J.C. Mells, the author of the Pierced series, asked me to be part of the "Meet My Character Blog Tour". Her books follow a damaged woman by the name of Pierce and her chaotic world as she attempts to escape her life of imprisonment in a vampire camp and make a new life for herself. Sounds like a crazy and engaging tale to me! You can read more about her and find her Meet My Character post here.
In this character tour I've been asked to answer a few of questions about the main character on a work in progress book, but as some of you already know, I'm waist deep in working on my Experimental Heart trilogy with no upcoming projects in plan any time soon, so I'll be answering questions based on my current trilogy and upcoming release of book two.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
My main character's name is Eira and as realistic as she feel sometimes, she's fictional character of the advanced human race called Nu Human.
2) When and where is the story set?
This story is set in a fictional, near future world called Lumaraeon. The world, once nearly destroyed by war a few millennia ago, is still trying to hold onto old customs and beliefs in gods while on the brink of another devastating war. And Eira is caught up in the crossfire.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Eira is a human war experiment trained in the ways of the assassin who is now a wanted fugitive after refusing to play faithful creation. She had a rough life that has caused her great psychological instability and brewed deep hatred for many things. She never fit in with non experiments and experiments alike in her past so she prefers to be alone.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The driving force in this book, as well as the rest of the trilogy, is the desire for freedom. Eira being an experiment, never got a life other people have. She was never allowed to make choices. She was treated like a tool instead of a human being just like all experiments before and after her. But Eira wants choices. She wants a life like other normal humans have even if her psyche has been too damaged by her mistreatment to allow it.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Eira's goal is to attain true freedom. She wants a world that she feels she can belong in, though she's not confident she'll get that last wish.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The working title for the second novel in the trilogy is Experimental Heart: Secrets. Below is a working blurb and unedited excerpt.
"…I fear nothing."
Hated by everyone, including her own, Eira gladly walked a life of solitude. She did as she was told and never looked back. She never felt and she never regretted.
"…It's best if I'm alone."
Plagued by the horrors of her past, Eira keeps to herself and doesn't let anyone in. Feeling as though she was never good enough she thought up ways to keep others away and keep the forbidden feelings she acquired hidden.
"…My heart will betray me."
But now, as she tries to gain her freedom, with the aid of her most trusted friends, she finds herself being pulled back into that darkness she has run from all this time and seeking help from the one man she promised herself she would never get close to. But in order to do that, in order to get past the darkness, she must admit one thing…
My breath was short and my blood cold. Bodies were strewn around me and my hands were stained with their life force. The lifeless faces of these people scared me. They were my friends. I watched them die over and over again and my heart felt as though it were being ripped out. I could feel it. I could feel it beginning again.
Ryoko ran towards me in fear. She looked behind her as if she was looking for whatever was chasing her in the blackness of nothing that surrounded us. I felt my heart clench when she screamed in pain and fell to the ground. Nothing had attacked her. Nothing came out of the darkness but she was bleeding out and dead nonetheless.
Rylan was next. He made it farther than Ryoko but not by much. I looked down at him as he crashed to the ground in front of my feet. His body lay unnaturally and his face was hidden under him like every time before. I looked up in anticipation of Zane, Argus and Blaze. They were always next. The sequence of their deaths never changed.
The boys ran past me, but as they did, they too were killed by an unknown assailant. Blood splattered over my chest and the taste of blood seeped over my tongue. I could feel new blood drip off my hands. It was as if I was the one who was killing them. It was as if I was to blame but I hadn't moved. I hadn't thought of ever killing them.
Then they started to run past me. Hundreds of people ran in terror. I recognized some people and others I did not. But they all met the same fate in the end. It didn't matter if they made it past me or not, they all died and, each time they did, I could feel the blood weigh me down.
Then suddenly, something changed. In the crowd of people a new face appeared. I blinked and figured when I opened my eyes he'd be gone but when they opened again he was still there. He looked around frantically as if he were looking for something, or someone.
Then I heard his voice. "Eira! Eira! Eira, where are you?"
"Raikidan…" I whispered. I wasn't sure if I should call out to him any louder. I didn't want him to end up like the others.
"Eira, where are you?" he called again. "Please, say something!"
I stepped forward slightly, unable to move very far due to the bodies scattered everywhere. "Raikidan!"
He looked directly at me. He was too far away from me to read his expression but he didn't waste any time running over to me. As he came closer I noticed the blood on him. It was everywhere. What was going on? I blinked slowly as he crashed into me and held me in his arms. His breath came slow and deep from his running.
"Eira…" he mumbled as he rested his face in my hair. "I thought I'd never find you."
I was too confused to respond. I didn't understand what was going on. Over and over these events played. Over and over the same people died. But Raikidan never showed up at any point until now. I felt him start to pull away and I wanted to fight to keep him close. I didn't want to lose him like I had the others.
"Raikidan—" The pain I felt in my abdomen stopped me. I choked as blood rushed up my throat.
I heard him chuckle but his voice was different now. I pulled away and was faced with the man I hated so much.
"Who is this Raikidan, my dear?" the dark haired man asked.
"Z–Zarda…" I managed
He smirked at me. "Did you really think you could escape me? Did you think you wouldn't screw up again?"
I tried to pull away from him but the pain in my abdomen worsened. I cringed and looked down. I couldn't believe what I saw. Zarda's hand was speared into me as if it were a sharp blade.
Zarda chuckled again. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Your heart will betray you."
He pulled his arm free and walked away. I fell to the ground and bled out. His words replayed in my mind over and over.
"You're heart will betray you."
I had heard it once before. I had been warned with these words before. I couldn't be true. I was alone. A lone heart can't be betrayed.
I felt strong hands on my back and Raikidan's worried voice. "Eira? Eira!"
I felt him shake me each time he spoke my name but I was far too gone to respond.
I could smell blood. It was heavy and it smelled sickeningly close. I could hear muffled voices all around me but I couldn't make them out. I moaned in pain. Something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what. I felt a strong pair of arms on me but I couldn't figure out who the belonged to and I couldn't understand why I was in so much pain. Then voices became clearer.
"Who are you?" I heard a feminine voice that sounded like Ryoko's demand.
"I told you, right now that doesn't matter." another female voice that seemed oddly familiar replied. "Right now you have to move her away from all this blood and to a spot where I can help her."
Blood? There's blood around me. Is it my blood?
"How do we know we can trust you?" a male voice that sounded like Rylan's asked. "You come out of a mysterious portal, don't address yourself, and tell us what to do with her, and you really expect us to believe you're going to help her?"
I felt my body being lifted by the strong arms that had yet to move from my body and held close to a muscular, bare chest. I felt pain rush through me and I yelled out in pain.
"Raikidan!" Ryoko screech.
"We need to move her," he insisted. "I'll put her on the couch."
I managed to open my eyes slightly. He looked really upset.
"You're hurting her more!" Ryoko protested. "You need to put her down right now."
"Eira is dying and if we don't put her somewhere where she can be healed then we're going to lose to her!"
I'm dying? I cringed and whimpered slightly as more pain flooded through my body as Raikidan quickly carried me out of my room. I felt like I was dying that was for sure. How did I get hurt? All I could remember was that awful dream. With Raikidan in the room no one would have been able to sneak in. He would have heard them.
Did Raikidan do it? No he couldn't have. It didn't make sense. If he did I'd be dead already and he wouldn't be trying to carry me somewhere so I could get healed up, right? I groaned. It hurt to think about this and it hurt to be moved.
Raikidan laid me down on the couch and pulled away from me. I wanted to stop him. I didn't want him to leave but I couldn't find the strength to move. As he moved away I saw all the blood on him. I was bleeding real bad. No wonder they said I was dying.
A hooded figure took Raikidan's place by my side. She had to be the mysterious voice I had heard. The only part of her face I could see was her lips. They were deep shade of red thanks to her lipstick and they were pressed together with concern.
"I'll have you fixed up in no time," she promised me.
I grunted in pain as a response. I watched her as best as I could as she placed her hands over my wound. A green light enveloped her hands and then part of my body. She seemed familiar to me. Maybe it was the cloak. She was a shaman after all, but there was something about the cloak that made me feel like I knew her. Not to mention her voice seemed familiar as well. I cringed in pain. She wasn't very good at this.
"Sorry…" she whispered. "I'm definitely not as good at my brother."
I grunted. I knew who she was now. I couldn't believe I hadn't figured it out sooner. "You suck…at this compared…to him…Shva'sika."
Shva'sika laughed. "Ouch. You could at least give me some credit."
I grunted again. "I'm dying here for some unknown reason and it feels like you're just making it worse."
"Hey, I had no one to teach me!" she defended.
"Yeah, whatever." I muttered.
She sighed. "You're such a pain."
I chuckled. "If I'm such a pain why don't you just go back home?
"Too late. I'm already here helping you."
"I thought as much. You could never leave me to die."
"You caught me there."
"I didn't know you could heal."
"I didn't either until I tried it one day. When you ran off, after the village had been attacked five years ago, I felt like I needed to replace Xye's loss so I gave it a shot. I didn't want to be taught how to do it. Xye never did the first few years of his shaman life, so I was determined to do the same."
"Well you forgot something. Xye was a natural at healing. I remembered hearing how much of a protégé he was from the other healers."
Shva'sika laughed. "That is quite true."
I noticed Ryoko lean over the couch and looked at me. "So you know her?"
I grunted. "Know her? I can't get rid of her!"
Shva'sika laughed. "I don't know why I put up with you sometimes."
I chuckled. "When you figure it out I'd love to know."
Shva'sika laughed and shook her head. She pulled her hands away when she was done. "There. You're all patched up. How are you feeling right now?"
I sighed and closed my eyes. "Like shit."
She giggled quietly. "Your strength should come back in a few hours with a lot of rest."
I grunted. "It'd better."
"Hey, Laz?" Ryoko asked.
I opened my eyes and looked at her. "Yeah?"
She smiled. "Happy eighty-fifth birthday."
I chuckled. "Is it really?"
I had no idea summer had been so close. With everything going on I had completely forgotten. I grunted. "Some birthday. I've had weird things happen on my birthday but I don't think almost dying has ever made the list until now."
"Birthday?" I heard Raikidan ask.
"Please tell me you know what a birthday is." Ryoko remarked.
"Uh, no." Raikidan replied.
"It's a stupid tradition to remind us of how old we are," I explained to him. "It's celebrated once a year on the same day you were born. Mine just so happens to land on the summer solstice."
Raikidan grunted. "Sounds stupid. But how do you all figure when you're born?"
"That's easy," Ryoko commented. "The day we're let out of our tank. It's also the day we're created. To keep things consistent, and to make sure nothing goes wrong, we're released on the year desired that is also on the day we were created."
"What's the point of celebrating it?" he asked.
"There isn't one," I remarked. "It just tells you you're another year older."
"There is nothing wrong with getting older," Shva'sika defended.
"Maybe for you," I shot. "You don't die, you old woman."
Shva'sika laughed. "We do to. It just takes a long time. Don’t tell me you’re sound jealous."
I snorted. "Hardly. Everything is supposed to have an end. That's how the cycle works." Sighing, I attempted to pull myself up into a sitting position.
"Oh, no you don't!" Shva'sika placed her hands on my shoulders and tried to get me to lie back down. "You need to rest."
"Fuck that," I replied, pushing myself up more. "I need to sit up."
She sighed and let me do as I pleased. Once I managed to succeed on sitting up I rested my hand where my wound had been. It had been in the same spot Zarda had attacked me in my dream. As I left my hand there the memories of the dream flooded back to me. I was remembering everything in fine detail and I didn't like it. It was painful.
I felt Shva'sika rest her hands on mine. "Laz, I need you to tell me what happened."
I shook my head. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Laz, please," she begged. "If this vision was bad enough to nearly kill you, I need to know about it." I looked at her in confusion and she chuckled slightly. "You really didn't believe it was just a nightmare did you? Dreams don't kill, but visions can."
"That's a little creepy," Ryoko remarked. "Why would you ever want to have one if it risks killing you?"
"It's not common," Shva'sika explained. "But under the right conditions it can happen. It's not just Laz's element that is enhanced on this day. Her bond with the spiritual plane is also heightened and if the spirits choose to send her a vision then it could potentially be fatal, like this one."
"But if they know it could happen, then why not send it when she wouldn't get hurt?" Rylan asked.
"They send visions when the time is right. There is only one time you can receive it and you can't get it again once you've seen it," Shva'sika explained.
"That's stupid," Ryoko muttered.
I yawned. "It's fine, and I'm better now. Now everyone can stop worrying and go back to bed."
"Laz, I still need you to tell me what happened," Shva'sika insisted.
I shook my head. "No. Maybe when I'm ready to talk about it but I'm not right now so stop pushing me. I don't have to tell anyone if I don't wish to. The vision was for me and it's my choice to tell or not."
Shva'sika sighed. "Very well. We're going to have to find you a new place to sleep for the night though. That blood will have to be cleaned up later today and a couch will not work for your recovery."
I closed my mouth when she told me the couch part. I was okay with sleeping on it but if the healer said no I was to listen. I yelped when I felt strong arms pick me up.
"C'mon, let's get you back to bed," Raikidan stated.
"Raikidan, put me down!" I protested.
"You're in no shape to walk."
"Like hell I'm not!"
Ryoko giggled. "Just because you have the energy to yell doesn't mean you have the energy to walk."
I folded my arms and grunted unhappily. I really didn't have the energy but I also didn't want to be carried like I couldn't take care of myself. I watched as Shva'sika moved from her spot and followed Raikidan as he carried me down the hall. I blinked with slight surprise when he brought me into his room.
"You know there are plenty of guest rooms," I told him as he placed me down gently on his bed. "I could have just slept in one of those."
"This room is closest," he replied curtly as he sat next to me.
"There's one right next to Ryoko's room!" I protested.
"Shva'sika will sleep there. She'll need a place to rest too, you know."
I wanted to smack myself. Of course she would. What kind of person would I be if I made her go home at this hour after saving me?
"Raikidan?" Shva'sika asked quietly. "Would you mind letting me speak with Laz in private for a moment?"
He nodded and stood up. I had to brace myself as the bed shifted from his lack of weight. He left, closing the door behind him, leaving us alone.
Shva'sika sat down next to me, taking Raikidan's previous place. "How are you feeling?"
I laughed. "That's all you wanted to ask? Did you really need to force Raikidan to leave for that question?"
Shva'sika sighed. "Just answer my question please?"
I blinked. Something was up. "I feel fine. My energy is low but it's coming back slowly and I'm alive. I have you to thank for that, though I'm surprised you're here. It's like you knew this would happen."
Shva'sika nodded. "I did."
I blinked. Now I knew why Shva'sika wanted to speak to me alone. This was shaman business. "Go on."
"I was given a vision a few days ago," she explained. "You were dying and all your friends were around you. I knew I was the one who was supposed to save you."
"But you didn't come right away," I observed. "That's not like you. You've always just jumped head first without thinking about consequences when the spirits are involved."
Shva'sika nodded slowly. "And I would have been here sooner, since the spirits didn't tell me when it would happen, but Maka'shi found out about my vision."
I felt my mouth dry. I didn't like where this was going. "Shva'sika, what aren't you telling me?"
She sighed. "Laz, is it alright…if I stayed here with you? Like, permanently?"
I forced myself to stay calm. I couldn't believe what I just heard. "You can't be serious? She didn't make you choose did she?"
Shva'sika nodded slowly. "It was either I stayed in the village and not help or come to your aid and never be allowed to come back."
"Shva'sika!" I shouted. "How could you choose me over everything you had? That's your entire life you left behind. That's everything you're family ever owned. That's the only home you've ever known! Why would you do it?"
She looked at me. I could tell, even though her hood was up, by the frown on her lips, this decision hadn't been made lightly. She had struggled with this choice knowing the very words I spoke were the deciding factors. "I did it because I cared about you more than any one object I owned. You're my family now, Laz, and I'll be damned if I ever forget that for a moment. I'd rather have you than something that belonged to a dead person, any day."
"Shva'sika…" I didn't know what to say really. Shva'sika and I had been close, much closer than I would have let anyone outside of my select group of comrades come close to, but not even I had thought she would choose me over everything she had. "You can stay. I'm not sure what you can do here, since I'd rather not see you fighting alongside us, but you can stay as long as you wish."
She smiled and hugged me. "Thank you. I'm not sure if I'll be of any help but I would like to help in some way. I'm no longer a member of the West Tribe so I can't put them in any danger." I pulled away and looked at her. She tilted her head slightly. "What?"
"I have this weird feeling you're not telling me something still."
She sighed. "It's nothing really. I just have this feeling that I haven't accomplished what the spirits told me about. It feels like this night wasn't the incident they were referring to. Sure, this vision could have killed you if it weren't for me, but it also might not have if your friends had been able to get you help fast enough." I looked away from her for the first time this night. I didn't want her to see what I was thinking. "Laz, what is it?"
"It's nothing, forget about it."
"You're thinking of something. What are you thinking?"
"I have a feeling you're right," I told her honestly. "I have a feeling this isn't the incident they were talking about but I also think that you won't be able to help me when that day comes."
Shva'sika touched my shoulder. "What are you talking about? What do you know, Laz?"
I shook my head. "It's time for me to go to bed."