Thunder roared, and lightning speared down. In its brief flashes, Jemma could see more shadows gathering. They looked like pale Mordsprites, small, bedraggled, skeletal. She lengthened her stride, but the ground was slick and she slipped, slamming face down in black mud. Hauling herself to her feet yet again, she came face to face with one of the shadows.
It was not a Mordsprite at all, but the gray silhouette of a child, a sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed boy of no more than five, his ragged arms reaching out to her through the Mist.
Jemma stood petrified, her heart pounding as he swayed closer, oblivious to the chaos raining down around him. Others closed in behind him, a straggling band of waifs, all moving in the same direction.
“Fast, creepy fun. A bit of The Addams Family, a bit of dark fantasy, and a boatload of monsters and magic make this read a ghoulish delight.” – Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar
About The Flame in the Mist:
INTERVIEW WITH SHADE AGROMOND from THE FLAME IN THE MIST.
I’m sitting at my desk preparing for the interview, when a dark shape sweeps into the room. From the corner of my eye it could easily be mistaken for a storm cloud, except that it has arms and legs. I sense a gaze boring into me. I turn, and there, sitting on my most comfortable chair, is a girl of about fourteen or fifteen. Her black hair hangs like curtains on either side of her face, shadowing it, but somehow her eyes manage to pierce through.
Shade: Well, what is it you want to talk about? It had better not be about Jemma. I’m sick of her.
YABH: No, I want to talk about you, and perhaps a little about your twin, Feo.
Shade: Feo? Why? I have twice his power, and more.
YABH: Oh, I’m sure you do. Your reputation is…well, anyway, thank you for coming today, Shade. And welcome.
Shade: Welcome? I don’t feel welcome. Not when you bring up Feo in the first sentence. And this room is dreadful. Far too small. Not what I’m used to at all. You might at least have found some tapestries to hang about the place so that I’d feel more at home.
YABH: By “home”, in case my readers don’t know, you mean Agromond Castle, right? Tell us a bit about—
Shade: Yes, Agromond Castle! Where else?
YABH: Of course. Silly of me.
Shade: Very silly. I trust your readers aren’t as idiotic. Now, ask your questions. And be quick about it. It’s almost Repast time, and I’m hungry.
YABH: Repast? Some of our readers might not know—
Shade: Repast! Luncheon! Food! Call it what you will.
YABH: Um…right. So. Agromond Castle. It was built by your ancestors, Mordrake and Mordana, hundreds of years ago, wasn’t it? Tell us a bit about them, and why they also created the Mist.
Shade: Ah, Mordana and Mordrake. They were ferocious and beautiful, and knew how best to rule the people, if you can call them that, who infest Anglavia. For they are common dross, I tell you, utter filth, and have no clue what’s good for them. The Mist, as well as…other things, keeps them in their place so they won’t dare think to rebel. Mord forbid they were to have any say in how the country is run. We’d be ruined in no time—but wait a minute, I thought you wanted to talk about me. And yet you make me talk of others!
YABH: Absolutely, I want to talk about you! But first, you mention “other things” to keep the Anglavian population in check. What do you mean by that?
Shade (Her eyes narrowing with suspicion): Why, exactly, do you want to know?
YABH: (feeling foolishly brave): I heard that it has something to do with…with children.
Shade (breathing in through her nostrils and sitting bolt upright): Ha! Is that so? Then you had better take care from whom you pick up such stories, and watch what drivel comes from your mouth.
She tosses her head, and I notice a dark red diamond-shaped birthmark on her face.
Shade: Why are you looking at me like that? You’re looking at my Mark, are you not? At this, this! The Mark of Mord, of my ancestor, Mordrake! Mine is far larger than Feo’s, which is no larger than, than a dung-beetle, and I have worn it proudly my whole life. If you dare think ill of it…(She leans forward, her eyes narrowing again.)
YABH: I…I don’t think ill of it at all. It’s very fetching. It makes you look…interesting. I mean, it’s, it’s vivid and fascinating, and adds to your…dark appeal.
(Shade sits back in her chair, a peculiar smile twisting across her mouth, as if her lips aren’t used to taking such a shape.)
Shade: Dark appeal, you say? I like that. It’s mysterious…Yes. I like that.
YABH (breathing a sigh of relief): Would you tell our readers what the Mark signifies?
Shade: Signifies? Ha! It’s supposedto be the Mark of those who will carry on the work of Mord, and keep Anglavia under our control. But I have come to seriously doubt that it means anything of the sort, for Jemma bears it too, and she has never shown the slightest inclination—
(Shade stops abruptly and presses her lips together in a thin line).
YABH: Yes? You were saying? Jemma has the Mark?
Shade: I told you, I will not talk about her.
YABH: You obviously hate her a lot. Why?
Shade: Why? She’s pathetic, a weakling, and blanches at the mere mention of Mist, that’s why! Oh, she thinks she’s so clever, turning moths into butterflies or dust into sparkles of silver. Sparkles! How childish! Nothing but party tricks. And those rats! Ugh, the vile little urine-colored creatures. You never know when they’re going to appear. She even carries them under her bodice, for Mord’s sake—right next to her skin! It’s disgusting. Disgusting! They’re probably riddled with disease and fleas. And their horrid red eyes, glinting like Mama’s rubies—and those tails! They’re like long worms, the kind that Feo used to eat when he was little, but oh no, they’re much worse! Noodle and Pie, Noodle and Pie…the very names! What made her think them up? A message from her stupid dreams, no doubt. And the way Papa has always favored her—overme, me! Why, the little—
Shade’s Mark has now become dark purple with rage, but she suddenly takes a sharp intake of breath, and appears to calm down, but I hear her teeth grinding.
Shade: You tricked me.
YABH: Who, me? What did I do?
Shade: Into talking about her. You’re just like Papa, with his Jemma, Jemma, Jem-mah! Mord take you!
YABH: Hey, what have you done to my wall? You’ve made a hole in it! How…how did you do that, just by throwing out your hand like that?
Shade: It’s merely a small Dromfell. Not one that would kill you. Though I could, if I wanted to.
YABH: Kill…? Um, well, Shade, it’s been very nice talking to you—
Shade: Not for me, it hasn’t. It’s a good thing for you that I’m hungry and it’s time to leave, else Mord knows what would have become of you.
Shade leaps to her feet and struts out of the room without another word. I’m not at all sorry that she doesn’t even bother to say “Good-bye”.