Fiction sneak peak: Gratitude

About: here’s a little peak into what I’m currently working on. The world in which the story is set is one filled with inequality, classism, racism and sexism. The mage Alia Tentras, one of the protagonists, finds herself on the receiving end of an unexpected expression of gratitude.

The sun was in the process of descending beyond the outer rim of the city as Alia made her way toward the Temple District. The light of the setting sun was setting the skies ablaze, painting the marbled world in the colours of fire. The beauty of the red and orange hues did not comfort her, however, instead it filled her with dread. It provoked recent memories of blood and she could not shake the foreboding feeling that had set up a rope-twining business in her stomach. In the pocket of her coat she carried a letter of summons signed with the seal of the the High Priestess that should grant her passage, should being the operative word. Her mind was still in a daze over what had happened, she could not quite accept the reality of what the evidence suggested. Evidence could be fabricated, after all, could it not?

Who are you trying to fool? she thought and let out a small, bitter laugh that was barely audible. What could she but doubt the irrefutable when the truth had such dire consequences? The dread had been there from the start, she realised, but she could never have imagined the scale of it all. It had never been about disgruntled dissidents using artifacts to nourish the embers of rebellion and stoke the fires of civil war as they had initially suspected, almost hoped. The knowledge Alia carried with her as she approached the Temple of Amara could set something far worse into motion. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and wrangled her emotions back into the cage from which they had escaped. Out of all the people in this city… why her?

Alia would have been furious, had she been able to feel at all. Emotion was a cloud she could not have muddling her judgement right now. It was obvious why they had chosen their targets. Even their precision was alarming. In Alia’s mind it painted a picture far worse than rebellion. The pieces of the puzzle she had were barely enough for her to make out the frame, but from that frame she could tell with absolute certainty that it would be a painting drenched in blood. She was forced to put aside her fears for the time being as the Temple District gates appeared before her. The Paladins standing guard immediately took note of her presence.

“She fits the description,” one said to the other after they had ordered her to stop. “Mage Tentras, was it?”

“I have a summons from the High Priestess,” Alia began and reached for the letter in her coat pocket.

“That will not be necessary,” the other one cut her off.

“The High Priestess has already sent word,” the first one droned. “Can’t for the life of me figure out what business a Mage could possibly have seeing the Divine, though.”

“But then again it is not your job to think,” the other one retorted. He gave Alia a curious look. “Come, I will escort you to the High Priestess.”

When they had walked for a short while and come out of hearing distance of the gates the paladin escorting her said, “When The High Priestess spoke to us about your coming I volunteered to be your escort for the duration of your stay in the district.”

Even though surprised, Alia did not answer him. Instead, she waited. Her intuition told her he had more to say. He looked as if though he was searching for the right words.

“I know we have our differences, your kind and mine, to say that we have never seen eye to eye would be an understatement.” He paused again, hesitating for a moment, as if arguing with himself. “My mother refused to tell me the circumstances surrounding my sister’s death, but I managed to get the details from Liaison Sayeh working with you and the Circle. I want to express my gratitude, thank you, Tentras.”

One of Alia’s eyebrows shot up in a surprised arch, and almost missed a step. Gratitude was the last thing she had expected to ever receive from a Paladin. “Your sister’s murder has not yet been solved,” she replied before she could stop the words rolling off of her tongue.

The Paladin averted his eyes and gazed upward at the fire-lit sky. “Yes, I know, but I was moved by the faith Liaison Sayeh had in your ability. It is faith I have come to share. If anyone can find the monster who murdered my sister it is you. Should you fail, well, then I will search myself and if the Goddess is willing find the answers you could not. Come, we are almost there. The High Priestess awaits you.”

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In the search of self

Perhaps it is a very human thing to do,
Striving toward something we don’t really want,
Thinking we want it.
I sometimes read about the journey,
You know, the quest with the capital Q.
“I want to find myself,” we seem to say,
And I find that I harbour similar desires,
Yet at the same time I hope I never do.

Say that I did find all of the fragments,
What then?
Would I be the stagnant sum total of my discoveries and nothing more?
If that be the case I would rather be ignorant and believe in endless evolution of self,
Than boxing myself into a definition conjured by a mind mostly incapable of fathoming the universe within self.
Hardly a line of poetry,
My words are not so inclined,
But a dance with thought,
To the beat of introspection~
Is more so imbued.

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I live therefore I ache

Pain comes in as many forms as you can imagine and hurts for just as many reasons. There’s the constant murmur of chronic pain that settles into numb bones like a persistent ache. There’s the stabbing jolts of damaged ribs as you breathe while trying to fall asleep. There’s the aching cheeks from smiling too intensely as you share a moment with your beloved. Physical pain that annoys, frustrate, and debilitate is perhaps the form I am most used to.

It is a strange thought that flutters around in my head as I find myself kept awake yet again by the aforementioned tormentors. These aching cheeks of mine, ache like my heart does and the cause is the same. As much as I would gladly embrace a good night’s worth of sleep for once there are certain kinds of pain I would not want to part with.

Truth be told, everyone suffers in their own ways, but doesn’t that mean we are pushing the boundaries? Some kinds of pain I believe is life’s way of telling us it recognises our efforts to live to the fullest – and at the same time advising us to slow down, before, you know, the moment passes and all that.

At least that is what I tell myself now that my ribs are keeping me awake and my mind wanders. Good night.

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Today’s inspiration

Today I’m going to let this piece of music provide me with the inspiration for one of my high tension scenes. Brief dialogue, quick-paced battle scene *glares at antagonist* and don’t you dare start with the monologuing! There will be no between-fighting-talk. *Nods firmly*

(One would hope, haha)

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Flash fiction: Seeker

In spite of the rain something had driven Lukas out of his stale apartment. For years he had been plagued by a thirst he had been unable to quench, until now. How he had found himself among the ruins of an old monastery he wasn’t sure, whatever it was that had dragged him out of the apartment had pulled him here. As he ducked inside one of the few parts of the ruins in possession of an intact roof he discovered he was not alone. An old man sat on a dry patch of grass, leaning against one of the supporting pillars holding up a domed cieling. Lukas hesitated, contemplating the company of the roaring rain over the old man’s.

“Be at ease, young one, even if I intended you harm I am too old and too tired. Have a seat, while the rain passes.”

Lukas took a seat, compelled by something in the stranger’s voice. He did not, however, relax. The old man’s attire was unlike any Lukas had seen before, old, worn, and of unfamiliar design.

“Who are you?” Lukas found himself asking.

“As the young come of age and the elderly wither, what is there left of the old but a memory of life since long past?” the man asked in return. “If I had a name once I don’t remember it. I do remember this place, however.”

Lukas’ brow furrowed as the strain of thought drew lines of confusion across it. “This place? What are you talking about?”

The old man chuckled at him. “Never found it odd, Lukas? That places like this one call to you?”

“How do you know my name?” Lukas demanded, suddenly alarmed. The muscles in his legs tightened as he readied himself to bolt out into the rain. He doubted the old man would follow.

“This place was a holy one long before the Christians brought their god north and killed ours. The gods may have died, and the people forgotten,” the old man paused and locked him with a gaze. “But the earth remembers, even the stones hold fragments.”

Lukas did not know what to say, or even if he should answer, and for a long while the only sound echoing among the walls of the ruins were that of thousands of raindrops falling on ancient stone.

“To answer one of your questions, I was the first as you are the current,” the old man eventually resumed. “But hopefully not the last,” he added with a wink.

“The first? I don’t understand.”

“Has the thought ever crossed your mind? If you could look at a reflection of yourself in a hundred years, would you recognize yourself? What about a thousand? What a strange thing it is to wonder, am I looking at that reflection? Or is it looking at me?”

Fragments, bits and pieces that were not even full memories washed over Lukas. Vague impressions and sensory input, but trough them all a strong sense of consistency.

“A sad thing it is,” the old man lamented. “It seems we have lost much over the Centuries. It is no wonder you cannot hear the spirits when all we have is fragments.”

“You…” Lukas breathed as the realisation dawned on him.

“It seems we remember more than I expected,” the Old man laughed.

“What is a thousand years,” Lukas breathed. “When lived in fragments?”

“A blessing,” the old man answered. “You called me here for a reason, Lukas. It is in your nature to search for such pieces. It is a part of what you are.”

“And what is that exactly?”

“A seeker,” the Old man offered and smiled at him.

For the first time in many months Lukas felt as if he had had a sip of water. He did not recognize the man and yet there was something eerily familiar about him. They must have met before, how else could he have known his name? Lukas opened his mouth, ready to fire a series of questions, when the old man suddenly vanished.

Lukas shot to his feet and stared at the patch the old man had occupied. Blinking he tried to make sense of what had just happened. Yet no mater how hard he tried, he found he could only summon vague recollections. Inside of him, though, a seed had begun to grow, a seed that would bloom into a clarity of purpose he had never before felt he possessed.

Lukas knew, he knew what he was… a seeker of memories.

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Only the Lost

I am not so spellbound by the intended destination that I obsess over delays.
Neither am I distracted to the point where I forget why I journey.
However, I am prone to wander and perhaps it isn’t strange then,
To feel lost.
But losing myself in the thickets off the beaten trail is not a bad thing at all.
If life was a symphony it would be ridiculous to assume that the final note was the point.
A journey is no different.
Only the lost hear the music of life,
And learn how to dance.

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My spirit wandered until it happened upon a mountain.
Curious it knocked on the mountain’s roots, listening to the echo of the deep.
The voice of Earthmother spoke:
Please free me from the yoke,
Your kind forced upon my shoulders…

I remember that as my spirit reeled,
I wondered,
Will this be our legacy?

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