News & Announcements:
First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is full of warmth and love!
I've come down with a cold, and on top of that, I've been extra achy. I really don't know what brought on the recent pain, but I've been staying away from the keyboard as much as possible, which means I don't have much of a word count for the week.
But I've shared a character journal (from Samandriel this time) and an excerpt, plus a new Spotify playlist for the holidays, a video series (also for the holidays), and a new (to me) book I've just started to read.
Do to a cold and extra pain, I didn't get much of a word count this week. I won't get much written next week either, as I'm taking off until the 26th so I can focus on the coming holiday. Good thing I gave myself two months to write this novel, huh?
Fallen: Out of Time
Day 14: 0 | 15,607
Day 15: 0 | 15,607
Day 16: 0 | 15,607
Day 17: 0 | 15,607
Day 18: 0 | 15,607
Day 19: 989 | 16,596
Day 20: 0 | 16,596
Weekly Total: 989
Character Journal Entry: Samandriel - Grief & Guilt:
Of all the people who could have been killed, why Krishan? His skills were deadly, but he only fought in self defense or in the defense of others, and only if he had no choice. He was the best of men, kind and compassionate and wise beyond his 92 years. Humanity's well-being was his concern. As far as I know, he had no enemies.
When I saw four strangers standing over his lifeless, headless body, something snapped inside me. Everything Krishan taught me about self-control went out the window when I saw the macabre scene. Four men in bloody ninja uniforms, their faces hidden, standing over my dear friend with swords dripping with his blood.
One of the men still held onto Krishan's body, and when he saw me, he dropped it. I looked from Krishan to his killers, and rage unlike anything I'd felt before filled me, temporarily blackening my heart. I charged them, giving no thought to the lessons Krishan had taught me over the decades since we first met. Gladius, my sword -- Defender of the Damned -- fed off my rage. I didn't even try to stop it as it took one life, then another, until all four lay scattered, their collective life force flowing out onto the hardwood floorboards upon which Krishan and countless students, including me, had practiced the martial for so many decades.
The thought of being without Krishan's companionship saddens me greatly. I knew he would die someday, but I thought he would be the first on my short list of mortal friends to die in old age. Peacefully in his sleep. The way he actually died -- it was heinous, unjust, and certainly undeserved.
None of this went through my mind when I saw his lifeless body for the first time, nor did I think about it as I was killing those men. Rage prevented me from rational thought. All I knew was that he was dead, and I was angrier than I'd been in a long time. I lashed out without a thought to the consequences. I did what my rage demanded, and in seconds, his killers lay dead, staining the floor with their blood. The floor that Krishan and I had so recently sat upon in meditation and quiet conversation. The floor on which countless students had tumbled and fought as they practiced their craft. The floor that Krishan and I had periodically sanded, stained, and varnished with our own hands.
When it was all done, and I stood there, my chest heaving with every belabored breath, it hit me. The grief at being without my friend and mentor. The coming consequence of my rash actions. The fact that I could do nothing to repent of my sin, even though Krishan deserved justice for his early death. All of this hit me in that moment. It was one of the few times in my long life that I actually cried. The experience was not unlike waves hitting a beach during a rough bout of weather. Waves of grief and loneliness hit me, one right after the other, causing the tears to flow more and more fully.
What happened next I'll have to share next time. It had such an impact on me -- on my heart and soul -- that I need to think on it for a bit before I write about it here.
I will say this much. I miss my old friend. His death, and the deaths of many like him, are the reason I find it exceedingly difficult to go out of my way to make friends. When they die, more often than not, I grieve. I grieve hard. It's gotten to the point where I almost wanted to go to Iciria and end it all. I couldn't take any more of the heartache, or so I believed. I tried to harden myself against it, but when all was said and done, I'd still grieve when I lost someone important to me. Krishan's death was no different, but in a way, it was different. Very different. When he died, I lost all hope, at least for a brief time. Who would help me control the jumble of emotions I felt on an almost daily basis? He always knew the right words that would give me the determination to keep going, to try being better than I was. Some very dark days followed his death -- for both me and my brother, Zach -- but that's something I'll explain at another time.
For now, I'll end with this thought:
"When life knocks you down, you need to dust yourself off, stand up, and keep going. I know it
doesn't feel like it at the time, but those low points are the very things that will make you
~ Krishan Sharma
Krishan made me a stronger, better man than when I first met him. For that, and for many more reasons, I will always cherish our friendship.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Gladius, Defender of the Damned: a magical sword Krishan gave Samandriel shortly before his death. It renders its wielder invulnerable during fights, leading them to victory. Its magic only works on those who are fallen.
 Iciria: a dimension in time and space that evil can't inhabit. If a fallen being or person of impure heart enters Iciria, they will face complete oblivion with no afterlife, neither in Sheforat nor in any of the other celestial planes.
Excerpt from Chapter 23:
Whispers from the Past
The Valorin Wilderness
The storm moved off, eventually fizzling out, but Samandriel still could not access his magic. He would have to rely on his sword and his skills to survive whatever threats he encountered from here on out, because he refused to give up the search for his brother.
A light breeze blew as he tramped through the snow. The sun hung low in the sky, but wouldn’t set until weeks from now. He wouldn’t be able to hide out in the open, but nor would anyone else who might threaten him.
He halted in his steps and cocked his head to the side, listening. The voice came again, a whisper on the breeze.
He thought he recognized that voice, but he couldn’t be sure. And if it was who he thought it was, he must have escaped from Sheforat when Zach did — either that, or there was another prison break.
You should have been there with me, the voice continued. You were just as guilty as I was.
Samandriel ignored the voice and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
Fight me, Samandriel. Prove to me you’ve still got what it takes.
He continued to ignore the voice, focusing instead on the sound and quality of it. It was, indeed, his old friend, Omael. They’d started out as friends, but had ended up on opposite sides of a war that neither of them should have taken part in.
One way or another, you’re going to fight me, and I’ll send you to Sheforat. Want to know what I’ll do then?
Samandriel shook his head, willing Omael to go away. Instead, the fallen angel continued his threats.
I’m going to kill everyone you hold dear. I’ll start with that brother of yours. Zach’s trapped in another dimension of Ithuriel’s devising.
Samandriel stopped. He remembered that name. He’d loved Ithuriel once, but when Omael had come into the picture, Sam hadn’t fought for Ithuriel. He’d blindly believed their love could weather anything, including the attentions of his best friend.
And he lost her to Omael.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst part was the fight between himself and Omael. They’d been the best of friends, more like brothers. But Omael had killed for Sam, and Sam hadn’t wanted that, and a rift had formed between them.
Then war had broken out, and they’d supported opposite sides.
He stopped and stared up at the sky. “On the life of my brother, I will not spill even a drop of your blood, Omael. We were brothers once. We may be enemies now, but I refuse to fight you.”
With that, he returned his focus to the land around him, wondering how he could free Zach from another dimension.
Book I'm Currently Reading:
The Circle of Ceridwen: Book One of the Circle of Ceridwen Saga, by Octavia Randolph
It is the year 871. Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings. No trait is more valued than loyalty, and no possession more precious than one's steel. Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen year old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors.
Epic...immensely satisfying...an impressive achievement - Historical Novel Society The English Adventure loved by over 100,000 readers in 125 countries...
Lost in the frozen woods, Ceridwen is discovered by the warriors accompanying young Ælfwyn, daughter of a Saxon lord, sold against her will in marriage as part of a peace treaty with a marauding Viking war chief. Their destination is the captured fortress of Four Stones, a ruin holding glittering treasure. There Ælfwyn must keep her vow and wed Yrling - and Ceridwen must do all she can to support her new friend in the rebuilding of the ravaged village and great hall.
But living with the enemy affords Ceridwen unusual freedoms - and unlooked-for conflicts. Amongst them she explores again her own heathen past, and learns to judge each man on his own merits. Yrling's nephews Sidroc and Toki, both formidable warriors yet as different as night and day, compete to win Ceridwen for their own.
Through both guile and goodness Ceridwen and Ælfwyn begin transforming the world of Four Stones. But the threat of full-scale war escalates, and a midnight party of furtive Danes delivers someone to Four Stones who destroys the girls' hopes of peace and contentment. Now Ceridwen must summon all her courage - a courage which will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met..
Music I'm Currently Listening To:
A Rustic Christmas playlist on Spotify, a mix of Scottish, Irish, Gaelic, Medieval and Renaissance music, mostly with a Christmas theme.
Video I Like:
This one is more of a series. Maria at Northern Heart (on YouTube) did a series of videos on Swedish Christmas traditions a year ago, called My Swedish Christmas Calendar. I've just discovered her recently, and I've been really enjoying the series.
Here's the first video: Classic Swedish Christmas DIYs
If you like all things Scandinavian, I highly recommend her channel.
Lois Eighmy (pronounced like Amy) is a full-time fantasy and thriller writer. She's also an artist and fledgling photographer. You can see some of her writing and other creative works here on her website. She lives in Missouri with her husband, Jeff, her white calico cat, Chloe, and her brindle mutt, Nikita. She dreams of moving anywhere she can experience an annual White Christmas, but is happily working on being content with where she's at in the present.