Some things I’ve learned about me, I have to call off for the summer. There’s no getting around it, I just don’t do summers. I have no concentration, little motivation, and my demons are loudest through June and July. I’m really not able to get back to me until about september. I have to accept that I just don’t get anything writing wise done.
I jump the gun, a lot. I over plan then stress, then when I fail to reach my ridiculousgoals, I beat myself up. It’s self sabotaging, I get that. So I’m scaling things down a bit. BP’s edits got interrupted and I’m still trying to catch up. If you’re interested in checking out BP, I’m posting it, chapter by chapter over on the Patreon. The prologue and first chapter are free, fwiw.
The Patreon: Well, I’m working on making some changes to the goodies. I’m also considering posting other things, scenes, snippets, and tidbits from other stories, still wishy washy about that atm.
Wattpad: Did you know I still have the Wattpad? And E1 is still up? I put it back up here and Wattpad a few months ago, right before getting used as a landing pad for family. Long story, you really don’t want to know LOL. I’m also debating putting up other, free stuff over there. Let me know if there’s something you want to see more of.
I hope you all have a great holiday season, for whatever you celebrate.
My stepson and his gf and their children stayed with us for a few months this summer.
I will never subject myself to that again. Seriously, that was a BAD idea.
Trying to get a handle on my health. Several issues have been neglected and have come to a head. I’m now getting them handled, but years of self neglect are taking their toll.
all of this has, of course, impacted my creative side. June and July are always bad months, with everything else, I was lucky I got anything done.
One of these days I need to sit down and do a series on Depression, Bipolar and Creativity. But at the moment I just don’t have the energy.
I am absolutely heartbroken over the events the other night in Las Vegas. When I was a kid, my grandfather would take me fossil hunting in the mountains around Vegas. They lived there for several years and we’d drive from San Diego to Las Vegas about once a month to visit. While I never called it home, it holds a special place in my heart. FWIW, the few folks I know personally who live there have all reported that they’re safe and sound.
On top of the horrors of the suffering in Puerto Rico and this incompetent administration’s response. On top of Houston, and the kids being here… I’m emotionally exhausted.
So, easing back into writing. My brain is started to think in terms of stories again. I’m hoping it’s not a temporary thing.
One step at a time. I may have taken a hiatus, but it doesn’t mean I’m gone for good, or no longer writing or planning on publishing new stuff. I’m here, and I’m going to be around for a very long time, I can promise you that. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for me. Fun stuff.
I hope you are all doing well. Tonight I’m going to take a long bubble bath and read a book. And try to continue getting on with being ME.
Self care is important. Self care is vital to our mental health. There is nothing wrong, at all, with turning off social media, with getting back to the cosey nights reading a good book in the bath. Don’t neglect yourselves. Find what helps you cope in these difficult times and don’t let anyone or anything convince you, you shouldn’t do it.
Happy October folks. Take care. And please, be kind to each other.
So I forgot to schedule the payment for the domain and the site was *poof* for a bit. Obviously I got it straightened out, but there was that moment of sheer ‘OH FUCK!’ that had me in a near panic when I realized what happened.
This is another way of saying June is not ever a good month.
From now on I think I’ll be shutting down for the summer. With kids* and things, I’m just too busy.
But back to school is just around the corner. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I have memory issues, I won’t lie. I’m going to be bringing it up to the doctor at my next appointment. I went to schedule stuff for june, and… well I remember scheduling stuff. over at the patreon and here. I apparently didn’t. There aren’t drafts saved in the back office either here or patreon so I think I’m mis-remembering things.
This is kinda scary fwiw. it could be stress induced and up until this past week it’s been very stressful. Mind you there’s still stress stuff, but it’s not as severe/world is ending sorta stress. Or it could be some genuine issues. Either way my writing has ground to a halt as summer has progressed.
I’m working on getting caught up with stuff.
Bear with me.
Anywho, I hope you are all having a good summer. Mine has been good so far, stress aside.
This week has been busy, writing wise. Something in my head has clicked. I’ve been writing. Averaging 10 to 15 pages a day (2500 words or more). Scenes that have stumped me over the years have become clearer than ever and I’ve been scrambling to keep up with the ideas, scenes, and such. I’m starting to feel more like Me than I have in a long time. And I’m writing. And finishing.
Currently BP is sitting at just under 80k. I’m so very close to calling this completely DONE I can almost taste it LOL. Once it’s done, it’ll go off to the Beta readers, and I’ll schedule the rest of it over at the Patreon . And then I’ll re-focus on E1.
E1 is back up (I think I mentioned it last week, I don’t remember) and I’ll tackle the final edits and gap filling and get IT scheduled as soon as BP is firmly off the ‘to finish’ list.
Once those are done, well I’ve got a stack of unfinished things to finish finishing. >.>
So, with this resurgence in writing, it might seem that life has calmed down. Nope, it hasn’t. In fact on the 25th my 11 year old broke his pinky knuckle playing toss the football while he and a friend waited for the buss. I spent that evening at the ER and the following day trying to find an Orthopedic Surgeon. The 27th was spent in Dr’s offices, trying to determine WHAT to do (brace or cast. We opted for a cast fwiw).
Yet I’ve been pushing out words. Maybe only a few hundred, but still. Writing is something I love. And something that has been pushed aside. And that leads me to the cold hard truth about Mental Illness. Not only does it suck, it also causes a major disruption in a person’s life. And sometimes medication really is the best answer to the chemical imbalance in the brain that results in depression, mood swings, bi-polar and a list of other brain affected ailments.
About three weeks ago I was finally able to get back on my medication that helps with my issues. The fact the medication is doing its job, balancing out the chemical imbalance in my brain, is reflected in the fact that, holy shit, I can WRITE again. My focus isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it’s been.
Once upon a time, I used to average at 2 – 3k a day. Or between 8 and 10 pages a day.
I’ve been doing that again. And it is a wonderful feeling to be able to get back to being ME.
Seriously, if you’re going to spout off those ‘the only therapy/medication I need is a walk through the woods’ you can just go kiss my ass. Sorry, that doesn’t work for everyone. If it did, I’d never have these issues.
I’ve been doing more reading, and surprisingly it’s not as much fiction as one would think. I got several of Dean Wesley Smith‘s books, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s books and power read through them. Those have gone a long way it helping me find my writing footing again. Thanks Dean & Kris. In rereading their blogs I stumbled across the Writing Story Bundle over here (more about what the Story Bundle is over here). Part of the bundle includes one of Dean’s online lecture series on the Master Plot Formula. I already got the Writing as an Investment lecture series and WOW talk about eye opening. Even the hubs (not a reader OR writer) sat and listened to in, nodding his way through. So I knew the Master Plot Formula lectures would be as educational.
I was right (I started to type ‘write’ **snickers**) Folks I would HIGHLY recommend investing in those two lecture series, at the very least do the Story Bundle and you get the one as part of the bundle (there are some really GOOD books in that bundle too). As a writer, in this day and age, educating yourself with the ins and outs of how the business works is a must. You can’t expect do be around for any length of time without understanding how it breaks down.
Changing one’s perspective and mindset is not easy. Especially when you’re fighting long held dreams. Especially when those dreams are founded on myth and not reality. I’ve re-connected with my writing/creative brain, due to a combo of the correct meds and changing how I look at writing.
The books I got which helped (not in the story bundle, I’m still working my way through those) were:
Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indi Publishing Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Buisness Rules for Writing How to Write Fiction Sales Copy (I’m still reading on this one) Think Like a Publisher
The Pursuit of Perfection (DUDES READ THIS)
Those were my birthday presents to myself.
Lets see there was something else writing wise I was going to mention but I forgot. I’ll remember later.
I was going to vent about politics, but I don’t have the heart to. What I will say it we are not done resisting and it’s going to be a long four years.
I think that just about wraps it up. OH I’ve deleted my livejournals. I’m over at Dreamwidth now (actually just dusted it off a bit) but I’m really bad about posting over there. https://necia-phoenix.dreamwidth.org/ Now it’s time to get back to writing.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on getting myself back on track with writing. With the posting BP on the Patreon, I’ve found myself a lot more motivated. Having things settling in the home life is helping too. So I was at the website going over the backoffice stuff and discovered that there were hits to my site coming from a site called Web Fiction Guide.
Apparently when I first started posting Elemental Truth, I’d gone over and submitted it so it would be listed. Then life happened and I completely forgot about it. Basically it lists your web fiction, allows people to give reviews and whatnot. Well at the bottom of the Elemental Truth listing, was a review.
Let me say, for the record, I try not to read reviews. For a number of reasons, the biggest being, reviews aren’t for me. They’re for the reader. Well I went ahead and skimmed over this review. Then skimmed over it again. And a third time. Each time my jaw was firmly sitting in my lap and the hubsbeast pointed out if I didn’t close my mouth, a bug might try to make my acquaintance.
The kind review is over here. Seriously people I am so stunned. Reviewer, thank you for your kind words. I hope I haven’t chased you away for good with my hiatus.
Perfectionism is a big problem with me. I find myself agonizing over whether it’s good enough or not. I see blaring issues.
I’m not sure what my thinking was when I pulled E1 offline. But to see someone who liked it, along with what I’d already been reading and my reawakening writing brain, I decided to go ahead and put E1 back up. I also fixed the TOC issue mentioned in the review (sorry bout that) and took a hard look at my writing schedule and what E1 needs to be called DONE.
The Patreon is scheduled through the end of May, so I can set BP aside and get E1 wrapped up. All I need to do, is filler for about five or six scenes. That’s it. That was all I needed when life crashed around me and I tucked it all away so I could focus on RL. Well now the focus is back on writing and I have a lot of projects I need to get finished and pubbed.
So that’s what I’ll be working on over the next week, and getting back on schedule for E1. I believe I’ll be posting on Thursdays, since the Patreon chapters are posted on Tuesdays (hey it makes sense in my head).
I’ll need to get a copy editor, and possibly redo the covers for both books. It would be nice to be able to pub both of them this summer. But we’ll see. The big thing for me is to finish E1’s posting online.
I picked up a copy of Starla Huchton‘s new book Wild at Heart. It is book five in the series but I’ve been assured by both Starla and several friends that they’re stand alones (my fav type of series). So once E1 is done I’m going to dive into it. The cover is absolutely GORGEOUS.
I’ve got a list of other books, suggested by several friends, which I’m planning on picking up.
Anywho. I hope you all have a blessed weekend. Happy Easter for those who celebrate it.
I’ve been practicing writing blurbs and I think I need a lot more practice. I wanted to write one for BP. All day, yesterday I struggled with writing it, I read other book blurbs, I wrote up several versions and hated them all because I felt so lost. Then a couple dear friends, including J.A. Marlow helped me by tweaking what I wrote and rewriting it, in essence, showing me how to condense it to something to catch someone’s attention.
So naturally I thought I’d share em here. 😛
The Bastard Prince
A past to overcome. A new path to forge. A looming shadow that could take it all away.
Sold to slavers, the only thing the illegitimate son of the king of Balinor can look forward to is a brutal life, and death, in the bottomless mines of Daglis. An unexpected encounter with the Lady of the Light frees him but leaves him stranded in the great Northern Rahaun Empire. Casting off the past, Damien Zander soon finds new friends and a possible new future of his own choosing.
But war clouds the horizon. A returning evil long thought destroyed that could darken all of Avaria.
And the Bastard Prince finds himself caught right in the middle of it.
So this morning, I worked up one for book 2, The Sarukai Lord
The journey continues, the shadows deepen. The chance of a lifetime at his fingertips.
In all his wildest dreams, Damien Zander, the Bastard Prince, never imagined being accepted into the exclusive order of the Sarukai. Nor being given the opportunity to travel with Tienovey, the Lady of the Light, much less learning beneath the Guardian of the Light himself. It’s not an opportunity to miss. But the Sarukai have their own secrets and darkness has crept into even their noble ranks. If it’s not stopped, it will destroy the Sarukai from the inside out.
And the shadows have targeted the Guardian himself. For if he falls, so too will the Northern Empire.
It’s up to Zander and Tienovey to ensure the Light doesn’t fade.
I’m still playing with the book three blurb. I’ll add it here later. Anyways I wanted to share with you.
It’s been stressful. The election and first days of the new presidency has added stress and anxiety to everyone’s lives. In response to this, several writers around the web have put together some posts, threads and statements giving advice and encouragement to their peers. I thought I would list/link to those I know of here.
I’ve followed Elizabeth Bear since my days back on Livejournal. She shared this thread from Chuck Wendig on anxiety and self-care.
To those who are losing a lot of their will to create in the wake of President Tyrant:
Don’t let him and his orcs win. People NEED your books, stories, poems, paintings jewelry, dolls, knitting, tapestries, vases, weaving, dishes, every creation that comes from your hands. Every creation is a punch back at the haters and the heartless. Every word puts hope or thought or dreams or solace or fire into those who read it.
You become a different voice from the bullyraggers and the foolish; your ideals, wishes and convictions reach your audience, whether they are reading Dr. Seuss or James Joyce. You convey food for hope and imagination whether you realize it or not,and the most innocuous-seeming work gives those who partake of it something to go on with.
Keep soldiering on. Comedian or philosopher, baker or glassblower, writer of tomes or fan fiction, you’re needed now more than ever.
And here is a post from Kristine Rusch here* which states what I have said for some time;
…escape is rest. It’s important. It gets us away from the horrors, the terrible things, the stresses and upsetting moments of every day life.
Sometimes, art provides a different perspective, a new way of thinking about important things. And sometimes, we just hang out with a little boy wizard fighting a big powerful evil because it entertains us.
This is not light stuff. It is not unimportant. It is extremely important….
My Thoughts; We stand on the brink of change so drastic I can barely wrap my head around it. Self care is very important in these hectic times and it is not a bad thing to take time for yourself. Creating, in whatever form you use, is important. it matters. What YOU create matters. So to wrap it up, a reminder of a great commencement speech by Neil Gaiman in 2012 I believe.
If you know of other posts along these lines, by all means comment here with the link and I’ll add them to the post.
January was a difficult month. I’ve seen over and over on FB, Jan was the trial month, Feb is when 2017 ACTUALLY starts. Something I really can’t argue with. This morning, as I was coming home from grabbing a quick (and unhealthy) bite to eat I got bushwacked by an idea for the Avaria series. It wasn’t forced, it was the result of beating my head against the wall begging the creativity in me to please crawl out of the hole, I won’t let the monsters get you. It just jumped me from behind the bushes and I got a huge insight into a beloved character and explanation for some of his motives in the series (note; this wasn’t a Zander scene fwiw).
After months of blank brain, anxiety and depressed brain, I had clairity. and something else, kindof a startling realization; no anxiety at all. Yes there are concerns, I’ve got a lot on my plate atm, but the anxiety isn’t there. Anyone who has dealt with anxiety can relate that wonderful fresh feeling of being able to clearly think. However long it lasts, I’m glad it’s here.
SO, I’ll be getting fresh content stuff up and scheduled at the patreon page. Please check it out, maybe share it if you like it. Thoughts, ideas and suggestions are always welcome (even if I don’t agree with them). I’m slowly going through the website to fix links and whatnot some of this is way overdue for a cleansing.
Politics – Call your representatives. Write letters, share stories the media refuses to cover, and always ALWAYS check your sources! And if you have to, disconnect, take a walk, paint, write, turn off social media and the news, turn on a childhood fave, blast your music, let yourself rest and don’t, for the love of all that’s holy, DON’T FEEL GUILTY FOR HAVING TO SELF-CARE.
I hope those of you reading the serial have been enjoying it starting back up again. Again, I apologize for it taking so long. I’ve signed up for Camp NanoWrimo which kicks off in April. I’ll be writing E2. E1, will continue to be posted once a week (unless it’s a very short chapter, then you’ll get two a week) with a tentative wrap up in late May. I’m hoping to have the final edit done and formatted for both Ebook and Print by then end of Aug. I say HOPE, because this is my household and summers tend to be kinda… busy.
E2 – The tentative plan is to have E2 ready for sale by Nov. But we’ll see how that goes. The problem with me focusing on E2 is I have a few other projects I want done and out of the way before I dive with both feet into E2. Cause Once I do, it’s a roller coaster ride and I won’t want to stop working on the series. It’ll take my full attention.
Other Projects; I have a ton of em, and a few ‘projects of the heart’ that I want off my ‘plate’. Namely the Zander Books. There are 5 of them (did you know that) and they need to be finished. I’m feeling very anxious about getting these projects done.
Other plans; I’m going to be going back over the already pubbed shorts and doing some major fixes, possibly compiling and redoing the covers. I have a ton of thoughts on those, but for now let me say, I’m aware there are problems and I need to fix them. It’s on the list of things to do.
Anywho, I hope your month is going well, I hope 2016 is being nice. I haven’t decided if I’m happy with it or ready to fire it LOL.
March 1st is the relaunch of E1. We’re on ch 30 and the next chapter will post on the first. If you want to brush up on the story you can go here or over to wattpad here. There will only be one chapter a week at this point in time, as I’m juggling RL and writing stuff. As I wrap up the edits it may bounce up to two chapters a week, but I’m not sure. NOW. When it’s all done, I’ll leave it up for a month or so before it comes down and will be offered in both Ebook and Print formats. Price will be determined at that point in time.
Thank you, you folks who have stuck with me. I’m sorry it’s been dragging on so long.
The next project;
Editing; The Bastard Prince It has been lingering for way too long. It just needs a middle…
Writing: E2, Elemental Flame (working title) the second book in the series.
I’m going to be going through the website over the next couple of weeks and cleaning up bad links, broken links, and may possibly redo the theme completely. I’m also working on a schedule for the website, not too much cause, hey, I have a busy life. I’ll also be trying to fix tags (my last few posts I didn’t tag at all) and other stuff.
Elemental Truth. Ok so the serial is still ongoing. I am currently working on the next couple chapters which have had to be completely rewritten. I do love this story, and since life seems to be slowing to a managable rush, I’m trying to refocus energy in that direction.
NANOWRIMO I have always loved NaNo, some years it’s been an impossibility. This year might be one of those years. The biggest reason is that, if things work out right, I’ll be returning to school in nov. I’m not sure school and nano will work. We’ll see. Either way, I’ve been so exhausted for so long, I may just stand on the sidelines and cheer everyone on.
Have a great week, and hopefully things will be back on a schedule next week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In short, we’ve been struggling as a family. My son has been fighting addiction and it has dragged our whole family & routine down the drain. I’m working to find a balance between family, writing and other endeavors. I’ve found a stress easement with some new pets (ball pythons) which have helped with the general out of it I’ve been fighting.
I am sorry. I failed getting E1 up and posted on time. I probably lost what readers I have. If any of you are still around, light a candle, rub buddah’s belly, pray, whatever that y son can get a handle on his issues and that I can help him.
I’m working on the next couple chapters. The edits needed are minor, just a few tweaks and it should be done. I’ll try to get them scheduled this week. Again, I’m sorry. Life derailed me horribly and sometimes you just have to refocus.
Disclaimer; Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing. Hope you all enjoy it.*
It took them three weeks traveling along the southern trading route to get to the coast of Lorn. Another three weeks of travel, following the winding north road, brought them to the village of Dhaul. Once guarded over by the Fortress of Dhaul, a center of commerce, it had dwindled to a modest fishing village nestled between the ocean and the towering Dhaulation Mountains. The steep foothills looked, from a distance, blanketed by a sea of soft greens.
The village itself clustered around the old trading route road which switched from paved road to wide dirt path, winding through the southwestern territories of Nekar. In the center of the village was the market. Central hub of activity. Locals spread their wares to sell, hoping to catch the attention of the rare passersby. Tier stopped by a wagon filled with assorted fruits and vegetables, and glanced around. Though the villagers were continuing their usual activities, they were all watching him and Rale closely. Tier sighed. They were supposed to look for elementals here?
“Is that the fortress?” Rale pointed towards the southern granite face that towered over the valley. Tier could make out towers brushing the underside of dark clouds. He turned to the merchant, but the man was already speaking.
“We’ll have rain before nightfall, gracious lords.” He lifted a fruit, offering it to Rale. “Fruit’s the first off the tree, the very best!”
“What is that?” Rale took the fruit.
“Starfruit, only grows in this region.” Tier said absently. “How much?”
“For you, gracious lord, ’tis free.” The man bowed.
“I can’t take your wares without proper payment, good sir.” Tier pulled a coin out. “It’s not fair to you.”
The man’s eyes widened at the sight of the coin. “I will take no payment, gracious lord, but a donation would not be refused.”
“A donation then.” Tier handed him the coin and motioned toward the mountains. “Is there a pathway up to the Keep?”
The merchant frowned, tucking the coin into an inner pouch of his coat. “There is, but the way is dangerous, and overgrown. The imperials stopped patrolling that section of the road. There is a guide, though, he takes in travelers and takes people up the road. He’s never lost anyone.”
“Where would we find him?” Tier glanced around, the curious stares of the nearby villagers was unnerving, they needed to get out of sight before things turned ugly.
“Well, there is a dunurch up the road.” The merchant pointed. “The guide can often be found there. He’s a surly gossip, though.”
“I’ll consider myself warned.” Tier inclined his head as the merchant bowed, and steered Rale back towards the horses.
“A what?” Rale hissed as they walked away.
“A dunurch, it’s something like a restaurant or eating hall.” Tier said, glancing around the seemingly busy road. They had no guards, nothing to hint that they were more than just travelers passing through. The villagers sensed they were different. Eyes followed their every move. Tier untied his horse and motioned Rale to follow.
“They’re nosy.” Rale said.
Tier nodded. “We’ll stop at the dunurch and figure out where to go from here.”
“Do you have any idea what we are looking for?”
Tier shook his head and was several steps in front of Rale before he realized his cousin had halted. He half turned.
“Then what are we supposed to do?”
“We’ll discuss it over dinner.” Tier glanced around. “We’re drawing a crowd out here.”
He ignored Rale’s grumbles behind him. His cousin didn’t grasp the necessity of keeping his head down. He was far too used to the perks of his station. Tier doubted he’d ever traveled without an entourage or guard, except for the trip to the Oracle. In the outlaying provinces of the Empire, unless there was a guard, it wasn’t wise to announce your affiliation with the Imperial household. Resentment still ran deep. Though it had been over four hundred years since the storming of the fortress and the acquisition of Dhaul into the Empire, these people could relate the battle account as though it happened yesterday.
The dunurch was unnamed, probably a meeting place everyone knew about. They tied up their horses and Tier led the way. It was a wide, circular building, round low tables with cushions spaced in a circular pattern. The Dunurch Keeper hurried over, a thin aging man who bowed low, staring at Tier for an uncomfortable moment before his eyes widened and blood drained from his face.
“Please, no titles. We just need a table and light.”
“This way, most gracious lords.” The man bowed and turned walking stiffly around tables.
The cushions were worn and stained. Tier glanced at Rale’s dubious expression and settled on his.
“They don’t bite Rale.” Tier said. Rale started to say something then shook his head and cringed as he lowered himself to the stained cushion.
“I should have told her no thanks.”
“Do you think she would have taken that answer?” Tier asked. The Dunurch Keeper set a tray with an elaborate silver teapot and several little silver cups.
“The meal is a tasis over grain and steamed vegetables, is this acceptable?” The man was actually wringing his hands together.
“Sounds great.” Rale made a dismissal gesture and leaned forward, squinting at the shiny table top. “It looks clean.”
“Rale.” Tier scowled as the Dunurch Keeper stiffly walked towards the kitchen.
“Tier this place is filthy.”
“Do you want to sleep in the rain?” Tier asked, pulling a map out of his vest.
“No.” Rale said after a long pause. “I don’t want to die of sickness from bad food though.”
Tier poured tea into a small cup and handed it to Rale. “Then be nice to the people who give you food, here. The Empire isn’t exactly trusted in the outer territories.”
“Hmm. What next?”
Tier poured himself some of the tea, sipping it and glancing around the dunurch. They were the only guests, aside from the young woman and an older man sitting in the far corner of the room, speaking low in the local in the local rough dialect. No threat. He unfolded the map and set the tea to one side.
“She sent us here for a reason,” He said, tapping the map.
“Why?” Rale leaned forward, voice hushed. “Our likelihood of returning home alive is not good, Tier. There are no…” He sat back as several plates were deposited in front of them. “There are no more…”
“There were rumors around Jaktor that there were pockets of elementals hiding north of the mountains.” Tier said. “I didn’t give them much thought, until meeting the Seeress.” He finished his tea, folded the map away and motioned to the plates of food. “This doesn’t look half bad.”
They ate quickly and spoke little. Regulars began filing in, lightning lit up the sky, and each time the door opened a rush of cool moist air accompanied the new guests. As the Dunurch Keeper cleared the table Tier watched the young woman and old man in the far corner; both looked uneasy as the tables around theirs filled up.
“Good sir,” Tier lifted his hand, catching the attention of the Dunurch Keeper. “we’re looking for guides up the mountain.” Tier said. The Dunurch Keeper gestured toward the pair in the corner.
“Matau and his granddaughter know the mountain paths to the Keep, and beyond, better than anyone else.” He said. “You’d be wanting lodging too?”
“There’s an inn?” Rale said. The man shook his head.
“Matau.” The Dunurch Keeper waved him over and turned back to them. “He’s a gossip and Xin is a bit strange. But they have taken many up the mountain to the fortress and back safely and they take in lodgers. They’re the only ones who will.”
Tier nodded, watching the pair make their way over. The old man leaned heavily on his cane while the young woman followed behind at a distance. Her blue-gray eyes flickered over Tier and Rale, not quite meeting his gaze, before looking towards the Dunurch Keeper. Her dark hair was pulled back in a bun with two carved wooden hair-sticks in it. Though not very tall, there was something very peculiar about the way she stood, hands gripping the hem of her too-large tunic. She glanced back up, meeting Tier’s gaze then looked away. Oddly shaped blue eyes and the pale skin, Tier was intrigued. She didn’t fit in.
“Tis too late to go up the mountain.” The old man said, his words slurred. He settled on a cushion with a grunt, jabbing at the cushion between him and Tier. “Xin, sit.” She sat, keeping her eyes lowered.
“Shall I bark too, Matau?” She asked, her voice low.
“Hush, girl. The road to the fortress is steep, and dangerous.”
“Howso?” Rale asked.
“Bandits, spirits, wild animals.” Matau shrugged.
“How long do you plan on staying up in the Fortress?” Xin asked.
“A day or two,” Tier shrugged. “Then on to Delebeg.”
The Xin and Matau exchanged a dubious look. “There are outlaws in the forests beyond the fortress. Since there are so few Imperial Patrols in this area, they gather in those mountain passes, robbing those passing through.”
“Tier…” Rale began. Their perspective guides gasped in unison.
“Prince Tier?” Xin asked, staring at him with wide eyes. Tier inclined his head, shooting a dark glare at Rale. He was going to have some strong words with his cousin. She shook her head. “What is an imperial Prince doing in the backwoods sticks of the empire? Without a guard?”
“None of your business, girl.” Rale snapped.
“Personal curiosity.” Tier said. They needed these two, to guide them up the mountain. He’d rather have a guide than fumble through unknown, possibly hostile territory.
Xin’s eyes narrowed. “If we’re going to be guiding both your lordships up the mountain, knowing who we’re dealing with is my business, my lord.” She leaned forward, pinning Rale with an unfriendly stare. “I’m not going to risk my neck if you two are going to put us in danger, I don’t care who you are. Your highness.”
“Xin.” Matau rested his hand on her shoulder, knuckles white. “Go make sure the cots are prepared for our esteemed guests.”
She looked at him, her expression hard. She stood, gave a stiff bow, and left.
“Forgive my granddaughter, she has a sharp tongue.” Matau sighed. “However, she’s right, your lordships. Is the danger worth the coin?”
“Our business will bring neither you nor your people danger, good sir. ‘Tis a personal interest in the fortress that brings us here.” Tier said smoothly.
“It’s a day and a half one way. There is a small cabin on the side of the mountain we stay in overnight. The weather is changeable.”
“Your price?” Rale asked.
Matau named an amount and Rale made a noise that Tier wasn’t sure if he was amused or annoyed. Tier nodded.
“Half now,” Tier set the money on the table. “Half on our arrival at the fortress.”
Matau’s eyes narrowed. He hit the table with a fist. “Done.”
The next chapter will be posted Tues, June 10th.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
(c) 2014 Necia Phoenix
There might be some formatting adjustments as I figure this out, please bear with me.