|Posted by gwermon on July 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
3 July 2015
I feel it is appropriate, as this weekend marks 239 years since our ancestors declared themselves independent of the Crown and British Empire, to deviate from Coleridge and consider what we commemorate every 4th of July. Considering all that has happened recently, I think it wise to remind all that the reason these ancestors of ours left Europe and Britain was for freedom, the freedom of conscience and the free exercise of religion. Many of those first colonists were groups of persecuted religionists who left Europe to escape censure because of their beliefs. The free exercise of religion–no matter what one’s religion is, and I would define it broadly as any ideology professed and followed by one or more persons. What this means is that, not only traditional religions–Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.–but also Atheism, Secular Humanism, and Liberalism, ideologies so prevalent in our society today, fall under this broader category of religion, and all are protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Let us never forget that all are protected by the Bill of Rights; any policy, law, or judicial decree that limits these rights is unconstitutional, no matter the entity that declares it legal. We too soon forget the principles on which our government was founded, and it is good to remember, and study, what those who instituted our government, our Founding Fathers, said and wrote concerning these rights. A good place to start (after the three founding documents–Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights) is the “Federalist Papers,” written to defend and argue for the new constitution, elaborating on the principles behind the Constitution.
As a reminder for all, I point all my readers back to the beginning of 1776, when the idea of independence was still not at the front of people’s discussions: the leaders of the colonies were still trying to be reconciled with England and the King. It was only after a small tract was published “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine, a recent immigrant from England, that our ancestors began to consider independence from Britain. In its day, this tract by Paine was what we would call a ‘best-seller,’ read by most of the people of that time. Many have since called Paine a “loose cannon,” a political radical bent on anarchy. He was, however, the right man at the right time, and his words altered the way our ancestors saw their future. I have often been struck by how one person, in the right place and time, can change the course of the future, which in this case led us to become our own nation, governed by the people. I wrote the following short poem to illustrate and commemorate this turning point in our history:
I stood at the crux
public feeling in flux
patriots still toasting
the monarch unknowing
his mind not in balance
tilted wholly by malice
I fresh from our Mother
saw the excess of Father
my words were just Common Sense
then all chose independence.
May we always remember the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us to create, maintain, and preserve our freedoms! Happy birthday America! Good reading.
|Posted by gwermon on June 26, 2015 at 1:55 PM||comments (0)|
29 June 2015
We return with another installment from the second book of our epic, Staff of Shigmar, as we meet one of the characters inhabiting this realm, the realm of air, that Thal, in our last installment, called a myth. Also, stay tuned for an announcement at the end of this blog post!
Chapter 15, Part 4
“So,” Blakstar began, “why did you call it a myth?”
“He is named Felorno,” Thal said, “and, according to legend, he is the messenger of the Lord of Air, Wethkuro.”
As they spoke, other creatures of this realm flew or floated past, all croaking or piping the same word they had heard from Felorno, “gheusum.” They heard it repeated over and over, although the voices varied greatly. Most resembled the flying creatures with which they were familiar: from small starlings and finches to large hawks, eagles, and the lonely albatross. Some resembled horses, although their hooves never touched the ground: the white and silver kerono with a single long horn in their foreheads; the markornem with their wings and colors like great hawks or eagles, and the ekludem, larger than the kerono, with a pair of horns and shining golden coats and long manes, flashing brilliantly golden in the bright light. There were also huge, wethi-like creatures: the moroskum, white and wispy, made from the clouds, with voices that whispered like the gentle breeze, and the potiethro, largest of all the giant wethi-like creatures, made from dark storm clouds, with voices that rattled like thunder. Three aperum, a gold, a silver, and a copper, flew straight toward them from dead ahead, flying over their heads and diving behind and beneath the stone circle. The three hissed as they passed overhead. “Gwemo! Gheusum de Eli!” When the three emerged from beneath and in front of the circle, they were attached to huge harnesses, the gold in the center and out front, the silver just behind and right, the copper just behind the silver and left. The stone circle moved smoothly forward, pulled by the three aperum.
As the stone circle moved forward, Thal, for the benefit of Tevvy, named and described the different creatures of this realm. Felorno soon returned, landing on the circle and giving them a deep bow.
“Welcome, chosen of the One!” Felorno said, his voice high-pitched and croaky. “I bring you greetings from the ruler of this realm, Lord Wethkuro, greatest of the potiethro, master of the storm. We will escort you to his presence, where he desires to speak . . . ,” Felorno paused, looking at Tevvy. “What is wrong with your awemi?” he asked.
“He was blinded in the ice realm,” Klaybear replied.
“And you cannot heal him?” Felorno asked, surprised.
“My wife is the healer,” Klaybear said, “but she did not come. . . .”
“She was not supposed to come with you,” Felorno interrupted, “only the three of you and your klitodweri could have entered this space.”
“Neither I, nor the Waters of Life,” Klaybear went on, “could heal him, although the Waters returned his vision, but only for a few seconds before the milky white color and blindness returned.”
Felorno shook his head. “This is wrong,” he said simply. “I must consult with my lord; I will return in a few minutes,” he finished, turning and taking flight.
Thal and Klaybear exchanged a look.
“What did he mean, wrong?” Tevvy asked.
“I would guess,” Thal replied, scratching his chin, “that your blindness is wrong.”
“It sounded to me,” Klaybear added, “like we should have been able to heal you, and the fact that we could not is wrong.”
They fell silent for a time, Blakstar watching the creatures of air that continued to pass near the stone circle, still chirping, singing, or croaking the same word. Tevvy sat on the stone, unmoving; Klaybear stood beside him. Blakstar stood at the forward edge of the circle, watching the aperum; Thal started pacing back and forth across the circle, mumbling to himself.
“He returns,” Blakstar noted after a few minutes of silent watching.
Felorno landed again on the circle. “Stand, Tevvy of the awemi, and hold perfectly still. We must draw the poison from your eyes.” Felorno looked at Blakstar. “Have the Waters ready,” he noted, turning back to Tevvy. Felorno reared back on his hind legs, lashing out with his talons. Simultaneously, a single claw from each talon pierced Tevvy’s milky-white eyes. Tevvy gasped, but did not cry out in pain.
The others moved forward, shocked by what Felorno had done. “What . . . ?” Klaybear started to exclaim but stopped and Blakstar saw white fluid draining from the awemi’s eyes and trickling down his cheeks; his eyes slowly cleared, and when the liquid running from his eyes cleared, Felorno called for the Waters.
“Now, Sir Blakstar,” he said, “pour the Waters into his eyes.”
Tevvy tilted his head back and the kortexi poured the Waters into Tevvy’s eyes; white steam hissed from eyes and cheeks as the Waters touched the chalky white liquid. Tevvy’s eyes returned to their normal color, and Blakstar could see, once all traces of the white liquid had steamed out of Tevvy’s eyes, the puncture wound in each seal itself.
Tevvy’s face brightened. “I can see!” he exclaimed, and took a step back, seeing, for the first time, Felorno. He bowed. “Thank you, for healing me,” he said to Felorno, although his voice shook.
“You should thank my Lord, Wethkuro,” Felorno responded, “for I was acting on his instructions.”
“Did he tell you how this happened?” Klaybear asked.
“He did not know,” Felorno replied, “but he suspects that Gar must have had a hand in it; the blindness from the ice plain would have healed in time. What happened to Tevvy was something more, and Gar seems to have subverted the lord of that realm.”
“Which also happened in the water realm,” Thal added.
Felorno nodded his beaked head. “That is what my lord was told.”
“By whom, if I may ask?” Klaybear said.
“A messenger from the One,” Felorno replied. “She arrived as I did, bringing word to my lord and knowledge of your circumstances, along with how to heal your klitodweri.”
“Is that where we are going?” Blakstar asked, pointing ahead.
Next week we will see the citadel of air, where the rulers of this realm reside. Until then, get your copy of the entire text from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers; or, if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace today!
Now, we have two announcements related to this, The Redemption series. The first is that we are in the process of recording the first book in this series, Chosen of the One, as an audiobook; we will share samples here on our website as these are finished. Second, we have a draft of the cover for Book 5, Xythrax’s End that we now share with you. Again, we express our admiration and gratitude for our cover artist, Sarah Cosico, who had to take an extended break for family reasons, and is now back with another incredible cover. If any of you will be attending the Salt Lake Comicon in September, look for her booth in the artists’ section and tell her how much you love her covers (and other artwork!).
|Posted by gwermon on June 26, 2015 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
26 June 2015
We greet all as we continue our analysis of Coleridge’s unfinished, supernatural poem, “Christabel.” Last week we commented on what Christabel actually saw in Geraldine, and what it might mean, particularly the fact that one of Geraldine’s ‘spells’ prevented her, or her father, from seeing Geraldine as she truly is–a supernatural creature, or a witch. Now we continue as Christabel insists that a messenger be sent at once to Geraldine’s supposed father:
Yet he, who saw this Geraldine,
Had deemed her sure a thing divine:
Such sorrow with such grace she blended,
As if she feared she had offended
Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid!
And with such lowly tones she prayed
She might be sent without delay
Home to her father's mansion.
Nay, by my soul!' said Leoline.
'Ho! Bracy the bard, the charge be thine!
Go thou, with sweet music and loud,
And take two steeds with trappings proud,
And take the youth whom thou lov'st best
To bear thy harp, and learn thy song,
And clothe you both in solemn vest,
And over the mountains haste along,
Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,
Detain you on the valley road.
We note first that Christabel’s father, the Baron, does not see through the illusion Geraldine presents, and so he sees her as heaven sent, an angel come to grace his household with her divine presence. On the other hand, Christabel, who has had glimpses of Geraldine’s true nature, insists that her father send a messenger at once, to which the Baron readily agrees; we must point out that his reasons are much different from his daughter’s–the one motivated out of a lost friendship and concern for the daughter of his former friend, while our heroine desires to get Geraldine away from her person as quickly as possible. We then meet the fourth, named character, Bracy the bard, the court musician, who is sent with the message of Geraldine’s rescue. They are to go with music, to show their intentions are peaceful, dressed in their finest, and with the bard’s best apprentice–this is “the youth whom thou lov’st best.” To the music and the dress, the Baron adds “a somber vest” to indicate to the wandering folk–the gypsies, no doubt–that their embassy cannot wait or be delayed. We will see next week that this leads directly into Bracy’s embassy, as the Baron’s directions, quite smoothly, change to the bard on the road. Until then, good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on June 19, 2015 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
22 June 2015
Here we are again, with more from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar, as we discover the next realm through which our heroes must pass in order to recover Shigmar’s staff.
Chapter 15, Part 3
“Of course!” Thal exclaimed. “This is like our chamber beneath Shigmar!”
“What do you mean?” Blakstar asked. Klaybear still stared at the space where he had seen Klare through the doorway.
“That this tomb moves in a different time than the world outside,” Thal replied.
“Which is why,” Klaybear said, at last looking up, “the supplies in the crates appeared to be new, even though more than three millennia have passed since the time of Shigmar.”
“Yes,” Thal said, broadly, “time, in the tomb, has moved very little since the beginning, and I would bet that time here only moves when someone is present, so we will find, when we leave, that seemingly no time has passed outside.”
Blakstar was shaking his head. “That cannot be right,” he said.
Thal looked puzzled. “Why not?”
“The color of the sun,” Blakstar replied.
“What?” Thal asked.
“We entered at sunset,” Blakstar said, “and it looked like it was right before dawn where Klare is.”
Thal opened his mouth, then closed it suddenly. “I don’t know why that would be,” he said after a time.
Blakstar shook his head again. “It does not matter,” he said, then added, “right now. Right now we only need to decide on what to do with him,” he finished, pointing at Tevvy.
“I think we have to take him with us,” Thal said. “I do not think the teka of this place will allow us to go forward without him. Besides,” he added, “we have only one more elemental realm to pass through; we should be nearing the end.”
“And when we are attacked?” Blakstar objected. “What then?”
“We will do as we have done,” Klaybear said, “meet it and defeat it, whatever it is. Thal is right, the teka of this place requires us to take him along.”
Blakstar nodded. “Where next?”
“Air,” Thal replied, “the only realm we have not visited.”
Blakstar turned toward the archway to see if Thal was right.
“Open, fortified high places made from mist,” Thal translated, “evil threats their favorite prey, tearing bodies, hearts, and lives,” he finished.
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Tevvy noted.
“We are not evil,” Blakstar said.
“Oh, right,” Tevvy said. “Does that mean we won’t be attacked?”
“Are you sure it’s air?” Blakstar asked.
“Pretty sure,” Thal replied, “the fortified high places.”
“Aeries,” Klaybear said. “Those are all words used when speaking of birds of prey.”
“Or pirates,” Thal added, “but since it seems to be about birds, I chose words that related to them rather than pirates.”
“No one answered my question,” Tevvy noted.
“It does not sound like we will,” Thal replied, “although Gar has corrupted many air creatures, like the aperum, and employed them in his service.”
“But there are good aperum,” Blakstar put in, surprising the others, “I met some of them on the Mountain of Vision; they rescued me when I fell, and carried me to the top.”
Thal smiled. “All of Gar’s creatures are corruptions of the One’s creatures, so there are ‘good’ versions of them.”
“However,” Klaybear put in, “this is a test, so I’m reluctant to claim that we will not be attacked.”
“True,” Thal retorted, “but ‘test’ is not the right word, since its ultimate purpose is to prevent anyone but us,” he pointed at all of them, “from reaching the staff, so we might not be attacked.”
Blakstar shook his head, slamming his sword into its sheath. “Again,” he said, “this discussion is a waste of time, since all we need to do is move forward,” he finished, pointing to the arch.
Thal laughed; Klaybear smiled. The white maghi turned and bowed with a flourish to Blakstar. “You, my friend,” he laughed, “are quite correct. Let’s gather up the rest of our equipment, weapons, and armor.” Once they had replaced their supplies and strapped their armor back on, Tevvy making a fuss about where all his tiny bottles went in his pouches, Thal touched the symbol for air, %, and followed Blakstar through the arch; Klaybear took Tevvy by the arm and stepped through.
As with the other elemental realms, Blakstar landed on a stone circle, much smaller than all those others, surrounded by bright blue sky, both above and below the stone circle, which did not have any visible support. Thin, wispy clouds floated lazily by. As his feet touched the stone, a gong sounded from somewhere beneath them; in the far distance all around them, he could just make out tiny specks moving. Birds of all sizes fluttered past; the sounds of their singing filled his ears. The air smelled fresh and clean, like the air after a violent summer storm. A dark speck, straight ahead of where he stood, came racing toward him, growing larger by the second, looking like a great, winged creature. The front of it was like an eagle only much larger; its forefeet were the talons of the eagle; the back half of its body looked like the back half of some large, feline creature, with a long tail that appeared to be spiked.
Thal gasped, his eyes wide.
“What is it?” Blakstar asked.
“A . . . a myth,” the maghi stuttered.
The creature pulled up just in front of the companions, backpedaling in the air, huge wings wafting a breeze toward them that stirred their cloaks and hair, taloned and clawed feet grasping at the air. It made a sound between a croak and a scream, wheeled over onto its back, righted itself, and flew swiftly back the way it had come.
“What was that?” Klaybear asked.
“Was that a word it croaked?” Blakstar asked at the same time.
“It’s named . . . ,” Thal went on, but then said, “what? A word?” His brow wrinkled. “What word?”
The kortexi thought for a moment. “It sounded like, ‘gu-sum.’”
Tevvy’s brow wrinkled, his white eyes wide and staring. “No,” he corrected, “it was ‘gheusum.’”
Klaybear and Thal exchanged a look.
“Are you sure?” Thal asked.
Tevvy nodded. “Pretty sure,” he said. “Is that a word in the orthek language?”
Thal looked puzzled. “Orthek language?”
“The old language you both use to cast ortheks,” he said.
“Oh,” Thal said, still looking at Klaybear, “you mean ancient? Yes, it is a word in ancient, which means, chosen.”
Next week come back and learn more of the creatures inhabiting this realm, elemental air. In the meantime, purchase the full copy of this ebook, and others in the series, from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. If you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace today. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on June 19, 2015 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
19 June 2015
Good day to all! We return with more of Coleridge’s supernatural, and often strange, poem, “Christabel. We saw last time that Christabel, for a moment, pierced the spell clouding her mind and saw Geraldine as she is–a decrepit, old hag–but that moment passes quickly as the spell reasserts itself, and if we had any doubt about what happened, the poet clears it up here:
The touch, the sight, had passed away,
And in its stead that vision blest,
Which comforted her after-rest
While in the lady's arms she lay,
Had put a rapture in her breast,
And on her lips and o'er her eyes
Spread smiles like light!
With new surprise,
'What ails then my belovèd child?
The Baron said—His daughter mild
Made answer, 'All will yet be well!'
I ween, she had no power to tell
Aught else: so mighty was the spell.
The vision–of Geraldine as young, beautiful, and vulnerable–is reestablished, and we are told more of the spell, which “put a rapture” in Christabel, with a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eyes. The rapture is a kind of spiritually overwhelming feeling that the Romantics associated with deity, although not in any common religious sense. We have mentioned before the Romantic sublime, which is what this feeling represents in Christabel, although here it is a false feeling, something enforced from outside, not flowing from within; we might even call it the “negative sublime” since in this case it is artificial, because it is a spell. The poet hints at what the source might be, using coded language that we still use today; when referring to something that happened before the time of a person, we commonly say that this event happened “before you were a twinkle in your parent’s eyes,” a subtle reference to marital relations. A poet today would simply describe–in too much detail–exactly what happened while the two were in bed. Coleridge, however, operated under a much stricter moral/artistic code, and so had to bury such references deep inside layer after layer of metaphoric language. Next time, we will look at Geraldine’s insistence that someone be sent at once to her father. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on June 12, 2015 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
15 June 2015
Welcome back friends, fans, and followers, to another installment from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. We return to our heroes in Shigmar’s tomb, Thalamar just waking with the Waters of Life, as all have returned from the ice realm, although Tevvy has lost his vision. . . .
Chapter 15, Part 2
“What happened?” Thal asked, looking around. “Last thing I remember was falling to the ground.”
Blakstar nodded. “We made it to the hill I saw,” he said, “and I found a portal stone, activated it, and we came back here.”
“Extraordinary!” Thal exclaimed.
Blakstar moved to Klaybear. “You’ll want to get out of those furs before you roast,” he said, lifting the kailu’s head and pouring the Waters into his mouth.
As Klaybear drank, Thal stripped off his furs, folded them and placed them on his cot. “The crates are gone,” he noted.
Blakstar nodded again as Klaybear’s eyes opened and the green kailu sat up. “Yes,” Blakstar agreed, “and they were replaced by a fountain of the Waters of Life.”
“Convenient,” Klaybear noted, after looking around. “I’m quite warm now,” he added, pulling off the hood and mittens.
Blakstar smiled and went to Tevvy. “What do we do about him?” he asked, pointing down.
“Try giving him the Waters,” Klaybear said, pulling off the rest of his furs and piling them on his cot. “Maybe pour some on his eyes to see if that helps.”
Blakstar squatted next to Tevvy; Klaybear crawled over to his other side, helping the kortexi remove the furs, then he held the awemi’s eyes open while Blakstar dripped some of the Waters into each of his white eyes. Klaybear cradled Tevvy’s head and opened his mouth, so the kortexi could pour the Waters in and drink. Like the others, Tevvy drank eagerly and kept drinking until the bottle was nearly drained. Blakstar raised an eyebrow at this, but Klaybear merely waited. When Tevvy’s eyes fluttered open, both could see that some of their former color had returned, but not all.
“Where are we?” Tevvy asked.
“Back in the tomb,” Klaybear said. “How are your eyes?”
“I think I can . . . ,” Tevvy started to say and sit up, more color returning to them, but then he fell back and his eyes went white again, “no, I cannot see.”
“What happened?” Klaybear asked.
“When I woke up,” Tevvy said, hesitantly, “I thought I could see your face, but then it all went black.”
Blakstar looked at Klaybear who nodded to the fountain. “What do you think?” he asked.
Blakstar looked at the fountain then shrugged. “It might work.”
“Tevvy,” Klaybear said, “let’s get you to your feet and take you to the fountain.”
“What fountain?” Tevvy asked.
“When we were returned to the tomb,” Blakstar said, “the crates of supplies were gone and replaced by a fountain of the Waters of Life.”
Tevvy stopped and grabbed both. “My gear?” he asked.
“On the cot where you left it.” Klaybear replied, after looking that direction.
Tevvy relaxed his grip on both arms and let out a sigh. “For a moment,” he said as they lead him to the fountain, “I feared we were in a different room.”
“Here,” Klaybear said, taking Tevvy’s hands and placing them on the rim of the fountain. “I’ll help you guide your face into the basin; put it in and open your eyes to see if direct contact with the Waters helps.”
Tevvy knelt by the rim and with Klaybear’s help, put his face into the Waters, holding his breath. After several moments, Tevvy threw his head back and looked into Klaybear’s eyes. For a moment, Klaybear saw that their normal color had returned, but as soon as the Waters ran out of his eyes, they turned white again.
“For a moment,” Tevvy said, “I could see, but now . . . ,” he left his sentence unfinished.
Blakstar looked at Klaybear, puzzled. “Why?” the kortexi asked.
Klaybear shook his head. “This is not normal snow blindness,” he noted. “Something else has happened.” He turned to Thal, who had just finished reloading the pouches on his belt. “I think you should check his mind,” he said to the white maghi.
Thal replaced his rod, and moved to the fountain. His eyes went distant. “Put your face in again and open your eyes,” he said after a moment.
The awemi stuck his face in again, then lifted it up, his eyes clearing again for a moment.
Thal spoke again. “I see nothing unusual; everything looks right; I don’t see any changes,” he finished, his eyes refocusing.
“The Waters start to heal him,” Klaybear said softly, shaking his head, “but fail. There is something else going on here,” he finished to himself.
“What should we do with him?” Blakstar asked. “I don’t think it would be safe to take him with us.”
“I do not think we can leave him behind,” Klaybear said.
“You said you thought Klare could heal me,” Tevvy put in, “why don’t you send me to her?”
“How do I know where to send him?” Blakstar asked.
“I’m not sure you can,” Thal said.
“Why not?” Tevvy asked.
“I think the teka of this place will prevent you from opening a door,” Thal said.
“You won’t know until you try,” Tevvy said.
“Again, how do I know where?” Blakstar repeated.
Thal shrugged. “Try focusing on Klare,” he suggested, “maybe that will work.”
Blakstar nodded and drew his sword, all his mind focused on Klare. He started to draw the circle on the floor.
“Don’t forget to draw energy from the sword,” Thal added needlessly.
The kortexi raised the sword and inscribed the gray shimmering arch in the air. The space shimmered once and they saw Klare kneeling next to her mother and sister; Rokwolf appeared to be frozen in the act of nocking an arrow. Thal reached out to put his hand through the arch but was stopped by something and could only touch the surface of the arch without passing into it. The three stood silently for a few moments, examining the arch, until Blakstar lifted his sword and the arch winked out.
“How peculiar,” Thal noted.
“What?” Tevvy asked. “Tell me what you see!”
“Blakstar opened the archway,” Klaybear replied, “and we saw Klare and Rokwolf, watching over Klare’s mother and sister, but we could not enter the archway. It looked like they were frozen in place, with Rokwolf trying to nock an arrow.”
Come back next week and discover the next realm our heroes must enter as they continue their quest to retrieve Shigmar’s legendary staff. In the meantime, buy your copy of the entire text, along with other volumes in this series, from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers; if you prefer print, order your copy from CreateSpace today. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on June 12, 2015 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
12 June 2015
We return with another installment from Coleridge’s unfinished, supernatural poem, “Christabel.” Last time, we saw the Baron’s reaction to Geraldine’s ‘sad story’; this time we look at Christabel’s reaction as the Baron takes Geraldine in his arms to comfort her:
And now the tears were on his face,
And fondly in his arms he took
Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
Prolonging it with joyous look.
Which when she viewed, a vision fell
Upon the soul of Christabel,
The vision of fear, the touch and pain!
She shrunk and shuddered, and saw again—
(Ah, woe is me! Was it for thee,
Thou gentle maid! such sights to see?)
Again she saw that bosom old,
Again she felt that bosom cold,
And drew in her breath with a hissing sound:
Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
And nothing saw, but his own sweet maid
With eyes upraised, as one that prayed.
Our heroine is struck again with that terrible vision of Geraldine as something other than she appears to be: “old” and “cold” with feelings of fear and pain; we remind our readers that this vision is what she saw in the night as Geraldine undressed and prepared to join our heroine in bed. Just what is Geraldine, really? Her whole tale of woe, repeated and embellished, is called into question by this doubled vision of Christabel, seeing her as a decrepit, old hag, belying her appearance of youth and beauty. We ask again, what is she? And how does she appear both young and old, both beautiful and ugly? There is only one real answer, that Geraldine is a witch, a supernatural creature with ‘unholy powers’; if so, then why is she here? What is her purpose in this castle, with Christabel and her father, the Baron? Is she really here to resolve the differences between the Baron and her supposed father? Such a reason is inconsistent with the nature of the witch, whose purpose is usually to destroy. So why is she here, now? Next time we will look at the Baron’s reaction to his daughters ‘sharp breath,’ and her answer. Until then, good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on June 6, 2015 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
8 June 2015
This week we return to the fortunes of our heroes in Shigmar’s tomb, in this serialization of the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar. We follow Blakstar, Thalamar, Klaybear, and Tevvy as they finally escape from the realm of ice. . . .
Chapter 15, Part 1
Rod making is a most delicate art, depending entirely upon the inherent power and actual experience of the rod maker. The most basic rod, constructed by initiates of our order, is made from the most basic material, clay. . . . The most powerful rods are constructed by the most experienced and powerful maghem from the rarest of all materials, platinum, which legend says comes from the broken body of a platinum aperu, who wrapped herself around the core of our world, preventing its destruction shortly after its formation. . . .
from Annals of Melbarth, Third Series, Early Lectures of the Hierarchs
Lecture by Hierarch Skrifeki, Keeper of Records
Blakstar moved forward to lower the visor on Tevvy’s hood, and saw that the awemi’s eyes had lost their color. His hands faltered.
“Is that you, Klaybear?” Tevvy asked, his head moving toward the sounds.
“I’m here,” Klaybear said in a whisper.
Tevvy’s head turned toward the sound. “I’m afraid,” he stammered, “something has happened to my eyes.”
“You stepped into the brightness without protecting your eyes,” Blakstar said, dully, and he reached out again and lowered the visor on the awemi’s hood.
“I . . . , uh,” Tevvy stuttered again, “I thought you would not need me, so I decided to scout ahead, in case we were pursued by the creatures, so we’d know where to go. When I got to the top of the tunnel, before I could cover my eyes, the light flashed so brightly . . . ,” he hesitated, not wanting to say what happened.
“And now,” Blakstar finished, “you cannot see anything.”
“Can you help me, Klaybear?” Tevvy asked. “Aren’t you kailum able to heal blindness?”
“I’m afraid,” Klaybear sighed, “that it is beyond my ability, although Klare might be able to help you, since she’s better at healing than I am.”
“Well then,” Tevvy said, rising to his feet, “you’ll have to send me to her when we get back to the tomb.”
Thal shook his head, but did not speak.
“First,” Blakstar said, “we have to get out of here.” He put one hand on his forehead and scanned the horizon. They stood on the edge of a flat, white plain, with the dirty, white mountains behind them. The kortexi turned to the left, then all the way to the right, then back to center. “I think,” he said hesitantly, pointing, “there is something in that direction.”
“What?” Thal asked.
“A rise in an otherwise completely flat plain,” he replied. “We need some way to lead him,” he noted softly, pointing at Tevvy.
The tekson looked at each other for a moment, then Thal held out his rod and whispered, “kresko.” The rod started to grow longer, stopping at a dozen feet when Thal waved his hand. He held it out for Klaybear. “You take that end, and we’ll place him between us.”
The green kailu nodded, taking the end of the rod in his right hand and holding the rod behind him. Blakstar took Tevvy’s arm and steered him next to Thal’s lengthened rod.
“Hold onto Thal’s rod,” Blakstar said after placing the awemi’s hand upon it.
“Where are the others?” Tevvy asked.
“I’m in front of you,” Klaybear said.
“And I’m behind,” Thal added.
“I’ll be in front,” Blakstar said, moving in front of Klaybear, the hard packed snow crunching under his boots, although his feet made hardly any impression. “Distance is hard to judge in the brightness, but I’d guess the rise is several miles away, maybe more.”
On their first steps forward, first a breeze, then a wind, and finally, a blast of frigid air, blew straight at them; their movement dragged, so Tevvy had no trouble keeping up.
“I think we’re going the right way,” Thal shouted.
“What makes you say that?” Blakstar shouted back.
“The wind,” Thal replied.
Blakstar nodded, trudging forward into the teeth of the gale.
How much time passed, Blakstar could not tell; the light never changed; the wind never varied, and like the fire realm, they trudged forward until Blakstar felt Klaybear’s warming orthek run out. Then they would huddle around Tevvy, and Klaybear would pull off one mitten so he could touch each of them and renew the orthek. And it was only blind Tevvy’s awemi sense of direction that kept them from veering off and walking in an endless circle: the wind, they discovered, moved with them.
“Left a bit,” Tevvy would shout to Klaybear, who then shouted to Blakstar. “There,” Tevvy would shout, and they trudged on until Tevvy shouted again. “Right, now. That’s good.” And so it went on for what could have been minutes, or hours, or days, or centuries; none could tell. Blakstar kept going forward until, after more than a dozen renewals of the warming orthek, Tevvy stumbled, and Blakstar hoisted him onto his back; then Thal stumbled, and Klaybear helped him to his feet and supported him as they walked; then Klaybear and Thal stumbled and fell. Blakstar turned and saw they had fallen, staggering back to where they were. He had to drop Tevvy onto the ground, then he tried to pull Thal up, failed, and tried to lift Klaybear to his feet, but the attempt only drove him to his knees. He looked around and the wind stopped howling at them; his vision cleared, and he saw that they were near the top of the rise he had seen. Crawling to the top, he scraped away the snow and found a black stone, covered with runes, glowing softly with green light. He took out his sword and touched the golden glowing pommel stone to the symbol that would lead them back to the tomb of Shigmar. The light folded around him and the hilltop, and all went dark, but the air he breathed was now warm. Lifting his visor, he saw that they were all sprawled on the floor of the room in Shigmar’s tomb. He pulled off his hood, mittens, and coat, tossing them aside; he paused, for he heard a new sound in the room: the sound of water falling. Turning, he saw that the crates were no longer stacked against the wall of the tomb, but there was a simple fountain, and he felt that familiar sensation tickling the bridge of his nose. He crawled across the stone floor to the fountain, put his mouth under the stream of falling water, and drank the Waters of Life. He felt both warmth and energy surging from the center of his stomach out to the tips of his fingers and toes; his feet and legs felt suddenly hot, so he turned, and with his back against the stone rim of the fountain, stripped off his furry pants and boots. He stood and went to the cot where he had left the rest of his gear to retrieve the special container. He filled it at the fountain, went to Thal, pulled open the face flap of his hood, and lifted his head and poured the Waters into his mouth. The white maghi drank eagerly for a moment, then his eyes flew open and he sat up.
Come back next week for the further adventures of our heroes in Shigmar’s tomb! In the meantime, purchase a copy of the entire book from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers, or if you prefer print, order yours from CreateSpace. Good reading
|Posted by gwermon on June 5, 2015 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
5 June 2015
We remind our readers that last week we listened as Geraldine told her ‘sad tale’, and we learned that the Baron and Geraldine’s father used to be the closest of friends but suffered an estrangement. Now, we see his response to this story:
Sir Leoline, a moment's space,
Stood gazing on the damsel's face:
And the youthful Lord of Tryermaine
Came back upon his heart again.
O then the Baron forgot his age,
His noble heart swelled high with rage;
He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side
He would proclaim it far and wide,
With trump and solemn heraldry,
That they, who thus had wronged the dame,
Were base as spotted infamy!
'And if they dare deny the same,
My herald shall appoint a week,
And let the recreant traitors seek
My tourney court—that there and then
I may dislodge their reptile souls
From the bodies and forms of men!'
He spake: his eye in lightning rolls!
For the lady was ruthlessly seized; and he kenned
In the beautiful lady the child of his friend!
Who could not have predicted this response from the Baron! Righteous anger fills him over the wrongs the daughter of his long estranged friend, leading him to swear an oath against the miscreants who have perpetrated this heinous crime; he vows to meet them on the field of honor that he can “dislodge their reptile souls!” The old Baron now feels his youthful strength returning, because of this worthy cause. Now he sees his friend in the face and form of Geraldine, and this will spur him to further effort on her behalf. Do not forget that this ‘child’ is not all that she seems to be, and we should be suspicious of all that she tells us. For more of Coleridge’s strange, unfinished poem, return again next week. Good reading!
|Posted by gwermon on May 29, 2015 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
1 June 2015
Welcome to summer! Someone ‘flipped the switch’ and summer has come to the desert! We return this week with another installment from the second book of our epic fantasy, Staff of Shigmar, and we see Delgart’s further battle with another huge monster; we learn that this monster is more than he seems. . . .
Chapter 14, Part 5
Delgart leapt over the sword swing of the second megatri, then darted back between the legs of the first, who was still turning. As he passed, he sliced at the huge calves of the first, causing him to roar in pain and fury. He grasped his huge sword with both hands, reversing it to stab down. Delgart turned and, seeing what the megatri was about to do, paused long enough for the giant to aim and stab down in all his fury. Delgart rolled forward just in time, and the blade sank halfway to the handle in the ground. The newest seklesi came to his feet beneath the megatri, and whirling his swords, sliced up the underside of the giant’s exposed wrists and forearms, but Delgart, seeing that the second megatri was waiting for him to dart between the first’s legs, slid and backpedaled to avoid the stroke aimed at him by the second. The first, feeling the searing pain in his forearms, released his blade and staggered back, roaring in pain. The second, seeing his comrade moving into his swing, tried to pull it up short, but the point of his sword caught the hip of the first, and, although the first was protected by a coat of huge steel rings beneath the iron breastplate that fell past his hips, he staggered sideways, tripped, and crashed to the ground. The squads of the Eighth Company on that side scattered to avoid being crushed, but a few of the seklesem dropped their shields and, gripping their swords with both hands, darted forward to hack at the fallen megatri’s now exposed neck; his roar of pain became a gurgle as the huge head was cut from the body, which thrashed on the ground violently, knocking down many seklesem and showering them in the megatri’s fiery red blood. But the kailum were ready for this, and shouts of “kreyakwa,” echoed around the fallen megatri. Jets of water shot from many staves, washing off the blood before it could do more than burn through clothes and blister the skin.
Delgart, as the first megatri staggered and fell, could only leap and roll to his right. The second megatri, not expecting to meet any resistance to his sword stroke, fumbled and dropped his huge blade, staggering to his left. Several of the seklesem on this side of the battle, inspired by Delgart, darted forward swinging swords and slicing at the second megatri’s left leg and the leather straps holding the huge iron leg greave in place. The greave fell down, tangling in the megatri’s great feet, causing him also to fall. The squads on this side of the battle also scattered, darted back, hacked off the head, and were drenched in water, washing off the hot, fiery blood of the second megatri. A shout went up: “Del-gart!” begun by the eighth squad, taken up by the rest of the Eighth Company. But Delgart took no heed; he was running forward, swords whirling, toward the final megatri, largest of the three and the apparent leader of this part of Gar’s forces. The surviving members of the Eighth Company sprinted after Delgart, still chanting his name; Marilee ahead of them all.
The megatri, hearing the shouting behind him, turned to see who was approaching; he saw Delgart and Marilee running ahead of the others and he smiled. Tossing aside the body in his right hand, he held up his left so that all could see who he held. “Hold!” he roared. “I have your Fereghen, wethem!”
All of the Eighth Company halted, save for Delgart and Marilee, who continued to charge forward. The megatri smiled more widely at this, waving his right hand. First Delgart, and then Marilee, crashed into some invisible barrier and bounced backward onto the ground. Delgart got back to his feet, followed immediately by Marilee, and the two walked slowly forward, poking at the invisible barrier with their swords. The sounds of the battle died around them, all eyes turning toward the megatri, who held Fereghen Wothgart in his left hand.
After silence fell, the megatri held out his right hand toward Delgart and Marilee, who stood facing him. “Behold!” his voice boomed, echoing across the battlefield, “the chosen of the One!” The forefinger of the megatri’s right hand made a circling motion, and a whirlwind surrounded Delgart and Marilee, whipping off the bandages both had kept tightly wrapped around their faces, uncovering the ruined half of each’s face. The right hand made a lifting gesture, and both rose into the air, turning and twisting several times before their maimed cheeks were smashed together. Both let out a cry of pain as the two halves of the symbol came together and burned with an angry red light. They floated a dozen feet in the air, spinning slowly so that all still living across the battlefield could see the mark of Gar glowing between their two faces.
“Behold your saviors,” the megatri spat, “marked with the sign of Gar! None can escape the Great Lord’s touch. He will crush all under his feet! Surrender! And I will be merciful,” he finished, grinning evilly.
A hissing whisper filled the silence following the megatri’s demand, traveling quickly across the battlefield and then returning to the Eighth Company of the Third Legion, nearest to the megatri. The captain of the Eighth Company rode forward a little, arm bound in a sling.
“We will not surrender,” she threw back defiantly. “It is you who are beaten. Release them, and we will spare you.”
The megatri roared with laughter, crushing Wothgart in his left hand and flinging his broken body aside; the Fereghen’s crown fell to the ground in front of the megatri, who crushed it under one of his giant feet. But instead of demoralizing the seklesem around him, his action sparked a flame of fury that rose within the seklesem still living. The First Legion surged forward, cutting down the purem between them and the Fourth Legion; the Second also pushed forward, crushing the purem into the elements of the Third, grinding them into the ground. The rest of the Third, minus the Eighth Company, and the Fourth Legion, both drove forward, cutting down the remaining wedaterem. This left the Eighth Company of the Third Legion to deal with the megatri. The thirty or so maghem and kailum of the squads of the Eighth Company, took the fall of Wothgart and their potikoro, Korowold, personally, and bolts of white lightning and green fire shot at the megatri from all directions, ripping open his armor. Arrows from all the archers followed, sticking the megatri like a pin-cushion. The maghem sent arrows of stone and ice that ripped through the megatri, who fell in pieces scattered across the ground. What caused them the most surprise was that Delgart and Marilee continued to float in the air after the megatri died. A shadow rose from the broken body of the megatri, coalescing into a black-cloaked, hooded figure. The figure laughed a high pitched laugh, sounding like bones clinking together.
“You think you have won,” the figure hissed, “but this is only the first battle, and the Great Lord’s forces are endless. You have defeated only the vanguard of our army. The rest are waiting for you in the pass. You will not come to Shigmar before it is destroyed!” The figure laughed again and changed into a bolt of red fire, flying into the air toward the north. They heard multiple shouts from the pass, and the nekerpum held in reserve ground forward.
Come back again next week as we start a new chapter, returning to the fortunes of our heroes in the tomb of Shigmar, where we will discover Tevvy’s problem. Until then, buy the full text from Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers. If the reader prefers print, order a copy from CreateSpace today! Good reading!