|Posted by gwermon on April 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
We return in this week’s installment of the first book of our epic fantasy, Chosen of the One, to those chosen who gather at Klaybear’s home in Shigmar, waiting for the trial to begin. . . .
Chapter 13, Part 2
Delgart followed Sutugno, another kailu apprentice and Klare’s best friend, tall, beautiful, and blonde-haired, who led the other chosen out of a side door of the Infirmary after making sure that no one was outside. Delgart and Marilee had both wrapped a bandage around their heads and damaged faces–the left side of Delgart’s face and right side of Marilee’s–and both wore hoods that concealed their faces. Blakstar walked beside her while Delgart and Marilee followed, leading Thal between them. Sutugno led them first through the dark and empty central market of Shigmar, then into the west quarter, before finally leading them into the southwest quarter where Klaybear and Klare lived. Both Master Avril and Headmaster Myron had suggested this route to foil any pursuit and get the other chosen out of the school until the trial of Klaybear began a few days hence. They would stay at Klare and Klaybear’s home, hoping that Klare would turn up there, although nothing had been heard from Klare since she had left the school that morning. Both masters were quite troubled by this fact and had given several names to Delgart to pass on to the awemi to make inquiries if the scout was recovered sufficiently. Sutugno tapped on the door before opening it and entering; they found Tevvy in the living room with an assortment of his equipment spread out on the floor. Tevvy appeared to be examining each piece and looked up when the door opened; his face became guarded when he saw strangers enter the room, but smiled when he recognized Marilee.
“I recognize you,” Tevvy said, “you are Rokwolf’s second, Marilee; my . . . uh, friend,” he went on after a slight pause, “Elanor worked with you last year.”
“Tevvy,” Marilee replied, recognizing him and removing hood and cloak, revealing the bandage she now wore covering the right side of her head and face. “I did not realize you were the awemi that our host had rescued.” She introduced the others to Tevvy before Sutugno asked about Klare.
“Has Klare been here?” Sutugno asked Tevvy.
“About mid-morning,” Tevvy replied, “why?”
“Did she say where she was going when she left?” Sutugno asked, looking concerned.
Tevvy shook his head. “Back to the school,” he replied.
Delgart took off his hood, revealing a similar bandage covering the left side of his face and head; he exchanged looks with the others, except for Thal, who was still standing in the doorway.
“I take it from your looks that she did not return?” Tevvy noted when no one answered his first question.
“It’s a big school,” Delgart said, his brow wrinkled. “Is it possible that she is inside the school somewhere?” he asked Klare’s friend.
Sutugno shrugged. “It’s possible,” she replied, “but surely someone would have seen her enter.”
Delgart turned to Tevvy. “Did she give any hint about what she was going to do?” he asked.
“She’s missing?” Tevvy asked, and when Delgart nodded, Tevvy frowned. “I told her I had a bad feeling about the sudden knock at the door!”
“Someone came to the door?” Sutugno asked, her face brightening.
“After she brought me breakfast,” Tevvy replied, and went on to retell what had happened earlier with Klare. “But she never said who came to the door, only that it was a fellow student with a message, but I could tell from the voice that it was a wethi. As she left, I had an overwhelming urge to follow her and would have if I had felt better,” he added, almost apologetically.
Delgart looked at him a moment before speaking. “How do you feel now?” he asked. “Do you feel up to a little scouting?”
“I feel quite whole and well,” Tevvy replied, “thanks to your sister-in-law; what did you have in mind?”
“Sutugno is going back to the school,” Delgart replied, “and she can show you the route Klare might have followed, along with several people the Headmaster and Klare’s master suggested you could contact, people who might have seen her pass.”
“I have been idle all day,” Tevvy noted, gathering the last of his equipment and stashing it in the many pockets of his black leather suit and his small pack.
Sutugno looked around the living room. “I’m certain the Headmaster will keep you all informed,” she noted before turning toward the door.
“How long will you be?” Delgart asked Tevvy.
“At least an hour,” Tevvy replied, “maybe longer, depending on how far I have to go for information.”
“Be careful,” Delgart noted.
Tevvy smiled, which highlighted the innocent look of his face. “Careful is my business,” he noted as he followed Sutugno out of the door.
Exactly one hour later, Tevvy walked in, pulling off his hood and cloak; he shook his head to answer the questioning look Delgart shot at him the moment he entered. “Is there anything to drink in this house?” he asked, tossing his cloak onto a chair by the door and closing the door.
“I think I saw a jug of cider in the kitchen,” Delgart replied.
Tevvy grimaced. “No, I meant something stronger, like ale,” he said.
Marilee grinned at the awemi. “Elanor mentioned your fondness for ale,” she said, “might I remind you that we are in Shigmar, in the home of a pair of kailum, so I do not think you will find anything damaging to your health anywhere in this home or city.”
“I was afraid you might say that,” Tevvy grumbled, “so I’ll have to settle for the cider,” he added, making a face.
Marilee and Delgart exchanged a look. “It is your brother’s home,” Marilee noted.
Delgart shrugged, stood, and went into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with mugs of cider.
Blakstar sat at the table next to Thal, trying to get the maghi to eat a few more bites. “I cannot understand why anyone would drink something that has gone bad,” Blakstar noted, “which will only addle one’s wits.”
Tevvy shrugged. “I wouldn’t expect a rule-loving kortexi to understand,” he replied.
“That is because we kortexem recognize the value of good health,” Blakstar noted, his neck slightly red, “and clear senses when going into battle.”
“I don’t have to justify myself to you or anyone else,” Tevvy replied, “and I’m not rising to your bait,” he added as Delgart handed him a mug of cider. Tevvy took the mug. “Do you want to know what I’ve learned or not?” he asked, irritated by the kortexi’s words.
Marilee invited Tevvy to sit down beside her on the couch. “Ignore him,” she said as Delgart sat in a chair to her left and passed her a mug. “Delgart and I are interested in what you discovered,” she added and then went on in a whisper, “as I’m sure Sir Blakstar is,” she said, smiling at Tevvy.
Tevvy took a drink from the mug before he spoke. “Klare’s friend took me to several people that would have been out in the street along the way between here and the school this morning,” he began, “and most of them had not seen her, but there was one who was sure that she had seen Klare go by, on her way back to the school; it was around the time she left here this morning, but the wetha thought she was alone, which seemed odd to me. She was certain, however, that she did not return to the school, but turned aside and entered the west guard tower,” he finished, taking another drink of cider.
“Did you manage to get inside the guard tower?” Delgart asked.
“We tried,” Tevvy replied, “but they would not allow us to enter, although Sutugno told the guard that she was on business of the Headmaster and Master Healer. The guard on duty said that only the Headmaster would be allowed to enter as there was disease inside, so she went back to the school to report to him, and I came back here to report to all of you.”
“Did Klare’s friend have any idea why she might have gone there?” Marilee asked.
Tevvy shook his head. “None at all,” he replied, “Sutugno was quite puzzled by it.” He paused for a moment. “If only there were some way to distract them,” Tevvy mused, “perhaps if you created a disturbance across the street, I could slip inside and investigate.”
“That would be unwise,” Delgart noted, “since we have seen what they have done to my younger brother, with little or no evidence; we would likely end up in cells next to him.”
“You don’t suppose that is what this other master is thinking?” Marilee suggested.
Blakstar turned to her. “Do you mean the one who arrested Klaybear?” he asked.
“I see what you mean,” Delgart put in, “and that is who she means, Blakstar; he took Klare on some invented pretext in order to get us to try and find her, giving him an excuse to have us all arrested.”
“But we haven’t done anything wrong!” the kortexi protested, “not like this thief,” he added, the word sounding like a curse, “whose activities put him under suspicion of breaking the law.”
Tevvy snorted, ignoring the insult. “Since when has that ever stopped anyone from arresting and killing people?” he laughed.
“Neither has my brother,” Delgart noted.
“You need to fill me in on what happened to Master Klaybear,” Tevvy said. “Klare only told me that the masters could not heal him.”
Delgart nodded and looked over his shoulder to Blakstar. “Correct me if I make a mistake in the tale,” he said, and then told Tevvy what had happened to Klaybear earlier in the day.
Tevvy frowned and shook his head as Delgart finished; Tevvy turned to Thal. “What’s wrong with the white maghi?” he asked. “You seem to have left him out of the story.”
Blakstar nodded and told Tevvy what had happened when the Headmaster had tried to send a message to Thal’s parents, and how they discovered that his parents had been killed shortly after he and Blakstar had been sent to Shigmar. “So he has reason for silence,” the kortexi concluded, “which is too bad, since he might be able to make something out of the few clues that we have.”
“Why do you say that?” Tevvy asked.
“He deduced a lot about what we have to do,” the kortexi explained, “simply from the name inscribed on the hilt of my sword,” and he went on to relate to the others what Thal had told him as they traveled to Shigmar through rumepant, and how they had been sent to Shigmar to meet the other chosen and seek a second key, which they believed was the staff of Shigmar, the first kailu. “Headmaster Myron told us that Shigmar was working on some secret project before he died, after he retired from leading the school, and the Headmaster believed this project must have been the key we are looking for.”
“Did he know where this other staff might be?” Delgart asked.
Blakstar shook his head. “No,” he replied, “he only knew that Shigmar was working on his estate, which was in Kalbant, and they said it is where Klare is from.”
“And she is missing,” Tevvy put in, “so we cannot ask her if she knows anything about the first kailu and his original home.” Tevvy paused for a moment. “I think we would be wise to keep an eye on the guard tower,” he noted.
“I agree,” Marilee noted, “not that I think we will see Klare, but at least to see who comes and goes.”
“I doubt that we will find out anything useful,” Delgart put in, “but I don’t disagree with you that we should keep an eye on it.”
For three days while they waited for the trial to begin, Delgart sent them, in pairs, to watch the west guard tower. On the morning of the fourth day, Sutugno came and led them back to the school.
“Where are Tevvy and Marilee?” she asked as they gathered to leave.
“They are watching the guard tower,” Delgart told her, “we can pick them up on the way.”
“Have you seen anything?” Sutugno asked Delgart as he and Blakstar led Thal out of the house.
Delgart shook his head. “Nothing,” he admitted, closing the door.
When they reached the school, Master Avril met them and led them to the lowest level of the Assembly Hall. Before entering, Avril took Tevvy aside, whispered something to the awemi and pressed something into his small hand; Tevvy nodded and moved off in the opposite direction, disappearing almost at once into the shadows. Delgart watched him go, then looked to the master healer for an explanation; Master Avril shook his head once, then led him and other chosen into the Assembly Hall and took the seats that had been set aside for them on the lowest level, while Master Avril took his place at the council table, his eyes going to the chained apprentice led in through a different door. Delgart recognized at once that this chained kailu was his brother. He saw his mother’s face in Klaybear’s, and an overwhelming desire to rush out and rescue him welled up inside; he knew all too well how it felt to be chained. The sudden desire caused him to stand before he could stop himself, so strong was the anger he felt. Marilee grabbed his right arm and pulled him back down, glaring at him. He knew she was right–there was nothing he could do at the moment to free his younger brother; this trial would have to play itself out, but he feared the outcome for his brother and himself. . . .
Return next week for another installment of our epic fantasy in which the trial of Klaybear for treason to his order begins. In the meantime, you can download the entire novel from Smashwords for free; if you prefer print, you can purchase a copy from CreateSpace. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on April 18, 2014 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
18 April 2014
Friday Poet’s Corner
Another poet from the early 17th century that I have always liked is George Herbert, who gave us the ‘shape’ poem, in other words, a poem whose visual presentation reinforces the poem’s meaning:
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more
Till he became
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sickness and shame
Thou didst so punish sin,
That I became
Let me combine,
And feel this day thy victory;
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
The ‘shape’ of this poem, formed to represent the wings of angels, reinforces the message of flight in many different forms, although for Herbert, it is a religious flight from sin and error. I used this idea in one of my very early poems, creating the shape of a double-headed spearpoint, or arrow point, to convey in the shape the idea, similar to Herbert, of being assailed by sin and error. The poem is “Darts” and included in the Stones in the Stream collection. Until next time . . . good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on April 14, 2014 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
In this week’s installment of the first book in our epic fantasy, Chosen of the One, we begin Chapter 13, learning into what trouble Klare has gotten herself. . . .
Chapter 13, Part 1
There is nothing worse than waiting blind for a battle to begin. . . .
Attributed to Fereghen Wulfrik, ruled 983-1027
Klare frowned as she left the school, unsatisfied by the response of the kailu on duty, who had assured her that there was nothing in the record of anyone entering or leaving the room where her brother-in-law rested last night, or where she had just left her husband and Headmaster Myron; the kailu did say that he would make a thorough check of the records and report to Master Avril anything unusual. Klare pulled her hood over her face, not caring for the way the gate guard leered at her as she passed through the wall surrounding the kailu school; most of the people moving through this quarter of Shigmar were heading toward the school and were the older students who lived in the same quarter of the city as she did, but she kept her face hidden as she passed into the southwest quarter, troubled by the events of the previous day and the morning and not wanting to be detained by anyone. Without really looking where she was going, she allowed her feet to carry her to her home, passing quickly inside without a backward glance and closing the door softly behind her. Inside, Klare went at once to the guest room, and seeing that the awemi still slept peacefully, she moved into the kitchen to prepare him something to eat. A few minutes later, she opened the door carrying a tray.
“Good morning,” Klare said pleasantly.
Tevvy opened his eyes and stretched, looking around at his surroundings. “It is good to be whole,” he noted, smiling at her.
“How do you feel?” Klare asked as she set the tray down on the bedside table.
“Quite good,” Tevvy replied, “you must be the mistress?”
Klare smiled sweetly. “I am Klaybear’s wife, Klarissa, but you can call me Klare,” she replied, her hands glowing green as she moved them over Tevvy from head to toe, examining him. When she came back to his head, she focused for a moment and found something that resisted her, as she had found in Delgart and Marilee, a patch of darkness that refused to be moved; however, given her experience with the others, she did not attempt to draw it out.
“You are also a kailu of Shigmar, I see,” Tevvy noted while Klare worked.
Klare did not reply until she had finished, but then she nodded. “Yes, and you appear to be quite healthy and fully healed.”
“Thank you, mistress,” Tevvy replied. “Where is your husband so I can thank him for rescuing me, although he did frighten me at first,” he went on, conversationally. “Have your masters managed to heal those strange marks?”
Klare paused to look at the awemi for a moment before she helped him to sit up and then placed the tray in front of him. “You haven’t told me your name,” she said.
Tevvy looked suddenly surprised. “My mother would be appalled!” he exclaimed. “I am Telvor ven Galagrude, but I’m usually called Tevvy,” he went on. “My father has a school for, uh, scouts in Rykelle; he and my mother used to help Headmaster Myron and Master Avril when they were all younger. Now that I have graduated from the school, father sent me to Headmaster Myron to aid his apprentices in their work, but I have been unable to get into the school and see the Headmaster: the guards will not let me pass, although I have a letter from my father.”
Klare smiled at him, sitting on the end of the bed. “Eat something,” she exhorted him. “Funny how these things always work out,” she noted softly, almost to herself.
“This smells wonderful,” Tevvy noted, taking up a fork and beginning to eat. He paused when Klare spoke softly to herself. “What do you mean?” he asked, then took a bite of the eggs.
“You have been unable to see the Headmaster,” Klare replied, “and who should rescue you, but the Headmaster’s senior apprentice.”
Tevvy paused again. “Master Klaybear is the Headmaster’s apprentice?” he asked, looking slightly surprised.
Klare nodded. “One of them,” she admitted, “and the most senior of his apprentices. To answer your other questions, no, they have not been able to heal my husband, and I am troubled by the fact, and what we found,” she frowned, looking troubled.
“Anything I can do to help?” Tevvy asked. “It is the least I can do for what you both have done for me, and for helping me to see the Headmaster,” he added, grinning impishly, which made him appear to Klare like a naughty child; this look caused Klare to laugh.
“I don’t know how you can help, Tevvy,” Klare replied, “because I don’t really know what a scout is, beyond the scout of a seklesi patrol, but I sense that you mean something different.”
“Well,” Tevvy began, “we are similar to the scouts in a seklesi patrol. In fact, we spend several months actually working in the field with a seklesi patrol; I was fortunate to have served with your brother-in-law, Rokwolf, and I’m sorry to hear that he is injured; what happened?”
“No, not Rokwolf,” Klare replied. “He and my husband have an older brother, named Delgart, who was taken in a pirate raid on their village many years ago. He was found yesterday, injured, and was brought here for healing.”
Tevvy nodded. “Anyway, a scout of my kind can do more than the regular scout, since I can also sneak into places that are secure, open locks without the key, find and disable traps. . . .” He would have gone on, but was interrupted by a loud knocking on the front door. Both of them looked toward the sound. “Expecting someone?” Tevvy asked, eyebrows rising.
Klare frowned and got up. “No, no one knows I’m here,” she said as she started to leave, “at least I didn’t think anyone knew.”
“Be careful, Mistress Klare,” Tevvy said, looking worried, “I have a bad feeling about this, and my feelings have never been wrong.”
Klare nodded, gave him a reassuring smile, then left the room. When she opened the front door, she was surprised to see Ghelvon’s apprentice standing there, wiping his face with a green silk handkerchief.
“Malkonik, why are you here?” she asked, trying to cover her surprise.
He smirked and put away his sodden handkerchief. “I have a message from your master,” he said, looking past her into the house.
“You? Why would he send you?” she asked incredulously.
“I was available,” he replied, then fell silent, still smirking.
Klare eyed him, her suspicions aroused. “I don’t believe you,” she said after a moment.
He shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he noted, beginning to turn away. “I’ll go back and tell him.”
“What’s the message?” she snapped, suddenly angry at him and his manner.
He stopped and looked back at her. “He wants you to come at once,” he said, the smirk becoming a grin. “My master just discovered a case of that disease you study.”
She looked at him again for a long moment before answering. “I’ll be there shortly,” she said, “once I finish here.”
“He said I am to bring you now,” he noted, his grin widening to show his teeth.
“Fine,” she said, “wait here.” She closed the door, leaving Malkonik waiting on the porch, and went back to their guest room.
“A messenger from the school,” she said on entering, “I have to go back, but I will return and check on you as soon as I can, at least in time to fix you some lunch, but if not, feel free to eat whatever you can find.”
“Don’t worry,” Tevvy replied, “I was well-instructed by my mother to take care of myself.”
“Rest now,” Klare smiled and turned to leave, “and I’ll return as soon as I can.”
Tevvy touched her arm, his small face wrinkled as he looked up at her. “Are you sure about this?” he asked. “Is the messenger someone you can trust?”
The question, and the concern on Tevvy’s face, caused Klare to pause before she replied. “I’m pretty sure I can trust one of my fellow students,” she noted, gently patting Tevvy’s hand, “and we are inside Shigmar; besides, I, too, can take care of myself,” she added as she left the room.
Klare closed the door to her home and turned to follow Malkonik back to the school.
“You said my master sent you,” Klare noted. “but never explained how he came to select you as a messenger, since you are Master Ghelvon’s apprentice.”
“The case is one of the guards,” Malkonik replied, “and so my master sent me to inform Master Avril, who agreed with my master that I should be sent to you; he said you had been studying this particular disease, and that I should come and get you at once, since my master told him that the disease was in its first stages,” he finished, taking out and mopping his brow with his green silk handkerchief.
Klare watched Malkonik while he spoke, taking note of the way his eyes kept glancing at her and then looking away. Klare stopped suddenly. “Is this another one of your games?” she asked when he stopped and turned.
Malkonik looked at her blankly, the grin sliding off his face. “I don’t know what you mean,” he replied, again taking out the green silk handkerchief and wiping the sweat from his brow.
Klare looked at him a moment, noticing his action and look. “Have you forgotten that I am happily married?”
Malkonik’s eyes widened, and then he laughed. “Do you think I’m stupid?” he asked. “Of course I haven’t forgotten, but you are still arrogant enough to think that I, like the others, still desire you: I came as a messenger, nothing more. If you want to study this case, then come with me; otherwise, I will return and inform your master that you were unwilling to go with me and why!” He turned and walked on.
Klare watched Ghelvon’s apprentice walk away before following, pondering what he had told her; she moved after him, following him into the southern quarter of Shigmar, but stopped when Malkonik turned north instead of entering the school grounds.
“Where are you going?” Klare called to him. “The school is that way,” she added, pointing toward the wall and gate.
Malkonik stopped and looked back at Klare. “I know where the school is,” he replied sarcastically, “but the guard is this way,” he pointed north toward the guards’ west tower.
“Why hasn’t he been taken to the Infirmary, as is the standard procedure?” Klare asked, her hands on her hips.
“The disease was discovered within the hour,” Malkonik replied, “there has not been time to move him.”
Klare frowned. “I’ll look at him once he has been taken to the school,” she noted, taking a step toward the gate.
“And miss the chance to observe the disease in its first moments?” Malkonik noted. “Your master will be disappointed,” he went on, “I’ll tell him when I see him and your patient.” He turned and walked toward the entrance to the west guard tower, not looking back.
Klare hesitated again, watching Malkonik walk away; there was something odd about the whole thing, and she heard again Tevvy tell her to be careful, but then she reminded herself that she was capable of dealing with Malkonik; she hurried after him, catching up to him just as he opened the door and was entering the guard tower. Malkonik waved to the guard on duty, then led Klare through a door and down the stairway to the third sub-level and down a dimly lit hallway.
“This is an odd place for a sick soldier,” Klare noted as they turned a corner and Malkonik rapped on a rusty metal door with his staff. The door opened, and Malkonik grabbed and shoved Klare into the dark chamber ahead of him. All Klare could see in the darkness was two red points of light, close together like eyes, gleaming in front of her. “This is ridiculous!” Klare snapped, speaking the word and causing a magluku to flare above her head. The white light revealed the grinning face of Master Ghelvon where the two points of red light had been, and in the instant she recognized the master’s face, she heard his whispered word, which sent her immediately into blackness.
“You took long enough,” Ghelvon growled after Klare slumped to the floor.
Malkonik wiped the sweat from his face with his green silk handkerchief. “She was suspicious and required convincing,” Malkonik replied.
“Did anyone see you?” Ghelvon asked.
“Only the guard in our employ,” Malkonik answered.
“You have done well, my servant,” Ghelvon noted, “and now you will have the beginning of your reward. Lock the door, and I will teach you the red kailu way of bending the will of another to your own, then inflaming her desire for you, so that she will do anything you ask, and it will please the Great Lord if she does not remember . . . for the present.”
“Oh, my lord,” Malkonik replied, his face transformed and eager, “you are too kind,” he finished in a whisper.
“Come, we will move her to a place where no one else can find her,” Ghelvon noted, “and then we must see to her husband.” . . .
|Posted by gwermon on April 12, 2014 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
11 April 2014
Friday Poet’s Corner
Another 17th century poet that I have always liked is Robert Herrick, a master of the short form: some of his poems are only two lines long, yet these two lines convey a multitude of meaning. Although the “Julia” poems were not really a series, they all speak of the same woman, whom he named Julia, a fiction of his imagination that was oftentimes quite vivid. Here’s an example of one of these poems:
Upon Julia’s Clothes
Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then, methinks how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave [glorious, splendid] vibration each way free,
Oh, how that glittering taketh me!
Short, to the point, almost trivial, and yet . . . there is something deeper here, hinted at and revealed by the properties of silk: wrap the curves of a woman in silk and observe how the fabric moves as she moves, looking like flowing water; further, moving water bathed in sunlight glitters, catching the eye of any who pass. Silk acts the same, especially in white or silver, and the poet remarks on this attribute while admitting that he cannot help but watch the woman thus clad! And for those readers who get what Herrick is hinting at (he was, after all, a clergyman), one recognizes what has happened when silk slides free: it falls like water . . . in a ‘splendid, glorious vibration’ that we cannot but appreciate! Until next week. . . .
|Posted by gwermon on April 8, 2014 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
We return this week for the rest of Chapter 12 after a week off (not by our choice!), of our epic fantasy, Chosen of the One: Book 1 of The Redemption. Last time, the gathered chosen were discussing what to do about Thal, who had fallen into a black mood, having learned that his parents, Kalamar and Nelle, were dead. . . .
Chapter 12, Part 2
They lapsed into silence, Blakstar withdrawing into his own thoughts. After a time, something roused Blakstar from his brooding–the sound of soft weeping. He looked up, first looking at Delgart, then both turned to look at Marilee, who held her face in both hands.
“What is wrong?” Delgart asked.
Marilee looked up, her eyes red and wet, but her face wide with surprise. “What’s wrong? I’m hideous! That’s what’s wrong! I know I wasn’t the prettiest girl before, but I wasn’t unattractive. Now . . . ,” she started to say but instead, hid her face in her hands and sobbed.
Blakstar was at a loss for words, unable to speak; Delgart spoke. “I do not think you are hideous,” he said truthfully, “one side of your face is damaged, but the other is as pretty as any I have seen. You are still beautiful.”
Marilee sniffed and looked up at Delgart. “I thank you for the compliment, but I think you must be half-blind.”
The kortexi tried to recall again what had happened to him, and the words of the blonde girl–his future wife–echoed through his mind. “Let me see him!” He realized that what had been done to each of them went beyond the mark of evil they all now wore. “Each of us has not only been marked, but damaged in some way,” he said quietly. “Klaybear is hurled into his vision if he thinks of it too closely, becoming completely unaware of what is going on around him–in battle, that could be tragic. Me . . . ,” he faltered, then shook his head. “I have been marked . . . somehow, on the chest and loins,” he went on, pointing to himself with one hand, “for what reason we have been marked . . . I don’t know,” Blakstar finished and fell silent.
“What do you remember?” Delgart asked. “Anything, any detail, might help us figure out what happened, and how you were marked.”
Blakstar thought a moment. “I remember leaving the main road south to follow the trail leading to the Mountain,” he answered, his eyes closed in concentration. “I rode along the trail throughout the morning, stopping once and beginning to feel as if there was someone watching me. I stopped for lunch . . . , and then everything is blank until I woke up in a burned-out clearing on the north side of the Mountain, although I dreamed, at least I think it was a dream, but is it a real dream when one is awake?” he asked, then shook his head. “In this dream there was a figure in white who told me not to be afraid, and then a pretty girl with golden hair and blue eyes appeared in the dream, and the figure told me she would someday be my wife, but when I tried to approach her, she was afraid of me, afraid I would kill her. Then we both felt lines of fire burning on our chests, and she accused me of selling out to Gar and taking her along, but then another symbol, a rune, was burned into us both–low on the front of my belly, and in the same place on her, and again on her . . . ,” he hesitated and felt his neck and ears begin to burn, “lower back. The figure then showed us a clearing next to the Mountain of Vision, told us we should meet there in our dreams, then we were both drawn away; I woke up in the same clearing, burned and blackened, surrounded by twisted trees. I felt . . . pain and soreness–there was a lump on my head,” he noted, touching the back of his head, “and my clothes had been torn open. . . .”
“Torn open?” Delgart interrupted. “Sliced or ripped?”
Blakstar opened his eyes and looked at Delgart. “I don’t really know,” he admitted, “I never considered it important, but the edges were smooth, so I’d guess cut.” He saw a slight tightening around Delgart’s eyes, but he said nothing, so Blakstar closed his eyes and concentrated again on what he remembered. “There was a . . . face,” he hesitated, “a huge, kindly face with deep blue eyes, looking at me out of the side of the Mountain; he spoke to me, told me he waited for me and to climb the Mountain. I asked about my lost memories, told him I felt filthy, and he told me not to be concerned, that I would be cleansed of his son’s violation–I do not understand the words he spoke, but I think it must have been . . . ,” he hesitated again, fearing to say what he was thinking–that the face was the face of the One, “. . . I don’t know,” he finished, opening his eyes to look at the others and saw them exchanging a look with each other.
“Anything else?” Delgart asked, his eyes still fixed on Marilee.
Blakstar closed his eyes and concentrated again. “It rained after that,” he said, “a sudden, warm downpour that lasted only minutes, but I felt as if all pain and anguish had been washed away, and I no longer felt filthy. I sewed my clothes together using some broken strips of leather lying on the ground beside me, then went and led my horse to the Mountain,” he finished, opening his eyes to look at them; he saw something pass between them, then Marilee’s eyes widened.
“That’s awful!” Marilee exclaimed, still looking at Delgart.
Delgart looked back at her, then got out of his bed on the side closest to her, holding out his left hand. She understood, and reached out with her right hand. Suddenly, the maimed sides of their faces drew together, a scream exploding from both mouths. When the two halves of the sign met and joined, the whole mark flashed an angry red, pulsing in time with their voices, as their screams grew and shrank. Blakstar leaped forward, jerking Delgart away from Marilee, both wethem crashing back onto Delgart’s bed.
“What were you doing?” Blakstar snapped, eyes wide.
Delgart panted. “I guess that answers the question,” he said.
“I think so,” Marilee said weakly.
“Will you two explain?” the kortexi asked, perplexed by their behavior.
“What you said made us wonder if a similar result would occur if we brought our half-marks together,” Delgart said. He looked at Marilee. “Perhaps we should switch places?”
“It seems all right,” she replied, “as long as we are not too close. Just don’t walk on my right side.”
Blakstar stood and walked back to his chair. “Yes,” he agreed, “you two should stay a safe distance from one another.” He thought for a moment. “I think Klaybear said something along those lines when he was telling us what happened in the glade; he brought the mark on his palm into contact with the reflection of the mark on his forehead, when he tried to cool his hand in the stream.”
Blakstar fell silent, withdrawing again into his own thoughts. After a few moments passed, Marilee sobbed again, causing Blakstar to look at her, then look at Delgart. Blakstar looked a question at Delgart, who shook his head and said nothing. Marilee continued to sob softly, face held in her hands. The kortexi turned to Thal, hoping for some response, but saw immediately there would be none. He looked back to the tray, but could not bring himself to eat anything else, or give any more to Thal. Moments dragged by in silence but for Marilee’s soft sobbing. When she stopped suddenly, he looked at her and saw her eyes wet and swollen but her cheeks flushed.
Marilee clutched the blanket covering her. “Why?” she exclaimed. “Why would this happen to us, to me? I haven’t done any more against Gar than anyone else has; why would I be singled out?”
Blakstar shrugged and looked at Thal. “Perhaps he could tell us,” he said.
“Maybe there is no ‘why’,” Delgart said, “maybe we were all in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Marilee shook her head, making her hair fly about. “Maybe that would account for one, or two, but not four of us here in this room today, two others here at this school, maybe others we don’t know about; that’s too many coincidences to believe it accidental. Why us, why here, why now?”
The door opened slowly, and the Headmaster, Myron slipped into the room, closing the door quickly behind him. He tapped the floor with his staff, then looked straight at Marilee. “Because, Marilee, you are the Chosen of the One, those destined to end the rule of Gar.”
“That’s not possible,” Marilee said, a look of horror on her face.
Her declaration caused Thal to stand on his feet. He looked around the room, but did not respond to their looks of concern. He started speaking, to himself at first, but the words soon became audible to the others: “not possible, not possible; it’s not possible; it’s not possible,” and as the phrase grew longer his voice grew louder, until he was shouting, “IT’S NOT POSSIBLE!” He turned and ran from the room, slamming the door behind him.
Myron tried to stop him but failed. He sighed and looked back at the others. “Sir Blakstar,” he began.
“Just ‘Blakstar’ is enough from you, Headmaster,” the kortexi said.
“It is who you are now,” Myron continued, “so you’ll have to get used to it. Have you given Thal some of the Waters?”
Blakstar’s eyes widened, then his face reddened. “No,” he admitted, silently berating himself for not thinking of it.
“We must follow Thal and see where he goes; I have a hunch,” Myron went on, “but we must give him some of the Waters. I think they may be the only thing that will help. You two stay here until we return.”
“What about my brother, Klaybear?” Delgart asked.
“The Council will not meet until the mekala can gather, and it will be several days before that will happen, so there is little you can do,” Myron replied. “Considering how you all have been marked, I think you would do more harm than good if you try to do anything, so stay here for now, out of sight.”
“And Klaybear’s wife, my sister-in-law?” Delgart asked, having trouble with the words.
Myron shook his head. “One of the apprentices said she thinks she saw her leave the school, but we did not find her at her home or traveling in between.” Myron raised a hand to stop Delgart. “You would do more harm than good, leaving this room, since very few of us accept that you are the chosen and not agents of Gar. I’ll make sure that no one but Avril and I can enter.”
Myron looked around after closing the door, then started moving toward the infirmary’s exit. Blakstar followed, taking note of the Headmaster’s caution; he gripped the hilt of his sword.
“Headmaster,” he spoke softly, “where do you think Thal went?”
“The telepad,” Myron replied, “he may try to return to his parents’ tower.” Myron opened a side door, pulling Blakstar quickly through.
“This is not the way we came in,” he said.
“No,” Myron replied. “This way is little used, and will take us to the courtyard less visibly.”
“If he intends to return to the tower, he’ll be gone before we get there,” Blakstar said.
“I think not,” Myron said, leading the kortexi down a series of narrow, twisting corridors, pausing at each turn and doorway to ensure the corridor ahead was empty. “Kalamar’s tower was surrounded by a special, protective field. If anything happened to him and Nelle, that field would become impenetrable for a time, preventing any entry using teka. Thal knows how to open the barriers, knows that he can only do it if he approaches on foot. Trying to go directly by teleportation is not possible, but in his current state of mind, he will not remember.”
“But if he tries, won’t he get trapped in rumepant?”
“Teleportation requires that the maghi, to put it simply, contact the pad to which he or she intends to go. Since that is not possible right now, Thal will be stuck here.” Myron opened a final door and pointed down to the pad and Thal sitting in the center of it.
Blakstar did not hesitate, but strode forward, removing the special flask from his belt. He knelt beside Thal, unstoppered the flask, and put it to his lips, tipping some of the precious fluid into his mouth. Thal drank reflexively, and when he swallowed the Waters of Life, his eyes opened wide and he started to rise. Blakstar put a hand firmly on his shoulder, and whispered to him. “Peace, my friend. The Waters of Life are potent,” he said.
Thal looked into the kortexi’s dark brown eyes, his blue eyes filling with tears. His head fell into his hands; he began to weep. “They are dead,” he sobbed.
The kortexi saw Myron kneel on his other side, putting a hand on the maghi’s other shoulder. “They died defending you and Blakstar, and your home. Their sacrifice makes it possible for us to go on, to keep fighting evil. They were great in life; they have become greater in death. I mourn with you for they have been my dear friends for most of my life.” Myron looked up at Blakstar. “Help me get him to his feet; let’s get him back to the others where he can mourn his loss in private.” . . .
Come back next week for another installment of our tale, in which we will discover what Klare has been doing, and why she hasn’t returned. In the meantime, the ebook version of the story is available from Smashwords for free! If you prefer print, you can purchase it from CreateSpace! Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on April 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM||comments (0)|
4 April 2014
Friday Poet’s Corner
Well a week without the Internet certainly made things quiet around here, and played heck with our posting schedule! We will be back on Monday with another installment of our epic. Meanwhile, we will go back to the 17th century for another favorite poem of ours, by John Donne, who invented what we call the ‘metaphysical conceit’, which is basically using unusual things as metaphors, in this case, the lowly flea:
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our mariage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w[e]'are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say'st that thou
Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;
’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.
This poem by Donne still makes me chuckle in his strange comparison of the flea, who bites both, their blood mingled in the flea as it would be in pregnancy, so when she kills the flea, it contains three lives: his, hers, and their unborn, unconceived child! This becomes his argument, that the flea has already done what we have not, which is no sin, and therefore, our ‘mingling’ (through sex) can be no sin, or no more sin, since the flea, in sharing our blood has ‘married’ us, which means it is okay for us to do ‘it!’ What great, convoluted reasoning to justify his desires for her! Of course, she does not ‘buy’ such ridiculousness, and so smashes the flea. Come back again next week for another Poet’s Corner!
|Posted by gwermon on March 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
28 March 2014
Friday Poet’s Corner
We turn this week to a contemporary poet, William Stafford, and a poem that had profound influence on my own personal voice, “Traveling Through the Dark.”
Traveling Through the Dark
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing,
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason–
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside the mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights,
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all–my only swerving–,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
When I first read this poem, I could ‘hear’ the poet’s voice in my head, and knew I had discovered something important; I had traveled those narrow, winding roads over the coastal range in Oregon, traveling with my wife, so I immediately recognized the setting, and the danger, but more than this, I found a poetic voice that resonated deep inside, telling a simple story in the Romantic mode. Following this first reading, I wrote my first narrative poem, one of many that became my semester’s poetry project, “Ode to a Stump Farm,” poems about living and growing up on a north Idaho ranch/farm, and the pains of the transition from child to adult. My poetry professor, and the grad. assistant, came to me after I shared this first narrative poem, and said, “You need to write more like this one–this is really good!” Since then, I haven’t ceased to write narrative poems, inspired by my first reading of Stafford’s poem. . . .
“Ode to a Stump Farm: Fragment of Memory Lost” is available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and other ebook stores, also available in print from https://www.createspace.com/4525162" target="_blank">CreateSpace!
|Posted by gwermon on March 24, 2014 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
We return to our epic story, Chosen of the One: Book 1 of The Redemption, joining Headmaster Myron and Master Healer Avril as the two friends go to inspect the altar in their sacred glade, finding something unexpected. . . .
Chapter 12, Part 1
We are aware of eight elemental forces: earth, air, water, fire, ice, time, Void, and light. When used together, these forces produce power that enables the maghi to work ortheks. We suspect, however, that there exist older and more powerful teka then these simple toys we use. . . .
from the Annals of Melbarth, Second Series, Early Lectures of the Hierarchs,
Lecture by Sedra Melbarth
Myron stood next to Avril, both kailum looking at the altar in the sacred glade of the kailum.
“Are you certain?” Myron asked.
“Yes,” Avril replied. “Ghelvon’s apprentice was quite clear that they had come here early this morning and found the altar destroyed.”
Myron stroked the altar’s flat stone surface. “Even the mark has nearly faded,” he said softly. “By tomorrow morning, it will have faded completely.”
“Why would Ghelvon repair the altar,” Avril asked, “when he plans to use it as evidence against your apprentice?”
Myron shook his head. “He did not repair it.”
“Who did?” Avril asked.
Myron shrugged. “There is no precedent.”
“Nothing in the histories?”
“Nothing.” Myron tapped the surface of the altar with his fingers. “Perhaps it is the power of the glade itself that repairs the altar.”
Avril held both hands over the altar, moving them slowly over the altar’s surface. “There is a hint of . . . something,” Avril said, “but it is deep, barely detectable, and . . . old, so old that my own life would pass a thousand times if it but blinks.” He lowered his hands slowly to his sides. “Will it make any difference for Klaybear?”
Myron frowned, turning from the altar to look around the glade. He felt nothing out of place; no hint that anything wrong had ever occurred, or, for that matter, would ever occur. “I’m puzzled by all that has happened over the past few days, Avril,” he said, putting one hand firmly on the other’s shoulder. “Part of me shouts that it is wrong, that none of this should have happened, and yet, deep within me, I feel that it is right.”
“You haven’t answered my question,” Avril noted.
“No,” Myron admitted, “I have not.”
“Why not?” the Master Healer pressed.
“The question, for some reason I cannot fathom, seems irrelevant,” the Headmaster replied.
“Irrelevant?” Avril laughed. “How can it be irrelevant? Our reason for being here was to find any mitigating circumstances or evidence that might sway the council to acquit Klaybear.”
“You are right, my friend,” Myron answered. “But ever since my apprentice, two days ago, announced he was going to the glade, I’ve felt rushed forward by a will not my own.”
“That could only be the influence of Gar,” Avril noted, “for he it is, who, since the beginning, has tried to force people to follow his way and will.”
Myron shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’ve misspoken, or you’ve misunderstood, or maybe both at once.” The Headmaster stopped and thought for a moment. “Do you recall how, as children, we would slide down snowy hills on smooth, flat boards?”
Avril smiled. “How could I forget?” he asked, rubbing his forearm. “My arm still hurts from when you broke it, sliding where we were told not to.”
“As I recall,” Myron replied, “it was your idea to try that particular hill, but that is precisely my point: once we had decided to disobey, once we had climbed the hill, lined up the board, and finally, jumped on, we had very little control over where we went.”
“My memory has always been better than yours,” Avril protested, “it was your idea, but I think I see your point. It is like the master-apprentice relationship: once the master has taught the apprentice all he knows, and has given her opportunities to practice under the master’s supervision, there comes the point when the apprentice must, as it were, strike out on her own. The master must then step back and allow the apprentice room to succeed and fail.”
Myron nodded. “The board is set, and we have jumped on,” he went on, “now we are left to the mercies of the hill. It was your idea,” he added, “that is why you got the broken arm.”
“No, you’re wrong,” Avril protested again, “that is the injustice of the world: I got the broken arm when it was your idea. . . .”
Just after midday, a white-robed novice entered the room with a large tray of food. The novice left after bowing to them, quietly closing the door. Blakstar smelled the roast beef, felt the internal rumble of hunger, then carried his chair to the table. Thal still sat on the floor, hearing and seeing nothing. The kortexi removed the cover from the tray and inhaled deeply, smelling the well-seasoned beef and the freshly baked loaf.
“Thal,” he said, “lunch is here.” He sliced off a chunk of bread and scooped some beef dripping with gravy onto his piece of bread. After chewing and swallowing, he tried again. “It’s quite good,” he said to Thal, “you should try some, but you better hurry, since I’m feeling quite hungry and might eat it all.” Blakstar smiled at the maghi, but there was no response from Thal. The kortexi ate the rest of his slice of bread, adding more beef and gravy. He cut a second chunk from the loaf and ate it with another slice of roast and gravy.
After a third chunk, he turned to Thal again. “You sure you don’t want any lunch?” he asked.
“He won’t hear you,” said a new voice, “not for a while yet, depending on how deeply he feels the grief.”
Blakstar looked to the bed where Delgart lay. “How do you know?”
“I’ve seen it happen many times,” Delgart said, “every time the pirates raided another village and returned with new captives.”
“You’ve been with pirates?” the kortexi asked, surprised.
“I was once a new captive,” Delgart said, “when my village was raided and I was captured, so I also went through the silence, when I knew I would not be rescued and that my father had died. One of the older slaves took pity on me, gave me the will to go on, even fed me when I could not, for grief, feed myself. You might try giving him a little to eat, just small, bite-sized pieces, and see if that helps,” Delgart suggested.
The kortexi nodded and cut a small piece of bread, added a small amount of roast, and took it to Thal. He held it up to the young mage’s lips until Thal opened his mouth and took it, chewing automatically.
“Where am I?” Delgart asked.
“In the infirmary of the school of the kailum,” Blakstar replied, getting another small bite for Thal.
“Shigmar? I remember being rescued from ghelem by a young, red-haired maghi, who said he would take me to his master’s tower.”
“He is here,” Blakstar said as he stooped to give Thal another bite.
Delgart sat up and saw Thal sitting on the floor. “Yes, he was the one.” He sank back onto his pillow with a sigh. “Who are you?”
“I am Blakstar, a kortexi of Karble.” He moved back to the table for another bite.
“What are you and the maghi, Thal, I think you called him, doing here?” Delgart asked.
“Yesterday,” Blakstar said, preparing another bite for Thal, “I ascended the Mountain of Vision, where the servant of the One gave me the armor and weapons of Sir Karble, told me the sword was the first of three keys, and said I and my companions to be should find the other two and use them to end Gar’s rule. He sent me to Kalamar’s tower, where I met Thal, then his father sent us here to meet others of our companions, and begin to search for the other keys.”
“So it was you,” a voice spoke from the other bed, “who we were supposed to be protecting.”
Blakstar looked up from Thal, at Marilee, who was sitting up in bed. “What do you mean, protecting?” Blakstar asked.
Marilee fell back onto her pillow. “I knew it must’ve been some kind of ruse that we followed!” she exclaimed. “I tried to convince the others, but none would listen, especially not Rokwolf.”
“Rokwolf?” Delgart said. “I had a younger brother named Rokwolf.”
“Yes,” Blakstar said, “Klaybear mentioned him.”
“Klaybear?” Delgart said, “my younger, twin brothers were named Rokwolf and Klaybear; how do you know them?” he asked the kortexi.
Marilee went on, not noticing the others. “It didn’t feel right to me,” she said, then looked at the kortexi. “Did you make it to the Mountain without harm?” she asked.
The kortexi had just returned to the table; he sat down heavily in his chair, eyes upon Marilee. “I . . . uh, I don’t know,” he said softly after a pause, “there is a gap in my memory. . . .”
“I knew it!” she snapped, jumping to a conclusion for which there was little evidence. “Xythrax led us on a merry goose chase away from the Mountain so he could catch you without escort, and we were warned that something big was happening.”
Delgart turned to Marilee and saw the damaged state of the right side of her face. His hands lifted to his own face. “What has happened to us?” he asked.
“Us?” Marilee said, then turn to look at the person in the bed beside her, who said he was Rokwolf’s older brother, missing for many years. Her hands went to her own face. “What has happened?” she cried out in shock.
Blakstar shook off the pain inside, whose source he could not identify, and looked at the two of them side by side, and suddenly understood; he vividly recalled the moment with the figure in white and the girl pointing at him and accusing him of selling out to Gar, and he had first noticed the symbols burned into and marking his flesh. He lifted up his chain shirt and touched the neck of his special suit beneath his throat, ran his finger down the center of his chest, as he had been shown, and an opening appeared. Pulling the halves open, he looked down at the thin red lines inscribed on his chest, and saw the same mark inscribed on the damaged faces in front of him: half on the right side of Marilee’s face, half on the left side of Delgart’s face, such that if they put their damaged cheeks together, the mark of evil would be plainly visible.
Marilee’s hand, that had been touching the right side of her face, went to her mouth. “What happened?” she asked.
“Half of this mark is inscribed on each of your faces,” Blakstar said, “so that if you stood side by side, as you are now sitting, it would be completed in your two faces.”
“How?” Delgart asked.
Blakstar ran his finger up his chest, closing the fabric, then dropped his chain shirt back over his chest. “When Thal and I arrived here,” he began, “we were brought to this room where we found Headmaster Myron with his apprentice, Klaybear.”
“Klaybear is here?” Delgart said. “When can I see him?”
“That may be difficult,” the kortexi continued, “as he was arrested this morning.”
“Arrested?” Delgart said. “Why?”
“Because he has this same mark,” Blakstar went on, “branded on his forehead and his right palm. The other kailu master claimed he had desecrated their sacred glade and marked its altar with the same sign.”
Delgart and Marilee sat silent for a time, staring at the kortexi. Blakstar went on.
“As I started to say before, when we were brought to this room, where Headmaster Myron and Klaybear were waiting, you two were dying from some disease that none of the kailum could cure. When the Headmaster saw the devices I bear, the devices of Sir Karble, and I used the Waters of Life on his apprentice, he asked me to heal the two of you with the Waters. I gave you both some of the Waters, which should have healed you both completely, but something happened: the darkness could not be entirely driven out before it left your faces as they now are, damaged and inscribed with the mark you saw on my chest.” Blakstar looked down at Thal, hoping he would jump in but seeing that he was still withdrawn into himself. He looked up at the others, then pointed to Thal. “He also has the mark, but it is somehow written within the patterns of his mind. If not for the grief of losing his parents, he could probably make some sense of all this, for he has great powers of mind.”
“He’s lost his parents? How?” Delgart asked.
“I’m not sure how the Headmaster knows,” Blakstar said, “the teka explanation is beyond me. Shortly after Hierarch Kalamar sent us to Shigmar this morning, the tower was attacked by purem, including a trio of ponkolum, who killed both his parents.”
“How did he get the mark?” Marilee asked.
“They do not know,” Blakstar said. “Headmaster Myron wanted to ask Hierarch Kalamar about it, which is how he discovered they had been killed.”
“How did my brother, Klaybear, get marked?” Delgart asked.
“I only know that he went to the sacred glade of the kailum yesterday,” Blakstar said, “where the Headmaster said that Gar branded him, destroyed and marked the altar, and did something to Klaybear that caused his inner vision to become . . . jumbled,” he finished, after pausing to search for the right word. “When Thal and I entered the room earlier, he was knocked from his feet and hurled into his vision, replaying, so we were told, the parts that included us. The same thing happened when he saw the awemi he rescued last night, when he saw his wife, and when he saw the two of you.”
“Wife?” Delgart said, sounding shocked. “My brother is married?”
“So we were told, although she left here before we came in, on an errand of the headmaster,” Blakstar said, “but did not return when she should have. There was some concern over where she had gone. They thought she might have gone to check on the awemi, who was at their home, to see if he was marked similarly to Thal.”
Blakstar stopped speaking, and since no one else spoke, took another bite of lunch and gave it to Thal.
“Sir Blakstar,” Marilee asked hesitantly, “how were you marked?”
The kortexi’s face went white. “I don’t know,” he said finally, “the keeper on the Mountain called my loss of memory a gift of the One; I fear something terrible has been done to me, but beyond the marks, I do not know,” he finished, turned, and went back to the table, fumbling with the bread, trying to get another bite for Thal.
“No,” Marilee sobbed. “I knew we should have stayed in our assigned area, and not chased Xythrax’s phantoms!” she exclaimed in anger.
Blakstar shook his head; something about the name Xythrax stirred his memory and filled him with foreboding: he glimpsed a black-robed figure with bony hands gripping an ornately carved rod. He looked back at Delgart and Marilee, trying to avoid the feeling in his mind and heart of empty guilt. “I . . . can’t . . . remember,” he stuttered, trying to see past the shadows that cloaked his memory.
“Don’t try,” Delgart said, simply. “We know that you were marked, as we have been, and that is sufficient; you need not tell us any more.”
Blakstar nodded once, then took another bite to Thal. The maghi took it, chewing automatically.
“Can you tell us anything else about what has happened,” Delgart began, “anything that might help my brother?”
Blakstar went back to the table and sat down, then looked at the others and shrugged. “We need him,” he said, pointing at Thal, “he is the one who could put things together; he could help Klaybear.”
“Couldn’t we try to force him to wake?” Marilee asked.
Delgart shook his head. “That happened to some of the captives I saw; the pirates became impatient, shaking and slapping them, but it more often harmed than helped, usually sending them deeper into themselves, so that they wasted away and died. It is better to let them come out of it on their own, rather than try and shock them awake.” . . .
Return next week for another installment of our tale! Or, if you wish to read on, download the entire text from Smashwords for free! If, however, you prefer a print edition, purchase it from CreateSpace.
|Posted by gwermon on March 21, 2014 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
21 March 2014
Friday Poet’s Corner
Today we share one of the amusing responses to last week’s poem by Christopher Marlow, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” one by a contemporary of Marlow, Sir Walter Ralegh. Like Sidney, Ralegh was the ideal Renaissance man: soldier, courtier, philosopher, explorer, scientist, historian, and poet; he was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, and helped Edmund Spenser to return to England from Ireland. He replied to Marlowe’s passionate shepherd with the following:
The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel [the nightingale] becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do face, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, they shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle [skirt], and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten–
In folly ripe, in season rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
They coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date [ending], nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Ralegh’s ‘nymph’ sees straight through the phony shepherd’s appeals–she sees him as the shallow, posturing fake that he is, pointing right to the heart of the matter, that the shepherd sees only the surface, his desire is only ‘skin-deep’, and she will not be taken in by his posing. The poet here assumes what many believed: that remaining close to nature, as shepherds did, makes one wise, not easily taken in by appearance. Notice the echo of Marlowe’s lines at the end of the first, fourth, and fifth stanzas, the ‘nymph’ answering the shepherd’s question. Come back next Friday for another edition of the Poet’s corner!
|Posted by gwermon on March 18, 2014 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
Welcome back to another installment of our epic fantasy, Chosen of the One: Book 1 of The Redemption. We return to the chosen in Shigmar, with Masters Myron and Avril, as they try to learn more about the key they are supposed to find, the Staff of Shigmar, founder of the kailu order. . . .
Chapter 11, Part 2
A thought occurred to Myron, and he turned to Klaybear. “How was the awemi wounded?”
“Cuts and bruises,” Klaybear replied, “from being dragged, he said, behind a horse.”
“Why do you say, ‘he said?’” Myron asked, an eyebrow rising slowly.
Klaybear shrugged. “Something about the way he said it made me think his account not quite accurate.”
Avril nodded. “Probably something like the maghi, there,” he said, pointing to Thal.
“Wait a minute,” Thal said, “I haven’t been wounded like them.”
“No,” Avril said, “more like ‘altered,’ very subtly.”
Thal’s face went red, a shade that clashed with the red of his hair. “Are you suggesting . . . ?” he began, but Avril cut him off.
“No,” Avril said.
Myron removed a pouch from inside his robe and took a curiously shaped, small metal device from the pouch. Cupping it in both hands, which he then raised to his lips, then whispered something into his hands. Opening his hands, the small object floated in the air; he raised his staff and said, “remelek.” The object shot forward, disappearing with a flash and pop before hitting a wall.
“My master has one of those!” Thal said, excitedly. “What is it? He would never tell me.”
“It is a special teka that your father and I created, as a way of communicating over great distances,” Myron replied.
“How long will it take?” Thal asked.
“It is already there,” the Headmaster replied.
“How did you create it?” Thal asked.
“If there were more time, I would tell you,” Myron replied. “We did carefully record the manner of its creation, so you can read about the method the next time you return home.”
“What message did you send?” Thal asked.
“A summons,” Myron replied, “he knows more about minds than anyone alive; we need his knowledge and abilities to unravel the mystery of why your mind, and possibly the awemi, Telvor, has been tampered with, and what it might mean.”
“I’ll go and open the door,” Avril said, moving toward the door, “and I’ll check on Klare.”
Myron nodded and fell silent. Klaybear moved to sit down and motioned that the others should follow. The younger kailu turned to Thal after they had pulled up chairs.
“Do you two have any idea what we are supposed to do?” Klaybear asked. Myron listened to them with half an ear, all the while wondering if Kalamar or Nelle had discovered the tampering with Thalamar’s mind, and if so, why had they done nothing about it?
“I was told on the Mountain,” Blakstar replied, “that we had to find three keys, of which my sword is the first.”
“Keys?” Klaybear asked. “Keys to what?”
The kortexi shrugged. “I was also told that I would fulfill the kortexi’s dream.”
“What is that?” Klaybear asked.
Blakstar shrugged again. “Since we are all about prowess in arms,” he said, “I would guess the defeat of some powerful champion of Gar in single combat.”
“Well, I have been able to deduce a few things,” Thal said. “Since Blakstar’s sword is the legendary sword of Sir Karble, and he was told there are three keys, the sword being one of them, the other two must be the rod of Melbarth, first white maghi, which sits in a case in Melbarth, and the staff of Shigmar, the first kailu. Also, since we–Blakstar and I–were sent here, to Shigmar, the obvious conclusion is that we must first acquire Shigmar’s staff.”
“Where do we find it?” Klaybear asked.
“I assumed you would know that,” Thal replied, “as a student of the order he founded.”
Klaybear turned to Myron. “Master, do you know anything about Shigmar’s staff?”
Myron held up his staff. “Here,” the Headmaster replied, “passed down from generation to generation, carried by the headmaster of his school.”
Thal jumped in, eagerly. “Does it have a name?” he asked.
One of Myron’s eyebrows went up. “What do you mean by a name?”
“A name written in the ancient language,” Thal replied. He turned to Blakstar. “Can I see your sword again?”
Blakstar shrugged. “Sure, what for?”
“I want to show the Headmaster its name,” Thal said, “then he’ll see what I mean.”
The kortexi pulled the sword from its sheath, reversed it and handed it to Thal.
Thal took it, cradled it in one arm, and pointed to the words on the guard. “Here, you can see the words, in the ancient language, ‘eli-kerdu-ghebi,’ which, when translated, is will-giver of the One.”
“There is nothing like that on this staff,” Myron replied, “but this is not the only staff of Shigmar: this one is the staff of office, created specifically to run this school. His personal staff he took with him when he retired and returned to his estate.”
“Where was that?” Thal asked.
“Kalbant,” Klaybear put in, “my wife Klare is from there, and her family still lives there.”
Myron nodded. “During the last decade of his service to the school, he spent much of his time on his estate, but what he was doing he did not record, some project, he told the curious, that would reveal itself, in time.” Myron stopped for a moment, his brow wrinkling. “Let me see that name again.”
Thal pointed to the words imprinted into the sword’s cross guard. The older kailu tapped the center word for a moment and then smiled.
“Do you know much about the seklesem, particularly, their history?” he asked.
“I know they came later,” Thal said, “after the original three.”
Myron nodded. “The first of Gar’s minions emerged from the underworld and Shigmar, Karble, and Melbarth were far separated, each establishing and directing their respective orders, unable to respond quickly to calls for help from the others. Gar’s servants were slowly destroying each of them. Each order was too specialized, and Gar exploited their weaknesses. The three decided they needed a fourth order, one that was a mixture of the three and so, better able to fight the attacking forces.”
“What does this have to do with the name of my sword?” Blakstar asked, looking quite puzzled.
“Do you know the seklesi motto?” Myron asked.
Thal returned the sword to the kortexi, who slid it back into its sheath with a steely hiss. “Everyone knows that,” Thal said, “it is written on all their flags: kerdu . . . of course!” he snapped, interrupting himself. “Kerdu gwehru menu are oino” he continued, “‘will, breath, and thought, fit together as one,’ a mixture of the three original orders of good: will-giver,” he pointed to Blakstar, “breath-giver,” pointing to Klaybear, “and thought-giver,” pointing to himself. “So Melbarth’s rod must be named eli-menu-ghebi, thought-giver of the One, and Shigmar’s staff must be eli-gwehru-ghebi, breath-giver of the One.”
“Breath-giver?” Blakstar asked, “what does that mean?”
“Well, like the sword, ‘will-giver’ is a metaphor for courage,” Thal replied, “‘breath-giver’ is a metaphor for life, and ‘thought-giver’ a metaphor for mind.” Thal sank back into his chair, suddenly speechless.
As Thal was sinking, Klaybear stood up. “Master,” his voice hissed, “remember my vision–is it possible that Shigmar’s staff can bring people back from the dead? We are taught that it is impossible . . . ,” his voice trailed off.
“Mind-control,” Thal mumbled, “Melbarth’s rod can control minds, so it must be the only thing that could have written the mark upon my brain patterns–a mark of evil would only be inscribed by someone evil, so the rod must be in the hands of the enemy, except I, myself, have seen it in the central hall of the school . . . ,” he stopped, suddenly recognizing that he had spoken aloud.
Myron started to speak but stopped when the door opened. Avril came in, quickly closing the door behind him. He stood by the door, holding something in his hand; his face was ashen.
“What has happened?” Myron asked, suddenly afraid.
Avril shook himself, then took a deep breath and let it escape slowly. Some of the color returned to his face. “I went first to your study and then climbed up to the roof.” He moved slowly to stand beside Myron. “I found these, lying on the stone. They were hot when I first touched them.” Avril opened his hand and dropped two iron symbols into Myron’s open hand.
Myron glanced at the symbols, feeling a stab of pain, and sighed. “So it has happened then,” he whispered to Avril, “just as we had foreseen.”
“Shortly after I found them,” Avril said, “your sending returned. I left the roof then, to find out if Klare left the school and went home, as I thought. I left my younger apprentice in charge before I came here. I checked with her, and she did not see Klare leave.”
“So she must still be in the school,” Myron noted.
Avril nodded. “No one has seen her since she spoke to me.”
“Klare’s missing?” Klaybear asked, standing up and looking worried.
“It is a big place,” Myron said, trying to reassure him, “she could have found out who was on duty here last night and gone to question that person.”
Klaybear sat down slowly. Myron started to rise, but Avril stopped him.
“There’s more,” Avril said, lowering his voice. “Ghelvon has the votes.”
Myron’s face drained of all color. “How can that be?” he whispered. “We have not met. . . .”
“He went to the glade, at the insistence of his apprentice, and found the altar toppled,” Avril went on, “and the mark burned into its top.”
“We have to tell Thal what has happened,” Myron said, changing the subject and suddenly feeling the burden of his office and the weight of his years threatening to crush him. He held up his hand to stop Avril, leaning heavily on his staff with the other. “One crisis at a time; you go look for Klare. I’ll tell Thal.”
Avril paused a moment before nodding his agreement. He turned to the younger wethem, who had not noticed or heard the last exchange between Myron and Avril. He laid his green-glowing hands on the white maghi’s head, letting feelings of hope and comfort flow from his hands into the young maghi. After a moment, he took his hands away.
Thal looked up, wonder and surprise in his eyes. “Why did you do that?”
Avril did not answer. He let one hand fall to Thal’s shoulder, squeezed it, then turned and left the room without another word. Myron took Avril’s place, placing one hand on the same shoulder.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell, Thal, for they were dear friends of mine,” he said, holding out the two iron symbols of Melbarth for Thal, “your parents are dead.”
Thal accepted the symbols and stared at them. “No . . . , how do you . . . , that’s impossible!”
“Years ago,” Myron began, “when I was young and before I knew your mother and father, I had just finished my studies and become a kailu. I had a vision in which I saw, among other things, a pair of white-haired maghem, standing on top of a tower, embracing, then they were surrounded by red fire, and consumed. Your father and mother both saw a similar vision, and your father knew that it would happen soon after a kortexi came to the tower bearing the devices of Sir Karble. That is why you two were rushed off without an explanation: to keep the two of you from being captured and destroyed by Gar. Your parents sacrificed their lives so that you could live to become the instruments of Gar’s defeat.”
Thal sank to the floor, still staring at the two symbols. “No,” he chanted to himself in a low voice, “it cannot be true; it cannot be. . . .” He sat huddled on the floor, still staring at the symbols, eyes wet, continuing to chant, “it cannot be. . . .”
Myron turned to Klaybear and Blakstar. “Stay here with him; there is something. . . ,” he started to say, but the door opened again. A large kailu with black hair, gray at the temples, entered followed by his apprentice and several other council members. The large kailu’s apprentice was tucking an orange-silk handkerchief into a pocket; one corner of his mouth twitched as if he was about to smile.
“It is my sad duty,” the large kailu said, “to arrest your apprentice, Headmaster. He has sold himself to Gar and desecrated our sacred glade. His trial will begin as soon as the mekala can gather. Surrender your staff, Klaybear.”
Ghelvon stepped forward, flanked by two council members, hand outstretched. Blakstar looked to Myron and moved his hand closer to the hilt of his sword; the Headmaster shook his head slightly, and the kortexi let his hand fall. Klaybear was too stunned to protest and allowed the staff to be taken from his limp fingers. Ghelvon’s apprentice motioned someone forward, then helped him to lock manacles and chains around Klaybear’s wrists and ankles. They led him from the room. Thal sat huddled on the floor, oblivious to what had happened, eyes wet, and still chanting, “it cannot be; it cannot be. . . .”
Return again next Monday for another installment of our tale! If you cannot wait until next week, you can download the entire novel from Smashwords for free! If you prefer print, you can purchase it from CreateSpace. Good reading!