Blog Tour ~ The Thieves of Nottica

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Blog Tour ~ The Thieves of Nottica
Author: Ash Gray
Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk
Tour Dates: 3rd – 7th of April
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:
In a world where humans are evil, invading aliens, Rigg is the youngest member of the Keymasters, a band of professional thieves who use their skills to defy an overbearing government known as the Hand. It is a world full of pollution, intrusive surveillance cameras, and injustice, where any who “give the finger to the Hand” are punished with death. The Keymasters are hired to steal a highly sought after treasure, but when one of their number is lost during the job, they find themselves the tools in a power play for said treasure — a mysterious lockbox that no one can open. To ultimately survive in the end, the Keymasters must battle their way through mechanical monsters, airships, and politics, literally going through shit (they travel through a sewage pipe) to make it out alive.

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Authors Bio:
Ash Gray is a dragon with minuscule spectacles perched on her nose, living in a wonderfully dank, musty cave far away in an alternate universe. She types her stories with gigantic claws on a ridiculously small typewriter before sending them through a membrane and into your dimension for your enjoyment.

I am the scariest thing you’ll find in the dark, forsaken places, with breath of fire and claws that shred. “Dragon!” they scream as I rip them red.
Visit them at:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14603050.Ash_Gray
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A.-D.-Gray/e/B003DXYVII

 

excerpt

 

When Rose awoke, she could hear voices speaking quietly, and the room was so vast and so empty, they echoed off the walls in a whispered refrain. She went very still, too afraid to open her eyes, listening with building dread to the whispers that surrounded her. She could feel that she was lying on a metal table, for its cold stung the back of her arms and her legs, which seemed to be bare in that chill room. She tried moving her hand, and when it did not respond, her brain flew into a panic and tears filled her eyes. She was unhappy to realize that she could open them if she wanted and squeezed them shut tight, too afraid of what she might see. Her heart thundered in her chest as she tried to imagine where she was, if she had been kidnapped . . . if Oliver was dead.

The voices fell silent, and somehow, without even looking, Rose knew they were waiting for her to open her eyes. She didn’t want to. She just wanted to wake up in her hotel room again, with Oliver beside her in bed, laughing and stuffing his face with popcorn as he watched tv.

“Rose,” said a man’s voice, buzzing as if from a speaker. “Open your eyes. It’s alright. You are safe.”

Rose swallowed hard. Somehow, she knew that voice, but she couldn’t recall where she’d heard it before. Her eyes slowly fluttered open, and her heart shrank to see the man standing over her. He was wearing a tropical shirt and a pair of khaki shorts, and her lips parted in surprise when she recognized him as the young man from the bar, only now his eyes were solid black instead of warm brown. His golden brown skin appeared dusky in the dim light, and matted blonde locks fell twisted into his eyes, which reflected the overhead light like black water.

The room was very dimly lit, but straining to look past the bartender, Rose could see the curving walls were lined with pod after pod. The translucent brown sacks all contained black-eyed fetuses that were curled and gurgling softly, a strange warbling sound that rose like a background buzz in the vast chamber.

As she glanced around, Rose realized her table was in the very center of the room. On a table beside her, the corpse of a dead woman was stretched, and Rose went still, staring at that body in silent dismay. The woman was beautiful, with smooth brown skin and pale blonde hair, high cheekbones and full lips. She was wearing what looked like a white hospital gown, and glancing down, Rose realized she was wearing the same garb.

The dead woman’s eyes were barely open, solid black orbs that stared in frowning agonies she could feel no more. The front of her hospital gown was bloody and her legs were up in stirrups, as if she had died in childbirth.

Rose’s eyes turned back to the bartender in fright and confusion. She tried to speak but her throat flexed, her lips moved, and nothing came out. Her lashes fluttered and she tried again. Tears started to her eyes when she realized she could only make the barest moan.

“You can not speak,” the bartender gently told Rose, his voice buzzing still, as if he were speaking through a dying microphone. “Which is just as well. There is no need for you to. You need merely listen. It is paramount that you do so.” He paused, as if to make certain Rose was indeed listening.

Rose glared at him. She didn’t care what he had to say or what was important him. He had drugged her and kidnapped her and had probably murdered her husband to boot! She could still feel the drowsing effects of the drug and glanced around in a listless daze as she raged against her own helplessness. It seemed to her as if the world was spinning the harder she tried to scream, but nothing came out of her mouth and her chest heaved in vain. Whatever drug they had given her, it had stolen her voice.

“You have been selected,” said the bartender, “to carry one in the fifteen thousand eggs of her royal highness, Empress Nashal, of our beloved planet Qorlec.” His black eyes went to the dead woman on the adjoining table and they filled with affection.

Rose watched, heart thudding fear, as people with surgical masks came forward. Like the bartender and the dead woman, their eyes were solid black and their skin was brown and their hair blonde. There were two of them and they were women. One gently closed the dead woman’s eyes with fingers that were spindly and long, while the other shook her head in silent sorrow, gently taking each of the woman’s legs down from the stirrups.

“Our empress passed away as we smuggled her from the homeworld,” said the bartender regretfully and his eyes saddened as he gestured at the surrounding pods on the walls. “But she managed to lay every last one of her eggs. She did so prematurely, knowing she would die but that it was best for the survival of the empire.”

Rose glared at the bartender, wondering why she should care.

“Each one of the fifteen thousand princesses needs a womb and a place to hide on your planet, until the rebel forces have regained control of Qorlec. Because you are one in ten thousand humans who are biologically compatible with our people, because you are healthy, intelligent, and – by estimation of our brain scanners – kind and compassionate, we have chosen you to carry one of our royal eggs. When the time is right, we will return to Earth for the girl.”

How do they even know it would be a girl? Rose wondered in listless misery.

The bartender’s lips curled in a slight smile, as if he were listening to her thoughts. “Ninety percent of the eggs that hatch to our women are female. Men on our planet are something of an anomaly. The queen’s sister would have been a perfect replacement in the event of her death, but she has disappeared.” He blinked regretfully. “We believe the regime has taken her.”

There was a bang in the distance, and the room rocked. The lamp above Rose wobbled, gliding its spotlight through the dark in a white circle and swinging dangerously before the bartender caught it deftly in one long-fingered hand. He looked with alarm beyond the edge of the light’s sphere, and following his gaze, Rose could see people in white coats staggering amidst sliding furniture as the room swayed. They screamed and shouted in a language Rose could not understand, scrambling to gather falling trays and instruments.

The sound of a clicking voice buzzed something frantic over an intercom, and several people ran in and out of the room. Lights on the walls blinked in duress, and the fetuses stopped their soft gurgling to shriek in horror. There was another bang and a crash, and someone screamed in pain as somewhere far away, glass shattered.

“My god,” muttered the bartender, his voice buzzing still. “They’ve found us. It’s begun.” He braced himself against Rose’s table and looked down at her apologetically. “If the regime captures us, there will be no hope of saving the royal children. You may be the only one we manage to impregnate – Gralik! Hurry! We’ve little time now!”

Rose saw three women come running to her table. As the bartender stepped back into the shadows, they surrounded her, peering down at her from behind their white surgical masks. Two were dressed in white scrubs, while the third was wearing a long white lab coat.

As the nurses prepared instruments and scrambled to ready the procedure, the woman in the lab coat caught the swinging overhead light and twisted it into the proper position. Rose winced as the light was flashed hot in her eyes and beads of sweat broke out on her skin. One of the nurses opened the front of her gown, revealing her bare belly in the harsh pool of light.

Watching as the masked nurses lifted gleaming-sharp instruments, Rose wanted to scream, but her mouth moved in silence. She hated how the woman in the lab coat watched her with pitying black eyes.

I am the doctor, said the woman’s voice, reaching abruptly into Rose’s mind. She pushed a button on the overhead panel, and Rose watched in silent horror as a whirling drill peeled out of the darkness.

As the whizzing contraption came slowly toward Rose’s vulnerable belly, the room rocked and the walls banged, smoke rose and people screamed, and miraculously, Rose remained fixed to the table, never sliding, only moving slightly with every violent quake.

The doctor alone seemed unmovable. She watched with quiet intensity as the drill drew within inches of Rose’s bare belly, a still pillar in the swaying room, even as her nurses cringed in fear of the shots that rocketed into the walls. When yet another blow hit its target, the room tilted violently, and Rose heard the bartender hiss from the shadows for the doctor to hurry. The doctor, with panicking eyes, reached up and hit another button, and Rose was horrified to see the drill coming down faster.

Helplessly watching those menacing razors, Rose felt certain it was all some hellish nightmare, that she would wake and the drill would never have touched her. She was wrong. The whirling drill plunged slowly through the flesh of her trembling belly in a sudden cream of bright red blood, and she screamed and screamed, the sound tearing at last from her throat like the ragged wail of a dying woman.

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Blog Tour ~ Souls Discovered ~ Excerpt

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Blog Tour ~ Souls Discovered
Author: Miranda Brock
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Tour Dates: 27th-31st of March
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:

Spin away with young Autumn as she finds a seemingly innocuous gold necklace on her family’s farm and inadvertently uncovers her destiny as “The Keeper.” Autumn’s discovery of the necklace activates “The Window” and alerts both good and evil forces to her whereabouts. Autumn is pulled from everything she knows, and is tossed into a life of unknowns. Enigmatic enemies called Dehmons hunt her at every turn, and if captured the very world she lives in will fall into destruction. With the help of seven Searchers Autumn must learn to use the power she has been given before it is too late. Will she choose to follow the dangerous destiny thrust upon her? Will she be able to withstand the temptation of a relationship that could jeapordize everything? Most importantly, will Autumn be able to find the strength within herself to fight the dead-eyed evil Dehmon souls?

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↓Buy Links↓

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Author Bio:

From an early age Miranda Brock has always loved fantasy and adventure everything. Since she doesn’t live in a world of enchanting powers, mythical beasts, and things unbelievable she has decided to write about them. (Although, if you happen to see a dragon flying around, do tell her.) Born in southern Illinois, where she still resides with her husband and two children, she grew up running through the woods, playing in creeks, and riding horses. What started out as writing poetry grew into short stories and eventually led to her first novel, Souls Discovered. Miranda lives in the country where she finds inspiration in the simplicity and beauty around her. With the help of a ridiculous amount of coffee and some good music she writes whenever she gets a chance.
Visit her at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Miranda_Brock1
Website: http://whimsicalwanderingwords.blogspot.ie/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/miranda.brockauthor
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Miranda-Brock/e/B01J5Y44HG/

 

excerpt

Autumn stood up and brushed leaves from her clothes. She started to walk after her dog when she heard a twig snap behind her. She spun around as her heart jumped into her throat.

A man was standing there clothed entirely in black. His loose coat nearly touched the ground, he was wearing heavy boots, and he had black gloves on his hands. What skin she could see was deathly pale, and his long, lank locks hung around his face in greasy strands. Still, the thing Autumn noticed most were his eyes. They were completely black, not just the pupil or even the irises. He smiled, and she cringed. A chill ran up her spine.

“Forgive me,” he said. Autumn was surprised at his normal sounding voice. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I was looking for someone, and I’m afraid I’m lost.”

Autumn took a step back. “Go back the way you came. You’re trespassing.”

Suddenly behind her she heard an explosive cracking and the sound of splitting timbers. It came from the direction of her house. The trespasser fled her mind as she turned and ran toward the noise. Someone grabbed her arm from behind as two more men stepped out from behind some trees.

“Never mind,” said the man who had a hold of Autumn’s arm. “I think I’ve found who I was looking for after all.”

“Let go of me!” Autumn yelled. She tried to jerk away from the stranger. The other men walked calmly over. They were dressed just like the man who held her and had the same cold, black eyes.

“Where’s the Window?” one of them asked in a quiet, breathy voice. Autumn was terrified. One man was holding her arms, and the other two were circling her like vultures.

“The Window. Where is it?” the other one asked.

Autumn jerked, trying to free herself. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let me go!”

“Tsk, tsk. It’s not nice to lie,” said the one holding her arms. “We know you have it.”

One of their faces was suddenly all but touching hers. “We can sense it, you see.”

“I don’t have anything!”

“Oh, dear. She’s not very cooperative, is she?”

The one holding her, their apparent leader, shoved her at the others. “Take her.”

The others paused to remove their black leather gloves which Autumn found odd. As each one took hold of an arm, she cried out in pain. Their touch was so cold that it went straight to her bones. In fact, it was moving straight to her heart. Suddenly her heart felt colder than the most frigid winter. She had never felt such pain in all her life!

“She has it. She has the Window,” said the quiet-voiced one. The freezing pain intensified.

Autumn wanted to tell them they were crazy, that she didn’t have anything, but the cold was so bitter and painful she could only shake her head.

“Still denying? Don’t worry. When the Master sees you, he’ll sort you out,” the leader said. After he had spoken, he walked over and stood to the side of the man on her right and whispered something to him. The other man laughed softly.

Autumn felt sheer panic. She had no clue what they were talking about, and now they were waiting for some Master to come and “sort her out?”. Thinking was difficult. The extreme feeling of cold in her heart was overtaking her mind. She forced herself to concentrate on how she might get away.

A man stepped out from behind a tree directly in front of her. He, too, was wearing a black leather coat, the length of which nearly reached the ground. However, his coat was tighter and more fitted. His pants were black leather, too; so were his boots. His coat hung open, revealing a dark crimson shirt. This man was tall with dark blonde hair combed back away from his face. Strapped on his right arm was what Autumn thought must be a crossbow, and he was pointing it straight at her.

 

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Blog Tour ~ Rise of the Deva’shi ~ Excerpt With Giveaway

 

 

Blog Tour ~ Rise of the Deva’shi (Parthalan #3)
Author: Jennifer Allis Provost
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Young Adult
Tour Dates: 20th-24th of March
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:

A stolen girl. A legendary champion. A plan that might destroy Parthalan once and for all…

Aeolmar, First Hunter of Parthalan, leads a solitary life. Having long since abandoned his quest to kill Mersgoth—the demon that murdered his family—Aeolmar moves through his days with cold efficiency. Everything changes when he leads a training mission in Brennus, where he’s attacked by Mersgoth himself, and saved by an unlikely heroine.

Latera, first born and heir to Gannera’s throne, is kidnapped and left for dead in Parthalan’s vast forests. A lone human amongst Parthalan’s fae, she makes a home in Brennus, and lives a quiet life—until she finds herself defending a wounded First Hunter from a clutch of demons.

Back in Parthalan, Harek warns Asherah of something called the deva’shi—a warrior loyal only to the demon lord, Asgeloth. Both Aeolmar and Latera suspect that there is more to this deva’shi than what Harek has told them, but before they can learn the truth, Parthalan’s borders are attacked. Will Aeolmar and Latera be able to stop the deva’shi in time, or is it a distraction to hide Harek’s true plans?

RISE OF THE DEVA’SHI – book three of the Chronicles of Parthalan

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↓Buy Links↓
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1438978987

Author Bio:

Jennifer

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.
Visit her at:

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excerpt

“Will there be women in this village?”

Aeolmar’s gaze slid toward Luth. “Missing Innetha already?”

Luth snorted. “Hardly. She refused to become my mate. Again!”

“Of course she said no,” said Luth’s brother, Bron. “What self-respecting woman would have you?”

Aeolmar almost bit through his tongue; he thought Innetha was many things, but respectable was not one of them.

“I hope there will be women,” Adhaire said, bringing his horse alongside Luth’s. “After I complete my Trial by Stealth, I’ll want to celebrate!”

Aeolmar glanced at the young nuvi, doubtful of his chances. Adhaire recently won the Trial by Combat for a third time, but had only recently mastered calling fire. Aeolmar assumed it would take Adhaire a few tries to master stealth, as well.

“Have faith,” Finlay said. “Adhaire will be a fine hunter.”

“Of course,” Aeolmar agreed, unwilling to say more until Adhaire actually failed. Once that happened, he would petition Asherah to have the useless nuvi removed from the sola and sent far, far away from Teg’urnan.

Not that Aeolmar intended to witness Adhaire’s failure himself. Aeolmar had chosen to hold this exercise outside a village close to his birthplace. Once the Trial was underway, Aeolmar planned to slip away and visit his home. Nothing remained but a charred patch of earth, but it was home, nonetheless.

Aeolmar touched the small bump over his heart. For the journey, he’d taken his mother’s pendant with him, rather than leave it behind in Teg’urnan. He hoped his mother’s spirit rested close to her grave, since he needed her advice now more than ever. He was tired of his life as First Hunter, tired of being alone, of palace life… Gods, he was just tired.

The hunters arrived in the village of Brennus and found the innkeeper, Ingvarr, a man known throughout the west for his hospitality, as his mate, Elma, was for her fine cooking. While Finlay spoke to Ingvarr about boarding the horses, Aeolmar investigated the stables. He’d never left Myrnnhe anyplace he wouldn’t sleep himself, and needed to see his horse’s accommodations.

As Aeolmar approached the stables, he spied movement at the far corner; a small form clad in a tunic and leggings, and a flash of bright hair. Intrigued, he followed the person toward the back of the yard…and almost bumped into a girl coming the other way. She gasped and dropped the saddle she was carrying, then scooped it up an instant.

“May I pass?” she asked, balancing the saddle on her hip.

Realizing that she was the person he’d followed, Aeolmar took a long look at her. Her hair was flame red, bound up in a braid that did a poor job restraining her curls. Her eyes were pale blue, and her skin was golden and a bit burnt across her nose and cheeks. What amazed Aeolmar most was her size. She was hardly larger than a child, yet she had a woman’s curves. And she held that saddle as if it were weightless.

“May I pass?” she repeated, tapping her foot. Aeolmar stepped aside. She stalked past him and placed the saddle on the workbench. After watching her for a moment, Aeolmar joined Finlay and the innkeeper.

“Who is that?” Aeolmar asked, indicating the stable.

“My stable girl, Latera,” Ingvarr replied. “She has a way with horses, you know. Some of my patrons only stop by for her services.”

“We’ll need her to accompany us,” Aeolmar said. Finlay raised an eyebrow, but Aeolmar ignored him. “If we stable our horses here and walk to the location, it will add days to our journey. I’d prefer to take the horses as far as we may.”

“Of course,” Ingvarr said, looking at Latera. She saw the innkeeper’s gaze, then busied herself with the saddle. “Latera is a willful girl, and may refuse just for the sake of refusing. Let me send my mate to speak with her, my lord.”

“I’ll ask her myself,” Aeolmar said, striding toward the stable. Finlay and Ingvarr followed.

“Do we really need to bring her?” Finlay asked.

“How long do you want to be out here, days from Asherah?” Aeolmar countered. When Finlay grunted, Aeolmar assumed his second agreed. Aeolmar entered the stable and confronted the girl behind the workbench.

“I am Aeolmar, First Hunter of Parthalan,” he announced.

“I’m Latera, and I brush the horses,” she replied, her gaze on her work.

“Please excuse her, my lord,” Ingvarr said. “She’s a human who was lost here and is still learning our ways.” Ingvarr glared at Latera and added, “She claims she was royalty in her homeland.”

Aeolmar looked at Latera, noting her slanted eyes and pointed ears. “Why do you look like one of us if you’re human?”

“I didn’t always,” she replied. “I’m told it’s the effect of the realm.”

Aeolmar had known many humans, and none had taken on fae characteristics. In the midst of wondering who had told Latera such lies, he realized he was frowning at her. He lightened his expression and continued. “My hunters and I will make camp a short distance from here for two nights. We will need someone to care for our horses. Ingvarr tells me that you have a way with them.”

“Hunters or horses?”

His eyes narrowed. “The latter.”

“Yes, I do,” Latera replied. “Will you stable them here?”

“No. You will travel with us.”

Understanding dawned in her pale eyes and she glanced at Ingvarr. “Won’t I get in the way of your hunt?”

“We aren’t hunting,” Aeolmar replied, “This is a training mission. My hunters have scouted the area, and there are no demons nearby. You won’t be in any danger.”

Latera was silent for a time. It was an unusual request to take a young woman into the forest with five hunters, but Aeolmar believed it was a necessity. Her presence meant that the hunters wouldn’t need to worry about their mounts, and therefore get the Trial over with sooner. Then the hunters would be safe at Teg’urnan, and Latera back in her stable.

“Very well,” Latera said. “When do we leave?”

 

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Blog Tour ~ The Gaia Effect ~ Excerpt

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Blog Tour ~ The Gaia Effect

Author: Claire Buss

Genre:  Fantasy/Science Fiction/ Post-Apocalyptic

Tour Dates: 20th-24th of March

Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:

In City 42 Corporation look after you from cradle to grave. They protect you from the radiation outside the wall. They control the food, the water, the technology and most important of all, the continuation of the human race. Kira and Jed Jenkins were lucky enough to win Collection but when their friends start falling pregnant naturally, everything changes. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall? As the group comes to terms with the changes in their lives they discover there is a much more powerful and ancient force at work, trying to bridge the gap between man and nature.

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↓Buy Links↓

https://www.amazon.com/Gaia-Effect-Claire-Buss-ebook/dp/B01N7KT80X

Author Bio:

Claire Buss

Claire Buss is a science fiction/fantasy writer currently based in Barking, Essex. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with The Gaia Effect and set her writing career in motion.

Visit her at:

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excerpt

 

 

‘What are you two doing here?’ Kira whispered as Jed and Pete followed the Infant Growth Assessor lady into the apartment and closed the door behind them. Pete pursed his lips and Jed frowned as they both saw the activated cocoon. The IGA ignored it and pulled out a touchscreen.

‘Later,’ Jed murmured.

‘Good afternoon, I’m your IGA,’ announced the woman. ‘Who are the parents?’

‘We are.’ Jed pointed at his wife and put on his best smile as he ushered the IGA into the kitchen area and offered her a beverage. Pete looked at the cocoon again. Kira nibbled her fingernails, turning towards the cube when Grace began to cry. She teetered, not knowing whether to go to her or speak with the IGA. In the end the plaintive noise decided her, and she scooped the baby up, rocking Grace gently, and humming as she walked over to the others.

 

‘I’m here to carry out an infant suitability assessment not drink synth-caf, but I suppose one would be nice. It’s not often we get time to indulge while at work. I’m surprised you even have the drinks machine given your requests.’

Jed and Kira looked at each other in confusion.

‘Requests?’ Kira asked.

‘Ah, sorry, we thought you’d be non-conformers you see, because of the no technology request. I mean almost all parents have a NanNan these days and we just thought… well, you know.’ The IGA coloured slightly as she sipped her synth-caf. ‘No offence.’

‘None taken,’ Kira said smiling. ‘We’re not pure naturals but we wanted to try the natural approach with the baby. After my studies I was curious….’

The IGA interrupted.

‘Oh I see, hobbyists then. Well each to their own. I’ll leave the paperwork for the NanNan as well as our latest brochure and then when you want to order, everything will be there for you.’

‘If,’ whispered Kira under her breath.

The agent frowned as she walked around the lounge area.

‘What’s that?’ she asked, pointing at the lit candle in the corner of the room.

‘Oh. Mm, that’s mine. I was just meditating before you arrived.’

‘Meditating?’

‘Yes. You never heard of it?’

‘No. I mean not in real life.’ The IGA patted her neat bun. ‘I read history at Higher Academy you know, I remember some of the strange customs.’ She moved closer peering at the candle on the small table. ‘So what do you do with it?’

‘Well,’ Kira had followed the IGA into the lounge and she sat down with Grace. ‘I believe in balance, so sometimes when I feel stressed or out of sorts I like to try and focus my energy on releasing the things that made me feel out of balance. It’s easier to think of it in terms of light and colour, moving from dark to bright,’ Kira paused, searching for something else to say. ‘Controlled breathing helps….’

The IGA interrupted again and pointed at the small blue statue.

‘And who is that?’

‘That’s Gaia. She is the spirit of the Earth, dedicated to keeping the life force of the planet in balance. She can be used as a focus point.’ Kira could see the IGA was looking troubled. ‘I work in the Archives so I have approved access.’

‘Ah, well I guess that makes sense. Not sure how I would write this up anyway. Probably best not to mention it to anyone. I expect it’s quite a personal thing and let’s face it we don’t tell everyone about everything we do behind closed doors do we?’

The IGA glanced at the cocoon before turning to look at Kira and smiling, not realising how offensive she sounded. Kira agreed, in disbelief yet relief that the topic would be dropped. The IGA finished her drink and fished out her paperwork.

‘Right, here’s my checklist. Neural jack’s in use?’

‘No’.

‘Nan-Nan installed – no. Scent patches activated?’

‘No’.

‘Cube ordered?’

‘Yes.’

‘Type?’

‘Standard sleeping, able to move around our apartment.’

‘Hmm,’ the IGA looked down her list. ‘I don’t think there’s much point in me going through the rest of the options. They are all classified as high-tech and you’ve clearly decided against that kind of help. I don’t think there’s anything else I can do for you today.’

‘Don’t you want to look at the baby?’ Kira queried.

‘Do you mind a health probe?’

‘Is it non-invasive?’

‘It can be.’

‘Alright then.’

Kira watched suspiciously while the IGA brought out a handheld, pressed some buttons and then directed the scan towards Grace laying in her cube. Several bleeps later the IGA handed Kira a readout.

‘It’s all good. Remember to visit your local Med Centre if you have any queries. Do you have a medical handheld?’

Kira shook her head.

‘Well, you might want to look into that otherwise how will you know if the baby is okay? Contact your local Agent, they’ll have what you need. I’d recommend a health check at six weeks but obviously get in touch beforehand if you have any worries. Babies are tough little things.’

The IGA gathered her things. After a cheery goodbye she left the apartment.

 

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Kick Ass Females ~ Giveaway

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Giveaway – Kick-Ass Females

Authors: Aoife Marie Sheridan, Sharon Stevenson, M.H. Soars, Lindsey R. Loucks, Mary Fan, Kory M. Shrum & Alicia Michaels.

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Romance

Dates: 16th – 18th of January

Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:

FROM AWARD WINNING AUTHOR AOIFE MARIE SHERIDAN

Sarajane Anderson is your regular twenty-one year old with family, friends and a normal job. She also happens to be the only person who can save Saskia, a parallel world to earth.

When Sarajane is taken to Saskia, she could never have imagined the reality of the world that she is stepping into- a world where magical abilities are in everyone’s possession. She must face a father she never knew, a world that is beyond her belief, a guardian who captures her heart; and a darkness that wants to take it. On her journey, Sarajane discovers her magical abilities, and realizes too that they come with a price. She is truly tested as her own loved ones are put at risk- the ultimate question she is forced to ask herself is, how do you choose who lives and who dies?

https://www.amazon.com/Eden-Forest-Part-Saskia-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01B1TQD5Y/

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Blurb:

Blood Bound is the Amazon bestselling Scottish urban fantasy novel that combines a breakneck plotline with flawed characters and a wicked sense of humour. “It’s a read that grips you from the beginning, and keeps you enthralled until the very end.” – Ashley, Fae Books

19-year-old twin demon trackers Shaun and Sarah Gallows are used to running into trouble—mostly the kind with fangs—but while Sarah embraces her powers to their fullest extent, trusting her instincts implicitly, Shaun distances himself from his abilities and can do little more than despair at his sister’s reckless nature and idly back her up.

When they come across 17-year-old Melissa Carling, a demon tracker who’s been torturing innocent super-naturals, they know they have to stop her. Sarah is desperate to punish Melissa for what she’s been doing but Shaun’s instant attraction to the girl points to a soul-mate bond stronger than anything he’s ever had to fight before…

https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Bound-Gallows-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B009JBKV96

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Blurb:

Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to pretend to be something you’re not, and you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t. 115 years ago, a small planet called Arcadia was invaded by a vicious alien race and nearly destroyed. Cut off from their resources, the Arcadians turned to Earth for help. A group of Arcadian explorers discovered a Prophecy that claimed their salvation lay in the hands of two children from Earth. To ensure their safety, the Arcadian Council sent their most gifted youngsters to Earth to act as protectors. Samantha is one of them.

To succeed in her mission she must learn to control her Arcadian powers and keep her true identity from her best friend, and the girl she swore to protect, Alexia. But Samantha will soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Someone is trying to prevent the Prophecy from taking place and the prophecy boy hasn’t been found yet. There is also a new drug circulating at school that is turning students into freakishly strong menaces.

To make matters worse, distractions keep getting in her way. Such as her love/hate relationship with her “cousin” Matthew. Or her confused feelings toward popular and mysterious Julian. She wants nothing more than to be free to live her life. But the survival of Arcadia depends on her and her friends. Free will is not an option.

https://www.amazon.com/Prophecy-Arcadia-Arcadian-Wars-Book-ebook/dp/B00HX8UVXS

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Blurb:

Welcome to Petrified City, where the dead don’t stay in the ground. Ten years ago, an accident at the city chemical plant leaked toxins into the soil of the historic Brookwood Hill Cemetery. From the poisoned ground emerged the wraith – ghosts of the long dead who gorge on the energy sucked from the city’s dwindling population. Desperate to contain the threat, the government enclosed the city in a giant dome, trapping the wraith and the residents inside. Now, there’s almost nothing left. Sydney Cale – a thief with a strange and secret power – attempts to escape from the city’s jailers, only to find herself facing off against the wraith. She teams up with Alain, a raven shapeshifter who is a member of the Order of the Reapers, a powerful force who work to banish the wraith back to the underworld. Alain agrees to protect Sydney and her friend Diana in exchange for her help. She must enter the Citadel – the wraith compound in the center of the city – and steal back his kidnapped daughter. But what Sydney finds inside the Citadel will change everything. The wraith are evolving, drawing energy from the decaying city itself. Soon, they will be powerful enough to break free of the dome. Sydney and Alain must stop the wraith before they escape and infect the world, even if that means dooming themselves, and everyone they love, to petrifying inside the dying city.

https://www.amazon.com/Petrified-City-Chronicles-Wraith-1/dp/1537648276

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Blurb:

Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam, kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin, believes her account.

Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that causes him to be framed for murder.

With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee with Devin, racing through the most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the people she loves.

https://www.amazon.com/Artificial-Absolutes-Mary-Fan/dp/194021503X

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Blurb:

“I always knew I was going to die. I just didn’t know it was going to be today.”

Maisie won’t live to see her seventeenth birthday. Her mother and sister are locked in a war over the world, and Maisie is stuck between them. She must decide if she will join her sister’s cause, or defend her mother. In the face of her mother’s demands, Maisie doubts herself and what she truly wants. But her only alternative is to be murdered by the person she loves most.

Jesse wants to find her father’s body and finish him before he can resurrect. If she succeeds she will save millions, if not billions, of lives. But first, Jesse must defeat the woman protecting him.

Will Maisie stand with her? Or fight by her mother’s side?

One decision will make all the difference in the world.

https://www.amazon.com/Dying-Breath-Living-Book-ebook/dp/B01LY36SIL

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Blurb:

On the outside, seventeen year-old Selena McKinley is like any other teenage girl. Yet, Selena has always felt as if she doesn’t belong and is counting the days to graduation and her freedom from the small town that makes her feel so out of place, when the arrival of a stranger turns her world upside down. Selena will learn just how different she is and the truth of where she comes from.

A lost princess, they call her, the catalyst for a war involving a world that she was taken from as a child. An evil queen obsessed with her own beauty with a plan to enslave the human race.…the notion seems so silly, yet Selena knows in her heart that it is true. Then there is Titus, the shape shifter whose blue eyes and claims of destiny hold her heart captive. Can Selena find the strength to do what she must while following her heart?

https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Red-Dawn-Fantasy-Romance-ebook/dp/B00NFH0CLW

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Win a $35 Amazon gift card, three signed paperbacks and four eBooks!

Totally Addicted to Books has teamed up with seven must-read authors to bring you our Kick-Ass Females Giveaway. These books feature amazing female characters in the fantasy, paranormal and science-fiction genres.

ONE (1) lucky winner gets all of the following:

$35 Amazon Gift Card

A signed paperback of Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan.

A signed paperback of Daughter of the Red Dawn by Alicia Michaels.

A signed paperback of Demon Divided by Sharon Stevenson.

And eBook copies of:

The Prophecy of Arcadia by M.H. Soars

Dying Breath by Kory M. Shrum

Petrified City by S.C. Green & Lindsey R. Loucks

Eden Forest by Aoife Marie Sheridan

http://www.totallyaddictedtobooks.com/?ks_giveaway=kick-ass-females-in-sci-fi-fantasy-book-giveaway

PINK MOON ~ BLOG TOUR ~ GIVEAWAY & EXCERPT

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Book Title: Pink Moon

Author Name: Tonya Coffey

Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Romance

Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

 

Blurb:

 

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Cast from her home, Jessa struggles to find a place among the realms. With the loss of power, her premonitions are vague and tormenting. However with Micha at her side, she has hope for the future.

Micha has found his stride as the Ancient King. Nevertheless, the Shadows refuse to allow a Faerie sit on the Ancients’ throne, keeping them apart. Instead of fighting against he Shadows, he focuses his rage on the one who stole Jessa’s powers, a hidden heir herself. When he thinks he has everything under control, he is pulled into a dire situation that will force Jessa’s hand.

Accepting what needs to be done, Jessa takes a risk to save Micha – a choice that may be her last.

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↓Buy Links↓

 

Amazon.com  https://www.amazon.com/New-World-Bk-Pink-Moon-ebook/dp/B01N6968RI

 

 

Author Bio:

tonya-coffey
Tonya grew up in a small town in Kentucky where she lives with her husband and two teen boys. Together, they motivate her to be the best at whatever she faces. If she isn’t writing or reading a fantasy novel with lots of action, you will find her sitting in front of a canvas, painting the landscape which is so abundant around her home.

Visit her at:

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TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY  JUST CLICK HERE

 

excerpt

 

 

Chapter 2

Micha

The dark chamber rattled as the Shadows filtered in from the depths of darkness and into their perspective throne. Marcus stood before me, a slight smile on his lips. It was an odd appearance to a man who seldom showed emotion.

As I hesitantly walked to the center of the room, whispers echoed around me. My eyes constantly drifted between each of the Shadows and to Marcus, as I tried to understand what was happening. From time to time, words of praise filtered in with word of the Sylph.

Drawing in a breath of stale air, I focused on Marcus and the consequences of my actions. Bren warned me. However, I was too stubborn to listen.

Marcus raised his hand, signaling the others to be quiet as he addressed the king. The crackling of wood in the oversized fireplace filled the silence around us.

“Well done, Micha, King of Ancients.” His voice boomed against the rock walls and carried into the tall ceiling. “We are pleased you took initiative, freeing our people from the Falls.” A rolling echo of conformation carried around the room.

I stood speechless. No words came to mind, as I stood before them. I could not say I did it for a Faery or their queen. They would not understand…or would they? She was the same as I. A mixture of Light and Dark. Would they see her as one of us?

“What do you say, King Micha?” Marcus’s voice pulled me from my thoughts.

Clearing my throat, I pulled some words together. “I did not do it for the praise you bestow upon me. I did it for the…love…I have for the people.” I spoke with some truth.

Marcus stared at me. His eyes narrowed, as if he could read my inner thoughts. Swallowing the lump rising in my throat, I hoped he was blind to my heart. To the real reason, I put myself in danger.

Instead, Marcus lifted his hands up in front of him and clapped. The Shadows followed suite as if they had no mind of their own. Marcus was the puppeteer.

“I am honored to serve such a selfless king.” Bren stepped forward, offering me his hand. I turned to face him and noticed the Bookkeeper hovering in the back corner.

My eyes drifted to the book he clung to then back to Bren. His face held annoyance and his voice was full of sarcasm when he spoke. Then the realization hit me. He tried to warn me. For me to wait for the Ancients, but I refused. Therefore, I would receive the consequences of my actions. The Keeper was there to tell me of my fate—my doom.

“Welcome Keeper,” Marcus called from his throne. “Please read for us the results of a courageous king.”

As the Keeper flipped his book open, he moved forward to stand next to me. I noticed he was not the same blubbering, clumsy man as the first time I had met him. He was confident now. I wondered if I had a hand in the transformation.

“I tried to warn you,” Bren whispered at my side.

Narrowing my eyes at him, I asked, “Warn me about what exactly?” It could not be as bad as he anticipated. Could it?

“You must…”

The Keeper began to read from his book, drowning out Bren’s whisper. “When a king shows compassion and selflessness for his people, it reflects his power and, therefore, he shall pass on that strength to an heir.”

My body went slack. Did I hear him right? I felt as if my world had been ripped away and I was left floating in space. Closing my eyes, I wanted to scream, why?

Turning to Bren, his face solemn, I wanted to strangle him for allowing me to do something that jeopardized my life with Jess. I frowned at him. You should have told me.

“Thank you, Keeper,” Marcus said, “You may go.”

As the Keeper walked away, I turned, facing Bren fully. “Why did you not tell me?”

“I tried,” he whispered, “You would not listen.”

Frustrated, I knew he was right. I would not listen. Jess was in danger and it did not matter what I had to face. Still, I would do it all again.

“I will do what I can to fix it.”

Nodding, I took a breath and faced Marcus.

“Please come forward, King Micha.” As if my soul left my body, I stepped forward meeting Marcus at the bottom of his throne. “We took the liberty of choosing a few beautiful girls who we feel would make strong queens.”

Lifelessly, I followed Marcus to my quarters, Bren lagged behind. “These girls are strong minded, smart and from a worthy line.” He smiled. “Everything you need to carry on your legacy.”

Marcus opened the door, revealing a line of girls waiting in the long hallway outside my chambers. Exhaling, I glanced to Bren. He shrugged as if he knew nothing of it.

“You have until night fall to choose one who…tickles your fancy.”

Marcus turned away as each of the Shadows vanished. Bren closed the distance between us looking down the hallway, as I asked, “How will you fix this?”

Bren placed his palm on my shoulder. “I am not sure but have some faith in me.”

Bren began to walk forward but I grabbed his arm, stopping him. “Let’s walk around and enter through the other door. I am not ready to face them yet.” He nodded and closed the door. I only wished it was on the entire ordeal.

 

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The Shaman’s Carving ~ Blog Tour with Give& Excerpt

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Title: The Shaman’s Carving
Author: Jordan Altman
Genre: Fantasy
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

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Blurb:
Elia is tired of her life as a peasant, the young girl seeks adventure and fame. With her best friend, the Baron’s son, in tow, the children enter the forbidden ruins where a gift of magic awaits to be discovered. For hidden deep in the mysterious ancient city sits a totem, a magical carving that will change the lives of all those within the Barony of Riverhill forever. Yet, stalking the children lurks a creature with a dark purpose. A choice lays before Elia, to let sleeping dogs lie or to pursue the mystic arts of becoming a wizard in Shamanism.

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Buy Links: https://www.amazon.com/Shamans-Carving-Jordan-Altman-ebook/dp/B01MRN99X3/

Author Bio:

jordan-altman

Jordan Altman is a Geologist who has worked from the Land of the Midnight Sun to the Canadian Shield. Recently taking up creative writing, his adventures within reality are now being matched by those of his imagination.

Author’s Social Media Links:

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To enter the giveaway just click on the rafflecopter image.

$20 Dollar Amazon Voucher.

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excerpt

From Chapter 1

“I don’t think we should enter the ruins,” said Locrian with a quaver of fear in his voice. His squinting eyes peered beyond Elia, viewing a stone city overrun with the return of nature. “Maybe we should turn around?”

“Don’t be afraid. I’ll protect you.” Elia smirked at Locrian who was keeled over, gasping for air. He was the only overweight child in the village.

While waiting for her friend to recover from the climb, Elia gazed across the valley to her village and the high castle of their Liege Lord. “The Baron will be happy you got your exercise for the day, plus there’s the return trip too!”

“Don’t mention the hike back yet, I’d roll down the hill to the river if we tried now.” Locrian sat down on the dew-covered weeds then looked up to Elia. “My father won’t be happy if we enter the haunted ruins.”

“Then we won’t tell him, will we?” quipped Elia as she walked away from Locrian towards a crumbled wall of grey stone. The thrill of adventure made her excited, and a haunted city destroyed ages ago promised its fill. She unslung a burlap sack from her shoulder. Opening it, Elia plucked out a fistful of berries she collected along the way and tossed them into her mouth.

“Can’t we sit for a while?” moaned Locrian from behind. His lungs wheezed with every exhale.

Elia turned, brushing aside her oily hair in a futile effort as the bangs returned to drape over her dark brown eyes.

“You want to sit? After all those stories we’ve learnt about the haunted ruins; the monster, the siege, the ghost, and all you want to do is sit?” exclaimed Elia with a mouthful of berries.

“All those stories and you want to go in!” burst out Locrian.

Elia walked over to him and put out her arms for Locrian to reach. Once their hands interlocked, she heaved herself backwards, pulling the boy up to his feet while almost falling rearward herself. They had to stick together for neither had any other friends. Bullies in town would pick on Locrian for his weight and Elia for being more of a boy than a proper girl.

“Your beautiful clothes are all wet,” said Elia as she admired his well-tailored cloth over the tattered garbs of peasantry she wore.

“That’s more from the sweat than the dew,” said Locrian.

Elia led the way as Locrian followed. They glided their finger tips along the moist tips of the waist-high grass. Upon entering through a hole in the wall, one of many, they surveyed the ruins before them. The ancient city appeared to stretch out to eternity, though many of the crumbled structures laid hidden in the overgrowth of centuries.

“Wow, this place is a hundred times larger than your father’s castle and courtyard,” said Elia with awe. She always gazed at the ruins from afar, imagining how they appeared up close. Yet, now here, the ancient city had gone beyond surpassing her expectations. “It must have taken forever to build all of this!” Elia admired the limestone blocks. She tore at the vines, setting free the slabs of stone and the weathered masonry. Elia gasped at what appeared underfoot. “Look, even the ground is stone.”

Locrian looked down and kicked at the grass and dirt until the cobbles of the road emerged, weathered and broken. “What happened here?” he asked as much to himself as to Elia.

Elia paused, she looked around, no longer taking in the view, but inspecting it. “The stories I was taught say a monster sacked the city, perhaps a dragon. By the look of all the caved-in buildings, that might be true. Though, maybe not… Dragons can breathe out fire that melts rock. These ruins are all broken, not scorched.”

“A monster?”

“Yep, and a big one too!” Elia played with Locrian’s fear. She knew he didn’t like monsters, and dragons were his least favourite.

“Well, the stories I’ve been told weren’t of what happened here long ago. I was taught about the dangers of entering the forbidden ruins. Ghosts and ghouls that will frighten me to death, creatures that will eat me alive, and plants that will poison me till I bloat and explode. Then if I somehow make it back unharmed, I’d risk my father’s wrath at being disobeyed.” Locrian looked back towards the direction of home. “Let’s go back, we’ve checked this place out. Now, we should return before anyone finds us missing.”

“We haven’t explored yet. Plus, if they never notice us when we’re there, no one will notice us missing.”  She didn’t want to return. Home had misery but this place offered excitement. “I want to see more.” She then turned to Locrian. “You have your castle, all I have to visit is the wheat fields, and the pig pens. This is like a whole new world; it’s waiting for us to discover it. Let’s be explorers and see if we can find any treasures.”

Elia walked deeper into the foliage covered urban landscape, not looking back. She walked with determination and confidence. Any fear from the stories, which Elia had, she ignored as they were being outmatched by the prospect of adventure.

“Hey, wait up!”

The two children disappeared into the ruins where the only sound was a girl’s vocalised astonishment and a boy’s wheezing.

Elia grabbed hold of a vine and pulled herself up. As she climbed an old oak, Locrian stood at the base and watched.

“It’s not my castle,” said Locrian in a whisper.

“What’s that?” asked Elia from above. She loved climbing trees. When Elia sat at the top of a tree she always felt better about her life. She no longer was tied down to the world, a tree offered her a glimpse at freedom.

“You said, it’s my castle. It’s not. It’s more akin to a prison.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I live in a shack, with two brothers and four sisters. Three of us eat one day, the others, the next. I sleep on a pile of hay that gives me a rash in the morning.” From the tree’s top, Elia saw more of the ruins.  She spotted a large building with a dome further to their south.

“Sorry,” said Locrian as he lowered his head.

“Plus, one day you’ll be the Baron,” said Elia with emotion, trying to cheer him up. Sadness then draped over her. “One day, you’ll forget about me and marry a Lady. I’ll be nothing but a farmhand, working in the fields.”

“Me, a Baron?”

Elia knew Locrian didn’t like the prospect of succeeding his father. “Yep, and you’ll rule the whole village!”

“Well, when I become the Baron, I’ll Knight you!” he told Elia as she climbed down and returned to his side.

“A Knight!” she exclaimed with excitement. “Imagine, Sir Elia, Knight of the Barony of Riverhill!” With a grand smirk, she jumped up and snapped off a branch from the oak.

“I don’t think people would call you Sir Elia as you are a girl.”

“Do I get a sword?”

“Yes, of course you do.”

“Good! Then the people will call me whatever I want!” Elia’s smirk reappeared as she swiped at the tree’s trunk with her branch of a sword. “Come on, I saw somewhere I want to check out.”

They continued on through the ancient city, weaving their way through the overgrowth and slabs of grey stone. Elia sang a tune about an old knight who slew a giant as the sun shined in their eyes.

“Still a few hours till noon, but we should head back soon.” Locrian’s voice wavered with anxiety.

“After this last place I want to see, we’ll call it a day and return to the village.” Elia sang and skipped while attacking the air with her tree branch. “Maybe, we’ll find a real sword in the domed building.” At the prospect of steel in her hand, she quickened her pace while Locrian followed with hesitation.

Thick, green vines tangled their way up the structure, knotting over one another. The domed citadel sat in disrepair before them. Ten storeys tall was the building, with a diameter of 30 yards. An old elm grew from within, emerging through the dome, in a bloom of life.

“Let’s go in,” said Elia with excitement.

Before Locrian could protest, she grabbed his hand and pulled him through a pair of stone doors set ajar.

Inside, the brightness of the day faded away to an ominous grey. Illumination came from beams of light, pillars of the sun which shot through holes and cracks in the ceiling.

The vegetation was different than outside. There was no grass. Only a few fat weeds grew between the crags in the stone floor. Dendritic purple moss covered the rest of the ground while red mushrooms grew, some big enough to sit on.

“I don’t like it in here,” said Locrian. “One of my teachers taught me how poisonous some mushrooms can be, and these looked rather troublesome. Plus, it’s kind of dark in here.

“It’s kinda spooky, isn’t it?” Elia looked around at the shambled structure. The dank place was full of decay and shadows. “I love it!”

They passed through tight hallways, over piles of rubble and crawled through a constricted room where the roof had caved in. At last, they entered the main chamber with the grand dome overhead.

The area was massive, consisting the majority of the building. The chamber was colossal compared to the dining hall of the Baron’s castle. At the far end, an elm tree grew through the roof, creating shifting shadows.

The children walked in deeper, breathing in the stale air and smelling the strong scent of sour vegetation. Elia shivered at the temperature as the cooling interior and darkness created an illusion of night.

“This must have been the main administrative building of the city,” stated Locrian.

“What’s that mean?”

“It’s a place where the city rulers govern and hold meetings,” said Locrian.

“Ummm, okay.” Elia didn’t like the majority of subjects taught to Locrian. Only when he spoke of Sir Vuhtre’s weapons training did she ever perk up and pry every last morsel of information from him.

“What’s that?” asked Elia, seeing something small standing on the floor with a beam of light shining straight down upon it. It appeared to be a little statue or something similar.

“What’s what?” Locrian quickened his pace to form up beside Elia, wanting a look for himself but tripped over a vine that grabbed at his foot.

The sound of his fall reverberated inside the chamber. With the bouncing of the echoes went a cloud of bats that hung in the dome’s rafters. The flying rodents flew over their heads, screeching at them. Locrian screamed while Elia swatted at them with her branch. They swirled above them until finding a hole in the dome to escape into the bright daylight outside.

“I want to go home!” cried out Locrian as he tried to untangle himself from the vine that wrapped itself around his ankle.

“Okay, give me a moment, though.”

“Where are you going? Come on, let’s go!”

Elia left Locrian’s side and dashed over to the small object several yards away. She stood over it, then bent down and snatched it up. It felt like a wooden carving in her hands, but under the rush of Locrian’s nagging, she didn’t have the time to make out the sculpture’s appearance.

“What was that noise?” Locrian asked on the edge of tears.

Elia stuffed the carving into a pocket within her garments and stood silent, straining her ears. “I hear nothing, it’s only your imagination.”

“No, I heard something,” protested Locrian, demanding Elia stop and listen.

An irregular wind emerged from within the recess of the derelict building. The noise wheezed, like Locrian after a run, but also gargled as it resonated off the stone and vegetation.

Elia returned to Locrian’s side, shaking with him but refusing to budge as they listened to the unbalanced wind.

“It’s not the wind,” whispered Elia into Locrian’s ear. “It’s something breathing.”
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