In June we went over to Fort Madison, and on the way home we stopped in Mount Pleasant (mainly to get Paul Revere’s Pizza). While waiting (for the pizza place to open) I took a few shots of the square – something I’ve always been “going to” do. Yeah, it just took me almost twenty years to get it done.
I got these done some time ago, but just noticed I’d never shared them here, so there you go. I also finished the photos from our visit to the old fort in Fort Madison that I’ll post later.
Have a photo editing kinda day!
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
All I wanna do is finish this story, but between internet issues and needing to get to bed, I didn’t make it. Plus, I don;t know where to end it. If you’ve read Shades of Gray you know which battle this is leading to. How much of it do I want to rewrite from a different PoV? I mean, how boring would it be for people who’ve read the book? Anyway, I guess I have another week to decide. Meantime, here is what we have for this week:
Franklin listened to the first three interviews, but the sameness bored him. It was almost as if they were rehearsed; even going so far as to use the same phrase: “Michael betrayed the coven to help Jorick and his fledgling.” What might have been interesting – such as why he betrayed them, or why Oren and the Hand of Death had suddenly decided to take Claudius’ mate over an “old disagreement”, or even a some clue about Kateesha’s involvement – were topics that Senya and Bren ignored.
I suppose they’re not interested in it.
Claudius skulked in the background, looking angrier and angrier with each passing minute. When Franklin abandoned the interviews, he made a point to walk past the irate vampire and caught a snarled comment to Troy.
“-stop all of this time wasting! If they mean to begin, begin!”
Franklin kept his reply to himself and headed outside. Zuri leaned against the building, arms crossed, eyes closed. He didn’t open them, but still nodded as Franklin stopped next to him.
“The Hand of Death,” he said finally.
Franklin sucked air through his teeth and looked up to the star strewn sky. “And Kateesha, the Tormenter in the same fight.”
“Did you work with them?” Zuri turned reddish-brown eyes on him.
“I was a guard while he was there, though I never worked an assignment with him. I was prompted to Executioner after her revolt.”
Zuri nodded. “I worked with both as a guard, and was made Executioner when she left the first time.”
“You served under her command, then?”
Zuri nodded. “She makes Senya seem sweet. They say women’s tongues are as sharp as two edged swords…everything about Kateesha was deadly.”
“I know. And him…”
They fell silent, and Franklin knew they were both thinking the same thing: five Executioners wasn’t enough.
Not to fight both of them.
Senya and Bren finished their interviews, then Senya took time to threaten Claudius one more time before they climbed back in the vehicles. A short trip later and they were at the airfield again.
“The flight should be just over an hour,” Senya told them as they took seats on the plane. “We’ll meet the others and take shelter for the day. Tomorrow night we’ll retrieve his prize, assuming she’s even there.”
“You think he’s lying?” Greneth asked with surprise.
“Claudius? No, though I’m sure he’s withholding plenty about this so-called hostilities. He’s been in trouble several times recently for unlawful wars.” She brandished the folder. “His accounts have even been frozen until it can be sorted out. I imagine that has something to do with taking a month to report the kidnapping. No doubt he’s just as guilty as they are. Why else would there be a sudden escalation in a war that’s dragged on for more than twenty years?”
Franklin cocked an eyebrow. “So we’re not going to get involved?”
Senya scoffed. “We’ll follow our orders. We’ll attack Oren’s den, deal with the occupants, and if Claudius’ mate is there, we’ll take her. If not, it won’t be time wasted – not if the rumors are true.”
“What rumors?” Greneth asked.
“Haven’t you heard?” Senya asked, a hint of mocking in her tone. “They say Jorick’s fledgling keeps a secret.”
“What secret?” Greneth asked impatiently.
She rolled her eyes. “If that was known, it wouldn’t be a secret!”
Bren snickered, and with a huff Greneth turned back to his little red book.
They landed in Virginia, where vehicles were waiting for them. They were driven to a local den, where they met up with the other guards.
After a quick call to the Guild, Bren informed them that the Execution Council would meet them tomorrow. “At Oren’s den,” he added with a glance to Senya.
“They’re too spineless to even travel with the warriors,” she said. “It’s a waste of time. It would be better if Malick just gave us permission to kill everyone.”
If we can, Franklin thought.
They bedded down in room with covered windows. Franklin called Migina with a quick update, and promised to be home soon. “It’s just a battle with two legends. How could it go wrong?”
Though it was a joke, he heard the fear echoed in Migina’s voice, “Don’t engage them. There will be plenty of smaller fish.”
“You doubt my abilities now?” he teased.
It took her a moment too long to answer. “No.”
“Then you doubt my word? I promised you I’d return.”
It was another moment before she said, “Just be careful.”
“I will.” He smiled into the phone. “I promise.”
Franklin woke just before sunset. In a strange place, he had nowhere to go, so he waited until the others woke to climb to his feet and dust off his coat.
Bren gave one of their hosts a hard look. “Where do you feed?”
“In-in the trees. There’s animals.”
“There are,” Greneth murmured.
Franklin shot him a questioning look, and Greneth repeated, “There are. There are animals. Never mind. Writers are sensitive to poor grammar.”
And so are bad poets, apparently.
Senya checked the app, then told them to feed quickly. “We want to get there early so we have plenty of time.”
Franklin trooped outside and through the trees. He found a fox quickly and used his abilities to freeze it in place. Unlike a whisperer, who could soothe and calm their victims, a puppet master’s target remained completely aware, just unable to control their body, even as their brain screamed in terror.
He emptied the animal quickly and sat back on his haunches, the smell of dead leaves and undergrowth heavy in his nose. With the smell always came the memory of that night. By the time they’d dragged him from under the bed, his family was already dead. He couldn’t remember exactly what was said, but Kelly had announced something to the effect that they could use a slave. Instead of killing him, they’d taken him with them. He’d escaped once on the way through the dark woods. He clearly remembered running, stumbling, falling face first among the dead leaves. Even now, so many years later, that smell brought back a shadow of the terror he’d felt; a stab of blood scented fear.
Fear Kelly taught him to hide with the lash of a belt.
Or several lashes is more like it.
Franklin pushed away the past and met the others near the house. Senya, phone pressed to her ear, motioned them into the vehicles.
She hung up and swung into the passenger seat. “The Execution Council is en route.” She looked over her shoulder. “We’ll park just down from the den and arrive on foot to prevent a surprise attack from them.”
Franklin pulled his bag into his lap and dug out a set of daggers and something that looked like a machete in a leather sheath. He tugged it out, double checking that the three square cut notches were clean. They were what gave it the ability to grab a vampire’s heart and rip it out a single move, and what had earned it the title, “heart breaker”.
He jammed it back in the sheath. We’re going to break some hearts tonight, sweetheart.
- elements 2. water bending 3. fire and water 4. set fire to the rain 5. burning ice 6. ice candle 7. I bet Jonathan guesses this one. 8. His voodoo skills are strong. 9. If he doesn’t guess it then I’ll know he’s holding back on purpose. 10. or else he ran out of rubber chickens. 11. frozen fire 12. burning cold 13. cold as fire 14. blue light 15. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. 16. cold flame 17. a song of ice and fire 18. freezing in the dark 19. cold comfort 20. drip
And here we are – a week’s worth of thankfulness!
1. I was grateful this week that Shaun sent me the info for GuruShots, a fun photo challenge app. They host challenges and you upload pics to it, and vote on other’s photos. Simple, fun, and the different themes could be an inspiration for taking pics if you want (or you can use old ones, which is what I am doing at the moment). If you’re on Guru Shots hit me up – I’m under Joleene Naylor (just using my FB account)
2. I was especially grateful to get the front/side flowerbed plastic put down and mulched. it took 40 garden staples! 40! 😮
3. I was thankful to FINALLY get a 100% IV Pokemon (This is their stats like attack, defense, etc. The higher the stats, the better they are when fighting.) I’ve only been checking IVs or a couple of months, so I may have had one before and tossed it without knowing (you have to use a separate app/site to check the pokemon’s IV).
4. I was also grateful that my rocks turned out so well. I’d be even MORE thankful if I could find some painted by someone else once in awhile!
5. On Friday i was thankful to finally catch Raiku! We did two raids and I caught him at both! This saved on grocery day, so it saved us having to go back to Omaha for a second day this weekend.
6. I was also grateful for getting the spindles for the front porch started and for getting the last of the blue and red painted on the deck (there are little squares that will go at the top that are also red, but they need nailed up still)
7. Sunday I was sick, but I was grateful to Amy Wilson for suggesting the anime Yona of the Dawn. I spent the whole day binge watching all 24 episodes. I need more. More!
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog post. This week’s prompts are:
Last week we started Franklin, whose story begins during the novel Shades of Gray (If you’ve read the book you’ll know where this is going. if not, you’ll be surprised.) Franklin and four other Executioners are being sent to deal with a complaint that involves Jorick – the so-called Hand of Death. A former Executioner, Jorick is the fledgling of the Guild’s leader, and a bit of a legend.
Now on to part 2!
Franklin climbed inside a vehicle and tried to relax as it thumped over gravel roads to a rural airport. A large rural airport, whose runways had been expanded to handle The Guild’s private jets. Though how all of them were going to fit in one of the jets was a mystery. Franklin was pretty sure that their maximum capacity was twelve.
They disembarked, and Senya answered the question. “The guards will take a plane to Virginia and wait for us. We– ” she motioned to the executioners and her four favorites, “ –will stop in New York first. I’d like to speak to Claudius myself.”
They boarded the planes. Overstuffed seats, small tables, a kitchen and sofa made it look more like a meeting room than a vehicle. Franklin inhaled the scent of leather upholstery and took a seat near a shuttered window. Greneth dropped next to him, the red book open again, pencil between his lips.
Franklin leaned over to see the poem in progress. The mention of an Eskimo had done nothing to help the prose, and Franklin bit back a snicker as he settled in for a quick flight.
By the time they landed at a New York airport, Franklin was thoroughly sick of Greneth, his poem, and his artsy airs. The only amusement had been seeing the blonde shoot dagger looks at Bren’s back. Every time Senya leaned close to whisper into Bren’s ear, Greneth’s narrowed eyes got tighter, and a little muscle ticked in his jaw.
Maybe Migina’s right about them?
Franklin made a mental note to mention it when he called her later, and exited the plane. The airport was on the outskirts of a small town whose lights twinkled in the darkness. The facilities lights blazed; runway lights, pole lights, even the windows of the buildings were bright, but there was no other sign of life. No people – or cars – waiting for them.
Senya made an impatient noise and motioned to her guards. As though they were psychic – and maybe they were, Franklin didn’t know their names or their talents – one quickly snapped their phone on and in less than a minute was threatening someone on the other end.
“We expect transportation to arrive immediately,” the guard snapped. “Your coven requested our presence, the least you can do is contribute what is asked of you.”
A few murmured sounds told Franklin that the vampire on the other end had capitulated. The guard hung up and announced, “They’ll be here post haste.”
“They’d better.” Bren crossed his arms. “Claudius may be an old vampire, but he doesn’t have as much political power as he thinks – certainly not enough to make us wait.”
Senya broke into angry agreement, while Franklin nudged Zuri. “This Claudius…Is he the one I think he is?”
“The one who’s been complaining for years?” Zuri asked.
Franklin nodded. “He has a large coven?”
Zuri tugged out his cellphone and opened the Executioner app. A few clicks and a swipe, then he held the phone out for Franklin to see. He skimmed the information:
“Fledgling of Francoise (deceased)… turned in the 1500s in France…immigrated…coven fifty plus…multiple dens… mate, Arowenia…fledglings: Arowenia, Kale…quite a list there. Known associates…known antagonists…Oh wow. Now that’s really a list…Though I don’t see Jorick’s name.”
“He’s new.” Zuri flipped the phone back around. “See this Oren mentioned here? He’s Jorick’s fledgling. They’ve been at it since the 80s, so I’d guess Jorick finally got involved. If he really is involved, that is.”
Franklin nodded as Zuri slipped his phone back in his pocket. He also doubted that the Hand of Death had suddenly come out of retirement for a minor skirmish. But then, stranger things had happened. Maybe he was bored after more than a hundred years lying low?
I would be.
Two vans arrived, one driven by a redhead and the other by a stocky bald guy. Franklin could sense the alpha attitude from the later, and slipped into the backseat just behind Bren. This was likely to be interesting.
“It took you long enough,” Bren snapped as he got comfortable. “Next time I assume you’ll be on time – as ordered.
The driver scoffed. “Ordered by who, huh? Claudius is my master, and he didn’t say shit to me about picking you up. He probably assumed that with all The Guild’s resources you could handle driving yourselves.”
Bren snarled. “What’s your name?”
The driver chortled. “Troy, fledgling of O’Cuinn.”
“You said Claudius was your master!”
“He’s the coven master. Don’t you guys do your research, or do you just fly in blind?”
“Watch your tone, Troy, fledgling of O’Cuinn, or I may find you an interference.”
Troy fired the van up. “You go right ahead and do that. Then you can drive yourselves.”
They took off, spraying gravel. Franklin glanced to the guard at his elbow, but the vampire didn’t seem amused. He missed Migina. She’d have found the display hilarious.
Bren made a show of removing his gloves in short, choppy motions, then called The Guild to loudly report that they were “-finally en route to the den. Make a note that Claudius did not even provide adequate transportation, despite being ordered to. Also make a note of Troy, fledgling of O’Cuinn as potentially needing dealt with.”
There was more, but Franklin tuned it out to watch silent countryside pass by outside; dark hillsides kissed by moonlight. He’d seen thousands of similar landscapes, had ridden through them, walked through them, gazed out the window at them. He had dim memories of looking through wavy glass on such a scene, the sound of dogs baying in the background. His mother’s hand rested briefly on his back and she whispered for him to go to bed. There was nothing out there in the darkness. Everything was safe.
How could she know what was really there, hiding in the dark?
The hounds had known – or had at least sensed the monsters. Their howls had fallen away one by one, and then the footsteps came. Franklin had been in bed by then, the rough blanket pulled up over his head. His mother had shushed his trembling, and told him to hide under the bed, her voice shaking with fear. Not that he could remember the sound of her voice anymore, or even what she looked like, only that she’d had the same eyes he did, and the same pointed chin.
The rest of his memories were just as vague. There was the dusty smell under the bed, the sound of his father’s gun firing. His mother’s scream. Then, more footsteps. Finally, a pair of dirty boots had stopped next to the bed. The toes were scuffed. Slowly, knees had bent, and then a hand shot underneath and dragged him out into the open. He’d probably screamed – or maybe he’d been too scared to move. It was hard to say. But that was when he first saw Kelly, the vampire who would become a sort of surrogate father and later go on to give him immortality.
A very twisted surrogate father.
Franklin dismissed the memories as the den came into view. A small, single story brick building squatted in a gravel parking lot, lit by a pole light and surrounded by cars. After skimming Claudius’ description, it wasn’t the kind of den he’d anticipated. A mansion would have been more fitting.
It just shows you can never tell.
They parked and climbed out. Franklin hung back near Zuri while Senya gave them another once over; checking that everyone had made it.
She pivoted towards Troy, her tin lips twisted in a sneer. “And does Claudius have accommodations prepared for us?”
Troy scoffed. “I doubt it.”
“He was ordered to be ready,” Bren barked, earning a hard look from Senya.
“As my…companion stated, Claudius was informed,” she bit out. “I suggest you run and get to him before we do. Make sure he has things ready before we reach him.”
Troy eyed her up and down. “I don’t run for anyone, especially not The Guild.”
Bren snapped angry fangs, but Senya pulled him back. “Later. We have an interview to conduct now.”
She tugged him toward the building, and the others followed. Though Troy sauntered just ahead of them, the redheaded driver hurried inside. Franklin imagined he was warning his master.
Despite the warning, there was no welcome committee inside, just a narrow hallway with a door halfway down its length, and a set of stairs at the opposite end. Franklin could smell the immortality below; the group of vampires waiting in a cluster. He concentrated and could hear the pitter pat of the redhead’s voice, explaining that the Executioners were there and in “a bad mood.”
Senya stopped at the head of the stairs and called down, “Any foul mood on our part is your fault.” She strolled down, her long black coat sweeping behind her like an evil villainess’ cape. “I assume you have an appropriate excuse?”
Franklin followed Bren down the stairs behind her. A chandelier, bizarrely out of place, threw patterned light over a large concrete basement. Several vampires, including the redhead were clustered around a high backed wicker chair. The only piece of furniture in the room, it sat directly under the light, like a makeshift throne. In it sat a vampire who looked no more than nineteen. Blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and green eyes were hooded by thoughtful lids. They were the kind of eyes that were either calculating your strengths, or else wanted you to think they were.
“Claudius, I presume?” Senya asked, as the last of them reached the floor to stand in front of the young man.
Claudius drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair for a moment, before finally sweeping to his feet. “What are you doing here? I requested you go to Virginia!”
Senya gave an incredulous snort. “Bren, arrest him for wasting our time. The rest of you, back to the airfield.”
Franklin hung back, confused, as Bren closed in on their host and Senya pivoted for the stairs. The young man hopped back a step, face twisted in fury.
“Don’t touch me!”
Senya paused and looked back. “I assume you have an appropriate excuse for why our transportation was not where it was supposed to be?”
The young man tugged at the lace on his sleeves, and sniffed disdainfully. “I’ve never needed to provide transportation before.”
Senya brandished a manila folder. “That’s because you’ve been dealing with an imbecile. They’ve sent the real Executioners this time, and I can assure you that I’m not as forgiving of slights as he is.”
Claudius gave another sniff, then dropped back into the chair. “The question remains: why are you here and not in Virginia? That’s where they’ve taken Arowenia!”
“So you said.” Senya flipped the folder open and pulled out a sheet of paper. “You contacted The Guild the night of the twenty-second, regarding your mate’s kidnapping? It seems she was lost and found?”
“Yes!” Claudius smacked the arm of the chair impatiently. “She is being held at Oren’s den in Virginia! Do I need to raise a party and retrieve her myself? Isn’t that what you’re for?”
Senya dismissed his tirade with an eye roll. “Verchiel has been previously assigned to this case, correct?”
Claudius groaned and leaned back in the chair. “Yes! For all the good the idiot has done! I’ve been stuck with him for years.” He straightened and eyed them. “I’d started to think he was the only Executioner left.”
“It’s safe to say you’ve been unhappy with his performance.”
Though Senya obviously meant it a statement, Claudius took the opportunity to smack the chair again and shout, “Yes! That’s why I refused to speak to him the day before yesterday!”
Senya gave a crisp nod and tugged out another piece of paper. “Regarding your mate-”
Claudius gave a low groan. “Should I start at the beginning? Since you seem determined to waste time by going over every moment of the story? My mate was taken – kidnapped – by Oren, Jorick, and Kateesha, as part of an old disagreement. She’s being kept at Oren’s den, in Virginia, and has been there since June! That’s four months! If you can’t do something in that time-”
“If she was taken in June, why did you wait until July to report it?”
Claudius faltered for a moment and Troy stepped forward, arms crossed. “Not that it’s any of your damn business, but he wanted to give the perpetrators time to bring her back on their own. Claudius is magnanimous like that.”
Claudius cleared his throat and tugged at the ruffle at his neck. “Yes. Of course. Considering one of our own was involved, I thought it best to handle it myself.”
Senya rifled through the papers again and paused to read. “Michael, fledgling of Elsa, and a human slave, Patrick, joined your enemy?”
“If you want to call Oren that,” Claudius said dismissively.
“However you said on the twenty-second that Michael had returned? We’d like to speak to him.”
Troy chortled. “That’s a problem, honey, unless you’re planning a séance. After he confessed, we made sure justice was served. Sniveling little shit.”
“Enough,” Claudius snapped, then looked back to Senya. “Michael was found in Jorick’s company, and taken prisoner by my coven. He confessed to helping kidnap my mate, and named Oren’s den as her prison. He also implicated Oren, Jorick, and Kateesha.” Claudius’ face hardened at the final name. “Why she’s involved is beyond me, except that she and Jorick are on-again off-again lovers.”
“And after Michael told you all of this, you killed him, right? I assume you burned the body and disposed of it properly?”
“Yes!” Claudius cried. “Are you here to find wrongdoing on my part, or to retrieve Arowenia?”
“Both, or perhaps neither,” Senya said coldly. “I’d like to interview any of your coven that was present for– ” she checked the paper again. “For Michael’s interrogation.”
“Or you could leave and retrieve Arowenia while she’s still alive!” Claudius bellowed.
Senya snarled, and Bren stepped forward, a hand up. His smile looked fake, even to Franklin, but Claudius let the Executioner draw close. “We understand that you’re agitated, and concerned for your mate’s wellbeing. However…” Bren suddenly grabbed Claudius by the lace at his throat. “If you want The Guild involved, you do things our way, got it?”
Claudius’ eyes bulged in fury. His followers shifted uncomfortably, some with fists at their sides, others looking more scared than angry, but none knowing what to do.
Bren released Claudius with enough force to send him back into his chair. “Now. Summon the vampires that need to be interviewed.”
Now on to guesses:
Topic: Kim Herndon
- Don’t fence me in 2. robbery 3. up the airy mountain, down the rushing glen 4. we dare not go a hunting, for fear of little men… 5. Nobody ever goes in 6.and nobody ever comes out. 7. escape 8. break in 9. dark skies 10. outside looking in 11. banished 12. the village 13. those are ugly boots. 14. sneaking in 15. I bet Jonathan uses voodoo to get this one 16. the grass is always greener 17. on the other side. 18 greetings from the other side. 19. highwayman – or woman 20. up and over
Last Saturday hubby and I went to Viking Lake (as I mentioned in my weekly thankfulness post), and I got to play with my new Nikon. I haven;t edited the photos, but I did use the awesome Snapbridge app to download some of them to my phone, so here are the unedited images:
They have swans!
Some pretty flowers and butterflies – you can see the little balls on the end of their antenna! (click for a bigger view)
The water was pretty, too:
We got to see some wildlife:
And caught a pretty sunset on the way home
I have to say I’m pretty excited about the pics – this camera upgrade was just what I needed. I am really loving it – and the 300 zoom is awesome!
And now I am off to do who knows what!
Have an awesome camera kinda day!
And we made it to thankfulness #3! Here are the seven things I was thankful for this week:
- I am thankful to be able to live in the kind of town where someone can put a box of free tomatoes on a park bench labeled “Free. Please Take” without having to worry about someone dumping the box out all over, or throwing them at stuff, or destroying them for the sake of making a mess. I have to say the kids around here are pretty well behaved for modern kids, and it’s nice change from other places I’ve been. No way you could have done that in Bolivar.
- I was grateful for the response to my Vampire Challenge – I have 10 members already! Are you interested? Check it out?
- Today I am thankful that we found Mustard! he disappeared Sunday night and though we looked, we couldn’t find him. As it rolled around to Wednesday, I was pretty worried. However, he came strolling up to us while we were Pokemoning and he is now safe and sound.
- I am thankful for the awesome package I received from Donna – she is an amazing crafter and she sent me so many amazing goodies!
- I am also thankful that Dad’s potassium is starting to drop and his kidney function is up 15%. Woo hoo! If we keep it up, he may soon be back to normal!
- I was thankful for some time with hubby out at Viking Lake. he was getting over being sick, so it was low impact, but I took some great photos – I’ll do a separate blog for those tomorrow – but here we are wading at “the beach” (along with some park signs)
and enjoying an ice cream cone from the cafe there.
and going over a train
- On Sunday I was thankful for a great time with family. My cousin Skye celebrated his twelfth birthday at Two Rivers park in Nebraska. Afterwards we went to see his pet rats and I got to shoot a crossbow which was fun :)(and no one got hurt!)
I also got a chance to play with my new Nikon a bit:
And there we go! A week’s worth of thankfulness in one post 🙂
Have a great week!
It’s time again for blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
- Ecrits Blogophilia Week 28.10 is a MARVIN Topic – “Tell Us About Your Summer!”
Bonus: Hard (2 pts) Writer’s Choice (use Altar Bridge lyrics)
Easy (1 pt) Writer’s Choice (use the phrase Blood Bath)
Tell us about your summer, you say? Well, I spent most of mine miserable. In June I had swollen lymph nodes. A trip to the new nurse practitioner in town netted some antibiotics, whose name was similar to one I am allergic to (Cephdanir – I’m allergic to cephalexin). however, after reminding her of my allergy, she still said nothing to indicate there would be any issues… Yeah. One week later I was covered head to toe in a horribly itchy rash. A rash that has still not completely faded from some areas (I have really pale, “delicate” skin and any little mark takes weeks to disappear. Often a scratch still shows up as a purple line a month later), though it is gone from my arms and face (yay!). The itching is also gone, and finally the fatigue and malaise are fading, so now I’m trying to run around and get everything done I neglected all summer, including yard work, painting the porches, etc. I still wouldn’t say my summer sucked, though, as there were good moments, like Pokemoning, or seeing Twister at the drive in. All in all, it simply was.
Now, on to the story:
This takes place during the book Shades of Gray :
Franklin opened one eye cautiously, trying to feign sleep. Since he was a sun walker, Migina should know he’d woken some time ago, but maybe she wasn’t thinking about it.
That or she’s teasing me.
He watched as she stood in front of the full length mirror, brushing her waist length hair. The ebony strands were a pleasing contrast with her pale caramel skin – a complexion paled by immortality. He would have liked to see her before she was turned; racing over the plains wearing buckskin and feathers. Of course, she’d told him before that it wasn’t really like that. Not that his own experiences hadn’t taught him that. He had run into what they now termed Native Americans before, when he was a fledgling. Still, he liked to think of her in the Hollywood costumes, anyway.
Or better, out of them.
Her tone was cool, and she didn’t bother to turn around when she said, “I know you’re awake.”
He tried to fake it a moment longer, then surrendered. “What gave it away?”
“You’re breathing again.”
He silently cursed his inattentiveness. Of course. As a vampire he no longer needed to breathe to live, but for some reason it was a habit he hadn’t been able to kick yet. “All right. You caught me.” He slipped from the bed and moved to wrap his arms around her from behind, pulling her to him, skin against skin. “Can you blame me?”
“I could try.” Her cold mask slipped as a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “You’re ridiculous.”
“I try.” He pressed a kiss to her cheek and released her reluctantly. “I suppose I should pack.”
Migina stopped brushing to eye him. “If it wasn’t for Senya…”
“Yeah, yeah. If Senya wasn’t in charge I’m sure you’d have been chosen to go. But since she is, she chose a lovely all-male escort.”
Migina scoffed. “And among them are her lovers, no doubt. Bren and Greneth?”
Franklin tugged on a pair of trousers and ruffled his dark hair. “I’m not sure Greneth has made the leap yet, but everyone knows she uses Bren when it suits her.”
“She’d be happy to use all of you.” Migina gave him a glare laced with a warning. “I’ve heard stories about her orgies.”
“Mostly fabricated, I’m sure.” Franklin paused to drop a kiss on Migina’s shoulder, then moved to his closet for a bag and some clothes. “Senya’s too cold, unlike you, my wild Indian princess.”
She rolled her eyes and purposefully turned her back, though he could see her quiet smile reflected in the mirror. He mentally congratulated himself as he stuffed items into an overnight bag. Senya had said two or three days at the most, but considering their prey it might stretch longer. There was only one name, one so-called villain, that would require five of The Guild’s elite police force.
Jorick. The Hand of Death. Fledgling of Malick, head of the High Council. Jorick had been the head of the Executioners for nearly two hundred years before he’d retired. Not long after his departure he’d returned, cutting down everyone who stood between himself and his master. Franklin had been only a guard then, and thankfully hadn’t been on duty, but he’d heard the stories and seen the wounded. That one vampire could do such a thing by himself…it was the stuff of legends.
Or it was in the retelling. Franklin sometimes wondered if his memory was to be trusted as much as he thought. Reason said it must not be, but still…
He shook it off and turned his attention to folding a shirt. In the end, even after all the carnage, Malick had allowed Jorick to leave, and that was the last anyone had seen of him for more than a hundred years. Or at least the last time anyone really noted seeing him. The Guild’s records proved that he hadn’t vanished completely, but rather lived in Maine with a fledgling. Still, if he was involved in the whole sordid business then maybe it was more than they thought…
He finished packing and pulled Migina into his arms for a final goodbye kiss. “I shall see you when I return.”
She kissed the lobe of his ear and whispered, “I’ll be waiting.”
Though he didn’t say it as he strode out the door, he doubted she’d even be there when he got back. A fellow Executioner, it was more likely that she’d be sent on an assignment of her own by then. He was surprised that she’d bene home for two days straight – that they both had. They spent more time out in the field than they did in the citadel.
We need more than twelve Executioners, he mused. Or we need to hand more off o the guards, like we used to.
He met the group above ground, in a gravel parking lot. The chilly October air weaved between the grain bins and many outbuildings that made up the citadel’s exterior, passing over a group of vampires.
Franklin did a quick head count on the guards. Twelve? The standard was two per Executioner, and sometimes just one. With only five executioners, they had two extra guards. Did they need that many?
It’s Jorick, he reminded himself.
Most of the guards wore their Guild issued black and silver uniforms, while four stood apart dressed in plain clothes. Senya’s favorites, Franklin mused. If he was good he could have pulled up their names because she so often requested them.
The vampiress herself was still absent, but Franklin noticed that Zuri – short and stocky with a shock of black hair – and Greneth – slender and blonde with a permanent sneer – were both present.
He nodded to them and took a place nearby. Greneth glanced up from a red bound book and then back again, tapping the page with his pencil.
“Another poem?” Franklin asked conversationally.
The blonde made an airy gesture, as if to say “you wouldn’t understand,” then quoted, “Leaves are on the ground, fall has come, while waiting for winter’s queen, to bring with her icy wind and raging numb.”
The syllables felt wrong, but Franklin knew better than to correct him. Luckily he was saved by Senya and Bren’s arrival. Tall for a woman, her black bobbed hair, cut almost comically straight, only served to make her skin look paler and her blue eyes icier. If Greneth was looking for a personification of winter, she was right there.
“The Execution Council will meet us later.” She swept her eyes over them, stopping at last on her favorite guards. “If you’re ready?”
Though they all agreed, Franklin shot Zuri a look and mouthed, “Execution Council?”
His fellow executioner shrugged, and fell into step with the others, moving towards several SUVs. He did the same, his brain still churning. An Execution Council was a tool rarely used by The Guild anymore. Made up of members from the Lesser Council, the council would accompany Executioners on assignments where immediate judgements needed to be made – cases where they couldn’t wait for someone to be dragged back to the citadel and put on trial. Executioners had a free pass to kill under most circumstances by simply saying that their victim had interfered in some way, but an Execution Council was a step further. Despite the official designations, their true purpose was to give Executioners permission to slaughter everyone without needing to make excuses. If they were coming then it meant this wasn’t an assignment, but a blood bath.
More next week!
And now for guesses!
- summer fun 2. floating castle 3. lake town 4. where’s smaug? 5. extreme river rafting 6. obstacle course 7. cooling down 8. splash city 9. water world. 10. on the lake 11. slip n slide 12. vacation destination. 13. fun in the sun. 14. look at those boats. 15. I bet Jonathan guesses this right. 16. I also bet he bought a brand new rubber chicken for extra voodoo power. 17. those rubber chickens are super powerful, so he says. 18. this kinda looks like a live action board game. 19. Jonathan always makes me think of board games, though. 20. if it was a board game, he’d win because he uses voodoo for that too.