Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wicked After Dark Blog Hop

Hello, fellow blog hoppers. I assume you've “hopped" here as a result of the “Wicked After Dark Halloween Blog Hop," put on by Nikki from Close Encounters With The Night Kind, and her co-host Natasha Blackthorne!  Many thanks!  :)

After my short commentary about Halloween, there will be details on how to win the entire ecopy set of my "Guardian of the Seventh Realm" series (all five ebooks!). 

...but for now, lets talk about Halloween!

I often wonder about the mythologies of Mankind. For instance, how exactly did the tales and literature come about? Man’s imagination is definitely a key element among many, but I highly doubt that every “mythology” from the past is pure fantasy.

Personally, I believe mythologies contain a lot of Truth--more than just imagination or stories told for symbolism only. Take for example the stories about "Giants," such as the Nephilim from the Old Testament of Judeo-Christianity, or the Cyclops in Greek and Roman mythologies; and even the possibility of Mermaids, Dragons and Unicorns. What if these creatures once existed?  If so, I gather their biological make-up could be explained in a scientific manner. Sounds crazy, I know, but I like thinking about it.

You're probably thinking, "What's that got to do with Halloween?"  Frankly, nothing, but it asks the question: what kind of creatures does the Universe really contain, besides what we know about on earth?

In a sense, the point to my introduction was this: (quoting from the all wonderful Wikapedia):  "Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while 'some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning "summer's end." '  Samhain was the first and the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish calendar and, falling on the last day of autumn, it was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead.  There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on Samhain eve. To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice. In the Western Isles of Scotland the Sluagh or fairy host was regarded as composed of the souls of the dead flying through the air, and the feast of the dead at Hallowe'en was likewise the festival of the fairies."

Halloween also has some Christian roots in it, but...I'm not writing a history lesson here.  :)

I've loved Halloween ever since I was a child. I have so many fond memories of the holiday, beginning with Trick or Treating. That feeling one gets when dressing up as something else, you know, disguising yourself for the big journey of the night, collecting "treasures," the treasures obviously being candy! It was exciting to see the other kids' costumes as well, or even selfishly think to yourself, "Mine is scarier than his!" And then, after you got home, you'd plop yourself on the couch, feed your face with chocolate, lollipops or candy apples, and turn on the television set to watch "Charlie Brown's the Great Pumpkin," or my personal favorite, "Garfield's Halloween." (The Ghost Pirates still give me the creeps!).

Anyway, now that I'm older I have developed a deeper understanding for Halloween, at least in my own mind. With all the tales behind "All Hallows Eve," and the thinking that goes with it, I often wonder if spiritual activity increases in the U.S. for that one evening.  I do believe we can draw spirits to us--good or bad--by our feelings/emotions and specific beliefs. Without getting into that statement too deeply, I just want to mention that I've read cases where spirits are drawn to certain individuals for their overwhelming presence of love, or dire anger, and even deep sorrow.  Therefore, I also think the energy we create by our thoughts and feelings, when it comes to Halloween, can very well draw out many spirits for that night. Note: when I say spirits, I don't necessarily mean "ghosts," as if to say the spirits of human beings. It could be though, but what I'm talking about are the types of creatures that exist in mythological tales, or creatures that perhaps only exist in a spiritual energy-like state that science cannot measure as of yet. This could include Demons or any particular dark entity, perhaps even entities that we humans are unaware of, but may in fact exist, such as…yes, Vampires!

One of the creepiest books I’ve read on this subject is “Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures from the Darkside,” by author Brad Steiger. In that book there are numerous accounts of unexplained events, accompanied by strange encounters with unknown and, more than likely, non-human (“human” from our understanding) creatures. I think one of the scariest stories is “The Mysterious Lady in Black,” a female entity who draws psychic energy from men who dare approach her as she wanders through the city streets. Supposedly, up until the twentieth century, this female spirit had been going from body to body ever since her unwilling sacrificial death hundreds of years prior. When you actually read this story, and the accounts of the witnesses, let me tell you, this is one creepy arse story! Other such chapters in this book that really make your skin crawl, and that are great to read around this time of the year are “Haunted by the Dybbuk,” “Black-eyed Beings,” Vampires from UFOs, and “Ghosts that Bite.” I HIGHLY recommend this book.

There are so many mysteries in life; the journey makes it incredibly fascinating, and sometimes torturous, because if you're like me, I really want to know whether or not these creatures exist.

Aside from all of this, when it comes to women, Halloween has presently become much sexier. Ever go to an adult Halloween party? The "outfits" women like to dress up in are…dear lord…SMOKING HOT! I just love to see a woman as a sexy witch: black lipstick and violet eye shadow, knee high boots with stiletto heels, a kinky tight little black and purple dress--hey…I just described my wife's outfit from last Halloween!

And let's just hope we do not test the Witch's wrath, otherwise...

What a way to go...  LOL

Just my interesting ramblings about Halloween.

Now, if you'd like the chance to win my epic/dark fantasy series "Guardian of the Seventh Realm" in ecopies, please just follow and comment on my blog, and leave me your email address.  If you're uncomfortable with leaving your email, just send it to me personally at: jwbaccaro@yahoo.com.  But please at least comment.  Winners will be announced November 3rd.

Any "likes" on my facebook fan page would also be highly appreciated.


I will also be giving away a paperback copy of the book I mentioned earlier in my post, "Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures from the Darkside,” by author Brad Steiger.  I think that goes well with the Halloween theme.

To end this blog of mine, I'm going to leave all of you with an excerpt from the third chapter of my first book "Prophecy of the Guardian."  The chapter is titled "The Dream Assassin," and the reason I am sharing the excerpt is because I've received a lot of great feedback on this chapter. There are no spoilers; it's a section most fitting for Halloween:

Excerpt from chapter three of J.W.Baccaro's "Prophecy of the Guardian"

* * * *

Later that night, when Darshun lay in his bed, he kept thinking about the stories Damacoles had shared with him, wondering if any truth dwelled in them. A sacrificial goddess of fire? A mischievous god of theft and murder? Surely such tales were legendary, meant to scare
children into behaving. For it was never a good thing to play with fire, or to prowl the outdoors during the dark hours. No wonder the elders would conjure up such stories.

These thoughts were cut short when Darshun heard nois-es outside his window. They sounded like stones hitting the house and a rustling of leaves. He wondered if Mirloth was there, creeping around stealing belongings, or anything that was "precious" to him. Then came the worst of it yet: a voice, coming from under his bed, whispering—hissing his name twice: "Darshun...Darshun." Then, there was an impish laugh. Darshun closed his eyes, covered his ears and remained still, shaking, sweating—praying it would go away! His fists were clenched so tight he could feel the veins popping out of his fo-rearms. Then, after a while, when the noises had stopped, he felt ridiculous, thinking himself to be a fool. "They are just tales." He laughed. "And I am scaring myself into hearing things. Heh, yes..." Sleep began to take hold, his eyes feeling heavy. "They are tales...that’s all. Just...tales..."
* * * *

A clutter of loud noises outside Darshun’s window awa-kened him. It sounded like colossal boulders rolling across the ground and hitting the side of the house. He lay in bed, trem-bling, not daring to see what it was, remembering the same business earlier in the night. Then the noises stopped, and he heard heavy footsteps trotting away over the fallen leaves. "Someone’s out there." He climbed out of bed and walked to the window, peeped outside and saw nothing. It was pitch black. That’s strange—a few hours ago there was a full moon. There came another crash in the distance, but this time it was crackling, furious, like the stone castle collapsing. Darshun leaped away from the window, sinking to the floor in dark-ness. "What is going on?" he said, panting. "I better wake up Father."

Stepping across the room in shadow, he grabbed a candle off a stand and set it ablaze, then made his way down the short hall and to Mirabel’s room. But when he got there his bed was empty, the blankets lying on the floor. "Ah, Father. Where did you venture off to

Not wanting to be alone, he decided to go outside and look for him; and he hoped he would find his father before whatever else was lurking within the city found
him. He grabbed his sheathe and sword, along with a dagger, slipped into his brown leather ankle boots and cloak, then ventured outside. The darkness was so thick he couldn’t see two feet in front of him. "Where in the world could he be? Perhaps at Uncle Seth’s."

Suddenly there was a scream, a horrible sounding scream, like that of a frightened young girl. It echoed from every di-rection of the city. Then there were crackling noises and a rustling of leaves in the woods, like someone or something running through the brush. Darshun stopped, pulled out the sword. Seconds later the noises went silent and a wet wind came. Lightning flashed, followed by bangs of thunder. "Fa-ther!" he shouted, his voice echoing through the night-shaded city. "Where are you?" A second flash of lightning lit up the sky for a few moments revealing much of Loreladia, and dur-ing this time he saw something that sent chills down his back: about a hundred feet away there was a creature that stood at least eight feet tall. A set of horns rose off its skull like a bull; it had unnaturally long arms, dagger-sized claws, three wide legs—the third extending down where the groin would natu-rally be, a swaying tail, dark red skin and yellow eyes; the eyes were terrifying, glaring at Darshun with hatred. And the stench it carried was indescribable. His heart raced. But when another wave of lightning split the sky, the creature was gone. "Di-did I imagine that?" Suddenly the storm elements struck a tree, bursting it into flames. The fire lit up the surrounding area, and when Darshun turned around he witnessed the crea-ture again, this time standing about ten feet away! Its eyes flashed. He screamed and ran, and the creature chased after him. It moved like a large puppet, unsteady and off balance, probably due to its additional leg, which made the thing all the creepier.

"Help me!" Darshun shouted, but no one came to his aid. He continued to run through the dark city until he reached Uncle Seth’s house, staggering into the yard. He banged on all the doors and all the windows. There came no answer. Every-one seemed to have vanished. Kicking open the back door, he ran into the house and looked around for a candle, blindly touching the small round tables in the living room. Instead he discovered an oil lamp, recently put out, its smell spreading through the house. He ignited it and searched for Seth and Mi-rabel, scurrying through every room, and still they were no-where to be found. Quickly Darshun blew out the wick and stood still, listening to the rain beating down on the house, praying that the creature wouldn’t find him; then he felt a warm liquid hit his face and drip down his cheeks. Curious, he relit the lamp and looked above, witnessing fresh blood that had been splattered completely across the ceiling, along with intestines driven into cracks, dangling to and fro. Darshun screamed, then put a hand over his mouth, realizing his stu-pidity. "Oh no," he whispered.

Suddenly, as though waiting for this precise moment, the creature crashed through the front door, kicking the wood apart, tightly grabbed his arm and tossed him across the room like a doll. He hit the wall and fell to the floor. The creature walked over, its stench unbearable, like a rotten corpse. Adrenaline rushing, Darshun quickly stood up, drew his sword and struck the creature in its left leg, hacking off a chunk of flesh, then ran to the nearest window and jumped through it. He tumbled onto the muddy ground, smashing his jaw and dropping the sword. The creature reached through, grabbed his leg and began to pull him back in. Its claws dug in-to his skin, piercing to the bone, and he screamed in agony. Punching the thing in its face didn’t seem to faze it either, on-ly hurt Darshun’s hands. Then he remembered the dagger he had brought. He took it off his girdle and stabbed the crea-ture’s hand; terribly it roared, saliva shooting out its mouth. It released him. Darshun picked up his sword and ran into the woods as fast as his little legs would take him. He ran and ran until he was a long way off and found a thicket of bushes to hide under. He was soaking wet, and the temperature had dropped so much that his breath now showed. Trying to calm down, he rubbed his sweaty face and wounded leg, which was beginning to swell with severe pain. Soon he would need medical attention. But these thoughts vanished when he heard a crackling of sticks. Something was coming toward him. Dar-shun gripped his sword and remained still. The noises stopped; nothing now except the rain. Perhaps it was an animal?

Suddenly lightning struck a tree near by, and in fear he quickly climbed out of the thicket. The fire burned high, giv-ing off much light, and he knew he had to abandon that area fast. Then, as if things weren’t bad enough, he felt a cold breath on the back of his neck, and shivers of fear ran down his spine. Slowly he turned around, and there the creature stood, face-to-face with him. It grabbed his throat, lifted him off his feet and slammed him against a tree. The face was hideous—cut, mangled as if it had been mutilated, and decaying with disease. Darshun vomited onto it, the vomit dripping down its bloody cheeks.

"My father?" Darshun asked, tired and weary. "Where is my father?" Grinning, the creature pointed up in the trees, and Darshun widened his eyes. Hanging by two ropes tied to their legs were Mirabel and Seth. Their bellies had been torn open and their throats cut, blood oozing like a river. Hideous-ly the creature laughed and rose up its other hand, extending blood stained claws.

After the loss of his loved ones, nothing else mattered, nothing except justice, or perhaps revenge. An uncontrollable desire began to overtake him. Dramatic emotions of hate, love, desperation, and madness surged within, and a sleeping beast began to awaken. "Father...Uncle Seth..." Suddenly, it happened. "
Noooo!!!" he screamed in rage and fury as a red fire exploded around him, blowing the creature off its feet. The fire surrounded Darshun’s entire body. Even his pupils con-sisted of flame. At first, he didn’t understand what was hap-pening; his anger had ignited, awakened or unleashed some-thing inside of him, perhaps lying dormant, and the energy was magnifying. He felt the bodily change in every pore, a sensation within the eyes, a tingling throughout the hair. His body was different—he was different, transformed. The crea-ture, now terrified, desperately ran for its life. Darshun raised both hands, naturally understanding what to do, and shot two streams of blistering red flames out of them. Burning through every tree in their path, the flames struck the creature and disintegrated it. Darshun awoke to yellow light shining all around him. He screamed, crashing his head to and fro, confused, disoriented, unaware of his surroundings, until the light vanished and he saw Mirabel. "Fa-father?" he said.

"Yes, son, it is I. Everything is going to be all right."

"It was a dream...only a dream," he said and collapsed, out of energy; and within moments he fell back to sleep.

Upon seeing the flames many Loreladians rushed over speedily, standing in the middle of the street, gazing upon Mi-rabel’s house, nearly ash. Seth Caelen was there too, having sensed the disturbance in Darshun.

"Good heavens," Mythaen said, running up to Mirabel. "Are you and Dar all right?"

Mirabel glanced over, then fixed his eyes back on Dar-shun. "Fine," he answered.
"What happened?"

"A candle fell."

"A...candle?" he asked, confused. For not only was it highly unlikely for Mirabel to make a mistake like that, but candle fire burns a beautiful orange-yellow, where this fire was a blistering red. "Are you positive?"

"Yes! It was a candle, a molding of wax!" Mirabel said, his words sounding more like a growl. He sighed, and then fi-nished in a calmer tone. "Just an accident started from an old Wizard’s candle. Everything is fine now."

All right, that made a little more sense. He was after all a keeper of magical souvenirs. "Well, if you like, you and Dar can stay at my place tonight," Mythaen offered. "Or perhaps
in the castle?"

"You can stay with me!" Elwin blurted out, wishing to be with Darshun. "Mother won’t mind."

"I appreciate the offer, but I will pass." He picked up Dar-shun and held him in his arms. "The danger has passed; the fire is out. You can all return home now." Quickly he turned to Seth, speaking almost in a whisper. "Accompany me for a short time?"

"Of course."

They walked out of the city and into the woods, abandon-ing the perplexed crowd. Mirabel ventured only a short dis-tance then stopped, setting Darshun down on some soft leaves. Quickly he made a fire.

"That was no candle accident, was it?" Seth asked, though he knew the answer.

"No, it was Darshun. Come here, look! They’re still visi-ble."

Seth gazed and saw claw marks around his neck with trickles of fresh blood. He also saw the wound on Darshun’s leg and shadow-like markings across his face, arms, and chest that were beginning to fade, like ghostly hands releasing their grasp. "Is it possible?"

"Yes. A Dream Assassin attacked him."

"Sorcerer Dream Assassin spells are difficult to achieve. They must have the blood of the one they intend to kill. Dar-shun has either lived in Loreladia since we rescued him or been with you."

"I know, I know. It doesn’t make sense. But whoever cast
the spell must possess a bit of his blood. Someone wants him dead."

"The Northern Cullach?"

"I was thinking the evil ones in command of them. Re-member what Deloth had spoken? That Darshun had to be sa-crificed because he was a creature of the Light, and if he lived, disaster could fall upon them."

"I remember, but what does it mean?"

"Seth, tonight I felt a power within Darshun that even I fear. That is what awoke me earlier. The very house trem-bled. I heard him scream, and fire shot out everywhere. He unlocked his element in his dream, his element of Fire, and at only age twelve, something no Nasharin has ever achieved. His inner power was so strong I could barely contain him. Then I carried him into the street and shielded his fire. Everything within the house was gone, everything except that...golden ball. Somehow it rolled into the street and stopped at Dar-shun’s side, and once again, it was glowing!"

"What are you saying?"

"The Prophecy of the Guardian and the Second Great War could be upon us."

Seth stared at Darshun in amazement, thinking about the signs: the golden ball, the extraordinary power of this boy, the threat of the Dark, Darshun’s dreams and the presence of the Archangel. "Yes, the pieces do add up. Incredible!"

"I am not certain of it; nevertheless, for now I will re-main in the forest and continue to train him. He needs to learn how to control his element and strengthen his mind, lest
another attack come."

"All right. Don’t fret about your house. I’ll build anoth-er."

"Thank you, my friend. And please, until I understand for certain what is going on, do not tell anyone about this."

Seth nodded, and his eyes darkened, taking on a more se-rious approach. "Mirabel, if the prophecy is at hand, then you know what kind of evil shall threaten not only us, but
all of the earth!"

Mirabel sighed. "I know. Our only hope shall be this little Nasharin."