We’re sick here at Casa De La Phoenix, myself, the monkeys and the spouse type person. The posts I was hoping to write got pushed aside in a fit of coughing and hacking up lungs. blech.
Work has officially ended, I am back in the ‘unemplyed/self employed’ catagory. Gotta love that seasonal stuff. I had a blast, made some great friends, and am now debating my next move.
The patreon is live! I am super excited about it. There is so much to the Avaria stories, I’m almost bouncing in excitement. For those of you new to my blog/site/thingy you can peek at the planned book list over here. It’s a huge list, this stuff needs to get set free.
I hope you are all recovering from the disaster that was 2016. Time for me to get back to writing, and being ME.
It launched yesterday, while I was at work, without a hitch, as far as I know. This week, being the last I’m at my job (seasonal work), will be a mix of business building, editing and diving into book 2 which needs a near total rewrite.
So, the patreon page is over here if yinz wanted to take a look.
2017 is the Avaria year, join me in this journey.
Of course now I’m starting to get nervous, and worried, and anxious and brain is screaming ‘WTF ARE YOU DOING IT’S NOT PERFECT!?!?!’
Which brings me to this common problem with writers. Perfectionism. This idea to postpone pushing forward so you can make the story perfect!
But we are not perfect. And what we make doesn’t have to be. No, really, it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to do the best job I can in getting my stuff as fine tuned as I can without killing the ‘voice’ or the story. But sometimes the mind clings to the familiar of editing/rewriting to avoid the scary proposition of setting the story free, we cling to the comfortable lament ‘it’s not perfect’ to avoid the criticism of strangers of what we write. So many people have edited the spark out of the stories they write that what they have left is dull, lifeless and it is a disservice to the idea that got them to write it in the first place.
So I’m sitting here now, forcing myself to not over edit, to not stress too badly about what people ‘might’ think and enjoy the process.
I’m also going to go and reward myself by catching up on Valerie Ford’s Advent Story over on Patreon (which y’all should really go check out. Val is awesome, and her writing is GREAT.
Hope you all have a great day! ~ NP
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams,
Working on the Patreon backoffice and resting my feet. How are you doing? I hope your sunday is a peaceful one. gift giving eve is next saturday, try not to stress too much folks. ~ NP
I’ve been talking about it for a while, I’ve been getting things sorted and set up and all I needed for the final decision was to settle on which project. I was going to go with E1 at first. but then I went to reread some of the Zandercrack. And that did it. This project has been sitting, mostly finished, for a couple of years, and even with typos and a few things I need to rearrange, it is a pretty good story. It’s time Zander was set loose upon the world. So here we go, my Patreon page is getting the final touches. I will be posting publicly and on Jan 1st, 2017, The Bastard Princewill go live.
I can barely contain my excitement. It’s TIME.
It has been a long time since I have done one of these.
“Hold on to what is good, even if it’s a handful of dirt.” ~ Hopi prayer.
Be at peace, if you can, rest and refresh yourself.
Seriously 2016 can just die already. So much crap has filled this year that I shut down almost completely.
We are in a new home, a new situation, I’m working and hubs health is in decline. I’m preparing something which will be (I hope) big coming this Jan, and a rethinking of life, goals, and writing in general.
The Election; I usually avoid politics over here, but I will not be quiet. What the actual fuck? How can so many people support a fascist, racist, sexist, egotistical, narcissistic bastard like that orange thing? My heart hurts for my beloved America. He does not represent the America I love, the America whose ideals I hold dear. No, America isn’t perfect, but it’s about to get hideous thanks to that lying cretin. There’s so much I want to say and I just can’t seem to put it in words correctly. **breathes deeply**
I almost don’t have the ‘spoons’ to deal with it. I have to, I know, but damn I’m tired.
So what is in store for next year?
Well now, I’m currently doing some brainstorming and planning. I’m setting up something that *I* think will be cool.
and I feel like I need to apologize. For dropping off the face of the internets. I’m so sorry. I feel like I let people down, and I’m having a hard time shaking that feeling.
Allrighty, time to get some writing done.
~ N Phoenix
An Interview with Schrodinger
(Author’s note: I was going to answer the questions myself, but Schrodinger found the email first, and he begged, and, well, I couldn’t say no. So if you were hoping for an interview with Val, I’m sorry. You get a CrossCat instead. – Val)
Interviewer: I’ve never interviewed a CrossCat before, so if you don’t mind, can you tell me a little about your species?
Schrodinger: Well, we’re the most intelligent species of cat out there, although others may disagree. We’re born in litters in Dens, and most of us wander for a bit, then go back home and start families of our own. My sister has nearly twenty kits! She’s older than me, though.
Interviewer: Will you head back to the Den eventually as well?
Schrodinger: No one can tell the future. *eyes the interviewer* Can you?
Interviewer: *laughs a bit nervously* No, not me.
Schrodinger: Then we’ll just have to see!
Interviewer: Okay. How did you come to end up in the Cove, then?
Schrodinger: That’s a long story, and I promised it to someone else. Next question?
Interviewer: What’s your favorite part of living in the Cove?
Schrodinger: All the people! And Molly! And Drew! And Lily and Kaylee and Zoey and Jack! I’m totally a people person. Oh, and Pavel comes in, and there are cupcakes and Molly’s an amazing cook. And there are books! And music! *pauses, cocking his head to one side* Actually, I don’t think I have a favorite part.
Interviewer: I can tell! What do you want to do in the future, Schrodinger?
Schrodinger: How far in the future?
Interviewer: Um, I don’t know. In general?
Schrodinger: Well, I still want to travel. Pavel’s promised to take me on the ship at some point, although we don’t know when. Oh, and I’m going to Baltimore in a few days! And then Concord, North Carolina the week after that! Val’s taking me to Balticon and ConCarolinas, to promote the new book! And Molly is even letting me take some tea with me!
Interviewer: *looks at her notebook* So tell us, Schrodinger, are you a bathroom singer?
Schrodinger: Isn’t everyone? I’m not sure I could trust someone who doesn’t sing in the bathroom. *thinks for a moment* Although I don’t know – I guess it’s a personal preference. Do YOU sing in the bathroom?
Schrodinger: Who do you think sounds best in the bathroom: Adele, or Billy Joel?
Interviewer: You know, I’m supposed to be the one asking questions here. But honestly, it depends on the song and the mood.
Schrodinger: *nods* I also like Danny Elfman, but Molly says that the Oogie Boogie Song first thing in the morning is a bit creepy for her.
Interviewer: I can see that. So we have some questions from some of your fans here.
Schrodinger: I have FANS???
Interviewer: Of course you do. Didn’t you know that?
Schrodinger: Hang on a second. *runs into the kitchen, shouting, “Molly, did you know I have FANS????” Comes back a few moments later* Sorry about that. You were saying?
Interviewer: Yes. One of your fans wants to know what you do for fun on a rainy day to amuse yourself?
Schrodinger: It depends. If we’re here, I usually help Molly in the kitchen, or I’ll read. Sometimes I like to go out and help DC and Aunt Margie shelve. I’m good at finding things. And I nap a lot. *thinks a bit more* I can always go find some fun too. There are a lot of interesting Roads around here. Sometimes I just go exploring.
Interviewer: If there was one person you could have lunch with, alive or dead, who would it be?
Schrodinger: Captain Carter, the man who discovered Carter’s Cove.
Interviewer: Really? Why?
Schrodinger: So I could thank him. Without him, Carter’s Cove wouldn’t be here, Molly wouldn’t be Molly, and I’d’ve never met her. And then I’d be a very sad CrossCat, although I probably wouldn’t know why.
Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
Schrodinger: Come see me at Balticon and ConCarolinas! I’ll have tea! And books! And maybe some prizes…..
Winter’s Secrets, the first book in the Carter’s Cove stories, is out in ebook and trade paperback on May 26th. Follow Schrodinger on Twitter at @MollysSchrodngr, and Val Griswold-Ford at @vg_ford.
Thank you so much, Schrodinger (and Val 😉 ) for stopping by.
My truck won’t start. So the kids and I are tackling the housework and then I am going to write. I scene listed (some people call it outlining) last night and want to write those juicy scenes out. I’m feeling fairly good about things, despite the truck issue.
May Plans; Writing. I am going to try to focus on The Bastard Prince, but I won’t fight it if my attention drifts to something else. I’m just happy to be writing again, I almost don’t care what I’m working on.
June, July, August: I’m hoping that by getting back into the habit of writing daily, will carry me through the summer. I’m hoping to get Elemental Truth ready to go for September however this is the summer so I’m not going to guarantee anything.
Fall: Next fall I’m going to have one kid starting his senior year and the youngest two starting kindergarten. I’m also hoping to go back to school myself. My goals for the rest of the year is to have both E1 & BP published by the end of year. Lofty? Perhaps. But both are soooo close to being done that I think it’s not impossible. I also have a mostly finished angel apocalypse story that’s been quietly nagging at me to finish it. Like the other books there are a couple fill in spots and thats it. I had a snippet of it up a while ago.
I hope your week goes well. **waves**
Disclaimer: I do not speak for anyone else. Each person who struggles with mental illness has their own struggles. What works (or doesn’t work) for me, might have the opposite effect on others.
FWIW this is more of a Ramble, a sharing of a part of me I don’t think I’ve shared here before.
In 2011 I made a jump into self publishing. The story, The Shiny, was small, just a little concept/flash thing, but I self pubbed it and worked on others to get up. I was excited, I was motivated, and the more I look back at it, the more I’m convinced I was in a manic phase (not a good time to make major decisions such as self pubbing etc, fwiw). You see, I’m Bipolar. It is a condition in which the chemicals in my brain fluctuate wildly, and in cycles, I get really amped up, excited, go go go go, then I drop, I have a drop in mood I end up depressed and fighting to stay afloat.
I’m Bipolar 2, (I think that’s what they call it, I’m still trying to educate myself) which is the ‘milder’ form of the disorder. Most people don’t recognize my manic phases as mania, more ‘motivated, responsible, with it’. But my downswings, those are downright scary. I struggle to get out of bed, I struggle with feelings of self-worth, I fight the urge to just say fuck it and do something drastic, anything at all to feel better.
I was in denial for years until 2012 when I finally worked on getting it managed. Figuring out what worked and what didn’t and I found myself able to focus better and write. But writing when my depression was in full swing was like trying to pull teeth with a spoon. Made of warm jello. I wanted to write, I wanted to tell these stories that haunt me day and night, but I wasn’t enjoying it. Even with meds getting me on a steady mental state, I was still depressed, I was still chipping away at the iceberg with a toothpick and writing, writing became more a struggle than a release.
You see, when you’re severely depressed even the things that bring you pure joy mean nothing. My energy, my motivation, everything just gone. It’s weird, and annoying. I look over my plans and projects and I know I need to be writing, I know I need to finish stuff, to edit stuff to get stuff up and for sale. But then the doubts kick in and add to that the depression that has/had me convinced it was all shit anyways, well it made it harder to touch those projects especially when I was being crushed with guilt for not living up to my own high standards.
In 2014, in an effort to curb those feelings, I decided I was going to take a story I *thought* was ‘done’ and make it a serial. It shouldn’t take very long, I reasoned, to get it scheduled. Elemental Truth debuted and I was feeling good despite the depression. Then the bottom dropped out. In a matter of a few weeks our family’s life was turned upside down, we entered into a legal battle with our old landlord, my hubs started a new job and was suddenly away for weeks at a time, and I was facing legal issues with one of the kids and a major move all by myself. I didn’t pull E1, I was being stubborn. I can do it, I kept telling myself, I’m not going to pull the serial.
The problem is, the serial wasn’t as ‘done’ as I thought and the more I got into it, the more I realized that it needed a massive overhaul. But with everything else going on I just plugged away at it, the only thing I could really count on was getting that damn thing posted. For months, writing wise, I clung to that project, unmotivated but trying to force my way through it. Depression robs you of enjoyment, and though I enjoy that story I couldn’t feel it.
We’d just barely gotten things back to an even keel, into some semblance of normal when, last April, I got an unexpected call from my SIL; my FIL passed away unexpectedly.
Goodbye even keel. Goodbye semblance of normal. We hauled ass out to OK for the funeral, then returned only to discover my hubs company suddenly struggling. The last year has been spent trying to recoup from that. The depression got worse when, in Sept (or Aug) our insurance changed due to job changes and I was unable to get my meds.
Imagine a diabetic unable to get their insulin, imagine a person in chronic pain, unable to get their pain control meds. It is that serious. My depression was crushing, the stories, the writing, the serial in limbo. It was a struggle, fighting my own brain and I think that I noticed it even more this go round because I’d been on the meds, now off the meds and suddenly no management of anything at all. And the longer I go with it managed, the greater the drop when those meds are yanked away.
I’ve now been back on my meds just over a week, and I feel the difference. I’m starting to find focus, things are a bit easier. It’s still a daily battle, an ongoing struggle to keep myself frown drowning in the hopeless feelings.
So how is this going to affect my writing and future publications?
Honestly I’m not too sure. I’m hoping that as I get more settled I’ll be able to stick to my routines and get back to writing regularly. I’m not going to give a timeframe, not yet. Not till I’m sure I’m a bit more stable. Right now, every little paragraph is a triumph, every day I don’t just delete all my writing* it a success.
I do *hope* to have Elemental Truth ready for publication by the fall, and Bastard Prince for sale in time for Christmas. But I also have to be realistic, I have a lot going on in my life outside of my writing, there’s still fallout from last years job issues and money issues, and I don’t want to make promises I end up breaking. I always feel like a flake when that happens, I know logically it’s because I have this stupid chemical imbalance in my brain and that for a long time it was completely unmanaged. But I still feel like I should have done more, tried harder, followed my schedule, guilt, guilt, guilt…
Yeah I’m great with the self-guilt-ting. I once told a friend, I don’t need people to guilt trip me, I do a great job all by myself -.-
There you have it, mental illness and how it affects ME as a writer. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with it. If you, the reader, also struggles with it, just know you’re not alone. And what the depression tries to tell you, well trust me it lies.
*I almost deleted everything a couple months ago, I was that low.
Please note I had to make a couple edits after I posted it. Sorry.
Regarding the Serial.
Due to life and other issues I haven’t been able to give my all in getting this up in a timely fashion. So This weekend I’ll be pulling down what is posted. This has been an interesting learning experience. Not sure I’ll do a serial ever again.
My apologies. E1 should be released in ebook and print form by September. I’ll keep you guys posted.
Disclaimer; Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing. Hope you all enjoy it.
Xin watched the guards standing outside the window, barely hearing the conversation in the main room behind her. Rale was in one of the empty back rooms, the healer and Lady Launi with him.
“Until we can determine whether he is safe or not, we’re going to have him here, under guard.” Lord Nesh’s voice had an edge to it.
“Some people are going to be unhappy. Having a Nekarian Lord here, especially with the fall of the fort…” Aitelle began.
“Which is why Launi is scanning him. We’ll determine what we’ll do with him later.”
“Too bad there’s no dungeons in Sandau.” Aitelle said absently.
“If we need them, I’m certain the rock shapers can oblige.” Lord Nesh left, and Xin half turned, staring at the closed door.
“They only brought in Rale?” Geb asked his voice low. He sat at the table, a box with rocks for practice set in front of him.
“They said he was alone, fell off his horse.”
The doorway to the hall that led to the rooms opened and a sober looking Launi entered the room. She made a slight head movement, as though she were looking at each of them in turn, then she motioned them to the table. Once they were all seated she too sat, folding her hands in front of her on the table.
“Lord Rale has undergone some severe mental and physical torture. He is going to be unconscious for a few days while the healer and I work to undo what the Seeress did.”
“What did she do?” Xin asked.
Launi’s brows pulled together. “Kera was trained in a type of mental combat that enabled her to twist the body to do her will. She can turn the body against itself. And that’s what she did. He is going to be in constant pain. His body is attacking itself.”
“I didn’t know spirit elementals could do that.” Xin whispered.
“We can do that and much more. History tells us there were great and powerful Spirit Elementals. They could manipulate huge numbers of people. They could turn the body in on itself, as Kera has done with Lord Rale. Some were able to show others what we see.”
“And other things. There were those who could walk between the veil, and open portals to other lands, other realms. With those powers came conflict. There were wars fought between factions, my people have an ugly past.” Launi closed her eyes and a shudder ran through her thin frame. “Before the war, a thousand years ago, there were twelve active Oracles. Kera and her twin were taught in one of the oldest and some whispered they were taught ancient teachings not taught elsewhere. The war took its toll. By its end all but one Oracle was in ruin, the Spirit Elementals slaughtered and teachings and irreplaceable knowledge lost. I have never seen the type of manipulation done on Rale, in person. It may take several sessions to reverse what she did.”
“Any word on Tier?” Xin asked. Launi frowned.
“Rale had correspondence from a Lord Xeresel with him.” She said slowly. “The note indicated that Prince Tier was executed shortly after his return, and that Rale cannot return to Nekar.”
Xin felt as though she’d been punched. “Why?” She felt Aitelle’s hand on her shoulder and resisted the urge to shove her friend away. She wanted to scream, to cry, she just sat staring at Launi, not willing to believe it.
“He did what he was told.” Geb whispered.
“There was no reason given. Rale may be able to shed light on it, when he wakes.” Launi stood and took a deep breath. “I must go speak with Nesh.”
Xin nodded numbly, meeting Geb’s gaze. The youth just shook his head and pushed violently away from the table storming out the door. Xin had half a mind to follow him.
“There will be a few new rock pillars in the fields by this evening.” Aitelle said softly.
If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.
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.
City of Lorn. Late Fall. Inn Of the Twelve.
“Is everyone here?” The voice of the heir prince, Maen, was strained and weary as he peered around the room. Aryanda met his eyes and nodded, pushing her hood back, fiddling with her dark curls as she watched her cousin shift on the uncomfortable wooden benches.
“I think, your highness, we are all accounted for.” Lord Xeresel said. Arya glanced at him. Like the prince, his voice was heavy. There were circles under his eyes that spoke of long nights, and desperate measures.
“Fill the cups, Xeresel.” Maen said, leaning his elbows on the table, his hands fists.
“Of course.” Xeresel inclined his head, his lips moving. A whisper of sound, the words of the spell spoken so lightly that Arya barely heard it,coiled through the room, magic following it. Though Xeresel didn’t move, the chalices began to fill of their own accord. A magical mixture of ruby red liquid that, once drunk, would act as a barrier against the powerful mind of the Seeress herself.
Arya glanced across the table at the pale bavanan woman, Lady Vera. Like Xeresel, the skin beneath her eyes was shadowed and dark. Her curls, usually immaculate, looked a bit disheveled. She cast a withering glance in Maen’s direction and took the chalice in front of her.
“Drink up, the shield won’t last long today, I fear I am overtired.” Xeresel said.
Arya obeyed, took the chalice and drank, closing her eyes. The bitter liquid left a strange, warm honey flavor in her mouth. She set the chalice down as soon as she was finished, her stomach churning. She felt the magic swirling through her, spreading out from her gut with a warm pulse. Once it settled down, they would talk.
Someone swore, another person made a gagging sound. Arya took a slow breath as Xeresel had taught her. Now was not the time to be ill.
“Dare I ask why you, his highness and Lady Vera look as though death is sitting at your door?” Lord Reis, a powerful landholder from one of the northern provinces, asked.
“You may ask.” Xeresel grinned. “I don’t know that you’ll receive an answer.”
Lord Reis snorted.
“It will be discussed later.” Maen leaned back. “The events of the past few months are, though shocking, not surprising. Starting with the execution of my brother,” he stopped, jaw clenched. After a moment he took a deep breath and continued. “And leading up to the massacre of the Ghayta family in Shoul just three nights ago. It seems the Seeress is purging the major bloodlines.”
“The rumor was that Tier, and Rale, were both pronounced traitors by the Seeress, though it should be noted no evidence of their traitorous activities given.” Lord Reis said.
“Prince Tier was no traitor.” Someone, Arya couldn’t identify, half shouted.
“What troubles me most is the lack of due process in any of these cases.” Lord Ferev spoke quickly, as if he wanted to get his say in before anyone else spoke. “With Prince Tier it could have, indeed it should have dragged on for months, even years. Yet he returned was tried and found guilty, then executed all in a period of what, three days?”
“Less than that.” Arya spoke up. “I was told it was a mere hours after reporting to the Seeress that he was executed.” An uneasy murmur went through the room. She leaned forward. “I would also bring to your attention that the Emperor and the rest of the family had no idea Tier was even being accused until after it was all done.”
“True.” Maen nodded. “Father and mother are both deep in mourning, and Hannah has locked herself in her quarters and refuses to come out.”
“And Rale also expired?” Lord Ferev shook his head at Arya’s nod. “Pity. He had a good head for business.”
“According to the Emperor, Tier and Rale were told they were looking for elementals. But the Seeress told the Emperor they were in search for General Corrin’s daughter to break the standoff in Fort ______. ” General Dyrnos said from his seat, his booming voice turning heads. “When we talked with Tier on his return he had no idea. He showed us the orders he received, and was openly disturbed at the news.”
“The Emperor immediately shut down anyone who questioned the discrepancy.” Lord Ferev added. General Dyrnos nodded.
“Odd. Considering his protests after the affair with General Yorma and his son, I would think it would be well known that he wouldn’t repeat that sort of mission.” Maen commented, brows drawn tightly together.
“It is difficult to refuse the Seeress any request.” General Dyrnos said dryly. “Especially when she is standing in front of you.”
“Those who do don’t live long.” Lord Ferev shook his head. “Then again those who do as she asks don’t have much of a life expectancy either.”
“Something worth mentioning, Lord Chiron sent a letter of protest to the Emperor about Tier’s behavior when passing through Delebeg.” General Dyrnos leaned against the tabletop, a crooked smile on his lips. “He claimed Tier had shown sympathy to the elementals and inferred he switched sides. He said Tier even threatened him over the woman who was traveling with them.”
Maen choked on his wine, a murmur went through the room.
“A woman?” Someone asked incredulously.
“According to the guards who delivered Rale back to our estate, Prince Tier offended the Seeress, though how, they could not, or would not say.” Arya began.
“If he offended her, it doesn’t matter what truly happened. She would strike quickly, out of revenge not justice. I highly doubt he was a traitor.” Lord Xeresel said quickly.
“He was always loyal to Nekar.” General Dyrnos slammed his fist down on the table with a loud thunk, several chalices tipped over and they all jumped. “The Seeress is not Nekar. We can be loyal to one and not the other.”
Heavy silence again filled the room, made more imposing by the soft burr of the spell.
“This is troubling to hear.” Lady Vera said, her soft voice very loud in the room. “That she would strike out over a minor trifle.”
“This is the Seeress, cousin, she has always done troubling things.” Xeresel drummed his fingers on the tabletop.
“The guards said she tore his things apart, looking for something in his travel bags.” Arya said. “Whatever it was, she never found it. According to my contacts, she even searched his rooms in the palace.”
“Perhaps he did turn traitor. After all he traveled several months with that elemental woman.” Lord Reis said, flinching at the dark glares turned his way.
“Traitor to whom? There are not rules that we are not to have dealings with Elementals,” Lord Xeresel began, but Lord Ferev cut him off.
“They are extinct. We have been taught that, we all know that.” He glared.
“Oh come, come now, there’s the Water Master Corrin whose forces held off Lord Chiron’s for three years? Four? I know of several others living in the far north who are as alive as I am, and you know this Lord Ferev. These are the lies She would want you to believe.” Lord Xeresel moved his hand, waving off the next round of questions. “Hear me out. I would wager the Emperor’s crown that the reason she moved so quickly to brand and execute Tier, was because in all reality, in the eyes of the crown he did nothing wrong.”
“Lord Chiron accused him of threatening to tear off his arms if he made any advance towards the woman. Many would surmise that his sympathies were swayed. Though I find it hard to believe.” General Dyrnos snickered. “It would have been a sight I’d like to see.”
“Chiron’s a sniveling weakling.” Maen grumbled.
“I never would have imagined Tier with a woman.” Lord Ferev commented dryly.
“I don’t think any of us can.” Maen eyed Arya who shook her head. Tier had always been aloof around women.
“Never underestimate the power a woman has over a man.” Lady Vera sniffed.
“Mere supposition, my lords and ladies: his relationship with the woman is irrelevant. He was a model example of what any noble of Nekar should strive to be. Loyal to Nekar, to a fault.” Lord Xeresel said. He leaned back in his chair.
The heavy silence stretched.
“The families who were executed, were killed at the same rapid speed that Tier was.” Prince Maen leaned back in his seat. “There are whispers that the Scáth were present. That they may have been the ones to actually do the deed.”
Someone whispered a curse and Arya felt a cool chill work up her spine. She took a steadying breath. “The Scáth haven’t been seen in almost twenty years. Many people believe they are naught but a myth.” She glanced towards Xeresel. “I’ve heard rumors that Kit is also abroad again.”
“Crazy bitch.” Lord Reis muttered.
“I would watch what you say about that one.” General Dyrnos said, an edge to his voice.
“I agree.” Xeresel said. “The Blood Oath has never been tested against the Voice. I hope, I sincerely hope, it never is.”
“She is not as powerful as Kera.” Lord Ferev made a dismissal motion with his hand. “She isn’t worth worrying about.”
“She made a man’s brains leak out his ears.” Lord Reis leaned on the table. “I’d worry about her being near. I for one, want my brains to stay inside my skull.”
“She also reports directly to the Seeress.” Maen said pointedly. “We must be cautious.”
“I hesitate to make assumptions,” Lady Kasumi spoke up. Her voice was low and Arya realized she couldn’t remember the last time she heard the woman speak at these meetings. “But if the Seeress has begun both purging the royal families and pulled both the Scáth and Kit out of hiding, it could be she is aware of us. It could be she hopes to eliminate us along with the Royal bloodlines.”
“If she is, we must be doubly cautious. I’m certain she suspects me.” Lord Xeresel said. “And it is no secret that there have been those who have resisted her influence in Nekar since her arrival. I’m certain she knows we are here, she knows we are quietly opposing her. Until we can move with greater force we must cling to the shadows.”
“And each passing day we run the risk of being found out. Do we have time to prepare, indeed can we prepare before we are exposed?” Maen asked. “There is only so much we can do without pulling more people in.”
“I hope so, your highness. It would be grim indeed if we go to all this trouble to end up tied to a pole in Koursh.” Lord Xeresel grumbled. “We cannot add more, the spell is stretched as it is. We must work with what resources we have.”
“It seems hopeless.” Lady Vera said, her large eyes downcast.
“Of course it is hopeless. Perhaps there are others who question her, who are moving as silently as we. Hopefully we can find allies, and quickly.” Xeresel frowned. “Of those she executed these past months, Tier was the only one who had no knowledge of us.”
“Some are calling him a martyr, the first.” Lady Kasumi said. “Some whisper he’s not really dead, that he’s somehow managed to escape.”
“We should have brought him in.” someone down table commented. “He could have helped us.”
“No.” Prince Maen shook his head. “Tier would have been our staunchest enemy. He would have turned us in in a heartbeat. What we are doing, could be considered conspiring against the Seeress and the crown. He would have considered it treason.”
“I agree with Maen.” Arya said quickly.
“Absolutely. Tier is, or was an honorable man. We are, to be completely truthful, not acting honorably. We’re hiding in the shadows, creeping into places long forgotten on the sheer hope that no one would think to find persons of our station here, of all gods forsaken places.” Lord Xeresel motioned towards the worn wall coverings, the rough hewn door and the battered table, and leaned back steepling his fingers and tapping them against his lips. “Now is not the time to move out of the shadows though, as smelly and rotten as it is.”
“When will it be, I wonder?” Lord Ferev asked. “If we wait too long, the opportunity will pass.”
Arya locked eyes with Maen who gave a barely perceptible shrug.
“And if we go to soon we become not saviors, but crazy conspirators.” Lady Vera said.
“I suggest we do no more than wait at the moment. Gather information, gather our strength.” Lord Xeresel’s leg was jiggling lightly. Arya resisted the urge to kick him to get him to stop. But one did not kick a man such as Lord Xeresel. She’d regret it later. He was far too imposing a figure who commanded respect and admiration even as he annoyed you.
“It seems as though we get nowhere.” Lord Reis complained. “We discuss it and nothing changes. But more people die by her hand. What is the point?”
“These events, especially Prince Tier’s execution, have begun something the Seeress was trying to avoid, Lord Reis. People are finally talking. Thinking for themselves. They are meeting in places they hope they will not be overheard. They whisper about things long forbidden. Wars, battles, and martyrs of old that the Seeress has tried suppress the memories of. They are questioning everything they have been taught, everything they have believed. Finally after generations they are really taking a long hard look at what they know.”
“And what is it, Lord Xeresel, that we know?” Arya asked, her voice loud to her own ears. She flinched when he looked down at her.
“That they have been brought up on lies and deceit.”
“We should re-convene possibly after the Summer Solstice.” Lady Vera said softly. There were nods. “Unless there is more business to be handled of course.”
“There is one matter, no two, which we should all be aware of.” General Dyrnos said quietly. Eyes turned his way. He glanced towards Maen who inclined his head.
“The first, is the situation in Delebeg. I overheard Prince Tier discussing some troubling actions on Chiron’s part. We could be looking at a possible revolt in the region if Chiron stays in power.”
“How do you mean?” Maen leaned forward.
“Chiron is keeping the general populous on starvation rations, and hoarding the water.” General Dyrnos glanced around the table. “I don’t know if there have been any deaths,”
“It’s a matter of time.” Lord Xeresel said. “I too heard of the situation in Delebeg, and, though I hadn’t meant to bring it up, Lady Veino sent a messenger with a black feather shortly after Tier’s passing through.”
Arya frowned. “What does that mean?”
“The black feather is an old way of saying, the center is cracking.” Maen said quickly. Murmurs rippled through the room.
“The other matter, one which disturbs me greatly, is that starting in the spring, Nekar will be marching on Sandau.” General Dyrnos eyed all of them one by one. “The Emperor’s goal is to take Sandau by next fall.”
“You will be there, I take it?” Maen asked.
General Dyrnos inclined his head. “It has been requested by the Seeress that we return with the Seeress of Sandau in chains.”
“This is a situation we will have to keep our eyes on.” Xeresel said. “Is there anything else?”
Heads shook up and down the table.
“Be cautious, all of you.” Prince Maen said. “We are walking upon a knife’s blade. The wrong move could doom us all, and doom Nekar.”
“We are an absolutely cheerful bunch.” Lord Xeresel muttered. Arya nudged him with her knee and leaned over.
“Can you blame him?” she whispered.
“Appearances are everything, dear lady.” He leaned back with a scowl. “Even when in mourning.”
“Trust me, my lord, he’s not mourning.” Arya said softly. She met Xeresel’s startled gaze. “I think he’s wishing he did it himself.”
Xeresel stared and Arya fought to keep from snickering. It was rare to catch the Bavanan Ambassador speechless. She patted his cheek fondly. “Close your mouth, darling, a bug will fly into it.”
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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.
The Negasti Mountains marked the border between Sandau and Nekar. The old mountains, with their jagged weather-worn peaks, were like silent sentinels, warning all who neared them to turn back. Who in their right minds would want to go further? Into Nekar, into the Seeress’s lair? Captain Adden had spent many months on border duty, and he could never understand why anyone would dare. He would have thought more people would flee the Seeress’s web, yet that was rare. Even so, it was unusual to see a lone rider on a travel worn horse picking their way down the narrow, steep path to the border station. The men and women under his command had gathered, watching, whispering as the ruddy mare made her way towards them. Her rider was slumped over her neck, even at this distance, Adden could see his white knuckled grip in her mane.
Adden felt the eyes of his second on him and glanced at her.
“Is that who I think it is?” She asked. He shrugged.
The horse half slid to a stop when the path leveled out. Her sides heaving, she lowered her head, took a step forward and Adden flinched when the rider lost his bid at staying astride and dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The mare turned her head peering at her rider before she nudged him with her nose, her soft grunts and swishing tail loud in the silence.
“Aye, Sergeant. That is who you think it is.” One of the other, older guards said.
“Had to have been bad to have him returning.” Adden murmured. The man wasn’t moving, his breathing shaky, skin sallow.
“Think he’s dead? Or just ill?” The Sergeant asked, glancing up the pass.
Adden said nothing as he strode over, crouching beside the fallen man. Without giving it much thought, he reached over, absently stroking the mare’s nose before pressing his fingers to the Nekarian’s neck. He shook his head and rolled him over, staring down at the unconscious man.
“Our orders,” The Sergeant began, but hesitated. The man groaned. She swallowed and looked ill.
“I’ll not kill an unarmed man, Siari.” Adden said finally, hefting the unconscious man over his shoulder. “Go find Degan and take care of that horse. She’s a loyal beast if nothing else. I’ll take him back to the city.”
The younger guard nodded, taking the loose reigns and murmuring words to the horse who watched with uncanny interest as her rider was carried off.
If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.
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.
Ryuu was fixated on a small black beetle on the ground. His nose twitched and his frill rustled as he crept slowly followed it,his body undulating with each step. Xin leaned against the fence watching him, part of her amused. The questions Launi had asked swirled in her mind, and old half forgotten memories were trying to whisper at her. Her mother’s voice, Matau’s, stories she hadn’t remembered until after she’d left. All of them were bubbling up, faint memories of rebellion talk and argument. She rubbed her forehead and made a note to try to write it down, to tell Launi after the festival. For now she fought remembering whatever it was that wanted her to remember.
Her jumbled thoughts halted abruptly as a faint breeze breeze danced over her skin. She smiled and half turned. Aitelle absently pushed her hair back and leaned against the rail beside her.
“What did she want?” The Air Elemental bumped her shoulder against Xin’s. “You look like you’re about to fall asleep right there.”
Xin stared at the sand dragon and took a deep breath. “She wanted to know about Dhaul. About my family.And old rumors.” She looked at Aitelle. “Nothing big. Nothing I was able to answer though.”
“She did that with me.” Aitelle shuddered. “It was hard trying to explain the village I was from. How I found Ryuu,”
“How did you find him?” Xin asked and instantly regretted it when Aitelle grimaced. “Never mind, I’m sorry,”
“No. No it’s fine.” Aitelle made a clicking noise with her tongue and Ryuu’s head snapped up. The sand dragon made a whining noise and, being careful not to step on the bug, made his way over, pushing his snout against Aitelle’s outstretched hand. “When I was seven or eight I woke up early one morning and went out exploring.” She rubbed Ryuu’s muzzle and scratched the heavy ridge over his eyes. “I was practicing my abilities near a stream by the old *namehere* ruins.”
“The ruins?” Xin looked at her startled. The jumbled and twisted rock and metal they’d found in the desert. Tier had told them that it was the ruins of an ancient Air Elemental city. It was just beyond that, that they found the burned village. Xin’s stomach twisted painfully. Aitelle nodded, not looking her way.
“I saw smoke coming from the village.” Her voice dropped and she took a deep breath. “Nekarians burned it, killed everyone in their beds.” She looked at Xin. “I know they say that there are no elementals besides the seeress in Nekar, but there was an elemental there that day. She wore black with a flame symbol on her shoulder. She was burning everything. And everyone. And when some of the soldiers protested,” Aitelle shuddered. “She burned them too. All of them were afraid of her.”
Xin’s mouth went dry. More old memories, legends told around the dunarch fire pit in the cold, icy winters swirled up only to dissipate as Aitelle continued.
“I ran into the canyons. I don’t remember how far, or how long.” She tipped her head looking at Ryuu and sad smile on her face. “I stumbled down a steep hill and found the nest. All the eggs had been cut, were moldy, but his. He hatched in front of me and we’ve been together ever since. We made our way here to Sandau.” She scratched Ryuu’s eyeridge laughing as the sand dragon’s eyes slowly closed, his back leg and tail twitching madly.
“Launi was very thorough when she asked questions. I still have headaches thinking about it.” Aitelle looked at her. “Festival is tomorrow and tonight is the Opening Ceremony. Lots of food, dancing, happy things. Come on, it’s a beautiful ceremony. You can’t stay here while the rest of us are having fun.”
Xin hesitated then nodded. Aitelle beamed, though there was still a heavy saddness around her. Xin linked her arm through Aitelle’s and they talked quietly as they made their way back to the town square.
The sun was sinking below the horizon and the paper lanterns gently, magically lit lighting the walkways. Some of the townsfolk began singing as Xin and Aitelle sat on the steps of a large house, and were joined by Geb and several other youths he’d befriended. Across from them was the entrance to the Temple where Lady Launi, now in a near sparkling bare armed gown stood. Lord Nesh and several others were nearby talking in low, serious voices.
A loud gong rang and Xin could hear the sounds of chimes, bells and flutes and a cheer from those watching. The priests and priestesses of Sandanu, the dragon god of the Sandau people, were coming up the road joyfully singing, though Xin couldn’t make out the words.
There were ceremonies like this, back in Dhaul, celebrations honoring the old powers of the water elementals and the yearly festival celebrating the god Dagoth and the Seeress, but they were often overshadowed by dread. The Seeress’s hunters and sometimes the Voice, would attend those celebrations, ensuring that the Seeress was given her proper respect. Those watching were haunted by the knowledge that the Seeres could, at any time, decide Dhaul had outlived its usefulness.
When that happened, the oldtimers whispered, no one would be spared. It would be the slaughter of the fortress all over again. Xin rubbed her upper arms, fighting off a sudden chill. What had happened when Tier and Rale arrived in Nekar? There had been no whisper, no word. She’d half expected Tier to send some message, some note. Something, letting her know he was well. She was left to wonder, and dreaded the answer. There was a touch on her shoulder and she glanced over forcing herself to smile at the concerned Geb. He leaned over.
“Are you all right?” Those large eyes saw far more than they should.
Xin nodded and patted his hand. “Just thinking.” Understanding lit his eyes and he nodded, turning his gaze back on the priests passing in front of them.
The priests were carrying two altars, one with a statue of a dragon, wings unfurled, mouth agape. The other had a statue of a nude woman on horseback with a child in front of her, a spear raised over her head.
“Sandanu the Dragon god, and his lover Sensua the Horse Goddess.” Aitelle said in a low voice. Xin glanced at her. Aitelle’s eyes were bright, as though she were going to cry.
“She’s naked.” Geb said dryly. Aitelle swiped at him but he ducked, sticking his tongue out at her.
A woman standing nearby laughed, leaning towards them. “Legend says she preferred going as nature intended. Much to the delight of the tribesmen.”
“I’d bet.” Aitelle chucked.
“She taught the Sandau people how to ride, how to hunt on horseback.” Another woman said, nodding towards the procession.
“She was woman before Sandanu made her his lover, made her a goddess.” The first woman said.
“She was human?” Xin asked. The woman made her way over and nodded.
“And she became lovers with a dragon god?” Geb was frowning. “How?”
“Some things we just don’t question.” The second woman said sagely.
Xin chuckled, watching Launi and the Priests as they set the two statues on pedestals. She couldn’t hear what was said, but a feeling of peace filled the town square and someone, somewhere started to sing. Xin didn’t recognize the tune, or the haunting words.
“Tomorrow are the Elemental Trials.” Aitelle whispered to Xin as the singing ended and they started to make their way back to the Inn.
“Trials?” Xin glanced at her.
“Just a friendly competition between elementals of certain upper ranks. I love watching them. And when the Masters step up,” Aitelle sighed with a smile. “Things get really flashy!”
They gathered around the training grounds near dawn. The townsfolk were dressed in their finery, colors and patterns reflecting which of the elemental groups they were supporting. Aitelle was in pale blue shirt and trousers, her hair piled on top of her head.
“They’re placing bets on who will win.” Aitelle patted her hand on a bench. They’d been set up a distance from the recently created moat. It was, she informed them, a safety feature. “Rumor has it, one year a large rock hit the crowd because they were too close.”
Xin stared at her. Aitelle smiled and nodded towards the hastily erected canopy on the far side of the training grounds. Lady Launi was standing with her head bowed and her brows pulled together. Alone the outer edges of the moat pale white glowing light shone, designs etched along the ground as if by an invisible hand were drawing them. “Lady Launi is preparing the protective glyphs so that doesn’t happen again.”
“What do the glyphs do?” Geb asked before Xin could.
“They keep rocks, flame and water inside the training ground.” Aitelle smoothed the front of her tunic. A cheer rose from the crowd as the sparring elementals entered the training grounds.
For several hours Xin found herself entranced, watching the powerful elementals casually use their abilities to block attacks, and strike out at their opponents. They took a break at mid-day, vendors brought drinks and food and when the gong was struck again, it was the first of the masters to have a go at it.
“I thought those others were good,” Geb murmured at her ear. “The masters,” he shook his head.
Geb nodded as they watched a water elemental and a rock shaper banter back and forth. Xin glanced at him and grinned, remembering their own little battle in the canyons of the deserts.
“We could teach em a thing or two.” Geb whispered. Xin nodded and joined the crowd in clapping when the water elemental knocked down the rock shaper and used the water as a hand to drag the rock shaper into the moat surrounding the sparring ground.
Xin didn’t hear the final score, the crowd began to cheer when Lady Iro and Lord Nesh stepped onto the sparring ground, talking in a light hearted manner. They were both in loose fitting clothing, tunics tied at the waist with thick colored rope. He in a deep red, her in a pale brown, the ropes at their waists matching their clothing. They bowed to each other and silence fell over the crowd in anticipation.
They faced each other, each in a fighting stance, eyes locked on each other. Xin barely saw the first movement, rock shot from the ground deflected from Nesh by a white blue flame. When the rock hit the ground it was glowing red. The two circled each other, then in a flurry of movement, rocks flew, flames shot from the ground and smoke filled the air as rocks melted.
Xin risked a glance at Geb, the youth’s jaw was slack his eyes wide.
“He’s melting the rocks.” He whispered.
“Some say he has the Holy Flame.” Aitelle said quietly, her eyes riveted on the Firelord.
“Euka said that. What is the Holy Flame?” Xin asked, flinching when Iro ducked, rolled under a stream of flame, then shot a heavy slab of stone from the ground at the Firelord.
“The Holy Flame.” Aitelle, let out a long hissing breath as Nesh narrowly avoided getting hit by the slab of stone. “Is the ultimate ability of a Firelord. Water Elementals have the Healing Spring, my people were said to have the Weather Control ability, and the Earth Shapers had metal and glass shaping. The Holy flame is a bit different. Some say it’s a healing flame, others say a wall of unstoppable force. But it’s different in each Firelord. No one knows for sure how Nesh’s would manifest, if he does have it. I’ve never heard anyone who has actually seen him do it.”
“Shades!” Geb hissed.
Xin glanced towards the sparring ground but missed whatever it was. Both Nesh and Iro were sloshing out of the moat, laughing. The crowd sighed as two tall elementals, a man and woman, stepped from under the canopy, hands help up. They spoke in quiet voices to Nesh and Iro before turning towards the crowd.
“A tie.” Aitelle shook her head. “They’ve tied the past three years.” Aitelle sighed.
“I don’t know how the judges could tell who was better.” Xin admitted, standing and stretching. The crowd was surging towards the dripping elemental masters.
“I barely understand it myself. There’s a huge following though. Up north there are whole seasons dedicated to the competitions.” Aitelle linked her arm with Xin’s and they made their way back to the old inn. “Someday I want to go north, to Tyrsleth and beyond.”
“What’s stopping you?”
Aitelle nodded towards the yard where Ryuu was sunning himself, stretched diagonally from one end of the yard to the other, his tail twitching periodically. “They say there are rouge dragons in the northern mountains. And it’s cold. I don’t know how he would handle the cold.”
“What does he do here?” Xin hadn’t considered it.
“There’s a basement under the inn, with a huge old baking oven. He usually sleeps through the coldest part of the year down there. I could, I suppose, travel north when he’s sleeping, but,” Aitelle frowned. “I’m afraid to leave him behind.”