Seventh Entry: The Cockatrice

 

cockatrice bestiary 7

In the wilderness, impossible things are sometimes born that make their way into the world of man – yet it is also the case that occasionally the opposite is true. We have met such a beast, and survived to speak of it – the wizard’s dragon, the sorcerer’s apprentice. 

If the morning is quiet in farm country, and there is no crowing of roosters to welcome the oncoming dawn, be wary of walking alone. Perhaps one is near you, slaying those whose signal is as a death cry – small creatures turned to stone will tell the tale. The rock in the shape of a rodent may once have been a living mouse. 

Bird-footed, bird-faced, born from an egg a toad has hatched, the cockatrice bears a deadly venom and even to be perceived by it is death. In its glare is a swinging scythe – like Medusa, broken beauty of the ancient world, all that look directly upon it turn to stone. 

We see it from above, safe in our watchful silence, perusing the reflection of his horror and mystery in still waters. The creature itself avoids its own gaze, drinks slowly with a tongue like a lizard’s. When the beast rattles his tails and disappears into the brush, we breathe easy again. 

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Cockatrice References

Cockatrice Wiki
Cocktrice at the Encylopedia Britannica

Image Credit: Jivu

Have a suggestion for a creature that belongs in the Bestiary? Leave it in the comments!

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Accidental Master

As I’ve been whining about it everywhere lately, I thought it only fair to share with you a snippet of my newest and most all-consuming work in progress: Holy.  

This bit comes from what is  currently scene two of draft one!

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Angel-face didn’t stir until Artemio had made his way almost a full block, past the screaming lights of a half dozen ambulances to the emergency tent that had been set up on-scene. Even then, it was only to press his face against Artemio’s shoulder, to sigh and breathe deeper, reach his arms around Artemio’s neck.

“You awake? I thought you’d gone out on me. Think you can stand?” There was a pause, and then he felt the head against his shoulder shaking no. “Don’t worry about it then, not like you weigh much.” It wasn’t far, anyway, just around to the other side of the tent where the parmeds were clustered together, speaking in low voices.

Female, all of them, but not women – not, definitely not women. What they were exactly, Artemio didn’t know. Taj would, always did, but it was enough for Artemio that they were Other, and therefore trouble. As much as he was capable of, he was…quiet with them.

“Hello, ladies. Got another patient for you.”

Six pairs of eyes turned to him at the same time, though he’d no doubt that they had noticed him long before he’d spoken. The murmuring was quiet, but only one stepped forward, peering at the Angel-face in his arms.

“This one is not like you, this one is Other – all the rest were human, had mortal mothers.”

He stopped. That was…interesting. “He was marked for a sacrifice, tied up, kept captive -” Their faces were growing darker with every word, and he took an involuntary step back at the sound of hissing, rattling, snake-and-shadow-sounds to which his most primitive instincts were vulnerable. “Yeah. I know – he’s cut up and bruised but I think the worst of it’s probably mental. I think…” He hesitated, then shrugged. “I think he’s been captive for a while.”

“This is not done -”

“It was, so take care of him, will you?” Artemio stepped forward, and the parmeds parted around him, let him into the tent. It was only when he tried to put his burden down on one of the medtables that there was trouble. The blond head snapped suddenly upright, and tight fingers clutched at Artemio’s duty vest, then at the sleeves of his jacket beneath it.

Oh please no. Don’t let go.”

Artemio shook his head, lay him down on the table and unwound his arms, but he couldn’t get away. Soft fingers plucked at his jacket, tried to keep him close. “Angel-face you’ve gotta – you’re hurt. You need to let the parmeds look at you, they’ll bring you to -”

“No don’t send me away not back not anywhere not – no – Master – Master.” It was a babble of words on the edge of terrified hysteria, and despite himself Artemio took a step back toward him, reached out and lay his hands on shaking shoulders.

Angel. You need -”

You.”

Artemio pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead, huffed out a breath. “Look I – I’ll stay while they check you over, all right? I can do at least that much.” He turned to get the attention of the parmeds again, finally, but they were standing by the wall, clustered together, staring not at Angel-face but at him. “One of you gonna help him, or -” He was interrupted by all of them in turn.

He called you Master -”

“You, no king, no lord, no caster!”

“If we could we’d take him from you-”

But what has been done is not in our power to undo.

The last phrase was blazed only across his mind, not in his ears, and Artemio jerked himself away from clutching fingers, took a full step backward, angry, averting his eyes awkwardly. “Stop that, just – stop. This one’s one of you and I just pulled him out of that house, and you don’t want to help him?”

As he does not want us to, as he wants only you – and what a disaster! A servant of the Master – so mastered!

“Get the fuck out of my head!”

The lead parmed drew herself up and threw a scornful glare in his direction. “He is yours. We will not, cannot touch him. Go to the Council, if you’d make much of it!”

They streamed out of the tent past him in one unbroken line behind her, but his glare was tempered by the need to steady himself against the table as Angel-face crawled all the way out of the tapestry he’d been wrapped in and up into Artemio’s arms. “Master -”

“Oh, no. Don’t get comfortable, I’m going straight to the Council with you, I don’t care if it’s two in the morning, I’m not dealing with this -” But his arms were closing around the worn, warm body, drawing him close, and when Artemio looked down again, the coffeecream eyes were already shut, and his face was relaxed, and Artemio knew, knew, that he was doomed. “Fuck.”

Artemio lay him back on the tapestry, wrapped it up around him despite the sound of protest he got when he let go, and then picked him up again. “’S a damn good thing you don’t weigh much.”

“Yes, Master.” But it was more of a yawn than words, and in the five minutes it took Artemio to make his way back from the tent to where Taj had parked his car, the Angel-face in his arms had fallen asleep.

“Hey Art, you need a ride home, or -”

Artemio whipped around, knot between his brows. “Shh. And yeah, I need ride, but not home.”

Taj blinked at him when he came around the corner and saw his arms still full of blond, sleeping Other. “What are you still doing with him?”

“The parmeds wouldn’t take him. He’s – he keeps callin’ me master, Taj.” The word came rough and thick and hesitant off his lips, still quiet. Even if he was causing trouble, Artemio didn’t want to wake the poor bastard. He’d suffered enough.

“Master? The fuck did you do, pick up a -”

“I don’t know. But I’m not gonna keep him no matter what he calls me or what the parmeds think. You know I can’t.”

Suddenly bright with djinn-fire, Taj’s eyes met his gaze. “But you want to.”

“I -” The word came out loud, angry, and Artemio caught himself, stole a glance down at the sleeping angel-face. Fucking Taj. Fucking djinn. Knows too much for his own good.

“I don’t know what I want. He’s gorgeous, yeah. But he’s Other, and that means he’s trouble. Plus he was…fuck, Taj, you know what I like. I can’t do that to him. Not the way he was…not how he was when I found him.”

Taj’s brow knit into a dark maze of disturbance. “That bad, huh?”

Worse. Let’s go – Council never sleeps, but I do – and I don’t wanna hold onto him for too long, might give him the wrong idea.” Carefully, groaning faintly as he bent, Artemio slid into the front seat and settled Angel-face on his lap, tucked his legs in so Taj could shut the door. There was a content murmur against his throat, lips and sound both whisper soft, and the arms around him tried to squeeze tighter. Artemio shook his head. He had never been a safe space for anyone, and now this Other was clinging to him like his life depended on it.

Well, maybe it had – but only for about five minutes. So why wouldn’t he let go now?

…And Three is the Number You Shall Count To! (Unless You’re Insane)

I have a terrible dilemma. It’s a daily doom that follows me around like some kind of creeping shadow – only it’s not. If it was, I would just blame it on Merlin. He’s well known for creeping shadows, almost as much so as Peter Pan.

No, this doom is something different. It is…ideas. Called by some plot bunnies, by others death (I call them death) I am overwhelmed by impossible possibilities! This is not so bad, when, like now, I have just submitted a novel and a novella and have no real deadlines looming over my head.

On the other hand, I’m simultaneously researching Assyrian gods and sacrifices, Zoroastrianism, 17th and 18th century France,  the city of San Xing Dui and China circa 1500 BC…and, of course, doing continued work into the mythologies of Ireland, Britain, and King Arthur which is necessary for the Eight Kingdoms series.

The first and second are connected to Holy, which is the work in progress most likely to be finished next. Ahura Mazda and the yazata are an interesting study – and Matti is now Sraosha, which is Obedience. Bwaha.

France…well…I’ve a long term, slow building WIP about a somewhat deranged wizard named Loup de Moreau, and he wants to live, so I’ve been reading up for him.

Anyone who’s read the doom of my LAST author rant, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Doom,  knows that San Xing Dui and most ancient China go together with Earthbound – you can find a tiny excerpt of the prologue of  that here.

So here’s my question to you – what do YOU do when the universe decides to send the flood of forty days and forty nights into your brain?

I tend to wildly waffle between writing one scene and another, until I have four scrivener files open at once and two half finished cups of coffee, neither of which I can find.

Anyone got a better plan – or some holy hand grenades for when I’m back in the trenches with the plot bunnies?

Sixth Entry: The Roc

 

bestiary six the roc

The great bird of the east comes down to the coast at sunset. It is an eagle, and yet its wingspan clouds the sky, colors the surface of the water with shadow. It is the screaming of the storm and the sound of its beating wings is all but the whirlwind.

Men on the boat that it approaches scream in all the tongues of men the region knows, but there is no saving them – already, every other boat but ours flees for the horizon, away from the dark arch of those wings, the glare of the great golden eyes.

It comes fast – a glut of terror as the bird bolts down its meal of men. There is a new pitch to the screams – then there is silence. Strewn across the ebb of the tide, the wreckage of a single sail turns bloody in the current, wrapped around its mast. Broken spars heave, and one breathless body with them, riding the swell of the bosom of the sea.

The great wing-beats return then, a sound like a hurricane, and our boat is pushed back, back, skidding across the surface of the ocean. The golden eyes scan the surface of the water, but the bird has had its fill. With a screech it rises back into the sky, disappears in the direction from whence it came. 

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Roc References

Roc Wiki
General Information
The Roc at Ancient Worlds

Image Credit: GENZOMAN

Have a suggestion for a creature that belongs in the Bestiary? Leave it in the comments!

Fifth Entry: The Bakunawa

 

bakunawa for bestiary entry five

From the depths of the sea, he comes, fury in his flailing tail and all the ocean whipped to froth around him. We have come to witness his arising, the seeking of his wrath toward the sky. 

He is the dark of the night compelling, a rising serpent on wings of storm who opens his mouth for the moon. A little at a time, the wide maw captures the curve of the lunar disc, turns bright to blackness. 

A bowl of darkness in which the stars intensify, the sky glares for a moment, empty. Then the silence of the night gives way to clamor – banging – drums – a cacophony that comes from the islands behind us and drives against the dark.

As the noise grows, so does the light. A little at a time, the dragon disgorges the moon and descends into the sea. He will sleep until he grows hungry again.

The people will be waiting.

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Bakunawa References

Bakunawa Wiki
Seventh Moon Project

Image Credit: Gpotious

Have a suggestion for a creature that belongs in the Bestiary? Leave it in the comments!

Lick of Fire

This  Lick completes the teaser  from The Burning Season, currently available here! Remember, Licks are NSFW excerpts, so read carefully – and look forward to another erotic excerpt on the smutty seventeenth of next month!

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Bran let his head drop back against the bed, cried out and bucked into Macsen’s touch. There was nowhere to go, no escape from those hands, that mouth sucking against his flesh, but escape wasn’t what he wanted.

He wanted more, and more. More than the languid stroking of Macsen’s thumb against the head of his cock, more even than the rush that was the sharing of Macsen’s deepest nature. The dark of it came over him like he thought his own heat must come over Macsen, sudden, full, undeniable.

“Macsen, more, please, I need more.”

The words came aching from his mouth, and Macsen pulled away, licked his teeth and looked up with blood on his lips still. The sight made Bran tighten his grasp against the bedclothes. The fingers pulled out of him, and warm hands spread Bran’s thighs apart farther, left him empty, needing, feeling his pulse in the hundred marks Macsen had left on his body. He felt a soft tongue on the wound Macsen’s teeth had left in his thigh, soothing, reminding…still not enough.

Not nearly enough.

Now that his hands were free, Bran reached down to tug at Macsen’s hair, pull him up. Yes, up. He didn’t have the strength to move his lover, not if he didn’t want to be moved, but Macsen was pliant, let Bran tug him into place between his thighs, nuzzled his cheek against Bran’s cock.

Macsen, please, suck—”

His tongue lapped around the head, pulled Bran a little at a time into his mouth. Slow. So slow that Bran could feel every stroke of tongue, the coolness of Macsen’s breath, the softness of his lips. “Oh yes—yes.

Before he knew what he was doing, Bran was holding Macsen’s hair tight in his fists, guiding the movement of his head, thrusting his cock up into Macsen’s mouth. Red-violet, heavy-lidded, pupils wide, Macsen stared up at him, and Bran’s gaze traveled between that wanton look and the way Macsen’s mouth stretched around his cock.

Again, Macsen pulled back, and this time all Bran’s tugging was for nothing. “Macsen—”

“Have I proved yet that I’m the patient one?”

Bran sucked in a breath, scowled but couldn’t sustain the expression. “You—”

Macsen only grinned. “I.” He leaned forward, lapped at the underside of Bran’s erection, laughed huskily at the sound of Bran’s groan and closed his mouth over the head of his cock again. His tongue moved in darting patterns, and no matter how Bran pulled at his hair or bucked his hips upward, there was no more than that—only a tease.

A minute, two, and Bran tensed, so close, not close enough. Easily, Macsen’s fingers slipped inside him again, and that was more than enough to prod his nerves higher, always higher, but not enough to bring him the release he craved.

There was heat at the curve of his hip, the dip of his pelvis, Macsen’s mouth, one kiss after another. Macsen’s tongue drew wet lines of desire across his skin, along the length of his cock. He spoke in a murmur, close to Bran’s skin.

“I want the taste of you to bring with me, Bran.”

The words licked at him like that wicked tongue, sent a jolt through him and invoked a new flush of flame.

Fourth Entry: The Mermaid

 

the mermaid, bestiary 4

 “I didn’t mean to hurt you –

The skin of the sailor in her arms is blue with silence. Blue silence, blue eyes, blue, endless, entrancing, the captive perjury of the sea, the dark eternity of broken promises; blue, but her hair is as black as the deepest grotto and entangling as the swaying, twisting weeds.

I was just so lonely –

Her own eyes are green; green shadow, yellow in them, the hue of deadly venom. She carries piercing deadliness with her in those eyes, the lively flicker of the deep, the shimmer that comes from sun on scales.

So lonely!

No movement. Silence; lapping of the surface water in the silence, too omnipresent to be noise. Like atmospheric weight. She lashes out at him, drags him under; pale arms, gray-shadowed beneath the surface of the water, long fingers, long nails, long tail –

Merflesh.

She speaks and now, below the surface, we cannot hear her, only see her moving lips. She gets no answer. The last stream of bubbles went up from his cold lips long ago. She turns away angry, flounces like a spurned queen back to the surface. The cove is calm, but her presence roughs the water into roiling. She sees our ship, and at the railing she sees us staring out to sea.

She calls to us, and we know it is time to leave. She sings, as the ship is turning, and we listen but we do not turn back.

We do not answer.

We do not speak.

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Mermaid References

Mermaid Wiki
Mermaids at Northstar Gallery

Image Credit: Serena-Kenobi

Have a suggestion for a creature that belongs in the Bestiary? Leave it in the comments!

Third Entry: The Yuki-onna

 

the yuki onna, bestiary 3

We came upon her in the snow, crouched in a field empty of all things but the white glare of the moon on the ice. Her hair was darkness cut out of the night, darkness out of the heart of a cave, and her skin and her robe were as white as the reflected night.

She called to us, but we did not dare go closer. In the frigid air her words showed no breath, and her red lips were the color of spilled blood, not paint. When the sun came up, she became like icy mist, turned to smoke and faded from our sight.

We left her behind, and turned our faces to the southern wind.

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Yuki Onna References

Yuki Onna Wiki
A Story of Yuki Onna from Musashi Province
General Information

Image Credit: rennerei

Have a suggestion for a creature that belongs in the Bestiary? Leave it in the comments!

Lick of Fire Teaser

This  Lick is a teaser from The Burning Season, currently available for pre-order here! Remember, Licks are NSFW excerpts, so read carefully – and look forward to the rest of this excerpt on the smutty seventeenth!

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Bran let his head drop back against the bed, cried out and bucked into Macsen’s touch. There was nowhere to go, no escape from those hands, that mouth sucking against his flesh, but escape wasn’t what he wanted.

He wanted more, and more. More than the languid stroking of Macsen’s thumb against the head of his cock, more even than the rush that was the sharing of Macsen’s deepest nature. The dark of it came over him like he thought his own heat must come over Macsen, sudden, full, undeniable.

“Macsen, more, please, I need more.”

The words came aching from his mouth, and Macsen pulled away, licked his teeth and looked up with blood on his lips still. The sight made Bran tighten his grasp against the bedclothes. The fingers pulled out of him, and warm hands spread Bran’s thighs apart farther, left him empty, needing, feeling his pulse in the hundred marks Macsen had left on his body. He felt a soft tongue on the wound Macsen’s teeth had left in his thigh, soothing, reminding…still not enough.

Not nearly enough.

Burning Bite

Pre-order for The Burning Season  starts Friday! As promised,  I thus deliver to you this second Bite, which continues from where Summer Bite left off!  And of course, keep an eye out for a tiny, exclusive preview of this month’s Lick, to be posted tomorrow!

Winter’s love is blood and chaos…but fire isn’t all that smolders at Summer’s heart.
Winter’s love is blood and chaos…but fire isn’t all that smolders at Summer’s heart.

 

From Chapter One

Macsen opened his eyes and stared up at the golden ceiling of Bran’s room for only a moment before he was blinded by dazzling reflections. He covered his face with his arm again. There would be time enough for those thoughts. For now…he would have to think of a proper good-bye. Bran wouldn’t like it, but he had responsibilities… And Summer isn’t good to me.

He knew the first thing Bran would suggest, but Macsen couldn’t bring Bran with him, not this time—not so soon, and not when his intentions were to make a point that couldn’t be questioned. “It will be sharp and deadly…at least for you, Elenn.” His smile gained teeth. I promised you pain. I always keep my promises, always.

“Macsen, you can’t kill my mother.”

He turned and caught Bran looking at him, wide-awake and a smirk on his face to match the tone of his words.

“How long have you been up, Bran?”

“Long enough.”

“Summer’s made you sneaky.”

Bran snickered at him. ”Like that means anything coming from you. What are you thinking? I thought you said you’d be good.”

It was Macsen’s turn to laugh. “Good? Me? Never.” He turned and took Bran into his arms. “I wasn’t really thinking about your mother, I was thinking about you. About courting you, and what her face will look like when she’s forced to acknowledge me as yours.”

Bran blinked at him. “Don’t you mean acknowledge me as yours?”

“No. It will be far worse for her to know that you have chosen me. After all, she already knows you are precious.” Macsen drew his fingers across Bran’s chest, up past his throat and tangled them into his hair. “Just like I know it.” Macsen kissed him, pressed closer. Bran was heat and eagerness in his hands, and Macsen took full advantage of his willingness to deepen the kiss, nip at his lips.

“Too soon I’ll miss you, Bran…”