mobile site builder

Sample chapters

  • Kisses of Fire

    Eileen Raven Scott


    Chapter 1



    Aruni sat down in front of the fireplace and listened to the flames whispering. Slowly she wiggled her fingers, stiff from the autumn air and held them into the flames. The fire hugged her skin and it only took a few moments, until the warmth came back. Ash jumped onto Aruni's lap and cuddled up, purring. Aruni stroked her soft fur and sighed.

    „Oh, I'm so fed up with being different. I hate this masquerade.“

    She glanced over at the pile of gloves, hats, hair bands and hair clips on her dressing table by the window and pulled a face. Ash rubbed her head against Aruni's hand, as if to say she understood. Aruni stroked her cat's ears, before putting her down gently. She got up and slowly walked over to the window. Absent-mindedly she touched her short horns, while she looked out into the night. Then she closed the curtains. Nosy looks from passers-by were really not what she needed right now.

    Aruni shivered and turned up the heating as high as it would go, but the temperatures never reached those of her old home. Central heating for humans was simply not designed for temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius. Aruni sighed and started getting undressed. She dropped her blazer, blouse and black jeans in an untidy pile on the old velvet armchair in the corner of her bedroom. Then she began to unravel the black bandage, which hid the red shiny skin around her middle and her tail. She draped it tidily over the pile of clothes and slipped into a pair of black silk pyjamas. For a moment she stared into the candle flame on her bedside table, then she blew it out and crawled into bed.

    Ash finished licking her fur clean, before she leaped down from the fireplace and came over to the bed. With an elegant jump she landed on the soft duvet, where she curled up for the night.

    „My sweet little flame, I am so lucky to have you,“ Aruni whispered. “Sleep tight.”


    Aruni woke up with a start. Next to her, Ash was growling just as loud as her. Who on earth was ringing her doorbell at this time of night? Dragging her duvet with her, Aruni scrambled out of bed and stumbled to the door, letting out a series of hot curses. Whoever was out there was hammering on her door now. Every single other person in the house was probably awake by now and soon someone would be calling the police.

    Of course Aruni suspected who might be waiting outside her door making this racket and she wasn’t happy to see him at all. Every single one of Lierd’s visits had meant trouble so far or at least a bad mood on both sides. One look through the judas hole confirmed her suspicion. Aruni growled under her breath and pulled the duvet closer around her body. She was trembling of cold and anger. Aruni opened the door a tiny bit and peered out. Ash jumped up onto the bookshelf opposite the door and crouched down behind a tall vase.

    „Open the door, Aruni! What's the matter with you?“ Lierd barked. „Have you suddenly developed a sense of shyness amongst the humans?“ He barged past her into her flat and looked down on her from his impressive height of nearly two meters and twenty.

    „Am I interrupting anything?“

    „Not at all.“ Aruni grunted. „What do you want, Lierd? It's night, for hell's sake.“

    „Exactly. The night before Halloween, where you should be at the ceremony. You could bring some humans to sacrifice, there are enough around after all.“ He licked his lips.

    There was a choking sound from behind; Aruni and Lierd looked towards the bookshelf. The cat coughed up a furball, which then fell onto the carpet with a tiny plop.

    Lierd looked at Aruni. „See? She doesn't like it here, either. How long are you planning on staying?“

    Again, Aruni snorted angrily and crossed her arms before her chest. „She likes it here. And so do I. How often do I have to tell you that? If you just came to persuade me to come with you, you can leave right now.“

    Instead of an answer, Lierd laughed. He stepped a little closer and stretched to his full height like a male cat defending his territory. „Are you threatening me?“

    Ever so slightly, Aruni’s horns started to glow, but then she just shrugged and took a step backwards.

    Lierd grinned and walked past her. On his way he bumped into her shoulder so hard that Aruni nearly dropped her duvet. He walked over to the fireplace and sat down in one of the leather armchairs in front of it. Aruni stood in the doorway for a moment and then sat down at a safe distance and watched her unwanted guest.

    „Why are you wearing bedsheets? “ Lierd asked, after having stared into the flames for an eternity. „Is that a new fashion in the human world, that I haven't heard of yet?“

    The gentle tone unsettled Aruni even more. His eyes had a strange sparkle to them, was he planning something? But then again, it was probably just the reflection of the fire.

    “I was sleeping,“ she said quietly.

    „You sleep?“ Lierd truly sounded astonished. „You need to sleep? I didn't know that. Why didn't I know that? Since when do you need sleep?“

    „It's different up here. My human side comes out more on the surface. But I also slept down below. Secretly. If you could excuse me a moment,“ Aruni cringed at the human expression and backed towards the bathroom door. She was angry, that Lierd had found out this weakness. After all, she was defenceless in her sleep. If it was to become known down below, who knows who would take advantage of it. And she knew very well that Lierd could not be trusted. Aruni leaned against the closed door and grabbed her bathrobe. In the corner next to the bathtub she spotted a pair of purple running trousers, one blue and one red sock. Unfortunately no underwear, but the most important thing was that Lierd wouldn't be able to stare at her bare skin. She slipped into the soft material and pulled back her hair into a ponytail. Then she took a deep breath and opened the door again.

    Lierd wasn’t sitting in the armchair anymore. Nervously Aruni scanned the room. A sound came from the kitchen. As quietly as possible, she sneaked to the door and looked directly at the impressive muscles on Lierd's back. He was standing in front of the fridge and staring into it, probably looking for beer, which he wouldn't find. As usual, he had taken off his shirt. Human clothes were not his favourite thing to wear.

    „You don't have to tiptoe, I know exactly where you are.“

    Aruni didn’t even have time to say anything to his comment, because in the next second he stood so close, that his body nearly touched hers. Aruni breathed in his smoky scent, it reminded her of home and there was an ever so tiny pang of homesickness. But next to the usual scent there was something else, a trace of perfume. It smelt definitely feminine, flowery but deadly. Jenna. Aruni didn’t say anything.

    „Yes, I was with Jenna,“ he said and squared his shoulders. „There's no need to sniff me.“ He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his perfectly fitting black jeans. Lierd bared his sharp white teeth a little. A deep growl caused Aruni to look into his eyes. His own fire was burning in them, wild and impossible to tame.

    „Aruni,“ hissed Lierd. „Don't look at me like that. I know what you’re thinking and you‘re wrong.“

    She looked away. Taking one step back at a time, she kept going until she bumped into the kitchen wall. Lierd stayed where he was and leaned on the small folding table in the middle of the room. There was a loud snap and the next minute Lierd fell backwards like a cut down tree and landed wide-eyed on the kitchen floor. He cursed loudly, but then got back on his feet in one smooth move. Looking down on the pile of plywood and plastic pieces, he said: „I'll buy you a new table tomorrow. Go back to bed.“ Then he left the kitchen. A few moments later the flat door crashed closed. Aruni let out a long breath.

  • Worldbuilding for Beginners

    Carla Erpenbeck


    Foreword



    So you need a world, to start with. Not your ordinary world, of course, or you could just take Google maps, draw a circle somewhere and call it your setting. Where to start?
    Actually world-building is fairly easy to learn. It doesn't matter if you need this world for a book setting or as a game background. You will need the same ingredients.
    In this book I will give you some small examples which you are free to use. You might want to change details of these examples, or you could end up with a twin world other authors use as well.

    Which Tools Do You Need?


    A sheet of paper. Maybe two (for the second try).
    A pen.
    A ruler.
    An eraser.
    Colored pencils in red, yellow, blue and green.
    Two dices.
    Index cards. Preferably big ones.

    And your brains, pouring out some imagination.


    Basics

    First of all: how do you wish your world to function?
    Is it a pure fantasy world without similarities to our Earth? Maybe you need just one country. Then this world could take any shape. A flat surface, square or round. A sphere in any form, be it a disk, a cube, a traditional globe or whatever you like.
    In case you wish your heroes to travel long distances, you might consider a globe. Globes provide easier travel, especially if you include an ocean (no sudden sharp edges at the rim of the world, no bottomless abyss threatening). And if your story is set in an altered earth environment, you need a globe anyway.
    So you basically take Earth and change it a bit. Change history. Change time. Change the form of the continents.
    How?
    You need maps. But – you are terribly bad imagining new continents. (Are you sure you wish to write fantasy?)
    Well, nature provides you with all the forms you need. Take a look at stones. Bark. Lichen. Aren't these forms which would make splendid continents? Just draw them, in a simplified form, on your waiting sheet of paper. And I mean simplified. Simplified will do the job and make life easier for you. You can refine your world later.


    Practical World-Building

    Go outside, take photos of lichen, moss, interesting stones, peeling paint, dirt patches. Don't get irritated if people look quizzically at you. You are working. You are building a world. Some strange behavior doesn't matter as long as you can create an interesting world.
    To shy to go outside? Google pictures with said items. But remember: Google pictures are usually copyrighted. Try to use them in a way so that the original photograph can't recognize your source.


    Hard Facts

    You wish seasons like summer, winter, spring and autumn? Then your world needs to rotate with it's axis at an angle, which little fact at the same time produces shorter days during the cold season and longer days during the hot season.
    No angle of the world's axis = no seasons = equally long days the whole year long.
    You need high and low tide? Then you must definitely have at least one moon. One moon if you need tides which flow regularly. More than one moon, and you have chaotic tides. Well, one big moon and several very small ones might work just fine.
    So you got your world. It rotates. It has day and night, it has seasons, it has continents and oceans. So it has wind as well.
    If nothing else, the rotation would produce wind. Heavy winds. Jet-streams. That primary winds would take the direction against the rotation of your world. Mostly.
    Another origin of wind would be the difference between the temperature of land and water. Land heats up under the sun, is warmer during the day, and cools faster during the night. Water keeps it's temperature more steady. Warm air means higher pressure. So the wind will go from land (remember: hot = high pressure) to the ocean during the day, and from the ocean towards the land during the night. Mostly.
    All would be fine and easy. Except this continent of yours is very unlikely to be uniformly flat and non-textured.
    It has mountains, which tend to interrupt wind currents. It has forests which tend to produce their own micro-climate. It has green meadows which are mildly tempered. It has deserts which heat up considerably. And it might even have glaciers and snowfields, high up in the mountains or in the north, which reflect a lot of sunshine, a feature which is called "albedo" and produces even more coldness.
    By the way, the white sands of a true desert have this albedo as well. You just don't notice it during the hot days. But night is entirely a different matter. There are no clouds over a desert, so nothing hinders the sand to radiate all the heat towards the empty sky. A fact which makes desert nights very cold, even frosty, and produces some dew in the morning. Said dew is the only source of water for most desert plants and animals.
    As mentioned before, clouds not only bring rainwater. They protect the thermal balance of your world by keeping heat near to the ground during nighttime and by shading the soil from too much sun during daytime.

    Back to your continents. They have mountains. Very well. It makes a whole lot of a difference where you put these mountains.
    You put them east-west, or roughly in the direction your planet rotates? Then these east-west jetstreams of wind will roam full force around your world. Your continents will have a more or less uniform weather, most differences are based solely on the lattitude of your location. (North is colder, south is warmer, but east and west should not make very much of a difference. Except when you have very huge continents, then the pure mass of land will produce some disturbances.
    You put your mountains north-south (and somehow nearer to the coast than to the middle of the land)? Now you have an interesting setting. There is one part of the mountains which is exposed to the seaside. The winds will pummel against this side, especially at night. Winds which originate over the sea and are loaded with moisture. This damp air the winds bring is forced to climb up the mountains. Up there it's colder. The moisture condenses, it rains. Sea-sides of mountains are mostly wet. And because they are wet, they are the origin of creeks, rivers, streams and lakes. A perfect example of this is North-America.


    “First of all hands off to you guys for your effort and nice, super tool. Good work mobirise team. We are expecting the new version soon with advance functionality with full bootstrap design. Great effort and super UI experience with easy drag & drop with no time design bootstrap builder in present web design world.”



  • To be continued ...