Ghost Wars Saga
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ghost Watch Publishing
Date of Publication: June 2014
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Hannah Carr
What started out as a routine call led to so much more…
My name is Veronika Kane, and I’m the Captain of the Ghost Watch in the reborn city of Shadow Philadelphia. After we disposed of the city’s previous master and his minions, things were looking up, but in war things are never that easy. A routine call with Detective Frank Cooper blew the cover off of an elaborate scheme to plunge the city of brotherly love into chaos. When Necromancers, Were creatures, and the horrors of Chaos come together it can’t mean anything good.
With new and old enemies joining forces against us, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Lucky for me, my old friend Frank Cooper will be there to lend a hand, along with Brianna, a strong willed were-ferret, and the stormy eyed wizard Nathaniel Carter. I just hope it will be enough to save everyone.
This time, our enemies aren’t just attacking us in Limbo; this time, they are taking the battle to the streets of the living world and its unknowing citizens. If the Old Ones rise, I don’t think there will be anything anyone can do to stop them.
My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.
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Createspace Paperback Version
Jezebel watched the old crone with a mixture of disgust and fear. She had to suppress a growl of anger as the beast that lurked within her reacted to her fear. Two bitches of her pack stood at her sides; both of the tawny haired women were also watching the crone, but they didn’t do nearly as well as she did in suppressing their fear. Their tense bodies vibrated with the desire to flee. Jezebel licked her lips and smiled predatorily as she momentarily pushed the crone from her mind and allowed her beast to feed on her companions’ fear. The beasts within the other two women reacted to her hunger, and their own desire for blood, meat, and violence pushed the fear of their hosts aside. The three women began rubbing up against each other and growls of playful threat filled the Philadelphia night as they psyched themselves up for the coming hunt. After a few minutes, Jezebel forced her mind back to the work at hand. She’d successfully distracted her subordinates who continued to rub their heads against her and grope her curvaceous body with their hands. More than sexual play, the contact allowed the suppressed beast within them to feel and comfort each other. The beasts were always wanting to fraternize with each other, and hyenas in particular needed it or they’d get quite grumpy. When you became a were-hyena, you left your inhibitions behind. This suited Jezebel just fine; she’d been a stripper in Vegas when she’d been offered the chance to become a were-hyena. She didn’t regret her choice for one moment. She had power now: the beast within her was cunning and strong. The move to Philadelphia had presented many opportunities to grow in power, and one of those opportunities was a new ally. That’s what had taken her and her pack mates away from her strip club this night; the crone was her new ally’s avatar of choice for the moment. Judging from the power that the witch could wield, her ally was even more powerful than she’d imagined. At this point, others would be wondering if they’d gotten in over their heads, but not Jezebel. For her, there was no such thing as too much power. For her, the more power her ally had, the more there was for her to gain. It took Jezebel a moment to spot the crone again, but she did so with little difficulty. Her night vision enhanced beast sight enabled her to penetrate the night shrouded city’s darkest shadows. The old witch was tucked deep into an alleyway across the street from where Jezebel and her companions waited. She was surrounded by three menacing figures who towered over her and gave off a dangerous crimson aura that identified them as vampires. The crone stood against them unafraid, having lured them to the very spot that she’d desired. The vampires weren’t the hunters this night, they were the prey. The witch that stood with them was short, maybe five foot two, and was draped in an unflattering robe of mud brown. Her hair was long, unkempt, and white, and her eyes were black and shadowed by bushy white eyebrows. The nose on her face was pointy and looked too long. The crone had called herself Bridget Bishop when she’d presented herself to Jezebel a few days ago. Jezebel had the uneasy feeling that the woman believed herself to be the very Bridget Bishop that had hanged in 1692: the first of the Salem witchcraft trial victims. After working with the woman for a few days, Jezebel wasn’t at all sure that the idea was impossible. The crone was incredibly powerful, she talked funny, and she knew almost nothing about the modern world. The witch made a sharp gesture and two of the vampires went suddenly rigid and unmoving. The third vampire glanced at her two male companions nervously, but her attention was redirected towards the crone who’d tilted her head so that her throat was bared. Jezebel’s enhanced sense of smell caught the scent of fresh blood on the air. She shuddered as her beast suddenly roared to life, and it took all her strength of will to hold the hyena within her back. The vampire who was only a few feet away from that delicious smell was unable to hold herself back though. She lunged at the witch with blinding speed and plunged her fangs into the crone’s neck. Jezebel had to grab her two companions before they could rush into the alley and join the feast. She let her beast roll over them so that she could fully dominate the two lesser bitches and force their beasts back down. The two lesser beasts cowered in fear from her own dominant beast. She growled at them until they crouched low and pawed at her leather clad thighs in submission. Meanwhile, the witch had begun to chant and the alley was beginning to fill with a nasty looking green fog. The blood lust quickly evaporated from all of their beasts as their hackles raised and dread suddenly filled them. Shapes were moving in the fog that now almost totally obscured the alley. A tentacle lashed the air at the border of the fog, and a scream of pure terror rent the night. Jezebel shivered as the air was filled with the sound of cracking and breaking bones and wet meat hitting the ground. The horrific symphony went on for what seemed like hours. The crone chanted the entire time. Jezebel’s beast watched with her in fascinated horror, but she sensed that the other two’s beasts had fled to hide in the deepest holes they could find, leaving their hosts huddled together in terror. Finally, the mists began to clear and the movement of huge unseen monstrosities faded. The witch ended her ritual, and a sudden blast of wind cleared the alley of all evidence of green fog. The alley pavement and all the building walls around it were coated in glistening wet gore, yet the crone and the three vampires stood there apparently unscathed and untouched by the gore that covered everything else. The witch cackled in delight and began walking towards Jezebel. The three vampires followed in her wake. They moved like vampires, all graceful and predatory, but their auras were wrong now: their normal scarlet was now flecked with a corrupting yellow-green. The coppery blood scent that often accompanied vampires was also missing from these transformed creatures. Jezebel’s work with the crone over the past few days had alerted her to the fact that the witch had some way of turning vampires to her master’s service, but tonight’s demonstration was the first time that she’d seen how it was done. For the first time in years, Jezebel wondered if she wasn’t in over her head. Could this be done to her and her people, she wondered. As Bridget Bishop drew closer, Jezebel’s bitches began to whimper fearfully, and she turned on them in fury. She grabbed them both by the hair, and her beast launched its claws into them and pulled their beasts from their hiding places. The beast spirit residing within Jezebel wasn’t able to leave her body completely, but as long as some part of it remained in contact with its host it could act against other spiritual creatures as it did now. “Stop your sniveling,” she commanded with a growl that carried her beast’s scent and power. “You are bone-crusher hyenas. Stand up and stop acting like prey!” The two women rose slowly, drawing heavily upon their pack leader’s strength and courage. By the time the witch reached them, the trio was ready to stand together as a team. Jezebel had no illusions though. She would order a retreat before fighting against such odds as the witch and her three vampires. Hyena’s fight best in large packs, and if the crone or her vampires threatened them, she would retreat and gather the others of her pack. “I see you assessing your situation Jezebel,” the hag chortled as she came to a stop a few paces away. The vampires fanned out around her and regarded Jezebel with cold hunger in their eyes. “Nothing has changed. Our alliance was hammered out by the Black Pharaoh himself. The turning is reserved for our enemies. Fulfill your end of the bargain and you have nothing to fear and much to gain.” Jezebel nodded curtly, angry that the witch had read her so easily. “What now?” she asked. “We leave for Providence immediately,” the witch answered and turned towards the Ford Expedition parked at the curb nearby. “Our little strike team has business with the wizards of the Order.” Although Jezebel was aware of the mission, the idea of going up against the wizards caused a shiver to pass through her. The beast within her reacted by raising its hackles, and a soft growl escaped her lips. All creatures of the night knew better than to tangle with the wizards. Avoiding them was usually the best policy if continued survival was important to you. “Don’t fret girl,” the old crone croaked at her. “The Order has grown weak, and the Old Ones fear them not. My master will trod upon the protectors of humanity.” “I ain’t no damn child!” Jezebel growled; her fear of wizards was forgotten as anger flared up in her. She hated the old witch’s patronizing attitude. “My sisters and I will feast upon the meat of wizards and snap their bones between our jaws this night.” The witch’s answering cackle didn’t do anything to improve Jezebel’s mood. Her beast wanted to snap and crunch the crone’s bones more than it wanted anything else in recent memory. Jezebel suppressed a sigh of frustration as she led her pack mates to the Expedition. She wished she could kill something before embarking on this trip; a little violence prior to getting into the vehicle with the exasperating witch would make the next few hours so much more bearable. Even better would have been some sex mixed in with the violence. There was nothing like fucking and getting ones claws good and bloody while doing it. Her head full of lustful, nightmarish fantasies, Jezebel got behind the wheel of the Expedition and revved the engine. Mors Morta stared at herself in the wall length mirror of her personal bathing chamber. She stood totally naked except for the jewelry that glittered in the chamber’s candlelight. A fire opal gleamed at her throat, dangling from a gold chain. Sapphires dangled from silver earrings, and diamond encrusted bracelets flashed at her wrists and ankles. Her nipples were pierced with blood iron, but her favorite piece was the ruby piercing her clit. She licked her ruby lips, and the diamond that pierced her tongue glinted brightly until her tongue disappeared back into her mouth. She was of average height, but nothing else about her was average. Her hair was raven black; it was long, hanging halfway down her back, and straight. Like her hair, her eyes were also black. Her face was perfectly shaped with perfectly proportional nose, lips, eyes, and chin, and her skin gleamed with perfect health: there were absolutely no blemishes. Her breasts were firm and well sized, not overly large. Her legs, hips, and buttocks were what young women dreamed of when they imagined themselves to be movie stars or models. Mors Morta loved to gaze at herself in the mirror. There was no creature more perfect than herself except perhaps her mother, the Morrigan. Thinking of her mother displeased Mors Morta. Being the second most powerful fae and the second most beautiful woman in the world was just intolerable. Mors Morta banished the thought of her mother from her mind with a shake of her head. There was an unannounced guest waiting for her, and he’d already been made to wait while she bathed. She pondered for a moment what she should wear and finally settled on just shadows. She enjoyed teasing men; it was great sport. Aside from that, she never knew before hand whether she’d take a man to her bed. It always depended on how well they played the game. A shiver of anticipation ran through her as she wondered how well her guest would play. Thraknir had warned her that the stranger exuded a mysterious power far beyond what he’d ever encountered. That was saying a whole lot since Thraknir had served in both her court and her mother’s, and she’d have him flayed if he’d exaggerated the guest’s power. She’d gone to great lengths to prepare herself for the man; he’d better be worth the effort. As Mors Morta departed her bathing chamber, shadows gathered around her and formed into a diaphanous gown that both hid and revealed her most private parts with each movement. Her head was held high, and a small smile played across her features as she passed through her dominion and finally entered the sitting room that she’d decided to use for this audience. The room was dominated by a huge fireplace which blazed with a crackling fire. The red carpet was plush and sensuous on her naked feet. The chairs that dotted the room were elaborately gilded affairs made of rare woods and satin cushions. The walls were adorned with expensive original oil paintings and there were two oak bookshelves stuffed with leather bound tomes. The electric lights of the modern age were off. Mors Morta preferred the light of real fire. As she entered the room, she felt the roiling power that came off of the stranger in waves. She knew immediately that he must be containing that power in order for her not to have sensed it miles away. It said a lot about his control that he could hide it until she was in his direct presence. He was standing near the fireplace and gazing into the fire as she walked in. He was tall, a little over six feet, and his hair was brown and shoulder length. His skin gleamed with health, with no visible blemishes, and was perfectly bronzed as if he’d lived his life in the equatorial regions of the world. His eyes were deep brown and were pools of bottomless knowledge when he fixed them on her. He had an eagle’s nose and his body looked perfect and muscular. Mors Morta was filled with lust for the man as soon as her eyes met his; she would bed him whether he played the game well or not; it would be interesting to see if he could survive the ordeal. Only one man had ever done that. “I am Mors Morta,” she introduced herself to the stranger. Her voice was like an angel’s and powerful compulsions rode upon it. Her shadowy gown moved with each word, revealing her secret places. “Who are you to demand an audience with the heir of the Shadow Court?” “I am The Man with Many Names,” the stranger answered quietly. He seemed to be unfazed by her beauty or the magic she was using on him. “I come to you as the avatar of Azathoth, the Lord of Chaos.” Mors Morta pursed her lips in displeasure. The shadows about her grew thicker and hid her body completely. She’d heard of the Old Cults; they worshiped old gods that supposedly predated the Nephilim. Azathoth was their chief deity. Anyone who worshipped the Old Ones was an enemy of the fae in her opinion. She wanted to banish this Man with Many Names immediately, but his power prevented her from ignoring him outright. He was a real threat. What was he doing in Philadelphia, she wondered. “What do you want?” she asked coldly. “One of your minions interfered with my subjects a few days ago,” he answered without emotion. “I want to negotiate an alliance with you. I can make it worth your while. I can give you your fondest wish. Ally with me and I’ll rid you of your mother and you can ascend to her place.” Mors Morta stared at The Man with Many Names in stunned silence. How could he possibly know what her deepest fantasy was? Visions of herself as the most powerful and beautiful fae in the world flashed before her in a vision that she often daydreamed of.
My Top 10 Favorite Urban Fantasy Characters
1) Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher)
Harry Dresden is Chicago's only wizard private investigator. Dresden is powerful and skilled but is almost always in over his head, facing off against the worst of the worst. He gets his ass kicked on a regular basis, but like Rocky, he endures and wins in the end.
2) Jane Yellowrock (Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter)
Jane Yellowrock is a vampire hunter and a skinwalker. Most of Jane's adventures take place in New Orleans. Faith Hunter does a great job of creating an amazing vampire culture that is on even ground with Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series.
3). Kate Daniels (The Kate Daniels series by Illona Andrews)
Kate Daniels is a bounty hunter and the scion of an ancient evil power. Kate lives in Atlanta in a world where technology and magic are at war. The vampires in this world are unique and the were-pack is well developed. If you like a good love story, you'll find it here with Kate and the king of the beasts.
4) Rachel Morgan (The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison)
This is a terrific series! Rachel is a witch and so much more. A well developed demon culture exists and the vampires are very unique with both living and dead versions. This series also offers up the best ever sidekick in the tiny form of Pixy thief Jenks..
5). Mercy Thompson
Mercedes Thompson is a mechanic and a skinwalking coyote. She is friend to were-wolves, vampires, and the fae and get's in a lot of trouble as a result.
6). Atticus O'Sullivan (The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne)
Atticus is the last living Druid, and he's got a cool sidekick talking dog named Oberon. The awesome in this series is reflected in the third books mission; Atticus, a vampire, a werewolf, and a cadre of old gods sneak into Asgard on a mission to kill Thor...nothing could possibly go wrong.
7). James 'Sandman Slim' Stark (The Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey)
James Stark has a talent for magic. Unfortunately for him, it gets him sent to hell. He's spent 11 years in hell and as a gladiator and assassin for various demons he earned the nickname 'Sandman Slim'. James has just escaped hell and he wants revenge on those who sent him there. The Sandman eventually ends up with a sidekick who was an enemy that he beheaded with a magic knife...the living head is the sidekick, how wrong and cool is that?
8) Harper Blaine (Greywalker series by Kat Richardson)
The Greywalker series is pretty sedate compared to the heavy action oriented stuff that I normally read, but it is quite enjoyable. The Seattle portrayed in this series drips with noir flavor and the hardboiled mystery of the stories contributes to this atmosphere. The supernatural elements add a creepy feeling to the mix but are generally low key.
9). Owen Zastava Pitt (Monster Hunter International series by Larry Correia)
Monster Hunter International is the equivalent of Seal Team 6 taking on the monster of the week. This is pure action; if you like guns, you'll like this series.
10) Jayne Heller (The Black Sun's Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover)
The Black Sun's Daughter series is very interesting. Jayne has just inherited her uncles fortune, more money than some countries have. Jayne herself is a college drop out with no particular skills. As well as inheriting her uncles fortune, she's inherited his enemies, which include the supernatural variety. Rather than being set in one city, this series has Jayne using her money to fight the bad guys all over the world.
Robert Poulin was born and raised in the New England state of Connecticut. After spending his late teenage years in Boca Raton Florida, Robert moved to upstate New York where he lived with his uncle Wilbrod Poulin and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After earning a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Teaching, Robert went back to Florida where he taught Social Studies for a few years.
After returning to Northern New York, Robert took a job with the North Country Center for Independence: a disability rights and advocacy organizations. Robert has worked for NCCI for thirteen years and is now the Executive Director. Wail of the Banshees is Robert's first novel; he has been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction since second grade when he discovered The Hobbit.
Urban fantasy in particular has become Robert's favored genre in the past decade. Robert has been legally blind since infancy, but thanks to a mom that encouraged independence, hard work, and a healthy dose of dreaming, the disability has mostly just been an inconvenience.