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Friday, July 23, 2021

Leute, wielder of twisted blood magic in *Sing a Graveyard Song*

 Leute is a thwarted wielder 

who turned to blood magic and twisted it for revenge.



Her decisions and actions create the conflict in Sing a Graveyard Song.

Here is a first glimpse of Leute and the opening scene of the epic dark fantasy.

First Night / Moones / 32nd Night of Deep Winter

 Leute climbed to the caves, praying the cold had delayed the decay of Harroth’s corpse.

Snowmelt slicked the path. Several times she slid backwards and saved her ascent only by clawing at the jagged rocks that bordered the path. She cared nothing for the mud, nothing for the scrapes and cuts on her hands. She cared only for the safety of the items in her scrip. She clutched it to her to prevent its knocking against rocks.

Deep caverns and shadowed crevasses pocked the mountain’s snow-smoothed face. In the caves lay death, ancient and new. Bones stacked upon bones filled the upper caves, disinterred for centuries from Alpage’s hallowed graveyard. The lower caves served the newly dead. When winter froze the church grounds and smothered the vale, the lower caves served as temporary resting places. She climbed to those caves and to a month-old corpse, tucked away for spring burial. In that place of death, she would evoke new life. Using Air and Water, Fire and Earth, she would call the dead Harroth back to life.

Leute gained the first ledges and headed for the cave which held Harroth’s shrouded body. He had died of a hidden infection one month ago. One month of the old calendar. Thirty-two days and thirty-two nights as the full moon waned to its death. Thirty-two days, and each day she induced Grisetta to drink a little tea to aid the delivery of her babe. Thirty-two nights, and each night she milked a newborn lamb of its rich blood. Thirty-two days and nights, while she distilled blood-based potions and practiced incantations to rouse the dead.

Today, with Dragon Moon the night before, Grisetta had delivered her son a month before his time, and Leute had sacrificed the weakening lamb for her spell. When Dragon again devoured the moon, thirty-two nights from now, her revenge would be complete.

Sheltered inside the cave, she lit a single candle. Snowmelt dripped off the lip of the entrance, trickled down the sides of the opening, and pooled on rock smoothed by centuries of passage. The cave smelled faintly of decay. Leute paused and looked down the steep slope. Twilight darkened the village far below. Lanterns bobbed along lanes and streets, like fireflies homing on a scent. In one of the houses with gleaming windows, Feldie and her apprentice Magretha helped Grisetta and her new baby. They wouldn’t look for her until long after her incantations were over, Harroth was re-born, and her revenge had begun.

She lifted her gaze to the snow-locked mountains on the far side of the valley. Alpenglow cast its pinkish taint on the white caps, while night already cloaked the western flanks. More than night would soon cloak Alpage.

The candle and her movement disturbed bats nesting in the cave’s maw. They swirled down. Instinctively she ducked, guarding the candle flame with a cupped hand as the bats swooped past. When the swarm had flooded out of the cave into the cold twilight, she straightened. Holding the flickering candle high, she ventured deeper, tracking the smell of old earth and slow decomposition. At a branching where the flame guttered in a wind, she bore right, toward the source. The walls verged closer. She followed the way into a cleft that funneled wind from the mountaintop. Three shrouded corpses lay one beside the other. Harroth’s would be the newest.

She put the candle in a niche then bent to tug the body away from the others. The waxed cerecloth slid easily across the slick rock. She sliced open the embroidered shroud then peeled back the protecting layers. White white skin, eyes closed, mouth bound shut, it was Harroth and not Harroth, a shell without a soul. The icy wind had kept his flesh from decaying.

Once she had the waxed bindings peeled away, she drug her scrip close and set out the essentials for her spell: her knife, the water distilled from the boiling of five herbs, a copper bowl with a stand, and the flask of lamb’s blood. She lit the candle beneath the stand and lay the knife in the bowl so the metals could heat. Last out of her scrip came the clay pot that contained the most crucial ingredient. She carefully placed it beside Harroth’s head. When she unsealed the lid, the blood-scent filled the cave. Afterbirth from Grisetta’s newborn. Called the second-birth. Blood-rich birth that contained new life.

With everything ready, Leute closed her eyes and breathed deeply to calm her jangling excitement. When her heart rate slowed, she concentrated on the candle flame and sank into meditation. Her voice no louder than her breath, she chanted a gathering spell. Here, surrounded by solid rock that didn’t drain energy from soil and air, she would gather the power needed for the five spells of the incantation. One spell for each element and the last for chaos, the chaos she would unloose on the village of Alpage.

Available Now at this link.




Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Song and its Singer in *Sing a Graveyard Song*

The Song and Its Singer

Meet Magretha, the only wielder of power that Alstera can trust in the village of Alpage, deep in the snow-covered mountains of Sing a Graveyard Song 

The Song to Seal the Dead

Earth, water, air and fire.

Blood, breath, flesh and bones.

Sun and shadow, soil and stone.

 

Earth to sifting dust, of which `twas shaped.

Water of brief life, to the stream belong.

Air to rushing winds, no breath to `scape.

Fire of bright spirit, the flame ever strong.

 

Return to the ether, no more to know strife.

Return to the gods, their gift of thy life.

 

Empty the vessel, out thy life pours.

Cross the great chasm, seal the last door.

Spirit to Neothera, to live nevermore.

 

Earth, water, air and fire.

Blood, breath, flesh and bones.

Sun and shadow, soil and stone.

Meet Magretha in this excerpt from the Prologue.

Wrapped well against the evening’s cold, Magretha watched the first stars peeking out in the moonless
Dragon night. Soon the bowl of sky would glitter with stars, twinkling jewels on a grand lady’s velvet gown, the way she imagined the gown her father had once described. A sight she would never see unless she ventured to the lowlands as he’d once done. No grand stranger would ever come to Alpage, and she had no desire to leave her mountains.

She sighed and massaged her back, aching from the day’s physical toil. Today, last day of Deep Winter, she and Feldie and Leute had fought for the lives of a mother and her too-early babe, fighting to snatch life from grasping death. She was awed anew by the tenuous chain that linked a soul to a fragile body. An apprentice only, this day she had wielded power that a year ago she would not have dreamed of wielding. For the past hour, exhilaration had fueled her. They had won their battle to save both mother and babe. The elation had now ebbed, leaving exhaustion in its wake. Feldie had sapped more than power from her in the battle against death. Magretha massaged the small of her back and wished for a steaming bath to ease her muscles.

“Tired, my almost-daughter?”

The older woman had shed her stained apron, but splotches of birth-blood flecked her sweat-damp blouse. Her tousled hair gleamed silver in the dying light. She came to Magretha and rested an arm around her waist.

“A good omen, this babe of Grisetta’s. Last child of Deep Winter. You did well tonight.”

“I was so afraid I would hurt Grisetta or the baby.”

“Yet you did not. `Tis glad I am that I took you to apprentice. This day’s work was proof of my choice. You did well with as a difficult a birth as you’ll ever encounter. A month early and the babe not turned; the mother exhausted long before the babe crowned. Without your younger power and stronger arms to do the work, I doubt that either would have lived.”

“Leute could have done as well, Feldie. Or Kortie.”

“Leute has not your gentle touch nor your power’s depth. She will never make the wise woman that you will. And Kortie is mewed up with grief for her husband Harroth. Besides, already you surpass both of my erstwhile apprentices. I fear you will soon surpass me.”

“Never, Feldie. You know so much.”

“Not as much as I should, almost-daughter.” She hugged the younger woman. “Come, Grisetta cuddles her new son close, and her family gather to celebrate. `Tis time we were on our way. You have your scrip?”

“Here. And yours.” She hoisted both packs onto her shoulder. “Thereiss said she would have hot soup and cold ale waiting for us when we finished.”

“I look forward to the ale.” Feldie looked back into the house. “Where is Leute?”

“She left quite a while ago. She said the after-birth must be buried within an hour of the babe’s birth.”

“Ah, that old superstition. The monstrous twin born with us all, buried before it saps life from the living.” Her raised eyebrows and creepy voice mocked the belief, a shocking reminder that she was an outlander. Feldie had been Alpage’s wise woman since before Magretha was born, but she had the non-native’s prejudice against certain village beliefs. “Leute is much for the superstitions, but it is as good a reason as any to dispose of the after-birth.” She wrapped her cloak tighter. “Lead on, almost-daughter. I would fill my belly before I sleep.”

Now Available at this Link.


Books 1, 2, and 3 of the Fae Mark'd Wizard by Remi Black

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Twisted Blood Magic creates an Uncontrollable Monster ~ *Sing a Graveyard Song*

Dark Fantasy. Twisted Blood Magic. A Blood-Drinking Monster.

Sing a Graveyard Song

Harroth, recently dead, brought by to renewed life ~ but his renewed existence is foul and corrupted, all to work the will of a vengeful and thwarted wielder.

Here's an Excerpt from Chapter 1.

Dawn, Second Day

When he awoke, he knew he was dead.

He had dreamed a pleasant warmth, a light as brilliant as a summer sun, a free-ness of self, unhampered by bones and flesh, free as the wind, drifting like a leaf on water.

He woke to cold, dampness, and a light flickering against the pitmirk. His skin felt slick as a new-born babe’s. A rasping breath filled his ears. A woman, face haggard and hair wild, loomed over him.

She smiled when she saw his eyes open. She spoke, garbled words he didn’t understand, but when she pressed something to his lips, he recognized the offer to eat.

He opened his mouth. She pushed it past his teeth. He chewed. It was soft and slick. Liquid gushed from it into his mouth. He swallowed and felt the bite track its way to his stomach. More meat was offered. He took it, chewed, feeling strength return with the nourishment. He said nothing, asked nothing, not even how she had revived him. The last moments of his life had dragged him through pain and fever, unending heat as poison writhed through him and slowly killed him. That he remembered. He thought he knew her, but he couldn’t recall her name. He couldn’t remember how to form words. He could remember nothing but breathing and moving and ceaseless pain.

But he remembered his name. Harroth. That was who he was. What he was he no longer knew. Where he was he didn’t care.

She put her hands on both sides of his head. Her eyes closed, and she sang something. The wailing melody sucked his senses into a maelstrom of need and grief. Her hands felt like fire. The heat penetrated his skull, seeped into his veins, hardened his bones.

After more food, she levered him up and propped him against the wall. His eyes rolled back at the change of position, but gradually his awakened body steadied and he could look around without being swamped by dizziness. He saw a single candle, a shiny bowl made of a metal he had forgotten, a bottle on its side.

She lifted a flask to his lips. A thick liquid filled his mouth, tasting strange, tasting rich, tasting like life. He swallowed.

Twice more he drank. She offered more meat.

Harroth stared at the raw flesh, dripping with what he remembered was blood. He opened his mouth and ate.

Intrigued? Use this link.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Alstera, the Fae Mark'd Wizard, Deliberately Seeks Trouble in *Sing a Graveyard Song*

 Why would anyone deliberately seek trouble?

Alstera does, for she still contends with her punishment by the Wizard Enclave.


Sing a Graveyard Song, book 3 of Fae Mark'd Wizardfollows her machinations to rid herself of her penance.

Here's a first glimpse from Sing a Graveyard Song.

from the Prologue:

Alstera dreamed of water, a night swirling with water. Motes, elusive as a will o’wisp, danced above the waves, their sparks gleaming on the liquid darkness. Waves washed over and into each other, building and ebbing, surging and dissipating, a ceaseless rhythm. Like a mote, her dream self floated above the waters, but she was dark, the waters below her darker on this moon-dark night, lit only by the sparkling lights.

The swirling lake washed in and out, in and out, but as she drifted above the waves, she realized a steady flow drew her with it. The current rushed and swirled, billowed and sucked, thundering with power as it gathered speed. The waters flooded over a cliff, taking her with them. Spray splashed up to soak her. The cascade plunged down and down and down, deep as an abyss. Then the waters struck bottom and exploded up to capture her. Sucked under the dark liquid, she tumbled over and over. Her senses drowning, the blood in her veins surged with the waters’ power. Her blood, her breath, her flesh, her bones, everything sucked into the elemental energy, and in this dream only her magic held self and soul together.

She plunged down another cliff. Inchoate creatures bowled in the waters with her. As powerless as she, they whorled, tossed and rolled, tumbled and twisted, shaping and losing shape, reaching and retreating, stretching and spiraling. Boulders loomed and receded as the waters rushed her along. Teeming energy gathered like a great wave, seeking an outlet.

Then the waters cascaded out of the mountains and surged into the lowlands. They broke the riverbanks and flooded outward. The wild power lost force, its thunder muted, its puissance seeped into the sleeping soil.

A dying wave cast the dreaming Alstera against an ancient oak. Its ridged bark offered a clinging hold as another wave washed over her. As it receded, the wave’s suction threatened to tow her back into the flood. Leafy branches dipped, became arms that held her against the trunk. She blinked. The bark she clung to reshaped into a face. An elemental with angled eyes and brows. He smiled, his eyes sparkling like the motes. Then the water seeped away. The bark re-arranged itself. When she blinked again, the oak was just an oak.

Still clutching the tree, she sat up and looked about. Hills rolled behind the great oak, lapping one behind the other, land waves that had stopped the flood’s force. Writhing runnelets snaked back to the flood. As the dark waters receded, the land glistened like polished silver, bright as a full moon on this moon-dead night. Motes exploded out of the water. They danced above the flood, circling and whirling together, the gold of their light glimmering on the waves.

Gasping for air, Alstera sagged against her rescuing tree. Waters lapped near her feet, and a waft of air rustled the winter-dried leaves above her head. A great wave surged out of the ebbing flood. The formless mass burst toward her. Between one breath and the next, it roared over her. The wave forced water into every orifice and penetrated her pores. Then it receded. Her dream-self gasped for life-giving air as the tree dribbled old leaves on her and the waters trickled away from her swamped body. When she looked down, she saw that the waters had stained her bloody.

She snapped awake. Her heartbeat drummed. The night looked black and flame-colored, like her dream-body. For several throbbing seconds, she couldn’t figure out where she was, who she was, what she was. Then her senses righted. She saw a man crouched beside a small fire. He dipped a stick against a charred log until fire licked over it then beat the flame out against a rock.

As she sat up, Raul turned and flashed his facile grin. “Not like you to wake before your watch, Alstera.”

“Bad dream,” she husked. She got to her feet, stumbling over the trailing end of her cloak. He rose lithely and steadied her.

“Looks like a real bad dream. Your eyes—.”

She looked down, willing the nightmare away. “Go to sleep, Raul. I have the watch.”

He peered at her, but she wouldn’t meet his gaze. In the months they had traveled together, he had learned not to question what she refused to share. All he said was “I won’t refuse that offer.” He wrapped his coat tightly then rolled into the blankets she had cast aside.

Alstera knelt beside the fire, knowing Raul would soon be snoring gently. Like a cat, nothing interfered with his sleep. She waited, trying to calm her jangling senses. The dream of overwhelming power troubled her. Not since Vaermonde had she sensed sorcery. The elemental that morphed out of the tree to save her from the flood only deepened her foreboding.

Why had an earth elemental blessed her dream? Elementals linked with wielders like Raul, Rhoghieri that shaped the elements, or like the Fae. Creatures of pure energy, the elementals did link with wizards. She was exiled and power-shackled, least among any ranking of wizards. If the dream were a message from her grandmother, the elemental would be water or air. So it was presage, and either she dreamed everything, or a wild one had sensed the chaotic sorcery pouring loose and had reached into her dream.

Alstera waited for Raul’s sleep to deepen before she evoked power. The tattooed bindings of the Wizard Enclave, shackling her wrists, prevented free use of four strands of her magic. Only water came freely. As she drew power to read the night’s loosed energy, the bindings heated. When she drew power too deeply, too fast for the trickle that seeped through the Enclave’s remaining four chains, the magicked tattoos seared with real fire. She had to learn to ignore the heat.

The sorcery was elusive, a threat that remained distant. The dream was as sticky with sorcery as Medreaux’s sleep-snare, the spell that had nearly killed Cherai, the comtesse Muiree. Yet her minor spell revealed nothing.

Needing information, she fetched the hand-sized book from her pouch. The cleric sorcerer had filled the journal with spells and drawings. Alstera felt a duty to read it before she destroyed it, but just touching the leather cover left a slimy taint on her hands. Hunkered beside the fire, she palmed the journal and evoked the magic she had carefully hoarded for days. The magic searched for any connection of old evil to new, hoping the cleric had recorded something. Then she flattened her hands. The book fell open. Quickly she skimmed glimmering fingertips down the page.

Medreaux had written of Cherai’s dead father, of his countless visits to the tomb to test diverse spells. In his quest to re-animate the corpse, he had discovered fragments of an incantation and its necessary potions. He failed, he wrote, because too much time had passed, because he had no access to the life born with a babe, but he noted the animal’s blood and new-killed flesh needed to strengthen the awakened corpse.

True evil, scribbled and crossed out then re-written, as if he had tried and given up then tried again, only to abandon that plan for the sleep-snare that had nearly killed Comtesse Cherai. Tonight’s nightmare reeked of a similar evil.

She set aside the journal, leaving it open to the page, and lifted her tattooed wrists to the light. The remaining bindings gleamed like shackles. Last autumn she had freed herself from the first binding. Now, after a long winter, came a second chance to pay penance for her crimes against wizardry’s five tenets. What should she do?

First choice was nothing. She was selfish enough to admit that. Fighting Medreaux had scared her. He worked a killing evil that could have destroyed her. Unable to protect herself with her bound power, she would have died, Cherai would have died, if Alstera hadn’t had the twin elements of surprise and desperation. She surprised Medreaux by countering his untutored sorcery with the forbidden blood magic. Only with that primitive power, forbidden by the Wizard Enclave, had she slipped her magic free of the bindings. In using blood magic, however, she committed a new crime that might shackle her forever.

So, first choice was to do nothing.

Her second choice was to seek out this sorcerer, foul his plans, and earn herself a second penance. The second choice would be as dangerous as helping Cherai. And it would free more of her magic. Did I think casting off these bindings would be easy?

Mordant humor twisted her mouth. She had to risk her life to win back her life. She had broken the five tenets of wizardry. She had to atone for each one of those. Stopping a sorcerer’s evil paid her first penance and released one binding sigil. Now, spilling out of the mountains, came her second opportunity.

She had no choice. A wizard dogged her trail, too far back to scent clearly but never shaken, like the dirt ground into the velvet of her once-fine gown. Whoever tracked her for Grandmère Letheina might accuse her of this evil.

To the mountains she had to go. Picking up Raul’s stick, she drew a rough map of the land—the Bowl of Selindrac which they had left behind at winter’s birth, the flat plains and rivers they had crossed for weeks, the still snowy mountains that loomed south and east, and the westward forests. She tore the damning page from Medreaux’s slowly dwindling journal, spindled it around the stick, and lit it with an arc of power. With that magicked flame, she traced over the map. The charred paper dropped south, making little humps of mountains over her tracings.

No, she thought, although her dream had prophesied mountains. Farther and farther from home. To double-check, she touched the tip of the stick to the dirt. It scored a path south. She dropped it. Like a sword it pointed the new direction.

South, into the mountains. And for Raul, she must devise a convincing reason to turn off their current direction and pursue this one. A reason that made no mention of the evil she aimed them toward.

Available Now at this Link.



Sunday, July 11, 2021

*Sing a Graveyard Song* ~ # 3 in the Fae Mark'd Wizard

 What is Sing a Graveyard Song?

Besides an epic dark fantasy, it's the 3rd novel in the Fae Mark'd Wizard series.

The icy mountains hold danger and death but not in the way that the Fae Mark’d wizard Alstera expects in Sing a Graveyard Song.

 Suspicious villagers, justice-seeking pursuers, and foul sorcery are nothing compared to a blood-drinking monster.

With her powers still shackled for crimes against wizardry, Alstera reaches a snow-smothered village being attacked by a death walker. The re-animated corpse drinks blood to exist.

To fight the death-walker, Alstera must rely on the primitive and forbidden blood-magic.

How many lives will the death walker take before Alstera finds the way to destroy it?

Will wielding blood-magic against a blood-spelled creature force Alstera to cross the tenuous barrier that separates wizardry from foul sorcery?

The dark fantasy Sing a Graveyard Song continues the grim story of twisted magic and foul sorcery and Alstera, walking the silvery thread that separates them. Third in the Fae Mark’d Wizard series, Grave follows Weave a Wizardry Web and Dream a Deadly Dream. Although each novel is a complete story, readers will have a richer experience if they read all three in order.

Available Now at this Link.


In August :: Tangled Spells, all three novels that begin the Fae Mark'd Wizard


Leute, wielder of twisted blood magic in *Sing a Graveyard Song*

 Leute is a thwarted wielder  who turned to blood magic and twisted it for revenge. Her decisions and actions create the conflict in Sing a ...