The Witch’s Cat: The Blue Moon Hunt

It’s that time of year again. Time for another story of Vivienne and Onyx. I based this story around the fact we have two full moons this year during October. I had hoped to write and publish this story sooner but time got away from me. It happened to work out, though, because the second full moon of October was Halloween which made the timing of this story perfect.

If you haven’t read a Witch’s Cat story before, you can read last year’s, “Origins“, here and my very first one, “The Witch’s Cat“, in the Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales anthology (the ebook is free) through the Fellowship of Fantasy group.

So sit back and enjoy this year’s story, “The Blue Moon Hunt”. This will make my third story with these characters and each has been published in October. I hope to return to these two again next year so stay tuned.

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Cover created by Savannah Jezowski with Dragonpen Press

Onyx padded through the brown, curled leaves as he wove through the trees. The full moon cast a silver glow all around him, his black fur blending with the shadows of the night. As distant voices reached him, he stopped, ears twitching while taking in the sound.

It was the villagers, out on the hunt for the beast terrorizing them these last few months. During each full moon, a werewolf emerged from the forest, killing livestock and tearing the square apart. But this month the villagers’ superstitions were working overtime. Two full moons. With double the death and destruction imminent, they’d gathered to decide what was to be done. Onyx had been in attendance with Vivienne and the words of the villagers still echoed in his ears.

“We have to kill it before it kills us. How long will it be satisfied with animals?”

Vivienne stroked his fur as shouts of agreement rose around them. The farmer and his son to their left the loudest of all.

“Halloween is the second full moon. I say let the hunter become the hunted. Let us meet the beast before it comes to us and kill it!”

The shouts almost made him go deaf.

Tonight was Halloween, and the howls of the werewolf rang through the air as the full moon glared in night sky. Onyx was glad for the extra light if he hoped to find the creature before the villagers. He just wondered why it had to be him.

Skipping around a tree, he halted. There, just five feet away, stood a mangy wolf. Dressed in raggedy clothes, it stood hunched, head hanging low with its mouth agape and dripping saliva. Its eyes were silver like the moon.

They stared at each other.

Then, raising its snout to the sky, the werewolf howled.

“Because dogs like cats!” Onyx swung around and bolted back the way he’d came. While he would have liked to have given the mutt a good scratch on the nose, he didn’t feel like risking becoming a werekitty.

The werewolf lopped after him, barking as it ran. Yells in the distance came closer as the villagers heard the commotion. Thankfully they were still a good distance away. Still, he’d rather not have them interfere. Onyx shot to the right, hopping to lead the werewolf farther away before dodging to the left again.

Nips at his heels and hot breath on his tail challenged Onyx in all his skills of running, jumping, twisting, and shimmying he knew. But it only slowed the beast down so much.

They came to the forked tree and Onyx jumped up, scaling the trunk. He’d just tucked up his tail when the werewolf snapped at him. As he settled on a branch, the wolf circled the tree, watching its prey. Keeping a wary eye on the dog, Onyx glanced about. But it was just them. The wolf came around the far side of the tree when a gust of wind sent leaves flying from the ground.

Vivienne walked toward them, snapping open her cloak as she approached the werewolf. It stepped back, waving its head left and right as it cowered backward until it hit the tree. It whimpered as it hung its head. She stopped, still as the night as the werewolf cowered.

When it looked up again, it gave whinny grunts, like those noises when humans believe their dog is talking to them.

Lowering her cloak, Vivienne took out a glass vile filled with a silvery liquid and removed the cork. She reached toward him and poured the contents down its throat.

The werewolf whimpered as it shrank in size and its hair fell out until a hunched over man sat at the tree’s base. Lifting his head, he blinked as the final bits of silver faded from his eyes. The farmer’s son looked up at Vivienne before glancing at his torn clothing.

“Me? I was…”

Vivienne slowly nodded.

“I… Oh, no. Did I…” he chocked as he said, “…kill anyone?”

She shook her head.

He dropped his head into his hands as his body shook.

“How? How did you know it was me?”

Onyx dropped from the tree and sauntered over to Vivienne. He jumped into her arms and purred. Smiling, she tapped Onyx’s nose.

“Why would you help me?” he said. “I… spread rumors you were behind the werewolf. Secretly, I think we all did.”

Vivienne stroked Onyx’s fur and scratched under his chin before looking up at the man. But she didn’t answer.

Shouts drifted to them as torches appeared through the trees.

“No.” The farmer’s son scrambled to his feet. “They’ll kill me once they find out.”

Vivienne stepped toward him, her finger out to silence him. She waved her hand and a path of glowing, white flowers sprang up. “Follow these and you’ll make it home without anyone finding you.”

“But the moon—”

“Won’t bother you anymore.” She turned to leave and scratched under Onyx’s chin.

“Wait. How can I repay you?”

She smiled over her shoulder and said, “Don’t think poorly of others in the future. What they look like on the outside does not reflect what they are on the inside.”

Vivienne and Onyx disappeared into the night shaded forest. After a few moments, they heard the farmer’s son walk off as he followed the path home, the flowers fading as he passed them. By the time the villagers arrive, they’ll find nothing but an empty, glass vile.

“Night’s Journey” Art Giveaway

I have a new story releasing with Havok Publishing today titled “Night’s Journey”! Summary: Sonora is deathly sick. To reaffirm this knowledge, death visits her every night. Determined not to be stolen away, she decides to face this adversary but death isn’t who she thought he was.

I love this story and enjoyed writing it so much. When I found out that Havok accepted it, I commissioned art from Hannah Williams (she is also the author of Moonscript which was a great book). Many writers I know have hired her for art of their characters which are beautiful so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for this story. And, boy, did the art turn out beautiful.

To celebrate the release of “Night’s Journey”, I’m giving away a print of this art to one lucky winner! Just read the story on Havok‘s website (available for free today only then becomes part of their Member Only story) and come back here to enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below by sharing what you liked best about the story.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy “Night’s Journey”.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where’s Woven Fate?

Where

Hey, readers. If you’ve been following my blog you’ve probably noticed that it’s been really quite. I unfortunately got behind with Woven Fate and been busy with other projects to work on that. So, what exactly happened? Well, life just happened.

Time really opened up doing the stay at home order and I did get a lot of writing done. But, not for Woven Fate. I used the time to finish the second draft and start and finish the third draft of my novella The Beauty of Magic which I feel I’m more behind in (I had wanted a release date for last year). So I got far in that one and even passed it off to beta readers (working through those now). I also used the time to work on some flash fiction pieces. So I wrote, just not Woven Fate. I kept thinking I would be able to get to it once I had these quicker, shorter pieces off my plate so I could focus on the blog story.

But, as I’m sure you already guessed, that didn’t happen. Things began opening up again, I went back to work, time got tight, I’m working on packing to move, and then the writers conference I’ve always wanted to go to is being hosted online this year so I signed up… which I’m able to pitch a novel at so I have to work on some final edits for that. *Face palm here*

So, time just filled up with life and other writing. I had to put some things on the back burner, one of which was Woven Fate. But, it is not alone on that burner. I also forced a flash fiction writing hiatus on myself because I would allow myself to write one because “it is short and quick” (and it is) but with my limited time it actually prevented me from getting to my longer projects by a week or two. I’ll be lifting that hiatus here after the conference.

Where does that leave Woven Fate? Well, I still plan on working on it and having it finished by the end of the year. But there will be a lot of catch up when I can get back to it. For now, I have to finish editing my novel for the pitch in case the agent wants to see the first three chapters and The Beauty of Magic has waited to long so I want to finish the beta edits and another read through of that and send it to a proofreader. At which time I’ll be able to return to Woven Fate, starting with Part 4.2 and then working on catching up. To dedicate time to this project, once The Beauty of Magic is published, I will not be starting another novella until after Woven Fate is done.

To finish a writing project, you have to set priorities and focus, which sometimes means setting limitations in other areas or projects. This is how I have to set them for now and I hope this will help me accomplish and finish some of these projects, all of which are dear to my heart and I want to see completed, out in the world, and the best they can be.

The Story Behind the Story – Mew Mutants

2020-05-16 Rachel Harris, _Mew Mutants_Today my story, “Mew Mutants”, is published with Havok. It is about cats with… unusual powers. It is kind of funny how I was first inspired for this story so I thought I would share the story origin.

Back in December, I was doing inventory for the small game and comic bookstore I work at and was having trouble finding one of our newer X-Men comics. Marvel had a restart the X-Men series a few months before with several different titles, one of which was New Mutants. All of them were selling well for us so it made no sense why I couldn’t find it.  I also do the receiving for the comics so it made no sense why I couldn’t find a book that I knew the name of and what I put it in as. So I double checked the book in the system to determine what had happened. Well, instead of writing “New”, I had typed “Mew”.

This was not the first time I miss-typed something or spelled something wrong (you should have seen how I spelled a Spider-Man title) so I wasn’t terrible surprised. But I thought it was hilarious that the name made it sound like cats. I also couldn’t help but think it was a good title. So I made a note of it and went back to work. 

A few months later and Havok was accepting stories for their Bingeworthy season, a season filled with popular troupes that I love. I was still thinking of this title and wanted to write a story sooner than later but wanted to be okay with waiting so it would go with the right story. d Super Duper was one of the themes. The story didn’t come right away but eventually I decided to put the title and and the Super Duper theme together for a Staff Saturday feature and created a story where I couldn’t help but smile every time I worked on it.

It’s funny where ideas come from. They can pop up anywhere if you’re open to inspiration (even from mistakes that should embarrass you). And I did correct the comic book title in case you were wondering. But I love my super powered cats and am excited to share them with you today. Maybe I will write another adventure for them in the future.

If you would like to check out their story, you can visit gohavok.com and read it today (May 16, 2020). If you’re a member, you can also check out my past stories in the archives or click the Havok image on the sidebar to the right which is linked to a list of all my stories with them. Enjoy and hope you find some inspiration today.

Woven Fate: Part 4.1 – Fire and Storm

Woven Fate 1

The rain poured down, soaking Tovi, Makani, and Nara as the made their way down Mount River. As he tested his next step, Tovi watched the thin, little rivulets of water streamed through the mud and down the mountain, giving the name a whole new meaning. Glancing back, he checked on Nara as she more skidded down the incline then walked. Her arms stretched out and mud up to her knees, he was nervous one of these times she was going to trip headlong into him and roll to the bottom. With a squeak, her foot slipped out from under her and fell backwards on butt.

“You alright?”

She waved to him. “Fine. How much farther?”

“I was hoping to get to the next grove of trees so the next hike would only take a day before we were at the bottom.”

Scanning the mountainside, she nodded and struggled to stand. The next stand of trees was several hours away. Tovi sighed and scanned the area. To his left was an outcropping of stone which created a little nook against the mountainside. He checked that Makani was stable then trudged toward Nara. Halfway to standing, she looked up and her feet skidded out from under her as she saw him.

He reached out his hand. “There’s shelter over there. Let’s wait out the rain.”

The rain patted on his head as the seconds dragged by as he held out his hand. She glanced it then him before slowly taking it. With a hand on his shoulder, she let him escort her to the nook and sat down. Tovi went back for Makani and squeezed them under the outcropping before rubbing the horse down and covering him with a blanket and then making a small fire.

While they were walking, he hadn’t felt the cold chill of the rain but, now, as they sat still and his clothes clung to him and the rain soaked through to his bones, he shivered. Wrapping his cloak tight around his shoulders, he huddled before the fire and rubbed his hand, trying to at least chaise away the cold there. Beside him, Nara shivered like a dead leaf in the fall before it was torn from its tree by the wind and blown away. Mud dripped from her hair, skirt, hands… Was there a spot not covered it dirt?

Digging through a saddle bag, he pulled out his blanket and laid it across her shoulders. “Here.”

As the fabric swung around her, she jumped. Tovi hesitated. Her eyes danced between his. First looking at one. Holding it. Then at the other. Sighing, Tovi settled the blanket around her then looked away. Of course she was afraid of him.

“It’ll get wet?” she squeaked as she huddled into the blanket, bring it up over her head. In the two days they had been traveling, she’d barely spoken to him.

He shrugged. “I’ve made do with less.”

The fire crackled as the rain continued to pour. Tovi shifted a little. Should he say something? Nara was looking away from him to occasionally her eyes would dart to him.

“You know,” she lifted her head slightly from the cloak, like a mouse peeking out of a hole, “you don’t seem like the type to destroy a kingdom.”

“That’s because I’m not.”

Nara nodded.

Silence settled as the sky darkened. Looked like they wouldn’t be getting any farther today.

“So… tell me about this… needle.”

“The needle?” Nara’s head popped up and she shook out her hair.

Where her eyes sparkling? Tovi leaned back as Nara straitened up and a smile started on her lips.

“The needle once changed all of Elandra. Three hundred years ago, a king was preparing to hand over his throne to his son and had a tapestry woven. In it depicted to prince’s reign. One of terror and greed. The weaver’s apprentice couldn’t stand what was going to happen so she took her needle and rewove the tapestry so instead of a rise to power, his actions lead to a revolution. Sure enough, the new king was over thrown and a new king rose was crowned who lead the people in peace and goodness. But, because of the potential power of the needle, the apprentice was charged with hiding it away with these instructions from her teacher: ‘Keep it close to your heart.’ To this day, the apprentice’s decedents guard the needle.”

“And it’s in Daker? The center of weaver’s craft?” Tovi furrowed his brow. “Isn’t that a little obvious?”

Nara shrugged. “The weaver also told her apprentice to hide it in plain sight.”

“Harder to find,” Tovi muttered. “Been my policy for a while. Still, we’ll be in center of the weavers’ market. We’ll be looking for a needle among literally dozens of needles.”

“Hundreds. Thousands, actually.”

Tovi berried his face in his hands and growled.

“Buuuut, we do have something to help us. This needle is inscribed.”

“That helps?”

“Do you realize how hard it is to inscribe a needle?” Nara’s voice rose several pitches.

Tovi shook his head. “No.”

Lifting her arm, Nara pulled something from the edge of her sleeve and held it out. Tovi let her drop it onto his palm. A slim, silver needle shorter than his pinky finger laid in his hand. It was thinner than one of his veins and, when he tapped the end, prickly. Handing it back to her, he watched as she placed it back in her sleeve and noticed that it was filled with needles of various lengths and widths as well as pins.

She glanced from him to her sleeve and shrugged. “Habit.”

Tovi blinked. “What else does the legend say?”

“Well… it is believed that King Noach is a descendent of that king.”

“Really?” Odd. The same needle that put him in power will be used to affect him again. “What happened to the king and his son.”

“Don’t know,” Nara said. “They disappeared. No one knows what happened to them. It is said, though, that someday their descendants will return to challenge the heirs who overthrow them.

Tovi chocked. Is that what is happening? Am I an heir and the prophecy is telling how I will challenge them? He shook his head. There were too many possibilities and directions. He couldn’t keep them straight.

Clearing his throat, he said, “You seem to know a lot about this legend.”

Nara smiled and bounced. “It’s one of my favorites of the weaver legends. Being able to change the future. To hold the fate of yourself, others, in your hands. To actually create and do something to make the world better.”

“Isn’t that what prophetess’s do?”

“Not quite. We see a moment of the future and set it into fabric. It is the person’s own choices that lead to it. I just sew it.”

“Asami said though that sometimes it is knowing the future that leads to it.”

Nara sighed. “I’ve been weaving since I was a little girl. Everything I’ve woven has come true. As everyone says, ‘Once woven, forever bound.’”

“Comforting.” Tovi scratched his head. “Then why are you helping me?”

Nara bit her lip as she thought. “Because you seem like a nice person.”

“Thanks.” Tovi sighed.

Nara shrugged. “Besides, your situation is already terrible so how much worse can it get?”

What did she just say? Snorting, Tovi chuckled. She hadn’t been this outspoken every. And he hadn’t laughed since… Rubbing his hand against his mouth, he said, “Daker, ha? My troupe should be headed that way. Spring festivals.”

“Oh, maybe we’ll get to see them.”

Tovi bit his lip. “We didn’t end on the greatest to terms. They hadn’t known…” he reached up and touched his left eye, “and now they kind of do.”

“Oh,” Nara fiddled with the edge of the blanket. “Maybe they won’t mind?”

Tovi huffed and shook his head. “I’m a prize to be won and a villain to conquer. I can’t have anything until this prophecy is changed.”

“Sorry,” she whispered.

Shaking his head, he forced a smile, his cheeks feeling like the strings of a bow being pulled by a fledgling archer. “Doesn’t matter. I’ve lived with it long enough. Besides, once we get that needle, you can weave a new tapestry and everything will be fine.”

“New tapestry?”

“Yeah.” Tovi’s smile faded. “You can do that, right? Asami said that the loom didn’t matter.”

“Yes, no, no, the loom doesn’t matter,” Nara said, the words tumbling out of her mouth. “So, get the needle and weave a whole new tapestry. Is that what you’re thinking?”

“Yes.” Tovi cocked his head. “Is that a problem?”

“No. Not at all.” Nara looked out at the rain as she rocked back and forth.

Did I do something wrong? Is asking her to weave this tapestry more than she wanted to do? Biting his lip, he tried to think of something to say. It was nice talking and he didn’t want it to end. After a few moments, he said, “So how about you? How did you become a prophetess?”

“Oh,” she chuckled, “Same story as many prophetess’s. I was thirteen and was weaving when I kept getting these little pieces of images. They wouldn’t go away so I wove them into a tapestry to get them out. It became an image of my sister’s wedding day. That night, she came home and told our parents she had met a charming young man. A few days later, she introduced him to us and he was the spitting image of the man in the tapestry. They were married a year later. And are still very happy together.”

Tovi blinked and a smile slowly spread across his face. “Well, that was the best story of the night.”

Nara grinned as her cheeks turned red.

They watched the rain fall as silence came to them again. But this time, for the first time since he was a child, Tovi felt at peace. She maybe wasn’t comfortable with him yet, but at least he was beginning to have a friend who know him and didn’t want to see him dead.

***

Author’s Note

So, this isn’t this month’s edition to the story but something a little extra. This is a scene that bridges to last month’s to this month’s events. It also gives some background info on the needle and Nara as those will all be coming into play in as we go on. Plus, it is fun to see Nara and Tovi’s friendship start and grow. They will be going through a lot… starting with the next post, when it is The End of the World as We Know It. (If you’ve been following the story, you know I am using Havok Publishing monthly theme to create one, cohesive story throughout 2020. When they planned and released these themes last year, no one had any idea how much this month’s theme would mirror our current world. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. I hope you all are doing well, I’m praying for you and the world and the end of the Corona Virus, and I hope you can find some escape in this story or through others.)