Featured Image: Scott.Webb
I know, it’s been almost a year since my last post. A lot has happened in that time, not least of which my novel has changed completely. Instead of being set in that kind of WWII period where one nation has taken over the surrounding nations, I’ve shifted the timeline back to before that happened. So this will be the lead-up to that period.
Why? That’s a good question. It all started because I wanted to write a short background piece on one of the main characters in Broken Blade, when then became a novel in its own right. I decided I loved it enough to want to focus on it instead. So instead of seeing a fallen assassin, we see him growing up, and the events that led to the fall. A tragedy, to be sure, but I’m hoping to avert that and turn it into more of a redemption ending.
Will we see the original characters from Broken Blade? Not in that novel. As to whether the events in Broken Blade still happen, I’m also tossing up on that. It seems a little too dark for the note of hope that I want to end on.
For anyone who’s curious, a snippet from the beginning of the new novel is below. Enjoy!
My beginning has always been the source of wild rumour and speculation, so let me clear things up. I was not summoned by arcane ritual from the depths of the Endless Chasm, where the Great Father banished the Dark Ones at the beginning of time. Neither was I sewn together from shadows cast by the full moon, and breathed into being by the ghastly Hag, foul shadow of the life-giving Mother. And I most certainly did not claw my way out of my mother’s womb in a bloodthirsty frenzy.
No, I was born in the usual way, to an ordinary woman—though I would say she was extraordinary, such is my undoubtedly overwrought nostalgia—in a small village on the mountainous border of Capraeus. My mother was the village’s herbalist, and not given to the magic arts in any way.
I wish I could say I remember more about my mother. There are fuzzy memories of my hands stained green from crushed herbs, and her low, warm laugh as she ground the more potent ones with her pestle. The scent of rosemary and basil, growing outside our kitchen window, would mingle with the sharper smells from the medicinal plants like silverleaf and Goddess-vine. It’s strange how I still remember everything she taught me about plants, but so very little about who she was and what she looked like. Such are a young boy’s memories, I suppose.
Not a week passed when we weren’t awakened by frantic knocking on our door in the middle of the night, one villager or another desperately seeking her assistance. I could barely make her out in my sleep-blurred vision as she kissed me on the forehead and disappeared out the door in her favourite green wool cape. She always carried what I thought of as her “magic” basket, containing bandages, spirits, fresh and dried herbs, cordials, and various distillations.
Every rest day, we went to the roadside shrine just outside the village and left an offering to Terria, the Lady of the Land. My mother swore by her. Every plant that bloomed well, bloomed with the blessing of the Lady. Every plant that withered was one that returned to her great garden to bloom for eternity.
Then there was the lodestone necklace she wore, the black stone dangling from the leather cord like a charm against evil. She took great delight in finding bits of metal for me, and greater delight in watching my awe at how the stone pulled the metal to it like magic. It says a lot about the person she was, letting a child treat something so rare as a plaything.
I remember that I adored my mother, and she was the centre of my world.
But it’s my father who features most vividly in my memories. Back then, I knew him as a travelling tinker, returning a few times a year to rest before departing on his next journey. His visits were like a sharp winter wind that scythed through the drowsy warmth of ordinary life, bringing a shiveringly fresh scent of the world outside. Even my mother seemed more vibrant, more alive, more her, when my father was around. Perhaps I was the same.