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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Inspiration Is All Around

A orange moon with the silhouette of a cat in front of it.

Yesterday I posted the final installment of my first draft of my upcoming book, Tales of The Cat's Eye Gang. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least writing my first novel, not to mention blogging it as I wrote it. Unedited, with all of the grammar issues, typos, you name it. I put it out there for public consumption. I wanted to let people know what it was like to bring forth a world that scratched its way to life, inside my brain, to become a finished manuscript waiting to be edited.

Most people wonder how I think up the ideas for my stories and I have to sometimes really think about what prompted to life what became a story. That isn't the case with Tales of The Cat's Eye Gang. You see I live every day being inspired by the ones for whom the characters were created. Watching how they interact together in their daily life, helped me develop their characters in my book. This post today will be my re-introduction of the real-life counterparts to the Cat's Eye Gang.

photo of a brown tabby cat owned by author.
CeCe (CeCelia-Queen of Mithral)
CeCe is my 10-year-old brown tabby. I rescued her when she was 6 weeks old from the proverbial old cat lady who was going to lose all her cats to a shelter. I couldn't bear the thought of my baby girl starting her life in a cage. She is the queen of this household and she knows it.

Bo Jangles (Bo- Count Borjaeis)
This next member doesn't technically belong to me but we all share the same household. Bo Jangles is my brother and his family's cat. Bo's previous family moved and just kicked him out into the street to survive after giving him a life since he was a kitten. He was living on the street and had been hit by a car when a lady found him and took him to the shelter. He was sick and taking medicine when my brother discovered him. It was love at first sight for both of them. His true age is unknown, but we think he is around 7 years old.

This next member is part of what we call the Triplets. They were all born very close together and we got them within days of each other.

Neko Dubh (Neko-The Pantheri Prince)

Neko Dubh is my sanity, and at times he drives me completely nuts. I don't know how I lived so long without him. I found him at Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen, Texas and ever since that day he has calmed my turbulent soul. How a scrawny week's old kitten, who tried to climb into my purse became so important to me I have no idea. Yet he has. He is now almost 5 years old. In fact, in just a month he will be from this posting. The shelter named him Neko which means "cat" and I gave him his middle name of Dubh, which is Irish for black. So as you can see his name fits him well.

Dominic Danucci (Dominic)
Our next member of the family is the one I like to call "cotton ball fluffy butt" because it fits him so well. He is better known as Dominic Danucci. He is one of the twins and a member of the Triplets. Are you confused yet? Dominic will be five a couple days after Neko has his birthday. And just take a look at his picture and the next picture and you will see why we say twins. We had to keep different collars on them just to tell them apart at times. Although I swear Dom has bleach in his tongue because I have never seen a cat keep his white parts so white.

The last member of the gang is no longer with us. He passed away in March of last year. It completely floored the family. He was our baby. He was Dominic's twin. I still don't think Dominic is over his loss even now. I still find him searching for his bubby. He is the last of the triplets, even though he was a born a month later than Neko and Dom. They were all adopted so soon together and they were like three peas in a pod. So they were the Triplets in my book.

Donny Brasco (Donny)
Donny Brasco was a fighter. He was sick when we brought him home from the shelter but he fought and survived for almost four years. He sadly passed right before his fourth birthday. My brother and sister in law had to make the heartbreaking decision to put him to sleep rather than let him be in pain any more. I found it hard writing his character for a bit but then one day it was as I sat staring at his picture I felt inspired to create his character the way I did. He became a survivor and as always he was a fighter. This book in part is dedicated to Donny's memory because if more people faced life with his strength the world would be such a better place.

There you have the five members that started out from Cat's Eye on the Queen's Quest for the Triad. Hope you check back often or better yet subscribe to the blog so that you never miss any content. Until next time, love fully and laugh often.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Epilogue- The Triad Prophecy

The stone had returned to its normal non-glowing form and the newlings had drifted off to sleep. It took a moment for the gang to understand what had just happened. “We have been searching for a set of kits this whole time. How are we supposed to walk into the court of the Queen of Cameria and tell her that?” Bo asked as he paced around the great hall. After the stone had revealed the Triad, it had been decided it was time to leave the dead female and get away from that room fast.

“I have known Lilith my whole life, but she is not going to like this turn of events. And when I break the news to her that I am now the consort to the Queen of Mithral and everything that has happened…” Dominic handed his big brother a cup of water. Bo took a sip and finished “…I think I need to sit down.”

“You can tell your Queen nothing. You must disappear. Leave the world wondering at the mystery of what may have happened here today. The lives you have led have been training to hide the Triad. They will need to be trained and protected.” Shénmei stood in the same spot he had stood so much earlier in the day. “No one can know what the Triad is. They are powerful alone but as they grow older their powers combined will be a force to be reckoned with. They each represent the power of the Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. Raise them to respect all life.”

Shenmei had come into the room and was looking down at the sleeping kits. “They are not Felis. They are something new. You will face challenges in their upbringing, but I have faith in all of you.” He reached out his hand to Bo. “And if you truly need something to present Queen Lilith, send your friend who waits outside the fortress walls with this.” He handed Bo a rolled-up piece of parchment. The smell of old ink and time whispered up from the exchange.

Bo looked at him with a puzzled frown, “Master?” He unrolled the ancient scroll and began to read it. The sound of Dominic clearing his voice made him aware that everybody wanted to know what it said. He chuckled and shook his head. Once everyone was gathered close he began to read what it said out loud.

                                            The Triad Prophecy.

                                 In darkest night, during the waning moon.
                                 Three stars shine brightly as the morning sun.

                                 In darkness deep, labor begins to bring forth
                                 Destiny in Triad form.

                                 As three as bright as morning sun, finally
                                 Come together to become one.

                                 Then one becomes three and Triad are born.

                                 Three parts of one whole, separate, yet linked.
                                 In strife, beware the power of three.

                                 To the darkness or the light will the three lean.
                                 Questions circle round; as the sounds of time flow away.

                                 A choice to make, a decision thrice made.
                                 One way leads to Glory, the other to Doom.

While the gang had been learning the prophecy, Shénmei had not been idle. He had clothed the kits in special outfits befitting the day of their birth. Small jeweled had been sewn into the embroidery on the tunics that the males wore and was copied on the female’s dress. He tucked them warmly under their blankets. They in response were cooing up at him. He looked up when he heard Bo finish the prophecy.

“You need to decide what you wish to do with that. You have a long journey ahead too many know where you are now. I will open a portal and send you somewhere safe to protect you and the young ones. Remember to stay hidden until they have learned some control. They are too vulnerable right now.” He moved away from the newlings and began the incantation to form the portal.

Bo rolled the prophecy back up and looked at the others.  “What do you think? Give this to Nilla and her band, let them have the credit for finding it. I think that would be the best. We know what it says, and this gives the prophecy to the world. Remember, someone wanted to keep it hidden.” He waited for the gang’s answer. They gave it to him by turning and heading over to the basket that held their future. He shook his head in agreement and ran out to tell the band of thieves the news.

The portal was open and Neko waited for him until he came back inside. “Is it done?” he asked. Bo closed his cloak tighter around himself and nodded. “You go on. I will take up the rear.” He didn’t give Bo a chance to say no but pushed him into the rotating, shifting energy.
He turned to Shénmei, “will we see you again, master?” he said softly to the ancient Felis.

Shénmei studied the young Pantheri prince and thought of the road he was about to walk down. “I cannot say for sure, but rest assured, my prince, I will not leave you without guidance. Now hurry. My strength wavers.” Neko rested his hand on the mystic’s frail shoulder before turning towards the portal. He headed towards it wondering what the future held in store for all the members of The Cat’s Eye Gang. The portal closed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Awakening The Triad

a group of warrior cats standing at the ready.

Dominic shrugged his shoulders as he walked past his twin, “who are we to disobey a prince? Let’s do this!”

Everyone fell in behind the twins. The room beyond the great hall turned out to be a sitting room, but the cries led them towards one door after another. It was at, one point, Azereus stopped to take into account where they were in the fortress.  He realized that they should now be in the rear of the fortress and below the level they had come in on. The hallways had become narrower and the steps steeper. The plaintive cries were now heartbreaking to hear. Somewhere there was someone in pain.

Neko stopped suddenly and was successfully rear-ended by the line of people following him. They all began grumbling about sudden stops and such when he raised his hand for silence. “Wait! Shush… Listen to me. Why are we looking for someone crying? We are looking for the Triad. It is something that destroys the world. Why would something that can destroy us be crying in pain? Wouldn’t it just destroy what caused its pain?”

He watched as the others contemplated his words, “maybe this is a trap. Maybe it is meant to draw us away from the Triad. Did you consider that?” The others were shaking their heads in agreement. “We are going down into the dungeon levels of the fortress. Shouldn’t a prize like the Triad be somewhere locked in a tower or something?”

CeCe turned to scan where they were now. It was a small antechamber that at one time might have been used to mix herbal remedies. She walked towards a table on which stood a cabinet with rows of tiny drawers. She reached up to rub away the dust of centuries only to have the label crumble under her fingers. Opening the drawer, she swept her finger inside and then brought it to her nose. Whatever had once filled it had long since lost its smell.

She walked towards a small window in the back of the room and pushed aside the burlap scrap that covered it. Outside she could hear the screech of seagulls and the crashing of waves on the shore. She remembered that the back side of Black Barrow faced the sea. It was a defensive decision so that anyone attacking would have to battle the sharp rocks and rugged cliffs to reach the castle walls. She knew by how close the sea was that they were not far from sea level. It made her wonder if there were any chambers further below the tide line. “What if whoever cries is protecting the Triad? Maybe they have been injured in the duty. What say you Master Shénmei?” She swept her gaze around those gathered and only then did she notice that the mystic and his companion had disappeared. “Where did they go?” she questioned the group.

Bo went to the door of the room and leaned out to check out in the hall. “They’re not out here. Damn the old one. Why is it when you need him he is never around?” Bo straightened his scabbard and walked out into the hall. “If it is a trap, we’ll deal with it. But my gut is telling me to keep going so let’s find out who is doing this damnable crying.” He started off and the rest hurried to keep up with him.

The gang had found the dungeon and as their feet had touched upon the slightly muddy floor, the cries had become screams. Everyone began searching inside the cells that littered this level of the fortress. There seemed to be a routine to the screams as if the person was in pain but the pain ebbed and flowed. As each member came across another, they began to form into a loose pack. There was a moment of silence which was un-nerving after the wailing that they had been listening to for so long.

Soon they had all grouped up again and were heading down a slender hallway, the sound of the waves crashing grew louder. Neko stopped and tilted his head. “Guys, listen, do you hear something weird? I mean it is hard to hear because it comes and goes but I can’t figure out what the sound is.” He looked around at each person waiting for them to give him an answer to his question.

No one could answer his question, so they kept walking towards the sound of the sea. The screams broke off and then the cries changed at first it was one single voice, then a second, following soon after by a third. The main voice had yet to scream again.

They soon approached an arched entryway that led into a cave. At one end the seafoam adorned the rocks littering the entrance from the beach. There were sconces scattered around the area, the lit candles flickering in the breeze coming in from the outside. On an inner wall was a fireplace in which a fire burned low. It did nothing to warm the cool air brought in by the gaping mouth of the cave.

Not far from the fire lay a bed of huge pillows covered with woolen blankets. In the center of the bed was the body of a young Felis female. CeCe rushed over to the bed but it was apparent that she had already passed to the next incarnation, sadly it appeared to be her final one. The males drifted around the room wondering where the other voices crying had come from. There was no one in the chamber that they could see.

A digital drawing of a cave in the cliffs by the sea.
Bo had walked to the mouth of the cave and saw that there was a blanket that was used to block the wind. He lifted it to where a hook had been driven into the stone wall. He could not shake the sense of sorrow weighing down on him when he thought of the female. They hadn’t been in time to save her and they hadn’t found the Triad either. Where had the ancient mystic disappeared to? He jerked around when he heard CeCe’s sound of exclamation. “What is it, my love?” He shouted.

CeCe had been pulling a cover up to cover the face of the dead female and studying what could have killed her. It was all too apparent that she had been pregnant, but where were her kits? She stood up and circled to the other side of the bed and her foot encountered something. A cacophony of sound rose throughout the room, as she looked down into a large basket of hairless kits. “Oh! Sweet Goddess! What is wrong with them?” she spoke out in a slightly hysterical voice.

She bent down and picked up the basket. She put it on the bed and then sat down beside it. The mother was forgotten in her concern for the kits. She reached out and touched the hand of the closest one, he clutched a hold of her fingers with a surprisingly strong grip. His cries stopped as he watched her. The female stopped her cries to study CeCe also. The third still whimpered but was slowly quieting.

“What breed are they, I wonder?” CeCe mused more to herself than to anyone else in the room. They have no fur, but there is the desert tribe that is hairless. No these are different. Look at their ears. They are blunt and shaped all wrong.” She looked up at Bo when he came to stand beside her.

A photo of newborn babies wrapped in pink, blue and gold blankets.
Bo looked down into the basket and then took one of the hands of the closest kit. He examined the lack of claws that every kit was born with. He had never met a new mother who didn’t complain of the needle-sharp newborn claws of her kits. These were not claws gracing the kits hands but a soft flimsy tissue of some sort. “How are they supposed to survive without claws or fur?” The female had turned her head toward him when he had spoken. He was shocked at her strange eyes.

Neko and the twins had joined them by the bed and were, in turn, checking out the newborn kits. None of them had seen a freshly born kit, but it was Neko who shivered and thought to cover the poor furless creatures. CeCe smiled up at her brother for his kindness.

“Hey guys, Maybe, we should bring the little ones and find the Triad. It is after all why we are here.” He rubbed his hand up and down his arms trying to ward off the chill he felt still even with the blanket blocking the wind.

“You need search no longer for what you seek. The Triad is within your grasp if you need further proof remove the Heart and all will see.” The voice of the Ancient Mystic echoed off the chamber walls. CeCe reached into her herbal pouch and pulled forth the velvet bag where she hid the Eye. She pulled the drawstrings to open the bag but could already see what the old one was talking about. The jewel was glowing, it cast her face in shadow as she reached in to remove it from the bag.

She stood and held the stone up, waiting for something to happen. The stone just continued to glow a happy bright blue. “What if you walk around. Maybe it will change color, or the Triad will respond to it.” Donny said from where he stood against the far wall next to the head of the bed.

As soon as she started to walk away from the basket where the triplets lay, the stone turned an angry red and the kits began to fuss. CeCe turned back towards the makeshift cradle and the stone resumed its happy blue glow. “I think it like the newlings, watch.” She took a step away from the basket and the stone once more changed to a fiery red. When she returned it near the small creatures in their swaddle of colorful blankets. The stone resumed its happy glow. She didn’t notice that her hand had dropped close to the three until as one they reached their hands towards the stone.

The moment three hands touched the stone, it lit up engulfing the room in a light even brighter than the one that had gifted them with their powers. Sparks bounced around where the kits hands touched the Heart of Cameria and they began to glow softly as their power was awakened. The Cat’s Eye Gang now understood why they were called the Guardians. The Triad was the odd triplets with stars in their eyes.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Beginning Of The End

Before you begin the next installment of The Tales of The Cat's Eye Gang, I just wanted to let you know that I have completed the book and instead of stretching the suspense out over three weeks I am going to post a new installment for the next couple days until we have reached the final moment. I hope you enjoy the revelations to be found in the coming days. Enjoy.

A cat warrior in the middle of a battle.

The remainder of Amerak’s men watched their master leave them behind. They had no idea what he was babbling about or who he was speaking to. Slowly they realized they were now left at the mercy of the ones that Amerak had told them were weak and that they would easily beat. As each guard came to this realization they made quick on their retreat. The gang watched them go.

Dominic ran over to where Donny stood. “Dude, you did it. Did you see the old guy run away with his tail between his legs? I wonder what spirit visited him? Or with all his evil deeds, Wow! It could’ve been a bunch of them. You okay, twin?” Dominic knew he was rambling, but he had to expend some of the adrenaline racing through his blood. He hadn’t noticed he was circling around Donny until Donny reached out and stopped him.

“Will you chill? I don’t know what was sent to him. All I know is that whatever or whoever it was must have scared him. And that old mages voice is gone from inside my head.” Donny rubbed his head to emphasize the area of pain. “It has been non-stop badgering me since I walked near the fortress.” Donny scanned the area checking on the others. “Was anyone hurt?”

Dominic joined his brother in studying the weary Felis’. “Nah, I don’t think so. Maybe a bump or bruise here and there, but other than that nothing that a touch of CeCe’s hand won’t cure.”

“Hey, why don’t we save my sister’s strength for when it’s really needed. A bump or bruise won’t kill ya.” Neko said as he came up behind Dom and clamped his hands on his shoulders. Occasionally, a blue spark would spring to life and blaze for a second before extinguishing as if it had never been there. A sign of Neko’s still agitated state. “I hate that the old bastard got away. He was lucky this time, but we will meet again.”

Neko began to walk towards the rickety old cage. He wondered at who he would find inside. He came up beside the rusted metal and peered inside. He drew back in confusion to find it empty. “Why would he bring an empty cage through a portal, that must have used a lot of magic? Wonder what he used it for?” He asked no one. He circled it until he reached the door and found it unlocked. His foot kicked something underneath the wagon and he bent to see what it was. “Well, whatever was locked inside isn’t anymore, if you go by the lock I just found.” He began to study the dry packed earth searching for footprints.

female warrior cat with swords in battle stance.
He had started to follow the prints when Rauwyn came running up to the once gilded cage. “Nilla! Are you here? Where is my sister?” she cried. She tore open the door and scrambled inside looking for any trace of her diminutive sister. Zirede had followed at a more sedate pace having already seen the cage was empty. Rauwyn looked up at her mate, “Where is my sister?”

Rauwyn knelt in the doorway of the cage and her mate drew her into his arms. “I don’t know, love. We will find her, and we will never let that beast touch either of you again. Come now. Out of this filthy thing.” He lifted his mate free from the dirty blood encrusted straw that littered the bottom of the cage.

The others had found their way over to the wagon when Rauwyn was spun out of Zirede’s arms and embraced. “Sister, I am here. I am okay. Are you okay? How are you feeling?” Nilla realized she was babbling and took a moment to catch her breath. Rauwyn pulled her back in for another hug before pushing her away to look at her. She looked down at herself and understood the deep frown that now graced her sister’s beautiful face.

“What happened to you? Where are you hurt?” Rauwyn exclaimed. She began examining Nilla and Nilla batted at her hands as she tried to explain the blood stains on her smock.

“I’m okay, sis. Stop! That crazy wizard sliced me to make me bleed on a stone. It appears worse than it is.” She held up the hand in question and began to unwrap the makeshift bandage. “See.” She held it close under Rauwyn’s nose. Rauwyn wrinkled her nose and drew back away from the injury. “I’m okay.” Nilla said before grabbing her sister in a big bear hug.

“Ew, you smell terrible. Maybe we can continue this once you wash the stink of prison off you.” Rauwyn joked, but by the way, she stepped back away from her embrace Nilla could tell there was much truth in her comment. “I am a tad confused though? How did Amerak locate the main group, I was nowhere near where the portal opened? It opened almost on top of the Queen.”

“I think I may know the answer to your query, young one.” Rauwyn glanced over to see the ancient mystic walking towards them. He had a handsome young male assisting him in walking. She couldn’t shake the feeling she knew him from somewhere but couldn’t quite place where. The old male continued. “A bloodstone’s power is to sniff out, if you will, the freshest blood tie to that which triggered it; if not the actual owner of the triggering blood.” Here he stopped as he took notice of the rest of the guardians and thieves gathering around.

“I would make a guess that the blood that coats the young queen’s boots is not hers?” When he saw her shake her head in assent, he continued with his explanation. “The blood used to power the stone was attracted to the freshest bled. As you my dear appear in good health, I would assume you no longer have the wounds that caused the blood to my queen’s footwear.” He paused to let what he was saying to sink in. And was not surprised when the boisterous twin jumped into the conversation.

“Oh! I get it. Miss Rauwyn don’t have any open wounds, so she doesn’t have any fresh blood for the stone to go to. Cool…well not so cool for you, CeCe, but still cool.” Dominic bent to take a closer look at the blood stains on CeCe’s boots. “You do realize that those boots are totally ruined, right?” he said before standing up and studying the male who was standing at the ancient one’s elbow. “Do I know you? I feel like I know you.”

An archer who has jumped while aiming his bow.
Dominic’s question was interrupted by the mystic. “You must make haste inside. The time of the Triad is nigh,” he waited for those assembled to say something, but all were quiet. “Go, now!” He admonished, pushing Neko towards the castle entrance. “Your destiny begins, go and accept it.” Neko looked down at the gnarled appendage that was pushing him with surprising strength. He opened his mouth to speak but Shénmei would not listen.

The guardians entered single file into the shadowed great hall. As they entered they fanned out on guard for what they couldn’t say. The air seemed to breathe in unison with them. Small slivers of sunlight filtered through the arrow slits, that posed as windows in the outer halls above. The hall itself was round with the place where the Lord's table had stood only holding broken rotted timber. Scattered around the room was evidence of the once flourishing castle now in ruin.

As Bo walked closer to the grand fireplace, his boots kicked up tattered and mildewed scraps of what had once been vibrant floor rugs. Now as he moved he left a cloud of dust and rotted string in his path. He held his hand up to cover his sensitive nose, but it was too late, and he began to sneeze violently. When he finally was able to catch his breath, he noticed that accusatory eyes were cast in his direction. “What?” he whispered.

It was as if the very castle held its breath waiting for something to happen. Bo saw Neko jump and then he caught the sound. It was faint, but it sounded like a low wail. He turned trying to figure out in what direction it came from. The others had noticed it now and were doing the same. He was a bit surprised when he saw that the thieves were not with them. He moved to where he stood by Amerak. “Where are the others?” he asked.

Amerak took a moment from trying to locate the sound of crying he was listening to. “What? Oh. They decided to stay outside and stand guard in case you know who comes back. If you ask me. I think they are too scared to come inside. Hell, I’m questioning my own sanity for coming in here.” He turned in the direction he thought the sound was coming from only to hear it in the other direction once he had turned. “Where the hell is that blasted crying coming from? It is driving me crazy.”

Bo shook his head because he could figure it out either. “Maybe that is what happened to the lost travelers. They come in and become bewitched searching for the one crying and die never having found the source.” He gave Az a look of chagrin. They both chuckled and went back to searching for the direction to take to find the answer to their mystery.

Neko had followed the plaintive sound towards the grand stairs that led to the upper floors, he had one foot on the first step getting ready to go up when he spotted the ancient mystic and his companion heading towards a door hidden off in a corner. When the mystic opened the door, he heard the cries crescendo. He ran towards where the two stood in the doorway.

“Hey, it’s this way. C’mon lets ’s find out what this Triad thing is. Follow me.” He didn’t wait to see anyone followed, all that was left was some tufts of black fur intermixed with the stirred-up decay of the castle.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Demons & Ghosts

Drawing by sandara.deviantart.com

The gang watched from their places of concealment as a small scouting party was the first to exit the shifting iridescent portal.  They could see sparks of wild magic spark once in awhile evidence to the wizard on the other side. The scouts spread out before giving the signal for the rest of the party to exit. The sound of weapons scraping against leather preceded the appearance of the elite of Amerak’s guard. A wheeled cage came after the men exited followed by the creator of the portal. Signs of weariness showed on Amerak’s face as he allowed the portal to close.

The guards began ranging out, with a few staying to protect their master. It wasn’t long before they discovered the hiding places of the gang. The sounds of battle began to echo in the shadow of the fortress walls.

Dominic had yet to be discovered as he had climbed to a high vantage point from which to shoot his arrows. He found his spot and turned to watch his family fighting against the mercenaries which made up Amerak’s personal guard. Bo and Azereus stood back to back in the age-old stance of brother knights. Dominic marveled at the way they worked in perfect harmony, honed from years of fighting together. Neko was protecting CeCe as she used her gift to drain the fighters around her. Dominic could see the faintest blue aura coming from his friend. He watched as Neko moved in a dance of death for all who came against him.

He notched an arrow to his bow praying to the goddess to guide his aim. He drew back the arrow just as one of the guards snuck up behind Bumbles. The slightest twang sounded as he released the arrow, sending it straight into his enemy’s heart. Bumbles turned quickly to watch the guard fall from the arrow that still quivered from striking him in the back. He looked up and gave a salute to Dominic before lifting his battle ax to smash it into the skull of his opponent. He took a moment to use his foot against the chest of his victim to work lose the ax which had embedded itself into the guard’s cranium. He brought it up just in time to swing it at an oncoming foe. He smiled at the satisfying sounds of crunching bone as the ax caught the guard beneath his chin, snapping his head back.

Dominic searched for Donny in the melee. Where was he? Hadn’t he just been standing at the great doors that opened into the castle? Had he gone inside or was he somewhere out of Dom’s eyesight? “Dammit! Where are you twin?” He whispered as he started to climb from his vantage point.

Amerak stood in wait for his energy to return, it always took so much for him to open portals large enough for his men to go through. He seriously was beginning to consider finding an apprentice. Let him be the one weak as a kit. He studied the fighters taking note that the little thief’s band had joined with the guardians. Fools! They had joined the wrong side. He tried to send a bolt of energy towards the tall black and white-furred male thief closest to him. He frowned when it fizzled without ever taking form. Why was his energy not recovering?

CeCe followed some instinct that told her where she needed to direct her absorption power. She was not surprised when she felt a surge of magic and spied Amerak trying to use his power. She began to siphon his energy, the wildness of his power almost choked her. She tasted his madness as if it were the finest wine. As her own power grew, she began to direct the siphoning at more of his soldiers. She took joy in the feeling of watching as their bodies grew lethargic from her drawing from them.

She didn’t notice that Neko was fighting in concert with her power. Each soldier she drew from became his latest target. Soon they began to have a ring of broken bodies circling around where they stood. Neko was now in full Pantheri battle mode. The blue nimbus pulsing as an attached shadow to him. He didn’t notice as Dominic climbed down from a close outbuilding. Dominic, on the other hand, stopped once he hit the ground and stood with his mouth agape watching the two working in concert.

Donny stood in the shadow of the castle wall. He was paralyzed by the paroxysm of pain caused by the voice in his head. It had begun ranting as soon as Amerak had strolled from his portal. He reached up to rub at the pain that had started pulsing right between his eyes. He felt nauseous. How the hell did the voice in his brain expect him to do anything when even the slightest movement made him feel like he was going to pass out.

While Donny tried to control the weakness, he felt. He slumped to the ground putting his hands over his ears like that would make the voice stop. “Not now, old one. I need to help my family. Guide me in what I should do. Don’t go crazy where I can understand anything you say.” Donny removed his hands from his ears as if that would be the indication to his uninvited guest to shut the hell up. Within seconds he had put his hands back. He didn’t notice though, that the old mage’s voice was calming down.

Amerak finally had taken notice of how his guards were dwindling in numbers. The thieves had joined with the guardians and as a group, they stood strong against his remaining soldiers. He saw something blue and had to reach up and rub his eyes because he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. He had killed the last of the Pantheri. First, he had killed the Pantheri King with his own hands. He still remembered the satisfaction he felt as his sword had penetrated the King’s heart. Later when the infant son had appeared at the Mithralian court he had made sure he had joined the Mithralian royal family in their fiery death. And yet he knew what he was seeing was the Pantheri battle glow. And only those of royal blood produced the glow.

Amerak studied the Pantheri noting the similarities to the King. How did the infant survive the blaze? He let his gaze sweep the group and cursed under his breath when he discovered how the prince had lived. Standing with the shield that if he remembered correctly was, in fact, the Guardian’s Shield was his cousin, Azereus. Amerak stopped breathing when his gaze caught sight of her. “No, no. It can’t be. She is dead. She must be dead.”

His mind couldn’t accept the fact that CeCelia was alive, while his beloved Astyr was gone. The whole plan was to eliminate the whole royal family so there would be no one else to claim the throne when the queen was dead. Unfortunately, events had transpired against him and Astyr had perished in the inferno that destroyed the city of Mithral. Now here stood the one person that could ruin everything.

Drawing on his anger, and hate he reached deep within himself to build the strength to kill CeCelia, he would make certain that both she and the guardians all paid the price for his heartbreak. The spell he began to invoke caused the dust of the ancient fortress to chase around his feet like small devils. He paid no attention to the single male off to the side clutching his head. “Well if it isn’t my beloved niece, CeCelia, she has risen from the grave. How did you survive my dear? And I see you saved the Pantheri brat as well. Give it up, Guardians. You will not win, not while I hold the mystic. He alone knows the true words of the prophecy and I will have those words.”

Amerak sent the dust devils flying towards CeCe, as they got closer to her they had picked up all the stray debris in their path. When they were right upon CeCe and the ones closest to her, Amerak sent a surge a raw power to impale her with all the various rocks, pieces of glass, and other refuse picked up along the way. In the cloud, the guardians could feel all his loathing and hatred. It ate at them as badly as the debris pelting their bodies.

Inside the cage, Shénmei rose and motioned Nilla to join him. When she came over to where he stood, he asked, “can you pick this lock, little thief?”  Nilla reached through the bars to study the lock that held them imprisoned. She turned to look around the floor of the cage hoping to find something that would work as a pick.

Her gaze fell on the face of the apprentice and she looked quickly away from his shocking visage. She had no time to wonder at what she saw. “If I can find a nail or bit of wire, anything that I can work the mechanism with, then I can get us out of here.” She stirred through the straw that was scattered on the floor hoping that a nail had worked loose from the worn cage. She startled when she felt a hand on her arm. She looked up at the apprentice and then quickly looked down at what he held in his hand. “That will work.” She said as she crossed back to the door and set about picking the huge lock.

CeCe couldn’t believe that the battle had changed so quickly. One moment they had been doing great. The next moment found them being attacked by dirt?? She lifted her hands to protect her eyes from the stinging grit being flung at her. She worked to pull her scarf up to cover her mouth and nose. She noticed the others doing the same. She finally got it pulled up and then turned her attention towards her uncle. Closing her eyes, she reached deep within herself as her hand felt around in her pouch for the Eye.

The debris cloud had lifted CeCe and was moving her away from the group, Amerak had beads of sweat popping out on his brow from his intense concentration. If only he could get her close enough to kill. What would her friends do with the loss of the little queen? He saw her reaching into her pouch and wondered at what she could have that could be of any help to her. The sunlight glinted off the jewel momentarily blinding him. “No! It cannot be! How does she have The Eye of Mithral? No one has seen it for centuries.”  The dust devils dissipated on his break in concentration. CeCe’s feet settled once more upon the cracked dried ground.

Just as CeCe lifted the stone, Nilla heard a satisfying click in the lock. She pulled it off and flung it to the ground. “Quickly now. We must get away before he turns his attention to us once more.” She beckoned the two mystics to go ahead of her and once they were free, she dropped down to the ground beside them. She looked around for a place to hide and caught sight of Rauwyn motioning her from the entrance to a shed. She reached over and touched the elder on the arm. “Master, my sister waits over yonder. We can be safe there.”

Donny stood his mind clear now. The ancient voice of Driekor was calm as he instructed him in what to do to end the battle and strike fear in Amerak’s heart. Donny left the shadow of the building his steps getting more confident as he went. He lifted the Spector’s Staff and began the chant to release the spirits. He paid small notice to CeCe lifting the Eye at the same time. Amerak paid him no attention his eyes were locked on the stone held tightly in her hand.

“Papa, papa…” Amerak spun around at the sound of a voice long silent. “Where are you, papa? I am all alone”, the voice cried. Amerak felt a cold chill run down his spine as he saw his daughter walking towards him.

“No, no! You’re not real. You can’t be real. My Astyr, why?” Amerak wept. He turned away from what he knew couldn’t be his daughter but felt as if he betrayed her by shunning her appearance. He closed his eyes praying that when he opened them, she would be just a thing of his imagination.  He turned back towards the guardian’s intent on proving the apparition false. Slowly he opened one eye, when he saw just the bewildered group before him he let out the breath he had been holding. In a flash, the ghost of his daughter appeared in front of him. She was so close he could see the detail in the embroidery on the neckline of her gown. “Papa! Why did you hurt me?”, she said in her sweet voice. He watched the tears slip down her cheeks as she sobbed his name over and over.

Amerak had to get away. “Oh Astyr, my darling, I never meant for you to get hurt. Please forgive me.” He cried as he worked to build a portal to his fortress. “I cannot come to you my love, I need to finish what I began. Please find your peace.” A small portal began to coalesce behind him, he turned and ran to it. Just before he entered he turned one last time to see the accusation written on his daughter’s face.

Friday, January 26, 2018

One Step Closer

picture of a fantasy cat creature

“The time draws near, make haste.” The sentence kept echoing in Donny’s mind as he crossed the threshold of the fortress. He cringed, waiting for something evil to reach out and grab him. When nothing happened, he let out the breath he had been holding. The repeated litany of the voice in his head urged him further towards the great doors that opened into the castle. He looked up at the size wondering why they made such big doors on castles if they wanted to keep people out.

Looking back towards the gate, he saw that the group was all standing there like they were waiting for something to grab him or whatever. Shaking his head, he motioned that he was okay before shouting the same. “Come on in, it is all clear!” he yelled. He thought about acting like he was being attacked but feared what the others would do. Now wasn’t the time to play jokes. He felt the urging of the staff to enter the castle, but he wanted the others with him when that happened.

He turned back towards the castle as he waited for the others. “The time draws near, make haste.” The voices whispered. Donny wished he could shake the litany that was beginning to get on his nerves.

“I don’t know what needs to be done in such a hurry. The Triad will still be here no matter how fast we find it. So, let up on my poor ears, old dudes.” He figured if they could talk to him, he might as well talk back to them. It couldn’t hurt.

Bo saw Donny motion that all was clear, but he still was leery about entering the place that had killed his father.
“Come on, let’s get this over with. I want to see what it is that we have been searching for.” Neko interjected as he walked past Bo. “If it bothers you this much, why don’t you stay out here and guard the gate.”

Bo leveled a glare at Neko’s back as he walked through the gates. “And let you have all the fun? Not likely. I began this quest and I will finish it. I just needed a moment.”

“Yeah, yeah, move it or lose it, big brother. I am ready to get inside and do some exploring. Stop blocking the way.” Dominic said as he shoved him a bit to the left as he followed Neko. “Are you coming, guys?” He called back to the others.
a picture of a fortress gate.

Zirede glanced toward where Rauwyn had been standing with the queen. He didn’t see her so made his way to where CeCe stood. “Are you going in soon, my queen?” he questioned her. “Where did my mate disappear too?”

CeCe startled at the graveled voice of the large male. “I wish you would just call me CeCe. I don’t feel much like a queen wearing the same clothes I’ve had on for a couple of days, not to mention the dirt and grime that must be covering me.” She stopped to look around. “Your mate was just here with me, but I don’t know where she went.”

Zirede cursed under his breath, “I feared this would happen. She has gone off by herself to keep Amerak from locating the rest of us. She fears her blood bond with her sister will endanger all of us.” He swept his gaze around the area trying to see which way she might have gone. He studied the ground hoping to see some sign of her passage.

“Diewen, get your rear over here!” Zirede yelled.  Diewen had just reached the threshold of the fortress when he heard his name. Lifting his hand, he motioned that he had heard. He started sprinting back towards the black and white-furred male.

“What’s up, boss?” Diewen asked as he ran up beside Zirede. He glanced down at the footprints left in the slowly melting snow. “She did it, didn’t she? She is trying to protect all of us. As if it wouldn’t be apparent to the old bastard where we are.”

Zirede looked at the wiry Felis before admitting, “Yeah, I think she is still not completely back from her illness. She isn’t thinking straight. We need to find her before she gets hurt.” He motioned for Diewen to follow as he started following his mate’s footsteps before they were lost in the slush of the sun warmed snow.

The rest of the gang had joined Donny inside the grounds of the fortress. CeCe glanced back at where the two thieves were moving away following what must be Rauwyn’s trail. “Should we wait for the others to join us?” She asked the gathered group.

Bo looked back in the direction that CeCe was looking and shook his head no. “They know where we are, I am sure they will rejoin us soon. The female couldn’t have gotten far in her weakened state.”

What no one had thought about was that while treating Rauwyn’s injuries some of her blood had gotten on CeCe’s boots. With Rauwyn’s injuries healed, the freshest blood was on CeCe. Especially after Rauwyn was changed into a clean outfit not covered in blood and infection. Bloodstone magic was inconsistent and so even though Rauwyn was alive, the stone would zero in on the freshest scent. None of the group was prepared when a portal began to form not far from where they stood.

They all watched in astonishment as the portal kept growing bigger. Some of them had never seen a portal so big. There were two that had and after a moments startle, they looked at each other and at the same time yelled “Battle portal!! Take cover! Arm yourselves.” As they each bolted away to take cover where they could.

At Bo and Azereus’ shout, the rest of the group moved quickly to find their own place of cover from the portal which had solidified enough for the first invaders to cross into the courtyard of the ancient fortress. At the sounds of armored troops Zirede, Diewen and Rauwyn came running. All Rauwyn kept thinking was how had they appeared so close to the main group.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Time Flies

Many different clocks

I find it amazing how fast time flies these days. It is like 2017 just started and now here we are a new year and what a year is in store for me as well as for my readers. We will be finishing my manuscript of The Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang in the coming months and I will begin writing a sister piece to giveaway. Great things are planned for 2018, and I hope you follow me on my way to completing my first book.

Today I wanted to just let all of my readers know that there will be a new installment to The Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang coming on Friday, January 26,2018. I am sorry for being away from posting and I hope the continuation of my manuscript posts will make up for the lost time.

We are entering the final stage of the story. Soon we shall see what the gang has been searching for and then what? Will they decide to become the guardians of the Triad or will they choose to return to their old lives in Cat’s Eye? You will have to keep reading to find out these answers.

I have begun the thought dumping and planning process for the next story. It is how Bo and CeCe met and what happened to draw them together. This will be a short story and will be available to all who subscribe to my mailing list. More information will be posted when the time comes.

As I work on completing my first draft of Tales of The Cat’s Eye Gang, I hope you choose to continue with me on my journey. Until Friday, love fully and laugh often.