Seventh Star Press 99c Cyber Monday Sale

Seventh Star Press will be having a great Cyber Monday Sale that will coincide with a big contest, Feel the Fire III.

The sale will feature titles by all Seventh Star Press authors at 99 cents on Kindle, as well as all anthologies.  The sale will be for one day only, Cyber Monday, December 1, 2014.

Click here to read more.

The sale will feature 3 anthologies with my stories in:

Tales of the unseelie courtA Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

the end was not the end - coverThe End Was Not the End: http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Was-Not-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B00C3ZWA58

perfect-flaw-cover-webversionPerfect Flaw: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Flaw-Robin-Blankenship-ebook/dp/B00BWTKXZK

Advertisements

Stealing from the Dead (Part 2)

The second half of the mini-story I posted the other day.


Leo had picked his first fight with the Neuenheim city guard at the ripe old age of fourteen. The day the boy had partaken in his first brawl had been the same day he learned to stand his ground, to fight for his beliefs, and most importantly, to flee shamelessly and duck into the nearest sewer when the situation demanded. It was one of the reasons he had lived so long.

In those days he had taken on the best of the city’s overpaid and pot-bellied guard with whatever came to hand: planks of wood, sacks of vegetables, and on one unforgettable occasion, an unfortunate pub-goer’s wooden leg. These days, he went out rather better prepared. He had – by means best not discussed in this telling of the story – procured himself a lightweight falchion, etched with ancient runes that a drunken elf had once told him meant ‘I am my own worst enemy’. Leo liked to think it was just the mead talking. For his off-hand, he preferred an oversized cleaver to the more traditional and safer shield – it was truncated, but trusty, as he was wont to say to anyone who would listen.

So, as he landed amongst the rotting dead with their stiff-legged gait and terrible dress-sense, Leo had already drawn both weapons, with the third stashed safely between his teeth for emergencies. He had once been in a fight with a barb-tailed scrub beast, and the act of bending down to pull out his boot-knife had led to a month of sitting on soft cushions and avoiding spicy food. Leo rarely made the same mistake twice.

Unfortunately, the animated corpses who faced him now were unlikely to use similar tactics; in fact, Leo doubted that they were able to form a cogent group, never mind attack from behind when his guard was down. They all seemed to be functioning individually, rather than working together to overcome their lone enemy. However, since this meant that they all attacked at once, it didn’t make a lot of difference – except that they were all obviously keen to get at this delicious morsel for themselves.

Aiming a few head-height slashes at the nearest, Leo noticed that although not about to win any prizes for intelligence, their survival instinct was above reproach, and the sluggish pace they normally assumed was replaced by frightening speed when threatened with dismemberment.

Leo retreated to a boulder and shortly hit upon a dangerous tactic. He sheathed both his weapons, and keeping only his dagger in one white-knuckled hand, dropped to the ground close to the smallest gathering of zombies. Instantly, the foremost closed with him, reaching its tattered arms towards him as though begging for a hug. Leo let it touch him, and immediately cried out.

“Oh no, it’s got me. Argh. Oh no. It’s eating me alive.”

He glanced about to see if his acting was paying off. It was apparently not yet time for him to give up his day-job in thievery. He let out an impatient breath and added in a very clear and obvious tone, “It’s going to eat me all up and there’ll be none left for anyone else.”

Some of the closer corpses tilted their heads as though trying to understand his words.

“It’s such a greedy zombie,” he added pointedly. “It’s going to have me all to itself!”

The creature’s lipless jaws were inching nearer to his throat, and a light sheen of sweat broke out on his brow. He had had a few close calls over the years, the more memorable of which generally involved irate fathers with pitchforks or cavalry swords, or curmudgeonly misers in nightcaps who had squandered at least part of their fortunes on demonic treasure-guards. The horde shuffled closer, their combined stench filling his nostrils and lungs with dust and decay. Leo wondered whether this might be a good time to panic, and tried to remember if the gods owed him any favours.

If anything, it was the other way around.

Just as he was about to give up on this tactic and sink his dagger into his assailant’s one remaining non-desiccated eye, the creature was yanked away from him with such force that its fingers, along with its wrist and a good portion of its forearm, came detached from the rest of it with a dry ‘pop’.

Leo held his breath as the heavier-boned zombie who had intervened leaned towards its friend and yelled an inarticulate and rather lacklustre reprimand into his face. He then proceeded to wrench the hand from where it still gripped Leo’s jerkin and slap its owner about the head with it. Leo’s eyes widened and a snigger sneaked out unbidden. At that, the walking corpses remembered him. Leo swallowed audibly. The distraction had earned him but a little space and a smaller amount of time. While his rotten enemies were collecting their scattered wits (and limbs), he turned tail and sprinted for the entryway, marked by a patch of amber light that was reddening as the sun rose above.

He had entered the cavern quite easily, once he had found the right lichen-covered rock in a certain flowerbed in a certain garden, and it had been a matter of little effort to drop the twelve or so feet to the sandy floor below. But Leo had been in such a rush to bathe in the glow of the fabled hoard beneath that he had not considered how he would escape.

“Sometimes violence is the answer,” muttered the youth, and with that, he swung around with a wild grin and set to work.

Presently, the mound of bodies was high enough for him to stand on and reach the first foothold below the hole. From there he scrambled upwards, skinning his knees in a way that he had not done since he first played pickpocket with the clergy at the age of seven; tearing the silk shirt that had been a gift from a girl in a nearby port, who was even now convinced that he was dying of a rare nail disorder; and dislodging his cleaver, which fell and embedded itself in the skull of one last would-be diner – trusty to the last.

However, his plan was working against him, for where he climbed, the dead could follow with little trouble, and as he clawed his way out from the grassy hole into the fresh dawn air, one of his pursuers grabbed at an ankle. If anyone could have seen him, dusty, grimy, splattered with liquids of varying putrid shades, torn of shirt, mussed of hair, they would have wondered what he was doing in this part of the Mayor’s flower garden at six in the morning.

Leo’s eyes widened and he stuck his tongue out in concentration as he aimed blind kicks at the corpses that were trying to crawl up his legs.

“I – am not – your dinner!” he yelled, punctuating his declaration with several desperate kicks.

Eventually, the young man struggled free and flopped his way out of the hole onto the verdant sward like a beached whale running ashore. He drew his falchion awkwardly from his position on the floor, ready lest the zombies make another appearance, but it seemed the sun deterred them, and he resealed the hole thankfully.

Lying back on the posy-speckled lawn, he laughed aloud in relief and tugged out the item for which he had almost paid too high a price. He grinned as the sunlight glinted from its flawless surfaces and refracted in the facets of the rubies.

Abruptly, his face fell.

“No-one’s ever going to believe this,” he complained aloud, his eyes creasing shrewdly even as he did so. “Until I add some embellishments, that is!” He tossed the chalice into the air and watched it turn and glint in the sunlight before catching it deftly and secreting it in about his person. He stood, brushed the dust fastidiously from his clothes and smoothed his hair into a more desperado style.

Licking his finger, he raised it to the wind, glanced at the sun to get his bearings and set off for his camp with a spring in his step and a jaunty tune on his lips.

Stealing from the Dead (Part 1)

Just a little something I wrote and thought I’d share.


It was said of Archibald Leopold Thudd that he had sold his soul to the devil at a very early age, and that the devil had given it back because he felt he had got the poor end of the bargain. Most people liked to think that Hell was just not ready for a boy like Thudd. For wherever there was trouble, you could guarantee that Thudd was, if not involved, then the instigator of the fracas.

Local bookmakers took to running a pool on him for a while, taking bets (and making a fair bit of money on the side) on when he would pick a fight with the wrong bull-necked barbarian, or seduce the wrong mob-connected merchant’s daughter. The fact was that the boy had little or no respect for pain, was almost entirely lacking in fear, and had been on the wrong side of the door entirely when scruples were handed out.

All this changed when the brash youth reached maturity. All the inadequacies and shortcomings became strengths and virtues, transforming the young thug into a wily rogue with a silver tongue and a knack for ‘finding’ money other people had lost. He even gave it back, sometimes, proving once and for all that he had reversed his fortunes and grown beyond his foolish beginnings.

He went by many names in his travels. In sunny climes, he was known as ‘Leo’; when consorting with outlaw friends, he used ‘Thudd’ (which was apt for the noise his enemies made when they hit the ground); to the ladies, he was ‘Archie’, named for the bow-wielding love sprite whose influence upon the reformed Thudd was plain for all to see.

By the time he reached eighteen, it was clear that the youth had a roving foot. Once he had exhausted the local opportunities for adventure – and fallen foul of every constabulary across the four island nations of his home – he took to the sea. Over the years that followed, he made quite a name for himself amongst both the pirate brotherhoods and the merchant guilds of the known world – a name which should not be repeated in polite company. But whatever name he went by, even if his heart was a little too easily seduced by gold’s glitter or a maiden’s thigh, his deeds were well-meant, and for this, he was assured of a warm fire and a cold ale wherever he went.

It was on one of his many forays to the temperate equatorial lands that our tale begins. Leo (for that is the name he was using this week) was wedged into a narrow crack in an almost vertical rock face, his knees tucked under his chin and his left buttock peeking precariously over the edge. In one hand he idly twirled a rather fine and expensive-looking goblet, which glittered in the dim light from a fallen torch below.

“Zarobian gold, I’d say,” he commented to no-one in particular. He tested the lip of the cup between his teeth then nodded knowledgeably.

“Ruby encrusted solid gold, fashioned in the characteristic style of the late Posh Dynasty. Probably used for the consumption of wine, mead and other alcoholic beverages. Current value–”

His left buttock shifted, and a small cascade of pebbles and dust skittered down the wall. Fifteen feet below the niche where his frantic climb had deposited him not five minutes ago, the hungry moans increased in ferocity. Leo peered over the edge at the animated corpses queuing up for a tantalising and out-of-reach meal, and gave a wry smile.

“Not a bloody lot.”

He affected a feminine accent and gave it a sarcastic twang.

“‘It’ll be a doddle,’ she says, ‘in and out before anyone’s the wiser’, she says, ‘easy pickings’, she says.” He puffed out air from between dust-grimed lips.

“If I ever get out of here, I’m going to show her just what ‘easy’ means. Ignorant pig-tailed hippo of a wom…”

His left foot slipped against the edge of the minute nook into which he had wedged himself, and for an infinite second he teetered on one buttock with his hands flailing wildly for better purchase. It was a testament to his love of gold that the goblet remained firmly in his grasp while he fought with gravity for supremacy. When he had triumphed, and restored his balance – much to the annoyance of the walking dead below – he carefully tucked the goblet into the left side of his jerkin, where the finely moulded edges dug uncomfortably into his ribs.

“Why couldn’t it have been a ruby-encrusted hip flask?”

With a shake of his wild-maned head, he inched his dagger from its cramped home in his boot-sheath with his little finger, and managed by some feat of contortionism to manoeuvre it so he could grip it lengthways between his teeth.

“Wew, I can’t shstay here aww day. I’ge got a goglet to shell and a ngerchant to exshtort.”

With these erudite words alone to serve as his epitaph, Leo rolled sideways from the safety of the tiny cranny and plummeted gracefully towards the waiting horde.

Dragonbride by Raani York

Dragonbride_cover_smaller

Today I’m pleased to be able to share news about the release of Dragonbride, a fantasy novel by author Rani York.

Synopsis:

Shalima, “Daughter of the Light”, was born under special circumstances. She was raised by her aunts instead of her mother because she needed to be prepared to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Scriptures, which told that she was the only Magician on Earth.

Her aunts carefully prepared her for her obligations and her sacred duty. She will have to get married to the Holy Golden Dragon, the King of the Dragons, a huge Earth Dragon with magical talents. She cannot believe that she is the “Chosen One”, who has to protect the Dragon Species, all of Nature and finally the Earth. But when she turned into a teenager it seemed that the Old Scriptures were right.

Not only does she have to fulfill her duty by getting married to the Dragon – she will also have to go on a deadly mission to save the world from an unspeakable evil. A mission there is very little hope her party will ever return from.

Here’s an except from the book to whet your appetites:

The mountains possessed a dark but seductive beauty, and they lay in wait for the ones who came through the Fire Hell. The powdered white peaks of the sparkling black mountain-world watched for them with longing.

The Diamond Mountains gave the illusion of being much closer than they really were, and many a pilgrim had been lured to his death by the promise of riches hidden on their slopes. These mountains were so named because of the rough gems strewn about the black volcanic soil. When the sun shone overhead the gems made the mountains sparkle and shimmer brightly, and at night they made the moonlit mountains glow with a soft silver light.

People, blinded by both their greed and the tantalizing glittering of the sunlit earth, imagined that there was immeasurable wealth lying there on the ground, just waiting to be picked. However, the mountains never betrayed the secrets they held. None who had ever walked those slopes could find the diamonds hidden within the black soil, for the mountains protected themselves.

Although healthy forest still grew in the foothills, the undergrowth became sparser just a few hundred feet up, and then the treeline ended. Where stunted trees would normally grow the forest just stopped, as if some unseen hand had cut it short. All that remained were dangerously sharp, dry rocks. Just below the snowline, the rocks disappeared, and the glittering black soil took their place.

Moreover, at the summit it seemed as if the Creator of All Things had dusted the peaks of the fissured mountain range with powdered sugar, for they were covered with a deceptively soft-looking, yet extremely sharp-edged eternal snow.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…

And if a wanderer were to climb those peaks, going up to the Fire Hell and searching to quench his thirst at a splashing mountain spring, he would find no cool, refreshing water. Instead, these living mountains would seek to frighten him by shrouding the ground with a mysterious fog that made it impossible to see where he was putting his feet. Pilgrims sometimes drowned in the sulfurous pools of water hidden within the hellish rocks when the fog appeared, and if they left the main trails, they would know true fear, for they would be led down treacherous sidepaths that seemed to take them somewhere, yet actually led them nowhere but to their doom.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…

Though many thought they would find the cool relief of the shadows by early evening, the ascent would continue for another three torturous days. During those three days, their throats would scream for water, and their eyes would tear up in the swirling sand. Blown up by the hot desert winds, the sand burned as it fell upon a traveler’s face and skin. Eventually their limbs would become heavy, and they would barely be able to move; thus, the wanderers would be forced to crawl on, farther and farther, until sheer luck eventually brought them to civilization… to people.

In a canyon between two hills below the mountain range there was a village. It had no official name, but the people living there called it Alpcateçu, which meant Oasis of the Mountains. Anyone who wanted to climb the mountains had to pass through the village. A few taverns and inns surrounded the village fountain, where a market was sometimes held.

Some houses and huts had been built in the wide hills and even at the edge of the forest… and in one such place, hidden within the woods, almost four hundred feet past the deepest thicket and connected to the village only by a sidepath lay the place in which I had been born.

Buyer’s links:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragonbride-raani-york/1120408609?ean=2940046196030

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/Dragonbride

CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4861497

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dragonbride/id923113409?mt=11

Amazon.com: Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Dragonbride-The-Dragon-Chronicles-Volume/dp/1500232106/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412454206&sr=8-2&keywords=Dragonbride

Amazon.com: Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/Dragonbride-Dragon-Chronicles-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00O6COSRE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412454206&sr=8-1&keywords=Dragonbride

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/479647

Blio: https://www.blio.com/blio/actions/searchHandler.do?userType=MLB&tabID=BOOKS&itemNum=ITEM%3a1&key=0015761529&nextPage=booksDetails&parentNum=12848

Oyster Bookshttps://www.oysterbooks.com/book/FyRea3UNcipM7cfVKaxLhk/dragonbride#

About Rani:

F_3784

Raani York has been a high volume writer for years. She has published articles, letters, short stories, poems, continuation stories and descriptions of all kind. She also writes novels, some of which can found on her website http://www.raaniyork.com/ .

Raani has been educated in Switzerland and in the U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She also obtained diplomas in Graphic Design, Color Studies and won a prize as a Logo Designer. She speaks four languages and several dialects.

Raani York works and lives in Switzerland and the U.S. and travels often.

Next to her writing and her cats, Raani likes reading, blogging, Martial Arts, skiing, horseback riding, sky diving and enjoys playing the classical piano.