FRESH STORY CONTENT 1/21/2023 — Derek Barton — Wyvernshield!!

Tal hesitated, his knuckles inches above the wooden door.  He did not want to give the pair false hope but at the same time, Taliah did have a prophetic vision of a possible connection to their homeland.  

I can only offer them the facts that were presented.  It will be up to them how they face it, whether to believe or doubt is really their individual right.

He straightened his shoulders, confident in his decision and how he would proceed. First, he rapped on Scars’ door. There was no reply or sound. It was approaching late evening, perhaps the Flohki retired for the night.

The door abruptly opened as if the halfman had been there all along. “Master Tal?” His voice was a smooth tenor. 

The half-seagull and half-man creature eyed him standing in the faint candlelight.  His white feathered head was marred by a scar lacing down the right-side and his beak broken off at the tip.  In striking contrast, his chest, arms and shoulders were a complex pattern of scars, thus how his name was inspired.  He had never talked about his past or how his injuries came about, only that he was a tested, military veteran for his kind. 

“Scars, I am sorry for the late hour, but would you mind joining me for an important discussion?”

He nodded and joined Tal immediately in the hallway. They walked silently together down the corridor.  The Flohki was not a talkative type, down-to-business and never hesitant to assist.  Master Tal liked him very much and appreciated the character he had. It was likely a part of the militant-upbringing of their kind, but there was added a quiet nobility about the creature.  He was proud, yet humbled and earnest. Sometimes, Tal even sensed a shadow of shame. 

Something behind his eyes shows me quiet courage and accepted guilt.  An odd pairing that bears learning more of one day.  Yet, he is not ready to reveal that. 

Bare light illuminates around Ama’yen’s door.  She was another half-man creature but also had a subtlety and grace about her.  Half-feline and half-woman. She was said to be a powerful sorceress in her home world of Aberrisc.  

Ama’yen came to the door, wrapped in a light yellow cloth, semi-transparent in the light from her room.  Her long black hair was swept over her slightly pointed ears and braided on one side.  A circlet of silver and emerald gems on her forehead brought out the majestic green of her feline eyes.  Tal was a bit thrown off by the sudden attractive creature standing before him and her attire did not necessarily mean she was retiring for the night.

“Uh…sorry, I do not mean to disturb you, but I have important information. I have learned of some points of interest for the two of you. Were you in the middle of something?”  He asked, averting his eyes carefully from the form beneath the yellow wrappings.

“Nothing of importance. May I fetch a robe first?  Are we going somewhere or do you wish to enter here?”  The Yuul woman asked.  There was no embarrassment in her voice.  

He tried to match that. “Once you are ready, could the three of us talk in your room?” 

She agreed and shut the door.  The pair of men waited again in silence in the hallway. The compound was quiet in the evenings and for the most part there were very few sounds echoing in the halls.

“Please come in.” The voice muffled by the door.

Ama’yen was now clothed in a gray and white robe with thick fur lining the edges. She swung the door open, welcoming them to enter her small but charming room. A lit fireplace warmed the chamber. She ushered them over to a wooden, round table that sat four in one corner.  On it, a historical tome was laid open before one chair.

“I was reading and studying a book from your downstairs library. It has maps of the continents surrounding Tayneva.  Fascin-cintaring.”  She stuttered on the last word.

Tal helped her with it. “Fascinating.”  He smiled, hoping she would understand he meant to help and not mock her.

“Ah. Thank you.”

“You are a quick learner and you have already developed a large vocabulary.”

She pulled out the two chairs for them before returning to her chair. 

Tal started. “Last night Taliah, our Blood Seeress, entered a Seyde. A Blood Seyde. It can be tricky and taxing on her physically, but we both felt it was a necessary gamble. We wanted to see if she could learn more information on what we can do to stop The Bleeding Crown. That artifact’s power has grown immensely and I feared we were running out of time.”

“Letandra may also be facing a dire outcome the longer it has control of her.  When The Bleeding Crown abandoned Chroyanne she disintegrated,” Scars interrupted.

Tal nodded in agreement. “Indeed. The Seyde proved me correct, we are in a race against time. However, it also revealed some incredible predictions to her. Per her vision, The Bleeding Crown is somehow preparing to call forth from the expanse of the In-Between, the Etohlosii. These are artifacts similar to The Bleeding Crown. They are imbued with the latent remains of an ancient eldritch god known as ARa Etohl. If the hosts owning the three other Etohlosii reach our plane and reunite with The Bleeding Crown, then ARa Etohl will be resurrected. This cannot happen or all life on every plane of existence will be extinguished.”

While Master Tal could not read the Flohki’s reactions well, he could see that his information had Ama’yen’s rapt attention.

“Several names were given to us through her vision in the Seyde.  These are individuals that will help us in one way or another rescue Letendre from The Bleeding Crown and stop her from reuniting the Etohlosii. We do not have all the details of who they are or where to find them yet, but she is confident of at least one name. Someone known as Khedarr of Aberrisc.”

Ama’yen gasped, her eyes bulged.

“How is that possible?” Scars blurted.

“We are not sure, but Taliah said that some of our answers lie in Aberrisc and with this person known as Khedarr.”

The Yuul stood, backed away from the table, shaking her head. “No! We are locked out. Cut off from our homelands!”

“Taliah was told that a key connection was to locate something known as Mescarne. Somehow and in some fashion, this Mescarne exists on all planes of the In-Between. If you find it, then you can cross over to any world at will.”

“That is why you come to us?” She stiffly faced the fireplace, her arms folded tight over her chest, trembling as if the fire was no longer capable of warming her.

“Yes. First I need you to think of how we — or perhaps the two of you — might locate this Mescarne. Second, if you can go back, you would have the best chance of finding–“

“–Khedarr is a necromancer!” Her words were low but hit Tal like a hammer.

“A MAGE OF DEATH?”

She nodded glumly. “He was ousted from our lands by my father for his tainted practices. However, we did contact him when LLasher was near death. His ungodly skills have greatly improved. I still do not condone his research into the forbidden sorceries of the dead.” Ama’yen looked back over her shoulder, locking eyes with Tal to judge his reaction to her words. 

Scars added, “He might even be dead by now. When we had to ask for his help with Mending LLasher.  He only agreed if we took him back to her homeland, the Fhey Ras Isles. The Quietus had his wife and children enslaved. Khedarr swore he was somehow going to rescue them.”

“When Chroyanne left, who assumed power until she returned?” Tal asked.

Scars shrugged. “However, in my opinion, in contrast to his questionable research, this Khedarr did seem of honorable intent. If Taliah has received credible knowledge from this prophecy, then I would not suspect it would send us to look for someone who was already dead, would it?” Scars asked Tal.

“It does not seem likely that it would. The whole thing is moot if we do not have a way to find Mescarne. Have either of you been to the Mescarne in your world?”

Both shook their heads.  Ama’yen said, “I have heard of the continent, but few have found their way there and even fewer return.”

They sat together, wrestling with the possibilities in their heads. 

“If I remember right,” Ama’yen started, then paused in thought. Finally she said, “I believe Letandra confided in me that Taihven believed he had been brought to Mescarne. One time in one of his episodes. Yes, in fact, I remember now that he had gone back and was able to speak somehow with his dead father!”

“Did he give you any details about the land?”

“I am trying to remember now. It has been some time. Sorry.”

She crossed back to the table but continued to stand, a finger tapping at her chin. 

“While I am not recalling any solid details, my knowledge of your language may be hampering me. He might have mentioned a temple.  A temple of stone at the heart of a desert. I think…” She tapped again at her chin with her finger. Tal noted that each painted and jeweled fingernail was filed to a sharp point.

“Yes, yes. I think I can.” Mostly she spoke to herself, but then she faced Master Tal. “If this temple and Mescarne are in each of the planes, my guess is that the Lei Lines all intersect there.”

“Lei Lines?” Scars asked before Tal could.

“Powerful waves of magical energies that crisscross every plane. In my world, I had an acute sense of them and their location. Perhaps it is due to my heritage, but in Aberrisc we studied and used the Lei Lines to increase our powers and spells. Here I definitely sense the Lei Lines but not as clear as when I was home. If we could track one of the major branches of Lei Lines, I trust it will take us to Mescarne.”

Scars studied the Yuul. “Do you have any sense of how far away they might be?”

She closed her eyes and placed her hands on the table. Her breathing went deep and slowed down into a rhythmic even pace.  A soft purring sound came from deep within her chest.

Moments later. “Several lines are near to us, but a major vein as I am wanting to follow is quite the distance away and…deep into Tayneva.”

Tal nodded. To be discovered or captured on the continent would mean arrest and possible execution since they were labeled traitors. As he considered the weight of the mission, Scars interrupted his inner debate. 

“When can we go, Master Tal?” Scars asked. 

“Would you and Ama’yen then agree to find the temple? I know I am asking much of you. It may mean possibly your lives or possibly the only way back to your families and kind.”

“This fight is ours as well. Not just for the fallen king, our friend and his sister, but for the expanse of the In-Between!”

“Alright. Gather your items and what you want with you for the trip…home. In the morning, I will have Master Rivyen and Lyndasia go with you. If we can validate that part of her prophecy then I have faith you will find Khedarr alive and with our answers on how we can save Letandra and stop The Bleeding Crown.” 

Current & Future Works-In-Progress — Derek Barton – 2023.

Brand new year so it seemed a good time to report my current work and what I hoped to produce in the next year or so.

CURRENT:

The Flight Of The Dirithi — This new original story centers around Princess Jueneva, an orphan, half-dragon girl as she attempts to avenge what was stolen from her family. I have completed the first book in the series but I am in the editing mode stage and adding to the draft. This adventure may be broken down into five novels. We’ll see, but I am really enjoying it and anxious to see how this story comes to life! I expect this will be out for you in this next couple months.

With Malice: A Horror & Crime Fiction Literary Magazine — This is a group effort of a dozen or so horror and crime fiction writers that I have gathered to do a compilation piece each quarter this year. We will be doing about 5 short stories each edition as well as Author Bios, an in depth Author Interview and will have unique horror images, poems and illustrations! Exciting stuff!!!

FUTURE:

Wyvernshield #3 — This is the continuation of the Wyvernshield series surrounding Princess — I mean, the new Ebon Queen Letandra and heart-wrenching story in The Bleeding Crown. This time the main character will be the charismatic, ex-slaver LLasher as he is joined in his rescue attempt by Scars, Ama’yen and other new heroes! I wanted to break this large conclusion down into four smaller novels so you readers didn’t have to wait much longer for your answers. In other words, it takes a long time to write and edit 400 or so pages. The first part of four will hopefully be out the second or third quarter this year.

I Still Burn — I am introducing a new horror story centered on siblings, Rylund and Stephanie, who recently lost their parents in a horrific tragedy. As they adapt to their new lives with their drunk uncle and Rylund’s blindness, a whole new danger presents itself. I will be publishing the first few chapters to this novel in the With Malice Magazine issues. Then I produce the whole complete story next year.

Elude #2 (?!) — That’s right! A possible sequel to my Elude Series. A crazy idea hit me and will not leave my head so be prepared for Vicente Vargas to come out from hiding in Witness Protection and be in an exciting new horror story sometime in 2025.

As you can see, there’s plenty of new stories and writing coming your way!

** This year will be Dirithi #1, Wyvernshield #1 of 4, With Malice Edition #1 through #4.

** In 2024, Dirithi #2 , Wyvernshield #2 and #3 of 4, I Still Burn. I may do a fantasy literary magazine if With Malice is successful.

** And in 2025, Elude the Sequel will start among other projects by then! Whew!!

I also wanted to do a quick shout out for my father’s new work — he’s completed a brand new prequel to The Hidden! If you enjoyed the Predator series latest movie PREY, then you’ll love The Hidden: TRIBES! Look for this coming to Amazon & Kindle in the next couple months.

One last comment: For those of you who have read my last blog, January Writing Challenge, you’ll be happy to know that I am way over my quota of 300 a day (total 2400 words). I am at 3,400! Thanks to all of you who have shown support and interests!

YOU ARE MY MOTIVATION!!

A January Production Challenge — Derek Barton – 2022

This year has sure had it’s share of ups and downs for me, like I’m sure most of you can relate. While it was not as difficult and tumultuous as 2020 and 2021, I had more health concerns and some financial set backs.

This year coming up I want to meet head on and see if I can make some headway into my writing production. Currently I have four maybe five story lines fighting for air in my head! Yes, that sort of chaos and confusion does get very annoying to live with! You see, when I as a writer get inspired, the idea remains there in the back of my head almost like a petulant child. They stand with their arms crossed, one foot tapping and their bottom lip pouting — impatient and demanding freedom to grow up and to show what they can do. I love all my book children and want them all of course to shine but honestly, my health has not recovered to what it was prior to my stroke and I fall ill a lot easier than ever before. Grant it, I am getting older whch does play a part, too.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is I really want to get more stories out there (out of my head!) and into the world and the only way I can do that is by working harder. As someone once told me “own my stroke and stop making excuses with it”!

Next year I’ll also be producing, editing, writing and publishing my first ever literary magazine, With Malice! That’s exciting and hopefully it brings in more engagement with my work. It’s definitely tough to be motivated to write when you’ve got over a dozen books but haven’t sold more than a dozen copies in one year!! More than anything it’s getting reader’s attentions — all my work has gotten 4.5 to 5 star reviews so it’s not the content. Creating ads and paying for them is not investing, it’s more like gambling with money you don’t have and paying someone’s paying attention! With this magazine I’ll be bringing over a dozen other writers to my readers attention and they’ll be bringing my work to their reader’s attention! Win win!! Be on the lookout for those issues starting this March—one per quarter.

Have any of you bought something of mine? What attracted you to it? If you haven’t (no judgment or bad feelings), what has turned you off from doing so? I’m looking for some honest insight and maybe a direction to get better results. Any comments or feedback are highly welcome and appreciated.

With that all said, my goal or what I’m thinking of is I’m going to try and challenge myself and put it out there that everyday in January I’m going to write at least 300 words every day. Now I know 300 doesn’t sound too impressive but when you figure how much goes on all the time in your daily life…So I’m making a stand to at least getting it done every day no matter what…Oyyy putting the words and goal to print for all to see and judge — now that’s scary!

Of course there will be days when I will go for more and may write a 1000 but there will be days too that I make just my minimum. I’m hoping IF this challenge comes through I can do it for February! Who knows?!

I will also try to edit and publish some of that work for you guys too as “fresh content blogs”.

31 days x 300 words = 9,300 total. 12 months x 9300 = 111, 600!! (That’s maybe two books worth!!)

As of this post I’ll have done 24 posts this year. Not too shabby—last couple years I was down to like 10 blogs and that’s very dismal to me. The Fresh Content blogs have seemed to be a hit so also keep a lookout for more coming up this next year!!

Thanks to everyone who supports this blog and my work — maybe together we can truly create something special!!

Book Review of Stephen King’s “Fairy Tale” — Derek Barton – 2022

Fairy Tale

by Stephen King — a Coming of Age Dark Fantasy Novel

Released on September 6, 2022 — 608 pages

Being myself an avid fantasy reader and writer, this was a book I knew I had to read. The fact that I am a huge Stephen King fan is no secret, however, his fantasy works have not always been a huge hit for me. While I loved the novel, The Eyes of The Dragon, I didn’t find the Gunslinger series as satisfying. This novel has more of a feel and story tone similar to his work, The Talisman (it’s been ages since I’ve read this one, but I did enjoy it when I read it in the 90s).

The Synopsis:

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.

The story revolves around a seventeen-year-old boy, Charlie Reade and an eclectic, elderly man, Mr. Bowditch and his German shepherd dog, Radar. Told through Charlie’s eyes, his long quest begins on the fated night when his mother dies tragically and his father plummets into a drunken stupor. In this tale, King loosely weaves in key elements of the classic Grimm fairy tales with the modern issues that society faces today.

The Review:

One of King’s super powers, or given the topic, I should say his magic ability as a writer is his character portrayals. He finds a way to not only bring unique and memorable characters but makes them instantly relatable. They walk into your life like old friends and by the end of the work, you know you are going to miss them afterwards! Charlie and Mr. Bowditch are fine examples of this.

One of King’s areas of opportunity would be getting into the actual plot or reason for the story. Like in his book, Billy Summers, it takes about half the novel for the true story to begin. Although I did enjoy the story events and the character build up, King needs to find a way to “get to it” faster — several other book reviews online also listed this as a drawback and that he lost their interests by not bringing the reader to the heart of the work sooner.

The fantasy is well constructed and solid world-building aspects. The curse upon the land tugs at your emotions and the dungeon sequences makes you cringe then shout in glee. Overall, he gives a respectful nod to the past fairy tales and produces for his readers, an entertaining, modern take on fairy tales.

The narration is done masterfully by Seth Numrich, a renown broadway/television actor and by Stephen King who voices Mr. Bowditch. The performance of the story is brought to life by Numrich’s accents and theatre skills. An awesome play in your ears in other words.

The Rating:

In spite of the duration it takes to get to the true focus of the tale he is telling, this is a gem for any reader and a classic piece by Stephen King. Don’t pick up this 600+ page work expecting an all out fast pace race to the end, but sit down in your favorite chair and delve into the story, enjoying it like you would a leisure walk through the woods on a nice, Autumn day. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! For rating purposes, I would score this 4.25 of 5.

By DEREK BARTON — Author of the ELUDE series (Parts I, II & III — a Horror/crime thriller), EVADE Series (Parts I, II & III)  & IN FOUR DAYS: a Horror-Suspense Novella (available on Audible.com!).  Also the Dark Fantasy novel series CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS and THE BLEEDING CROWN (both available on Audible.com!).

FRESH STORY CONTENT 10/27/2022 — Derek Barton — Wyvernshield!! – 2022

In spite of the activities they were about to perform, the night was relatively quiet in the compound.  Taliah was in her ceremonial robe, waiting on a Bhik-sunii to retrieve her from her room and escort her to the Ritual Room. She was calm and rested, her thick red hair bound up in a silver brooch.  Her blindfold laid across her lap, she did not like to wear it in the privacy of her room. However, for the Order ceremonies or when she was consulting visitors she always had one to cover the deep groves, the scars cut into her face and of course, the hideous open eye sockets.  Without it, there was always an awkward tension in the air.  She understood that people were thrown off by the mutilation and it made them uncomfortable. Yet she was at peace with all of it. It was the price she paid, the penance for her forced actions on behalf of the Viestrahl which led to much blood spilt.

She wondered what the Blood Seyde would reveal to her tonight.  Normally, she took her cues from nature when to perform the Seyde, a bath in blood. Storms would coalesce and sweep in to their island.  The pounding of the rain, the strafing rains, and the raw energies released by its lightning would charge her power.  

Sometimes with those storms came a mystic messenger, a white cloud-like entity.  These entities wanted her to see their stories, live a moment or day in their lives.  They were her guides through history. Even a king once came to her and confessed to her his greatest sins. These visions had revealed much to her and explained so many mysteries of local lore to her which she shared with Tal Crowan and the Khestal Ezan Order.  

Yet, there were no such storms this evening.  She proposed the idea to Tal and set up the Seyde herself.  A compulsion or maybe it was intuition, but something nagged at her and inspired the idea to try and gain knowledge of the Etohlosii through her visions.  At first, it took some convincing as the procurement of the precious gallons of blood was expensive. In the end, he agreed it may provide a direction.  

The Beleardea were ahead of them and with the Ebon Queen’s backing, they easily blocked all of their other endeavors to learn what was happening behind the Barrier of Storms.  

A memory of crystal water stained red, a fountain of white and silver stone, the horrific vision rose up in Taliah and she shuddered.  It had been a terrorizing, prophetic dream she had before Letandra had been taken by the Crown.  A revealing glimpse into madness and human sacrifice.  The blood in her fountains were human, while the blood Taliah would bathe in was from animals.  A subtle but important difference.

A metal gong was struck and reverberated through the compound. It was time, her escort would arrive soon. 

She pulled up the red and gold blindfold and placed it over her scarred face.  Carefully, she worked herself over to stand near the door.  

Moments later she heard the wooden clogs of the Bhik-sunii girls as they came to her bed chamber.

One gave a soft knock and they came in without a word. She extended her arm then was led through the halls.  

Taliah laid naked inside a silver bathtub, the cold metal chilling her backside as she waited for the ritual to begin.

She smelled a faint wisp of scented smoke coming from several braziers in the corners of the room.  A metallic tinkling sound drifted down to her ears that came from long metal chimes hung from the ceiling in between red wax candles and ruby crystal chandeliers.  

The Bhik-sunii strode up and surrounded the bathtub, presumably with their silver pitchers.  She braced herself and focused her thoughts.

Cam Rhea initiated the special Song of Crossing to deliver her into the In-Between. The In-Between was an enormous intersection of all  existence, where all the planes connected. It was said to be like an emerald sea where nothing physically existed yet everything could be found there too.  She did not understand it nor had she ever seen it with her own eyes, even before she was blind.  

The Song of Crossing and the intricate chants were to guide her to the intersection as well as provide a level of magical and spiritual protection.  There were said to be creatures that could prey upon souls or even capture one in order to replace them in reality. 

“Pa tas bea’tra.  Pa tas bea’tra. Pa tas bea’tra – Keyor!” Speak through the blood.  Speak through the blood.  Speak through the blood — Dead One!  As the girls chanted, they poured the oily liquid contents of the pitchers. Taliah then felt their hands upon her limbs and shoulders keeping her firmly beneath the surface of the warm blood.

She spasmed and her body fought their hold, but in time as always it gave in and went limp. As she entered the Crossing, her body became weightless. Then a fire built inside her, it raged through every cell.  While she still could not see, a picture formed of her surroundings inside her mind.  Every nerve of her body was in direct connection to the In-Between and absorbed every detail in an all encompassing vision.    

Within the In-Between were millions of strands or soul-lines, long, convoluted cables, representing each  person’s life.  They wound together in massive braids, the family blood lines of each generation. It was at this point the guide or the Mystic Messenger would take her to the strand she needed and she would delve into the depths of their lives, living through their eyes or witnessing it in a spirit-form.

When Taliah was new to the role as a Blood Seeress, it was hard to know the limits of what she could do and to understand what she saw. And even though she was more experienced, she still found she had a loose grasp on her power.  It was one of the reasons she was so excited to try this experiment this evening.  She wanted to push the boundaries again and at the same time, she hoped to find more useful answers.

She hesitated opn how to proceed. No “Dead One” tonight for her to rely on so she waited for any sign.  Floating in the Emerald Sea among the multitude of soul-lines made her feel insignificant and at the same time a critical element to all the souls around her.  

Finally she felt the tiniest of vibrations caress her skin.  She pushed herself toward it trying to gain a stronger indication of its location.  Again the sensation of rippling waves tickled her. but it was barely any different than before.  This meant that the soul-line was a distance from her.  It would take some time and a lot of mental energy to find the hidden strand. 

That did not bode well for Taliah.  The longer in the In-Between, the harder it was to extract from it.  As well it meant a more intensive rest would be needed afterward. She hated bed-rest. The fact that the hidden strand was some distance, however, did boost her mood. This was a sign that the event to be witnessed was deep in history.

As she had not felt any other twinges or sensations from other strands, she had to hope that this was the one she needed.  

It took the greater half of the night she estimated to reach the soul-line.  Taliah hoped she was not woken too early.  The Bhik-sunii watched over her physical form in the real world and studied her to see signs of stress.  If they feared she was in danger they had processes to retrieve her soul-line.  They knew she disliked long periods in the mysterious plane, yet they also knew this was an important quest for her. It was a dual test of their wisdom for them and a test of her fortitude.

She trusted their patience would hold them from disrupting her.  

Not waiting any time, she located the strand among several knotted family braids and immediately plunged her essence into the ivory cable.   

****

A set of five pedestals stood before her, four with individual marks and thick moldy tomes.  The room was square with a high arched ceiling.  A trio of sky lights allowed sunrays to pierce the room’s gloomy shadows and encircle the pedastals.  Taliah recognized the pedastals and books but not the location.  She saw a similar set up once in a long ago vision, but that room had been hidden in present day somewhere in the city of Rovmantysa.  The Beleardea had established a chamber, acquired the tomes and used them in their rituals.  

She did not understand why they were here now in front of her.  This room was empty, its walls were only adorned with a symbolic scripting. It was the exact opposite of her vision of the altar for ARa Etohl — that room had been circular, ringed with candles and the walls covered in tapestries showing the Vile Beast, the Three-Horned Snake God.

Staring down at her hands, she recognized that they were too rough and callused to be a woman’s hands.  In the right hand was a torch and the other a dirt-caked hand shovel.  

“Aramon, move in already. I want to see.” A woman’s voice, thick with the Jehahi accent called out behind him.

“Aye.  It’s beautiful.  Jussa like the Shaman said.” The man answered.  Taliah remained inside only as a witness.  She had no power here.  All was displayed to her as if they were actors in a play before her.

The man raised from his crawling position and stood in the room.  His face drawn in rapture and his eyes seem to eat up the writing on the walls.

As the woman came in, Taliah noted her youth first then the fact that her naked torso was tattooed in symbols.  She recognized a few religious symbols but could not remember the meanings.  She was dressed in a long flowing skirt and had a bronze circlet which had delicate chains woven into her hair.  The braid hung down her back to her waist. She carried a backpack and a couple of watersacks on a belt.  Neither she or this Aramon were armed. 

“We don’t have much time.” She tried to spur him into action.  When he remained frozen, she shrugged and crossed over to the first of the pedestals. 

The tome was three handspans wide and bound in gray-scaled leather with golden rings. A glass crystal orb was embedded in the cover.  Without realizing it, she subconsciously rubbed her fingers over the translucent glass.  A high-pitched whine escaped it and filled the chamber for a couple of seconds.  

“Shasha!  What did you do?”  Aramon shouted as spun to look at her. He ran to her side.  The second tome answered in turn with its own pitch, slightly higher.  A hooked staff shown on its cover and was depicted in gold and platinum metal engraving.  The third book, marked by a Silver Crown rang out in an even higher octave.  All four tomes continued to trill and gain in intensity.

“I…I don’t know?”  A tear slipped down her cheek. “But, I think…I think I hear the voice of Yula Do Vras.  It is so beautif–“

“–NO! You’ve only triggered some kind of alarm.  Grab them before…”

A part of the back wall shifted and a square section of sandstone slowly dropped and cascaded into a pile upon the floor. A passage dark and foreboding could be seen as it continued into mysterious shadows. The tomes shrills whines diminished and faded into silence.

The pair stared at each other, neither had an answer or expected this. 

Aramon approached the opening and held up his torch which sputtered on an unseen draft coming from the tunnel.  The flames steadily regained and remained lit on the wooden shaft. Over his shoulder, he commanded again, “Get the books, Shasha. Come!”

“I donna like the looks of that way.  We should go back the ways we came. That way opened for a reason. Who knows what it’s purpose might be. A trap perhaps?”

A whispery voice called out from the tunnel.  It was featherlight and musical.  She was almost certain it was the same sweet voice she had heard before. The words were impossible to make out but they repeated over and over to them.  

Before the pair knew it, they were standing inside another mammoth chamber, their torchlight barely illuminating a quarter of it.  Marble pillars stood on white and black tiled floors. They rose high overhead to an unseen ceiling. Nothing of this place seemed familiar or even possibly connected to the temple they had invaded. The room was manmade but appeared to be nearly empty. Taliah noted that there were rows of wooden benches or pews on either side of an immense aisle. Their sandals made odd thumping sounds as they traveled deeper into the heart of the chamber.

Finally they stood before a raised dais and a wooden altar.  A gray and red cloth carpeted the dais.  

A figure stood waiting behind the altar, silken beige thin wraps covered the figure from head to toe.  The wraps were see-through and haphazard in fashion.  The figure was a collection of bones, not a full skeleton. A chain of black links and sapphire gems was the only decoration upon its neck.

“Come, O Children O Children,”  The figure called out as the skull turned to acknowledge their presence. It had the sweet angelic voice.

“Who are you?  Where are we?”  Challenged Aramon.

“You are in Sanctuary.  You are forever safe.”

Shasha pulled on Aramon’s shoulder.  “I donna like this.  Please, let’s go back the other ways.”

“I want to show you what gifts you hold.  I want you to understand their meaning and their power.”  The wrapped figure said.  It had no real emotion in its words, just a simple statement of desire. It floated closer, ominous and wreathed with ivory light. Breath-taking, towering over them, intimidating all at the same time.

“We donna mean any disgrace to Yula Do Vras. Our…our mother is dying and we needed the bounty for the books to pay for her care.  We see that this was wrong and we’ll replace them.  Please!” Aramon begged.  

“I am not asking to take the books from you.  They shall be forever a part of you. I only want to show you their reason for existence.  You have done Us a great favor, O Children O Children”  The figure rose above them, its light now bathing them.

The siblings whimpered in superstitious fear and dropped to their knees, clasping their hands.  “Please.  PLEASE! Forgive our trespass.  We will return them.  Donna hurt us.”  Shasha ranted as she buried her face into her brother’s shoulder.

“You do not understand… yet,.. how you have done Us the favor.  Now we impart onto you what you have released into the existence again.”  Its skeletal hands came down and rested on their foreheads. The figure’s remnants of skin was mottled gray and with patches of coarse black hairs. Blue veins stood out under the thin, taught skin. Its clinging flesh writhed uncontrollably.

Both Aramon and Shasha shrieked and filled the room with tortured screams.

****

Taliah’s eyes were blind again.  A searing pain filled her. She reflexively flung herself back into reality, crashing out of the silver tub, sprawling like a wild fish upon the floor.  Her hands clutched at the sides of her head as her screams mimicked the pair over and over. Horrific images flooded her mind’s eye. 

The Etohlosii were coming and soon they would release ARa Etohl forever upon the realms. All realms!

The Bhik-sunii swept her up, trying to calm her, but it took hours for her to return to sanity.  She writhed all that time, wrestled in their arms as she cried. They eventually put a leather strip in her mouth to prevent her from biting off her tongue and chewing away her lips.  

All the while, Tal Crowan stood silently watching, pen and parchment in hand. He wrote down her every word. He listened to every muttered phrase or name. Her words began to repeat — he surmised that she was giving him a prophecy, a litany of events that may come, names of those who must live and those who must die or the Corruption of ARa Ehtol would come and end all existence.

CHECK IT! CHECK IT OUT!! — Derek Barton – 2022

Hey Everyone!

We have set up a Kickstarter for our magazine. What’s a Kickstarter? CHECK IT OUT AND SEE WHAT SPECIAL ITEMS/REWARDS/COLLECTIBLES YOU CAN GET BY HELPING US REACH OUR GOAL!

2023 will be a great new year of fresh content and thrilling horror!!!!

. Want to know what YOU get?

Be a part of the team and on board for a great series of chilling stories!!!

New Project for 2023, Ready for it? — Derek Barton – 2022

I am excited to announce MY new venture — I’ve gathered over a dozen horror and crime fiction writers to write unique, short stories which will be issued in beautifully arranged magazine issues.

Every quarter, we are set to release indie-original fiction along with crafted poetry, author-drawn illustrations, picture & author biographies, and in-depth interviews with some of the authors.

Writing Staff: Derek Barton, Alyanna Poe, Chris Pelton, John N. McLean, Albert Moss, Andy Holberry, Jennifer Amato , Adam C Mitchell, Sam Synner, Annmarie McMullin, Jace Killjoy, Steve Cain and Thomas Stewart Copy Editor: Nesa Miller

Soon I will announce our Kickstarter campaign where for a minimal pledge, you will gain access to custom made metal bookmarkers, digital/softcover issues, an exciting Zoom Halloween Party with the Magazine Contributors, t-shirts, bonus story material, and even my Elude Series on Audible!

I will keep you all in the loop on any upcoming details or updates. With success, I hope to extend this project into the following year, maybe going bi-monthly with the issues! And of course, if I’m able to I would love to create the same kind of magazine but for Fantasy & Sci-Fi stories! Time will tell!!

Blogs, Blogs & More Blogs! — Derek Barton – 2022

This blog will be my 195th blog posting since I created this site back in July of 2016. I am really proud of the body of work. But there’s a big problem with having this many.

How can you know what I’ve written in the past or where to even look? This ARCHIVES section gives you only the amount of blog posts I’ve written in that particular month.

So it took some research, some digging into WordPress’s Help section, followed up with some very quick responses from their Customer Service agents to finally find a way to organize my posts and to provide simple categories for you to read my posts and posts I’ve written years ago.

Here is the new MENU for my blogs and some of the topics you may find interesting. Of course a lot of the posts have #tags for you to search for, but this also gives you a specific place to find blogs you may have interests in.

LATEST Blog — This of course is where you’ll still find my latest, most current blog posts. For instance this months are: * Frest Content 8/11/22 (A new chapter for Wyvernshield) * New Release – The Infernal Eternal (Release notice about my new gamebook)

BLOGS: General — These are blogs about Appearances, Book Releases, Book Giveaways or General Announcements, etc. Examples: * A Humbling Sight (Post about Hometown Library showcase) * New Author Interview (An Interview I did in 2020) * New Avenues To Me (Post about Patreon & Pinterest)

BLOGS: New Content — This category is especially good if you are looking to read any new work – rough drafts for upcoming novels. Examples: * First Sneak Peek of Evade II (Chapter excerpt) * Writing Prompt #4 – Max the Most (A horror short story) * Sneak Preview Chapter from Evade (Chapter excerpt)

BLOGS: Writing Tips — Blogs for other writers who may be interested in learning more about my style and view on word craft. Examples: * Repel the Resistance (How to fight Procrastination) * Immerse Or Die (How to keep readers involved)

BLOGS: Self-publishing — Posts that give insight into Self-publishing manuscripts and what you can anticipate in the complex process. Examples: * Essential Elements to Book Covers * The Art of The Juggle (Tips on Organizing)

BLOGS: Goal Setting — Category describing some methods for making goals and how I did or did not achieve them. Examples: * 2017 Bi-monthly Goals for July & August * 2017 Nanowrimo November & December Bi-monthly Goals (Post about making goals around Nanowrimo Challenge)

BLOGS: Personal — Personal posts that give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of my life. Examples: * Stroke — My Internal/External Ordeal * 2020 Bio Blog (Things about me & who I am)

BLOGS: Book Review — Mostly audiobook reviews and/or occasional movie reviews… Examples: * Audible Book Review of Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World” * Audible Book Review of Stephen KIng’s “The Outsider”

BLOGS: Guest Posts — A few guest blogs from writer Adam C. Mitchell, crime noir author. * Chandler’s Ten Commandments

I hope this helps you find some old posts you may have liked before and want to reread. Or maybe you’ll find posts you may have missed or posts made before you found my site. Either way, you will discover so many posts on here that have very little views, but I hope you will find very beneficial, enlightening or entertaining!

NEW RELEASE – The Eternal Infernal – Derek Barton – 2022

Hot off the press, this fun, action-packed gamebook is now on sale on Amazon! Paperback version soon to come.

You are about to join young Zack Lyons, a budding YouTube Video Blogger on a unique adventure!

What starts as a usual day of urban exploring on the outskirts of the city, quickly turns into a bizarre, dangerous nightmare in an abandoned ex-government lab. He’ll need your street-smarts, some key decision-making, and a real stroke of good luck to survive.

Enjoy this fun, action-packed tale — part story, part game! You decide what rooms to explore, what to keep on hand, and who to fight or flee!

GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY! CLICK HERE

FRESH STORY CONTENT!! 5/17/2022 — Derek Barton – 2022

Hey there! It’s been a while, but I’m back — my stroke recovery is going well. I’m nearly 90% (my hand and my speech needs some more time), but overall, I think it’s time to get back to work!

My main goal this year is to find a way to get more stories out this year and making time to work on several stories at the same time. Which story, you ask? All of them of course. Heh.

Currently I have three stories that I have been adding on to here and there, wanting so badly to write and complete each one, yet I get derailed time and time again. Those projects are: The Flight of The Dirithi series, a new horror story project (working title so far is Days of The Rending) and finally the Third Wyvernshield story. The two fantasy stories are especially way overdue. I seriously thank you for your support and patience. (And… on top of all this, I’m considering an Elude screenplay!)

The plan is to work up at least one day a week a blog with new pages. I will continue to post these blogs up until the last quarter of each book. You can follow along, but keep in mind these will be RAW, uncut gems (only first wave edited) and when the books are actually produced there are bound to be changes, additions and deletions to the material.

I hope by publishing some new content every week this will force me to make headway on all three novels. One caveat, I have to rewrite my outline for the third Wyvernshield book so it may take me a while before you see a blog with that storyline.

Today I will go ahead and give you an exciting new chapter in my latest horror story. Next week I will start at the intro and reprint my opening chapter of The Flight of The Dirithi so you can refresh yourselves on that one.

I will title each of these blogs as Fresh Content and date them so you can be sure you are on the right one.

Again thank you for all your kindness during my recovery and I truly appreciate the well-wishes!!

Enjoy!!!!!

Chapter One

Sammy Samuels wasn’t bothered by the late-night Philly air. In fact, he rather enjoyed its touch of briskness. Made him feel more alive on his walks home. His breath plumed, funneling out and trailed behind the old man’s head. As he walked along the street, he whistled an old favorite R & B tune to himself. A large smile was stretched across his face. There were touches of gray along the edges of his afro. In his left hand, he held a smoldering, snubbed cigar and in the other, he carried a bottle of Jimmy Bean Bourbon.

As Sammy crested the hill on Jacobson St., he first spotted it. He nearly skidded to a stop, and he stiffened in spite of himself. “Wow. What in the hell is that?” he muttered under his breath.

At the bottom, in the hollow, at the corner of Jacobson and Alan Derry St., sat one of the ugliest statues he’d ever seen in his life. It was of a dog, a large one like a German Shepherd. It was placed to sit facing back up at the hill. The streetlamp overhead gave it a wide spotlight of yellowish light. The statue’s fur a natural patchwork of tan, brown and black. However, above its snout was a red plastic mask, white X’s over its eyes.  

Never seen that here before, he mused. Sick joke or something.

He didn’t find it amusing. He’d come down this way a few times before from Delta Blues Liquor Store if he had to – when he’d miss the last running Metro bus like he did tonight. He was sure he’d have noticed that gawdy thing.

Sammy shook his head, chuckled, and returned to whistling his favorite song. One of them millennial artists musta placed it there recently. Prolly got some sort of statement and story behind it. Nowadays, everyone got something to say, an opinion that everyone just has to listen to!

He shook his head once more disdainfully.  At halfway down the hill, he stopped abruptly again. He nearly dropped his half-finished bottle. To the right of the street and sitting dutifully on both sides of a door were two more of the statues. Same red masks with the white Xs, different shades of fur. The pair were placed in front of Rawley’s Deli.

Sammy instinctively glanced to the left to see if there were dog statues posted as the others. Nothing. As habit, he scratched one temple with an index finger as he stood confused.

Instead of more statues, he found a small alley entrance, cluttered by two tall brick buildings and several brown, city garbage bins. A flickering light hung off one building but it was further back at the end.

He looked back at the three dogs one by one, looking for a poster or sign to further elaborate on the work’s meanings. Nothing.

Sammy shrugged, took a long swig from the bottle which he followed with a deep drag from his cigar.

He stepped forward, cursing the way the world was so over-populated with opinionated assholes and full of self-righteousness these darkening days, when he saw the fourth dog statue. It was sitting motionless next to the first one at Jacobson St.

The bottle dropped and shattered at his feet. He blurted, “What da hell?” Where did that one come from?

The dogs tilted their heads together, slowly to the right as dogs do as if listening to his inner questions.

Sammy’s heart raced and his chest tightened with sudden fear. He took an involuntary step backward. Swiveling his head to the left then right, he looked to see if anyone else happened to be out in this late hour. He prayed he would spy someone — anyone – and not another dog statue!

Were they statues? The shocking question bubbled up in his mind.

No one else was out, most of the store fronts were dark and closed up. Due to the recent cold spell, no one was out or near the apartment buildings or out on their stoops.

Three more dogs appeared. They lazily strolled out from another alleyway ahead of him, walking in a line. They sat upon their haunches, sitting on the sidewalk in formation, then they too tilted their heads in question.

Almost like they asking me ‘what the fuck you gonna do, old man? What’s your thoughts?’

His tongue snaked out quick and wet his lips. Sammy had grown up on the streets and had toughened it out, surviving many fights and ambushes. He was cagey, yet it had been some time since he’d had to use those skills.

Whatcha gonna do?

He lurched forward to the left, but after two steps, he stutter-stepped then spun on his sneaker heals, to bolt back up the hill as fast as his arthritic joins would carry him. When he topped it, a fist caught him squarely in the nose and rocked him off his feet. He never saw it coming. Helplessly, he tumbled backwards and rolled along the street’s gutter.

When he came to a stop at the bottom, Sammy sputtered and spit blood as he laid panting heavily on his back. He moaned but held out a motioning hand in the air. “Wait! Wait please.”

His hand dropped down and rummaged in his jean’s pocket. He produced a faded tan leather wallet, thin and very used.

“I ain’t got much, mister, but it’s your’s,” he said as he waved it out. He kept his eyes squeezed shut.

However, no one took his wallet. Nothing was said.  He didn’t hear dog or man.

“Look! It’s okay. I get it. But I didn’t see you, only your dogs. I can’t ID you. I wouldn’t. Hell, dude, who’s gonna believe an old drunk anyway. You take what I have, just don’t hurt me anymore, okay?”

Someone snapped their fingers.

Sammy heard the approach of soft patter of paws. The old man gulped and held brave to the thought he’d be alright. He’d be home soon, safe and relaxing in his comfy recliner and eating a microwave dinner in a quick hour. You’ll see. They’ll leave ya alone as you ain’t got nothin’.

He tried to ignore the painful sharp stings as their jaws clamped onto his wrists. As well, he didn’t resist as they dragged him toward the empty, shadowy alley. Inside the alley’s dark confines, more jaws snapped close upon his limbs.

Lord, I’ve been a good man for some time now. Please see me through this, he prayed inside. While he did have a strong faith, he also believed in the idea that the blessed be those who help themselves too.

He opened one eye then the other. The pack of dogs surrounded him, their hot breaths baked his skin. Their fur was spikey, greasy and matted with mud and feces. A rotted, fetid stench from their breath and bodies soured his stomach, nearly making him vomit. His arms and legs held aloft by two dogs each. They were keeping him down but hadn’t actually torn at him, only imprisoning him. The person who struck him on the street was nowhere in sight.

“What? Hello?” Sammy’s voice was shaky and shrill, pleading.

As an answer a massive jaw griped his thin throat, choking him. Trickles of blood droplets dripped to the dirty concrete beneath him.

A gravely yet smug voice called out from somewhere above Sammy. “Samuel Jeremiah Samuels. Born in 1948, survived a pair of ex-wives. Father to two sons who you haven’t spoken to in years. Retired as a building engineer when we all know you were just a glorified handyman. Now pitiful, broke and useless to all around him.” The voice droned on other trivial in the same masculine and judgmental tirade. A pair of slick, lime green boots slowly appeared next to his head. They were wet and caked in odd, slimy mud that smelled faintly fishy or maybe wormy.

“What do you want? Lemme go! You have no right to do this to me!” Sammy weakly gasped out from under the mane of the dog.

“Oh Sammy. Really going to go there? Deep down you know what’s happening. You know what I’m doing and why. It’s your Judgment Day. No right? No, sir, I have every right and from the day you first understood your ol’ mama’s words — she taught you that sins pile up and you’d one day have to atone.”

“Bullshit,” the weak dismissal didn’t have much strength behind it.

A flash of memory popped in Sammy’s head. It was of the Sunday, he’d been five years old and had been caught with his two friends trying to snake out dollar bills from the church’s tithe baskets while everyone was supposed to be in Sunday School. His Granny Josie had used a thin tree branch to deliver his punishment followed up with a fifteen-minute sermon on sinnin’ and doin’ the devil’s work. The Devil to Sammy became the worst of the world’s boogeymen to him, but the world had a multitude of monsters to keep him up at night. Whoever his attacker was, he was right about him, he knew what sinning was from an early age.

Another snap of fingers.

Excruciating pain filled Sammy. Every nerve inside shrieked with agony, muscles and skin tore, blood poured or fountained all about the alley. His screams were muffled and garbled by the penetrating fangs in his throat. His limbs flailed and writhed but were not released.

An orange aura of energy flowed over him, white flickering lightning bolts popped and lit up the alley. It blinded him so he couldn’t see much of the shadowy dark profile standing over him anyways.

“I can keep you like this as long as I want, Sammy. I won’t let you die, you see you cannot escape me so easily. You cannot outlast me either. It’s a new trick I picked up. This pain, this Rending of your soul, can last for eternity. I have brought your mama’s Hell to you!” the Dark Form laughed.

Then Sammy’s Granny Josie’s voice howled out of his mouth, “Sammy! Sammy, you stop livin’ like this, you be a good man. Those gangs are not for you. They pretendin’ to be your family. They usin’ you up and will throw you away just as easy! Stop your sinnin’!”

Those were the actual words she had used when she bailed him out the third time. The drive home had seemed torturous and infinite to him. But now… after she was long gone and buried, the words seemed like purity and wisdom. If only it hadn’t been another four years before he straightened up and wanted more in life.

The laughter continued as the pain ratcheted up. The dogs yanked and thrust all about, tearing his arms from the elbow joints first then the shoulders. His legs were severed at the ankles then gnawed apart at the knees.

The Dark Form’s words oozed into his ears, the menacing tone flooded him over the sounds of his screams and begging pleas for mercy. “This will all end, you’ll be forgiven if you only say the words. You only need to give everything to Her.  Appeals for mercy are sweet and savory, but She demands more! Give Her all, follow what you are told. If you ask for Her name, I’ll give it to you and then you can be released. Can you do that, Sammy? Are you going to beg me for Her name and Her mercy?”

The jaws at his throat tightened further and crushed his windpipe. Blood poured up and out of his mouth, splattering his face and chest. His skull cracked hard on the concrete as it separated from his shoulders. Agony and fire filled his mind, consuming him.

“SAY IT, SAMMY! GIVE YOUR SOUL TO HER TO SAVE IT OR THE HOUNDS WILL TEAR YOU INTO HUNDREDS OF PIECES WHICH YOU WILL FEEL EACH AND EVERY BIT OF!” The Dark Form screeched in a mad frenzy.

As two hounds gnawed at his face and ears, pulling and stretching, Sammy gave in, he bent to Her will. TELL ME HER NAME, I AM HER’S. PLEASE STOP!!

The Dark Form complied.

It didn’t stop the relentless mauling right away.

Dogs were at his neck, drinking and lapping up his blood. Others were eating his intestines and finding other organ delicacies. His genitals were caught in a vicious three-way tug of war.

All of it, Samuel Jeremiah Samuels felt and heard in a suspended state of life.

The Dark Form snapped its fingers once more. The carnage came to a bloody, frothy end. The Rending ceased.

“Your life is over as you know it. Your life and oath are bound to us now. You will serve, but you will serve…” the sentence of damnation was paused then a single word was uttered. This time Sammy felt it rather than heard.

“Whole.”

Sammy laid unconscious, breathing shallowly in the dirt of the alley for a few hours behind the garbage bins. Eventually, he sat up and looked around him. He was alone. No dog or man. He absently scratched at his temple, stood and hugged his arms to his chest. It was still cold that early Philadelphia morning as he made the rest of his trip home.