Mount Olympus. Long Ago.
The enormous white columns gleamed in the blinding sunlight as the two magnificent women stood face to face. “I cast you out,” Hecate, Goddess of the Witches screamed, her voice bouncing off the grand chamber walls. “Now, and forever more. Be gone from my sight.” “No, Mother, I beg of you.” Her beautiful blonde hair caught in the gentle breeze as she grabbed for her mother’s hand. Hecate moved her hand and looked down in disgust as Empusa dropped to her knees, tears staining her cheeks, and pulled at her white flowing diaphanous dress. “You are no daughter of mine. I curse you until the end of time.” Empusa sobbed, but it fell on deaf ears. Her mother was wicked and cruel and not even the mighty Zeus could sway her decision once made. Hecate raised her hand slowly. “Your form will match your true nature.”
Empusa rose into the air, screaming in agony, her hair aflame. The once beautiful blonde locks fell onto the ground, dissolving into a pile of ash. In its place, a mane of red flaming hair grew. She cried out, the flames burning her scalp.
5.0 out of 5 stars - Can't wait for the next episode
By Amazon Customer on 1 Jun. 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved Marcus Brown's first book, Promised Land Lane, so I got his new book. I loved Promised Land Lane so much, even though I read horror only occasionally, that I was expecting this would be a horror vampire story. But it really is not as horrifying as I was expecting. It's more emotional, suspenseful and full of mystery. Unlike his first book this one doesn't have any scenes of violence or death, which I think makes it suitable for young readers as well. In spite of the lack of graphic imagery, it's still an exciting book. There's a lot of suspense. Chloë is in danger, someone is following her around, but we don't know who it is. We only know that whoever it is, they don't exactly have nice intentions for her. Not only that, her innocent best friend gets dragged in too. I wanted to see those 2 feisty girls be safe and sock it to all the mysterious baddies, whoever they are, and for Chloë to find a way to be happy with her enigmatic love, Kyle. But unfortunately it wasn't to be. We won't find out what happens to them until the next book, because this novella is the first part of an episodic serial. I liked both Chloë and her best friend and I wanted to find out more about them as people. I didn't get to know Kyle as well, as he didn't show up as much in the book. But I'm curious to find out what is the relationship between them, why they keep getting pulled together by mysterious forces and also what will happen to them when they can finally be together. Can't wait for the next episode!
5.0 out of 5 stars - A Fantastic Novella from a Fantastic Author.
By Janine K on 31 May 2017
As a massive fan of Marcus Brown's debut novel Promised Land Lane, I was excited about this new story and couldn't wait to read it.
In all honesty, I read it on my sister's Kindle yesterday and loved it, but I had to buy it for myself as I felt like I was cheating the author. It was worth every penny.
He has once again crafted interesting characters and unusually mixed a number of genres, ie, Vampire mythology, Greek mythology, witchcraft, and Gypsy folklore, to form the basis of the story.
The lead characters Chloe and Kyle are connected to one another, but dark forces are at work to keep them apart. Yes, I have my own theories as to how they are really connected, but I know the backstory, which hasn't been revealed yet, will be a corker!
A great cliffhanger ending has left me yearning for me, so wherever you are Marcus Brown and if you read this, can we have Part 2 soon? Pretty please!
I enjoyed this novella immensely and look forward to seeing how the story concludes.
5* well deserved.
(I like the fact that this is aimed at the young adult market, as well as 'older adults' and I have also purchased the paperback so my daughter doesn't miss out. It will be nice to have a book we can both chat about)
5.0 out of 5 stars - Fab!
By Amazon Customer on 30 May 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Another genre that I normally don't read, but I loved Promised Land Lane so much I thought I'd give it a go. The novella read very much like an episode of a television series and left me gagging to know what comes next - I can only hope Mr Brown is quick to get the next 'episode' finished. A well deserved 5 stars from me.
Other books in this genre:
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.”
A feud, which has been unsettled for centuries…
A vampire leader, determined to sacrifice his army…
A werewolf clan, ready to invade its greatest enemy…
A town on the verge of destruction, its secrets buried in a Native American legend…
This is Apollo’s story
In a hurry to leave the forest of Stockwood, Washington, and the feud between his vampire family and his werewolf bloodline, Apollo and Sophie flee to a neighboring town in order to seek a “normal” life together.
Protecting Sophie is the only thing on Apollo’s mind—until he finds himself in the middle of a town with a deadly secret—a secret which includes everyone he loves.
Now caught between his duties to protect the vampire family that raised him, share his life with the woman he loves and unravel the town’s secrets, which could destroy everyone, Apollo makes a choice. Determined to do the right thing, Apollo’s world is torn apart, causing him to unleash his rage on everything in his path.
Ten years ago, Argus Gunther escaped Hawkhurst, thinking he had left behind a desolate life and a forsaken name. Though, when he is lured back to complete a contract, Argus discovers he can't bury the past so easily. Pulled instantly into Hawkhurst's daunting political games, Argus is forced to navigate through his nightmares. Now, while in search for his freedom, he must decide whether or not there are worse fates than death. The Hawkhurst Saga is the accumulation of the three stories: A Midwinter Sellsword, Gladiators and Thieves, and Ashes to Ashes.
The mystical green planet of Rendaz is home to devout goddess worshiper and university professor, middle-aged Beautimus Potamus—who also happens to be a hippo plagued by hot flashes and poor self-esteem. Beautimus forms an alliance with Samuel S. Goodwings, a younger womanizing, atheist praying mantis. When these two are together, life morphs from the mundane into the fantastic. Our unlikely duo solve mysteries, bring a murderer to justice, and even help end a war, while experiencing their own trials, triumphs, and tragedies. Often with humor, their situations and adventures parody Earth culture.
During their exploits, the two interact with a host of characters, including a pair of New Age flamingos, an A.D.H.D. afflicted trout, an orangutan detective, and a 310-year-old blue crane High Priestess. All of these creatures are more “human” in surprising ways than the citizens of the blue planet, Earth, we discover was once a Rendazian Colony.
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.
The moisture in the air condensed into droplets, then began to whirl. It danced for me, like the water wanted nothing more than to bring joy to me.
I stared. It was me. The water had answered my call. I had asked its help and it had answered me happily, like an old friend.
“I am the Gray One,” I whispered, my mind and body in perfect accord with the earth.
How could I have forgotten something so wonderful? Water, air and stones were my friends. I had missed their company.
I quickly flagged down one of the casino workers—I swear to you that it seemed to be a requirement for employment at this hotel that the women all had to look like they’d just stepped off the photoshoot for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—and the platinum blond pixie cut, would make any man quickly forget the throaty beauty in the café, whose name I didn’t bother to read smiled and pointed in the direction of the blackjack tables.
I hurried over, hoping to find Charlie, and grab onto the one lifeline I could count on to help drag me back from the edge and make some sense out of whatever the hell was going on. It wasn’t hard to find him at all once I got to the area; his booming laugh at some joke he’d just heard was a welcoming beacon to my ears.
When I got to his table, the first thing I noticed was a ridiculous number of chips piled up around his area of the table. Much like I had seen at the baccarat table earlier, it looked like everyone at the table was doing well but Charlie’s stack was approaching Mount Olympus in size. He was good at this game, I easily admit, but not that good. No one was.
The second thing I noticed was the enchanting young Carrie—still in her hotel uniform but her nametag was now gone—draped on Charlie’s right arm and looking like she was there to stay. That wasn’t the least bit ridiculous at all. He was good at that too, as I’ve mentioned before, and he really was that good in that arena.
“Hey, Pete,” he exclaimed when he saw me. “Pull up a chair and join us.”
“Not right now thanks,” I said. “Hey, I think they got our bags mixed up and one of mine is in your room. I was hoping you could let me in so I could get it.”
That seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable explanation to get Charlie out of the casino where I could talk to him without any unwanted eavesdroppers. Unfortunately, my lifeline went and threw me the anchor and sank my plan in less than a heartbeat.
“No problem, buddy, here’s the key.” He flipped his room card in my direction with one of those Friday night goofy grins of his face that I knew all too well. “Just leave it in my room. I don’t think I’ll be needing it.”
Somehow, Carrie managed to snuggle even closer to Charlie than she had before. Even as I snagged the tumbling card out of the air, I tried to come up with some excuse, some pretense to get Charlie up and moving. But something in both of their expressions told me that it wouldn’t matter one bit what I said or did next. Charlie wasn’t moving from that chair anytime soon and when he did, he wasn’t doing it just to go off somewhere with me.
I’d lost my wingman, my lifeline and maybe my only hope of figuring out what had happened to us. Charlie turned back to the table, and his new girlfriend, without so much as another word in my direction and I stumbled away without any direction in mind other than to get away from the creature who’d once been my best friend.
Before I realized it, I found myself in an abandoned area of the casino, empty chairs stacked around a few unused card tables and standing face to face with Liz. How long she had been watching me, how much she had seen, I simply did not know. But there she stood with an odd, sad look in her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how you can be of service?” And I am sure there was more than a hint of bitterness in my voice, certainly more than she deserved to be on the receiving end of.
“No,” she replied without reproach for my tone. “At this moment, Mr. Childress, you are looking for any exit that will lead you back to the outside world. I simply can’t help you with that. All I can suggest to you is this—perhaps you are looking for the way out of here in the wrong direction.”
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion.
Something from behind me suddenly caught her attention at that moment. Her eyes quickly flickered to whatever it was for a brief moment before returning to meet mine.
“Your room opens up to the central park,” she said after a moment’s pause. “We see so very few of our guests ever bother to go out and fully explore it. Perhaps you should visit it. You may find it to be peaceful and relaxing.”
She moved suddenly then, as if to walk past me without another word. But just as she drew even with me, her lips just inches from my right ear, I heard her whisper in a tone almost too soft for me to hear.
“You might even find it very enlightening, Mr. Childress.”
Then she was gone, moving on into the casino to engage some of the other guests in conversation. As I turned to watch her walk away, I noticed what it was that had distracted her earlier, what had appeared to make her suddenly cautious not only in what she said but how she appeared while saying it.
Standing out there in the middle of the casino, clearly scanning the crowd for someone in particular, was the hotel’s manager. But before he could look over in my direction and take notice of me, I darted toward a much darker area of the casino and eventually made my way back around to the entrance without him seeing me at all. For a reason that I could not put a logical explanation to, I suddenly had a very strong urge to be as far away from that man as I could possibly get myself and do it as quickly as I could.
Even within the seemingly limited, but very gilded, confines of this nightmarish trap that I found myself in.
I closed my eyes and focused on the fire in my hand, then sighed in relief when it went out. The trouble was, the heat inside me did not fade. It burned with the anger I could not release, with fury at what my people had endured at the hands of the Puppeteer.
I breathed in slow and deep to calm myself, to find some small measure of peace. This accomplished nothing. I simply stood there and tried to fight back some vicious beast with nothing but breath.
I was the beast. The chimera in my blood had come alive through the anger which could not be restrained. There was a monster in me as well.
In this sequel to the thriller, "A Light Beyond The Darkness", the earth is in complete turmoil, and is being split in half with fire falling from the sky. It would seem that the Gods are truly angry and that the world is truly about to end. When an old amazon tells of the a legend she knows about the rings of the Gods. In order to close the rift in their dimension The rings of Poseidon, Zeus, Hades and Hera must be brought together in one place. So the Hybrid Family must once again band together to stop the Gods of Olympus from destroying the earth. But how can mortals stop the Gods of Olympus? You also know that nothing is ever that simple, lies, deception and unknown undertones are discovered as the truth behind Zeus's reign over the Gods is finally revealed.
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Welcome to this edition of Words For Thought , the blog on wordrefiner.com . Like many of the previous blogs we are looking at homophones.
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Periodically, ForeignCorrespondent participates in virtual book tours that allow authors to showcase their books to a broader audience. Today I am hosting fellow RRBC/RWISA author