Prologue

Emarie

“Songmagic is strong within her. It’s obvious even without the enchantment. Her innate abilities are impressive.” Maddame Chintzwood whispered curtly. “Undoubtedly, I can sense it too. But that would mean she’s a Legacy of old blood. Is such a thing even possible? Legend tells they left no lineage.” Professor Figg whispered from the corner of her mouth. “She can’t have had any training outside the Academy, so it must be. I can’t see any other way.” The first woman retorted. “Regardless of how, she has the gift and she’ll need training. We have to take her.” The second sighed.  

They watched her playing with the other orphans. She seemed to be friends with all of them. While she sang, those around her were fascinated. They grinned from ear to ear. 

“Is she to your liking? She is quite tall for her age, strong too. She’d make a lovely daughter for anyone. She could easily work a plow in a few years. She sings as well, as you see. Maybe she could perform, even being only five. She’ll be lovely in a few years, you’ll have no trouble finding her a husband. No doubt you’d easily recoup her cost in one way or another.” The two women tensed when he spoke from just behind them.  

His name was Mr. Borgis and he owned the dilapidated orphanage. It was known far and wide of poor living standards and unscrupulous morality when it came to the sale of children. It was lesser known that he also willingly sent his charges into prostitution rings. The man was tall and thin with porcelain skin and a receding hairline. He was constantly sweaty. Both women had noticed his fine clothing’s striking contrast with that of the children the moment he had greeted them. 

Professor Figg bristled as she rounded on him, “Many consider children a blessing rather than an expense, sir.” He feigned being hurt by her words, “Of course, of course. I meant no disrespect. I only mean that orphans are neither cheap to purchase or raise. Kids are expensive. I’m a bit of an expert, you see. Though I could see how two women such as yourselves… Rather, couples who cannot have children, must pay for the right.”  

Both women blanched, but said nothing and instead returned their attention to the girl. She now had the entire room clapping along with her newest song. 

“We’ll take her. What is the price?” Madame Chintzwood asked. She instantly realized this was a mistake. He frowned and stroked his bare chin, “She’s by far the most desirable orphan to grace my chateau in some years. No doubt a fair price would be substantial. Perhaps you should consider one of the others…” Figg silenced him, “Stop your games and name your price, Borgis.” He grinned smugly, “We should discuss this matter over cold water. I’d offer tea, but times have been hard recently. There’s no coin for such extravagances. We must keep the children fed before all else, you see.” 

“There’s no need. Name it.” Chintzwood said flatly. He smirked greedily, “I couldn’t part with her for less than twenty-five gold coins, I’m afraid. I have a potential buyer lined up and he is offering twenty.” Both women shuddered, but quickly produced the amount. He seemed annoyed, no doubt he was thinking he should have asked for more. 

He snapped his fingers and nodded to one of the ghastly attendants. She glided to the girl and pointed to the women. The girl’s face lit up like the Sun as she practically danced over to the women. 

“Is it true? Are you taking me home?” she asked. Professor Figg beamed down at her and went to a knee to be level with her eyes. “Yes, dear. It’s true. You’re coming home with us. You should gather your things and say your goodbyes to your friends. Don’t worry, I promise to be here when you get back!” she gently touched the girl’s nose. She frowned, “Things? What things?” She looked to Mr. Borgis. 

“These children have no belongings. Anything they arrive with is sold to pay a part of their expense. As I have said, children get expensive. She has nothing beyond what you see.” He was recounting his coins and only answered absently. “That’s barbaric.” Madame Chintzwood scowled. He retorted with a dismissive wave of his hand, “That is the way of the world. Life isn’t fair, Ms. Chinfoost or whatever your name is. The girl is yours now. Do as you will with her. I have more important matters to attend, so I assume you’ll be leaving soon.” He ignored their glares as he walked through a doorway and locked the door behind him.  

“You will be treated much better where you’re going, child. My heavens, where are my manners? I am Professor Figg and this is my associate, Madame Chintzwood. What is your name, little one?” The girl brightened without Mr. Borgis’s presence, “My name is Emarie! It’s nice to meet both of you!” She curtsied clumsily.  

Her eyes sparkled with potential.

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Saturday Scene: Raddox

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“Don’t worry, Fitz. These boys, for they are boys, won’t be any trouble to anyone today. If fact, they might learn something about being a man.” He tipped his hat to them, “Go on and leave before you get hurt, children. Run along and play somewhere else.” The innkeeper’s son blanched. He clearly wasn’t used to dealing with defiance. “Yer talkin’ brave words, pretty man. Regretful words…” They each readied their clubs and spread out to surround him. “Course not, but I will defend myself if I need to.” He turned his back on them, “Sit a bit Fitz, enjoy your drink and rest your bones.” Fitz did sit and uncorked a small bottle of cheap brandy with a shaky hand. He took a sip to calm himself.

The outraged tuffs weren’t used to being spoken down to, but they often resorted to using physicality to get their way. They rushed him at the same time after a slight nod from the Innkeeper’s boy. Their clubs thudded together where he had just been.

Raddox was suddenly behind them. In the next moment, he pulled the leader’s feet out from under him. He landed face down in the sand. The other two turned toward him. Raddox gripped their wrists and twisted them painfully backwards, forced them upwards, then wrenched them downwards. The end result was a pair of dislocated shoulders. They dropped their makeshift batons in pain and cradled their limp arms.

The leader tried to stand, spitting sand, but Raddox delivered a stomp between his shoulders, forcing him back into the ground. He then spun in place and knocked the legs out from under the other two. They landed hard on their injured shoulders. The larger blacked out from pain. The smaller vomited, writhing in agony.

The dirty faced leader whipped his weapon around blindly and missed Raddox’s ankle by a few inches. He fought to gain his feet and was allowed to stand. He let the young man attack, easily dodging each. Raddox barely seemed to move but was always a few inches from danger.

After a change of tact and thrust of the nail spiked club, Raddox ripped it loose and caught the boy’s elbow. He used his other hand for leverage and shoved hard. The joint turned backwards. There was a sick pop. Raddox’s heavy boot met his ribs with several audible cracks. He kicked out, while twisting his body over the boy’s arm, and a satisfying crunch let him know the shoulder was tearing free of its socket. Raddox regained his feet and flipped the limp limb over the boy’s other shoulder giving him a stern boot to the rear for good measure. The Innkeeper’s son fell to the ground and sucked desperately at the air like a fish out of water. Finally, he regained enough air to begin crying.

“You need to learn how to respect your elders.” Raddox knelt over him, inches from his face. The innkeeper’s son stared into an infinite void. Something in that gaze made him go silent. His eyes were glassy and distant.

Fitz stood without Raddox noticing, something he wouldn’t have believed possible. When he gripped Raddox’s shoulder, the face that turned to him was a wide smile with far too many teeth. His crimson eyes flashed. Fitz recoiled at the sight and tripped over his own hammer, “Yer… Yer a monstah!” He gasped aloud.

Raddox had not planned this, but he was revealed for what he was, “Yes. Many have called me that. I’m a monster…” The smaller thug who had managed to gain his feet at some point, used his good hand to point and scream, “Monstah! Monstah!” Raddox turned to him. Fitz began to run in the opposite direction. “You’re a useless man child who is all alone. What is your plan now?” The boy looked at his friends, then desperately toward old man Fitz. He lost his nerve and ran toward the town as best he could while holding his broken arm painfully against his chest.  

Raddox was suddenly ahead of him with a smile that all teeth. The boy skidded in place before turning to flee a different direction, but the monster was here too. He fell blankly to his knees with his head down, ready to accept his fate. “You will apologize to Fitz. Neither you or your friends will ever bother him or anyone else ever again, am I understood?” The boy nodded, sobbing. He looked into those alien eyes, then fainted. He pissed his pants and the odor soured the sea air.

Raddox turned to Fitz only to find the man had dropped his brandy, after chugging half, and was already a few dozen yards down the coastline. He sighed. He should have expected such a reaction. He couldn’t let Old Fitz tell the town. There’d undoubtedly be a few who believed him and would want answers. Word travels fast in small places.

It took only a few seconds to catch Fitz. His supernatural speed made the task an easy one. In another blink, he snatched the man’s wrist in one hand and neck in the other. He applied only a small amount of pressure to each, not wishing to harm the pleasant fellow, but knowing he must prevent any further alarm. He bit the left wrist just below the thumb, where the radial artery pulsed. He drank carefully.

He was now in total control.  

Currently Reading: The First Confessor

My darling wife convinced me to read her favorite book series, The Sword of Truth, about six years ago. Ever since, I have been absolutely hooked on the world created by Terry Goodkind.

Goodkind is an exceptional world builder. Whatever criticisms people may have of his work, they cannot deny this fact. As I listen to The First Confessor audio book while traveling to and from my job each day, I can’t help but to be pulled into his elegantly interwoven landscapes, cities, and the politics/peoples within. His words enable me to picture a walk through the Wizard’s Keep in Aydindril, see the Spirits with the Mud People, and imagine the pain inflicted by Mordsith. The stories are painted on the canvas of these worlds. I only hope that my future readers are even half as excited to read of the world in my head.

If you enjoy adventure, magic, romance, war, friendship, conflict, and in-depth descriptions……The Sword of Truth Series (and all connecting novels) is for you!

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Character’s Corner-Ashe

Welcome to Character’s Corner

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Ashe is honor-bound and hell bent on clearing her name. She excels in combat, but keeps her kind’s gentle spirit. Towering at nearly six and half feet (not including her velvet-tipped bunny ears), her muscular yet feminine physique exudes a power matched well with determination. Her training has been years in the making and keeps her strong. Vibrant green eyes divulge wisdom beyond her years, commanding attention.

Find out more about Ashe in this interview with B.A.Peery…

How old is she?

-Mid 30’s physically, mentally she bounces between a teen and an old woman. She had to grow up quickly.

Did she have a happy childhood?  Why/why not?

-No. Her parents were murdered and her village burned at about 4.

Past/ present relationships?  How did they affect her?

-She is married to her duty.

What does she care about?

-Her duty, her honor, and her friends

Biggest fear?

-Failure.

Biggest secret?

-She is afraid to show her softer side. She tries to hide her emotions.

What is the one word you would use to define her?

-Determination

 

Balance in Writing

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Writing and Editing, while undeniably linked, are two completely different animals. Writing is so liberating! It uncorks the mental pressure and allows one to exercise creative muscles. Without structure, however, it has too much free reign. Editing is the cage around that free spirit. It forces conformity and sets limitations. Editing also gives the writing a calculable worth and a sense of purpose.
Trying to find that balance today, here’s to hoping you do too.
Writing and Editing. Yin and Yang.
-B.A.Peery

Fight Scene Friday (excerpt from novel)

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Gashamael unsheathed his scimitar testing the edge, “I’ll strike a bargain, cully. You have spunk, I like spunk in my women. You can choose: die here, alongside your crew or give up your little sword and you can live out your days as a ship slave girl aboard this very ship. What’cha say, little girl?” He grinned with a mouth nearly full of golden teeth. 

She spat at him in response, “I’ll give you no such choice. I hereby sentence you to die, by the salt of the sea. If you die by single combat, I’ll allow any survivors to go below as my prisoners to be punished for your crimes accordingly. If any intervene, I’ll end every last one of you and send your ship into the sea.” She sheathed her rapier and took the time to tie back her hair in a quick bun. She didn’t need distractions. 

The pirate gallery cackled anew at this and he joined them. “I don’t need help with the likes of you. I’ll try not to cut off anything too pretty, the boys don’t mind a warm body, but no need to spoil pert flesh even so.” He fingered the notched edge of his well-used sword, giving her a wink. She began to say more but he lunged, expecting to catch her off guard. His attack was off balance. She easily whipped out her rapier and parried landing four quick ripostes and returned to her defensive stance. Both of his cheeks were bleeding along with his chest and right bicep. The wounds were only slightly more than superficial, but would leave scars should he walk away from this battle. 

He touched the freely bleeding cuts and licked his fingers clean with a surprised grin, “There’s that spunk. You’re getting me warmed up, girl. Stand back, lads, but don’t let her jump overboard. You might get a show after all”.  

The two came together in a deadly dance. She remained defensive and he continued as the aggressor. Each time she dodged or parried it sent him reeling with counter strokes. His shirt was soon in tatters and his body sweated blood. He was panting now, seeming to notice his shirt for the first time, “If you wanted me undressed, all you had to do was ask. No need for all this foreplay.” The words were a clever means of buying time to regain his breath. He panted heavily and ripped away the ruined cloth, tossing it to the ground. He turned and pulled a second cutlass from one of his men’s hands, “Play time is over, no more games, girl.” 

She nodded her agreement, “No more fooling around.” She was in a deadly calm, her reflexes were heightened, completely composed. While he now panted, she had regained her stamina. He whirled both weapons and charged clashing them as he came. At the last moment, Rinoa slid deftly between his legs while dragging her foil against the inside of his thigh leaving a deep gouge that spurted blood. She regained her feet. She slid her blade neatly through the eye socket of the newly unarmed pirate. He dropped instantly, dead on the spot. She spun in time to see the spurts of blood shooting from Gashamael’s newest wound letting her know she had nicked the artery. He ignored it and became enraged. 

She danced away from his newfound fury, just avoiding his blades each time. She had no time to counter now, but also no intention of doing so. She allowed him to chase her about as if he had the edge. He weakened and stumbled as the blood loss finally began catching up to him. “You’re looking a bit pale, pirate lord. Need you a nap before we finish our dance?”, she cooed with a wink. He stumbled again slashing wildly, but landing on his face instead. The oil mixed with the blood of a thousand wounds running down his body. 

She turned her back on him, “Your lord is as worthless an excuse for a fighter as the rest of you. I want you all to know that you were fools to follow him and that you will all die for your ignorance.” The furious crew growled as one and raised their weapons, intending to finish what their captain had been unable to.  

Rinoa knew her ship. She backflipped as they rushed her, leaping off one bald man’s skull, deftly avoiding his blade, and snatched a rope while slicing it cleanly in two. The counterweight hauled her atop the workings of the sails far away from the danger below. She gained her balance with whirling arms, sheathed her blade, and ran along the thick beam. She dove and snagged another line, slicing it as she went and flew to the rear of the vessel. She snatched one of the heavy lanterns lit for the darkness of the storm. She hurled it into the rushing crowd which parted as it crashed.  

When it hit the deck the glass shattered. The entire deck ignited and blue-green flame flashed all around. Then men had been splashing the oil all over themselves while fighting without realizing and were now flailing about, blazing corpses. “Tell the Undergods that you were sent by Rinoa, a ‘little girl’. ” She sprinted toward the gangplanks hoping she could loosen them enough before the fire spread to the Plaguewind. She was alone and hoped she could crew it by herself. It was her only chance. 

A stout grip snatched her ankle and the sudden jerk sent her weapon tumbling into the ocean. To her horror, she saw the charred hulk of Gashamel holding her back. She could feel his burning, stinking breath on her face. It seared with the flame which now consumed him. The fire licked closer as the center mast gave way and crashed down. “No girl… You belong to the sea now. You can speak to the Undergods yourself…” She fought with everything she had left, kicking viscously and finally wriggled away. She leapt desperately into the ocean.

To be continued…

Biggest Supporter. Toughest Critic.

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Sometimes I just can’t believe how everything falls so perfectly into place. Let me explain:

I fell for my wife first and foremost for her mind. We share many common interests but by far the most prominent of these is our mutual love of stories. She reads much faster than I, continuously surprising me with her skill and always preferring the longer tales. Rachael has a love of the English language in written form and an unbelievable vocabulary. She’s a teacher by trade and a strict grader (you should hear the reviews she gave my earlier writing!). She doesn’t pull any punches, so to speak, which is appreciated.

In other words, I have to have married the perfect editor for my writing without even realizing it. Her suggestions always make the stories better. I couldn’t have paid someone to be more of exactly what I need right now.

My love for you, and our sweet son, stretches through this life and the next, my Rachael.

-B.A.Peery