to write; sardonic, egotistical, and somewhat complex, opens the episode. At the beginning, his mood is, shall we say, dark, and though readers will discover why, I can’t help wondering if I should show a snippet of the events that led to his current mood.

So, if I may, I’d like you to be my sounding board. This is the scene I wrote as an alternative beginning to the chapter, and though the romance is dark, the love shines through (I hope), so it fits the theme (I also hope!)

First, one of my favourite quotes about love –

 cactus

Here is the scene, which I finished, and titled ‘Squeaky Goodness’ – it needs work, but let me know what you think.

Power shot across the lush, green-carpeted forest, scorching the grass. Orion was oblivious to the discharge of energy, or to the tears, which soaked into the earth and reformed the damaged ground. His Mohana was gone, cut down in her prime and why? Betrayal. The worst kind of injustice, because this betrayal came from a loved one – Mohana’s twin.

Orion could have saved her, had he reached her in time. Now he was impotent, unable to move for fear he would shatter into a thousand pieces. When Adara had struck the killing blow, the impact tore through his own heart and left it numb; a shrivelled, hollow organ he wanted to rip from his chest, if only so he could join Mohana.

They should never have been, and yet their pairing made more sense than his whole sorry existence. She made his immortal life bearable. Now he faced eternity alone. Even with all the power he possessed, Orion didn’t know if he had the strength for that. Mohana understood him. She had been his equal, and it mattered little he was a god. Not when they were together.

Mohana was born nine minutes before Adara, and as the first-born child, this made her the rightful heir to Clan Ignatius. She had been a powerful sorcerer, a gifted leader, and she had somehow found it in her to love Orion. Him, with an ego the size of a dominion, and too many flaws to count. He amused her, genuinely amused her. Mohana had laughed at his antics, told stories of his accomplishments and shown him how it truly felt to be a god. All his life Orion had been feared, envied and worshipped at one ridiculous alter after another. Until he met Mohana, he actually believed it was his duty to put on a show. To become the pompous jerk his followers expected, those who knew of his existence. Mohana’s strength of spirit, her goodness, humbled him and, without her, his world had no meaning.

Orion felt it building in his chest; the bitterness, the self-hatred, and he did nothing to stop it. He was weak. He hadn’t even had the courage to say his final goodbyes, to look upon her face one last time and let her go. No, he had left the veil that covered her body in place, turned away from the water and walked away. He had fallen as the first arrow whizzed through the air, knowing the archer’s aim would be true and he could not watch Mohana burn. All the atrocities he had seen, the wars he had fought – he did not have it in him to witness his love go up in flames.

Orion had no idea how long he lay sprawled in the grass, masked from sight because Adara had tried to keep the ceremony from him. In another life, he would have made her pay for the insult, she deserved to feel his wrath, and she would. Just not today. Not today.

When his tears dried up, Orion became aware of the heat he was channelling. His energy was still leaking out, poisoning the earth, and killing everything around him. He couldn’t stop it. It had built too quickly, accelerated by his turbulent thoughts.

“Forgive me,” he whispered to the ground. Orion knew, immortal or not, he could not survive the impact if his power reached critical and he lost control.

“Orion. No!”

A heavy weight landed on top of him, and a familiar energy closed in tight. Lucas pushed his arms beneath Orion and the ground, attempting to contain the anger, and grief, and despair. The angel was powerful, but he was not powerful enough.

“Work with me, you son of a bitch. Pull it back. Do it now.” Lucas’ voice came out clipped. He was fighting against the pain of their connection.

“Try…ing.” Orion clenched his teeth. “Get off me.” The energy burned him, but he held tight to it, even as the angel ignored his demand and held tight to him. That was friendship for you, and Lucas seemed about ready to follow him into the abyss. Orion suspected, should Lucas have an actual halo, the thing would shine with squeaky goodness.

He could feel the Guardian’s love bearing down on him, and though he wanted to deny the reminder he was still alive, instead he embraced it. He would be no kind of god if he allowed his friend to perish. Mohana would never forgive such weakness, and besides, he kind of loved the angel too.

As Orion sucked back the power, he felt a final tear roll down his cheek and drop to the ground. Mohana had loved the earth, she would not wish for him to harm her forest. He could give her that. If he couldn’t say goodbye, he could mend what he had broken.

His last thought, as he concentrated on Lucas and the arms clamped tight around him, was that it would be a lonely eternity without her.


 

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

The Sacrifice – FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #13

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes

Ronovan’s prompt this week:

  • Word Count of 500. (SUGGESTED)
  • Take your favorite quote from a movie and use it as inspiration for your entry this week. If you want more direction, make it the last sentence in your piece. (REQUIRED)

 

I’ve been unable to participate in Ronovan’s challenge for the last few weeks, and I’ve missed taking part. When I saw the prompt, and given that I wanted to write something for Valentine’s, I decided to go with it. It’s a little rushed, so I apologise for that, and I’m nervous about using the line because I know I didn’t do it justice. Not even a little bit. Still, it was fun.

To say I loved Deadpool is an understatement. It might just be my all time favourite movie, and I think Ryan Reynolds did a wonderful job of bringing Wade Wilson to life. I was tempted to write a story in which I broke the fourth wall, one of my favourite things about Deadpool, but I think I’ll save that until I’m feeling braver!

So, it’s obvious by now, but the line I chose is from Deadpool Enjoy 🙂

The Sacrifice

Sebastian turned away from his partner, who was heaving his breakfast, and possibly everything he’d eaten in the last two days, onto the pavement. Darren was beyond green, the poor kid looked ready to pass out. It wasn’t unusual; crime scenes were never pretty, so when you were human and dealing with a whole heap of supernatural nasty, well, puking went with the territory.

“Shit, man,” one of his officers ground out. “Who called Jeremiah’s posse?”

Sebastian followed the officer’s gaze to the two figures bearing down on them. The one in front, tall, built, and with hair prettier than his sister’s, wore a look Sebastian recognised. Ignatius Steele was an arrogant son of a bitch. Unfortunately, he was also the right person for the job, and they needed him.

“Look out, boys, here comes the elf squad.” Sebastian took in the berry-coloured suit, which shimmered like a second skin. “And they have a new uniform to boot.”

Ignatius gave a bow, immune to the jibe, as always.

“What the hell?” Darren straightened, one hand clamped around his waist as though trying to convince his stomach to stay put. “Did I miss the memo? Or are you wearing that for a bet?”

“How would you like to cough up more than the contents of your stomach?” Isabella snapped, stepping in front of Ignatius.

Darren rolled his eyes, whether to fight nausea or impatience, Sebastian couldn’t be sure. “How the hell did you hear about this so soon?”

Ignatius smiled, turning his distinguished features into the stuff of nightmares. Manic was too tame a word. “It’s Christmas day, and I’m after someone on my naughty list!”

“Actually,” Sebastian cut in. “You’re getting your festivals crossed. It’s Valentine’s, so you dug out the elf suit for nothing. And when I say this, I mean it with all due respect, but you should never wear that thing, not even at Christmas.”

To this, Ignatius reached forward and plucked Sebastian from the ground. Despite his formidable strength, Ignatius didn’t hurt him, except maybe his pride. He crushed Sebastian to his chest as he roared with what could have passed for laughter, though, again with the manic. This wasn’t typical behaviour for the elves, but then, there was nothing typical about Ignatius.

When Sebastian was back on terra firma, he quit with the pleasantries, and got down to business. “What happened in that warehouse is so beyond evil it isn’t funny. No more jokes about holidays because, that in there.” Sebastian pointed over his shoulder. “Is the kind of red you don’t want to see, and there’s nothing left of the poor guy’s heart.”

Ignatius and Isabella stepped forward without another word. They moved into the warehouse, through to the gruesome scene that, even now, was burned into Sebastian’s brain. He looked to Darren, who was back on his knees, cursing everything that had passed his lips, and then followed the pair back into a nightmare.

The moment he crossed the threshold, Sebastian felt the rage leaking from Ignatius like lifeblood. He had his forehead pressed tight against his partner’s, and Isabella was murmuring in a familiar language, Sebastian still found difficult to process.

“We have a problem,” Ignatius said, without looking at him. “You were right about the evil, but you haven’t seen anything yet. This was merely the beginning. A sacrifice and a warning of what is yet to come.”

“Shit.” Sebastian braced himself when he saw Ignatius move. He was glad he did because the elves’ eyes reflected the horror in the room. They were blood red.

“We are going to need the power of a saint,” Ignatius said. “To prevent the birth of a demon.”

Sebastian didn’t even hesitate. “Tell me what to do.”

“Call on Orion. This is a job for the Collective.”

***

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Feverish Part 3: Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes #9

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes

This week, Ronovan challenged us to write a story based on the following sentence:

Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine.

To find out more about Ronovan’s challenge click here.

I’m cutting it fine this week, and I have good news and bad news. The good is that I finally managed to finish the story! The not so good is that I couldn’t complete it within the suggested word limit. As it is a suggested limit I don’t feel too bad, although I did double the 500 word target!

As this is the third part, here is a quick summary of the previous installments:

Maddison Wood is a mercenary. She is also a powerful witch, and a member of the Enchanted League. When the Hympe King contracts a virus, and his people begin to get sick, Maddison agrees to help. Her partner in crime, a werewolf named Riley, located the source of the virus – a hympe who imprisoned himself in the shape of a tree (hympe’s are shapeshifters). The Hympe King is the only one who can free the prisoner but, due to an uncontrollable rage brought on by the fever, the team might not be able to contain him long enough for him to focus his power.

Feverish Part 3

Marcus and the siren twins made it in under thirty minutes. All three guards looked exhausted; their expressions grim, their shoulders hunched. Of course, they had the added weight of a king on their shoulders, since they were carrying Tobias – literally.

“We don’t have much time,” Marcus said, and his voice was heavy with fatigue.

Maddison made her way over to the group, with Riley on her heels. The tension was so thick, it was like wading through treacle. Jonas’ words sprang to mind; their commander and chief had a tendency towards the dramatics. Maddison could hear his voice in her head, like an echo of his earlier warning.

Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine.

That mission hadn’t gone so well, and Maddison still remembered the bitter taste of their defeat. But they wouldn’t lose this time. She wouldn’t allow it.

“What’s the plan?” she asked Marcus. “Other than poking the bear and waking his ass up.”

Riley’s low rumble of laughter did nothing to ease the animosity. It was leaking out of Marcus’ pores and, since he ignored her question, Maddison took that as a zero in the ideas department.

By the time they lowered Tobias to the ground, Maddison was out of patience. She didn’t have it in her to argue protocol, or worse, debate over how they would handle Tobias’ condition.

She knelt beside him and focused her power. Her hair shot out, the braid controlled, and as lethal as a snake, her locks wound themselves tight around Tobias’ torso. When she had enough energy focused on her silken trap, she leaned forward to take Tobias’ hand until her fingers brushed the wide band on his finger. Maddison had given the ring to him for protection, to anchor him in the present. It had worked before, and she had to believe it would work again.

“Wake him,” she said to Marcus, and cut off his protest before he could utter a word. “We don’t have time to argue.”

Marcus didn’t like it, she could feel his anxiety, yet she knew he couldn’t deny her connection to his king.

Maddison closed her eyes, pushing out with her mind to find Tobias. ‘How’re you holding up, half-blood?’ she asked. It probably wasn’t a good idea to push his buttons, but it hadn’t stopped her before.

Every muscle in Tobias’ body locked, and she knew he was getting ready to fight the binds. ‘What’s happening?’

He sounded confused, whether from the prolonged sleep or the amount of power she was using, Maddison’ couldn’t be sure. ‘You’re sick, and the virus has put you in a perpetual bad mood, so you need to get a hold on that temper and help us out.’

‘I hurt you.’

Maddison felt her brows draw together, and for a second she thought her brain had scrambled too. Then she remembered he’d drawn blood during their fight; the first indication of the illness. ‘Yes, I still owe you for that one, but we’ll save the rematch for when you’re not feeling so cranky.’

“What’s happening?”

The question came from one of the twins. Maddison didn’t know which one, it took all her effort to hold on when Tobias began to thrash. ‘Stop.’ She directed a blast of power into the ring, and felt it heat beneath her fingers. ‘You need to focus your energy to use your gift.’ When Tobias’ body stilled again, Maddison forged ahead. ‘Your people are sick, Tobias. You have to help them.’

Tobias didn’t reply, but he didn’t move either. So she told him about the hympe who had imprisoned himself in the form of a tree, one of Tobias’ subjects in desperate need for an intervention. She didn’t tell him they were running out of time, or that the hympe was the key to curing him.

She wanted to sag in relief when she felt Tobias’ power dance with her own. He was reaching out, using his entire focus. She didn’t move. Maddison remained locked in place, ignoring the pain in her skull and the exertion of maintaining the connection.

Maddison had no idea that Tobias’ guards were using their skills to strengthen that hold. All three had linked to their king and were helping to ease his growing frustration.

Riley, whose animal half had detected Maddison’s distress, howled in warning. She felt his presence like a comforting hand on her shoulder.

She knew the moment Tobias freed the hympe from his self-induced prison, but there was no pull of relief this time. Maddison didn’t have it in her. Tobias was straining against her, the rage hitting her in great waves as he struggled to regain control. She felt their connection break when he tugged his hand out of hers, and fear ran along her skin.

“Put him out,” Marcus barked, his voice coming from somewhere far away. “We need to get them out of here. Now.”

The second Tobias stilled again, Maddison let go. She didn’t have any choice. She had expelled too much energy and there was nothing left to give. There was nothing left to keep her upright either. If it hadn’t been for Riley, she would have fallen on her face.

Riley’s arms were like steel traps around her, and she leaned into his strength. Maddison even allowed it when he nuzzled his face into her neck. It was a compulsion of the wolf, and a sign of the animal’s affection. Still, she didn’t humour him for long. Her hair flipped out like a cat’s tail and flicked him playfully on the head. Maddison felt his body shudder with a growl of laughter.

“Okay, fur-face, stop slobbering on me and let me up. Our job here is done.”

Riley obliged with a wicked grin. “What about Tobias?” he asked, as she straightened.

“His guards will serve up the cure, and then I’ll serve up an ass kicking for all the shit he’s pulled.”

The rumble of amusement came again, deep from Riley’s chest. “You do know that he’s a king, right. And he happens to rule the League.”

Maddison shrugged. “Somebody has to keep him on his toes.” Then, because she was still feeling a little weak, she rerouted her energy and looked across the clearing. “Let’s get out of here. Make yourself useful and find the nearest portal.”

“Try to keep up,” Riley said in a low taunting voice, and set off at a run.

The burst of challenge was just what Maddison needed. Not to mention the satisfaction of knowing Tobias would be well, and sparring with her again in no time.

***

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Feverish Part 2: Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes #8

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes

This week, Ronovan challenged us to write a story based on an image (below). To find out more, click here.

boab tree.png

I mentioned last week that my story, Feverish, would be a two part tale, and that I would incorporate the new prompt. I did manage to weave in the tree, but I couldn’t complete the story without going over the word limit I gave myself (1000 words). That means it’s turned into a three part story. Hopefully, next week I can finish it, while incorporating a whole new prompt!

You probably need to read part 1 to follow the story, but here is a summary:

Maddison Wood is a mercenary. She is also a powerful witch, and a member of the Enchanted League. When the Hympe King contracts a virus, and his people begin to get sick, Maddison agrees to help. With her partner in crime, a werewolf named Riley, Maddison is searching for the origin of the virus. Riley drank a potion in order to search out the source. In his wolf form, Riley was able to pick up the trail and is on the hunt.

Feverish Part 2

If it hadn’t been for Fitz and his band of merry cats, Maddison would have lost her friend’s trail. In wolf form, Riley was fast. Too fast. And now he was burning off some seriously bad mojo, given the spell originated from a powerful god.

The wolves held back, keeping to the shadows of the mighty forest. Maddison knew they wouldn’t intervene unless one of their own was in trouble. Until then, they were merely along for the ride.

They found Riley a few minutes later. He was circling a large tree, a species foreign to Aronmyre and the Enchanted Forest. The base was large and swollen. It gave the strange impression it had split at the seams, considering the large opening at the centre. The upper branches, thick and heavy, reached up toward the sky like an offering.

The tree looked alien, so out of place, Maddison wondered why they hadn’t been drawn to it. It was like a homing beacon of discontent.

She could feel the sadness coming off the tree; it was in the air, in the land beneath their feet. When she glanced around, Maddison saw the others felt it too.

“Hey, wolf-man, what have we got?” she asked Riley as she approached. His responding growl surprised her. “I don’t have time for a wolfy chat,” she said, following his progress as he made another lap of the tree. “So I kind of need my friend back for the next part.”

Riley’s wolf usually recognised her. The animal responded to her voice, to her touch. But not this time. Instead of obliging, she got another low, threatening growl, and a flash of dark amber eyes.

Maddison watched him for a second, and then she grew tired of the show. She dropped to her hands and knees and waited out the next lap until they were face to face. Riley stopped, fur bristling, and lips pulled back in a snarl. She knew when he crouched, he was way past angry and had hit pissed off territory.

She ignored the aggressive posture and gathered power at her core. Maddison felt it build. It travelled up through her lungs and gathered in a pocket of air, which she blew directly in the animal’s direction. Under normal circumstances, it was a risky move. A sure way to get your head bitten off was to blow in the face of a wolf. But this was Riley, and it was no ordinary breath. It contained the same kind of energy she used to purge her system of foreign substances.

A second later Riley appeared in his human form. He moved forward, and touched his forehead to hers. Maddison allowed the gesture for a beat or two, and then sat back to look into his dark eyes. “What have we got?” she asked again.

Riley motioned to the tree. “That’s the origin of the disease.” He glanced at the bulbous base, which was at eye level, and then back. “Want to huff and puff and blow the thing down?”

She grinned as she got to her feet and held out a hand to him. But not before she waved a hand in front of his body and clothed him in a colourful pair of shorts. “Isn’t that my line?” Maddison asked, her attention back on the tree.

If the thing was in fact the origin of the fever, it meant it wasn’t a tree at all. It was a hympe and, despite Riley’s teasing, she had no idea how to return the hympe to its true form.

Maddison pulled one of the gold rings from her hair and threw it into the air. It expanded on descent, so it was a hundred millimetres in diameter by the time it hit the ground. She waved a hand, her lips forming a soft chant until a shaft or circular light appeared. A moment later Maddison was looking at Marcus, head guard to the Hympe King.

Her lips twitched when Marcus sucked in a breath. Not surprising when the glass chamber in front of him became a window to their location. “We found the source,” she said, forgoing the pleasantries.

Marcus’ gaze moved to take in the view. “I’ll be there in thirty minutes. You need to clear out before we arrive. I’ll need Tobias for this, and he’d perform better without an audience right now.”

She wanted to laugh. What Marcus meant was that Tobias was difficult to control in the throes of his fever and he didn’t want to clean up the mess. “So that’s it. We find the main player and we don’t get to enjoy the show?”

“It’s your funeral.” Marcus shrugged. “As long as you’re all aware of the risks and don’t get in our way.”

“That’s what I love about your, Marcus. You’re all heart.” Maddison waved her hand and the connection terminated. She moved to retrieve her ring, before turning to the group. “You heard Marcus. Our role here is done.”

Both packs began to disperse.

“You’re staying aren’t you?” Fitz asked, glancing around the clearing.

Maddison shrugged. “Whether Marcus likes it or not, it’s my job to help him contain the situation. I still work for the League, and Tobias needs me.”

Fitz moved when Maddison held up her hand to him. He pressed his palm against hers and bowed. Then he turned and went after his pack.

“After this is over, I want to discuss your wardrobe choice,” Riley said, frowning down at the yellow shorts. When Maddison shrugged, he turned serious. “What’s going to happen?”

“Tobias is the only one who can coax the hympe out of hiding, given his control over living organisms. Once he does that, he’ll need some of the hympe’s blood for an antidote.” Maddison thought of his rage the last time they met. “But he has no control, so I’m not sure Tobias can tap into the power he needs to pull this off.”

Riley nodded. “Whatever happens, I have your back.”

“Why do you think you’re here fur-face?” Maddison laughed when he snapped his teeth at her. “In the meantime, we might as well take a load off. We’re in for a bit of a wait.”

***

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Feverish: Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes #7

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes

This week, Ronovan challenged us to write a story incorporating a minimum of three words from the following list: dog, cat, toy, fever, ski, fluffy, machete, purple drink. We were also encouraged to write a humour piece. To find out more, click here.

To keep the word count down, I decided to write a two-part story. The second part isn’t written yet, so I may be able to tie it in with the prompt next week (I’ll try my best).

I decided to use (as I often do) familiar characters for this tale, so here is a little background:

After the Demonic War, a battle which devastated the mortal realm, humans now stick to the world’s major cities. To even the score, and to protect those cities, hunters joined together to establish cells across the globe. Maddison Wood is part of an alpha cell within the north of England. Though a skilled fighter and powerful witch, Maddison can be brash, and unpredictable. She has a penchant for trouble, and is usually the first to volunteer in battle.

Feverish – Part One

Maddison was not having a good day. But then, truth be told, she wasn’t having a good week. It began with a virus, a virus with a ridiculous name – imp fever. She managed to burn the impish strain from her system, but not before she’d made a complete fool of herself. She had been nice. Nice. Some would say, even buoyant, like a teenager cursed with the happy vibe.

Granted, she’d been cured. Tobias Locke, on the other hand, had enough angry juice in him to start another war. If Maddison got the good mojo, the Hympe King drank from the wrong cup. His rage made him dangerous. So much so, his guards saw it necessary to keep him sedated until they found a cure. The fact imp fever was serious business to Tobias’ race, meant the Enchanted League were on high alert. It was the reason Maddison called a time out on her Watcher duties.

When it came to back up, Donovan, her sidekick extraordinaire, was as good as useless – given he was a hympe. The danger to her friend put a major crimp in their style. Donovan was so freaked out, in fact, he wouldn’t go near her, and that was after Maddison cleansed herself of the happy trip.

“Are you ready to do this thing or what?” Riley asked, stepping through the portal without waiting for a reply.

Riley was the best tracker Maddison knew, but he didn’t relish the thought of hunting in the Enchanted Forest when a third of the hympe population were dropping like flies and they had no idea what plethora of emotions would permeate the air.

Maddison stepped through after her surly friend, prepared now to see Aronmyre for the first time. Tobias’ kingdom was the jewel of the Enchanted Forest. Not that she would ever tell Tobias how much she loved his land. She would rather drink aiscline juice, which tasted as bad as it sounded.

Today she didn’t get to appreciate her surroundings. For one, she stepped into a potential minefield of teeth and testosterone. The sheer number of wolves and panthera in the same place, at the same time, had to equal trouble.

“What the hell is going on?” she demanded, when Fitz, a lieutenant and one of the feline changelings stepped forward.

“We’ve been summoned by the League,” Fitz said, holding out his hand.

Maddison rolled her eyes when Riley growled beside her. Based on the tension in Riley’s body, she knew she was pushing it, but Maddison didn’t care. Her hair whipped out and the braid wrapped around Fitz’s hand. He was a tactile creature and he needed the contact. It was the best she could give.

“Talk, cat,” Riley said, in a voice so low and rough, Maddison sensed he was losing control of the wolf.

“We need to find the original source of the virus, and to do that we need to track. Unfortunately there are so many contaminants in the air, due to the number of sick, the League figure they need all the help they can get.”

“You can all go home now. I’ll find the threat.”

Maddison had to bite down hard on her lip to prevent the grin. She turned to Riley with a blank expression. “Feeling confident, tiger?”

His eyes flashed at the provocation. “Really? In a valley full of cats, you’re going with that.”

She ignored him and turned back to Fitz. “How did you get the pack to-” Maddison sucked in breath as light exploded across the clearing. “You have got to be frigging kidding me.”

Orion Reece appeared with his usual fanfare and, apparently, he didn’t have time for games. All in the clearing had frozen in their last position, making them temporary statues. All except Maddison and Riley.

“Hmm.” Orion turned in a full circle, taking in his surroundings. “It really can rain cats and dogs!”

Maddison stifled a laugh, and Riley growled. Understandably, he took issue; it was not the first time Orion labelled him a dog. “Easy, wolf-man,” she whispered. Then turned on Orion. He might be a god, but he didn’t impress her. Much. “If you’re here to ask a favour, we’re kind of busy.”

“Woody.” His tone was conciliatory, and this time Maddison wanted to growl. He used the name to get a rise out of her. “I’m here to help. Why must you be so defensive?”

She narrowed her eyes. “What’s it going to cost?”

Orion’s smile was slow and cunning. “I haven’t decided yet. But you need my help, and it’s a price you can pay, so stop with the bitching.” He waved his hand with a sorcerer’s flourish. A glass appeared in his hand. “Drink this,” he said, holding it out to Riley.

“You expect me to consume an unidentified…” Riley’s gaze dropped to the glass. “Purple drink, a concoction which you plucked from the air?”

“If you don’t accept my help, the king won’t make it. Another two hours and his current mood swings will be permanent.” Orion shrugged. “Personally, I think it’s funny to watch him rage out, but I’m guessing others don’t agree with me.” His eyes were on Maddison now.

“I’ll drink it,” she said, bored of the game. Maddison knew Orion would never harm her, and if Tobias’ life was truly in danger, she would take the risk.

“You can’t.” Orion sighed with exaggerated patience. “This is a onetime deal, so decide. The magic requires an…adequate tracker.”

Before Maddison could argue the point, Riley grabbed the glass and downed the liquid. She watched with unconcealed fascination as her friend exploded into wolf form and took off across the clearing.

When she turned back to Orion he was gone, and the world around her came unstuck. Maddison ignored the confused look on Fitz’s face, but touched a hand to his arm. “Riley has a lead. Let’s go.”

She didn’t wait for an answer, she ran after Riley and hoped Orion wasn’t playing one of his sick games.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel