Friday, April 4, 2008

Excerpt of Stone of Cruento

Stone of Cruento
Charlene Leatherman
Cerridwen Press

Excerpt of Stone of Cruento (unedited) Release Date May 1, 2008

Claren wanted to leave. The chanting and the color shining from the stone made her uncomfortable. Yet, something deep in the stone called to her. Deep within her belly, the place that held her sex drive and her instinctive drive to exist, to stay alive, ached and yearned for whatever the stone offered. She pushed the curtain aside and stepped toward the stone.
“Claren,” Belgretor and Daniel both said her name at the same time. She jumped as though she was shocked.
“Sorry. Let’s get the stone and get out of here. All of this is creeping me out.”
“Agreed,” Daniel said. “Belgretor, I owe you an apology. Geoffrey is indeed a stupid king.” He turned to Claren. “Geoffrey has evidently succumbed to insanity. He believes that if he opens the stone he will achieve power over all vampires here and throughout the galaxies available thru the portal.”
“Me get stone,” Bel said, pushing the drape out of his way.
Claren inhaled raggedly, expecting the shades to attack. They didn’t move. Neither did the king.
Belgretor stepped past Claren and Daniel.
The portal shimmered as though a stone had been tossed into a pool of water. Circles rippled from the center out. Belgretor, Claren and Daniel turned to the unexpected disturbance.
“Ah, all three of you are together.”
Belgretor turned at the voice. It was a language he knew from long ago. Something familiar about the words. He turned to see a man step through the portal. The ogre was torn between desire to go to the stone and the need to keep Claren from harm. He paused a moment too long.
Jamros read the DNA signatures on the KumPl bands. He tossed the metal mesh into the air. Tiny whirling self-propelled spinners darted through the air. Claren held up her arm in defense. The KumPl struck her wrist. Instead of bouncing off, it wrapped around and locked.
Claren heard foreign words then felt a mist fall over her mind as the mesh seemed to penetrate her skin. There was no pain, only a fog that separated her from reality. She watched as the metal straps attached themselves to Daniel’s neck and to Belgretor’s ankle. She observed, detached as though she watched a movie. The man who came through the portal was dark and tall. His black hair was curly and long, with touches of red that caught the light. His eyes were dark and strangely shaped. He was naked and beautifully formed. Claren wanted to go to him and wrap herself around him. She wanted him to be inside her. She wanted to have his babies. He was meant for her and her alone.
This is insane.
She couldn’t move. Strangely, this feels like a good thing. That I can’t move I can’t do what my body tells me to do with that man.
The man uttered words, sounds that Claren did not understand. Yet, she knew what they meant. She had to move. She had to follow the man through the portal.
Claren began moving past the hypnotized vampires. Her body moved of its own accord, following commands she did not understand. She couldn’t turn her head but she could hear the footsteps of Belgretor and Daniel. They too were following the commands. Moving slowly, she and the other two made their way to the portal. Claren left the banquet hall. She faced the portal. Belgretor and Daniel stood beside her facing the portal as well.
The chanting stopped.
Claren felt rather than heard the electric snap. The air shivered.
She heard a moan and a sigh. Then she heard screams. She wanted to run. She couldn’t move. Neither Belgretor nor Daniel moved. Claren could see Daniel’s eyes from where she stood. His eyes shouted with fear, frustration and anger. His eyes screamed at the stranger. Claren couldn’t see Bel’s face or eyes. He stood an inch or two behind her. She guessed his situation was the same. He wore the same weird thing she and Daniel wore. At least that is what she assumed. If he was free, he would have attacked the strange man by now.
Claren studied the dark man who had control of her body. Something familiar. The horse-man in her dream. The chest, the arms look so much like him. Could her dream have been a warning? Claren’s eyes wandered further down. Or a promise?
The man looked over Claren’s shoulder. His eyes widened in terror. He glanced at the ogre then at Claren and Daniel. Taking one more frightened glance at the scene behind them, the man stepped toward the portal.
“By the shield,” Jamros cursed as the screams got louder. “I will not stay in this two-legged hell any longer. Earth will have to take care of itself. Crudak can deal with you three.”

Bel wanted to talk to the stranger, tell the man that preventing him from taking care of the stone and the power that came from it was the worst mistake of the stranger’s life. Bel knew that he could stop the creature of the stone. He could prevent the disaster that hung in the air like spider webs. But he couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak.
Belgretor understood the words the man said. He knew the name Crudak. The man from the portal gave a command to follow him. Try as he might, Bel could not resist the command. He watched as his feet walked into the portal behind Claren and Daniel. Bel’s mind screamed that he belonged where he could stop the stone. He wanted to make sure Claren was safe and if the stone remained where it was, no one would be safe.
As Belgretor put one foot into the swirling portal, a singsong voice touched his ears. The voice sent chills down his spine.
“My beloved, don’t go. I’ve only just begun to play.”

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