Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: First Fruits (Page 1 of 4)

How Who We Know Shapes Who We Become

A pair of mallard drakes swim through the tangled limbs of autumn-hued trees. Tap the image to learn more.

Today on SCRAWLS, I chose to show a piece of writing that highlights the change in two characters’ relationship. Felan and Daya’lyn began their relationship as enemies. In fact, Felan tried to kill Daya’lyn the first time they met. It still amazes me how much these characters have grown and have changed through their friendship with each other. Neither of them would be who they are now without knowing the other. It’s a reminder to me that people rub off on each other in some of the most interesting ways.

How we choose to influence others can make all the difference in the world.

Anyway, without further ado, here is today’s in-progress scene snippet.

~

Silence ruled the room again until Zahra spoke. “Since Queen Manasa cannot overcome the distance across the continent and Katja cannot set paw back in the Wraith Realm, is there any hope of contacting Caleb?”

“What about using our own message system?” Prince Ashomocos offered. “Inquisitor Daya’lyn could compose a letter written in such a way that only his father would understand its contents and send it to him via carrier pixies.”

Saldis drummed his pudgy fingers on his lips. “Assuming that they even could make it past the gargoyles and other deadwalkers patrolling the Sylvan Forest, delivering a message by such carriers would take several weeks. It is feasible though.”

The Inquisitor looked at Saldis and slowly shook his head. “The Ring Spells won’t allow for it. No being or beast can find Caerwyn Castle if they are looking for it unless they have been there before and hold no ill will toward the inhabitants therein. It’s part of the fortress’s defensive measures.”

“How did we find it when we first met you then?” Felan asked.

“You weren’t looking for it, my friend.” Daya’lyn cocked a white eyebrow at the werewolf. “And you meant no harm to come to anyone inside the castle until after you had already crossed the protective boundaries.”

“Yes, I believe I owe you a rematch, by the way.” Felan’s paw rubbed his ribs even after he grinned at the other male.

Daya’lyn’s upper lip curled to reveal a blunted fang as he smirked. “I’ll best you anytime you choose.”

He turned to gaze back at Katja. “We need a faster alternative. Considering what Her Majesty has just told us about the growing dangers in the Wraith Realm, we are running short on time. If we do not find the Keystones quickly, the war in the Wraith Realm could very well spill into the Erde Realm and we will be defending our world against Asheken and Drosskin alike.”

“Surely, it won’t come to that!” Queen Manasa said. “The Realms of Existence are separate, after all.”

“They are far more intimately intertwined than you might think. What happens in one directly affects events in the others. The deadwalkers are getting bolder, which means that the Drosskin will also gain strength. My guess is that the new breaches in Edgewater occurred because Luther’s allies managed to open the gateway between the Ott vre Blaec and the Ott vre Cael mirrors—even if only briefly. That is an evil that has not occurred in this world since the First War of Ages. If the Drosskin find a way into our realm from theirs, it may well mean the end all hope for beings in any realm.”

~

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 BOOKS!

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 a Child Can Teach Us About Courage

“Leaf Among Thorns” – Tap for more information

During our church’s Fall Festival, I painted kids’ faces in bright colors which helped crack shy, little smiles wide open into enthusiastic grins. A day later, my cousin buried his three-year-old child after a tragic accident took his life. My thoughts and prayers have been swirling around the family of a precious little boy I’ve never met ever since. As I approach my thirty-fifth birthday, I do so while recognizing that one life has ended barely three years into its incubation while another continues on through prime adulthood.

Life is neither fair nor painless.

When staring at the inevitable falling curtain of death, every minute detail of life takes on special significance. Even the idea of one person’s life proving somehow significant comes into question. What does it mean to live a significant life? Can a three-year-old’s life even be called significant?

In reading the obituary, one line struck me: “He touched our hearts, made us laugh, [and] scared us by his fearlessness…” That word “fearlessness” stirred something deep within me…like the half-remembered emotion from a day-old dream. I had lived and loved fearlessly once, hadn’t I?

The courage of children is such true inspiration because their courage lets them show themselves as they truly are with all their faults and foibles, all their love and joy. Children don’t posture; they simply are who they are. It’s only as children age that they learn to hide parts of themselves—the undesirable parts, the unpopular parts, the shameful parts. We learn to heed societal norms over our own God-given consciences, and we try fit inside the safe, little molds others make for us.

But is all of this pretense in pursuit of respect and success worth losing sight of our true selves?

By many standards, I am considered successful. I graduated from one of the top public universities in the United States. I have worked for one of the leading newspapers in my field. I founded my own company and owned my own house before the age of 30. I have published multiple books with more the way. I’ve created more than 1000 pieces of award-winning photography and art. I’ve had some of that work showcased in places like Times Square. I also count several prominent people among my friends and relatives. In short, I’ve managed to accomplish several things that not many other people have. Yet do all of those successes make me feel that I live a life that is significant? No.

As proud as I am of my accomplishments and of the respect that they have garnered me, I’ve never found the accolades all that fulfilling. I know thousands of authors who have written and sold far more books than I have. I’ve met business people who sold their first companies for unspeakable amounts of money even before they finished college. For every accomplishment I’ve made, there will always be someone else who has accomplished more. There will also be someone who has accomplished less. The problem with personal success being a measure of significance is that success is subjective.

So if success isn’t a measure of significance, then what is?

The answer lies in that little boy’s obituary: touching hearts and living fearlessly. To live a life of significance means that you must live it fearlessly in the pursuit of helping others. Of course, the problem with this is that fearlessness requires taking risks. This life isn’t a fluffy fairytale. As grownups, we have the experience to know that while life can be beautiful and joyous, it is also sometimes agonizing, unfair, and cruel. I can easily lose everything in the process of showing my true self and my using true gifts to touch other aching hearts. I risk hurting when I care.

While it’s tempting to want to go through life curled up in a corner trying to shield myself from all of the suffering, that’s not living—that’s just waiting for death. Living a life of significance means that you know your courage will take you into some dangerous places, and you go anyway. With your heart in your throat, you still serve. With a white-knuckled grip, you still pray. And with trembling feet, you still walk forward. Yes, your footsteps will falter. Yes, you will fail. Yes, pain will sometimes overwhelm you, but so too will joy. To live a significant life means that you are not blind to the thorns growing in your path. Instead it means that you choose to run down that path anyway because you understand that the only way to win the race is to push straight through the pain until you can reach the joy on the other side. If you and I are brave enough to do this, then we might just make it through the brambles and help others to hobble down the path right along with us.

Living a life of significance means living a fearless life of sacrifice.

I was reminded by the smiling faces of children how a few brush strokes made with an artist’s love can bring such joy to someone else. Every breathing moment we have on this planet can be one that propagates love or one that smothers it. No one makes it out of here alive. Consequently, how we live our lives remains the only choice we can make in the inevitability of death. Do we choose to bravely battle to touch other hearts through our best efforts or do we choose to surrender breath after breath to apathy until there are none left for us to lose?

Life is a series of breaths and I hope to use as many of mine loving others while I can. I choose to make my life significant by rolling up my sleeves, holding out my heart, and declaring that the lives of others matter. And I was reminded to do this not by some ancient sage’s words of wisdom, but by the simple moniker that a grieving family chose to describe their beloved son: “fearless.”

Thank you, cousin, for the gift. I love you. Do not fear the thorns.

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 BOOKS!

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 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

Will Her Magic Be Strong Enough To Reach Across A Continent, Or Will Her Desperate Entreaties Go Unanswered?

In progress artwork. Please comment about the way you want me to color it.

Today on SCRAWLS, Katja and her allies seek the help of Lauraisha’s mother Queen Manasa to try to contact Daya’lyn’s father Caleb using the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror’s magic shards. While not as well-trained of a mage as her daughter Lauraisha, Manasa is nonetheless a powerful dreamdrifter mage. Her determination to find any way she can to help her daughter may give her the strength she needs to communicate across the Sylvan Continent and find the answers they need.

~

That night as Katja curled underneath the scratchy woolen blankets that humans used instead of proper sleeping furs, she couldn’t help but be nervous about Lauraisha’s mother’s attempt to contact Caleb. When Katja and her packmates were journeying to the kingdom of Tyglesea in the first place, the werecat had shared brief dreams with Manasa. The dreamdrifter’s mind was a powerful one, and yet the distance that she would have to traverse to reach Caleb was so much longer than it had been when she had called to Katja. Even with the Ott vre Caerwyn mirror shards’ added strength and Katja’s aid, how could Manasa’s thoughts possibly reach across a continent?

Katja fell asleep still wondering about the possibility, and soon discovered her answer in her dreams. As her mind drifted away from the reality of her scratchy blankets and too-soft bed, Katja found herself walking down the castle’s corridors and out along the narrow beach just below Summersted. In the distance, she saw a human walking along the waves toward her—the female’s long, dark hair and indigo skirts tossed by the same billowing breeze that ruffled the werecat’s golden fur.

Katja stopped before her with an unspoken question perched upon her lips.

“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.”

~

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 about how to color my in-progress piece of artwork that 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

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