First, the saddish news of my divorce being finalized on Feb. 4, 2016. Almost a quarter century of marriage.
But, now I can start to move my life forward once again. In that spirit, beginning later today, the Amazon Kindle edition of Moonsword will be on sale for only 99 cents for one week only. In the UK the sale is from 2/12/16 to 2/19/16. Get your copy right away. Oh, and tell a friend. Thanks!
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Later today and lasting a week thereafter the Amazon Kindle edition of Moonsword will be on sale for only 99 cents. Get your copy today!
Sunday, May 24, 2015
I'm behind schedule on Empress, and going slower than I thought on The Silver Light...life sometimes gets in the way with creativity and editing work specifically (no fun at all). I apologize for the delays but promise to come through with all announced releases on Kindle and here, just a bit behind schedule... Thanks for Reading!
Saturday, May 16, 2015
“Hail unto thee Mighty Sun in thy Rising. Travel in thy glory through the Kingdoms of the Day.”
Brythia held her arms outstretched in salute for a moment and tried to focus her mind on the sun. She lowered her arms from the salute, but continued to watch the sunrise between the twisted, bare tree branches from her position on the hilltop. The irony of a druidess performing her salute to the rising sun from her current location on the moon was not lost upon her as she caught a glimpse of the earth high in the sky above.
She had fallen out of some many habits in Lorm. Today she was determined to find strength in her druid faith to uphold her through the dark days of uncertainty ahead. It felt good to embrace the tradition again. She felt charged with the Solar Fire once again. After all, she was a Priestess of the Sun in her old life, before Tolian.
Oh Tolian. How short their time together had seemed. But today was the day. Tolian was going back.
Brythia struggled to keep the rising sun in the forefront of her mind, but it was difficult at best. The sun, a glowing ball of golden pink, cleared the treetops from the large grove of oak trees that crowned the hilltop behind the Moon Goddess’ Tower. She visualized the life-giving strength of the sun as infusing her with its warmth and energy. The life force of the universe moved through her. The sun’s rays charged golden through her veins. Revitalizing. Harmonizing. Balancing. Her breathing became easy now. A final glance at the sun and she turned, drew her cloak close about her and headed back to the tower.
She walked with more strength and courage on her return trip than she had coming out there and it felt good. Wholesome.
She broke through the trees to the cleared perimeter of the tower. The tower itself looked down on the clearing from its considerable height. A white tower, smooth and without visible stone lines, as if it had been hewn of a single, massive stone, was shaped rather like two thirds of a giant, though slender crescent reaching high into the sky.
She came up through the garden side, the fountains now glowing golden red with the sun’s light reflected in their cascades. A small amount of snow covering everything caught up the light in its crystals and for a quick moment a white brilliance flashed all around the daylight moved quickly into full sway.
It was always the same. Every night a snow would fall and every morn a thaw and springlike clime would follow. She was getting surprisingly used to it.
Copyright 2015 Diana Hignutt
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Kiliordes sat on the corner of his cot. He was lost in his thoughts. One idea after another swirled through his dizzy brain. Nothing seemed real to him. How could it? After everything he had been through. It was almost impossible to believe it all had really happened. The Demon. The Princess. The Faerie Warlord. The Druidess. The Chase. And now, here he was newly appointed leader of the Solar Pilgrimage Festival. He laughed out loud. No, none of it could be real. Except, of course, that it was. It had all really happened. And now he was sitting in his tent, trying to calm his breathing and make sense of the craziest thing of all. His best friend’s disembodied, demonically possessed head lay on his table a few feet away cackling like a madman.
“Shut up,” he shouted at the thing without looking at it. He could not bare to. Then, he remembered that he was in a tent, and probably a great many people could hear him when he shouted. They could probably hear the cackling head too.
“S-s-ssh! Quit!” he commanded in a whisper. “People will hear.”
The head’s laughter became more subdued, more of a sinister snicker.
Once again the panaroma of all that he had passed through recently assailed him.
Little more than a year ago he was some else entirely, two people actually. He had been Rwiordes, a largely unsuccessful merchant turned would be sorcerer. Rwiordes and his friends, Perelisk and Hertrid, had botched a magical ritual to summon earth elementals to guide them to treasure. Instead they allowed a demon of unimaginable power to take possession of them one by one and launch a conquest to destroy the world. He had also been the druid priestess, Kilfrie who had the gift of Hamfahring–the ability to take possession of any creature she wanted. She attempted to take possession of the demonically controlled Rwiordes to stop the Demon. For her trouble, both she and Rwiordes’ consciousness were banished to the very pit of chaos from which the Demon had come. Together they unified what was left of themselves into a single being-a being of perfect unity that could not exist in the Demon’s realm of pure chaos. As this new being he was able to regain control of Rwiordes’ body and helped Tolian defeat the Demon. After that he was given the position of favorite advisor to the King of Lorm, a task at which he did his best. He went by the name Kiliordes now–an amalgam of both the names his old selves went by. He was neither of those people now. He was someone new. A being of perfect unity. Just before Tolian was kidnapped he had been asked to lead the Solar Pilgrimage Festival. He joined Princess Brythia’s quest to find her mate, but when the search led them to the Realm of Faerie, a place from whcih no mortal had hitherto returned, he bid his farewells and headed south to Surtiz and the Pilgrimage. He wondered if the Court of Lorm missed him yet. If they realized that he wasn’t coming back. Probably not yet, at any rate.
It took Kiliordes a few weeks of lonely travel, leading the horse and belongings of Pagyrus, the pilgrima who recruited him, but whom had died by the hand of the traitor Delorick, Captian of the Royal Guard. Pagyrus had died to save Kiliordes.
He had arrived at the Pilgrimage only a few hours ago, now. According to Pagyrus, the previousl leader, Krin Gul, had upon his death bed, recommended Kiliordes as a replacement to lead the pilgrims. Once Kiliordes had arrived the pilgrims would hear none of Kiliordes protestations of unworthiness, and they immediately installed him in Krin Gul’s tent.
It had not been five minutes since he had found Pagyrus’s bag which had been accidentally mixed in with Kiliordes’ personal items and placed in his tent. And inside that bag, he found the demonically possessed head of Perelisk, his best friend and the first to be possessed by the Demon.
Just then, the head cackled again, drawing Kiliordes from his reverie.
“Ssssh,” he whispered again.
“But, my old friend, don’t you want to hear what I have to say?” asked the Demn’s head.
Kiliordes covered his face with his hands, “Why should I care what you have to say? You’re probably not even real.”
How could it be real? He had, himself, using Tolian’s Moonsword, severed this very head from his best friend’s possessed body, almost exactly one year ago in the ruins of fallen Keythion. After all he had been through–he was doubtlessly exhausted and prone to this sort of delusion. Most likely it stemmed from the guilt he felt over killing Perelisk.
“Oh, I’m real enough,” hissed the head.
It did, certainly, seem real. Perelisk’s head, hardly decomposed, cut smoothly at mid neck with no significant gore. The eyes were all black. No whites. Just a deep blackness.
“You should be dead,” Kiliordes replied finally.
“Because I killed you.”
He head snickered, “What makes you think you could ever kill me? I am immortal. I am as old as the universe itself. No mortal can kill me.”
“But, we assumed that I met the criteria of the prophecy,” responded the new pilgrim.
“Oh please, spare me that druidic nonsense. Do I seem dead to you, my old friend?”
Well, the Demon’s head did have a point, Kiliordes realized.
“You are just a decapitated head,” he said. “You may yet live, but in such a state, I fail to see how you pose much of a threat. I shall find a way to finish the job I started.”
“You will not be able to,” stated the head matter-of-factly.
Kiliordes sighed, “Then I shall lock you away in trunk and leave you there forever. What mischief could you do from there? Little, I expect.”
“Perhaps you are right, perhaps not. You cannot imagine the mischief I have already caused in this condition. But, if you continue to talk to me in a civilized manner, I will obey you. There are many things I can teach you. Secrets” The Demon’s head promised.
“You have no secrets that interest me,” Kiliordes declared defiantly. “You are a thing of chaos. A twisted creature of evil. I am a being of unity. Others may care to hear your words, but I am beyond the need to discourse with you.”
And with that, Kiliordes walked over to the table, gingerly picked up the head by the hair. It stared at him with hatred. He stuffed the head back in the bag from whence it had come, and placed the bag inside the chest that sat against the side of the tent. He wiped his hands on his tunic and stepped outside of his tent.
The clean air was chill and instantly invigorating. Around him dozens of colorful tents were pitched. Orange, Red, Pink, Blue. Yellow. The colors lifted his spirits immediately. Pilgrims moved here and there about the camp, signing or humming. Laughter rang out from every corner of the encampment. Above, the sun shone down, its golden rays bringing warmth to the January afternoon. Kiliordes breathed in all in deeply. Once again joy entered his heart. A red haired pilgrim girl, walked by with a smile bright on her face and a curtsie to him. The frown that marked his face was replaced by a smile in return. He let the unpleasantness fade from his memory and headed towards the food tent.
Bright smiles greeted him at every turn. As he moved through the pilgrims, all decked out in colorful outfits he remembered more of his time with the pilgrimage over a year ago. He had escpaed the Demon’s thrall and found his way to the pilgrimage. He travelled with them, disguised as a pilgrim, until Krin Gul could get him to Lorm to warn them of the Demon’s coming invasion. That was the happiest time in Rwiordes’ life. He realized that he had not changed into the pilgrim clothing that had been provided for him. He looked completely out of place in his drab Lormian gear. He would change soon enough. Right now, he needed wine or ale and some food. The pilgrims ate only the best food and enjoyed only the finest of beverages.
The Solar Pilgrimmage Festival had existed for the last three hundred years. The pilgrims were devotees of the Sun’s influence. They believed that everything owes its existence to the sun. They travel south in the winter and north in the summer in a joyous caravan that is always moving following the path of the sun’s journey. They spread the love and joy of the sun to all. They often stay on the estates of nobles and enjoy the patronage of the wealthy. Their presence is considered good luck and as such the pilgrims are always welcomed. They travel, always singing hymns and carols to the Solar Fire, always feasting and drinking, stopping only for a few days in each district their journey takes them through.
Kiliordes paused before the entrance to the dining tent. A breeze that whispered the promise of spring caressed his cheeks and reminded him that life was going to be so much more pleasant now. He regarded the tent. It was just as he remembered from the previous year. It was the largest tent of the encampment, a patchwork of brilliant color, looking more like a giant quilt than a tent. On the door flap was stitched a design showing pilgrims engaged in a lavish feast. It brought a smile to his face. He pulled aside the flap and entered.
Immediately the delightful scents of roast spiced goose caught his attention. His mouth began to water. His attention was distracted by the calls of greeting that rang out through the tent.
Seated throughout the the tables and chairs were dozens of smiling pilgrims. All wore simple expressions of joy at the sight of him. He stopped, his smile widening.
“Hail, to you all, my fine pilgrims,” he said.
Jortish,a stout, balding fellow with a near crimson beard, who had been acting chief pilgrim until Kiliordes had arrived, sprang to his feet,
“Here, good Kiliordes,” he gestured to the unoccupied seat next to his. “Please join me.”
Kiliordes nodded, and made his way to the offered seat.
With a deep laugh, “And to you, our new captain,” he said. Then turning his attention to the youth on serving duty, “Cerdo, some food, for the new Head Pilgrim.”
“I don’t remember officially accepting that position yet.”
Jortish laughed with even more gusto, “Ha, as if you have a choice, friend Kiliordes. But you do not. Look around you. See all these faces? They need you.”
Kiliordes cast his gaze around the dining hall. All the faces were trained on him, each with a look of joyous hope, of expectation. These were good people. The very best. They did not care for power, either political or supernatural. They were lovers of life. Revelers in existence, in being. And all that they wanted in this world, at that moment, was for Kiliordes to accept the charge of leading them. He could feel it emanating from them, as an almost palatable force.
“How can you deny them the simple gift of your guidance, my lord?” Jortish asked.
Indeed, he wondered. How could he? He felt such peace in their presence. Such happiness. Feelings of contentment (which grew even more as a plate of duck and mushrooms was set before him) drove away bitter memories of the Demon, and the constant struggles to maintain the peace in Lorm. Deep in his heart he understood this was where he belonged.
“Who better to lead us than the Champion of Keythion? Savior of the World? How could we ever hope to replace Krin Gul with a more esteemed person? I would not be surprised if Krin Gul, would have stepped down for you to take his place had you returned to us sooner.”
All around pilgrims nodded in agreement, the hope written on their faces becoming more and more pronounced. How could he deny them? They had accepted him. They had wrapped him their warm embrace of welcome. All that they asked was for him to lead them in their wandering celebrations. His heart was burning with happiness and love for these people.
Chants of “Kiliordes” now rang out through the tent. This attracted other pilgrims from outside who came pouring into the tent to join in the entreaty.
“Kiliordes, Kiliordes, Kiliordes!”
Their hope was contagious. He wanted nothing more than to travel in quiet retirement with these people, simply celebrating life. If they wanted him to lead them, he could not refuse. With smile turned to laughter, he stood up at his place. He waved down the cheering with his hands before he spoke.
“Okay, Okay! It is with great happiness that I accept the leadership of the Solar Pilgrimmage Festival. I shall do my very best to follow in the tradition that Krin Gul has established. I am honored to be your humble servant. I will do as you ask. I offer my sincerest gratitude to you for this warm welcome. Let us work together to spread the love of life that the Sun teaches us. Hallah! Hallah! Hallah!”
The call of “Hallah! Hallah! Hallah!” was used as the pilgrims entered a new district. The head pilgrim would enter a town shouting the salutation to announce the arrival of the pilgrimage. The towns folk would then shout it back in excitement. For the Solar Pilgrimage Festival always brought good fortune. Kiliordes had shouted with Krin Gul many times in their journeys together.
Now the pilgrims returned his call, “Hallah! Hallah! Hallah!”
His face hurt from smiling, and his cheeks were bright red. In his heart Kiliordes knew that this was where he was supposed to be. This was his purpose.
Copyright 2015 Diana Hignutt
Saturday, May 2, 2015
There was something strange about seeing the moon, pale and barely visible in the day sky. It seemed out of place. Only half its face venturing forth, all but lost in an alien environment; its brilliance diminished and mostly hidden in the country of the sun. How alone the nighttime orb most have felt there. Serendi felt a deep kinship with the sphere. She was just beginning to understand what it meant to be alone.
She sat on a large stone two dozen yards from the house where she had lived with her mother her entire twelve years of existence. She watched as people filed into the house to pay their respects with solemn faces and empty words. She couldn’t stay in there one more moment. She left her Aunt Cheldre to deal with them. Aunt Cheldre wasn’t really her aunt, but Serendi had always called her that. She was her mother’s best friend and her apprentice in the herb shop. She was all Serendi had now. Except, of course, her father.
Serendi hadn’t seen her father in over a year. He was not married to her mother, but when he was around, they had always gotten along. His name was Rwiordes and she loved him. He was a kind man. Not rich, but generous with what he had. She remembered him. She knew he loved her. Their time together was always too short, but he they had always made the most of it. She longed for his company in this time of her need. Her loss.
And then her thoughts moved back to her mother once again and the tears started for the thousandth time that day. Why? It wasn’t fair. She needed her. Serendi was only twelve years old. Too young to be without her mother. She wiped the tears away with her sleeve, and sniffled.
She stared up at the lonely moon. Did it feel its state of loneliness? Did it know how out of place it was it the daylight? How its light was diminished? Its mystery cold and dim? To Serendi it did. It felt its pain like she did. She was sure of it. All alone and out of place. The moon had no one else to turn to.
Serendi was startled by the man’s voice. She looked down from the moon to see a man sitting on a horse, right next to her. He was dressed as a warrior, wearing armor, but no helmet, and a long sword was sheathed strapped to his back. He had sandy hair and a beard. His horse was a brown stallion, with light armor matching the warrior’s.
“I’m sorry if I startled you, Miss.”
“Oh, no, I’m sorry. I was just...well, you didn’t startle me, or, not much, anyway.”
“Good. I was wondering if you could direct me to the house of Moresta the Herbalist, I come from Lorm. My name is Oglest.”
Serendi was surprised by the strange knight; and more so that he was looking for her house.
“Have you come for the viewing?”
“No, I come with tidings and a gift from Lord Kiliordes. I left from Lorm ere the Solstice. So, Moresta is dead then?”
“Yes, sir, she is. She was my mother.”
Oglest was obviously taken aback by this news. Serendi watched his face, saw the familiar expressions there that she had come to know so well. The look of sympathy.
“I’m so sorry, Miss. I, I offer my sympathies.”
He looked over at the house, at the line of people waiting to enter.
“Well, I suppose then that this message and this gift are yours. I come with greetings from your father, who is now Lord Kiliordes, Counselor to the King of Lorm.”
He unfastened a leather bag which hung from his belt and handed it to her. She numbly took it and looked inside. The bag was filled with gold and silver coins.
“Your father sent this for your benefit. He regrets that his duties prevent him from visiting you himself, however, he did not know about your mother’s passing...”
“Look, um Sir Oglest, I think you have the wrong house or something. My dad’s name is Rwiordes, and he’s a merchant trader by profession. He’s not Lormian.”
The man smiled softly and kindly.
“Apparently, I have much to explain to you,” he said.
Copyright 2015 Diana Hignutt