Thursday, April 27, 2017

Flash Fiction # 248 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 32: Magic


No one had expected my move.  That was good in some ways since Darman and Potilia were intent on the people they took to be the most dangerous, like Lord Cayman.  On the bad side, though, it meant none of his allies were prepared to help protect me.  I had to move quickly.  I had to draw on the magic I'd learned during this odd, long journey.  I had the power of being a Sanctioned Protector at my fingertips.

And I had spent a lot of time learning about a certain type of magic.  The first magic I had sent at them had been a diversion.  I put all the power I dared into it because I wanted them to think I was truly trying to destroy them.  I wasn't -- I knew I hadn't that much power, but what I sent against them did take the two by surprise and I saw that three of the dozen fireballs had gotten through their defenses, which was better than I had expected.  The others quickly took up the attack as well.

No time to reconsider what I was doing.  No time to ask if this might be wise or if any of them could help.  I had to go with my next trick. There was one type of magic I'd been around more than any other during this madness.

I concentrated on a spot just behind Darman and Potilia.

I opened a door.

And then I opened another within that door.

And another.

By the fourth door, the others had realized what I was doing, both on my side and on Darman's.  The power from the votex of so many linked doors began to drag leaves into it.  I made another door -- far harder now. The power to make them and to keep them open came from me, and Darman sent a bolt of pure power that would have killed me outright if Maggie hadn't stepped forward, staff in hand, and her own power deflected the blow.

Time meant nothing to me now.  Seconds?  Minutes?  I could not measure the time it took for me to make those doors and hold them open.  Five -- I had five doors at my command.  The vortex had started grabbing up rocks, plants, and dirt.  Darman and Potilia had grabbed hold of each other and that wasn't out of fear.  I saw their powers merging in braids of light that spread up around them.

Dangerous for us -- but dangerous for the two of them, as well.  They were both powerful magicians and I doubted they'd ever joined power before.  I thought I heard Lord Cayman shout something, but I dared not try to listen.  I held to the doors.  I could feel the pull of the vortex reaching for me now, too.

The weres suddenly made a rush for me.  I should have expected it and seeing hundreds of creatures heading straight for me.  The shock and fear almost made me lose the hold on the spell, but before I could fully react, Bog Bob leapt over the top of us and landed with a force that flattened weres with such force that most of them must have died immediately and those that were not hit retreated in haste, breaking free of whatever magic Darman had used to drive them towards me.  The ground and trembled and I went to my knees, but I held on to the spell.  Trees were starting to bend toward the vortex now.  I hoped my friends stayed safe.  I had time again -- not much, but --

Bog Bob launched himself straight at Darman and Potilia.  I gave a cry of despair because I knew the two would react too quickly.  I almost let go of the doors to save him, but at that moment Edmond arrived at my feet.

"Hold on!" he warned above the growing wind.  He had to catch hold of my pants with his claws.  "Diversion!"

Bog Bob was a big diversion, too.  I realized others had started to move once Bog Bob blocked the view.  Just hold on a little longer, that's all.  I knelt and grabbed hold of Edmond as he started to slip.  I knew we could do this.  We just had to --

Bog Bob leapt to the side with surprising grace for something that large.  Darman cursed and turned as well, and that as his mistake.  I wasn't sure if he saw the others lined up -- Tom, Darman, Maggie, and a few others.  The blast that hit him and Potilia -- who had seen it coming but panicked -- did not destroy the two, but it did send them flying.

They tumbled through one door, another, another -- I thought maybe Lord Cayman had added a few more doors and more chaos into the mix.  I wasn't sure.  Once the two were gone I knew the others were safe, and that meant my power grew weaker.  My doors snapped shut, one after another.

Weres disappeared into dust, the power Darman had used to create them gone, and they were no longer human enough to hold on to their forms.  Within a minute the wind died down, the weres disappeared, and I was kneeling with allies, including a group of startled soldiers, in the empty field of battle.

"Where is he?" I asked, looking up as Davis came to me. 

"We don't know.  You did  a damned good job there.  Random doors like that -- brilliant.  You okay?"

"I think so," I said and let go of Edmond.  He stretched and looked around, blinking as though he'd slept through the battle.   I let Davis help me back to my feet.  "The others?"

"We did well," he said.  I heard a little bleakness; he was a healer and no doubt lost a few people in this battle.  "I am glad to have it done."

I nodded as Lord Cayman came toward me, but from the look on his face, I could tell we were not truly done.

To Be Continued
1000 Words

Monday, April 24, 2017

The End of Things, the Start of Things

In the last couple days, I have finished the major rewrite/edit of Raventower 2: War.  It will have one more read through/edit this week and I should be really done.  I also finished the first draft of Journey of a Thousand Truths.  I am within 2k of finishing the Saving Everywhere flash fiction set, which means I'll also be done with the larger collection which is Surviving Elsewhere, Going Somewhere Else, and Saving Everywhere.  The only major unfinished work I have right now is Amusing Grace.  I started that one on my birthday because I always start something new then, but I put it mostly aside so I could finish the other two major works first.

I will have the flash fiction set done tonight or tomorrow and it will be done and pretty much ready to post over the next two Fridays.

You know, for most of this year, I've felt as though everything was dragging and I was getting nowhere.  Then suddenly 'poof' and almost everything is done.  Now I'm scrambling to figure out what else I'm going to work on. What do I want for Wattpad?  Not Journey after all -- I just feel as though it is too soon to toss that story out for other people to see.  A Plague of Rats?  Circe's Gifts?  Maybe Circe's Gifts first, since that is a shorter one.  YA/MG fantasy with several shape-shifters.  That might be a good way to start to get a feel for what I should do.

Yes, maybe that one.  I even have a cover for it, though I might have to do some resizing and such.  Hmmm.  This looks like a real possibility!

As you have probably guessed by now, I am never without a few writing projects.  I have over 100 novels in at least the first draft format.  Actually, I have more than that, but those are the ones that are either already published or that I think have a chance of publication.  I keep writing more of them, too.

One completed for this year, another started, four more that are soon to go into note/outline phase for NaNo -- yeah, I have lots of manuscripts to work with still and except for having to decide 'what next' it's generally a lot of fun.  Oh, there are annoying moments during the writing, too, of course.  Journey of a Thousand Truths kept giving me problems.  I had not outlined it.  I do that every now and then, and while it was fun to just run with a story, it was horrible when I couldn't glance at a note and see what to do next.  The outline would have had the same sorts of problems while I created it, but they're easier to fix in outline when I can go back and tweak things without major rewrites of entire sections.  I suspect the rest of the novels this year will all have outlines.  I just don't have the patience I used to for wasting time.

So here is a piece from the little prologue to Circe's Gifts:


Few peasants from the village sitting at the forest's edge ever saw Circe, the Lady of the Woods.  Those who did chance to spot her when she walked the edge of her forest described the woman as an aged, gray-haired crone, with piercing eyes, and always followed by a horde of fearsome beasts.

They were wrong, of course, but they held to their myth even in the occasional face of reality.  No one ever looked for anything more than what they expected to see.  The Lady was ageless, not aged.  Her hair wasn't gray, but moonlight silver, and her eyes -- the color of the green forest leaves -- did not pierce; they simply saw the world in a way that humans could not.

As for the fearsome beasts -- well, her usual companions were a tailless mouse, a half-lame cat, and a one-eyed, soft-tempered she-wolf.


Injured wild animals come to Circe, but in this story, it is a wounded prince who wanders into her domain.  This really is an old-fashioned fantasy.  Yes, I think this might be the one to work on for Wattpad.

Let's see if this one sticks and I actually get so far as posting stuff.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Sale!

A quick note on this one!  It was supposed to go in my picture of the day blog.  LOL.  I resized and left it here.  It's actually gotten more notice on this one. 

Flash Fiction # 247 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 31: Battle, Part 2

Lord Darman had more forces than we did, even with my allies.  Strong forces.  Some were wild things that he turned loose on us, directing them with magic. Our side fought, killed, fought more -- but we were being pushed back, and some had already fallen.  I couldn't stay here, playing dead, and let this happen.

"Be still," Edmond whispered.  "They're coming our way."

Both friends and enemies had started to move in my direction.  My allies came in a slow retreat while Darman pushed them.  More frantic battles broke out along the way, slowing the enemy.  Soon, though, I was surrounded by others, and Davis came to stand over me. 

"Can you get up?" he asked but did not reach for me.

"I think so."

"Keep your head down.  Lord Snow?"

"Better," he said and stood, though I could tell he favored his right side.  "Up, Mark.  We haven't much time."

I stood, wobbled, and kept my head down.  The others moved in closer.  I could see Lord Cayman and Maggie.  Davis put a hand on my arm and gave me a little magical help, but I had the feeling he was as weak as I was at this time.  We moved back a little, Lord Snow staying with us.  If we could reach the woods, we could have some time to recover.

I didn't think we were going to get that lucky, so we had to have another answer.  I tried to block out the sounds of battle around me and concentrate on the center of the trouble -- on Darman and Potilia.  What I sensed there was not good.  They were gaining power.  I thought they might even be draining some of their own followers to concentrate the power in their hands.  We, though, lost more power in every battle.  We could not win this way.

I stopped retreating.

The battle was not as fierce as it had been, though there were still howls and yells all around us.  Bog Bob set the ground rolling now and then, but he was careful since that was apt to upset the rest of us as well.  Something flew in the sky, but Lord Cayman brought it down with a single bolt.  I hoped Edmond didn't try to fly, though being on the ground in this mass of fighters was not safe, either.

Edmond nudged me in the legs.  "Keep going.  We need to get to the trees."

"We won't make it," I said. Davis, still moving with me, looking worried.  So did Lord Snow.  "They're building up power.  Can't you feel it?"

"Maybe," Davis said.  He frowned.  "I suspect you are better at that.  What do we do?"

"Lord Cayman, Maggie, and Tom have all slowed.  I think they must know as well.  We'll never get as far as the trees, and if we do, I think they'll just flatten the area and kill us anyway."  I took a step back, as though I still meant to retreat like everyone else.  I noted that many of the weres had been killed.  So had humans, including a few soldiers.  Lt. Marsh was still with us, though.  He and Harvey the Rabbit seemed to have teamed up.  They both looked fierce.

Through the line of allies, I could see more weres and other creatures.  Except for the aura of power, I could not locate Cayman or Potilia.  They were well back from the front lines, not anxious to get involved in the brawling, close battle.

I wished I had more magic. I would have used it to send Edmond, Lord Snow, and even Davis away from me.  I knew that once I started to do anything showy, I was going to have the attention of those far stronger than me.  I stepped back again. This was not the time to move in haste.  I wanted to protect all my friends and allies.  I needed to do so wisely.


I suddenly understood my power better than I ever had before.  My power was in the ability to protect others -- and the more people I had to protect, the more power I held.  Whenever one of my own fell, I lost power.  If any of my close companions fell --

No.  I dared not let that happen.

"Stay behind me," I warned my companions.  "There's no time.  We have to act now."

No one argued.  I moved forward, careful still, trying not to draw attention.  I held my own powers inside, but I kept a close watch on Darman.  I would trust the others to take care of Potilia and keep her busy for the moment.  I would sense if she did anything truly dangerous. But at the moment all I could sense from there was her chaotic rage.  That did not help her side.

Darman had an entirely different feeling.  Darman marshaled his power, drew a sense of calm and purpose into himself.  I suspected that he used Potilia as a kind of shield so that others didn't notice his own state.  His actions had not changed; I could see Darman still battled anything that came near him and sent out magic to destroy others, but that was almost mechanical in movement.  He was almost ready.

I rushed forward, feeling the magic directed toward Lord Cayman.

"Darman!" I shouted and threw a shield out in front of the others.  Just in time, but I wasn't strong --

Cayman's magic joined mine.  Then so did others and the magic Darman had so carefully accumulated bounced back and scattered, destroying some his own allies.  We had enraged him this time, and that was as dangerous as calculating.  Magic swept over us and around us, but I kept my shield in place, protecting the others.

But I would have to do something drastic.  No one expected me to step out of the shell as I prepared to cast my first true magic.  This would be my only chance.

To Be Continued

995 Words

Monday, April 17, 2017


So, I am looking at ideas for NaNo in November.  I'll need two or three outlines.  Today I came up with something I think is going to be fun to write.

Let's say my characters are looking for a lost city.  This could be fantasy, science fiction, or even a fictional lost city set in the real world of today.  I am tending towards fantasy, though it might be Alternate Earth Urban Fantasy of some sort.  I only have the very basics of the idea so far, but it is growing enough that I'll start note taking and outlines soon enough.  Anyway, my characters are looking for some ancient place.  The name of the place is in a language no one speaks now.  Many people consider the city to be pure myth with no tie to reality, but my group of adventurers is going to prove them wrong for whatever reason they have for this quest.

They know the basic area, or so they think.  However, the land itself changes over time.  Harbors silt up.  Earthquakes bury ravines in debris.  Humans knock down hills or build new ones to suit their current needs and tastes.  Entire landscapes change; the lush farmlands of ancient times might be a barren desert now.

Or the area might be much like it had been thousands of years before.  Maybe the adventurers have traced what they seek to this general location, but they simply can't find any sign of the ancient city. They know they are close, but where is it?  They spend some time in the largest city in the area, hoping to find more maps, old manuscripts, perhaps even learn a few new myths.  They know they're close.

What if they're standing right on it?

Locations that are suitable for a settlement often remain good, even after slight changes around them.  Conquerers rename cities and the next conqueror names it again.  There was a city named Wasat once -- a powerful city, and it stood for three thousand years.  In fact, it still stands, but that's not the name you are likely to know.  When the Greeks conquered the land, they renamed it after one of their own cities. The current rulers of the land thought these ancient ruins looked liked palaces and gave it a name to reflect that belief.

So a city that was Wasat for about three thousand years in ancient Egypt became Thebes and now is Luxor, and in a fraction of the time the city existed, its old name is forgotten. Wasat is not a name you are likely to know, even though this is a city that was never lost.  The name is inscribed in stone and on papyrus, but until the last century, the ability to read those words was lost.  The ancient Egyptian priesthood had died out, and they took with them the secrets of the mdw ntr -- The Gods' Words.  Was, by the way, was the ancient word for power.  Waset means, basically, the city of power.

Istanbul -- which I believe means 'the city' -- had to be renamed because Constantinople, the city of the great Christian Emperor, would not do in a Muslim world.  Before Constantinople, there had been Byzantium, for which an entire area and era were named.  If you go looking for places, sometimes you need to look under the floorboards, so to speak.  The adventurers might not have to go out into the jungles or the desert wastelands.  Of course digging down into the heart of a populated city isn't going to be easy, either.  Add a few religious implications, and I can have everything up to assassins and riots.  Oh yes, this might be fun.

Another NaNo Novel is also playing in my brain.  I need to do the background work on that one, but it really is going to be a fun new Devlin novel.  Oh, and I haven't forgotten the 'Egypt rules the world' story, either.  I am just not ready to do that much research.

So there might be two major works in the planning stages.  We only have six full months and a couple weeks to get ready, you know.  It is crazy how fast this year is going.

I am also looking at doing something on Wattpad.  Have any of you worked with it?  I think the piece I put up might be Journey of a Thousand Truths as soon as I get the first draft done.  I admit that I don't fully understand Wattpad, but I am willing to expand out and see what it might do for my readership.  There are too many things for authors to try out there and I've been getting lost in the wilds for a long time.  I am not looking to be a top selling author, but I would like to reach a few more people who enjoy the same sort of stories that I enjoy.  I suspect that Wattpad will be another 'lost in the crowd' place, but if I am going to try it anyway.  I think I will be posting on Wednesdays.  Mondays I have this blog and Fridays I have the 2YN class on Facebook and the Flash Friday piece, so I want to get away from this weekend rush of posting.  Since I will have the novel done before I start posting (or close to it), I might even do two posts a week.

But it is all confusing, especially for someone who truly only wants to write and maybe play with pictures and graphic art now and then.  Oh yes and read -- and continue to learn more Egyptian Hieroglyphs.  I shouldn't grumble and complain because I do have the near perfect writing life, just lacking in funds now and then.  On days like today, though, with my back painfully reminding me of why I can't get a job out in the real world, I start looking more at what I can do to help the finances.  I can write.  I am still going to believe that will count!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Flash Fiction # 246 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 30: Battle


When the weres tried to kill me, I learned that a Sanctioned Protector could use his power to protect himself, too.  Magic surged through me and pushed outward, shoving creatures aside before they did too much damage, though wounds bled on my arms and chest.  I wasn't certain how long I could hold them back --

Others arrived.  I saw Tom first, but with him came people that made me give a shout of pleasure, even in the midst of a battle for my life.  Maggie, Davis and Lord Snow raced in to help me.  Edmond flew overhead, and I thought he might be shouting instructions, though I wasn't sure anyone listened.  He did sweep in and rake his claws against the face of a creature that had just clawed my arm again.  The thing howled and stumbled away.

"Take that, ugly!" Edmond shouted from above.

We fought the creatures back. The army shot a few as well, and I hoped they realized who was the enemy and who was not.

Lord Cayman had arrived with my friends.  I had not noticed him in the press of trouble.  He looked worn and tired, but that didn't mean he had lost any of his power.  He wielded a glowing sword that killed weres at a touch.  He did the work grimly, and I sensed that killing was not something he wanted to do, even now.  I liked him better for that realization.

We had no time for greetings except for the hug I gave to Maggie.  Davis did a quick job of healing some of my wounds and moved on to others, including the humans who had been attacked.  I saw Lt. Marsh look my way and then give a decisive nod.  He'd chosen his side at last, and he and two others moved with Davis who was putting himself in danger going among people who did not trust him or the magic he used to help them.

"Maybe this is it," Maggie said. I had never heard her sound so worn and weary. "Maybe we're almost done."

We just had to win.  We had to beat Darman and his followers.  I think I sensed my uncle's arrival before the others.  I spun and lifted my hands, which startled Maggie.  However, my fast movement saved Lord Cayman.  Darman had arrived at his back with a mass of weres that had almost blocked the feel of him.  The others were reacting too slowly.  I had to --

I had to react instinctively.  I knocked weres aside and focused the rest my magic on Darman.  Enemy.  The power surged in my hands.  All of this in a couple heartbeats as I threw everything I had at Darman.  Oh yes, that drew the high elf's attention.  It threw off his attack against Cayman as well so that the magic in his hands went wild and destroyed some of the weres instead.  Now, though, he turned to me in rage.

I knew I didn't have the power to hold out against him, but I was not alone.  I raised my hands again when the magic swept out, and I held it away, confined it, did not let him hurt others.  I held, even as the magic began to burn through my weaker powers.  I held even when I saw the smile of glee on Darman's face.  He had not won yet, I whispered to myself.  He had not -- but the world had started to go dark around me, and I could not breathe.  My legs gave way first, but I held a moment longer.  I held -- and then I lost everything.  I hoped the others....

Aware of things happening around me.  Yells, cries, magic -- all of it in a chaos of reality as my eyes blinked open.  I had fallen forward.  A rock pressed against my forehead and everything hurt.  Danger, though.  Me, others -- I had to --

"Stay still," Edmond whispered at my ear.  "Just stay still, don't draw attention.  Lord Snow and I are protecting you."

"What --" I whispered, but kept still.

"You surprised Darman," Edmond said.  Lord Snow gave a soft huff of an agreement.  "He didn't realize you had so much power.  None of us did.  You don't want him to realize you are awake again, not yet.  He's busy with the others, and as long as he thinks your unconscious, he's not going to try and kill you.  Don't give him a reason.  Regain your strength.  We still need you."

I feared that I had no strength left, either physical or magical.  Breathing hurt.  Muscles had contracted, and even the slightest movement sent pain everywhere.  I closed my eyes and focused on being able to do something -- anything -- when the time came.   With my eyes mostly closed, I could see the chaos of the battle around me, and I sensed that it might not be going well for our side.  The force of the other magic grew, and the magic on my side retreated, leaving me here with only my two companions.  Lord Snow fought frantically, and Edmond climbed up on my back as though to protect my body from anyone who came near.  Brave little friend.  All my friends were brave, and I would not fail them.

Lord Snow gave a loud howl and dropped beside me.  I feared for a moment -- but no.  He still breathed, and I thought he might be pretending to weakness as well.  I hoped so.  I wanted more time, but I wouldn't have much now.  Darman and Portilla had moved closer.  I didn't think they looked my way.  I could not sense Alsia, so I suspected she might be dead.  That was one of the three major powers gone.  We had a chance still.

If we lost this battle, the war would still go on, but the world in which I had grown up would be lost to Darman, at least for now.  I did not want that to happen

We must win.  I was ready.

To Be Continued....
1000 Words

Monday, April 10, 2017

Moving Along

I decided to skip Camp NaNo this month.  I already have two projects I'm deep into, and while I could use at least one of them in the Camp fun, I decided that maybe not adding to the pressure would be a good idea.  So I'm cheering everyone else on, and I hope they have a good time.

I have already written 24k for the month.  I might be up to 25k by the time this is posted (actually it is 26,249 as I get ready to post).  I've managed a steady 3k plus a day, though I'll drop down by that a few times here and there.  I do have a life, even if it doesn't interfere with writing very often.  This last weekend just happens to be one of those times. You know what?  That's good.  I don't need to spend every single moment tied to this computer.

Well, at least not if I can take my tablet with me.

You know what is taking most of my attention right now?

Yup.  Hieroglyphs.

I only have four more full classes, but this isn't something that you can watch and instantly understand.  I've been going back over the pdf file and reinforcing things like past tense and passive voice.  Negation, too.  Not to mention all the words.  My plan is to keep learning more after I'm finished with this class (this week!), and I hope to keep interest in it.  Russ surprised me and ordered the very expensive Egyptian Grammar book that the course teacher recommended, and it should be here on today, but no sign of it yet.  That's going to really help to keep going.

There are amusing bits to hieroglyphs.  For instance, there is a single sign that stands for the letters M+A.  But maybe you don't realize it has the 'a' sound, so for this word we'll write it with the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of the A letter beside it to remind you.  Oh, but this is the word for 'to see' so we have to add another 'A' to actually write out the word.  Huh.  You might not realize what that means, so let's stick the drawing of an eye between the first double letter symbol and the two 'A' letters.  There are a lot of words like this, especially ones with little drawings of things to help you remember the word, which is nice, actually.  It's like they knew someone without a clue was going to have to learn this stuff someday.

I can't seem to make the 'verb first' rule stick.  I don't know why that one is giving me trouble.  It's not that hard.

It is fun, though.  It really is, though I don't have a very steady hand for drawing the letters.  My normal handwriting is awful, but this might help since I'm learning better control.  And I've also come to realize that it doesn't matter if my letters in Ancient Egyptian are perfect or not, as long as I know what they are.  It's not as though I'm going to become a scribe and write hieroglyphs for a living.  I do enjoy the ability to read some of the ancient text, though.  I have a long ways to go before I am able to look at things and understand them (even with the help of little drawings at the ends of words), but I've been amazed at how some of it just suddenly makes sense.

I always suggest that writers spend time learning new things because it will improve your writing, even if you don't use the material directly.  This is especially important for those who write science fiction and fantasy novels.  When you aren't dealing with the reality of here, and now, you need to look for ways to make your world building.  Before I took the course on hieroglyphs, I took one on the history of Ancient Egypt. The two combined have cloned so many plot bunnies that I can't keep track of them all.  The way people write reflects on how they think, of course.  For instance, many people think that the Egyptians worshiped the sun as their god, Ra.  This wasn't true, and it is obvious when you look at the writing. They had a word for Ra, and the word for the sun was not the same.  The sun was a symbol of the god but was not the god himself.

And that makes me think of an aspect of some story where a group of people assumes something that they find is not true once they can read the language.  Something a bit more subtle that the 'To Serve Man' sort of thing, though I suspect the Damon Knight's original story probably was better than the Twilight Zone episode based on it.  Or maybe the show has just been satirized so much that I'm no longer able to see how remarkable it is any longer.

I have ideas, though.  This is what happens to me when I go explore new territory.  

And it is so much fun!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Flash Fiction # 245 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 29: Help

I was not the only one who backed away in haste as the ground in front of us began to crumble and then to roil as though it had been boiling.  Rocks came to the surface and curled back under.  A startled badger made a quick appearance and disappeared again.  The area grew wider and wilder --

And then a huge head popped into view.

I was so surprised to see Bog Bob that I was almost too late to stop the others from bringing up their rifles and prepared to shoot --

"No!" I shouted.  Maybe I put a touch of magic in the word without meaning to.  At any rate, no one fired.  "This is Bog Bob!  He's a friend."

"Friend," Lt. Marsh repeated as though he didn't understand the word.

I didn't have time to explain.  Bog Bob shook some dirt from his head -- splattering all of us -- and smiled brightly.  "Good to find you safe, Mark.  We have come to help."

"We?" I said, worried for new reasons.

Others appeared, climbing up out of the hole that Bog Bob had created.  Lady and some of her people, Ellin -- Beth and some of her followers, including the rabbit thing I'd been calling Harvey.  Beth crossed to me and bowed her head. 

"I have much to make amends for," she said and turned away again.

"Why --" I started, fear in my voice, though not for me.  "Why are you here?  It's not safe --"

"It wasn't safe for you to help us," Bog Bob replied.  He stayed in his hole, his face peering intently at me.  "We came to help you, in turn, Mark."

"Besides, we don't want our enemies to win here," Beth offered.  I tried not to remember her betrayal, but I thought she was sincere in her regrets.  "If you do not win, we all lose."

Job, the dinosaur, was not with them.  I wasn't certain if I was glad or not.  I would have liked to see him again, but the battlefield was no place for such a tempting target.

"Where is Edmond!" Bog Bob suddenly shouted.  He looked around, his head turning quickly and throwing more dirt.  "What has happened --"

"Edmond has gone to find the others.  I got separated from Maggie, Davis, and Lord Snow."

"Ah," Bog Bob said and sounded calmer.  "Good.  He is a brave cat."

"He is brave for any type of creature," I added.  I wanted him back.  Instead, I turned to the humans who were watching all the strange creatures that had arrived with some bewilderment and a lot of worry.  They did not, at least, look like weres.  "Lt. Marsh, you and your men should go now.  Really you should.  This is not the kind of battle that you should try to fight, and since I have allies with magic and we have a chance to win now."

"No," Lt. Marsh said with a shake of his head.  "No, I don't think it would be smart for us to go.  There are still other troubles here, you know.  Not the least of them is that if you ran into other soldiers, they'd shoot without a second thought.  You need us to try and keep other people from doing crazy things."

I wasn't sure they would have much luck with that goal, but I had no time to argue the point.  I could feel trouble coming our way.  So did the others.  "Magic coming, and none of it good," I warned.  "Keep behind us!"

Lt. Marsh appeared to think that an excellent idea, especially since we could see the magic coming their way -- a dark, ground-hugging cloud that swept over the land and settled before them, the mist disappearing.  I was not surprised to see Darman, Portilia, and even Alsia appear.

They, however, were more than a little shocked by my allies.  Bog Bob, who had been a rather calm, quiet, happy big thing suddenly gave a shout of anger and launched himself out of the ground fully at them.  They scattered, and he tunneled straight back into the ground before they could react.  The rest of us took advantage of that moment, though.  I'd had no time to organize anything, but as soon as I charged towards the three enemies, my allies did the same.  I headed for Darman, and I hoped the others were wise enough to spread out and try to stop Portilia and Alsia.

Darman recovered enough to cast magic at me, but I easily deflected the fire up and away from everyone.  Gunfire got my attention for a moment, and I was glad to see the soldiers had joined our side.  Dangerous, but I thought they were careful.  Darman didn't like the odds.  He cast magic again, but this time it formed another cloud, drew his two allies to him, and they rushed back away.

The battle was not over.  A wave of weres appeared, rushing out of the trees.  I didn't have enough power to hold them back for long. The others pulled back, fighting any of the creatures who came their way, but I soon realized the weres had no real interest in them.  They were coming for me, but they knew -- or Darman who directed them did -- knew that as long as they attacked my allies, they would sap my strength.  I had to do my best to protect them, no matter what it cost me.

Glad Edmond wasn't with me.  That was my last clear thought as I felt my magic falter and in that heartbeat, dozens of weres turned on me.  I saw only a rush of long teeth and claws, a wall of them, all coming at me.  I used what magic I could to hold them back, and someone shot two of them -- but there were too many.  I went down under the press of their bodies as claws dug into my skin....

To be continued....

1000 Words