Reality Check For Authors #18: One Size Does Not Fit All


“Indie publishing lets me feed my inner control freak.” ― Michelle M. Pillow

One size dimages (2)oes not fit all. What works to power the sales of a Traditionally Published author, will not necessarily work to fuel the sales of Indie-Self Published author. Why? Because in Traditional Publishing, the goal of the publisher is to sell an author’s book to distributors and retail outlets – not the reader. In the Indie-Self Published world, the goal of every author is to connect and sell directly to the reader. No middle man – just you and whatever venue you’ve chosen to make yourself known on. (Even should you choose to sell your POD from a retail outlet, it’s still you doing the ‘distributing’, not some person in the middle.)

Reality Check For Authors #19 is: if you’re planning on being an Indie-Self Published author, then you’ll need to start thinking like an Indie-Self Published author (instead of a Traditionally Published one). And one of the fastest way to begin making that metamorphic changeover is, stop trying to imitate the Traditional boys and girls, and start paying attention to what successful Indie-Self Published ones are doing instead. Including, but not limited to, the way you see yourself (Are you an author, a business person, or both?), to how you intend to make the connect between your book and the reader (Are you looking for one night stands, or are you willing to invest in the long-term relationships?), to what will you do when the well runs dry (What kind of marketing plan do you have in place for your book (s)?).

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The Remnant:A Dystopian Paranormal Fantasy


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Chapter 73-75  Revenant

The revenant watched from its place among the shadows. A cleft in the rock face where it could observe its quarry, less than one-hundred feet away, unnoticed.  All but the reaver seemed unaware that death waited so close, the other milling around like cattle, voices raised, emotions heightened, the creature often needing to restrain itself from the urge to slip into their midst and beginning feeding.  But thousands of years of experience had taught, that it was far more satisfying to wait and capture the right one, than to give into temptation and take one that would only give it momentary pleasure.

Feeding on flesh only sustained its body. It was the soul and all its emotional psychosis  that gave it the energy, strength and focus it needed to survive. The more its prey fought capture, struggled to break free and gave into its fears and thus releasing the terror within, the greater the output of psychic energy there was for the revenant to glut itself on.

Within a few minutes of sifting through different aura’s, it found what it was looking for. Sandwiched between two older, more experienced fighters, stood a young damphir, the monster within not yet woken, the pounding of his heart resonating with the revenants own hunger. While capturing a warrior might feed it for a day, taking one of its younger, untried kits, would feed it for weeks. Satisfied, the creature settled down to wait.

It took a while for the seeming chaos to end, but finally the one with dark, watchful eyes, whose emotional energy was difficult for the creature to pick up on, spoke up, commanding the others to prepare themselves for battle. After several more minutes of jocking for position and power, they eventually found their place in front of the tunnel’s entrance. If a smile could have been possible, the revenant would have drawn the edges of its maw back, even as the fire within its eyes began to flare with anticipation.

Moving out of the crevasse into the center of the tunnel, the revenant pulled shadow and darkness around it, weaving its own essence with its surroundings until it was impossible to tell where the one ended and the other began. Though it couldn’t hold off being exposed by the light indefinitely, it could sustain its current form long enough to evade detection and steal the child. Once that was accomplished and it had escaped into one of the other tunnels, there would no longer be any reason to hide itself. Which meant it could then channel all its energy into moving through the city’s labyrinth of tunnels far more quickly, losing the pursuing damphirs while securing its meal in a location the others would never find. Within moments the creatures nails lengthened into weapons capable reducing its enemies into smaller, more portable pieces.

Seldom was it given an opportunity to engage reavers and even more seldom than that, damphirs. Now, with such a variety to choose from, the creature’s body began to tremble in anticipation, ready to leap out the moment those who sought to try to kill it released their own inner beast. Already it sensed a change as a heady mixture of sweat, adrenaline and sulfur, underpinned by a much more pungent  aroma of fear, drifted down the passage, absorbing into every cell of its being. It wouldn’t be long until the child would be secure and the revenant could begin stoking its young psych, into a frenzy of hopelessness and terror; intoxicating emotions the creature had every intention of savoring for days to come.

The cavern suddenly rang with the damphirs cry for battle, its hunger for the revenant reverberating through the very rock itself.  Accepting the challenge, the revenant locked eyes with a creature as old as itself but clothed in the skin of a human, then burst from the tunnel, a silent blade of death.

Sensed but not seen, it danced among its enemies, every move an orchestrated symphony of speed and proficiency designed to engage and distract, draw out and confuse, all the while making its way across the junction through a swirl of blades, swords and machete.

So swiftly did the assassin travel among its foes, not even torch-light could capture its movements even thought there were times when it felt the near penetrating swipe of a blade, and once, in a moment of curiosity, allowed the reaver to neatly sliced off a portion of shadow that might have looked like an arm. Yet in all the explosion of anger, hatred and lust, not one drop of blood was spilt, with only a slight abrasion left on the cheek of one of the females as a testament to the revenant having been there.

No one saw it snatch the boy out from between his guardians or noticed down which of the four tunnels it too, and before its captive could cry out to alert the others of his abduction, the revenant closed off the child’s wind pipe, depriving him of air. Once the boy was no longer conscious, the creature tossed him over its back and resumed running, heading east towards a long forgotten series of tunnels it knew would take it beneath a great body of water into another city; one it had once hunted before the Great War forced it to look elsewhere. As it left Seattle behind, there was not a single footprint to indicate which way it had gone. In its wake the creature rumbled deep within its chest as it listen to the roar of rage coming from the passage behind; a herald to its enemies newest discovery; neither the boy or it were any longer there.

Stride lengthening even more, the revenant’s instincts led it down pathways once familiar, turning into passages lately abandoned by those who, like itself, called the darkness their home. An hour later, assailed by the scent of rotted vegetation and mildew it entered the passage beneath what had once been a thriving food source, but due to nuclear and biological fall out, was now home to creatures far more dangerous than itself.

Several times the revenant was forced to stop and kill beings wanting to try to take its prize, most of whom hadn’t seen the light since the day they crawled out of their primal ooze to take up residence beneath the lake. If it hadn’t been concerned about being followed, it might have enjoyed introducing the boy to some of the horrors that awaited it then, rather than wait until it reached its lair on the other side. But with enemies such as the reaver and damphirs tracking them, those types of pleasures would have to wait. There would be plenty of time to enjoy its newest capture once the others had been taken care of first.

For thousands of years the creature hunted its way across land masses and sparsely populated communities. Then civilization began to change, humans and other beings started gathering  in groups creating cities, a ready supply of food, which in turn had an effect on the way it hunted, causing it to begin using every opportunity as a chance to hone its skills by improving the way it not only stalked and captured its victims, but incited them to fear prior to finally devouring their flesh.  It was one of the reason it had chosen the damphirs as its next victim; a species it found both fascinating as well as a challenge to take down, once they reached the age where the monster within no longer lay dormant.

As much as it made every effort to avoid being tracked as it sped away from Seattle, the revenant believed, given enough time, either the reaver or one of the damphirs would pick up its scent and follow.  With the boy securely hid away, it could then set about ambushing a second victim; this one bigger and therefore harder to break, but no less a pleasure to consume.

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DAILY MUSE


approval of others

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April 20, 2014 · 12:29 pm

Keys of Destiny: Mark of Shamash by SSpjut


Keys of Destiny: Mark of Shamash by SSpjut

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April 15, 2014 · 12:50 pm

Reality Check For Authors #17: TDQ Too-Damn-Quiet


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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

It’s 6 AM and this is the second day, week, maybe even month, that you’ve sat down to work on the great American novel and . . . nothing. Nada! Gar nicht! Not a darn thing. Blank. No words. No images. No ‘What if’s’. No ‘Who done it’s.’ Not even the ‘Sound of Music’, with Julie Andres and Christopher Plummer, running around your head. Like the aftermath of WWI – all is quiet on the Western Front.

TDQ: Too damn quiet for a writer trying to finish a novel.

Reality Check For Authors #17 is: Anyone and everyone who has ever written anything, will tell you that there will be times when the characters and or plot of their story will have absolutely nothing to say. This is when the smart ones know (and that would be you and me), having multiple projects in the hopper (such as a 500 WC Prompted Novella called ‘The Remnant‘, or a weekly post like ‘Reality Check For Authors‘) can do wonders for helping the muted Muse in your brain to get over herself, and start talking once again.

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The Remnant: Sons of God, Daughters of Eve


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Leliel: “I see the Council has once again chosen to disregard my warning about the Conclave. I can only assume they are prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decision.”

Sariel: “And what might that be, dear brother?”

Leliel: “The death of those we’ve been given to protect, of course.”

Sariel: “While your council is always welcome, I fear your obsession with this particular species has clouded your judgment. If it makes you feel any better, we’ve requested additional Watcher’s.

Leliel: Lips as finely sculpted as the arched brows over the angels cerulean etched eyes, thinned.  “Do you ever grow tired of the games, brother?”

Sariel: “Games? I’m not sure I understand. Are you referring to the task we’ve been given to preserve the continued existence of the prime objective or that which goes on between you and me?

Leliel: “Either. Both.” The angel of darkness turned his head to look out over the area once known as Puget Sound, the chiseled lines of his face a perfect backdrop for his pale skin and ebony hair. “Are you not the least tempted to try to discover what it is about them that has captured the attention of heaven?”

Sariel: “I don’t need a replay of history to remember what happened the last time our brothers gave into their temptations. We’re still dealing with the repercussions from that fiasco.”

Leliel: “Interesting. You see catastrophe, I see . . .potential.”

Sariel: “Is this conversation going somewhere? I have a progress report to type up and superiors to give it to.”

Leliel: “I can only assume, due to your lack of interest, it is not.”

The last rays of sunlight departed to the east as Leliel spread his wings, lengthening shadows and darkening the night. Behind him, Moon bowed her head in acknowledgment of his presence, while below the ship known as the Nergal, lay anchored in waves far less violent than those now crashing on the islands windward side. The sound of Captain Josiah Jyun’s voice drifted upwards from the ship’s hull, the words full of confidence, the order clear.

Prior to his discussion with Sariel, Leliel had been watching the damphir known as Fendar struggle to stay ahead of the storm’s earliest onslaught. But according to the rules of his mission, there was nothing he could do but watch as the man’s efforts to reach the city in time, failed when he was wounded by silver bullets shot from a gun aboard the Nergal – incapacitating, but not fatal. Had the captain’s intent been otherwise, Leliel would have swept down and removed his young charge, regardless of the rules.

The fact the pirate king trolled this close to land, boded ill for many of the tribes. It also added to the growing sense of unease he’d begun to experience more than a year ago. The fact that the Council ignore his repeated warning only made it more difficult for him to remain neutral, even though in all fairness, he couldn’t totally blame them. The last time an angel interfered in the affairs of men, the world had almost been completely destroyed.

Iridescent wings, as black as the night around him, folded close to his spine as the angle descended to a cliff-top overlooking a beach on Vashon’s northern shores. From his perch high above, Leliel watched as two men from Jyun’s ship rowed one of Nergal’s life boats ashore, then got out to inspect another boat located well out of the storms reach. With eyes that saw as well without light as they did with, the angel watched as the pirates discover dark stains on the crafts wooden seat, confirming what he himself already knew; someone had lost a lot of blood and chances were, they were hiding somewhere on this island. Leliel knew it would be no more than half an hour before the captain sent back a second landing party to track that person and take them captive.

Several millennia ago he’d begun to wonder, if Anakim were truly the more superior species, why had the All Father allowed the sons of God to take the daughters of Eve as their mates? Surely one who is both omnipresent and omniscient would have seen such a union and know what the outcome would be. If the prime directives were truly the abomination many of his kind believed them to be, then why had they been placed under the guardianship of angels such as himself?

Leliel didn’t wait for the men to return to their boat. Instead, he pulled the darkness around him, opened his wings and took flight, heading away from pirates towards the monastery located somewhere near the island’s southern point. In his earlier conversation with Sariel he’d asked his brother whether he was ever curious why the prime objective was of such interest to heaven. What he’d really wanted to know was whether, like himself, Sariel regretted not having been one of those who hadn’t allowed their prejudice to stand in the way of discovering for themselves what it was about this particular species that continued to fascinate the All Father?

The idea of acting upon those thoughts had been ruminating in the dark angel’s mind for some time. Taking into consideration what his instincts were telling him and what he knew of the pirate kings ways, Leliel decided it was time to turn thoughts into actions.

Insulated from the storms fury, it only took a few minutes before he reached a well-tended clearing lit by the glow of fire light streaming out windows located on the monasteries main floor. From his previous visits, Leliel knew the wounded damphir would be recovering below, in caverns originally designed for hiding escapes from government detection. His senses validated the other was close by.

By staying near the tree line,  he hoped to be able to approach the sanctuary without detection by anyone who might be watching for Fendar’s return. At some point he knew he would be forced to make his presence known, but he wanted to wait until he was inside. With Captain Jyun and his men on their way, he had very little time in which to convince a protective damphir that he was not her enemy.  Better to do it in a confined area he could control, than in the wide open space of the monasteries grounds, where Pedal would have a great deal more area in which to not listen.

Because monasteries were built with worship, not security in mind, the locks and bolts employed to keep unwanted visitors out, wouldn’t have prevented an experienced thief, let alone someone such as himself, from getting through. To minimize the noise factor, he chose the less obvious method and simply passed through the outer mud room wall. Once inside, his relied on his senses to lead him through the kitchen, down a short hall, into a great room where he found the younger monk and damphir Pedal, seated in front of a roaring fire, sipping from ceramic mugs filled with what his nose told him was tea, flavored with honey and cloves.

Leliel had been observing this particular group of damphirs since before the Great War, so he was intimately familiar with Pedal and the creature that lived within her. Which meant he also knew her reaction to any sign of danger was to kill first, ask questions later.  Normally his kind did not reveal themselves to other species. But just as the coming storm had forced him to abandon his former position of detached surveillance, so it now forced him to remove the veil of darkness he cloaked himself in.

†††††

Pedal smelt the creature moments before it flew into the clearing, its scent familiar in a way she couldn’t put her finger on. Immediately the monster within her began to stir, its need to protect those she loved straining at the chains that bound it. Theo noticed the sudden dilation of her pupils, but before he could ask, she raised a finger to her lips, the reached down and retrieved the knives from a pack lying at her feet. Seconds later the blades were hidden in sheaths beneath her coat sleeves. Picking up her cup of tea, Pedal leaned into the back of her chair, then pretended there wasn’t a creature sent to kill them, sneaking up behind her.

 

 

 

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DAILY MUSE


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April 13, 2014 · 12:28 pm

The Review: Blood Maidens


Blood Maidens; Barbara Hambly, 2010; Severn House8388595

As my readers know, I’m a big Hambly fan (she’s in My Favorite Reads list). As talent goes, Barbara always restores my faith in the power of good narrative – which, let’s face it, not every writer can do without making me want to shoot myself (or worse, skip over the entire passage). She also does an excellent job with dialog and the make-it-or-break-it, ‘show don’t tell’. (Which if you didn’t know, wasn’t a big deal until about fifty or sixty years ago.) And in today’s historical-paranormal-romance genre, its hard for an author to come up with a unique twist that doesn’t involve a woman in leather, give-me-a-break-sex scenes and vampires.

But Hambly does.

Fact is, she’s done such a great job with her James Asher series, I finish every book relieved to know my imagination is still in tact: i.e.- I get to decide whether the sex was hot and heavy, or if the main vampire, Don Simon Ysidro, is really as nasty as he’d like James and his wife Lydia, to believe.

 “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” ― Neil Gaiman

I also appreciate that this author knows her history and does an incredible job of weaving fantasy, paranormal, romance and history into one really good plot; my four favorite escape genre’s, all rolled into one. Nine times out of ten, Hambly will hit a home run.

Unfortunately, this was that one that didn’t quiet make it to home plate.

Not that she didn’t do a wonderful job with the history and the paranormal and the romance or the dialog or the narrative. Where she would have lost me, had I not whipped out my ‘Loyal Reader Badge’, was the first twenty or so pages. It was almost as though it took her awhile to figure out where she was going with the story, and then forgot to go back in the re-write and tidy up the confusion. In other words, it took quiet a while for me to connect with the story she was trying to tell. Too convoluted by far. Which is not her normal style. It also didn’t help that there were so many Russian names, I couldn’t keep track of them (What do they always tell an author about having too many characters?)

So on my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Blood Maiden, a 3 for taking too long to reach first base.

 

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Reality Check For Authors #16: Fairy Tales and The Case of Not So Much


72For those who have chosen to make writing a profession, being able to sit down, day after day in front of a laptop, desktop, iPad or What-Have-You-Pad, is a dream come true: a life spent in endless creativity,  churning out boundless works of intellectual wonder; a Utopian existence of unlimited imagination.

NOT!

Reality Check For Authors #16: The number of minutes, hours, days, maybe even weeks that a professional author – such as yourself – can expect to have endless streams of creativity flowing out of your cerebral cortex, is less than a million to one (I made that up – but you get the point). It’s a ‘Fairy Tale’ told by twisted people who have either never written a book, or when they did, used chemical enhancements to accomplish it. The Reality is, real writing is not so much about the initial brilliance, but the willingness to sit down for countless hours, pecking away at a sentence, scene or even entire chapters, not because you’ve acquired magical powers, but because when all is said and done, it’s not fairy dust that writes really great novels, but good old fashion, hard work.

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The Remnant: Wounded Cargo


DSCF5579_editedDamphir, Fendar, Pirates

The pain caused from the silver bullet lodged in Fendar’s shoulder, stabbed at his consciousness until it finally drove him up out of the darkness he’d fallen into shortly after being brought aboard the pirate’s ship. That they hadn’t bothered to remove it, suggested the captain knew that even though small amounts of silver wouldn’t kill someone like himself, it would begin leaching away his ability to heal or recover enough to break out of the four by six cage they’d locked him in.

Needing something other than the pain to focus on, Fendar went back over everything he could remember about being shot and captured.

He, Pedal and Aryan, had been on their way to the monastery on Vashon Island, when their boat was spotted and shot upon by pirates – the arrow, a sentient weapon designed by the US military to seek out vital organs – missing him and hitting Aryan instead. It was decided, after taking her to the monastery, that he would return to the city and tell Spider and the others what happened, while Pedal stayed behind and waited for Aryan to recover from the surgery needed to remove the arrow.

Disguised as a monk, Fendar had taken one of the monasteries smaller boats, instead of the one they’d brought, in hopes that if he were spotted by the pirates, they wouldn’t attack or try to capture him. But shortly after getting out on the water, a storm rolled in from the south, keeping him so busy trying to stay afloat, he didn’t notice the pirate ship until it was too late. If he’d been shot with  a regular bullet, the wound might have hurt like hell, but it wouldn’t have been enough to slow him down or keep him from reaching the Viaduct and disappearing into the tunnels. But they’d used silver instead,  making him too weak to outrun them.

Fendar gritted his teeth as he tried to find a position that would ease some of the cramping in his legs without putting any more pressure on his shoulder.

When the ships crew hauled him up and dropped on the deck, a combination of the violence of the ships rocking and the bullet’s toxins caused him to vomit everything he’d eaten on the island, between the feet of someone with blue rubber soles. He couldn’t remember the particulars,  but he thought one of those boots might have kicked him in the head, while somewhere above him, a man yelled to get the cargo below and clean up the puke.  Everything after that it was a blur, until he woke and heard two of the crew talking about the captain having a buyer.

Knowing most pirates trafficked in flesh, be it human or otherwise, Fendar had a fairly good idea what they were talking about, even if they hadn’t given the details.  said. What he couldn’t guess was, which of the Council of Four it might be.  But since they all wanted the Damphir’s eliminated, he supposed the ‘Who’ didn’t really matter. Unless of course he did manage to find a way to take the bullet out, then he knew his chances against all but the Strigori, were better than good.  And even against them, free of the silver’s poison, he could still inflict a lot of damage before they’d be able to take him down.

Now that he was finally awake he realized the vessel was no longer careening back and forth, which meant that the captain had either anchored in a harbor where the storm couldn’t reach them, or it had finally blown over. Since it didn’t feel like they were actually moving, he’ d have to go with the first; the captain had decided to hole up somewhere and wait it out.  He was just thankful they hadn’t captured him near the island, otherwise someone might have spotted the boat, gone a shore and discovered the trail of Aryan’s blood.

Exhausted from his body’s struggle to try and purge itself of the bullet’s poison, Fendar closed his eyes and fell back to sleep. The next time he work,  it was to the pain of someone prodding the wound in his shoulder. His jaw nearly cracked with the effort not to cry out. Opening his eyes, he found himself gazing into the hardened eyes of a man not much taller than himself, with thin lips and hair long enough to pull into a ponytail at the base of his neck. Like the companions to either side of him, the man’s features were a mixture of Asian and something else, maybe several something else’s. In the fading light it was hard to tell.  To the right of Hard Eyes, was a man Fendar recognized as Captain Josiah Jyun.  He assumed Hard Eyes had to be some kind of lieutenant, and the woman, maybe a second lieutenant.  Since rowing small boats between the city and monastery was the sole extent of Fendar’s nautical experience, he neither knew nor cared. All he really needed to know was, once he found a way to get loose, who to kill first.

Hard Eyes leaned forward, threatening to prod him with the harpoon again. Fendar tried to scramble back, but didn’t get any further than the wire pressing into his back.

Captain Jyun reached over and laid a hand on the other man’s arm. “Let’s see if our cargo might not be forthcoming  with the location of his friends, without using violence. Shall we, Mr. Maa?

Mr. Maa lowered the weapon, but didn’t withdraw it from the cage.

The captain squatted down, putting him on an eye-to-eye level with Fendar. “My name is Captain Jyun, and you are aboard my ship, The Nergal, and therefore belong to me. Earlier today, someone in a boat very similar to yours, was shot with an arrow. I need to know where that person is. And let me warn you, I have no tolerance for liars.”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out why Josiah Jyun wanted to find Pedal and Aryan. Being a pirate and flesh merchant, the captain would do whatever it took to meet the city’s supply and demand. There was no way Fendar was going to tell him about the girls.

“I don’t know anything about someone being shot. I’m from the monastery and was taking medicine to one of the tribes.” Theo had put some of the medicines used by the Humans and Morphkind into the satchel he’d been carrying, in case Fendar were caught and needed an alibi. “If you need proof that what I’m telling you is the truth, look in my satchel.”

The Captain’s eyes narrowed, sharpening his features. Stepping back from the cage, he nodded towards his lieutenant. ” Mr. Maa, please demonstrate to our cargo what happens to people who lie to me.”

The captain hadn’t even finished speaking before Maa drew back his arm and thrust the harpoon into Fendar’s side – piercing flesh without actually hitting any organs. Fendar nearly bit off his own lip to keep from screaming.

“Mr. Maa?”

“He’s a Damphir. He’ll heal.”

“Yes. I’d forgotten. One of the perks of being related to the un-dead; a speedy recovery system.”  Retrieving a bottle of water from the case behind him, the captain unscrewed the lid, took a long pull, than recapped it. “Yet, we must not forget, silver in the blood stream tends to slow that process down considerably, rendering them almost human.  Hm . . . I’d like to see just how human. Mr. Maa, again if you don’t mind. “

On the deck above, The Nergal’s crew,  all too familiar with Mr. Maa and Captain Jyun’s methods for getting information, went about their work, ignoring the screams coming out of ships hold.

The next time Fendar woke-up, it was to more than the wound in his shoulder. There was also the searing agony of multiple wounds, all of which were located in areas that would cause considerable pain, without being life threatening.  And each time the captain and Mr. Maa had come  back for another  ‘lesson’, Jyun would remind his henchman how incredibly difficult it was to kill a Damphir without cutting off their head or ripping out their heart. Fendar might bleed like a stuck pig, but eventually, even with the bullets toxins in his system, his regenerative powers would, over time, heal the wounds. So far he hadn’t told the captain anything other than his original story. He prayed he still wouldn’t.

Without torch-light the compartment he was being held in was as dark as any cavern beneath the city. Even for someone like himself, whose very nature was a product of the night,  he was finding it difficult to see much beyond the walls of his confinement. It didn’t help that he was finding it harder and harder to remain conscious. He almost laughed; not even a three-day stint guarding roof tops, with no sleep, had ever left him feeling this weak. He might as well be missing his head, for all the strength he had left.

His morbidity was interrupted by the sound of someone running on the deck over head. A few minutes later the thud of boots on steps and the flicker of torch-light in the passage outside his room, warned him he was about to have company. In his weakened condition, it took a few minutes before his eyes were able to adjust to the intrusion of light, to be see that Captain Jyun was the first one through the door, followed by Mr. Maa and a boy not much older than Trench.

Captain Jyun grabbed a bottle of water and thrust it into the cage. Fendar looked first at it, then the captain, all too aware of a shift in the man’s attitude. Jyun smiled. “The water is perfectly safe. I bottle my own.”

Fendar took the bottle, paused, twisted off the cap and drank the entire thing in one gulp. He’d been given nothing to drink since his first ‘lesson’, and with all the energy his body was expending in order to stop the bleeding, his hydration levels were dangerously low.

Settling into his customary squat, the Captain raised his own bottle as if saluting, then drank.  When he’d replaced the lid, he leaned forward, his face almost euphoric. “I though you should be one of the first to know. One of my scouts just returned. It seems a boat matching the same description as the one we shot this morning, has been spotted on Vashon Island, on the beach below Gray’s Point. It seems you weren’t the only one to visit the monastery today.”

 

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