Please join me in welcoming Eli Celata and her newest release, Grim Remains! Be sure to check out the buy links!
Sometimes the fairy tale’s end is just the Grimm beginning.
Back Cover Blurb:
Mammon’s summoning turned Rochester into a beacon for the denizens of Hell. As demon activity increases, Jon settles in for a new academic year, and Jordan moves in as the city’s protector. Unfortunately, the young warlock of Rochester might not be around long if the Devil’s marine legion has a say. Havfine, demonic mermaids, don’t often leave deep lakes and ocean waters. They’re better known for drowning mortal sailors than hunting magic users, but something has sent them upstream from Lake Ontario. When three orphans vanish from a magical sanctuary in Toronto, their caretaker – the Wizard Monday – dredges up a part of Jordan’s and Jon’s father’s history that Jordan would have rather forgotten. In this race against the Bane of Hamelin, more than three souls may be on the line.
Eli Celata was born in Rochester, NY and currently attends Binghamton University as a doctoral student in Biological Anthropology. When she isn’t studying bones or working on interdisciplinary experiments, Eli writes science fiction and fantasy.
Author’s Social Media Links:
- Twitter: @Celata_E
- Website: elicelata.wordpress.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EliCelata/
- Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/EliCelata/
I drummed the coin against the table. Three fast, one slow, then repeated. My foot tapped. Jitters ran down my legs, and every few minutes, I’d hold still. Not even a breath would escape. Then I’d begin again. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the sun dip lower, inch by inch, in the sky. It trickled down like a waterfall of gold sinking below the darkening cityscape. The steady warmth of summer faded with each vanishing ray though August – in name alone – would remain for another few days.
“Come on,” I whispered.
The sky shifted. My leg stilled. Metal paused, hanging above then falling to sit against the wood. As the sun fell down below the horizon, the Void Hours came in spades. Evening turned to night inside the bookshop, but I still pressed into the rising tension. A figure shifted down the street, but I kept my eyes straight ahead. The street lights buzzed and flickered on. Lemniscates shimmered over the window panes. From one side of the glass to the next, the sideways figure eights connected one into the next like linked chain. Inhaling, I let my eyes shut as the world hummed around me. Then the angel rang, and the door opened as if by a gust of air. The whole shop stretched out in the same breath and eased back with a sigh as the door locked. Fingers tapped the chalk remnants on the door before unhooking the ringer.
I smiled, opening my eyes. “Welcome back to the States.”
Flexing my fingers, I considered what to do. This was more space than I’d ever been given reign over. Music – I needed music. The air hummed. Drums and horns blared. Jordan’s eyebrow rose, but he remained silent. All the world around me churned with summer heat. Deeply inhaling, I moved. One arm raised, and a strip of pure water rose along with it. The droplets stretched, dispersing throughout the air into beads, trailing and orbiting me like a sphere. Whenever any drew near to Jordan, they flowed through him as though he was not even there. Light glinted off the spheres. Beneath us, the water flowed. I sent the heat along beside it. Degree by degree the temperature dropped, but though my breath became visible, Jordan seemed not to breathe at all.
Soon, crystals formed within the held vapor. Tiny balls of ice hung in the air. Fish panicked and swam quickly on as a thin layer of ice formed over the river within the dome. Millimeter by millimeter, I pushed the cold deeper. Magic crawled along my body weaving as much inward as outward. My hair curled, and when I caught my reflection in the water around me and the ice below, the stray touches of golden brown throughout had darkened. The change distracted me. I had enough concentration to keep what I’d done, but my focus moved from around me to within. My hair’s wave matched my mother’s, but the stray bits of red and gold had been a mark of my father.
My reflection stared up at me from the ice below. It was as if all the gold in my hair had drained into my eyes. They burned like the hot metal of Jordan’s old bike. Streaks of light carved into the ice. In my mind’s eye, I could see the steam rolling. A single word dripped and spelled in the twisted remains of Jordan’s motorcycle: Mine. There was more I didn’t know about Jordan than did. Secrets surrounded him, but this was one I doubted would have a pleasant answer. The Devil had called to Jordan like a child to play, but his son had burned with possessive spite, though I couldn’t tell if the word had been a claiming or a warning. Neither seemed safe.
Beneath the ice, a shadow dove. I leaned closer, trying to get a better look. The droplets fell and clanked against the surface’s frozen water. Running over the ice with a hand, I stared beyond my face into the waters below. When a face came into view, it wasn’t like the havfine I had seen earlier. However, it was just as disturbing. Milky white eyes stared up from a gray face. Blackened lips swelled from sunken cheeks as the dark rimmed eyes appeared almost purple in hue. Its long blond hair was braided multiple times over and wrapped tightly around its throat. Reaching into my pocket, I grabbed my lighter when something hit me. There were runes tattooed along the clavicle.
“Jordan?” I called.
Careful to avoid fire directly over the body, I melted the ice. Chunks floated out and off downstream, melting in the August heat. With a sweep of magic, I brought her above water and held her with magic. She was missing her right arm from the elbow. Her ankles had been bitten by fish and who knows what else. Shoes still on, the woman had been dressed in shorts and a basic cotton short-sleeved shirt. A scabbard at her waist indicated she had a sword somewhere, but there was no telling where it’d gone. Panic flooded me.
“Jordan!” My voice cracked. Sparks jolted down from my fingers, but I held them back and held to her.
I watched as Jordan stepped out onto the water.
While he should have sunk right down, his remaining on the surface didn’t surprise me. Magic seemed to enjoy defying physics. He walked out partway and studied the surface. There were a few centimeters between the sole of his shoes and the water. Gray blue, murky water flowed northward. If a havfine hid beneath, the water obscured the demon from view. Turning back to me, Jordan glided to the shore line.
“It’s air manipulation. You’re levitating,” he explained raising himself an inch higher, then returning to his previous position. “Don’t think. Just do.”
Another gem from my wonderful Yoda. Then again, the original hadn’t believed in trying, so maybe obscure and unreasonable demands were par for the course in apprenticeships. I rolled my eyes but did what I was told. Floating just an inch above the ground, I concentrated on keeping steady. It worked fine until I stepped forward. The foot in motion dropped down onto the ground like I’d missed some invisible step. Jordan didn’t laugh. He just crossed his arms and waited for me to right myself and do it again. After a handful more failures, I succeeded on my eighth attempt to keep the levitation. My foot hovered over the small crests, then the second. Beside me, Jordan followed a step behind as we paced back and forth underneath the bridge.
“This is insane,” I said. Each step came with a rushing sensation. The current echoed up my legs like a kind of sonar. Fish, rocks, and debris bounced around in my head in half translated blurs.
“We’ll do one more round then head up to the lake.”
Jordan’s lips twisted slightly to the side. Without warning, he shoved me. I stumbled struggling to keep my balance. My shoes dipped a bit below the surface of the water, and once I brought it back up, they were soaked. Before I could completely level myself, a pale blue-scaled hand broke through the ripples. Inky black–tipped claws enveloped my ankle, and with a sharp tug, dragged me halfway beneath the water. Magic reared within me. Lightning leapt from my hands, but before they could reach the water, Jordan lifted me over his head like old Rafiki. He threw me back onto land. The bolts of plasma moved forward regardless. Electricity danced over the Genesee.
Reaching into his coat pocket, Jordan pulled out a retractable fishing rod and a bundle of lures. He set the two up together and tossed out his line. As the lures disappeared beneath the surface, they let out green, pulsing light. No sooner had they vanished from sight, a shriek the same as the last havfine’s death cry rang through the air. Unlike the previous havfine Jordan had killed, this one breached. Tangled around one pale blue arm was the lure. A black tail lined in sharp needled points matched the demon’s claws. While all stories had shown long hair or some more feminine features, the havfine’s limited features were ambiguous. There was no nose. Instead, gills lined the demon’s torso from its clavicle to just above the hip. I crawled backwards as quickly as possible, staring in horror. Black coral grew forth from the havfine’s head.
Jordan smirked. Tugging the fishing line back, he allowed his magic to keep pulling, sweeping the line up in a swirling vortex. He stretched his hands out to his sides with his palms facing the demon. Two small silver circles in the center of his palms flashed. The havfine bared its teeth. Sharp needled points filled its mouth, more metal than organic. Slamming his palms together, Jordan ignited a stream of blue plasma which shot from one silver circle to the other in large static bursts. His face lit with the glow, and the red of his hair glistened brighter as he manipulated the energy. A flick of his wrists sent a jolt at the demon. It flailed and green liquid leaked from between its black scales. Claws slashed; teeth gnashed, but vortex tied the fishing wire tightly around the beast. Jordan aligned the water vapors in the air, and with a second flick of his wrist sent a continuous line of plasma into the havfine.
“Who’s come through?” Jordan demanded.
The demon spat, its blue tongue curling like a worm in its mouth as the electricity ran through its body. Jordan didn’t bother to ask again. He simply waited.
Thrashing, the havfine hissed in a voice like a dying breath: “Fjord of fire; hornpipes boon– pale Hein’s furbelows brume. All who hear shall fall. Two by two by two – carried all.”
With a flick of its tail, the havfine severed the line, but it was too late. From its blackened claws to the trailing stingers on its tail, the plasma burst through the seams rendering the demon to tar. Specks landed in the Genesee and vanished downstream. If it had ever been a heavenly host, so little remained that its death didn’t have any more of a transformative effect than a baoht’s. With the rod back in hand, Jordan swaggered back to shore. His lips curled downwards.
“What’s a fjord?” I asked.
Jordan glanced up at me, seemingly struck out of his thoughts. “It’s a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs.”
Nodding, I brushed my pants off. “Great. And the rest of it?”