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|Posted on February 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
I thought that it's been a little past due for another excerpt/sneak peak of Basilisk, the third book of my epic Histories of Purga novels. The world is on the brink of destruction for the people of Purga but they continue to fight Blak and the evil he keeps spreading. The only hope for survival now is for Rone and Keiara to rescue the third Sentinel. Only then can their prophecy be realized.
Stay tuned for more excerpts. And keep checking back for more info on my books, the Hybrid Earth Universe, and all my other projects!
“Niku is my brother!” Rone yelled, horrified. He stared at the woman in front of him. He was angry but at the same time he felt happy. The two emotions waged a war inside him.
The woman’s eyes were cast down. Her fair blonde hair wafted in a small breeze. She shifted a bit uncomfortably as she rubbed her hand over a rough, hexagonal-shaped scar about midway up her forearm.
The woman was someone Rone had thought dead for over fourteen years.
She was also his mother.
“First, I find out you’re not dead. Then I find out that you abandoned me to go run off with a Terraqouis you fell in love with and now you tell me that Niku is my half-brother.” He was so mad, he couldn’t think straight. Above all else, he felt betrayed. He felt hurt.
She’d left him and she hadn’t thought twice about it.
“How could you do that to me?” he asked her.
“Rone, maybe you should stop,” Keiara said. She could see the anger etched on his face and was afraid he might do something stupid.
“I never planned on any of that happening,” the woman said.
Keiara knew her well. She had been very close with Niku, after all, before Rone had come into the picture. Her name was Gwen. She’d always seemed a bit odd, but basically harmless. The shocking revelation on her true origin however, left Keiara speechless.
Rone ignored Keiara’s warning. Instead, he took hold of his mother’s arm and dragged her after him. He rushed her through the camp and she let him. Soon after, they came to an empty tent and Rone ushered her inside.
Keiara followed them in.
“I don’t think you understand,” he said immediately. “I thought you were dead! I cried for you. I longed for you. I went to your grave almost every day over the years. Why would you do that to me?”
“I didn’t want to,” she said again. “It was never the plan. I wanted to take you with me.”
“Don’t give me that,” Rone spat.
Gwen flinched and tears sprang up in her eyes.
“I planned on taking you the night I left!” she yelled. “I was going to sneak into your room to get you but your father was there, watching you sleep. I knew that if I tried to take you, he would stop me. I couldn’t…I couldn’t risk it. I had to leave.”
“Why?” Rone asked. “Why was it so important that you leave?”
“Because I loved Cyrus!” she yelled. “I never wanted to marry the King! It was just a way for my family to gain more power. A marriage of convenience. I did the best I could for you. But then I met Niku’s father and everything changed. They’d captured him and tortured him for information. At first, I was wary of him. I’d seen him a handful of times and he always looked like a cornered animal. Ferocious and dangerous.”
Rone glared at her. The hurt of hearing his mother’s confession was almost unbearable.
“Then, one night, I started talking to him. I was curious. Maybe young and foolish too. To my surprise, he actually talked back. He was gentle and nice. He treated me like a real person and not an object to show off at Upper Tier functions. I came back to see him almost every night for three months. Then, one day, I came there and he was lying across the floor, bloody and beaten. I found out later that your father had questioned Cyrus. It was at that moment I knew I couldn’t be with him anymore. I’ve grown up hearing so many stories about the Terraqouis. About how they were savages. That day, I realized who
the real savages were and I wanted no part of it. I made a plan to escape. I was going to free Cyrus, take you, and we were going to run.”
“So when you couldn’t get me, you chose to leave me behind instead?” he asked, outraged.
“I know what I did to you is unforgiveable and I can never tell you enough how sorry I am, but I couldn’t live there anymore. You of all people should understand that,” she said, looking at her son earnestly. “I was in Vitari when you were recovering. I know what you and Keiara were trying to do before all this chaos happened. You were trying to bring peace between the Rooks and the Terraqouis.”
Rone held up a hand, interrupting her.
“Wait. You were there?” he asked. It felt like someone had driven a six inch spike through his heart. “You were in Vitari when I was recovering and you never came to see me?”
Gwen’s throat worked, her words sticking there.
“I could’ve died! And still you didn’t think to check on me? You didn’t think to let me know that you were still alive?”
“I was ashamed,” she explained.
“You damned well should’ve been,” he yelled at her. His next words came out harsh. “Don’t come near me again. Go back to pretending I never existed.”
Ignoring her bout of sobbing, Rone walked out of the tent and away from her.
Hopefully forever, he thought darkly.
“You don’t mean that,” Keiara said, rushing after him.
“Yes I do,” he replied angrily.
“She’s your mother, Rone,” Keiara tried to say as she rushed to follow him.
“No. She was my mother,” he replied. “When she left me behind, she gave up that title.”
Keiara couldn’t think to say anything back. His words were true.
“Are you okay?” she asked instead.
“Better the farther away from her I get,” he told her.
Rone had a rush of confusing thoughts inside his head. So many emotions kept ripping at him. He felt anger toward his mother but a part of him was overjoyed at the fact that she was still alive. A huge part of him was disgusted that Niku was his half-brother, but another part of him was happy to have one. He’d always wanted siblings, but his father never remarried. Now he had one. He wasn’t overly fond of who he’d been stuck with for a brother, but he still had one.
He clenched a fist, irritated at the jumble of thoughts cluttering up his mind.
“The One Born of Both Worlds,” Keiara whispered suddenly.
Rone turned to look at her but her words sank in and he realized what she was talking about.
“Niku. A Rook for a mother and a Terra for a father. He’s half of both races.” He wondered, idly, what that really meant. He wondered if his mother ever really had a choice in the decisions she’d made or if fate had played a bigger role in her life…and in the choices she’d made.
No. She abandoned me, he thought. It doesn’t matter if she never really had a choice in the matter, she still did it. And willingly.
He pushed the rest of those thoughts aside and tried to focus on the bigger picture instead. Wilhelm was getting closer and closer to destroying Purga. He had Niku, the third Sentinel. Somehow, they had to get him back and free him of the control Wilhelm held over him. Then, by some miracle, Niku needed to agree to fight alongside someone that he’d expressed on numerous occasions he despised. Oh, and he also needed to come to terms with the fact that Rone was his brother.
Why can’t things ever be easy? he asked himself.
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|Posted on February 6, 2016 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Well, work continues on Basilisk, the third installment of my HIstories of Purga novels. This book picks up right where Roc left off, with the two races of Purga battling desperately to survive and save their world. Blak's power has only grown and everything has been thrown into a purpetual state of chaos and unrest. Most of the Rooks have been subverted and the Terras are, unfortuantely, not far behind as the Qarri Forest is taken and the tribe-cities there fall one by one.
I haven't had a lot of time to devote to writing lately, but I do what I can, when I can. I will post some more free excerpts right up until the release.
Here's the second one:
"A war? Against the Rooks? You don't have to worry about that. We can handle them." Niku brushed the matter aside.
[Humanity's flaws will be their undoing,] the Dragon noted. [Ignorance. Greed. Pride. Bigotry. Racism. These are the things Blak has used to gain his foothold in their minds.]
[It is a sad thing to witness,] the Roc agreed.
"Hey! Why don't you two quit acting like I'm ivisible!" Niku shouted, annoyed. "Now why am I really here?"
[To protect your mind,] they said. [Your body is in the physical world under Blak's control. We pulled your mind into this one to keep the demon's infection from spreading. You are the third Niku, son of Cyrus and Gwendolyn D'Avignon Varlamagne. You are meant to protect. To preserve. To serve as a Sentinel to this world we have built for humanity. Fight. Fight as hard as you can. The other two will fight to bring you back as well and together, the three of you can defeat him.]
"Gwendolyn D'Avignon Varlamagne?" Niku asked. His hands clenched into fists and his body went completely rigid. "Varlamagne? Never associate me with that cursed name again. My mother is Gwen of Vitari. She is not a Rook. Do you understand?"
[It is you that does not understand,] the Roc shot back. There was a flash of anger from its eyes and they sparked with white-blue light. [You are the One Born of Both Worlds. You are both Rook and Terraqouis. Fate has brought you into being for this moment. Do not let your idiocy and petty hatreds cloud your judgment.]
"You're lying," Niku replied quietly. Then he looked up and his eyes locked onto the Dragon's. "Liar!"
The Dragon let out an earsplitting roar as the Roc screeched painfully. Both of them were clearly angry. The Dragons eyes glowed red hot as flames danced off its scales. The Roc's eyes were bright with blue light and arcs of lightning were sparking off its body.
[Your world is in peril and still you refuse to see it,] the Roc yelled, angry and infuriated. [He will destroy everything. He will consume everything. And here you are enveloping yourself in your stubborn refusal to accept a simple truth.]
Niku couldn't think. The creatures' words were too much to handle. He was lost in a confusing cloud of emotions.
It couldn't be true. I can't be one of them. They...they are killers. And that Rook. Rone. He's...he's...my brother? Can't be.
"No!" Niku shouted. "I can't accept that."
[You don't have to like it but you must accept it. You have been fighting this truth, this part of yourself, for so long. I know you've always suspected. I know you've felt your differences with others in your tribe. Embrace them now. Give in to the truth,] the Dragon explained, its voice considerably calmer. It's bright, red and gold eyes stared fixatetly at him, making Niku quickly uncomfortable.
Niku turned away from the pair.
"I can't," he said. "Not after what they did."
More excerpts to come!
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|Posted on December 28, 2015 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Ok. So when I was growing up Ant-Man wasn't anywhere close to being one of my favorite superheroes. In fact, I thought he was lame and kind of goofy. That being said, I don't actually know a whole lot of Ant-Man story lines. I do know that there are two of them, the original (Hank Pym) and the newcomer (Scott Lang). Also, Hank Pym was the one that created Ultron, not Tony Stark. Not sure why they felt the need to change that in Age of Ultron, but whatever, I suppose it's not really that big a deal. With the upswing of recent superhero movies, it does feel like both Marvel and DC are taking out B-list superheroes in the hopes of making some real money off them but what I'm beginning to see is, who cares. I love superhero movies and even ones like Ant-Man are knocking it out of the park for me. I watched the movie and absolutely loved it. With that being said, here's a break down of the movie for me.
Things That I Liked:
For the most part, the movie Ant-Man (from what I remember of his story anyways), went pretty true with the comic storylines. There was the original Ant-Man named Hank Pym (who's wife, Janet, was the Wasp (she does have a little cameo in the movie which I really liked) and then there's Scott Lang, a thief that steals the original Ant-Man suit. That part, from what I remember, was pretty accurate. I love accuracy in comic book movies. It doesn't have to be 100% true to the comic (otherwise that would be boring) but it does have to be pretty close. I also really liked the actors in this movie. I'm a fan of Paul Rudd already but I think Michael Douglas did really well as Hank Pym. Also, Evangeline LIly as HOpe Pym was an excellent choice as well. She was very intense and played the more emotional parts very believably. The plot of Ant-Man was also really well done and had my attention grabbed right from the start. This movie had the perfect blend of action, comedy, and drama. The effects were top notch and super realistic. Surprisingly for myself, it quickly became one of my favorite Marvel superhero movies.
Things That I Didn't Like:
There's not much in this topic, I'm afraid. I will say that some of the plot points that were obviously not true to the comic did rub me the wrong way. Darren Cross is NOT Yellowjacket. In the comics, Hank Pym dons the suit to get a more "badass" rep, instead of the goodie goodie rep he had as Ant-Man. Also, Scott Lang just straight up steals the suit. Hank Pym did not orchestrate that. It made sense in the movie, which is why that one doesn't really bother me that much. I was not a big fan of the actor that played Darren Cross. He didn't really come across well to me. Like he wasn't all that believable as a villain. It did get a letter better towards the end of the movie however.
For Ant-Man, I give it 4/5 stars. It's a great movie and if you're a superhero fan, this movie won't disappoint.
|Posted on December 11, 2015 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
In addition to being a self-published author and comic book creator, I am also the Art Director for One Up Bands. We do a lot of awesome, custom prints on fashionable headbands, keychains, as well as custom wraps for bluetooth speakers, power banks, and some other stuff too. We have over 1,200 stock designs to choose from with new designs always being added as well.
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|Posted on November 24, 2015 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Ok. So I've been away from my website for a long time, mostly becuase I was working on Blood Ties: The Second and then when I finished with that, I revamped both Dragon and Roc. I am currently working on Basilisk right now but I'm hoping to still post some updates, new reviews, articles, and more. I may not be able to post a blog entry every single week, but I'll try.
I have, as I said, been working hard on Basilisk, the third book of my Histories of Purga novels. In the next installment, we find that everyone is fighting to stay alive and the only hope for survival is to rescue the third Sentinel from Blak's control. Without him, everyone and everything will die.
Rone and Keiara put together a bold plan to break the third Sentinel free but will they be successful?
Aeole and Asher must fight to protect their homelands from Rook invaders.
Rowan and his band of refugees try to find a way to stop the Blak Army and break the mindcontrol its soldeirs are under.
It's a fight that will go down in the history books.
With that, here's a preview sample of the first couple of pages (unedited at the current time):
"Niku!" Someone was shouting. "Niku! Where are you?"
Niku recognized the voice immediately. He'd know it anywhere. After all, he'd been in love with its owner for a long time now. Except she didn't know it. For all his bravery in battle he could never summon the courage to tell her how he really felt.
Not like it matters anymore, he thought to himself. Not since the Rook showed up.
He felt that old, familiar hate boil through him. He despised the Rooks for murdering his father, Cyrus, and torturing his mother. They had stripped him of enough already and now one had taken even more from him.
He'd taken Keiara.
"Niku!" he heard her shout again.
"Keiara! What do you want? Have you finally lost interest in your damned Rook?" he sneered.
There was no answer.
"Why play these games?" he asked, after a couple seconds. He looked around but still couldn't find her. "Why taunt me? Why continue to torture me?"
"I have a secret," Keiara whispered from directly behind him. "I've known how you felt about me the whole time. I just wanted to watch you squirm and twist in the wind. I wanted you to think you had a chance with me. I wanted to watch your love grow so I could crush you like a bug. And let me tell you. It was worth the effort. The look on your face when I chose a Rook over you was absolutely priceless."
Niku was shocked silent at her words but more than that, he was shocked at the callous, vicious way she said them. It wasn't like her. She didn't have an ounce of meanness in her. She was kind and sweet. She wouldn't say those things. She just wasn't capable of it.
He turned around slowly and found no one there at all. In fact, he realized nothing was anywhere. The world around him was an empty, white void.
"Where am I?" he screamed. He was starting to panic now.
"Where you are meant to be," Keiara said. She suddenly materialized in front of him, as beautiful and perfect as ever. "Where you will stay. Forever."
Keiara suddenly changed into Rone. The smug Rook smiled cockily at him.
"This is where you belong. You're uselessness won't get in the way anymore. All you do is screw things up," he said.
Niku's fury rose to incredible new heights. His vision blurred. His heart thumped painfully. His hands clenched into white-knuckled fists.
With an incoherent growl, he charged blindly at Rone. Before he could get to him, however, the Rook dissipated into thin air and Niku stumbled and fell onto the ground. He got up slowly and looked for Rone but he was alone again.
"Coward!" Niku screamed loudly. His face went bright red and he could feel his blood pounding through him.
"Always so easy to manipulate. You're anger has been your downfall." Now both Rone and Keiara were back and they said the words together, their voices in perfect synchronicity.
Then they started laughing. They laughed and laughed, their voices contorting and merging with each other until it was one voice. Then Rone and Keiara melted into each other. There was a hideous few minutes where they looked like some kind of two headed monstrosity. Then their features smoothed over until Niku was looking at the burned man. The man that lead the Rooks.
The man that did...something to him but he couldn't remember what.
"What do you want from me?" Niku asked, afraid. The man scared him badly.
"What I want is to take. To corrupt. To pollute. To contaminate. This world and every other now that I have been freed. Believe me when I say this boy, I will never stop." He suddenly blurred and then he was inches away from Niku's face. "I cannot be stopped."
The burned man changed again and this time Niku's fear was so powerful that he could barely breathe. The man's twisted, burned face split open and the tear continued on until the two halves of his former body fell to the ground in a slimy pile. What crawled out of the husk was a thing that looked like a spider but a twisted, deformed version of one.
"My power is at its apex and no force on this world or any other can stop me now that I have you," it said.
Its voice was like knives that flayed the inside of Niku's head. He clamped his hands to his ears and fell to his knees as the pain quickly became unbearable.
"You will die here, halfling. You will die here, One of Both Worlds," it said.
"No! No. I. Will. Not." Niku yelled out his rage with each word and as he did the pain receded. His eyes flashed with bright green light the color of a field of spring grass.
His weirdly glowing eyes fixed on the spider-thing. He threw out an arm and the power rushing inside him flew out in a pulsing wave of green light. The air suddenly smelled like freshly turned earth and wild flowers.
As soon as the wave of power left him, Niku felt a wave of exhaustion roll through him. He fought against it though. He wasn't letting that creature get him. He wasn't letting it escape either. He was going to destroy it.
The spider-thing didn't even try to move. It just laughed hideously.
"Futile. All your efforts are futile," it said as the light hit it.
Its body swelled and bulged grossly.
Niku watched in horrified fascination as the revolting thing exploded in a wave of stench and putrid slime. The force of it smacked into him next and sent him flying a few feet through the air.
He hit what passed for the ground in that weird place a minute later but all it did was shatter like glass. He kept going, passing from that white void and into the sky of a devastated, ruined world.
He shouted in complete terror as he tumbled end over end through a brown and yellowed sky. Streaks of purple raced over and through the land below and whole chunks of the earth were just gone. Tendrils of darkness covered two thirds of this world and they were hungrily trying to devour the rest.
Niku's screams rose the closer he got to hitting the ground. He closed his eyes before he did. He couldn't stop his fall but he could stop himself from seeing his own death.
A second later, he smashed into the peak of an enormous mountain that looked like half of it had been sheared away. Rocks and pebbles flew into the air when he hit it and he created a crater about two feet deep.
He coughed harshly as dust flew down his throat. His eyes watered and his chest burned. He took a few seconds to get himself together. He was amazed that he was still alive but he was extremely shaky still. His body was still trembling from the fear of certain death.
He managed to flop onto his back. He waited a few more minutes, just sitting there and taking steadying breaths. Finally, he pushed himself to his feet. His legs still wobbled but they stopped a few seconds later.
He looked around the half destroyed mountain he was on and finally got a chance to take in this new place he was in. It was a ravaged wreck but he knew instantly that it was some sort of mirror world of Purga, only the real Purga was beautiful and vibrant. The Purga he was in now was a pale comparison. It was dry and wasted. Chunks of earth were just missing and tendrils of purple laced darkness invaded it like a plague.
"Now where am I?" he asked out loud.
[The world between worlds.]
He wasn't expecting an answer so when he got one, he was startled. He turned around and directly in front of him were two massive creatures.
One was a dragon. The other was a roc.
[And time is running out. You must fight back.] Both creatures seemed to be talking at the same time. Neither ones' mouth moved, however. Instead, their words filled Niku's mind like thoughts.
"I don't understand," Niku said. "What is going on here?"
[There is a war,] the Dragon said.
[And we are losing,] the Roc said next.
Stay tuned for more free excerpts from Basilisk!
|Posted on May 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
The Miranda Contract, by author Ben Langdon, is a novel about one of my favorite things: superheros. I'm as big a superhero junkie as you could find, so naturally this book already appeals to me on that level. It is really interesting to dive into these new superhero worlds that were created by people other than Marvel, DC, Image and the rest. The Miranda Contract didn't disappoint in that regard. It definitely had a great start and kept me turning the pages until the end. Here's the rest of my thoughts:
The things that I liked:
One of the biggest things about The Miranda Contract that I liked was the main supervillain. He had a compelling personality and really cool powers. The flashbacks of him were some of my favorite parts to the book and his formation of the teen supervillians was also unique. The term he coined for them was genius too: The Small Gods. I really liked how well that fit into the world Ben created. Dan, the main character, was well-rounded and had a likeable personality and backstory as welll, and it helped me really delve into the book. The powers that were showcased in the book were explained/described really well, for the most part, and they made sense. The book itself was well-written and I didn't find that many typos or grammatical errors. The dialogue flowed naturally and didn't feel stilted or forced to me, which is a definite plus.
The things I didn't like:
While the book was well-written, I thought that the overall plot could use some work. To me, it felt like it jumped around a lot and didn't really explain things that well. Some of the characters had motives that drove them but the motives weren't described in depth. It left me confused as to why some characters (most notably, Halo) were doing the things they were doing. Another example would be Grim. The motivating factors behind his actions were never clearly, or concisely, described so the story left me confused in that regard. Again, another example, would be the character of Sully. Without giving away any spoilers, he agrees to a plan that would put his "friend" in danger (someone that he cherishes and protects), and then later on in the book, it's like he never did any such thing. Like the fact that he betrayed that friend never happened. I could have missed something there, but I wasn't a big fan of how that part of the book just got dropped. Also, I understand that Miranda and Dan were supposed to form a romantic connection to each other, but the connection didn't transition from hatred to love very well. I felt like I was reading it one minute and Miranda hated Dan, and then bam, all of a sudden, she's in love with him. The beginning of the book really pulled me in. I loved the different ubers. I loved the way they fit into society. I really enjoyed how the story was going. But, towards the end, I really felt like things were rushed. The plot sort of crumbled and things got really confusing. The villain's whole convoluted plan started to not make any sense to me.
Overalll, yes it was a good book. It was entertaining and it kept me going until the end but I do feel that there were certain areas that need work. I think that Dan and Miranda's relationship should've been detailed more. The hate directly into love aspect of it bothered me. I also had a problem with the way the plot crumbled towards the end. It is a worthwhile read, in my opinion, but would be a great read if the story was tinkered with a bit more.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
You can buy The Miranda Contract by following this link:
|Posted on March 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Here is the next excerpt for Blood Ties: The Second. I hope everyone enjoys and I am working on finishing it up as fast as I can. Again, I'm sorry it wasn't out on time.
Blood Ties: The Second
Kendra sat across from Conor in a tiny Italian restaurant they managed to find, watching him closely. A lot had happened in the six months since she’d realized that her father was a werewolf and had not only turned her into one but tricked her into becoming the Alpha as well. The one good thing from the whole mess (other than her newfound beauty and confidence) was that she’d met Conor Dewar. He was everything she wanted. Caring. Protective. Loving. And hot. Definitely hot.
She smiled to herself and reached out to grasp his hand.
“You’ve taken to this new life remarkably well,” he told her as he squeezed her hand in return.
She felt a wave a warmth flow through her at his touch. It flooded her entire body with pleasure.
“I think that has a lot more to do with you helping me and…” she paused for a second, “and being the Alpha, I suppose. I’ve never felt stronger in my whole life. Everything is just sharper. It’s clearer. But…”
She stopped, her hesitation giving away her fear and she nervously rubbed the red symbol covering her palm. The three-spiraled pattern of the Alpha mark seemed to stare back at her, mocking her weakness.
“But you’re afraid you won’t be a strong enough one to protect the pack?” he guessed, looking at her with his deep green eyes.
“The thought had crossed my mind,” she whispered, almost ashamed to admit it. Before she’d been turned, she was a quiet, awkward, shy girl that never stood up for herself. Fear was
not just a constant in her life, it was the rule. She’d been afraid to speak up. She’d been afraid to come out of a shell she’d spent a lifetime erecting. She’d been afraid to let anyone truly in. More than that, however, she’d been weak. She saw that now and she never wanted to be weak again.
Especially in front of Conor or any other wolf in her pack.
She wanted to be strong. And she knew that she was.
“I’ll say it again, even though I’ve said it a million times to you already,” Conor replied. “You are strong. You defeated a man that had gained control of your brother and even the big bad Defaeco leader, Elijah Bishop. That’s no small feat. Your power washed away his magic, Kendra! Your’s alone.”
He smiled hugely and it made her melt. She loved his smile.
She couldn’t help but squirm a little at his words, however. He’d said she’d done it alone, but he was wrong. She didn’t tell him that her mother had been there too, locked inside Jonah’s mind. Trapped there. He’d tried to use his magic to enslave her, to force her to kill her own child. He’d nearly succeeded too. If it hadn’t been for Kendra’s grandfather, she would’ve died all those years ago.
The act of forcing her mother to do something completely against her nature had a very unintended side effect. Her mind fractured and then dissipated. The magical link that Jonah had created to control her had acted as something like a tether. It captured the broken pieces of her mother’s mind and reformed them inside the twisted Mage’s own. There she’d remained, trapped and helpless, her physical body wasting away in a mental institution.
When Jonah had come for Kendra, trying the same trick, her mother finally managed to break free. Together they were able to bounce Jonah’s magic back onto himself, searing his mind into uselessness. He was the empty shell now.
Her mother, however, was far from recovered.
Kendra had been to see her as often as she could. A full time job at as a graphic designer in a huge and well-respected marketing firm combined with being the Alpha of a pack of monster hunting werewolves didn’t leave her with a lot of free time.
It was insanely frustrating. She’d been alone almost her entire life. After her mother got locked away and her grandfather died, no one had ever been there for her. Her father, Merle, had come close, but he never told her the truth of who he really was until it was too late. The only other one that came close was Jenna and even she had lied to her for their entire relationship.
There was a chance her mother would come back to herself now, and she found herself anxiously waiting for that to happen. She wanted someone that just simply cared about her. No hidden motives. No secrets. No psychotic friend’s that can wield fire and invade people’s minds and take over their bodies.
Was that too much to ask?
“You okay?” Conor asked, concerned. “You seem really lost in thought.”
Kendra jerked somewhat, blushing deeply. She hadn’t realized she’d zoned out so completely.
“Sorry,” she said, lamely.
“You have a lot on your mind. It’s okay,” he replied.
The waiter arrived, carrying two steaming plates. He set her food down and it smelled so good. She’d gotten a three cheese, baked ziti. She looked over at Conor and saw a mound of chicken Alfredo in front of him.
She watched him load on the pepper and then dig in.
She ate with a little more reservation, but barely.
As it turned out, monster hunting was a calorie burner and most times, her stomach was growling out its dissension at constantly being ignored. It was worse when she smelled blood, though. Then the baser instincts of her wolf side threatened to take over and sometimes it was really hard to force it down.
That really scared her, but she kept it to herself.
“Have you heard from Merrick lately?” Conor asked, wiping his mouth with a napkin. He set down his fork and looked forlornly at his plate. It was empty. He grabbed a breadstick and started chewing on it, leaning forward slightly so he could look at her.
“No,” she responded, feeling sad.
So it turned out that she’d gone from an orphan to finally having a father, only she was forced to kill him. Then she found out she had a brother, but he was doing his best to try and kill her and take the Alpha power from her. Come to find out, though, that Jonah had been controlling him too, although a little less overtly. Mostly, the bastard had switched on Merrick’s blood hunger and turned him crazy.
He barely managed to snap out of it before he’d killed her. When he realized what he’d done, he ran.
Kendra managed to talk to him one time, and it was mostly an unending series of apologies from her brother. She could barely get in enough words to tell him she understood and that she didn’t blame him for everything that happened.
He didn’t want to hear it though. He exiled himself. She had no clue where he was or when, if ever, he would be back.
“Do you think he’ll come back?” Conor asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. She finished up the last of her ziti half-heartedly, suddenly losing her appetite.
“It’s not your fault, you know,” he suddenly said.
She looked up at him curiously.
“What’s not my fault?” she asked.
“What happened to your father. And Merrick. I know you blame yourself,” he responded.
“It’s kind of hard not to. Jonah came after Merrick and used him to kill Merle. He used my mom to try…” she stopped herself suddenly.
Conor’s eyes widened.
“Your mom tried to kill you?” he asked, shocked. “Jonah…” His voice trailed. He looked at her.
She nodded slowly.
“He made your mom try and kill you?”
She nodded again.
“That’ sick. How’d you find out?”
She hesitated for a second and then decided to tell him the truth.
“Her mind was locked inside Jonah’s. It was some kind of side effect of what he did to her. When he came after me, she helped me turn his power back on him. You think it was my power that saved me, but it was her.”
Conor was silent for a long time.
“Does that mean she’s going to get better?” he asked. “Did stopping Jonah free her?”
“I keep hoping it will but when I get the chance to see her, she looks the same. I don’t really know what it means. I’ve never had any real experience with magic before. Sometimes, though, I think I can see her move. It gives me hope.”
He got up suddenly and sat next to her in the booth, hugging her closely.
“I think anyone that can survive in that maniac’s mind for as long as she did has an excellent chance to come back from what he did to her.” He kissed the top of her head, taking in the scent of her hair. It smelled like honeysuckle and jasmine. “Come on. I’ll walk you home.”
“Why thank you, kind sir.” She laughed, thankful that she could still laugh after the craziness her life had become.
She shoved her dark, depressing thoughts aside and got up.
Conor held out his hand and bowed to her like a 19th century gentleman. Which wasn’t far off the mark considering he actually had been alive in the 19th century. That had been a very shocking fact. Apparently, thanks to a werewolf’s regenerative capabilities, they lived for quite a long time. She was still coming to grips with the fact that Merle had been almost four centuries old before he’d been killed.
She took his hand and he kissed the top of it. Then he pulled out his wallet and laid a couple of bills on the table.
They left the restaurant and headed outside. It was still humid and sticky, but some of the heat had been leached away as the night deepened. A bright, silvery crescent moon hung in the air.
She breathed in through her nose. The scents of the city around her filled her nostrils. In the time since she’d become a werewolf, she’d learn to control the overwhelming sensations her heightened senses brought. She found she could tune them up or down at will. She tuned her sense of smell up as well as her hearing. It was a defense mechanism Ian (Conor’s father) had taught her. The senses of a werewolf were so powerful, they were very nearly precognitive. All of the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and even tastes were taken in and processed on a subconscious level and could alert her to potential threats long before they showed up.
Six months later and she was doing it on pure reflex now.
The walk home was uneventful. They talked and joked, even holding hands like love-sick high schoolers. Considering she’d never had a boyfriend in high school, she found she enjoyed the experience immensely.
She enjoyed the walk home but was glad to finally get up to her apartment. With work and her after work activities, she was beat. She unlocked her door and Conor followed her inside.
“Jenna?” Kendra called. Her apartment was dark and no one answered her. She turned to Conor. “Where is she?”
She looked around and spotted the phone on the kitchen counter. There was a tiny red light blinking on it, signaling that they had a voicemail. She pressed the button and Jenna’s voice filled the empty apartment.
“Sorry, girl. I’m exhausted. I’m staying the night at my dad’s. See you in the morning.”
The phone went silent.
Before she could do anything else, Conor grabbed her around the small of her back and pulled her close to him. He kissed her, his soft lips molding against hers. His desire was intense and she reveled in it. She kissed him back, her hand tangling in his thick dark hair.
He growled low in his throat, a deep rumble that sent waves of pleasure running through her. His hands flowed down her back like water and gripped her butt. He hoisted her up and she
wrapped her legs around him. He carried her like that to the bedroom and they collapsed on the soft mattress, both of them breathing hard.
She didn’t so much yank his shirt off as complete shred it while he pulled hers up over her head, revealing her lacy black push up bra. He leaned in and planted a line of kisses on her neckline while his expert hands undid the clasp of her bra.
All the stresses of the day melted away and everything else just disappeared.
For those few, wonderful hours, they were the only two people in the world.
| | | | |
Kendra was sleeping very peacefully, wrapped in a cocoon of bliss. Until a noise woke her up. Her eyes opened, revealing her pitch black room. She concentrated, trying to figure out what woke her up. A second later she heard it again. The doorknob to her apartment was rattling, like someone was trying to break in. She looked over at Conor and found him sound asleep.
The rattling sound became louder and more insistent. Her instincts rose to the surface, putting her on edge.
She quietly got out of bed and quickly slipped into a pair of pajamas. The darkness around her suddenly flared into brilliant hues of amber gold. Seeing in the dark might prove useful if whoever was trying to get in meant to try and hurt her, she reasoned.
She got to her bedroom door and nudged it open slowly, peering through the small crack that had opened up. Her apartment appeared empty, but the rattling noise was getting even louder. Whoever was out there wanted in and they definitely weren’t going away until they did. She wondered briefly if it was Jenna, deciding to come home after all only to realize she’d forgotten her key. She dismissed the idea though. Jenna wouldn’t make such a racket, knowing it might set Kendra’s wolf alter-ego off.
She glided through the living room, her eyes changing to burning yellow orbs. Her teeth lengthened into fangs and claws sprang out on her hands. When she was next to the little bar in the kitchen, she flared her nostrils.
And regretted it immediately.
A thick, disgusting scent pummeled her sense of smell, threatening to make her hurl. She had to fight hard not to gag. It smelled like rotting roses mixed with the metallic-like smell of blood.
Her wolf overrode her rational, human mind. It jumped to the forefront and took control, effortlessly. It was clear that whatever was out there wasn’t stopping by for a cup of sugar or to chat about the latest building gossip. In fact, Kendra was a hundred percent sure that the thing wasn’t even human.
Anger filled her when she realized that.
Her home was her sanctuary. It was her safe-haven. Now, some creature had violated that. In recent months, she’d found out the hard way that Lycaon City was not what she’d though it was. It was home to some amazingly vile, and terrifying, things.
And now one of those things was trying to break into her apartment.
She took a deep breath and without hesitation ran at the front door. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to live long enough to tell its friends where she was at.
She was about to fling the door open when she felt something pierce the skin of her neck. There was a sharp, biting pain and a couple seconds of confusion. Then her entire body went slack. Her limbs felt heavy and weak. Her legs wouldn’t hold her weight anymore. She collapsed to the ground, unable to move. She tried to call out to Conor but her mouth wouldn’t open.
The rattling on her doorknob quit. She watched as the deadbolt slid open and the lock unlocked itself. Then the door opened on its own and a creature that looked no taller than three or four feet strolled inside.
It was easily the ugliest thing she’d ever seen. Even uglier than the Wendigo, and that was saying something.
It had a giant head which was vastly disproportionate to the rest of its squat, hairy little body. Its feet, also, were five or six times bigger than what they needed to be. Each gnarly hand had three fingers that ended in wicked-looking claws and it peered at Kendra with beady, red eyes.
It tilted its head at her as it came in, a smile full of sharp little teeth cracked its face. It watched her for a minute or two more, rubbing its hands together like a preying mantis.
Kendra struggled to get up, but whatever poison she’d been injected with had apparently paralyzed her.
“Good,” the thing in front of her said. “Good, good, good, good. Wolfie there could’ve been more trouble. More trouble, trouble, trouble, Jarwink.”
“Indeed,” a voice said. It was a distinctly nasally voice. “She will be pleased with us. Pleased. Very much pleased.”
Kendra felt a wash of cold fear spread through her as she realized what had happened. The rattling door had been a diversion. The real threat had already been in her apartment and she’d missed it.
The one called Jarwink bent down until its ridiculously huge head was in front of hers. The smell of rotting roses and blood became even more powerful.
“She will have so much fun with you, Wolfie,” Jarwink exclaimed, rubbing his hands in that weird preying mantis type way.
Without further comment, the two bent down and picked Kendra up.
She struggled, uselessly, as they carried her out of her apartment and to the stairs.
The worst thing was that she was completely powerless. She never thought she would have to feel that way again. It made her angry.
Suddenly, the palm of her hand bearing the Alpha mark started to itch furiously. A sensation of warmth flowed out of it and up her entire body. Within seconds, muscles that had felt dead and lifeless just seconds before sang with life and energy.
She didn’t let on though. Not yet.
She kept her body limp and loose, waiting for the right moment to strike.
It presented itself as the…things…were nearing the fifth floor landing. They broke out into a heated argument over who got to do what to Kendra. They both set her carefully on the stairs and started shouting at each other.
“No,” one said, forcefully. Apparently, its name was Sputnick. Sometime during the trek Kendra had picked up on it.
“No, no, no, no.”
“Yes,” the other one (Kendra was reasonably sure that one was Jarwink, although the two looked so much alike it was hard to tell the difference). “It was my plan. Mine. I get to have the fun. Me!”
“No!” Sputnick cried. Literally too. Greasy, fat tears travelled down the pockmarked skin of its cheeks. “You always get to have the fun. It’s my turn. My turn!”
Kendra waited, trying to be patient. She realized she didn’t have much time, but the last of the paralyzing drug was still wearing off. She could feel the Alpha power inside her pushing the drug’s effects away. It surged down her veins like lava and eradicated her paralysis. A couple more seconds was all she needed.
Thankfully, Jarwink and Sputnick were more than happy to give them to her.
Their altercation progressed from shouts to physical combat.
Jarwink stepped on Sputnick’s huge foot.
Sputnick rammed his enormous head right into Jarwink’s nose.
Jarwink bit down on Sputnick’s shoulder. The wound immediately started to drool a dark, nearly black, blood.
Sputnick grabbed Jarwink’s lopsided ears and yanked as hard as he could.
They continued on like that for a minute or two more before they realized that their prey was no longer lying awkwardly on the stairs. When they did notice, they stopped in their tracks. They looked like the world’s ugliest statues.
Sputnick gulped deeply.
Jarwink let out a pathetic meep sound that apparently meant “I am very scared.”
Kendra stood taller than them even as a human. In her Alpha state, she might as well have been a giant. Her huge, humanoid wolf form regarded the two creatures. Her muzzle wrinkled in on itself as she growled ominously. Her red-auburn fur shone a bright copper in the stairwell’s lights.
“Meep,” Sputnick spluttered.
“Run!” Jarwink shouted.
Kendra shot forward, reaching out with her huge, clawed hands. She almost managed to nab Sputnick by the foot as he bounded off the walls, the railings, the stairs, and pretty much anything else he could jump off of in his efforts to escape the big scary werewolf.
Jarwink avoided a devastating blow from Kendra and jumped straight up into the air. He turned around in mid-air and landed feet first on the underside of the stair case above them. He promptly started running, (still upside down), heading back up the building instead of down.
Sputnick managed to evade Kendra again, this time shooting underneath her legs, and made his way up the stairs too.
Kendra started after them, her clawed feet clacking on the cement stairs. She had to give the little creeps their due. They were incredibly fast.
But she was fast too.
She race after them and five or six minutes later, all three of them burst onto the roof of her building. A thin layer of gravel covered it, making it hard for Kendra to slow down.
Jarwink and Sputnick looked at her with overlarge, wide, and very terrified eyes.
Realizing they had nowhere else to go, they dropped to the ground and started bowing to her.
“Don’t kill us,” they muttered over and over, bowing each time.
Kendra stalked toward them, ready to rip their throats out. She was confident that she could deal with them quickly and still get a little sleep before she had to wake up for work.
“We’re sorry, sorry, sorry,” Sputnick spluttered.
“She made us,” Jarwink added.
That made her pause.
“Who made you?” she growled, her voice thick and rough. The two of them both flinched at the sound of it.
She remembered them mentioning a mysterious she before, but the information hadn’t sunk in. Now that she had them trapped, she figured she might as well get something for her troubles. Info on a mysterious entity out to get her seemed like a good trade to her.
She walked a few steps closer, noticing that the two little creeps were watching her avidly. There were weird looks of anticipation on their faces. They looked almost eager.
She took another step forward and stopped. A blinding flash of light appeared. When it disappeared, she blinked in confusion. Spots danced in front of her eyes for a minute before she was able to see clearly again.
The creeps abruptly quit talking. They stopped bowing too and the fear they’d shown before suddenly vanished. Broad, toothy grins appeared on their hideous faces. They got up, holding out their hands so that their scarred palms were pointing to the sky. Each one was glowing with soft white light.
“We’re lucky,” Sputnick commented. “This Wolfie is stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
“Yes,” Jarwink replied, eerily confident. “Walked right into our trap.”
Kendra tried to back up, but her feet felt glued to the roof. She struggled harder but no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t move.
The creeps approached her again and there was nothing she could do about it.
“You’d better kill me now,” she spat at them, her words more of a growl than anything else. “Or I will kill you both.”
Jarwink walked up to her with no trace of fear. He peered up at Kendra’s massive head.
“She wouldn’t like that,” he laughed. “She wouldn’t like that at all.”
His hand started glowing again and he reached out to touch Kendra. She tried to back away, but she was still glued to the floor.
The creep’s hand touched the fur of her left leg and the minute it did, she felt a deep, pervading weakness. It flowed through her in less than a second, crashing into her head like a tidal wave. Her Alpha state melted off her and she collapsed, naked and unconscious, to the gravel rooftop.
Sputnick joined Jarwink as he regarded the slender, pale wolf-woman.
“This Wolfie was much stronger than she said,” Jarwink noted.
“No matter. No matter at all,” Sputnick declared. “She is ours now. Yes she is, is, is.”
With that, they bent down and picked Kendra up. They took her to the door leading to the stairwell and started climbing down it, arguing again about who got to the have fun with the wolf-woman.
|Posted on February 28, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
The world of Skylanders is a very unique one, as I mentioned before in my review of Skylanders Giants. It is an immersive game where a toy comes to life and I have to say that I really love the concept. People, in general, love to collect things and with this game, you get to collect these pretty cool little toys that actually do stuff in the game. You can level them up to make them stronger and you can also get them new and better abilities too. They did something new in Swap Force that I was pretty fond of too and that was that they included new character bios on everybody. I am a huge fan of designing, creating, and making up characters (complete with bios) so I found this new feature really awesome. Those are just some of the things that I liked...here's some others:
The Things I Liked:
There's not a whole lot I don't like about Skylanders. The story is somewhat simplistic but when you are making a game for children, it's best not to get too complex. The story line for Skylander's Spyro's Adventure was a pretty basic, must-get-these-certain-objects-to-defeat-evil plot line, but it made for a longer game than Giants, which I liked. I did think that Giants was more basic and that it was also a lot shorter, so I liked the fact that Spyro's Adventure was considerably longer. Again, the same can be said for Swap Force. They upped the levels again and I think that made it a lot better to play. The graphics in the game were definitely a lot more advanced than in both Spyro's Adventure and in Giants (although in Swap Force any character with a flame ability, their attack could barely be seen. Try Hothead's flamethrower). It was nice to be able to jump during the game too. The main draw with me, however, is the characters. Both my son and I are a little obsessive when it comes to collecting them and we have to have atleast one of everything. And of course, the fact that they can swap the top and bottom halves of any of the main, swapable characters. It is a really advanced level of gameplay and ups the character count to over 200 possibilities. It is definitely fun to be able to switch and merge the characters together and combine different characters' abilities.
The Things I Didn't Like:
Not a whole lot of things I didn't like about Spyro's Adventure and Swap Force. They were fun to play and the ability to buy new characters and upgrade them extends the game's shelf life a lot, in my opinion. I will say that impatience is probably one of my bigger weaknesses with these games because I want the characters leveled and powered up as soon as possible and sometimes it seems to take forever to do so. Swap Force had a lot of improvements but at the same time, a lot of setbacks too. The jump feature was a blessing and a curse. With the first two games the main attack button was the A button (on a WIImote). In Swap Force, that changed to the B button. It was a serious adjustment and sometimes I still screw that up. I also don't like the fact that sometimes during gameplay, the game will just freeze for no reason. That is seriously irritating. It does it way too often. Again, the fire powers of some of the fire element characters was nearly invisible, which I thought was weird and it made it hard to play as that character sometimes. Also, I found a secret, hidden level in the pond in the middle of Wood Burrow but apparently you can't get to it on the WII, which sucked. A lot. There was probably a reason for that, but it doesn't change the fact that it sucked. There were these little annoyances throughout the gameplay but it didn't detract as whole from Swap Force that much.
Overall, the games are fun. They are great video games to play with your kids and it takes a long time to get through these two, which is a good thing. The fact that you can upgrade these toy figures' abilities and make them stronger.
|Posted on February 27, 2014 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
I know that I am really late getting Blood Ties: The Second released, so to help with that I am going to post some excerpts to my blog. I am still working on the second Bane Pack novel as we speak, but hopefully this will help any fans stay in touch with their favorite werewolves until I can finish the book and get it published. I'll start with the preview that I have at the back of Blood Ties: The First, and then next week I will post new content.
Blood Ties: The Second
Part One: Hunter
“Are you sure this is where it went?” Kendra hissed, trying to keep her voice low. She could feel sweat trickling down her spine from the humid, summer air.
“Shh,” Felix whispered, shooting a warning look at her.
Kendra rolled her eyes and stared at a dark alley between a CVS and a deli called The Sub Shoppe. Pretty soon they could hear a man screaming followed by the sounds of a trash can being overturned.
“That’s our cue,” Jenna said. She had a huge, eager grin on her face.
“You know your friend is slightly crazy, right?” Conor added, looking at Jenna. She shot him a dark look.
“I don’t think you really have any business throwing out the crazy coin, Mr. Gave-In-To-My-Blood-Hunger-And-Killed-People.”
He growled angrily at her but Kendra restrained him.
“Quit fighting, both of you,” she whispered to them. “Everyone needs to be focused.”
“But…,” he tried to say.
“You deserved it, now let’s go,” she commanded.
The four of them moved toward the alley where the screams were coming from. They’d been tracking a Wendigo through the city. It was a nasty, nearly hairless beast with long, pointed ears, wispy white hair and sickly yellow eyes. Its grotesquely huge maw was filled with long, yellowed fangs. From the records Jenna obtained, both its claws and its fangs secreted a clear, odorless neurotoxin that paralyzed its victims so they couldn’t run away when it devoured them. Kendra shuddered at the thought of some creature hovering over her while she was completely powerless, ready to eat the flesh off of her while she was still alive.
She breathed deeply for a second, calming herself. Then she looked to the others.
“Let’s get that thing,” she told them. Then she shifted into her monstrous wolf form, her auburn fur shining under the light of a street lamp. Felix grabbed her clothes and stuffed them into a backpack he was wearing. She saw Conor morph into his wolf/human hybrid form. Jenna whirled a pair of silver short swords while the wind picked up around Felix.
With a rough howl, Kendra moved into the alley. The rest of her team followed.
The Wendigo was a nasty piece of work. It was as horrible to look at as she feared. When it saw them coming, it backed up a step, its potential victim was a limp form on the rain-soaked alley floor.
Its eyes flashed yellow.
“Get awayss,” it hissed as it let its backward-facing knees bend and its overlong arms drag on the ground. Kendra could see its venom dripping off both its fangs and claws and made a mental note not to let them near her. “Thiss iss mine meal.”
Conor barked out a terrifying roar.
Jenna went into a casual fighting stance.
Felix’s eyes flashed bright blue.
The Wendigo stood there, hovering protectively over its next meal.
They all stood that way for a split second. Then Kendra charged. The Wendigo let out an ear-splitting sound and she recoiled. The noise pierced her skull like razor blades and she stumbled. Her giant paw slipped in a puddle and she went tumbling into the side of a dumpster. Conor didn’t fare any better. As soon as the sound left the creature’s mouth, he was on his knees with his hands clamped to the side of his head. His wolf form melted off his features and he was human again. Jenna would’ve been next, but Felix threw a cocoon of magic around themselves, protecting them from the sound wave. When the thing’s mouth snapped shut, he dropped it, reshaped his magic and sent two spinning disks of compressed air at it.
The Wendigo was fast, but not fast enough. It dodged one of the disks, but the other one severed its right arm just below the shoulder. It fell to the ground with a meaty sounding thud. Yellow ichor flowed out of the stump and it let out a pain-filled screech.
Kendra got back to her feet, her head feeling slightly dizzy. Conor’s ears trickled blood, but he managed to get back to his feet too and shift again.
The Wendigo seemed to know it had lost. It turned and tried to flee.
Kendra ran full out. There was no way in hell she was letting that thing loose in her city. She was almost to it before something flew out from behind a darkened doorway and tackled the monster to the ground. There were several shouts and grunts.
She slowed and stopped, watching events unfold. The thing that had tackled the Wendigo was just a man. Although, judging by the way he fought, a very dangerous, capable man.
The Wendigo tried to swipe one of its clawed hands at the guy, but he nimbly dodged out of the way. He clamped one of his hands on the thing’s wrist, twisted with his body, and used the monster’s own momentum against it. In the blink of an eye, the Wendigo was sailing through the air until it crashed headfirst into a brick wall. There was a sickening crunch and then it fell to the ground in a lifeless heap.
Jenna walked past the stranger and over to the Wendigo. She hovered over it, one of her swords glinting in the light cast from an overhead lamp.
Kendra clearly heard crackling pops coming from the creature and knew that it was healing its broken neck and skull.
She let out a huff of breath.
Why do these things always regenerate? she asked herself.
Before it could fully heal, Jenna took her sword and quickly severed its head. She backed away from it and turned to look at the man that had fought the Wendigo. He wasn’t looking at the monster though, he was staring in dumfounded shock at the two werewolves still in the alley with him.
“W-what’s going on?” he asked, his voice shaky. His eyes went back to the Wendigo. “What was that thing? It tried to eat my friend. And what are they?” He pointed to Kendra and Conor, although Conor had shifted back into his human form. The man looked at him questioningly, blinking his eyes. “I mean that?” He looked to Kendra.
“Don’t worry, Mr…?” Jenna asked, waiting for him to supply his name.
“Dr-Drake Harper,” he stammered. “What is that? Am I going crazy?”
“No,” Jenna responded, her voice kind and sweet. She went up to the man and gently laid a hand on the shoulder of his dirty, ragged shirt. From the way he was dressed, it was pretty clear he was homeless. His shirt was stained and had a number of rips and holes in it. His jeans were nearly shredded, and the sole was coming off one of his sneakers. His blonde hair was filthy and unkempt and he sported a rough-looking beard.
“You’re not crazy. We can explain all of this to you, if you want, but first we need to take care of your friend. We’re gonna get him to a hospital, okay? Stay here with those two,” she gestured toward Kendra and Conor. “And don’t worry about that creature. Our people are going to clean up its remains.”
The man glanced nervously at Kendra.
“Don’t worry, she’s a big puppy. She won’t hurt you,” Jenna said, smirking slightly at Kendra.
Felix went over to the injured man that the Wendigo had originally targeted. He was also homeless, his dark skin nearly ash grey. His face was seamed with wrinkles. His brown eyes were open and staring, and he had tears running down the corners of his eyes.
“He’s got a deep laceration to his side and some venom around the wound. We need to move him quickly.”
“You ready?” Jenna asked.
Felix stood back up and tossed the backpack to Kendra. She snatched it out of the air and it hung from her muzzle. She walked, almost daintily, behind a dumpster as Felix, Jenna, and the homeless man vanished in a cyclone of air. Drake’s mouth opened in a wide O of surprise.
Kendra shifted back, opened the backpack and slipped her clothes back on. Then she walked out from behind the dumpster, Conor coming up beside her.
“I’m Kendra Henner. This is Conor Dewar,” she said, trying to sound friendly. But this Drake guy wasn’t having any of it.
“What happened to the big dog?” he asked. “Was that you?”
He was rapidly getting hysterical.
“It must be the PTSD,” he mumbled to himself.
Kendra raised an eyebrow at Conor.
“We’ll explain everything,” she responded. “Just try to be calm.”
“Calm?” he cried. “I’m losing my fucking mind and you want me to be calm?”
He started advancing toward Kendra, his eyes hard and angry. Conor stepped protectively in front of her.
“I want answers,” Drake told them, becoming openly hostile now. “I’ll get them too, even if I have to wring both your necks to do it.”
He flexed his fists, popping out the muscles in his forearms. Before he could attack, however, Felix and Jenna came whirling back into the alley. Felix saw the look on Drake’s face and knew he had to do something to stop him
“Sominus,” he said, pointing at Drake. A blue spark zipped from the end of his finger and smacked into Drake’s forehead. He immediately collapsed to the ground, snoring loudly.
“What did you do?” Jenna asked, outraged. She ran to Drake, checking his vitals.
“He’s under a sleeping spell,” Felix told her. “It’ll wear off in an hour. He’ll be fine. The only reason why I did it was because he looked like he was about to attack Kendra and Conor.”
“He was,” Conor grumbled.
“Well, how would you react if you were human and been attacked by a monster only to be left with two other monsters?” she asked, getting defensive.
“We’re not monsters,” Conor replied.
“Sorry…werewolves,” she responded.
“What are you going to do with him?” Kendra asked.
“I don’t know yet,” she responded. “I can’t just leave him here. Maybe I’ll take him to my dad’s and we can talk to him there.”
“Just as long as you keep him away from us,” Kendra told her.
Jenna glared at her, but didn’t respond. She looked to Felix instead.
“Help me with him,” she ordered. Felix sighed heavily and went over to her. He bent down, placing a hand on both Jenna and Drake. “See you guys later.”
They vanished again.
Kendra turned to Conor. He smiled at her and hugged her close to him.
“Some date night huh?” he asked, kissing her.
She returned it with pleasure.
“I always knew you were a hopeless romantic. Do you always take your dates to such intimate, beautiful locales?” she joked, trying to ease her own exasperation. This was the fourth date night that Jenna had ruined, and she was beginning to think her best friend was doing it on purpose.
Jenna Bishop was a Defaeco Knight, a very secret group of Knights Templar that fought all the monsters that modern society said didn’t exist. Conor also happened to be a werewolf and one that had a very bad past. Awhile back, he’d given into his blood hunger, the wolf part of his nature that was enthralled with hunting and killing anything it came across. Because of that, he’d gotten put on the Defaeco Knight’s list of creatures that needed to be taken out, but had managed to avoid confrontation with the shady group of monster hunters. Since then, he’d cleaned himself up and reclaimed his humanity. Now he was Kendra’s boyfriend and Jenna hated that fact.
“Only the best for my girl,” Conor said, looking around at the dirty, trash-ridden alleyway. He kissed her again, but it was strained. Both of them seemed to know that Jenna was doing her best to sabotage their relationship. All the jokes in the world couldn’t ease that kind of tension on their relationship.
They waited together for a quarter of an hour before an anonymous white panel van pulled up at the mouth of the alley. The doors slid open and two Pages, or Knights-In-Training, hopped out. They were both young, barely in their twenties. One was a male that still showed signs of acne on his face. The other was a cute girl dressed in a fitted shirt with a beach scene on it and stained jeans. She was also stomping around in military-issue combat boots. She strolled up to them, a smile on her face.
“Got another one for us I see,” she said, cheerful. The guy didn’t bother talking to them. In fact, he was trying to do whatever he could to be as far away from them as he could.
Kendra immediately ran up to the girl and gave her a hug.
“Gwen!” she practically yelled, nearly jumping up and down. She’d met Gwen only a couple of months ago, just after she’d struck up her new treaty with Elijah, but it felt like she’d known her for years. With her sharp, sarcastic tongue and witty jokes, she’d been really easy to talk to and get to know. It was one of the few friendships in her life that she didn’t feel like she had to work to obtain. Instead, it had been something genuine and easy. “You didn’t tell me you were back.”
“I got in like three hours ago.” She stretched. “Man, I hate planes. My ass still feels half-numb.”
“How’d you like London?”
“It was pretty sweet,” she responded. “Loved the pubs. And the guys.”
“Mind helping me with this?” the male asked in a dry, slightly irritated voice. “Or do you want me to report back to Mr. Bishop that you aren’t capable of doing your job?”
Kendra shot the man a dark look and he immediately paled.
He turned and walked away.
“Dick,” Gwen whispered beneath her breath. She hugged Kendra again and stepped back. “I gotta help him. Call me later okay?”
“Sure,” Kendra replied.
They watched the two Pages carry off the body, the Wendigo’s severed arm tucked underneath the guy’s armpit. After the creature’s body was in the van, they came back and hosed off the yellow ichor.
Gwen said a final goodbye, and then the van drove off.
“Come on,” Conor said. “Maybe we can still salvage what’s left of our date.”
They left together, heading for the closest restaurant they could find.
| | | | |
Drake woke up in a dark room and on a mattress so soft, he practically sank into it. But maybe woke up was the wrong word. It was more like he twitched himself awake, his
body jerking uncomfortably. Visions of nightmare creatures with long talon-like claws and ripping fangs, of huge monster dogs, and half-man/half-wolf-like beings rampaged through his mind. When he woke, he could almost see them hovering in the air in front of him.
He took deep, calming breaths. He focused on breathing in and out until those wraith-like images disappeared. Then he looked around the room. It was enormous. The walls were done in rich wood paneling and expensive, designer furniture was everywhere.
He quickly got out of bed, his heart still hammering in his chest.
Where the hell am I? What is going on?
The door opened and a very pretty blonde entered. She flicked on the overhead lights, and Drake squinted a little until his eyes could adjust.
“I’m glad you’re awake,” the girl said. She looked familiar. A second later, his mind supplied the answer. Her name was Jenna Bishop, a model and one of the city’s social elite. Her father, if he remembered, ran a successful marketing/media company.
“What am I doing here?” he asked, and not pleasantly.
“You should get cleaned up. We have a lot to talk about,” she told him. She glanced at a door off to his left. “There’s a shower in there and some clean clothes. I wasn’t sure what would fit you, so if they don’t, let me know and I’ll find you something different. Oh, and there’s also clippers, shaving cream, a razor, and some deodorant.”
She left without another word, leaving Drake very confused.
He looked at himself, looked at the bathroom door, and finally gave in. It would be good to get clean. Being homeless was depressing on so many levels, but the biggest thing he hated was not being able to get clean. The grunge of living on the streets seemed to seep into his pores, like it stained him. No matter how many gas station sinks he used to clean it off, it never seemed to be enough. It was always there.
He went over to the door and opened it. The inside looked more like a five-star spa than someone’s bathroom.
He walked over to the stand-up shower, took his dirty, ragged clothes off, and stepped inside. He put the water on as hot as it would go and just let it run over his head and shoulders for a while. It felt like heaven.
He stayed in there for over an hour, cleaning and scrubbing at himself. When he got out, he toweled himself off and wrapped it around his waist. He swiped a hand over the fogged up mirror and looked at himself. His blonde hair was too long and his beard was thick and scratchy. He wasn’t used to that. He was used to his Jarhead haircut and seeing himself like that was unsettling. He didn’t even look the same.
He grabbed the clippers and took them to his beard first. He watched the hair fall lazily to the sink. Then he grabbed the shaving cream and razor and shaved the rest off. He looked at himself and after a little hesitation, grabbed the clippers again and took them to his hair. It wasn’t exactly his high and tight, but it was definitely better than his long blonde hair and he looked more like himself than he had in years.
His eyes traveled to the warped, twisted skin of his shoulder and side, the result of a severe burn he’d gotten in Afghanistan while on tour there. He rubbed his fingers over
it and all he could remember was the pain. The pain of knowing that he was burning alive. The pain of seeing all his friends dying around him.
He slammed a fist on the counter and turned away from the mirror.
He found the clothes in a neat pile on a plush seat. He quickly put them on. They were somewhat tight. He was bulkier across the chest and shoulders than their original owner, but it didn’t bother him too much. They actually looked pretty good on him. The shirt was a soft, maroon button-down that he left open at the throat and the pants were a pair of khaki slacks. He laced up the expensive leather shoes and walked out of the bathroom.
He planned to just glide out unseen and leave this over-luxurious place, but as soon as he opened the door, the girl (Jenna, he reminded himself) was there to meet him. As soon as she saw him, her eyes widened a little and she looked at him appraisingly.
“You look…,” she paused, searching for the right word, “really good.”
“Uh…thanks,” he replied, embarrassed.
Jenna just stood there for a moment, looking at him. She seemed to realize that she was staring and snapped herself out of it.
“Um…come with me,” she said, grabbing his hand. “There are some things we should probably talk about.”
The pale, talon-clawed creature shoved itself to the front of his mind, making the bomb blast he’d been in seem like child’s play by comparison. He shuddered slightly, wishing that it had been some weird, elaborate hallucination instead of reality. Judging by how serious Jenna was being, though, he doubted his mind had made up the whole thing.
Strangely, that made him feel a little better. At least he knew he wasn’t going crazy.
She led him through the enormous house and into what looked like a den. Sitting on a leather sofa was Jenna’s father, Elijah. He knew the man only by reputation and what he read in the newspapers. Apparently, cutthroat businessmen were even afraid of the guy.
As soon as Drake entered the room, however, Elijah got up and walked over to him. He held out his hand.
“Drake Harper, I’m Elijah Bishop. It’s a pleasure to be in the presence of a real American hero,” he said.
A surge of anger hit Drake at the comment. He wasn’t a hero. The only thing that made him one was being the only survivor in a blast that had killed all of his fellow soldiers and friends.
“Been reading up on me, Mr. Bishop,” Drake said, his voice dry.
“I like to be aware of who my daughter brings home,” he replied casually. It was meant to be a joke, but Drake didn’t laugh.
“Why am I here?” he said instead.
“To the point, I see. I like that in people. Not many of your type left these days.” He gestured to a chair next to him and Drake sat down.
“Would you like anything to eat? Or something to drink?” Elijah asked.
Drake ground his teeth angrily, trying to quell his rising impatience.
“If you have something you want to talk about, talk. I wouldn’t waste your time and I would appreciate it if you didn’t waste mine.”
Jenna looked at her father, uneasy. He smiled reassuringly at her.
“Of course,” Elijah said. “You’ll have to excuse me. The nature of our conversation is somewhat delicate. I thought easing you into it would be more practical. I apologize.”
“What did I see tonight?” Drake asked. “I thought I was losing my mind, but the way you people have been acting is telling me that it was all real. Right?”
“I’m afraid so,” Elijah replied, his voice weirdly calm. “Humans have fought hard to make themselves believe that the monsters in the legends and myths of old are all fake, made up fairy-tales. It makes them feel better. My organization, for lack of a better word, was formed to take care of the things that prey on humans. We’ve been around for centuries.”
“Monsters are real?” Drake asked. He would’ve loved to disbelieve the man or to write him off as some eccentric millionaire, but the things he saw (and couldn’t stop remembering) were telling him that Elijah was speaking the truth. “And your organization fights them?”
“I belong to the Order of the Defaeco Knights, a very ancient sect of the Knights Templar. My daughter is one as well. We protect people, Mr. Harper. It is an old calling, but everyone that joins is dedicated to our mission,” Elijah explained. He looked very seriously at Drake. “You asked me if I’ve been reading up on you and you’re right. I have been. You were a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. You’ve received numerous commendations and medals, including a Purple Heart. You’ve done two tours of duty in Afghanistan, but during your last one, your platoon was caught by an IED. You were the only survivor. You were married, but during your first tour of duty, your wife was mauled and killed in an animal attack. Since returning to the States, you’ve held several different jobs but none of them for more than a week. You have no current address and, judging by your appearance when my daughter brought you here, no means to support yourself.”
“What exactly are you saying?” Drake asked. He was angry that this man knew so much about him, but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot he could do about it. He was angrier, however, at the fact that he brought up Lora. That was a wound that never stopped hurting and just hearing her name was enough to grind the knife in so deep it made it hard for him to breathe.
“You are a hero, Mr. Harper, whether you want to admit it or not. When the Wendigo attacked your friend tonight, you fought it. Not many people would do that. You have training. You have courage. You have everything we look for in a new recruit,” Elijah said. “I want you to join the Order.”
Drake looked from Elijah and then to Jenna. They were clearly serious about the proposal. He didn’t hesitate or waste any more time giving them his answer.
“No,” he promptly said.
He got up and started walking out the door.
“I’ll pay you back for the clothes,” he told them as he walked out of the room.
He was almost to the door when Jenna caught up to him.
“What are you doing?” she asked, angry. “My father is giving you a chance to make a real difference. You can change your life and you’re just going to throw that all away?”
He ripped his arm out of her grip and got right in her face.
“Why should I protect humans?” he shouted. “That thing I fought doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. Humans,” he laughed mockingly. “Humans are the worst monsters on this planet. Humans trick children into blowing themselves up. They will murder, rape, torture, or slaughter other people just for kicks. Why the hell should I try and save humanity? We’re a virus that won’t stop consuming and ravaging this world until nothing is left.”
He opened the door and was in the hallway.
Jenna spoke and he froze in place, listening to her.
“You’ve seen people do bad things and I’m sorry about that, but there is still hope for people. They are still good. They don’t deserve to be hunted and killed by things they have no protection against.”
Drake paused for a long time, thinking on her words. All the horrors he’d witnessed in his life seemed to jump into his mind, disgusting him even further. He remembered all the pain he’d been through. So much pain. Losing his wife, watching people do horrible things to each other, seeing his friends being killed ruthlessly, watching his platoon get blown up. All of it.
“Yes,” he replied, “they do.”
He walked away from her and didn’t look back.
That concludes this week's excerpt. Stay tuned next week and I will post some more. Thanks.
|Posted on February 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
Warden is the second Kevin Hardman novel that I read and while Sensation was an overtly super-hero infused novel with a lot of sci-fi elements thrown in (and the occasional mystical/magical elements), Warden is the complete opposite. It deals with the arkane and the supernatural. Magic and monsters galore. And it was pretty good, if you ask me.
The things that I liked:
First of all, definitely the magic. I have always been a huge fan of stories that involve magic. I liked the way Kevin used it in his novel. The background and the setting were also very rich and well developed. It really gave me an incredible picture in my mind that made the book even easier to fall into. I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, but he was definitely a stronger character by the end of the book. My favorite character in the novel (which is a weird one because he's actually not in it a whole lot) was the MC's older brother, Tom. He was a strong, able person that knew his stuff and used it ruthlessly to stay alive and survive. The other characters were good too, but Tom had something that really gave him a spark, shall we say. The Wendigo was also a pretty cool monster. This one was smart and cunning. And the combination of those two things with the fact that he was nearly indestructible made him a truly terrifying creature. I also liked how the monster was defeated (I won't go into any details but it was pretty awesome).
The things that I didn't like:
There were some things that I wasn't fond of when it came to Warden. As I mentioned before, I wasn't a huge fan of the main character. He was very whiny and complained a lot. That and the fact that he wasn't willing to really learn the skills he needed to stay alive were also a little annoying. I"m not saying that it wasn't good for the story, however. I think that was what Kevin was aiming for and he did pull it off, I just am not a big fan of those kinds of characters in general. So, it's not a dig on the book, it's just my rule of thumb for the whiny characters. I also wasn't a huge fan of the main evil doer in the book (again, I cannot go into details at this time). I thought that part of the book didn't really mesh well with the rest of the novel. It felt disconnected to me, like they were two halves of two completely different stories. I also think that the story needed the MC's brother a little bit more. He was a really strong character and even though it wouldn't make sense for the story, I still wish he would've been in it a bit more.
Overall, I did enjoy the story a lot. I'm a huge fan of that genre and I thought Kevin did a great job with it. There wasn't a whole lot that I disliked about it. I definitely enjoy Kevin Hardman's writing style and the stories he tells.
4 of 5 stars
You can buy this book here: