Word of the Week #69:

Tryst

So, this past week has hurtled by, as I have been forced to just sit and watch; not that I was particularly ill or anything of that sort, of course. When am I not ill, anyway…

Nah, I guess there are just some weeks like this one.

It is, however, disconcerting when we consider the fact that the end of the contract with my current publisher is no longer at the horizon—it is now very much in the forefront—and I have barely begun working on the editing and rewriting required to prepare the second edition of Book One.

I will admit, as have many readers already observed, that the first edition could have used a little more time and work than it was afforded. Well, I am wiser now.

To write is human, to edit is divine.
—Stephen King

Add to that the fact that the manuscript of Book Two is still not quite completely ready and one can very well begun to hyperventilate.

Quite honestly, this is one of those few instances where the word ‘deadline’ could literally be true.

But, as I keep proving to myself more than to anyone else, I am made of sterner stuff than that. Moreover, it have always found it easier to concentrate on a task when it begins to seem, to an uninitiated onlooker, overwhelming.

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.
—Mario Andretti

So, now that the going has gotten tough, it is time for me to get going.

Au revoir.

Word of the Week #40:

Inferno

So, it is our first post of the year, and it comes right snack in the middle of the winter, or whatever weak replacement we have to accommodate here in our beloved tropics…

Still, it is too cold to be complaining about that, which could make you wonder to what am I referring… Continue reading Word of the Week #40:

Book of the Week #27:

Special Post

What is so special about Week #27, you ask? By itself, probably not much…

However, if you look closely at the date, and examine the rest of the blog, you will realise that it has been exactly six months since we began, here.

Happy Semi-Anniversary!

And what better way to celebrate this day, than by giving our readers the first look at our upcoming book, and the sequel to Arrkaya: Origins.

If you have not read Book #1 yet, do not worry, this contains no spoilers.

PS: Yeah, this will be a fiery one…


Immortals
[Arrkaya, Book Two]

Prologue

The Phoenix Rises

Cough! Cough!

She wiped the soot off her face, without pausing for a moment.

The cold valley was filled with mist and smoke. She ran up the slope, through the dark night. Her feet were bare and bloody, and her chest was heaving. She slipped in a pool of blood, and fell headfirst onto the charred remains of a man. With a loud shriek, she darted away, covering her mouth with both her hands.

Her tense skin, taut as that of a drum, could feel the air heating up around her. Drawing on every ounce of her strength, she raised herself to her feet, and continued scampering up the hillside. The grunts of her pursuer grew louder, and air around her grew more and more stifling. She slipped again, crashing down to her knees. With a quick stroke, she wiped off her tears, as a moan escaped her mouth. She did not need to turn around and look, to know that it was already too late…

Warm flames enveloped her body, caressing her, comforting her. She could hear her hair sizzling, as the fire singed her skin. She could feel the inferno around her, consuming her flesh and calcining her bones. And yet, she felt no pain. The fears and the sorrows in her heart seemed to have been burnt away. For the first time in her life, she had found peace.

The night was now quiet. The smoke was beginning to lift from the valley, revealing scorched buildings and charred corpses. The entire town was still. Then, from the ashes of his own mother, arose a boy. His fiery red hair, like wild flames, waved in the breeze, a grim look on his alabaster face. He took a fistful of the ash, and smeared it across his forehead. With steady, confident strides, he moved down the hill, until he stood in the centre of the valley. For the very first time, he opened his smouldering eyes, like a pair of glowing embers embedded in his skull.

“I am sorry, Mother,” he said, his voice calm, unwavering, “but it is not my fault. It is my nature to consume.”

He spread out his arms, feeling the heat around him. Drawing from the ancient voice within his head, he started absorbing energy from the scorched buildings and the charred corpses, draining them of all heat trapped within. The breeze suddenly changed direction, and grew chilly. The few surviving blades of grass wilted, as they began to glaciate.

His eyes were ablaze with this newfound power. Throwing his head back, he let out a roar that rumbled through the valley.

“I AM AZAZEL!”

Character Origins #6: Rolf and Carlos

Year 1276AD
Bleda

“—and now, we can all but pray that his soul finds, in his passing, the peace he sought through life.”

The words were met with an obscure murmur of approval, as he placed a flower on the nondescript grave by the side of an old tavern.

The two soldiers, standing towards the end of the crowd, looked at one another, wondering if attending this particular funeral had been a good idea. Despite the many reasons to not come, they had inadvertently ended up here. The ceremony had been brief, and the words earnest, and it was almost time for them to leave.

“Hullo, gentlemen,” a young man greeted them, his face lips into a weak smile. “How did you know Uncle Arnold, pray tell. I had not expected any soldiers here, today.”

“Ah, well,” Carlos begun, trying to piece together an answer, “we were just passing by—”

“You are not on duty, then?” he enquired, as the realisation dawned on his face. “You! You were the ones who arrested him! How dare—” Continue reading Character Origins #6: Rolf and Carlos

Character Origins #5: Dorian

Year 1278AD
Torden

The scent of wet mud greeted Dorian, as his horse trotted towards the city. The mission had been long and arduous, across the dry, bleak plains to the south of Ostra. It was good to finally be home.

Home, he wondered. Do I even have one?

The sound of horse’s hooves on the soft ground, in conjugation with his own feelings of fatigue and relief, had lulled him into a drowse.

He heard a woman whimper, as she tightly clutched the hem of her gown, tears streaming down her face. The blood on her hands was definitely her own. He had seen this before. He knew.

“What are you looking at?” he heard the gruff voice of a burly man, followed by a smack to the head that sent him sprawling across the small room.

He could see the man advancing towards her.
He could see the terror in her eyes.
He could hear a dull thud, as her head bounced off the wall and landed on the cold floor.
He could see the blood spilling out, drenching her wispy auburn hair.
After that, all he saw was red… His hands, his tunic, the knife at his feet, the wall to his side…
They were all red…

The sudden change of sounds, as he entered the paved roads of the city, roused him. He wiped the sweat off his brow and adjusted himself in the saddle. He had almost arrived. Continue reading Character Origins #5: Dorian

Character Origins #3: Edward and Byron

Year 1275AD
Ostra

“Any thoughts, Your Highness?”

Edward did not respond. He just stared beyond the parapet, his feet rooted to the floor. Somehow, he still did not feel safe.

“How high is it?” Byron asked instead, his face, as usual, showed more fascination than fear.

“Ah! About thirty feet, Your Highness,” Captain Reiner replied, grinning.

“It is not much taller than that of Torden, then. The Wall of Lumiere is twice as tall, is it not?”

“Yes, it is, Your Highness. However, Ostra already has enough natural fortification towards three sides, and as you already know, Torden suffers from other constraints.”

Byron leaned over the parapet, much to his cousin’s chagrin. Taking a deep breath, he spat towards the ground, and observed it slowly falling through the air, and glittering under the noon sun. Continue reading Character Origins #3: Edward and Byron

Character Origins #2: Rafael

Year 1275AD
Staal

Rafael’s Narrative

“How do you feel, My Young Prince?”

On its face, that was a simple question, and yet I did not quite know how to answer it. For one, its tone almost seemed to mock me.

Yes, after three years of absence, I would have preferred to have my family welcome me home, and to not have every meal for the past week by myself, but I had not expected it. We are not the most sentimental of people, anyway.

Still, it did feel good to be back.

Despite the many changes within and beyond the Castle, the view across our balcony had remained the same. The dull, limestone mountains to our North looked just the same, under the pale blue sky. The quarrying operations were probably being conducted further to the North.

Continue reading Character Origins #2: Rafael