fun fact

Intermission

I can't believe half of July is gone already! I have been continuing reading towards my goal of 365 books this year, as well as working on some writing projects, but Real Life has been amazingly hectic for the past few weeks. - I went to my first-ever convention: RTX, hosted by RoosterTeeth in Austin, TX. It was amazing and you should check out Realmwalkerwriting.com for more news about that. :)

- My sister is moving to town - more specifically, she is moving into my husband and my spare room. So we've been working out the logistics of that and I am so excited to see her!

- June and July hold a host of birthdays and anniversaries (and weddings) for my family and friends

- Work. Yep, I still have a day job. And there's a big deadline coming up in a few days that's got us all scrambling to make sure things are good to go.

 

I will have my June review up soon. In the meantime, enjoy this intermission filled with some of the things on the internet I find particularly interesting/funny/etc.

Order of the Stick

Looking For Group

xkcd

Goblins

Babble

Rooster Teeth

GoodReads

Kongregate

Obligatory funny cat video, this one by Tastefully Offensive

Other awesome video, this one by Bad Lip-Reading

If you play Xbox games, consider adding me as a friend! My gamertag is TheShadowKnives (shout-out to Akitis, still possibly my most favorite character) Just leave a message that says you saw this post. :)

 

Incidentally, I often find myself with random quotes stuck in my head, and I wonder if anyone else would get the reference if I were able to somehow work them into conversation. Since the answer has pretty much always been no, I thought the next most fun thing would be to start a little trivia at the end of every post. I'll put down a quote, and if you think you know the book it's from, post a comment with your answer. Could also be a fun way to get interested in new-to-you books! I'll post the answer in the following post, along with a new quote. Some will be commonly known, some may be obscure; I promise only that they will be accurate quotes from books I have read. :)

This first one is a childhood favorite of mine: "Home, James!"

Ill Omen

A look back to the coronation of King Fawlen and the beginning of the end of Kallizar's old life.  

 

“And now, we must complete the ceremony for which so many have gathered to see,” Prophet Zahn continued. “You have passed your third and final test; you have shown yourself to be a humble and compassionate man, gentle and wise beyond the boundaries of the royal line.”

Mikael approached both Fawlen and Seriah. “Kneel, my brother,” Mikael said, “that you may be given what is yours.” He drew his sword, the glinting blade catching the sunlight and throwing it across the waiting crowd in green flickers.

Trembling very slightly, Fawlen lowered himself to his knees before his brother.

The edge of Mikael’s sword came down on Fawlen’s left shoulder. “The nation of Fyan cries out for a new king!” His voice was steady but his eyes were bright with emotion. “You have proven yourself, before this country and this court, that you are ready and worthy to answer this call!”

The entire courtyard watched with unblinking eyes, tense with excitement. This was the moment – the new king was about to be crowned!

The members of the court watched wide-eyed as well, but their tension was borne of sudden panic. Instead of lifting his sword and finishing the ceremony, Mikael had pressed down on the blade. It had bitten into Fawlen’s shoulder and a small patch of dark red was blossoming onto Fawlen’s clothes.

Kallizar looked around rapidly, checking the extent of the situation. Hirom had not yet noticed anything amiss, thank the gods. Seriah had – her knuckles were white where she gripped the arms of her chair. But she seemed torn between stopping Mikael by force and staying still so as not to alert the crowd.

For a split second, Kallizar met Mahlíz’ eyes. He looked stunned.

Fawlen looked much the same. Shock was all over his face, and pain beneath that… but whether from his wounded shoulder or from his brother’s actions, Kallizar couldn’t tell.

Kallizar looked to Mikael, her heart trying to beat itself free of her ribcage. What was he doing? Why in Lillith’s name would he attack Fawlen? A sudden, terrible thought entered her mind. Mikael… have you lied all this time?

A sharp, almost electric sensation hit her a second later, and Kallizar realized what must be going on. A quick glance at Mahlíz told her he had figured it out as well. Someone had thrown a spell on Mikael’s sword, and from the look of things, the prince couldn’t do anything to stop it. The muscles in his arm bulged as he strained to lift the blade, and sweat was starting to trickle down his worried face.

Mahlíz’ magic swirled onto the scene, soft blue hues to Kallizar’s vision. It wrapped around the prince’s sword and smothered the offending spell, choking it out until nothing remained.

Mikael must have felt the pressure fading because his face relaxed and he adjusted his grip so the blade would not go flying over his head.

Kallizar scoured the crowd for the guilty Sorcerer, but she could not sense anyone with that magic. Nor did she see anyone who looked particularly guilty, or surprised, or disappointed. The magical signature dissipated as Mahlíz’ magic destroyed the last of the spell, but Kallizar wouldn’t soon forget that feeling. It was all she had to figure out who – and how. Something was off about that signature… it was too scrambled, too confused, to have been natural magic. Someone had been meddling.

That thought made Kallizar extremely uncomfortable. Tainted magic came as the result of dark experiments, indeed.

Kallizar: Fire in the Blood

I've spent a lot of time with Kallizar's story. Submitting it was the scariest and most exciting thing  I have ever done, and I'm happy for the experience. I'm also happy that I was able to take a good long look at my work and decide what would be the best for it. In the end, I decided to cut it down from a trilogy to a stand-alone novel. The vast majority of the book was the script from Book 2, but is now entitled Fire in the Blood. (I'm not going to go back and edit previous posts that refer to the old trilogy setup, but I have changed the categories and tags around a bit to make things easier to find and to reflect the new changes.)

For a while, I thought this would just be a novella-length story about a Sorcerer named Kallizar who worked as the Court Sorcerer for a kingdom and uncovered a plot about one of the nobles trying to take over the throne. As I kept working on it, more and more craziness started popping up with Kallizar's history and suddenly she informed me she had major history with a guy named Tavius - apparently he used to be her student, but when he started messing around with twisted magic Kallizar kicked him out. The entire "noble taking over the throne" arc pretty much disappeared as I let the other characters just kind of take over the story.

I can't remember how it all ended, but I know there were far too many characters and not nearly enough continuity to hold it together as a novel. But I'd written the entire thing, beginning to end, and I'd even had to get out a second notebook. Exciting! I was about to be a sophomore, and I'd actually finished a story I had started.

During the rest of high school I didn't work on Kallizar's story much, but I did bring her to life when I went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. That was a blast. :)

Fast forward a bit to college. I had clips and bits from dozens of characters and stories, but Kallizar was nagging at me. Finally I sat down and re-worked a bunch of her story to get her to shut up, and decided most of what I had written in high school was crap, but there were some really neat ideas that I could branch out with. I grabbed a brand new notebook and started scribbling, and by the time I was ready to graduate, I had the rough manuscripts for two books in a planned trilogy ready to be typed out and edited, and the basic outline for the final book.

Go forward another year or so and I have a day job and almost no time to work on refining my scripts. But eventually I get the first one done and have a friend (another writing geek) read it over. Terrifying. More terrifying because in going through it before I hand it over to her, I keep thinking how unhappy I am with the script. Some things just don't seem to want to fit right. But I suck it up and let her read it anyway. When I get it back, she tells me basically what I already know, which hurts like hell but drops a realization at my feet: I already have a story I'm happy with. The script from Book 2 is rough, sure, but I don't think of it and want to bury it in the sand. It's got strong characters and a much better flow than the first script. And good news - Harper Collins just announced that they are taking unsolicited manuscripts from new authors for the first time in over ten years! It must be time to sit down and make a decision: what do I want from my writing career? Am I going to hang on to old ideas I had just because I put a lot of work into building them, even if I'm not happy with the result? Or am I willing to value that work for what it is (mostly good practice), use it as a reminder that I'm still - and always will be - growing as a writer, and to take the initiative to put my best foot forward?

Clicking that Submit button was terrifying. But I'm glad I had the chance. Having that opportunity, and that deadline, forced me to look at the work I was doing and really turn it into the best story it can be... and if that means cutting it down from a planned three books to one, then great. Maybe I will come back to Kallizar and company with some short stories to fill in the non-essential but fun pieces that are now gone with the death of Book 1. Who knows?

In the meantime, I'm going to keep looking forward and take these moments as opportunities for self-evaluation. I'm excited for all the stories I've yet to tell.

One Step Closer: Submission Complete!

The weeks of disappearance and sleeplessness have paid off: I submitted my manuscript to a publisher today! This is a huge step for me and I am thrilled to be able to share it with so many people who support reading and fantasy fiction writers.

I will find out in a few months whether or not I am accepted. In the meantime, I'll keep right on writing and posting!

 

P.S. Watch for a few more big announcements in the next week or so. Exciting times...!

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.

Opening the Weapons Locker

Finally found something my characters and I agree on: Weapons are cool. Different personalities prefer different weapons, different settings make different weapons available, but overall, it's a fact in my world - weapons are just plain cool. Ohhh... wait... that means I have to write scenes with weapons. I have to have fight scenes, with weapons, written in a way that makes sense and shows a great action sequence. But I've never actually used most weapons before.

Oops.

Guess it's time to learn!

Academically, at least. Here's a good example: Kallizar (when not using her magic) often carries a staff. It's tall and thick, like a good walking stick, and made from solid wood. On paper, it's sweet - she can whip it out and kick some ass... but then what? She carries it a fair amount even when not in combat. No big deal - until I made a staff for myself and walked around with it all day. Guess what? Big, solid walking sticks are heavy. And they make your hands hurt after a while, especially if you have to grip them tightly - say, for instance, if you were fighting? So I learned some valuable information by having the real thing in front of me, physically, and by being able to interact with it and use it the way I was trying to write it. Short answer to the problem? Kallizar doesn't carry the staff nearly as often now. It gets in the way a lot, it's heavy, and it's not terribly useful for most situations.

Example the second: Akitis fights with a slew of knives, usually by throwing them but she's good in close combat, too. She's got a whole belt full of them, and they range in size and weight from finger-long slim shivs to dirks longer than my forearm. Now, Akitis is on the thin side, but she's no weakling. She's grown up using knives and defending herself in hand-to-hand combat, so she's way more skilled than I am. But it was still a learning experience for me when I went to Scotland one spring and visited several shops that boasted blacksmith crafts. I got a chance to handle about a dozen different knives in various sizes and it was incredible how unique they all felt in my hands. I even ended up buying a dagger for myself. It's much heavier than anything Akitis would ever use, and it's meant to be more decorative than functional, but it still gives me something solid to return to when I'm looking for some good knife descriptors.

Third thing - swords. They're a lot like big daggers, right? I know the basics - I've watched plenty of TV and movies with sword fights. Oh, except that's all staged and choreographed, too... hmm... Well that's a bit of a conundrum. I can't buy a sword (those things are really expensive!) and I seriously doubt a class on proper fencing etiquette is going to be helpful when I am working on a pirate attack sequence. Parry! Thrust! Fail. But what I do have is still pretty good - my husband is a black belt in Tang Soo Do and has studied some kendo (traditional sword-fighting, usually Japanese). He's got some sturdy wooden kendo swords and I've been able to see a few of the basic forms. Granted, my pirates aren't going to be using kendo art when they're ransacking another ship, but I can at least understand and better write how the captain might hold his sword and bring it down or across when attacking an enemy. And again, in Scotland, I had a friend who was lucky enough to purchase a sword (actually, the sword that matches my dagger :) ) and I got to hold it. Holy whoa, was that heavy. Yes, I am a weakling, especially compared to a long-time pirate sailor or a military man, but it still was a sharp reminder that swordsmen are strong. They aren't always huge and perfectly chiseled, but they're strong. Even disarmed, they'd likely be a fearsome opponent because of their sheer strength.

Next up, and not something you'll find featured in The Immortal Flames (although they do make quite a few appearances in my other stories): guns. I've had characters fire guns, get shot at, get wounded by, and get killed by guns (or bullets, I'm not going to argue over that). And here's where I have the least personal experience. I've shot a BB gun, once or twice, about twelve years ago, and that's pretty much been the extent of it. No hunters in the family, no family heirloom I can steal away for ten minutes of intense study. So in this case, I do research. Yes, a chunk of that research is watching various TV shows and movies to see relative sizes of handguns vs. rifles, etc. Some of it is also internet, learning names for different guns and what types of bullets/ammunition they take. And some of it is even playing FPS (first-person shooters) games on my computer to see what types of guns get reloaded in what ways, how hefty the recoil might be, whether it's likely to take two hands to fire, and so on.

Plus, I get to play video games for research. Awesome!

The final weapon I wanted to touch on is what I always refer to as a natural weapon. That could mean a vampire's fangs, animals' teeth and claws, or, for Sorcerers in The Immortal Flames, the magic in their blood. Kallizar doesn't need a physical weapon to focus her magic. She crafts spells through careful pattern design and logic and creativity, but all she needs to do to activate it is bring it forth. She's not bound by the limitations of what's physically accessible - which is good, because when she needs to cast a spell on-the-fly, even a gesture might be too slow. It becomes a reflex, a habit, a part of her every day. Sure, she spends lots of time practicing, crafting new and better spells, but they take time. Ones she uses constantly, like summoning and dismissing her staff, or grabbing the wind to carry her voice over long distances, are so commonplace she doesn't even do it consciously. As the saying goes (at least in my family), practice makes permanent. It may not be the perfect spell, but do it enough, and it'll be at the ready in your mind forever.

There's more in my weapons locker, but I think that's enough for one peek. Expect an update in a day or two with pictures of some of these things, and maybe a surprise or two!

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.

The Realmwalker's Guide to Less Stress

My characters are many and varied and they each have their own ways of dealing with stress and annoyances. After much cajoling, some pleading, and more than a bit of bribery, I managed to get them to spill their stress-busting techniques. Unfortunately, not all of them are appropriate for use in this world - but if you were planning to follow a vampire's or an assassin's suggestions at face value, you might have larger issues at hand. :)

Nonetheless, I give to you, with much "ta-da" and "use at own risk"-ness, The Realmwalker's Guide to Less Stress.

1. Alcohol. Preferably a large quantity. Something like rich red wine or maybe dark ale, depending on the type of stress.  -Kallizar

2. A good workout and sparring session.  -Mikael

3. Any fight that I win (so I'm rarely stressed).  -Akitis

4. Studying something new or difficult - or just reading in general.  -Kallizar

5. A bloodbath on the new moon.  -Alec

6. Horseback riding with friends or family.  -Hirom

7. Walking in the rain.  -Kallizar  -Alec

8. Math.  -Seriah

9. Counting down the days until the young Sorcerer leaves the Palace again. In all seriousness, though, some quiet meditation and a walk in the gardens.  -Mahliz

10. Anything quiet and constructive. Hand crafts are my favorite.  -Vulcarus

11. Hugging someone you love.  -Kallizar  -Mikael  -Hirom  -Fawlen  -Seriah  -Brian

 

Don't recognize someone's name? Click on it (the first time it shows up) to catch up on their spotlight moments!

 

Does anyone have any anti-stress suggestions to share? I'm sure my characters and I could learn a thing or two... or several. Akitis, Alec... I'm looking at you.

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.

Jasper and Hime Mini-Feature

The previous post, Kitten and Mousie, mentioned my two cats - Jasper and Hime. I thought it might be nice if I gave them a little introduction, now that they're famous (and not related to any of the famous lolcats).

Jasper is the bigger one. He's about four years old, I think, and loves to play with people's toes (especially when they are wiggling under a blanket). His favorite cat toy is a fuzzy beetle stuffed with catnip. He also loves catnip in general and will lay on it whenever we sprinkle some on the scratch-pad for him.

Hime is just over one year old. Her name means "princess" in Japanese and is pronounced "HE-may". She is convinced that the walls are merely sideways floors and is constantly attempting to shift gravity to walk on them (so far no luck). Hobbies include hiding chapstick, pouncing on speakerphone-enabled cell phones, sleeping on ankles, and playing with big sparkly balls.

Both cats remind my husband and me constantly that we live here because of their good natures, and that we are only here to serve... and to sleep on. And for cuddles. And for the purchasing of new toys such as the beanbag. And for assistance in wall exploration.

Of Mercy and Wrath

Prophet Aleki nodded. “I understand your skepticism, Sorcerer Ian,” she replied. “But these strangers have not come for your blood, or mine. Their quest is a different path, and Ri’hannon has given me a message for them.” “Then they are here,” Ian said.

“Indeed,” Aleki agreed, “and if you spill their blood inside this temple, you will answer to Ri’hannon for your mistake. And he will not look kindly upon you for it.” The Prophet’s voice had taken on a chilly undertone. “Now go. I swear to the Gods, if you let these strangers be, they will not harm you. Their vengeance is not for you.”

 

Lillith, the God of Wrath, and Ri'hannon, the God of Mercy, share rule over the mortal world. They created the After as a realm of their own, a place where they could safely watch over the mortals and, once those mortals died, where they could interact with the spirits.

The Gods are powerful beings, but their power only reaches the After. To influence the human world, the Gods listen to the prayers of their Prophets and grant them boons - shards of the Gods' powers that the Prophets can then use. Prophets can sometimes hear the words of the Gods, if they are focused and quiet enough, but ultimately they can use the boons for whatever they so choose. Most Prophets feel closer to one God over the other, and Lillith and Ri'hannon agreed from before the beginning that they would not ever attempt to sway one's Prophet to the other's cause. A few Prophets maintain contact with both Gods; this requires a lifetime of dedication and balance and focus, and few are able to achieve the calm necessary to use boons of both Wrath and Mercy. Those who do become known as High Prophets and are held in extremely high regard.

Because of the Prophets' presence and the obvious powers of the Gods' boons, there is no doubt that the Gods exist and are watching the human world. Therefore, finding anyone who staunchly disbelieves the Gods' existence is near impossible... and those few who have been foolish enough to question the Gods soon find themselves in the After, where they come face-to-face with these powerful beings.

The Gods are very much equal in power and knowledge, even though the details certainly differ. For example, if Lillith gave one of her Prophets a boon to strike down a human, but Ri'hannon gave one of his Prophets a boon to protect that human, their power would cancel out and the human would be unaffected. Also, while they are not all-knowing, they are immortal and exist outside the human flow of time, which has given them hundreds of thousands of years to study and watch the human race. Their knowledge of an individual family or person may certainly differ, but their overall wisdom concerning the mortals is equal.

The humans know only what they have learned from the Prophets (and they have learned only what they have heard from the whispering of the Gods). They know that Ri'hannon is male, holds the place of Mercy, and has reserved black as his color (signifying deep love, peace, and rest). They also have attributed the blue moon with Ri'hannon, which has a softer light than its red counterpart. Ri'hannon, upon learning this, was amused and has even been seen walking the After in deep blue tones.

People have also learned about Lillith. They know she is female, holds the place of Wrath, and has reserved white as her color (signifying the purity of fury and pain). They have also associated her with the red moon. Lillith was pleased at the choice and it has since become her tradition to wear red when she is calm. The more angry or excited she becomes, the paler the red gets until it turns a blinding white. This applies to her clothes as well as her hair.

Perhaps the most important thing the humans have learned (beyond the proof that the Gods very much exist) is the meaning of oaths. When a person says they swear to the Gods, Lillith and Ri'hannon hear that oath and will be watching to make sure that oath is upheld... and woe to the one who breaks that oath. Many people made quick oaths to Ri'hannon to bail them out of a tight situation, banking on his mercy to get them out of the oath once the danger had passed - forgetting that the God of Mercy can just as easily withhold his mercy as he can give it. Ri'hannon may have a longer temper than Lillith, but his anger is just as dangerous.

 

Fun Facts (that no humans know!):

Lillith and Ri'hannon are lovers. They have been together since before the creation of the After, and care deeply about the well-being of each other. They have no concept of marriage.

Most of the time, both Gods look human. They have learned that the mortal-souls which find them in the After are much more comfortable speaking to a being with a recognizable build. However, they have been known to don wings and claws on occasion.

Although they exist outside the human flow of time, the Gods do have a basic understanding of it. They mark the passage of time in the human world accurately, and do not bother looking to the human future, since the humans' decisions are constantly shifting it anyway. Since they are immortal, both Gods are essentially of the same "age," although between the two of them, Ri'hannon is slightly "older."

There have been talks between them about the possibility of swapping roles for a single human day, where Ri'hannon would become the God of Wrath and Lillith the God of Mercy. In spite of the entertainment factor, however, they are too concerned as to what the long-term conditions might be to actually try this.

As Gods, Lillith and Ri'hannon have complete control over everything in the After - including the paths of all the mortal-souls in it. Those mortals who have earned anger from both Gods are punished until Ri'hannon and Lillith come to an agreement that they may be let out into the rest of the After (which is a rare occurrence, since by nature Mercy and Wrath tend to disagree). However, they are often extremely frustrated by their inability to directly influence the mortal realm. Such frustration has even branched out into wishes to travel to the mortal realm to get things done... but since their Godly powers were never meant for the human world, they would likely become trapped as a mortal on earth - a thought which keeps them firmly in the After, despite the inconveniences.

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.