Friday, August 28, 2015

The King's Challenge #31

TKC 31

The torrential rain drums out sound, but I am yet amazed by the silence behind me. I hear nothing, not even a child crying out in fear or wonder. Not daring to look around, in the event the action loses me the forward path, I begin to question whether anyone follows.

Damin, are they with me, I think. My answer comes when an image of a blue flower appears in my mind’s eye. Well. That is a different talent to seeing and hearing, but now is not the time to question Damin.

I go on.

The path is ankle deep water amid curving walls of swaying liquid. It is the strangest sight. It is also beyond frightening, for those shifting barriers are almost at head height. If I falter but once, we are doomed.

I cannot tell how many hours pass, but eventually I realise I am climbing. By slow degrees my shoulders emerge into the open night air, then my waist, thighs, and soon I am splashing in genuine ankle swirls. I am on high ground.

Something warns me to stand there without glancing back to see how the others fare. I must maintain the path until the last has crossed also. For what feels like eternity I simply stand, looking ahead.

People swirl around me as they pass, and no one says a word. I think Damin warned them to be silent until all are safe. Finally I feel him at my back and his hands settle onto my shoulders.

“Lyra, it is done,” he whispers.

I focus.

Before me is a host of survivors, every one with a hand over a heart. It is homage, and it stirs me as little else has. My tears emerge then, of gratefulness and utter exhaustion.

I turn into Damin’s arms. I weep as they enclose me.

Who are you when you write?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The King's Challenge #30

TKC 30

By nightfall it has started raining again. Great torrents pummel us and the land. Within an hour of its renewal, the water level has risen. Walking out, as Damin suggests, will not be easy. In fact, it is now more difficult to achieve.

Everyone congregates as the lowest point of the outcrop. Men, women and children all now depend on me. I see Mirlin and his two henchmen in the crowd, all three eyeing me doubtfully. Well, they are not alone in that. I have no idea what to do next.

Damin shifts through the crowd to stand beside me. “I see blue flowers amid the red suns,” he whispers. “Many here trust in you and are now calm.”

“Many still fear,” I mutter back.

He nods. “Concentrate on serenity, Lyra. Forget the doubters.”

“Which direction?” I ask.

“South, always south.”

South, yes, to escape not only these waters, but also the fireball in the heavens. Damin is right. One does not see the stars here. Few have realised what is on approach.

It occurs to me that I desire to live. I want also to lead the community of Grenmassin to safety. It means surviving this night. It means, I understand, walking out.

As I comprehend what is needed, the way is opened for me. I feel my feet grow warm, then hot. I have boots on, but I see slivers of light escaping the seams in the leather. My feet are glowing.

Winking then at Damin, I step into the swirling water. Behind me I hear a collective breath of expectation. The water parts. With rain sluicing over my face, I wade further in. The water parts.

“Come,” I say without turning around. I know without doubt my task now is to look only ahead.

The survivors of lower Normur follow me into the flood.

Review: Lucem by Poppet

This is Imagination

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The King's Challenge #29

TKC 29

“What is a Delver?” I ask first.

“Someone able to see into minds,” Damin replies. “That is the simple answer.” He keeps his voice low, for this admission will see him hung, but he does not look away.

“How are you a Delver?” I ask next.

“We are born with the gift, as you are.” He smiles then. “I heard you singing once, while I wandered the forest back home. When I tracked the sound to you, I found you sitting on the flat rock overlooking the river. Your mouth wasn’t moving, Lyra, and yet you were singing. I thought I was mad or something and only later understood what had happened.”

I swallow. “You never told me.”

Damin shrugs. “How do you tell someone this?”

“Do you see into all minds?”

“Most, but they are generally images to signify emotions. A red sun, for instance, means fear … saw many red suns this night.” He pauses to thread a hand through his fair hair. “When a Delver hears, though, the one he hears is fated to be his partner. This can be a man or woman. Lucky for me, you are a woman.” Damin offers a wicked smile.

“Is this why you left?” I whisper.

He nods after a moment. “I heard you all the time. I needed to find a way to control it. Listening is an invasion of privacy.”

“Can you control it?”

“Yes, but last night I discovered that frenetic action is able to sunder my holds.” Damin touches my face. “I do not listen, Lyra, to your innermost thoughts, not anymore, and I will find the means to control this breach also.”

I stare at him. I do not know this Damin. “Fate?” I say. “Where is love in fate?”

He takes my hands into his. “Lyra, love enables our gifts.”

TKC Collage 2

After another two weeks of posting episodes for the King's Challenge, here's a collage of the images used :)

Put aside the Ranger

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The King's Challenge #28

TKC 28

Women touch my cloak as I pass, eyes filled with hope. Men bow their heads, eyes containing both relief … and doubt. Children scamper asking question after question, not one of which I have an opportunity to answer before another is aired.

This is expectation, and it frightens me.

I will lead them to safety? How dare Damin tell them that?

I cannot even think about the how, when all I have in my mind is Damin’s kisses. Idiot man. If he needs me thinking straight, he should be more constrained. Never mind the fact that I now believe he is able to read my mind. By the stars, how did life become this complicated?

Damin shoos the kids away, sits me on a wet tree stump and hunkers before me. “You can do this, Lyra. I have researched the two eyes …”

I shake my head.

“Just listen,” he says. “There are four types. Rainmakers, Sages, Elementals and Healers. All have the essence of each talent, but one is ever dominant. The Healers have the blue and green eye combination, as you do. What you did with the water may appear as elemental magic, but you were saving people … as a healer would.”

“None of what you say tells me how to save them,” I whisper. “Do you expect me to forge a path through the floodwater?”

“Yes,” he answers simply.

I throw my hands in the air. “How?”

“You believe it. You trust yourself.”

I lift an eyebrow at him. Now that is not an answer, not for me. I need specifics.

“Specifics will cloud your mind,” he murmurs.

That does it. I fall to my knees before him. “Damin, you are hearing my thoughts. How?”

He grins. “Only a Delver partners a Healer. Did you not know?”

Arcana Omnibus!

All four Arcana tales will soon be available in one book, with extras!

The Infinity Mantle
The Kinfire Tree
The Drowned Throne
The Dragon Circle
Secret Remedies

Monday, August 24, 2015

The King's Challenge #27

TKC 27

In the ensuing silence Damin takes my face into his hands and kisses me. It is a long, searching kiss that has every nerve in my body jumping.

Never has he given me more than a peck. Back in Grenmassin such familiarity is frowned upon, and then he left before we could speak our marriage vows.

This is new for me. Damin is new to me. I am guessing I may also be new now.

The kiss ends as a roar of sound rises. We break the intense connection to look around us. They are cheering. The survivors of the lower city are on their feet and cheering us.

I glance at Damin. Did he kiss me to reveal to them he is with me? They know him, after all, and he has now bestowed upon me his blessing.

“Lyra,” he murmurs, “you think too much.”

Now I stare at him. Did he just read my mind? Perhaps he simply sought to draw my attention away from the strange act moments ago. I turned the waters of death. Am I a witch?

“You are a healer,” he says softly.

By the stars, the man is reading my mind!

Smiling, he takes my hand and hooks me in to draw me to his side. “This is Lyra!” he calls out. “And she is with us!”

Again there is cheering. I feel the need to hide. Maybe I do think too much, but I need to examine what just happened. I need to know myself again.

“Take the boats and look for survivors,” Damin continues. “Bring everyone here.” He pauses, glances at me, and says, “Tonight we leave Normur. Lyra will lead us to safety.”

As more sound erupts, he pulls me to a quiet space … and kisses me again.

Scurryfunge and Verbigeration

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The King's Challenge #26

TKC 26

The screaming begins.

Even the youngest child understands there is no running from this. We will all die in the next few minutes. The wall of water is massive and it is filled with strength and intent. It will sweep us to eternity.

The screaming stops. Everyone simply stares in mute fascination. No one runs. There is no running to do that will change this fate.

I feel then heat in my gut, as if someone has branded my internal organs with a hot poker. My hands start to shake uncontrollably. I stare down, wondering what is happening. The heat inside me causes more fear than the wall of water does. Only for an instant does the irony of that flit into my mind.

My hands are glowing. I see the bones, veins and muscles inside, as if there is a light source within. I have no control over this. My skin is afire. My gut feels as if it will explode outward, to throw my entrails at the wall of water.


I lift my head. By the stars, here it comes.

Some force lifts my glowing hands into the air. That same force issues an eruption of sound from my mouth. I scream at the tidal wave and I gesture at it. The wave and I become one and I command it to go elsewhere.

For a moment all time seems to freeze … and then the wall of water parts. One half veers towards the plateau; the other half swerves south. Swiftly the churning heights lose integrity, and small waves lap away into the distance.

A beam of light pierces the silence then. The sun is rising.

I stare at my hands, and then I look around me to find men, women and children staring at me. As one, they kneel.

Extraordinary things