Ghost Wars Saga
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ghost Watch Publishing
Date of Publication: June 2014
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Hannah Carr
What started out as a routine call led to so much more…
My name is Veronika Kane, and I’m the Captain of the Ghost Watch in the reborn city of Shadow Philadelphia. After we disposed of the city’s previous master and his minions, things were looking up, but in war things are never that easy. A routine call with Detective Frank Cooper blew the cover off of an elaborate scheme to plunge the city of brotherly love into chaos. When Necromancers, Were creatures, and the horrors of Chaos come together it can’t mean anything good.
With new and old enemies joining forces against us, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Lucky for me, my old friend Frank Cooper will be there to lend a hand, along with Brianna, a strong willed were-ferret, and the stormy eyed wizard Nathaniel Carter. I just hope it will be enough to save everyone.
This time, our enemies aren’t just attacking us in Limbo; this time, they are taking the battle to the streets of the living world and its unknowing citizens. If the Old Ones rise, I don’t think there will be anything anyone can do to stop them.
My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.
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Jezebel watched the old crone with a mixture of disgust and fear. She had to suppress a growl of anger as the beast that lurked within her reacted to her fear. Two bitches of her pack stood at her sides; both of the tawny haired women were also watching the crone, but they didn’t do nearly as well as she did in suppressing their fear. Their tense bodies vibrated with the desire to flee. Jezebel licked her lips and smiled predatorily as she momentarily pushed the crone from her mind and allowed her beast to feed on her companions’ fear. The beasts within the other two women reacted to her hunger, and their own desire for blood, meat, and violence pushed the fear of their hosts aside. The three women began rubbing up against each other and growls of playful threat filled the Philadelphia night as they psyched themselves up for the coming hunt. After a few minutes, Jezebel forced her mind back to the work at hand. She’d successfully distracted her subordinates who continued to rub their heads against her and grope her curvaceous body with their hands. More than sexual play, the contact allowed the suppressed beast within them to feel and comfort each other. The beasts were always wanting to fraternize with each other, and hyenas in particular needed it or they’d get quite grumpy. When you became a were-hyena, you left your inhibitions behind. This suited Jezebel just fine; she’d been a stripper in Vegas when she’d been offered the chance to become a were-hyena. She didn’t regret her choice for one moment. She had power now: the beast within her was cunning and strong. The move to Philadelphia had presented many opportunities to grow in power, and one of those opportunities was a new ally. That’s what had taken her and her pack mates away from her strip club this night; the crone was her new ally’s avatar of choice for the moment. Judging from the power that the witch could wield, her ally was even more powerful than she’d imagined. At this point, others would be wondering if they’d gotten in over their heads, but not Jezebel. For her, there was no such thing as too much power. For her, the more power her ally had, the more there was for her to gain. It took Jezebel a moment to spot the crone again, but she did so with little difficulty. Her night vision enhanced beast sight enabled her to penetrate the night shrouded city’s darkest shadows. The old witch was tucked deep into an alleyway across the street from where Jezebel and her companions waited. She was surrounded by three menacing figures who towered over her and gave off a dangerous crimson aura that identified them as vampires. The crone stood against them unafraid, having lured them to the very spot that she’d desired. The vampires weren’t the hunters this night, they were the prey. The witch that stood with them was short, maybe five foot two, and was draped in an unflattering robe of mud brown. Her hair was long, unkempt, and white, and her eyes were black and shadowed by bushy white eyebrows. The nose on her face was pointy and looked too long. The crone had called herself Bridget Bishop when she’d presented herself to Jezebel a few days ago. Jezebel had the uneasy feeling that the woman believed herself to be the very Bridget Bishop that had hanged in 1692: the first of the Salem witchcraft trial victims. After working with the woman for a few days, Jezebel wasn’t at all sure that the idea was impossible. The crone was incredibly powerful, she talked funny, and she knew almost nothing about the modern world. The witch made a sharp gesture and two of the vampires went suddenly rigid and unmoving. The third vampire glanced at her two male companions nervously, but her attention was redirected towards the crone who’d tilted her head so that her throat was bared. Jezebel’s enhanced sense of smell caught the scent of fresh blood on the air. She shuddered as her beast suddenly roared to life, and it took all her strength of will to hold the hyena within her back. The vampire who was only a few feet away from that delicious smell was unable to hold herself back though. She lunged at the witch with blinding speed and plunged her fangs into the crone’s neck. Jezebel had to grab her two companions before they could rush into the alley and join the feast. She let her beast roll over them so that she could fully dominate the two lesser bitches and force their beasts back down. The two lesser beasts cowered in fear from her own dominant beast. She growled at them until they crouched low and pawed at her leather clad thighs in submission. Meanwhile, the witch had begun to chant and the alley was beginning to fill with a nasty looking green fog. The blood lust quickly evaporated from all of their beasts as their hackles raised and dread suddenly filled them. Shapes were moving in the fog that now almost totally obscured the alley. A tentacle lashed the air at the border of the fog, and a scream of pure terror rent the night. Jezebel shivered as the air was filled with the sound of cracking and breaking bones and wet meat hitting the ground. The horrific symphony went on for what seemed like hours. The crone chanted the entire time. Jezebel’s beast watched with her in fascinated horror, but she sensed that the other two’s beasts had fled to hide in the deepest holes they could find, leaving their hosts huddled together in terror. Finally, the mists began to clear and the movement of huge unseen monstrosities faded. The witch ended her ritual, and a sudden blast of wind cleared the alley of all evidence of green fog. The alley pavement and all the building walls around it were coated in glistening wet gore, yet the crone and the three vampires stood there apparently unscathed and untouched by the gore that covered everything else. The witch cackled in delight and began walking towards Jezebel. The three vampires followed in her wake. They moved like vampires, all graceful and predatory, but their auras were wrong now: their normal scarlet was now flecked with a corrupting yellow-green. The coppery blood scent that often accompanied vampires was also missing from these transformed creatures. Jezebel’s work with the crone over the past few days had alerted her to the fact that the witch had some way of turning vampires to her master’s service, but tonight’s demonstration was the first time that she’d seen how it was done. For the first time in years, Jezebel wondered if she wasn’t in over her head. Could this be done to her and her people, she wondered. As Bridget Bishop drew closer, Jezebel’s bitches began to whimper fearfully, and she turned on them in fury. She grabbed them both by the hair, and her beast launched its claws into them and pulled their beasts from their hiding places. The beast spirit residing within Jezebel wasn’t able to leave her body completely, but as long as some part of it remained in contact with its host it could act against other spiritual creatures as it did now. “Stop your sniveling,” she commanded with a growl that carried her beast’s scent and power. “You are bone-crusher hyenas. Stand up and stop acting like prey!” The two women rose slowly, drawing heavily upon their pack leader’s strength and courage. By the time the witch reached them, the trio was ready to stand together as a team. Jezebel had no illusions though. She would order a retreat before fighting against such odds as the witch and her three vampires. Hyena’s fight best in large packs, and if the crone or her vampires threatened them, she would retreat and gather the others of her pack. “I see you assessing your situation Jezebel,” the hag chortled as she came to a stop a few paces away. The vampires fanned out around her and regarded Jezebel with cold hunger in their eyes. “Nothing has changed. Our alliance was hammered out by the Black Pharaoh himself. The turning is reserved for our enemies. Fulfill your end of the bargain and you have nothing to fear and much to gain.” Jezebel nodded curtly, angry that the witch had read her so easily. “What now?” she asked. “We leave for Providence immediately,” the witch answered and turned towards the Ford Expedition parked at the curb nearby. “Our little strike team has business with the wizards of the Order.” Although Jezebel was aware of the mission, the idea of going up against the wizards caused a shiver to pass through her. The beast within her reacted by raising its hackles, and a soft growl escaped her lips. All creatures of the night knew better than to tangle with the wizards. Avoiding them was usually the best policy if continued survival was important to you. “Don’t fret girl,” the old crone croaked at her. “The Order has grown weak, and the Old Ones fear them not. My master will trod upon the protectors of humanity.” “I ain’t no damn child!” Jezebel growled; her fear of wizards was forgotten as anger flared up in her. She hated the old witch’s patronizing attitude. “My sisters and I will feast upon the meat of wizards and snap their bones between our jaws this night.” The witch’s answering cackle didn’t do anything to improve Jezebel’s mood. Her beast wanted to snap and crunch the crone’s bones more than it wanted anything else in recent memory. Jezebel suppressed a sigh of frustration as she led her pack mates to the Expedition. She wished she could kill something before embarking on this trip; a little violence prior to getting into the vehicle with the exasperating witch would make the next few hours so much more bearable. Even better would have been some sex mixed in with the violence. There was nothing like fucking and getting ones claws good and bloody while doing it. Her head full of lustful, nightmarish fantasies, Jezebel got behind the wheel of the Expedition and revved the engine. Mors Morta stared at herself in the wall length mirror of her personal bathing chamber. She stood totally naked except for the jewelry that glittered in the chamber’s candlelight. A fire opal gleamed at her throat, dangling from a gold chain. Sapphires dangled from silver earrings, and diamond encrusted bracelets flashed at her wrists and ankles. Her nipples were pierced with blood iron, but her favorite piece was the ruby piercing her clit. She licked her ruby lips, and the diamond that pierced her tongue glinted brightly until her tongue disappeared back into her mouth. She was of average height, but nothing else about her was average. Her hair was raven black; it was long, hanging halfway down her back, and straight. Like her hair, her eyes were also black. Her face was perfectly shaped with perfectly proportional nose, lips, eyes, and chin, and her skin gleamed with perfect health: there were absolutely no blemishes. Her breasts were firm and well sized, not overly large. Her legs, hips, and buttocks were what young women dreamed of when they imagined themselves to be movie stars or models. Mors Morta loved to gaze at herself in the mirror. There was no creature more perfect than herself except perhaps her mother, the Morrigan. Thinking of her mother displeased Mors Morta. Being the second most powerful fae and the second most beautiful woman in the world was just intolerable. Mors Morta banished the thought of her mother from her mind with a shake of her head. There was an unannounced guest waiting for her, and he’d already been made to wait while she bathed. She pondered for a moment what she should wear and finally settled on just shadows. She enjoyed teasing men; it was great sport. Aside from that, she never knew before hand whether she’d take a man to her bed. It always depended on how well they played the game. A shiver of anticipation ran through her as she wondered how well her guest would play. Thraknir had warned her that the stranger exuded a mysterious power far beyond what he’d ever encountered. That was saying a whole lot since Thraknir had served in both her court and her mother’s, and she’d have him flayed if he’d exaggerated the guest’s power. She’d gone to great lengths to prepare herself for the man; he’d better be worth the effort. As Mors Morta departed her bathing chamber, shadows gathered around her and formed into a diaphanous gown that both hid and revealed her most private parts with each movement. Her head was held high, and a small smile played across her features as she passed through her dominion and finally entered the sitting room that she’d decided to use for this audience. The room was dominated by a huge fireplace which blazed with a crackling fire. The red carpet was plush and sensuous on her naked feet. The chairs that dotted the room were elaborately gilded affairs made of rare woods and satin cushions. The walls were adorned with expensive original oil paintings and there were two oak bookshelves stuffed with leather bound tomes. The electric lights of the modern age were off. Mors Morta preferred the light of real fire. As she entered the room, she felt the roiling power that came off of the stranger in waves. She knew immediately that he must be containing that power in order for her not to have sensed it miles away. It said a lot about his control that he could hide it until she was in his direct presence. He was standing near the fireplace and gazing into the fire as she walked in. He was tall, a little over six feet, and his hair was brown and shoulder length. His skin gleamed with health, with no visible blemishes, and was perfectly bronzed as if he’d lived his life in the equatorial regions of the world. His eyes were deep brown and were pools of bottomless knowledge when he fixed them on her. He had an eagle’s nose and his body looked perfect and muscular. Mors Morta was filled with lust for the man as soon as her eyes met his; she would bed him whether he played the game well or not; it would be interesting to see if he could survive the ordeal. Only one man had ever done that. “I am Mors Morta,” she introduced herself to the stranger. Her voice was like an angel’s and powerful compulsions rode upon it. Her shadowy gown moved with each word, revealing her secret places. “Who are you to demand an audience with the heir of the Shadow Court?” “I am The Man with Many Names,” the stranger answered quietly. He seemed to be unfazed by her beauty or the magic she was using on him. “I come to you as the avatar of Azathoth, the Lord of Chaos.” Mors Morta pursed her lips in displeasure. The shadows about her grew thicker and hid her body completely. She’d heard of the Old Cults; they worshiped old gods that supposedly predated the Nephilim. Azathoth was their chief deity. Anyone who worshipped the Old Ones was an enemy of the fae in her opinion. She wanted to banish this Man with Many Names immediately, but his power prevented her from ignoring him outright. He was a real threat. What was he doing in Philadelphia, she wondered. “What do you want?” she asked coldly. “One of your minions interfered with my subjects a few days ago,” he answered without emotion. “I want to negotiate an alliance with you. I can make it worth your while. I can give you your fondest wish. Ally with me and I’ll rid you of your mother and you can ascend to her place.” Mors Morta stared at The Man with Many Names in stunned silence. How could he possibly know what her deepest fantasy was? Visions of herself as the most powerful and beautiful fae in the world flashed before her in a vision that she often daydreamed of.
Character Name: Veronika Kane
Character Bio: I was born to Russian immigrants in the great city of Philadelphia. I was an only child, my mother worked for a telecom while my dad owned his own business, The University City Dojo. Growing up, I was daddy's girl, he brought me to the dojo from the time I was able to walk and he taught me the fighting arts of Jiu Jitsu and Kendo. I became an expert in both styles over the ensuing seventeen years. I was an A student and graduated number four in my class. I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philly when my promising life came to a sudden end at the hands of a serial killer on my 21rst birthday. Now I'm a ghost and you can read about my continuing existence in Wail of the Banshees and Death Toll.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
I am loyal, strong wiilled, confident, and I don't like bully's. My biggest weakness is that I tend to be rash, I sometimes act before really thinking things through. I'm also very emotional, which is both a strength and a weakness.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
I wish people knew that I am really not a violent person. Martial arts were always a sport for me, most importantly it gave me quality time with my dad. Limbo is a violent and dangerous place though, life here has forced me to be violent. I act in defense for myself but more importantly I take action to throw off the shackles of slavery and despotism that have plagued this shadow world since the beginning of its history. I long for peace, but I won't stand by and let bully's enforce there will on good people or ghosts. I've also learned since dying, that monsters really do exist and humanity needs protecting from those monsters.
What is your biggest secret?
Something no one knows about? I registered as a Democrat. That's a big deal in my family, mom and dad are Reagan Republicans.
What are you most afraid of?
I used to think that I wasn't afraid of anything, but since dying I've discovered that I'm afraid of a lot of things. I'm afraid of intimacy but I fear being alone more than anything. I'm afraid of Black Maria, and I despise chaos spiders. Demons also scare me, and I'm scared of losing my mind.
What do you want more than anything?
I want to hold my dad once more. I didn't get to say bye to him.
What is your relationship status?
I'm in love with a wizard named Nathaniel Carter, surprisingly he loves me. You might wondeer how a ghost can be with any human being, its magic. Nathaniel is good at magic
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
Most of the time I wear celestial chain armor. When I was alive I was a jeans and t-shirt gal. You can ask my were-ferret friend Brianna about my fashion sense, she'll tall you that I don't have any. It particularly horrifies her since I can wear whatever I want with just a thought.
How much of a rebel are you?
Oh, I'm a big rebel! ask the powers that used to be in Philadelphia. Read Wail of the Banshees and you'll see that I led a revolt. The funny thing is that I'm now the Captain of the Ghost Watch, charged with enforcing shadow Philly's new laws. I think many in the Assembly still consider me a rebel though :)
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
I put together a rag tag army of ghost slaves and we defeated the armies of night. We freed our beloved Philadelphia and began a war of freedom across Limbo.
What is your idea of happiness?
Cuddling with my wizard, he makes me feel alive.
What is your current state of mind?
Happy and confused. Happy because of Nathaniel, confused because new powers have come to me recently. They are dangerous and yet they offer opportunity. I sense that the new powers could change me in a bad way, they are very tempting though.
What is your most treasured possession?
Possessions are useless to a ghost, even celestial steel objects are merely tools. I value my friends the most, both my human and ghost friends.
What is it that you, most dislike?
I hate bully's!
Which living person do you, most despise?
No one comes to mind. Since my death, I've found that there are monsters that are far worst than most people. I do despise the guy who killed me, but he was just another puppet of an even eviler monster.
What is your greatest regret?
Letting Delilah slip through my hands. That bitch needs to be ended.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
strength of character. He should be strong without having to prove it by bullying people.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Self assurance is a quality that bespeaks inner strength.
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
I'm a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.
Which living person do you most admire?
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
What is your motto?
Never give up.
Robert Poulin was born and raised in the New England state of Connecticut. After spending his late teenage years in Boca Raton Florida, Robert moved to upstate New York where he lived with his uncle Wilbrod Poulin and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After earning a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Teaching, Robert went back to Florida where he taught Social Studies for a few years.
After returning to Northern New York, Robert took a job with the North Country Center for Independence: a disability rights and advocacy organizations. Robert has worked for NCCI for thirteen years and is now the Executive Director. Wail of the Banshees is Robert's first novel; he has been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction since second grade when he discovered The Hobbit.
Urban fantasy in particular has become Robert's favored genre in the past decade. Robert has been legally blind since infancy, but thanks to a mom that encouraged independence, hard work, and a healthy dose of dreaming, the disability has mostly just been an inconvenience.