And here's a preview of Eternal Witch.
Lucien Lemoine twirled a ribbon between his fingers. The edges frayed, the coloring no longer a deep sapphire…to some it would seem ugly, insignificant. Nevertheless, to him it was the last thing that touched his daughter before she disappeared—making it priceless. She had been but a small lass of four at the time of her abduction and Lucien could but dream of the young woman Lucinda had grown into. The comfort of her immortality was the only thing that allowed him to go on.
At first Lucien, suspected vampires were behind the abduction. The kidnapper, a woman, had screamed, “Revenge is mine…” in an ancient dialect before disappearing with his only child. Her shrill high-pitched voice still echoed in the cavern of his mind. Soon enough he’d discovered vampires were innocent, as innocent as vamps could be. Upon returning to their room for reinforcements, Lucien had found Lucinda’s mother, Elizabeth, had disappeared as well.
It was then when Lucien had time to stop and think he figured out who was behind it all…an enchantress. Very few knew the tongue of long ago, and in order to infiltrate Eternal Valley and his personal keep magic, powerful magic had to be used.
A moan from the corner tore him from his reflections. At his supernatural speed, he kneeled beside a hay-filled mattress. A woman, a beautiful lady lay upon the bed…her skin sickly pale, wet hair around her crown flattened to her skin from the feverish sweats that plagued her. The soft floral scent of peony mingled with her essence that enveloped him like an invisible blanket in the air around him. Only now, there was a difference. The floral scent was less poignant, her essence wasn’t as strong. He hoped it was simply because she was ill and not an indication of something worse. She groaned again. Lucien took the cloth from the bowl of water on the floor, wrung it out, and then carefully bathed her face. She quieted.
When she was still, he unwrapped the bandage on her right arm. A gasp of fear and horror escaped Lucien when he saw the abrasions were no longer puckered and red. Strips of dark blue and black created snakelike tendrils in a web from the broken skin of her wounds, her left arm revealed the same ghastly patterns. The Blue Death, as it was called, would slowly kill off her body. It was a painful agonizing experience. Only one time in all of Lucien’s years had he seen it’s effects. Now as it infected Aisleen emotions that had merely been peaking since he met her culminated together in one giant knot in his stomach. Blue Death came from wounds inflicted by venomous animals tainted by magic and only infected those blessed with the same skill. Worse still...there was no cure.
Guilt jumped out and plagued Lucien from his emotional knot . Why did I leave? I should have got to her sooner. Curse that beast! The thoughts repeated over and over in his mind until they became one tortuous stream of self-deprecation. The whole scene played out in his mind only adding to the torture. There before him stood the NighKat scaling the tree that Lucinda had climbed. The predator had been toying with her. The defensive wounds on Aisleen’s forearms had proven that. Just as the beast made its move to strike he jumped, attacked in midair, and broke its neck then dropped the body to the ground. Aisleen had clung to him as soon as he reached her. He wished he were magic so he could take those wounds upon himself instead of the compassionate woman who had saved him--when she had every right to leave him to his fate.
Lucien laid a crisp white bandage over the wound, full well knowing it would need replacement much too soon. Despair greater than he had ever known forced him to his knees, burying his face in the blanket that covered her chest. The weakness of her special fragrance only added to his misery.
“Please hear me Mother….” He started to pray then stopped knowing she would not answer. The last time the Mother Goddess had spoke to him was after he had wiped out her beloved Familial Witches…Aisleen’s coven, “Only the Familial Witch that knows you as an eternal, sees you as a man, and accepts you as both will restore your daughter and your heart.”Those last words were her prophesy and his curse. The Mother hadn’t appeared to him or answered since. Nevertheless, this was his punishment…not Aisleen’s.
With the seed of knowledge that the Goddess loved Aisleen, courage sprouted from the hope within him. Dark worry filled eyes ran through Aisleen’s collection of ancient tomes as he sought out what he knew the Mother could not ignore. Calloused fingers inched along the shelf that was much too far for Aisleen’s natural reach Lucien found it. He smiled as he stretched his farthest. Cunning vixen probably did it on purpose to hide its importance.
Unsure if he could even open it Lucien ran his hand along the cover. His fingers brushed the same peony that represented Aisleen printed on the top of the leather binding, the distinct smell rose in the air, while his own living birthmark of lightning bolts and a half moon burned on the skin of his chest. Agony overtook him as the Peony shined…still he did not withdraw his hand. Then the pain left him, the book opened, and the pages turned of their own accord. Lucien looked on in shock as the magic of the Familial Witch worked before his eyes.
A reverent ghostlike calm filled the atmosphere of the cottage as the pages slowed, fluttered, and then stopped. There in front of him was the very spell he sought:
Summoning the Mother Goddess.
Lucky for Lucien being alive for two centuries meant he had learned a thing or two. The list of ingredients, he could figure out. Aisleen’s organization was impeccable. Each of her herb’s was stored in alphabetical order without labels. His eyes sought her offering his approval. But she lay still…deathlike.
Eyes back on the book, he began to read the incantation and ingredients. When finished, he gathered the supplies, only stopping to look at Aisleen one more time before going outside. Snow covered the ground in a blanket of deathly cold. The mist Trinity Forest was known for hovered just above the snow pack. His pace quickened to the spot just beyond her crude fence where the fog cleared as though if magic.
Lucien walked a wide berth, dragging a stick creating a circle in the snow. Still using the same crude tool, he drew lines within the sphere creating five points, identical to the symbols in Aisleen’s book. On top of the cover, he pinched and folded in the powdered ingredients from her herb storage. Then sprinkled the mixture at the top of each point before finally kneeling before the top, and sprinkling the leftovers of the powder…he ripped his shirt open revealing his mark of the Goddess and spoke the enchantment.
“I call upon my creator,
She who touched me,
She who knows me,
She who loved me.
Hear me great Goddess…
I implore thy mercy
And beseech thy presence.”
Burning pain erupted from his living tattoo. Each lightning bolt seemed to radiate a vibrating sting while the half moon simply blazed continually. The ache caused a sheen of sweat upon his forehead and he leaned forward with his fists clenched refusing to scream. Then as abruptly as it began, he was released. Unable to find the strength to stay upright he fell in the snow. Wet cold flakes relieved his burnt chest. Laying there it occurred to him that he didn’t even hesitate using the language of magic…of the beautiful yet deceitful enchantresses. They who possessed the power to snare the unsuspecting in deadly traps using their guile and physical beauty, they who preyed on the fear and insecurities of mortal and immortal alike, they who took his only daughter away causing him his greatest heartache. Familial Witches were natural and kind…calling upon their surroundings to fuel their magic. Their only motivation was to relieve others of illness, plight or to ease their burdens. It was there tongue as well. Once again, he had grouped two very different beings into one prejudice.
Ethereal stillness surrounded him as he moved up to his knees. There was a chance The Mother would banish him for calling upon her…but she couldn’t refuse this summons. The spell called for a symbol of binding, or unity, such as a witch of a coven would use a cord. Lucien’s symbol was his birthmark—that which bound him to the Mother unequivocally. Mysteriously, he was unafraid of his potential punishment…only thinking of Aisleen instead.
The air above the circle of symbols he’d created distorted. If it wasn’t for his heightened vision, he may not have seen it. Then one flake after another floated upward, slowly at first, eventually gaining speed as more and more joined into a beautiful tornado. Finally, a silhouette appeared and there before him in all her glory was the Mother Goddess.
Eyes to the ground, Lucien dared not lift them. He couldn’t bare to look upon her face. His breath came out in pants as he struggled with the relief that Aisleen may have a chance now.
“Do not cower before me, my son. I will not harm you,” she promised. Her voice was enchanting in its sweetness and frightening in its strength. Anyone who heard it knew she held the power to both create and destroy.
Slowly, showing his utmost respect, Lucien lifted his head.
Once again, her beauty overwhelmed him as every time before. Long tresses so black almost appearing turquoise formed behind her like a cape of protection. Rose and white tinted robes fitted around her shoulders and chest then billowed outward to fall around her in soft waves. Within the beauty of her ghostly face lie the same penetrating emerald eyes as Aisleen. An overwhelming sensation of comfort and love enveloped him. It was a feeling he knew from being in her graces. A feeling he hadn’t felt in so long the joy was indescribable. Even knowing she was not displeased, he still could not look into her eyes for he wanted to see another’s green gaze much more. This thought confused and astonished him.
“Well my son, haven’t you become resourceful?” She said floating around within the sphere. He was unable to reply. After a slow inspection, she stopped in front of him.
“Your silence is shocking. Before you would never hesitate when speaking to me… but now only quiet….most intriguing. While I can easily see what ails you, I want to hear it from your lips. Go ahead my child; tell me what you would ask of me.”
The warm words gave him courage, “Great Mother…I ask not something for myself but for she whom I have hurt just as much as I injured you.” He paused, trying desperately to swallow the lump that formed when the words he must say appeared in his mind’s eye. “It’s Aisleen…she’s dying. Please help her…I’ll do anything.” He finished on a gasp and finally looked her in the eye.
Greenery filled his vision as the Mother looked into his soul. When she did this, it was both painful and thrilling. Like the sensation of falling only to realize at the end, great pain awaited. One other time, experienced the inspection…when he had asked for his daughter’s location. The answer then had been a disappointing no. Green faded to white as the snow-covered landscape seeped back into his vision. Unable to kneel any longer, he fell over again in the snow and allowed exhaustion to claim him.
To his shock, she approached and as her foot stepped beyond the bounds of the circle, she made footprints in the snow. Never in all his time had in this realm had she ever appeared to him in a mortal form. Yet there she was. Adding to his dismay, she was a spitting image of Aisleen. From the flowing midnight tresses to the crimson red lips, long delicate fingers reached down but with the strength of a divinity helped him to his feet.
Much taller than the Mother in this form Lucien, was unsure what to do…kneel or stand…speak or stay silent.
She looked up at him, ran her blood red finger nail along his jaw and spoke, “I feel your confusion. Why I revealed myself to you in this form is unimportant right now. Know this my son, Aisleen; I created exactly in my image for a reason. As for saving her…I promise you will find it. But it will require something from you.”
“Anything…” Lucien promised again, and renewed hope for Aisleen’s survival blossomed in his heart.
“I’m pleased with your growth my child. All I ask of you is to be more.” A wolf howled in the background and on instinct, Lucien assumed a protective stance in front of the Mother. The echo of the words still clung on the air, but The Mother Goddess had vanished.
The Familial Witch
By Bri Clark
After losing her entire coven at the hands of the Eternals, Aisleen is the last of her kind. She retreats from the world to Trinity Forest where she is giving the opportunity of a lifetime, or perhaps a test of principles. It’s there she discovers the man she heals is the Eternal that wiped out her people. Although she is bound as a healer, she could be creative in her revenge. Aisleen knows who and what Lucien his…but does not speak of it. There can be no future with Lucien for she can only be with a mortal man. Even if she wanted to be with him, can she forgive the man that caused the genocide of her people?
Lucien must act quickly for the survival of his clan is at stake. However, Aisleen’s ethereal beauty and emerald eyes keep pushing those thoughts far from his mind. Determined to find out what secret she hides, he prolongs his time with her. When his people need him most what will he choose…duty, desire, or will he make his own fate?
You can choose love but you can’t choose destiny.
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About the Author:
Bri Clark is a real example of redemption and renewal. Growing penniless in the South, Bri learned street smarts while caring for her brother in a broken home. She watched her mother work several jobs to care for their small family. Once her brother could fend for himself, Bri moved on to a series of bad choices including leaving school and living on her own.
Rebelliousness was a strong understatement to describe those formative years. As a teenager, her wakeup call came from a fight with brass knuckles and a judge that gave her a choice of shaping up or spending time in jail. She took that opportunity and found a way to moved up from the streets. She ended up co-owning an extremely successful construction business. She lived the high life until the real estate crash when she lost everything.
She moved west and found herself living with her husband and 4 kids in a 900 square foot apartment. She now fills her time, writing, blogging, leading a group of frugal shoppers and sharing her southern culture. Her unique background gives her writing a raw sensibility. She understands what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles. She often tells friends, “I can do poor. I’m good at poor. It’s prosperity that I’m not used to.”
Bri and her husband Chris live in Boise. Bri is known as the Belle of Boise for her true southern accent, bold demeanor and hospitable nature.
Bri boasts several positions in the publishing industry. An author, professional reviewer, blogger, and literary strategist she enjoys all aspects of her career from the creation of story to the branding and marketing needed to make her books successful.
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