Word of the week: quash \ˈkwäsh, ˈkwȯsh\ – transitive verb – (hear it!) – to suppress or extinguish summarily and completely – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Refusal and Bedlam, Capture and Threat
Rhythmic pounding, like a massive fist on a hollow wall. Marisa sat bolt upright—
—then gasped, gathered her covers to her breast, and scuttled backwards to press against the headboard. There, in the corner of her room and next to her single, arched window quaked her wardrobe. . . .
* * *
Hmm . . . yes, our blurb is nearly finished. Very nearly.
So how dost it fairest thus far, and all that junk? Let’s recap : A forbidden tryst exposes a threat and sets a secret plan in motion, and twenty-year-old Marisa of Mynae discovers her life is all a lie. But even as a cryptic journal reveals her true purpose and a trail of hoofprints leads her to a demon renegade, . . .
“ . . . Marisa balks at fate’s course . . .”
* * *
Fourth of four excerpts from The Perfect Player, copyright 2013 - Kimberly Grenfell, writing as Devon Winterson. (And yes, I do mean copyrighted, not some faux label to ward off plagiarists.)
Each heavy thud rocked and crackled and shuddered the unit, popped hinge pins and clattered them to the floor. Mini fissures cracked, spread across the casing and over the bulging door panels as though the enraged netherworld god of fury himself made to break free. Marisa suspected a deafening crash of outward splintering would soon follow if she sat gaping like a dull-witted reed-fish. She leapt from bed, stumbled over, and threw the latch.
One door burst open, and out spat Orenda’s journal.
The book spun in a wild, high arc to land splayed upon her mattress where its blue glow pulsated over and over and over, quickly-quickly-quickly—hum-hum-hum—as words in billowy script splattered one by one onto a blank page:
No—Marisa lunged, slammed the journal closed—I won’t leave!—then jerked her hand back with a wince, sucked on fingertips that throbbed as though bitten by tiny, piercing teeth. The book sprung open again:
Ugh!—She flung the journal toward the open window—Lamont is no ally!—then reeled back with a startled cry as the book recoiled and hurtled toward her, pages aflutter. Arms flailed, feet stumbled, and Marisa pitched, flopping backward onto her mattress. The book surged with a fierce light:
OR THEY WILL DIE
HE SEARCHES FOR YOU
—then dropped to the floor.
Ragged breaths burned her throat, and Marisa eased herself up, heart slamming. At her feet lay the journal, spread flat and stone-dead.
Her door clicked open. Several brisk claps, and Abigale bustled in.
“Come, Marisa! Hurry now before the first sun rises. It’s Coronation Day. . . .” Her voice floated, song-bright and eager. Marisa kicked the journal under her bedstead.
* * *
Ah – firm reluctance and staunch refusal, “ . . . until evil devours her people . . .” and cuts short her coronation nigh on the cusp of receiving leadership and its highborn honorific of “lady mistress of Mynae,” . . .
* * *
She bolted to her feet, whirled, and grabbed onto her father, whose face had paled at the howls that swelled like an ill siren over an escalating rumble. A splintering crunch, and the gates crashed inward, scattering the shrieking people in panic-stricken droves as a wild deluge of horned crimson-and-black spilled past the Center, channeled in, and surged toward the ceremonial meadow as one seething mass.
Bedlam crushed down.
Demons raced, lunged, and darted, this way and that and back again, grinding their screaming prey into the ground. Everywhere, claws swiped and fangs gnashed, horns impaled and jaws crunched against bone. Blood spewed, splattered the cobblestone, flecked the grasses, sprayed against the shattered basins now adorned with stained and shredded bunting. The weak were trampled while others were carried off. Rot, sweat, and the stench of death soaked the air.
Someone dragged her down from the dais, and she stumbled blindly into the wild foray, dodging through the chaos of red and black, the flung and fleeing bodies, the snarls and growls and howls of rage, snaps and shrieks and wails of despair, legs pounding-pounding-pounding as a wet, sticky warmth squished between her toes. . . .
Panicked people clambered through the open tunnel door as more crowded in behind en masse to rush those ahead. Soldiers struggled to maintain order. Demons lumbered in pursuit of the vulnerable, and Marisa gagged at the odor left in their wake. She buried her face into the folds of Father’s robes and sobbed. By the almighty, wretched and terrible Dis! Is this what she had to protect the citizens from? A ruthless force nigh on impossible to quash? Bane! Bane, bane, bane! Why didn’t she listen—why! And why didn’t she leave when Orenda’s spirit force had warned her? . . .
* * *
Aha. But no. And even worse, this force: “ . . . imperils her father’s life . . .” as he’s captured by demons . . .
* * *
Daft streaked, arrow-straight, through the grass, down the slope, and then pounced, snarling and spitting, at her father, who cried out and crashed to the ground, flailing underneath her. Marisa shrieked, and Locrian lunged, but it was too late; Daft had already dragged Donovan to the shallow valley convergence, across the stream, and into the woods, where trees and thickets had swallowed them whole.
Marisa tore after them. “Father! Father, no! No!” She skidded to a halt at the stream’s edge, clutching her throbbing head.
* * *
. . . and beaten to within an inch of his life by Throe, the two-ton demon master, as he and Marisa face off in a duel of wits over brawn . . .
* * *
“Bring me the captive!”
“Yes, master, yes!” Daft squealed. “As you wish it, yes!”
Through the horde, and around muscled legs thick with fur, Daft dragged Donovan out into the open, and hurled him to the ground before Marisa, where he thudded prostrate. He coughed, dry heaved, battered body convulsing with the painful effort. Blood splattered. He groaned, sank flat against the earth, breaths ragged. Twisted fingers furrowed the soil. One leg lay oddly askew, and mud clotted his tangled ebony hair.
Oh, Father was alive, yes. Just as she had demanded he be, in her message to the demon master. Alive, but barely. Any longer, any more physical abuse, and surely he would die. Or be shredded at the bellow of one demonic signal, so heavy was the tang of blood and torn up flesh. Unbalanced justice, and unfair penalty; a suffering far too severe for the offense, and Marisa could hardly stand to look at him. . . .
* * *
“Only then does she learn what it takes to play – and win – a deadly game of predator versus prey.”
Mwahahahahaha! Yes. And so that, my wonderfully patient readers, is how I fry up and serve that hellish “piranha-in-a-tutu,” the novel blurb. Complete, and without error:
A forbidden tryst exposes a threat and sets a secret plan in motion, and twenty-year-old Marisa of Mynae discovers her life is all a lie. But even as a cryptic journal reveals her true purpose and a trail of hoofprints leads her to a demon renegade, Marisa balks at fate’s course until evil devours her people and imperils her father’s life. Only then does she learn what it takes to play – and win – a deadly game of predator versus prey.
. . . served with parsley and butter and oh-so-tasty in preparation for the release of my dark fantasy novel, The Perfect Player, on November 11th, 2013.
All right, now, where did I leave Marisa’s evil miscreant half-brother . . . ? *muses, confused*
Oh, yes! I remember – in my next blog post.