An Excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

With a little over two weeks left before release, we thought you might all like a peek at an excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding.  In the next couple of weeks we will be taking a closer look at many of the characters from Faerie Rising as well as releasing a few new flash fictions.  We hope you enjoy the excerpt!

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An Excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

The world shifted sideways. Winter braced herself against the wall with her one good hand, the chalk grinding against the concrete as she fought the initial wave of disorientation. Something was horribly wrong. Within the rift, power was building up, as if someone had just crimped a running hose.

And she was holding the nozzle.

Nine glyphs in the warding, each unique, complex, and time consuming. Each must be drawn with precision, or the whole seal would fail. Winter had never drawn glyphs so fast in her life, her hand frantically scraping the chalk against the wall in her desperate race against… against what? It felt like a tidal wave, rushing implacably toward her. Somehow, something was affecting the balance of power.

She spoke each glyph as she drew it, magic resonating in her voice with each syllable. Six glyphs to go. Its name spoken, the glyph would take on a glow, casting the hole in sharp relief, bringing out each line of exhaustion on Winter’s face.

Highlighting the growing cracks in the cement around the rift.

After the seal went up, the cement became irrelevant. It could be ground to dust, and the seal would hold. Before then, however… the seal needed a matrix, something solid to hold the lines she drew with the enspelled chalk. Before then, the seal was all too fragile.

When the surge hit, it would blow the rift wide open. There would be precious little left of Winter and probably the surrounding square acre or so.

Five glyphs.

She wasn’t going to make it. Winter’s shoulders were burning, her hand beginning to cramp and shake, her hurt wrist felt like it was on fire. The glow of the warding began to fade as her magic was drained by pain and panic and exhaustion. She needed more power. She did not have time to ground and pull power from the earth… leaving only one choice. “Karen!”

There is power to control in a name. She spoke the name with resonant Command, and suddenly the cougar was there, terrified eyes wide on the wizard beside her. Ruthlessly, she pushed aside the older woman’s flimsy natural protections and pulled what power there was into herself. It was wild, and tasted of dark places, pain-filled joy, and kittens warm in the den. This was not a wizard’s gift she used, but came of her mixed blood. The spell flared back to life, and Winter redoubled her efforts.

Four glyphs.

The hole began collapsing inward, little chunks of cement falling into the flame-wreathed darkness.

Three glyphs.

The chunks were getting larger, the cracks creeping closer to her fragile chalk lines.

Two glyphs.

The surge was now audible, a tsunami rushing toward them.

One glyph.

The ground beneath her knees was quivering with the building pressure.

The warding blazed just as the tidal wave of magic rammed it from the other side, the whole ravine shuddering from the impact, then the lettering settled into the cement, leaving the two women alone in the quiet night.


Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding will be available in e-book and paperback April 1, 2017.  Grab your pre-order at http://getBook.at/FaerieRising .

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Cover Reveal for Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

We are very excited to reveal the cover for Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding at long last!  The wonderful design team at Deranged Doctor Design blew us away with this cover.  We hope that you all enjoy it as much as we do.  Faerie Rising (in e-book format) is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will release on April 1, 2017.  The paperback will be available soon.

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Guest Blog- Cover Reveal for Flash Point By C. L. Schneider

We are always looking for great new books in the urban fantasy genre, and we are excited to have a guest blogger today who is releasing the first book in her new urban fantasy series, Nite Fire: Flash Point, soon.  We are thrilled to welcome C. L. Schneider!

 

Cover Reveal

I’m excited to share with you the cover for my upcoming release! After completing the Crown of Stones Trilogy last year, I wanted to do something different. And this series is it! Flash Point is the 1st book in The Nite Fire Series, a fast-paced, entertaining urban fantasy full of action and mystery. Nite Fire centers on the character of Dahlia Nite, a shapeshifting creature-hunter from a parallel world—ruled by dragons.

 

Cover of Nite Fire: Flash Point by C. L. Schneider

Nite Fire: Flash Point

Slated for execution, shapeshifting assassin, Dahlia Nite, flees her world to hide in the human realm. As payment for the shelter they unknowingly provide, Dahlia dedicates herself to protecting humans from what truly lives in the shadows. Moving from town to town, she hunts the creatures that threaten an unsuspecting human race; burying the truth that could destroy them all.

But the shadows are shifting. The lies are adding up. And when Sentinel City is threatened by a series of bizarre brutal murders, light is shed on what should never be seen. The secrets that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries are in danger of being exposed.

Wrestling with a lifetime of her own deceptions, Dahlia investigates the killings while simultaneously working to conceal their circumstances. But with each new murder, the little bit of peace she has found in this world begins to crumble. Each new clue leads her to the one place she thought to never go again. Home.

 

EXCERPT

His roar blew the hair back from my face. His oddly pliable jaw opened with a wet crack of cartilage. Dropping, extending past throat, then chest, the square edge of his jaw came to rest even with the center of his abdomen. Outlined by fleshy lips, the dark maw within held an inner ring of uneven teeth, all stained with a deep red grime. Pushing out from their center, the del-yun’s gray tongue ejected like a whip. A heavy discharge of green followed. Hitting the floor in front of me with a moist splat, the glop of saliva gurgled and smoked as it devoured the concrete. A smaller rivulet of smoke curled up from the front of my left boot, where tiny beads of the creature’s spit were eating through the laces.

“Come on,” I groaned, “not the boots…” Bending, I slid my knife in behind the black crisscross. In the corner of my eye, I saw his tongue emerging again.

I broke the lace with a quick yank.

Flinging off the still-bubbling piece as I straightened, I flung the knife next. My throw was directed at his tongue, hoping to sever the bit wagging down over his teeth. But at the last second, he moved. My weapon sailed past his tongue, in through his wide mouth, and impaled his left cheek. The tip of the blade pushed out with a spill of yellowish blood and sliced tissue.

I raised a finger. Fire trickled from my nail. It slid off the side of my hand and onto the floor. Watching its journey, the del-yun knew: one little touch was all it would take. His blood would catch like kindling, and my fire would follow it down inside him like a flame on a fuse.

 

*Flash Point will release in paperback the last week of February with a pre-order for the ebook to follow.

 

BIO

Schneider is a New York-based author of adult epic and urban fantasy. Born in a small Kansas town, she grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on a typewriter in her parent’s living room. Schneider’s epic trilogy,The Crown of Stones, tells the story of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic.Nite Fire: Flash Point is the first book in a fast-paced urban fantasy series with shapeshifters, dragons, and parallel worlds.

Learn more about C.L. Schneider and her work at clschneiderauthor.com where you can read reviews, excerpts and sneak peeks, and subscribe to her newsletter. An active part of the indie author online community, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+, where she is often found chatting about books, zombies, coffee, and the daily ups and downs of writing.

C. L. Schneider

Links

Website http://www.clschneiderauthor.com/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/cl_schneider

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/CLS.Author

Google# https://www.google.com/+CLSchneider

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCLSchneider

Universal Link to Crown of Stones Trilogy  http://mybook.to/COSTrilogy

Amazon Author Page http://author.to/CLSchneiderAmazonPg

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Sleight of Hand – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

Winter Mulcahy thought the girl by the necklace rack was maybe eleven, probably twelve. She had a bruise peeking out just beneath the collar of her oversized coat, fingermarks if Winter was any judge, and she was an excellent judge of abuse. The girl was heavy in that way that said weight would follow her throughout her life, but she moved easily through the store, caramel eyes flickering constantly towards Winter from behind too-large glasses.

The girl was stealing.

That wasn’t unusual, though. Homeless kids often stole from the stores in the Historical District, trying to fill empty pockets and empty bellies. No, what was remarkable were two things: first, that the girl had found Winter’s store, Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe, at all. It meant she had a spark of magic in her that allowed her to see the store past the misdirection wards covering the front, keeping human eyes away.

More remarkable were her hands. Even though Winter knew she was stealing, she never saw the girl’s hands venture near her capacious coat pockets. She would touch an item and a moment later it would be gone. Winter could feel the flash of raw magic as a jade pendant vanished – childish, untrained, potent. The girl didn’t have just a spark of magic. She had a flame.

She was a wizard, like Winter.

But, little wizard or not, the girl could not be allowed to steal. Winter waited until the last customer left before she took her sturdy broom in hand and stepped around the display, right into the girl’s path. At nearly six feet she towered over the child, and dropped her head slightly to appear less intimidating. “Put them back.” Her voice was low and even, devoid of anger.

The girl’s eyes widened and her freckled cheeks flushed, but to her credit she stood her ground. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Winter drew her focus object on its chain from under the collar of her dress. The ring was a simple one, a slender golden band with an oval opal stone set between two small diamonds. When she moved the ring, the light played across intricate engravings on the inside of the band. The ring had belonged to one of the most important people in Winter’s life, and now it answered to her. Wizards needed focus objects to give structure to their magic and perform more complex spells. That the girl was able to cast spells without one said that not only was she strong, she was probably close to draining the power in her body. She must be protected before she hurt herself.

Winter held the ring between her fingers and her voice became resonant with magical Command. “Empty.” Objects came flying out, more than she had anticipated, and landed on the floor. Hand cream, lip balms, jewelry, anything that the store carried that could be palmed had made it into those coat pockets, as well as some spare change, half of a wrapped sandwich, and a crumpled bus pass.

The girl stared at the pile on the floor for a moment, mouth working, before gasping out, “How?”

“The same way you put them in your pockets, only I’ve had training.”

She looked up at Winter, brown eyes wide. “You’re… like me?”

“I am.”

The girl looked both fascinated and frightened… and then the frightened took over and she whispered, “Please don’t call the cops on me.”

Winter tucked the ring back into her dress and held out the broom to the girl. “Let’s make a deal. I have work here that needs to be done, and I’m busy with other things. If you help me for a few hours, I won’t call the police.”

The girl took the broom, some of the light returning to her eyes. “Can you show me how to do stuff? Like our stuff?”

Winter crouched and began cleaning the items up off the floor. “Sweeping first. Magic later.”

“Magic? Is it really magic?” The girl’s voice squeaked with excitement.

Winter smiled and handed the girl back her things. “Yes, it really is. And my name is Winter. My family owns this shop.”

“I’m Jessie.” The little wizard looked around. “So if I sweep… and then dust… and maybe put some stuff away, then you’ll teach me?”

Winter smiled. “That sounds fair. And remember to sweep in the corners,” she called after Jessie as the girl ran off to begin her chores.

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Seashells – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

The boy was crying under a picnic table, but Winter didn’t know why. He was a lot older than her, six, maybe even seven. She crawled beneath and sat down next to him, not caring that her red and white sundress would get mussed. She’d lost her sandals somewhere but she’d managed to hold on to her red hat. Grandma Bridget said it was important so she didn’t burn in the summer sun.

The boy looked up at her, his expression wary, and wiped his face on his coat sleeve. It was peculiar, wearing a suit jacket to a family picnic. But this boy was a guest and Winter smiled at him, wanting to make him feel better.

The boy did not smile back.

Okay, she had to try harder. She reached out and took his hand, and his black brows rose at her touch.  Her smile widened and she gently pulled him out from under the table and away from the party. They walked in silence through the gardens, pixies flying from flower to flower overhead, until they came out the other side through the garden gates and their feet sunk into the sand of the beach. The black-haired boy looked around, his dark blue eyes devouring the sight of sand and sky and water. So much water.  This was the ‘Cific Ocean, and it was beautiful.

Winter led the boy to the other side of the big dune where it was cool and quiet and where the water brought the scent of salt and fish to pool at their feet. She sat down and took off his shoes and socks, smiling, because she knew it hurt to have sand in her shoes, and shook the sand she found in his out of them, setting them beside him. The boy watched her as if trying to figure her out, and she simply continued to smile.

Winter saw a seashell half-buried next to the boy’s shoes and picked it up, brushing off the sand.  It was a clam shell the size of her hand, pretty and pearly on the inside. She handed it to the boy whose brows rose again, but this time a tiny smile played at the corners of his mouth. Winter bounced up to her feet with a grin. So he liked shells? She could find shells better than anyone!

“Where are you off to?” the boy asked, but she was already back with a spirally shell with a broken tip to offer him. And then she moved a little further away, looking for more shells.

The afternoon passed and the shell pile grew and the boy’s smile widened. Winter brought him squishy seaweed and dune grasses and succulent ice plant flowers and he collected them all, touching and smelling each offering with fascination.

Over the top of the dune appeared Winter’s Uncle Adrien, her Aunt Gwen’s new husband, with a camera in hand. He snapped a picture and smiled down at them in his sad, gentle way. “There you are. Your father is looking for you. It’s time to go.”

The boy looked disappointed but he quickly put his shoes and socks back on and stood, slipping his jacket on and buttoning it, pocketing a shell as he did so. “Ta.” He inclined his head to her and turned to follow Uncle Adrien back to the house.

Winter smiled and waved at him as he walked away, sorry to see her new friend go but determined to show him a happy face as he left.

(Interested in finding out more about Seahaven and The Books of Binding?  Please subscribe at the bottom of any page of our website: www.aelowan.com.)

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Decisions Are Made By Those Who Show Up

Harry S. Truman Quote

“This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come.” – Harry S. Truman

Tomorrow is Election Day.  It is finally here.  After months of primaries, debates, and impassioned rhetoric, tomorrow is the day when America pauses at the crossroads and decides which path to follow.  We won’t try to sway you for one candidate or another today – the country has spoken of little else for quite some time now.  Many of you voted early, more of you than in any election in history, but we will give one last plea for those of you who haven’t to cast your ballot tomorrow.

Aaron Sorkin Quote

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” – Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing

In our political process, this constitutional federal republic, ultimate power lies with the people and their ability to elect local, state, and federal representatives and task them with leading our country.  This is the most important duty of every American.  This Great Experiment only works when the people make their voices heard and choose the men and women they feel will safely shape our future.  Those who choose not to vote, whether because they don’t feel their voice is important or they choose to abstain in protest over a choice they would prefer was not before them, forfeit their say in that future.  The time for complaints and concerns is not once those who showed up have made the decision.  The time is tomorrow.

Abraham Lincoln Quote

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the people and burn their behinds, then they will have to sit on their blisters.” – Abraham Lincoln

The United States is a big place and we have room for many different viewpoints.  We are a country filled with passionate people and reasoned debate is healthy for us.  It helps us shape who we are and who we want to be.  No matter what your personal political philosophy, in this country, you have the right to put your vision of our future forward and have it discussed and considered.  The election of 2016 is a pivotal election.  This year, we have discovered that the country is balanced on a tipping point.  Whichever side of the scale you favor, tomorrow is the day to throw your weight behind whatever future you believe in.  After tomorrow, the die will be cast and you won’t have another opportunity to lend your voice to this decision.  Every election is important, but some come at more crucial points in history than others.  2016 is one of those years.  Tomorrow the country will decide who we want to be.  Make sure that you show up to be part of that decision.

George L Bell Quote

“You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up.” – George L. Bell, Civic Leader

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Welcome to the Grand Reopening

Welcome to the new and improved A. E. Lowan. We have been on hiatus, rebuilding and reinventing. Please come in, excuse our renovation mess, and get to know the new team.

Kristin Vinck, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Kristin Vinck

Raised as a Navy brat, Kristin Vinck began writing as a child on the West Coast, learning her love of words at her mother’s knee. Her first story, composed at five-years-old, was an instant classic in her house. “Ghostie-Ghost” was a harrowing tale of the adventures of, well, a ghost, and her friends. Kristin won her first writing award for urban fantasy in Seattle at eight-years-old for a story about a city on a boat, pulled by dinosaurs. In her teens, Kristin moved from learning at home from her satirist mother to formal writing education at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. After careening from career to career, or as she finds it more comforting to call it, sampling the human experience widely, she settled into the life of a full-time writer in the Missouri Ozarks where she is assisted by three narcoleptic dogs and three enthusiastically obnoxious cats.

Jennifer Vinck, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Jennifer Vinck

Raised among musicians in Kansas City, Missouri, Jennifer Vinck came to writing from another direction – poetry and song. She won her first writing award in the second grade, for a poem ironically also about a ghost. Poetry was her primary creative endeavor throughout childhood and when Jennifer was twelve-years-old she was asked to write the lyrics for a song used for All Species Day (a precursor of Earth Day) in Kansas City. She auditioned for the creative writing department at the Kansas City Middle School of the Arts and there discovered a new passion, speculative fiction. Jennifer met Kristin Vinck on the first day of school at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and they were instantly inseparable. They began creating epic and urban fantasy worlds within minutes of meeting and have been collaborating in fiction and in life ever since.

Jessica Smith, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith found her passion for fantastical storytelling where so many young writers do – through the masterpieces of fantasy’s renowned matriarchs. As the pile of worlds inhabited by dragonriders, wizards, and fair folk caused her bookshelves to plea for mercy, the constellation of worlds inside her waiting for their story to be told grew and grew. With enough ideas to fill the state of Texas where she was raised, Jessica first took pencil to paper before she hit double digits with a story about reincarnation and memory. Jessica’s love of how the universe functions and the intricacies of the human mind led the way into deep scientific study, and from there into the field of medicine. It was her passion for writing that took her to the internet in search of fellow creators, of people who kept whole worlds in their minds. Jessica has been a staple of many online writing communities over the years, but it was on a fantasy-specific site, Mythic Scribes, where Jessica met Kristin and Jennifer. Her worlds and theirs collided as a whirlwind of collaboration began. Jessica writes with the assistance of a furry, opinionated office minion by the name of Sugar-Bear.

Together we comprise A. E. Lowan, the author of the dark urban fantasy series, The Books of Binding. We’re proud to announce that Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding will be released in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, we will be introducing you to some of the characters from our world here and at our website, aelowan.com. Please follow us there to our new blog where we will be posting pieces of original fiction. Ranging from snapshot vignettes to longer glances through the curtain, we will be showing you early glimpses into the lives of our cast.

Thank you for sticking by us during our renovation. The paint is still fresh, the carpet just went in yesterday, and some of the fixtures are still on back order, but the doors are officially opening this spring. We hope that you all enjoy these sneak peeks into the world we have built. We are excited to begin this journey with all of you.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

After a long absence, we’re back!  Now, without further ado, here’s a snippet from Faerie Rising

Guitar music filtered through the foot traffic, and Etienne looked around, finally finding a young man with an instrument that saw more love and attention than his clothing, sitting on the sidewalk between two storefront windows.  His head was lowered over his guitar, eyes closed and long brown curls hiding much of his face as he gave himself over to his music.  Etienne tapped Kian on the elbow to keep him from wandering on ahead without him and made his way toward the street musician, feeling the music pulling at him like a gentle hand.  It was beautiful, even more beautiful than the music played in his mother’s court.  The boy was better than Kian, who Etienne loved to listen to play.
His music reminded him – Etienne stopped short, eyes wide – reminded him of his father.  Chretien de Aquitaine had been a magnificent musician.  His music and his beauty had drawn Etienne’s mother’s attention, much to the troubadour’s misfortune.
The street musician’s hands stilled on his strings, stroked the wood of the guitar, and finally looked up at Etienne through his long curls.  A small smile brushed over his lips.
Etienne was frozen, still struck by his memories.  “Who…?”
The young man shook his head.  “The question you need to ask is ‘Where?’”
Etienne’s brows drew in.
The street musician stretched his thin arm and pointed down the block, deeper into the Historical District.  “What you want is that way.  Across the street and next door to the cupcake place.  Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe.”
Etienne craned his neck to look down the sidewalk, and then snapped back to look down at the boy.  “Did you say ‘Curiosity’s’?”  Arthur’s wife had been named Curiosity!  He remembered!
The boy’s gentle smile widened, and he nodded once.  “Now you understand me.”
Etienne dug into his jeans pocket and dropped the last of his change into the boy’s guitar case.  He turned, eager to pursue this new lead, and then turned back to thank him.  But what came out of his mouth was, “Who are you?”
The boy swung his long hair back behind his shoulder, revealing more of his face.  Pretty, but well within human normal.  “I’m just Stephen.  Welcome to Seahaven.”
Etienne looked more closely at Stephen, and he was indeed as he appeared.  Simply human.  Clearing his throat to cover his confusion he said, “Well, thank you, Stephen.”
The boy smiled and inclined his head with grace.  “Anytime.”  He then set to playing again.

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The Opening Lines of Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Our friend over at https://writingouttakes.wordpress.com/ showed up their fantastic first lines today, and after totally geeking out about them we thought that looked like a lot of fun.  So we have the first few (current) paragraphs of Faerie Rising.

The little bell above the shop door preceded the desperate cry of, “Winter, we need you!”  The urgency in her friend’s voice tore the wizard’s attention from her task.  She dropped the open box of sterile surgical instruments on the long counter and rushed across the back room clinic, passing the city map of Seahaven that took up one entire wall.  On the map were neat red dots and a note for every violent incident this year.  It was the end of October and the map was so covered in red that it looked like it was inflicted with a virulent rash.  Winter pushed her way through the thickly beaded curtain into the still-darkened storefront.

It was hours before the rest of the shops in the Historical District would open, the sun was just trembling on the mountain’s lips and the deep shadows cast by the century-old buildings left the streetlights still lit.  Through the doorway walked Giovanni and Katherine, though “walk” might have been too casual a description.  He leaned heavily on her smaller frame, but she bore his weight easily with her right arm about his slender waist, holding both his and her jackets in place against his back.  Katherine kicked the door closed behind her and showed Winter her face, pale beneath the thick spray of blood that glittered on her skin and hair.

Winter swallowed down the rising bile of panic as the meat smell of heavy bleeding reached her.  In her experience, that was the smell of a loved one’s violent death.

She had seen a great deal of death.

“What happened?” she asked even as she quelled her trembling belly with a wash of icy professionalism and shoved a half-empty box aside with her foot to make a clear path.  The shop was a disaster, thick with dust, boxes everywhere and the shelves half empty.  And there was precious little she could do about it anytime soon.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Scrambling, Winter gave up a few more feet to the goblin’s slashing claws and used the precious seconds she bought to rummage frantically in her massive canvas bag, murmuring the charm to bring a small parchment envelope to her hand while watching carefully for its next move.  She should have had it out before.  She knew that, now.

She had started with a rake to defend herself, but then found out how well the nasty little thing could climb, as the continuous throbbing on the back of her right hand attested to.  She had never actually been trained for this, unlike her cousins and two older sisters.  She was supposed to be a teacher, a healer and a Potion Master.  She should be home, tucked away in her family’s kitchen teaching a handful of little cousins to brew simple decoctions, not doing battle with a pseudo-demon the size of a throw pillow in Karen’s backyard.

And losing.

“Blast!”  It darted to one side, trying to get past Winter and out into the night.  She had to keep it boxed in, just for a few more moments.  If it got loose into the neighborhood, she would be days finding it again, and by then it might have graduated to attacking children.  Only luck, a couple hours of stressful patience and a trail of about two pounds of fresh chopped beef had gotten it into the shed.  She kicked out, taking it in what passed for a midsection, and it bounced against the back of the shed like a large hairy soccer ball.  Tools popped from their perches, and a pot was knocked off its shelf, all raining down on the neatly swept concrete floor.  A burning sensation flared up her right calf, and Winter knew the little monster had scored, too.

Keeping her eyes fixed on the ugly little hair ball, Winter tore the top off the envelope.  The goblin crouched just out of reach, panting in a wheezy sort of way, slime dripping from its broken bottle teeth, all its eyes glittering back and forth desperately searching for a way past her.  Fear seemed to roll off it like a dark fog.  Wherever it came from, it probably had no idea where it was now.  It may have even seen what happened to its little friend.  Winter knew how it felt, trapped and desperate to find a way out, bloody images of her loved ones tearing at her memories.  For just a moment, she felt sorry for the evil little thing.  No one would be coming to rescue the goblin, either…

Then again, she wasn’t the one eating the neighborhood cats.  She raised the envelope…

With blinding speed nearly twenty pounds of goblin impacted with her upper chest.  Winter did not realize she was falling until the autumn-wet lawn struck her in the back, and she grabbed a fistful of greasy, matted fur with her left hand as it made to leap over her head to freedom.

It retaliated by sinking jagged teeth into her pale wrist, right through the sturdy fabric of her uncle’s old Army jacket.

Winter let out a yelp of startled pain, but did not release the frantically scratching beast.  It flailed about, claws raking her chest, her neck, her face, digging bloody furrows into her skin wherever it could find purchase.  She beat against its thick body in panic, the envelope almost forgotten in her clenched fist, and it worried at her wrist like a dog, the teeth digging deeper and deeper into flesh towards bone.

Rolling to her side, she released her grip on the envelope a little, half dumping, half pounding the goblin with red, glittering dust, drew the magic from within herself and through gritted teeth released it in a resonating word of command.  “Bind!”  It was not needed, the spell in the powder was already primed, but she was in pain and wanted to be sure it worked.

The creature froze in place, her wrist still clamped between its jaws.  Discolored teeth remained imbedded in fabric and flesh, but at least it had stopped chewing at the wound.  Winter tried in vain to breathe without smelling.  Wherever the little goblin had come from, it stank, and fear mixed with exertion did not help with the odor.  Her own pain and adrenaline were not helping, and she fought down a wave of nausea.  Grunting with hurt at the jostling, Winter jerked her bag out from beneath her hip and with one hand and her teeth uncorked a small blue bottle.  The acrid smell made her nostrils sting.  The goblin apparently smelled it, too, because it began to drool heavily in fear on Winter’s hand and arm.  She upended the bottle, the thick liquid soaking into the beast’s matted fur, and again produced a voice resonant with magical command.  “Banish!”  Again, the magic in the potion was already primed, but sometimes a little overkill did not hurt.

With a shrill keen and a cloud of noxious smoke the goblin vanished, the release of its weight and jaws painful in itself.  Winter rolled carefully up onto her knees, ignoring with limited success the way her torn stockings neatly wicked up the freezing moisture from the plush lawn to chill her skin.  Without teeth to block up the wound, blood welled up from the torn flesh, black in the suburban twilight, and began to run in rivulets down her hand.

She knelt there quietly, watching the first glittering drop fall silently onto the grass, and sluggishly fought back the roaring rush of exhaustion in her ears.  Darkness crept along the edges of her vision, and she shrugged her injured arm carefully out of her coat sleeve and knelt in the chill in just her long dress and her sweater, which she slipped off to bind about her hurt wrist.  It felt so good, just being still.  Just for a few more minutes.  She remained kneeling in the street-lit yard, watching the weave soak up blood and slime, and found herself fighting back sudden frustrated tears as the pain wound its way to her brain past the kinder adrenaline.  Her older sisters Sorcha and Mirilyn – even her younger cousins – they were so much better at this than she was.  They were stronger, faster, less scatterbrained…  Her wrist throbbed with her pulse, still fast, and the smaller stinging scratches echoing across her face, chest, and arms made her wish she could kick the evil little thing just a few more times.  Sorcha had once taken on an entire pack of hell-hounds that threatened her day-camp, for heaven’s sake.  Granted, Grandfather and Mirilyn had had to rescue her, but they had all three come home in triumph.  A single nasty little goblin would have been no match.  What was she doing wrong?

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