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Smashwords - Dreamshade
Benjamin Crosskeys always thought he was ordinary. But when he meets Lilac Zhenrei, a magical adventuress from a land of living dreams, he soon discovers he has reason to believe otherwise. For Benjamin has a rare and wonderful ability. And in an epic adventure, he will discover the price that comes with this gift, as he strives to save his family from a monster born of nightmares...
For a start, general chit-chat had revealed Strifer Dyne to be a gadget-freak. Not that being a gadget-freak was unusual, of course. No, the unusual bit came in the shape his two favourite gadgets - the flying saucer and the Victorian electric guitar - and what he told of certain other devices he claimed to own, such as boots that allowed the wearer to walk on walls and ceilings (which Benjamin thought was excellent), a radio which could pick up the noise of colours (which Benjamin thought was strange), and a remote-control unit for his clothes (which Benjamin couldn't understand, though it sounded intriguing). He had also vowed, he said, to get himself a similar control unit for his tattoos, and when the boy expressed nothing but utter incomprehension at this, he proceeded to demonstrate the second unusual thing that marked him as one of the more outlandish atulphi.
He turned away from the control console, held up an intricately illustrated arm, and told the boy to watch. "I need to get my mood right," he said. "Make sure they go fast enough for you to see." He tightened his fist, then loosened it, flexing his muscles in the process. The tattoos moved a little. Again he bunched his fist, and this time the tattoos shifted themselves into a completely new design. Where there had once been florid arabesques, there was now a pattern of flowers and wires. "That's the configuration of Gregorio's last repast," he explained, as if Benjamin was supposed to know what he meant. He then lowered his arm and shook it, at which the tattoos abruptly burst into hundreds of tiny commas that skittered, bug-like, around his skin before coming to rest as an image of criss-crossing, interlocking chains. "Great, huh?" he said, letting the arm drop. "But they're not all that compliant sometimes, which is why I need the remote," he continued. "They get aggressive when I'm around someone I don't like."