Life on the Fringe
I love teapots and collect them, as well as china. For a long time, people were giving me teapots willy-nilly and I felt bad, because most of them weren’t ones I liked—for one thing, I prefer bone china to stoneware, and I’m not into most ‘cutesy’ teapots. A few years back, I started collecting teapots for each Sabbat (pagan holidays). I picked each one for the feel of the season, and on each Sabbat, I put out the teapot for that holiday.
I thought you might like to see them, so there they are.
Book 2 of the Indigo Court Series
“Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the Dark Fae in order to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they could have imagined. Quietly amassing their strength for centuries, the Vampiric Fae-led by the merciless Myst, Queen of the Indigo Court-are determined to enslave the world. Only one witch stands in her way…
Cicely Waters grew up believing she was simply one of the magic-born-a witch who can control the wind-but when she returned home to New Forest, Washington, she discovered she was also one of the shifting Fae. Now she must perfect her gift. For Myst, Queen of the Indigo Court, has captured Grieve, the Fae prince who holds Cicely’s heart. To save both her beloved Grieve and her friend Kaylin-whose demon is waking-Cicely must journey deep into the heart of the Indigo Court. But even as Cicely gathers strength, old alliances are breaking faith.
And new allies, like the hedonistic vampire Lannan Altos, promise to take Cicely down a far darker path than she’s ever travelled before.”
And here, to give you a taste, is the First Chapter:
Copyright 2011: Yasmine Galenorn
Myst led her people into the shadows and ice, and there they hid, sheltered in the depths of lore. The Vampiric Fae were pariah, kept a dirty secret, shamefully debasing the entire realm of Faerie. And so in furtive silence, the Host fed and drank deep and did rend the flesh of its victims and feast. But their thirst was unquenchable, and it was then that Myst discovered one of their newfound powers: Members of the Indigo Court could drink from the souls of the magic-born . . . With this discovery, a vision for the future began to evolve, and the foundation of terror began . . .
-From The Rise of the Indigo Court.
The great horned owl sat in the oak.
I could see the bird from my window as it huddled in the sparse branches, trying to protect itself from the snow. I longed to join it, to strip off my clothes and turn into my owl self, to fly free under the haunting winter moon, but the weather was harsh and cold. And Myst was out there, hiding in the forest with her people, waiting.
And somewhere, hidden in her mists and shadows, Grieve is there, captive, caught in Myst’s web. Can he still possibly love me? Can he still be saved from the blood that flows through his veins? How can I let him go, now that we’ve found each other again?
I opened the window and leaned out, glancing down at the yard below. The snow gleamed under the nearly full moon, a crystal blanket of white flooding the lawn. The Golden Wood-or Spider’s Wood, as I called it-was aglow as usual, with a sickly green light that I’d seen every night since returning home to New Forest. A thousand miles and years seemed to separate me from my former existence, although it had been only a couple of weeks since I arrived back in town. But in that short time, my life had turned upside down, in every possible way.
The wind called to me to come and play and I closed my eyes, reveling in the feel of the breezes lashing against my skin. My owls shifted, urging me to fly. The tattoos-a pair of blackwork owls flying over a silver moon impaled on a dagger-banded both arms.
Slipping on my leather jacket and gloves, I cautiously climbed out on the shingles, making sure that the snow that had built up didn’t slip, sending me sliding to the ground, but it had turned to ice. I scooted until my back rested against the window, then brought my knees up, circling them with my arms, and nestled as best as I could against the cold.
As I stared up into the oak, the great horned owl let out a soft hoot, stirring my blood. Over the past month, he’d taught me to shake off the fear of falling, to soar through the unending night turning on a wing, catching mice in the yard, while always, always, keeping an eye on the forest.
You are Uwilahsidhe. You are magic-born. You must keep watch for Myst, he constantly reminded me. The Queen of the Indigo Court seeks to destroy you.
I raised one hand in salute, the snowflakes softly kissing my skin, and he hooted again, a warning in his tone.
“What is it?” I whispered. “What are you trying to tell me?”
Ulean, my Wind Elemental, swept around me like a cloak, answering for him. He fears for you. There are ghosts riding the wind tonight, and the Shadow Hunters are out and about. There will be death before the morning.
More death. More blood. My stomach churned as I thought about the four killings reported over the past two days. One had been a child. All had been torn to bits, eaten to the bone.
I gazed at the forest. What were Myst and her people up to tonight? Who were they hunting? The bitch-queen was ravenous and without mercy.
There has been so much death over the past few days. They are terrorizing the town and now everyone fears them, even though they don’t know from whom they run. I leaned against the gentle current that signaled Ulean was embracing me. She had been my guardian since I was six years old, bonded to me through ritual, a gift from Lainule, the Fae Queen of Rivers and Rushes.
And they should fear. Myst won’t just go away. She is here to make her mark and conquer. She is here to destroy. Ulean caught up a skiff of snow and sent it into the air, spiraling around me.
I glanced back inside at the clock. Seven P.M. Another two hours before we were to meet with Geoffrey. Finally, after five days of silence, the Northwest Regent of the Vampire Nation had summoned us. Five days after we had rescued our friend Peyton from Myst. Five days after I’d lost Grieve. Five days during which the Indigo Court had rained hell on the town, killing eight people.
The owl hooted again and as I glanced in his direction, a shadow of movement caught my eye from below, over near the herb gardens.
Crap-something was rooting around down there. Not an animal, so what was it? Another glance over at the Spider’s Wood showed nothing amiss, but we couldn’t take any chances.
Ulean, do you know what that thing is?
A moment passed and then she drifted gently around me again. Not one of the Shadow Hunters, but I have no doubt it belongs to the Indigo Court. Myst is attracting the sinister Fae.
I leaned forward, trying to keep it within my sight.
I need to know what it is. We can’t take a chance on letting it prowl around our land.
Scrambling back through the window, I paused just long enough to slip on my wrist sheath and make sure my switchblade was firmly affixed. Grabbing my fan from the dresser, I slipped back out on the roof and edged my way to the overhang.
The two-story drop was problematic, but a couple of days ago I’d installed a roll-up ladder. I’d been out flying and landed back on the roof, only to discover that somebody in the house had thought I was off shopping and had shut my window and locked it. I’d been stuck out in the snow, naked, too tired to change back into owl form to fly down to the ground and come through the front door. Now, I had the option of climbing down, which was a whole lot easier than shapeshifting when I was exhausted.
I rolled the ladder over the edge and was about to swing onto the rungs when Kaylin stuck his head through the window.
“What are you doing?”
“Goblin dog or something of the sort in the backyard. I was going to check it out.”
“Give me ten secs and I’ll come with you.” He ducked back through the window as I headed down to the ground. A moment later, Kaylin was shimmying down the ladder to land next to me. The dreamwalker was far older than his looks belied, and he was far more skilled in fighting than I was. Having him at my back made me feel much more secure.
“Where are the others?” I hadn’t seen my cousin Rhiannon all day.
“Rhiannon is out shopping, and Leo is on a last-minute run for Geoffrey.”
Leo was a day-runner for the vampires. More specifically, he worked for the Regent, running errands that Geoffrey and his wife couldn’t do during the daylight hours.
“What about Chatter?”
“He’s in the basement, working on charms against the Indigo Court.”
“I thought the house seemed quiet.” I moved forward, cautiously.
The backyard of the Veil House was more like the back-forty. Filled with herb gardens, stone circles, and fruit trees, it lay blanketed in a thick layer of snow, and the rising moon set off a bluish tinge to everything around. We stopped, listening to the owl as he hooted again, his warnings echoing through the yard.
We were as quiet as possible, but at one point I stepped on a fallen branch, buried by the snow. It snapped in two. The creature, which had apparently been working its way toward the house, heard us and froze.
This way, Kaylin mouthed, circling around it.
I followed his lead, edging closer to whatever it was. We managed to slip behind a nearby bush before it could back away. There didn’t appear to be more than one, and we were able to get a good look at it.
The creature was about four feet tall, with a bloated stomach and long bony arms that dragged along the ground. Its head was distorted, elongated and elliptical, with longish ears. The eyes were wide-set and cunning. As it drew back its lips into a grimace, drool dripped from between its needle-sharp teeth.
“Have any idea what it is?” I whispered to Kaylin, wishing he could talk on the slipstream. It was much easier to avoid being overheard when sending messages along with the currents of air.
Kaylin cocked his head, his ponytail shifting slightly. “Goblin. One of Myst’s toadies, no doubt. If we let it live, I guarantee it will bring others. The dark Fae can get through our wards where Myst’s Shadow Hunters can’t, so she’s probably testing how far she can push into our land using her allies.”
“Kill or wound as a message?”
“Go in for the kill. If we just wound it, we’ll have yet another nasty enemy on our hands.”
I gave him a short nod, saving my breath as we burst out of the bushes and poured on the speed. As we caught up to the thing-the goblin was terribly quick-I pulled out my fan, whispered “Strong Gust,” and snapped the fan open, waving it twice.
A quick blast of air slammed against us-and the goblin. Startled, the creature skidded to a halt at the edge of the forest, looking confused. Kaylin dove forward, rolling to come up in fighting stance. He kicked it in the chin. As the goblin lurched back, I slipped through on the left side and brought my switchblade down on its arm, stabbing it deeply.
Kaylin fumbled for his shurikens as an icy gust of wind came whistling from the direction of the forest, and a shadow figure loomed at the border dividing the woods from the magical barrier we’d constructed. A glimpse of pale skin with a cerulean cast to it told us all we needed to know. One of the Vampiric Fae. A Shadow Hunter.
“Shit,” I muttered, steeling myself as the goblin launched itself at me.
The Shadow Hunter raised a bow, his sight intent on Kaylin. He might not be able to set foot on our land, but his weaponry could. I shouted a warning to Kaylin and waved my fan in the direction of the Vampiric Fae, whispering, “Strong Gust.” The arrow came zinging our way, but missed by inches.
The goblin landed on me and we both went down, rolling into the snow. I couldn’t use my fan in such close quarters, so I struggled to catch the creature by the throat. I was bigger than the goblin, but not as tough. After thrashing against his leathery skin, I finally managed to get one hand on his neck.
Gnashing his teeth, the goblin lashed at my hand and I pulled away just in time. Even if I didn’t lose any fingers, chances were good he had some nasty bacteria in that mouth and I wanted no part of any infection he might be carrying. We wrestled, me trying to force back his hands as he scrabbled to reach my face. One swipe of those clawlike nails could take out an eye. The stench of the creature was putrid, like a combination of gas and vomit, and his eyes were round and lidless.
I sucked in a deep breath and heaved, pushing with both hands and feet, and managed to roll on top, trapping him between my knees. I squeezed my thighs together, trying to keep the goblin from slipping away from me. At that moment, Kaylin let out a shout and I jerked around. A muscle pulled in my neck.
“Fuck!” The Shadow Hunter’s second arrow had grazed his arm.
The bolt had penetrated the heavy leather he was wearing but looked like it hadn’t gone too deep. Kaylin yanked the arrow out, tossing it to the ground, and dashed over the boundary line. The Shadow Hunter hadn’t been prepared for him to go on the offensive and went down, Kaylin atop him in the snow, a flurry of fists flying.
I turned my attention back to the goblin. If I let this thing get away, he’d be back, with reinforcements. I flipped the blade on my switchblade and paused. Killing creatures-even our enemies-was still new and did not come easy to me. I sucked in a deep breath.
You can do it. Steady. Aim for the forehead. Goblins are vulnerable in the third eye area. Ulean flurried around me, trying to keep the snow from blinding my vision.
With a surge in the pit of my stomach, I brought the blade down, wincing as it slid through the goblin’s head. New Forest had become a town of kill or be killed. We no longer had the luxury of allowing our enemies to live in peace.
I drove the blade in to the hilt. The goblin screeched, loud and jagged through the twilight, and then fell limp as a fountain of blood stained the snow red, diluting into petal pink. The scent of the creature lingered, joined by that of blood. I withdrew my blade, yanking when it resisted.
Another shout. I looked up to realize that-in my fight-I’d also passed the boundary line and the Shadow Hunter was on the run, aiming directly for me. I froze, but he merely shoved me aside and fell to the side of the goblin’s body, his face pressed against the creature’s wound.
As I backed away, horrified, he lapped at the blood, and then began to transform, his mouth unhinging like that of a snake as he shifted into a doglike monster, his jaws lined with spiny teeth. With ravenous fury, he bit off the head, chewing it, spattering bits of brain matter every which way.
Kaylin brushed his fingers to his lips and slowly edged up on the Shadow Hunter. He brought out a short dagger, serrated and coated in a magical oil. As he plunged the knife into the side of the Vampiric Fae, aiming for the heart, the oil encouraged the blood to flow and the crimson liquid stained the snow still further.
The Shadow Hunter turned, but I was quicker, stabbing his haunch with my blade and dragging it through his tough hide. Then Kaylin and I lightly danced backward, out of reach of those deadly teeth.
A voice echoed from behind us and I turned to see my cousin Rhiannon, panting as she stretched out her hands, a small red charm in the palm of her right. She whispered, just loud enough for us to hear, “Flame to flame, bolt to bolt, fire to fire, jolt to jolt. Lightning, let me be thy rod.”
All hell broke loose as a bolt of snow lightning came forking out of the gathering clouds, ripping to the ground to shatter the Shadow Hunter into a thousand pieces, as if he were a glass dish smashed on concrete.
As soon as the spell sang out of her body, Rhiannon collapsed and Kaylin raced over to catch her. I stared at the remains of the Shadow Hunter and the goblin. Not much left. Nothing to take home with us, except two more notches on our belt, and the hope that we’d be able to sleep soundly, knowing there was one less member of Myst’s court in the world. One less toady of hers to slip onto our land.
Kaylin shivered. He was bleeding through the rent in his jacket from the arrow. At that moment, I noticed a trickle running down my own shoulder. I glanced down. A puncture wound had penetrated my jacket. I slipped it off to see blood saturating my top. The goblin must have stabbed me with its claw. I hadn’t even noticed.
“We’re growing numb to our pain,” I said as we turned away from the carnage we’d just inflicted.
“We have to,” Kaylin said. “We have to learn to weather the battles because there will be far more to come before things get back to normal. If there even is such a thing as ‘normal’ anymore.”
I nodded and looked at Rhiannon. “You saved the day.” The thank you was implied.
She slipped her arm around my waist and leaned down to kiss my forehead. “I just got home and saw the commotion from the car. Leo’s still in town and I don’t know where Chatter is.”
“In the basement, working with the charms.”
“Ah. Good. We’ll need them.”
“I guess we’d better get back on our land, before anything else comes out of the woods. We need to tend to our wounds and make sure they don’t get infected.” I wearily turned back to the house.
As we crossed the demarcation line that magically divided the Golden Wood from the Veil House, I couldn’t help but shudder. Like it or not, we were pawns in a war between two powerful enemies-Geoffrey and Myst-and we were doing our best just to stay alive.
My decision to make Cicely allergic to fish and shellfish, and have her carry an Epipen was both conscious and subconscious. I don’t set out to make my characters ‘diverse’ just ‘because.’ But as someone who has food allergies and intolerances, I know what a life of reading labels and talking to waiters is like. And a number of my friends and readers have food allergies.
Giving Cicely an allergy to cope with was both an acknowledgment of the condition, plus a way to say “Hey, food allergies mean you have to be careful, but you still live life fully.”
And ever since last October, I have had to carry an Epipen. Now, instead of just worrying about getting sick if I get the wrong foods, there’s the fear of some form of anaphylactic response. That glimmer of nerves every time I go to a restaurant has become more pronounced, especially at an establishment where I’m not a regular customer. If you have allergies, you know the one I’m talking about. The one where you sit there thinking, “Did they make a mistake? Did they maybe slip up and butter something?” Or, “Wait, that steak doesn’t look seasoning free—are those little black flecks pepper or are they char?” It’s a whole different world when food becomes poison.
For me, we still don’t know the exact cause of my reactions, but they were dangerous enough that the doctor told me, “We aren’t sure what’s going on, but it could happen again. So carry an Epipen just in case.”
And yes, Cicely’s Epipen wasn’t just for show. During Night Seeker, Cicely actually had to use it when she was accidentally served something with lobster. And the fact that she takes the throne as the Queen of Winter in Night Vision? Well, while the transformation changes many things, it hasn’t gotten rid of her allergy. A piece of tuna in the wrong place can still kill her.
Year Released: 1985
Tagline: ”No Good without Evil. No Love without Hate. No Innocence without Lust. I am Darkness.”
Starring : Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry
Marc: Tonight on movie night we have Demons (well, one) and elves and unicorns! Oh my!
Yasmine : Wait a minute, wait a minute, I thought we were doing a movie, not one of my books!
Marc: Ha! Yes indeed, funny coincidence that.. I am of course talking about Ridley Scott’s movie form 1985 Legend. Here’s the run down of the top billed stars. Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, Mia Sara, oh and Tim Curry.
Yasmine: Um.. Marc.. I’m sensing a theme here…
Marc: Like what..oh.. yes, I see.. well, I’ll explain in due course. (FYI, it isn’t because he pulled an Eddie Murphy) But first, a brief run down on the movie. Much as I adore it and the sword and sorcery genre, sadly it was an utter flop at the box office, bringing in just over half of what it had cost to make. A lot of the inspiration for it apparently came form the 1946 Beauty And The Beast, which, while I haven’t seen it, am familiar with the story and can see some of the parallels.
It was filmed at Pinewood Studios, in England, which if you know your movie trivia, you will know was the home of the Bond films. Indirectly, one of the stoppages in filming was caused by the 007 lot burning down. Not an omen for this movie at all, I’m sure.
Yasmine: Hmm…Accident or arson?
Marc: Huh? What?
Yasmine: Was the fire an accident or arson?
Marc: Uh, I dunno, I guess it depends on how people felt about Roger Moore, it was during his tenure.
Yasmine: *stares* You know Connery *is* and always will be the best Bond.
Marc: There were actually two version of the movie, or rather two different cuts: the European version which used the original Jerry Goldsmith score and the US release which featured a score and songs by Tangerine Dream. Of the two the Tangerine Dream score was considered darker and more contemporary.
Yasmine: I love Tangerine Dream. I could spend the entire review discussing their music, except I haven’t had my latte yet, so let’s get on with it.
Marc: Yes boss. I’m not sure I have a preference on the score, they both work well, but they highlight different things in the movie. Anyway, to explain about the Tim Curry thing. This was the movie that cemented Curry into playing villains for the foreseeable future. Prior to this, he was known as Frankenfurter from The Rocky Horror Picture show, so while I’m sure he was glad to get out of his stockings, if he’d known the next step was going to be full body make-up? He might have changed his mind.
Yasmine: *grin* We should do Rocky some Thursday, and I’m not talking the boxer. It’s just a step to the left…
Marc: Don’t start… Anyway, Curry really stole the show for me. Slavered in make up, latex, contact lenses, fake horns, standing on stilts, he couldn’t see, could barely speak, couldn’t walk… and yet he still managed to portray one of the most memorable movie villains ever.
Yasmine: He was deliciously dark. Tim Curry has a larger than life presence, and his characters seem almost melodramatic, but in an odd way that doesn’t bother me.
Marc: Considering the money spent, the sets were gorgeous and the effects have really stood up well over time, better by far than some of it’s contemporaries within the sword and sorcery genre. Which leads me to the special effects. This film relied heavily make up and practical effects and frankly? The make up effects are outstanding. Curry’s character was amazing in it’s conception and it’s practice. I look at it even now and it’s clear to me that that, that is a demon! But, I gotta say, the whole Goth Princess thing they did with Mia Sara… Definitely caught my eye
Yasmine: Yes, I’m sure it did. ~grins~ I loved the goth princess motif, too.
Marc: So, favourite scene. For me it was pretty much anything Curry was doing, he didn’t just steel the show, he dominated it. How about you Yasmine?
Yasmine: I think what stands out most to me is actually the dance scene where Mia Sara is essentially swept/seduced into the role of the dark queen.
Marc: Last thing then, this is a dark movie. Don’t take that wrong, it deals with some very complex themes of dark and light, the interaction, hope and sin and so on. I wouldn’t recommend this to anything less then teens or adults, but even given that, it’s more than worth a watch if you haven’t seen it or even if you have.
I started learning to cook when I was five years old. Actually, I started teaching myself how to cook at that age and my mother decided she’d better start taking over the lessons before I hurt myself. My first three endeavors in the kitchen showed promise, if not ingenuity, if I say so myself. (Which I just did). ~grins~
My first attempt at cooking was to make Pear Sauce. We had a sad little pear tree, as well as beautiful plum trees and a full yard of vegetables. We also had gooseberries and blackberries. But the pear tree was old and sad, and probably should have been put out of its misery. Anyway, each year we got a few pears off of it that weren’t all that good. Mom brought them in and put them on the counter, and I’m not sure what she went back out to do but I decided that pear sauce would be just as good as applesauce. I wasn’t allowed to use knives, so I took a spoon and gouged out all the fruit off the core. I put it in a bowl, and poured in some sugar and cinnamon and took a potato masher and mashed up the pears into a semi-soft mush. And bingo, I’d made ‘pear sauce.’ My mother was a little taken aback, but since the pears weren’t that great, she just passed it off as one of those things kids do.
The next recipe I tried was for banana pudding. Now, I’m not sure why I wanted to make it because, while I love bananas, I’ve never liked them IN anything except for fruit salad. I don’t like banana bread, banana cream pie, banana pudding, banana splits—nope. Just bananas (which sadly, are too high in carbs for me to eat now). And I liked them somewhat green.
Anyway, so I decide to make banana pudding. Again, I was still five years old. I peeled a couple bananas and then tried to figure out what would go into pudding. So I added some evaporated milk (yes, I was allergic to milk but my stepfather still made me drink it), some sugar, and cinnamon, and again—with the handy dandy potato masher—made my version of banana pudding. I actually think that’s pretty clever, though it was a little soupy.
My last attempt before Mom took over and started teaching me, was potato salad. Now, I hated it but she loved it and I wanted to make Mama lunch while she was taking a nap. So I thought about salad. I knew there were potatoes in it—and there were some mashed potatoes in the fridge. And mom always put eggs in her potato salad, and there were hard boiled eggs in the fridge. So I mixed together potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise. But in my head, salad had lettuce, so I added lettuce to it. Mom, of course, ate a few bites and praised me, and after that, she started letting me help her cook.
By the time I was twelve I was cooking better than my mother and she’d always ask me to come season the meat for her because I seemed to have an innate sense of what seasonings should go with what meat. I was making bread by the time I was ten (again, yeah, allergic to wheat but stepfather forced me to eat it anyway). I was baking cakes better than Mom by that time too. By the time I left at seventeen, I was a damned good cook and didn’t have to rely on convenience food like a lot of college students.
While I would never want to be a professional cook—for me that would take the fun out of it—I love to cook for friends and absolutely love playing hostess. We always host Thanksgiving for friends, and I do the whole turkey-dinner routine. Now that I’m low carb and have so many food allergies/intolerances, cooking has become more of a challenge but I refuse to eat bland food, so I practice and experiment until we have absolutely delicious meals, including desserts, that are safe to eat.
And while I hate cleaning up, Samwise and I have an arrangement where I cook and he does the dishes, so it works out best all the way around.
So, do you enjoy cooking? If so, what are your favorite foods to work with? I love cooking meats and desserts. ~smiles~
Book 1 of the Indigo Court Series
“Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the Dark Fae in order to harness their power. Instead, they created a demonic enemy more powerful than they dared to dream. Bent on enslaving the world, the Vampiric Fae have been quietly massing their strength for centuries. Now, Myst, queen of the Indigo Court, is rising again…and a long-prophesied war is brewing…
Born a witch, Cicely Waters can control the wind. When her Elemental warns her that her aunt and cousin are in danger, she packs her Pontiac GTO and returns home for the first time in twenty years. But the magical town of New Forest, Washington has changed. The Indigo Court holds the city in fear; people are vanishing, and strange deaths plague the town. Swept into an unexpected and passionate reunion with her trusted childhood friend Grieve, the Fae prince who taught her how to harness the wind, Cicely finds herself with a fierce and territorial lover. But Grieve has become enslaved by Myst’s court, and now both lovers must walk a fine line to survive the machinations of the Vampiric Fae Queen. Caught between two evils, both vying for supremacy, Cicely must fight for her family and her future. As she discovers the hidden secrets to her own heritage, will she lose her soul in the process?”
And here, to give you a taste, is the First Chapter:
Copyright 2010: Yasmine Galenorn
And she arose from her deathbed in a gossamer gown, with eyes the color of starlight and hair as black as the night. And those who were her captors trembled, for the scent of death and madness emanated from her soul, and yet-she was not dead. She moved like the spiders that creep in the treetops, and none could look away. Taking her first captor in hand, she fed deep and ravenous. And so it was that Myst, Queen of the Indigo Court, was born from the blood of the dead.
The women in my family have always been witches, which is why when Ulean, my wind Elemental, tossed my hair early on a balmy, breezy December morning and whispered in my ear to listen to the wind, there was a message for me riding the currents–I did. Pausing to close my eyes and lower myself into the slipstream, I heard a faint, feminine voice calling my name. When it told me that my aunt Heather and cousin Rhiannon were in trouble, I didn’t wait for a second warning. I called them to tell them I was on my way and got my second surprise of the day.
“Marta’s dead.” Heather’s voice was strained.
I stared at the phone. Marta, dead? The woman had been ancient the last time I was home, but we all expected her to outlive the entire town. That she was dead seemed incomprehensible. “She’s dead? What happened?”
“I don’t know, Cicely. We found her in her garden. She was drained of blood and her throat had been . . . ripped apart. And I do mean ripped.”
The obvious answer was a rogue vampire, except for one thing: the ripped part. Most vampires were fairly tidy with their work. The Northwest Regent for the Vampire Nation lived in New Forest and kept order in the area. Geoffrey was a good sort–if you can call a vampire a good sort–and it was hard for me to believe that any one of the vamps under his control would be so stupid as to kill Marta. She had charms aplenty for warding them off and the repercussions would be harsh, even for the vamps.
“You think one of Geoffrey’s people killed her? What do the police say?”
My aunt paused. “I’m not sure of anything, to be honest. There are some strange things going on and the town is . . . changing. The cops didn’t seem too interested in investigating Marta’s death.”
A chill ran up my spine.
Strange is not the word for it, Ulean whispered. There are so many traps in New Forest now. The entire town is in danger.
“Are you sure you’re okay? A voice on the wind told me that you and Rhiannon are in danger. I was about to pack.”
A pause. Then, “Please come home. I’d love to have you come home for good. It’s time, Cicely. Krystal’s gone, and we need you. Right now, I’m not sure what that danger is, but yes, it’s lurking on the edges and in truth, it has me afraid.”
My aunt never admitted fear. That she would do so now sealed my decision to return to New Forest.
Heather paused, then added, “I think at this point, everyone’s fair game, but the magic-born seem to be getting hit the hardest. I’ll explain when you get here. And there’s another reason you should return.”
“What?” Family duty, I had no problem with, unlike my mother. But Heather’s voice sounded odd and a tingling at the back of my neck told me that something else was in play.
“Marta passed the torch to you. She left you her practice. The town can’t do without her, and apparently she’s chosen you to take her place. You’ll have to move the business over here to Veil House. It will take a little while for you to get everything set back up, but she left you all her supplies.”
Stunned, I blinked. Marta was the town witch. People went to her for help. She was also the elder of the secret Thirteen Moons Society-the coterie my aunt belonged to. No one but family members knew about the Society and it was kept that way on purpose. Hell, even I didn’t know what they did-only when you were inducted into the Society were you told what went on.
“Marta left me her business? Are you sure of that?” I had been home once a year from the time I was thirteen until I turned seventeen, and that had been the last time I’d set foot in New Forest. And my mother had been persona non grata with the elder witch. “Why would Marta do that?”
Heather laughed. “Oh, Cicely, you may be twenty-six now and on your own, but you’re still one of us. You’ve always been one of us, even though your mother tried to distance the both of you. It’s time to come home to New Forest.” Her voice turned serious. “Krystal’s dead. You don’t have to run anymore. Come back. We need you. I need you. And you . . . you need us.”
She was right. In my heart, I knew it was time to go home. I’d been running for years, but now there was no more reason. There hadn’t been a reason for me to stay on the road for two years, since Krystal had died. Except that sometimes running felt like all I knew how to do. But now . . . Marta left me her business. I had something to go home to-something to focus my life on other than keeping my mother and me alive.
“Be there in three days tops,” I told Heather. “Can I have my mother’s room?” Memories of the violet-and-ivory trimmed room loomed in my mind.
“Of course you can, and you can use the back parlor for your business and one of the spare rooms on the third floor for your supplies and workroom.” Heather laughed again. “Oh Cicely, I’ve missed you so much. I’m so glad you’re coming home again for more than a visit. We’ve missed you.”
And with that, I tossed the few boxes containing my possessions and my backpack in Favonis–my 1966 navy blue Pontiac GTO that I’d won in a game of street craps–and headed out of California without a single look over my shoulder.
LA was like every other city I’d lived in since I was six: a pit stop in the rambling journey that had been my life. But now, after twenty years, my past was about to become my future. As I pressed my foot against the accelerator, Favonis sped along the I-5 corridor.
I was wearing a pair of black jeans, a black tank top, and my best boots–a kickass pair of Icon’s Bombshell motorcycle boots. I had no job to give notice to–I’d picked up odd jobs here and there since I was twelve but never anything permanent. All through the years, I knew there was something I was supposed to do-=supposed to accomplish–but I’d never known what. Maybe this was it. Maybe taking Marta’s place would fill the void.
“Come on, baby,” I coaxed. “Don’t let me down.”
And Favonis didn’t. She purred like a kitten, all the way up the coast.
Speeding along the freeway, fueled by numerous stops at Starbucks and espresso stands along the way, I kept my eyes peeled for the exit that would take me to I-90. New Forest was snuggled against the northwestern foothills of the Washington Cascades and the promise of going home for real this time dangled in front of me like a vial of crack in front of a junkie.
Twenty years ago, I’d kicked and screamed my way down the front steps of Veil House, begging Krystal to leave me with Heather, but my mother had just dragged me to the taxi, bitching at me to shut up. Now, after a thousand miles on the road, and a thousand years in my heart, I was heading back to live in the only house I’d ever thought of as home. And this time I planned on staying.
Only now, I’m twenty-six and my mother’s dead. Something is terribly wrong in New Forest. And my wolf has woken up again.
Twenty miles out from town, I began to see spots of snow, and by the time I passed the WELCOME TO NEW FOREST sign, snow blanketed the ground. Not wanting to bother my aunt till morning, I eased into the parking lot of the Starlight 5 Motel. I stared at the flickering light that illuminated the VACANCY sign. I was in New Forest. I was really back.
Grabbing my backpack, I hauled ass out of the car and stood there shivering as I listened to the air currents washing around me. Something was off–I could feel it. New Forest didn’t feel like I remembered it. A glance across the street showed me an all-night diner. The windows of Anadey’s–a twenty-four-hour joint–glimmered with Christmas lights. I vaguely remembered Anadey from my visits. She was Marta’s daughter, if I remembered correctly. I wondered what she was doing running a diner, but decided to check in first and then snag a bite to eat.
The motel clerk stared at me, unblinking. “You want a room?”
I nodded. “Single. One night.” As I pulled out my wallet, he shoved the register across to me and I scribbled my name down and tossed fifty bucks on the counter in tens. He counted the bills, then nodded and held out a key.
“Room 105-A. Checkout by noon.”
“I’ll be gone earlier than that. You have anything on the second floor?” I’d long ago learned it was safer to be higher up.
He looked me over again and then handed me a different key. “Room 210-B. Nonsmoking and no hotplates.”
“No problem on either front.”
I took the key and headed outside again. The motel was a U-shape and wrapped around the parking lot. I squinted at the upper story until I found my room and jogged up the stairs. As I unlocked the door, force of habit made me check the surrounding area, looking for anybody or anything suspicious. Krystal had raised me to be on guard, even though she had lost her own savvy over the years, thanks to the crack and the heroin.
No one in sight. I opened the door.
Cautiously, I scoped out the room. Queen-sized bed, a little lumpy. Headboard bolted to the wall. Utilitarian dresser and mirror with the TV atop it. Usable, clean bathroom with thin white towels. Typical cheapie motel. I dropped on the bed but was too pent up from the drive to sleep. My stomach rumbled and I realized I was hungry, so I gathered up my pack–no way would I leave anything in this joint while I was gone–and headed out to the sidewalk in front of the motel. I waited for the light to change and crossed the street to Anadey’s Diner.
The café had that truck-stop vibe, though there weren’t any places for semis to park. As I pushed through the doors, the dim light from the overheads filtered through the long, narrow restaurant. Utilitarian blinds gave a slatted view to the parking lot, and Formica ruled supreme. Booths lined one wall, while on the other, a long counter flanked the kitchen, with bar stools attached to the floor.
A tall, narrow Christmas tree nestled against one corner, sparkling with lights and gleaming ornaments. The tree was pretty and it made me smile.
Several late-nighters were scattered through the café. Two of the men sitting at the counter looked odd. They weren’t magic-born, that was obvious, but they weren’t human either. I could read the difference just by looking at them. Both swarthy, with shaggy black hair and topaz eyes ringed with black circles, they watched as I passed by them, giving them a wide berth.
I chose an open stool at the opposite end of the counter and slid onto it. Picking up the menu, I pulled one of the saucers to me and flipped over the mug.
The waitress saw me and headed my way, coffeepot in hand. I recognized her.
“Hi, honey. I’m Anadey. What will you have? My daughter’s the best short-order cook in town.” She nodded toward the kitchen, where a tall, solid young woman flipped burgers behind the grill. A sparkle of magic flickered in the girl’s aura, and also surrounded Anadey, only stronger. I gave her a slow smile. She didn’t seem to recognize me, so I decided to wait until I was settled in before coming back and introducing myself. For all I knew, she could be angry that her mother had chosen to give me the family business.
“Your daughter’s lovely.”
“That she is, my dear. You want coffee?” Anadey hovered over the mug.
“Yes, and cream, please.”
The coffee steamed hot and black as she poured it into my cup. Anadey hesitated for a moment, then said, “Her name is Peyton. Come back in sometime when you’re not so tired. I think you’d hit it off. I’ll get your cream now. You want another minute with that menu?”
She bustled off, returning with the cream as I added three packets of sugar to my coffee. I gave her a soft smile–she looked somewhere in her early fifties and exhausted–and flipped open the menu. The words all seemed to run together and I closed it again, turning to gaze at the posters on the wall. Fatigue from the trip was setting in big-time.
I motioned to Anadey. “Make my order to go, would you? A large chocolate shake. Cheeseburger and fries. Butter only on the bun. Hold the pickles and condiments. And a piece of apple pie if you have some. Oh–and make sure nothing has any sort of fish added into it, please. I’m allergic to fish and shellfish.” I reached in my pocket and produced my Epi-pen for emphasis. Some diners didn’t take food issues seriously unless you hit them hard with the I can die speech.
“I have several friends with various allergies, so I keep a strict watch on my kitchen. We have a dedicated fryer for French fries to avoid cross contamination. And one section of the grill is reserved for unbreaded patties only and cleaned every time.” She gave me a wink. “You look like you’re about ready to crash, honey.”
I nodded. “Long trip to get here. Been driving for two days with very little rest along the way.”
“I’ll get your order going so you can get some shut-eye. You look about done in.” She hurried off and I sipped at my coffee. As I sat there, I became aware that the guy at the other end of the counter had gotten up and was strolling my way, his eyes glued to me. He didn’t look impressed.
I gave him the once-over as he passed by, on his way toward the restrooms. As he crossed behind me, I heard him whisper, “Magic bitch, watch yourself. New Forest doesn’t like your kind anymore.”
Taken aback, I swiveled full around, but he just went on walking. Normally I’d get in his face–I’d been in enough street fights to hold my own–but I was too tired to deal with a confrontation. Instead, I just memorized his looks and turned back to Anadey, who was polishing the counter in front of me, a concerned expression on her face.
“Regular?” I asked nodding at his back.
She gave me a short nod, her lips pressed together and I could see the flash of fear in her eyes. “Don’t cross him, child. He’s a mean one and a drunk. Just let it go. Your food should be ready in a few minutes.” She glanced at the other end of the counter where his buddy was sitting. She didn’t say a word, but the look in her eyes told me all I wanted to know.
Bad news . . . don’t trust them . . . they are not mortal. Ulean’s voice tickled my ears and I let out a low Umm-hmm.
As Anadey packaged my food and handed it to me, Snarly Dude came back from the bathroom, his full lips curling in a derisive, leering manner. I returned his gaze, keeping my expression neutral. Tossing a ten and a couple bucks for a tip on the counter, I headed toward the door, my senses on high alert.
Watch my back.
As always, Cicely . . . as always, came Ulean’s calming thoughts.
Once I was in the parking lot, a shift in the current alerted me. I paused, listening.
They’re following you . . .
I know, I whispered gently. I can feel them.
Not just them. Another. Older, more dangerous. I don’t recognize the energy though.
I slowly exhaled, relaxing into my body. Tension could ruin a good punch, could turn a good fight into a bad one. I gave the parking lot a look-see. Five cars to my left. Another three to my right. Gauging how long it would take me to dash across the street across the snow and ice, I headed for the sidewalk. The street was mostly empty; there were few cars on the road at this time of night, although two long, dark limos with tinted windows passed by, gliding silently, the sound of their engines muffled by the falling snow.
Vampires hunting. Ulean’s thoughts were filled with distaste.
I gave an imperceptible nod and set a foot into the road. Immediately I sensed the men behind me speed up. I was two yards across the street before I broke into a run. The sound of footsteps told me they had done the same.
Crap. I still didn’t know who they were or what they wanted, but it was obvious they didn’t like me and I wasn’t going to stick around to find out why.
I made a break for it, Ulean whipping along behind me, pushing me forward. With a shout, my followers picked up the pace as their boots drummed a tattoo of running steps. On the other side of the road, I assessed my best option.
No way in hell could I go up to my room–they could easily break through the flimsy lock. Favonis was my best bet. I’d rigged her with an automatic key and kept my keychain hooked on my belt loop just for situations like this. I’d spent my life ditching danger of one sort or another with my mother and had learned a thing or two along the way.
I tossed the bag of food to the side and fumbled for my key, but even as I hit the shadows surrounding my car, a noise cut through the night behind me–a sharp scream, choked off before it barely began. I whirled, only to see Snarly Dude turning tail to race back across the street into the light. He slipped once on a spot of black ice, righted himself, then disappeared into a truck and squealed out of the parking lot.
As I squinted, trying to figure out what the hell had happened, another sound echoed in the parking lot–a sickly gurgle–and the scent of blood washed over me. As I backed toward my car, another shift in energy cut through the night and whatever the hidden force was vanished.
Gone . . . and so is the man who cried out.
Crap. Gone? Where the fuck could he have gone? He’d been right behind me. I slowly edged my way toward the shadow that had engulfed him. The scent of blood hung thick but when I shone my pen flashlight on the ground, I could see only a few drops scattered red against the snow. I looked right and left–there was no place he could have disappeared to, but the man had definitely pulled a disappearing act. Not voluntarily, though.
I scanned the other side of the street. Nothing.
What the fuck is going on, Ulean?
I don’t know, Cicely, but that’s what we’re here to find out.
What was the thing that took him? Vampire?
A pause, then, No . . . not vampire. Do not be so quick to blame the Vein Lords. This . . . is much darker than vampire signature. Dangerous, feral . . . hungry in a way the vampires cannot even begin to match.
Cripes. Vamps were at the top of the food chain-predators, often without mercy. If this was worse than they were . . . I didn’t want to know what it was.
Without another word, I sucked in a deep breath, retrieved my dinner, and headed up the stairs toward my room. New Forest had changed all right, and I had the feeling I was just skirting the tip of the iceberg.
I tend to write a lot of books set in the autumn and winter. I didn’t plan on it happening, but the flow of the story arc sort of laid it out that way. But what I did realize, even back when I wrote A Harvest of Bones (which, incidentally, is my favorite Chintz ‘n China mystery I wrote because it’s the most paranormal of the group and the least mystery oriented), is that I love writing books set in the dark half of the year.
I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that autumn is my favorite season and winter—while I don’t actually want to be IN snow—is extremely beautiful in a stark way, or whether the seasons just seem more appropriate for the darkness of the work that I write, but whatever the case, I fall into the moods of those two seasons easily.
Autumn, for me, holds mystery and magic—it’s the season of Samhain, the festival of the dead. It’s the season when the veils between the worlds are thinnest in my spiritual tradition, and that holds through to my writing. The season of ghosts and witches (~grins~ My kind as well as the kind in my books), the season of falling through the looking glass, of ghouls and beasties and hidden dangers and the wind whistling through trees, of leaves swirling in the rainy night.
And winter? As a child, I lived in an area where we got heavy snow. While I quickly got tired of it, there was something inherently magical and beautiful about the sparkling snow in the early morning as it blanketed the yard in a pristine shroud of white. Snow muffles sound—as cars glide along the snow covered streets they seem almost silent. Snow buries evidence, it holds hidden dangers. Heavy snowfall has a certain feel to it—almost a sentience of its own. And I’ve always been fascinated with the shimmer of glaciers, as they calve off sheets into the ocean. Ice isn’t white or clear, there’s a faint tint to it—sometimes bluish, sometimes almost a purple or pink. I associate the aurora with snow and winter and ice, and it seems to mirror that sparkling sentience of the season through the sky.
So yes, I write a lot of books based in those two seasons. And while it’s not deliberate, I’m rather glad it works out that way.
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Who it Stars: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and the Muppets
What Year It Came Out: 1986
From IMDb: Young Sarah is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little brother Toby. But the baby keeps crying and Sarah, while telling him a story to make him sleep, inadvertently conjures from a fantasy world the Goblin King who steals the child and brings him to his castle in the middle of a labyrinth. Sarah has to rescue him before midnight, or the baby will became a goblin…
Marc: Hello and welcome to another movie night, with your hosts Yasmine and Marc. Tonight’s visual feast is that 1986 film staring ‘the man who fell to earth’ – Labyrinth. So grab your snacks, strap on your ornately bejewelled codpiece and chill out.
Yasmine: Bad pun…bad pun…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that movie—TMWFTE—all the way through. And if you expect our readers to wear codpieces, you have to too. *koffs*
Marc: Before I really get into the meat of this, I’m just going to say that there are a few tidbits of infomation for this movie. One is that the step mother was never actually named, not on screen or in the script, she is in fact listed on IMDB as ‘Stepmother. The other thing is that there are several volumes of manga related to the characters from the movie, but as I haven’t read them, I can’t really comment on them. One last thing, due to the nature of the interaction between live action and the puppets, many of the stages were ‘swiss-cheesed’ to enable the puppeteers to work the puppets from below while the live action actors did their thing on a false floor above them.
Yasmine: That makes sense. And there have been a few other movies with characters who had no names, one of the most famous of course (and it was this way in the book) was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The main character had no actual name. (That’s my favorite movie, by the way).
Marc: There were two major stars of this movie, David Bowie and of course, David Bowie’s codpiece, I mean Jennifer Connelly, that played the protagonist, Sarah.
Yasmine: Really hung up on that codpiece, aren’t you? ~laughs~ Codpiece envy??? Hmmm???
Marc: There were of course the muppets, as provided by and directed by the undisputed Muppet King, Jim Henson. I can imagine the pitch when this went to the studios. Such an odd combination, the man who fell to earth (or Ziggy Stardust, depending on your taste) with creatures that make you go “What on earth?”.
Yasmine: I love the muppets. Side note: I was waiting at the doctor’s office the day the news came on that Henson died. There were TVs in the waiting room (was a group health type organization). I actually burst into tears right there.
Marc: I can’t really point out too many flaws with the acting, for the level of the film, it fine. I would say that the puppets stole the show, but honestly, while they were very, very good, they still didn’t quite outshine Bowie’s creepy/charming persona of the Goblin King. Kind of hard to outshine a man that spend an entire movie fiddling with his balls.
Yasmine: As much as I love the Muppets, it was all about David Bowie’s character for me in this movie. Totally mesmerized me. I’d like to help him play with those balls. *koffs* The muppets were great, Jennifer Connelly did a good job. But Bowie? Loved. His. Character.
Marc: Yes, Labyrinth also introduced the world in general to gravity juggling, now I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard conflicting rumours. One that Bowie actually learned how to do it and did it himself and one that someone stood behind him and did it for him. Yes, that’s right, I said Someone stood behind David Bowie and played with his balls for him. Anyway *straight face*
Yasmine: For a straight dude, you have an unnatural fascination with Bowie’s balls. I, actually, have a fascination with what he might be able to DO with that portion of his anatomy. (What can I say, I’ve always had a thing for Bowie, and I think he was gorgeous as the Goblin King, as well as a damned good actor). Actually, I LOVED the juggling scene and part of me would like to see how they made that happen. If it was all special effects, I kind of don’t want to know—it’s better to imagine he was really able to do that.
Marc: You can’t really talk about this movie without talking about the music, most of the song in it were sung and recorded by Bowie, with all that entails, my personal favourite is Magic Dance, which is a catchy song, but once you know about the swiss cheese stage he was working on, becomes more impressive. My least favourite song is probably the head swapper song, Chilly Down. Creepy little bunch of suckers. How about you Yasmine?
Yasmine: By far, my favorite song in the movie is Within You, where they’re in the Escher staircase. I love that scene, and that song. I also like Underground. And being me, I actually really like the headswapper song a lot. *grins* I like those freaky little dudes. But then, almost any song he’s sung I’m going to like. My least favorite song? I’m not sure.
Marc: The settings and the scenery, as this was mostly set in a world of complete fantasy, I thought that they did brilliantly. Total immersion for me that even now, 27 years later, is still as effective for the most part. Yes, some of the green screen is looking a little obvious at the edges now, but for the most part is still great.
Yasmine: I agree. It was unlike anything I’d quite ever seen and while I tend to prefer adult movies over YA movies, it was extremely well done and I still love the movie.
Marc: So onto favourite scene or scenes. Which was yours Yasmine? Was it the owl at the start?
Yasmine: Several, the Ball, the Escher Staircase. I also loved the oubliette where she falls through all those freakshow hands. I like watching them go through the maze—I’ve always loved mazes.
Marc: Personally I’m torn. It’s either the Giant Goblin Robot coming out the doors, because I think the effects were brilliantly done or for the interaction, Sir Didymus guarding the bridge in the Bog Of Eternal Stench. (such a great name!)
Yasmine: How did I know you’d love the latter? ~grins~
Marc: So, in final words. It’s a great fun movie, suitable for all ages, although it may be a little scary for the very young ‘uns. Well worth a watch. Catch you all next week for something legendary
When I decided to write about the Fae Courts in the Indigo Court series I wasn’t sure if I would be writing about the Summer and Winter Courts. And then, I realized as Night Myst evolved that the Seelie/Unseelie Courts would be involved, but not in the traditional way. It quickly became apparent to me that in my world, there were regional Winter and Summer Courts—one King and Queen of both Seelie and Unseelie, but they rule from the Golden Isle, and the regional kings and queens here in Earth/the alternate Fae realms answer to them. The realms are not dependent on the King and Queen to exist, but the King and Queen are dependent on their realm in order for them to continue to exist as they are.
Because Myst was an upstart and not the true Winter queen, the regional courts in the Pacific Northwest were unbalanced to begin with. Yes, Myst brought the winter with her, true, but it was an unnatural winter since she wasn’t the destined ruler of Court of Snow and Ice. She upset the balance. When she led the siege on the Court of Rivers and Rushes, she managed to throw such a wrench in the way things work that Lainule began to age—she was too far away from her heartstone and Myst was too near it.
The Summer Court, or the Court of Rivers and Rushes, is located in two locations at once—the Golden Wood in back of the Veil House, and also within the realm of Summer. During the waxing half of the year, the Marburry Barrow that lies through the portal between the Twin Oaks, controls the regional woodlands. But to retain control, the King and Queen must live within their barrow mound. If they are routed—as Myst routed Lainule—their influence wanes.
And while Lainule and Wrath can access the realm of Summer even if they weren’t in the Marburry Barrow, it means that Lainule is too far away from her heartstone, hence she began to age even while she was in her realm.
The Realm of Summer is as it sounds—eternal summer, unchanging long warm days, light sprinklings of rain at night when needed, flowers that may fade but new ones spring up in their wake. Like the Realm of Winter, it has an ancient, never-ending feel to it.