Happy day today! Got the edits back on Beacon’s Fury, the third book in my Potomac Shadows urban fantasy series, and made the final changes and uploaded the final version to Amazon. The book comes out on July 1, so grab a copy if you haven’t yet.
And if you need something to whet your appetite, here’s chapter 1 in all its glory. Enjoy the read and have a great day!
Beacon’s Fury, Chapter 1
THE ETHERIC GRID HAD NEVER FELT so oppressive. The electric blue sparks of energy flowing all around me carried a distinct sense of menace, even malice. The gridwork the threads were plugged into, the gridwork me and my friend Malcolm were following, was laid out in stark lines that offered neither comfort nor joy. Even though I was in my etheric form and had no body or means with which to sense it, my mind’s eye and other senses told me that it was colder than usual. The place stank like bitter copper and sickly-sweet, overripe tangerines.
In short, we weren’t in Kansas any more.
Malcolm, my friend, student, and boss all rolled into one complicated dude, coughed nearby. Well, actually, his etheric form did. His body and my body were far from here, safely encased in a warding dome beneath my friend Bonita’s secondhand maternity clothing store in Del Ray.
“What’s with the threads, Rachel? I’m having trouble holding onto one.” Malcolm coughed again.
Through the etheric weave flowing all around us, I felt him reaching out with his abilities to attempt and lasso one of the etheric threads of power and pull it into his will.
I nodded, trying to pull a few threads to myself. “This area of the grid is definitely A.D.R.”
“A.D.R.?” His etheric form coalesced into a reasonable match of his dark-skinned features. “The hell is that?”
“Oh, sorry. It’s something Bonita uses to describe some of her clients when they’re not due to have their baby but when they call her with worries or concerns. It stands for ‘ain’t doing right’.”
His etheric form stared at mine and then chuckled. “Hey, that’s pretty good. I’ll have to remember that.”
“Yeah.” I frowned, focusing on the threads I had pulled into my mind’s eye. I checked one, and then methodically checked the others, attempting to confirm my suspicions. “Charity, what do you make of this?” I suspected I knew, but I figured a second opinion wouldn’t hurt.
The other presence with me in the etherics, my strange friend Charity, formed into the shape of an old book by my side. Charity is, well…it’s a long story, but Charity used to be like me, a Beacon dedicated to guiding lost souls home to the Holding, a waypoint between life and whatever comes after.
I am uncertain, Beacon Rachel. The etheric threads here do seem off. Quite an unusual sensation.
I paused in my drifting along one of the ley lines. “No kidding. It’s like the threads around here have…” I fished around in my mind for a word, but the best I could come up with was “…spoiled.”
“More like rotted. I’m not getting much power out of the threads I’m managing to catch.” Malcolm gestured toward the threads all around us. “I mean, I’m sure you and Charity are able to pull in a lot more threads than me and maybe aren’t feeling the difference, but just the couple I’ve managed to grab feel far less powerful than the ones we get when we’re back in our bodies on good old Earth.”
He opened his right hand and focused. He shifted the etheric energies and a little blue-tinged bronze flame lit up inside his palm.
I quirked an eyebrow at him. “Are you holding back?”
His dark eyes met mine. “Nope, this is the best I’ve got. These threads just don’t hold the juice I’m used to.”
I frowned, considering that. “Like they’ve been spoiled.”
Or drained. The etheric form of Charity’s book drifted ahead of me, following along one of ley grid lines and then taking a 90 degree turn to the left and then moving forward. Follow me. I sense something ahead, a nexus of some sort that might explain the power drain around here.
I didn’t hope to understand everything Charity said. She had been a Beacon some two hundred years before me, and had a ton more experience weaving the threads. “Lead the way, my friend.”
Malcolm’s etheric form slid up next to me and moved at my pace. “I still can’t quite accept that we’re interacting with the soul of an ancient Beacon trapped inside a book.”
Charity chuckled. Not trapped, Malcolm. I told you. My physical body was dying, and some of my fellow Weavers figured out how to build a ley matrix inside a book for my soul, my consciousness, and since I was afraid to die, I jumped at the offer.
Malcolm snorted. “Literally jumped, yeah? Like right between the covers.”
A ghostly pair of lips formed on the cover of Charity’s book, and curved into a smile, but then faltered as Charity’s etheric form floated close to a strange dark mass, a rough cylinder connected to one of the ley threads with thick ropes of blackened threads.
I stared at it, unable to comprehend what I was looking at. “What is that?”
Malcolm slid in next to me. “Shit’s messed up, yo.”
Charity floated closer to the mass, and sent out tentative feelers through the etherics.
I focused and reached out as well, though, like Malcolm, I found that the threads around here were thin and nearly lifeless, a marked contrast to the other threads I had so often used. “This is really weird, you guys.” I muttered.
Indeed. I have never seen such a thing before. Charity’s tendrils of power roamed around the mass, touching it gently here and there. But I recall some of my colleagues debating the possibility of such a thing existing.
Malcolm’s etheric form crossed his arms. “Well, what is it, theoretically?”
Charity sighed. It’s…well. Think of it as a transfer box.
That raised the suspicious hackles on my etheric form. “Transfer box? Like power transfer?”
Charity’s lips smiled. Exactly right. Someone has created this conduit here to transfer energy from the ley grid toward…somewhere else. I don’t know where.
“Can we find out where?” I asked, just as Malcolm asked, “How much power?”
Charity paused, as if taking the two questions in stride. How much power is unknown. My initial scan of the conduit suggests that it has been here for some time, at least two months, perhaps more.
I tried to think about the last few months working with the ley grids. “I don’t think I’ve ventured out this far, though…” I frowned and called up my old etheric map, a handy thing I created some time ago while training with my sometime mentor, full-time thorn in my side, Miss Chin. “I wanna say I’ve been this way on the grid before, but…”
I focused on the map I had created of the etheric grid, and started scanning for the waypoints I generally create when wandering around the etheric threads with no particular destination in mind. It was good to wander sometimes, and it was a great way to train with Charity and Malcolm.
“I don’t think I’ve…wait.” A tug of remembrance pushed me toward one of the first waypoints I had created on my mind map. I called it up and studied it in comparison to the location of the black conduit cruelly plugged into the ley grid.
Sure enough, I had wandered this way before. Way back when I was first getting used to the ley grid and the threads, and had wandered around, lost in the beauty of the grid. I had started to sense some sort of darkness in the grid, but had to leave a waypoint so that I could find my way back to investigate further.
Shows how busy I’ve been lately, since I hadn’t gotten back until just now.
“I’ve been here before. A few months ago, actually. I don’t remember this conduit being here, though.”
Charity’s lips drooped into a frown. No, I don’t think you would have noticed. It must have been tiny when you first encountered it, or first thought you had encountered it.
“It’s also possible it was here all along and I just wasn’t attuned enough to the threads to understand what I was even looking at.” I moved my etheric form closer to Charity and focused my threads on the conduit too. It was a dense weaving of etheric threads bent to some sinister purpose.
“So why would someone want to pull energy out of the grid?” Malcom glided over and joined us next to the conduit.
Charity finished her slow circle of the conduit and sighed. The main reason my colleagues postulated was that one would drain power off the main grid in order to fuel either a special project, or a small grid of one’s own.
Malcolm frowned “What?”
I bit my lip, then said, “I bet that’s it.”
Malcolm focused on me. “What’s it?”
I reached out and shifted my senses and then focused on the energy aura of the conduit. At first all I saw was the customary light blue light, but more focused examination revealed what I had feared I’d see. I swore under my breath. “The Spinner. Has to be.”
Malcolm offered his own choice swear. “Ugh. Not that dickwad again!”
Charity’s lips curved up into a grin. ‘Dickwad’. I don’t believe I’ve heard that particular turn of phrase before.
Even given the situation, I caught the mirth in her etheric tone. “Get used to it. Malcolm knows a whole slew of phrases like that.”
I sensed Malcolm’s shifting energies well before he gasped in surprise. “Ah, shit.”
I instinctively grabbed at a few threads to pull them close to do my will at a moment’s need. “What do you feel, Malcolm?”
He had a gift for sending danger through the etherics, a gift that I had started to train him with. Miss Chin had taken to Malcolm with a will, and had ferociously trained him up in ways I couldn’t.
I nudged Malcolm’s etheric form with my own. “What do your Warden’s senses tell you?”
He focused on me, a mix of anger and wonder marked on his etheric face. “Geists. A lot of them.”
Read the continuing story of Rachel and her allies in Beacon’s Fury, available July 1!