Thursday, January 31, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest - Blue Energy and You


Today is day 3! Or yesterday was...sorry I'm a little late today. Today I'd also like to announce the details of the excerpt contest. Everyone is encouraged to post an excerpt on Friday whether you want to enter the contest or not, but if you are interested in entering to win a full manuscript critique, this is what you do:

Email an excerpt of 1000 words or less to sharonebayliss(at)yahoo.com by the end of the day on Monday 2/4. Don't worry about time zones, if it's still Monday anywhere I'll accept your entry. :) I'll be offering a full manuscript critique to the author of the excerpt that I believe best demonstrates worldbuilding. I'll also post the winning excerpt on my blog along with my commentary. 

Although how compelling your world is will play a part in my decision, I'm more interested in the best execution of worldbuilding. I'm especially interested to see worldbuilding demonstrated in active scenes, as opposed to just paragraphs of description. 

Good luck! I look forward to reading!

Wednesday 1/30
Religion and/or magic

I don't have to tell you that beliefs can shape our worlds and our characters. And if your world has fantasy elements, you may have to even re-write some of the laws of physics for your world. 

Post ideas:
-Describe the religious beliefs in your world. Do they believe in God? An afterlife?
-If an afterlife exists, tell us what lies in the great hereafter.
-Highlight a/the God from your world
-Share an excerpt from a religious text, prayer, or song
-Describe a religious/spiritual/magical ceremony
-Is there more than one religion in your world? How are they different? How do they get along?
-If magic exists in your world, what are it's limitations?
-Describe how to conduct a magic spell in your world
-Highlight a magical creature in your world. What powers does it have?
-How does the beliefs of your world impact your story and your characters? How would they be different if they had different beliefs?

---

For today, I will feature a mock excerpt from a health textbook directed towards young members of the Texas royal family. Although it's presented here as more scientific than magical, Blue Energy has significant spiritual components as well. It depends on who you ask about Blue Energy. Some will only describe the science. Others would say that Blue Energy isn't explained by science, and is purely a spiritual phenomenon.



Blue Energy and You

You certainly know by now, that as a member of the Wilde family, you are very special. Due to a force known as Blue Energy, your brain works better than the brains of normal humans. You have the capacity to think faster, be more creative, and perceive the world more deeply.

But why?

Blue Energy is the common term used for the increased bioelectricity in the bodies of all people with Wilde DNA. Bioelectricity is electricity derived from living tissue. Some people think that only Wilde's have bioelectricity, but that is not correct. All living creatures have bioelectricity, we just have more. Electrical impulses send messages through the brain and because we have increased bioelectricity, our brain sends messages faster and we are able to utilize more of our brain tissue.

Without these electrical impulses, life would not exist at all. Because of this, we believe that bioelectricity is the essence of life itself, sometimes called "the soul". Although this electricity leaves our human bodies when we die, your Blue Energy never dies, it transfers into the atmosphere.

Where did we come from?

Wildes have extra Blue Energy because of a mutation in our DNA. Because the Blue Energy phenomenon has existed since at least the early nineteenth century, we assume that the mutation was an act of God and not deliberately created by man, as man did not have the technology at the time. However, the origin of our mutation is not fully understand and often contested, even among members of the family.

What does this mean for me?

Sometimes you may not like being different, but having Blue Energy is a very good thing. Although you may experience some strange sensations, these are normal. Talk to an adult you trust about what you are feeling.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest - The Texas Missile Crisis


Day 2 of the Worldbuilding Blogfest is all about history & politics!

Tuesday 1/29
History & Politics

As an author of an alternate history, this particular component has been the bane of my existence. J To alter history, you need to understand history (both real and alternate), and that means lots of research. Do you know what happened in history in your world? What about the political climate now? What type of government is in play?

Post ideas:

-Timeline of important historical events
-Highlight one particular historical event
-An excerpt from a history textbook from this world. Then tell us…is what they teach their kids accurate? Is the textbook biased in any way?
-How does the history of this world impact your characters’ present? Do the actions of the characters ancestors impact who they are today? How does your character feel about the history of the world?
-Describe the type of government in power. Democracy? Monarchy? Anarchy? How does the government affect the day to day lives of your characters?
-Share a campaign ad / brochure/ propaganda
-Write an op-ed piece about an important political issue in your world
-Highlight an important historical or political figure in your world
-Write about your main character’s political views.
-Show us the flag of the nation in your world
---

The Texas Empire Flag is a recreation of the actual first official flag of the Republic of Texas, sometimes known as the De Zavala flag.
"My mom said, 'Daddy says he loves you very much, and to be a good boy. You'll see him again in Heaven.' Heaven. Yeah, right. But what was she supposed to say? Be a bad boy and maybe you'll get to see Daddy again in Hell?" - Will Cole

As an alternate history, obviously, history plays a critical role in The Charge. However, I like to think that fleshing out the history behind the story in The Charge is more about character building than worldbuilding. All of the characters in the The Charge are significantly impacted by what happened before the story started, and in many cases, years before they were even born. In fact, without the history behind the story, the story wouldn't exist at all, my characters would be enjoying their summer vacation in a boring and normal way, which I'm sure they would have preferred. :)

I have created an alternate Texas History Reference Guide for myself which lists all the important events in my altered history, but it's boring and contains spoilers, so I won't publish it here. Instead, I think the best way to present the history is with an excerpt:

---


Will had just turned five when his father was tried for war crimes. After years of Cold War between the United States and the Texas Empire, U.S. intelligence discovered definitive proof of weapons of mass destruction within the Texas Empire and had information that the then King of Texas planned to reignite conflict between the two nations in order claim additional U.S. soil in the name of the Texas Empire. These threats, compounded by the bitter hatred for the Texas monarchy roused by the Blue Scare of the nineteen nineties, led to a dangerous backroom standoff between the two nations.
Many believed that the King of Texas never really intended to use the weapons, and the conflict could have eventually been resolved through diplomatic discussion, but on the twelth day of the standoff, the U.S launched a bomb at the capital of the Texas Empire. No one knows exactly what happened in the top secret meetings that led to the bombing, but the President at the time and his cabinet placed blame on Will's father, General William Cole. They accused him of using "manipulation and deception to circumvent Presidential orders and launch the bomb without proper authority." Some conspiracy theorists claim that General Cole could not have worked alone and that he had simply been the scape goat used to cover-up a massive, deadly mistake made by the entire administration. Whether that was true or not, Will's father did not contest the charges against him.
Will knew all this now, but at the time his mother had simply told Will that his father had made a very bad mistake, the kind of mistake that was too bad to just say you're sorry. Even still, his father never had said, "sorry". Will had read the transcripts of the trial so he knew this for a fact.
His father had said, "Although I regret the loss of life, I do not regret my actions. I have no doubt that King Antony would have followed through on his threats and attacked the U.S. capital. The hesitancy of the President was about to kill us all. If I hadn't acted, none of us would be here today. I have a son. I had no choice."
I have a son. I had no choice. Will had all of this memorized. The recorded words from the trial were the only words his father had ever spoken that Will had been given the chance to memorize. An international tribunal found his father guilty of the "wanton destruction of human life not justified by military necessity," and he was sentenced to death and executed. Will didn't get to say goodbye to his father. His mom had said, "Daddy says he loves you very much, and to be a good boy. You'll see him again in Heaven."
Heaven. Yeah, right. But what was she supposed to say? Be a bad boy and maybe you'll get to see Daddy again in Hell?



Monday, January 28, 2013

The Worldbuilding Blogfest - Blue Storm Warning


Welcome to day one of the Worldbuilding Blogfest! Here is what we have on tap for today:

Monday 1/28
Geography & Climate

Okay, so you’re in your world. Go outside. What do you see? Towering trees? Pools of lava? Mountains? Purple sky? On Monday, you’ll begin with the basics.

Here are some ideas for posts:
  • General encyclopedia/ textbook description of the geography and climate
  • A map of your world
  • A weather report or severe weather advisory
  • Photos or drawings of your setting (or photos of how your setting might be if it’s not real). (Remember not to use copyrighted work without permission.)
  • A post about how the geography and climate of your world impact your characters. Where a person is from is part of who they are. How would your main character be different if they were from somewhere else? How has it impacted their values, beliefs, appearance, personality?
  • Highlight a species of plant or animal that exists in your world
  • A list of “travel tips” or “warnings” one might need to be aware of when visiting your world.
  • A sightseeing guide for a landmark or attraction

And here is my post...


Welcome to the Texas Empire, the alternate history monarchy from the upcoming novel, The Charge. If you thought real Texas had mercurial weather patterns, wait until you visit the fictional Texas Empire. A mysterious force known as Blue Energy, which is rumored to emanate from the royal family themselves, wreaks havoc on the climate.

URGENT - BLUE STORM ADVISORY 
TEXAS NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREATER WATERLOO 
7 PM CST SUN JUN 15 2013 

...A LEVEL FIVE BLUE STORM, CAPABLE OF DAMAGING WINDS UP TO 60 MPH, GROUND LIGHTNING, AND ELECTRICAL SURGES WAS LOCATED 14 MILES SOUTHEAST OF THE WATERLOO METROPOLITAN AREA MOVING WEST AT 40 MPH... 

...SWIFTLY RISING WATERS ARE EXPECTED AND WALKING LIGHTNING MAY APPEAR OUTDOORS AND INDOORS...ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES ARE EXPECTED TO SHUT DOWN 15 MINUTES PRIOR TO THE STORM'S ARRIVAL AND REMAIN OFF FOR THE DURATION OF THE STORM...HALLUCINATIONS AND PANIC ATTACKS ARE LIKELY, ESPECIALLY AMONG SENSITIVE GROUPS... 

...THE BLUE STORM ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 AM CST MONDAY... 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... 

...CITIZENS ARE ADVISED TO SEEK SHELTER...RESIDENTS OF TENT CAMPS SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY TOWARD DESIGNATED REFUGE AREAS WITHIN THE PALACE...LOCATE BLUE BOX PREPAREDNESS KITS TO FIND BATTERIES, GAS LAMPS, AND SAFE WATER...IF YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER SEES THINGS THAT ARE NOT THERE, YOU ARE ADVISED TO CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TAKE DEEP BREATHS...DO NOT MAKE MAJOR LIFE DECISIONS OR OPERATE DANGEROUS MACHINERY WHEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE STORM...KEEP ALL GUNS AND OTHER WEAPONS IN SECURE LOCATIONS...




Friday, January 25, 2013

An interview with L. Blankenship, author of the Disciple series


Today, I welcome L. Blankenship for an interview about her six-part fantasy novel, Disciple. Disciple, Part I is available now and Part II comes out in April!

Tell us a little bit about your main character Kate. What do you admire most about her?

I admire her emotional courage. Personally, I tend to be detached and intellectual -- Kate isn't afraid to get involved. She picks herself up and heads back in (again) long after I would have thrown up my hands and walked away. 

In what ways is your main character like you? How is she different?

We share curiosity and a love of detail. And we both love reading, of course. 

Aside from what I mentioned above, Kate is also much more people-oriented than I am. Much more nurturing. I'm not noted for my nurturing abilities -- I can kill any potted plant. Really. Orchids? ("Thrives on neglect!") Dead. Cactuses? Dead. 

Did you find that it was harder to write Disciple I or Disciple II? Why?

Disciple, Part II has proven more difficult over the long run, and I'm glad I waited until I had finished all six parts to publish it. Part I is fairly self-contained. It's sort of a prologue, though it contains the inciting incident for the entire series. Part II has been trickier and it's largely Kiefan's fault. His long-range character arc has caused some trouble.

Can you give us a sneak peak of what types of posts we'll get to see from you in The World Building Blogfest?

While religion has its presence in Disciple, I did not go into great detail about it in the story. The term "disciple" relates to magic, not religion, in the Saints of War universe. In Wodenberg, religion, magic and civil authority are closely entwined. I'll try to tease it apart and talk about religion. Maybe spill into folklore a bit. 

What travel tips do you have for visiting the world of Disciple? What dangers should I watch out for? What sights should be on my itinerary? 

Tourism in Wodenberg is very much a neglected industry… I'm chuckling just thinking about it. Backpackers, mountain climbers, and nature photographers would probably enjoy it. If you're a beer enthusiast, you're in for a treat. You could spend a year on an epic brewpub crawl, sampling all their seasonal varieties. 

One must be careful of the wildlife: wolves, bears, cougars and such. Especially look out for the lamia, if you're on the slopes around Starknadel. Give their kir-fount a wide berth -- measured in miles. If you're a rock climber and you want to try the cliffs above Rukharbor, beware of the rukhs that live around the kir-fount there. 

Sights you should not miss include: Mount Woden, of course, and the city of Wodenberg. If you can climb Castle Kaltkern's watch towers, they say on a clear day you can see Suevia. Ride over to Knapptal to see Spiegel Lake and the twin towers on either shore, it's beautiful and romantic. Rukharbor has its cliffs, the fount is spectacular, and there's a hill figure on the slopes above -- a stylized right whale named Keto, who's said to bring good luck. (See: Uffington White Horse)

Sounds like a beautiful and developed world. Thanks for being here!
---

Read a sample of Part I, Chapter 1 • Read a sample of Part II
Cover and blurb for Part I or Part II

Disciple, Part I is available at all major online retailers Disciple, Part II on sale April 1st!
Pre-order Part II, or pick up a bundle of both parts, NOW at Kickstarter! Click on the widget to see the book trailer and the pledging options.

Disciple, Part I on GoodreadsPart II on Goodreads

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My 18 Things

Does this cover remind you of any others you've seen? When I saw her cover for the first time, I loved it and asked for the same artist. So I like to think of our covers as siblings. :)
Today my friend Jamie Ayres released her debut novel, 18 Things. Aside from the fact that it looks like an awesome book and Jamie is an awesome person, this one is special to me because Jamie won her publishing contract through the Wilde's Fire Editor-Judged Contest right here on my blog! I am so honored to have been one of the stepping stones on her path to success.

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death.

When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled “18 Things”: eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But there’s more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity.


To celebrate her release, Jamie is having a blogfest where we share our own "18 Things", eighteen quests we would like to complete in our lives, or our "Bucket List."

I've been thinking about what I'd like to post for a while. I've always been ambivalent about bucket lists, mainly because I am a very goal-oriented person. When I set a goal for myself, I'm pretty locked in, so I don't set goals lightly. :) This post comes at a good time for me. With my debut novel coming out in a little over a month, my bucket list is feeling a little empty. I've done a lot of things I've wanted to do. I've published a book. I've run marathons. I've reached my goal weight (and unreached it and reached it again). And most importantly, I've found true love and had recently had my second child, completing the family I've always wanted. So...now what?

I admit it's somewhat of a "champagne problem". But still, it's been a strange time for me. I've found that it's been important to remind myself that the most important goals in life are never "done". My ultimate goal is to live a long and well-lived life. Which means many things, and it's a goal that I won't cross off until, well...the end. Instead of 18 "things", I'd like to share 10 tenets I choose to live by to get me toward the ultimate goal of living a long and well-lived life. Yeah, I could only think of 10. :)

  1. To make loving my family my most important priority at all times.
  2. To be an idealist and never believe I have to live anything less than the life I want.
  3. To never not go after something I want just because I'm afraid I might fail.
  4. To take care of my body, because even 100 years on this earth doesn't seem like long enough!
  5. To take care of my mental health, so I'm able to take care of others.
  6. To be mindful of my impact on the environment.
  7. To be mindful of how I impact others and treat people with respect.
  8. To believe in a higher power, without fussing about the details, because there are some things humans are not meant to understand.
  9. To not waste too much energy worrying about things that aren't important or out of my control.
  10. To not take a single blessing for granted and thank God every day.
Of course, I've got some "things" I'd like to do. I have more books to write, more marathons to run, and yes, I have to reach my goal weight once again. :) And who knows what else!

Thank you Jamie for giving me the opportunity to remind myself what I really want and that there is so much left to do. I wish you much success with 18 Things!

Check out the Linky here to read more of the entries.


Worldbuilding Blogfest Schedule & Details



The Worldbuilding Blogfest starts next Monday! I'm pleased with the great turnout and happy to see both old friends and fresh faces in the mix. It's not too late to sign up if you haven't already.

Worldbuilding is a lot of work! So, I wanted to share some more details so the "plan-in-advancers" among you can get started with your posts now if you choose. This blogfest has a flexible format. The idea is to help you develop the world you've created and share your awesome creation. The topics and post suggestions are to help guide you, but you can change things around or try different things if you wish.

If you can't do all five posts, please don't hesitate to still participate and post what you can. But, if you are one of the first people to sign-up and complete five worldbuilding posts between 1/28 and 2/3, you'll automatically win a free digital copy of my upcoming release The Charge on 3/2/13. All you need is five distinct world-building posts in that time range, it's okay if you're a little behind and your posts bleed into the weekend.

Everyone who completes at least one post will be entered in a drawing to win one of the prizes listed in the original post here.

NEW
On Friday 2/1, we'll be posting excerpts that demonstrate world-building. And I've decided to make this a contest. I'll be giving away a full manuscript critique to the excerpt I think best demonstrates worldbuilding. I'll share more information about the contest portion a few days beforehand.


Here are the details on what and when to post. I have listed possible post ideas for each category but feel free to come up with your own ideas.

Monday 1/28
Geography & Climate

Okay, so you’re in your world. Go outside. What do you see? Towering trees? Pools of lava? Mountains? Purple sky? On Monday, you’ll begin with the basics.

Here are some ideas for posts:
  • General encyclopedia/ textbook description of the geography and climate
  • A map of your world
  • A weather report or severe weather advisory
  • Photos or drawings of your setting (or photos of how your setting might be if it’s not real).( Remember not to use copyrighted work without permission.)
  • A post about how the geography and climate of your world impact your characters. Where a person is from is part of who they are. How would your main character be different if they were from somewhere else? How has it impacted their values, beliefs, appearance, personality?
  • Highlight a species of plant or animal that exists in your world
  • A list of “travel tips” or “warnings” one might need to be aware of when visiting your world.
  • A sightseeing guide for a landmark or attraction


Tuesday 1/29
History & Politics

As an author of an alternate history, this particular component has been the bane of my existence. J To alter history, you need to understand history (both real and alternate), and that means lots of research. Do you know what happened in history in your world? What about the political climate now? What type of government is in play?

Post ideas:

-Timeline of important historical events
-Highlight one particular historical event
-An excerpt from a history textbook from this world. Then tell us…is what they teach their kids accurate? Is the textbook biased in any way?
-How does the history of this world impact your characters’ present? Do the actions of the characters ancestors impact who they are today? How does your character feel about the history of the world?
-Describe the type of government in power. Democracy? Monarchy? Anarchy? How does the government affect the day to day lives of your characters?
-Share a campaign ad / brochure/ propaganda
-Write an op-ed piece about an important political issue in your world
-Highlight an important historical or political figure in your world
-Write about your main character’s political views.
-Show us the flag of the nation in your world

Wednesday 1/30
Religion and/or magic

I don't have to tell you that beliefs can shape our worlds and our characters. And if your world has fantasy elements, you may have to even re-write some of the laws of physics for your world. 

Post ideas:
-Describe the religious beliefs in your world. Do they believe in God? An afterlife?
-If an afterlife exists, tell us what lies in the great hereafter.
-Highlight a/the God from your world
-Share an excerpt from a religious text, prayer, or song
-Describe a religious/spiritual/magical ceremony
-Is there more than one religion in your world? How are they different? How do they get along?
-If magic exists in your world, what are it's limitations?
-Describe how to conduct a magic spell in your world
-Highlight a magical creature in your world. What powers does it have?
-How does the beliefs of your world impact your story and your characters? How would they be different if they had different beliefs?


Thursday 1/31
Food, Drink, Holidays, & Culture

Let's have some fun today! It's time to party in the style of your world.

Post ideas:
-Tell us about a holiday from your world. How is it celebrated?
-Tell us about a popular dish or even a recipe.
-Tell us about a popular drink in your world.
-Describe the common attire for the people in your world.
-Does your world have music? Art? Dance? Tell us about it.
-If your world has television, what is the most highly rated show? Why is it popular? You could do the same with a popular book, movie, song, or pop icon.
-How do the people of your world celebrate birthdays, weddings, or funerals?
-Create an product advertisement that might exist in your world.

Friday 2/1
Worldbuilding Excerpt

Post an excerpt from your novel that highlights your world-building. Even if you don't wish to enter the contest portion, please post just to share. For the contest, I'll ask for 1000 words or less, but for the blogfest, you can post whatever you like.

More inspiration!





Friday, January 18, 2013

First Page Critique - Untitled Fantasy WIP



As I mentioned in my last post, I also post on the group blog unicornbell.blogspot.com, and last week I critiqued queries and first pages and ran out of time. So, I've moved them here. Today, I have my final and most patient volunteer with the first page of his untitled fantasy WIP (at least, he didn't tell me the title ;)).

Here's how it works. I provide my feedback, then, you comment to share your feedback too.

Thanks for your help!

His consciousness returned slowly.
I think you could do better for your first sentence. I would love something more visual and concrete. When he regains consciousness, what's the first thing he sees/ feels/ smells/ hears? Also starting a book with the character waking up is considered cliche. I know this because I tried it once and got reamed. :)  The sun beat down brilliantly from a cloudless sky, it was hot. For a blessed moment he couldn’t remember what had happened. He moved his head first left, than right. The first movements caused pain so intense, He thought he’d pass out again. What he saw when he looked left pushed a wave of horror through his soul. To me "wave of horror through his soul" is a little cliche or melodramatic. What about something more tangible? For example, "What he saw when he looked left filled his mouth with bile." And what does he actually see when he looks to his left? You never say! :)

He remembered that morning.


He
had assembled his unit, 250 swords and spears, armour glistening red in dawn’s light. They were fit and ready. King Arougia had assembled his troops wisely, picking a solid defensive line at the top of a steep ridge. With breath visible in the cool light of dawn, we had watched them approach.

Torggil had never seen so many, nor so much steel. Their distant banners snapped in the wind, he counted 43 separate banners, the invaders brought all the noble houses of invading Zarin to the valley floor. Even from here, their army seemed immense.

Torggil remembered looking down his kingdom’s assembled host, and though his unit was virtually front and centre, the 15 000 assembled to fight this day by his King seemed suddenly inadequate. Yet, they were here. To defend their Kingdom from this invading army

From between the ranks of the assembled foot soldiers, and in orderly fashion, archers ran to form ranks three deep stretching across the whole of Arougia’s line. Pointing downhill, the range of our bows would not be matched by the enemy in the valley. Even knowing repeated storms of arrows from the 3000 archers would rain down upon any enemy uphill charge, it did not make him feel any easier.

A faint scent of fear seemed to blow across the ranks.
Fear doesn't smell like anything, so I can't really visualize this. What actually happens so we know they are afraid? Does it grow extra quiet? Does he hear people muttering prayer?


No, no, not fear. That’s blood. And Shit. I can visualize those smells, but this transition is confusing. Now we're back in the present when he's smelling this, so I don't see the connection.  Torggil opened his eyes, more slowly. Night. His eyes were not assaulted. Pain washed through him as he moved his head, but not near as bad. Okay you lose me in this last paragraph. Now it's night? What happened to the blinding sun? 

I encourage you to consider re-writing this first page and making it an immediate scene. Instead of him thinking back about the battle, why not start in the battle? Or start him in the aftermath but don't have him reminiscing so early in the story, just keep him in the present, waking up on the battlefield and then whatever happens from there. Even something that happened yesterday is "backstory" and in most cases you really don't want much backstory on page one, or even in the first 10 pages or more. You want to immediately immerse your reader in the world with visual and concrete details in an immediate scene.

I was interested in what was going on with him in the first paragraph, and I would have liked to stay with him when he wakes up on the battlefield and experienced what he saw and felt.

---


Now it's your turn! Please provide your critique. Here is the uninterrupted version:


His consciousness returned slowly. The sun beat down brilliantly from a cloudless sky, it was hot. For a blessed moment he couldn’t remember what had happened. He moved his head first left, than right. The first movements caused pain so intense, He thought he’d pass out again. What he saw when he looked left pushed a wave of horror through his soul.

He remembered that morning.


He assembled his unit, 250 swords and spears, armour glistening red in dawn’s light. They were fit and ready. King Arougia had assembled his troops wisely, picking a solid defensive line at the top of a steep ridge. With breath visible in the cool light of dawn, we watched them approach.

Torggil had never seen so many, nor so much steel. Their distant banners snapped in the wind, he counted 43 separate banners, the invaders brought all the noble houses of invading Zarin to the valley floor. Even from here, their army seemed immense.

Torggil remembered looking down his kingdom’s assembled host, and though his unit was virtually front and centre, the 15 000 assembled to fight this day by his King seemed suddenly inadequate. Yet, they were here. To defend their Kingdom from this invading army

From between the ranks of the assembled foot soldiers, and in orderly fashion, archers ran to form ranks three deep stretching across the whole of Arougia’s line. Pointing downhill, the range of our bows would not be matched by the enemy in the valley. Even knowing repeated storms of arrows from the 3000 archers would rain down upon any enemy uphill charge, it did not make him feel any easier.

A faint scent of fear seemed to blow across the ranks.


No, no, not fear. That’s blood. And Shit. Torggil opened his eyes, more slowly. Night. His eyes were not assaulted. Pain washed through him as he moved his head, but not near as bad.