I know, not much of an update. Mainly because as I've said, getting back into the habit of writing is much more difficult than falling out. I did realize that I've only taken 10 days off so far, which isn't a lot. Also, I got a full 1000 words in yesterday, despite working which is awesome. In fact, Kitsune-Ken book 2 is already over 40,000 words, so I don't think I need to get too down on myself.
In fact, I think I'll get back into it and leave you with a little bit that I wrote. As usual, its a mostly unedited bit this one from book 2. Which reminds me... I was thinking of starting a monthly newsletter where I can keep you all updated on my schedules, when my novels will be out and share short stories or chapters with you in. What do you think? Would you be interested? What else would you like to see in a newsletter?
Jocelyn smiled at the children as they rushed back to their homes inside the city. They grinned and waved back to the dancers, but behind them, he could see their parents. They glared at the troupe as though they had tried to kidnap the children, rather than entertain them.
It was the same in every village they stopped in. The people liked to shop the small amount of goods they carried from town to town, they liked the dancing and entertainment their group put out. The problem came afterwards. There was no trust sent their way afterwards.
He may have never bought into the belief that all of them were thieves and sorcerers, but it was obvious that all too many did. Surviving beyond the walls wasn't as difficult as people who lived in towns thought. In the month that he'd been on the road, they hadn't even been attacked. Monsters had some intelligence obviously. Why attack a group of obviously skilled and armed humans when you were bound to lose?
He turned back to the carts, glad that the day was over. When they were near a town, everybody had to work. With his skill at healing, he sold 'cures' to the people. Nothing that would hurt them, but more alcohol than herbs generally. Jocelyn had added actual tinctures and creams to the business, so that some of their cures would actually work, making it less of a snake oil proposition to sell.
He turned and saw that not all of the villagers had returned home yet. Two young women were still talking to Lady Marda. He wasn't close enough to hear the conversation, but he did see the girls leaning forward, their eyes wide while she spoke. They finally looked at each other, a knowing look and each glanced around before taking a bracelet off their hands and passing them over.
Though Marda took these with the proper amount of solemnity, they were almost certainly not worth much. Most likely, they would be cleaned up and then sold a few cities away for a pittance.
He smiled and nodded at the girls as they walked past him. The taller girl, a rare beauty with dark hair and a naturally dour expression flushed and then turned away, rushing her steps. Jocelyn fell back a step. It had been like the first time he'd ever seen Kuzunoha.
Like then, he wanted to help her, to make her smile. He could have slapped himself. Kuzunoha had cheated on him and broke his heart. The last thing he needed was to be thinking about her. He felt a hand touch his shoulder he turned, his teeth bared in a smile.
"You ain't 'ngry t'at herr." Lady Marda said, her accent as thick as ever.
He nearly snapped at her; almost lost it. He was very proud of the fact that his voice was only tight.
"You are correct, Lady Marda."
"So? Wat's 'ou 'ngry 'bout? Who'd you left behin' to burn like 'dis?"
"Everybody." He whispered. Then he glared at her. "Shouldn't you know already?"
Fairy tales told in her cards. He didn't believe in cards that told the future. Maybe a god's oracle could, but not a woman with a pack of painted paperboard. He expected her to get angry at him. Instead, she barked out a laugh, as grating as the rest of her.
"Wha didn' you chus say you wanted a reading, boi? I could see my way to dat."
"I don't want a reading." He ground out.
How did you tell someone you were making fun of them and not sound like a dick? The answer was despairingly simple. You didn't. He stayed quiet, watching her face go from smug to a little bit sad.
"Ya. You sad you ain't going to see dem again. Twon' ease you heart to know, but you ain't gots to worry 'bout dat."
"Yeah, you said I need to worry about killing people and mourning a monster."
"It was true." She told him. Statement of fact, not the defensive whine it should have been. "You gonna find dem freends and den, one of 'ems gots to die. You'll mourn and you'll kill the one dat do it. I ain't gots to pick up a card to tell me you future. It written in every line o' muscle."
"If I believed you, I'll be more worried." he told her.
She shook her head. "Jocelyn, you be 'ngry, so 'ngry. It burn de air 'roun you and make a corona 'a hate. You gonna destroy youself dis way. I worry you gonna take that gurl over de edge wit you."She turned to Salla, putting away her swords. She didn't sell anything. She was there to make sure that nothing was stolen that wasn't supposed to be. A guard on their side.
Jocelyn was struck silent for a moment. "I would never do anything to hurt Salla."
Marda raised an eyebrow. "You don get to decide. You a'ready made da choice.... you chus don know it yat."
"How would you know?" He hissed.
She looked confused. "You don believe dem gods dat gave you your powah would let you be free, do you?"
His eyes widened. She waved him off as if she could read his mind.
"I ain't gonna tell. T'ain't my secrat. But da gods... de harsh mastahs when you don listin. You gotta know who dey is to know what dey want."
Salla's voice interrupted them. "Jocelyn, Lady Marda? Are the rest of the townies gone? We could use your help in the camp. In particular, Clive will need your help tonight Jocelyn. A lot of those townies brought their stuff in for us to fix."
Jocelyn nodded and turned away. "Good evening, Miss Marda."
He didn't wait for a response. Instead he moved off towards the smithy. Talking with Marda always made him want to hit something. His vision blurred and he saw the snake-like dragons again. No god he knew had a symbol like that. But if Marda was right... then he was on the right track. He'd find out what this god wanted of him, then he'd do it and demand that the powers be taken away.
He would finally have the life he craved. With a nod to Clive, he put on the thick apron and gloves eagerly, picking up the pincher from the fire where Clive had set a bit of iron for him to heat.
He put it on his anvil and paused hearing the sound of a bell. He tapped Clive and both heard the call over the dying sound of Clive's hammering. They paused. Two bells meant strangers, but this late on the road, who could be coming up? Even the townspeople had returned home already. They paled as the bell rang a third time.
"Mongrels." Clive swore.
Jocelyn was already turning, a gutteral barking, like sick foxes, behind them. Coming towards him and Clive were four creatures, a little bigger than a child of ten, with brown mottled skin, big ears and teeth dyed orange with old blood. Their clothes looked like they had pulled them out a human garbage, stained and ripped in places, none of it matching.
Jocelyn's hand reached down for his blade and found nothing. He must have forgotten to put it on. He swore and chose the hammer as a better weapon than the hot tongs. Clive had a curved sword in his hand, though Jocelyn hadn't seen him draw it.
The creatures howled, realizing they'd been spotted.
With a sinking feeling, Jocelyn tried to grip the hammer tight in his hand. As the first creature neared, he swung at it. The creature didn't even stop and he realized that he'd swung before the thing was close enough to hit. He cursed, trying to bring the hammer back around. It was so heavy it was hard to control but he managed to get a glancing hit in on the next one. The thing shrieked and jumped back grabbing its ear and crying out its pain at a level that hurt Jocelyn's ears. Still, so long as it was screaming, it wasn't fighting. It meant he only had to deal with the one creature.
He turned trying to see the other one and felt it's claws run over his back. He hissed feeling the cloth rip and dig into his flesh. Dragons flew before his eyes and he could feel the cuts on his back burn slightly, healing him. He pulled back on the power before it healed him completely. If he healed it completely there would be questions.
He snarled at the stinging pain and hit the monster in the cheek with his hammer.
The creature's skull didn't crack. Instead, it dented the things head in, but didn't seem to damage it. The thing hissed at him and bit at him, catching his hand in its mouth. Jocelyn could feel the sharp teeth chomping at his hand, but fortunately, the thick leather gloves he was wearing stopped the teeth from digging into his flesh.
He pulled his knife and stabbed it into the back of the creatures skull. Where the hammer hadn't done much more than frustrate the monster, the knife slid into its head with ease, parting its skull like it was some sort of jelly.
He pried the teeth away from his wrist, seeing that the teeth had almost made it though the leather. He dropped the hammer and swallowed back the bile filling his throat. It was acidic, tasting like the cheese from his sandwich at lunch. He took a deep breath and spun towards the sound of distorted barking behind him, just in time to see Clive slice the last thing's head off.
Sickeningly, Jocelyn could see its bones deforming, almost as if they were melting. He turned away, throwing up. He shivered and heard the bell ringing in another pattern. He couldn't concentrate on the pattern though. Were there more of the things coming for them?
Clive's heavy hand on his back helped. "It's alright man, we repelled the attack. Finish throwing up. The first time is always the most difficult."
He shook his head and swallowed. Clive passed him a cup of water. Jocelyn took it gratefully.
"Thank you." he said after a sip. "I was fine until I saw..."
He gestured towards the creature and Clive nodded.
"The mongrels do that whenever they're hit. They form back up solid soon after, but it makes them almost impossible to kill with a hammer."
Jocelyn shook his head. "I meant the... melting."
Clive's response was casual. "Yeah, most monsters leave behind actual bodies. Mongrels just melt away though, leaving nothing but the junk they were carrying, pitted and scarred to hell. Why'd you use the hammer anyway?"
"I don't have my sword on me."
"That's a stupid thing to do on the road, even if an attack is rare. Where's your sword?"
Had it been in his room? He remembered taking it off the night before. Jocelyn shook his head.
"I can't remember right now..."
"Grab it before dinner, if you don't want Marcus and the others ribbing you all week. You head to the centre and make sure nobody needs to be stitched up. I'll take care of the bodies over here. Tell Marcus you left your sword here if he asks, in the creature you killed. You'll still get ribbed, but it'll be less than it would if he knew you'd forgotten it completely."
Jocelyn nodded. His heartbeat was slowing finally, but his stomach was still roiling. "You'll be alright?"
He had work to do and he could process what had just happened when people weren't injured.
"Hey, you got hurt? You okay?"
Jocelyn glanced at Clive. The man was staring at his back. Jocelyn stretched out his shoulders, trying to make the move look casual.
"I hardly even feel it. I'll ask Marda to take a look if its still hurting later though."
Clive nodded and Jocelyn headed towards the centre area, stopping only long enough to grab his healing kit.