rainstardragon: (Default)
2012-03-04 01:30 pm

[sticky entry] Sticky: The Ubiquitous Sticky Note on the Monitor!

This will be the location for various serialized stories I am working on, as I have decided to experiment with this style again, due to the success rate that I used to have while writing fanfictions. Please use the tags if you have a particular story that you wish to navigate to, and feel free to bring your friends. I also will occasionally post news here related to my own manuscripts intended for regular publication and their availability.

For reference, the THG StarDragon Publishing Blog, though sometimes it goes long times without updates, is the place to watch for news regarding not only my own books, but those of the authors that have chosen to work with me in getting their own works ready for publication. My personal journal is located at livejournal (same name as here) and will be the place to look for random stuff (though if you want super random, I do admit the "sin" of having a Facebook). Artwork can be viewed on my DeviantArt account, or you can visit the THG StarDragon Publishing website or the Lulu Storefront. Also, some titles are going to be found at my Smashwords page. Don't forget to check Amazon and Barnes and Noble for print and ebook versions. Please note that the author is a full time mother and also takes university courses, so she unfortunately does not get to write or paint all day.
 
Comments are welcome, as I would like to experiment with how reader questions can help shape stories. Also, if you would like to donate to help fund my time (and help buy coffee to think and do neat things for the kids) I do accept Paypal. Just use the button at the bottom of the post.

You can find the table of contents for my serials below.

Contents Selkies' Skins )
Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well (book one) manuscript wordcount: Currently 131,693 for chapters 1 through 39, front matter, the glossary, and author bio. It will be followed by a second book covering the second half of Kirsty's testing, and likely a third book or fourth book to deal with other important bits that are not focused on in Kirsty's Skinquesting. There is also an audiobook version currently being recorded, narrated by Illya Leonov. He is also expected to narrate the books of the Dragon Shaman series.
You can also read it on a dedicated site for the stories.

Selkies' Skins 2
Selkies' Skins 2 )

The manuscript for Selkies' Skins (book two): Temple and Skinquest is currently sitting at 41,338 words in the full file as of April 20, 2016 and is in progress.

The manuscript for Dragon Shaman (book three): The Forge and the Well is in progress at roughly 20,000 words

Contents Shen's Tale )

~~~~*~~~~


 
Donations for stories help support my children.

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!


rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-06-19 02:01 pm

World Building: Hounds essay on Patreon for Patrons

I recently finished gathering together all of my thoughts on the Hounds of Hearne, werewolves in general, and the other Hounds in the shared world of Selkies' Skins, Dragon Shaman, and The Shadow Chronicles. Some of this will later be made public, but not all of it. I do want to keep some things as insider bits for patrons, at least until all of the series are complete to my satisfaction.

This essay HAS been submitted to Astral Sector Alpha's multi discipline Art Expo as an example of world building behind the scenes work. It may be read live by myself or a volunteer at the reading portion, but I need to find out again what day and time that will be. Astral Sector Alpha currently resides in Calm Ocean, in a plot with looks rather similar in my opinion to how Seal Point looked at one point in it's history. I have absolutely no idea if that was the intent, as everyone was in a rather piratey mood when the move from Computer was made.

The Hounds of Herne/Hearne and other Fae Hounds

World Building Essay & Notes for Selkies’ Skins, Dragon Shaman, and The Shadow Chronicles

rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-06-19 01:49 pm

McCloud Fire Muster Parade

 For those of you not in the McCloudians that did not get to make it to the Muster, here is the Parade footage. It will take me several days to get the rest of the games footage up on my Youtube channel that did no go direct to Facebook the day of.
rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-06-10 02:32 pm

(no subject)

"Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part three of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at.




Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 39
Chapter 15 (part 4)
Leviathan


Raechel gathered herself after she awoke and glared toward the surface. By the changing quality of the light she could assume that the human born whelp still refused to roll over and just die. There was more than one way to skin a seal or a human though, and she smiled at the comparison, not noticing the fish-like barbed frills beginning to break through the skin of her arm as she slipped further from selkie and closer to her enemies, the Finmen. For her there was no irony that one could become the things they hated, or once hated. She could now understand their desire to eat the flesh of both humans and her kind.

She was not weak, nor was she stupid.

Green wyrdfire played around her fangs as she grinned hungrily and turned tail. If the passages here corresponded with the way all of Mara’s temples were normally built she would be able to find the underwater door to the chamber where the large creature was kept. Perhaps she would even find the switches to flood the aboveground chambers if this had been made during the eras of the changing seas.

Raechel used light orb after light orb as she swam, unconcerned that they lasted in shorter intervals than they once did. She was tired after all, it stood to reason. Perhaps the color had only changed because of that as well, not the Taint that she knew still fought to counter the previous purification attacks she had been subjected to. She clung to it now partly because the improperly trained upstart had dared make the attempt. At last she arrived at a slick sludge coated door which seemed to have been raised fairly recently. She could see vague tracks still through the slime. It was not too recently though, but the door at least was opened periodically. The dark selkie hoped it was for feedings. It would make it more interesting, so long as whatever the creature as did not take her for food and instead recognized her as a fully fledged priestess and therefor its proper mistress.

Suspending a sickly green flickering orb in the water she searched for a lever, latch, or lock, anything that would open the chamber beyond. She heard the creature stirring, listening, and she cooed to it. Her whiskers shivered in anticipation. After a bit she suspended herself, hands on hips and tail moving just enough to keep herself upright as she thought, chewing her lip. No latch, thus the opening was a spell. She ran through the ones that she knew from her own people, the secrets that they guarded in the inner Temples that she had been granted access to, those secrets that supposedly helped spark the humans’ own magical heritage. Spell after spell she tried, yet none worked. The large being behind the door grew more restless.

She too was restless. She wanted this creature more and more, coveting it for her own. Together they could do great and terrible things. Perhaps if it proved strong enough once she had dealt with this trifling mess she could turn her sites to the primary temple, overthrow the High Priestess and the Lore Keeper. Raechel would prove to Mother Mara just how strong she truly was.

The darkness moved heavier in her heart, whispering further glorious promises. She smiled. First there was this little door.

She patted it lightly. “You will yield your secrets.”

Something turned. Her eyes widened as the mechanism raised the door and two hungry eyes peered back at her. Tentacles slipped out before the door was even very high and what had been hidden away squished through, impatient. A tentacle reached for her and tried to wrap around her. The great beak clacked as those balefire eyes brightened.

Raechel allowed it, staring the kraken down. She opened herself to Mara, a living vessel just like all of her sisters and brothers. The sea filled her and she it.

The kraken continued to bring her to its mouth, unaffected and severely unimpressed by the tiny furry thing puffing at it. This was a nice morsel though and it stayed still unlike the creatures on the ships it normally was sent on. If it wasn’t so blasted hungry it might even wonder what on earth the tiny creature thought it was doing.

The beak grew closer, opened. Raechel flicked her eyes from those of the creature to the gaping aperture. Death peered back, waiting to greet her and heal the broken and poisoned heart. She sneered and looked back into its eyes. Words from the old tongue fell from her lips, the first waves of the coming storm. Her eyes grew harder as the binding took hold, but far, far less effectively than such things once were. Mara withdrew slightly. In her minds eye the deity took on her more shark-like guise and turned the striped shoulder to her, averting her gaze and blessing.

If it hadn’t been such a dire situation the gesture would have stunned Raechel. To allow her attentoin to waver long would have allowed the kraken room to squeeze out of the binding just as it emerged from the gate before it was fully open. The wills battled, but at last the dark priestess won.

“What is your name, kraken?”

“Leviathan, Destruction, Death.”

Raechel smiled.

“Good names. Destruction, there is someone I wish you to meet.” She gave her commands.

Soon she knew where the switch was. Reaching fearlessly into the groove with the door above her she found the pull. A second boom went through the water and stone. She could feel the waters begin to rise.

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-05-29 04:15 pm

update

 I know it has been a bit since my last installment. I am about halfway through what I plan to post for the next installment. I have temporarily shifted focus to beading bookmarks for the upcoming flea market since I'm running a booth. There will also be bath products that my daughter made and some papercrafts my son made (we are fundraising for his trip we are taking him on, he does not know where we plan to take him). I have also been doing things like assisting my mother when she comes over with construction work (woodshed, roofing) in ways that I am physically able to do.

Writing also isn't easy when you think you'll have time, and then in comes son with his laptop and games. *shakes head*

I need to head outside again. Hopefully soon I will finish the next installment. Also hopefully soon I will get the new website copy to my web admin for the publisher site. I need to proof it and check links one more time before transferring the new pages into the folder for syncing.
rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-05-24 10:10 pm

I have stuff

 So this box of candles came in the other day. Candles go so well with books. I also look like a massive dork and did not realize the shirt was quite so.. formfitting...

rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-05-07 03:20 pm

Selkies' Skins 2, Section 2, Chapter 15bc Leviathan

"Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part three of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at.




Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 38
Chapter 15 (part 3)
Leviathan


Kirsty frowned, puzzling over the words, her eyes drawn once again to the spirit fire still flickering weakly about the sundered box and throne. “How though?”

Belial shifted about, trying surreptitiously to appease the softly grumbling skin that was unwrapping from his waist and attempting to wriggle her way up his back. The skin, however, made no such attempts at remaining hidden and managed to pop its head out of the back of his collar. Launching itself, the dark skin arched and dove for the box, slipping quickly before frantically questing fingers. “Salena! What are you doing?”

The skin landed in the box, her tail touching his foot as if seeking an anchor, but lolling itself open and flat within with satisfied rumbling purrs. Kirsty glared at Belial. Before she could confront him about having a selkie skin, nevermind that she could not remember hearing about one moving on its own, the spirit fires intensified. No longer contained to flickering over the throne and stone box they now covered the entire dais and island they stood on.

“You are not dead yet Salena, though if you don’t listen more often to the man that loves you it might come sooner than we all expect.” The voice rose every hair on Kirsty’s body. This was the voice she heard at home so often. The faint form that materialized in the water that trickled up from a hitherto unseen source to run into the pool again was also familiar, yet was as ancient looking at some of the ways the Wissefrau had presented herself. At her waist was the sword she knew of the Lady having, yet there was something broken about it, despite being unable to see the blade.

Salena’s skin, with a series of barks, grunts, and other sounds of seal speech, let them know precisely what was bothering her about her husband and the entire situation. Kirsty didn’t understand it, but he Belial’s lips pressed together and color rose.

He shook his head at Salena, then spoke to Kirsty. “The Black Gate has been in my family since The Lady and Astereth had their fateful falling out. He sired children before he lost, and one of his men ensured that we received it as birthright. The gate not only calls the Hounds of various Clans, but also can take pieces of the soul.”

Kirsty sighed, letting the issue of the skin go for now. “So, I might be able to use it to regain that piece of her.”

“In theory.”

The remnant of the Lady by now had crouched down to stroke the sealskin. “I would like to return to myself. I’ve been locked away here for so long. I have no idea how many other severed pieces have been sealed as I have. You should also look for this, it is here too. It’s how a piece of my power locked away.” She drew Meidh from the scabbard she wore. Though she held the hilt, there was a piece of the first third that was the only part that was seen.

They nodded, and Kirsty inspected the talisman, trying to figure out how to use it for that. No incantation leapt out at her in the filigree, nor in her mind. The neither the stories that she had from her Makay lineage nor the Marainion lineage ever gave any clues as to exactly how The Lady had been sundered. Nor had Mara been present, since that battle had been inland. Instead she tried for something less informed.

She focused her heart, where she would pull energy to for any intentional spell. She focused on the long need and drive of the generations before her to heal the deity that watched over them. Every ounce of longing and intention that she could pull from her line she called on and tried to channel through the gate. She linked it mentally with the vial of The Lady’s water that she carried with her in her pouch, and with what was from that deity that flowed in her own veins. She mentally tried to fold space and time, and felt the drain of it, reached out through the gate and tried to open it to give The Lady a path back to herself.

Once more the stone opened. Instead of being the black of night it turned to a lake blue, then to a sparkling deep blue as of a crystal lit underground spring. The Lady smiled wistfully, nodded at Kirsty, and then walked through. There was a whirling, Kirsty disoriented as if she’d ridden a broom into a waterspout, a rushing feel. Then the stone closed again.

With it, there was a boom that echoed the hallways and rippled through the waterways.

Belial paled. “Leviathan.”

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-25 01:09 am

Book Review: Into the Hexagon (The Prime Insurgency #6)

 Book Review

Title: Into the Hexagon

Author: J. D. Stonebridge

Page count: 63 pages

Where to get: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERRNJY0

Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Stonebridge/e/B00OPZ1YQU

 

When this series was pointed out to me I did not expect how addicting it was to become. With this particular episode the plot of the series is advanced even further. We uncover a corporation conducting illegal and questionable experiments to go along with the Primes. The boys do not find Lauren, but rather she finds them. We meet three new Primes. The usual destruction occurs. Poor Tony and Lance seem to encounter violent explosions wherever they go. So much for being out of the military and any ideas of a peaceful life that Lance might have had. I quite sympathize with his momentary desire to go back to the desert! It would all be so much to take and I think that by this time the progressive forward movement they have to make simply to stay alive is what is preventing mental breakdowns. If you want action, this is a good place to get it. As usual detail is detailed, but fleeting. You do not have a great opportunity to luxuriate or bask. You get to rest now and then, but those are brief. As usual, this is a good read if you are looking for something light but engaging, and I do not mean light as in not requiring thought.

rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-23 03:00 pm

The Prime Insurgency #2-5 (catching up) Reviews

 I have fallen a little behind on posting these reviews. They have gone up on Amazon, and the video versions on Youtube, but I forgot to link them here. So have a few videos. The author was kind enough to send me 6 through 11 as well.



rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-23 02:30 pm

Selkies' Skins 2, Section 2, Chapter 15b: Leviathan

"Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part two of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at.




Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 37
Chapter 15 (part 2)
Leviathan


Kirsty blinked and narrowed her eyes. Belial’s brow furrowed. Both pressed their lips together but kept their eyes on the man of flame. The remnant gathered strength and a bit more solidity from some source, pressing nearer step by step. A dull thrum came from one of the vials in the pouch at her hip, pounding through her veins as the being came nearer. Subsonic, more felt than heard, several items in the cavern resonated with the note. Far above in the dim study with the agitated spirit entrapped in the crystal orb glazed and clouded selkie eyes cleared and focused, waking up and extending their senses.

In the middle of the spring a flickering of purple, green, and blue dimly ran along the stone dais rising from the saltwater and crackled along the sundered box. The box toned low, the subsonic hum echoing and concentrating there until reaching the range that Belial’s ears could hear.

His wife’s pelt shifted against him, a claw timidly scratching and poking. He ached to pat it, but dared not betray the pelt.

“No. I am not.”

He raked his brain for anything. The stone box kept attracting him. Perhaps, if they could get over the water and into the box, then he’d have the shielding for what he needed to do. The Black Gate rattled in its coffer, reacting to all of the energies, probably even beginning to open already. If he could use that, then that might solve the problem.


As Belial was processing, so too was Kirsty. Something weak and tired inside herself was half contemplating giving this being whatever was in the blasted box. However, she also knew that if he wanted it that it was a powerful object. A another part wondered, “Why give it something that it wanted? What if it was an item that might be useful to her. Raechel had wanted it it too, apparently, since that was how we met again.” This also was something this dark curling thing was rejecting as it tried to spread through her mind and heart. That part of her wanted it for itself. Other shards of her mind each sounded their own opinions, previous lives bubbling up from deep recesses, some in fear of what they felt in the boxes, others excited that they were so near.

The pulses, now echoing to her sensitive ears, both sent her off center and yet emboldened her. Shards and facets came together again in agreement. Who they had been and seen, what she could become after this moment, all that mattered was not giving in, tired or not. What felt as if an age of debate having flashed in the space of perhaps a breath. If she hadn’t apparently been skinned under her borrowed clothes her short hairs would be on end. Drums sounded within the box that Belial-Ciarán had taken from her after he rescued her. Steady, marching, dancing, raising in ferocity, a howl answered inside her. Racial and ancestral memories stirred, whether human or selkie she might not ever know should she live long enough to look back from this moment.

Words, male and female, sounded inside her head in a language even older than those she spoke. Though she did not know what they said she could feel the intensity, understand somewhat what had happened. Whatever was in that box held some key to the Lady’s loss of self, so too did this desecrated shrine portal.

The sisters had been driven out of what was once a home for them.

The light continued growing brighter, as if calling out. An idea glimmered, and as it gained strength so too did the light.

Kirsty pushed up, reached out. The chest passed back into her keeping before Belial-Ciarán could put up an adequate defense of it. Astereth stood between herself and the dais. Her other hand moved her sporran to where a male would traditionally wear it and the little selkie balled herself to have the Vials she carried and the chest together and hopefully shielded as she hurted at and then through him on her way. If she could get to the ancient seat, and the box hopefully whatever was inside would take care of the remnant and give her the piece of the Lady that was hidden here. Perhaps she could even find her way to her own time and place. She hated portals now, but if she could make a portal and make it work, she would be happy.


Belial reached for her as she burst out of his touch and protection. He saw where she was intending to go even as Astereth tried to pull more augmentation and tried to catch her. With a cursed call he followed.

Others answered him as he sent out the energy he had pulled from himself and out of his soul, the temperature dropping. The fear fed them, though it was not their normal fare and they vied for it with the guardian spirit here, but in return of his call some fed back what they could to the necromancer. Others tried to leap on Astereth, even if they only had the strength to distract for a moment, allowing the living to pass through their forms.

Salena’s sealskin shifted where he had it hidden, completing a circuit around his chest. He knew that if he saw her again he might lose an ear, she was still angry with him, but for now they worked together despite the literal and metaphoric distance between them.


Kirsty expected to be caught against something, to knock him aside or to be knocked aside. Unlike the living fire from David’s wand snake she felt no heat when passing through. There was only cold, bitter, bone deep, heart deadening cold, like spoiled disappointment and the odor of rotten cottage cheese, envious of something kept beyond reach. Then she was through, the odor and its taste clinging to her tongue like fur on a black skirt. Water beneath her feet and placing a water shield beneath them, her feet touching and then dashing over the surface like a skipped stone. Whirling around to face him again, kicking herself for exposing her back, she could hardly believe that had worked to get through or get her across. If she lived, if this continued to work, maybe she could experiment with that technique more later.


Furred figures swirled around Astereth when her eye found him, whirling spectral seal skins and human forms. Keens, barks, and bellows assaulted her ears, mostly female with the odd male here and there. Belial-Ciarán burst through Astereth, into the water. The water pulsed, sending a shock through the cavern, shaking the ground around them. Astereth laughed again at the sound of the splash, turning to pin Kirsty with a leer.

Astereth came to the very edge, rising on his toes. The wraiths continued to swirl around him, preventing him from trying to do anything to her from across the water. Somehow, Kirsty knew that for the Lilitu, falling into the water must be a bad thing. Why was Astereth not crossing?

Then Belial broke the water and flopped his gasping way onto the dais with her, water streaming everywhere and an odd moon pale glow outlining him, the same color as the selkie wraiths. “Open the box!” He coughed, then coughed more as water shot out of his mouth, some landing on her feet.

Kirsty grimaced; she opened the box as the drumming inside grew louder.

The temperature dropped even lower. Their breath steamed, the water smoked. Belial lurched up, still coughing a bit as if something squeezed his chest, not fully convinced all the water was out. She took out the amulet that lay inside, the drums stilling at her touch. A fossilized globule of the darkest, most hopeless night took the form of a cabochon set in a filigree triskele winding widdershins. Kirsty felt a great weight press on her shoulders, as if taking on the sifting of the entire world, older than she ever imagined in less than a heartbeat.

“We’ll have to open the Black Gate. Let me.” Belial wrapped around her, his wet seeping through and chilling her more than she already was. He hissed in her ear at the contact, laid his hands over and around hers.

The wraiths retreated, fleeing through the door and down into the waters around them as if fleeing something far more dreadful than their adversary.

Sweat ran down her brow, into her eyes, and down her lip as the stone opened and pulled on her increasingly waning personal reserves. This sweat threatened soon to freeze as what was kept within and beyond it poured out.

Dark forms flowed from the night and the salty water about them froze over. A grey mist enveloped the pair, and this too was darkening. One of the forms unfolded and circled around them, hooded eyes meeting Kirsty’s as it passed, pinning her and stealing her breath. The chill, the despair, the sobs and screams in her mind she knew. This before her was what she knew as a Defector. Yet, it was not ragged like the ones she had seen before, nor like the ones she knew roamed the country in her time. This one seemed healthy, and somehow pure. It wrapped around Belial and Kirsty, pulling them into a chill embrace but leaving them faced forward as others continued to pour out and drove for Astereth.

Astereth, or more accurately the remnant, screamed and backpedaled, releasing the strikes originally meant for Kirsty into these. They absorbed the blows into their nothingness and pressed forward, eventually engulfing and extinguishing his flame. All that remained was the wraith of a man in ancient garb Kirsty still could not quite place. Then they pulled him within the Black Gate, leaving the one holding Kirsty and Belial in place.

Slowly it released them. Bowed.

His voice hissed and raked low, popped like coal in the grate, growled softly like a dog still on guard. “The Cwn Annwfn and Gwyllgi recognize the current guardians of the Cailleach’s Black Gate. We welcome helping the possible Cauldron of the Sisters of Lake and Sea and,” he paused, sniffing, “someone that participates in the Wild Hunt? You smell rather like we do.” He glanced to Belial, “Also I suppose it is good someone of your blood makes up for it and protects one of the selkies, after what that Thing did to this one’s Ladies.”

Kirsty shivered, the air still and chill as if a Thing were in the room. There were no flashbacks to a younger time, nor memories of the times she had encountered them though, and this being before her felt Untainted, Pure. “Thank you?”

The being before her nodded, stood. Below the cowl a black snout briefly flashed fangs. He bent down and pulled the cowl back from his face enough to lap at the water, seeming to drink easily despite the thick ice blocking access. “You should reclaim the fragment of your Lady before you leave this place, Mistress. I do not know what other adversary to you is near, but my fur is still on end.” He rose, having washed the taste of Taint from his mouth.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-19 12:34 am

Book Review: The One In Light

Book Review

Title: The One In Light

Author: J. D. Stonebridge

Where to get: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E6RHBEK

 

The writing took me a little to settle into since it felt a little stilted. However the slightly stilted language also worked for the setting and the character’s mindset. It would not have been as convincing if the writing in the first chapter were smoother given the history of the character. One would expect things to seem a little fractured also given how we come into this story with a missing woman. The initial difficulty could also have been the result of a sick child in the household interrupting my immersion. Either way, certainly no points lost in my mental reckoning. This also smoothes out later

 

Then we find the connections to the unexplainable things that most of society would rather avoid thinking about too deeply. Aliens, supernatural? And yet it seems to have some sort of scientific weight behind this mysterious discovery. We then follow the missing girl’s boyfriend and brother to discover a young woman that has lost a sibling of her own.

 

The pacing of this story seemed about right to me, and the level of detail was brief but not in a detracting manner. It moves you along, following the frustration that a worried brother or boyfriend would feel. This is not the story you want if you want to be leisurely steeped in description. This is an unapologetic thriller. If you have some uninterrupted time then you will get through this quickly. I wish it had been longer. Even with all of the unexpected interruptions I managed to finish in less than a day. I normally read longer works, and this left off at a rather harsh (to me) cliffhanger so I am very glad that this is the first in a series. It reminds me of the serial novels that were released around the same time when I was young by Steven King (Green Mile) and John Saul (Blackstone Chronicles if memory serves). Short, fast reads for those with time constraints. I hesitate to call this a novel, and it even seems a little short to call a novella. I would call it more of an installment of a novel, which is not a bad thing at all. Just different and not a format I often read in other than a few for internet authors that I follow. I plan to read the next of this series as soon as possible. Certainly an enjoyable way to pass the time, and cliffhangers drive me nuts.

 

I am curious about the mysterious stone and what role it will have in the future parts of the story. I am expecting it to be an artifact that has heavy influence on all parts of the tale.

 

Regarding technical details of the book itself I found very few typos to trip me. What I did find I believe to be mere stylistic matters. Plot progression so far I cannot say much about, I believe I will have to read a few books in before I can start to form any idea on whether there are any unexpected twists or anything like that, which Amazon sometimes asks about.

rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-14 01:14 pm

Dragon Hearts RPG URL Change



Dragon Hearts’ url is changing! Please make sure to update your bookmarks. The new one is www.dragonheartsrpg.com
 

Dragon Hearts is a browser based text roleplaying game based in the realm of Rhian. You play as a dragon, although in interpersonal role play you may decide to become a shapeshifter dragon. Play co-op or play alone, discover mini games and find your home. Go questing as your level grows, maybe discover things no dragon still knows.

Dragon Hearts (DH) logo done by none other than Salaiek.

rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-11 06:32 pm

Seal Point Pea Soup

 This recipe arises out of a discussion about compiling a book of recipes for my books. This particular one would be something the Makays would eat in their home at Seal Point (Selkies' Skins). There is also a variation that BlowingWind's family (in the Dragon Shaman books) would eat. You can use fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. Tonight we used frozen.

Seal Point Pea Soup

1/4 to 1 onion, depending on how big the onion is
1 to 2 pounds peas
1/2 to 1 pound bacon
1/2 to 1 salmon steak (or equivalent of the day's catch of whatever was hauled in)
pepper to taste
1 tsp to tbs ginger
1 tsp to 1 tbs garlic
At LEAST 1 tbs ground dried seaweed (or equivalent fresh, sliced thin)
Amounts of fish can be adjusted if there is a lack of bacon
5 or 6 cups water
Salt to taste, or more seaweed

MountainChild / American O'Drake variation
1/4 to 2 thin sliced jalapenos. Include seeds.

Directions:
In a pan cook the bacon, chopped. Saute onion, ginger, garlic, seaweed, and jalapeno if making the MountainChild version. Add the pepper. Once those are cooked add in the peas. If fresh or frozen saute those with the rest, then add two cups water to start with. If using dried then add the appropriate amount of water and dried peas, according to the bag's directions. If using canned then go for the equivalent amount and count the water for your starting amount. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, covering. Cook until peas are mushy, mashing with a potato masher. Alternately you can also blend the peas in a blender or food processor before adding, but Kirsty's family usually prefers the masher. Add water as needed for the amount needed. This should make enough for a family of four unless one of them is a kelpie. In that case you may need two or three batches, or just let him cook.

Preparation time: unclocked

Cooking time: Around 20 minutes if fresh or canned, longer if frozen or from dried.

 

 
Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!
 
rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-04-09 10:53 am

Selkies' Skins 2, Section 2, Chapter 15a: Leviathan

If you are a Patreon Patron you got to see sometimes excerpts or current drafts in the Patron Only posts, along with other things. They got to see this installment a little early. "Leviathan" is a tentative name for this chapter now that I am in the part of my outline dealing with the Leviathan self-prompt. I still need to also work on Etain and Finnol's part in this book more. For me with this project a tricky part is dealing with the concurrent parts that all depend on each other and how the fabric of their realities shift due to events in the lives of others and the butterfly effects of things happening out of the scope of these books but within the other two series.

This is part one of the chapter. I am unsure how large this chapter will clock out at. Currently we have 1,168 words for this one. I need to sit with the total manuscript wordcount, but right now... Numbers...




Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 36
Chapter 15 (part 1)
Leviathan


Kirsty saw a form darken the way ahead as she hurtled at the mercy of the waters. Before she could attempt to change course her head made contact with the shadow. White lightning flashed within her skull and behind her eyes, not just her eyelids. A screech filled her ears when bone contacted bone and both swirled away from each other. The form came back and claws raked into her. Kirsty did the only thing she could. Claw and fang lashed for her adversary. Blood came from herself and the other but not enough to cloud the water. Fire licked through her skin and traveled her nerves with the answering blow.


Her eyes finally registered. The dark priestess was here before her. Once again the green fire flared and she could feel the Taint seeking a way inside. The battle waged on more than one front, and the Taint seemed stronger than the last they had this dance together. She, of course, was weaker.


Kirsty pulled back and to the side, her tail growing weary already from the blows and strokes that each had been alternating. Eyes darted, looking for a weapon, a sword, shield, Lance... Anything. Mara's spear sliced the water near her, and the water crackled as each tried to control it. Kirsten fell back further. The plume that thrust her here could no longer get be felt, the portal closed.


No falling back.


At once, both sets of eyes fell on the same chest. Lost at the base of a pillar it gleamed dark in the murk, calling, exuding chill. A chill ran up Kirsty's spine at the familiar aura, though she knew she had never seen it before. Raechel's lips twisted, whether smile or grimace was moot. The black selkie lunged for it. The white selkie followed, not knowing why, only that it had to be kept from her. Both pairs of clawed hands closed around the tiny box and the writhing and beating began again.


"Let it go!" Raechel snarled, voice barely understandable as she swung her tail and connected with Kirsty's head.


Kirsty gripped harder and swung her own tail despite the throb and muffling sensation in her ears. The sting in her nose told her that something had opened yet again; the salts in the water sang there. Something gave, and the fingers around the chest slipped. Her arms closed fully around the box.


Up. Up was where that strange sense inside told her to go. Kirsty followed the directive. Raechel pressed close after. Kirsty strove, undulating as fiercely as she could and trying to outrace the other, weighed down by whatever dark object was contained in the tiny chest. Panic pried with red fingers at the edges of her vision and despair stroked icy fingers down her spine. Was there a buru-buru here, like those covered in one of those long ago classes at school. Did they range this far?


If so, it was getting a fine meal today.


The flesh of a flipper split beneath the assault of the blade behind her. More of her strength slipped away, yet she persisted. Onward, upward, forward, away. She tried to coax or command the water to propel her, but she had lost her hold, forced to continue to rely only on the still waning power of her tail.


Kirsty’s spirit railed. It called for her half-missing soul and strained forward as earnestly as the muscles of her body raced. A quick glance downward revealed the water had cleared enough to see the teeth of her pursuer and the green glow of her eyes. Her spirit sank momentarily.


In desperation she pointed a finger at the dark priestess and released it all, everything she felt, everything she could grasp. Unfiltered energies thundered through her and left her cracked, empty. The bolt flew.


Raechel grinned, moved the spear, caught it.


She missed.


The bolt bounced back with a bit more added to it, caught her squarely, spread quickly over and under skin.


Kirsty broke water, flew beyond and into air. She locked eyes with - Morvan? What? An unceremonious landing and her entire body now feeling as if she burned alive beneath her skin brought her back to earth where her body flopped and twitched of its own accord.


Laughter, deep and dark like chasms of nightmare filled her ears, covering the splash that would have heralded Raechel’s emergence into the treasure cave. Kirsty tried to move, found that she couldn’t. A knife passed over her, shaving, cutting. Cords snapped and her halfpelt dissolved into nothing, leaving her shivering.


“Cow.” A grunt followed as something knocked Raechel back into the water. Morvan’s face - no, it wasn’t his after all, only similar - came into hazy view above her.


The cursing was fairly colorful and she dimly made note of some choice ones for probably future use. She was being dragged now, and felt curious eyes watching them both. If she’d had the strength and the ability to move she would have glared. Hands prized the chest out of her arms, whatever she had rescued vanishing from her keeping.


Her heart sank. Her skin felt further away than ever.


Perhaps she had failed? What would happen if that were so? What happened to those that failed in their tests?


More laughter filled the cave and now she could tell that dread sound fell not from the lips of the Lilitu now shielding her from the view of the fuzzy pillar of fire. The part of her brain still concussed vaguely hoped she wasn’t going to need glasses if she survived whatever she had so unceremoniously been cannoned into.


At least she was clothed. Somewhat. Even if feeling distinctly bald. How did people cope with feeling fabric on them?


“Are you going to give it to me, then?” The voice ran clawed fingers down her spine and something inside drew back from the unseen touch, unprevented by the human between herself and the fire blob.


When the fire blob became an actual form Kirsty wished it hadn’t. Without knowing how something recognized the face of flame.


“No. I won’t be.” The knuckles around his wand were white, belying the confidence in the answering voice.


“Are you so sure of that? I know think that little bit of seaweed there is going to do much against my priestess after she unleashes your little pet, nor to help you put me back.” The smirk grew. “This should be entertaining for a bit.”


Kirsty wiped her nose. “Cocky blighter, isn’t he, Lilitu? Have a plan?”


Belial winced. “Live. Don’t distract. Call me Ciarán if you must call me anything.”


Astereth laughed again as something shook the cavern, and a low booming hum soon followed. “His name is Belial. Worthless, can’t even own his given name. Now then my little one, your time is up. Best to give me that blood you bear. I feel the presence of she that should have been mine within you.”

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (selkies skins)
2017-03-26 11:29 am

Selkies' Skins 2, Section 2, Chapter 14: Stitches and Tears

Good lord, Teresa. What was taking you so long? I did not see any Selkies' Skins updates since December! I know, I feel terrible about it. I wanted to release this chapter in one go. Life was throwing curveballs left and right and the chapter ended up being four times the length I first thought it would. We have it now at 4,065 words for Chapter 14. If you were a Patreon Patron you got to see sometimes excerpts or current drafts in the Patron Only posts, along with other things.

This chapter contains some characters from other storylines that intersect and from past standalone stories within the overall continuity. If you have a question feel free to ask. If the answer is a spoiler I'd prefer to answer privately.




Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon, when I can get to uploading it finally. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 35
Chapter 14
Stitches and Tears


Heart pounding, Justin stayed pressed into the rocks and hoped his camouflage would hold. He racked his brain for one of the pilfered runes that might strengthen his concealment but could think of nothing. Instead he stilled his breath and cleared his thoughts, encouraging the plant life interspersed with the rocks to be thick and the eye of an observer to turn. He willed the heat of his passing to disperse, his self to not exist.

Bethrise purposefully finned his way through the water, spear ready and tendrils of what moonlight hair not held in his ponytail searching the currents. Iced eyes stayed sharp for any sign of his quarry and his senses open wide. His own training did not boost his abilities in the same way that Raechel’s or other clergy from the Temples were, no augmentations to his psychic abilities. He did have more skill in interpreting the water in more mundane ways, however. All he knew now was that what he sought was close, and that it was cloaked. The water was cold to him, far colder than normal for the time of year, far less responsive.

Bethrise paused. Something about the floor pulled his attention and he lowered his face to inspect the scuff in the silt. He wasn’t far from a pile of rocks that hollowed a bit, fallen from above sometime long ago from what had once been a cliff face. The space harbored some rather sharp looking bladed plants in such prolific amounts that no sane merbeing would willingly try to squirm in to hide. Not if they valued keeping their blood out of the water to lessen the chances of hungry sharks, or keeping toxins out of their bloodstreams.

The scuff did not seem to lead to the hollow, and it was obscured enough by some force that he could not be fully sure which direction the movement had been in, even with all of his training. Bethrise continued on past, in the direction that it seemed to indicate.

His pursuer passed by but Justin stayed in case the silver selkie turned back. The guard’s aim was not something he wanted to test again. For all he knew word had been passed to others.

It was a long time before his own guard started to relax.

Longer before he moved the tiniest bit.

Longer yet before he poked his head out to check on if the sea truly was grumpy silver selkie free.

He shook his head, pulled a breath and tried to center, then spoke a prayer in his mind. “Amehana, if you’re at your mirror or listening, I could really use some help.”

There was a delay of several heartbeats. An answer came, wispy and far away. “You’re lucky I’m in meditation and can answer readily. You’ve not had another binding burned in have you? I am,” there was another delay, as if she drew breath and energy or perhaps found the words awkward, “having to feed. I am afraid one of the grandchildren had some problems that I sapped much of my stores on solving. Akaisu went beyond my reach anyway with that blasted mirror he stole.”

“Mirror?” He made his way back toward the last weak point he had been trying to work through in order to get at his quarry where he felt her within the maze. “No. But the girl I’m after. I need to get at her.”

Justin heard a very indelicate snort in his mind, felt the ruffling of dragon breath through whatever recess the prayers went through. “That’s one I’ve heard before. What did you do?”

He flailed internally but sought to keep his body under tight control. Justin’s mental voice could not belie the squeak, however. “That’s not what I meant. Yuck.” He had another thought, but it was not well formed and down deep.

“I heard that. Sadly my companion might agree with you on it sometimes.”

“Should I be worried about what aspect of you hears me when I call?” Justin shook his head, still watching for any return of his adversary. “Do you know an opening rune or such that might help me get in?”

“All aspects of me would be apt to poke those still in mental adolescence. It helps you grow. My own mentors did the same and continue to do so when I approach them.” He felt her attention turn, focus, press questing claws to grasp the question with an effort. “Runes? I thought we covered that runes are not something I have studied much of, as old as I am. I could give you some kanji to experiment with, but the energy isn’t the same.”

He refrained from any comment on age. Who knew how old she might be, and he’d seen what she could do when irritated on Dreamwalks.

“That was still a comment, too. You really need to work on your mental stillness.”

Justin stifled a sigh and chalked this up to either a dragon thing or a kami thing. Perhaps a woman thing. This is what he got for asking for anyone to help him learn what he wasn’t supposed to. At least he could accept it. She didn’t seem as insane as some other deities, yet.

Amehana continued speaking with her voice fading like mist. Hunger licked behind the words and intense exhaustion pulled at bits of him while lightning flickered in his mind’s eye. “Focus your intention. You’ve got magic of your own. It might be dampened from what it should be, but not as bad as it used to be when Dreamweaver first found you. Use it. Don’t bother on the how. I have to go now. I’ll start pulling on you too if I don’t. Too many. Too much. Another crack.”

Then she was gone from his mind.

His skin itched. Her mental touch always seemed to do that to him, more and more the times that he could communicate with her. He rubbed at a rune on his arm that throbbed and burned dully, then picked it like a scab.

“For all I know, it is a scab.” He thought, then wondered where the thought came from. He tried to focus on his intention; get to the girl. He could feel her through the stone of the undersea mound, within formerly jagged and now rounded peaks. The reasons why he needed to get to her blurred more and more as time passed. There was the task he had been set when he’d left what passed for his home. He was supposed to team with that Taint-touched priestess to get her although he wasn’t clear on what would happen then. He was supposed to bring her back.

There was something else beyond his grasp though. Right beyond the fingers of his mind where the lullaby sung from some foggy time before. Before what was as foggy as the source of the song and the reason beyond his task to get to her.

Justin found a thread of magic with his senses and pulled in frustration. There was an answering pull which snapped his eyes open. Gifu and Lagu formed in his mind and tumbled, spun, danced. Sliding against and bumping with each other he saw them form other runes but not settle together long enough for a bind rune like the ones he bore. He pulled again, harder, focusing on his need in, to be past the stone.

They superimposed and created a key. Something clicked and he was burning. The world folded. Notes floated around and he snatched at them, danced over them, hummed them and followed the music. Threads of things wafted by, flashes of other places. Great fingers worked a giant loom and ancient voices sang melodies as fates spun and wove and the clacking of wooden machinery minded the percussion. Justin stuck to the path as well as he could, trying to stay with the music and make his way to Seaswimmer and the Key.

Then the world was back to normal. In his hand Gifu and Lagu separated and split, forming into twins of themselves and somehow seeming not to become diminished in any way. One set slipped into his own being, settling into his palms and fading to leave only faint markings. The other resumed circling the unconscious body before him. Justin knelt on the floor, dipping his fingers in the blood trickling from her nose. Feral magic crackled in response to the prodding.

He sniffed the residue on his fingers, then licked it. The blood should have — and did — taste sweet. Yet his body rejected the sustenance even with how hungry he himself was. Her breath was unnaturally slow and even, and checking her pulse yielded more of the same. He leaned over Kirsty, opened his mouth just a few inches above her face and sucked at where the soul-stuff should be and found less than half of what he expected to be there.

His stomach growled and knotted in complaint, however somehow he was not disappointed at being prevented from a nibble. On the other hand this was bad for more than one reason.

Justin felt guilt. He hefted her over his back anyway, eyes and ears open for any dangers. For now only two paths presented themselves, and neither direction seemed to offer any help. Going back the way he had come was no option. There was no anchor, and if he had been able to use his village as an anchor he would not have the strength to try that again. He wasn’t even sure he knew how he had done what he had.

“You won’t want that direction. Some of the priests are coming down that path for her and guards are closer than they are.” The voice came from just behind his ear, neither masculine nor feminine. Warmth and cold wrapped together in the words, the sound within the stillness startling Justin. “You’ll lose your prize a little quickly.”

Justin spun and brought his tail forward, braced to sweep and rake with the claws in it while he clutched the little selkie. Blood began oozing from phantom cuts, not just her nose.

“Settle your fins, boy. Surely you should know how I feel with how often you play for me.” A white silhouette pulled together and then gained a slight amount of color, a dim light fighting to stretch.

“Who are you?”

“A friend, which you have precious few of down here, at least a friend so long as you cause only what harm you need and nothing more.” The form finalized, and a white-haired warrior smirked at him, hands spread and empty, sword sheathed at his side.

Justin continued watching. Something about the man that he could not pinpoint screamed that this being did not really need any weapons. The fact that he stood on two feet and apparently breathed easily while his hair swirled did nothing to soothe him either.

“Oh come now, you glower at me as if you were her guardian. Go that way, there are some plants you might be able to cajole into helping her.” Ven’thrith pointed amiably in the opposite direction. “Take the right fork when you get to it.” The deity waited with a slight smirk on his face.

After a brief consideration Justin began his way along the route indicated, watching the deity from the corner of his eye. “Thank you…”

The pair moved in silence, Ven’thrith indicating turns and gathering samples from plants they passed until a room opened to the left. The deity ducked inside and Justin followed, by this time somewhat accustomed to his guide. Ven’thrith indicated a bed of furs, various fabrics, and rounded pillows in the corner as he slid the door shut. Rugs laid over the floor and hangings gave some color to the walls. Looking up revealed a moving replica of the path of the stars and moon. While Justin was occupied, Ven’thrith calmly settled nearby and began the task of processing, mist enshrouding his hands to mask the steps.

Justin laid Kirsty out on the bed, more scrapes and bruises somehow having been gained despite how carefully he had carried her. “What’s wrong with her?”

Ven’thrith looked up at the finman from his occupation of processing the plants into paste. “A fight is all that I can assume. What I saw was the child making her way through the maze and then Kirsten collapsed for no visible reason. The nosebleed could have had something to do with it, they seem to go together. However this time she had been motionless for quite some time before it started to bleed.” He shrugged. “This is the most interesting trial I have watched in a very long time, and has the most thumbs in the pie. Obviously this makes for a poor reflecting pool for her to see her own face in, much less for us to guess what will happen.”

Justin narrowed his eyes then rearranged her more comfortably. The deity continued watching and handed over the finished paste. “Here lad, see if you can get her to take some of this. It’ll have to come from you, after all. Oh, wait, one more thing.” Something pricked the hand the shell was almost in and the deity lowered the shell to catch the drop, which quickly sucked in the mist and turned the whole to a very unappetizing brown. “Ok, now it’s ready.”

He found the shell lightly placed in his hand. “If it has my blood in it, won’t that also pass my Taint?”

The moonlit eyes watched him carefully. “That’s the question, is it? I thought your job was to catch her, Taint her, and take her to your village for your Jarl and Seidhermenn to deal with. Was that not what was in your heart when you set out?”

The finman’s grip tightened around the shell. “Who are you?”

“You should know me, lad. I stand by you often enough when you play that lullaby on your flute and ponder how to steal back your soul fully.” Ven’thrith smirked and leaned back on his hands, sprawling carelessly as his eyes seemed to glow even more.

“That’s what I thought at first.” He nodded in reply. “I’m not so sure now.”

“Not wanting to disappoint our little Japanese friend that called on me for you? Or yourself?”

Justin looked over the pallor of the girl. Her chest rose and fell and burgandy hair stirred in the water, and then lay straight in the air. The maze could not seem to decide for itself whether it contained sea, or gas. It was a strange mixture of both that flowed with the ebb and flow of the moon’s dance and planet’s spin, and the breath of gods that he knew he would never fully know nor understand. Something about her face fascinated him and he got a proper look at his long adversary.

This was the girl he’d faced down at the Circle, and other times along the shores of her home trying to beguile her out? This was the girl at the membrane of the cave whose full power he had robbed her of by breaking the caul?

“Both.” He wasn’t sure of the answer at first, but some deep part must have been enough to speak for his conscious mind since it left his lips unbidden.

“Good. That’s good, ‘Tin… Justin.” Ven’thrith continued watching, holding very still and seeing in places that felt like had never seen light since Justin was very small and Americ had taken him under his fin once kidnapped.

“You know who I really am, don’t you?”

Ven’thrith nodded solemnly. “I do. Make me a a suitable offering and I’ll grant you a boon.”

“What would that be? If you are who I think you are, there is always a risk even when the boon goes well.”

The moon deity examined his nails. “I need a post for some weavers that I know of to secure a rip in their tapestry. You won’t feel a thing, so I believe. It will fix several problems at once, but that weaving process will take some time, as you perceive it. It won’t for me, just a sneeze, but time is different for my kind.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“No, not really.” Ven’thrith smiled, a touch of mania brightening his eyes further. “It will be better though if you are willing. Things always work much better when our play pieces are willing.”

Justin sighed. “Alright. Then use me for your post, mending, whatever it is you’re needing done. I just need to know what to do.”

“Good lad. First of the several things that goes with your new quest is to ‘help your sister,’ of course. First step there is getting some of this into her.” He gestured to her lips and Justin slipped the paste where indicated.

Ven’thrith pointed other places out. The ears, the nostrils, closed eyes each received a small daub and the moon drew a rune which Justin found himself copying. The lad hesitated when sealing the breast and loins, but the deity took pity and indicated appropriate places above the body to draw the seals once tiny globs had been scooped and dropped to their marks from the shell, ensuring no contact took place anywhere in the sacred core. Palms, knees, and the soles of the feet were as simple as the seven openings of the head had been. Together the finman and deity watched the magic release and soak into the slumbering girl. The runes danced and sparked, slipping through green, purple, and blue.

Justin bit his lip when he saw the familiar color of the Taint, watched it send vines into the damaged aural shield and roots to her core as other energies spread to where they were needed. He watched as the energy spread along her blood and nerve networks, which he did not know by name but thought of as roots and passages.

“Good… I don’t like it but Astereth will have felt that and will think you’ve achieved what your village sent you to do. It will make him cocky and he’ll make more miscalculations. Hides your defection as well.” The moon smiled dryly. “That paste should help with healing what has been giving her the nosebleeds and the spiritual wound that’s been used to tear her. I think then that we should be able to bring that missing piece back to the correct timeline. The next step we will worry about a bit later.”

A hissing burning sound came from the body that still slumbered, followed by a pop. A backlash of burned and burning energy washed out. Kirsty’s eyelids fluttered, opened sightlessly for a moment. Her mouth opened and released a pulsing green snake of smoke and flame that coiled away with burning red eyes and dripping fangs. Justin grabbed his arm, tore at his bindrunes, and then the snake dissipated with a crystal spray, one of which lodged into Justin and promptly proceeded to burrow and disappear beneath his skin.

“Hmmm, so that’s the worm on the inside. Interesting. Expected. I’m slightly let down. What about you, boy?” He looked to Justin, who looked at him through clouds of confusion.

“Sir?”

Ven’thrith waved his hand, “Nevermind. I suppose you wouldn’t know. Ah, and there are the seams.” He smiled this time, gesturing with his nose toward Kirsty. Her eyes once again were closed and she still wore an expression of grim determination and intent to live. Now there were fading marks where the half of her soul she did possess was sewn back to herself, and spectral hands busily at work with needle and thread. The halfpelt now was so thin that she could easily pass for human in any swimsuit.

“Will she be ok? Whose hands are those?” Justin reached forward, forgetting the flare pain that still caused his teeth to be ungritting themselves with slow disbelief that it had been over so swiftly.

Ven’thrith stopped his hand, squeezing it fiercely and yanking back although keeping a serene look in place. “She will be fine, you’ve done what needs doing for now. As to whose hands those are, do you know the tale of Vassalisa?”

Justin nodded slowly. “Americ likes to tell that one often.”

“Then you know the answer I have to give.”

Justin nodded even slower. “Some things it’s better not to know.”

“Even so.” Replied the moon deity. “I will say the answer is one of the things that drove me mad.” He grinned and patted Justin on the head. “We should get up, we have company coming. Thus the next phase begins!”

The door burst open, two squidling-octopid guards squeezed through together in a mass of reddish greens and purples, each bearing a sword and shield while black beaks clacked at everything the red whorls of their eyes fell upon. Wordlessly, without so much as a stereotypical halt, they pressed and stretched writhing tentacles toward the intruder. Ven’thrith calmly adjusted his position and slipped better between the finman — already in his battle stance in front of his still comatose sister — and the guardians of the deeps.

“My lord?” One, the superior clacked, darting his eyes to the shining shifting face but refusing to meet the galactic eternities in Ven’thrith’s eyes. “We were sent to deal with that abomination. Is it that you wish to deal with him yourself for desecrating our Lady’s Labyrinth?”

“In my fashion. Technically he is not desecrating, but late a few years.” Ven’thrith gave a thin, high giggle that ran claws over stone and raked the bones of those possessed of them, the beaks of those not. He shifted his form, slimming and his face narrowing, the garb of a warrior flowing into robing that priests had long ago based their own ritual garb on. “You may escort us and announce us, although I believe our High Priestess is already aware of my presence. I will also require some food for my new Avowed.” He turned and pinned Justin with his eyes, and Justin returned his gaze unaware of why the guards would not meet that of their lord. “Justin. You will carry her.”

The younger of the guards opened his beak, brow furrowed, and then clacked it shut again at the shaking head and hooked tentacle of his superior. Instead he nodded, turned, allowed his superior to exit first and lead the way.  Ven’thrith followed and walked beside the guard with a small smile darting about his face like a silvered guppy. He knew the way but the guards had all become accustomed to the strange insistence that the visiting deity had of not walking before them, in the manner that their resident deity preferred to swish when she deigned to take a visible form. The finman followed, carrying the unconscious half-selkie cradled to his chest like a clutch of eggs.

The awkward tenderness and protectiveness, the way the horrid creature seemed to try to shield the future priestess from himself, the guard sent to retrieve her from the testing interruption, was unexpected by the eight limbed one. He couldn’t help blinking and clacking quietly as he brought up the rear to prevent either escape or attack from behind by Mara’s pets. His skin swirled through muddy colors, though he and his superior still stayed as alert to the refuse in their midst as the dangers around them.

“Raechel.” Kirsty’s angry hiss paused them momentarily, all eyes swiveling to her gritted teeth, the sweat on her brow and her taste in the viscus mixture around them.

Ven’thrith’s eyes narrowed as the guard’s widened and flicked to each other and then around as if the pair expected her to descend in cloud and lightning, the spear she was entrusted with crackling and calling for their blood.

“Bethrise needs to rein her in it seems. Someone should fetch him later when we get everything else taken care of.” Ven’thrith’s voice tightened in his throat.

“My lord.” The guards echoed each other, vague gestures with unoccupied tentacles speaking that they would see to it.

Justin tried not to squeeze the slight frame in his arms, and instead merely placed one finned foot in front of the other as their progression began again.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-03-24 03:06 pm

Update news

 I'm getting near 3,000 words in the chapter "Stitches and Tears" and I think it is about ready to wrap up and release it. Just another bit to go and then a good read over before I can push out the full chapter in one update. It should not be long now before that next installment for Selkies' Skins goes up. I hope to have it ready sometime this weekend.
rainstardragon: (Default)
2017-02-20 04:14 pm

Book Review: Circle of Ceridwen #2

 Book: Circle of Ceridwen, volume two

Author: Octavia Randolph

I have this book in a collection consisting of books one through three, but wish to review each book separately as I finish them.
I am exceedingly pleased with this story and look forward to reading the next book. The plot is full of twists and turns that I had not expected when I finished reading the first book, and which I did not expect when opening this volume.
Ceridwen remains a very strong female and the adventure is now bound to home and navigating the problems of life as a noble woman. The love triangle has expanded to admit another male, the brother of her husband. Though it costs her much she gives to this man his greatest wish, a son, thus also granting the wish of his wife who is unknowing of the details. All of this happens amidst the turmoils of war. Although this book has a great deal of romance I would still recommend this to a person that normally would not read romance. The desire of Ceridwen to have the best for everyone makes this a good deal more than a bodice ripper.
rainstardragon: (Default)
2016-12-30 04:50 pm

Farewell, Faith

Earlier today (the blog is already updated with the news, but I got interrupted) I received word from her daughter that our editor Faith Lindgren-Brown passed away. She was an amazing woman that I will always remember as full of life and exuberant stories. In recognition she will remain as editor in memoriam on the website once the site is updated.
 
She's probably going to be helping me spot things when I do editing work for other authors, and also for anyone that does proofing or editing for a project under the THG StarDragon aegis. Faith was the editor for the second edition of Dragon Shaman: Taming the Blowing Wind, Dragon Shaman: The Smoky Mirror, and Selkies' Skins​: Castle and Well.
 
Faith is survived by four great children and her partner. She is loved and missed, and should always be remembered as a warrior, especially as she was with us far longer than what doctors projected. Faith certainly showed them.
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2016-12-13 02:09 pm

Selkies' Skins 2: Chapter 13 Skinned, pt 4


Welcome back to the story! If you don't wish to use the Selkies' Skin tag to find the entries, check the ToC on the Sticky Note at Dreamwidth. Story is mirrored to myLiveJournal, from my Dreamwidth, as well as on a dedicated site. For story news and more, subscribe to my Twitter (@AmehanaArashi) or go on Facebook and like either THG StarDragon Publishing or Selkies' Skins. As always, the main tag for the full story is selkies' skins and the tag for "Temple and Skinquest" is selkies' skins 2.

Book one (Castle and Well) of Selkies' Skins is available in entirety in ebook format as of March 16th, beginning at Smashwords. The print edition is now available on Amazon and Lulu with Samantha Buckley's stunning cover depicting Kirsty and the storm. An audio edition of the first book in the series narrated by Illya Leonov and now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, with other venues pending. He has finished "Book of Seals: Pearls of Sea and Stone" which accompanies and precedes Selkies' Skins: Castle and Well which will be available in full audiobook format soon. (click to hear what he sounds like in past recordings of other projects)


Interested in helping support the free version of this book and other projects? Visit http://www.patreon.com/Amehana



Selkies' Skins 2
Section 2: Temple's Light
Installment 34
Chapter 13 part 4
Skinned

 

Belial returned to his sanctuary, glad of the temporary relief from the pounding that always came whenever he needed to do large workings beyond his usual operations. Brooding over his secret selkie wife and her tendency to be drawn by traps and trouble was far more tolerable than dealing with the elderly biersal muttering to him about the quality of the beer the other family members would leave for them. Even less tolerable was the thought of actually dealing with any of his family. Especially his naggy mother. The library was his safe place from her demands and whatever oily match she would invariably propose.

The bloody glow of his sanctuary killed the wisp of good mood he had managed to gain from the warmth of the skin telling him that Salena still lived, however angered she was. Looking round nothing seemed to be touched.

“Show me what happened.” His eyes snapped on the gazing orb, narrow and iced. In reply the mist coalesced and formed shapes. In the space of a breath lifelike fiery representations showed him exactly what had transpired while he had been gone.

“Lovely, as if one living selkie isn’t enough to hide, now I have a naked treasure raiding one in the vault and I know somehow Mother will know. That’s going to be lovely to explain dreams of.” He ground out, nostrils twitching under influence of the skin he carried.

The gazing ball pulled its mist into the spirit’s vaguely hominid form, which nodded solemnly, though wearing an expression that spoke clearly of how tired it had been of trying to gain his attention.

“Yes, fine. I’ll give your voice back later tonight if I’m not too worn out.” Belial sighed as he drew his wand and proceeded to unlock the chamber behind the fireplace.

The construction of the library had long ago revealed to his forebears the cave system that it tapped. That same system through another door had often given him other sorts of sanctuary than the chamber the family treasures now claimed. Down the passage he went, forgoing the magical aid that would have teleported him directly to it, hoping for a bit of surprise on his side. Even light he eschewed, instead placing one foot in front of the other in the endless night and feeling his way by hand and foot.

“I wish Linxi was here, he’d be helpful right now. Dragonchild or not.” Belial thought, envying briefly his First Mate’s ability to move in similar darkness without being so ungainly.

Every step measured carefully, he made certain not to stray in the labyrinth. Though he could not see there was the sense of walking within a giant shell. At times it felt like something moved around him, sought to fold itself and move to a new location. Perhaps flesh of the spectral creature long gone, if he allowed his fancy free rein. The passage did not shift though, pinned as it was. Finally he came to the round in the downward spiral of the passage where the last of the doors slumbered.

It gave off heat. Angry and searing; the door burnt without burning far more than the times he had been inside with his father after another of the cullings. His heart pounded faster and harder, rebelling against the feeling in his bones and blood and the very thing that allowed him to see and speak with the spirits without bodies. Carefully he pushed the door open, sword drawn from his waist where it always dwelled, wand hidden within. He slipped inside just in time to see the dark selkie slip into the once sacred pool, changing her form as she went. Beside the pool — far enough aside that the water would not reach him — stood Astereth, though the water rose up not against him.

“Ah, you are late to the party my boy, though I’d not invited you.” The hint of a smile curled Astereth’s voice, teasing and chastising at once.

“I thought you’d still be resting from the last I saw you.”

“Oh, you’d not gotten me quite as wet as you’d thought when you dropped in the Black Gate. It was a good try though.”

Belial looked for anything he could drive this shred of Astereth into. The nearest that he could see was a sword that he knew would be missed by anyone the next time they came in to make use of one of the treasures. He continued glancing around without being obvious, seeking out something better, or wherever the weak point between the planes must be. There was always a portal whenever anything broke or strained bonds. “I suppose you’d like to talk of your great plans some more.” If he was lucky maybe he could keep him talking.

“Oh, you didn’t seem interested the last I met with you though. Tossed the pretty in.” The face of flame curled its lips. “Tried to toss me in. Some thanks for your family’s fortune and power.”

“It’s not all from you, Master. If I remember the stories rightly you chose us for a reason. But I ask again what is your game?”

“Well, since you really seem interested, and maybe I can bring you back to the fold. I’ve sent the dark one down to fish up the Gate. I’ve told her she may use it.”

“How is she one of yours? I thought all of the selkies still pledged to Mara.”

“I’m not sure, but I’m not looking a gift seal in the mouth. It matters not how she got it, she bears my touch. That is enough. She obeys far better than some humans I could mention. Particularly randy ones such as yourself.” Astereth looked at Belial pointedly.

He clenched his jaw but let the jibe pass. “I suppose you’ve not told her how to use it.”

“Of course not. How can I when I don’t even know how it was used? You know though. Perhaps I can convince you to pass on that knowledge if you don’t want your father to know the things you’ve done and probably hope to continue to do.” The man of fire settled himself on a chest out of splash range from the pool.

Belial had still not found anything suitable to try driving this remnant into, nor where the veil Between was thing enough to be seen through. “You wish to blackmail me.”

“Of course. You’ve transgressed. I like to think myself a reasonable deity though and extend this opportunity for forgiveness.”

“Deity? Have you found some way to increase yourself where you are bound in?” His eye fell on a whorled silver pin reminiscent of a shell, only partially exposed from the heap spilled at the bottom of another chest and mostly covered by a length of green cloth shot with silver. His sister had a habit of never putting everything back when going through a chest, and the haphazard spill looked like some of her work, though he couldn’t tell how recent. He prayed internally to Mara and the Weissefrau for the ability to shut Astereth more firmly away, away from where he might harm Salena. The skin hidden on him warmed.

“Now, why would I tell you if I had?” The now long inhuman mage laughed. “I still exist, does this not place me among them as is my right?”

“To gloat?” Belial settled himself lightly on the chest, leaning down as if to tidy the mussed fabric and tuck it back inside before making contact. He plucked the brooch from the fabric and palmed it. “I thought you liked that.”

Astereth blinked, and then he laughed. “I had forgotten why you were my favorite. You have not answered me though.”

The fire in his blood tugged insistently, burned in his veins imperiously, sought to reach into his mind and heart to do his bidding. Belial prayed harder to the water goddesses, careful to screen his thoughts and heart from Astereth even though he felt little hope they would hear and answer despite his wife being theirs. “Please, any help of any sort in this, not for me, but for Salena’s sake. Help me protect my wife from my Master. Help me lock away or send away this part of him, even if I die here today.”

 *Note: biersal. The biersal is a type of German house elf type of fairy. Where in the British Isles they generally receive milk, bread, and/or honey the German variety likes their keep in the form of Beer.
Note 2: The story of Salena and Belial is external to Kirsty's story, although it does directly impact her own and her skinquest. There are notes on the end of Selena and Belial's story in a patron only posting. I may do notes on the story of how they met and why they married as another patron only posting.
Note 3: The lad from the ship does later down the line have descendants in school with Kirsty. I did heavily consider feeding him to ancestors of David. The Lady's German counterpart (who has close ties to The Hooded One) allows the wolves she called to do what they will or to let the lord of the hunt decide.
Note 4: Yes the ties on Kirsty and Raechel from their outer world and own time lives are causing the deities and Astereth some confusion and bemusement. It is not supposed to be until they and Justin return to outer world/ normal time where they are supposed to give evidence of this timeslip. Time for them does not run the same as it does for Kirsty and us.

 

Thank you for reading along with the webnovel version of this book. This has gone up on the Web Fiction Guide, so reviews of the current story developing are welcome, as are votes.

Please do consider making a donation, or buying the complete book (or even the whole series, as it becomes available). The donations help pay costs such as editing, but also help put food on the table. Rather make an offline tip? Write me for a mailing address.
Donate Here via Paypal

Or you can become a monthly patron through Patreon!

As always, if you see any typos, please let me know so I can fix those, they don't always save when applied. I repeat that this is the webnovel version of the book and may differ somewhat from the print and ebook versions when the text is completed and through processing. Thank you for being part of the story behind the story.


rainstardragon: (Default)
2016-12-11 11:49 pm

Current manuscript word count

 The new installment for Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest will be going up soon. I've gone through and checked what my current word count is for the full manuscript. This second book as of today is at 53,358 words.