Clyde B. Northrup

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Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 1, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on January 19, 2018 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

19 January 2018

 

In today’s installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we join Master Klaybear in their sanctuary beneath Shimar, weeding their garden before the others return to discuss the problem of the ice. . . .


Chapter 1, Part 3


Klaybear looked up from the weeds he was pulling from their garden, sensing the opening of an archway nearby. The light in the cavern indicated late afternoon. The green kailu stretched as he straightened, looking to where the gray shimmering archway had opened; he saw Kovaine step out of the archway, leading a gray mare to which was tied a red stallion. He brushed the dirt off his hands on the front of his robes and moved to the fence surrounding their garden; he waved to Kovaine as Blakstar stepped through the archway, the gray shimmering winking out as soon as the kortexi lifted his sword.

“I have wondered when you two would return to us,” he noted in his strong bass voice. “I missed your charming face and musical voice.”

“As we have missed you, dear brother,” Kovaine replied, handing her reins to her husband, who nodded once to Klaybear, then led both mounts into the stable.

Klaybear strode to where Kovaine waited, just outside the door into the stable and the main room of their sanctuary; he embraced her fondly, smiling down at her. “What brings you home after so long?”

“The ice wall has reached Kalan to the north, and the farmers have all begun moving south,” she noted, taking his arm and allowing him to lead her into the stable. Klaybear saw that Blakstar had already unsaddled her mare, and was just finishing with his stallion. The kortexi moved around the two mounts and filled their mangers with hay, adding a scoop of grain to each. He then added hay to the other mangers, where Klaybear and Thal’s mounts stood. “We believe the ice will soon reach Shimar, in the next fifty years at its current rate of travel,” she added, her eyes on Blakstar.

“Have they been exercised today?” Blakstar asked.

Klaybear nodded. “Thal brought them in from the cavern a few minutes before you arrived,” he replied, reaching out and gripping Blakstar’s arm. “Welcome home,” he added.

“It is good to see you up and active again, my brother,” Blakstar smiled, returning Klaybear’s handshake. “We have grave news.”

Klaybear nodded. “We just got the Headmaster’s annual report,” he noted, “and we have been discussing what we should do about it, if there is anything we can do.”

“Thal is still of the opinion that the ice is a natural cycle?” Kovaine asked.

“We have not seen anything to contradict that idea,” Klaybear replied.

Blakstar shook his head. “It feels wrong to me,” he said, “but I cannot locate the source of the wrongness; we have been back and forth across the continent, several times, and have found nothing.”

“Perhaps because the source of your wrongness is not here, in the north,” Thal’s voice came through the door into their sanctuary’s central room, followed by the maghi himself.

Blakstar turned and looked at Thal. “What do you mean, not in the north?” he asked, and then went on before Thal could answer. “The ice is here, so the wrongness must be here–isn’t that logical?”

“Not necessarily,” Thal answered. “We have too often focused all our attention on the northern half of our world, ignoring what is going on in the south.”

“That is not precisely true, Thal,” Kovaine said, taking Blakstar’s arm with her free arm and leading both Klaybear and Blakstar into the central room of their sanctuary. The table was still the same, with all the original chairs still around it, although they only used four of the twelve. “We have been south to the central continent, where the nefalem, the converted ponkolum and purem, have dwelt since the Great Year.”

“Granted,” Thal agreed, returning to his own chair and the piles of scrolls and books covering most of the upper half of the table. “But that is still not the southern hemisphere of our world; we have not ventured there, nor do we have much information on the people living there.”

“I still don’t under–” Blakstar began, but Thal interrupted him.

“You have been all across our northern continent,” the white maghi said, “and found nothing to indicate the source of the wrongness you feel; therefore, the source of the wrongness must be elsewhere, somewhere you have not been, which implies the central or southern continents, of which we know so little.”

“Are you suggesting that some of us should go south,” Klaybear said, moving around the table to sit across from Thal; Blakstar helped Kovaine into her chair, then sat beside her, “to look for the source of the ice?”

Thal frowned, shifting some of the scrolls in front of him. “Perhaps, if there is nowhere north we haven’t checked.”

Blakstar made an indelicate sound. “Here we go again,” he said.

Kovaine put a hand on his arm. “Easy, my love,” she said, “Thal is pointing to some things we have not considered.”

Blakstar rolled his eyes, and Kovaine hushed him, causing Thal to smile at them. Klaybear’s chest tightened, missing Klare.

“Is there anywhere in the north we haven’t checked?” Klaybear asked, distracting himself from thinking of Klare.

“We have been everywhere,” Blakstar answered.

“We haven’t actually been north, onto the ice flows,” Kovaine clarified.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Thal said, and then looked at Klaybear. “How do you feel about an expedition north?”

Klaybear frowned, remembering their passage through the ice realm of Shigmar’s tomb. “It wouldn’t be my first choice of places to go,” he answered, “but if you see the need . . . ,” he went on without finishing his thought, shrugging in the process.


Next time, our heroes make plans in order to determine the source of the ice, and what they should do, if anything. Until then, get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 1, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on January 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

16 January 2018


In this installment from the first chapter of the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we continue with Blakstar and Kovaine as they head south to their sanctuary, speaking with Master Thalamar along the way. . . .


Chapter 1, Part 2

Blakstar smiled and squeezed her hand. “Five hundred years later and you are still teaching me manners,” he said, turning and leading her on to the place where their horses waited. He helped her mount her gray mare, then he climbed onto his red stallion. They rode south out of the village, heading toward the city now called Shimar, the former Shigmar, where their sanctuary was still hidden. In the late afternoon, he turned aside from the road to the west, skirting the small lake before Shimar’s gates, choked with ice, moving up the hill and past a screen of low, tangled bushes, covering the entrance to a small cave. They dismounted, moving around the shrubs and leading their horses into the hidden cave. Handing his reins to Kovaine, Blakstar drew will-giver in a shower of golden flames, drawing a small circle on a large, flat rock, flattened just for this purpose, opening a small archway to Thal. His head appeared at once, his hair no longer red, although there were hints among the gray; his face was long and free of wrinkles, his nose as prominent as ever.

“Good day, Blakstar, Kovaine,” Thal said, “to what do I owe the pleasure of your contact?”

Kovaine laughed her musical laugh. “Dear Master Thalamar,” she said as she laughed, “you are ever the charmer.”

“We were wondering how he was doing?” Blakstar asked. “We will not return if he is still mourning.”

“You mean, moping,” Thal replied, smiling widely.

“He must be sitting with you,” Kovaine said, “or you would not be criticizing him so.”

“Actually, he is in the garden, working,” Thal replied. “Was I this bad?” he asked.

“Hardly,” Kovaine replied. “You moped only for decades, while he has been moping for nearly a century!”

Thal laughed, and Blakstar saw a flash of the former white maghi, looking like a deranged scarecrow escaped from some field.

“I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt,” Thal went on after controlling his mirth. “He was with Klare five times as long as I was with Rose, so I suppose the comparison between us breaks down.”

Blakstar made an indelicate sound before speaking. “Matters have arisen that require our attention,” he said, not able to hide his impatience.

Thal smiled. “Always to the point, my brother,” he said. “You are thinking of the seas, or the ice, or maybe both.”

Kovaine laughed again. “You’ve covered all possibilities well, my brother!”

Thal nodded. “Headmaster Mylo has sent us messages, almost on a daily basis,” he said, “all about the ice, or the seas, and the refugee problem, and the food problem, and so on.”

“You must have just received his annual report,” Kovaine noted.

“Yes,” Thal replied, “and he tells us that the school is nearly empty, the families of the students having withdrawn them and moved south. I imagine that Ferghen Delgo is at this moment trying to decide what to do with all the people moving into the capital, and how to import more foodstuffs from the south, with the Inner Sea cut-off from the ocean.”

“Our question is still the same,” Blakstar said, trying to turn the conversation back to important matters, “can we return to discuss what we will do about these problems? I still say there is something wrong with the ice–it doesn’t feel right to me.”

“We have work to do,” Thal answered, “so your question is irrelevant: he will have to get over it and move on; we have responsibilities that must be fulfilled.”

Blakstar nodded once. “Breaking contact,” he said. “We will be there in moments.” As he lifted the point of will-giver, closing the small archway, his last glimpse of Thal was the white maghi’s curt nod, shaking his mass of wild, gray hair, and looking again like the escaped scarecrow.


Next time, we will enter the sanctuary as Klaybear pulls weeds from their garden, and the caretakers of the world discuss what they should do about the ice. Until then, get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 1, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on January 12, 2018 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

12 January 2018


We begin the story proper today in this installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. We join a pair of familiar characters in the former home of Klare and Shigmar, now bearing a different name, almost a century after the previous scene. We see them contemplating the wall of ice as it engulfs Krystal Lake. . . .


Chapter 1, Part 1

Atno 4059, Summer

“We cannot remain here any longer, my lord,” Belki stated simply; he was the thuro of Kalan, a wethi a head shorter than Blakstar, with gray hair and eyes, his hair chopped-off just below his ears. “The growing season has gotten shorter and shorter, and we can no longer support ourselves, let alone supply food to anyone else. Most have already left, going south to warmer climes,” he sighed and shook his head, his shoulders hunched as if he carried a burden too heavy.

“You are not alone, Belki,” Blakstar replied, “the growing season has shortened all across the north; the remaining farmers are also moving south. Hardest hit are the coastal towns and villages, for the withdrawal of the sea is as damaging as the approaching wall of ice,” Blakstar pointed across the frozen surface of Krystal Lake; they stood next to the outlet of the river on the shore of the lake, the river only a trickle beneath the ice, the ground around them frozen and covered with packed snow. He turned, hearing a soft footfall behind him, and his face widened into a grin, seeing his lady moving gracefully toward him, the thuro’s wife in tow. The Lady Kovaine appeared to be in her late twenties, with golden hair and blue eyes, dressed in dark-colored divided skirts and a cream colored blouse, high riding boots in a shade that matched her skirts; a fur-lined cloak rested on her shoulders, and she carried her gloves tucked into her belt. The thuro’s wife, named Lenna, was an image of her husband, same height, same strong build, her hair gray with hints of brown; she moved to stand beside Belki, taking his hand and shooting him a weak smile.

“We have informed the last family, Belki,” Lenna said, her voice harsh compared to Kovaine’s musical voice.

“Stop that!” Kovaine said as she moved up to Blakstar. His hair was still black, with streaks of gray at the temples, falling straight to his shoulders.

“Stop what?” he asked.

“Stop grinning like a newlywed!” she snapped, but her mouth, too wide for her elfin face, reflected his grin.

“I cannot help it, every time I look at you, my dear,” he said, but he did manage to stop himself from grinning down at her; he took both her hands in his, then kissed her forehead.

“This is why we are out here,” she said, “rather than in our sanctuary with our brothers; Klaybear has not stopped mourning the loss of Klare.”

“Mistress Klarissa, the healer, has died?” Lenna asked.

Blakstar snorted, and Kovaine shot him an angry glance.

“It has been over seventy years since she died,” Kovaine noted, “her place as healer taken by one of their descendants, Mistress Marsa.”

Belki’s eyes widened. “That’s longer than either of us have lived!” he exclaimed, disbelief coloring his voice. “And he is still in mourning?”

“Sadly, yes,” Kovaine answered, “but remember that they have been together since before the Great Year, almost five-hundred years.”

Belki shook his head. “People don’t live that long,” he said. “It’s not right.”

“Do not envy us, Belki,” Kovaine said. “Our long lives have not been without excruciating losses: how would you like to watch your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all grow and die, while you never age a day?”

“We were appointed caretakers of this world,” Blakstar added, “and it is our duty to deal with problems such as this one,” he went on, pointing again to the wall of ice moving inexorably across the lake toward the nearly abandoned village.

“We still think this may only be a natural cycle of the life of our world,” Kovaine put in, trying to pacify the thuro.

Blakstar shook his head. “This ice feels wrong to me,” he said, “and you sound like our brothers, endlessly debating long past the time for action.”

Kovaine reached up and touched his cheek gently. “Yes, my husband,” she said, “our brothers do tend to over think things, but that is what they are best at, especially Thal; no one knows better the science of our world, and we would do well to listen to his arguments.”

Blakstar shrugged, knowing she was right, as she had been time and time again. “There is still something about this ice that is wrong,” he told her, “and I think it might be time for us to act.” He looked at Belki, hearing him begin to protest. “All you can do, thuro, is see to your own, and lead everyone south to warmer climes. My lady,” he added, bowing once to Lenna, then turning to go; Kovaine followed, catching up quickly and taking his hand.

“That was abrupt,” she noted when she was sure they were out of earshot.

“I think we need to start changing our names,” Blakstar said.

Kovaine stopped, pulling her husband around to look at him. “I suggested that centuries ago,” she said. “Why now?”

“I’m beginning to see the wisdom in it,” he admitted. “It’s all those envious looks, as if we have been given some kind of reward; they do not see, or understand, what a burden this life is.”

“They cannot possibly understand, dearest,” Kovaine replied. “Do not take out your frustrations on them.”


Next time, we will follow Blakstar and Kovaine, returning to their sanctuary beneath Shimar, after speaking with Master Thalamar. Until then, get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Prologue, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on January 9, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

9 January 2018

 

This week, as we serialize the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we jump forward in time to five centuries after the Great Year, witnessing as Klare passes her office as healer to one of her descendants, an action that Klaybear wishes to postpone. . . .

 

Prologue, Part 3

Atno 3988, Fall

“Marsa, it is time,” Klare said, looking up at her apprentice; Klaybear stood behind her, hands on her shoulders, tears already forming in his eyes.

“Surely you are acting prematurely, my dear,” Klaybear said, trying to control the emotions threatening to overcome him. “You still have many more things to teach her,” he added, looking at the young wetha, called Marsa, who too much resembled his beloved at that age: she had the same eyes, the same honey-flecked brown hair, and a similar temper, begging her to help him convince his wife to stay longer.

“You knew this day was coming, dearest,” Klare spoke, and her voice sounded weak to his ears, “knew this parting would eventually come. My time has come, my days are complete, and I am weary of this world.”

Klaybear sobbed once, knowing she was right.

“It is inevitable, grandpa,” Marsa spoke, and her voice pierced him, sounding too much like his Klare, “it is my turn to assume the role of healer; I have been well-trained and am ready to take grandma’s place.”

“Yes, but I’m not ready to let her go,” he said, and laughed, feeling Klare shift under his hands and seeing Marsa assume a stance that he knew so well, the one she used whenever he had, according to her, done or said something stupid. He saw the fire burning in Marsa’s eyes, and knew without seeing that the same fire burned in Klare’s eyes.

“How many times do I have to say it, Klaybear!” Klare snapped, some of her old fire returning, although her body was weak and frail. “You don’t have to let go; I will be with you, always, only I will be young and strong again, as you can become at will. I will be beside you, although you cannot see me, but you will feel me there, supporting you through all the trials of your future here. You accepted this charge, to be a caretaker of this world, from Elos himself–you cannot back out now. Thal and Blakstar need you, to help against the coming storm, a storm beyond anything we experienced during our long lives together. Don’t stumble now, at the end of my life!”

“Yes, dear,” he replied contritely. “It shall be as you say.”

“Of course it will!” she snapped again. “Now carry me down to my resting place; lead the way, Marsa.”

Marsa spared a single, sharp glance for Klaybear before turning and opening the door beside the fireplace, then descending the stairs into the Healer’s Library. Klaybear moved around Klare’s chair, bending and kissing her, his tears wetting her cheeks. He lifted her carefully and found her lighter than she had ever been; he carefully negotiated the door and stairs, stopping before the door into the place where all previous healers rested. He helped Klare remove the chain and symbol around her neck, passing it, along with the Healer’s Staff to Marsa, who accepted both, removing her own chain and symbol and hanging them around Klare’s neck before turning and opening the door to the tombs. She led Klaybear forward, stopping when she reached the niche where Kovaine had rested for a time, bending and carefully placing his beloved wife on her stone bed.

She reached up, touching his cheek gently, smiling up at him, and mouthed words that he knew so well.

“And I, you, my love,” he replied, bending and kissing her for the last time. She smiled again, closed her eyes, and passed into eternity, his kiss still wetting her now dead lips. He sank to his knees, wrapping his arms around her lifeless body, sobbing like a child, tasting again the bitterness of being chosen.

 

On Friday in our ongoing serialization, we begin the story proper, as another pair of familiar characters counsel the leader of the village of Kalan, formerly known as Kalbant (home of both Klare and Shigmar), that the time has come to move everyone from the village, escaping the wall of ice on its inexorable march south. Until then, good reading!  Find all our books here; buy them and share with your friends!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Prologue, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on January 6, 2018 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

5 January 2018

 

In our second installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, we introduce, through a ritual, the culture of the followers of Guengle, living on the south polar cap. This ritual is a crossing from childhood into manhood, but what that means for these men, these wethem, should trouble all readers, and its implications for the future of our narrative. . . .


Prologue, Part 2

The boy shivered; the cold bit his bare skin, stinging wherever it touched. He wore only a loincloth of seal skin, fashioned by his own hands, and boots made of the same tough leather. He walked out of the hut and toward the bonfire roaring in the night, the way lined by older wethem, all dressed as he was, their skin painted blue, their iron collars sparkling dully in the firelight, and the boy, although young, stood as tall as the wethem lining his path. Each held a wooden staff, topped with feathers, and all pounded the icy ground with their staves in a slow, heavy rhythm. The boy strode past them, trying not to shiver from the cold, approaching the bonfire and passing around it to where one of the mothers waited, flanked on either side by two black-robed healers, one of them holding the iron collar that would be his, a sign that he had entered the adult world, and the wetha only slightly older than he was. Each wetha wore fur lined robes, white with silver fur, and each watched him as he approached; around their necks each wore a necklace of sapphires, the center one largest of all, and the one close to his age, the smallest. As he had been instructed by his wethi mentor, he knelt before the priestess, bowing his head in submission.

“Will this one survive?” he heard one of the two flanking the mother ask as she passed the collar to the mother.

“We’ll know soon enough,” the mother answered, bending forward and snapping the collar around his neck.

Pain and agony arched the boy’s back, and he howled for the pain that gripped his body, emanating from the iron collar and searing every nerve. The pain increased, his screams grew louder, until some threshold had been reached; he collapsed on the snow, limp and unfeeling.

When he opened his eyes, he was no longer next to the bonfire, but he could hear the heavy rhythm, along with chanting, somewhere nearby. His neck burned; he scratched at it feebly, trying to ease the pain, but reaching for the collar increased his pain. His hand and arm fell limp at his side.

“Don’t,” a sweet voice said. “It’ll only make it worse.”

He looked up and saw one of the two healers, the one who had been silent as he bowed before them, the one closer to his age, and she smiled kindly, her round, cherub-like face encouraging him. Her brown eyes smiled at him as she brushed back her straight brown hair.

“It is my duty to determine if your collar is working,” she said brightly, reaching out and touching one of the spikes. At her touch, his insides sang, and he felt sudden urges that he had only felt in his dreams, focused at the center of his being and coursing outward. He realized then that the young healer had dropped her robes and knelt before him naked. Almost at the same time, he realized that he, too, was naked, and the processes begun by her touch had produced a reaction from his body, a reaction so powerful it hurt. Her other hand reached out and touched another of the spikes on his collar, and all thought ceased; his vision became cloudy and indistinct. He became a creature of action, actions completely foreign. For a time, he was gripped by animal passions, a creature wholly controlled by these passions, focused and altered as the healer held the spikes on his collar. Suddenly he shuddered and collapsed in exhaustion, his vision cleared and he found himself laying on something warm and soft. He jerked and shoved himself off the healer, panting from his exertions. He felt dirty, soiled by actions he did not fully comprehend, actions beyond his control.

The healer moved beside him, and he saw her turn toward him, his eyes focused on her bare skin, and shapes he had only before dreamed of. She stroked his arm, smiling warmly, if condescendingly, at him.

“You performed well, my peku,” she spoke in a soft, wet voice, and her tone, and the way she said peku, made his feelings of filthiness increase. He tried to move away from her, escape from the look in her deep, brown eyes, but found himself next to the wall of the tent, his back seared by the cold outside, forcing him closer to the priestess and her soft, inviting embrace. She grinned impishly at him, reaching out again with her hands to hold the spikes on either side of his neck; the feelings returned violently, and his body’s reaction to her touch hurt more than he thought possible, but she was in complete control, fanning the flames that had ebbed and causing him to act again. He became an animal, a ravening wolf only satiated by soft, curvy flesh.

Sometime later, he opened his eyes, finding himself alone among the furs covering the healer’s low bed. His body ached, muscles he did not know he had burning from his animal actions. He heard voices nearby and recognized the three wetham who had overseen the ritual.

“Well?” the mother asked.

“I think I’ll keep him,” the voice of the younger healer replied. “He responds well to the collar.”

He heard the other healer snort. “You are too easily satisfied, Renna,” she noted, “and too young to judge. He should have been given to me; I could have proved him in a shorter time.”

“The only question that matters is did he impregnate you?” the mother asked.

“I think so, mother,” the younger healer, Renna, replied, and their was adoration in her voice for the mother. “A few more hours and I will be sure.”

“Then he must be given to the others,” the mother said, “and given the elixir to ensure his virility; we need strong female offspring, and to build up our armies. Madeyem commands it, and we must obey,” she added, then all fell silent, waiting for her to speak again. “Go to him, child,” she went on after several silent moments, “but do not develop any feelings for him–he must be given to all, and he must be kept strong. See to it, Galla.”

“Yes, mother,” Renna replied.

“It shall be as you command, mother,” the other healer, Galla, agreed.

The tent flap twitched to one side, and he saw Renna reenter; she slipped off her robes and let them fall to the tent’s floor. She resumed her place by his side, throwing the furs over them both. “I’m cold, peku,” she whispered, and then added, as her fingers wrapped around the spikes at his neck, “warm me,” she added, and the flames returned, as hot as before, and he was again her creature, her puppet, acting according to her desires, all soreness forgotten, all filthiness gone as the wolf consumed him.


Next week, we will join some familiar characters, as one passes the torch of her office and calling onto her descendant, a scene that occurs nearly five centuries following the event of the Great Year. Until then, good reading!  Find all our books here; buy them and share with your friends!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Prologue, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on January 2, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

2 January 2018

 

Welcome all! We begin the serialization of the first book from the second series, Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, with the first part of the prologue. This scene occurs more than two centuries after the events of The Redemption series (atno 3524, the “Great Year”;); we follow a fisherman, an ‘old man of the sea,’ as he begins his day in a village on the east shore of the Inner Sea; all is far from well. . . .

 

Prologue, Part 1

Atno 3785, Early Spring

The old wethi rose before the sun, as he had done every morning of the seventy-six years he had lived. He was thin and wiry, of average height, had jet black hair, streaked with gray and straight-cut just above the nape of his neck. He dressed in the dark, grabbed his lunch from his tengle, and slipped a wrinkled apple into a pocket of his sea coat; he grabbed a hard biscuit, leftover from his evening meal, and began chewing it as he left his small hut. One glance at the sky told him all he needed to know–clear skies meant good weather. He uttered a prayer to the One, hoping that there would be fish in his net this day. His face wrinkled, making him look more weather-worn than normal, his nose long and crooked, having been broken when he was young–a stupid disagreement over something that he could not now remember. He scratched his nose and frowned, trying to recall what had happened all those years ago, but no hint came to him of what he had been arguing about, or who had been involved beyond himself. He pulled the door shut behind him and walked stiffly forward, reaching the brow of the hill upon which his hut sat, brooding over the shore. He stumbled several times as he climbed down the narrow, winding way leading to the dock where his fishing boat waited. The wood creaked ominously as he walked across it, reaching the end in a few steps, then backing down the ladder. When he reached the bottom rung, he looked down and behind himself and cursed.

“Karsun!” he spat, seeing that his fishing boat was no longer in the water, that the water had receded again, as if someone had drained the Inner Sea, like a washtub. He dropped to the ground, his feet sinking deep into the mud, causing him to curse louder. “Garspawn and pokas! What am I supposed to do now!” He turned awkwardly, looking toward the west, looking for the sparkle of the rising sun on the water, and he saw the expected sparkle at the edge of sight. For a time, he struggled to free both feet, then slogged through the mud up the bank; he stopped, grabbed a stick and tried to scrape the mud from his boots. After scraping most of it away, he hurled the stick away from himself and stalked up the hill, turning north and walking the quarter of a mile into the village of Westor.

As he made his way along the narrow track, he was unsurprised to pass other sets of muddy boot prints coming up from the shore, other fishermen abandoning their boats and heading to the village. He found them gathered before Mayor Kinru’s house, one of them arguing vociferously with the mayor.

“What do you mean, the Inner Sea is cut-off?” Aranik shouted. “How is that even possible?” he added, gesticulating angrily.

Kinru shook his head before answering. “I can only relay what the messenger told me,” he said tiredly, “and he stated clearly that it is no longer possible to enter the Inner Sea from here or anywhere else south or west. The sea has dropped even more than before. . . .”

“But, why?” Aranik implored. “What has happened? Has someone offended the One that he withdraws the sea from us?” The other mud-footed fishermen nodded in agreement.

Kinru sighed. “I cannot answer your questions,” he said, “no one can. All any of us can do is change with the times; we will have to build another dock and path to the shore, and find new markets for our fish. . . .”

Again, Aranik interrupted, this time with a snort of laughter. “What fish?” he snapped. “We haven’t caught any fish for months!” The others grumbled in agreement.

“How can we fish,” the old wethi, named Jon, put it, “when the sea is gone?”

Aranik turned and nodded to him before turning back to look at Kinru.

The mayor threw up his hands. “I don’t know,” he said, “and I have no idea what we can do to change it. We have to change or perish; if that means move away or become farmers, then we must do whatever we can to survive.” The sounds of grumbling increased, but the mayor went on. “We have no other choice–we must adapt or perish. I will call a council meeting, and we can extend the path leading down to the sea; now gather your boats–we have work to do.” He turned on his heel and reentered his house, slamming the door shut behind him.

“I’m no farmer,” Aranik complained to the others. “I only know fishing.”

“And I’m too old to do anything else,” Jon put in, shaking his head and turning away. Aranik followed, catching up in two strides and walking beside him.

“Maybe he’s right,” Aranik said, looking south, “maybe we should just pack up and move south.”

“Will that change where the shore is?” Jon asked. “If the seas are receding here, they are receding in the south, so what difference would moving really make?”

Aranik shrugged. “We cannot fish from here,” he sighed, “so we have to move to where the fish are.”

Jon stopped and turned to face Aranik. “And where is that?” he asked, and when Aranik had no answer, Jon turned and strode toward his home.


This problem with receding seas will be important as we move forward in this series, which will be more apparent in future posts.  On Friday, we will see a ritual performed by the heretofore unknown people living on the south polar ice cap, followers of Guengle. This ritual establishes the culture, taking place around the same time as the above scene. Until then, good reading!

New Epic Series!

Posted by gwermon on January 2, 2018 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

1 January 2018


We wish all our fans and followers the happiest new year! We have decided to make a change to our weekly blog posts. Instead of posting from our fiction on Monday, and our poetry on Friday, we will post from our fiction Tuesdays and Fridays, serializing our current project. We are drafting a second series that we will call “The Restoration,” taking place about five centuries after the events of “The Redemption” series. In the past week, we finished the draft of the third book in this new series, and have begun working on the fourth. In these twice-weekly posts, we will share a serialized version of the first book of this new series, titled “Arena of the Ice Queen.”

 

The writing of any epic fantasy requires the construction of many things, most of which are only referred to in the actual text, things that some have called ‘world-building.’ The choices we make as we build these new, fantastic worlds has a profound impact on the direction of the stories. In this case, as we established our world’s cosmology, through a version of its creation myth, actors appeared in this cosmological dance, some of whom become persistent characters, most often gods and villains, we created the possibilities for other stories outside the one we have written. Two different characters–cosmological antagonists–appeared in this creation myth, which we shared in the prologue of the seventh book of series one, “The Final Sacrifice.” One, a spirit of fire, became Gar, and with his followers served as the antagonist in “The Redemption” series. The second of these two, named in the myth, Guengle, was a spirit of ice. As told in this myth, she was cast onto the world, taking up her abode in this world’s south pole. A culture separate from those we have already met grew up around this figure. It is this character, and the culture created by her followers, that became the impetus for “The Restoration” series. Tomorrow, and in succeeding posts, we will begin to serialize this first book, “Arena of the Ice Queen.”

 

Finally, we remind all that our ebooks are half-price from Smashwords, and that the sale ends today! Get them while you can! We offer our thanks to all of our friends and followers for continuing to read and enjoy our works! It is because of you that we continue writing–thank you!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on December 29, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

29 December 2017

Poet’s Corner

 

**First Annual Smashwords After-Christmas Sale!**All our ebooks are half-price at Smashwords! Get them now through January 1st!**

 

In the final post of this year, we look at another of William Butler Yeats’ poems, probably the best known, “Leda and the Swan,” which is Yeats’ take on the encounter between Zeus and Leda, producing the infamous Helen of Troy, the Olympian god transforming into a swan:


A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast. 


How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?


A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


The final stanza references the destruction of Troy, closing with a question that really has no answer. Troy’s destruction is the result of this encounter, so Yeats sees it as a pivotal moment in Greek history. Next week, we will leave poetry, for a time, and focus instead on our current work as we draft the second series in our epic fantasy, sharing the beginning of this new series, as the story picks up several centuries following the close of The Redemption series. Until Monday, we wish all the best in this new year! Good reading!

Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 18, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on December 26, 2017 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

25 December 2017

 

**First Annual Smashwords After-Christmas Sale!**All our ebooks are half-price at Smashwords! Get them now through January 1st!**

 

We wish all the merriest of Christmases; may we all remember the reason for this celebration, to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In our final installment from this chapter of The Morgle Unmasked, the command squad cleans up after the battle to remove all traces of their presence, and confuse their enemies. . . .

 

Chapter 18, Part 6

The two scouts nodded once to their commander, but both touched Blakstar once before leaving. Velnar and his wife, Janelle, were watching the affair; Janelle whispered something to Velnar before calling the others who had been huddled around the kortexi to come and aid her clearing the area of any traces of their encounter.

Velnar called to Blakstar. “Sir Blakstar, I could use some help with these bodies,” he said, waving to the kortexi. Blakstar, confused, moved to where Velnar waited. Delgart and his brother followed, helping them to remove the corpses.

“I don’t really need any help with these,” Velnar indicated the fallen wethem, “but I don’t really feel like straining myself. Besides, you look slightly troubled by something,” Velnar said as he stooped to grab the legs of one of the corpses.

Blakstar grabbed the arms and followed Velnar toward the edge of the channel; he kept looking back to where the others were working with Janelle. “Their behavior is strange,” he said without explanation.

Delgart and Klaybear lifted another body, following them to the edge of the swamp; the commander exchanged a secret smile with his brother, nodding toward the kortexi.

Velnar smiled his gap-toothed grin. “Well, to them, your actions were very impressive,” he said, “and young, unattached wetham are impressed by heroic actions.”

Blakstar frowned. “Are you saying,” he began, looking back once more, “that they acted that way because they are all attracted to me?”

Delgart bit his tongue to keep from laughing, tossing the corpse into the swamp to cover it.

Velnar nodded once, then stopped next to the channel. “On three,” he said, starting to swing the corpse, “one, two, three,” and they tossed the body far out into the channel, where it splashed and sank slowly from sight, weighed down by the armor and heavy clothing. “Yes, they are all quite smitten with you, Sir Blakstar,” Velnar grinned, “so if you have a preference, I can, or I should say, we can, ease your way forward, if you like.”

Blakstar’s mouth fell open, but he closed it quickly, knowing that the girls were watching him. “I . . . , uh,” he stuttered, “I can’t,” he said finally, and he sighed. “I was captured by Xythrax and ponkolam who . . . ,” he hesitated again, and noticed he had both hands over his heart; he put his hands down and looked at Velnar.

“There was a girl,” he went on after a time, “a wetha, slave of the red kailum, who I was told was to be my ordained mate . . . , she was afraid of me . . . afraid I will kill her . . . I could never . . . her back was scarred by whips . . . ,” he added but could not go on, turning away to hide his emotions. When he had mastered them, he spoke again. “I could not consider another while she is a slave,” he said, turning to look at Velnar with hollow eyes.

Velnar, Delgart, and Klaybear watched him during this struggle to speak. Velnar nodded and gripped Blakstar’s shoulder. “I understand, son,” he said, “I will make sure that they understand, but be warned,” he added, grinning, “they will probably still worship you.” Delgart snorted, leading Klaybear to fetch another corpse.

Blakstar looked at Velnar’s mock seriousness and let out a sudden bark of laughter. “I think we are falling in their esteem,” Blakstar noted, “since we haven’t moved all the bodies out of their way.”

Velnar looked back at the others and sighed. “Well, I guess that means we will need to strain a little and increase our esteem in their eyes.”

With Delgart and Klaybear’s aid, they soon cleared the corpses away. Just as the scouts returned, Delgart gathered them into their formation, ready to leave.

“What did you find?” Delgart asked. “Have the guard posts been re-manned?”

“Partially,” Reena replied, “but they are having some trouble with their wedateri allies.”

“Trouble? What do you mean?” Delgart asked.

“They refuse to enter the guard posts,” Kreega said.

Reena nodded. “From what we could see, they are arguing right now about it, and the morgle who is in charge is having trouble controlling them, if we could attack now, while they are bickering. . . ,” she left it hanging.

“How many?” Delgart asked.

“At least fifty, maybe more,” Reena said, “since some had gone into the huts.”

Delgart’s brow furrowed and he shook his head. “Any way around them?”

Both shook their heads. “Not that we could see,” Kreega said.

“And if they saw us,” Reena went on, “their quarrel would be forgotten.”

Delgart put one hand over his mouth. “We don’t have time for this,” he noted softly.

“Commander,” Grelsor put it, “I think it’s time to bring up the last company: I’m sure Luthgart is wondering if you have forgotten him, given that all the others have gone.”

Delgart looked at him for a moment, and then he nodded. “You are right,” he said, “it is time that Luthgart and his company join the action.”

 

Next week, we begin the new year with a new chapter, 19, returning to Marilee in peril, with her half of the Seventh Legion. Until then, get your own copy of this ebook, The Morgle Unmasked as a single volume, or in the compilation The Redemption, Vol. 1 using the links provided. If the reader prefers print, order a copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace today! Good reading; Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on December 22, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

22 December 2017

Poet’s Corner


**Beginning on Christmas day and running through New Year’s, all our ebooks will be half-price from Smashwords. Add to your collection and share with your friends!**

 

Last week we shared a Christmas poem that was memories from childhood Christmas celebrations. This week we share our response to this earlier poem, “Christmas, 2015,” forty-five years, or so, later, and our reflections on this special season. This poem is forthcoming in a collection of our poems titled “Those Two Years.” Here it is, and we wish all a Merry Christmas!


Christmas, 2015


I sit silence ringing in my ears

sharp glow of blue & white LEDs

filling my eyes

pondering

festive tree decorated

plethora of ornaments–all gifts

accumulated over decades

tree of green plastic & wire

shaped

to resemble live fir tree

too expensive in the desert

too dry too quick

indoor fire hazard

replaced

by inflammable steel and plastic.

 

Outside no blanket of white

desert brown

with infrequent splashes of green

rare winter snow

fell

overnight but no snow

remains

only damp spots on sidewalk driveway roof

no invasive hum & rumble

one & only day

commerce stops.


 

I am called at 4:00 am

not to deliver

morning Tribune

but pain & stiffness products

of middle-age

force

me to rise early

recollect

Christmases past

as child young adult

parent of small children

now parent of adult children

air no longer charged

excited anticipation

now all know what is waiting

beneath plastic Xmas tree

socks & underwear despised by youth

prized by adults

magic of Christmas–the wonder–

muted

waiting

for another generation

grandchildren we look forward to spoil.


A few days before Christmas

we celebrated

with our surrogate granddaughter

cute little Bella

sitting

between Grammy & Grandpa-man

slowly tearing away

colorful paper

concealing

new book Grammy happily reads

over & over again

book’s main character also named Bella

radiant smile

infectious giggles

spilling the sprinkles

decorating

gingerbread man.


Bella wears us both out

playing

chase & catch me

with her Aunties & Grammy

playing

make-believe puppies

with Grandpa-man

my leg a slide for tiny cloth puppies.


Now we listen to traditional tunes

not played

on Mom’s record player

cracking & popping

as Nat King Cole & Bing Crosby

sing

playing on my Iphone

streaming

digital Christmas songs

velvet voices without static.


No longer do we hear

excited voices top of stairs

waiting

breathless for the signal

camcorder ready to catch first view

plastic tree

empty

previous night now filled

surrounded

gifts left by Santa Claus

now they slowly wake

no hurry

tree of festivities filling

over month it resides

our front living room.


The air is cold–for the desert

for a time

I sit feeling cold

nipping

at my exposed skin

with buzz & crackle

soft pop

heaters flare to life

momentary scent of burning dust

raising the temperature

waking

adult children still sleeping

upstairs bathroom door

snaps

shut water flows

someone above begins

her morning routine.


The wife comes down

dressed & made-up

carrying

final gifts just finished

placed in colorful bags

added

to waiting pile

surrounding

green plastic & wire festival tree.


We still gather we still pray

but now no urgency

to open presents

not like before

when magic still reigned supreme

holding

all in its happy grip

Christmas has come again.


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