On the Fourth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Welcome back to the twelve days of Christmas, fantasy style. So far, we’ve had a god with a secret, two changeling cats, and a hunter or three. If you’re just joining the story, a small estate within the mortal realm has collapsed. All twelve days relate to the rescue effort.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Four lightning birds.

A sizzle of kinetic energy lit up every nerve ending in Blade’s body. It was followed by a booming crack, a whip of sound and colour across the sky.

“You have got to be shitting me,” Blade said, depositing an unconscious woman onto a nearby stretcher.

Alayah followed his gaze, her breath hitching when she spotted them. Two lighting birds, their vibrant red feathers like a flame glowing in the night.

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Lo meant when he said we needed light on the situation,” she said.

Blade grinned, despite the crap storm above them. “Hey, you never know. They could be friendly.”

She snorted, and it was one of the sweetest sounds he’d ever heard. Yep, he was pathetic. But it meant she was comfortable with him again. That their friendship wasn’t a lost cause.

Those thoughts vanished when a bolt of lightning hit the ground in front of him.

“Hey, cat-boy.”

Blade turned to see Maddison jogging over to them. “We need to deflect those blasts away from the danger zones. And it appears they’re attracted to you.”

“I’m not sure I can outrun lightning. Why do I have to be target practice?” He would do it, he just liked messing with her. It probably had something to do with the fact his cat had a major crush, and she took his harmless flirtation in her stride.

He frowned, glancing Maddison’s way when she didn’t rise to the bait. She had her eyes closed, her head dipped to the side as though concentrating on something she couldn’t quite hear.

Blade studied her, his gaze dropping to her right hand. It took him a second to understand that the subtle movement of her fingers coincided with the increase in air current. What started as a gentle breeze became a gust of wind that made his hair dance and the dust swirl at his feet. She was creating a distraction.

Tipping back his head, Blade watched the lightning birds circle overhead. They seemed amused by her. Curious even.

“Can’t you guys like…woo them or something?” he asked, smirking when he felt Maddison’s gaze on him.

“If that’s a crack about witches using lightning birds as pets, I’m going to pin you to a lamp post and colour you a sacrifice.”

“Kinky,” he purred, wiggling his brows.

“I wonder if they have a thing for honey.”

Blade looked at Alayah, thrilled when he saw the light of amusement in her eyes. It felt better than the powerful energy crackling in the sky.

“That sounds like an interesting story, and I want to hear all about it,” Maddison said, interrupting. “But now would be a good time to let the cat out. We need a distraction so the others can start moving the injured.”

Blade shifted without another word, his good humour disappearing along with his human skin.

There was a small park bordering the housing estate, so he headed that way – hoping to draw the birds away. It worked. Though Maddison probably helped them along. He felt the blast of air like a hard caress along his fur.

For the next ten minutes, Blade zipped from one end of the park to the other as blast after blast of lightning mapped his progress. His fur got singed a few times, but his cat was enjoying the chase. At least until he took a hit. The burning pain along his right side was enough to slow him down.

“Son of a bitch.”

His words were punctuated by a crack-crack-sizzle. That couldn’t be good.

Blade glanced to his right, following the fiery snap of sound and saw two more of the damn birds, their feathers intertwined with blue. How the hell was he supposed to dodge four of the fuckers?

Drawing in a deep lungful of air, he prepared to bolt as a stream of power tore across the sky in a breath-taking display of dominance. He would have been toast for sure, if they had aimed that power at him. Instead the newcomers were aiming at the two using him for target practice.

He dropped to the ground, shifting as he did so he could lay on his back. The new pair were friendly, perhaps one of Orion’s countermeasures.

The birds went at each other with everything they had. A no holds barred assault that lit the sky like a fierce, fiery storm.

“Go team Orion,” he murmured and tucked his hands behind his head, content to watch the show.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

On the Third Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Welcome to day three. This is my take – a slice of fantasy – on the twelve days of Christmas theme. So far we’ve had a god who caused destruction in the mortal realm, and a rescue effort which began with a changeling or two. The story continues.

On the Third Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Three fearless hunters.

Logan waited beside the impromptu command centre, a tent one of the squads had set up to coordinate the rescue effort. He was on guard duty, a necessity considering the shit-storm of surprises they’d had to contend with over the past hour.

He’d already caught several wraiths trying to break through the barrier the elves had erected. Those wraiths hadn’t found the site on their own, but now that they had, they were looking for a quick fix.

Logan knew what they wanted. The people still trapped beneath the rubble were already weak, some barely holding on. Those poor souls would be easy pickings.

A growl built in his chest before he could stop it. His cousin was late. The fact Riley was one of the best hunters he knew, made it worth the wait. At least for a few more minutes.

And right on cue his cousin stepped into view. His timing perfect.

Logan blinked in surprise when he saw his companions. He’d known Riley would come packing, and by that he meant fully armed with his own team, but he hadn’t expected him to bring Maddison Wood.

The dark-haired witch had been out of commission for a while. She’d recently escaped from a war camp, or as the Fractured were calling them, recreational clubs – for the sick and twisted.

“Lo,” Riley said, flashing his trademark grin. “I hope you don’t mind, but a couple of my friends tagged along. You get three hunters for the price of one.”

Three? He’d expected more. Then again, the two he’d brought were their own army. If the rumours were true.

For some reason, Maddison was wearing and elfin uniform, Logan hadn’t seen anyone besides the Elite wear one of those beauties.

Her gaze travelled down his own suit, which was also elfin in nature, and she smirked as though reading his mind. “So, you’re a member of the exclusive club we’re all hearing about?”

“And you’re the witch who charmed the elves.” It felt odd that he would be recognised as a member of the Collective, but that was the nature of the beast, and his own was far more interested in Maddison Wood.

She laughed. “Zac here does the charming in our family.”

Zachariah Thorne, her adopted brother and partner in crime, stepped forward. “Good to meet you.”

“Thanks for coming.” Logan wanted to kick his own ass for that one. He rolled his shoulders and sucked it up. He still wasn’t comfortable with the position he’d been given, and his welcome speeches usually sucked.

Speaking of which. He was glad to have a vampire on board. Zachariah would be able to regulate the tempers in and around camp. Since they started pulling people out, tensions were running high.

“Riley speaks highly of you,” Zachariah said, shaking his hand.

Logan frowned. It was a nice sentiment, but it was full of crap. Riley didn’t speak highly of anyone. Not if he could help it.

“He’s just playing with you,” Maddison intervened. “We’re both curious about Ry’s family. He’s not exactly a sharer.”

“Now that I can believe.” Logan glanced down the road when he heard the rumble of an approaching vehicle. It had to be the supplies they were expecting.

Movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention and he realised it was Maddison’s hair. It was like the tail of a cat, twitching in frustration.

“What is it?”

It was Zachariah who answered. “Not sure. Whoever is driving that truck reeks of deception. The poor sap is terrified.”

A low growl came from Riley’s throat.

“Easy there, wolf-man,” Maddison said, and Logan watched as her hair snaked out to wrap around his wrist.

He couldn’t decide what shocked him more, that Maddison could soothe his cousin, or that Riley allowed it.

“What do you say we go do our thing, boys?” Maddison said. “I think our new visitor needs to check in.”

She didn’t wait for a response. Releasing Riley, she moved to intercept the truck. Logan didn’t tell her they were expecting the additional supplies he could see piled in the back. Instead, he stayed where he was and watched the three close in as a unit.

A minute later, Riley had the driver pinned up against the cab of the truck, aggression rolling from him in waves.

“Care to tell me what’s going on here?” Logan asked, moving to the group.

“This dipshit just led a shit load of trouble our way,” Riley growled. His eyes flashed when they turned Logan’s way. “It’s time to let the wolf off the leash, cousin. There’s a group of lost souls less than a mile away.”

That explained where the wraiths came from at least. When they conquered a soul, for a time their hosts became animated corpses. Temporary or not, they were strong, and their presence would seriously damage moral. Nobody liked a reminder of what the demons had planned for the mortals who stood in their way.

Logan didn’t even hesitate, he shifted. It appeared his job at welcoming committee wasn’t over just yet.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

On the Second Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

Yesterday, the first day of my Fractured journey, my crazy muse sent to me – a god with an ace up his sleeve. To recap, a god with a penchant for cruelty sent his power into the mortal realm and caused an earthquake. It destroyed a small housing estate, and now humans are trapped beneath the rubble. Orion Reece (the god with the plan) has called in reinforcements.

On the Second Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…Two changeling cats.

“Shit, man. How the hell are we supposed to move all this rubble?” Logan asked as he unearthed a large piece of red glass. It looked fragile against his big hand, but then most things did.

Blade studied the curved edges. He’d seen similar treasures before, especially at this time of year. Humans enjoyed their decorations. This one reflected the destruction around them.

The small housing estate was tucked way out into the countryside and had been an overlooked jewel until a god with a hard on for chaos and mischief decided to bring the whole thing down.

“With reinforcements.” Blade nodded to the trucks rolling towards them. “They took their sweet time getting here.” His cat was prowling in his mind. The smell of blood and impending death was driving the cheetah crazy. He could smell the fear of those trapped, hear their cries from underground, and they were running out of time.

Logan rolled his big shoulders, the white of his hair glinting in the moonlight. “We’re going to need a lot more where they came from.”

“It’s a start, brother. We need to get this show on the road.” Blade jogged to intercept the first team as they stepped from the armoured vehicle.

His body jolted when his cat picked up a familiar scent. If he’d truly been Logan’s brother he would have howled out his frustration. She was here. The one woman he couldn’t charm, the cat who confused the hell out of his cheetah and made every instinct in the man want to run. Sure, he’d been born to run. But still. It was humiliating.

“Alayah,” he said, taking in her uniform, the confidence in her golden eyes that he’d never seen before. “What are you doing here?”

“Panashe.” Her voice was remote, and it pissed him off. It had always pissed him off when she called him by his birth name, because it was a reminder that his parents had chosen her to be his mate. This, though, the cold way she formed the syllables. It was worse.

“I would think it’s obvious,” she said then. “I’m here to join the rescue effort.”

Logan snorted beside him. “She has you there, bro.” Then the jackass enveloped Alayah in his big arms and hugged her as though they were related. He did it to get a rise out of Blade. It worked.

Blade swallowed, wondering why he was only just noticing how graceful she was, how long her legs were, and how pretty her pale hair shone.

The last time they’d seen each other her supple body had been strung tight with tension. The thought reminded him of why he’d spent the past few years fighting the desire to rip Aaron limb from limb, and he almost growled.

They were friends again. Sort of.  But he hadn’t completely forgiven Aaron for his juvenile prank. And, okay, so they had made a game of it over the years, trying to one up each other. It didn’t change the fact their game had come to a sticky end.

Ha. Sticky. Aaron had tied Blade naked to a tree, and covered his body in honey. It happened to be in the height of mating season, and the cats had swarmed Blade like, well – bees to honey.

Alayah, the shy pretty cheetah who had followed him around since their parents introduced them, had saved him. She had staked her claim in the middle of the damn forest, and dragged him to an abandoned cave to ride out the crazy storm. Not literally. Well, not at first.

Neither of them had wanted the pairing, so Alayah’s bold move had been a way to save his sorry hide. Except they had both underestimated the power of the mating heat, and Alayah had turned into a siren. Her cat had taken full and complete control.

Then, when the heat had drained from her body, and her senses had returned, the old Alayah had stood before him. Awkward and tense. That was the last time he’d seen her.

The anger Blade felt towards Aaron for the stunt had less to do with his humiliation, and more to do with the price he’d had to pay. It had cost Blade his friendship with sweet, gentle Alayah.

Blade blinked, surprised to realise he was still staring. She didn’t look sweet now. She looked pissed. At him.

Logan coughed, probably to cover a laugh. “We’re glad you’re here, Al. With a rescue effort of this size, we need all the help we can get.”

Alayah nodded, glancing at the debris surrounding them. “Then put me to work.” Her eyes never left Logan’s. She appeared hell bent on forgetting Blade even existed.

“I’ll let Blade go over the plan with you,” Logan said, turning to him. “Think you can handle that, bud?”

Oh, he thought he was so funny. He wouldn’t think so when Blade wiped the smirk from his lips.

You know I’ll get you back for this, right? It still felt unfamiliar, the connection he had to Logan in his head. But it was at times like this he was grateful for it.

It’s just too easy, brother.

Blade narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to bolt when Logan took off. What the hell was wrong with him?

To give himself a minute, he glanced towards the elves who were positioned at strategic points within the site. Strategic to them, at least. They had been chanting for a while, communicating with the earth, or whatever, to stabilise what remained of the crumbling structures.

“Do you remember the cave-in at Durin Mountain when we were kids?” he asked Alayah.

Her pretty gold eyes widened in understanding. “They had to remove the outer layer of debris to assess the damage.”

He nodded. “You turned it into a game for those who had family trapped inside.” Their small group had made it a race, their movements so fast and light they hadn’t compromised the section of fallen tunnel. “Want to play a game with me?”

Alayah shifted uneasily on her feet. He couldn’t decide if she was remembering a different time, or if his forced joviality made her uncomfortable. “If I remember correctly, you run pretty damn fast.”

Yep. Definitely pissed at him. She wasn’t talking about his speed in general, she was talking about the morning he’d made an ass of himself by disappearing when the sun came up. His walk of shame had been a full-on sprint.

“Listen, Alayah-”

“Please let’s not do this. Just forget I said anything.”

His brows shot up. “Now who’s running?” Shit he was going to kick Aaron’s ass the next time he saw him.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.” She gave him a small smile. “Try to keep up.” Then she was off, zipping to the nearest building like a vamp on speed.

Blade’s cat perked up at the challenge. Pretty soon the reinforcements would arrive, and everyone would argue about the best way to find a way in. But for now, he could give his animal what it needed the most, a way to help the people trapped. Their fear was beginning to grate along his skin, but as long as he kept moving he didn’t feel so helpless.

Tell me again why you can’t transport these people out of here? He projected to Orion, knowing the god was monitoring their progress.

Because most of them wouldn’t survive. Came the impatient response. Are you giving up so soon, cat?”

Don’t put this on me. It was your crazy cousin who got us into this mess. Sometimes he wondered what the hell he was thinking, putting all his trust in one of the gods.

The same crazy cousin who is watching your every move. Now Orion sounded resigned, and Blade suspected it was the real reason he couldn’t intervene. If the rescue is fair, he’ll allow the humans to live. But this is a game to him, so expect company.

Which I take to mean you’ll be sending in countermeasures? This is sick. You know that, right? We’re talking about innocent-

Just don’t let me down. Darius will pay for this stunt, I can promise you that.

Blade had no response except to do the job he’d signed on for. So, he worked side by side with Alayah, and left the gods to play their crazy ass games.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

On the First Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…

I’ve seen a lot of inventive posts over the last few weeks that play on the twelve days of Christmas theme. Of course my muse latched onto this, and sent me the twelve days of the Fractured instead!

My dad always loved Christmas. He had many traditions, some of which we still follow (like French toast on Christmas morning – yum!). He was a stickler for putting his tree up twelve days before Christmas, and taking it down twelve days after. It’s one tradition I can’t stick to…I’m far to excited to wait until mid December! So, instead, I’m going to start my twelve day story. I hope you enjoy.

On the First Day of Christmas my Crazy Muse sent to me…A god with an ace up his sleeve.

Okay, so it was official. Gods made lousy drunks.

Orion stared at his cousin, Darius, the only member of his family he could still stomach, and waited for the tirade to end.

Let’s get together. It’ll be like old times sake. Yeah. Right.

It was his own damn fault. How was he supposed to know Darius was crazier than a wood nymph? Orion had been checked out for so long he was completely out of touch with the skeletons in his family closet.

While Orion had been out playing at being a cold-hearted son of a bitch, his cousin had been doing that shit for real. How had he once considered Darius worthy of his time? More to the point, how had he forgotten that insanity ran through his family tree, and damn but those roots ran deep.

But it was more than that. Darius had always been arrogant, but now his greed and cruelty showed through his skin like a toxic stain. He made the Fractured souls of Erebus seem as harmless as adolescent bullies.

Right now, Darius was waxing lyrical about teaching the Race Alliance a lesson. The more he spouted, the weaker his reasoning became. And it had nothing to do with the booze.

“I heard they hired someone. Sent them into the enemy camp. Who does that shit?” Darius said, waving his hand and causing the water on the lake to shimmer to life.

Orion froze. Not because his cousin had conjured a scene from the mortal realm across the surface, but because he was the red herring. So to speak.

The Alliance had requested his input, sent him in to end the war in the mortal realm. Getting up close and personal had been his idea. He now spent so much time with demons it was impossible to get their stink off his skin.

Damn Luke for dragging him out of his decade long pity party. His brother had a lot to answer for. And he owed him for what he was about to do.

“Hey, Darius,” he called, swaying to keep up the pretence. He’d been over-indulging for years. Alcohol no longer had any effect on him. “Catch.”

Orion blasted him with all his pent-up frustration, his power a sizzle of lighting as it reached out and froze his cousin to the spot. Darius didn’t have time to counteract. It was the only reason Orion got away with it. He’d been waiting hours for the maniac to let his guard down.

Strolling over to the edge of the lake, so he was nose to nose with Darius, he clamped his hands at either side of his head. It took mere seconds to find the canary who had sold him out. In fact, it took him longer to project that image to Lucas, so the angel could take care of their little problem. The mole in his own network.

Then he wiped the memory clean and resumed his earlier position, releasing Darius and painting an exasperated look on his face.

“What?” Darius said, looking around in confusion.

“Hell if I know.” Orion forced out a drunken chuckle. “You zoned out on me, cousin.”

Darius turned to the lake, staring at the portal he’d created as though he couldn’t figure out where he was. It didn’t take long for the madness to creep back in. “Hey,” he said, glancing back at Orion. “You know what we should do?”

Uh oh. Orion had a feeling he wouldn’t like finding out.

“We should stir things up a little.”

Yep. He’d been right.

Orion followed Darius’ gaze to the scene he’d conjured in the lake – a scene from the mortal realm that looked strangely untouched. He moved closer, curiosity getting the better of him. Most of the small towns within the realm had been all but destroyed when the Fractured descended, using it like a demons’ playground.

This estate must have been overlooked, or the humans got smart, because the small community still thrived.

“Watch this.”

Before Orion could stop him, Darius bent to slap his hands on the surface on the water. He sent so much power into the lake the ground shook.

Orion wasn’t concerned about that. The tremor on his own land would be nothing compared to the effect in the mortal realm. The effect from Darius’ transference of power.

The sound of Darius’ laughter was like barb against his skin. Orion felt rage build like an inferno in his blood. But the moment the lake settled, and he saw the devastation through the portal, he knew he didn’t have time to fight his cousin. One day. One day he would make him pay. Just not this day.

Relaxing his face into a bored expression was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. He wanted to kill Darius with his bare hands.

His mind reeled as he tried to come up with a plan. He was supposed to be protecting the realm, and he had failed because he still wanted some part of his past to mean something.

Blade? Logan? Where are you? he called out with his mind. The changelings were the only members of his team without an active assignment.

Hilmore. Blade answered immediately. This place is sweet. Definitely safe zone material.

We have a situation. He sent them a snapshot of the scene burning a hole in his retinas. The shimmer of the water rippling with aftershocks. Pull together a team. Whatever it takes.

On it. The growl in his mind could only belong to the wolf. Logan’s mental voice vibrated with anger, and it resonated through Orion.

“I have a better idea,” Orion said to Darius. “Allow me to introduce you to our new visitors at Camp Reece. They deserve your kind of entertainment.”

Darius’ eyes lit up. He knew exactly what Orion was referring to. By Camp Reece Orion meant his dungeons, and the prisoners currently housed within the cells were as despicable as his cousin. He couldn’t think of a better distraction for the crazy son of a bitch.

As he transported himself directly to the dungeons, a wave of fatigue rolled over him. If he had learned one thing over the past few months it was that he had a new family now. It was time he let go of his past.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Writing a Serial – The Saga Continues

In August I wrote a post about the trials of beginning my journey into serialised fiction. I learned a lot from the process, and the result of those lessons meant I had a few decisions to make about the future of the Collective.

In short, I had to rethink my whole plan. I still believe it will make a good serial, it just needs a stronger foundation before the group can come together and share their adventures. I’m sure readers will appreciate the time to familiarise themselves with the characters – all thirteen of them.

It’s for that reason I’ve decided to give each character their own novel. Yes, that’s thirteen books (at least) before the collective can be formed. By that time, readers will know the history, will be familiar with the world itself, and regular episodes will complement the series as a whole.

So, since the first novel won’t be ready until February 2017, and I promised a release this month, I wrote a novella – Badge of Honour – featuring Maddison Wood from the Fractured series. I will be releasing that Christmas week, and I’m excited about it.

I’m also excited about the fact that I have a new image of Maddy to share with you. I’ve been working with Magical Designs to create covers for The Collective, and The Fractured. Bekah Reece sketched Maddy for me, and I’ll be using her for future covers because she looks fantastic.

Yes, I messed up my timing when it comes to the serial and the planners among you are probably shaking your head, but there’s a silver lining. So, here she is, my feisty witch with hair that will tie you up in knots…I give you Maddy…

maddy-comission-2

I will be providing a sneak peak of Badge of Honour, and of course there will be a cover reveal coming soon.

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