Ages ago—or maybe it was only a year ago—I listened to a podcast laying out how evil Enneagram is. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I didn’t mean to erase time.
I’m very, very sorry about all of that.
I drop the rift-bitten feather.
I mean, to be completely honest it’s the wind’s fault. She seems to like teasing me. Getting me in trouble. Giving all the young ones something to laugh about. Like they don’t have enough of that as it was.
I can’t claim full credit for this story. It was the product of a ‘what if’ conversation between a friend and I about diaries and writing and death. I knew at once I had to put it in a story at some point, and this was the result.
All they’d left were the books, dusty and stained with blood and tears.
Kyth stood among the rubble, tiny pebbles skittering around his boots in a hot wind. The sun glared from the pale, iron sky, unforgiving to any who ventured into this forgotten crevice.
I almost published a short story today, then realized it was the 4th of July weekend. So I decided to go with something more patriotic.
As some of you might know, I have one brother who is a Marine. Another is heading to Marine Boot Camp in three days. So I wrote this poem for him. Maybe I’ll even let him read it…
Writing isn’t safe.
And it’s something I end up writing as a free verse poem around the end of last year because there was no other way to put it into words.
Everyone has that one book or movie. They love it to a thousand pieces but have reservations about recommending.
“Yesssss! It was amazing. The arcs were so real, and the characters. And I can’t believe the plot twists. But…” *tries to explain what others might consider objectionable content without making it seem the worst piece of work on the face of the earth.*
There are a few things like this for me. The musical Hamilton. Movies like Hart’s War. And Brandon Sanderson.
Off World Reports
A newly discovered excerpt from Kirin’s report book documenting when Elena brought him to this world for the first time. You can read the story of Elena and Kirin’s meeting here.
I hope I don’t die. I’m seriously beginning to wonder about agreeing to meet Elena’s employer. I mean, bringing that battle standard back to Shangar without claiming a reward would normally be all the concession I’d permit even under the most extreme circumstances. Then again, one doesn’t normally get offers of a job involving realm leaping.
Except this world Elena has brought me to in the Terra Realm is so crowded we can’t risk netherjumping from place to place. Meaning I’ve been forced into a metal box. On wheels. Which is now hurtling over some sort of pavement at breakneck speeds with other vehicles of the same kind. Yes, I know what they’re called, but they don’t really deserve the name of ‘car’.
As a realm leaper, I love speed. I’ve ridden horses and dragons. I’ve flown in sleek skyhawks that dart and dive through the sky. Now those are fun. But these…these Terra cars have less speed and no network connecting them to keep them at safe distances from each other. Instead, they are manually handled by normal humans, some who pay attention and some who don’t. Meaning there must be a terrible amount of crashes.
Crashing aside, Elena’s driving is not the smoothest I’ve ever witness. And the fact she currently has a grin on her face as she passes huge trucks is not helping matters in the least.
I’m out of the car. Thankfully. I’m torn between not stepping in one again, and not stepping in one unless I can drive it. They can’t be that hard to maneuver.
The only good thing which has come out of this trip to Terra is chocolate. Seriously, that stuff is wonderful. Creamy, sweet, dark, a hint of bitterness. I’m contemplating bringing seeds to other realms. This food deserves to be spread about.
Oh, yes. And about that meeting with my employer; apparently she’s out today. Somewhere. So Elena and I have been passing time setting up a campsite outside. And eating chocolate, of course. There were some stray books lying around the house (yes, I went inside. The locks in this realm are pathetic. Fine; I netherjumped. Into a wall. But never mind the details). But she had these books on the history of chocolate and so I’m going to go read those for a bit. Maybe figure out where I can jump to get this stuff in bulk…
Elena helpfully told me that the month is July and the date is the 12th. As if that means anything to someone who is constantly leaping between realms. So, Day 2 on Terra it is.
I met my employer today. She’s not much to look at. On the small side with wispy red hair twisting out from under her newsboy cap. Don’t ask me why they call it a newsboy cap. All I know is that it’s flat and kinda cute. Anyhow, that doesn’t matter. What I really liked was her daggers. She’d several of them. And throwing knives. And even a recurve bow. She wasn’t wearing that…I tested it when I was in her house yesterday. Yes, Elena, I put everything back where I left it.
Anyway, my employer goes by a number of names. She calls herself Scarlett while talking with us. And she seemed quite taken with me, if I say so myself. She demanded story after story while jotting down all kinds of notes. By the time the evening was advanced, she officially offered me a position, working with Elena to research projects and write articles.
After several minutes of careful consideration (and chocolate) I officially accepted.
Of course, that meant payment details and meeting details and drop-boxes…nothing interesting to write about. At least not until that night.
I was lying awake, the fire snapping away. And I’ll give you one guess about what I was thinking about.
Yep, that’s right.
Apparently, chocolate, before being made into bars, was a drink. I was already on Terra, what harm could a time jump do? No one could see it from here.
I closed my eyes, focusing back nearly five hundred years.
I hadn’t counted on the landing. Great fires blazed in all directions – thankfully I didn’t land in one – and figures moved in all directions. Great ships lay off the cost and a warm wind hovered in the air. I managed to stumble into the shadows before being spotted.
A celebration of some sort seemed to be taking place. Men in silver armor… the Spanish, I thought. And the Maya, at least that’s what I assumed from the book I’d read. There were gifts too, which I’d heard about, jewels and feathers… and gourds filled with chocolate.
In the half-light, no one noticed as I slipped up, claimed a gourd for myself, and took a deep drink.
Then staggered, choking and spitting out the liquid. Who ever thought that bitter chocolate was a good idea?
I straightened, wiping my eyes. So much for secrecy. The Mayas were glaring at me. The Spaniards’ hands were on their sword’s hilts. One tall man advanced, his hand closing about the front of my shirt as he lifted me off my feet and growled something in Spanish which I didn’t understand but which also didn’t sound like a nice ‘how are you this fine evening?’
I did the only thing I could think of.
I netherjumped back to my camp.
I woke up to a disaster.
Elena was gone, but besides dreams filled with warriors and seas of bitter drinks which washed over the land, the time excursion hadn’t had any lasting effects. Or so I thought until I rose with the comforting intention of drinking a cup of real, sweet hot chocolate before realm leaping off to begin my duties.
“Chocolate?” Scarlett’s brow furrowed when I stumbled into the house, rubbing my eyes. “You’ve your realms mixed up. There’s nothing by that name here.”
“But…” I stared at her.
A hand closed over my arm as Elena appeared from shadows know where. Her lips pressed tight. “With me.”
“What… where is…?”
Elena glared at me. “How about you tell me what’s happened?” She lifted a book.
“The Mayans offered Cortes gourds filled with a bittersweet drink,” she read out loud. “But even as he lifted it to his lips, a wild lad appeared, sputtering and showing it for the poison it really was. He vanished moments later. The Spanish were convinced an angel had appeared to warn them about the evil of the drink –” She paused, raising her eyebrows. “Shall I go on?”
“An angel?” I looked down at myself. “In this outfit?”
“Kirin!” Elena snapped. “You’ve changed history within two days of coming here, and no one even knows what they are missing. Chocolate vanished several hundred years ago.”
I sobered instantly. “I’ll get it back.”
Elena scowled. “Well, hurry. Or I’ll be sorry I ever recommended you to Scarlett.”
“You recommended me?”
“Just get moving.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m a time traveler. Since when has hurrying made any difference?” I netherjumped before Elena could reply, landing back in the shadows of the feast I’d left the night before. Or five hundred years ago. Whatever.
All was confusion. The Spaniards had their guns to their shoulders. The Mayans were leveling their spears. Insulting myself for even starting on this mad venture in the first place, I netherleapt between the two peoples.
Both sides stared at me. I suspect they were debating between bowing or running me through. I didn’t give them a chance for either option.
With firm steps, I march back to the Mayan side. A few men still held the gourds of chocolate. At least I hoped it was chocolate. I held out a hand and he gave it to me, still staring.
Slowly I lifted it to my lips and drank. It really wasn’t half bad, once I knew it was bitter. After draining half the gourd, I turned and strode to the Spaniards’ side.
“It needs sugar,” I announced dramatically, waving my hand over the gourd and sincerely hoping no one spoke English.
The Spanish leader slowly took the gourd and I turned, striding into the darkness. Once I was out of sight, netherjumped back to Elena without looking back.
She was waiting with a cup of hot chocolate.
“Don’t ever do something like that again.” She warned me.
I scowled, but nodded. If Scarlett ever finds out what I almost did, I’d be sure to lose my position. Besides, this world is hard enough to get used to as it is. It can’t afford to lose the small number of treats which endear it to strangers such as myself.
Like my second favorite treat after chocolate, the smooth drink frintellino.
Long ago, in another age (like… last year?) I wrote a collection of stories about two realm leapers who help me in my writing. Some of you have seen these already, but for the first time I am going to share these events publicly. So today, meet Kirin, Stealthmaster and resident researcher of all dangerous topics.
Many of you have heard me talk about Fidelyon, my longest work to date. On occasion, while writing the novel, I also take time to write backstory or extra scenes. Here’s the rough, unedited (kinda…I’ve gone over it once or twice but I’m sure there are still typos) draft of one such scene.
It takes place three years before Fidelyon and recounts the first time two of my secondary character, Jagger and Seamus, meet. Jagger is 15, Seamus is 9, and Jagger has just arrived at the palace to live with his uncle after the death of his family at the hands of Volandum Raiders.