Talin, a Changeling

Liars and Thieves, the 1st book in the Unraveling the Veil series, is in the final stages of… everything. Lol.

I introduced two of my main characters: Naj’ar, a goblin here, and Alue, an elf here.

To finish off the trio, here’s a peek at Talin, my changeling. He starts this snippet as a jackal. I hope you enjoy!

Talin sat on the smooth stone and scratched. Other than the vermin infesting his coat, the afternoon had progressed with minimal effort. He’d shift into his familiar self and bathe, then seek a meal of roots or greens. Something edible that didn’t include voles and other Borderland rodents. He could do without ingesting any more hair, bones, and all the other peripheral disgustingness that accompanied the gobbling down of wild meat.

He raised his nose, nostrils twitching at a new scent. The scruff on his neck and shoulders bristled.

A cat. A wild one.

Changelings didn’t stalk changelings, and something big and stealthy lurked in the jungle. He leapt from the sunlight, slipped through a natural trellis of twisted vines, and spent hours evading the panther that had sniffed him out. Exasperation surrendered into a growing sense of urgency. Head down, ears alert, he bounded over a stream and between the stilts that supported the railway spur in its treacherous descent. Already too long in jackal form, he was overdue to shift. And shifting presented some serious drawbacks.

Nose to the ground, he found the path he sought, and by twilight reached one of the tree-stands that peppered the Reaches. The ladder would present a challenge, but if he could manage it, the stand would likely save his life.

He circled the base of the tree, seeking a cache of buried crystals, and found none. Another obstacle. With a huff, he scanned the shadowed growth and tasted the air for unwelcome predators. Langur monkeys crept along the upper branches, and a shy loris blinked at him with pooled eyes, but no cats prowled the area. Poisonous snakes slithering in the trees would be the greatest threat, but there wasn’t much he could do about them. He sat on his haunches and closed his eyes.

He called up his human pattern. A cold shiver accompanied the brutal constellation of pain that sparked deep in his bones. The transformation would require only minutes, but after so long in a borrowed form, it would feel like hours.

The skeletal changes came first. He sank to his knees as his oblong skull crushed inward at the muzzle and bulged in the cranium. His neck compressed. Shoulder blades and ribcage shrank while hip bones expanded and rearranged their connections to fibulae and spine. His tail withered into a pointed coccyx deep within his flesh.

The air around him froze as he drew mass from the trees and ground to accommodate his larger size. A ring of frost crept outward from his contorting feet. Arm and leg bones elongated, and he gritted his teeth as the bones in his front paws shattered, seven pieces reforming into the twenty-seven of his human hand. He curled into a ball, breathless, as his elbows, knees, all his joints and cartilage switched to accommodate altered movement. The intensity of his pain weakened as his skeleton took its final shape and the rest of his internal mechanisms rippled into alignment.

His skin shifted last. Hair altered its texture, fine on his bronze limbs, scratchy on his jaw. Long and dark on his head.

As the ache inside him faded and his sweat cooled, the air returned to its familiar sticky humidity. His heart rate slowed. Strength spent, he could barely move, unconsciousness luring him into a dreamless sleep. Naked, he rolled to his hands and knees and rung by rung, hoisted himself up the ladder.

“Death would be easier than this.” He chuckled like a tipsy drunk. At the top, he collapsed, his legs still propped on the ladder.

Good enough, he surrendered to sleep.

Coming Soon!

125 thoughts on “Talin, a Changeling

  1. Sarah says:

    Wonderful peek into Talin’s character, Diana! I’m hooked yet again! Shapeshifters are really quite something and I look forward to learn about yours!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. markbierman says:

    Your words painted a thousand pictures. Well done, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for checking out the snippet, Mark. This is the first view of a shift in the book, so it gives some detail. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m so ready to share these books. Finally. Have a great week and Happy Writing. Be well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ocean Bream says:

    Your descriptions are so beautiful and vivid, wow. I feel like I can SEE this in my mind. ‘Brutal constellation of pain’. ❤ I felt the change in my bones!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the slow motion and detail description of Talin’s transformation. I could see the stretches, connection and separation of the parts of his being. There must be an incentive to change his forms. Exquisite writing, Diana. Congratulations on your new books.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is great, Diana. Thanks for introducing Talin – what a transformation. I’m glad I don’t have to go through that but he has a sense of humor about it 🙂

    Like

  6. Diana, as usual, your skill leaves me in awe. What a beautifully executed description of the shape-shifting. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marcia says:

    Another great read on the way, I can see. Wonderful excerpt, Diana! (And my TBR pile grows ever larger, as I add this to my wish list)

    Congratulations on being almost there, and best wishes for a HUGE success! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very vivid description of the changling’s changing. Now, of course, I’m all curious about the “rules” for these beings!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Teri Polen says:

    Your description of the change was so vivid, I could feel it in MY bones, lol. He deserved a long rest after that. So excited for this release!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Teri. I’m excited too! The end of this month is going to be here before I know it! I’m glad you liked the snippet. This is the first description of shifting, so the most graphic. And yeah, it hurts. Lol. Happy Reading and Writing and stay safe. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. J.D. Riso says:

    So vivid, Diana. I could feel every ache of that transformation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How could it not be painful, right? Yikes. All that bone morphing and joints rearranging. Thanks so much for taking a peek at the snippet. I’m happily getting things wrapped up and can’t wait to take a long nap sometime in September! Enjoy your week, JD, and take care. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. V.M.Sang says:

    I’ve enjoyed all three of the characters you’ve shared with us, Diana. I can’t wait to read this book.
    I love the description of the changes. It irritates me when authors describe a change from human to animal and say something like ‘His knees cracked and bent the other way.’ It shows ignorance of animal skeletons, because, as you will know, that part which they assome to be knees are in fact heels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the intros to the characters. 🙂 I got about as biological as I dared. And I’m glad I didn’t have the knees reversing. I do that later with birds, but not with mammals. Lol. Thanks for visiting and for the lovely comment. Be well and Happy Writing. 😀

      Like

  12. You must have spent extensive research on the human and animal form in order to describe the shifting process in such detail. Very vivid and alluring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Len. I simple placed pictures of the skeletons side by side and compared. The imagination did the rest. 🙂 That’s the fun part of writing fantasy. I’m glad you enjoyed this. Have a great week and take care. 😀

      Like

  13. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    I felt that painful change. Great imagery.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jina Bazzar says:

    Brutally vivid, Diana, and very descriptive. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Silent Hour says:

    The transformation was impressive! You don’t take easy ways out and I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jan Sikes says:

    An excellent glimpse inside the pain involved with shape-shifting, Diana! Best wishes on this new book!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Amazing write up. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve often thought about the tension between human sensibilities and animal instincts for shapeshifters. McKillip kind of glossed over it in the Riddle Master series, but you attacked it head on in your work. Good for you–vivid is usually better.

    I’m still plugging along with book 3. Everybody will get to read them all very soon–and I’m sure your readers will love them. You do such a good job at the secondary world stuff. That attention you bring to something like “What do shapeshifters eat?” is just one example of how thorough your world building is. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cathleen. These books will all be so much better after having passed beneath your eyes. I’m so grateful. I like a “grounded” and limited magic system (a single magical item like an amulet or a soulcatcher or a magical book), so this trilogy was quite a break from that. But I still wanted it be “realistic.” I’m glad that worked. ❤ Enjoy your week, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  19. cath says:

    Wow, what a vivid transformation, Diana. Nice writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Very nice 🙂
    ‘He chuckled like a tipsy drunk’ after enduring something so excuciating – this really sums up Talin’s personality if you ask me!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. acflory says:

    Yes! I love Talin already. The description of his transformation is masterful! I know I shouldn’t play favourites but…I really, really like this character. Bravo, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Mae Clair says:

    I loved it! So vivid and raw.
    Your book is populated by such intriguing characters, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mae. I have to give credit to my bossy muse for the characters. I didn’t want to go there and she made me. Lol. But it ended up being fun. I’m glad you enjoyed meeting my changeling. Have a great week and Happy Writing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. petespringerauthor says:

    Beautiful writing, Diana! Your snippet reminded me of the days when the kids in my class examined owl pellets.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. dgkaye says:

    Gorgeous detail in your prose as always Diana. You had my stomach churning with the description of eating meat and all the gorie fixings, lol. Congrats on the upcoming.<3

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Steven Baird says:

    Wow, that was exciting, Diana. The transformation is amazing and so well detailed. I’m looking forward to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow! What an incredible transformation! I love the part about his coccyx sinking into his flesh.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Fantastic Diana and love the cover… looking forward to showcasing.. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I can’t wait! Sounds so good. Interesting… I’m writing about a changeling as well… hmmm… like minds. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Spellbinding! Amazing writing as always, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. You swept me away with this, Diana! Now I want to know what happens next, lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the kind comment, Jacquie. Talin is a thief and spy, and his ability saves him as much as it gets him into trouble. Lol. Fun to write for sure. I’m glad you enjoyed this. Not too much longer and it will be out! Have a lovely Sunday, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Good luck with the writing and production processes. I suppose you’re almost able to breathe a sigh of relief at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting and for the encouragement. Since I’m working on getting 3 books out this fall, life is going to be super busy for another few months. But then…. a long nap. Lol. Have a wonderful week and take care. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Wow, what a beautiful cover and after reading about Talin’s transformation, I feel like stretching my own self just to make sure I’m still me. Superb storytelling, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. This is a wonderful extract, Diana. I don’t read a lot of fantasy but I do like your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the wonderful comment, Robbie. I tend to gravitate toward fantasy, but reading the books of other bloggers had broadened my horizons AND my tastes in books. I really like that. While the Bombs Fell is an example of a book I wouldn’t normally have picked up and yet loved. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this. Happy Writing and be well. ❤

      Like

  34. Shape-shifters are fun to read about. Can’t wait to see what this book is all about! Congrats on your good progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. memadtwo says:

    I never thought about the how of a changeling transformation. Your description is vividly painful. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  36. balroop2013 says:

    Liars and thieves sounds like a normal fantasy… I would like to read it Diana. As usual it’s your choice of words that is alluring me. Thanks for sharing an excerpt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read, Balroop. I’m smiling. To be honest, the third book gets rather dark, but by then, hopefully, you wouldn’t be able to stop! Lol. Thanks for the encouragement. Have a gorgeous Sunday and lovely week ahead. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Felt the change, mind you within species have been for decades! Looking forward to the unravelling of the veil and reading your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eric. You’re so kind to me. I’m glad you enjoyed this glimpse of Talin. Shifting is a rather exhausting an painful process, but as a spy, it’s effective. Lol. Have a wonderful day and happy, healthy week ahead. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Tessa says:

    I love this description of a shapeshifter/changeling shifting. So gripping!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thanks, Tessa. It’s hard to find a scene that doesn’t need a lot of backstory. I’m glad you enjoyed this. The book is in its final stages, and yet still so much to do to get ready. Have a great week, be safe, and Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. I hope all goes well

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Thanks for sharing the terrific excerpt, Diana! Your cover is fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the visit and kind comment, Jill. This is the last peek, I think, as the release is speeding toward me! Lol. And I’m glad you like the cover. I think I’m done tweaking it – there’s still a couple week to play around! Have a lovely day and week ahead. Be well. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Pink Roses says:

    That was a lovely piece of writing; very enjoyable. I always think of shapeshifters as very quickly morphing from one form to another. This is wonderfully creative. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I like magic, but I like it grounded in reality. I know that makes little sense, lol, but that’s why I went a bit into the biology of it. It’s gotta hurt, right? 😀 Have a great week and be well.

      Like

  42. Great excerpt. I can’t wait to start this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Talin is another compelling character Diana. I’ve been reading other books with changelings in them lately, mostly the werewolf series by Patricia Briggs. I haven’t bought books in years, but I might have to surrender and buy yours! Thanks for the intros and teasers!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. First of all I loved the cover of the book, Diana. Must say the boy looks rugged and handsome and the lion is so mesmerizing. Talin sounds a very interesting character and the story was very nice. Thanks so much for your great share.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Masterful construction of Talin, Diana. I really enjoy reading it.
    Have a beautiful weekend.
    Love
    G.

    Liked by 1 person

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