The Ranger of Severum – Episode 11

As they docked, Trillian immediately noticed the warm hues of various colored wood.  The buildings were designed in a pattern of wood and stone Trillian had never seen before.  The scent of wood surrounded them in a pleasing way the ranger found comforting, but something else had caught his attention.  In the sky there were several contraptions floating about in the air.  Remembering Yulissa’s warning to not stare, he tried to divert his eyes from the phenomenal sight, certainly noting to ask the woman about it later.

Yulissa directed them through the winding docks and into the city.

The people wore strange clothing Trillian was unfamiliar with.  There were laces on every piece of outer clothing.  The women wearing constricting contraptions that laced over top of their ruffles, and the men wearing lacing vests and various hats.  Even their shoes laced, which was not uncommon for some boots, but all shoes?

A few of the passers-by wore strange goggles, and every last motorized contraption had a series of metallic spokes all working in unison, causing them to move.

Such miraculous and odd things Trillian had never seen before, and he tried exceptionally hard to keep from staring as they passed one after the other.

His black outfit seemed to blend in, though he was without laces and vests.  Yulissa had changed into one of these strange outfits the other women were wearing, though Trillian hadn’t noticed until now.  Her skirt was shortened in the front, and dipped to the ground in the back, fluffed in ruffles.

“Fluffed seems an appropriate word.” Trillian thought to himself as they rounded a street corner and walked into a building.  The glass doors were also new and strange to Trillian, being able to see into most of the buildings through large storefront windows, and their similarly designed glass doors, all framed in wood.

“Hello!”  Yulissa called out, walking to the front desk.

“Just a moment,” a muffled cry came from somewhere behind the curtain spanning the doorway behind the counter.

Trillian wondered if this were a good moment to speak, and looked to Yulissa.  “Where are we?”

The woman held her hand up, shaking her head briefly.

A comical sort of man emerged from the back, his vest in brightly colored patches, while his unkempt white hair splayed about his shoulders, circling round his balded head.  He had a pair of strange large goggles on his head, with smaller circles of glass stacked on one another on one side.

“Yulissa, my dear,” he exclaimed.  “I wasn’t expecting to see you for another two weeks, what brings you back so early?”

“I could use some funds for these, Maxus.”  Yulissa pulled out her velvet bag of treasures, dumping the contents gently on the countertop.  Pieces she hadn’t been able to sell in Severum knowing she’d get a better price somewhere else.  “I haven’t much time, what are these worth?”

The shopkeeper picked them up one at a time, gemstones in various shades and sizes, pendants on golden chains, and a chain of pearls and gold.

Trillian didn’t see any reason to watch as she sold them and began wandering through the shop.  He was fascinated by the amazing things surrounding them.  Various decorative pieces, candelabras and smaller candle stick holders, unique sculptures crafted from metal and those strange spoked circles, what seemed houses for birds with numbers on small circular faces and tiny arrows that pointed to the numbers, hung staggered along a wall behind a counter.  More wooden and glass boxes containing the same circle and number pattern sat on the glass counter top, with even more various styles of them down inside the glass counter.

He’d never seen so many knick-knacks and decorations all in one place.  He knew smiths who could create such pieces, and Severum had oil lamps, but nothing quite like the lamps he saw here.  They had a glowing orb inside of them that seemed to shine by itself.

A few moments later, Yulissa was ready to leave and they were back out into the busy street.  Trillian had also never seen so many people moving about, the people of the city appeared to be free, untouched by darkness.  Trillian wondered what that kind of a life must be like, never worrying for your life or if the dark overlord was going to summon you to punish you for some deed or other.

“When we get to the next place, you can ask all the questions you like, thank you for being so patient.  You’re both doing quite well, I’m impressed, though worry what life at the Severum must have prepared you for.”  Yulissa turned briefly to Trillian, still guiding them on their way.

His lips drew to the side in a brief smile, “It doesn’t differ beyond what you have already seen, in your short visit, I assure you.  However, once in a while Lord Sideon hosts a public execution.”

A sullen shadow visibly passed the woman’s face.  With a gentle, sympathetic smile, “We’re not far. ”  Yulissa continued walking with more purpose to her step.

Trillian knew the concept had made her uncomfortable, himself beginning to wonder what kind of a life this woman must lead to be unaccustomed to the darkness.

 

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The Ranger Of Severum – Episode 10

Gentle rocking interrupted by a sudden bob woke Trillian from his sleep.  He opened his eyes to find the stateroom empty.  Sunlight peaked through the curtains, falling in strips of gold on the floor.  The sound of water lapping and splashing soothed his mind as he lay on the bed a few moments.  Despite the calm, Trillian felt his chest constrict.  He was anxious wondering when Sideon would catch up with them.

Gathering himself, Trillian braced against the rocking to sit up as he shifted his legs over the side of the bed.  After grounding his feet on the floor, Trillian nodded in rhythym to the sway of the boat before standing up.  The first few times he’d tried to stand from sitting, he’d lost his balance.  Once in front of Yulissa, who laughed at him.  The motion to stand was swift.  He put on his shirt, aware of his need to eat and drink.

First he would find his mother and Yulissa, considering neither had woken him when they’d gotten up that morning.

Holding the handrail to balance himself, Trillian ascended to the deck, blinking against the fierce sunlight, shining freely in a clear blue sky.  Trillian couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen the sky so open.  There wasn’t much sunshine in the Severum.

Glancing about he easily found the women.  Yulissa stood beside his mother.  She smiled warmly at Trillian as they met eyes.  This strange woman who’d entered his life a few weeks ago consumed his thoughts.  He hadn’t decided yet whether it was because she was the first woman he’d encountered.

“And here is the devil himself.”  Yulissa stretched a hand in his direction as mother and son smiled at each other.

Their eyes locked intensely and Trillian stepped forward eagerly enveloping his mother in a long embrace.  She’d been waiting for them when they arrived at the docks two nights before. Trillian learned Yulissa had arranged the entire escape down to taking his mother with them.  He’d been alert, spurned by nervous anticipation in each step that took them further from the Severum. Trillian sensed Sideon would be pursuing in flight, riding with his fleet of Morfin –  hawk-like birds the size of lions.  Each one naturally fitted with enormous talons, shaved to sharp points, able to pierce right through an enemy.

Thankfully they had still not seen Sideon or his henchmen on the horizon behind of them.  Yulissa insisted it was because they passed through a portal to another realm, but Trillian was leery nonetheless.

Trillian let his mother go, taking in a deep breath of fresh air.  Traveling by sea brought him joy.  Perhaps it was the salty, fishy scent of the ocean, or the constant warmth of sunshine so foreign to him in the Severum.  Maybe it was getting to see his mother every hour of the day, or the chance to breathe without Sideon’s ever-present gaze hovering in his mind.

“We have much to discuss.”  Yulissa wasted no time.  “We will be to the Gate in a few hours.  When we get there, the ship will immediately dock in a large city.  One greater than either of you could imagine.  It is very important that you refrain from gawking.  My mission depends on your absolute solemn behaviors, even down to the tiniest flash of light in your eyes.”

The ranger thought the order more than possible, though in his heart he wasn’t entirely sure he could agree to it.  “Why is this so strongly required?”

Yulissa’s expression tightened, “Realm Jumping is forbidden, without permission from the High Ones.  The tyrant overlord uses his repulsive minions to guard the gates, in order to keep them secret.  They are trained to see everything, even the slightest flash of awe and wonder.”

“Who are these High Ones?”  Trillian’s mother asked.

Gorthnek, from the lands of fire.  One of them, Urgo, decided he was greater than all the races of the Universe, and warred against the Realms, capturing the Gates as he went.  After conquering the realms, he opened the Gates to hell and foul beasts flooded into the Realms.”  She looked to Trillian, “It is my job to smuggle the beings of Light into Giordan and collect valuable items along the way.”

“But,” Trillian began, slightly confused, “is this Urgo not already aware of a gathering?  If he is watching the Gates, and we passed through one, does he not already know?”

“Urgo does not fear Langoria, he knows Sideon rules with iron will.”  Yulissa replied, her eyes flashing to Trillian’s mother briefly.  “The people are subjugated to him, unaware of freedom and liberties.  It is unlikely Urgo will notice the inhabitants of Langoria passing through the Gates until Sideon has been defeated.”

“Defeated?”  Trillian exclaimed in disbelief, knowing such a thing was nearly impossible.  “Who are you expecting to overthrow Sideon?”  His eyes twitched between his mother and Yulissa.

“You.”  His mother smiled.

A sensation of fear filled Trillian’s chest as he considered what that meant for him.  “I am not–”

Yulissa smiled, “We have been discussing several options, Sosha and I decided you are the only one capable.”  Sosha, being his mother.  “I have seen what you are capable of, Trillian.”  She stepped forward slowly, “You have amazing powers.  If you could learn how to use those powers to your greatest ability, I guarantee you will defeat Sideon.  And in turn, Urgo.”

The weight in his chest became heavier, “Mother, I…”

Gulls squawked over head as the Lookout called, “Gate ahead!  All hands on deck.”

The crew came alive, preparing the ship for docking.

Trillian stood at the rail staring beyond the horizon into the uncertainty of his future, trying to imagine what it might be like to stand up against Sideon.  He was absolutely certain he would be able to stay solemn as they entered this new realm he’d never seen before.

The Ranger of Severum: Episode 8

After breakfast and seeing the surgeon for a weekly evaluation, Trillian was summoned by Sideon. Disappointed, the ranger would just have to wait to find Yulissa.

Slowly, Trillian approached the door to the library. A red sort of glow washed the floor outside of the open doors. After his nightmare, the appearance felt dark. His heart quickened as he walked up to the open doors. Stretching out his hand, he hesitated a moment before he knocked. He could see Sideon bent over his desk, examining papers and writing things down.

The library was warm and colorful compared to the stone hallway Trillian stood in. The desk Sideon sat at was toward the back, centered in front of the rows of bookcases surrounding the walls. Plush red seats were fixed about the room, next to tables with oil lamps on them so one might be able to read, despite the lack of windows in the room.

“Ah, Trillian, do come in.” Sideon looked up, and motioned with his quill, to a chair in front of his desk.

Trillian hesitantly walked to the chair, and sat down as best he could. His back ached a touch from the constant wear of his wings and he looked forward to the day he would be able to hide them away again.

Sideon began right away as Trillian sat down, “I understand you have been recovering these last few weeks, but I grow weary of constantly looking out for you and your well being. As soon as you are cleared, your duties will be returned to you. Our general grows restless covering for you at training, and wishes you back to care for your own men and apprentices.”

Trillian did not need his master to tell him all of this, as he was already quite aware. Twice, he had visited the training grounds to check in on his recruits. They seemed to be getting along well, but the annoyances the other trainers expressed were many. In Severum, each captain and Master Trainer had enough responsibility without taking up for someone else.

“Yes sir.” Trillian replied.

“And if you could do us all the favor of not battling the druids by yourself, I’m sure your peers would appreciate it.”

The ranger felt insulted by the jab. The insinuation was clear enough to Trillian, and while it was the ranger’s fault he had been injured, it had not been because Trillian was incapable of fighting.

“Is that all?” He asked hiding his irritation.

“No, it is not.” Sideon stacked his hands on the desk, making direct eye contact. “This woman that came back with you, Yulissa? Have you had the opportunity to see her again?”

“I have not.” Trillian felt his heart begin to race, disconcerted that Sideon would bring her up.

“I am sending you to find out what she wants with the Severum.”

Nodding slowly, the ranger took a light breath in relief.

Sideon continued without pause, “The fact that a woman has stayed so long in a city with virtually no other women disconcerts me. She obviously is in need of something, you brought her here, and frankly you are the only one I trust with an outsider. Discretion- as opposed to temptation -will guide your interaction with her.”

Trillian swallowed back the heat trying to concentrate in his cheeks. He would use discretion, but his mind was already engaged in attraction to the woman. “It will be as you ask, Master.” He nodded his head, “Was there anything else, sir?”

“Yes.” Sideon leaned forward, propping his elbows on the desk. “Your mother has been nothing but a basket case since your injury. Please write to her and inform her you are well. She doesn’t believe me.”

Trillians mother was on a heavily guarded retreat to the shores for some fresh air and rejuvenation. Sideon loved his stolen wife deeply, hating to see her pale and forlorn. She went to a castle at the shores every summer for a few weeks to perk up and taste the sun on her delicate skin. She always came home happier and healthier. Trillian was grateful Sideon went to such lengths to care for her, but it did not quell the anger over the loss of his father.

“You may go.” Sideon abruptly went back to his work, “report back to me when you find out what she needs and why she stayed so long before asking for it.”

Again trillian nodded once, “As you request, Master.” He stood, and left the library aware of a fluttering in his chest. Yulissa was the first woman to have aroused him. He hoped the nervousness in his flesh would not interfere with his ability to inquire of her with “discretion”.

Stress Undressed

There are few words in life that accurately describe the emotional train wreck women experience during motherhood.
Currently,  stressed and anxious, I count down the days to my daughter’s birth.
Today, we learned that she’s breeched. I have one week to help manipulate her into turning, and if she doesn’t, I’m scheduled into an appointment for an inversion. The determination to get her to flip first is pretty high– as I’m avoiding a c-section at all costs unless it’s absolutely necessary. 36 weeks and 2-4 to go, I’m so ready to be done.

The absolute delight of being published is not lost on me, nor the anticipation for more opportunities to put together other anthologies with my dear friends and peers in Den of Quills.

However, current circumstances in my home have brought about the worst in me, creating despair.  Causing utter betrayal of my Game Face, ripping doors open to reveal the chaotic winds of “what if” that blow at hurricane strength in my heart.

Any semblance of Sanity I might produce gets formed to the written page in stories of free and frivolous characters.  My latest being Keegan Brand and Farah.  Ever since these two paired up in my imagination for the DoQ anthology,  more stories and adventures desire to be told.  They’re fun, new and interesting,  which has been refreshing in the midst of Life.
We all need a bit of therapeutic indulgence from time to time-though I wish very much that Trillian and Yulissa would spark my Muse again as they are currently waiting for an episode to finish!

The Cast of Eldegras sit quietly in their green room, waiting for me to pick their series back up as well.  High Fantasy, fully plotted out, with well defined world building finished, and character plots, sub-character plots, supporting cast…..  All of it hanging in the shadow, waiting on me to have the courage to produce it.

Priorities align when you set the emotional roller-coaster aside and allow yourself to decide what is most important.
In writing, the self-doubt and lack of confidence that creeps in can hamper your desire to produce what you love.
Will the fear of rejection put your stories on a shelf in your brain,  where no one else will ever experience them?
Will the efforts you put into your books be lost when you watch enthusiasm for your stories die out?

Right now, life in the Villa-Smith home is filled with uncertainty, worry, doubt, anxious anticipation– so many things are happening or waiting to happen.
I’m allowing the circumstances to dictate how I feel in a given moment,  which in turn separates me from doing the things I love most.  Writing of course, being one of them.

Don’t let your stress do that to you.  It’s not worth it.  If you have a hobby you absolutely enjoy,  the core of your being thrives on it, don’t ever back burner to Life.  Use it in the quiet moments to unwind and unlock what you’ve been holding onto.  Pursue Yourself in the stillness when you can hide away in time to yourself. Make a point to not think about the things going on outside of your control,  and just hold on to focusing on You.
It’s difficult,  but after a while, realizing that you and your sanity are more important than your circumstances will help to make the most of every quiet moment you have.

~ * ~ * ~
36 weeks pregnant with my second child, a newly published author, and a frazzled housewife raising a toddler, I do hope that my goings-on inspire you to push through and accomplish your dreams.  There are no excuses, if housewives with young children can do it, so can you.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 3

Mulling over his explanation, Trillian watched the woman busy herself around their makeshift campground. Having disappeared into the forest a few times, the woman returned with a traveling pack, an arm load of wood, and a change of clothing.

As she stood over the pile of kindling, Trillian watched her breathe gently into her hands. They burned orange for a moment, then a tongue of fire danced out onto the top layer of dead leaves, catching the wood with a pop. His eyes caught the fading orange glow of an object slide into her pocket as she stood. With an alluring grace, enhanced by the firelight, she bent to pull a few things from her pack, and then sat next to the fire.

The smooth luster of a bowl glinted in the firelight when she set it down on a wire rack over the flames.

Trillian’s curiosity was heightened. “What is your name?” he asked.

The maiden’s lips formed into a gentle smile. Dipping pieces of cloth into the bowl, she glanced at him briefly “Yulissa. I was on my way to the Severum when the druids attacked.”

The Ranger inhaled sharply, wincing against the pain in his body. The weight of the splintered wing began causing his shoulders and back to drag toward the ground. Adjusting to accommodate proved more challenging than he’d thought.

In a steady rhythm of haste, she picked up the bowl and came to his side.

“What are you doing?” he grimaced, startled by the scent of the herbs in the pan she laid beside him.

“I am going to bandage your wounds and help with your wing.” She replied with a smirk, “What do you think I was doing with that bowl?”

Trillian pulled back, raising his hands in defense, “Thank you, but no, I will be fine, you mustn’t worry about me.”

Yulissa quietly but firmly insisted, “You need help, please allow me to repay you for rescuing me.”

Trillian attempted to remain calm and hold still as the woman set to work on his wounds. Her touch was gentle and compassionate. Under any other circumstance, he might admit that he rather liked the feeling of her hands on him.

“What were you possibly thinking, traveling alone at night?” the question burning in his mind, finally tumbled out of his mouth.

Her movement against his back slowed, “I was on my way to the Severum.”

Alone, and in the dark?” it wasn’t condescending, but the edge clearly conveyed his disbelief.

Silence. Her hands quickened again, and he felt a bit of a tug as she began pulling the bandages tighter. Obviously, he had struck a chord with her.

Really though, he thought to himself, what woman in her right mind travels alone at night? Surely she knew the druids would be out.

“You are a half-breed?” The question referred to his wings.

It was his turn to avoid answering. Instead he cried out -though she had done nothing that hurt him. At least her attention was diverted for the moment.

Her hands were much lighter than before as she apologized, “I am sorry.”

“Just be careful.” Adding extra breath to his sentence wasn’t very difficult, it felt as though his wing were ripping from his body. It took everything in him to stay alert while he was tended. Talking seemed to help, he decided, “I suppose you aren’t afraid of me, after you watched what I am capable of?”

A burst of laughter answered for Yulissa, “If you could see your wing.”

Unamused, Trillian waited until the cynical reminder that he was defenseless stilled.

Once she was able to contain her laughter, Yulissa continued, “By your appearance, you are obviously of the Severum, and you did rescue me from the druids.” She was finished now, the bowl clinked behind him, and he heard her getting up, “since you are friend, and injured on my account, it would be cruel of me to leave you behind.”

She set herself up across the fire from him. Her outward appearance reflected no fear — his wing must really look bad. It felt bad, that much was certain. Hopefully, the night wouldn’t tarry, and he could get it properly bandaged when he made it back to the Severum.

Dread suddenly washed over Trillian as he thought about having to explain the situation to Sideon. The Master was not going to be happy about this.

Thunder rumbled off in the distance.

Perfect. That’s all I need. The ranger shifted a bit, sighing with disgust.

He could see Yulissa’s eyes glinting, as they moved back and forth. She was staring at the sky, probably monitoring the clouds above them.

“Do you want me to set you up a tent?” She asked.

Trillian shook his head, “Just one more thing to worry about in the morning. I’ve weathered worse, we will be fine.” He met her gaze, “Thank you.”

With a gentle smile, Yulissa laid her head down on her arms, “Of course.”

Maybe it was the fire light, but Trillian thought for a moment that she appeared a bit sullen. Her eyes watched the tongues of flame dance in the wind, which was becoming increasingly stronger.

The sky rumbled again, this time a bit closer.

Trillian grimaced, dipping his head and crossing his arms as best he could against the strain in his shoulder. As the first drops of rain started to sputter in the fire, the ranger wondered why he had ever agreed to go out on the skirmish in the first place.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 2

Muffled pleas led Trillian directly to them. He crouched low behind the bushes and forest overgrowth to examine the situation.

The woman was fighting against the druid in vain, her kicks and shoves were obviously doing nothing but wearing her out as the druid seemed to be trying to remove her clothing.

The ranger slid his hands into the pocket of his cloak, pulling out a small knife. He ran his finger across the blade, making a small slit in his thick gloves. Satisfied, he rubbed a cloth filled with poison across the blade and then ran into the meadow. With great stealth he threw the blade. Having the element of surprise against the unsuspecting druid, it embedded perfectly in the druid’s side.

The foul creature cried out and turned as Trillian approached, pulling out his short blade and knife.

Shoving the woman aside, the druid stood to his feet and held up his hand, in an attempt to ward off his attacker.

Trillian spun quickly out of the way, and lunged at the druid with his knives. The first one caught him in the leg, but the second missed as the druid unsheathed his sword and caught the blade against his own in a clash of red sparks.

Angry, the druid spun around the ranger, letting out a blast of energy wrapped in red wind. Trillian easily dodged the gust, angering the druid. The adversary spat and jabbed his sword in a deadly thrust. Weakened from the poisons, the lunge made the druid stagger. Switching his choice of weapons, he held up his hands sending a radiant glow wrapped in a show of white light toward Trillian.

The ranger jumped out of the way as it flew at him. Dropping his knives, he took out a pre-dipped arrow, strung it on his bow, and let the arrow fly.

It landed in the druid’s side. He began to sway as the poison quickly attacked his system. The earlier injection of poison had rendered his central nervous system nearly inoperative, needing only a simple brush with the liquid kiss of death to bring his demise.

Trillian was quick to prepare another arrow, this one finding its mark in the druid’s chest.

The dark knight smiled, “I am sorry for you to meet your doom this way, human. If you knew what kind of power I have amid a state of weakness, you might have withdrawn your attempt to kill me slowly.”

Trillian did not speak as he watched. This will be fun, he mused to himself.

As the druid raised himself back up, his eyes flashed bright red. A tree uprooted next to Trillian.

The ranger watched in amusement, as the tree hurled itself at him. Moments before it neared, Trillian threw a large rock at it, causing it to shatter.

The druid looked surprised, if only for a moment.

The ranger laughed, his own secret emerging as black and red wings extended from his back. He flew up into the air, above his opponent.

Rising to the occasion, the druid also sprouted wings, following the ranger into the sky.

Trillian spun quickly out of the path of another burst of red energy. With arms extended, toes pointed downward, and his chin up, he rose into the air. Waves of white encircled about him, sending tendrils of light in every direction.

One of the curling flashes of light struck the druid’s chest. The druid held on feebly, through Trillian’s sudden show of magical abilities, as he felt the last of his energy drain from his body. In one last attempt, he shot a disabling bolt of light at Trillian. It caught the young man off guard, breaking one of the rangers wings.

Trillian faltered slightly, as he watched the last strand of life in the druid break and fall away. The creature descended heavily from the sky with a thud.

Trillian glided down to the ground again, giving careful protection to his broken wing.

While fighting to regain his breath, he turned to the woman, who was watching fearfully, waiting for what might happen next.

Trillian unlatched his cloak and handed it to her, hoping to further be of protection and comfort to her.

Her silver eyes questioned his as she accepted his gracious offer.

The woman was concerned for her rescuer. Having wrapped the cloak about her, she slowly approached her savior, “You are hurt.” she stated.

Trillian shook his head, “I am fine. I regain strength quickly.”

He could not hold himself up, though, as he fell to his knees, his injured wing hanging limply down his back.

The woman watched silently as the ranger sought to collect his strength.

“I will be fine in a moment. All I need is to rest.”

The woman furrowed her brow, “Can I do anything for you?”

Trillian shook his head slowly. Sighing deeply, he tried to steady his breathing. He knew that he could not hide his wings away with the one broken, he needed to return to Severum quickly. Lifting himself, he attempted a standing position to no avail, dropping once again to his knees. Feeling defeat, which was a poisonous state of mind to a Ranger, Trillian stayed where he was on the ground.

Seeing the young man was in serious need of attention, the woman helped to prop him against the splintered tree that now rested in the middle of the clearing. With him a bit more comfortable, she gave him a bit of a comforting smile, “I’ll be right back.” And with that, she disappeared into the forest.