Duty’s Song

Current Reading:   Winter of the World – Ken Follet

Current Listening:   World’s on Fire – Sarah Mclachlan

Business before pleasure, they say.  Forgive my radio silence,  illness and writer’s block are craptacular combinations.   Writer’s block is a rarity for me but when it arrives, it goes whole hog.  Book 6,  Guardian’s Redemption,  is wanting to start writing itself before its appointed hour. (Read: November 1 for those of you unfamiliar with my writing habits)  I’m also trying to give myself time to appreciate that I just published my –fifth- book.    I did not think in 2012  when I published Birth of Light that the series would have a longevity like this.  I published my first book just to see if I could.  Just because it sounded like a good idea at the time.  Still, here we are.  That is, in part what I think the release party is about.  Celebrating the moment as much as the new book’s release.  FIVE books, holy shit.   What is your favorite “Oh, hell, I did that” moment?

With that being said,   I hope to see the lot of you on my author page on October 1 at 7:30 EST for the Shadow’s Journey cover reveal.   We are now 21 days from release day and preparations may become a madcap hurry. Illness has a way of delaying our best intentions. I am happy to say though I’m on the mend.  I hope, also, to see you at the release party at Gathering Volumes on October 15 from 2-5.   The little bit below is for a character you all will meet Guardian’s Redemption.    By the way   readers,  brownie points to anyone who can tell me who that title MIGHT be about.  You have met her on the blog and this is a continuation of her story.  Ladies and gents,  Emma Jacobs.

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Duty’s song was as relentless as her brother’s pursuit.  Emma reflected with a forlorn smile.  Below her, fire stood stark against the darkness.  Their childhood home was gone. Through tears, she watched the house burn.  Hues of orange, white and red lit the night sky.

Her dreams as of late remained persistant. IN a way those dreams saved her life tonight.  She was awake for their assault.  The idiots tripped the wards at the edge of her land.  Those wards served to warn her  but,  in truth, she had no offensive magic in her arsenal.  Her hazel eyes flashed fire as she watched the structure collapsed.  Emma had enough time to gather her wits, provisions for her journey and her family dagger.  She knew she had to run but the thought saddened her all the same.

Her horse was saddled and she was off before the men even realized their quarry was gone. They thought to flush her out in the blaze.  Perhaps now,  Emma mused, she could finally have peace.  Emma doubted the truth to that thought. The men could report that she died in the fire but her brother would know. Her twin would know.  “Did you send them Edward?”  She whispered as her heart bled.  In her heart, she felt like her whole life had just been upended.  “Did you cause this chaos that has destroyed everything we have ever known?”  A cool night wind dried her tears. She ached to open the mental door between them.  Fate above, she missed him more than she could put word to. Yet,   that dark pulse still lingered in the south when she opened her sense.  Duty called her and, at some point, she suspected she would reunite with him. Fate could only hope he had not destroyed whatever chance they had of rebuilding their lives.

Madryn’s book bled through the Mornesse. Even at this distance,  Emma could feel it like a dark stain upon the realm.  The magic pulsed through the land. Emma scowled. Why did her fellow royals leave the book when they ended the war?  Her hazel eyes shadowed.  The answer was simple because her question belonged to a child who knew nothing of Fate’s grace.

“Because our world, like all things, must have balance. The pulse you feel through the land is because the Light has left us.” Her grandmother’s teachings rang through her ears.  Emma could almost feel the  gentle rap of a walking stick against the back of her head.  Sarina Starson  favored the stick later in life as age crumpled her slender figure.  Emma pushed the thought away and wiped her eyes.

With strength to the east; Duty will guide thee home  Duty lay to the east, her heart to the south.  “What good has Fate’s balance brought me and mine?”  She growled and turned her horse from the scene below her. The ridge had offered her cover and time to say goodbye.  Now she must get on with what the Light called her to do.  She just watched her home, her life go up in flames.  She supposed she had nowhere to go but up.  She could no longer hide so perhaps it was time to fight.  Her reluctance lingered for but a moment.  “Ignoring it will not change Fate’s requirement of you,  Em.”  Her grandmother murmured again. This time she would swear she felt the rap of that blasted stick.

Emma kicked her horse forward.  Fate guide me.  The blessing left her mind laced with the light of holy.  The power flex was minor but Edward would hear.  In that moment, the wall between them faded.  Her eyes flashed gold as his head snapped up.  Fate bless thee, Edward Jacobs.  The whisper and power’s push was minor. Enough to make him aware of her survival and to remind him of what waited.  Their mother blessed them in this manner every night.  Emma added the warmth of her love for him before she closed the door again.  Soon enough, she suspected, she would blow the wall between them to smithereens. Duty called her. What lay ahead she could only guess.

 

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Turn and face the strange.

Current Listening:  “Eternal” – Evanescence

Current Reading:    Catherine the Great : Portrait of a Woman – Robert K. Massie

So, a few housekeeping updates for those of you that have not poked around the site.  Yes,  I updated and rearranged a little.   On the right you can now see my twitter feed and click to like my Facebook page.  So I made it a little easier for those of you who follow this blog to see what else I am up to.   Also, for those of you that have not subscribed to the newsletter and may be interested in Nicholas’ story, current events and a fun little thing called Sandra’s Corner,  I have added the newsletter archives to the top menu above.  Go check it out.  If you like it, click the subscribe link up top.   Please feel free to contact me with questions or feedback on the new design.

Also,  a few countdowns of note:

3 Days until Vacation

8 days until GenCon 50

67 Days until Shadow’s Journey release party.

Now, for those of you itching for the cliffhanger with Lily Eisen,  by all means…here goes.

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“Easy Lils.”  Jaylor’s voice crooned in her ears as he caught her and eased their descent.  He shifted his body so he would protect her from gravity’s inevitable impact.  “Go for your emergency gem.  Calm…that’s my girl.” He murmured as a patient parent would to a child facing a difficult lesson.  “Focus. Trigger.”  Jaylor’s tones were gentle and soon enough the weight of her body against his was gone.   Emergency gems ,  when activated,  all were created to send the users to the same place.  With a flex of his element, Jaylor slowed his descent with the night wind and then vanished before he hit the ground.

Marcus Jade was pacing the room when Lily appeared in his sister’s chamber.  Alexandra tutted his overprotective streak and guided the shaken woman to a chair before her brother pounced upon her person to assure himself of her safety.   Alexandra settled before Lily, meeting the girl’s green eyes with her own sea-shaded gaze.  Lily trembled and before she voiced her first thought, Alexandra assured her on gentle tones. “Jaylor will join us shortly. All emergency gems are built to bring their users to me for security and healing if needed. He knows where you are.”

That soothed the woman who,  during her entire existence within the Guild, had never had someone so openly attempt to take her life.  “Good.  Let the watchdog go before I explain what happened.”  A grin tugged at the corners of the Sorceress’ mouth as she stepped aside.  As soon as she did,   Lily found herself  enveloped in the warmth of Marc’s arms.  He murmured his fears and his heart all at once.  His gentle concern broke her in the face of what was a terrorizing affair.

The force of his emotions surfaced in his eyes. That depth brought tears to her own. “I am fine, Marc.” She murmured.  “I told you I would.”  She spoke as those tears drifted down her cheeks.  “Trust, remember?”  He nodded and that was when the delicate clearing of Jaylor’s throat stilled the moment.   “I was pushed.”  She responded to the question her favorite Shadow had not voiced.  She pushed from Marc’s arms and approached Jaylor.  When his arms closed around her,  she finally relaxed.   “Thank you.”

“You’re part of the world I need to keep safe. Anytime.”  Jaylor promised then released her.   Marc felt the spike in her emotions. He understood Jaylor could get to her faster. He was in Mornesse, Marc was in the capital.  Lily’s panic was what struck him first when he reached for her.  “Tell me what you remember.”  And with that, they settled in to figure out what happened on that Mornesse rooftop.

Updates of unusual size…

Current listening:  Live for What I’d Die For – Jess Mills

Current Reading:  The Tommyknockers – Stephen King

Hello!  After much back and forth with Amazon,  Shadow’s Journey is complete! I have a few advance copies in my hot little hands.  I have held the book in my hands, looked through and just..amazing. It truly never gets old.  I don’t know about any other author but I look at the cover and I think to myself  “Hey, I did that…”

74 days until release day,  if I can math tonight.  October 15, I can’t wait! Correct my math if I’m wrong.  Also, the teasers on my Facebook page are still being posted and will continue until release day.  Please head over, check them ought and if you aren’t a follower of my page,  sign up and share, share, share.  I am planning a digital giveaway of Light’s Guide before the new book’s release.

So,  I had a nag at the back of my head with the song above. Hope you enjoy the little snippet below. As always, feedback is welcome.

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Be soft but hide it well Lils. At the time she did not realize it was the last lesson she would ever give her. Lily watched the haphazard streets that were Mornesse’s inner city. For a moment, Lily Eisen’s mind was caught up in the past. That softness she hid in the core of her. In her time with the Guild, many had tried to beat that out of her. In a way, they tried to beat her femininity out of her. Tonight, she walked the rooftops to see what she could see. A few nights straight, patrols were whispering of returning to the castle with one less man than they left with.

Under normal circumstances this would not be cause for alarm. Death in combat was not a truth unfamiliar to her or any man who patrolled the city. However, five men in the course of a week was unusual. Unrest still lingered even in light of the current regime’s agenda. To her credit, Jocelyn wanted to see her people fed, housed and happy. She wanted them to heal. People who detested peace existed every day. Many of them belonged to the Guild. Lily’s emerald eyes shined in the in moonlight as she watched the patrol pass below. When she heard the distant clatter of their armor fade, she knew it was time to move on. Dark confidence echoed in her every movement as she followed them. She could outwit patrolmen any day of the week. They were easy prey for one such as herself.

Marc Jade should have been easy prey. A small, fond scowl curled her lips. Her quarry moved on through the city streets. Easy prey, right, and a Kindred to walk in sunlight. Lily thought as she moved with silent grace through the darkness. To this day, she wondered where in the Light blasted world the Guild had gotten their information about the man. The men below rounded the corner and she followed, moving from rooftop to rooftop. She found hand holds in places most men would never have. She swung from each point like an acrobat. Her skill was part her favorite Shadow’s teaching and her own inherent grace. Lily had none of the blessing the royal families had. In that sense, she supposed she was a bit of an outcast.

Lack of magic did not stop her from beating his lordship’s ass on a regular basis. She thought with a satisfied grin. Lily was born for the hunt. Though there was no prey to capture tonight, there was always a hunt. Always a purpose to track. Only once had she ever deigned to lower her standards and hunt alongside nobles that were of her rank. Her excitement at the prospect lasted all of five minutes when she realized none of the “ladies” were going to participate in the actual hunt. Their sole purpose was to stroke the lordlings’ egos and be pretty little ornaments. Lily had declined every invitation that arrived for that particular activity after that single incident. None of those simpering twits would ever understand the honor of the hunt and the satisfaction of a clean kill.

Her eyes flickered to the group below her. So far, no harm had come to those patrolling tonight. What was the purpose of picking off patrolmen? “Why, to attract little ragmuffins…” A voice taunted two hand connected with her back and sent her tumbling from the rooftop. The ground was coming too far to fast for her to adjust or reach for a handhold without dislocating every joint from shoulder to wrist. Her grasp would not hold her whole body weight. She did the math seconds too late. The tactic was meant to flush her out but who would be so foolish? Just when I had a life to fight for…

 

Elusive inspiration

Current listening:  You guessed it,  Linkin Park  =P

As writers we all struggle with blocks,  we have times when our muse gives us the middle finger and takes a hiatus.   I read a blog a few days ago that describes this so personally, so clearly that I had to share it with you.  Thank you to Mia Sutton for allowing me to share it with all of you.  Go check her out! She’s amazing.  She’s funny and candid. I think that’s what appeals to me most.  You see her struggles and her honesty about life, motherhood and just everything shines through. Here’s the post:

When Inspiration Strikes: An Ode to My Muse

 

Tick-tock

Current listening:  My husband and our friend playing DC Deckbuilding.

Well, I have a lot of nifty news to share.  Twenty four hours and I’ll get to preview the final layout!

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Shadow’s Journey has been submitted for Amazon’s review well ahead of schedule.  Make sure you check me out on Facebook Live October 1st at 7 pm for the cover reveal!   Now begins reviews to make sure the layout is right.  This part is usually the most stressful me because I go through page by page to determine if the layout is right or text needs to shift.    I get talked down from the ledge more than once during this time period.

We are THREE MONTHS from release! Three months! Stay tuned to my Facebook page for more updates and MAYBE some teasers.     I’m really excited about this book because it advances a character whose story I have always loved.  I hope you all love m favorite Shadow’s development too.   I can’t wait to hear your feedback! I wonder if other authors get as psyched as I do when a plan comes together.  Kudos to anyone who knows what 80’s classic show I’m referencing.

Five weeks from vacation! I cannot wait!  I need to be out and unwind.  See some old friends, enjoy GenCon and play some games. If any of you are at GenCon 50,  by all means,  drop me a message.   🙂  I’m excited to relax and game and just be with my husband for four days.  It will be fantastic.  What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poking  My Head Out of the Sand

Current Reading:   Prophecy – Cassandra Morgan

Inspired by:  My playlist,  keep reading.

So I was inspired by a dear friend who posted on her blog about twenty songs that make her move. Check out her website here.   I commented on her blog with my twenty songs that make me move and promised her that I would write up a little list of songs I write to.  I am adding a twist to this.   I’m giving you guys the list and a challenge.  Tell me which characters you’d associate these songs with.    I will tell you if they match what I utilize certain songs for.   Game on guys!  Keep reading,  there’s a few book updates coming after the list. Feel free to steal for your own lists.  I’ve linked a YouTube video to each song.

Top 20 writing songs

  1. Beyond the Veil – Lindsey Stirling
  2. Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling
  3. Sounds of Silence – Disturbed
  4. Only One – Lifehouse
  5. Beyond – William Joseph
  6. Into Darkness – BrunuhVille
  7. Eternal – Evanescence
  8. The Ghost of You – My Chemical Romance
  9. I Will Not Bow – Breaking Benjamin
  10. Voodoo – Godsmack
  11. The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
  12. The Reckoning – Halestorm
  13. Throne – Bring Me the Horizon
  14. Writing’s On The Wall – Sam Smith
  15. Via Purifico – Nobuo Uematsu
  16. Words as Weapons – Seether
  17. Here – Alessia Cara
  18. Master of Tides – Lindsey Stirling
  19. Best I’ll Ever Be (Acoustic Version) – Sister Hazel
  20. Moonlight Sonata – Ludwig van Beethoven

So, happy guessing.   Comment with your thoughts below. I’m excited to see what you guys think. Also,  what songs make you move?  Thanks to Mia for the idea.

In other news, I have completed round one of revisions for Shadow’s Journey.  Round two is underway.    I am already flirting with ideas for the next book. (THANK YOU – You know who you are)   School is out so finding time between parenting and work has been a challenge.  We are shooting for an October  release date.   I say we because I might write them,  I might publish them but my family and friends keep me level during the process.  Thanks guys.  ❤ Stay tuned for teasers.

Just an ordinary day.

….where I get to participate in my first blogger interview.

Check this out:

Blog Interview

Let me know what you guys think.   Also,  for the time being,  the Maeseloria Monthly will be on hiatus, possibly until I finish revising Shadow’s Journey.   Let me know what you guys thought of the interview.  Take care!

Cut me from the Light…

Current Reading:  Prophecy –  Cassandra Morgan

Inspired by:  Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling

Yes.  I readily admit to being a slacker about my blog as of late.   I have been busy with Shadow’s Journey revisions and work and life.  I recently had a local author event at Gathering Volumes.  The event went well in spite of the freezing cold and rain.  If you want to see photos, check out the May edition of the Maeseloria Monthly.    For those that have been waiting for the next installment of Alex and Marc,  allow me to proceed. If you missed the first installment leading up to this, check out the blog post Reunion.  Happy reading!

 

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How appropriate.  Alexandra thought when she observed the dawning daylight. She turned towards her brother.  He leaned against the wall next to Emma’s front door with his arms folded over his chest.   The look on his face was thunderous.  “Years ago,  Fate above, we must have been children.”  As he spoke he pushed from the wall and fell into step with her.  The path led away from Emma’s home.  “I made you a promise that I would never leave your side again.  Do you remember?”

“We were not children, brother-mine.”  Alexandra responded as he took her hand.  “Just naïve.”  Her words were gentle,  thoughtful.  The warmth of his hand was much missed.  In those dark catacombs the thought of her loved ones kept her alive and allowed her to keep fighting.  She suspected admitting such a thing though would simply fuel the fire that burned within her brother.  Emma was  a curious puzzle that she would address with him soon.  For now, however, Alexandra savored the warmth of Marc’s hand in hers and the familiar comfort of his mind occupying her own.

“Perhaps naïve but since we retook the kingdom,  have I ever failed you?”    He murmured as they took the path away from Emma’s.  With a minute flex of will, he pulled them both away into the early morning light.  He knew she allowed him to exert that level of control and power over her.  Marcus understood her better than anyone but Nicholas,  he felt.   When he realized the old man was in on her scheme,  the thought infuriated him that much more.   The training clearing of their childhood sprawled before them when they reappeared.    “I have of much to lose in light of your passing as you do.”  He jerked her to a halt and turned her to face him.  Marc never used force on his sister but the grasp on her shoulders bit into the skin.  “What compelled you to believe you could not trust me with this?”

Their gazes clashed like fire and ice.  “Are you done whining, love?”   Alexandra spoke on tones so gentle that they further provoked his ire.  “I did what must be done.  This consequence included you and yours.  I could not change that.  The tale had to be believe.  This was a consequence of that choice. What would you have me do?  Risk the kingdom at the consequence of your tender heart?”

“For fuck’s sake Alex, do  not patronize me.”  He rounded on her and growled.  “I have someone to lose here beyond you and she might not fucking survive my passing any more than I would survive yours.”  Marc raged against the calm emerald of her eyes. Fate above, he wanted to shake some emotion into her eyes.  How could she not regret this choice and all the pain the decision had caused?

“I would not insult your intelligence Marcus, however tempted I may be.”   Alexandra shot back and arched a white blonde brow.  “Now who is being patronizing?  Riddle me this, Marcus.  Were you so blind as to see that you were not the only one with a life to lose?”  Without a word, Alexandra flexed her will and brought Lily to the clearing.   You may be angry with both of us but you need to understand.   “I have a daughter, a husband, a family just like you.  Must we revisit this lesson because you now have someone so beloved to you that it terrifies you to consider losing her?”

Marc could not find words and struck as their fights so often erupted into when they disagreed. Alexandra dodged the blow and met him stride for stride by countering his physical force with her mental.  “I did what I must Marcus.  I will not allow you to guilt me for so difficult a decision. Yes,  I could have told you but then to what end?”  She asked as his knuckles pounded against the physical shell she set around herself.  He would be bruised later.  “What purpose would it serve beyond easing your own conscience?   You were safer not knowing and we both know it.  Your nature could not have kept you away from me no matter what state I was in.  Your power could have been a detriment to my survival.”  Alexandra scowled as she lectured him.  Fed up with his constant battering of the shield instead of listening, she shoved him hard enough with her mind to send him skittering across the clearing.  The temperature around them was rising as her brother, at last pushed her towards anger.

Glancing beyond them to Lily,  Alexandra whipped the dagger from her belt and buried at the girls feet. The ward was activated with no more than a though.   I will not have you harmed when I brought you here. Least of all by my temper.  “More the fool you are to your own nature Marcus. My point was proven when you tore the realm apart because you realized I lived.   The poison worked against our magic,  Marcus.  The same poison that killed Devin accelerates at the touch of Jade bloodlines.  Of the two of us,  you simply cannot allow matters to be what they will.”

“Do you hear me?  Tessa could have saved him.  Nicholas could have saved him but I could not and I will carry that ghost until I die. Forgive me for excluding you.  Fate gave me a duty and I fulfilled it.  Her brother was picking himself up from the ground and cursing.   His words and his bruised pride did not move her in the least.   “I will not ask you to agree with the choice or the consequences.  I never have but I will be damned if you will not respect them or me and the courage it took to make them. “   Her eyes narrowed.  “You promised, your honor is not harmed by my choice.   You did not leave my side for you were in my thoughts every day for the last year.  The thought of you and those in my care enabled me to survive.”

Marc glared though he saw both her reason and felt the air’s temperature rising between them.  He did not see Lily until Alexandra build the dagger’s ward around her. His heart broke to see her standing there before he turned his attention back to his sister.  “I get it, Alex.  You did what duty required…truly but you have lost before sister-mine.  I have not and do not intend to.  Your secrets might put her at risk and I cannot abide that.”  He turned towards Lily.  Anger bristled in her green eyes.

As he stepped towards his beloved, Alexandra spoke.  Her words were intended to turn his blood cold.  “And what would you have done if it had been her and not Devin?”   When he froze,  she nodded to Lily and vanished from the clearing.  Her dagger remained as an invitation for him to locate her later.    Fate had best believe he would and they would finish their discussion once calmer heads prevailed. His was not.

“Lily.” He murmured as he met her eyes.   With a thought, he disabled the ward.  Once it was disabled, she came at him with a flurry of kicks and strikes that caught him off guard.  He wrapped her up in his arms.  He absorbed each blow though he would be bruised later.  She could stab him at this point for all that it mattered.

“You’re an idiot,  my lord.  A Light blasted fucking idiot.”

 

 

Reunion

Current listening:  A Poem for Byzantium –  Delerium

Current reading:  Stephen King,  It.

So,  many of my regular followers have been tuned in for the story line with Emma.  I have yet to decide if she will be featured in a future book. Your feedback on her character is welcome.  I don’t know that I’m completely satisfied with this passage because it feels rough but I hope you enjoy it!  Happy Reading!


 

Emma woke what felt like hours later on her own couch.  Her red-to-gold hair was a tousled mess and she was in a nightgown before a woman that could only be deemed royalty.  Emma suspected this in the woman’s manners.  Quiet power and authority were traits that were hard to hide no matter how skilled at deception one may be.

Night was still upon them she noted as she lifted her head to glance about the small parlor. The hearth now blazed and her compassionate invader sat beside her.  “Only minutes.” That patient voice answered the flushed to the roots of her hair.  “Forgive me, your guards were down for a moment. When was the last time you ate, child?”

When Emma moved to sit up,  a force pushed her back down to the couch.  “I could not say but could you stop mentally restraining me. I do not have the energy to try and break your hold. Clearly you’re not leaving.”  The woman responded with a nod.  “Very well then since you appear to be more stubborn than my last visitor and, based on your accent, from the same area.”  Her words for some reason made the woman chuckle.  Though her body was weakened, Emma’s mind worked just fine.  “Emma Jacobs.”

“Alexandra Jade.”  In the ensuing silence,  the woman could have blown her home from kingdom come and left her for dead.  Emma’s surprise was that complete.  “And that was why I did not give you my name before you fainted. I dislike that reaction.  I am as human as you are.”   Though she was chiding the girl, Alexandra could not help but smile. What she felt of the girl was a stubborn sort of fortitude she admired.   This girl was a survivor, Alexandra suspected. That nature was not foreign to her.

“What brings the fabled Lady Jade to my door?”  Emma asked on hesitant tones as she pushed herself up on her elbows into a seated position.  The hesitance in her voice and the concern were clear.  She did not want this. This woman should not be here.  She could guarantee her discovery.  Emma knew she would have to leave the home she has always know after this encounter.  No choice remained.   She grew up in this house.   Emma scanned the room.  The structure was far from the grandeur of the noble seats of royalty that stood at each distant corner of the realm but it was home.  Here she could still connect with Edward’s memory though she hid from his darkness.

A gentle hand on her shoulder stirred her from her tumbling thoughts.  “Be at ease. I reinforced your wards when I arrived. The door will open to no one but you. Your safety is ensured. I will force nothing from you.  If I did, I would be no better than what you hide from.”   Alexandra’s eyes were a mix of curiosity and kindness as she spoke.   “You bring me to your door, if you must know.  You’re important though I am uncertain why.”   Her own frustration surfaced in her voice as she spoke.  As of late, her dreams had been a scattered mess. Two paths kept appearing in her dreams and neither answer was clear.  “A single shadow haunts my dreams.  That shadow turns to a light so bright I cannot fathom its origins. That beacon pulses here.  I know you are a Starson by blood.  I can sense my own magic in your wards.  Who taught you?”

Alexandra burst into laughter when Emma eyed her with the shrewdness of a fishwife dickering with a docks man over the price of his catch.  The Sorceress could tell the girl was taking measure of what information she chose to share.  Alexandra could understand. “Fair enough.   Allow me to  feed you before we talk.  You are quite correct that I am far more stubborn than your last guest.  He found you when he was out looking for me.”

The woman stood as Emma absorbed the shock and moved through the house in search of the small kitchen where she could prepare food for her charge.  When Emma attempted to stand, the room spun for a dizzying second.   A few more minutes, she decided. Once she found the strength to rise,  Emma found her bustling about to put together a simple repast.  “Your brother?”  One could not know of Alexandra and be unaware of her brother.  The rumors that swept the land about the brother and sister were both frightful and awe-inspiring.  Like many, Emma thought so much power should not exist within a single being.

“My brother.  Our power has its pitfalls and the rumors tend to misplace our humanity.”  Alexandra explained with a small smile.  Emma was deliberate in what she allowed her to see. The thought almost  prompted her to laugh once again. That telepathic care was so deliberate that it reminded her of her own dealings with fellow telepaths.   Alexandra was not unaware of the whispers and opinions of the world around them.  Such things were difficult to tune out after a time.

Soon enough, a plate of bread, fruit and cheese sat before Emma.  The terse order that she should eat reminded her of her mother.   Decades of habit prompted her to do just that.  Her mother’s terseness was never disobeyed by she or Edward.   The information she provided was minimal.  The woman was clearly not going away until Emma gave her some bit of information.  “Very well, I do suppose I can do you the courtesy of answering your question before I send you on your way. My grandmother was Sarina Starson. She passed the knowledge down to my mother.  Mother had a few gifts.  My brother and I, however, were born full blooded with the Starson gifts.”

Alexandra nodded before speaking on thoughtful tones.  “My lineage is no mystery to most of the realm.” A wry smile curled the woman’s lips before she continued.  “So,  what would you choose? Return to the capital or stay here amid the terror that haunts your eyes.”   Her perception was so sharp that Emma dropped the roll she had been tearing into.  “Neither one of us has time to mince words, I suspect.”

“I…need to stay here.” Emma spoke after an awkward pause.   How much could she divulge? What called her was not a duty she could dispense to another nor a burden she could share.  Much to her reluctance, Duty called her all the same.  “Something here is unresolved. I feel it.  I also feel if I fight through and find what keeps me up at night that I will obtain some measure of peace. You will not force me?”  At Alexandra’s laughter, Emma raised  a curious brow.  “And what have I said to amuse you, my lady?”

The laughter ceased at use of Alexandra’s formal title.   The title reminded her of what awaited her in the capital, if not sooner.  Her brother’s return, would not be kind, she suspected. “Nothing, dear girl,  but the idea that I would attempt to force a practitioner of your caliber amuses me.  We do not force our own.  We do not force Fate’s chosen.  All things occur in the Her time, no sooner. You hide who and what you are for your own reasons and I will not press you about them.”  Patience reflected in Alexandra’s eyes. Years ago, that patience did not exist.  “Come to us in your own time.  I will say this, however.”  Patience fled in the wake of mirth.  “You would give our cousin,  the Grand Cleric, a run for her money in stubbornness.”   With that statement,  Alexandra rose.  “I have reinforced your wards,  Emma.  No one will get to you here.  Call for me if you have need of me.”

With that statement,  a puzzled look crossed the Sorceress’ features.  “Another matter appears to have come to my attention.  I look forward to seeing you soon.”  And with that,  the woman was gone.  The Jade siblings both perplexed and intrigued her.   The woman, at least, was not as fearsome as the rumors spoke.  At the same time,  Emma could see the restraint Alexandra used with her.   The puzzle was interesting, to say the least.  Distantly, Emma heard the front door close and settled in to eat and mull over the curiosity of her dreams.

Dawn was just cresting the horizon when Alexandra stepped out into the night beyond Emma’s home. A small smile curled her lips at what greeted her.

“Hello, sister-mine.”

 

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