The Hills are Shadows 6.09 – Erik

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Author’s Note: Book One came back from my editor, so their will be no updates while I get the manuscript ready for publication.

Status of Edits: Structural Edit 4/5.

‘Tis the business of fools to wilt beneath failure, but the wise recognize it as the source of their strength.   

—  VILHELM ITO, TO ERIK

Erik awoke confused, gasping, struggling to separate the real from the imagined. His head rang, thick with torment pitched screams of the Dark One and the enchanted notes of a plucked instrument. He blinked watery eyes and caught sight of Hanna. She sat etched in the light of golden coals, a gilded zither draped across her lap, a haunting vision of feminine divinity. Her hands faltered, and notes turned sharp and piercing. Continue reading “The Hills are Shadows 6.09 – Erik”

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White Fire 5.02 – Leon

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One true friend is more useful than a hundred brothers.

— ANCIENT PROVERB

Cries of “Murderer!” nipped at Leon’s heels as he bolted through Viscount Baldur’s private apartments, fear clawing at his throat. Though no stranger to the emotion, never had it seemed this insidious; it dug deep into his flesh, scratched at his bones. If not for the need to keep moving, he would have collapsed in sheer terror. This was the most daring part of Ypse’s plan, possible danger awaited at every turn, in the form of an invisible Lightbender, in the shape of a descending sword. And there was no telling until he felt the blade in his gut. No telling! Continue reading “White Fire 5.02 – Leon”

A Touch of Madness 4.09 – Erik

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The first taste of the Abyss is always sweet. It’s only on the second bite that one realizes the fruit is rotten and maggot filled. And by then it’s already too late.

— ANCIENT PROVERB

Stomach heaving and twisting, Erik caught Asbjörn before he could hit the ground and cradled him in his arms the way someone might a sickly child. Uncomprehending, he stared at his scarlet-drenched hands as the black and gold scales retreated inside him. Emotions seemed to come in fits and starts, overwhelming him one moment, leaving him empty the next. His hearts thumped like a tempest, tossing thoughts around like rag dolls. And a coppery scent filled his nostrils and his head. Continue reading “A Touch of Madness 4.09 – Erik”

A Touch of Madness 4.08 – Erik

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As a Cultivator, I know the circumstances of my birth is not as important as the way I face my end.

— ERIK ITO, TO ASBJÖRN

Fiend Lord, Patrick murmured.

Emotions flooded through Erik in ever-rising waves, waves of towering fear and anger, swells of heart-wrenching sadness and disgust, breaking over him as if trying to shatter his soul. Asbjörn! ASBJÖRN! Tears streamed down his pale eyelids. Mother, please no. Don’t do this to me. I’m begging you. Please! Continue reading “A Touch of Madness 4.08 – Erik”

A Touch of Madness 4.07 – Erik

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You have limitations. As a Cultivator, you must always remember this. Unlike others, when we heedlessly push past our own limitations, it is not we who suffer but those we love.

— ASBJÖRN MAKI, TO ERIK

With his head pressed at Asbjörn’s side, Erik choked back a cry. His hearts felt so full of sentiment that for a second he worried they might burst. He gripped his adopted father tighter. He wanted this moment to last forever. He never wanted to let go. My Da. My Da.

Perverting the moment with desire, suddenly the Celestial Dragon’s hunger rose within him, making his vision blur. It surged into his limbs, seemed to taint everything about him, his blood, his soul. He felt as if his stomach had turned into a gaping hole large enough to swallow the world. It hollowed him; it made him want to feast on flesh. The arms that were wrapped around Asbjörn’s back began to unspool into tendrils. Continue reading “A Touch of Madness 4.07 – Erik”

A Touch of Madness 4.04 – Númi

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There is no fire like hatred, there is no shark like madness, there is no torment like love.

— ANCIENT PROVERB

Again the nightmare had come.

The rising sun cresting the walls of a black fortress. An ancient citadel . . . Hjörtur. Blank faced, top-knotted soldiers arrayed in neat lines, all glimpsed from squinted eyes. The sensation of a barbed horsewhip cutting into aged flesh. Red rivers spilling out from deep wounds. And then voices lifting as one in mocking laughter.

Númi awoke brow covered in sweat, gasping, struggling to banish the twisted vision that had visited him once again. No one had laughed during his public lashing, he was almost positive of that, but his blood boiled all the same. And though long healed, his back ached where the whip had torn into his skin. Much like the sensations he still received from his missing hand, the pain was not real; he understood that. It was solely an artifact of the mind. Continue reading “A Touch of Madness 4.04 – Númi”

A Touch of Madness 4.03 – Erik

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The deeper one sojourns into the sere and yellow the more introspective they become.

— ASBJÖRN MAKI, PERSONAL JOURNAL

With a start, Erik dropped his gaze from the fleeing dire wolves as another wave of weakness washed through him. The coolness beneath his knees pulled at his eyelids, making them droop as if they weighed a thousand pounds. All he wanted to do was sleep.

Winter Unfolds? Patrick mumbled in amazement. I’ve never seen a Cultivator use it in battle until today. I thought it was useless, only fit to cool cellars.

Vapor rose from the frozen ground around Erik, whipped by gusts of wind into an ice cold mist. With the gusts came scents clogging his nostrils. From kilometers away they came, from long valleys and forested areas teeming with life. The smell of dire wolf predominated, and of grasses and wildflowers. Not far from where he knelt, a family of rabbits had made a din. He could smell them and almost tasted them on the tip of his tongue. Continue reading “A Touch of Madness 4.03 – Erik”