Clyde B. Northrup

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Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 16, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on July 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

27 July 2015

 

Welcome back to all our readers for the newest installment from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. Last week, we rejoined Delgart, Marilee, and the seklesi army, now turning their attention to Xythrax’s army of nekerpum, as the conversation continues, soon turning to tactics employed against this undead army. . . .

 

Chapter 16, Part 2

“What did my father do?” Grelsor asked, his face blank.

Marilee shot a quick glance at Delgart, who was puzzled. “He tried Klaybear, led the Council, and gave the deciding vote for conviction. But you should know that he was working under the influence of a kwalu, we discovered later. His apprentice was a traitor, and he allowed the kwalu into the school to possess your father’s body. I’m so sorry, but he was killed by the kortexi when we were escaping, the kwalu killing your father’s apprentice as it fled before the kortexi’s wrath.”

Grelsor’s face drained of all color, but then he snorted. “It’s no more than he deserved, the pompous, self-absorbed . . . ,” he would have gone on, but Lidelle interrupted him.

“Grelsor!” Lidelle exclaimed. “Do not speak ill of the dead!”

“I wasn’t speaking ill of the dead,” Grelsor retorted, “I was speaking ill of the wethi who raised me.”

“This is terrible news,” Hrelga said, trying to change subject, “that, after long years of waiting, the chosen have appeared, but all have been marked by Gar. The reaction of the kailu council shows how the common people will react. You were both wise to cover your marked faces.”

“How did the seklesem react?” Marilee asked.

Glances passed among the kailum and maghem. “There were whispers,” Lidelle noted after a moment, “but Delgart’s performance today overshadowed the shock and surprise of seeing what we saw. Many thought that Delgart should become the new potikoro.”

“No!” Marilee exclaimed, looking shocked.

“I just joined,” Delgart protested. “How could they think that?”

Lidelle shrugged and went on. “There is precedent for such a move; it is not unusual for a seklesi to be promoted on the battlefield for heroic actions, and Delgart’s actions were definitely heroic.” Lidelle smiled and nodded to Delgart.

Delgart could not help but smile. “I just did what needed to be done at the time,” he laughed, “surely someone else would have done it if I had not.”

“Not likely,” Lidelle said. “The entire course of the battle would have changed, and your ‘doing what needed to be done at the time’ is one definition of a hero.”

“It is very likely,” Hrelga added, “that the Third Legion would have been decimated by the aperum. Like it or not, Delgart, you are the hero today, and the rest of the seklesem will look to you for leadership, whether you are named their leader, or you remain fourth shield of the eighth squad of the Eighth Company of the Third Legion.”

The company and squad were now turning to watch the First and Second Legion enter the pass below, waiting for their turn to attack. The First and Second Legion jogged into the pass and crashed into the front ranks of the nekerpum. Delgart noticed immediately that the formation of each squad had altered to a tighter wedge, and each company also tightened. Each squad drove into the nekerpum, using both sword and shield to push the corpses sideways, opening the ranks in order to reach the purgle. The first four squads of each company pushed forward first, squads one and two pushing left, three and four right. Squads five through eight followed, pushing into the gap, then pushing left and right, moving both forward and widening the gap. The first and fourth would then roll back and join the ninth and tenth, pushing forward and again widening the gap. Each company continued forward this way, step by step, until a squad reached the purgle. As each squad rolled to the back of the wedge, it would face out, hacking at the corpses now pushing at them from behind. The company following would then focus on keeping the way back from being completely overrun by nekerpum. The squad reaching the purgle would surround him, or her, it was difficult to tell since the purgle had no flesh, only bones, and the maghem would counter ortheks cast by the purgle while the kailum, using their maces enhanced with ortheks of disruption, bashed the purgle until the bones flew apart, and the ortheks controlling the nekerpum ended. The corpses controlled by that purgle sighed and slumped into the ground, many of them turning to dust. From the robes of the disrupted purgle a glittering dust rose slowly into the air and moved toward the southeast, quickly disappearing from view.

The casualties for this approach were much higher than they had been when fighting the purem and ghelem. As the squads rolled back, seklesem were grabbed and dragged away from the squads, overwhelmed by the nekerpum. Shouts and screams of pain issued from beneath the swarming corpses as the nekerpum tore apart and ate any of the seklesem who were overwhelmed. The cries of pain grew more frequent as the First and Second Legion pushed forward, and the taste of living flesh and blood put the nekerpum into a frenzy that made them even more dangerous. The charges of the First and Second Legion ground to a halt; a horn blew, first from the Third Legion, then from the Fourth. Below, a horn blew in answer, and the First and Second Legion began to withdraw, creating a momentary gap between them and the nekerpum. The army of corpses started after them, and the nekerpum who had tasted blood caught up quickly, forcing the rearguard to turn and fight them off.

 

We will return with another installment next Monday, and we will see how Delgart changes the way the army attacks the nekerpum. Until then, purchase the entire book, and others from this series, from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. If you prefer print, this volume is available from CreateSpace–order your copy today! Good reading.

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 24, 2015 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

24 July 2015

Poet’s Corner

 

Last time, Bracy the Bard reported the terrible dream he had, of a snake coiled around a dove, the dove representing Christabel, and his determination that traveling to Sir Roland’s should not happen until this threat was removed,

 

And thence I vowed this self-same day

With music strong and saintly song

To wander through the forest bare,

Lest aught unholy loiter there.'

 

The Baron replies, telling Geraldine that he and her father will destroy this threat, which hints that he sees this ‘snake’ as a threat to her and to his daughter:

 

Thus Bracy said: the Baron, the while,

Half-listening heard him with a smile;

Then turned to Lady Geraldine,

His eyes made up of wonder and love;

And said in courtly accents fine,

'Sweet maid, Lord Roland's beauteous dove,

With arms more strong than harp or song,

Thy sire and I will crush the snake!'

He kissed her forehead as he spake,

And Geraldine in maiden wise

Casting down her large bright eyes,

With blushing cheek and courtesy fine

She turned her from Sir Leoline;

Softly gathering up her train,

That o'er her right arm fell again;

And folded her arms across her chest,

And couched her head upon her breast,

And looked askance at Christabel

Jesu, Maria, shield her well!

 

From the Baron’s actions and declaration, it is clear that he, too, is under Geraldine’s spell, whatever it is. He behaves like a school boy on meeting the pretty, new girl for the first time, when all the boys are vying for her attention, all trying to prove themselves worthy of said attention. She responds as is proper–blushing and casting her eyes down–and turns away without saying yes or no to the Baron’s actions. Instead, she turns away, looking sideways at Christabel, and, although the poet does not, at this point, tell us what look she gives to the other, his declaration, calling on Jesus and Mary to protect her, tells us that the look is threatening, or at least a reminder of who is in control, and what is at stake. Next time, we will see more of this look, and what it means for our heroine. Good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 16, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on July 18, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

20 July 2015

 

This week we begin a new chapter in our tale, taken from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. We return to the battle near the Crossing of Reema, as the seklesi army sent to aid Shigmar now faces the worst part of the purgle’s army. . . .

 

Chapter 16, Part 1

The only way to stop nekerpum is to disrupt the purgle who raised and controls them. This action is difficult as the purgle will surround itself with nekerpum; this course becomes even more difficult after the blood frenzy takes hold of the nekerpum. . . . No one has discovered a way to disrupt the purgle from a distance, avoiding the nekerpu blood frenzy which always follows close combat. . . .

 

from the seklesi Manual of Enemies, origin unknown

 

Shouts from company captains and squad leaders rang out, to form up and prepare to attack. Delgart shook his head several times, trying to clear it and refocus his eyes; he finally saw Marilee sprawled nearby and crawled over to her side. “Are you all right?” he asked, face wrinkled with concern.

Marilee’s eyes focused on him slowly, and she finally recognized Delgart kneeling beside her. She reached out and put her arms around his neck, but then she dropped her arms and sat up. “What’s happened?”

Delgart looked at her, then looked suddenly around to cover the troubled look on his face. “The army of nekerpum are moving to attack,” he said after a moment’s hesitation. “We are called to form up and prepare for attack.”

“No,” Marilee frowned, “I meant, what happened to us?”

Delgart thought this was odd. “What do you mean?”

“I remember rushing toward the megatri,” Marilee said, “then I was lifted into the air. Next thing I remember was seeing you looking down at me.”

The rest of the squad had run up to where Delgart and Marilee sat on the ground; Grelsor and Lidelle knelt next to them. “Are you all right?” Grelsor asked, both held out their green-glowing staves, ready to heal.

“A little shaken, I think,” Delgart said, “but all right otherwise.”

Rellik reached out and helped first Marilee, then Delgart, to their feet. “Orders?” he asked.

“Form up,” Marilee said, “and let’s get back to work.” She shot a sidelong glance at Delgart.

“We will have to move to our position,” Rellik added, “the Eighth Company is forming over there,” he pointed.

Marilee looked to where her second pointed, then nodded. “Let’s go.”

Marilee’s squad jogged off together, moving among the other squads forming, to their position in the Eighth Company.

“How do we fight the nekerpum?” Delgart asked as they moved into their position.

Grelsor sighed. “They are the most difficult to destroy,” he replied, “as they cannot be killed, for they are already dead. The same is true of their purgle masters.”

“I thought they were red kailum,” Delgart noted.

“Not all of them were,” Grelsor said, “some are red kailu masters; some are black maghi masters; both have sold themselves to Nekerp, Lord of the Dead, in return for immortality, but it is not true immortality, for they are not alive in the same sense that we are; it is better described as un-life, for they, like the corpses they animate, are dead.”

“How can they be dead, but still alive?” Delgart asked.

“They kill themselves in a ritual that uses a powerful teka-enhanced object,” Grelsor went on, “that is both the means of their death and a receptacle for their life essence. In the slaying of their physical bodies, their life essence is drawn off and stored in the object, so the only way to destroy them utterly is to destroy the teka-enhanced receptacle of their life essence. The best we can hope for here on the battlefield is to disrupt their bodies, and when we disrupt the bodies of the purgle, then the nekerpum they raised will fall back into their graves.”

“So we focus on the purgle,” Delgart stated.

Grelsor nodded. “As you soon will see, the purgle surround themselves with the corpses they have reanimated, so we will have to hack our way through the nekerpum to the purgle controlling them, which is very dangerous.”

“Why?” Delgart asked as their company captain signaled them forward.

“Although we cut the corpses to pieces,” Grelsor said, “and scatter the pieces, the pieces will draw themselves back together, rising and fighting again, almost as quickly as they are cut apart.” They started to jog forward, moving up the low hills to the right of the pass, back the way they had come. The Third and Fourth Legions were taking up positions on either side of the pass; the First and Second were moving into the pass, then they would retreat, drawing the army of nekerpum out of the pass to be crushed between the Third and Fourth Legions. “We will have time,” Grelsor went on, “to watch the First and Second Legions as they encounter and draw out the corpses and their purgle masters.”

“How did the megatri,” Marilee asked from Grelsor’s other side, “perform the orthek to lift us into the air? We had always thought they did not have the ability.”

“She does not remember what happened after we were lifted,” Delgart whispered to Grelsor, seeing the kailu’s look of confusion.

“Oh, it was Xythrax,” Grelsor replied. “He possessed the body of the megatri, so performed the orthek that lifted you both and brought your faces together.”

Marilee’s hand went to her marked cheek. “And did everyone see . . . ,” she began and stopped when Grelsor nodded once. Her face turned white. She lowered her voice to a whisper; the two kailum, and the two maghem just behind her, moved closer. “The Council of Shigmar wanted to execute us for the marks we all bear,” she admitted softly. “All of the chosen have the mark inscribed somewhere on them, even the kortexi, who is Sir Karble reborn, he who healed us, was marked.”

“And what did Headmaster Myron do?” Grelsor asked.

“It was his apprentice, Delgart’s other brother,” Marilee went on, “who the Council put on trial for supposedly desecrating their holy altar. Headmaster Myron tried to defend him, but in the process of the trial, the marks on each of us were revealed, and we all were condemned and imprisoned. We were released from the dungeon by the awemi Rokwolf trained, Tevvy, who snuck into the dungeon from the sewers, with the help of the Headmaster, released us, and then led us back into the sewers. We found there a secret area beneath the sewers, prepared by the founders of the elder orders, just for us. The sword of Karble opened the doorway into the heretofore unknown space.”

 

Next week the conversation will continue as Marilee’s squad, along with the rest of the army, prepare to face the undead. Until then, purchase the entire book, and others from this series, from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. If you prefer print, this volume is available from CreateSpace–order your copy today! Good reading.

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 18, 2015 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

17 July 2015

Poet’s Corner

 

We return to our strange tale of Coleridge, the Baron having just finished his instructions to his bard, who now responds by recounting a dream:

 

And Bracy replied, with faltering voice, . . .

Yet might I gain a boon of thee,

This day my journey should not be,

So strange a dream hath come to me, . . .

For in my sleep I saw that dove,

That gentle bird, whom thou dost love,

And call'st by thy own daughter's name—

Sir Leoline! I saw the same

Fluttering, and uttering fearful moan,

Among the green herbs in the forest alone.

Which when I saw and when I heard,

I wonder'd what might ail the bird;

For nothing near it could I see

Save the grass and green herbs underneath the old tree.

 

'And in my dream methought I went

To search out what might there be found;

And what the sweet bird's trouble meant,

That thus lay fluttering on the ground.

I went and peered, and could descry

No cause for her distressful cry;

But yet for her dear lady's sake

I stooped, methought, the dove to take,

When lo! I saw a bright green snake

Coiled around its wings and neck.

Green as the herbs on which it couched,

Close by the dove's its head it crouched;

And with the dove it heaves and stirs,

Swelling its neck as she swelled hers!

I woke; it was the midnight hour,

The clock was echoing in the tower;

But though my slumber was gone by,

This dream it would not pass away—

It seems to live upon my eye!

 

The dream is a warning, and Bracy takes it as such, vowing to enter the forest and destroy this threat to Christabel–as if we did not know already! Here, the bard sees a dove, which he says represents Christabel in the forest, a bird in some distress. When Bracy tries to help her, he discovers a bright green snake wrapped around her (the dove), the two breathing in sync. And just to make sure we do not miss it, the bard tells us that this dream came to him during the midnight hour, and he could not shake it off, so vivid was the dream, with the final, clinching addition, that he can see the vision right now! More next time in the next edition of the Poet’s Corner. Good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 15, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on July 10, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

13 July 2015

 

Last week, in the ongoing serialization of the second book of our epic tale, Staff of Shigmar, we met the most ancient aperu, father of all aperum, Plati, and learned his sad story. This week, we enter the citadel of air, meet the rulers of this realm, and finally enter Shigmar’s actual tomb. . . .

 

Chapter 15, Part 6

 

“We know the story told by the maghem,” Felorno noted, “but whether it contains the truth, only Platti knows, and he has not spoken to anyone since the beginning.” Felorno shook his head and led them to the main door into the audience chamber. He stepped through the door, indicating they follow. “My Lord Wethkuro, my Lady Nefora,” his voice suddenly boomed and echoed in the huge hall, “I present the chosen of the One: the green kailu, Master Klaybear, the white maghi, Master Thalamar, son of Kalamar, the klitodweri, Master Telvor, and the kortexi, Sir Blakstar eli kerdu ghebi. They have entered through the proper door, showing the token prophesied; they come to beg for access to the tomb of Shigmar the Great, first and foremost, until now, of all kailum.” He named them as each entered the hall, bowing to the two great thrones at the front of the hall.

“We welcome them into our presence,” boomed the voice of the largest of the potiethro, sitting on one of the thrones at the head of the hall. He was tall, over twenty-five feet, dark gray hair and beard, crowned with lightning. Across his knees lay the storm scepter. On his left sat his lady, greatest of the morosku, shorter than Wethkuro by the height of a tall man, white skin, wispy white hair.

“We should note, my lord,” Nefora said as Felorno led them forward, “that only half of the chosen are here.”

“Of course, my lady,” Felorno said in an aside, “but it would not have been as impressive had I introduced them as ‘half’ the chosen,” he croaked sarcastically.

Nefora smiled; Wethkuro laughed, a sound like thunder that shook the hall. “Well-answered,” he said in an aside to Felorno, who smiled back at him.

Nefora rolled her eyes. “I had so wanted to meet your mate, Klaybear, and the chosen mate of your older brother, along with the mates of the others, who will come in time, but, sadly, only the four of you were allowed to approach us.”

The companions exchanged looks at her words and bowed to Nefora. “We are sorry, my lady,” Klaybear said, “that they could not come with us. My wife is . . . ,” he went on, thinking of the fact that Klare had lost most of her family.

Wethkuro completed his thought. “Your mate is in trouble,” he said.

Klaybear looked up, eyes wide. “In trouble?” he asked. “We left her in the care of my twin brother, watching over her injured mother and sister.”

“Both have died,” Nefora said softly, a hint of emotion in her voice, “and she is in grave peril.”

“As grave a peril,” Wethkuro added in hushed tones, “as is the city of Shigmar.”

“I must go to her,” Klaybear said, looking around for a way out.

“Do not worry,” Wethkuro said, “you will arrive in time, but you must first enter the tomb, where you will find the key you have sought.”

“Although the laws of hospitality dictate that we should take care of your needs and allow you to rest,” Nefora went on, “we must not detain you further, but allow you to enter the final resting place of Shigmar.”

Wethkuro raised the storm scepter and their two thrones moved aside, turning to face each other and the ornately carved door that had been hidden behind them. “You may approach the entrance,” he said, waving them forward. “You should possess the necessary key.”

They stepped forward, and Blakstar started to draw his sword but stopped when they saw, not the vertical slot, but a regular keyhole that looked vaguely familiar. The kortexi grabbed Tevvy’s arm. “The key,” he hissed, “do you still have the key?”

Tevvy looked up at Blakstar, puzzled. “What key?”

“The one I gave you to open the pedestal, back in Kalbant.”

“Oh,” Tevvy exclaimed, “that one!” He searched through one of his belt pouches, looking for the key. “You said I could have it,” he said defensively, “if it opened the pedestal.”

“As long as you didn’t lose it,” Blakstar replied, “or give it away.”

“I’m not a fool, wethi,” Tevvy retorted, pulling his arm from the pouch and tapping his pockets, digging in his cloak and the other pouches on his belt.

“You haven’t lost it,” Blakstar asked, “have you?”

“Of course not,” Tevvy retorted, “I just need to locate the place where I stowed it, to keep it safe,” he said apologetically.

“It was on a chain,” Blakstar hissed through clenched teeth, “did you hang it around your neck?”

“Of course,” Tevvy snapped, forcing a laugh, “it’s around my neck.” He stuck one hand into his shirt and pulled out the ancient key. “See, I told you I had it.” He inserted the ancient key, turned it, and heard the lock click. He pushed the door open.

“And what do you call walking into the bright light on a snow plain?” Blakstar muttered to himself.

Blakstar entered the doorway after Tevvy, followed by Klaybear and Thal. The door slid shut of its own accord; the lock clunked loudly, sealing them inside the tomb.

Come back next week when we will return to the battle and fortunes of the seklesi army, on its way to defend Shigmar, and see the new threat our chosen heroes, Marilee and Delgart, now must face. Until then, purchase a copy of this book, along with others in this series, from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers; if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace, and we add that Books 1-5 from this series are available in print. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 10, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

10 July 2015

Poet’s Corner

 

Today we return to Coleridge’s unfinished, supernatural tale, “Christabel,” and take up where we left off two weeks ago, as Bracy the Bard rode receives more instructions on how to bring news of his daughter to Sir Roland:

 

'And when he has crossed the Irthing flood,

My merry bard! he hastes, he hastes

Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth Wood,

And reaches soon that castle good

Which stands and threatens Scotland's wastes.

 

In five lines we learn of some of the places between Christabel’s place and Sir Roland’s, the supposed father of Geraldine, and we learn it is far to the north, on the English border with Scotland. Since Bracy’s journey takes only a little time, we guess that Christabel’s home is also somewhere in the north. The poet goes on as Leoline continues exhorting the bard to ride swiftly, enter the hall, and declare the glad tidings to Sir Roland:

 

'Bard Bracy! bard Bracy! your horses are fleet,

Ye must ride up the hall, your music so sweet,

More loud than your horses' echoing feet!

And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,

Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall!

Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free—

Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me!

He bids thee come without delay

With all thy numerous array

And take thy lovely daughter home:

And he will meet thee on the way

With all his numerous array

White with their panting palfreys' foam:

And, by mine honour! I will say,

That I repent me of the day

When I spake words of fierce disdain

To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine!—

—For since that evil hour hath flown,

Many a summer's sun hath shone;

Yet ne'er found I a friend again

Like Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine.

 

We learn the name of Sir Leoline’s hall–Langdale–and that Leoline proposes to meet Roland somewhere in between–we would call it neutral ground–on which Leoline’s ‘repentance’ of his evil words, reaffirming that Roland was always his best friend. All seems straightforward: deliver my message, my apology, and where we will meet, which is, of course, the point where things in this strange poem move out of the everyday and back into the supernatural! More next week in the next edition of the Poet’s Corner; in the meantime, good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 15, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on July 3, 2015 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

6 July 2015

 

We welcome our readers back after our holiday weekend celebrating the independence of our country! In this week’s installment from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar, we reach the citadel of the rulers of the air realm; we also learn a legend concerning this world’s remote past, seeing the original ancestor of all aperum. . . .

 

Chapter 15, Part 5

The others turned and saw a fortress of black stone perched atop a cloud, with high walls, tall towers and battlements; it grew larger at a rate faster than it should have, leading the companions to conclude that they were moving very fast through the air.

“That is the home of Wethkuro,” Felorno said, and they could suddenly hear horns blowing from the towers, hailing their immanent arrival. The aperum were turning to bring them next to the front of the fortress, and, as soon as the stone circle touched the edge of the cobblestone road leading down from the gate, the harnesses fell off the aperum, and the three flew up and landed on the parapet over the huge gate. “There is a final test that you must pass,” Felorno said, softly. “Since you are not creatures of this realm, you cannot enter through the gate, but there is a side door on the right side of the main gate that you must open and enter.”

Blakstar looked puzzled. “What is the test?” he asked.

“The opening of the door,” Felorno replied. “If you can open the door, then you have proven that you are truly, the chosen of the One.”

“And if we fail?” Blakstar asked.

“Then you are imposters and will be thrown from the fortress,” Felorno replied.

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Tevvy said.

Thal touched the awemi’s shoulder. “He means thrown over the edge.”

“Oh,” Tevvy said, deflating.

“Has anyone ever tried?” Thal asked.

Felorno nodded. “Only one group ever made it this far; they resembled you in every respect, but they failed to open the door. They are still falling,” he finished, stepping off the circle and onto the short road to the fortress.

They followed, Tevvy’s face a mask of fear. Blakstar smiled at him. “We are the chosen,” he noted, “so there is nothing to worry about.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” Tevvy mumbled. He turned to Felorno. “How long ago?” he asked.

Felorno looked at Tevvy for a moment before responding. “Several ages, according to our reckoning.”

“And they are still falling?” Tevvy asked.

“Well, their remains still fall,” Felorno said, again turning away and leading them toward the gate and side door. “They all killed themselves in the first hour after we threw them off the fortress. Apparently, the prospect of starving to death while falling did not appeal to them.”

As he approached the gate, Felorno turned right and stopped before a blank stretch of wall. “Here is the door,” he said, stopping.

Tevvy groaned. “Blakstar,” he said without turning to the others, “we need your sword.”

The kortexi stepped up next to Tevvy, drawing his sword. When Blakstar noticed the familiar, kortexi symbol, his eyes were drawn to the slot at the center of the pupil, and he slid his sword up to its hilt. A flash of golden light illuminated all the symbols along with the outline of an arched door, which silently swung in; trumpets on the battlements overhead blasted a joyous fanfare.

“Again, I bid you welcome, chosen of the One,” Felorno said, bowing, “to the fortress of my lord, Wethkuro, Lord of Air.”

As they entered the courtyard, Blakstar heard a sound, from overhead, that was a cross between a hiss and a whine, a keening sound that pierced him each to the heart, and each felt a terrible stab of sorrow. Looking up for the source of the sound, he saw an aperu, larger than any before seen, perched on the top of the highest tower; his head was raised, neck stretched out, mouth open and emitting the sad sound. His color appeared at first to be silver, but his head moved as he crooned and the light reflected off his hide brighter and more mirror-like than the silver aperu they had just seen.

“The platinum aperu,” Thal whispered in awe. His companions looked at him.

“Yes,” Felorno said sadly, “he cries out in sorrow for his lost mate, every hour, on the hour, by our reckoning, and he has done so since nearly the beginning of time.”

“That is horrible,” Tevvy said, voice hushed. “How did it happen?”

Felorno shook his beaked head. “We do not remember,” he sighed, “it has been so long that we have all forgotten.”

“There is a legend,” Thal began in soft tones, “among the maghem, that sometime shortly after Gar and his followers were banished to the underworld, they thought to escape their prison by destroying the world. So they went to the fires burning at the core of the world and added more power to the flames, heating the core to the point were it was about to explode, ripping the newly made world apart. Platti,” Thal said, pointing to the tower, “was the faster flier, so he flew off to inform the One of what Gar attempted. His mate, Platta, wrapped herself around the core to prevent it from exploding and destroying the world, along with all the parents of all creatures and races, hoping that she could hold it in place until Platti returned with the One. They came quickly, but not before the core exploded, killing Platta; her sacrifice saved the world. Platinum is the most powerful metal, the most potent material for making rods,” he said, holding up his clay rod. “Few maghem ever achieve the level of the platinum rod; it is also said that the Rod of Melbarth was the first maghi’s rod constructed of this metal that Gar fears and hates. The traces of it found throughout the world are said to come from the remains of Platta,” he finished, his eyes lifting to the keening aperu.

 

Come back next Monday as the chosen finally enter Shigmar’s tomb . . . after proving themselves to the rulers of this realm! In the meantime, purchase your copy of this ebook from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers; if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace today! Good reading.

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

3 July 2015

Poet’s Corner

 

I feel it is appropriate, as this weekend marks 239 years since our ancestors declared themselves independent of the Crown and British Empire, to deviate from Coleridge and consider what we commemorate every 4th of July. Considering all that has happened recently, I think it wise to remind all that the reason these ancestors of ours left Europe and Britain was for freedom, the freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion. Many of those first colonists were groups of persecuted religionists who left Europe to escape censure because of their beliefs. The free exercise of religion–no matter what one’s religion is, and I would define it broadly as any ideology professed and followed by one or more persons. What this means is that, not only traditional religions–Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.–but also Atheism, Secular Humanism, and Liberalism, ideologies so prevalent in our society today, fall under this broader category of religion, and all are protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Let us never forget that all are protected by the Bill of Rights; any policy, law, or judicial decree that limits these rights is unconstitutional, no matter the entity that declares it legal. We too soon forget the principles on which our government was founded, and it is good to remember, and study, what those who instituted our government, our Founding Fathers, said and wrote concerning these rights. A good place to start (after the three founding documents–Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights) is the “Federalist Papers,” written to defend and argue for the new constitution, elaborating on the principles behind the Constitution.

 

As a reminder for all, I point all my readers back to the beginning of 1776, when the idea of independence was still not at the front of people’s discussions: the leaders of the colonies were still trying to be reconciled with England and the King. It was only after a small tract was published “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine, a recent immigrant from England, that our ancestors began to consider independence from Britain. In its day, this tract by Paine was what we would call a ‘best-seller,’ read by most of the people of that time. Many have since called Paine a “loose cannon,” a political radical bent on anarchy. He was, however, the right man at the right time, and his words altered the way our ancestors saw their future. I have often been struck by how one person, in the right place and time, can change the course of the future, which in this case led us to become our own nation, governed by the people. I wrote the following short poem to illustrate and commemorate this turning point in our history:

 

Turning Point–1776

 

I stood at the crux

public feeling in flux

patriots still toasting

the monarch unknowing

his mind not in balance

tilted wholly by malice

I fresh from our Mother

saw the excess of Father

my words were just Common Sense

then all chose independence.

 

May we always remember the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us to create, maintain, and preserve our freedoms! Happy birthday America! Good reading.

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 15, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on June 26, 2015 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

29 June 2015

 

We return with another installment from the second book of our epic, Staff of Shigmar, as we meet one of the characters inhabiting this realm, the realm of air, that Thal, in our last installment, called a myth. Also, stay tuned for an announcement at the end of this blog post!

 

Chapter 15, Part 4

 

“So,” Blakstar began, “why did you call it a myth?”

“He is named Felorno,” Thal said, “and, according to legend, he is the messenger of the Lord of Air, Wethkuro.”

As they spoke, other creatures of this realm flew or floated past, all croaking or piping the same word they had heard from Felorno, “gheusum.” They heard it repeated over and over, although the voices varied greatly. Most resembled the flying creatures with which they were familiar: from small starlings and finches to large hawks, eagles, and the lonely albatross. Some resembled horses, although their hooves never touched the ground: the white and silver kerono with a single long horn in their foreheads; the markornem with their wings and colors like great hawks or eagles, and the ekludem, larger than the kerono, with a pair of horns and shining golden coats and long manes, flashing brilliantly golden in the bright light. There were also huge, wethi-like creatures: the moroskum, white and wispy, made from the clouds, with voices that whispered like the gentle breeze, and the potiethro, largest of all the giant wethi-like creatures, made from dark storm clouds, with voices that rattled like thunder. Three aperum, a gold, a silver, and a copper, flew straight toward them from dead ahead, flying over their heads and diving behind and beneath the stone circle. The three hissed as they passed overhead. “Gwemo! Gheusum de Eli!” When the three emerged from beneath and in front of the circle, they were attached to huge harnesses, the gold in the center and out front, the silver just behind and right, the copper just behind the silver and left. The stone circle moved smoothly forward, pulled by the three aperum.

As the stone circle moved forward, Thal, for the benefit of Tevvy, named and described the different creatures of this realm. Felorno soon returned, landing on the circle and giving them a deep bow.

“Welcome, chosen of the One!” Felorno said, his voice high-pitched and croaky. “I bring you greetings from the ruler of this realm, Lord Wethkuro, greatest of the potiethro, master of the storm. We will escort you to his presence, where he desires to speak . . . ,” Felorno paused, looking at Tevvy. “What is wrong with your awemi?” he asked.

“He was blinded in the ice realm,” Klaybear replied.

“And you cannot heal him?” Felorno asked, surprised.

“My wife is the healer,” Klaybear said, “but she did not come. . . .”

“She was not supposed to come with you,” Felorno interrupted, “only the three of you and your klitodweri could have entered this space.”

“Neither I, nor the Waters of Life,” Klaybear went on, “could heal him, although the Waters returned his vision, but only for a few seconds before the milky white color and blindness returned.”

Felorno shook his head. “This is wrong,” he said simply. “I must consult with my lord; I will return in a few minutes,” he finished, turning and taking flight.

Thal and Klaybear exchanged a look.

“What did he mean, wrong?” Tevvy asked.

“I would guess,” Thal replied, scratching his chin, “that your blindness is wrong.”

“It sounded to me,” Klaybear added, “like we should have been able to heal you, and the fact that we could not is wrong.”

They fell silent for a time, Blakstar watching the creatures of air that continued to pass near the stone circle, still chirping, singing, or croaking the same word. Tevvy sat on the stone, unmoving; Klaybear stood beside him. Blakstar stood at the forward edge of the circle, watching the aperum; Thal started pacing back and forth across the circle, mumbling to himself.

“He returns,” Blakstar noted after a few minutes of silent watching.

Felorno landed again on the circle. “Stand, Tevvy of the awemi, and hold perfectly still. We must draw the poison from your eyes.” Felorno looked at Blakstar. “Have the Waters ready,” he noted, turning back to Tevvy. Felorno reared back on his hind legs, lashing out with his talons. Simultaneously, a single claw from each talon pierced Tevvy’s milky-white eyes. Tevvy gasped, but did not cry out in pain.

The others moved forward, shocked by what Felorno had done. “What . . . ?” Klaybear started to exclaim but stopped and Blakstar saw white fluid draining from the awemi’s eyes and trickling down his cheeks; his eyes slowly cleared, and when the liquid running from his eyes cleared, Felorno called for the Waters.

“Now, Sir Blakstar,” he said, “pour the Waters into his eyes.”

Tevvy tilted his head back and the kortexi poured the Waters into Tevvy’s eyes; white steam hissed from eyes and cheeks as the Waters touched the chalky white liquid. Tevvy’s eyes returned to their normal color, and Blakstar could see, once all traces of the white liquid had steamed out of Tevvy’s eyes, the puncture wound in each seal itself.

Tevvy’s face brightened. “I can see!” he exclaimed, and took a step back, seeing, for the first time, Felorno. He bowed. “Thank you, for healing me,” he said to Felorno, although his voice shook.

“You should thank my Lord, Wethkuro,” Felorno responded, “for I was acting on his instructions.”

“Did he tell you how this happened?” Klaybear asked.

“He did not know,” Felorno replied, “but he suspects that Gar must have had a hand in it; the blindness from the ice plain would have healed in time. What happened to Tevvy was something more, and Gar seems to have subverted the lord of that realm.”

“Which also happened in the water realm,” Thal added.

Felorno nodded his beaked head. “That is what my lord was told.”

“By whom, if I may ask?” Klaybear said.

“A messenger from the One,” Felorno replied. “She arrived as I did, bringing word to my lord and knowledge of your circumstances, along with how to heal your klitodweri.”

“Is that where we are going?” Blakstar asked, pointing ahead.

 

Next week we will see the citadel of air, where the rulers of this realm reside. Until then, get your copy of the entire text from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers; or, if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace today!

 

Now, we have two announcements related to this, The Redemption series. The first is that we are in the process of recording the first book in this series, Chosen of the One, as an audiobook; we will share samples here on our website as these are finished. Second, we have a draft of the cover for Book 5, Xythrax’s End that we now share with you. Again, we express our admiration and gratitude for our cover artist, Sarah Cosico, who had to take an extended break for family reasons, and is now back with another incredible cover. If any of you will be attending the Salt Lake Comicon in September, look for her booth in the artists’ section and tell her how much you love her covers (and other artwork!).


Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on June 26, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

26 June 2015

Poet’s Corner

 

We greet all as we continue our analysis of Coleridge’s unfinished, supernatural poem, “Christabel.” Last week we commented on what Christabel actually saw in Geraldine, and what it might mean, particularly the fact that one of Geraldine’s ‘spells’ prevented her, or her father, from seeing Geraldine as she truly is–a supernatural creature, or a witch. Now we continue as Christabel insists that a messenger be sent at once to Geraldine’s supposed father:

 

Yet he, who saw this Geraldine,

Had deemed her sure a thing divine:

Such sorrow with such grace she blended,

As if she feared she had offended

Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid!

And with such lowly tones she prayed

She might be sent without delay

Home to her father's mansion.

'Nay!

Nay, by my soul!' said Leoline.

'Ho! Bracy the bard, the charge be thine!

Go thou, with sweet music and loud,

And take two steeds with trappings proud,

And take the youth whom thou lov'st best

To bear thy harp, and learn thy song,

And clothe you both in solemn vest,

And over the mountains haste along,

Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,

Detain you on the valley road.

 

We note first that Christabel’s father, the Baron, does not see through the illusion Geraldine presents, and so he sees her as heaven sent, an angel come to grace his household with her divine presence. On the other hand, Christabel, who has had glimpses of Geraldine’s true nature, insists that her father send a messenger at once, to which the Baron readily agrees; we must point out that his reasons are much different from his daughter’s–the one motivated out of a lost friendship and concern for the daughter of his former friend, while our heroine desires to get Geraldine away from her person as quickly as possible. We then meet the fourth, named character, Bracy the bard, the court musician, who is sent with the message of Geraldine’s rescue. They are to go with music, to show their intentions are peaceful, dressed in their finest, and with the bard’s best apprentice–this is “the youth whom thou lov’st best.” To the music and the dress, the Baron adds “a somber vest” to indicate to the wandering folk–the gypsies, no doubt–that their embassy cannot wait or be delayed. We will see next week that this leads directly into Bracy’s embassy, as the Baron’s directions, quite smoothly, change to the bard on the road. Until then, good reading!


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