Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Displaced: chapter four

Whoohoo! I remembered before the end of the week!  

Chapter Four

“Another mug of meeng?”  Neeka grinned at the shake of Kendall’s head.  “Let me guess.  You’re not a drinker.”
He smiled.  “Not today.”  He had to admit the drink was just as good as sloan, maybe even a bit better; just a bit more bitter.  He looked toward the band on the small stage.  The music was fun and very upbeat.  He tapped his foot to the rhythm.
“Do you dance?”
He blinked, his foot mid-beat.  He did dance.  In fact, he quite enjoyed dancing.  In Quelondain.  He had no idea if he danced in Thistendal, however.
“Come on, I’ll show you how.”  Neeka took his hand and pulled him up before he could object.
Kendall smiled down at Neeka as she showed him a series of steps, slowly speeding up the sequence until they were moving to the same beat as the music.  This wasn’t so bad, he thought.
Neeka’s light brown eyes met his.  She raised an eyebrow.
“You’re hiding something.”
He grunted.  “You’d know this because you know me so well?”
“I’ve been with you all day and something you said when we met stuck with me.  You’re one of those who thinks shifters aren’t evil, aren’t you?”  She whispered the question, making sure none of the other dancers could hear.
Kendall missed a beat, effectively managing to step on her toes.  She stopped, counted the beat out loud, and the pair resumed their dance.
“And if I was?”
“If you were, I’d make sure not to voice your opinion in this town.”  She offered him a small smile.  “It was when you’d asked if I’d met one.  You talk about them as though they’re people.  Here, in this town, they’re animals and nothing more.  Don’t get caught making comments like that.”
He gave a small nod.  “I’ll keep that in mind.”
The music stopped and a slower song started.  Kendall pulled her closer so they could keep talking.
“And what about you?” he inquired.
She shrugged.  “I’ve never seen one.”
When she didn’t offer any more of an explanation, he changed the subject.  “How far from the coast are we?”
“It’s a good two weeks on horseback.”
“And the nearest port?”
“The same.”
He hesitated then decided to go ahead with his next question.  “This might sound extremely strange, but you don’t happen to know of any magic wielders in the area?”
It was her turn to miss a step.  She stared up at him, shocked.  Neeka clenched her jaw, took his hand and pulled him outside.
“Who are you?”  She whirled on him and kept walking until he was forced to step back.
“Yeah, I got that!  What do you want with a magic wielder?  You know that to use magic is to put a death sentence on your head!”
Kendall hung his head back in frustration.  “By the moons, what is wrong this continent?”
Neeka’s eyes were saucers in her head.
“Neeka!  Are you alright?  What’s going on?”  Brian appeared outside with three more men.
Kendall swore under his breath.
Neeka looked back and forth between Brian and Kendall.  Her gaze met Kendall’s.
“I… I’m fine, Brian.  Kendall said his head was spinning.  I thought he could use some fresh air.”
Kendall cocked his head at Neeka in question and relaxed at her small nod.  He needed information.  He needed to get home.  Getting himself killed wasn’t going to help anything.
“Brian, you were about to tell me how you got the boar you have on the wall.”  One of Brian’s friends put his arm around the man and herded him back inside, but not before raising an eyebrow at Kendall.
The door closed and Neeka glared at him.
“I want the truth.”
Kendall ran through his options.  He wasn’t the best of liars and he knew it.  Neeka had already guessed something was off.  Did he keep lying and hope to throw her off or did he simply tell her the truth?
“I’m not a fisherman.”  There.  That was the truth.
She grunted.  “And?”
He ran a hand over his face.  “First, tell me this.  What do you think of me?”
She frowned.  “I barely know you.”
“I know.  But you read people.  You can get a sense of who they are by what they say.  Like that bit about me thinking of shifters as people.  You got that.  What else did you get?”
Neeka took a minute to arrange her thoughts.
“You’re a liar, for one, and a bad one at that.”
“I don’t know, Kendall.  You seem like a good man.  But why lie if you have nothing to hide?”
“Because I have plenty to hide.”  He held his hand out to her.  “Is there somewhere we can go talk where no one will barge out to your defense?”
She hesitated before taking his hand and nodding.  She led him to a small clearing just outside of the town.  Kendall glanced up into the sky and smiled at the two moons appearing over the tree tops.  At least something here was familiar.
“I’m not from here,” he stated, giving her hand a squeeze.
She nodded.  “You’re not from down south, either.”
He shook his head.  “By the moons, you’ll think I’m crazy and you’ll hate me.”  He paused.  “Look, just… can you promise me something?  Can you promise me that before you start screaming for help you’ll take a minute and think about what I tell you?”
Neeka’s eyes widened and she swallowed nervously.  “Are you going to hurt me?”
Kendall gazed into her eyes.  “No.  Absolutely not.  I promise that whatever happens, I will not hurt you.”  He waited until the words sank in.  “Am I telling the truth?”
She nodded.
“Alright.  I’m from Quelondain.”
“No one but the Gysps cross the sea.”
“Up until this morning, I’d have agreed with you.  However, here I am.”  He shrugged.
“But how?”
“Magic.”  When she looked like she was about to run, he took her other hand in his.  “Neeka, where I come from, magic is an everyday thing.  Magic wielders help beings with their skills.  A good friend of mine, Hayden, is a magic wielder.  She was working on her displacement spell and the next thing I knew, I was here.”
He could see her rolling what he’d said through her mind.
“You’re not lying.”  It wasn’t a question.
He shook his head.  “I need to find a way to get home.”
“Couldn’t your magic wielding friend bring you back?”
Kendall smiled.  She was trying to help him.  “I don’t think so.  Hayden has issues with that spell.”
“So, the way you talk about shifters…”  She looked at him closely.  “Do you have some there?”
He nodded.  “We do.”
“Are they hunted there as well?”
“They were.  The thing about the shifters in Quelondain is that they outnumber the humans there.  There are two kinds; the Namaels and the Majs.  The Namaels turn into cats like tigers, lions, and leopards while the Majs turn into dogs.  Wolves, coyotes, and that sort of things.  In Quelondain, humans and shifters live side by side.  They’re allies.”
“So, you have seen some.”
He ran a hand over his face.  What was the best way to reveal he wasn’t human?  Simply shifting was definitely the easiest, though the whole ordeal might be a bit much for her to handle.
“How do you tell shifters apart from humans here?” he inquired.
“They’ve a mark behind their ear. Some say three spots, others swear it’s two lines, while others argue it’s a half moon.”
Kendall unconsciously reached over and smoothed the lines on her brow.  “Three different types of shifters and none of them Namaels or Majs.  Did you know you frowned a lot?”
“Only since I’ve met you.”  The frown returned.  “What mark do your shifters carry?”
“The Majs, the dog shifters, have a crescent.”
“And the cats?  The Nam….”
“Namaels.”  He leaned down, brushed the hair from his neck, and let her look behind his ear at the straight line that marked him.
Instead of running for all she was worth, Neeka took a deep breath to calm herself.  He’d promised he wouldn’t hurt her.  Had he been the evil thing she’d been brought up to believe, he would have killed her and Hanna as soon as they’d seen him.
Kendall jumped at the feel of her finger running along the mark lightly.
“Does it hurt when your elders brand you?”
He straightened and couldn’t help laughing.  “What?”
“When you’re small, you’re branded, yeah?”
“By the moons, who told you that?  Of course not! We’re born with them.”  He cocked his head to the side.  “You’re alright?”
“I… I don’t know.  You just seem so human.  I pictured animals and teeth and bloodlust.”
He smiled.  “I’m very human, Neeka.  I just happen to turn into a cat when I hunt.”
“What kind of cat,” she whispered.
The sound of voices coming near made him think of something.
“If you’re caught with a shifter, what happens to you?”
“Any human found helping a shifter or is found out to have known of a shifter’s whereabouts but hasn’t reported it to the authorities is hung.”
“Bloody hell.”  He fought the urge to shift so he could better hear.  “You’d better go.  Someone’s coming.”
“But they think you’re human.”
“I’m not willing to take that chance.”  He pulled her into a hug.  “Thank you.”
“For what?”  She looked up at him.
“For not running away screaming.”  He pressed his lips to her never ending frown.
“Get away from her, you bastard!”
“Brian!  Get away!  We were just talking!”  She stepped around Kendall and put herself between him and the four men.
“That’s not what it looks like from here!”  Brian’s gaze left hers and moved to Kendall.  “She’s already intended to a good man.  Back off!”
Kendall held his hands up to show he meant to harm.  “I didn’t mean to cause trouble, chum.  I was just thanking the lady for listening to me while I babbled on about my troubles.”
“You’ve a funny way of thanking ladies,” accused Brian’s friend.  He pulled his dagger and the other three men followed suit.
“Brian!”  Neeka took a step toward her guardian.
“And you!”  Brian’s face was crimson with anger.  “It looks like you need a reminder of how a lady should behave.”
Whatever feelings were crashing into each other within Kendall, they completely disappeared at Brian’s words.
“You won’t touch a hair on her head.”  It was his turn to step between the pair.
“Yeah?  And what are you going to do about it?”
 Kendall took two seconds to make a decision.  He wouldn’t have her get in trouble for something she hadn’t done. 
“How about this.  A fight.  I win, I leave tonight and whatever lesson you feel Neeka needs to learn is forgotten.  If I lose, I’ll take her punishment.”
Kendall watched as Brian took a step forward.  What he hadn’t quite anticipated was the fact that his challenge would bring all four men after him.  By the moons, these people were crazy!  He didn’t even have a dagger!  He dodged to the left to avoid Brian’s blade, all the while grabbing the blond man’s arm and tripping him.
Neeka screamed as the third man’s dagger slid across Kendall’s forearm, drawing blood.  Kendall’s instincts took over and he felt his bones rearrange as he shifted into a tiger.  The men surrounding him stood still with shock.  He noticed two of them looking angrily between the tiger and Neeka who was gawking at him.  They knew she knew!
Neeka’s eyes widened as he leapt at her, effectively knocking her to the ground.  They had to believe she had no clue.  Her eyes were filled with fear as he bared teeth and growled. One of the men rammed his shoulder into his side and Kendall used the momentum to turn and leap off into the woods.

The last image to burn itself into his mind was that of Neeka, standing with the help of her guardian, tears streaming down her face, while another three men ran into the clearing.

As Wings Unfurl took 1st place as best sci-fi novel of 2014 at the Royal Palm Literary Awards and was published by Red Adept on July 19, 2016.

Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. A fair trade, he thinks, for a coward. He stumbles through each drug-besotted day working at an obscure Newark, New Jersey bookstore. Enter Angela, who claims to be his guardian angel. Neither one is an angel, but together, they uncover a conspiracy which threatens to undo humankind itself.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Arthur has authored 100+ scientific publications, invented novel 3D drug design software, and shares the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for the discovery of Sprycel, a new anti-cancer drug. He writes hard science fiction, fantasy and horror.

His debut novel, Algorithm, which is a story about DNA and the purpose of humanity, garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA) and was published by E-Lit Books in October, 2014. His second novel, As Wings Unfurl, a story of guardian angels that are not angels, forbidden love, and the secret fate of humankind, took 1st place as best pre-published science fiction novel of the year at the 2014 RPLA competition. As Wings Unfurl was published in 2016 by Red Adept Publishing. Many of his short stories have been honored as finalists in RPLA competitions, as well as achieving Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contests. His current project is Henry The Last, a story about the last creature with a human brain, and what it means to be human in a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is what it seems to be. Henry The Last was recently honored with a 2nd place 2016 RPLA.

He lives in Florida with his wife Lidia, teaches college chemistry and happily wanders the beaches when not jousting with aliens.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Reaped by Gracen Miller and Tina Carreiro


WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Reaped is told through the eyes of the dark side. We understand the mythical and religious spin within this book may be hard for some to read. So if you fit that mold, please don’t be tempted to open the book. If suspending belief is something you have a hard time with when religious aspects are involved, please refrain from reading. This work of fiction is not to be taken seriously. This book was written from our creative view and intended for entertainment purposes only. The book was not written to be incendiary or inflammatory. So before you pass judgment, remember, that’s reserved for God.

God ordered her to reap him…

Forged by her father’s hand to reap at His command, Solas was God’s most skilled Reaper. Killing on command, she had never questioned His directives—until now. Too bad Loki’s heart isn’t as black as she’s been led to believe. That would make her job easy. But she cannot dismiss the goodness she senses inside him. Bewildered by her attraction to Loki, she still craves returning home, but knows the only way back into her homeland is to obey God’s order. As the lines between allies and enemies are blurred, she questions who is weaving the biggest deception… the legendary trickster god or her own father?

But she can’t bring herself to swing her blade.

From the moment she fell at his feet, Loki mistrusted Solas. His intentions were simple, to use her and send her on her way. Then he discovered she was cast out of her homeland after defying her father’s order to reap him. Intrigued by a woman that would stand against the supreme God, Loki offers her his temporary protection while nursing his skepticism. Many warriors from the heavens have been sent to kill him, but only one has come this close. She’s the perfect weapon. A threat not just to his life, but also to his family and everything he stands for. He should take her life, but he craves protecting her and the secret she harbors more.

When you send a reaper to kill a god, don’t give her a reason to rebel.

A tentative alliance between Loki and Solas is brokered, but misunderstandings strain their fragile relationship. Battles are won and lost, but can Solas escape her father’s will? Faced with hard choices, Loki will have to decide what’s important to him. Or can he pull off the ultimate trick and win their freedom?

Release Date January 26, 2017

Author Bio’s
Gracen Miller :

Gracen is a hopeless daydreamer masquerading as a "normal" person in southern society. When not writing, she's a full-time mom for her two sons and a devoted wife to her real-life hero-husband. She has an unusual relationship with her muse, Dom, but credits all her creative success to his brilliant mind. She's addicted to writing, paranormal romance novels and movies, Alabama football and coffee...addictions are not necessarily in order of priority. She's convinced coffee is nectar from the gods and when blending coffee and writing together it generates the perfect creative merger. Many of her creative worlds are spawned from coffee highs and Dom's aggressive demands. To learn more about Gracen or to leave her a comment, visit her website at

Author Bio
Tina Carreiro:

Tina Carreiro is a multi-published author who resides in South Florida with her family. At the young age of 15, Tina started working to help her family and became a jack-of-all-trades, working in many different areas from managing an automotive shop, to putting her computer programming degree to use. In 2010, she retired from her office job to live her dream and write. Her addiction to romance novels began at a young age when she started sneaking her mom's Gray Eagle series by Janelle Taylor, and it was then her love for writing began. Her paranormal romance series, Power of the Moon, has gained popularity amongst the fans of this genre. Tina became a co-host on Encounters Live, a paranormal radio show, in 2009. Open to all things paranormal, Tina has had her own encounters with the paranormal but still approaches the topic from a logical angle. Tina is married to her best friend and Encounters Live co-host, Matt Carreiro, and is a full-time Boy Scout/camping/PS3/Minecraft mom for her son and daughter. When not writing, Tina enjoys reading romance novels, zombie movies, restoring classic cars, camping, and coffee with caramel macchiato creamer. Poking fun at herself, and everything in between is her key to laughter and a long and healthy life.
To learn more about Tina or to leave her a comment, visit her at
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Amazon Author Page:

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Displaced: Chapter Three

Alright! So, remember when I said I'd post a chapter a week?   Yeah, I definitely crapped the bed last week.  I'm blaming it on the flu that ravaged out household.  Anyhow, here you have it. Chapter Three!!

Chapter Three

“How’s your breakfast?”  Neeka refilled their coffee cups.
“Excellent, thank you.”  He took another bite of his omelet to prove he wasn’t lying.  He wasn’t sure what kind of eggs had been used, but they were delicious. 
She smiled and sat once again.  “Once we’re done here I’ll show you to your room and you can get cleaned up.  I’ll have head to the stables.  It’s my turn to clean the stalls.”
“I’ll come give you a hand.”
She shook her head. “I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“Of course you could.  It’s the least I can do to thank you for the food and room.”
Neeka mulled the offer over for a moment before nodding.  “Alright.  Thank you.”
He grinned.  “It’s my pleasure.”
Though there was nothing more he wanted than to go home, he knew that simply running out into the woods wasn’t going to help with his situation.  Even if he made the trip to the coast, there was no way he could afford to buy passage on one of the Gysps’ trading ships.  He needed information . 
“You’d better hurry getting to your chores, Neeka.”  Hanna scooped up their empty plates.  “Brian will be back from the market soon.”
Her sister nodded.  “We’re just heading there now.”
Kendall thanked Hanna for taking the dishes before following Neeka out to the stables.  She handed him a shovel and pointed to the first stall.
“We tie the horses inside and clean around them.  We’ve had a few instances where a horse managed to get loose when they were tied outside.  Personally, I think someone let them go, but Brian doesn’t believe me.”
He frowned.  “This Brian, he’s what to you?”
“My guardian.”  She moved to the end of the aisle and came back pushing a cart before entering the stall across from his.  “He’s been raising us since before I can remember.”
Kendall tied a tall bay mare before getting to work on his stall.  “So, you’ve lived in this town all your life?”
She nodded.  “As far as I know.”  Done her first stall, she moved on to the next.  “It’s not the most exciting town, but most of the folks that live here are decent.  There are a few who like to cause trouble, but never anything major.  It’s mostly outsiders that will do the most damage when they come through town.”  She grinned.  “You’re not going to cause any trouble, are you?”
He laughed.  “You’ve my word, I’ll behave.”
“Neeka, when you’re done here I want you to…”  The newcomer stopped short at the sight of Kendall.
The shifter tightened his grip on the shovel should he need to use it as a weapon.  The man, shorter than him by at least a head, though thicker in build, widened his stance.
“Brian, this is Kendall.  Kendall, Brian.”  Neeka deftly stepped between the two men.  “Hanna and I came upon Kendall while we out gathering vegetables.  He’s been robbed and wasn’t sure where he was.  We made him something to eat and he offered to help muck stalls as payment.”
Brian grunted.  “Well, when you’re done here, maybe he could give you a hand in room twelve.  The bastards destroyed it last night.”  Without giving them another glance, he turned on his heels and left.
Kendall let himself relax.  “Friendly fellow,” he mumbled.
“Don’t mind him.  He’s in a foul mood because of the mess the soldiers left the inn in last night.  Room twelve was one of theirs.”
They went back to cleaning the stalls, though this time with less talking.  Once done, Kendall pushed the cart back where it would sit until the next day.
“Thank you.”  Neeka smiled and led the way back to the inn.
They stopped at the kitchen and helped themselves to water.
“That was quick,” remarked Hanna.  She wiped a forearm across her brow before returning her attention back to the bread dough she’d been kneading.
“It’s going to be a busy day.  Brian wants Kendall and I to take care of room twelve.” 
Hanna grunted.  “You’ll be there until tomorrow if you don’t get to it.  I was in there this morning and it I don’t think there’s one piece of furniture that can be saved.”
Neeka shook her head in disgust.  “Soldiers.”
“Maybe once you’re mated to Christopher you could have a chat with him about his little army’s manners.”
Neeka scoffed.  “Not likely.  I plan on spending as little time as possible in the man’s company.”  She gave Kendall’s arm a tug to let him know they were leaving.
Kendall glanced at her as they made their way down the hall.  “Your intended runs the soldiers?”
She rolled her eyes.  “He likes to think he does.  We call them soldiers, but really their just goons with sharp weapons.  Christopher put them together to hunt for shifters.”
“And they’re good at what they do?”
Neeka shrugged.  “They’ve never brought one in to prove they’ve actually killed one.  It’s always a piece from whoever they’ve killed.”
She opened the door to room twelve and Kendall stopped short.
“By the moons, what in the world did they do in here?”
The entire room was destroyed.  Anything that could be broken had been splintered, smashed, or ripped apart.  The floor was covered in wood, glass, and mattress down. 
Neeka let out an exasperated sigh.  “Bastards.”
He walked to the window which had somehow been spared and glanced outside.  “Do you have a bin we could place under here?  We could simply throw everything out the window.”
Her brow furrowed as she thought.  “I think we have one in the back.  We’ll need some bags as well.  Hanna will want the mattress down to make pillows.”
“This happens often?”
He opened the door and let her lead the way to wherever they needed to be next.
Someone behind them whistled.  “If she wasn’t Christopher’s, I’d be having my way with that one.”
Neeka’s back straightened at the comment, but she didn’t stop walking.
Kendall, however, turned with a growl.  He found himself looking at three drunks, one of which was leaning against the wall to stay upright. 
“Just ignore them, Kendall.”  Neeka tugged at his tunic sleeve.  “It’s not worth it.”
He reluctantly followed her once again.  “How about that?  Does that happen often?”
She shrugged.  “It’s only words.  They all know Christopher would kill them if they touched me.”
“Let’s just concentrate on cleaning this room.  I’d rather not talk about Christopher.”
Kendall put a hand on the exit door before she could open it.  She was upset.  He could see it in her clenched jaw and her rigid posture.
“I’m sorry.”
She relaxed slightly then closed her eyes as he brushed his thumb over her frown.
Whatever it was this girl was going through, it was weighing heavily on her being.  She definitely put on a brave front, but under the happy exterior, something was definitely wrong.
“Are you alright?”
She gazed up at him and nodded.  “I’ll be fine.”  She smiled.  “Come along.  This room won’t clean itself.”

A strange shiver ran through him as she opened the door.  The feeling was gone before he could decide what it was and he quickly forgot about it as the day went on.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Displaced: chapter two

Whoohoo! Three weeks in a row where I remember to post a chapter!  I'm on a roll.  :D  Anyhow, here you are.  Chapter two of Displaced.  <3

Chapter Two

“I need to find a town.”  Kendall ran his hands over his face and groaned.  He’d found a small deserted cave to lie in until his headache had calmed down which, fortunately, had only been a few hours. Once he’d been sure he could move without feeling ill, he’d travelled at a jog for the past hour.
He stopped and shifted.  He was definitely getting closer to some sort of civilization.  The smell of smoke and people was getting stronger.  He turned back to his human form, unsure of what he’d find once he finally found another living being.  He took another look at his surroundings.  Now that the sun was coming up, he was even more confused as to where he might be.  There were a lot of narrow trails weaving their way through the woods though he’d yet to come across any animals that might help him ascertain which part of Quelondain he was in.  And the foliage… Though all of the plants seemed somewhat familiar, they also differed drastically from what he was used to seeing.  There were more plants with teeth here than he’d ever seen before. 
A woman’s voice rang through the air.
“I swear, Hanna, the men I meet simply get worse and worse.  Why can’t I simply find one decent man who’ll take me on as his mate?”
“Maybe it’s where you go to meet them, Neeka.  You go to a pub, you’ll bring home a drunk.”
“And where else am I supposed to go?  There’s nowhere in this bloody part of the land that has any decent men in it.”
“There’s the soldiers…”
There was a grunt.  “Right.  No better way to get loved and left.”
“You know, you are intended to Christopher.”
“And you know I won’t be his mate.  That was Brian’s doing, not mine.  The man scares me.  There’s something off about him.”
The two women rounded a corner in the trail and stopped short at the sight of the man before them.  Kendall tried to hide his surprise. They weren’t wearing any style of clothing he remembered seeing anywhere in Quelondain.  Their dark grey
pants were loose in the leg to the point where, had he not seen them walking, he’d have thought them to be wearing skirts.  They were both holding baskets laden with fresh food.  The shorter of the two met his eye and frowned.  She adjusted the basket on her hip, the gesture pulling his gaze to her torso which, instead of being covered in a tunic, was wrapped in a cloth band, like someone had started at her hip, continued their way up, then looped it over her shoulders before moving back down and tying it in a knot along her waist.  The black shawl she wore over her hair blended in with the raven color of her long, curly hair.  The sheer material covered her head then crossed so that it wrapped around her neck before coming back around and tying around her hair at the nape of her neck.  The second woman nudged her and the light green eyes holding his blinked.
Kendall was the first to recover.  “Good afternoon, ladies.”  He nodded to both and was rewarded with smiles.  “I seem to have gotten off course.  Would you be so kind as to tell me where I might be?”
The taller of the two cocked her head to the side.  “You’re not a shifter, are you?”
“Hanna!”  Neeka shook her head.  “You’ll have to excuse my sister.  We all know that whatever shifters are left have vacated the area.  She still accuses everyone of being one.”
“What?  Can’t a girl have a little fun?  It’s funny to see the looks on people’s faces when I ask them.  I mean, you should have seen yours.”  Hanna grinned at him.
“Soon enough, we’ll be completely rid of the bastards.”  Neeka grunted.
Kendall’s mind was racing.  The war was over.  The humans had lost.  This was all wrong.  Were these women rogues, they wouldn’t be out in the open like this. “Um, right.  See, that’s what I’m wondering.  I was attacked a few days back and forced to travel blindfolded.  All of my things were taken…”  He glanced from one to the other, hoping he was running with the right thought.  “I’d like to know where I was dumped.”
Neeka nodded.  “Well, you’ll be glad to know you’re still in Thistendal,” she teased.
Hanna elbowed her.  “He’s been through enough.  You’re  just outside the town of Jaish.”
It took a moment for their words to sink in.  “Bloody hell.”  Kendall’s curse was loud in the sudden silence. His heart pounded in his chest and butterflies fought to break out of his stomach.  Thistendal.  He wasn’t even in Quelondain anymore.  He was on a completely different continent!  How, in the name of the moons, was he going to get home?
“Are you alright?”  Neeka put her basket down and reached for the canteen she had in it.  She handed it to him.
He nodded and cleared his throat.  “I’m just surprised at how far I’ve travelled.”  He ran a hand over his face.
“Come.  Our guardian runs the inn in Jaish.  We’ll get you a room for the night and you can get your affairs in order.”
“I’ve no money.  Robbed, remember?  I’ll be fine, I’m sure, though I do appreciate the offer.”
She grinned.  “You must be from farther south.  I love the accent.  Anyhow, it’s not an offer, it’s an order.  You need to eat and sleep somewhere tonight.  They say the shifters are gone from this area, but you never know if you’ll run into one.  Dangerous.  They’ll kill you in your sleep if they can.  Come along.  I insist.”  She picked up her basket and waited until he was beside her before starting off.
His curiosity getting the better of him, he glanced down at Neeka.  “Have you ever met one?”
“A shifter.  Have you ever met one?”
She looked up at him.  “How do you meet an animal?”
“Well, they’re human as well, yeah?”
She shook her head.  “It doesn’t matter what form they take.  They’re all beasts.  And no.  I’ve never seen one.”
Kendall decided to drop the subject.  Could it be that shifters here were different than the Majs and Namaels of Quelondain?  Maybe they were more animal than man.  Whatever the case was, it was obvious that to let on he wasn’t human was the worst thing he could do.  Steering clear of that particular subject seemed like a swell idea.
“Have you?”
He was drawn out of his thought by Neeka’s question.
“Have I what?”
“Seen a shifter.”
“Oh.  No.  Never.”  At least, not the kind she seemed to be talking about.  He wondered what she’d do if he told her shifters weren’t what she thought.  He took a deep breath.  It was best to leave it alone.  He’d find some supplies, some food, and take the day to try and think of how he could get home.  Who knew… maybe Hayden would somehow manage to displace him home again.
“So, do you have a name?”
He smiled.  “Kendall.”
“And what do you do, Kendall?”
She blinked.  “Really! Here I had you pegged as a soldier of some sort.”
She shrugged.  “It’s the way you hold yourself; like you’re about to jump out of your skin.”
He grinned.  “It never hurts to be prepared.”
Neeka raised an eyebrow in his direction.  “Like you were when those men jumped you?”
By the moons, was the woman ever going to stop asking questions?  “I was sleeping at the time.”  He breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the small town before them.
“Come along.  The inn is this way.”
As they wandered into town, he enjoyed the brightly colored roofs and white walls of the buildings.  The red, blue, and yellow paint made it seem like such a cheerful and happy place.  His brows drew together as he watched the people wandering the streets.  Kendall’s unease increased once again.  This was a bad idea. It was obvious that even though it was morning, a large number of people were already stumbling about intoxicated.
He watched as one man pulled his pants down, barely making an effort to turn and hide as he relieved his bladder in the street.
“Is there a celebration happening?”
A woman yelled out of the window and threw a plate at the man.
Hanna nodded.  “Some soldiers came into town late last night, swearing they’d killed a shifter.”
Kendall’s stomach dropped.  “They had proof?”
She shrugged.  “If a lock of white blond hair is proof, I suppose you can say they did.”
Now, he wanted nothing more than to leave.  What was wrong with these beings?  There was never a time when he’d been out on patrols when he’d thought it alright to rejoice over a kill he’d made.  He was a soldier, not a savage.
And what was he thinking?
There was no way a shifter was going to go unnoticed in a town full of humans with an obvious hatred of shifters.  He glanced back to the safety of the forest then looked down where Neeka had put a hand on his arm.  She cocked her head to the side in question.
“I’m just hoping the crew who robbed me aren’t here.  This seems like it might be their kind of scene.”
She smiled.  “Well, if they are, I’ll protect you.”
He laughed despite his unease.
“Come along.  You can’t tell me you’re not hungry.  I can hear your stomach from here.”
He nodded.  “I could use a bite.”  He glanced at Hanna who was watching them intently.  “Careful!”
Hanna let out a small squeal as he grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him.
“Watch where you’re going,” he growled at the couple of drunks who’d almost crashed into her.
Both sisters glared at the men before gathering the vegetables that had fallen out of Hanna’s basket.
“Here.  Let me take those.”  Kendall took both baskets and followed along as they led the way to the inn.
Here was hoping nothing happened to draw any attention to him between now and whenever he’d be able to leave.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Displaced: chapter one

Hello, my patient readers!
Just as promised, here's the first chapter of Displaced!  

Chapter One

Kendall lay by the creek, his arms behind his head.  It was a perfect day to lie around and do nothing.  He stretched and yawned; the perfect day to be lazy.  It was one of the things he loved to do most since the war with Paradin was over; relax.  It had taken a while to get to this point.  For months after they’d returned home from fighting, he’d had nightmares of the events that had taken place.  The beings that had been injured, killed… all because of one deranged human.  He remembered the agony engulfing his body as Laif’s magic had started to rip his tiger out of him.
He shivered then inhaled deeply to help rid himself of the thoughts taking over his mind.  Peaceful.  Things were peaceful now.  Braw was dead and the staff of Laif had been destroyed.  Things were quiet now.  Other than the odd human rogue stirring up trouble here and there, there hadn’t been much to worry about. 
“Kendall!  Are you here?”  Brice’s voice drifted out of the woods towards him.
He sat up with a good natured groan which turned into laugh.  “How are you doing, mate?”
Brice grinned.  “I’m well.  You?”
“I can’t complain.  It’s a beautiful day.”
His friend nodded.
Kendall brushed shaggy black bangs out of his light blue eyes.  “What brings you out to these parts?”
“I’m on a recruiting mission.”
Kendall stiffened.  So much for peaceful.  “What happened?”
Brice chuckled.  “Relax. Everything is quiet.  Hayden is looking for volunteers to practice her displacement spell on.”  The blond man grunted.  “I was her target yesterday and I just managed to rid myself of the headache.”
Kendall laughed.  Poor Hayden.  It didn’t matter that she was the most powerful sorceress in Quelondain; the poor woman was never going to master the displacement spell.  “I suppose I could take the brunt of it this time.  You’ll owe me one.  I had plans today.”
“I was planning on staying in this exact same position until supper time.”  He stood and stretched one last time before shifting into his tiger.  He cocked his head at Brice to lead the way.  His friend smiled, shifted into his leopard then bound into to the woods toward Hayden and Jasper’s cabin.
“Uncle Kendall!”
He shifted in time to catch Emma in his arms as the six year old threw herself in the air.
“Hello, Sweetling.”  He gave her a hug then boosted her onto his shoulders.  Nina and Daniel, Hayden and Jasper’s other two adopted children, ran to give their own hugs in welcome.  “Is your dad home?”
Nina shook her head.
“Mamma!  Uncle Kendall and Uncle Brice are here!”  Daniel shifted into his wolf and loped to the house in case Hayden hadn’t heard him.
Hayden stepped out of the house, her long dark brown hair pulled back into a pony tail. 
“Brice!  I told you to stay home today.”  She mock glared at her friend.
“Aye, you did, but I’m fine.  Really.  The headache is gone.”  He smiled and pressed his lips to her forehead in reassurance.  “I brought you another test subject for the afternoon.”
Kendall grinned and pulled her in for a hug. 
She looked up, frowning.  “Are you sure?  You were sick for three days the last time I tried displacing you.”
He shrugged.  “Brice tells me you’ve gotten better since then.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.”  Sick was quite the understatement.  He’d been in bed, fevered, throwing up, with his head pounding for a full three days before the effects of Hayden’s magic had let him recover. 
“I don’t know…” Hayden bit the inside of her cheek, worried.
“Really, Hayden.  You’ll do fine.”  He gave her arm a squeeze.
“Do you want a cookie, Uncle?  I found it in my pocket.”  Emma handed a sorry looking cookie down from on his shoulders.
Kendall took it.  “Thank you.  I’ll just put it in my pocket for later, alright, Sweetling?  I’d rather go into this with an empty stomach.”  He gave Hayden an encouraging look.  “Though I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
“Alright.  But you need to tell me the instant you start to feel sick.”
He nodded.  “Down you go, Emma.”  He squatted so she could climb down.  “Now, where would like me to stand,” he inquired as he stood.
“Why don’t you jump the creek and go stand by the woods.  I’ll try to displace you to this side of it.”
Kendall shifted and easily leapt across the flowing water. 
A quarter of an hour later, Kendall found himself still standing by the woods, his arms at his side, his blue eyes gazing into Hayden’s green ones across the creek.  He could tell she was biting the inside of her cheek.
She blinked and took a step back.  “Are you getting a headache?  I can stop if you want.”
He shook his head.  “No, I’m fine.  I just don’t want you drawing blood on the inside of your mouth.”  He smiled.  “Take a deep breath and relax.  Don’t worry about me, a headache won’t kill me.  Just concentrate on the spell.”
She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.  “Alright.”
Kendall watched as she mouthed the words she needed before pushing her energy toward him.  He felt the rush of magic wash over him, felt the ground disappear under his feet, and suddenly, he was free falling through the air.
“Great job, Hayden!” 
Brice’s compliment sounded far away as he felt the grass reappear under him.  He blinked hard to get rid of the spots blocking his vision.  His gaze focused in time to see Hayden jumping up and down, clapping like a child.  He grinned despite the fact he could hear the blood pounding in his head.
“I barely felt that one,” he lied, knowing she was watching him to judge his reaction to the spell.  “Why don’t you give it another go?”
“Are you sure?”  Her initial excitement faded and she frowned, her eyes squinted with worry.
“I’m fine. Really.”
She took a deep breath and he tried to relax. 
“Alright.  But just one more time.”  She waited until he nodded before inhaling deeply to focus.
This time, there was no waiting for the rush of magic.  Kendall grunted with the force with which it slammed into him. 
What’s taking so long?  He was sure he’d never had to wait more than a fraction of a second before finding himself back on firm land.  Five, six, seven…
The ground rushed up under him once again and his legs buckled under the impact.
He groaned and held his pounding head.  He’d been wrong.  He could die from a headache. The
world took a wild spin and he rolled to his side in case he threw up.  His stomach churned, his heart pounded.  He kept his eyes closed, sure the pressure behind his eyes would force them out of their sockets.  It took a moment to realize he couldn’t hear Brice cheering and that Hayden still hadn’t rushed to his side to make sure he was alright.  He opened one eye at a time, hoping the sunlight wouldn’t make the pounding worse.  Why was it dark out?
“Bloody hell! What happened?”  He wrapped his arms around his knees and looked around slowly before attempting to stretch.  Why was he so stiff?  His formed blurred and he felt his bones move into their proper order as he shifted into his tiger.
Kendall took in his surroundings more closely.  Even with his feline vision, nothing looked familiar.  He shifted back.  “Not even a bit,” he mumbled to no one in particular.  “What kind of plant is that, do you suppose?”  He reached over to a large blue flower growing from the trunk of a light pink tree.  “These look like the pink trees in the Wedelven forest, but I’ve never seen flowers like these growing on them before.”  He jumped back with a growl as the flower bared teeth and attempted to bite his outstretched hand.  “By the moons!  It tried to eat me!”
He’d never heard of a plant like this one. His heart raced and he inhaled deeply a few times to try and focus.  What had happened?  Where was he?  And better yet, how was he going to get home?

That's it, Sweetlings!  Stay tuned for chapter two next week sometime!!