Friday, February 03, 2017

Animal Friends in Witches of Galdorheim III

A skua or jaeger is a large scavenger bird of the Arctic. Jaeger means "thief" so you can get an idea of Skua! (skua with an upclick at the end) in "Midnight Oil" is not exactly a laudable character. Nevertheless, he is open to dealing for food. Katrina the Klutzy Witch needs to send a message to her home island, Galdorheim, but has no way to do it. After all, she's stuck on Ultima Thule, which just might be the tip of Atlantis remaining above sea level.

Kat ends up on Ultima Thule when she tries to keep her father's ice-clad body from being tossed away at sea during a storm. Okay, it's complicated about why her father is a pop-sickle, why they're at sea, why there is a storm, and lots of other questions. You can find out all about it by reading The Witches of Galdorheim series, specifically book 2, "Midnight Oil."

Here's the thing. It's hard to write a succinct explanation of what goes on in the Witches series because it is different from anything you've read before. Here's an excerpt featuring Skua! which might pique your curiosity. Oh, right, the entire series is available for Name Your Own Price (which includes free) on Smashwords.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil

Kat opened her mind to the bird brains, but the shrill cries and squawks were noisier and less coherent than hearing their cries with her ears. She shut off the assault as fast as she could. She’d have to pick a single bird and focus on it. Scanning the rippling wave of feathery bodies, she looked for a bird equal to the task of flying all the way to Galdorheim, possibly without a stop along the way. She didn’t see any albatrosses, but she didn’t expect to. They spent most of their time south of the equator.

As she looked around, she felt the chill up the back of her neck telling her somebody was looking at her. She whipped her head to the side and found herself staring nose to beak with a large dark-gray bird with a white chest and ring around its neck. The bird studied her intently. She listened to him and got a stream of scrambled thoughts. “Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?”

The bird’s mention of a female led Kat to believe he was male. She sent a simple message to the bird, moving her lips silently, so she wouldn’t scare him off. “Hello. I am Katrina.” The bird’s thoughts abruptly halted. He stared at her with beady black eyes.


Kat smiled. Contact! She sent soothing thoughts to the bird. He might be just a teeny bit hyperactive.

“Hello. I,” she said, pointing at her chest, “am Katrina.” She smiled. The bird stared at her, tipping his head to one side and then the other. Next, he tucked its long, hooked bill down and scratched the feathers on its chest. The bird ruffled his wings and then hopped backward.

“Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?” The bird continued its mental ramble.

Kat groaned. She glanced around for another target, when a sharp jab on her upper arm made her yelp.


“Oh, okay. I didn’t think you were listening.”

“Can talk, listen same time.”

“That’s a useful talent. I couldn’t do it,” Kat replied, hoping to get on the good side of the big bird. She recognized him as a skua. A nasty creature in many ways, it liked to steal food from other species. It didn’t surprise her that the rest of the aviary avoided him. The skua would steal and eat other birds’ eggs and hatchlings. The faint whiff of rot told her he also dined on carrion.

The bird swiveled his head and whistled a sharp tone. “No birds here have a brain.”

“So, the rest of them are all just birdbrains?”

“Yes.” The skua coughed in what sounded a lot like a snort of disdain. “Only one, me.” The bird sighed then perked up and said, “I am Skua!.”

Kat heard the up-click at the end. Skua! must be his name. “Pleased to meet you, Skua!.” Kat surveyed the other birds, wondering if he told the truth. Was he the only one smart enough? She guessed it didn’t matter, since he did seem willing to talk to her. “I could use some help.”

“What in it for me?”

“Well, let’s see. What do you like?”


Kat wrinkled her nose. She was afraid the bird would want meat. Besides, lemmings were cute. “How about, um, bird seed?”

“Pah! Meat!”

“Well, how about we work out the payment later?”

“No fool, me. Pay now!”

“Don’t you want to know what I’d like you to do?”

The bird twitched its head upward and was silent for a moment.

“Good idea. Tell.”

“I need a big, strong bird who can fly across the ocean to an island called Galdorheim. I need to deliver a message to the witches who live there.”

“Big strong, me.”

“I can see that. Which is why I’m asking you and none of these other birdbrains.”

The bird croaked a laugh. “Witches pay good?”

“Very good. Part of my message will be to reward you with whatever you’d like. Except lemmings.”

“Why no lemmings?”

Kat sighed. “It’s a long story, and I don’t have time to tell it right now. Trust me, though, the lemmings are my friends.”

“Pah! Lemmings food.”

“The witches can give you anything else you want.”


“Pretty much. How about eggs? We’ve got chickens on the island.”

The bird nodded. “Deal we have.”

* * *

Midnight Oil and the rest of the Witches of Galdorheim series are available free through the Name Your Price program on Smashwords. Click this link to see all of the books available in the series.

Bad Spelling (Book 1 The Witches of Galdorheim). Price: Free!
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe.  The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story. You set the price!
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.

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