Chapter 1 – Prey and Prayers (part 4)

Posted in Novel Project with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2008 by atawords

The rise and fall of the song, as it reverberated and was cut off by the cave’s walls, lulled Karon into a comfortable daze and by the time the bowl was empty he drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep. At the edge of sleep the darkness waited.

“We cannot keep him here against his will, Grandmaster,” Aylindra exclaimed in a rare outburst of emotion. “It is an abomination, a betrayal of everything we stand for!” She folded her hands slowly and tried to regain her serenity. After three full days in the back of a cart, without sleep and watching over Karon, praying and chanting and hardly eating, her sense of equilibrium was harder to maintain. She studied the room she had not seen in a long time, and felt the peace spread in her body and mind again. The study of Grandmaster Doshin was a large room but sparingly decorated. A simple desk of oak-wood stood against one wall, cluttered with large piles of paper, scrolls and a few books. Hundreds of other books and dusty tomes were neatly ordered on long wooden shelves stretching above and beside the desk. Aylindra had spent countless days and night in the room, conversing with Doshin, debating articles of faith, training stances and fighting sequences on the large mat that lay in the center of the room, woven of a strong, rare grass only found few places in the world. Her gaze fell on the man sitting behind the desk, waiting for her to regain her composure. He was her oldest and dearest friend. Together they had uncovered and reinvented many secrets of thotha; the body of holy doctrines, scriptures and fighting techniques of their order. She could not help wondering if she had grown to far apart from the order, after ten years of solitude and contemplation. Doshin had not changed much in appearance, except a slight deepening of the fine lines around his eyes that only showed when he smiled. He was a very short man appearing to be around sixty years old, but it was hard to put an exact age to him, just as it was to Aylindra herself. He was shaved completely bald and dressed in a tight black shirt and loose black pants both made out of the same thick material, ideal for training the body in the physical aspects of thotha. His sinewy body was as fit as when she had left the monastery ten years ago, to seek wisdom in the solitude found in mountains-springs and woodlands or wherever her feet took her.

“His will may not be his own anymore, Aylindra, you know this as well as I,”  Grandmaster Doshin replied calmly. “After all, you were the first to sense it, and deem our involvement necessary. You would not have called us, unless you sensed the gravest danger, and this is the only logical option we have at the moment. If this is what we fear it to be, then we are indeed hard pressed, even to keep him safe here at the compound.” He stood up and started towards the side of the room, moving while thinking had always been one of his small quirks that Aylindra had learned to accept over the years. He paced along one wall, where small metal braziers stood burning incense and spaced evenly between them tall, thick wax candles spread a warm glow in the otherwise dark room. In daylight a window in the ceiling ligthed the study, but it was now blinded off, since there was neither moon or stargazing to be done on this cloudy night. “We must ponder this carefully, my friend, study the records and seek advice from other scholars in the world. We cannot face this threat alone, it has too dire consequences if we underestimate what is inside that boy. He cannot be allowed to run loose!” He clasped his hands at his lower back and kept pacing, deeply engrossed in his contemplations.

“Let me teach him then,” the old woman said, studying her friend and waited for an explosion. He stopped his pacing abruptly, hesitated a moment, then turned around to look deep into her eyes. “Aylindra, oh sweet stubborn, Aylindra. Have you really grown so much, that you have the strength to withstand the horrors of The Living Shadow,” he said with a  barely detectable hint of mockery and jealousy, indicating his own doubts. He shook his head and smiled, realizing his own shortcomings. “No, it is not my place to ask you this, you know better than any your own limitations. You were my superior when you left here, and no doubt you are even stronger in you commitment to our teachings now than any Monk of Zu in a thousand years.” Offering a warm smile in return Aylindra also shook her head. “I am what I am. None of us can know if we have the strength we need until the battle has been ended. This is true in all matters of life, but especially true in this battle. I believe I can help the boy strengthen his inner defences. I will take every precaution I know to not fall victim myself to whatever ails him. I remind you I have succeeded in that so far. We cannot keep him locked up in a cell against his will. If we do, we have already lost by giving up our own principles.” She drew a deep breath and went on. “But I do agree with you, that we need help from outside. You came to my telepathic call from the cave, when I needed you, because you know I would not have called unless the situation required it. Others will make the same conclusion if we send out ravens, knowing our order has never done harm in these lands, but always sought the betterment of ourselves and others. They will come to our aid and together we can discuss a course of action. But in the meantime I want to help the boy adapt to what is to come and not be treated like a vile prisoner if we are mistaken. I sense a lot of good in him. If it really is The Living Shadow we need to nurture that and not give him any reason to turn against us. Or against the world.” The Grandmaster sighed heavily, and knew he had to concede to her logic. “You really have grown,” he whispered to himself. “All right, teach him what you deem appropriate. But I want him exposed as little as possible to the rest of the students. He is free to roam the Gardens of Meditation, I will close it off for all others. And he must take all his meals in his cell, and only leave it accompanied by yourself or me.” He looked at her, raising one bushy eyebrow questioningly to ask if she agreed to the terms. She nodded and smiled at him, her eyes turning into dark-grey orbs of wise compassion. She took a few steps toward him, paused at his feet, and then cast her arms around him in a fierce hug, with a strength and passion unusual for a woman her age. “Oh Doshin. It is so good to see you again, my son.” 

-to be continued in Chapter 1 (part 5) 

~Atawords

© 2008
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Chapter 1 – Prey and Prayers (part 3)

Posted in Novel Project with tags , , , , on November 25, 2008 by atawords

He drifted back into the deep feverish slumber of the mortally ill where only darkness holds the promise of sweet relief.

Slowly the darkness developed a life of its own. Into every nook and cranny of Karon’s fevered mind it seeped. It drifted through his memories, his emotions, everything he had ever dreamed or thought, all of it was consumed and regurgitated by the lazy darkness. With deadly precision it examined his entire being, filing away useful impressions about it’s unknowing host, tainting everything it encountered with a seed of darkness. It was looking for a crack in the substance, a way to embed itself more permanently. It had only encountered a few of this strange species before, and they had all been too wounded to be of any use. The Gnarls were always too violent when angered, but they were the only way to enter this plane of existence on a more permanent level. This sample was different. At first it was just as the others, afraid, confused and weak. But something the nearby female being had done had changed it. The strange noises from its communicating organ were alien and hurtful to sense, but they had changed the host of the darkness in some subtle way. It had stabilized the draining life-force but more than that it had instilled life and hope into the being, somehow it had raised the level of light in the young hunter’s soul. Light in its truest form was anathema to the darkness, but strangely the force of the light mingled with the seeds of darkness, changing the corruption into something new. Something stronger. More resilient. Tantalizing to a consciousness like the darkness, that had memories of roaming the physical planes for millenia. Something new. It decided to wait and see, this situation could still prove lethal to the current host, and possibly it might even banish the darkness to another endless struggle in the ether of semi-existence. At the slightest sign of banishment, it would do all in its power to leave this host and join the other. All it needed was a shadow’s touch.

Smells of roasting meat and herbs gradually registered in Karon’s awakening mind. Carefully he opened one eye a little, fearing in the back of his mind, that the world would start spinning again. He wondered if he was at home in his bed, at the House of All, but something was amiss. Slowly starting to register what his eyes and nose told him, his bafflement rose. He was looking at a rocky wall shaped by natures hand, a meter or so from his face. The shape of his own body cast a shadow on the uneven rock, flickering in the orange light that must come from a fire behind him. With that thought he now noticed the soft smell of smoke in the air, underlying the smell of the roasting meat. Rabbit if his memory could be trusted. Lightly lifting one arm to sit up, he groaned and fell back to his position lying on his side. His body felt odd, hurting and throbbing in several places, but only partial because of an overall numbness that doused all other sensation to a minimum. He was used to sensing every part of his body explicitly. As an aspiring Hunter he had to know his limitations and strengths, and that required an intimate self-awareness. Stubbornly he tried to lift his arm again, but was interrupted by a gloved hand carefully stopping his motion.

“Lie still young one, you have been injured very badly and I don’t want to loose you now, after my hard labor of keeping your soul attached to you body,” a soft and stern voice said, close behind his shoulder. “Where a…” a soft cough broke off Karon’s voice. “Lie still and don’t speak for now. Let me help you lie facing the fire.” With that the hand on his arm moved to grab his armpit, another arm slipped underneath his lower back, and slowly moved him first to his stomach, then hands shifting positions, cropped him up to lie on his other side. She tugged the blankets close to support him while he looked around. He was inside a cave of some sort, possibly the winter dwelling of a bear or another large creature. Dried leaves and twigs were piled around an area to the left, indicating this to be the bed of the beast. The fire in front of him was lined with small rocks to contain it, and confirming Karon’s nose’s earlier impression, a skinned rabbit was sizzling on a stick above the flames. “There now, much better,” the old woman kneeling at his side said, and stood up to turn the rabbit over. She then stirred an iron pot that nestled in the embers to one side of the fire. After testingly drawing a deep breath, and no more coughs came, Karon spoke again. “Where am I and who are you?”

The old woman looked up from her stirring and studied him with a serious expression a moment before she spoke. “My name is Aylindra, young one and we are inside a small cave in the mountains close to where I found you. Or where you found me, I should say. You have been unconscious for two full days now, but what has happened to you I can only guess at. Maybe you can tell me when you regain some of your strength, but now you must save your breath and eat if you can.” With that she turned back to the pot, reached out to grab a small wooden bowl and started filling it with broth from the pot, then sliced some chunks of meat off the rabbit and came to set the bowl beside him with a spoon in her hand. With calm and and slow movements she began feeding him, letting him take his time gulping down the hot meal. After a while she began to sing, in a deep resounding voice. It started as a low hum, but rising into song without words, full of meaning and deep emotion. The rise and fall of the song, as it reverberated and was cut off by the cave’s walls, lulled Karon into a comfortable daze and by the time the bowl was empty he drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep. At the edge of sleep the darkness waited.

-to be continued in Chapter 1 (part 4) 

~Atawords

© 2008

Musings #1 – Do scientists believe in free will?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on November 23, 2008 by atawords

Being something of an agnostic myself, I often watch the battles between fanatic atheists and devout religious fundamentalists, and wonder who is the madder? Both sides have a lot of passion for their side of the ultimate truth. And let me stress, I have no problem with anyone who is willing to listen to another sides view, and then deciding they still are not convinced. The ones i really dislike, are those that can not see anything but their own views, and have no wish of respecting arguments, but always want their own version pushed ahead.

 The other day I then read an article on a Danish online newspaper, about a British philosopher and some moral dilemmas he put forth. He had some very interesting views about free will, questioning how we see it. For instance do we often question a persons free will, when he does something truly random or out of the ordinary. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean, when humans are predictable down to the smallest details in how the lead their lives, how they walk, how they talk, what they say, where they choose to look at a given time, shouldn’t we all ask ourselves if they really choose what they do, and not just follow the lines of a predetermined master-plan? Because if we only consider it free will, when someone do what we expect, then free will does not exist at all, does it?

 Scientists are very much concerned with cause and effect, as they should be. I don’t know if any scientist exist that would claim, that we can map out all  events that occur in the whole universe if we knew enough, but it should be possible, fitting with the model of our universe we use today. The earliest cause we consider is the big bang, and from that moment, everything is just effects. So, the philosopher claimed, if a being, let’s call him Dennis, was aware at that time of Big Bang, and had unlimited time, unlimited capacity for intelligence, and fully understood the laws of physics, it should be possible, quite logically, to map all events leading to the moment that you sit and read this blog. That means that Dennis, billions of years ago, would be able to foretell that you, at this moment, would read these words. And if he was able to do that, then was it really a matter of free will, that made you start reading a few moments ago? And if it was possible to foretell, does it really matter if someone foretold it or not? So if Dennis doesn’t exit, no one foretold it, but just that that it could be raise the question of predeterminism and randomness. Is all random or nothing?

 So my question is, if scientists believe that free will exists, how can they define it, and the same time claim that we can understand all cause and effects to their fullest. Or do they operate with models where free will exist and models where they do not, and if so, how can such models be absolutely free of interaction from each other. And will any interaction between the models not corrupt both? Or I could ask, if true randomness exist, can any choice we make be anything but random? If randomness exist in one place, and the ability to foretell events exactly through cause and effect exist another place, then what keeps those two places from being affected by the other? I imagine scientists would answer in statistics and probabilities, since those are the tools they have, to describe different levels of randomness. But if any level of randomness does exist, then does the free will only exist as our dreams, and thus inside our heads?

The truth is probably that scientist don’t need to consider free will or randomness, they just observe and describe the world as it is. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering what the truth really is, if it exist at all.

Chapter 1 – Prey and Prayers (part 2)

Posted in Novel Project with tags , , , on November 23, 2008 by atawords

Slowly the tendrils of smoke rose over the horizon. Purple and orange colors from the sunset mingled the light-blue background into an almost abstract painting of beauty.

The grey-cloaked figure of an old woman sat by a roaring fire appearing lost in thought, her dark-grey eyes not seeing the sunset at all, but remembering times long lost. The makeshift camp-site was laid out next to a little pond with clear, icy-fresh mountain water trickling slowly down a waterfall, from the stream of ice-melt a level higher in the rocky terrain. The wind was picking up and with a soft shudder, the woman broke her reminiscing off and stood up. “Evil spirits roam the land this night.”, she mumbled to herself and turned to pick up a few of the branches stacked for firewood behind her. Holding them to the ground at an angle, she kicked them to smaller pieces under her leather boot, and tossed them on the fire. Waiting first to see the flames catch onto the new wood, she went to sit down again, this time wrapping a blanket from her sleeping roll around her. “You can come out in the open now, young one,” she said in a raised voice, the tone not unfriendly but not expecting to be disobbeyed either. “The fire can easily keep us both warm.” From an outcropping of rocks and boulders next to the pond, a young man stumbled out in the open, barely able to stand. Sweat and dirt matted his bearded face, and the brown locks of hair hung in clumps, clinging to his skull. His tight linen-clothes in hues of brown and green were smeared with mud and blood, the shirt was torn in gashes across the chest, revealing a deep wound to be the source of the blood. Green clots of a sticky green substance seemed to have been splattered over him too, looking like the sap of some plant or liquid moss. The old woman took all this in at once, but what really had her attention was the feverish, almost haunted expression in his pitch-black eyes. That and the fact that he was holding a large hunting knife in his right hand.

“Blessed be,” he started out, but was interrupted by a violent coughing fit, bloody spittle seeping from the side of his mouth. “Blessed be my ancestors for finding someone,” he finished, wheezing for gulps of air. “Help me,” he went on and stumbled forward. Not getting more than a few steps towards the woman, he fell to his knees and collapsed at the edge of the pond, rolling to lie on his back. With surprising speed and agility the old woman rushed to the now unconscious man, and knelt at his side. Laying one hand at his forehead while beginning to rip the shirt to inspect the chest-wound with the other hand, she withdrew with a sharp hiss. “Dear Light, he’s on fire and corrupted,” she groaned. She sprang up, ran to pond and washed her hands hastily. Then with grim determination she moved swiftly back to rumble through her pack, transfering several small objects to the pockets of her cloak finishing with extracting a pair of tight fitting velvet gloves she always had inside her cloak. Rushing back with swift catlike grace, she knelt and put the gloves on. Crushing some bluish dried herbs in her hands she sprinkled them at his forehead, smearing them out with her thumb, then adding an oily liquid from a corked jar. With his own knife she cut away the remains of his shirt, revealing a muscular torso, tanned and showing a few old scars. The deep gash that ran across his chest required immediate attention. Dipping a strip of cloth in the pond, she started cleaning the wound. When satisfied, she crushed a green herb and rubbed it into the wound, and wrapped it up in a strip torn of her own blanket. The wound baffled her, it was deep enough to make a man unconscious, if he lost enough blood, but it did not look infected with anything that should make her feel the presence of evil she had, when touching his forehead. The sticky green substance was another thing she did not understand. She had never seen the like, but it was only on the outside of his clothes, so she couldnt see how that could be responsible for any disease or the like. Could it be some kind of toxin from a rare plant, he had encountered. “Not important, focus at the task at hand,” she chided herself. She stood up, closed her eyes a few moments drawing strength to herself, focused on the energy flowing through her muscles and let out a slow breath. Then she knelt and lifted the man with ease, as if he was an infant, and went to the fire to lay him on her blankets. As she leaned down to let him go, she sensed something sticky on his backside. Turning him over she at last could see how grave his condition were. Two deep chunks of flesh had been torn from his shoulder and lower back, and a long gash like the one on his chest were drawn all the way along his spine, only missing it by the width of a finger. The wounds where the chunks had been torn were yellow with pus and oozed a yellow liquid. Green chunks of the slimy goo from his front-side were also mingled in the clots of his own blood. Sighing with a mix of deep-felt compassion and utter confusion, she stood to get more water at the pond, and started chanting the prayers of healing to the Higher Beings of Love.  Darkness was approaching fast and it was going to be a long night.

Karon opened his eyes hesitantly. Everything blurred and wobbled, so he closed them instantly again. A dizzying nausea threatened to empty his belly, but he was not sure he had any belly to empty. He was not sure who or what he was, but a distant part of him remembered brief and separated flashes of motion. Something attacking him. Pain. Fury. Fear. Fighting, then flight through forested lands. A series of memories of darkness and light, fear and rage driving him further. Flashing images of trees and bushes, the blue sky, then rocks and stones, the foot-hills of a mountain-range. The nausea increased in strength and the images faded. As if from a long distance he half-registered the sound of a deep, beautiful voice chanting. Then the world spun under him and white noise roared inside his head as if he was standing at the center of an autumn storm. He drifted back into the deep feverish slumber of the mortally ill where only darkness holds the promise of sweet relief.

-to be continued in Chapter 1 (part 3) 

~Atawords

© 2008

Chapter 1 – Prey and Prayers (part 1)

Posted in Novel Project with tags , , , on November 21, 2008 by atawords

 The undergrowth rustled. Sneaking along the edge of the thicket, Karon drew another arrow and nocked it. He tried to settle his breath so he would be able to concentrate and make a shot strike true. The fading daylight left the forest in a somber mood, as the shadows fought the light to become the darkness of night. Dusk was never good for making a clean shot, but in his mind he saw the creature, pushed all other emotion and thought to the back and tried to focus on that one thing. His prey. He had been stalking it for hours, ever since he saw it cross the path he was walking. Again the undergrowth stirred, red and blue leaves moving slightly, this time a little further ahead than before. Edging himself ahead, almost as silently as the best of the Elders, he realized he could now hear the beast breathe, almost rasping for air. It panted just few meters from him. In one swift movement he drew the bowstring taut, erected his body from his half-crouch and rushed ahead to where he expected a clear shot. The shrubs exploded outwards, colored leaves becoming a chaos of teeth and fur as the Gnarl leaped at him. A moldy smell from the shabby fur hit him in the face as the beast rushed onwards. The rotting stench from the fuming mouth was nauseating. Almost flinching, Karon clenched his teeth, while mustering all the courage of his being into making the shot. Black eyes locked with yellow eye-slits. Becoming one with his target, his hand released the bowstring and the arrow buried itself in the furry space between the eyes of the prey with a hollow thumping sound. It was done. The beast fell to the ground, still screaming its high-pitched death wail.  He realized it had screamed ever since he had rushed towards it, just as he let out a deep breath he had not been aware he was holding. Dropping the bow he moved fast towards the beast, while snatching his knife out from his belt. The yellow eyes were already glazing, while a thick green fluid was running from where the arrow protruded. Whether it was blood or brain tissue or something else, he had no idea. The anatomy of Gnarls were a mystery to him, as only a handful had been seen the last two hundred years, and only two had been killed of those, besides the one he now bend over. It then dawned on him what he had just done. He had killed a Gnarl! The Elders would receive him as a true Hunter of Evil when he got back. They would have to. A smile touched his face under the thick beard, as he realized that the Society of Maidens would also have to see him as a hero now. He could dance with all the girls he wanted at the feast tonight. The bonfire would be grand, the mead and wine flow free, singing and dancing would erupt, quail and boar would roast. Musing as he now was, all engrossed in the pleasures of carnal kind, the focus and concentration he had felt moments ago when nocking the arrow was worlds away. Therefore he never heard the small rustles of leaves behind him, never heard the suppressed breathing, never saw the bony claws being raised, never saw the evil yellow eyes as the second Gnarl raised its head and leaped at his back.

Slowly the tendrils of smoke rose over the horizon. Purple and orange colors from the sunset mingled the light-blue background into an almost abstract painting of beauty.

-to be continued in Chapter 1 (part 2), hopefully tomorrow. 

~Atawords

© 2008

Preface – The Dream

Posted in Novel Project with tags , , on November 20, 2008 by atawords

Sharing a dream with millions of others, I dream and have dreamt since childhood, of writing books and becoming an author. So, finally I have gathered the courage to blog, now I want to try my hand at using this blog for writing a book. I don’t know what genre I am most comfortable with, I love to read a lot of genres myself, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Humour, Horror, Philosophy, Psychology and all sorts of other books. I know what I write will have to be something that can catch my own interest and attention, with a passion and fire of both entertaining and sharing thoughts, but where this leads is as great a mystery to me, as it will be to the reader. An author I have followed blogging lately (Brandon Sanderson, writer (in progress) of the last Wheel of Time book, after Robert Jordan’s passing away), wrote that he had heard that the first two or three books an author writes often is crap, so therefore he just wanted to get into it, and get them out of the way fast. I think there is some truth to that. Of course it has to do with learning the trade, but it also involves finding ones own expression and place to stand. For that reason I will not make a plot beforehand, I will not think ahead. I’m just going to jump into it and start with a prologue or chapter and see what happens. I want to not know. Later on I may backtrack and write stuff into it, like foreshadowing and hints to later subplots, but we will have to see how it all turns out. When this project is done, then I might try for another structure next time, with a plot and world and background all figured out before I start writing. I know myself well enough to say, that I am better at creating interesting stuff when I do not have a plan, but also that I am more dedicated and effective when I do have a plan. I will have to find a way to combine the best of the two approaches. 

Brandon Sanderson had another interesting comment on critique on his blog, I might want to try and follow. He says that in writing-groups, where writers share their work, it is very important only to note how readers feel and experience, but never to comment on it. The story is how the writer made it, discussing it will only worsen the feelings that already has surfaced during reading. Rewriting a story to please the audience will only make it the audience’s story and not the writer’s. So what I am saying is, any comment on this blog on my writing will be well received and I will be very thankful for it, however, I will try to live after this idea and never defend why I have written as I have. That does not mean however, that the feedback is useless to me, since it will be a great help in learning how my writing affects different people. And isn’t that what we all want with our writings? To touch others with something that has touched ourselves.

 Feel free to tag along and give your feelings or critique, I will greatly appreciate any feedback of constructive kind.  Since English is not my first language (Danish is) I will probably make a lot of basic errors and mistakes, grammar/spelling-wise because these things don’t jump to my eyes as they do in my own language. Commas are also something I know I often set wrong in English, because the rules are different for Danish and English in that regard, and I have the Danish way set deep in me. I hope the errors won’t be too many, as I have read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy in English over the last 10 years, I should be getting to at least a level that will be tolerable for those of you born and raised with English. My point is, if you catch any errors in my language that are too hard to ignore, feel free to comment on them, I will try and see it as a way of learning and honing my skills.

Now, to the Lab! On with the thinking hat, the creative glove and the sharp colourful Crayon of Magic!

Let the creation commence!

~Atawords

© 2008

From the primordial ooze I rise

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 19, 2008 by atawords

A new beginning. A new birth. Rebirth? I know it not, for my vision is limited, smeared by the ooze of creation. Mý shaking limbs barely sustain my movements, up, up and into the light. There IS light, and there is the land. My perception should not be able to fathom these concepts, yet they do.

I realize that I am not the light.

I am not the land.

I am not the ooze.

I am of these things but not identical. I am an entity into and onto and off my self. I have willed myself into being. I am. Now my pledge to the light will be sacred. I must walk the land, become the light and purge myself of the ooze from which I sprang.

Come, follow me on my journey, though it may be perilous and we all must walk alone, for a time at least we can traverse this world together and see what shall come.

My birth as a writer is initiated.