Excerpt from the upcoming 4th book in the Zackie Stories series SOUL SEEK
Copyright © 2020 by Reyna Favis
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As Nigel rubbed the white grains between his palms, Zackie lay down near his chair and took on an attitude of waiting. “The spirit’s been doing this a long time, and he can spot any inkling of anger or frustration in people. He’ll grab ya and nurture that bad feeling.” Taking a deep breath, he blew the salt off his palms. A blue light merged with his breath and followed the salt crystals as they spun and tumbled, ultimately forming a vortex that anchored to the ground. The whirling blue expanded upward, stretching and reforming until it took on the shape of a man. Like an umbilical cord, a glowing blue thread stretched from the shadowy figure to Nigel’s chest.
As the light coalesced, a well-built young man of middling height emerged. The unsettled air caught his long mane of wavy red hair, causing the strands to dance and sway around the dripping wounds on his shattered skull. His full beard rippled as his misaligned, broken jaw flexed to spit out teeth from his bleeding mouth. Without warning, he charged at Cam and me. His assault was frustrated by an invisible wall that appeared to be circumscribed by the circle of salt surrounding him.
Bouncing backwards, he glared at us and raised a round wooden shield wrapped in leather and strapped to his forearm. Rhythmically slamming the iron spear in his other hand against the wood, he chanted about all the different ways he wanted to kill us. Naked except for the tattoos that painted his body, the man was more than fierce. He was the definition of feral.
Unmoved by this display, Nigel yawned and waved a hand at the spirit. “Cover your parts man, there’s a lady present.”
The spirit chanted louder and beat his buckler with increased fervor. Widening his stance in defiance, he turned to face me, making the stunningly bad assumption that I was the weak link.
“Sweetie, are you cold? You look cold.” I gestured toward his exposed crotch and touched my cheek, feigning a concerned look. “Maybe that spear is too much to live up to.”
The bearded young man choked, eyes widening in shock at my lack of fear…and decorum. By reflex, he lowered his buckler to cover himself. “How dare you, woman!”
Cam huffed a sigh. “I should warn you she dares more than that most days, so watch yourself. Now, tell us who you are before she pulls out a measuring stick.”
“That slattern woman should be beaten with a stick.”
Zackie huffed in amusement, and the man paused, uncertain before continuing.
“I am Domnall, son of Drest.” The young man thrust out his chest as if we were supposed to be impressed. I felt a little bad for belittling his manhood but not enough to muster a maidenly swoon to honor his parentage—especially after he called me a slut.
“And why’d someone beat the stuffing out of you?” Nigel sat back in his chair. Leaning his elbows on the arm rests, he looked ready for a long story.
Domnall’s face reddened, and his lips twisted into a snarl. “I was ambushed by Sigurd Eysteinsson. Sigurd the Mighty,” his voice dripped sarcasm, “took with him twelve men to bring me down.”
Nigel cocked his head. “We-eel, that answers who but not why. So out with it, lad. Why did Sigurd make such an investment in ending your days?”
Domnall raised his chin and smirked. “I had plans to steal Modwen, his daughter and only child. And I would not have needed a sack or rope to get her away. The girl wanted me.”
“Yeah, sure. That’s what they all say.” I crossed my arms. “But let me guess. Her father had already betrothed her to a better man, a man with hu-u-uge—” I paused and dropped my eyes to his hidden crotch “—tracts of land.”
Drawing his legs together, Domnall made a sour face. “I was a suitable husband for Modwen. I had land and wealth. Sigurd would not consider me because—”
The blue thread grew taught and vibrated until it made a buzzing noise. Nigel yanked the thread and shook his head. “Bah! Enough of your lies. You had no riches. Try again.”
The sharp pull on the blue thread caused Domnall to stagger, and he dropped to one knee. Casting a resentful look at Nigel, he regained his feet and walked a tight, frustrated circle in his confines. His lips compressed into a stiff line as if he were holding back the lies. When he finally spoke, he spat out the words. “I had no riches, true enough. But a man has a right to be ambitious. Sigurd had an eye to expand his holdings by marrying off his daughter. Had I lived, I would have gotten Modwen with child, forced the marriage, and claimed her father’s land for my line.”
Cam nodded as if it were perfectly acceptable to use poor Modwen as a pawn in the games of these men. “And you’re angry because your plan was thwarted?”
Domnall stopped his pacing and his face darkened. “Nay, more than that. I was always last to get my due, at the beck and call of men who had more than me. I was as good as any of them, but because of an accident of birth, I had to grovel. I lived and died by their fiat. And I hated it.”
Nigel sighed. “So you want power and authority, yeah?”
Domnall’s eyes were piercing. “I would know how to rule with might and main—better than those lack-brains who reigned over me.”
“And so you jump from host to host, seeking someone who can dominate others? Was that your plan, then?” The corner of Nigel’s mouth hitched up, but his eyes drew down in weariness. “Easy enough to make you jump to me. A wee Glasgow kiss for young Arran and here you are.”
“Aye, here I am. With you. Think about it. If I were not just your prisoner and you would loosen your hold on me, together we could—”
“No, lad. Best you be on your way and cross over.”
Domnall’s mouth hung open in dismay. “But why should I be forced on to the afterlife while that dog Sigurd—” Zackie’s growl stopped his whining. “Your pardon, Ancient One.” Domnall bowed his head and held his breath until the growling subsided. When he began again, his voice quavered and his eyes darted to Zackie, checking to make no missteps. “Why is the whoreson Sigurd allowed to remain? His conduct with the living is far worse.”
This caught my attention and inquiring minds had to know. “Like what? What’s Sigurd been up to?”
Probably thinking this was a reprieve, Domnall was eager to share. Thumping his chest with the hand holding the spear, he began his sales pitch. “I free the living to do as they are wont. I should be thanked for what I do.” When I rolled my eyes at his self-reported heroics, Domnnall’s words faltered. He was lying and he knew it. “I should be rewarded for my…I deserve…” The blue thread buzzed ominously, and Nigel raised an eyebrow. Domnall pursed his lips and changed his tactics. “Sigurd was evil in life and is evil in death. He will kill Máel again if allowed.”
Cam’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean ‘again?’”
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If you enjoyed this excerpt, SOUL SEARCH (Book 1 in the series) is on sale for $0.99 in the US until Nov. 3, 2020. Click the link to get your ebook copy!
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Soul Search, Soul Scent, and Soul Sign, novels of supernatural suspense, have been described as Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas meets Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse. Readers have praised these novels for the very human stories behind the hauntings that create unexpected plot twists, drama, and even moments of humor. The Zackie Stories are available for purchase as ebook, audiobook, and paperback on Amazon and are free on Kindle Unlimited.
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