Circle of Nine: Circle of Nine Trilogy 1
Sample of Circle of Nine: Circle of Nine Trilogy 1
What were the words? Sweet Goddess, what were the words?
Death was near.
Panic seized the fleeing woman, and she felt herself lose control of the situation. The words that she might have uttered to control death, to keep the evil shadows at bay, would not come to her scattered mind. Dear Goddess, not like this. Not now.
She ran wildly through the normally serene bushland of the Blue Mountains, glancing frantically about her as she fought her way through, breaking twigs and branches from trees that seemed to malevolently block her flight.
It was twilight. The witching hour, the magical time when it was normally made easier for her to cross worlds. There should still be walkers on these tracks! Where were the tourists when you needed them?
The town of Katoomba was so close, and yet so far. The bushland she knew so well had taken on a staged quality, an air of unreality. She could sense elementals watching from behind trees and shrubs. Their breaths hung in the shadows.
A faint odour of shit and rotten flesh wafted to her and she moaned. The pack was gaining on her. What were the words? Old Mother, what were the words?
Death was stalking her, gaining pace; giggling as it hunted her down effortlessly. She would not die easily, she thought, as sudden rage flooded through her. She had always fought them, and she would fight until the end. Keep running, Johanna, don’t think.
Her heart was threatening to burst inside her. She was old. She could not keep this pace up for long. She knew that she would welcome the grace of a red lightning strike within her heaving chest. A heart attack would be a far more merciful death than what they had planned for her. Heart stop. Heart stop, she pleaded, but even her own body was betraying her at the end, as it continued to beat feebly.
Her hair had fallen from its bun, her clothes were ripped and torn. She could taste her own fear, her legs were scratched and bleeding from stumbling over rocks and fallen branches. The ground was slippery, for it had been raining lightly all afternoon.
The mountains had begun to whimper quietly, and a heaviness hung in the air. She didn’t want to die, didn’t want to experience pain. A word came to her mind. Eko.
From out of nowhere, a bird flew at her face, screeching. Razor-sharp claws reached for her eyes.
‘Sati!’ she screamed.
Not now. Dreamers, be merciful, there was still too much work to do! I underestimated them, they who should never be underestimated.
She heard the sly giggles of a child in the bush near her, but she paid it no mind as she forced the bird away from her eyes. It was attacking her scalp, and the pain shot through her head as its beak ripped into her skull. Shadows began to rush toward her.
Emma! Sweet Mother, I have to contact Emma, I have to warn her.
She screamed again, as a hot, throbbing desire to live pulsed within her. Blood began to drip from her skull. No, not like this, not in the jaws, in the mouth of evil.
They were so close. She could smell them more strongly behind her. That unmistakable, putrid Solumbi smell. Urine ran down her leg, scalding her, and she knew from the weight of her underwear that she had soiled herself. What were the words?
Silence. The night closed in. As blood obscured her vision, she saw a figure standing in front of her on the bush track and she howled. Hecate was lifting her veil, allowing Johanna to look upon the face of death.
It was her time. She stopped trying to run. Still screaming, she turned to face them. She would run no further. She would die with dignity in the claws of evil. She would die looking into their eyes.
The pack had encircled her, snarling. Now death was so near she could reach out with her hand and touch it. Horribly, the bird was calling to the pack, ordering them to finish her.
She wanted to die with courage, thwart them in their desire to feed on her fear.
She screamed again as the huge beasts reached for her, knocking her small body to the ground in their frenzy. The bird flew at her eyes, ramming its beak into her eye socket. More pain than she would have believed a body could feel.
‘Emma!’ she screamed. The last word that she spoke before they ripped out her throat.
Blackness, hunger, red blood. Growling, snarling, sharing. Divine. Life-force, growls. Dark hunger.
Under the interested, cold stare of the Earth moon, the Stag Man made his way over to the body of Johanna Develle. He sniffed it carefully. They had left nothing. The trail was cold. His great golden hooves trod carefully over her remains, and he blew softly onto her face.
Sleep peacefully, old one.
A faint glow emanated from her body. Her shining was still working within her. It had not yet passed into Emma. If indeed she would ever allow it to pass on. Stubborn, foolish Crossa!
If the old one had chosen a different path . . . but she had ignored every warning, and now lay crumpled and bloody before him.
He began to keen, and the elementals of the bush shyly crept out to pay their respects to the old woman who had been so savagely slain on their turf.
As he held his head back to the night sky, keening, the child’s giggle erupted again, bouncing from every tree, bush and plant in the mountains, and a young child’s voice spoke into the night, soft and baby-like.
‘You can’t stop it. It has begun. We are coming for her.’
Emma Develle is a struggling artist trying to eke out a living in the big city. The violent and apparently supernatural death of her Aunt Johanna begins a strange series of events that will change Emma’s life forever.
Staying in her aunt’s house, Emma is drawn to a mural that seems to change before her eyes. Like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland Emma discovers a doorway to the magical world of Eronth, where ancient goddesses are engaged in a bloody power battle with a clan of fallen angels, the Azephim. These dark angels are intent on charging the sacred Eom crystal, the single source of power for all known worlds. Their possession of this crystal will hurl these worlds into desolation and chaos.
Khartyn the Crone and her apprentice Rosedark are Emma’s guides in Eronth. Wise Khartyn recognises Emma as the prophesied ‘Crossa’, a time traveller with the ability to prevent the Eom crystal from charging. The Azephim are determined to capture and brainwash Emma to use her as a pawn in their evil and destructive game. Emma must use every part of her being to save herself from violent obvlivion.
Circle of Nine is the first book in a spellbinding trilogy that effortlessly blends classical mythology and contemporary gothic fantasy.
Circle of Nine: Circle of Nine Trilogy 1
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Josephine is an award-winning writer in the crime genre. Her story ‘Birthing the Demons’ won the 2001 Scarlet Stiletto, and she has won the Kerry Greenwood Domestic Malice Prize twice, with Hail Mary (2003) and Tadpole (2004).
Although born in Tasmania, Josephine’s early years were spent in Papua New Guinea. She has worked in a range of jobs (including nurse, housemaid, life-drawing model and sales assistant) and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales.
Josephine lives in Sydney, Australia, with her writer partner David Levell and their daughter Daisy.Find out more