It’s Nearly October!

I love this time of year. I love the crisp air and the changes in the leaves. I love hot chocolate and pumpkin spice and gingerbread. The nights are drawing in and it’s time for snuggling down. I stock up with as many candles as I can get away with, drag out all the blankets, and enjoy the feeling of being safe and snug away from the weather. All the spooky stuff that comes with Halloween is a wonderful bonus.

I can never keep away from the supernatural when writing, and this time of year I embrace it with enthusiasm. In the last few years I’ve made a thing about posting loads of stories in October and I want to continue. And of course I’ve also signed up to the amazing October Frights again, which is always good fun.

This year I’ve decided to go ghostly. One of my favourite characters is Kane, the quiet, unassuming, somewhat shy lad who can talk to ghosts. Well, it’s more like the ghosts insist on talking to him whether he wants to listen or not. He’s such a sweetheart. I thought I would spend some time with him this October and I’ve made some provisional plans. I’ll be the first to confess that my ability to stick to plans is spectacularly bad, but I’m quietly confident on this one.

I’ve decided to share six new stories about Kane during the October Frights. I’ve had these ideas rattling around for a while and I thought it would be a good time to take him in a slightly new direction. The poor lad doesn’t know what’s coming for him. As a way of celebrating the spectral season, I’ll be republishing one of Kane’s old stories every day in October outside of the October Frights for a trip down memory lane. I really enjoyed revisiting them as I was reminding myself of his journey, so I thought I would share. The first story featuring Kane was back in March 2019, and as all his stories had been scattered around with months in between, I thought it would be nice to have a reminder.

While I’m talking about Kane, please send me all encouragement and I hope to finally get a novel with Kane as the hero out before the end of January. He deserves a little bit of the spotlight and possibly a chance of romance. I can’t see it being a series, and I’m sure that I’ll write the occasional short story afterwards, but I think he deserves to be a hero for at least a little while.

October won’t be only about Kane, though. I still plan to keep up the instalments of ‘Invitation Accepted’ and the guest posts for #HazardousToYourSanity and perhaps a post or two on research as I’ve had a few ideas about that. Mind you, I’ve mentioned how abysmally awful I am at plans.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have the same soft spot for Kane. Let me know what you think of the plans – and the chances of me managing them!  

Invitation Accepted Chapter Twenty Three

Gareth grunted with effort as he lifted his corner of the machine piece. “Here?” he asked as he looked at the new weaver. He still wasn’t used to being used as muscle. All the training had bulked him out, though, and he was now called to help move heavy things.

Dawn frowned and looked between the end of the loom and the window. “I’m not sure,” she said.

Gareth stared at the brownie in frustration. “Most of the year you’ll be working in the dark,” he said. “You’ll be doing the night shift. The window doesn’t matter. You’ll be using lights.”

Dawn considered that morsel of information and then looked up. “The lights are wrong,” she said.

“Of course the bloody lights are wrong,” Vince said. The goblin glared as he stalked across the floor. “Just put the damned loom somewhere and we can sort out the lights around it. You brownies are all the same.”

“If you mean we want things done right, then yes!” Dawn said. She looked over to the door. “I don’t want a draught.”

Gareth leant against the loom and caught Kidder’s eye. The young werewolf was trying not to laugh. “I’ll just take five minutes,” Gareth said.

“No!” Dawn said. “We’re going to get it right now. Do you know how long it can take to dress a loom? We can’t be wasting time.”

“You are wasting time, you daft biddy,” Vince said. “This should have been set up hours ago but you keep messing us around. Get that broomstick out of your fat backside and get on with it.”

Jed, also recruited to help lift the loom leant close to Gareth. “How many humans are there here?” he asked.

“It’s not ‘human’, it’s ‘non-normal’ and it’s just you and me,” Gareth said. “Technically we’re normals.” He thought for a moment. “For a given definition of normal.”

Jed shook his head. “Because it sounds like my mum and dad arguing when they move furniture.”

“It’s the air that worries me,” Dawn said. “I don’t want dust collecting and making a fire risk.”

Vince snorted. “All the weavers and crew are brownies,” he said. “There’s more chance of me getting lucky with…”

Dawn held up an imperious hand. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence, young man,” she said. “There’s a lady present.”

Vince looked her slowly up and down. “No,” was all he said but Dawn flushed red with anger.

Gareth stepped quickly between them. “Please, we need to get this sorted out now,” he said. “I’ve got duties out there, and I know that the sooner we have the old looms in place, the sooner we can start.” He looked between the two adversaries. “You know how bad it’s been.”

“He’s been working around the clock,” Kidder added. “It’s been scary.”

Dawn glared at Vince and then sniffed. She looked around again and nodded. “I need the main housing here,” she said, pulling some chalk out of her pocket and marking the stone floor. “But the lights will need to be moved.”

Vince looked thoughtfully at Gareth. “Was it you or Bron that helped out my brother-in-law at the garage?” he asked. “Because that was bad. You were with Sir Philip, weren’t you?”

“It was Bron,” Gareth said. “But he told me about it. Sir Philip has been a real help.”

Vince pursed his lips and then nodded. “I can get the lights sorted out, no problem,” he said. He looked over at Dawn. “Once the machine is in position, mark where you need extra lighting. And I’ll bring over some lamps to keep you going while you get it all threaded up.”

“Thank you,” Dawn said. “Getting the loom dressed is going to be something of a challenge. The pattern is…” she hunted for a tactful description. “The pattern is very lively. I don’t know why they didn’t stick to a traditional cream or a nice soft green.”

“I like a bit of colour,” Vince said, rubbing a hand down his greasy overalls. “A bright pink would be nice.” He looked around the astonished expressions. “What? I like pink. But a blanket has to be plain or the pattern keeps you awake.”

“Well, we’re not being paid to use them,” Dawn said. “And that’s just as well. Anyway, I’ve got some snacks in the meeting room. When you’ve moved the loom, come down and I’ll make some tea.”

Vince rubbed his hands together as Dawn stalked out. “At least we get a good feed out of that,” he said gleefully. “Now let’s get this machine in place.” He patted the cast iron affectionately. “They don’t make them like this anymore.”

“And there’s a reason for that,” Gareth said as he took his corner.

Jed grunted with effort as they shifted the pieces of the loom into place. “How old is this loom? It looks older than me.”

“And the rest,” Vince said as he deftly connected the pulleys. “This is probably about a hundred years old, or maybe a little more.” He slotted a shaft in place and pulled out a spanner to tighten the nut. “The target audience is elfen, though, and they’re not good with modern stuff. Most of them can’t deal with cars, never mind computers or smart phones.” He checked the sit of the bolt and moved on. “Can you move that a smidgeon to the right, your other right, that’s it.” He fitted another bolt. “From what I’ve heard, you have the deal because it’s older stuff. It’s 100% woollen blankets, made on old looms, dyed in stupid patterns and brownie made.”

“It’s not that our day crew can’t handle it,” Gareth said. “But it sealed the deal.” Luke had been grumbling about it all week. “And with it being strictly at night, it makes the best use of the space.”

Jed grinned. “It doesn’t put too much load on the electrics,” he said. “I heard Luke swearing about how much rewiring would cost and how with the extra machines, because of the extra demand, he can’t get out of it.”

“So running this at night spreads the electrical load,” Gareth said. He checked the machine. “Is that it?”

Vince nodded. “It’s in place now. Me and my boys will get it running by the end of the week,” he said. “Now, let’s get down to those snacks.”

Jed looked at Gareth as they straightened and dusted down their clothes. “Are the snacks that good?” he asked.

Kidder grabbed Jed’s arm. “They’re better than good. You like Mortimer’s cooking, don’t you?” he said.

Jed nodded. “It’s amazing,” he said. “Food fit for the gods. It’s why I keep bringing the beer around and scrounging dinner.”

“Mortimer is only a beginner compared to Dawn,” Kidder said. “Don’t keep her waiting!”


Kidder forced himself to open his heavy eyes. What had happened? He rolled over and pushed himself to his knees, shivering. He was in a cage in the centre of what felt like a cellar. Cold radiated from the stone floor and into his bones. He staggered to his feet and groaned. His clothes were missing and the cool, damp air sucked the heat from him. He grabbed hold of the bars and forced himself to stay upright. He had been late leaving the mill as he had stayed behind to help Dawn move in the threads she needed. She had given him a large paper bag full of snacks and told him to be careful and go straight home. Kidder felt himself sway and leant against the bars. He had been cutting across a park when everything had gone fuzzy.

As Kidder’s wits returned, he looked around as much of the cage as he could see in the dim light. There was a narrow cot on one side, a lidded bucket in a corner and a silicon dog bowl of water was placed next to a silicon dog bowl of kibble. After all the snacks he had devoured earlier, Kidder wasn’t hungry but his mouth felt dry and dusty. Without thinking, Kidder went to fur and trotted over to lap thirstily at the water, glad of his wolf shape as it kept out the cold. The water was cool and refreshing and he drank eagerly.

“Hello, Kidder,” a voice said behind him. “Don’t worry about changing.”

Kidder turned around and padded towards the voice. A door had opened in the corner and light spilled in, showing a dusty room with boxes stacked in corners. The tall, cadaverous figure facing him was unnerving.

“My name is Edragor,” the figure said. “You need to eat and drink and build up your strength.”

Kidder tried to shift back from fur but he couldn’t shake his wolf shape.

“I’m sorry to be deceptive,” Edragor said. “But I put a little something in your water. For now, you’ll stay in wolf form.” He smiled thinly. “You have a little less impulse control and logic in that shape. Don’t worry too much. It’s just a way of making sure that we become friends.”

Kidder felt his lips lifting in a snarl as he backed away from the figure.

“You won’t be able to stay away from the water,” Edragor said. “I did mention about the lack of impulse control, didn’t I? But I’ll look after you. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

You can find the story from the beginning here

Failing at Planning

I couldn’t find an image on Unsplash that gave any hit about the chaos of my planning, so I dug out one of my old pics

I am useless at planning, which annoys me. Many, many years ago I worked in jobs that demanded accurate and speedy work with seriously hard deadlines, but those skills are long gone. For ages I’ve tried to stick to a timetable of a little fiction on most Mondays, a little chat on some Wednesdays and an occasional book review on Fridays. Recently that has gone so far out of the window that it can’t be seen with a telescope.

This doesn’t just apply to my writing, by the way. I have a mound of knitting projects that have been started and forgotten that is large enough to hide a lost city. I am on Christmas card terms with all the delivery people around here as I have so many internet impulse buys. And my poor husband has learned to live with my erratic attitude to grocery shopping.

Another example of my note taking

To be fair to myself, I’ve recently been busy with a lot of projects. This is partly because in nearly sixty years of life I have not learned how to set realistic goals. The quirkiest project that I’ve been involved with is #HazardousToYourSanity where a number of different bloggers write about projects that interest them. I’ve contributed a couple of posts about British Superstitions, here, here and here and there have been all sorts of topics from other authors, such as soup recipes, music playlists and some very spicy ideas. I’m committed to regular spots in the roster and I’m a couple of pieces ahead now, which is a relief. I was also incredibly honoured to be asked to write the Afterword for the next Kindle edition of A Place Called Paradise by Essie Summers. I’ll share when that comes out, but my part in that is now pretty much done so that’s off the list.

Of course, October is rapidly approaching and as so much of my writing revolves around the supernatural, I feel that I have to go for it. October Frights is back between October 10th and October 15th again, organised by the amazing AF Stewart. I have already got some stuff sorted out for that, and I’m planning a few good things for the rest of October, so watch this space!

Of course, Invitation Accepted is continuing and I have a lot of plans for that.

I am always reluctant to post that I am going to do something, as chaos always follows. If I say I’m going to turn right then, no matter what I do, I turn left every time. However I’ve finished the next instalment of Invitation Accepted and cued it up to be published on Monday, I’ve picked a book to review in eight days time, so the next realistic Friday, and I’m making notes about what I can chat about next Wednesday. I’m hoping that I can get back on track in time for October.

Now all I have to do is try and rein in my imagination and be realistic about what I can do in October – but I think it will still be worth it to watch this space!

Reading Can Be Tricky

I read in weird ways. I suppose it partly comes from too much screen time and partly because of the way my reading has evolved. I have the Kindle app on my phone and it has been a blessing when I’ve been waiting for my darling son. But my elderly phone gets drained by the kindle app so I often read on the kindle app on my laptop instead. As I don’t seem to sync them up right, I’m usually reading one book on my phone and a different book on my laptop.

But sometimes I review books and I’ll be dipping into that book at the same time as I’m dipping into the sort of stories that I don’t want to admit to reading – at least not in front of my teenage son. Not only is Romance not dead but it’s available in large quantities if you know the right apps. Of course, sometimes I dip into places like Royal Road as well, and I’ve rummaged through quite a few old books via the Gutenberg project which I usually download and then read on the Calibre app (which is also pretty good for formatting my self published stuff).

That’s just the ebooks. I usually have a non-fiction physical book around to dip into as well. I’ve been looking into a lot of the superstitions as research for my series on #HazardousToYourSanity so I’ve got a small hardback reference on local superstitions by my chair and another paperback book of fables in my knitting bag.

This isn’t something to be proud of. I’m surprised that I can mostly keep straight with the different plots, especially if you add in all the extra plots that are happening in my own writing. However I’m not so much ashamed of it. What is making me uncomfortable is the typos.

Neil Gaiman said that no matter how much you proofread a story, the first thing you would see when you opened a physical copy would be a typo. And it’s true – only God is perfect. I’ve heard that there are rug makers hand knotting expensive rugs who deliberately put an error into their pattern because they don’t want to be disrespectful. I know that there are typos in my work. I know that I’ve messed up grammar, clarity and punctuation. I know that I have no room to talk. However I can’t stop spotting typos. And as you can tell from my reading practices, I have a lot of opportunities to see them.

The trouble is, when you are rattling away with a great streak of inspiration, you miss stuff. Spell checkers can only do so much. One story (which I adored and have re-read a few times) had someone who ‘titled’ their head. I suspect that it should have been that they ’tilted’ their head. Both words are correctly spelled without context, but I would be intrigued at someone who ‘titled’ their head in confusion. I’m not blaming the author – it’s exactly the sort of mistake I would make. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have noticed but a few experiences of proofreading and I’m picking up misplaced commas.

Mind you, I may think that the commas are misplaced but I’ll be the first to admit that my punctuation is far from perfect. I know that when I went back and re-edited The Forgotten Village I felt almost like I was translating into English. There were so many mistakes and I have no room to complain about any author.

I’m spotting all these tiny mistakes, feeling a pang of sympathy with the author and moving on. I am in no place to criticise at all. And I’m not in a place to criticise facts either. I may have written articles on research, but I know that I still get things wrong. After all, sometimes you don’t know enough to know how wrong you’re being. A lot of the time, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit. I was very much enjoying a cozy mystery (which I’m not detailing here because I absolutely do not want to throw shade on someone who’s a far better writer than me) and they had a brief throwaway description of someone threshing hay. You don’t thresh hay.

My actual real life knowledge of farming is limited to driving past some fields. However I’ve read a lot about medieval farming and I’m great if we’re talking about out of date practices. Threshing is beating a crop until the seed separates from the stem. Hay isn’t harvested for seed. It’s grass that is preserved to feed livestock over winter. You make hay or you can put hay in bales but you don’t thresh the dratted stuff. Do you know how much impact this had on the story? Zero, zilch, nothing, nada. The author did nothing wrong, but the reader, that is, me, needs to get a sense of proportion. I just can’t help noticing them.

Today, when I caught another tiny typo, I thought I would get this off my chest and send sympathetic vibes to all the authors out there. I also want to beg, plead and beseech that if you spot a typo or a mistake of fact in anything I’ve written – please tell me. I’d be grateful if you were kind, but I’ll take it on the chin if you just pointed out what I got wrong with honesty.

I also feel confident that as I’ve written an article on mistakes there are going to be a few in here. Please be kind.

Invitation Accepted Chapter Twenty Two

Dan paused at the entrance to the cold room. He hadn’t signed up for this. He’d been fascinated and desperate and perhaps this magic would give him the status that he had craved as a seventeen year old, scrawny, hopeless kid. He never thought that those vague pamphlets would lead him here, looking at a dead woman on a chilled slab with a husk of a man slumped next to her. The withered remains of a wedding bouquet lay on the bed between them. There was such a depth of sorrow here, he could hardly bear it. He jumped as his boss spoke.

“We need a replacement for Mark,” Edragor said. “There’s nothing left of him. He’ll be dead before the next full moon.” He looked thoughtful. “I can dispose of him easily enough, but I may try reanimating Claire. The enchantments I put in place have kept her in perfect condition.”

Dan kept his face blank but he noted the casual way Edragor claimed the enchantments. Dan had been the one to cast them, siphoning the energy from Mark under Edragor’s direction, using spells and enchantments that he had developed but that Edragor knew nothing about. “Won’t it be tricky with all the cancer?” he asked. His research and experiments had been clear – cancer was one place the magic couldn’t go.

Edragor’s mouth twisted. “You’re right,” he said. “We’ll have to dispose of both of them. It’s more important, however, that we find a new keeper of the Orache Stone. I can’t risk it calling to any of our brethren here.” He smiled thinly at Dan. “You are all far too valuable to me. Besides, it seems to call to werewolves.”

“Getting hold of a willing werewolf could be a problem,” Dan said. “Perhaps we could get hold of a stray?”

Edragor tapped his finger against his chin thoughtfully. “That has possibilities, as long as they’re not too degraded. A creature with enough bodily strength to hold the Orache Stone for some time but perhaps not too intelligent,” he said. “We could use someone with a grudge. They would be easy to manipulate.”

“I suppose so,” Dan said, his eyes drawn back to Mark, silent and still next to the remains of Claire.

“You mustn’t get too attached to them,” Edragor said. “I’ve already had to teach you that with the rats.”

“I suppose so,” Dan said. Some of the experiments with the rats had been… He pushed the thoughts back. He could simulate most of it on his computer these days. “But where are you going to find a stray?”

Edragor’s smile widened. “I think I may have a good candidate,” he said. “It’s a tactic not without risk, but I think worth taking a chance.”

“Are you sure that they’ll take the Orache Stone?” Dan asked.

“I don’t think many could resist it,” Edragor said. “That’s why access to here is so limited. I can’t risk too many people close to the thing.” He looked hungrily over to the stone in Mark’s hands. “The power is amazing…” His fingers clenched on the doorframe for a moment before he took a deep breath. “We are getting closer to controlling the dead. We should have a practice run on Halloween before the full attempt on the eve of the Winter Solstice.” His fingers tapped on the frame of the door. “I’ll arrange for some fresh bodies for Halloween.”

“We don’t have long,” Dan said quietly. “And I’m not sure about all of the wards.”

Edragor waved a dismissive hand. “The power we can channel will hold anything,” he said. “You concentrate on those wards and I’ll sort out the new Orache Stone holder and I’ll keep a watch on the morgues for good candidates.” He turned and strode away.

Dan shivered from more than the cold from the room. He didn’t want to do this but he had seen what Edragor had done to those who had tried to leave before. For a moment he leaned against the door, exhausted, before pushing himself away and dragging himself back to his computer. At least for now he could stick to the simulations.


Lord Marius paced in his council chamber. As it reflected his mood, it currently looked like a Victorian gentleman’s club that had just been raided. Persian rugs were bundled in corners away from the gleaming parquet flooring and several of the rich leather chairs were upturned. A long scratch ran along the polished mahogany table and the picture of Queen Victoria was crooked over the cold fireplace. “This is insupportable!”

Phil lounged on one of the surviving armchairs. “We need to find Mark.”

“And none of the sorcerers are getting through,” Steve said as he stood near the fireplace. “Edragor was always tricky. Now he has the stone and it’s impossible.” He looked over to where Bron was sitting. “But I don’t think Bron would make a good tether.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Bron said.

Lord Marius shot a speculative glance at him. “We could conjure your spirit into a gem and use that as a tether.”

“No you couldn’t,” Bron said flatly.

“We could get you to try scrying,” Steve said.

“Nope, I’m not doing that either,” Bron said. “That last thing a paladin needs is to open themselves up to influences. It makes you easier to attack.”

“That is true,” Lord Marius said. He frowned. “How about other things that were buried with you? We could go back to your grave and look. That would have to be worth an attempt.”

“If anything’s survived,” Steve said doubtfully. “And if someone took the Orache Stone then they may have already taken whatever else survived.”

“That’s true,” Phil said. “I’ve heard a lot of people talking about finding stuff in fields and selling them online. And if it was one of the strays from Otley, they would have sold anything as quickly as possible.” He looked at Bron. “Can you remember what you were buried with?”

Bron stared at him. “I wasn’t there, at least, not in spirit,” he said. He nodded at Lord Marius. “His lordship might remember, though.”

“It was a few centuries ago,” Lord Marius said, frowning. “It’s hard to think that far back. It was a good funeral feast, Bron, and you would have been comforted by how many missed you.”

Bron shrugged. “It seems like only a few months ago to me,” he said with uncharacteristic softness. “I still miss them.”

“I know an archaeology student,” Phil said. “If you can show us the barrow, they can have a look through and perhaps find something.”

“I know where it is,” Gareth said. “But it’s too late to start out now.”

Phil shook his head. “It freaks me out every time,” he said.

“We’re going to have to go at night,” Steve said. “There are laws about digging up ancient burials.”

“I should hope so,” Bron said. “There’s an evil in grave robbing.”

“I can make some sort of glamour so no-one spots us,” Steve said. “But we had better go when it’s quiet.”

“I’m not sure that the archaeology student will understand,” Phil said. “I’ll have to have a word.”

“Let me speak to them,” Lord Marius said. “I have a way with words.”

“You can’t just threaten them,” Bron said.

“No such thing,” Lord Marius said. “But I can promise them a place on some very promising excavations. I have a few contacts.”

Bron looked at him suspiciously but nodded. “And while you are not threatening someone or making them risk their future, I’ll have a word with Fang’s old friends at the Iron Sickle,” he said. “There may be some offerings that they haven’t sold yet which we could use.” He frowned. “Does the effect wear off if they’re kept jumbled up with stuff?”

“Normally yes,” Steve said. “But this is the Orache Stone. Its effects are not going to fade easily.”

“Good,” Lord Marius said. “Phil, you may take me to this student now.” He frowned. “We can’t delay until Halloween. We can’t risk the potential influences.”

“The sooner we start, the sooner we finish,” Bron said, standing. “I’ll get back to the Iron Sickle now.”

“And I’ll get back to my work,” Steve said. “We can’t risk mistakes and we’ve no time to lose.”

You can read the story from the beginning here

Characters Who Go Their Own Way

After a comment by Ruth (who is awesome and I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement), I thought I’d talk a little about Darren, Jasmine and the problems of being a writer.

Darren is one of the first characters I ever wrote about. He was the irascible, no-nonsense, straightforward vicar in The Forgotten Village and went on to be a main character in Digging up the Past, and the three books in the Tales from the White Hart series. I never thought that he would have a romantic interest. I imagined him as having the looks and body of a Greek god and the emotional bandwidth of a shipping container.

Jasmine was introduced as a character in More Tales from the White Hart and was a ‘stray’, that is, a werewolf without a pack. She’d been chased out because she didn’t fit in with the expectations of the pack and didn’t want to marry where she was told. I had an idea that she would perhaps be part of the LGBTQ+ community and was excluded for that. She was beautiful, shy, defensive and prickly. I wasn’t planning on matching her up to anyone else.

Of course the characters took one look at each other and fell in love – hard!

When I’m working out characters, I’ll sometimes write conversations between characters to get a sense of them. It’s like a small studio where the characters come out and talk, move around and generally work things out. This isn’t the first time I had characters do something unexpected and once again I was trailing after them going, ‘wait, what?’ I was not impressed. Apart from anything else, Darren is far too old for Jasmine. The characters took no notice of me whatsoever.

I can see why they fell for each other. Darren absolutely adores Jasmine. She’s sweet, honest, straightforward and kind. She’ll get involved with trouble to defend someone who needs support. She never thinks about her looks or figure but just carries on being her. He loves that he can feel a little bit protective of her while trusting her completely. She has all the warmth that Darren struggles to show and she very much lights up his life.

Jasmine had a huge crush on Darren almost from the start. He’s old enough to be an authority figure while still being young enough and single enough to be attractive. There is something reassuringly stable about Darren. He may be a neat freak with no ability to demonstrate affection, but he’ll always be there for the one he loves. Darren is unwaveringly loyal, considerate and devoted. He is a rock who will never play games but will always be straightforward and clear. That is something that would call to Jasmine after the disruption and hardship she knew before they met.

I was a little worried about the age gap. To be fair, so was Darren. Jasmine didn’t have the confidence to say anything so was pining away for Darren while Darren was even grumpier than ever. However there was an unfortunate mix up with a love potion which meant that Jasmine and Darren became passionate lovers while under the influence and the rest is happy history.

I’ve known a few couples with significant age gaps. Some have been incredibly happy but one or two have been less than healthy. I think that as Darren is not likely to try and manipulate Jasmine, and Jasmine is certainly only after emotional security, this could be a good relationship. That doesn’t make for good stories, but I can see a few ideas in the distant future, if I ever get some proper writing done!

As for trying to show how people can suffer because of how they love, I thought I’d hold onto the idea that Jasmine was under pressure from many in the werewolf community for not conforming to what was expected. And at least she found happiness.

And I have had a fun time skimming through some of the older stories and enjoying the memories that have come back. It’s been a reminder of how much I enjoyed writing and perhaps I ought to get going again!

And a little news – I’ve been accepted on #HazardousToYourSanity for regular posts, so keep your eyes out for my series on British Folklore and Superstitions (some posts by other authors are a little spicier than I write, so you may like to use your judgement). And I have also signed up to October Frights again, run by the amazingly wonderful AF Steward, so while I won’t be posting every day in October as I have in the past, I hope that there will be some pleasantly spooky goings on. I’ve also had a few ideas about the next set of articles about Research and the Author and I hope to have them ready for you soon.

I’d love to hear requests, ideas or thoughts so please feel free to leave a comment.

Hugs and good health to all.

Invitation Accepted Chapter Twenty One

Gareth flew across the room and landed hard against the wall, wheezing as he slid down to the floor. He pushed himself to his feet and charged back to the fight. Beside him, Tyler snapped at a ghostly leg. He had gone to fur early on and was now snarling at the shapes forming around the central figure. Gareth body slammed into a disturbingly solid ghost before it could land on Tyler’s back then kicked out hard at the figure advancing on Darren. It barely staggered. Vaguely aware of Tyler’s growls and an unearthly shriek behind him, Gareth punched into the figure’s head and it reeled away, collapsing onto a display cabinet before fading away.

“Relinque hoc loco et numquam redire!” snapped Darren as he made the sign of the cross over the small statuette. “Relinque!”

There was a loud crack, a sharp smell of sulphur and then silence. Gareth looked around cautiously as he picked himself up and dusted himself down. Tyler got out of fur and reached for his trousers. “That was bad,” Tyler said.

Darren held up his hand and then prayed quietly for a few moments before turning around, relief on his sweat-streaked face. “That was tough,” he said. “You can come out now, Mrs Beasley.”

A thin faced woman crept into the shattered living room. “Thank you, vicar,” she said, looking around. “Is everything alright?”

Darren nodded. “There’s no trace of anything left in the statuette,” he said. “And if there was anything else affected in your collection, it would have shown. You can continue with your display.”

Mrs Beasley looked around her tiny collection and then back at the prize exhibit of a small Roman statue. “Actually, I think I may take up gardening,” she said. “How much do I owe you for this?”

Darren wearily shook his head. “Please, just remember me in your prayers, and if you have anything to give, please give it to a good charity.” He swayed slightly and Tyler quickly grabbed his shoulder.

“I’ll call in next week, if that’s convenient,” Gareth said. “I’ll just quickly check that things are staying quiet. And you have my phone number if anything else happens.” He looked with concern at Darren’s pale face. “We had better be going.”

He helped Tyler guide Darren out to the Range Rover and took the keys from Darren’s unresisting hand. “We need to get back,” Gareth said. “And Darren needs some decent food.”

“I’m fine,” Darren said, sagging into the passenger seat.

“I’ll get back to Lady Mary and give a report,” Tyler said. “She’s been dealing with her own problems up on the moors so she’ll be grateful that you’ve handled this.” He ran a weary hand over his face. “We can’t go on like this.”

Gareth glanced at Darren who looked ready to drop from exhaustion. “We should meet up later. We’re just reacting at the moment. We need to get ahead of things.”

Tyler nodded, exhausted. “But getting ahead of things means getting a breathing space to make plans.” He held up a hand. “I’ll talk later.”


Jasmine sat next to Darren, a frown on her lovely face as she watched him devour a large vegetarian curry with a huge baked potato. “You can go on like this, love,” she said. “It’s relentless.”

Darren chewed around a mouthful before answering. “There aren’t many options,” he said. “It’s the damned Orache Stone. It’s stirring things up.” He shovelled in another mouthful of baked potato. “And it’s stirring up the bad stuff. I can’t turn my back.”

Gareth nodded wearily. “It’s bad,” he said. “I have bruises on my bruises, but we can’t let innocent people get hurt.”

“Was Bron there?” Kidder asked.

Gareth shook his head. “He thinks I need to get some practice on my own,” he said.

“The lad did pretty well,” Bron said. “Once he learns how to not get hit, he’ll be fine.”

“And you’re so good at that,” Gareth said with a tired grin as he took a forkful of the curry. “Don’t think I haven’t seen the evidence of your fights.”

“That’s different,” Bron said. “I have evidence of mighty battles. You wait until you catch up.”

“I’m not in a hurry,” Gareth said.

“And that’s just as well,” Bron retorted.

Darren managed to hide his own grin but looked around the room. For once, everyone was home. Mortimer was bringing in extra curry and a pile of naan bread. Kidder was sitting next to Gareth at the table, slowly eating his own portion and looking concerned. He’d been caught up in a few scraps and Darren was worried about the young werewolf getting in over his head. Sir Philip was sat at Darren’s right, keeping his own counsel. There were some nasty scratches on the handsome face and Sir Philip was sticking to using his left hand after an unpleasant dislocation damaged his right shoulder. Both Jasmine and Carli had come to visit, and while Carli had the sense to keep out of trouble, Darren’s heart twisted with worry at the thought of Jasmine getting caught up. Jasmine was a werewolf and could look after herself, but she was so dear to him. He couldn’t bear the thought of her getting hurt. He turned as there was a knock at the door. “Please, not another incident.”

“I’ll go,” Mortimer said, placing the platters on the table and hurrying out.

“I’ve been in touch with Lincoln,” Sir Philip said. “They haven’t much to give but they’re sending what they have.” He hesitated. “And they’re talking about sending in regulars.”

“The last thing we need is squaddies freaking out in the middle of a scrap,” Darren said wearily. “I don’t have the time to get them through it.”

“We didn’t get much help, did we?” Sir Philip said, looking Darren in the eye. “We didn’t have a choice. We managed.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Darren said. “I know a few who didn’t manage at all. We shouldn’t risk people breaking as part of a numbers game.”

“It’s Lady Mary and Tyler,” Mortimer said. With a sudden burst of courage, he turned to Lady Mary. “Please join us in the dining room. It’s imperative that Sir Philip and Darren have something to eat. And I can offer you something if you wish.”

Lady Mary managed a weary smile. “A small portion of whatever you are serving would be wonderful. It smells delicious.” She sank down wearily at the end of the table. “And if you have some tea, that would be lovely.”

Tyler caught Mortimer’s eye. “And I know what a good cook you are,” he said. “So pile my plate high.” He sat next to Lady Mary and for a brief moment she laid her head on his shoulder before sitting straight.

“It’s not often a Prince comes to a Paladin’s home,” Darren said. “But these are difficult times.”

Lady Mary nodded. “Spirits of all sorts have been creeping out of the strangest places,” she said. “The big museums know how to police their own, but the items that have been so inoffensive in small collections are suddenly becoming animated.”

Tyler grinned wolfishly as Mortimer put a large plate in front of him. “Thank you! Lord Marius wants to call a meeting to discuss the matter. He’s taking this pretty seriously.”

Lady Mary picked up a fork as a plate was placed in front of her and smiled her thanks at Mortimer, who blushed. “Just because the situation is desperate doesn’t mean that politics aren’t involved.” She took a small forkful and smiled in pleasure. “This is excellent, thank you.” She looked around the table. “The worst of the effects is being felt here. The Orache Stone is tethered to this area. Unfortunately, it’s spreading and Lord Marius desires to take action.”

“He’s taking action,” Sir Philip said. “He hasn’t got a choice. I had a quick call with Sir Dylan last night. Leeds, especially in the North West of the city, is feeling the effects.” He looked around the table. “And so is Lord Richard, towards the West. He’s had enough to deal with, though as the area is mostly sheep, he’s had a slightly quieter time.”

“The paladin there has a good grasp of magic,” Tyler said. “So it’s not so bad.”

“I was talking to Zahra yesterday,” Jasmine said. She glanced at Darren. “I know her from before I got to York and we’ve kept in touch. Bradford is getting hit as well, but it’s being kept down, at least for now.”

“They have their own systems in Bradford,” Darren said. “They may be willing to help us, but I don’t know if they’ll have the people.”

“How much is the Orache Stone and how much is Edragor?” Darren asked. “I’ve heard too much about that freak to be comfortable about all this.”

“I’ve not had all the information yet,” Lady Mary said, a brief flash of irritation crossing her face. “Edragor has some power, but not as much as he would like. But he’s a slimy toad. He’ll burn Mark out and leave him a husk, then hand the Orache Stone over to another stooge.” She frowned at the fragrant curry. “Edragor unfortunately has a lot of knowledge. The consequences could be problematic.”

“Lord Marius is having fits about it,” Darren said. “And he’s having trouble holding everyone together. They can’t find either the stone or Edragor and a lot of his court are talking about a Wild Hunt.”

“You can’t have a Wild Hunt in a city,” Sir Philip said. “It could be lethal.”

“What’s a Wild Hunt?” Carli asked timidly.

Darren ran a tired hand over his face. “The local prince summons every non-normal to ride with them in a chase around their domain,” he said. “Some princes summon them regularly and they don’t do too much damage in the country.”

“As long as they stay under the control of the prince,” Sir Philip said. “And stick to the wilder areas. The non-normals can get caught up in a kind of madness. Anyone not part of the Wild Hunt can get hunted – that is, literally hunted and torn to pieces. It can get ugly very fast.”

“But it’s not a bad way of flushing out enemies,” Lady Mary said. “I’ve taken part in a few in my time.” Her mouth twisted with distaste. “They are a blunt instrument. But if we can’t find the Orache Stone or Edragor, we’re out of options.” She exchanged a worried glance with Tyler. “The Wild Hunt should be here, as the Orache Stone is tethered to this location, but it could easily cross into Lord Marius’ domain, and then things could get tricky.”

“What about Mark?” Kidder asked quietly. “Can he be saved?”

There was a silence and then Bron reached over and put a sympathetic hand on the young werewolf’s shoulder. “Mark has gone,” Bron said. “At least, the bit that was Mark. It’s my guess it went a little while ago and he was just treading water as his wife died. The Orache Stone will have taken all that’s left. He may have already been replaced.”

“There has to be a better way of finding the Orache Stone,” Sir Philip said. “Wild Hunts are dangerous and unstable.”

Lady Mary nodded. “I agree,” she said. “But our contacts within the police have found nothing and any attempt at magical tracing has hit the wards. Even Steve Adderson can’t get past them.” She sighed and put her fork down on her plate. “Mark wouldn’t have realised, but Edragor did. Anything that could be used to trace Mark using magic has been removed from the pack buildings. Rhys is furious as there’s a lot of documents missing and it’s added legal complications to everything else.”

Gareth frowned. “You need a link to Mark or the Orache Stone?” he asked. “If you could find something like that, you could punch through the wards?”

“Steve Adderson could,” Lady Mary said. “It would be a struggle for anyone else, even with the links. But all trace of Mark has gone and what could we use for the Orache Stone? Everything connected with that has vanished.”

“Not exactly,” Gareth said. “Bron shared a grave with it for a few thousand years. Perhaps Steve could do something with that.”

“I’m not sure that I’m going to enjoy this,” Bron said.

You can read the story from the beginning here