Melbourne Supernova

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Melbourne you have been amazing. What an experience this adventure has been. Heading off early in the morning for a long road trip, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. This entire weekend was just one big unknown for me.

I am grateful for the opportunity though. Meeting wonderful, creative people, getting a chance to talk to those who love what they do, and just sharing and basking in such a great environment that is the buzz of a Supanova convention. The organisers do such a great job putting it all together, and I really do have to thank them for giving us such a great opportunity to share our work with everyone.

On bump-in day we – my fellow author friends who I was adventuring with – headed for the Grand Pavilion within the Melbourne Showgrounds. It was overwhelming, to say the least. The Grand Pavilion is an enormous tent – reminding me of a place where a circus would perform. I felt so small. So much like I didn’t belong. It was a very strange sensation.

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Setting up was a lot of fun. I had my little spot between Katie and Karen. We shared two tables.

It was then back to base to rest. Saturday was going to be a big day. Like I said – I really didn’t know what to expect from you Melbourne – where you going to buy books? My aim for the weekend was to sell out of Book 1. Did I achieve this aim.
Yes. I did. So. Thank you, awesome people of Melbourne, for helping this author achieve that goal. I am so, so, so grateful! I really hope you enjoy the first book!

I cannot begin to discribe how many awesome characters I saw scattered around. I only managed to catch a hand-full of pictures (I got bolder as the weekend progressed). It really cheered me up to see anime characters I adored. I love it that I can go into a place and be around people who love the same things I love. It’s just a really wonderful environment.

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The highlight of the weekend, though, may very well been meeting the amazing woman who edits my novels. We’ve “known” each other for about five years now but we’ve never met. She drove her whole family an hour and a half up to Supanova, and I was just so happy to finally get the chance to meet her. I imagine I was a bit awkward – as usual – but it was just so lovely! Thank you so much Elle for coming to see me! It was really, really wonderful. I wish we’d had more of a chance to chat. I’ll have to come and visit again. ^_^

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I wish I’d had more of a chance to explore Melbourne, and I hope that if I do come back someday, I’ll get that chance. Just the small bit I have seen is so…well…Melbourne. Everything is just that little bit the same, but just enough difference that it throws me off when I walk around. It’s not like being in another country (I’ve done that) – it’s weirder – it’s as if…it’s like a parallel UNIVERSE.
I feel like I’m in the show SLIDER. ^_^

It has been a great couple of days. Thank you to everyone who has made it possible.
To Katie for looking after me.
To Matt, Karen and David for all the fun and laughter. It’s been a real blast.
But I have to admit, I am really looking forward to the long drive home tomorrow, and a cuddle with my cat at the end of it.

This Hobbit does enjoy adventures, but the best part about them is getting home.

Danger, Will Robinson

Recently I have been watching the new Lost In Space series on Netflix.
Lost In Space is one of those nostalgic series for me. I remember my Dad showing me some of the early 1967 episodes, and telling me about them in great detail, and then when the 1998 movie came out it was one that my family borrowed and rewatched several times – this was back in the era when we went to Blockbusters and borrowed a VHS still. Feels like ancient times…

I loved Lost In Space because it reminded me of two stories that have always been a favourite of mine:
The Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe.
These two books were profoundly meaningful to me.
The Swiss Family Robinson I highly recommend – it is dated – as you would expect – but if you are a Christian with an understanding of grace, reading it with that outlook, things the father, William, says, become so much more clearer. It is also a book that made me love my family and cherish my siblings so much more.

Robinson Crusoe is also very dated – but just as interesting – being also about someone lost at sea. I loved Robinson Crusoe because Crusoe was a hero to me, someone who I would have hoped I would have been if I found myself in the situation he was in. He took a terrible situation and just kept moving forward, day by day.

So, Lost In Space, was like a science fiction version of these two stories and I LOVED that.

Now having an updated version of Lost In Space is fantastic! I am so happy. And they’re doing a great job. I cannot recommend the series enough. The character’s are wonderfully crafted, and the changes they have made work extremely well to bring the story forward into this century.

The relationship I was pegging all my hope on was the relationship between Will Robinson and Robot and I feel that has been realised fantastically – so I’m very happy.

However, what I hadn’t been expecting to run into was…this problem…a problem I keep running into with series these days: you don’t need to make the male characters weaker to make the female characters stronger. I’m serious about this. STOP DOING IT.
Stop curtailing the men.

There is a reason why The Walking Dead is one of my favourite shows. Rick, Daryl, Glenn are incredible men and they are allowed to be men alongside incredible women like Maggie,  Michonne and Carol. The writer’s have never had to make the men appear weaker, or submissive, to highlight the female characters because the female characters shine bright and amazing on their own feet. That’s great writing.
Now, Fear The Walking Dead…that’s a whole other story. I stopped watching that show because of the relationship between between the husband and wife was awful. What purpose did the husband serve, can I ask? His wife practically did everything, and that’s fine, it’s FINE, I’m not saying women can’t – I’m saying there is an imbalance – if you’re writing a husband and wife team, let them be a team, don’t curtail the man to raise the woman up. She can shine on her own. Stop making women seem like we need men to be beaten down so we act rough and awesome. Watching that show I just kept wishing they’d kill the husband because he was being so darn useless.
And I am not saying men can’t act differently – I am NOT saying that – what I am talking about is a balance in how you write characters. If you have a TEAM of characters, a husband and wife TEAM – you need to make sure one is not over-powering the other, that they both have a purpose. Heck, in Fear the Walking Dead it would have been awesome if the husband had actually been the one who looked after the kids, etc. etc but instead the Mum seemed to do that as well, so it just got really…like…okay…so…what does Dad do? Everyone hates Dad? Can Dad be like…awesome too? I’m talking about an ebb and flow, a give and take, otherwise it’s just a mess…
To me anyway…

That’s where Lost In Space is bothering me a little. It’s falling into this trap – and I can sorta see why they’re doing it with the back-flashes and I don’t want to spoil it…
But it is bothering me a little.
Maureen Robinson (Robinson Mum) is amazing, she can apparently seem to do everything. She also likes to be in total control and that’s a great character flaw as well as strength, I can see how they’re playing to that.
John Robinson (Robinson Dad) is ex-military and that alone should give an indication of what his character should be like. He’s ex-military–but he keeps getting walked all over by EVERYONE. I like his character – don’t get me wrong – he actually reminds me of my Dad. A quiet, reserved, tender man, who *adores* his family. His family is everything to him. He would go to the ends of the earth for his family – his children are his world – but my Dad knows when to stand up for himself and he’s not ex-military. Someone from the military I keep expecting to at least have a bit more of a backbone.
If I was to be honest, other than Will and Robot, he is my favourite character simply because of just how much he reminds me of my Dad.
But then Maureen is also pretty awesome…
They’re a well written cast all round.

However, I am seeing this imbalance in a relationship and I am not sure if they’re doing it on purpose – because I know they’re supposed to sorta not be getting along – or if it’s just something I keep picking up in how husband and wife teams are being written in tv-shows today.

If you have been watching the show I’m curious as to your thoughts.
Perhaps I’m thinking a little bit to much about it.

All in all – it’s a really great remake and I highly recommend it.

Cheers,
Kylie

Happy Birthday

So. Here I am; twenty-nine years old.
My Dad called me this morning and asked me if I felt twenty-nine . Nope. My sister say’s I’m only allowed to whine about getting old when I reach thirty. Okay. Now. That number just scares me. Not because it’s old or anything, it’s because I feel like by the time you’re thirty you’re supposed to at least have…I donno…gotten married, had kids, or done something like that, right?
My mother commented the other day while we were driving to see my little sister, after mentioning my birthday, just how vastly different our lives were. She was married at nineteen, had all her four kids by thirty. ALL HER FOUR KIDS BY THIRTY. ALL OF THEM.

So yes. Needless to say; my mother and I have walked very different paths.

However, there are things I have done that my mother hasn’t done, and it is good to sometimes look back on those memories and remind myself that even though I haven’t fulfilled the dream of settling down with a bunch of little kids running around yet, I have had some pretty great adventures despite my difficulties.

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Look at me being so contemplative…

In 2009, before we really knew what was going on with my health, and just as I was starting to deteriorate – we went on a family holiday to New Zealand (my third favourite place in the whole world). This family holiday has remained one of my fondest memories. My parents noticed my lack of odd stamina on this trip, which I suppose helped in some way towards my eventual diagnosis – I also fell down the camper-van stair and twisted my ankle and created the family-meme that I *always* fall down stairs.

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My little sister, Melissa, little brother, Michael, (Me) and older brother Andrew. Hah, I just realised we should have done this by age, but we didn’t. Mel should be in the middle with me. We’re so short compared to our bros. 

Somewhere between 2010 and 2011 I went on a trip to England, Ireland and Scotland. I actually can’t remember the year…I have it recorded as 2011 but I don’t trust that anymore after my computer lost it’s hard-drive.
This was my adventure of a lifetime – and – in TRUE Kylie fashion what did I do? I tripped over and busted me knee (see, see!) I ended up in a hospital in the middle of London at Midnight for an x-ray. The ride in the ambulance was fun though, as the paramedics were really, really lovely. The whole experience was actually pretty interesting.
My poor parents though – second day in and they get a phone call from me, “Ah, yeah, um…I’m in hospital.”
Anyway, a wrapped up knee layer and a pair of crutches had me right back on track and I was on my tour. So I couldn’t really run around as much as I had hoped, but I was going to make the most of being in in the countries I loved so, so much.

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Before I did my knee in. ^_^

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I know this picture doesn’t look like much – but I am the happiest person in the world right in this moment. I am in Scotland (my favourite country), surrounded by wonderful people, and we’re in the Highlands, and I’d just bought that hat. My favourite souvenir from the whole trip.

I have so many stories I could tell from my trip to England, Ireland and Scotland. It was such a marvellous adventure. I cherish the memories dearly, and I often think of it randomly – the memories just pop into my head and make me smile. I had never seen grass so green, I had never seen fields so fresh, and streets so tiny. When I got lost in the cobbled stone roads of St. Ive, hobbling around on my crutches, crying and crying, wondering if I would ever escape, it felt like a nightmare but now, looking back, I laugh at the hilariousness of it all. All I wanted was a Cornish pasty.

My next adventure was back to New Zealand for the release of the first Hobbit movie – can you believe this was in 2012. WOW. I travelled to New Zealand with a group of Lord of the Rings and Narnia fans for an epic trip to see all the movie sights. Made some good friends. My favourite part was probably getting the most epic tan ever waiting at the red carpet (mostly because it didn’t require me moving…at this point, I knew my stamina was bad and I just couldn’t do everything everyone else and it sorta sucked, okay, I hated it, so if I could join in something that meant standing still, I was totally there.)

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Yeah! Red carpet event! Whoop!

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The best day – by far though – was the visit to Hobbiton. If I can someday get my garden looking this wonderful I will be a happy, happy little Hobbit girl. This is my favourite photo from the trip – standing in front of Samwise’s house. 

Later that evening at The Green Dragon we were the first tour group to ever have a meal there. These are the wonderful things memories are made of.

 

We had an amazing guide – Mike.

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Then – an adventurer came to visit me.
My most wonderful, best friend, Anouk headed all the way to Australia from the Netherlands. There are friendships that shape you, and define you, and bring out the best in you and the friendship I have with Anouk is one of those. We’ve been friends for…oh gosh…almost, I think it’s almost ten years now. I think. Meeting someone you’ve only known online is incredible. It was profound. It makes the world so much bigger, and so much smaller, all that once. The moment she left was heart breaking, and I couldn’t stop crying.
I am very grateful the internet opened the doors for me to meet such a beautiful person.

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Now I am heading off on another adventure in a week or so. Off to Melbourne. I know, I know, it’s not another country or anything, but it feels just as epic in my mind. I have never really travelled outside of South Australia much and this will be my first time in another Australia’s major cities.
I have a wonderful, amazing group of people I am heading off with for Supanova, and I am so looking forward to the new memories to add to my collection.

So I might not have done what I dreamt of as a little girl – fulfilled the dreams of my childhood – but looking back – I’ve had a pretty good run of it and I am so grateful to everyone I’ve met along the way who has shared these moments with me.

Thanks everyone.

Seasons of Change

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As the season changes in gradual Autumn colours the life of my family shifts once more. How can such joy come in such a tiny package? I am filled with an immense, overwhelming happiness when thinking about the newest member of my family – little Mordecai Gratez, born on the 9th of March.

At the beginning of last year things were so different and to just look upon my nephew gives me so much hope for the future, to realise that anything is possible. I hold onto that hope for my own life.

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My parents recently came around to my house to help with the garden – we called it a working bee – and it was really helpful to clear a lot away so I can begin building the garden back up again. We cut down some old, dead trees, took out some cacti. I am pretty much in the garden every day now.

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Dad was able to put my signs up. They look pretty adorable. ^_^

Having a house is an incredible change, a huge step, and I am still adapting to it, still having to pinch myself sometimes when I wake up in the morning and step outside. There is a lot to do, a lot of responsibility. Every day there is something to do. Paths to sweep. Garden to water. Floor to clean. Dishes to wash. Just something. Sometimes its something I can’t do because I’m not strong enough and I gripe about it for awhile and set it aside in my basket of ‘things Kylie can’t do’ – but I will get there, eventually.

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Having my cat with me has been wonderful. I know it’s an awful stereotype that single women, who are writers, love their cats – but I do. Once upon a time, I was a on a drug called Zoloft, and this was back in the day before the knowledge that in certain people, anti-depressants could have an adverse reaction was common. Instead of giving me equilibrium, the drug threw me into a suicidal cycle. Very frightening for my parents. It was during this period of time that my mother brought me a companion – Aislinn. I was very lonely. So, so lonely. I had just left face-to-face school, feeling like I had failed completely in my education and started school via long-distance. I was alone. So my mother brought me a friend. Aislinn barely left my side.

Eventually my mother figured out what was going on with the drugs – she’s got smarts, my Mum – and coming off them allowed me to regain my mind. I don’t recall much of this time in my life (which is odd for me), it is a big, blurry whole of nothing apart from scattered fragments. I didn’t even keep a journal, and the few scratches of pages I do have are…frankly…the writings of a girl I don’t know. Someday I want to write a book about this but I really don’t know where to start. That’s the thing about having kept a journal from when I was eight. Where do I start?

I have always been really embarrassed about it, and I’ve never wanted to speak about it. Every time I go to the doctors, having a diagnosis of ‘depression’ is frustrating because, obviously, that was a LONG, LONG time ago and I am an adult now but these things stay on your record forever no matter how much you grow and change as a person. But I am growing and changing as a young woman, and realising I don’t need to be embarrassed for a past I had no control over, for the story that has made me who I am today. The strong, resilient young woman who wants to hold her head up high and walk out into the world without fear.

I still react poorly to most medications. Whatever the worst side-effect is, there is a high likelihood that I’ll get it. Just seems to be the way my body works.

But I got through all that, as difficult as it was, and here Aislinn and I are, still together, a cat and her writer. I’ve got a house, a cat, now I just need a husband to lift things in the garden and some children to play in it. Sounds simple enough, right?

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But I digressed – back to my original point – as I look upon my nephew, beautiful, sweet and so new into this world, his entire life ahead of him I reminded by his existence, that anything is possible.

So I live in hope.

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The seasons are always changing and I am looking forward to seeing what adventure lies around the next corner. As I wait, I will just keep gardening, writing and loving my family as the leaves gradually fall.

 

That Gift is Gone

It might surprise people who I interact with online to realise that I actually have very strong opinions about a lot of things, but that I silence myself – I suppose the saying would be I ‘self-censor’. I don’t say what I want to say because I am afraid – I am afraid of today’s society, the mob mentality that has been created due to social media, and because of friends that I love and respect. I would much rather let myself be told I cannot say something, cannot be someone, than loose friends – at least – that is what I keep telling myself.

Because. Well. I highly value the people around me. I consider everyone I communicate with as incredible – because you all are. Humans are incredible. Guys. We made it to the Moon, we have a Space Station, Elon Musk shot a freaking car into space. I can’t wait to see what we get up too.

Frankly, I hate hurting people. I always want to stand beside someone and offer support and be the best friend I can be – I was raised in a family of supporters and listeners and taught to *always* put the ‘other’ first, but this does have a negative, as we have discovered growing into our adulthood, we tend to get trodden on and walked over. We avoid conflict.

I avoid conflict.

I will choose words to make someone happy, to calm a situation, to appease people, to make sure they know they’re important.

It doesn’t help that I am very, very shy, so IRL situations are very rare. If you are one of the few people to have ever spoken to me IRL, congratulations on that achievement of a lifetime.

My mother once called us – my siblings and I – Peacekeepers.

But I don’t feel like I keep peace anymore. I feel like I hide. I hide my true-self behind a mask of smiles and flowery words on a screen, frightened of a world that would turn against me at a moments notice. If I tweet one wrong tweet, retweet one wrong person, if I write a character wrong or NOT include the right-type of character, use a culture wrongly in a book, say anything about my faith – I don’t know – ANYTHING – could get me in trouble. I have no idea anymore – and that is what frightens me.

I am a writer, and I want to write, I want to say things, I want the freedom to use my words and honestly I feel like that gift is gone.

I realise this is a really silly thing to worry about – but – it’s choked me up for a long time now, and I really wonder if the only way to get away from the worry of it all is to just delete Twitter, abandoned Facebook – other than for adorable pictures of nephews – and live free of those shackles?

Does anyone else feel this way, or am I just weirdly paranoid? I hope so. Then maybe I can just get over it and move forward. 😀

Finishing a Draft

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Last night I stayed up into the early hours, driven by an intense desire to finish Book 3’s first draft. I had left the cafe that morning two chapters away from finishing the novel and I promised myself as I got home, storing away a piece of cake, that I would finish the book no matter what – and eat my slice of cake! (It’s a tradition of my mine to have a piece of cake after I finish a book.)

I didn’t get a chance to sit back down at my computer desk until late in the afternoon, after a walk on the treadmill, by then I was in considerable pain, but I was determined – I wanted to finish this book. I had to finish this book.

Eight hours later I wrote the last words of the Epilogue – “He remained.”

Done. I was DONE.

Book 3: Messengers – standing at 113,081 words – which gives me plenty of breathing room for the second draft and the editing phase. I am very happy about that. It’s the first time I have felt comfortable about a word count.

Book 3 was VERY hard in the planning stages due to the sheer size of the Book and it was only after I decided to cut the novel down the middle – because, technically, looking at the plan it was really two books squished into one – that it started to take shape. I was loathed to cut it – I’m not joking when I say my series is already huge. Cutting the book in half makes my series just another book longer – at this rate I’m going to end up with a Wheel of Times sized series, not that I’d have a problem with that. ^_^

Splitting the book gave me so much more breathing room, I wasn’t confined to a word limit anymore. My panic drifted away and my writing just took off again.

I am really happy with how Book 3 ends. I don’t know if readers will be, but I am – there is a theme in Chronicles of the Children of circles, loops, of following a familiar path but you just keep repeating the same pattern, again, and again, but on a larger scale.
The idea, I suppose, that what has been done has been done before. I always got this feeling whenever I went hiking with my family, the paths we hiked on were so well taken, the eerie feeling that countless people had trekked the same roads before us I could never shake.

So, now begins the next step of the second draft, then hopefully the editing and maybe I’ll have a third book out in print, if all goes well.

A little bit of this…a little bit of that…

I haven’t been very well this week – I thought – perhaps, when I woke up this morning I might be alright, but, after pottering around cleaning a bit, it appears I’m still utterly exhausted.

I’m also finding myself in a bit of a lull with my writing – I’m still writing, I’ve written over 20,000 words just this week alone, but I question why? I felt recently that my dreams of becoming a traditionally published author were shattered due to choices I made almost ten years ago, and I’m still reeling a bit from that.
I want to bring stories and adventures to people, but I have no idea how anymore.
I am, frankly, feeling very, very lost.

It’s okay, though, everyone get’s lost on their journey, and I’m sure I’ll stumble my way forward again.

On the positive, my house is wonderful! Have I told you about my incredible, wonderful, amazing house?  No? Well. It’s beautiful! It’s my dream house. It’s cute, it’s adorable, and it’s perfect for a daydreaming author like me.

I have to gradually do it up, gradually save up money to fund little projects, but that’s the fun of it, right?

Over the past two weeks I’ve been doing some arts and crafts. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

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My garden as a lot of beautiful hydrangea’s so I am sort of going for a hydrangea theme. This is the beginning of a sign I’m hanging out the front of the house to direct people to the door, as my door faces a reserve and not the street. It’s a bit unusual.

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It’s almost finished. Just needs a varnish, hooks and a chain. I have contemplated a lot the last few weeks about how much I really, really need to own a drill. ^_^

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Hopefully I will be collecting my cat, Aislinn, this afternoon. Originally we had decided to let her remain at my parents house – but I’ve been getting very lonely, and was going to buy a new indoor cat – upon hearing this, my Dad thought that I may as well try to keep Aislinn inside as an indoor cat since she is getting so old and just sleeps all the time anyway. So, we’re going to give that a go. Thus, I made this adorable sign for the front porch.

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See those three frogs in the front – I found them in the garden. They’re pretty adorable, but they’re also old, in need of a good paint – and they’re red – why are they red? So confused…red frogs…anyway…I repainted them.

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They turned out very adorable. Makes me wish I could do more painting of figures. It’s a lot of fun.

And that is what I have been up to as I distract myself from pain. Painting is always fun. ^_^

Hope you’re all well!
Cheers!
KL

 

 

Protectors: Prologue

 

 

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By
Kylie Leane

 

The Blessing

 

This fire has been burning for you, keeping warm this aged Tavern.

You have journeyed far to hear this tale woven through time.

Each thread, each character, hero or villain, will tell to you a secret from their soul.

Mayhap you shall leave with courage anew or mayhap you shall linger to ponder the mysteries you uncover upon your own path.

Whatever this tale speaks to you,

May it bring for a time, escape from your journey,

A world to explore and new companions to miss.

So hold fast your flask my friend,

This tale is a rocky road to walk.

Meadows fair, and wind so fine, bring no clouds of dark grey.

To far horizons you wander,

So with you do take the gifts of the land.

May the Mother Deer feed you well,

May the Gold Lion protect your slumber,

May the Sheep of Seasons clothe your skin,

Let the Hawk on High guide your path,

Follow not the Dancing Stars,

That shall lead you astray.

Give the Forests a gift for the wood they provide,

So the blessing of Prometheus’ Fire may be ignited.

And let all know that you have been covered in the Morning Dew,

For no Twizel can touch that which is born of pure love.

Selwyn Ma’to

The Womanizer

 

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Prologue

“In documenting history there are two laws;

What you think you know will be wrong,

And what you do not know will be right.”

 

J.H Gibbles, DA20149ZE, Life, Love and Loyalty, Avalon – Pennadot, Imperial Press[1]

 

Land:  Pennadot

Sundate 8596DC[2]

 

Never had Chans seen the mighty, magnificent ever-green trees that forested the palace gardens bend and bow against the tunneling howls of the wind. It was frightening to hear the groaning and cracking as each towering testament to time bend in agony. Lightning scattered the dark sky-sea. From under his hood he poked out his button nose, daring to watch as strings of the bladed energy tore at the gray coils of the clouds encasing the high-keeps of Palace-Town. It was a vicious storm, lasting endless days, and not even Avalon’s environmental control system could quell the rage. Hesitating at the threshold of light beaming out from the open door, Chans stared at his tiny foot-claws just edging at the shadows. Each clap of thunder spiked his fur and fluffed his neck feathers. Truly, he had always thought himself braver than this. He was a ward of the King, a courageous little sorcerer and sorcerer’s scoffed at storms—did they not?

The tiny wisp of light he had conducted to life within a lantern hung loose by his side, but it did so little to piece the Long Night’s darkness. How he craved for the fabled Sun he had never seen.

It was now that they needed its light, to burn away the nightmare that had fallen upon Palace-Town. In the absence of the king a shadow from generations past had crept through the corridors, striking at the heart of Pennadot.

Chans trembled, searching the long path for the shine of false-dawn. False-dawn that could wipe away the foul mold that had taken root, just for a time. His lips parted in a shout of relief, drowned out by the roar of wind. Leaping about, his wings flapping, Chans scooted down the slippery, wet stairs toward the shining burst of radiance. It ploughed toward him and his small wisp, the rain steaming as it contacted the heat of flaming skin. In a desperate, frantic swing, King Delwyn swept off his diabond[3], landing amongst the puddles. Chans darted up to him, searching for the king’s paladins, or mayhap his knights, or even the handsome butlers that faithfully followed him.

There was no one.

It was just King Delwyn—burning like the Sun.

A false-dawn, a starborn desperate, panicked and frantic enough to awaken dormant blood, dead for centuries. Had the situation been different, Chans would have felt pride in the man.

“Your majesty!” He barreled up against the king’s armored leg. It felt so warm, so comforting. “I received your message! I posted more guards around the Queen’s chamber.”

It would not be enough, he had known that. No amount of guards would withstand what was coming. Not even the Time Master, the great Fairy Queen, could defend against the ancient sorrow to come and she was the embodiment of the very fuel of the world. His chest sunk in defeat at the thought.

Delwyn snatched his claw. “Come! Hurry, Chance, hurry.” The king broke into a run and he barely kept pace with the man. “He is here, in the Palace, walking amongst us. He is after the twins!”

Chans fumbled about behind the king, holding tight to the Human’s flapping cloak as they hastened down the corridors of the palace. The further inward they ran the more brilliant the king’s glow grew, until even the gloss of his pure white hair was too bright look upon.

Delwyn turned sharp around lording pillars, throwing out a leg and Chans bumped roughly against it, looking up in confusion. The king waved his gauntleted hand in a gentle, assuring movement and Chans shuffled carefully behind him, only to aware that he was still a kitten. Through the towering windows, and the clear ceiling, the storm cast dangerous, scraping shadows over large doors ahead. The very air itself felt alive, with channeled breaths and Chans clutched at his chest, shuttering at the heavy, thudding song waffling through the Secondary Realm, resonating down to the tips of his wings. It was ghastly, sickening, the song that ruined the beautiful melody of their world, gobbling it all up!

He had to fight back the urge to flee from the horrors within the chamber beyond.

“Wh…where are the guards?” he squeaked.

“Look under your claws,” Delwyn murmured.

Chans staggered back, stumbling on the hem of his gown. A knife may as well have pieced his throat, gutting out the cry he wanted to call at the sight of strewn blood, gizzards and bones. The pour men he had sent forth, they had not had a chance. Was he responsible for their demise? Shaking his head Chans pushed on though the blood, ignoring the squishing under his foot-claws as he chased the king who snatched hold of the double doors before he could call out in warning. The enchantment cast on them activated upon touch and Chans winced as a crackle of Rune forged lightning burst out, sending the king staggering backward, cussing at the Sun and waving his bloodied hands.

“Gwenhwyfar!” The king charged once more. “Gwenhwyfar!” Delwyn stumbled as the doors gave way, opening inwardly to reveal the russet tinge of the chamber. The torches strung upon the golden pillars lit in flare, swirling forth in a formation of a triangular wyrm.

He had barely moments to act, and his action was swift, unrestrained and violent. Chans threw himself in the path of the inferno, bringing up both claws and wings in a circled halo, forming a conduction circle as the tips of both appendages linked.

Blood rose from the slain guards, spiraling up his arms, igniting in runic symbols, forming a incantation to complete the conduction fusion and he heard the crack as the Secondary Realm split and a crystal shield erupted forth from the bloodied lines scorched into his flesh. The firestorm of flames struck the glistening surface, dispersing in a splattering of colors. Chans staggered at the force. Whoever had commanded the fire, had done so with complete control over the elementals within the flames—it was no mere conduction.

“Chans, stay here!” Delwyn shouted, diving into the choking smoke and green rising mist spilling from the chamber. It overwhelmed the man’s luminous skin, choking the false-dawn and without his glow, the world seemed so much fouler.

Chans squawked in protest. “Your majesty, you atrocious fool!”

Had it been a command from his king, or a command from his foster father? Chans narrowed his eyes. If was a command from his king, he had to obey it, but if it was a command from the man who fostered him…well…he could disobey and not suffer to harsh a punishment. Chans snarled, clutching his conductor.

“Oh, Sun Curse us all!” He marched into the thick mist. Each step felt as though he was clawing through dozens of pine-needles, scraping at his flesh, leaving shredded thread-thin wounds, dribbling his blood. He commanded the small droplets into a gradually increasing ball, spinning softly in his claw, poised for a moment of fusion and swift conduction.

He caught the tail-coat of the King’s tunic, scooting up behind the proud man. The Starborn was trembling, though Chans was unsure if it was from rage, fear or even pain. His strong, rough fingers that had so often comforted him in his times of need folded about the hilt of his sword, drawing the historic weapon free of its sheath. Chans blinked back the blinding light as it ignited down the glass blade, refracting with the royal’s radiant skin. The shrouding mist scampered away from what had once been a dull, blunt blade and like a cloak about his foot-claws the murk became a sludgy bog.

Chans twirled about, startled to find himself within the domed chamber of the King’s courters. The milky bog about his foot-claws leeched from a figure standing aloft by the crackling warmth of the fire-fit and Chans felt his blood chill at the gangly creature, frocked in the ripples of black tar. It slowly turned, revealing mutated features of a long dead corpse. The sound of crackling and popping maggots turned his insides, even its stench, he realized, was the foul scent in the misting air. It raised a bony hand, pulling threads of flesh away from its jaw to free its mouth into a leering smile that split its features. Out of its lips trickled fresh blue liquid, catching on the edge of its chin.

Chans gasped, covering his mouth. His heart fluttered.

The Queen’s blood—its color was unique.

“Dragon!” Delwyn spat, “How dare you enter my home.”

“Do not think that just because you hold a little toy sword at me, King, that I will fear you.” The corpse cocked its head to one side.

“Where is my wife? Where is she?!”

Chans bit his lips, tasting blood in the back of his throat as he worried the bloodied skin. The tension was rising, he could feel the energy of two Realms colliding bursting down his wings and it was agonizing, and thrilling, thrilling to be inside of a whirl-wind of intensely building fury between two opposing forces.

A chuckle from the shuttering dead man swung his attention about and he gulped back bile as the Dragon made a shrugging movement as it shifted on skeletal legs. The action caused the floor to ripple and Chans stepped back at the disturbance of the very fabric of the Primary Realm. His stomach twisted into knots at the sight of the shifting plates of light impacting each other, breaking away and shattering as information was lost and eaten by the monster within the room.

Something cold and wet dribbled over his nose. Chans’ wings rattled. His chest heaved out a rasping gasp. Every inch of his fur stood on end as a droplet of thick, shining blue blood slopped over his claw and he stared at it, agape in mortified horror.

“It is said that Ra shall fall to the great serpent…” The Dragon’s chuckle was distant in his ears as his head whipped up and he stared at the ceiling far over his head and he shrieked.

Pinned to the ceiling of glass the Fairy Queen was frozen in a horrified state, her arm and hand stretched out toward them as if in warning. Her blood, crystal blood, dribbled down her arm, catching on the tips of her fingers, from a torn bite in her neck.

“Gwenhwyfar!” Delwyn cried. “No!”

“Oh yes, dear little king.” The Dragon grinned, “Not even a golem can survive my bite.”

“You Sun-cursed beast! What do you do to her?!” Delwyn charged, blade igniting in a flare of starlight. He skidded to a halt as the Fairy Queen’s body fell, landing in a clunk of heavy, limp metal. Chans cringed, squeaking in fright as Delwyn twisted in a rush for her side. He felt the rip of gravity come a moment after the snapping crack of the king’s knee from the force of the throw that hit him. He was thrust across the room by a simple hand movement of the corpse.

Chans flung out his conductor. His ball of blood splattered into a circle around his palms, burning bright as he caught the king a swirl of wind. The Dragon whirled upon him and Chans ducked the blades of thrown air, dodging behind a pillar, panting heavily. He peered out, franticly searching for the king.

“You stupid little king!” The Dragon stalked forward, snarling as he thrust a foot into the chest of the Fairy Queen. Chans cringed. “Do you think you can wave your little sword at me and win! You are not even a true starborn! You are a throwback…and this…this fairy is a vile intruder, vermin that swarms the stars!” With a inhuman screech the creature slammed his foot firmly into Gwenhwyfar’s chest, leaning into her.

“Get up and fight me, Ra of Time, or I will kill your pathetic Human!”

“Leave her alone.” Delwyn struggled back onto his feet.

The Dragon’s head titled to one side. The corpse stared at the flaming sword in the king’s trembling hand. It must have seen the starborn as nothing, surely, nothing but another meal amongst many. Chans clutched at his skull, whimpering. Of all the memories he had stored within his mind, not one of them wanted to surface now in aid. His body felt like water, runny and impossible to move but if he did not move—

He would loose again.

He never wanted to loose again.

Scampering out from behind the pillar he snatched out his bladed pendent, slicing the palms of his claw’s and scrawling swiftly circles across the marble pillar. His gaze flicked back and he winced as the Dragon dragged the Fairy Queen up by her hair, letting her dangle painfully.

“Tell me Ra, was it worth it…becoming Human? Do you like these mortal pigs that much that you would lower yourself to bare their young? I am disgusted with you…my greatest adversity, reduced to this! Fear not, I shall put you out of your misery.”

His hand moved to thrust through her chest. At its speed, Chans knew not even the queens exoskeleton would survive. She had told him that much before. He gasped, staggering back against his scrawled bloodied fusion circles as her eye’s opened with a sudden, red flare. With a mechanical whirl her arm lifted, smashing a fist into the face of the Dragon. He dropped her as he faltered backward. Her leg swung up, collecting the skull and shattering the brittle bones.

“I put you in your chains, Dragon.” She spat blue blood, “Go back to your dungeon and rot!”

“This isn’t the end, Hazanin,” it slurred.

Chans ran swiftly forward, throwing out his arms and casting his wings in a full, wide curve. Blood conduction required few words, and necromancy ever fewer. A Batitic’s conductions were of the intent behind the fusion, and he desired to rip the Dragon out of the bag of flesh it inhabited. Ripping was easy. He did not need to be gentle. His memories told him it was like throwing his soul forth as a hook, letting it latch and then snatching it back.

“Activate,” Chans whispered. The surge through his wings as the blood rings on the pillar behind him burst was invigorating and he barely had a moment to realize he had thrown the conduction forward. The slimy, foul taste of something tarry and sticky filled his throat and it took considerable effort not to retch. A physical manifestation of touching a spirit was unexpected and new.

The Dragon twisted toward him, broken, splintered face contorting in pain. Chans breathed in deeply even as the beast reared up to strike him. Delwyn suddenly lunged, taking the corpse down in a tackle.

“Keep going Chans!” the king bellowed.

Chans thrust a foot-claw forward, rooting himself in a firm hold. He sent forth a ripple through the ground and he listened with a feeling of satisfaction as the Dragon shrieked. With a backward heave, both mental and physical, he tore at the foul sensation. Laughter would have erupted from his lips had he not been taught to withhold it, but the sheer delight of feeling the Dragon tear into a scattering of shreds upon impacting his web of fusion energy was beyond satisfying. Then it came, the exhaustion and it was overwhelming, like a wall struck him from behind and he wavered, landing hard upon the floor, snatching at his chest. The pain burned as fire in his veins, impossible to quench. Tears leaked over his cheeks and he sobbed as he reached out a claw, catching the final, weak little shred of the soul he had torn from the corpse. It was unlikely the king could see it, the silver little thread, but it was so beautiful and precious in his claw. It was not the Dragon at all—it was—

“Necromancy…” he choked, clutching the silver thread to his chest. “No Batitic has tried Soul-Weaving in centuries…my little…sibling…my…my little sibling…Zilon…he…he killed my little…sibling…”

Delwyn’s heavy hands clasped his cheeks, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “It’s alright, Chance, it’s alright. It’s over.” The king crawled toward his wife and Chans gasped, scrambling up and dashing for the collapsed lady. His claws brushed the bite marks running over the thighs, arms and the brutal gash across the neck, revealing mechanical insides that still whirled and clicked at her weak breathing.

“It…it bit every artificial artery in her body.” He gasped.

“Wh…what?” Delwyn gathered her into his lap. “But her metal hull, it should have obstructed it.”

“Papa,” Chans beseeched, “a Zaprex cannot fully sustain their hull in a golem. You know that. Hazanin-sama is only ever vulnerable in this state. This was the perfect chance to kill your offspring.”

“Sun…no…please.” Holding Gwenhwyfar’s cheeks Delwyn kissed her pale blue lips, brushing away her soiled hair, “I am so sorry love, I am so sorry…I was too late.”

Her body whirled and an arm lifted loosely and a hand touched the king’s lips. Chans glanced aside, unsure of what he was doing, intruding upon their beautiful love.

“Stay with me, Hwyfar, please,” Delwyn whispered, “please, stay with me.”

Her alien eyes clicked as interior, robotic lenses focused on their features and Chans frowned. She was studying him. Her voice was monotonous, strained through her shattered, voice-box, causing it to ring with a metallic twang. “The babies…they are dying, the Dragon injected me with a…toxin…my body…cannot process it fast…enough…in this form…”

Gwenhwyfar reared back, her body twisting. Grapping for her Delwyn struggled to hold fast her jostling frame.

“Oh Osiris…Osiris…make it stop, please!”

Delwyn snatched his claw and Chans jerked back, eyes wide in fright.

“Chans! Do something.”

Do something! What was he supposed to do?

“Save them. Chance! For Sun’s Sake! Do something, anything!”

“I don’t know what to do!” he cried. “Even if I could draw out the toxin, I don’t have anything that will replace it in the fusion. The magical black-lash will kill us all. You cannot just take something…you have to…you have to have something equal of it in a fusion…my blood isn’t equal!” He would have done it, if he could, he would have given all of himself—all of his blood—to save the Time Master, the one who loved him despite what he was, who told him he was special.

“Use my starblood.”

“No!” Chans squealed. “Never! I would never do that!”

“They are my sons, she is my wife. I am ordering you to do this.”

Chans flared his wings. “I could kill you.”

“I am ordering you!”

“B…but…I…blood conduction is forbidden! That is why pap—Zilon…locked me up!” He coiled away.

Delwyn held his shoulders, his grip was vice and painful, like the shackles that had once bound him.

“You trust me, do you not, Chance? Do you trust me when I say to you that you were given to us as a gift, and your Soul-Weaving is a gift, the Secondary Realm flows in all of us differently and it is the way we choose to use it that makes us good or bad…”

“Zilon chooses bad…yes?”

“Yes, he does.”

“But…I can save people?” he whispered.

Trembling hands, stained with blue, cold philepcon liquid wrapped about his claws. Hazanin-sama looked to him, and the shine of her golem’s eyes was despairingly weakened from its usual vibrant, mechanical burn, but the smile he loved, that had first captivated him, that was always there to send him to sleep met his gaze. “Chance, you will save millions someday.”

If she said so, he had to believe her, for she was a fairy and they spoke truth.

Breathing in deeply Chans clasped at his conductor, dragging the sweet sound of the Secondary Realm’s song through the crystal infused within and with a twirl and flick he slashed cuts across the king’s arms, pulling free threads of the king’s burning, ignited blood. Despite how weak his wings felt, he flared them, circling them into a halo, allowing them to catch the sweet, beautiful song of the Secondary Realm flowing about him and he swung his conductor, searching for the foul scent of the toxin, gently reweaving it with the warm, glittering blood.

The king slumped down and Chans caught his head before it cracked on the cold ground and carefully lowered it. He soothed over the painful cuts. They would scar, and the king would forever be left with the memory of the night the Dragon found his way into their home. Chans wiped away tears.

“Hazanin-sama…”

“Yes child?” The whirl was painfully weak.

“I think I only saved one.”

Hazanin-sama’s head dropped back against the king’s limp arm, her chest inflated sharply. A single tear rolled down her cheek. Outside the chamber he heard the calls of confusion from the butlers and the maidens but he could not look up, the magical exhaustion was beginning to cloud his vision. Chans slumped forward. His wings were just too heavy and they flayed loosely in the bloodied circle surrounding them.

The king’s glow grew ever dimmer and beside him, the Fairy Queen’s breathes were fragile, pained and terrifying. Chans clutched his conductor.

He had to get stronger.

He needed to be the greatest sorcerer ever born if he was to protect his family.

Blood was never going to be enough.

He needed something more, something stronger than blood.

 


 

[1] DA: Dawn Age – ZE: Zaprex Empire

[2] DC: Of the Dragon’s Conquest

[3] A hound used instead of a horse by many of the higher class due to their elemental shifting and ability to move through dense forest regions of Pennadot. Acutely intelligent, a diabond will form an attachment to its master, and will protect whom its master wishes upon command.

 

I can’t upload anything more than the Prologue from Book 2 because if I do I’ll completely give away everything that happens in KEY: Book One
But you’re more than welcome to join in the journey.
There is a Kindle Amazon version available and the Paperback version has illustrations!

Sami1.jpg

KEY: Chapter Three

 

Map 1 Pennadot

Chapter Three.jpg

 

A Kelib’s fist is strong but his vengeance is far stronger still.

Tangle with a Kelib and you risk the fury of not just one man, but several generations of men.

Their women, however…

Well…

I assure you…

Their women have but one agenda…

To take back what was stolen from them:

Their freedom.

Dustin, Sundate 1223, Between Kelibs and Humans,

First Edition, Alya – Pennadot, Scrolls for Sale.

 

Zinkx gripped the diabond’s mane with one hand as it bounded through the undergrowth. With his other arm he held Shanty tightly against his chest, feeling her hands on his thighs stiffen with every leap of the creature over the hill-like roots of the evergreens. He could feel the moisture on her skin from the dark mist, the wind of their escape leaving kissed chills on his bare arms. In the gloom of the forest the diabond shimmered with fire-spots from its elemental shifting.

Their pursuers had no hope of entering the forest with horses; the tangled loops of the vegetation were too dense for anything but a diabond to navigate. Humans and Kelibs were as minuscule as insects amongst the mammoth flora, and, at the pace they had set, Zinkx was sure they were well away from the village. Content with the distance, he lulled the beast under him into a canter. The solar-fungi, filled from the Sun that had long set, lit their way with a ghosting reflection of day.

The diabond’s large paws made mats of the surface growth atop the roots it pounced across. Strings of foliage and glittering moss swelled back to life, covering the tracks. Zinkx glanced behind them, frowning as he noted the resilience of nature.

“Amazing,” he whispered, causing Shanty to stir in his arms. “The people of Pennadot are dying and being carted away to be processed by the Dragon, and yet nature is thriving beyond control. This shouldn’t be happening. If it keeps up, the forests will revolt and consume everything. No one is holding the earth back any longer.”

“You speak as though you believe the forest lives. That is not Human of you. Humans think not of such things.” Shanty twisted in his lap, and Zinkx winced as the movement pulled at his shirt, tugging at the wound across his back.

“Maybe it does bear some life, but it shouldn’t live enough to cover our tracks like that.” He pointed behind them. “A diabond is in tune with the forest; it can manipulate the flora around it, but no diabond can command the leaves to grow…still, I suppose I can’t complain. No one can follow us this way. I can get us to my camp quicker.”

He shook his head and groaned at the ache in his stomach. “After all this fuss and bother, I didn’t end up getting any food. I’m utterly famished.”

“You’re thinking of food after escaping from—” Shanty suddenly gagged herself with a hand over her mouth. She turned away from his face to stare ahead of them as the diabond plodded further into the eeriness of the fluorescent night.

Zinkx raised an eyebrow, making a guess as to the reason she had broken her sentence. “Shanty…you don’t need permission to speak in front of me.”

She did not respond.

He sighed, tilting his head to the unseen stars above the canopy in silent plea.

“Khwaja is going to have a good laugh out of this one. I just know he is.” He squinted as they neared the camp, a pocket of space surrounded on all sides by the roots and saplings of the immense evergreens. His trained eyes noticed the almost imperceptible signs of Denvy’s presence. The light of a fire leaked through a hole in a mass of roots and ferns, warding off the soft starlight glow of clustered solar-fungi. A trace of the day’s warmth lingered in the air but Zinkx watched his breath fog from the plunging temperature.

He slid from the diabond’s back, landing in the damp moss. Shanty gave a weary bob of her head, making a move to follow, but he stalled her with a soft touch. He led the diabond by its shaggy mane as he plotted a way through the ferns that clustered over the camp like a hut, bottling up the fire’s heat.

Denvy was crouched by the flames, playing a stick in the hot coals. He glanced up at the sound of their approach, amusement wrinkling his brow. “So, you brought a diabond and a Kelib woman instead of food. I didn’t think five skins could get you that much in Pennadot these days.” The giant beast’s powerful baritone rumbled as the lordly being tilted his head.

Zinkx groaned at the note of ridicule. “Please, Khwaja…” He held out a hand, helping Shanty slide down from her perch. He sensed the weariness in her touch as he lowered her to the ground, shifting his center of gravity to bear the brunt of her weight.

Despite her obvious fatigue, she managed to stand upright in awe as Denvy rose to his full towering height beside the fire. A carcass of a pve’pt was sizzling over the coals.

“Why didn’t you tell me they’d snag me for hunting on the Lord of the Provinces’ land?”

“You should be intelligent enough to consider it yourself, lad. Your stomach usually does all the thinking. I am trying to teach you to use your other brain, the one situated in your skull.” Denvy strolled forward, his elongated legs carrying him gracefully, the leather of his rustic, patched-up pants folding over thick fur.

“Why is it that your teaching methods usually end up with me almost dead, Khwaja? Sometimes I wonder if you even love me at all.”

The elderly beast’s pale green eyes glimmered with mirth as he rubbed a hand-paw through his air-gills, tugging the knick-knacks strung up in the thick mane. “Oh I do love you, son. So much it hurts.” The Kattamont touched a paw pad to his barreled chest, giving his two hearts a pat. “My ancient hearts ache whenever you rush off on your adventures.” He switched his focus, looking down at Shanty.

“Hello, my dear.” Denvy extended a paw, slipping it under her chin to tilt her head upward. He stared into her eyes. The folds of his bushy eyebrows rose in warm cheer.

Shanty flushed. “You’re a forest god?”

Denvy chuckled, shrugging as he lowered his paw from her chin. “One of my many names, dearest. Actually I am just a very old, very tired being…”

“Of immense power.” Zinkx waved a hand in the air and rolled his eyes.

Denvy clapped him smartly over the head. He addressed Shanty. “I am Denvy Maz, Dream Master of the Northlands.”

The Kelib female dipped her head in response, hobbling forward a step in obvious pain. Zinkx grimaced as he caught a glimpse of raw wounds on the soles of her feet. They had been made worse by their escape, healing scabs now swollen and bleeding.

Denvy’s brow furrowed in concern and he led her to the fireside to sit on a makeshift futon in the flattened moss and roots. “What’s your name, dear?”

“I’m Shanty…” She paused. “Just Shanty, now. Formerly of the Eighth Clan.”

“Ah, Eighth Clan, heh?” The beast rubbed a paw over his wrinkled brow. “That explains your injuries and the tattoos.”

Shanty looked up in surprise. Warily she touched her exposed shoulders. The faintly glowing tattoos imbedded into her green skin were clearly visible.

“You’re a breeder.” Denvy crouched, studying the markings marring her flesh. “And a milker…a rare combination.”

Her lips opened to speak, but no words escaped.

The beast smiled and gave her head a small pat. “Don’t worry, little one. You’re safe here. That I can assure you.” He gave a small groan as he stood once more.

Zinkx tethered the diabond to a nearby tree, aware of Denvy following. The Kattamont reached out and gave the hound’s muzzle a fond stroke. Its eyes gleamed red, a simple shine revealing its true nature as an elemental shifter.

“A fire diabond[1], Zinkx, lad. Good pick.” Denvy chuckled as the creature butted him playfully. “She is grateful to you for freeing her and promises in return to carry you well.”

“She’s welcome.” Zinkx pulled his shirt over his head. Pain flared as the fabric came unstuck from the fresh wound across his back.

Behind him he heard Denvy click his tongue in disproval at the sight. “Zinkx…” The Kattamont dusted away the little buzzing pin-lizards that nibbled at the blood around the wound.

“I know, Khwaja…it’s just been a while since I tangled with mortals. They fight differently to the Dragon’s fiends.”

Denvy sighed. “Yes…yes…I know. I’ll wash the wound out for you. The pin-lizards should be enough to sterilize it, but you’re doing your own laundry.”

“Yes sir. When will the food be ready?”

“Thinking about that waistline of yours again?” Denvy smirked, raising his voice as he turned toward Shanty. His jovial attitude eased the remaining tension in the atmosphere. “It’s all he ever thinks about, I swear…”

Zinkx saw her hide a smile at the lord’s playful tone, watching as he poured a bowl of steaming water into a basin.

“Still,” Denvy played a rag through the liquid, turning it blue, “between you and me,” the beast leant forward in a secret whisper that was far too loud to be anything but a joke, “I have no idea where it all goes. Look at him; he’s a scrawny little twig.”

“I can hear you perfectly Khwaja.” Zinkx collapsed in a heap. He buried his head into his hands.

Denvy faked innocence, bearded face showing nothing but honor. “What? Did I say something?” He stood, passing Zinkx the fabric he had soaked. Seriousness touched his tone. “Get the war-paint off your face, lad, you’ll feel better. Let me work on your back, and then I shall see to the food.”

“I’ll serve.” Shanty promptly rose to her feet.

Zinkx twisted in her direction, hand outstretched. “No, you should rest…you’ve been through a lot.”

“I will serve.” She insisted with a glare, no sign of the intermittent fear of his male, Human presence as she headed to the fire-pit with a proud arch to her stout back. Zinkx masked his smile, her defiant streak an amusing sight after the exhausting day.

Food was a welcome relief and they ate without conversation. Instead the forest spoke eerily in whispers, groans, and shifting hollow winds through the glades.

Afterwards, through gentle insistence upon Denvy’s part, the aged beast had tended to Shanty’s wounds. He bound her raw feet in linin before settling her to sleep were she had been sitting. Fatherly he tucked a blanket tightly around her, warding off the night-time temperature plunge.

Zinkx settled himself carefully on his sleeping mat across the fire-pit from her. He felt his wound pulling at every movement and decided to leave it bare, hoping silently that the gathering school of pin-lizards would have done their deed by morning and eaten away any infection, sealing the wound with their saliva.

He took the chance to study Shanty while her attention was on the Kattamont. The respectful awe she showed his master surprised him. It was clear she viewed him as something akin to the forest gods of ancient myth. Pennadot was an enormous land; Zinkx doubted that Shanty even knew of the Kattamont race of the Utillia deserts. Those of the Southern Provinces would very rarely, if ever, learn of the northern land beyond Pennadot, since travel there was a long solar-cycle[2] journey.

“Zinkx, lad…”

He turned his head.

The beast’s pale eyes were narrowed in scrutiny. “I’ll keep watch tonight. You rest your back. We’ll need to travel out of this region by late tomorrow.”

“But sir…” Zinkx frowned darkly. “We haven’t searched long enough for the Key in this region.”

The Kattamont poked at the fire, cracking the wood into pieces, the embers sparking. It burnt softly, radiating enough heat to warm them, but not enough light to reveal their position in the murky forest.

“We have stayed long enough.” Denvy eased back on his foot-paws. “Fear not my aiv’a, we shall find the Key. Things will work out in the end.” Zinkx settled his head across his arms. His mind drifted to the battle-fields he had left. His nose still smelt the burn of sulphur. He could taste

the acidic rain and hear the echoing cries of death. “Tell that,” he whispered, “to those dying tonight.”

 

Chapter Break1

 

Her first deep sleep in many weeks had been peaceful, safe in the warmth of the fire burning through the crisp night. She had sensed the forest god wandering within the cocoon of roots, back and forth between her and the Human.

She stirred. The Human man was shaking her shoulder.

“Shanty…” His deep voice was hoarse with weariness.

She blinked. Her vision blurred and she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. He was trying to keep enough distance despite touching her. His Human skin was icy.

“We’ve got to go, hurry. We’ve been discovered.”

“My husbands?” She blurted out the first thought that brushed through her mind.

The Human gave a small smile, reassuring, the humor genuine in his blue eyes.

“No…something far, far worse. Come, get up.”

Shanty stood cautiously, watching him hurry around the camp in the weak sunlight that scattered through the canopy. The forest god pushed through the shrubbery. The giant creature smiled kindly at her, though she noticed it was a forced expression, worry straining behind the wrinkles. “Here—” He threw her a red dress that felt heavy and woolen. “I dreamed that up for you last night. Put it on.”

“Dreamed it up?” Taking heed of the urgency in his voice she pulled it over her body, tucking it around her robust frame to find it a perfect fit. The Human brushed past her, belting hip-bags around his waist. She saw a momentary grimace on his face as he added the straps of his twin blades over his shoulders.

“Khwaja is Dreamathic.” The Messenger glanced over her outfit. “He dreams things into existence. Come, we have to hurry.”

Shanty gave a gasp as the creature hoisted her off her feet, his large paws under her arms. With ease he set her onto a saddle strapped to the diabond’s back. She ran her fingers over it, wondering if it had been dreamed into existence along with her dress. She had not noticed anything like it amongst the gear. The Human leapt up in front of her and grasped the reins.

Shanty looked around. The camp had not been struck. What had been packed onto the diabond seemed to be the bare minimum of what they should have been carrying.

“Everything…” Shanty gasped as the diabond reared into a run. “Everything is still there?”

“We have no time. They’re not far behind. Hold on. We’re going to try and outrun them.” Zinkx spoke over his shoulder.

The diabond picked up speed until the forest was a nauseating blur, its pounding rhythm making quick work of the dense undergrowth. Shanty caught glimpses of the forest god’s golden fur in the emerald sea. He kept pace with the diabond, moving as though he owned the very land.

Only the glints of flaring sunlight through the canopy betrayed the passing of time. They had been fleeing long enough for the Sun to find its way high into the sky’s arc. Yet whatever was pursuing them was faster than they were.

The Messenger pulled on the reins and the diabond swerved to the right. Shanty curled up, giving a cry as he released the reins. His blue eyes flared green with rage as he twisted in the saddle.

Overhead a pulsing, vomiting shadow swelled. In the sunlight that filtered through the canopy, the humanoid appearance of a province guard’s corpse was visible for just a moment. As soon as it passed into the shadows, the image of the decapitated Human vanished, revealing the snarling beast that hid within the dead flesh. A cloud of shadowed tentacles fused together with plates of boned armor, acidic liquid of the underworld secreted out between the gaps to taint the undergrowth.

The diabond backed away. The monster tipped a head of rippling shadows toward them, a wide cavity forming a mouth full of foaming liquid and blades of putrefied teeth. Web-like strands of rancid saliva hung between open lips and dribbled down its chin.

“Stay on the diabond.” Zinkx hissed the command at Shanty.

“Wait…no!” Her shout choked in her throat as he shifted, loosening her arms from around his torso.

He pulled his twin blades free from their sheaths with an echoing twang of vibrating metal as he lunged from the saddle. With a crackling of coiled energy the Messenger commanded a bolt of lightning, controlling it with a swing as he hit the contorting shadow and sliced downwards in a swift motion. The lightning danced, cracking like whips as they shattered the air like shards of glass.

Shanty covered her ears as a high-pitched screech of pain echoed throughout the forest. The monster shifted into the light, for a moment reforming into its Human appearance before it disintegrated in the shadows of the trees to expose the vile beast once more. She wanted to wretch in revulsion from the foul odor its rotting flesh exuded. The fumes of burning sulphur emanating from the beast killed the plant life around it as it moved back and forth in what seemed to be some degree of enjoyment.

It roared and swung its inflamed eyes toward the Messenger who waited in the thick undergrowth. He twirled his blades; the metal hummed as they coiled through the air. The beast moved and he leapt, blocking with both blades as a claw lashed at him. The force catapulted him backwards, slamming him into a tree root with a ferocity that reverberated through the ground.

Shanty watched his limp body drop like a heavy sack.

“No…” She froze as the shadowy beast turned its attention her way. The diabond beneath her responded instantly to the threat; it backed up, snarling, as it readied itself to fight. Shanty cowered into the saddle as the shapeless shadow stretched clawed fingers toward her. Its jaw dropped in a lonely howl. Something in its maroon eyes, hollow like the void of death, betrayed visible lust. Her skin went cold as the foul monstrosity leered at her with an all too familiar expression, the eager anticipation of rapine.

The diabond backed away until a large trunk blocked its way. It began to bark madly in warning, splattering magmatic saliva that hissed where it seared vegetation. Shanty screamed as the shadow lunged toward them. She did not see the blow that struck it down. The sword’s movement was far too swift for her tear-filled eyes to witness. The aftermath was a wave of cascading water as a giant liquid blade flowed through the gaping wound it had sliced in the shadowed form. Water sprayed, freezing the monster in place amongst the foliage. Shanty watched in astonishment as the frozen shadow shattered into pieces, scattering and seeping away into the earth as the water melted. Denvy landed firmly beside the diabond.

The forest god held a gleaming blade easily three times her height. The enormous sword was crafted from ever-moving water, curving through the air in waves that continuously iced over as the air touched it. The water swelled around the god, only to be batted aside as the beast flicked a paw through the droplets. He turned to Shanty.

“Sorry, dear.” He tweaked her chin with a giant paw. “I had to deal with another before I got here. Zinkx!”

Shanty squeaked in surprise as the young Messenger dropped back into the saddle from above. She dared not stare at his back nor touch the blood that pooled against the leather of his vest and shirt. The stance he took upon the saddle was pained.

“There are four more, Khwaja. About a mile back. We’ve got minutes before they reach us. Your orders, sir?” The young man’s tone seemed dark.

“Then—” The god dug his sword into the ground. The plants around it iced over from the water it dribbled. “—you shall run. I will stall the Twizels[3] long enough for you and Shanty to get ahead. Hopefully they’ll find me far too much of an appealing playmate that they won’t go after you.”

“Khwaja.” The Human fingered the diabond’s reins and the hound shifted on its large paws with pent up ferocity. “I can’t let you fight four Twizels alone.”

The god snorted, pointing his paw at them. “Zinkx, it is far more important that you find the Key. Do what you are ordered to do. Run, now, from this battle that we cannot win…as you have done many a time…and don’t you dare look back for me!”

“You’ll get yourself captured!”

“Silence you velb-lep[4]!” The ancient beast snarled unexpectedly. “Don’t you disrespect your High General with excuses! I raised you better than that. Obey my orders and move!”

Shanty heard the Human curse under his breath. “Khwaja…please…” he begged softly.

“Zinkx, if you don ’t go now they’ll sense you. Go, run…like a Messenger.

Run and don’t look back.”

“Just don’t die on me, you old man!”

The giant lord gave a deep, gruff laugh, clapping the diabond firmly on its flanks. Shanty clung on as the hound bolted. The glance that the Messenger cast back chilled her to the core. His eyes betrayed a depth of sadness, as if in leaving the god behind, they were leaving him to death. She heard his growl and the twirl of his great blade, the sound of water splattering, the screech of one of the creatures, and then the awful sounds faded as they raced away.

The Human man was weeping.

She could feel his chest contracting with heavy breaths as he forced the diabond to speed its flight. Somehow, she wished her eyes would shed the same tears. The kindly old beast had been as swiftly and ruthlessly torn out of her life as he had entered it. Shanty sunk her chin onto Zinkx’s shoulder. The echo of the great being’s voice was a strange sensation in her ears.

She gave a startled gasp of realization. It was not an echoing memory.

The voice whispered softly in her mind like a lingering thought. Unconsciously she looked behind, her eyes locking with the flickers of the forest god’s haunting gaze even as they vanished with the rush of the diabond’s flight.

Look after him. Please.

The fleeting touch was gone, leaving her devoid of emotion until the weight of what had been asked dawned upon her. Her arms tightened around the Human man she held.

“I will. I promise,” she whispered.

 


 

[1] There are six Elemental Categories for the diabond breed: Water, Fire, Air, Stone, Light, and Shadow

[2] Solar-cycle (sol-cycle) is one Pennadotian-Year, the equivalent of two Earth-Years

[3] First Class of the Dragon’s minions – they must take a host body to exist within the Primary Realm.

[4] Insolent brat!

 

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Key: Book One of Chronicles of the Children on Amazon Kindle and Illustrated Paperback

KEY: Chapter Two

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The cycle is for Eternity,

 Eternity is the cycle.

The cycle was broken,

And we wept for Eternity.

Extract from the Song of Sorrows

 

A negative Zaprex darted through the city’s clogged metal boulevards. Despite his crippling age, Borukoshu maneuvered expertly around the large rolling machines that transported Black Fuel to the city’s ancient turbines. His visual circuits scanned the reflective, wavering, polychromatic glow of the force-fields, the inky black water sloshing lethargically against them. The secrets that kept the interlinked shields from collapsing under the weight of the sea above had long been lost. Even he, a Zaprex who had survived the eons since the Sinking of the Cities, had forgotten the songs of appliance communication.

Eerie artificial light smoldered a sickly emerald as it blended with yellow clouds of smog hanging over the vast underwater cities of Cal’pash’coo. Surrounded by the toxic sea, towering iridescent skyscrapers dwarfed tiny scurrying forms far below as the homebound crowd swelled in the tight streets.

The constant presence of the rusted, robotic carts chugging down the slug-riddled under-streets had simply become part of the unchanging environment. Those who dwelt above in the glorious tops of the skyscrapers knew naught of the muck and filth of those who were cast below in the foul network of forgotten alleyways and rusted pipelines.

With brittle fingers, Borukoshu tightened his overcoat around his frail form, protecting himself from the toxic world with the thick leather. The air might have been super-heated but acidic droplets from the air-ventilation for the upper-heights would eat through the green protective film over his fragile metal plating. At his age he could not afford the damage to his cybernetics.

It had been sol-cycles since he had bothered with a robotic upgrade of his systems and long ago he had lost the ability to regenerate philepcon liquid, the life-blood of a Zaprex. He was aging as his body dried out; rust from decay was creeping between his gears and circuits. Yet, oddly enough, unlike the endlessly young and beautiful residents of the crystal skyscrapers, he had discovered the wonder of growing old gracefully. In the journey of aging he had found a last, wonderful adventure in unchartered territory, for aging went against the Zaprex philosophy of eternal existence.

His race had been immortal in the eyes of the world, the gods of information and technology, rulers of time and space. Through songs, their supremacy and omniscience had developed: songs that morphed, reformed, and created with the ever-flowing energy of Livila’s magnetic field. They had named it the Data-Stream, the source of all things with a code, which they had cracked and woven into songs to build a vast empire.

Their gift to the aboriginal inhabitants of Livila had been to save the crumbling planet. For centuries, his race had used its technologies to weld together the fragments of the shattered world, and, with their machines, they had linked not only the lands together but also the many races that dwelled there.

Only the Zaprexes could do such a thing.

Once, they had carried the knowledge. Once, they had sustained the manpower, the strength in billions to stretch their resources to such a massive extent. Yet none of them, blinded by their prominence, had foreseen the awakening of deeply buried horror.

Now, they were only a shadow. A slowly rotting core of atheistic tendencies, for none now believed in the existence of other races or the lands beyond their sunken cities. Their society had become self-obsessed in their endless lives. They had forgotten, in their grief, the cycle in which they had once so fundamentally believed.

Sparks flashed through Borukoshu’s body in painful recollection of the reason he had hidden himself from the aristocratic culture far above. He grasped his bag of supplies to his thin chest. He still believed. Never had he forgotten the cycle, because he had been blessed with a gift.

A child.

Of all the things that could have been their civilization’s greatest weakness, it had been the inability to reproduce that had brought their downfall and the ruin of the world they had loved and protected like faithful wardens.

The aged machine skipped as the high-heels of his spectator boots threatened to dip into the holes of the wire meshing over the road. His long ears balanced him and he twisted, turning down a tight alley and barely avoiding the whirling spin of a robotic cart. He tipped his bowler hat to the driver as he glanced back, the exchange customary between dwellers of the under-levels. Words were very rarely spoken; secrets were easier to keep when one minded one’s own business. Borukoshu trotted down the alley, pausing only when a soft buzz vibrated from the hand-device beneath his coat. In the toxic rain he shuffled about, finding the slim hologram pad.

The lenses of his robotic eyes flickered, zooming in on the alert symbol. The flickering blue hologram swelled with pixels, forming numbers running down in a sequence.

The negative Zaprex hissed. His time was running out.

“Never enough time,” he whispered, and scampered up to the porch of a small apartment squeezed between the giant iron foundations of two colossal skyscrapers. He placed his free hand against the metal of the rusted door and watched as an azure glow scanned his biometrics.

He heard the whirring sound of the door’s mechanisms unlocking. The iron slab ground its way open. A rush of frozen air slapped into the aged cyborg and Borukoshu sighed in relief at the tantalizing chill. He scurried indoors, giving the iron door a boot. It swung shut, locking solidly into place to keep the hot, toxic world outside, and to confine within what needed to be kept safe.

From the upper room of his poky home, a harmonious, sweeping voice lifted in a tantalizing song. He could feel the melody down in the core of his soul. The song was just as familiar as the home he had built. He dropped his bag and slung his hat onto a rack. With a spark his antennaee sprung free, uncurling into the iron-rich air.

It was a rather stagnated dwelling, clean and neat as all Zaprexes characteristically desired a residence to be, but he had tried his best to give it a comfortable homey atmosphere. The floor was cobbled stone, but at least he had found a rug to cover the acid-damaged granite. The upper-floor was made entirely of metal, a frame welded together and fitted into the high domed ceiling to make the additional room.

“Semyueru! Tadaima![1]” Borukoshu called out sharply, voice scratching through his aged metal voice-box.

The singing stopped. There was a loud thump from upstairs that caused his ears to twitch backward as he opened a slot in the wall and shelved his overcoat within. The humming of an anti-gravity drive filled the small abode. Borukoshu twisted on his heels as the tiny hatchling[2] appeared over the upstairs balcony of the sleeping quarters, leaning over the rickety iron railing. A brilliant smile lit up like a gasoline bulb between cheeks still rosy with red blood that had yet to fully integrate into the cybernetic philepcon liquid.

“Biri!” The voice chimed out like a clanging bell.

Borukoshu chuckled at the affectionate abbreviation of his name. Semyueru’s phonological processing had yet to be fully programmed. Hopefully in time—time Borukoshu knew he did not have—Semyueru would grow out of his stuttering. Yet, for now, it was nice to be fondly dubbed a peculiar version of his name, for with it came the memory of his ancient cycle-companion who had suffered the same development issues as their child.

Hazanin.

The aged cyborg dashed aside the tangential thoughts. He had no time to think of Hazanin and the distant past.

Okaerinasai![3] Biri!” Semyueru squawked. He was pixie-sized, as delicate and beautiful as ever a hatchling could be. There was nothing unnaturally striking about the child; his cheeks might have been rounded, his hair a darker shade of raven, but overall he retained the lean humanoid form of a small cyborg, with green liquid skin covering still-forming metal plating. Large round eyes, like bright neon orbs sunk deep in pits of space-black, sparkled with inquisitive glee. The child’s antennae bobbed about freely.

Borukoshu felt his liquid lungs swell, the fleshy appliances inhaling far easier at the sight of the wonderful juvenile tearing down the spiral stairs with arms held high in exuberance.

“Careful down the stairs, Semyueru,” Borukoshu chided, dusting off his brown robe. “Your gown will get hooked in your anti-gravity and you’ll roll all the way down.” He bent; his hip replacement popped, but he ignored the sharp pain and gathered the bag from the floor.

Semyueru’s little form whizzed past, his home-spun gown a blur of blue, his voice a raw mechanical squeal as he skipped and looped through the air in a dance.

Out of millions of Zaprexes who had once lived, their declining society had produced one minute hope; this perfect little fairy was the only hatchling to emerge in centuries. Borukoshu touched a hand to his slender waist, recalling the months he had spent jailed up in his abode bearing the egg that had held his precious gift. Even if no one but he knew that his tiny hatchling existed, at least the Zaprexes had a legacy that would live on to save them.

A fusion child: neither a negative nor a positive Zaprex but both combined. It was a terrible burden for such a tiny creature. The sheer existence of a fusion hatchling went against the principles of the Assembly. No matter how shambled their society had become one ancient belief had been fed into the hard-drives of all Zaprexes; a hatchling would bring the fall of their safe cities.

And oddly enough, this one bleeding concept was the only one that had any truth to it and for this reason he had left the lavish palaces of the upper-levels to protect the only hope of the world—the product of his own programming, his egg, his hatchling, his little Semyueru.

Borukoshu hauled his bag to the main-room table, punching the cooling unit with the toe of his shoe as he passed. With a heave he dumped the contents of his trip to the upper-levels onto the iron table and pulled out the bottles of cold glucose liquid.

His weakened form tipped as he was hit roughly by the speeding Semyueru buzzing around in the air. He chuckled. It was always the same; Semyueru’s smile never seemed to fade. Though it was a joyful sight to witness, his heart never ceased breaking from the overwhelming emotions his cybernetic mind was not programmed for.

His time was running out.

The day of disaster was coming.

“Guess…guess what I..I…learnt…t’day!” Semyueru clutched his elder’s robe, fingers playing with the beads that weighted the fabric.

Picking out two bowls from the bench top Borukoshu flicked the lenses of his eyes downward at the child as he poured the glucose into the bowls.

The child’s eyes were enlarged by giant holographic glasses upon the tip of his nose. The spectacles glittered with moving cryptograms, still scanning data.

“What did you learn today, ne[4]?”

“The land of Pennadot…you…you know…the land with the Star-Kings! It…it once had de…dense gravity but the…the…the Zaprexes came and used machines to change it!”

Borukoshu raised his eyebrows, scooped the child up with one arm, and hooked him onto his bony hip. “I’m guessing you finished the data-pad on gravity-wells then, ne.”

Hai[5]! Hai! Is that dinner?”

“Correct assumption; this is indeed dinner. Did you learn anything else today?”

He considered it one of his main purposes in life to keep Semyueru’s mind filled with data from the long-forgotten archives. There was no telling when the hatchling would need to call upon information to solve a problem, and there would be many problems to solve.

Semyueru blinked, the soft click of his eyelids breaking the silence. “In our database there is information on only ten lands. Why are there so few?”

Borukoshu carried the child over to the small table, set him down in a high-chair, and placed the bowl in front of him. “Others could exist; our data-base has been corrupted over time, but ten is a nice, logical number.” With crippled fingers Borukoshu traced lines upon the table, drawing a holographic map. “Each land is connected by a border—”

“The tectonic plates, I know that…and they…are…falling apart because Livila…lacks a gravitational pull of her own. She is a half-planet and is collapsing into space. Our cities…will fall into the underworld soon… because the Black Sea within…which… we reside… is connected to a border…that has been breaking…a…a…apart.”

Borukoshu gave a sad nod, passing the child a spoon. “Hai, this world is dying…”

The hatchling’s attention was like the switch of a circuit, suddenly centered entirely upon a building rumble in the distance. Semyueru’s long ears twitched rearward. His face lit up as their abode’s dim blue lights fizzed. Through the air a shattering crack echoed as thunder vibrated the iron scaffolding.

“Smog, smog, smog storm! Yay!” With a spark of energy, Semyueru flew from his chair, around the spiral staircase, and up to the second floor with a high-pitched squeal.

Borukoshu laughed softly and scrubbed a hand through his graying hair.

“Guess dinner can wait…” He sighed, pouring his bowl of liquid into a mug and carrying it carefully up the stairs. As he reached the upper-level he noted Semyueru typing a code into a holographic screen over a crystal console. Shelves of data-pads lined the walls of the room, many of which he had saved from ruin on his trips to the upper-levels where the care of history was non-existent.

Semyueru darted away from the hologram and back toward Borukoshu, giving a whirl of delight as he clutched his guardian in glee.

The metal-encased ceiling folded back slowly, the iron blinds rolling away to reveal clear shield-glass and the sight of the expansive network of the glowing upper-levels experiencing the dimming of lights at night-fall.

“I love smog storms!” Semyueru let out a giggled shriek as thunder jolted the foundations of their small home.

Borukoshu snuggled into the cherished embrace, holding Semyueru tightly as lightning danced in the pollution far above and acidic rain clawed at the glass.

A sharp, blinding crack of lightning lit up the dimness and a roll of thunder vibrated the glass and walls to make the world sing. Semyueru bared his fangs, grinning in wonder at the results of the destroyed environmental systems of their cities.

“Biri? Why…why do each of the…lands…have…a…song?” Semyueru whispered. Innocently he looked up at the negative-parent to whom he clung.

Borukoshu settled himself into a swinging anti-gravity chair, Semyueru upon his lap, and brushed the child’s mop of hair aside from his holographic glasses. “The songs of each land speak of their individual splendor.” The elder held out his hand.

Semyueru grasped it with his tinier fingers and the spark between their green skins lit their faces with the passing of energy.

“Each land is unique. Just,” the aged cyborg poked Semyueru’s nose in play, “as each race is unique and each person is unique. Things are not the same twice. Once you understand this you will move mountains, my ko[6].”

“But when…I sing the songs, Biri, something…weird…happens!”

“Your voice is special, Semyueru. Someday…you will understand.”

The negative Zaprex gave a heavy sigh. “I’ve had a long day, how about… you sing me my favorite song, ne?”

Semyueru nodded, his antennae bobbing back and forth, and with an energetic spring he leapt into the air to spin through the emerald glow emanating from the sickly, drab world outside. Borukoshu settled back in exhaustion, loosening each tight metal limb into the weightlessness of the anti-gravity chair.

In the pocket of his robe he felt his hand-device vibrate in alert. Time was running out.

Borukoshu took a deep gulp from his mug. In the background, the song Semyueru sung as he danced in the air soothed the loneliness his soul felt. He studied the lines of the lightning, running in vectors through the yellow smog. They reminded him of the data-ways his people had once networked across the lands above.

Tomorrow’s dawn would be his last.

Time was running out.

The day of disaster was coming.

He sipped his drink in contentment, and smiled.

 


 

[1] I’m back! (home)

[2] Zaprex offspring of the equivalent of approximately ten Human years

[3] Welcome home!

[4] Usually found at the end of a sentence, and similar in meaning to ending an English sentence with “ , yes?”

[5] Yes

[6] child

 

Key: Book One of Chronicles of the Children on Amazon Kindle and Illustrated Paperback