The Legend of Jhara

In a village far away there lived a man called Aviano. Aviano was a merchant. He sold birds in silver cages. The birds came to him through magic. He beguiled them with promises and then trapped them in the cages. He imbued the bars of the cages with magic, so that the birds could only be set free by one who passed him silver. The magic was flawed though and sometimes he caught creatures in his cages that were not truly birds.

Once, for example, the raven he had beguiled turned out to be magician who took on a raven’s form. He was rescued by a young girl who was punished for her deed. The punishment was immortality. The curse to live through the centuries and never be at peace. That curse, from what I hear, was recently broken, and another who is more suited for the task has taken the girl’s place.

But I digress. One day Aviano bit off a little more than he could chew. He captured a fairy called Argentia. He thought that the fairy would make a fine prize and that he would sell it for a thousand silver pieces, especially as she herself was the color of silver. This fairy however, was far more than she seemed. As she sat in the cage, she didn’t stress but rather she plotted. Plotted to destroy the bird man. For that though she would need silver, lots of silver.

She watched while Aviano sold his flock that day. He did a roaring trade and she counted seventeen birds leaving in their gilded cages with their new owners. The Bird Man’s pouch where he kept the silver became heavier and heavier.

That night while he slept, he rested the pouch at the foot of his bed, but he was careless and didn’t complete the ward spells he normally put in place before he slept. Maybe it was the goblet of oogleberry wine that somehow had found its place on his bedside table. Who knows? But in any case he entered the world of sleep without proper protection.

That night Argentia was released by a girl with chestnut hair. She thanked the girl, but did not leave immediately. Instead she fluttered into Aviano’s cabin and used a spell to exchange his silver coins with rocks. And so she was able to filch every last one before she took her liberty.

She chuckled at the thought of Aviano carrying around the pouch of rocks the next day. He did this for hours until hunger sent him into the village in search of a meal at the inn. He ordered a fine feast and opened his pouch to pay.

“What is this?” demanded the innkeeper. “I’m sorry but I do not take this currency. Come back when you have silver.”

Aviano looked down at the rocks. How had this happened? He marched over to the witch, Grisela’s cottage. She must have something to do with this. But she just shrugged when she saw the rocks. “Why are showing these to me?” she asked.

“I thought maybe … as you sell stones you might want these. They are worth a lot of silver.”

“No, they are not. They are merely common rocks you could find on the ground anywhere in the village. Take them away.”

That night Aviano wept. His fortune—he had lost his fortune. But that was not all Argentia had planned for him, though perhaps that is where she should have stopped. But the silver fairy never did anything by half measures, and the spell was only half complete. The stolen silver had a purpose. With it Argentia fashioned Jhara, an artifact so powerful that it could devastate not only its target but all its surroundings.

That of course had not been the plan. Argentia wanted a precision weapon. She wanted to take out Aviano so that he could no longer trap the birds. It did not work. The fairy and the Bird Man wrestled and in the struggle a portal of silver opened into our world and the storm was flung through it.

The other side of that fateful portal was in the bay of New Orleans and the storm that was released would be remembered not by the name of Jhara but by another name—Katrina.

Argentia watched the devastation, the destruction of thousands of innocent lives and wept. She found the weather mage, Latisha Watts, to help, but her help came too late. Together though they formulated a plan to trap Jhara into an artifact and send it away. Argentia initially wanted to destroy the storm, but Latisha understood that that was not possible. That with its destruction it would take much of America with it.

So instead they coaxed it into the artifact with a promise that one day it would have a worthy target. The artifact was taken by hand to St. Louis, or rather by flipper, as Latisha transformed into her dolphin form for the journey and swam up the Mississippi with the artifact embedded in her flipper. Jessamyn met her and took Jhara from her and concealed it in illusion in her chamber where it sits to this day.

So Jhara was safe or at least they thought she was.

But Jessamyn would very rarely check her hoard, and she trusted her students. That would prove the fatal mistake.

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Want to read more? Pick up a copy of JHARA today on Amazon on paperback or Kindle or FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Shades of Black – New Release!

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In 1952 London experienced the Great Smog. Around 4,000 people died and 100,000 became sick. It was this that led Parliament to pass the Clean Air Act of 1956 which paved the way to cleaner air and was an important milestone in the protection of the environment. But what if the Act was never passed? What if a young and unscrupulous politician and businessman had blocked its passing? Meet George Weeks … A cautionary tale of a world that might of been.

Now in ebook (various venues) – just 99 cents.

I wrote this story originally for an anthology that didn’t happen — Sins of Elsewhen – horror stories for an alternative reality. I later tweaked the tale and added it to Sins of the Gods, but decided that with the dismal state of today’s environment that this was a good time to share my original tale with the world.

Pick up a copy today on Amazon, Kobo, or Apple (coming soon to other venues) for just 99 cents.
Or hop over to Story Origin to pick up a free review copy.

 

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3 New Anthology Releases!

Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t been on here much recently. I spent much of October traveling with my daughter to Israel (to see my mother) and London (to hang out with friends). It was fun and exhausting and now I’m back and have some news.

While I was away this happened:

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13 Candles is a collection of 13 never-before-published Halloween-themed short stories by 13 YA authors. My story, The Costume, is loosely set in my P.A.W.S. universe and features Miri’s childhood friend, Jenny. 50% of all proceeds from the sales of this anthology with be donated to Global Giving, an international organization that provides funds directly to local charities in communities that need it most.

Pick up your copy today in paperback or Kindle or read for free on Kindle Unlimited.

But wait there’s more yesterday saw the release of not one, but two more anthologies that include stories by me.

The first is book 3 of the Sins of Time series, that included Sins of the Past and Sins of the Future.  I am both the editor and a contributor to each of these volumes. Our new volume Sins of the Gods features horror stories of mythology. My own tale, Shades of Black, is a cautionary tale about why it’s not a great idea to get on the wrong side of Gaea.

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Pick up a copy today on Amazon or Google Play.

And one more Halloween themed anthology. This one’s free. A collection of drabbles (100 word stories) put together by the folk at Fiction Writer’s Global. Download your copy free and enjoy.

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The Butterfly

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Simon concentrated on the words. They had to be just right, perfect. The ink flowed from his pen as it floated a few inches above the magenta tissue. There that’s it, and now to fold, to create. Silently he mouthed the spell and the butterfly began to take form. He had watched a Japanese master once form an intricate butterfly out of a single sheet of paper. He closed his eyes and dredged through his memories, remembering the lines. He smiled as he opened his eyes and the butterfly sat in front him, its wings quivering, awaiting his next instruction.

Jennifer sat by herself in the corner of the cafeteria. Tonight was prom and still no invitation. She was crazy to believe that Simon was interested in her – especially as her magic was so commonplace. He could have his pick of any witch here, why would he choose her? But still she caught herself looking over at his table. He appeared to be concentrating on something. Lost in whatever crazy creative spell he was working on.

Simon raised his wand and slowly the butterfly rose through the air. All around the cafeteria there was a sudden hush as the students watched the flight of the magenta butterfly as it circled the room and finally fluttered onto Jennifer’s plate.

Jennifer gazed at it in awe. She held her breath as it started to unfold, until at last she could see the words written in beautiful copperplate letters:

“Mr. Simon Black requests the pleasure of Miss Jennifer Meeks to accompany him this evening to Salem High Spring Prom.”

With trembling hands, Jennifer took out her pen and wrote a single word, “yes”. Instantly the butterfly reformed and fluttered over to Simon’s table. Simon read the word and smiled at Jennifer who nodded. It was going to be perfect, she thought.

 

Happy Valentines Day folks. Join me later today at the Owl You Need is Love Event on FB and check out my special Valentines word seek on Paws 4 Puzzles.