Word of the week: cognizance - \ˈkäg-nə-zən(t)s\ - noun - (hear it!) - : knowledge or awareness of something - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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Hey, I have a few indie author shout-outs for this post:

First, on Tuesday, February 25th, indie author Lisa M. Green will release her long-anticipated novel, The First! Come, read some chapters at her website, or browse and get to know Lisa. Both hard copy and e-versions of her book will be available, and you can place your order here! (And I've already gotten my copy, (;D) as one of the privileged few who'd supported her kickstarter campaign!)

Second, on Saturday, March 1st, indie author Logan Keys will release her collection of four horror-based short stories, Unhinged, on Smashwords and Goodreads for FREE. I’ve had a sneak preview of these tales and, believe me, readers will not be disappointed.

Last, indie author Lucy Pireel has started up her own fundraising campaign for her book, "Origins Revealed - The Power of Three." Come, please consider supporting an indie author! Even small donations can go a very long way in helping an author achieve her dream. 

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Prologue to The Perfect Player

Many of you already know my dark fantasy novel has been out and about since last November, hopefully wreaking havoc of the most wonderful kind, stirring readers’ minds, winning over their hearts. Or at least making them think a little, if not cringe or emote somehow or another.

Originally my three-part, forty-nine chapter behemoth had a prologue, which I’d left off when I’d decided to publish it. Why? I dunno. Because I felt like it . . . and I heard many people skip over prologues anyway.

So, instead of taking the chance of readers snarling in frustration and throwing their e-readers out the window (which could be so hazardous, especially if it rebounds against a closed pane of glass), I’d saved out the short, two-part prologue to be randomly shared for free. It’s already connected to another short story of mine, Soulless Vessel, but I’ve decided to post it up anyway, here, now, right this very minute, kind of as a parting “Ahoy-hoy and farewell!” to my three-ton colossus as it lumbers and crashes through the world, attracting readers from every continent like an awkward, massive, hairy, statically-charged . . . er . . . gnome.

*Ahem* . . . right.

Enjoy! And if you like what you see, perhaps come take a gander at the rest of the novel. Believe me, your support truly makes a difference for indie authors.

(Note: Those of you who've read The Perfect Player will be familiar with the two characters presented, and maybe some things will come to light for you.) 

The Perfect Player - Prologue
Copyright - Kimberly Grenfell (writing as Devon Winterson), and yes, I do mean it's actually copyrighted, not just some faux label to scare off plagiarists. 

230C SIXTH 20

The demon crouched at the forest's edge, a vague cluster of shapes within the narrow valley his sole focus.

The first sun's rays crested the horizon to usher away the dim light of the two moons, transforming the shapes into a shadowy dual ring of huts where inside, the demon knew, lay his prey. He sniffed at the breeze, craving teased by the promising scent that laced the unprotected territory. Wild blood. His kin had tasted it; never him. Too young, he was told. Too weak. He wouldn't hold his ground. Because of this, he'd always been left behind to suffer the flesh of those half-dead humans held captive. The others' accounts upon their return only served to frustrate him.

But not this time. No. This time, his father had demanded he join the hunt.

“You must learn, Locrian. You must feel the rush of a violent foray, and know what it truly means to kill.”

Locrian's black fur bristled. He would soon savor fresh spoils—smell the richness of warm blood, hear the snap of bones, experience his own feral lust at its height . . . at last.

The pack began to stir. With night blindness a hindrance for them, Locrian had sensed his kin's agitation at the delay: Horned heads shook. Cloven hooves stomped. Clawed hands clenched. Muscles tightened beneath crimson skin, and guttural growls obscured the burble of streams hidden within the silvery forest's slopes. Now, the master motioned them forward, and they lumbered into the clearing. Hulking shadows spread across the lavender grasses as they closed in around the village's outer rim. Again, the demons rested upon their haunches. Locrian settled in beside the master, who leaned close.

“Don't feel,” he growled in their tongue, “and don't reason. Just strike. These wild creatures sense nothing. Unlike us”—he narrowed his emerald eyes—“they don't have souls.”

Souls. Locrian shuddered. It would be like killing one of their own.

The second sun rose. Light swelled and Locrian's vision sharpened—crisp, clear, perfect—while tension rippled through the pack. Several demons stepped forward with expectant glances at their master, whose raised hackles and bared fangs stayed them. They tucked their thin, tufted tails to their undersides and waited. Soon, footfalls whispered through the grass ahead. Locrian straightened with the others to peer into the village, head rising above the thatched roof line.

In the quiet of the dawn, a solitary human sauntered with arms stretched wide toward a stream-fed pool at the village's center. Its hum floated and a smile played upon its lips. The human knelt at the pool's stony edge, dipped in a cupped hand, and drew some of the thick, opaline liquid to its mouth. It sipped long and slow, lazy droplets seeping between its wet fingers. It sought several more draughts. Once sated, it sat upon folded legs, head tilted back and shoulders rounded, its face a reflection of contentment.

Locrian's slit-pupils widened. Prey. So near, so fresh, so unsuspecting. An eager rumble rose up from his chest.

The human stiffened, lifted its head . . . and spied the surrounding pack. With a terrified cry, it leapt up to flee, but the master's bellow had already shattered the valley's hush. The demons sprung into the village.

Locrian staggered back, stunned by the sudden chaos—roars echoed over the pounding of hooves while claws tore into huts; planks cracked, crunched, splintered, their shards clattering to the ground. Horns pierced. Heads flung writhing bodies. Blood sprayed and human shrieks soon ripped through the air. Locrian swiveled his head, gaze darting. Where did he start? How did he join in? What should he do? Everything had happened so fast, he'd not had time to—


He lurched, knocked into the rampage. A frenzy of humans and kin crushed down. Screaming creatures scattered everywhere.

Scrabbling up, Locrian shook the tuft of fur from his eyes and crouched, clawed hands thrust out. He pivoted right and left, then whirled around. He lunged, missed and lunged again, mouth filling with sod as he struck the earth. Then he spat, spun about, and sprung toward a body lying several paces away. His jaws snapped into empty air—Snatched!—and he flinched back from the demon who'd stolen the kill.

“Move on, Callow-back,” the demon snarled. “Find your own flesh.” Locrian scrambled away. Fresh shrieks tore through the clamor and caught his attention.

At the far end of the village, panicked humans poured into the meadows and sprinted toward the cover of the woods, pursued. Locrian bounded forth to follow . . . but slid to a halt when both prey and kin disappeared. Hackles stiff in frustration, he growled, heaved and snorted, then whipped around to face the village in shambles—

And saw it.

Hidden within the recess of three adjoining huts huddled a human half-sized to its full-grown counterparts, knees tucked and forehead set upon folded arms; a small but sufficient kill. Locrian's chest swelled with another rumble. His focus shifted, and while the foray raged on, he stalked toward the slit between the dwellings.

Each step closer sharpened his senses to his prey—quickened breaths rasped in his ears, a rapid heartbeat pounded in his head, the scent of fear lingered thick and tangy in his nostrils. Wild blood. So near, so fresh, so unsuspecting. A shiver rippled down his spine. He entered the slit.

An arm's length away, Locrian paused to lick back his slaver. One swipe. That's all it would take. One swipe and it would be dead. Its flesh would taste sweet, its juices intense, the forthcoming sensation pure and euphoric—and savage. Yes. Locrian's lips drew tight against his fangs. I will strike and make you proud, Father. He raised a clawed hand . . . then froze.

The human had lifted its head—to stare him down!

Snorting, Locrian stiffened back, his urge to kill seized by the roil of eerie shapes and shadows within the creature's eyes as it watched him with a keen, terror-stricken awareness. Cognizance. Perception. Sense. It knew—and it understood! Locrian gave a horrified cry. Bane of darkness! The master was dead wrong—these humans had souls!

Quickly, he snatched it up, tucked it to his body, and scuttled backward through the opening. The stench of death wrenched his insides. He retched, then grimaced at the mournful human wails and the baleful howls of his kin. Shame surged through him, face contorted with torment and confusion.

He raced away.

Up the forest slopes he ran, crashing through thickets and bounding over fallen trees, faster and faster, farther and farther, until he crested the hill and sped toward the full light of the two suns. The noise grew distant, the fetor less.

When he could no longer hear the murderous rampage, Locrian slowed beside the banks of an iridescent stream and spied a trunk hollowed with age. He buried the human deep within its protection, then stumbled back, grasping his head. No. It can't be—it can't! They aren't supposed to be aware, they aren't supposed to have souls!

But this one did. And so he fled.

Locrian raced through the wilderness, league after league, impelled by disgrace and blinded by the vain hope he could somehow escape the sensation of change stirring within and distance himself from the prior events. But he couldn't, and he collapsed, breathless in defeat, wincing at the haunting image of the human's soul burned into his mind.

Beliefs shattered, and terror seized him.

Locrian no longer knew who he was.

240C FIRST 1

The newborn's cry broke the still of the night. An excited murmur filled the township.

Those awake for the birth gathered on the grass before their leader's manor house, the Center, while others rushed to spread the word to the farthest reaches of the city walls. More arrived and the crowd grew. Through a lively babble, expectant gazes watched the Center's second-level window, whence the glorious sound had come. Assembled beneath the light of the two full moons, the people waited and wondered.

A soft wind heard the cries. It whispered toward the township, over its walls, and through the bedchamber window, where it dissipated near the new mother who rested on the bed, breaths labored and legs stretched.

“We've done it, Eden,” said her lifemate, Donovan. “We've done it.”

Eden rested one arm across her sweaty brow and grasped Donovan's hand. She closed her eyes, smiled, and nodded. The leader smoothed the covers over his lifemate's body to warm her, then gave a pleased glance at the midwife, Abigale.

“At last,” he said, “a successor to Mynae.”

Abigale dipped her hands into a nearby basin of elixir to rinse them and, in the liquid's arced glow, watched the infant severed from its mother squirm upon the foot of the mattress. Worry creased her brow.

“My child,” Eden said and propped herself onto one elbow. She beckoned with her fingers. “Swathe my child and give him to me.”

Abigale dried her hands and fetched a fresh wrap from the side table, swaddled the infant and placed it onto Eden's bosom. She stepped back with a frown.

“Donovan,” Eden whispered, drawing the newborn's cheek to her lips, “he's so beautiful.”

“Your face, my love. I see your face in his.”

A tap-tap-tap of wood against wood broke into the moment, and an old woman hobbled in. Walking stick in hand, she paused to tighten her cloak around her hunched shoulders, then regarded the child with a grin and a light wrinkle of her nose. She lifted her gaze to the leader and spoke, her voice as withered as she.

“With what name will you honor your special gift?” She shuffled closer. “After all, that name will be known forever.”

“Orenda!” Donovan smiled, reached out, and grasped her hand. “He's simply magnificent. I can't believe he's finally here.” Orenda studied him for a silent moment, then regarded the infant again. Her grin returned, graced by a subtle laugh that drifted across the room.

Eden scowled, clutching her newborn. “Why are you laughing at our child?” she said.

“Oh, Eden. No, no.” Orenda waved a dismissive hand. “I laugh not at the child,” she said and gestured toward the midwife. “Have you not told them yet, Abigale?”

“What?” Donovan's gaze flitted between them. “Told us what?”

Orenda crouched on her rigid knees, weight upon the walking stick, her muted iridescent eyes coming level with his. “What you've received will surpass all of your expectations,” she said.

“My expectations?” His brow furrowed. “Allowing my Eden to bear a child is enough. What more could we want?”

“A male heir,” Eden said firmly. “And that's what's been granted us, right?” But when no one answered, Eden dug into the wrap and parted the baby's thighs. With a snarl of disgust, she thrust the wailing newborn away. “You deceiving hag! You gave us your word!”

“Yes.” Orenda straightened. “I did give you my word, and an heir is what I've granted you.”

“But, Orenda!” Donovan caught her arm. “A female heir? By the Maker, you're a woman of time! You know only males take the seat of—”

“Change,” she said, “has been brought about by the wind.”

“Change?” Donovan shook his head. “What change? When did anything change?”

Eden spat. “Pah! Don't listen to her! She's full of lies. She's always been full of lies.”

“What don't you understand?” Orenda said over Eden's protests. “Your barren lifemate has given birth to your successor, Donovan. Just as you had beseeched and I had promised.”

“But . . . a female?” He stared, and Orenda lifted her crooked finger to him.

“Heed my word. Only by the Maker's grace was I able to pluck this child's soul from the noble star of Maris for you, and plant it into that”—she pointed to Eden—“scarred womb. You will raise her as you would a male, teach her the ways of your township and confide in her the secrets of leaders past. You will, because you have no other choice.”

“She won't be accepted.”

“She'll be accepted, then revered once she's completed her tasks.”


“No, Donovan.” Orenda's expression hardened. “You have no other choice.”

Donovan faltered. He peered at Eden, saddened, who glared at their crying infant now tucked in the midwife's arms. The shuffle of feet and the tap-tap-tap of a walking stick sounded once more. Eden spat again.

“We'll promise nothing!” she yelled as Orenda hobbled through the bedchamber doorway and out into the corridor. “Nothing! You hear me? You broke your word to us; we'll keep no promise to you.” The door clicked shut and Donovan's shoulders sagged. Eden began to sob. Abigale stepped forth, hesitant, and held the infant out to her.

“But, Eden,” she said, “what's to be her name? The heir must have a name.”

“Name her what you want,” Eden scoffed. “That's no child of mine.” And she shifted her back to them.

Abigale's worried gaze drifted to Donovan, who lifted his daughter from her arms and gently pressed the infant's cheek to his chest, drew in a calming breath and leaned his head back. The baby's cries began to subside.

“Marisa,” he said at last and pointed to the bright star that hung beneath the larger of the two moons. “If her soul came from Maris, then she shall be known to all as Marisa.” He nestled the newborn beneath his chin, stroking flame-red hair as fine as down, and added in a whisper, “You, my little one, will be my Star of the Heavens.” Then he turned his back on Eden and, without a glance behind, carried his daughter—the intended future leader of Mynae—from the room.

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The Perfect Player is available at Amazon and Amazon UK for Kindle!


  1. You have a strong visual style with your writing in this prologue, Kimberly. Well done!

    1. Thank you, William! I appreciate the compliment, and thank you for dropping by for a read.

      (And thank you for your comment on my previous post. I keep forgetting to check my blog comments. Lol!)