Alien worlds and time without beginning or end...
...alternate planes and multi-dimensional beings...
...beyond mortal ken...
...dangerously within reach
Do I love building a universe of science fiction and fantasy? I do. Exploring the personalities of dragons, the motivations of immortals, the workings of speculative science and the nuances of magic is fun to me. The more I write about it, especially all in one novel, the weirder it gets. It’s certainly a far cry from the first draft. Granted, it still resembles it, the way you can see the likeness between someone’s childhood and adult photos. It has definitely changed over time. The mythology keeps on growing and the characters ending up with new nuances of personality. Like any other, this novel reminds me almost daily that you can plan all you like, but you never know what'll unfold while writing until you're writing. That's not something that comes by waiting for inspiration but by just getting on with writing. I keep writing it, watching the story grow bigger and stronger and thicker. It keeps getting stranger, but every time I find something new in it I just love it even more. I keep pushing closer to the finish, adding and tweaking, eager to see how all its details come out and what cover designs I’ll finally settle upon. Sadly, like an obsessed mathematician, I may need to invest in a good brain scan after I‘m done. On the upside, high energy bombardment. Yum.
WIP currently over 366,000 words stuffed into 2000 pages. That count is continuing to rise, so expect plenty. Currently passing through pages 1500-2300 as I translate key brain engrams into Part Four. The decision has been made to unleash this colossus in more than one piece. It had to do with the concerns over physically binding so many pages. Part One is a little over 80K words and out in the world for your reading pleasure. Part Two is coming soon, but it's still undergoing final edits and awaiting a cover. It currently stands at a little over 107K words. Thanks for joining me.
CHILD OF FIRE AND BLOOD
Once upon a time, in the Age of Legend, lived an ancient and powerful beast of Chaos. With awesome might, the creature rampaged freely, destroying at will. Unchecked for uncounted ages, this Old One roamed through land, sea and void; traveled between planes, dimensions and worlds; churned primordial soups and rent landscapes asunder. Neither mortal nor immortal could catch, tame or kill one as clever and powerful as she. By turns, the destructions of the monster seemed indifferently random, hungrily specific, or as furiously gratuitous as the unbridled wrath of the elder gods themselves. Still, there would always be those who would pursue, attempting to challenge her prodigious might. Everywhere the fearsome beast would go, something would follow in its broad wake, even if only Death.
One day while in the midst of ravaging the surface of ancient Tarakk, the beast of Primeval Chaos found itself weary and decided it would disguise itself, fluidly reshaping great sinews and making shadowy aspect solid, so that hidden it might rest a while. The folktales of several cultures reported the great beast’s extreme weariness to have been induced by its partaking in a drinking binge with the elder god Coyote himself, having his sport as irrepressible trickster.
“You don’t appear to be at your best,” Coyote shouted as he materialized in a flash of purple atop the head of the great galumphing hulk.
In the form it wore that particular dark day, the top of the monster’s leathery back reached some forty feet above the ground. Tremendous, clawed feet crushed everything beneath them as eight huge legs thicker than any tree on the planet drove them thundering into the ground before propelling the huge creature bounding forward again. It took note of the immortal’s relatively tiny figure through three of its dozen eyes before deciding to acknowledge him.
“Why do you presume to have knowledge of me?”
“Oh, I watch you from time to time, dear sister,” Coyote replied. “You wear different forms in different places, but I always know when it’s you. Even if we weren’t family, you really throw yourself into your work.”
“So, you keep running that way and you’re likely to run into Phoenix.”
She dug her hard claws into the rocky ground, skidding to a halt amidst a billowing cloud of dust. The creature’s heavy breathing began to create a thick fog that wafted slowly downward to mix with the rising dust. Her many eyes locked onto The Trickster without even an instant’s attempt at bravado.
“The Destroyer is here?” the beast asked in terror. “Why? Why here? Why now?”
“Destroying upstarts, creating new lifeforms, burning, blazing, resurrecting…something. Giving mortal lives meaning,” Coyote shrugged. “Who can keep track? Keep going that way, though, and you‘ll likely find out for yourself.”
“Oh? Where are we going?” Coyote asked, a hint of excitement in his voice.
“Anywhere,” the beast answered. “Everywhere.”
“You mean, you’re just running? There isn’t even anything chasing you?”
“I run from nothing!” the creature roared. “I just like running.”
“Well, I like drinking,” Coyote said, taking a swig from a fluted wine glass that suddenly appeared in his hand. “It holds the same potential for Chaos without all the effort of crashing about. Try something different and join me.”
“I‘ve neither time nor interest. I would be left alone.”
“You seem tense and irritated,” Coyote said. “Sounds like you could really use a drink.”
“Busy? You look more…constipated than anything.”
“I’m…concentrating. I’m trying to build energy, but I will need more time before I can shift planes again.”
“There, now…Was that so hard?” Coyote asked jovially, patting the Old One playfully on the forehead. “Hey, is that blue fog normal?”
“It will cool me,” the large one said as she continued to exhale the bilious cloud, “without drawing attention from The Destroyer that blowing fire might.”
“Whew!” Coyote shouted, waving his hand at the air in front of his face. “What a smell!”
“You came to me. I would as soon be left alone.”
“The First Child has taken a significant interest in this world. I doubt that whatever is being set into motion is going to just wait on your readiness to depart.”
“Depart,” Coyote said.
“Yes, as quickly as I can,” came her agreement.
“Alright, well till then, you might find someplace to stay out of sight. Don’t ask me why, but Phoenix has some fondness for this rock and might object to finding you crushing everything.”
“Mortal realms are fragile places.”
“Agreed. The little ones need to imagine better. It’s all their fault,” Coyote nodded vigorously. “Remember to mention all that when you’re being reduced to ash and wind.”
“You have a better suggestion?”
“Yes,” the elder winked, “open with a joke,” his broad smile showing off a mouthful of teeth. “Phoenix seems to have ridiculous sense of humor.”
“Fine…What’s a joke?” the beast asked.
“And thus irony was born,” Coyote laughed. “This may require…a different approach. Let’s see…you like running, but that’s causing problems…What would be the opposite --?”
“Screaming and hiding!” she blurted out. “It‘s what the little things do while I run.”
“Hmmm…screaming seems troublesome. Let’s start with hiding and see where that takes us. That way,” Coyote said, pointing off to their right. “There’s a pond past the ridge.”
“Some water could be refreshing, I suppose,” the beast conceded, lumbering off in the indicated direction.
“Water? Sure, we can call it that,” Coyote shrugged, his glass vanishing as he tossed it over his shoulder. “It has a little extra kick, but you’re grown, aren‘t you, little one?”
“Never mind,” Coyote dismissed the question. “There’s just more of you to love. We’ll drink. We’ll talk. We’ll laugh.”
“Sure,” Coyote said. “It’ll be a day of new things. Stop me if you’ve heard this: a miller, a reeve and a nun walk into a bar--”
“What’s a reeve?”
The Trickster sighed and began, “It’s a sort of--”
“And what’s a nun?”
“You pay as little attention to what’s in your path as to the destruction in your wake, don’t you?” Coyote asked. “Just made of pure Chaos, aren’t you?”
“These are trick questions?”
“No wonder I love ya. Forget it,” Coyote surrendered as they arrived at the shimmering pond. “A mammal walks into a bar--”
“What’s a bar?”
“Hmmmm…This may take a while,” Coyote pondered, “and a lot of drinking.”
Whatever the cause, the beast changed its body uncharacteristically that day. Its back formed into towering peaks, while its claws and hair became jagged rocks and trees. The great Old One closed its heavy eyelids and slept, dreaming of fire and blood and those who would follow in its name.
Just as the creature’s rampages had spread far and wide and tales of its wrath had traveled further still, many stories spread as to the fate of the great and terrible beast now that it had gone long unseen. Some believed it to have been slain by a mighty warrior or a powerful god, one of the many who had hunted it over the years finally finding success. Being an entity of such immense power and significance, the ancient creature commonly stirred the thoughts and dreams of lesser beings.
In a land such as Tahzir, its heritage made it richly populated by those intimate with things of other realms. Thus, the beast's act of camouflage became the subject of many visions and disturbing dreams. As the notion spread and gained certainty in ever more hearts and minds, a plan took shape.
On a cold and moonless night, a thousand torches spread up every side of the great dark mountain carried by nearly twice as many men and women dedicated to life in more than one world. Circles and sigils were drawn in blood and secretly blended paints. Cantrips were intoned in low moans, invoking the favor of beings from shadowed realms. Sorcerous gestures moved in time with shamanic dances around bonfires all through the night.
With the rising of the blazing sun, the grand work of a score of disciplines brought together was complete. More than half those who had set themselves to the great task were drained utterly, left dead from the effort. They all knew when they pledged their lives to the challenge that survival was not guaranteed, but what mattered most was what they had accomplished: the beast was frozen in the form of its mountainous disguise, there forever to remain.
Years passed. Decades. Centuries. Millennia.
Mountains have never measured time as men.