People have been fascinated by the moon since ancient times, when its phases helped mark the passage of time. We’ve seen faces in it, speculated that other people lived on it, and raced to land on it. It controls our tides and plays a role in some magical systems. So when I was building the world for my Protectors/Light Mage Wars series, I knew the moon should play a role in their magic. I didn’t figure out how, though, until I’d started writing.
The mages are creatures of the light, as their Light Mages designation implies, so it made sense that their foes would be creatures of the dark. Their main enemies are the ghouls, humanoids who use dark magic. Because it has corrupted them as a species, they’re unable to breed among themselves or to eat anything not freshly killed. The retractable talons behind the ghouls’ fingernails can rend flesh, suck out life energy or magic, or inject lethal venom in their prey.
Ghouls also sometimes use blood magic, which I set up to be strongest at the dark of the moon. I built all this as I was writing Renegade, the first book in the Protectors series (which is part of the Light Mage Wars story arc). The dark of the moon plays a big role in the book’s events for reasons the hero sets out below.
Eight years of exile, three friends dead, and nothing to show for it. Scowling, Griffin Dare pulled the two-liter Coke out of the refrigerator. A traitor still sat on the mages’ Southeastern U. S. Shire Council, the governing and training body for the region’s mages. That unknown bastard still worked with the ghouls. Still sent unsuspecting mages to their deaths.
Griff and his team, the baker’s dozen he could trust to keep his secrets, just weren’t enough to turn the tide. When he’d gone rogue at twenty-four, he hadn’t dreamed his fight for justice would take this long.
He took a slug of Coke. Too bad high fructose corn syrup couldn’t clear the ammonia-like venom from his blood. He’d acquired it, as mages often did, through ghoul-inflicted battle wounds. Unfortunately, he’d been alone, unable to reach a healer, and there’d been too much venom in him for his immune system to cleanse.
At least the soda masked the faint ammonia flavor in his mouth. Grimacing at the sweet aftertaste, he set the bottle back in the fridge. The brief blast of cold air gave him a few seconds of relief from the night’s muggy heat.
Padding barefoot across the plank flooring, he wiped sweat off his face with one arm. Only the bedroom had air conditioning, and he rarely used it. It cut the humidity but garbled his sense of the life energy from birds and other creatures in the nearby Okefenokee Swamp. His second-floor quarters in the abandoned, rundown chair factory didn’t look like much, but living near the swamp let his power continually recharge, helped control the venom level in his blood.
A sluggish breeze stirred the blue and green glass witch balls hanging at the windows, part of his defensive system. A strand of his dark hair fell in his face, and he shoved it back, frowning at the police reports and newspaper clippings spread out on his battered walnut table.
The recent increases in violent crime, especially gory murders, pointed to ghoul plans for something big, something involving dark powers. Blood magic.
The dark of the moon, in just under two weeks, would be prime time for such a rite, but for what? Where?
The ghouls usually focused on kidnapping Mundanes or mages to breed, but they wouldn’t need blood magic for that. Was this a final push to wipe out the mages, whose numbers had dwindled while the ghouls’ grew? Even with the numerical advantage, could the ghouls manage that?
His second-in-command in their little underground, Will Davis, was an ace researcher, with two doctoral degrees to prove it. Griff reached for his phone. Good thing using his magical tracking skills as a “psychic consultant” for the Feds had netted him an untraceable cell number.
Mage power blasted through his perimeter ward, its echo like a slap in his brain. On reflex, his personal shields flared around him, a faint shimmer in the air as he summoned his quarterstaff. The seven-foot, wrist-thick ash shaft struck his palm, silver end caps and inlaid copper runes glowing with power on contact. He wheeled to face the threat.
The wave of power broke against his shield, then rolled past him on either side. With it came fury and fear and a desperate cry for help.
Abruptly as it had come, it vanished, as though the one who’d flung it outward had no more power to sustain it. Griff still stood braced. Somewhere nearby, a mage was in trouble. Or pretended to be. How better to lure him out of hiding than to make him think a mage was in lethal danger? Shielding didn’t survive translocation, so he’d be vulnerable when he arrived.
Infusing emotion in a magic wave, though, required great skill, and the intensity, the terror, in the call had felt real.
A vision flashed over his sight–darkness, a pine forest. Missy, the cashier at the Wayfarer bakery, and Todd, the bakery delivery boy, kneeling before a bloodied altar.
The scene shifted. He looked down a rutted, overgrown lane as a woman in a car behind him said, “We’re not having that fight now. Get in.”
Then he sat in the ritual grotto at the Collegium, the mages’ Georgia base, in the obsidian seat of truth, chained to it, hurting in every pore, doomed but desperate to protect her. From what? Who was she?
The vision winked out. Foresight was as much a curse as a gift, hard to interpret, harder to control, and he had no time to puzzle over it now.
Griff shook his head, refocusing on the fading remnants of that power burst. Somewhere nearby, a mage was in trouble. Honor, the last remnant he had of his old life, demanded he help. No matter what the risk.
He pulled power from the swamp, locked onto the wave’s wispy remnants, and translocated.
In Protector, the novella that comes after Renegade, the hero and heroine undergo a magic ritual that begins with moonrise. I have other plans to incorporate the moon and its phases as the series nears its end, but I’m keeping that under my hat for now. I’ve had fun playing with mages and moonlight, and I hope readers will enjoy the result.
You can find a list of the books in reading order by clicking here.
This post is part of the Broad Universe Full Moon Blog Tour. In appreciation for everyone who stops by, I’m giving away signed paperback books! Each of two winners will be able to choose either Sentinel or Renegade from the Light Mage Wars series or The Herald of Day, the 1st book of the Boar King’s Honor trilogy. NOTE: The Herald of Day will be released in late November 2015, and paperbacks will be available approximately one month later.
You must be 18 years of age or older to enter and NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY. There are two ways to enter: (1) leave a comment on this blog post or (2)use the email contact form on my homepage, www.NancyNorthcott.com, to send me an email. The email must have Full Moon Giveaway in the subject line so I don’t confuse it with spam and must say in the body of the email that you want to be entered.
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