Once again I’ve made it my fiction Friday with a zero word count for the week. If you read Monday’s post you’ll know why. I am STILL sorting out those darned bookcases. The ones in my office are just about done, but there’s still a lot of “stuff” laying around and as I type this I can’t help but notice the shelf I have my CD player on seems to be ...um... bending in the middle under the weight of the books I have between the player and the speaker. They’re pretty big books. I might move them to the bottom shelf of the last bookcase (which currently has nothing on it) and put something lighter there instead.
In any case, not only do I have no fresh words for you, I have no pearls of wisdom to send your way. Other than if you ever decide to swap out bookcases in your own office - don’t! ;-)
So today I’ve revisited the vault and came up with the fantasy novel I started when the creative well ran dry on the Saturn story. It started with a dream... The landscape was rolling hills. Tucked away amongst the hills was small pond of crystal clear water. Beneath the water there was a warrior, dressed all in black - he even had a mask concealing his face.
When I woke up I knew the warrior’s name was Brand, short for Firebrand, and he was the son of a sorceress from the mysterious Witch Hills and the warlord who captured her. He carries the sword of blood and amber, and if he recites the spell the sword becomes a living flame. His mask is part of a curse put on him by an evil sorceress name Giselle.
Early in his travels he hooks up with a witch who becomes known as Stormbringer. The thing about Storm is, technically she’s blind. She has no sight of her own, but she can “borrow” the vision of the birds and animals around her. In the beginning it’s just a platonic relationship, he rescues her, then she rescues him, and that’s where it all falls apart.
This was real early in my writing days and I had no clue as to what I was doing. Rather than write a cohesive story, I wrote a series of kind of mini-stories. But not really stories, more unconnected scenes, if you will. Of the longer stories we have one that begins with Storm being awakened from a spell that put her to sleep until certain conditions were met, whereupon she goes off to rescue Brand from his enchanted sleep in the pool which is now in a cave of crystal. The other one has Brand rescuing some random girl from a cult of wizard priests as the price to have her mother remove his mask.
Some day I will sit down and use index cards to organize all this information and then tell the tale of Firebrand and Stormbringer. Some day....
In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from where Storm rescues Brand from the pool. Storm was awakened by Hess, her sorcerous father’s apprentice (and a young girl when she last saw her), who told her where to find Brand and how to save him. She’s made her way past several obstacles to inside the crystal shrine. And yes, I know I said she was blind, but she must have got her vision back at some point:
Storm drew on a pair of thick, leather gloves and picked up the sword. Her mouth was dry and the cavern suddenly seemed colder. Saying a quick prayer to the goddess Shima, she grasped the sword firmly by the hilt and pulled the scabbard away.
In a clear, ringing voice, she said, "By the magic arcane that forged stone, in the name of the twin gods Fell and Mo-Rel, I command the power of blood and amber to come forth!"
For long, breathless seconds, nothing happened. Then, like a storm gathering, power began to build. Storm's breath caught in her throat. A flicker from the red core of the sword travelled outward. Power flowed, making the amber sword glow. A beam of white light shot from the tip of the sword straight into the air.
Storm cried out, ducking her head and closing her eyes.
"Who dares to call forth the flame without our leave?" The booming voice echoed through the chamber.
"I, Bringer of the Storm, do so dare," Storm called out in a shaky voice, still holding tight to the sword. She opened her eyes to mere slits. "He who serves the flame lies helpless. The power of the sword is needed to free him."
The beam of light began to spin. It moved until it touched the man in the pool, then expanded until it enveloped him. It pulsed, almost a living thing. The body levitated to the surface, then gently settled to the bottom again. The light moved away until it spun over the altar.
"Know you not the price the one who wields the amber blade pays?" a second voice boomed out.
"Who will wield the blade for you if this man dies? You spent centuries waiting for him."
The two voices began overlapping. "She has a point . . . her point is weak . . . she can be of assistance . . . he is near to death . . . she makes him stronger . . . he has served us well . . . the land cries out again . . ."
The column of light began to spin faster.
"We will help," the first voice boomed out. "But know you there lies a price ahead for you both."
"Agreed," Storm said.
The column of light vanished. Again the red core of the sword flickered and power flowed. Storm's hands tightened but she was still unprepared when the sword burst into flame. Quickly she moved to the side of the pool and plunged the point of the sword downwards.
The water hissed, steam billowing upwards in a great, shimmering cloud. A hot wind raced through the cavern, but Storm stood fast. It swirled around her, plucking at her hair and clothing; then suddenly it was gone, taking the water from the pool with it. Even the warrior's clothing was dry.
"Flame shall conquer water." Hess' voice seemed to echo in the chamber.
With trembling arms, Storm raised the sword high above her head. Locking her arms in place, she called out a single word in an ancient tongue. She was trembling, not so much from the weight of the weapon as from the pain in her hands. Every nerve felt like it was on fire.
A streak of blue, as from a lightning strike, shot from the tip of the sword into the body below. Storm's head was thrown back, her mouth open in a silent scream.
"Pain shall free the lost."
Her arms shook and sweat beaded her brow as she slowly lowered the sword again. The warrior's body convulsed, then arched upwards. Storm stepped into the empty pool, knelt beside him, and carefully placed the hilt of the still flaming sword into his open hand. His fingers closed around the hilt. His eyes opened. Storm backed quickly away as he surged upwards.
"Flame shall feed the fire of life."
He did not know her. She could see that in the instant before he swung the sword. He yelled something in the language of Witch Hills as she ducked beneath the fiery arc.
"Brand, no! It's me, Storm!"
She was forced to dance out of the way as he swung again. Frantically she tried to think of a spell that would calm him, but her mind refused to cooperate. She was forced to give way again and again until the backs of her legs struck the altar.
Storm stood tall and proud, her calm gaze meeting the madness in his eyes. "Firebrand of Witch Hills, if my life is what is needed to make you whole again, then so be it. I offer it gladly to know you will live once more."
Brand raised the sword. Storm held his gaze fearlessly and something flickered in his eyes. He faltered, the sword wavered. He shook his head slightly and swayed in place. He looked at her in confusion and slowly sank to his knees. The flame enveloping the sword vanished and it became once more a sword made of amber.
"Love shall conquer madness."
"Storm? What happened? Where are we?"
Tears started from her eyes as she knelt beside him. "That, my love, is a tale and a half. Let us leave this place, quickly. It is a tale best heard where the air is clear and the stars can shine down on us."