Mar
2016

General Announcement

Regarding the Serial.

Due to life and other issues I haven’t been able to give my all in getting this up in a timely fashion. So This weekend I’ll be pulling down what is posted. This has been an interesting learning experience. Not sure I’ll do a serial ever again.

My apologies. E1 should be released in ebook and print form by September. I’ll keep you guys posted.

 

NP

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Feb
2016

Feb update

I have internet again!

So I should have made the date for E1 restart for march, not feb, mainly because of the internet (or lack of) SO, back on track, taking things one at a time. March, we should be go for launch to get E1 wrapped up. Sometime this summer, E1 will go on sale in both ebook and paperback formats, and the writing of E2 will commence. I am hoping to also finish BP but I’m not setting a date on that just yet. For a number of reasons. Hope you guys had a great feb so far,

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Jan
2016

MLK Day

I have some thoughts about MLK day, but I have some serious brain fog and not feeling well. So I may try something about it another day. in the meantime, 8 degrees and me don’t mix well, lol. Instead I thought I’d just give a quick update on the state of the Phoenix.
Last week was, in short, brutal. We, the Forward Motion community, lost a dear friend. It was wonderful seeing the community pulling together as we all tried to comfort her family as they struggle to readjust to life without her.
On the heels of that, the world lost the talents of two fantastic entertainers; David Bowie (aka The Goblin King from the movie Layrinth), and Alan Rickman whom I knew best for his performance as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter movies. It left me feeling a bit bruised, a bit worn and very, very sad. I could just feel the devastation felt by their families as they, like my dear friend J.A. Marlow, struggle to adjust to life without a huge part of their family. I wish I could pull them into a hug and let them know, we cry & mourn with you. But then again, seeing the response on social media, I have no doubt that they know it.
There’s a lot more I could say, but its been said by others more articulate than I.
Life is a precious thing. One must always appreciate it. And it can change in such a swift moment and leave us wondering what the hell happened.

In writing news.
I’ve been working on E1. I’ve managed to knock out several chapters edit wise, hoping to wrap it all up by this next weekend and then start back with posting the first week of February. I like how this is going though there are a few scenes I’m a touch nervous about sharing. **shrugs** oh well. We’ll see how it goes.
Once E1 is done I may tackle writing E2. At least a rough first draft.
Or I may dive into Zander’s story and try to finish it over the rest of the year.
So many possibilities.

Hope you all have a great week.

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Jan
2016

New Year!

Well now, it’s 2016. YAY
I for one am looking forward to this year. So what am I planning? Honestly, some basic stuff, easing myself back into writing.

  1. Finish the damn serial.  Really I can’t express how PISSED at myself I am over how long this has taken. I apologize. I feel horrible for not getting this wrapped up in a timely matter. HOWEVER. IT will be wrapped up by summer. That I promise.
  2. Get aforementioned serial edited and pubbed. The plan is for it to be both EBook and dead tree version. Hopefully by August.
  3. Finish BP.
    1. Get it edited and pubbed by the end of the year.
  4. Word count goal; 500,000 words for the year. This is subject to change.

I am working on putting together author interviews and regular posts for the site, the goal is one basic post a week, on serial post, and one Author Interview a month.

Personal stuff;

I am more than a writer, there’s a lot going on in my family and I want to be better at being mom & grandma. I am working on loosing weight. The past three years has seen a few major health issues cropping up. I need to get them under control. Losing weight will go a long way in getting those issues under control.

There are a few other things I want to dabble with. Sewing, embroidery. Costuming, historic recreation, that sort of thing. We’ll see.

Reading More;

I need to get back to being a reader as well as a writer.

Here’s to a new year. May it be great!

NPhoenix

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Sep
2015

Sunday Serenity

One of my fav things to do, outside of writing and hanging with the kids, is video games. These two are on my OMGIMUSTGETTHESE list!


I cried. I won’t lie. I effing cried when I saw that vid. Then I squealed and woke up the whole damn house XD

~*~

 Kid got me into the Fallout games. I saw this vid and just…. between these two games, I feel like I’ve been suckerpunched. I.can’t.wait!

Now for you, my ghostly readers, what do YOU like to do, aside from reading? What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

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Sep
2015

Happy September

The kids are in school, ALL of them! Hubs is on a new job, and I’m trying to regain my balance. So here’s an update, and some thoughts and hopefully the roughest stuff is behind me. For this year. Hopefully. I really need an effing break! LOL

The State of ME:

Kid who was in so much trouble is coming home for good in about two weeks. Hopefully things will be smoother. He’s changed, grown and I’m hopefully that this is for real this time. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a child making a set of decisions that will only lead him to an early and violent grave.

After my father-in-law’s death in April, everything in the household just seemed to go to shit. It’s taken me months to get moving again. I’ve gained weight (bleh) and let things slide that I don’t usually let slide. So I’m up and moving again.

Writing;

It seems to be inching back. The ideas never went away, the motivation to write while dealing with the other crap just *poofed**. I’m working on an Anthology story for the FM Anthology, but I’m not sure it’ll be done in time. And I may have just re-plotted the last half of E1. Again. I think this makes the fifth or sixth time. **rollseyes**

So where does this leave the serial?

Now that’s a tough one. OCD me wants to take it down because… shit it’s been months since I was consistant with it. But other me wants to plug away, finish the damn thing, so I can say I did.

Take note; before you start a serial make DAMN sure it’s ready to go. I thought this was, I was wrong. Obviously.

This year was supposed to be the year of the serials. It’s turned out to the year of procrastination. But the year isn’t over and I have time to yank this back the way it needs to go.

I was thinking, considering, pondering putting together a newsletter of sorts. Maybe every other month or something like that. But that may be one bit too much.

Another thought, for anyone actually reading this, is the website loading all right for you? Please let me know if you have problems. *I’ve* been having trouble with it, but it could just be my computer. Anyways, hope you all have a great weekend!

 

 

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Aug
2015

back

Summer has flown by, I’ve been offline and out of touch. I’ve been planning out some changes with the site and writing and the damn serial that stalled. Keep an eye on the blog…

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Jun
2015

State of the Phoenix

Happy June.

So life has a habit of kicking our asses when we’re not expecting it. At this rate, I feel like it’s all that has been happening on our home front. Some things; first, I’ve noticed the website is being a brat when I try to load it, is this universal, or is it just my computer? If you have problems, please drop me a note so I can fix the site.

Life in general, well it’s been frustrating. My father in law passed away in April, we went back to Oklahoma for the funeral, and on returning my husband’s job slowed to a crawl. I’ve got a job interview tomorrow **crosses fingers** and we’re kindof struggling to figure out how we’re going to pay the bills. I usually try to keep this pretty neutral and keep as much of my personal life off of this site, but this stuff has severely and negatively affected my writing and editing.

I keep saying I need to write up a post on time management. Once I figure it out, lol.

Depression’s a bitch, and she’s been parked on my shoulders for the past year or two. It’s far beyond just being sad. This has been apathy, some very negative feelings about myself, my goals and my writing. Yes I’m working on myself. Yes I’ve got meds and yes I’ve got therapy. It’s one step at a time. One challenge at a time.

Right now my writing & pubbing goals are fairly simple;

  • Get E1 finished. I have some major rewriting to do at the end (I seem to have misplaced/lost edits I’d done of the last part of the book)
  • Get back on a schedule of some sort. I had a schedule for the site, I’d like to get that going again.
  • Get myself back to writing regularly. Once upon a time 3k a day was my norm. If I don’t hit that I feel guilty/angry and frustrated. I need to ease up on myself. My new goal is 400 words. The past couple of days I’ve been playing with a new shiny and that seems to be helping out a lot.
  • Stop being hard on myself. If I saw someone talking to/treating another writer the way I mentally treat me, I would blow up at them. I need to ease up out of my own face. (try to visualize that one!)
  • Play with digi art more. I’d been working really hard on new covers, getting some real progress done on my digi art stuff when it ground to a halt. I want to get back to that. I truly love it and I’ve got some pictures I’d love to tackle.

I want to have E1 finished and up for sale by the end of the summer. I want to get it put up in print. Right now that’s really all I plan on working on. Once that’s done, I’ll re-evaluate things and go from there.

I’d had a request a while back to put some of the digi art on things like mousepads, bookmarks, etc. I can’t find the email, and I didn’t write down who (I apologize) but I did go ahead and put together a zazzle store. Right now it’s a bit empty, but I’ll be adding more stuff the next couple of weeks. You can go check it out over here.

So Wednesday there should be a new chapter posted, here and wattpad, and hopefully new digi stuff by this weekend.

I hope you all have a great week.

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May
2015

Where am I headed and why am I in this handbasket?

The one-two punches never cease. I’m trying to rearrange my schedule to accomodate the life changes we keep getting thrown. I don’t do well with back to back upsets.

I’ve flat out stalled on E1, and I apologize to my readers. We just had a combo of sick kids and sudden death in my family in oklahoma. Now that we’re back from that unexpected trip, I’m trying to get back on track.

More updates as I figure out what I’m doing and how to do what needs to be done.

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Feb
2015

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 25

This entry is part 26 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

The air was cool and held a hint of autumn. Mist blanketed the valley and from the center of it rose the Oracle. He gritted his teeth and nodded a silent greeting to Rale. They stood before the closed gates, staring up at the insignia. The only sound was the haunting melody that was so familiar.

“Where are the priests?” Rale asked. He was unshaven and had a pallor to his skin that made him look ill.

“I don’t know.” Tier glanced up at the wall. No movement, nothing. He stepped over, raising his hand to knock on the gate when it swung silently inward.

In the center of the courtyard stood a small robed figure, not much taller than the Seeress. Thin hands reached up, pushing the hood of the robe back revealing a very pale, blue eyed woman with a crown of white gold hair. Her robes once fine silks that might have been blue, were tattered and worn, moving about her in a wind he couldn’t feel. Tier swallowed, desperately wishing for a drink.

“Prince Tier.” The woman tipped her head to one side. Tier felt a brush against his mind, like butterfly wings, and pushed back at it. Her eyebrows arched and an odd smile crossed her lips before she peered at Rale. “Lord Rale. You are both late.”

“Where are the Priests?” Rale’s voice had a high pitched edge to it. She chuckled, the sound did nothing to ease Tier’s discomfort.

“The Festival of Hope draws them south to the coast this time of year.” Her voice was so low that Tier had to strain just to hear her.

“And you are?” Rale was frowning at her.

“Kit.” Tier answered for her, chills running up his spine as her remembered the old stories whispered in taverns and round campfires. The mind-breaker. The Voice of the Seeress. Rale went paler and swayed on his feet. She inclined her head slowly not looking away from Tier.

“That is what they call me, yes.” She made a slow circle around them, her hands pressed together in front of her. “You were sent for Elementals.”

“We were unable to bring them with us.” Tier said as she stepped in front of him and looked up at him. Her eyes were familiar, but he couldn’t remember from when.

“She will not be pleased.” Kit said after a moment. She shook her head and motioned towards the corridor leading to the Seeress’s room. “It is time.”

“I did as she asked.” Tier crossed his arms. She turned back to look up at him, her expression impossible to read.

“Yes, you did. Hopefully, for your sakes, she’ll remember her part.” She looked at Rale for a long moment before motioning them again to go down the corridor. Rale sighed and went, Tier stayed rooted, staring at the her.

“She waits for you, your highness.” The soft voice was hypnotic.

“Will she honor her part?”

Kit looked up at him and again he felt the butterfly wings brushing his mind. He pushed back, scowling and she smiled.

“I can’t answer that, your highness. She is not in a good mood.” Her voice never rose, yet it chilled him further. She knew what he could do. He nodded and followed Rale into the silent Oracle.

Each step echoed against the walls and the pressure he’d felt since returning to Nekar grew stronger. When they reached the inner sanctum, Tier could barely see. Pain shot through his head as the Seeress entered the room. His eyes locked on her, struck again by how young she looked. This creature was over a thousand years old? Two thousand? She stared at him, her blank eyes boring into his. He felt the pressure increase and could almost feel her fingers clawing at his mind.

He shuddered, unable to stop himself. He was certain she was trying to get into his mind.

“You failed.” Her voice, harsh and brittle compared to Kit’s soft tones, crawled over his skin. Her movements were less fluid than before, far more agitated.

“You said if we couldn’t bring them back,” Rale began. The Seeress turned her head and Rale gripped the sides of his head with a hoarse cry. Tier took a half step towards his cousin and then glared at the Seeress.

“We were hindered by another like you.” Tier said, somehow his shakes faded as she looked back at him, eyes wide. His fear faded, anger beginning to boil. This little creature had held Nekar in the palm of her hand for centuries. Even now his father was acting not on his own but in response to her. The pressure he’d felt since arriving back home was the Seeress, he was certain of it.

“There are no others like me.” She whispered. Tier was aware of the tattered robed Kit kneeling beside Rale.

“She called herself Launi.” Tier continued. Kit looked towards him but his kept his gaze on the Seeress. Kera, he reminded himself, her name was Kera. “She seemed to feel you were not entirely truthful with me when you asked me to look for elementals.”

“Did she?”

On the ground Rale groaned.

“Father informed me that you told him I was looking for a General’s daughter. That is not what you asked us to do.”

“Are you questioning me?” Her voice cold. On the ground Rale groaned.

“Yes I am.” He gripped his sword belt, his palms sweaty. He was a dead man already, he could see it on her face, he might as well give her a piece of his mind. “I was sent away from my duties under false pretenses. I have a war I am fighting, my men need me there. Not traipsing around the world looking for elementals who are not as extinct as we have been led to believe they were. How many other lies have you told our people?” Pressure upon pressure on his skull dropped him gasping to his knees. He glared up at her. She knelt, her fingernail scraping his cheek.

“You presume much, your highness.” She whispered hoarsely.

“Do I?” He narrowed his eyes. “Grandmother?”

For a brief moment the pressure stopped, he heard a gasp, the white faded from her eyes revealing a pale blue, like the woman from the mural. The pressure and the white returned and his cheek felt hot along where her fingernail had traced. Pain, white hot shot through his cheek.

“You have outlived your usefulness, your highness. Open your mind to me and I might see fit to spare your life.”

“And let you control my every movement? No thank you.” He whispered. Pain blazed again, but this time on his back. He jerked forward arching his back blindly attempting to ease the pain. The Seeress cupped his face in her hands, her fingernails biting into his skin.

“Let. Me. In.”

Tier closed his eyes, feeling the claws in his head. “No.” Anger welled up, flaring around him and for a moment, when he opened his eyes and met hers, he saw. A thousand years of lies, experiences, births, deaths, the building of an empire and behind it all were the shadowed images of people he didn’t recognize.

Time rolled beneath him, the war of the Seers, a conflict which had stretched for thousands of years had come to a head. It had been they, the spirit elementals, the sisters, not the elementals, that nearly tore their world apart. Darkness clouded his vision and he felt himself falling.

“Traitor.” Her voice echoed in his mind even as the darkness crowded around him. “Take him to the desert.”

 

 

Water dripped in the distance. Kit stared at the place the two men had lain, her mind whirring. Unexpected. Very unexpected. Kera paced behind her, hands clenched at her sides.

“How could he have found out?” Kera rasped. “It’s impossible, no one could have figured it out!”

Kit didn’t answer. She kept her secrets tightly behind a public wall of nonsensical thoughts. Kera had long grown weary trying to batter through it, the centuries had left the Seeress a touch lazy.

“Kit!”

Kit looked at her, pulling her robes tightly around her. “What?”

“Go with the army to Sandau. I want Launi brought here in chains.”

Kit inclined her head and watched Kera make her way back into the private area. Behind her heavy footfalls and the jingling of armor announced the arrival of the Oracle Guards. They went out of their way to avoid Kera if they could. Kit listened to them shuffling uncomfortably.

“My lady?” The Captain’s voice was hesitant.

“I’ve told you not to call me that, Captain.” Kit met the man’s eyes. He swallowed and inclined his head.

“Forgive me. The prisoner is ready to be taken to the desert, we’re having trouble locating some shackles though. We may have to send to the capital for some.”

“Use rope.” Kit, moved past him.

“But, Kit, rope…”

“He won’t be waking up again, Captain.” She pulled her hood over her head and met his eyes. “I made sure of that. All you need is to keep him propped up on the pole. Right?”

The Captain stared at her for a long time before nodding. “Of course. What do you want us to do with their horses?”

“I’ll take care of the prince’s horse. Send Lord Rale’s back to his family with him.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Good day, Captain.” Kit turned, making her way back to the courtyard.

The two travel weary horses stood patiently, waiting for their masters. She stepped up to the large warhorse, rubbing his nose. “You’ll do very well, won’t you?”

~*~

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

 

Chapter 24                                      Table of Contents                   Chapter 26

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Feb
2015

Plans and things

Some things;

The year of the Series.

Elemental Truth

I’m going to be posting the rest of the chapters of E1 as they are ready, at least one a day until they’re all up.

Once it’s done, I’ll be offering it at the usual outlets, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. I’ll also be preparing it to go to print through Createspace, hopefully no later than March 1st.

Book 2, Elemental Flame is outlined and ready to be written. Once I get the Avaria series out of the way. Or some of it.

Avaria Series

Bastard Prince, The Sarukai Lord, and The Dragon Gates are all slated to be finished this year. This series has lingered for too long.

I’m also going to be trying to get back on a posting schedule and the flash friday stuff.

 

Personally, life is still racing and I’m trying to figure out a balance. Thank you for sticking with me.

 

NPhoenix.

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Dec
2014

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 21

This entry is part 22 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

The house was a small building near the river. The pull of the water tugged at Xin as she stepped into the sparsely decorated main room. An archway led to a small kitchen and stairs set against one wall led up to what she assumed a loft or bedroom. It reminded her of the house she grew up in.

“Is there a reason we’re being detained?” Rale’s voice broke through the sudden nostalgia. Xin glanced at him. His jaw was clenched, eyes locked on the Lord of Sandau. Lord Nesh’s eyebrow arched.

“You are Nekarian. Need there be any other reason?”

Xin swallowed as Lord Nesh’s gaze landed on her. His eyes narrowed.

“An elemental traveling with a Nekarian butcher,” he clucked his tongue and shook his head. “Makes one wonder.”

“It was my choice to travel with them, my lord. Their manners have been impeccable.” Xin said. She bit off an insulting remark. It wouldn’t have helped anything.

“Indeed.”

“He saved my life.” Geb said. Lord Nesh looked at the boy, his lip twitching. For a moment Xin thought the Lord would smile.

“For what purpose, I wonder. Nekarians are not known for kindness to Elementals.”

“It’s none of your business, Lord Nesh.” Rale said. He stepped between Xin and Nesh. The guards shifted, hands going to their swords, though they didn’t draw. Nesh held a hand to one side and the guards slowly relaxed. “Our reasons for traveling together are our own.”

Nesh’s eyes narrowed. “As are my reasons for detaining you. Stay in the house, leaving might be detrimental to your health.” He turned and left. The guards exchanged dubious glances and followed him. Xin looked at the closed door, her heart hammering in her chest.

“Now what?” Geb asked.

“We wait for Tier.” Rale glanced at them and went to the stairs. “That’s all we can do.”

Tier was quiet when he returned. Outside the guards that had accompanied him were speaking quietly with the guards at the door. Xin swallowed as he glanced at her, then locked eyes with Rale. He jerked his head towards the kitchen and the two men stepped into the other room leaving Geb and Xin staring at each other. She could hear the men talking, their voices were low but urgent.

“Xin?” Geb touched her arm. “What’s happening?”

Xin shook her head. “Let’s go find out.”

Neither man looked her way when she entered. Rale pointed to an empty chair at the coarse table near a window. Xin sat, unable to look away from Tier.

“We’re being escorted back to Nekar.” Tier said. He met her eyes. “Without you or Geb.”

Xin looked back and forth between them, her mind frozen. She’d never planned to go to Nekar, but being left this way. She forced herself to breathe. They’d be returning without Elementals. “Your mission. If you go back without us,”

“The decision is out of my hands.” Tier hesitated and looked away. “The Seeress will understand.”

Xin doubted that. “What will happen to us?” she whispered.

“The Seeress here is arranging for you both to be trained in your elements. She believes returning to Nekar would put your life in danger.” His jaw clenched. “I believe she’s right.”

Xin stared at the whirls in the tabletop.

“There are other Elementals here?” Geb’s voice was loud in the quiet room.

“From what she said, there are masters in every element.” Tier said.

“The Seeress isn’t going to like it.” Rale’s voice shook.

“She doesn’t have to like it. Our hands are tied.”

Rale nodded. “We leave in the morning then?”

Tier nodded. “Get some rest Rale. We’ll be riding hard to get back to Nekar.” He left them sitting, stunned.

Xin stared at Rale. “What is he not saying, Rale?”

Rale shrugged. “I have no idea. I haven’t seen him like this.” he looked at her and swallowed. “This is better. You will be safer than in Nekar.”

“I know.” Xin stood glancing around the small kitchen. Fear was raging in her head. Not for her, but for Tier and Rale.

“Xin,” Rale began.

“He’s right, Rale.” She looked at him. “You’d better get some rest.”

His things were piled on a narrow cot in one of the rooms upstairs. Tier knelt beside it, trying to clear his mind. Heavy footfalls announced Rale’s arrival. His cousin was swearing with each step. Tier gritted his teeth. He couldn’t let Rale know what he knew.

“Any particular reason we’re being tossed out of the country?”

“We’re Nekarians.” Tier shrugged and upended his travel packs. He needed to repack and there were some things he couldn’t risk taking with him.

“And?”

“Sandau is on the verge of war with Nekar.” Tier shrugged. “We’re lucky they’re not going to hold us captive. Or for ransom.”

Rale hissed. “Don’t say that. Don’t want to give them any ideas!”

Tier snorted and stared over the pile on the cot. His papers, travel notes, the cloth wrapped book, and the box from Dhaul. All of it important. His gut twisted. If he took it with him…

“Tier, I don’t trust these Sandau people. Or their Seeress. Did you see the way Nesh was looking at Xin?” Rale asked in a rush.

Tier studied him. “Xin can hold her own against an arrogant backwater Lord. As of this afternoon,” he swallowed looking back at the stuff. “I’m no longer responsible for her well being.”

“And what about Geb?” Rale asked after a moment.

“Launi is arranging for them both to be trained by masters in their element. They’ll be safer here than anywhere I would take them.”

“Launi?” Rale stared at him. “On a first name basis with their seeress?”

“If anything she’s far more approachable than the Seeress of Nekar.”

I don’t like it.” Rale murmured.

“Go check the stores in the kitchen. See if there’s any food we can take with us. We’ll ride hard to get home.”

The silence stretched. “You’re trying to get rid of me.” Rale accused.

Tier said nothing.

“You’re keeping secrets, Tier.”

He just looked at Rale until his cousin turned and stomped down the stairs swearing under his breath.

Tier leaned against the cot. My secrets will be the death of me.

He lifted the book, staring at his family’s crest before opening it and flipping back to the last entry. The symbol sitting beside his grandmother’s name. The symbol of the Seeress; the eye with coiling ends crossed through what looked like scratch marks. His stomach roiled and he flipped back through the book with trembling hands. The symbol was there, every four or five generations. He fought bile rising in his throat. She was his grandmother. He closed the book, staring at it.

“Great gods.” He whispered. The stronger a blood bond, the more control a Spirit Elemental has over those close to her. He rubbed his forehead.

Seeress Kera controlled the throne.

He stuffed the book, the box and almost all of his traveling papers into the smaller pack and stared at it. If it fell into her hands, it could get him and others killed. He pushed the bag beneath the cot, pushing it as far as he could and straightened. To protect Rale, to keep Xin safe and maybe even slide out of her scrutiny he had to keep quiet. Perhaps Launi or her minions would find it. If they did they could… Could what? Destroy her?

He swallowed. He was thinking like a traitor. She’d led their people to the great success. Without her, Nekar wouldn’t exist and their people would be nothing but nomadic barbarians. He laid back on the cot, staring up at the rafters.

 

Tier was kneeling by the wall where the packs were. Xin hesitated at the top of the stairs. She wanted a moment with him, before he left. Just a few months of traveling with this man had changed her, and now he was leaving her behind. No, she was staying where things would be safer for her. She tightened her robe and forced herself to go down the stairs. He turned and stood eyebrows arching.

“Kind of late, what are you doing up?” There was an edge to his voice. Xin forced a grin.

“I could ask you the same thing.” She stepped over motioning the bags. “Leaving in the middle of the night?”

“The guards are soft.” he said with a shrug. He turned towards the kitchen, an empty bag in hand. “I think it might do them some good to have a change in plans.”

Xin chuckled and followed him. He lit the lamp from an ember in the stove and set it on the small table. The glow gave the kitchen a warm, homey feeling, or was it him standing there? Xin swallowed, forcing back regrets.

“You’re mean.” She leaned against the door jamb watching him pack things into the bag. He glanced her way, the crooked smile directed at her made her stomach knot.

“I know. But those guards, if they know how to ride a horse I’ll be surprised.”

Xin chuckled, but her smile faded quickly. She swallowed several times as he continued raiding the pantry.

“Will you ever return?” She had to know, He looked at her, and gave a barely perceptible shrug.

“When I return it will be as a conqueror.” His voice was low. “Whatever you can learn from these people, do so, then get far from Sandau.”

“How soon?”

“Couple years maybe?” He looked a touch sad. “If Chiron’s forces are successful, they’ll given Nekar an opening to Sandau.”

“Oh. You think Chiron’s forces will win?”

“Eventually.” Tier shook his head, looking down in the bag in such a way that his hair, longish and tousled obscured his expression. Xin frowned.

“She is not known for understanding or kindness.” she whispered. He nodded.

“True. At this point though it is out of my hands. Launi won’t allow me to take you or Geb with me. The Seeress will fume, but I’ve done what she’s asked.” He tied off the bag and set it down beside him. Xin nodded, staring at the bag, at his feet, the floor, anywhere but his face. She feared she would cry if she did.

“It’s not fair.” She said forcing herself to meet his eyes, heart pounding. He nodded. Xin felt the prickles in her eyes, the tightness in her throat.

“Life never is.” he said.

She shook her head. “That doesn’t help.”

He held out his hand and Xin took it, letting him draw her closer. His hands, rough and strong yet gentle as he folded his arms around her pressing his lips against the top of her head. “It never would have worked, we both know that.”

“I know.” She pressed her forehead against his chest feeling his strength, fear for him and what might happen raging. She wanted to beg him to stay with her. He lifted her chin, with a finger, forcing her to look up at him.

“You are far safer here, Xin, more than you realize.” His thumb brushed her lower lip and she could feel his hand pressing against her back, warm through her robe and nightgown.

“I know.” she pressed her palms against his chest.

He kissed her and every thought vanished in a sudden heat. She closed her eyes, savoring the taste of him the feel of his arm around her When the kiss broke they stood for several heartbeats in silence, forehead to forehead. Words were useless and thinking hurt. Xin stepped back, reluctant to leave his embrace but terrified of what might happen if she stayed.

“I should go back to bed.” she whispered.

“Might be a good idea.” his voice was hoarse, his breathing harsh and his eyes so intense she feared she would burn up in his gaze. “Before we get into trouble.”

“Be careful Tier.”

She half ran back up the stairs to her room, her body on fire and bittersweet tears filling her eyes. She heard the footfalls outside on the landing and heard Tier and Rale talking in low voices in Nekarian. She heard the front door open, the murmur of the guards protesting the middle of the night leaving and the closing door echoed in her ears.

~*~

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Want more to read? Check out J.A. Marlow’s Summer Crash serial

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