Category Archives: Escape in Fantasy

An End at Barfleur – A Short Story

This 1,650-word story is a journal entry in Book One, Ursus Borealis, in The Starlight Chronicles series. I found it rather fun to write a story within a story. It nestles in a chapter featuring Kuliana Hada, a character that appears throughout the series, who is an Anurashin Captain of the Guard. Cynthia is her ancestress.

Cynthia’s story is incorporated into an actual historical account about the White Ship that sailed in 1120 as described. Its sinking changed history.

An End at Barfleur

I am Cynthia, a marked maiden, a human born with a destiny entwined with a race from another world. I was trained to fight alongside my mate Aldric and his pack with the guidance of my magus Zigan Meshara of the Order of Hala against three rebellious princes who were banished from the planet Anurash.

This sounds impossible, I know. But you will just have to take my word. That is, if you are from the human realms and this makes its way to you as I hope.

My life started on a farm in the county of Anjou. Then it changed forever when I met a bear from Normandy.

After immersing myself in the astonishing world of my mate and the kingdoms of the shifters, learning there was life beyond this Earth, and before reaching the heavens, took only a few extra pints to swallow it down. That, and meeting Zigan. It turns out Zigan and I are old souls and have done this dance before.

How my soul was chosen for this repeated Earth-bound destiny is a mystery, but my magus spent much time over wine in our chateau sharing what he knew of our history, or rather the history of the prophecy of the marked maidens.

As for Zigan, up till we met, he had spent his life training with the Order, which included studying the records in the extensive archives and all forms of alchemy, in addition to being honed into a warrior. Even more astonishing, he could transform into a stunning feline I learned was called a tiger.

For eight years I experienced what it was to be part of the Pack, to be soulmates with its alpha, to be one piece of a wondrous whole, and we were successful in our purpose, keeping the machinations of the princes from the human population, and mitigating the damages.

This is the part at the end of our story and writing it down is agony because it chronicles the event that halted our purpose violently, tore me from those I loved, and marked the beginning of my slow and lonely death. Still, it must be told.

It takes place starting mid-morning of the 25th day of the month of November in the year 1120. We arrived at Barfleur near the coast of Normandy, after confirming the location of the current scheme of Aviel Enair, the oldest and most formidable of the three sibling princes. We lacked the details, but we knew his scheme would involve the sailing vessel known as the White Ship, renowned for its speed and beauty, and now carrying the only legitimate heir to King Henry I across to England.

Frustration gripped me, and I wrapped my arm around myself, trying to catch my breath after having run the length of the docks. I called out to my mate behind me, “It is just as we feared, Aldric. The ship has almost reached the Quilleboeuf!”

There were three hundred souls sailing away as I spoke, other nobles as well as the heir, and the loss would be catastrophic to the burgeoning English monarchy. When we learned the king’s seventeen-year-old son, William Adelin, desired to sail on this elegant vessel while his father sailed ahead of him, and that Aviel had set his sights on it, we considered the hazards the Anurashin prince might exploit.

The ship had a good reputation and so did its captain, Thomas FitzStephen, whose father had taken the prince’s grandfather, William the Conqueror, across the same sea. The only evident risk was sailing past Gatteville, where hidden rocks like the Quilleboeuf lay waiting for careless sailors. But FitzStephen was surely used to navigating such hazards.

I breathed in the salty air to sharpen my mind while I considered our options. The raucous calls of seagulls ebbed overhead as they congregated, fought, then flew off with morsels of fish as their prize. Despite the size and piercing eyes of the warrior next to me, we stood unnoticed among the throng of bodies rushing towards their duties on the bustling docks.

“You must call Zigan, my love,” Aldric said, drawing me to his side and offering his warmth as I shivered from the urgency of our task and the breeze cooling the sweat of my exertion.
Though we were French, our purpose as part of this prophetic trio was to protect the balance of power fated for this world. When the princes interfered, it fared badly for the indigenous populations, according to Zigan’s archives.

That meant we trained to take risks, and we discovered this scheme by becoming captives of the princes while each enjoyed inflicting painful retribution on us for our past successes. But Aviel allowed his brothers’ torment to go only so far, which we’d learned to count on, though we didn’t understand it, and our plan included an escape.

It went perfectly, until we ran into a trap and had to leave our pack behind to fight, which also delayed our arrival, and a worry was taking hold in me that the last eight years of joy and strife might culminate on these docks. Still, I pushed on.

After placing the insides of my wrists together, my tiger appeared, first as an image on my skin, then as a man stepping out of a gray mist, calmly taking us in with fathomless dark eyes. His markings glowed bright gold against his bronzed arms, and his silky black hair waved in the breeze.

“We need to get aboard that ship, Zigan.” I pointed to the sails disappearing north along the coast to Gatteville. “Can you haze us there?”

“I can, but I may not have enough energy to get you back.”

Aldric said, “Let me go with him. If the ship were to sink and Zigan cannot return us both…” He let that thought trail off as he looked at me in that fierce way that melted my heart.

The powerful love I had for this man, this larger-than-life Norman-born warrior who shared the spirit of a mighty brown bear, still overwhelmed me after all these years. We had not taken one moment of our time for granted, knowing the dangers inherent in my destiny.

Clutching his hand, I said, “But I must be the one on that ship, Aldric. We have no idea what is planned, and we need my instincts as a marked maiden.”

“You will be noticed. I can blend in and discern the situation. We must go now, as they approach the rocks.”

I stood on my toes and brought his face to mine, peering into his brown eyes to see his bear gleaming at me, a magnificent beast he could transform into at will. Our lips came together for a precious moment before I stepped back.

Zigan gripped my mate, nodded to me reassuringly, then they disappeared. I took shelter and waited. In less than thirty minutes they were back.

Aldric and I stepped towards each other as he gave his report. “Nearly everyone on board was drunk on wine and betting on a race to beat the king to England. The ship sailed fast, pushing its limits. Not more than ten minutes after we arrived, it hit the rocks and foundered.” I gasped in dismay, but he assured me the king’s son made it to a lifeboat.

Suddenly, warriors in the garb of another time appeared in a heavy mist that seemed to have blown in from the sea. They surrounded us. Zigan and Aldric drew their swords, and I followed with mine.

The sound of steel rang out, and we held our own against a dozen, until my sword was knocked from my hand. Strong arms grabbed me from behind. Aldric’s roar shook the planks beneath our feet. But the Anurashin warrior held me fast and kept me from my mate’s reach, letting the others leap in between us, forcing Aldric to slice his way to me.

The warrior said in my ear, “The prince has his sights on you, maiden. Did you not think he would find you?”

“He may have found me, but he’ll not have me!”

Springing my knife from my sleeve, I lunged back, shoving it between his ribs, and twisting it. The warrior grunted in pain, but his grip did not loosen. Aldric dodged blades, slammed his fist into faces, and rammed bodies, while I tried to pull free.

Zigan moved so fast arcs of blood hovered in the air where he last appeared. But when he hazed close and tried to grab me away, the warrior jerked us back and two others lunged for him. To my utter horror, they took his head.

My knees gave out as unbearable agony ripped through my heart, then my entire being, when his soul was wrenched brutally from mine. This couldn’t be real. Never had I imagined our bond could be so viciously severed, or that the warrior magus was anything but invincible.

A sickening realization plummeted like a stone in my belly. This was Aviel’s plan. Why he let us escape before. These moves had been orchestrated for this purpose. To kill my magus. To take me. To destroy the Pack de Normande.

What was left of my heart was crushed to pulp when Aldric stepped into a blade not bothering with the pain, to reach for me, desperate to save me as he felt the agony of my loss, and our loss to come.

The mist I dreaded grew thick, and I sensed I was breaking into tiny pieces. This couldn’t be happening.

I locked gazes with the bleak eyes of my mate who was coming to the same conclusions as I faded into bits, so close to him our fingers nearly touched.

My heart and soul poured into my words. “I will love you forever!”

The sound that followed was the mighty roar of a wounded bear.

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Sam and Priss are super loveable Pod People… more stories for them in the works. Don’t you love Isa’s fairy wings?!! Find it on Amazon with bonus …

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Isa Loves my Pod People…

Sam and Priss are super loveable Pod People… more stories for them in the works. Don’t you love Isa’s fairy wings?!!

Find it on Amazon with bonus content, works in progress and a couple of my favorite short stories, with awesome book covers. Hey, the tiniest stories warrant covers as much as their big cousins.

This includes Isa’s lovely review…

More Pod People Seeded in my Brain by Aliens – Being Taken Over is Exciting!

So long as they’re giving me something and not taking… Hmmm. Or are they? Well, what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

Meanwhile, characters, aka my Pod People, are bursting out of me and burgeoning all over the pages, and I now have two amazing Works in Progress, which I’m having a hard time putting down and seem to want to work on simultaneously. Anyone else getting some great new ideas for stories this summer? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile, enjoy some quirky and intriguing alien artwork by William Louis McDonald

Art by William Louis McDonald

Bursting! Or Consuming?…

Just too many cool things going on here…

100-Word Story Challenge. My foray into horror – A minor Starlight Chronicles Vampire character, my inspiration…

Enjoy a Three-Part Supernatural Horror Story – Exactly 100 Words Each

One: Brother’s Maker

Thick rivulets of blood moved down the wall like snakes slithering into Hell. Lucius thought going there himself would be better than mucking out this foul slaughter. Hiding his brother’s crimes from Prince Remus. Death by fire, their punishment if caught.

Linus, too far gone to understand the danger, had killed another valuable hunter. Lucius labored to obliterate the evidence while Linus crouched over an arm sucking out the blood and marrow like a human sucking meat from a crab leg.

Lucius had turned his brother. Watching him deteriorate was penance. Figuring out how to stop it, his only purpose.

Two: Brother’s Keeper

Lucius stared in frustration at the naked female, then grabbed newspaper from the alley trash to cover her. Copious blood soaked through, turning it to pulp. He added more paper. Didn’t help. Blood spouted like a fountain from her torn jugular. He yanked his brother, who’d pounced on her again, away from her neck.

“You couldn’t have gone one more block?” Linus whipped towards him. Lucius stifled a gasp. The nerdy, giraffe-legged brother was there. Then the eyes turned soulless, reflecting the red pooling beneath their feet, and Linus’s stark hunger. Pain stabbed Lucius where his heart once beat.

Three: Brother’s Killer

Lucius cradled Linus’s head in his lap. Just his head… which Lucius had to remove. He stared at the rectangular hole holding his brother’s body, then forced his gaze away to take in the fateful surroundings. The graveyard was damp. Dew glistened on the grass. Dripped from cypress trees and giant yews. None of it made this real. They’d been vampires for five decades, inseparable. But Linus’s self-control had deserted him. He broke too many council laws.

“You never believed you could be ended, brother. Didn’t you once think it would be me who would have to do the ending?”

First drafts rejected. I think I’m getting it now.

I was pretty happy about my first attempt to do a 100-word story. The publisher, not so much. But that’s okay because I learned a lot in the process . These bits about vampire brothers were inspired by a minor character in my Starlight Chronicles series. I admit, pure horror is a challenge for me, though I love reading and watching it, the darker the better. I read Bram Stoker in my youth, along with Mary Shelly, which means those sweeping, tantalizing, horrific impressions are there, deep down, and now that I’m writing fantasy, I’m compelled to draw from their brilliance.

Vlad the Impaler has been an endless fascinating figure in history and fiction for me, no matter how many ways his story has been told. And I think today’s supernatural fantasy authors are finding entertaining ways to retell the tales. Many of them inspired me.

I think Luke Evans portrayed an excellent fictional Vlad. Dracula Untold sparked my imagination, and gave a feel for the period and setting. I was disappointed with its box office failure, which ended hopes of a sequel. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer.

Please take a moment to read the drabbles above and let me know if I’m on the right track for a story told in exactly 100 words. Better yet, share your own 100-word story in the comments.

Thank you!

3D Art by Ismael Tejero

This is a special week for so many reasons – to celebrate, enjoy a huge discount on my books 😊

Ursus Borealis and Drago Incendium

Sharing a little more of my work in progress by request! Thank you kind readers.

Also, sharing the title and a peek at the cover below . Comments appreciated, good, bad or… you know. There is an interesting story behind the …

Sharing a little more of my work in progress by request! Thank you kind readers.

My Pod People Don’t Worry About Politics. That’s Why I Love Hang’n With Them So Much…

Since I’ve been reading, watching and writing stories in the fantasy genre, I’ve enjoyed a common theme. No politics. Sure, there are good versus evil forces trying to whack each other into oblivion. Even The Umbrella Acadamy now has the Sparrow Acadamy to battle for their place in the world, as if going back in time and saving it wasn’t enough. But there’s an honesty to good versus evil in our entertainment that our current real world lacks, like the stout-hearted Hobbit facing the fiery maw of Mount Doom in the land Mordor. I kind of hope it won’t take us thousands of years to find our Frodo.

It used to be the other way around.

I used to think politics were reasonable. You had two sides of an issue. Your representatives debated the two sides using logic, conviction and maybe even passion. Granted some issues would be controversial and the debates would get heated, but reason would prevail in the end. You could feel good about living in a world like that, put entertainment and it’s battles in their place, freely enjoying the question of Alien versus Predator because when you inevitably didn’t get a definitive answer and the threat still waited around the corner for the hapless protagonist, you could walk out of the theater, and return to a world that made sense.

Now, it’s the real world where all the lines are blurred beyond recognition. People are walking around in utter confusion about who is bad and who is good, and there’s no one left to shine the light on reason. Lies become truth that’s wielded in the guise of helping the masses, when it’s all designed to further one man’s ambitions. A mere human who has the ridiculous notion he can take it all with him. Where? Is there a spacecraft waiting to transport him and his gold to a planet containing the fountain of youth? Will his minions follow him there, so he has someone to fire every other second? Well, at least they will believe him if he says it’s so.

My pod people don’t care about any of that. They’re too busy fighting battles they can understand even if the enemy is a mystery, because it’s me who gets to orchestrate the fates of my pod people. I can set them on a clear course that, when it’s achieved, will leave the sensible ones standing and the evil ones pounded to dust. Maybe my pod people will find love and friendship along the way, a fellowship of supporters who can pick a clear side and stick by it, confident they’re all in it together and have each others’ backs.

You can find my brand of entertaining chaos on My Books page for a nice escape from the blurry lines of reason.

Viewpoints all mine and my pod peoples’…