A skeletal hand held Zern under water, its fingers gripping her hair and holding her head twisted to the side. In the darkness she could barely make out its form: male, his flesh rotting away and hanging from his bones. Zern needed air, needed to get her head above water; her chest felt tight with pain. Reaching up, she tore at his arm, trying to pull free of his grasp, desperate to get away, to get up. The form holding her lowered his head into the water and sneered at her. The skin on the left side of his face had completely rotted away.

Gasping, Zern sat up. Her chest felt tight as she took deep breaths. Her red hair clung to her face, and her sweat-soaked shirt stuck to her chest and stomach. Gripping the broken sword that served as her only weapon, Zern glanced at the forest surrounding her. The nightmare made her realize how alone and defenseless she was now. In her sleep- and food-deprived state Zern felt unsure of her ability to use magic. The sword, broken midway down the blade, and her training, represented the only power she could rely on. Deep in the forest in the dead of night, stuck with the haunting memories of her nightmare, that power wasn't enough to comfort her.

Continue Reading The Five: Chapter 1...

"So what's your story?" Trevor asked.

Delilah half turned on her horse to look at him. "Me?"

"Well, yeah," Trevor said, nudging his horse ahead a bit. "I know everyone else, 'cept your guard guys and they aren't much for conversation."

She smiled. Trevor was a little surprised by how pretty her smile actually was. "There is a reason for that, Trevor. When I was younger, things were different here. Aria had visited before, but saw no use in controlling us. Then around the time I was fourteen, the army overthrew the royalty," She adjusted in her saddle. "They promised to bring people up, confiscating the lands of the nobles and declaring that everyone was equal now. Things were great, for about five years."

Delilah shook her head. "The new government grew paranoid because the church stood with the king. Not much had changed for the people, really, the nobles and royalty just got left in the street. Everything else went on. So they outlawed our church – not religion totally, Darius himself believes in the gods. Just the current form, because they opposed the government. Again, not much changed for most people. They just found themselves with new priests."

Continue Reading Prisoners of Sorcery: Chapter 1...

The stack of reports threatened to crush Gregorius at the slightest provocation. They poured in all through the day, from every region the Beloved controlled and many they did not, telling him everything he needed to know and a great deal of things he did not. The details some of the report writers went to were fantastic, intricate, and above all, absolutely boring. No matter how fast he read, no matter how much time out of his day he devoted to reading, the stack continued to grow like a sentient tumor.

He needed to find some way of filtering out the bad information from the good. Yet he was the only person in the organization with the ability to know what they needed and couldn't pass the load off on some subordinate. Gregorius needed to check the information and decide what Njaladin saw and what he did not. He needed to mask certain truths, and certain rumors, and keep the others in dark about quite a few details. The Beloved leadership had expanded faster than he wanted it to. Secrets were necessary from those he didn't trust, those that came to his table against his will and power.

Continue Reading Temple of the Fallen: Chapter 1...

How common is magic, really?

It was a simple question, but it didn't come with a simple answer. That answer always depended on both where you were asking it, and what you defined as magic.

Zern found out just how little magic mattered when her home was attacked and her brother murdered by an ancient sorceress who had the power of alien technology far beyond anything she could have imagined. In the chaos, the fear took over and she forgot all her training. She panicked, and she used powers she didn't quite understand to do something she hadn't thought through.

Now she found herself trying to help three confused scientists and their friend escape the same dangerous ages old grudge that she herself was caught in. The four heroes she sought to join the Five were willing, but not able, to fend off Ciel Aria and her sycophants.

Now their goal was simple: Stay low and prepare until the right time, and then strike with a fury no one expected.

But there were complications, including the evil that haunted her dreams and sapped her life, taunting and humiliating her by exhibiting his complete control over her unconscious mind.

The thrilling adventure beings here, and weaves through lands ruled by horrible despots, a religious rebellion against the crown, and an age-old conflict between forces beyond the worlds of men.

"How common is magic, really?"

The answer will be forthcoming...