VIII – Death Wears Black [Eternity: P1]


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TOC: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Botha was concerned, very concerned indeed. The particles on his device had come from only one source: smoke. It took a very special kind of fire to burn with smoke, and he knew of only one source that could produce that kind of fire. Unfortunately, all his knowledge mostly came from myth and legend.

He rummaged around the shelves in his crowded hut, searching for a book that he had put away long ago. Botha found the tome in the very furthest corner, buried beneath a mound of papers and other oddities. Very carefully, he pulled it out. Its pages were aged and the slightest abrasion caused its cover to flake.

Putting it gently on the table, Botha opened it to a page he had memorized from the day he’d received the book. Most of the text had faded over time, but he did soon find the passage he’d been hunting for. The Seventh Prayer:

Light is on my side
Light do not forsake me
In the darkness hide
Darkness that’s inside me

Breathe it from within
Exhale from without
This my smoke is kin
All shall fire out

The rest of the cryptic passage had not been translated, and any remaining commentary had been blotted out by spots of time, but Botha had heard enough stories.

Legends said the Seven Kin were seven men and women chosen from the nations of the world to ward off an evil so great, all of humankind had forgotten it. This did not agree with contemporary texts, since for all recorded history, there had only been two nations: Vithr and Asyther. But ancient legend never agreed with history in the first place.

It was said that the Seventh Kin had the ability to control smoke. From there, the rumors grew wild with speculation as to what exactly the powers of this mythical figure was. What was known was that he’d written the text Botha had read out of, and that he’d written six other prayers for the other six Kin.

If there was smoke in the palace, it could only mean one thing. The Seventh Kin had to have existed, and some descendent of him or her had committed the murder.

What could this mean, though? Why would a descendent of the Seventh Kin murder the king of Vithr? And how much of the legends were true? Botha had heard some of the rumors spreading about the phenomena regarding the messenger in the Everking’s palace. Was that also related to this? It seemed that what the doctors had written off as simple heart failure was not as simple as they’d thought.

The Flamelord had given him express instructions against telling anybody about his discovery, so when Novana had paid him a visit, he’d merely smiled and said that the Hearthlord’s suspicions had been confirmed, and nobody had murdered the king. But in his heart, Botha was deeply disturbed. Dark times were most certainly coming. He could feel it, a cold prickle on his skin, and chill in the very core of his spine.

He shook his head. There was no need for such dark thoughts. His inventions would prove distraction enough while the Flamelord decided what to do. The investigator was glad that he did not have the responsibility of the entire kingdom weighing on each decision he made.

As Botha began working on a new mechanism to prepare his breakfast in the morning, his spirits lifted, and he started to whistle. This felt natural to him. Fitting cogs and gears into place, tightening bolts, and adjusting levers and cranks made him happy. His job as an investigator was merely something to provide him with the money and sustenance required for his tinkering. Not to mention the fact that it allowed him to try out his inventions.

The unbidden thought that his invention had been the thing to detect that the former Flamelord had been murdered intruded into his pleasant state of mind. Like a shadow, it wiped all the joy away from his work, and for the first time he stared at his creation with disgust.

Sure, it was arguably a good thing that he’d been able to detect the crime that had happened, but Botha had not made his contraptions to find evil. He shook his head as he put away his toolkit. That would be enough fiddling for today.

Slipping a few coins in his pocket, the inventor headed out onto the streets to spend the night at his favorite tavern. It was strange. While there was nothing that could beat the meals produced by the royal chefs of Vithr, it was in Asyther where the best alcoholic beverages were. Botha supposed this spoke to the Asythian love of drink and celebration, but that was something that he did not mind.

He crossed into Asyther an hour before the sun set in the hills. His object, the Roaring Radgar, cast a warm, inviting light on its surroundings. The lack of a flicker gave the light away, however, and Botha knew that it was a special kind of tinted window that was designed to make light cast by flameglobes to appear as if it was firelight. He knew this because he’d made the windows himself in exchange for a free drink once a week.

“Ghola, my good friend,” the barkeep said with a grin as Botha entered. While Botha was sure that the barkeep knew who he actually was, he preferred that nobody else in the bar catch on to the fact that Vithr’s chief investigator frequented the joint.

“Lavert,” Botha grinned back. “I’ll have the usual drink in my usual place for the usual fee.”

The barkeep mocked a look of indignance. “You know you never pay!”

“And I know that you know why,” Botha said, winking at the barkeep.

“Shut up and have a seat, I’ll get you your drink,” Lavert replied, realizing that they’d drawn some attention.

Botha looked around at the many customers in the tavern and felt no small amount of pride that his windows had such an effect. Sure, the amount of customers was probably due more to the clean and well-kept joint that Lavert had, but an inventor had to have some pride in what he had made.

The inventor gratefully accepted the steaming cup of Rendelfel from the barkeep and sipped it slowly as he watched the patrons. This was another hobby of his: people watching. He did it all the time, and it was probably why he was so good with people.

For the most part, Botha was able to recognize each of the patrons by name, and if he did not know their name, he was at least able to recall the last time they’d visited. So it was with no small amount of curiosity that he studied the man in black who entered quietly.

Lavert was quick to approach the stranger and take his order, which obscured Botha’s view for a while, but the investigator’s interest had been piqued, and he stared subtly as the man seated himself at a table.

Unlike most of the other people in the bar, who were talking and laughing loudly, this person said nothing and did nothing. His attitude seemed quite forced, and he looked uncomfortable in his environment.

Shrugging his shoulders dismissively, Botha turned to look at his cup. Empty. Too bad. He looked back up, but the stranger was gone. Strange, he had not heard the man leave.

Picking up his cup, Botha headed over to Lavert to hand it in. The barkeep was standing at the table the stranger had sat at, looking around confusedly.

“What’s wrong, Lavert?” Botha asked genially.

“That strange man, he’s gone,” the barkeep replied, scratching his head.

Suddenly, the smile left Botha’s face, and he grew pale. All sound seemed to fade as his brain zoned in on what he smelled. Smoke.

Tours yruly

A Review of the Collectors by David Baldacci


The Collectors

Hey guys, so here’s another book review. I know it has been forever since I’ve posted, and that’s been for a couple of reasons. Number one was finals week. Midterms this year were insane for me, so I had to cut down on the writing. Sorry about that. Number two is Christmas break, and I really needed time to chill out, so that’s what I did. And sometimes you even need a break from writing. I know, shocking right?

Anyway, this is a review of a book I read a while back. Sorry if some of the details are a little sketchy, but like I said, I read it a while back. I enjoyed it though, as you’ll see in my review. Any way, I hope to get back to posting, but we’ll see. With the second semester coming around the corner, I really do not feel prepared. I’ve got AP exams looming over me, along with a course load only a whack-job could conjure up (me), so yeah. We’ll see. That aside, enjoy. 🙂

David Baldacci’s book The Collectors follows the story of the Camel Club led by Oliver Stone as they track down a series of ruthless killings. With Baldacci’s classic attention to detail mixed with a well-paced, action-driven story, The Collectors brings intrigue and mystery to the table, along with a blend of well-placed character development. As a big Baldacci fan myself, I probably am not the right person to give this book unbiased critique, but I will offer my personal perspective on the story that is The Collectors.

First, I will mention that The Collectors is the second book in the Camel Club series, and I have not read the first book. However, despite this, I did not feel like I lacked any information. In other words, the book stands alone. I will mention that I got a little lost in the names of the characters, because there was quite the initial cast, but I very quickly figured out who which characters played lead roles, and this lessened the confusion.

In terms of the story, as with all the Baldacci stories I’ve read, it had me hooked from the start. Baldacci has a unique way of starting with something seemingly entirely irrelevant, and then tying it right back into the plot. A master of weaving relatively trite details into a complex, intertwined plot, Baldacci really showed off his eagle eye for detail with this one, and I definitely appreciated it all. Without giving too much of the plot away, he manages to tie a high-profile casino scam, the murder of a senator, a graveyard worker, and a librarian’s death together in a cohesive plot that had me finishing this book in a couple of sittings.

I would classify most of the content as thriller/suspense with hints of mystery and action. As with many adult books, there was some sexual content, but for me it did not obtrude to much. Others might disagree though, so use your discernment. The book felt relatively balanced to me, though some might say otherwise as percentage-wise it does not have a whole lot of emotional content. But looking at the story, I don’t really see anywhere that more emotional content could have appeared.

Overall I enjoyed this story. Having read a number of Baldacci books before, I found myself able to predict some content, but that did not spoil the story too much. It was a good read, but I didn’t feel like it had any particularly stellar qualities. That may just be me though, so if you are on the hunt for a good, action-packed book, try this out. I can almost guarantee you’ll get at least some enjoyment out of it.

Tours yruly

Three Seconds – Description


It explodes....y'know?

It explodes….y’know?

Here’s a short descriptive piece of writing I did for Advanced Composition. We were supposed to describe a scene without letting any kind of action interfere. We also had to go in a certain order. (ex. Top to bottom, left to right, etc.) Also, sorry about no posts yesterday. I got caught up in life and stuff. I don’t think I’ll try to catch up with them, because I’ve got a lot of content I want to post today. Anyway, enjoy.

Above the battle, the sky has turned a forbidding gray. Lightning sizzles, but no rain falls. It would appear perfectly normal if not for the different sized dots scattered across the expansive plains below. Big dots turn into tanks and armored cars while small dots transform into soldiers and paramedics. Flashes of light mark out hidden snipers. Flying dirt pinpoints the landing place of hollow-point bullets.

Deep in the trenches a helmeted soldier stands, keen, blue eyes sighting along the barrel of his automatic rifle. Frown lines crease his brow and the corners of his eyes in an attitude of concentration. His uniform bears the name Sgt. Cochran in faded letters. Into the neck of his shirt, the chain of his dog-tag leads. Mud-splattered straps attached to his backpack cover the even dirtier shirt. On his hip a small sidearm attached to a tightly cinched belt rests. Pants splotched with camouflage flow down into black combat boots. Between his slightly parted feet, a grenade, lacking its pin, waits silently.

Tours yruly

Recommendations – Auntie – Chapter 1: Door


Ok, so here’s another first chapter from a WIP novel. I really like the writing style with this one. It’s sort a mix of abstract combined with suspense and tension. The genre is probably psychological horror, though really I enjoy it for its air of mystery. It is take two of a story that the author, Anna, started writing in the past, and I must say having read both takes, take two is a lot nicer. Anyway, go check it out, and I hope you guys like it as much as I do. 🙂

AMBient

Well, here’s Take II of my long-abandoned NaNoWriMo project from last November. This time I’m trying in earnest to actually finish and produce something worth reading. For those who never touched Take I, Auntie is a horror story, but in a subtle fashion, so I’ll leave it up to your taste to decide if it’s for you. Enjoy!

Carefully, she undid the Velcro of her sandals and slid them from her soft, narrow feet. Stooping ceremoniously, she laid the pair evenly at the threshold, then turned to face off with the tall set of mahogany doors.

Felicia Winters started when a tall figure swept by her side, turning the shiny, brass knob without delay. The shadows swallowed Mr. Winters as a draft of old smell released into Felicia’s nostrils. The reek heightened her nerves. She clenched and unclenched her fists before stepping in after her father.

The light streamed in…

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