Winter Kisses

I’ll admit – I am in a bit of a procrastination streak at the moment. I am avoiding sitting down to rework Book 3: Messengers – goodness – I don’t even think that will be the title anymore. I am just that unsure about the entire book now.
It isn’t that I don’t like the book, I think it’s totally fine, I just think it needs work and I’m just…dreading having to think about all that work. Every time I visit the cafe, ready for a ‘session’ in which to tackle this enormous task I just sort of think ‘NAHHHHHHH’ – I’ll just do this other book that no one will ever read. ^^;

Then when I get home, having promised I’ll work on the Book I just find other things to do.

Ah well, I know this has happened almost every time I’ve done a book so I’m not too worried. Eventually the whole terror of the situation will have settled and I’ll have rethought the book in my mind. Then I’ll be able to craft it all over again. It’ll be a much stronger story when I’m done. I don’t like writing something I regret later. ^_^

Besides avoiding Book 3 – editing on Book 2 of Northlands Rebellion has begun, and it’s already very exciting. Elle always has this way of bringing out a diamond.

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Aislinn didn’t think much of  being outside, apparently. 

There has been gardening to do, whenever the weather has permitted it. While I am a huge fan of the winter months, I am not overly fond of being cold, but I am learning the wonders of a raincoat.

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On the winter solstice (21st of June) I did a practice run for my Burning of the Yule Log that I am having with my family this Sunday. Yes. I know – it’s not Christmas – but everything is upside down in Australia. You might also be wondering? Why are you burning a Yule Log Kylie?
I’m a romantic, fantasy author, okay, I think old fashioned traditional things are just lovely. Also it’s an excuse to have my family over – and I finally have an open fire place to do something like this in.

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I made this to go on my fireplace. It needs a little bucket to hang from the hook still, and for my Dad to hang it up. I’ve got great plans for some signs in the garden too. I can’t wait to start on them.

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What I have also been doing is repainting these beautiful old gnome’s left in my garden. I started on this adorable house. I first had to sand back the crusted paint as much as I could – which took a lot more effort than I thought.

This is the final result. I have to admit, I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. It turned out better than I thought it would. It gave it a new lease of life. And yes, I did paint the gnome as a Red Shirt from StarTrek. He’s got a little StarTrek symbol on his hat.

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There was also this concrete duck that had lost its beak and one of its feet. I had contemplated what to do with it for awhile. Finally I decided to just rework the entire duck into…a DRAGON.

It is now Dragon-Duck. I’ll give it a good paint and a varnish and add it to my growing collection of dragons in my yard.

So, what else has been happening?
Well – I have some crows? Yeah…two crows are nesting in one of the trees out the back. One day I was sitting at my kitchen table, working away, and I hear this ‘Tap, Tap, Tap’ at the window. I turn around and there is this crow, staring at me through the kitchen window. It taps several more times, as if indicating the empty cat food bowel just sitting in front of it through the window.
I started laughing.
I got up, got out some cat food (because yes, you can feed that to crows) opened my door and set a plate out, sat down next to the crow as it happily gobbled away.

The next day it came back. “Tap. Tap. Tap.”

I looked up. Oh. Two crows! I have two crows! One was busily looking around for twigs to make a nest and the other was once more demanding food.

Thus for the past few days, like clockwork, I get a “Tap. Tap. Tap.” On my living room window.

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I do believe they’ve made a nest in the tree where I park my car. So I hope they don’t get to territorial when Mrs. Crow has her babies – or I at least hope they know who I am.

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And life continues to slowly move forward here in the Writer’s Cottage. I’ll keep you updated on the next books. Thanks for stopping by.
Keep well,
Best wishes,
Kylie

 

Scribbling Characters

The Mirror’s of Tikal is the second book in Northland Rebellion– the sub-series to Chronicles of the Children that started with Orphans and Outcasts. I’ve been having a lot of fun rewriting it – as I finally feel like the merging of Chronicles of the Children Book 3 and eventually what transpires in Book 5, is slowly coming together, and it is all very, very exciting. I can’t wait to write it all. It fills me with so much excitement.

If you have read my series, you’ll know a lot of what goes on has been spread over a long period of time – and Chronicles of the Children is really set in just a fraction of Livila’s history.

The focal character of Orphans and Outcasts and The Mirror’s of Tikal is Denvy Maz; the old Dream Master of the Northlands, who has lost his immortality due to a binding yoke placed upon him by Twizels. Denvy is one of the environmental programs created by the Zaprex Nefertem to replace the Elemental Titans after the Thousand Sol-Cycle War. It is Denvy’s history, why he fled the war, and what happened between him fleeing the war, ending back in Pennadot to be captured and shipped off to Utillia that is pretty much the immense chunk of history that needs to be filled in.

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I often get asked ‘Why Chronicles of the Children?’ It sounds like it’s a series written for children. It’s actually really simple – the over all series is about the children of the Zaprexes, and the family’s that emerge out of those children, and the impact those children have on a world history. And I’m not always referring to biological children either.

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In The Mirror’s of Tikal I decided to start weaving in some of the history that shaped Livila after the Thousand Sol-Cycle Wars.
In the ‘prologues’ before each chapter, you’ll be meeting Disgleirio – an ancestor of David and Daniel – who took it upon himself to raise up Pennadot after it’s collapse from the vacuum left by the fall of the Zaprex Empire.

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Disgleirio get’s his own ‘Prologue’ novel called ‘The King who Wanders‘ – but you know with how much writing I have to do, I don’t know when I’ll write it, so this is the best I can do to weave the story quickly into the narrative – as past events have ripples that alter the future. (For anyone wondering, Disgleirio is Malik’s younger brother…and it is to protect Disgleirio’s children that Malik establishes the Mahvash.)

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You’ll also meet Skri Mazaki – a distant relation to Skyeola and Chans – an outcast Tech-Talker of the Batitic Empire, one of the few remaining Tech-Talkers left after the Dragon ordered the execution of all technomancers during the Thousand Sol-Cycle War.
Have you been wondering where that Dream Stone Skyeola and Chans have, came from? How it relates to ANYTHING in this saga? Well. Oh. Well. Wonder no more, readers. In The Mirrors of Tikal you’ll learn about how and why the Mazaki Brother’s have a Dream Stone, and in Book 3 of Chronicles of the Children just let…let…it sink in…
Also, pay really close attention to any further mentions of Skri Mazaki because I promise you, his existence is practically the most important thing to the plot of Chronicles of the Children Book 5. Yes. It’s going to get complicated.

World-building – world-history – character scribbling – and eventually writing everything down into a narrative is truly satisfying.
Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to tell you my stories and share my world with you.

 

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

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.

KEY: Chapter Three

 

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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 – Prologue

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By
Kylie Leane

 

Mum and Dad

You have always provided me with unconditional love, care and ever-available support.

You are my Towers.

Thank you for giving me the resilience to survive through my pain

and the belief that there are some dreams that are

worth chasing, stories worth telling, and love worth giving.

 

 

 

The Blessing.jpg

We all start out on a road thinking we know the path sure and true –

But, I tell you now, we cannot possibly fathom the twists and turns in which our story shall go.

Instead, the Great Inker of the skies beyond writes our ever-flowing saga with celestial dust to spin us ever onward through life.

Though we may lose and we may gain,

there is never a thread left unwoven or a reason left unknown in any tale that is told.

I say unto you fellow wayfarers of well-worn paths, take up your pack, your blade, your cloak,

and lantern for there is darkness ahead.

You will need your light to guide you,

your pack to feed you, your blade to protect you, and your cloak to warm you along this tale.

It is customary in Pennadot when a traveler leaves a way-side inn

to speak blessings to the Sun by the resident

altar and wash hands in the liquid gold by the door.

So here I give you a blessing to send you on your way, dear friend:

May the blazing Sun always shine behind you,

May the wind blow westward for you,

And may the stars dance your road to light the way homeward,

So shall the fair and bliss favor you,

O traveler of myths, legends, and tales.

Fear not the blood, the tears of sorrow,

For a narrow road that is lonely and fraught with despair,

Will bring you to a City laden with Gold.

Sun-Saint Abl’ayn – Sundate 0298DC

 

 

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There is nothing that is greater in valor than to die in the place of another.

Pennadotian Human Proverb

 

Land: Pennadot

Black Day – Sundate 8600DC[1]

A vibrating twang of blades, mixed with the cries of death, spurred three children onward through the russet gloom of the golden Palace crested upon a hill. Fear of being caught up amongst the bloody battle forced strength into their exhausted limbs. Twisted shadows flickered between massive pillars that reached like claws to the high ceilings. David pulled his sobbing twin by the wrist. A dagger hung loose in his free hand, dribbling the blood of those he had slain over the floor in a scattered trail behind them.

A haze of yellow light, dancing with the glow of distant flames, shone through the colossal windows, burning the shadows like inked prints into the walls. In the valley below the Palace, the vast metropolis smoldered. Ash held a blanket over the evening, lavishing the glass, and seeping between cracks to gain entrance into the holy untainted grounds.

A soft tinkling sound reached his ears; a jingle of royal gold chimed in time with the sound of footfalls echoing through the alabaster halls.

Daniel hiccupped a sob.

David spun, pressing his hand against his twin’s mouth.

He glanced at the small girl staring at him in fright. She seemed as delicately perfect and breakable as a porcelain doll, with skin and hair ashen white. He thrust his twin into her arms, mouthing the words, “Citla, silence him.”

The girl scurried to obey as David led them further down the hall, out of earshot, slowing his pace to allow Citla a moment to comfort the weeping Daniel.

Tsk valai[2].” With a twist of his wrist David pointed his blade at his brother. “By the Sun, be silent! Or do you wish me to kill again? No one can see us leave, do you hear me? No one. I will kill whomever notices us. Now be silent…” A flare of pain caught him in the chest, the potency of it causing him to stagger forward as he rasped a gurgling cough. He tasted blood in his mouth and felt it trickle out of his lips.

With a cry, Daniel scrambled to his side.

“David, stop! You are pushing yourself too hard. Your illness will hurt you more.”

Tsk.” David pressed Daniel back into Citla’s arms. “We must hurry.” He wiped the blood away.

He shoved them both forward. “Move!”

They ran deeper into the Palace’s twisting corridors.

David ignored the burning in his chest; each breath challenging his rotting lungs.

It was all too late; the wheels of war were spinning. By now he was sure his father, the Sovereign King, would be engaged in battle with Zilon, Steward to the Throne.

He knew already who would win: Zilon the Steward, their once trusted uncle and the King’s right hand. Only, why was he taking such lengths to destroy Pennadot in a single, crushing night of mayhem and treachery? His attention shifted, and he skidded to a halt. He grabbed Daniel and Citla and pushed them behind him in protection. Thick shadows curled like tentacles across the floor. A tall figure stepped free of the blackened waves, dashing them to one side as though they were dust. David relaxed as a gentle voice spoke. “Milord Prince…”

“Chans.” The young prince replied with a nod.

The creature wandered forward on elongated legs. Large foot-claws, shaped in a horse-like curvature, tapped upon the marble floor. Around the slender ankles a shredded robe dragged, tainted with the filth of battle. Chans was elegantly graceful, standing with an air of superior breeding. Large black, leathery wings folded against his back, yet to lose all their childhood feathers, but already large enough for the young Batitic to cocoon safely within. His thin, slanted eyes shone cinder red. David felt them boring into him, spying the blood that stained his shirt and hands. He wrinkled his nose. The Batitic exuded the odor of blood conduction, a sickly magical stench akin to a poisonous sweat.

“You managed to get Skyeola?” David whispered in hope for the infant he had feared they would lose to the war.

Chans inclined his head, extending one wing to reveal a basket tied to his waist. Within, a babe slept a magically-induced sleep. “I would not leave my little brother in this mess,” he whispered fondly. His bestial appearance seemed more like a tender lioness as he glanced toward the purring nursling. Carefully he closed his wings to hide the precious bundle.

“I did as you asked, Milord.” The Batitic threw a bag to David.

The prince caught it and peered into it, nodding at the contents. “Thank you. Now, you must take Daniel and Citla.” Motioning to the two behind him he paused, coughing up more blood.

Daniel stepped forward in concern. Citla’s hand caught him. With the hem of his shirt David wiped blood from his chin.

“Take them out of the Palace. A group of Papa’s faithful paladins will meet you in the underground passages.” He felt the rasp in his voice and fought to keep his words a firm, sharp order that were not to be disobeyed. They were a clear display of his authority as a child of the starblood.

Chans bowed in acknowledgement. “I will do as you command, Milord Prince.”

Quickly David stripped out of his ruined clothing and changed into a fresh outfit pulled from the sack, suppressing the feeling that this might be the last time he would ever see his brother. He could see the confusion in Daniel’s eyes as Citla tugged him toward Chans.

“You had best hurry.” Chans shifted on his foot-claws uneasily. “My father is in the Ljotruaithne[3]. The province lords will break through the Palace doors at any moment. They will kill you if they find you here.”

David snorted. “Such is the plan.” He buckled the royal jewels around his neck, their weight all too familiar.

“Wait…” Daniel whimpered. “Those are my clothes…that…that is my crown.” He grabbed David’s bloodied hands, stalling him from placing the golden leafy circlet atop his own head.

Tsk, Daniel.” David glared at his brother. “The province lords want you dead. You are the last heir to the Emerald Throne and of the starblood. To gain rulership over Pennadot they must kill you. Someone has to die today, and since I am already dying it matters not if it is me.” His voice broke for a moment as his twin’s green eyes overflowed with tears.

Daniel’s grasp slackened, releasing his brother’s arms as he stepped back, shaking his head. “You are pretending to be me…to trick them…”

David turned slowly. He had clothed himself in royal attire, displayed as a being to be worshiped in the glory of the starblood that burned in his veins, his skin lambent with cosmic light.

“That is why we were born identical, Daniel, in every detail. That is why I was never exposed, why Papa never revealed that I existed.” With more maturity than he had ever shown as a child, David reached out. Gently, he gripped his brother’s cheeks and kissed him, wanting nothing more than to remain with him.

“I was born,” he choked back blood, “so that you could live and I…I was given this illness…so that I could die for you. Pennadot must have an heir after this night. Zilon and the province lords will lose if I do this! Papa will not die in vain.”

Daniel jerked to one side. “No…no… no…no!” he screeched. “I will not let you! I order you to stop and come with us!”

“It is too late.” David smiled weakly. “This is bigger than us. It always has been.” He shoved Daniel into Chans’ strong claws. The young Batitic grabbed the prince by the shoulder, ignoring his protests.

David glanced at Citla. In her frilly black dress she was the perfect little toy of the courts. Always they had been paraded like miniature adults, and, today, they had to be those adults. To live as children any longer would spell their deaths. Reaching out he pressed a finger to her lips, brushing aside a tear that trickled down her white cheek.

“Look after him always, Citla,” he whispered. “I entrust him to your care. Be with him. Never let him out of your sight…promise me this!”

Citla nibbled her lip. “I promise, your highness.” She followed Chans and Daniel into the yellow-stained darkness.

Chans glanced back. “Goodbye, Milord Prince,” he said as he vanished in a swell of shadows.

David fisted his hands, breathing deeply through lungs riddled with holes and filling with cursed starblood. He tilted his head toward the sky encased in the pillows of smoke. This day of blackness and never-ending night was the day he had been born for, and this was the night he would finally die.

He could not fathom what had caused Zilon to become a twisted monster who would betray the Emerald Throne but he did know one thing; he would die in his brother’s stead.

And he was not afraid.

No.

He was not afraid.

Chapter Break3

The humidity was stifling. Sweat dribbled off Chans’ furred skin. He tightened his grip on his conductor, a stick comprised of twirled wood and crystal with a small light radiating from the tip. The glow was enough to pierce the murky darkness of the ancient catacombs beneath Palace-Town. Forgotten roads had long been buried under thousands of sol-cycles of dirt. Like a network of spider-webs, the tunnels snaked their way beneath the colossal city built upon the hill of cities before it.

Very few maps had been drawn of the never-ending network. None save the royal family knew of its true purpose from centuries long past when the Lands of Livila had been at their peak and civilization had soared to magnificent heights.

Chans held within his mind the blueprints he had studied all his life. He had known since childhood that his ability to recall images had been a gift, for the catacombs would become his new home. After tonight, returning to the surface world would mean his death. His father’s anger would burn in a rage if ever he discovered that his eldest child had betrayed the Dragon to whom his blood-clan had sold their souls. Instead, Chans had chosen to save the royal heir of the Emerald Throne.

He could hear the young prince crying bitterly as they ran, and, with a swift glance behind, he saw Citla dragging him as he stumbled. She would not let him go, for David had ordered her to remain forever at Daniel’s side.

Soon the little prince would forget that he had ever had a brother who had once been the braver in the face of death. David’s existence would haunt all who remembered him in sol-cycles to come. Of that Chans was sure.

“How much further?” Citla’s soft voice carried through the darkness. The murk dragged at his limbs, thick like a cloak draped in the air, wanting to pull him back into the light above ground.

He smiled weakly. “Not much longer now.” He slowed his pace, foot-claws scraping the wet stones. Worriedly he checked under his wings. His baby brother was still safely cocooned therein. If all went well, the child would be returned to the surface and back into the arms of their father; none the wiser of the terrors that had been hidden from him.

An inhuman whine escaped from the back of Chans’ throat. It hurt knowing he would have to return his brother to the same man who would impassively murder a child such as David, but he had no choice. Skyeola belonged in the light, for a little while longer. He could only hope the kitten would grow up untarnished by their father’s ambitions.

“Come, come, this way.” He waved Citla and Daniel into a tunnel that opened up sharply on their left. Daniel’s weeping eased to painful sobs, muffled by the sodden walls dripping with acidic water. There was an abrupt whiff of fresher air. Chans tipped his head to one side; he caught the muted sounds of voices. Relief washed over him. He knew them, one was a deep baritone that he recognized as that of Lord Davies Telvon of the Icali-pi Province, one of the few lords who remained faithful to the Emerald Throne.

Flickering light drew them nearer as another voice joined the quiet conversation. By its sweet notes, it was obviously Lord Davies’ wife. It was a comforting sound to hear, and Chans was glad she had survived the horrors of battle. He knew she was with child. It was only natural, he felt, to fear for a woman who held another life within her.

He relaxed as they reached the small gathering of paladins. His job was now complete. In his five and ten sol-cycles of life, he knew he had already accomplished the task set by the tiny alien creature who stood waiting in the milky shadows.

Hazanin was the only Zaprex he had ever laid eyes upon. Some rumored him to be the last of the ancient, technologically-advanced race that had once ruled the stars above and healed the lands below. He stood only midriff-height to a Human; though humanoid in his limbs, the creature was too slim to be a living being with true bone structure. His unnatural figure was obvious even with the war robe of red, lined with weapons decked over his thin shoulder. Yet, despite being small and seemingly insignificant, there was danger in his eerie eyes, scleras shaded black with pupils gleaming crimson under square-shaped spectacles. He moved like a trained dancer, making an otherworldly and ethereal impression. The light Chans had seen in the gloom glowed from two long antennas rising from of a mop of raven hair. The little globes bobbed as the creature glided forward.

“Hazanin-sama[4].” Chans bowed in formal greeting, forcing his lips around the alien’s native tongue. The Zaprex was the first he had to address, for no one ignored the powerful being who ruled time and space. Even his father had respected and admired the Zaprex to the point of calling him beloved-friend.

Konnichiwa, Chans. You have done well.” Its mechanical speech was forced through an aging metal voice-box.

Chans stepped aside, glancing at Citla, who pulled Daniel forward.

 

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At the sight of the creature, the young prince cried out in relief. He threw his only slightly larger body into the strong metal arms of the cybernetic alien.

“You have to stop David. Please stop him. He said he is going to die instead of me! You have to stop him!”

Hazanin sighed. He placed his chin gently upon the boy’s cranium as he wrapped long arms around him, drawing him close in mothering comfort.

“Hush now my little one, ne,” he whispered, pointed ears tweaking as he reached up worn fingers, covered with a layer of green skin, to brush tears from the prince’s cheeks. The Zaprex smiled feebly, its ancient age revealed in tender eyes that held unimaginable knowledge.

Daniel whimpered. No one was coming to his aid; his protectors watched with stark treachery. He tried to struggle but the firm grip of the cyborg held him fast.

Something inside him was being stripped away as though paper was being peeled from within his mind. Hazanin placed a long finger and thumb upon his forehead, his eyes glittering in sorrow making the sudden betrayal only slightly less agonizing.

“Do not worry, my sweet one,” the ancient Zaprex whispered, “tomorrow when you wake up, this will all be gone. You will not remember David’s existence or this night’s events. It is best this night be forgotten to you. David is dead to us now, and dead he shall remain. Gomen, Daniel… gomen, my little star-prince.”

Daniel’s eyes widened as a sharp pain caught his temples and he flinched. His mind clouded as the eerie sensation of falling into nothingness swelled over him. It was worse than sleep; it was a deep pit that enveloped him, shrouding his body in darkness, dampening the burning gift of the starblood that flowed in his veins. His limbs grew heavy, and he slumped forward into a faint, murmuring softly, painfully aware of the tears cascading down his cheeks, and that they no longer glittered as they once had.

“But…but…I do not…want to forget…my brother…”


 

[1] DC: Of the Dragon’s Conquest

[2] A Human expression (high class) of frustration – can be shortened to just tsk, which would be akin to ‘shhhh’ when chiding someone.

[3] The Great Throne Room ‘Blessed by the Sun’ wherein the Emerald Throne is situated.

[4]  –sama: very high honorific, usually reserved for lords, gods, masters, rulers, or someone for whom one has ultimate or infinite respect.

Hazanin Prologue 2

 

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

Orphans & Outcasts Release! Yay!

I am very excited to tell you all that my new book, Orphans & Outcasts, has been released in both eBook and Paperback. The paperback version comes with beautiful illustrations as well – so that’s totally a bonus reason to pick that one up. ^_^

To celebrate Orphans & Outcasts release you can pick up KEY: Book One of Chronicles of the Children for FREE on Amazon Kindle. I really hope you enjoy the beginning of the epic adventure!

Orphans_and_Outcasts_Cover_for_Kindle

Where to find Orphans & Outcasts

Amazon Kindle

Illustrated Paperback

 Bringing to life a new book is so much fun. It constantly baffles me that a story takes shape and form in my imagination and I can type it out, shape it, gradually craft it and then, have a book for people to enjoy. But that book first came out of…well…really nothing? Right? It came out of just – imagination – isn’t that incredible. I think it’s incredible.

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The full wrap around cover is gorgeous. Art work done by Ben Wootten – such a fantastic, amazing artist who picks up my ramblings and creates masterpieces out of them.
I do enjoy doing the graphics – it’s an enjoyable part of being an indie author I guess, being able to control the little things. ^_^

 

I also love the chance to illustrate and express my world through not just words. While I am sure everyone who reads my books will have very different ideas of what the characters and world would look like (and I hope they do) being able to illustrate is a joy, and making beautiful books to share is so exciting.

Nixyle

Princess Nixyle, one of the characters in the novel. She’s been around in my head for a long time, and it’s so nice to finally tell her story.

 

Denvy

Denvy Maz – very much the main character of Orphans & Outcasts, or at least, the character who inspired me to write the book. All my other books have characters who are quite ‘young’ as heroes (not counting, you know, ancient gods…) but Denvy is – ah – one of those ‘ancient gods‘ and his age and sudden removal of his immortality is really interesting to explore.

Titus

Titus Timothy Tevlon – one of my favourite secondary characters from both Chronicles of the Children and Northland Rebellion. Titus is a Messenger Hunter, a very rare type of Messenger who was consumed by a Twizel but managed to keep his sanity. It makes him extremely skilled at hunting Twizels, but ostracised by Messengers.

 

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They’re awful pictures – because my phone camera is just horrible – but in the paperback version of the book I finally had the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and that is add a little comic at the back. Something connected to the world of Livila, but is a random ‘Myth’ from their history. It turned out so well. I am SO, SO, SO happy with it!!

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I’m really looking forward to being able to do more things like this in the future. I mean, it takes me FOREVER, but they’re just fantastic when printed.

So, if you’re wanting to begin this journey – and it’s a real journey, I can tell you that – KEY: Book One – is free right now, I think for another day and you’re most welcome to jump right in and join the heroic adventure.

PaperBack_Key2

Pain

This was written about a month ago, on a very bad day when my pain was excruciatingly bad and I couldn’t take it – so I decided to try and write what it felt like. Since then, nothing much has changed, I’ve just been coping with the ‘new normal’ which is a steady increase of overall pain levels.
However, upon re-reading this with a little bit of more level head, I felt it was still worthy of a share. There might be others out there who deal with chronic pain, or a chronic illness, who have similar experiences. I simply do not know.
If you do – know you’re not alone, even if the battle is a lonely one. 

Pain is exhausting.
It eats at me, every single day. Piece by piece it consumes. It started as an ember, so small, years ago, and now it is a fire, fuelled by existence alone and sometimes it is all I seem to know.

It hurts to even breath. Each lung full is like stretching skin over barbed wire. When did my chest start betraying me, I am often left to ponder? There is not a day that passes when my head is not ripping itself apart with hatchets. What would it be like to live without a headache? Would I even know myself if I ever woke up without one?

Pain has blurred memories together, and years have become a long string of time wasted away in a body that is young, but feels so decrepit.

I should be relishing in youth.
So young, people tell me. Oh, Kylie, you are so young. You have so much time. Don’t worry – don’t worry – you are in the prime of your life. Their words are like mockery. I haven’t felt young in a long time. Not in a body that I am forced to drag through a day. The vigour of youth is long past, despite the youthful years of my unwrinkled cheeks. Yet, what life have I truly lived? Can I say I have lived at all? People my age seem so falsely carefree. They are like adverts in front of me, flashing on a movie screen, portraying a wondrous example of just what I do not have:
Freedom from an invisible tower, created by bricks of pain, built up day by day.
And there is no prince to save and comfort, just endless staring out a window, wishing for the seasons to change.

Pain has already worn me down, it’s a grindstone and I am the dull blade never to be sharpened.

The fingertips on a keyboard become sharp, stabs, as if I’ve pounded them down to the very bone—but if I had, would they hurt anymore? Everything is heavy, even smiling is an effort I just can’t be bothered with doing. Am I beautiful, without a smile? Have I ever been beautiful?

The first man to call me beautiful, other than my father, was an elderly gentleman in a café.
No man has ever told me again.
It is just a word, I always tell myself—
But it is word with such potent meaning.
Like pain.
A word becomes a dagger in the heart—if you let it.
Don’t let it.

My entire world has shrunken into a room. I am Rapunzel in her tower. Sleeping Beauty waiting to wake up from a dream. Snow White poisoned by an apple. Ariel wishing to explore a world above. Moana trying to escape to the ocean. I can almost reach—but I just can’t make it.

I try, I try, I keep trying. I fight, I fight and I keep fighting.

Some battles are lifetime worthy. Some princesses pick up the armour of a dead knight nearby, and battle their dragons alone.

 

Starting a new novel

Book 3.
Ohhhh. Book 3.

So I already have a fabulous outline for Book 3, but now, with an outline all done and dusted, comes the actual work of writing the prose. That important…part…of turning an outline into a novel. This phase comes with its own difficult challenges.

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The first of these challenges being a sort of ‘resetting’ that is required when switching out of outline mode into prose mode. After having spent such a long time writing just an outline, dot pointing every single thing that happens in a chapter.
Zinkx walked over to the tree and rested while he said blaa, blaa, blaa.
Shanty swung a club
Sam shook his head.
Skyeola waved his wand–sorry–conductor.
That sort of stupid, silly, dot-point like outline that I do because…I am ridiculous.

Now I have to move away from that into actual ‘story-telling mode’ and its hard. Oh. It’s hard. I sat at the cafe the other week just staring blankly at a white page of doom open in Office Word with the cursor blinking at me and while I had the Outline sitting there, right next to me, I was just drawing a total and utter BLANK.
What the heck was I supposed to write? I started to panic. Could I do this? Oh no…oh no…oh no!!

Wait. Wait. Hang on. Hang on. I had the same problem when I was switching from Book 2 Outline to writing Book 2. Ohhhh.

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Cafe time!

So, I thought to what I had done back then. I got out my pen and notebook and I kick started my imagination by writing the oldie-fashioned way. Totally confused everyone at the cafe, which was amusing. I guess it’s a bit odd to see the author who is such a quick touch typist suddenly switch to using a pen and notebook.

The words started the flow. Not great, mind you, but at least something was coming onto the page. It’ll likely need a serious rewrite by the time I get to the end of the novel, but I do have to start somewhere.

I think the major problem I am having is getting back into the ‘voices’ of the characters. Zinkx’s somewhat dry, sarcastic drone that I imagine him having when he’s the POV character. Shanty’s comforting warm demeanour hiding her slowly growing fierceness. Sam’s upbeat chirpiness, and his childishness gradually fading as the heavy burden of his task becomes ever more apparent. Skyeola’s melancholy and bitterness giving way to a subdued adulthood.
It’s like I halted all that for six months while writing the Outline and now I’m having to remember their voices, their actions, the little nuances that make up their characters.

Here is an example of just how different the outline plan can be from the writing prose I end up with, and just keep in mind, none of this might end up in the final cut. (The prologue that ended up in Protectors, some of you might recall, is very different from the Prologue I had originally written for Protectors, let alone the first chapter of the book!!) So I always go into writing a novel knowing how unlikely it will be that anything I write will end up in the final production.

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Zinkx slammed into the ground, rolling across sharp basalt rocks, his suit no longer able to absorb the sheer force of the assault as the explosion of the mine blasted away his battery back. Skin tore. His crystal visor cracked and toxic air flooded his lungs. He could not stop the roll, his hands threaded bloody as he clawed at the jagged rocks. One moment he was spinning, the next he was airborne, and over a cliff, sailing downward, into the red glow of an open wound into the earth. Lava swamped his vision.

Zinkx reacted. A surge of lighting ignited through his limbs, spinning free of his bloodied hands, coiling together to form ropes, and latched onto the cliff side. He jerked to a halt, landing knee deep in the molten rock. His suit flared with vectors between the seams, and alarms blinked across his visor. Zinkx heaved on the ropes, surging himself out of with a thrust of gravity control. He landed in another uncontrolled landing, crying out as his burning legs gave way.

The desire to curl over and give into the blackness that threatened to swamp him was intense, but the horrifying dreamathic colours coming across his damaged visor urged him to ignore the call to collapse. His squad needed him. He had dragged them into this, he was going to get them out of it. Tearing off his utility belt in a blind panic Zinkx ripped into the painkillers, thrusting the syringe through his suit and into his thigh. The relief would be at least enough to ignore his damaged body and the failing of his battle suit. His replacement visor was shattered. There was no choice then but to reseal his broken one and hope the patch worked long enough until help arrived. Picking himself up Zinkx tightened the strap on the treasure he had tied to his back.

The canopic jar.

The result of their infiltration into the Zaprex fairy-castle of the Dam, holding back the Sea of Inquisitives. Even now, through the thick yellow miasma choking the horizon, he could see the immense structure rising out of the charred black earth. Its silver, sleek architecture, like all Zaprex buildings appeared netted together in a series of enormous hexagons, that upon closer inspection, became smaller grids, upon even small interlocking webs. It astounded him that he and his squad were the first in generations to manage any infiltration into the ancient Dam. He was half in the mind that the High Elder had sent him on a fool’s errand in the hope he and his squad would perish—he would not have put it past the erratic man who loathed any competition to his position.

“You’d better be worth it…” he whispered to the precious artefact.

Zinkx threw himself forward with a bounce of gravity control. If his legs where useless he was going to have to overwork everything else—he could not allow the canopic jar to fall into the hands of the enemy, nor could he return to the House of Flames and High Elder empty handed.

::Captain!:: His lieutenant’s pictographs, sweeping and smooth despite how frantic they came across, filled out over his visor in thick black lines. ::Captain where are you?::

::Kaitla?:: The disorientation of dreamathic communication caused him to halt. He had never been particularly skilled in communicating through the crystal visors with the colours of emotions, making them form understandable patterns, and it was made all the worse with damaged equipment. ::Kaitla, I got thrown by the mine. Count me into your position.:: He sent back. Unlike Kaitla’s beautifully sculpted colours, his always went across in globs and splatters, ending up like embarrassing ink stains.

Numbers threaded quickly over his visor screen and he followed their position through the smoke. The mine had been unexpected, and he should have scanned for such a weapon, but the pinning fire of the Twizel legion following them under a blind fog of toxic cloak had been frantically distracting. He had paid the price for his panic.

A bullet ricocheted off a nearby rock and Zinkx ducked behind it, eyeing the nearby cliffs, visible only in sharp shadows cast from the eerie glow of the murky lava draining down in slow, majestic falls, overflowing into deep trenches.

::Kaitla, I’m coming in hot, get a shield up.::

::Aye, sir.::

He fisted his hands. Muscles flinched, prepared for the pain, and he it took deep breathes to unwind the knots. He burst into a run, forcing it through his legs. Bullet fire rained down, cracking the soil. He lunged as a shield of metal surged out of the ground, throwing up rocks and dust. Zinkx looked up from his crouch at the taller figure of his lieutenant in a gleaming silver battle suit. Either Kaitla’s battery pack had been damaged, or his supply was running low, for the liquid shine that usually glinted off the skin-tight armour was failing, and the daffodil signage that indicated their ranking as soldiers had lost its lustre glow.

::You look like trakri sir.:: A hand was offered to him, he seized it.

::Thanks.:: He stood with the aid, ignoring his trembling legs. ::We need to move.::

::Problem, that.:: Kaitla winced as his shield was assaulted and the noise was near deafening. ::And it’s not just our friends on the ridge,:: his colours turned a sarcastic green before quickly shifting to grief sickened grey, ::Sir, it’s Ariel, she…she triggered the mine.::

Zinkx’s already dry mouth felt now like he had swallowed a spoonful of ash. No. No. He refused to think—no. He pivoted on his heels. Lying under an ice blanket his squads medical nurse was lying stationary on the hot rocks. He grabbed for the cold blanket. It disintegrated in his hands, revealing her lower extremities and he choked on the whine escaping his throat.

Her suit had resealed the wound.

It was designed to do so.

It was designed to save their lives.

But it made no difference, to a Messenger, this was a death sentence.

Her legs were gone.

Her dreamathic colours over his visor were the horrible shades of pale pottery, broken and unfixable. He could barely understand them with the cracks in the crystal.

::Leave me, Captain…please.::

::Never.:: He shifted to her side and altered his gravity. He slid his arms under her. ::I would never.::

::I am useless now. They’ll just put me in the Breeding Program.:: Her colours turned blue and the strokes sharp—terror, filled with terror.

::I won’t let them do that to you. Now, get on my back.::

She struggled. Her heart was not in it. Zinkx grabbed her visor, placing his against it, ignoring the cracks.

::Ariel, we can do this. We can make it. I need you. I need my medic. I’m torn up inside. I’m going to need you.:: Her sobs echoed through the dreamathic bond. Her fingers around his shoulders tightened, the colours of the dreamathic tears like pattering toxic rain turning gradually a deep determined orange of resolve. It was back, the desire to live, to fight again. Zinkx bit down on his lips as he swung her onto his back. His legs could give way when he was free of this, for now, he had legs to carry her with and carry her he would.

::Lieutenant, let’s go.::

Kaitla spread his hands, metal splitting like a wave around them as his birth elemental-gift danced with the ease of an experienced welder. The metal shield rolled, becoming wheels, spinning off in two directions.

::I’ll cover you.:: The clipped reply came, ::Make it over the ridge sir.::

Zinkx set his gaze forward. The next ridge. Their last communication had pinged off a Thyrrhos warship in that direction. That was their safe zone—if the vessel was even still anchored there. He had to believe it was. He had to believe that Prometheus would have waited for him.

Slamming his boots into the unstable ground Zinkx ran, balancing himself only with thrusts of gravity control. Kaitla’s metal shields spun, twirling back and forth, spitting up sparks of lava as they sliced through the earth, blocking the onslaught of weapon fire from the distance. It was a small blessing that the Twizels were not engaging them in close combat. That meant the high possibility the Thyrrhos warship was docked over the ridge.

His feet left the ground suddenly.

Ariel’s grip on his shoulders tightened.

Laughter burst out of him, unexpectedly, as he sailed downward in a rush. In the distance the shambled together shape of the Thyrrhos warship docked by the Sea of Inquisitives sent a rush of relief through him, flooding his chest and the pain of his jarring landing was just bearable. Kaitla skidded down beside him, rolling before scrambling up and spinning back to look up the ridge they had leapt down.

::Traki!:: The lieutenant swore.

Zinkx needed no other warning. He ducked. Ariel cried out as the Twizel’s talons clipped the air nearby. Zinkx grabbed her around the waist and flung her away, watching, barely, as she was caught by one of the approaching Thyrrhos. The enormous Fire Elementals thundered past, shaking the earth, splitting the small fissures in the crust, splurging up lava. The lone Twizel stood no chance against the storm of fire that met it, it’s bulbous body of rippling shadows, mangled together with stolen muscles and bones from Messengers it had consumed, was ripped apart by weapons that towered over Zinkx.

Zinkx dropped to his knees as the energy drained out of him. Safe. He was safe.

“You’re late, fire-sprite.”

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For those who want to know what Thyrrhos look like. Kaitla and Ariel are much older in this image though.

If you’ve read Protectors, you might notice that the prologue of Book 3 covers one of the stories Zinkx tells Skyeola and Sami (I think. It might just be Skyeola…) about the time he fell into a pool of lava and learnt how to summon lightning without a battery pack — and how he got the scars on his legs.

However my concern is, at the moment, I’m not so great at writing young-Zinkx voice. Young-Zinkx is rebellious, loud and wouldn’t hesitate to punch someone he’s having a disagreement with. Older-Zinkx very much thinks things through a bit more, having learnt from his younger-self mistakes.

So this will get a rewrite when I’m much more settled into writing, as I still feel like I writing to much like I’m outlining. It’s going to take awhile to switch around.
I just find it a fascinating experience to see the difference between the outline and the prose.

It’s going to be a really long journey. I’m always in awe of authors who can punch these 200,000 word books out in a few months. Perhaps someday I’ll get that good.