B2BCyCon2018 Fantasy Story Daisy Chain – A Group Storytelling Adventure

Brain to Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo 2018This post appears as part of the “Brain to Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo Fantasy Story Daisy Chain”…

Running from April 6th through April 8th, 2018 this online book event brought readers and authors together for a weekend of books, and book-related events.

I had the pleasure of being part of this event for the fourth year running, and being part of an amazing online writing collaboration.

Five authors met on Goodreads to create a story together, and I present the start of the story below…

Learn more about the Cyber Convention.

Learn more about the contributing authors:

A.F. Stewart, Ed IrelandSarah Kennedy, Dove Winters, Timothy Bateson

Be sure to scroll through the entire post, because there is a link at the bottom which will take you to the ongoing story.

I’d love to take suggestions for the story title…

Now Read “Wolves of Meraskar” (at least that’s what I’ve been calling it in my head)

Timothy Bateson (timothybateson) | 27 commentsmessage 2: by Timothy Mar 23, 2018 01:38PM
The skies turned red over the city of Meraskar, but that was normal for this time of year. Ancient stories told of how the gods had fought for dominance over man, and that the hero Natara had sacrificed himself to bring their war to an end.
The reddening marked the anniversary of the final battle in which Natara had slain the last of the gods, and the day that magic left the world. However, as the gods found, nothing lasts forever, and the seers of Meraskar feared sleep for the nightmares that would come with the darkness…
A.F. (scribe77) | 369 commentsmessage 3: by A.F. Mar 23, 2018 03:50PM
They dreamed of red eyes and the Night Wolves, of the soulless Hunters that had roamed the First World. And worst of all, the voice that uttered the forbidden name…
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 4: by Ed Mar 24, 2018 06:46AM
Devona!
The leader of the Meraskar Clan, the Alpha female. It was she that would bring her hunters to the surface, she that would set their directions, she that would preside over their feast.
The people in the city could do whatever they chose to save themselves, but none of it mattered. She looked at the red skies as the large wolf quietly took his place next to her. When she smiled, the look of the predator within was evident to all.
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 5: by Sarah Mar 26, 2018 09:22AM
Though only the impatient, golden eyes of the great, black wolf beheld Devona in that moment.
Devona touched his head lightly. “Tonight, Saran, you will bring me the eyes of the seers. You will bring me the bones of the dead hero, Natara. I must combine them with the blood of a dead god before the sun rises again. Only then can all be set right.” Her fingers knotted into his course hair, pulling ever so slightly. “Do not fail me.”
Saran growled softly. In the great darkness behind them, the Night Wolves echoed his answer.
Devona released him. “Now go. Make the streets of the city as red as the sky.”

Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 6: by Ed Mar 26, 2018 11:56AM

Within the city, the Captain of the Guard walked slowly along the parapets. His name was Ataar, the chosen of the Elders. In him, they found the security they craved, the leadership of their meager army that allowed them to go about their daily lives.
He wondered lately, what his city would do if the larger forces of General DeGrasse attacked. At this moment, it seemed as if Meraskar had more enemies than citizens. Their foremost enemy was the city-state known as Martile. They were large and industrialized, but they lacked the nutrient-rich soil to grow food. They trained their eyes on the fertile valley that held the small cities, Meraskar being chief among them.
DeGrasse made his way to each city and strongarmed each into giving a portion of their product once a month. Cities and villages alike fell dutifully in line…except for Meraskar. With the young Captain Ataar in command, the Elders voted to stay firm and not give in to Martile’s demands.
They had bigger problems…
Ataar’s ears twitched as the sounds of the forests suddenly ended. He turned his steely gaze towards them, trying to see beyond the fields sitting between the walls and the first tree line.

Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 7: by Sarah Mar 27, 2018 07:09AM
Saran led the Night Wolves to the brink of the forest. His large paws whispering over its floor. He knew this forest. He had walked it long ago: before the First World had been afflicted by the plague that called itself a hero; before the ancient wilderness had been carved up and bound by the great monstrosities called cities. Behind those walls, the Meraskar had long thought themselves safe. Safe from the forest and its primordial mysteries, at least. Most had even begun to believe the old things were dead, but tonight they would reap the bloodlust they had sown.
The Night Wolves waited just out of sight until the red hue darkened into deep shadow. Only the watch fires on the high walls marred the perfect darkness. On the wall, only a few kept watch. No more than mere children to his eyes. No match to the awakening powers of the First World; little threat to the hunger of the wolves. Those of the First World did not die easily.
Saran huffed out a sound and the Night Wolves advanced. They moved in a dark line, virtually invisible in the shadows.
A.F. (scribe77) | 369 commentsmessage 8: by A.F. Mar 27, 2018 07:28AM
The guards at the gate were the first to die, as Ataar saw them fall to snarling shadows, their blood staining the snow crimson. The steel entrance gates that should have held back legions caved inward and the Night Wolves stormed into the city.

“Invaders! To arms!” Ataar shouted the alarm but it was too late.

Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 9: by Sarah Mar 27, 2018 07:53AM
The guards began to shout. Why couldn’t they just stand and accept their fate? Did they honestly think their primitive weapons would save them? The Night Wolves stalked through the gates. Their paws splashing ominously in the blood of those already dead. They spread out into a line as Saran fixed his golden eyes upon Ataar. He almost admired the young captain. Almost.
Saran stalked forward. His eyes never wavering from those of Ataar, futilely trying to warn the captain to stand down. The young captain did not have to die tonight. His army did not have to be obliterated. Not if they would submit. Devona had not ordered their complete annihilation. What were the lives of the seers worth in the long run? What was the value in the lifeless bones of Natara? Were such things worth the lives of every Meraskar?
Ataar readied himself.
Saran threw back his head and howled.
The Night Wolves howled back.
Before the sound faded, Saran sprang.
Dove Winters | 46 commentsmessage 10: by Dove Mar 28, 2018 07:00AM
As the Night Wolves continued their assault on the remaining guards so they could enter the city, Saran focused his attention on Ataar. The young captain had his sword out, ready to fight. But with a swipe of his large paw, Saran disarmed him. He pounced upon the young captain, pinning him to the ground.
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 11: by Sarah Mar 28, 2018 07:27AM
Saran heard the captain’s breath whoosh from his lungs upon impact . The wolf stood over the captain, growling and considering. His mouth lowered menacingly toward Ataar’s throat. Saliva and blood dripped from his teeth into the captain’s face yet he did not immediately strike though his sharp eyes focused on the rapidly pulsing jugular. He could already taste the heat rising from the sweat-drenched skin. His nostrils flared, and the captain’s scent stopped him cold.
Ataar didn’t look like much but there was something of the wild about him, just a hint of something old and free. Saran’s eyes flashed back toward the captain’s. Their eyes met.
The wolf moving much more slowly now, in manner far from threatening, though the captain sensed how quickly that could change.
Saran was all rippling muscle as he stood there over the prone warrior. His tongue lashed out of his mouth, across the captain’s flesh, tasting him softly. Devona’s hold over his mind was not so strong that he could not sense there was something more to this one than met the eye. A sound rumbled in his chest as Saran abruptly backed off, not in fear, but wonder. Somehow, someway, the First World had placed its mark upon Ataar, and Saran served older, greater things than Devona and her endless bloodlust. Devona was a convenient ally to be sure. In many ways, their purposes aligned, but not in all.
Another of the Night Wolves lunged in, snapping at the captain. Saran knocked the creature away. The two wolves clashing, all teeth, and claw and rage yet Saran was the dominate of the two.
All the Night Wolves barked fiercely, momentarily at odds with each other before Saran took his rival to the ground. His pack would bring Devona all she had demanded but they would not give her the life of Ataar! Not this night; perhaps not ever.
Saran cast a final glance at the stunned Ataar before taking to the streets of the city. The Night Wolves hunted the seers and the bones of Natara above all others. Their growls quickly replaced by the screams of women and children and dying men, yet Saran was no longer so single minded in his purposes. Not if what he suspected concerning Ataar was true. And there was only one who would know…
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 12: by Ed Mar 28, 2018 10:22AM
As the sounds of the wolves racing back with their ill-gotten gains receded, Ataar lifted himself. Just as Saran held a slight confusion over exactly who, or what Ataar was, the Captain was equally confused at the feelings of his heart.
“I know you brother,” he thought. “I don’t know how or why, but I know you. And I know what my path is now…”
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 13: by Sarah Mar 28, 2018 10:38AM
Saran returned to the forest but not to Devona. He left the other wolves to take her the things they had won. He could not shake the smell of Ataar from his senses. Where did his loyalties lie? With Devona? With Ataar? Where did his path lie? His padded feet pounded swiftly along the ancient paths of the forest. He ran deeper and deeper until only the sounds of a trickling stream, and the whispers of the trees filled his ears, and the blood of so many dead dried into his fur.
He continued on, slower now, quieter. He was not the oldest and most dangerous thing in this part of the forest, but if there was answer to this mystery he would surely find it here.
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 14: by Ed Mar 28, 2018 05:52PM
“You travel far from the dens Saran,” said a deep voice that seemed to echo throughout the trees. “What is it that preys upon your thoughts?”
The wolf paused and searched the shadows around him. He could not see where the voice originated, but he could smell the source it came from.
“I came across a scent tonight,” he said. “It was unknown, but not unfamiliar. It seems to me that I should know it.”
“Does Devona know?” asked the voice, suddenly right next to him.
“No, I saw no need to tell her.”
“Good. If this is what I believe it to be, she will try to end it before it can even begin. You had better return before she suspects all is not right.”
“Who or what is it?” replied Saran.
“We’ll both have our answers soon enough old wolf,” replied the dark shadow that remained where the voice spoke. “When next we meet, it will be a time for actions rather than words.”
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 15: by Sarah Mar 29, 2018 07:43AM
Miles away, the Night Wolves prowled in an agitated circle around Devona; their ears twitched toward the forest, listening no doubt for Saran.
Devona ignored them as she worked over their bloody offering. Saran’s absence was not unexpected; she had always known the mighty wolf would betray her. She had planned for it, keeping him close with grand promises of restoring the First World to all its glory, when all she wanted was to devour. She had used him to do her bidding, to unknowingly hunt out the one she sought. Saran really should have made this harder, the foolish beast. The sorceress confidently added the eyes of the seers and the bones of the dead hero Natara to the cauldron that already held the blood of a dead god. Now only one thing remained, and her trap was already set.
The Night Wolves whined. So, Saran was returning. Devona smirked. She would bind him. She would take his will. She would force him to bring her the one that must die!
***
Saran obeyed the voice of the forest. He would always obey that voice. He was a creature of the First World. He would always know its source. He trotted through the forest, his spirit lighter despite all the questions still ringing through his mind. He smelled Devona and her dark magic long before he returned to her side. He heard the rest of the Night Wolves whining in the distance. Something was troubling them. Saran’s hackles rose; his pace quickened, and then he heard the tell tale snap of a twig. Someone who did not know the forest had entered.
Saran froze,snapping to attention. His nostrils tested the air. Ataar! The wolf hesitated. Had the captain lost all sense of self-preservation? No city dweller had set foot in the forest for ages. The forest hadn’t let them. Why now? Saran’s focus aimed toward the captain; his ears alert for other sounds: Devona, the Night Wolves, the whispering trees. The forest felt more alive than it had felt in a long time. And more dangerous…
Timothy Bateson (timothybateson) | 27 commentsmessage 16: by Timothy Mar 29, 2018 10:48AM
***
To Ataar’s eyes, the forest was full of darkness and looming shapes. It had always seemed imposing, even from the walls of the city, which had protected Meraskar from the things that men feared.
Tonight had shown just how pitiful that illusion of protection had really been. The horrors known as Night Wolves had ripped through his men and the city defenses as if there were mere fabric. The horror of what had happened still filled his heart, but
he was the last survivor of his people, and he had sworn an oath to their defense.
Now that oath lay burning alongside the funeral pyres of his men. To have given everyone in the city the rites of death would have taken too long, but he had owed his men their final dignity, before he set out to join them.
Too afraid of what would happen if he tried to take his own life, Ataar now stalked the forest hunting for the creatures that had killed his people. His vow was simple, to kill them all, or to die in the attempt.
And then he’d heard whining, and knew he was close…
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 17: by Ed Mar 30, 2018 06:44AM
***
Far away, another army began its march. General DeGrasse had finally decided that enough was enough and Meraskar must fall in line. The other communities were rumbling because of Meraskar’s non-compliance. If DeGrasse didn’t stem it now, he might be facing a full revolution soon. If Meraskar joined with the other communities, the resulting army might be enough to defeat him. Especially with Ataar as its leader.
They marched confidently towards their goal, unaware of the carnage they would find there. Unaware that the rich, fertile soil was now tainted with the blood of the city’s soldiers.
Unaware of the hornet’s nest he was marching into.
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 18: by Sarah Mar 30, 2018 07:13AM
***
Saran whined softly. This was the last thing he needed to deal with right now! Something in the forest was stirring. Old things. Angry things. Saran shifted uneasily, the disquiet of the forest transmitting itself to him. He stared at the path before him as it was completely lost in gloom. The forest loomed; trees dark, thick, and gnarled grew tight and close, their ancient bodies rearing upwards and stretching outward so the boughs intermingled. An undertone of strange whispers breathed among the trees. Saran snarled. The captain was insane! Truly insane! But he was also marked. How? Why? He didn’t know, but he had not spared the captain’s life to let him spend it so rashly! Hadn’t the voice in the deep wood told him this man had a destiny? The massive wolf threw his head back and howled. The Night Wolves answered from the distance, but they were running, and he was too far away! Saran growled. He could go to Ataar. He knew this forest better than anyone. He had to go to Ataar…
The wolf took off at a run but suddenly from all around him more twigs snapped. His fur bristled as another scent that did not belong filled his nose. It was masked by the scent of the forest, but where? His eyes roved his surroundings.
There!
From out of a covering of loose leaves sprang more men. He was surrounded! Saran growled and snarled; his teeth flashing violently as the circle of intruders tightened in around him. His every instinct told him to run or fight, and running was not an option now. His sharp eyes quickly pinpointed the weakest of his attackers and he lunged. His mouth clamped around the boy’s hand, tearing flesh, rending bone. The boy fell screaming. Saran stalked forward. Something hit Saran from the side. A foot? The wolf fell. He saw a dozen hands raise, a flash of weird blue-black light, and rocks pummeled him. No, not rocks. Magic! Magic that could only have come from Devona! It clung to him, like nettles tangling into his fur. Saran ripped at one of the glowing knots to no avail. The more he struggled, the tighter they wound themselves into his body; each magical nettle shooting out connections toward the others. The fight or flight instinct was too strong. Saran ‘s body contorted and convulsed and writhed over the forest floor, but the growing net was too strong. His high, piercing yelps of sheer agony drowning every other sound in the forest.
***
The Night Wolves howled. Their mournful wails rose in an eerie chorus throughout the forest. The various tones and pitches echoing and distorting any sense of their number or location. Captain Ataar stilled, his no doubt useless sword, raised before him. Despite all his anger and grief, the horrible yelps resounding through the forest gripped his heart. Somehow he knew, the loudest and worst of those cries were those of the monstrous black wolf who could have killed him but gave him life instead. “I know you brother,” he thought for the second time as his knees buckled beneath him and the spider-webbing echo of the wolf’s pain blasted through his own body…
***
At last, Saran stilled. He couldn’t move. He could scarcely even breathe. The dominant wolf now lay on his back, exposing throat and belly to the advancing humans. His voice a mere whimper. Strong, merciless hands heaved him up from the floor of his beloved forest before darkness stole away his awareness. He didn’t see how one of those men lingered a little longer in the horribly agitated forest.
***
The soldier was a big, brute of a man. He was fearless and arrogant even as the forest seemed to heave with violent awareness. He held his ground even when the Night Wolves ran in upon him.
Base instinct seized hold of the Night Wolves as they appraised the man. They dropped into crouches, ready to attack. Deep, bass-like growls passed between bared teeth. As if oblivious to the warning, the mercenary just smirked.
“Devona!” He yelled. “This magic of yours is impressive; the Lady De Grasse will be most pleased. She is most anxious to obtain more.” He laughed. “I have your wolf but if you want him, you should know that my lady’s price has gone up! Her son lost his hand today! And I do, of course believe, she has a few other… shall we say… conditions. She will expect you at Martile! But as always, do come quietly. The General must remain ignorant of our actions!”
***
From the tallest tower of Martile, Lady DeGrasse watched her husband and his army leave. Maybe he would die at Meraskar. She could always hope, but just in case she had another plan well under way. Its one flaw, its dependence upon the sorceress Devona, her sister…
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 19: by Sarah Mar 31, 2018 07:36AM
Captain Ataar struggled to regain his footing as the wolf’s pain lingered in his body. His hands grappled for his sword. His grief and anger at the Night Wolves starkly at odds with the bond that linked him so directly to the black wolf’s pain.
The forest knocked him down. The ground heaving and buckling violently. The loose covering of leaves flying over him, hiding him, but they were nothing compared to the massive weight hanging upon his limbs, as if a giant hand had seized a hold of him and was pulling him deeper into the forest, deeper into its earth! A darkness was closing in around him. Captain Ataar let out a strangled cry. There in the sudden darkness was another. Whatever it was, it stood out in the dark because it was so much blacker. The shadow moved around him, whispering.
“Yes. Yes.”
Captain Ataar’s mind reeled. He felt strangely disembodied as the shadow pinched and prodded every inch of his body. Whispering, always whispering.
“Oh, its’ true. Yes. Yes.”
The words made no sense to Ataar. They made even less sense than this bond to the wolf. He could feel the wolf still, moving further and further away, yet the pain grew no less pronounced. Ataar swallowed at the lump in his throat and tried to focus. He writhed against the weight of the forest. “Who are you?” He said. “What do you want?”
The dark shadow stilled. “Who are you, now that is the question…”
***
Saran stirred. Memory came abruptly and with a fresh bite of pain. The magical bonds cut deeper, lacerating his flesh. His blood trickled hotly into his fur. A soft whine filled the silence. He tried to see, only his eyes moving. Where was he? Where were they taking him?
Fear gripped his heart. He had heard stories of creatures from the First World, taken by the city dwellers of old. Chained. Caged. Their free spirits being torturously broken. They could only lose themselves in the misery of confinement for to cage what was wild was to break it. Is that what awaited him? A fate worse than death? Another whine burst up his throat. The magic cut deeper…
***
“ARGH!” Ataar screamed, welts rising on his skin. The sound, his only answer to the dark shadow’s question. “What is happening to me?”
The dark shadow sighed around him. “Who are you?”
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 20: by Ed Mar 31, 2018 05:54PM
Ataar turned toward the voice, ready to shout out his rebellion. Instead, a deep-throated growl came forth, then another. Ataar looked down into his hands and saw the pads forming in his palms. Along his body he could feel the hair rushing from every inch while his mouth seemed to push out towards some imaginary freedom.
His bones began twisting and turning, elongating in some instances. The pain that gripped him as his wonder trailed off sent a bone-chilling scream from his lips. His body slumped to the floor while the magic within him wove its spell around him.
“Oh my!” exclaimed the voice. “I never believed in the old legends! I never thought them true, but here you are!”
Ataar lay gasping for air, his body suddenly no longer his. At least the one he remembered. But even now, some memories raced from him while other, long-buried ones began to flood his conscious. He lifted his gaze to the being that brought him here, looking wistfully from his place on the ground. His hands were now paws, his legs long and covered with white fur. His benefactor held a mirror up for him. He was quite unprepared to see the amber eyes of the great white wolf staring back at him.
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 21: by Sarah Apr 02, 2018 07:39AM
Ataar’s newly sensitive ears pricked to distant sounds: the Night Wolves running; carriage wheels rattling; a weak whimper that pricked his own heart. His nostrils filled with the scent of the forest, and the lingering scent of man flesh suddenly felt wrong. A corruption of the primordial life choking in around him. The white wolf growled, a new feral rage coiling through his altered body, almost against his will. There was a part of him that wanted to run with the wildness all around him. He wanted to protect the one who had protected him. Ataar tried to harden himself against that desire. He tried to ling to his rapidly fading human thoughts. His hatred and anger and grief, but he couldn’t shake the grip of the wolf’s much stronger desires. “The black wolf,” he said to the shade of the forest, “who is he? What is he to me? Why do I feel his pain? And what have you done to me?”
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 22: by Ed Apr 02, 2018 07:52AM
The shade regarded him for a moment, still in disbelief of his existence.
“Quite simply,” he said at length, “he is the other side of you. In the early days of the First World, the great Goddess gave birth to a single child but saw an inner conflict within. Call it a struggle between good and evil. In her divine wisdom, she decided to separate these conflicts by giving her child two distinct forms to carry them.”
“A white wolf and a black wolf,” said Ataar. “One good and one evil.”
“It is never so simple Ataar,” replied the shade. “Not all that is good is free of evil and not all evil is free of good. Your mother understood that concept and the conflicts it would cause in you. Saran…your brother is no eviler than you. He just looks at life from another angle.”
“You are both needed to create the perfect world of balance. The balance that is needed to defeat Devona.”
“Then it would seem that my first mission is to save my brother,” said Ataar. “Will you help?”
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 23: by Sarah Apr 02, 2018 08:02AM
“Save him, yes, you must, but first you need to rally the Night Wolves. There is no greater army in the First World. They will not follow the man in you, Ataar. Only the wolf, and only after they have tested you. All the while, Devona will seek to destroy you as she seeks to control your brother. I cannot help you with that. You must accept what you are. You must embrace the wolf. I can see how you are resisting my words. But when we meet again, Ataar, you and Saran must truly be brothers. On that day, I will help you. Now, go. Saran is in great danger, saving him might well be the hardest battle you have ever faced, but heed this warning. The magic binding Saran can only be broken with the strength of two who are one.”
Ataar rose off his haunches, turning toward the distant sounds.
“Oh, and Ataar, I know that the man still lingers in your veins. You should know an army marches this way but do not let the plight of men distract you…”
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 24: by Ed Apr 04, 2018 10:23AM
Ataar turned from the shade and trotted off to the west. He could feel the black wolf more than smelling him, but he knew this was the way. The shade’s words preyed on his mind.
Yes, he still had much of his former life within. He could not fully function as the creature he had become and this presented itself as a problem. He knew that Saran would be heavily guarded and that he might not have the savagery to defeat those guards. Right now, he still thought as a man does and that would not do at all. He must act first and think of the consequences later.
Also, the shade said that he and Saran must truly become brothers. That meant there was something that was missing. Something that was preventing that from happening. There were so many things to consider and yet very little time to think of them. Already, the first faint scents of Saran were lingering in the air. The foul smell of the magic that bound him lingered as well causing his nose to wrinkle.
At the opposite end of the forest, General DeGrasse halted his men. His eyes scanned the blood trails he had been following from the city. He peered into the darkness and a chill suddenly took hold of his spine and rattled it. In his mind, he could hear the words he needed to yell, the orders to retreat and race back to Martile and the imagined safety of her walls. Instead, muted silence mixed with fear. His Captains looked at him as he nodded silently and pointed forward.
Far away, Devona smiled. All of her pieces were moving into place.
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 25: by Sarah Apr 05, 2018 07:39AM
Except for her sister…Devona frowned, turning westward. Her sister’s mercenaries were not to steal her wolf and hold him for ransom. The Lady DeGrasse was as petty as always. She should have known not to trust her sister’s grand offers of assistance. Ever since they were children Devona had always had to do everything herself! Now, thanks to her sister’s betrayal the Night Wolves were running wild; the forest shades were awakening; and she was forced to delay her ultimate plan to deal with her sister! Saran would be hers! Saran would serve her! Saran would bring her the one who must die! Most disturbing was the new presence she felt in the forest, distant, not quite man, not quite beast. Just a feeling, nothing more, and it felt dangerous.
***
The Night Wolves tore through the western edges of the forest, howling after Saran. Other creatures retreated from their rage, hiding until only the methodical footsteps of the white wolf lingered beneath the canopy.Ataar moved toward the edges of the forest with constant growls rumbling in his chest. Cryptic words and strange powers that’s all the mystical shade of the forest had offered. Embrace the wolf, it had said, as if he had a choice! Heed no plight of man, it had said, well, someone had to! Rally the Night Wolves, it had said… his growls were fiercer still. The smell of his mens’ blood and burning flesh was still in his nostrils. The bitter desire for vengeance warred against the wolf he had become. A wolf! The Night Wolves had slaughtered everyone he knew, everyone he had loved, and now this thing told him their leader, the black wolf Saran, was his brother! Ataar snarled yet there was no denying the bond between them. Pain. Saran’s pain, and nothing deserved to feel that kind of agony.
On the edge of the forest, Ataar stopped, glancing back. Could he really just let an army descend upon his broken city unopposed? He was its sworn protector even now. General DeGrasse had been issuing threats for months. After all his hard work to resist the general’s control, could he really just let that army plunder everything while he ran around on four legs and “embraced the wolf.” Then again, did it really matter when the city had already been annihilated, and what was one wolf against legions?
Ataar glanced toward the West again. His newly sensitive ears pricked to a distant sound.
***
Saran whimpered. A surge of despair gripped his heart as his captors carried him further and further away from the forest…
Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 26: by Ed Apr 08, 2018 09:14AM
“Quiet old wolf,” said his burly captor. “Your days of being protector of the First World are almost at an end. When my mistress settles with her sister, I imagine she’ll absorb what little you have left to give.”
His eyes closed for a moment as a sly smile crossed his face.
“Then she’ll give me a power that no man has ever felt before. I’ll take her in my arms and make love to her. I’ll leave her sated and spent in her bed. Then I’ll start the slaughter of this world, starting with her husband.”
Grimacing through the pain, Saran managed his own smile.
“One man has already felt that power,” he whispered. “The one who comes to kill you.”
***
Behind the unholy caravan, Ataar stepped into the clearing where the Night Wolves waited. They eyed him suspiciously, beginning to circle and growl. Ataar watched them as they moved, his eyes suddenly fixed on one rather large wolf.
“You lead them in Saran’s absence,” he thought. “Then you’ll have to submit to your new pack leader.”
In a flash, Ataar attacked. His teeth flashed momentarily in the meager light of the moon that filled the glade. He gripped the other wolf tightly by the throat, but not yet piercing the skin. The suddenness took the other wolves by surprise but now they began to move in.
“HOLD!” said the wolf in Ataar’s grip hoarsely. “The outsider has won fairly. He is our leader. Besides, I can smell the same scent on him as Saran carried.”
Ataar let his grip loosen quickly and he nodded to the wolf.
“Saran is my brother!” he said to the assembled pack. “You are all my brothers now as well! Let us go into the night now for magic and mayhem are afoot! Let us go save our brother Saran!”
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 27: by Sarah Apr 09, 2018 08:18AM
The mercenary jabbed Saran’s side, enough to make the bindings lash deeper, and laughed as fresh blood poured from the deepening wounds. Saran made a weak cry but from the distance came a fierce howl.
“What was that?” One of the men yelled as he tried to soothe his suddenly agitated horse.
Saran’s tormentor looked back. “Wolves,” he said. He drew his sword though he saw nothing moving.
Howls echoed from everywhere.
“How many?”
“A lot of them.” The mercenary growled. “I think they are trying to cut us off! We need to push forward. NOW! If we can reach the top of that hill, Lady DeGrasse’s power will protect us! She promised!”
Saran whimpered softly. His sharp ears pricked to the answering sound of another wolf. They were close.
The mercenary struck Saran again. “Make another sound and I’ll give you something to really whine about.”
***
Ataar licked the blood from his side. “That one is mine.” He growled to his pack.
***
Saran’s sharp gaze fixed on the spot from which the sound originated. How deep did the bond run? “Can you hear my thoughts too?” He wondered. He did not expect an answer, yet somehow he hoped.

Ed Ireland (edireland) | 119 commentsmessage 28: by Ed Apr 09, 2018 10:11AM

“I hear you my brother,” a voice spoke softly. “I am close but the magic that binds me is powerful. Let the men get to their sanctuary on the hill.”
Ataar felt the pain of Saran. Slowly, he was also becoming aware of the Night Wolves. He felt their savagery and unbridaled hatred for the men they stalked.
“They will do what you tell them to,” said Saran. “You are more than one of the pack. You are me and we are alpha. Tell them to keep the men on the hill.”
“You must hunt the witches…”

Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 29: by Sarah  Apr 09, 2018 10:57AM
Devona waited for the sun to rise. Her sister wanted quiet. She was going to bring fury. Her sister wanted secrecy. Well, she was done keeping secrets. If her sister wanted a fight, she was going to give her one, and if General DeGrasse followed so much the better. There were so many threads of possibility she could manipulate now. So long as Saran remained bound, she would have him. And through him, everything…
The sorceress laughed maniacally as she raised her arms overhead. She raised her power and drew up that of the forest. She changed with it, flying like a thousand ravens out of the First World.
***
“General DeGrasse! Sir! It is an omen!” A soldier shouted.
Incoherent shouts drifted through the ranks.
“It is an omen of death!”
“It flies toward Martile!”
General DeGrasse frowned.
“Sir? What do we do?”
***
Ataar listened to Saran’s weak thoughts, inwardly rebelling against the words that pleaded with him to leave. “Do you know what they will do to you if they reach their sanctuary?”
“Do you know what they will do to you if you come for me now?” Saran thought back.
Overhead, the screaming of ravens pierced the dawn…
Sarah Kennedy | 30 commentsmessage 30: by Sarah Apr 10, 2018 08:30AM
“Trust me, brother, and do as I say,” Saran thought when the birds had passed. “Devona is already moving.”

Read the ongoing story… here

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Weather is a fact of life… So is getting hit by flying debris

Weather services say that Alaska does not experience hurricanes, and that’s true, for the most part. But sometimes for those of us living in certain areas, it can seem like it. You see, I live in a valley between two glaciers, and winds tend to get funneled straight through my local area.

As you can see from the image above, we’re currently experiencing winds of 35 mph, with forecasts of gusts up to 54 mph. And this is the third day we’ve had conditions like this, with it expected to taper off by Friday.

Let’s put those wind speeds into perspective, with some information about how they’re classified…

So 35 mph is a moderate gale, and that’s pretty normal here year round, especially during winter high winds. After 13 years living here, I’ve come to expect trees to sway, and prepare to push against the wind when walking against it. But then, these winds are still more than strong enough to pick up trash, dust and has the potential to cause minor injuries if you aren’t careful.

Then we run up the scale two whole categories, with 54 mph winds. Now we’re talking about a strong gale, and real damage and potential for injuries to happen. At this point, expect shopping carts to roll across parking lots whenever they’re left loose. Watch out for cross-winds while driving, flying twigs and small branches. Keep hold of your car doors when opening and closing them, and check your roofs for missing slates.

I went out earlier today, and almost got blown over three times, and had a car door slam shut because I didn’t hold it with one hand while trying to load my shopping. Thankfully, I’d finished loading, had stepped aside, and was about to close the door anyway.

Also in the process of writing this post, I’ve lost power twice. Admittedly, only briefly in both cases, but for long enough to reboot my router, cable modem, and drop me into pitch blackness.

[update: I lost power again 20 minutes after scheduling this post. This time for almost 80 minutes. And since I rent, I don’t have the account information for the power company to log my outage. Spent the time reading a book, on my phone, in bed, while trying to stop the screen rotating every time I moved…]

Q: Who calls 18F temperatures, with 54 mph winds “Fair and Windy”?

A: The National Weather Service, that’s who!

I beg to differ. Personally, I’d say it’s cold and extremely windy. But then, I guess if I wrote the weather reports, I’d probably end up scaring people more than the NWS.

But I’ll tell you one thing. Experiences like this definitely make me take weather into account when I’m writing scenes. After all, the weather is as much a character as any of the people I create.

Disclaimer: No Debris Was Harmed In The Writing Of This Blog Post!

My Top 10 Haunted Locations

No Halloween event is complete without a trip to the local Haunted House. For this reason I’ve scoured the internet trying to find some of the most iconic, and most haunted locations around the world.

Even though the number of places I found was huge, I selected my top 10, and present it (in no real order) for your reading pleasure.

#1 – The Catacombs of Paris (France)

The Paris Catacombs are built in the remains tunnels that connect the old stone mines. The tunnels head south from the Barrière d’Enfer and they were converted into a series of ossuaries to help alleviate the overcrowding of the Parisian cemeteries.

Work began in 1774, and by 1786 remains were being transferred to the catacombs on an almost nightly basis. After a while, it became almost forgotten, before being rediscovered and becoming a venue for private events and concerts.

In 1874 the catacombs opened to the public, and now see over a million visitors a year. With all those visitors and guides walking around, surrounded by the dead, is it any wonder that there are reports of encounters with ghosts?

#2 – Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp (Poland)

There are few names that inspire as much horror and trepidation as those of the concentration and extermination camps built during the Nazi rise to power. Auschwitz-Birkenau was a complex of camps established to initially extend the prisoner holding capability of local prisons in Poland, and received it’s first prisoners in June 1940.

The main camp, Auschwitz I, held anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners at any one time, and was built on the grounds of a Polish barracks.

Construction on the second camp, Birkenau (aka. Auschwitz II), was started in 1941 on the site of the Brzezinka village. The villagers were all evicted to make way for the camp, and it was here that the greatest part of the extermination machine was enacted, with the majority of deaths occurring within it’s walls.

When the Soviet troops approached the walls in January 1945, most of the prisoner population was west on a death march. Even those who visit the camps today can’t imagine the horrors that must have occurred on these grounds, with estimates of the dead from 630,000 to 900,000. With so many prisoners going unregistered, it’s almost impossible to guess at how many souls still wander the grounds.

#3 – Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon (England)

Berry Pomeroy is a Tudor-period mansion that was built within the walls of an older castle in Totness, England. It was built in the 15th century, on land owned by the Pomeroy family since the 11th century, before passing into the hands of the Seymore family in 1547.

There are two very famous ghosts that haunt these halls… However, there are often overlaps between the stories, and the truth behind them is often blurred by time and retelling.

The White Lady is said to be the spirit of Lady Margaret Pomeroy, who apparently starved to death while imprisoned by her jealous sister.

The Blue Lady apparently also walks the hall and grounds, luring people into following her to her tower. Those who follow her are said to plummet to their deaths from the tower.

#4 – Underground  Vaults, Edinburgh (Scotland)

Edinburgh Castle sits atop the remains of a volcanic plug, overlooking the city from it’s highest point. The current structures are built on a site that has been occupied by one form of settlement since the 2nd century.

Over the years it has grown from a small settlement to the imposing fortress we see today. It served as a formidable stronghold throughout it’s 1100 year history, including at least 26 sieges, the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite Revolution.

While few of the current structures pre-date the 16th century, there are underground vaults that were rediscovered during the 1980’s. These vaults had lain abandoned for almost 200 years beneath the South Bridge, and had once been used as cellars, workshops, and even residences for the businesses that operated on the bridge. Unfortunately flooding started almost as soon as construction began on these vaults, and now the South Bridge is said to be among the many sites where hauntings have occurred. Some visitors even report being attacked, or nausea and vomiting when passing over the vaults.

#5 – Coliseum, Rome (Italy)

The Coliseum (aka Colloseum) is one of the most impressive landmarks to dominate the skyline of Rome. It dominates an area 620 feet by 510 feet,  and rises almost 160 feet over the crowds that come to visit it every year.

Construction was started by Emperor Vespasian sometime around AD 70, and it was officially opened in AD 80 by his son Titus. The event was celebrated with 100 days of games, gladiatorial contests and wild animal fights. And that was just the start of the history that bathes the amphitheater in the blood of those who fought for the entertainment of 50,000-80,000 spectators at any one time.

The complex boasts a number of cells, tunnels where slaves, prisoners and animals would be housed between fights. And fights and other entertainments continued to be held here right through to the middle of the 6th century, until it fell into.

With so much blood being shed within it’s walls, over such an extended period of time, is it any wonder that some visitors report seeing ghosts, or feelings of disquiet while making their way through the grounds?

#6 – Whitechappel/Spittalfields, London (England)

The streets of Whitechapel and Spittalfields are part of the famous London East End, and among those that became associated with the classic Dickensian London.

During the 1800s they were an overcrowded warren of poverty-stricken streets, alleyways that saw a large population increase from immigrants in the 1880s and onward. Even today, the East End is considered one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the London area.

Having already been made famous in the stories of Charles Dickens, it became infamous in 1888 for a string of murders that have baffled even modern investigators. Five murders occurred over the space of four months before the killing stopped, and all within a few blocks of each other.

Why were these deaths so significant? Because the killer struck without warning, with apparent surgical precision, and was given a name that struck terror into people’s hearts… After the fifth, and most brutal killing, he never struck again, was never caught, and his real identity has become the subject of hundreds of theories.

Just who was Jack the Ripper? And why did he stop killing? Maybe we’ll never know.

#7 – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (USA)

In 1863, a tiny town in Pennsylvania played host to what has been described as the deadliest battle of the American Civil War. Over the course of three days, with the Union soldiers low on ammunition, and losing the fight against the Confederates, over 8,000 men died on the fields of this town.

However, the men weren’t the only ones to die during the fighting, 3,000 horses, and one woman were also killed, and it is said that the ghost of Jenny Wade haunts the apothecary at the center of town. But she’s not alone in haunting the town and fields. Visitors report seeing ghosts all over the battlefield, and some have even told tales of seeing parts of the battle replayed around them.

With such a huge loss of life, and the emotions that are stirred by the events of the battle, is it any wonder this is considered one of the most haunted places (acre-for-acre) in the USA.

#8 – Dominican Hill, Baguio City (Philippines)

Built the early 1900s, the Diplomat Hotel is one of several locations in the Philippines where refuges fled from the Japanese forces during World War II. That is until the location was bombed, causing severe damage to the building.

Over the years, the property has passed through several hands, starting life as a vacation house, seminary, and eventually a hotel.  A number of people are said to have died on the site, despite having come in the hopes of being cured of whatever terminal conditions they had.

The last known death was in 1987 when the owner of the property died of a heart attack. Ever since then the property has been off limits to the public.

Over the years, stories have circulated that the property was the site of a number of beheadings of priests and nuns, and that headless ghosts have been seen roaming the grounds. Considering the current dilapidated state of the property, it’s not hard to see why people experience periods of dead silence, when not a single sound can be heard.

#9 – Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire (England)

This former pub is currently listed as one of the most haunted hotels in England. Built back in 1145, and said to have been owned by St Mary’s Church, this property is now under private ownership, having passed through a number of hands since it’s construction.

Over the years it has been investigated by a number of paranormal research groups, and featured on many shows centered around investigating hauntings and paranormal activities.

If local stories are to be believed, the inn is built on the intersection of two ley lines, and over an ancient burial ground from 5,000 years ago. It has apparently also been host to child sacrifice and devil worship. People who have stayed at the hotel have reported everything from a young ghostly girl (called Rosie), and objects being moved by unseen presences, to being physically pushed by forces they couldn’t identify.

Whatever is really going on here has been enough to terrify some guests into jumping out of windows to escape their experiences.

#10 – Highgate Cemetery, North London (England)

This is quite possibly one of the most famous cemetery in England, because of the size of the site, and the list of famous people who are buried here. It’s not just the people who have been buried here, but the architecture, and grave markers of the 170,000 people buried in 53,000 graves.

I’ve personally walked through sections of this cemetery in search of the graves of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and George Eliot. What struck me most is just how much architecture plays a part in the atmosphere of the site. Huge terraces at the top of the hill rest upon the catacombs beneath, Gothic architecture dominates large portions of the site, and there is even an area where Ancient Egypt seems to have taken root.

What I can’t easily describe is just how different this place feels and looks between daytime and night. But I was leaving the site just as the sun went down, and it’s easy for the mind and emotions to become ensnared by the creepy feeling that you’re not alone.

Discussion Topic:

Do you have a Top 10 of haunted places you’d like to share?

Have you had a personal ghost experience?

Comment below, and let everyone know they’re not alone in their experiences.

 

Book Spotlight – “Broken” by Angela B. Chrysler

Book Blurb

When a young journalist, William D. Shaw, seeks out Elizabeth, an acclaimed author, in hopes to write her biography, the recluse grants him twenty-four hours to hear her story. What unfolds are events that teeter on the edge of macabre and a psychological thriller.

Together, they descend into the bowels of psyche and examine her past filled with neglect, rape, abuse, torture, and pedophilia to explore the psychology of a human being who has lived her entire life without love, comfort, family, physical contact, affection, therapy, or medication.

As William tries to understand Elizabeth’s decisions to embrace an isolated life, he witnesses Elizabeth’s multiple mental conditions that send her spiraling into the worlds of her psyche all while toggling the lines of insanity. Broken takes you inside the mind of a trauma survivor while one survivor relives the memories that resulted in her mental conditions. Experience what BPD and PTSD is like from the inside.

Buy Your Copy Now! E-Book, Paperback

From the Author

Angela B. Chrysler is a writer, logician, philosopher, and die-hard nerd who studies theology, historical linguistics, music composition, and medieval European history in New York with a dry sense of humor and an unusual sense of sarcasm. She lives in a garden with her family and cats.

Where To Find Angela B. Chrysler

E-mail, Website, Newsletter

What is it you wish you had known before writing or publishing??? (An interview collection by Mercedes Prunty)

I’m going to open this post with an apology for being late getting this written. I actually forgot to create this post ahead of time. Then this morning, I found out that I was one of several authors who’d been quoted in a blog post by fellow author & blogger, Mercedes Prunty.

bty

A few days ago, Mercedes posted the following question to the Science fiction, fantasy and other genre’s : Learning to promote effectively Facebook group:

What is it you wish you had known before writing or publishing???

Check out what I, and several other authors responded over on her blog: Mercedes Prunty Author : The Walking Mumbie

If you’re a writer, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments in Mercedes’ post. I know that she’s looking to help as many people as possible, and we’ve all got things we wish we knew when we started our writer journeys.

Crazy Love Stories – I’m Available!!!! (An interview by Bianca Basak Dikturk)

I’m so excited to share the news about this particular interview. A few weeks ago, my wife was chatting online with Bianca from the Crazy Love Stories blog, and they got talking about how people met. When the subject changed to how Sandi and I met, Bianca asked if we would do an interview for her site, and we had no hesitation in saying a huge YES!

I don’t want to spoil anything, except to say that as you read, remember one thing… My wife is a very subtle woman sometimes, and at other times she has to hit me over the head with a very large brick to get her point across… I’m sure you’ll see what I mean…

Click the image below to read the story, and please show Bianca just how much we appreciate all her hard work, and her friendship.

Weird Conversations At 1:20am

This is one of those blog posts that is going to enter very weird territory before it’s finished… But then that’s what happens when people have conversations when neither one of them is entirely awake.

On the subject of bomb warnings…

If you grew up in England during a particular time, you might have lived with the potential threat of bombs going off in some of the big cities. If that’s the case, then you may have seen posters similar to this one in any number of places.

I remember seeing any number of posters reminding people to keep their eyes open for packages, suitcases, bags, or other unattended. They were a constant reminder that there was always the potential for one of those items to be a bomb. Some went so far as to remind you not to approach the item, but contact the police instead.

Warnings turn to humor…

After a while, I started seeing graffiti that took the warning, and added humor. But not before I’d already had the conversation with some friends in the early hours of the morning…

Now this was before the internet had become an invasive part of our lives. It was also way before people turned such things into viral memes, that would spread like wildfire.

And then turn into the unexpectedly bizarre…

Now my wife is very much aware of these conversations, and just how strange my mind is at times. But last night, we were talking about something (I can’t for the life of me remember what), but I turned to her and said “Be alert”, and she came back with a reply that left me speechless and laughing, because it was so unexpected.

I jumped out of bed, wrote it down in my journal, with the lights off, in the dark, and could still somehow read it this morning. So I couldn’t help but turn it into a poster. And for what it’s worth “I’m sorry” and “You’re Welcome”

Do you have any bizzare late night (or any other time) conversations you want to share?

Feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll share the best responses in a future post!