thinkinglazy

Talking about stuff!

On Writing: Editing after two years

Its been a long time since I edited any of my books, at least 10 months. In that time I have been busy preparing my masters degree, a process that proved to be quite the writing workout.

A week ago I opened one of my older books, the one I have been posting some of its drafts on here (Book of Kayal: Hands of Fate) and started going through it once more. The improvements I have been doing are striking. Everywhere I look, there seems to be room for editing. A touch here…a touch there, until I ended up re-writing about half of the 40% I’ve gone through.

I have to say that the editing process has been this extensive for two main reasons: (1) I have wrote over 400,000 words in total since then; and (2) I have completed two more stories in the series since then and am working on a third one after HoF. Needless to say, the first has directly improved my writing skill while the second has resulted in me adjusting the world accordingly.

Unlike my former attempts at editing, this one has been entertaining. I can’t get enough of this first go, mostly because I have completely forgotten the story and the characters that have been included in the sequels have significantly developed since then.

So to all those who love to write but hate to edit, think about coming back to your books after finishing another story. It will help with the tediousness of the editing process.

On Writing: Writeon by Kindle

I recently discovered writeon.amazon.com I wonder how useful it will be. I would appreciate any feedback on my current edit-in-progress book.

https://writeon.amazon.com/read/story/Tarek_Book_of_Kayal%3A_Unity_of_Strength/amzn1.ignite.story.19b4ee305d0a5a04e050007f01004133?ref_=ign_c_rt_st_0

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.8

8

The journey was nearing its end when Ganis decided to introduce herself to the last member of her new party, Monolos. The animal handler woke up at dawn to fish for the first meal of the day. Ganis took the opportunity to talk to her comrade as well as figure out his exceptional fishing skills.

Aboard the main deck of the Siren’s Tear, Monolos stood still with a wooden bucket to his right. Ganis approached the motionless man who stared at the horizon ahead of him. As she got closer to her comrade, she peaked at the bucked and noticed that it was overflowing with fish. Some bait he must be using, she thought. To her surprise, Monolos held no fishing gear or tools.

“Did you catch this fish?” Ganis asked the man.

“Aye.”

“How?”

“By observing,” retaining in his unnatural stillness, he calmly responded.

“You are dry and carry no fishing tools. The bucket at your side makes no sense to me.” She waited for a response or justification by Monolos, but he offered none. Frustrated by this lack of response, Ganis asked yet again, “In great detail, explain to me how you catch fish.”

Taking a moment to think about his reply, Monolos spoke, “It starts by a fish laying eggs. Then the eggs hatch and little fish start swimming instinctively towards their natural habitat. Then they feed on whatever type of food their kind is used to, either other fish or plants. When the fish matures, they head to the surface of the water to breed or eat microorganisms living there, where is it warm and suitable for their survival. Once I am near the location where this fish surface, I catch them.”

“Are you serious about this worthless answer?”

“I am sorry, but if this response is inadequate, I am afraid I do not understand your question.”

Almost reaching the limit of her patience, Ganis prepared her fist to strike the man. Suddenly, a hawk flew behind the Moroi and threw a fish into the bucket. At this point the bucket was filled with fish and the new addition bounced off and onto the wooden deck. Finally, Ganis’ question was answered; the man trained his hawk to fish for him.

Admiring her companion’s talent at training his avian friend, Ganis commented, “That is quite a skill you have got there.”

“What skill?”

Ganis seized the opportunity to respond to Monolos as he had with her. “The one that you just proved.”

“Thank you.”

Growing even more furious with her comrade’s response, Ganis exhaled a deep breath to indicate her frustration. “I do not like you!”

“I am sorry. I will try to make you like me by observing your behavior and determining your likes and dislikes. By offering you more of what you like and avoiding what you dislike, I hope that you will come to change your mind about me,” Monolos explained. The man then picked the bucket of fish with his left hand and the sole fish which lay on the wooden floor with his other hand. Looking at the fish then at Ganis, Monolos asked, “Do you like fish?”

“No,” Ganis replied. Although she remembered that she had been fond of the taste of fish when she was alive and capable of consuming regular foods. For a moment, Ganis grew nostalgic.

“Then you may not have any.”

With no heed to his intentions, Monolos carried his hawk’s catch and headed to the kitchen where preparations for breakfast were being undergone. Taking a moment to calm herself, Ganis stood watching the calm sea.

Commodore Habitus noticed the Moroi and headed towards her. Quietly, he stepped beside her while preparing his pipe with a new filling heaven’s weed. After lighting it and taking a few puffs, he offered Ganis a taste of his remedy. Without exchanging words, the Moroi took the contraption and smoked. It did not take long for her to feel the effects of the drug. Although Moroi were immune to the effects of most drugs, Ganis’ exposure to the rising sun caused her regenerative capabilities to focus on repairing the sun’s damage to her skin and allowed her to be affected by things that would have usually not affected her. It was as if she became human during the day and returned to her true self at night.

“I heard that you have an Orc bodyguard who is also the mother of your children. Is that true?”

“Yes it is. Hrah is the mother of my three bastard half-breeds that are currently serving on the Phoenix with Captain Porter until I return to the Imperial waters. I did not want to risk harming them on such a perilous journey. Besides, with those brown bastards around, I go through stocks of rom and heaven’s weed with unnatural speed.”

“At least you have contributed to the coming generation of inhabitants, and they can claim to be the children of the peace-bringer Habitus. Do not underestimate their value or the value of your own deeds. Even Asclepius acknowledges you.”

“All I wanted was to retire in Senna and die from consuming a great deal of rom. Instead I have been given more responsibilities than a sane man can handle. What you and others see as honor and blessings, I see as troublesome. It is indeed ironical how this world functions. You can have this pipe,” Commodore Habitus returned to man the helm of the ship and directed it towards its destination.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.7

7

While skulking in the rear of the Siren’s main deck, escaping the serving of dinner, Ganis heard a tranquil voice singing merry tunes. Although incapable of explaining the reason, Ganis knew that the singer reduced the quality of her singing purposefully. The tune grew closer.

Hypnotized by the music, the Moroi found bright blue eyes looking straight at her. The intensity of Thalia’s yellow colored hair made it difficult to miss the artist even with the absence of light, although the Moroi’s undead eyes could see in the darkest of places. Thalia halted her singing and started another tune.

“Hiding in the shadow of the Siren’s main deck,

Ganis, a stranger amidst our ranks.

She looks like a fair maiden, but acts like a creep

For all of us wonder when she sleep”

“Do you like my new tune?”

“It worries me that you spend your time thinking of ridiculous tunes instead of training. Perhaps it would be wise if I did not rely on you in combat.”

Laughing merrily at Ganis’ observation, Thalia responded, “That is a rather funny thing to say from someone who spends most of her time avoiding people instead of training. It seems that both of us share the same concern.”

“I guarantee that my fighting capabilities will increase the overall effectiveness of this Ona.”

“Care to put this to a test?”

Smiling at her comrade’s challenge, Ganis held her fists up in a gesture of acceptance. Thalia struck first, but her blows were all averted by the Moroi’s quicker hands. Kicks and punches were exchanged without hesitation from either. The fighting caused the contestants to move towards the middle of the deck, where the lighting offered them better sight. Stirred by the commotion, the other crewmen and comrades aboard the Tear surfaced to the main deck.

The fighting caused the spectators to cheer and start placing bets. Pertinax and the others did not interfere in the friendly duel between their comrades as it was obvious that it was not serious. Naturally, Ganis held back to hide her true nature. Although pushing her training and natural ability to the limit, Ganis was incapable of turning the tides of the brawl to her favor. Thalia, however, periodically increased the strength and speed of her blows to gage her comrade’s fighting limits.

Eventually, Thalia gained the upper hand and pinned her opponent to the ground. “You are the second strongest person I ever fought,” Thalia informed her comrade.

“Who is the strongest?”

“Sigurd, our Turian companion,” Thalia replied while helping Ganis up.

Barely swallowing her pride, Ganis falsely confessed, “You are a better fighter than I. Fighting alongside someone with your skills comforts me. I was wrong to assume that you would be a liability on the battlefield.”

“I stretched my glorious skills to the limit. You are not too bad after all,” Thalia responded. “Mind if I make a song about our brawl?”

“Not at all, but do not go around bragging that you beat me. At least do not use my name,” Ganis responded. “How did you become so skilled in both fighting and singing?”

“Through a lifetime of hardship and irony. But the origin of my skills remains a mystery even to me. If you ever come across anyone who knew me before Partha, please do not hesitate to inquire about my past.”

“How come you do not know your own past?”

“My first memory is of a play I acted in five years ago. Apparently, no one knew who I was or where I had come from. The only certain fact I know about myself is that I am not Parthan. Are you bothered by my shrouded past?”

“I do not care for the past, but for the future that awaits our party. As long as you can be trusted, I am content.”

“Then I am glad. Did you talk to our other comrades yet?”

“All save for one; the bird talking fellow,” Ganis referred to her eccentric comrade, Monolos.

Thalia burst in laughter, “Good luck interpreting his speech. Unless you can turn into a bird or some odd insect, he will make little sense to you.”

“Does he not speak the common tongue?”

“He does. But if you put the words he speaks together, they will not make much sense,” the performer answered, barely controlling her laughter.

Ganis realized that the crowd of spectators that amassed for the brawl had dissipated. She then noticed the unusual silence which indicated that most crewmembers had retired to their quarters. Captain Habitus was the only one whom she could see other than Thalia, for he stood at the helm to guide the ship through the calm ocean waters.

Noticing Ganis observing the waters, Thalia addressed her, “Ever since the Behemoths’ defeat, the ocean waters have been unnaturally calm and inspiring for my art. I will leave you to your thoughts now.”

Ganis nodded her head, signaling a ‘good night’ to her comrade. It was not long till Thalia disappeared into the lower decks, and the Moroi was left alone to ponder. Reflecting on her speech with the artist, Ganis realized that her attempts to make herself scarce during feeding time raised much suspicion with her comrades. She knew that her identity could not be kept secret for long, especially since they would be spending an undefined and long period of time together. What shall I do? Ganis thought.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.6

6

Ganis spent most of her days in solitude, intentionally avoiding the company of others. However, she often came across her crew members and shared idle talk, all save one, Sigurd. Curious regarding the lone warrior, Ganis sought him out in the aft section of the bottom-most deck. Sigurd rested on one of the hammocks designated for the crewmen.

Upon entering the faintly-lit room, Ganis found a hairless face with blue eyes staring at her. For a moment, she was paralyzed with shock and awe at the size of the rugged hulk standing in the middle of the room. The man’s frame was larger than any Ganis had seen before. His bald face bore no scars, but his eyes claimed a different story. Looking into the pale blue eyes of Sigurd, Ganis saw that they were the eyes of a ruthless predator.

“Sigurd, I assume,” with a shaken voice, Ganis spoke. She spent a few moments waiting for a reply, but received none. “I am sorry to alarm you while resting. I was hoping that you would share some of your experiences with me,” said Ganis, in an attempt to draw out Sigurd’s past from him.

The hulking man stood with complete stillness as he stared into Ganis’ eyes. The stare was different from Ninazu’s, for it did not cause the Moroi to feel unveiled; instead, she felt as a helpless prey. Nevertheless, Ganis’ prowess was far greater than that of her comrade’s.

Unwelcome by Sigurd, Ganis took leave and headed towards the main deck. On her way to the stairs leading upwards, Ganis heard a whisper coming from one of the rooms. Further investigation led the Moroi to a room next to Ninazu’s lab where one of her comrades prayed.

Noticing her presence, Eirene asked, “Can I help you with anything, child of Pax?”

“I am no child of Pax,” Ganis referred to her unholy nature, a reference that the Priestess did not comprehend due to lack of knowledge regarding the Moroi’s past.

“We are all children of Pax,” the Priestess stood up and looked at Ganis. Her motion was slow and soothing. Eirene was fair and had a serene face which calmed Ganis’ worried heart. Her dark black hair, coupled with dark colored eyes, matched the color of her skin perfectly. Eirene was a true specimen of beauty. Taking a brief pause to stand up, the Parthan continued, “Some of us are clouded in darkness that prevents the truth from emergence, but they are still children of Pax.”

“And what father would abandon his children and condemn them to such a blood-riddled fate? What father would watch his children slaughter each other and bring never-ending pain upon one another?”

“Pax is no father to any of us.”

“If we are the children of Pax and he is no father, then Pax must be our mother. Unlike fathers, mothers tend to their children infinitely; a trait which is lacking in the ways of wise Pax.”

“Pax is no mother either.”

“Your words are obscured by riddles. Please clarify the meaning behind them” frustrated by Eirene’s riddles, Ganis requested.

“Pax is a concept which we can never grasp, regardless of the level of enlightenment we reach. The methods by which Pax attends to us, his creation, can only be comprehended by hundreds of lifetimes spent worshipping Pax. Some of us hope to reach a small portion of enlightenment during our given lifespan to help us pass through to the next life with a clue on how to continue worshipping Pax. All the strife we go through while living is just a test of our conviction, for it causes the true to follow the path of Pax and the false to fall deeper into the abyss of faithlessness.”

“Your beliefs are naive. Why would an omnipotent being such as Pax care for how we fare?” attempting to counter Eirene’s zealous logic, Ganis inquired.

“Because he loves us like parents love their children. We are creatures of peace that have been misguided by other omnipotent beings such as Pax, but our faults increase the love that Pax has for us.”

Frustrated by the flawed reasoning of the Priestess, Ganis investigated the roots of her comrade’s beliefs even more, “How have you become drawn to Pax to that extent? I find it contradictory with your occupation.”

Smiling at her comrade, Eirene obliged, “I am glad you asked me, for my story might direct you to the path of Pax. I was orphaned at a young age and taken in by Fark from the School of Knowledge. Never being introduced to religion, I took an interest in the topic and pursued it. Within the School of Knowledge, I was allowed to study any topic I wished as long as I contributed. Along with studying the scrolls stored within, I trained in the arts of combat. The combination of studying war and religion drove me to think about the reasons behind all the violence within our world. After years of pondering about the issue, I figured out the answer; it was peace. People fight to protect. They fight to protect themselves; they fight to protect their loved ones; they fight to protect their beliefs; they fight to protect the peace they know. Peace is the ultimate goal of war, and it can only be attained by unifying the peoples. Pax shows us how to unify ourselves and end all the suffering we brought, and continue to bring, upon ourselves. If you fight for Pax and convince others that his path is the only one that leads to salvation, you will bring an end to all wars. This understanding is the gift I have been given by Pax.”

“I once thought as you did, but I was wrong. As long as there are strong people and weak people, there will always be conflict. We are beasts that seek power and work hard to place ourselves above others. Like the kingdoms of living creatures, the strong seek more strength to force their lesser into obedience. The true answer to peace is absolute oppression of the weak, for only then will the strong have no need to assert themselves over others,” Ganis conveyed her thoughts regarding peace to her comrade.

Smiling at her comrade, Eirene concluded, “I am glad that you joined our humble Ona. Perhaps our travels together will give me another opportunity to convince you of my beliefs. Would you care to pray with me?”

“I am honored by your offer, but I believe in trying rather than hoping,” Ganis politely rejected Eirene’s offer while conveying her true thoughts regarding praying. While heading outside the door Eirene held her arm and gently hugged Ganis.

Ganis was speechless by her comrade’s gesture. After a brief moment, the Priestess let go and directed her friend towards the exit. Although contradictory to the Moroi’s beliefs, her conversation with Eirene made her think about the deity of Pax.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.5

5

While Ganis was contemplating her training with Asclepius back in Katabasis, she was interrupted by the twins Percival and Dindrane. The two approached her merrily as they shared jokes and giggles. At first, Ganis thought that they were just passing by, but they came and stood beside her as they leaned on the edge of the ironwood deck. The Moroi found herself surrounded by the two twins she knew nothing about.

“That stiff Captain of ours ordered us to talk to you,” Percival spoke.

“Brother, that is a rude way of approaching a lady. Have I taught you nothing?” Dindrane scolded.

“Apologies. You look rather ravishing this evening, my lady. May I offer you a drink?” Percival offered Ganis a sip from a well-abused flask. The steel container had all kinds of scratches and dents, covering some tree-like pattern which seemed to be of some beauty in days long past.

“Careful, whelp! I am not one to be taken lightly and accustomed to this quickly,” rather annoyed by his overly friendly approach, Ganis confronted the young man.

Flicking his red braided hair off of his right shoulder, Percival bowed apologetically to Ganis to atone for his unwelcome friendliness. When he bowed back, Ganis noticed the subtle grey color of his eyes while he looked her straight in hers, “I was only intending to convey a friendly demeanor to our newest comrade. Forgive us, we are not yet accustomed to your likes and dislikes.”

“I hope my brother has not bothered you, for he always assumes that others would not mind his directness.”

“I apologize for behaving with such hostility. I was just dwelling on a painful experience,” while turning to face Dindrane, Ganis spoke. She took the opportunity to observe the woman’s features more thoroughly. The siblings shared the exact same features with a difference in their gender – red hair, grey eyes, and slender frame.

“Would you like to tell us about these memories in hopes of alleviating them?” greatly minding his tone and choosing his words, Percival offered.

Just before Ganis was about to reject the offer, she realized that this was the perfect opportunity for her to test the belief in her refined background story. After a brief pause, Ganis spoke, “I was orphaned at a young age and forced to join the Peacekeeper Core. Ever since that day, I have been making one wrong decision after another. In spite of being a Commander Protector, I was not fit for the responsibilities of command. My final decision to oppose the current Emperor Servak during the rebellion was by far the worst, for it bound me to the Necromancer, Asclepius, and his dreadful Katabasis. The time I wasted there, following some mindless orders, cost me an opportunity to redeem myself during the Behemoths’ war. I can never forgive myself for opposing Servak, unless I make amends for all the harm I have done.”

“Since you shared your story, I believe we owe you the tale of our past. Percival and I were born in exiled Partha to a single mother. We were poor and had to live on the kindness of others, or our own cunning. Since there was no kindness in Partha back in the day, we resorted to theft. One day, a glorious group of warriors passed by our house and inspired us to be more than common thieves. We sought them out and were warmly accepted in their ranks as spies and, later on, assassins. Our mother died a couple of seasons later. When Lyra arrived, our leader decided to join forces with the exiled Gallecian. After becoming renowned for our skills, Lyra invited us to join her own personal guard,” Dindrane narrated while looking at the stars above.

“Our stories bear similarities, but we grew to be rather different from one another. Perhaps your presence in this Ona might help me become one of you,” Ganis spoke. Part of her spoke sincere words, yet most of her just wanted to maintain her identity secret.

“It is truly an honor to have you with us. Can I call you beautiful now?” Percival joked.

“Only if you want to be clobbered to near-death.”

Not knowing whether she was joking or being serious, Percival released a fake laugh. Ganis’ joining in greatly relieved the young man, as it indicated the nature of her comment. Lightly and merrily treading away from Ganis, the twins continued to the lower decks.

The conversation with Percival and Dindrane stirred Ganis’ thoughts. She was confused regarding the mission at hand and how she could complete it quickly to return to Katabasis, where she found comfort. Although she claimed to hate fort Katabasis most of the time, Ganis perceived it more as a home than she had ever perceived any other place. It was truly where she felt most comfortable and serene.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.4

4

After waking up from her extended nap, Ganis headed outside the crew’s quarters and towards the alchemy lab where Ninazu created his sinister concoctions. Never having seen the man before, Ganis was quite shocked when he appeared in front of her. The apothecary had long, coarse, black hair coupled with a black beard. Other than his dark skin, Ninazu’s facial features were hidden behind the dense fur covering most of his face.

Once Ganis knocked at the door and opened it, Ninazu’s pitch black eyes met Ganis’. His stare extended past the surface of Ganis’ pupils and into her soul. In spite of being a creature whose life had been unnaturally extended, Ganis felt the coldness of Ninazu’s gaze. It was as if she stood naked with all her true self and intentions uncovered.

The Moroi quickly looked away and pretended to gain a sudden interest in her host’s work. “What are you working on, comrade?” Ganis asked, hoping that the attempt would distract Ninazu from his inspection.

“Your eyes are different,” the apothecary was not fooled by Ganis’ attempt to hide her true identity.

“How so?”

“They are empty. I rarely see anyone with eyes as empty as yours. Usually people’s eyes tell a story or show some significant detail regarding their personality, but your eyes are simply void.”

Growing increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation, Ganis attempted to revert to her originally planned conversation, “Do you have any medicine that would ease seasickness?”

The man picked up a cylindrical vial placed on the table he worked on and handed it to Ganis, “Drink this.”

Ganis took the vial and smelled its contents. The lack of a bitter smell identified it as a safe potion. The Moroi gulped the clear green liquid immediately and thanked the man, while heading out.

“Wait! I want to ask you something,” Ninazu spoke just as Ganis was about to close the wooden door.

She returned inside the room and stood with compliance. There was no need to utter any speech to signal her submission regarding her comrade’s request.

“Pertinax has told me a great deal about your past, but there is a period where the details of your life remain obscure. Where were you during the events of the Ancient’s War?”

“I was by Asclepius’ side, aiding in what little way I could.”

“Surely, there is some interesting story behind the deeds of the hero of Nosgard during his farce with the pale ancient,” with no attempt to hide his suspicions, Ninazu hinted.

“The man used incredible magic generated from the teeth of fallen Dragons. By combining the animating properties of the Dragon teeth and the bodies of the Draugr, Asclepius created a colossal bone golem that stood on a par with the ancient. Although the spell was great, the Behemoth struck at the construct and broke its bones. With his last shred of remaining strength, the Necromancer hurled the shards of broken bones into the weakened body of the Behemoth and killed it. I was there during this duel, watching from a safe distance.”

“Now that I know about your past, I would like to share mine. I came to your lands when I was a child no older than ten years old. Unfortunately, the ship bearing my people crashed, and the few remaining survivors banded together and lived as one nomadic tribe. We built our homes on wheels so we could take them with us to the different kingdoms we went to. Along our journey, we picked up a few skills and traded some items. I learned the properties of herbs and how to combine them into potions this way. When the civil war started and the Council came to power, we were hunted down as outlaws. The final Peacekeeper raid on my tribe cost the lives of all my companions. Once I was alone, there were no morals or rules to guide my actions and I resorted to crime. I used my skills in alchemy to create poisons for assassins and bandits serving criminal organizations in Gallecia. My success alerted the authorities regarding my presence, and I was eventually caught and exiled to Partha. I met Commander Thane in the exile colony and was offered sanctuary by his followers. Thane made use of my alchemy skills to heal the wounded and preserve life. I spent a decade in Partha tending the wounds and injuries of others until I met Lyra, our leader. The coming of the Demigod Servak fueled the Parthan desire for vengeance and allowed me to avenge my Turian brethren by aiding the rebels. Ever since that day, I have loyally served Lyra and her Emperor, for they gave me closure regarding my murdered kin.”

“You are a Turian, like Sigurd?”

“Indeed, but his story is quite different from mine. Circumstances led my life to be one of solitude for a time, but Sigurd led a life of seclusion till he met Thane. In spite of all the pain I have been through, I cannot begin to imagine what he has undergone,” Ninazu sympathized with his fellow Turian and trusted comrade.

“I am glad that you shared your story with me. Thank you.”

“I have only shared with you as many details as I wish. However, unlike your story, mine was all true. I do not know what you are trying to hide from us, but I know that there is more to it than past events. I cannot reveal the truth behind your history if you are not willing to share it. When you are free from distrust, seek me out. For now, the remedy I gave you should be enough,” returning to mix his ground herbs, Ninazu declared.

Ganis excused herself and left the room where Ninazu worked. She made sure to properly close the door once she was outside. Ganis then headed to the main deck to watch the sunset and reevaluate her cover story.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.3

3

While Ganis avoided the lunch gathering of her comrades by skulking in the lower decks pretending to look for a misplaced object, she came across Pertinax’s second in command, Hephaestion.

The brown haired man was lying on his hammock reading a scroll when Ganis approached. When he noticed her heading his way, Hephaestion turned his head to face the Moroi. The light revealed his chestnut colored eyes once he gazed at the intruder, expecting her to commence a series of questions regarding her misplaced object.

Realizing that the man awaited her speech, Ganis slurred, “Hail, I am Ganis.”

“And I am Hephaestion. Pertinax told me everything about you, but there is one thing that continues to intrigue me. We set sail a day ago and you have not eaten since. There is no need for you to refrain from informing us about your seasickness. Ninazu can quickly prepare a remedy for you to deal with that.”

“Thank you. I will head to Ninazu after he is done with his lunch. There is one more thing though.”

“What is it?” putting down the scroll in a crevice near his hammock, one designed specifically to hold down scrolls and other cylindrical objects, Hephaestion asked.

“I spoke to Commander Pertinax, and he informed me of the importance of getting to know your comrades. I was hoping that you would share with me some of your history.”

“That is an excellent idea. Normally I would ask you to start with your history, but we have all been made aware of it by Pertinax,” the Parthan spoke. He then took a moment to structure his story before telling it to Ganis, “My story begins after traveling the known lands in search of knowledge from various different sources. When I was fifteen, I decided that my learning had reached a level where there was no need for me to rely on others to gain knowledge. Once I had attained this level of education, I sought a way to apply it in a practical manner and joined the Peacekeeper Core where I met Thane. Although Thane was my age back then, he was already a Commander of a small scouting Peacekeeper group. Impressed by my qualifications and tactical savvy, Thane immediately promoted me to be his second in command. Back then, the Peacekeeper Core was a minor entity which had just been established by the Gallecian authorities to maintain peace in its surrounding lands. It was a group of glorified law enforcers who were about to undergo an identity change. The escalating civil war altered our role to one of bloodshed, and used us as soldiers instead of law enforcers. When the war was over, and Partha was exiled, the Gallecian Council attempted to consolidate their power and be formally named as rulers of Gallecia and protectors of the peace. Although a seemingly fitting reward for the noble Council, Thane and I saw beyond their lies. We knew that the Council was planning something sinister, but we could not identify their intent and prove it. Eventually, Thane conspired with a group of Peacekeepers opposing the Council’s rule, and I willingly followed. One day, however, we were betrayed by one of our comrades and handed over to the Gallecian authorities as rebels and enemies to the peace; we were quickly exiled and sent to Partha. Within the exiled kingdom, Thane and I had to start a new life where survival was based on careful planning as well as avoiding stirring trouble with the hostile gangs. These days were hard, but they made us stronger. It started with Thane and me looking out for each other, and then grew to become a full grown gang of over a hundred members. We managed to gain status among the exiled and survived long enough to attend the arrival of lady Lyra and the Demigod Servak. As a former Peacekeeper officer who had rebelled against the Council, Thane did not need to prove his loyalties to Servak and managed to convince him to allow me to join Lyra’s Ona. However, the true purpose of my task was to spy on the Emperor and confirm the nature of his intentions. Once I learnt that the Emperor was indeed pure of heart, I confessed my role to Lyra who, to my surprise, admired my honesty and insisted that I remain as one of the members of her Ona. That concludes my story so far.”

“What a rather concise and elaborate way of informing me about your eventful history. You are indeed a man of detail, Hephaestion.”

“My past may be eventful, but I never served under the command of a hero such as Asclepius. I look forward to knowing more about this man,” Hephaestion indirectly requested. Before Ganis got a chance to reply to her comrade, he added, “Unfortunately, this story will have to wait, for I am starving and am in desperate need of sustenance. They are serving fish today, again; I guess that I should have my fill before it turns stale as the days come to pass.”

Hephaestion held his right hand out for Ganis to hold and support him while he stood up. Before stepping away from his hammock towards the stairs leading to the upper decks, he looked back and made sure that his reading material was properly secured. With a serene motion, Hephaestion exited the chambers.

Once the man was well out of sight, Ganis walked towards her own hammock and decided to grab some sleep. After all, she wanted to waste time during lunch.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.2

2

Aboard Commodore Habitus’ ship, the Siren’s Tear, each of Ganis’ companions was preoccupied with his or her own habit. Ganis, the Moroi, decided to approach her companions and start bonding with them. In spite of her objection to being sent away from Katabasis, her home, she knew that the voyage would be a long one and, without the support of her comrades, time would only pass slower; she had to a method by which the journey could be hastened and made easier.

Naturally, an Ona was as capable as its weakest member, and Ganis knew this fact rather well from her past when she had served in the Peacekeeper Core. To the Moroi, being the weakest member of the Ona was unacceptable and shameful. After all, she was a Protector like her other nine comrades as well as a bearer of the gift of death; making her far stronger than her comrades and better suited for survival. However, the strength of an Ona was determined by the harmony of the group rather than the capabilities of each individual member.

To Ganis, it was logical to start her personal quest with the leader of the group, Pertinax the Second. The former Peacekeeper did not need to look or ask around for Pertinax, for he stood on the edge of the ship’s bow, attempting to get a better view of the sculpted Siren which decorated the ship.

Once she approached him, Pertinax requested from Ganis to hold his hand and secure him if he lost his footing in his attempt. The Moroi agreed to comply and held her leader’s hand while he clumsily hung on the vessel’s wood. Once the air started striking his grease-covered hair and displacing it, he quickly returned behind the carved protrusion and got out a wooden comb from within his cloak.

“Thank you for that,” while combing his straight white hair, Pertinax addressed Ganis.

“No problem. I just wanted to introduce myself.”

“You are Ganis, Asclepius’ companion and former Commander Protector of the Peacekeeper Core. You were captured by the Demigod Emperor Servak, Pax bless him with peace, and sentenced to serve the released Necromancer Asclepius as a punishment for aiding the Council during the farce between the Peacekeepers of the second civil war. Although you were directly assigned to Asclepius, your second and main task was to spy on him,” Pertinax flawlessly recited Ganis’ known history. Once he had finished combing his hair, Pertinax inserted his comb back into a patch he had prepared in the inner area of his grey cloak and continued, “I know who you are, but do you know who I am?”

“Other than being my leader and serving Servak, nothing.” Ganis was shocked by her Commander’s assiduousness.

“As a comrade and a member of our Ona, I believe it is important for you to know about me as much as I know about you. My story began forty years ago when I taught at the Parthan School of Knowledge. Signs of the first civil war started worrying many of the scholars as well as affecting the lives of all the inhabitants of the lands. I was young and felt obligated to do more for my kingdom and king. Fueled by youthful passion, I applied for the Parthan military and was immediately placed as an officer to serve in fighting Parthan division. Due to my rune-bearing capabilities and education, I was given the best training and care to get assigned to a high ranking Parthan unit. Once my loyalties were certain and my training complete, I was carved with the same runes as all Parthan Protectors bore. Shortly after I started my military career, the civil war of man broke and my duties were multiplied. Although the Parthans had the best trained and equipped soldiers, we were overwhelmed by a far larger force with far superior magic. It was not long until the casualties started piling up, that we retreated to defend our kingdom. With all our prosperity and military might, we were incapable of fighting the world on our own. Once we were driven into our lands, the combined kingdoms of men built a wall around Partha to imprison us, cutting us off from most of our lands and the outside world. We then fell into the godless darkness where no light shown, and where I met Lyra and the Demigod Emperor Servak, Pax bless him with peace, who showed me the path to salvation and eternal peace, the path of Pax.” Pertinax looked above him at the clear blue skies and gazed for a moment.

“So you got into Lyra’s red Parthan Ona based on experience and qualifications?”

“No, I got into her Ona because I was known to be one who got things done regardless of the consequences. However, I have forsaken my past actions and found serenity in the ways of Pax, and he commands me to follow the leaders of the Empire. Is there a deity you believe in?” the Ona Commander looked straight at Ganis’ eyes, as if he expected her to respond piously.

“No I do not, for I know that sins and virtues do not affect the path our spirits tread once freed from the physical realm. I know that there is no reward for the just, nor is there punishment awaiting the wrongful. Once we die, we just seize to exist and rejoin the earth once again.”

“Perhaps my actions could sway you to the path of Pax someday,” Pertinax smiled while patting Ganis on the shoulder. “I have told you enough of my past for you to know who I am. The details, however, you will have to pick up during our voyage,” Pertinax said as he walked away from Ganis and towards the stairway leading to the lower decks. Before he disappeared into the darkness, Pertinax looked back and whispered to himself, “It is an honor to serve with you, Ganis of Katabasis.”

Although his final words to Ganis were not meant for her, her keen enhanced senses allowed her to hear them. Ganis watched the skies for a moment, then retired to her quarters in the lower levels of the ship.

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.1

Today I decided to weekly post parts of my first unedited draft of one of my earlier works. I have not decided on the day of the week in which I would start, but I expect it to be sometime by the end of it, closer to the weekend.

Chapter 1: Assignment to Utyirth

‘It is an honor to be sent on such an endeavor by our Lord Demigod Emperor, an honor only exceeded by death during this endeavor.’ Philosophical Lessons from Utyirth (Volume I: Captain).

1

Within the mighty halls of Partha, Lyra and her Ona have been summoned by Prince Iolcus. The throne room was large and royal with the purple colored Parthan flags decorating its walls. A large purple carpet marked the way to the throne where Iolcus sat. Although it appeared dull in comparison to the Gallecian throne room, the Parthan prince’s seat of sovereignty maintained its awe and royal appearance.

Accompanied by the other nine members of her Ona, Lyra walked into the chamber, expected to meet the returning prince alone. To her surprise, she found her former companion and current Emperor awaiting her as well as the hero, Asclepius. With a joyous smile on her face, she knelt to the Demigod Emperor.

“You do not need to bow to me, not after what we have been through together,” while helping her up, Servak replied to Lyra’s gesture.

“You are an Emperor and I am your Voice in Partha. For that reason I have to bow in your presence, Emperor,” Lyra stood up with the Emperor’s help.

“Regardless of the formalities, I have a request to ask from you. During the Behemoths’ emergence and the events of the resultant war, we have been made aware of a potential rebellion. Unfortunately, we could not spare our resources and had to focus all on fighting the ancients and allowed the rebels to escape our lands with minimal resistance. Anaria offered us information regarding the whereabouts of the entity leading the rebellion, the Cult of Naa’tas. After a thorough investigation, it has been revealed that they traveled to distant lands known as Utyirth. We need your Ona to go and capture Naa’tas,” Servak briefed his Voice in Partha, Lyra.

“We will depart at once, my Lord.”

“The rebellion made us aware that the fight against the Council has not been won yet. To solidify our political influence and my claim to the throne, we will need all political figures to remain within the Imperial lands. As the Voice in Partha, you are required to remain here alongside Prince Iolcus.”

“So you will be sending a nine-man Ona into unfamiliar lands without their leader; that is most unwise,” worried by the reasoning behind Servak’s decision, Lyra suggested.

“You will be replaced by someone more fitting in dealing with matters of unfamiliarity,” a coarse and rugged voice spoke. Asclepius, the Necromancer and hero of the Empire, decided that it was time to join in the conversation and added, “Protector Ganis of the Peacekeeper Core will replace you. She is well-trained in the handling of unfamiliar situations and is the most suitable candidate for this mission. However, I do not suggest she replace you as the leader of the Ona, but as a member of the group.”

“It took me a great deal of training and time to achieve the harmony required to fight within one of the best elite Onas in Partha. For Ganis to reach such a level, it would require her to train along with them for no less than two seasons, that is if she successfully harmonizes with the group,” certain of her logic, Lyra stressed the futility in Servak’s decision.

“I am simply informing you of my decision. Will you accept this assignment on behalf of your Ona, or should I look for another group?” The Emperor often tended to ask his followers about their opinions.

Lyra turned to face the members of her Ona to check if they agreed on the assignment. The lack of response or comment from any of her companions signaled their cooperation, “They would gladly embark on this journey. Regardless of our own desires, your wish is our command.”

“From the moment we met in the Gallecian rune-carving festival, I trusted your loyalty and friendship, but I cannot command you to this perilous mission unless each member of your Ona is willing. Considering the limited knowledge we have regarding the nature of your target or their whereabouts, the mission is classified as one of extreme risk and a low chance of success. We have chosen your Ona because none of them have any ties to the Imperial lands, and because of the group’s composition. Taking all of their skills into consideration, your Ona is ideal for this task,” with brotherly affection and understanding, Servak directed at Lyra’s Ona.

Another moment of silence confirmed their intention to proceed with the task. Impressed by their diligence, Servak headed towards the exit while gently touching the shoulders of the elite warriors. Until the Emperor left the chamber, silence prevailed among the attendees.

“There are a few issues that need mentioning before you proceed. It is crucial to maintain your identities’ secret and refrain from bringing attention to yourselves. Since assimilation into the cultures of Utyirth is critical, you will be given simple clothes consisting of trousers, a leather vest, and a grey cloak. Attempt to acquire clothes and weapons as soon as you can to assure your blending in their societies. Ganis is aboard Commodore Habitus’ ship. They are both waiting for you to start the voyage. Proceed to the armory to drop off your equipment and receive your new gear before heading to the Siren’s Tear, your transport. Good luck,” Prince Iolcus briefed.

With nothing to ask, the nine members of Lyra’s Ona left to prepare for their voyage. In spite of their capabilities and military record, Lyra feared that this would be the last time she would meet with her comrades.

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