As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! Busy in her deadline cave, Nikki Woolfolk emerged just long enough to share this a snippet from THE CASE OF THE ROSE GRIMOIRE, chosen with this image in mind…
Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!
To keep free of spoilers we will give the anime of the revealed villain the nickname “El Malo”.
Snippet from THE CASE OF THE ROSE GRIMOIRE
From Riveted: A Steampunk Romance Series
Vicente awoke to searing pain from his palm. He clutched his hand to his chest and felt wetness. He looked down at the blood that spilled from his palm. Someone grabbed his hand and held it over a bowl.
Vicente looked around. Each man was chained to the four corners along with one long chain linking all four victims to one another. If one moved, they all moved. There was enough chain for Vicente to stand but not raise his arms.
Chalk-drawn sigils from another tradition and Hebrew text were drawn in the center of the circle as herbs burned at the right a foot away from each of them. All four men were nude.
In his past with his friends, he had enjoyed pagan rites of passage skyclad, but this was not the kind of practice his friends would ever approve of. This was a bastardization.
El Malo was creating dark arts.
This sort of thing was whispered, spoken of with threats of shunning if practiced. His blood made him an unwilling participant. Vicente looked across at Trevor, who sat on his knees on the floor. All of Trevor’s smugness was gone from his demeanor. His eyes were sunken and had lost their bravado. Vicente did not want to imagine the horrors Trevor had faced days prior to Vicente’s arrival.
“Stand,” El Malo commanded.
Trevor did not move.
Trevor flinched and tried to stand, but the effort was laborious.
On opposite sides stood Trevor and Vicente chained. When they were done with Vicente’s hand, he pulled it close to his body. He felt the palm pulsing in rhythm to his heart. Pain and itching at the wound cluttered his thoughts.
Gas lamps and candles circled their perimeter. Though the lighting was low, Vicente could see the discoloration peppered on the other three men in the Circle.
Vicente closed his eyes and began to recite the Santa Muerte prayer for protection.
He saw Gillian’s face, her features in his mind as he repeated the prayer. His chain pulled him off balance. He opened his eyes.
The man to his left struggled against El Malo’s lackey. The jarring movements brought them all to the floor. Vicente coughed as the dust flew up his nose and sprayed over his mouth. His eyes watered. He blinked the dust away and watched the struggle between the chained man and the lackey.
Despite the shackles connecting them to one another, cementing their inability to escape, Vicente hoped his fellow chain mates would get a few good licks in. The glint of a blade flashed in the firelight before being buried in Trevor’s naked side.
Vicente heard the short-guttered cry. He closed his eyes as tears slid down his cheeks. He continued his prayers and opened his eyes only when El Malo came to the center and stood on the sigil to pour sacred ingredients into the bowl. The lectern held sacred text. The cover and half of the edged pages were stained red, and the other half black.
El Malo turned the text over and upside down.
Vicente understood that the Grimoire was half light magick and the other dark.
El Malo was reading from the dark half.
Vicente tried to keep the prayers for La Muerte drumming through his mind as El Malo and the lackeys began chanting the dark words. Their tongues effortlessly spilled out a language that Vicente had never heard but guessed was ancient. It would make it all the easier to continue his prayers. He saw the glow emanate from El Malo’s hand and began to seep from the Grimoire like hot tar.
The smell of sulfur assaulted his nostrils. He tried to take a step backward but was halted. A prickling sensation ran down his back. A wall, a field of energy, made the hair on his arms stand up. He, along with Trevor and the other men, were locked in the circle.
The sulfur filled the air and burned his throat and stung his eyes. He heard cries from Trevor and the pull of the chain. The shadow snapped around Trevor’s naked form like twine.
Each shadow cloaked the men’s bodies. The panic rose, and he could feel it burning his skin and suffocating his thoughts. He closed his eyes and tried to say prayers, but all words ceased to form in his mind. Vicente closed his eyes and imagined Gillian’s sugar-skull-colored face. He clung to the image as the darkness choked him.
“Quedar,” he pleaded to his La Muerta before everything went black.
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