Soul Swallowers: Danzell and Johzar

As my current WIP sloooowly progresses, I thought I would offer a peek into some of the characters.

You might have met the main character Raze here.

Danzell is a soul-collector, one who swallows multiple souls. In her case, wise ones.
Johzar is a slaver of questionable morals and allegiances.

I hope you enjoy this snippet.

***

The glowing soul rolled in Danzell’s palm, and she tilted her head. If only she could pry into the sphere, truly know the person bound within, their succulent secrets, forbidden dreams, and ripe desires. The wise of the world weren’t without their idiosyncrasies, the blades of madness that cleaved the mundane to unleash visionary brilliance.

Johzar watched her, a pendant on the Temple’s table between them, the one she’d given him as a gift. The soulstone still shone with the light of the soul within, her gift thus far rejected. Was he a fool or a wise man? She remained undecided, wary.

The Temple was her haven for the moment. She and the slaver sat by the window on the eighth level, too high for the common wanderer, and she kept her cowl up, face in shadow to all but him. “Why are you here, Johzar? Why the interest in imperial affairs? Why now? Why accompany me like my guard dog? What do you know? What do you want?”

He mulled over her questions, the gears grinding in his head as if visible to her eyes. Did he invent excuses or parse through her questions for the ones he’d answer?

“Curiosity.”

“And?”

Another pause. “Boredom.”

“Aah.” She chuckled and dropped a hand to her lap, fingers tickling the hilt of her knife. “And profit? Are you for sale?”

“Now and then.”

“Now?”

He shook his head. “I’ll stick with curious.”

“Did you or someone from your crew kill my sister?” She wrapped her hand around the hilt of her dagger.

“Nae.”

“Do you know who did?”

His gaze pointed to her hip as if the table were transparent. “I may not tell you if I did, but my answer is nae.”

“Did you betray my friends to the soldiers?”

“I saved their lives and mine by turning over the girl. She’s Benjmur’s weakness, and he’ll protect her. I’m sure of it.”

Danzell sighed. “I should have killed them all in the catacombs and added their bones to the vaults. They’ve complicated my plans.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“The voices in my head.” She smiled and rolled the soul.

He slid the pendant toward her. “I gift this back to you. I don’t need to listen to a voice inside my head tell me what I already know.”

“Such arrogance from a slaver, Johzar. Do you claim to possess the wisdom of the ancients?”

“Far from it.” He leaned back and crossed his arms. “But I know myself, and I know what I need to do.”

“Hm.” She draped the pendant around her neck, eyes returning again to the pearl of light in her palm. Her hesitation surprised her, the sensation new. Had she reached her limit? Was she edging toward the brink of madness from which she couldn’t return?

She hadn’t suffered conflicting opinions in her head until recent events required choices for which the outcomes were unclear. When it was all passive speculation, the answers were easy, reflecting a hypothetical black and white world without a broad palette of grays. Taking action was much more nuanced.

She popped the sphere into her mouth and swallowed. Johzar leaned forward, studying her. Her eyes closed, she surrendered to the sensation radiating from her stomach. The heat streamed through her veins, tingling her fingers and toes, and rushed into her head in a dizzying wave. She envisioned a room full of chattering, the newcomer mingling, ideas bouncing off others, temperaments clashing and merging. Similarities and differences flailed about with practiced words. She’d thrown another stone in the pond, created a chaos of ripples. She breathed through it, seeking the inevitable peace as the waters stilled.

101 thoughts on “Soul Swallowers: Danzell and Johzar

  1. reocochran says:

    I like how the slaver, Johzar, may be of questionable repute, may even be sneaky. But I don’t think he is “all bad” due to the fact he could have swallowed the soul himself.
    I think Danzell may need to find a way to live without so many voices in her head. Will there be a way to unswallow the souls, perhaps?
    Although, Danzell’s souls collide inside her, I do think it is intriguing how they calm down and soon, no ripples within her “waters” or inner self. Very interesting and this has such potential to go in so many directions!
    ps. I would go mad if I had more than one soul within my own self! It’s hard enough just being “me!” hugs xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. Some of my characters do go mad! Too much of a good thing? Lol. You are so perceptive picking up on the conflicting aspects of Johzar. That makes me happy that you caught that. For a slaver, he has a few redeeming qualities. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and have a great week.

      Like

  2. Antonia says:

    This is awesome, I can’t wait to see how it progresses. You work so hard Diana and I love how much creativity and skill you exude in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It takes courage to publish an excerpt from a WIP, Diana. Do you share these snippets as a way of incrementally “letting go” of the book — that is, building up to that fateful moment when you have to release it into the world?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The snippets aren’t “final” draft, but they’re close-ish. I do like sharing them, but it’s not really about letting go. It’s more about marketing (and having something to post!)
      I believe they build some anticipation for the book among friends and visitors – sort of like movie trailers – and they create some “name recognition” so when the book is finally released, those who enjoyed the glimpses remember and may pick it up. For the Rose Shield series, I shared about 7 snippets spaced about a month a part each, and I think it helped with the initial launch. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this snippet from your WIP, Diana! “Curiosity” and “Boredom” made me laugh so much – these are the great two reasons why so many things happen, I guess. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are interesting characters, Diana. All the best in completing your present WIP. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So vividly told, Diana! Your writing truly is amazing. It takes me away. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, what a peek! It makes you want to dive right in and meet these characters and their story 🙂 Wonderful job, Diana, as always ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What a great excerpt, Diana! Now I want to know the rest of the story. Hurry up and finish it 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just finished the 2nd draft this morning, which plugged plot holes and dealt with a bunch of other nonsense. Ha ha. Sooo, on to the crafty stuff! I’m thinking April??? May??? Thanks for stopping by to read, Julie, and for making me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jay says:

    What a terrific tease!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bookgraphy says:

    This is actually REALLY GOOD 😍 Your writing is too beautiful and I just read these aren’t the main characters but I just felt instantly connected to them 😮 What a Great Job you do at writing!😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. paulandruss says:

    Shaping up beautifully Diana. So intriguing. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mae Clair says:

    A fantastic concept and a riveting snippet. Your writing is always flawless, and you manage to draw me deeply into each scene. Well done, Diana. I expect this will be fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well Diana, you have me hooked ! I want to read more! This is so intriguing 🙂 . Have a great week my friend !

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A very intriguing story Diana. I wonder what follows….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Very intriguing excerpt, Diana! It sounds as though you’re having fun with this one. I’m glad you popped over to my blog today because this post didn’t make it into my WP Feed. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dgkaye says:

    Wow Diana, wonderfully written characters. And the concept of swallowing souls and how they react within once swallowed is such an inventive storyline. I am not surprised, but intrigued. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Steven Baird says:

    Great excerpt, Diana. Beautiful and complex writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You make me want to swallow a few souls. If they aren’t taken from living folks, maybe it would work. I guess I will have to read more of your book to find out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can have wonderful results, Jacqui, if you choose wisely. You can choose someone’s soul who has skills you desire or wisdom or a more joyful temperament, a more robust constitution. Someone you loved and lost…. but… don’t make a mistake, because you’re stuck!
      Ha ha. Of course, I would love you to read it whenever that day comes. Lots of work to do first. 🙂 Happy Writing!

      Like

  19. Annika Perry says:

    Wow!! 😀😃 Diana, I’m absolutely hooked by this extract; you paint the characters with such skill, their personalities ooze from the page (or screen!)! Multifaceted, complicated…wonderful! Your use of language is superlative and a real treat to read and savour. Wishing you lots of enjoyment with this book. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika. I’m such a sloggingly slow writer, but as the scenes start to take shape, it’s fun to share. These two are quite a pair and a joy to write since they write themselves! Ha ha. Have a wonderful week, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Loved the excerpt Diana. As always, you make the story interesting, give it character – life.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A brilliant extract, Diana. Your characters are very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. babbitman says:

    Loving this already (was there any doubt?)
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Catching my breath. The imagination is profound and disturbing (as in disturbing the normal and showing us what could be envisioned, with multitudes of creativity). Your dialogue should be used in a Master’s English class. I certainly learn from it. And lastly, don’t you also, in some teeny way, feel that you’ve swallowed a few souls yourself, Diana? (ie, creating your characters and making them breathe and laugh and love).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Pam. These two characters just lend themselves to this kind of dialog. It’s weird how that happens. It’s not me, I swear. They’re just talking in my head – Ha ha. The biggest challenge with this book is having characters with other characters inside them. A lot to keep track of! Thanks so much for the fun comment. Happy Writing. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Silent Hour says:

    It seems like something I should read. By the way, I’m reading this book called ‘Catling’s Bane’, by a certain D. Wallace Peach! It’s wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’m hooked! Now I know what you are doing all day while you are staying in your pajamas!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This is an enchanting and exciting excerpt Diane. I can’t wait to move forward into this fantastic tale. You are truly good at the mystical sci fi.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. rijanjks says:

    What a vivid imagination to picture the effects of swallowing another soul to mingle with the ones already occupying Danzell. Just brilliant. I hate to point it out, but there is another typo – third paragraph, second line, the word eigth is missing an ‘h’ – eighth. Great creative writing, Diane.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ack. I should have spell checked. Duh. All fixed. 😀 And thanks, Jan, for the comment the writing. It’s been interesting creating characters who have other characters in their heads! Keeps me on my toes. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

      Like

  28. janmalique says:

    Love it. Fantasy and science fiction are amongst my favourite genres. Intriguing fellows these soul swallowers.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. It’s beautifully written Diana (though there is one typo in paragraph 15, ‘it’ should be ‘if’) as ever. You write so eloquently that I can’t help but be captivated even though the thought of a soul swallower is more than my sensibilities can cope with. I’m over half way through Oathbreakers’ Guild and taking my time reading it just because I enjoy the language and images so much and being new to fantasy I’m letting it all soak in. I can see your work easily seguing into movies – I’d love to see your rivers and cities on film!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  30. So intriguing, I’m also looking forward to this! I’m on book 3 of The Rose Shield series already, can’t put them down!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha. Yay! I’m so glad your blasting through them, Kathryn. That’s a good sign. The last one, Kari’s Reckoning, really ramps up! Soul Swallowers is still a bit away… probably late spring. I’m going slow and trying to get it right. Have a great weekend, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. balroop2013 says:

    More than these scary soul swallowers, it is the language that you use to describe them, that entraps me…your fantasy is out of this world Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Very creative and engaging. Thanks Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. A.P. says:

    You are such a good writer, Diana! I was completely engaged from the start. As I’ve said before, I’ve read very little fantasy – was lucky to get through the Chronicles of Narnia back in the 90’s. However, I am convinced I could read a book of yours from start to finish — possibly even in one sitting. Excellent work!

    Liked by 3 people

  34. C.E.Robinson says:

    Diana, every word, the story flow, kept me reading. You’re a master at description & dialogue. Just knowing these two characters made me want to read the book. Happy weekend! 🌷 Christine

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Swallowed every word, slipping off the tongue, heard inside as if said …

    Liked by 2 people

  36. What a hard worker you are, Diana. I’ve got some catching up to do. I’m two-thirds of the way through Catling’s Bane – enjoying it a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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