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Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 3, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on September 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

22 September 2014

 

In this week’s installment of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption, we return to the search of the basement and learn what Tevvy, Thal, and Blakstar discover, as also another secret of the founders.

 

Chapter 3, Part 3

Without a second look at the others to see if they were moving, Tevvy stooped and began searching the black maghi’s clothing and body. He did not stop to examine anything he found, but he simply took everything and slipped it into a small bag he produced from one of his pockets, then tied the bag shut, slipping it into his pack, resting on the floor where his captors had tossed it.

Fools! he thought. Amateurs! Not even taking the time to go through it! He shook his head, hearing the sounds of crates being opened nearby, and knew that Thal was working. He knew he needed to hurry, so he would have time to look through the crates for concealed spaces. He made a thorough, although quick, search of the small room, then moved to the larger storage room.

“Looks like foodstuffs,” Thal said when he entered the room.

Tevvy took out a dagger and went to the closest crates, looking inside. He pulled the top off a barrel inside the crate, revealing the contents as coarsely ground flour. He slid his dagger into the flour and felt the point hit something hard about four inches down. He brushed the flour to one side around the edge, moving it until he found two rings. He hooked a finger through each ring and pulled carefully. Part of the inside of the barrel lifted out, revealing a compartment underneath filled with swords.

“How did you know to do that?” Thal asked in surprise.

“These are not trustworthy people,” Tevvy said, “and untrustworthy people in a place like Shigmar always have something to hide.”

Tevvy carefully replaced the flour and the top of the barrel. He then softly tapped each barrel in the crate with the hilt of his dagger, smiling each time he found another barrel sounded different in the lower part. Only one barrel of the six in each large crate contained what it was supposed to. He turned to Thal. “There are enough weapons here to supply a small army, inside the walls of the city.”

“We have to get this information to the Headmaster,” Blakstar noted, “especially since we saw the vanguard of an army arriving just north of the city.” He looked overhead. “We cannot be far from the gates; their intent must be to assault the gate guards and open the gates, allowing the attacking army inside the walls . . . ,” he stopped, looking at the door. “Someone is coming,” he hissed, waving his companions toward the doorway and stairs going down. Tevvy was there, almost before the kortexi stopped whispering; Thal was caught flat-footed, and so hesitated before moving, then tripped on one of the crates. Blakstar ran and pulled him to his feet, dragging him toward the door. The handle moved as he went through the door with Thal, pausing only to close the door as softly as he could while still moving down the stairs. They halted in the darkness at the bottom of the stairs, listening for the sounds of the person overhead. Tevvy heard the handle rattle, and the door start to open.

“Cover your faces!” Tevvy hissed, “and don’t either of you look up!”

A dagger slid silently into the awemi’s hand, and he stood poised to throw it up the stairs. The door above opened.

“Pumar?” came the harsh-voiced query from above. “What are you going back into the sewers for?”

They heard shuffling boots; Tevvy saw legs silhouetted at the top of the stairs, and lifted himself onto the balls of his feet, ready to spring forward and hurl the dagger, praying he could make it up the stairs before whoever was there toppled over, dropping the torch he carried.

“What are you doing?” came another voice from above.

Tevvy held still.

“Checking on the maghi,” replied the harsh voice at the top of the stairs.

“Idiot!” came the response, “do you want to eat your own hands? ‘Cause Pumar will cut them off and feed them to you if you disturb him!”

“I thought I heard someone moving around down here.”

“Probably the sounds of the rat he is questioning.” Tevvy could hear the sound of harsh laughter from above; he considered killing them, for calling him a rat. His grandmother’s voice told him not to be stupid; he waited.

“I just wanted to be sure.”

“Suit yourself,” came the response, “they are your hands.”

The figure at the top of the stairs mumbled, turned, and the door above closed. Tevvy let the breath out he was holding.

“That was too close!” he whispered to the others.

“Let’s get out of here,” Blakstar noted, “before someone discovers that you are no longer being questioned.”

“Should we go help the kailum?” Thal asked.

“Where are they?” Tevvy asked.

“Back in the dungeon healing one of the council members,” Thal replied to Tevvy’s question.

Tevvy snorted. “Isn’t that slightly dangerous? Does Klaybear want to get back into his cell?”

“Why don’t you check where they are?” Blakstar suggested.

Thal nodded, touched the symbol on his wrist, and said, “Klare.”

“Why Klare?” Blakstar asked.

“She is more likely to notice, since her verghrenum are against her skin,” Thal replied. “Then both of them will know that we are finished, since we are inquiring after them.” Thal lifted his finger. “It appears that they are still in the dungeon.”

“I wonder what that means?” Blakstar mused.

“What are you two talking about?” Tevvy asked, confused by their talk.

“Thal discovered,” Blakstar went on, “that we can locate each other using the verghrenum, which is how we located you,” he finished with a smile.

“Did you notice your verghrenum warming several times over the last fifteen minutes, or so?” Thal asked.

“I was a little pre-occupied, hanging there waiting to be tortured,” Tevvy said wryly, “so, no, I did not notice.” He looked around. “Uh, how do we get out of here?”

Thal was looking at one of his bracers, tapping it with the finger of his right hand. He looked up, face coloring. “Sorry, I was thinking about. . . .”

Tevvy interrupted him. “Never mind what you were thinking,” he noted wryly, “I wouldn’t understand anyway. I don’t see how we open a door here.”

“No, probably not,” Thal said, “since it is activated by teka.” The white maghi raised a glowing hand and touched the center of the wall at chest height. The section of wall slid back, and the odor of the sewers crashed into them. Thal quickly covered his mouth and nose with the cloth hanging loose around his neck. The kortexi wrinkled his nose, then stepped through the now open portal. Tevvy imitated Thal, then followed Blakstar. Thal stepped through, then looked back to watch the door close.

“Can you reset the traps?” Blakstar asked Thal.

The white maghi squinted at the now closed portal, then shook his head. “I would probably set them off, if I tried.”

Tevvy was looking south down the passage. “Where are we?” he asked.

“Northeast section of the sewers,” Blakstar replied, pointing and moving south. The others followed.

“From which direction did you come?” Tevvy asked.

“North from our sanctuary,” Blakstar said, “then east, then north through the central area, then east.” They stopped at the crossing passage.

“Right though the center of the sewers, then,” Tevvy said. “We should probably go straight west from here, then south.”

“Why?” Blakstar asked. They turned west, walking slowly and quietly.

“In case anyone sees us,” Tevvy replied. “As long as they do not see us in the same part of the sewers, we won’t arouse suspicion. Also, we should take the opportunity to explore more of the sewers, in case the founders left us any more surprises.”

“Sound reasoning,” Thal remarked.

They followed the passage west, pausing when they came back to the passage running north from the center of the sewers. They turned north, then west again, following a passage that would take them to the west side of the sewers and Shigmar, presumably to the north-south passage that ran past the entrance to their sanctuary. Tevvy was closely watching the walls and floor for any similar sign. They turned south, heading directly for the doorway to their sanctuary. Tevvy stopped suddenly just as they approached the bridge over the west branch of the river. His eyes traveled over the floor and up the west wall.

“There,” he said, pointing.

Blakstar and Thal looked where he pointed, saw another slot and vessel symbol in the wall. Tevvy had already moved to the wall, looking for the hand-shaped indentation. The kortexi stood behind the little rogue.

“The slot is here,” the awemi said, “but I don’t see any spot for our hands.”

Blakstar looked at Thal. “Should we investigate?” he asked.

Thal smiled. “Definitely,” he said. “I want to know what other surprises the founders left for us.”

The kortexi slid his sword out of its scabbard slowly, trying not to make any noise, then slipped it into the slot. A section of wall swung slowly back, revealing a passageway lit by ancient magluku. The passage turned to the right after about thirty feet. Tevvy stepped into the passage, looking for any signs or symbols on the walls. He found the kortexi’s sword blade sticking out of the wall next to the door.

“The slot goes through to this side,” he noted, “so we can open the door from inside.”

“See where it goes,” Blakstar said, “and we’ll wait here.”

Tevvy nodded and moved away. Blakstar spoke to Thal. “Since the passage turns, you should probably go down and stand at the corner, so we know what is happening to the awemi.”

Tevvy glanced back and saw Thal coming toward him; he looked carefully around the corner and saw a short hallway becoming stairs going up. Tevvy moved down the short hallway and began to climb stairs about forty feet from the corner. The awemi found a door at the top with spyholes, one of them at his level. He looked through and saw an open room with a symbol inscribed on the floor. He smiled to himself and went back down to where Thal waited.

“What did you find?” Thal asked when Tevvy returned to the corner.

“A secret entrance into a house, I would guess,” he replied, “in the northwest part of Shigmar. There were spyholes looking into a large room that had some kind of symbol painted into the floor.”

“What kind of symbol?” Thal asked.

“Like the symbol of a telepad,” Tevvy said, “although it was hard for me to see, since only one of the spyholes was at my height, and the angle made it hard to see the symbol clearly.”

Thal smiled, then walked back to where the kortexi waited; Tevvy followed.

“Where does it go?” Blakstar asked.

“I think we have found our way out of Shigmar,” Thal replied.

“What do you mean?” Tevvy asked.

“Both Klaybear and Headmaster Myron,” Thal explained, “have mentioned a ‘secret entrance’ of the kailum, somewhere in the northwestern quarter of the city, one that allows the kailum to bypass the gates, or enter and exit the city when the gates are closed. It appears that the founders saw our future predicament, and so prepared a way for us to escape the city, in case the river exit was blocked.”

“So this passage leads to that secret entrance?” Blakstar asked.

“Very likely,” Thal replied.

“We should go back and tell the others what we have found,” Blakstar said.

Tevvy nodded, moving out of the secret hallway and turning south; he heard the door close behind him and the kortexi’s sword sliding into its sheath.

Come back next week for another installment of our tale! Next week we will return to the account of Klaybear and Klare as one works healing on the kailu master who most dislikes them, while the other moves rock to release his Headmaster from where he is confined. In the meantime, purchase the full ebook version from Smashwords, Amazon, or a print version from CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on September 20, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

19 September 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

Last week we saw the entire crew of the Mariner’s ship slain by the monstrous, although strangely attractive, “Death in Life,” who wins them from Death in a dice game. Their souls ‘whizz’ past the Mariner, sounding like his crossbow. In the next part of the poem, we are reminded that the Mariner is telling this story–we are not witnessing these events firsthand–when the stopped wedding guest interrupts the narrative with what seems to him a valid fear:

 

'I fear thee, ancient mariner!

I fear thy skinny hand!

And thou art long, and lank, and brown,

As is the ribbed sea-sand.

 

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,

And thy skinny hand, so brown.' -

'Fear not, fear not, thou wedding-guest!

This body dropped not down.

 

Alone, alone, all, all alone,

Alone on a wide wide sea!

And never a saint took pity on

My soul in agony.

 

The many men, so beautiful!

And they all dead did lie:

And a thousand thousand slimy things

Lived on; and so did I.

 

This young man fears the Mariner himself is dead, killed by Death-in-Life, and stands before him telling his story as some kind of spirit sent to torment him. The Mariner assures him that he is alive, that he did not die, and resumes his narrative by reminding his audience that he was completely alone on a dead calm sea, with none to pity him, or aid him in any way–penance for his ‘hellish deed!’ He comments on the men, so ‘beautiful’ in death! Why? Because he envied them, and the peace they had found in death, whereas he must live on, tormented by his guilt, equating himself with “a thousand thousand slimy things.” The number used by the Mariner was a number beyond anyone’s ability to understand, a more poetic way of saying the number of slimy things was infinite, and his infamy was also infinite, for which he is being justly punished, and his punishment is not just living alone when all his crew have died; it is much more than that, as we will see in the end. Come back next week for another installment of Coleridge’s masterpiece. Good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 3, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on September 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

15 September 2014

 

In this week’s installment of our epic, Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption, we return, momentarily, to Klaybear and Klare as they enter the dungeon from the sewers; after this, we rejoin Thal and Blakstar in the basement to which Tevvy’ thread has led them. . . .

 

Chapter 3, Part 2

When Klare climbed up through the grate, following her husband, she went straight to where Mistress Storga lay, hands glowing green. After she had passed her hands over the inert Mistress of Novices, she turned to Klaybear, who was standing by.

“You’ll need to give her some strength,” Klare said, “she is very weak, and we may still lose her.”

“I think she is too ornery to die so easily,” Klaybear noted as he knelt beside her head. He placed his green-glowing hands on Mistress Storga’s head; he drew energy from the air around him, channeling it into Mistress Storga.

“Don’t draw it from me!” Klare snapped.

“Sorry, dear.” After a moment, he spoke again. “That should be enough to get started, since we only need to stabilize her.” He lifted his hands from her head, and the green glow surrounding his hands winked out. “Then we should get out of here before anyone shows up.”

“What’s the matter, dear?” Klare asked. “Didn’t you like your cell?”

“Since I did not know where you were, and since they were going to deprive me of my life, no, I did not like my cell,” Klaybear replied grimly.

“At least this time, I’ll be there with you,” she said.

“That will be some comfort,” Klaybear said. “So, who would get to watch the other one die?”

“I was only teasing,” Klare pouted. “Now, see if you can move any of that rock, while I finish my work here.”

###

Blakstar stood with Thal at the top of the staircase, listening. “I hear nothing,” he whispered after a time.

“Let’s go in,” Thal whispered back.

The kortexi reached for his sword, but Thal stopped him.

“I think it would be better,” Thal began, “if you just knocked them out.”

Blakstar nodded.

“Besides,” Thal added, “it is so quiet in there, maybe you won’t have to,” he finished with a grin.

Blakstar grabbed and twisted the handle, pushing the door open carefully. They saw a small square room, with a door on the opposite side. Crates were stacked on either side of the room; some stood open. The kortexi stepped into the room, followed closely by the maghi. There was another door to their right. Seeing no one, Blakstar moved to the door and listened; after a moment, he opened the door slightly and looked in. He saw a staircase going up, and he heard the sounds of voices and movements overhead. He carefully closed the door and turned to Thal.

“Sounds like there are many people up there,” he whispered. “Let’s hope that Tevvy isn’t one of them.”

Thal shook his head. “I don’t think he could be,” he replied softly, “the line led up and straight east.”

“He could be higher up, then,” Blakstar noted.

“I don’t think so,” Thal said. “He felt very close. Let’s try that door.”

Blakstar nodded and moved quietly across the room, pausing again to listen at the door. “Sounds empty,” he whispered, then carefully turned the handle and stopped. “It’s locked,” he told Thal, troubled by the fact.

“Aah,” Thal said, drawing out the word, “a use for the thief.”

A spasm of anger gripped the kortexi. “Now is not the time for this,” he hissed. “How do we open this locked door without alerting the people upstairs?”

Thal pointed. “Use the key,” he noted.

Blakstar looked to where he pointed and saw a key hanging from a nail driven into the frame of the door. He took it and unlocked the door, replaced the key and slowly opened the door. This new room was even smaller than the one in which they stood, hardly more than a cell. He saw Tevvy hanging between two wooden pillars, gagged and eyeing them. Blakstar rushed into the room and pulled the gag out of Tevvy’s mouth.

“Help me get down,” Tevvy hissed.

“How did you get here?” Thal asked, noticing a figure crumpled in the corner of the room. “And what happened to him?”

“No idea,” Tevvy replied, “on both questions. I was following the soldiers’ tracks when somebody hit me over the head. I woke up hanging here some time later. A short time ago, he came in to question me, I assume, but his eyes went blank, and he fell where you see him there.”

Thal handed his dagger to Blakstar, then moved over to examine the fallen figure. The kortexi took the dagger and cut Tevvy’s bonds.

“Well, it cannot have been long,” Tevvy said, rubbing his shoulders, “I don’t feel much pain.” He looked up at Blakstar. “How long has it been since I left?”

Thal answered from where he knelt by the fallen figure. “Less than two hours, near as we can tell.”

“How is it that you are up?” Tevvy asked Blakstar.

“They closed the door,” the kortexi replied, “so Klare and I have had a full night’s sleep. Klaybear and Thal traded off, so only got half a night’s sleep each.”

“That room,” Tevvy said, shaking his head and now rubbing his wrists, “I’m still unclear about it, so I’ll just take your word for it.”

“Nor do I understand,” Blakstar replied, “so we are on the same horse.”

“He’s alive,” Thal said.

“I think he must be a black maghi,” Tevvy noted.

Thal nodded. “He might have been.”

“What do you mean?” Tevvy asked.

“I said he was alive,” Thal continued, “but his mind has partially unraveled, so when, and if, he wakes, he might not know who he is, let alone, remember his art.”

“How is this possible?” Tevvy asked.

“We should get out of here,” Blakstar noted, “before anyone upstairs notices that he has not come back up.”

“Or that I have not started screaming,” Tevvy added.

Thal seemed to ignore them. “I don’t have a very good mind for maps, Blakstar,” he began, “but you remember when you cut the green string connected to the morgle?”

The kortexi nodded.

“Isn’t this space,” Thal continued, “right along the line as we followed it back from the morgle?”

“What morgle?” Tevvy asked.

Blakstar ignored Tevvy. “I think so, if my reckoning is not far off,” Blakstar replied to Thal.

“And, it was about the time the string started to fade,” Thal finished, “so there could have been a connection here, which would mean that this person’s mind could have been attached to the morgle in the same way Tevvy and Klare’s were attached to Gar’s. But there was no one here to knot the pattern back together, so in his case, the pattern of his mind has partially unraveled.”

“It is no more than he deserves,” Blakstar noted, “for being a black maghi.” There was a bitterness in his voice that stopped Thal from replying, that caused Tevvy to look up at the kortexi in surprise.

“We’d better go,” Thal said.

“Before we go,” Tevvy said, “we should take a look at what is down here. Did you notice anything on the black maghi that might tell us what he is doing here?”

“I did not go through his things,” Thal replied.

“Blakstar,” Tevvy said, “you go stand by the door leading upstairs and keep an eye out for anyone heading down. Thal, you go take a look at what is in the crates, and I’ll check this black maghi for any clues.”

“You’re not planning on stealing any of his things?” Blakstar asked, suspicious of what the thief was planning; his hand went to and gripped the handle of his sword.

Tevvy shook his head. “Only if they are evidence,” he grinned innocently. “Now, go listen, and if anyone comes, warn us.”

 

Come back next week for another installment of our tale. In the meantime, purchase the full ebook version from Smashwords, or a print version from CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on September 13, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

12 September 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

Last week we saw a strange, ‘supernatural’ ship approach the Mariner’s ship, still trapped without wind, the strange ship’s crew containing only two members: Death & Death in Life:

 

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The nightmare Life-in-Death was she,

Who thicks man's blood with cold.

 

The naked hulk alongside came,

And the twain were casting dice;

'The game is done! I've won! I've won! '

Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

 

In the woman’s description, the first two lines promise real beauty–red lips & golden hair–with ‘free looks’, meaning in more modern terms, she was a wanton! But then, the third line describes her skin as (a simile) ‘white as leprosy’, and then names her ‘the nightmare Life-in-Death’. We learn the two are casting dice, and the woman wins the game at which she ‘whistles thrice’–an ominous and magical number! What has she won, this Life-in-Death? We soon learn that she won the lives of the Mariner’s crew:

 

We listened and looked sideways up!

Fear at my heart, as at a cup,

My lifeblood seemed to sip!

The stars were dim, and thick the night,

The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;

From the sails the dews did drip -

Till clomb above the eastern bar

The horned moon, with one bright star

Within the nether tip.

 

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,

Too quick for groan or sigh,

Each turned his face with ghastly pang,

And cursed me with his eye.

 

Four times fifty living men,

(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)

With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,

They dropped down one by one.

 

Their souls did from their bodies fly -

They fled to bliss or woe!

And every soul, it passed me by,

Like the whizz of my crossbow! '

 

The strange ship leaves, and the Mariner feels fear, sensing something bad is about to happen. Then a crescent moon climbs above the eastern horizon, with a bright star near one of its ‘points’, and the crew, all 200 of them, drop dead without a sound, although when their ‘souls’ leave their bodies, each passes close to the Mariner, sounding to him ‘like the whizz of [his] crossbow!’ Come back next week for another installment of the Poet’s Corner to learn what now happens to the Mariner, trapped in a calm sea with all members of his crew dead. Good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 3, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on September 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

8 September 2014

 

We return with the third chapter of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption, and find the chosen deciding to help the injured masters in the dungeon of Shigmar’s school, and seek Tevvy, so they must split up in order to cover more ground. . . .

 

Chapter 3, Part 1

Reconversion of the fallen orders requires subversion, and subversion requires persons inside the fallen orders and their cities; only through these agents operating within the fallen orders and their cities do we have any hope of bringing them back into the right path and worship of the true god of this world. . . .

 

from Chronicles of Eklor, First Series, Lectures of the True Sedra

Lecture by Sedra Eklor, atno of the order 10 (atno 78, standard reckoning)

 

“How can we find him?” Blakstar asked. “I was only given an elementary knowledge of tracking, not enough to follow the awemi through stone passages; we need a seklesi.”

Klaybear shook his head. “We have not the time to get one, or debate over what we should do.”

Klare picked up a pack from the shelf, and filled it with healing supplies from the shelf. “We need to go now,” she said.

Thal sat at the table of their sanctuary, tapping his new bracers with his left hand. He looked down at his verghrenum and spoke. “You two go . . . ,” he started to say, then stopped, looking closely at the white leather strapped on his right wrist. He noticed the large eye-shaped symbol of Melbarth embossed onto the top, then saw, for the first time, that there were smaller symbols of the others they had seen: a crown, a hand, a water vessel, and a dagger crossed with a key. He looked up. “Do your verghrenum have other symbols on them?” he asked.

“I never really looked at mine that closely,” Klaybear replied, “we were distracted at the time.”

“We have to go, now,” Klare said, an edge to her voice.

“What happens to your verghrenum,” Thal went on, ignoring Klare, “when I do this?” He raised his left hand, index finger surrounded by white light, and touched the small hand symbol.

Klare’s eyes went to her bracelets at the same time as her husband’s hand went to his one of his bracers.

“They feel suddenly warm,” Klaybear replied.

Thal looked at Klare. “And yours?”

“The same,” she replied, forgetting for a moment that she was leaving.

“Interesting,” Thal said. He moved his finger, still glowing, to the water vessel symbol. “And yours, Blakstar?”

The kortexi’s hand went to one of his verghrenum. “I feel it,” he said.

Klare shook her head. “Klaybear, we must go!”

“But this might help us,” Klaybear protested.

Thal had already moved his finger back to the hand symbol, touched it again, and said, “Klare.”

The bracelets warmed on Klare’s wrists.

“Do you feel anything?” he asked, looking at Klaybear.

Klaybear shook his head.

“I’ve got it!” Thal exclaimed. He still held his finger on the symbol.

“What?” Klaybear asked.

“Don’t you see it?” Thal asked.

“No,” Klaybear began, then paused, his eyes narrowing. “I see it–try it with Tevvy’s symbol.”

Thal nodded, lifted his finger, moved it to the crossed dagger and key symbol, then said, “Tevvy.” A white thread shot from Thal’s finger to the northeast. He lifted his finger and the thread winked out. He moved his finger to the crown symbol, said, “Delgart,” and a white thread shot just west of south, straight toward Holvar. He lifted his finger, touched the same symbol again and said, “Marilee.” White thread in the direction of Holvar. Again, and he said, “Rokwolf.” A white thread shot east and up. “That’s odd,” Thal said, “I though your twin brother was in Holvar: this thread points back toward the school of Shigmar.”

“That is odd,” Klaybear said. “I wonder what it means?”

“What are you two talking about?” Blakstar asked.

“Well . . . ,” Thal began, but Klaybear interrupted him.

“There is no time to explain,” Klaybear said. “We’ll go see to Mistress Storga. You two can go find Tevvy. As soon as we finish, we will move toward you.”

“How will you find us?” Blakstar asked. “And how do we find him?”

“I’ll explain as we go,” Thal replied.

###

Klaybear and Klare went south, retracing their steps back to the dungeon level of the school. Thal and Blakstar started north.

“Northeast?” Blakstar whispered.

Thal nodded. “He went to investigate the voices we heard somewhere near the center of the sewers.” His voice was muffled, having followed Klare’s lead in wrapping a cloth around his face. The kortexi’s face was uncovered.

“We should take the first passage east,” the kortexi whispered, “that should move us closer to the center.”

They soon came to a crossing passage, the way north bridging the western branch of the river and opening up; the crossing passage ran east-west, next to the underground river, but a wall separated the passage from the western branch of the river, giving them some cover. They turned and followed it, stopping as the passage teed. Blakstar looked carefully to the north, knowing that they must be near the center of the sewers. The north passage bridged the river next to the point where the western branch met the main branch of the river; he could see the central area.

“It looks empty,” he whispered back to Thal, then he crept across the passage to the wall, crouched, and looked over the low parapet of the bridge running north. He waved Thal to follow him, then, bending low, moved quickly and quietly to the north end of the bridge. Seeing no one, he signaled to Thal, who hurried up behind him.

“I did not think,” Thal’s muffled voice said, “that kortexem knew how to sneak around; isn’t that against your code?”

“Ha, ha, ha,” Blakstar whispered sarcastically, but he smiled. The central area was square, with a set of stairs going up at the center of the area; the main branch of the river flowed south from here, with branches going both west and east. The area was clear, so Blakstar slipped across to the west side of the stairs, crossing a passage going west next to the river. He looked carefully around the corner, and he saw passages going north and east. He signaled Thal, who moved to his side quickly.

“There are passages going both east and north,” he whispered. “Which way?”

Thal touched his finger to the symbol on his left bracer, whispered the awemi’s name, and pulled his finger off quickly. “North a little,” he said, “then east.”

“Good,” Blakstar replied. “The east passage is open, running next to the eastern branch of the river.” He looked again, to be sure there was no one, then moved into the northern passage. They followed it north until a passage turned to the east; they turned east, followed this passage until it crossed another north-south passage. Thal touched the symbol on his wrist, then nodded north.

“I think we are getting close,” he whispered.

“We must be under the northeast quarter of the city,” Blakstar replied. The kortexi looked carefully around and saw no one, so they moved north. The passage was short, ending in blank walls.

Thal touched the symbol again, whispering Tevvy’s name; he saw the white string go directly east, and up. “He is just above us, on the other side of this wall.”

“How do we get to him?” Blakstar asked.

Thal shrugged. “Maybe there is a way up, around here somewhere.”

They backtracked south, then turned to the east. They found a stairway going up, but the gate was locked and rusty; the dust on the stairs was undisturbed.

“I don’t think anyone has gone this way,” Blakstar noted.

“Maybe you could try your tracking skills,” Thal suggested.

“I’m not very good,” Blakstar protested.

“Just try,” Thal said.

The kortexi went back to the crossing, looking intently at the floor; it looked like there were tracks leading north. He turned that way, followed them, but then stopped about ten feet from the end of the passage. He looked up at Thal, who had been following him. “They end here,” he said.

“End?” Thal asked, “what do you mean.”

“They just stop.”

“Did they turn around?”

“I don’t think so, but there are tracks going both ways.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “You don’t suppose someone brushed them out?”

Thal stepped forward, hands glowing white. “Does it look like they turned either way, or continued straight?”

“Straight.”

Thal ran his glowing hands slowly over the north wall. When nothing happened, he turned to his left, running his hands carefully over that wall. Again, nothing, so he turned to the east wall, and the wall started to glow. Thal traced the outline of the teka, examined it for a moment, then touched a spot about chest high. A section of the wall slid back, revealing stairs going up.

“We are lucky,” Thal said.

“Why?” Blakstar asked.

“Whoever went through this door last was in a hurry,” Thal replied, “so he did not take the time to reseal it, and reactivate the teka trap protecting it.”

“Maybe they did at the other end,” the kortexi suggested.

“Only one way to find out,” Thal shrugged.

 

Come back next week for another installment of our tale to find out what is behind this secret door in the northeast corner of Shigmar’s 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 September 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

5 September 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

Last week, we saw the crew hang the dead albatross around the Mariner’s neck as a penance for his ‘hellish deed,’ the ship stranded without wind somewhere in the south Pacific. The Mariner, looking west, sees a ship, apparently tacking against the wind (although remember, the Mariner’s ship is trapped windless, so this should be a clue to the nature of the approaching ship!). Since all are dying of thirst, none can really say anything, but the Mariner bites his own arm, drawing and drinking his own blood so that he can speak, but there is something odd about the ship approaching, beyond the fact that it moves without the wind:

 

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!

Hither to work us weal;

Without a breeze, without a tide,

She steadies with upright keel!

 

The western wave was all aflame.

The day was well nigh done!

Almost upon the western wave

Rested the broad bright sun;

When that strange shape drove suddenly

Betwixt us and the sun.

 

And straight the sun was flecked with bars,

(Heaven's mother send us grace!)

As if through a dungeon grate he peered

With broad and burning face.

 

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)

How fast she nears and nears!

Are those her sails that glance in the sun,

Like restless gossameres?

 

Are those her ribs through which the sun

Did peer, as through a grate?

And is that woman all her crew?

Is that a Death? and are there two?

Is Death that woman's mate?

 

This strange ship passes between the Mariner’s ship and the setting sun (an ominous symbol for the Romantics) and its masts and rigging look like the bars of a dungeon: who is inside? Who is outside? And who are the prisoners? Worse still, the ship has only two members: Death and a woman, who is later named ‘Death in Life’ for reasons which will become clear next week! See you all then! Good reading.

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 2, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on September 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

1 September 2014

 

We return with the conclusion of Chapter 2 of Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption, and follow the chosen as they discover what happened in the dungeon of Shigmar after they left. . . .

 

Chapter 2, Part 3

Blakstar zoomed after the thicker, and still visible, white string, which was unraveling and fading. They flew again through the walls of Shigmar, through the city, and straight under the school, into the dungeon level. The string winked out as they entered the hallway leading to the cells, but they could see little, as the hallway was filled with dust and smoke. Blakstar moved them forward slowly.

Wait, came Klare’s voice, there is someone on the floor in front of the door.

Blakstar stopped and turned to see what Klare had noticed.

On the floor in front of the door out of the dungeon area, a figure lay just short of the door, coughing in the dusty air. Klare reached out with green-glowing mental hands to examine the fallen figure. The dust cleared slightly, and Klaybear identified him.

It is Ghreis Prokarts, his voice said, Master of Soldiers, and member of the Council. How is he?

Nothing serious, came Klare’s voice. What happened here?

Ghreis’s eyes widened, but then Blakstar heard his mental voice. Is that you, Klarissa?

Yes, she replied.

We used aneksaro to question the dead captain, Ghelvon, and his apprentice. When we enacted the orthek on Malkonik, something happened: a red globe of power came into being in his dead hands and exploded.

Who? Klare thought.

The Headmaster, Avril, Storga, and Wegex. They must be on the other side of the blast, although I fear for them. I think Avril dragged Myron into that strange side room, where you were. Who put you there? Ghreis thought to Klare.

Malkonik, she replied. Ghelvon was controlled by a kwalu.

Yes, Ghreis replied, we saw it hovering above the bodies, and thought it was responsible for the blast.

No, came Thal’s voice, I think it was a morgle who possesses the rod of Melbarth.

Who are you? came Ghreis’s voice.

Thal, son of Kalamar, white maghi, replied Thal. The kortexi, Blakstar, just severed a power link between the morgle and Ghelvon’s apprentice.

That must be why I, at least, am still alive, came Ghreis’s voice.

The morgle held open a door, Thal thought, that was allowing an army to pass through.

I notice your use of the past tense, Ghreis thought, are you implying that you stopped the army? How many got through?

It looked like only the vanguard, Blakstar thought, hiding behind the hill north and west of the city.

And you must be the kortexi, Sir Blakstar, Ghreis thought.

Yes.

And I suppose Klaybear is also with you? Ghreis thought.

Yes, Klare replied.

I would not let Storga or Wegex know that, Ghreis thought, they remain convinced of your guilt. You should move on and see to the others. I’ll send a detail here to begin clearing the rubble, and a company to attack the forces you saw.

Ghreis got slowly to his feet, leaning heavily on his staff, and went through the door. Blakstar moved them forward toward the rubble blocked passageway and into it, passing through to the other side. They passed the door to the guard chamber and saw a figure lying on the floor in front of guard room and entrance to the cells. Klare moved toward the body, mental hands glowing green.

It is Storga, she thought. She is alive, although badly injured and will need help soon.

Blakstar moved them into the guard room where they saw a second body on the floor near the grate through which they had escaped. Again, Klare moved forward with green-glowing mental hands.

Wegex is dead, she thought. We must go back and find Avril and Myron in the side room.

Blakstar moved them back to the rubble blocking the passageway, turning when all three of the others sent the thought to him. He moved to the right and into the small space that was Klare’s prison. They heard coughing.

Avril? thought Klare.

Avril is dead, Myron’s mental voice replied, filled with sorrow. He pulled me into this room, and he was between me and the wall when the blast struck us.

No! Klare’s mental voice sobbed.

Master? Klaybear thought, are you injured?

My right arm is broken in several places, his mental voice sighed, probably Avril getting back at me for breaking his arm when we were boys. How did you find us?

We have no time for that now, Headmaster, Thal thought, we found Master Ghreis near the door out of the dungeon; he was relatively unhurt. He left to send soldiers to begin clearing the rubble, and also, he went to repel the vanguard of an army north of the city, an army that appeared through a door opened by a morgle who possesses Melbarth’s rod.

Are you certain? the Headmaster thought.

Yes, Thal continued, we were all four awakened by the kortexi’s sword, humming. It appears that the three keys are connected to each other, so we followed the active thread and found the morgle holding a door open with a rod that can only be Melbarth’s. On the other side of the rubble, we found Mistress Storga still alive, but in need of immediate care; Master Wegex is also there but dead. I think we can get to her through the sewers, the same way we escaped the dungeon.

Where are you? Myron asked.

We are hidden in a secret chamber beneath the sewers, Thal replied, one that can only be entered using the kortexi’s sword as a key.

Is the awemi, Tevvy, there? Myron asked.

No, Thal replied. He went back into the sewers about an hour and a half ago to spy on some soldiers that we reasoned should not have been in the sewers.

He should have come back by now, Klaybear thought.

You let him go out by himself? Klare thought, after what happened to me?

Those were the instructions given by the One, Klaybear replied.

We cannot trust him, Blakstar thought, he is a thief.

A thief? Myron thought. No, he is a scout, and he was simply doing his job.

No, he admitted stealing things from people in the market of Shigmar, Blakstar thought, he must be punished. He has probably abandoned us.

I do not think so, Myron replied. His father and mother were both loyal to us; it is more likely that he has been captured by whoever is skulking around the sewers, which, I think, must be related to the attack on the city. The Headmaster paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully. There is no hint of evil in the awemi, if there were, I would have noticed it. You have to learn to trust him, Sir Blakstar. I can tell you from personal experience with his father and mother that he will save your life, using the skills for which you feel he should be punished.

But it is wrong! Blakstar protested.

Only in your world of absolutes, Myron replied. Is it wrong for the kortexem to murder people?

We do not murder! the kortexi exclaimed, appalled.

Do you not, as part of your job, deprive people of their lives? Myron thought.

Only those who deserve to die, for being evil and fighting against the good.

And how do you make that determination? Myron thought. How do you determine who deserves to die? Do you pause in the middle of the fight, asking a series of questions, carefully weighing the answers to decide if your opponent is evil and deserves to die?

There followed a mental snort. Of course not, Blakstar replied, we must fight and survive, in order for the good to survive.

So it is a case of kill, or be killed? Myron asked.

I suppose in battle it is.

So I ask again, is it not your job to deprive people of their lives?

Yes, he answered slowly, reluctantly.

And does the person want to lose his life?

Not usually.

So you are taking his life against his will, which is the definition of murder.

Yes . . . I mean, no. You are confusing me, Headmaster. I am not an intellectual.

I’m sorry to confuse you, but it is necessary that you understand why you must not punish Tevvy. Let me ask a different question. If you returned to Karble and showed your masters what is inscribed on your chest, what do you suppose would happen?

I don’t know.

What happened here, in Shigmar, where we are not so absolute as the kortexem, when the Council saw the marks more visible?

We were condemned to death.

So what would happen in the city of absolutes, the home of your order?

They would kill me.

The kortexi deflated; Myron reached out to Blakstar with his mental hands, surrounded by green light. The others followed the Headmaster’s example, reaching out to comfort him.

Are you suggesting, Headmaster, Blakstar thought, that there is no absolute good or absolute evil?

No, Myron replied, but it is dangerous to think only in absolutes. Look at what happened here in Shigmar. The Council, and many kailum, saw the marks on all of you and concluded you were all evil and should be destroyed. And yet, you fulfill all the signs of the prophecy: why else would Gar be expending so much energy and so many resources to destroy you? It is because he recognizes who you truly are, and he also recognizes the power of words and signs. What most fail to realize is that signs and words only have power to harm us if we give to the signs and words the power to harm us.

Huh? Blakstar thought, confused.

If we empower the word or sign, we attach significance to the sign; if the significance we attach is negative, then the sign becomes negative to us. However, it is not the sign itself that is negative, but the significance we attach to it. So, we harm ourselves by choosing to see a sign as negative, or evil, and so ultimately, we are harming ourselves; no one does it to us.

Yes, I see, master, Klaybear put in. I saw that happen in Klare’s mind, after we severed the compulsion placed there by Gar, himself. As I, with the help of the One and others, knit the pattern of her mind back together, I saw that the pattern had been subtly altered, and so no longer appeared to be the sign we associate with Gar, and evil.

What compulsion? Klare’s voice asked.

Nevermind, Klare, Myron thought. You have to go and help both Storga and Tevvy; I do not know how you will get past the soldiers that I am sure Ghreis has sent into the sewers looking for you.

Thal interrupted. I do not think he will send any. Before he left, he warned us against Mistress Storga and Master Wegex, saying he did not think they were convinced of our innocence, but that he was.

That may be true, Myron thought back, but do not trust anyone you meet, for I fear that very few, if any, will be convinced that you are anything other than evil. Send Klare, or Tevvy, if you run into anyone. We still have to get you out of Shigmar and on your way to collect the second key, and we have to do it before we are surrounded by hostile forces.

I need my horse, Blakstar thought, and the rest of my equipment.

We all need horses, Thal added.

When I get out of here, Myron replied, I will see if I can get them somewhere outside the city, near the waterfall.

We cannot get out that way, Headmaster, Thal said, the path has fallen away.

Then I’ll get them out and near our private entrance to Shigmar.

It shall be as you say, master, Klaybear thought.

Take us back to our sanctuary, Sir Blakstar, Thal thought, we have work to do.

 

Come back next week for another installment from our tale; we will return with the chosen to their sanctuary where they realize that they must search for Tevvy and help the injured in the dungeon. 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 August 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

29 August 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

Last week was saw the Ancient Mariner commit an evil, arbitrary act in killing the albatross that had led them from the ice; this week, we begin to see the consequences of this act. The crew vacillates between blaming the Mariner for killing the bird and lauding him for the same act. The ship is caught in the doldrums, a windless space which causes them to use up all their water, and we get the most often quoted verse of Coleridge’s poem:

 

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

 

Dying of thirst, and followed by a ‘spirit’ that haunts them, the crew finally decide to punish the Mariner for his “hellish deed,” hoping that a penance by the Mariner will release them from the doldrums:

 

Ah! wel-a-day! what evil looks

Had I from old and young!

Instead of the cross, the albatross

About my neck was hung.

 

This action by his shipmates is an attempt to shift the blame from themselves to the Mariner, in token of which they hang the dead albatross around his neck. The idea that this action–bearing the dead albatross–is a kind of payment for his crime, comes from the contrast: instead of a cross, a Christian symbol for the Savior’s death and a reminder of the death on the cross worn by some Christians, they give him the dead bird, an object which, by this time, must have become quite fragrant! It is a symbol of his evil act, to remind him again and again of his “hellish deed.” But this action does not appease the powers that hold their ship in the doldrums. Instead, the windless sea continues, and all members of the crew become more and more thirsty, until one day they see a ship in the distance, which is were we will take up the tale next week. Until then, good reading!

Staff of Shigmar, Chapter 2, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on August 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

25 August 2014

 

Welcome back for another installment of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar: Book 2 of The Redemption! We return to Blakstar, asleep in one of the rooms of their underground sanctuary, deep beneath Shigmar, where the kortexi is awakened by something unexpected. . . .

 

Chapter 2, Part 2

Blakstar woke suddenly, sitting up in bed. He had dreamed as before, disjointed images of the hooded, blonde girl, whose name he did not know, the two ponkolam, and the bony figure of Xythrax; he again found himself in the glade next to the Mountain of Vision, but the girl did not come to him there. He began to hear strange, echoing sounds, as if several people were shouting but their voices were muffled, their words incomprehensible. The marks on his chest and above his loins burned uncomfortably. A strange humming sound, growing louder, underscored and finally interrupted his dreams, waking him, a strange golden glow filling his mind; he looked around and saw Thal lying asleep on the bed next to his, golden light flashing feebly from the hilt of his sword and the golden topaz affixed to its pommel. The door to the room was ajar, and he thought he heard soft voices fall silent, but then remembered that Klaybear was alone, so the voices must have been leftover from his troubled dreams; he stood and quietly opened the door, looking out, and his eyes met Klaybear’s. The kailu was coming out of the hallway that led out of their sanctuary.

“What is it?” Klaybear asked, noting the concern on the kortexi’s face.

The door to the other bedroom opened, and Blakstar heard Thal stirring behind him. Klare looked out, meeting the eyes looking at her.

“Did you hear a sound?” Klare asked.

“What is that sound?” Thal’s voice asked from behind the kortexi at nearly the same moment as Klare.

“It started when I opened the door,” Klaybear said.

“It’s coming from over there,” Klare added, pointing at Blakstar.

“It is here,” Thal’s voice spoke at the same time as Klare, “in this room.”

Blakstar turned; his eyes went to where his sword in its scabbard leaned against the head of his bed and the dim light flashing within the depths of the pommel stone. Thal’s eyes had fallen on the sword at nearly the same time. The kortexi moved forward, grabbing the belt of his sword with his left hand, then grabbing the sword by the handle with his right; when his hand gripped the handle, the stone flared golden, filling the room and their faces with its now brilliant light. He looked over at the white maghi. “It’s my sword,” he said; “it’s humming.”

“Humming?” Thal said, puzzled. The sounds of rustling robes preceded Klaybear, and then Klare, entering the room, both frowning.

“And glowing,” Klare noted as she entered the room, covering her eyes with her arm.

Blakstar released the hilt and took hold of the scabbard, the glow diminishing, moving the handle toward Thal. “See for yourself,” he said.

Thal reached out and touched the hilt, causing the golden light to brighten, holding his hand there for several moments, before speaking. “I think it’s trying to tell us something.” He let his arm fall, and when his fingers no longer touched the hilt, the light dimmed again.

Klaybear and his wife moved closer. “The sword?” Klare said.

Thal looked up at the kailum. “It is an artifact of great power.”

Klaybear shrugged. “It’s possible.”

Blakstar was more puzzled. “My sword?”

Thal nodded. “Sit down on the beds.” Blakstar sat next to Thal; Klaybear and Klare sat on the other bed. “Now stand your sword in the center between us, so that we each can touch the hilt; you grasp it with your right hand.”

Thal’s request seemed odd, but he complied, recognizing that Thal probably knew more about teka-enhanced artifacts than he, the light brightening as each hand touched its handle.

“Now, Blakstar,” Thal continued, “immerse yourself in the sword; let your mind fall wholly into both the light and the sound.”

“Uh,” the kortexi said.

“Concentrate on the humming sound, and focus your vision on the pommel stone,” Thal said, “and exclude all other thoughts; imagine yourself falling into the sword.”

“It might help,” Klare noted, “if you allow your eyes to close once they are filled with the golden light.”

They sat quietly for several moments before the kortexi gasped: he had succeeded in switching his level of awareness to one wholly mental. He suddenly saw the sword surrounded by golden light; the floor of the room glowed softly white. He saw a light green string attached to his sword and going off to the north, and a bright white string, thick as a rope and vibrating, going off just west of north.

“What are . . . ?” he started to say, but the mental awareness started to fade as he tried to speak.

Just ‘think’ what you want to say, came Thal’s voice in his mind, and we will hear you.

What are these strings? Blakstar thought. And why is one green, one white, and why does my sword glow with golden light?

The color of the light, Thal’s voice said, indicates the kind of teka: the green is kailu teka, the white, maghi, and the golden, kortexi teka.

But we are not tekson, Blakstar thought.

He heard the sound of soft laughter in his mind. Surely you have seen other examples of kortexi teka, Thal’s voice said.

Blakstar remembered the golden glowing line that led him up the Mountain of Vision.

You see, came Thal’s voice, you have.

We can see your thoughts, came Klare’s voice, answering his question.

Right now, Thal’s voice, overriding the others, focus on the white thread and follow it with your mind’s eye, and we will follow you.

Blakstar felt his body nod, then moved his “mental eyes” along the vibrating white string. His mind seemed to leap forward through the wall, and passing through the stone brought to mind his journey through the stone of the Mountain.

Keep your mind on the white string we follow, came Thal’s voice, or else we could be trapped here.

His mind followed the white string up through the sewers, and he felt the others with him. They passed quickly through the ceiling into the city, passing through houses and still moving a little west of north, then through the walls of the city.

Slow us down, Blakstar, came Thal’s voice again, we are getting close.

They passed into a hill north and west of the city, the white line thicker and vibrating faster.

Other side of this hill, came Klaybear’s voice. Lift us up to the top of the hill, so we can see what is going on below.

Blakstar thought himself up, and watched the white string get small as they rose through the hill to its top. When they came out of the hill, he could still see the glowing white string passing among torches and going into a gray shimmering arch. The sky was still dark, although beginning to get pink in the east. The sounds of clinking metal and squeaking leather came from the area dimly lit by torches, but the archway caught his mental eyes, as he had seen this kind of archway before.

It is like the archway . . . , the kortexi began, but was stopped by a thought from Thal.

Softly, came his whispered thought, there are undoubtedly people below who can hear us, including whoever is wielding Melbarth’s rod. Move us carefully closer, so we can see who it is.

Blakstar started them moving, and, even though he had never entered this mental realm before, his combat training caused him to move toward the rod-wielder, as if he were physically moving from one piece of cover to the next. He stopped when they had a clear view of a creature, on the other side of the archway, holding to the ground a white-glowing, diamond-topped rod tinged with sickly green, keeping the archway open so that more creatures could pass through.

A morgle, came Thal’s voice.

The creature was tall, with skin that was deep green in the glow of the rod. The hands holding the rod had two fat fingers and a thumb, just visible below the sleeves of the dark robes it wore. Its head was large and bulbous, like a squid’s, with small black eyes, slits for nostrils, and tentacles hanging below the nose slits where the mouth of a human would have been. As the creatures passed through the arch and passed by the morgle holding the rod, Blakstar and his mental companions saw in the glow of the rod glimpses of ghelem, purem, an occasional red kailu, and black maghi.

Be ready to take us back quickly, came Thal’s voice.

Blakstar felt a rushing around him, as if some large creature were drawing breath, then the breath concentrated and flew toward the morgle holding the rod. The mental attack caught him by surprise, but morgle were one of the most proficient races in mentalics, so it managed to raise a shield against the attack, but it could do no more than hold the attack at bay. For several moments, Blakstar’s three companions poured mental energy into their attack, striving to breach the morgle’s shield, but it was too powerful to be overwhelmed in this fashion, and Blakstar could see it beginning to form a counter-attack.

What can I do? Blakstar thought.

Do you see the green thread going from the morgle toward Shigmar? Thal’s voice asked.

Yes, Blakstar thought, noticing the thread.

Your sword is still in your hand, Thal thought back, reach out with your sword and cut that thread. We cannot hold him much longer.

The kortexi felt his mental fingers raise his sword, glowing golden before his mental eyes. With a single swift stroke, he slashed through the green string going from the morgle into Shigmar. The morgle snarled as his shield began to weaken when Blakstar cut the white string; the kortexi saw the string begin to unravel swiftly, saw also that it was two strings, although one of them, much thinner and not diving so deeply under the city, faded before he could do more then take note of the direction. The morgle lifted the rod from the ground, the arch winked out, slicing any who were on its threshold in two, and he heard screams of pain suddenly cut off.

Quickly! came Thal’s voice, follow that string!

 

Come back next week for another installment of our tale, in which the chosen, traveling through the mental realm, discover where the mental string leads them. 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 August 23, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

22 August 2014

Poet’s Corner

 

As much as I’d like to ‘delude’ myself into thinking I could share the entire “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Coleridge here in the weekly poet’s corner . . . but that would go beyond the purpose of these posts: to share and talk about the poems and poets that have influenced my own writing. I must content myself with sharing excerpts, and leave it to my readers to read the “Rime” in its entirety. Last week, we saw the Mariner catch a wedding guest with his ‘glittering eye’, holding him in place to tell his story. He relates that the ship left port and headed south to sail around the tip of South America and turn north into the Pacific. Blown into the ice of Antarctica by a storm, the Mariner and his ship encounter an albatross, seen as an omen of good, who leads them from the clutches of the ice:

 

At length did cross an albatross,

Thorough the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.

 

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steered us through!

 

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariners' hollo!

 

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for vespers nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white moon-shine.'

 

'God save thee, ancient mariner!

From the fiends, that plague thee thus! -

Why lookst thou so? ' - 'With my crossbow

I shot the albatross.

 

The Mariner, and the sailors, befriend this bird, almost taming it, as it leads them away from the snow and ice, and then the Mariner, for no reason ever explained (although many critics have tried to reason it out), raises his crossbow and shoots the albatross. This evil, arbitrary act lands the ship and its crew in much trouble: the worst thing that could happen to a sailing ship is for the wind to stop blowing, and that is what happens to this ship–they are caught in the ‘doldrums’ for long enough that their supply of fresh water runs out, their food runs low, and they turn on the Mariner, hanging the dead albatross about his neck to remind him of his “hellish deed.” Come back next week for another edition of the Poet’s Corner. Good reading!


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