I wrote and compiled a “mini collection” over the weekend (short stories for animal lovers). I was motivated/inspired by the (horrors of the) exotic skins trade.
“Laer” [the dark elf from the upcoming The Darker Side of Life (Book02 in Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy)] features in the last story of Skins. It covers an incident that occurred in his younger days ;)…
* Free Download (PDF): PDF Download
* More Info: Skins @ jessINK
* I am currently tweaking the chapters — here’s a sample of Book #1 / The Other Side of Life (first 3 pages). This too, isn’t “the final polished” version yet (I like to take my time tweaking things…).
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One-line summary: A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a megacorporation.
Summary: Anya and Leticia are partners-in-crime who steal for a living. Their world turns upside down after a chance encounter with fellow rogue, Ithilnin—the enigmatic leader of an Elven band of thieves.
A scuffle to prove who’s “the better thief” transforms into more than Anya and Ithilnin ever bargained for. They retrieve the missing piece of an ancient poem, before getting caught in the secret dealings of a megacorporation. What they uncover threatens to alter the very essence of not just human life, but the other side as well.
Elven intrigue, cyberpunk action, and a deadly dose of danger come together in The Other Side of Life [Book #1 in the (Cyberpunk) Elven Trilogy].
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cyberpunk / YA with adult crossover appeal
THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE: First Chapter
(First 3 pages, for now / October 2010)
Nin looked up and around the abandoned stone church, in quiet solace and admiration.
There was something distinctly unique about the building—it felt safe.
An old battered wooden cross hung on the wall, and there were a few pews strewn about the interior. The air was cold. The silence, overpowering.
He took out a small piece of paper, which had three letters written on it:
[o], [i], [l].
Two words were scribbled at the bottom: orn . lir . Elven words for ‘tree’ and ‘life.’ The letter ‘i’ was most perplexing. There were too many urban legends swirling about; Nin could never determine what that letter really stood for.
He focused on the slow, steady rhythm of his breathing, allowing himself to immerse in the meditative calm that would naturally come. With a clear mind, maybe he’d notice a clue in one of the letters, staring right back at him…
Nin turned instinctively, to hide behind the nearest pillar, when he heard the sound of fast approaching footsteps.
He kept his eye on one of the cracked, black acrylic posters at the back of the church. Its reflection offered him a glimpse of the scene behind him. Nin watched as two girls entered the building, via the open doorway. All three individuals kept still for a few tense moments, before one of the girls muttered, “C’mon.”
The girls moved lightly and quickly, like thieves in the night. They made their way to the front, stopping just before the old cross.
“Let me see, let me see,” the other girl said, tucking some of her long hair behind her ears. She was barely audible. In fact, she sounded quite out of breath.
“Patience, Leticia…” the first girl said, playfully and slightly condescendingly.
Nin glanced down at the bottom edge of the broad, digital device on his left wrist:
July 16th, 2035 | 16:20:35
He puzzled over the numbers, wondering if the double numbers had any significant meaning. He believed in signs. He had never come across a human in this locale. But that changed today.
ASK and it will be given. SEEK and you will find. Nin read the hot pink and white text, which graced the black poster.
He squinted against the bright light that shone in from the outside, to make sure there was no one else following. He stepped out from his hiding place, without a sound. He looked at the two girls—no distinctly Elven ears—definitely human.
He brought a hand up to his own ears, in reflex. He made sure his razored, medium-length tresses covered the upper portions of his ears, which were slightly pointed—a distinguishing feature that would be a dead giveaway of his identity.
“Beautiful,” the first girl breathed, flicking aside a faded pink streak in her chestnut-colored hair. She gave a low whistle, as she held up what seemed to be an orb filled with glittering bits of diamond pieces. She gave a proud, sideward glance to Leticia.
Just beautiful, Nin’s thoughts echoed. A raw kind of energy seemed to radiate from the dainty-bodied girl with the diamonds. There didn’t seem to be a trace of fear or nervousness in her slight frame. Nin wondered what her name was. He continued to eavesdrop on their conversation, remaining undetected. The girls went on speaking in hushed tones.
“That’s two in a row this week.”
“You brought the other one in?”
Leticia opened a small woven drawstring bag she had with her. Nin couldn’t see what was in it, but both girls were nodding impressively at its contents.
Nin considered letting his guard down—who else would bother with this place? The church was part of a small ghost town situated within a two-mile radius of Zouk City, capital state of Zone One. Brainwashed citizens were too busy toiling away at work, keeping the economy running, to even think about heading out for a stroll. Working and splurging (to offset the drudgery of working at a job one would rather not do—if it weren’t for the money) were the chief aims in life. Nin thought with vague distaste that this was what had become of the glorious Confederation of States.
He moved closer, feeling somewhat anxious. Why are the two girls here? Who are they? Will they run away? Say something?
Nin was looking out for himself too. Humans can be dangerous. Anyone who observes the species knows that.
The one called Leticia tilted her head down towards the floor, and smoothed the surface of her small bag.
“How much are we getting for the diamond orb?” she asked her friend coyly, as she twirled one of the strands of her luxurious black hair.
She turned to face the doorway when a raven flew in, its broad wingspan a silhouette against the column of stained glass. She gasped when she saw Nin’s majestically tall, lean figure. His pristine white hair added to his ethereal look.
The girl with the faded pink streak—Anya—jumped back when she saw Nin. The orb slipped from her hands as she did so. Her heart was in her throat. This was highly unusual, someone else sneaking around. It was what she and Leticia did, for a living.
Nin dashed a couple of steps forward and put a leg out, balancing the orb on his foot, just before it hit the ground. He deftly kicked the orb up to his hand. It required minimal effort for him to do so.
“Yours, I believe?” Nin said to Anya, with a slight bow. He held the dazzling diamond sphere out to the girls. Nin was a punk by Elven standards, but good manners were something he had never quite shaken off.
Anya was staring straight at him, blankly yet intensely. Nin noticed the warm shade of brown in her eyes, which was quite different from his own dusky-violet ones.
Her fingers lightly grazed across his palm when she took the orb back. The other girl was staring at his shiny, black leather boot.
Elves don’t make a sound with their footsteps, if they don’t want to, Nin said to himself, stifling a chuckle.
Neither of the girls seemed to be the sort who thrived on social interactions. At least, not on first impression. They were dressed quite plainly, in black jeans and gray jackets, without tons of make-up or piercings. They looked slightly scruffy and disheveled, and like their hair had gotten blown around a bit in the wind.
Still, Nin believed there was a reason for this chance encounter. He decided to err on the side of intuition. “I’m Nin.”