Hi Dear Readers,
Time for an update.
Presenting an excerpt of the (still-in-progress) first book, The Sundered Veil. Yes, it is a part of the Schattenreich (Celto-Germanic) universe, and yes, it is a new (fantasy) series, one that takes place in the Very Near Future. Yes, there are some familiar (but older) characters and many new characters.
Yes, I am still writing it, and yes, it is just to whet your appetite.
It started out as a short story and has now reached near novel length. I'm working on it steadily and it has, much to my surprise, now outpaced my progress on other projects so much that I'm devoting most of my writing time and research efforts to finishing it. Such is life.
I've also started a visual (but chaotic) story-elementing thing over at my Sundered Veil Pinterest board.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to a technical error, the KOBO promotion for Primary Fault ended five days too soon! I've adjusted the free promotion to run from now until August 21 (the promotion may take a day to go into effect, so check back again starting August 15!). My apologies if this error caused any disappointment.
Jeremiah: The DisappearanceNine months ago
My friends called me Jim. Short for Jeremiah. Not Jerry or Jem. Might be because my little sister could only manage 'Jimah' when she was…little. Everyone, myself included, thought it was way cute. My cousins shortened it to Jim, and it stuck. I preferred Jem because that would make me much more interesting, but was really glad no one called me Jerry.
Only three people called me Jeremiah - my father, one of my uncles and my cousin Theo - short for Theodor. Everyone called him Theo, even my uncle, his father, the one who also called me Jeremiah. Theo was named after his grandfather, who died shortly after his birth under mysterious circumstances. Mysterious, even for our family, and that was saying a lot.
I wasn't named for anyone. My dad just liked the name, according to my mother. My grandfather was also dead and, by all accounts, not-a-nice-person, and not one to name your son after. Okay with me.
Theo was late, as usual. I had anticipated that and brought my math textbook, Math for Information Technology and Dad's copy of Bronstein for reference. I settled myself in Theo's big comfy easy chair, probably an antique or something close to it -- complete with tattered knitted cotton armrest covers -- and popped open the bottle of Peters Kölsch I filched from the fridge along with an additional bottle in anticipation of Theo's arrival. A stack of firewood was piled next to the open fireplace, so I busied myself with starting a fire, hoping we would make a night of it.
I hadn't seen Theo in a while -- he'd only been home to Burg Lahn over the Christmas break for a couple of days -- and missed him terribly. I'd never tell him that, but I'm sure he knows it. He and his sisters worship their other sibling, Brevalaer, and I understood that, I really could, but Theo was my hero. I'd never made any secret about that. It was because I liked him, he was already a scientist and was mostly off doing scientist-type things with his life, and mainly just because he treated me like one of the family.
The first sip went down quick, all sparkly and cold with only a hint of hops to tickle my nose, and I automatically relaxed.
All was quiet, and there wasn't anyone else about. I had to let myself into the castle with Dad's key. Even the air had a quality of stillness I'd never felt here before -- or maybe never noticed. There was also that faint hint of violets that always seems to linger in this part of the castle. The only thing missing was…
"Hey, Jeremiah," Theo said as he sauntered into the room. "Sorry I'm late."
"No problem," I said and handed him his beer.
"A vintage Bronstein," he said with a smile and pointed to Dad's book. "Bronstein's the best. My copy's not near as cool as that one."
We clicked bottles together and took sips. He settled onto his non-matching couch next to me, right out of the IKEA catalog from five years ago, and slid his feet on the thick oak slab that passed for a coffee table, probably scavenged from the castle basement. Did I mention just how cool Theo is?
"Where is everyone?"
"They're all at one of Heiner's concerts. He's letting my sister join in for a couple of songs. A debut, so to speak. I begged off, saying I had to study for an exam retake."
"Gotcha. Although missing Jax's debut--"
"Needed them all to be gone for what's up for tonight." Theo sat back, a lock of his unruly wavy chestnut hair falling across his forehead.
His stockiness didn't hide the fact that he was fit. He had an athletic build, much closer to my uncle Heiner's than my uncle Hagen's, though he wasn't nearly as tall as either of them. Theo had an easygoing manner, not as obviously comfortable in his skin as his brother. That made me like him more, since I felt so awkward most of the time with my chunky build.
I had so often wished I were Theo in so many ways, and that was one of them.
"What's up for tonight?" I asked.
His eyes twinkled their dark blueness, enhanced by the room's dimness. My eyes, in stark contrast, were…just. plain. brown. Like my mom's. Nothing special. She's also plain. I meant to say, she's very pretty and all. Just not of the blood. Which made me a half-blood, in a manner of speaking.
Luckily, Theo didn't hold that against me, never has, always willing to help me improve my druid abilities. Even though he just called them skills. Schattenwerk. Shadowcraft, the way of doing stuff in the Otherworld. Even a half-blood like me possessed a native ability, but it needed to be directed and polished, like any ability. Like doing science or math. My dad was fully on board with the science and math, but not so much with the shadowcraft. My mother: vehemently against it.
I sighed. Theo took another chug of beer and grinned. "Not what, but when," he said. "We need to test your ability to time travel."
I choked on a swallow of beer and then wiped my mouth, laugh escaping. "Yeah. Right."
He nodded. "Walking the veil," he said. "You've heard of it?"
I nodded, hesitantly. "I've heard you guys mention it a time or two."
"It's one of those inherited things. Like curling your tongue or crossing your eyes." Theo proceeded to demonstrate his ability to do both at the same time.
"Your many talents never cease to amaze me, Cuz. So are you also good at time travel?"
He gestured with the bottle. "Nope. Not even a smidgen. I can't even walk the veil back a few minutes. Mama and Papa can go back centuries."
I couldn't fathom that. "And what makes you think I can do this walking thing?"
He shrugged. "Don't know till we try."
I leaned back; scratched at the stubble on my chin. "Forgot to shave this morning," I said.
"Still working on your game engine?" he asked with a sly grin.
My turn to shrug. "Not making much progress. But having fun getting there."
"I understand perfectly," he said. "When you're doing something you love, time just slips away."
"Another form of time travel. Okay, let's do it. How?"
He folded his legs under him in a graceful gesture that reminded me of his father. "We have to picture where we're going - you especially since you'll be the one guiding us there -- and then we mediate. It's really as simple as that." He slugged back the rest of his beer. "A couple more of these is necessary -- helps to be in an altered state -- but I'd like to try it without anything harder than a few beers."
We did that. But I had to stop in between to ask him what he really meant to do, the why. He just said, wiping a hand across his brow, "Need to find something…out. Don't want the others to know. Especially if there's nothing to it."
Based on his descriptions and what I remembered from the excavations near the Cologne Rathaus that had, after a decade of delays and mismanagement, been turned into a museum, I drew a mental picture of the place he had in mind. Somewhere between Roman Cologne and the arrival of Charlemagne, not that that narrowed it down. Much. But after some intense mediating, by some miracle, and the contents of at least a six-pack (I lost count) to pave the way while we drew up mental pictures of Cologne in the Middle Ages, we traveled the veil.
At first it smelled like old wood, alive, breathing, a subliminal whispering. Then sights, sounds and smells flew past, all distorted and too quick to sort, as if we were on a high-speed train racing through patchy bits of cold-studded fog. Suddenly it all stopped, a curious quiet surrounding us. I looked around and there it was. We had ended up next to the Roman well that Theo said was still in use during Charlemagne's reign.
Theo pounded me on the back. "Excellent, Jeremiah. I knew you had it in you." He walked up to the lip of the well and peered down. He grimaced. "It's pretty deep. This is going to be harder than I thought."
"What is?" I said, joining him and looking into the inky blackness of the well. I couldn't recall if this well was even open to visitors at the museum. If so, it wouldn't be possible to fall into it in our time. Here, in the depths of the Middle Ages, no safety net or warning signs were in evidence.
"The key to saving the veil," he said. "Without too many people getting hurt."
Before I could even ask him what the fuck, some dude with a blond braid down to his butt ran up and grabbed Theo, dragging him over the side, and the two of them plummeted into the well. I never even had a chance to react. I also never even heard an impact or any screams. I looked down into the darkness, hoping to see something and dreading to see crushed bodies at the bottom. But nothing. They were gone. Just like that.
I slid down on the cold ground and put my head in my hands. Shit, Theo. How do I get back? And my next thought, I can walk the veil. Oh yeah. I need to find time to feel guilty about that later.
The Sundered Veil, Copyright 2016 Sharon Kae Reamer, All Rights Reserved.
illustrations by: Yaroslav Gerzhedovich
(his pictures also adorn the covers of all my Schattenreich series novels as well as the header of this blog)