5 Star Review for Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 1: The Beginning

5 star review 🙂

Anna Dobritt -- Author

5-Star Review!

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Pleasantly surprised and very impressed.
By B. Hartshorn on December 23, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Let me first say, I love Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have a list of favorite authors. My husband Brett and I get books on kindle, sometimes an entire series of books, and we will both read them and discuss them.

I started reading The Ravynwyng Chronicles: The Beginning, and I had difficulty putting my phone down. (I use the Kindle App)

I was already talking about this book with my husband and friends within the first couple of chapters. It is well written and captivating. The characters in the book grab your attention with how real and relatable they seem, and the story progresses with elements of fantasy that keep me turning pages and wanting to read more.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how quickly I got caught up…

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Evicted Update

Anna Dobritt -- Author

https://www.gofundme.com/a25nf0

Tomorrow is my birthday and I never thought my life would be reduced to what can fit in a car when I turned 54.  My brother and I had to leave just about everything behind when we were evicted.  Dishes,  clothing, pots and pans, furniture; cats to a no kill shelter, which means they are up for adoption and I’ll never see them again or hear their purring.  Except for a couple boxes of books and important documents stored at my sister’s, everything else we own had to fit in his car. My brother is staying in a sleep only shelter and I’m currently in a motel, since the shelter he’s at has no room for females right now.  The loneliness and depression are trying to take a firm grip, no matter how I try to ‘look on the bright side’. When you don’t have a place to call…

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Evicted!

Evicted!

My brother and I were evicted September 23, 2015. We need to raise funds to find a place to stay. My brother works at McDonald’s and I am unable to work due to health issues. We really need the help. I cannot live alone so we have to stay together. My brother is a veteran and is trying so hard to help us get back on our feet. We had to take our two cats to a no kill shelter and that broke our hearts. Please help us.

https://www.gofundme.com/a25nf0

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RwCU Volume 1 The Beginning — New Opening

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Chapter 1 

“What do the runes mean and why is a raven surrounded by a silver glow appearing?” Ravyn Wyng finished the slice of pizza, eyes, fixed on the screen, but not seeing the words. She stretched and grimaced; her left shoulder ached, throbbing in time with her heart.

Ravyn rubbed her shoulder and debated whether to take a pain pill. A rumble of thunder rolled over the house rattling the windows.

“What does what mean?” Jennifer Wells entered the office, coffee mugs in hand.

Ravyn grabbed one of the mugs and kissed her wife. “The damn dream I’ve been having. Had it again last night, and this time a raven surrounded by a silver glow appeared. As if the runes, the voice I don’t understand, and the map isn’t weird enough.”

“Which explains why you were up before me. Make an appointment with Doctor Samson.”

“Why? It’s not like the nightmares of the car accident and beating. I wish I understood the damn voice. Besides, going to see Dr. Samson never helps; I still have the nightmares.”

Jennie caressed her cheek. “You’re losing sleep with these strange dreams. You need to talk to your therapist.”

“I suppose. I’m sorry for being grumpy.”

“It’s all right.”

“I’ll think about seeing Dr. Samson. Maybe make an appointment for next week. Right now I have work to do. Anything going on at the bookstore?”

“Sherry called yesterday and sounded excited about a box of books she bought at an estate sale. She said she found a handwritten journal with maps in it and runes. What are your plans?”

“I’m working on revisions for the next book. Don’t want to miss my deadline. I might stop by the bookstore today.”

“You up to driving?”

“I’ll be fine once the rain stops. Supposed to be sunny and warm today. You know, you don’t have to work at the bookstore every day. Rob and Sherry can manage whatever comes up.”

“I like working there. Don’t forget we’re expected at Lyta and Nicole’s this evening.”

“The anniversary party is tonight?”

“Yep. I picked up their gifts. I commissioned Uncle Ray to make two more rings and medallions.”

Ravyn eyed the ring on Jennie’s left hand; a gold band set with ruby, topaz, beryl, emerald, sapphire, and amethyst. The medallion contained the same stones in an arc and inscribed with the words Together Always & Forever.

“At least you have a family,” Ravyn said.

“Still no luck in finding information about your parents?” Jennie put an arm around her.

Ravyn set her mug on the desk. “No. I sometimes wonder if Wyng is my last name.” She closed her eyes, waiting for the heartache to pass.

Jennie pulled her close. “Tell you what, I’ll be the designated driver tonight, so you can drink as much beer as you want.”

“Why? You enjoy drinking, too.” She pressed against Jennie, and a welcome warmth filled her.

“Because I love you.” A gentle kiss followed.

When they separated, Ravyn had a mischievous glint in her eye. “Since I own the bookstore, why not let Rob open this morning?”

“Last time I didn’t show up until late afternoon.”

“It was worth it.” Ravyn released her. “Off with you, you great tease. Before I forget my manners.”

“What manners, love?” With a laugh, she left.

Ravyn returned to work. The sounds of clinking coins indicated a message arrived on her phone.

‘Will stop by this morning at ten-thirty. Time to go over your finances. Jason Mays.’ 

Oh bother. I don’t want to see him today. The clock showed ten twenty-five. Ravyn loved her lawyer and financial adviser, but worried she disappointed him. Too late to call and cancel.

At ten thirty, Ravyn opened the front door. “Come on in, Jason. Isn’t this weather grand?”

He shook his umbrella. “Good for the flowers. Hello, Ravyn.”

“You want coffee? I can make a fresh pot.” She hugged him. “How are Marie and the twins?”

“No, thank you on the coffee. They’re fine. Before I forget, Marie wants you and Jennie to come to dinner on Sunday.”

“Tell her we’ll be there. I promise any toys we bring for the twins will be quieter than the drums Jennie brought last time.”

“Thank you. How are you doing?”

“You know, good days and bad days. With the good ones outnumbering the bad more often than not now.”

“Good to hear. Are you getting enough sleep?” He removed a sheaf of documents from his briefcase, and handed them to her.

“I’ve had strange dreams lately, but not the nightmares. Nothing I can do about them.” Ravyn read the papers. “Excellent! Thank you for setting up the trust fund for Jennie. If anything happens to me, she won’t have to worry.”

“The health insurance is set for the two of you.”

“Good.” She signed where indicated. “I take it the investments are doing well?”

“Yes.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “However, your bookstore barely makes a profit. I recommend selling it.”

“I don’t want to sell Curious Words. I like the place, and you know making a profit isn’t why I own it.”

“You should consider moving to a gated community.”

“What for? I don’t want to live someplace that has rules and regulations on how a place should look. There’s nothing wrong with this house or neighborhood. It’s not as if I live in Detroit, and Livonia is a quiet suburb. Besides, this is the only place that feels like a real home.”

“Which is why my parents left it to you. They loved you, Ravyn, and I know they planned to adopt you before they died in the car crash.”

“Stupid drunk driver. He should’ve gotten life instead of 10 years.” She returned the documents.

“How’s the book coming?” Jason placed the papers in the briefcase and closed it.

“The aim is a release date within the next couple of months. I was working on the revisions before you arrived. Also finished writing another article about lost civilizations.”

“I don’t see how you can write about places no one can prove existed.”

She rubbed her left shoulder to ease the muscle spasms. Maybe I should take a pain pill. “Please don’t start, Jason. I believe they do, and nothing you say will change my mind.”

He stood. “I have to get to the office.”

She walked him to the door. “Give Marie my love.”

“I will.” He grabbed the umbrella.

Outside the rain had stopped, and the sun peeked through the clouds.

“Take care and thanks again for all your help. If I had to keep track of my finances and legal stuff, I’d screw it up royally.”

“Give Jennie my best.” He hurried outside.

After he drove off, Ravyn headed for the kitchen and grabbed a Pepsi from the fridge. On the deck she set the bottle on the rail and lit a cigarette.

As she watched the storm clouds head east, Ravyn tried to recall more details of her dream, but came up blank. The voice bothered her the most, since she believed it held an important message. Wonder what the raven means? Motion on the garage roof caught her eye. A large black bird with a silver glow landed and stared at her. “This is too weird. It must be a reflection of the sun and clouds or something.”

Maybe I’m going crazy. They say there’s a connection between creativity and madness. Ravyn brushed aside the idea. Enough! You had one nervous breakdown two years ago and spent time in the hospital. This doesn’t mean you’re nuts. Think of the good things in your life, Jennie the best of all.

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Writers World Boot Camp — Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery

Writers World Boot Camp

Anna Dobritt -- Author

On June 20th I switched to fixing Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery  for Writers World Boot Camp 1. I did a line by line edit, removing unneeded tags and trying to get rid of overstaging. 86 chapters in total.

Today I finally finished that and  look forward to the editing portion of boot camp. I hope to cut another 10k words if possible. Without the comments made by Randall Andrews and Lara Lalalynn I would never have reached this point

Original Word Count 131,997
New Total after Editing 112,086
Words cut 19,911

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Excerpt from Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery

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Ravyn shook her head, backing away from the shadows that tried to surround her. A terrible cold attempted to envelop her. ‘What do you want from me?’ None spoke, instead they drew closer, and she shivered. ‘Please, talk to me, tell me what you want!’ She backed away, hoping she wouldn’t trip. She felt if they managed to touch her, things would go from bad to worse.

Feet numbed by the cold, Ravyn stumbled but kept her footing. The stumbles allowed the shadows to get closer and it became difficult to keep moving. ‘S-so c-cold.’ Teeth chattered and numbness spread to her fingers.

*Ravyn!* Cara’s voice echoed in her mind. The bird landed on her shoulder and the silvery glow surrounded them, pushing the Shadows back.  

Ravyn moved quickly to the white arch and stepped into its glow.

Her eyes flew open and she sat up. A shiver coursed through her body, and she jumped when something touched her right hand.

“Easy, Ravyn. You were having a bad dream,” Lyta said.

Ravyn wiped the sweat from her face. “S-sorry. Didn’t mean to wake you.” With effort, she sat up and leaned against the headboard.

“I was already awake. Waiting for Nickie to bring me something to eat. I’m starving. What you did for me, Ravyn, I can never hope to repay you. You took a great risk using the ring to save my life.”

“Couldn’t let you die, Lyta. Not if there was a chance I could save you. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t try.”

Nicole and Jennie entered the room bearing trays owls, cups of steaming liquid, juice, and spoons. “Finally! I’m ready to start eat my fingers.” Lyta rubbed her hands together She eyed the steaming brown-colored liquid in the bowl. “What the hell is that? I said I wanted a ham sandwich. That is definitely not a ham sandwich!” She looked a the other items. “Jell-O? Juice?” She picked up the cup and took a sniff, making a face. “Tea? Nickie, what the hell is all this?”

The ravens chuckled and hopped to the floor. “Come on, Kreena. Let’s see if Reggie has any treats for us. Broth and tea are not for us.”

“The liquid in the bowl is beef broth. You are on a semi-liquid diet until I say otherwise. I’m certain Ravyn healed you completely, but it’s not a good idea to take too many risks until after your x-rays tomorrow.”

Ravyn gave a wary look to the bowl of broth. “I think I’ll just have the Jell-O and juice.” She thought for a moment. “Wait a minute, why am I on this diet too?”

“Just being cautious. It won’t hurt you to eat it,” Nicole said. “Dig in.”

They picked up their spoons and started to eat the broth. Ravyn managed three spoonfuls before pushing it away in disgust. She finished the Jell-O and juice, but Ravyn refused to have anything to do with the tea. Lyta ate everything, but the look in her eyes was far from happy. “I hope breakfast will be something more substantial than this.” Lyta set down the empty cup.

“You will have breakfast after the x-rays.” Nicole moved the tray to the table at the foot of the bed. She studied the faces of the two patients, noting the haunted look in Ravyn’s eyes. “How are the two of you feeling?”

“Exhausted. How long until I get my strength back?”

Nicole shook her head. “I don’t know, Lyta. We’re treading new territory here. All we can do is wait and see.” She glanced at Ravyn. “Ravyn, is everything all right?”

“I’m tired and feel like I’ve been through a ringer. I need to go to the bathroom too.”

“I think Nicole and I can help you walk there and back. Take things slow and easy, Ravyn,” Jennie said.

“After Ravyn goes, then I need to go.” Lyta said. “I refuse to use a bedpan!”

“I thought you would say that, Lyta.”

By the time Ravyn went to the bathroom and returned to the bed, she was shaking and sweating. “Oh my god! The last time I felt like this was the first time I was let out of bed after the accident.” She closed her eyes.

“Will you be all right, while I help Nicole with Lyta?”

 “I’ll probably be asleep by the time the three of you come back. Trust me, even if the house was on fire I doubt I’d be able to get out of bed without help.”

When they returned, Ravyn was sound asleep, a soft snore filling the room Jennie smiled at the sound. “Ravyn is sleeping normally, Nickie. That snore is proof.”

Nicole squeezed Lyta’s hand. “Go to sleep, love. It’s foolish to fight it.”

“I know, Nickie. I hope I don’t have any more bad dreams. Ravyn had one too I think. Don’t remember the details right now, but I was scared, cold, and felt lost and alone. I’ve never had a dream like that before and I hope I don’t have any more of them.”

“I understand and that’s something the four of us should discuss when the two of you are stronger.” Nicole caressed her wife’s cheek. “Now sleep, Lyta Dinet. If you wake up during the night, Jennie, or myself will be here.”

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Excerpt from Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery

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Excerpt from Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery

Ravyn was half way through a stack of French toast by the time the others entered. Reggie Mendin stood at the stove, alternating between cooking and eating.

“Ravyn, how can you eat so much and stay so skinny?” Jennie refilled Ravyn’s coffee mug.

“Don’t know; lucky I guess.” She glanced at Lyta and Nicole. “Good morning, ladies.” Ravyn cut up a sausage and gave it to Cara.

“Thank you, Ravyn.” The bird gobbled the treat. “After breakfast, I want to fly around for a while.”

“As soon as I’m finished, we’ll head outside.”

“Good morning, I suppose everyone is wondering what the plans are for today?” Lyta Dinet pulled out her notebook.

“I have to be at the bookstore. Hopefully the truck will arrive this morning,” Jennie said.

“Angie will go with you,” Lyta said, making note of it.

“That’s fine.”

“I’ll be doing some writing on the third novel before getting back to the runes,” Ravyn gave a second sausage her feathered friend.

Nicole Johnson blew on her coffee before taking a sip. “I’ll be busy making calls to get the medical records for everyone on Ravynwyng Team.”

“If you need to leave the house, have one of the others go with you. I’ll be meeting with Jason, and then I have paperwork to do for the Team. After that, it’s back to finding any information on Jack Marsden, Evan Basarab and Lawrence Astrid.”

Angie Carson, Scott Tyler and his wife Lynn, and Bryan Simms emerged from the basement. “Yum! French toast and sausages!” Angie grabbed a mug of coffee and sat at the table. “Last time I tried making this, I burned half of them. Cooking is something I have trouble with.”

Ravyn grinned stood. “You aren’t the only one, Angie. Last week I tried making a pork roast in the microwave, I set off the smoke alarms.”

“That must have smelled awful.”

“It looked awful too,” Jennie said. “I pulled into the driveway and smoke was pouring out of the kitchen windows. Ravyn was sitting in the living room with the instruction booklet torn to pieces.”

“Reg, that was an excellent breakfast.” Ravyn and Cara headed outside.

Ravyn leaned against house, cigarette in hand. “Even though Jennie says the kidnapping wasn’t my fault, I believe it was. I could’ve tossed the box in the garbage, but I didn’t. Now the people I love are in constant danger and there’s not a fucking thing I can do. I can’t even keep Jennie safe. I have to rely on others. It isn’t right!”

*Stop kicking yourself for what happened. You had no way of knowing what those bastards were up to, and you did your best to keep Jennie safe.*

*Where are you?*

*Look up,* Cara said.

The raven flew by. *Don’t get any ideas, bird.*

*I’ve only done that to a few people who deserved such treatment. Now stop worrying about what Jennie said. Why don’t you talk to Nicole about this?*

*Okay.* Ravyn felt the bird sigh.

*You can’t hide your thoughts from me, Ravyn Wyng. Want to discuss what else is bothering you?*

*I’m feeling crowded. With so many people here, it’s hard to concentrate on my work. I’m used to being alone in the house and Jennie being at the bookstore. If I want to go somewhere, I need an escort.* She smashed the cigarette in the ashtray. *I hate these damn restrictions!*

Cara swooped low, skimming the top of the table before soaring upward again. *And you miss your privacy and being alone with Jennie. But we won’t discuss that. Your thoughts on the subject are too much for me.*

A smile spread across Ravyn’s face. *I can’t help what I think. I guess I just have to adjust to things to keep Jennie safe.*

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New Opening for Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery

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Took a bit of doing, but I have a new opening for Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 2: Discovery.

Chapter 1

Ravyn Wyng sprawled on the sofa, a cigarette dangling from her lips. She stared into the half-full glass of whiskey, her mind muddled by recent events. I’m not sure which is more disturbing, when the ring glows or when I have the dreams. She traced the carved raven on the ring, amazed by the craftsmanship. Her thoughts dwelt on the latest body she had found in Hines Park; a gaping hole in the chest, throat slit, but little blood at the scene. Helplessness overwhelmed her and Ravyn struggled to determine her next move. Why won’t Lady Raven tell me what I’m supposed to be doing? It has to be more than finding the Order’s murder victims. Why didn’t the sight of the body bother me? Is the ring blocking the emotions?

*Do you realize all this deep pondering is disrupting my sleep?*

Her raven companion interrupted her. *Sorry, Cara. It would be nice to have my thoughts remain my own. Where are you? *

*I can’t help it; it’s the bond between us and the ring you wear. As for where I am, I’m on my perch in the living room.*

*All quiet?*

*Yes. Lynn is outside checking the yard.*

*I wish the security wasn’t necessary, but keeping Jennie and others safe takes priority over my wants.*

The ring flickered and a dark shape with red eyes appeared in the corner of the office before vanishing. Ravyn stared at the corner. Maybe it was my imagination. The glow from the ring showed otherwise.

“Want to talk about it?”

Ravyn jumped and the whiskey splashed on her top. “Damn it, Cara! Do you have to sneak around like that?”

“Sorry. I couldn’t get back to sleep and thought you could use the company.” The bird moved to the sofa and settled beside Ravyn.

She stroked Cara’s feathers. “Not sure what there is to talk about. The ring appears to let me know when a body is dumped someplace. I have a dream that shows the location, and then it gives off a bright flash to cleanse the body.” Ravyn sipped her drink. “The ring also heals me. My shoulder no longer hurts; the knife wound is healed….”

“Yet it troubles you.”

“If you were in my place, wouldn’t you be a little concerned? Hell, I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be doing aside from finding bodies. A strange thing happened before you came in.”

“Define strange.”

“The ring flared, and I thought I saw a shadow with red glowing eyes in the corner.”

The bird hopped to Ravyn’s shoulder. “Approach the area where you saw the shadow.”

As she neared the corner, the ring glowed and pulsed in time with her heartbeat. Ravyn held out her hand and the ring illuminated the corner before going dark. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It’s possible a lesser Shadow was sent to spy on you. Later today I will see if I can find out for you. Perhaps I can convince Lady Raven to pay you another dream visit.”

A warmth spread through her as she recalled the last time she met Lady Raven.

“Good grief! Maybe I’ll ask her to write you a letter instead! I don’t want to read your thoughts when you are face to face with her.”

She returned to the sofa and the glass of whiskey. “Sorry about that. There is something about her that reminds me of Jennie. You already know how I feel about her.”

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Excerpt from Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 1: The Beginning

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Ravyn found herself in the dream garden, flowers gleamed in the light of the full moon. Cara sat beside her on the marble bench. ‘Why are we here?’

‘Someone wants to talk to you,’ Cara replied.

The air before Ravyn shimmered, a silvery light that grew brighter as she watched. A tall woman with short black hair and light gray eyes emerged with a smile playing about her lips. Ravyn blushed when an unbidden thought of going to bed with the woman flitted through her mind.

Cara pecked Ravyn on the arm in gentle reprimand. ‘Again with the sex? Wasn’t your earlier romp enough?’

Ravyn bowed her head to hide the blush. The woman took a seat on the grass and folded her legs beneath her. ‘Hello, Ravyn Wyng. I’m Lady Raven.’

‘Um. Hello.’ Ravyn kept her eyes averted.

Cara chuckled as she moved to perch on her human’s shoulder. ‘Lady Raven, you have an unusual effect on certain women who enter your service.’

The woman smiled. ‘I know. Poor Morgan Byrne, she avoided looking at me as much as possible whenever I appeared.’ Lady Raven reached out and lightly touched Ravyn’s knee. ‘Don’t be embarrassed, my friend. I merely wanted to meet you and thank you for accepting Cara as your companion. In several instances, the ones who wear my rings don’t like having a talking bird as a companion.’

Ravyn glanced at the woman. ‘Now that I’m used to her, I like Cara. She seems to have a good sense of humor, but I seem to shock her with a few of my thoughts.’

‘I’m pleased you have figured out a way to decipher the runes. The runic paper sent to you is important, and the one who wears my ring would be able to figure it out.’

She scowled. ‘Why couldn’t the person write it out in English instead of runes? Lady Raven, I’m not a scholar.’

‘Those in my service continue to learn throughout their lives, which opens their minds to new ideas and concepts. Deciphering the runes is part of the learning and growth you will go through.’

‘May I ask a question?’

‘Of course.’ The older woman leaned back on her hands.

‘Is there a cult involved in this?’

‘The Order of the Shadow Dagger is not a cult, Ravyn. They are a very old order, led by a direct descendant of the founder. They are ruthless in their goals to control and dominate others. There are a few high-ranking members under control of the Shadows. Cara will explain this to you tomorrow. Suffice it to say they think nothing of committing murder through ritual sacrifices.’ Lady Raven sat forward. ‘Never let your guard down, my young friend. They have eyes and ears everywhere.’

‘What language are the journals written in?’

‘Fifteenth century Romanian. You need someone to translate them for you.’

A snort escaped. ‘Since I can’t take them to a university to be translated, how am I going to find someone to do it for me?’

‘I believe I know someone who could help you. It may take me a while though. There are more important matters I need to attend to.’

‘Shadows?’ Cara asked.

The woman nodded and gracefully rose. ‘Work on the runes, Ravyn and continue to look through the journals. I’m sure you will find other pieces of paper you can read. You can also research the names you found on that list too.’ She turned to Cara and bowed. ‘Take good care of your companion, Cara.’

‘I will, my lady.’ Cara bowed her head.

‘We will speak again, Ravyn Wyng.’ Lady Raven shimmered and vanished, leaving behind a silvery after-image that soon faded.

Cara climbed into Ravyn’s lap. ‘Time for us to leave the garden.’

Ravyn stood, the bird cradled in her arms. She took three steps forward and the air wavered before they disappeared.

Ravyn grabbed her notebook and pen to record the dream as soon as she woke, which roused Jennie. “Another dream?”

Ravyn handed her the notebook. “Yes.”

She read through the notes. “Lady Raven. How fitting. At least we have some new answers.”

Cara hopped to the floor. “Sleep well.” She made her way to the office.

Ravyn stood. “Let’s put the leftovers away and go to bed.”

Jennie smiled and helped clean up. A few minutes later, they turned in.

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Excerpt from Raven Flight Novelette

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Back on the ground, she made her way through the trees. The fog rose, and the temperature dropped with the presence of the Shadows. The ring throbbed in time with the beat of her heart, the silver glow brightening and enveloping her and Shado. When the temperature dropped further. Ronne slowed her pace and circled away from the faint path she followed. She rubbed her arms against the intense chill. Next time I’m stuffing an extra sweatshirt in my pack. Shado puffed up his feathers to keep warm.

Her heart quickened in anticipation and a touch of fear. No matter how many times she did missions of this sort, fear lurked in the back of her mind, but her natural curiosity drove her onward. A clump of bushes between two trees offered a place to hide and keep an eye on the clearing that appeared ahead of her. Shado glided to a tree branch to keep watch. Ronne crawled on her belly through the bushes. Her military training gave her the skills to keep silent. She halted when the clearing came into view.

Fifteen Shadows milled about, one twice the size of the others. It patrolled the edge of the clearing; each pass by Ronne increased her shivers. She gritted her teeth to keep them from chattering. From the far side of the clearing, a short, wiry man appeared dressed in a light gray suit.

*Who is this?* She sent to Shado.

*No idea. You have your recorder?*

With difficulty, Ronne removed a small video camera from her pack. *Next time I’m sticking this in my pocket.* She turned it on and aimed it at the gathering.

A male jogger entered the clearing, sliding to a halt. “What the hell?”

The man walked over to the newcomer, motioning for the large shadow to join him. “It’s unfortunate you arrived when you did.” He took a step back, running his hands through his short, silvery black hair. “Vulsar take care of him.”

Vulsar’s vague human shape reached out a shadow limb, plunging it into the jogger’s chest. At first, no reaction. Between one breath and the next the young man stiffened, eyes wide, mouth agape. No sound escaped his lips, but his body trembled. The color faded from his skin. When Vulsar withdrew, the body stood for a moment, before crumpling in a heap.

Ronne shook her head and wished she could have stopped the death. She witnessed this once before and like then, she locked away her emotions on the matter.

The man glanced at the body, face expressionless. He returned his attention to the gathered Shadows. “You will disperse through the city after sunset. Do nothing until I give the order. Disobey me, and I will destroy you.” He turned to Vulsar. “When you reach the city, take control of an unmarried shop owner. Someone unattached to anyone.”

“As you wish, Evan Basarab. It may take me a few days to an appropriate host.”

“No matter. Possessing someone who is married raises too many questions and problems. I will see about acquiring a new base of operations for us to work from.” He left the clearing.

The Shadows floated around until Vulsar pointed into the trees. They dispersed. After a final look at the body on the ground, he left.

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