Genre: Magical Realism
Date of Publication: December18, 2015
Word Count: 26,489
Cover Artist: Ryan Bayron
War. It doesn’t start with armies or bombs. It doesn’t start with declarations or protests. It doesn’t start with speeches. It starts with one thing. Intent.
Jules understands this concept. She intends to kill a cult leader. She intends to undo magic from the past. She intends to get her family home.
She intends to start a war.
Jules Excerpt 1
Something shimmered between us. The vague image of my father began to materialize, shaping himself enough to see spiked hair, a black overcoat, and cigarette smoke.
I sent her here, Jake, he tonelessly interjected. My daughter is here to warn you.
"Warn me of what?"
"Trouble," I responded. "Heading your way."
A boy who looked about twelve pushed past Jake. Of course, it didn't mean he was twelve. It meant he was young. Elves. We appear younger then we are.
This one had fine, silver hair, big blue eyes and a finely-boned face. He had a vague similarity to his grandfather, Gidel. But his eyes were the exact same shade of blue as his mother's, and when he smiled it was her smile. The memory of his mother came back to me instantly. I suddenly remembered that her death was the reason I found Afanasiy in the first place. I was going to burn him for killing her and instead, I got indoctrinated.
I could only assume this elf in front of me was Caine and Caine was the cousin I didn't know I had.
His smile fell as he looked up at Cronoth.
"They're coming, aren't they?" Caine asked softly. "The marwolaeth are coming for me." He looked up at Jake. "What will we do?"
"They're not coming for you, child," I said, cutting Jake off. Caine swung around to stare at me.
It's Layla, Cronoth said. She is on her way here, accompanied by Olyvia and Rod.
Jake's mouth turned into a thin, stretched line. Sheathing his gun, he looked down at Caine and said, "We need to go."
"But..." Caine protested as Jake began to shove him back into the smithy. "Can't I see Olyvia again?"
My father's apparition disappeared. The door to the smithy was left wide open and unobstructed, allowing me a better look inside.
The floors were old, rotting, wood planks that met the brick of the inside wall. Directly in front of the door was an old cement staircase, cold emanating off the steps as if the stairway itself was haunted. To the right of the stairs an old, beaten counter followed the wall, the wood chipped, splintered, and completely broken in some places. There was a gaping hole where a small swinging door used to be, the hinges exposed and rusting like rotted teeth. A doorway behind the counter was covered with a curtain, and beyond the counter sat an open doorway. My view of the small room beyond the door was blocked, the room out of sight.
"Nope," Jake answered, going behind the counter. He shoved the curtain aside and slipped past, his voice drifting out among the sound of clanging metal and shuffling canvas. "I doubt she'd remember you anyway. Not after last time." He returned quickly with two old gym bags, the straps fraying along the edges and one seam nearly broken open. He managed to fit a finger through the hole and swore under his breath.
Caine's eyes fell for a moment. "I guess not. But"—he looked back up to Jake, who was busily hand-stitching the seams together—"what about this Layla person? Who is that?"
"Your cousin," Jake answered. He motioned to me with his head. "Like her. Only younger. Less bloodthirsty. And she has a soul."
"You're funny, nanny," I said, crossing my arms. "Do you do cook and clean as well?"
"Cook. Clean. Stitch up bloody wounds. Tend to the mentally unstable and the emotionally disturbed." He glanced up at me and gave his thread a final pull after knotting it back on itself. "Take your pick."
When I said nothing immediately, he looked down at Caine, held out one of the newly-stitched gym bags and told him to go pack his things. Caine protested and Jake gave him the devil-parent glare.
Caine disappeared up the staircase in a blur. A door up above slammed open.
"Damn kids," Jake muttered, grabbing a few items hidden under the counter. "Not thinking about the whole picture." He unwrapped the packages, slowly checking them over. Canned food, preserved edibles, and water bottles were examined as I stood there.
"Out of curiosity," I said, leaning back against the dusty brick wall, "why don't you want to let him talk to Olyvia?"
"Would your parents let you relive an—" He stopped short of his answer, glancing up at me. "Never mind. Your kind never understands."
"Don't play dumb," he said, wrapping the cans back up and dumping them into the bag. "You know what I mean."
"I really don't," I answered. "Witches? Marwolaeth? Which 'kind' do you see me as?"
"Warriors," he answered shortly. He nodded to himself and wrapped up the water bottles. "Your whole family is created of warriors."
Jake stopped packing. He looked up at me. Leaned forward on the counter.
"When your father brought Caine to me, all those years ago, do you know what had happened?"
A half-Hawaiian, half-Spanish, half-Italian, half-Filipino, K. Stevens is 4'6" of sarcasm and introverted weirdness. She enjoys time spent communing with local flora and fauna. She hopes to one day be considered one of the greats in literature, but will settle for people at least knowing her name.