Clyde B. Northrup

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Staff of Shigmar, Prologue, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on July 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

28 July 2014

We return this week with the third and final part of the Prologue to Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption. In this installment, we learn what Delgart’s life was like as a slave of pirates shortly before the shipwreck, which he, only, survives. . . .

 

Prologue, Part 3

 

Atno 3523, Fall

The drum beat endlessly, pounding out the rhythm, stroke by stroke, of the constant misery of existence, of sweat and stench, of continual rotation: two hours at the benches, two hours chained in the hold to rest; but no rest was ever possible for the drum beat, heard through the cracks in the planking overhead, felt through the soles of the feet as it vibrated through the entire ship, monotonous, never changing, ever present, ready to call one back to the benches and the torture. The cruel masters thrived on inflicting pain upon their slaves, and they cared not for any who fell, nor for those who sickened and died: these were unceremoniously tossed overboard, only to be replaced by a seemingly endless supply of new ‘recruits,’ torn from their families, dragged from their villages, to keep their masters’ ships moving on the seas, whether the wind blew or not. Few survived longer than six months; even fewer lasted a year; only one had ever survived for multiple years: a young wethi, strong, tall, with long dirty blonde hair, who rarely spoke, but when he did, spoke well, and he would help the others when he could. Rumors said that he had once been a cabin boy, grown up serving a captain but had fallen out of favor and had been consigned to die on the benches. Somehow, he survived.

A storm lashed the ship; this tall, young wethi had been kept at the benches without a break all day and well into the night, and eighteen hours of rowing in a storm were beginning to take their toll on him. He was not the only one: only one-third of the oars were currently manned, and most of the pirates were in their hammocks, too ill to work their stations. An hour before, the pirate captain had finally admitted defeat and had turned the ship toward a safe harbor where they could weather the storm. A shout, followed by the sounds of the anchor, and the drum beat stopped; those few still at the oars slid off their benches, gasping for breath. The slave master moved forward to unchain the slaves from their benches and move them back into the hold. As he moved down the port side, the captain came in and whispered something to the slave master, after which both looked to where the young wethi had slumped over his oar, the dirty rags he wore soaked with sweat, spray, and rain, his dirty hair hanging over his face and dripping onto his feet, the chains, and the deck. The captain stalked away; the slave master moved on, down the port side, skipping over the young wethi, then back up the starboard side, and without a backward glance, led the line of exhausted slaves down the stairs and into the hold. A few of the slaves kept glancing back at the young wethi, but none of them mentioned him, knowing that to do so would evoke sharp retribution from their masters. The young wethi was too tired to do more than glance at his fellows as they were led away before he slid onto the floor.

Two hours before dawn, the storm had only lessened slightly; one of the younger pirates was aloft in the crow’s nest scanning the horizon for signs of pursuit. Below, the bosun lay on the deck in a swoon, supposedly on watch but overcome by the rum he had drunk to give him courage to stand watch and face the storm. The one slave chained to his oar still slept, his breath wheezing, and he constantly twitched, as if his dreams were unsettling; his hands were raw and covered with dried blood, his ribs visible, and his lips were dry and cracked; his cheeks were hollow, and there were dark circles beneath his eyes. The space beside him shimmered, and a figure, half of shadow, half of light, formed in the air beside the young, unconscious slave, a figure so insubstantial that one could see the other oars and benches through the figure. A single point of light shot from the ghostly figure up to the crow’s nest, circled the pirate twice, then winked out, and when this point went dark, the pirate above slumped, instantly asleep. The ghostly figure lowered his hood and looked up, making sure the pirate above him had gone to sleep; the face revealed resembled the young slave who lay sleeping on the deck, although the figure was not as tall as the living wethi.

“My son, wake up,” the ghostly figure said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper, but seemed to penetrate the sleeper, who stirred and rolled from his side onto his back. “If you continue in this stupor much longer,” the figure whispered, “you will die. Wake!” the figure commanded, and the young wethi moved again, pushing himself painfully into a sitting position, leaning heavily against his rowing bench.

“Wh-huh?” he croaked, struggling to open his eyes and focus them on the figure floating in the air before him.

“You must wake up, or you will die,” the figure repeated. “It is not your time to die; there is too much for you to do.”

The eyes opened wide. “Father?” he asked. “Is that you? But you are dead: I dreamed that you died.”

The figure smiled pleasantly. “Yes,” he replied, “I have died, and I was your father in life, but do not be frightened by me now: I have not come to torment you, but to give you hope. You have to hold on a little longer, and if you do, you will become greater than you can possibly imagine, the greatest of anyone in our family, you and your twin brothers.”

“But Father,” the young slave interrupted, “I cannot hold on any longer; I know you have seen how badly I am treated: I will not survive, I have already survived longer than anyone ever has. It is only a matter of time before . . . ,” he hesitated, and in that moment the ghostly figure spoke again.

“Only you control your destiny,” the figure said, “no one controls it for you.”

The young wethi laughed, which started him coughing; it was several minutes before he could speak. “I am a slave,” he croaked, “my life, my being, my destiny, as you put it, is controlled by my masters.”

“No!” the figure denied. “Have you learned nothing from your experiences?” he asked. “I did not raise you to give in, to give up; I did not raise you to be a slave to someone else.”

The young wethi was angered by these words; he held up his manacled and chained wrists and shook them at the figure. “Look at these!” he shouted. “These are the chains of a slave! I have no choice in this.”

“Iron chains do not make a slave,” the figure replied in the same soft, whisper, and he pointed to the young wethi’s forehead. “The chains are in here; you always have a choice, my son: you are still in control of your destiny,” and with those words, the ghostly figure shimmered and vanished.

The young wethi was so angered by the words that he roared out loud, waking both the bosun and the pirate in the crow’s nest.

“What is it?” the bosun shouted.

“I don’t know,” the pirate above replied but stopped, “wait, I see something.” He lifted the spy glass to his eye and pointed it in the direction he had been looking when he woke. After a moment, he saw what they feared: a ship bearing the banner of the Fereghen, coming toward them. “Another ship!” he shouted. “A ship of the Fereghen, in pursuit,” and the bosun rang the alarm that sounded below. Shouts were followed by running feet, then the clinking of chains, as pirates ran up from below, and a line of slaves was hurried into place from the hold. The young wethi was taken back to the hold and finally fed and given water, which he hardly tasted as he ate, his thoughts filled with the last words he had heard, and the words caused a great anger inside, an anger that did not find a release until two hours later, when it was his turn to be led again to the benches. Each stroke, each beat of the drum, reinforced the words: Iron chains do not make a slave; the chains are in your mind; you always have a choice; you choose your destiny. Again, and again, with every pull of the oar, with every thud of the drum, the words burned through his mind, feeding his anger and powering his every stroke. His father did not know, could not know, what it was like to be a slave! How could he understand the misery, the endless days, the constant torment of the lash, the monotonous thump of the drum that haunted every moment, whether awake or asleep, of every day of his life? The drum beat on, and with every pull of every oar, and every lash of the slave master’s whip, he moved farther and farther away from the ship of the Fereghen that symbolized freedom. The chains were in his mind? The sting of the whip brought him again back to reality, his reality, and he thrust the words back into a dark corner of his mind, but the anger drove him on.

 

Come back next week for another installment of our tale; we will begin the story proper, meeting some of Gar’s servants, and see Tevvy as he tries to discover why there are soldiers wandering through the sewers. . . . Purchase a full ebook copy from Smashwords and enter the code JZ42F to receive 50% off. If you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace! Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

25 July 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

We continue this week with the actual beginning of Coleridge’s poem, “Kubla Khan”:

 

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round :

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

 

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover !

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced :

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :

And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war !

The shadow of the dome of pleasure

Floated midway on the waves ;

Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

 

The poet begins with a physical description of the place where the Khan built his pleasure dome, and you would be amazed at the ink spilled to point to an actual geographical place somewhere in Asia. What becomes apparent with the second stanza’s descriptions is that this is on an actual place, but a fantastic realm where we see rivers producing fountains out of ice caves, and yet the climate of the surface is temperate! The forest on these grounds is haunted, with the sounds of women wailing for their demon lovers; the chasm in the ground yields air like the breathing of some great beast; the caverns are without end, although the ground walled is only ten miles per side. It is, as the poet describes, a miraculous place, where wild, magical things happen, where the food and drink are beyond description. Come back next week for the final section of this supernatural poem by Coleridge! Good reading!

 

Staff of Shigmar, Prologue, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on July 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

We return for the second installment of the Prologue to Book 2, Staff of Shigmar. We meet many of the major characters in the story, witnessing the wedding reception of Klaybear and Klarissa. Be sure to get the discount code for this book from Smashwords and receive half-off the ebook version the this second book in The Redemption series!

 

Prologue, Part 2

 

Atno 3523, Early Summer

The westering sun illuminated the yard and its perfectly trimmed trees, bushes, and lawn, decorated to celebrate the joining of one of the village’s daughters, one who had left a decade ago to study at the kailu school in Shigmar, a day’s ride to the south and founded by the village’s most famous son. The lilacs around the yard were in full bloom, perfuming the already pine-scented air; garlands of wildflowers hung from the lower branches of all the trees and adorned the white cloths draped over the many trestle tables that had been set up around the yard. The day had been perfect, warm without becoming too hot, clear, with a gentle breeze moving among the guests and cooling them. The entire village attended, as the bride and her family were well-known and well-loved, but they were nearly overwhelmed and overawed by those who attended from the kailu school, since several of the masters had come, including Headmaster Myron and Master Healer Avril, for the groom and bride were apprenticed to these two masters. There was a move by the bride’s family and the villagers, when the masters arrived, to give them special treatment, but the masters would have nothing to do with it, reminding all that only two would receive special treatment on this day, which was the reason all had gathered.

The village council had declared the day a holiday, and so after the morning had passed in frantic preparations, the afternoon passed more pleasantly, eating the food brought by all while the meat was turned on spits over great open pits, dancing to music played by all who brought instruments and could play, or just sitting and enjoying each others’ company. The bride and groom, and their attendants, spent the first hour at the entrance, greeting all who came, accepting gifts, and listening to their advice, some of which was quite blunt. At times, the groom, and his twin brother, although they did not look alike, were embarrassed by the talk, their faces bright red; the bride’s eyes kept darting to her new husband, a wicked grin playing at the corners of her mouth, which caused the advice-giver to laugh out loud. Once most of the guests had arrived, the bride and groom began to move among their guests, and if they ever loitered too long in one place, the bride’s mother would shoo them onward, and so the afternoon passed pleasantly.

“Where’s he gone?” Klare asked, noticing that her brother-in-law, who should have been with her husband, was missing. She adjusted her hair before she and her bridesmaid moved on.

Sutugno looked around. “I think he keeps trying to catch her alone,” she said with a hint of bitterness, re-adjusting Klare’s hair and the flower wreath she wore.

Klare made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Foolish boy!” Klare noted under her breath. “I’ve tried to talk to him; Klaybear’s tried; I even had father try, but he won’t listen.”

Sutugno was only half-listening; she was watching the seklesa as she continued to flirt with one of the young wethem of the village. “He is foolish if he cannot see,” she whispered to herself, then realized Klare had spoken to her. “Sorry,” she said.

Klare looked at her for a moment, then turned to look at the seklesa with blue-black hair; she was flirting outrageously with Kleetor, and there was Rokwolf, watching her. Klare shook her head. “I feel about her the way I feel about you,” she noted.

Sutugno looked at Klare. “That’s an odd thing to say: what do you mean?” she asked.

Klare’s eyes narrowed. “You know I’ve always felt like you were a long lost sister,” she replied, turning and smiling at Sutugno.

Sutugno returned the smile. “I know, and I agree,” she added.

Klare turned back the direction they had been looking. “I’ve felt the same way about her,” she went on, “since I met her, but I do not understand how that could be, since my husband,” she paused, and looked at Klaybear, who looked uncomfortable speaking with a pair of village elders, then she looked at Sutugno, “how strange that word sounds in my own mouth.”

“You’ll get used to it,” Sutugno laughed. “You were saying?”

“I was?” Klare said, sounding distracted. “Oh, yes, I was saying since my husband has only one brother, and there are two of you: he cannot be joined to both, and she treats him as I do, as a brother.”

“And he doesn’t want me,” Sutugno said bitterly.

Klare looked at her, face concerned. “I’m not so sure that is true,” she said. “There is something odd about his desire for her, something unnatural about it, almost as if . . . ,” but her voice trailed off, and what she thought, she did not say.

Sutugno sniffed once and opened her mouth to speak again, but was cut off by another voice.

“Klarissa!” Klare’s mother snapped. “What are you two doing, standing here, staring and whispering to each other? You are supposed to be speaking to your guests!”

“Mother!” Klare jumped. “We were just wondering where Rokwolf had slipped off to, and we were just moving on.”

Leukila smiled at her daughter, but there was a tightness around her eyes that Klare noticed.

Klare touched Sutugno’s arm. “Better go rescue Klaybear,” she noted in a low voice, “and see if the two of you can find his missing twin.”

Sutugno looked at Klare a moment then nodded and left Klare and Leukila.

“Mother,” Klare said, taking Leukila’s arm, “I haven’t had anything to eat or drink in a long while, and you look famished.”

Leukila’s eyes narrowed as she looked at her daughter. After a moment, she replied, “I am a little thirsty.”

Mother and bride moved together to one of the serving tables, where one of their neighbors was currently taking a turn serving; she filled them cups and congratulated Klare, then turned to help others. Klare and her mother moved to one side.

“Mother,” Klare began without preamble, “something is troubling you.”

Leukila looked shocked. “What a thing to say,” she replied, “on this day, of all days!”

“Mother, I can see there is something bothering you.”

Leukila shook her head. “No, I am fine.”

“Mother, don’t force me to use my powers,” Klare threatened, “to delve into your mind and discover what is troubling you.”

“Klarissa! How dare you speak to your mother that way!” Leukila replied. “You stop this at once, or I will call your father, and he will put you over his knee and smack some sense into you!”

Klare laughed. “Here? At my age? Really, mother, you should confine your threats to ones that are actually possible. Besides, I do not think Daddy would paddle me today: he might give Klaybear instructions. . . .”

“Klarissa! You keep a civil tongue!” Leukila exclaimed. “At least in front of our guests,” she added and laughed.

Klare smiled sheepishly. “Now will you tell me what is bothering you?” she asked.

Leukila looked at her daughter closely. “I have to keep reminding myself that you are no longer a little girl,” she noted with a hint of sadness, “since you spent most of the last ten years away from home,” she idly straightened the garland crowning Klare’s head, “which is where my trouble began.”

Klare frowned. “You didn’t want me to study at Shigmar?” she asked.

“No, that’s not it,” Leukila replied, “but we realized then that this day would come, the day when you would be joined to another kailu, and we would not . . . ,” but she stopped and turned away from her daughter. “It does not matter.”

Klare suddenly realized what was upsetting her mother. “Mother, I am so sorry,” she said, “I never realized . . . ,” she went on, but Leukila cut her off.

“Let it go, Klarissa,” Leukila said, “it does not matter; what matters is that you have done the right thing, and you have kept the vows you made to your order. That means more to me than . . . ,” she paused, “well, than anything else.”

“Tears already?” a new voice, the voice of Klare’s father, asked. “You promised, my dear, that there would be no tears until the celebration was over.”

Leukila pointed at Klare. “It is her fault, Blekan,” she said, “she extorted them out of me. I think you should put her over your knee!”

Blekan coughed. “Well,” he said, clearing his throat, “I think she’s too old for that, my dear, but if she wants me to, I could speak to her husband about it . . . ,” he left it hanging, exchanging a knowing grin with his wife.

Klare frowned at them both. “You both need to leave him alone,” she said firmly, “it is not his fault that his mother died when he and Rokwolf were born, and his father was injured and unwell after that, and so never got around to teaching him those things.” She looked to where Klaybear stood talking with Sutugno, Rokwolf, and several villagers, and a wicked grin crept across her face. “I’ll handle the rest of it,” she whispered to herself.

Both her parents were laughing at her; she looked at them, a surprised look replacing the grin she had been wearing. “What is so funny?” she asked.

Her parents looked at each other; her father spoke first. “I really think this falls into your realm, my dear.” He smiled.

“Thank you, my love,” Leukila replied, “I think this one does.” She smiled the exact same smile that Blekan wore. “There is a huge difference between knowledge and experience,” she said.

Klare’s look of incomprehension caused both her parents to laugh. “What are you saying?” Klare asked.

“Think about it,” Leukila said, and she kissed Klare on one cheek.

At the same time, her father kissed her other cheek. “It will come to you,” Blekan said, and they turned away from her to rejoin the celebration, “sooner or later,” he added as they walked away.

Klare thought about it while her parents walked away, then decided that she needed some more experience, so she took a drink from her cup and put it on the table, then flew into her husband’s arms, kissing him until she felt her knees growing weak, and the cheers and clapping of their guests filled her ears. Even before she opened her eyes, she could feel her husband’s face pulsing with embarrassment; she grinned up at him mischievously, then turned and looked for her parents. Both were smiling, and her father nodded to her.

“Klare,” Klaybear hissed, “what are you doing . . . in front of all these people?”

Klare looked back into his deep, brown eyes, ran her fingers through his curly brown hair, and spoke. “This is only the beginning,” she said softly.

 

Come back next Monday for another installment of Book 2 in which we will see the current, miserable state of the twins’ older brother, Delgart, just before our story begins. Purchase a full ebook copy from Smashwords and enter the code JZ42F to receive 50% off. If you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace! Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 19, 2014 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

18 July 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

Of equal influence with Wordsworth on my writing is his partner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the third of the big three of the older generation of Romantics. I have stated elsewhere that Wordsworth is the most influential on my poetry, while Coleridge, after Tolkien, is the most influential on my prose; this statement is not strictly true, since untangling influence is a complex and difficult process. For the sake of brevity, we will say that Coleridge heavily influences all of my writing, since I spent much of my academic career studying his writings. Favorite among Coleridge’s poetry is his “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but this venue doesn’t lend itself well to this long and complex poem, so we will exhort our readers to read it for themselves. Another favorite of mine is the famous “Kubla Khan,” which we will share over the next few Fridays. Coleridge begins the poem with a preface describing the circumstances of its production, with the subtitle of “A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.” This poem is ‘unfinished,’ for reasons described in what follows:

 

The following fragment is here published at the request of a poet of great and deserved celebrity, and, as far as the author’s own opinions are concerned, rather a psychological curiosity, than on the ground of any supposed poetic merits.

In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in 'Purchas's Pilgrimage:' 'Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto: and thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.' The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter:

Then all the charm

Is broken—all that phantom-world so fair

Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,

And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile,

Poor youth! who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes--

The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon

The visions will return! And lo! he stays,

And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms

Come trembling back, unite, and now once more

The pool becomes a mirror. [From Coleridge’s “The Picture, or, the Lover’s Resolution,” lines 91-100]

Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him. but the to-morrow is yet to come.

As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease.

 

How many great ideas have been lost by interruptions! (In fact, I was just interrupted!) Coleridge weaves an interesting tale of the poem’s production and his irritation that he could not remember all of it. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, opium, also called laudanum, was routinely prescribed in Coleridge’s day for a variety of complaints, including stomach upset; its dangerous addictive nature was little understood in the 19th century, Coleridge becoming an addict like many of his time. We will return next week with the first part of this poem. Good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Prologue, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on July 15, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Today we begin the serialization of the second book in The Redemption series, Staff of Shigmar. In this first part of the Prologue, we see the peddler acting again, in response to actions of Gar, and witness the birth of twin brothers, Klaybear and Rokwolf.

 

Prologue, Part 1

 

The young are foolish in that they allow feeling and prejudice to dictate their actions, landing themselves in one difficulty after another. . . .

 

Tarlana, Headmistress of Shigmar, 167-194

 

Atno 3500, Spring

The sun rose above the horizon, casting long, pink shadows across the road north out of the village of Artowgar; the peddler shook his reins, urging his mule along, confident that his servants, who lived in a tower about 20 miles west of the village, would soon discover the boy he had left in the care of the village innkeeper late the previous night, the boy they were meant to train and adopt as their own son and apprentice, one of the chosen. The peddler jerked his head up, his eyes focusing on the empty air just above and in front of him, as if he were looking at something only he could see, his head cocked, listening.

“I’m on my way there, now,” he spoke to the empty air.

“I just delivered him to the innkeeper, who will see that he is found by our servants,” he said after a moment’s silence, as if he were answering an unseen, unheard inquiry.

“Has he?” the peddler replied, shaking his head sadly. He listened for another moment, then his eyes went distant, as if he were seeing far, far away.

“I can see no other alternative,” he sighed, “and it will have many unfortunate consequences.” His eyes focused again on the air above and before him, air that still appeared to be empty.

“I will take care of it now,” he noted a few moments later, “they must be protected at all costs,” he added, raising his right hand and gesturing; an archway of blinding white light opened before his mule, large enough for both mule and cart. The archway shimmered a moment and resolved itself into a different country road, many leagues to the northwest, where the rain still fell and the sun had not yet risen. The mule plodded through the archway without missing a step or even taking notice of the abrupt change of location and weather; the peddler pulled his hood over his head, smelling the moist air, heavy with salt, and reaching for the cart’s brake as the road plunged steeply down toward the shore of the Western Ocean and the small fishing village that was the peddler’s destination.

###

A hungry, crackling sound caused the old wetha to look up from her knitting and set the colorful wool and her wooden needles aside.

“Who’s there?” she called out, her voice quavering; she stood slowly, her hands on the smooth arms of her rocking chair as she peered blearily into the shadows in the direction of the sound. As quickly as it had come, the crackling sound ceased, and a hissing, bubbling voice spoke a word that she did not understand; purple light enveloped her, putting her into a deep, dreamless sleep. She slumped back into her wooden rocking chair, causing a sudden creaking sound that slowed and then fell silent as the chair stopped moving.

A figure, hooded and cloaked, stepped out of the shadows, its feet flapping gently on the scrubbed pine planks of the wetha’s sitting room floor; the figure held a diamond-topped rod in its two-fingered hand. A second figure, also hooded and cloaked, followed the first, its booted feet clacking with each step across the floor; two points of red light were clearly visible inside the shadows of its hood.

The first figure looked around the room, then focused on the old wetha. “My lord,” his voice, hissing and bubbling, began, “what do we here? What does she have to do with the chosen?” he finished, pointing the diamond-topped rod at the wetha now slumped and asleep.

“You will place a compulsion on her mind,” the second figure answered, his voice suave and sophisticated, “to poison a wetha named Marissa; she will be calling for her soon to deliver twin sons,” he went on, moving next to the wetha and slipping a small bottle into the pocket of her smock. “Make sure she knows where I have placed it, but does not remember it before or after–she always gives them a bitter drink to ease the birth; it will be a simple matter to add the poison to the drink.”

“But, my lord,” the first hissed, “have we not already altered the two about to be born in the future? How do you expect to poison them in the past, knowing they already exist in the future?”

A hand shot out from the second figure and gripped the first around his neck, but the second did not choke the first, only threatened him. “You dare question me?” the second growled, all marks of sophistication gone from his voice, his red eyes so bright they illuminated the green face of the first.

“No . . . my lord!” the first hissed. “I do not understand the subtleties of moving through time.”

The second released the first; his eyes cooling and darkening, no longer visible in the shadows of his hood. “If not for your ability to use that rod, I would destroy you where you stand,” the second noted in a calm voice, “now, do what I asked!” he snapped, the red of his eyes momentarily visible.

“At once, my lord,” the first replied, moving closer to the wetha, the diamond-topped rod surrounded by a sickly green light. The wetha twitched, although still caught in the sleep orthek.

For a time, while the first worked, neither figure spoke, until the first straightened and the light of the rod winked out.

“It is done, my lord,” the first noted in his hissing, bubbling voice.

The second did not move. “I have every confidence that my meddling brother,” he spat the word with derision, his red eyes again visible in the shadows, “will arrive in time to save the two brats; in fact, I want him to save them, since the chosen will do more to further my cause than all of my most faithful servants combined, although they will believe they are doing my father’s work!” he laughed, a low guttural sound, and the first hissed and bubbled in what must have been his version of laughter. The second raised one hand and gestured; a black archway opened before him, and the two figures disappeared into the black doorway, the archway winking out an instant later.

###

“Something’s gone wrong,” the old midwife told Delgart; the tall wethi stood by the door into his house looking up at the gray-haired wetha, wringing his calloused hands. His muscled hands and arms were bare and bore many tiny burns; he wore a leather apron that fell past his knees and was covered with blackened, burned spots. His sandy-brown hair was long and straight and tied by a leather thong at the base of his neck; his gray eyes were bright. A gangly boy who was a spitting image of his father stood clutching the leather apron; the fires of the forge had burned low while they had waited for word from the midwife.

“We must be allowed to see her,” Delgart said, his voice hoarse.

“Father, what’s wrong?” the boy asked.

Both adults ignored the boy.

“I might be able to save the babies,” the midwife said, “but only by sacrificing their mother.”

“Babies?” the elder Delgart asked, surprised.

“Twins,” the midwife replied, “which is why they have come early . . . ,” she added and halted when someone banged loudly on the doors to the smithy.

The elder Delgart went to and unbarred the doors; the boy, Delgart, followed his father more slowly, his gray eyes wide and staring at the midwife; his father pushed open one door, and the peddler rushed in out of the rain.

“Oh, it’s you,” the elder Delgart said, recognizing the peddler and taking his hand. The father tried to speak, to tell his friend what was happening, but only a sob came from his mouth. The peddler, seeing his young friend’s distress, embraced him, and the embrace gave him the courage to speak. “I don’t know what to do,” he told the peddler.

“You must decide now,” the midwife said, “the longer you wait, the less chance of saving the children.”

The peddler released Delgart. “Let’s go and see,” he said in his calm voice, shooting Delgart a reassuring smile; there was something in those deep blue eyes that caused Delgart to smile in return. He led the peddler and the young boy into the house, following the old midwife into the room where Marissa lay. The elder Delgart sobbed again on seeing his wife looking so wasted, so near death; he went at once to her side and took her hand, feeling how cold and damp her delicate hand had become, seeing how pale her skin was. Her chest only moved feebly.

“She has been poisoned,” the peddler noted in his calm voice.

“Poisoned!” the midwife exclaimed. “That is not possible! I have been with her the entire time!”

“Nevertheless,” the peddler replied, “I know poison when I see it; you must take the boys before it is too late.”

“Boys?” the midwife asked, surprised. “How do you know . . . ?”

“No time!” the peddler interrupted. “Quickly! Before it’s too late for the babies!” He touched Delgart’s shoulder. “Take your son away, and hurry! We’ll call you back when it’s done!”

Delgart nodded once, kissed Marissa, then pulled his son with him out of the room and closed the door, leaning against it.

“What’s happened to mother?” the boy asked.

“She’s very sick, son.”

“What about my brothers, are they sick, too?”

“Maybe,” he answered, not noticing the boy’s calling them his brothers.

“Mother looks like Grandma did, before she went away.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Is mother going away?”

Delgart shrugged.

“I don’t want her to go away, like Grandma.”

“Nor do I, son,” he sobbed, squatting and embracing his son, “nor do I; I can’t imagine what I’ll do without her, how I’ll take care of you.”

“And my brothers.”

Delgart laughed through his tears and sobs. “And your brothers.” He stood, holding his son in his arms. For a time they stood this way, the boy patting the father on his back while the father shed silent tears, the boy’s head resting on the father’s strong shoulder.

The door opened a while later, and the peddler beckoned them both back inside.

“We were in time to save your sons,” the peddler spoke in a hushed voice.

“And Marissa?” Delgart asked.

The peddler’s expression did not change. “I’m sorry,” he said simply. “You should go to her before . . . , she is holding her newborn sons,” he went on, changing what he was going to say.

Delgart entered the room still carrying his older boy, looking down at his wife, Marissa; her face had no color, her skin was waxy and hung loose on her face, and he could barely recognize that it was her. The old midwife brushed Marissa’s hair, although it had lost its luster and was limp instead of wavy. The two newborn boys were nursing at her breasts, propped in place by blankets and pillows; one of Marissa’s hands was placed lovingly on each head, one with hair like Delgart’s, the other with hair like hers. Sensing his approached, her brown eyes sought and found his; she tried to smile and speak, tried to say his name.

“Del–,” was all she managed, and the last air escaped from her lungs, and the light faded from her eyes, still focused on his.

Delgart sank to his knees beside the bed, letting his boy slide to the floor beside him, his face falling onto the pillow next to Marissa’s, the light of his world going out.

“Welcome, chosen of the One,” the peddler whispered, placing one hand on the head of the elder Delgart, and one hand on the head of the younger, letting feelings of comfort flow out of himself and into them both. He turned away, leaving the house and the forge to unload the goods he had brought and stack them carefully inside the smithy. When he was finished, he went out into the rain, climbed onto the seat of his cart, urged his mule forward, and disappeared through a blinding white archway. . . .

 

Come back next Monday for another installment of Book 2 in which we will attend the reception for the wedding of Klarissa and Klaybear, meeting other major characters before our story begins. Purchase a full ebook copy from Smashwords and enter the code JZ42F to receive 50% off. If you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace! Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 11, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

11 July 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

This week we’ll take a break from the Romantics to honor my wife on this special day; here is a poem describes the moment both our lives changed forever, a poem available in Words Fail:

 

One Incident-- Two Lives Changed

 

I sat staring at the table littered with books and notes,

striving to bring harmony where none was found.

The chair screeched its protest as I leaned back

letting my eyes wander, I looked out the window,

across a courtyard touched by the shadows of evening.

 

My sight was drawn to a window, mirror image

of the one through which I stared, amused by the

frantic preparation for another Saturday night.

The curtains were open-- with otherworldly volition

I saw past the dim reflection, another being.

She was petite and pretty, brown hair to her shoulders,

dancing to the beat of music only she could hear.

 

I watched silently as she danced, sharing the joy she felt,

preparing for a date with someone else.

It lasted a moment only, smile turning up my lips when

she became aware of my gaze. One step forward,

still in time, she jerked the curtains closed.

 

Eight months later, my smile widened as we

knelt, hand in hand before the Altar.

 

May we never forget moments like this one! Until next Friday, good reading!

Redemption Series Background

Posted by gwermon on July 7, 2014 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

7 July 2014

 

Now that we have finished with the installment version of the first book in The Redemption series, I’ve gone back through my notes searching for other information that might be interesting to our readers. With six books of this series now available in ebook form, there is much in the background of this series now available for examination, giving readers deeper insight into the process of creation, of how the story evolved into its final form. Today, we will examine the names of the three keys, Karble’s sword, Shigmar’s staff, and Melbarth’s rod.

 

In the fall of 2007, flowing out of work on ‘ancient,’ the original language of this created world, I began to create the character set for this language, explained in a blogpost back in 2012. I transcribed some of the important things from ancient–like Shigmar’s prophecy, the inscription on the entrance to his tomb (see Book 2), and the seklesi motto. Partially, I wanted to see what they would look like, and how hard it would be to write using the characters I had devised. Also, I had related, in Book 1, the inscription on Karble’s sword, along with Thal’s interpretation of the words. On the back of the sheet with the prophecy transcribed, I did the key names, along with the seklesi motto:


 

At this point, ancient was only a collection of names–I had yet to decide what the endings of the words would be–so the names of the keys are incomplete: “el-kerd-gheb” still called ‘heart-giver’; “el-gwehr-gheb” or ‘breath-giver’; and “el-men-gheb” or ‘thought-giver’. The same is true of the seklesi motto: none of the endings. More interesting is that below this we see how I created the symbols for both the One and Gar, the one (no pun intended) without the later gender marker, the ‘i’, so I created the sign based only on the letters for ‘e’ and ‘l’, adding the letter for ‘i’ would have complicated the sign, looking as it does like a lightning bolt. (However, I could argue that the three parts of the letter ‘i’ in ancient are present in the three lines in this symbol!) The sign created also became the symbol for elemental light.

 

For ‘Gar’, I transcribed the letters as spelled in English, and combined the three of them into a single signal, and it is easy to see how well these three symbols merged! Come back next week for another interesting tidbit from my files! Below, see the final evolution of the names of the keys.


 

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

4 July 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

We pause before returning to the conclusion of Wordsworth’s “Resolution and Independence” to remember all those who put their lives, their reputations, and their goods on the line for American Independence: may we always remember their actions and hold dear the freedom they gave us! And now, Wordsworth:

 

XVI

 

The old Man still stood talking by my side;

But now his voice to me was like a stream

Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;

And the whole body of the Man did seem

Like one whom I had met with in a dream;

Or like a man from some far region sent,

To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.

 

XVII

 

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;

And hope that is unwilling to be fed;

Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;

And mighty Poets in their misery dead.

--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,

My question eagerly did I renew,

"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"

 

XVIII

 

He with a smile did then his words repeat;

And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide

He travelled; stirring thus about his feet

The waters of the pools where they abide.

"Once I could meet with them on every side;

But they have dwindled long by slow decay;

Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."

 

XIX

 

While he was talking thus, the lonely place,

The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me:

In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace

About the weary moors continually,

Wandering about alone and silently.

While I these thoughts within myself pursued,

He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.

 

XX

 

And soon with this he other matter blended,

Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,

But stately in the main; and when he ended,

I could have laughed myself to scorn to find

In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.

"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;

I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"

 

The poet now sees himself in a dream and the old man a messenger sent from above to admonish him; with this thought, the depression returns with ‘fear that kills’ and dead hope, so he asks the question, which the old man has already answered, to shake himself from his melancholy. The old man, the soul of patience, repeats his answer and adds more details–that the leeches are dying out, and that he must travel farther and farther to find them, which bothers him not at all. The poet fixes on this wandering, his lonely, unending vigil; this steadfastness, or ‘resolution’ teaches the poet that he, who has much more than the old man, can be steadfast also, the old man’s example the answer to the poet’s depression, and in typical Romantic fashion, the poet concludes with an aphorism–a wise saying–that will arm him against future depression–resolved to resist and independent from the melancholy that too often rules his life. Come back next week for another edition of the Poet’s Corner. Remember, the first book of our epic fantasy, “Chosen of the One,” will return to normal price on Monday! Get it here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178371 Good reading!

Chosen of the One: Chapter 18, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on July 1, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome back for the final installment of the first book of The Redemption series, Chosen of the One! Get the entire book for free from Smashwords this week only; next Monday, the price will return to normal. Klaybear, with divine help, has managed to repair Klare’s mind before the entire pattern unraveled; this week, the chosen begin to carry out the instructions of the One, and we conclude with a ‘tantrum’ thrown by Gar. . . .

 

Chapter 18, Part 2

 

Klaybear sighed and sank against Klare’s chair; she was slumped onto the table. He saw Thal leaning against Tevvy’s chair; the awemi was also slumped onto the table. Sweat glistened on the maghi’s face, and he felt his own face slick with sweat. He saw that the others, although their eyes were bright, looked astonished by what they had witnessed. His eyes were drawn beyond the kortexi to a shelf behind him; white light emanated from an ornately carved chest, with the same hand-shaped indentation carved into its lid.

“Blakstar,” Klaybear said weakly, “would you get the glowing chest on the shelf behind you and bring it to the table. I believe it contains the artifacts we all need to wear.”

Blakstar did not move; he seemed stunned. “That was,” he stammered, “was . . . was . . . the . . . One!”

Klaybear nodded once, trying not to think about what the kortexi said. “The chest, please.”

“That . . . was . . . ,” Blakstar continued to stammer, “the same voice . . . that . . . that . . . spoke to me . . . I saw his face in the Mountain.”

Delgart stood and went to the shelf, taking down the chest and carrying it back to the table. “There is an inscription on the lid,” he noted, looking up at the others.

Thal moved slowly to the head of the table next to Delgart and ran his finger over the inscription. “It reads,” he said after a moment, “verghrenum: for the chosen and their mates,” and he went on, anticipating the next question, “the word, verghrenum, means, basically, ‘thought-protector,’ so they are meant to protect our minds from Gar and his minions.”

“This must be another of the doors,” Delgart said and placed his right hand into the indentation, the lock clicked, then he opened the chest. “There are several pairs of bracers in here,” he noted, “in green and brown leather with the crown symbol,” he added, pulling out a pair and handing them to Marilee, who, with Klaybear, had come to stand beside Delgart. “By their size,” Delgart noted, “these must be yours, so one pair of these must be mine.” He pulled out two larger pairs that were the same size; the only difference between them that Klaybear could see, was that the crown symbol was larger on one pair than on the other pair. He also noticed that the pair with the smaller crown had the head of an aperu carved beneath the crown on each bracer. Delgart first tried the pair with the smaller crown, but they would not slide onto his wrists, so he took the pair with the larger crown symbol, which slipped easily onto his wrists, and Klaybear noticed that his older brother flushed slightly as he pulled them onto his wrists; Marilee reached out and tightened and tied the laces of both, then held out her arms, so that he could do the same for her. Delgart’s cheeks colored brightly when he saw both Klaybear and Marilee looking at the large crown symbols on his wrists, so he turned back to the chest. He removed a pair of white leather and silver bracers, and Klaybear saw that they were embossed with the Eye of Melbarth; Delgart handed them to Thal.

“These must be yours,” Delgart said, trying to hide his embarrassment by turning quickly back to the chest.

Thal slipped them over his hands; Marilee helped him tighten and tie the laces.

“There is another, even smaller, pair of bracers,” Delgart said, “smaller and darker; the light seems to fall into this pair.” He handed them to Marilee. “They must be Tevvy’s.”

Thal helped Marilee strap the bracers onto the awemi’s wrists; each was embossed in the shape of the symbol on his stool.

“There is another pair,” Delgart said, taking a pair of green bracers embossed with a symbol shaped like a hand. He handed them to his brother, who slid them onto his wrists; he held out his arms while Thal and Marilee tightened and tied the laces.

“These must be for Klare,” Delgart said, taking a pair of wide, golden-yellow bracelets from the chest, handing them to his brother. Klaybear clasped them onto each of his wife’s wrists.

“And these,” Delgart said, holding up a pair of white and gold studded leather bracers, embossed with a symbol in the shape of a water vessel, “must be Blakstar’s.” He turned to the kortexi, who still sat with his head bowed. They could see tears dripping from the corners of his eyes. Delgart slipped one of them onto Blakstar’s wrist and passed the second to Marilee, who had come back around the table; she slid it on, and both verghrenum were tied into place.

This seemed to bring the kortexi out of himself; he looked up at the others. “I am unworthy to receive such a visit.”

Thal snorted. “If that were true,” he said, “you would be dead, since no one who is unworthy can stand in the presence of the One.”

“That is true,” Klaybear said, “and we need you to do the next two parts of our instructions: you need to heal Tevvy and Klare.”

“But you are . . . ,” Blakstar started to say but stopped, realizing what he had to do. He stood, wiped his eyes, and looked at the others. “I apologize for my behavior; I am Sir Karble reborn, and should not behave this way.”

Thal started to laugh, but Klaybear dug an elbow into his ribs, and he started to cough instead.

“You have not behaved badly,” Delgart said, “there is no need to apologize.”

“But I . . . ,” the kortexi began.

Delgart stopped him. “There is no need,” he said again.

Blakstar nodded, turned, moved around the table. He took the special flask from his belt and unstoppered it as he approached Tevvy. “Hold up his head,” he said. Thal was closest, although he still coughed slightly, holding up the awemi’s head. Blakstar opened Tevvy’s mouth and poured some of the Waters of Life in, then held his mouth closed.

Tevvy swallowed, his eyes opened suddenly, and he tried to rise. “There is work I must do!” he exclaimed, struggling to get to his feet.

Blakstar put a hand on his shoulder, and speaking in a strong, calm voice, said, “Peace, my friend. The Waters of Life are potent; rest a moment before you leave to do your work.”

Tevvy smiled at the kortexi; Blakstar could not resist smiling in return. The kortexi moved to Klare.

“I think we should put her to sleep,” Blakstar said to Klaybear, “as her hurts were greater than his.”

“I had that thought,” Klaybear agreed. He had moved his chair closer to hers and now cradled her head in his arms.

Blakstar carefully opened Klare’s mouth, pouring in some of the Waters; he closed her mouth while Klaybear stroked her neck. She swallowed, her eyes began to flutter, and the kortexi put his free hand on her shoulder, whispering the ritual words: “Peace, the Waters of Life are potent.”

Klaybear touched her forehead and spoke the word, “supno,” sending her into a dreamless slumber. “We should make a place to lay her down,” he said, looking around.

Delgart looked around the chamber; they had been so busy with other things that no one had taken the opportunity to examine this place. “There are doors on either end of the room,” he said, standing and moving to the door nearest. Klaybear heard a door open. “There are beds in here,” Delgart said.

Klaybear stood with Blakstar’s help, picking up his wife and carrying her into the side room. Delgart helped him place her on the bed and remove the chain mail and belt she wore. Klaybear carefully covered her with a blanket and slipped quietly from the room. He left the door ajar, then returned to where the others waited.

“Now,” Klaybear said, “Blakstar needs to send Delgart and Marilee to Holvar with Rokwolf’s verghrenum.”

Blakstar nodded.

“Do you know where to send them?” Klaybear asked.

Blakstar nodded again. “I think so,” he said, “at least, there is an image in my mind, that was not there before, of where I need to send them.” He took out his sword and prepared to open a door.

Delgart went to the table and picked up the verghrenum with the crown symbol, closing the lid of the chest; he turned and swiftly embraced his brother. “Be well, my brother.”

“And you,” Klaybear replied.

“And say goodbye to my sister, for me,” he added, a grin twisting his damaged face.

Klaybear smiled. “I will.”

The kortexi drew a circle on the floor, the pommel stone glowing brightly, and the line burned with golden fire, then he lifted the sword point, drawing a gray, shimmering arch in the air, touching the sword’s point to the circle’s other side. The gray, shimmering arch winked on, opening into a small room with a bed and desk, at which a wethi, who looked more like Delgart than Klaybear, sat writing. He looked up in time to see Marilee, followed by Delgart, step through the arch.

“You are well!” he exclaimed as he stood, moving forward to embrace Marilee.

Just before the kortexi lifted his sword, they saw Rokwolf look at Delgart, saw the recognition blooming on his face, and Klaybear said, “Hail Rokwolf! Brother! Chosen of the One!”

Rokwolf looked into the arch and saw Klaybear. “How?” he asked, but at the moment he spoke his question, the kortexi lifted his sword, the arch winked out, and Blakstar slumped onto the floor.

“Open the other bedroom door, Tevvy,” Klaybear said, as he and Thal went forward to lift Blakstar to his feet. They supported him on either side as he stumbled toward the door and a bed to rest on. He slid onto the bed; Klaybear and Thal helped him remove his belt, boots, and mail shirt, slipping his sword back into its scabbard.

“Now do you trust me?” Tevvy asked from the door.

Blakstar shrugged and went limp, his breathing becoming slow and even.

“Well,” Tevvy said, half-grinning, “I guess that will do for now.” He closed the door after the others left the room. “I guess it’s time for me to go to work,” he said. “But I need a coil of rope.”

Klaybear nodded. “And for us to open the door, as we were instructed,” he said. He looked over to the shelf where the chest had been. “Check the shelf,” he pointed.

Tevvy moved around the table to the shelf, bent down, and pulled a coil of rope off the bottom shelf. He held it up for the others to see, smiling. “They did think of everything.”

Klaybear smiled. They moved toward the doorway out of the chamber.

“You need to be extra-careful,” Thal said, “for we have learned that we are all part of some larger plan. I’m certain that Gar has shared your description with his minions here in Shigmar, so do not think that you will not be recognized.”

Tevvy nodded. “I’m always careful,” he said and looked up. “Didn’t I manage to get you out of the school dungeon? This is easy by comparison.” He smiled mischievously. “Who is Elker?” he asked, suddenly thoughtful.

Klaybear shook his head. “I do not know.”

“You do,” Thal said, as they stopped in front of the door, “that was Gar’s name originally, before he was cast into the underworld, where he shortened it to ‘Gar.’”

“I never before made that connection,” Klaybear noted.

“Which brings up another thing,” Thal began, “what will happen when we open this door?”

“Wait a minute,” Tevvy said, “if time out there has slowed, how come we saw your brother moving? How were Delgart and Marilee able to move into his room?”

Klaybear gasped. “You are right!” he exclaimed. “When we went, mentally, to where Gar was, we found him frozen in time, as he should have been, but when we sent Delgart and Marilee to Rokwolf’s room in Holvar, they were able to enter physically into a space outside of this chamber. Shouldn’t they also have been frozen in time, trapped in the act of entering Rokwolf’s room?”

Thal thought for a moment before he replied. “I would guess that it was the sword that did it, since this power of the sword to open a doorway directly and instantly to a place far away disrupts all known laws of time and space. The sword, in the act of opening the door, brought Rokwolf’s time stream into sync with ours, allowing them to enter his room. I’d bet that now that the door is closed, they are caught in that moment, unable to move until we open this door. That also means . . . ,” he started but stopped for a moment, lost in his own thoughts.

“What does it mean?” Klaybear asked.

“What?” Thal said, startled. “Sorry, my mind wandered off. We are about to open the door and let Tevvy go do his job.”

“And you were wondering what would happen,” Tevvy noted, “when we open this door, and then we got sidetracked into a highly theoretical discussion about time and the sword that makes no sense to me.”

“Never mind,” Thal said, “but it was you who asked the question that sidetracked our conversation.”

“Let’s just open the door and get on with it!” Tevvy exclaimed.

“All right,” Thal said, “brace yourselves.” Thal placed his right hand into the indentation to open the door. Again, Klaybear perceived a subliminal flash of violet light, then the door slid open. The cavern outside the door shook and bucked, but the chamber where they stood did not move.

“Interesting,” Thal said simply, as they watched the cavern floor heave and shake, shards of stone falling to the floor. The motion calmed, then stopped, while the dust settled more slowly. Thal raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t try to explain,” Tevvy said before Thal could speak, “I wouldn’t understand the explanation anyway.” He looked at them for a moment before speaking. “I’ll be back in an hour.” He turned and walked slowly up the ramp and disappeared from view.

Thal and Klaybear turned and moved back to the main chamber. “What an amazing room,” Thal whispered.

“Its creation?” Klaybear asked, “or its contents?”

“Both,” Thal replied, moving toward a pedestal near the door. “Take a look at this,” he said after a moment. “It is the original.”

“Original what?” Klaybear asked, now joining him and looking down.

“The original prophecy,” he whispered, “and it was corrected by Shigmar,” he said, pointing, “‘Darkness and evil surround them, light guides them, rumor precedes them, destruction and disturbance follow them; choose to aid them to suffer, choose to oppose them to die,’ and notice here, at the beginning, the word is dhund, meaning ‘they will end’ the kingdom of Gar.”

“We should copy this,” Klaybear said.

“Not copy,” Thal said, “make a rubbing. If we copy it, others could make the claim that Ghelvon did: that we altered it to hide our true intentions, since they fear us.” He took a bit of charcoal from one of his pouches, and pulled a blank piece of parchment out of his robe. “Help me hold this in place over the stone.”

###

Gar howled; flames exploded from his body as he reached out to grab the two who fled. The room around him caught fire and started to burn; he took no notice, as he had to knit the pattern of his own mind back together before it unraveled. He knew instantly who had done it; he also knew precisely where they were. He started to open a doorway into the space, but he could not. For some reason, he could not access the space, and instantly, he knew why. Rage filled him again, exploded as flames from his body, blowing out the side of the room and inn. He howled, and the ground shook, making the patrons of the inn who were trying to flee, and all those in Shigmar, to reel about drunkenly. He recognized the “curse” that sent him into the underworld thwarting his desire for vengeance, hedging him up from all sides. He howled a third time, and the inn, although made of stone, burned around him, turning in seconds to ash, burning anyone still in the inn or nearby out of existence. As the ash collapsed, he fled in the only direction he could go, the “curse” forcing him, chasing him, tormenting him into madness, back into his prison deep underground, back to Kolu. The few of his servants who entered his hall, especially those who did not notice his blazing anger, burned to ash in the face of his fury; the hall melted and rained fire from above, gobs of liquid, superheated stone crashing into the floor, filling the floor with holes, a floor that bucked and heaved under his feet.

After a time, his anger cooled, his sense returned, and he reached out to re-establish the compulsion set on two of the chosen, but he could not reach them; he could see them, but something prevented him from touching either of them. One was sleeping, watched over by her mate; the other moved through the sewers of Shigmar, nearing some of his servants. He tried to reach the other chosen, but they were each as inaccessible as the two he had previously controlled. His anger flamed again, recognizing why he could not touch any of them. His servants, from the least to those nearest to him fled to the farthest reaches of Kolu, knowing that the tantrums would continue for days.

When his anger cooled again, and his sense returned again, he reached out again, but not to any of the chosen, rather to one of his servants, stationed in Shigmar, working to bring another of his plans into motion. He could still thwart them; he could still act. He sent a warning to his servant that the enemy was watching, ordering him to act sooner than they had planned. He could still salvage his plans from the wreck the chosen had made of them; still destroy one of them and break out of his prison when all of creation crumbled again into chaos.

 

THE END of Chosen of the One. The story continues in The Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption. We hope you have enjoyed this first book in The Redemption series! Get it in ebook form from Smashwords before next Monday (for free until then!); if you prefer print, purchase your copy from CreateSpace. Good reading!

 

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on June 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

27 June 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

We return with the third section of Wordsworth’s “Resolution and Independence”, beginning with the poet’s description of the leech gatherer:

 

XI

 

Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,

Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood:

And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,

Upon the margin of that moorish flood

Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood,

That heareth not the loud winds when they call

And moveth all together, if it move at all.

 

XII

 

At length, himself unsettling, he the pond

Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look

Upon the muddy water, which he conned,

As if he had been reading in a book:

And now a stranger's privilege I took;

And, drawing to his side, to him did say,

"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."

 

XIII

 

A gentle answer did the old Man make,

In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:

And him with further words I thus bespake,

"What occupation do you there pursue?

This is a lonesome place for one like you."

Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise

Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes,

 

XIV

 

His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,

But each in solemn order followed each,

With something of a lofty utterance drest--

Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach

Of ordinary men; a stately speech;

Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,

Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.

 

XV

 

He told, that to these waters he had come

To gather leeches, being old and poor:

Employment hazardous and wearisome!

And he had many hardships to endure:

From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;

Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance,

And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.

 

We see the leech gatherer, leaning on his staff, something that has been carved, or worked by human hands, rather than a natural stick cut to length, and standing next to a pool close to the trail. The poet approaches and notices this old man stirring the waters, intent on what is beneath the surface, so the poet greets him, commenting on the day. Curiosity overcomes the poet, so he asks about the old man’s occupation, since it seems an odd place to find and old man, and the old man replies in speech best suited, according to the poet, to a holy man. The old man tells us that he is gathering leeches, a tough occupation leading to a life of wandering, dependent on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging. Leeches were used by doctors during this time, to draw off excess blood, since the belief was that a person’s maladies were from having ‘too much blood’, so the leeches sucked away the extra; this is the source of the term “leech craft” used for all those who practiced medicine during this time. Come back next week for the conclusion of this fascinating poem by Wordsworth! Good reading!


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