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Chapter Snippet

From Latest Novel – Book IV – NO’VA

Something bumped against his leg. Startled, Jenario looked down to see a curious tabby staring up at him. 

“Where did you come from?” He reached down, allowing the cat to sniff his hand. The greeting was soon returned with a head-butt. A quick scratch behind the ears was momentarily satisfying before sitting at his feet once again. “I don’t recall anyone bringing a cat with them.” He turned back to his work and attempted to concentrate once more when the cat reached out with a paw. A tap to the leg made him look down. “Another rub for the road, huh?” 

In response, the tabby turned toward camp, its tail flicking this way and that. It meowed, then looked back.

“Sorry, friend. No food for here.” He started pulling out another vial. “Might be some scraps at camp.” 

A tap to his leg confirmed the cat was back at his side. Ignoring it only received a strong tug. When he felt claws dig into his pants, he tried to swat at it.

“Seriously?” Rubbing his leg, he noticed how the cat walked a few steps toward camp, then stopped and meowed. It soon came back to repeat the process. Finally, Jenario got the hint. “Okay, fine! I’m coming!” He balked at the idea of following a strange animal. “You don’t look starved. Spoiled, though.” He chuckled as he rose to grab his bags. 

At first the cat took a path that led close to the campfire. Jenario halfway expected it to stop near the stew. When the cat walked past it, he hesitated. Passing on a food chance was not something he foresaw, so when it mewed softly for him to continue following, he carefully stepped around sleeping members. Every now and then it would peer over its shoulder to make sure he was still there. Soon, they arrived at the building where his family slept. It was at the opened doorway that the cat finally sat in waiting.

Jenario glanced at the doorway, then down at the cat. “So…what? What do you want, cat?” Large yellow orbs just stared up at him before shifting its attention to the room. 

Not knowing what else to do, Jenario stepped inside. Cool darkness greeted him when he entered the framed-in foyer. If candles had been lit, they had long since gone out. His eyes were still adjusting while he tiptoed over to an unused corner to regroup his belongings. All the while his mind tried to find reason for the feline’s unusual behavior. When he glanced to the doorway, the cat was no longer there. He could only imagine what his friends might think of it. 

“Those concoctions getting to your head, Jen!” Shafari’s voice came to mind. 

That’s all I need right now is another mockery!  He turned his focus to where his fiancée and son slept. He could see Tia’s form under the blankets. Just on the other side of her lay Abraham, though it looked a little small for a two-year-old boy. Jenario stepped closer, not recognizing the arrangements of blankets. 

A sudden pang of fear rose up his spine. The bedding was all there, but it was empty.

Chapter Snippet

A crushing blow to her chest knocked Roseblood off to the side. Landing hard, she grappled with tangled wings curled under her heavy body. In the heat of confusion and clouded judgment, she leaped at the first sign of movement. Forgetting that one wing still hung in impotence beneath her, it did little more than cushion the next blow. Her breathing labored against the uncanny feel of pierced breast as she was tossed against a dead tree. A splintering crack of aged wood echoed in suggestion of possible collapse. Still, stubbornness and the pride of a potential kill rushed strength through her haggard body. 

Something sticky splattered against her feathers. She did not have to look to assume what dripped from her ripped feathers. With a pain-filled screech, she found a new target, the approach of one she recognized almost immediately. There was no denying those white-tipped ears when the slender figure approached. Now Roseblood understood what had struck her. The ground was alive with called magic mingling into the roots of the trees. She would need to be quick. 

No ground was swift enough to ensnare her fury. Roseblood was airborne before the Healer could move, standing defiantly like a lone sentinel. Her shrill cry of victory combined with a snap of roots. Still midflight, the old tree toppled. Talons touched ground in front of her prey, claws poised for the strike. A moment too late, a shriek of realization escaped her dark lips.

Chapter Snippet

The beginning of next Chapter. This marks the eleventh chapter thus far in No’va

*****

Nickademis eyed the sea of wavering brown and green grass. There was little movement where he had last seen the young harpy until a shift in the pattern of bending reeds confirmed her location. Huffing out a sigh, he continued down the path Windchester had cleared once again.

A sudden squeal, followed by a burst of feathers emerged directly alongside the doctor. He halted in a panicked skid before realizing she had caught a field mouse.

“Someone’s enjoying breakfast.” he grumbled.

Amber eyes peered up at him, the mouse’s tail still twitching along her dark lips. It was intriguing to actually view all of her facial markings during the daylight hours. A black line went from brow to chin, with thinner ones fanned out across her cheekbones. Unfurling her wings broke the illusion that kept them from tangling in tight spaces. Yet even they contained shades of greens and brown alongside the darker plumage.

Everest stood, sucking in the tail and ticking her lips. A small lump could be seen traveling down her throat when she tilted her head back to help get it down. A shake of her feathered head brought a grin, and she patted her belly.

“Earrrly morrrningsss are the bessst,” she hissed with pride. Her top crest of feathers fanned out as wide as her toothy smile before layering flat over her hair once again. The hissing vanished with her next comment, “You should try it sometime. Leaves the whole day open afterwards.”

“I saw some rabbits,” Phine commented from behind the doctor. “Would make a nice stew if we could catch ’em.”

“Perhaps you could assist in helping them,” Windchester suggested to the harpy. “Although I am not permitted to harm the creatures that grant our shifting abilities, that doesn’t mean I will stop anyone else from obtaining their rightful nourishment.”

“With pleasssurrre,” Everest purred in delight before folding her wings in a fade. She then darted back into the wavering blades.

Another Chapter Completed!!

Just finished a chapter in the second part of NO’VA – Book IV – Red Moon Rising Trilogy!!

Shafari

Chapter Snippet

An untouched berry tremored as it rolled one way, then another. Having had enough of spiders for one day, he raised his hand to smack it.

A sudden spurt of juice from the inside shot at his clothing. Where it landed on skin tingled in irritation, just enough to delay his action for the spiderling to burst from its shell.

Crunch! A woman’s sole crushed it from existence before it could launch itself at Jenario. The young man’s eye-level met a rather luxurious leg before traveling up her slender figure to the face. The ears were an instant giveaway, and yet he still gulped at that glare that read, “You’re pathetic.”

“Haven’t you done enough?” A cold tone added to her already aggravated stance.

“Sorry?”

Eyes narrowed at his response. “You will never fully comprehend our true purpose. Our leader risks his life for your kind, and you come here and upset everything from its place.”

Jenario blinked. “I…I thought they were berries!”

“And now we have to track where it goes from here, as well as the rest you’ve got hatching at your side.”

At this, Jenario froze. He had forgotten the ones stored in the bottle. As if right on cue, he felt it twitch along his side.

“If I were you, I’d remove that bag.”

“Easy now. Do it as smoothly as possible.” Providence approached while Jenario did so with trembling hands. The strap’s clasp was on his back, and was long enough to simply pull over his head. Yet in doing so he had to bring the bag even closer to remove it. The clinks of tiny legs tapping on the glass grew louder as he did, followed by several cracks in the glass.

There goes my herbs! He thought despairingly.

They don’t care much for plants, came a reassuring thought from the Healer. To the other, he nodded in greeting. “Sarra.”

That cold glare did not waver even with her leader stepped close. “You’ve been bitten.”

A shrug. “Nothing a day’s rest won’t fix.” To the young man, he motioned for him to move further back. Once out of harm’s way, the Healer curled a few fingers in the air in the act of magically unclasping the outer flap.

The moment it was open, an explosion of glass and spiderlings erupted from the bag.

“Hico anx lo d’hess.” There were no ribbons of color that flowed from the earth at this command. It was the language only that stopped the spiderlings in their tracks and turned their attention to the Lo-ans’rel leader.

Jenario counted twelve spiders climbing from his pack. Each was equipped with a set of fangs tipped with poison, and eager to hunt.

A distant screech drew new focus. Jenario was sure it was the parent calling to its offspring. At a slight nod from Providence the spiders skittered off in that direction. Finally, the young man relaxed. He had not realized how tense he had become until he slowly got to his feet. Letting out a sigh in relief, he let his shoulders droop.

There was a tired look to Providence as he rubbed his shoulder where the spider had bitten.

Snippet Time!

What I’m currently working on in the latest chapter of No’va.

*****

Its puce skin looked soft and moist from being in the humid climate. If not for a few sharp features and wings flinging even more mud at their faces, it might not have looked very intimidating. Another bubble brought several more into the air. One even carried its young, which clung to its underside and squeaked when the parent made any sudden movements.

Providence held his position, keeping himself between the men and harpy-demons. If he spoke to them, it came out in a series of clicks and sharp gurgles. Whatever the meaning, the creatures returned with threatening hisses. Soon the Healer began to back up where the men were standing. Slightly turning his head to peer over one shoulder, he warned, “Prepare yourselves.”

While the men just looked at one another and around at their sloppy situation, Jenario had his eye somewhere else.

“The water.” He nudged one of them in the direction of the island. “We can swim for it.”

The idea of swimming in swamp water was no more appealing than what suddenly swooped down at them. At a shout from Providence, the men turned to flee. Some of them ended face-down in the muck while harpy-demons clawed at those who still managed to keep their footing. There were at least twelve, with more on the way as Jenario noticed larger bubbles beginning to pop along the tunnel’s edge.

Like the others, Jenario kept his arms over his face when he was attacked. They came in pairs, effectively moving the men away from those who carried young. In between the chaos of yanking at his clothing, pinching claws and bites, he noticed those carrying smaller ones stayed back. There was no sign of Providence, though he caught a hint of green robe in between flapping wings and heard his commands to get as far from the tunnels as possible. Whether the harpy-demons actually attacked the Healer, he was unsure. At the moment, they just needed to find a way out, so Jenario took the one opportunity he had before a leathery wing gashed his cheek.

He dived. It came as a surprise that his boots got the traction they needed for the final push over the mound and down under the water. It was too murky to see, but he could hear several splashes from above as though the creatures tried to follow.

Jenario did not wait. The water was not deep, as his hand quickly touched a slimy bottom. Things that grew underwater slipped along his stomach. He could feel the bark of trees, or what he assumed were trees silently decaying in the dark. He found places to hold and started pulling himself along. Best to stay low, he realized. If they see any disturbance in the water, they might come back.

His thoughts drifted to the other men when muffled variations of dives came from behind. It was an oily sound, like slapping a thick soup. The cooks used to do that back at Mayla when they had just hauled in unusual looking shelled fish, fresh from port. They would slap their ladles across their hard backs in attempts to keep them down, just long enough for the pot’s lid to clamp shut. After the steaming process, they were then peeled and ladled into a thick stew. It had made a delicious impression on the council, who requested it more often than the normal broths containing just vegetables and beef. One would think a chef would not have needed an alchemist, but tasteful ingredients were always needed. Thus Jenario found himself called upon for food preparation more so than medicine, and he hated every moment of it. The very smell of his current pardictument was a good reason to despise becoming a culinary alchemist. A sudden flashback to himself pulverizing oil glands from a stinking fish corpse made his stomach churn.

He thrust up for a quick breath, unable to hold it any longer. The water did not fully break as quickly as a clear stream would have, so he received a mouthful of floating debris and muddy water. This set off a sputter of choking
gasps and hacks to clear his lungs. The gash on his cheek stung once in open air, sure it would get infected from whatever else sufficated in its muddy clutches.

*****

The image below might be something they swim in to reach the so-called ‘island’

swamp water

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