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New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chap 4 - Show us your world through the view of your word.

namfleJan. 29th, 2013 12:28 am New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chap 4

Alright, fans of muck and mirth, here is the fourth chapter of The Heir Exiled, rough draft. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.

To repeat, this is a work of fiction, taking place in a fantasy setting of my own creation. What you see here is a rough draft after only slight editing for punctuation and spelling issues. The final, finished product may look very different.

Chapter one is here, chapter two is here, and chapter three is here in case you missed either.

And now, I bring you...


THE LOST HEIR SAGA
BOOK ONE: THE HEIR EXILED
by V Peter Collins

PART I: Havencliff Keep

CHAPTER 4 - Before the Storm


Cloud-stained light bathed the eastern walls of Havencliff Keep, the stone statue built over a hundred years before atop a cliff that overlooked the eastern ocean on one side, and three days of land, and the Highreach mountain range to the west.

Near the top of the Keep, on the inside of that eastern wall, breakfast was being had. The Royal dining hall was much more a room than the great hall many stories below, used primarily for private dining amongst by the King and staff. At the one table, Tilly, Glory and Samjin were making light with each other as they enjoyed the day's first meal.

Callan entered, winded from the very long walkup atop the hour of drills he had performed on insufficient sleep. His armor was loose upon his form. He tossed his helmet carelessly into a corner as he stepped toward the wash basin, waving politely to the room's occupants.

"Beware, take care, the Man of Dust is here," sang Tilly, teasing her brother for the vast amount of dust he had carried in with him from the courtyard. He stripped the upper portion of his armor off and flung it with his helmet. A great cloud of dust rose. Quickly, Callan scrubbed his hands and face.

"Best to hold your tongue, Till," warned Samjin playfully. "I hear the Dustman is a hideous beast what eats little girls to break its fast."

"Worry not. I would punch any Dustman that threatens us with such force, it would need to walk on its hands to hold its head high." Glory dramatically pantomimed the punch she described, drawing a giggle from Tilly.

"I've no fear. What Man of Dust could withstand my mastery of magic?"

"What mastery?" rebutted Callan, drying himself off. "I can count the number of spells you know on but a single hand."

"Ho, ho, ho, the Man of Dust is naught but my omniscient brother!" returned Tilly, mocking Callan. He made his way to the food and took a plate for himself. There were flatcakes and honey, a variety of fruits, cheese, bread, and freshly squeeze juice. "And yet, what he should know and does not is that a mage never reveals all of her spells."

Callan piled his plate with food while his friends laughed around their bites. Tilly began to whisper, her hands dancing in swift, tight movements. She finished her spell just as Callan turned toward the dining table. Sparks exploded before Callan's face. He dropped, startled, his plate and its contents sent flying. Glory roared with laughter, Samjin wheezed as his body convulsed, and Tilly giggled politely behind her hands. On the ground, a pace behind Glory and Samjin, Callan held his belly as he chortled.

When the laughter died some, Glory slipped from her seat and extended a hand to the prone Prince. Still chuckling, he took her hand and let himself be hauled up. They stood for a moment with very little space between them. Their smiles deepened. Glory separated herself, leaving the Prince to replace his plate. He noticed Samjin looking at them, all humor gone from his expression.

"Why so sour, Sam?" he asked, returning to the buffet table.

"The cheese, I think," replied Samjin, turning his back. "Bring the pitcher with you, eh Cal?"

"Did the Noble's son just ask the Prince of the Keep to perform manual labor on his behalf?" The Prince's tone was mocking. When he arrived at the table a moment later, he once again had a full plate of food, an empty goblet, and the clay pitcher of juice, per his friend's request.

"Indeed," returned Samjin as the Prince took a seat beside his sister, opposite his friends. "And when we're done here, I've a pair of boots that require your particular brand of polishing."

"I suppose you'd have Father launder your breeches as well?" Tilly said, an eyebrow arched high.

"Nay, that'd be women's work," Samjin deadpanned. He laughed as Glory pummeled him while Tilly and Callan threw bits of food at his head. The light mood amongst the four friends continued throughout the rest of the morning.

***


Mid-day arrived. The grey skies finally made good on their threats and unleashed the rains, quenching the light thirst of the green grass that surrounded Havencliff Keep's entrance, and softening the hard, dusty road that lead from the Keep's gate through the neighboring woods into and through the nearby Havencliff Village.

On that muddy road, the recently departed Lord and Lady of Brightwood, and Madam Shelia of Ridgeriver traveled, sheltered from the light rain by tented wagons pulled by strong oxen. Behind them, the gates to Havencliff Keep were lowering, and the staff was returning to their duties.


Climbing up the main set of stairs built into the center of the castle, a king, a prince, and a princess rose from the ground floor to the royal chambers. Their pace was slow but steady, partially to conserve strength (for the sake of the aging King Jardinne) but mostly for the sake of enjoying a rare amount of family time. They were discussing the three nobles that had just departed, a discussion lead by Tilly and her youthful enthusiasm. King Jardinne could only manage brief responses to her statements and comments, and Prince Callan was completely silent.

"And did you take note of how Madam Shelia looked at you, brother?" Tilly chimed as they reached their intended floor. Jardinne smirked at Callan in a sidelong look. Callan looked from sister to father, and stopped in his tracks.

"You are jesting, I presume!"

The King shrugged. "The history of Havencliff is ripe with strategic marriages."

"Marriage!" The Prince charged forward, past his giggling sister. "She would be much closer in age to you, father."

"Truth, my son, but I'm not the one she may fancy." Jardinne chuckled as Callan rolled his eyes.

"Be sure to keep this news from your girlfriend," sang Tilly. "She might become jealous."

Callan pinched his nose and shook his head. "I am sure Glory will..."

"Oh, I was not speaking of Glory," Tilly cut in, smiling devilishly. Callan felt lost. "I have heard Mistress Myir can have quite the temper." She danced around her brother. Jardinne chuckled.

"I assure you both. I've no interest in my instructor, nor in marrying the esteemed Madam Shelia."
The King raised an eyebrow at his son. "For the good of the Kingdom, would you not take a handsome..."

"And aged..." added Tilly.

"...wife, to walk by your side, fire your passions, and temper your ire?"

"Aye, then, if it were for the good of the Kingdom." Callan turned to his sister then as she laughed. "But that would leave Tilly here to provide an heir to the throne."

Tilly's laughter stopped cold, while Jardinne's laughter grew in volume. She strode forward, head held high with indignation.

"I must prepare for class," she said. Father and son laughed as they watched Tilly walk away, her dress bouncing dramatically.

"I must take my leave as well, Father," Callan said, still smiling. Jardinne nodded.

"Aye, son. In all seriousness, I'm pleased with your performance during last night's dinner. Not with your songs, although those were splendid." Callan's expression turned to puzzlement. "I speak of your conduct as an officer of diplomacy of the Keep."

"I see. My thanks, Father."

"Your sister was correct, Madam Shelia did take a shine to you. Perhaps not quite in the way we teased," and they smiled lightly at each other, "but she seemed as much impressed with you as she was with my trade proposal."

"You believe she thinks me a worthy successor, who would honor the agreements should I take the throne early?"

"I do at that." The Prince nodded, satisfied. Jardinne's tone lost some of its humor as he spoke. "That said, I ask you take the words I spoke last night to heart."

"Concerning Master Garunth?" Jardinne nodded slowly, his face set in an expression of paternal expectancy. "Aye, sir. I pray he will as well."

They parted then, with a wave, the Prince to his quarters and the King back to the stairs, their hearts and steps light.

***

The rains continued to fall as the day lengthened, although the cloud cover was thick enough as to obscure the passage of time. Listening to the soft hush of the precipitation falling upon the bricks outside, Callan tuned his ears to the rhythms. He stood in one of the training rooms positioned near the courtyard; along the walls were racks of weapons, shields, and training armor. The floor was padded with wood chips, scrap fabric, and feathers sewn into great pillows. As a child, Callan had taken great pleasure in flinging himself upon the softened floor. Years later, he still finds the room a comfort to be in.

As he hummed a tune to the rhythm that only he could hear, he stretched his limbs and body in preparation for unarmed fighting class.

"Quite the voice you have there," he heard suddenly. In the past the sudden appearance of Mistress Myir had startled him, but he had come to expect her silent entries, timed for those brief moments when his attention was not on the entrance. This time, she had appeared in the large room while he had his head down upon his right knee, having folded himself in half. He looked up and smiled. As usual, he felt a tiny rush of emotion. She was wearing fabric leggings and a loose tunic, belted at the waist of her tall frame, both dyed dark greens that complimented her brown skin. Covering her head was a plain kerchief, leaving her round eyes, small nose, and rounded lips to seemingly hover above her long neck unframed. Tilly's observation was quite accurate, but Callan would never admit it. Beside, as much as he was attracted to his instructor, he always found himself comparing her to Glory.

"Thank you," he said simply. She sat before him, placed her feet against his, and folded herself with fluid ease.

"I'd known of your talents, but last night was the first that I'd heard you play. It was a genuine treat."

He smiled again, blushing slightly. "I could be available to perform for special occasions, but you'd have to check with Father for my availability," he quipped.


Their stretching and banter lasted for a short while more, then she moved them onto the lesson of the day; redirection. In previous lessons, Mistress Myir had taught Callan various techniques in blocking all manner of physical strikes. This day's lessons were an advanced defensive technique that would allow him to control an opponent through their attack, beyond simply blocking them. He grasped the concept quickly and proved to be adept at it. She then taught him how to avoid such countermeasures. They spent the remainder of the class drilling on his knew set of skills.

"We'll practice these in the coming classes, since it can be difficult to do so on your own," she said at the end of class.

Callan nodded. As he usually did after a class with her, he felt fulfilled and invigorated. He could already visualize how these new techniques he had just learned would allow him to disarm a foe, possibly even taking possession of the weapon himself. With a bounce in his step, Callan retrieved his things, namely his armor for his next class, and bid his instructor a pleasant farewell before bounding away.

***

The windless rain continued to fall. The courtyard had already been turned into a mudpit and was threatening to become a full-fledged bog. A dozen martial students, dressed identically and uniformly miserable, stood at attention in the soft but unrelenting downpour. Wars were fought with complete disregard to the weather, explained Master Garunth, and so training would occur in the same fashion.

Garunth set a perfect example of indifference to the weather. He paced up and down the line as his booming voice projected his speech even above the sound of the shushing rain; his head was high, and he made no outward notice of any discomfort from the falling precipitation or the mud that tried to hold his feet.

"Your performances during the last class were commendable, but you are still far from the soldiers you should become," he droned on. "Today, you shall spar, so that I might address the individual flaws in your techniques."

The announcement produced quiet murmurs as the students questioned and looked to each other. Garunth continued to pace and lecture, but Callan and his friends had heard all they cared to.

"How does he expect us to execute techniques flawlessly in this torturous wetness?" complained Samjin in a whisper. He had wisely waited for their Master's back to be shown.

"That's the point," hissed Glory. "'No barrier before techniques', remember?" and just as the words had escaped Glory's tongue, they were echoed in Garunth's booming tones as the summation of his long-winded lecture. Callan snickered at the coincidence in timing. Unfortunately, Garunth had just come about and caught the Prince's reaction. The Master of Arms glowered. Callan's light mood plummeted.

"We shall begin with Ellis and Glory. Places!" Eyes on the students, he pointed to his left, to the center of the field.

"Oh, sink it all," grumbled Glory as she scooped up her shield and helmet. Callan gave her a friendly, reassuring nudge on her arm, while Samjin patted her shoulder. She emptied her helmet of rainwater, donned it, then slapped it as she strode forward, determined.

Ellis met her in the center of the muddy field. He was youngest and the smallest of the students. He looked as a child dressed in his parent's gear, with everything oversized and stuffed with padding to fit his frame. He wielded his wooden sword well enough, but his shield-work was slow.

Garunth barked at them to begin, staying fairly close to the sparring partners as their swords flew and feet worked against the mud. Every so often, the Master would cease the action and step in to make a correction. This occurred a handful of times before Garunth dismissed them and called for the next sparring pair.

The afternoon bled away in this fashion. Callan, Samjin and Glory watched from the bench as Garunth harshly corrected student after student. Even those they had thought to be his favorites were not spared the lash of his whipping tongue. During his match with Werner - the single most unremarkable boy in the class - Samjin received an extra helping of criticism, from his stance to the way he breathed.

"It is amazing you have succeeded this far in this class," declared Garunth. He commanded the combatants to return to their starting positions with a motion, and had them duel again.

"Poor Sam," muttered Callan. By now he was so thoroughly soaked that he did not even notice it. Beside him, Glory leaned forward, propped up by her elbows on her thighs, solemnly witnessing the thrashing their friend was taking.

"Poor Sam?" she said, sitting upright. "Poor you, I think."

"I was trying not to think of that," replied Callan somberly. It was almost merciful when Garunth called for an end to the match. He had hardly made any recriminations to Werner. Samjin's expression, however, was unchanged or damaged by the harsh treatment; his smirk was ever present, almost as if he mocked the misery the rest of the class experienced. Glory and Callan looked to him in disbelief as he rejoined them, then laughed quietly.

"Don't ever change, Samjin," said Callan, his mood lifted, if only by a small amount.

"I could not be paid with enough gold or girls to stay in these horrific garments," he returned. Glory hit him playfully, drawing a laugh from Samjin.

Garunth marched partway to the bench. Callan noted with dread that the Master was staring directly at him.

"Billom and Prince Callan," called the instructor.

"Here we go," commented Glory as Callan retrieved his gear and stood. She and Samjin looked to each other, exchanging expressions of worry.

Callan marched to the center of the field with his back straight and head high, taking slow steps and long strides to overcome the mud. He did not spare the Master so much as a glance. As he took his position in the field, the large and slightly rounded Billom took his opposing place. The younger brother of Jarem, Billom's size belied his junior status. Of the rest of the class, only Dabnes was taller, but no one save for Master Garunth was bigger, although the stout and swift Kethlen was a close second.

"Begin!" barked Garunth. Billom charged and swung mightily. Callan blocked with his shield, and elected to stay on the defensive, in order to learn how to properly move in the mud.

The match lasted for quite a while uninterrupted; Billom was aggressive, using powerful blows to break Callan's defense, but the Prince was simply too good. He gave away no openings nor over-extended himself during his few attempts at a counter-attack. After a lengthy series of exchanges, Callan became confident in his footing and footwork. He stayed on the defensive for a few more exchanges, then exploded with an offensive flurry that drove the larger boy back until his feet left him and he fell backward, his armored body making a large, wet slapping sound upon impact with the mud. Callan discontinued, since this was victory was not the goal of this combat. He looked to the Master for a pronouncement, anticipating some form of acknowledgement of his skill.

Garunth stepped forward then veered toward the fallen student after a few steps.

"Do you understand your error?" he asked the boy. There was a comical sucking sound as Billom hauled himself free of the mud's grip; many of the boys on the bench laughed.

"No, sir," was Billom's meek reply. Callan gave up on his hope of acknowledgement, but held his tongue and his expression as he witnessed the exchange.

"Your center of gravity was too high for unsure footing," was the explanation. Garunth assumed a ready posture and quickly demonstrated the tactical advantage of lowering one's self at the knees under certain conditions can be advantageous. This was a lesson Callan had learned quite a few years hence, under the tutelage of Mistress Myir, and in fact had applied that knowledge in that very bout. The Prince understood, then, that the best he could hope for was a lack of attention from the Instructor. This would require masterful execution on his part. Very well, then. With a deep breath, he let his disappointment slip from him. His mind cleared, his body relaxed. When Garunth had stepped aside to let the bout recommence, Callan felt quite ready and sharply focused. The day's lesson with Mistress Myir came to the fore of his mind, and he quickly formed a plan of attack.

Garunth restarted the match. Billom was much more cautious. Callan inched closer, shield at the ready, sword back. He drew an attack with a feint, and they were begun. There was a slow but heated exchange as both combatants held their ground. Callan blocked a low swipe with his shield, leaving it down longer than the technique required. It was a feint, however. Billom brought his sword to attack through the perceived opening. Employing his recently learned technique, Callan brought the upper edge of his shield into the sword and lifted, pushing the blade out of harms way. With two swift strikes, Callan disarmed Billom then slid the edge of his wooden blade against the side of Billom's helmet, lunging. Startled, Billom slipped and fell again. The boys on the bench laughed again. Glory stood and cheered, arms raised. Callan stepped back.

"Improper shield technique," bellowed Garunth. Callan nodded with agreement, until he saw that Garunth was looking directly to him.

"Mine?" Callan asked, deeply surprised.

"Most assuredly, Prince," he returned. Callan was beginning to loathe the way Garunth used his title as an expletive. "A blade might snap over the edge as you had used it, and blinded you, or worse.

"That is preposterous!" he roared. "There was not so much force behind the blow to cause a break in the blade!" He tore off his helmet, dropped his shield and sword and confronted Master Garunth. Boy and man were both outraged, and a new sparring matched had commenced, this battle fought with sharp words and raised voices.

***

Overlooking the courtyard, candle light fought the weather's gloom to illuminate the Laboratory of Magic, where Princess Tilly was engaged in another lesson with Instructor Kuord. The previous day's lecture had been about the properties of light. Today's laboratory, held in a space twice the size of the lecture room and devoid of anything save a stained circle on the stone floor, and a lonely wooden cabinet in the corner, put the theories discussed previously into practical understanding.

With his long nose all but buried in his large tome of a spell book, Master Kuord recited the day's third spell to his pupil. He stood at the outer edge of the large circle that dominated the room's floor, his shadow dancing to the flickering rhythm of the candles that hung evenly about the room, suspended by no obvious means.

In the center of the circle, wearing a dark robe that seemed large enough to fit two of her within, stood Tilly. Her own book was floating before her, supported by the type of spell that kept the candles from falling. Quill in hand, she was writing as Kuord spoke. Her penmanship was neat and large thanks to, by her reckoning, a million million hours of practice. She finished with a flourish and placed the quill between the two open pages.

"Good. Are you ready for the movements?" inquired the Instructor. In response, Tilly nodded while tugging the overly large sleeves up. She was alert and determined. These were the moments she most enjoyed in this class, when she learned to make something happen that was otherwise impossible.

Kuord made slow, deliberate gestures with his hands, going through the entire spell once for her to view. She nodded - she was sure she could remember the first third already. He repeated the gestures, even slower, as she moved along with him, mimicking him. This spell required a series of circular movements with both hands, fingers curled as if around a cup, ending with both hands forward, fingers splayed.

"Excellent," he praised; she had copied him perfectly on the first attempt. "Now, faster." They went through the motions again, this time with the pace quickened. "Faster." Another repetition, executed at greater speed. Kuord made a twirling motion with one finger extended, meaning she was to go again, faster. The next time, he dropped his hands entirely and watched as she repeated the gesture over and over again, her speed increasing with every iteration, until her hands were a blur.

"Well done, Princess," he said, his lips almost curling into a smile. She smiled and took a breath. "Now, the words." She read the passage she had just dictated, then repeated the gesture once more at her best speed, this time adding the vocal component. A miniature sun appeared before her, small enough to fit into a soup bowl and bright enough to set the entire room ablaze. She squinted against the light but smiled in wonderment.

"Very well done indeed! Now," and he stepped into the circle, "the penultimate word in the phrase controls the shape, and the last word determines the color.

"And the brightness?"

He rocked backwards on the heels of his boots, an impish look to his face. He raised an eyebrow.

"Can you tell me?"

Could she? Tilly slowly repeated the gesture again and recited the words in her mind, analyzing everything as she went. Her entire body vibrated with excitement when she figured it out for herself.

"The second movement of the left hand controls the brightness!" she squealed. "It's the same as with the spell of sparkles!"

Kuord beamed with pride and nodded emphatically. He stepped back out of the circle. "Quite correct. Experiment, see what you can come up with on your own."

With exuberance befitting of her youth, she began to create beams, globes, and arcs of light in all colors. This created a wild, rainbow strobe effect about the room.

The tones of raised voices seeped into the window. Tilly recognized Master Garunth's voice immediately and ignored it. She realized a moment later that the second voice belonged to her brother. She had but rarely heard him raise his voice in such anger before, and became immediately distracted. Her last attempt fizzled. She rushed to the window, her book floating obediently behind her.

"Now, Princess!" scoffed Kuord. She ignored him and pressed hers face against the glass, trying to get as much of the courtyard below into view as possible. The words became intelligible, and she listened intently, her lesson and protesting teacher utterly forgotten.


***

To Chapter 5


That's the end of Chapter 4. Any comments will be treated as from a beta reader, and will be sincerely appreciated.

Current Music: Adam WarRock - Madrox

6 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:hybrid_xisha
Date:February 14th, 2013 09:22 am (UTC)
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Man. The situation between master and student is going nuclear fast. Callan is so skilled at, well, pretty much *everything* he does, so I'm very curious to see how his lack of skill in controlling himself in such an infuriating situation will play out for him. Garunth's not exactly innocent either, but Callan's looking like the one who really needs to get a grip on himself here, if'n I'm reading the situation right. :) You're young, kid prince, and you've got to learn. It's seeming like we're building up to Callan gaining some maturity and adult perspective later, as things progress, and that would be awesome since there's not as much of that in fiction as there should be. (I may also be projecting the main character from Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow, Thorn trilogy that I'm currently re-reading. XD)
From:namfle
Date:February 15th, 2013 01:37 am (UTC)
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No, you nailed it. Part of the point of the story is to show his maturation. Read the next chapter, see how much on the head you were.

Then again, is it good that what I'm writing is that transparent?

-elf-
From:hybrid_xisha
Date:February 15th, 2013 09:32 am (UTC)
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In the subject of character development being hinted at in stories, but rarely taking place to the extent that it should? Hell naw, this is a GOOD thing if your readers think "Oh, I'll bet that's a learning experience later" and then it actually happens instead of being glossed over later.

But I can't really tell you if you were being wide-open with your intents or if it's just what I'm more likely to notice, 'cause focusing on the creative backbone of characters, story, and setting is what I'd like to *think* is my strong point. You prob'ly notice that I comment more on character interactions and story-world situations than on more technical stuff like improper use of English or storybuilding that's a little loose. That's what I feel most confident doing in my feedback. :) And it seems to not be a bad thing. A few years back, a friend of mine hired three people to beta her sci-fi novel: one to proofread for writing errors, one to look for loose threads and sloppy writing, and me to help tighten up the "emotional backbone" of the story by giving creative advice. She landed her first agent within two weeks of submission and said that most of the positive feedback she got was in relation to the aspects of the story I worked on because readers care more about how a story makes them *feel* than they do about proper spelling or tight writing (though those are both very important too!) Her novel's being published by Random House (I think; it's one of the Big Houses) this spring, so I guess I didn't completely fuck my work on her book up. :D (I can't wait to add this to my resume, either!)
From:namfle
Date:February 16th, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
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....

So how do I bribe you to beta my other novel? Serious question.

-elf-
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 2nd, 2013 11:30 am (UTC)
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Ah, I'm getting fonder and fonder of these characters. I enjoy the small scenes of camaraderie that bring us in close to them, when things are light and easy. Offset with that is always that we know there will be trials to come. And of course, the Garunth scene brings us right to that. It was interesting because as that scene started, I was impressed that Callan took his father's advice/need to heart and allowed his body to settle and accept Garunth's treatment. it seemed a sign of maturity. Then Garunth pushed further, and Callan gave in to his temper, which then suggested that he's not one to completely quell his temper, or isn't experienced yet with having to do that. I liked that because it made me think there are two things going on, both Callan having to deal with the conflict of Garunth and the conflict of how to handle himself and live up to his father's expectations.

I'm loving your details of place, food, garments, especially as you convey them in action. It puts me right in this world and I feel it in a tactile way--example, the opening scene when Callan is taking off his helmet, how we see it through the action, and see the table and dust and room. I was right there with them!

I tend to be one to skim the workings of skills--how swordplay is done, how magic is done--and go right to the result. But that's me. In this genre, I think most readers are looking to experience those skills, even bring to it what they know from reading other fantasy books. But I was convinced that Callan was learning good things from Myir (sp?), and that he really was very practiced in the art. It made me believe in his prowess.

Okay, I have to get my daughter to school! I was up at 4:30 instead of 4:50 and got twenty free minutes before the day starts, lol. Off to the day. Have fun moving forward!

Pat
From:namfle
Date:April 3rd, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
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Great comments, Pat. They help me see, potentially, what the reader is seeing that I can't. And I'm glad you're enjoying this. I hope you have fun with the next chapter. :)

-elf-