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Dark Monolith New Edition in Progress

As I previously reported, the revised edition of Dark Monolith is still in progress. Since it no longer matches the new editions of Ruins on Stone Hill and Serpent Cult I had to pull it from the shelf. Now that the editing phase is done (thanks Sandy!), the new manuscript is being readied for publication. I hope to release it in late January or early February 2017. In the interim, here is a short excerpt from the new Dark Monolith:

The pit in Glo’s stomach grew as his companions approached. After what seemed like an eternity, Elladan and Lloyd finally landed in the center of the deck. As the young warrior put the nymph down, Elladan strode quickly over to them.

“What’s going on?” Aksel asked in a soft voice.

Elladan leaned in close and whispered, “When we approached the nymph, she cast a charm spell on us. Thankfully, I was unaffected, but Lloyd fell under it. I tried a counter-spell, but it didn’t work. So I suggested we fly back and introduce her to all our friends, hoping one of you could break the spell. Luckily she agreed.”

Glo glanced over to where Lloyd stood with the nymph. The young warrior remained perfectly still, a blank expression on his face. The nymph hung on his shoulder, her body practically wrapped around him.

“Maybe I should go over there and slap some sense into him again,” Alana said, her ire rising once more.

Glo shook his head. “It won’t help if he’s charmed.”

Elistra stared intently at the creature, her eyes narrowed and her brow deeply furrowed. “There’s something off about that creature. I’m certain she is not what she appears to be.”

“Well, there’s a way to find out and snap Lloyd out of his spell at the same time,” Aksel said quietly. “If one of you can keep her distracted, I can dispel any magical influences in the area before she realizes what is happening.”

“I’ll keep her occupied!” Donnie offered, perhaps a bit too eagerly.

Alana cast a dark look at the elf, then turned her back and stormed away. Donnie’s face fell. He started to follow her, but Elladan reached out and placed a restraining hand on his friend’s shoulder. “First things first.”

Donnie let out a short sigh, then spun around and followed the bard to greet the naked nymph.

“Aren’t you going, too?” Elistra asked Glo, with just a trace of amusement in her tone.

Glo had to admit, the nymph was very alluring—it would be easy to succumb to her physical charms. However, that is not what attracted him to the opposite sex, or at least not solely, he corrected himself. “No. I’m fine where I am.”

“Good,” she said softly, stepping closer and putting her arm through his.

While Elladan and Donnie approached the nymph, Aksel headed in the opposite direction. He stopped next to Alana, with his back to them, and covertly prepared the spell which would free Lloyd.

“Good morning, my lady,” Donnie addressed the woodland creature. “Welcome aboard the Rusty Nail.”

The nymph slowly unwrapped herself from Lloyd and sauntered up to the slight elf, her every move practically dripping with sensuality. Long auburn hair flowed downward over the pale skin of her shoulders, just barely covering the roundness of her breasts. A pair of smoldering blue eyes fixed themselves on Donnie, as the she reached out a finger and placed it on Donnie’s chest. Those pouty pink lips parted, a breathy voice passing between them. “Is this your ship?”

Glo could hear Donnie gulp all the way from the other side of the deck. “Um, no, my lady, it is not. Tell me, what’s a beautiful girl like you doing in a place like this?”

From someone else, that might have sounded cliché, but it was obvious from Donnie’s tone that he was trying to be amusing. His ploy worked—the nymph giggled, then responded in the same breathy voice. “I was wandering around the forest all by myself. I was rather lonely, and wanted some company.” She emphasized that last word. “Then I saw your boat. I was so happy when these handsome men flew over to get me.” All during her speech, she continued to run her finger around Donnie’s chest.

Glo heard a decided “Humph” from the deck behind him. Alana was obviously not buying any of the nymph’s story. Donnie, however, was getting more than he bargained for. The nymph’s forwardness was causing even the worldly elf to blush. Donnie reached down and gently grabbed her hand, carefully moving it away from his chest. “I’m just glad we could be of assistance, my lady.”

“Who’s your new friend, Donnie?” a familiar voice interrupted them.

Glo glanced up and saw Ruka perched on the lowest yardarm of the mainmast. Her expression was a mask of calm, but Glo suspected she was seething underneath.

Donnie spun around to face the teen, his eyes wide. “Oh... Ruka! I... didn’t see you up there.”

“That’s because your eyes were focused elsewhere,” Alana called from across the deck.

Donnie’s gaze shifted to the lady knight, little beads of sweat forming on his brow. “I was just greeting our visitor.”

“I’m sure that’s what you were doing,” Alana replied, her voice practically dripping with acid.

The tension in the air was almost palpable. Unfortunately, the exchange between the two women and Donnie was drawing too much attention to Alana, who stood dangerously close to Aksel. Glo nearly said something, but thankfully Elladan had the presence of mind to step in.

“Well, it is a pleasure to have you here, my lady,” he addressed the nymph. “I am so glad you took up my suggestion to come and visit us.” He executed a graceful bow, finishing with a half-smile.

The nymph turned toward the bard. “You are indeed the charmer,” she responded in her breathy voice. She sauntered forward and placed a finger on his chest. “And here I thought you didn’t like me.”

She stared up at him, a seductive smile on her lips, and walked her fingers up his chest. Somehow, Elladan managed to maintain his cool—he grabbed her hand and took it gently into his own. “Now, whatever gave you that idea?”

The nymph never got to answer. As her lips parted, a brilliant circle of violet light engulfed the entire deck around them. It swiftly faded, but so did Lloyd’s blank stare—the young man blinking his eyes rapidly as if awakening from a deep sleep. At the same time, the creature in front of Elladan began to change. Her hair and complexion remained the same, but her eyes darkened and her lips turned blood red. The most striking change, however, was the two tiny horns that now stuck out from her forehead, and the bat-like wings that protruding from her back.

“Succubus!” Elistra practically hissed the word.

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