John Pritkin

Q and A #63

1. How can two gods be killed back in time and not upset the timeline? Apollo had a lot to do with Cassie’s story. Doesn’t killing him in the past ruin the current timeline?

I’ve gotten several versions of this, so let me see if I can clarify what happened. Two gods died on that battlefield in the 6th century. Let’s look at each of them.

First, Apollo, since you asked about him specifically. Apollo had been flushed into the badlands at the end of Curse the Dawn, a place that is outside any time stream. When Cassie encounters him there, after Jo throws her spirit outside time, he’s already dead. It’s his ghost she encounters, not him. He’s there because everything in CTD already happened.

Think of the Badlands as a room with many doors opening into it. Cassie entered through one marked “6th century”, because that’s where she was when she was pushed outside time. Apollo was already there, having entered through another door marked “Present Day”, or whatever day it was when he died at the end of CTD. They met up in that “room” outside time, then again during the battle, when Cassie opened the door marked “6th century” and let him out. He entered the 6th century then and was killed, but at that point, he’d already done everything leading up to CTD. So nothing in the timeline changed because Apollo’s ghost was destroyed.

Secondly, Ares. He wasn’t in earth’s timeline at all, had never been since Artemis threw him and the other gods out. He had been in the realm of the gods ever since, trying to find a way to get back. And making mischief as best he could from another realm.

He’s still there in this book, waiting for Jo and the fey to open a door through Artemis’ barrier into our world. That door was opened in the sixth century, because it would make his takeover easier since he was coming alone, without an army to back him up, but it could have been anywhere. Ares stepping through the door (or trying to) into the sixth century didn’t change what he’d already done in his timeline to affect Cassie’s story. And because he died still trying to get through that door, he didn’t affect anything here on earth afterwards, either.

But wait, you’ll say. What about that big battle? Wouldn’t something like THAT affect time?

Well, sure, if it hadn’t already been fought. Remember, the reason the fey could tell Jo what to do to bring Ares back was because they’d already tried it. There had been a battle in the 6th century to begin with, only they hadn’t had the final piece of the puzzle. They hadn’t had Caedmon’s staff. That’s what all that running around in Reap the Wind was about: them trying to get the staff and failing. Without it, they still had the battle, not originally knowing that three pieces wouldn’t have enough power to do the job. But they failed to bring through a god and basically got their butts kicked. But in Ride the Storm, they succeeded.

Cassie, therefore, wasn’t changing time by what she did during the battle. She was keeping it from being changed. Originally, the bad guys had lacked one of the pieces of that god-forged suit of armor, and the spell wouldn’t work without all four. She was trying to make sure that they were still missing a piece, even after Nimue ended up with the staff. That was why she wanted Pritkin to steal Excalibur for her, because it was one of the four, and if the other side lost it, the spell wouldn’t work. But she failed, and with all four pieces, the other side was in danger of changing the timeline, because that’s not the way it originally went. So, when she couldn’t stop them one way, she did it another, by utilizing Apollo’s ghost.

So, yes, two gods died in the 6th century. But neither was supposed to be there in the first place, so time was healed. Make sense?

 

2. In Lover´s Knot Marlowe said that the Pythia told him to save Anthony. Will it happen in Cassie #9? I kept waiting for it in RtS.

No. Cassie, as pythia, occasionally gets insight into things, and will tell whichever group in the supernatural community she thinks it will help. This is normal pythia stuff. That story is over, and I wouldn’t want to bore you by rehashing it.

 

3. Will we somehow see Dorina´s attack on Cassie through Dory´s eyes? Or will she have no idea, since Dorina did it? 

 No, Dory doesn’t know that happened.

 

4. Was Ares really destroyed forever by Arthur´s blow, or can he somehow nurture himself (as a ghost, the way Apollo tried to do)?

Ares and Apollo are both very dead.

 

5. Should we worry about long-lasting effects of Pritkin’s starvation diet on his health or power level, or has the fact that he fed on the Pythian power remedied all his problems? If I remember correctly, Artemis was dying due to underfeeding. But she was also much older, much more starved, and not even partially human, so her situation might be a lot different than poor Pritkin’s.

Pritkin may have some issues from having his powers back online, so to speak. But, no, his human half kept him from starving to death. So that’s not going to be one of them.

 

6. Rosier mentioned that back in Middle-Ages, he was going by Myrddin, and yet Morgaine addressed him as Rosier. Was Myrddin his ‘camouflage’, the humble advisor he pretended to be to gain Uther’s favor? Or does Rosier think of himself as having many names, kinda like King Arthur (or even Pritkin!), and Rosier is his demon name?

Rosier has had many names through the years, but Rosier was his first, and is the one he identifies most closely with. Morgaine, of course, sussed out who he really was, while they were together. So that is the name she used.

 

So, those are all the questions I’ve received about RTS that I can answer. If yours wasn’t answered, it was probably because it was asking about future storylines or things that will be discussed in future books. I try really hard to avoid spoilers, because it minimizes other people’s enjoyment of the books. I hope you understand, and I hope you had fun with these Q&As!

Q and A #62

So, this group of questions came in, some of which had a somewhat . . . combative . . . air about them. Since I, of course, love all my readers, I would never even think of answering them in a similar style. So I’ve let Ray do it. He’s from the Dorina Basarab series, but he reads Cassie novels because he has good taste. Warning: He also has a foul mouth. I apologize in advance. He was the only person I could get since he doesn’t have a job right now and . . . I’m sorry.

Okay, take it away, Ray!

1) What happens to Sam and Daisy, are they stuck in the past?

Yeah, sure. ‘Cause leaving Daisy the Crazy in the 6th century couldn’t possibly fuck anything up, right? Cassie borrowed her from her father, and when we borrow something, what do we do? Well, I mean, I usually hide out somewhere and hope people forget about it, ’cause thanks to my asshole ex-master burning down my club, I have, like, negative money right now. And Dory is broker than I am. But, you know. Most people.

2) Why is Cassie able to understand mouthed words with the translation spell now? She was pretty sure she couldn’t before.

Page number. Or a quote. Anything. Not gonna spend two hours looking up a vague reference. I got shit to do here.

3) When Pritkin is cursed in TtS, he seems dead. Cassie says he has no heartbeat or other sign of life. Later we’re told that he is in a sort of stasis, so he can revive when the counter spell is cast. Yet at the end of RtS his beard has grown. Was that since the counter spell?

Sure. Let’s go with that.

4) When P was cursed, Rosier blamed Cassie for getting P killed and grabbed Pritkin’s body. Then Cassie & Caleb were shifted back to Earth. No one knew P would/ could be revived. A few Earth hours later the counter spell was given. It was just hours on Earth, but how long in hell? What had R done with the body?

Rosier kept the body in place while he argued with the demon council over the counter spell. If there was even a chance to revive his son, he wanted it. And he got it, thanks to the council watching Cassie, and seeing something they didn’t expect from the freaking daughter of Artemis.

5) Did Rosier bring P’s body then and give it to Caleb? How likely is that?

Whaddya mean, how likely is that? You bein’ sassy? ‘Cause it sounds like you bein’ sassy. So, okay, smarty pants, what do you think he shoulda done? Let’s look at the options, shall we?

So you’re Rosier. You’re gonna be away for an unknown amount of time, because Cassie is a disaster, so who knows what’s gonna happen on this supposed simple mission back through time. You fear for your life, you really do. But there’s nobody else willing to do this for your kid, so it’s gotta be you. But that leaves Pritkin . . . where, exactly?

Stupid Option #1: You take him back to your court. Only . . . some of your asshole nobles already tried to kill him in the past and probably still want to. They want the head honcho position if they ever manage to off you, so getting rid of this weirdly powerful thing you made while he can’t defend himself? Pie, baby. Delicious, delicious pie.

Pritkin wouldn’t have lasted a day.

Stupid Option #2: Leave the body at your other court in the Shadowland, where plenty of demons would also like to see your kid dead, or drain him of whatever life he has left. Cause, like in stupid option #1, you don’t know who all of Pritkin’s enemies are, do ya? But you know he has them, on the council as well as Joe demon in the street, and without you there watching him, you really think your pansy ass guards are gonna keep a member of council out if they want in? They just killed him once, you gonna trust them after that?

Oh, you are? Well good thing you weren’t calling the shots, huh?

Stupid Option 3: Try to hide him on earth somewhere, or on some other world, without telling anybody. But then, who you gonna get to guard him? I mean, you gotta have a guard, right? A dingo ate a baby once; you gonna leave your baby inside a cave or something and hope nothing eats him? Or you gonna leave him with a guard you aren’t sure you can trust?

Only Smart Option: Give the body into the safekeeping of Pritkin’s good buddy Caleb, who has no reason to hurt him, and who most of your court don’t even know exists. He can hide it out on earth until you get back.

6) I feel like reality changed on us. Now Pritkin was only in a coma? Really?

Really? Really? You talkin’ to me? I SAID, ARE YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?

Anyway, she said it was like a coma. She was making a simile. A comparison. A this-crazy-magic-thing-is-sort-of-like-this-other-thing-we-have-in-reality-so-maybe-it-will-help-you-understand-better. But, hey, fuck her, right? I told her she should stop answering questions, or at least start charging. Like, a buck a question. Or ten bucks for stupid questions. So, she owes me a hundred bucks. Hey, Karen, you owe me a hundred bucks!

7) And what kept him alive for a week?

He wasn’t alive, he wasn’t dead. He was something in between. He was cursed. Kind of like I feel right now.

8) When was the counterspell cast? After Ares was sent back but before the Pythias took his memory?

Ares wasn’t sent back, Ares was destroyed. Dead. Bought the farm. Erased, exterminated, pegged out, wearing a pine overcoat, ashes to ashes, doing the permanent graveyard shift, gone forever, torn apart by his own magic, RIP. And, yeah, as soon as the threat that was going to kill them all, counter spell or no, was dealt with, Cassie told Pritkin to read the freaking paper. Does everything have to be on the page?

9) Why does Rosier only call Pritkin “Emrys,” the name his mother gave him, instead of “Myrrdin,” the name he gave him? Also how did he find out about the name Morgaine gave him if he never met her again after she gave birth to Pritkin and was hustled back to Faerie?

That was explained in the book. Did you read the book? Rosier was furious with Morgaine, and hurting from her supposed death. It affected him more than he expected, ’cause he thought he was a callous motherfucker who’d just been using her, but he’d spent a lotta time teaching her magic, and he’d fallen harder than he’d thought. So then it hit him—really hit him, you know? And only made him angrier, ’cause for a guy who dealt in emotion, he never really learned how to process any. So, yeah, not gonna call the kid by the name his dead mom picked out. But later, after he calmed down, he reconsidered. He actually says this to Cassie.

As for the other, there were a ton of fey with Nimue. Don’t you think one of them might have mentioned it? He was the father, after all. Even the fey would figure he ought to know his son’s name. Geez.

10) My theory for how Mircea figured out Pritkin’s identity: the white and gold paper on the book. White and gold are the colors that all the servants at Rosier’s wore so that says to me they are his “house colors.” Mircea puts it all together after the battle on the carpets with the Allu in Tempt the Stars. Rosier and Pritkin are seen together, the look damn near identical. They talk about Rosier calling the demon council and the Allu ignoring Rosier, a demon lord. Rosier refers to Pritkin as his son at least once in that scene as well. Mircea has knowledge of the battle as we saw in TtS. There could have easily been video and audio feed of it both magical and non. It wouldn’t take much for him to enquire who and what kind of demon Rosier is. Then it all falls into place. Am I remotely on the right track?

No.

Now, if you guys will excuse me, I got a C note to collect.

Just FYI: In case anyone is pissed off at Ray, the lovely lady who sent in these questions saw the answers in advance and thought they were funny. She gave her permission for this post to be made. So there.

Q and A #61

Spoiler warning if you haven’t read Ride the Storm. Although, if you haven’t, why haven’t you? Go, run to the bookstore! Now! Now!

Ahem.

So.

1) Why does Cassie call Pritkin’s smile evil at the end?

Because they’ve been dodging around this thing they have, and there’s no way to really do that anymore. He doesn’t have anything hanging over his head, no parole, no exile, no anything. He can have a life now, for the first time in a century, and she is fair game. It’s on.

2) Gertie! I hate Gertie! Why Gertie?

Gertie would like to remind you that, without her selfless adherence to duty, Cassie would not have had the hellhound to help her in her first big battle (she would never have met it), or the key to what Jo was up to (she never would have figured it out if Gertie hadn’t thrown her in jail), or enough time to eek out a victory in the final battle (Gertie, and the posse she assembled, is what held up Ares for so long). So Gertie helped, even if she didn’t mean to!

3) Did you have a favorite character from the Arthurian legend that you really wanted to bring into Cassieverse?

Morgaine. 😀

4) Does Cassie regret being with Pritkin? She acted a little skittish when he said he remembered everything.

She isn’t skittish, she’s nervous. This is a huge change for her and she hasn’t really had time to absorb that yet. Plus it just seems so strange to have Pritkin back. It’s what she was working toward all this time, but had almost come to believe she would never see. So she almost doesn’t know what to feel here. Also, see question 1. You’d be nervous, too.

5) From Chile, your characters are so beautiful and charming, and the plot is excellent, have you ever think in product a movie or a TV series from Cassie Palmer stories? I’ll love to see that. Excuse me for my bad English.

Your English is very good! And yes, there was a group interested back in 2011, but the cost would have been prohibitive. Magical effects are expensive! I don’t even want to think what Game of Thrones spent on those dragons this year (although it was worth every penny imo). But, yeah, a Cassie Palmer show wouldn’t be cheap.

6) Why is Cassie described as having curly hair in the books but always has straight hair on the covers?

Lol! Because my publishers have an irrational dislike for curly hair! Honestly, that’s kind of the truth. Marketing comes up with this stuff, and decided on a straight haired model, I have no idea why. Personally, I think Cassie’s out of control hair is a good representation for her life right now, but that’s just me.

7) Have you ALWAYS known about Pritkin’s origin from the day you began writing the story (in your mind or on paper), or is that something that formed organically with time?

I always knew the major arc of the story, just not all the connective details. I usually tell people that my writing style is kind of like the old colonial (US) way of making a road. They didn’t have the money to build proper roads everywhere, so they would go through the forest every few years and mark up trees here and there with red paint. Travelers could see the marks and know that they were still going in the right direction. I also have markers I use to keep a story on track, big character/plot points that need to be in there, and which I have to know ahead of time. But all the stuff in between them is organic. I can’t tell you a good story if I know every bit of it already myself. Then I lose interest, as it feels done to me.

8) Will there be a short story/novella to expand on what happened between the defeat of Ares and Cassie waking up at Dante’s? Or will this be explained in the next book?

I’m not sure what you want to know. What would you like to have explained?

9) Okay, I realise this is a super weird question, but I’ve been having a bit of a debate with other fans about how far Pritkin’s sex ban extended. When they said ‘all kinds of sex’, did that include, uh, self-gratification?

No, there was no ban on masturbation. But you have to remember that, to an incubus, and therefore to the incubus part of Pritkin, sex is food. It’s a pathway into another person’s life energy, the same way blood is for a vampire. But you can’t feed from yourself. So masturbation would basically be torture for Pritkin. He’s already starving, he gets set up in anticipation of a meal, and then . . . nothing.

10) My question is about the demon “sex.” It said Pritkin sent all he could back. So does one person end with all of the energy normally or do they have control?

No, it’s normally a mutual feeding, but the incident at the end of RTS wasn’t normal. Pritkin had gone without for so long, and his incubus was so starved, that it generated more power than usual (and it usually generates a lot). It fed on the pythian power and multiplied it, to the point where he couldn’t absorb any more. They were both about to be burnt up if something wasn’t done with it, but Pritkin was too groggy from everything that had happened to him–remember, he’d literally just been reintegrated–that it was up to Cassie to figure out what to do. And she did. 

11) Since Cassie is half goddess does she need to feed that side of her by consuming demon energy, much as Pritkin must feed his demon incubus side? Does it affect her control of the pythian power?

She doesn’t need to, no. There’s no part of her that’s starving as Pritkin’s incubus side was. But she can use it, as her mother did, as demonstrated at the end of RTS. Her heritage was one reason she wasn’t destroyed in that situation, as Pritkin’s wife had been. It’s also why she doesn’t look about sixty right now.

The pythian power usually “uses up” pythias, because of the strain it puts on them. They age faster and die sooner than most magical humans, living lives that are roughly half as long (depending on how much power they use during their tenure in office). But Cassie, other than for being exhausted, has shown no signs of advanced aging, despite using more power in the last few months than most pythias do in a lifetime. So her mother’s genes do come in handy at times.

Q and A #60

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read Ride the Storm, you really want to stay away from this one until you have. Just sayin’.

Also, I have more questions that I didn’t get to include here, because it was getting long. So I’ll do another Q&A next week. If you want to ask anything, get it in by Sunday August 20th. Thanks!


1. What is the meaning of Mircea’s gift at the end of the book and why is Cassie furious at him?

He gave her a copy of La Morte D’Arthur. It’s a book all about Camelot. He also sent it to Pritkin’s room, to make it extra clear that he’s figured out who Pritkin is. He’s basically trading his silence for Cassie’s help with Elena.

2. How did Mircea figure out who Pritkin is?

That was actually on the page in the book. But it’s subtle. I’ll let you have the fun of figuring it out for yourself.

3. After reading RtS I’m very curious about wand lore in the Cassieverse. Like how do you make a wand? How do they work? Can anyone use them or just coven witches? I’d just love to hear more about how they work.

Anyone can make one, but they’re only useful if you happen to be a coven witch. They help to focus and direct free floating magical energy, the “wild magic,” of earth. It’s a system based on fey magic (which uses the elements in much the same way) and wouldn’t help a Circle mage at all.

How to make a wand: first, find a tree that originated in faerie, like the alder or the yew, because they’re better conductors. Then cut a piece down to the size and shape you want. Most people are going to want it long enough that, should the worst happen, you have a little buffer between the end of the wand and your hand. Not that that usually helps all that much . . . .

Anyway, once you have the wand, the witch (or wizard) projects some of their magic through the wood, to the tip, like bait on the end of a fishing line. Magic calls to magic, so it attracts the wild magic in the area, allowing them to piggyback a spell onto it. This allows them to cast very powerful spells without using up a lot of their own magic. It’s why the covens, despite being outnumbered, managed to hold off the Circle for so long. They use only a tiny amount of magic in comparison, because it’s just the seed for the wild magic to glom onto. They thus don’t get tired as easily as the Circle, and can throw a lot more magic into a fight than they themselves are capable of making.

Of course, there is a downside: wild magic is dangerous, and can get out of hand easily if you don’t know what you’re doing. The covens also never developed all the special potions and talismans the Circle uses (which also capture wild magic, but do so slowly and in controlled conditions) because they didn’t think they needed them. They seemed so slow, after all, compared to the thrill of using wild magic. And by the time they figured out that, hey, this stuff is kind of useful in battle, they were well behind the Circle in magical “tech”. They still are. But you really wouldn’t want to duel a coven witch! (Hint: if you ever do, try to kill her fast. She will outlast you).

Anyway, you can also add magic runes to your wand, to help you weave particular types of spells more easily, customizing them as you would put apps on a phone. Or just dress them up to look prettier. But you don’t need all that. A basic wand is just a lightning rod for magic, that’s it.

4) When the Pythias wiped Pritkin’s memory, did they wipe the whole of those few days when he met Cassie or just his memories of Cassie? And when he met her again, back in TtD, did he ever have a sense of déjà vu or feel like maybe he knew her?

He had a few moments of déjà vu, but that was because of what happened in Paris (see Embrace the Night) and Amsterdam (see Reap the Wind). He didn’t remember anything about Cassie in Wales because the pythias wiped everything. They also sent him on a quest for some old spells in Ynys Môn (Anglesea) to keep him occupied for a while. By the time he got back, past Rosier was waiting to take him to hell, so he never got a clear picture of what happened at Caerleon. Just that there was some kind of cataclysm involving the fey that shattered the city. And, by then, Arthur was off battling Saxons, the people were at war along with Arthur or scattered, and then Pritkin himself was gone.

5) At one stage, when Cassie goes back to Wales, she thinks that she wants a holiday on a beach with a hot guy and someone says ‘which one?’, which totally cracked me up, but I was wondering, who actually said that?

Rosier.

6) I noticed that a lot of chapters started with Cassie waking up. Is there any kind of symbolism to that, like maybe ‘waking up’ as a metaphor for having a realisation or an epiphany? Or am I just overthinking things horribly, lol.

By the time we get to Ride the Storm, Cassie is utterly exhausted. By the middle of the book, the Tears aren’t even working anymore to enhance her stamina, because she doesn’t have any stamina. She’s at the end of her rope, and her body is using any and every chance for a rest. Kind of like soldiers on a battlefield can sleep in almost any conditions, because they don’t know when they’ll get a chance again.

7) I keep thinking about the runes Pritkin “paints” on Cassie. If they are not protection runes what are they?

As stated in RTS, they are to help him maintain control. When the incubus magic begins to get out of hand, they put speedbumps or brakes on it. He didn’t want a repeat of what happened with his wife.

8) So, while Cassie was trying to rescue Pritkin’s soul, his body was just hanging around in the present. Was his body in some kind of stasis? I mean, did he need to be fed and stuff?

His body worked as normal, there was just nobody home. The beard he grew while Cassie was running around was testament to that. Think of it like being in a coma, only if Cassie wasn’t successful, he would never have woken up and eventually died.

9) Pritkin said he remembered everything. Will he remember his mother?

Pritkin already knew Morgaine (as an acquaintance, not that she was his mother). Most people didn’t know that, with the exception of a close knit group around Nimue. Pritkin just knew her as the king’s sister with frighteningly powerful magic. Now, he’ll know she was more than that, because the witches told him. But he doesn’t have any memories of being with her as her son to recall (he was too young when she gave him to Rosier).

10) How much time does it take for a book to get to our hands after you’ve started writing?

That depends on my publishers. Sometimes six months, sometimes a year. It just depends on when they have an opening in their schedule.

What other books/novellas can readers look forward to in the near future?

Shadow’s Bane, the fourth Dory novel, is being turned in this month (yay!) As soon as I have a firm pub date, I’ll let you know. The ninth Cassie is up next. I also have part of a Lia novel done, if I ever get a chance to finish it. And then, of course, there’s the Dory novella “Dragon’s Claw” already announced, that I’ll be wedging in there somewhere.

Shitty Beer

Author’s Note: This is an odd little thing, somewhere between a short story and a deleted scene. It started when a reader, Emma Queen, wrote into my page on Facebook to ask “I’m rereading Claimed by Shadow again and I’m curious, how exactly did Pritkin describe Cassie to Mac? I’ve always wondered.” So here’s the answer, plus a little bit more.

“I, for one, like a good cheap beer,” Mac said, tilting his chair back against the wall behind his shop, careful not to let his skin touch the burning brick. The sun had been on it for hours, until finally sliding off to torment some cacti around the corner, assuming the cacti minded. John didn’t know. He found the flora in Nevada as strange as that in some of the hell regions, which was fair considering the average temperature of the place. He wiped some sweat off his temple, before it could roll down the side of his neck, and took a swig from the bottle Mac had provided.

“Water,” he said, because there was no discernible difference.

But Mac didn’t seem to take offense. “It’s not water, it’s beer. It’s just shitty beer.”

“And you drink this why? Have they suddenly stopped paying your pension?”

“Like I’d notice if they did,” Mac said dryly. War mages, especially ex-war mages, were not over paid.

It was probably why his friend had turned a hobby into a second profession. John watched as a painted snake that had been hiding in Mac’s long mustache suddenly dropped out of sight, only to reappear on his chest and upset an eagle tat, which pecked at it savagely. The snake slithered off under Mac’s stringy bicep, and his friend took another swig, as if he hadn’t noticed.

Maybe he hadn’t. He only had about a hundred of the things, magical tats of all types and descriptions, covering his body in colorful perfusion to compensate for his inability to shield. He’d once been a war mage, as spit polished and disciplined as any. But ever since a curse stripped away his shields, and thus his career, he’d been looking more and more like a man with no purpose, doing tats for the magical community and waiting . . .

For what John didn’t know.

Maybe for better beer.

“There’s a liquor store around the corner,” he offered idly. “I could make a run –”

“You’re not listening,” Mac told him, squinting against the sun, which was now behind John’s head. “I like shitty beer.”

“You like shitty beer.”

“Yes.”

“So, if I were to go get, say, a Newcastle, or a Black Sheep, or that damned chocolate stout you used to favor –”

“Then you could drink it yourself.”

“Since when do you champion fizzy, ice cold, tasteless crap?”

“Since I moved to Nevada,” Mac said, shooting him an amused look. “Climate changes a man. A good, strong lager and a warm fire pair up nicely when your bollocks are about to freeze off. But here,” he waved a hand from the heat shimmering off the nearby road to the dry as dust desert, “not so much. I used to laugh at American beers, too, until I realized why they brew them like they do.”

“They brew them?” Pritkin said dourly, and drank his slightly sour soda pop.

“Laugh all you want. But I have learned to appreciate paying a fiver for a six pack, less if I get it on sale. I’ve learned that, sometimes, I want to sit back with some carbonated barley water and watch the sun set, rather than have my taste buds assaulted by hops, or feel like I’m drinking a bottle of syrup with some of the imperial stouts. I’ve learned to appreciate grabbing a shitty beer when I’m out at the bars, because it doesn’t make me feel like a pretentious SOB, and I’m not paying fifty bucks to get drunk.”

“You’ve thought about this,” John said dryly.

“I have.” Mac held up his brew, which had started out ice cold, but was now sweating as much as they were. “I salute you, shitty beer! You serve a purpose, and a damn noble one. Give the people something they can enjoy while doing chores or at a barbeque. Give people something they can share with their friends and not worry about the budget. Give people something they can buy at every grocery store, jiffy stop and gas station to quench their thirst and get a slight buzz. There are better beers, but none dearer to my heart.” He drank deeply.

John sighed and did likewise.

It was still shit.

“So, did you just come by to insult my beer, or is there something else?” Mac asked, while fishing them a chaser out of a cooler filled with ice.

He handed a bottle to John, and the nut brown skin of his hand was hardly discernible against the same-colored dirt. Mac looked like he’d been born here, like he’d risen whole from the baked earth, with cut offs and crow’s feet and long, droopy biker ‘stash instead of Adam’s fig leaf. It was less like he’d gone native than that he’d absorbed the place into his genes.

John grasped the bottle, expecting to see a serious contrast in their skin tones, since he was less than a year out of the London office and a still pasty transplant. Only to notice that a faint tan had started to cling to him as well. Like the desert hues had bled onto his skin, beginning to claim him for its own.

He stared at his hand, suddenly feeling more than slightly off balance. Like the world had tilted, or like he’d blinked and it had changed. Maybe because it had, shattering in a million pieces just this morning, when his life took less of a turn and more of a jack knife. What it would hold now, how the picture would look when all the scattered shards fell into place, he had no idea.

It was a dizzying prospect for someone who had avoided thinking about the future for as long as he had.

He swallowed and took the beer, and looked up to see Mac eyeing him narrowly.

“Anything you care to share?”

“No,” John said hoarsely, and looked around for the opener. Only to realize that Mac had left it inside.

But then, he didn’t need it. John watched as his friend held his own brew up to his shoulder, where a painted jaguar sprang at it, grasping it between its paws and gnawing it enthusiastically. Only to spit the sadly mangled bottle cap into the dirt a moment later, a smug look on its tiny face. John eyed the thing warily, then used the underside of a small table to open his own.

And scowled.

“You know,” Mac told him. “I could wrestle up a soft drink, if you’re really that –”

“It’s not the beer,” John told him, “It’s the girl.”

Mac blinked. “What girl?”

“The one who may be coming by here later.” Or might not, he thought, recalling the sight he’d been left with: a blond falling out of a too tight, sequined bit of nothing sliding into the front seat of a luxury sedan. She’d had a hole in her tights, cobwebs in her hair, and blood on her left knee where she must have skinned it during their morning’s adventures. Yet there’d been a small smirk on her face, because she thought she’d won.

And she had, at least for the moment. She had driven away, leaving him bleeding in the dust, and fuming, because he couldn’t do a damned thing to stop her. Couldn’t even argue, for fear that the two incubus-possessed humans with her might recognize him and say something that gave away his heritage.

And wouldn’t that just help him make his case?

But he’d wanted to. He’d wanted to rage at her, to say that he wasn’t there to hurt her, which should have been obvious since he’d just saved her life! And likely ruined his, because he’d been seen helping a fugitive to escape when he had orders to kill her on sight. As the premier magical authority on earth, the Silver Circle wasn’t used to having its rules thwarted by anyone, much less one of its own. He probably had a bounty on his head by now, too, and plenty of people only too happy to collect, many of whom had never thought a half breed demon spawn belonged as a war mage in the first place.

Well, he likely wasn’t one now, he thought grimly.

“John?” Mac was looking at him over the bottle.

“I . . . put my foot in it this morning,” he said, wincing at the understatement. “There’s a new pythian candidate — have you heard?” Mac shook his head. “You remember that disgraced heir who ran away a few decades ago?”

“Of course. Elizabeth O’Donnell. Front page news for weeks, only they never found her.”

“No. They never did.” And if she was anything like her insane progeny, John could understand why. “She’s deceased, but it seems she had a daughter, and the Senate found her –”

“The vampires?” Mac sat up in his seat, beer forgotten. “You’re telling me they have a pythian acolyte?”

“Not an acolyte; she was never trained. Which is the damned point!” John said, suddenly exploding. He’d been holding his temper all day, never an easy task, and doubly so with that hellion not listening to a damned word he said. And then siccing those three ancient terrors she’d been hanging around with on his friends — his former friends — ah, bollocks!

John drank more shitty beer.

“She’s supposed to show up here later,” he told Mac, who was looking at him expectantly.

“A pythian acolyte is coming here?” Mac abruptly stood up. His dour, jaded ex-partner suddenly looked as flustered as a boy on his first date. Why John didn’t know. The average acolyte — the ones he’d seen, at any rate — were almost silent girls in virginal white who wafted about as if their dainty slippers never touched the polished floors of the Pythian Court. He’d always found them vaguely creepy, and suspected that they practiced their knowing looks in a mirror in order to fluster people.

They’d never flustered him.

If they really had received any visions about his life, they’d have fled screaming when he walked in the door.

“You can relax,” he said dryly. “You’re not likely to meet her.”

“But you said she’s coming –”

“I think she told me that to get rid of me. The Circle has a bounty on her head and she doesn’t trust me, even though I’m the reason they failed to collect! But I’m going to have to track her down somehow. I need her to help me go after Myra, Lady Phemonoe’s heir –”

“What?”

“– who should have been proclaimed pythia already, but there’s reason to believe that she poisoned the Lady –”

“What?”

“– and now she’s fled into faerie and is plotting with our enemies as we speak. Which is why the Circle designated me to go after her — they don’t dare to set foot there, but I have some experience with the place. But not enough, not for something like this, which is why I need you. You have tats that work in faerie, don’t you?”

Mac just looked at him for a minute. “I think I need another beer,” he finally said, sitting back down.

“You have a beer, and I need an answer!”

“In a minute,” Mac said. John had never been able to rush him. “Let me get this straight. Myra, the heir to the Pythian Throne, has gone bad?”

“Yes. And I’ve been sent to bring her back to justice or kill her, and it was made clear that the Circle would prefer the latter.”

“And, at the same time, this other possible heir pops up out of the woodwork as the vampires’ protégé –”

“Yes.”

“– and now the Circle wants her dead, too?”

John made a disgusted sound. “They think it’s better that than she inherit, and we have a vampire-controlled pythia to deal with!”

“Yet you protected her?”

“She’s young,” John said, shifting uncomfortably. And remembering the first time he’d seen her, a little over a week ago. She’d been in another ridiculous outfit, this time a bright yellow happy face tee, which might not have looked so bizarre if she hadn’t been wearing it in the middle of the damned Vampire Senate!

The ruling body for all North American vampires intimidated even senior mages, and that was when they were playing nice. They hadn’t been that day. He’d come in to find her sprawled in the middle of the floor, being menaced by a grim faced relic out of a Victorian nightmare.

And all alone. Just a tiny figure in that ridiculous T-shirt, with no weapons and no one at her back. Yet she’d been defiant. Obviously terrified, yet unbending, staring the embodiment of death itself in the face.

And not blinking.

He looked up to find Mac’s shrewd gaze back on him, and a little smile flirting with the corners of his mouth. “She’s a pawn,” John snapped. “Little better than a child; the vampires are using her. Does she deserve to die for that? And without a trial? The Circle put a bounty on her because of who she is, not what she’s done. Is that who we are now? Is that what we do?”

“No,” Mac said flatly. “We must protect her.”

I must. You must stay out of this. I just need –”

“You can’t do this alone, John,” Mac said stubbornly. “And we’re partners, remember? And war mages –”

“We aren’t anything of the kind,” John said tersely, because this wasn’t the discussion he wanted to have. “They all but ran you out the door, and I’ll be lucky to get away with the same. We’re not anything anymore –”

“We’re war mages. You wouldn’t have done that this morning if you weren’t; I wouldn’t be helping you now if I weren’t.”

“You’ll help me?”

“Did you have any doubt?”

John sighed. No, he hadn’t. But he also had no intention of dragging Mac into this. This was his fight. Mac had already had his, and barely survived. It was enough.

But his friend didn’t seem to think so. “War mages protect the pythia,” he said quietly. “That is who we are. That is what we do.”

“She isn’t pythia yet.”

“And she may never be without our help.”

John shook his head. “And if the Circle finds out? You could be charged as an accessory. I’ll tell them you didn’t know, but –”

“You can tell them any damned thing you want. I’ll tell them that it isn’t about the uniform, or the title. It’s about the job. I took an oath to stand against the tide trying to swamp us, to take everything the other side can throw and hurl it back in their faces. We are the light in the darkness, the circle that hedges the world of men, the guardians –”

“I know the oath.”

“Then I assume this conversation is over.”

Not by a long shot, John didn’t say, because it wouldn’t do any good. Mac was a better man than he was; Mac probably believed the oath and the brain washing that went along with it. The whole velvet robed ceremony, kneeling with swords a-glitter, as if the Circle was some chivalric order out of the middle ages instead of a modern military/police force, with all the backstabbing, deal making and politics of any such group.

Mac had been in it, but never of it. He’d been able to see this person or that one as corrupt, but not the Circle itself, not the Corps he loved. But the Circle had changed, and since it commanded its military wing, the Corps had as well. John couldn’t trust them anymore, not after they decided to murder an innocent girl. Or even a not-so-innocent one. Even Myra deserved a trial, not that she was likely to get one, and the Palmer girl even less so. And the damned thing about it all, the fact that took it from fuck up to farce, was that he didn’t even know that saving her made sense.

If the Circle had gone bad, surely they needed a proper pythia to help root out the rot? But what did they have instead? A possible murderess on the one hand and a . . . John didn’t even know what on the other. He saw the pythian acolytes again: cool, calm, serene, otherworldly. And then he saw her, blond hair falling in her face, sweat on her brow despite the casino’s overpowered air conditioning, grunting and cursing as she crawled down the middle of a deadly hallway, through the only safe zone in the casino’s menacing wards.

Was that a pythia?

Instead of all knowing, she’d looked as confused as he was. Instead of cool and collected, she’d been complaining half the morning and alternating between whimpering and screaming the rest. Instead of otherworldly, she’d been only too human, all panicked blue eyes and swollen lower lip from biting it too often.

Was that who was supposed to take on the corruption in the Circle, to lead the supernatural community, to fight a war?

John didn’t think so. But a look at his friend’s face told him that Mac didn’t share his opinion. For once, it was free of roaming artwork, leaving the thin, un-lined features bare and visible, not that John needed them. The expression blazing in the eyes would have been enough.

For the first time in a while, Mac looked like himself. A war mage and a true believer. John almost envied him.

He wasn’t sure what he believed in anymore.

“The power chooses the pythia,” Mac reminded him. “That’s its job. Ours is keeping her alive long enough for it to decide.”

John nodded tersely. Arguing would be useless, so he wouldn’t. He would get what he needed and get out, before Mac got hurt. He would find this girl, use her to find Myra, and get the truth out of the two of them.

And then they would see.

“Come on,” he said, putting the bottle down in the dirt. “Let’s get to work. I’ll fill you in as we go.”

* * *

John let the door close behind him on its own.

It was dark inside the little pub, and cramped, with a ceiling that brushed his head until he moved down three steep steps onto age-old boards. The steps were an abrupt drop off from the door, a trap that most new comers didn’t see in time, and so ended up sprawled in the floor. It had become almost a rite of passage through the years; John had witnessed dozens of fresh-faced recruits rise stiff and red faced after a spill, including one youthful Archie McAdam, sans mustache and with a head full of ginger hair.

He paused at the spot Mac had fallen, all those hears ago, and recalled how easily he’d played it off. Jumping back to his feet, asking if he had slid farther than anyone. And when he was told no, that that honor belonged to a long ago recruit who had slammed head first into the bar and left a still visible mark, had offered to go back out and try it again.

Mac had immediately fit in around here, at the unofficial war mage pub in Stratford, the home base for the Corps. John never had. And it was particularly foolish for him to be here today, less than twenty four hours after breaking with the Circle, with a bounty on his head and a whole phalanx of allies-turned-enemies on his trail.

Like the ones who swiveled from the bar, long coats swinging out over enough hardware to tear him apart a hundred times over. There were two of them, plus three more at a cramped table under the eaves. And another just coming in from the washroom in back, drying his hands on a paper towel because there was no room for a trash can in there, before stopping on a dime.

And staring.

John didn’t move. He knew them — most of them, anyway — like he knew the bartender. Grizzled Jeroboam, almost two hundred years old and legally blind, who saw through the eyes of the pet hawk on his shoulder. Master and bird were staring at him now, too, like everyone else in the pub, staring but not moving as he stood there for a moment.

And then walked slowly and deliberately across the small space to the back room.

It wasn’t any bigger, but it was brighter, although not because of the lighting. Thousands of small, circular pins studded the walls, the ceiling, and the two sturdy columns helping to hold up the roof, reflecting the light like tiny mirrors. Or like someone had decided to wallpaper the place in silver.

It wasn’t far from the truth.

John walked along the walls, searching. Some of the pins were polished and bright, looking brand new. Others were older, their color dimmed by tarnish and age. Here and there, one was mangled or burnt almost to a crisp, or speckled with something dark that had never been washed away, because that was tradition, too. Another rite of passage, the last one. Like the pub’s name, this was Journey’s End for members of the Corps.

The pins were those given to every new mage in the ceremony of joining. They’d been useful once, to close the cloaks earlier war mages had used to conceal their arsenal. Now they were merely ceremonial, and often tucked away, as Mac’s had been, amidst his medals and commendations, the little velvet box all but forgotten until John broke into his apartment and retrieved it.

That had been foolhardy, too, but he couldn’t trust anyone else to do this. Mac hadn’t been active duty when he died, at least not as far as the Corps was concerned. And this wasn’t a room for mages who had passed after a long retirement, much less those who had gone rogue and defied the Circle. This was a room for heroes, and they wouldn’t have believed Mac qualified.

John knew better.

He finally found a place, a small piece of blank wall at eye level, far in the back. The pin bit into the old waddle and daub easily, sinking into place as if it had always been meant to go there. John stared at it blankly, fingers lingering on the smooth surface.

This was what you did, after a brother died in battle. This was where you brought him, the final act you did for him. John waited, wondering if it was supposed to bring him some measure of peace, some kind of closure.

If so, it wasn’t working.

Mac had sacrificed his life to save their new pythia, and John had thereafter assumed his role as Pythian Protector. He didn’t know what he’d been thinking. He wasn’t a white knight, wasn’t a true believer, wasn’t even a Corpsman anymore, and she . . .

God help them all.

But she had Lady Phemonoe’s blessing, which was something. And more luck than she deserved. And stubbornness, resiliency, a reckless bravery that reminded him terribly of Mac, and an odd vulnerability that he didn’t know what to do with.

John could only hope it would be enough.

He turned around and went back into the bar.

The tableaux hadn’t changed, except that there was now a beer at the end of the battered old counter, the kind he usually drank. John looked at it, and then at the other offerings on tap. And made a different selection.

“You’re sure?” The venerable barkeep kept staring straight ahead as usual, but his creature levelled a wall eye at John.

“I’m sure.”

The pour was made and sat before him, and for the next half hour, he leaned on the bar and drank his shitty beer.

And then left, unmolested.

The End

Q and A #57

Major spoilers for Reap the Wind below. You have been warned!

1) Rosier all but told Cassie that his son’s mother had a fair share of fey blood. Will we learn more about her parentage and maybe even meet some of Pritkin’s extended relations?

I don’t do spoilers normally, but I don’t think it really is one in this case since it was hinted at broadly enough in RTW. Yes, you find out about Pritkin’s mother in RTS.

2) Rhea is Agnes’ daughter, does that mean Agnes had her when she was about 60? I guess since mages get much older than normal humans they probably also stay fertile for longer. Did she only get to look so much older and more frail in recent years because of the poisoning then?

Mages normally live more than double the average human lifespan (roughly 200 years) so sixty to them would not be sixty to us, more like late twenties. And Agnes is never described in the books as looking elderly. She looked middle age because the Pythian office is tough on people. And of course, yes, by the time Cassie meets her she doesn’t look well because she is dying.

3) Little hairy nuggets with big noses… I’m picturing an entire village of Captain Cavemans. Did you make them up or are you describing a known mythical creature?

Forest trolls. They’re a thing. 🙂

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4) What enables Cassie to shift a null? Tami caused problems for her power once, is there a way to dampen that effect?

Nulls exert a passive dampening effect naturally, although they can rein it in somewhat. But the majority of the time, their power is like any other witch’s, except that it works in the reverse. In other words, they have to make an effort to counter major magic, which is what Cassie’s is. But, of course, Cassie had to learn that, which she hadn’t done by Embrace the Night (which is what I’m assuming you’re referring to).

5) We have not seen modern day Pritkin pull any major glamors (1790s was the last I recall). If he could rely on his incubus side again or more, would large scale glamors be back on the table or are they simply not useful in his modern fight repertoire?

They would be very useful. But without his incubus side, they are too expensive magically. What you saw him do in Wales is NOT in the repertoire of the average mage, or even above average ones.

6) Once upon a time there was a question in the Q&A about what Mircea’s thoughts were regarding Pritkin. The answer was something like a nuisance that did the job he was given. Now in RTW Cassie had quite vivid dreams about who she thought was Pritkin, even calling his name once, which I think Mircea couldn’t help but notice. If he knows that another man (who is working closely with her) is starring in her dreams does that change his view of the mage? Would he feel threatened by that or take it in stride. I imagine the answer might be slightly different now than she was then…

I think Mircea made it clear in RTW that he isn’t happy about Pritkin being in Cassie’s service. But, at the moment, Pritkin isn’t there to be a problem. He’s lost, and the vampires would all probably prefer him to stay that way.

Mircea, however, views Pritkin as less of an issue than the consul. She is suspicious of his growing power base, and that includes Cassie. So, as I said recently in another Q&A, that puts Mircea in a difficult position. On the one hand, he’s expected to keep Cassie under control for the senate,
and willing to oblige them as needed. But, on the other, he’s being kept from spending much time with her, and thereby deepening their relationship, both because of legitimate senate needs (like filling their empty seats) and because of the consul’s active opposition. She wants Cassie under control, but under her control, not Mircea’s. And she has reason to know first-hand just how charming he can be if he gets the chance.

7) I was a bit embarrassed when my Romanian colleague told me about her then-boyfriend ‘Mirsha’ and I suddenly saw his name written down (she was showing me something of her phone) and it read: Mircea. Until then I had always pronounced it Mir-tseh-ah/Mir-zee-ah or something like that in my head. So could you maybe write the pronunciation in the Q&A section?

I’ve already done that in a previous q&a. But for anyone who missed it, it’s pronounced Meercha.

8) Will Lia de Croissets ever meet any of the main characters from the books (in the books)? Or is that a spoiler?

That would be a spoiler. However, I can say that you may see Lia in some upcoming novellas.

9) What happened to Bezio after Masks? Will he be mentioned in the books again?

If I get a chance to do Bones, the follow up to Masks, then yes. Otherwise, probably not.

10) The vampire Senate distrusts the Circle and their mages (and there is a whole lot of prejudice and resentment on both sides) but I wonder, what do the vampires, especially Mircea and Marlowe (since he had personal experiences with the Coven back in Britain) think about Coven witches and their magic? I’m not talking about their (political) power, since the Circle doesn’t let them get any, but about the Coven members themselves? Circle mage = unreasonable, manipulating, power-hungry psychos, Coven witch?

Coven witch=irrelevant. The vampires don’t think of them much at all. There’s really no separating the power and the person for vamps. It’s how their whole system is organized. As Mircea told Cassie in RTW, the covens are broken into factions with no common leader like the Circle has, so their power is minimal. And little power to a vampire means you are irrelevant.

Hope that helps! 🙂

Q and A #56

Q&A #56

Some more questions in today. Most are Reap the Wind specific, so please keep it in mind if you haven’t read the book.

1. Just finished reading Reap the Wind and am now over-bubbling with anticipation for Ride the Storm. Reap the Wind was a humongous book!! It was awesomely long!! Which I loved, loved, loved. And the Dory crossover again but from Cassie’s POV – so exciting. Loved it all.

I got to thinking about the powers of the vampires though and was wondering, if one first-level master vampire is the equivalent of a bunch of armies and the power decreases from there depending on what level master you are, the how the heck have the mages managed to fight them off all these years and not let them take over? The poor mages never seem to win any of the battles between them and vampires (or is that just because we see more from the vampires POVs?)

Well, first, because masters are scarce. Like, really scarce. You don’t see that so much in my books, because they are dealing with Mircea’s family and the senate, etc. But there aren’t many masters around at all, which is why Mircea wanted Cassie’s help in building him an army. Mages outnumber vamps, but they really outnumber masters. So, while a mage versus a master vamp would be toast, a mage versus a regular old run of the mill vamp . . . well, that’s a very different thing. Plus, kill enough run of the mill vamps, and you start to cut at their masters’ power base.

And, second, because mages are tricky. They are constantly coming up with new spells, etc. to balance the scales with the senate. And they’ve pretty much done so, at least to the point that neither side is willing to risk war.

2. In comparison to a first-level master, how powerful is modern day Pritkin? He was stopped in one of the earlier books by a bunch of masters when he tried to kill Cassie but there seemed to be a big scuffle before they could restrain him.

Pritkin gave up a huge amount of power when he lost his incubus abilities. But even without them, he was still a very strong war mage, still knew a lot about three different magical systems (demon, fey and human) and had a great deal of knowledge gained from hundreds of years of study and experience. All of which explains why the senate had trouble with him in TTD. Well, that and the fact that they were trying to restrain him without killing him (and thus coming into conflict with the Circle), and without giving anything away about their abilities that he couldn’t already have known. That put the brakes on some things that would have ended that fight really fast.

3. Would he be as powerful as a first-level master if he could use his incubus powers as well as his mage powers?

It would depend on the master.

4. Could he take on a bunch of first-level masters?

Again, which ones? And are they all fighting together? And what do you mean by take on? Immobilizing them, shielding against them, hiding from them would all be pretty easy with his incubus powers restored. You saw him elude an entire battlaion of fey in Reap the Wind, and that’s not easy. Killing them, however . . . well, killing first level masters is crazy difficult, plus most of the ones available are on his side! For those who aren’t . . . let’s say it would be a hell of a fight.

5. Is he secretly more bad-assed than any of them? Will Cassie ever rescue his soul?! Okay, you don’t have to answer that last one.

Lol! He’s certainly far more formidable with his power fully online, so to speak, than with it hobbled. But that’s the thing, and the point Artemis was making to Cassie in their conversation in Tempt the Stars: Pritkin doesn’t really know what he can do/who he is. He’s never had a chance to find out. He shut out the demon side of him early, after his first trip into hell seriously traumatized him, and has never really explored that side of himself since. Just passively, his incubus abilities gave him a good deal of extra strength. But what else can they do? And what can they do combined with the other strains of magic in his genetics? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t really even know much about his ancestry, at this point. So the answer to your question is still up in the air. But one thing is certain: he couldn’t grow or explore with Rosier’s prohibition on him, which basically left him in a state of suspended animation for a century. If it ever gets lifted . . . well, then we’ll have to see. 🙂

Pritkin Cross Stitch Art!

Danielle Burgess just sent in this totally squee-inducing piece of badass art I wanted to share with you guys!

The initial pic, a great Chibi Pritkin by DeviantArt user Pillywiggin . . .

The initial pic, a great Chibi Pritkin by DeviantArt user Pillywiggin . . .

. . . was turned into an even more amazing piece of cross stitch art by Danielle Burgess!

. . . was turned into an even more amazing piece of cross stitch art by Danielle Burgess!

That, my friends, is talent (and awesome taste in literature!) Love it so, so much! Thanks for sending it in, Danielle!

That, my friends, is talent (and awesome taste in literature!) Love it so, so much!

Thanks for sending it in, Danielle!

 

 

Q & A #48

Which was Pritkin’s original name? Because Rosier calls him Emrys and Cassie refer to him in a pair of cases as Myrddin that later got changed in Merlin.

Emrys was the name his mother gave him. So, yes, it was his first.

About the gods, I was wondering if they have a physical body or if they simply assume one when they want, a little like Saleh, and in that case if they can make themselves whatever body they want, or if they have basically a default physical shape, like Rosier. And in both cases, if they can have physical impairments or deformities, since in Greek myths Hephaestus was both ugly and lame and in Norse mythology Odin sacrificed an eye to his quest for knowledge.

First, yes, they have a physical body, a “default shape” which they retain throughout the old legends (Hera is always identifiable as Hera, for example, as is Zeus, Apollo, etc.) But it’s also accepted that they can transform themselves at will. Zeus often did so when he wanted to seduce someone without his wife’s knowledge. And you saw Apollo transformed in my books at the end of Curse the Dawn.

But it takes a lot of power to manifest as a swan or an eagle or a shower of gold! So it is safe to say that Cassie’s mother can no longer transform by the time Cassie meets her. Otherwise, getting away from the Spartoi would have been much easier!

Second, in my universe, the ancient myths were reported and embroidered upon by humans for thousands of years after the gods had left. The core stories, therefore, have to be interpreted (as Jonas noted) in order to be understood. Some things are obviously later add-ons, while others have become mangled over time. So what did Odin’s sacrifice really mean?

He gave up something in return for some kind of knowledge, but what it was and what he received in return is debatable. It was hardly a physical eye (since, if he could transform, he could simply make himself another one). But it could have been something connected with vision—oversight of a particular matter, perhaps? And in return for turning a “blind eye” to someone’s activities, he received some sort of information he would not otherwise have had. So the legend could be metaphorical.

As far as the case of Hephaestus, though, we know that the gods can be injured. You saw this in the case of Apollo, where the Ouroboros left him a shadow of his former self before Cassie and Pritkin faced him. Perhaps Hephaestus was injured, too, and by Hera as the legends say.

Which is stronger, Fae wine or the berries liquor Pritkin, Casanova and Caleb were drinking in the pub in the Shadowland?

Lol! Good question. The answer depends on what you mean by strong. Both will get you very, very drunk. But fey wine will also bring out latent magical abilities, assuming you have them, and can get you in a lot more trouble than the average drunken spree!

The Greek/Norse gods are those Marlowe’s beetle called the Æsir, the lord of battle, right? It’s that how they called themselves? If it’s not spoiler, are we going to see/meet the Vanir or at least know what happened to them?

Yes. They are also mentioned in the books, by the way. Check out the first Dory book, which explains something about them and their relations with the Fey.

If I didn’t misunderstand Louis-Cesare was on the Titanic and I was wondering if he chose to take Dory in that memory or if the memories they passed were random.

In a moment of panic (don’t tell him I said that) and not having had any previous experience with those sorts of mental gymnastics, he took her into another moment of panic from his past. But he got the hang of it shortly thereafter, and took them somewhere he thought they would be able to lose their pursuer. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as he’d planned!

Hi! I loved reading Tempt the Stars: My question is– In the end, Cassie is sacrificing her life to buy time for the witches and kids to get out. She is saved at the last moment by the Demon Council. How are they able to do this if she has gone back in time? Moreover, how can the witches and Rhea, who accompanied her, get back to their time without Cassie? Would there not be 2 sets of past/present witches inhabiting the present moment?

First, as to the witches. Cassie took them out of the present and returned them to the recent past. There were therefore two sets of witches for that time period (about fifteen minutes)–one in Britain and one in Vegas. But after those fifteen minutes were up, there was only the group in Britain. Because the Vegas ones had just gone back in time.

Second, as to the demon council. Cassie had, again, only gone back in time for a short jump (fifteen minutes). She did not jump back to before she met the council. So they were monitoring her at that point, as Adra later admitted. And naturally, suddenly having two Cassies was going to get their attention. They were watching both of them, but specifically the one in London, because she was the one doing something other than sitting on a sofa! Hope that helps.

Q and A #44

1. Do Antony and the Consul ever shoot the breeze together about the good old days? Do they ever reminisce about their children? Along this vein (hehe), do vampires who had children while still human keep tabs on their surviving bloodlines as the years go?

Not really. Most vampires tend to lose track of family after a few centuries, if not before. Your new family takes precedence, and as a young vamp, you have very little chance to do your own thing. By the time you could just take off for personal reasons, your kids are probably dead, along with their kids and possibly another few generations. The only people you would meet would be distant relatives. Who, of course, wouldn’t know you at all.

Anyway, human lives seem so ephemeral in comparison to the ages you have and will live. What is the point? If you’re going to discuss children, it’s normally your immortal ones who dominate the conversation.

2. Was Julius Caesar ever a vampire, in the CP/DB universe?

No. He was dead long before Anthony and Cleo were ever bitten. Plus, god damn, can you see Julius as a vamp? He was bad enough as a human!

3. Did Alphonse know that Sal had turned traitor, or what she was planning to do, in CtD? If so, was he punished by Mircea? What has he been up to?

No, she didn’t tell him. Sal’s opinion of Alphonse’s intellect wasn’t high, and she didn’t trust him. Tony had acquired him for his killing ability, not his smarts. As for what he’s been up to, what would you be up to if you’re a trained killer and your old boss just basically offed your girlfriend?

4. Why did Pritkin and Mircea warn Casanova off Cassie when it’s a hotel full of incubi and vampires? He doesn’t seem to like her much anyway!

But they didn’t know his attitude at the time. And Casanova’s rep had preceded him.

5. Cassie often seems surprised when everyone else wets themselves in fear of Mircea and they seem surprised that she doesn’t fear him at all. This is quite funny and intriguing. Who is right about how dangerous Mircea is?

Everyone else.

6. Why did Louis Caesar only lose his cool in Touch the Dark when Cassie told him how many people they were facing (in the car park) I would have lost my head way before that!

Louis-Cesare would like me to inform you that there must be some misunderstanding. He never loses his cool. Cassie was under considerable stress, and must have misinterpreted his competent, calm and capable reaction to the matter.

7. How did Mircea know about the present Cassie sent Ming de? (lamia skin) I can’t help laughing imagining her face when she got that present.

Presumably, Ming-de mentioned it, possibly in one of their already tense negotiations over the new treaty alliance. Although, with Mircea, you never know, do you?