Necia Phoenix

SF & Fantasy Writer

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State of the Phoenix

Happy June.

So life has a habit of kicking our asses when we’re not expecting it. At this rate, I feel like it’s all that has been happening on our home front. Some things; first, I’ve noticed the website is being a brat when I try to load it, is this universal, or is it just my computer? If you have problems, please drop me a note so I can fix the site.

Life in general, well it’s been frustrating. My father in law passed away in April, we went back to Oklahoma for the funeral, and on returning my husband’s job slowed to a crawl. I’ve got a job interview tomorrow **crosses fingers** and we’re kindof struggling to figure out how we’re going to pay the bills. I usually try to keep this pretty neutral and keep as much of my personal life off of this site, but this stuff has severely and negatively affected my writing and editing.

I keep saying I need to write up a post on time management. Once I figure it out, lol.

Depression’s a bitch, and she’s been parked on my shoulders for the past year or two. It’s far beyond just being sad. This has been apathy, some very negative feelings about myself, my goals and my writing. Yes I’m working on myself. Yes I’ve got meds and yes I’ve got therapy. It’s one step at a time. One challenge at a time.

Right now my writing & pubbing goals are fairly simple;

  • Get E1 finished. I have some major rewriting to do at the end (I seem to have misplaced/lost edits I’d done of the last part of the book)
  • Get back on a schedule of some sort. I had a schedule for the site, I’d like to get that going again.
  • Get myself back to writing regularly. Once upon a time 3k a day was my norm. If I don’t hit that I feel guilty/angry and frustrated. I need to ease up on myself. My new goal is 400 words. The past couple of days I’ve been playing with a new shiny and that seems to be helping out a lot.
  • Stop being hard on myself. If I saw someone talking to/treating another writer the way I mentally treat me, I would blow up at them. I need to ease up out of my own face. (try to visualize that one!)
  • Play with digi art more. I’d been working really hard on new covers, getting some real progress done on my digi art stuff when it ground to a halt. I want to get back to that. I truly love it and I’ve got some pictures I’d love to tackle.

I want to have E1 finished and up for sale by the end of the summer. I want to get it put up in print. Right now that’s really all I plan on working on. Once that’s done, I’ll re-evaluate things and go from there.

I’d had a request a while back to put some of the digi art on things like mousepads, bookmarks, etc. I can’t find the email, and I didn’t write down who (I apologize) but I did go ahead and put together a zazzle store. Right now it’s a bit empty, but I’ll be adding more stuff the next couple of weeks. You can go check it out over here.

So Wednesday there should be a new chapter posted, here and wattpad, and hopefully new digi stuff by this weekend.

I hope you all have a great week.

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 30

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Anil, runner of Delebeg, crept in the shadows of the buildings near the bay. He frowned as he watched the fancy dressed nobles rushing by, their business a mystery to him. He patted the message tube gently and waited. When the sun began to set, and the upper class were replaced by the lowly workers returning to their homes, that was when it was safe to leave his little corner.

Lorn was a city of ideas. A city of sins, some whispered. He pulled a strip of travel meat from his other pouch, munching on it. Time dragged and when the sun finally started to set, Anil’s legs were numb. He shook it off, creeping from the shadows.

For those who paid attention, at the base of the buildings, blue glyphs gave a faint glow. Anil glanced around and ducked his head down towards his chest, hunching his back. He’d look like a homeless beggar to anyone watching. The glyphs were irregular, one here, one four buildings down, the next one, two, there was no pattern to how they were spaced and there were hundreds, possibly thousands in this part of Nekar. Inside each glyph was a series of dots. Each one was different. He was looking for a certain pattern set in front of a house he’d been to once before. He scowled, glancing up and down the rapidly emptying street, unsure of which house it was. It was this neighborhood. He was certain of it.

The sun had sunk below the horizon by the time he found it, and he stole a glance up at the building, nodding to himself. The tallest, most extravagant building this side of Lorn. The Bavanan Embassy, known for it’s flamboyant master, Lord Xeresel. He swallowed, and followed the building around to the back entry. The marks on the door, the strange swaying script of the Bavanan, would move if he looked at it for too long. It hurt his eyes.

He wiped his hands on his breeches before knocking. After a moment a tall, fair skinned woman with golden curls framing her overlarge blue-green eyes, opened the door sending a sweet scent in his directing. Her strangely slanted eyes narrowed when she saw him and she stepped back, out of the doorway. She bowed her head, motioning him inside with a fluid sweep of her arm. He swallowed and stepped inside, feeling like a bumbling fool, unable to look away from the Bavanan woman. Her ears were delicate, with a high point, and several gold loops lined them, from tip to earlobe. She tipped her head to one side, a pale yellow curl falling over her face.

“This way.” Her voice, heavily accented, was like music.

He followed her, trying to shake off the glamour, the magic that saturated the place. He’d forget her, he was sure, the moment he left the building. The magic would make sure of that. She led him to a large circular room and then left with a silent bow. A round table dominated the room that was lined with bookshelves. Anil realized he was breathing heavily and closed his eyes, forcing himself to calm down. In Delebeg, the books were reserved for the palace. Not exactly outlawed, but there were whispers that Lord Chiron was going to refuse all but his household, the right to own books and scrolls. Once calm he opened his eyes and stepped back in surprise.

“Well met, Anil. Welcome again, to my home.” Lord Xeresel, the ambassador from Bavanan was leaning against the table. Anil bowed and pulled the message tube out. Lord Xeresel frowned and held up his hand. “Come with me to a far more private room. There are many little mice about.”

“Here? In the embassy?” Anil asked, breathless. Lord Xeresel inclined his head. Like the woman who opened the door, Lord Xeresel was pale skinned, his long white gold hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, his eyes a pale blue. He was tall, wiry, and like the woman, wore gold hoops in his pointed ears. Anil followed him out the door and down a confusing maze of corridors, somehow ending up in a small, windowless room with two low chairs and a small oblong table in between them. As Anil sat, a man entered carrying a tray set with several cups, a plate of sweet breads and a steaming pot.

Anil frowned. Human, not Bavanan. His dark hair was long, hung loose, almost to the waist, and his skin was nicely tanned. He was dressed in simple breeches and white tunic that was gathered at the wrists. He nodded towards Anil as he set the tray down. Anil studied him as he turned to the Ambassador. There was a look of absolute adoration on the young man’s face before it smoothed away.

“Do you need anything else, my lord?” His voice low, but deep. Lord Xeresel smiled warmly at him.

“Prepare a room for our esteemed guest. I will call if I need anything else, Aziz.”

Aziz bowed low, turned and left, shutting the door behind him.

“You must be famished, Anil.” Lord Xeresel spread his hands out, indicating the tray.

“Thank you my lord.” Anil pulled out the feather and handed it to Xeresel. He watched as the Ambassador slowly spun the feather between his long fingers, expression thoughtful.

“You have heard the bad news, I take it?”

“The execution of the Prince? Aye.” Anil hesitated, meeting the Bavanan’s eyes.

“It will only be the beginning. You can tell the gracious lady that.” He set the feather to one side, resting his elbow on the arm of his chair. “It would be best, Anil, if you return to Delebeg and stay out of Nekar proper.”

“My Lord?” Anil hesitated in the process of taking a bite of a sweet bread.

“A storm is brewing, over all of Nekar. The further you are from the Oracle, the safer you will be.” He lifted a sweet bread, studying it as closely as he’d studied the feather. “Safeguard Lady Veino.”

Anil swallowed hastily. “Do you think she is in danger?”

The Ambassador gave a barely perceptible shrug. “I think it would be wise to take every precaution.” He flashed a smile at Anil. “Now, you have traveled far to reach Lorn, and seen much. Please, tell me about the trip.”

~*~

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Chapter 29                                Table of Contents

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 29

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier kept the borrowed hood over his head as he made his way through the crowded streets of Lorn. The largest of the coastal cities in Nekar, it was a center of trade and sported freedoms other cities’ no longer had. In his youth, Tier had loathed it and the influence of the visiting cultures. Now, he wasn’t so sure it deserved his disdain.

It was a bustling city, and at any moment he feared he’d see someone who would recognize him. It had taken close to three seven days to get to Lorn, through the mountains, and now that he was here, he feared he’d made a mistake. The docks were a bustle of activity, Tier leaned against a building trying to gather his thoughts. He had to get north, out of the country. His best bet would be to take a ship to Tyrsleth and then passage on a river barge to Sandau, to warn Xin and Geb to get out.

He didn’t want to think about the logistics, not yet. He wasn’t sure how he was going to manage it all. He pushed from the wall, glancing towards the podium where the Harbor Master observed the comings and goings of the ships and their crews. If anyone knew who was going north, he would. Tier hoped the man wouldn’t recognize him.

“I need a ship.” He spoke in a low voice.

“Aye? What?” He barely looked in Tier’s direction, he was fiddling with a coin on the podium.

“I need a ship to Tyrsleth.” Tier said. The Harbor Master’s hand stilled and he turned. His cataract hazed eyes widened and he swallowed.

“Yer sposed to be dead,” His voice was rough.

Tier swallowed, wondering if he should turn and run. A single word raised would alert the ever present guards that patrolled the harbor. “I need to get to Tyrsleth, as quickly as possible.”

The Harbor Master nodded slowly, and glanced around, fingers drumming on the podium. “Come on lad,” he motioned Tier to follow him. “The whole empire is shaking from your, err, death.”

“No one can know I’m not dead.” Tier gripped the man’s shoulder. The Harbor Master bobbed his head several times.

“No one will know. Yer secret is safe with me.” He pointed to a ship at the end of a long dock. “The Prancing Dragon. Captain Kerga runs a tight ship, don’t usually deal with passengers,”

“Then why,”

“Because she’s got no ties here, yer highness.” The Harbor Master hissed, half turning. He gave a gap-toothed grin. “Because you deserve better than a pole.”

The Harbor Master led him on the deck, and Tier felt his stomach do an uneasy flop. He could feel the motion of the ship on the water, and he didn’t care for it in the least.

“Aye! Cor, where’s Kerga?” The Harbor Master yelled.

A short, slim woman strode over. She glanced Tier’s way and dismissed him, focusing on the Harbor Master.

“She’s in her cabin, restin. Why?” The woman’s voice was a soft, an oddly familiar burr. Tier frowned, staring at her hard. Were her dark hair longer, her eyes a lighter gray, she could be Xin’s twin or older sister. He swallowed, glancing back at the Harbor Master.

“Just to Tyrsleth, Cor. I’ll pay,”

“Wait,” Tier started, the man shook his head.

“Yer not gonna argue me out of it, Tier. I owe ye, lad.”

Tier hissed a curse, shaking his head. The woman was staring at him, her eyes narrow.

“Tier?” Her voice hard.

“Cor, take us to the captain lass. I’ll explain below deck.” He waggled a finger at Tier. “No arguments, either.”

 

Captain Kerga was a tall woman with a cap of bright red curls and vivid blue eyes. She listened to what the Harbor Master was proposing while eying Tier. There was something about the way she watched him that made him uneasy. The silence stretched as she drummed her fingers on the surface of her desk.

“That’s a hefty cut you’re takin, Vourum.”

The man shrugged, hand clamped on Tier’s shoulder. “You know, as do I, why this is important.” He looked at Tier. “In some circles yer a martyr.”

Tier shook his head. “Crazy.”

“In others a hero.” Kerga leaned back, propping her booted feet on the desk. “Officially yer a traitor.”

“I am no traitor.” Tier snarled. Kerga smiled.

“That remains to be seen.” She stretched, hands behind her head, staring up at the ornately carved beams overhead. “Lets say I agree, the ships patrolling the coast,”

“As far as everyone is concerned, he’s dead.” Cor spoke up. She’d been leaning against one wall, fiddling with a rope. “If there were any whispers that he might have escaped, it would spread like wildfire in the dry grass.”

“True. Depending on who knows.” Kerga leaned forward, the legs of her chair hitting the floor with a loud thump. “I’ll not put my crew, nor my ship at risk, understand? First sign that you’re bringing trouble, yer overboard I dunna care how far from land we are.”

“Understood.” Tier’s heart was pounding in his ears.

“Discretion, Kerga.” The Harbor Master said quickly.

“I’m not a dunce, Vourum.” Her eyes flickered towards Cor. Tier didn’t dare look towards the slim woman.

“My apologies, I never meant to imply you were.” The Harbor Master tossed her a small bag and turned to Tier. “I’ve a friend up in Tyrsleth, Moya. She’ll put you up while you figure what yer gonna do next.”

“Why?” Tier asked, ignoring the two women.

“Why what?”

“Why, this?”

“I said I owed ya, more than you’ll ever realize.” He gave a gap-toothed grin and held out his hand for a handshake. Tier hesitated before taking his hand. On the back of his hand was a pale blue filigree tattoo that reminded Tier of glyph drawings. “Yer very existence is a slap in the face of that dead-eyed bitch. I like being a part of that.” The Harbor Master bowed low. “Good luck.”

Tier watched him leave before turning to the women catching the amused look they exchanged.

“Find him a space Cor.” Kerga said, pulling over some papers. “I’ve got some paperwork to catch up on.”

Cor nodded, glanced at Tier, and motioned him to follow her.

“We don’t usually take passengers, don’t have any special quarters for em. There’s a bit of a small space you can use.” She glanced at him.

“How long does it usually take to reach Tyrsleth?” Tier asked as they went down the steep steps into the belly of the ship.

“Few weeks, if weather is good, but we have a couple stops between here and there.” She half turned to him. “While we’re in Port, here or further north, stay below deck. It’d be safer that way.”

Tier inclined his head. What else could he do? His life was in their hands.

~*~

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Chapter 28                                Table of Contents                  Chapter 30

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Where am I headed and why am I in this handbasket?

The one-two punches never cease. I’m trying to rearrange my schedule to accomodate the life changes we keep getting thrown. I don’t do well with back to back upsets.

I’ve flat out stalled on E1, and I apologize to my readers. We just had a combo of sick kids and sudden death in my family in oklahoma. Now that we’re back from that unexpected trip, I’m trying to get back on track.

More updates as I figure out what I’m doing and how to do what needs to be done.

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State of the NPhoenix, an update, and future plans.

Happy Early Ostara to those who celebrate it! (Or Mabon[I think] if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)

So there are some things I’m having to change. Plans schedules and whatnot. First of all, because of some things one of my kids is going through, I’ve had to prioritize him and his needs over everything else. Now that he’s where he’s getting the help he needs, I’m able to readjust my schedule and reorganize my plan for 2015.

Elemental Truth.

I sat down a few days ago and did a full read through of E1, from the front to back. And I discovered something sorta distressing about the back end, which I’m working on right now. It is nowhere near where I thought it was completion wise. There are several things I need to rewrite/fix to make it a rounded tale. So where does that put the serial? I thought I’d get it done and have it up for sale by the first. And tbh if I didn’t have other things going on in my life, I would have. But it wouldn’t have been what I want it to be. It wouldn’t have done justice to the story I’m trying to tell. It wouldn’t have been the best I can do with it. I don’t want that. My readers don’t deserve a half assed attempt. I went with self-pubbing so I could control my schedule. I need to remind myself of this.

I’m going to cut the serial postings to once a week. I know, I know, it’s been sporadic as it is, and for that I apologize. Reducing my stress level is a big thing for me right now. So I think I’ll be posting chapters around Tuesday or Wednesday.

When it is done, it will be offered up for sale on the usual sites and I’m planning on going through Createspace to do a print version also.

Blog

It has suffered from neglect. I admit that. I’m working on putting together some more posts to get back on a schedule. I would love any suggestions for topics.

Other Projects & this year’s writing/pubbing plan.

I decided that this year is the year of the series. What that means, to put it simply, is that my focus is going to be on getting my series written and up for sale. The Avaria series, the Elemental series to start with. I have a lot planned. It’s time to get them done.

Flash Friday. I haven’t done that in so long, and I want to get back to doing that too. ATM it would be sporadic though, E1 is my main focus with the Zander tales on it’s heels ready to be finished. I’m not sure I can spread my attention that far.

ATM I don’t have dates down for when stuff will be out. I am going to be trying to guesstimate that this week, and put up the announcement or somesuch next week.

Real Life

To give you a rundown, and I feel I owe explanations to my readers. My 14 year old got caught up in a very bad situation last summer. What followed was lots of court stuff, him being in juvie, and then at home monitoring, and trying to get to the bottom of what seems like a 180 degree change in attitude. Currently he is in a special inpatient program which is helping him address his issues (drug & alcohol and mental illness such as depression & PTSD) and we are doing our best to cope with the fact that the kid we knew is not who he is now. It’s a tough thing to accept but we are doing our best.

Thoughts, prayers, candles lit, Buddha’s belly being rubbed are all appreciated. I worry that his bright star will be forever dimmed by this. Then again I am a worry wort, so I may be over-stressing.

Hug your families. Hug your friends. Let people you care about KNOW that you care about them. You never know what might happen tomorrow. Don’t put it off.

NPhoenix

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 28

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

“In times of desperation, our abilities can do amazing things.” Water Master Euka lifted his hands. A large bubble of water lifted slowly out of the river, the sunlight shining through it, casting rainbows on the grass. “From what you’ve told me, every time you’ve used your powers on your travel, it was in response to danger.”

Xin nodded. He was a thin, small man with a roughly cut bowl of thick black hair. He motioned her over. “Like your mother, you haven’t been able to practice, to experiment, have you? She’d barely learned how to lift water from the river.”

“I only practiced in hiding. And late at night.” She said.

She too would hide at night and in storms to play. She was a fast learner though.” Water Master Euka chuckled. “And a bit of a trickster.”

“I have only faint memories of my mother.” Xin said slowly. It was strange hearing someone talk about her mother. And in a favorable light no less.

“There is a lifetime of catching up to do. There is no rush though, Xin. No rush at all. She regretted her inability to retrieve you.” He patted her arm and then made a sweeping motion with his hand. The water blob dropped back into the river and the water in the river rose in a huge crest, hovering before crashing back down into its bank and settling.

“I want you to practice, get used to the feel of the water, you’ve had to hide it to survive. Now to survive you must master it, control it.” Another blob of water lifted and shaped into a plate shape and froze. “Practice with the different aspects of water, you do know what those are, right?”

“Liquid, solid, steam.”

The little man sniffed and nodded, the ice melted and then dissolved into a small cloud. “I want you to practice that.” It became a big blob of water again and splashed back into the river. “Now.”

Xin nodded and lifted a blob of water. This was more than just playing. She focused on the water willing it to freeze. A shell appeared on the outer layer, slowly. She frowned trying to focus harder, the blob stayed half frozen. A blob of slush.

“Not bad.”

“It won’t freeze.” She said. “I’ve frozen things before.”

“How often have you tried to do this particular exercise?”

She frowned.

“Exactly. There is no desperation, no danger. This is all focus and conscious effort.” She felt him wrest the ice blob out of her grip and tossed it into the river. “You have to build up the skill and the stamina to use your gifts fully.”

“I’ll try to remember that.”

“It is a lot to remember. It is a lot of change. Walk with me.” The old man led her along the walkway beside the river. “Your mother has no affinity for healing, do you?”

“I’ve never tried.”

He sighed. “One can always hope, we’ll test you later, though with the traveling you’ve done, I would think you would have unlocked that ability.” He pointed towards the Spirit Elemental dome. “Each element has areas of specialty. Water is usually ice, steam, or healing. Earth used to have crystal shapers and metal manipulators, if the legends are true. Proficiency is rare these days. Kera,”

“The Seeress?”

He spat to the side. “She is no Seeress, she is a charlatan, a trickster. A manipulator. She killed the strongest of us. Wiped out a generation of healers, crystal shapers, metal workers. The elementals will never fully recover. Did you know the Air Dancers had floaters? Before I met Aitelle, I thought all of them had been wiped out. The greatest of the Fire Elementals, the Fire Lords, used to have the ability to do what is called a Holy Flame.” Water Master Euka turned to her. “Legends tell of spectacular deeds done by the Holy Flame.”

“What is it, exactly?”

“No one knows. There hasn’t been a Fire lord who can do it in, well if legends are correct, since before the Seer War.” He chuckled. “There are those who whisper that Nesh is powerful enough to use it, but I’ve never seen it personally.”

Xin shook her head. “We were told the elementals were all extinct. My own grandfather tried to stone me.”

The Water Master patted her arm. “You are safe now. Come, let’s go over to the training field. Nesh teaches the young fire elementals. It is an interesting process, if a bit dangerous.”

“Dangerous?”

“Fire, Xin. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get your eyebrows singed off.”

 

They found Lord Nesh crouched in the training field, surrounded by a group of children whispering and laughing. Nesh’s hands were outstretched and in his hand was a man-shaped flame walking across his palms. The children giggled and laughed as the little flame danced and then did cartwheels across his hands. The Water Master nodded in his direction, speaking in a low voice.

“The last true Fire Lord. His family has been in power in Sandau since before the war of the Seers. He’s far more powerful than his sire, or his grandsire for that matter. Some whisper he is like the great Fire Lords of old.”

Xin watched the Fire Lord, silently comparing him to Tier and shook herself. There was no comparison and it was stupid. Tier was never coming back. She had to move on. Lord Nesh stepped back nodding at the children who lined up in front of him, hands out. Some were able to conjure up little fire-men of their own, some were having trouble getting much more than flaring sparks.

“He’s been teaching the young ones since he mastered his own abilities.” The Water Master murmured.

“He seems good with children.” Xin observed.

“Aye.”

Lord Nesh noticed them, eyebrows arching, he said something to the children and then headed over.

“I see your eyebrows have grown back.” The Water Healer called, chuckling.

“Thanks to you.” Lord Nesh grinned and glanced at Xin. “Training children to use fire can be dangerous at times.”

“I can imagine.” Xin watched the little ones struggling to keep the little flames in their hands from going out. “Aren’t they a bit young?”

“That’s why they must be trained.” Lord Nesh nodded towards a little girl closest to them, no more than six possibly seven years old. “She’ll be a master if she can get the basics down. But fire is dangerous. We must keep control at all times, lest it gets away from us.”

“I can see how that could be a problem.”

“It is a serious matter.” Lord Nesh looked down at her. “And how are you settling in?”

Xin looked away and shrugged. “It’s busier here than Dhaul.”

“It is. If there’s anything I can do, just let me know.”

Before she could respond a man called for him from the crest of the low hill overlooking the river. Nesh waved once and glanced towards Euka and Xin.

“Excuse me, Euka, can you make sure they don’t singe each other?” He didn’t wait, turning and making his way at a half run to meet the messenger.

Xin watched him as he spoke with the messenger and the two disappeared over the hill. Euka had made his way over to the children speaking gently. The flames went out and they bowed, turned and filed away.

 

“We found this in the house you were assigned to when you first arrived.” The young man set the small bag on the table. Xin felt her mouth go dry, barely acknowledging Aitelle coming over. It was Tier’s bag, the smaller one. She opened it with nerveless fingers, frowning as she pulled out some of his papers.

“Why would he have left this?” She asked no one in particular. The papers were notes, some in Nekarian, some in other language, all in a similar script. At the bottom was the book and the small box he’d found in Dhaul. Xin held the box, staring at the top of it. Important enough to take with him only to leave it behind?

“Xin, what is it?” Aitelle’s voice broke through her daze.

“These are important papers.” She lifted the book, “He called this a treasure of the royal family.” She looked at Aitelle. “Why would he leave it behind?”

Aitelle took the book, carefully flipping through the pages. “I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be all that important, does it?”

Xin put the papers back, carefully replacing everything.

“He didn’t want her to get her hands on it.” Geb whispered.

Xin stared at Geb, heart pounding in her ears. “Of course.” She closed the bag, glanced at Aitelle. “Please, don’t mention this.”

“Xin, what is it?”

“I’m not sure.” She took the bag up to her room, setting at the foot of her bed, then went to the window staring towards the horizon. Fear for him, for what she’d do to him brought tears to her eyes.

~*~

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Chapter 27                                   Table of Contents                          Chapter 29

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 27

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Estate of the Hassof Family

 

 

Rale felt as though he were swimming through a murky pool of water, trying to reach the surface, and failing miserably. He heard a whisper, the sounds of metal clinking and the loud creak of rusty hinges. His head was too heavy to turn, his eyes felt sealed shut. He couldn’t control his body. Fear raged inside him. Someone was there, was it her? He hoped it wasn’t, prayed she wouldn’t notice him. If he was quiet enough, maybe she’d go away. His mind was raw and sore. A wound gouged into his thoughts.

“Rale?” The voice echoed from a long dark passage. Female. Not her! Something cool, smelling like mint, was pressed against his forehead. A gentle palm pressed against his cheek. He smelled the perfume, light and floral. Her name swam up from the depths of his mind; Aryanda. His elder sister. He struggled to open his eyes, to say something. He heard a low groan and realized it was from him.

“There isn’t much time, Arya, hurry up.” A male voice, clipped and cultured, spoke. It was oddly familiar, though the name of the man elluded him.

“Rale, you have to get up.” Arya whispered. How could she sound so musical when she was whispering?

“Arya?” was that his voice? That cracked sound?

“It’s me. Open your eyes, we don’t have much time.” This time she shook him and pain shot through his body, from his back to his head. He groaned opened his eyes, staring up at her. Dark hair framing dark, concerned eyes.

“Where are we?” The words didn’t sound right. He tried again. “What happened?” He pushed himself up, glad for her help. He cringed when her hand touched his stinging back.

“Home. For now at least. She had me collect you.” Arya “She is expecting to come get you to finish her inquiries.”

Rale stared at her, memories rushing back. He’d hit the floor before Tier had. Rale swallowed. “Where’s Tier?”

Arya looked down, her voice a bare whisper. “She had him executed four days ago.” She looked back up, tears on her cheeks. “There are whispers purging the entire noble line. We have to get you out.”

“Out? We?” He blinked looking past her. Leaning against the wall near the door, arms crossed in front of him was a pale man in dark clothing.

“Xeresel has arranged for you to return to Sandau.” Arya handed him a tunic. He blinked realizing he wore only his underthings. Xeresel? Ambassador Xeresel? He stared at man, ignoring Arya’s attempts to get him out of the cot.

“What is a Bavanan sorcerer doing involving himself in Nekarian politics?” He demanded. Starting to get to his feet. A wave of dizzy swept over him and he plopped back to the cot.

“Saving your ass at the moment. Or trying to. Get dressed, Lord Rale. You are running on borrowed time.”

Rale numbly took his pants, pulling them on, and leaned against Arya as he fumbled with the belt. Lord Xeresel was said to be a powerful sorcerer related to the Queen of Bavanan herself. It was also rumored that he was a spy. Rale swallowed, staring at the man, wondering how much of the rumor might actually be true. He blinked, noticing a pale blue line of pulsing light running along the lines around the room. Next to Xeresel, on the wall, the light formed a circular pattern. Magic Glyph. He’d only heard of those in stories. Rale stared up at the man.

“Why?”

Xeresel gave a faint smile, leaning forward. “Because Arya asked so nicely. Hurry up my lord, we are running out of time.”

Rale took the boots Arya handed him and struggled to get them on his feet as she spoke.

“After we leave, go down to the stables. In the last stall is your horse, all ready to go. In the saddlebags are travel papers and money and a message for the Lady Launi.” Arya gave him a tight hug. “If I can, I’ll send messages through Moya in Tyrsleth.”

Rale got to his feet, fighting his churning stomach. “Arya, you are putting yourselves at risk, you can’t stay also,”

“I can’t leave. Not yet.” She gave a forced smile. “Too much going on.”

“Trust me, Rale, we have done far more than this to garner the Seeress’s wrath.” Xeresel said looking down at his fingernails.

Rale looked back and forth between them. “Like what?”

“There’s no time, Rale.” Arya embraced him quickly. “Someday, we’ll talk and I’ll explain.” She went to the door, resting hand on the doorknob.

“Good luck, my lord.” Xeresel extended a hand towards Rale.

Rale took the man’s hand, trying not to wince when Xeresel squeezed. The Bavanan man stepped back as the light receded, crawling back along the wall towards the round glyph which Xeresel covered with his palm. When he followed Arya out the door, the glyph vanished. Rale glanced at his hand and almost yelled, biting his lip at the last minute. Pulsing on his palm was a blue glyph. He touched it with his finger but he felt nothing but his skin.

“The spell will last long enough to get you out of Nekar unrecognized, but you must hurry. She can see right through it.” Xeresel’s voice was somber.

Rale looked up and felt chills working up his spine. Xeresel was no where to be seen. Neither was Arya. He stumbled to the door glancing at the two huddled forms beside it. Guards, sleeping, at least he hoped they were sleeping. He took a deep breath, and half ran, half stumbled down the hall like a drunken man. Sandau, Lady Launi, Xin, and Geb, the only things going through his mind. And the knowledge that he would have to tell Xin that Tier was dead. He swallowed. He couldn’t think about that now. He had to get out of Nekar.

~*~

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Chapter 26                                   Table of Contents

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 26

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier struggled to open his eyes and regretted it. Before him stretched the brown sands of the Desert of Koursh, broken only by execution poles with dark huddled mounds at their bases. Heat rippled through the air, tricking the eye into believing there was standing water in the distance. His shoulders ached, his wrists were tied so tight he could barely feel his fingers. His heart pounded in his ears. In front of him, just half a man’s length from his boots, were his weapons and beside them a large water skin. Torture. To die knowing water was just out of reach. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the pole he was secured to.

Icy cold air heralded the arrival of the local ghosts. He opened his eyes again, staring at the hazy, indistinct shapes. They simply looked at him, hollows for eyes. Waiting for him to join them no doubt.

“Either help me out of this, or go away!” He growled. A wind he didn’t feel made the shapes dissolve, leaving him alone.

He tried to twist his hands behind him, swearing under his breath. The ropes barely budged, though he could grip his weak thumb with his hand. He stared at the clear blue sky and jerked as hard as he could. Pain shot up his arm twisting his gut. He slowly twisted his hand, gritting his teeth as bit by bit the rope slid over his thumb. Time suspended, narrowing down to pain and the creeping rope that held him against the rough pole. After an eternity his hand slipped free, loosening the rope around his other hand. He grunted, pushing away from the pole and moving his arms back to his sides. Tingles ran up and down them as blood flooded starved veins.

With gritted teeth he popped his thumb back into place, swearing again, and struggled to get to his feet. His body felt like lead, his head pounded. His tunic, cloak, armor, everything was gone. He half stumbled to his weapons and the precious water skin, crouching as he lifted it in trembling hands. He took a sip, enough to wet his parched mouth and jammed the stopper back in it. He had to save it. He stared at the weapons then looked around, fighting a wave of dizziness and nausea.

He was off the pole. Now what?

The question loomed in his mind. Where could he go? No doubt word had spread. There was no telling what that little bitch had told his people. He gathered his weapons, glancing around, the hair on the back of his neck prickling. There was no telling when the guards assigned to the valley were going to come back this way. He’d need to get out of the desert fast. South was the coast, north was the capitol, the palace and the oracle. He rubbed his forehead. He hadn’t felt any pressure since he woke.

She must not realize he was still alive. He stared towards the south, trying to remember the layout of the land. On the other side of the mountains was Lorn and the port. He could take a ship. He frowned. Where? The islands?

Nekar was being mobilized his father had said, they were going to march on Sandau. Tier nodded to himself. He had to go to Sandau. He’d have to go the long way, a ship up the eastern coast to Tyrsleth then south to Sandau. The plains city wasn’t capable of taking a siege. He needed to get Xin out. Or at least warn her. He tried not to think of what Launi had told him, tried not to think about what had happened when he faced Kera. He wondered what had befallen Rale and pushed that thought away. If he thought too hard about it, he might come apart and he didn’t have the luxury of time. He looked around one last time before heading towards the distant southern mountains.

Each step jarred his back, made the throbbing in his hand worse. Fear raged through him. Fear for his sister and father, even concern for his brother wiggled into each thought. He hoped they wouldn’t suffer on his account. He had done the impossible. Stopped the Kera from reading his mind, in fact he’d read hers. Shudders ran through him as the realization crashed down on him, chilling him beneath the unrelenting sun. Her memories were locked in his mind. He feared examining them too closely. He was afraid of what he’d find.

~*~

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Chapter 25                                      Table of Contents                   Chapter 27

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 25

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

The air was cool and held a hint of autumn. Mist blanketed the valley and from the center of it rose the Oracle. He gritted his teeth and nodded a silent greeting to Rale. They stood before the closed gates, staring up at the insignia. The only sound was the haunting melody that was so familiar.

“Where are the priests?” Rale asked. He was unshaven and had a pallor to his skin that made him look ill.

“I don’t know.” Tier glanced up at the wall. No movement, nothing. He stepped over, raising his hand to knock on the gate when it swung silently inward.

In the center of the courtyard stood a small robed figure, not much taller than the Seeress. Thin hands reached up, pushing the hood of the robe back revealing a very pale, blue eyed woman with a crown of white gold hair. Her robes once fine silks that might have been blue, were tattered and worn, moving about her in a wind he couldn’t feel. Tier swallowed, desperately wishing for a drink.

“Prince Tier.” The woman tipped her head to one side. Tier felt a brush against his mind, like butterfly wings, and pushed back at it. Her eyebrows arched and an odd smile crossed her lips before she peered at Rale. “Lord Rale. You are both late.”

“Where are the Priests?” Rale’s voice had a high pitched edge to it. She chuckled, the sound did nothing to ease Tier’s discomfort.

“The Festival of Hope draws them south to the coast this time of year.” Her voice was so low that Tier had to strain just to hear her.

“And you are?” Rale was frowning at her.

“Kit.” Tier answered for her, chills running up his spine as her remembered the old stories whispered in taverns and round campfires. The mind-breaker. The Voice of the Seeress. Rale went paler and swayed on his feet. She inclined her head slowly not looking away from Tier.

“That is what they call me, yes.” She made a slow circle around them, her hands pressed together in front of her. “You were sent for Elementals.”

“We were unable to bring them with us.” Tier said as she stepped in front of him and looked up at him. Her eyes were familiar, but he couldn’t remember from when.

“She will not be pleased.” Kit said after a moment. She shook her head and motioned towards the corridor leading to the Seeress’s room. “It is time.”

“I did as she asked.” Tier crossed his arms. She turned back to look up at him, her expression impossible to read.

“Yes, you did. Hopefully, for your sakes, she’ll remember her part.” She looked at Rale for a long moment before motioning them again to go down the corridor. Rale sighed and went, Tier stayed rooted, staring at the her.

“She waits for you, your highness.” The soft voice was hypnotic.

“Will she honor her part?”

Kit looked up at him and again he felt the butterfly wings brushing his mind. He pushed back, scowling and she smiled.

“I can’t answer that, your highness. She is not in a good mood.” Her voice never rose, yet it chilled him further. She knew what he could do. He nodded and followed Rale into the silent Oracle.

Each step echoed against the walls and the pressure he’d felt since returning to Nekar grew stronger. When they reached the inner sanctum, Tier could barely see. Pain shot through his head as the Seeress entered the room. His eyes locked on her, struck again by how young she looked. This creature was over a thousand years old? Two thousand? She stared at him, her blank eyes boring into his. He felt the pressure increase and could almost feel her fingers clawing at his mind.

He shuddered, unable to stop himself. He was certain she was trying to get into his mind.

“You failed.” Her voice, harsh and brittle compared to Kit’s soft tones, crawled over his skin. Her movements were less fluid than before, far more agitated.

“You said if we couldn’t bring them back,” Rale began. The Seeress turned her head and Rale gripped the sides of his head with a hoarse cry. Tier took a half step towards his cousin and then glared at the Seeress.

“We were hindered by another like you.” Tier said, somehow his shakes faded as she looked back at him, eyes wide. His fear faded, anger beginning to boil. This little creature had held Nekar in the palm of her hand for centuries. Even now his father was acting not on his own but in response to her. The pressure he’d felt since arriving back home was the Seeress, he was certain of it.

“There are no others like me.” She whispered. Tier was aware of the tattered robed Kit kneeling beside Rale.

“She called herself Launi.” Tier continued. Kit looked towards him but his kept his gaze on the Seeress. Kera, he reminded himself, her name was Kera. “She seemed to feel you were not entirely truthful with me when you asked me to look for elementals.”

“Did she?”

On the ground Rale groaned.

“Father informed me that you told him I was looking for a General’s daughter. That is not what you asked us to do.”

“Are you questioning me?” Her voice cold. On the ground Rale groaned.

“Yes I am.” He gripped his sword belt, his palms sweaty. He was a dead man already, he could see it on her face, he might as well give her a piece of his mind. “I was sent away from my duties under false pretenses. I have a war I am fighting, my men need me there. Not traipsing around the world looking for elementals who are not as extinct as we have been led to believe they were. How many other lies have you told our people?” Pressure upon pressure on his skull dropped him gasping to his knees. He glared up at her. She knelt, her fingernail scraping his cheek.

“You presume much, your highness.” She whispered hoarsely.

“Do I?” He narrowed his eyes. “Grandmother?”

For a brief moment the pressure stopped, he heard a gasp, the white faded from her eyes revealing a pale blue, like the woman from the mural. The pressure and the white returned and his cheek felt hot along where her fingernail had traced. Pain, white hot shot through his cheek.

“You have outlived your usefulness, your highness. Open your mind to me and I might see fit to spare your life.”

“And let you control my every movement? No thank you.” He whispered. Pain blazed again, but this time on his back. He jerked forward arching his back blindly attempting to ease the pain. The Seeress cupped his face in her hands, her fingernails biting into his skin.

“Let. Me. In.”

Tier closed his eyes, feeling the claws in his head. “No.” Anger welled up, flaring around him and for a moment, when he opened his eyes and met hers, he saw. A thousand years of lies, experiences, births, deaths, the building of an empire and behind it all were the shadowed images of people he didn’t recognize.

Time rolled beneath him, the war of the Seers, a conflict which had stretched for thousands of years had come to a head. It had been they, the spirit elementals, the sisters, not the elementals, that nearly tore their world apart. Darkness clouded his vision and he felt himself falling.

“Traitor.” Her voice echoed in his mind even as the darkness crowded around him. “Take him to the desert.”

 

 

Water dripped in the distance. Kit stared at the place the two men had lain, her mind whirring. Unexpected. Very unexpected. Kera paced behind her, hands clenched at her sides.

“How could he have found out?” Kera rasped. “It’s impossible, no one could have figured it out!”

Kit didn’t answer. She kept her secrets tightly behind a public wall of nonsensical thoughts. Kera had long grown weary trying to batter through it, the centuries had left the Seeress a touch lazy.

“Kit!”

Kit looked at her, pulling her robes tightly around her. “What?”

“Go with the army to Sandau. I want Launi brought here in chains.”

Kit inclined her head and watched Kera make her way back into the private area. Behind her heavy footfalls and the jingling of armor announced the arrival of the Oracle Guards. They went out of their way to avoid Kera if they could. Kit listened to them shuffling uncomfortably.

“My lady?” The Captain’s voice was hesitant.

“I’ve told you not to call me that, Captain.” Kit met the man’s eyes. He swallowed and inclined his head.

“Forgive me. The prisoner is ready to be taken to the desert, we’re having trouble locating some shackles though. We may have to send to the capital for some.”

“Use rope.” Kit, moved past him.

“But, Kit, rope…”

“He won’t be waking up again, Captain.” She pulled her hood over her head and met his eyes. “I made sure of that. All you need is to keep him propped up on the pole. Right?”

The Captain stared at her for a long time before nodding. “Of course. What do you want us to do with their horses?”

“I’ll take care of the prince’s horse. Send Lord Rale’s back to his family with him.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Good day, Captain.” Kit turned, making her way back to the courtyard.

The two travel weary horses stood patiently, waiting for their masters. She stepped up to the large warhorse, rubbing his nose. “You’ll do very well, won’t you?”

~*~

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Chapter 24                                      Table of Contents                   Chapter 26

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Plans and things

Some things;

The year of the Series.

Elemental Truth

I’m going to be posting the rest of the chapters of E1 as they are ready, at least one a day until they’re all up.

Once it’s done, I’ll be offering it at the usual outlets, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. I’ll also be preparing it to go to print through Createspace, hopefully no later than March 1st.

Book 2, Elemental Flame is outlined and ready to be written. Once I get the Avaria series out of the way. Or some of it.

Avaria Series

Bastard Prince, The Sarukai Lord, and The Dragon Gates are all slated to be finished this year. This series has lingered for too long.

I’m also going to be trying to get back on a posting schedule and the flash friday stuff.

 

Personally, life is still racing and I’m trying to figure out a balance. Thank you for sticking with me.

 

NPhoenix.

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 24

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Tier leaned against the wall, staying out of the way of the nobles circling the strange invention that dominated the inner courtyard. They reminded him of buzzards in the desert, waiting for something to die. Though he spotted a few people he recognized, but had no desire to speak to them. His head still hurt. He rubbed his forehead and stared at the thing floating at the end of thick ropes in the courtyard.

Thick brown cloth of varying shades were patch-worked together in an oblong ball and floated above them. Ropes were slung criss cross over the top, attached to a wide, low basket hanging underneath it. The basket was anchored to a fountain, bobbing gently with each movement of the floating ball. There was some sort of metal stove with a chimney attached to the underside of the ball, where a small round opening allowed the smoke from the stove to fill the ball. Tier couldn’t tell how it stayed hanging just underneath the opening. The nobles passing between him and the strange thing blocked his view. The outside of the basket had several heavy looking bags tied to the outside of it.

A group of men huddled beside the fountain, holding something and pointing from it to the floating thing and making exaggerated gestures. It was only a matter of time before one of them would hit a passing noble.

“They say it will change the future.”

Tier swallowed a sigh, glancing over at his overdressed elder brother. Maen crossed his arms and gestured towards the thing. “They say it can go over the mountains and will render the passes unnecessary.”

“You’ll never get me in one of those things.” Tier grumped. Maen sneered and shook his head.

“You look like a vagabond.”

“You look like a peacock.” Tier glanced beyond Maen, looking for and failing to locate Hannah.

Maen’s eyes narrowed, he half turned, facing the air-boat but staying within punching distance.

“How was Chiron?”

Tier gritted his teeth. “Drunk last time I saw him.”

Maen snickered. “And the woman? I’d half hoped to meet her.”

“What you heard was an exaggeration.” Tier forced himself to keep his voice steady.

“But where is she?” Maen seemed genuinely curious.

“She stayed in Sandau.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you two in the same room at the same time!” Hannah stepped from the crowd, sliding between them with a smile.

“We can be civil.” Tier gritted out.

“Mostly.” Maen inclined his head. “Though it might be best to not push our luck. Good to see you again, Tier.” He turned and strode off not waiting for a reply.

“Don’t come back.” Tier muttered. Hannah gripped his arm, leaning against him.

“Be nice, Tier. He’s been worried about you.”

Tier looked down at her in surprise. She nodded and tugged slightly.

“Walk with me, please?”

He smothered a sigh but nodded, letting her guide him through the crowd towards the other end of the courtyard. He ignored the stares and whispers of those he strode past, locking his gaze on the heavily jeweled figure leaning against a pillar near the far door.

The Empress smiled, stepping slowly from the pillar. Each movement was stiff, slow, though her smile was warm, her eyes were shadowed with pain. Tier hugged her gently, stepping back.

“You’ve been gone for far too long.” She said, linking her arm through his.

“Father keeps me busy.” He glanced down at her, noting how thin she seemed. Her cheekbones far more pronounced than he remembered. “You don’t look well.”

“Tier!” Hannah protested.

“Don’t worry about me, Tier.” The Empress nodded towards the contraption in the courtyard. “What do you think of that?”

“I don’t know what to think.”

“Mother?” Hannah motioned towards a group of youths. The Empress inclined her head and Tier watched her make her way over to them.

“You have not yet seen the Seeress, have you?” The Empress’s voice was low. Tier shook his head. She sighed, patting his arm. “After you see her, come home for a time.”

Tier met her eyes and nodded. She patted his arm again and stepped away, turning stiffly and making her way up the steps and into the palace. A loud gong sounded behind him, the pounding in his head got worse as he turned and looked again at the thing in the courtyard.

A thin man stood in front of the basket, he gave a bow. “Ladies and Gentlemen, your Excellency,” he swallowed his forehead glistened. “Your Imperial Majesty, forgive me.” He cleared his throat as chuckles and snickers ran through the gathering crowd.

Tier frowned. He hadn’t seen his father earlier, now he spotted the Emperor, standing off to one side of the crowd, a young woman Tier didn’t recognize on his arm. Tier was about to make his way over, but the thin man, who reminded Tier of a long twig, began to speak.

“Behind me is what I’ve called an air-boat.” He rested a trembling hand on the basket, the floating ball above bobbed with the weight. “This one carried myself and a couple passengers through the sky days ago.”

A whisper ran through the crowd.

“How many people can it carry?” A voice called.

“This one can carry three. However, we are working on a larger one, which can carry at least ten.” He looked towards the Emperor. “Our great nation has been confined south of the mountains for an eon. This is our chance to show the world what Nekar can really accomplish. With this, and others like it, we can expand far beyond the mountains.”

The silence was heavy. Tier glanced at his father again. The Emperor was nodding.

“With the right funding, we can outfit the army with these air ships.” The man swallowed. “Imagine, no longer a need for sieges, but dropping forces directly inside the city walls.”

“Impressive. Promising.” The Emperor motioned the air-boat. “How do you steer it?”

The man swallowed and motioned to one of the bags hanging on the side of the basket. “We’re working on improving our methods of steering it, at the moment,”

“The wind takes you where it wants you to go, you mean?”

“Well, yes. But we’re working on,”

“I’ve seen enough.” The Emperor shook his head. “Get this out of my palace.”

The Emperor and his companion left the courtyard. The silence was deafening and the twig man turned from the crowd, leaning against the side of the basket.

“So much for a pet project.” Tier muttered, taking a final look around. People were huddled in groups whispering, no one was looking in his direction. He left. He had more important things to do. Like prepare for his meeting with the Seeress.

~*~

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Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 23

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

“And you were unable to glean anything at all from Sandau?” General Dyrnos asked with a scowl.

“No.” Tier sat in the War Hall in the Imperial Palace. At the table sat his father and others in the Nekarian High Command. All eyes were on him. His head pounded as though the room was full of holiday drummers. It started shortly before arriving at the Palace, and wasn’t letting up. “Lord Nesh escorted Rale and I out within a day of our arrival.”

General Dyrnos sighed and shook his head. “Typical.”

“And your mission for the Seeress? Was it successful?” The Emperor asked. The silence was heavy. Tier could see the concern written on the faces of the men and women he’d trained with and mentored under for years. Even his headache faded momentarily, as if awaiting his reply. His gut twisted.

“Both a success and a failure, sir. I was forced to leave behind those I was sent to find.” He said slowly.

“But you found the Water Master’s daughter though?” Lord Faruq asked, leaning forward.

Tier studied the man for a long time, heart pounding in his ears. “I was not told I was seeking anyone’s daughter.” He pulled out the little black scroll the Seeress had given him on his departure and unrolled it, skimming over the contents before handing it to the Lord. “Those were my orders.”

The Lord frowned, reading it, and handed it to the woman sitting beside him. It was passed around in silence before returned to Tier who dropped it on the table top in front of him.

“That raises questions,” The man began.

“Which are irrelevant.” The Emperor cut him off. He pinned Tier with a sharp look. “I know your time in Sandau was limited. From what you saw, how well do you think they’d fare in a siege?”

Tier frowned. “The longer you wait, the stronger they’ll be. They are expecting us to move. Right now, the city walls are more decorative than functional, from what I saw. But they’re being buffered.”

The Emperor nodded and leaned forward. “Next winter I want Sandau to be ours.”

Tier leaned back in his chair, the headache was close to blinding. The others were nodding though watching him.

“Shortly after you left on your mission, Jaktor fell. And two days ago, Lord Chiron sent word that the fort finally fell. That gives us two clear paths towards Sandau and the northern lands. I want you at the head of that army.” The Emperor leaned forward. “I want you march out as soon as the passes clear in the spring.”

“I live to serve.” Tier murmured, rubbing his temples.

The meeting continued, discussion of the recent victories and future plans, but he participated less. With each passing moment it felt like claws were scratching at his mind. When the meeting ended he stayed sitting, letting the others leave before he stood.

“Chiron wrote a fairly nasty letter regarding your passing through.” The Emperor said gravely, standing.

“Did he?” Tier forced his eyes to focus on his father, his heart drumming loud in his ears.

“He indicated that he felt you switched sides.”

Tier blinked. “What?”

“He said you threatened to rip his arms off. Over the woman he claimed was the water master’s daughter.”

Tier exhaled in a hiss. “I didn’t threaten to take his arms off. I told him if he touched her I wouldn’t restrain myself.”

The Emperor chuckled. “You scared the shit out of him.”

“Good. He threatened her well-being and publicly insulted her, repeatedly.” Tier stood. “Be assured, my loyalty is to Nekar, and has always been so.”

“And the woman?” The Emperor raised a hand. “I have never known you to threaten violence over a woman.”

“She saved my life, father.” Tier said slowly. “If for no other reason I owed her.”

“Perhaps when you take Sandau she will still be there.” the Emperor said softly. “Bring her back…”

Tier shrugging. “She’s an Elemental. There are far more elementals in the world than we’ve been led to believe.”

The Emperor’s eyes went wide and he nodded. “I see. It is most unfortunate. Maen seems to have no interest in taking a wife,”

“Father,”

“Your mother wants grandchildren before she dies.” The Emperor grinned at him.

Tier snorted, rubbing his forehead. “Before I forget, I wanted to warn you Chiron is running Delebeg into the ground.”

“Howso?”

“He’s managed to keep the water limited to the royal grounds, doling it out to the rest of the city in limited amounts.”

“Interesting.”

“I believe there is trouble, possibly civil unrest brewing in Delebeg.” Tier leaned against the back of the chair he’d been sitting in. “I know you are focused on taking Sandau, but perhaps you should wait.”

“Tier,”

“The problem in Delebeg is a storm-cloud brewing. When it lets loose,”

“We cannot give the northerners a chance to build up their defenses.” The Emperor held up his hand. “We will address the Delebeg situation, but right now those passes are our ticket to the plains. We,”

“We who?”

“What?”

“You said we, you and whom else?” Tier studied his father. The man who had towered over him as a child, frightening him, seemed diminished. Age was showing, and realizing it, he was startled. His father, old?

“The Seeress has outlined her plans for the future. She wants,” the Emperor chuckled. “I want Sandau as a province.”

“It would strain our manpower over time. The Sandau are not to be taken lightly.”

“No. Of course not. But they don’t have what we do. We have the Gods on our side. The Seeress,”

“Who rules Nekar, father?”

The Emperor froze, his face stern. “Tier, I rule. I am the Emperor, do you doubt my power?”

“No!” Tier swallowed. “If the Seeress doesn’t rule, then why does she have such influence on what decisions you make?”

“Tier.” His father’s voice was heavy. “To ask such questions is unwise.”

“Why? You’re the Emperor.” Tier refused to back down.

“Without the Seeress our family wouldn’t be in power. Our people would nothing but nomads wandering the deserts. We, as a people, owe her. If she asks me for the moon, I will do everything in my power to give it to her.”

Tier nodded, gripping the back of the chair. “It has been a long trip. I still have to report to the Seeress.” He spoke carefully.

“Welcome home son.” To his surprise the Emperor embraced him. “Tonight is the Festival of Hope. Maen and Hannah are both here, stay. Join us. Your mother would be very pleased to see you. Tomorrow you can go and report to the Seeress, but for tonight, stay. It has been a long time since you were in these halls.”

“I will.” Tier forced a smile. Despite being home, where he knew he belonged, he felt empty. He missed Xin.

 

His old rooms were pristine, large, decorated as befit his station. They were hollow. It had been years since he’d been in the Palace for an extended period of time. He preferred his estates, far simpler, out of the way. It would be a while before he’d be able to get back. He’d come in earlier, to clean up before meeting with his father, and left his travel things beside the large bed. Now he stood, trying to think around the pain. He did a quick check of his weapons, untouched as were his bags. He sank on one of the chairs at the desk staring at the hard leather covering. What was she doing now? Learning no doubt. Launi said she’d assign teachers to ensure she could improve their gifts. Gifts, not a curse. When had he stopped thinking of them as elementals? He couldn’t remember. She was just Xin, who had faced far more in her life, who had risked far more than he had.

“Is she beautiful?” the soft voice broke through his thoughts. He half turned towards the door, unable to keep from smiling. His younger sister leaned against the door jam. Hannah smiled at him, her dark eyes sparkling from some inner joke.

“What?” Her question barely registered past his headache. It had been almost two years since he’d seen her. She was less the gangly child and more a young woman.

“The woman you threatened Chiron over. It’s all over the palace. Is she beautiful?” She stepped into the room, her long skirts rustling loudly with each step.

Tier half turned away lifting one of the bags. For a brief moment he could almost see Xin, her large soft blue eyes twinkling. “She is, exquisite.”

“Why didn’t you bring her back, then?” Hannah asked coming up beside him. She leaned against his shoulder.

Tier sighed. “Wouldn’t have worked, Hannah. She’s not exactly an ally.” he met his sister’s eyes. She frowned.

“Oh.” She sighed. “Still, you should have anyways. I would like to meet a woman who had my brother threatening to tear a man’s arms off!” She grinned up at him.

“That was an exaggeration. Aren’t you supposed to be in Arhein?” He needed to change the subject.

“I wanted to come back here for festival. And father is planning to find me a husband.” She leaned against him. “I was hoping you’d be home soon.”

“I see.”

“Will you then be around for a while?” She stepped back as he stood. Tier smiled down at her.

“I’ll be here for the festivities tonight.”

“Oh good, there’s supposed to be some sort of unveiling.”

“Unveiling?” Tier frowned.

“One of father’s new pet projects. Finding a way to cross the mountains by air instead of on foot.” Hannah shrugged. “They’re supposed to be showing off the new air-carriage at the height of the festival.”

“Father didn’t say anything about that. Is that why Maen is here?”

“Possibly. No fighting with him, please. I’ve seen the two of you in the same room.” She batted her eyes at him.

“I’ll try to keep my mouth shut.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” He gave her a quick hug. “I have an awful headache though, squirt. I need to nap this off before tonight. I’ll see you at the festival.”

She smiled, going back to the door. “I’ll hunt you down if you don’t show.”

He chuckled and nodded. “I’ll be there.” She turned to leave then whirled back around, her skirts twisting about her legs, hands clasped tightly in front of her.

“Do you miss her?”

Tier gritted his teeth. “Go on squirt. My head is about to burst.”

She sighed and left, closing the door behind her gently. He stared at it for a long time before making his way to the bed. Once in it, he closed his eyes, hoping sleep would take away the pain, but sleep was a long way off. He could see Xin in his mind’s eye, as she had been in the kitchen in Sandau. Those overlarge eyes, soft hair that felt like silk in his hands. He hoped, prayed to whatever god might be listening that when they marched on Sandau she would be gone.

~*~

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Quick update.

Ok, so last year was not the easiest year I’ve ever had. This year is going to be better. I refuse to believe otherwise. So here are a few things I’ve got on the plate.

2015 Writing/pubbing lineup

Elemental Truth;

I am not going to dwell on it. I’m working on it daily. I’ll post chapters as they’re ready. I’m hoping that by the end of this month it will be ready to be pubbed. I’m also going to be releasing it in print, though I’m not sure when it will be ready.

The Bastard Prince, The Sarukai Lord, The Dragon Gates & Crossroads

I love this story. and I hate it. Which makes me sad to say. Once I’m done with the E1 edit/publishing, I’m diving into the Zandercrack and it’s going to be published. This year. Even if it kills me XD.

Those projects could easily swamp me this year. But here are other things I’d like to try to check off the list;

The Fallen. Two maybe three scenes and it’s DONE. >.<
Zombiestuff  –  I have more storires set in this world I want to tell.
Crown of Bones – Fantasy Adventure series, with female protags.
Space Opera
PHFR (prehistoric-fantasy romance)

 

There are other things but right now I have to focus on E1 & Zander. Those have been sitting for way too long. It’s the year to dare to be bad I have to. My sanity depends on it.

I’m also hoping to take one of Dean Wesley Smith’s workshops (you can find them over here) because I want to improve in many areas. Anyways, there’s more on my mind, but I’ve been catwaxing all day. Time to finish the typo sweep and post the next chapter of E1.

NPhoenix

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