Thursday, June 30, 2016

The King's Challenge has a NAME!

**drum roll**

Here it is!

The King's Challenge officially has a name. Our daily episodes will be published under the banner:


The King's Challenge #344 #345 and #346

TKC 344, 345 and 346

The strangest silence awaits us when we leave the broken shuttle after a mighty shoulder-bruising battle to lower the twisted ramp. Utter silence. Arc has fallen into a void.

“It is successful,” King Linus states as he strides down to the leafy ground.

“The orb?” I glance at Enris, who nods without speaking as he walks behind his father. Commander Gennerin is already further afield with Ross and Kay, the three scouting the area. I frown in the young soldier’s direction, amazed by how often I overlook him and forget about him as if he does not exist.

Something Kay said as he followed Gennerin out nudges me into understanding. He said that the technology aboard the shuttle is untouched, although the craft itself will not again fly. We can use it, however, to summon aid when we are ready for evacuation. Kay Laremer and his talent for technology; that is how he knew to speak those insights. Ross and his talent? Nodding to myself, I move to Iniri’s side. Ross is able to vanish from thought and sight without actually going anywhere. That is his talent. In the fullness of time it will create something formidable in him.

“I am fine,” Iniri murmurs as I approach. “A few new bruises, but nothing to worry about.”

“Why are you sad?” Considering that Mirlin has just skipped down the ramp and that the pilot accompanies Siri in the Keeper’s wake, I feel I can now ask the question. We are alone, if only for a few moments.

The woman who holds my heart stares up at me. “Too much death.”

“Agreed, but there is more,” I prompt her.

Her eyelids lower over her mesmerising eyes and then she looks towards where her brother and her father are in conversation. “The orb as it is now will harvest all souls. More will now die.”

I frown. These are half answers she is giving me. “Please be straight with me.”

Her chin lifts and she meets my gaze directly. “Coltern, here at the centre of the orb’s deployment we will be safe, but no one else will survive it. Not Glonu and not Ilfin. True born Massinians may escape, but I do not know that with certainty. I have a feeling Massin will be emptied.”

I say not a word, for shock has removed from me the power of speech.

Iniri continues, her tone expressionless. “To achieve this cleansing, sacrifice is expected. Me, my love. I will not survive it either.” As my terror registers as ice throughout my body and soul, she glances at her father. “He knew the day the orb became this weapon again is also the day he must sacrifice his blood, and thus he bound me to Enris.”

“Because Enris must live. He is the heir.” I cannot believe how calm I sound when I desire to bloody murder my king for doing this to the woman I love, to his daughter.

She sighs. “Had Enris sent the orb out alone he would not now be standing there with our father. He would already be dead. Therefore I became the embodiment of the orb; I am its Warrior and I will pay the Warrior price.”

I want to shake her. I desire to scream at the spaces. I definitely wish to kill someone. And then it comes to me, the reason Enris seeks to find the Glonu vessel, the why of his desire to control the birth and death of souls. Lifting my horrified gaze from Iniri’s bright eyes, I look to the heir to the Makaran throne.

He has anticipated me. Enris stares at me expectantly, already aware of my grasp of this terrible situation. “We have an hour, Coltern. Are you with me?”

“Enris, what the hell are you up to?” Iniri blurts out, having read both my expression and her brother’s expectancy.

“I am with you,” I state with determination. “Now?”

Enris gives a wry smile. “No time like the present.” He gestures. “Mirlin will stay with her.”

Because a Soul Keeper is able to keep her alive beyond a deadline. Because Mirlin will protect her from death for a time.

“Understood.” I gently pull Iniri into my arms and hold her. “I will be back and you will live.” She does not understand my claim, for she shudders against me. Cupping her face, I kiss her softly, with all my love. “We will be married as Coltern and Iniri as well, I swear. I love you.”

She swallows. “And I love you, but I need to know what you intend to do.”

“There is no time,” I murmur and kiss her again. Then – and it is the most difficult action ever – I release my love and turn my back on her. “Let’s go, Enris.”

“Right behind you. Everyone else stays. Gennerin, no one leaves here, understood?”

Gennerin looks to his king. “Majesty?”

Linus Makar inclines his head. “We shall do as my son says, Commander.” Briefly he clasps arms with Enris. “Good hunting.”

Enris bows his head and then he is on my heels as we stride into the trees. “Your father knows?” I ask.

“He suspects. My father has the ability to see connections.”

“Are you doing this for Iniri?”

Enris comes alongside and his lips tighten before he answers. “I am not that selfish, Coltern. This isn’t only about the life of my sister. Many Ilfin will vanish into the ether this day.”

“And if you recall the Glonu there is a chance Leffandir will look more kindly upon you,” I murmur.

Snorting a laugh, Enris mutters, “Maybe. Would you prefer I lose myself to Warrior rage instead? As she currently wishes for me?”

“No,” I respond, and lengthen my stride.

We vanish into the utterly silent forest.

Go forth, teller of tales

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

115 000+!

Thank you to everyone for visiting! 


A Nowhere Unicorn

A fantastical unicorn suited to The Nowhere Sphere :)

Torrullin cursed as he stumbled over roots and branches, but dared not create light to ease his path. It took hours in the cold and dark to situate every trap in a wide perimeter and to draw the shield to encompass all, but eventually it was done, and he could head back.
The lure of hot coffee was an all-consuming need.
As he approached the gate something new in the environment drew his attention.
Until then the forest was filled with the usual night sounds - owls, scuttling creatures, a flap of wings, squeaks - and now everything was silent. That kind of quiet generally occurred when something new was in the region and the creatures waited to see whether it meant danger or something to be safely ignored. This silence went beyond what was there while he tramped around.
He could not see, but he could feel.
First came the silence, and he stood still.
Then came hot breath on his cheek.
He did not react, but his heart jerked wildly. He made no move.
His heart thumped hard. Gods. “Who are you?”
What am I?
Fine. A game. What are you?
A slight glow appeared over his left shoulder. He turned with exaggerated care. The glow strengthened and took form. This time his heart threatened to burst from its confines.
You are surprised.
Torrullin placed a hand over his heart. More than words can describe.
It was a creature of myth and legend. The purity of goodness. The beauty of tireless strength.
A unicorn.
White, ethereal and incredibly beautiful. It made no sound as it moved to stand in his field of view, its hooves silvery and seeming to float above the forest floor. A horn of incredible simplicity glowed faintly blue from the centre of its forehead and long lashes swept over pale sad eyes as it studied Torrullin.
Many years ago the little flower needed aid.
Rose. You created her citadel.
I could not feed her. I wish I could have fed her.
She survived. Today she is strong.
I am glad.
Is this your domain? Torrullin asked.

We do not claim domain, Lorinin. We are and we are not.

The King's Challenge #336

TKC 336

Swiftly we have an escort flying on either side of our shuttle; standard practice when the king is aboard. Unfortunately it paints a massive target on our tiny hull and we are soon dodging missiles, while our escort fights back. One shuttle explodes and Enris swears foully. We are not about to return fire, though; our task is to reach ground no matter what happens in orbit.

The dry plains soon rush towards us. Silver glints reveal the snaking rivers, while the growth near the water is highlighted as green lines. To the north Massin’s great ranges beckon, while the plateau’s height is an earthy smudge to the east. Our pilot goes in fast and low to skim the sands, thereby forcing the enemy to take a wider path. In doing so, they are open to attack and our escort immediately takes advantage. Fireballs accompany our swift passage over desert scrub.

Shuddering assails our shuttle. “We are too low,” the pilot mutters.

“We will survive shudders,” I say. “Stay the course.”

No further words are spoken as the pilot concentrates on trajectory. We skim hardy bushes and giant boulders in a wide swirl as the shuttle heads west towards the mountains surrounding Arc. Skirmishes between Ilfin shuttles and Glonu flyers create a veil of dust and fire between us and those mighty peaks.

The battle for Massin is in full flight.

Horses rear in our path as we approach a mighty herd. Great teeth snap the air as fear overcomes them, and then they are galloping south as one as if demons pursue them. We are the demons indeed; us, and the Glonu. That fleeing herd must be the horses the Messengers released to the plains. I pray they survive.

Three shuttles remain with us and they begin the upward clamber to clear the sky for us. We follow and soon the first peaks pass below to reveal the paradise that is Arc’s great protected bowl.

Arc is no longer paradise.

Arc burns.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The King's Challenge #334 and #335

Part 11
General Coltern

TKC 334 and 335

King Linus boards the shuttle first.

The man is as imposing as I remember; his height is above average and his shoulders are still broad, although illness has somewhat emaciated him – poison, more correctly. I suspect he lacks muscular strength at this point also, for he walks carefully as if needing to be aware of his every step.

His shoulder length hair is as dark as Iniri and Enris’, with the grey of wisdom and years at his temples. Wearing it tied at the nape of his neck, his face is more exposed than I remember in times past. On Makaran a ruler need not concern himself with hair in his face; for Massin, even a ruler requires every iota of eyesight. Care lines have etched into his forehead, as well as grooves from nose to mouth, but otherwise Linus Makar’s age is difficult to determine. I am aware he is ages old, but a Massinian will put his years at around forty while frowning and wondering if he or she is correct. Linus’s blue eyes certainly tell a different tale; in those orbs is his true age read.

I snort to myself as Iniri follows her father in. She glances around until she sees me; why is there so much sadness in her gaze? My concern is for the uncertainty of our relationship; hers appears to be for something more.

“Damin,” she murmurs as she approaches.

“Coltern,” I state, keeping emotion in severe check.

Her eyes squeeze closed and she gives one small nod. Opening her eyes, she says, “How I wish it was still Lyra and Damin for us.”

As I do. But that time is now gone. “Wishful is not reality.”

She blinks, taken aback by my tone. As much as it hurts me to do so, I need her to understand the soldier is now present. I am General Coltern and my loyalty is for her father before all others. I swore that oath a long, long time ago. Yet, I admit, the person that was Damin seems to intrude into my thoughts more often than can be comfortable for this present.

“Later, Iniri,” I add quietly.

Her wry smile tells me she understands my dilemma. “Later,” she echoes, and returns to her father’s side.

Enris meets my gaze from the other side of the shuttle, his filled with sympathy. I look away. Enris is heir and I cannot afford to see him now as a friend first.

“Pilot, prepare to leave,” I say, waiting until all are strapped in, including Commander Gennerin. When Kay takes a seat after having checked that Siri is safely strapped, and Mirlin gives me a nod, I add, “You are cleared, pilot.” As the shuttle moves, I fling into the navigator’s seat and clip in.

Swiftly the industrial hangar vanishes from view and star-filled blackness fills the window. To the right, other shuttles manoeuvre and above us there are the larger transports.

Massin’s moon is visible in the distance, an orb I am suddenly able to land on if that is my wish. Damin never even dreamed of doing so. I snort to myself again, wondering if Damin would have been enough for me in the fullness of Massinian time.

The shuttle banks and Massin itself fills the view.

I am entranced. It is a beautiful world. Oceans and mountains, rivers, lakes and forests, rock and desert, snow and plain. Massin is still unspoilt, still natural. Technology consists of stone edifices and the bow, sword and carriage. Ancient ways Makaran moved away from many ages ago. Saying not a word, I confirm the choice I made in the small room where we found our king.

Damin will never leave Massin and Coltern will never return to Makaran.

Review: Sinnergog by Poppet

This is brilliant, heart-wrenching, soul-destroying, emotional and in-your-face reading. As ever, Poppet has delivered, and this instalment in the Darkroom series is excellent and absolutely adds to the entire series, while being utterly fantastic on its own also.

I really don’t want to go into detail, for that will spoil it. Read it yourself! Actually, read all the Darkroom novels if you haven’t already! Delve into the darkness and discover the horror that roils in souls, how beliefs can alter destiny and how the terror of childhood can shape evil.

This is dark, but it is so well written and so truthful, you cannot stop reading. Brilliant!


This review appears on Goodreads and will be added to Amazon once the pre-order run is over :)

The 15 Punctuation Marks

Sunday, June 19, 2016

TKC Collage (Linus)

Now that we have met Linus Makar and know who he is and what he intends, it is time to change direction for the endgame. Therefore, a collage of the images for Linus' episodes :)

The King's Challenge #332 and #333

TKC 332 and 333

Entering the massive hangar, I am amazed by the level of activity. Shuttles leave at a pace, while crews scuttle from one point to another about various tasks. The defence of Massin is clearly in full flight, thanks to Gennerin. Soldiers’ board and weapons are loaded, as well as supplies. The din is incredible.

Perhaps I will go unnoticed in this frenzy. I hope so.

That is not to be, however, for Iniri has other ideas. She has already told me how the Ilfin accepted her and how she believes her presence aided in keeping the soldiers loyal to the ruling house; Moravin had no one to call on when he needed rescue most, after all. Now she draws me firmly forward, saying, “They need to see you. This is the endgame, father, and they must know what it is they fight for.”

Unfortunately I cannot argue with that kind of reasoning. “Then present me.”

After sending me a swift and understanding smile, Iniri calls out, “ILFIN!”

I am utterly amazed by how quickly silence arrives.

“His Majesty, King Linus!” she hollers.

Eyes shift from her to me and I swear the entire ship reverberates due to the resultant thud of multiple knees. Utter silence is given, and complete immovability.

Swallowing, I clamber onto a nearby crate. “Ilfin, look at me.” Heads snap up everywhere. “How blessed I am to be with you at this pivotal point in our history.” Eyes swivel to each other before fixating on me again. “Today we fight not only for Massin and her Ilfin, but we fight for every Ilfin world out there. We seek to defend our lives, our culture, our past and our future. We desire to succour the innocent and show no mercy for the guilty, and I am with you to fight at your side.” Inhaling deeply in the expectant quiet, I raise my right hand. “The entire Makaran family is here to fight with you!” I point at Iniri. “My beautiful and courageous daughter Iniri!”

A wave of sound erupts. The voices of many become a singular tone of acclaim.

Iniri waves at the kneeling soldiers.

Swinging my arm into the further distance where shuttles await take-off, I say, “My Warrior son Enris!”

Silence is given then, for every head shifts towards the direction indicated. Clearly Enris had kept his presence aboard a secret, and these soldiers now need to confirm my claim. I see Enris’ wry grin even at this distance as he exits a shuttle to stand at the head of the ramp.

Holding his hand aloft, he releases the green glow of the orb. Of course he needs not say a word; that action proves who he is beyond all doubt. The resultant acclaim is deafening.

“Rise!” I shout.

Soldiers scramble up, clapping, whistling and roaring.

“Do we fight together?” Iniri shouts.

Feet thunder upon the metal floor.

“Do we win?” Enris hollers from his position.

By the stars, this ship will break apart if the juddering becomes more. Grinning in the outpouring of emotion, I add my voice.

“Are we ONE?”


Tears roll over many faces, including my own. Gennerin clears his throat quite thoroughly behind me.

“Thank you,” I say in a quiet tone, and again silence is given. “Commander Gennerin is First, my Ilfin. His command is my command.” Indicating to Gennerin to take my place on the crate, I step down.

Iniri takes my arm again and we move towards the far shuttle where Enris waits. Behind us Gennerin starts talking, but I do not hear the words. My heart – and my soul – is bursting with pride and love, and the rushing of emotion through my veins deafens me to words. I see them, though, my soldiers. I see the love, the mighty smiles, and the relief also, for now they fight for something; they are no longer simply soldiers following orders.

Yes, as I pass, I see also how the lust for battle kindles.


Your brain paints the pictures

Friday, June 17, 2016

The King's Challenge #330 and #331

TKC 330 and 331

About to expound on the mysteries surrounding souls, I am forced to swallow my words when Commander Gennerin requests permission to enter.

Swiftly he states that our armies are taking action here and elsewhere. Coltern and Enris have prepared a shuttle for transfer to the planet below and await us.

“Thank you,” I murmur, and usher my daughter and Siri ahead of me. “Wait outside; I need to dress.” As I am still in my night wear, this is an imperative. Smiling at Iniri’s sceptical look, I say to Gennerin, “Stay, Commander.”

The door closes on the two women and I hasten to the small cabinet in a corner for clothes and toiletries.

“The Empress put up a fight all the way to her cell, I am told,” Gennerin murmurs as he takes my tunic from me, knowing I will need his help to don the stiff, formal garment.

As I slide into it, I ask, “What is your opinion? Do we need her with us?”

Gennerin settles the tunic onto my shoulders. “Her presence in space will keep the Glonu wary and it is better for our fleet in orbit if she remains here.”

As I thought. “Please help me with my belt.” I wave at the decorative sash on the bed. Breeches and boots are quickly done with and then I raise my arms so that Gennerin can wrap the symbol of royalty about my waist and across my chest. The green and gold metallic material complements the charcoal ensemble I now wear. I feel somewhat trapped by the unyielding ‘uniform’, but my sense of self returns to me almost immediately. Now I appear as the King; I feel more like one as well.

“Majesty, I am not happy that you intend to join us on the ground.”

He is now my First; it is Gennerin’s place to state his reservations and thus am I in no way insulted. “Enris needs me,” I state.

“Enris will deny that.” Gennerin’s lips quirk briefly.

I smile. “I know.”


This man has led men and women for a long time; he will ask a question and expect an answer, even from his king. I like him more and more. I trust him completely. “Enris is on the cusp of misusing his Warrior. The binding of brother and sister has controlled him until now and has circumvented the drawbacks of that unholy talent, and I intend to keep it in place.”

Gennerin inclines his head. He is well aware that the Warrior’s life is usually short and now he understands why Enris survived. He also sees that I wish for my son a full life. I wish this because I love my son and also because he is the heir.

Gazing directly at my First, I add, “Enris must survive this. I shall step down when we return to Makaran.”

Gennerin blinks, but does not refute me. Instead he asks, “What happens to Iniri?”

I close my eyes. “My hope is that she survives also.” The man will understand that it means Iniri’s fate is less certain and thankfully he says no more on the subject.

We are ready. Wordless, we join the women on the other side of the door. Iniri hooks her arms through mine, saying, “Your Majesty.” She winks at me and I grin in response. She knows me well; she knows I prefer soft robes and comfortable slippers.

We proceed into the upper levels of the ship, with Gennerin taking a path that leads us where there are few soldiers and even fewer officers. The time it will take to salute to all in the more populated corridors will delay us too long.

5 Weak Words to Avoid

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The King's Challenge #329

TKC 329

The young woman suffers spasms as I probe her, but she does not deny my entry. I am aware that Iniri has joined us, although I cannot look at her.

Long minutes pass and I laud Siri’s tenacity. Most men will have withdrawn after the first ten seconds, while women tend to stay with me for at least twenty – women endure pain longer – but she accepts all. Her blood is warm to my etheric touch, her heartbeat strong. She is in full health, although a little dehydrated, and I sense she is hungry. Probing deeper, I ‘read’ her genetics, as well as the signature unique to her. We all possess such a signature; it is tied to our auras but is also far more.

“Enough, father,” I hear Iniri murmur.

Yes, it is enough. The young woman is about to convulse. I release her and she falls back; Iniri kneels to hold her from behind, crooning unintelligible words.

More long minutes pass, this time to find equanimity. I wait. She will only hear me when she is able to focus outward once more.

A shudder passes through her and finally she looks up at me again, the question clear in her gaze.

“You are Massinian with Ilfin genetics,” I respond to her silent plea. “Your bloodline is from Makaran, but your soul is from the spaces here.” I shift my attention to Iniri. “I suspect many born to the world below will have this duality. Ancestral blood allows the passing down of talents, but their souls are new.”

“Original souls?” Iniri asks as she helps the younger woman stand.

“Siri Mur is original to this world; who knows if there is an ancient recycle program in place.”

“What does this mean for Damin and me?” Siri interrupts.

“Damin is both. Massinian born with Ilfin genetics, which means he is your brother true here, but his soul is Makaran original, which means he cannot be bonded to you across the time passed.”

Earth and Nature Based Spirituality