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MORE THAN HUMAN
An 11 EBook Box Set
A.L. Butcher, Don Viecelli, J.M. Ney-Grimm, Karen L. Abrahamson, Kim Antieau, Barbara G. Tarn, Michael R.E. Adams, Debbie Mumford, Alexandra Brandt
To save. To guard. To heal.
Beloved people, precious things, and sacred spaces move our hearts and inspire us to defend them.
In these tales of redemption and rescue, more-than-human heroes stand forth as champions to protect all that is worthy of protection.
Walk with these elves, imps, wizards, dryads, gods, and guardians as they subdue demons, free the enslaved, preserve the world, comfort the exiled, and cross swords with the dark. Read and revel in their triumphs and tribulations.
The Shining Citadel – A. L. Butcher
Technological Angel – Barbara G. Tarn
Needle-Green – Debbie Mumford
The Cartographer’s Daughter – Karen L. Abrahamson
Serpent’s Foe – J.M. Ney-Grimm
The Crystal Courtesan – Karen L. Abrahamson
The First Book of Old Mermaids Tales – Kim Antieau
The Guardians – Book 1 – Don Viecelli
Love Apidae (A Recumon Story) – Michael R. E. Adams
The Flat Above the Wynd – Alexandra Brandt
The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales – A. L. Butcher
MORE THAN HUMAN
An 11 EBook Box Set
By A.L. Butcher, Don Viecelli, J.M. Ney-Grimm, aren L. Abrahamson, Kim Antieau, Barbara G. Tarn, Michael R.E. Adams, Debbie Mumford, Alexandra Brandt
A faint glow pulsed from the Far-Seeing Eye, and Sky welcomed the chance to stop rubbing her temples and look at her first location for patrol.
She picked up the circle of normally-milky glass and peered into it. The misty depths had cleared, revealing…the foot of her own stairs?
She frowned and shook it. The Eye had never done that before.
Grimacing, Sky stood and drew on her faded green summer-weight anorak, stuffing the disc of glass into a hidden inner pocket and tucking Ram’s jumble of amulets down her shirt. She checked her glamour in the mirror—yes, still the ordinary brown skin and brown eyes of a mid-thirty-ish East Indian woman; no odd blue eyes or furred, plume-like tail to be seen—and grumbled to herself as she exited the flat and headed for the stairs.
Because of the twisty nature of the stairwell, Sky almost ran into the girl standing at the base, frowning down at a slip of paper in her hand. A slight, dark-haired teenager with a pretty face, possibly Japanese heritage. Ripped jeans and a black t-shirt with some rock band or another, heavy satchel over one shoulder.
Sky knew her instantly.
The girl looked up and her eyes widened. “You!”
Sky tried to school her shock into something calmer. She had never thought she’d see this child again.
Not after what they’d been through, merely three weeks before.
“What are you doing here?” Sky asked, her mind racing. At the back of her head, a thought began to flash, a reminder of the Wynd law she had just read. The rules she had broken with this very human girl. And now, a sudden, serendipitous opportunity to fix things.
With Wynd magic, serendipity should always be highly suspect.
Abruptly she returned to herself.
Where had she been?
The desert spaces of a dream, hunting as a lioness should? She didn’t know. But this dim-lit vault looked different through waking eyes than dreaming ones.
Why didn’t they sweep the floors?
Sand lay on the flat stone expanse in patches of dusty sparkles. The whole complex cried out for a scouring. Rust coated the iron bars of the cages, from their tops, anchored in the sandstone ceiling, to their bases, sunk into rock. Dung decorated the corners.
And the carcass of her last meal rotted against the bars separating her from the jackal next door. That black-coated beast gnawed at the bloody remains, his snout poked through a gap.
Fah! She lifted her forepaw fastidiously to lick it clean.
Movement diagonally across the broad corridor caught her eye. Another feline – a cheetah, not a lion – paced.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
This is no place for me and mine. I, who carry the sun in my eyes by night.
She was caged, she who was meant to be free.
Who had perpetrated this outrage?
She shifted the bulk of her feline body, feeling the press of the cool stone floor against her flank. She lay in the exact center of her square enclosure, avoiding the bars – cold and radiating evil.
She’d been hunting, surely. Before she woke to this zoo. Or was she dreaming now of her imprisonment?
In her earlier dream, the grey shades of moonless night had enfolded her.
Tall strands of sun-dried grasses rustled in the almost-not-there breeze, brushing against her pelt. The bass rumble of bullfrogs mingled with splashing sounds. A rank smell of river mud crept close to the ground, closer than she.
Her limbs were made for crouching, for stalking, for lunging from cover.
The faint scent of her prey traced through the cool air rising off the Nile.
Not ibis. Not hippo. Not croc.
Something . . . tastier.
She lunged, hindquarters powering her forward, fore claws outstretched, ready to rend as she batted her meal to the ground.
Its nest lay empty – a trammeled area of matted reeds where the red deer had slept.
But not now.
Now it fled, zigzagging, its tail a flag in the night.
She gave chase. I will feast!
Nearer and nearer.
Her muscles bunched, then extended, driving her close.
The smell of the creature’s submission lent her strength, transforming the draining pain of her hunger into her pounce.
And then the very air lay empty.
Where . . . ?
No spoor on the mud. No scent on the breeze. No thud of panicked hooves in the ear.
From where would her feast come now?
Yet not all scent had vanished.
Behind her, a fresh aroma threaded the night: musty, dry, a whisper of fear.
She, the hunter, was hunted. The knowledge shivered through her empty belly.
Kol-ian realized Chantal had noticed the black lines on his back when she touched them, puzzled, and her thoughts went in question-mode again. He rolled on his back and pulled her over him, pretending not to know.
“What are those black marks?” she asked.
“Claude!” she chided. “I haven’t kept anything from you.”
Of course, I can read your thoughts, you can’t keep anything from me, he thought. “I’m keeping a lot from you and will hold to most of my secrets,” he replied. “There are things about me you could never understand.”
“Men and women can’t understand each other because they come from different planets,” she retorted. “But they can learn to accept each other’s differences.”
He chuckled. She had no idea how fitting the comparison was for the two of them.
“What’s funny?” She frowned. “I’m serious. I’m ready to accept anything you tell me.”
“I doubt it,” he said. “When I told you where I was born, you didn’t believe me.”
“Of course, you said you were born on another planet!”
“That I am. My real name is Kol-ian. Happy now?”
She gaped at him, then gulped down her surprise. “You can’t be extraterrestrial, you’re so… human!”
“Really?” He pushed her back on the bed, rolling on his side to face her. It had been some time since this little game of his. The last one to see it had been a hot Spanish girl half a dozen local years earlier.
He opened his wings. Five seconds and the dark shadow of nanotechnology displayed the black wings behind him, taking her breath away. Featherless wings, artificial wings, but still wings, of a material and technology unavailable on the planet. Advanced implants that had cost him more than he cared to think about.
British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
Links to A.L.’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/2hK33OM
Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/FB2j0bbdZ
Library of Erana Blog: http://bit.ly/Blog2iAWL3o
Thanks, A.L., for sharing this treasure trove of stories with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this box set!