I am thrilled to announce: Realm of Beasts is LIVE today and holy cow look at that cover!!!
The inspiration for this story came from a mashup of ideas.
1. I love mythical beasts, and while dragons get all the glory (with good reason), I also wanted to call attention to some of the other mythical creatures. One of my favorite books about beasts is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip, which features a wizard who collects beasts. Citrine is a faint echo of that wizard and she also collects beasts in a different way.
2. My second inspiration was the movie Fantastic Beasts. I adored the visuals of the movie and the personality of the beasts. I decided to create Ava the dragon with her own sarcastic personality to add a bit of humor to the story. As you read the book, you’ll see an illustration of Ava at the beginning of each chapter.
3. My final inspiration is the TV show Doctor Who. While you won’t see obvious similarities, I tried to replicate the emotions Doctor Who gave me and transport them into a fantasy adventure.
I poured my heart into this fast-paced fantasy tale. It’s short and sweet but there’s more coming! This is only the first of a six book series and you’ll follow the adventures of Citrine the Enchantress and Tor Lir the Nameless One throughout each book.
Well, enough blabbering and freaking out, here are the purchase links.
Grab the ebook (99 cents) or paperback ($12.99) using the links below:
Realm of Beasts: Chapter One
Summer. Year 965. Land of Lock. The South World.
Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my name?
Three questions buzzed around his head like vultures over a fresh kill as he crept toward the gut-wrenching smell. His nose wrinkled. A rotten scent wafted through the air, ruining the pleasant flavors of nature with the stench of death. His pulse pounded as he crawled through the golden-yellow grass waving above his head, his movements silent like the wild cats that stalked the forest and open lands.
If you want to know who you are and where you came from, go to Daygone.
The words rang in his memory as if it were yesterday. Ten years ago, he had said goodbye to the green giantess who raised him and spoke those words. He knew she was not a giant, but that’s how he preferred to think of her, for her true name was a harbinger of death. The word Daygone rang in his head like a bad omen—a place where dreams went to die. A darkness flashed in the giant’s eyes when she said the word. Daygone. He could almost detect the bitter mystery that turned rotten, much like the scent he breathed now.
He twitched his nose as a swarm of gnats rose, droning around his face as if fighting an invisible war with one who dared invade their haven of grass. Pausing on all fours, he took a deep breath, fighting back the sneeze until it erupted out of his throat. Ka-choom!
A guilty cough followed as he glanced around, scanning the green meadow with his dark eyes to see if he had disturbed anyone.
An ear-splitting screech made him jump as a flock of buzzards rose in the air, flapping their dark wings and screaming at each other. Torn bits of flesh hung from their claws and blood covered their beaks. He squinted. Whatever kill they were devouring had been dead for a few days.
“Torrrrrr Lir . . .” A sing-song voice called in warning and a creature pounced on him, knocking him flat on his back. He grunted in annoyance as the creature sat on his torso, pinning him down while pounding on his chest.
“Why did you leave?” she demanded, poking him none too gently. “It took me days to find you. If I wasn’t skilled in tracking, I might not have found you at all.” The liquid-gold eyes of the female Jesnidrain moved with animation as she scolded him and jabbed his ribs with her sharp fingernails.
“Lelia.” He cut her off abruptly as he held up both hands in surrender. He felt peeved she’d been able to find him so quickly. “What are you doing out here? You’re not supposed to leave the forests of Shimla.”
The five-foot-tall creature paused mid-sentence and a swift look of anger came over her heart-shaped face. Her jeweled eyes narrowed and her pointed ears turned red as they quivered. “You can leave, but I can’t?”
“I am not an Iaen.” Tor Lir trailed off as Lelia scowled down at him. Her nose twitched, yet she looked lovely, glaring down at him while smelling of the jasmine gardens of Shimla. Giving into weakness, he let his thoughts drift, inhaling her scent and enjoying the warmth of her body pressed against his. Her pert breasts stood out and if he reached out a hand, he could squeeze them and rub his face between them as he’d done often in the past.
“You are an Iaen,” Lelia insisted, emphasizing her words with one last jab. “Besides, if you can leave Shimla, so can I.”
He propped his upper body on his elbows, slightly dislodging the Jesnidrain. Keeping his expression calm, he attempted to explain. “But you cannot come with me. It could be dangerous.”
“You lie.” Her anger dissolved into laughter. “What could be dangerous in this world? There is nothing to fear.” She wriggled her hips, clutching his body with her thighs as if he were a horse.
“You don’t know and neither do I,” he disagreed, ignoring her attempt at foreplay. He was strong enough to leave the seduction of the Iaens of Shimla once, and he would do so again. “It’s our first time leaving the shelter of Shimla, a world within worlds. We don’t know what it’s like out here in the realm of mortals.”
“Why are you out here in the realm of mortals?” She crossed her arms over her chest, her ruby lips drawn down into a frown.
He sat up, sliding her further off his body. He moved his face closer until their noses were mere inches apart. “You know why I have to go. I am the balancer of good and evil. The past twenty years were calm, but I sense the seeds of unrest have sprouted. Where there is mischief, I must restore the balance. Where there is need, it is unsafe. You cannot come with me. You are not strong enough.”
“But you are.” All the same, the Jesnidrain’s words came out sullen as she met his gaze and tilted her head, begging for a kiss. “You can protect me.”
“Not if the balance calls for death. It’s best to stay away. If peace comes and I can return, I will.” He kept his tone solemn as he looked her in the eye, neither moving nor blinking.
After a moment, Lelia shivered and stood. Backing away from him, she rubbed her hands over her bare arms. Her straight black hair swished around her waist and the intoxicating scent of jasmine faded.
He studied her, examining her lithe form as he waited for the truth to sink into her mind. When he was young, he’d noted the uncanny vibe he gave off. It was an aura of cool aloofness. When he slowed down his words and stared into someone’s eyes, they felt cold like the breath of an icy winter coming for them. The first time he’d used the odd power was on the green giantess, and occasionally he used it when the minor annoyances of the Iaens—the immortal creatures of Shimla—grew too alluring. He already regretted trysting with Lelia the Jesnidrain. In the future, he would control his urges lest a flock of unwanted females followed wherever he went.
“I will walk with you until nightfall,” Lelia decided, her steady voice leaving no room for questions.
He shrugged, torn between conflicting feelings. Lelia was a slight seductress in her own way, but she was smart and her company was not completely unwelcome. Turning his back to her, he took a few steps forward. “Do you smell that?”
The corners of Lelia’s mouth turned down and the perfect skin in between her brows creased into wrinkles. “It smells foul . . .” She trailed off and strode forward while the grasses parted for her muscular calves.
He eyed her and followed a few paces behind.
She slowed down as she reached the spot where the buzzards had flown. Tilting his head, Tor Lir spotted the birds circling above, waiting for peace so they could return to their interrupted meal.
A high-pitched shriek jerked his head back down. Lelia stood rigid, frozen in terror as she screamed. Tor Lir watched her with lidded eyes, keeping the smirk from crossing his face while the words I warned you danced on the edge of his lips. Genuine horror made Lelia’s face red as the beets that grew on the outskirts of Shimla while her round eyes looked as if they would pop.
When her first fright had passed, she spun around. Eyes blazing, she stalked back to him with her hands on her hips. Scorn was written across her face and her jaw tightened as she glared up at him. Before he could react, she lifted a hand with lightning speed and slapped his cheek. The sound rang out, echoing across the quiet meadow. His hand flew to his face, more surprised than hurt at her reaction.
“I’ve always known you were full of tricks!” She spewed her words at him. “You play with power and make sure everything that happens is according to your desires, but this is too far! I am done with you, Tor Lir of Shimla. You are no longer welcome in my Jasmine Gardens and I’ll make sure every Jesnidrain knows to stay away from you.”
Tor Lir snorted as she marched away, spreading the thin wings on her back, gaining speed. Although she had wings, she couldn’t fly. Her kind lived with a misfortune. Some of them had the ability of flight while others did not. He supposed she meant her words to be damaging, but he felt grateful the danger in the realm of mortals turned out to be true. No longer would he be saddled with her delicious yet annoying company. He made a note to be careful who he had sex with, for beauty and pleasure were fleeting.
Free of distractions, he strutted over to gaze at the dead creature the buzzards had been eating. The sight made his blood run cold, and he took a step backward, almost tripping over his own feet.
A male lay headlong in the grass. Dark sockets where his eyes used to be gazed at the cloudless sky while clotted blood covered his body. His flesh was in various stages of decay due to the warmth and new blood that spurted from the holes where the buzzards pecked away.
Death was a word he knew yet had never seen, and revulsion shook his body. It was clear something killed the male in a ruthless and painful manner and then left him to rot. His soul would have trouble passing to the Beyond without a proper burial. Thoughts swirled through Tor Lir’s mind.
Who did this? Where are they? Why?