Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Category: Fireforger

The Beautiful Pains of Love

“Adorned In White” – Tap image for more information.


Today on SCRAWLS, I chose to highlight a section of writing about love—specifically the love between two couples in the Sylvan Cycle book series. The love forged between these couples has been hard-won thus far, and I doubt it will get any easier as the series progresses. Katja and Felan have many obstacles to overcome including racial and cultural differences. Likewise, Lauraisha and Daya’lyn must also overcome differences in race, culture, and age. What makes me proudest in writing these characters is the fact that they are each willing to commit themselves to one another even though their lives and circumstances offer no real security.

In a world that seems to be teetering more and more on the edge of uncertainty, I think we all can use a little more faith in those we love and who love us. I would never have made it this far without the committed support of my loved ones. Likewise, I doubt those I love would have gotten as far without my help in return.

No matter how big they are, shared burdens are always easier to bear just as shared joys are always richer to celebrate.

Through the shared shouldering of our joy and our pain, my husband and I are a constant encouragement to one another. My husband and I are not perfect, but we are perfect for each other. I wanted a part of our love and faithfulness toward one another to be on display through these characters.

~

Katja shook her head. “No, how to spend eternity is the choice of every being. Every being ever confronted by a vampire must make the choice to either exist in a cursed half-life or to die pure and free.” Katja wiped a paw across her grimy, tear-streaked face. “And I must live with the fact that when a vampire’s fangs found my neck, I nearly chose to be cursed.”

Manasa look at her aghast. “What stopped you?”

“In the last moment of Turning, I begged the Creator to save me and he sent his dragon to help heal me. Verdagon is the reason that I am still alive, and although I may be scarred, I am yet Unturned.” Katja stared off into the distance. “Well, the dragon and the werewolf, of course.”

“Felan?”

She nodded.

“What did Felan do?”

“I heard his plea in my mind even as Daeryn’s shadow consumed it. Felan begged me to come back to him. To this day, I don’t know if I imagined it or if he really said it. Felan was gravely injured at the time.”

Manasa looked thoughtful at that. “You truly love him don’t you?”

“I do. It’s just I have no idea how I would be a proper mate to him.”

“Because of the difference in your races?”

Katja bowed her head and sighed. “Our races and our cultures. I have nothing to offer his clan in the way of strength, power, riches, or anything else. I am an orphan and I am a werecat. If Felan and I became lifemates, I could give him no offspring who would be able to carry on the family line and lineage. Instead they would be sterile half-breeds—outcasts all the days of their lives.”

Manasa nodded. “Lauraisha would face many of the same consequences if she married Daya’lyn.”

“Then would you allow the marriage?”

She frowned. “I am not nearly as dogmatic about racial purity as my late husband was. That being said, such a mixed marriage would be very difficult. If their union proved more of a benefit to each of them rather than a detriment, then, yes, I would give them my blessing. I think they are far stronger together than they are separate, but my opinion shouldn’t be the one weighed most heavily in this situation. The question that they must answer—and that you and Felan must answer for yourselves—is whether or not love is worth risking your personal safety and security. If it is, what are you willing to give up to remain together?”

Katja started to speak and then stopped when Manasa shook her head. “I don’t want or need an answer from you. This is a question that you must settle for yourself.”

Katja nodded and then stopped to look at the older female. “What would you do if you were in my situation?”

Manasa smiled sadly. “I married for love a long time ago and it cost me everything. The second time I married for safety and security, and instead I gained neither. Do not look to me for an example of love, my experience can offer you only a meager shadow of what love should be.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“Do Not Let The Enemy Use This Sacred Place!”

A tiny, brown butterfly surveys the world around it from its perch upon a huge leaf. – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off with Katja and Queen Manasa trying to escape the Wraith Realm after visiting the Scrying Pools. If you haven’t read the previous excerpts in this miniseries, you can find them all listed in reading order on the Fireforger book page. Now, let’s read the exciting conclusion together!

~

“What’s wrong,” Damya asked. When her gaze followed the werecat’s, Damya’s eyes widened in panic. “They’ve broken through,” she said. “Dear Creator, keep us! The Drosskin have broken through the enchantments! Sisters, to me!”

From all around the enchanted wood, firesprites flew to Damya’s side. “Destroy the pools…the trees…everything! Do not let the enemy use this sacred place!”

“Damya, what are you doing!” Manasa screamed.

“If they capture the pools, the Drosskin will be able to spy on all Sylvans and feed information to their Asheken allies. We cannot allow that to happen! Nach, Sandrie, take Katja and Manasa back to the altar! Get them to safety. Hurry!”

“But we haven’t contacted Caleb yet!” Katja protested.

“It doesn’t matter. If you stay here and are captured by the Drosskin, all hope for the inhabitants of either realm could well be lost!”

Sandor grabbed the two females and flung them onto Nach’s back.

“Go!” He said while readying his saber. “I’ll stall them!”

The griffin was running through the trees and onto open ground before anyone could say another word. Katja and Manasa gripped his fur and feathers in desperation as he bounded into the sky. Behind them, sudden fire raged throughout the forest and Katja saw steam rise from the Scrying Pools amidst the firesprites’ conjured conflagration. As Katja looked up, she saw the vivid sky was now smudged with hundreds of tattered, black bodies as winged Drosskin pursued them.

Katja unsheathed her claws and Nach kindled blue flames in his talons. As their enemies flew closer, Nach released a torrent of fire that scorched their nearest attacker’s already-singed skin. The fiend screeched in pain and dropped away only to be replaced by another. Katja snarled and raked her claws across a nearby Drosskin’s gnarled face even while Manasa kicked the offender nearest her. Four more enemies replaced their fallen allies. Far ahead of them, Katja could see the altar which was their refuge. It was still controlled by her brother Kumos and his fellow wraiths, but dozens of enemies now flew between the wraiths and their allies.

“We’ll never make it,” Manasa screamed over the wind.

“We can and we will or, so help me, I will die the second death trying!” Nach roared. “Just keep them off my back as well as you can! Use your tail, manticore! Even in this place, you should be able to skinshift!”

Katja concentrated and transformed the end of her long, golden-furred tail into something that looked like Aria’s armored, scorpion-like tail. With little discretion, she began stabbing enemies with the tail’s hooked barb. The Drosskin retreated from that tail far faster than from her claws. Between Katja’s attacks and Nach’s flames, they managed to keep most of the Drosskin at bay. Even so, there were too many enemies to defeat and the near-constant aerial attacks were forcing Nach toward the ground.

“We need help!” Manasa yelled.

“There is none!” Nach said. “If the wraiths come to our aid here instead of holding the line of defense, they will lose control of the Wraithwalking Altar to the Drosskin!”

As he said this, the last of Nach’s dwindling flames died in his talons. A Drosskin shrieked in triumph and swooped in for its attack only to be blown backwards by a ball of blue flame.
Katja jerked her head around in confusion and then gave a loud roar of joy as she saw a swarm of tiny, bright bodies charging their way. “The firesprites are here!”

With whips of fire, the Pyrekin firesprites drove the Drosskin away from their allies. Under their protection, the griffin wraith finally was able to deliver with his precious charges to the altar.

“Go! Go!” Kumos screamed as Katja and Manasa scrambled down Nach’s back.

“What happens to you?” Katja asked as she hugged him.

“We’ll be fine, but you will not be if you stay.”

“I love you!” Katja said as Cyrena opened the portal back to the Erde Realm.

“I know and I love you, too. Now, go! Find the Keystones and help us end this eternal war!”

Without another word, Katja snatched a piece of silphium plant out by its roots from the ground in front of the altar, grabbed hold of Queen Manasa, and dove head-first into the void between worlds. The screams and sounds of battle raged in Katja’s furry ears as the two females shot toward safety.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. Now that we’ve concluded this miniseries, I hope to have a little bit of a rougher piece for us to look at next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“Look Deep Into the Water…”

“Windswept Beauty” – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off with Katja and Queen Manasa in the Wraith Realm and finally able to use the Scrying Pools. What secrets will these strange pools hold?

~

“My sisters,” Damya said as the group watched the firesprites flit from leaf to leaf among the trees—touching each one with a lit hand.

“What are they doing?” Katja asked.

“They are nourishing the trees,” the firesprite said. “Here in my realm, fire acts a little differently than it does in yours. In the Erde Realm, fire always destroys, but the ashes that come from it are still good for the land. However, in this realm, fire can heal and nurture as well as destroy. At least it heals and nurtures the Pyrekin and the Erdeken wraiths. The Drosskin are, of course, an entirely different matter, which is why the fiery river that is Edgewater causes such harm to them. Come…”

Damya led them across a narrow path of flat, round stones which meandered between the ponds toward the center-most pool.

“Katja, Manasa, I need both of you to join hands and minds, and then look deep into the water,” Damya instructed. “When you can no longer see the bottom of the pool, call out Caleb’s name.”

They did as instructed. At first, all Katja could see was the fine, white sand beneath the clear blue waves. Then a single spark of multi-hued light illuminated the pool’s depths and widened into a round ring that reminded her of the mage rings that she and her packmates had trained inside while they were pupils at the Mage Citadel on the Isle of Summons. Within the depths of the ring, she saw another world—hers—waft into view.

The Erde Realm was dark compared to the Wraith Realm now surrounding her. It was night there and the whole of the Sylvan Continent was blanketed in slumbering shadow. Despite the darkness, she could see the whole continent stretched out from the jagged cliffs around Castle Summersted in Tyglesea to the Suuthe and Ten Fang Marshes in the South to the Este’lyn Forest and Hippopan Plains far to the east of the Nyghe sol Dyvesé Mountains. The height was dizzying and she suddenly felt like she was riding on the dragon Verdagon’s great back as they soared high above the tallest mountains.

“Call to him,” the firesprite reminded her.

Katja shook herself and together she and Manasa spoke in unison. “Caleb, hear us!”

The waters rippled and the females found themselves falling through space and time at a speed that Katja could barely fathom. Their shared vision surged toward a small, white mountain nestled in the valley of much larger mountains near the Reithrgar Pass. As much as it looked like a mountain, the structure was actually a stone fortress that had been crafted by magic and masonry to look like the peaks surrounding it. As she was contemplating this, Katja’s awareness hurtled through the fortress’s roof and she and Manasa found themselves staring at the red-carpeted room where the werecat had first discovered the Ott vre Caerwyn—the youngest of the vampires’ three bloodstone mirrors. It was disconcerting for Katja to view the room while looking out through the mirror. It felt almost as if she and Manasa were trapped inside it.

“Caleb?” She called again as the mirror’s pulsing light lit the room in eerie hues.

The door to the room opened and Katja found herself staring at a dark-gray-skinned being who walked upright on her hind legs like a human, but resembled a scorpion far more than she did any other creature. The werecat wraithwalker cocked her head to one side. “Aria?”

“Katja?” The girtab stared at the mirror in disbelief.

“Aria, we must speak to Caleb immediately.”

“Katja, I can see you, but I cannot hear you. Speak louder!”

“I need to speak with Caleb! It is urgent!”

Arya just shook her head. “I still cannot understand what you are saying! If you can hear me, wait there and let me find Caleb! He will know what to do!”

Katja nodded in relief as the girtab disappeared beyond the lacquered, double doors in search of Daya’lyn’s father. As Katja waited for her to return, the wraithwalker shifted her gaze away from the pool and once more surveyed the strange wood around her. It was then that a strange scent like burning sulfur wafted into her nose. The stench filled her with the deepest loathing, and she growled in spite of herself as crimson shapes clawed at the edges of her vision.

“What’s wrong,” Damya asked. When her gaze followed the werecat’s, Damya’s eyes widened in panic. “They’ve broken through,” she said. “Dear Creator, keep us! The Drosskin have broken through the enchantments! Sisters, to me!”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up where we left off next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Into The Woods…

“Calla Lily Flame” – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off with Katja and Queen Manasa journeying through the Wraith Realm in search of the Scrying Pools. Along the way, they meet unexpected creatures and visit an enchanted wood that holds far more secrets than they first assumed.

~

Again Kumos shook his lion-like head. “We cannot abandon this post. If we do and the enemy attacks, it will sever communication through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar and your souls will be trapped here for eternity.”

Katja shuddered. “Faht’s warning…”

“Yes, our father warned you not to come here, but you did not listen. Now we are all in danger.”

“Kumos, I didn’t mean to—”

The werecat wraith held up his paw. “What is done is done. You are here now, so you must try to do what you came here to do.” He looked over his should at Sandor, who was still holding his crying mother. “Sandrie, will you go with them?”

The human wraith nodded and saluted Katja’s brother with his sunsilver saber. “Gladly, Kumos.”

“I will as well, Kumos,” a griffin said as he moved through the ranks.

Kumos smiled and bowed before turning back to his sister. “Katja, this is the legendary warrior Nach, who fought beside Queen Mother Ella and King Canuche during the Second War of Ages.”

Katja smiled and bowed with both of her paws raised to show her absolute loyalty. “And fought with Daya’lyn to defend this realm against invasion when his soul was sent here. I am honored, my sir.”

The corners of Nach’s beak turned up in what passed for griffins as a grin. “As am I, my madam, as am I. News has reached us here of so many of your exploits. I’ve been told that you even know the location of my former king’s soul!”

Katja smiled. “No doubt Daya’lyn told you that. It is true. I have met King Canuche and the experience was one of the great honors of my life.” Her expression grew serious then. “I hope to find a way to free him, if I can.”

Nach nodded as the five beings moved away from the group so that the griffin could spread out his eagle-like wings. “I feel quite certain that if anyone has the ability to free an imprisoned soul, it is you. Come now, climb on my back and let us be off. Madam Damya, will you please help keep watch for enemies?”

When the firesprite nodded, the werecat and two humans scrambled up the griffin’s tawny-furred foreleg and settled themselves between his wings. The griffin leaped into the air and, with several flaps of his magnificent feathered wings, pushed them into the vibrant sky.

Katja remembered the old stories of how Nach had lost his wings during the Battle of Eppon Gue—the first great skirmish of the Second War of Ages. He had fought valiantly without his wings throughout that war. Now in death, the griffin’s wings had been restored, and he used them to great effect transporting his charges across the mottled sky to their destination. Once aloft, they followed Edgewater as the great river curved away from the grasslands and on into rolling hills. A magnificent forest boasting trees of every size and kind grew up in the shelter of those hills.

Nach dropped from the sky to land at the beginning of the trees and then the group followed Damya into the forest—winding their way around trunks the size of boulders. Unlike the shadowed forests of Katja’s world, the Wraith Realm forest was thick with undergrowth and yet still seemed perfectly lit. Katja looked closer and discovered that light actually emanated from the plant leaves themselves. The luminescence made the whole wood feel even more enchanted than the perfectly pruned gardens and forests cultivated by the dryads on Mount Sol’ece. Katja wondered in awe if this was where the Creator had first walked in the Wraith Realm and if the path they now followed was the trail where His robe had first touched the leaves and given birth to sproutsinging magic. How she wished that Zahra could see this place!

The wraithwalker heard the sound of trickling water before she saw it. When the trees finally gave way to the Scrying Pools, Katja’s breath caught in her throat. The pools held the same luminescent beauty as the forest around them. The waters were is pure blue as any she had ever seen. Here and there, firesprites flitted over the water—their kindled bodies adding bright hues to the pools’ undulating surfaces.

“My sisters,” Damya said as the group watched the firesprites flit from leaf to leaf among the trees—touching each one with a lit hand.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up where we left off next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“You Will Need a Guide if You Are to Survive This Night…”

“A Squirrel’s Gaze” – Tap image for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off last week with Katja and Queen Manasa trying to contact Master Caleb through the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror and its shards. In today’s reading, Katja and Manasa make it to the Wraith Realm to seek out the Scrying Pools that share a magical connection to the mirror, but this enchanted realm may prove a far more dangerous destination than they ever expected.

~

A twinkle of silver lit the room, and then a small, silver tree grew out of the offering basin at the altar’s center. Its entwined trunks untwisted to form a translucent oval and the sylph Cyrena greeted them from within its frame. “Creator keep you, my madams. Queen Manasa, I know that you both seek a way to contact the Reformed Mirror and its keeper. The shards alone will not give you enough strength as you have likely guessed. The power you seek is in the Wraith Realm itself, but finding it is more dangerous than you know. You will need a guide if the pair of you are to survive this night,” she said.

“I will be that guide,” Damya said as she wafted out of the center of the Sapphire Keystone hanging from the werecat’s neck.

Cyrena nodded. “You will need the blood mirror shards with you. Keep their necklaces fastened and touch the altar with their tips.”

Obediently, the females stood on side of the altar, and then bowed to touch the spearheads against the altar’s offering basin as Cyrena indicated. With a flash of crimson and silver, all three beings stretched through the ethereal tree’s oval and then appeared in a place as different from the dank dungeon as daylight is to darkness. Grasses eddied and flowed like the waves of a great ocean around them—each curving leaf infused with green hues far richer and varied than any Katja had ever seen in her own world. The wraithwalker smiled at the breathtaking beauty of the Wraith Realm now around her, but her joy evaporated when she saw what lay just beyond the vibrant green.

The great boundary river of Edgewater snaked its way along the edge of the grasslands—a contrast to their beauty in every way. As ugly and deadly as it was, Katja knew that the river’s boiling black eddies were the only barrier keeping the inhabitants of the ruined land beyond the river’s shores from infecting the perfect land her dead family members now called home with their pestilence.

Except now the river’s winding length could no longer hold back the danger. Three new sandy breaches had now bridged the river and encroached into the pristine meadow—spreading their sickness into the yellowing grasses at Edgewater’s banks. Katja’s ears lay flat against her head and she hissed when she saw them.

“Be on your guard,” Damya said. “Dangers now abound in this land.”

A loud screech met them then, and Katja and Manasa both turned to see a gnarled, black creature flying toward them on tattered membrane wings.

“Get down!” the firesprite screamed as twin fireballs erupted in her tiny, blue hands. She launched both of them at the creature, who dodged the first but not the second. With a screech of pain and anger, it veered away from the small group and flapped back toward the river where more of its fellows readied their attack.

“Damya!”

“We are here, Kumos!” she screamed.

“Make your way to us! Hurry!” the werecat wraith yelled.

That was all of the encouragement that Katja needed. Grabbing Manasa by the hand, the werecat wraithwalker scrambled through the high grass toward her dead brother and his fellow wraiths.

“Lytzsibba, you are not dead, but you may very well die while you are here. What possessed you to return here?” Kumos said as he hugged his younger sister.

Before Katja could answer, Queen Manasa spoke. “Forgive me, my sir, but I am the reason we are here. Katja and I combined our wraithwalking and dreamdrifting talents tonight to dreamwalk between the Realms of Reality. Since time and space have different values here, going through the Wraith Realm was the only way that I could hope to traverse the distance of the Sylvan Continent to contact Master Caleb. We are in dire need of his aid in finding the Keystones that are still hidden across the continent. Without them, we cannot hope to destroy the deadwalkers…”

As Manasa was speaking, a human youth stepped forward from the gathered wraiths and Katja’s ears drooped when she saw him.

“Mother?” Sandor asked in a voice shrill with surprise and confusion.

“Sandrie!” Manasa ran to embrace him.

The last time Katja and Manasa had seen Prince Sandor had been when Daeryn had held him hostage while trying to bargain for three of the Keystones. When Lauraisha refused to exchange the Keystones for her brother’s life, the vampire bit open his neck and left him to die in front of her. Now Katja and Lauraisha shared a common grief for dead siblings just as they shared everything else.

“Mother, are you dead now too? Did Daeryn kill you as well?”

The hands that held him began to shake. “No, son. I am alive. We are both alive, Katja and I…”
“Kumos,” Katja said, interrupting her, “it is urgent that we contact Caleb. How do we do that here?”

He shook his head. “The only way I know of is to use the Scrying Pools at Edgewater’s Bend, but it is nearly overrun with Drosskin now. Since you last walked in the Wraith Realm, sibba, four new breaches have opened up along the rivers’ banks. Our enemies are massing for a full-scale invasion of the Sacred Grasslands. If they succeed in overtaking this place, it will cut off our communication to you through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar.”

“Still we have to try. Can you take us to the Scrying Pools?” Katja asked.

Again Kumos shook his lion-like head. “We cannot abandon this post. If we do and the enemy attacks, it will sever communication through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar, and your souls will be trapped here for eternity.”

Katja shuddered. “Faht’s warning…”

“Yes, our father warned you not to come here, but you did not listen. Now we are all in danger.”

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up with more of this scene next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

“What is this place?”

A bumble bee buzzes among the myriad spring blooms of wildflowers… (Tap image to learn more.)

Today on SCRAWLS, we’ll pick up where we left off last week with Katja and Queen Manasa trying to contact Master Caleb using the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror’s magic shards. A good bit of mystery and history awaits them as they search. Let’s see what happens.

~

“It is as I’ve feared; I cannot use the mirror shards alone,” Manasa said in answer to the wraithwalker’s thought. “Come Katja. Come dreamwalk with me between the folds of reality tonight. Let us see if your strength can be the difference between victory and defeat.”

Katja nodded and followed the queen along the shoreline beside the rolling sea until the pair came to the entrance of a small cave hidden in a cleft of the cliff. Without a word, Katja followed the queen into the stony darkness—the wan blue glow from Damya’s sapphire necklace lighting their path. Together they threaded their way into the heart of the cliff—the crashing waves of the sea becoming less and less thunderous with each step.

The narrow tunnel coiled around itself like the body of a huge basal snake, but Manasa followed its winding course with unerring certainty. The tunnel widened out into a stone gallery complete with carved figures and paintings adorning its walls.

“What is this place?” Katja asked as they rounded a corner and she found herself staring at the half-revealed carving of a griffin and a dryad locked in battle with a gargoyle. The griffin looked so much like King Canuche that it made the werecat stop in surprise.

“Freedom,” Manasa said as she rubbed a gentle hand over the chiseled wall. “This place began as a simple cave, which my father, King Aedus, expanded into a family chapel during the first decade of his reign. You’ll see many scenes from the Second War of Ages carved into the walls here since my father was an avid scholar of that period. He even knew several mages who had survived the war and had gone on to help rebuild the Sylvan Continent after that war and after the subsequent Clan Wars.”

The Tyglesean Queen walked on and Katja followed—still looking at Canuche’s visage. The pair walked on as the tunnel narrowed again and then gave way to a jagged tunnel of rock that looked as if it had been no different from the cliff.

Katja touched the splintered stone and frowned at its familiarity. “Are we close to the dungeons?”

Manasa nodded. “This tunnel system served a dual purpose. It was both a private way for my family to get to the chapel and an escape route to use should we ever need to flee the castle. My family never was able to flee through here during the Tyglesean Uprisings, but I did. My valet Arlis and I managed to make it through the tunnel and to our horses before any beings realized we were gone. In that way, my father’s piety saved my life. Kaylor walled all of this off and turned the chapel into a dungeon system after I escaped, but your companions have done my family and our country a great service by helping to restore what Kaylor tried to bury.”

The pair turned a corner and climbed through a gap in the broken rock that Lauraisha’s fire had created and crawled into the dungeon where Katja’s father Kevros had built the wraithwalking altar. As the human and werecat knelt before it, Katja once again read the language of her kin aloud: “Dei Dyvesé it unmygn ort ol restel. Nur dei reinen ol sere finden Me frieden.”

The Feliconian werecat let out a breath heavy with sorrow and longing, then she translated: “The Creator is our refuge. Only the pure of soul will find His freedom.”

A twinkle of silver lit the room, and then a small, silver tree grew out of the offering basin at the altar’s center. Its entwined trunks untwisted to form a translucent oval and the sylph Cyrena greeted them from within its frame. “Creator keep you, my madams. Queen Manasa, I know that you both seek a way to contact the Reformed Mirror and its keeper. The shards alone will not give you enough strength as you have likely guessed. The power you seek is in the Wraith Realm itself, but finding it is more dangerous than you know. You will need a guide if the pair of you are to survive this night,” she said.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up with more of this scene next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.

As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

What Happens If the Wrong King is Crowned?

“Yucca” drawing – Tap for more information.

Today on SCRAWLS, tensions continue to rise over who will ascend the Tyglesean throne and how the new king will interact with Katja and her allies. What are your hopes and fears about this latest threat to the packmates?

~

Vraelth took a sip of tea before clearing his throat and changing the subject. “Back to the matter at hand, Tryntin has already proved his worth in the battle that destroyed the Ott vre Cael mirror and his siblings. Like the rest of us, he gained quite a few mental and physical scars in the process, I highly doubt that one kiss of true power will ruin him.”

“Even so, war changes beings—sometimes in ways imperceptible by others,” Katja said. “In Tryntin’s case, it seems that the grief caused by war has built him stronger rather than breaking him.”

“All the more reason to see Tryntin prove his prowess with the army, then,” Felan said. “That should go a long way to convincing many Tygleseans of Ashomocos’s wisdom in appointing his brother as the Army’s Commander.”

“Yes, but first Tryntin must publicly declare his abstention,” Daya’lyn said.

“You doubt he will?” Vraelth asked.

Daya’lyn only shrugged.

“He’ll declare it,” said Katja. “He must.”

“Why?”

“Because if he does not, then we’ll have a civil war on our paws on top of the intercontinental war that we are already fighting.” She nodded toward Daya’lyn. “For the protection of all Sylvans, the Inquisition cannot allow such a thing.”

The dhampir’s eyes flicked to meet hers for the barest moment. “The Inquisition is weakened by a third, Katja.”

“Daya’lyn, you are the Inquisition.”

“No, I am the Inquisitor. However, my authority was recognized in Tyglesea only because of Lauraisha’s support. Without her, you and I hold no sway at all except by the Tygleseans’ good graces.”

“Ashomocos listens to you, my friend.” Felan said. “And he will continue to do so if he ascends the throne.”

Daya’lyn nodded. “Yes, he likely will. And what if Tryntin ascends the throne?”

He and the others looked at Vraelth and Katja. Slowly, the two shook their heads.

“Doubtful,” Vraelth said and the others all frowned in thought.

~

I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. As the name SCRAWLS implies, this is meant to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs. Please email me your thoughts!

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

The SCRAWLS Fiction Diary: A Strange Bit of Home

I love the contrast between the rough, gray bark of this tree and the soft yellow of its neighboring field of wildflowers. The photograph was shot north of College Station, Texas, in March 2017. Please tap on the image to see more.

Last week, I began something I call the SCRAWLS Fiction Diary. As its name implies, this is meant to be a public diary of my fiction and artwork as I create all of it. You’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, epic world-building.

Today’s post comes from my in-progress book Fireforger, which is the third book in the Sylvan Cycle series. This scene is from the main character Katja’s perspective and helps to set the mood, not only for the first chapter, but for the book as a whole.

~

Katja Kevrosa Escari knelt on a pile of furs with the meager contents of her rucksack spread out on top of the stone altar before her. A leather scrap from her brother Kayten’s rucksack, her sister Keepha’s small lytzahn dagger, her Feliconas Clan signet crest, and her brother Kumos’s tanning kit complete with a fleshing knife and needles were all that she had left of her family.

She gazed up at the darkness of the damp dungeon around her—noting that the tatters of Zahra’s Moon Moss were finally beginning to grow back in the places where Daeryn had ripped them from the stone walls. The vegetation’s soft glow reflected in the few salty puddles still left after Castle Summersted’s dungeons had been drained of sea water and cast green light on the Felis runes of the altar in front of Katja. The tawny werecat leaned forward and rubbed her scared right paw across the carved symbols of her clan’s language, smiling through the steady stream of her tears. Here, in this place so unlike anything of home, she had found some of the most powerful reminders of her dead family.

“I thought I might find you here,” a male’s gentle voice said behind her. Felan placed gentle paws around her shoulders. The little werecat gripped the black werewolf’s paws as tears slid down both of their cheeks. Today marked the first anniversary of the Feliconas Clan Massacre and the beginning of the Third War of Ages.

~

I hope you enjoyed the reading! As I mentioned last week, my goal is not necessarily to bring you finished writing, but to show you the rough stuff as well. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to build my fiction worlds allows you to truly walk the creative writing journey with me through all of its ups and downs. Please email me your thoughts!

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

The SCRAWLS fiction diary is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

The SCRAWLS Fiction Diary: “I Am Coming For You…”

A dragon wraps her neck
and wing around her precious egg.

After six months of working at a job in that occupies ten to twelve hours of my time every day, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I can write fiction books or I can write a nonfiction blog, but I don’t really have the time to create both. I could crawl into my warm, dark writing cave and simply work on a book as I have for most of this year, but that doesn’t serve you as my readers any better than me writing a blog without writing the books that you all love to read. After all, you deserve to know what’s happening and to be at least somewhat entertained while I’m working. With that in mind, I’m turning this blog into a fiction diary with artwork sprinkled around the edges. The writing will essentially be my thoughts on paper in the order that they occur to me. I’ll bring you new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, epic world-building. You’ll also see some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding and stitches that I use to build my fiction worlds. Fair warning, the writing might not make much contextual sense and, at times, may not be well-edited. However, I want to show you some of the work-in-progress before presenting the final polished book so that you understand how difficult and fascinating the journey of writing really is. By practicing in public, I will also be held accountable to get my work done every week. I can accomplish so much more with all of you readers cheering me on than I ever can alone.

Without further ado, here is this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS fiction diary. It is a scene from my in-progress book Fireforger, which is the third book in the Sylvan Cycle series. This scene is from the villain Daeryn’s perspective and begins right where the last book Dreamdrifter stopped. Right now, this is serving as Fireforger’s prologue. We’ll see if it stays as that or if I make changes to it before final publication. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it!

*

“I am coming for you.”

Daeryn bolted upright on the silken sheets of his bed—his crimson eyes whipping around his chamber in terror. He was alone, but that did not comfort him. The vampire shade had heard Katja’s words echo throughout the depths of his dreams just as Princess Lauraisha had. The overwhelming power of the wraithwalker’s voice had caused cold beads of sweat to trace their way down the pale length of his spine.

Daeryn and Lauraisha answered Katja in the same moment: “I know.”

The werecat had caused him to feel many things, but fear had never been one of them—not until now. He felt his heart pound in his chest even as he opened his shrouded mind wide to embrace this newest sensation radiating from her bright awareness.

And then their minds’ link was severed before the shade could reestablish their bond, leaving him truly alone once again. Daeryn screamed. “No! No, please…!”

He licked the salty moisture off of his lips and hid his face behind pale, shaking hands as a new fear gripped him. The shade pushed his mind toward the trail left in the wake of the wraithwalker’s awareness—grasping at the power that had so easily displaced his dark desires. He searched every corner of his mind for the warm tendril of her vibrant thoughts, but it was gone. She was gone.

“Please, Katja, come back to me…” Daeryn whispered to the empty room even as he felt the heavy rhythm of his rock-hard heart slow and then cease to beat altogether. He put a clawed hand over the scar adorning his chest where the lump from her spear shard had once nestled inside his flesh. For a brief moment, he had felt alive again. He had felt as he once had when her mind was irrevocably linked to his and nothing could separate him from every beautiful and terrible emotion she experienced. It had been a full moon’s cycle since she had stolen the spear shard and shattered their bond. It had been a full month since he had felt any impression from her at all. For one brief moment, Daeryn had allowed himself hope that she had returned to him, even in the depths of this new fear she had instilled in him. Now, she was gone and he felt numb once again.

“No, not again…”

With a snarled string of curses, the vampire rose from his bed and donned his clothes—intent on visiting the slave pens. He was not particularly hungry just now, but he would feed nonetheless. After the encounter he had just endured, Daeryn was desperate to experience the comforting rush of warm blood through his icy veins.

“I shall drain only one this time,” he promised himself. After the flogging Luther had given him over his last overzealous feeding, taking a single slave’s life seemed a far better strategy even if it could no longer satisfy his Thirst.

Daeryn’s pale, membrane wings unfurled from his back and hurled him off of his bedchamber’s balcony into the moonlit night. He circled high above the black spires of Blaecthull before diving toward the entrance of the cavern holding the slaves.

With Princess Lauraisha imprisoned in the water dungeon far beneath the vampires’ fortress, Katja and Daya’lyn would have no choice but to come to the Northern Continent if they wanted her freed. And Daeryn would greet them when they came.

They were dangerous now, so deliciously dangerous. As a full manticore and wraithwalker mage, Katja was now death to the undead and Daeryn cherished her all the more for it. His final conquest of her would be all the more satisfying now. Whatever else happened, he must be strong enough to withstand her when she came for him.

The vampire smiled to himself even as his yellow fangs lengthened in anticipation of the hunt. “Yes, only one slave this time…”

*

Please email me your thoughts! Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
Alycia

~

This inspirational image is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Write Where It Hurts

Blue_Undulations-AC4x6“Talented writers don’t write perfectly. They write courageously.” -Jeff Goins

It’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for two hours. I’ve sent my husband off to work, finished a few house chores, and dressed for the day. Sitting in front of my computer with a steaming cup of tea and a half-eaten bowl of cereal by my side, I open a document and skim the last four pages of yesterday’s writing. I have a few precious hours of quiet in which to work before heading off to my regular job. I can’t waste them. Today starts me off in the middle of a scene in which one of my characters has been abducted and the other characters are still reeling from the shock of losing her. The tension couldn’t be higher—for them or for me.

After writing six books, you would think that book seven would be easy, but it isn’t. The newest novel has proven persnickety so far. Beginning a book in the right place is one of the trickier parts of writing for me. This means that I’ve written three different drafts of the Fireforger prologue before finally getting it right. I’ve been working on this manuscript for months now—living with it day in and day out. Dreamdrifter might be new to the eyes of the world, but it’s already 30,000 words behind me. I’ll sit at this desk for the next two hours refining and writing. I still have a lot of marketing to do today since Dreamdrifter just came out, but that will have to wait until I’m finished with my day job this evening. For now, I put aside all of the other worries and distractions. For now, I just write.

So far, life as a writer has been anything but easy or affluent. This is a full time job for me which pays less than minimum wage in exchange for long hours of emotionally-exhausting work. This may not be my only job or my easiest job, but it is my best occupation. Writing is the career that I feel called to do because it allows me to be a triumphant survivor by profession and to share my stories of encouragement with others.

I am a survivor and an adapter, and I always have been. I’ve dealt with three disabilities since early childhood to make it this far in life. In the past five years, I’ve buried three loved-ones, watched a fourth slip beyond sanity, and lost half of my belongings to fire, electronic failure, and financial downsizing.

As painful as life can sometimes be, there have been two constants to help me slog through all of the mess: my loved-ones and my writing. The blessings of true love and friendship have helped me overcome every obstacle—no matter how small or large. We cling to each other for support as we swim these turbulent seas. There are those I know who have endured lives far harsher than mine and I remember their stories as I write.

Like so many of us, my characters are all survivors of something—broken homes, broken hearts, broken hopes. Each has had his or her share of tragedy or catastrophe. Katja, the main character of Skinshifter, Dreamdrifter, and now Fireforger, lost her entire clan in a single bloody night. While she managed to survive the sudden massacre that destroyed her family, it took her much longer to relearn how to live. Her friends helped her find hope again just as my family and friends have helped me.

When I write, my yearning is to remind readers not to wade through this wonderful and terrible life by ourselves. Yes, sometimes the waves are gentle enough that we can make it a stroke or two on our own without drowning, but we don’t have to wade through it alone. We need each other to help celebrate each other’s successes and help to buoy each other up through all of the upsets.

My words help keep me swimming toward that new dawn peeking just over the dark shore, but they do no good for you or anyone else unless they are shared. I write not just to survive life, but to understand and overcome it. I write to hope. I write to thrive. My dearest hope is that my words help you thrive too.

Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia

(This article was originally published as a guest blog on Sarah Noffke’s website on 10/14/2016.)

~

The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

FREE STUFF

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén