Chapter 1: AVIOR: The Mythical World

Following on directly from

AVAELYN: THE ENSHROUDED WORLD:

The Vallas go to war with each other.

Avaelyn returns to Reaume, no longer enshrouded … but soon another world draws attention, for it is there that the great battle will be fought. 

Avior is veiled.

By myth.

By destruction.

By inverted sacred sites. 

On Valaris, four strangers to the realm prepare to face Torrullin and Elianas, Tristan and Alusin, and they have a tale that raises terrible alarm. On Akhavar, the reality of the true enemy surfaces. The Path of Shades must be reopened … and old foes therefore step into the arena. A vengeful Timekeeper, an ancient Vallorin with a bone between his teeth, and a wife seeking to undo her husband.

The plight of Avior’s children is discovered, and all fight to save them from the monsters flourishing beneath the shroud created by myth. From dragons to darklings, the field is strewn with horror. 

How to end their reign?

All are called into battle, from the Valleur, Kaval and Guardians to mysterious sorcerers gathered on the volcanic world of Danaan, but is Valla pitted against Valla that causes shudders in the ether.

No matter what, Torrullin will not stand aside, not until every child is safe.

CHAPTER 1

So many! I am blessed.

~ H. Waetherhar, novelist ~

The Dome of the Kaval

ELIANAS felt Torrullin labour for breath, felt his dead weight on the other end of the tether, and felt him plummet through moisture. He felt also the man’s elation when he realised he was in the atmosphere of their world, and silently celebrated with him.

He heard every word of the interaction between Torrullin and Avaelyn’s sentience, and tears flowed over his cheeks. How blessed they were. He jerked forward when Torrullin slammed the grappling hook into bedrock, thanking his foresight for handing the four men behind him extra tendrils to secure the hold, for they instantly braced to hold him upright and inside.

The link to his beloved vanished.

The tether dematerialised.

All gods, he whispered internally, closing his eyes, I pray it worked.

The loud exclamations around and behind him forced his eyes open, and Elianas stepped to the edge of the Dragon ogive. And there she was. Avaelyn. Beautiful Avaelyn. Back in Reaume.

He fell to his knees, and wept.

Avaelyn

Teroux’s home

A GLOWING blue coil of light appeared from the cloud cover and with it flames shaped like a three-pronged hook. It swirled to the north of Roux Island, and thereafter the flames raced for the ocean, only it didn’t reach the sea, it smashed into the small outcrop Torrullin had once claimed was an ancient rock that was one giant column from the ocean floor itself. A massive eruption of light ensued, and then utter darkness descended.

“Bloody hell,” Teroux whispered. “Is he … did he …?”

Silence was next … until they heard a man laugh.

“Knew it,” Tarlinn declared. “This is why we jumped into that void. Having accepted himself, he discovered the belief he needed to unveil our world.”

“I understand now,” Tristan murmured.

They heard splashes as if someone swam towards Teroux’s island. Looking at each other, the four men raced for Teroux’s jetty. Skidding to a halt on the slick stone, they stood at the far end and cast gazes into the inky ocean.

Splash. Splash.

“There!” Teroux exclaimed, pointing frantically.

Yes, there. Arm over arm, a man swan towards them, and then he was close, and they knew it was Torrullin.

Tristan hollered, “Wet enough, are you, for a swim this night?”

Treading water, Torrullin shouted, “Tristan! You made it!”

“Seems you did, too!”

The splashes resumed and then they helped him from the water. Despite the fact that he dripped salt water, the cousins enfolded him in their arms. Alusin smiled like an idiot, watching everything.

Eventually Tarlinn asked, “Is she back?”

Torrullin grinned at him over the clasp. “Avaelyn has returned to Reaume, yes.”

The dwelling on the cliffs

ELIANAS alighted on the grass where the bench perched near the edge, and simply stood there, his dark eyes trawling from one end of their home to the other. It was still night, but in the enveloping darkness he saw everything.

Kneeling, he placed his palm upon the cold green stalks. Thank you, Avaelynfrom my heart.

The world sentience did not reply with words, but he felt a warm, ethereal hand descend to his crown and briefly rest there. He had, however, heard her speak to Torrullin via the connection they maintained – him in the Dome, Torrullin blindly diving into Avaelyn’s atmosphere – and counted himself as eternally blessed.

When he looked up, Torrullin was before him.

“That was a fool thing to do,” Elianas grunted, before smiling and adding, “but I am so glad you succeeded.”

We succeeded,” Torrullin murmured.

Rising, he moved to the man and merely embraced him. Yes, for this, this, there were no words.

Morning

HAVING asked for the remaining hours of darkness to reconnect with their home, when the first sunbeam fell upon the bench in the elements upon the cliff, both men, sleepless, knew the time had arrived to resume the ever more complicated mission of the present. Avaelyn had returned to Reaume, thus was that quest done with, and now it was time to focus on the greater tapestry, as Tarlinn would say. Sitting with cold mugs between them, watching the ocean light up as it greeted the day, they wondered who would arrive first to prod them into renewed action.

It was Quilla.

The birdman, though, did not come to prod, he came simply to greet. Appearing before them, he placed a tiny hand upon a small breast, and bowed. “My lords, you are returned.”

Simultaneously, both men raised hands to their brows, touched.

Quilla smiled. “Reverence, is it? It does fit, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” Elianas agreed.

“Welcome home,” Quilla murmured.

Rolling his shoulders, Torrullin stood. “Thank you, Quilla, and thank you for watching over everyone.” He snatched up the mugs and sent Elianas a questioning glance.

“You go,” the dark man replied.

“Take as long as you need,” Torrullin offered, and indicated for Quilla to follow him.

Elianas sat on.

TRISTAN and Alusin were in the kitchen preparing the kind of breakfast fit for a host eating in stages. Boiled eggs, sausages, salad, sliced bread, with a pile of plates to hand. A ‘help yourself when you’re hungry’ meal. Coffee burbled somewhere, and the orange juice was freshly squeezed.

“Thought you’d be back on Akhavar already,” Torrullin teased as he entered with Quilla, wiggling his eyebrows their way.

Alusin grinned, but Tristan grunted, “Can’t, not until we’ve faced the Syllvan. A promise we made.”

“Bugger,” Torrullin stated.

“Pretty much,” Tristan laughed.

Torrullin grabbed a plate and loaded up. Already eating as he made his way to the table, he said, “Thanks. Hungry.” Sitting, he tucked in.

Quilla soon joined him, his plate as loaded.

“How does a birdman eat so much?” Torrullin muttered.

“He does when he’s hungry,” Quilla snapped back, and ignored everyone to eat with relish.

Teroux and Tarlinn appeared then, and simply fell in with the ‘help yourself’ meal. A few minutes later, it was Karydor and Echayn, with Belun and Teighlar in tow. Belun and Teroux went at each other, laughing and pumping hands, and then Teroux and the Senlu Emperor sized each other up and, realising no animosity held sway anymore, backslapped each other resoundingly. Somehow, they fit around the table, including Tristan and Alusin.

“Any moment now,” Torrullin said, winking at Teroux.

The Kaval leader grinned. “I know. Tian won’t wait much longer.”

“Tian brought everyone,” Tianoman said from the passage, and entered with his entire family trailing him in.

“Cousin!” Teroux hollered, scraping his chair back and racing at the man.

“Teroux!”

Torrullin, leaning back, watched fondly as the cousins gripped each other, both laughing and crying at the same time. Aislinn waited her turn with a silly grin on her face, and around them milled Lunik holding Sianora’s hand – excellent, Torrullin mused – as well as Timare and Zane, and Enlyl and Ashar leaned against each other shoulder to shoulder watching everything and everyone with big eyes. Tianoman gripped Alusin to him, happy to see him safe and sound, and then suddenly demanded an explanation for Tristan’s blue eyes … tuning that out, Torrullin swivelled his gaze to Karydor at the table, to find his father waiting for his look. Ah, yes, family, and quite a large one now.

When Elianas’ hand descended to rest on his shoulder from behind him, Torrullin closed his eyes. Perfect. His loved ones were in the same space at the same time.

“We are blessed,” Elianas murmured in his ear.

Indeed, oh, indeed.

Later

BELUN returned to the Dome, which was now in orbit around Avaelyn as a precautionary measure, and Enlyl and Timare reluctantly went back to Valaris, while Lunik took Sianora and Zane to Kalgaia, explaining about their task underway there. Ashar went with them.

That left Torrullin and Elianas with the three cousins, who could not stop talking, Karydor, Echayn and Tarlinn, who were wordless, simply listening to those three try and outdo each other, as well as Alusin and Aislinn, who could not get a word in, and Tarlinn, Quilla and Gabryl, the latter having joined them a while ago, sitting now with his father, both quiet, but smiling as they watched everyone.

In the informal sitting area overlooking the bridge over the fishpond in the garden, Torrullin and Elianas sat side by side near the ledge, backs against the stone, legs stretched out, and merely listened also. This day they would allow the chaos of many personalities, but tomorrow? Ha.

Teighlar rose and came to hunker before them. “Knowing you, this isn’t normal for your home,” he teased.

“Today is different,” Torrullin murmured.

Sitting cross-legged, Teighlar nodded. “Alik would love this. That girl is made for a large family.”

“I’m surprised she isn’t here,” Elianas put in.

“She’s in surgery,” Teighlar shrugged. “No doubt she’ll visit soon enough.” He eyed them. “Gabryl and I will return to Grinwallin to renew family bonds just now, but before we do, what’s next?”

“We don’t know yet,” Torrullin said. “Gabryl can’t leave, though, not until he’s faced the Syllvan.”

Silence arrived then, as those words penetrated.

Tristan grunted, “Then let’s get it done, so that we can all go on. You, too, Torrullin, and you, Elianas. Both of you have been avoiding the Syllvan, and that’s downright stupid now. They have answers we all need.”

Elianas grimaced, but didn’t otherwise respond.

“Perhaps all here should face them,” Teighlar suggested.

“No way,” Echayn muttered. “I’m going to bend Sabian’s ear for a while, find out what he knows about shadowy influences.” Echayn summarily vanished before anyone could stop him and force him into the Sentinel Chamber.

Karydor stared at the space vacated, grinned, shrugged, and as swiftly disappeared.

“Clearly not,” Teighlar sighed.

“Tian,” Aislinn murmured, “let us leave them to it. Teroux can come to us on Akhavar when done …”

“No way; I’m coming right now,” that cousin stated. “No Syllvan for me.”

Tianoman glanced at Torrullin, who laughed. “Go; we’ll join you soon enough.”

“All right then,” Tianoman nodded. Taking Aislinn’s hand, he dematerialised with her, and Teroux hastily followed suit, an expression of anticipation on his face. He, no doubt, wished to wander Akhavar’s mountain halls and renew the bonds there. Far better that facing a tree trunk able to unmask one’s secrets, after all.

“Quilla?” Teighlar prompted.

“I am not afraid of questions,” the birdman said. “Count me in.”

“An hour,” Elianas grunted, levering himself upward. “Need to refresh first.” He strode away, heading for the sleeping area of the dwelling.

“An hour,” Teighlar echoed, and shifted to the edge, jumped off and went a-wandering around the garden. Gabryl joined him.

Tristan and Alusin did the same, but went in a different direction. That left Torrullin with Quilla and Tarlinn. Quilla ruffled his feathers, and said he would be back, that the Lifesource would offer him the serenity needed for the Syllvan, and absconded. Torrullin gazed at Tarlinn, and waited.

The not so generic man soon kneeled before him. “I wish to assume a place as family, Torrullin.”

“I have noticed the differences,” Torrullin nodded. “You are now forever separated from not only the Throne, but the man you were in the past. Are you whole?”

“I believe so.”

Rising then, Torrullin bid the man do the same. Gripping his shoulders, he said, “You are Tarlinn Aleru, and I welcome you as family.”

When the One spoke your true name, it set you free. Tarlinn’s knees nearly buckled as the release overcame him. “Thank you.”

Letting him go, Torrullin winked. “So. Here we have a full-blood Aleru able to restore the bloodline … means you’ll have to make little Alerus, of course … and there’s a full-blood Danae running around, too, able to do the same. Karydor may need some convincing …” He doubled over in laughter when Tarlinn merely gaped at him. “I’m just saying that the great lines can be rebuilt.”

“Yes, well, give me a break, will you? I don’t even remember how to use that part of me yet.”

“Ha, trust me, that will not last much longer.”

Shaking his head, Tarlinn gave him the finger, and jumped off the ledge. Laughing still, Torrullin went to find Elianas.

AVIOR 

Chapter 1: AVAELYN: The Enshrouded World

Our children are sacrosanct.

Avaelyn the world returns to Reaume, that great collection of spaces tangible and intangible, after a thousand-year absence, but no one knows the home of Torrullin Valla and Elianas Danae again swerves in its designated place.

Avaelyn is enshrouded.

By magic.

By time.

By manipulation.

How to rip aside the shroud?

On Akhavar, meanwhile, Enlyl Valla lifts from the mud in the badlands an ancient artefact, a sword created to protect children. The plight of Reaume’s children is dire, after all, and volunteers from many worlds gather to do something about it.

Will the sword help?

When the shivers of premonition tell that the young are taken to keep Avaelyn enshrouded, the Vallas take the fight to the monsters responsible for such horror. They will not rest until every child is safe.

However it comes to pass, Avaelyn will be unveiled.

CHAPTER 1

Beware of examining your past too frequently.

~ Teighlar of Grinwallin ~

Avaelyn

Trezonadr Mountains

SLAPPING his hands upon the expanse of his scarred wooden kitchen table, Sabian swore foully. Master Historian? Ha, master fool! He cussed some more, then swiped the empty mug accusing him from the tabletop, grunting when it shattered against the far wall. Yes, better. He felt … well, perhaps calmer was stretching it. At least less furious. Ha.

A snort of amusement emanating from the region of his open front door had him straightening with such alacrity that he pulled a muscle in his lower back. More cussing followed. Master bloody fool, indeed.

“What’s got you in such a mood?” Torrullin Valla laughed as he entered the small cottage Sabian called home beneath the towering mountains in this region.

“Book,” Sabian muttered, swiping fair hair from his forehead as if the strands had been placed there to deliberately irk him. “That damn book, is what.”

Eyeing the book in question – a hefty tome with the appearance of terrible age on a dedicated pedestal next to Sabian’s cluttered desk in the corner near the pantry – Torrullin murmured, “A conundrum?” Open to around a third of the way, an illustration stared at the wooden ceiling overhead. “Is that a sword?”

“And don’t we know too well how swords can determine fate?” Sabian mumbled, rounding the table with his arm extended. “What brings you?”

Stepping into the ritual forearm to forearm clasp, Torrullin said, “I’ve come to pick your brain.”

“Hopefully not about a sword. Coffee?”

“Please.” Releasing the greeting hold, Torrullin moved to the book for a closer view. “No blades today, no battle other than seeking an answer to our dilemma.” Peering at the rendition of a weapon that appeared as most swords did, seeing nothing in the depiction to have caused Sabian such distress, evident in the lifted eyebrows he sent Sabian’s way, he added, “I am of the opinion the past holds the key.”

“And here we thought we were free of said past,” Sabian rebutted.

“Old stories can still tell us something.”

As a historian, Sabian trusted to that truth and thus did not refute the statement. He set to gathering the necessary to brew a pot of the dark stuff, knowing his guest preferred it strong. “So ask what you came to ask.”

Finding a brush and scoop, Torrullin hunkered at the site of the broken mug, sweeping the ceramic shards from the floor. “Is there mention in the Lore Book about veiling?”

Sending him a look, Sabian muttered, “Of course. The Arcana myth that protected the tear between Valaris and Ardosia is chronicled, a veiling if ever there was one, and so is the Forbidden Zone obscuring. You know this.”

Rising with his gathered pieces, Torrullin headed to the small bin near the backdoor, tossing the lot in. “Other than those.”

Lifting his chin at the bin, Sabian said, “Thanks. Amazes me how you are handy when it comes to chores.”

Smirking, Torrullin took a seat at the table. “Because I am so important it should be beneath me?”

Grinning, Sabian took a seat opposite. Behind him the stovetop kettle burbled. “Not who you are, is it?” Wafting a hand, he went on. “Sure, there are other shrouds in our longer past, such as the time Nemisin denied the existence of Danaan, and his lies surrounding Orb, and there are a few ascribed to races other than the Valleur, but none hold the kind of answers we need. Nothing points to a way out of Avaelyn’s enshrouded state, not even obliquely. Then again, truthfully, there may be, but I haven’t yet found it. That is a mighty book.”

Indeed. A mighty book. One created by a bloodline of lore keepers, one as old as the Valleur, of which Shep was the current embodiment. Shep’s last name, in fact, was Lore, and was the scholarly man with deep wells on compassion not eminently suited to the task. However, Shep’s need to record events in the magical tome ended when Avaelyn swerved away from the timeline. These days he spent most of his time at the Healers, leaving the deciphering to Sabian.

“Where is Shep?” Torrullin asked, causing Sabian to hike an eyebrow upward. “Right. Healers.” Frowning then, Torrullin murmured, “Shep seems reluctant to talk about the past contained in that book.”

“After our adventures on Lykandir, he clammed up, yes.” Inhaling, Sabian again slapped the tabletop, unexpectedly enlightened. “Because he knows something. The man says not a word because he’s afraid he’ll give it away. Always garrulous, now silent? Why didn’t I see it before? No, stymied by a drawing of a sword, I am, stumped as to why the book won’t let me turn the page. Fool. As if a lost blade is able …” Halting there, he swallowed. His fingers curled into claws. He rested his blue gaze on the far man on the other side of the table. “Torrullin, no such animal as coincidence, right?”

The grey eyes meeting his abruptly shifted into silver. “Now you’re downright frightening me, Master Historian.”

Those silvering eyes meant Torrullin had entered a different realm of understanding. Clearing his throat, Sabian divulged, “I think I’m scaring myself. See, that drawing? Nothing special. An ornate pommel, probably pricey, but nothing extraordinary. Still, resonance, you know. And when you read the legend it comes with? See …”

“Speak plain,” Torrullin growled.

“Lake of Swords, Torrullin, where Tristan ended Halon’s life and threw his blade into the water. Alusin found it, though, and returned it to him. A veiled place, a thing of time, and someone retrieved something from the water, and that has never happened before. Has that altered the dynamics, I ask?” Rising, he made his way to the ancient book. “This sword, also tossed into the Lake after its owner died, had before its disappearance the ability to ever return to the hand that knew it best. If lost during battle, within an hour of losing it, it would hurtle through the spaces back to that hand.” Licking his lips, he faced the silver eyes fixated on him. “What if the owner is reborn? I’m willing to wager you my vegetable patch that the sword will rise from the shallows of a legend and return to the one it has waited for, and in so doing, the Lake of Swords will appear, a magical enclave, Torrullin, able to wed the flows of time, space and everything within and between.”

“A portal.”

The man had paled somewhat, Sabian noticed, but he nodded towards that paling countenance. “The blade was known as Akynitun, Valleur for …”

“… death’s gateway or …” Torrullin inhaled, and exhaled the next word explosively. “… shroud.” He inhaled long before asking, “Whose hand did it know best?”

“No name is given but he is described as a Golden with brown eyes, his hair a dark gold, a good man, a strong man. He protected children, his life’s work.”

Closing his eyes, thereby releasing Sabian from the pressure of that otherworldly gaze, Torrullin mused, “Sounds like Tianoman.”

“That’s what had me in a tizz. Your grandson does fit the description, but it didn’t resonate, not as the rest did. Now I’m thinking his son Lunik, or another of his sons. By now he has sons, plural,” Sabian stated. “A man walking the plains of Akhavar, old enough after a millennium, as they count the years, of our vanishing from those spaces to have come into his power naturally, a Valla with Danae genetics. Perhaps a man who feels the need to protect children also?” Throwing his hands up, he added, “But this is all supposition.”

Silver orbs lanced his every secret space, causing Sabian to shudder, and when Torrullin responded with, “Too much coincidence is in play,” his knees weakened. They, he already understood, himself, Torrullin, Elianas, Shep, the others, would now overturn every coincidental stone until the narrative either revealed the answer to Avaelyn rejoining the timeline for Reaume, or utter failure resulted. Failure was not an option. Torrullin sought return to the space where Akhavar and his family resided within, and would undo every strand he could find to have it come to pass.

Avaelyn’s western seaboard

Roux Island

WOOD creaked, sails flapped and stays hummed in the freshening breeze coming off the ocean. White spray danced into the air at the apex of every wave. Gulls swirled overhead, noisy as ever.

Teroux Valla worked the ropes, tying off loose ends before the storm arrived. His golden curls hid under a woollen cap. Did not need hair whipping his eyes right now. Even in harbour ships remained vulnerable, and this baby was his favourite. First built and by his own hand, it was special to him, for he rebuilt himself with every hull curve and deck plank laid. Leaving Akhavar and his traumatic past behind for this island on Avaelyn led to ship building and also restoration of self. In a way, it was his good luck charm.

Lovingly sweeping a hand over the polished railing, Teroux eventually considered every task done and stared over the ocean instead, noting the waves reach higher, the spray thrown further, and in the distance the smudge had already darkened. An hour, no more, and the spirits of sea and air would pummel his island and every ship in the vicinity. Not many of those, fortunately, for he had sounded warning two days back.

Time then to stoke the fire in his cottage and prepare a nourishing meal. Giving the smudge a final look, he turned away and headed down to the sturdy stone quay, checking the knots anchoring the vessel to its mooring as he passed by. As he set a booted foot to the lowest step of the meandering stairway carved into the hillside adjacent the harbour, a scream tore through the air, curdling the marrow in his bones. No, he imagined that. No one lived on his island. Shaking his head, he trod onto the next step, and another screech separated his ears from his head. Breathing fast, he raced upward, for the sound had source up there, not behind him on the jetty.

On attaining level ground, he skidded to a halt.

There, by Aaru, a flying contraption hung from the flagpole jutting up from his chimney, a deflating balloon covering half his cottage, and a woman clung to a rope swinging underneath a torn basket. He wanted to laugh – had he not said flying baskets were idiotic when they had not the gas to keep the balloons properly afloat – but she was in danger, and that bloody thing needed to get off his roof before the damn storm was upon them.

Striding in, he called up, “Can you not float down?” Her hair was as golden as his, she had to be Valleur, and that meant born with magic.

Hazel eyes glared down at him. “I’m human, idiot!”

Right. Avaelyn was home to Valleur, Senlu, and humans originally from Xen III, Beacon and Valaris, with a few oddballs thrown in here and there. Humans, too, laid claim to the golden glory that was the Valleur natural hair colour. Rolling his eyes, he said, “Let go, I’ll catch you.”

Immediately she shook her head, whitening markedly.

“Listen, you’re brave enough to fly in that thing, high, so I think you can manage a few yards of freefall. I will catch you. I am Valleur.”

“I know who you are,” she grimaced, and abruptly released her hold to plummet.

Well, that caught him unprepared, but he hastily muttered the words of cushioning and stepped underneath her. As he extended his arms, she landed in them. Despite the cushioning, his shoulders protested with jolts of fiery agony. Bloody hell. Setting her down, he shouted, “A little warning will have helped!”

Winking, she said, “My thanks.” She glanced upward. “The wind blew me off course. Why do you have that pole up there? It’s an invitation to lightning.”

“It diffuses strikes,” he grunted, massaging one shoulder. “Now help me get that thing off or the storm will use it to rip my roof into smithereens.” Gesturing at the broken balloon, he stomped to the corner to see what was where, and ignored her when she made no move.

Snarled as the ropes were, it took him the better part of ten minutes of succinct spelling to remove the offensive device. The woman did try to help after a few minutes, but there wasn’t much she could do, not until the material lay rumpled in the grassy paddock where he kept two horses. They, luckily, had already been stabled against the approaching weather. She started rolling the material, and he aided her, eventually magically lifting and sending the remains of the basket and the untidy roll to the storeroom beyond the stables.

By then the wind was a howling monster and, unspeaking, they hastened indoors. As there was nowhere else for her to go, she had now become a guest until the storm petered out.

“Thank you,” she said once he had secured the front door.

“Who are you?” He headed to the hearth and there snapped his fingers to set flame to the pyramid of sticks, thanking his stars for magic, for he had not the wherewithal left to build and stoke a fire the old-fashioned way. A magical blaze required simply a few sticks.

“Naemi Wynd.” She closed in to extend her hands to the blaze.

“Call me Teroux.”

Dressed in leathers to cope with the cold in the higher air currents, she was soon warm again, and moved to the large window overlooking the small bay. “Something happened up there, Teroux. I’ve flown many times, testing the gas ratios I’m trying to perfect, and know well the currents, but …”

He interrupted. “A storm on approach can be unpredictable.”

“I wasn’t near this region, not until shoved this way.” She did not look at him, no doubt thinking she sounded crazy.

He was Valleur. Crazy was once everyday for him in the times before Avaelyn separated. “Shoved? What happened?”

“It felt as if something sucked at the basket and then released so quickly that it catapulted me in a different direction. Kind of like a hole filled with vacuum briefly opened, and then suddenly closed. Shoved.” Shrugging, she faced him. “Sounds impossible.”

“It’s not, but should be on Avaelyn. We’re enshrouded and outsiders cannot influence anything.” Frowning, he thought it through. “Either there are localised currents we are unaware of, or …” Like to her, currents of air and, in his case, water also, had become a field of expertise. “… someone on the ground either deliberately or accidentally messed with your situation. Hopefully not.” For that would mean someone needed to be taken to task and it meant investigation. “Well, we can’t do anything about it now,” he muttered and made a beeline for the kitchen alcove he loved to spend time in. “You hungry?”

“Starving,” she laughed, and the sound of a woman laughing in his private space did something to his gut he had not experienced in over a hundred years.

The Singing Chapel

SEARCHING for Shep Lore, having left Sabian to his mutterings, Torrullin eventually apprehended the purple clad, rotund half-Valleur in the small chapel that served as a place of tranquillity for those needing it while at the Healers, or as Shep preferred, the hospital. Valleur in general, despite his eye rolls, called it the Healers.

The man was rapt, listening to the birds in the foliage outside singing their songs of praise. Birdsong was the reason why this serene place was named the Singing Chapel, a site sacred now for many reasons, no longer merely a Valleur sacred site forming part of the fourteen geo nodes.

“My Lord!” Shep gasped when he became aware of Torrullin. “Oh, my mind, Forgive me!”

“No matter, Shep.” Sitting in the nearest window seat, Torrullin sent his gaze outward. As ever, the surroundings soothed, and the musical tones bathed him in bliss. “Ever I am renewed here.”

Shep smiled. “Indeed.”

“How fares the facility?”

“All is well. We finished the final repairs a few weeks back.” He referred to the damage caused by the near collision with Lykandir three months ago. “We have only three patients. Nothing serious.” His tone offered a lilt at the end of his summation, as if wondering why he had been sought out this day.

“Lake of Swords,” Torrullin murmured, and listened to the man’s response with more than his ears, and sensed how Shep Lore instantly tensed. “It is time to tell me, Shep.”

Silence answered him first, and thereafter a volubly sigh sounded. “Very well. Not here.” With deliberation, the purple form rose from his bench and headed out, which was most telling, for Shep never acted first in his ruler’s presence.

Whistling silently through suddenly clenched teeth, Torrullin followed him out. “Shall we go to the Lifesource?”

“Excellent idea. Quilla should hear this also.” Tawny eyes speared him as Shep looked up. “My Lord, call Elianas.”

Torrullin’s gut hollowed.

He sent the call.

AS THE two men dematerialised for transport, Anastir stepped from the shadows. As First Sorcerer and Elder, he was entitled to go where he pleased, but listening in on Torrullin’s conversation could be construed as something beyond eavesdropping. He had trailed Shep Lore, however, and Torrullin’s arrival had been a surprise.

It seemed, Anastir mused, that Lord Elixir had stumbled upon the same track he had skinned knees on, and Shep, as suspected, knew the way. He intended to attend the impromptu meeting at the Lifesource.

Indeed. Change was now daily fact.

Teroux’s cottage

OVER roasted vegetables, slivers of fried fish, and garlic bread, accompanied by a fruity white the winemakers finally excelled at – it only took them fifty years of vinegar varieties to find success – Teroux asked Naemi to be specific in location for the ‘shove’ she experienced.

Her golden hair tucked behind her ears, she ate with abandon, using her hands without apology. “You’re a good cook,” she said, lifting her goblet in toast. “My mother will love you, for sure.”

Smiling, Teroux acknowledged her compliment.

“I flew over the orchards beyond the hills that keep the salty winds at bay, so that’s roughly forty sals east from here. All along the coast folk spoke of the storm, and I decided to keep inland. As I moved the rudder to shift south, heading home, that’s when it happened.”

“Did you see anything on the ground?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Wasn’t looking at the time … but … seriously, I smelled mud, stinky stuff, stagnant, and I could swear I saw muddy droplets around the basket. And then your island loomed, and I went down.”

“How long from there to here?”

“Minutes, Teroux. That was the weirdest part.” She stared at him. “It sounds like I hallucinated, I know, but that’s what happened. Forty sals in minutes. No balloon flies that fast.”

Leaning back, he fingered his goblet. “If we can find this mud, maybe it will lead to more clues. An isolated incident. Someone working a spell that rebounded. That someone needs to be cautioned. If not,” and Teroux leaned forward to stare intently into her hazel eyes, “we need to know if an outside influence did this.”

“How? Everyone knows Avaelyn is hidden. You said so yourself.”

“Is it?” he whispered. “I wonder. We are in Reaume once more, Naemi, and this is a busy space filled with talents even the Valleur have had to stand back for in our past. What if someone can see us, while we remain blind?”

AVAELYN

Lore of Arcana: NFT Book

As a writer, someone who strings tens of thousands of words together to create a story, funnily enough, it is difficult to put words into a decent sequence to showcase my absolute excitement about what I’m going to tell you now. Not so odd, I think, because usually a writer delves the characters’ and their foibles and feelings, and therefore our personal traits are never enough fodder for putting the pen to paper, whether on actual paper or otherwise. So, bear with me now …

Back in April, via Books Go Social, an opportunity arose to join the first ever NFTs for books, and I jumped in! So did many other authors, and the end result is that NFT books are now available. The press release from BGS explains it better (the post after this one), but essentially, in the event you don’t know what an NFT is, it’s a non fungible token found on the Ethereum blockchain, and each token is unique, a collectors item, and digital books have now joined. However, you don’t have to have a cryptocurrency wallet to buy these tokens, and that means our special editions are accessible to everyone.

Before I bore you with the nitty-gritty of the how, let me tell you why I jumped in wholeheartedly. Not only is it a 21st Century way of doing things, but readers can enjoy the offering and can then either choose to keep it as a collector’s item or resell it. This gifts the reader options, and authors benefit also, receiving a percentage of each resale as well. Of course, the overriding reason for me is the means to reach readers in an entirely different way!

I am selling a unique version of my LORE OF ARCANA as an NFT. New cover, new dragon icon, an illustration of the Maze sacred site, and more found nowhere else! It’s not just a book anymore, it’s an adventure. Find out how and why I started writing my LORE in a special PDF, the truth I’ve hinted at and skirted around but never quite told in full. I am investing in me, and you will invest in a special edition! So pop into:

https://booksgosocial.com/lore-of-arcana-special-edition-nft/

SUPER EXCITED!

Tree is Letter

This image has been on my computer for a long time. I don’t know who to attribute for it, but this is a favourite. In fact, I have a print on my wall of it because, for me, this tells a story, an epic about time and tenacity, about light and love, and that, in a nutshell, is what my LORE is about. So, tree is letter: do you see it, too?

Time tells the true tale

Reader and friend, I’ve been meaning to write this for a while and yet, as my family says, I’m to humble to toot my own horn and therefore I remain silent. I’m talking about a story spanning eons and realms, referring to my LORE Series, a 12-volume epic journey. It is a journey, and if you prefer to walk the path less travelled, then welcome! The time has come to summon you near, to whisper in your ear of how much you will discover. Come with me to other worlds …

On my various blogs and pages I have spoken of the characters, artefacts, and magical tools, as well as prophecies and more to intrigue you into starting this absorbing journey, but I held back on other perceptions and maybe denied you entry into places and times beyond imagination. Truth is, I have wished for and still want you to be amazed without my prompting!

Is it not true that we all open our eyes to our greater purpose at some point in our lives? This has been my purpose, to connect with the spirit within, via my LORE. I feel that I offer an awakening experience to my readers. Come with me as we travel from thrones to forest clearings. Journey through the deep places to a city of stone in a forbidden place, as well as hunt for the ultimate clock.

Stating in one sentence what the Lore Series is about, is challenging. What to highlight? Dreams? Reincarnation? Myths? Shadowy spheres of influence? Symbology? Noble purpose? I weave fact and fantasy into a gigantic tapestry, with all these facets and more threaded in, but paramount is Time. I promise that you will ask the right questions having travelled Time with me.

And then there is the Valla family. This is a generational saga and Torrullin Valla strides through all of it. He is a walker through realms forgotten, obscure, and heartbreakingly familiar. He seeks sacred space, which is about sanctuary and truth. Sacred space, time, and family, twist together until they are indivisible.

Therefore, Time tells the true tale encapsulates the whole, for this journey is a mission and will ask of you also your time as you travel through time itself. I challenge you to embark!

Come with me now; our time has come.

Trawling the ‘net

You know how it is. You trawl the ‘net looking for an answer or an explanation, maybe an image or perhaps music, and before you know it, it’s ages later and you’ve entered the rabbit hole of interesting and intriguing stuff. Yeah, you’re not alone! One of my forays netted me the following images (they are free to use) and I thought I’d share because each yells some of the story of the Lore Series. Seems many of us are on the same wavelength! Find more from Sacha Stone here

What lies below: Sanctum

sanctum

As for What lies below: Arcana and What lies below: Reaume, Lore of Sanctum has more to it than meets the eye (or what the covers and titles reveal!). Yes, The Nemesis Blade is certainly about a special sword named as Nemesis (Elianas in Valleur, and if you’ve read the lore to this point, you will know how important Elianas is), while The Echolone Mine definitely deals with the ramifications of a particular mine on the world known as Echolone. The Nowhere Sphere is exactly what it says – a place that is nowhere, where everything is possible – and The Master Mechanism reveals there is a master clock keeping time for the inhabitants of the Lore universe.

There is more, as the image above tells:

  1. Nemesis is also about ultimate change, the kind as intense as a lightning strike
  2. a mine may have more than gold in it, and one must connect those golden dots to discover the secret
  3. everything is possible in Nowhere, even creatures of myth
  4. a master clock must be old, considering how ancient time is, but is it about a device counting the hours, round and around?

What lies below: Arcana

arcana

The four underlying themes of the four Lore of Arcana books are showcased in this one image. Yes, The Infinity Mantle is about the witch Infinity and Rayne of the Mantle, and The Kinfire Tree is about bloodlines, while The Drowned Throne is about the golden seat of the Valleur suffering deluge and The Dragon Circle, indeed, follows a dragon legend or two, but there is more.

  1. The Great Forest: a band of trees serving to divide north from south, becoming in the process something to be avoided, something evil. Yes, it offers succour, and protects the Well of Crystal Sound.
  2. The ruins of sacred sites: unexplained ruins populate Valaris, until they are uncloaked to reveal something extraordinary.
  3. Fire: great flames and ash is unleashed on Valaris for the first time since before the people arrived, and the result is catastrophic.
  4. Ice: after epic fire, of course, come winter, but this cold season will not be kind.