There Be Demons
by M.K. Theodoratus Genre: Urban Fantasy
After her father remarries, Britt Kelly’s life becomes a cesspit. She lives in her sister’s two-bedroom tenement apartment with her mother, two brothers, and two young nephews. She starts a new high school where she knows no one. And, even when Britt thinks she’s making friends, the church where she studies in is torn down.
Then, the field commanders of The Demon Wars draft her and her friends to aid the four Gargoyle Guardians who fight the demons invading the city of Trebridge. The fate of the city hangs on Britt’s ability to lead and learn enough self-control to manipulate the natural magic of Grace. Meanwhile, she also needs to decide what to do about Cahal, her chemistry lab partner who is as strong as her and may have interests more than just protecting Trebridge.
“There Be Demons” is a continuation of M. K. Theodoratus’ urban fantasy, "Night for the Gargoyles". It tells the tale of Gillen and his team of Gargoyle Guardians as they defend Trebridge while teaching Britt and her friends – the untrained “reinforcements. Along the way, Gillen and Britt learn things about each other to make them stronger both together and alone.
After their stepmother opened the door on the tenth floor, Britt touched her brothers’ shoulders, and they barged in as if expected, just as she told them to do. Manufactured lavender odor, smelling nothing like Granny Nan’s real sachets, rushed out. Britt wrinkled her tickling nose, trying not to sneeze as she entered the living room. To her mind, the apartment smelled worse than the stale cooking of St. Edmund’s hallway. Bet Granny Nan’d groused up a storm about stinking sepulchers if she met the Ice-Bitch.
Cold prickles teased the back of her neck. She stood by the door, unable to move. The colors of living room shifted, and the chemical stink made her queasy. The memory warmed her, giving Britt the confidence to confront her stepmother. She would be as hard-nosed and grumpy as her Granny Nan. No one knows everything she taught me when she was supposed to be taming my temper. Slithering shadows pulsated around her stepmother, but Britt drew a deep breath. Plastering a sicky sweet smile on her face, she said, “Hi, Mrs. Kelly. How are you today?”
The ice queen’s dress clung to her slim hips, and a string of pearls showed in the V of her neckline. Her blond hair swayed when she moved. Britt thought the pearl drops hanging from her earlobes nice, but she couldn’t imagine wearing high heels around the house. Pietra and her mom kicked theirs off as soon as they got in the door.
Her stepmother rubbed her hands down her thighs. “Why are you brats here?” Her voice sank into a menacing register, her words bit cold and precise. “I told you hoodlums never to invade my home again.”
Britt blinked. Mom worked in accounting for this cabrona at the brokerage?
“It’s our visiting day,” answered Carlos, returning the Ice-Bitch's glare with a steady gaze.
Darin nodded his agreement, but he grabbed Britt’s hand and stepped closer to her. Looking down she saw his lower lip tremble.
“We thought we’d save Dad some time and come here,” said Britt. She put an arm around Darin’s slim shoulders. “It’s been ever so long since we’ve seen him.” She grimaced when her voice came out so breathy.
Sitting down, her back straight and hands folded in her lap, her stepmother called “Timothy.”
Carlos stepped back, bumping into an end table.
The Ice Bitch shrieked, “Timothy.”
On the couch opposite, Britt slouched between her brothers on the couch. The condo decor was all cream and polished wood and dark green drapes across a bank of windows. The apartment was so high Britt thought she could reach out and run her fingers through the drifting clouds. Once Britt thought she wanted a posh place like this. Now she wasn’t so sure.
“Timothy Kelly, come here this instant.” Man, does he sound in trouble. Britt shrunk into the sofa as her throat constricted. Not even Mom sounds that mean when she’s ranting.
Timothy Kelly emerged from the back of the apartment and stood in the hallway. His face paled as his gaze darted from his wife to his children and back. “Yes, Elsbet.” His dark hair had a deep widow’s peak just like Granny Nan’s, only his receding hairline made his sharper.
Britt regarded him as he sauntered toward the couches set square in the middle of the room, reminding her where she got her lanky height. He was thinner than she remembered, held himself tighter. His normal salesman-smile grew until it wreathed his face. He brushed a hand through his wavy black hair – what was left of it – and tugged on an ear like Darin did. Britt blinked when she thought she saw a smoky leash around his neck leading to the Ice-Bitch's hand. Maybe he’s working out? Britt stared at the gray tinge under his complexion. I’ll bet he daren’t yell back at her like he did Mom because she has all the real money.
While her father fidgeted three steps from the hallway, she squeezed the twins’ hands as she waited for her stepmother to answer. The weekend slob she grew up with had disappeared. His slacks matched the dark stripe in his sports jacket, and his shirt complemented them in a different shade. Britt hoped the twins noticed how sharp he looked for the next time they argued about dressing up.
As Britt glanced at her stepmother, the light shifted as if the sun had slipped behind a cloud, making the room darker. For a moment, Britt thought her stepmother had turned a murky green, darker than the drapes, and the woman's canines grew long enough to rest outside her lips. Britt’s heart raced as she fought not to show her fear. Don’t be silly. Green skin’s impossible except for frogs
Get the Short Story – Night for the Gargoyles FREE! It was the first story set in Andor and formed the inspiration forThere Be Demons.
Night For the Gargoyles by M.K. Theodoratus
Night for the Gargoyles -- A Story Combining Magic with Reality!
Gillen's dilemma. Who to fight? The Demons overrunning the city or Orvil, the rival lusting for his position.
The four gargoyles guarding Trebridge are outnumbered by a growing number of demons. Gillen, their leader, is caught between fighting Demons and the schemes of Orvil to replace him. He tries patience with the plotting Orvil and asks the Angeli for reinforcements. Will help come in time?
A free short story set in a world where reality plays with magic. Read the short story that inspired There Be Demons!
I'm one of those weird people who have always played with fantasy. Had a pretend friend by the time I was three, play acted elaborate fantasies even after I learned not to talk about them, read comic books, and discovered Oz, A. L. Merritt, Andre Norton, and Fritz Leiber before my teens.
The gears changed to include writing fantasy after the sixth grade. Until then, mysteries ala Nancy Drew were my favorites. Most of my fiction writing has been lost through the years. Must admit, though, I still have the Clue of the Clay Cats, written in the sixth and seventh grade, sitting in some file drawer.
Many fantasy worlds have entertained me since then...but I've only written in two since I started writing again, aka consistently. My main two worlds are Andor where demons prey upon humans and other supernatural events occur and the Marches of the Far Isles. My favorites, though, are my Far Isles Half-Elven, Renna, Mariah, and Kerry, where I explore the political ramifications of genetic drift on a hybrid elf/human population. Unfortunately, my Half-Elven had become a cliche by the time I completed the 600,000+ words moldering in my computer. [Which is okay. I mainly write to amuse myself.]
Currently, live with my old man and two lap-cats in Colorado. The kids have long flown the coop. Some of my favorite authors remain Alexander, Briggs, Belcher, Cooper, Croogon, Pierce, Butcher, Elkins, McCrumb, Gaiman, O'Connell, etc. etc. etc.
Oh, yes, my pubs. I've published shorter fantasy for my Half-Elven, including Troublesome Neighbors and Vengeance. Andor short stories include Night for the Gargoyles [which inspired Andor], Showdown at Crossings [prequel to There Be Demons], Doom Comes for a Sold Soul, and The Ghost in the Closet. The short stories are both free and 99c.
Getting Trapped by a Relentless Question
M. K. Theodoratus
My writer's mind is always amazed by how other writers tame ideas. Ones I know write neat outlines and pound out stories with speed and panache when they sit down to the computer. Even the couple of writers who use pen and legal pads can control their characters and plotlines. Then, there's me, a true pantser.
Ideas control me, like when Britt Kelly appeared as window dressing in a short story I wrote [Night for the Gargoyles]. She walked on, and then, walked off the stage.
The scene refused to leave my mind. A teen with unruly black hair had defused a fight on a soccer field, making Gillen, the protagonist of Night for the Gargoyles, wish he had warriors as brave as Britt to fight invading demons at his side. I kept wondering what might happen when a gargoyle tried to train a bunch of human teens enough Grace [aka magic] to survive fighting demons. More important, how would Britt react? I had this vision of two fists pounding against each other, but had no idea about who Britt was.
When I started writing There Be Demons, I was danged if I knew. All I knew was she lived in the projects across from Gillen's base in a church scheduled for demolition. Soon, I knew her parent's divorce and other bad luck had her living, along with her mother and two brothers, in her sister's two-bedroom apartment on the edge of the worst slums in the city.
Turned out I had another unsold short story [Showdown at Crossings] which gave Britt a background in working magic--her great-grandmother was a Freemage, a magic worker independent of the King's Court which was fighting demons in another part of the country. She was also smart, stubborn, and determined to escape the projects. I had a coming of age story where Britt had to overcome mundane problems such as being a freshman in a new school and a potential boyfriend. The basis of a thousand-and-one teen novels.
Since I write fantasy and the demons were already invading her city, Britt learns that not only do gargoyles exist but she must fight demons if she's to survive. Being headstrong and a teen, of course, she's not going to follow Gillen's rules and regulations. The fun began in earnest and kept me interested until the book was written and edited.
The process is happening again. I have two Andor novels completed, There Be Demons and On the Run. But the ghost of a third -- the Revenge of the Demons or Rendezvous with Demons, featuring the main characters in both novels -- keeps nagging me. Have 28,000 words of "outline" written, the first 50-60% of the book. Had other partials I was going to work on, but I know Britt and Pillar aren't going to rest until I tell their young adult story. Only they won't be finding love. Their loves will be fighting as their anchors against the demons. Of course, Britt and Pillar clash too.
Just think of four young mages living in a two-bedroom garage apartment--along with four mastiff-sized mage dogs and one recovering gargoyle [Gillen]. Somehow, that ménage is going to have to work together to defeat a demon biker gang ruled by the demon prince from On the Run.
Can't wait to begin. But, first I have to get On the Run polished for publication.
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