Blood + War

I’ll kill them!

I’ll kill them all!

I’ll kill them and tear them limb from limb and rip out their throats with my teeth!

I’ll kill them and hunt down their families and make them all suffer! I’ll destroy their villages and burn everything in my sight to cinders!

Die! Die! Die!

~*~*~*~

Chained in a dungeon, locked behind iron bars, and sneered at by lowly humans. Thinking they can keep me in check with those blunt swords at their sides. I haven’t unclenched my fists in days. I’ve only just stopped screaming and promising them an eternal suffering. And I’m only now starting to think, and I wonder what kind of sorcerers they have, to be able ensnare me. Me! They’ll die! They’ll all die painfully and mercilessly! I growl, and drown the dungeon in a wall-shaking death cry.

“Are you ready to cooperate?”

A low guttural growl builds in the back of my throat, and I bare my fangs at the man. Badges and patches adorn the front of his blazer. A sword is sheathed on his right, and a cape covers his left. His hair is blonde and greying, and his skin is starting to wrinkle and show signs of his insignificant, fleeting life. But his tired eyes show none of the fear and despair that I will make sure will terrorise him day and night.

Spread like a star, with my hands and feet chained apart, I definitely feel the heat of a star burning me inside. And I would love nothing more than to release a wave of scorching fire, but I can’t. I try. I try as hard as I can, diving deep into myself and pulling back a lethal dosage of elemental magic, but when I try to unleash it, it’s like it dissipate back into me, no matter how many times I try.

The old man just blinks, when I start to scream and roar once more, trying with all my might to lay waste to everything, and failing miserably. He soon leaves, but my rage remains.

~*~*~*~

They summoned me for a war. I am to fight for them, and bring them victory. Seven needlessly virginal sacrifices were made. I am under their control. And I cannot hurt them, lest my own life prematurely cease.

As I sit outside the tent they had given me, glaring at anyone and everyone in my line of sight, it becomes clear to me that they know those conditions are only temporary. They avoid eye contact. They quickly walk out of my vision. They know that once my contract is completed they will all die by my hand, if the battlefield doesn’t do it first.

Thana,” I say in my mind.

Without delay, another’s voice speaks to me in my head, and just hearing it sooths my rage. It won’t quell it completely, though. Nothing but my ‘allies’’ deaths would do that.

Camilla,” she says, and despite being separated by realms, just hearing her voice makes it feel like she’s right beside me. If I’m going to make it through this war still sane, I need that. “Let us help you.

This is not why I wanted to talk.

I’m positive Jinx will know of a way to break the contract. And even if not, perhaps Father—

No. This is. My revenge. No one else’s. I’ll deal with it myself

Silence fills my mind, and with it, the hate and anger and overwhelming bloodlust start to replace it.

Hurry home,” my twin says. I’m always grateful to hear her, but when she stops, and I’m left alone in this damned realm, I feel the most empty I have ever felt. And without Thana, only the anger can give my trapped life any meaning.  Revenge. I lick my lips, anticipating their blood, and from then on, no one dares glance near me.

~*~*~*~

They asked me if I had the power to revive our allies. I said yes. They have since stopped asking the impossible of me. It’s ironic, really, because despite being a demon, I specialise in healing. But reviving?

I would be plowing through the enemy ranks, slashing and impaling and decapitating, on their orders, and they would call me back to raise a fallen comrade. And I would do it. I would lay my hands on them and pour my healing magic into them, reinvigorating them with new life. They would rally, and take on the enemy, swords raised, battle cries loud, and no matter how many times they would be struck with mace swings or sword impalings, they would not fall. Many of them were soulless, driven only by their last moments of trauma, and they would go mad. Prone to anger and friendly fire, even in the camps. It’s one of the few ways I managed to entertain myself here. But if I was quick enough with reviving, some would return with their souls intact. They would still be massively driven by trauma, massively prone to anger, and quick to answer any question with a fight to the death, but only now, their souls were tainted, and guaranteed a place in Hell. They had soon ordered me to rid them of those abominations, when it became clear these soldiers were no longer human.

It’s been a while since I saw the inside of my cell. My hands and feet are once again bound, only now, I’m not growling and manically trying to shake myself free. But they would be foolish to mistake my calmness for submissiveness. The only reason I’m back in this cell is because they think I broke the contract they’ve bound to me. The only reason they could get me into this cell again is because I’m not allowed to break it.

The old greying blonde stands before me, that very same tiredness deep-rooted in those eyes he regards me with. “If we find out you’ve broken free of our agreement—”

“You would be all be dead if I had. I raised the dead, on foolish orders. The empty husks ran wild. Tell me at which point the fault lies with me.”

“When you failed to inform your commanding officer that doing so would result in monsters.”

I can’t hold the laugh back. When I don’t stop, the grey-blonde man, walks out of my cell, hands held behind his back, without a word, and a guard locks it behind him.

He starts to walk away, but his footsteps echo loudly through the place.

“Perhaps you should have tried summoning an angel if you wanted miracles.”

The footsteps stop for just a moment, but they soon sound again, and he soon leaves me here, with two guards who talk only in hushed whispers when near me, and the silence and time to think of the darkest way to torment my ‘comrades’.

~*~*~*~

A horse. They give me one as if my own two feet and wings are not good enough. A horse that gallops at not even a tenth of the speed that I can run. So I corrupt her. She bucks and neighs like she’s going mad, but she doesn’t run off as I lay my hands on her black hide, and watch it harden and crack. Her blood turns molten, and with fire now pumping through her, her veins glow under her now impenetrable hide. Her mane, previously of pure white, now shimmers black. Flowing wildly and ghostly, and serving as a clear warning of her demonic aptitude. Black horns of a ram sprout from either side of her head, just above her soulless, deep black abysses that make her eyes. Fangs. They’re as sharp as my own, but far more grotesque and terrifying. They barely even fit in her mouth. I take in the sight of her, but quickly surmise that she’s missing one final trait, and as I stroke her ghostly mane, large, leathery wings break out from her back. Thick and spiked at their tips.

The poor creature’s neighing contorts into an unearthly mixture between an screeching neigh and a vicious roar. And I stroke up her mane, until I reach her head, looking into the eyes of my new companion. Despite the transformation, she’s stays and when I take her head in my hands and rest my forehead against hers, she calms down.

And I smile.

~*~*~*~

With a year to my name, I’ve apparently also been able to make a name for myself with our enemies, too. Nothing spectacular. Just The Daughter of the Devil. I heard it days ago, and it still makes me laugh.

“The Daughter of the Devil,” I mutter to myself, shaking my head, as I ride Astaria at the head of the company. It’s not too big a coincidence, when I really think about it. Humans know about only so few demons, and I suppose my father would be the most infamous.

Astaria and I ride quite some distance ahead of the rest of the cavalry, since she spooks the other horses just by being near them. Because she’s the best steed in this entire army. But riding up ahead at a painfully slow pace, I can practically feel her restlessness. I lower myself on her, and hug her, her hide hot to the touch.

“We’ll let loose when we go home,” I quietly say to her. I breath in her burning scent, and sigh out. “We’ve got seas of fire, and burning skies.” I glance up at the dull, darkening grey sky, before shutting my eyes, and picturing home. “We have other horses galloping and flying around the palace, but you’d never let them intimidate you, would you?”

Astaria makes a short snorting noise, and I chuckle quietly. “They’re no match for…”

I shoot upright, and Astaria rightly stops, as I jerk my gaze towards that powerful source in the distance. Powerful and still building. That magic…

I’m just about to get Astaria moving as fast as she can, but I’m stopped by the screams in my head, and my eyes go wide with core-chilling realisation. I can finally feel that tight pull again, that draws us together, and despite myself, that wave of calm I can’t help but feel with her presence in this realm… Thana.

~*~*~*~

Lying in my tent, reading one of their human books on strategy, and keeping everyone awake with my laughter, it helps to keep my mind occupied. But when a voice comes in my head, I stop. I wish my ‘commanding officer’ had not ordered me back, after I raced off. I wish he had let me go again, after I explained the situation, and I wish I wasn’t bound by this cursed contract, so I could have torn his head from his neck.

Hello Camilla,” I can’t deny that I’m happy to hear her voice, but the tinge of sadness sprouts a deep-seeded, primal bloodlust in me. I need something to kill.

Thana.” I feel like I can see her smiling as I say her name, so I have no doubt that she is. But I don’t know what there is to smile about. “Did they hurt you?

No,” she says, quietly. “I was in a rage, but when I sensed you near, I calmed down enough to realise the situation.

Wonderful. Now we’re both bound to contracts in a human war.

Against one another.” My husk of a heart burns when she says that. I already knew that, but hearing it again just… “But don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. This time tomorrow, I’ll have freed you from your binds.

Wishful thinking.

The smile I can sense says otherwise, but she would have to forgive me for not being overly optimistic, right now.

Just listen.

~*~*~*~

We meet in the depths of a dark forest, the moonlight unable to break through the canopy. Astaria’s flaming veins offer minimal light, but it doesn’t matter for us. I know we don’t have the luxury of time, but I can’t let go of Thana. I don’t know how for how long we have embraced, but I won’t let go. Even if a year and half is nothing for demons, it feels like centuries when I’m away from Thana. I could stay like this all night.

But there’s work to be done.

She pushes me away, first, and I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, but she just smiles at me. Her deep blue skin, almost black in the dim light, and her red eyes shining. Her long cloak covers her two little horns on her forehead, but I’m drawn to the tome she’s holding close to her body. I wish I could come with her to see just what kind of curses she will inflict upon my soon to be former captors.

She looks down at the sword at my side, and raises her eyebrows at me. “Been practicing your swordplay?”

Such a mundane question, and I smile at it. I’ve had plenty of mundane moments in my time here, but I missed this kind, where it isn’t just a temporary release from human stupidity.

“Hardly,” I say, choking on the word, and it’s only then that I realise I’m crying. “Fighting humans will never help me improve.”

She wipes my eyes for me, and I let her. “Perhaps if you kill enough.” With a sigh, her expression soon becomes cold and serious, and mine does, too. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk later, but we better go quick, before either of us are summoned back.”

I nod once, and reluctantly walk back to Astaria, and mount her. She walks up to Thana, so I lean down to my sister, and pat her on the head, much to her false distaste, and poorly hidden delight, as she pouts up at me. “Make them suffer,” I tell her. It’s her turn now to nod once. Without another word, she runs deeper into the forest behind me to annihilate my contractors, whilst I gallop off in the other direction, to destroy hers.

The Price of Victory

Here’s a short story I wrote for an assignment, that’s been graded, so I can now post online without worrying about it being considered plagiarism of myself… Makes no sense. I know… Enjoy!

~*~*~*~

The Price of Victory

Katania leant against her maul, her breathing heavy and undignified. She was battered and bruised, and practically painted in her own blood. The wounds had healed over her coal-black skin, but the exhaustion remained. She had reached her limits, and needed to rest.

Valerie didn’t care.

They stood on the outskirts of a forest on a hill overlooking a small village. Valerie had long since lost count of how many villages they had crossed, and quite frankly didn’t care as long as Katania produced results. The hours had turned to days, but Valerie was still not satisfied. Not when she looked at her sister and saw her nearly collapsing from such a light warm up. The real training had yet to begin.

“The village isn’t going to destroy itself. Go,” Valerie said.

Katania gave her second oldest sister a look so brief that mortal eyes would have missed. Childish defiance filled them, and Valerie held back her grin at the thought of beating that out of her. Her baby sister—somewhere around 250-years-old, but Valerie didn’t really know or care—had stopped talking back, so she wasn’t a completely lost cause. But her work ethic was terrible, and Valerie was doing her damned best to at least beat that into her. After all, not all the dried blood and bruises on her body was the work of their enemies.

Katania stood up straight, holding onto her hammer with both hands. Without needing Valerie to tell her twice, she ran down the hill towards the village. Valerie watched as it took Katania seconds to bring about the first of the screams. Valerie would have been done by now, but once the screams and madness did start, Valerie looked on with glee as huts collapsed one after another, under the swings of Katania’s hammer. Fast and efficient. Men and women and children; all crushed and broken as she brought her hammer down, sparing no one. Try as they might to run, they were all just so slow. Even in Katania’s pitiful state, she was able to easily catch up to mere humans. Smashing limbs, turning brains to mush, and sending bodies flying.

It didn’t take too long for Katania to finish up. Valerie would have had a few choice words with her, if it had. Katania stood in the square of the little village, by a fountain centreing what used to be a market, and she moved her mouth with silent incantations; a wave of hellish flames washed over the entire village, setting alight to everything and swiftly melting it all, indiscriminately. Buildings, people, the sandy terrain. And Katania stood in the centre of the molten ground, their next battleground, unaffected, choosing now to rest, using her maul as a crutch, again.

“What are you doing?” Valerie said, knowing she would hear, despite the distance between them.

Valerie didn’t get an answer and wouldn’t get one any time soon, as the centre of a large cloud parted, and white light shone down from above. Back when this little training exercise had started, Valerie thought it amusing how the “almighty” and “benevolent” God had kept sending his soldiers to them to be slaughtered. But after quickly losing count of how many villages they had razed, it had swiftly become a bore, as it was evident that these angels were the worst of the worst, even with Katania deteriorating every fight. Katania needed a challenge, a real life-threatening fight to really push her. At this point Valerie would have made a better opponent to train with.

“If you have time to laze around, you have time to fight.”

And this was no time to be lazing around. Descending from the blinding light in the clouds were five beings with wings of pure, feathery white. Golden halos crowned their heads, and Valerie had to fold her arms to resist the urge to draw her sword, and make those halos come crashing to the ground.

Besides, this was not her fight. This was not her training session, and if it were, five measly angels wouldn’t be able to make her break even a single bead of sweat. Valerie just couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps their superior was still underestimating the power of the demonic duo.

“Make this quick, sister,” Valerie called out. Katania stood in the centre of the molten pool that used to be a village, still using her hammer as a crutch, still panting as if she had no energy left, still not taking this seriously.

“Begone vile demon!” Wow… warnings. They apparently still hadn’t learned their lesson. The angels descended down in a V formation, and the one at the head of the group was the one who spoke, his deep voice piercing Valerie’s ears. They were all clad in full silver armour, armed with golden swords and shields. Valerie couldn’t help but wonder if they had ever held their weapons against someone else.

The angels remained a good distance in the air, keeping the aerial advantage, but Valerie guessed they just didn’t want to get to close to the ground, and burn their wings off. Either way, Katania finally lifted her head up, and took her maul in both hands, ready to deal with her new training dummies.

“Shut up and fight me,” she said, and her hammer began burning with its demonic purple flames. Katania was breathing heavily, but it still took some effort on Valerie’s part not to smile at her little sister’s confidence.

It happened in an instant, but Valerie still caught it all. The two angels at the two ends of the formation both charged forward, fast enough to leave no room for error on Katania’s part. Golden swords swinging at her from two sides, Katania jumped a few feet off the ground, and lashed out with her tail. It hit nothing, but she wasn’t aiming for any of them. At least Valerie hoped not. No, her tail sprayed venom into the air, that rained down, and their formation fell apart, as they frantically tried to escape the corroding venom of a demon princess.

In their panic, Katania flew at one of the separated angels, and swung her hammer overhead with such speed and ease, one would have thought it weighed less than a feather. But Katania was strong, and the hammer was heavy, so when the devastating blow of her impure weapon connected with the skull of the pure being, it was sent hurtling to the ground. Lava mist spurted up from where the angel crashed into the hellish pool, and it was safe to assume that was one angel down.

A shriek made Valerie wince slightly, and, watching from the safe distance upon the hill, she could see that one of the angels had been caught in the rain of venom, and was falling. Never mind what the venom touched, the hellfire-tainted ground consumed the angel, setting it alight.

Katania didn’t seem to pay any mind to it as she flew at the three remaining, now having regrouped, their new formation just a small wall. And as Katania readied her first swing as she approached, they flew at her, too. There was a flurry of blows, and ridiculous parrying from Katania and her maul, of all weapons. But she was putting on a clear and undeniable display of superiority, not letting a single slash or thrust hit her. Valerie expected nothing less from a demon princess. She would tolerate nothing less from her sister.

Valerie shut her eyes and sighed through her nose. This was pathetic. Seriously pathetic. It was harder on Katania when she faced off against a single angel. Now they were just sending the useless filth they must have wanted destroyed. They weren’t skilled. They weren’t experienced, and most importantly for Valerie, they weren’t stealthy. She could track their rancid stench a mile off.

She leant a little to the side, as an arrow came flying  past from behind her. She ducked as another came immediately after, shooting for her head. And she spun on her heel, drawing her sword and slashed at the third arrow aimed at  her heart.

Why must they draw her into a fight that was not her own?

Valerie spent little time pondering this as she raced back into the forest. She couldn’t see her attacker, and as arrows came seemingly from all directions, homing in on her, it was clear to her that it was trying to stay hidden. She was more focused on the fact that this poorly hidden annoyance was distracting her from watching her sister train, than paying any mind to the assault. She followed the scent, slashing at some of the arrows, and using the trees to intercept others. In little time, Valerie caught sight of a lone armoured angel with a bow, notching his next arrow. Slow. So slow. So painfully slow that this couldn’t have been considered training at all. Even for Katania.

Valerie was on the angel in an instant, clutching his throat in her claws and squeezing. Grunting and struggling in futility, the angel grabbed hold of Valerie’s hand, as she lifted him up off the ground. She hadn’t dealt with all of the arrows, but as they homed in on her, she used the angel as a makeshift shield, moving him about like a ragdoll, as she used it to intercept the last three arrows, all from different directions. To its credit, it didn’t cry out too loudly as it was pierced with its own arrows. Holding the angel in the air by the neck, the two blankly stared at one another. It knew its time was up. Valerie tightened her grip around its neck, sheathing her sword with her other hand, so she could clutch from under its chin and tear its head clean off.

“Cowardly,” Valerie muttered under her breath, as blood splattered on her face. “Useless.” She threw the head against the trunk of a tree, unable to mask the building irritation. “Pointless.” She drew her sword again, and swung at a nearby tree. It slowly fell to the ground, but the simple swing of her dark blade had rotted the trees around her, and it was spreading out, as far as she could see. “I dare you to keep underestimating us.” A quiet challenge to the angels’ master.

The fighting had stopped. Valerie could not hear the clashes of weapons, and she re-entered the clearing in time to see Katania bring her hammer down, with another overhead swing, upon the last remaining angel, sending him crashing to the molten earth mercilessly. She was getting better, despite the exhaustion, and the terrible opponents. That much was perfectly clear…

But Valerie had missed it. Katania turned to look down at Valerie, her eyes half open, her chest heaving, her inability to fly back down in a straight line speaking volumes. She landed, or rather fell in front of Valerie, face down on the ground.

“Sister,” Valerie warned.

No answer.

“Katania,” Valerie pushed.

Heavy panting.

One second was too much. Two was an insult. But to make her wait three…

Valerie’s left eye twitched, and her hand instinctively went for her sword, but she stopped herself. “You say you want to be a warrior, but you lie at my feet like a wounded hound?”

Katania clutched the dirt under her hands, and lifted her head some, but didn’t look up at her sister. “Just let me rest for—”

The kick Valerie delivered to her little sister’s ribs would have broken a lesser being easily. But if Katania wanted to fight, she wasn’t allowed to be weak.

The kick had launched the young demon into the air, and sent her flying in an arc, falling far across the other side of the burned village. Valerie definitely felt something break in Katania as she kicked her. Katania hit the ground with such a glorious thud. Along with the dust that kicked up around her there was no holding back the laughter Valerie burst into. Her little sister lay motionless on the ground, save for the very slight movements of her breathing, and it felt like the smile on Valerie’s face was never going to leave.

Valerie jumped in the air and swiftly closed much of the distance, in a single leap. On the other side of the destroyed village, she slowly walked over towards her baby sister, going over in her head how much more she thought Katania could take, and feeling content with herself when she figured far, far more.

“Get up, little sister,” Valerie said.

Truly, this time, there was no response.

“I thought you wanted to be a warrior, dear little sister.”

Valerie’s laughter intensified at the thought, more so when she recalled the determination in Katania’s eyes when she asked the favour of her. Naïve. Naïve and stupid. Gutsy, too. But just childish foolishness. But Valerie liked the idea of putting her to the test, if only because it gave her the opportunity to discipline her, and mold her into the perfect puppet. Her right hand girl. Second best to her, but better than the rest of their sisters. That was an opportunity too good to give up.

Standing over her still motionless sister, Valerie just stared. She was good. For a child, she was damn good, and as Valerie’s laughter died out, she was left just smiling as she imagined what would become of Katania in the future. It was… She was…

Valerie didn’t have a word for what she felt, but it was warm, yet sickening and came from deep within herself, putting a swift end to her reverie. She put on a sinister snarl, masking all traces of that unsettling feeling. She knelt down by Katania, and rolled her onto her back, so she could place her hands over her sister’s chest, mouthing silent incantations to herself. Once she finished, and stood up straight again, Katania slowly opened her maroon eyes, her’s finding Valerie’s.

“Get up,” Valerie said.

Katania slowly and shakily rose to her feet. Her balance was appalling, and Valerie was incredibly close to punching her back to the ground again, just so she could rise back up in a less disgraceful manner. But she was listening to her. Despite the earlier attitude, she really was doing as Valerie had told her, as best as she could. Or, at least as best as she believed she could. That warm feeling emerged again, and Valerie almost growled in an attempt to scare it away. Katania was doing as much as she believed she could, but what she believed meant nothing. She was underachieving. She could do better. Of this, Valerie was certain.

“We’re not done,” Valerie said, as she walked away towards the closest settlement of humans she could smell.

Without a word, Katania fell into step beside her big sister.

Black Syndicate – Part One

Part one, because I don’t do chapters. Somewhat mature content follows, maybe? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s been a while since I posted an excerpt on my blog. Over two years even . . . So, since it’s NaNoWriMo, here’s something that may or may not be a garbage beginning to my novel. Enjoy! Or don’t . . . Your call.

~*~*~*~

There are certain perks that come with being Katania Morningstar, Thirteenth Princess of Hell. Having servants to tend to my every whim; getting preferential treatment from the other demons; being able to do whatever I want. So, to find myself standing before Father’s throne, on what can hardly be described as a trial, for the most absurd of reasons, there isn’t enough havoc in the world for me to wreak.

“Obscene and disgraceful behaviour,” they had said. “Actions unfit for a demonic princess,” they had said. I am a goddamn succubus! What purpose do I have in life besides being obscene?

“This is insanity!” My voice bounces off the dark walls of the throne room.

Black ropes bind my hands. If all they did were cut off the circulation, that would be irritating enough, but they tame my flood of magic from crashing down on each and every being in this chamber. I take some pride in knowing they do not snuff it out completely. But with guards lining the circular wall of the room, their Earth-inspired, but vastly superior rifles locking dead on to me, surrounding me in an execution waiting to happen, I wonder if it would take much of my magic to eradicate them all, and still have some left over to burn this palace to the ground.

There is an unmistakable kissing of teeth to my side. If I try hard enough, I can feel the chilling gaze of my eldest sister boring into the side of my head. I would sink my claws into her, and destroy her too, if not for these cursed restraints. But I hold back the urge to snarl at Vasilisa. I hold back to the urge to glimpse out the corner of my eye at any of my twelve sisters, looking on from the balcony around the back half of the room. They are spread out across it, and in the very corner of my vision, it’s impossible for me to block out the vague shape of Vasilisa, to my left. But I dare not look away from father, and break my unmoving, fettering glare.

At my outburst, Father merely droops his head some, red eyes barely open. With him slumped back against the blood red throne, his legs hanging over the ornate golden arm of it, the boredom practically exuding off him, I can only hope that this is some kind of sick and twisted joke. Something simply to infuriate me for a little while, and then care little about before the day is done. I wouldn’t even put it past the damned demon.

“What do you say I just banish you to the Earth realm for a little while, and we call it a day?” Father, Lucifer, the Devil, and the Lord of Hell says.

If not for his red eyes, and cracked, ashen grey skin, he could pass off as an angel. He has the large feathery wings to mark him as one of  God’s most loyal soldiers, but the inky black of them marks him as one of God’s strongest adversaries. He would look at least vaguely intimidating, if he wasn’t wearing one of those suits the humans like to wear, to appear important. It makes him look about as threatening as a common fiend who snatches babies out of cots.

“For what?” Father just opens his eyes slightly more, at my screech that would certainly put a banshee to shame. “As long as I continue to corrupt the souls of man, who cares how I choose to do it?”

“Your family cares,” Vasilisa says, her haughty voice surprisingly not making my ears bleed. “And when how you choose to conduct yourself brings shame to the royal family, banishment is far too tame a punishment.”

I dig my claws into my charcoal black palms, the black blood dripping on to the obsidian tiles. I focus on the sharp stinging in my palms, so as to keep my eyes forward, and not look up at the balcony and bring down my words of wrath. I don’t need to see the disappointment on the sisters I actually like.

“Dearest sister,” I hiss the words, pushing them out through grit teeth, “I suggest you silence yourself before I come up there and truly bring shame to you.”

It is no empty threat, but it could have far more weight without all of the precautions preventing my imminent rampage, and the ensuing grovelling and begging for my forgiveness.

The war hammer at my back is a mere deadweight.

The magic screaming in me to be released is but a caged animal.

My claws, always at their sharpest and ready to rend and shred, lack all lethality, bound in front of me.

Unless I want to get up close and personal, my venomous tail, and ram-like horns are completely useless, too. My sisters all have far more years of training on me, anyway; my father is just unfairly powerful; and there’s still the trivial issue of the guards.

“If you can manage that in this state,” Vasilisa says, in a tone that is far too close to one she would use on a peasant who disgusts her, “I might just show a small bit of pride for you. Anything to wash your shameful behaviour from my mind.”

Father’s gaze flicks up to Vasilisa for a moment, before returning to me, with his previous, ambivalence and boredom. I know he doesn’t care about me, and the feeling is mutual, but a lump still forms in my throat. The only thing keeping the tears from falling from my silver, irisless eyes is knowing how much more harm it would do, than good.

So we stare at each other. Vasilisa’s stupid comment hanging in the air, as neither Father nor I speak. I don’t mask my feelings, at all. I know I can get away with throwing my dirtiest snarl at him, like the filth he is, and I know I would be a pile of ashes, were I anyone else.

“You would banish your daughter to the realm of man, where halfbreed nephilim dwell, and vindictive angels oversee, for the mere fact that I like to play with my food?” I narrow my eyes at the ridiculousness of it all. I fully expect someone to shout that this is all just a ruse, and a stupid jest. But my heart thunders in my ears, and as no one meets my expectation, I wouldn’t doubt that it’s the loudest thing in the room. “Have you grown senile after such a long existence?”

“If all you did was play with your food—” Vasilisa starts.

With all that Vasilisa has to say, it’s clear to me that she’s the only one with any real problem. She’s the only one who can’t grasp the simple fact that I, as a succubus need to feed off humans. She’s the only one who disapproves of how I choose to have fun, during the process.

Well, I don’t care, and I’ve had enough of her shrill, infuriating voice. Instinct strikes, and not even the inconvenience of my bindings can contain the pulse of death that I send out, enveloping every being in the room. All the ropes can do is dull the effects. Instead of eradicating every last one of the lesser demons Father passes of as elite guards, they merely collapse onto the cold obsidian. Most are unmoving. Some try and fail at rising to all fours, like the worthless beings they are. To his credit, Father at least lifts his brow, in acknowledgement of my power.

Good. Let him know what I can do to him.

“Dearest sister,” my voice is quiet, my tone is poison, “unless you wish for me to tear this palace apart, whilst we fight to the death, then I suggest you shut your harlot, scum-hole of a mouth.”

Only now do I look up to the side, at my eldest sister shaking, as she holds on to the golden railings, her wide-eyed fury just as evident as mine.

“You little—!” She has the audacity to even open her mouth?

I delve deep into my infinite abyss of magic, feeling the unnatural resistance, trying to push me back. But I push on, and dig deep, and with far too large an amount for the task at hand, summon a flaming bow to levitate in the air in front of me. But just as the string of it pulls itself back, and a flaming arrow materialises, the form of the weapon falls to pieces, as it goes up in a small plume, and vanishes in black smoke.

Watching my needlessly proper sister duck behind the glass barrier of the banister would make me cry with laughter, any other time. If I actually managed to strike her, I may very have laughed, despite the situation. Around me, my other sisters look equally rattled, some on one knee, others using the railing as support. Once I get through this, I’ll make sure to apologise. But now, with the unconscious ‘guards’ no longer a hindrance, I turn back to my father, my back straight, head held high.

I delve into my pool once more, but not as deep, aware of the few recovering guards, and I send out one final, concentrated pulse of death. This time, focused on the guards, finishing them off. None of them struggle, as they become lifeless husks on the ground. If nothing else, they’ll have the privilege of being the first beings to survive one of my magical attacks, laced in absolute lethality. Even if they were dulled.

The corner of Father’s mouth quirks up ever so slightly. This is all just entertainment to him, isn’t it? He doesn’t bat an eye at my two attacks. I even managed to affect my sisters, even though I am the youngest . . . But then I am the strongest.

I take a deep breath in, through my nose, and race through all the scrambled thoughts in my head. I’ve talked myself out of worse situations before, I could talk myself out of this, too.

“Father . . . Majesty,” I force out, almost choking on the word, “think this through.” The thought of begging and grovelling before Father makes my stomach churn, but I am out of options at this point. “How would it look to banish a princess— your daughter, no less— over something so trivial? Demons would think of you not as an overseer who leads them, but a tyrant who . . .”

I can’t finish the rest. Not when a lazy grin works its way on to Father’s face. Not when he sits up, and leans forward, eating up my words, but I know it is not in the way I had intended.

“Go on, sweetheart,” Father drawls, in a way that sets my skin crawling. “A tyrant who what? Rules with an iron fist, and cares not what the scum of Hell think of me?” Father rises to his feet, and I curse my body for shivering. He starts down the dais, arms spread wide, as if showing me the scope of his reign, his control. “Let them call me tyrannical.” Another step down. “Let them curse my name for everything that goes wrong in their pitiful lives.”

His feet reaches my level, and with every step across the floor, the closer he gets to me, the urge to run grows stronger, deeper, and more unbearable. But I refuse to show it. I meet his smug grin, with my deadly calm, if only because a temper tantrum at this point has ‘exile’ written all over it. A good seven feet away Father stops, and raises his right hand; with a simple, echoing click, the guards I made sure I killed rise up once more, like clockwork, and point their rifles straight at me, like good little puppets.

“Father—”

“With the greatest of sincerity, I care not how you choose to please yourself in your own time.” I doubt he’s ever been sincere for a second in all his many days in Hell, but I dare not move a muscle. “But I am always welcome to the opportunity to teach my kin some respect.”

And then it hits me. My very core freezes. I’m positive my heart stops, if even for a second. The flames in my blood go out, and in a swift wave of panic, I no longer care about keeping up my bravado.

“It breaks my heart that my own daughter truly despises me, with her every waking breath.”

This is not a hearing.

“I dream of the day you will hang on to my every word, like a good little girl.”

This is not a trial.

“Perhaps some time away from me will teach you just how much of a loving, caring father I am.”

This is an excuse.

“Father,” I breath out, the breath stolen from me, “you can’t be serious.”

A circle of fire surrounds me, the edge of it just before Father’s feet. Within it, a five-pointed star, with me dead in its centre. This is his answer. And despite the flames, I have never felt colder.

I’m frozen in place, and not just out of the real, genuine, foreign fear coursing through my veins. My eyes bug wide, my mouth remains slightly ajar, and I can’t keep my bottom lip from quivering. A flood of thoughts invade my mind, and I can’t think straight. My heart feels like it will burst out of my chest, and I feel like I’m falling through Hell, to some place, even further down. And then I blink, and my father comes into my vision again.

No.

No!

“I’m sorry!” It pains me. “I’m truly deeply sorry!” Father’s face lights up in delight. “I’ll be loyal!” I want to kill myself. “I’ll be respectful!” I want to throw up the contents of my stomach. “I’ll be a good girl and do everything you tell me!” I didn’t realise I was crying, but as my voice cracks, the blurry vision and the wetness riding down my cheeks make sense. I’m crying. I’m crying in front of my father, and my sisters, but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Nothing matters except staying here. “I’ll beg! I’ll get down on my knees and beg!” Dignity is a small price to pay.

“Oh, darling,” Father says, his eyebrows arched as he stands at the edge of the flaming pentagram, “you’re making me want to change my mind.” He shoots me an apologetic smile and for the briefest of moments, I allow myself to hope. “Well, okay.”

Through the wall of tears and shame, my lips start to pull up at the corners.

“Beg.”

I know I suggested it, but even so, where my blood was ice moments before, it now burns hotter than the fiery pits of Hell. I clench my jaw tight, keeping the words locked behind my fangs. Father’s grin, though . . . Those perfect white teeth just begging me to rip them out . . . The bastard is enjoying this. Making his daughter suffer. I know I can be difficult, but this is just wrong. Even to a demonic level.

But I have to. Damn it all, I do. I abandon the last tiny shred of pride I have, and slowly fall to my knees. I am only vaguely aware of my sisters watching this farce, from atop the balcony, but they don’t matter in the slightest right now. All there is is me, Father, and how low I have to go to appease his sick amusement.

A dark, soul-breaking chuckle escapes from him, and I can only look to the floor. Heartless, I can’t help but think. Heartless filth. But it would save me the trouble of ripping it out, myself, when I get my revenge. As if to prove the point, an invisible force pushes down on my shoulders, pushing me down to all fours, like a goddamned hellhound.

This is a lesson.

“I don’t hear begging.”

I want to snarl at the floor. I want to let out  a growl so bestial that even Father would think twice about punishing me. Considering my position, I’m glad I hold my tongue. “Please Father,” I can barely croak out, “I beg of you; allow me to stand at your side, and serve you as your loyal daughter.” I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him, and feed his remains to the hellhounds!

“Damn. If only you had meant that, I just might have listened.”

“I do!” I shut my eyes tightly, trying not to curse his name, and everything else about him, even in my head.

Damn him!

“I pledge my life to you!”

Damn him! Damn him!

I clench my teeth. “I won’t ever question you again!” I scream at the top of my voice.

Damn you, Satan! Damn you, Lucifer! Damn you, Father of Lies!

I sob, tears falling on to the obsidian floor. As if tugged by the strings of a marionette, I’m pulled up straight, my heart jumping near out of my chest, as I find Father standing barely an arm’s length away from me, inside the pentagram with me. I only just reach his shoulders. I was always the smallest sibling, but I’ve never felt as small as I do now.

He looks down at me, fire flickering in his eyes. I can see how he wants to break me, destroy my ego, and replace it with a loyal hound, just for his amusement. Not for the first time, and certainly not the last, I can only feel undiluted, unrestrained hate for him, with every fibre of my being.

He leans down, and whispers in my ear, “How does a thousand years sound, precious?”

Fear courses through me, making my black heart beat faster, and my voice catch in my throat. This is happening. This is really happening. He pulls back, ruffling my head of blood red hair, that falls to my chest, dancing with the flames. I’m just a child in his eyes. Maybe even in the eyes of my sisters, despite the many centuries I have lived, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe they have all been punished for absolutely nothing, in such a cruel way.

“Actually, we’ll make it two thousand,” he says. I don’t have the will or the energy to register the words. I don’t know what I am supposed to feel. “We’ll miss you.” With a wink, he steps through space again, reappearing just outside of the pentagram.

“Father,” I move my mouth, but I don’t even know if any sound comes out. It doesn’t matter, anymore.

The flaming lines of the pentagram erupt in flames, and the last thing I see is Father’s smug face, just beyond the wall of flames, waving to me, before my entire world is engulfed in a sea of orange, blazing hot hellfire.

Mindless Rambling Crap

I’m totally not running out of ideas for titles. I’m just stating facts.

So… I think I’m at the point where I can be productive again.

Now wait. Before anyone rolls their eyes or laughs at the idea of me doing anything even remotely useful, where writing is concerned, I truly, honestly, 100% believe I am at a point where I can raise a big middle finger to the unproductive abyss in my mind, and actually write.

What’s so different now? Why, good question hypothetical reader. What’s different now, is the fact that I’m now working towards a Creative Writing degree. You know… That super useful degree that will open doors for me, whatever job I apply to… right? Whatever the case, now writing isn’t just a passion of mine that I don’t have the effort to actually do. Now it’s something that I’ll actually have to do, and I don’t think that will take too much fun out of it. But even if it does, trying to write is hell, anyway, as I’m sure you all know, so it’s hard to make hell any worse.

Speaking of Hell… I promise I’m not going somewhere weird with this… Well, not too weird.

But yes… Hell… It wouldn’t be a proper update post of mine if I didn’t tell you I’ve revamped my story like mad. I couldn’t tell you a finalised, or even simplified plot even if I wanted to, but now one of the main characters, and her family are all demons. The kin of Satan, to be specific. Because why wouldn’t they be? Why wouldn’t I just randomly decide to make them demons? I changed all of their names to be more… “fitting”, of course. Changed their personalities to be more fitting, of course. I’ve changed their characters to be… Alright. They’re pretty much not the same characters anymore. Not even spiritually, besides a few of them.

So there’s that. And since it’s October, I may as well not-so-subtly force in a little NaNoWriMo reminder. I’ve epically failed the past three years, but if nothing else, doing NaNoWriMo has pushed forward my story, and what I want to do with it… The only issue is trying to stop that idea ball from rolling, so I don’t find myself shoving things in that make no sense. So, this year I’ll be writing my super-villain/demon hybrid mess of a story, that will totally make sense, even without a plan, and we’ll see where that takes me. Probably back to the drawing board, but who knows? Maybe the next time I restart this story, I’ll inexplicably make everyone androids, or some such. I don’t know. I wouldn’t put it past me.

I don’t know whether I find my lax attitude amusing and worrying, at this point. And if you clicked on this post, after reading that title, then I’m sorry. You were warned. This boring as hell rambling is all you get…

Well, I’ll be back soon, with some more super exciting updates! (I can’t promise any of that).

Till next time (hopefully not ten months down the line).

Laurence out.

The 2016 Plan

First thing’s first. My productivity is still as terrible as ever.

Alright. Good. We’ve got that obligatory and obvious statement out of the way.

Now, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions . . . ever, but I was browsing one of my usual forums yesterday, and came across a thread for New Year’s resolutions, and basically just thought “Sure. Why not?” That lax attitude probably isn’t the right frame of mind to be in when “committing” to a New Year’s resolution, especially considering mine is to write every day, even if it’s just one sentence. I don’t think extending that goal to this blog would be a good idea, though, because let’s be real, that will fail faster than you can say “Seven month break”.

I do still want to do something for this blog, like some of the things I said in my last post, that I won’t bother repeating, because I can only run this blog on nothing but my updates for so long. I mean, now that I have a laptop that isn’t trash, I should be able to be more active . . . I mean, I probably won’t be, but I could be. I could try to post daily, with small excerpts, my complaining that you’ll surely not get sick of, and the occasional, somewhat helpful post . . . In actual fact, I’ll probably just toss an old excerpt at the blog to show off my awful early writing, and cover for my laziness to produce actual content, and even then, I’ll probably get lazy with that, too.

At least you can’t say I’m not transparent.

Well, happy New Year to you all, and let’s make 2016 the year of killer productivity!

And let’s hope we all forget I said that, when it becomes hilariously untrue . . .

Until next time.

Laurence out.

Writing Woes And Blogging Blunders

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog of daily postings and killer productivity!

I’m desperately trying to reign in my urge to be self-deprecating here, because there is so much material I could use for that. There’s my monstrously awful writing productivity, that should come as no surprise to anyone, at this point. There’s the status of my current work in progress, that no one should be surprised to know is nowhere near completed. There’s my lack of activity on this blog, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Although, considering a previous post, I feel inclined to say “Seven months? What do you mean? I’ve been here the whole time!” Ah, and there’s also the fact that even though I’ve previously said that I didn’t want to rely on writing events to get things done, considering it’s now the 23rd of October, with little over a week until NaNoWriMo 2015, I think it comes as no surprise to anyone to know that that has not been working out.

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I suppose this will just be a quick update post. So, hi. I’m not dead. My writing on the other hand . . . That might need a little defibrillating action to get up and running again. I’ve decided to work on the prequels of the story I was working on the last time you all saw me, because it was always nagging at me that I didn’t want to end up writing about things that had already technically happened in my universe. I want to say this is it. I want to say that this is without a doubt, one hundred percent, sure as the sweltering, burning flames of the fiery pits of hell, the final time I’m going to abandon one plot to work on another, and start again, without even getting halfway through the first draft. But I know me, so as much as I believe it, and as sure as I am about it, I wouldn’t bet my money on it. So, what I will say is that I feel very positive about the direction I’m now taking things.

There. Not a promise to myself that has a high probability of being broken.

As for this blog . . . I don’t know. I mean, I can continue with the updates of my nonexistent writing progress (it is incredibly difficult to hold back the self-deprecation). I’d like to resume giving advice (or what passes for it on this blog) again. I haven’t got many usable excerpts to post, but it can’t be a bad idea to give a little more variety to the blog. And I’ve been playing with the idea of reviewing books, but three things always jump out of me with that idea; one, that requires me to read more than one book every few months; two, that requires me to remember to take notes, which I have done before, albeit in very few of the reviews I’ve written on Goodreads; three, that requires me to not find the idea of people taking on the word of a guy who writes like a dying snail, and reads as frequently as the changing of the seasons, insanely laughable . . .

Seriously. This talking crap about myself has to be an instinct or something.

So, to sum up:

  • Not dead.
  • Writing may or may not be going somewhere good.
  • Thinking of what on earth is going on with this here blog of mine.

Swell.

I want to say I’ll be back soon, but let’s stick with the current formula, over a phrase that would be absurd coming from this absentee blogger of seven months.

Until next time.

Laurence out.

Characters: Likeability Verses Interest

I have no doubt that this is just a personal preference. In fact, this is going to be a pretty one-sided argument.

Fair? Don’t know the meaning of the word.

So, whenever I see someone ask on forums whether their characters are likeable or not, I always respond by saying they should worry less about making their characters likeable, and more about making them interesting. I know this is a personal preference because in books where interesting characters do some pretty morally questionable things, I’ve seen this reflected in some people’s reviews, essentially ruining the whole book for those particular readers. One of my favourite books . . . Actually, almost every one of my favourite books have morally questionable, or just downright morally defunct characters. Let’s not look into what that says about me, and instead look at how this would have without a doubt turned some people off. Nevertheless, I still think trying to alter a character to make them likeable, just for the sake of not offending anyone, would only end up harming the book more.

At this point, I think you all know what side I’m advocating for. I’ve read books where characters were clearly written to be likeable, even in situations where it would have made more sense to strip away some of those morals and have them make decisions that wouldn’t make them out to be saints. I’ve read books with characters who were the epitome of moral behaviour, and while that would theoretically make that character likeable, not only does it make them uninteresting, but it also makes them unbelievably annoying. The most unbelievably, annoying and boring characters I have ever read.

If a character needs to lie, or steal, or even go so far as to kill, in order to progress, and it’s within character for them to do so, then let them. Rather than finding some contrived way to keep a character pure and innocent, find ways to keep them interesting and engaging. I won’t deny the importance of likeability, but I feel as if writing in order to make them likeable isn’t the way to achieve that. You wouldn’t write a book with the sole intention of making it marketable, so don’t write your characters that way, either.

Look at characters like Loki from the Thor movies. What is there to like about him? Spoiler alert: He’s betrayed his brother numerous times, tried to kill his father, if I remember correctly. If I don’t remember correctly, well, he’s still been one hell of a problem child. He tried to take over the world with an alien army, and wherever he goes, mayhem generally follows. Sounds like a complete bastard, right? And yet, for some inexplicable reason, he’s insanely popular among the Marvel fandom . . . Mostly women . . . A lot of whom have crushes on him . . . It’d probably help to make your character attractive. In all seriousness, though, he’s probably even more popular than the actual heroes of the movies. It may be the case that he was written to be a lovable jerk, but I don’t believe that to be the case.

In any case, you see my point. The best characters aren’t written to be likeable. Their likeability should be something that comes naturally as a result of all their personality traits and actions coming together. If your character is the most interesting character to have ever been written, but due to some of their less favourable traits some readers still don’t like them, then that’s a shame, but don’t alter them based on them not being likeable to a few readers. To paraphrase one of my very first blog posts, screw what other people think and just write what you want . . . although if everyone ends up hating your character, then yeah . . . I give you permission to ignore all of this.

Anyway, just let the characters speak for themselves and there will be people who enjoy them for who they are. They may be absolutely loathsome as people, but the beauty about fiction is that you can love arseholes like Loki because they’re fictional.

You can’t please everybody, especially when it comes to any sort of creative art, like writing, so don’t try.

Until the next one, everyone.

Laurence out.