Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer
Title: Pocket Full of Tinder (Noon Onyx, Book 4)
Author: Jill Archer
Publisher: Black Willow
Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.
Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…
Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heartbreaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.
When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.
Some things can’t be mended, they can only be mourned…
Creature Feature: Halja’s Demons and BeastsOne of the fun things about writing a dark fantasy series is that I get to create different creatures, beasts, and demons for each book. Many of the characters in my novels are true monsters. But others are harbingers, mentors, tricksters, and lovers.
In honor of Halloween, our darkest holiday, here’s a sampling of demons and beasts from the NOON ONYX SERIES.
FROM DARK LIGHT OF DAY
My hand shook slightly as I held the ball up by its chain to peer at it more closely. There was a demon in there. No matter how small, the thought should have been mildly terrifying. But instead I felt wonderfully intoxicated and numb around the edges, like I’d drank too much wine at a party. I looked for the button but couldn’t find it. I twisted and turned the ball, holding it up to the afternoon light streaming through my dormitory window, and finally found the catch. I pushed it gently with my thumb and the ball sprang open.
Immediately the intoxicated, numb feeling went supernova. Serafina’s signature made me feel like my body had been liquefied and then turned inside out to congeal in the cold. I suddenly craved warmth and this demon was the only source that could satisfy.
I stared at her, hardly able to reconcile her with a lifetime of imagined fears. Haljan myths and legends spoke of brutish beasts hell-bent on fury and destruction. Haljan paintings, bas reliefs, and statuaries also often depicted demons as cruel fiends and vicious monsters. But Serafina didn’t look dangerous. She looked ungainly.
She belched and stretched, glaring at me through two black eyes the size of beads. She was naked but it was no pretty sight. Her body, though diminutive, was bloated as though she’d died in the Lethe and been left too long. Her skin was a grayish, sickly looking green, and she rubbed her distended belly with one clawed hand as she grinned malevolently at me.
FROM FIERY EDGE OF STEEL
They say Curiositas killed Cattus.
But no one really knows.
Curiositas was a fairly youngish demon living in the twelfth century, only a few decades old, when he met the gorgeously supple and fiercely feline demoness Cattus. When he asked her what she most wanted to do on their dates, Cattus kept telling Curiositas, “You don’t want to know.” But Curiositas, being Curiositas, kept at Cattus day and night, although mostly by night, because Cattus was nocturnal. Curiositas, on the other hand, was a day creature, all flecked with gold and shining brilliance. His preferred haunt was the Lethe and the two met at the docks every day at dusk.
Cattus would stare into the great murky depths of the Lethe, searching for any sign of Curiositas. Sometimes her ears would twitch. Sometimes her tail. Sometimes her eyes would grow big as saucers and her haunches would wriggle in anticipation. Curiositas never fully breached the surface of the water. He liked to tease Cattus, as she teased him. He gave her glimpses only of himself: a tiny bit of fin, a stream of bubbles, a patch of orange gold twisting just beneath the surface, sparkling, shimmering, just out of reach.
There’s a romantic version of the story the Hyrkes like to tell. Some nonsense about the two demons being doomed lovers. But that’s not the version I was told, nor is it the version I believe. Unlike the Hyrkes, I don’t have any romantic notions about demons. They’re much worse than Maegesters. Much. And that’s why I know—although I wish I didn’t—what Cattus most wanted to do with Curiositas. And that’s why I believe the version that puts an end to Cattus’ hunger.
Ivy, my Hyrke roommate, never gets my version of the story.
“Ends Cattus’ hunger?” she always asks, frowning and exasperated. “What does that mean? Did
Cattus finally catch Curiositas? Or did Curiositas really kill her?”
And, every time, I always wink and tell her:
“You don’t want to know.”
THE MYRIAD DEMONS
demons who follow the law… and to find the one who isn’t.
Shortly after sunrise, we reached the rim of the gorge. Even though I stood on solid ground and there was no immediate danger of falling into it, my stomach dropped as if I had. The gorge was enormous – a near-vertical drop into a dark chasm hundreds of feet below us. At the bottom, the Acheron River was dry. I knew from the materials in my dossier that the river had been diverted during construction. The plans and specs called for the viaduct to be converted into a dam. Gazing
at the wreckage below, however, I knew the project had once again been set back. Huge stone blocks and other pieces of debris were strewn about the dry riverbed as if they were toy building blocks that had been kicked over by a child with a temper. But it hadn’t been a child. It had been a bomber – one who’d killed almost a hundred people, possibly more.
One who’d possibly killed Ari.
All through the night, I’d managed to ignore my growing panic. Ari was strong and powerful… robust and nearly invincible…
But standing at the edge of Halja’s northern-most ravine, staring down at what looked like an army of ants rather than a rescue party made up of demons and men, I could no longer ignore my feelings. I was afraid. Not of falling into the gorge, but of what I might find at the bottom.
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