Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Road to Zard Kuh. (Part I)

The soldiers of Temna were exhausted but they couldn't rest. Dacia's forces continued after them like a band of howling demons. As dusk faded into darkness, Sorenan looked at them from the dunes. General Zalaz knelt beside him. As they looked at the watch fires gleaming in the dark, the pair considered their tactical options. "You don't need to lead them personally," Zalaz said, "I have men who can do this."

Sorenan nodded. "I'm sick of riding and doing nothing. I have the men and the experience," the Lion of the North said, "For the past three nights, you've sent in your own men. Now, I am bringing mine. I expect we'll cut a good sized swath through them before they get organized enough to come after us." Zalaz frowned.

"And how do you expect to get out?" he said, "The plan is hit them and fall back." Sorenan nodded. "Don't you start doing the madman's errand too," Zalaz warned Sorenan. Marcos had turned bold to the point where Zalaz wasn't sure if he was quite in his right mind. Sorenan, however, remained sober and solemn. He was focused enough that he was generally able to talk Marcos out of some of his more rash ideas. Zalaz was fairly sure that Marcos's problem was that he was god bothered. Ashur was not known for being careful with his chosen and old stories spoke of priests that descended into madness before walking out into the desert to seek the god of the eagles. Zalaz was concerned that his emperor was upon such a path.

Sorenan reached over and clapped Zalaz on the shoulder. "Don't worry," he said, "We'll get out. If nothing more, because Theon wants to get back to his drinking." Zalaz scoffed at Sorenan's mention of his band mate. Theon was quickly reaching semi-legendary status with his capacity to drink and remain clear headed. Despite Sorenan's warnings of the big man's temper, Theon had proven remarkably well suited to the work of serving as part of the emperor's personal guard. Sorenan stood up and moved down the dune to where the man in question stood waiting.

Theon's curly black hair looked to be the color of pure darkness in the wan light of the triple moons. His eyes were otherworldly in their darkness, giving him an ominous air. It was a thing that made some of the rank and file soldiers of Dacia's army uneasy around him after the sun had set. Between the whispers that passed through in the wake of Sorenan's battle prowess and Theon's appearance, the pair frequently found themselves being avoided or having battle hardened soldiers making subtle warding gestures against evil when they passed. Sorenan was annoyed with it but Theon was amused.

His great booming laugh often followed the superstitious gestures, making people all the more unsettled. Now, however, Theon's expression was sober. Sorenan noted that Theon had gathered the others from their company. All dressed in dark colors, they blended shockingly well into the dark colored sands under the cover of night. "We go around from the west," Sorenan said, "Stay together. We want to get in  at least three rings of their encampment before we fall back. I want to take down a few of their captains."

"Three rings is pretty deep," Theon said. The fresh faced man at his right opened his mouth to make a crude remark when Theon fixed him with a dark look. "What if alarm is raised faster than you expect it?" Theon said. Sorenan gave a quick grin. Theon shook his head with a look of disbelief. "This is a stupid plan," he said, "This is a really stupid plan."

Sorenan motioned them forward. The party of eight men moved around the western flank of Temna's army. As they observed the guards, a pattern to their watch emerged. Silently, Sorenan motioned them forward. Passing between the guards when their backs were turned, Sorenan's party penetrated Temna's outer most defense. They moved with apparent ease and command through the soldiers who were bedded down for their rest. They passed the first ring of fires with out challenge. As they reached the second, a few eyes looked up at them.

Looking to be the mercenary party that they had always been, they were ignored. At the third ring of fires, Sorenan spotted a few captains lounging at their ease. One of them sat up at Sorenan's approach. "What news is there from the guard?" he said lazily. Sorenan walked up to the black haired man. He leaned down, as though to speak with him, while his men came to the fire in apparent desire for the warmth and light. Shielded from the view of the second and third captains of Temna, Sorenan parted the throat of the first. What would have been a scream came out as a breathy gurgle as Sorenan looked about himself.

His men dispatched the other two at the fireside with equal stealth. Soon, they were bundled up in their blankets and seemed asleep at the fire. Theon motioned Sorenan over as they moved towards the next fire. Theon muttered to Sorenan, "Stay back out of the light." Theon then lead the remainder of the party into the circle of the second fire. Their fight was quick. The second trio gave more resistance but not enough to draw the attention of others around them. Sorenan motioned towards the third and Theon shook his head.

Sorenan wanted to cut a few more of them down but decided that Theon probably had the better idea. With all the same air of confidence as their entrance held, Sorenan and his party found their way out of the camp. They were a short distance past the edge of the perimeter when a cry went up. The warriors of Dacia ran. When they reached the dune closest to their own camp, Sorenan paused and looked back. A knot of points of light was seen moving around where they had penetrated the encampment. Sorenan watched the searchers of Temna in their desperate effort to find who had killed their number. Sorenan was about to consider his work done when he saw a few of those points of light move out away from the encampment along the path that his party had followed.

Theon stood at Sorenan's side and spat in the direction of the searchers. "Told you this was a stupid idea," he said. Sorenan looked over at him. "This isn't the mountains," Theon said, "Sound will carry." Sorenan's quick grin returned. Theon shook his head but readied his weapons. At the fact that their leaders weren't moving with them, the rest of Sorenan's band doubled back. Drawing their own weapons, they waited. "There's going to be more than six of them," Theon said, counting the points of light bobbing as their pursuer's moved along the sands.

"Good," Sorenan said, "Then you'll get a few after all." Theon scoffed. The men from Temna soon had reached them. Their party was of almost twelve. When Theon saw the number, he spat at the ground near Sorenan's feet, silently conveying he blamed Sorenan for their ill luck. There was no time for anything more. In the dark, the men of Dacia clashed with the men of Temna in brutal fashion. The soldiers of Temna were not as experienced as the mercenaries cum guardsmen that they fought. Though they were out numbered, Sorenan's men managed to strike mighty blows on their foes.

An impasse arose between the two groups. And then Zalaz's party arrived. The warriors of Temna were cut down like grass before a scythe. Zalaz walked up to Sorenan, glowering. "Was that your idea of clean work?" he demanded. Sorenan's expression sobered. "What in the black sands are you trying to do?" Zalaz hissed, "Scratching your itch could have opened our flank up to trouble, and you know it."

Sorenan raised his hand and tipped his head slightly to the right. A sound came from over the sands to the east that didn't meet those of the night that he heard earlier. They looked towards Zard Kuh, a squat mountain that stood like a hulking creature. Sand was blown towards them from the mountain's direction. The noise of a catastrophic crash in the distance awakened the forces of Temna and Dacia alike. Where Temna's men scrambled for weapons and some looked towards the mountain agog with confusion, Dacia's arose with their weapons in hand.

Zalaz looked over and noticed that the encampment behind him was abuzz with activity. "Now for part two," Sorenan said to Zalaz, clapping him on the shoulder. Zalaz watched Sorenan walk into the encampment with confused irritation. Little did he know that Sorenan and Marcos knew that Zard Kuh was to awaken and that he stood on the even of a slaughter beneath the Mother moon and her children's eyes.

Craft of Writing: Editing.

To steal an expression from my country's armed forces and manhandle it a bit, editing is weakness leaving the manuscript. It is very tempting to declare that first draft complete when you finish the last sentence. It is painful at times to step back when you're riding that emotional high. But step back, you must, for the sake of your work.

I have a friend who is very good at editing. She understands the importance of this step to our craft. At one point, I was struggling in the editing process on a manuscript. I began to complain about how much non-fun was happening. Then she reminded me that the goal of editing is not fun. It can be fun, but the goal is not to have fun. The goal is to refine your work and prepare it for your audience. It can be hard work. It is tempting to invert Hemingway's wisdom and edit whilst drunk in an attempt to dull the pain of it. (Do not ever, EVER do this. I did it once and the results were horrific.)

It may be apparent that 99% of my blog posts are unedited. It probably is not as professional as I can be but it is in keeping with my casual style. If you look through my serial story, you will find little errors here and there. I know that I have some misspellings littered through my work. And my grammar is not as good as it once was. (One thing that writing 3 or more collegiate level papers a week is good for is keeping your grammar on point. The other thing it is good for is boosting your word count for typing sessions. It is, however, a lot of work and kinda painful.)

I may skip the editing on my blog posts because I just want to get the work out there as quickly as possible, but I don't take that approach with my manuscripts. Blog posts are like what I whip off in a journal or a notebook. The ideas are cobbled together quickly and my focus is more on getting the concepts down before I lose them rather than crafting the best sentence I can. In many ways, this is how I approach rough drafts. After that draft is finished, however, the game changes.

Once you have your ideas down, it becomes time to polish them and make them easier to read. Sometimes this will be difficult. Taking technical writing and turning it into something for the general populace is very hard, especially if there is a lot of specialized language. Other times, it will be easier. Editing a 5 line poem in blank verse takes me about 15 minutes, at most. The common point between both extremes is that the focus of editing is to take what you have written and make it better.

No one has ever written something that was perfect on their first try. If someone is trying to sell you on the idea that your rough draft is perfect, be wary. Especially if they are claiming to be a professional. It takes multiple rounds of editing to smooth out the rough edges of your work and polish it up so that it shines with all its own unique glory. If you have a deadline to worry about, make sure you factor in time for editing. Trust me, you will not regret it. If you don't have a deadline to worry about, take your time and go over your work closely. And when you have reached a point where you feel like you are finished, grab a friend to look it over. It will take a couple rounds of this process to get your work to the best level.

The other half of the editing coin is rewriting. It is a little more fun. If editing is the act of cutting apart your darling and taking parts out, rewriting is act of putting new parts in and putting your darling back together better than before. It is part slasher flick and part mad scientist flick, if you're looking at it in terms of horror movies. But hopefully with a lot less screaming. I'll talk more about the mad scientist element of working on your manuscript in another post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stuck, aka Author vs Writer's Block round 4,672!

It has been several days and I am struggling to write pretty much anything. I have this thing where I have to write something every day. If I don't do it, I get cranky and generally unpleasant to be around. I am pretty sure it is something to do with how writing helps me manage my problems with anxiety and such. Still, writer's block happens from time to time. It appears that after the writing fest of NaNoWriMo, my old nemesis has arrived to rain on my parade.

I suspect it is because I have been sliding into another depressive episode. I don't like it when my Bipolar gets in the way of the rest of my life. This makes so very many things difficult. I keep trying to press forward despite it but sometimes I find myself feeling discouraged and hopeless. At the moment, I am struggling with that feeling. I suppose acknowledging that I am struggling is a step towards resolving the problems created. At the same time, I feel like nothing good is going to come from this.

Now, you, my dear Reader, may question why I am making this revelation. To be honest, I am not entirely sure myself. I sat down intending to state that I am attempting to resolve a bit of writer's block and it turned into something more. Some of you may be struggling with writer's block right now also. Some of you may have another sort of creative block. Or perhaps you are feeling like your work is not good enough to see the light of day. Gods know I struggle with that one on a daily basis as well.

I know, however, that persistence is key to overcoming this kind of slump. Sometimes the question of what we personally view as quality output needs to be set on the back burner. At times, we just need to focus on producing something. Several people who I have read that wrote about the creative process cal this type of activity despite the pull of inertia things like 'priming the pump' or 'chopping wood and carrying water.' It is a practice of determination and discipline.

Even though I feel like the work I am producing right now is utter garbage, I continue to write. I just don't post it here (or on any of my other blogs) because I have very low confidence in it. Usually, when this kind of thing strikes, my writing goes off-line and my hands get writer's cramp from the volume of paper journaling I do. The nice thing about keeping an old fashioned journal is that I can put it somewhere private where no one sees it unless I want them to. That kind of privacy makes it easier for me to give myself permission to write poorly.

That is the other half of overcoming writer's block. Allowing yourself to produce work that doesn't meet your typical standard feels counter-intuitive. Or at least it does for me. (I am something of a perfectionist, so this is something I struggle with in pretty much all areas of my life.) Producing what you feel is 'bad work' somewhere that you can control access to it makes the act of producing it easier. You don't get as much of an opportunity to be anxious over someone judging it because you are the only one who sees it.

Lowering standards of performance is very hard to do for me. It may be for you as well. Something that my therapist taught me was that the temporary relaxation of high standards leads to a better ability to meet said standards at other times. I thought it sounded somewhat weird until I gave it a try. I still struggle with the feeling that every word must be a perfectly crafted thing with all the emotional nuances and shades of a masterful tone poem from Liszt or another composer of legendary stature. It is not fun to fight myself on these things.

My therapist has asked me why I continue to write when I feel like I shouldn't and when I don't feel like it is fun. It really throws her for a loop when I say that I have to do it because it is what I am. Writing is as much a part of my identity as the color of my hair, my favorite food, or my ability to mess up telling a joke nine times out of ten attempts. Some days, I don't like myself. I look in the mirror and I feel awful about what I see there. I have problems getting things done and I feel like I am the village idiot for having those difficulties. It is something that happens but those struggles don't change the fact that I am what and who I am.

I write because I am a writer. Writer's block, depression, anxiety, or any number of other hindrances to getting the words on the page doesn't change the fact that I feel that I must do it. It doesn't change the fact that I still have worlds inside my head that I want to put on paper before I depart this one. My work on a few days being poor doesn't make the rest of it bad. It just means that it is something I need to improve with some editing.

And, honestly, that is ok.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Some rambling thoughts.

So, I was in the midst of writing at the laundromat earlier this week. As I was doing so, I noticed that I was the only person there doing something productive, aside from washing clothes. Everyone else was talking on their phones, watching movies on their tablets, or something similar. It struck me as odd. Then my laundry needed put in the dryer and I decided I wasn't going to worry about it anymore.

No thinking about it didn't work out so well for me. I found myself going back to that moment during my idle moments through the day today. I sat here and asked myself questions about why it happened and what I felt about it. The more I considered it, the more I came to the conclusion that it was a difference between active and passive entertainment. While I am not one to go out and play sports, I write and I make stuff. My hobbies are numerous and allow me to have a robust post-apocalyptic skill set that would allow my family to survive pretty much anything, with a little effort. I am not active in the way that most people think of active entertainment. But the act of making things (and writing counts as making stuff, in my opinion) is something that we use our brains for and it makes the entertainment more of an active participation rather than passive observation.

And then there was the other random thing that came to mind last night as I was getting ready for bed. (I think this is when our brain ambushes us with stuff it was cogitating during the day. It always seems to happen to me.) I found myself thinking about characters and how they seem to come alive in my mind. I don't know about any of the other authors who are following my blog. I know that for myself, the stories don't really get any legs to them until the characters have moved from two dimensional background images to three dimensional egregores. I reach a point where I can't predict what a character is going to do in a given situation. I just find myself either a hapless observer or a strange participant in the story.

There are many scenes in the Umbrel Chronicles that I found myself as a bit player on the side. It made the vision of the scene and all the other sensory input even more intense. I could close my eyes and literally see the setting as though I was standing there. With a little concentration, I could smell the scents of the place and hear the noises of it. Indeed, there are times where I can even get some measure of textural or taste related concepts out of it. It doesn't happen all the time when I'm writing but it does so frequently enough that I sometimes wonder if I am quietly going mad.

I have noticed, however, every time I find myself at a place mentally where the character sasses me back or the setting has become 'real' that my writing is better for it. I don't honestly know how much of this comes out of my rather fractured psyche and how much of it comes out of my tendency to be very strongly based in the imaginative side of my mind. (It makes anxiety attacks wonderful fun, let me tell you. [/ sarcasm]) I have talked to my therapist about stuff and she assures me that I'm not going crazy, but these incidents happen and I question that.

On the writing front, I am presently taking a little bit of a break from working on book six. I clocked in just shy of 70k for my word count over the month of November when all was said and done. You'd figure with a high word count like that, I would have finished going through my plot map. It would be nice if it worked out like that this time.

Instead, I am sitting here squarely in the middle of it trying to determine how to get to the next major scene in a logical fashion. I worry that my rough draft is going to end with some insanely high number for the word count. A friend of mine suggested that it may need to be split into two books. I don't know how I feel about that idea. It is a logical one, but a part of me wants to keep the whole story together in one volume. I just have no idea how I am going to manage it.

It has me thinking that having multiple plot lines running through the series may not have been the best way to write this. But, it is the only one that makes sense to me, thus I continue. I am, however, wondering if that was a tactical error.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Desert's Edge

Sorenan sat upon his black horse and looked down the line. Soldiers who ranged in experience from their first time handling a true weapon to those who had killed almost as many as he had stood in the ranks. Marcos sat upon his white horse in his gleaming white armor. With the former mercenary in black, the pair were an unexpected sight. They had ridden along the length of the line. Marcos gave his speech urging them to courage and fearlessness. It was an passionate speech that Sorenan was surprised by. He had not anticipated Marcos as the spontaneous orator, yet that was precisely what has just happened. And Marcos's impromptu speech roused cheers from his men.

And then they moved forward. Sorenan was surprised by the quietness of their approach. A force so large, he was sure they would have made enough noise to be noticed. Still, they had reached the rise at the edge of Temna's encampment with out any incident. Now, the sun was due to rise at their backs. They awaited the breaking of true dawn to attack. Someone somewhere to Sorenan's left coughed. Small noises of men waiting for combat sounded loud to him. To Sorenan, the world had taken on a sharp clarity that made him feel as though if he wanted he could count the grains of sand. The purple of night fading in the west made him think of the sash that General Zalaz had given him.

Where Marcos wore his sash at his waist over his armor, Sorenan chose not to. He attempted to make Marcos see the danger of wearing it, to understand how someone could grapple him and pull him from his horse with it. Marcos merely replied that Ashur would protect him. Sorenan gave up the argument at that answer. So, he considered his options for how to remain close to help Marcos when trouble came but still be effective in combat. Ideas raced through his mind as he watched the skies lighten.

Sorenan felt more than he saw the first rays of sunlight cutting through the twilight gloom. He drew his sword and raised it skyward. Acting on pure instinct, Sorenan gave a mighty roar. The cry was caught by the others. Even Marcos gave a savage sounding battle cry. With that cry, the entire force moved forward. On the other side of the rise, the army of Temna was in the midst of preparing for their daily march when they heard to cry of the army of Dacia.

When Dacia's forces swept over the rise and fell upon them, it was pure chaos in Temna's camp. Sorenan and Marcos rode at the forward edge of the wave of men. As they trampled Temna's foot soldiers beneath their horses and hacked other men down, at the inner most portion of the camp, Temna's general, the sons of Omauranth, and the raider Althar armed themselves and shouted orders to their men. When it became apparent that Dacia's forces were still surging forward despite the defenses that were being mounted, the general turned to his companions.

"We must withdraw," he said, "We lose too many if we do not. I do not think this is their full force. We have others behind us. We must join them." The three sons of the bane of Julara's daughter grew angry at the suggestion of retreat. As they began to argue, Althar took up his horn. It was only a brief look he gave the general but in it he sought and received confirmation to sound the call for retreat. He blew the call and others of rank took it up. Soon, the surprised army was divided. A body of men continued to engage Temna's warriors.

As the others fled, Marcos noted the direction they ran. They passed southward. He grinned. And then a hand gripped the sash about his waist. It pulled in an attempt to unhorse him. The sash untied itself. The man was in the midst of throwing it aside when Marcos's sword flashed. It cut through the attacker's forearm. With a scream, the man watched as his hand flew from him, still holding the royal purple sash as it moved along the path he was attempting to cast it. He gripped his arm and Marcos cut again. This time, a great blow struck the man's neck. With a gurgling noise, the man staggered back.

Sorenan, who had been divided from Marcos in the chaos of battle, looked about himself. He realized that the battle was won almost as quickly as it began. He saw Temna's men fleeing and considered leading a body of men in pursuit. Looking for Marcos, he watched as the incident with the sash happened. Sorenan shook his head with amazement. As a soldier of Temna desperately threw himself at Sorenan, the warrior pulled hard on his mount's reins. The horse reared up and kicked. The man, who was struck in the head, dropped to the ground. When Sorenan's horse was again upon the ground, the man had begun to twitch from his head injury. Sorenan recognized it as a sign of a fatal blow to the head and turned his attention away.

He found Marcos striking down a man who attempted to grab the reins of his horse from his hand. With a sharp turn to the left and a swift strike, the would be assailant was grievously injured. He slumped to the ground as Marcos wheeled his horse around in a tight circle. Finding that the majority of Temna's remaining force was subdued, he looked for Sorenan. When Marcos saw him, he raised his bloodied sword in salute. The rush of combat gave Marcos an almost drugged feeling. He threw back his head and howled. Others around him echoed that cry or gave their own cheer of victory.

Sorenan rode over to Marcos who was alight with victory's joy. "Don't get cocky," Sorenan warned Marcos with a half smirk, "You may be Emperor and such, but you've still got the rest of the war to fight." Marcos laughed. He looked back towards the direction they had come. General Zalaz had arrived with the reinforcements to discover they were not necessary. He looked over the field and nodded with approval that more of Dacia's men were standing than he had anticipated.

"It seems," Zalaz shouted as he rode over to the sword-bearers of Ashur, "that your plan worked." Sorenan shrugged. "What of the rest?" he asked. Marcos looked over, the wild light of excitement from being victorious in his first true battle dropped out of his face. A look of something grim replaced it. Zalaz recognized the look. It was one he had seen on many a man when they were on the hunt of something wretched.

"South," Marcos said, "I do not think you were right. I think they have reserves waiting as well." Zalaz looked in the direction Marcos had mentioned. Open warfare in the desert was not something he had wanted to engage. He did not like the idea of trading their chariots for a force that was strictly mounted. As Zalaz's expression turned calculating, Sorenan coughed. The other two men looked over at him.

"They move towards the black sands," Sorenan said, "Zeguma stands on the edge of there. They will need support if Temna goes any farther east in their route. I don't know how we're going to out run them." Zalaz thought about the mountain of Zard Kuh and the creature rumored to live within it. As he considered these things, Sorenan looked at him expectantly.

"They can not run faster than us. They have more wounded with them. They are more weary than we are. At best, they will be a day ahead of us," Zalaz said, "If we drive them to Zard Kuh's western flank, We may have a chance of keeping Zeguma out of the fray." Zalaz found himself wondering if they were serving as Ashur's hand yet again. He questioned why the forces of Temna were to be driven into the black sands. His head filled with these uncomfortable thoughts, Zalaz moved off to find his field generals and their sergeants to get reports of how they fared this morning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

False Dawn.

Sorenan woke at the noise of someone moving in the tent he shared with Marcos. He reached a hand up to the knife he had beneath the folded cloak he used as a pillow on his cot. As he did so, he watched the shadows, searching for the interloper. After a moment, he found them standing near the cot that Marcos was sleeping on. They stood over the unconscious man for a long moment before producing something from beneath their cloak.

Sorenan rolled off the cot and crossed the space between himself and the man with his back to him on cat's feet. Seizing the man's hair and pulling his head back in a violently swift gesture, Sorenan brought his knife up and put it to his prisoner's throat. "One noise and you're dead," he muttered in the man's ear. The would be assassin moved his arm slightly. Sorenan put pressure on the blade and the man went still. "Who sent you?" he demanded. The man he had captured said nothing.

Before them, Marcos had awakened and watched the sight above him. As the man who was going to kill him tried to stealthily position himself to stab Sorenan, Marcos sat up and wrenched the knife out of his hand. The man made an awkward noise of surprise. Sorenan looked at Marcos. "I don't think he has a tongue," he said. Marcos nodded. "Get rid of him?" Sorenan asked. Marcos nodded again.
Sorenan roughly turned himself and his prisoner so that they were facing the entrance of the tent. As he slit the man's throat, Marcos rose to his feet.

Marcos quietly moved to the flap of the tend and looked out. Laying on the ground, lifeless and in pools of their own blood, the guards stared unseeingly up at the sky. It was nearly time for false dawn to break over the horizon. As he looked about the encampment, he could hear the noises of people beginning to stir. "How do you think he got this close?" Marcos said. Sorenan nudged the body of the assassin on the ground with his foot.

"Probably killed one of the foot soldiers and made his way through the camp under false pretense," the mercenary said. He sat down on his cot and picked up his boots. Sorenan turned them over to dump out any insects or small creatures that crawled in during the night. As he shook the boots to make sure they were empty, he listened to Marcos across the tent. It was their eight night on the march. Sorenan was pleasantly surprised by how Marcos took to the rigors of march. Marcos approached the sparse conditions with a calm acceptance that Sorenan had not expected.

As their forces moved towards the sand plain, General Zalaz had constant reports from his underlings. The scouts out ahead of them had sent word that the Temna encampment had been seen. While Sorenan thought that a night time excursion into the camp would have been an excellent way to cut down Temna's numbers, the General and Marcos decided against it. Sorenan was fairly certain that they were going to meet the enemy that day. The air had the charged feeling it did before he engaged foes. He couldn't explain how he knew it was going to happen, only that all the world seemed to take on a sharper edge and more vivid sensations as he drew closer to combat.

With out the assistance of servants, Sorenan put on his armor. When he was finished, he helped Marcos into his own. When they emerged from the tent, the guards who were to relieve the dead men had arrived and were beginning to call for the general. When Sorenan and Marcos emerged unharmed, the guards calmed. "Get rid of the bodies," Sorenan said. The guards acknowledged his order as one of Marcos's servants approached, surprised that the pair were awake early. When the servant spotted the corpses, his expression was one of shock and horror.

The sword bearers of Ashur ignored the servant's expression and went in search of General Zalaz. They found him talking quietly with one of his sergeants. As the black haired man looked over, he rose. "They have found the invasion force," Zalaz said, "Word has been put through the camp that all are to awake. We're going to hit them at daybreak before they have had a chance to gather their wits." Sorenan looked over at Marcos, curious as to what the priest-king and Emperor of Dacia would say.

"The sand plains behind them are going to be rough ground for the chariots to go over," he said. Zalaz nodded. "How are we going to force them to go south?" Marcos asked. Zalaz looked over as a captain was giving orders to one of his men. He watched the pair separate and spread word of his orders to yet more people.

"The plan it to have not enough of them left alive to be worth driving south into the black sands," Zalaz said. Marcos scratched at his jaw. His beard was nothing impressive. While he preferred to keep his face more cleanly shaven, Marcos ignored his growing beard in favor of focusing on making time to plot strategy with Zalaz and Sorenan. "Are you sure that you want to lead the main force forward?" Zalaz said, looking over at the two men at his side.

"Yes," Marcos said, "It is Ashur's will." Zalaz shook his head. He didn't like the idea of Marcos standing on the front line. He had protested against it for the last three days. Marcos, however, refused to acquiesce to Zalaz's concerns. Sorenan said nothing on the matter, deciding that his place was to protect Marcos's back, where ever he stood in the battle.

Author's note: I'm not particularly happy with how this installment came out. I apologize for how rough it is. Try as I may, however, this is the best I can manage. Hopefully next week's installment will be better.

NaNoWriMo Update!

Hello dear Reader!

It has been a long while since I posted. Part of my silence was due to fevered work on book six. Part of it was due to my being sick all last week. It lead to some awkward writing on the manuscript. I think, however, I managed to make sense despite the loopy state I was in. I am not going to worry about that though because the first draft is all about getting the ideas down. Amusingly, I have met the word count goal for NaNoWriMo but I'm only halfway through my plot.

It has been rough work writing these scenes. I have reached a point where the heroes are forced to sit back and watch as things go horribly wrong. It feels bad to write these things, especially in the light of all the horrific things that have happened in the world over the course of last weekend. A friend of mine noted, however, that this simply means that I was more conscious of the horror of what I was writing. While that makes sense, I still feel a bit guilty doing terrible things to my characters right now.

Moving forward, I anticipate completing the first draft of the manuscript around Thanksgiving, if I can keep working on schedule. Since the pressing task of meeting the NaNoWriMo word count is complete, I can relax a little bit and do some more blogging. As a result, I hope to get more work in before I have to get into the whirlwind of finishing up Yule presents for friends and family. Still, I am making progress at a good rate despite the challenges over the last few weeks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

And so it begins.

I have been working on book six for a few weeks now. With the start of NaNoWriMo, I've been a little extra focused on it. It is hard to get good writing time in with small children in the house. The act of disciplining myself to sit at the desk and work while they are at school has been hard for me. Over the last few days, however, I have been making progress. I have just about 10k words to show for about 8 hours of work. My goal is to get my hourly word count higher. Adjusting to the keyboard on this laptop has been a bit more challenging than I thought.

Still, I am at work and trying to get the story written out before the holidays hit in full force. I think the biggest challenge I am facing right now is resisting the temptation to screw around on Youtube and Facebook. Twitter hasn't caught my fancy quite as strongly as the other two. I am sure, however, at some point in this process it will prove as much of a time sink as the others.

Aside from the difficulties of staying on task, I have been slowed down some by the fact that I have to go back through the previous five books to make sure that everything for the scenes and characters match up properly. I think I lost about an hour today to just making sure I had three characters written correctly. I really should have started my note card system with the first book. It would have made this so much easier. I suppose it is something I can do once I get this manuscript finished.

As of this evening, my word count is standing at 20210. I may be able to eek out another one thousand words if I stay focused until it is time for me to head to bed. I lost count how many cups of coffee I had today. Maybe I'll start keeping a tally of that. Until tomorrow, I wish everyone taking on NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo the best of luck. Remember, you're not competing with anyone but yourself. And the word count is less important than telling the story.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Break in Posting.

Hi everyone,

I didn't want to do this, but I am going to have to take a break from posting. There is a lot of family stuff going on (like dentist appointments) that will be keeping me from my regular post schedule for the remainder of the week. I plan to be back with new material next Sunday.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Craft of Writing: Pushing through the block.

At some point in time, every writer encounters the dreaded writer's block. Some will give up at this point and wait for the inspiration to return. This can result in a delay that lasts anything from a few days to a few years, in severe cases. Not every writer, however, will run up the white flag when they hit this challenge.

Writing based off of inspiration is romanticized a lot in the media. They present the image of a passionate author penning their magnum opus in a fevered frenzy of inspiration. And then there is the tragic figure of the author who is languishing in dismay because their muse has abandoned them (which is a fancy way to describe writer's block). For some reason, this dichotomy has really captured the imagination of the world. It leaves aspiring authors with the impression that writing is an all or nothing affair.

Writer's block, however, is not a problem that will kill your beloved project. It is the lack of discipline to continue writing even when you're not feeling passionate about it that will destroy your dreams. The hardest part of writing is not editing or revisions. (Though they are truly rough at times, I will admit.) The hardest part, in my opinion, is sitting in the chair and writing when you have no heart invested in the story.

This kind of grueling affair is not for the faint of heart. Writing when there is no romance felt for the project is exhausting and emotionally draining. Some of us find ourselves heavily doubting our adequacy when we are in that stage of work. This is where giving yourself permission to write badly is important. It doesn't matter how good what you write is. All that matters is that you write.

Forcing yourself to write is really hard to do. In my case, it takes a lot of coffee and a big playlist of music to keep me focused. Some one else has different tricks to keep themselves focused on their work. But maintaining focus and discipline is what get you through. A 500 word essay can be just as hard to write as a 50k manuscript when you're not feeling any passion towards it.

Making yourself sit in the chair and do your work, however, is what gets you to your goal. It takes dogged determination and effort to push through writer's block. It takes being full of 'piss and vinegar' (as my Grandfather called it) to ignore the nice little story that the media sells us that we should waste away waiting for our inspiration to come back. Some people talk about having a muse. They describe writer's block as the muse abandoning them. The ones who push through the writer's block are the ones who grab that muse and chain them to the desk. The muse may not talk to you, but you force them to stay present.

Sure, it is not as fun as when the muse talks to you. But, sometimes, forcing your muse to stay with you results in the muse telling you stuff that is even better than what comes in the fever of inspiration. Roll up your shirt sleeves, grab your cup of coffee, your favorite writing tool, and get to it, folks. That story is waiting for you to push on through.

Food of Evandar: Journey Bread

The journey bread that is carried by travelers is based upon hardtack. Some journey bread had spices mixed into it prior to baking. It was generally reserved for the upper class. The hardtack that was carried for nobles was impressed with the crest of their house. The recipe given on The American Table is an excellent example of how hardtack is made. Just as in the history of our world, journey bread has been in use since antiquity.

Where hardtack is generally a pale cream color with a bit of browning from baking, journey bread is the color of cornbread. In place of sugar that is used in many recipes, honey is added. In the case of the recipe from The American Table, I would add a few tablespoons of liquid honey and reduce the amount of water added so that the dough was still the proper texture. The spices added varied from region to region.

Perhaps the most common is fireweed. The less potent spices imported from other regions are much like those of our world. Thus, cinnamon is known by the wealthy of Evandar, for example. While one may not want to put the combination of powdered chili pepper and cinnamon into their journey bread, cinnamon by itself would work well. Ginger is also used. Ginger is a popular spice in Evandar among the nobles and the wealthy. Folklore declares it to be an aphrodisiac, which is part of the reason why it is so popular. To have your journey bread take on the color of Evandari journey bread, you could replace a quantity of flour with cornmeal. Or you could add a little bit of food dye.

Journey bread is eaten like hardtack. It is generally not very flavorful and a fairly unpleasant meal. A heavy cracker-like bread, journey bread is usually used as a trencher to eat other foods on top of. This softens the journey bread and makes it more palatable.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Delayed Post.

I'm sorry folks. I've got the beginnings of a migraine going on. I've been struggling all day to get the brain power to post something here. It's not working out so well. I'll be posting the recommendations stuff this weekend. (Provided the migraine doesn't last two days like the last one did.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Flora et Fauna: Pictures - Beggar's Purse

I found my sketch book. *cue happy cheering* I would like to apologize for the poor quality of these sketches. I am not a very good artist. If someone who is a better artist than I am would be interested in helping me bring these posts about the wildlife and plants of Evandar to life, that would be fantastic. Right now, I can not offer much in monetary compensation. But, email me and we'll discuss it.

First images presented are those of Beggar's Purse. I didn't have my colored pencils on hand to provide color for the image. I apologize that these are in pencil. Pencil is the medium I have the most control over. I am hoping, however, to move to doing pen and ink sketches as I get better with my dip pen.

Locales: Graleryn

Graleryn is the smallest of the Seven Kingdoms that make up Evandar. Surrounded by the kingdom of Moesia, Graleryn is a land that lives under the constant threat of hostility. Once, Graleryn extended from the Rock east to the border of Ranyth. Moesia considers Graleryn a satellite kingdom. This leads to conflict between them at the High Council. Open hostilities between these two have not happened in a few generations. The war, however, is still remembered. Graleryn was not completely overrun by Moesia in that war because of the dangerous and wide rivers that lie on either side of it.

Graleryn is a kingdom divided as well. The northern portion of the small, but prosperous, kingdom is ruled by King Cagdas Agha. The southern portion of the kingdom as known as Gwohar and is ruled by Queen Asterith. Technically, these two rulers are wedded and the law of the land is divided between them. There is, however, sufficient tension between the two that Gwohar is recognized as a second seat upon the council in honor of Queen Asterith. This was a political move intended to bring greater stability into Graleryn. Thus far, it seems to be successful.

Graleryn is a region with rich lands. The warmer climate and very fertile fields allows the people of Graleryn to grow exotic produce and medicinals. The wealth of Graleryn comes from the trade of these products in the north of the kingdom and the sea trade in the port cities of the south of the kingdom. Graleryn is technically in an uneasy truce with Moesia but Queen Asterith seeks to regain the eastern lands they lost.

King Cadgas Agha, born of the line of the first king of Graleryn, only wishes to maintain peaceful relations with the surrounding kingdom. His grandfather, Cadgas the Wise, was the one who negotiated the truce with Moesia. Queen Asterith comes from a lineage that claims eastern lands as their due. In Graleryn, there is many petty nobles who lack lands but possess wealth due to skill in trade or ancestral wealth. The queen is descendant from one of the most powerful of these petty noble families.

King Cadgas Agha's power is not as far reaching as his Queen's. Thus, the representitives to the council have come under her power, giving her a double vote on the council.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On the banks of Is

Zafar had lain in the dungeon beneath Julara's temple for over a day. Sorenan was not sure what the additional time meant. The traitor had answered his questions and there was nothing more they could learn from him. The blond man walked along the river bank where the river passed through Dacia city. It was a sacred place that was where many gardens grew. With out their tenders, the gardens has begun to get a bit ragged as weeds invaded. Sorenan stopped beside a bunch of ornamental grass, passing his hand through the delicate blades.

They tickled the palm of his left hand but Sorenan paid the sensation no mind. He looked over the gardens of the nobles, not really seeing them. In his mind, Sorenan saw only the open desert with countless men marching across it. He struggled to think of how one would stop such a wave of humanity. The war with Temna didn't become real to him until Zafar described the sacking of Midthar. Now, the former mercenary questioned what he was going to do.

General Zalaz and Marcos had come to expect him to share some sort of his understanding of the art of war as they discussed fortifications, defenses, and maneuvers of the troops. His frustration with the seemingly endless waiting had turned to uncertainty for how he should proceed or what he could advise them. His skirmishes with his troop seemed inconsequential. A battle with ten or twenty men, Sorenan was confident he could plan and win. But when the men at his command numbered in the hundreds and thousands, Sorenan felt a little sick and unsure he could rise to the challenge.

It was in this frame of mind that Mina came to him. Sorenan half expected to see the dark eyes and dark skin of Julara when he saw her approaching. The white veils and robes with their girdle of braided silken cord that she had worn when Sorenan was lead by her to the chamber where Zafar was being tortured were replaced with Mina's customary black. At her waist, a silver girdle rested with a jeweled knife on her hip. It was something that she began to wear the day after it was apparent that war was coming. Within her black garments, Mina's pale skin seemed luminous and her green eyes shone with an almost eerie light.

A part of Sorenan wanted to breathe a sigh of relief that his lover was no longer godridden. He, however, couldn't shake the feeling that trouble was following in the wake of the High Priestess of Julara and Empress of Dacia. Sorenan turned to face her, sketching a half bow as she drew near. "Lady," he said, his tone sounding more solemn than he had intended. Mina stood at Sorenan's side and looked on the waters of the river Is.

"We are going to meet Temna on the sand plain," she said. Sorenan nodded, recalling that Zalaz had said such an action would help draw Temna's forces away from Dacia city. "You are to ride with Marcos," she continued, sounding tired and sorrowful. Sorenan reached over and took Mina's hand. "I didn't want this," she continued, "Mother has forced our hand. Even now, I feel her near. There is something more she would have me do, but I don't know what. Only that she told me to seek you."

Sorenan turned and looked intently into Mina's face. Lines of worry were etched about her eyes that he did not recall seeing before. Her typical expression of serene stillness was no longer present. Now, she seemed watchful and wary. "It has been too long since you have smiled," Sorenan said, reaching up to brush aside an errant lock of hair that had escaped the confines of her veil to lay upon her brow. Mina closed her eyes at the feeling of his fingertips against her skin. Gently, Sorenan cradled her right cheek in his hand.

"There is no reason for joy," Mina answered. Sorenan took her face into both hands and lightly turned it up so that he could gaze into her eyes when she opened them. "I will weep like Mother," Mina said, swallowing past the lump in her throat, "You and Marcos will..."

"Be carried through this by Ashur's will," Sorenan said, "And your tears will be joyful upon our return. The river Is is not only Julara's tears of sorrow."

Mina gave a shaky sigh. "I don't know what Ashur wants of me," Sorenan said, "But I trust in his might to carry us through this." Mina gave a weak smile.

"You trust them now?" she said with an air of forced lightness.

"What choice do I have?" Sorenan said, "They have both looked me in the eye and declared that I will serve. I am a mercenary, I go where my employers send me. Ashur and his wife send me to fight Temna."

Mina wrapped her arms about Sorenan's waist and put her head against his shoulder. "I don't want this," she said very quietly.

"This is not about what we want," he answered soothingly, "It is what is necessary. We must protect you and Dacia. And we shall do it well." Sorenan placed a kiss on the top of Mina's head. Muffled slightly by her head, he said, "Many will not come home after this. But I will bring him home alive to you. I promise." Quietly, Mina wept with her fear for her husband Marcos and the solemn man in her arms.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Delayed Post!

Today's Flora et Fauna post is delayed until Wednesday. I think I might have found my sketchbook. In the meantime, here is a quote from one of the future books.

The sons of Men stand as the shadows fall.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Craft of Writing: Writing with out a net.

I like to think of my plot maps and outlines as my safety net when I am writing. I can always check them to make sure that I am on track to hit all the key elements of the story I want to tell. They give me a feeling of security and make me more comfortable with the story. It is something that I find very gratifying and soothing. (Much of my writing comes with thereputic qualities for me.)

Sometimes, however, I write with out that safety net. I can not say that one method is better than the other on the terms of what is produced. I may be more comfortable with that safety net, but some times you have to do the uncomfortable thing to grow. I make it a practice to put aside time to write with out a plot all planned out. In that writing session, I follow the story as it develops. It becomes something like what a famous Ray Bradbury quote once said, "Plot is the footprints of your characters in the snow on their way to adventure." (I'm not 100% sure I got that quote right, but you get the feeling.)

It is sometimes exhilarating to be writing with out everything planned out. It is like riding a roller coaster and you have so many plot twists you suddenly come upon. It makes you a little giddy, a little dizzy, and maybe a little sick. I have days where I seek out that excitement because I'm tired of the stately pace of plotted work.

It is sometimes horrifying to be writing with out a net. You may find yourself struggling to come up with more material to continue the story. Or stuck with out a consistent thread to tie all of the work together. It may turn into jumbled stream of consciousness writing that lacks any logic and fails to tell a story. The efforts to wing a story may turn into something that you want to shove into a draw and refuse to acknowledge it ever existed.

In both cases, however, something valuable comes out of it. You gain more experience at your craft. You become stronger at coming up with plot elements and recognizing when phrases fit together right. You learn to relax your strict standards for the sake of telling the story. And you come away with the evidence that you can do this with out your safety net. It may not be much but this strengthens your confidence as a writer.

The wonderful thing about this is that you don't have to share your literary experiments with the world. In fact, it is a good thing to keep a separate place where you do your written experiments that you have complete control over what anyone sees. Making the act of literary experimentation a private thing, you give yourself the freedom to write badly with out any criticism. Regular forays into new and unfamiliar ground with writing techniques helps to breathe greater life and depth into your chosen work.

Screw your courage to the sticking place and do that high wire act of writing with out that net. You may fall, but you may also fly. And unlike a real high wire act, you don't have to worry about injuries after that fall. In the end, it is all a learning experience. And learning experiences are good.

Food of Evandar: Witch's Kiss

Witch's Kiss is a potent alcoholic beverage that is found predominantly in the mountain regions of Evandar. It is, however, something that can be found through out the seven kingdoms. Made from malted grain and aged in charred oak casks, Witch's Kiss has a base that is essentially identical to whiskey from our world. After the alcohol has aged properly, it is then infused with the spice Fireweed.

The flavor profile of Fireweed is a cross between that of hot pepper and cinnamon. To obtain something that is similar, infuse a quantity of whiskey with hot pepper followed by cinnamon. Take a fifth of high quality whiskey and transfer to a quart jar. Clean and remove the seeds from a jalapeƱo pepper and cut fine. Place the sliced pepper into the jar with the whiskey and place the lid on top. Place the jar in a cool, dark place (like a cupboard shelf) for three weeks.

Remove the jar from its place where it has been infusing. Strain the peppers out of the whiskey as you transfer it to another quart jar. Break a stick of cinnamon into several small pieces. Place them into a cheese cloth bag and add the bag to the jar with the whiskey. Cover the jar and place in a cool dark place. Allow this to infuse for three weeks. Remove the jar from where it has been infusing. Remove the cinnamon and pour the whiskey through a coffee filter to strain out fine particles before putting it into the container it will be kept in.

This is consumed by the shot glass but some will drink larger quantities, as will happen with hard liquor in a hard world.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Public Notice RE: Comments

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to make something crystal clear. You are welcome to comment on my posts. I moderate them to make sure that everything is respectful and above board. I would appreciate if people kept their comments on topic with what the post covers. That said, I recognize that sometimes it is hard to tell if a comment matches the topic. So, I try to keep that in mind with respect to what comments get posted up here.

That said, I do not take kindly to people using this platform to harass, belittle, or otherwise be a dick to people. It is one thing if you have something funny to say. Sometimes, vulgar humor is pretty funny. But, if it strikes me as offensive regardless of how well intentioned something is, I'm not giving you air time on my blog.

Additionally, if any sort of products, services, or other related material goes up on here, it is because I am posting it. If you want to recommend something to me or request a review of something, email me. I have an account that is set up to take messages just from my blogs. I check it every few days. (I'm actually going to do that right after I hit publish on this post.) I am not going to permit people to use the comments on my blog to bandy about some product or service. You don't get free advertising.

If you want to advertise, contact me. We can work out an arrangement. I'll even make sure that there is a Twitter post to the blog entry, provided you compensate me for it. You have any questions or comments about this, email me.

This is MY blog. My blog is a benevolent dictatorship. My word here is law. If you don't like it, don't post in the comments. In fact, I invite you to take my blog off of your reading list. Because if you can't respect me and my rules, I'm pretty sure you're not going to like what I post.

Promotional stuff & Recommendations.

Hi folks!

I don't have much to promote this week. As always, I request that you take the time to check out my books (titles given below). I also would be delighted if you took a moment to share my blog with anyone you think might be interested.

I do, however, have a few recommendations. Anyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year and is on Facebook should check out the unofficial NaNoWriMo group. They are a fantastic group of people and an endless well of ideas. This group is active all year and has great tips for writers of any genre. You get to rub elbows with successfully published authors from traditional to self-published. And they share some of the things that helped them succeed. There is also a great deal of silliness that happens. (Wait until you see the stuff with the elephants. It is adorable and hilarious all rolled together.)

I also recommend that you check out R.R. Virdi. He's more than just a great author. He is quick to encourage others to chase their dreams. He is always encouraging others to view their work in the best light possible. An all around great guy, R.R. Virdi is one of the most friendly and approachable up and coming authors I have ever met.

And I strongly recommend picking up a copy of the anthology The Longest Night Watch. In addition to being something in honor of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, the proceeds from this book go towards the Alzheimer's Association to help fund research for a cure. The authors involved in this anthology are all really strong writers with a marvelous take on the world. This is a great book for a great cause in honor of a great man.

As I mentioned earlier, please consider picking up a copy of one of my books.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What I'm working on: Writing time!

I have put the revisions for book three of the Umbrel Chronicles of Evandar on hold. I will be getting that one out to press. My plan is to have it available for purchase around Valentine's day. (Because nothing says 'I love you.' like a book about the horrors of a castle occupied by hostile forces, right? If it works for G. R. R. Martin, why not me?) But, that process is on hold right now.

I am at my favorite part of the writing process: writing the first draft. I have started work on writing book six of the Umbrel Chronicles. I am about a third of the way through chapter one. I makes me happy to be back in the world of Evandar. I find writing stuff set in that location helps me in many ways. The biggest way is that it relieves that itch to create something with the written word. I also find it very cathartic is more ways than I can express.

I am, however, hitting a few bumps. I have so many different characters that I am seriously considering making up a chart to show the relationships between them. It has me wondering if people who have written series of books have done the same thing. I have to go back into the other books to make sure that I have names and descriptions right. It is taking as much time as writing up new material. I'm pretty sure that is why I don't have chapter one finished right now.

The hardest part of the process right now is avoiding distractions. Because sometimes I get a little frustrated with how a scene is coming out and look for something to inspire me. This ends up, often, with my watching cat videos and derping around on Facebook. And now, Twitter is becoming part of the distraction websites. (This is why I usually close my web browser when I'm writing.)

Still, I am actively writing book six. This is a huge source of excitement and glee. I'm still planning on doing NaNoWriMo. I have a lot of fondness for it because that was something I did with my late dear friend, Liz. It is something that helps me keep something of our relationship alive even after she has passed. I think, however, that my efforts are going to be split between two different writing projects. I think I am not going to have this book finished by November first, so it will be one. And I am planning on writing a revision of Seeking Sanctuary, a fetish/science fiction book set in a world more like ours.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Locales: Moesia

Moesia is the southernmost of the Seven Kingdoms. Stretching along the southern border of Evandar from the Shattered Mountains to where the Dragon's Spine mountain range meets the Vreth Sea. A narrow kingdom compared to the others of the Seven Kingdoms, Moesia's lands are primarily those at the edge of the sea. The major industries of Moesia are trade, mining, and fishing. To the north, Moesia borders Dakon-Bar. Near the heart of Moesia is the much smaller kingdom of Graleryn, all that remains of that kingdom which had once been the eastern border.

Moesia's fame lies in the blood stained history of the lands. The rocky lands to the east and western portions of Moesia are sources of great wealth and important resources. Many battles were fought over control of those resources. Prior to the establishment of the kingdom, there were also battles between those who lived along the coast and the inland people. Moesia was established as a kingdom during the Great War of the last age in a desperate attempt to preserve the people against the encroaching armies from the west.

Originally, it was half the size it is now, with the eastern most border falling at where the Rock peninsula is located. On the western side of the Rock, there are shallow waters and much of the fishing trade is poor. On the eastern side, however, the waters are deeper and the harbors are better suited to larger ships.  The sailors of the western coastal waters have a reputation as fierce raiders. This reputation is well earned, though the raiding parties no longer harry the eastern coastal waters but rather the lands elsewhere about the Vreth sea.

One of the warmer lands of the Seven Kingdoms, Moesia's climate is far more temperate than that of the northern kingdoms. The lack of substantial farm lands, however, puts Moesia in something of a disadvantage. The people of this kingdom are known for their hardiness and their ability to adapt to situations. This flexibility makes soldiers from Moesia particularly difficult to defeat because they are opportunists and will use unconventional means to achieve their goals.

Another reason Moesia is known is because it is the location of Gaulrin. The city of Gaulrin is home to a mining operation of exceptional cruelty and violence. The mining is predominantly done by prisoners and slaves. Gaulrin is known for hanging particularly violent offenders of their laws outside the city walls as a method of execution and a warning that they will not tolerate disobedience. This practice has had some infamous parties executed through it. It is also the reason why a noose is known as the Gaulrin necklace through out most of the Seven Kingdoms.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Confession of Zafar the Betrayer

Sorenan stepped up to Zafar's side. The councilman turned traitor shrank away from him, shrieking in preemptive terror as he waited for a blow to fall. "I would ease your pain," Sorenan said sadly, "For you are a man, not a beast." Zafar's cries were suddenly stilled as Sorenan's words penetrated the haze of pain and fear. "I am not permitted this," he continued in that disappointed tone, "I will, however, push for your punishment to be less... horrid, if you speak to me. Your life is forfeit. But this does not need to last longer. A clean death would be a mercy to you. Tell me what you have told Temna and I will do what I can to help you."

Zafar began to weep. He had not expected the Lion of the North to come to him. He had not expected Sorenan's quiet words or the promise of possible ease of his torment. He thought of his brother, the priest-king of Midthar and how the lords of Temna who came killed him. Zafar's promised peace and prosperity was ripped from his hands the instant they came into the city. Midthar was sacked, though she had offered no resistance. Zafar could only watch in horror as the slaughter happened.

When he and his brother had been brought before the leaders of the army encamped before their walls, Zafar was filled with awful regret. They were told that their reward of peace was awaiting them. For a moment Zafar hoped for exile. Then the sword fell and his brother's head rolled in the dust of the city square. He expected to be killed as well but they let him live. He was told to return to the Empress with a message. That message was the head of his brother.

It had taken him two weeks to reach the outer edge of the encampment before Dacia and Asser. Zafar was brought before General Zalaz and he begged for death. The general brought the distraught Zafar before Marcos, who knew with some supernatural certainty what Zafar had done. He said but one word to the councilman. Confess. Weighted with the power of Ashur's voice, Marcos's command was irresistible and Zafar told his king what crimes he had committed. In the midst of this confession, the Empress herself arrived, godridden. As Marcos passed judgment on the traitor, Mina spoke. She declared that Zafar would be interrogated for knowledge of the enemy before being slain.

Her appearance had changed significantly, enough so that all of the audience chamber was disturbed but for Marcos. Her voice had taken on an alien depth and a tone of command that rooted all listeners to the spot but for her husband. He was then brought to the chamber he lay in now and all became a blur of pain. Questions came but Zafar couldn't answer them. But the questions did not stop, nor did the punishments for failing to provide answers.

"Please, kill me," Zafar sobbed, "I know nothing." Sorenan looked at Zafar, doing his best to push aside his disgust with the situation. "They came out of the west. There were so many of them, I couldn't count them. They were lead by four men. One of them was the raider who would be king. I knew him by his scarred face. He looked like the silk merchant Abraxas, but for the scar," Zafar babbled as he had to the torturer. Where she had continued to tighten the rack, Sorenan said nothing.

"They betrayed us," Zafar wept, "Not even the children were spared. They came to the walls and when they came in, their swords were set upon us. Women were cut down as they fled the market. The watch were overwhelmed. They said we would be given peace and prosperity. They said that the shadow of war would pass away from us quickly. That once the Empress surrendered all would be well."

Sorenan's discomfort with Zafar's agony turned to anger as Zafar told him of the monstrosity of the sacking of the city. He said nothing as Zafar sobbed with pain that ran deeper than the agony of the rack. The sword-bearer of Ashur turned and walked to the door that Julara-Mina had exited through. "Their blood is on your hands," Sorenan said as he looked at that door, "The city of Midthar is dead because of your cowardice. You and your brother are responsible for their deaths. Your attempts to gain protection from war by surrender, they have caused this."

Sorenan thought of the villages in the north and the death that the tribesmen had brought upon them. Those deaths were less vile. The leaders of the villages fought with their people to defend them and died honorable deaths. Zafar's brother was murdered by the enemy. While the councilman cried ignorance as to why it happened, Sorenan knew. A turncoat could not be trusted. It was better to slay them rather than await their eventual betrayal. If it were not for the slaughter that came of Zafar and his brother's treason, Sorenan would have appreciated the irony of how their conquerors played them false.

Sorenan set his hand upon the door. "Please," Zafar begged tearfully, "kill me." Sorenan looked over his shoulder at the man on the rack. Then he looked away and opened the door. Sorenan exited into the passageway and Zafar gave an agonized scream, pleading for death. Coming down the passage was a Sister with a lamp. Behind her came Julara-Mina. She looked at Sorenan.

"Lady," Sorenan said, bowing to his godridden lover, "you are early."

"And you have an answer to my questions," she replied. Sorenan straightened up and nodded.

"The main force of Temna is encamped at Midthar. Althar is with three others, leading the force. I can only assume that Omuranth's sons are there with Temna's generals," he replied, "Zafar has spoken. He knows nothing more of Temna's plans. He and his brother were betrayed as they betrayed Midthar."

The godridden priestess nodded. "His death," Sorenan said looking away from his lover and into the darkness behind her, "It would be too easy, even with the eagles. They sacked the city. Their blood is on his hands."

"Death is not an escape," Julara-Mina said, "Only a gateway. I shall attend to him when his last breath is lost in Ashur's." Sorenan nodded. "Sword-bearer," she said, "this is but the first of evils you will witness. Blood flows like the river of my tears. And, like Is, it shall rise from its banks and flood the valley in its due time. Only driving them into the black sands will the valley be spared."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Flora et Fauna: Beggar's Purse

In the mountains of Evandar, there is a plant that blooms in the late autumn a few weeks before the first snows. It is a small plant that has little, if any, medicinal qualities. There are some who claim that carrying sprigs of it will bring good luck. Others say that it will bring financial ruin. Beggar's Purse is so named for the blossom that looks roughly like an empty bag. The blooms are a cream color and they smell musky.

It has broad leaves that grow in a spiral about the stem. During the warmer months, Beggar's Purse is easily confused with broad leaf Plantain. These earlier season leaves are smooth. As the summer wanes, however, Beggar's Purse puts out a second set of leaves. These have a fine down over them. After a minimum of three hard frosts, Beggar's Purse puts up a stem with its bloom. The bloom only lasts for a day. The plant, however, will have multiple blooms in succession on the stalk. It dies back once the leaves are covered.

Beggar's Purse is edible but it tastes very bitter. Cooking it twice over takes some of the bitterness out, but it is impossible to completely eliminate it. Beggar's Purse propagates by way of runners. It is possible to start a plant off of a cutting, but only if it is taken in early spring.

Edited Oct. 17,2017 to add this illustration.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Write with passion, edit cold.

It is sometimes a bit daunting to jump into writing. Some days, I spend my time looking at cat videos, drinking coffee, and feeling like I've lost something vital because I can't manage to put words to the page. Other days, I feel like a god. Words reel out like silk and every one is driven with an edge of madness. Those days where writing is a heady experience are kind of addictive, to be honest.

After a day or an hour of writing in that state, I find myself tempted to rush off to publish. I am excited and convinced that what I have written is solid gold. That drunken state of giddiness is not the right one to be in when I'm looking over my work when the first draft is finished. It is good to write with that mad fever of euphoria. It makes the writing time fly by and I feel fantastic after I have done so. It is like a wee touch of mania, with out the urge to clean everything in the house or follow some wild idea to do something like start up a business. (My hypomanic episodes pretty much manifest with something along those lines every time. And I can't sit still and focus long enough to write.)

But I can't let that kind of high get in my way after the first draft is done. If writing with passion is a necessity, then editing with a complete lack of emotion may be one as well. When I don't hang my heart on a character or a scene, I find myself able to edit more efficiently. I can dissect my prose and trim away that which is unnecessary. The ability to rip apart something that I have written comes to me far better when I am calm, if not indifferent to the work.

Some times, I feel like when I am in the editing process that I have divorced myself from the source of my inspiration. It is not the case, but when I have no emotion as I work, I feel queerly disconnected. But, in that dispassionate state, I am more likely to catch errors, notice missing scenes, and spot when I have switched up names. I don't read the work as I thought it should be. I read it as it is. And that, my friends, is the key to good editing.

Write with frenzy, fury, and madness. Pour your very soul into your work with the intoxication that comes with the inspiration. But, when it is finished, cut and trim with a heart of stone. Work with out emotional ties to the outcome. Because that is where you find that which is the heart of your story and free it from the confines of error.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recommended Resources: Languages

I have been attempting to develop languages for my little world. It has been a bit challenging because I am not a trained linguist. Throw in a touch of a learning disability and languages become difficult. In my efforts to develop languages, I draw a lot off of what is already present in our world. Right now, I am active in the effort to use loan words from Anglo Saxon for a group of people and devise words based off of this language.

It has been exceptionally helpful to use the Old English Translator. Between this site and my books about the development of modern English, I have been able to put together a few sentences in old English and insert terms where they'd make sense. In using this site, I have found that precision in your word search is vital. Also, searching out synonyms is a very good idea, because it heightens the likelihood of you locating the one term that you need.

I also have been finding it helpful to use kennings, which are explained very well at Young Poets Network's page here. This practice is a great way to retain some elements of Anglo Saxon wordplay with out having to struggle through the process of finding the right term and the correct way to conjugate it. It was a little awkward at the beginning to create kennings but after a little practice it became fairly easy.

The thing that really has been exceptionally helpful in all of this is reading translations of Anglo Saxon literature. I have been rereading my copy of Beowulf and trying to emulate what I have seen in there. If you are considering picking up a copy of this epic saga, I highly recommend Seamus Heaney's translation. I also recommend looking into other works, such as Cademon's Hymn. Also, consider picking up J.R.R. Tolkien's two volume Book of Lost Tales. His work draws heavily off of his own research into the Anglo Saxon language and can help a modern writer develop something that is similar to the ancient sentence structure and pattern of poetic structure.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Food of Evandar: Nursemaid's Sop

Just as there are special dishes in our world that are just for children (or the young at heart), there is food in the world of Evandar for the youngest of folks. Nursemaid's Sop is a dish that is given to children who have just stared on solid food, the infirm, and the elderly who have difficulty chewing food. It is an incredibly simple dish with a few variations. At its most basic, Nursemaid's Sop consists of bread that is toasted, crumbled, and soaked in a liquid until all the liquid is absorbed.

The variety of Nursemaid's Sop that is given to small children is most frequently a savory version made with broth from the stockpot. It is this version that is found through out the Seven Kingdoms, regardless of the station of the person being served. There is a spiced savory version that is served in wealthy houses and to the nobles. In addition to this, there is a sweet version that is made with almond milk and honey. This occasionally has spices in it, but only if it is being served for medicinal purposes.

Nursemaid's Sop is used as regular fare but it is also used as a vehicle to serve medicinal herbs to those who may not tolerate the herbs directly. Most often, the sweetened version of Nursemaid's Sop is used by the upper class to deliver these healthful herbs. The almond milk and honey are mixed with either the herbs directly or a tea made from them, dependent upon the herb used and the constitution of the person receiving it.

In the houses of the lower classes, sweet Nursemaid's Sop is a rare treat. In these houses, it is made with the fresh juice of pressed fruit or the liquid from stewed fruit. Most frequently, the savory version of Nursemaid's Sop is what is found in these homes. In some cases, Nursemaid's Sop is the only meal served along side porridge in an attempt to extend food resources. Old bread is used by the poor, when it is available, to make this dish as well. When made from dry, old bread, some people simply call it Sop, reserving the term Nursemaid's Sop for the variety made from toasted fresh bread.

Nursemaid's Sop is also just called Sop. Distinguishing between the different varieties of Nursemaid's Sop that one may find in their travels is challenging. Each region has slight variances upon what is served, dependent upon what grows there and the predominant livestock raised. Thus, Dakon-Bar's Nursemaid's Sop will be quite likely to have a venison broth base where as the Nursemaid's Sop that you could find in Aelethemer is more likely to have a mutton broth base.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What I'm Working On: Revisions.

It has been a challenging week. I had stuff distracting me a lot. (I'm looking at you, my lovely boys. *glares*) I think there is some kind of conspiracy to make me write with that frustrated tone. It has been bleeding into some of the revision work I'm doing on book three. Fortunately, however, the scene I'm working on involves a frustrated adult dealing with a misbehaving child. Because the Little Queen is not the perfectly behaved child that people wish she was. She's been acting out because of the stress of everything happening.

It is kinda refreshing to actually use some of the material I learned ages ago in Child Psychology. I never thought I'd be using it in my writing. I always thought it would be something that would come up in the classroom. (I dreamed of getting my masters and teaching certification after I finished my bachelor's. Life had other plans.) It is a bit difficult to recall what my childhood was like. So, I'm drawing inspiration off of what my children and the kids around me do. I never did like it when fiction featuring children turned them into miniature adults. Kids are entirely different from adults and we really should write about them in proper context.

I've been making adjustments to the map that I drew up years ago. It is an absolute mess. I was going to post a picture of it. Then I started making notes and stuff. It is so much of a mess that I am kinda ashamed of it. I do, however, have a picture from very, very early on in the development of Evandar. I actually have two of them. I have the first map I ever drew of the region, back when I thought Evandar was just one kingdom. I also have one of the first character sketches I drew. The female figure is supposed to be Sideria, the elf woman who watches over Thora and Cormac, among many other things.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Locales: Swavia

The kingdom of Swavia is the smallest of the Seven Kingdoms of Evandar. Irregularly shaped, the borders of Swavia follow the Shattered Mountains, bordering Aelethmer where the range begins. Surrounded by the mountain range, the hilly lowlands of the kingdom are places of mediocre quality farming. Swavia is not a very populous kingdom. It does, however, have a higher number of thralls per citizen ratio. This is because of Swavia's mining industry.

Slaves are predominately the source of labor in the mines. Swavia does not have a the same population of foresters within its borders as neighboring countries, such as Dakon-Bar (which lies to the north-east) or Moesia (which is south of Dakon-Bar and east of Swavia.) This is partly due to the fact that the forests of Swavia are not as dense of these kingdoms. It is also due to the policy that criminals are enslaved. The high slavery rate of Swavia is something that other kingdoms within Evandar are of mixed feelings on. Under the reign of Erian Talasid, prior to the incursion of the Cordid or the war with Askemb the Usurper, Swavia was a place that was tolerated due to treaties by kingdoms with low slavery rates. Tarsus and Dakon-Bar, with the lowest slavery rates, were consistently at opposition with Swavia in most matters during this period. 

The kingdom of Gwohawr, which wraps about the southernmost border of Swavia up to meet Galeryn, has the second highest rate of slavery, followed by Moesia, and has been Swavia's most staunch supporters. Swavia's metals trade and precious jewels trade makes the upper class very wealthy and the lower classes a bit more well off than those of the neighboring kingdoms. Swavia is divided by the Shadowmer river that cuts from Galeryn along a northeast to southwest track into Ackmere before returning through southernmost Swavia and running into Gwohawr. The Shadowmere river is the largest river in the western kingdoms of Evandar.

Along its banks and in its floodplains are prosperous towns, rich farmlands, and a few large cities. This region is in many ways the bread basket of Swavia. The prices for grain in Swavia are shockingly high compared to other regions due to the poor growing conditions there. The only kingdom that comes close in its prices for grain is the mountainous kingdom of Tarsus in the northeast of the Seven Kingdoms.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Julara's Mercy, Ashur's Wrath

Mina and Marcos were surprised when no forces from Temna arrive a month later. Zalaz commented that Temna's laziness was Dacia's advantage when the topic came up for discussion. Sorenan gathered his men and brooded. Sitting with his battle companions, Sorenan watched the inn's common room with no apparent emotion on his face. At his left side hung the second sword of Ashur. He thought about the commotion when it was discovered with the first in the sanctuary of Ashur.

Priests and common men alike regarded Sorenan with a mixture of fear and suspicion. He wasn't terribly surprised by this reception. Since he had come out of the north, the blond haired man was viewed with askance by the dark haired people of the south. It was argued that his skin was too white and that his strange eyes were signs that he was a deamon walking in the form of a man. It disappointed him when he heard these comments from some of the priests in the city. Sorenan had, at one point, hoped that they were as well educated as Marcos.

Now, however, that disappointment was turning to disgust as he grew impatient with the entire situation. As Marcos and Zalaz discussed the situation a few hours earlier, Sorenan withheld comment. A part of him wanted to suggest that they march on Temna now that the majority of their forces were present. Some still voice within, a voice that was new and reminded Sorenan of the whisper of the wind, told him to keep silence. Thus, Sorenan merely glared at the map and tried to will some change in the situation. When they left the General's quarters within the temple complex, Sorenan discovered no change.

When his men looked to him for any sort of news at the inn, Sorenan shook his head. They began playing at dice again in their boredom. He knew that his companions were as impatient for the waiting to end as he was. This was proving as tedious as the journey to the northern reaches of the empire but three months ago. "Someone is looking for you," Sorenan's right hand man said. A great bull of a man, Theon was true to the stereotype of being a quiet man with an unpredictable temper. It was with some surprise that Theon came to be Sorenan's most trusted companion. When the others began commenting on Sorenan's sightings with Mina, Theon said nothing.

When news that Sorenan was to be a sword-bearer of Ashur, Theon simply grunted and continued with his meal. It was when Sorenan was alone with him that Theon spoke. What the big man said left Sorenan uncomfortable. He was hoping for old fashioned combat to distract him from the statement but it rang in his head. "Julara's mercy comes with Ashur's wrath. Julara's wrath follows after. And then there is devastation," Theon said. It was something that made Sorenan uneasy.

Bearing the sword of Ashur's wrath, Sorenan thought that the will of the gods was completed and he'd be left to do his job. Now, he questioned if Julara herself was going to lay a claim upon him. Sorenan wasn't a religious man. Until Ashur appeared at the throne room's antechamber, Sorenan told himself that the gods weren't real. He told himself that Mina and Marcos were simply doing their jobs. Then Ashur appeared. Ashur spoke to him. Now, Sorenan's life seemed to have turned upside down.

Sitting, thinking uncomfortable thought, Sorenan watched as the veiled woman made her way to them. Sorenan looked at the white veils and presumed that Mina had sent one of the Silent Sisters with a message. The mercenaries stood and bowed to the Sister. She made a gesture of benediction over his men as they sat. Sorenan remained standing. The Sister made a beckoning gesture. Sorenan walked after her, curious what Mina wanted in the midst of her own preparations for war.

They walked to a house near the temple complex. The Sister lead him through the first of the two room. She then walked to a door set in the wall of the room. When she opened it, Sorenan's expression turned to one of confusion. A passage he had never seen ran from the door into some dark place. The Sister took up a lamp that was sitting in a niche by the door. Holding it before herself, she walked down the corridor.

Dimly through the illuminated veils, Sorenan saw a face he thought was familiar. He resisted the urge to ask questions, knowing that the Sister's vow of silence was one that prevented her even from speaking to the high priestess of Julara herself. The passage twisted and turned, ever moving downward. The air gradually turned cool and damp as they passed beneath the buildings above. Soon they came to another door. On the other side of it, Sorenan heard agonized screaming. His stomach clenched as a fear for Mina and Marcos's safety hit him.

He set his hand upon the hilt of the sword as the Sister turned to face him. She turned away before Sorenan could clearly see who she was, though the light made it tantalizingly close to visible. As the door swung open, Sorenan found himself entering into a dungeon chamber. A man, who clearly was not Marcos, lay stretched upon a rack, screaming in pain. Sorenan looked at the man and attempted to figure out where he had seen the face before.

"Zafar is a traitor," Mina's voice came from beneath the veils. "He has given over Midthar to Temna." Sorenan looked at the councilman. As he peered closely at the tortured man, Sorenan recognized the face despite its egregious wounds. "His punishment is not complete. We still have yet to learn what he has told Temna of our defenses, if anything at all," she said in a tone that was unfamiliar to Sorenan and served to heighten his discomfort with Theon's earlier statement,

"Torture is not a reliable method of getting information," Sorenan said. Mina looked over at him from beneath her white veils. "Give him clothes, food, and rest. Treat him as a man," he continued, "Give him the promise of clemency and he will answer your questions. This is unnecessary." He felt Mina's displeasure like a subtle chill in the air.

"This is clemency," Mina answered in that alien tone, "He would have been fed to Ashur's eagles alive. It is the punishment for treason." Sorenan thought about the enormous birds and the way they tore apart goats in the fields to the north. He shuddered. "I thought perhaps you would bring him to see reason," Mina said, turning her gaze back to the man in agony before her.

"At least take him off the rack," Sorenan said, unable to put aside the unease he felt. He was alright with killing men. He was even good at it. But the sight of a man, woman, or beast tortured made Sorenan feel sick down deep inside. It struck him as profoundly cruel. The idea that torture was mercy made his blood run cold. The fact that Mina, one who is known for her kindness to the unfortunate, said it in that queer tone made him feel the beginnings of fear.

Mina looked over at him. "Ashur's first sword-bearer passed judgment upon this man," she said, "Yet his second would ease his justly earned misery. Your compassion will lead to the ending of many lives if it stays your hand when it is time to strike." Sorenan stared at Mina in mute shock. Where she had previously praised his compassion and told him it was admirable in a man of his line of work, this reply was entirely outside of her usual behaviors.

"Your Ladyship, why do you decry my compassion when you have praised it so much of late?" Sorenan asked, moving into a tone of formality as he struggled to make sense of the situation.

"My daughter's heart is soft beneath the iron. She would have peace reign through the land," Mina replied eerily, "You have been her shield. It is time to be Ashur's sword."

"Lady...?" he started as she walked and set the lamp upon a table where the torturer's implements sat idle. Mina lifter her veil. Sorenan gasped at the sight that met his eyes. Where Mina's were supposed to be green, they were changed to a dark, dark brown. Mina's pale skin had deepened in shade until it was the olive of the laborers in the fields.

"Speak to the prisoner," Julara said, "A servant shall be sent in an hour. His bindings remain, for he does not have my favor." She turned and walked out the second door of the chamber. As she vanished down the corridor, Sorenan shuddered. He had no choice now. The gods were wholly real and have spoken to him. As Sorenan turned to Zafar, he tried to will the terror flooding his veins away.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Flora et Fauna: Desert Eagles

This week's discussion of the living creatures of Evandar takes us away from the Seven Kingdoms into the desert known as the Waste by those living East of it and as the Sands of Elian or Ashur's Realm by those who live within it. Within the desert, there lives a special breed of eagles. Physically, they strongly resemble the Harpy Eagle of our world. Unlike the Harpy Eagle, the Desert Eagle resides in a place that is not as lush with life. The Desert Eagle is one of the surviving species of the desertification of the Waste following the cataclysms that came from the magical combat between the deamons and the elves.

Adapting to the conditions of the Waste, the Desert Eagle has pale colored plumage. The dorsal plumage is a sandy color with dark flecks. The ventral plumage is white. The feet of the Desert Eagle are a yellow color with white talons. The head of the Desert Eagle is entirely of the sandy color of the back and upper wings. The beak of this bird is a yellow that is a little lighter than that of the feet. The Desert Eagle has eyes that are an amber color that is close to the same shade of fresh clover honey.

Female Desert Eagles have a slightly smaller wingspan than that of the males. A male has an average wingspan of seven feet wide. Females have an average wingspan of six and a half feet wide. The body of the bird ranges between two and a half feet to three feet long. Females average a weight of nine pounds and the average weight for males is thirteen pounds. There have been Desert Eagles that weigh more and are slightly larger than the average size. Most of the Desert Eagles that are of the larger sizes have been domesticated. The largest Desert Eagle weighs twenty two pounds and is kept by the priests of Ashur in Dacia.

Desert Eagle chicks are a dark grey color with black beaks and talons. They grow lighter with maturity. The nestlings are unusually quiet. They only make noise when the parents are near. Desert Eagles are also unusual in the fact that they have surprisingly well developed senses of smell. If a nest has been disturbed, the parents will cannibalize the young and then move to another nest. Desert Eagles have two broods. Most broods will have two young, though there have been recorded incidents of three to four eggs hatched in the nest. The parent eagles take turns caring for the young. Desert Eagles mate for life. There are tales of eagles avenging their deceased mates, but these are predominantly folk lore. The instances where this have happened occurred when one mate is attacked while in the presence of the other.

The call of an adult Desert Eagle when hunting is a shrill scream. Some have said that the scream of a Desert Eagle sounds like the scream of a man. Their calls when not hunting ranges from something akin to a raven's 'quork' to a wispy, wailing cry. Desert Eagles are quiet most of the time, only giving the hunting scream when they sight prey. When they are brooding and raising nestlings, the eagles give quieter calls, the loudest of which is a wailing cry that is a warning of danger to their mates. Nestlings give similar cries to those of adult Desert Eagles, though they can not accomplish the volume of the adult. Nestlings mature over the course of four months. Adults are driven away by their parents from the nest. There are occasions where parents have killed their adult young in the process of driving them away.

The primary places where Desert Eagles hunt are at the river valleys that wind through the desert and about oases. Their range, however, takes them into the desert where they hunt prey and scavenge the fallen. Desert Eagles are not strictly predators but also serve as the areal scavengers of the desert, a role filled in our world by vultures and buzzards.

Domesticated Desert Eagles are trained for hunting. They are also trained as weapons of war. Desert Eagles are trained to land upon the enemy and tear flesh out of them before flying off. The targets they are trained for most often are the necks and faces of the opponent. There have been occasions of a trained Desert Eagle turning on its master. These incidents are viewed as Ashur's will turning against the master. Such eagles are permitted to fly off into the wild. Occasionally, they will linger near where said master had trained them. These Desert Eagles can be captured and retrained, though it is with some difficulty.