Sneak Peek

Don't Interrupt a Sorcerer

Concentration is key for Sorcerers - if they are interrupted, pray to the gods you weren't the one to do so, or you may well have blood on your hands. Here we see Kallizar attending to the severely wounded villagers in the far north of Fyan, victims of a cruel pirate raid. Kallizar wished yet again that she could use her magic to heal another, but she was limited by the same thing that allowed people’s bodies to heal themselves. Her magic was foreign to them, and they fought it off. Only the Prophets could truly heal, using the gods’ powers directly. Even with all her strength, it was not enough to keep the spell up for very long. After only a few minutes, she was forced to stop. She was beginning to sweat, and her hands shook when she removed them. So did her legs when she attempted to stand.

“Water, please,” she said, kneeling quickly. When she had downed what was brought, she moved on to the next victim, this one the woman with the missing eye.

She had barely begun when she felt heat rising against her chest. Confused, she hesitated. In that moment, the spell faltered, snapping back on her with a vengeance. Kallizar jerked her hands away as pain shot up her neck, searing hot. She reeled backwards and landed heavily on her back.

Mai rushed to her side. “What happened?” she asked urgently.

Kallizar reached for the emerald necklace, belatedly realizing what had happened. As she had suspected, it was still warm to the touch – the king had called. However, when she attempted to call the wind to respond, she found herself too weak even for that. As she held the gem, it flared again.

“Oh, gods, what happened to you?”

The shock and concern in Mai’s voice cut through the pain Kallizar was feeling in her neck. “I was interrupted,” she explained. Her voice sounded oddly distant to her ears. “I got surprised and I lost my balance.”

Mai was shaking her head. “No, not that,” she said. “Your neck.” The confusion was evident in her eyes.

Kallizar was having trouble concentrating – the pain in her neck was terrible, a much different kind of fire than the feel of magic in her blood. “I… what?”

“Mai, look!” One of the other relief workers, a man, was staring at the woman in the bed. When Mai saw her, she stared, as well.

Kallizar’s heart sped up with worry. “I… what done?” she asked. Somehow, the words didn’t seem to be making as much sense as they should have been. The pain was growing, across her shoulder, down her back, and up her jaw and cheek.

Mai looked back at Kallizar. Panic blossomed across her features. “Naloi, help me,” she ordered the man. “She’s getting worse.”

Kallizar’s vision wavered; one of her eyes seemed unwilling to open. “Died?” she asked despairingly, gesturing with weak arms toward the bedridden woman.

Mai smiled carefully. “No, Sorcerer,” she assured her. “She will be more than fine.” Her smile died as worry consumed it. “Sorcerer?”

Kallizar vaguely felt herself lifted from the ground. Her skin throbbed and burned, making her recoil from the touch. Someone laid a cool cloth across her face; Kallizar realized she was lying down again. She heard Mai’s voice, low and frightened. “Naloi, go. She’s got a horse at the edge of the city. The prince is with his men at No’om. Tell him to hurry…”

Kallizar: Glimpse of the Future

No spoilers here, other than Kallizar is the main character for all three books (which you likely already knew). Since this piece is actually significantly longer and more in depth, when I decided to post it I edited out all the spoiler-y parts from Book 2 for you. :)  

Kallizar has grown drastically throughout her nearly two centuries of life. She has  reached the point where it takes a lot to make her frightened, and she has a will that is not easily broken. Instead, she is willing to do whatever it takes to survive, and to protect those who have put their trust and their lives in her hands. More than ever, Kallizar lives for the moment, since the past is filled with bitter memories and the future is frightening because she will outlive her friends. However, the past still leaves scars that Kallizar cannot ignore, and she has had to face the consequences of them on more than one occasion.

Overall, Kallizar is an aggressive person. She takes things into her own hands whenever possible and doesn’t back down from a fight. She is hot-tempered and rash but can quickly calculate the best plan of attack based on her long life’s experiences. She has no talent for swords whatsoever but is quite capable with her staff… not to mention the vast array of spells at her command. She is extremely smart and witty, and loves to tease people. She is also very opinionated but will sometimes admit when she is wrong.

In its natural state, Kallizar’s magic presents as red lightning and she has used it for a huge variety of spells, ranging from simple summoning to complex warping of space and time to travel great distances in seconds. Some things she cannot do, however, include teleportation and healing (her magic is a foreign thing to other bodies and thus they fight against it). Any spell she casts uses up some of her strength, so she cannot use many powerful spells at one time or she will become unconscious (or die, if the spell’s pressure is great enough).

Kallizar’s favorite color is red, and she loves storms and dark forests and the sea. She is very empathetic towards slaves and the mistreated because of her own past. She hates commands and manipulation, and is irritated by foolishness and weakness (especially her own).

Kallizar does not hold to religion. Although she will readily acknowledge the existence of the Moon Gods, she does not attend service, nor does she hold any kind of faith in the gods themselves – although she does admit the power of the Prophets, especially when it comes to healing.

Kallizar speaks Fyanish and Vaerish, and her motto would be, “Knowledge is not power but rather fuels power, and those with both knowledge and power will rule their world.”

Why Are the Flames Immortal?

Once, in a time before, there lived a man with fire in the blood. And when his time had come, that fire turned to stardust and fell throughout the earth. These flames buried themselves deep within the humans, sinking down and blending into their very souls. So well-hidden were they that the humans barely knew of their existence... until they felt the heat in their children's children's blood. A rare thing, for one to be born who could feel the strength of these flames burning in their own blood. But once, twice, in a family strong with these flames, would come one who could go beyond simply feeling the heat. Every once in a great many times, one would be born who could harness that power. And thus magic, the immortal flames, live on in the blood of the Sorcerers.

ABCs from EUD

No plot spoilers, just a few names that might not have been mentioned yet. Enjoy! A is for the After - the place all souls must go at the moment of death.

B is for Blood - it's important in more ways than one.

C is for Cade - Kallizar's loyal servant and friend.

D is for D'arrynt - Kallizar's home town.

E is for Enladi - the ocean that separates Fyan and Varaeti from the next closest countries of Fyan and Patal. And E is for Even unto Death, the first book in the trilogy.

F is for Fyan - Kallizar's home country and the setting for most of EUD.

G is for Gharot - the Patalian emissary.

H is for Hirom - son of King Fawlen and Queen Seriah, and the Crown Prince of Fyan.

I is for Itamn - a village in the northernmost region of Fyan.

J is for Jarrin - younger brother of Li'ra and the youngest of Kallizar's servants.

K is for Kallizar - the Honored Sorcerer of Fyan, an eccentric and honorable woman and the star of the Immortal Flames.

L is for Lubek - the huge country to the northeast that is trying to acquire a Sorcerer from Fyan for themselves.

M is for Mahliz - the Court Sorcerer of Fyan and a powerfully loyal man. And M is for Mikael, Commander General of the Fyanish military and Prince of Fyan.

N is for No'om - another of the tiny villages up north in Fyan.

O is for Olimon - a small town about a day's ride from Xuun, with very good house wine.

P is for Pirate - Pirates are common in the Fisian Sea, living in the island cities known collectively as the Free Ports.

Q is for Queen - The rules of Fyan dictate that there must always be a ruler from the royal bloodline, but whether that is the king or queen is irrelevant. Daughters, nieces, and sometimes sisters have been named Crown Princess and have inherited the rights of Queendom upon the old monarch's death.

R is for Rosa - the wife of Mikael and one-time friend of Kallizar. She is the only person to live on the South Wing of the Palace (with the royalty) without being a member of the High Court.

S is for Seriah - current queen of Fyan runs much of the less-glamorous aspects of maintaining a country because she has a good head for the complex paperwork.

T is for Tan'jeht - a poison deadly to Sorcerers because of its magic-destroying attributes.

U is for Uther - a friend of Kallizar's in Varaeti.

V is for Varaeti - the country across the Fisian Sea from Fyan. Once connected as a single island, the now two separate island nations have gone from friends and allies to enemies barely holding on to a dying cease fire.

W is for Worship - Worship is an essential part of life. The Prophets of Ri'hannon and Lillith are well-respected and protected in Fyan, and they can hear the voices of the gods and use boons from the gods to do miraculous things that even magic cannot replicate.

X is for Xuun - the capital of Fyan and the location of the Palace, as well as the national trading headquarters.

Y is for Year - at the beginning of EUD, the year is 1078 A.R. Kallizar is 90 years old.

Z is for Zahn - High Prophet Zahn is the head of a temple in Xuun that is dedicated to both gods. He is a quiet and devout man who will not hesitate to help someone - regardless of that person's worldly affiliations.

Country Stats: Fyan

Stats and facts about Fyan, Kallizar's birthplace and the main country/setting in EUD. Full Name: Fyan

Flag: foreground - black image of a merchant trade ship accompanied by a large sea serpent (called a Doni'i); background - forest green, solid color

Location: East of Varaeti, separated by the Fisian Sea. An island nation that has the Fisian Sea on its western coastline and the Enladi Ocean on its remaining sides.

Capital: Xuun

Largest City (per capita): Xuun

Official Language: Fyanish

Government: Monarchy

Current Monarch: King Fawlen (son of the previous monarch) and wife Queen Seriah. Heir is Crown Prince Hirom.

Rules for Succession of Throne: Current monarch chooses an heir, typically a son or daughter, although nieces, nephews, or other family members have been named in the past.

Origin: Hundreds of years ago, the island nations of Fyan and Varaeti existed as one larger island nation (name lost). After a magical explosion forced the two sides of the island apart and caused the surrounding Enladi Ocean to come rushing in (creating the Fisian Sea), the now separate islands became the independent nations of Fyan and Varaeti.

Currency: Coin-based  economy. Unit of currency - Jii (singular), Jii'n (plural).

Calendar: Months based on the lunar cycles of the two moons. Years based on the number of years after the Rift (the explosion that rendered Varaeti and Fyan two separate island nations).  Commonly abbreviated AR.

Land Area: Rough approximation puts the square mileage at 306,000.

Total Population: Unknown. No formal census has ever been conducted. Rough estimates put the count at around 4 million.

Religion: Nearly all the population engages in worship of the Moon gods- Lillith, god of Wrath, and Ri'hannon, god of Mercy. Prophets of these gods are given high standing in the country, and people who denounce the gods and worship are often dishonored and outcast from society.

 

Have other questions about Fyan? Post them in the comments and let me know!

Trivia Answers

If you want to try to fill this out before reading the answers, Fun Facts: Trivia Style! has questions only. 

Choose from the following characters featured in Fawlen, Seriah, Hirom, Mikael, Rosa, Mahliz, Kallizar, Cade, Li'ra, Jarrin

1. Kallizar, Fawlen, and Mikael were known as the Terrible Trio in their younger days because of their constant pranks.

2. Hirom thinks of Kallizar as a best friend, but idolizes Fawlen.

3. Kallizar and Mikael are excellent dancers and got most of their practice atop tavern tables.

4. Mikael has taught several people swordsmanship. Hirom is the best pupil, and Kallizar is the worst.

5. Mahliz' childhood dream was to become a member of the King's Guard.

6. Jarrin's secret wish is to visit Patal.

7. Li'ra's favorite pastime is gardening.

8. Rosa lives in the Palace but is not a member of the High Court.

9. Only Fawlen is bilingual, knowing Fyanish and Vaerish.

10. Hirom has never been out of Xuun.

11. Fawlen learned one of Kallizar's secrets by accident and is quite shocked by it.

12. Mahliz has set fire to multiple streets, fallen in love at least twice, survived a shipwreck, and has become the stuff of legend.

13. Kallizar has done all the same things as #12, except for the shipwreck.

14. Mahliz and Kallizar both thrive off attention - just not each other's.

15. Cade's math skills are as good as Seriah's, despite not having any formal training.

16. Of the above people, only Hirom, Kallizar, and Cade are the only child of their parents.

17. An injury put an end to Seriah's dreams of a large family.

18. Li'ra and Mikael both have a fierce desire to protect, especially their younger siblings.

19. Rosa and Kallizar used to be quite close, but have drifted apart over the years.

20. Kallizar's two favorite places are in the deep woods and on the open sea.

Fun Facts: Trivia Style!

How well do you know the characters of Even Unto Death? See if you can figure out which statement goes with which character! Post your guesses in the comments and look for answers in an upcoming post!

Choose from the following: Fawlen, Seriah, Hirom, Mikael, Rosa, Mahliz, Kallizar, Cade, Li'ra, Jarrin

1. _____, _____, and _____ were known as the Terrible Trio in their younger days because of their constant pranks.

2. _____ thinks of _____ as a best friend, but idolizes _____.

3. _____ and _____ are excellent dancers and got most of their practice atop tavern tables.

4. _____ has taught several people swordsmanship. _____ is the best pupil, and _____ is the worst.

5. _____'s childhood dream was to become a member of the King's Guard.

6. _____'s secret wish is to visit Patal.

7. _____'s favorite pastime is gardening.

8. _____ lives in the Palace but is not a member of the High Court.

9. Only _____ is bilingual, knowing Fyanish and Vaerish.

10. _____ has never been out of Xuun.

11. _____ learned one of _____'s secrets by accident and is quite shocked by it.

12. _____ has set fire to multiple streets, fallen in love at least twice, survived a shipwreck, and has become the stuff of legend.

13. _____ has done all the same things as #12, except for the shipwreck.

14. _____ and _____ both thrive off attention - just not each other's.

15. _____'s math skills are as good as _____'s, despite not having any formal training.

16. Of the above people, only _____, _____, and _____ are the only child of their parents.

17. An injury put an end to _____'s dreams of a large family.

18. _____ and _____ both have a fierce desire to protect, especially their younger siblings.

19. _____ and _____ used to be quite close, but have drifted apart over the years.

20. _____'s two favorite places are in the deep woods and on the open sea.

Reason for Delay: Murder in Mesino!

After nearly two weeks of silence, local city guards and investigators have finally disclosed the reason for all the secrecy surrounding the city of Mesino, Fyan: Murder. "We wanted to keep it quiet so there would not be a riot," says local guard Sergeant Hannoth. "There were too many details we hadn't - still haven't - figured out."

Sergeant Hannoth went on to say that the guards pulled in all investigative students and writers right away to help examine the scene. It seems that there has been no luck determining the culprit behind this heinous act, and that the only person currently connected to the scene is the victim: a long-time Mesino resident, Tyron, son of Val and Irine.

The last person to see Tyron alive was his friend Amari, daughter of Garon and Pira'a. The two of them were at Takik's Tavern to have a drink to the health of the Honored Sorcerer Kallizar in honor of her birthday. Amari claims she and Tyron left the tavern together and then went their separate ways home. Tyron never acted oddly or gave any indication that he was being followed or threatened. "He was hoping the Honored Sorcerer might pay a visit to Mesino soon and he hadn't seen her in a long while," Amari told the Sergeant.

After a long discussion (including the fact that the people of Mesino, and all of Fyan, deserve to know the reason behind the sudden silence in the writing coverage of world events) we here at the University of Exploration and Investigation have managed to gain a copy of the events that happened just prior to Tyron's death. We present it to you so that you may know the facts, and remind everyone that the criminal is still at large. Be careful and take no risks. If you suspect anything or have any insight, you are urged to talk to your local city guard at once.

 

***

Tyron drummed his fingers on the tabletop idly. “Guessing she’s not coming back anytime soon after all,” he said.

His friend, Amari, laughed. “Who, the barmaid? We just sent her off. ‘Course she won’t come ‘round again for a bit.”

The man flicked his fingers at her. “No, not her,” he said impatiently. “The Honored Sorcerer. Same as what I was just talking about.”

Amari snorted. “What? Why in the Gods’ names would she come back to a two-bit tavern like this one? I think you’ve had enough of that.” She reached for her friend’s mug.

Tyron slid his drink out of her reach. “Hey now,” he protested, “this isn’t the drink talking. I’m thinking you’ve had enough, if you can’t even remember our Sorcerer.”

Amari took a swallow of her own ale. “What’s to remember?” she asked, not unpleasantly. “That Sorcerer hasn’t been to Mesino since I can remember.”

Tyron sighed. “Ah, right, I forget you’re that much younger sometimes. But you know the stories! Kallizar, the Honored Sorcerer – the pride and joy of Mesino. She lived here until the late King Tijak called her to Xuun.”

“And that was forever ago, and she hasn’t been back since.” Amari sideswiped the conversation. “Bet she’s never looked back.”

Tyron almost looked hurt. “Mesino is her home,” he stated. “Kallizar may not have been able to come back yet, but she will. She still sends letters to the families what helped raise her, years and years ago, you know.”

“Really?” Amari’s eyes showed something, but whether it was interest or disbelief, Tyron couldn’t tell. “I thought that was decades ago.”

Tyron nodded. “It was – although only a few since she left for the Palace.”

Amari couldn’t resist. “So, how do you know she still keeps in touch? I don’t suppose you have one of those letters.”

Tyron laughed. “No. My family was down the street from her place, though. My parents got to know her pretty good. But Jeshin here’s got one of the letters.”

“Jeshin? Isn’t his family all firefighters?” Amari asked.

“Yes indeed. Important thing to have nearby an untrained Sorcerer with uncontrolled magic. Jeshin’s family put out more than a few accidental fires our Sorcerer set.” He chuckled.

Amari gave up on the indifference. “I wish I could have met her.”

Tyron punched her lightly in the arm. “She’s not dead, fool,” he reminded the girl, “just busy at the High Court. In fact, I was talking about her because her birthday’s coming up tomorrow. She’ll come ‘round when she can, I’m sure. She always said she loved Mesino.”

Amari smiled and raised her mug. “To Kallizar, our Honored Sorcerer, then,” she said.

Tyron grinned. “I’ll drink to that.”

***

Excerpt from EUD: Medallion of Memories

Kallizar prepares for Fawlen's coronation. She puts on the final touch and remembers when she first gained her title of Honored Sorcerer.  

There was a large wooden box sitting on her desk. With careful hands, she opened it and pulled out the treasure she prized more than anything but her staff: a silver medallion, roughly the size of her palm, engraved with the symbol of Fyan and holding a ruby in the center of the disc. On the back, etched into the metal were the words Kallizar, Honored Sorcerer of Fyan. It had been a gift to her from King Tijak himself, when he had bestowed upon her the title of Honored Sorcerer. Slowly, Kallizar hung the fine silver chain around her neck, watching the ruby catch the sunlight and throw it back into the room. At the time, she had questioned the king: why a ruby? Why not an emerald, the color of Fyan? King Tijak’s answer had been simple. Fyan was the emerald, steadfast and unchanging, but she was the ruby, fiery and powerful. This was not merely the symbol of an Honored Sorcerer of Fyan, it was the symbol of Kallizar, the Honored Sorcerer.

Now, Kallizar appreciated the difference. She was not bound to Fyan in exchange for her position. She had pledged her loyalty and respect to her country and her king, and in return she had been granted a place on the High Court and the freedom to live wherever her long life would lead her.

Right now, that was at the side of the newest king of Fyan. Kallizar hastily dashed for the stairs. No more time for reminiscing; she had a coronation to attend.

Excerpt from EUD - A Visit to Varaeti!

Kallizar takes her servant Cade on a trip to Varaeti. They arrive in a small city called Montega, a place known to be welcoming to outcasts, runaways, and foreigners. Mia'a, a woman in her forties, has them stay in her tavern/inn for the night. Mia'a is excited to have a Fyanish visitor and glad at the chance to chat, even though her Fyanish is a bit broken.

***

The night wore on, but Kallizar had no desire to retire. Mia’a kept her engaged in conversation, talking about everything from the town to her own life to the rest of the country to the looming threat of war with Fyan – and what Kallizar and the Fyanish thought of it – and anything else she could think of. She told Kallizar that she had learned her Fyanish from nearly six years of sailing on a merchant trader ship called the Goldensail,  of which she had been the first mate. She had decided to retire and move inland when she met the man who would later become her husband, much to the merchant House’s dismay. She and her husband settled in a small town not far from the coast. He worked as a blacksmith for several years, until one day the smithy caught fire and he was killed. After that, Mia’a moved south and eventually found Montega. She had never heard of the town before but she did not want to move anymore. She was tired and wanted to settle down again. She saw a great opportunity to open a tavern here, since the only other meeting place was a run-down inn that looked dirtier than the earth on which it sat. It was not until after she had become a success and had been living here for some time that she found out about Montega’s somewhat “outcast” reputation amongst most of the rest of the Vaerish. By then, however, she did not care. She was at home here, and she never had to worry about her safety. Those who came to Montega all were looking for the same thing, really: acceptance and protection.

“You are good for to stay here with me,” Mia’a offered. “I have one room after my room. Your Cade, he is good to stay, too.”

“Thank you, Mia’a. That is very kind of you,” Kallizar said. “But unless you accept Fyanish money, I cannot pay you.”

Mia’a flapped her hand dismissively. “I do not need money,” she said. “Be a help in the tavern, maybe, and say me one thing.” She leaned in very close to Kallizar’s ear and whispered, “You are a Sorcerer, yes?”

Kallizar stiffened.

“It is good,” Mia’a assured her. “I see your fire eyes, your hands ready, and I think of Sorcerer on the Goldensail with me.”

Very slowly, Kallizar nodded. “You are right,” she said in a barely audible voice.

Mia’a nodded. “You must keep this not said,” she told her seriously. “Montega is good but Varaeti is wanting for to send all Sorcerers to Tolenti for approve by Queen Ímona. She no approve Sorcerer from Fyan, maybe kill you.” She placed a hand over one of Kallizar’s. “Say you understand me?”

Kallizar nodded. “I will not tell anyone,” she promised. “I do not want to make trouble, and I certainly do not want to be killed.”

Mia’a smiled with relief and backed up again. “Thank you, Kallizar. You are good friend, and I do not want you to disappear.” She reached for Kallizar’s glass. “Again a drink?”

“That would be wonderful,” Kallizar said, pushing the glass into the woman’s outstretched hand.

***

Excerpt from EUD, Chapter 1!

This is a small excerpt from the rough draft of book 1: Even Unto Death, chapter 1. Let me know what you think! I'm excited to be sharing this with you all! The story so far: Kallizar has arrived at the Palace to celebrate birthdays (Prince Hirom's and her own) with the royal family and the Court Sorcerer Mahliz. During the dinner, Hirom asks Kallizar to tell him more about herself. She dodges the question by exchanging birthday presents instead.

Hirom had fallen asleep about an hour after the dinner had finished. Kallizar carried the boy back to his rooms, the little green dragon gliding along beside them.

Gently, she laid him on the bed and pulled the blanket up over his sleeping form. The dragon fluttered down beside him and flapped its wings once before curling up beside the boy.

Kallizar sat on the edge of the bed, thinking. Her eyes watched the boy’s chest rise and fall in the calm motions of sleep, but her mind was far from Xuun. She closed her eyes and heard the quiet sounds of the Prince’s breathing instead as the waves of the tide, made distant by time and memories.

“I was born in a little town called D’arrynt,” she said softly. “My father was a carpenter and my mother was a weaver. I spent most of my time in my father’s shop… although I’m pretty sure the sawdust had it out for me.”

Bright sun in a hot workshop. The scritch-scratch sound of Father’s tools on wood. Dust dancing in the breezes, tickling my nose. A sneeze violent enough to throw me off my chair. My head hits the floor and the tears come. A shadow passes over me and my father’s hands lift me up. Soothing murmurs as he brushes me clean and wipes my face dry.

 

The sound of screams wakes me in the night. Shuddering ground makes me pull my legs up and wrap my arms around them, hugging them to my chest. Loud crashes and bright flashes, fire and smoke and terror. Laughing growls from coarse sailors as they move through the town. More screams, this time from voices I know. Mother! Father! Gone… Creaking wood above me and I dodge before the ignited beam hits my bed. A tumbling mess of arms and legs rushing out the door into the night. Tears streaming – I’m alone now.

No, not alone. One hand across my mouth, another over my eyes. Rough voices that don’t belong to the pirates. A second pair of hands grabs my wrists and binds them tightly. Cloth across my mouth as the hand is removed. Vision returns and I can see eyes above me even in the darkness. Red. The red-eyed demon.

 ***

Kallizar was sweating. Mentally, she berated herself for unlocking such old memories. They had no business in the present. But if the old fears were still hiding behind those doors, then there was no way she could explain to the young Prince what had happened. Too many secrets, she thought. I’m sorry, Hirom.

Leaning over, she kissed the sleeping Prince on the forehead before softly exiting the room.

Q&A With Mikael, Commander General

Commander General of the Fyanish military, Mikael, was kind enough to sit down for an interview. Realmwalker: Hello, Mikael! Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today.

Mikael: No problem - I'm happy to help. So, what did you want to know?

R: I've heard a lot of things about your sword. Is it really the symbol of the Commander General?

M: Not only that. This sword was commissioned for my by my father when I first became the Commander General, so it means a great deal to me. The green steel was imported from Patal, and here near the hilt you can see the engraving: "Mikael, Prince of Fyan - Commander General". The hilt has emeralds, which are the official gemstone of Fyan.

R: Amazing! Do any other ranked military members have specially-crafted swords?

M: A few of my Majors have weapons that are special-ordered. Major Brann has an axe made by one of the southern merchant Houses, and Major Nina has a sword she ordered from a Sorcerer she knows back in her hometown. Mostly, all the soldiers keep the standard-issue weapons, though.

R: How many people currently serve in the Fyanish military?

M: The captains - the leaders of individual squads - would know exact numbers better than I, but overall about 1/10 of Fyan's population is involved in the military at any given time.

R: Do you have many Sorcerers in active duty?

M: Oh yes. Lots of people assume that because Sorcerers use magic, they're useless with a weapon. Take Kallizar for example. (laughs) She's good with her staff, or a knife, but give her a sword... no threat there. But other Sorcerers have other skills - exactly like you'd expect from a large group of people. Mahliz is a good example of a Sorcerer with excellent skills in weaponry. He has swordsmanship skills that I would love to have in the military - but, he's the Court Sorcerer and is advisor to my brother, so I'm not about to steal him away. Most of the Sorcerers in the military are either stationed at one of our coastal forts to provide magic support to the other troops, or else a member of the naval forces where they can help give our ships an edge against the enemy's. Every Sorcerer in the military has gone through exactly the same training as everyone else to build up physical strength and weapon skills, and then they also have to pass a test to demonstrate their magical strength. That's tested by a group of at least five captain-level or higher soldiers who are also Sorcerers who can accurately assess the candidate's magical strength.

R: You don't have any influence on whether a Sorcerer joins the military, then?

M: I'm not a Sorcerer. Beyond knowing that magic is tied to blood, I don't have much knowledge of it. I'd much rather let the experts judge whether a candidate is likely to succeed in the military or bring half of the troop crashing down.

R: Now I have a few questions about the High Court...

M: Fire away.

R: Can you give me your opinion on the members of the High Court? What are they like when they aren't in the public view?

M: We're all a bunch of uptight obsessivists who work without sleep. (laughs) Well, Fawlen works a lot, but he's the King so that shouldn't be surprising. Seriah does a lot of work too, but I don't advise her very often, unless the city soldiers need to be called in to settle a House dispute. They're both pretty relaxed and fun, but I'm not sure I can be too objective when it comes to talking about my little brother and his wife. I don't see Mahliz very much, either. My guess would be he's either working some magic-study-something or else tormenting Kallizar a bit. (laughs) Kallizar is... a hard-working slacker? She definitely has her own agenda as far as magic research goes, but she's 100% committed to helping Fawlen and Seriah as much as she can. Even though she gets a bit stir-crazy when she's shut up in the Palace for more than a week or so. Well... she's always a bit crazy, but it's good. She keeps things interesting.

R: Anything else you'd like to say?

M: Come visit Xuun! Come join the world's best military! All right, really - if you get the chance, come visit. If you're interested, I'll set up a swordsmanship lesson with you. Or call in one of my captains who has a squad in for some training. Or maybe I'll send a call out to Mahliz and Kallizar and then hide in the hallway with you and watch them bicker. That never gets old.

Does anyone else have questions for Mikael? Who else would you like to see in an interview? The world's wide open, so take your pick - you might even get one of the Gods to chat for a bit.

After a Magic Explosion, Nothing Is Ever Quite the Same

The Rift: the separation of Varaeti and Fyan. The explosion, and the earthquake that followed, sent tremors through the earth that not only reshaped the countries but also much of the orders of the world. The world calendar shifted. Before the Rift, different geographical areas had used their own calendar systems. The explosion of the Rift was so intense that remnants of it could be felt throughout the greater part of the world. The newly formed countries of Varaeti and Fyan used the Rift as a reference point for everything, and the other countries soon adopted this to avoid confusion. The months are still based on the cycles of the moons, but the yearly count reflects the years After the Rift.

The geography of Varaeti and Fyan shifted drastically as well, forcing co-dependence on two countries who would otherwise happily destroy each other.

Varaeti is, overall, a very green country with lots of good farmland and rich forests. The two mountain ranges to the far north and south of the island are relatively small and do not hold any significant natural resources. Smaller farm animals thrive in Varaeti, along with forest wildlife such as deer. There is not enough clear land to successfully raise larger animals, so meats like beef must be imported.

Fyan is much drier. Mostly flatlands, Fyan's domestic-grown food is mostly grazing animals. Fruits, vegetables, and other crops must be imported. The mountains are much taller and more dangerous than their Vaerish counterparts, and are also the source of many different resources including marble and iron. The one forest area, just northeast of Xuun, is dense and lush. The two biggest rivers in Fyan run through this area, making the forest a valuable natural habitat for wildlife. Hunting is strictly prohibited; however, with a royal permit, people may attempt to capture and breed animals to save them from extinction.

Pirate activity has skyrocketed. With the isles scattered throughout the northern Fisian Sea, the pirates now have a safe base for the first time. Since Varaeti and Fyan still trade with each other out of necessity, pirates have plenty of options. Some pirates play the political game, choosing to help one country over another or one merchant House over others - a dangerous game, especially with the Houses. The Houses are what keep trade alive between the two countries- not out of any patriotism, but out of an almost insane sense of competition and House loyalty.

Fact or Myth?

Below are five statements about the world of Immortal Flames. Guess whether they are facts or myths! The answers and some brief tidbits are below each statement in white. Highlight the text to read! 1. The Vaerish crown always passes to the oldest son of the current king.

Myth. It passes to the oldest child, regardless of gender.

2. The average citizen can speak two languages: his native language and a common tongue.

Myth. There is no common tongue. Each of the four major languages - Vaerish, Fyanish, Lubeki and Patalian - are distinct. Also, only those who have regular contact with foreigners - merchants, royalty, emissaries, travelers - are fluent in more than their native languages.

3. Anyone can train to become a Sorcerer.

Myth. Magic lives in a Sorcerer's blood and is present at birth. It does not follow any known genetic traits.

4. Some merchant Houses are allies with the Free Ports.

Fact. Since pirates do not grow their own food, they rely on scavenges from raided ships or (more often) friendly Houses to get fresh food and water. Some Houses even pay pirates to attack rival Houses.

5. There are Sorcerers in all four of the major countries (Varaeti, Fyan, Lubek, and Patal).

Myth. While a Sorcerer may be born regardless of genetic heritage, no one from either Lubek or Patal has been born with magic for hundreds of years. If the High Counts ( the Lubeki and Patalian rulers) know the reason for this mystery, they aren't telling...

Fun Facts: People

A gathering of random, interesting facts about some of the people in the world. Today's feature is the Fyanish royalty.   Did you know...

Mahliz is the oldest known Sorcerer at over 400 years old. He hates it when people mispronounce his name (it's Mah-LEASE, not "malice"). He is over seven feet tall and is a skilled swordsman, and had planned to join the King's Guard until being named Court Sorcerer by one of the Queens of Fyan (Fawlen's great-great-grandmother). Like Mikael, Mahliz is a fierce warrior and protector, and takes his solemn promise to serve the Crown very seriously.

Kallizar was given the title of Honored Sorcerer, a title so rare that its existence had been forgotten. Her favorite colors are red and black, with dark blue close behind. She is the daughter of a carpenter and a weaver. Kallizar considers Xuun her home, although she is often traveling to the many cities and towns scattered throughout Fyan. She enjoys drinking wine and dancing (often in the same evening) and holds the title of Master of the Ale in several taverns since magic in the blood drastically reduces the effects of alcohol. Kallizar's other side she keeps safely tucked away from the world. This is the side of quiet contemplation, mental puzzling, and bubbling curiosity that fuels her ever-growing collection of spells she has constructed.

Tijak was the king who gave Kallizar her title. Father of Mikael and Fawlen, Tijak was a kind but strict man who ensured the education of his sons and paid attention to their interests. When he was able, Tijak would join his sons in their sparring practice, or their studies of Fyanish politics and law. There he was able to both spend time with his sons and gauge their potential. It was this that led Tijak to name Fawlen the Crown Prince and let Mikael continue along the path to military greatness. His favorite food was bread dipped in honey. He died at the age of 72.

Zashai was Tijak's wife. She married into the royal family from one of the highest-ranking noble families in Fyan. Zashai was a proud woman who always had a solemn, almost cold, look about her. She was a very capable ruler - and a very loving mother. Around her children, in her private life, Zashai was much more warm and friendly. She firmly believed in keeping public and private matters separate. Her sons were very important to her and she was the one who told Tijak that it was Fawlen who would make the better king. She had wanted a daughter as well, hoping to pass the Crown to her, but was proud of Fawlen for his willingness to become the Crown Prince. Zashai was a well-loved queen who died at the age of 51.

Fawlen is the newest King of Fyan. He met his wife Seriah through Kallizar, who arranged to have Seriah visit the Palace. He named his six year old son the next Crown Prince instead of waiting to see if another child would be better suited, because he knows Hirom will be his only child - Seriah cannot bear any more children. If he had not been named heir to the Crown, Fawlen would have joined one of the merchant Houses based in Xuun.

Seriah used to be a member of the House of Ven'oth - a wealthy merchant House based in the southern Fyanish town of Rhaana. She is extremely intelligent and had been in charge of the House's main finance accounts before becoming engaged to Fawlen. As Queen, she primarily helps with domestic disputes and regulates the merchant House trading. Seriah did not think Hirom would survive birth and gives frequent thanks to Ri'hannon (the God of Mercy) for her son's health.

Hirom is rambunctious and smart. He idolizes his father and thinks of Kallizar as his best friend. He is skilled at horseback riding and will often go on afternoon trips with his mother. Hirom has a very curious mind and loves to understand the how and why of things. His favorite subject to study is House politics, and he loves to dance.

Mikael knew from an early age that he did not want to be king. He thought about joining the King's Guard, but during his training grew to like the command positions better. Due to his strength and skill, he rose in the ranks, and his mind for strategy earned him the position of Commander General - with the King's approval, of course. Mikael prefers to fight with the sword, but he is more than capable with a variety of weaponry, including the crossbow, longbow, pike, and axe. He loves his family and misses them whenever he is away. Secretly, he has always wanted a bit of magic, just to understand Kallizar when she talks of it.

Rosa and Mikael have been married for fifteen years. She used to be the Lady of a mid-sized estate in the mid-eastern part of Fyan and originally came to the Palace for a party, at the invitation of Kallizar. She now tutors young nobles in the finer arts - especially Fyanish linguistics and historical documentation. Rosa is charming and kind. However, she harbors an inward dislike for Kallizar, feeling as though she owes the Sorcerer a debt for the invitation that led to her courtship and marriage to Mikael. Rosa's pastime of choice is baking.

Mara is the oldest of Mikael and Rosa's two children. She is twelve years old and is quickly advancing through her swordfighting training, apparently having inherited the skills of her father. Her goal is to join the King's Guard and be assigned to one of the royal family (which would mark her as one of the most experienced swordsmen in all of Fyan). When she's not practicing, Mara enjoys going to the Xuun markets with friends (children of some of the nobles in Xuun).

Garth is ten years old and wants nothing more than to be a scholar. His mother is teaching him some of the finer points to being a recordkeeper. Garth has an excellent memory and is able to remember entire conversations word for word. He will enroll in the School of Records next winter, provided he passes the entrance exam (to which end he has been studying for relentlessly for the past two years). Garth possesses a quiet attitude towards life which both amuses and confounds his father. He was already buried happily in his studies when Hirom grew old enough to want to play, so the two of them have never been close. Garth's favorite book is one written for him by Mahliz in which the broad history of Fyan during the course of Mahliz' lifetime is laid out. Mahliz is Garth's idol.

A Thousand Years Ago - Destruction

(This article refers to a cataclysmic event called the Rift, whereby Varaeti and Fyan became the separate nations they are today. The modern calendar years are counted as B.R. and A.R. for Before the Rift and After the Rift. This year is 988 A.R.)   It's common knowledge that the island nations of Varaeti and Fyan are enemies, with only the Fisian Sea between them keeping full-out war at bay. What's not common knowledge is that this was not always the case. Nearly a thousand years ago, Fyan and Varaeti were one nation, located on a single island continent. But with something so historically important, why does no one know?   The reality is that nearly all the information about this time was lost during the Rift. Even the long-lived Sorcerers have died, taking their knowledge with them to their graves. The oldest living Sorcerer today, the Fyanish Court Sorcerer Mahliz, was born nearly five hundred years after the Rift. However, with time, patience, and a lot of effort, certain historians have been able to piece together most of the events of that resulted in such drastic change...

  Initially, there was one large island in the south of the Enladí Ocean. It was densely populated, with the capital of the country in the northeastern area, near the edge of the northern mountain ridge. Both the original country name and language have been lost - although a very few rare documents have been discovered and preserved. These are likely the remains of various Sorcerers' notes, since no other printing would have survived such a great length of time buried in the earth.
  Most unfortunately, however, the Sorcerer whose notes would have been most helpful and informative eliminated everything he had when he destroyed his study during a failed spell experiment. The actual spell attempted is unknown, but the explosive results wiped out the Sorcerer, his study, the town in which he lived, and indeed created a blast radius so severe that the land itself cracked deeply into the depths of the earth. The resulting earthquakes tore a rift all the way down the middle of the island. The waters of the Enladí rushed in from both north and south, further separating the two sections of land. The epicenter of the explosion filled with water.
  By the time the land finally settled, the western half (what is now Varaeti) and the eastern half (now Fyan) had been pushed several hundred miles apart. What had been the center of the country was now a deep rift, filled with what became known as the Fisian Sea.
  The few isles of land that remained scattered within the Sea were initially still a part of the double-island nation, but pirates laid claim to them before more than a few years had passed. Similarly, while the two islands attempted to remain one nation, a few years proved that the difference in resources (as the Sorcerer's destruction had reshaped the surviving land as well), the distance from each other, and evolving views on how to handle various affairs eventually convinced the two islands to become their own separate nations. Rivalry was quick to follow, and the relationship quickly deteriorated.

Not-So-Focused Introductions from the Crown Prince

(Guest writer today is Prince Hirom, son of Fawlen and Seriah. He's six.) Hi! I guess I'm supposed to talk about something specific, but there's so much to pick from that I couldn't decide! So I think I'll tell you about my family, because they're neat - and if you don't know them, how will you be able to say hi when you come to visit? My father is King Fawlen. He's really smart and a good king. Sometimes he gets upset when things don't go the way they're supposed to, but then he fixes it and it's all better. My mother helps him, too. She's Queen Seriah and she's really pretty. And smart, too. We go riding a lot and play in the gardens. I don't see Father much during the day, but he always comes to say good-night when I go to sleep. And we always go to service together, too. (Note: Hirom is referring to the worship service held in honor of the Gods: Lillith, God of Wrath, and Ri'hannon, God of Mercy.) Mikael is really neat, too. He's Father's brother and the Commander General, and sometimes he teaches me about fighting with swords instead of letting my regular teacher teach me. His sword is amazing - it's made of green steel from Patal and it has a special message engraved on it to say it's Mikael's. He let me hold it once and it was really heavy! I don't think I'll ever be able to use a sword that heavy. The one I use with my regular teacher is wooden most of the time. He says I'm doing pretty good with it, so I might be able to use the steel one more often - but it's still a lot lighter than Mikael's. Mikael's wife's name is Rosa. I don't see her much, but she's nice. I think she works with one of the big schools but I'm not sure. Her son probably knows, but I almost never see him. His name is Garth and he's older than me. His sister Mara is even older - she's training to be a member of the King's Guard, and Mikael even teaches her sometimes, which is really neat. Kallizar is family, too, even though she's not related to us. She was born a long time ago in a tiny little town in the south of Fyan. I wanted to visit it, but she said it got destroyed a long time ago by pirates. But she lives in the Palace now so that makes me happy. She even has the same birthday as me! Although when I turned five, she said she was turning ninety, so she's a lot older than me. But she'll live for a long time because of her magic, so she's not old or anything. She looks the same age as Father, and he's not that old. Mikael is the older brother and he's only in his thirties or something, so he's not even that old, either. My Kalli is just special. I get to call her Kalli, but no one else can. No one else calls her anything but Kallizar, or Honored Sorcerer. Well, Sorcerer Mahliz calls her 'young Sorcerer' which is funny, but I guess everyone is young to him because he's really old. Hundreds of years old, I think. That's a lot. But he's not really family. He lives in the Palace but he's an advisor. He was a lot closer to Grandfather Tijak. He's still pretty neat, though, and really nice to me. And he's really tall! Kalli is tall - really tall - but Mahliz is even a little taller, I think. Most people aren't very tall. Father and Mother and Mikael are the same height as everyone else (except me, but I'm only six!). But they're not little, either. Let's see... if Kalli is just over six feet tall, then most people are probably a few inches shorter than her... so maybe five and a half feet? I'm not sure - I'm not really good with height yet because I'm still short. Kalli says pretty soon I'll start growing more though! I guess that's everyone! Come visit us sometime soon!

In the Service of the Crown

Fyan is an island nation, with the west coast touching the Fisian Sea and the rest of the country surrounded by the Enladí Ocean. Its closest neighbor is Varaeti - and although the two countries have had an uneasy peace for the past several years, the strain of a ceasefire has made tensions run ever higher. Thus, Fyan has continued to train vigilantly to guard against what some feel is an inevitable outbreak of war.
Being a member of the Fyanish military is considered a great honor for a Fyanish citizen. Both men and women are accepted, and may apply themselves to a variety of roles and efforts. For example, the most elite soldiers are known as the King's Guard, and their sole responsibility is to safeguard the royal family (in this case, King Fawlen, Queen Seriah, and Prince Hirom). Other members of the military are stationed at the garrison in Xuun and serve as keepers of the peace, while the rest are stationed at forts and cities across the nation - either to maintain civility and upkeep the law, or to serve as first defense against any invasion force that attempts to access Fyanish soil.
Another branch of the military is the naval forces. These soldiers are stationed on warships which patrol the coastal areas and defend friendly merchant ships, attack pirates and other threats, and keep watch for strange activity near Fyanish territory. Most of these ships are deployed to the Fisian Sea, since both Varaeti and the pirate isles (called the Free Ports) are located here; however, there are always some warships and scouting vessels stationed to the north, where anyone from Lubek, Patal, or their neighbors would sail from.
This strict course of active duty, tight network of patrols and defense, and core pride in service has earned the Fyanish military the reputation as the strongest and most courageous in decades. Even very large countries such as Lubek have not thought about invading Fyan simply because of the strength of the small nation's warriors.
At the top of the military stands one man: Prince Mikael, the Commander General of Fyan. He serves as advisor to the king in all matters militaristic, and has the full power and backing of the Fyanish military at his command. He has sworn to serve both his country and his king. Any who underestimate the power of Fyan's military strength will be sorry, indeed... if they survive to mourn their folly.

Worth Less Than Horses

(Guest writer today is Cade. He is the oldest of Kallizar's three servants, somewhere around twenty-five.) Fyan is an old country. So it makes sense that there are a lot of old things in it: historical buildings, ancient bloodlines, and old laws. Unfortunately, some of these laws, like the law setting up the class system, suck. They date back to a time when the country needed a class order in order to survive - but now they're more tradition than necessity, and a lot of people are suffering for it. I'm a servant. I'm the second-lowest class you can be in Fyan. The only class below me is slave, and there's barely a difference in how the rest of the world looks at us. Technically speaking, servants get paid while slaves don't. But really we all just hope that whoever we're working for will ignore us instead of abuse us. The middle classes are the worst to us, really. They like to make sure we know they rank higher than we do. I've been compared to (and valued less than) horses. About the only thing that is lower in most people's minds is anything from Varaeti, because Fyan has a long-standing hatred with that country and anything associated with it. The higher classes (royalty, low and high nobility, Sorcerers, merchant Houses, and so on) are decent - at least in Xuun (the capital here in Fyan). We servants are non-existent until we make a mistake. Let me tell you... sometimes oblivion is bliss. Kallizar hates the classes. She's ranked among the highest nobility because of her title, and she's been trying to get the law changed since she moved to Xuun (before my time). So far the best she's gotten is a "we'll see" attitude. Still - she treats the three of us much better than custom says is proper. I know she actually cares about us, and she won't let anyone treat us like dirt. I'm not sure exactly why she's so protective and friendly, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't see the other Palace servants and thank the Gods Kallizar supports me. She treats us like family, and that's more than I'd ever get on my own. Yes, she still calls us servants - there isn't another term for someone working under someone else, unless they're an apprentice - but it's not bad, not from her. I don't wish I had been sold to someone harsh enough to kill me anymore. And maybe, if the class system gets changed or revoked, other servants will get more out of life, too. In the meantime... be nice to your servants. We work hard, and it's not our fault we got thrown into the lowest of the low. Thanks.

Characters Revealed! (Whether They Want To Be or Not)

I write my books the long way (is there really a short way to write a novel?) - the first draft is always written by hand, with pen and notebook. There are lots of unintelligible scribblings, crossed-out sections, and notes in the margins. Eventually, in pieces, it gets typed up, either when my characters are rioting (more commonly referred to as "writer's block"), or when my brain is too tired to form coherent sentences anymore.Consequently, it takes a really long time before anyone other than myself gets a chance to meet some of the other people running around inside my head. And I feel that does them some injustice - they show me some pretty fantastic things (and may also drive me a little insane at times...) - so I figure other people should get to meet them/have to suffer too. Some of them might take a while to talk; they're a bit on the shy side. But now they've been warned and won't hide behind the main characters when I drag them out here. They might be kicking and screaming, but you can't have everything. Here's a quick intro for some of the characters in my first book, Even Unto Death (I'm not published yet, but that's the current working title): Kallizar - Honored Sorcerer of Fyan Fawlen - King of Fyan Hirom - Crown Prince of Fyan (Fawlen's son) Mikael - Prince, and Commander General of the Fyanish military (Fawlen's brother) Mahliz - Court Sorcerer of Fyan Cade, Jarrin, and Li'ra - Kallizar's servants Lords Rahn and Gharot - Emissaries from Lubek and Patal, respectively