|Posted by gwermon on December 19, 2014 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
19 December 2014
Welcome back for another installment of the Poet’s Corner! We remind our readers that books 1-6 of “The Redemption” series are half-off until January 1st, so look for the coupon codes on our recent blog announcement! Last week we saw the pilot boat approach the Mariner’s ship and notice how strange it appears. As soon as the pilot’s boat reaches the ship, something odd happens (what a shock!):
The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirred;
The boat came close beneath the ship,
And straight a sound was heard.
Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reached the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.
Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote
Like one that hath been seven days drowned
My body lay afloat;
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the pilot's boat.
Something happens to the ship, and all the Mariner tells us is that a strange sound was heard, and then the boat split down the middle, suddenly sinking and casting the Mariner into the water. However, someone in the boat–likely the Hermit for reasons that we will soon see–drags the Mariner in to safety, although he looks like he is ‘seven days drowned,’ meaning that he looks bloated with sea water, and very dead, so when he stirs and speaks to the Hermit, all in the boat are frightened out of their wits:
I moved my lips - the pilot shrieked
And fell down in a fit;
The holy hermit raised his eyes,
And prayed where he did sit.
I took the oars: the pilot's boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughed loud and long, and all the while
His eyes went to and fro.
'Ha! ha! ' quoth he, 'full plain I see,
The devil knows how to row.'
The pilot faints from fear; the Hermit prays for deliverance, and the boy laughs maniacally, believing the Mariner is the devil incarnate, rowing himself to shore! Next week we will experience the dramatic conclusion to Coleridge’s master work. Until then, Merry Christmas to all, and good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on December 15, 2014 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
15 December 2014
Welcome back to the serialization of the second book of our epic fantasy series, Staff of Shigmar. This week we follow the chosen as they discover the source of the light and what is hurtling toward them. . . .
Chapter 7, Part 2
The kortexi’s declaration that he could see the light was followed by a brilliant flash of blue-white light that lit their faces and was reflected brightly on the surface of the water and the clouds overhead, something like the whole sky suddenly lit by sheet lightning.
“What was that?” Blakstar exclaimed.
“I’ve no idea,” Thal said. “Tevvy?”
“It was bright enough to be seen for miles,” Tevvy replied.
“What could cause such a bright flash of light?” Blakstar asked.
“There are some ortheks,” Thal replied, “powerful ortheks that could cause such brilliance . . . ,” he stopped, interrupted by Tevvy shouting.
“Something is coming toward us!” he shouted. “It looks like . . . ,” he started to say, then shouted, “row!” He sat quickly down grabbing the tiller with both hands. Blakstar and Klaybear were startled by his command, and took an extra second to respond. “Together!” he shouted. “Hang on!”
As the kailu and kortexi started to row again, the boat started going up and down in the water, then started moving up as a huge wave came toward them. Tevvy turned them directly into the wave, and the rowing enabled them to climb up its steep front, then fall sharply over its back side, speeding them up. As they crested the wave, they were struck by a roar of sound that howled over the top of them and rumbled beneath them. The boat rose up and down several times after the first wave, their rise getting smaller and smaller; they heard the sound rolling away from them. The surface of the water smoothed; the boat slowed back to its previous speed as the rowers lifted their oars looking stunned.
“That must have been some orthek,” Blakstar said, “if it could cause a wave like that, as far away from it as we are.”
“So what was it?” Tevvy asked.
“Shock wave,” Thal said, “and Blakstar is right, from an incredibly powerful orthek.”
“Have I lost my hearing,” Klaybear noted, “or did I hear what sounded like many voices singing in that roar of sound that passed over us?”
“I thought it sounded like singing,” Thal replied, “but the voices were . . . otherworldly.”
“Know any ortheks that would cause a shock wave like that one?” Klaybear asked.
Thal rubbed his chin. “Maybe if ten of the most powerful maghem linked together,” Thal said, “the way the black maghem and red kailum do, but the problem with linking is that we cannot construct a rod or staff capable of channeling that much power, which was some kind of light or lightning explosion . . . ,” his voice trailed off; Tevvy continued to tap the cadence with his free hand; Klaybear and Blakstar rowed on in silence.
Blakstar shipped his oars and turned over the body floating in the lake; the face was contorted, as if the black maghi had died in great pain. “What do you make of it?” he asked.
“He didn’t drown,” Klaybear noted, “or the body would be bloated with water; he died before he was hurled into the lake.” Klaybear looked around; there were other shapes floating in the lake nearby, more black-cloaked figures, some red-cloaked, and bodies of purem and ghelem. They could just see the north shore, and on the nearby hill, could see the spot of green-white light growing brighter, illuminating the white marble front of a building. They could see the strip of sand at the shore in front of the hill, and the dark spots strewn across it.
“There are more bodies on the beach,” Tevvy noted.
“Yes,” Thal said, still seated in the prow looking forward, “someone has sprung the trap for us.”
“But who?” Tevvy asked. “And why?” He looked at Klaybear. “Do we dare land?” he asked.
The kailu lifted his oars and turned to look at the shore they glided toward. “Is it me, or do those bodies form a pattern on the beach?”
“I had noticed,” Thal put in, “and was wondering about that myself.”
“It does look like an arc,” Tevvy said after standing and shading his eyes to look, “an arc whose center is . . . ,” he began and Thal finished his thought.
“That building,” Thal said. A thought suddenly occurred to him. “You don’t suppose that building was the source of the teka explosion we saw, whose shock wave hurled the bodies into the pattern we apparently see, nearly swamping us several miles away?”
Klaybear shrugged, dipping his oars to continue rowing. “Unless there is some powerful being hiding in the shadows of the building we see.”
Tevvy sat down and grabbed the tiller. “I take it by your rowing,” he said, “that we are going forward?”
Klaybear nodded. “The staff is inside of that building,” he noted, “and we are supposed to retrieve it, so we have to land the boat and approach the building.”
“Is it safe?” Tevvy asked. “What if the building, or whoever might be hiding up there, decides to attack us too?”
“We are the chosen,” the kortexi said simply, looking back and frowning at the awemi, “we are meant to approach it.”
“How do we know that?” Tevvy asked. “How do we know that building is Shigmar’s tomb? Didn’t you say, Klaybear, that you have been to this spot before and have never seen a building? How do we know that Gar did not create this as an illusion to trick us into landing here, so that he could capture us?”
“I’ve been to this spot several times with Klare and Rokwolf,” Klaybear said, “and we have never seen a building on that hill, but that does not mean that the building is an illusion created to trick us.”
“He has a point, though,” Thal said. “If we assume for a moment that the morgle is acting on his own, then he might have sent these troops here to wait for our arrival, without knowing that Gar had placed some sort of lethal trap to prevent us from entering. So it is possible that these troops of the morgle accidentally set off one of the wards placed by Gar to keep us out of Shigmar’s tomb.”
“All the more reason,” Klaybear noted between strokes, “for us to approach with caution, but we cannot determine what it is without approaching it to see if it is real or illusion.”
Tevvy shook his head, mumbling to himself. “My grandmother was right.”
When they reached the shore, Tevvy went forward first, to examine the area around the hill while the others beached the boat and removed their packs from it. The awemi moved east across the beach, carefully examining the tracks and the bodies strewn across the sand. He left the beach and entered the woods northeast of their landing point. The others took a tarp from the boat and used it to cover the boat, securing it with long, thin metal stakes driven into the sand. The kortexi moved toward the west when they had finished, also examining the sand and the bodies.
“It does look,” Thal said, watching Blakstar, “like the explosion centered on the hilltop.”
The kortexi looked up from the corpse he was examining. “These were not climbing the hill,” he said, “I think they were moving toward the woods that surround the hill.”
“So you don’t think,” Klaybear said, “they were trying to approach the building on the hilltop?”
Blakstar shook his head. “I’m no seklesi,” he noted, “but that is what it looks like.”
They heard a whistle from the direction Tevvy had gone. They looked in that direction, saw him wave them over.
“What is it?” Klaybear asked as they came to the edge of the trees.
“Follow me,” Tevvy said, turning away from them and the beach. “I think these troops have been here a while.”
“What makes you think that?” Blakstar asked.
“There is a camp all through these woods,” he noted, “just beyond sight of the beach. The fires are all out, but it looks like they were put out suddenly, and only a few hours ago. As if they received some signal that we were approaching.”
Thal stopped suddenly. “A signal?” he said, “a few hours ago?” he added after a moment. The others were looking at him, wondering what had occurred to him. His face lit up. “Of course!” he exclaimed, “so simple, now that I think about it.” He looked at Tevvy. “You sent them the signal.”
“What?” the other three said in unison.
“Not to our enemies,” Thal added, seeing Blakstar’s suspicion growing. “You signaled the building on the hill, which we believe is Shigmar’s tomb.”
“You are not making sense,” Tevvy said, looking puzzled, “how did I signal that building that wasn’t there before?”
“When you turned the key in the statue,” Thal said, smiling.
“Are you saying,” Klaybear said, “that when you turned the key in the lock on the statue pedestal, and the statue shot a ball of light this direction, that light was the signal?”
Thal nodded. “Yes,” he said, “that light activated the building on the hill, making it visible for us to see and enter. Gar, or the morgle, it really doesn’t matter which one, knew where the tomb was located, and also knew that it would not become visible until we activated the statue in Kalbant. So, Gar sent troops here to wait, knowing that we would be coming here soon, telling them to watch the hilltop and when a building appeared, conceal themselves and wait for us to arrive. The ball of light from the statue was not moving very fast, so it would have taken some time for it to arrive here, not as long as us, of course . . . ,” he stopped, interrupted by Klaybear.
“But about the time,” Klaybear noted, “we saw the flash of light.”
Thal nodded. “The troops here saw the ball of light, saw the building appear, and started to move into the woods around the hill. But Shigmar knew, when he created this place, that Gar would know where his tomb was located, and so put in place a teka explosion that would clear the area of Gar’s troops, allowing us entry, so that we would not have to fight our way past Gar’s troops to enter his tomb.”
Tevvy looked skeptical. “That is a lot to deduce, from what little we have found,” he noted. “I still don’t think that means it is safe to approach the tomb, if that is what it is. Nothing we have found here precludes the possibility that there is a powerful creature hiding in the shadows of the building, waiting for us. If the morgle sent the troops to catch us, without Gar’s approval, he could have sent someone, or come himself, destroyed the morgle’s troops, and is now hiding in the shadows waiting for us to blunder up to the tomb. We still need to be very careful.”
“I don’t think we should not be careful,” Thal said, “since there may be other wards protecting it from any approach.”
“Right,” Tevvy said, “then I’ll go ahead and make a sweep around the hill, to see what I can find; you three can go back and wait by the boat. It shouldn’t take more than half-an-hour.”
Blakstar was shaking his head. “I’m coming with you,” he said.
“You’ll only slow me down,” Tevvy objected, “so I’m going alone.”
“No, I’m coming with you,” Blakstar said, “I’m not so trusting as the seklesi.”
Anger twisted Tevvy’s face; he looked up at Blakstar. “Fine,” Tevvy said, “but stay a good distance behind me, so I can act without worrying about the noise you are making.”
“I won’t make any noise,” Blakstar said.
“Maybe not that you can hear,” Tevvy retorted, “but even when you are only breathing, I can hear your chain mail tinkling.” He turned and strode off without looking back.
Blakstar looked to the others for support. “I move as quietly as he does,” he said, “and my chain mail does not ‘tinkle.’”
“Have you forgotten,” Thal began carefully, “that the hearing and sight of the awemem are sharper than ours?” he finished slowly.
“I haven’t forgotten,” Blakstar said. “He’s a thief; I don’t trust thieves.” He turned and followed Tevvy.
Thal and Klaybear exchanged a look, then both sighed, turning to go back to the beach where their boat was concealed.
Now that these four have found the entrance to Shigmar’s tomb, come back next week and see what happens when they approach and attempt to enter! In the meantime, we note that this ebook, along with the first six books in the series, are half-off until January 1st from Smashwords! Look below to last Wednesday’s post for the codes! If you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace. Good reading and Merry Christmas to all!
|Posted by gwermon on December 13, 2014 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
12 December 2014
Welcome back for another installment of the Poet’s Corner! We remind our readers that books 1-6 of “The Redemption” series are half-off until January 1st, so look for the coupon codes on our recent blog announcement! Last week, we learned that angelic beings had animated the Mariner’s crew, but now that the ship had returned to the Mariner’s home port, these divine characters leave and the corpses fall down. The Mariner then hears the oars and splash of the pilot’s boat–he who will guide the ship into the harbor–and sees three in the boat: the pilot, the pilot’s boy (indentured servant), and the local Hermit. This third person brings the Mariner a sudden joy, for he can receive the Mariner’s confession of his “hellish deed” and “shrieve” him, which means forgive. This new group, however, notices that this ship is odd:
The skiff boat neared: I heard them talk,
'Why, this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now? '
'Strange, by my faith! ' the hermit said -
'And they answered not our cheer!
The planks look warped! and see those sails,
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them,
Unless perchance it were
Brown skeletons of leaves that lag
My forest-brook along;
When the ivy tod is heavy with snow,
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
That eats the she-wolf's young.'
'Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look, '
The pilot made reply,
'I am a-feared' - 'Push on, push on! '
Said the hermit cheerily.
The pilot calls the ship ‘strange’ and relates his doubt that this ship could be the one who signaled with so many beautiful lights. We remind our readers that these lights were the angelic creatures flying from the ship. The Hermit then tells us how terrible the ship looks, comparing it to the dead of winter when the young owl catches and eats wolf pups. The pilot calls it ‘fiendish, and wishes to turn back, thinking that there is something supernatural about this ship. The Hermit, perhaps feeling the Mariner’s need through his church office, tells the pilot to keep going. Next week, we will see what happens as the pilot’s boat meets Mariner’s ship, another strange turn in Coleridge’s bizarre tale! Merry Christmas and good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on December 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
The Final Sacrifice: Book 7 of The Redemption
The exciting conclusion to the Redmption series is available in time for Christmas for all the book lovers on your list! Also, get Books 1-6 from Smashwords for half-price using the following coupon codes:
Chosen of the One HY97Z
Staff of Shigmar JZ42F
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Rod of Melbarth PD29D
Xythrax's End DE56A
House of Potimus TS83P
These coupons will expire January 1, 2015, so get them while they are half-off!
|Posted by gwermon on December 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
8 December 2014
Welcome back! In this week’s installment of the serialization of the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar, we follow four of the chosen as they begin crossing Krystal Lake to find the location of Shigmar’s tomb and the staff that will save the city and school of the kailum. . . .
Chapter 7, Part 1
The hierarchy among Gar’s followers is murky at best; we can never be sure who is on top, as they constantly fight among themselves, sometimes acting for themselves, sometimes acting under Gar’s orders. . . .
from Annals of Melbarth, 351st Series, Lectures of the Hierarchs
Lecture by Sedra Kresgart
“I’ve never seen the lake so calm,” Klaybear said, pulling oars from where they were stowed under the seats. Klare’s family boat would seat eight, having both a mast and sail, which was furled, and oars for those times, like this day, when there was no wind. Rokwolf waved from the shore, turned, and started climbing the hill back toward where Klare waited, watching over her injured mother and sister. Klaybear handed the first pair of oars to Blakstar, who fit them into the oarlocks closer to the prow. The kortexi turned back to the kailu, took the third oar, and fitted it into place closer to the stern. Klaybear took out the fourth oar and fitted into place; both sat down, Klaybear closer to the stern. Thal sat in the prow; Tevvy sat in the stern holding the tiller.
“All right,” Tevvy said, “we’ll start slowly and speed up, depending on how well you two work together.”
“You’ve sailed before?” Thal asked, grinning back at him.
The awemi nodded. “My father believes that for us to be more useful,” Tevvy began, “we should be proficient at many ‘mundane’ skills,” he finished, looking at Klaybear and Blakstar. “Are you two ready? he asked. “I’m guessing that since this boat belongs to Klare’s family, that you have had some experience rowing?”
Klaybear nodded, a grin twitching at the corners of his mouth. “One infamous trip,” he said, “Klare and I took by ourselves when we were courting. The time got away from us,” he said, looking slightly sheepish, “so we did not start back until late, very late, as I recall. So the evening breeze that usually comes from the north, had died away. I had to row, by myself, halfway back across the lake. We did not get back until the third hour past midnight. I thought her father would cut me into pieces like the fish we were supposed to have been catching.”
The others laughed at this; Tevvy left the tiller and knelt next to Klaybear. “I’m guessing that you, Blakstar, have not rowed before?”
The kortexi shook his head. “Once, when I was very young,” he said, “but that was years ago, and my father did not let me row for long.”
Tevvy pointed to the rib under Klaybear’s bench. “Do you see how that rib is reinforced?” he asked. Blakstar nodded. Tevvy went on. “Put your feet there, and push with your legs as you pull back on the oars. Watch Klaybear and lift your oars when he does, lean forward, then dip your oars and pull again, when he does.”
Blakstar nodded once, then lifted his oars out of the water, ready to lean forward.
“Don’t try to reach too far, at first,” Tevvy said, “we’ll work up to a faster pace once you get a feel for it.”
Tevvy went back to his seat and took the tiller. “Ready?” he asked. Klaybear lifted his oars and waited; Blakstar held himself ready, imitating the kailu. “All right. Lean forward, drop, lean back, pull, and lift,” Tevvy said, and the boat slid forward slowly. The kailu moved smoothly; the kortexi’s movement was more jerky. “Not bad, again,” he said, repeating the sequence; the boat moved forward, slightly faster. “Again,” Tevvy said, this time adding numbers, and smiling as Blakstar learned quickly, moving more smoothly with each stroke. After about two dozen slow strokes, Tevvy told Blakstar to lift and rest his oars; the awemi tapped the cadence with his free hand on the side of the boat; Klaybear kept rowing, and the boat glided forward smoothly.
“Watch Klaybear for a moment,” Tevvy said, “notice how he twists the oars after he lifts them from the water, so that the blade enters smoothly when he dips them back in. This small action reduces the drag of the oar as it enters the water when the boat is moving through the water. Extend your stroke, Klaybear,” he said, waiting until the kailu had done a couple of longer strokes. “Ready?” he asked, still tapping the side of the boat.
“Ready, forward, twist, back, pull, lift, forward, twist, back, pull,” he repeated, watching as his two companions worked the oars, the kortexi nearly as smoothly as the kailu. “Good,” he said, still tapping, “have you got the rhythm of it?”
Again, the kortexi nodded, continuing to imitate the actions of the kailu rowing in front of him.
Tevvy continued to tap, checking periodically to see that he was still steering them directly north. “We’ll keep this speed,” he started to say, but stopped when Blakstar missed catching the water, going over backward and landing on Thal’s knees.
Klaybear felt, and then saw, Blakstar miss, and so lifted his oars.
“Watch it!” Thal exclaimed, surprised by the kortexi landing on his lap; he had been looking forward.
The kortexi laughed, tried to sit up quickly and catch up with Klaybear, saw him holding his oars out of the water, so stopped as he leaned forward.
Tevvy smiled. “Not to worry,” he said, still smiling, “I expected that to happen much sooner, so you are doing quite well. As we move faster, the tendency will be to do that more often, as the oar will start to move back as soon as it touches the water. You must sensitize your hands to the ‘feel’ of the oar as it dips into the water: too deep, and you will get out of sync, too shallow, and you will end up in Thal’s lap.”
“Thanks,” Thal quipped sarcastically, “I always wanted an armored kortexi resting on my lap.”
The others chuckled. “Okay,” Tevvy began tapping the side again, “here we go again, forward,” he said repeating the cadence until Blakstar and Klaybear got them gliding forward again. “You might have noticed,” he said after a few minutes, “that the oars want to twist as you reach the back of your pull and start to lift. This is natural, and it will help reduce the drag on the oar as it is lifted out of the water. Anything that reduces the drag will help to conserve your energy. A good oarsman can row at a steady pace for hours, if he needs to. We don’t need to, so I’ll let you rest in turns.”
Blakstar made several more mistakes, including getting out of sync with Klaybear, or not fully catching the water, but within ten more minutes, he had mastered rowing. After fifteen minutes passed with only the sound of Tevvy’s tapping the side of the boat breaking the silence, Tevvy told Klaybear to rest while Blakstar continued to row. Thal looked up, noticing the change and breaking the silence.
“Do you suppose,” Thal said, “that Gar knows where Shigmar’s tomb is?”
Klaybear pulled his oars further in so he could turn and look at Thal, seated in the prow. “Given that he seems to know where we are going before we do,” Klaybear said, “and that he could enter our sacred glade, when no one of evil intent is supposed to be able to enter, I’d say he does.”
“Do you think,” Thal went on, “he would want us to get our hands on any of the keys? And,” Thal added, “does he know what the keys will do to him?”
“Are you talking about the ‘lonely cell’ mentioned in the inscription we found on Shigmar’s monument?” Tevvy asked.
“If he knows where it is,” Klaybear said, “why would he attack and destroy Kalbant?”
Thal shrugged. “Maybe to keep us from finding out where it is,” he replied.
“What about,” Blakstar said, breathy from his exertions, “the fact that all the corpses were marked in the forehead just like you are, Klaybear?”
“Are we certain,” Thal countered, “that Gar is responsible for the attack on the village? How do we know that it was not carried out by the morgle who holds Melbarth’s rod?”
“How do we know,” Tevvy put in, “that the morgle is acting on his own? How do we know the morgle’s attack on Shigmar, and the destruction of Kalbant, are not part of some larger plan of Gar’s?”
“We don’t,” Klaybear replied.
“Perhaps,” Thal said, rubbing his chin, “and perhaps not.”
“What do you mean?” Klaybear asked.
“I’m not certain,” Thal replied, “that Gar would allow this morgle, a creature already powerful in mentalics to possess such a powerful mental artifact as Melbarth’s rod. Wouldn’t Gar worry about the morgle becoming too powerful and challenging him?”
“Maybe,” Klaybear said, “ but in my two encounters with him, he seemed awfully sure of himself.”
“Maybe he doesn’t know,” Tevvy put in, “that the morgle has the rod.”
“It’s possible,” Thal said, “that would explain his sureness when you encountered him in the glade of the kailum, but maybe not when we found him in Shigmar.” He tapped his chin for a moment before speaking again. “Maybe it doesn’t matter, either way,” he noted.
“Why not?” Tevvy asked.
“Because,” Thal answered, “whether the morgle is acting on Gar’s orders or acting on his own, we can guess their possible responses.”
“What do you mean?” Tevvy asked.
“If we assume that the morgle,” Thal said, “is acting on his own, the fact that Kalbant was attacked indicates that he knew which direction we would go on leaving Shigmar to look for the staff. That all the corpses were marked with the same sign as each of us has been marked with tells me that he knew exactly where we would go. Add to that, the fact that he holds the rod, one of the three, and we know that the three are bound together, so he could have found precisely where the staff is using only the rod. This would imply knowledge of the tomb’s location, and since he has been trying to prevent us from getting there, I believe he will have placed more of his troops at or near the location of the tomb, so that we are heading into a trap.”
“And if he is acting on Gar’s orders?” Klaybear asked.
“Then,” Thal began, “we can also bet Gar knows where the tomb is, did all the things I have mentioned because he knew where we would go and what we would do, and he will also place forces at that location to prevent us from entering.”
“And,” Tevvy added, “we are only four. I don’t know about the three of you, but I’m sure I don’t want to walk into a trap.”
“Nor I,” Thal noted, “but I’m not sure what we can do to avoid the trap. We have to get the staff and return with it to Shigmar, which means we have to find some way to get past the trap without triggering it.”
“Klaybear,” Tevvy said, “you should row again and give our good kortexi a rest.”
A flicker of annoyance crossed Blakstar’s face. He lifted and pulled in his oars even as Klaybear slid his out and started to row. Thal turned back to look forward.
“Maybe I should,” Tevvy said, looking thoughtfully to the north, “steer us away from the hill where the tomb is, so we could land either to the west or east of it, then we could approach it more carefully and look for a gap in their positions to allow us to slip past and into the tomb?”
Klaybear shook his head. “If it is where I think it is,” he said, pausing to answer, “it is the only place where we can land the boat; we would have to go far out of our way to find a different landing place that would allow us to approach secretly.” He went back to rowing.
Thal looked back. “If either of our enemies knows where the tomb is, surely they would have prepared for such a move on our part.” He turned back, looking north. “Tevvy,” he said after a moment, “I know it is still distant, but can your awemi eyes see anything ours cannot?”
“You mean, directly north?” Tevvy asked.
“Yes,” Thal said without looking back.
Tevvy let go of the tiller and stood on his bench. “Keep us straight, Klaybear,” he noted, putting a hand over his eyes, although the day was still cloudy and gray. “I can’t be sure,” he said after a silent moment, “we are still far away, but it looks like there is a star shining on the far shore.”
“A star?” Blakstar said, turning to look.
“Well,” Tevvy continued, “a point of bright light. Wait!” he said suddenly. “I think it is getting brighter.”
Klaybear pulled in his oars and turned to look.
“I thought there was something,” Thal said, “but I could not tell if it were really there, or if I were imagining it.”
“I see what you mean,” Blakstar added, “and I think you are right: I can see something.”
Come back next week for another installment in our tale, and learn what Sir Blakstar sees in the distance. In the meantime, get the full ebook from Smashwords, Amazon, and other ebook retailers; if you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace. Also, look for a book announcement later this week concerning the conclusion of The Redemption series, just in time for Christmas!
|Posted by gwermon on December 6, 2014 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
5 December 2014
Last week, we saw the Mariner’s joy as he finally reached his home port, and we likened his sentiments to our own joy at returning home after an absence. This week, we see that Mariner gazing on his home, adoring every detail. When he turns from this view to look at the deck of his ship, he sees another strange and shocking sight:
Each corse [corpse] lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph man,
On every corse there stood.
This seraph band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;
This seraph band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart -
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.
Again, events take another strange turn (hardly a surprise in this weird tale!), and the Mariner sees that his dead and formerly animated crew are now all lying on the deck, lifeless and motionless, but over every corpse stands an angel, which we assume were animating the bodies of the dead crew. However, their work is now done, the Mariner is returned home, and so the angels, whose wordless singing had so impressed him, now leave him, with a wave that must have been friendly, plunging him into a silence that was “[l]ike music on [his] heart”–silence as music, which is a pleasing sound to the Mariner. This leads one to wonder why silence would be as pleasing to the Mariner as angelic music, and what the Mariner was hearing before this lovely silence fell? We can only guess that it must have had something to do with his ‘hellish deed,’ perpetrated against the innocent albatross–perhaps accusing voices, or the death screams of the innocent bird, which certainly could have been part of his punishment. Come back next week for a further strange turn in Coleridge’s masterwork! Good reading.
|Posted by gwermon on December 1, 2014 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
1 December 2014
Now that we have actually reached December, we wish all the merriest Christmas, with the added exhortation that we remember whose birth we are celebrating, and that He was the first, and greatest, of all Christmas gifts! Meanwhile, we return to the conclusion of Chapter 6 of the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. We remind our readers that earlier in this long chapter, Thal, Blakstar, and Tevvy activated Shigmar’s statue and found a new writing, one directed to the chosen; Klare, Klaybear, and Rokwolf have been trying to stabilize and heal Klare’s mother and sister, found near the wreckage of Klare’s family home. . . .
Chapter 6, Part 4
Rokwolf watched them kneeling and holding each other, sharing each other’s grief, for a moment before turning away, stabbed by jealousy. Why, he wondered, did she continue to reject him? He thought of the methaghi’s vision of his future, knew she would be a part of that future, and wondered, again, why she could not see that? But even as he wondered this, another face intruded upon his thoughts, the one other figure that had appeared in the methaghi’s vukeetu; he ground his teeth and shoved her face into the dim recesses of his mind. He had lost his place, his position among the seklesem, his command, sent here to lead this group, the chosen, everyone told him, and constantly be with his twin, who had caught his mate. Jealousy flared again, turning to anger, and he stalked off toward the east, intending to find out what the others were doing. He ignored his brother’s query about where he was going, walking quickly out of their view. He nearly ran over Tevvy, who was following their tracks.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Tevvy asked, leaping aside.
Rokwolf looked up and stopped, but did not speak immediately. “What did you find?” he asked after a moment of silence.
“The monument was destroyed,” Tevvy replied, “but we found a way to repair it, and, in the process, we set off some sort of signal and found a message written to the chosen.”
“Message?” Rokwolf said, puzzled. “There was only Shigmar’s name before.”
“Klare’s family?” Thal asked, brow wrinkled.
Rokwolf sighed. “Her home was destroyed,” he replied slowly, “her father and brothers killed when the house exploded. Her mother and sister were taken and violated by the purem; I don’t think either one will live long.”
“No,” Thal whispered, his eyes tearing.
Tevvy shook his head; looking back, he saw Blakstar’s face mottled with rage, saw him reaching for his sword. Tevvy touched Rokwolf’s arm and pointed.
Rokwolf grabbed the kortexi’s arm and shook it. “They are miles away,” he said, “there is nothing you can do!”
The words affected Blakstar, and he looked at Rokwolf, his eyes focusing on the seklesi. He relaxed slowly, releasing his sword, letting the breath he was holding escape in a sigh. “I don’t understand why I get so angry when anyone mentions . . . rape,” he struggled to say the word, “it makes me want to . . . ,” he went on, but stopped and looked away.
Rokwolf patted the kortexi’s shoulder gently and turned to Thal. “You said there was a message for us,” he said, “what message?”
Thal wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his robe. “I haven’t looked at it closely, but I did see the chosen mentioned.” He took the parchment copy from inside his robes and started to read. “Let’s see,” he said, “Long ago when the young earth made, no, that verb is plural, it must be, when the earth was young, they made wonderful things, they sang great power, um, they created a sword, rod, and staff, hmm, there’s an ‘if,’ so that phrase continues, that would put the rebel son to flight if they trap, oh, but that doesn’t make sense, so the creation of the sword, rod, and staff must have put the rebel son to flight and then, if they catch him–the rebel son–they will put him in a lonely cell,” he paused, “all right, I think it goes on, when the appointed time comes they will discover the three, destruction loosed, puri chiefs not bound, which must mean they are set free to cause the destruction, then, ah, here is what we are looking for, the staff hidden in the north, cross over clear water, find the shrine on a lonely hill, I hope you chosen are strong, not skilled,” he finished, looking up from the parchment.
“Who are the ‘they’ it keeps referring to?” Tevvy asked, “and the ‘rebel son,’ who is that?”
Thal smiled. “The ‘rebel son’ is easy, Gar,” he replied, “but the ‘they’ is more problematic. Sometimes ‘they’ refers to those who created the sword, rod, and staff, sometimes the chosen who will use the three tools to lock Gar into his ‘lonely cell,’” he stopped, his face going white. He looked back at the parchment, then looked at his three companions. “Doesn’t that mean we will have to confront Gar directly?” he asked, but went on before any of the others could respond. “Surely he knows this, so it is not very likely that we could take him by surprise, let alone even come near him. Where is this ‘cell,’ and how are we supposed to put him in it?”
Rokwolf shook his head. “I cannot answer your questions, nor do I think that anyone else could,” he noted. “We have a long way to go before facing that difficulty; right now, we should focus on the problem of the moment, getting the four of you into Shigmar’s tomb,” he said, then turned to Tevvy. “You said there was a signal?”
Tevvy nodded. “A ball of light shot from the statue northward across the lake.”
“Krystal Lake,” Rokwolf said, “the ‘clear water’ mentioned in the inscription.”
“Of course!” Thal snapped, looking up from the parchment, “the staff is in Shigmar’s tomb, and the inscription tells us the staff is hidden north of the lake, so that must be where the tomb is, on the other side of the lake, where the ball of light went.”
“Klaybear, Klare, and I,” Rokwolf said, “have been across the lake many times, but we have never seen any shrine, although there is a ‘lonely hill’ on the north shore,” he finished and frowned, as remembering those trips brought that second female figure back out of the corners of his mind; he thrust her back again. “Let’s go back and tell the others,” he added, “so you can get on your way.”
Blakstar looked at Rokwolf. “You’re not coming with us?” he asked.
Rokwolf shook his head as he turned to go. “Klare must stay here with her mother and sister, trying to keep them alive and heal them. Headmaster Myron hinted to me that only the four of you, the three key holders, and you, Tevvy,” he pointed to the awemi, “should enter the tomb to retrieve the staff. I stay here to watch over and protect my sister-in-law.”
They nodded, following Rokwolf back to where Klaybear and Klare were, leading the horses. Klaybear looked up when he heard their approach.
“Find the tomb?” Klaybear asked.
Rokwolf nodded. “Sort of,” he replied, “we think we know where it is, but you’ll have to cross the lake to get there.”
“We also discovered,” Thal said, holding up the parchment, “a new writing on the statue’s pedestal.”
Klaybear raised one eyebrow. “A new writing?”
Thal nodded, and quickly explained what they had found, and how they had uncovered it. When he finished, he handed the parchment to Klaybear. “I made a copy of the writing,” he said.
Klaybear glanced over it. “Did you translate it?” he asked.
Thal nodded. “The first part of it tells of the sword, rod, and staff,” he began, “and how they were made so that in their future, and I suppose, ours, Gar would be locked into a cell opened by the three keys.”
“We knew they were keys,” Klaybear said, looking at the parchment, “but where is this cell?”
Thal shrugged. “No idea,” he said, “and that worries me. The latter part,” he went on, “tells us that when the three keys are found, the land will be in turmoil, purem causing destruction, and that we, the chosen, will find the staff hidden in the north, across the lake, on a lonely hill.”
Klaybear glanced at his wife, who was also looking at him. He looked back at Thal. “There is a hill by itself, on the north shore of the lake,” he said, “we have been there before,” Klare nodded when he said this, “but we have never seen any signs of a tomb.”
“I mentioned it to them,” Rokwolf said, “and that we have been across the lake several times.”
Klaybear and Klare both nodded in agreement after exchanging a glance.
“We went in my father’s boat,” Klare added, and then her eyes filled with tears.
“Yes, the boat,” Klaybear went on, putting one hand on Klare’s arm. “We would often go sailing on the lake during school holidays, when the weather was good.”
Rokwolf shook his head, again pushing back the figure who came with memories of sailing across Krystal Lake. He looked down at Klare. “Will you be all right, here, by yourself, while I take them down to the lake shore and send them on their way?”
Klare sniffed, then wiped her tears. “I can put a ward around us that will protect us,” she said. She threw her arms around her husband, embracing him fiercely. “Be careful, dear,” she said after kissing him.
Klaybear nodded and whispered something the others could not hear into her ear.
Klare smiled up at him. “Me, too,” she whispered in reply.
Klaybear turned to the others. “Let’s go.”
Return again next week for another installment in the serialization of our tale! We will follow Klaybear, Thal, Blakstar, and Tevvy as this group heads north across Krystal Lake to find the tomb of Shigmar. In the interim, purchase the entire ebook from Smashwords, Amazon, and other ebook stores; if you’d rather read it in print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace. Good reading.
|Posted by gwermon on November 28, 2014 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
28 November 2014
We hope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration, and that all gave thanks for our bounteous blessings. Last time, the dead sailors fixed their stony eyes on the Mariner, causing him to feel the awful nature of his deed. This time, the Mariner finally arrives at his home port, which causes him to rejoice:
Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk [church]?
Is this mine own countree?
We drifted o’er the harbor bar,
And I with sobs did pray–
O let me be awake, my God
Or let me sleep alway.
The Mariner cannot believe his eyes–no surprise, considering all that his eyes have seen! Is he really home? he asks, and when his vision continues to show him his home, he cries a prayer, one that many who have lived away from their homes for any length of time have prayed: I hope this is no dream, and if it is a dream, I have no desire to wake from it! This sentiment is true for us all, and we need only recall a time when we have returned home after an absence, looking on it with new eyes. Come back next week for another installment of the Poet’s Corner! Good reading.
|Posted by gwermon on November 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
24 November 2014
Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers! Remember to give thanks for the many who make our lives easier, more enjoyable, for all those who work behind the scenes, for our family and friends, for health, for work, for the talents of other that enrich our lives, and especially for our God, who gives us all, and sustains us from moment to moment; we must also express this gratitude we feel to all those mentioned above: it is not enough to feel grateful–we need to share it with those around us. Meanwhile, we return to the sixth chapter of the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. Recall that last week, Tevvy, with Thal and Blakstar, activate Shigmar’s statue in the center of Kalbant, and then remember that Klare’s family lived in Kalbant; they move off to find Klare, Klaybear, and Rokwolf, fearing what they will find. . . .
Chapter 6, Part 3
Klaybear hurtled past another smoking ruin, dreading what he would see; he pulled up short, staring at the rubble before him. Klare knelt on the ground next to what must have been a body. Although her back was to him, he could tell by the way she knelt that she was healing; he could feel her manipulating elemental forces. Looking around as he moved slowly forward, he saw that very little remained of her family’s home. The house had been completely destroyed; only a few stones of the foundation remained in place. The whole area was covered with smoldering rubble and broken bits of what were once personal possessions. Even their animals had been butchered, lying strewn among the wrack. As Klaybear got closer to his wife, he could see her sister kneeling opposite Klare, watching as Klare worked, one hand on her mother’s forehead. Jally looked up, hearing the sound of his approach, her dirt-stained face streaked with tears, and a strand of her brown hair was stuck to her forehead, falling over her nose.
“Jally,” he said as he knelt next to Klare, “where is the rest of the family?” he asked, fearing her response.
Jally turned her head and glanced toward the place where the house had been. “They never got out,” she sobbed. “Father pushed mother and I out first, then went back for the boys. The whole house exploded; the purem were everywhere; they took us and they . . . ,” she burst out crying, unable to speak for a time.
Klaybear looked down and saw his mother-in-law, unconscious; Klare worked frantically to keep her alive. One glance told Klaybear that she was losing the battle, although the wounds were not obvious; there were bruises all over her mother’s body. As he watched her work, she lifted her hand from her mother’s forehead, and Klaybear saw something that knocked him from his knees back onto his hands; his hood fell off.
Jally looked up and saw the mark burned into Klaybear’s forehead. “You!” she exclaimed, pointing and rising to her feet. “It’s you! You killed my family and destroyed my village!” She reached out with clawed hands and leapt at her brother-in-law.
Klare looked up, shocked by her sister’s outburst. “Jally, no!” she said, putting out a hand to try and stop her.
Before Klaybear could move, Jally had her hands around his throat. “We were defiled because of you!” she hissed through clenched teeth; her fury loosened the hair stuck to her forehead, revealing that she was branded with a similar mark.
Her hands were suddenly pulled from his throat, but the action left parallel scratch marks on either side of his neck. Klaybear gasped and saw Rokwolf holding the still struggling girl.
“No!” Jally shrieked. “He killed my family and my friends; he must be punished!” She struggled futilely in the seklesi’s grasp.
“Do something!” Rokwolf shouted.
Klare reached out a glowing hand and said, “supno,” putting her to sleep; Jally went limp in Rokwolf’s hands. The seklesi laid her carefully on the ground next to her mother.
“What happened?” Rokwolf asked, pulling his twin to his feet.
Klaybear was still too stunned to speak.
Klare shook her head. “She, for no apparent reason, attacked him.”
Klaybear was staring down at the two foreheads. He pointed. “Look at their foreheads,” he said. “I was so shocked when I saw your mother’s forehead that I fell back, my hood fell off, and your sister saw the mark on my forehead. That was when she attacked,” he finished, letting his arm fall to his side.
Klare’s eyes filled with tears. “Why?” she sobbed. “Why would they do this to my family, my village? My father and brothers killed, my sister mad, my mother . . . ,” she stopped, bowing her head, her body shaking.
Klaybear knelt and took his wife in his arms; Rokwolf looked around.
“Where were her father and brothers?” Rokwolf asked in twin.
Klaybear nodded toward the rubble that was the house. “Inside,” he said, “the house exploded.”
Rokwolf moved carefully forward, stepping over the tumbled foundation, eyes scanning the wreckage. He could see where the walls had been, but there was little else recognizable among the rubble. He moved through the house, looking for places where someone could have sheltered from the explosion. “Wasn’t there a cellar?” he asked, still speaking in their private language.
“A root cellar,” Klaybear replied, “but it was entered from the outside of the house.”
“At the back?” Rokwolf asked.
Klaybear nodded. “Yes,” he said. Klare’s sobbing had quieted, but she still clung to her husband. “How is it,” he began, shifting to common, “that you have any energy after using the kortexi’s sword to open a door? When he sent Delgart and Marilee to you in Holvar, he slept for over six hours.”
Rokwolf had moved out of the back of the house, looking for the cellar entrance. “The kortexem are the best fighters in the land, having great skill and knowledge of weapons,” he said, “but if they have a single weakness,” he went on, pulling the broken cellar door off of its opening, “it is in the use of weapons endowed with teka; they are not allowed to use them. In fact, they shun and refuse to use them, so they receive no training in the use of these kinds of artifacts.”
“Aah, of course,” Klaybear said, suddenly understanding. “I’m surprised Thal did not think of it.”
Rokwolf stopped talking for a moment as he climbed into the cellar, emerging a little later. He came around the rubble that was the house back to where Klaybear knelt next to Klare, holding her in his arms. “It is as I feared,” Rokwolf noted, “when the house exploded, the ceiling of the cellar collapsed and filled with rubble. If anyone is still alive in there, it will be difficult to extract them.”
“I can try and detect any signs of life,” Klaybear said, releasing Klare reluctantly and rising, “but Klare is better at it than I am,” he finished, looking down at his wife, who had turned back to examine her mother and sisters.
“I cannot leave them,” Klare said, “neither one is very stable at this moment.”
“I can go,” Klaybear said. He moved off with Rokwolf to investigate the cellar.
Rokwolf switched back to twin. “You have very little time,” he said. “Your Headmaster was quite insistent on the four of you getting into the tomb quickly.”
“The four of us?” Klaybear asked.
“The three key holders and Tevvy,” Rokwolf replied. “Given what has happened here, your wife will not leave her mother and sister, so I will stay with her and watch over her, until you return with the staff.” Rokwolf put one hand on his twin’s arm. “It is almost as if the Headmaster knew what we would find.”
“How could he know her home would be attacked?” Klaybear asked.
Klaybear climbed into the cellar; Rokwolf knelt beside the opening to watch. Klaybear raised his hands, surrounded by green light, concentrating on the rubble filling the collapsed cellar; beads of sweat formed on his forehead, beginning to run down his cheeks; the mark on his forehead pulsed with dull red light. After a few silent minutes, the light surrounding his hands went out, and he lowered his hands slowly. Klaybear sniffed and wiped his face on his sleeves after climbing out.
“You reminded me of the kortexi weakness with teka weapons,” he remarked, trying to turn his thoughts and their conversation away from the tragedy before them.
“Yes,” Rokwolf replied, “they are banned, so they are not trained in the use of teka-enhanced weapons, unlike we seklesem, you kailum, or the maghem. When you use your staff or rod to work with power, you draw energy from all that surrounds you, then channel that energy through the orthek you weave.”
Klaybear nodded. “That makes sense,” he said, “and it is something that we would not have thought of, since we are trained from the beginning to draw energy in the way you describe.”
“So Blakstar,” Rokwolf went on, “does not draw on those other sources as you do, not knowing of them, which means the energy is drawn by the weapon of power directly from him, draining him of strength. He will have to be careful with that sword in battle, as it will drain him completely of strength if he does not learn how to wield it without weakening himself.”
Klare looked up as they walked back to where she knelt beside her mother; her eyes filled with tears and red from her weeping. Klaybear saw her, recognized her sorrow, teared up himself, and moved forward quickly to take her again in his arms.
Come back next week for the next installment in the serialization of our epic, the conclusion of this sixth chapter! In the meantime, purchase the entire ebook copy of this volume from Smashwords, Amazon, and other ebook retailers; if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on November 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
21 November 2014
Last time, we learned that while Coleridge’s Mariner “slept”–a charmed sleep–the ship traveled at supernatural speed, crossing miles and miles of ocean in hours instead of months; now, the Mariner wakes up and sees the dead sailors all gathered together:
All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the moon did glitter.
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.
And now this spell was snapped: once more
I viewed the ocean green,
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen–
We see the dead sailors staring at the Mariner with “their stony eyes” that glitter in the moonlight. It is interesting that the Mariner describes their eyes as glittering, for that is what the Wedding Guest–the guy who is listening to the tale–sees, and it is what keeps him in place, hearing the story to the end. Here the Mariner still feels the curse in the eyes of the dead sailors, but then, finally, the “spell was snapped,” and the Mariner can now see the world around him, its beauty and wonder, and so his penance seems to be over. However, as we shall see in the coming weeks, his penance is not done, for there is more the Mariner must do to pay the price for his “Hellish deed.” Come back again next Friday to see the Mariner’s return to his own port, and his joy at finding himself home. Good reading!