Truliso

They repaired to the center of the wilderness in silence. Poxig was in the habit of counting his steps, since the heroes were deep in enemy territory. They would have to be extra careful if they wanted to elude the gryphons that inhabited these parts. Tefl lay down on the ground and began to pray to master control. He did not know how he would defend himself with only a cloak and staff. He put a finger to his mouth to hush Poxig. He could already hear the imp cotillion advancing in the woods, and it sounded like they were headed for them.

“Let us go now to the cave beneath the cataract! That is the only place that we can be safe from these demonic hordes,” said Tefl.

Tefl ushered his friend to the safety of the cavernous reaches. Outside of the rushing of the waterfalls, they could hear the advance of Garlang’s army. They were petrified, but they mustered some courage. Unless the enemy knew of their whereabouts, they would be completely unharmed.

They decided to stay the night there, without a fire because of fear that it would give their position away. They had to reach the Naughright guild by daybreak, and they knew that their foes would be on the lookout for any disturbance.

“I have been to the circle of sages before,” said Tefl. “I could by no means reach the inner circle. But I was headstrong and young.”

Poxig spent that cold night thinking about his options. Maybe with Tefl, he would be able to infiltrate the circle and at least find the source of the ORB’s power.

When the morning came, they set out for Naughright, and they were careful not to alert even the squirrels as to their presence. The sun shone in the sky overhead, and the wind bellowed through the trees. They cloaked themselves as they approached the city walls of Naughright. While they were on their way to the entrance, they heard a strange sound, like the screeching of a bat, and the rustling of leaves. There, right in front of them, was a dragon whelp, no larger than the size of a small horse. The dragon, moaning, called out.

“Oh! Oh me!”

“Who be you?” asked Tefl.

“I am Truliso,” he said, “and who are you?”

“We are poor wanderers on our way to Naughright. I am Tefl Broadsword, and this is my companion, Poxig of Excelsior,” said Tefl.

“I am also on my way to Naughright” the beast barked. “I have been sent from the Cardia Islands. It has been a long flight to here.”

“I knew a girl named Jane Lampion who had visited the islands. They are inhabited by dragons, but much larger than your size,” said Tefl.

“Well, then you must know that they sent me to find a way to the wizard’s guild, for it’s time for the prophecy to be fulfilled,” roared Truliso.

“Do you know of the light warriors?” asked Poxig.

“I have come from Cardia to meet them! I have important instructions from the king of dragons, Ramut.”

The knight withdrew from his knapsack a loaf of bread. He put it before the dragon who greedily ate it. In exchange for the snack, Truliso agreed to tell them the dragonite prophecy: a poem. He told them that he had been wounded by a human who shot him with an arrow, but he had survived and flown thus far. His goal was to take the poem further than the reaches of the island as a messenger to read the prophecy.

The earth is rotting; the seas is wild,

As dragons call to sages in the guild,

Time is out of sorts, and chaos looms amidst

The forests of Elvira, the chosen one sits

Among the holy four, who can go beyond

The pale of the floating continent, and along

The place where the Earthlink reaches the sky

The chosen four will atone for the sins of mankind.

Tefl feeds Truliso

Poxig and Tefl journey into the wilderness

Poxig began his excursion into the untapped wilderness with Tefl the knight errant close by. The unbroken verdure between here and the Naughright guild could be retained in the imagination for only a moment. So much potentiality existed for this range of forested countryside. He could not hope to reach the guild without days of fasting and prayer, but he was determined to do so. The wilderness was both the source of elven strength, and the place where gnomes and imps could take someone by surprise. In all his travels, he stopped to admire the primacy of nature.

“Tis an edification of the heart to look upon this!” said Tefl solemnly.

“I concur. But what imps could ruin our vista concerns me about,” replied Poxig.

“I have always believed that all of our ills can be solved by nature and a meditation of its truth,” returned Tefl.

“Still, this land bears great sorrows. We will have to find succor at some point,” said Poxig.

The heroes ventured deep into the wilderness, in search of the trail that would lead them to the Naughright guild. They were both struck with uncertainty, but remained focused on their ultimate goal. The trees resounded with support from the blowing of their leaves to their chanting in unison.

‘Ballo’

The Greek word for ‘throw’ was necessary for them to hear. Only to throw themselves into this project, to cast aside all aspersions, to venture forth in courage, all of these virtues would be needed to vanquish the foe: Garlang of the Temple mount.

Tefl Broadsword

A little insight into process

I recorded a vlog of my illustrations and writing process last month for a class that I’m teaching. I decided to try to vlog more of this story as a way to reach out to readers. This is an attempt to WordPress this, and see if I get more likes on this particular format.

If you’re an illustrator and looking for work, I’m always open to someone coming in and revamping the illustrations. I do them all myself, but they are not graphic-novel quality. I would like for a pro illustrator to help me with the visualization part of this novel.

I typically work by longhand, because I think that it makes my work more organic. Then, I transcribe what I have written by hand, editing as I go. This allows me to frequently change the plot line when I need to, such that the story is more malleable than it is if I type it out first.

I almost always do an illustration with each post, but this is slowly coming to an end. I have to get at least 100 pages more of the sequel, TEFL. But I find that working for an hour at a time, daily, helps with this whole process. I recently had to throw out most of a notebook because of the ignoring of several plot points.

I also keep an outline of how I think I’m going to weave the story. I call this journal ‘Superplots.’ This has all of the twists and turns in the hero’s journey before they happen in longhand. Then, I edit this at the macro level first, so that I don’t have to throw out large portions later.

If writers are reading this, please comment as to your process. That would be helpful to me, and I promise to respond.

Poxig and Theriot

Once he had conferred with Chris White the sage, he set off for the Ladimore mountains to reach the circle of sages, otherwise known as the Naughright guild. It was a guild of wizards and sages alike, a clandestine force for light magic. It was also these wizards who could confer upon Poxig a sense of credibility as the guardian of the ORB.

While he ambled through the forest, he encountered a halfling with red hair. His pudgy face was round and red. His jerkin was down to his waist over a rustic leather overalls. Poxig never met such a scruffy looking fellow. He was armed with a bow and arrow, and so Poxig was a bit startled.

“Ho there. I thought you were a deer!”

“Yes, well I could see why you would make that distinction.”

“Your green skin blends in so well with the forest! I might have shot you by accident! You have to be more careful!”

“Yes, of course.”

“I am Theriot, my village is just east of here. We are running out of food, and so we are hunting miles from the village.”

“I know the problem of which you speak. I am on a mission to solve the evil of the earth’s rot. It is for this reason that the animals of the forest do not have food, and so they go south to forage.”

“It is not the halfling way to be disputatious. We are a kind that lives close to the land. What will become of my village if we can no longer eat the sweetroot? The saplings are dying.”

“I am the guardian of the ORB. The ORB in the hands of a light magician can solve the calamity of which you speak. But first we must find the cause of this great evil and stop it.”

Theriot’s belief had not caught up with the impending reality of this threat.

“You mean to tell me…”

“You must suspect the worst, my dear friend. Even the friends of the king are at risk.”

“Then, I will accompany you to the farther reaches of the Ladimore mountains. Past there, we will meet the destiny that Releven seeks.”

He had never heard the name of his god amongst the lips of a foreigner. It had surprised him that Releven’s fame had reached this far.

Chris White’s proposal

Poxig beheld his true self in the mirror. It was a blurry spectral presence, which reminded him of his father. But he couldn’t help but ignore his red eyes, which was the evil that still dwelt within. He could not bear to look but for a few moments, and then turned away. He thought that he was impervious to evil, but the magic mirror had revealed that even he could bend to such a nefarious force.

Chris White stroked his beard in response to Poxig’s silence. He knew that Poxig would probably be the most unlikely hero, if indeed he was capable of greatness. Clearly, his attachment to legends was a liability. But Poxig had a heart that exceeded even the humans in Marginalia. He certainly could be counted on, but did not have anything in the way of brute strength or magical talent.

The magic mirror had indeed shown the dark side that Poxig did not want to face. If he were ever to aspire to the guardianship of the ORB, he would have to acknowledge this darker half and fight against it. Chris White knew better. He knew that the darker side, that is visible only to demons, exists within every heart of man and elf. Only the beasts were morally neutral. “We are all combinations of dark and light,” White stated emphatically.

“Well, I’ve never thought…”

“Never mind what you’ve thought. Everyone winces at the image in the magic mirror. To see your true self is a harrowing process, but each hero must know the good and evil that dwells within. The evil you face…”

“But what if…?”
White interrupted him. “The evil you face is more threatening than you can imagine. You must try to vanquish the source of the earth’s rot. But only the Naughright guild can ordain you to accomplish this task. You must win their approval.”

“And if they reject me?”

“That is a scenario that you must not acknowledge. You have been entrusted with the ORB. Somewhere, the other three ORBS exist. Those heroes and heroines have their own monsters to slay. You have your own. But nary an elf has ever had the heart that you have. Now that you know your true self, go forth. I give you this letter of recommendation to take to the guild. Take it and go, and do not turn to the left or the right.”

“I will be going then,” Poxig said boldly. “But what if I meet trolls on the way.”

“Your penknife has protected you thus far. It will suffice. It is your wit that is your true ally, not a sword and shield,” said White.

Poxig braced himself for the long journey ahead to the Naughright guild. It was there that he would receive the approval of the magicians who guided the forces of dark and light. White had agreed to accompany so far as the golden gate, but there Poxig would have to speak for himself as the guardian of the ORB.

Poxig, undeterred

The old sage

As Poxig fled the premises, he darted near the wood. The king’s guard followed close behind, raising their halberds towards the sky. They began to close in on him, and Poxig clung to the orb tighter. Then, he heard a voice come from the wood, “Enter here, young fellow!” There was a trapdoor in the roots of a tree.

Poxig hurried down the hatch, which closed behind him. There was an old man in a scarlet coat and a conical red hat. He sat in an enormous chair that was gnarled and ornate like an old tree. Poxig stopped to catch his breath. The old man spoke with a booming voice full of resonance.

“You need not worry about them. They can’t find us here.”

Poxig could hardly believe that he had escaped with the orb. Perhaps Releven had acknowledged his plight and provided an out to this dilemma. He knew that if he was found, the king would throw him in the castle dungeon again.

“Welcome, young elf, I have expected your coming.”

“What? How can that be?”

“The sages can use clairvoyance to perceive the future.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“Trust me. The destiny you seek can only be found with the aid of the circle.”
“The circle? What is that?”

“They are the guild of Naughright. They determine the fate of soldiers and wizards of yore.”

Poxig could not retain his skepticism. But he was glad to be away from the king’s guard. There was no reason to doubt the old sage, but he was still unfamiliar in this underground passage. It was warm and inviting, but everywhere along the walls were byzantine bookshelves, with thousands of colorful volumes. Field mice wandered in the dark recesses of the cavern.

“Why did you rescue me?”

“You can’t understand the omen of Naughright. The guild can see calamities before they are borne.”

“So in some strange way, we were destined to meet?”
“Precisely. You are the bearer of the sacred orb. That sphere contains incredible power that can be used for good or for ill. Master Control knew that you would need guidance in its use. I have come to help you become the elf that you are destined to be. But in order to be a true guardian of the orb, you must confront your true self. Most men, when confronted with their actual self, run away screaming!”

Poxig had always thought that he had known himself. But he reasoned that Releven probably knew him better than his own self-conception.

“What must I do?”

“Look into this magic mirror, and behold the self that will become the light warrior!”

Poxig was filled with trepidation. But he managed to heed the old man’s call, though he had to fight with his own cowardice. In truth, he didn’t really believe that he could become a light warrior. But he had to face his fear.

White the old sage

Traitor to the crown

Poxig renounced his ties to the calumny that he had been linked to. He had been accused of disloyalty to the king and acquitted. Now, he had to regain the ORB that he had buried in the graveyard in order to show the king that he was indeed of the elect. But time and time again, he found himself doubting the king’s devotion to his own cause. He needed to find the cause of the earth’s rot, and this caused him some trepidation.

He had to go when no one was around towards the end of dusk. The horse he had taken neighed when he pulled the reins, and stopped at the gate to the graveyard. The church beside it was dark and the windows looked like dim irises of a ghostly figure. The trees were gnarled, bare, and shadowy in the gloom. Poxig had come alone, but he sensed something was wrong.

He approached the burial mound behind the sepulcher. As he began to uncovered the buried ORB, he noticed a figure in the background behind the weeds of a gravestone. A mountebank from the court had had Poxig followed! The king’s guardsmen came from behind the stone. He drew his halberd.

“Stop where you are! This is the king’s guard!”

“I should have known that I would be followed.”

“Well, this is the end of the line. Give us the ORB!”

“There’s no chance. It belongs to me!”

“You plarts stole it from his majesty! Don’t make us impale you like a beast.”

Poxig searches for the buried ORB.

Poxig thought about his condition. He was by no means ready to molder in the king’s dungeon. He had spent months there. But if he surrendered the ORB, then he would have to get it back again. There was no chance of his being accepted by the Naughright guild if he relinquished the sphere.

Poxig threw the ORB over the gate and made a flying leap. If he could make a break for it, there could be a chance that he could retain the ORB.

“Stop thief!” exclaimed the halberdiers, hot in pursuit.

The mourning king

Poxig was wondering why the king did not make an appearance. He asked the amanuensis about it.

“The king has locked himself inside the North tower since the disappearance of his daughter. His daughter Sara fell in love with a knight that was in his retinue, but turned against him. He now sits in the ruined Temple with his bride.”

“So then, he won’t show his face until the time that he is reunited with his lost daughter?”

“Yes, you’ve spoken the truth.”

“Well, what about princess Sara? Was she complicit in this?”

” She fell in love with the dark knight, but her passions led to this captivity. The dark knight will not allow her to depart, and most think that he keeps her in the stronghold with powerful dark magic.”

“Why doesn’t the king send a hundred knights to liberate her?”

“The king still believes that his daughter chose this fate. He cannot make her return. The dark magic is based upon her dark passions for the rebel knight.”

Poxig wondered what god had deemed that the king live in such a horrible estate. The truth of the matter was that the king suffered two losses: that of a valuable knight and his only daughter. Such was the fate of the rich, to lose their progeny to the clutches of the unthankful former knights of the guard.

“What is the dark knight’s name?”

“You know him as Garlang.”

He was the rune warrior who had entranced the imp army to serve him, instead of the true king of Marginalia. Of course, imps could be easily persuaded to follow Garlang, since they were tricksters and blackguards. But Poxig had remembered the stand at Jongleur’s library. It had been against a formidable imp army. They had saved the sacred library from the torches of the enemy.

The king in spite of himself.

Poxig’s release

There he sat in his cell alone for two weeks straight. It seemed like the rats were his only companions. He kept waiting for the king’s pardon, but he did not know if it would ever come. He knew that he could not surrender the Orb, no matter what. Towards the end, the hard tack was soft and the beans were hard. It appeared that there was no end to his misery.

And then, the jailer opened up the jail cell.

“Er. Seljuk has secured your release,” he said.

“Praise Releven! Er. Seljuk had finally come through. They handed him a knapsack with his belongings. He sidled up next to the guard. “What is the basis of my release?” he asked.

“I am not authorized to say,” said the guard.

Poxig had to appear in court in order to clear his name. As soon as he entered the courtroom, Er. Seljuk was there in order to be his defense attorney.

“The amanuensis must write,” said the guard “Here stands the accused, as one who was indicted by the king, his majesty, Charles I. This elf is accused of conspiring to aid the king’s enemies.”

Poxig could not believe the charges that he had heard. But he had to admit that after all he’d been through, it would take a miracle to get him through this ordeal. He was expected to be above the level of a normal elf, and it was well-known that everyone was prejudiced against elves since the wars of religion.

Er. Seljuk gave his opening remarks: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, this elf , Poxig of Excelsior, stands before you accused of treason. There has been no evidence to suggest that this is true. We have seen a horrible prejudice in our land. Elves are decent creatures, wise, and rational. The magic arts flow through many of their veins. I have known the accused for almost a year, and have never known him to do anything untoward or unbecoming of a citizen of Marginalia.”

Someone shouted from the crowd: “Enough of this! Away with this elf!”

“I plead with you, ladies and gentlemen, not to be withholding due process from Poxig the elf,” said Seljuk.

“What crime has he committed?” said another voice.

“We have a letter from the royal pen of King Charles. He has addressed it to the accused.”

“Read it!” came a voice from the crowd.

She began to read:

“Concerning the fate of one treasonous to the Throne,

I have never received a letter from any elf, but yours struck my interest. Since my father fought against the king of Elvira in the wars of religion, I have looked for a way to pardon them from the penalty of the law.

I had to imprison you because you claimed to possess the missing orb. Your father stole it from my treasury years ago. I have the remaining 3 orbs in my possession. They will belong to the light warriors, who according to prophecy, will restore our land by finding the cause of the earth’s rot.

If you return the orb to me, I will secure your release from the depths of the dungeon. I want to determine if Emissary Seljuk is right that you might be the light warrior who has come into the world to save it from the pernicious evil that causes its rot.

If you heed my call, I will give you a quest. If you succeed in this quest, then I will know that you are truly a light warrior from the legend of the prophecy. In any case, I set you free from any indictment of this court. You may only see my face if you bring the Orb!

His Royal Highness,

Charles I

Poxig, the bearer of the Sacred Orb

Poxig awaits trial

Nothing could dissuade him from standing trial. They might put a noose around his head, but they couldn’t take his pride. King Charles remained aloof, and would not describe the reason for the solipcism. He begged for messages from the jailer, but could get nothing. Time was against him. Every passing day was another day that he could be executed.

To make matters worse, he was alone. John had been released, and he did not know why. He was alone with his thoughts, which kept swirling about in his skull. He began to talk to himself inside the jail cell. The food had gotten worse. Nonsense pervaded his head.

Night after night, he kept waiting for word from Er. Seljuk, but he was beginning to think that he was not going to intervene. He was the king’s coadjutor, and so his first loyalty was to the king and not to him, and certainly not to elves. Their bias against the elven race was well known to Poxig.

There was a ghostly howl of wolves outside the chamber. Suddenly, the gaoler opened the door and motioned for Poxig to enter. The time had come for his death. Nightmarish thoughts of his end began to trouble his mind. Now he had to face trial, and perhaps execution, and for what? He had done nothing wrong.

Poxig awaits trial