Author Update for January

Well January has been a weird old month.

So far I’ve had a cold and avoided doing any real work for some time, however, I have made baby steps towards the next writing project.

 

This month the world lost a superb actor, icon and there are no words to describe the nostalgia and love for these people. Idols to many, and they enlightened the world with their own wisdom. Though for me the greater influence to my life, Alan Rickman. It is a sorry and profound loss to actor, story teller and wild dreamer alike.

 

There is something great and positive coming in the air though, with the briefest glimpses of the extraordinary, I cannot wait to see what it is that is coming.

Change is both devastating and wonderful. With it comes pains that the heart has never understood before and joys just as much.

This month, the first of the year has been very curious. I have itchy feet and I am preparing to dive into another story, bit by bit then all at once, just like when you fall in love. This project has grown into so much more than I thought it would be and so much more complex. I am doing all I can to keep up with it but I am not sure it will be finished for a long while. there are lots of plans and thoughts still growing and blooming. Its not about waiting for the right time with this story. It is more about allowing the idea and plot to grow fully and ripen. Hopefully soon I will have more time to dedicate towards it.

I hope that the change in the air is entirely positive for the time being I think we all need it.

 

I hope you are finding a little amusement in the first few chapters of Counting Corvids.

 

May luck and adventure be on your side!

ARA xxx

Counting Corvids Chapter Four Cheeky Extras

Vampire

I am sure this one is pretty simple.

Blood sucking evil. Ruled by a Queen. If you kill the Queen her “minions” die with her. Those who have been turned but not taken blood/life will revert back to being whatever it was they were before.

They are mid-level demons that were out lawed.

When a man made a deal with the devil, he created vampires. They feast on blood, dislike sunlight and cannot be seen in silver backed objects.

And obviously, you want to kill one, aim for the heart with a stake.

Counting Corvids Chapter Four

Chapter Four: “Bite Me”

 

“So, this is going to sound weird, but you know after your friends with your ex and after a while it stops being awkward?”

“No, but continue”

“Well Ollie and I were getting on fine then the past few weeks all I’ve had is radio silence, I asked around but no one has seen him, or if they have  they aren’t telling me. I’ve got this horrible feeling something has happened to him.”
“I know this is an awkward thought but do you think he might have moved on? I’m sorry but from the sounds of it, it has been a while since you were together.”
“You’re probably right, it’s just a nagging feeling”
“Do you still like him in that way?”
“No, we just used to be good friends”
“Maybe its just time fore a fresh start, I am sure there’s someone out there just desperate to be Mr Madison Smith”

“Yeah I suppose, maybe, come on lets go.” The girls threw their jackets on and headed outside. “What a dive”
“Well it is called a dive bar”

“Yes, but it doesn’t have to be literal”

“Point well made”

“Indeed, hey Madi, are there meant to be this many bats around here?” Willow had asked as she adjusted her eyes to the darkness, to the strange forms hanging around the trees and lamp posts.

“What? No, get back in the bar” she tried to drag Willow at a run back through the car park. “Why are we running?”

“They aren’t normal bats, they are vampire bats”

“You’ve got to be joking, vampires don’t exist”
“Yes they do, now move” Willow allowed Madi to lead the way seconds too late, the bats started descending upon them, turned about in a cloud of bats Willow tripped. Madi had started slicing through the bats vanquishing them with a handful remaining they flew off making their escape. Madi helped Willow up.

“Are you ok?”

“I think so”
“No scratches?”

“No, you?”

“None”

“Come on lets go”

*

“I’m sorry my Queen, we were not warned of the Delicai-”

“You fools” the Queen’s voice echoed through the caves, “I told you to bring me the girl and you bring me nothing but defeat, you are a disgrace.”
“We were caught off guard by the girl your majesty” The Queen’s looming figure stood over her disgraced warriors.

“Perhaps your majesty, I might be of assistance?” The voice belonged to a smooth handsome figure curling his lips into a sinister grin.

“Joseph, do you have an idea my sweet?”

“Yes your majesty, let me infiltrate them, find the weak spot and hand it to you on a silver platter.”
“And what does this idea cost me?”
“Make me your king, let me earn their trust while the vile breathers are under attack, I look like the victorious hero, I hand you the information and bring you our trophy.”
“And if you fail?”
“I am at your mercy” the Queen’s lips twisted into a cruel smile before she nodded.

*

“So I have to ask, do vampires attack here often or?”

“Well no, they were outlawed by evil centuries ago, and well its not like us good guys would get involved with creatures that made a deal with the devil in exchange for eternal life now is it?”

“Well no, I just wondered-”
“That twilight stuff is totally unrealistic, humans think vampires are sexy, they have no shred of humanity left in them to be able to fall in love, they are fascinated by power not by some bizarre clingy, psychotic notion of love. They are cunning, don’t get me wrong, it’s just, we haven’t heard of vampire attacks in a long while thanks to the outlawing.”
“That’s nice”
“Well until today it was”
“No more espresso martinis for you tonight”

“Why? They are lovely”

“Yes but you don’t seem to want to shut up”

“What’s new? One last drink to steady our nerves and we’ll go?”

“Fine, is it bad that I’m starting to like it here?”

“The town or the bar?”

“Both”
“It’s totally fine, are you sure you don’t want some?”
“No, no it’s fine I will stick to my virgin Cuba Libre, but thank you”
“Spoil sport” Setting up the bill Willow lead Madi out of the bar, intending to let Madi sleep off her espresso martinis from the sofa. Unfortunately Madi had other ideas, one being dancing in the car park singing “Its Raining Men” as the sky opened up pelting them with raining, soaking their clothes in seconds. Five renditions of Madi singing “Its Raining Men” while dancing like no one was watching later and she was finally ready to leave.

Heading through the exit they found themselves surrounded once more by three times the amount of bats as before instinctively Willow started firing at them while a thoroughly intoxicated Madi babbled on about fireworks leaning heavily on Willow while the swarm surrounded them.

In the darkness of swirling bats being vanquished the dim ember from the streetlight came back into sight as the swarm thinned to expose a man aiding their battle. Pulling the girls towards a near by shelter. “You girls alright?”
“Yeah, I think so… erm… thank you?”

“No worries, do you think the coast is clear?”
“Possibly sexy pants” Willow shot Madi a look before apologizing on her behalf.

“So do I get to know your names?”
“She’s Madi and I am Willow”
“Pretty, just like you, I’m J.B”
“J.B?”

“Joseph Birch, most call me J.B but I’m no stranger to being called Jo”
“Well I believe my friend and I at least owe you a drink for your valiant rescue.”
“I couldn’t”
“You could, maybe just not tonight though, I need to get madam sober first.” She nodded in Madi’s direction as she leaned harder against her shoulder.
“O.k. a drink would be lovely” He flashed her a smile as they braved leaving their hiding place to head home.

Counting Corvids Chapter Three Cheeky Extras

Delacai

 

These guys, the good guys so to speak. They are essentially positive energy.

But, they did damn the entire race of Elementals into an eternity in purgatory post death for meddling in a war.

They have a strong belief in the “Grand Scheme” and abide by the “good of the many”

They live with very strict ideals and will generally avoid meddling in the fates of natural beings. But tend to battle with evil, mainly demons.

They are run by a high council made of “Elders” also known as the “forces that be”.

They do try to avoid conflict, unless they deem it for the “greater good” or to save someone considered an “innocent” (unprotected by magic).

When it comes to conflict regarding the Elementals they believe in balance and peace so will avoid it at all costs.

But in all of this their inward focus has given neglect to watching over the enemies (evil) allowing them to organize and gather momentum.

Counting Corvids Chapter Three

Chapter Three: “A Walk in the Park”

 

Madi having insisted on giving Willow a tour was dragging a very uninterested Willow through shops, pathways, short cuts and so on, no amount of caffeine would lift her from dragging her heels. No matter how hard Madi had tried she couldn’t find a positive spin to put on the area even as a truck load of guys went past yelling crude suggestions at them in their inebriation.

Willow unable to resist herself shot a small flame at the tire, popping it causing the car to come to a halt. Madi looked thoroughly displeased as she pulled a giggling Willow roughly by the arm towards the park they had met in.

Madi cautioned Willow heavily over her actions and the risk of exposure. Willow was in no mood to listen as she strolled up to the bridge.

Something about using the fire inside her had reared her more impulsive reckless mood.

The girls noticed a shadow approaching behind them hoping it was a rather repulsive looking body builder, but instead they found themselves disappointed by the sight of a Quake demon they turned to cross the bridge just as four more stood in their way as another appeared on the other side, the girls were trapped.

Worse, they were growing into an outnumbered territory that wasn’t just a problem for themselves, many more and who knows what could happen.

The Quake demon standing behind them came closer and focused his attentions on Madi while Willow began bombarding the closest Quake on the bridge pushing them back with the flames, causing a domino effect as they backed into each other as they stumbled over and the closest had fallen over the bridge falling in a fiery blaze.

The three remaining on the bridge struggled to pull themselves up while Willow turned to help Madi vanquish her Quake. The two girls teamed up on the thing blasting at him repeatedly before he exploded in a fireball.

It wasn’t over, not that easily at least. The Quake on the other side of the bridge took his opportunity and threw a boulder towards the girls catching Willow and knocking her out leaving Madi left to do something.

Madi now facing the two quakes attempting to edge closer over the bridge on her own. Their rough, dry skin sounding like the slamming waves of the ocean against a rock as they edged closer and closer.

Willows eyes slowly opened as Madi struggled to fend them off and keep them from crossing the bridge. Without thinking or realising herself, Willow had caught sight of the boulder the demon had hit her with. Without knowing or thinking she felt her arm reach towards it, the boulder rose in the air before her, instinctively she threw her arm towards the Quakes advancing and the boulder followed the path slamming into the Quakes pushing them over the edge and down into the water where they burst into a small puff of orange smoke.

The Quake on the other side of the river stared at the girls before turning to run, the girls followed after him. “I didn’t know you could do that?”

“Neither did I, keep running, we have to get him” the girls emerged on the other side of the gates and the demon was gone. “How can you do that? You’ve only just come into your powers, that’s a high level gift?”

“How am I supposed to know? Shouldn’t we be more concerned that the Quake escaped?”

“Probably, fancy a coffee?”

“What’s wrong with a decent cup of tea?”

“Nothing, if you can find one” Madi said as she directed them towards yet another dingy little diner.

The girls sat down, Madi with her coffee, Willow with her tea that quite frankly tasted like dish water, “this is one really bad cup of tea.”

“What do you expect?”

“Something that doesn’t remind me of stewed socks.”

“That’s ridiculous” Madi took Willows cup and had a taste, “God that’s foul.”

“Told you. Something doesn’t feel right, you know, that thing escaping, somethings got to be going on.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well don’t you find it odd? First those two Quakes then today, it doesn’t really seem like a coincidence does it now?”

“Don’t worry about it Willow.”

“Famous last words”

“Huh?”

“Nothing, come on lets go.”

Madi taking Willows lead left as she directed them back taking a short cut through an alley. Behind them a Quake appeared in the shadows following behind them. The girls turned to face him just as he went to send them flying he stopped and stared at something down the alley, the girls turned to see the shadow of a figure in the darkness, the quake bowed and disappeared.

The girls curiosity was peaked, they edged towards the shadowy figure which turned away from them and disappeared as he walked, no longer there. Stunned the girls reached the spot where it had stood, but found nothing just a dark patch of broken chippings and gravel.

Something, someone, some demon had stopped their near certain death.

 

 

Counting Corvids Chapter Two Cheeky Extras

Quake

 

I hate these demons, so darn blood thirsty. Thankfully they are low level individuals that are very susceptible to fire. Well if you heat a rock in the right way it can melt. As can a blended being of rock and flesh.

Hand to hand combat with these demons is not recommended, it is like fighting a body building mass of rocks. They are hard to beat hand to hand, but with some wit and magic they are easily remedied.

One to five Quake demons in a group; can be considered a low level threat, not great but you don’t want more than five. Their build and nature are capable of natural disaster. Which is why six to thirteen gathered is a medium level threat to the nature surrounding them. At this point their power is enough to cause significant damage to the environment. If more gather and combine their efforts expect serious natural disasters to follow.

Counting Corvids Chapter Two

Chapter Two: “Home Sweet Home”

 

There is darkness all around, except for a glimmer of silvery moonlight shining on the grassy slope to the eerie shadow of a circle made of stone inside are three people stood waiting. In the distance quiet waves but an echoing wind howling louder and louder, the three figures struggle to stay balanced in the darkness.

Everything stops, a blazing violet light encircles and traps the stone circle, the three figures are clear for a moment, and the light grows brighter and denser until nothing is visible with in it. The light stops, and the figures lay motionless on the ground.

*

A young woman bolts upright in her bed, at the window stands a crow, watching her quietly before it cawed, in surprise the woman whips her head around in time to see it explode in a ball of fire. In seconds she was no longer alone in the room, still shaking as her parents rushed in, in a panic. The young lady, Willow, finds no answer, even once she has prepared herself for the day. Not quite sure on a solution she resolves to do a little exploring to distract her, not knowing just how true those words were.

*

The area around her seemed nothing like the promises her parents had made. This was in no way a good or remotely trendy neighbourhood. On the surface, everything was bleak and miserable. In fact everything here seemed desperate, buildings and people alike whether it was for love or money was indistinguishable.

The local park lacked in so many ways, everything was left to its own devices, pathways, grasses, fences. Walking alone here, seemed ever so slightly other worldly, that was until Willow felt impact in her shoulder, a girl had run into her and sent her flying, the girl carried on running, her pursuers closely behind her.

Willow jumped up confused, baffled and curious rubbing her shoulder; she followed in pursuit of the girl who had managed to get herself a little trapped.

Willow without thinking tried to help, pulling one of the girls pursuers attention away. Willow couldn’t believe her eyes at the towering man who looked more like boulders in shape then human, the girl had started to try to fight back. Not quiet sure if she had done it on purpose or by accident, Willow had started blasting this creature with ball after ball of fire.

After a few attempts Willow succeeded as the thing burst into the exact same flames as the crow on her window sill, that very morning, but this time it was accompanied by an agonizing scream from the beast.

The girl and the remaining thing turned to face her, the thing disappeared into thin air as the girl stood staring at Willow.

“Hey how did you…? I mean… what are…? I mean… Hi, I’m Madison but most people call me Madi,” Madi extended her hand but Willow stared at it, “I have to go” she stammered before turning on her heels. “Wait! Wait who are you? You saved my life.”

“Willow” she through over her shoulder as she carried on walking, Madi caught up with her. “Can I at least get you a coffee to thank you, something or anything?”

Willow stopped “Only if you can tell me what just happened.” Reluctantly Madi agreed as she led Willow into a small dingy diner, sitting in a booth next to the furthest corner window.

“That thing what was it?”

“It was a Quake”

“A what?” Madi stared at Willow stunned for a moment.

“A Quake is a demon,” she studied Willows face as she spoke. “A Quake demon, is a low level demon, up to around five of them in an area are low risk threats, any more then that and they have the potential to cause some serious damage.”
“Oh, right, I see so why were they chasing you?”

“I am a Delicai, a good being, a good witch in theory, I make mistakes, I accidently caught their attention and well, that is how we got here.”

“Right I see how do you know all this stuff?”

“It’s a family thing, I’m guessing by your reaction that was your first vanquish.”

“First what? Yes, I guess it was.”

“So erm, what are you?”

“To be honest I’m not really sure, mum once said I was an Elemental, well that our heritage was, I am not so sure.”

“It makes sense, I can’t get a reading from you, good or evil. Elemental’s are essentially in no-mans-land that way.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well Elemental’s reside in purgatory for an eternity, which is the case until the ever-so-mysterious chosen one finally materializes and makes an alliance in either good or evil.”

“How cheerful” Willow’s words spoke, remaining as neutral an expression as she could manage.

“I wouldn’t worry too much it’s not your responsibility to make the alliance is it? After all, you seem to be just coming into your powers.”

Willow smiled politely across at Madi who patted her on the arm, Willows body tensed with a sharp intake of breath. Her eyes unfocused, in her mind she could see another Quake demon crashing through the Window. Willows eyes snapped open.

“I thought you were just a flame elemental but it looks like you just had a premonition, oh… wait your first? Does that mean you’re an earth one too?”

“We have to go”

“Wait why?”

Willow didn’t have time to answer, the Quake demon came crashing through the window throwing the shattered glass everywhere, and moments later Madi soared through the air hitting the back wall as Willow scrambled out of its path.

Once more with evert effort she could muster she set to work on igniting the demon repeatedly until it was consumed in fire chasing after Willow who lead it out into the empty parking lot before it finally exploded sending her flying towards a hedge. As Madi reappeared searching for Willow in the hedges among the chaos. “Wow that was some explosion huh Willow” Willow murmured from the hedge before dragging herself from the branches.

 

Counting Corvids Chapter One Cheeky Extras

Stone Circle

 

Well, here we go, we started the journey. Yes it is of course beginning in the “STONE CIRCLE” How very cryptic? But I am sure the more I write and the more that I develop that “Stone Circle” will keep popping up.

Ok so the significance? Well, in this story, the connection to the character in question, Willow is that is where her race must be born in order to qualify for their inheritance. Inheritance which is earned on a very specific birthday, their 21st.

Well, the race and those that qualify for their inheritance can be male or female, as long as they perform that ritual and return. Now, that doesn’t always happen, there are many out there who never qualified and in turn reduced the overall numbers of their kind but still hold that magical dna that is unlocked by the stones.

In reality, yes the stone circle exists, it’s awesome, I have been there. It is one of those places that if you let yourself you can feel the magic in the air…

Counting Corvids Chapter One

Chapter One: “Here we go”

 

This story is as old as time itself, but as new as the ink I write with. This story is my life, my death and what happened next.

For my story to begin to make sense an open mind is needed. Many generations ago my family stemmed from three sisters, triplets. Daughters of a Goddess, Hecate. They were born in the exact same place as I, a stone circle on a Scottish island. I had been over a thousand years after the triplets, my great, great, great well you know where that is heading. Like their birth, my birth had an effect on the world. When we were born, all the magic in the world stopped for a short while.

The daughters of Hecate each held power over an elemental property; flames, earth and mist. These three women started a new species of magic, a new species of witch, the Elementals. There are rumours that the three founders of the line are still alive after consuming the last breath of Hecate. It is said they are the elders and guides for our magic.

It is said that as the three sisters altered the destiny of one man, the ripple caused death after death of many. Neither good nor evil claimed them damning them and by extension me into an afterlife in purgatory. Since then we have been attempting to build an alliance through generations of good karma. Of course no good deed goes unpunished. The witch hunts were brutal.

At some point the elders sent word during the trials, should a child of all three lines be born into eligibility then they shall forge the path from purgatory into a new world and afterlife. As with all ancient stories they become rumour, fairy tale and myths. And that is why I am here, standing in the same stone circle at the turning of the years, like my mother did twenty one years ago at this very moment when I was born.

The three of us are no longer alone in the circle. In this darkness is where the story starts. There was a blinding flash of violet light in the circle before the world went black. The magic had once again stopped. In the darkness three voices chorused. Of course I had no idea what they said, I was out cold. From the gist of what Dad has said that the myth or legend of a chosen one, well that is me, he was the only one managing to stay half conscious to hear. I can’t quite explain why. Anyway it seems that I am the supposed guiding light my ancestors have been waiting for. No pressure. As the sun rose on the New Year it rose on us also, around us surrounding the circle had been hundreds of magpies, they had stopped watching me, instead they glared at the single crow taking flight away from the circle.

The wings of the magpies burst into flames as they swarmed and dived at us until the wings stopped burning and the magpies themselves plumed fresh char free feathers.

I’m not sure if it was the entire event or my childhood that freaked my parents out the most. You see, the problem is I didn’t have a normal childhood, my parents couldn’t risk me going to school. I was the breaker of hundreds of years of tradition, I had been born with powers, specifically basic flame powers.

Safe to say my shooting flames made my parents jumpy. I remember feeling lonely as a child, I struggled with mastering my power, my emotions. Apparently when I was three I had a strange encounter with a magpie. I liked magpies, I always have even if it was something I shouldn’t be proud of, my parents were wary. Once I had bowed to a magpie, it bowed back and flew to my shoulder. Since then I have always thought of magpies as sweet companions despite my parent’s very clear unease. The amount of hushed whispered arguments I had heard from the stairs always swam through in the darkness.

I think the magpies at the circle sealed our fate. Mum insisted we move to a town in Texas that is filled with magic that way I could learn to master my new abilities in peace without fear of discovery, so they say. I hated the idea, but I had no choice or no way to argue.

The New Year is here…

… and now to reveal my genius plan…

 

Ok so it’s not exactly genius. But I thought that this year I would do things a little differently, start the year very differently.

Before, I have given you excerpts of some of my writing like The Darker Paths only chapters. I have given previews of books available on amazon author page. And now?

Well now, for the first time, direct to arappleby.com … each week I will be uploading a chapter of a story.

But wait that’s not all… As I am sure you have guessed by now the new story is called Counting Corvids. There will be exclusive content added… Yep that’s right, my extra notes from making up the plotbook and my own writing guides will be making their way onto a screen… your screen to be exact!

So tune in each week to see a new chapter unfold and tune in to the cheeky extras to get a glimpse of the little extras and  perks of being a regular reader.

So incase you miss the weekly episodes on the home screen, please find the chapters appearing here

And incase you want to follow along with the weekly extras and you miss them on the home screen, please find the cheeky extras appearing here