Forsaken Feathers – Part 4

Mama did not seemed to have noticed how late I was when I arrived home, probably because as I glanced at the clock on the stove I realised that something was off. I took a closer look, tapping it to make it keep time again. At Mama’s odd glance I wandered over and turned her wrist to face me. Her watch registered the same time as the stove clock. I had arrived home at the exact time I always did from work. I pulled out the feather from my pocket and stared at it while Mama continued to sneak glances at me.

‘Where did you find that?’ she asked. I couldn’t think of an answer so I just shrugged and headed for my room. For weeks after, I stopped at the griffin rock, peering as far as I could without actually going in to the forest to see if there was any sign of Amduscias. Other than the feather that I kept hidden at home, I found none. Until a few more weeks passed.

I began to spend every moment I could on research. Although I found Amduscias listed, other than that he was an angel, looked like a unicorn at times and caused music to play there was not much more to go on. For the first time since our meeting I began to be afraid. I had seen Mama’s pregnancies progress. There was no denying that I was probably pregnant, which kind of pissed me off a bit. How many girls get pregnant their first time? And besides he is an angel. Surely though his bits looked like human bits if somewhat larger, he is another species.

Then I remembered mules, and ligers. Somewhere in all this craziness I came across a word I would begin to dread. I began to also research nephilim. Not that that did a lot of good. Except make me fear I was going to have to birth a giant.

It wasn’t long before Mama had no choice but to confront me about my somewhat obvious weight gain. Not that an unwed mother was anything new to our community, but I knew how disappointed Mama was that it had happened to me. Especially as there appeared no way for her to rectify the situation after I lied and told her that I had a one night stand with a biker who I could not really remember and had not seen since. I remained as vague as I could on dates. I had no way of knowing how this was going to progress. It wasn’t that long ago I was with Mama on the whole angels thing. I thought of talking to the local priest, for about a minute and a half. I figured he would either have me locked up as insane ,or locked away in some nunnery waiting to get their hands on whatever I spawned. Neither choice seemed like a good idea. This left me floundering.

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So I floundered and I grew larger. Larger than I thought possible, which meant I began having scary visions of giant babies taking up most of my thoughts. It seemed as if life became a heat haze that warped everything I knew, or thought I knew. I found myself being drawn with more intensity back to the forest as the pregnancy progressed. At first I fought the urges, much like I fought the urges for pickled ice cream.

Although I was not yet approaching my due date, as far as I could reckon in human terms, I knew that my time was near. And as it drew closer I drew closer to the forest. Wandering in its cool shade I found myself drawn to the place where I had seen Amduscias. Curling up on the ground where he had once curled I again felt a connection. As the days passed I spent more and more time in the forest. Often sleeping, sometimes dreaming of wings and baby soft skin.

And so it was that I was back to the beginning when the first pain hit me. It did not give any warning like I had seen with Mama. This went from zero to full on in the time it took for a leaf to fall to the ground. There was no rest in between. Just constant pain. Until he came once more to me. He padded up the path and curled up on the ground, watching me as he once again switched in to his more human like form. Though the pain did not recede, his presence helped me to focus on something other than it.

I felt his arms lift me upright and cradle me against him and once again his wings lifted us in to the sky. The pain was an abyss I drifted in and out of, seemingly to the rhythm of his wings as they beat the air around us. I heard his voice. Amduscias whispered to me of what was to happen. He told me the reasons for the pain that I was to suffer both now and the rest of my days. Tears ran once again, this time landing on my face. How cool they were. His sorrow seemed almost as heavy as my pain. I fought to hold on, to stay, but once again I awoke on the forest floor. Alone. Completely alone. No Amduscias. No child. No pregnancy. Only a memory. Enough of a memory to condemn me forever. Just as he’d said. And a new feather, smaller than the other, but no less forsaken. It would have to do.

The End

Relevant posts:

  1.  Forsaken Feathers – Part 1
  2.  Forsaken Feathers – Part 2
  3.  Forsaken Feathers – Part 3

And just in case you are interested…here is a competition I entered where you can win a GoPro Bundle. Quite cool I thought.

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Day thirteen and I am going a little nuts. Well a little more than usual !!!!

You might be wondering how NaNoWriMo is going ??

I would have shown you a photo of me writing…but I look a little scary these days. Too much caffeine, late nights, hating my writing and a lot of head banging will do that !!!

It has its moments. I am really struggling with not being able to edit as I go. It is a very bad habit I hope NaNoWriMo will cure me of…but I am really finding it hard.

I feel like everything coming out is crap…which I know most first drafts are. And all I want to do is work on it until it is better. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr…habits are very hard things to break.

So here is some more of Chapter I. The next excerpt will have someone going over a cliff…who will it be and will they survive is the BIG question.

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Chapter I Scenes VI & VII

Zak approaches, he is alone. “Other than the customary inhabitants, we are on our own here.”

“Evijan?”

“Our cautious friend is laying out a warning system.” he stares up at the mountain. “I want to go with you.”

“Brother…”

“Deveron. I know what you seek.”

“You do?”

“You are not the only one Father has told the stories to.” I do not tell him that they are not just stories for me.

“Then you also know what waits on the mountain. Not everyone who seeks the Phoenix comes down again.” And now I do not tell him that anyone with me when I find the Phoenix King is in even more danger.

“If I am old enough to be here, then I think I am old enough for that as well.” His eyes bore into mine, and I realise that he is now as tall as I.

“I promised Father that you would return. I intend to keep my word Zak.” I understand his eagerness for this, his first real adventure. “If I allow you this, your death will likely follow.” I hope, foolishly perhaps, to make him understand. “No-one is allowed into their realm, I must go alone.” There were only deadly mistakes from this point, how could I make him see that.

“I will not be a disappointment to you.”

“I am not worried about disappointment.” Evijan arrives at the lake as the other men set about making camp for the night. He carries with him two large water birds slung over his shoulders, and tosses them to Zak. “I speak to you no longer as your brother Zarek, but as your commander.”

“Deveron…”

“Enough. You stay behind. Speak no more of this.”

###

“We are quite alone here,” Evijan announces, as he sets about making a fire. “Time to make yourself useful,” he nods to Zak to sit by him, hoping to distract him I know. “Jareth is tracking a herd of hippus.” These small grey animals are equally at home on land or in the water. Their tough round bodies make them seem slow, but when threatened their speed makes them difficult to catch. Jareth is one of a few hunters who can boast of bringing one down. Their flesh is a delicacy, and my mouth waters in anticipation of the forthcoming meal.

Zak glares at me as he throws himself  on to a log beside Evijan. Eventually, everyone returns to the camp, Jareth, Adsel, Ryder, Cato, Gye, and Nils return, their kills hanging from poles they carry between them and we sit together in a sociable peace. Each face is a portrait of a part of myself, and I wonder how many of these bold companions will return home. Throughout the meal my brother remains silent, never looking in my direction. Evijan watches him as closely as I. When Zak is finished he nudges him slightly and smiles in Jareth’s direction.

“Did you purposely seek out the smallest of the herd? Or did they by chance hear you coming – oh grand hunter of the Opinouwi? Evijan is smiling at me as he taunts Jareth. “Lucky for those of us with hearty appetites, others were able to provide.” I watch as Jareth’s eyes narrow. “Perhaps I should…” Jareth pounces and Evijan is sent sprawling in the dirt.

“Perhaps you should keep your thoughts inside that minute brain of yours…friend.” Jareth sits atop of Evijan, their arms flailing as each tries to gain the advantage. I see Zak smile for the first time since our discussion, and silently thank both men. It troubles me that I must now force our minds back to our task.

“Quiet,” I hold up my hands to silence the men. Immediately all are still, and I began to outline my preparations. “Should I not return within eight days Evijan, you are to lead them on. Wraith will give you aid in finding another way.”

“There is no other way Deveron,” Evijan shakes his head.

“Then you shall have to make one. You cannot go into the Devil’s Den if I do not return…and you must not come seeking me. I want your word. Eight days and you all leave. “Understood?” He does not look pleased.

“If two of us were to go…” Zak begins.

“No. I go alone. Give me your word Evijan.” Zak’s eyes flash in the firelight as he lowers them.

“Arrogant fool,” he protests before walking away.

“Evijan?”

“You have my word, but I trust it will not be needed,” he reaches out grasping my arm. “He will be alright.” His hold stops me from following my brother.

“He is too impetuous,” I silently wish I had been able to sway my father from allowing him to come on this journey. “I should have made him stay behind. He is too young, too eager for adventure. He will take too many risks.”

“He reminds me of someone I used to know,” he says, lifting his brows. “I shall just have to keep my eyes on him. And use my persuasive manner. Do not worry. Zak is like a brother to me.” I stare at the hand still firmly grasping my arm.

“Leave him,” Evijan can read my thoughts almost as well as Wraith. “Allow him to master his feelings.” Zak stays just outside the firelight, and my sleep is uneasy.

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Related posts:

The Draco Stone continues…

Chapter I Scene IV

He turns immediately to the left and begins picking his way through the dim brush. We proceed single file. For many hours we trek with only the unicorns’ sight to guide us through the darkness. As we go deeper, even though the sun would be rising, it does not reach onto the forest floor. The gloom transmits itself, and I feel the weight of the task creep under my skin.

What is it you doubt Deveron?

We are but nine Wraith.

And the Sadistiens are but six.

I fear for them. I should have come alone.

Are you so absolute in your view of yourself?

No, but I am not sure that we shall be successful.

And?

My choice of them may be their death.

Arrogance. It does not suit you my friend.

Not arrogance Wraith, foreboding, and regret.

You must know that there is not one man here that you could have stopped from coming.

I did not try.

No, but it makes no difference, they each have the right, as do you, to be part of this.

If we fail, they will be needed more than ever.

Your lack of faith does them discredit Deveron. We are only just begun, and you sound worse than the bleakest doomsayer. Have faith, my friend.

Was it not you Wraith, who just warned me that some might not survive the Devil’s Den?

It is true. You should know by now Deveron, Unicorns always prepare for the worst. It is our way. It does not mean anything other than that. We are not blessed with vision. Were that so, we would not have been almost annihilated ourselves.

I’m sorry for it Wraith.

I begin to fear for you more than the others Deveron. You must not enter the Devil’s Den with so much weighing on your soul.

I shall feel better once I have spoken with the Phoenix King.

I hope so.

###

Chapter I Scene V

Wraith looks doubtful, but keeps any further thoughts to himself as he leads the way through the forest. Talking is impossible, the deeper we go the louder the noises from the inhabitants become. From deep within the underbrush to the highest canopy they call to each other of our passing. It is almost time for the sun to leave the sky when we reach Lissiom Lake. I will have to circumvent it to reach the bottom of Fire-Bird Mountain. I call a halt.

“Evijan, have a look around and make sure that we are alone here. Adsel, take Ryder…” before I finish the twins spring from their mounts and make off around the lake’s edge. Both adept hunters, we would soon have fresh food to fill our bellies.

We will leave as the sun rises? Wraith’s tone is troubled.

Before.

Deveron…

I know Wraith.

The King will not be happy to see you.

 No, but he will not kill me.

Are you so sure?

No. But I hope.

How long?

With good fortune, four days, no longer should things go well.

And if they don’t?

I shall leave Evijan with instructions to leave after eight days. You will need to help them find another way. If I do not return, they cannot travel through the Devil’s Den.

Then we must hope that you do my friend.

I look out over the lake to Fire-Bird Mountain. In the dusk, fog circles the base rising to a third of the way up. The face of it appears sheer, but I know that inside there is a single path that leads up to a secret gateway to the clandestine realm of the Phoenix people.

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Related posts:

Day 6 of NaNoWriMo

Well you may be asking how it is all going.

I had to take the weekend off to wizz up to Auckland…which provided lots of photo taking opportunities. It also provided a chance to get dressed up. Gilly tells me I should make the following photo my gravatar – instead of [as she very politely puts it] hiding behind the camera.

When I mentioned I didn’t like my ‘scrunched up eyes’ she let go of polite with a resounding ‘STOP IT !!!!’. We all have it though…that one feature we don’t really like about ourselves. Well, mine is my eyes. It’s hard to smile and stretch your eyes open at the same time. Believe me I know. Ah well…could be worse. I might have to tuck my boobs in to my belt…oh wait…I do !!!

Shit !!!

I even wore make-up and heels. I ate, I drank, I danced, and I met lots of fabulously fun people.

I arrived home shattered. So yesterday I got back in to it. I have some very pissed off horses at the moment. They recently told Wraith just how pissed they were about being taken in to Gryphe territory as Gryphes love horses…to eat. Wraith wasn’t to happy about it either, being a cousin of the horse.

And so…Scenes II  & III of Chapter I are here for your thoughts. And please…no matter how you think I sound when I reply to comments…I DO WANT your thoughts. If you don’t like something/don’t get it/think it’s shit…say so. I am more than happy to take on board what you say.

A wonderful tutor once told me: “If your readers aren’t getting it, it has nothing to do with them. It is all about you not writing it so that they can ‘GET IT’, so rewrite it until they do the first time they read it…or you’ve lost them forever.” Very wise man my tutor !!!

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Read on…

“Stop,” I murmur, as we reach the first rise outside the City. Wraith halts and I turn back.

“Brother?” Zak pulls up beside me.

“Is it not a wonder?” I ask. As the gates draw close the city shimmers, moonbeams bouncing off the rooftops back into the air above.

“He does this each time we leave.” Evijan is laughing. “Your brother would have us believe that he possesses no tender traits, and yet I see a softness in his eyes every time we farewell the Elusive City.” As we watch, the city fades until there is no trace of it under the night sky.

“Evijan.” My thoughts are of the missing Stone. “Only one of the Opinouwi can open the City. Whoever took the Stone had help to enter. From one of us.”

“Runolf will discover those responsible,” Evijan replies. “And punish them, while we shall recover it and return it to the Citadel.”

“If they knew who was to track them…they would not have been so foolish,” Zak sounds younger than he looks. His pale blonde hair hangs loose about his shoulders, and his eyes, so like our mother’s, have not been marked with misfortune or sin.

# # #

Silent, I urge Wraith on. It feels good to be out of the city. With the moon out, I no longer need to rely on Wraith to pick a path, and I push him hard. His body relaxes as he hits his stride.

Hold on Deveron, he tells me. We ride hard for many miles and reach the forest before light. I call a halt when we pass the first trees.

Evijan slides to the ground immediately and begins to search. He is an accomplished seeker; I know without him we would waste valuable time. He waves to Zak to join him, and quietly begins to speak as he points to traces only he can see.

“Here,” he says to Zak kneeling beside him.

“I see nothing, old man,” Zak teases.

“Look,” Evijan runs his hand over the ground. “The dust flows back toward the clearing, something has passed over in haste.” He turns to lay his ear upon the earth, and holds up a finger to silence Zak. “There are five of them. No six, two are riding the same beast.” He looks up at me. “They ride toward the Devil’s Den.”

“Then we must prepare.”

I do not like this Deveron. The Devil’s Den can drive men to madness. Some of your men…I do not know if they can make it through.

 I know Wraith.

“Are the stories true?” Zak looks from Evijan to me.

“No brother, they do not begin to tell of the malevolence that lives there.”

“I thought they were just tales, told to scare children,” he swings back on to his mount. “What must we do then, to prepare? Deveron?”

“We shall need to hunt while we are in the forest.” I look about. “If we do not touch the food stores, perhaps we shall have enough to get us through.”

We must find the Phoenix King Deveron.

I look up at Wraith’s words. It will mean a detour that will delay us, but I know he is right. Hidden deep in the forest there rises a solitary peak.

“But first, we must make our way to Fire-Bird Mountain. Come.”

Find us a way there Wraith. The quickest way please.

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Word Count: 8596…which means I need to catch up.

Related posts:

The short story that morphed in to a novel.

Tomorrow NaNoWriMo begins. As does my task of taking Deveron on his journey to retrieve the Draco Stone and return it to the Opinouwi. For now I would like to share with you the short story that started it all.

Actually it is not soooooooo short…2,967 words to be exact.

I hope you will get settled with a coffee, or a cup of tea, curl your feet under you, let the cat out, turn off the phone and read.

I really would love to hear your thoughts on this. Of all that I have done so far…this story is a defining moment for me. For it set me on a previously unimagined path. The one of trying to become a published author. If you hate it…don’t worry. It was written long ago…and I know it needs improving in many areas. I thought though that I should put it up as it was. Also, I am Australian born. We have thick skins. I have also lived in New Zealand for nearly 20 years. Kiwis don’t say much…they are very…hmmmm…stoic. It’s rubbing off on me. So feel free to let me have it either way. Just don’t stay silent. I NEED your thoughts to improve as a writer.

The Draco Stone…by Jo Bryant

Behind their green-eyed leader the troop rode in formation, rows two wide, as they entered the Elusive City. Streamers of flowers waved them along the path, floating down to lay entangled in their hair, as they made their way to the Citadel. Underneath the hooves of the unicorns the road crunched as they landed on the bones of their ancient enemy, the Sadistiens. Though worn and compacted, the outlines of their bleached skulls from a century of warfare were still visible.

Leading the march was Deveron. His hair brushed his shoulders as he rode, the streamers so thick they hung about him like a rainbow cape. Sitting tall and straight, his eyes focussed ahead, ignoring the wall of sound that surrounded them. As he passed, he noticed how the children were all pointing in his direction. This did not surprise him, he knew for many it was their first sighting of a unicorn. Wraith was enjoying the attention. The sound of Wraith’s voice inside his head startled Deveron out of his own thoughts.

‘They scream your name Deveron.’

‘Only because they do not realise…’

‘It does you no good to blame yourself.’

‘I know that your intention is good Wraith.’

‘You would rather I kept my thoughts to myself.’

‘I do not need you in my head. I must…’

‘Prepare.’

At that, the unicorn closed the connection between their minds.

Wraith’s stark white coat was broken up with great slashes of black and silver, running from his backbone vertically down to his feet. His markings were unique. He had been a gift from his father. Deveron wondered if there was a meaning behind the gift, Wraith was often the most complex of the creatures, but he trusted him as he did his own limbs.

As they approached the Citadel, he urged him into a gallop and left the deafening mass behind. Waiting on the stairs outside stood a group of Officials. Deveron grabbed a bag from his saddle, before kneeling on the stairs bowing his head. A young groom stepped forward to take Wraith’s halter.

Wraith’s ebony eyes looked over the groom with amusement.

Do not bedevil the lad Wraith,’ Deveron warned, glaring at him. The groom’s hand trembled as he took Wraith’s halter from Deveron.

“Be careful lad,” he advised. “He is likely to draw on trickery to get his way. Make sure he is settled and bedded before leaving. I should hate to have to scold you on my first day home.” The groom’s eyes widened and he quivered, Deveron smiled at him. “It’s all right lad. I’m much too weary to be stern today.” He stood up and turned his attention back to the Officials before him.

“Deveron,” the tallest one spoke holding out his hand. “It is wonderful to see you, but you look weighted, my son.”

“Thank you, Father. It is a great honour that you would welcome me publicly. I had not expected it,” he looked away from his father’s face as it searched his. Pain flitted briefly across Runolf’s eyes.

“Come,” Runolf’s voice wavered as he turned and led the way into the Citadel. “We have much to discuss.” Inside the entrance, under massive carved crevasses running vertically from floor to ceiling, stood large stone vases. Deveron and his father stared into the dim recesses, before looking to each other.

“We’ll leave you Runolf,” said one of the Officials. Bowing slightly to both men, they mounted a large stairwell. Deveron and his father waited until they were no longer visible before turning into an open doorway.

“Wait,” his father urged, closing the door. “For old men, some still have unaccountably good hearing.”

The room they entered had a window from floor to ceiling, as wide as four men – their arms stretched wide between them. The walls were white and grey marble, long slender rectangles bordered by light green. In between each panel, slits – the width of a man’s hand – ran vertically. Steam rose continuously in the panels, warming the room and refreshing the air.

“Come, sit with me,” his father sat on a divan near the large window. He waved for Deveron to sit opposite. Reaching out he took a decanter from the table between them. “A toast,” he said pouring the dark red liquid into two glasses. “To your return…and to those who did not.”  Deveron placed the saddle bag on the ground. Taking a glass he downed the liquid, sat, laid his head back, and closed his eyes. His father watched, and remained silent.

“You would like me to speak of it?” Deveron asked.

“I, yes,” Runolf paused. “I need you to speak of it.”

Keeping his eyes closed Deveron ran a hand through his thick russet hair. His chest rose as he sighed deeply.

“Then there is much to tell.” Opening his eyes he sat up. For many breaths he was silent, looking past his father, through the glass to the city spread out before him. The only sound came from the steam bubbling up through the crevasses. His father waited, and watched his son’s green eyes flicker with emotions. Deveron held out his glass and Runolf filled it. Emptying it in one movement, he set it aside and looked directly at his father.

“We journeyed for weeks after we left, with no sign of them. It seemed as if they were just an imagined thing, a delusion in the Elder’s minds. We crossed the Symian Desert and saw no tracks before us, not one grain of sand turned over and pressed down under their feet, though there was a flavour to the air that spoke of their passing.” He paused to pour more liquid into his glass then raised it to his lips. Runolf remained motionless, waiting for Deveron to resume his tale.

“We were at the Abyss Lakes before we found evidence of their passage, a patch of compacted grass, a footprint by the shore, a branch fractured or bent, slivers of hair caught between thorns. Small things; so small I wondered if I was looking too hard. We pushed forward, stopping only when night forced us to.” He paused, his eyes closing again, as if he could no longer bear to look at Runolf.

“It was on the fourth night at the lakes that we knew. The men were tired, so we stopped early. We let the unicorns loose, and as we ate the night settled around us. It was during the second watch.” He paused, and dropped his head into his hands.

“Zak was drawn away from the camp. I can only guess that some disturbance made him curious, but that it seemed minor. He roused no-one. I found him as dawn broke. He lay on his back as if asleep.” Deveron lifted his head and stared at his father.

“His sword was sheathed, and I made to rouse him. My intention was to…when I saw a thin line of red on his neck. There was so little blood, I still believed, but he was no longer a part of this world.” Both men had tears forming as he continued.

“I could not bring myself to leave him. I held his head on my lap and told him to be valiant. I spoke to him; telling him that I would make sure his crossing would be easy. I prayed for his spirit, and spoke the words of the departed for him. I was almost finished when Jareth found us. The men were fortunate that Zak’s murderers had left the area – perhaps they thought him a lone seeker – for I had spoken not one word of warning.” Deveron bowed his head.

“Forgive me Father. I have dishonoured us, and cost the life of a beloved son. My arrogance, my belief that we were indomitable, is the reason Zak is gone.”

“You are not to blame,” Runolf held up a hand to stop his son from speaking. “I should not have allowed Zak to go. My pride…is at fault. I sought glory for both my sons, selfishly. I demanded our legacy to be one of courage and honour.” He stopped, swallowing hard. “Living should have been enough.” Nodding at his son, he signalled that Deveron should continue.

“Zak’s interment delayed us. I am sorry we could not bring him home, but I did all that I could to make his journey a swift one. I swear to you Father, that I performed the proper rites. After we lay Zak to rest we began to search in earnest. Evijan found traces of their camp some two hundred luerons from the lakes.”

“Many cycles passed but finally we knew that we were closing the distance. They no longer took as much care trying to obliterate traces of their whereabouts.”

Outside, the light began to fade. As darkness crept into the room Runolf held up his palm and stood. Deveron observed that his father seemed to have shrunk in the time he had been seated.

“I shall arrange for something to eat. I feel the need for a respite.” He walked over to a large desk and pressed a button. “We shall continue with your chronicle, after,” he said, looking away from his son. “Age,” he pursed his lips outward. “It demands you take more mind of what you do.”

Within minutes a young woman glided into the room, pushing a trolley laden with food and a full decanter. She bowed deeply before leaving. Deveron made no move towards it.

“Come, eat something. I had them prepare some things you like.”

“I have little appetite these days Father,” he replied. Runolf approached his son and sat on the small table.

“Son, I share your grief, but Zak was eager to go with you. We have…lost a part of us forever.” Leaning forward he placed his palms on each side of Deveron’s face. “And yet we go on. Do not waste what you still have by letting this overwhelm you. He would not want that for you.” Taking his son’s hand he pulled him upright.

They ate in silence. When finished, the first of the three moons had risen and the city was dotted with tiny orbs of light from the dwellings of the populace. A small circle of light cocooned around them in the otherwise dark room. Deveron leant forward and began the rest of his tale.

“Evijan was convinced that they had entered the Devil’s Den. We approached the opening from the right side of Malodorous Bay,” his frame shuddered slightly.

“I’ve never seen such a place of despair. Evil emanates from every surface. Even the unicorns were affected; in the end we dismounted to guide them. Not until we were through did we find any more signs. For twenty eight cycles we kept moving. None of us wanted to rest until we were out.

The Cross Mountains are the first thing you see when you leave that foul place. They are a balm to your soul after the Devil’s Den. Evijan found traces of them and although none of us had slept, we spurred the unicorns on. As we closed the distance we could feel them, the stench from their tainted bodies left a trail as clear as a signpost. Every trace of fatigue was gone.

Far off, a spiral of smoke drew our attention. We dismounted some five luerons from it and let the unicorns loose. I sent five men to circle around the right of them, and five to the left. Jareth and Evijan came with me, as we followed their tracks.

Each group got as close as we dared, and then we waited until the second moon was high. Their sentries were disposed of quietly, one by one. I counted fifteen asleep; they were spread out around the fire. We worked as silently as possible, slowly dispatching them by slicing their throats, as they had done to Zak.” Both Deveron and his father drew a deep breath at the mention of Zak. Runolf nodded for his son to continue.

“Their leader was easy to discern, and my group approached him while the others continued sending the rest of them to hell. Jareth tapped him with his sword. It was laughable, the surprise on his fetid features when he realised what we were about. Beside the fire lay a satchel. It seemed impossible to me, that they would be so cavalier with the stone. Yet the way the leader looked, I knew that it lay inside.

As I bent to retrieve it he went mad, foul sounds poured out of his mouth, and he rushed to stop me. Jareth and Evijan held him at the point of their swords, and he began screaming. Once I had the satchel, I opened it. The stone fell out into my hand. The beast knew that it was over. I nodded to Jareth, and he drove his sword through its neck.”

“May I see it now?” Runolf asked. Deveron lifted the bag and handed it over. Gently Runolf laid the bag on his lap and reached inside. As he withdrew his hand he smiled the first real smile in hours.

“It is more beautiful than I remember.” In his hands the stone threw off a modest luminous glow. Etched into it was the figure of a dragon with a woman’s upper body. The deep lines seemed to move so that the creature swayed and her long tresses wafted around her.

“I’ve never seen the stone out of its place. Intriguing isn’t it? I did not know there was a carving of Draco on it.”

“I too was surprised by it at first,” Deveron replied. “But it seems logical, that she would not leave us… completely. That the stone would bear something, to mark it forever, as her gift to us.”

“We must return her to the chapel. It is a great thing you have done my son. You and your men have bought home the heart that beats inside our people’s essence.” Runolf stood, reverently clasping the stone. “I should like for you to be there for this,” he said. He made to leave, stopped, and turned to walk back towards Deveron. “Hold out your hands,” he commanded. As the younger man did, he placed the stone in them.

“You have risked much and have paid a high price to bring this back. To you must go the honour of putting it in its place.”

“Father?” Deveron’s brow furrowed. “Will the Elders permit this?”

“They will do as I say,” Runolf replied. Walking before his son, they made their way into the great hall. They passed through a large door and began to ascend a marble spiral staircase. On each step, a warrior stood clad in blood red armour. As the men passed they beat a single fist to their chest. Reaching the top they were greeted by a party of ten Elders, their faces masked by purple hoods.

“Runolf.” the tallest of the Elders spoke. “Welcome.” When he saw Deveron behind him, he pulled off his hood and walked closer. “Why are you not alone? Deveron is not allowed here. You know that well.” The other Elders formed a guard stopping both men from advancing.

“Adsel,” Runolf raised his body to its full height, dwarfing the other man. ‘If not for my son, we would still be without the stone. Our civilisation would suffer, wither and die wretchedly, without its heart. I should not have to ask that he be granted the status he deserves.”

“Runolf,” the Elder shook his head with displeasure, raising his hands to quiet the others who were speaking among themselves.

“I have given a son for this Adsel. This gives me the right,” Runolf interrupted. Leaning closer he bent his head. Adsel appeared to be swallowed up by his body. The little man shrunk backwards. “If needed…I will bring this matter before the Senate.” Adsel looked up, and his brow creased.

“I do not think that will be necessary,” he replied, and turned to the other Elders. Each man nodded slightly before standing back. Adsel moved to the side. “Perhaps you have a point,” he ceded. Runolf and Deveron bowed their heads at the Elders before moving on.

They made their way through two large archways and continued along the hall. They came to another stairwell, which ended in a darkened room. They crossed the room to an altar that reached three times their height. Level with their heads was a deep hole. Runolf stepped aside and waved his son on.

Deveron raised his arms and placed the stone in the hole, then stepped back. A light began to pulse out from it and the air around vibrated. They could hear a humming sound. A brilliant flash burst out from the stone, and beams of light raced through the air touching markings on each wall. The markings glowed, then bounced into the air and floated free. New markings appeared to replace them; they too quickly rebounded about the room. This process became a continuous occurrence.

“It is good to have our history returned to us,” Runolf spoke softly. “Without it, so much would be lost.” He pointed to a series of markings glowing more vibrantly than the rest.

“Already the chronicle of your deed has been added.” A face with eyes exactly like Deveron’s could be seen in the air near the symbols depicting the Stone’s return. “He shall never be forgotten,” Runolf drew his son toward him. “Into one, shall all men journey,” he said.

“And all journeys shall become one,” Deveron replied. They looked at each other for a time, and before leaving the chapel they stared around, their faces glowing under the light show. Runolf placed his arm around his son’s shoulder and squeezed.

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Chapter 6

It took a while, but the dreaded chapter 6 is actually written. I am stunned that it ever got finished.

Why?

Because it had its own agenda. It kept going off in directions that were NOT planned.

Chapter 7 has now been bumped up the list to chapter 8, because chapter 6 has demanded another chapter to follow on to round things up.

One new character emerged in chapter 6 that I never saw coming. But HE makes sense and gives the main character a new dimension. I will need to be careful though – I don’t want to spin off in too many different directions and confuse the reader.

But I like where chapter 6 has taken me. I have sent it off via e-mail to all my darling critiques. I will now sit here waiting – hoping they get it (the storyline I mean – not the e-mail), and they like it.

The trouble is I have so many ideas rattling around that I have to be careful they don’t confuse things. I have already decided that there needs to be another book. A prequel to this one, but I have also fallen in love with the main character’s mother – even though she doesn’t have much to do in this book – and I want to tell her story.

In getting to know the main character I have gotten to know and respect his mother.

I remember reading an interview with Stephenie Meyer about the book Eclipse. In it she had a character that she ended up writing a novella about – Bree. She said how she wished that she had not killed her off in Eclipse because she would have liked to have a different ending for the novella.

I feel that way about D’s mother. So at present that brings the tally of books to be written to 3.

Hmm…time to stop writing about writing the damn book, and actually get back to writing it.

Say Goodbye Jo.

Ellen, Dean, Sam & Jo

Last Friday night, as with most Friday nights lately, I shut out the rest of the world and with the dog curled up under my knees watched my favourite TV show. These days I don’t watch TV as much as when the children were still at home. This is a good thing – I do not miss Home and Away or Shortland Street.

I have always been a fan of the supernatural or fantasy. Possibly because of my twisted imagination. Which is why I started watching it. I’ll give almost anything a shot once. Five years later and I twitch and have legs spasms from withdrawal when it is not on.

I keep hinting to the kids about the DVD’s – I think they are purposely ignoring me.

Watching it this week I tried to figure out what it is that has me so addicted to it. I mean seriously – if I go out on a Friday night when it is on – I try to get home in time.

Humour has a great deal  to do with my continued attraction – I wish I had some of what the writers for this show are drinking when they think some of it up.

Last night wasn’t a funny episode – although there were some moments where I found myself chuckling. A good thing as when the credits were rolling I was searching for the tissues.

This episode also had the prerequisite action, lots of fighting, hell hounds and demons everywhere, even a posse of grim reapers hanging about. Although you can’t actually see the hell hounds, they’ve done a good job in making them scary critters.

They killed off two of my favourite recurring characters. For 5 seasons I had kept alive the hope that we’d see some romantic involvement with Jo and one of the brothers – but in never letting that happen, the possibility of it kept me hooked. Clever writing.

What was interesting was my reaction to the scene of her and her mother dying. I related to it not only story-wise, but emotionally.

It was so simple – I could relate – I would do the same thing. I would sit beside my daughter and blow myself up if it were me. It is one of the saddest episodes ever, but on the plus side we FINALLY get to see Jo get THE KISS before she dies.

Perhaps that is why I love it so much. As weird as some of the storylines get, as out there as the whole premise of it is – in EVERY episode there is a moment where I can relate on some level to what is happening on the screen.

I think that is the gift the writers of this show have. They weave a thread between the plot and you the viewer.

That’s my excuse anyway…only 4 more nights to go for episode 11.

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