Tag Archive: A-Z Blog

A Cold Spring–Episode 16: Pilgrimage


Before we get to Episode 16:

Zoraida Grey is up for a RONE Award!! Voting for the Long Paranormal category in Week 2  begins on April 24, but you need to register to vote. Go to www.indtale.com and Click the Subscribe button at the top of the page. You can opt in or out of additional emails and the whole thing is FREE. You will get an email to confirm your subscription. Be sure to do that to be eligible to vote.

Voting for week 1 is under way. To vote, go to www.indtale.com and from the menu bar select InD’Scribe/Rones >2017 Rone Awards > 2017 Rone Awards Week 1. You will be prompted to register if you have not already done so. It’s free and easy.

You have plenty of time to read these short works and decide who to vote for. I recommend these three books in the Novella category now under consideration in Week 1:

Novella

  •             Barbara Bettis: The Lady of the Forest
  •             Becky Lower: A Regency Yuletide
  •             Sharon Buchbinder: The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle

The Rone is a prestigious award and Reader voting is only the first step in the process. A limited number of books will progress to the next level. YOUR vote might make a huge difference. Please take a few minutes to support writers who publish independently and with small publishers.

If you have not read Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones–now is a great time. Grab a copy HERE and if you enjoy it, please vote for her in Week 2.

“A Cold Spring”

Need to catch up with the story?

Download Episodes 1-13 HERE or read in the file below.

Episode 14: Now I Wait

Episode 15: Old Crows and Offerings

A Cold Spring 1_13

Episode 16: Pilgrimage

“Allium, you can’t go.” Mayebelle flattens herself against the door as if she means to stop me with bodily force.

 

“That stone was inside the castle, Mayebelle—Inside.” I jam a blanket into my worn duffle bag along with underwear and woolen socks.

 

“It’s such a long way, and you won’t be able to travel quickly. Not in your condition.”

“I can be in Highmoor Valley in four days.” I pick up a sweater and push it into the bag.

 

“We don’t know what might be out there. Beyond the boundary.” Mayebelle casts a fear-filled eye out the window. “Maddock would come here—if he could.”

 

“He may be hurt. He may need help.”

 

“And just what are a cripple and a pregnant woman going to do about that?”

 

After Mayebelle found me babbling on the road, we lingered in Highmoor Valley for weeks––hoping the castle would pop into existence again. At last, Mayebelle convinced me to return with her to her home. I had just enough sense left to lay a protective boundary just beyond the fringe of trees encircling her plot of land. Neither of us has ventured beyond it since.

 

I always intended to go back. As little Petunia, Lavender, or Felicity grew, I abandoned the idea of returning until she was born.

 

The witch stone simmers in my hand, warm and pulsing with energy.  I string it with a jute cord and slip it over my head. The stone nestles between my breasts.

 

“I’m going, Mayebelle. You don’t have to come. I know how hard it is for you to go . . .outside. I understand.” I settle the stiff woolen poncho over my shoulders and hoist the duffel bag.

 

“What if the baby comes while you’re on the road?”

 

“I’ll be back before then.” I waddle out the door, muffling the raw spring wind with a scarf around my face. Little Abbie or Betty or Celeste taps softly beneath my rib cage––encouragement, I think.

 

The sun is already westering, but I have to get started.  Before I reach the gate, Mayebelle’s hoarse voice calls from the door of her cozy croft.

“Alright, you stubborn gobshite. You can’t go alone. Wait while I pack.  You’ve run off without provisions and I’ll have to leave food for Pyewacket.”

 

To my over excited senses, Mayebelle wastes precious time. She moves as slowly as sap while I dance with impatience.

 

“I’m not waiting. You can catch up.”

 

The garden gate, damp and swollen, sticks stubbornly closed. I yank it with both hands, suddenly desperate to escape this safe, stagnant place. Why did I delay? What if I’m already too late?

 

The gate opens with a creak of wet wood and I do my best to hurry along the gloomy, rain-drenched road. The gate latch snaps behind me and padding footsteps grow louder.

 

Mayebelle catches up to me easily, despite her twisted, ice-burned legs.  She limps to my side and puts a supporting hand under my arm. “At least I won’t slow you down. You can’t go any faster than I can.”

 

I’m glad the scarf hides my face. I would hate for her to see how happy I am she’s with me––how relieved I won’t be alone when I look down on Highmoor Valley once again.

A black crow rides the cold wind beneath the lowering clouds. His harsh cry, distant but clear, falls with the mist of rain.

 

“Hurry,” he calls. “Time is changing.”

 

Stay Tuned for Episode 17: Quarried Stones

 

A Cold Spring–Episode 7: Goblets of Fine, Old Wine

Welcome to Sorchia’s Universe—A-Z Blog Edition.

This post marks the end of the first full week of the 2017 A-Z Blog Challenge. How’s it going? Be sure to leave comments and Likes on the posts you visit–including this one.

Have you missed an episode? Here are posts to the Story So Far.

Episode 1: A Cherry Tomato

Episode 2: Burning!

Episode 3: Coils of Enchantment

Episode 4: Down, Down, Down

Episode 5: Everything Changed

Episode 6: Fashionably Late

If you enjoy this story, take a look at the Books link to see what else I write.

 

A Cold Spring

Episode 7: Goblets of Fine Old Wine

 

Goblets of very fine and very old wine delivered by a young and slightly inebriated La Croix cousin put an end to any thoughts of a clandestine rendezvous upstairs. At last, the long road leading from the forest to the castle lay empty and it was time to toast and mingle among our disparate relations. The murmur of voices grew to a cheerful din as copious amounts of wine and Scotch flowed from crystal carafes. Our duties as host and hostess called. The moon peeped in the western windows of New Castle Highmoor before our circuits brought us back together on the veranda.

 

“I’ve spent the better part the evening either tracing my lineage back to satisfy your relatives or tracing yours to satisfy mine. I should put it in a scroll; Morgan begat Duncan and Duncan begat Caedmon and so on and so forth.” Maddock sat his empty goblet on a handy tray and secured a full one in its place. “Do you ever wish we were normal human beings with short life spans and limited imaginations? At least it would spare us the intrigue of ancient curses and temperamental witches.”

 

“If we were normal, we’d have been dead before we had a chance to meet again. I would remember you as a petulant pre-pubescent brat who thought it was funny to set the hair of elderly aunts on fire.”

 

“And I would remember you as the little snitch who told on me. It was difficult to concentrate on Aunt Clarissa’s lecture when her hair was still smoking. It’s my last fond memory of the Time Before.”

 

“Lucky for you Lucia stole the spotlight, or Aunt Clarissa would have thought up a proper punishment.”

 

A chill ran the length of my spine, prickling the hair on my arms and my neck. The festive lights, the chatter of conversation, the smell of a sumptuous dinner, and the subtle electromagnetic pull of the earth mirrored perfectly the night of Lucia’s Curse.

 

See you Monday for Episode 8: Hi-jinks in the Castle

A Cold Spring–Episode 6: Fashionably Late

Welcome to Sorchia’s Universe—A-Z Blog Edition.

“A Cold Spring” is a serial story about witches and magic and romance.

Have you missed an episode? Never fear! Here are links to the Story So Far.

Episode 1: A Cherry Tomato

Episode 2: Burning!

Episode 3: Coils of Enchantment

Episode 4: Down, Down, Down

Episode 5: Everything Changed

If you enjoy this story, take a look at the Books link to see what else I write.

Likes and comments are the heart’s blood of this kind of blog hop, so please hit the Like button early and often and leave comments on the posts you visit.

Happy Hopping, A-Zers.

A Cold Spring

Episode 6: Fashionably Late

 

Fashionably late, Aunt Clarissa, the matriarch of my family, stepped regally from an elegant silver and gray coach drawn by four matched gray mares. Her burgundy brocade gown emphasized the gleaming green eyes and ivory skin for which we Darkmores are known. An onyx and diamond comb adorned her once blonde hair, now streaked with glittering strands of silver. Escorted by a young footman in sable livery, she ascended the seven steps to the broad veranda of Castle Highmoor and into the foyer like the queen she was. She extended a stiff hand to Maddock.

 

“A pleasure to welcome you to our home, Aunt,” he murmured his voice dripping with charm. His blue eyes twinkled as he solemnly raised her pale claw to his lips. “You’re by far the classiest dame here.”

 

She snatched her hand away, but not before a blush rose on her pallid cheeks. “‘Classy dame’ is not an acceptable term for a powerful sorceress such as myself. I’ll forgive it in light of the general festivities. But I’ll thank you not to call me ‘Aunt’, young man. At least, not in front of all these people. You’ll give them the impression I condone this union.”

 

I hugged her tight, despite her protestations. “They’ll never suspect a thing. It’s only been a millennium since the Darkmores and the La Croixs broke bread together. I doubt most of them know who is who.”

 

 “Oh, they know. Watch them eye each other like hungry wolves. What’s the old saying—keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Lucia’s curse may have kept us separated in space, but even she can’t control everything.”

 

Aunt Clarissa wriggled from my embrace and smoothed the brocade gown back in to place with perfectly manicured fingers. A satisfied smile curled her tinted lips. “And you two needn’t look so smug. Your little secret won’t be a secret for long. You’re not the first couple to achieve such a thing. Now, point me in the direction of Aurora La Croix. It’s been a thousand years since I laid eyes on her and I doubt she’s aged as well as I.”

 

Aunt Clarissa cocked an elegant and knowing eyebrow at us as she swept into the drawing room where raven-tressed Aurora La Croix sipped blood-red wine amidst an admiring throng of La Croix cousins.

 

“I’m never sure if she likes me or if she is simply humoring her favorite niece,” Maddock whispered. His lips close to my ear sent a delicious tremor down my neck.

 

“If anyone else called her ‘a classy dame’ she’d turn him into a fly and fill the room with spiders. She likes you, alright. But you are exceptionally ignorant in courtly manners. I blame America.” I smoothed the collar of his velvet jacket, ran my hands down his arms, enjoyed the feel of taut muscles beneath the garment.

 

Black magic simmered in his cool, blue eyes. “Touch me like that again, and I’ll be forced to carry you upstairs, courtly manners be damned.”

 

I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled his face to mine. “Scandalous. What will Aunt Clarissa say?”

 

Get ready for Tomorrow’s post–Goblets of Fine Old Wine

A Cold Spring–Episode 5: Everything Changed

Welcome to Sorchia’s Universe—A-Z Blog Edition.

This year, my offering is a serial story—a Gothic fantasy featuring vengeful witches, disappearing castles, betrayal, and romance (PG only for this one.) Remember to Join Sorchia’s Universe to be eligible for the giveaway at the end of April.

Have you missed an episode? Never fear! Here are links to the story so far.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

If you enjoy this story, take a look at the Books link to see what else I write.

 

A Cold Spring

Episode 5: Everything Changed

 

Everything changed on that night nearly eight months ago.

 

We intended the formal dinner to celebrate Maddock’s and my marriage to be a first step toward healing the rifts between our two families. Time, we hoped, had eroded their ancient fears. Intoxicated by our own joy, we invited everyone: La Croixs and Darkmores, those who survived the atrocity that fractured our families centuries before and the young ones who knew of such things only in legend.

 

My stately Celtic Darkmore relatives mixed with Maddock’s New World La Croix family in an oddly familiar blend. I was only a child when Lucia blew our alliance apart, but I remember peeping over the banister from the upper level of the old castle on a throng much like this one many years ago when the world turned topsy-turvy.

 

New Castle Highmoor, erected on the ruins of the old castle, was a symbol of a new beginning. Nearly a thousand guests overflowed from the sumptuous drawing room of New Castle Highmoor to the elegant ballroom to the spacious veranda even spilled out into the verdant gardens. In the foyer, Maddock and I greeted each and every one.

 

Giggling cousins in brightly colored gowns cascaded down the steps into the garden, a bubbling tributary from the main concourse of matronly aunts wearing their finest brocades and portly uncles whose interests lay closer to the Scotch bottles and comfortable chairs in the drawing room. All afternoon and into the evening, they came.

 

Some drove modern cars or opted for traditional horse drawn carriages—equally impressive to manage in this secluded region. Others dispensed with pretense and materialized from dramatically boiling clouds of smoke or, more festive, alighted from gauzy spheres of purple magic.

 

Many extended a blessing for an abundance of children to their greetings and a private smile passed between Maddock and me. Our secret would be common knowledge soon enough but for now it was a sweet and intimate bond only we shared.

 

On that night months ago, I listened to a thousand versions of “may you have a long life and much happiness”, grasped a thousand hands in welcome, noted fear flickering behind a thousand smiles. A millennium had not erased the terror associated with this valley.

 

In our families, old habits die hard.

 

Don’t miss Episode 6: Fashionably Late

 

This story is supposed to have a kind of timeless feeling about it since time moves differently for these magical characters. It’s set in modern day, but hops around with visions and flashbacks. I tried not to be too heavy handed with those and to signal clearly where and when each episode takes place. What do you think? So far; so good? Leave a comment or use the Contact Sorchia button at the top of the page.