August 21, 2009
July 6, 2009
Uninvoked is moving to its own domain! Link coming soon. ^^
Edited to say:
link is here, but be forewarned, I am in the process of figuring it all out and thus it is not very good…yet.
June 28, 2009
They needed to escape Shadow-fy. That much was clear inside Amy’s head, despite the other fears that caught at her brain and demanded their full share of her attention. Bernard was taking his bid for indelfy ‘freedom’ too far, and Amy had no intention of sticking around long enough to help with it. She’d gotten enough to give Schreber, she had verbally refused to help Bernard, wasn’t that enough?
Rat squeaked, and the alarm in his voice made her stop. There was someone waiting for them in her quarters. Someone, or something. Chills ran down her spine as Rat squirmed in her pocket as if torn between running away and staying to help her. She ran her hands soothingly along his coat, and edged close enough to her space to get a candle from her stash. The wick lit easily from the coals in the furnace, and its dim light revealed Schreber, relaxing in the comfort of her quarters.
“Good morning,” he whispered to her. There was something resting in his lap, and when she leaned in closer, she saw a half-eaten ermine laying in his lap.
Bile rose in her throat at the sight. She shoved Rat deep into her pocket and sealed the top shut so he could not see what she knew would give him nightmares for days.
“Is it morning?” she said, trying to keep her voice calm. It took all of her courage to bend down as if nothing were out of the ordinary, to reach for the limp little body, and to pick it up by the unchewed portion of its neck. The rich white coat had just a hint of snow on it, as if he had caught and killed it just before coming in.
The snow was so close to her face she could feel the tiny crystals catch in her whiskers. She took the heavy drifts in stride, scampering over places where heavier animals would have sunk right through. Now and then the rich, musky scent of a hare slashed across her path like a siren’s call, but she paid them no mind. her thoughts were on the sticky blood that dotted her most current trail.
This is a dream, she told herself. She could feel, in an odd way, her body still leaning casually against the frame that held the curtains up, the soft, lush fur against her hand. Her tattoo was beginning to tingle. Soon it would burn the vision out of her head.
The sun beat down on the clearing, the heat softening the snow, making the footing treacherous. The scent of the blood was still fresh though, the prey could not be far.
There was a way to snap herself out of the dream, but she couldn’t remember how to do it.
She tried to make herself run a little faster, but her feet were numb from cold, and her side was beginning to hurt. She paused to lick it, and discovered the blood she was chasing, was her own.
She choked back a scream, the burn of candle wax on her fingers saving her from the rest of the terrible dream. She turned away for a minute, letting the hot air blasting from the furnace warm her before climbing to her feet. Funny, she didn’t remember falling, was Rat ok?
June 22, 2009
A couple of days ago I got a note from Rita over at Rita’s World saying that she had written a review for Uninvoked. Since I don’t recall ever visiting her website, I found that something of a surprise. It also made me a little nervous. Scary new people I haven’t met yet are looking at my work.
I can tell you right now from her other reviews she doesn’t hand out the 5 star ratings. One of my favorite books, Blood and Chocolate, rated 4.5 (She is spot on about the flaws of the book though. I don’t actually read the book starting at the beginning anymore. I start at the fight scene where she becomes queen. I also think she fumbled the development of Gabriel. He’s so secondary and unimportant until half way through the book.)
Anyway, here is the review for Uninvoked. ^^
Rat took a lifetime to show up. Bernard never said anything about the business he had sent the boy on, though Amy spent as much time prowling around the inn hoping for a word or two as she did holed up in her room. She might as well have hoped for divinations from a stone. Bernard never moved once the entire time.
She’d just made up her mind to go look for Rat herself when he burst through a hole in the wall and rushed for her. She bent down to collect him, and felt his small body tremble as he climbed into the pocket of her tunic.
She smoothed the pocket over him, soothing him with her fingers until the trembling stopped, and then she turned to Bernard. “Just what sort of business did you send him on?”
He looked down at her pocket, and then away.
If he thought that was going to get him out of answering, he was wrong. She stalked across the room, and turned the chair closest to him so they were facing each other. “What business?”
He shifted under her glare, but it was her tone that finally drove a response from him. “The Duke no longer has any messengers. Rat was needed for deliveries.”
Rat shivered again, and Amy felt an uncomfortable weight sink into her belly. “Who were you sending messages to?”
“The possible spies.”
Shocked fury ripped through her at those words. She leapt to her feet, then eased back when Rat whimpered deep in his throat. “I told you not to drag us into your game. I told you people would be hurt, die. Why didn’t you listen?”
He looked at his shoes, the fire, anywhere but directly at her. “He was protected.”
“With what? A ward spell? What happens when the ward wears off? Do you really think the assassins will forget all about it in a week?”
He met her gaze at last, his expression hardened. “Do you really think I won’t continue to protect him?”
She hated herself for trusting him, even if that trust had been purely brought on by exhaustion. Who did he suspect as a spy? Schreber? One of the bear brothers? The Wolf herself? Had Rat been sent to all of them? She felt rather than heard him whimper, and guessed that he had.
Bernard pressed his lips together in a firm line. “The Stronghold is the only thing standing between us and true justice. What if you could go out and join the Wolf Trap clan just like you were a full-fledged indel? What if Molly could get a job in a noble household instead of taking the few desperate people who make their way to her inn? It could be a different world.”
Amy glanced around the room. It was deserted in the wee hours of the morning, after all, farmers didn’t gamble when they had to sleep. No one would overhear them if she spoke.
“If an indel is taking these messages for you on behalf of an indelfy, I would say it already is a different world,” she said.
He flushed, but didn’t drop his gaze. “What about Molly?”
“Molly is the owner of a very successful business. If that isn’t what she had in mind for her life, that’s just too bad. You could do worse than even being an indelfy. You could be uninvoked.”
His eyes widened in surprise, then hooded as if she’d said something he didn’t expect. When he spoke again, his tone was a plea. “I can protect you. Why won’t you help us?”
“Like you protected the rest of the Duke’s messengers? Thank you, but no. Why are you even staying here? There’s room at the palace. Get out of here. No one is going to help you.” She patted Rat, relieved when he moved to poke his head out of her pocket and glare too, instead of continuing to hide.
Bernard got up and closed the distance between them. She wanted to back away, but forced herself to hold her ground.
“You know something.”
“Stay out of my face,” she snarled.
She expected him to hit her, or worse, kiss her as if passion alone would make her talk. But his mind had, to her horror, gone somewhere else. He tickled her. She squirmed away from his touch, gasping with a mixture of anger and the laughter she couldn’t quite suppress. “Stop that!”
She couldn’t flee, she thought with a growing sense of helplessness. If someone stumbled down from one of the rented rooms and saw her, she’d lose more than just respect.
“Leave us alone. I told you we can’t play that game.”
She backed away from his wicked fingers until she was pressed against the walls, laughing and growling both at the same time. She couldn’t get enough breath to call for Molly. She didn’t want to either.
“Tell me who it is.”
She managed to get hold of his fingers and squeezed them until he could no longer tickle her. “You never did take no for an answer.”
He could have pulled his hands away, but chose to let them rest inside her fingers instead. “Whoever it is you’re protecting has stepped up the pace. I can’t afford to play nice anymore.”
She leaned against the wall, and studied him closely. “Stepped up from killing messengers? How so?”
“Come with me to the castle and see for yourself.”
She felt rather than saw a movement behind him, and adrenaline spiked her system. “I have to go.”
He tightened his hold on her. “Give me something first.”
His words converted her fear to anger in a flash. Amy struck at him, and had the satisfaction of feeling a chip in her nail tear his skin. “Leave us out,” she snarled, and left.
He didn’t even raise a hand to wipe the blood away.
June 21, 2009
If Bernard could not find a way of meeting Rat under more pleasant circumstances soon, he was going to have an awful lot of trouble getting the boy to cooperate. Even now, with Amy’s nominal blessing, Rat looked ready to slip away the minute Bernard’s back was turned. He needed a plan to get Rat on his side, and he needed it soon.
Money seemed like a pretty good solution.
“I don’t suppose Amy pays you much for running errands like this.”
He’d meant it as a sort of lead in to a bribe, but all Rat did was hunch his shoulders a little bit more and glare at him from under filthy bangs. Whatever magic button Rat had to motivate him, it wasn’t the same as Amy. He took a deep breath, and reminding himself that he’d been just as recalcitrant as a boy, tried again.
“Last time we met you all but demanded payment. What’s changed?”
Rat’s lip poked out, and his arms folded into a hard line across his chest. “Nothing.”
He didn’t add anything helpful, like for instance a huge hint for Bernard to pick up on. All he could do was guess based on what he knew of Amy.
“Did Amy tell you something about me? Something bad?”
Rat gave one sullen shake of his head and stared down at his shoes. Guessing was getting him nowhere fast.
“It’d be easier if you just told me.”
“Amy said you were going to make me talk to them.”
It wasn’t too hard for Bernard to guess who “them” was. “The assassins?”
This time he got an assenting nod.
“I was actually thinking of the Wolf Trap, if that’s perfectly alright with you.”
Rat’s head lifted at those words, but his muscles remained so tight they trembled. “Can’t someone come with me?”
It would be a lot easier if someone could, but Bernard could not change himself into a creature capable of entering the Wolf Trap, and indel were few outside the gates. It had to be an indel taking his letters across, and all of his messengers were dead.
“I’ll come with you as far as the gate. I can’t go inside with you, but I can make sure you’re safe.”
He turned away for a moment, just long enough to gather his things and let Rat have his chance to slip away, but instead of leaving, he felt a shy hand slip into his. It made his heart leap in joy, though he said nothing. It was nice to have someone trust him at last.
June 14, 2009
After the powerful images awoken by the snowball, a human face seemed dull and foreign. She stared at him in confusion, and then annoyance. The snowball.
“I’m fine. Let go of me. I told you I didn’t like snow.”
“You said you didn’t like it, you didn’t say you’d go into convulsions at the first touch of it. What happened?”
The dirty cheat had taken advantage of her momentary weakness and pulled her into his lap. Everyone else, to her embarrassment, was watching. She scrambled to her feet, and would have dove into the furnace room had he not held her back with an iron grip. “We need to talk.”
She knew he could feel the wild pounding of her heart. It refused to obey her, to listen to her slow down commands. “No.”
He didn’t listen to her. Instead he pulled her the rest of the way into his lap. She squirmed away from him, trying to free herself quietly, without making a scene. He ran his fingers over her tattoo, and she went still.
“You’re not indelfy,” he said at last, letting go.
Fear coursed through her. Two people now in the same day had figured out a secret she had kept for over a year. She tilted her head until she could look up at him, though mostly all she could see was his jaw. “I’m not indel either, and I don’t like snow. If you keep throwing it at me, I’ll put an ax through your skull.”
He stroked her back, ignoring the mild threat. “You know why I left, don’t you?”
She pulled at the hand still locked around her waist, and found to her disappointment it was immovable. “You left because you were given a way out. I don’t blame you if that’s what you’re thinking. I’d have done the same thing in a heartbeat.”
He shook his head. “I left to make a way out for everyone. I was born an Invoker, but I got a chance to see first hand what it’s like to have no magic. You gave me that. I thought if I made it as an Invoker, I could use my newfound rank to bring equality to everyone. Eberhard can’t be a strong nation until everyone is equal.”
She snorted. “Eberhard doesn’t even need the indelfy. There’s only a few of us left since Lokeli opened up its borders, and Eberhard has gotten along just fine. You’ve wasted your time, if you’ve even tried.”
Bernard gave her a squeeze. “I’ve already made some progress. The Duke’s hiring indelfy now, isn’t he? That’s progress. All we need is a definite way of proving the indelfy are needed as much as the indel, and equality will come.”
She wiggled in his lap, trying to find a way to free herself. “Sure, I believe you. Let me know how that works out for you.”
He let her slide out of his grip, but didn’t move from his place until she was all the way inside her bedroll.
“I need to borrow Rat.”
The business side of her brain was refusing to click on. She could still feel Bernard’s touch on her tattoo, gentle, exploring, magical. It was enough to make her want to stay there, in his lap, forever.
“A rich man like yourself speaking of borrowing?” she asked tiredly.
She didn’t even look to see what the value of the coin he tossed her was. She merely slid it under her bedroll and collapsed into sleep.
June 7, 2009
A few hours later, Amy had recovered enough to start fuming. Typical of Schreber, using threats and bribes when just the bribe would do. Just who did he think he was? No one gave orders to her—well—most of the time. She fingered the gold piece that weighed down her wallet and thought of the grim expression on Schreber’s battle-scarred face.
Threat or bribe, it was clear he was not going to let her slide out of this request. The question remained, what sort of information did he want? Personal background? Not unless it was for blackmail. Current business? That was more logical. How much did she really need to give him anyway?
She crossed her legs, recrossed them, and looked into the fire. There had to be some way of figuring it out. Maybe if she just gave him a hint, and saw how he reacted. If he wanted more, she could always get it, right?
“You look thoughtful. What’s going on in that busy mind of yours?” Bernard asked.
She jumped and flushed a guilty red. Invokers couldn’t read thoughts, could they? She schooled her expression into something appropriately blank, and wagged a finger at him.
“That costs money, so don’t ask,” she said as she got up.
“You don’t have to leave every time I come in the room. Sit with me awhile.” He held out his hand toward her, and gave her his most pleading look.
She sneered at it and withdrew into the safety of her work room. After Schreber’s visit she’d refused clients, information, and fresh air. Did he think a few minutes with him would pull her out of her shell?
“I’m only staying for diamonds or chocolate. I don’t see you carrying either.”
He smiled a little, and reached into his pocket with one hand to reveal a handful of glittering gems. “How about one of these?”
Her eyes widened when she recognized the tiny, uninvoked ward stones. They were valuable she knew, valuable enough that they could not be paid for in copper unless it was in the largest of sums. Silver, she decided. They were worth a lot of silver. They twinkled in the fire light, lustrous and pure with just a hint of blue. Almost as if their many facets had been created to cause a warmth of their own, instead of very real protection.
“How long do I have to stay?” she managed to breathe. If it was for eternity, she’d have to turn it down.
He chuckled, and put the gems away. “Long enough to help me.”
Disappointment flooded through her. She flopped onto her bedroll and pondered the price of the gem. If she said yes, it might help her figure out something to give her lethal associate. Then again, if she helped Bernard she was dead anyway. What good was a gem if she couldn’t enjoy the profits? She’d have to use the ward just to protect herself.
“I don’t think so,” she said, not bothering to hide the strain in her voice. Maybe if he heard it, he would take pity on her and give her one anyway.
He strolled over to the doorjamb and leaned against it, obviously enjoying the stares they were accumulating. “Come on Amy, you never used to be like this.”
She shrunk against the wall, eyeing his snow-covered cloak with disapproval. If the snow touched her, she was going to have another episode. “You never used to swan around in embroidered cloaks and gold rings, but I notice it hasn’t stopped you.”
He pulled back. “Ouch, feisty today aren’t we? I do think you should come dry off by the fire though. That snow can’t be comfortable.”
A wicked grin spread across his face as he whipped out a large ball of snow from under his cloak. Her eyes widened and she began grabbing at her blanket, her pillow, anything she could use as a shield. She wasn’t quite quick enough; just as she turned with her straw stuffed protection Bernard caught her full in the face with his icy weapon.
The smell of the storm exploded under her nose, and wet flakes flew everywhere. She didn’t notice where they fell, nor did she particularly care. There was a freedom in the coldness, a freedom that told of how where everyone else hid, she came forth. Where other animals died, she lived. Where others migrated, she remained. There was something vital about her species, something designed for the snow.
She lowered her head to sniff at a strange set of tracks that wandered away from her into the woods. The pungent, musky odor was easy for her to identify. Even if she hadn’t recognized it as the scent of a fat snowshoe rabbit, the way it made her mouth water would have told her it was something good to eat. Without hesitation, she began to follow.
A shadow fell across her path as she was running, but she paid it no mind. Shadows came and went all the time. She attempted to avoid it only when it bent towards her, looming into a frightening, predatory shape. She bared her teeth as it reached towards her, and screamed her challenge.
“Amy, wake up! Are you alright?”
June 5, 2009
LOOKIE LOOKIE LOOKIE!
The Book Girl reviewed Uninvoked! Not only did she review it, she liked it!!
Could anything be any more thrilling? Hop on over to The Book Girl and go see for yourself. ^^
June 4, 2009
Thanks to a great new job and some time to get things back in order, I can now pay full attention to Uninvoked once more. Some new changes will be made:
Story posts will still be every sunday, however there will be posts mid-week on writing/author updates. This way I can tell you when I update an old chapter, or do something drastic like take out a character. (As suggested by Freedom Star, Rat is getting the axe. He doesn’t have a big enough part it seems…)
Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday!