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Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 7, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on July 25, 2016 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

25 July 2016

 

Welcome back! In this week’s installment from the third book of The Redemption series, The Morgle Unmasked, we see more of the consequences of Thal’s choice, as the two of them barely escape at the cost of Melnar’s life. . . .

 

Chapter 7, Part 6

“Where will we go?” Thal whispered. “Is there somewhere safe inside of Karble. . . .”

Blakstar cut him off. “We cannot enter that way,” he noted.

Thal snorted. “Of course we can,” he said, “just think of a safe place. . . .”

“No,” the kortexi interrupted him again, “we must enter the city with the rising of the sun, after performing the peuaritum. Entry at any other time is forbidden.”

“We don’t have time . . . ,” Thal started to say but stopped and looked up, when both of them heard the sound they feared: someone coming down the passage.

Blakstar held his sword ready, then relaxed when he recognized the form of Melnar.

“I thought you would be gone,” Melnar whispered, “I just came to check: why are you still here?”

They glanced at each other without speaking.

“Oh,” Melnar said, catching from their silence their meaning, “you’ve been arguing again, haven’t you? About where to go, I suppose?” He sighed and moved closer to them. “You two have to get along; your very lives depend on it: is anything more valuable than your life? Then it is not worth arguing over; both of you need to let it go and move on. Now, open your doorway and get out of here, before . . . ,” but what he was going to say was lost in a whistling sound followed by a dull thunk, and the steel point of an arrow erupted, bloody, from Melnar’s chest. His breath hissed from his mouth, and he fell forward into the kortexi’s arms.

Thal’s rod flew into his hand, and his voice hissed, “pleugikel”; an ice arrow streaked from the tip of his rod past Blakstar’s shoulder and slammed into the archer who had just stepped around the corner, going straight through the archer’s chest; he slumped to the floor, eyes wide with surprise.

“Go!” Melnar gurgled, blood on his lips and tongue.

Blakstar sank with Melnar to the floor of the cavern.

Melnar grabbed his arm. “Kortexi!” he hissed, struggling to breath through the blood filling his lung, “must . . . forgive!” He released Blakstar’s arm and slumped onto the floor, coughing up more blood. “Never . . . saw . . . sun . . . rise,” the ‘s’ trailed off as Melnar exhaled for the last time. Above, the sounds of the skirmish were growing louder; someone was coming to see what had happened to the scout sent to investigate this gallery.

Blakstar closed Melnar’s eyes, then stood quickly; he strode to Thal, took the reins of his mount and tied them to the saddle horn of Thal’s mare. Turning, he started to draw the circle on the cavern’s floor with the point of his golden-glowing sword.

“Where?” Thal asked.

“No time,” the kortexi replied, finishing the circle and lifting the sword as high overhead as he could to form the arch. “Get ready,” he added, as the point touched the floor, the gray arch shimmered and turned black, but to their enhanced eyes, they could see shapes in the darkness. “Go!”

Thal dragged his mare forward, almost leaping through the arch; Blakstar thumped both mounts as they passed, then jumped through after. Bows twanged behind him, but the arrows were foiled by his chain shirt, bouncing off as he lifted his sword and closed the door; he staggered forward into a downpour, the breath knocked from him, and he just caught the stirrup of his saddle to keep from falling onto his face in the muddy road, the sword slipped from his hand, extinguishing its golden light and hitting the ground, splashing his boots with water and mud.

“Nice weather,” Thal started to say, then turned when he heard the sword hit the road. “What . . . are you injured?” he asked, hastening to him, robes already drenched.

Blakstar pulled himself up, drawing breath with difficulty. After a few moments, he managed to straighten himself up and his breathing eased. “A couple of arrows, foiled by my mail,” he said weakly, “but the archers were so close that the force of them knocked the breath from me,” he finished, looking around. “There is a stable over there, behind the hut,” he noted, his voice stronger. He stooped carefully to retrieve his sword.

Thal untied the reins from his saddle horn and handed them to the kortexi. “Are you certain you are all right?” he asked. “Klaybear gave me several potions . . . ,” he began, but Blakstar waved him off.

“I’m fine,” Blakstar said. “I’ll have some nice bruises,” he added with a shrug, then led his mount toward the stable and inside. Once they had removed saddle and harness and filled the manger, they carried the saddles and equipment into the moss-covered hut.

“I noticed that there is no place for this gear in the stable,” Thal said once they were inside. Several magluku flared to life as they entered.

Blakstar shook his head and pointed to stands inside the hut. “We must clean and polish them before morning,” he noted, placing his saddle over one of the stands.

Thal did the same and felt an instant surge of teka from the stone stand. He held out his hands and felt an aura of warm, dry heat now surrounding his saddle. “That’s convenient,” he said, “and it will save us some time.”

Blakstar only nodded and started to remove all the pieces of his plate armor from various parts of his saddle and placed them on the room’s only table, which was surrounded by several chairs. There was also a lavatory, several bunks, and some storage cabinets. . . .

 

Come back next week and see another argument between these friends, an argument that widens the rift between them. . . . Until then, get the entire text in ebook form, here, from the bookstore of your choice. If you prefer print, order your copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 22, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

22 July 2016

Poet’s Corner

 

Today we move to another of Tennyson’s masterworks, this one called “Ulysses,” which is the Roman name for Odysseus. We also introduce a new form, made popular in the Victorian era by Robert Browning–we will come to him later! This form is called the dramatic monologue. What we see in this, and other poems like it, is a single voice, not the poet’s voice, but the voice of the character, Ulysses. Tennyson borrows from Dante, who wrote of Ulysses, arguing (against Homer) that he never made it home; instead, he convinces his fellows to go on a voyage of discovery beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. Tennyson alters this to an old Ulysses, long from the sea, now aching to return. He begins by complaining of the travails of a king, trying to pass judgement between competing subjects:

 

It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

 

Now he turns to speak of his unquiet heart, missing the sea:

 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd

Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when

Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

 

This second stanza continues from here, but this excerpt should suffice to get us started. Notice the nostalgic recollection of his past, and how he misses those adventures, while he also recognizes the suffering. Those of us who are familiar with his story know that the entire ten years he traveled after the Trojan War, all he wanted was to return home to his wife and son, and he ends up being gone for twenty years. His son, Telemachus, who will appear later in this poem, was an infant when he left, a man when he returns. We will return to this poem next week. Until then, good reading!

Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 7, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on July 18, 2016 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

18 July 2016

 

We return to our tale, from the third book of The Redemption series, The Morgle Unmasked, as Thal tries to justify his actions, but Blakstar will have nothing to do with his equivocations. . . .

 

Chapter 7, Part 5

“I thought I might be able to dispel the nightmare,” Thal tried to explain, “but I need to know what it is before I can fix the pattern of your mind so that it won’t recur; I couldn’t discern one from the other, and before I could act someone else–someone came and stopped me–the voice–and she told me that the hunt was on, for us, the chosen, that Elker, I think that was the name she said, was at that moment sending his minions to take us. I wonder if she means Gar?” he asked himself. “Anyway, she also said that we were given the means to travel instantly from place to place to protect us from those who would capture and destroy us, and that we should use it to travel rather than the slow way, by horse, I suppose.” Thal noticed that Blakstar had not moved or spoken, and he knew that he should not have spoken of it. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I should not have looked into your mind; I only wanted to help.” He reached out to clasp the kortexi’s shoulder, but Blakstar pulled away, turned, and led his horse away from the ramp and Thal, stopping just at the edge of the lantern’s glow.

Thal sank where he was and waited for Melnar; neither gave any heed to the sounds of the caverns: the constant, echoed dripping of water, the clink of stone against stone, the muffled sounds of distant voices. After a few minutes, Melnar entered the opening and waited above until the door fully closed. He clambered down the ramp and looked at his two charges: one sitting on the ground near him, one standing in the distance at the edge of the light.

“What are the two of you sulking about?” Melnar asked, looking from one to the other.

Blakstar spoke without turning. “He admitted prying into my mind while I was sleeping,” he spoke in a cold voice. “I doubt that it is the first time he has spied on someone else’s thoughts. . . .”

Before he could say more, Thal interrupted him. “I would never . . . ,” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet, his face mottled, “have never spied on anyone’s mind! I have repaired broken, unraveling minds to save someone’s life without asking permission. . . .”

Blakstar turned and interrupted Thal. “I heard what she said to you,” he noted, voice getting louder, “she said you should not have been there, which means you were spying, and my mind was not unraveling!”

Thal’s mouth fell open, and he felt again the waves of guilt he experienced inside the kortexi’s mind and knew he was guilty; Blakstar’s voice echoed around the cavern, finally dying and leaving them in silence. Melnar, stronger than he appeared, grabbed the stunned maghi by the front of his robes and dragged him toward the unmoving kortexi, who he also grabbed and dragged toward him as soon as he was within reach of Melnar’s free arm.

“Have you two lost your wits?” Melnar hissed. “You’re worse than my two sons when teen-aged,” he stopped and looked around.

“What is it?” Blakstar whispered.

“Someone’s coming,” Melnar said, then he looked around again, “and more, from all around us.”

“Melnar?” a voice queried that sounded vaguely familiar, “is that you?”

“Billy?” Melnar whispered in the direction of the voice, the direction he had first looked.

“The same,” the voice replied, and a figure stepped into the light of the lantern, a nearly perfect but younger image of Master William; he stepped forward and clasped Melnar’s hand. “The watch has breached the caverns,” he hissed, and his voice sounded much like his father’s.

“I see now,” Thal said, “why your father did not want to send Blakstar to find you.”

Billy grinned and nodded.

“Is there no way to get these two out of the city?” Melnar asked.

“No,” Billy shook his head, “we’ll be lucky if we can get them out of the caverns to a safe house.”

“If we don’t leave here, right now,” Melnar added, looking in the direction of the sounds.

“Can you lead them away from us?” Blakstar asked.

Melnar looked at Billy and then shrugged. “Maybe for a short time,” Melnar said, “but you cannot find the way out.”

“We have our own way of leaving,” Blakstar noted, “if you give us some time.”

“How much?” Melnar asked.

“A minute ought to be enough,” the kortexi replied.

“Seriously?” Melnar asked.

Blakstar and Thal both nodded.

Melnar turned to Billy. “Which way should they go?”

Billy pointed. “If they move behind the ramp, back toward the center of town, we can lead them away.”

Thal picked up and handed the lantern to Melnar, who put out the light.

“May the One go with you,” Melnar whispered as the two of them left.

Thal mumbled a word, touched his own forehead, then touched Blakstar’s forehead; the white maghi smiled when he heard his companion’s sharp intake of breath.

“What did you do?” Blakstar hissed.

“Gave you pelwideno,” Thal whispered back, “which enables you to see in the lower light levels, the way some predators do.” He started in the direction Billy had indicated, moving carefully over the uneven floor. They could now see a fair distance in all directions and see the outlines of rocky pillars supporting the ceiling and the natural galleries going off all around them, but what they saw were shades of black, blue, and violet, dim and dark. What caught both their views were the blinding and flickering points of many torches moving toward them. “We’ve got to move,” Thal whispered, “and quickly.”

Both light and sound grew as the soldiers approached; they led their horses quickly around the ramp and found that this gallery sloped downward, and the stench of the sewers increased. Thal pulled his hood more tightly about his mouth and nose, glad that it had been many hours since they had supped. Once the passage descended and turned far enough, they stopped and looked back, listening and watching for any soldier who might have turned aside to scout this gallery. The muffled sounds of voices and marching feet suddenly changed to shouts and the clash of arms. Blakstar handed his reins to Thal and slid his sword slowly from its sheath as he moved a few steps up the way they had come. The muffled sounds of a skirmish continued but did not grow louder as if some were coming closer. Blakstar turned and came back. . . .

 

Return again next week for more of this tale as Thal and Blakstar begin to argue about where they should go, and the delay causes their new friend’s death. Until then, get the entire text in ebook form, here, from the bookstore of your choice. If you prefer print, order your copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 15, 2016 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

15 July 2016

Poet’s Corner

 

We return in the final stanzas of Tennyson’s “Morte D’Arthur” and remind all our readers that last time, we saw Arthur placed on the barge with the three queens. Following this, Bedivere laments that without the king, he has nowhere to go, and none to serve. Here is Arthur’s answer:

 

And slowly answer'd Arthur from the barge:

"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils Himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?

I have lived my life, and that which I have done

May He within Himself make pure! but thou,

If thou shouldst never see my face again,

Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend?

For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

But now farewell. I am going a long way

With these thou seëst--if indeed I go--

(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)

To the island-valley of Avilion;

Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,

Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies

Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard-lawns

And bowery hollows crown'd with summer sea,

Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."

 

Arthur tells his aggrieved knight that things are changing in the world, that nothing will remains as it was; he has live his life, and now asks Bedivere to pray for him, which makes sense from the Catholic view of Arthur & his knights, who believed that our prayers would redeem souls from Purgatory. Arthur goes on to tell his knight that because we are men, and not animals, we must lift our hands and voices in prayer. In the meantime, the king is off to Avalon (spelled archaically by Tennyson as ‘Avilion’) where it is always gentle summer, and where he will be healed. This final image recalls the legend that Arthur will one day return to restore his kingdom. Now the conclusion:

 

So said he, and the barge with oar and sail

Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan

That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,

Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood

With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere

Revolving many memories, till the hull

Look'd one black dot against the verge of dawn,

And on the mere the wailing died away.

 

The barge sails away, leaving Bedivere to contemplate his wretched state, marked as the ‘wailing’ dies into silence. Next time, we will begin looking at another of Tennyson’s poem on characters from mythology, the Greek Odysseus, although Tennyson’s uses his Roman name, Ulysses. Good reading!

Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 7, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on July 11, 2016 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

11 July 2016

 

In this week’s installment from the third book of The Redemption series, The Morgle Unmasked, we will watch as Thal and Blakstar, with the help of Melnar and Jake, enter the caverns beneath Komfleu, Thal finally admitting his offense against Blakstar. . . .

 

Chapter 7, Part 4

“We’ll need to distract the guard there,” Melnar whispered, pointing. One of the local soldiers paced in front of a merchant’s shop down the street from the warehouse. “They tell me he was recently added, by request of the merchant, who is a good friend of our thukro; a thief was running from the soldiers and hid on the rooftops. As he tried to crawl around the back side of the merchant’s building, to escape the soldiers combing the streets below in search of him, a weak section of the roof gave way, and he tumbled into the warehouse part of the building, knocked unconscious by the fall. The merchant was away on business, he claims, and the thief did not awaken until the next day, when one of the servants discovered him lying on a stack of sacks, filled with ruined wheat. The servant’s scream awakened the thief, who ran for his life, but the merchant claimed that the thief had purposely broken through the roof of his warehouse, leaked bodily fluids onto the wheat, ruining the entire shipment. He claimed the wheat a loss, received compensation from the Fereghen’s coffers for the wheat, then turned around and sold the wheat, doubling his profits.” Melnar shook his head. “Typical of how things work in this town.”

He turned to Jake, then whispered to him. Jake nodded, then melted into the darkness between the buildings.

“What did you send him to do?” Blakstar asked in a low voice.

“Sent him to throw a few stones onto the back of the merchant’s warehouse,” Melnar replied with a smile.

“Near where the thief fell through the roof?” Blakstar asked.

Melnar nodded. “All we need is enough time to get across the street and into the warehouse with your horses.”

“What is that place?” Thal asked, pointing to a tavern across from the merchant’s place. Thal had recovered slightly.

“Do you mean that inn, The Green Beast?” Melnar asked.

Blakstar looked to where Thal had pointed and noticed the placard hanging above the door, the green, familiar looking figure just visible in the flickering light of a lantern hanging over it. He looked back at Thal, who nodded to Melnar.

“It has a foul reputation,” Melnar said, “for cheap ale and missing persons.”

“What do you mean?” Thal asked.

Before Melnar could answer, they heard thumping sounds and saw the lone guard move quickly around the side of the merchant’s building. “Let’s go,” Melnar hissed, leaving the shadows between the buildings, where they were hidden, and hurrying across the street toward the warehouse; Blakstar and Thal followed, leading their mounts. By the time they reached the other side, Melnar had opened the larger front door allowing them to lead their horses inside; he pulled it hurriedly shut behind them. They waited in silence for a time to be sure no one had seen them, then Melnar moved to the back of the large warehouse past stacked crates to a place that appeared to be for loading and unloading large cargo from wagons. A block and tackle was attached to a beam overhead that could move up and down a track. Melnar took a large hook from one of the upright support beams, which was attached to the rope that ran up through the pulley and tackle system, then he hooked it to a large ring in the floor halfway between two of the side support beams. He moved to a second side support beam, directly beneath the crossbeam to which the center pulley was attached and pointed to the support beam opposite.

“Go pull that lever,” he said in a low voice, “it will, with this one, lock the crossbeam into place and allow us to open the door.”

“For someone who was blind until yesterday,” Thal noted while Blakstar went and pulled the other lever at the same time as Melnar pulled his, “you know quite a lot.”

Melnar grinned back at him. “Of all people, white maghi, you should know best that blind eyes do not blind the mind.”

They heard a door behind them open and close quickly. Blakstar reached for his sword even as Thal drew his rod, but it was only the innkeeper’s son, and both wethem relaxed.

Thal nodded to Melnar. “You are quite correct,” he said, “I do know that.”

“Blakstar,” Melnar said, “you should start turning that wheel behind you.”

The kortexi turned and saw the large wheel that would turn a series of gears and pulleys and lift the floor section that was the trap door. “Won’t that cause an awful lot of noise?” he asked.

“It would not be much of an escape route if it did,” Melnar replied.

Blakstar grabbed the handle on the vertical wheel and started to turn it; silently, the wheel turned ever faster, and the floor began slowly to rise. Thal led their horses over to where the trap door rose, so that he could lead them down into the caverns as soon as there was enough space.

Melnar looked around and whispered to Jake. “Go bar the doors.”

The boy nodded and scurried off between the crates to do as instructed. Melnar took a lantern from the wall, lit it, then ducked his head and started down into the darkness. As Jake returned, Thal led their two horses down the wide ramp and into the cavern below; the stench of sewage assailed him, so he hastily covered his mouth and nose with his hood.

“Not again,” Thal’s voice was muffled by the robe.

“The caverns are connected to the city’s sewers,” Melnar noted, handing him the lantern. “I’m guessing that is how these caverns were discovered.” Melnar climbed back up the ramp, and Blakstar came down a moment later.

“Where’s Melnar?” Thal asked.

“Helping Jake to close the trap door,” Blakstar said. “What happened to you back at the inn?” he asked.

Thal swallowed hard. “Right before Jake came, I . . . ,” he paused, looking around, “I heard a voice.”

“From another room?” the kortexi asked.

Thal shook his head. “Of course not!” he snapped. “That would not bother me; I could not discover the source of the voice. I first heard it inside . . . ,” he hesitated, “inside my mind, I mean, your mind.”

The kortexi’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”

“You were having a nightmare,” Thal went on, swallowing and blushing, “well, one dream and a nightmare, and I wanted to see what it was, to see if I could help, somehow; it’s one of my gifts, you know.”

Blakstar’s face went white. . . .

Next time the rift opened by Thal’s poor choice will widen, causing the death of one who aids them. Until then, get the entire text in ebook form, here, from the bookstore of your choice. If you prefer print, order your copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 8, 2016 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

8 July 2016

Poet’s Corner

 

First, we must send our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of the Dallas police officers shot in another lawless act. As we return to our poem by Tennyson, “Morte D’Arthur,” we remind our readers that last time we watched as Bedivere helped his king to the lakeshore, where he found a barge waiting to take Arthur away. . . .

 

Then murmur'd Arthur, "Place me in the barge,"

And to the barge they came. There those three Queens

Put forth their hands, and took the King, and wept.

But she that rose the tallest of them all

And fairest, laid his head upon her lap,

And loosed the shatter'd casque, and chafed his hands,

And call'd him by his name, complaining loud

And dropping bitter tears against his brow

Striped with dark blood: for all his face was white

And colourless, and like the wither'd moon

Smote by the fresh beam of the springing east;

And all his greaves and cuisses dash'd with drops

Of onset; and the light and lustrous curls--

That made his forehead like a rising sun

High from the daïs-throne--were parch'd with dust;

Or, clotted into points and hanging loose,

Mix'd with the knightly growth that fringed his lips.

So like a shatter'd column lay the King;

Not like that Arthur who, with lance in rest,

From spur to plume a star of tournament,

Shot thro' the lists at Camelot, and charged

Before the eyes of ladies and of kings.

 

The poet waxes eloquent here to describe Arthur’s state, so close to death, contrasting it with how he used to look, young and strong, the boldest of all knights, and the mourning of the three queens. Now Bedivere begins to lament, for he sees in Arthur’s death the end of Camelot (not to mention all who died in this last battle!):

 

Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:

"Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?

Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?

For now I see the true old times are dead,

When every morning brought a noble chance,

And every chance brought out a noble knight.

Such times have been not since the light that led

The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.

But now the whole ROUND TABLE is dissolved

Which was an image of the mighty world;

And I, the last, go forth companionless,

And the days darken round me, and the years,

Among new men, strange faces, other minds."

 

We can safely say that the brave Sir Bedivere is distraught by Arthur’s fall, wondering where he will go and what he will do now, with no King Arthur to lead him. Remember that this is the same knight who had to go to the lake three times before he was finally able to obey Arthur’s command and cast Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake. We will see the conclusion of this poem next time. Until then, good reading! And . . . may we all get along, instead of resorting to violence!

Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 7, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on July 4, 2016 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

4 July 2016

 

We wish all our readers a Happy Independence Day! May we never forget the sacrifices of the Founding Fathers to create our independent republic, creating a new form of government where the power emanates from the bottom up, from each and every one of us who is a citizen of this great nation!

 

We pick up our story as Master William’s son, Jake, bursts into the room of Thal and Blakstar, telling them the local authorities are coming to arrest them, for the help they have given to the poor of this city. Now they flee, with help from Master William and the blind man healed by Blakstar, Melnar. . . .

 

Chapter 7, Part 3

 

Blakstar was out of bed and dropping his chain shirt over his shoulders before Jake had caught his breath or fully entered their room; Thal still sat gaping, stunned from the disembodied voice he had just heard, trying to process the words that she, he suddenly realized, had said.

The kortexi belted on his sword, then stooped to pull on his boots. “How did they find out?” he asked.

“Wha-huh?” Thal stuttered as the kortexi finished his question.

Jake looked for a moment at Thal, surprised by the white maghi’s stuttering. He turned to Blakstar, who was also looking at Thal.

Blakstar stepped closer to his companion and put one of his large hands gently on Thal’s shoulder. “Are you all right?” he asked Thal.

The white maghi shrank back from the kortexi’s touch, as if startled by it; Thal turned and picked up his own belt with its many pouches then stood and wrapped it around his robe at his waist, buckling it into place. His movements were mechanical.

Blakstar raised an eyebrow, shrugged, then turned back to Jake.

“Father reckons one of the nobility,” Jake replied, “after being healed, went straight from the inn to the garrison commander and reported your activities.”

“How much time do we have?” Blakstar asked, still watching Thal, as the white maghi slipped his rod into his belt and picked up his saddle and tack.

“Barely enough to get you out of here,” Jake answered.

Blakstar picked up his own saddle and nodded to Thal. “How do we get out of the city?” he asked.

“Old Melnar will lead you to a warehouse in the west quarter,” Jake whispered as he led them down the hall, holding a lantern up to light their way. “There is a way to leave the city from there.” He led them quickly down the stairs, through the kitchen, out of the back door, and into the stables where Blakstar threw his saddle onto his steed’s back. Jake hung the lantern on a peg by the door and looked at Thal, who had stopped lost in thought just inside the stable. When Jake noticed Thal standing by the door, he went and took the saddle from the white maghi and threw it onto Thal’s mare.

When Blakstar finished cinching his own saddle in place, he glanced at Thal, then went to check on Jake. “This front strap has to be tighter,” he noted after leaning over, “horses will inhale more air while you are cinching the straps to keep you from getting them tight enough.” He slapped the mare’s side, then, when her belly shrank, pulled the strap a little tighter. The mare swished her tail at him and stamped her feet.

“I never knew,” Jake admitted, looking surprised.

Blakstar grinned. “Horses can tell when an inexperienced person handles them,” he noted, patting the mare’s neck, “then they pull out all their tricks, and you’ll end up on your bottom in a dung heap, or worse.” He scratched Thal’s mare between the ears; she responded with a look of wide-eyed innocence that made them both laugh. “Now, where is this Melnar?” Blakstar asked.

“Out the back way,” Jake replied. “Jon is watching the square in front of the inn; father is with Melnar.”

Blakstar nodded and moved toward Thal; the white maghi had not moved but stood with his face and mouth working.

“Something wrong?” Blakstar asked.

Thal opened his mouth, but no words emerged immediately. After a moment he shook his head, closed his mouth, and moved toward the stable’s back door but stumbled into his mare.

Blakstar took his elbow to stabilize him. “Are you sure you are all right?” he asked. “Maybe you should ride while I lead your mare,” he suggested.

Anger flashed in Thal’s eyes, then died as quickly as it appeared; he nodded once and leaned against his mare as Jake opened the door enough to lead his mare out; the kortexi followed.

Melnar’s clear blue eyes sparkled as he turned toward them. “We must hurry,” he hissed. He turned back to Master William. “We need Jake to go with us as far as the warehouse,” he whispered to William, “to cover the trap door after we three enter.”

William nodded then turned to his son and grabbed both his shoulders. “Be careful,” he whispered, “and do whatever Melnar tells you to, you hear me?”

Jake looked down and nodded. “I will, father.”

William released him and opened a sack at his feet, taking out leather boots for the horses’ hooves, passing them around. “Quickly, these will muffle the sounds on the cobblestone,” he noted.

When the boots were in place, Melnar led them out of the back gate; Blakstar walking beside him leading his warhorse, and Jake leading Thal’s mare, with the white maghi still looking perplexed, sitting astride the saddle. They heard a soft whistle, like the sound of a bird.

“That’s Jon,” Jake whispered.

“Go! Quickly!” William hissed, then he turned and entered the inn’s back door. . . . 

 

Next time, the truth will finally come out, as Thal will confess his indiscretion. Until then, get the entire text in ebook form, here, from the bookstore of your choice. If you prefer print, order your copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on July 1, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

1 July 2016

Poet’s Corner

 

Happy 4th of July weekend to all our readers! We remind all that last time, we saw Bedivere report what he had truly seen, which the king accepts, and now asks to take him to the lakeshore, before he dies:

 

But, as he walk'd, King Arthur panted hard,

Like one that feels a nightmare on his bed

When all the house is mute. So sigh'd the King

Muttering and murmuring at his ear, "Quick, quick!

I fear it is too late, and I shall die."

But the other swiftly strode from ridge to ridge,

Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walk'd

Larger than human on the frozen hills.

He heard the deep behind him, and a cry

Before. His own thought drove him like a goad.

Dry clash'd his harness in the icy caves

And barren chasms, and all to left and right

The bare black cliff clang'd round him, as he based

His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang

Sharp-smitten with the dint of armed heels--

And on a sudden, lo! the level lake,

And the long glories of the winter moon.

 

Then saw they how there hove a dusky barge

Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern,

Beneath them; and descending they were ware

That all the decks were dense with stately forms

Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream--by these

Three Queens with crowns of gold--and from them rose

A cry that shiver'd to the tingling stars,

And, as it were one voice, an agony

Of lamentation, like a wind, that shrills

All night in a waste land, where no one comes,

Or hath come, since the making of the world.

 

Here Bedivere carries the wounded and dying Arthur to a different part of the lake, passing through caves filled with ice and cold. Notice how the poet draws attention to this fact by adding sounds to their progress: the clashing of harness, the sharp sound of armored heels striking the stone floor. All of a sudden, they reach the shore and see the black barge waiting for Arthur. The deck is covered with people hooded and cloaked in black, along with three crowned queens. This group is already singing laments for the passing of King Arthur. Next time, we will see what Arthur does and says. Until then, good reading and enjoy the fireworks!

Morgle Unmasked, Chapter 7, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on June 27, 2016 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

27 June 2016

 

We return to our tale, the third book of The Redemption series, The Morgle Unmasked, as Thal enters–wrongly–Blakstar’s nightmare, learning something about his companion that he does not expect. . . .

 

Chapter 7, Part 2

 

Thal stood in a fire blackened wood, surrounded by the broken, twisted, and burned remains of trees, all of which appeared to have been pushed in the same direction by some force. A hot, black wave of force slammed into him, filled with shrieking voices, and he knew at once that the force was wave after wave of tortured guilt, which was what had broken, twisted, and burned the trees around him. Flicker. As suddenly as he had stepped into the fire blackened wood, he was plunged into total darkness and absolute silence. Flicker. Light and sound returned, and he thought he was in the same burned and twisted forest, but there were no longer waves of tortured guilt crashing into him; he could hear voices, but the sounds were muffled and echoed strangely, coming from the same direction as had the waves of guilt. He could, now and then, catch glimpses and flashes of light among the twisted trunks, also in front of him, and so he slowly tried to make his way in that direction, tripping every step over roots and broken branches hidden in the darkness. Flicker. He was plunged again into darkness and silence, and when light and sound returned, the waves of guilt slammed into him again; the tortured screams pierced his ears. Struggling again to his feet, he noticed that the formerly white light now flashed red, and in the red flashes he saw that his robes were torn and spotted with some dark substance that covered the ground. Flicker. Darkness and silence. Flicker. White light and the mumbling voices; he made his way forward toward the light and sound, carefully placing each foot so as not to trip over the wrack of splintered and broken branches littering the ground. As he reached the edge of a glade–the source of both light and sound–his eyes were drawn to the three figures, and he stumbled, falling to the ground. Flicker. Choking darkness and empty silence. Flicker. He tried to stand but blasts of black guilt smashed him into the broken trunk of a blackened tree at the edge of the glade, pinning him in place against the broken stubs of branches that pierced his robes and skin; he stood at the edge of a clearing where a bonfire roared. Black- and red-robed figures moved around the flames; the figures took no notice of his sudden appearance at the edge of the clearing. He looked down and saw his robes shredded and stained with both soot and blood, neither black nor red; he felt as dirty as his robes. Flicker. Darkness gripped him; silence roared. Flicker. He stood at the edge of a clearing filled with light; three figures were there, one of them Blakstar, his hands held up and forward in a placating gesture, a white-robed figure stood just behind the kortexi’s left shoulder, the figure’s face overshadowed by his hood; the third stood facing the others, black-robed and obviously female, golden hair spilling out of her hood; she was backing away from the other two, and Blakstar moved slowly toward her. They were speaking, but their voices still sounded muffled and indistinct. Flicker. Strangling darkness and silence. Flicker. He was back in the fire blackened forest and glade, pinned to a tree by waves of tortured guilt. Near the fire, he saw a trunk bent almost parallel to the ground, a figure tied on top of it, naked, dripping blood from the many wounds caused by the broken and splintered stumps of branches of the bent trunk beneath the figure; he noticed all the trees were bleeding. Two of the red-robed kailum held a blonde wetha over the bent trunk–the same female of the other dream–eyes covered, hands tightly bound, worn black robe pulled open showing the whip scars all over her naked body, along with a freshly-cut mark, still bleeding, on her belly just above her loins, a mark he recognized at once as the same that Klaybear had burned into his palm and forehead, a similar mark scratched into Blakstar’s his chest and loins, and he knew at once who lay bound to the bent and broken trunk. The blonde wetha was screaming at her captors, Let me. . . . Flicker. Empty silence and darkness. Flicker. Three figures in a glade filled with white light, speaking, the female’s voice suddenly became clear as she continued to move back from Blakstar’s outstretched hand. How do you . . . how could you. . . . Flicker. Deadly darkness and choking silence. Flicker. Fire blackened clearing. Her voice continued . . . see him! echoing above the tortured screams; a ponkola stood beside the captured kortexi, laughing, with blood dripping from the claws of one hand, and Thal knew that she had inscribed the marks in both of them. The figure standing to Blakstar’s left also laughed, sounding of dry bones clanking together, and he guessed that it must be Xythrax. The blonde wetha was pulled away and vanished, and Thal guessed what was coming, but he could not tear his eyes away, even as the ponkola threw one, long and shapely leg over the trunk and the figure tied there, and the kortexi struggled to free himself, howling in rage, wave after wave of black guilt crashing into Thal where he stood pinned against the tree, feeling more guilty than the waves slamming into him.

You should not be here, a voice came into his mind. Flicker. He was plunged into empty darkness.

Wha-huh?

You should not be here, the voice repeated, and he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Flicker. The darkness dissolved around him and reformed into their room in the inn. Thal felt his cheeks grow hot, looking down at his sleeping companion; he reached out with his right hand. “I should have dispelled the nightmare, not tried to induce it,” he whispered, still tasting blood and guilt although no longer inside the kortexi’s nightmare, “but there were two, and I was confused by what was happening to him,” he added in an effort to justify his actions.

“I already have dispelled the one,” a musical voice replied from behind him, “but the girl refuses to enter the other.”

He turned quickly to see who had spoken but saw no one. “Who are . . . what do you mean?” Thal stammered.

But whoever had spoken ignored his question. “The hunt is on,” the voice went on, almost singing. “You chosen cannot afford to stay in one place too long; you cannot even travel in the same slow way that others do.”

Thal kept turning his head, trying to discover the source of the voice and the speaker, but the phantom kept moving, just beyond his sight; he saw no one.

“Thus,” the voice continued, “you have been given the means to move instantly from place to place. Even now Elker reaches out with his minions to trap you in his hand.”

Thal felt something brush him gently, like the soft touch of a cool breeze on a hot summer night that energized him in the same way as drinking the Waters; Blakstar stirred next to him and sat up, looking around. Before either of them could speak, they heard footsteps running down the hall, and the door to their room burst open.

Master William’s son, Jake, looked surprised to see them both up and looking at him, but quickly caught his breath. “You must leave, now!” Jake exclaimed. “They are coming for you!” . . .

 

Next time we will see the consequences of this poor choice of Thal when Blakstar learns what his companion has done. Until then, get the entire text in ebook form, here, from the bookstore of your choice. If you prefer print, order your copy from https://www.createspace.com/4526375" target="_blank">CreateSpace. Good reading!

Friday Poet's Corner

Posted by gwermon on June 24, 2016 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

24 June 2016

Poet’s Corner

 

In last week’s post from Tennyson’s “Morte D’Arthur,” the brave Sir Bedivere finally did as King Arthur had commanded, casting the sword into the lake from whence it came; this week, we see Bedivere answering Arthur’s question, reporting what he saw:

 

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:

"Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems

Should blind my purpose, for I never saw,

Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die,

Not tho' I live three lives of mortal men,

So great a miracle as yonder hilt.

Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him;

But when I look'd again, behold an arm,

Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,

That caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him

Three times, and drew him under in the mere."

 

And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard:

"My end draws nigh; 't is time that I were gone.

Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight,

And bear me to the margin; yet I fear

My wound hath taken cold, and I shall die."

 

So saying, from the pavement he half rose,

Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm,

And looking wistfully with wide blue eyes

As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere

Remorsefully regarded thro' his tears,

And would have spoken, but he found not words,

Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee,

O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands,

And rising bore him thro' the place of tombs.

 

I always find it significant the Bedivere tells his king the he “closed his eyes” so the swords pretty hilt did not again beguile him. His answer satisfies the king, and now he asks his loyal knight to take him to the lake, for across the waters lies Avalon, and Arthur worries that he will die before he can reach there. Next week, we will continue with this poem of Tennyson, going with Arthur and Bedivere to the mystic lake. Until then, good reading!


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