Friday, 17 August 2018

Storm From Taxila

~ Book Blitz ~
Storm From Taxila by Shreyas Bhave
15th to 17th August

About the Book:  
BHARATVARSHA, LAND OF THE ARYAS: 270 BC
Bindusar, the Samrat Chakravartin of all the Aryas, ruler of the Indian subcontinent, is dead. Chaos rules across the empire. The royal succession turns upon intrigue, dark coalitions, violence and death. The realm stands divided and civil war ensues.
In Vidishanagri: Asoka kills his brother’s Ashwamedha stallion and marches to Patliputra with his army. The ancient Brahminical order rises in his supports, awaiting his entry into the capital. Have they made the right choice?
In Taxila: The rightful heir, Sushem, raises an army to meet the challenge posed by his ambitious and gifted brother, Asoka. He prepares to march to the capital and seize the throne by force. Will history repeat itself; will Sushem achieve what his grandfather Chandragupta did 50 years ago?
In Junagarh: Guild Master Hardeo sets out on a private mission to acquire the great salt pans of Sindh. Will he succeed in his secret enterprise?
In Vidishanagri: Radhagupta travels to fulfill the task allotted to him by the Order. Kanakdatta, the Buddhist, stands up to stop him. Will Radhagupta fail in his mission?
The winds of war howl over the sub-continent, blowing every last person one way or the other. Blood will be spilled, secrets revealed and men ruined. History shall be made.
In Book II of the epic Asoka Trilogy, the storm approaches; the harbinger of death and destruction. When the dust finally settles, the great question will be answered: Who is the next Samrat of the holy Lands of the Aryas?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon



Read an Excerpt:

The cloaked man stood before them, his hands folded, his back straight, looking them in the eye.
Sushem studied the man from head to toe. He looked harmless enough. He was much too old to be a spy or assassin. “You desired a meeting,” he said. “Well, you have one. Now speak.”
“Allow me to say that I am honoured to meet the young lion in person,” the man said, bowing. “I once had the honour of meeting the lion himself, in a similar tent in this same place, fifty years ago.”
The words took some moments to register in Sushem’s mind. When they did, he froze. “You claim to have met my grandfather?” he asked, surprise showing on his face.
“Indeed, My Lord. I met him when he was laying siege to Patliputra, just like you.”
“What is your name?” Sushem asked, sitting down and resting his chin on his clasped palms. This was getting interesting.
“I am one Dasharath, and I represent the Ancient Brahminical Order.” “For what purpose did you meet my grandfather, all those years ago?”
“To help him take the city, My Lord.”
The words of the fable resounded in Sushem’s head: Like a bolt of lightning he came to liberate us. “No one knows how my grandfather captured the city. It remains a mystery.”
“Not known to the common people perhaps,” Dasharath acknowledged. “But I represent the Ancient Brahminical Order.”
Sushem rubbed his chin thoughtfully. The role of the Order in his grandfather’s victory over the Nandas had been well documented by bards and scholars over the years. “So how did you help him take the city?” he asked.
“It was simple.” A smile crept across the lined face. “Patliputra is invincible, but only above ground. Below it is an entirely different story.”
“Is there a hidden way into the city?”
“Aye, My Lord.” There is a tunnel that joins the infamous underground maze of the Patliputra prisons. It starts not too far from where we stand.” “And you say you took my grandfather through that tunnel?”
“I did. I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”
Sushem glanced at the Senapati, who wore a dubious expression. Looking back at Dashrath, he asked, “Do you have any proof?”
Dasharath slipped a hand into his cloak and drew out a roll of cloth. He unrolled it slowly, letting it fall to the ground. A small shining circlet of gold remained in his hand.
“The ring…” Sushem said, recognizing it instantly. “It is my grandfather’s fabled ring. He wore it when he captured the city and till the day he died.”
“Do you think this is the true ring, My Lord?” the Senapati asked, inspecting it suspiciously.
Sushem stared at the ring for some time. Then he nodded. “It is,” he said. ‘There is no other like it.” He leaned forward, his grey eyes looking straight into Dasharath’s brown ones. “Why are you telling me all this; showing me this ring?” “The Order wishes to welcome you to the city as it once welcomed your grandfather. We wish to see you take the city and oust the Pretender, your brother, who sits on the throne just as the Nandas once did.”
Sushem took a deep breath. “This tunnel you speak of… can you tell us where it is?”
Dasharath smiled. “I cannot tell you, My Lord, but I can show you.”



About the Author:

Shreyas is a 21 year old guy currently pursuing his B.Tech in Electrical Eng. from VNIT Nagpur. His love for history since his childhood prompted him to write his take on the story of Asoka who was one of the towering figures in the history of India, which has been taken up as ‘The Asoka Trilogy’ by Leadstart Publishing.

The first part of the trilogy called ‘The Prince of Patliputra’ has been published in January 2016 and garnered positive responses.

He is also presently working on several other manuscripts and completing the final year of his engineering Course.

Connect with the Author:



Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Deadliest Fever

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A Miriam Bat Isaac Mystery in Ancient Alexandria
Historical Mystery
Date Published: April 2018
Publisher: Black Opal Books

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Miriam bat Isaac, a budding alchemist and amateur sleuth in first-century CE Alexandria, is concerned when she learns that the threads of gold in the Great Synagogue's Torah mantle have been damaged. She takes the mantle to Judah, a renowned jeweler and the unrequited love of her life. He repairs the threads and assures her that the stones in the mantle are still genuine. Like Miriam, he is astonished that someone would damage the threads but leave the gems behind.

Shortly before, the Jewish community of Alexandria welcomed their visiting sage and his family, who had just arrived from Ephesus on the Thalia. Also on the ship were the perpetrators of an audacious jewelry heist. And shortly after, the captain of the Thalia is found dead in a sleazy waterfront inn.

Can Miriam discover the connections among the jewel heist, the death of the sea captain, and the desecration of the Torah mantle before the deadliest fever claims its victim? Not without help from the bite of a rabid bat.





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Other Books in the Miriam bat Isaac Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria Mystery Series:


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The Deadliest Lie
A Miriam bat Isaac Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book One
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Published: October 2013

She's a brilliant alchemist-with a talent for solving mysteries.

Miriam bat Isaac is a budding scholar in first-century CE Alexandria, though her dreams seem doomed. Who in her household or among her fathers Shabbat guests stole the scrolls containing the Alchemical League's valuable formulas? Perhaps the thief was even her frantic father, on the cusp of financial ruin, eager for Miriam to end her dalliance with a handsome jeweler and marry into an honorable and wealthy family. Or her rebellious brother, intent on raising money to travel to Capua so he can enroll in the Roman Empires most renowned gladiator school. Or her faint-hearted fiancé, who begrudges her preoccupation with alchemy and yearns for their forthcoming marriage?

And how did the thief manage to steal them? Miriam is not only faced with a baffling puzzle, but, to recover the scrolls, she must stalk the culprit through the sinister alleys of Alexandrias claustrophobic underbelly. The Romans who keep a harsh watch over her Jewish community are trouble enough.

Miriam is based on the true personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.

June Trop (Zuckerman) has had over forty years of experience as an award-winning teacher and educator. Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she spends her time breathlessly following her intrepid protagonist, Miriam bat Isaac, who is back in the underbelly of Alexandria, once again searching for a murderer in The Deadliest Sport while worrying about her brother.





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The Deadliest Hate
A Miriam bat Isaac Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book Two
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Published: October 2015


The Roman Empire may be the least of her enemies.

A secret alchemical recipe to transmute copper into gold surfaces in first-century CE Caesarea. As soon as Miriam sets out to trace the leak, Judean terrorists target her for assassination. Eluding the assassins while protecting a secret of her own, she discovers that she, herself, is responsible for the leak. Moreover she is powerless to stop its spread throughout the Empire and beyond.

But who is really trying to kill Miriam? Is it a case of mistaken identity, or is her late-fianc√©’s ex-scribe, now an assistant to the Procurator of Judea, seeking to avenge an old grudge? Or is her heartthrob’s half-brother, a Judean patriot who inherited his mother’s mania, afraid Miriam knows too much?

And how did the recipe find its way from Alexandria to Caesarea anyway?

June Trop (Zuckerman) has had over forty years of experience as an award-winning teacher and educator. Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she spends her time breathlessly following her intrepid protagonist, Miriam bat Isaac, who is back in the underbelly of Alexandria, once again searching for a murderer in The Deadliest Sport while worrying about her brother.





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The Deadliest Sport
A Miriam bat Isaac Mysteries in Ancient Alexandria, Book Three
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Published: October 2017

Miriam bat Isaac, a budding alchemist in first-century CE Alexandria, welcomes her twin brother Binyamin home to fight his last gladiatorial bout in Alexandria. But when he demands his share of the family money so he can build a school for gladiators in Alexandria, Miriam explains that he forsook his share when he took the gladiatorial oath. When she refuses to loan him the money for what she feels is a shady, and dangerous, enterprise, Binyamin becomes furious. Soon after, the will of Amram, Miriam's elderly charge, turns up missing, Amram becomes seriously ill, and the clerk of the public records house is murdered. Could Binyamin really be behind this monstrous scheme? If not he, who could be responsible? And is Miriam slated to be the next victim?





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 Excerpt


May 1, Thursday, Almost Midnight:


He waited, listening to the darkness flow into the sanctuary. With the thick drapes blocking the flare of torches lining the Canopic Way, the only light scratching the air was the meager glow of the eternal flame, the ner tamid of Alexandria’s Great Synagogue.

The coolness of the night had already begun to assert itself. Just a little longer, he told himself as his fist closed around the open edges of his long black robe. A few minutes later, as his other hand pulled back the hood over his head, he emerged from his hiding place, his body taut, his legs tingling from having stood in place for so long.

Stretching his cramped muscles, he approached the front of the Torah Ark. His fingers trembled with excitement, his eyes shining with greed as he drew open the parokhet, the curtain that screened the Ark.

“Like a bride’s veil,” he said to himself, amused by the analogy.

With a self-congratulatory nod and a tight satisfied smile, he pulled open the ornate bronze doors and carried the Torah to the Reader’s Table. For a few moments, he gazed at the coveted prize adorning the Torah mantle, three peerless jewels, each set into the bowl of one of the three vessels embroidered in gold on the mantle.

He didn’t need much light. His eyes were already accustomed to the darkness, and his hands had performed this procedure many times before. Taking a few deep breaths to calm the twitch at the corner of his mouth, he removed a slim wooden box from the goatskin pouch attached to his belt, took out his tools, and lined them up on the table: his silver pick, plyers, tweezers, snips, and a double-handled vial of olive oil. Then he undressed the Torah and positioned the mantle so the jewels caught the narrow strip of light from the ner tamid.

Oh, Lord! Even in the thinnest light, they spew out their fire!

Half-frightened, worried that he’d uttered the words aloud, he released only a feather of breath.

But hearing no echo, his jaw softened.

He was safe.

Then, hunching over the table, balancing his forearms against the edge, he took hold of the pick and laid his hands on the mantle.

He tried to loosen the center stone, the emerald. The setting was tight. Very tight. He tried again, this time after placing a droplet of oil on each prong.

This is going to take a while.

He shifted his weight and continued.

The silence was absolute save for the occasional sputter of the ner tamid and the distant rumble of hooves on the Canopic Way’s granite pavement.

Until he heard loudening footfalls ringing out against the tessellated floor, waking the echoes in the corridor’s coffered ceiling.

A crease of light swept under the sanctuary’s ceiling-high, bejeweled double doors.

He froze and held his breath, as fear prickled down his spine, until the clicking heels receded into the silence. He blinked slowly and released an unbidden sigh. Just the watchman on his rounds. He won’t come in here. He locked the doors to the sanctuary and all the outside doors to the Synagogue hours ago and won’t open them again until dawn.







His fingers worked through the night. Despite the chill, rivulets of sweat trickled down his back and collected under his belt. He straightened up now and then, rolled his shoulders back, and cocked his head as he admired his work.

His mouth curved into a triumphant smile.

Beads of saliva clung to his lips.

By now a pearly grayness was seeping under the doors. He could see the darkness dissolving. Objects in the sanctuary were reclaiming their color and shape.

He mentally ticked off the remaining tasks: Dress the Torah. Put it back in the Ark. Tuck my prize and the tools into the box. Slide it back into my pouch. Slip out as soon as the watchman unlocks the doors but before what’s-his-name…Gershon, that’s it, Gershon ben Israel…comes in to check the sacred—

Oh, Lord, what on Earth is that squeaking sound? Surely not a bird.

A sharp-toothed, leathery-winged bat shot out of nowhere, swooped across the sanctuary, and, wheeling around the bemah, took a dive, and nipped the crown of the man’s head before disappearing with a shrill screech behind the Ark.

His thin howl—part gasp, scream, and strangled sob—tore through the sanctuary.

Then he heard a pair of boots smacking the tiles.

I gotta get out of here! Where’s the—

Dressing it quickly, he shoved the Torah into the Ark, throwing everything else into his pouch.

Except the vial.

The vial. Oops!

Oil everywhere.

Oh, Lord! Not now.

A hasty wipe with the sleeve of his robe.

The rising volume of hammering footsteps.

Now two sets—one close, the other farther away but catching up. Their volume swelled as they turned a corner.

Must be Gershon trailing the watchman.

The jangle of keys. The ping of the latch as the watchman unlocked the doors.

No place to hide. And, Lord, all this blood gushing from my head.

“No, Daniel, no!” Gershon shouted. “The other way. Hurry! The scream came from the library.”




About the Author

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June Trop and her twin sister Gail wrote their first story, "The Steam Shavel [sic]," when they were six years old growing up in rural New Jersey. They sold it to their brother Everett for two cents.

"I don't remember how I spent my share," June says. "You could buy a fistful of candy for a penny in those days, but ever since then, I wanted to be a writer."

As an award-winning middle school science teacher, June used storytelling to capture her students' imagination and interest in scientific concepts. Years later as a professor of teacher education, she focused her research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling. Her first book, From Lesson Plans to Power Struggles (Corwin Press, 2009), is based on the stories new teachers told about their first classroom experiences.

Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she devotes her time to writing The Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. Her heroine is based on the personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.



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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Violet Souls

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Fantasy Romance
Release Date: 5th September 2018

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While searching for clues to her past, shy single mum, Bree Mills discovers a subculture of aliens with supernatural abilities living on Earth.

And she’s one of them.

Finding herself hurled into a world of possibilities, it’s made more alluring by Quinn Taylor, the violet-eyed Evoxian from her childhood dreams.

324-year-old Quinn knows his destiny is entwined with Bree’s, but before he can confess his love, he must wait for her to sense the Akui, a mysterious force tied with ancient Evoxian law.

At a Cotswolds country manor, passions awaken and ignite a love more magical than the once-Utopian planet, Evox. Then Fate delivers a cruel and heart-breaking blow when Bree is kidnapped by a malicious alien who wants her and her power.

Will Quinn still love her when she’s faced with protecting her half-human daughter… whatever the cost?



Excerpt

“I know it must seem impossible to believe, but please give me a chance to explain.” Quinn’s amethyst gaze never left hers. “Haven’t you always felt different to everyone else? Did you ever wonder why your eyes are an unusual colour?”

Bree blinked like a stupid airhead.

“I know you sensed the connection to your talisman; surely you can’t deny that?”

Something tugged inside. Despite her fear, her confusion, and the craziness of what he’d told her, she controlled the impulse to run.

She could answer yes to every question, hell yes, but it didn’t mean she came from another planet…did it?

Her head spun. Erratic thoughts swirled like dust motes caught in a breeze. She was a single mum, slightly odd maybe, but living an ordinary, uneventful life, or at least trying to. How could this be happening? Beads of sweat dampened her brow, her neck. Could it be true?

“Let me show you something, then you can decide. Would you give me your talisman, please?”

With no idea why, Bree took off the pendant and handed it to him, flicking her tongue across lips that were drier than the Sahara.

He tilted his head in the direction of the small table. “Sit down and I’ll prove it to you.”

With her legs buckling at the knees, she had no choice but to do as he asked.

Quinn closed the curtains, blocking the bright shaft of sunlight, then sat in the seat opposite. His intoxicating scent, sandalwood, soap and the faintest whiff of zesty orange shampoo filled her senses, made her insides fizz with anticipation. “Hold both hands out, please, palms upwards on the table.”

Bree wiped her clammy palms on her jeans. Yep, I’m the crazy one here.

“Okay, try to relax.”

Un-bloody-believable. How the hell was she supposed to relax? Not to mention the touch of his hot, dry hand was playing havoc with her pulse rate.

***


About the Author

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Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal and fantasy romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband and their four children.

When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists' Association.



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Monday, 6 August 2018

The Shadow Minds Journal


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Dark Fantasy
Date Published: August 6, 2018
Publisher: Crystal Publishing

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New Series from International Award Winning Author, Kia Carrington-Russell:



Limited time Pre-Order Price:  $.99

Price increases to list price of $3.99 on August 13th



In this world, there are creatures lurking in the shadows. As a child, I once played with them. As a teenager, I began to fear them and became victim to their attacks. As an adult, I now realize that no matter how much I try to escape the grasp of this world, I was inevitably born into it.

Now reborn as a Guardian in the year of 2986, Vivian Lair must uphold the treaty between Angels and Demons on the human world and city of Shabeah. Contracted to seven demons who she can shift into while taking direct orders from the Underworld Lord, Haymen, it wasn’t exactly her ideal rebirth. Involving herself with the Angel of War, Gabe is even worse.

Still fighting those who try to possess her during her sleep, Vivian must now record and try to hunt the Volv through the Shadow Minds Journal. Now stuck between the hatred and lust of two of the most powerful entities in all worlds, Vivian is involved inevitably in the upcoming conflict.

Blood. Lust. War. She must kill before being killed.




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Excerpt



The Shadow Minds Journal- Prologue



The problem with sleeping was it left me vulnerable to the creatures that would prey on me at night. In this place, a very distant and dark reality, I could not fight, scream, or control the environment. All I could do was run. The world and experience were completely controlled by the entity which was imposed on me. All I could do was my best at escaping its clutches and not fall for the numerous ways that they would come to me. Was I terrified? Extremely, because every time was the matter of life and death. Was I strong enough?

                Sometimes I dreamt normally, like any other human. Little did anyone know that before I was turned into a Guardian I already had run-ins with these creatures of the night. Those attacks started when I was a teenager and entirely human. No one knew, not even Haymen, and I would keep that information hidden. The attacks increased when I reached adulthood but I was able to better identify it, prepare myself for the lethargic effect it would play on my body. It increased and it got worse. But I was able to handle it somehow until Haymen turned me and forced the contract upon me. Death would have been my better option. Now being a Guardian, I was the very host that those entities savagely struck and now I had to find a new way to handle it and disperse their interest in me.

Just like now, I was dreaming, rather standard and easy sleeping. But then there was a shift, like my dream had connected into a different channel on an old tv antenna. The dream went slightly distorted, or should I say, it felt like I went distorted. Sometimes instead of a new attack, I would relive memories of the old ones.

I was already running along the dark road which surrounded me with dim houses, the light posts flickered off as I ran past each of them. The man or creature behind me was laughing as he chased me with a slight limp that did nothing to affect his speed. I was no longer the sixteen-year-old girl who had first lived this but tears still welled in my eyes as I panicked. I could not fight them. I knew I couldn’t. I could not change into my demon forms and I knew that to linger, to try and oppose the entity of whomever it was, would only allow it to get closer to me.

I ran faster; my lungs heaving and shards spreading up from the chill in the air. My breath began to lock from exhaustion as I felt him getting closer and the odd niggle on my back, a brush with coldness that I feared was him catching up and his fingers reaching for me. I could not let him touch me! He would possess and take hold of my body. He would kill me from the inside and I feared not to face death but the uncertainty of what kind of afterlife or darkness it would spiral me into. These creatures were unholy and the touch of demonic spirit that not even I wanted to confront in the light of day.

I noticed an old warehouse which splayed lights on and ran for it. I knew I shouldn’t have. But it seemed like every other option around me had disappeared. He was leading me into there.

The bright lights of the warehouse which catered for a retail store speckled my sight for a second. I panted for only a moment before dashing between the shelving, forklifts, and jumping over crates. I looked behind me but couldn’t see him. My shoulder smashed into the corner of one of the crates throwing me off balance. I caught myself and instinctually clutched for my shoulder heaving. The hair on my arms rose as I circled around in the small shelving I was at. My breath was heavy and I willed it to stop. Please. He will hear me. A tear slid down my face. This was my sixteen-year-old self reliving the moment. Ready to wake and cry to my mother about a force against me that I could not explain. I knew what was to come but I still tried to change the fate of it. It didn’t make it any less terrifying.

I turned to run into the other direction when a splash of cold water hit me. It felt like shards over my already too cold body and I screamed from the pain. The chuckle from the chucky doll ran up my leg and across my shoulder with an open wire. I didn’t have time to react but only to scream. As soon as the wire touched my entire body I convulsed and hit the floor with the current of electricity that my body could never handle…



My body was convulsing as I woke despite the sleep paralysis I woke up with every time I had one of ‘those’ dreams. Tears slid down my eyes as I felt like I was that sixteen-year-old girl once again. I knew what would happen. It was the same as last time. Eventually, the convulsing stopped and I could move. Slowly but surely, I sat up to sit in my King-sized bed, the silky light blanket dropping to the floor with my movement. I wiped away the drool from my mouth and wrapped my arms around my legs. I sat in the dark unable to identify anything in my room. Luke had left hours before and I made certain of that. I never slept with another in the room. It was a vulnerability and a risk I wasn’t willing to take. No one else could know about the night terrors that haunted us.

I sighed heavily trying to balance my breathing. So much has changed since I first had that dream at sixteen. Now twenty-four, I no longer had my mother to cry to. She died when I was seventeen. She didn’t understand, didn’t want to. Saying that it was just a nightmare. But at least I had that companionship and someone to talk to instead of others who would say I was going crazy. In a twisted way I wondered if it was the reason why I was handpicked by Haymen to become a Guardian. Not that he ever said anything from that day and I couldn’t remember how I was turned. I just remember that it was against my will. I never dared ask the others if they had the same experiences in their human life too.

I touched the large silken marble on my bedside table that summoned Doc. I had to report this to the Shadow Mind Journals. The only thing I would keep to secrecy was that I was reliving the nightmare, I had to tell Doc that it was all anew. The Shadow Mind Journals was the recording and deciphering of those who reached out to us in our dreams. It was in hope that we could identify the entity and it could be tracked so then we could hunt them during the day. There were many secrets of the Guardians but no outsiders knew that this was our true purpose. To find those who Haymen considered his greatest threat, or so I presumed.  I couldn’t imagine anyone going to all this trouble to find one species of demon unless threatened by it in some way.



I walked up the hallway from my bedroom and placed my hand on the marble panel of the door. It instantly slid open. The white room was bright in comparison to the darkness of the hall I had just walked through. It was the sector within our home that Doctor Tellith would appear at as soon as we summoned her. She was a witch that worked for Haymen and kept track of our stability and the physical toll that the dreams were taking on us. Not out of concern but as to whether we were close to being compromised. We were simply property in Haymen’s eyes and that thought was extended to those who worked for him. The attacks drained us physically more than any of us would admit and that was because while we were running and fighting for survival the entities were sucking the life out of us, hoping to drain us completely so they could take our bodies upon the next attack. It was still questionable as to whether the soul was sucked out and eaten or if the person remained and screamed beside their laughing possessor. It wasn’t something I was ready to find out.

“Those leaves fall into your hair, Doc?” I asked her as I looked at the colored feathers threaded through her black tangible hair. She arched an eyebrow not raising those wooden brown eyes from her task at hand. The room was surrounded by few white benches and she ushered me to sit back into the white leather chair.

                “Were your poor manners a result of being dropped as an infant?” She asked as she pressed the needle into the vein of my arm. I smiled at her and her own were filled with the same lack of delight. My dark mahogany, almost black blood threaded through the tube, reminding me that I was far from human.

                “I don’t know why we have to do blood tests each time,” I said in agitation. Despite my warrior like attitude, from human life to now, I still did not like needles.

                “I told you last time. I will take a sample out each time to see if there’s any variance and besides, I need more from you than the others. We still haven’t identified the heritage of four of the demons who you’re contracted with,” she said.

                “I didn’t contract them,” I said laying my head back and looking up to the bright light. “They came to me and for whatever reason that might’ve been they just have no appetite to appear in front of me yet.”

                “But unlike the others you seem to be hazy on those who accepted and contracted with?” She said now taking the needle out. It was true. After the initial contract with Haymen, I was faced with demons who encouraged my growth and would aid me in my task as a Guardian. They were demons who had already died in their lifetime and were willing to resurface when I needed their strength. And yet unlike the others, I completely blacked out and awoke in this very house with tattoo markings that stretched out further than most.

                “Oh, come on. It’s kind of like a surprise every time I turn, what’s in the box?!” I joked with her. She shook her head and as usual did not find it funny.

                “You’re lucky so far that in most situations you have the descendant of a demon who can challenge the ones you are hunting. But I fear without this data one day you might be caught off guard and you might be seriously injured.” She labelled the clear bag which held my thick substance of blood and scribbled down in her diary a language which I couldn’t identify. Witch scribblings. The black ink shortly went invisible and I imagined only eligible for her eyes.

                “I don’t fear fighting in the real world, Doc,” I said with much purpose. “It’s the demons when I sleep that will end me.” She looked up from her notepad with a grim expression and that was fact. That’s how more than seventy percent of our kind had died to date. And Tellith had been around for many years opposed to what her naturally youthful skin looked like.

                “It’s necessary so we can find them. These entities are what truly challenge the treaty. On top of that, they are an immediate threat to Haymen and his empire. That is why you are contracted.” I knew not to argue with her or tell her how I truly felt about that statement. It wasn’t disclosed to us why they were such a threat to Haymen, but what I couldn’t voice to people was that contract to him wasn’t signed willingly by myself. All those that worked for Haymen would never speak ill of him. To do so would be death.

                She brushed away my hair and I presented the back of my neck all too used to the process now. “I heard you had a pretty little angel at your hip last night,” she mused as if trying to distract me. How things circulated quickly around here. Then again, the entire house was monitored.

                “And most of the morning,” I added. “Four hours to be exact until I kicked him out because I heard Destiny coming back. To say the least I think she is burning the couch.”

                She smiled with little humor and raised the small metallic chip which had four sharp prongs on it. She pressed my head down and injected it into the back of my neck.

                “Shadow Mind Journal activated,” the room sounded in a woman’s robotic like tone. I closed my eyes not wanting to relive the experience of my dream. But that would be to feign ignorance and weakness. I looked up to the ceiling again where now the room had dimmed and my nightmare was displayed on a projector. Tellith was the first inspector as she watched and studied it, as she always had done. As she did, she monitored the small screen beside her which read information about my body’s reaction during that time. I watched on as I ran through streets, the experience threatening to make me want to coil up again. But to do so would be to show weakness. Especially in front of a witch employed to Haymen.

                And so, we watched on until the last moment of my convulsing and then the image distorted and sharply cut out.

                “This one seemed different. You didn’t look back or try to confront the attacker. You lacked in trying to identify them or the location,” Tellith said scribbling in her book with ink that would soon disappear. “Your brain waves are also overlapping like a few of your previous collections. I will ask you again, Vi, is this a memory, have you dreamt this before?”

                “Not that I know of,” I said and held her gaze. Tellith had her suspicions of that I was certain. She eyed me and ripped the reader out without warning. I rubbed my hand against the back of my neck, trying to remove the itch that remained. She pressed a small cloth there to wipe away the blood that would’ve already begun to clot and heal. “I’m sorry, I figured it was too dark to see him, which is why I was looking for better lighting in the warehouse.” I lied.

                Her face was expressionless as she continued writing. Doc was the first to examine it. I wasn’t sure what happened to the journals afterwards and if there was another program or team on it afterwards. I suspected there was more to the story of the Shadow Mind Journals and our purpose but I learned long ago to not press for answers. There were always consequences. Especially when that demon I had in mind was Haymen.

                “If you recall anything else or would like to enter new data please let me know. Until then, you are dismissed Vi,” she said widening her hand out towards the door.

                “Hey Doc, we haven’t seen Alexa for a while,” I said thinking of the fourth in our team. The fifth was killed weeks ago and a new member would be deployed to us in coming weeks.

                “She is with me for the time being,” Tellith said. “It shouldn’t be too long before she comes back.” Doreen, the prior Guardian that we hadn’t seen for weeks had spent one of her final weeks with Tellith. She didn’t disclose much to us but told us she had a close call. Tellith made her physically stable and healthy but we knew Doreen hadn’t been the same since. One week later she went missing. No body to remain, only the knowledge that she had been possessed and a message painted in her own blood on the walls in a language far older than any of my ancestral demons could read. Only Haymen who immediately ported in seemed to know what it read. He simply told us to clean it off the walls and repaint over it for the next Guardian who came.

                Knowing that our discussion was over I nodded goodbye and left the room. I took a moment to catch my breath on the other side of the door. I rolled my shoulders and cracked my neck. I embraced the demon blood within me, taking a deep breath and feeling comforted by the power that radiated within me and of the knowledge those demons brought me. This was now the real world and day. I could protect myself and kill as I pleased.


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About the Author 

 photo The Shadow Minds Journal Author Kia Carrington-Russell_zps5smb5qrr.jpg
Kia Carrington-Russell grew up in the Darling Downs Region in Queensland, Australia. Graduating High School, she pursued a career in freelance journalism. In 2014, having always had a passion for writing fiction, she decided to follow her dream of becoming an accomplished author.

During the weekdays Kia works at her Monday to Friday job in Logistics and Transport. She leaves her book worlds to the night and weekends, being well described as a driven young woman.

Now living in Brisbane, Australia, Kia has a can do attitude, a strong will and the touch of kindness that makes it hard not to fall in love with her. Announced 'The Best New Author of 2015' by AusRomToday, she has no intentions of stopping. Kia Carrington-Russell is definitely the new author to be looking out for.

Learn more about Kia at www.kiacarrington-russell.com/ and follow @kia_crystal on Instagram.



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