This should be titled the scattered update. In fact there we go... its named...
Awesome. I have a blog title.
...Now I'm on another website...
Are you this scattered when writing? Is this natural procrastination? Or something else? Are you as confused as I am? Is anyone still with me?
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Okay, back to being scattered and trying to write. I've got a few projects to do before I go into writing mode and I think it might drive me insane like a loose tooth niggling to get out.
And thus these situations always leaves me on the do I blog or just do a weekly newsletter? But before I know it, I'm back to doing both. I'm always on the fence about updates.
I'm also in-between doing stuff as I write this post. It seems my web browser is slow and I use the time to write. Wow. What a suckfest update this is. I guess I should give you guys something good, like, an excerpt. Would you like that? Below is an excerpt from Pyromage for you guys for reading this barf on a page.
The pictures I have are concepts of who I have in mind when I write. Directly below is who I see for my main character, Homura. Those of you who recognize him/her as Homura from Sekirei the answer is, yes. This is who I've based my main character. BASED OFF OF mind you. My Homura is a little different.
Kuval is Kamina from Gurren Lagann. If you know the anime...seriously how can you not love Kamina? He's amazing and I've modeled Kuval after him. At some point I will have sketches of everyone to show you but for now these are the people walking in my head.
I have more pictures of my idea of Kuval because, well, Kamina is awesome. He's the epitome of spirit. If I can capture that a little in Kuval I'll be ecstatic.
And now for the excerpt...please note this is not edited and you may find errors.
XOXO ~ Stephy
“Interesting pastime for an assassin.” The barkeep slapped a mug down on the wood top, sloshing ale a little too close to the ancient book I was reading.
My eyes rolled up to stare into the burly face of a man who owned the largest bar in the city of Aleenia. Barkeep, who’s only known name was “Barkeep” tried his best intimidation tactic by looking down his nose at me. The man could pick me up and throw me out with one arm, that is, if I didn’t turn him to ash first.
“Listen, boy, I won’t have trouble in my establishment.” Barkeep picked up a rag and started wiping the inside of wet mugs. His forearms bulged while he tried pushing his too large hands inside the wide rimmed, wooden tankard. Leave it to Barkeep to look intimidating doing everyday tasks.
I shook a tobacco stick out from its parchment holder, put my lips over the butt and pulled a smoke out. The magic residing inside me warmed. Snapping my fingers, a spark ignited and a tiny flame came to life and danced above my middle digit. Like a wick feeding the fire, my flip-the-bird finger captured the candle-sized flame and held it. I lit my tobacco stick while folding my other fingers down expressing my thoughts on being called “boy” with a hand gesture.
“Homura,” Barkeep growled my name in warning.
The circulation in this place was horrid. I expelled smoke from my lungs. The scent of burnt parchment and dried plant-matter from my tobacco stick served to refresh the stale air. But what could I expect from a seedy bar nestled in a remote alley?
I perched the tobacco stick between my two front fingers, grabbed my drink and took a gulp.
“Your establishment is safe.” I threw my words at him.
If Barkeep made a scene he’d draw attention. It was essential I didn’t let my mark know I was here. Burning the place down to the ground would’ve been my preferred method of assassination, if I didn’t like this place so much. Not every bar around here allowed my kind. Pyromages were dangerous and I was on the lethal end of that spectrum.
Scotch burned down my throat as I returned my attention to the ancient book. A rowdy group of men cheered in the open space of the bar. As long as they were away from my corner I didn’t mind. I sucked in another hit and slumped my shoulders forward to hide my face with the lapels of my coat. My head sunk closer to the pages of the book.
The target was in the middle of that group of men gallivanting in the center of the bar. Kuval was a member of a rival guild and a fellow assassin. He killed in a personal way—up close and in front of you. He could afford to be that brash. Kuval had muscles that made his tribal tattoos look natural, as if etched into his skin. He used those muscles to fight and kill whoever he was paid to wipe out. If I had to go toe to toe with someone, without magic, I’d rather take my chances with Barkeep. Kuval was honed for war while the man serving me drinks was just mountainous.
I did better as a long range assassin. Guild Master wanted me to expand my horizons. Why Arkenu wanted me to interrogate Kuval was a mystery. I was no good with questions. Point at a something and it will burn. Just don’t make me talk to it, or know it, or care for it. The less I knew about a person, the less I parted with my humanity. Thing, it, and that, were much better than him, he, her, and she when it came to annihilation by fire. I gave death fast as possible. Burning had to be one of the worst ways to go, but I’d never find out. Pyromages didn’t burn. Not by fire anyway.
Turning half my attention back to the tome of cursed magic, I kept the other half of my awareness on Kuval. But there was something on the page that pulled my attention. A dagger with the pommel of a key. Illustrations showed sacrifices of the pointy end of this dagger imbedded inside a person with the pommel inserted into the keyhole of a door. The door to hell. The Devil’s Dagger was the only thing blocking an ancient demon army. Or so the book said. Huh. And people said reading was worthless. That’s why they didn’t know anything of worth.
Heavy footsteps brought my attention back to my target. Kuval moved like a panther sliding up to higher ground before pouncing on a buckeye doe. I did my best to ignore him and blend into the wall beside me. But Kuval’s presence physically reached out and sent a wave of unease through my corrupt soul.
People didn’t ignore Kuval. Already I could feel the aura of his dynasty. The man’s reputation was longer than a palace corridor. Hell, standing two feet away his confidence washed away pride, courage and my mental fortitude. The essence of vigor and charisma stood beside me breaking down my walls of inner confinement.
My hands shook and smoke wavered its wispy tentacles in my face. I smashed the tobacco stick out in a tray on the bar. Guild Master would be less than pleased if I messed this up. Get the information. Kill the mark. Raise the Kenwald Guild’s reputation. Make Arkneu proud for taking me in.
The feeling of being stared at unnerved most people, assassins especially, and it wasn’t long before I glanced at Barkeep. His eyes were turned away, on the person next to me. I tried to force my eyes down but some other command told me to face the danger. I turned to glance at Kuval. The assassin beamed at me and his smile widened when our eyes met.
I snapped my face back down to the book and turned pages, but I couldn’t read a goddamn thing. All my concentration went to keeping my magic from blazing outward. My inner pyro hadn’t threatened to rage out of control like this in a long time. But I told Barkeep I wouldn’t burn down his place and that’s what I would fúrr damn do.
“You’re Homura, right?” Kuval leaned his back on the bar, resting his elbows behind him. His smiling face pointed right at me.
It was my eyes that always gave me away. I’d never found another human being with eyes like mine. Those that didn’t know me, knew of me. People described me as the guy with fire in his eyes. Literal fire. Flames burned where my pupils should be, as if my iris’ were fuel for the flames.
I responded with a sideways glance and returned to “reading”.
Heat rolled off Kuval’s bare chest. The type of heat that crawled down my spine and made me feel like a slab of meat. “Yeah,” Kuval said. “You’re the fire mage in the Kenwald Guild.”
My vision narrowed trying to ignore this force of nature posing as a man. The masculinity incarnate probably had no trouble with women. I was his polar opposite. His scruffy blue-black hair, skin that matched his dark eyes and strong jaw was in deep contrast to my white-blond salad-tossed mane, and my complexion that never saw the sun.
“So what?” I said. The urge to set him on fire and run grew stronger.
Kuval licked his lips and said, “Why don’t you join us?”
My mind went utterly blank. Join you? “Why?”
“You looked like you could use some fun.” He smiled like he’d won a new contract.
“No thanks,” I said with as much bland neutrality I could muster.
Kuval leaned back further over the bar. His eyes raked me up and down. I’d just been visually molested. I wanted to leave and wash away his leering glances. Of course my way of washing was burning his face off.
“You sure? You haven’t stopped advertising since you walked in here.” He pointed up and down at my chest.
I looked down at myself without thinking. What did he mean advertising? I wore the same black pants, the same unbuttoned white shirt under my open black coat. A show of proof I wasn’t carrying a weapon, except for my pyro magic of course. My shirt was open because, duh, Pyromage. I radiated warmth. A closed shirt would be uncomfortable.
“He don’t know what you mean,” Barkeep said. “The boy can hardly bother to button his pants or lace his boots, much less keep the rest of himself covered or groomed.”
I huffed at the insult. I’d raked my fingers through my hair this morning.
Kuval reached out, pulled the side of my coat away and exposed my bare chest. I slapped his hand away and leaped back, hitting the wall.
His eyes were fully dilated and his lips curved in a mischievous grin. Fire walked up my throat and I could feel my magic forcing its way out in defensive maneuvers.
“Homura!” Barkeep’s voice broke through.
One thing I knew was that Barkeep wouldn’t let anyone brawl in here. If Kuval didn’t attack, I’d keep my promise.
The assassin let out an appreciative whistle. “Wow. If the eyes are windows to the soul, then you’re burning inside.”
A part of me wanted to roll my eyes. “My soul is about to leave you as a pile of cinders.”
“Take it outside!” Barkeep leaned over, both palms on the bar top. He was ready to swing over to our side and throw us out. I scanned the bar. Everyone was watching us. Perfect. Witnesses. Not good.
I grabbed my book and ran out into the dingy alleyway. Brick walls held up buildings on either side of the entrance to Barkeeps place. The dark path led north and south with only dirt, glass and trash breaking up the convergence of walls versus the ground. Damn. I was going to have to make my move when Kuval was alone. In a private place. I’d been following him for two days and planned on completing my task tonight. But first I had to get out of this confined lane.
The hinges of the bar door creaked. Wood banged into brick.
“Homura, wait!” Kuval’s voice boomed.
If I weren’t out of my mind terrified, I might have turned around. No. Don’t turn around. He’s an “honorable” killer. He doesn’t sink daggers in his targets back-side. If I keep running…
Arms tackled me from behind and a heavy body pushed me down to the ground. My book went flying. I fell face first and then was crushed by the weight of whoever was on top of me. I couldn’t draw breath. Couldn’t scream. Couldn’t talk.
“Jeez kid, I just wanted to apologize.” Kuval’s lips were right next to my ear. I did not want to think about the hardness pressed up against my ass. I tried to tell him to get off, but I couldn’t speak. All the air in my lungs whooshed out when we fell. In defense, my body started to warm. My Fire rose up. Small flames licked my body. Fúrr surrounded me, protecting me from the threat on top of me.
“I wouldn’t.” Kuval fisted my hair and slipped a blade under my throat. “If you burn me, then you’ll never hear my I’m sorry speech.”
I calculated in a split-second while his heavy body crushed my thin frail one. Just because I couldn’t burn didn’t mean I couldn’t be killed, it just meant he’d have to use other methods besides fire. Cutting my throat would do it. But did Kuval have enough control to slit my neck before I burnt him to a crisp?
Kuval’s wave of confidence washed over me again. This man could probably set himself on fire and have enough control not to scream or run. He’d burn, but not before he’d kill me. If that was his goal, I’d be dead already. It wasn’t worth the risk. I tapered off my magic as much as I could. The unease of Kuval pinning my body down made my nerves jitter.
“Good choice.” Kuval whispered. “Now answer me this, are you interested?”
I wheezed for air. “Get off.”
He huffed. “Damn, there’s just no substance to you at all.” Kuval shifted and I could breathe. I gasped, trying to recover my wind.
“Did you trade physical strength for magical power or what?” Kuval said into my ear.
“No.” I hissed. “Magic makes you lazy.”
A hearty masculine laugh rumbled and echoed off the buildings of the alleyway. “Spoken like a true dragon!” Kuval said.
Once he was done being amused he turned my head so I could look at him with one eye. My arms were pinned between his thighs as he sat on top of me, but my legs were free. He dug the knife into my skin.
“Go ahead.” I sneered.
“Answer me, are you interested?” Kuval pulled my head higher.
“Interested in what?” But in the back of my mind his intention was obvious—I just didn’t want to think about it.
He eased up on my hair but not the knife. “So, you’re not interested in men. That’s too bad. I’m sorry then, for hitting on you. But in my defense, when a guy like you walks into a bar looking all disheveled and sexy, I notice.”
“Not much of an apology.” I said, stalling for time, letting my magic build.
“Out of curiosity, how much am I worth, assassin?”
Damn. I’d been careless. I prided myself on being able to watch a target without actually looking at them or being noticed. But I’d managed to gain Kuval’s attention. It was always the eyes.
“What gave me away?” I had to learn for next time what not to do.
“Are you kidding? I’d notice that sexy body wrapped in a burlap sack…”
This body, other than being on the frail side, also had extra-ordinary flexibility. I arched my back, reached up with my leg and kicked him in the back of the head with the flat of my foot. Kuval grunted and pitched forward enough to let up on the knife at my throat. My weight might be insubstantial, but I could slip through almost anything, even from under Kuval’s legs. I brought my arms up, hoisted him over my head and got to my hands and knees.
My chest heaved from the crushing weight of a man that could rip me in half. But for him to do so, he’d have to get a hold of me. My magic rose. Fire tended my call. Screw the interrogation. I threw out my hand. From my palm, a fire ball went flying towards the object of my ire.
Kuval jumped faster than a jack rabbit, avoiding my attack. When he landed, he stood there relaxed and unperturbed. “You were watching me the entire time you were in the bar. I knew you were there for one of two reasons.”
I stood up and this time I threw a triple bomb. My hands flung out and fire the size of cannon balls rushed forward. Even if he jumped right or left, one of my bombs would smolder him. I’d tell Arkneu my target didn’t talk.
Kuval turned, jumped onto the wall, and bounced from brick building to brick building over my projected missiles. A feat, or maybe not considering his long grass-hopper legs. Kuval landed square and advanced towards me.
“I knew you had a hard-on for me one way or another,” he said.
“Shut up!” I pointed at Kuval and flame streamed out from my fingers.
That got Kuval to jump back, twist and dodge. Empowered at his retreat, I ran. Fire poured from my hands, charring brick walls as I charged. He leaped for the wall again and this time he caught the window sill of the second floor. Pulling himself up, Kuval balanced his heels on the small ledge. “I just wanted to find out what kind of hard-on you had for me.”
“I am not interested in men!” I pointed up and let the rage out. Fire tumbled out from my five fingers making a river of flames. An arc of fire shot upward. The brick building was getting torched but Kuval wasn’t even singed.
“Don’t knock it until you try it.” He jumped across to the third story of the opposite building, grinning so wide I wanted to punch out those pearly white teeth.
Fire rose from within and soon the flames surrounded my body. Engulfed with a shield of flame, wind started whipping around. Wind and fire conspired, twirling lightning-bug embers upward. I heated the air to an inferno and the wind increased in speed. Fire created a weather pocket only I controlled. Both elements obeyed my demands. Inside my self-made tornado, the tunnel created enough air current to lift me skyward. My short hair whipped around, lashing my face and eyes. My body rose above the ground. Wind carried me up. Fire protected my body. I would not miss my target.
The terrible combined forces picked up trash, parchment, broken pieces of wood, metal fragments, anything not bolted down and twirled the debris around my spiral of death. Time to teach Kuval why people didn’t fuck with pyromages.
At a time when most people coward in fear of me, Kuval just smiled and stuck out his chest like he’d won the ultimate prize. Bundling all my hate I slammed my hands forward pushing all my magic through, aiming to wipe the satisfaction off Kuval’s face.
Brick and glass shattered. Dust flew everywhere. I shielded my eyes from the blow back of grit flying in my face. In my rash anger, I’d used everything into destroying one man, forgetting I was three stories up.
Now without the support of the elements I started falling. I was going to break open my skull from this height. There wasn’t enough time to save myself.
Arms caught me in mid-flight. Kuval’s strong chest heaved and merriment twinkled in his eyes. Gritting my teeth I reached for my magic. He’d burn for touching me.
My head slammed against brick. My sight went fuzzy and I heard a ringing in my head. Kuval’s face circled around then got a whole lot closer. Something slick entered my mouth. The texture was rough. It felt like an eel probing my insides. For a moment I just let it happen. The sensation didn’t hurt, in fact, it felt warm. The probe encouraged me to explore.
Cold, hard metal encircled my wrists. The brain haze cleared and I focused on my surroundings. My hands were behind my back, caught in iron cuffs. Kuval leaned in close and twirled a stray lock of my short, white hair.
“Get off me!” I raged.
Fury balled in a compressed mass hovering within my solar plexus. A wall of flame surrounded me like an aura. Kuval jumped back. Without my hands free I couldn’t direct my fire but I could use it to defend myself from perverts that didn’t understand the meaning of “no”.
Kuval pulled out a metal rod with a clamp at the end. He flicked the device and the rod extended. The clamp closed around my neck. I pushed against the restraint. The muscles in Kuval’s shoulders and forearms bulged as he worked at pushing me back. In truth his effort was more than a match for me. I wouldn’t win in a contest of strength against him. He shoved me against the wall and I sank into a defeated slump.
The compressed magic in my chest expanded in a last effort to win. A wall of fire grew outward. It extended in a wild bubble of plasma, but my range did not reach the end of Kuval’s metal contraption. He gritted his teeth and his arms started shaking. His right foot pushed against the wall behind him while the other foot steadied his leaning stance. Beads of sweat drifted down his tattooed arms and chest. His half naked body became slick. Wet stains splotched his pants. The heat was getting to him. Like any other human, my fire would melt his skin off if he was too close.
A spark of hope ignited within and I stood with renewed will. I stared down into his determined face. Kuval pushed me against the wall. His knuckles darkened. His bold smile faded a bit. Kuval’s face shading with a grim fortitude of a man who lived for something. His stare pierced into my soul. He owned a tiger’s strength and the will of a phoenix. That’s when I knew. I could char him black and he still wouldn’t give up.
“We could be really good together.” His face crumpled into a cruel mask—the mask of an assassin who had no choice.
I flinched, shoving out thoughts of what he implied by “together”. Kuval yanked the rod. With my neck encased in the ring, I had no choice but the fly forward. He shoved me back. My skull hit the wall.
“Stop or I’m going to bash your head in,” he said.
He’d made his point. With my hands and head controlled there wasn’t much I could do. If I didn’t stop he’d bash my brains in. He hadn’t killed me yet, which in my predicament he could easily. He wanted information. There was a slim chance I could talk my way out of this.
I closed my eyes and settled the magic rolling in chaos through my body. I calmed the emotions fueling my flame. The raging torrent died to a dirt devil, then a breeze and finally a soft glow letting the element settle to a flicker within my lungs.
Kuval grunted and peeled a bloodied hand away from the rod. A mess of burnt flesh clung to the metal pole. He’d withstood more than I’d thought. Kuval pushed a button on the end of his pole and the rod extended out behind him. The butt end dug into the wall towards his back while I was pinned to the wall behind me. Anyone wanting to go down the corridor of buildings would have to play limbo.
My head couldn’t move, my hands were behind me and my coat exposed my bare chest for any passer-by to stick a knife in. Not that there was any traffic this time of night. Everyone mostly keep to themselves around here. My only satisfaction was watching Kuval pull his other melted palm away along with the sneer of pain. He gingerly pulled a canteen from his belt and washed his hands, hissing the entire time. He glanced at me and squinted.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Keep your smugness as long as you can. I’ve got plans for you my friend.”
“So no quick and painless death for me,” I said.
He didn’t reply. Instead he pulled a roll out from one of his pouches and started wrapping his hands with thin strips of cloth. When he was done he picked up my book that, miraculously, hadn’t burned. Actually, this was the second time it had been under fire and hadn’t burned. But the book was the least of my concerns right now.
Kuval took hold of the pole and retracted the end making the staff nine feet in length instead of twelve.
“Let’s go talk.” Kuval said giving me a nod.
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