Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aftershock 2/16

Thunder rumbled like a landslide and then the sky flickered. Or rather the magic that gave the ceiling of the Mounds the appearance of a sky. Both Sidhe warriors relinquished their aggression to witness the cascade of destruction rupturing the fabric of their world. Cracks like a spider’s web shattered the illusion until the great bowl of rock overhead became visible for the first time in as long as any Sidhe could remember.

Jhaer kept his balance better the next time the ground shifted, although the horror that stabbed through him threatened to drive him to his knees. The thunderous sounds of earth ripping from earth filled the cavern that housed the magical realm of the Mounds. As the ground above them shifted ominously, Jhaer’s hands snapped upward, fingers curled as if gripping something heavy. Trembling from the strain, his mastery over the earth alone supported the bowl of rock overhead.

“Lugh!” Jhaer growled through clenched teeth, “Help Danu! NOW! I can't… hold it up… much longer!” All his concentration, his strength, focused solely on preventing the Mounds, home to hundreds of thousands of fey, from catastrophic collapse, for as long as he could.

Differences postponed in the face of imminent demise, the Seelie raced toward the castle as Jhaer bore the weight of the world. With muscles trembling from the effort, Jhaer waited for the dread to dissipate, anticipating the creatrix to reach out and fortify the Mounds. But what he felt was life, the connection to Danu, fading away. The All-Mother, she who bound the Mounds together for centuries, was disappearing. She was dying.

All hope shattered, leaving only fatalistic determination. Through raw force of will, Jhaer held aloft the vast cavern ceiling, allowing as many fey as possible the chance to escape, the stronger ones via teleportation, the lesser fey certainly crowding the portals that might whisk them to the surface. Alone, Jhaer balanced each rock, each clump of dirt. For miles. Sweat ran in rivulets down the strained muscles of his body. Holding. Binding. Unyielding. And yet fissures snaked through the cavern under the oppression of tons upon tons of earth overhead. Fissures Jhaer could not mend. Fissures that sheared as chunks broke free and rained from the sky. Chunks that slipped through his shattering strength. Jhaer dropped to his knees, giving all his power to the failing magic. The edges of the cavern crumbled, creating a cascade as each lost rock freed those above it. Rockslides like waterfalls poured down in a roaring that could not completely annihilate the screams of terror. Down the ceiling fell in ever greater pieces until the entire cavern plummeted down like a mountain to entomb everything beneath, burying alive everyone who had not already escaped. Including Jhaer.

Part 3/16 of "Aftershock" coming on 12/2/11!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Aftershock 1/16

by S. Ravynheart and S. A. Archer

Chapter One

Jhaer dodged through the local fey crowding the market street of the village built up around the Seelie castle, thankful that his plain, loose-fitting clothing disguised him. Brightly colored streamers from the celebration draped from tree limbs and windows to flutter festively about the revelry. The ale flowed and the music played. Seelie fey of every race danced and sang ancient victory songs, obliviously ignorant that in conquering the Unseelie, they ensured the downfall of all fey.

Stealth carried Jhaer as far as the courtyard wall and then he unsheathed his fury and magic. With a rage that rent a boulder from the ground, Jhaer’s magic burst forth. His power over the element of earth  belonged to him alone, so the boulder that splintered the teak courtyard gate with the explosion of cannon fire announced with certainty the Unseelie Elite who wielded it.

Anticipating a final assault while the captive Unseelie monarchs imprisoned within succumbed to the pressure to surrender their authority, the Seelie forces lined the top of the inner castle wall beyond the courtyard. Archers drew back at the sight of him, even as the Seelie Champion on the parapet called out to Jhaer. The corona of sun magic flared around Lugh, as if determined to prove his nickname as the Shining One. The golden boy of the Seelie Court in his sculpted armor vaulted down into the courtyard with a dramatic flair. If the demonstration of grace and courage aimed to impress, it missed the mark with Jhaer.

“Lugh! Have you been staring at your own magic so long you've blinded yourself?” Jhaer rushed into the courtyard. As the archers launched their first volley, Jhaer summoned a shield of stone from the very ground before him. The rock wall preceded him, the last couple feet at the top tilted back over his head, in case any clever archers aimed with a high trajectory. After the arrows in the initial strike splintered on his shield, Jhaer jerked up his hands, his magic heaving skyward the ground in front of the castle wall to block off the archers. His personal rock shield fragmented into dust that defused to the ground he’d drawn it from. He snarled at Lugh, the sole obstacle between Jhaer and the castle proper. “This must stop! Before it’s too late!”

“One Court, Sidhe!” Lugh proclaimed. “We can be brothers, you know. This feud can end. It should end!” Yet the Seelie ignited a barrier of fire, disproving his claim of brotherly love.

Jhaer shielded his face against the fire between them, an all too familiar tactic from the Sidhe with the magical aspect of the sun. “Light and dark cannot merge. One will always consume the other. You know this! Yet the arrogant Seelie’s hunger for power would rather destroy everything than have balance!” With that, Jhaer sank into the ground, closing it up over him.

Moving swiftly through the earth in a self-contained cavern like an air bubble rising through a viscous liquid that parted the ground before him and resealed it behind him, Jhaer detoured beneath the flames. He felt the vibration from the footsteps of the Seelie above, rushing to pursue him.

An unexpected tremor charged though the earth and slammed into him, lancing a dread dead into his heart. The Unseelie warrior gripped his chest, breath stolen from him by a horrendous shift in the magic surrounding him. Stunned to the point of panic, Jhaer surfaced once more, the Seelie not but a few quick strides from him. Before a cry of dismay could escape his lips, a shockwave of magic knocked him off balance. A crack climbed up the outer wall like a growing vine, reaching ever higher.

“Trying to bring down the entire castle?” The Seelie snarled. “Danu is in there!”

Jhaer stumbled backward before catching himself, his eyes wide as he stared at the fractures creeping up the courtyard walls. “Would I knock myself off balance? Open your eyes, Lugh! Something is wrong!”

Part 2/16 of "Aftershock" coming on 11/29/11!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

End of the World 7/7

The fairy lights barely illuminated the mural on the wall that the Scribe indicated. Lugh rose and crossed before the faded images. His skin began to glow with the warmth of predawn, filling the chamber with enough light to see by.

“What is this?” He studied the circle drawn around the figure of the All-Mother. She appeared to be floating in the air. Small objects circled her.

“It depicts the story of how Danu created the Mounds.”

Lugh snapped his head sharply toward Willem. His slightly pointed elfin ears prickling he listened with such intensity. “Continue. Tell your tale, Scribe.”

“Few survived the collapse of the First Fey realm. The realm from which all fey creatures first arose. Unlike the Mounds, it was a true and separate realm of existence. Danu was one of the Sidhe who escaped. It was not long before the Fade began to set in.”

Lugh knew this much. And knew they faced the same peril now.

“She gathered together artifacts that survived the collapse. Items that were imprinted with the magic signature of the first realm.” Willem brushed his hand reverently across the image on the wall, painted with the practiced and skilled hand of a master fey artist. “She used them to create a surrogate realm, the Mounds, in a pocket of magic beneath the earth.”

“Like a womb,” Lugh agreed. Which was how the Sidhe whose focus of magic was procreation would manifest such a realm. “As she was the Creatrix of the realm, and tied to it, all who linked to the Mounds became tied to her. Becoming as her children.” Lugh moved closer to the images. “Do these artifacts still exist? Could this magicraft be performed once more?”

Next to Lugh, who towered well over six feet in height, the Scribe’s four-and-three-quarters feet seemed even more diminutive. With Lugh’s inquiry put to him, Willem fidgeted, scratching at his pointed ear. “The All-Mother left a journal, which we of her order have studied in as great a detail as we are capable of. There are unclear passages, which might become clear once the artifacts are collected. The artifacts she used were consumed in the creation of the Mounds. However, others still exist. Lost. Hidden. Stolen. Passed down from father to son. Put away and forgotten like all other bits and bobs. Their importance forgotten as they became misplaced.”

“Then how might we discover them?”

“There are ways.”

The faint ray of hope broke through the black depths of defeat and death, no matter how slim the chance or how impossible the task. Lugh leveled the full force of his determination at the Scribe. “Then let us begin anew.”


Thank you for reading "End of the World" Champion of the Sidhe: Part 1! We hoped you enjoyed it! Would you like to show your support? Why not take a moment and leave a star rating or a few words on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads? It would mean a lot to us.

See what happens to Lugh next in "Champion of the Fey" Champion of the Sidhe: Part 2.

Following the optimal reading order, the next story is "Aftershock" Rise of the Unseelie: Part 1. We'll be bringing your that story in its entirety over the next few months. 

Part 1/16 of "Aftershock" coming on 11/25/11!

Friday, November 18, 2011

End of the World 6/7

Chapter Three

How exactly the world could come to an end and life go on, Lugh didn’t know. He felt like a sleepwalker. He’d bathed and changed from his bloodied clothing, as he’d done after hundreds of battles before. The routine carried him through where thoughts failed him. The lesser fey handled the preparations for the corpse. Lugh oversaw, more to have another Sidhe present rather than to truly assist. The All-Mother deserved so much more, but Lugh had nothing left to give.

Her body was cleaned and dressed in glittering white. Her gloved hands were joined together over her stomach, holding the hilt of the silver dagger than slew her. The blade rested between her breasts. The silver did not touch the skin and so would not damage the body further. Danu would not decay. She would just slowly fade away.

All fey were partially physical and partially magic. Without the constant and renewing breath of magic coming into her, Danu would eventually become less corporeal, becoming as a ghost until finally she vanished into nothingness.

Lugh helped to lift the glass cover into place over the velvet pallet that served as the All-Mother’s final bed. His tears finally began their silent spill to burn down his cheeks as the procession began into the undercroft deep beneath the temple. The fey scattered a carpet of flowers before them. Fairy lights twinkled in the dark passageway to the deepest chamber, haphazardly strung along the route at irregular heights. A few of the dwarves had carved a fine stone pedestal for the glass casket to rest upon. Lugh ensured its perfect alignment before setting down the burden.

He knelt before the All-Mother, in her final slumber. His forehead rested against the glass side. Eyes closed.

All of the fey would Fade now, as the All-Mother’s body did. Mourning her, he mourned his people, his home, his own life. Time would not extend before him endlessly, as it always had in the past. Without Danu, there were no Mounds. Without the Mounds, there was no source of fey magic. The flow and renewal of the magic that fed into each fey and powered their magic came from the Mounds.

“Why would anyone do this? Did they not know?”

A hand softly rested upon his shoulder. Lugh ignored it. Only when the hand squeezed did he finally lift his gaze.

The Scribe offered him a sorrowful smile. During the preparations someone spoke the Scribe’s name. Lugh searched his emotion-torn memory. Willem. The Scribe’s name was Willem.

“All may not be lost, Champion.” Willem nodded meaningfully across the chamber. All of the other fey had wandered away, dealing with grief in their own ways. The loss of the All-Mother devastated. More than just this, though, all lost family and friends in the collapse as well.

Part 7/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/22/11!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

End of the World 5/7

Chapter Two

The only way to preserve what might yet survive of the crumbling Mounds was to save Danu. Lugh knew this as certainly as he knew his sole purpose now was to save her, their home and their people. The magic of his teleportation brought Lugh to the grand receiving hall of Danu’s temple in the heart of Ireland. Far above the Mounds secreted below the ground.

“Assist me!” Lugh bellowed, his voice echoing into the temple and bringing an immediate rush of lesser fey servants, mostly Brownies and fairies from the look of them. Over the screams and weeping at the sight of their mistress’ bloody body, one Scribe urged Lugh to convey the All-Mother to her chamber. The room turned out not to be a bedroom as he anticipated, but a private magicraft workshop. Lugh arranged Danu upon the altar, the knife handle rising like a beacon of death from her chest. The silver would slowly poison her, but if he pulled out the blade unprepared, she would bleed out in seconds.

“The Mounds are crumbling. We must act with swift diligence.” Lugh pressed a hand against the wound on her cooling, blood-soaked chest.

The Scribe touched the All-Mother’s neck and then met Lugh’s eyes. As lesser fey went, Scribes always had the tendency to appear grave in expression. Large eyes that perpetually worried. Thin, short bodies hedging on underfed and spindly. Pasty, green-tinged skin on faces that rarely left the library or archive long enough to have a passing familiarity with sunlight. Even for a Scribe, this one’s mournful expression spoke volumes.

Growling, Lugh shouted, “She has lived many thousands of years. No mere blade shall be the death of her! Fetch a healer!”

“There is nothing to be done,” the Scribe whispered.

Lugh reached across Danu’s body and snatched the Scribe by the front of his pressed white shirt, staining it with blood. “You lie! Bring the healer!”

“I am the healer, Sire .” The Scribe covered Lugh’s hand with both of his, not to pry but to let the magic flow from his fingertips and prove his credentials. Lugh snatched back his hand as all evidence confirmed the Scribe’s claims.

“She can’t be dead.” Lugh stumbled back from the altar, his arms held away from his body, now uselessly holding nothing. The All-Mother’s blood soaked his clothing and dripped from his fingertips. The horror-shock numbed him like an unexpected punch as he staggered back from her lifeless body. Lugh walked, then jogged, then ran to the portico that overlooked the hills that gave the Mounds their name. Two great hills should have risen before him as high as the hill where Danu’s temple perched. Through magic, the entirety of the expanse of the Mounds existed within the belly of those two hills.

The hills beneath which the Mounds were buried crumbled in on themselves. Deflated as if the hollow caverns beneath lost stability. A cloud of dust and debris billowed out as the hills sunk down, turning instead into a crater.

Lugh gaped at it, dumbfounded. The other fey about him wept and screamed in their terror.

Homes… Family… Friends… Lives… Culture… History…



Just… Just…


Lugh dropped to his knees. The strength drained from his arms and they dropped to his thighs. The lesser fey wept about him, but Lugh could not even reach past the shock to begin to comprehend grief. Pain, though… Pain cut right through him. His heart ached as if the silver dagger had been planted in his chest, rather than in the All-Mother’s. His head dropped back as his pain screamed out to the heavens above. The magic bond to the All-Mother, and to the magic of the Mounds, severed like a dirk sliced through it. Lugh clutched at his heart. Everything he was, was linked to the Mounds, to the magic, to his people.

The world had ended. And he, the Champion of the Sidhe, hadn’t been able to save it.

Part 6/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/18/11!

Friday, November 11, 2011

End of the World 4/7

“No,” Lugh exhaled. Utter shock drained the strength right out of him. His spear clattered to the floor with hardly a notice that he’d dropped it. If not for the quake that pitched the building and lurched him forward, he might not ever have broken the paralysis of shock. “Danu…”

Lugh scrambled forward as the very world gave a shudder. The Mounds were crumbling. Dying.

As the All-Mother was dying.

Lugh gathered the tall, thin frame of the Sidhe All-Mother into his arms, rolling her body as he lifted. The handle of a silver dagger gleamed, driven to the decorative hilt in the very heart of Danu. Twice again as ancient as Lugh, Danu’s delicate beauty remained unchanged from the innocence of grace she possessed at seventeen. Not even the pallor of bloodlessness could rob her of her Sidhe perfection.

The Creatix of the Mounds… The All-Mother of the Tuatha de Dannan… The people of Danu… The Sidhe… The single unbreakable tie binding together all magic in this fey realm…

Stabbed in the heart.

“No!” Lugh rose to his feet even as the light and illusions beyond the balcony flickered and crashed down from the sky. Her hair and the drape of her long skirt spilled from Lugh’s arms and reached the floor. Embracing her limp body tight to him, Lugh rushed to the back of the throne room, to the great crystal globe balanced on a pedestal and throbbing with centuries of magicraft. Lugh kicked the globe, driving it from the pedestal. It crashed down onto the floor and shattered into flakes of enchantment like a pile of snow. The barrier against Glamour and teleportation disintegrated.

Jhaer’s strength finally faltered. The precious minutes the Unseelie bought Lugh were spent. A great crack and rumble shook the building as the ceiling of the Mounds gave way to the tons of rocks and earth above. It hit the rotunda, which stalled its descent only a fraction of a second. The Mounds came down with crushing force just as Lugh teleported Danu away.

Part 5/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/15/11!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

End of the World 3/7

Lugh cursed the slippery magic that allowed his opponent to evade him. He felt through the soft soles of his boots the slight tremor as the Sidhe traveled beneath him. Lugh rushed to follow. As Jhaer reemerged from the ground, a great tremor rocked the courtyard. A crack climbed the outer wall like a growing vine, reaching ever higher.

“Trying to bring down the entire castle?” he snapped at Jhaer. “Danu is in there!”

The Unseelie stumbled backwards before catching himself; his wide eyes followed the crack in the wall. “Would I knock myself off balance? Open your eyes, Lugh! Something is wrong!"

Lugh rode out the next quake, but just barely. His feet remained under him only by his fey grace. Thunder rolled across the sky and then the sky itself flickered. Or rather the magic that gave the ceiling of the Mounds the appearance of a sky. Fractures like a spider’s web shattered the illusion. As long as Lugh lived, the Mounds would have sunlight, so even without the sky and sun illusions, the world was not cast into darkness. But without the magic the great bowl of rock overhead became visible for the first time in Lugh’s thousands of years of recollection.

“All-Mother…” he breathed. The dread stabbed him like a knife to the heart. Danu was in peril. And so were the Mounds.

Jhaer raised his hands, fingers curled as if clutching something invisible. The cacophony from the crumbling rock slowed to the rumbling roll of distant thunder. The ceiling caved in elsewhere, the echoes reached them across the expanse of the Mounds, but Jhaer’s mastery held the rock above them together. The Unseelie trembled with great personal strain. Sweat beaded along his skin and made his black hair glisten.

“Help Danu! NOW! I can't… hold it up… much longer!"

Cursing the magic that prevented him from teleporting, Lugh found his feet before Jhaer finished speaking. The rock wall Jhaer erected before the castle broke into chunks that slumped without Jhaer’s will binding its shape. Lugh bound over the debris and raced into the castle, even as all others scrambled to flee it. He dodged great chunks of falling plaster as it crashed from the buttresses arching high above the rotunda and grand staircase. The rubble shattered on the marble stairs. Plaster dust floated on the air currents like mist as Lugh cut through. Screams echoed from everywhere. Lesser fey scrambled to and fro, but Lugh paid no heed to any of them. He saw no Sidhe. Not one.

Heart pounding, he used the handrail to catapult himself as he raced up the long, curving stairwell to the second level. No one need tell him where to find the All-Mother. All fey connected to the Mounds possessed a sense of her. No guards manned the watch outside the throne chamber. No bodies strewn about to explain their absence. No blood. No dropped weapons. Fear for friends and lovers kindled behind the greater dread that brought him to a sliding stop on the dust-covered floor just inside the chamber.

In the center of the oval chamber… a lone woman curled onto her side on the floor. The fine layer of debris dulled the shine of the blond hair draped about her. Her slender back, decorated with premium fey brocade and lace, faced him. Like a finely crafted statue, she remained stone still. Unalive.

Part 4/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/11/11!

Friday, November 4, 2011

End of the World 2/7

A volley of arrows whistled over Lugh’s head. A shielding wall of rock flew up before Jhaer, shattering the arrows like twigs. Nothing so mundane could deter the dark Sidhe when the rage claimed him. Lugh dueled with Jhaer hundreds of time over thousands of years. Every time the Seelie and Unseelie crossed swords, Jhaer led the charge. As did Lugh.

This would be the last time, though. Last time as Seelie verse Unseelie, at the very least. After this day, that division would end. The unified Court would rule the Mounds.

“Lugh! Have you been staring at your own magic so long you've blinded yourself?” Jhaer snarled. The rock shield dissipated into a cloud of dust and crumbled away as though cast aside with the contempt poisoning the Unseelie. He would rend Lugh just as viciously if he had blood instead of earth power. A tremble rippled through the ground and Lugh’s nimble feet expected to evade a grasping fist of earth clutching at his ankles.

Those familiar tactics failed to manifest. Instead the ground gave up a guttural rumbling. The very earth before the castle heaved upward in a sheer rock wall that shot skyward and blocked the fey of Lugh’s regiment.

It mattered not. The Champion could fend off the Elite long enough for the Unseelie King and Queen to submit their magics to the greater Seelie, or rather the unified, Court.

Jhaer snapped at him, conviction and venom cutting in equal measure. “This must stop! Before it’s too late!”

Lugh raised his hands and with them he brought up a shield of fire in front of Jhaer. “Halt, Elite! You shall not violate the Seelie Court. Not this day of all days!” Lugh charged toward the fire between them, intent on getting his body and his spear between the Elite and the castle. “Stand down! I shall not permit your passage!”

In the Mounds, secrecy was near to impossible. Hardly a fey in the Mounds didn’t know what was to occur. Many he’d expected to protest or to charge the gates had yet to reveal themselves. At this late hour the ceremony must be nearing completion. No one, not even the very head of the Unseelie Elite, could not stop it now. Nor would Lugh allow Jhaer to mar the day with his rampage.

“One Court, Sidhe! We can be brothers. This feud can end! It should end!” Even as he said this, he prepared to fight.

"Light and dark can not merge. One will always consume the other. You know this! Yet the arrogant Seelie’s hunger for power would rather destroy everything than have balance!" Jhaer sank into the ground that enveloped and then closed over him like quicksand.

Part 3/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/8/11!