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!

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KEY – Chapter One

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There is always a Key to a Door 

You just have to have the resilience to find it

 

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A Messenger does not deliver a message,

Without bearing a sword with which to strike,

A shield to hide behind,

And a friend to lean against…

When both sword and shield have failed.

Messenger Proverb

 

 

Land: Pennadot

High Moons – Sundate 8611DC

 

Zinkx gripped his bow between fingers calloused from welding armaments. The gloves that encased his worn palms squeaked against the wood of the fine weapon. His clothes, though intended for long, hazardous travel, were tatty and dirtied by battle and constant exposure to the elements. Olive-green paint ran in striped patterns over his tanned skin, mimicking the shadows cast by the canopy of the giant trees, their glittering leaves fiddling in the dawn zephyr. The chill of the night still lingered, and he could see his breath fogging before him. His slow inhalation matched the forest’s mesmerizing melody.

Every ounce of his lethal body moved with the forest beneath the twisted roots of the colossal evergreens, damp vegetation nibbled by fungi hiding his Human scent. Twigs nicked at his leather armor and caught in his long damp hair.

The pve’pt[1] he had been pursuing darted past him.

He gave chase, weaving through the mammoth ferns and leaping gracefully over roots. From childhood he had been trained in the art of gravity-control, manipulating the law that bound other creatures. Easily he kept pace with the creature, his feet tapping the moss-covered surfaces over which the animal raced.

Their chase stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

The high-hoofed mammal paused atop a large flattened root. It flicked its long ears, large black eyes observing the shrouded ferns.

Zinkx sunk into the murk, watching as the pve’pt waited. He eased himself forward, his boots leaving imprints in the dampness of the moss. Carefully he shifted his weight, making no sound as he slipped an arrow from the quiver across his shoulders. He raised the bow in line with the hunted animal’s neck. The cool breeze of the morning nipped his fingers as he drew back the bow-string. He took a deep breath, tightened, and fired.

The arrow buried itself in the flesh of a tree.

With a startled leap the pve’pt skittered away into the lifting mist. “Interesting…” A deep voice announced. “You’ve let it live.”

“I see no sense in killing it.” Zinkx lowered his bow. “There is a village half a day’s walk away. If I take the skins we’ve been collecting I can trade them for food.”

“I see.” A golden beast leapt from the blanketing ferns, landing gracefully on its hind legs.

Zinkx glanced at the overbearing form of his Khwaja, Denvy Maz. The creature towered higher than six feet, an average height for male Kattamonts[2]. His feline features had an eerie quality to them that was still disconcerting. Even after sol-cycles of being raised by the aged beast, Zinkx found it somewhat baffling how the Kattamont seemed to switch with unnatural ease between walking upright and his far more natural four-legged state.

“If I trade the skins, the pve’pt can live in freedom another day.”

With humanoid fingers, the Kattamont tugged his shaggy air-gills, draped over his shoulders like a crowning tousled mane. “Its freedom will be short lived…and your compassion will come to naught.” In the sunlight, graying hairs could be seen throughout the creature’s fur, his tangled beard glistening with silver beads.

“Allow me to trade the skins, Khwaja. What harm is there in this?” Spreading his hands, Zinkx implored.

A deep bass chuckle purred from the beast. He tilted his head to one side, folding broad arms together pensively.

“All right, Zinkx, you may do as you wish. I warn you though…” He turned, blending into the shadows. His long tail flicked through the undergrowth, fan-tip alight with ignited freckles illuminating radiant patterns through golden fur. “You’ve been away from Pennadot for many long sol-cycles. Customs could have changed.”

“I’ll be careful,” Zinkx called back.

The old lion smirked. “I fear that word isn’t in your vocabulary, my aiv’a[3].”

 

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Brightly colored prayer flags fluttered between the tightly clustered thatch-roofed houses. The Pulza region of Pennadot was a vast forest province, back-dropped by smudges of gray mountains. Since the dawn of Human memory Pennadot had been guarded by a circumference of highlands known as the Ovin-tu. The beastly-shaped pinnacles were the silver crown for the mammoth land of rolling plains and carpeted forests. Zinkx breathed deeply the air of his birth-land, its sweet taste a marvelous change to the toxic fumes that swamped the Trenches of War[4] he had been raised in. Eight months he had travelled, ordered by his superiors to leave the House of Flames. The Dreamathics Who Dreamed had said the Key could be found in Pennadot. Now he and his Khwaja wandered the ruins of long forgotten technologies in search of the illusive object that would aid in turning the tide of their war and mayhap even save the lands of Livila.

His dreams were haunted by the rumbles of distant thunder, the cries of the earth as the borders between lands were gradually torn asunder. A magnetic pull had once kept the Northlands welded together in the vague hope that as one continent they would be enough to create a physical spin. The continuous rotation was needed to sustain the existence of life upon Livila. He understood little of the incomprehensible technical analysis of the situation, indeed, he doubted anyone truthfully did. Undeniably, though, he knew that the world was dying.

Part of him missed war, the addictive adrenalin of battle and the companionship with his brethren. Beyond the Ovin-tu Mountains a battle was being waged, played daily like a game of gods. Pennadot had been safe, its people left to grow ignorant of the suffering war brought. Yet one could almost feel it in the air; the time of peace was slowly ending. The Overlord of the Dragon was gaining political power, manipulating events within Pennadot. Refugees were secretly being sent over the Ovin-tu alps to be processed into the Dragon’s armies.

He had his appointed task.

Even if no one knew what it was, or whether it was a tangible object, he had to find the Key before the Dragon and his minions did. If they gained control of the technology it would allow the terrible creature to spread his dominion over all the Lands of Livila, and there would be no hope.

Zinkx slid his hands into the pockets of his hip-bags as he joined the caravans and traders moving toward the opening gates of the village ahead. Sodden walls had been carved out of mangled roots surrounding the perimeter of the town. Trees grew to unimaginable heights and breadths in Pennadot, due to its low gravity and thin atmosphere, creating a world within a world, Human civilization was lost in the enormity. Yet, Humans and their internal drive for conquest had penetrated the mammoth forest with sheer determination.

He glanced around, admiring the work that had been achieved by hands alone; Humans had an inability to admit defeat. Streets had been crafted into thick roots, leading to small pockets of houses and market areas.

Color was abundant, the village bright and festive as he strolled into the welcoming hubbub of an established trading network.

Through large fungi sprouting between lavishly decorated stalls naked Kelib children, their green-skinned bodies painted in tribal oils of reds and yellows, darted after glittering sky-dragon kites. He had missed the sound of laughter; in the Trenches they were too deeply engaged in a war to find time to laugh, but here the children could squeal with glee. There was no fear of a death doomed upon them; unlike the children of his homeland who grew up knowing that their conscription into the armies would lead to dying young.

Zinkx scrubbed at his bristled chin and looked up toward the more obviously Human stone dwellings. Far up the twisted roots that twirled around each other in a spiral of roads, the sturdy castle of the region’s province lord loomed over the smaller, muddier homes of the Kelibs.

While Humans stood out like weeds, the aboriginal Kelibs naturally blended with Pennadot’s rich colors, their emerald skin and woven clothes mimicking the hues of their vast land. Though Kelibs were humanoid, they were shorter and stockier than Humans, yet far stronger. Their stalwartness stemmed from the naturally occurring high density within their skeletons, their near unbreakable bones often used in clan weapons after death. Effectively Kelibs were heavier in Pennadot’s weak gravity; unlike Humans they walked without a spring to their steps. They were a race of warriors, their Nine Clans in a constant state of war.

It was rare to see Kelib women in village life, yet he glimpsed a few wandering in their robes of threaded gold. Prized for their beauty, yet herded like cattle, Kelib females were a sad example of repression amongst the proud race. They were born for breeding, kept for their milk, and sold as prostituted slaves. It was distasteful to know they were considered no more intelligent than a mere animal.

He turned away. It was impossible to change a society deeply steeped in its beliefs and values. For now, the society worked, and it kept itself from civil war, even if peace had a price. He should not complain. It was, after all, still peace.

Bartering was a subtle skill, and Zinkx, being a commander of war used to bellowing out orders over a battlefield, found his communication skills rusty. The Kelib men behind the stalls gave him strange looks and refused his skins, despite their high quality. Dishearteningly he approached the final booth amongst the markets. He gave a warm smile to the young Kelib boy behind the counter and placed the cleaned skins upon the wooden surface. The boy blinked at him then gave a sudden wave and shout of alarm.

Zinkx froze as he felt a bag cast over his head, and his twin blades pulled from their straps. He went slack at the angry voices despite his body raring to move in swift, practiced action. He dared not cause a scene in the middle of the village; it would draw unwanted attention and possible deaths of civilians. Pain exploded in the back of his head as a swift blow brought him to his knees. He felt blood trickling down his neck and he cursed inwardly as his arms were bound from behind and he was dragged by the ropes along the muddied road. He heard Human voices, speaking Human tongue, and he could only presume that he was under arrest.

Typical.

His Khwaja always had to have the last laugh.

With ruthless vigor he was dragged through the village. Slowly he sensed a change. No longer was he outdoors but within the solid walls of the wealthier Human dwellings. Two men hauled him down into underground cellars that smelt of rich wines. A door was unbolted, and the bag ripped from his head as he was thrown into a dark cell. He slid over the sodden ground. Laughter sounded from outside as the door was slammed shut.

“The Lord will deal with you later.”

Groaning, Zinkx rolled in a puddle of foul water. “Wait…” He pounded the pad of his boot upon the metal door. “What did I do wrong?”

A roar of amusement made him cringe.

“No one hunts on the Lord’s lands, boy!”

“Should have seen that one coming,” Zinkx muttered. He pealed himself off the grime-encrusted stones. His skin burned as he brushed dirt from the bloody abrasions where the ground had shredded his threadbare clothes. He sat up gingerly, pressing his back against the surface of the damp wall. Slowly his racing heartbeat calmed, allowing the dizziness from the influx of blood to drift away.

The air was muggy, the cell clearly one that was rarely aired out. As his eyes adjusted, small phosphorescent fungi became visible in patterns across the walls. He focused on them, grateful for the meager light. It was the silence, though, that revealed just how far underground he had been carried, the layers of dirt and limestone causing an eerie sensation of lifelessness.

But he was not alone. In the stillness he noticed the fluttering of wings. A tiny flying pin-lizard whizzed past his nose and he watched it dart away. The little creatures that infested the forests were clustering around something in the darkness of the cell. Their brightly glowing wings made a faint halo around a figure. The pin-lizards were drawn to the salty sweat and blood of whomever the poor soul was.

The figure’s ribs were cracked, he realized, hearing breathing that was pained and shallow. It reminded him of a traumatized child he had once found, long ago. He gave a sharp breath as the pin-lizards’ glow brightened, giving him more than a shadow.

He caught a glimpse of her.

She sat, bound to a stake rising from the floor; her robust arms raised high above her head. Her long black hair, with blue strands that coruscated in the light from the pin-lizards, was tangled and matted. Someone had ruthlessly beaten her. The coppery scent of her blood was in the air. He could see the red gleam of it on her naked green skin. The pin lizards’ were nibbling at the fresh liquid.

“Kelib…” he whispered, and she cringed at the sound.

She let out a whimper, yet, despite her obvious fear, she glared at him in stark defiance.

Zinkx clicked his tongue, stumbling over the Kelib native language. It was rough and rubbery on his lips instead of smooth and slick like Human dialect.

“I won’t hurt you.”

“Liar,” she hissed back. “And you dirty your tongue with my foul language, Human.”

“Your language is not foul.” Zinkx managed the sentence with slow ease, “Just difficult to manage. I haven’t spoken it in a while, that is all.”

He gave a small bow of his head in the customary greeting of the region. “I am Zuksk[5].”

She raised an eyebrow at the oddity of his name. In Kelib tongue it sounded muddled but it was the best he could provide.

Shan’ta’lee[6] Shir-Hara of the Eighth Clan.”

“Shanty…Eighth Clan.” Zinkx repeated slowly. He eased away from the wall. Of the Nine major clans of Kelibs spread over Pennadot’s Human provinces, the Eighth was the largest and produced the best quality female Kelibs in their Breeding Farms[7]. They were usually prized highly in the markets, and treated with care for fear of damaging their beauty and productivity.

So why had one been savagely beaten and locked deep underground? Zinkx watched a tear trickle down her cheek. The glow of the blue strands of hair reflected off bruises and wounds now carved into her strong features. Even in the dim light he could sense that the strength that had kept her alive was beginning to wane.

“I have prayed to the gods for another to join me in my solitude. Yet I find you, Human,” she scoffed. “They have not answered me.”

“No, wooden gods usually don’t…” Zinkx muttered, looking down at the chains around his wrists with some disdain. “Still, I think a deity has heard your prayers.” He shuffled over the muddy stones toward her. The closer he crawled, the worse she appeared in the muted light. His throat dried at the sight of her mangled body. Such beauty in heavily-boned limbs and silken, emerald skin, long beaten into submission. Cuts lined her inner thighs and ran up her arms, joining tattoos engraved into the flesh with poisonous ink that shined in the darkness to display her as someone’s property. Up close, the sheen of the ink was breathtaking, enhancing her curved form with the twists and twirls that enveloped her entire form.

“Do you want to get out of here?” he asked.

She curled her upper lip. “Aye, but why should you care? You are Human and Humans have no care for Kelibs.”

Zinkx struggled to his feet. “Yes, it would appear that way to you. You’re right. Most Humans don’t care, but I’m not from around these parts. Things are different for me, and no one, Human or Kelib, should be tied up in the position you are in now. Let me help you.”

She snorted derisively. “I was cursed with this body. If I had been born thin and sickly like a Human female, mayhap I’d have been better off.”

“Maybe so.” Zinkx came to stand directly in front of her. For a moment fear shone in her eyes. He turned away from the haunted expression. “But you weren’t born Human. You are Kelib and you should not be ashamed of that. Here—” he lifted onto his toes. “Can you reach into the back of my pants? There should be a small pouch in there. I can’t grab it with my hands chained.”

He heard her sigh bitterly and he flinched as her hands began searching. Her fingers smeared his skin, cool with the blood that stained them. She yanked on a belt and pulled a tiny leather box free, dropping it on the ground.

Zinkx knelt beside it. “See, that wasn’t hard, was it?”

She snorted again, watching acutely as he opened the small pouch and slipped out a tiny silver stick. Carefully Zinkx pressed a slim switch on the side of the device. A heated beam of light flared to life, burning through the chains connected to his shackles. They fell apart, clanking to the floor. He sighed and rubbed his raw wrists.

“What is that thing?” Shanty inquired softly. Zinkx could see her curiosity piquing at the odd revelation of something new.

“A match-stick.” He waved it in the air. “Old piece of technology left over by a very ancient and talented race. Here, let me get your chains.” He stood over her. The air filled with the scent of phosphorus until finally the chains gave way. The Kelib woman collapsed in a heap. She lay, panting heavily as life returned to her abused limbs. Crouching beside her, Zinkx reached out, cupping her cheeks in his worn hands and smiling slightly as her large hazel eyes sought his briefly before looking away.

His smile faded. “Come with me. I can get you out of here.”

“Go with a Human male? I should not even be looking upon you nor speaking with you.”

“If you don’t want to look at my hideous face, then don’t. But if you remain here, you will die, and it would be a sure shame for that to happen.”

She seemed to hesitate, and then turned, looking directly up into his face, as if searching for something within his features to grasp hold of. He gave her a forced smile, and slowly the sides of her puffed lips twitched, her eyes shadowing in relief.

She nodded.

He reached out, taking up her hands, aiding her in standing. She staggered in pain.

“Your feet…” Zinkx glanced down in concern. He should have realized that the soles had been worn raw from torture.

The Kelib woman’s chin lifted in a defiant gesture. “They are fine.”

With one arm enfolding her sturdy waist, Zinkx led her to the iron door and rested her against the wall beside it.

“Give me a few minutes,” he whispered, pulling out the stick device and igniting it. It flared, becoming brighter as he held it to the steel of the door, pointing it to the hinge on the other side. It broke through the metal with a snap. He kneeled and applied it to the last hinge through the gap, cursing when it died away with a little whine only half way through. He opened the tiny box where it had been kept and cussed.

“That was my last one.” He searched for a new tool and pulled out a thin tube of faintly glowing liquid. He carefully tugged off the cap, and the air of the cell began to fill with a fetid stench. With a thin piece of wood he began to apply the liquid to the door. As the two came in contact, the corroding metal began to dissolve, hissing softly. The intense smell increased, until it ate at the tender flesh of his nose.

“Tell me if you see someone coming,” he muttered.

The Kelib woman nodded. She stood on her toes and peered out through the five small bars of the iron door.

“Who are you?” Her voice sounded raw and Zinkx glanced up at her.

She was rubbing at her throat. “Zinkx Maz.”

“No, I mean, who are you to have such knowledge and such tools? Why did they not take them from you?”

Zinkx paused, sitting back on his heels. “The guards took my hip-bags and my swords, but they did not strip me naked. You should always strip your prisoner. Not that it would have been a particularly pretty sight for you if they had.” The note of humor was small in his dark tone as he tried to ease the tension.

The woman seemed not to notice. “Tell me who you are.”

“Would you believe me if I did?”

“I am a Kelib woman; we are not stupid, despite what is said.”

“I wasn’t implying that you were.” Zinkx peered at her again. “I’m a Messenger.”

Her mouth opened but no words formed. Zinkx shrugged, looking back at the dissolving metal he was finally managing to penetrate.

He could feel her staring at him. He had heard some of the tales the travelling bards told of Messengers; fabricated ballads about murderous warriors, merciless and bloodthirsty in battle. Children would be scared to bed with such silly stories. For generations they had been considered myths and nothing more. Did she think him a cruel fiend from a story heard in her childhood?

“I don’t believe you.”

He grinned.

“Told you so.” He clicked his tongue as the metal hole he worked on gave way, cracking the hinge on the other side of the door with a soft snap. He stood with a slight groan of discomfort and returned the small pouch to the pocket in the back of his pants.

Then he leaned on the door and gave a heave, grunting as his boots skidded on the slimy floor. Slowly the door shifted, sliding gradually open. Light streamed into the dark cell.

“Think you can get through that?” He motioned at the small gap.

Shanty nodded. Zinkx slid his way through the opening and took her hand to help her through. Finally, in the full light of the tree-tar lanterns, he was given a clearer view of her, and she too turned toward him curiously. For a moment, they both stood in the corridor, staring at each other in slight astonishment.

Like all Kelibs, she barely reached his shoulders. She was forced to look up to his face and, from her gaze, she was obviously fascinated by his pale blue eyes. Despite her small stature, she managed to appear tall and aloof with her fierce, wild glare. The length of her inky hair trailed down her back and tumbled on the ground. He had to hitch his breath to keep his dismay from showing at the devastation done to her stocky limbs. Blood had caked itself over her skin, gluing together older wounds that were beginning to heal skewed. She barely seemed to notice the pin-lizards still pecking at the blood.

Her brow furrowed.

“You…you paint yourself green?” She whispered in awe and Zinkx touched his cheeks, feeling the war paint he had forgotten about. It was little wonder that she was staring. His wild, knotted, ebony hair and unshaven face painted to camouflage himself must have appeared rather beastly to her.

He shrugged. “It’s easier to hunt in the forests if you don’t stand out.”

“What color are you really?” A hint of interest was evident in her tone.

She stepped forward, wincing, as if trying to bridge the gap to touch his strange alien skin.

“Kind of brownish…like my…breed…ah…please tell me you’ve seen a Human before, right?”

Her stare was unnerving; she seemed to be studying every inch of him. “You do not look like the Humans I have seen. Your nose is wrong and your color is too light.”

Zinkx frowned, touching his nose self-consciously. “I am of the colored northern breed, a Wynnila. You would know the Soatrins; they live in the forests…”

“There are other kinds of Humans? How is that possible?”

Zinkx sighed heavily, his breath puffing back his bangs. “Okay…well, maybe we could have this…conversation later…at a more…appropriate time.”

“But you must see now what I am. You still wish to aid me?” Her hands gestured at her near naked form under the bloodied rags she wore. For a moment he made a movement to respond, then stopped midway and shook his head. He turned his gaze away from the woman bathed in lantern-light that revealed how every curve of her stout frame had been broken and beaten into false submission.

“Come on,” he finally tugged her hand, ignoring her question. “Let’s go. Stay close to me. If I tell you to drop, drop on the spot.”

He rushed her through the corridors, pausing when they reached a stairway leading from the dungeons into the castle’s upper wards. He breathed deeply as he listened.

“Two guards,” he hissed softly into Shanty’s ear, “Human, armored in…leather, not chain-mail…that’s interesting, must not be getting the funds for a blacksmith.”

“How do you know that?”

“Leather makes an odd sound when you move.” He crept back a few paces. “I need my swords. I won’t be able to deal with them with you in tow. One could grab you…ah, this way.” He turned, pulling her down another passageway. A door stood ajar between twisted roots. From within he could hear the sound of shuffling. He paused in the dim light and peered into the room, taking note of the weapons hanging on the walls and lining the tables. A Human man was polishing spear heads and smoking a stick wedged between his lips.

“Stay here,” Zinkx whispered.

He burst through the door and manipulated the gravity surrounding him with a mental command, using the momentum to sweep himself inwards, running swiftly up the wall with astounding speed. The guard’s mouth opened to call out and Zinkx lunged, smashing down upon him. With a twist he cracked the man’s neck and dropped his body onto the floor. He spun through the room and grabbed his hip-bags, reattaching the belts strapping his twin blades across his shoulders. Shanty stood at the threshold, eyes upon the slain guard. Zinkx grasped her hand and dragged her back to the winding staircase leading out of the sunken dungeons.

The walls morphed from slugged mud to solid limestone as they climbed, set together with nothing by the physical weight of the perfectly aligned bricks. Zinkx pressed Shanty against the smooth wall, one finger against his lips.

Cautiously, he released one of his thin blades, marking the passing of the soldiers he had heard. He could feel Shanty’s eyes on the weapon. He doubted she had ever seen such an elegantly crafted sword, for the smithing of birth elemental weaponry had been outlawed in Pennadot centuries ago. He was sure that, to her, the slender blade would have seemed something out of a myth.

He sent a spark of lightning gliding down the sword to puff at the tip as it met air.

“How do you expect us to escape?” Shanty whispered. “You can’t kill everyone. You are but one man.”

“Slaughter is not my approach here.”

“Then how do we escape, Human?”

Zinkx ignored her jibing. “Just stay close to me.” He twirled his blade expertly as he ran free of the stairwell, taking care to slow his pace enough to allow the injured Shanty to keep up with him. They burst into a hall that gleamed in the sunlight filtering in through long windows.

The two Human soldiers standing alert at either side of the doorway gave startled shouts at their sudden appearance, and grabbed for swords at their hips. Zinkx spun on his heel, pushing Shanty behind him as he curled his blade in a loop and thrust it into the marble flooring as though it was nothing more than clay. The leverage hoisted him into the air and he swung both legs upward and into a split, spinning in mid-flight. The iron soles of his boots shattered the skulls of the soldiers.

They collapsed into unconscious piles of arms and legs. Zinkx somersaulted, landed upright, and snatched his sword from the floor, the metal twanging. He grabbed Shanty’s hand and pulled her onward, winding his way around alabaster pillars holding up high ceilings.

“Move, come on!”

The sound of pursuit echoed through the castle’s halls. Zinkx threw aside anything in their path to block their pursuers. He navigated up a flight of stairs, his hand strengthening around hers in reassurance as she lagged.

“Just a bit further,” he added breathlessly. His feet, though booted with heavy iron on their soles, barely touched the surface of the cool marble. Shanty was slowing him, her weight keeping him grounded, and he could only imagine what she thought of their current pace. He doubted she realized that he was controlling her gravity as well as his own to speed their escape.

They turned a corner and Zinkx jolted to a sudden stop. Shanty thudded into his back, sending his far lighter body stumbling forward.

He missed the sweep of a guard’s sword by a hair’s breadth. Shanty’s lips spread into a cry as she was snagged by her hair. The guard sneered as his blade came down again in a heavy swing.

Ca vanka,” Zinkx shouted the curse.

Swiftly he dashed before the blow of the sword. His twin blades collided with the broader weapon with a shattering resonance. Zinkx twisted his full body. His twin blades slid up the enemy’s sword as he lashed out with a foot. The momentum of the thrust landed squarely in the heavily-armored man’s stomach and he tumbled down. His sword remained upright; its tip sliced across Zinkx’s unprotected back.

Shanty cowered as Zinkx’s face contorted in pain. A pulse rippled through him, like a sudden boiling of his blood, and his movements were no longer his own. He turned to the fallen man and dealt a blow through his plated leather armor. He slid the limp body off his blades, kicked the man to one side, and heaved open the doors to the hall beyond.

“Get in, now!” he barked.

Shanty obeyed. He slammed the bars down on the doors and shoved a desk in front of it. He paused, panting, feeling blood trickle down his back. He could see the red trail he was leaving on the luscious woolen rug as he moved around the ornate room.

“Human…” Shanty clutched her hands together as Zinkx returned to the desk and flicked through the files he found there. “You just saved my life.”

He glanced up.

She was looking directly at his eyes, as though seeing someone new in them. Quickly he scrubbed his thumbs into the sockets, trying to wipe whatever she saw away. He forced a reassuring smile.

“I took a life in return for yours.” He gathered a stack of papers, stuffing them into his hip-bags.

“What are you doing?” Shanty winced as a loud crash sounded against the door, followed by angry voices, the province soldiers finally alerted to their escape.

“These are files on refugees. I’m taking information that could be useful in my search.” Zinkx scanned the room and grabbed a robe hanging on a wall rack. He threw it to Shanty.

“Put it on. Can’t have you running around near bare. If we get back to camp, I’m sure my Khwaja can dream you up more clothing.”

“What is a Khwaja?” She slipped into the garment, watching Zinkx stalk the room.

“Khwaja.” He clicked his tongue, searching for the Kelib equivalent. “Means teacher, or lord.” He waved a hand in frustration. “Or father? I don’t know the Kelib equivalent. He is my master.”

A thundering crack echoed in the hall as the wood of the door shattered under the force of something hammering against it. Zinkx picked up a paper weight and threw it at the hall’s massive window. Glass rained around him, and for a moment the illusion that his skin shone like molten gold reflected within the sparkling shards.

He turned and held out a hand to Shanty. “Do you trust me?”

“No.”

“Well, I suppose that doesn’t matter. I don’t trust me either.” He gave a wiry grin as he hooked an arm around her waist. He lifted her heavier form with ease and bounded onto the ledge of the window. Shanty gasped as he bent and leapt.

No scream escaped the Kelib woman’s mouth as they sailed downward toward a tiled roof. Zinkx’s legs struck it first and he twisted, catching her weight with his own as the surface cracked. Shanty clutched at him as he ran up the tiles. He felt her bury her face into the curve of his neck and he tightened his grip on her.

A soft grunt escaped his lips as they landed, awkwardly, within the outer ward of the castle. Like walls the colossal roots of the evergreens surrounded them.

Shanty slid from his arms, pointing toward a pile of hay. “We need to reach the stables. The soldiers will find us.”

“Good point.” He seized her hand and pulled her across the courtyard. Shouts echoed from above. Zinkx glanced up at the windows of the castle; he gave Shanty a heavy shove into the stables as a multitude of arrows rained down. Horses reared high in their stalls in sudden fright at the battering of noise and their abrupt appearance. Zinkx pushed open the separate stalls, shouting at the horses and stirring them into a frenzy as they rushed from their shelter. Shanty cowered against a wall as the steeds cantered into the outer ward, the commotion that was already afire outside amplified as voices and the sound of stampeding hooves echoed off the stone compound.

The scattering of arrows stopped. The guards could not fire on their own animals; horses were far more valuable than escapees.

“Wait!” she cried as the last horse made for the stable door. “Take that horse!”

Zinkx bellowed back to her, “No, a horse would get tangled in the forest. We need a diabond[8]!” He rushed down the corridor of the stable.

He shoved open the door to the last stall, revealing a caged booth, the beast within asleep on a mat of hay. Its silky coat of melded gray and white gleamed with the motion of its deep breathing.

Fingers to his lips, Zinkx whistled loudly. The creature jerked awake, snarling aggressively. It leapt up, wolf-like in its elegance, a shimmer of flames glistening down its mane.

Zinkx stared into its keen red eyes; they studied his every movement, alive with intelligence. The language of animals was not something he had studied religiously, but what little he knew would hopefully gain him the trust of the magnificent creature. Lowering his tone Zinkx began to growl from the depths of his throat until the large hound whimpered and backed up.

“Let us ride you.” He held out a hand. “Let me set you free.”

It crouched against the hay, lowering itself in permission. Zinkx stepped forward and hoisted himself onto the curve of its back. He felt its muscles loosen as it rose and bounded out of the stall. Shanty gave a cry at the sudden emergence of the beast.

Zinkx grabbed her hand, pulling her before him onto the creatures back. He wrapped one arm firmly around her, gripping the mane of the diabond with his other hand. He felt the creature’s adrenalin as it leapt out of the stables into the outer ward of the castle grounds.

“We’re going bare back?” Shanty wailed.

All around them shouts of astonishment reverberated. The clanging of swords and shields resonated from all sides. The chaos swelled like a symphony and Zinkx could not help but let out a facetious laugh. Shanty twisted to look up into his face. He barely registered the terror of realization in her features as the familiar thrill of combat engulfed him. All the evidence she needed to see that he had spoken the truth reflected in his eyes.

He was a Messenger. He was real.

 


 

[1] Pve’pt [pahy–pit]: Pennadotian animal, killed for its meat, pelt, and stone-like bones.

[2] A desert dwelling race that live over the northern border of Pennadot in the land of Utillia. Very little is known of their nomadic kind, but they are said to be both man and beast, pertaining to their ability to both be bipedal and quadruped.

[3] An affectionate word used for a Human by any other race, a translation of it in Basic is ‘alien one’.

[4] Often referred to as the ‘Trenches’ or ‘Trenches of War’ – used to describe the battlegrounds between the Messengers’ and the Dragon’s armies.

[5] A direct translation of Zinkx’s name in Kelib tongue is Zuksk, meaning ‘boy-clad-in-iron’. In Human tongue Zinkx means ‘ironclad son’.

[6] Name meaning ‘Sun-through-trees’ in Kelib.

[7] Also referred to as ‘Clan House’ or ‘Family Hall’. The place where female Kelibs raise the young in mass numbers, separating males from females.

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

 

Shanty Shir-Hara_Correct Size.jpg

 

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

Bonfire Night

 

 

Last weekend my parents had some visitors from the Philippines over. It was wonderful to see them again after many years. I am the only one of my family who hasn’t visited the shanties, so I am always enthralled by the stories they have to share about the children we’ve supported over the past couple of decades.

As everyone was swapping stories, my Dad happened to mention something interesting – as he often does – Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night – due to him mentioning the time he, my mother and older brother spent in the Philippines on New Years Eve and just how alarmingly loud the fire works there had been. I was fascinated when he said that as a child, here in Australia we’d had a celebration in which fireworks and bonfires had been a major part.

My father turned to me with his knowing smile. “It was a celebration about the day when Guy Fawkes didn’t blow up the British Parliament, didn’t you learn about it at school?”

I was moue. “No,” I replied. “I didn’t learn anything interesting about Australian or British history at school.”

A couple days later and I was on Facebook and I stumbled across this trailer for a new mini-series. What’s it for? Yeah, the story behind that plot on November the 5th. I just sat there laughing, thinking how ironic it was that my Dad and I had just been talking about it on the weekend.

Our history, and our culture is so interesting – it is full of such incredible tales that I was never told. I sort of had an idea there was something behind the 5th of November because I’ve seen “V for Vendetta”, but I’d never researched into it. I rather wish at school, in history class, our teacher could have told the fascinating tales that gradually lead to Australia being the nation it is. Sure, we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Night now (though, I really wish we did, what an interesting tradition, and traditions create bonds, culture and stories within a country –  I understand why they stopped it though) but I feel the story should be told, and kept on being told, so the history can continue, and become legend, and that legend remains a part of the culture we’ve become. We shouldn’t forget where we’ve come from, and what has made us, shaped us – what scars have crafted us into the nation of Australia.

I love it when my Dad tells me a piece of history that reminds me we’re all stories, just waiting to be told.

 

Trying to Inspire Hope

So recently I have been struggling with a lack of motivation to continue writing.
It isn’t so much that I don’t want to write, or to create – it’s just that I haven’t been getting much ‘joy’ out of it lately. It has become a real slog to get through. The imagination hasn’t been flowing.

I’ve been asking those questions, “Why? Why do I do this…?” – “Do people even care for my story?” – “What is the point of all this work?”
Those questions have been circling my mind over and over.

And I’ve been trying to remember the childlike innocence and wonder in which I first went into writing with. The obsession, the excitement and the passion that fuelled me and the late nights I would spend writing. To do so, I have tried to remember…
I’ve tried to remember what inspired me to write this long epic.

When I was a little girl I had a dream:
I stood upon the verge of a bottomless canyon. Pieces of earth would collapse into the abyss from the rumbling ground, and I had to kept trying to steady myself. Not just against the shaking earth, but the roaring of an intense wind ripping across the land behind me. The side I stood upon was green and lush, blanketed by a forest and mountains rising up yonder. Across the yawning canyon, as wide as several streets, a golden ocean of sand awaited me. The sun was just cresting the horizon, sparkling on the dunes. I recall that standing on either side of me were two young men, and yet I had no idea who they were, for I had never met them, but I woke relieved by their presence and in such awe of my dream that I wrote it down in my journal.
It was this dream that eventually led me to the creation of the world of Livila, the Borders that divided the Lands. What I was seeing became Border between Pennadot and Utillia. The two young men being Zinkx and Daniel. Their appearances haven’t really changed from when I saw them in that dream.

Chronicles of the Children is an epic about good vs. evil.
About being broken to the point that all hope is lost, finding yourself so entirely defeated that you desperately desire to give up, and yet, you don’t.
You just keep trying.
Because you don’t know how to do anything else but try.

As I’ve been staring at the blank pages in front of me while attempting to write Book 3, I’ve thought about the character of Sam and just what it is that he experiences in Book 3 and I think I better understand — going through my own despair — the motivation Book 3 has been lacking. I’d forgotten about what the book is supposed to represent in the series.
It’s a book about being broken.
So badly broken.
But picking up the pieces regardless, and still moving forward.
Every word I write should reflect that.

I think, if I continue to remember that…
I’ll get back on track.