Is it that time again? Time flies when you’re on deadline! Well, um, self-imposed deadline that is.
Excerpt Monday was started by two lovely writers: Bria Quinlan and Alexia Reed. Visit the other links for some interesting reads from unpublished and published alike and if you’d like to join up for next month, take a look at the main site: The Excerpt Monday blog.
Excerpt Monday is back! The contemporary romantic elements, Shinjuku, was coming along nicely, but after a while, I realized I might want to submit it. I think the rule is no more than 10% can be excerpted, right? Hmmm…that’s probably a made up rule someone told me. Must research.
I’m falling back to the historical fantasy I’m working on for this month’s Excerpt Monday. It’s a full length novel, so I have some more leeway, right? At least until it’s picked up by someone. 😉
The first draft is halfway done and I am going to fight tooth and nail to finish it, despite a minor melancholy I’m currently suffering after finishing GGK’s Under Heaven. I posted the opening to Sorcerer’s Daughter a while back, before it had been titled. It’s about a mysterious branch of the Emperor’s guard tasked with fighting demons and evil spirits. Kind of like an imperial X-files, I suppose.
Tai Shen swung around to face the clearing behind them. The air around him thickened as his hand closed around his sword. Shadows twisted and danced. His senses became honed, focused as he drew from the spirit energy around him.
Jin’s warning wasn’t necessary. He could see the mass of demons now. They formed into a slithering horde around the altar house, rising from the earth and spinning out from the air.
So many. Memories of his village came to him in a flood. The demons had been invisible to him then. He’d only seen the deaths they’d caused.
A furnace raged at his back. The burning talismans would send the cabin up in flames.
“Get her out of there.” He shouted the command over his shoulder, then strode forward to face the gui.
The spirit realm surged around him as he unsheathed the blade. Wandering souls tugged at his mind, screaming into his ears like a deafening wind. They sensed his life-ridden body opening to their energy. Tai Shen wanted their power. He needed it to fight the demons before him, but the ghosts wanted his warmth in return. His breath and his pulse.
The demon horde took shape. They moved with wrenched bodies and claws that sprouted from what should have been hands. No two gui were ever alike. Symmetry was a law of nature.
Tai Shen drew the energy, the qi, through his sword and let it flow into his muscles as he focused only on the enemies in front of him. When the hunters fought together, they moved as if of one mind. That was the training. Jin would take care of the girl. The demons were his.
Tightening his grip, Tai Shen swung hard, blade set. The steel ripped through the front line. Putrid jelly fell to corrupt the ground where they landed.
The monsters solidified into bone and muscle and jagged teeth. A leathery creature leapt at him. Its eyes gleamed bone white through the darkness. The eyes were the worst to look upon. The eyes gave the semblance of something living, but they never closed. Not even when he cut off the head.
Tai Shen swiveled and cut down another one, his blade slicing clean. His heart pumped steadily. He controlled it with circular breath and will, slowed it even more as he moved faster. Qi flowed through him. He leapt above the thick of the oncoming horde and hovered suspended. Chose his targets. The wide arc of sweep of his blade cut through them like a scythe through the harvest. Yet more grew from the shadows.
“Where are they coming from?” he shouted.
“I don’t know.” Jin stood outside the cabin, keeping Song Yi close.
Tai Shen speared another creature through its torso. The next gui that approached from the darkness of the night was nothing like the monsters that littered the ground. It was a red-skinned demon, twice a man’s height. The body was nearly human. Arms and legs and a head, at least. A tongue of flame flickered from its wide mouth. It held a rusted broadsword in the grip of its claws.
He fell back a step. “Jin, go now.”
The red demon stared at Tai Shen with its tireless eyes. Its grin seemed to widen. That was another temptation — to believe that demonkind had human thoughts and emotions.
His hand tightened on his weapon. The lost souls around him wailed to be let in. They sensed what he was. A conduit, a vessel. The opposing forces of light and dark twined within him. Shifu had warned them to only take what they needed. The power would always tempt.
He launched himself upward. His feet lifted from the earth, higher than mortally possible. One well-placed strike at the thing’s neck was all it would take. Tai Shen drew his sword arm back to deliver the killing blow, but the red demon raised its broadsword. The two blades clashed with a shriek of metal. Tai Shen landed and dug his heels in to regain balance. His arms shook from the impact.
This was no mindless monster. Tai Shen had defeated worse, but he’d had help then. First Brother had fought by his side.
No time to think. The red demon was upon him again. Tai Shen deflected the first strike. This wasn’t like fighting another swordsman. There was no heart to pierce, no blood to spill. He dodged the second attack and somersaulted over the demon to land behind it.
A flash of white cloth caught his eye. Brilliant in the nighttime. He bit back a curse. Jin was supposed to get Song Yi out of there.
He needed to end this. The demon advanced on him, but as he raised his sword, a halo grew around the hulking beast. Brighter. Brighter still, before the demon melted away with nothing more than a whisper on the breeze.
Song Yi stood where the gui had been. She held a sword carved out of wood, arm stretched out from delivering the final blow. It was more a dancer’s pose than a warrior stance, elongated and graceful. Her white robe gleamed like new, soft snow.
I haven’t screened all of these myself, so please heed the ratings. These excerpts may contain content not typical of my site.
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