Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The King's Challenge #343

TKC 343

Shrinking, the orb loses all colour. Iniri sits up, ruefully rubbing her elbows. She checks on her father first. “Are you hurt?”

“Knees,” Linus Makar mutters. “And pride.” They smile at each other as the king helps his daughter stand.

Enris, staring at the shrinking orb, asks, “What is our situation?”

“We are permanently grounded,” our pilot responds. “Luckily we put our nose into the trees. Scans say we are under cover, although someone may soon see the gouge in the earth we left in our wake.”

“What of fire?”

“No threat, Lord Makar. The hit took out propulsion, but didn’t touch anything flammable.”

“Thank the stars,” Siri murmurs.

I open my mouth, but Enris forestalls me. “Wait, Coltern.”

“For what?” I frown. “We must determine …”

“Wait!” Enris snaps out.

Thus we wait, all of us. Enris continues to watch the orb. Iniri watches her brother, while Linus shares his attention between his son and his daughter. Mirlin, I notice, watches the orb too.

The sphere suddenly explodes.

‘Explodes’ is the only word I am able to form to describe its behaviour. It shrinks and then enlarges to epic proportions in an instant. It explodes, but it does not break up; instead the sphere grows in size to encompass all of us, the ship … and beyond. It has no colour, but it isn’t transparent either, for light skips off it to form prism rainbows.

“What is happening?” Kay demands. “We are inside a bubble, by the sands!”

“It merely expands,” Enris says quietly. “Yes, it will protect us, but that is not its priority now.” Drawing a breath, he adds, “It has now become intangible, which is why we do not feel a, well, a bubble effect.” He grins briefly at Kay.

“What is it doing?” I ask, aware how thunderous the frown on my face must appear to the others.

Enris stares steadily at me. “It will now gather souls and when it is done this war is over.”

The King's Challenge #342

TKC 342

Who and what Mirlin is and was cannot be my main focus, however. Therefore, abandoning my perusal of the Keeper, I return my attention to the three Makar and the orb.

The shuttle judders in that instant.

I am thrown forward against the straps holding me, but Iniri sprawls headlong to the deck of the craft, crying out. Enris hurtles backward, flailing into Kay, who grabs and holds him to contain further injury. King Linus stumbles to his knees, his face drawn into a rictus of agony.

“We’re hit!” the pilot hollers.

The shuttle ploughs into the earth in the moments following and we are thrown about. I hear Iniri scream and Linus groan, but there is little I can do to help them. Siri whimpers, the sound slicing into my mind.

“Watch the bloody orb!” Mirlin yells.

I do not see what the orb is doing to cause his warning, for we continue to jerk out of control. Our pilot swears loud and long; admiration for his imaginative use of profanity briefly causes me to grin despite my gyrations.

Then all is quiet. The shuttle has stopped its slide to nowhere. Gradually everything inside settles as well. Releasing my harness, I am out of my seat. Iniri needs me first.

The orb, however, curtails every intention.

It has grown in size, alarmingly so, and the lower curve presses Iniri to the metal floor, while the outer arches keep Kay, Siri and Enris unmoving to the right, and Linus and Mirlin to the left.

At first I think it is hurting them and then I realise it protects them. It protected them from the crazy motions of a ship out of control.

By the stars.

I meet Mirlin’s gaze and the man bloody winks at me.

“Iniri, are you all right?” I blurt out.

“Fine,” she breathes from the floor. An instant later she laughs. “How strange this is.”


Planet and Rocket :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Nocte by Courtney Cole

The King's Challenge #340 and #341

TKC 340 and 341

We enter Hell.

Our pilot flies low, following the riverbed; to lift up for easier flight could mean our deaths. At this point the fiercest battles take place overhead, leaving the ground generally clear. Clear of soldiers, at least, for broken shuttles and flyers litter the earth. The pilot – I must remember to ask his name – is good; he successfully dodges every obstacle. The strain of doing so has created whiteness around his lips and dark lines under his eyes.

I do not speak to him; it will distract him.

We enter a world of fire and flame, smoke and dust.

The ruin of the Spire is just ahead and explosions rock our vessel repeatedly. Here there are soldiers on the ground, Ilfin and Glonu, and they are dying in their hundreds. This is madness; we should not be here, not with our king on board.


Linus Makar’s one word command causes me to whip my head around. Straining against the belts keeping me in my seat, his determination draws my attention first. Terrible determination … and growing sadness. By the stars. Where Linus has concentrated his gaze calls to my focus next.

Enris and Iniri have clasped arms, an intense forearm to forearm grip. Both brace to endure the erratic movements of the craft and they stare at each other, wordless. The hairs on every inch of my body rise into blades of torture when an emerald spark flares between the private space created by their bodies.

Mirlin snorts loudly. “About time,” he mutters.

Siri gasps and peripherally I see how she reaches for Kay’s hand, but that is now beside everything in this war zone.

The spark erupts into brilliance and grows in size.

Enris and Iniri rest their foreheads together and simultaneously close their eyes. Rocking as one, they do not otherwise move or speak. The eerie green coalesces, the brightness withdraws … and a wave of energy pulses outward in every direction.

It flattens us, from the pilot to the king, in our seats. It feels as if I am being crushed; my lungs are on fire with the effort to breathe. The pilot’s hands shudder as he seeks to hold on despite the coercion. In my book, he is a hero, for the shuttle flies on relatively smoothly.

The energy field suddenly retracts, releasing us. Explosively, air is inhaled and exhaled.

A giant orb now bobs between Enris and Iniri, glowing only faintly. It seems more ethereal than tangible and yet it has weight for I hear our pilot swear under his breath about losing buoyancy.

Linus Makar releases his harnesses and moves to place both his hands upon the orb. Gennerin hisses somewhere. I do not hear words, but His Majesty’s lips move in the actions of speech. Enris and Iniri swiftly release their dual hold on each other to place their hands upon the orb as well.

The three Makar then say one word together. “Ilfinay.”

Ice floods into my veins. What have they done? A tableau comes into being then, for no one moves even so much as to blink. The enlarged orb is utterly still, as if waiting. Fire races through me as I dimly comprehend that it has become a weapon; the Makar have together created a mighty device, although I cannot begin to know what it is capable of achieving.

Mirlin’s expression draws my attention. The man is avid. He clearly knows exactly what has happened; he has seen this before. Recognition is abruptly mine. I now know who Mirlin is and I also understand that he has known his true self since before we met in the marshes below Normur.

Mirlin is able to see in the dark. He is able to see through doors. He possesses that particular talent for sight, because he is fated to remember always. Mirlin’s true gift is that of memory. He is a Keeper. Ever was he with Enris Makar on Makaran, at his shoulder, the trusted advisor. His Ilfin name too is Mirlin. Mirlin Moranth, Soul Keeper.

The Soul Keeper has seen the orb deployed in the past.

Crookodile and Investigator

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The King's Challenge #339

TKC 339

Many ages ago a powerful man drew his first breath. This man was born in a star and thus was he created of fire. He was creation. Thus says the legend. Thus goes the story of the genesis of Ilfinay Makar, the conqueror of Makaran, the founder of the Ilfin civilisation. Ilfinay was Majesty; he was Supreme; he is Eternal.

According to legend, Ilfinay Makar shaped souls. He created souls. To this day he twirls his finger in the star-spangled dust of the ether and a soul is made new. Thus every soul born to Makaran is ever an original, for Ilfinay continues to work his incredible magic.

The man in that legend is Enris’ grandfather.

He died in the ages of mists, when time was not yet measured, and his legacy passed to his two sons, Linus and Lorn. The legend, however, claims that Ilfinay did not in fact die; he transcended.

I twist my head to stare directly at Enris Makar, heir to that legacy, as the legend dances into my thoughts. Enris is master over a mighty talent, his Warrior, but I have already stumbled into the notion that he is more powerful than is at first obvious to a reasoning Ilfin.

“Say no more,” Enris murmurs into my ear.

By the stars, what can I possible say? I will be seen as insane if I share even the tiniest sliver of an image garnered from the mind of Enris Makar. How do I tell anyone of the kaleidoscope time that resides inside his being? I dare not say I see hands conducting the music of stars or that a man walks on a cosmic spiral, vanishing and reappearing with every alternate step.

Swallowing, I stare ahead once more through smoke and fire. Enris seeks the talent his legendary grandfather is known for. Enris desires to control the births and deaths of souls.


Seasonal Cycles

Friday, June 24, 2016

The King's Challenge #338

TKC 338

We discussed the need to return to Arc on the ship, but I believed it was to confront the Glonu in what they regard as their stronghold on Massin. While I do not think King Linus’ presence is required, I did assume he may provide the inspiration Ilfin soldiers need for a final push to victory. In defence of their king, they will be as hounds from hell.

Enris, however, clearly sees strategy in a whole other light.

“Are we doing this to find a talent?” I hiss at the man in an undertone.

An arm snakes over my shoulder and Enris presents his hand to me. “Delve, General Coltern. Then you will understand.”

I stare at the hand before me. A hand that has many scars from the nicks and cuts acquired in the numerous battles we have seen until this point. A hand of a mature man, with callouses, the kind that grow upon skin after much sword fighting. A few weeks ago this hand belonged to a boy called Horin … and abruptly I realise Enris possesses far more power than a common Ilfin aspires to. The inner soul matured his host body in days in order to be ready for war. That is beyond even the Warrior talent.

To delve deep requires touch; this is why he presents his hand. I thought he would ever shy away from this and thus is the knowledge he seeks to share with me of paramount importance … and no one other than him and me may know of it.

By the stars, I do not like this.

I clasp his hand and my head snaps back to thud against the padded seat. The rush of insight is paralysing thereafter, as is the addiction to alien images. Delvers avoid this; seeing the new and the strange can become an addiction.

Breath leaves me explosively as I shove his hand from me. By all bloody stars! That is what he seeks?

Update for The King's Challenge (Final?)

As we approach the end of this 366 day challenge, here are a few thoughts :)

With only 29 episodes left, I begin to wonder if all the loose ends will be neatly tied up before THE END appears. We return at this point to Arc for the deciding battle between Ilfin and Glonu, and a battle is easy enough ... but will Enris be declared heir? Can Iniri reach out to her ancient lover in time? Is there opportunity for Enris to deal with Lorn Makar? What is it about Mirlin that is yet to be uncovered? Will Kay and Siri form a lasting bond? Should the final action take place on the plateau, the place where it all began?

So many questions! Maybe the final version of this book will have a few added chapters to answer them! That, then, may become the final update; I may have to inform you there is a bit more on offer after this challenge ends. There will be a Prologue and Epilogue also, so look out for those!

I invite you now, if you have followed from beginning to (almost) end, to share any questions you would like answered before I do type THE END. You may remind me of something I have overlooked and I will mention your contribution in the collated and published version :)

A final word before I vanish to write today's episode; know that every read and share is hugely appreciated and I hope from the bottom of my heart you will grab a copy of the finished book and then tell EVERYONE!


Quiet now :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The King's Challenge #337

TKC 337

The sky over Arc is explosive, literally. Not only do vessels attack and explode, but the pressure over the area is in itself an incendiary device. The latter is at the behest of the Ilfin captains; every captain in the army is capable of creating flammable air, while each lieutenant attached to his command is able to shield their craft against the potent annihilation it engenders. It does not always work, but Ilfin may negotiate the poison easier than Glonu are able to. The Glonu have no defence other than their own shields, which are technological and therefore less effective.

As we approach the ruined Spire, my satisfaction knows no bounds. Glonu flyer after Glonu flyer simply erupts into flame, even when far from battle. The way is swiftly cleared for us, but it is also a truth that we have no talented captain or lieutenant aboard; we are vulnerable to the explosive air.

The pilot glances at me, no doubt wondering whether to enter the danger zone. I do not look at him or offer words. We have no choice but to go on. After a moment, the man shrugs and concentrates on his flying.

Enris leans over my shoulder. “The orb will protect us, pilot.”

Clearly he read the man’s doubt and now I do glance at our pilot, to see his shoulders relax somewhat. “What do we hope to find at the Spire?” I ask.

Enris leans into the back of my seat to keep his footing. Staring into the smoke and flame-filled sky, he responds with “We need to find the receptacle Glonu use to capture Ilfin talents. It probably survived the collapse of the tower.”

“Iniri destroyed it.”

“She left part of the orb to do so, but cannot confirm if it was actually demolished or merely damaged.”

I glance up at the man, noting how dirty his hair is, the shadow of a beard, streaks of mud and blood on his face. No one has had opportunity recently to bathe. “Enris, how does the receptacle change anything for us?”

For long moments he is silent, before he says in an undertone, “In the battle three thousand years ago a certain talent was captured when we lost to the Glonu. I want that talent restored.”

The Pencil Conundrum