Author Kimberlee Ann Bastian has stopped by my blog today with a guest post and an excerpt for her blog tour. Check it out!
Meet the Characters: Bartholomew “The Soulcatcher”
By: Kimberlee Ann Bastian
When creating a new mythological creature, I found myself in an interesting position. I want to be original and tried to figure out how I could be, but no matter what original title I could come up with, the creature’s function was bound to be claimed by something else. I knew from the start I did not want to label Bartholomew a shape shifter or a changeling, because he is neither of those things, but I wanted him to be something of the sort, if only in title.
My search for the right word started there and I worked my way through realm of the mythological word until I stumbled on a simple word in a brief description of a hippogryph—breed. The word stuck with me, so I tried to figure out how I could make it into the word I needed. I went back to changeling, stole the –ling and tacked it onto the end of breed to get Breedling. I knew then I had my title, but one thing was still missing, what exactly was a Breedling. As the mythology unfolded and Bartholomew’s home world of Euxinus grew, I was able to answer that question. Breedlings are a race of Euxian creatures, created by the Fates to act as their soulcatchers. They are obedient and loyal servants. They do not experience human emotions, although they appear as mortal children. Bartholomew, however, is the exception to the rule.
Bartholomew, roughly served his masters, the Fates for five thousand years, and over the course of his service, he was the most dutiful, the most loyal, and most favored of all the Breedlings. He had a rather charming way about him others did not and an inquisitive nature encouraged by his mentor. Even with such gifts, Bartholomew never questioned his purpose for being or the way things were, at least not until one fateful night when he stumbled upon the answer to an ageless secret. A secret that if known would shake the very foundation of the mortal world and changed him forever.
From Chapter 19: Two Coins - Charlie and Bartholomew (now Buck) join Grocer Pawlak for dinner
Buck scans the small set of rooms. All the walls are light brown with a faded border of hounds hunting ducks in a pond. The textured ceiling is plagued with water stains. On the floor, several tattered rugs cover the cracking tile floor. Buck moves into the living room where a large window overlooks the street and sits down on the leather couch.
Charlie does the same, sinking deep into the broken cushions.
Grocer Pawlak joins the boys shortly thereafter, carrying two bowls. He places them both on the coffee table, then leaves the room to retrieve his own before rejoining them. He takes a seat in his newly upholstered armchair and invites the boys to dig in.
Buck is sad to see a creamy liquid, instead of the red tomato, but once the smells of onion, garlic and bay leaves reach his nose, his mouth waters. He laps up the creaminess, pausing every so often to chew the earthy flavor of what Charlie tells him is a mushroom.
“Damn boy, you slop that soup up any faster and you’ll be wearin’ it,” laughs Grocer Pawlak, sipping his soup with a spoon.
Buck stops, somewhat embarrassed by his ravenous behavior, and picks up his spoon.
“Are you boys thirsty?” asks Grocer Pawlak.
“Parched,” says Charlie. He blows on his soup before putting it into his mouth.
Grocer Pawlak gets out of his armchair and retrieves two clear bottles full of brown bubbling cola. He pops the tops off and hands them each one. Buck takes his with delight and slowly sips it savoring the bubbles. He giggles softly.
Grocer Pawlak smiles at Buck and then glances at Charlie noticing how tired he looks. “Oh, Charlie, I almost forgot,” he begins, taking a swig of his cola, “Father Van Lewen, called on you today, sometime after lunch, if I remember right. With all the people that came in and out of my store today—anyhow, he told me about the fire and Jimmy.”
Buck glances at Charlie, finding a swell of sadness grow on his face once more. He wonders if Charlie is going to cry again.
Charlie grimaces. His hope was to finish this day without having to talk about Jimmy. He keeps his eyes on the floor, not wanting to look at his portly friend. He hates feeling small around Grocer Pawlak, knowing with every facial expression, gesture, or word, the old man is judging him. Charlie slams his bottle onto the coffee table. The fizz shots up and foam explodes like a geyser. Still he will not lift his eyes to face the grocer.
“My sympathy, Charlie, Jimmy was a good kid.” Grocer Pawlak clears his throat and takes the final sip of his soup.
“Thank you,” mumbles Charlie. He feels no sincerity coming from the man’s so called sympathy.
“Yes, yes, sticky thing, fires. Anyway, Father Van Lewen wanted me to tell you he is holding a place for you if you are interested, but for now, I would like it if you spend the night. In the morning you can help me unload the truck and be on your way.”
Charlie lifts his head. “We have an accord, Sylvester,” he answers promptly, spitting into his
Grocer Pawlak does the same and they shake hands.
“You boys can take the couch and the armchair if you like,” says Grocer Pawlak.
Charlie gives an agreeing nod.
“Well, then,” Grocer Pawlak lets out a large yawn, “I best be saying goodnight.”
Charlie agrees. Today has been yet another long day.
Grocer Pawlak rises from his armchair, not even bothering to clean up the bowls or bottles sitting on the coffee table. He yawns again and pats his belly. He walks to the hidden hallway by the front door and pauses.
“Oops, I almost forgot,” he turns back to the couch and stretches his hand to Buck holding two silver coins in his palm.
Buck stares at the coins, not understanding what Grocer Pawlak wants him to do.
Charlie kicks Buck with his foot and nods his head for him to take them.
Buck takes the coins from the portly man’s chubby hand. “Thank you, Grocer Pawlak, you are most generous—but, if I may.”
Grocer Pawlak stands up tall, his stomach prominently sticking out. “I am sure Charlie has explained to you the rules.”
“The rules?” asks Buck.
Charlie kicks him again.
“Oh, yes, the rules, yes, he has told me several.”
“Marvelous, then I would like to give you one of my own. Now listen carefully, as I will only say it once. All service is rewarded, young Buck, whether by coin or favor. Therefore, if you do not mind, I would very much like to fall asleep to the sweet sound of your harmonica. Pending Charlie permits, of course.”
“I would like that,” says Charlie in a soft voice.
“Then by your request,” says Buck, “I shall play.”
About the Author:
Kimberlee Ann Bastian is a devoted swim coach and an enthusiastic writer who has a love affair with American nostalgia, pop culture, mythology, folklore, and endless possibilities. This melting pot of elements prompted the creation of her young adult contemporary fantasy "The Orphan, the Soulcatcher, and the Black Blizzard". It is her debut novel and the first in her epic ELEMENT ODYSSEYS.
When she is not on the pool deck cheering on her swimmers or typing on her computer in the late night hours, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and watching an incredible amount of television.
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