All posts by ka1spriggs

Kal Spriggs is a science fiction and fantasy author. His website is kalspriggs.com He is an avid reader of books, enjoys gaming, and lives in Colorado.

Long Belated Update

Hey everyone. Apologies for the long delay in posts. A lot of my life is dictated by the Army, and I’ve been in a lot of suspense over my next assignment, location, move, etc since early November of 2021, with a number of highs and lows involved.

The drama, anticipation, and effort of finding out where I would be working, where we’d be living, selling our old house, finding a new one, changing my child’s school, and all the other dozens of things that come with moving cross country.

My state of mind while dealing with all that has been focused first on getting my family through it all, closing out my previous assignment, trying to maintain my own sanity, and doing some writing when I could. To add to that, my last job at my last unit was extremely busy and as fun and rewarding as it was, it consumed a lot of my free time with meetings, phone calls, and just time spent thinking about how to get things done, right up until I was passing things over and headed for the door. Posting to the blog, has, along with a dozen other things, taken a back-seat.

We are finally moved into our new home, in the process of unpacking, I’ve started my new assignment with the Army, and, yes, I’ve managed to get some writing done and will have a new book coming out very soon.

I’ve also outlined and started writing up new blog posts, including this one, and have some content coming over the next weeks and months that I hope you all will enjoy.

That’s all for now and thanks for reading!

New Release: For the Love of Death

Death has a crush on a mortal and there will be hell to pay…

Someone or something is killing musicians in a ritualistic fashion.  The FBI is investigating me because my cases dealing with magic and things that mortals aren’t meant to deal with don’t make for clean reports.  My old partner doesn’t trust me any more and my new partner isn’t read in on all the crazy magic stuff.

All that I could take, except my guardian angel is distracted by the killer’s latest target.  It gets worse than that, because that distraction might just be something more.  He’s falling for her, and if I can’t protect her from the killer, he might just Fall for real.  So I’ve got to buckle down and find the killer… for the Love of Death.

https://amzn.to/3BRwYJS

For the Love of Death Snippet 2

Find Snippet 1 here.

In scoping out the bar, I hadn’t even noticed a pair of drunks who’d been snoring in their drinks.  As Amanda went for the jar, the two of them popped up from their table, any pretense of drunken stupor gone, drawing submachine guns from inside their coats.

The bartender had already brought up a saiga shotgun, and I was drawing my pistol aimed at him, even as Sam snatched up a heavy beer mug and threw it hard.

The mug struck the end of the bartender’s shotgun and spun it around just as he squeezed the trigger.  The shotgun blast caught both of the fake-drunks: a heavy slug ripping through the back of the one, out his chest, and into the front of the other, both of them tumbling, opening fire in death with their sub-guns, the roar of gunfire deafening in the small space.

Sam’s hand came down on my shoulder and he spun me around, the world seeming to slow as he let me see a bit of how he perceived the world.

I could see the gunfire from the two dying men scythe into a group at a booth to my side, bullets from the dying men cutting through the three people there.  Any horror I might have felt was stilled by a combination of Sam’s perfect vision and the realization that all three in that booth were armed, weapons falling from their hands as they, too died.

My partner was still in the process of grabbing for the fence who still had the urn or vase or whatever it was clutched in his arms.  At the sound of gunfire, Amanda Ashburn transformed her grab into a dive to the floor.  At the far end of the bar, the two patrons who’d been trying to get the bartender’s attention had drawn weapons, too.  Seriously, is no one in here what they seem to be?

Under other circumstances, I would have gone for cover myself, but Sam’s hand held me in place like an iron bar.  I wasn’t sure if he was simply that confident of protecting me or if he just  wanted me to watch his handiwork.

The two pistoleers at the end of the bar were shooting at Amanda, the bartender, and maybe at me.  Sam didn’t even move, he just smirked at them as the bartender, still spinning from the impact, continued his spin as he fired off the rest of his magazine, one shot blasting the top off a beer tap, spraying both men in the face and throwing their aim off.

The bartender’s third shot caught one of the men in the throat and sent him backwards, while the fourth shot caught the other in the chest.  The bartender’s fifth shot went into a beer keg, blowing the top off and sending the beer tap rocketing back into his face, snapping his head back and dropping him back behind the bar, either dead or unconscious.

Eight people had died in as many seconds or less.  Under other circumstances, I would have been horrified.  With Sam, the only noteworthy thing was that all of these people had been armed and something of a threat to me and that he hadn’t leveled the whole place.

He let go of my shoulder, “You and your partner should leave, now, Ari.  Before things get too wild.”  He said it with a calm cheerful smile, as if he would quite like it for us to stay longer.

I moved.  Amanda had rolled to her feet, protectively clutching the bag of money to her chest with her right hand while she had her gun out with her left.  She didn’t flinch as I rushed over to her and the pair of us sprinted to the door.

On our way out, I shot one glance over to the corner, where the five I had noticed were still seated, watching us.  They’d made no hostile move, but the woman with the spider tattoo watched us leave with cold eyes.

Without knowing why, I could tell that she was sizing us up.  The violence and bloodshed that had just happened didn’t matter to her in the slightest.   The attackers who’d just died were as unimportant to this woman as the lives of insects.

Sam joined us, appearing at my side and falling into step with me as we got out into the street and headed for my car.  “Oh, Ari, the next few days are going to be so much fun…

***

For the Love of Death: Snippet 1

Chapter 1

I knew I was in trouble when death walked into the bar with a big, shit-eating grin.

And boy do I mean that literally.  Samael, the Archangel of Death, stepped into the bar like he knew exactly what was going to happen and that he was going to love every second of it.  I’ll back up a bit by saying that Sam isn’t just the Archangel of Death, the sort-of designated sniper of the preternatural world, but he’s also on a special assignment as my guardian angel.

When I say that, most people would think I was crazy.  It gets worse, believe me, because my guardian’s role is to protect my mortal soul and my physical body, and he’s of the mindset that the best defense is a really good offense.  Most times that meant he settled for killing any humans or preternatural creatures that threatened me in imaginatively gruesome fashions.

But he would do that with a superior smirk, maybe even a jaunty grin.

I don’t know that I’d ever seen him this happy with himself.  Except, just maybe one time, in a distant, dusty mountain range when a couple hundred insurgents had been trying to kill me.

This is bad, this is really bad, I thought to myself.

The first thing I did was look over at my partner.  Special Investigator Amanda Ashburn was seated with the fence we were here in this particular crappy bar to meet.  Under other circumstances, we would have some kind of backup, both of us working for Colorado’s El Paso County Sherriff’s Department.

Unfortunately, we weren’t here on official business.  We had asked one of Amanda’s contacts in the Catholic Church to translate a list of names, they had asked us for a favor in return.  Something had been stolen from a church and a middleman had arranged to get it back.  The fence who had it was jumpy and the Church hadn’t wanted to set a precedent where they rewarded people for stealing from them, so they wanted us to acquire it and turn it over to them.

The fence in question had been looking for exits ever since Amanda sat down at the table with him.  His nervous darting glances had grown more frequent and I’d already had a sinking feeling as this had dragged on longer than a simple transaction should have taken.  Father Terrence, Amanda’s contact with the Church, had given us a substantial quantity of cash to buy the item back.  He hadn’t been too specific on what it was, just a small box, possibly locked, that was the prize.

I hadn’t dared ask what might have happened if someone had already opened the box and taken whatever was inside.  In just the past nine months, I’d seen all kinds of things that normal people would think were impossible.  There might be nothing in the box, the box might be what was valuable, or what was inside might be incredibly dangerous, melt-your-face-off like the Ark of the Covenant from the Indiana Jones movie.  At the time, it had seemed like a simple favor to go and pick it up.

Now I was wondering just how badly I’d screwed up by not asking for more information.

The supposed fence didn’t look like the typical scum-of-the-earth criminal type I would have imagined.  He was young, he wore trendy-looking sunglasses and designer jeans.  He had a gray hoodie up over his head and the sunglasses hid his eyes.  From this angle, I couldn’t get a good look at his face other than in profile in the shadows from his hoodie.

 I scoped out the room, not really certain what I was looking for, but knowing that there was something I’d missed.  The first thing I noticed was that the bartender’s entire demeanor was off.  Not only was he ignoring several patrons, but his attention was in the direction of my partner and the fence, rather than anywhere else.  No, not just there, but also on the far corner.

There was a group seated there, three men and two women.  They hadn’t stood out the first time I scoped out the room.  They looked similar enough to other bar patrons, except as I looked at them, their attention was focused anywhere and everywhere except on the table with my partner and the fence… or on me.  One was one her phone, another was reading a beer list.  The other three were ostensibly casually talking, but they all kept pausing as they talked, as if they weren’t keeping track of the conversation or weren’t focusing.

They were all remarkably fit and healthy for this sort of place, too.  Up north in the Springs, they could have passed for military, maybe, except for the fact that they all sported facial tattoos, which wasn’t allowed.  One of the women had some kind of spider web tattoo that ran up the side of her neck and onto her face with a remarkably life-like spider crawling up onto her cheek.

One of the men seemed to notice me looking at them and he said something in a low tone to the woman on her phone.  She didn’t look up, but I saw her say something in return.

Samael, the Archangel of Death, walked calmly over and sat down across from me, partially blocking my view.  “Ari.”

“Sam,” I tried to lean over to see around him, but in truly typical fashion, he managed to shift and block my view of the suspicious men and women without needing to move at all.  Sam outwardly looked rather plain.  He could have passed for my brother, if I wasn’t a family-less orphan, anyway.  To me he appeared tall, lean, with olive skin, blue eyes, and raven-black hair.  He looked to be dressed professionally, suit and tie, which should have stood out in a place like this.

I knew from experience that most people would be hard-pressed to realize there was someone at the table with me, and harder pressed to describe what that person looked like.  I also knew that his presence, like most of what he termed the preternatural, would distort electronic recording devices like security cameras and cell phones.

And, when he wanted to, his physical form could shift, despite his apparent size and stature, to be bigger or smaller or, in this case, to block my view of potential threats, just because it amused him.

“You seem happy,” I couldn’t help but begrudge him that.  The past few months had felt like everything and everyone were conspiring to irritate me.

“Some days I enjoy my job more than others,” Sam replied, just as I saw motion over by Amanda.  I looked over to see her set a black canvas duffle bag on the table and the fence reached down below the table and pulled something out of a similar black duffel bag.  His had a symbol of some kind on the side, it looked a bit like some kind of Japanese kanji, though I couldn’t see it well from where I sat.

It wasn’t a box.  At least, it wasn’t like any box I had ever seen.  It was some kind of big clay jar, about eighteen inches tall, maybe eight inches wide at the widest, and tapering at either end.  The fence set it on the table and it seemed to have far more weight than any object that size should, thumping on the table with a echoing thud that penetrated the far corners of the bar.

All conversation ceased.  The entire bar went still and I saw everyone’s attention had gone to the table.  The fence noticed and he scooped the jar back off the table and slid his chair back in a squeak that echoed through the still bar.  Amanda was looking at the jar in with confusion and curiosity.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I muttered.

Sam’s smile widened, “Sometimes, Ari, you can be remarkably perceptive.”  He stood up from his chair, shrugged his shoulders a bit in a motion akin to a boxer preparing for a bout, and his next words made my stomach sink, “And here… we… go…”

Amanda reached out to try and stop the fence and then all hell broke loose.

***

Kal’s October 2021 Update

Hey everyone. Sorry it’s been so long without an update. My computer decided to die on me pretty unexpectedly. I lost a lot of files I’d been working on, unable to recover them, and without a computer to even use for blogging or writing.

Needless to say, my mindset in the aftermath wasn’t all that positive. Losing pages on multiple works-in-progress hit me pretty hard. My normal back-up process didn’t work. The way the computer went down, I couldn’t even access my auto-recover files.

I went from being really engaged and writing every day on multiple products to being stuck and not wanting to write anything. It’s taken me a bit to climb out of that, to rewrite what I lost, but I’m happy to announce that For the Love of Death is completed and I’ll be releasing that on 15 October.

I’m in the process of writing more Children of Valor books, with the current project (re)started and in-progress. My goal is to finish writing it this month. I have a lot of writing to do, so I’m hoping to get at least somewhat caught up.

That’s all for now, I’ll post snippets and the new cover for the latest book here soon. Thanks for reading!

Coming Soon: For the Love of Death

Hey everyone. Sorry for the long delay in updates, but I’m happy to announce that my next book, For the Love of Death, is coming soon! It’s the third book of the Angels of Death series. I’ve got it done, edited, a cover, and all the rest, so check back for more in the next couple of weeks!

I’ve also got some updates for the website and general news and I’ll go into that next week. That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Kal’s (Belated) July 2021 Update

Hey everyone! It’s now late July. The past couple of months have been extremely busy for me, I’ve spent most of it doing not one but two military exercises as part of my day job. It’s been a lot of long days, but now that those are complete, I’ve opened up some more bandwidth to focus on writing once again.

The good news is that I’m prepping the next Angel of Death novel for release, currently looking at the end of August, pending edits, lining up a cover, and all that fun stuff.

Other things I’ve been working has been a general site overhaul. They’re relatively minor changes, just adding pages for some of my series and cleaning things up, with one exception. I’ve added a swag store to the site, with a few items as yet. Feel free to look around and I would love some feedback on the changes (or what readers would like to see).

That’s all for now, more coming over the next few days!

Kal’s May 2021 Update

May the fourth be with you!

It’s May, I’m excited because I’ve got a lot planned to come out over the next few months. I’m working on some website updates (some of which have already taken place), working on two novels, and I’m generally pretty busy. But it’s all good work.

The seventh book of the Shadow Space Chronicles, The Star Engine, is coming on well, I should have it ready to go on time. I just released A Quiet Death, the second Angel of Death book, and I’m outlining the third one, For Love of Death.

I also went back and spent most of an afternoon and evening getting the paperback versions of several of my books (Hidden Valor and In Death’s Shadow being two of them) live on Amazon. With both of them, the issue had been with the covers (user error) and they’re now fully operational.

Moving forward, I’m planning on going back to the release style I used for the Children of Valor series, where I focused on one series and released multiple books in the same series in a row. I plan on releasing 3-5 books in a series before moving on to the next, releasing about every other month. That’s the plan, at least (we will see how it comes to fruition.

My website hasn’t been really updated in four years or so, so expect the homepage to change a bit, addition of a store for merch and signed books, and some other things, all in the near (ish) future.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

New Release: A Quiet Death

A dead man just ran away from his own murder scene.

Six months ago, that would be someone else’s problem.

My name is Ari, and after hellspawned werewolves tried to rip my soul out, I made this sort of thing my problem.  Now I am working the case, well, me, my sharp-shooting partner, and my guardian angel, the Angel of Death.

It’s a case that involves human trafficking, corrupt politicians, necromancy, sorcery, seduction, and a deal with the Devil.  You know, same stuff, different day.

Unfortunately for me, that’s only the beginning, because something evil has escaped onto our world.  I’ve got to take it down, before things get out of hand.  Because if things start to go off track too much, then the thing looking over my shoulder protecting me might go off like a tactical nuke.

But that’s part of life, right?  Who wants to die a quiet death?

A Quiet Death is now available! https://amzn.to/3vvOqzT

A QUiet Death: Snippet 2

Here is the second snippet for A Quiet Death, sequel to In Death’s Shadow:

“What do you think?” I asked as we walked back to Amanda’s car.  “Zombie, wight, vampire?”

“I have no idea,” Amanda drained the last of her coffee.

“You don’t?” I asked in shock.

She opened her door and paused, looking over the roof of the car, “I’ve been doing this for all of three years.  Until a few months ago, the worst I worried about was a fire-lighting dwarf arsonist.  Bodies shouldn’t get up and walk away.  I would think your friend there would have something to do with it.”

We both looked over at Sam.  The literal angel of death.  Archangel, I reminded myself, his name was Samael, which translated to something like “Venom of God.”  “You’ve been quiet.”

“You haven’t asked me any questions,” Sam answered.

“If we did, what would you say?” I asked.

“Digging into the kind of thing that can animate a dead body is probably best left alone by your kind,” Sam told me.

“That’s what I figured you’d say,” I growled in reply.  For all that he was assigned to protect me, Samael sure didn’t seem to go out of his way to help.

“Me too,” Amanda noted, climbing into the car and waiting as I folded down into the passenger seat before she started it up.  “I figured he wouldn’t be all that much help.  That’s why I’ve got a little list of people to talk with.”

“Like Father Terrance?” I asked.  The catholic priest had served as a contact before.  From what I understood, he’d coordinated with the church’s militant anti-monster unit, the Peregrinatio Contra Umbram.  He had also helped Amanda back when she’d had her first encounter with the unnatural and helped her cope.

“I’ll talk to him later tonight,” she said.  “I was thinking of someone else, someone a little more on the gray side.”

“Like a CI?” I asked.  There were confidential informants who provided law enforcement all kinds of tips, but I didn’t know if that kind of thing existed for the supernatural.

“Eh, more like a deal broker, but he might be willing to give us some information,” Amanda answered.  She pulled out, slapping her coffee into one of the cup holders even as she accelerated out, throwing me back into the seat.

She had to slow down at the first major intersection as we missed the light.  Like most of the big intersections here in Colorado Springs, this one had four panhandlers, one on each corner.  A ragged-looking man, wearing an ill-fitting set of camouflage pants and a military dress coat had a sign about being a veteran in need.  Having served myself, I would have felt some sympathy if I’d believed him at all.  Nothing about the way he stood or moved looked military.

I gave him a baleful glare as he came up next to our car.  He still jingled his can outside the window, though, as if he didn’t care at all.

“Easy, there,” Amanda seemed to sense my anger.

“Guy there never served,” I growled.  “It pisses me off that he’s lying about military service to get people to feel sorry for him.”  In the minivan behind us, a harried-looking soccer mom brought down her window and passed him some bills.  The grifter gave her a gap-toothed smile and moved along to the next vehicle, shaking his cup.

“Nothing to do about it.  We could arrest him for panhandling, but in case you hadn’t noticed, we’d fill the jail up before lunchtime,” she noted.  “I can’t say I like the fake vets, either.  My older brother was Army and my little brother joined the Marines, after all, but what can we do?”

I didn’t know what to say to that.  There wasn’t anything we could do.  Colorado Springs had laws against panhandling, but there were so many homeless, many of them drug users, that the police would do nothing but arrest people if they did.  The Springs had a number of charitable shelters that helped to get people back on their feet, but the area also had homeless camps that had taken over several of the parks.  There were thousands of people, and this intersection was a pretty good demographic, about half or more claimed to be military veterans, half of them were drug addicts, and more than half were subject to mental illness.

It wasn’t just an eyesore, it had become a public health issue, with the Riverwalk area being contaminated with human waste and discarded drug needles.  That was bad enough, but I’d heard that the unclaimed bodies at the morgue had become a bigger issue, they had hundreds of bodies in storage, corpses from overdoses and the like that nobody wanted and nobody claimed.

The city had asked for more money to deal with that, but for now, they’d pulled in a couple of refrigerated trucks to deal with the excess.  They were parked out right behind the coroner’s office and every time I had to drive past it was a grim reminder.

Sam, of course, seemed to find it amusing.

The light changed and Amanda wove her way through traffic, driving with a single-minded focus and complete disregard for little things like physics and passenger comfort that left me white knuckled.  My guardian didn’t seem fazed, but that didn’t reassure me, either.  He liked living on the edge and he’d as much as admitted that he could, if he wanted, pull me right out of the car, right out of reality if my life was under real threat.

Amanda pulled us up out front of a new-age holistic medicine store in a strip mall, one of the ones with a pot dispensary on one side and a bong shop on the other, two doors down was a sign for a “gentleman’s club.”  “This is your CI?” I asked.  The sign over the shop read The Hidden Hand.

“Sometimes things are more than they appear,” Amanda answered.  “Follow me.”

She didn’t walk straight for the door.  Instead she walked over to the side, squeezing between a no-parking sign and a scraggly-looking dead tree, then walking back towards the door.  The behavior was odd enough that it left me standing there, wondering just what she was doing.

I knew enough not to argue, but I felt pretty silly as I did as she’d done.  “Why did we do that, wards or something?” I asked.  She’d warded her house before, but we hadn’t had to do anything special to get in.

“It’s a path,” Samael growled behind us, “I didn’t know she knew about the pathways.”

“I’m learning,” Amanda shot over her shoulder at him, even as she pushed the door open and stepped into the shop.

“What’s a pathway?” I asked quietly, but Sam didn’t answer.

Stepping into the shop, I felt as if the sounds of the outside world cut off immediately.  The lighting in the store seemed off as well.  Some kind of purple coating on the inside of the windows dimmed the outside sunlight to a dull purple glow and a few scattered lamps gave little pockets of light, leaving the shop with an otherworldly feel.

“This is not a good place for you to be,” Sam growled.

“Afraid we might learn something?” Amanda jeered at him.

“Nothing you can learn here would be good for you,” Sam told her in a deep voice.  I shot him a look and realized with shock that he’d shifted closer to his full form.  His eyes had gone jet black and the air around him seemed to shudder and crackle a bit.

“Ah, customers, welcome,” a friendly voice spoke.

I pulled my eyes away from Sam, and noticed the speaker right away.  He was a tall man, dressed in robes of Middle-Eastern origin.  He wore a keffiyeh, though I didn’t recognize the tribal pattern and the light made it difficult to differentiate the colors.  I suppose even in the light of day I wouldn’t have been surprised if I didn’t recognize the pattern, since most of my experience in that region of the world had been focused on small areas where I’d been deployed.

“Kasah, my partner and I are here to ask you a few questions,” Amanda answered.

He came forward, “Ah, Deputy Ashburn, I hadn’t recognized you in work clothes, normally you wear something more comfortable,” Kasah answered.  He had strange, golden-tinted irises, and his perceptive gaze swept over Amanda and then me.  To my shock, that gaze went to my guardian.  “Powerful one, are you here on business as well?”

Sam’s voice answered in that same deep tone that I could feel in my bones, “Peddler, I am here in my role as guardian.”

“Ah,” Kasah shot me a look, “he must be very important to have so powerful a guardian.”  He smiled at me, “Anything you want in the shop, on the house.”

“I’m good, thanks,” I told him.  I hadn’t really looked around the place and with how Sam’s back was up, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do so.

Kasah’s smile didn’t waver and he looked back at Amanda, “What can I do for you Special Investigator Ashburn?”

“How much does a human body go for in your circles, Kasah?” Amanda’s tone was accusatory.

Her CI blinked, a slow, almost serpent-like motion.  “My shop has no trade in slaves, Deputy.  That sort of thing might draw the wrong attention, no matter how willing the merchandise may be.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what he was talking about.  “No, we’re talking about a dead body,” I blurted, hoping to head off any forays into that kind of topic.

“A corpse?” Kasah smirked.  “There are values to different aspects, of course.”  He moved over to a row of shelves, upon which there were rows of jars.  “Sinistra Kidney, for example, is quite valuable.  Bibitor Liver, hmmm, less so in these times.  Fortem Heart, oh, so very precious…”

“Not pieces, the whole thing,” Amanda snapped.

“A whole body… how very distasteful,” Kasah pulled a silk handkerchief from inside his sleeve and covered his face, as if he were nauseated.  “Unless it were processed, the valuable pieces extracted and prepared, it would not be valuable for sale to my customers at all.”

I thought about the damage that the three-fifty-seven rounds had done to the body, about the blood and bits of tissue splattered all over the floor and walls.  “There wouldn’t be much left of any organs,” I told him.  “Lots of damage to the body.”

“Then I would have little interest for my shop,” Kasah waved his other hand, even as he kept his handkerchief over his mouth and nose.  “Please tell me you did not bring such a thing?”

“A body is missing,” Amanda growled at him.

“What?” Kasah seemed surprised enough that he lowered his hands.  “Missing, as in someone took it?”

“From a crime scene,” Amanda went on.  “And missing as in a witness says it stood up and jumped out a window.”

“Perhaps this body was not a corpse after all,” Kasah smirked.  “Tell your people they should make certain of such things.”

“They were certain, and there was enough blood that no one would be standing up, much less diving out a window,” Amanda snapped.  “Got anything here that could do that kind of thing?”

Kasah’s gaze flitted to the beaded curtain to the back room and back to us, a motion so quick I barely caught it.  “There is nothing dealing with necromanticrituals in my shop,” he told us.  “And what you’re describing is either dark art of the worst sort or…” he trailed off.

“Or?” I asked.

“Or we’re dealing with something that isn’t human at all, right?” Amanda asked.

Kasah gave a slight nod.

“If you’re not dealing in that kind of thing, it doesn’t mean your customers aren’t,” Amanda said after a moment.  “I’ll need a list.”

“I can’t give out a list of my shop’s customers,” Kasah shook his head.  “They would never trust me again!  Half of my dealings are built upon trust and discretion!”

“And bodies don’t get up and run about on their own.  This is bad, Kasah, it was a normal person who saw this.  If this happens elsewhere, it could draw attention.  We could get a panic,” Amanda gestured out the purple-tinted windows.  “We get large numbers of people seeing things, it will draw official attention… you know, like the fellows that came to town a few months ago?”

Kasah hissed, “The Peregrinatio Contra Umbram.  I don’t want them poking their heads in this.”  There was venom in his voice, hate and… fear?

“I warned you when they came to town last time, Kasah.  But if you don’t give me what I need to move forward on my own, I’ll have no choice but to talk to them to see what they know, and they’re not going to draw any lines between the gray and the black.”

Kasah brought his handkerchief up and covered his face, “Fine,” he spat.  “I’ll get you your names, but don’t tell them where you got them.”  He went into the back of the shop, sending his bead curtain rattling.

***

A Quiet Death comes out 30 April 2021!