Published Works and Tales by Melissa Jensen

Posts tagged ‘magic’s perdition’

Magic’s Perdition Excerpt: Midnight Caller

Issachar moved into the washroom and smirked when he found Adeline at the table, her elbows propped up on the surface where the dead dryad lay, her chin on her fists and her eyes closed. She was also snoring.

Issachar rapped his knuckles lightly on the door frame. Adeline jolted awake with a snort. She blinked blearily at her surroundings until her eyes finally focused on the dragon.

“Don’t tell me it’s morning already,” she said, stretching until her back popped.

“Half-way there, actually. The animals are acting weird.”

Adeline crinkled her eyes in mild confusion. “What? I don’t hear the dogs going off.”

“The woodland animals. They’re fleeing like they’ve got places to be and no time to get there. Could be our blood-man and his machine making a bother of himself.”

Adeline sighed, looking at the side door as though she could glean wisdom from it about what she was meant to do with this news. “Which direction were the creatures fleeing?”

“West, northwest a bit.”

“Oh, Lords,” Adeline breathed, rubbing her face with both hands. When done rubbing, she clasped her hands together and set her chin on her knuckles. She rolled her eyes toward Issachar. “Do you think you’d be able to see our killer if they happened by?”

Issachar shrugged. “Maybe, if they came close enough.”

“I’d rather know for certain if the cause of all the animals panicking is our killer. With how quickly and quietly the killer attacks, I’m not going to allow Milburne and the others to walk into an ambush. Come on. To your room. We’ll wait and see if this killer and their machine happens…”

The doorbell trilled. Adeline froze half-rising from her chair. She looked at Issachar in confusion, and he returned her look with equal confusion.

The bell trilled again.

They both rushed to the door, Issachar reaching it first having been a few steps closer. He peered through the peep-hole, only to see that the porch was empty.

“No one out there,” he said. Which meant that the ringing was coming from outside the gate. Adeline had connected a wire and a ringer next to the gate doors so that she didn’t have to leave the gate open at all hours just for visitors and salesmen (but mostly to avoid salesmen).

Adeline sighed in relief. “Oh, thank goodness. We’d be in trouble if they’d gotten through the gate enchantments. Quick, Issachar, the scrying bowl. Let’s see if we can finally put a face to our murderer, if it is our murderer. Although I don’t know why they think ringing the bell would accomplish anything. I’m not an idiot.”

The bell trilled three times in rapid succession as if the one ringing it were getting impatient. Issachar hurried to the study, meeting a disheveled but wide-awake Charly in her pink flower nightgown coming down the stairs.

“What is it, what’s going on?” she asked as Issachar hurried by. He would let Adeline answer. He grabbed the perfectly polished silver bowl from the top-most shelf and its nest of notes on scrying, hurried to the kitchen, and filled it four inches full of water.

Adeline met him in the kitchen and took the bowl when he was done. “Thank you, Iss.” After setting the bowl on the table, she gave the water a moment to settle, then rubbed her hands together in nervous anticipation. “Right, then. Let’s have a look at you.”

When Adeline had installed the ringer next to the gate, she had personally designed the ringer’s frame, etching two eyes and four runes into the fancy, ornate swirling designs so that one would have to look and look hard to see them. With this design, she had created a second peep-hole of sorts (also mostly to avoid salesmen).

When the water stilled, Adeline breathed out a gentle breath through pursed lips, rippling the surface for only a heartbeat. When the water settled, her face reflected back at her with the perfect clarity of the finest mirror.

Then the water rippled a second time without the aid of her breath, and Adeline’s image vanished, replaced by a new image. Reflecting back at them was the world beyond the gate – the gravel road, the trees, and the darkness of the night outside the pool of light from the gate lamp.

There was no one there.

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Magic’s Perdition Excerpt: Falling and Landing

What Adeline had always found fascinating about falling was that it induced a panic that the body didn’t know what to do with. The brain froze, the heart didn’t know whether it wanted to leave the chest or stay right where it was, and the limbs flailed wanting to grab everything and anything, then giving up when they realized there was nothing to grab. Falling was at once a terrifying experience and the most brilliant, as the brain screamed for the body not to die, but the blood pumped making the body feel more alive than it had ever felt as the wind rushed past and the earth swallowed them. It felt like eternity.

In reality, it must have lasted a grand total of two seconds when, suddenly, Adeline found herself standing on solid ground, as the horrified exhilaration slowly drained from her body and confusion took its place. She blinked, waiting while the sudden transition from falling to her doom to landing safely cleared from her mind. She looked around.

“Oh, my, but this is beautiful,” she breathed.

Beautiful and impossible, but then so went the ways of magic. She was standing on an island, but not an island sitting comfortably in the middle of a sea. Oh no. This island was floating in open air, with more such tiny islands scattered about a night sky the blue-black of late twilight, flooded with stars and rivers of stars, and an Aurora Borealis shimmering all the colors of the rainbow in the distance. The air was cool and smelled fragrant with honeysuckle and cherry blossoms. Which it would; each island was a garden, this island with a small pond, two cherry trees, and a wisteria, and flowering lily pads in the pond.

What the islands didn’t have was a way to cross to the next island.

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Available on Nov. 11. Per-order at Amazon.com

Magic’s Perdition Excerpt: Clockworks

The workshop was a single-story barn turned garage, housing both the rickety old flatbed truck dotted in rust and the various metal bits and bobs that went into Addy’s clockwork animals – dogs, for the most part, since they were in higher demand, although cats were sometimes ordered for serious mice issues. Addy was at the welding table, hunched and looking almost like a troll in the thick gray-brown coveralls she wore when welding, her body highlighted in the flickering blue light of the torch, and most of her hair hidden beneath a faded pink scarf. Her hair was a little more gray than brown these days, yet even at seventy, she didn’t look a day older than when Issachar had first met her. Magic did that to a sorcerer. Adeline was finishing up a robot dog, he could tell by the thing’s head.

Issachar wasn’t always fond of machines but he supposed Addy’s were impressive enough. Adeline had once said that it wasn’t easy creating a body that moved like the creature it was imitating. But Addy’s machines were more than just bodies set in motion with a little oil or a wind-up key. It was said that her machines lived. Which, of course, wasn’t technically true while, in a way, it was true. Machines couldn’t live, they could only mimic, it just happened that Addy’s machines mimicked to near-perfection. The trick, she had said, was to put the machine with the creature it was based on, and allow the machine to observe and absorb the creature’s behavior. It was a tedious process that could sometimes take months to accomplish, but the result was a far more manageable machine without the need for specific instructions, and without having to summon someone’s spirit to occupy the thing for a time.

It was also possible to seal a spirit within the machine, but that was illegal, as it should be because it was cruel.

robot-dog

Available Nov. 11th. Pre-order at Amazon.com

Magic’s Perdition Excerpt: Adeline and the Dragon

Adeline straightened. Wrapped around the young man’s skinny wrists were a pair of manacles. They were so rusted that even a child could have snapped them off. This boy had been held captive for quite some time, no doubt locked away and forgotten. Yet his hair was short as if recently cut, and he was still alive.

Interesting.

Adeline crouched in front of the boy. The filth and his thinness made determining his age a challenge, but if Adeline had to guess she would have put his age at around twenty or so. She ducked her head, attempting to see beneath the fringe of greasy hair shading his eyes. She smiled.

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Adeline. I promise I’m not here to hurt you. Can you tell me your name, sweetheart?”

The head moved enough for his eyes to dart up and glare at her. They were beautiful, a green as green as the leaves on the trees and moss of the deeper forest.

They were also angry.

Adeline arched an eyebrow. “I suppose that wasn’t the correct question to ask. Listen, it’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you, no one here is going to hurt you.” She reached out with the intent of brushing his hair back and proving her promise.

The young man didn’t move, not his head nor his eyes. But there was, most definitely, a very animal growl rumbling from his person. It was a high sound that was both guttural and clicking. Adeline retracted her hand.

“Sorry,” she said. “Avoid touch, I understand.” She dug into the pocket of her brown button coat and pulled out a pair of tinted glasses.

“Don’t mind these,” she said, holding them up. “Just a little novice creation that comes in handy for seeing the unseen.” She slipped the glasses onto her face.

“Oh,” she breathed in astonished delight.

Adeline still saw the boy, who continued to glower at her with those bright green eyes of his. But surrounding him like mist was a new shape, mostly transparent but not so transparent that Adeline didn’t know what it was she was seeing. It was too large a shape not to know.

Adeline could safely say she had been wrong about the boy’s age.

The lad was a sylphen. A dragon sylphen, sinuous, winged, and shades of green from pale to emerald to dark as the pines, with a mane of green fur down a long neck, flowing as though underwater. Lords, it was beautiful, even partially transparent as it was.

Adeline couldn’t help but gush “Oh, you are gorgeous.”

The sylph’s eyes rolled up into the back of his head. He pitched forward, and Adeline lunged, catching him just in time and leaving her with an armful of filthy, emaciated dragon.

issachar-watercolor2

Available Nov. 11th. Pre-order at Amazon.com.

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