Friday, December 27, 2013

Excerpt: Gone World Episode Two (The Third Party)



The Third Party

BY A.ROSARIA

This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


THE THIRD PARTY

The sun, sending its rays to warm a decaying world, burned on his back and cast his shadow over the rubble terrain. Brick Johnson pondered the world he knew had ceased to be, the whole of humanity in its entirety. He stopped walking to rub the back of his neck. It was stiff and sore and not the only place his body hurt. Luckily he had no mirror to look at himself. The bruises, cuts, and dirt wouldn‘t make an uplifting sight to his already down mood.

Their last brigade got destroyed yesterday. He gritted his teeth at the thought of that night. It was an utter defeat, all death. His comrades-in-arms, his friends, were dead in minutes. He only survived because he ran. He balled his hands and looked over his shoulder, the sun rays blinding him. There was no point in going back; they would be waiting.

With each step he took, dust puffed up. Nobody knew how much nuclear waste was mixed into this dirt. Each step he took was more than likely killing him little by little. Looking ahead he saw a field of more rubble where once houses, factories, and other buildings had stood. A little farther down there were patches of dirt and charcoaled stumps of trees stretched out towards an incline. He was sure he would find more rubble beyond the slope, and if unlucky, a sentry, gun-mounted watchtower that would make minced meat out of him.

Looking up the incline, he ascertained the best path to take. He slung his rifle on his back, the belt crossed over his chest. The previous night he had packed light for the assault: standard issue desert fatigues, body armor strapped tight underneath his jacket, and a utility tool belt with ammo pouches and holster. The grade wasn‘t that steep and was manageable for him with his current load.
Dangling from his belt was his empty canteen. He smirked. At most he could go three days without water. While touching his blistered lips, he imagined the agony of dying of thirst. He unbuttoned his jacket to help his body cool down a little.

Brick checked if everything was still in place: half a dozen rifle clips tied together in pairs, his pistol snug in its holster, six more clips for his gun, three grenades, and his bowie knife in its scabbard.
His equipment was Army issue except for the body armor, which he bought himself, and his rifle. The body armor was the latest high-tech, civilian gear available, more advanced compared to what the Army had available for its grunts. Its fabric was made of a material that hardened on impact, but otherwise stayed malleable, and fitted snugly and light to the body. With his sergeant pay he could only afford the chest armor and not the complete body suit.

They had been loaded and stocked for an assault on a Russian base when they got ambushed. It shamed him that he did not even fire one shot; he just fled. The ambushers wore black, and bullets bounced off their armored truck. They came in quick, and it was over and done within mere minutes. Brick shook his head in a vain attempt to shake off the memory.

Climbing up the hill, huffing with each push and pull upwards, the energy seeped out of his body. Had he more food and water in him, he would have crawled up the incline in a heartbeat. Brick crawled over the ridge instead, licking the salty sweat on his blistered lips. It stung, but still felt uplifting, knowing he at least kept some fluids from leaving his body.

At the top, after a ten-foot stretch, it sloped steeply down. As far as the horizon, he saw tree stumps intermixed with patches of rubble where houses had been and roads had snaked the landscape. You could not tell if it was the Russo-Chino alliance that did the leveling or the Army. So many battles had happened that one couldn‘t know for sure. They were senseless battles in a senseless war to control a dying world.

They had destroyed his part of the world, while Russia and China only got partially scorched. After years of secret preparations, the sneaky bastards caught the world with its pants down in a surprise attack. It wouldn‘t stay like that for long; something more terrible was coming. However, the world he and everybody else knew was already gone.

He crept closer to the ridge, hugging the ground so as not to stick out and give any sniper a chance to blow his head off. He inched ahead, his rifle leading the way. The sun stood high just behind him, so it wouldn‘t reflect off his scope, but anyone looking in his direction would see him. He had to be fast, because soon the sun would shift and whoever was out there might spot him.

He quickly scanned the ridges and creases for life and saw none. What he did see was a former lake now filled with mud and a stone outcropping surrounding it. Beyond that, at the horizon, was a wall with sentry towers running a mile apart. A cloud drifted in front of the sun, casting the area in front of him in shadows. Slowly, it drifted away and released the light on the landscape. Something glistered far away. He swung his rifle up and pressed his eye against the scope. A Russian military vehicle was parked under a rock outcropping, hidden from view. It was a scout vehicle, looking for people like him. It was their bad luck he had found them first. Making as little noise as possible, he chambered a bullet.

He scanned the area in close proximity to the vehicle and found the body of a Russian soldier on the ground. Someone might have gotten to them before he did. Only one body, he thought, there had to be more. He looked again, but found nothing. He returned his attention to the vehicle. He couldn‘t see inside the slit in front because the sun reflected on the glass. Brick waited for a cloud to pass in front of the sun or for the sun to move past him. He wiped the sweat from his brow. If fluids kept draining from his body like this, he wouldn‘t last long. It was a good thing he might soon find water on the dead soldiers.

Shade fell over them. He saw some movement behind the slit. A dark face and eyes, a woman going by the shape of the eyes, probably a Cuban. Some of the bastards had stayed friends with the damn Russians even after the Cuban embargo got lifted in 2020. His trigger finger tensed.

 End Excerpt

Gone World Episode Two (The Third Party) is available at:



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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Preview: Nurse (Book Two in the Finitum Series)


FINITUM
NURSE

BY A.ROSARIA

Kindle Edition

This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


CHAPTER ONE

Linda looked up from her lap, staring ahead to nowhere in particular. He was talking, but she didn‘t hear what he was saying, only the sound of his baritone voice. It still sent pleasant chills up her body, though long gone were the days she cared much about what he had to say. Now it only managed to taint the pleasantness of his voice.
It had been six months since the accident and his miraculous rise from death, six months in which he had changed. The change had transformed their relationship in ways she never expected. Not only had he changed, but also she had changed along with him. The angrier he became, the more she stopped caring.
Faintly, she shook her head as he kept babbling.
John had grown distant, detached, and rage rooted deep in him, which made it difficult for him to relax. She didn‘t notice it at first, as happy as she was he was still alive. However, as the first few months had passed, she had become desperate for things to return to how they were. Now, she had moved on, and soon, she would have to decide what she would do.
“Linda.”
She kept staring, not answering him, as he approached her from behind.
“Linda!” he yelled.
She looked at his reflection in the window. He stood behind her, his left brow raised, his face a mask of annoyance. He nudged her shoulder, all gentleness left his touch.
“Hey, listen to what I‘ve got to say.”
She shrugged away from his touch and turned to face him. Her shoulders sagged, her chin dipped, and she furrowed her brow. “Sorry, I was thinking about work. We are getting a new temp, and I have to supervise her. It will be a busy day today.”
His nostrils flared. He sighed. She quickly stood and backed away from him, slowly raising her hands. She saw hurt in his eyes before he lowered his head, casting his gaze to the floor.
“I understand,” he mumbled. “I‘m sorry.”
She grabbed his hands, more out of reflex than caring, and squeezed them. “It‘s okay. What did you want to tell me?”
His eyes lightened and he smiled, a first this morning, a first in a long time. It tore her up that she couldn‘t answer his smile. He blurted out, “Dinner. Tonight. I have something important to tell you.”
“Can‘t you tell me now?”
“No, it has to be tonight!”
“All right, all right, tonight it is.”
“I have to go now, Mrs. Greenwich needs a package delivered.”
“Again?”
“Yes, it‘s been two weeks already since last time I went.”
“You do know it is going to rain today, right?”
He shrugged. “Maybe it will, maybe it won‘t. I‘ll see you at seven, at your place.”
The right hook of her mouth rose into half a smile. “Yeah, sure.”
He left. Once the door closed behind him, she fell on the sofa, covered her face with her hands, and sobbed. After a long while of weeping and trying to get all the sadness out, the feeling stayed that she was a caged animal unable to set herself free. She wiped her tears and sat for a minute in silence, staring at nothing while she worked up the strength to stand up and start her day.
Finally, she got up and went upstairs to her bedroom to change into her work clothes. She took out an old uniform–a dress ending above her knees. A play thing really. Nurses don‘t wear dresses like this anymore. She had lost weight, and now the dress hung loosely over her body. John liked watching her in uniform. Not anymore. Not ever again. She put it back and put on white trousers and shirt. They fit loosely around her body, but comfortable instead of ill fitting like the dress. An added bonus was it also hid her body, making her less attractive.
She went to the bathroom to get ready to go. As she brushed her teeth, she looked in the mirror. Her pale face matched the white of her nursing uniform. Under her almond eyes, she had a blue patch, and the luster had disappeared from her eyes a long time ago. The only bright thing about her was her hair, always a striking red.
She sighed, rubbed her eyes, looked at the clock, and grunted. “Running late again.”
She pulled her hair in a knot and smiled at the mirror. “Sexy vixen nurse turned strict school teacher.”
She laughed at her silliness. John and she used to joke around together, and they had fun together. Of course, since the accident, that had stopped. It didn‘t feel right bantering on her own; it was crazy. But, could anybody really blame her for going insane?
She hurried downstairs and out the door. The sun shone a yellow glow, hanging midair in a clear blue sky. As she walked to her car, she noticed a small dark cloud forming where there had been none before. One dark spot in an otherwise wholesome sight.
She reached her white sedan and noticed his bicycle leaning against the fence. He was going to take his time walking all the way. Knowing him, it meant he wanted time to think. Maybe he would find some tranquility and recover a little of his former self, though it was a little too late. No, he wouldn‘t change. No matter how much thinking he did, he wouldn‘t. She glanced at the cloud. It had grown larger. He was going to get wet.
Smiling, she opened the car door and sat behind the wheel. She turned the key in the ignition, and the radio sputtered on as the engine revved awake. To the beat of hard rock clamoring out of her car speakers, she drove out of her driveway and onto the road.
It was a fifteen-minute drive from home to work. She could make it blindfolded by now, having done it a thousand times since she took the job. Nearing an intersection, she turned to the right. In the rearview mirror, she saw a squad car gaining on her. It passed her, the lights flashing, but the siren was off. Linda frowned. Could it be him? He always waited to put the siren on until the last moment. She followed the squad car until it disappeared. After a short while, she heard a siren fade away.
She caught herself smiling in the rearview mirror and she blushed. It was wrong to like someone else, no matter how much her relationship with John was at an end. She couldn‘t deny her waning feelings for John, especially after what he did to her. Mr. Law Enforcement gave her the warmth she needed, something John had long denied. Her smile faded, and her face turned dark like the cloud in the sky. She needed to make a choice soon. Today.
The hospital rose over the buildings ahead, the big red H on top clearly visible. It was the only hospital in the vicinity, servicing the towns in the immediate area. It even had a helicopter pad on top for remote emergencies. The big H was supposed to function as some sort of a beacon for the pilots. She chuckled at the sight of it. Such a big, shining thing was hard to miss. However, it was there more for feeding someone‘s ego than any practicality, for it actually made it more difficult for the pilots to land on the roof. Some doctors were fond of it. It gave them some sense of belonging, especially Dr. Stevenson. He liked all things big and grand. He was a real bastard.
With her thoughts somewhere else, she drove up the hospital‘s driveway, not paying much attention because nobody ever crossed here. Out of the corner of her left eye, she saw a shadow moving. Her whole body tensed as she stepped hard on the brakes. The car screeched to a halt. A young, pale woman with long dark hair in a nursing uniform stood frozen in front of the hood. With large eyes, she stared at Linda. Slowly, her stare turned into a wretched look, and her charcoal eyes burned like embers in a hot fire. Their eyes locked, and the young woman‘s look softened and her body relaxed. Linda gasped for air, only now realizing she had forgotten to breathe since breaking. Linda had never seen her before–at work or in town.
She rolled down the car window. “I am sorry. I didn‘t see you.”
The young woman smiled at Linda. “Well, you did see me, or else I would be under or above your car. I‘m fine, so please don‘t worry about it.”
Linda returned the smile, already forgetting the ugly look the woman gave her before. “I‘m Linda.” Pointing at the woman‘s uniform, Linda asked, “Are you new here?”
“I‘m Amber, and yes, it is my first day.”
Linda opened the passenger door. “Come on in.”
Amber walked over to the other side; she floated with grace and agility. She stuck her head inside. “It‘s not far. I don‘t mind walking.”
“Are you the new temp?”
Amber nodded.
“Then I‘m the one supervising you, so we might as well stick together.”
Amber looked away, bit her lower lip, and took her place beside Linda. Once seated, she stretched her legs out. Amber‘s bare feet were covered in mud, as were the cuffs of her white pants.
“Where are your shoes?”
Amber glanced at her feet and smiled wryly. “I didn‘t bring them.”
“You mean you forgot to put them on?”
“Yes, I meant that.”
“On your first day?”
Amber eyes widened, and the words left her mouth slowly. “Yeah. Well, will it be a problem?”
Linda huffed. “Will it be a problem, she asks. Where have you been? Living in the woods or a cave your whole life?”
“How…?” She gulped in what she wanted to say. “No. I mean, no I don‘t live in the forest.”
“You can‘t go inside looking like that”
Amber cast her eyes down and stared at her feet, her lips twisted into a frown, and she kept silent. The whole ordeal made Linda feel uncomfortable. She was about to say something when they heard a loud honk. They jumped in their seats. Linda turned the ignition, and in her haste, she released the clutch too soon. The car jumped forward and the engine stalled. The driver behind them honked twice more. She fumbled with the keys and managed to start the car. When Linda drove away, Amber turned around and flipped the driver the finger.
“Jeez, Amber, are you planning to keep your job? That was Dr. Stevenson.”
She sped to the parking lot, drove up to the farthest end, away from the reserved parking spots the doctors and the hospital administration staff used. Once parked, she turned the engine off and stared straight ahead. Her day was getting worse by the minute. She glanced sideways at Amber. Her chin was down, her eyes closed, and she was mumbling something unintelligible.
“Don‘t worry about it,” Linda said.
Amber kept mumbling, eyes closed.
“I have a spare uniform and shoes I can lend you.”
Still, she didn‘t get a response. Linda touched Amber‘s arm. As if a bolt had struck her, Amber jerked up straight, eyes wide in panic. “Don‘t touch me.”
Startled, Linda put her hands up to ward Amber off. “What‘s up with you?”
Amber waved her hand as if to deny any wrongdoing. “Sorry, I didn‘t mean to do that. You startled me. I guess I‘m nervous about this all”
Linda opened the door. Cold, fresh air blew in the car as she stepped out. Amber did the same.
“Linda, I am really sorry. This is all new to me; please don‘t be angry.”
“I‘m not angry! I just didn‘t expect that. It‘s so random.”
Amber‘s cheeks turned a shade brighter. “Again, I apologize. I didn‘t mean to upset you.”
“It‘s all good; you‘re still alive, aren‘t you?” Linda popped the trunk open and took out her spare pants. They were like the ones she was wearing, only a duller white. “Catch.”
With both hands, in a quick smooth motion, Amber caught them from the air. Linda searched the trunk for the shoes. She was sure she left a pair in there somewhere. She found them under John‘s sport bag. She slammed the trunk shut.
“What are you doing?” Linda watched Amber bend over, showing her bare butt, about to pull the pants up. She stopped and glance over her shoulder to look at Linda with raised eyebrows.
“I‘m putting them on? Was I not supposed to?”
“Silly goose, not out in the open for everybody to see!”
Amber shuffled to the car door with the pants at her ankles. She stretched her hand to open it.
“Never mind that now. Pull the pants up.”
Amber stood motionless for a second before quickly doing as she was told.
“Here.” Linda handed her the shoes. Amber held them in her hands, turned them about, and looked inside them.
“Don‘t tell me you have never worn shoes before! Who are you?”
“Yes, I have!” She quickly put them on. “Thanks for everything, for being so kind to me.”
“You better be thankful. I don‘t even know why I‘m helping you. You are an odd one.”
“I am sorry about that,” Amber said, blushing.
“Stop saying you are sorry all the time. Hmm, the shoes are a bit big for you.”
Amber squatted down and started untying one noose.
“Don‘t do that.”
“But you said.”
Linda sighed and looked up to the sky for some sense but didn‘t find any. “Don‘t mind the shoes. It will be fine.”
Amber got up and touched Linda‘s hand. Her hand was soft, touching Linda gently, and sending a feeling of well-being up her arm and to the rest of her body. Linda staggered back. Who is she?
“Why do you feel bad?” Amber asked.
Linda took a step back. “Just like that, totally random, you ask me that?”
Linda walked away from the young woman. She shrugged the weirdness off and glanced over her shoulder. “Are you coming or not?”
Amber caught up to her in quick little strides. Fast, short, weird thing, Linda thought.
Close to the entrance, Dr. Rudolph Stevenson leaned against his station wagon, waiting for them. He was the chief coroner at the New Hope Hospital, middle-aged and balding. His slender wrists stuck out of the too-short sleeves of his doctor‘s coat. His eyes snaked over Amber, looking her up and down. Linda didn‘t like the look on his face, the way his eyes twinkled with a twisted joy, and that sleazy smile.
“The perv sure enjoyed it,” Linda mumbled.
“Enjoyed what?” Amber asked.
“Your sweet cheeks.”
“Oh. Hey, wait! It‘s the same guy that honked at us?”
“Yes, and a nice first impression you made on your first day. So please keep your cool.”
Amber planned to walk by him as if they had not seen him, but Rudolph stepped in their way. “Ladies.”
“Doctor,” Linda said.
Ignoring Linda, he looked at Amber with hungry eyes. A bulge grew at his crotch–a nauseating sight. Linda blamed herself for seeing that; her eyes shouldn‘t even be that low, but it stood out.
“Doctor, could you please step aside?”
He sneered at her. “Doctor who?”
“Stevenson could you move aside.”
“Dr. Stevenson.”
Linda smiled at him. “Yes, doctor.”
Amber stood on her toes and raised her mouth to Linda‘s ear. “Did you not just tell me to keep my cool?”
The doctor‘s nose flared as he addressed Amber. “Missy, I‘m standing right here.”
“Don‘t call me missy! I am old enough to be–”
“Girl, do you know who you are talking to?”
Amber rolled her eyes. “Yes, I do.”
“Then show me some respect.”
Amber raised her shoulders. “Why should I? I don‘t like you.”
Rudolph patted his puffed out chest with his right hand. “Because I‘m a doctor.”
“I know. So? I still don‘t like you.”
Rudolph‘s face turned red as he spat out the words. “I‘m a doctor, you hear me! A doctor!”
He poked her chest between her breasts. “You are just a nurse, a new one at that too. You are a nothing. That‘s what you are. Nothing.”
Amber wiped his spit from her face. Her smirk faltered and went over into trembling lips, so did her hands. The hair on Linda‘s arms rose up; it felt as if an electric charge was building in the air around them. She had a bad feeling about what was about to happen. She pulled Amber behind her.
“Doctor, that is no way to talk to a coworker.”
“It‘s you and that finger-flipping bitch that needs to watch their tone.”
His pointing finger came dangerously close to poking Linda‘s breast. Linda slapped his hand away. “You touch me, and I will break that finger. Understood, doctor?”
Amber peeked from behind Linda. She looked up from her brows with moist eyes. “I didn‘t flip you the finger. How dare you say that.”
He looked from the one to the other and rested his eyes on Amber. As he stepped back, he pointed a shaking finger at Amber while making sure he was out of their reach. “Yes, you did. I saw you.”
Amber stepped from behind Linda and raised her head defiantly. “Prove it.”
“My word counts more than yours around here. I‘m going to report you. You can kiss that job of yours goodbye.”
Linda laughed. She winked at Amber. “I also didn‘t see anything happen, and I will testify if needed.”
“You can‘t do that.”
“Yes, I can. Now move aside, doctor.”
She took Amber by her hand and shoved Rudolph aside. Flabbergasted, he watched them walk away. His bulge deflated.


CHAPTER TWO

“Lucretia!”
The old hag, old only in age, looked at her reflection in a mirror. The frame was of nice smooth polished human bones, with carved quartz and gemstones inlayed.
“Lucretia!”
The stones emitted a yellow-orange glow. She admired her reflection: her smooth, pale skin, her narrow nose, her almost black eyes, and her thick, long black hair shining with health. Above all, she cherished her youthful, yet still mature, appearance. A youth not her own, nor hers alone. She may look in her late twenties, but her real age spanned many lifetimes. She smiled, barring her teeth, which were pointier than most.
“Lucretia!”
Sound came from the mirror. Her reflection blurred and transformed into another face, the face of a younger woman in both appearance and age. Like herself, she had pale skin, long black hair, and dark eyes.
“High Sorceress, you called?”
“How are the preparations going?”
“We have all the ingredients for the spell. The old one is on her way; the succubi are with her. The church is ready for us, and I turned the priest.”
“Turned?”
A vile, animalistic smile formed on Lucretia‘s face. “Yes, he is wild now.” She licked her black lips while her eyes burned a steamy fire. “I like them wild.”
The High Sorceress frowned. “Enough, child!”
Lucretia‘s face turned stoic like that of an old Greek goddess, long dead. “My apologies, High Sorceress.”
“And?”
“High Sorceress?”
“Is that all you have to report?”
Lucretia‘s eyes widened for a split second. “Yes.”
“What about the sacrifice!”
“Oh, her.”
“Yes, her!”
“She wanted to explore the town and experience life.”
“What! She will experience life enough through me. Why did you not stop her?”
Lucretia cast her eyes down and kept silent.
“Bah, of course you couldn‘t. She is more powerful than you ever will be.”
Lucretia nodded. “Yes, she made that clear to me.”
“So you tried and failed. Good girl. At least you have that going for you.”
The High Sorceress laughed. Lucretia lips thinned to a stripe in response. “We will get her back.”
“No! Never mind her. She knows her place. She will return in time.”
“Are you sure of that? She is unpredictable.”
“Are you telling me that I am wrong?”
The High Sorceress stretched her arm, finger pointed at the image of Lucretia. Lucretia‘s pupils widened. She fervently shook her head. The sorceress mumbled ancient words, vile, dark, not-to-be-spoken words. They filled the room with their resonance; black energy came free all around them. Lucretia grabbed her throat. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. Air wouldn‘t come in despite her effort to breathe.
The High Sorceress balled her hands into fist. Lucretia wheezed. Slowly, the High Sorceress released her fist. Air poured again in through Lucretia‘s throat to her lungs. For a minute longer, she breathed heavy before she collected herself and bowed her head. “I was wrong to doubt you, my High Sorceress. Please forgive me. I‘ll never do it again.”
“You better not, and let this be a lesson to you. I am never wrong.”
“Yes, mistress.”
“We command you to be gone now.”
The sorceress waved her hands, and again she could admire her fleeting beauty.
The time had come for a renewal, however inconvenient the timing. It would be worth it, because this time the sacrifice would do for eons to come while most only lasted a few decades. It was difficult to fathom such a source of power existed in one being, one who, in time, could equal the power they had together as many.
With the sacrifice, her power may become supreme, enough to vanquish an undead with the ease of kicking a puppy to death. She had one particular undead in mind, one who she would love to use this power on once she gained it. It would send a warning to the others, that there was a new superior force in the world to contend with, and maybe she‘d become the supreme being. They would see; they all would soon see, and not long after, the world would be covered in darkness and those now living in light would see.
***
Lucretia stared at the wall where the image of the one of many appeared moments before. She massaged her throat; it still felt sore. She closed her eyes and projected in her mind the power of nature.
“Oh, nature, listen to me, grant me your power to heal against those who wronged me. Goddesses, aid me in my need, no matter how undeserving I am, for nature is the power to heal all, even those like me.”
Her hands buzzed with energy. It soothed her throat, and the burning sensation subsided though the pain lingered. The power of nature, or better, her command of it, wasn‘t enough to counteract the dark power inflicted on her. It didn‘t help either that she was a creature of the night, though a long time ago things were different. A look of longing passed over her face. She tore herself away from the thoughts forming about a life long gone, one she couldn‘t possibly ever return to, bound as she was to this fate she carved out for herself. She sighed. Today had been the second time she had to heal herself. Because of what she was–and also the reason her fate was tarnished–she could regenerate, but that would take time she didn‘t have.
“Me and my mouth. One day it will be the end of me.”
She stood in the church, facing the cross and Jesus Christ nailed on it. His eyes fixed on her countenance. She slipped out of her black dress. Defiantly, she pushed her chest forward, her breasts dangling together with her perky, dark nipples. “You liked it, didn‘t you?”
Her laugh howled an echo in the near-empty church. “I did your priest on your altar, and did you help him? Did you smite me down with your righteous wrath?”
Moving swiftly like a breeze in the evening, she approached the altar and caressed the top. She closed her eyes and channeled her powers. With the sharp nail of her middle finger, she scratched her left breast. Blood dripped on her finger. The air around her filled with a magnetic charge. She stretched both arms out toward the statue, her palms facing forward. She mumbled words, dark words not fit for this world. The statue crumbled. She closed her hands into a fist and howled. Jesus exploded into a cloud of dust and clay, and fell broken on the floor. She twisted her left hand. The big cross turned upside down, and she rested it on the floor. Sweat ran down her naked body while she breathed heavily between laughs.
She felt relieved over the work she had done, the tension gone from her. She wobbled to the door on the left. “Priest!”
A growling from behind the door greeted her. “It‘s time for service.”



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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Weird


A man making a deal with the devil to get his dead wife back. A ghostly co-worker haunting the office. Two spooked cops at a roadblock. A funeral like no other. A detective investigating a missing person report might go missing herself. One man pondering about life and death with his finger on the trigger. A man returning home after dropping his family at the airport finds his home haunted. Whips and shackles are not the only ways to enslave; there is another way, a mystical way, the zombie way.

These are peculiar and scary stories in THE WEIRD, a collection of seven dark and strange tales.


Table of contents:

Red Impish Demon
Ghost Worker
Zombie Scare
Death’s Given Chance
Absentis
What to Live For
Soul Eviction
Zombie Slave


Available at ($2.99):



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Monday, November 11, 2013

Newest book cover I made

Book cover for The Weird, a short story collection of the weirdest short tales I written. Disturbing, strange, and somewhat gruesome tale. Got one with a little macabre humor in it. Non intended humor. I do not write humor. I write horror, however sometimes what I write is humorous. Can't help it. We all got humor. Even in the bleakest of life we got humor, disturbing it might be.

The new book cover.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Renewed book cover Gone World: Revenge

 UPDATE: I decided to use one cover for the whole series and it's not this one, I'll use it for something else. The new cover for the gone series will be this one:


Been at it for a while, though not a long while. I only touched up the previous cover and put up new fonts. The title is now more readable.

Old Cover:




New Cover:






I learned a lot about cover design these last few weeks. It is more difficult to make a great cover than it seems. You can quickly put one up, but that is no guarantee it will be good. It's easier to make book covers from templates, but you must make sure the template is great else all will inherit its design flaws.

I still need to do a little bit of fine tuning before I get these covers out in the wild.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Update: Book Cover

I just finished another book cover for my Gone World series. It took me a week to get it together. I had to use a model this time, for I had trouble finding a good picture of a woman with her back turned.

This is the old one:


It isn't my best made cover. You can't read the title nor the author name, a rookie mistake, a mistake I'm correcting now.

New one:

 
The title and author name are readable. At the horizon some ominous bright light is visible and a young wounded woman stumbles toward it. I think it's better than the previous one.

I'm now working on the third book cover. I'll post it soon, most likely tomorrow.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Possible new cover for my Gone World series.

UPDATE: I decided to use one cover for the whole series and it's not this one, I'll use it for something else. The new cover for the gone series will be this one:



This weekend I played a little with Gimp and Inkscape. I made a new cover for my Gone World series. The old one I think wasn't bad, but it obviously wasn't good enough to generate enough sales.

I made this one this weekend. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to use this one or make another one. Tell me what you think.




Did some retouching:


Saturday, October 5, 2013

At Arms: A vampire short story collection

Out right now!


Five tales of a high-born family and their retainers struggling against the curse of vampirism.

The Dark Wanderer - Two knights escort a young woman through a forest infested with wild beasts.

Though wild beasts will be the least of their worries.

Damnation - Lady Christine D'Ang goes against her father wishes and leaves the castle in search of a young man she fallen smitten for.

Accosted by a knight she flees and by chance meets an eccentric stranger.

Outcast - Lady Lyna D'Ang lives a sheltered and privileged life at castle Perring along with her siblings. This quickly ends when darkness descends upon the castle.

Ambos Thorne - Ambos Thorne, a renowned warrior, is faced with superstitious beliefs and orders that make little sense to him. He arrives at a cross road where he has to make a choice.

James Farmer - Tired and desperate, James, a farmhand, is chasing a heavily armed group transporting a woman.

Bonus Story: Death's Given Chance - A man on his way to a funeral battles with his own dark
thoughts about life being worth living.

A chance meeting will change his life forever.

A collection of short stories of 31000 words or approx. 124 print pages altogether, set in the Man-at-Arms and Maiden-at-Arms universe.


Available at:
GooglePlay
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pre-Order: At Arms


Five tales of a high-born family and their retainers struggling against the curse of vampirism.

The Dark Wanderer - Two knights escort a young woman through a forest infested with wild beasts.

Though wild beasts will be the least of their worries.

Damnation - Lady Christine D'Ang goes against her father wishes and leaves the castle in search of a young man she fallen smitten for.

Accosted by a knight she flees and by chance meets an eccentric stranger.

Outcast - Lady Lyna D'Ang lives a sheltered and privileged life at castle Perring along with her siblings. This quickly ends when darkness descends upon the castle.

Ambos Thorne - Ambos Thorne, a renowned warrior, is faced with superstitious beliefs and orders that make little sense to him. He arrives at a cross road where he has to make a choice.

James Farmer - Tired and desperate, James, a farmhand, is chasing a heavily armed group transporting a woman.

Bonus Story: Death's Given Chance - A man on his way to a funeral battles with his own dark
thoughts about life being worth living.

A chance meeting will change his life forever.

A collection of short stories of 31000 words or approx. 124 print pages altogether, set in the Man-at-Arms and Maiden-at-Arms universe.

You can pre-order this book ($2.99) at:
Indigo
Kobo
Smashwords



Friday, September 20, 2013

Simple e-book covers for the budget minded people. (Could use some advise)

In 2008 I started on my first novel and it took me about two years to finish. I needed an e-book cover and lacked the cash to hire someone to make one. I had no idea how to make a cover myself, however it didn't stop me from trying, and the very first one I made was terrible. I think I used paint to make it. It was really, really horrendous, so I deleted it from the physical plane but it's still etched in my retina. Not long after that horror I discovered Gimp. I played around with it and finally after some trail and error and with the help from online tutorials I made this book cover:


Since then I pulled the novel, because it was a grammatical mess (even after a paid edit), and this year I rewrote the story and got it edited. I changed the cover into this:




I like to keep my book covers simple and often take my time to get it the way I want it. Though I have made book covers in less than 30 minutes, like the one bellow.




Others take more time to complete, because I make more than one version and sometimes I make an additional separate version for the physical book. Like bellow for my upcoming short story collection.

E-book:

Print Book:


I'm thinking about designing book covers for other writers. My target audience are those who need an affordable, simple custom made cover, and who are in need of a quick turnaround. However I'm not so sure about how much to ask for, being I don't want to ask too much because I'm far from a pro, but I can't ask too little because I'm not a novice either.

What I offer:

Custom made e-book cover. (Photo retouching/Editing)
Turnaround of within a week.
Low price. (Probably $25)
Major revising for additional cost.
Final file will be in Jpeg or converted in PDF. (In whatever desired resolutions)

What I need:

The client needs to provide their own stock photos.
Payment in advance and through PAYPAL.


Do you think $25 would to be a great price? Is asking $25 for a major revision too much? Or would it be better also to ask $50 for the book cover including two revision options?

I can also make print book covers, however it requires much more work. (Front, Back, and Spine) Should I also be offering this? And at which price would it be acceptable? Would $75 for the book cover with an additional $50 for two revisions be a good price?

I can only do a limited amount of covers each week, being I've got a day job, and I'm writing short stories in between, and coming November I'll be participating in Nanowrimo. I think two covers a week would be a doable limit.

I'm looking forward to what your guys have to say. :D

***
UPDATE
***

Made a book sample book cover. I tried my hand at Romance. Later today I'll try to post more.


Gotz another one



Saturday, August 31, 2013

Violence, violence, and more Violence!


Violence: A Writer's Guide by Rory Miller


We all know violence of some sort, some at a higher level than others. Anyone who fought, or had to deal with violence know it's not pretty, however most won't be able to put it in perspective. This book will help understand violence, the how and why of it.

This book is great for anyone, not only writers. The information about violence will dispell any notion that fighting/battle is something honorific to do. It will make clear how dirty, messy, violence really is. People reading this will come out with a new view of life. It will open eyes that not all in this world is nice and clean. That the wars we see on television, detached and far, with these surgical strikes with cruise missiles, and drone strikes, that in reality these are not clean, surgical, but horrendous, and messy things. People die horrific deaths, us not seeing it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

It will help writers write more realistic fights and battles. It will give an edge to their writing, making it more gritty and graphic. Not necessarily good for every story, violence depicted as it really is makes for a bleak and random world. There is no romance in battle. If you're writing a heroic romantic epic, you might not want to be too realistic and instead put more fiction in your fights and turn down the violence in the fictitious world.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Cover: At Arms a short story collection.

I'm working on putting a collection of short stories together. Five short stories in the Man-At-Arms and Maiden-At-Arms universe. I might also add a bonus story. I'm thinking about Ghost Worker or Death's Given Chance.

I just finished the book covers for the ebook and the paper book.

E-Book:

Paper Book:


The Medieval Armor & Weapons Decorative Graphic I got from http://www.vintagevectors.com/ and it's made by Eric Fritz. Big props for the great design and offering his work for use.


Now I only need to format the e-book, paper book, decide the order to put the stories in, and decide which bonus story to add. With a little luck I may be done in a week or two.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: The Demon King of Bergher (Harbinger of Doom)



 The Demon King of Bergher by Glenn G. Tather


This is short review for a short story I just finished reading.

It's a fantasy/horror story in a fantasy world setting with dwarves, elves, etc, etc, about Lord Torbin Malvegil and the events surrounding a demon king visiting his chambers and leaving him a gift. The story is written in the first person point of view of Lord Torbin Malvegil.

I'll start with saying I'm not a great fan of the first person POV, but it was bearable in this story. I had more problem with the telling, it felt like reading clumps of info dumps. It may be necessary for the story, but I rather it was done more subtle or toned down.

It's a good thing Glen G. Tather can write well, because despite the story being a whole lot of telling it still conveys an image and a sense of its own character, and in the portions where there is actually something happening it was even an exciting read. I rather had more of those moment and less lore, though I'm sure there are readers out there who would not mind this abundance of lore.

 Did I like The Demon King of Bergher? I sort of did and sort of didn't.

Like is said, I liked the story once it got moving, but I disliked it when it didn't. If it was a novel I probably wouldn't have finished it, but as a short story it's bearable. If you like fantasy, with a descriptive back story, and slow reading, this story certainly is for you. If you are more like me, who love less description, and the back-story takes second place to a fast pace, then you might have to reconsider it.


This short story is available at Amazon.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Under the Dome



Under the Dome by Stephen king.

It's been a while since I read a story of his. I don't know, somehow after his accident he changed his voice, and I couldn't get so much into his stories since then. So I've stuck to (re)reading those he wrote before that time. But as time passed, I've grown a little older, and my wants changed, so I was ready to try a new novel of his. With the TV-show being made, and intrigued by it enough to want to watch it, I wanted to read the book first. It took me about two months to finish the read.

The story was long, overtly long to say, but because Stephen King is Stephen King, he can write in a way that will make it bother you less than if someone else wrote it. His voice is entertaining, and I've felt more of the old King in this story. However the story in itself was not great, it's the storytelling which made it an entertaining read, despite it being overtly long.

I've read reviews trashing the ending and I can uderstand many not liking it, though I thing the story couldn't have had any other ending. Weird and unnerving as it was, the ending might not sit very well with many people, mainly because it gave out a sense of total powerlessness. I think people wanted the feeling of empowerment instead, but that isn't what the story was about.

I liked reading Under the Dome. I liked the way Stephen King told the story. I liked the ending.

You can't go wrong with this novel if you like Stephen King's writing.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

UNDEAD (FINITUM #1)



Description:

A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.

Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out fresh meat to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.




E-book available at:

GooglePlay
Amazon 
Ibooks
Kobo 
Barnes & Noble


Print book available at:

Createspace 



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Createspace: Undead (Finitum #1) available

I just approved the proof for Undead (Finitum #1) and it's now available at Createspace for $13.99. The planned price would be $14.95 but I decided to offer it at a lower price for the first month it's out.



Description:

A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.


Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out innocent prey to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 31st Sale at Smashwords

On smashwords on July 31th, I got a sale running. You can get my novel Dead Quarantine 75% off and Death Shelter at 25% off. Some of my short stories are 100% off.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269728
 
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Preview: Undead (Finitum #1), first chapter.

FINITUM

UNDEAD

BY A.ROSARIA


This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


CHAPTER ONE

John took the farmhouse in before going through the fence gate. It wasn‘t a huge house, big enough for a small family, a typical 1900‘s turn-of-the-century pine wooden house, painted white. He liked looking at it; it was quite the picturesque view with the tall trees a distance away and the mountains farther yet with their snow-covered peaks.

Mrs. Greenwich sat in her rocking chair on the porch waiting for him. He had promised to deliver a package to her brother, a recluse who lived in a cabin about two to three miles into the forest. John expected to be done with the delivery before sunset and be home for his diner date with Linda.
It wasn‘t the best paying job ever, and it was something Mrs. Greenwich could easily do herself, being she was still active and in good health for her age, and the distance wasn‘t that far. He wasn‘t really complaining. He didn‘t mind doing the job—he needed the money after all—and he loved walking in the forest. He just thought it weird that she didn‘t go herself, because she once promised her long-dead husband to never go near her brother again. Why obey someone who was dead? And not see your only brother because of that promise made long ago. It wasn‘t his place to judge. In a way he admired her loyalty; he didn‘t often see someone taking it that far to honor someone else.
Mrs. Greenwich tapped a cheerful rhythm on the package rested on her lap. There was happiness in the way she sat there, like she expected something nice that day. She was always nice, be it a reserved formal kind of niceness; however, today she had a reddish glow about her.

As John opened the fence gate, he grinned at her. "Good day, Mrs. Greenwich, a lovely day isn‘t it."
Mrs. Greenwich stood up from her rocking chair and put the long cardboard box on the seat. “Hello to you, young man.” She smiled at him, pointing at the gray sky. “But how in the world can you call this foul weather lovely?”

“It‘s nice enough for a stiff walk in the park.”

Her voice trembled with a mock sternness, her eyes glittered, and she smiled. “Nice weather for a stiff walk, you say. Honey, if not for my brother expecting me to send him this”—she pointed at the cardboard box sitting on her old rocking chair—“I would spare you the trouble with this weather.”
“Don‘t you worry; I‘m not made of sugar. A little rain won‘t harm me.”

“Joke all you want, but it won‘t be just a little rain. It could turn real nasty, at least according to the forecaster.”

John climbed up on the porch and took the box from the rocking chair. It was heavier this time. He looked up at the old lady. “Nine out of ten times their predictions don‘t come true. Though, in all honesty, I think they might be right this time.”

John rested the box against his shoulder, and like a soldier parading a rifle, he stepped off the porch. “I‘ll be going now, Mrs. Greenwich.”

“Bye, John. Don‘t forget to tell my brother that the next package will be at the same time in two weeks.”

“I‘ll do that.”

“And watch out for yourself.”

John waved goodbye and left her standing on the porch as he walked toward the tree line. With his date in mind, he increased his pace. He wanted to get this over with and return to Linda.

The sun was high in the sky but not much light came down to earth through the clouds, which filtered the light and cast everything in a dull gray. A clearing led to the dirt path into the forest. He watched as darkness crept over the field and into the forest. He was sure that the weather would get worse, and if he was delayed more than an hour, he would end walking back in near darkness. John wished he had taken a flashlight with him. It would be hard to find his way back without one. A vain popped at his temple as a curse escaped his lips.

Maybe he should turn back and ask Mrs. Greenwich if she could spare him a flashlight, but that would waste time, and he wasn‘t even sure if she had one to spare. No, he would be better off asking Lucas, Mrs. Greenwich‘s brother. He certainly would lend him a flashlight, or one of his antiquated oil lanterns; he had more than enough to spare.

John shook his head. Time was ticking and worrying wouldn‘t move him forward. He wasn‘t even sure anything would go wrong, and why would it today when all the other times nothing had happened? John followed the path into the forest while behind him the shadows crept after him.
He loved the way the tall, thick trees rose up, aiming their branches filled with dark green leaves to the sky, and he loved the sound the wind made rustling through the leaves. Usually, this scene would sooth him. The green plants, the flowers, the sound of the small furry forest animals. Any other day it would make this picture complete. His own personal Zen moment, the one moment of calm in the raging storm called his life. He looked forward to being alone, just him and the forest. It was his chance to contemplate where his life was taking him, but today the forest was not the usual beautiful creation of nature. His moment of tranquility was denied by the gray, which draped everything in a lifeless shade. The weather was to be blamed for this. What else could it be? It must be the dark clouds swallowing the light. However, despite being sure it was the weather and nothing else, a feeling of unease passed over him. It disturbed him that the sound of life was sucked out of the forest, leaving him in utter silence.

The joyous walk of blissfully contemplating tranquility turned into a thirty-minute walk of gloom that seemed to last an eternity. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear, not even the fresh smell of green nature. There was only the path to follow, and with every passing second the shadows gained on him.
With nothing else to keep his mind preoccupied, he noticed every discomfort he had: the stress on his knees with each step he took; the weight on his feet pressing painfully on his soles; the sheer weight of his backpack on his shoulders; and the long package sticking out of his backpack, making it cumbersome to walk with, and him afraid that it could fall out at any time and break. It was unbearable not being able to take his mind off the mundane.

His mood worsened. The little joy he had left in his body was drained by the lifelessness surrounding him. Why did it turn out like this on this day of all days? He just wanted the sun, some light to shine on his life—a life that had been dark ever since he had that accident that almost killed him six months ago. The recovery, the stress it created between him and Linda, he didn‘t know if he could stand another string of six months like that. Today, he hoped to turn things around for the better and go back to the way it was before.

John noticed a faint light ahead. Some of the tenseness left his muscles. He was about to see another living, breathing human being, and no matter how eccentric he was, it was a welcome sight. Finally, he would escape the silence.

***

E-book available at:

Amzon
Kobo 
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Print book available at:

Createspace 


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Setting a price to UNDEAD

I planned to sell Undead (Book 1 in the Fintum series) for $4.99, being that the books in the series run around 80k words. However, Undead being the first book runs at 67k which is short of the 80k I aimed for, so I've been in dubio if I should price it at $4.99. Nurse, the second book runs around 85k words and the third one I'm still writing will also be around (if not more) the 80k words. The more I write in this series, the more I have to tell, it's becoming an expansive world. The first three books will only brush the beginning of a much larger story.

I want to keep a pricing uniformity to the series. I don't want to have different prices within the series because one has more pages than the other.

To offset the first one not being over 80k words in size, I plan to set the price at $3.99 for the first month, and after that I'll change it to $4.99. The print book will run for $14.95. And as the series continue I will keep this structure, the first month on release will be $3.99 and after $4.99, even for the ones with more pages.

This way I also reward those who buy my book early and keep taps on my stories, they get to have them for $1 less. ;)



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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Updata: Undead (Finitum #1)

If all things go according to plan, I will publish my novel Undead (Finitum #1) on the first of august 2013.

I've got the e-pub files ready for Smashwords, Draft to Digital, Kobo, and Amazon. The book cover is ready. I've yet to proof the print book at createspace, but hope to have it finished by time of release.

This is the blurb I'm going to use:



A routine delivery becomes a night of terror.


Before meeting up with his girlfriend, Linda, John Lone must deliver a package to a secluded cabin deep in the forest. No problem, he's made this trip a hundred times.

But things have changed...

Supernatural creatures now stalk the forest and beyond, seeking out innocent prey to devour. John must fight for his life. Does he have the skills--the time--to get back to his safe life and his girlfriend? Linda is his one chance for a happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale.





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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Preview: Outcast (Maiden-At-Arms #1)




MAIDEN-AT-ARMS

OUTCAST

BY A.ROSARIA


This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer‘s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


OUTCAST

Lyna‘s eyes fluttered open to what seemed to be the ceiling. She couldn‘t distinguish the lush design and artisan workmanship she so liked to wake up to any other day. With her vision blurred, she saw only smudges, dark smudges on the otherwise meticulously white ceiling. It didn‘t help that the only light came from a torch casting the room in a yellowish tint, with shades dancing over the walls with every breeze passing through the torch‘s flame. She must still be in bed, woken from the bad nightmare she had. She couldn‘t remember what it was; only that it had frightened her. She still felt clammy from the sweat and a certain numbness she ascribed to suddenly waking up.

She blinked to clear her vision. Lightheadedness befell her. Lyna squinted. A burning feeling started at her left cheek, a light throbbing pain. She brought her fingers to her cheek, lightly touching the skin with the tip of her fingers. Wet. Had she fallen? The pain she felt throbbing at her cheek increased, and she could now feel the hard stone beneath her. She lay on the ground, not the soft cushion of her bed.

Something dripped on her forehead. Cold. It was very unlikely water leaking from the ceiling–above was no roof just another of the many rooms in the castle. She opened her eyes; the ceiling swam above her. Lyna pulled up and immediately slammed back down, crying out in pain. She gritted her teeth and brought a trembling hand back to her cheek; this time she cupped it with the palm of her hand. Her cheek throbbed. She cried out and saw white for a moment. Her skin felt raw, torn, and each touch, no matter how light, was painful. Having had a protected life so far, she never felt this kind of pain, any pain really but for the occasional bumping of her knee.

Lyna looked up at the ceiling. The blurred smudges slowly turned into spatters of blood. The blood dripped down on her. So much blood, she thought. Claudette. Aaron. She turned her head to her right. She gasped. A pressure built in her chest that didn‘t allow her to breathe. Dazed, she stared at her little brother‘s severed head. His eyes were wide open, white with terror; any hint of life left in them was long gone. The edges around his neck were raw, torn. His head had been ripped off and not cut clean by a sword.

When Lyna finally breathed out, the air exploded out in a moan of anguish. What had happened rushed back to her in a flash. The demon had soared through the air, and with one swipe of her claws, she had severed Aaron‘s head. Claudette had charged the monster, a knife in her hand, screaming her brother‘s name. Lyna turned her head to her left. Her eldest sister lay crumbled and broken on the floor. It flashed in front of her, the demon had pierced Claudette‘s chest with her claw and tore her still-beating heart out. The demon had crushed it, the meat and blood seeping through her claw-like fingers. Next the demon had pulled the knife Claudette had managed to stab her with out of her chest. Demon blood had spurted Lyna‘s face and she couldn‘t help swallowing some.

Lyna remembered she had no time to gag or spit the blood out. The demon had bore down on her, swinging with her claws. Lyna had staggered back, but its nail had cut deep into her belly, slashing stripes of cloth and skin. Lyna had looked in disbelief at the demon. Her own sister, Christine. She had scratched Lyna‘s face. The nails had carved her cheeks open, and the force of the blow had knocked her down. Christine had stood over her, a twisted smile on her face, glaring down at Lyna.
She had kicked to get away from Christine, but all strength had left her body. Bleeding profusely, she could only watch, helplessly waiting for the last blow to end her life. It didn‘t come. Christine‘s face had fallen into a blank stare and she had started chanting instead. She had whispered words in Latin that Lyna didn‘t fully understand, but they had made her skin crawl in disgust. Just as sudden as Christine had started, she stopped. Soon after, Lyna had heard banging on the heavy oak door. Men barged in and escorted Christine out. Not one of them had noticed her bleeding on the floor or her brother and sister‘s dead and mutilated corpses. They walked inside as if Christina was the only one in the room. Lyna had called out for help, but they had ignored her as if she was long gone, dead for ages. She had screamed and kept screaming until she passed out.

It all came back to her. Now not only the pain burned, but also something else. It festered at her heart, spreading through her body and pushing back the pain. She crawled up and stood unsteady on her legs, her head dizzy. She gritted her teeth. With each awkward step she took, her body hurt. Under her breath, she swore revenge for the death of her sister and brother. With each sting of her cheek she knew more and more that life as she knew it was over. Eadric, the young knight she fancied, wouldn‘t want her now, damaged as she was. She had been doubly wronged by her sister; she had destroyed those she loved most and her future with the man she adored. At least she still had her father.

In her bloodied gown, she limped out of the room. Dirtied with blood, her long black hair fell over her shoulders. Her pale face stood ghastly out in the darkness. Her hollow eyes darted from side to side. Anyone who saw her would be alarmed, and help would come if not for that the arched hallway was dark and empty. Any sound she would normally expect was not there. She struggled through the hallway to the other side to her father‘s chambers. She didn‘t visit her father often. It was never a social call, nor would today be one. Today would be worse, much worse. She knocked. On the other side came no answer. Lyna cried out her father‘s name. She yelled for help. The tears burst out; she couldn‘t hold them back anymore. Her whole body trembled. Lyna dropped to the floor, clawing the door and hitting it with her fist. The tears kept coming.

She sat like this for a long time. No one came to help her. With some difficulty, biting the pain back, she got up. Every step she took, she felt her body drain of energy. She wanted to just collapse, to give up, and to have things be as they were. She wanted see her brother and sister‘s faces and Christine‘s. She pushed her feet to take another step until she saw light burning ahead. The wind carried many voices her way. She stood still, listening. She heard the distinct, heavy voice of her father. The weight of the black tidings she had to tell him burdened her. How was she to tell him how Christine, his own daughter, had slaughtered his other children, his favorites? By their own blood, they had died, she herself almost died. Her tears streamed. She wiped them away. With bloodshot eyes, she arrived at the arch and then continued to the castle‘s audience room.

Armored men, knights stood in front of her father, the lord of the castle, listening to the orders he barked at them. She saw that her Eadric stood among them, his chest puffed up, full of resolve. Her heart skipped a beat. She prayed to God that he would not turn his back on her, that he would help her through this ordeal. The knight he was surely would. Maybe he wouldn‘t be there in love, but as a friend instead. That was the least he would do. That thought made her feel as if a light lit within her, easing the burden of delivering the dark message she had. She walked toward her father‘s throne. The room hushed and all eyes drifted to her, most of all her father‘s. Grim faces stared at her.

Her father stretched a pointing finger at her. “Seize her.”

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