allisonholz: Here I am in my writing cave, aka my basement (Default)
[personal profile] allisonholz
Since I'm doing a lot of networking this weekend and directing people to the blog, here's something fun to read. It's an excerpt from my thesis novel, Fey Blood. Enjoy!

"Can you do the spell from here?" Galen signed.

"I’m afraid some might have already gotten inside.

"We could just let them go. The world won't miss a few clubbers."

Doran's answer was to unhook his sword from its sling harness across his back.

"Haven’t we talked about the sword?" Galen pushed the kerchief down from his face, then drew his pistols.

Doran stalked toward the light. A little tingling shiver was all that remained of the club's wards. A proper ward should have felt like passing through a mountain stream during spring runoff.

The next few moments were a blur of bodies and claws, but he kept his focus on the door as much as possible. The moment he saw it swing out into a darkened hallway, fear sent a jolt through his guts. He shouted to Galen, "They're headed upstairs!" and quickened his pace.

He twisted away from as many wurms as he could, preferring not to attack if possible, but the most aggressive among them did not give him a choice. He parried their raking claws with the flat of his blade, then kicked them away with his rubber boots. To his left he heard the sharp retort of one of Galen’s pistols. He ducked a spray of acid from a water-wurm, but a few droplets burned holes in his heavy leather duster.

Then he was at the door and reaching for the handle. Galen dashed up the moment it swung out. They slipped into a darkened hallway. Doran slammed the door fast again and handed Galen his sword. He rummaged in his pack for a moment and pulled out a paper packet. He took a pinch of the sand-like grains inside and tossed them at the door with a murmured word, erecting the strongest ward he could without more time and better tools.

Doran recovered his sword and stepped away from the warded door. No lights burned out here, but enough lambent energy suffused aetheric to illuminate the stenciled words "boiler-room" on the next door down the hall.

"It's warded," he murmured. The ward was strong, well-constructed, and carried the aetheric signature of the Sorcerer's Guild.

"Mustn’t want anyone poking in their steamworks," Galen said.

Claws scrabbled against wood at the end of the passage. They ran down the hall and started up the stairs. In the dimness, Doran caught sight of a nasty-looking fire-wurm, its energy a red glow of radiant heat in the aetheric.

The wurm had hesitated at the top of the stairs, but as soon as their footfalls vibrated on the bottom step it dashed on its powerful rear legs toward the pounding music. Doran swore and followed it, telling Galen to stay behind in case the rest broke through the ward.

The noise up here deafened him. Flashes of light in every imaginable color pierced deep shadows.
He could no longer see the wurm, but it would have followed the stronger vibrations coming from the performers, so Doran headed left into a backstage area. Bright light penetrated beneath and between heavy curtains, and dim blue bulbs hanging from the ceiling alleviated the gloom. Doran saw the firewurm crouched beside a curtain, rocking toward and away from the performers. It looked confused and enraged, afraid of the light but drawn to the music. Before Doran could reach it, it flung itself onto the stage. With a shout of colorful invective, Doran dashed after it.

The lights nearly blinded him with a mix of electricity and magelight, but the wurm with its sensitive eyes suffered even more. It blundered through a grouping of drums and reared up on its hind legs. Doran stood downstage of it, closer to the lead singer, and in the stunned silence he could hear her breath catch, then a soft cry. The wurm leapt toward the sound.

As it sometimes did when Doran fought, time seemed to slow. The girl's eyes widened, showing vivid emerald irises. The wurm appeared almost to float toward her as his feet carried him forward, arms extended. His sword thrust speared it as it flew through the air. It squealed as the steel ripped past its carapace and into its vital organs.

Time resumed its normal flow. The crowd gathered on the dance floor cheered. What kinds of things normally happened on this stage if they cheered instead of screaming?

But the band knew this wasn't a show. He could see and smell their fear. It shrouded them in orange clouds pierced by red sparks, giving the air a tang like lightning mixed with sour milk. A bouncer ran up onto the stage, which went black.

Music started up from the speakers and a voice came through saying, "That was Lacrimabilis, and a preview of the kinds of illusion and magic you can expect in our next production! Presses of the band's album and tickets for all upcoming shows can be purchased at the bar."

Heavy crimson curtains fell, shrouding the stage. Low-watt golden worklights sprang to life overhead, illuminating the deadly tableaux.

"What in the hells is going on?"

All six members of the band stared open-mouthed at the wurm writhing in death on Doran's sword point as the bouncer yelled his question over the music. A far-off part of Doran's mind noted that there were three women in the band and three men, and all wore spectacular costumes with equally fantastic makeup. Then he realized that the lead singer was not staring at the wurm, but at him.

The gaze of her green eyes pierced him as sure as the thrust that felled the wurm. Desire lanced with bright pain into his gut. He flinched away from those shocking eyes, from the almost-fey alabaster of her skin, luminescent in the aetheric. She could almost be Tare Siod.
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allisonholz: Here I am in my writing cave, aka my basement (Default)
Allison Holz

October 2011

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