WELCOME TO DAY 7 OF THE #RWISA “REVOLUTION” BLOG TOUR! #RRBC @PAT_GARCIA @RRBC_ORG @RRBC_RWISA @TWEETS4RWISA #RWISAREVOLUTIONTOUR

My friend Pat Garcia is someone I admire — a loving, generous woman who has published her first short story. Read what she writes here and be encouraged!

RWISA: RAVE WRITERS - INT'L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS

Welcome to Day 7 of theRWISA “REVOLUTION” Blog Tour!  We’d like to introduce you to an amazingly supportive RWISA member, Author, Pat Garcia.  Take a peek at her writing below…

THE GOAL, THE PURPOSE, THE  CONTRIBUTION, AND COVID19

Among the books that I have placed in collection boxes on my iPad, Don Quixote by Miquel de Cervantes is sitting in my favorite collection box. I read it for the first time in the print version of my first year at University.  It impacted my belief system, turned my way of thinking upside down, and challenged me to get my act together and do what I had been called to do.

Later, the song  To Dream The Impossible Dream that is so widely well-known from the musical Man of La Mancha, based on the Don Quixote, had me believing that I could take my experiences…

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Welcome to #RRBC’s February “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour for #RRBCAuthor @kirazian! #RRBC_Org @Tweets4RWISA @RRBC_RWISA #RRBCSA #RWISA

Thank you for stopping by! I’m honored to welcome  #RWISA Author, Lisa Kirazian to my blog today. Lisa is the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S first “SPOTLIGHT” Author of 2021, and she has a new book out,  CADENZA! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Lisa Kirazian. Welcome, Lisa!

 

Where did this idea come from?

Lisa Kirazian’s Cadenza and 

“The Music We Made” series

It’s an honor to write this guest post — and to be RRBC’s Spotlight Author for February!

I’ve blogged about this in the past but that was before I wrote Cadenza and completed “The Music We Made” series. Now that I’ve finished it, I see this writing journey in a new light – the whole trajectory of it.

I first got the idea at age 14 standing in the driveway of my violin teacher’s home, waiting for my mom to pick me up. The story started brewing of a violinist and her conservatory instructor and the awkwardness of their working relationship (because I had a drama teacher at the time who was awkward that way.) The idea kept brewing for the next few years.

Then in college at age 18, I started writing the script — a screenplay. First called The Last Ovation, it was totally melodramatic and over the top. But the start was there — sister and brother musicians leaving a tough family situation to study in London in the late 1950’s and early 1960s, meeting their lifelong friends, enemies and loves along the way. 

But it was still not all the way there yet.

At age 24, I went on a summer mission program in Armenia, teaching English and engaging with students in my homeland, post-Communism, during the war with Azerbaijan. You’d think that all my journals and notebooks would be filled with the awakening that came from being in my ancestral land for the first time. But they didn’t (that would come later). What did come is the outline for a six-hour miniseries, newly-titled, The Conservatory. When I got home, and for the next few years, including a research stint in London, I wrote the six one-hour scripts. Then upon realizing I had to rename the work (because a conservatory in London is a greenhouse!), it became The Music We Made.  

Shopping the script around (long before Downton Abbey and other innovative series), I was told by producers, “You can’t have a miniseries that’s not based on a book or a famous person. You can’t have an original miniseries!!” Now, of course, they are all over the place.  But at that time, because of that feedback, and to have an extra layer of story protection, I took the challenge and wrote it as a book, now around age 30. And that six-part miniseries became the novel Bravura. I worked and worked on it and then put it down for a while, during playwriting stints, and of course having kids. It was published 14 years later, in 2014. 

Writing the novel Bravura filled out the experience of the story for me. While on camera I could explore the audio-visual whirlwind of a musical performance with a soloist and orchestra etc., in a novel I could explore the inner narrative going on inside a musician’s mind and heart when they prepare and play. And I found new scenes emerging that I had to get down. Before I knew it, I realized that I had to keep writing this story and continue to the next generation of the Driscoll family of musicians.

So, then I wrote Appassionato, the first book written as a book first, not as a script. I continued the next generation, focusing on composer/conductor Jenny Driscoll, who appears briefly but memorably at the end of Bravura. I drafted it during National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in 2014-5. It was published in 2018.

I did the same in drafting Cadenza in 2016, through NANOWRIMO. And it was just published in 2020, the year I turned 50. The trajectory of this writing journey has gone from age 14 to 50.

And just when you think you’re done, and there’s no more story to tell, and no one knows better than you do, a reader comes along, like a friend of mine just did to me, and says, “I hope you’re working on the next one.”

Onward!

Featured Title: CADENZA

In CADENZA, the final book of “The Music We Made” series, the young tenor Brian Martin finds himself on the cusp of superstardom and marriage, until he is compelled to leave behind his distinguished musical family, and his fiancé, in London, to visit the U.S. to see where his famous late grandmother, Maggie Crawford, the only other opera singer in the family, grew up. His journey takes him to Marshall, Minnesota, and Maggie’s hometown high school, where he meets the music teacher, Laura Jones, who helps him with his family history in more ways than he could have imagined.

Author Bio:

Lisa Kirazian writes fiction, plays, screenplays, and also directs for stage and screen. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Performing Arts Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune and many other publications. She is in demand as a speaker and has been a guest on KPBS Public Radio and at various conferences. Lisa is a graduate of Stanford University.

Several of her screenplays have placed in major competitions and festivals. Twelve of her stage plays have been produced across the U.S. and have won numerous awards, including a few publications. She also directed and wrote the adapted screenplay of the short film, “Reflection Day.”

Her novels include BRAVURA, APPASSIONATO, and now CADENZA, the three books of “The Music We Made” series, following three generations in the Driscoll family of musicians and inspired by her experience as a violinist. The series is also being developed for television. 

Lisa lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters and is involved in the Armenian community locally, nationally and abroad.

Connect with Lisa:

Twitter: @kirazian and @TheMusicWeMade

Facebook: @TheMusicWeMade

Website: https://www.lisakirazian.com

Blog: https://lisakirazian.wordpress.com/

Instagram: @lisakirazian

Cadenza on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QDLVSKL/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_0RSS8DZMN3R1SYCXG1TQ


Thank you so much for dropping by today to show your support of RRBC’s February “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Lisa Kirazian! To follow along with the rest of her tour, please visit the “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR forum on the RRBC site.  And please, take your support two steps further by leaving her a comment below and also picking up a copy of any or all of her books!

Welcome to Day 2 of THE MEMOIRS Blog Tour! @fredsdiary1981 @4WillsPub @4WP11 @RRBC_Org @Tweets4RWISA

SPECIAL PRICING ON AMAZON US AND AMAZON UK

COMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR

(1) $10 Amazon gift card

Thanks for stopping by!

Please help me welcome our guest blogger, Robert Fear. I have enjoyed getting to know Robert through #RWISA and through his entertaining memoir SUMMER OF ’77. He has much to share with us!

Welcome, Robert. We’re so glad to have you with us today!

Robert Fear

Welcome to the second day of my 4WillsPub 3-day blog tour. 

During this tour, I am sharing with you some background to the three memoirs that I have self-published. As a special offer to readers of the tour, I have reduced the Kindle price on each book to 99c/99p (RRP $4.99/£3.99) on Amazon US and UK.

Here are the links to the memoirs that are being featured:

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia – getbook.at/FredsDiary1981

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren – getbook.at/ExclusivePedigree

Summer of ’77: Beaches, bars and boogie nights in Ibiza – getbook.at/Summerof77

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren

Background

After publishing Fred’s Diary 1981, I devoted a lot of my spare time over the following year to make my father’s dream come true.

It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, became frail and was confined to bed most of the time. Visits to the hospital became more frequent, and the doctors were talking about months, not years.

John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now he could not continue, and my mother called me to see if I could help. I was more than happy to get involved.

In the evenings and at weekends I sat at my computer and transcribed the chapters that John had finished. I printed these off and sent them back to him. It was a period of reconciliation between father and eldest son as we discussed changes and planned for the missing chapters.

During the months following his death, I continued working on John’s memoirs with the help of my mother and brother. In 1994 we printed a limited-edition under the title Exclusive Pedigree. If it had not been for a chance remark, the life of the book could have ended there.

Towards the end of 2015, I was visiting my mother for a few days and gave her a paperback copy of the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981, which she wanted to read. Our conversation turned to self-publishing, and we started talking about John’s memoirs. Then came the bombshell from my mother, “Did you know Rob, that John always wanted to have his book professionally published?” I had another challenge ahead.

My father’s memoirs were published in July 2016. I think John would have been proud of the finished result, a fabulous tribute to his life entitled Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren.

Favourite Review 

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the authors’ tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HEREThanks for supporting this author and his work!

New Release! “Ghostly Interference” by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #WritingCommunity #newrelease #mustread #newage #runes #soldier #ghosts #romance @wildrosepress

Jan Sikes is an author whose books I’ve read and loved! It’s no exaggeration to say I’m excited to have her here today to share her new release, “Ghostly Interference.” Please join me in welcoming Jan Sikes!

FINDING LOST FAMILY

Hi, Patty! Thank you for allowing me to take over your blog space to talk about my new book release. I am truly grateful. 

In Ghostly Interference, Jag Peters is close to his mom and has been his entire life. His dad passed away when he was in college, and although he’d provided well for them, he never gave Jag the attention or approval he craved.

Jag has always lived a settled conservative life, so you can imagine the shock of finding out the man who had raised him was not his biological father. I do not want to give away any spoilers here, but it becomes an integral part of the plot.

Rena Jett had one brother, Sam. Their mother died from a drug overdose when Rena was a baby and they were thrown into the foster care system, as no relatives could be located to take them. 

But Jag is a whiz on the computer. Look what he found!

EXCERPT

His thoughts were on Rena and the night they’d shared. She was more than he’d ever dared to hope or to find in life. Every time he closed his eyes, he could still feel her warm and willing body under him. Her skin like soft fine satin and her dark hair like silk drove him to the brink of madness.

He wanted to give her everything she’d never had…a family, love, and security. An overwhelming urge to look for any existing members of Rena’s family that might still be alive sent him to the search engine. 

Thank goodness, births and deaths were all public records and easy to access. It would be a starting place. He first visited the Travis County website and typed in, ‘Marjorie Irene Jett.’

Options popped up and he clicked on three different ones before finding the right Marjorie Jett. 

The website told him that for five dollars, he could get access to arrest records and other details about her. He immediately paid the money and held his breath while he waited for it to click over. 

There was a picture and even though it was a typical mugshot, other than the blonde hair, he could see an uncanny resemblance between the woman and Rena. The law enforcement record was long but predictable. She’d been first arrested for prostitution in 1975, then other arrests for drugs and theft. 

He scrolled down. 

The record showed three live births to Marjorie Irene Jett in Austin. 

Shock raced through him causing the hairs to stand up on his neck. That meant there was another sibling somewhere. He clicked on the next link that took him to birth records. 

On June 23, 1976, Marjorie Jett gave birth to a son, Riley Austin Samuelson. Odd that he didn’t have the Jett last name. No marriages were recorded for Marjorie. Riley’s birth certificate listed Marjorie as his mother and father, Justin Earl Samuelson. 

His heart pounded. This meant that Rena had another brother out there somewhere. It might cost more money, but he would do his best to track him down and let him know he had a sister.

***

Have you ever known someone who discovered they had family they never knew? I can’t say that I have, but both of the characters in Ghostly Interference did. 

It was fun adding that in as a subplot. 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER

BOOK BLURB

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

PURCHASE HERE

AMAZON or BARNES & NOBLE.

CONNECT WITH JAN  

TWITTER WEBSITE BLOG FACEBOOK AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you remember when each holiday had its place, and stores and commercials focused on that holiday in their displays and items for sale? Then you must be nearly as old as I am.

This year, on the day after Halloween, Walmart had its large Christmas section open and fully stocked. Same with Home Depot and, most likely, it was the same in every other store.

And for those of us who enjoy home entertainment, here we are, barely after Halloween and closing in on Thanksgiving, and all we see, when we’re not zipping through them on recorded shows, are CHRISTMAS commercials. Of course, we’re bingeing on Hallmark and other channels showing Christmas romances, so what can we expect? They make for a nice distraction from the rest of 2020 madness.

Perhaps the intent is for us to forget Thanksgiving, or at least diminish it somewhat in order to discourage our getting together for a large family meal. I get that. Turkey wouldn’t taste the same when you’re watching someone else eat it on Zoom. I know. We attended a Zoom birthday party, and the cake tasted like air.

So, do we ignore Thanksgiving? My answer is a resounding NO! However we choose to celebrate it, we must. What do we have to be thankful for, especially in this crazy pandemic year? Perhaps this excerpt from Reflections of a Misfit will put it into perspective for you. 

~~~~~

Thankful for Manifold Blessings

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. My heart is full of gratitude. I wouldn’t know where to begin, so I’ll share someone else’s thoughts, instead.

On November 4, 1963, President Kennedy issued his annual Thanksgiving Proclamation. He died eighteen days latersix days before Thanksgiving. That year, President Johnson urged all the nation’s churches to share Kennedy’s words in their Thanksgiving services. Here is an excerpt. 

“Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for mani- fold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.” 

“On that day, let us gather in our sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.” 

Amen. Let our gratitude become love in action. Happy Thanksgiving!

~~~~~

Join in the celebration of #RRBCAuthor @sharrislaughter, #RRBC’s November “SPOTLIGHT” Author! #Author of #OurLadyOfVictory

Blurb:  This is a second edition with updates on the state of this historic church. In the original publication files were lost then resurfaced with content altered along with missing photos during transition from one publisher to another. Such is the fate of an Independent Author.

This book evolved out of years of frustration at the total disregard and lack of respect for the contributions of Black Catholics in the city of Detroit. The author says, “We are not mentioned in the pages of history along with the other Catholic churches that sprung up during the World War II era, and that needed to be corrected.” The author did fulfill one dream since publication … that this church can now be found on the web even though it has merged with another church. It is now called Presentation-Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.

Pick up your copy today!

Welcome to Day 10 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @jinlobify @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

IROKO

by Joy Nwosu Lo Bamijoko

In the past, nobody would have taken notice of Iroko, the biggest and tallest tree in the forest. But then, cities started to grow and to eat into the forests. Trees were cut to make way for the growing cities. But the Iroko tree resisted being cut down. Any time an axe cut the tree, the axe either broke or the cut bled, real blood., and cries, ear piercing cries, like human cries were heard coming from the tree.

In the forest, next to Iroko, lived an old woman in a tiny mud hut. Bent by age, she diligently cared for the tree. She was known as the eyes and the mouth of the tree. She listened to the tree, when the leaves rustled and interpreted the language of the tree to outsiders. She was called Nne Oji. Oji is the Igbo name for Iroko, and Nne Oji means Iroko’s mother. Iroko was as tall as a skyscraper, about one hundred and seventy feet high, and the width was as wide as fifty men surrounding the tree with outstretched hands, fingertips touching. Iroko was huge, towering and intimidating!

The stories surrounding Iroko were such that settlers decided to let it stand and the town grew all around and away from it. Things went on peacefully for a while, but soon it became clear that Iroko did not like the exposure it was getting from the people surrounding it. After all, this tree was the king of the forest, where both trees and animals revered it. Now,standing in the midst of humans, with no one paying it any heed, all of this would change very rapidly.

People, especially those living close to where Iroko stood, started reporting strange happenings around Iroko in the dead of night. Those who were bold enough to come out and watch these happenings, reported seeing dancing and merrymaking around Iroko by people they believed were spirit people. These spirit people went in and out of Iroko as if they were walking in and out of their homes. They sang and danced in merriment from twelve midnight until two in the morning, after which they packed up and walked back into the tree. Those who observed these goings-on, did so from afar and in hiding. 

The story was told of a young boy who had the misfortune of being seen by these spirit people. He was taken and was never seen again. He had heard the stories of the happenings around Iroko, so that night he snuck out of his house and walked toward Iroko to take a closer look. Voices were heard warning him not to come closer, but he continued walking toward Iroko until he entered the sphere of the tree where everything turned grey. At that point, the boy lost control of himself and was pulled along until he disappeared in the mist and was seen no more.

The mother watched everything in hiding in paralyzed shock. The other people who watched in hiding were also mystified. They couldn’t believe their eyes, but they dared not allow themselves to be seen.

The next morning, the mother saw a huge striped cow tied to an orange tree in front of her house. The cow was chewing cud. The woman walked around the cow trying to understand how it came to be there. The town people also took notice and started gathering and questioning the presence of the cow. Out of nowhere, a young boy with only a loin cloth around his waist appeared and spoke to the onlookers.

“Mama, Iroko says you should take the cow in exchange for your son. Iroko says you should not kill the cow. You should sell it and use the money to take care of yourself.” With that, the boy turned and walked through the crowd and disappeared. 

Everyone there was seized with shock and they quickly dispersed. The woman cut the cow loose and started shooing it off from the front of her house, but the cow would not budge. 

The woman started to weep and pleaded with Iroko to return her son and take back the cow.

“Iroko give me back my son and take your cow!” she implored. “I don’t want your cow!”

The next day, the woman saw the cow at the back of her house, peacefully lying down near her hearth and chewing cud. She ran out toward Iroko.

“If you won’t give me back my son, Iroko, take me too!” she screamed at the top of her voice. Iroko’s leaves started to rustle. Suddenly, the old woman in the hut materialized and stood between the woman and Iroko.

“Go back, Mama!” the old woman said. “What you seek cannot be done. Your son is gone, dead and Iroko has paid you in exchange for him. Go back or you will meet the same fate!”

The woman refused to be stopped. She pushed the old woman down, walked over her and continued to approach Iroko. By this time, people had started to gather and were watching. The woman threw herself at Iroko and just like magic, the onlookers saw sparks of light, like fireworks, all around the woman. They heard her screaming and shouting like someone roasting on a stake. When everything died down and the sparks were no more, the people saw that the woman had metamorphosed. The woman had changed into an animal, something that looked like a dog, or a goat. No one could really tell. The people dispersed but this time they all had one thought in their minds – that Iroko must go.

Iroko’s fame continued to grow even beyond the immediate town. The townspeople also became bolder. They consulted with diviner after diviner to find out how to get rid of Iroko. They tried everything, without any success … one attempt took the lives of twelve men. They tried to burn Iroko down, but the fire turned against them and burned them to death. One diviner suggested that the spirit of Iroko resided in the old woman who tended it, and that if the old woman was killed, Iroko would quietly and slowly die. 

The townspeople burned the old woman’s hut down with the old woman in it. The next day, Iroko started taking souls. People started disappearing from their homes, both in broad daylight and at night while they slept. 

Finally, an Iroko priest from a distant land told the people how to destroy Iroko. 

“Humans should not fight Iroko,” he said. “They should appease Iroko. Iroko trees do not live amongst humans. Before you people started building your town, you should have appeased and pleaded with Iroko to leave your town. As you can see, Iroko was simply minding its own business, when you people decided to invade its privacy. Now you have to sacrifice to Iroko to appease it.” 

The townspeople had to pay this priest to come to their town to perform all that was needed to appease Iroko. There is no need to list here all that Iroko demanded, which included the blood of virgins, before it was appeased. The morning after the ceremony by this priest was concluded, the people came out and watched as the inhabitants of Iroko exited one after the other and disappeared; the birds of various families, the giant ants, red and black, dark dangerous black snakes – all came out of Iroko hissing, grumbling, and then poof,like smoke disappeared. But the king of all the animals, a giant Eke python, refused to be dislodged. The people had to pump inflammatory liquid into Iroko and set the python on fire,to dislodge it. It came out rumbling, twisting, and floundering, until it, too, disappeared.

Finally, Iroko was cut down. Mystery upon mystery, not one single hole existed in the cut tree. It was intact with rings showing how many hundreds of years it had stood there.

~~~~~

Thank you for supporting Joy Nwosu Lo Bamijoko along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed her writing, please visit her Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links, if she’s turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out her books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Joy Nwosu Lo Bamijoko‘s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 9 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @wendyjaynescott @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW


The Crystal Tavern by Wendy Scott

This piece is in remembrance of my Creative Writing student, Gill Pontin, who suddenly passed away in October 2020. Gill was an artistic dynamo whose enthusiasm, creativity and laughter will be dearly missed. She was a key participant when our group developed a new world, Creedland, and this story is set in Vape Town.

“Whoa, boy.” Blade Driscoll tugged on the reins and pulled his destrier to a halt. He surveyed the outskirts of Vape Town, unsurprised by the ramshackle buildings and pock-marked roads. The air reeked of burnt sugar and the back of Blade’s throat tingled. Between his thighs, Stormbolt shifted, wrinkling his equine nose and shaking his head from side to side. The horse’s plated armour clinked together destroying any attempt at stealth. Blade nudged his mount towards the main street, the sooner he finished his business in this cesspit the better for his sanity.

Pink-eyed townsfolk slunk away from the war horse’s hoof spikes. Pastel smoke billowed from a series of chimney stacks and led him to the front steps of the Crystal Tavern. Scantily clad fairies with tattered wings slouched against the verandah railings. Out of habit, Blade scanned their faces but didn’t recognise any familiar features. He didn’t waste his breath asking after his friend as their vacant stares and pink-tinted irises indicated their minds were lost in a kaleidoscopic haze.

Crystal Pink was manufactured from bog flowers and utterly irresistible to fairies. Its euphoric buzz leached away their magic, attacked the delicate blood vessels in their wings, rendering them flightless, before their bodies swelled to human size. The only way to gain their fix was to enslave themselves to Gurezil Flintsunder, owner of the Crystal Tavern, the unofficial mayor of Vape Town, and the largest whore-master this side of the Despicables. Lowlifes flocked from every dark corner of Creedland to sample the unique fairy delights.

Blade dismounted and left Stormbolt’s reins dangling, ready for a speedy exit. Anyone foolhardy enough to try to steal the stallion would learn how hard the war horse could bite.

Blade checked his weapon inventory. If blood flowed today, he didn’t intend any of it to be his.

Before the saloon doors swung shut behind him Blade tugged a bandanna over his mouth and nose. Steam laced with cotton candy sweetness curled through the dimness. Chunks of crystals simmered in heated ceramic bowls, producing bubbles and sickly fumes. Each table featured glass paraphernalia plugged with multiple hoses. Tendrils of pink smoke escaped from the pipe tips.

Pain pulsed in Blade’s forehead and his eyes watered. He sipped shallow breaths as he scanned the front parlour, counting four patrons slumped in the booths. Their hands grasped the tubes as if they were lifelines. Fools; it was death they courted.

A month ago, he’d rescued Maie Quickthistle from Gurezil’s clutches, sneaking her away while the tavern slumbered. When she’d surfaced from the drug’s grip she’d attacked him like a demented harpy, begging for her next fix. He responded by locking her inside a rented room, but she’d broken out the window and hightailed it back to the Crystal Tavern. After that failure, he decided to change his tactics.

A bartender slumped across the bar and ignored Blade as he slid into an empty booth and shuffled into the shadows. From here he had an unobstructed view of Gurezil’s office door and a ringside seat to the drama he knew was about to unfold. The next bog flower shipment was due within the hour, and he wanted to witness Gurezil Flintsunder’s reaction when he learned his entire crop had been destroyed. The poison had cost Blade his life’s savings but the wizard assured him that this would taint the bog for generations. With one application he’d wiped out the only source of Crystal Pink.

Half an hour later, boots thundered along the passageway and a man hammered his fists on the office door. “Boss, there’s a problem with the latest shipment.”

Gurezil flung the door open and stomped into the hallway. “If those imbeciles have stolen as much as one flower I’ll strip the flesh from their hides and feed it to the fairies.”

“There are no flowers.” The man held out a limp vine. “Something’s wrong with the whole patch.”

Gurezil snatched the vegetation out of the man’s hand, lifted it above his nose, and sniffed it. The blood vessels on his cheeks blazed beetroot. “Stinks of spoiled magic. There’s no time to waste, saddle up the horses and the wagons, we need to salvage what’s left.”

Blade stayed in the shadows until they disappeared outside. Whistling, he ascended the stairs two at a time before gently opening every door along the top corridor. A rush of stale air tainted with the drug’s signature sweetness filtered into the passage. Fairies dozed on bunks, oblivious to his presence as their minds languished in a hypnotic blur. He didn’t desire to be anywhere near Vape Town when their mass withdrawal kicked in. Dealing with one psychotic fairy was enough to test a man’s mettle.

He counted his blessing when he found Maie Quickthistle out cold, making it easier to transfer her onto Stormbolt’s saddle. As a precaution, he bound her hands together and checked her pockets for hidden daggers. Earlier, he’d prepared a campsite in the surrounding woods as he understood the next two days were going to be tough on the both of them.

If he’d known how sharp fairy teeth were he might have reconsidered this rescue plan. Bloody bite marks and grazes marred his forearm and face, and he was sure he was missing a piece of his ear. His ears throbbed from Maie’s constant shrieking, and he hoped she’d have no memory of all the things she’d offered him in exchange for a fix.

After a sleepless 48 hours, his eyes were redder than an addict’s and his thoughts foggy. Maie’s limbs contorted into a fetal knot and whimpers escaped her throat. She was quieter than earlier, but he kept his distance as she’d lured him into striking range before. He yawned and struggled to keep awake. Perhaps he’d snatch a moment’s rest.

Something fluttered against his cheek and Blade wrenched his eyes open. Tiny fairy wings whirred close to his face. He held still as Maie planted a kiss on the tip of his nose. “You saved me.”

Lightness flooded Blade’s soul. “Of course, that’s what friends do.”

~~~~~

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