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Hello everyone. I just created the official mailing list for Winter’s Bite, and the rest of the books in the Child of Lies series. This list will be used to keep you informed of updates, subscriber freebies, and exclusive content that will only be found on the blog site. Thank you for your interest, and I wish you an enlightened day!
Robert V Adkisson

Excerpt from Winter’s Bite: Chapter 28

A loud growl awoke her from her sleep and she jumped up to find out what had caused the commotion. Her cloak lay on the ground at the door of the tent and she pranced off to scout her campsite. As she was skipping along, she found a brilliant blue flower reaching up from the snow. “Spring must be nearly here,” she heard a deep voice say. She turned and found the source of the words and stared as a boulder nearby, a mouth high up near the top, continued. “I can’t wait to go dancing again! I dance, and I dance! And I dance, dance, dance!” Braelyn walked around to the other side of the boulder and screamed when she saw her sister’s broken legs protruding from underneath the boulder.

She sat up in her tent. It had just been a dream; a horrible, horrible nightmare. But it had seemed so real, she thought. “I thought I had woken up,” she whispered.

With a hiss for warning, a beast resembling a heavily muscled cougar leapt from the branch of a nearby tree and slashed through the canvas as if it were thin paper. The lypern lunged at the cloak on the floor and grasped it with its teeth, shaking it and using its claws to tear it into shreds as a stunned Braelyn could only look on. Regaining her senses, she began to formulate a spell but the lypern rose up on its hind legs, brought back a claw, and swiped through Braelyn’s face. Blood splattered all over the surface of the canvas and the dying girl could only watch the designs of her blood on the walls as the lypern pranced away.

She heard a deep giggling, and felt the ground shake a few times as she could only imaging the boulder dancing. The patterns of blood began to take shape. It started as a series of veins pumping blood through the tent and then they modified themselves into a specter, formed of a crimson outline. It towered over her a she lay dying, but it poked her and prodded her and enticed her to get up and fight.

When she realized that she would be unable to ignore it, and she wasn’t dying fast enough to escape its torments, she rose to her feet. The specter picked up a pile of tattered rags and dumped them on Braelyn’s head. Using the last bit of her strength, she cast a spell that would end her own life. The winds outside blew the tent hard, and the temperature must have dipped another ten degrees. The spell, however, did not have the effect she was looking for. The specter seemed to vibrate and with a loud shriek one vein unwrapped itself from the specter’s form and was summoned to the tattered cloak, which drank it greedily. More veins followed until the specter was no more and the dead girl’s body lay there under an unscathed cloak.

With a loud scream, Braelyn woke up from this final dream within a dream. She was not dead, but this time she was fully awake. She looked outside and found it was light, and probably had been for a good two hours. Looking frantically for her cloak, she found that she still wore it, it was not gorged with her blood, nor was it in tatters. Her face still ached, but feeling it she found there was no wound. It took her several minutes to compose herself, but once she was certain that no oddities would follow, she began to pack up her belongings. Taking down the tent and rolling the parts into her pack did not take long, and soon she was ready to continue on her way. As she headed off in the direction the map was leading her, she munched on some bread and cheese to break her fast and nourish her body.

Excerpt from Winter’s Bite: Chapter 18

Braelyn sat nervously on the rug in the center of the study. Pioran had taken each streamer of the rug and placed it on part of her body. The two behind her were draped over her shoulders. The two in front of her placed in her lap, on her knees. One on each side was held in each hand, closed in loose fists at her sides, while the two remaining pointed out and ahead.

“Close your eyes, Braelyn,” came his instruction. “Take a deep breath and empty your mind of thoughts. If you begin to think of something, squeeze your hands and let the the thought pass. I’m going to say a series of words, and I’m sure they will evoke images to your mind. But I want you to force them away.”

Braelyn closed her eyes and nodded her head. She sat there a moment, and then began to breathe deep and slow. She forced all thoughts from her mind, and used Pioran’s technique to rid herself of new thoughts that crept in. But why was he having her do this, she wondered, then squeezed her hand to send the thought away.

“Water,” called Pioran softly.

Images of rain filled her head and she squeezed her hands to make it go away. It lingered, though, and changed to a splashing sound on the floor to her left. She inhaled quickly, then forced herself to breathe again and release the thought.

“Muffins.”

Reflexively, the young girl inhaled deeply, remembering her mother’s banana muffins, warm out of the oven. Gosh, she missed them. Did she have banana muffins here? She squeezed her hands and the images faded away.

“Boulder,” was the next word.

Damn you! Tears welled up within her and she tried to force the memories away. Mavleen’s legs could be seen from under the giant stone. She gripped the streamers tighter, willing the images away. The pool of crimson turned to rivers as her sister’s lifeblood sought a softer earth to seep into. Shaking, but knowing she had to force the thoughts away, she squeezed the streamers so tightly that her fingernails dug into her hands. She didn’t feel the pain. It couldn’t be as painful as being crushed with the boulder. I wonder if she died right away or if she suffered.

A rune lit up on the rug. Pioran jumped out of his chair and leapt for the rug. On his hands and knees, his face inches from the glowing rune, he watched another light up.

The ground shook beneath them and Braelyn called out. “Mavleen, stop! Come back here!” But her sister turned and glared at her. No! Thundering down the steep hillside she saw it falling and then heard the thud and the crunch of bones. Blood soaked both of her hands as her fingernails pierced the flesh of her palms. The white streamers had turned red with blood, and the other six streamers, in their lust for blood, found their way into her hands as Pioran watched, enthralled. Drinking deeply of her blood, each of the streamers in turn became red and all of the runes had begun to glow. Brighter and brighter they glowed until they had become blinding.

And then they went dim. Finally she had forced the image from her mind. She was soaked with sweat.

Pioran shook his head slowly and said softly “Class dismissed.” He remained on his knees for several moments and did not notice her stand up and leave the room. What had he just seen? He had no explanation for what just happened and knew he had much research to do before they continued. He slowly stood up and composed himself, then left the room himself, locking the door behind him as he went.