So much politics, so little time

I’m working on the structure of Triumphe’s political system (what did you think I meant real life politics?). There is a lot  going on in Delphinium, and a lot more planned for the future, so I want to have things set up in a way that makes sense.

So far I have the one kingdom, Triumphe, that does not cover the entire realm of Clandestina, but a good 3/4ths of it. The remaining unclaimed land is just that- unclaimed, with far more fée influence and magic than the mostly human kingdom. Said kingdom has 4 duchies, named after the French card suits (Piques, Trèfles, Carreaux, Cœurs). Each of those duchies has several of their own counties, from two to four. There’s also the Margrave’s territory, which is less a piece of land and more the border between their plane and Faery.

I have a great new mapping software that is helping me figure it all out (Other World Mapper). Once I get it all done I’ll show it off, here and on the wiki (which I am still working on).

I’ve managed to upload Larkspur to Pronoun with an epub file as well, the docx isn’t really working, but they’re looking into fixing it. So far it’s back on Amazon and going through for the other stores. You can check out Larkspur’s awesome new book-page too.

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.’

Indie Author Promo Time!

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In the DarkWorld the things that go bump in the night are most likely true. And the problem is they are probably not sticking to bumping around in the night. They are everywhere. Your work colleagues, your teachers, even your friends. They’ve been living that way for a long time. And you haven’t noticed because they don’t want you to.

You’re much better off not asking any questions.

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When a business tycoon hires Mel Morgan to find his missing daughter, the SoulTracker is thrown headlong into twists and turns of unexpected deaths and unusual killers. But to find the girl in time to save her, Mel she has to first understand the killer. Demonic or human killers? Mel can’t decide which will be worse.

Things get a little complicated when she has to help find both a Panther Alpha’s mother, and a reluctant Djinn Queen. Add to the mix an evil spirit plus her mentor Samuel sending her terrifying messages in the Ether. Save him, or else.

It’s just all in a days work for a SoulTracker.

Young King (Lanceophor)

She sat on her throne, alone in the chamber that was her power, and might well soon be her grave. The revolution had invaded and was now in her royal city. Her husband had been slain two days past and with His Majesty’s demise there came a weakening of the already weary troops. With her death the usurping would be complete.

She had sent away her ladies-in-waiting, not wishing their blood on her hands. Perhaps they would be able to flee, or would be spared. And so there was no one to comfort her as she let her tears flow. Who would dare call it weakness at this time even if there were witnesses?

They were trying to break into the room. A large bang hit against the great barred doors and made everything shake. She swallowed, took a deep breath, and smoothed her skirts. Her hands shook. As calm as she tried to appear, she was still the queen, it was all false. Her heart hammered in her chest and if she did not focus on breathing she would pass out.

She was going to die. She and—

The doors burst open. A swarm of bloody soldiers filled the room and she saw the bodies of her guards on the floor behind them. They seemed to expect more here and for a moment looked around before all turned to her. She raised her chin and stayed seated on her throne, her pearls catching the light, and crown high on her brow. The man in command began to walk to her, not sheathing his weapon. Finally she could not stand it and cast her eyes down to her lap—she knew his face, he had been one of her guards years ago before civil unrest turned into civil war.

“Stop!”

At the voice all in the room obeyed. The queen looked up to see a boy standing in the broken doorway, his hand was outstretched and commanding the men, even the captain. He was young, fourteen if a day, the queen thought, and yet there was blood on his clothes. Had he held a dying friend, or caused a spraying wound in another?

“Father has fallen,” he announced, and with that the queen knew who he was. The young lord, son of the rebelling nobleman, she had thought him too young to have come with his father and their men to this last stand.

In reply the men turned and bowed to him, many falling to bent knee including the captain. The boy seemed surprised but quickly shook himself of the feeling, nodding and drawing himself up to full height.

“You will end this immediately. Any more death after this moment will be considered murder. We have won. Go spread the word. Now.” Weapons were sheathed, or dropped, and the group of men that would have killed her left without giving her another glance.

He saw her then. His eyes widened again in surprise, but he tried to school his emotions after a moment. The time he would have spent being taught decorum was instead dominated by harsh war.

He walked through the room to her, stopping before her throne and bowing to her from the waist. “My Lady Kore.”

“Lord Aidoneus,” she replied.

He straightened, wincing, and for the first time she wondered if the blood on his clothes was his own.

“For the sake of our kingdom,” the boy said, “my father began this war against the king. We have slain kith and kin. But now he and His Majesty are both beyond this world. We no longer need shed blood or sow hate. I will be crowned in the upcoming weeks. To ease this transactions and help our people would you do- do me the honour of being my wife?”

She blinked at the boy. She was twice his age. In another life he could have been her son.

“Of-of course,” he continued, stammering but not pausing, “you will need time to grieve—” And you time to grow, she thought, “—nothing shall be forced upon you.”

“I accept.”

She finally stood and stepped down from the dais. The relief was apparent on his face and even a small smile touched his lips. He made to speak, but instead swayed dangerously, and more of his clothes began to stain as blood continued to seep from an unseen wound. She rushed to catch him.


I know very little about this story, but this scene has been in my head for quite a while and I finally got to writing it down. I’m sure there will be some changes in the story proper once I let myself work things out in detail.

I wanted to play with age and gender and expectations here- the older woman and young boy, yet he is the one who is more mature and hardened while she has had a relatively easy life as queen. The age gap is extreme, inappropriate even, save for the historical/fantasy setting.

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! ❤

The Sword of Light Trilogy – Aaron Hodges

For five hundred years the Gods have united the Three Nations in harmony.
Now that balance has been shattered, and chaos threatens.

A town burns and flames light the night sky. Hunted and alone, seventeen year old Eric flees through the wreckage. The mob grows closer, baying for the blood of their tormentor. Guilt weighs on his soul, but he cannot stop, cannot turn back.
If he stops, they die.

For two years he has carried this curse, bringing death and destruction wherever he goes. But now there is another searching for him – one who offers salvation. His name is Alastair and he knows the true nature of the curse.
Magic.

Aaron Hodges’ Sword of Light Trilogy just finished with the release of the last book! Book 1, Stormwielder, is 99¢, while book two, Firestorm, is $2.99. For a limited time the last book, Soul Blade, is also at 99¢ for its new release! Pick these up, especially the last one, while you can 🙂

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Join his Reading Group and be the first to receive updates on my new releases, giveaways, and special contests! http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup/