Thursday, April 27, 2017

Flash Fiction # 248 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 32: Magic





(Previous)

No one had expected my move.  That was good in some ways since Darman and Potilia were intent on the people they took to be the most dangerous, like Lord Cayman.  On the bad side, though, it meant none of his allies were prepared to help protect me.  I had to move quickly.  I had to draw on the magic I'd learned during this odd, long journey.  I had the power of being a Sanctioned Protector at my fingertips.

And I had spent a lot of time learning about a certain type of magic.  The first magic I had sent at them had been a diversion.  I put all the power I dared into it because I wanted them to think I was truly trying to destroy them.  I wasn't -- I knew I hadn't that much power, but what I sent against them did take the two by surprise and I saw that three of the dozen fireballs had gotten through their defenses, which was better than I had expected.  The others quickly took up the attack as well.

No time to reconsider what I was doing.  No time to ask if this might be wise or if any of them could help.  I had to go with my next trick. There was one type of magic I'd been around more than any other during this madness.

I concentrated on a spot just behind Darman and Potilia.

I opened a door.

And then I opened another within that door.

And another.

By the fourth door, the others had realized what I was doing, both on my side and on Darman's.  The power from the votex of so many linked doors began to drag leaves into it.  I made another door -- far harder now. The power to make them and to keep them open came from me, and Darman sent a bolt of pure power that would have killed me outright if Maggie hadn't stepped forward, staff in hand, and her own power deflected the blow.

Time meant nothing to me now.  Seconds?  Minutes?  I could not measure the time it took for me to make those doors and hold them open.  Five -- I had five doors at my command.  The vortex had started grabbing up rocks, plants, and dirt.  Darman and Potilia had grabbed hold of each other and that wasn't out of fear.  I saw their powers merging in braids of light that spread up around them.

Dangerous for us -- but dangerous for the two of them, as well.  They were both powerful magicians and I doubted they'd ever joined power before.  I thought I heard Lord Cayman shout something, but I dared not try to listen.  I held to the doors.  I could feel the pull of the vortex reaching for me now, too.

The weres suddenly made a rush for me.  I should have expected it and seeing hundreds of creatures heading straight for me.  The shock and fear almost made me lose the hold on the spell, but before I could fully react, Bog Bob leapt over the top of us and landed with a force that flattened weres with such force that most of them must have died immediately and those that were not hit retreated in haste, breaking free of whatever magic Darman had used to drive them towards me.  The ground and trembled and I went to my knees, but I held on to the spell.  Trees were starting to bend toward the vortex now.  I hoped my friends stayed safe.  I had time again -- not much, but --

Bog Bob launched himself straight at Darman and Potilia.  I gave a cry of despair because I knew the two would react too quickly.  I almost let go of the doors to save him, but at that moment Edmond arrived at my feet.

"Hold on!" he warned above the growing wind.  He had to catch hold of my pants with his claws.  "Diversion!"

Bog Bob was a big diversion, too.  I realized others had started to move once Bog Bob blocked the view.  Just hold on a little longer, that's all.  I knelt and grabbed hold of Edmond as he started to slip.  I knew we could do this.  We just had to --


Bog Bob leapt to the side with surprising grace for something that large.  Darman cursed and turned as well, and that as his mistake.  I wasn't sure if he saw the others lined up -- Tom, Darman, Maggie, and a few others.  The blast that hit him and Potilia -- who had seen it coming but panicked -- did not destroy the two, but it did send them flying.

They tumbled through one door, another, another -- I thought maybe Lord Cayman had added a few more doors and more chaos into the mix.  I wasn't sure.  Once the two were gone I knew the others were safe, and that meant my power grew weaker.  My doors snapped shut, one after another.

Weres disappeared into dust, the power Darman had used to create them gone, and they were no longer human enough to hold on to their forms.  Within a minute the wind died down, the weres disappeared, and I was kneeling with allies, including a group of startled soldiers, in the empty field of battle.

"Where is he?" I asked, looking up as Davis came to me. 

"We don't know.  You did  a damned good job there.  Random doors like that -- brilliant.  You okay?"

"I think so," I said and let go of Edmond.  He stretched and looked around, blinking as though he'd slept through the battle.   I let Davis help me back to my feet.  "The others?"

"We did well," he said.  I heard a little bleakness; he was a healer and no doubt lost a few people in this battle.  "I am glad to have it done."

I nodded as Lord Cayman came toward me, but from the look on his face, I could tell we were not truly done.

To Be Continued
1000 Words

Monday, April 24, 2017

The End of Things, the Start of Things



In the last couple days, I have finished the major rewrite/edit of Raventower 2: War.  It will have one more read through/edit this week and I should be really done.  I also finished the first draft of Journey of a Thousand Truths.  I am within 2k of finishing the Saving Everywhere flash fiction set, which means I'll also be done with the larger collection which is Surviving Elsewhere, Going Somewhere Else, and Saving Everywhere.  The only major unfinished work I have right now is Amusing Grace.  I started that one on my birthday because I always start something new then, but I put it mostly aside so I could finish the other two major works first.

I will have the flash fiction set done tonight or tomorrow and it will be done and pretty much ready to post over the next two Fridays.

You know, for most of this year, I've felt as though everything was dragging and I was getting nowhere.  Then suddenly 'poof' and almost everything is done.  Now I'm scrambling to figure out what else I'm going to work on. What do I want for Wattpad?  Not Journey after all -- I just feel as though it is too soon to toss that story out for other people to see.  A Plague of Rats?  Circe's Gifts?  Maybe Circe's Gifts first, since that is a shorter one.  YA/MG fantasy with several shape-shifters.  That might be a good way to start to get a feel for what I should do.

Yes, maybe that one.  I even have a cover for it, though I might have to do some resizing and such.  Hmmm.  This looks like a real possibility!

As you have probably guessed by now, I am never without a few writing projects.  I have over 100 novels in at least the first draft format.  Actually, I have more than that, but those are the ones that are either already published or that I think have a chance of publication.  I keep writing more of them, too.


One completed for this year, another started, four more that are soon to go into note/outline phase for NaNo -- yeah, I have lots of manuscripts to work with still and except for having to decide 'what next' it's generally a lot of fun.  Oh, there are annoying moments during the writing, too, of course.  Journey of a Thousand Truths kept giving me problems.  I had not outlined it.  I do that every now and then, and while it was fun to just run with a story, it was horrible when I couldn't glance at a note and see what to do next.  The outline would have had the same sorts of problems while I created it, but they're easier to fix in outline when I can go back and tweak things without major rewrites of entire sections.  I suspect the rest of the novels this year will all have outlines.  I just don't have the patience I used to for wasting time.

So here is a piece from the little prologue to Circe's Gifts:

***

Few peasants from the village sitting at the forest's edge ever saw Circe, the Lady of the Woods.  Those who did chance to spot her when she walked the edge of her forest described the woman as an aged, gray-haired crone, with piercing eyes, and always followed by a horde of fearsome beasts.

They were wrong, of course, but they held to their myth even in the occasional face of reality.  No one ever looked for anything more than what they expected to see.  The Lady was ageless, not aged.  Her hair wasn't gray, but moonlight silver, and her eyes -- the color of the green forest leaves -- did not pierce; they simply saw the world in a way that humans could not.

As for the fearsome beasts -- well, her usual companions were a tailless mouse, a half-lame cat, and a one-eyed, soft-tempered she-wolf.

***

Injured wild animals come to Circe, but in this story, it is a wounded prince who wanders into her domain.  This really is an old-fashioned fantasy.  Yes, I think this might be the one to work on for Wattpad.

Let's see if this one sticks and I actually get so far as posting stuff.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Sale!

A quick note on this one!  It was supposed to go in my picture of the day blog.  LOL.  I resized and left it here.  It's actually gotten more notice on this one. 
 

Flash Fiction # 247 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 31: Battle, Part 2









Lord Darman had more forces than we did, even with my allies.  Strong forces.  Some were wild things that he turned loose on us, directing them with magic. Our side fought, killed, fought more -- but we were being pushed back, and some had already fallen.  I couldn't stay here, playing dead, and let this happen.

"Be still," Edmond whispered.  "They're coming our way."

Both friends and enemies had started to move in my direction.  My allies came in a slow retreat while Darman pushed them.  More frantic battles broke out along the way, slowing the enemy.  Soon, though, I was surrounded by others, and Davis came to stand over me. 

"Can you get up?" he asked but did not reach for me.

"I think so."

"Keep your head down.  Lord Snow?"

"Better," he said and stood, though I could tell he favored his right side.  "Up, Mark.  We haven't much time."

I stood, wobbled, and kept my head down.  The others moved in closer.  I could see Lord Cayman and Maggie.  Davis put a hand on my arm and gave me a little magical help, but I had the feeling he was as weak as I was at this time.  We moved back a little, Lord Snow staying with us.  If we could reach the woods, we could have some time to recover.

I didn't think we were going to get that lucky, so we had to have another answer.  I tried to block out the sounds of battle around me and concentrate on the center of the trouble -- on Darman and Potilia.  What I sensed there was not good.  They were gaining power.  I thought they might even be draining some of their own followers to concentrate the power in their hands.  We, though, lost more power in every battle.  We could not win this way.

I stopped retreating.

The battle was not as fierce as it had been, though there were still howls and yells all around us.  Bog Bob set the ground rolling now and then, but he was careful since that was apt to upset the rest of us as well.  Something flew in the sky, but Lord Cayman brought it down with a single bolt.  I hoped Edmond didn't try to fly, though being on the ground in this mass of fighters was not safe, either.

Edmond nudged me in the legs.  "Keep going.  We need to get to the trees."

"We won't make it," I said. Davis, still moving with me, looking worried.  So did Lord Snow.  "They're building up power.  Can't you feel it?"

"Maybe," Davis said.  He frowned.  "I suspect you are better at that.  What do we do?"

"Lord Cayman, Maggie, and Tom have all slowed.  I think they must know as well.  We'll never get as far as the trees, and if we do, I think they'll just flatten the area and kill us anyway."  I took a step back, as though I still meant to retreat like everyone else.  I noted that many of the weres had been killed.  So had humans, including a few soldiers.  Lt. Marsh was still with us, though.  He and Harvey the Rabbit seemed to have teamed up.  They both looked fierce.

Through the line of allies, I could see more weres and other creatures.  Except for the aura of power, I could not locate Cayman or Potilia.  They were well back from the front lines, not anxious to get involved in the brawling, close battle.

I wished I had more magic. I would have used it to send Edmond, Lord Snow, and even Davis away from me.  I knew that once I started to do anything showy, I was going to have the attention of those far stronger than me.  I stepped back again. This was not the time to move in haste.  I wanted to protect all my friends and allies.  I needed to do so wisely.

Power.

I suddenly understood my power better than I ever had before.  My power was in the ability to protect others -- and the more people I had to protect, the more power I held.  Whenever one of my own fell, I lost power.  If any of my close companions fell --

No.  I dared not let that happen.

"Stay behind me," I warned my companions.  "There's no time.  We have to act now."

No one argued.  I moved forward, careful still, trying not to draw attention.  I held my own powers inside, but I kept a close watch on Darman.  I would trust the others to take care of Potilia and keep her busy for the moment.  I would sense if she did anything truly dangerous. But at the moment all I could sense from there was her chaotic rage.  That did not help her side.

Darman had an entirely different feeling.  Darman marshaled his power, drew a sense of calm and purpose into himself.  I suspected that he used Potilia as a kind of shield so that others didn't notice his own state.  His actions had not changed; I could see Darman still battled anything that came near him and sent out magic to destroy others, but that was almost mechanical in movement.  He was almost ready.

I rushed forward, feeling the magic directed toward Lord Cayman.

"Darman!" I shouted and threw a shield out in front of the others.  Just in time, but I wasn't strong --

Cayman's magic joined mine.  Then so did others and the magic Darman had so carefully accumulated bounced back and scattered, destroying some his own allies.  We had enraged him this time, and that was as dangerous as calculating.  Magic swept over us and around us, but I kept my shield in place, protecting the others.

But I would have to do something drastic.  No one expected me to step out of the shell as I prepared to cast my first true magic.  This would be my only chance.

To Be Continued

995 Words





Monday, April 17, 2017

Preparing



So, I am looking at ideas for NaNo in November.  I'll need two or three outlines.  Today I came up with something I think is going to be fun to write.

Let's say my characters are looking for a lost city.  This could be fantasy, science fiction, or even a fictional lost city set in the real world of today.  I am tending towards fantasy, though it might be Alternate Earth Urban Fantasy of some sort.  I only have the very basics of the idea so far, but it is growing enough that I'll start note taking and outlines soon enough.  Anyway, my characters are looking for some ancient place.  The name of the place is in a language no one speaks now.  Many people consider the city to be pure myth with no tie to reality, but my group of adventurers is going to prove them wrong for whatever reason they have for this quest.

They know the basic area, or so they think.  However, the land itself changes over time.  Harbors silt up.  Earthquakes bury ravines in debris.  Humans knock down hills or build new ones to suit their current needs and tastes.  Entire landscapes change; the lush farmlands of ancient times might be a barren desert now.

Or the area might be much like it had been thousands of years before.  Maybe the adventurers have traced what they seek to this general location, but they simply can't find any sign of the ancient city. They know they are close, but where is it?  They spend some time in the largest city in the area, hoping to find more maps, old manuscripts, perhaps even learn a few new myths.  They know they're close.

What if they're standing right on it?

Locations that are suitable for a settlement often remain good, even after slight changes around them.  Conquerers rename cities and the next conqueror names it again.  There was a city named Wasat once -- a powerful city, and it stood for three thousand years.  In fact, it still stands, but that's not the name you are likely to know.  When the Greeks conquered the land, they renamed it after one of their own cities. The current rulers of the land thought these ancient ruins looked liked palaces and gave it a name to reflect that belief.

So a city that was Wasat for about three thousand years in ancient Egypt became Thebes and now is Luxor, and in a fraction of the time the city existed, its old name is forgotten. Wasat is not a name you are likely to know, even though this is a city that was never lost.  The name is inscribed in stone and on papyrus, but until the last century, the ability to read those words was lost.  The ancient Egyptian priesthood had died out, and they took with them the secrets of the mdw ntr -- The Gods' Words.  Was, by the way, was the ancient word for power.  Waset means, basically, the city of power.

Istanbul -- which I believe means 'the city' -- had to be renamed because Constantinople, the city of the great Christian Emperor, would not do in a Muslim world.  Before Constantinople, there had been Byzantium, for which an entire area and era were named.  If you go looking for places, sometimes you need to look under the floorboards, so to speak.  The adventurers might not have to go out into the jungles or the desert wastelands.  Of course digging down into the heart of a populated city isn't going to be easy, either.  Add a few religious implications, and I can have everything up to assassins and riots.  Oh yes, this might be fun.

Another NaNo Novel is also playing in my brain.  I need to do the background work on that one, but it really is going to be a fun new Devlin novel.  Oh, and I haven't forgotten the 'Egypt rules the world' story, either.  I am just not ready to do that much research.

So there might be two major works in the planning stages.  We only have six full months and a couple weeks to get ready, you know.  It is crazy how fast this year is going.

I am also looking at doing something on Wattpad.  Have any of you worked with it?  I think the piece I put up might be Journey of a Thousand Truths as soon as I get the first draft done.  I admit that I don't fully understand Wattpad, but I am willing to expand out and see what it might do for my readership.  There are too many things for authors to try out there and I've been getting lost in the wilds for a long time.  I am not looking to be a top selling author, but I would like to reach a few more people who enjoy the same sort of stories that I enjoy.  I suspect that Wattpad will be another 'lost in the crowd' place, but if I am going to try it anyway.  I think I will be posting on Wednesdays.  Mondays I have this blog and Fridays I have the 2YN class on Facebook and the Flash Friday piece, so I want to get away from this weekend rush of posting.  Since I will have the novel done before I start posting (or close to it), I might even do two posts a week.

But it is all confusing, especially for someone who truly only wants to write and maybe play with pictures and graphic art now and then.  Oh yes and read -- and continue to learn more Egyptian Hieroglyphs.  I shouldn't grumble and complain because I do have the near perfect writing life, just lacking in funds now and then.  On days like today, though, with my back painfully reminding me of why I can't get a job out in the real world, I start looking more at what I can do to help the finances.  I can write.  I am still going to believe that will count!