Thursday, 23 March 2017

Blood Rain by Nancy Gray

Title: Blood Rain
Author: Nancy Gray
Genre: YA Fantasy

The night the blood rains from the sky, Mind of Mercy’s world changes. The savage Blood Wings, bestial creatures that feed on the blood of Mercy’s people, attack her treetop village in frenzy.

Mercy’s father, the chieftain, tasks her to leave during the fight and find the source of the storm. The journey takes Mercy across the continent of Lacern where she must make allies, even from some of the enemies of her people, to survive. The search forces her to get help from the least likely of sources, one of the very Blood Wings that attacked her.

During her journey, Mercy and her companions discover lies that are widely accepted as truths, secrets hidden by the beast men, and a power buried deep inside of Mercy herself. Magic is resurfacing in the world and the blood rain is only the beginning. A hidden power is pulling the strings to cause a continent wide war that could result in the destruction of humans and beast men alike.


Mercy’s Task and the Blood Rain
(This scene starts when Mercy is told by her father to leave the village and search for the cause of the blood rain. The phenomenon has been predicted by their shaman, and when the blood rains, the enemies of their people, the Blood Wings, will attack the village in frenzy.)

      “Ask around. Follow rumors. Most of the people in Concord speak either the common language or Ashen. Mender of Spirits taught you the language of the Ashen Folk, so you should be able to listen in on their conversations. Don’t trust them and don’t let them convince you to go anywhere near the capital. Above all, don’t let them know that you can understand their tongue. It would make you useful as a slave.”
      “The rumors say they don’t take people from our forest, only the islands.”
      Catches the Eye scoffed and said, “Do you think they really care where their slaves come from, or that their people would know the difference? You need to stay sharp or you won’t make it back alive.”
      Her back stiffened as she said, “Yes, Chieftain.”
      He smiled warmly. “Under the circumstances, I think you should try to start calling me father.”
      Mercy felt a lump in her throat but quickly swallowed it down and said, “Yes, father.”
      He continued, “The city is divided into sections. The section you should try to get to is called ‘The Park.’ That’s where most of our people reside. You should be able to barter some of the raw materials for a place to sleep. That should be your first step.”
      “The Park, okay.”
      He said in a softer tone, “I want you to come back. And, I know you’re smart enough to do this. You’re the best rider in the village and you’re one of the few gifted that we have. Don’t disappoint me.”
      “I won’t.”
      Mercy felt a droplet of water sliding down her cheek. She reached up and wiped it away, only to see a long scarlet smear on her hand. Her hand began to tremble, as the clouds above them suddenly burst with a sheet of pounding red rain. Instantly, a terrible keening noise echoed through the forest. It sounded piercing, like a woman’s scream, but there was something more raw and terrifying behind it.
      Other screeches began to answer it from all around them. It was a cacophony of howls coming from what sounded like the entire tribe of Blood Wings, and they were already in the canopy. She had never heard so many bestial shrieks. Just one frenzied Blood Wing could make a sound that could practically paralyze a victim in fear, but this was a chorus that rang above the sound of thunder and swept through the village like the howling of a gale wind.
      Catches the Eye said in a terrified whisper that Mercy barely could hear, “We’re out of time. Go, now!”

The Author:

Nancy Gray lives in West Columbia, SC, with her husband, two daughters, and two crazy cats. She attended college at the University of South Carolina and attained a BA in Media Arts with a cognate in English.

Her original career was as a graphic designer but writing is her calling. Her favorite genres to write are horror, fantasy (particularly young adult), steampunk, cyberpunk, urban fantasy, and occasionally light science fiction (space opera).
Many of her short stories and novels also blur the lines of genre fiction.

Nancy is an avid reader and also enjoys drawing, video games, and table top role playing games. She also enjoys anime and manga.


The Glass Dunes
(While Erebus is recovering from his injuries sustained in the Blood Wing caverns, they camp on the fringes of the desert. Mirilee tells them a story about her people and how the glass dunes came to exist. It shows that when magic was prevalent in the world it left its mark in many disturbing ways, charging places with destructive energy.)

      Mercy put a hand just a little above her eyes and nearly screamed at the sight. The three people by the campfire looked exactly like each one of them, mimicking their movements from earlier perfectly. Mercy even saw herself spooning broth into Erebus’ mouth. The group was backwards from the way they were sitting, as though she was looking at an image of them in a reflection.
      Mercy stammered. “How? I don’t understand.”
      Mirilee said, “Because, that’s what this place does. I don’t know how it happens, but it copies what it sees. It lures people in by using images of others.”
      “You’re talking as if this area is a living thing.”
      “Of all people, I would think that you could believe that a place is a living thing. Your people worship the forest and believe every plant and tree has some sort of living essence to it. Why not the desert? It might seem barren, but I assure you it isn’t. My people believe only in the God of the Stars, but I have to admit that this place does have some sort of presence that I can’t explain.”
      Mercy frowned. She had never thought of it that way before, but the desert sands did consist of eroded rocks and earth, and hundreds of small animals made it their home. Several types of unique plants lived there as well. Why not the desert?
      Erebus asked in a frightened whisper, “How does it lure them in?”
      “If someone lost in the desert sees this image, they’ll want to come and warm themselves by the fire or travel with a larger group. They’ll go in and as soon as they get close, they’ll see it wasn’t real and the illusion will literally melt away. Then the Glass Dunes have them.”
      Mercy felt sick with fear. “What happens then?”
      “I don’t know. All I do know is that most of the people that go in usually don’t come back out, and if they do, they’re never the same. There are places where the glass is brittle and will break around them, and heaven knows where they would fall. Also, there are some predators that have adapted to living in the dunes that prey on those that wander in, but there are worse things than that out there.”
      She shivered and pulled her blanket around her shoulders.
      “I felt despair and anger coming from this place, but I didn’t understand why. What happened here, Mirilee?”
      “I don’t know how much is legend and how much is truth, but my grandfather told me that during the calamity, my people fought against the Ashen capital. They weren’t always nomadic. During that time, the glass dunes were an oasis within the desert. My people lived there and it was our capital city.”
      Erebus peered at the glass dunes. “It’s hard to imagine this as an oasis.”
      Mirilee nodded. “According to the legend, one day it rained fire and a dust devil of white fire as wide as the city itself swept through.

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