Millie had created something dark, and she liked it. She approved of the darkness. She embraced it as she would her own mother.
She herself was dark. She knew this fact. She did not dispute it. She acknowledged it. She celebrated it.
She looked down from the open stairway landing that she stood upon. From that vantage point, she could see the entire space below her. And she marveled at what she had created there. She gazed down through the gothic stair rails at the environment that she had created.
What she had created was an invitation for the dead and those living who wished to commune with them. Only candles illuminated what she had created. Only candlelight was pure enough to light her world.
She looked down on the flame-lit scene and smiled. Bathed in the light was a table, circular, but not quite a circle. It had five sides equal in length, a perfect pentagon.
Each side had a chair pulled up to it. These were highbacked gothic things, upholstered in black leather.
They had cost Millie a pretty penny. But they were worth it. They added to the ambiance that she wished to create.
On the pentagon table sat a table cloth. It was almost completely black, as black as onyx. It was entirely black except for the crimson embroidery work that had been done upon it.
Millie looked down from her vantage point on the stairs. She looked down on this embroidered tablecloth with great pride. She herself had done the needle-work. The crimson pentagram that she had created contrasted nicely with the black fabric of the table cloth, or so she had always felt.
She gazed upon the walls of the room. They had been covered with gothic-style tapestries. These showed various medieval themes. Millie knew that none of them were authentic. They were all reproductions. They were good reproductions. To her this was what mattered. It was the atmosphere that she was trying to create.
Millie was almost completely satisfied as she stood there on the stairs, soaking in the pleasure that came from viewing her homemade lair of darkness. She estimated her internal satisfaction gage was at 99 percent.
She highly desired that elusive last percent. She knew what she would need to capture it.
She would need first and foremost to be patient. If she were patient, she knew that the final element to her room would come into place.
“Patience Millie,” she mumbled to herself. “Just be patient.”
But it was so hard to be patient. Indeed, she felt giddy like a dark-hearted school girl.
She looked at her hands. They were shaking.
She grasped the banister in front of her with both hands. She gripped it firmly. Yet, she still felt the tremors of anticipation running through her like highamp currents surging through the body of an electric eel.
She felt short of breath. She tried to control that. In through the nose, out through the mouth, she thought as she tried to regulate the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in her lungs.
Despite her efforts, she felt dizzy. She must not lose consciousness. She must not fall down the stairs. Such a mishap as that would lend poorly to her goal of becoming 100 percent satisfied.
Slowly, she descended the stairs. Slowly, she more fully engulfed herself in her lair of darkness of which she was the creator. As she descended the stairs, she had the sensation of one descending into a pleasantly temperate pool.
“Patience Millie,” she chanted. “You must remember to maintain your patience.”
No matter how much she tried. She felt unable to control her body. Her lungs continued at the rate of a steel mill bellows. Her heart continued to race.
She imagined her heart beating free of her chest. She imagined it smashing through her sternum as a bullet smashes through a clay target. She pictured this in her mind and giggled. It was a funny thought. She imagined her heart sprinting around the room and touching all the dark objects. Then she suddenly realized that she was doing just that herself. She danced about. She caressed the candles. She stroked the table and chairs. She made contact with everything.
“Calm down Millie old gal. You must have patience.”
On a hook was a robe. She grabbed it and put it on. It was made of shiny black satin and caressed her already excited body, making it even more so.
Under where the robe had been, on that hook was an amulet. This she also put on over the robe. She loved this charm. It was one of her favorite symbols of darkness, a pentagram.
The doorbell awoke her from her giddy self-induced trance. The first of her guests had arrived.
As she went to the door, she felt energized. That elusive last percent had been captured. Actually, she felt her internal satisfaction gage jump to at least 110 percent.
She was barely able to stand. The excitement was overwhelming her. She reached for the door. She turned the knob.
She could hardly contain her enthusiasm as she opened the door. Her first guest had arrived. She welcomed them in.
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Morgan Koda has landed in a world full of magic. Now she has to survive it.
A simple English class assignment turns twelve-year-old Morgan Koda's world upside down, and she never dreamed delivering a Christmas letter to her local Mall’s Santa Claus would be her ticket to a world she never knew existed.
In this enchanted place, she walks through rainbows, makes friends with elves and talking animals, and experiences magic around every corner.
Yet, she finds things are not as serene as they seem. A classmate wants her dead. An evil sorcerer, The Dark Emir, hunts the one with the power to control the Mask of Noesis, an ancient artifact that has the ability to seize or manipulate a wizard's magic.
Morgan and the Emir are in a race against time for the relic. But, in order for her to fulfill her destiny with the golden mask, she has to survive the encounters with an eccentric classmate and the Dark Emir.
Nevertheless, Morgan Koda is anything but helpless.
Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her; but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.
Somehow… the game continues!
There were so many memories etched in the Light; painful memories, because defeat and near destruction seldom conveyed any measure of joy. Life, as he wanted to call it, continued for him, even in his diminishing form.
So close! He had come so close and the human adage regarding proximities and when they count seemed now only to gnaw at the last of his sensibilities. What he had composed and orchestrated had been neither a horseshoe nor a hand grenade, and while many of his targets had perished, the overall symphony had fallen resoundingly flat. Humanity still existed! Such had been the saga of Old Earth and the Elders, when he had been called Baron Nomed.
The Binadamu had always been so scattered; indifferent to one another over appearance… hostile to one another for any variation of culture… often hiding from one another in order to circumvent involvement as such could lead to indifference or hostility. Regardless, they should have been easier targets to obliterate, but they were not alone.
“Layna, you need to calm down. Do that breathing thing again.”
I blinked, startled to find the chair tipped over, the computer screen shattered . . . my hands bloody. I hadn’t even noticed, hadn’t felt it.
I sank to my knees, no longer caring about anything. Let Miles see me crumble. Let him have ammo to use against me. Nothing mattered.
“Layna,” he said quietly, his voice more soothing than anything I had ever heard.
My eyes flicked in his direction, surprised to see him crouched there, his hand extended through the bars of his cell. Without a clear thought, I reached out and laid my hand in his. I had never needed anything as much as that small contact.
He didn’t speak. He just crouched there with my hand in his, his eyes understanding.
Inspired by her grandfather and the lore of her last name, Katherine Pendragon set out to be the greatest scholar on Old England, King Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table, she could be.
Research Librarian Katherine Pendragon always had the fantasies that her name inspired. So she traveled to England and became the worlds leading most expert in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. But that was all history. Until, faced with a gruesome fate she inadvertently summons the sword of legend, EXCALIBUR. Now armed with the magic blade she prowls the streets of London dispensing healthy doses of justice. But is there another reason for the mystic blades return. Find out as Lady Excalibur and her friends face an ancient evil.
Charlotte brushed her shoulder-length, golden blonde hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear while the sea breeze tried to blow it back. Her heart leapt at the sight of a ship out at sea as it rolled in the swell of the rising tide. Could it be a pirate ship? Why hadn’t she been more vigilant? If they came ashore there would be little chance of escape.
She spotted a smaller boat rowing towards her, heading straight for the beach. Her breath caught in her throat. What should I do? Is there enough time to save my little sister? Beth looked oblivious to the danger, chasing after a feather that blew away in the wind. By the time she reached her sister, they would be in clear view. Maybe I should save myself. At least one of us might survive. No. She couldn’t possibly leave Beth to the mercy of those murderous pirates.
Time ran out. It was now or never. The boat reached the shore, and its dubious occupants began to clamber out.
The loud cry made her jump. She snapped back to reality and spun around.
“Are you daydreaming again?” Her mum let out a frustrated sigh. She placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and steered her in the direction of the car park at the edge of the beach. “Can you help take some of this stuff back to the car, please?” She handed her an armful of bags stuffed with damp, sandy towels. “We’ve still got a lot of things to do before we go home tomorrow, and you haven’t even bought anything for your friends yet. If you get your skates on, you’ll have enough time to pop into the shops across the road.”
Charlotte wrinkled her nose at the thought of their holiday coming to an end, and cringed at the prospect of going back to school the following week. She scooped up her own towel and trudged through the sand, mumbling how unfair it was making her do all the work even though she was only ten. “I notice Beth’s not helping.”
Her dad grinned as she struggled to the car. “We’re going to grab some food. Take-away, nothing but the best for the last day,” he said as she reached him.
“Not McDonald’s again, Dad,” she remarked with a hint of sarcasm, dumping her load on the floor.
“No way! Fish and chips tonight.” He wore his silly grin that never failed to make her smile.
“Whatever!” She smirked. “Mum said I could have a quick look at the gift shops just across the road.”
He put the discarded bags into the car and slammed the boot. He slid his sunglasses up to his receding hairline, slipping his hand into his jeans pocket. “Do you need any money?”
“Nah, it’s okay. Mum gave me some yesterday.”
“Are you going to take Beth with you?”
She folded her arms and shifted her weight to one leg. “Do I have to?” She loved her six-year-old sister to bits, but she was the most annoying person in the whole world. “I’m not going to get much shopping done with Beth tagging along.”
His face brightened with a grin. “I’m only pulling your leg.” He nudged her playfully. “We’ll take Beth with us and meet you back here in ...” He paused to gaze at his watch. “Let’s say, in about fifteen minutes, okay? Don’t go far!”
She sighed with relief. “Okay. See ya later.” She left, fumbling through her pockets to check she still had her money.
Crossing the road, Charlotte admired the pretty seaside town lined with buildings all the way to the top of a hill, overlooking the sea. Interesting old houses displayed colourful shop fronts, and a local market filled any spaces in between. She ambled along the well-worn paving stones, not really paying attention to the task of buying gifts for her friends. With her hands in her pockets, she wandered past stalls that spilled out across the path, packed with beach balls and buckets and spades.
She paused for a moment outside an arcade, drawn by the sounds and flashing lights that filled the air around the neon-lit building. Fighting the urge to spend the last of her money on a teddy-grabbing machine, she continued to trudge up the hill, losing interest in her mission with every step.
Halfway along the road she stopped, stepping into an alley to shelter from the glare of the sun. She leaned her back against the bright-red tiles that decorated the archway. Each one contained a small figure. They reminded her of characters from a fairy tale. She turned to examine them closely, running her fingers over the textured surface. Something about them held a strange attraction.
She gazed into the alley. It led a fair way back, but in the gloom she could see the front of a grubby-looking shop with a large ‘Sale’ sign in the window. She strained her eyes for a better view, and wondered if she should have a look just in case she could pick up something unusual for Mum. After a moment’s thought, she decided she had nothing to lose and wandered a little closer, checking over her shoulder as she went.
Reaching the glazed shop front, Charlotte stood on tiptoes to see over the half-frosted glass that obscured her view of the inside. Despite being taller than most kids her age, the contents of the store remained a mystery. She paused at the door before giving it a shove and peering through the gap. Inside, it looked much smaller than expected, with tall shelves standing against the outer walls, each laden with an assortment of objects that appeared better placed in a junk shop.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, but curiosity urged her forward. She stepped inside. An old-fashioned till perched in the centre of a small counter at the far end of the shop. Behind it hung a set of drab curtains with tiny pinholes, allowing slivers of light to seep through. The whole place had an air of gloom and smelt musty and damp.
“Hello. Are you open?” Charlotte called out.
When no one responded, she browsed the shelves, discovering some odd, hand-carved figures, similar to the characters on the decorated tiles around the archway outside. She picked up one that resembled a garden gnome and turned the carving around, searching for a price label. Nothing. That’s not much help. She placed the grotesque figure back down.
A bright flash caught her eye when she turned to leave. She stared at a small bookcase resting against the back wall beside the counter. A gentle glow of green light illuminated the shelves, tempting her to venture further and take a closer look. She crept through the aisle and bent down to examine a small, glass snow dome nestled amongst a variety of clay pots. It looked out of place with the other articles displayed in the shop.
She reached out and touched the surface with the tips of her fingers. The cool surface tingled, a strange yet alluring sensation. With a quick check over her shoulder, she picked it up and tipped it upside down. She cupped the delicate item in the palm of her hand and held it close to her face. No snow.
Inside the crystal orb, a tiny globe like a miniature planet revolved in slow motion, casting eerie shadows against the dreary walls. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
“Yes, it is beautiful,” a gruff voice sounded.
She spun around and stumbled back a step. Behind the counter stood a large figure wrapped in a gray cloak, similar to the drab curtains that hung behind him. From what she could see of him in the gloom, his scruffy, charcoal hair hung down to his shoulders. Dark eyes peered out below bushy eyebrows, making his thin face look gaunt and pasty. She shuddered. He gave her the creeps, popping up from out of nowhere and staring at her as though he had never seen a customer before.
“I am sorry if I surprised you. I did not mean to make you feel uncomfortable,” he said, as if reading her mind. “You are very welcome here.”
She put down the small ornament and walked along scanning the contents of the shelves, picking through the strange collection of knickknacks. The entire time, she sensed the old man’s stare following her. She considered leaving, yet the eerie glow from the snow dome kept drawing her gaze back to the bookcase. The temptation from its hypnotic light got the better of her, and she walked back to pick it up again. “How much is this?”
A broad smile lit up the man’s face. “Take it, child. I have no use for it in my shop.”
Her eyes widened. “What, for nothing? I must give you something for it. I’ve got money, you know.”
The old man shrugged. “Well, if you are that keen on striking a deal with me.” He raised one of his bushy eyebrows. “All I will ask is for you to take great care of such a beautiful item. Promise me you will be good and always tell the truth.”
“I always tell the truth anyway. I hate liars!” she declared, a little puzzled by such a strange request. “Is that it? Is that all you want?”
He bellowed with laughter.
She placed one hand on her hip. “What’s so funny, then?”
“I am sorry.” He leaned closer across the counter. His weather-beaten face creased with concern. “Telling the truth is not always an easy thing to do, especially when you find yourself in trouble.” His expression lightened. “I am Goffer, the shop keeper, and if I am not mistaken, you will find yourself in trouble if you do not hurry. Time is getting on.”
Charlotte glanced at her watch. “You’re right!” She rushed to the door in a fluster, but stopped before leaving. “Thank you! Thanks a lot. That was really nice of you.”
Goffer stood motionless, barely visible in the shadows. “I would not be so quick to thank me just yet.”
That used to be Genie’s mantra. Little did she know that the wave would literally take her out of this world. Now, faced with a new life, unbelievable dimensions and unexpected dangers, she’s got to pull off the ride of her life, or wipe out.
The prelude to the EdgeWorld series serves as an introduction both to the new world Genie finds and the plight that has found her.
An American teenager living in Bolivia with her father and younger brother, Genie was trying her best to take care of her family in the wake of her mother’s death. But that was before she crashed headfirst into the curious stranger and her whole world turned upside down. Now new possibilities, good and bad, await her at every turn, but she cannot allow concerns of the outcome affect how she rides – surf’s up!
The Old Ones have scattered and now it is up to Lady Excalibur and her cohorts to hunt them down. But who is hunting who? A new Old One on the scene has a slightly different approach to world conquest. It's insane, it's radical, and it just might work. Now Lady Excalibur and the rest of the Freak Show must take on not only the Old Ones, but their abomination creations as well.
“You just don’t understand. But you soon will Jake. I’ll not return here until everyone you know and love is long in the ground. My work was almost done. Now I must hope that I have done enough.” Jake noticed a faint blue outline appear behind Smeets as the wind kicked up around him.
The trees whistled and strained as a gust whipped up along the hillside. To Jake, it felt like his ears had just popped as he saw the blue glow strengthen into the shape of a doorway. The big man put his cases on the floor, bowing his head and removing his dark glasses. He spoke as he looked at the ground, the wind blowing his coat around his long legs.
“Do you know why you’re stood here, Jake? This very minute?”
Suddenly unsure of himself, Jake hesitated. “No, why?” he shouted over the roaring wind.
“Because I wanted you to be. You are my gift to a friend. Now I must leave you.” He looked up at Jake, his red eyes penetrating the night. Jake’s mouth fell open as he swayed on his feet.
Smeets took two steps back, turning his head to the blackness behind him. “Enjoy him, Anya, for he is fresh and very healthy.” He walked backwards until he vanished from sight, the blackness swallowing him whole.
Jake took a step forward, dumbfounded. His mind a whirling maelstrom. He stopped in his tracks when another figure emerged from the void. He stared in horror at the figure, dressed in a dirty grey gown that fell almost to her white bony ankles, dark mottled blotches covering her bare arms. Her yellow eyes are searching out and finding Jake, who felt like the earth was tilting at a strange angle.
She smiled at the sight of him, her dirty canines filling her blackened mouth as she moved closer. He tried to move backwards, tripping on a fallen log and crashing into the crook of a small tree. She sensed an advantage and moved to within ten feet of Jake, edging closer to him with shuffling feet. He wanted to turn and flee, back to his car, back to the safety of his house where he could bar the doors from all this. He then remembered his friend who lay dead on his lounge floor.
Not even his house would keep him safe from this. He was brought back to reality as two hands seized the lapels of his coat. He looked into the eyes of the woman as they bored into his. The yellow light seemed to dance like firefly’s, slowly taking away his fears. He welcomed the inevitable. He could almost see himself floating in a red river as her face filled his vision. He was at peace as her hands yanked apart the material of his clothing, exposing the flesh underneath.
Two things happened at that moment.
Firstly, his ears were filled with the deafening sound of her screams. Second, his eyes were blinded by a flash of light from below as he felt the hold on him released. The woman staggered backwards, her hands in front of her face, trying to fend off the piercing light that threatened to engulf her. Jake tried to rub his eyes and blink away the fuzzy shapes that floated in his vision as he suddenly felt a searing pain on his chest, followed by the smell of roasting flesh and burning hair.
He tried to grab at whatever it was that was causing the pain, his fingers touching the pendant that hung there. He pulled his hand away at the intense heat, flapping his fingers in the cold air. The bright light had dissipated enough for him to see that the woman had made it over to the glowing blue doorway between the two trees, one hand resting on the trunk as she tried to recover her resolve.
“Next time we meet, you’re mine,” she hissed before turning to trudge into the blackness.
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Relic Tech (Crax War Chronicles) by Terry W. Ervin II Narrator: James Conlan Series: Crax War Chronicles #1 Published by Gryphonwood Press on 03-03-14 Genres: