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And Summer Begins - June 7, 2024

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And Summer Begins - June 7, 2024

Dear Reader,

As summer begins, Haunted Echoes will serialize on Substack. The serial will post chapters on Saturdays at nine o'clock in the morning. It begins tomorrow, so if you want to read this ghost romance, the first few chapters will be free, then it will go behind the paywall. I ran into a snag when Substack stopped me from scheduling posts over three months away, but I posted them as drafts and will add them as I can.

Print copies of the first miniseries Kingdom Rising have posted to, and the bundles are in the works. But it's slow going.

I must admit at this point to feeling under the weather still. My bout with pneumonia has taken its toll and recovering seems to take forever. I'm glad for the summer off from the day job. I sorely need a couple of months to recharge and recuperate.

Behind-the-Scenes, Preorder Updates

Raven's Rescue book stack

Raven's Rescue, Volume 1 in the Valkyrie Riders miniseries, launches June 5, 2024 onto all the retailers. Ruined Lion, Volume 2 in the Lyons Gate miniseries, will follow it and post everywhere on June 19, 2024.

July 2024 should see three books launch wide. Grim Dark will launch July 3rd and Lord of Dragons will follow it on July 17. I'm working on Ghostly Kingdom and Devil's Sins. Whichever finishes edits first will launch on July 31.

I want to republish as much of the Draoithe Saga as quickly as I can, but it's a slog to edit it all and format everything. I have randomly published some of the flash fiction and smaller short stories, like A Conversation With Dragons, whenever I could. Expect more of that over the summer.

Video Production Updates

Arctic Fox Book Stack

I'm still working on manufacturing quote videos. If you want to see the latest one, check out Arctic Fox Quote. If you want to support my efforts, please like and subscribe to my faceless YouTube channel. The little things matter.

I added this video to the miniseries extras for Royal Council. This miniseries completed all chapter posts, but I can't help but revisit the early books as I edit and write the newer ones. It spurs my desire to reconnect with these characters and create more from their stories. In a strange way, I hope it offers readers, who enjoy the stories as serialized fiction, a value added to their purchase and allows them to reconnect with these characters as well.

Sneak Peek at Lunar Dark

Lunar Dark Book Cover


This is a work in progress and

is subject to change at any time.

Read at Your Own Risk!

Copyright 2024

All Rights Reserved.

Devil's Work

Evelyn, Thursday, October 13, 2016

Magic manifested itself from the mind of the wielder and followed the wielder’s intent. If she misinterpreted the spell, cast it unsatisfactorily, or if her aunts had explained it to her incorrectly, she might have a serious problem. The last thing she wanted was to compound things by adding magic which didn’t belong to her.

It wasn’t as if they wrote the spell yesterday. It was nearly as old as the prophecy itself. Worry and doubt plagued her, even if she was determined to fulfill her role in the Unlikely Kings’ prophecy. There were still too many loose ends.

Once again, she studied the scrolls and stopped at the rune for sacrifice. Although drawn strangely, she was sure it showed a sacrifice.

There was no question the sacrifice concerned the heart’s blood, similar to the ancient shattered soul sacrifices, but it still felt incongruous with the requirement for the wielder to be pure. Why would the moon’s power over blood magic be impacted by sexual innocence?

If the runes had an alternate meaning, she lacked the resources to determine it. Her study of magic runes was incomplete, and she lacked a proper teacher. She should have learned all of that over the past three years.

Maybe she could figure it out. Evelyn needed to see the spell to find out. But her magic hadn’t been strong enough until recently, and she was almost out of time.

Evelyn set her candles in their places and lit them, then turned off the lights in the apartment. It was close to midnight, so only the twinkling of stars and distant skyline lights intruded on the darkness lit by her candles.

Evelyn exchanged water for the required and still confusing heart’s blood, so she could see the shape of the spell. If her strength had risen high enough, as she believed, the spell would manifest as a ghostly version of the one she should cast on Devil’s Night. She would see a vision of how it functioned.

Evelyn practiced spell casting far longer than she studied the runes of the ancient prophecy fulfillment spell. She memorized the sing-song chant cadence required for spells as a child, and she spoke the ancient words as she learned them from her aunts.

The water rose from the floor to form the image of a trap shaped like an expanded hexagram inside another hexagram. Undetectable by all but the caster, the spell would last only until the trap closed. The mist held long enough for her to study the image before it collapsed.

A small puddle remained in the center of the inner hexagram, and the outline of a splayed body lay inside the smaller hexagram. So the sacrifice lay exposed in the center, and another body stood over it.

Was the sacrifice somehow becoming or creating the lure? And what were the two round smudges in the central point at the bottom of the hexagram and to either side of the head of the sacrifice?

Evelyn groaned. Her magic wasn’t strong enough yet, but she could see the shape of the inner trap spell. Drawn in blood, it had a diameter of six feet. It would come to life as her ancestors envisioned. As it was, it wouldn’t function correctly. There had to be a scroll missing, or her understanding was sorely lacking.

The trap required a lure, and a sacrifice to either create it or become it. The Unlikely Kings prophecy spoke of a lure of honey, which looked like money. An ancient demented bear shifter who possessed the magic of a druid king was the target. What should the lure be? How should she cast the spell to match her intent when she wasn’t sure what she wanted?

Evelyn sat mystified. A witch who read runes could help her with crafting a lure if she knew what was necessary. If the lure wasn’t gold or honey, what was it?

Evelyn couldn’t shake the feeling the entire spell had a sexual connotation. Was envy mixed with lust?

Her aunts hadn’t believed it, but Evelyn wasn’t so sure. She needed to find someone unbiased to consult. It wouldn’t hurt if they weren’t older than time and didn’t shelter her, either.

The lost bear king, who was supposed to be trapped in the spell, never mated. Shifters sought their mates to survive eternity. If it was likely, the bear would seek his mate. Sedr magic twined through the spell. Did it mean the sacrifice involved a woman? Wasn’t she supposed to find a man to act as a sacrifice?

What if the honey wasn’t the kind crafted by bees and packaged in jars as a sweet treat? What if it referenced a woman’s juices? Men often paid women for sex. In that case, honey equaled money. A woman must be involved in the crafting of the lure, and it might be more than as the spell’s conductor.

It was a requirement for the spellcaster to be pure. Evelyn had never slept with a man, so she had that part right, but what if the sedr magic played a larger role? What if the two bodies she saw were both sacrifices?

She compared the prophecy with the spell runes again and her eyes opened wide when they landed on the rune, which showed heart’s blood needed for drawing the hexagram. Did the strange way of writing it mean she had to sacrifice the man she loved? If so, how did she accomplish the task? She lacked a man of any kind, much less one she loved.

Maybe it was a young couple in love who became the sacrifice, and she was merely the spellcaster. How the hell was she supposed to force the magic to do her will if she didn’t know her will? She wanted to wad the scrolls up and burn them in her agitation.

There had to be another way. She needed the Lunar Guild’s knowledge. She no longer had that. The next best thing was a mage. One who was skilled at reading incantations and ancient runic languages. That wasn’t a simple thing to find and would likely cost her a small fortune. Worse, she needed to keep it all a secret.

She might need to seek a white witch or a hedgewitch. Who could she trust? Whoever it was, they needed connections. The chances she would find the exact person immediately were unlikely, not given what she needed. Evelyn would start with mages and immortals she knew her aunts worked with in the past.

Necromancers could explain it all to her, but they were creepy and had far too much interest in the dead to be trustworthy. If she never ran across another one like Blade, whom her aunts consulted concerning the prophecy when she was only a child, it would be too soon.

She shivered, remembering how strange the man seemed to her. It was as if Blade contained more than one soul in his body. He was the stuff of nightmares for a long time after her encounter with him, even though he was extra careful around her and the Lunar Magi.

The two-souled necromancer acted as if women and children were to be protected, but that hadn’t matched with the haunted, dark magical aura the man presented. He would be a last resort.

She huffed, irritated that her magic hadn’t risen enough for her to see more of how the spell functioned, and resigned herself to seeking help to locate a rune master soon. Evelyn rolled up the scrolls and blew out the candles, then she turned on the lights, erased the hexagram, and mopped up the water. The scrolls returned to her closet, and the coffee table resumed its place before the couch.

It was almost one in the morning, and Evelyn was tired after attempting the spell. A glass of wine, a good romance novel, and a bubble bath in the giant whirlpool tub might be in order before she called it a night.

Tomorrow, before she headed into the office, she would seek witches and mages in or near Chicago and see if anyone could help her. It was a risk to reveal herself to anyone not part of the Lunar Guild, but without the other magi to help her, Evelyn knew drastic measures were in order for her to cast the spell properly on Devil’s Night.

The idea of shirking her duty and not completing the mission never occurred to her. It was the one goal, her destiny, to achieve. Losing the magic in the dream couldn’t lay upon her head.

If it all disappeared after her twenty-fifth birthday, it would be because the prophecy went unfulfilled by another party, not the Lunar Magi.

She believed her aunts imparted the truth when they explained how the magic of the prophecy still held. It wasn’t perfect because the devil’s chaos magic frayed the edges beyond the original spellcaster’s intent. It was possible the copy of the spell written on the scroll she had wasn’t the original. If it was the original, as she believed, only the Lunar Magi could keep the prophecy in its original form and work the spells required to fulfill their part of it. They always served the House of Leiriu, and Evelyn was determined it should always be so.

Doing the devil’s work didn’t mean what people thought it meant. It was all about fulfilling her part in the prophecy and remaining hidden from the other players in the dream so the magic could use the ones it needed to achieve Lucifer’s demand. He wanted vengeance and to be reunited with his lost love.

If she was successful, and the others did their parts, the balance would exist, restored to its original perfect equilibrium. Those destined to remain hidden within the dream would remain so.

If Evelyn failed, there was no hope for any of them, and the magic would disappear. Lucifer intended the destruction of the dream if he lost all hope of claiming Airlea. Doing the devil’s work was the only chance any of them had to maintain the magic.

5 ways to help an author

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek at Lunar Dark. It's getting ready to set up for edits and post to the Mystic Dark Miniseries. I have too much work to do to hang around and chat any longer. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Until next weekend, please remember to be kind when you read and leave your reviews. Please know you are always welcome to the dream...

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Happy Reading,

Ophelia Kee

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