Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Susan's July Recap

~source~
Well, July has been a month of revision for me, and therefore a month of....
  • hiding in my house for long periods of time
  • consuming large amounts of chocolate
  • drinking unprecedented amounts of tea
  • running around my house silent-screaming (especially when I drank caffeinated tea by accident)
  • pacing around my room muttering to myself
  • and performing many, many almost-headdesks. 

An almost-headdesk is when you throw your head forward as if executing a headdesk, but stop short out of fear that you would break your laptop or your face.  I nearly gave myself a concussion this month from almost-headdesks.  Or whiplash, or something. 

I am happy to say that after all that, I completed yet another draft of THE MADMAN'S CROWN, and will send it to beta readers once I type up the final edits.  (Look out, my lovely, beautiful, saintly betas!  I have new and improved character arcs!  And resolution, to boot!  And fewer adverbs!)  I really, really, really hope it got better....

I also had a birthday this month. Which inspired a little bit of terror.  "AGE EXISTS, PEOPLE. AHHHHH!"   But then I realized I had a humongous chocolate cake to consume, and age didn't exist after all and everything was fine. 

How was your July?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Blog-Epic Returns!

Welcome back to the world of Marianne, the heroine of our summer Blog-Epic adventure! 


Here is the end of Part VII... 

Cayden swept them an elegant bow. "My name is Cayden Lirra, Lord Elaistro of Remington. A pleasure to meet you at last."

Anthony and Marianne stood aghast. Lirra was their own family name.

"But--but--"Anthony sputtered.

"You--" Marianne said.

Cayden smiled. "That's right," he said. "I've the family title. We're some sort of cousins, I think, but not by blood." he turned away from them and threw his arm over the Underworlder's shoulder again. "Our family tree is a map of odd second marriages as you of course know. Now do you want to come and see the digs?"


And here is Part VIII... 


As they followed Cayden and Sahrin through the dripping caverns, the torches grew far-between. 

“See in the dark, indeed,” Anthony muttered beside her.  “I’m not sure I like this newfound cousin of ours.” 

Marianne was growing quite annoyed with her brother.  “I think he’s charming,” she said loudly.  Cayden and Sahrin fell silent for a moment, and she felt herself blush. 

She heard Anthony spit in the darkness.  “Fish blood,” he whined.  “I can still taste it.” 

“Oh, come on, all you can taste is the—ah!”  Her sandal slipped on a slick stone step. 

A cold, wet hand grabbed her arm and steadied her.  “Careful there, daughter of the sun.”  It was a man’s voice, with only the slightest hint of Sahrin’s hiss. 

Marianne squinted through the darkness.  A pair of luminous eyes looked back at her.  “Hello?” she said, startled. 

The cold hand dropped from her arm.  “Elaistro!”  The man called, moving ahead of them.  The light of a small torch revealed a muscular young Underworlder in cutoff fish-scale pants.  He, Cayden, and Sahrin spoke in low voices.  Cayden motioned back at her. 

“Bwenlair?” said the newcomer.  He turned around, effortlessly pacing backwards over the slippery cave floor.  “My respects, Bwenlair.  And Bwenlair’s brother.”  He flourished his arms in a strange little bow and turned back to Cayden and Sahrin. 

“What did you call me?” Marianne said, grabbing Anthony’s arm as the torch faded behind them. 

Cayden called back to her.  “Bwenlair.  It means treasure-box.” 

She could hear the sneer in Anthony’s voice.  “My little treasure-box sister.” 

“Tony,” she whispered, holding on to his arm, “can you think of anything father told me that might have been important?  Because I don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about.” 

“No.”  Tony shrugged off her arm.  “I’m not the one you should be asking.  I’m just the inconsequential brother who gets abandoned and has to single-handedly escape from the Order, remember?  On a sickly dragon, no less.”

Marianne gasped.  “Janth!  I almost forgot—what happened to him, Tony?” 

“I left him gagging on Cayden’s roof.” 

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” 

“I don’t much care, Marianne.”    

“But I care!”  She glared in Anthony’s direction.  “He’s my dragon.  Father gave him to me!” 

Cayden’s voice echoed suddenly through the cave.  “You will do no such thing!” 

“Maybe we won’t have to,” Sahrin hissed.  “She may be…forthcoming.” 

A torch blazed to life and the three men stood in a line before Marianne and Anthony. 

“Bwenlair,” said the young Underworlder, nodding respectfully.  “Would you please share with us the secret your father imparted to you?” 

Caden looked at him with a guarded expression. 

“The powerful secret,” Sahrim hissed, leaning forward with the torch, “which the Order is seeking.” 

“I fear,” said Marianne, shivering, “that your treasure-box is empty.  I know of no powerful secrets.” 

There was a hint panic in Cayden’s eyes.  “Marianne, think.” 

She shrugged helplessly.  “I’m sorry.  I wish I knew.” 

The newcomer spoke firmly.  “Then we must leave her on the Dripping Ledge until she remembers.”    

Anthony grabbed her arm. 

“No!”  Cayden shouted, stepping forward to look the young Underworlder in the eyes.  “What good will that do?  It won’t help her think—it will terrify the wits out of her!” 

***** 

That's it for today! As always, you can view the preceding installments by clicking on the "Blog-Epic" tab underneath our beautiful header. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday



We haven't done one of these in a while either. I thought it might be fun.

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by YA Highway.


Today's question:

If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?


Reincarnated . . . as a fictional character. There's an odd thought.

Suddenly I'm having a Jasper Fforde moment, in which I arrive in the BookWorld to find I can't leave again, I've been endowed with a magical power, gramisites are nibbling on the edges of my book, and Heathcliff (on his way to Hollywood) has just wandered across the front lawn of my enchanted cottage.


That being said, I think that this morning I would like to be Beauty from Robin McKinley's Beauty.


Beauty has to leave her family, but she gets a beautiful enchanted castle instead. A castle full of every book that will ever be written and doors that open by themselves. A little breeze talks to her and dresses her in fairy princess dresses and she has a wonderful horse.

And let's not forget she gets a handsome prince at the end.

As well as getting to keep the castle and the princess dress.

Who would you be?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't forget to check out our Blog-Epic!

So far we have a beautiful heroine, a handsome stranger, dragons, flying horses, a secret cave twenty stories under the street, and an evil Order bent on the destruction of all that is good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking for Suggestions!

Writers:  how do you print your manuscripts?

I'll soon need to print a 110,000-word novel so I can have a paper copy for editing (and for cutting at least 10K of unnecessary words!).  It's a little over 400 manuscript pages.  Usually I can use the big printers at my school and get this done with relative ease...  But I'm home for the summer, and my poor little printer is not up for the task. 

So I've been researching other options.  If I calculated everything correctly, it would be around $40 to print at Staples...

And *enter confusion* I could get my draft as a printed, bound book from LuLu for more like $15. 

*ENTER MASS CONFUSION* 

So...is that a good idea?  Getting a bound copy of my draft to use for editing?  Apparently you can make a book private on LuLu so it would be only me who could see it.  And it really does appear to be cheaper.  Which is what we were aiming for, right?

Have you ever heard of writers using a print-on-demand service for editing or beta reading purposes?  I would really like to know if this is something people do. 

Any suggestions?  What is the cheapest, **and easiest** way to get a paper copy of my manuscript?  Is LuLu probably my best choice if I get it bound?  Will there be copyright issues if I use a print-on-demand service?  (I don't think there would be, but I'd research it thoroughly of course.<--We're losing "easy" points...)

Thanks in advance for any help. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow Friday

We haven't done Follow Friday for ages!  So here goes...



Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read

This week's feature blogs are A Glass of Wine and Booktastic Reviews.  To see how you can join the fun, click HERE, or on any one of those lovely blogs. 


This week's question: 

It's Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

My birthday is July 26th, so Christmas in July is kind of a real thing for me.  *smiles impishly* 

I would pick: 

Austenland:  A Novel by Shannon Hale
(Tyler-Rose has been recommending this one to me for months.  It sounds like it's hilarious, and has the general effect of, "You think YOU'RE a hopeless romantic?  Think again!") 

and

The Eyre Affair:  A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde. 
(I accidentally purchased one of the LAST books in this series a while ago.  It was called "First Among Sequels," okay?  Even though I was fantastically confused when I tried to read that one, it was clear that Jasper Fforde was a genius, who, on top of being hilarious, had created a world that all readers, writers, and otherwise book-fans need to see.) 

Happy Friday, everyone! 


By the way, we're doing something new for the summer--writing serial blog fiction!  So far our story includes flying horses, a mysterious and handsome hero, remarkably good blackberry pie, a sickly dragon, and fishscale-wearing, fishblood-drinking cave-people.  See the latest installment or click on the "Blog-Epic" tab if you want to check it out.  :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Part VII

To recap:

Anthony broke in to the conversation. “I thought it was just a personal vendetta.”

Cayden smiled grimly. “You were wrong. That wasn’t even the first time the Order acted against our family.”

Anthony and Marianne stared at him.

“What?” he said.

“You said ‘our family’,” said Anthony.

“Oh, well,” said Cayden, brushing it away. “I meant your family, of course.”

Marianne wasn’t sure about that excuse, but Anthony seemed to accept it. “So what’s in this?” he said, holding up his almost-finished glass.

Cayden savored another sip and smiled. “Whiskey, and the blood of a cave-fish.”

Anthony gagged and spit out the last mouthful behind his stalagmite seat. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part VII

"Why, in the name of all that's holy," Anthony dragged his sleeve across his mouth, obviously preferring the taste of wool coat to cave-fish blood. "would anyone drink this swill?" he finished, still coughing and spitting.

Cayden looked at him benignly. "You'll want one before you are done with all this. The Underworlders discovered early on, and quite by accident, that cave-fish blood does wonders for the eyesight." Cayden's eyes flickered dangerously and suddenly Marianne could believe anything about him. He went from the courteous friendly aristocrat to something quite different and back again so quickly she could barely keep track. "Drink enough of this," he continued, sipping his whiskey, "and you can see in the dark."

Anthony looked sceptical, but Marianne believed Cayden. How Anthony had the gaul to look sceptical after everything they had seen, she didn't understand. She had always been under the impression that their was something seriously wrong with her brother, but this confirmed it.

Cayden saw her widened eyes and mistook her irritation with her brother and her surprise at the fact that she believed all the fantastical things Cayden was telling them for some other emotion. He smiled and took another sip of his whisky. "Don't worry," he told her. "Yours has a touch of the blood as well, but Larrish Necter has other benefits."

He set his empty glass down on the counter top and got to his feet. "Now, I think we should--"

"Elaistro," a rustling, hissing voice interrupted him.

All three of them turned--Cayden with a smile and Anthony and Marianne with varying degrees of alarm and horror on their faces--to confront the speaker.

One of the Underworlders stood before them. He was as tall as Cayden and thinner than both the other men. His skin, now that Marianne could see it up close was nearly translucent. She could see blue veins curling and flickering just under the surface of his skin. He fish scales that fluttered around him in such a way that Marianne could not tell whether it was cloth that he wore or part of his anatomy. The Underworlder blinked at them with round luminous pale eyes.

Cayden grinned. "Sahrin," he said and stepped forward to shake the strange man's hand. Cayden clapped him on the back then recoiled and laughed. Cayden shook himself sending drops of some liquid flying. "Been looking at the digs, I see," he said.

The man turned slightly and Marianne saw that there was indeed a dark substance smeared on the the man's shoulders and across the bridge of his nose.

"It is good to see you bottom side again, my friend," the Underworlder hissed. "It is near complete I think." He blinked slowly and turned his eyes on Anthony and Marianne where they stood gauping. "And who are these? I've not seen them in the shadows before." He smiled a strange wide smile and bowed to them. "Though any friend of Elaistro is welcome here, especially those who support the cause."

"This is the girl I told you about," Cayden said to the man.

"Is she now?" the man said and fastened his eyes onto Marianne.

Cayden turned to Anthony and Marianne. "I'm sorry, I should have introduced you. This is Sahrin," the creature nodded, not taking his eyes off of Marianne. "He is one of the leaders of our little rebellion. He is responsible for much of the clearing of the main cavern and is now overseeing the digs, which,"Cayden looked at Sahrin for confirmation, "are near finished. When that is done our final preparations for the overthrow of the Order will be in place." Cayden turned away from them to look into the dark. "By this time tomorrow this should all be over."

He turned back to them, his mouth set in a grim line. "I have a feeling we are going to need whatever it is you know before we before much longer." They stood in silence for a moment. Marianne felt that she could practically hear the Underworlder blinking at her.

In a moment Cayden shrugged off some of his gravity."But that is many hours away yet. Come, let Sahrin show you the digs." He turned and put his arm around the Underworlder's shoulders. They began to walk off into the dark, muttering together in some tongue Marianne had never heard before.

Anthony shrugged and started to follow, but Marianne didn't move a step. There were questions that needed answers before she followed anyone into the dark. "Stop!" she called.

Cayden and the Underworld halted and Cayden dropped his arm from around his friend's shoulders. "Yes?" he said.

"You said 'our family'. I want to know what you meant. You keep dodging questions. It's time you give us a few solid answers. Why 'our family'? Who are you, Cayden? Who are you really?"

Cayden swept them an elegant bow. "My name is Cayden Lirra, Lord Elaistro of Remington. A pleasure to meet you at last."

Anthony and Marianne stood aghast. Lirra was their own family name.

"But--but--"Anthony sputtered.

"You--" Marianne said.

Cayden smiled. "That's right," he said. "I've the family title. We're some sort of cousins, I think, but not by blood." he turned away from them and threw his arm over the Underworlder's shoulder again. "Our family tree is a map of odd second marriages as you of course know. Now do you want to come and see the digs?"
  

Monday, July 16, 2012

AAAHH!

Well, I was going to write a cheery post about where we've been and what we've been doing and why we haven't been posting, but . . .

That's not gonna happen.

Because I just had to buy my text books for the next semester of college,


and they cost an excess of $500.

 Gah. Hah. Gack. Hack. Schreeeech. 

That's the sound I, my father and my bank account made.


Anyway,

I haven't been posting because I have been participating in NaNoWriMo July Edition with some of my friends from high school and have been diligently writing my 1,667 words a day to reach my goal. After work and that there is not much energy left over for blogging. By then I mostly want to sit around and watch bad (but oh so amusing) TV shows. By the way, I have 30,000 words left to go in the month of July.

And I don't know where Susan is.

I assume she's in a hole somewhere, madly editing her manuscript. Possibly with her family lowering food in a basket to her.

Or, rather, letting her pull it up. Because Susan lives in a tower.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Blog Epic. You may expect it upon the 'morrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Voice of an Angel

An angel of music, that is.


He sang the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary version at the Royal Albert Hall. I love The Phantom of the Opera (book, show, movie, spin-offs, bad sequels etc.) and Ramin Karimloo is my favorite Phantom.

My love of The Phantom of the Opera sort of hits me in waves. It goes away for a few months, maybe a year. I don't listen to the album, read the book or think about the story. Then I catch the smallest snatch of melody or see a masked face and suddenly I've listened to both the movie soundtrack and the original cast recording, seen the movie, watched the bad sequel in 20 minute segments on YouTube.

So, his new album just came out. I bought it. I've listened to it a few (ha!) times. And now I'm rereading The Phantom of the Opera.


This song is on the new album.

(It's from Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's less popular sequel to The Phantom of the Opera )


And one more thing . . .


However, I think some of the impact of this reality check
is sort of lost
with Gerard Butler staring at you.
(source)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blog-Epic, Part VI

I was a bit rushed to write this, but instead of turning out short as I intended, it turned out to be rather lengthy. 

Not sure how that happens, but here we go...

Oh, also!  We have two words of the day:  stalactite, which is a rock formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave, and stalagmite, which is a rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave. 


The end of Part V

“We are at the source of hope for our city, the lair of those who have sworn to exterminate the Order." Cayden stepped into the doorway. "Come and meet them."

Marianne pushed herself to her feet and brushed dust off her purple gown. She stepped to his side and looked into an enormous cavern.

Great dripping daggers of stone hung from the invisible, dark ceiling and slippery spears rose to meet them. Torches in nooks and crannies and metal barrels holding bonfires cast flicking light over the great space and spread a little warmth in the damp chill of the cavern. And
among the spears and swords of stone and the barrels and torches moved the strangest crowd Marianne had ever seen.


Part VI


 
A small fraction of them looked perfectly normal. The kind of people Marianne could meet at a party or see selling fruit in the market near her house. 

 But the rest of them—the majority of the crowd—were like nothing she had ever seen.  She got a closer look as Cayden led her and Anthony deeper into the cave.  Their skin was pale and grey as a cloudy sky, their round eyes flickered eerily in the firelight, and they wore clothing of a light, shimmery substance that was even paler than their skin. 

"Fish scales,” said Cayden, following her line of sight.  “The native Underworlders, those who have lived here all their lives, clothe themselves in the scales of the cave fish.”  He lowered his voice.  “We’ve offered them every kind of fabric you can think of, but they don’t want it.” 

Anthony stepped out in front of him.  “What the hell is going on?” 

Cayden smiled as if he were about to make a joke, then clapped Anthony on the back.  “Come along, you two.  I promised explanations.”  He made a sharp turn and led them under a row of stalactites that seemed to mark out a street.  “And speaking of explanations, how did you get away from the Order’s men, anyway?” 

Marianne cut in.  “You mean you weren’t sure he would get away!”  

Cayden looked annoyed.  “As I said, they didn’t want Anthony, they wanted you.” 

“Well, they did want me, as I'm sure you knew,” said Anthony bitterly.  “To use me as ransom or something.” 

“But then how did you get away?  You were sorely outnumbered!”  Anthony had been trained to fight, but Marianne had never really see him excercise that ability. 

“Well…it was Janth.  He vomited up some really impressive lava.  Which freaked out the horses of the Order’s men enough that we had time to get away.”

Marianne glared at Cayden.  “You said….” 

“Ah!” Cayden's face lit up.  “Here we are!” 

The cave opened up into a slightly brighter area—the frequency of torches and fire-barrels increased, casting the slimy rock formations in a red-orange glow.  People sat around on chopped-off stalagmites, and a bar had been erected in front of a dripping rock-face. 

They settled on three of the stone stumps together—Marianne found hers hard and cold, but less uncomfortable than she would have thought.  She understood that there wasn’t a need for a roof, but it made the place feel open and bare.  She shivered, part from the cold draft that blew through her dress and part from the way the place made her feel. 

Cayden held up a lazy hand.  A man wearing an apron of pale scales came over to him.  “One Larrish Nectar and…”  He eyed Anthony.  “Two Night Whiskeys.” 

“Yes, sir.”  The man walked over to the bar. 

“Now,” said Cayden, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees, “as to Anthony’s question of what the hell is going on, these—“  He jerked his blonde head at the general populace.  “Are a secret group of people, known to themselves as the Underworlders, known to me as the Underwearers, who have pledged loyalty to the cause of exterminating the Order.  Some of us are trained as assassins, some of us simply support the group, and some of us—mostly the native Underworlders—are skilled miners who make places like this possible and are currently working to tunnel secret access into many of the Order’s headquarters.  Some of us also perform all three functions.” 

Marianne suspected that Cayden fit into the last group. 

The man in the fish-scale apron arrived with their drinks.  Anthony and Cayden had stout glasses of pinkish-orange liquid.  She watched Anthony’s face as he took a drink and gathered that it was something strong. 

She herself received a stone mug of something warm, sweet, and spicy.  She smiled contentedly into the steam. 

Anthony swallowed hard and looked at Cayden.  “You haven’t explained why the Order wants Marianne.” 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This Made My Day

I just thought I would do a good service to the blogosphere and share ;)


Period Drama Men // Sharp Dressed Man





My most abject thanks to Shelly of Writing with Shelly and Chad for bringing it to my attention and thereby making my day.
 
And that's all for today...  *swoon*

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Part V

The end of Part IV:

Cayden poked at his slice of pie and raised a blonde eyebrow. "Would've been fantastic served fresh. Digby! Why didn't I get to eat these berries fresh?"

Some rather loud mumbling came from behind the door.

Cayden's handsome face scrunched up in befuddlement. "They were a strange color? Come out here so I can hear you!"
 
Marianne's patience was gone. "Excuse me!"
 
He blinked at her, pausing with a forkful of pie halfway to his mouth. 

Marianne drew herself up in the blue glass chair and tried to look commanding. "I demand answers."

A shadow crossed Cayden's face. She had apparently spoiled his fun. "You'll have them when your brother gets back. Which should be..." He cocked his blonde head, listening. "Ah, that could be him."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part V

Marianne turned her head as she too heard the thunder of well-heeled boots and indistinct yelling approaching the dining room.
Cayden smiled and set his brass fork down. "I think that is definitely your brother."

Marianne glanced at him then back at the door where the gears had whirred to life. But instead of opening the the door smoothly as happened when Cayden and Digby had passed through, the gears stopped with a nasty crunch and sat shivering, trying futilely to continue their assigned tasks.

Cayden came to his feet. "He's ruined my door! That overzealous, pig-headed--"

The door flew open and hit the blue wall with a crash that shook the windows in their frames and knocked a little dusting of plaster off the frescoed ceiling.

Anthony stood in the doorway with what remained of his driving whip in his hands and murder in his dark eyes. "You!" he said to Cayden who stood poised with one hand on the table ready either to defend himself or flee.

Anthony stormed in, but instead of leaping at Cayden's throat, he dropped his ruined whip, grabbed the black table runner with both hands, and yanked.

The table runner, along with table ornaments, candelabra, fruit bowl, tea service and the remains of the pie whizzed along the brass surface and landed to clang and shatter in a heap. Anthony jumped forward, and with a last vicious snatch, got a hold of Marianne's pie plate and smashed it on the top of the pile at his feet.

Anthony's hand fastened around Marianne's upper arm. "Don't eat anything he gives you," he snarled. "It's sure to be poisoned."

Cayden set both hands flat on the table and leaned forward, narrowing his blue eyes. "Now see here, sir," Cayden said to the livid Anthony. "I will tolerate your defense of your sister. It's only understandable. I will allow your treatment of my china. I was never fond of that service anyway. I will even forgive you putting your whip between the cogs of my excellent door. However, I will not tolerate an insult to my hospitality or to Digby's pie!"

Anthony looked momentarily taken aback. He opened his mouth. "I--"

"Sit down, sir. And shut your mouth. I don't want to hear you speak again if you wish to learn why you are here."

Marianne tugged on Anthony's arm and he dropped to the chair next to her.

Cayden spun and stalked towards the open door. "Digby!"

The squat man looked around the edge of the open door with his eyes wide. "Glad to see you are all in one piece, sir," he said.

"Digby, about the young man's dragon--" A siren screeched somewhere deep in the house, cutting him off. Anthony and Marianne jumped in surprise and Cayden and Digby froze as if listening to words they couldn't quite make out in the shreik of the siren.

The siren grew in intensity and Cayden threw his head back in surprise. "Good God, what did they bring? A battering ram?" He and Digby ran for one of the large windows, closely followed by Anthony and Marianne.

Marianne craned her neck to see over the shoulders of the taller men. She glimpsed what must be Cayden's front walk swarmed by men in black and red robes. There were a few little clumps of three or four standing about on Cayden's front lawn, talking and gesturing urgently and another larger group clustered around the front door.

"The Order," Marianne breathed. "How did they find us?"

"Unfortunately they've known where I live for years." Cayden turned away from the window and ran a hand over his blond hair. He turned and smiled at Marianne and Anthony. "Well, it appears that explanations will have to wait. Follow me." He turned and strode towards the open door.

Marianne and Anthony hesitated.

Cayden stopped and turned back to them. "Oh, they're going to break in, never fear. If you don't want to be taken by the Order, you'll come with me." He turned and disappeared out the door with Digby, Marianne and Anthony hurrying after him.

Cayden led them quickly up another narrow staircase and into dim, twisting, wood paneled hallways. He stopped in front of one panel of seemingly identical part of wall . He reached out and set his hand on the carved center. There was a click and the panel swung open, revealing a platform and more spinning brass gears. Cayden jumped forward, with Digby close at his heels, and seized a lever attached to one of the cogs. "Come on!"

With a glance at each other, Anthony and Marianne stepped onto the trembling, humming platform. Cayden smiled. "Here we go," he said and threw the lever.

The platform shuddered, then dropped into the dark below so fast Marianne's hair was blown upwards. She gripped the rail so hard it cut into her hands and a scream tore from her throat that flew over the rumble of the spinning cogs. Surely they were going to be smashed to bits when they hit the bottom. If they ever found the bottom at all.

Suddenly, Cayden threw all his weight against the lever and the platform slammed to a halt. Anthony and Marianne both fell with the impact. They lay gasping for a few moments in the sudden silence.

Marianne was the first to raise her head. "Where are we?" she asked, breathlessly.

She could practically feel Cayden smile in the dark. "At the bottom. Twenty floors below the street," he said. A screech split the silence as the wall on the side platform swung laboriously open and flickering light flooded into the dark shaft.

"But where are we?"

"We are at the source of hope for our city, the lair of those who have sworn to exterminate the Order." Cayden stepped into the doorway. "Come and meet them."

Marianne pushed herself to her feet and brushed dust off her purple gown. She stepped to his side and looked into an enormous cavern.

Great dripping daggers of stone hung from the invisible, dark ceiling and slippery spears rose to meet them. Torches in nooks and crannies and metal barrels holding bonfires cast flicking light over the great space and spread a little warmth in the damp chill of the cavern. And among the spears and swords of stone and the barrels and torches moved the strangest crowd Marianne had ever seen.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check out the "Blog Epic" tab if you were so foolish as to miss parts I-III! Part IV can be found if you scroll down a little bit. I am currently in the mountains where the internet is unreliable. Its amazing I've been able to post the above.