It’s Witching Season, Bitches

Happy Launch Day!

In honor of my new book’s birthday, I thought I’d post the prologue for you guys to read.  That’s right. The whole thing.  🙂

Happy reading!

SBSWFB1

† † †  Before  † † †

 

It was not accustomed to being summoned.

The night began like any other, not that it normally had much use for mundane notions of time.  All nights bled together in the dark wasteland where it preferred to hunt.  It was hot on some hapless creature’s trail when it first felt the pull.

IGNORE.

A gust of unearthly wind carried the unmistakable scent of its prey.  Fear was a potent stench; addictive, impossible to mistake.  It lifted its nose and drank it in.

Another pull, stronger this time.  It snarled.  No one, not even The Lady, had ever attempted anything so blatant, so invasive.  Invisible coils wrapped around its insides and tightened painfully.  CONFUSION.  This was a magic it did not recognize.

But then, no one in its long memory had ever tried to bind it before.

Another gust of wind.  Another whiff of fear.  It shook itself and continued on, tried to ignore the increasingly sharp bite of this new magic.  Surely no one in their right mind could actually be trying to capture it.  The very idea was so foreign it barely registered; a distant, amusing flicker on the far horizon of its mindscape.

But there it was again, not a tug this time but a yank.  It dropped to its knees mid-stride with a yelp that echoed across the barren terrain.  WRONG.  This was wrong.  It was free; it had always been free, and always would be.  It would not bow to this invader, this tormentor who hid in the shadows like a coward.

It growled as much.

Searing pain filled its head.  It howled.  The surrounding landscape twisted, fragmented.  FIGHT.  It dug its claws into the ground.  It would not allow itself to be ripped from here.  REFUSE.  The pain reached a deafening crescendo, accompanied by a single, terrible realization.

It had no choice.

When the agony subsided, it was someplace… else.  It had heard enough stories to recognize the terrestrial realm.  It looked around.

The strangeness of the place set it off-balance.  The ground was too hard, the air, too cold.  It huffed anxiously.  Steam puffed from its nostrils.  FOUL.  To think some of the others actually preferred it here.  Its hackles raised.

Give it heat.  Give it brimstone.  Give it the eternal fire.

It waited for what felt like an age, but the pain didn’t return.  Neither did the magic.  The panic in its chest began to subside.  The anxiety and discomfort gave way to something else, something far sweeter.

RAGE.

There could be only one explanation for why it was here.  Someone must have summoned it.  Fool.  Whoever they were, they would pay for this crime.  There was no place they could run, no place they could hide.  It would find them.

Pain crested again inside its head.  Then an unfamiliar voice flooded its thoughts.

You belong to me.

It snarled again.  BLASPHEMY.  It belonged to no one, not even the Lady it occasionally deigned to serve.  It would shred this interloper; savor their screams and their blood and their sweet, ruined flesh—

Enough.

Pain and magic surged through it, deep enough to touch its very bones.  This time, it couldn’t even gather a breath to howl.  It crumpled to the cold, hard ground, curled its paws under its body and whimpered.

SURRENDER.  Nobody summoned one of its kind without reason.  If it had a purpose, perhaps it could bargain.  Perhaps if it did its captor’s bidding, it could go home.

The increasingly familiar tug of the binding magic returned.  Driven by thoughts of freedom, it followed without resistance.  The voice returned.

Good, creature.  Now come.  I have a job for you.

It followed the magic’s pull down a line of strange-looking boxes.  Unnatural light glowed from some of them.  Others were dark and still.  Beyond the last one lay the black outline of a field.  It lifted its nose and sniffed.  The wilds here smelled different than at home, but they were still preferable to anything it had encountered thus far.  It whined hopefully.  Its tail waved.

No.  You are not here for that.

Disappointment.

Go to the gate next to the house.  It is open for you.

It hesitated.  Gate?  House?  It did not know these things.  But the magic was still leading the way.  It padded along as it was directed, through a horrific-looking, prison-like contraption, down a set of steps that ran alongside the strange box.

Its ears perked up as it neared the bottom.  Sounds.  It was not alone here.  Strange odors drifted on the air.  Mostly they were too strong, too sweet, but one in particular stood out.

MEAT.

As if on cue, the voice returned.  Go to them.

It hesitated again.  It knew these creatures.  HUMANS.  It was not supposed to make contact with them unless The Lady ordered it to.  FORBIDDEN.  It tried to retreat.

The binding tightened.  The voice echoed angrily inside its head.  Forget your past orders.  You answer to me now.  Only me.  And I’m telling you to go to them.

It cringed, and took an obedient step forward.  Then another.  Each felt like a betrayal.  Spurred on by magic, it peered around the corner.

The humans were distracted, engaged in some sort of ceremony.  They wore loose coverings over their naked skin, but the smell of meat was strong nonetheless.  It licked its lips without thinking.  MEAT.  Tender, fresh.  It shook itself.  NO.  The Lady would be displeased.

Go ahead.

It blinked.  Surely it had heard incorrectly.

Go ahead.  Take your fill.  I know you want to.

Its muscles quivered with restraint even as its pulse quickened.  The humans were gathered in a cluster, chanting something in their strange human language.  Easy prey, all of them so close together.  Ripe for the taking.

At that moment, one of them—a female—looked up.  Their eyes locked, and it froze.  It had never seen a creature so perfect.  Her eyes were bright, her flesh creamy and flawless.  She radiated warmth; the first warmth it had felt since arriving in this dreadful place.  It stared, captivated.

Go ahead.  This is why you’re here.

The female’s lips parted.  Fear twisted her features.

By the time she screamed, it was already ripping out her throat.

† † †

For a limited time, grab your copy of SEASON OF THE WITCH for just $0.99 on Amazon!

Amazon-Buy-Button

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s