Thursday, October 29, 2009

A whole new beginning - from TO BECOME WHOLE

Canis listened to the sounds out in the room.  Curled in his old blanket, he listened as his mother entertained another man.  He was drunk and loud.  His mother would have red marks on her face again when he left.  He could never ask her about them and when he touched them, she merely smiled sadly and held his hand away from them.
His mother had been entertaining men ever since he could remember, and ever since he could remember, Canis had been kept hidden away whenever a man was with her.  Sometimes, he was found anyway, either by one of her men or by the house owner, and they would travel for a while before his mother found them a new place, then she would start entertaining again.  She didn’t bring a man to their tiny room every night.  On those free nights, Canis’s mother would bring out some much-abused paper, and with a coal from the fireplace, they would curl up on the warm hearth and she would help him trace his letters.
Canis had no problem tracing the letters, but when it came to grouping them into words, it was as if he stumbled into a giant dark chasm.  His mother was very patient with him but she couldn’t understand how wide and dark that chasm was.  It was as if a vast empty hole was inside his head right where writing and speaking was supposed to be.  Canis could read though.  His mother read to him from their one tattered book over and over again.  Canis had the words of the story memorized but his mother didn’t suspect, not even when she caught him reading it; she merely assumed that he was only looking at the pictures.  There was no way he could tell her otherwise.
Canis was working on a surprise for her though.  Whenever she was away, he struggled to say a single word - Canis - his name.  His mother had told him once that it was the name of a star - that it had something to do with his father and his father’s family but he didn’t understand and he couldn’t ask. 
The first time he succeeded in uttering the whole word in one halting piece, it felt like a rope had been tossed across that vast emptiness.  It was like a single strand of spider’s web strung across a canyon so wide the other side could not be seen.  It was so small and fragile compared to the vastness but Canis could feel it and he treasured its hold.
When he finally showed his mother his achievement, she cried.  It wasn’t the response he expected but then she hugged him hard and told him how happy she was.
The man his mother was entertaining this time was stomping around, banging on the table and shouting about his plans.  Canis could scarcely hear his mother’s quiet voice as she tried to calm him.  The man ranted of riding and cutting but Canis didn’t understand it all.  He hoped he didn’t cut her hair; he liked her shiny copper braid, it was long and silky.  He would stroke it while she read to him.  Suddenly the man fell into the closet where Canis hid, breaking the door with his weight.  Startled, Canis growl and the man reached for him.
Cornered in the closet, he couldn’t dodge away so he was forced to fight back the only way he could.  His sharp teeth left four slices in the man’s wrist but that didn’t save him.  The man’s blunt nails scored painful welts across Canis’s chest as he grabbed for him.  He cried out when Canis’s teeth drew blood but the pain only seemed to increase his rage.  He pulled Canis out into the light and gave him a shake, roaring “changeling” for the wounding.  “You hid a beast in your closet, woman, a Changeling, I say; only animals have eyes that glow in the dark.  It was an animal that bit me, I say.  What is this witchcraft?  It’s bad enough that you have hair of the devil’s fire.  This spawn with an animal’s teeth is proof of your witchery.”  He shoved the woman from his path.
As he headed for the door with a snarling bundle of fury in his meaty hand Stephani wailed her denials.  “No, that’s my baby.  Look at him.  See, he’s just a child.  Give me my baby.  You can’t take my baby.”
The man wasn’t listening.  By the time he reached the common room, Canis was struggling in earnest.  Every time he came close to finding more flesh with his teeth, the man would give him another violent shake.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Canis in a Cage - from TO BECOME WHOLE - the second book of which King by Right is the first

Porter took them to the market square and to one of those massive stone building. Porter went inside while the rest of them waited. He came back out with a ring of four keys. Moving a couple at a time, those on the leashes were taken to great stone cages with bars on their front wall. When they were all behind bars and without their leashes for the first time, Canis found a dark corner and curled up with his arms around his knees. When the heavy metal door clanged shut, Canis winced as if he had just been struck. Had he known how bad this cage would feel, he would have made a break for freedom. Maybe he was growing used to his captivity.
“Gem,” said Porter. Even his voice made Canis flinch. “Try to get him to come out of that corner. He’s not for sale yet, but he’s got to start sometime.” Canis didn’t look up to see who Porter was talking about
“Yes master,” replied Gem.
While the metal collar had antagonized his nerves, the bars were positively suffocating, though there was plenty of room for them to stretch out or walk around. Sitting in a dark corner was no comfort. Even Gem’s gentle touch sent him cringing inside.
“Move around,” she said. “Let them see you,” she said. He tried but all that happened was his pacing the bars like a caged animal.
Porter saw this and gave Gem permission to desist her encouragement. His prowling was affecting the other five slaves in the pen.
Gem pulled him back to his corner but it was no use; once set in motion, Canis couldn’t seem to stop. In an effort to make Gem happy, he sat in his corner, but now that he’d moved once, he had to move again. He went and tested the bars but they were just as sturdy as before and still too close together even for his spare frame.
The first time he reached through the bars, he tried to follow his hand but the others pulled him away from his effort to slip through. Gem’s explanation of “we’ll all be beaten if you get away” was enough to halt that try but he couldn’t seem to stop pacing as long as the bars were close and freedom just on the other side.
His days in this cage became a grueling cycle. He’d pace to the bars and test their strength. He’d reach through, sometimes here, sometimes there, as far as he could reach without alarming his companions. He’d allow Gem to pull him away and head him back to his corner. In frustration, he’d curl up on his agony unable to cry, unable to explain the pain. Then the cycle would start again, he couldn’t stop, just as he couldn’t lie down and sleep. The nights were worse. Though they were further from such common noises as a couple having an argument in the night, the city sounds were still there. Armed men walked through three of four times every night and one night they chased another. Sometimes there was a catfight and sometimes it was a dog barking in the distance or the slamming of a door. there was no rest. Not here. Freedom was just there, just over there, so close yet so far away.

Monday, October 19, 2009

EMBER OF WRILOGONZIA - A Blog Opera - Part 3

Imagine her shock and dismay when things come back into focus... and finds herself standing on a grassy plain.  This can’t be Komosnia, and it certainly couldn’t be Mystik Falls; there didn’t appear to be anything magical about it.  It was suddenly cold enough that she could see her breath but there wasn’t any snow on the ground.  She looked around - I mean really - where had winter come from?  And then she looked around again; where were the others?  Even the Komosny that had been riding on her shoulder and talking her ear off was nowhere to be seen. The only thing her ever-increasing frozenness saw was a town but it looked like it was a stage set for a King Arthur movie or something.  There was this squalid little village all huddled up next to this wall that looked like it was built to keep out the local wildlife rather than a really determined knight in shining armor even though it was made of stone.  In the middle was this plain little castle or really big house - I mean really - since when does King Author’s castle not have towers?
It did look warm though.  Maybe someone in the castle had a computer.  It was obvious that thinking about pushing the keys on her own computer hadn’t worked, at least, not the way she had hoped.  Before she took that first fateful step, she looked back - just to be sure, she hadn’t stumbled through some door that was a lot closer and a lot warmer than the alternative.  Nada - with a sigh, she started her frozen carcass moving.
The village market was everything you could have hoped for from King Arthur in short-pants - nothing.  Not much anyway.  This had to be the poorest village in all of her imaginings.  There were a couple things though.  An old woman was selling what looked like pieces of dried meat rolled in sugar.  ‘Probably salt though,’ she thought to herself as she nonetheless searched her pockets for some money.  With nothing but lint to show for her search.  She was left to wonder if it really was salt, though her mouth watered for a little sugar just now.  Now if she passed someone hawking chocolate she’d very strongly consider mugging the person.
Suddenly the ground under her feet began to tremble and everyone around her was looking for the source.  ‘Great, just before I get there, the castle is going to be shaken to the ground by an earthquake.  What is it; can’t I have any luck today?’  She headed on anyway.
She hadn’t taken more than a dozen steps before she realized that the earthquake wasn’t ending.  There was nothing for it but to keep walking, at least she could almost feel her feet again.
The quake finally ended just as she reached the open gate to look in on a courtyard all abuzz over apparently nothing - nothing she could see anyway.  Unchallenged, she wondered on in hoping to find someone who would answer some of her questions and provide her with a little heat in the process.  To her surprise and pleasure, a plump woman found her.
“Here deary, you look half frozen.  Come inside by the cook-stove.  I’ll fix you a hot cup of tea.”
“Yes, thanks you,” said Ember, as she allowed the woman to guide her across the courtyard to a side door.
The woman continued to fuss.  “You shouldn’t be out here without a cloak, despite what the master’s doing.”
“I left my coat at home in the closet.  What did he do?” asked Ember.
“Well you shouldn’t have.  It’ll be snowing any day now, I expect.”  She waved away the question with a shake of her head.  “He’s such a fine lad but I just don’t understand what he’s done.  What’s your name, deary?”
It’s Ember, Ember Innocenzi.”
“Oh my word.  Such an exotic name.  I like it though, and I’ll have no trouble remembering it too, what with all the fire in your hair.  Don’t think I’ve ever seen the like before.  everyone calls me Della around here, unless they’re calling me mom.  I have three boys and two girls here, though you can’t tell by looking.  All of them are taller than me.  They get it from their father, their height.”
The door opened to a blast of heat.  It made Ember wonder if they weren’t entering an oven, though she certainly didn’t hesitate at the door.  The smell of fresh bread and some kind of roast simmering somewhere drew her inside like a magnet.
“You sit down right here,” said Della.  She sat Ember down at a massive plank table that was loaded with the coming meal in progress.  Della took one look at where Ember’s eyes were directed and began ladening down a plate with a sampling of everything that didn’t still need to be cooked.  After she set down the huge mug of steaming tea, Ember scarcely noticed the woman disappear.  She was starving and she was warming nicely.
Just as she was determinedly going to find room for the last grape on her plate, the little bug-eyed creature, Perhluna, sauntered across the table bold as can be and took the grape from her fingers.  “Just who do you think you are?” she asked, and then,”Where did you go?” blurted out right after - the question quite beyond her control.
“He, he, he, he, you are full anyway,” said Perhluna.  “You?  You appear to be lost.  How you managed to miss Mistic Falls, I have no idea, but this sure isn’t it.  You were lucky I found you.”
Just then, Della came back.  “Here you go, deary.  This’ll keep you nice and warm.”  She produced a heavy cloak lined with soft gray fur and draped it around her shoulders.  Ember looked over at her words and then quickly back - Perhluna was gone as if he - she - it had never been.
As if the kitchen wasn’t warm enough, and now she had a very full belly.  The mystery of where she was quickly drowned in mint tea sweetened with honey.
Ember sat there watching Della baste a roast in a massive oven and sipped at her tea.  It wasn’t long before her cheek found a fur-covered arm and her eyes were closing.  Just as the warm kitchen disappeared behind closed eyelids, she remembered she was going to ask after a computer.  She sighed, maybe a little nap first.

This was started by Carter -
This follows Crystal -

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

From KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT - Available on Amazon - The Mother's Touch

In the courtyard, off to the side out of the way, was a small wooden building of obvious age.  For as long as Harris could remember, it had always been locked and had gone undisturbed for years.  Harris remembered someone telling him that it was used for storing old things no one was quite willing to throw away, though he couldn’t remember anyone ever putting anything in it, and no one ever bothered to clear it out.
Daniella’s mother, however, was never so lax about such things.  When she discovered its true contents, she had stopped right there and showed her daughter, who was shaken enough to tell Harris.
Long before he could see what was inside, Harris began to feel uncomfortable.  He found he was unable to touch even the doorjamb, but when he looked inside, what he saw turned his blood to ice.  It used to be a shrine to the Mother, but layers of dried blood all but obliterated the features of the small statue.
“Blood sacrifices,” whispered Makkovik at his shoulder, “a lot of blood sacrifices.”
There were chicken’s feet tied around the wrists and neck of the statue in a macabre imitation of jewelry; a kid’s head crowned its head, with the tiny hooves draped over its shoulders and the rest of the desiccated skin hanging down its back in a gruesome imitation of a hooded cape.  Something once slimy but now old and dried was wrapped around its feet, as if to trip up or shackle the figure in the middle.  Other - mostly unidentifiable - things were strewn around in obscene arrangements.
“Are those entrails?” asked the boy of no one in particular.
Harris couldn’t look anymore.  He turned and moved several strides away, very close to being sick.  “Who has been doing this - for how long - why?”  He looked toward the palace, mentally searching his childhood memories for possible answers.
Daniella touched his arm in sympathy.  “We can’t leave it like this.  What should we do?”
Harris was shaking as if he was very cold.  “Destroy it all, smash every stone to rubble unusable for any building and burn every piece of wood.  If I can bring myself to touch the statue, I’ll see if I can’t clean it up somehow.”
Daniella nodded.  “Are you all right?  You’re shaking.”
“I’ll be fine; I’ve just never seen anything like that before.  It’s . . . it’s vile.”
Hardening his resolve and steeling his nerves to face it again, Harris took his cloak off and handed it to the boy just before entering the little building.
The boy’s eyes widened with astonishment as his hand brushed Harris’s and he said, “Get everyone out of the courtyard.  Everyone!”
Makkovik and the boy headed for the palace, while Daniella ran for the stables to get the horses and their handlers inside as well.
Inside the shrine, Harris stood in front of the statue.  He bowed his head and touched his sword hand to the stone that rested between his eyebrows.  “Mother, forgive us for this desecration.  Cleanse this place if You will, for we need Your presence among us.  Or take it back to Your womb, and I will build another.  Your grace and guidance is vital to the core of us.”  He allowed himself to sink deep into meditation, while a view of all the shrines he had ever visited marched across his mind, accompanied by all of the feelings and emotions he had felt at each one.
Lost in the Mother’s tender embrace, Harris was unaware of the changes going on around him.  The little building and its small statue with its grisly decorations, even the floor underneath it all, dissolved into dust and blew away on the cold wind that whipped through the courtyard without quite touching him.  Then the ground began to tremble, not hard enough to break the windows of the palace, but enough to get everyone’s attention.
All who watched, saw a large circle of rock grow up out of the ground around Harris.  The striations were a wonder to behold.  Every color the Earth had to offer was displayed in thick or thin streaks somewhere on the surface of the stone.  When the shaking finally stopped, there was a large stone dome where the old shrine had stood.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Long before she reached the doors, she missed the sound of the musicians that should have been filling the furthest corners with sound.  When she cautiously opened the side door to the great hall, the first thing she saw was several men, also in the black and red she’d seen too much of already, struggling with something she couldn’t identify.  It wasn’t until she followed the ropes up from their hands that she saw the hanging bodies.  Two of them.  They were wearing gold pants.  Their sleeves were red.  Both of them.  Their short armor was hooked in the back with a grappling hook.  The rope made a twisted detour around their necks before going up - up to . . . .  They were swinging but they were doing nothing to make themselves swing.  ‘Why were they . . . ?’  ‘Who were they?’  With horror, all the pieces fell into place.  Her brothers were hanging . . . had been hung . . . were dead.  Her brothers were dead.  Her eyes went to the throne.  ‘Father should have . . . .’  A gasp escaped before she could stifle it and his head turned.  His eyes found her and widened with surprise.  A sound came from his mouth or was it something else?  Was it a word?  ‘Did he say run?’  ‘Why was he so high?’  Her eyes looked for the answer and found only the flagstaff firmly planted upright ‘but how . . . .  Oh no, not that.  No, not that.  It couldn’t be.’  She tried to breathe.  The flag was on the floor soiled with more than blood.  Discarded.  Desecrated.  Another whisper came from her father.  She looked up in time to see his head fall forward onto his chest.

Friday, October 2, 2009


On April 22, 2008 at about 7:30 or so in the morning, I learned that my book, KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT was a real book. I was, of course, ecstatic. A few days later I got a package in the mail. You have to understand that at the time I was staying with my son; I had no reason to expect any mail I hadn't asked for. When I opened it and discovered a copy of my book, I think I was in shock. I mean, after all, it's one thing to know in my head that my book was now published - it's quite another to actually be able to touch it and turn pages made out of real paper and see the familiar words there on the page instead of on my computer screen. I don't think I stopped grinning for days. That evening, after work, my son and his wife took me out for a drink (I needed one). I was delightfully pleased when the bar gave me my drinks for free. I don't know who picked up the tab, whether it was the waitress or the bartender but it was really cool. As I recall, I had three drinks and I don't remember what they were called. My daughter-in-law, Stacy, wanted me to try one she liked and of course I like margaritas. I'm not sure what the other one was. Needless to say, I was still grinning like a Cheshire cat at this point.

Now, to top off this ecstasy, my son's neighbor went out and ordered a copy from Barns & Noble right away so about a week after touching my first book, she brought me her copy for me to sign. Once again, shock nearly overcame me and I came perilously close to forgetting how to write my name. My hand was actually shaking and I'm not prone to trembling hands, unless I'm cold. Ah, such is the very fond memory, now immortalized for everyone to share, of my first published book. We'll see if I go through the same thing next time. And yes, come hell or high water, there will be a next time.

More of my Obsession - DRUID DERRICK

“I present to the council Derrick Edward Johnson,” said Aboleth.
The use of his full name had a strange affect on Derrick; it left him reeling and dizzy.  Nearly panicked, he almost missed the first question.
“When did you first use your magic?” asked the Grand Druid.  This was the first Derrick had heard him speak and his voice was so gravely that any inflection was lost.
Clutching at the subject, Derrick said the first thing that came to mind.  He’d, of course, used magic for the first time several lifetimes ago.  “I suppose it was when I was a young cleric at the temple of Pelorus . . . ,” he started, but he was interrupted by a murmur around the gathering.
“You name a very old god, boy,” said one of the sitters.
Haltingly Derrick continued; he hated being the center of attention.  “Yes, well, it was . . . a very long time ago.  I don’t . . . remember . . . for sure, but I think I’ve lived five or six lives since then . . . .  There might have been more; my memories are very confusing.”
A woman spoke up, disbelieving.  “You’re claiming to remember several lives, any of which could have lasted a hundred years, using a round number.  That’s hundreds of years.”
“I am, but it’s even longer than that; there was at least two elves as well . . . maybe three, I just don’t remember clearly enough.”
The woman scoffed.  “The elves can live for up to eight hundred years, and you’re talking a possibility of three.  Just how far back are you trying to make us believe you remember?”
Derrick’s voice was starting to tremble, but he clenched his hands into fists and tried to do the math.  “Three elves - I think they lived full lives - that’s twenty-four hundred years.  I think there was a halfling - that’s around two hundred years.  I think there was a dwarf too - that’s four hundred years or so.  And I think there were five or six humans, some were clerics, most were druids - say five hundred years.  Altogether that’s thirty-five hundred years or so.”
“That’s nearly fifteen hundred years before Christianity,” said another sitter, incredulous at the very idea.  “I suppose that’s not too far off from the time of Pelorus.”