Excerpt from Delphinium (Happy Valentine’s!)

“So what did you do this last year?” she asked as they began to walk around the clearing. They heard water and made towards the stream.

“Surgery work,” he replied. “We had corpses to practice on, to be able to know what went where, and why, and how.”

“How did you receive corpses?”

“Several people and families generously allowed us to use their loved one’s bodies after death.”

“I can not imagine that is popular. Did you share each.. Body?”
Pierre grimaced. He had not wished to inform Lizzy of this specifically. “Truthfully most were criminals whose deaths were not deemed important enough to give full funerals. At least this way they would be… of use.”

She took this in stride, nodding her head slowly though shuddering.

“A grim year, then.”

“Quite. Though it was not all gloom and horror.”

“Do tell?” While they had walked their hands had linked and she leaned against him as they found the river.

“We were students after all. Pranks were pulled, curfew ignored, alcohol drunk in excess. I was among the oldest so I mainly watched over the younger men.”

“And when you were younger?” Lizzy probed, reading into what Pierre had not said. He did not meet her eyes, staring up at the trees quite pointedly.

“Your brother and I had our fun at times.”

She laughed. They had gotten into enough trouble as children to guess the level of possible mischief Pierre and Piers could do when alone and bored.

“Anything illegal?”

I killed a man, he thought immediately. Several in fact, but one stood out to him in that moment. A prisoner taken straight from his hanging to his slab, so the students could see what was as close to a living body as possible. He had been not quite as dead as they had thought. After seeing the blood flowing and hearing the man let out a moan, even opening his eyes, many of the students turned away and one ran to alert a professor. Pierre had made it seem that he checked for a pulse, but he squeezed the very damaged windpipe. By the time someone with more authority was in the room the man was well and truly dead. It was deemed a delayed hanging. Pierre remained to finish the lesson even though he had been offered a pass at seeing a man die right before his eyes.

“No,” he told her.

“A pity. I hear from Piers that the best moments are those that might get you a night in jail for your troubles.”

“Oh, did he? What tales did he tell his dear little sister?”

“I believe there was a time when the boys in your dorm snuck in strong wine, or went out on the town. Perhaps those were actually in chronological order, it would explain much.”

“I never did such things.”

“Of course not. Though I now shall have to find myself another companion,” she said with a smile and glance to him. “I would like a partner with experience in such things so I have some guidance when I deem to try.”

Before he could answer she dashed ahead to where the stream was in view. He gave chase. At the edge of the bank she did not stop, pulling up her skirts and jumping to a rock that jetted out in the middle. She made it, arms waving to keep her balance and getting one shoe wet, but staying on the rock. With a laugh she turned and curtsied to him.

“And you think yourself safe there, Lizzy dear?” he called.

He took even less care of his attire, jumping straight into the water, mud, and stones. She gasped, looking around for another place to go, but the far side of the bank was, as named, too far.
He reached her then, grabbing her and swinging her in his arms as she shrieked.

“Pierre!”

“Hush or I shall drop you!”

“You would not!”

He pretended to, getting another shriek from her that had him laughing as he carried her back to shore.

“No, my dear, I would not,” he agreed, finally, placing her down in the grass. Not after she had been ill. Another day, perhaps.

They were the same height at the moment and he kissed her before getting out himself and looking down at his ruined clothes. His shoes were wet and the feeling was quite uncomfortable out of the water. He knelt down and began to untie the laces.

Lizzy bit her tongue to keep from asking naughtily if he would also take off his trousers, seeing as they were wet up to the knee.

When barefoot Pierre hopped back into the stream with the shoes in his hands.

“What are you doing?”

“Leaving my shoes,” he called over his shoulder, going back to the rock. He made sure they would not fall into the water before again returning. “They are quite nice shoes, but hardly my only pair. I am sure there are fée around, perhaps the gift would be appreciated. We cannot spare much food or drink.”

Her one shoe was hardly as wet as his had been but she sat and began to undo her laces as well. Without a word he bent down to help her.

“I shall buy you an even lovelier pair when we reach Piques,” he promised as he turned back to place her shoes next to his.

“Oh, you do not—”

“I insist.”


Not exactly a Scene as it’s from Delphinium and not a stand-alone, but I thought it fitting for Valentine’s. You’ll recognize Pierre’s thoughts from the Scene ‘Hanging.’

Vampire

I suppose it was bound to become a chore. Was it not a bother to go out and hunt as an old man, even if as a young one all you could think of was to the best horse, your hounds, and how you would finally find the white buck?

Still, I was hungry, and so I followed the two girls from their evening entertainment. They walked together, believing themselves safe in each other’s company, only ten minutes from the apartment.

One pulled out a cellular telephone and began to read it as she walked, managing to avoid stepping from the curb with the help of her friend. They giggled and chattered about whatever was being read, but I ignored them.

As they were passing an alley (I thought it would be a lovely place for my meal), someone else stepped from the shadows. I stopped and waited, watching.

“Hey, sorry, but can I borrow your phone? Mine ran out of batteries, I can’t call a cab or my parents.”

“No problem!”

And without any sense of self-preservation they moved to the young man. I believe the second young lady thought something was off, she seemed to hesitate, but social norms precluded her from acting because, after all- it would be rude to just assume.

He used a knife with some efficiency, slashing the throat of the first woman before grabbing the second. A hand to her mouth muffled her scream and a warning made her stop struggling. It seemed the one he held was the main target, the second just a mistake to be cleaned up.

“Perhaps I may be of assistance?”

I stepped out into one of the dim street-lamps, raising a hand. He held the girl closer to his chest and pressed the knife even harder into her throat. A trickle of blood made it’s way down her collar.

“Oh, please, don’t spill her blood all over the ground. It would be a waste.” I bent over to pick up the fallen girl, already dead, most of her blood painting the sidewalk. Her phone was thrown as she fell and was by the trashcans.

A pity. Brushing off her wound I sniffed and tasted- no, no good. Too much was gone, what was left was bitter with a spike of fear and pain.

“I hope you have more finesse with that one,” I said, dropping the first girl. “You could have at least left me one.”

He had paled while watching me, but had not said or done anything else. When I turned to him he tried to gather up his courage.

“So you’re a wei– vampire?” I had heard the insult before he swallowed it. For not finishing the word I let him keep his tongue.

“Yes, I am. Now, let go of that poor girl, she’s frightened to death. Look, she’s soiled herself already. Surely that is not what you’re hoping to happen.”

He glanced to the girl, who had curled up as much as she could, trying to twist away from him and as far into herself as possible. She had indeed wet herself, and now shook in silent sobs while trying to keep breathing against his gloved hand.

“I wanted to just… I love her,” he said, “you know? I’ve seen her every day for three years at the cafe and she’s moving to a different town, another college somewhere, and I just.. hey, Sarah, I’m sorry, I mean, I don’t want to scare you.”

“Good man,” I complimented as she seemed to relax ever so slightly. The knowledge that this wasn’t a random murderer was often helpful to victims, even if it did not usually help their survival in any way.

“May I help? Perhaps I could solve all of your problems.”

“How do I know you won’t take her instead? Or kill us both?”

I held my hands out in a gesture of peace. “I give you my word.”

“Your word?” He scoffed at the term and my patience grew thinner.

“Yes,” I said. “My word. I promise she will stay with you.”

He nodded, begrudgingly, and I wanted to tell him to speak up when he was spoken to by his betters.

Ah yes, this is how one found themselves reinvigorated. A child, a pupil. In teaching one could relive the mayhem of youth.

“Good. Now, first, let us get her comfortable.” I held out my hand and he let go of the girl–Sarah. She jumped away from him, tripping over her friend’s body, before she let out a shriek and collided into me.

I wrapped my arms around her, hugging her rather than restraining her. “Sarah,” I said into her ear, “my dear Sarah, shh. It is alright. Would you like to change out of your clothes? They can’t be comfortable.”

She was shaking, but did whimper something of a ‘yes’ so I took that as consent.

“Turn around,” I ordered the man. He stood there a moment, bloody knife still in his hand, unsure if I was going to take her away. I held back a sigh- of course children were often stupid and had to have everything explained to them.

“You are not her husband, or betrothed. You will not see her naked. Now turn around.”

“Neither are you!”

Rebellion. Oh, fun.

“I am over two hundred years old, you are both infants in comparison. Are you suggesting a father helping to change his daughter is doing so with lustful thoughts?”

“N-no.” He turned around without another word, finally accepting my tale and authority. Whether it was my tone, or the fangs that I had allowed to flash in annoyance I was not sure.

“Now, Sarah,” I said. “You and your friend are about the same size, yes? Have you ever borrowed each other’s clothes?”

“Yes. Emmy and I have similar styles, I’m actually wearing one of her favorite…” she stopped talking to look at the body of her friend and her shuddering body became one frozen in fear.

“Shh, don’t mind her. It was just her time to go.” I stroked her hair as I spoke and whatever mystical properties kept me alive and in need of blood also began to calm her. It did not matter how absurd my statement was, if I was saying it it was alright.

“Yeah.. and she was being a bitch earlier.”

I laughed. The tension gone she looked down at her pants and wrinkled her nose. Undoing a button she slipped her pants from her, then her underwear, and stood half naked while unsure of how to get the clothes she needed from the a still-warm corpse.

I did it for her, in a flash having taken off the bloody jeans that, while not much better, were still preferable to piss.

She put on the clothes and thanked me.

“We have been here long enough,” I announced, after the boy– he introduced himself finally as Jeffrey– had turned around. “Now, Jeffrey, where would you going to take Miss Sarah?”

“To my house. My basement.. I made a room for us down there, got contractors for a kitchen and.. thought I’d keep her there, keep her with me.”

“Yes, keep her with you, wishing to save her. Wouldn’t you like that, Sarah? To belong?”

“I would, yeah. It would be nice. That’s why I was leaving anyway, I didn’t belong here..”

“Of course you did! You belong with me!”

She shrunk away from him at the outburst, but after looking at me for confirmation, she gave a shrug. “I could try being with you.”

I moved over to Jeffrey, Sarah holding my hand as we went deeper into the alley and behind the homes.

“You, Sarah, shall be with Jeffrey. And you, Jeffrey–” I turned his head so he looked me in the eyes. “You shall belong to me. You will do as I say, act appropriately for your station, and never tell a soul of anything that has happened or will happen.”

“Yeah, ok.”

I smiled, my fangs peeking out again. We had gone a few blocks, far away enough not to be the first seen, but close enough to hear police sirens. There were none.

“If we may stop a moment before we continue to your abode, Jeffrey,” I said. “I am still quite hungry.”

I pulled Sarah closer and she stepped into my embrace without question. Jeffrey opened his mouth to complain, but I held up a finger and shushed him. “I shall not harm her.”

He swallowed hard but stayed silent.

I ran my hand through Sarah’s hair again. It was short, a bit spiky. She reminded me of a woman I had known in my youth.

Even without asking she tilted her head to the side, forehead resting on my shoulder, exposing her throat. I bent down and bit.

The first mouthful was honey. She made a small squeaking noise at the initial puncture but stayed still and allowed me to drink my fill. I needn’t much and took less than humans asked for in donations to aid others. I pulled away and licked my lips before pulling out a handkerchief so she could press it to her wound.

“Thank you.”

“You are most welcome.”

She smiled up at me and I made a swift decision at her adoring look. I bit my own finger and placed it between her lips. She made the same squeaking noise as before and my heart warmed.

“Hey!” Jeffrey seemed to have finally lost his patience. “Why are you doing that? Won’t that–”

With my free hand I grabbed his collar and lifted him into the air.

“Why yes,” I agreed, looking back to the girl that I was nursing with my blood. “That would make her my daughter. I believe I prefer her to you.”

“You said she’d be mine! You gave your word!”

“I said that she would be with you. I never specified the arrangement.”

I turned to Sarah, who was taking in the world around her as her body changed and became something immortal. It was early, the change would take place over the next few days in great intensity, but already her senses would be sharpening. She would also be hungry.

“You said you’d help. How is this helping?!”

I chose to ignore the accusation as he twisted in my grip. It was no use.

“Sire?” Sarah was looking to me, taking me in, the knowledge of our kind filling her brain and instilling lessons into her flesh like instinct.

“Sebastian,” I corrected. I would not be that strict with my dear daughter. “Though you may call me whatever pleases you. If I object I shall say so.”

“He wanted to take me, to keep me and hurt me. Please don’t let that happen.”

“Of course not, dear. He is your pet, you may punish him as you see fit. Are you hungry?”

At her nod I threw Jeffrey down. She silenced him as he had her, a hand to his mouth, though she crushed his jaw with the grip. I did not correct her.


It’s been a while since I’ve written a Scene and posted it here. I’ve been busy with Delphinium and marketing, but I thought I owed y’all something.

I actually wrote this around Halloween for a reply in reddit’s Writing Prompts subreddit, so it doesn’t really fit the season, though you can imagine snowfall if that helps 😉

I didn’t add a realm to this Scene because it doesn’t really fit that well in the Noctuina we know (I don’t think I’ve ever posted something in first person either). It’s more Urban Fantasy than I’m used to as well. But lately I’ve also been thinking about the timeline of my world and how, while slow, technology does advance in some realms. Maybe it’ll get to a point where it’s more like our time and I can write versions of Urban Fantasy in Noctuina? And how will the people who grew up, who lived, through the medieval eras deal with modern life?

I have two mostly-finished Scenes in my folder that, for some reason, don’t feel right, so they haven’t been posted. I’m sorry about that. I’ll give them a look over and try and find what I have to add in for them to click. I think one needs a change in setting, and the other maybe some more backstory.

So many promos! Now back to me :)

I thought I’d check in and ramble about myself and my work for a little bit to break up the other indie folk.

That said this cross-promotion thing is amazing. All the great writers that I’m showing off are also showing off Larkspur. In October I had 160+ downloads, 101 in November, and in December I have 425 so far, and it’s only the 4th! I’m sure I have a few more promos set up for December too, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping to break 1000.

I have most of the major scenes for Delphinium written and pretty polished, now I’m just trying to tie them all together coherently. Sometimes I explain something in a chapter only to find that I wrote something similar already, so that all has to be fixed and redone. Some of the chapters take place over a day and others might be several weeks and I need to summarize, or expand, and make it flow right. I’m feeling really good about this story though- I have fewer “this sucks, what the hell am I even doing” days than I used to have. The story itself, by the way, takes place over 4 months and almost a week. I am gradually scaling up the time for each book, Aconitella should take place over a year and a half, and a few of the vaguely plotted stories for after the Larkspur series may cover five to ten years. I am working with a lot of time, generations here, so going week by week might not be the best idea in the world.

The Wolf Within has been put aside so I can wrap up Delphinium, but it will be written alongside Aconitella. I want to try dealing with more than one world at once, outside of Scenes. And even with Scenes I tend to fall back into the realm I’m working on at the moment. I’ve not been able to stick to another realm long enough for a good coherent Scene in a while (sorry about that).

I do have a pretty finished opening page to The Wolf Within though, so I’ll go ahead and share that here! 🙂

The pups were coming out of the den. They were less than a moon old and had only opened their eyes a few days past, but the alpha-mother was letting them come to meet the rest of the pack. Their alpha-father stood at the opening of the den, tail wagging his entire body as he made himself wait for his mate and puppies to appear. It was their first litter.
The other two wolves of the pack stood further back, not part of the family and not wishing to intrude, though keeping away from new puppies had proved too difficult to overcome entirely.

Alpha-mother came out first and greeted her mate. An uncertain whining was heard from the den and she yipped, telling her little ones that it was safe. Alpha-father had had enough waiting and stuck his head into the den, sniffing and licking the bundles of fur. He grabbed one by the scruff and pulled him out, setting him down before covering him again in licks.

The other two siblings ran out then and all descended on their father, licking at the corners on his mouth and pressing to him, showing him deference and love.

“Come,” the alpha-mother said to the two sitting off to the side. She nudged one of the puppies, a solid black one, in their direction if her beckoning had not been enough. “You are pack too.”

The elder, a golden wolf with suspiciously blue eyes, looked to the younger white wolf before taking a step forward.

The black puppy moved to him, tail low but swishing, shy and trying not to show her fear. The golden wolf dipped his head and licked her in greeting, and she nuzzled him back.

“Smell different.” The pup sneezed and stood back to look at the other pack members, then back to his mother. “Wolf-not-wolf.”

“Man-wolf,” his father explained. “Pack.”

The golden wolf laid down to be less intimidating and all the pups decided it would be a grand idea to tackle him at once.

Finally the black pup went over to the white wolf and sniffed her curiously. She was different than the golden wolf still, and reminded her of her parents in how she sat.

“Alpha-not-wolf?” she asked.

Her father walked over and bent his head, exposing his neck. “Man-wolf queen. She is the alpha of all the alphas. Wolf and man-wolf.”

The queen nudged alpha-father to stand and snorted in annoyance. “I am still young, and a guest of your father’s. I am not here as his alpha.”

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas season! ❤

Rebel Vampires Series – Rosemary A Johns

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Buy it on Amazon

LAST DAY of 0.99c sale!

Escape into a supernatural world of love, revenge and redemption, where vampires are both predator and prey.

“No ordinary paranormal romance…the beginning of something new.” – Vamped Magazine

There are three people in this affair…and two of them aren’t human. In a divided paranormal London, Light is the rebel bad boy vampire of the Blood Lifer world, with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows with Ruby – a savage Elizabethan. She burns with destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping a secret from her, which breaks every rule in Blood Life.

“At heart, this is a love story…very poetic and it tackles big questions about life and death…”- British Fantasy Society

1960s London. Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.

When Light discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared. Now he’s trapped in a race against time to save them all. The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.
A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.

“One of the most unique & ingenious vampire books I have EVER read …reminded me very much of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles…Pure genius.” Leather and Lace Reviews.

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LAST DAY of 0.99c sale!

When your whole species is enslaved – and it’s the humans who are acting like the monsters – how far would you go to free your family?

5* “This novel was gut twistingly intense…the suspense will drive you wild.”– SLH Reviews

In a divided paranormal London, Light is the bad boy vampire of the Blood Lifer world. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. But not now. When he’s bought by his Mistress, Light fights to escape. If he doesn’t, he’ll never solve the conspiracy behind the Blood Club.

5* “Light is back and he’s his usual charming, funny, wry, ballsy self… A story about the triumph of hope and love over evil.” – Margarita Morris, The Good Author

WELCOME TO THE BLOOD CLUB
Who are these ruthless humans? And who betrayed the secret of the Blood Lifer world?

WHERE THE PREDATORS
London, Primrose Hill. Grayse is the slaver’s daughter. She buys Light, like he’s a pair of designer shoes. So why does Light feel so drawn to her? Especially when his family is still in chains. Will he risk everything – even his new love – to save them?

BECOME THE PREY
A stunning revelation leads Light to an inconceivable truth. If he can face his worst terrors, he can save his family and his whole species from slavery.

Maybe he can even save himself.

5* “…you can’t put the book down…” – Rockchickcu Addiction Reviews


ROSEMARY A JOHNS is the author of the bestselling Blood Dragons and Blood Shackles – the compelling Rebel Vampires series. Read them today at the sale price of 0.99c!
Sale ends on the 30th of November.

Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as “uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life”), and worked with disability charities.

When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires.

Rosemary is a Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15571684.Rosemary_A_Johns

To sign up to Rosemary A Johns’ VIP Email Newsletter with news of hot releases, promotions and the free short story “All the Tin Soldiers”, click here: http://eepurl.com/bQ0kMX

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@RosemaryAJohns

Wolves

It should not be this hard to find decent public domain pictures/paintings of wolves.

I’m working on a new project, a secondary book that I won’t really start until after Delphinium is done, but will let me take my mind into another place when I need it. I know I tried the ‘other project’ thing before with Incubo, and while that’s still on the table it fell through as my next-in-line book (it worked better as a stand alone that comes after a series, rather than the start to a new series).

Anyway, I had time to think and plot last night and went quite deep into the land of Astrarctia, where ‘Wolf Girl’ takes place. While the name has changed over the years it was my first mediaeval world that wasn’t totally a rip-off (just mostly). Inisaira was one of my first characters ever. If Clandestina is how I learned to write well (with lots of roleplaying online, Pierre was a role-play character I had intended not to have as a book-character way back when), this world is how I learned to worldbuild and write in the first place.

I’m quite glad I can consider it back on the table and with a ‘next’ marker placed on it. Already working out the timeline and the vague ideas for book 1.

I think I will also make another section here on the blog sorting out my intended projects, naming the ones I have named, and giving short summaries about what is what.

Eglė (Clandestina)

I’d like to mention before you read on that this is a graphic piece involving gore and death.

——-

Ophion stopped to set up camp. After tending his horse and starting a small fire amid a circle of stones he walked around the clearing to stretch his legs. He had been riding for three days with little sleep and both he and his horse were exhausted. Today would be an early night and tomorrow likely a late morning, but they needed to rest. It would do no good to his patients if he could not take care of them.

Mora, The Lady of Death, had been visiting him ever since this plague began. She spoke to him of power he could gain, power she would give, to turn the tide against the illness that ravished the land now for months. The spirits were angry, she told him, restless and in need of discipline. There was only so much she on her own could do, but if he helped her…
A hiss broke through his thoughts. Looking down he saw a small garden snake amid the dead branches. It was late winter, almost spring, but perhaps he had woken the animal from its rest, or it wanted to move closer to his fire. He stepped aside to let the serpent pass, but it only stared at him.

He could kill the snake.

Not that he had anything against it, he was fond of snakes in fact. But to begin practicing necrocræft one chose, killed, and resurrected a creature to become their Familiar. Mora had told him before he left the last town that he was ready if he desired.

The last few weeks have been difficult. He had lost more patients than he saved, and it was no guarantee the stable patients would stay that way after he left to yet another town, another tragedy. It was a dark magic, this necrocræft, one punishable by death in the kingdom of Triumphe. But there was already so much death here. If there was any way to prevent some of it, even if at the end it cost him his own life, would he not do it?

Mind made up he went to rummage through his bags. No point in delaying this. He would sleep after, letting himself rest after the journey and the magic he was about to try and perform.

He wanted to kill the animal with as little suffering as possible. He had medical tools in his bag, but they were either small knives or a large saw, and trying to cut the head off a serpent with something used to cut through bone was overly harsh. Finally he settled on a cooking knife. He would have preferred something a bit larger, but it was the closest thing he could find that would do minimal damage.

The snake had only moved a few inches during this time, crawling over towards the fire. It did not seem to mind him, and did not even turn its head when he knelt down on the cold ground beside it. His horse, several feet away, was not paying him any attention, probably already sleeping while standing.

Ophion took a deep breath. It was just a small garden snake, barely as long as his arm. It could bite him and slither away if he was not careful, maybe spook his horse if she woke, but it was not much of a threat. He put his left hand before the snake’s head and waited. Still no alarm from the creature. He moved his hand closer, then touched the top of the head. Its tail flicked but nothing more.

He raised the knife and placed it close to where his thumb rested over the snake, just above touching the neck. At least at this angle he was not looking the animal in the eye, and maybe the snake did not see the blade. Would it matter? Did snakes have any concept of knives or how they could kill?

Another deep breath. He pulled his hand back and then slowly let it descend so that it would be in the same place. He did this two more times, making sure his aim lined up. The forth time he chopped through the animal.

Blood. The tail seemed to jump away, twisting and writhing while what seemed like a never-ending stream of blood poured from it. The head just sat there under his hand. He backed away, falling into a sitting position in the grass. The blood quickly flowed up to him and began to stain his clothes. He was used to blood, especially during this plague, but this was too much. This was the amount you would find in a person, though perhaps someone young..

The body of the snake stopped moving only to begin growing. Scales became skin, the tail split in two. The head changed as well, growing larger and with hair so soaked in crimson that you could not tell what color it was supposed to be.

A child. The snake that he had beheaded had transformed into a young girl right before his eyes. She lay in a pool of her own blood, eyes open and staring straight at him.

“Oh, God.”

Mora appeared, already kneeling in the blood. The Lady of Death looked kindly to the child and took off a large shawl to cover her body.

“Ah, dear Ophion,” The Lady said softly. She took the head onto her lap, stroking back the girl’s hair. She made no move to close her eyes.

“I killed a child,” he whispered. Shock had frozen him to his spot and he watched the display like it was a performance. If he allowed himself to grasp the reality he would go mad.

“A fay child,” Mora corrected. “Living in these lands outside of Triumphe, but still within Clandestina. There is wild magic in the air here. She is not fée, but perhaps her parents are.”

“What do I do?”

At this the Lady looked up at him, puzzled. “You bring her back, of course.”

The Lady placed down the girl’s head and moved her body so she cradled the child. Her dark clothes were stained even darker, and the blood shone on her pale skin. Taking the severed head she placed it back on to the neck. With a finger she drew a circle around the girl’s throat, where the severing had taken place, drawing in the blood.

Once she pulled her hand away there was still a corpse, but at least it was in one piece.

“Here,” she said, laying out the child.

Though it was said as a suggestion he obeyed as if it were a command. He crawled through the blood and looked over the girl. The shawl covered her from collar down. She was ten, eleven years old at most. It was hardly the first time he had seen a dead body, but never had he caused it. Even losing a patient after doing all he could was nothing to compare to this.

But he hadn’t known. It was a snake, just a snake. Some other realms had shifters of form, but not this one!

Wild magic, Mora had said. Untamed spirits that probably leaked from Faery into these lands.

“How?” he asked, as if he could harm her further. She was dead, what else could he do to her? But he did not want to hurt her any more. God, oh, God, why had he done this.

“Take your own blood,” Mora said. “Have her consume it.”

“But, but you said I needed an animal, My Lady. This is a child!”

“So you will leave her like this?”

He turned around to pick up the knife he had used to kill the child. The child. He did not even know her name. He did not even know her hair color, so stained was her body. He needed to wash the blood out of her hair. He needed to clean her up, give her some clothes. He needed to return her to life and never again do anything this sinful.

The kitchen knife was covered in blood, none of it his own. He found a clean patch on his attire and tried to wipe it away.

His own blood. Blood for blood. If he slit his own throat would that be enough? What did he have to give to bring this child back from the dead when he had been the one to put her there?

“A severe injury,” Mora said in reply. Had he spoken aloud or was the Lady more knowing than he thought. “One that may, without proper care, risk your life.”

He raised the blade to his throat, but changed his mind and lowered it again. If he did not live long enough to even try the cræft it would be useless. Instead he moved the knife to his wrist. He was not a surgeon, but he understood the body. If he cut deep enough this might kill him, but it would take some time.

He cut again. More blood. He put his wrist above the girl and blood dripped around and into her lips.

Before he could ask what next he felt her. It was like his body housed a second soul, filling his chest and making him light and dizzy. A heartbeat that should not exist began to thump in his ears. He reached out, with both his mind and his hand, and through the planes of existence found the girl’s soul in the land of the dead. She waited for him, smiling, and so very curious about the magic he was doing. Without hesitation she placed her hand in his and suddenly reality was around them again.

The soft thump of her heartbeat still filled his body as his own began to slow. He was still bleeding from the wrist, adding even more red to this clearing that looked as if a massacre had taken place. Before he lost consciousness he saw the girl open her eyes and smile.

—————–

I had not expected such a long and graphic scene when I began this. I knew Ophion had killed Eglė as a snake, thinking she was just an animal, and she turned into a girl after her death. He then, as you may know from Larkspur, adopts her as his daughter. This incident is mentioned off-hand in Delphinium, and I plan to expand of this even further in a novella called Famula. It is during the time of a great plague and in his desperation he begins to study necrocræft. Unlike Pierre, who is fascinated with death, Ophion is trying to do for good reasons. But dark magic is not to be played with.

 

I was a weird child

I’ve been making up stories since I was a little kid. Between not having too many friends and reading a lot, it just seemed natural to create adventures. To show you how odd of a little girl I was, the first story I remember definitely fleshing out involved werewolves, vampires, and an organization that hunted them down. I was in 5th grade.. Yeah. Also this happened at a school, so there were student hunters who actively looked for and killed other students. The teachers, oddly, remained neutral and tried to keep the violence from happening, but couldn’t stop it if it was taking place.

The main character was the head hunter for her grade. She got caught coming back from a meeting and was attacked by a werewolf and vampire, becoming a mixture of both. Now a part of the school’s supernatural community, she has to deal with her old friends trying to kill her and no longer seeing her as worth anything. Little mary-sue-y with the were-vamp, but hey, I was 12.

I may need to come back to that plot though..

Anyway. I tried for a while to say my stories weren’t actually dark (to sound a little more like a normal person).. but everyone who knew me also knew I loved Grimm and Poe. I wasn’t fooling anyone.

I’ve been writing down things for about twelve years now. I was 13 when I wrote a ghost story romance about a mute girl who was being warned by a ghost about a murderer stalking her. In the end she died, and was reunited with her ghost. Yay? I stole the ending from another short story I read in a book earlier that week, but the rest of my idea was original.

I don’t see who I was trying to convince I wasn’t dark, looking back I clearly failed. Maybe it was me?