Today’s stop is for Ono Ekeh’s The Children of Clay. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading 🙂
The Clay Queen
With her armies defeated, Queen Nouei’s enemies march north to capture
her. The earth god’s only hope is to alter history before they
arrive. To become stronger she must restart her divine journey by
reincarnating as Bridget Blade. But what if Bridget doesn’t want to
be a god?
All Bridget wants is a simple life with love and family. But she is
confronted by a destiny she doesn’t even understand and burdened by
powers and impulses she struggles to control. Bridget must choose a
path that leads her to Nouei or, must force the Queen to settle for
Bridget’s modest ambitions.
Two women, two destinies, one life. Who will prevail?
Clay to Ashes
Bridget Blade is both a god with an insatiable desire for love and adoration
and a human plagued by insecurities, fears, and anxieties. Unaware of
her true divinity she longs for the kind of love and a happy family
she’s never had. Her husband, Jeremy, though, seems more interested
in turning her into a research project that he can
discovers her new abilities she revels in the discovery that she is a
god. But her new powers attract unwanted attention and Bridget must
fight for her independence and survival.
But when survival means giving up the adoration she craves Bridgett must
confront the desires that drive her. Does she want freedom or does
she want adoration? She can have one or the other, but not both.
Clay to Ashes Excerpt
Sister Vesta Kaypore ran down the stone hallway as fast as she could, her footsteps resounding in her ears. The dormitory doors to her right blurred until she arrived at the infirmary at the end of the hallway, where Bridget Blade lay unconscious as she had for the last four months.
“In there, Sister.” Brother Juan, a fellow member of the Order of Ryna, opened the door for her. The room was brightly lit by the midday sun, with a mild breeze carrying moist, earthy scents from the woods behind the monastery.
Sister Kaypore gasped as she moved her fellow Ryneans out of the way.
A man brandishing a knife stood over Bridget’s bed. With the gleaming blade grasped in a reverse grip, he pointed it downward over her chest, while he pressed his other hand flatly between her breasts. He’d dragged off her covers and hospital gown, exposing her upper torso, which was honeycombed with black scars from skin graft surgeries she had undergone as the result of radiation burns.
Sister Kaypore clutched her hands to her heart in compassion for the man. Tear stains traced channels from his unblinking eyes as he scanned the room, staring at each sister and brother present as though daring them to interfere. His eyes brimmed with fresh tears as thick wetness ran from his nostrils. This was a man maddened by grief, probably having lost family in the tragedy months ago during the Miracle of the Sun here at the monastery. Since the radiation discharge and stampede that followed, thousands of mourners had traveled to the monastery to pay their respects to the dead. Many had become disruptive, some even violent.
Bridget’s part in all the events was a carefully guarded secret. The Order knew. The French, U.S., and Chinese governments all knew enough, as did the Vatican. Many people were present when Bridget was rescued from an electromagnetic field that she likely generated, and also when she appeared to emit ionizing radiation from her body. She was too much of an oddity to keep a secret forever, although most of the people present had been discreet about the information so far—most, but clearly not all.
The shutters had been ripped off and the window panels shattered. A grappling hook attached to a climbing rope hung from the frame, next to an overturned IV pole.
The room was quiet and still. It was as though Sister Kaypore had walked in during a natural pause in the activity.
“Who are you?” she asked, keeping her voice as calm as she could.
The man’s hand trembled. “I lost everyone. My father, my mother, my cousin, my sisters.” His eyes watered. “My sister, Zanel, was crushed. Her head was smashed in. My mother just died from her injuries… all because of this stupid religion.”
All six sisters and brothers attending to Bridget had backed off to the edges of the room. Sister Kaypore took a step into the buffer zone between them and the assailant.
“Don’t come any closer. I’ll kill her.” His tears streaked down his face.
“Why her?” Sister Kaypore asked. “Why not me, or Brother Juan here, or Sister Mascomb?” She pointed at Bridget. “Why her?”
“I have friends. I heard talk. They said there was a witch in here that you’re protecting. She caused all this. Why would you protect her?”
“Does she seem like a witch to you? Look at her! Does she look like a witch?” Sister Kaypore took two more steps.
“I will kill her. I don’t want to harm you.” He raised his hand, holding his palm outward in Sister Kaypore’s direction. “Why is this religion like this?”
“Your family worshiped Ryna? Why not you?” she asked. “Did you leave the Faith?”
“I chose to follow Thysia,” he said with force. “That’s a religion that makes sense. It’s why no one wants to follow your cursed religion any more. Don’t come any closer!”
“I don’t think you came to kill her.” Sister Kaypore walked confidently to the bed and stood across from him. “Put the knife away. If you really wanted to kill her, you would have done so already.”
“I came to kill the witch.”
“No, you came because you want answers.”
The doors swung open and Padre Bede Blade ran in. He stopped in his tracks at the sight of the man with the foot-long knife raised menacingly over Bridget.
“Oh, dear God,” he muttered.
“This is Father Bede,” Sister Kaypore said. “He is a Thysian priest. Will you listen to him?”
The man regarded Bede with interest. “You are a Thysian priest? Why are you here with these people and not with us? They worship a demon. They’re intolerant and disgusting. They follow no leader—have no priests.”
Bede’s forehead knotted with confusion as he made his way to the bed. His movements were careful and deliberate. “Does Jeremy know?” he asked Sister Kaypore softly.
She shook her head.
“What are you two talking about?” The man lowered the knife, though it still hovered over Bridget.
“Jeremy is Bridget’s husband—my brother,” Bede said with a deep inhalation. “If Jeremy comes in here, you will not make it out alive. He will kill you.”
The man’s eyes darted back and forth between them as though seeking validation from the sister. “I’ll kill his wife first.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Bede said. “Jeremy believes that his wife can’t die. He’ll let you stab her because he believes she’ll survive, but you won’t.”
Sister Kaypore placed her hand on Bede’s forearm to stop him from talking. She walked over to the other side of the bed and stood next to the man. She reached out and held his hand, the one leaning on Bridget. “You want answers. That’s why you’re here. You want to know what it is in this ‘disgusting religion,’ as you call it, that would make people offer their lives to Lord Ryna to be reaped. You want your childhood faith to make sense again.”
“I gave up all of this,” he swung his knife in a wide-encompassing arc, “a long time ago. I don’t want—”
“I can’t bring your family back,” Sister Kaypore continued, “but I can give you more. Much more. I can give you a beautiful death, euthanasia. Would you like to die a free and meaningful death? Would you like to join your family in the bosom of Ryna?”
The man, cried quietly and clung to the side-railing of the bed with both hands. His grip on the knife handle loosened, though its blade still pointed carelessly at Bridget’s ribs.
Sister Kaypore closed the space between them, wrapping him in a hug. Tall and regal, she enveloped him, pressing her cheek firmly against his. “Tell me their names, your family. Tell me all about them. I want to celebrate them with you.”
His shoulders shook as he sobbed. Grief wracked his body. She gently patted his shoulder to comfort him.
“We want to assure you that they meant so much to us. And everything to Ryna.”
A loud moan escaped his lips at the mention of Ryna.
“After you tell us about each one of them, after you’ve recalled every scrap of memory, which we will record and remember, after all this, I will bring you back here. Then you can gaze at the face of this woman. Hers is the face of a god.”
His eyes briefly looked up into Sister Kaypore’s, searching them for truth and sincerity.
She continued trying to convince him of the truth. “Then you’ll understand eros. True eros, that takes us out of ourselves into ecstasy, that drives us beyond our physical form into the loving arms of Ryna.”
Her voice rose with conviction at her words. “This world is of no consequence. Do not waste another moment pining for what you think you have lost when we can promise you an eternity with the Lord. Do you accept my offer to die a beautiful death?”
His subdued sobs continued unabated, and then morphed into loud cries as he poured out his grief.
“Look at her face,” Sister Kaypore said cocking her head in the direction of Bridget. “This is the icon of the true beauty that is beyond flesh. Go beyond the shadows, for they offend, and long for true being in the light of Ryna. Do you consent to die?”
The man straightened and steadied himself. Drawing in a deep breath, he looked at Bridget. He stood motionless for a few minutes as he took in the view of the unconscious woman who only moments ago was to be his victim. “May I touch her?” His voice was a whisper.
“You already have,” Bede said.
“That man was not me. His anger blinded him.” The man held Bridget’s limp fingers and kissed them gently. “She is not a witch. She is the face of God. I will go… to the land of my fathers. I want to see my mother again, my father, my sister, and all those I love.”
Sister Kaypore held him by the arm. “She gives such peace, doesn’t she? We will grant you your wish. But first, let us celebrate your family. You must tell us everything about them. We will record their lives in our ledger of saints. When we are done, we will take you down to the cavern, where you will yield your life to the Almighty, Her Lord Majesty, Ryna, God of all.”
Ono Ekeh is a fifth generation android whose initial programming has
exceeded its original boundaries resulting in a self-conscious, fully
functional, quasi-human life form. He is married to a wonderful human
woman and has four amazing kids. He is interested in religion,
politics, science fiction, writing, food, mathematics, and other things.
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