It’s been over 400 years since humanity has had to face the fact that the creatures from myths and legends from all over the world are real. Fast forward to current day, and the Dark Fey city of Arrana, built upon the ruins of what was once called Berlin, is a thriving metropolis, and home to its greatest Apothecary – Zelena Minasorcha.
Zelena’s life runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, that is until she meets the gorgeous Fey woman, Cyrene. Captivated by her strange aura and otherworldly beauty, Zelena finds herself entangled in Cyrene’s mission to find an ancient artifact. A treasure which has the deadly potential to wipe out Zelena’s entire family.
It’s now a race against time, as Zelena and Cyrene are not the only interested parties, and those others will stop at nothing to take the treasure and use its powers for genocide.
Can Zelena protect her family, and still keep the woman she loves?
About the Author
Merciella Heartstorm is an Australian author of speculative fiction featuring LGBTQIA+ characters with real stories that focus on more than just the romance! She lives in Western Australia with her beautiful wifey who’s also her submissive. She has two incorrigible furbaby cavvies and a transgender chicken. That’s a story for later though!
She identifies as asexual, panromantic, and proudly feminist. In her perfect world, everyone would be free to be themselves, and all would be treated with equal respect. Humanity may not live in it yet, but everyone has a say in what the world becomes. Everyone does what they can, and together we all move that little bit closer.
When she’s not busy weaving rich tales of fantasy and science fiction, she’s finding some other way to create things of beauty whether drawings, sculptures, or fairy gardens! She is an active member of her kink community and can be seen at the occasional Nefarious event. When not creating, she’s having some downtime dominating submissive men who get a thrill being under her heel. With mutual consent, naturally!
Her dream is to be a full-time writer and creator of her arts so she can bring a little fantasy to the world, and most especially, to those who need it.
If you love her books, share them far and wide, so she can continue writing them full time!
Jackson Armstrong is blessed with an extraordinary memory and a young son who loves him. He is also cursed with a compulsion to gamble that has cost him nearly everything. While chasing another big win, Jackson is killed in a car theft gone wrong and finds himself trapped in Pandemonium, a hellish, urban netherworld where demons rule over man.
Before long, Jackson begins having visions of a mysterious portal. Convinced his visions are the key to escaping Pandemonium and returning home to his son, Jackson forms an unlikely alliance with Lilith, a mysterious demon who has an agenda all her own. As the two are relentlessly pursued by an evil older than time itself, they must navigate their way across a brutal, fantastical landscape and find the portal before it closes forever .
Pandemonium is a dark fantasy adventure that will take readers to the depths of a richly imagined hell unlike any they have experienced before.
About the Author
Sean Farley is an author living in Detroit, Michigan. “Pandemonium” is his debut novel. He attended Wayne State University where he received his master’s degree in English. He has also written for The Detroit News.
New Series from International Award Winning Author, Kia Carrington-Russell:
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In this world, there are creatures lurking in the shadows. As a child, I once played with them. As a teenager, I began to fear them and became victim to their attacks. As an adult, I now realize that no matter how much I try to escape the grasp of this world, I was inevitably born into it.
Now reborn as a Guardian in the year of 2986, Vivian Lair must uphold the treaty between Angels and Demons on the human world and city of Shabeah. Contracted to seven demons who she can shift into while taking direct orders from the Underworld Lord, Haymen, it wasn’t exactly her ideal rebirth. Involving herself with the Angel of War, Gabe is even worse.
Still fighting those who try to possess her during her sleep, Vivian must now record and try to hunt the Volv through the Shadow Minds Journal. Now stuck between the hatred and lust of two of the most powerful entities in all worlds, Vivian is involved inevitably in the upcoming conflict.
Blood. Lust. War. She must kill before being killed.
The Shadow Minds Journal- Prologue
The problem with sleeping was it left me vulnerable to the creatures that would prey on me at night. In this place, a very distant and dark reality, I could not fight, scream, or control the environment. All I could do was run. The world and experience were completely controlled by the entity which was imposed on me. All I could do was my best at escaping its clutches and not fall for the numerous ways that they would come to me. Was I terrified? Extremely, because every time was the matter of life and death. Was I strong enough?
Sometimes I dreamt normally, like any other human. Little did anyone know that before I was turned into a Guardian I already had run-ins with these creatures of the night. Those attacks started when I was a teenager and entirely human. No one knew, not even Haymen, and I would keep that information hidden. The attacks increased when I reached adulthood but I was able to better identify it, prepare myself for the lethargic effect it would play on my body. It increased and it got worse. But I was able to handle it somehow until Haymen turned me and forced the contract upon me. Death would have been my better option. Now being a Guardian, I was the very host that those entities savagely struck and now I had to find a new way to handle it and disperse their interest in me.
Just like now, I was dreaming, rather standard and easy sleeping. But then there was a shift, like my dream had connected into a different channel on an old tv antenna. The dream went slightly distorted, or should I say, it felt like I went distorted. Sometimes instead of a new attack, I would relive memories of the old ones.
I was already running along the dark road which surrounded me with dim houses, the light posts flickered off as I ran past each of them. The man or creature behind me was laughing as he chased me with a slight limp that did nothing to affect his speed. I was no longer the sixteen-year-old girl who had first lived this but tears still welled in my eyes as I panicked. I could not fight them. I knew I couldn’t. I could not change into my demon forms and I knew that to linger, to try and oppose the entity of whomever it was, would only allow it to get closer to me.
I ran faster; my lungs heaving and shards spreading up from the chill in the air. My breath began to lock from exhaustion as I felt him getting closer and the odd niggle on my back, a brush with coldness that I feared was him catching up and his fingers reaching for me. I could not let him touch me! He would possess and take hold of my body. He would kill me from the inside and I feared not to face death but the uncertainty of what kind of afterlife or darkness it would spiral me into. These creatures were unholy and the touch of demonic spirit that not even I wanted to confront in the light of day.
I noticed an old warehouse which splayed lights on and ran for it. I knew I shouldn’t have. But it seemed like every other option around me had disappeared. He was leading me into there.
The bright lights of the warehouse which catered for a retail store speckled my sight for a second. I panted for only a moment before dashing between the shelving, forklifts, and jumping over crates. I looked behind me but couldn’t see him. My shoulder smashed into the corner of one of the crates throwing me off balance. I caught myself and instinctually clutched for my shoulder heaving. The hair on my arms rose as I circled around in the small shelving I was at. My breath was heavy and I willed it to stop. Please. He will hear me. A tear slid down my face. This was my sixteen-year-old self reliving the moment. Ready to wake and cry to my mother about a force against me that I could not explain. I knew what was to come but I still tried to change the fate of it. It didn’t make it any less terrifying.
I turned to run into the other direction when a splash of cold water hit me. It felt like shards over my already too cold body and I screamed from the pain. The chuckle from the chucky doll ran up my leg and across my shoulder with an open wire. I didn’t have time to react but only to scream. As soon as the wire touched my entire body I convulsed and hit the floor with the current of electricity that my body could never handle…
My body was convulsing as I woke despite the sleep paralysis I woke up with every time I had one of ‘those’ dreams. Tears slid down my eyes as I felt like I was that sixteen-year-old girl once again. I knew what would happen. It was the same as last time. Eventually, the convulsing stopped and I could move. Slowly but surely, I sat up to sit in my King-sized bed, the silky light blanket dropping to the floor with my movement. I wiped away the drool from my mouth and wrapped my arms around my legs. I sat in the dark unable to identify anything in my room. Luke had left hours before and I made certain of that. I never slept with another in the room. It was a vulnerability and a risk I wasn’t willing to take. No one else could know about the night terrors that haunted us.
I sighed heavily trying to balance my breathing. So much has changed since I first had that dream at sixteen. Now twenty-four, I no longer had my mother to cry to. She died when I was seventeen. She didn’t understand, didn’t want to. Saying that it was just a nightmare. But at least I had that companionship and someone to talk to instead of others who would say I was going crazy. In a twisted way I wondered if it was the reason why I was handpicked by Haymen to become a Guardian. Not that he ever said anything from that day and I couldn’t remember how I was turned. I just remember that it was against my will. I never dared ask the others if they had the same experiences in their human life too.
I touched the large silken marble on my bedside table that summoned Doc. I had to report this to the Shadow Mind Journals. The only thing I would keep to secrecy was that I was reliving the nightmare, I had to tell Doc that it was all anew. The Shadow Mind Journals was the recording and deciphering of those who reached out to us in our dreams. It was in hope that we could identify the entity and it could be tracked so then we could hunt them during the day. There were many secrets of the Guardians but no outsiders knew that this was our true purpose. To find those who Haymen considered his greatest threat, or so I presumed. I couldn’t imagine anyone going to all this trouble to find one species of demon unless threatened by it in some way.
I walked up the hallway from my bedroom and placed my hand on the marble panel of the door. It instantly slid open. The white room was bright in comparison to the darkness of the hall I had just walked through. It was the sector within our home that Doctor Tellith would appear at as soon as we summoned her. She was a witch that worked for Haymen and kept track of our stability and the physical toll that the dreams were taking on us. Not out of concern but as to whether we were close to being compromised. We were simply property in Haymen’s eyes and that thought was extended to those who worked for him. The attacks drained us physically more than any of us would admit and that was because while we were running and fighting for survival the entities were sucking the life out of us, hoping to drain us completely so they could take our bodies upon the next attack. It was still questionable as to whether the soul was sucked out and eaten or if the person remained and screamed beside their laughing possessor. It wasn’t something I was ready to find out.
“Those leaves fall into your hair, Doc?” I asked her as I looked at the colored feathers threaded through her black tangible hair. She arched an eyebrow not raising those wooden brown eyes from her task at hand. The room was surrounded by few white benches and she ushered me to sit back into the white leather chair.
“Were your poor manners a result of being dropped as an infant?” She asked as she pressed the needle into the vein of my arm. I smiled at her and her own were filled with the same lack of delight. My dark mahogany, almost black blood threaded through the tube, reminding me that I was far from human.
“I don’t know why we have to do blood tests each time,” I said in agitation. Despite my warrior like attitude, from human life to now, I still did not like needles.
“I told you last time. I will take a sample out each time to see if there’s any variance and besides, I need more from you than the others. We still haven’t identified the heritage of four of the demons who you’re contracted with,” she said.
“I didn’t contract them,” I said laying my head back and looking up to the bright light. “They came to me and for whatever reason that might’ve been they just have no appetite to appear in front of me yet.”
“But unlike the others you seem to be hazy on those who accepted and contracted with?” She said now taking the needle out. It was true. After the initial contract with Haymen, I was faced with demons who encouraged my growth and would aid me in my task as a Guardian. They were demons who had already died in their lifetime and were willing to resurface when I needed their strength. And yet unlike the others, I completely blacked out and awoke in this very house with tattoo markings that stretched out further than most.
“Oh, come on. It’s kind of like a surprise every time I turn, what’s in the box?!” I joked with her. She shook her head and as usual did not find it funny.
“You’re lucky so far that in most situations you have the descendant of a demon who can challenge the ones you are hunting. But I fear without this data one day you might be caught off guard and you might be seriously injured.” She labelled the clear bag which held my thick substance of blood and scribbled down in her diary a language which I couldn’t identify. Witch scribblings. The black ink shortly went invisible and I imagined only eligible for her eyes.
“I don’t fear fighting in the real world, Doc,” I said with much purpose. “It’s the demons when I sleep that will end me.” She looked up from her notepad with a grim expression and that was fact. That’s how more than seventy percent of our kind had died to date. And Tellith had been around for many years opposed to what her naturally youthful skin looked like.
“It’s necessary so we can find them. These entities are what truly challenge the treaty. On top of that, they are an immediate threat to Haymen and his empire. That is why you are contracted.” I knew not to argue with her or tell her how I truly felt about that statement. It wasn’t disclosed to us why they were such a threat to Haymen, but what I couldn’t voice to people was that contract to him wasn’t signed willingly by myself. All those that worked for Haymen would never speak ill of him. To do so would be death.
She brushed away my hair and I presented the back of my neck all too used to the process now. “I heard you had a pretty little angel at your hip last night,” she mused as if trying to distract me. How things circulated quickly around here. Then again, the entire house was monitored.
“And most of the morning,” I added. “Four hours to be exact until I kicked him out because I heard Destiny coming back. To say the least I think she is burning the couch.”
She smiled with little humor and raised the small metallic chip which had four sharp prongs on it. She pressed my head down and injected it into the back of my neck.
“Shadow Mind Journal activated,” the room sounded in a woman’s robotic like tone. I closed my eyes not wanting to relive the experience of my dream. But that would be to feign ignorance and weakness. I looked up to the ceiling again where now the room had dimmed and my nightmare was displayed on a projector. Tellith was the first inspector as she watched and studied it, as she always had done. As she did, she monitored the small screen beside her which read information about my body’s reaction during that time. I watched on as I ran through streets, the experience threatening to make me want to coil up again. But to do so would be to show weakness. Especially in front of a witch employed to Haymen.
And so, we watched on until the last moment of my convulsing and then the image distorted and sharply cut out.
“This one seemed different. You didn’t look back or try to confront the attacker. You lacked in trying to identify them or the location,” Tellith said scribbling in her book with ink that would soon disappear. “Your brain waves are also overlapping like a few of your previous collections. I will ask you again, Vi, is this a memory, have you dreamt this before?”
“Not that I know of,” I said and held her gaze. Tellith had her suspicions of that I was certain. She eyed me and ripped the reader out without warning. I rubbed my hand against the back of my neck, trying to remove the itch that remained. She pressed a small cloth there to wipe away the blood that would’ve already begun to clot and heal. “I’m sorry, I figured it was too dark to see him, which is why I was looking for better lighting in the warehouse.” I lied.
Her face was expressionless as she continued writing. Doc was the first to examine it. I wasn’t sure what happened to the journals afterwards and if there was another program or team on it afterwards. I suspected there was more to the story of the Shadow Mind Journals and our purpose but I learned long ago to not press for answers. There were always consequences. Especially when that demon I had in mind was Haymen.
“If you recall anything else or would like to enter new data please let me know. Until then, you are dismissed Vi,” she said widening her hand out towards the door.
“Hey Doc, we haven’t seen Alexa for a while,” I said thinking of the fourth in our team. The fifth was killed weeks ago and a new member would be deployed to us in coming weeks.
“She is with me for the time being,” Tellith said. “It shouldn’t be too long before she comes back.” Doreen, the prior Guardian that we hadn’t seen for weeks had spent one of her final weeks with Tellith. She didn’t disclose much to us but told us she had a close call. Tellith made her physically stable and healthy but we knew Doreen hadn’t been the same since. One week later she went missing. No body to remain, only the knowledge that she had been possessed and a message painted in her own blood on the walls in a language far older than any of my ancestral demons could read. Only Haymen who immediately ported in seemed to know what it read. He simply told us to clean it off the walls and repaint over it for the next Guardian who came.
Knowing that our discussion was over I nodded goodbye and left the room. I took a moment to catch my breath on the other side of the door. I rolled my shoulders and cracked my neck. I embraced the demon blood within me, taking a deep breath and feeling comforted by the power that radiated within me and of the knowledge those demons brought me. This was now the real world and day. I could protect myself and kill as I pleased.
About the Author
Kia Carrington-Russell grew up in the Darling Downs Region in Queensland, Australia. Graduating High School, she pursued a career in freelance journalism. In 2014, having always had a passion for writing fiction, she decided to follow her dream of becoming an accomplished author.
During the weekdays Kia works at her Monday to Friday job in Logistics and Transport. She leaves her book worlds to the night and weekends, being well described as a driven young woman.
Now living in Brisbane, Australia, Kia has a can do attitude, a strong will and the touch of kindness that makes it hard not to fall in love with her. Announced ‘The Best New Author of 2015’ by AusRomToday, she has no intentions of stopping. Kia Carrington-Russell is definitely the new author to be looking out for.
Learn more about Kia at www.kiacarrington-russell.com/ and follow @kia_crystal on Instagram.
A grim, sword & sorcery tale with monsters, magic, religion, and war.
This is how the world ends:
The innocent kill. Those killers lead. That is the nature of war, which ravages the province of Evigönda.
For a breath, there is peace, but the gods’ demands pull at thestrings. Amos is a mystic who guards Bo, a seer who sacrificed herphysical sight to see spirits. Together, they must use her judgment toharvest souls for the Reaping, a sacred mission and necessary evil tomaintain the safety of their homeland.
Every move they make throws the world into further chaos, and when a scarred veteran makes it his mission to stop the Reaping so he can save his own struggling nation, the body count rises.
Shady allies and passionate enemies challenge the morals of piety and righteousness in this gripping fantasy tale.
Unlike fantasy epics that bring all new races such as orcs, elves, and dwarves in the style of Tolkien, or Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, The Reaping is dark fantasy that brings as much diversity from its all-human cast. From the Ashborn–the technologically-savvy steampunk mountain rangers of Borensati–to the Templars, disciplined, systematic warrior women who harvest the powers of the Sun and the earth to turn their weapons into medieval lightsabers, the cast of The Reaping pulls readers into a warbound, thought-provoking fantasy adventure.
“Don’t open your eyes,” Harken coughed. “Play dead. Lie there. Please.”
Lancaster couldn’t obey. He opened his eyes and stared as Harken struggled to his feet. He barely recognized his brother: blood poured from his shoulder, where a large bolt had found its mark. A blow Harken had taken to the face left him with a shattered cheek, and blood matted his hair. Stumbling, Harken sank to his knees next to Lancaster.
Lancaster tried to hide, but his own injuries restricted him. His left arm was bent in a way it shouldn’t be. His shattered knee throbbed, and blood trickled from his numb right wrist. He couldn’t move at all, especially when Harken heaved the corpse of their fallen fellow Nazarian onto him.
Footfalls approached, and as shadows flickered, Harken reached for his broken lance. He propped himself up on it and peered into the faces of the approaching figures.
“Commander, another survivor. This one has enough strength to stand,” a Seladorian woman announced, sword drawn. She pointed her blade at Harken’s throat.
Harken didn’t budge.
Another woman approached. Blood leaked down into Lancaster’s eyes, but he could see her legs. Padded black cloth covered her lower body—a far cry from the heavy metal armor most Seladorian warriors wore.
“You…” Harken started. “You’re not with the Templars. You must be the Hand.”
“That is correct, young man. While the Templars meet danger where danger presents itself, the Sisters of the Hand strike danger where it is vulnerable, and I—the Hand of the Goddess—have found the weakest link in Nazarelle’s armor.” Her voice was honeyed, not the tone one would expect from a vicious killer.
Harken coughed, blood seeping from his mouth. “Ambush from the mountains… smart.”
“If you knew anything of battlefield tactics, you would have seen this coming,” the Hand retorted.
Harken shook his head. “I’m just a soldier with a team of trainees. We weren’t meant for this. We shouldn’t die like this.”
“So it is mercy you want?” The Hand circled Harken for a moment, prodding the body that covered Lancaster with her foot.
Lancaster held his breath, eyes squeezed shut as his heart raced.
“I never asked for this. We’re just conscripts,” Harken pleaded.
“And yet… this is a battle your king chose. Your army attacked ours, and because of this, two thousand of my sisters have fallen in the past centenox. I would spare you no mercy, nor would I spare you any pity, because they all would still live”—the Hand grabbed Harken by his throat—“if not for the greed of your king.”
Harken dropped the lance as he pulled against her tight grip, but his wounds were too great. He didn’t have the strength to break free.
Eyes still closed, Lancaster listened to his brother die. As his body hit the ground with a loud thud, the door opened.
About the Author
Dexter Morgenstern is a Southern-born Seattle author and model. Homeschooled after a diagnosis of mild Asperger’s, he learned to play to his strengths as an energetic, creative artist. He began writing at the age of fifteen, and published his first novel two years later. Outside of art, Dexter spends his time gaming, studying, and socializing with other ambitious minds. As an army brat, he attained a pragmatic sense of discipline that he uses to balance his artistic endeavors with his academic ones. Dexter’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the subjugation of humanity by artificial intelligence.
Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Publication Date: December 8, 2017
Vincent must find the Spitting Post, but only the purple swan knows the way.
Vincent Carpenter’s life is a wreck. He has given up his dreams. He has lost his job after an economic disaster. His ten-year marriage is crumbling. Then he awakens in a maniacal land of frighteningly vivid realism with skull trees, glowing forests, ravenous beasts, and other psychologically haunting adversity.
While traveling through this demented unearthly world, he has a chance encounter with a beautiful maiden dressed in green; before he can start a conversation, she disappears into the unknown. Vincent must try to find her at a fantastical place known as the Spitting Post. But first he must overcome many macabre misfortunes and face nightmares that question his sanity. Will he reach her? What will the Spitting Post reveal? Will he suffer more disappointment and tragedy? Or will he find peace at last?
Vincent Carpenter isn’t having a good day. It’s the weekend and he forgot to turn off his alarm. When he rolls out of bed, he’s surprised to see that his wife, Erika, isn’t there. When he does find her, he mentions the dinner reservations he’d made for their tenth anniversary but she doesn’t want to go. What follows is a slow trip down a rabbit hole to the land of the mundane.
Until it isn’t.
Suddenly, he awakens in a strange world where nothing is normal. From the glowing forests to the skull trees, Vincent is lost in a world that would rival the minds of some modern masters of the macabre. A chance meeting with the Green Maiden forces Vincent through this nightmare world in search of a place called the Spitting Post but to get there, he must face some intense nightmares that could destroy even the strongest of psyches.
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this story and I found it as intriguing as it was disturbing and that’s a good thing. With each new ordeal/event, Vincent finds himself more immersed in his nightmares, and we as readers, gain a bit more information. So much so that once you reach the end (Spoilers!), you’ll find yourself going back to reread sections again.
For when you do: “You must rethink everything you thought you knew. You must let your mind go back to the beginning and reconsider what it is you thought was truth, what you thought was reality, and what you thought was a dream,” and even then, THE SPITTING POST will surprise you.
When night settled in, the trees began their song of despair and completely blocked out any other noise. This is great, I thought. The beast could be right on me, and I would never even hear it. But the trees continued their sad symphony just the same.
With the thought of the beast ripping at my body and consuming my insides and the tree’s wailing, I found myself at the edge of lunacy. When dawn finally broke, the trees stopped their wailing, and the silence became deafening yet again. At last, peace and quiet. I picked myself up from the madness and marched onward. I was not a bit hungry, and my stomach was far too nervous for breakfast, so I went without. I also knew this would save time. One extra moment in this place was one too many.
Again I found my thoughts racing as fast as my feet. It would be a complete triumph when I escaped this land, or so I thought. If only I could make it to the bridge, then maybe I would be safe. As I raced on like a frightened animal about to become the beast’s dinner, I thought about the townspeople. I hoped they were safe in their new home far from here; I felt empathy for them knowing what fear the beast inspired.
I was lost in thought when again I heard the violin’s call. It was close this time—too close. I stopped and surveyed the land with terrified eyes, growing more anxious with each passing note. The ambient tune working itself into a manic frenzy. Can’t they shut up? With that racket the beast would find us, and I knew what would happen when it did. There would be no more violin playing for that musician, and I would never find The Green Maiden.
I scanned the countryside for the insane violinist and spotted him on a small hill just to my right. When I saw his ghastly appearance, I almost wished I hadn’t found him. He was a stout man dressed in total blackness with a red violin resting against his shoulder. His skin was a brilliant white, as white as a bed sheet. On his head was a black top hat, and he wore a twisted grin on his porcelain face.
“What are you doing?” I yelled. “It will hear us!”
The man said nothing and kept playing his maddening melody.
“Are you crazy?”
The man opened his mouth wide and without moving his lips, he said, “Precisely.”
Then he began to cry tears of blood, yet still he played. The blood rolled down his face and pooled on the grass. Then I came to a grotesque realization. He was not playing for amusement; he was calling the beast.
About Jason R. Barden
Jason R. Barden began writing poetry around the age of thirteen. At age thirty three he decided to transition into fiction writing with his first novel The Spitting Post. In addition to writing he enjoys hiking and photography. Jason lives in Fort Worth, Texas where he is currently working on a collection of his poems.