The Red Dance Partner – Excerpt Four

I know I said I would not post any more excerpts, I am aware that it is unwise to post too much material online, however this is not an excerpt of Episode Two, this piece comes from one of my favourite scenes in Episode One – The Utopian Dream.

This scene depicts our female protagonist, Isabelle Verano, having successfully star called, pulling one of the twelve Celestial’s from their plane into ours in front of a few of the High Councillors of Virtue, within one of the Glyph Domes, places where Glyph Wielders practise and perfect their unreal abilities. Believe me when I say, I could talk for days if not weeks about this story and all of its finer details, but alas, I have the image above and the excerpt below for that, so I will not draw out this article with my baggy interpretations, I’ll let you view it the way you like and listen to the feedback, if any. In saying that, I did learn something that I should have learnt a long time ago the other day, it was when I was trying to describe my vision to Mr Sucevic, I was smothering him in details which is not a good thing. Instead of giving him room for his own ideas, I overloaded him with mine, which is unwise. It is unwise because one can learn from other creative people, you can find inspiration and you can grow from simply talking and listening to others. Of course there are some instances where things HAVE to be done in the way you want in relevance to the story. My advice to all those in my or similar positions is, let other people be creative to, let them have their own input and be sure to consider the good ideas. I do believe I have a very vivid imagination, I like to think that I know this story inside and out, that I know ALL of those little details, though when it came to describing this scene before work commenced, when it came to voicing it, sketching it and plotting out where everything had to be, admittedly I was left scratching my chin, left in a trance slowly going cross eyed. It is harder than you might think. After several attempts, a handful of late night conversations, plenty of e-mails and a bucket load of coffee, Bojan and I finally caught the look we were going for and we got the work done. Hard work pays off; Once you learn that success depends on what you put in, that determination and dedication is absolutely key, nothing becomes impossible to achieve and doors begin to open.

As always, if you like this Blog, my work, or have any suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered, do not hesitate to get in touch using the information at the end. Big thank you to all those that are following me on Twitter, never thought I’d ever reach over two hundred followers, it is very much appreciated. Huge thank you to everyone who is downloading The Utopian Dream onto their Kindles, I am donating all the money made to a charity involving the regrowth of lost forests here in Australia.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt, please be aware that the Chapter 14 – The Red Dance Partner, is large and contains more than just Isabelle’s story, it has been cut up accordingly to describe the star calling scenes only and not the others that obviously appear in the full story. Be sure to have an excellent day, please consider a purchase of my work or to refer it to someone who loves epic fantasy. PEACE OUT!

_____

Isabelle’s door was opened by a guard. She ordered him away and stepped inside the room, where the sensual scent of pearls hung in the air. A little light had been lit for her in each corner of the tidy room. She raised her hand a little and twisted it around, the warm candle light in the room brightening with the action of her wrist, the flames glowing stronger. She lifted off her top and draped the fabric over the back of a chair. The image of herself in the mirror stared at her as she approached the large square wardrobe. She gently let the door swing open and placed her hand inside the space, feeling the shimmering touch of her beautiful, fiery red dress. Carefully she released it from the hook and hugged it against her chest. Pandora sat on the nearby desk watching her mistress with those haunting green eyes, reflecting the candle flames.

“Isabelle, it’s time. Are you ready, my lady?” called a voice from behind the door. She turned to the mirror, looking deep within herself and spoke very confidently.

“Yes, I’m ready.” Hearing the footsteps drift away, further down the corridor, she continued in little more than a whisper: “Are you ready, my dear High Councillors of Virtue?” The candles extinguished themselves, their lone flames drowned out one by one until the room fell into darkness. Isabelle’s iridescent, green eyes were the only light in the sheer darkness, like icy, emerald ponds in a desert of black.

The High Councillors of Virtue had been true to their word and granted Isabelle the rest of the day off, though what they failed to understand was that she had not been relaxing during this supposed free time. The Chosen had been psyching herself up, mentally preparing for the Star Call that was to take place. Five of the twelve rulers of Xiondel City stood in a perfectly round, stone chamber; this was where people would practise with the glyph pearls that emitted Omnio energy. The gentlemen gathered around the round wide, central stage. The chamber, carved from black and bronze rock, was very dark inside. A few candles melted away in the far corners of the chamber, along with a single fire, angrily devouring its fuel of wood and oil, burning brightly, its flames vaulting out high. The basin from which the fierce flames leapt, ringed with spines and sharp teeth metal edges, sat directly opposite the stage and gave Yespin a vague clue as to which Celestial Isabelle would be Star Calling that night. She had, after all, been in and out of the room all day, preparing it for the arrival of the demi-God, making the area presentable and perfect. The chamber was fit for at least a hundred people, though at the moment it held only five men. Taktard and Darlo stood whispering together near their front row seats. Julias was also seated on one of the flat, stone chairs closest to the stage, which were in fact more like sets of steps leading higher and higher toward the top of the rocky room. The chatter quickly quietened down to silence. Cillian, High Councillor Charity, sat down in front of Yespin and leant back to him, asking:

“Did she tell you which Celestial will be visiting us this evening?”

“No, I left that decision up to her. I am confident in her wisdom. She has never made a wrong move in the past. In fact she rarely makes any sort of mistake.”

“We all make mistakes, Yespin, however small, we all make them, even Star Callers. I don’t believe you when you say that this woman is perfect.”

“You doubt her, don’t you?”

“I don’t doubt her abilities as the Chosen. I’ve seen her power first hand before, just like you, and it is most impressive, magnificent even.”

“So what’s troubling you, Charity?” asked the Councillor of Truth.

“I don’t see her spreading her wealth among the desperate, those without homes and families, those without shelter or protection of any kind. I guess it takes no power at all to give. These Celestials are powerful, but I don’t see them making things better in people’s everyday lives; it’s not the Gods that help, it’s the people caring for one another that make the differences, just as you said earlier. You were right.” Yespin nodded his head slowly; he always had a counter argument and Cillian sighed upon hearing it.

“As High Councillor Charity, only you can talk this way. Your argument is fair enough, but in truth it was indeed the Celestial Souls that delivered us from chaos and gave us a path. If it hadn’t have been for the first Chosen, Regina Corah – the one who Hallow had predicted would come, would bring us Starillia and awaken the twelve – our world would be a very different place and neither you nor I would exist. Maybe, one day, men will change and all of this will be forgotten, nothing but forgotten scrolls and writings on buried walls. For now, Cillian, embrace our peace and be thankful for it. We will witness a spectacle tonight that many would pay handsomely for. And do not be so naïve as to say that Isabelle does not spread her wealth, for she does, each and every day.”

“Where does the money go?” Cillian questioned, squinting his eyes, keeping his voice down to a whisper.

“Isabelle is always looking for answers, so most of it goes to education and to the works in Fevoriel; there are many buried temples and tombs in those lands, which may hold answers about our predecessors. Some of her gold funds Livale, on the borders of Tthenadawn Forest, where artefacts lost throughout the timeline of history are being uncovered on a daily basis. Old Druidic objects are the most common; you should go to the museums every once in a while and see for yourself, my boy. Her generosity has also helped to fund major developments in Xiondel, her donations have been most appreciated, and she keeps little for herself. I cannot believe you didn’t know of her contributions to… Charity.” Cillian sat quietly, put firmly in his place.

“Why is this the first I have learnt of this?” Yespin smiled.

“Isabelle doesn’t make her donations public; she doesn’t feel the need to do so, but we know it is her. She has already won the people’s love simply by spending time among them as often as she can. She has easily surpassed the popularity of Freya through her work with education. Each Star Caller has excelled in comparison with her predecessor, of course, but no one has ever been better than Regina, and I mean no one; she was the greatest who EVER lived…” Yespin sat upright and stopped talking mid-speech, something which Cillian noticed.

“What is it?”

“I get the feeling she does too much for the public and not enough for herself; it’s one thing to be selfless and another thing to be neglectful. Sometimes I get the feeling that Isabelle is growing weaker.” Cillian looked back at the stage in thought; he had more arguments left in him, but now was not the right time to express them, that time would come in due course. The other Councillors sat down and awaited the Star Caller, for it was time for the performance to begin. The chamber sank into utter silence, a lonely moth fluttering past the tall, double doors as they opened as one, creaking painfully on their tight, stiff hinges.

The Star Caller stepped inside, suited in a new, ethereal style, majestic for the Councillors of Xiondel to behold. Her golden hair was tied up in a top knot; along her arms were wonderful wrist bracelets and rings decorated her fingers. She walked with incredible grace toward the centre of the round stage, her black, high-heeled boots sending echoes throughout the chamber. The Councillors let their eyes wash over her in awe. As she climbed the stage, she had never felt so in charge of a situation. The Celestial she was about to call upon whispered words into her ear, thanking her in advance for the invitation to another dimension. A gentle breeze breathed over the fire burning in the big, silver basin and wafted the lit candles huddled together in the corners. Isabelle’s thin, teasingly revealing, ruby red dress hung off her shoulders and trailed behind her like a ghostly shadow. With all eyes on her, she stood in the centre of the chamber, holding her long-staff close to her side, focusing her thoughts into the act she had practised repeatedly for years. She breathed deeply. Her chest moved in and out, in and out, as she built up the energy needed to perform. It had been a while since she had called upon this particular Celestial Soul.

The soft whispering of the High Councillors quickly gave way to absolute silence. The ritual was about to begin. Isabelle closed her purple tinted eyelids, hiding her green irises, and raised her head, lifted up her arm and flicked her hand to the side. The double iron doors slammed shut with a deafening thud, extinguishing every flame in the room in a heartbeat. From the darkness rose an amber light, like that of a summer’s sunset. She remained in the centre of the stage, arm held high and relaxed, feet close together. She performed her swaying, snakelike actions in a simplistic but beautiful way, all the while keeping her eyes closed. Lowering her hand down close to her thigh she wove together delicate steps, yet still not moving from the raised platform. Slowly she raised the long staff in her right hand in rhythm with the flow of soft music coming from somewhere in the chamber. Isabelle Finally the Star Caller left her spot and danced gracefully and leisurely around, lifting her legs up high, twirling around. The gentlemen watching the ritual were shocked; none had known she was so flexible, able to bend her back so far. She always kept her balance as she danced around, completely absorbed in the steady music, gradually growing faster and faster, building to a climax. She shut herself off from everything around her, from the entire world of Equis and all her worries, crossing in and out of the realm of the ethereal, the realm where her Celestial waited patiently, surrounded by darkness and a heavy, blue mist. The drifting lilt of the music was her only guide now. Isabelle moved like a river meandering around a rock, straightening her staff and sliding her curves around it like a boa constricting its helpless prey. Her face remained calm, her mind focused on the ritual, but her body appeared to be on moving by itself without any conscious input. Her eyes still remained closed, the glyph within dictating her movements. This was one of twelve rituals she had practised and perfected. She made her way back to the centre of the stage with a fine leap and dropped into a crouched position with her long staff stretched out vertically. The ruby red dress eventually caught up with her and began to settle around her feet, so light that it floated down to the ground life a feather in a breeze. Not a sound could be heard from the councilmen in the room, who were silently boiling over with joy and anticipation. But where was the Celestial? The candles sparked and the small flames grew tall, expanding into pillars of light.

Suddenly, the basin of fire burst with a blinding flash! A bright light dazzled everyone except Isabelle, whose eyes only now opened, for this was the tricky part of the performance. Her eyelids shot open, revealing her fiery, glimmering, emerald irises. She arose, coming back to life and exploding into an aggressive, raging dance. She spun as viciously as an angry tornado in an open field. She tapped her feet and turned her legs on the spot, all the while twirling around, releasing her limbs into a series of spiralling kicks, constantly circling the stage. Her arms made use of her staff, which spun and swung, ripping through the air over her head. Isabelle ran around the edge of the stage, taking bigger and bigger strides as she went, a gleam of green from her eyes trailing after her. Picking up speed, she dove into a forward roll and flipped herself into the air! The councillors gasped at the height and danger of the move, at the thought of the consequences of a single, grave mistake. She moved like fire in the wind, the beauty of her leaps almost inhuman. The dress that trailed after her seemed to turn and move by itself, acting as her inanimate dance partner. The Star Caller leapt into the air and rolled into a ball, landing on her feet, slamming her great long staff into a hole at the far end of the stage. The staff stood vertical and the soft melody stopped with a thundering thud. A slower tune arose from the shadows, the candles glowing blood-red this time, and the basin of fire emitting its pulsating flames again. The fire ascended like a cyclone, curling and coiling up, only to plummet like a waterfall, splashing back down into the basin of searing heat. The lovely melody floated and crept into the ears of the observers. Isabelle had gripped the attention of her audience, she would have to die to break their attention now; none of them could physically look away from the spectacle. She paced around the staff seductively, exposing her thighs, giving the gawping Councillors a treat. As the melody grew ever quieter, she grabbed the tip of the staff where the clouded, lilac orb was indented and tried to pull something out. The music grew to a crescendo and the Chosen leapt into a series of back flips, coming to a stop in the centre of the stage. The palm of her outstretched hand convulsed with the effort of trying to pull something from the orb. As the magical sphere reacted, so did the basin of fire; something was trying to come through. The Councillors could just about make out a string of web, a trail of mist running from her hand to the orb. The web then shattered as Isabelle made her final pull! She lost concentration for a fraction of a second as she noticed something beyond Yespin; in the shadows of the chamber was a sixth onlooker! An uninvited and unwelcome guest. When she got to the long staff she pulled it out of the hole; this was her tool, her weapon, more powerful than a mere sword and a far greater defence than any shield, it was a part of her and had been since she received it from Freya as a child. There were a number of different staffs; an apprentice would choose her own when the time was right. Isabelle twisted herself on the spot, the melody repeating itself in time with her steps and leaps. The music told a story, though there were no sheets to read from, the unseen musicians had long since become one with their instruments, just like the Chosen was one with her glyph. She was in control of how long the music would play; indeed there was no set time for the ritual, rather it depended on how long it took her to accomplish. With a deep breath she turned and javelined the staff high into the air. Time slowed down, the men watching on as the staff fell through the air into another groove at the opposite end of the stage. The end landed perfectly in the hole and steadied itself, only wobbling ever so slightly. Her dress sank to her sides as a gust of wind blew in from behind her. A brief pause moment of peace followed as she stood completely still, head held up high and eyes closed delicately. Thin green slits shone through the gap. Was the ritual over? the men wondered to themselves.

Yespin managed to fill his lungs with air and release some words just as Isabelle burst into flames, the fire engulfing her entirely. Darlo shouted out in horror:

“VERANO!” but was held back by Taktard. The fire reared up and roared, loud and angry! A few of the Councillors looked at each other in panic; was this a horrible accident or part of the ritual? Yespin could just barely see the Chosen, apparently encased safely inside the blazing shell, standing normally, arms at her sides. His heart rate calmed as he saw that she was in no danger. He could see her mouth moving through the breaks in the flames; she was talking to someone – or something. What was she saying? The inferno gave way, opening up like a flower in the warmth of spring and then whisked itself away, disappearing into the air along with the flowing notes of the accompanying melody. Suddenly, all was quiet and still. Isabelle toppled onto her front, using her finger tips as balance, her red dress once again falling to the floor, only this time… Nothing happened. The girl looked exhausted. The Councillors sat there, stunned; even Cillian looked uncomfortable in his seat, he had not seen anything like that before. Darlo sat down, a bit embarrassed about his outburst earlier, hoping that the others wouldn’t make fun of him later over drinks. Yespin stood slowly, realising the ritual was over, and called out to Isabelle, now getting back to her feet.

“A fine display, young Isabelle,” he praised. “That was rather more than what we expected, I’m sure. I bow my head to you, Lady Verano. But where is the Celestial Soul? Why didn’t it come?” Isabelle spoke with the disembodied voice in her mind, the voice only she could hear.

“He is here. He is before you. Behold the pure fire.” A few droplets of sweat ran down her forehead, streaks of loose hair had escaped and dangled down in front of her exhausted face. Vapour evaporated off her shoulders and the pores in her neck. She took a long, deep breath of air, noticing the moth dying on the floor, its wings burning, sizzling away. She pointed to the basin, her finger glowing with golden rings, and then relaxed her arm to her side. Her eyes, still emanating green, were more interested in the moth, roasting to death on the floor. Yespin stepped down from the seating area and on to the stage, feeling a sudden rush of heat as he approached. The closer he got, the more difficult it became to walk, as if he was passing through a hot mist. Still he edged toward the basin.

“Careful!” warned Isabelle, “Be slow with your movements, Yespin. Do not touch anything or you will burn up in an instant.” She picked up the little moth in her hands, enclosing it in her palm. Yespin peered inside the smoking basin and saw charred rock and a dying fire. He glared again at Isabelle, who stood still on the stage, her back to him as she cradled the moth. Once again he inspected the basin; the dying fire was starting to find life once again, so he stepped away, a little startled by what he had seen inside. Darlo shouted impatiently:

“WHICH CELESTIAL?!” This outburst did not sit well with the Soul that made the journey to the human plain. From the basin behind Yespin a thick, yellow stream of fire arose, lighting the entire chamber brightly with pulsating, white light. A wide column, a rising stream of burning, golden flames grew large wings from its sides, closely followed by a tail of pure, intense heat and light. Once again Isabelle spoke the ethereal tongue only the Celestials could hear and understand:

“The Phoenix? You’ve always adored this form.” The men in the room knew nothing of the conversation, only the gigantic, flaming figure that had just materialised before their eyes. “Maybe something a little smaller if you don’t mind, my sunlight son?” she requested of the Demi-God. The fire left its wings behind and transformed into a large serpent, coiling around the curved wall of the chamber. Isabelle faced the Councillors and spoke aloud, this time in the common tongue: “BEHOLD… THE PURE FIRE… ARIES! CELESTIAL OF WAR!” The serpent, made entirely of a controlled inferno, slithered around the chamber, around Isabelle. “May I?” she asked, and the Celestial agreed, allowing her to touch him. The flames burned purple as she gently stroked, the radiant heat having no apparent impact on her. Aries was her friend after all; he would never harm the Chosen. The Celestial leapt up into the air and crashed down in the centre of the stage, now taking on yet another form. It now trotted in the form of a ram, with long pointed horns and a whipping, crackling tail, though once more made entirely of fire. The ram moved around slowly, staring at the council members, one at a time. The Councillors stared back, restrained by fear and confusion. Isabelle strolled over, her palms together and knelt down in front of Aries. The two exchanged whispers which the men could neither hear nor understand. Aries then galloped away from her, taking flight, turning into a fiery comet and launching itself into the heart of a tiny candle flame in the corner of the room. The Councillors had forgotten to breathe while in the presence of Aries, and managed to contain themselves until the last of the smoke cleared away. Isabelle opened her hands and the moth crawled out on to her fingers and fluttered away, fully healed, blessed with the full use of its wings once again. She watched it fly away, and then looked down to the Councillors, still struck motionless in awe. She gave them a look like nothing had happened. Her irises paled back to their normal colour, the glyph surges she had used to allow her to perform the ritual ran dying down. Her heart beat normally again after several long intakes of air. “Hmph!” She muttered, picking up her trusty staff, pulling it out from the groove in the stage and bounding down the stone stairs, wiping the sweat off her brow, flicking the droplets away.

The High Councillors had left and the doors had shut tight. Isabelle removed her hair net and let her curls fall over her shoulders. She could have sworn she had seen someone in the shadows while she was performing, so she now returned to the scene to investigate. She listened carefully for quite some time, for a noise or the shuffle of fabric, yet nothing came to her ears. Was there another presence in the room? She sensed movement in the surrounding darkness. Whatever it was it had not been infused with glyph, otherwise she would have picked up the scent. She had no reason to be afraid; she was the Chosen, a great Star Caller with immense amounts of power at her fingertips. Why then was she so reluctant to venture into the darkness? As she left the chamber, she instructed the guard outside to lock the door, and not let anyone inside.

“Yes, milady,” the guard said, bowing his head. She was joined in the hallway by her Glyph Wielders who escorted her back to her room in the Palace of Norisis.

_____

Copyright © 2017 by D.W.Gill
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including recording, photocopying or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written and signed permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
All rights reserved. Published by Taoteque Publishing.
Tha Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream – Volumes 1-3.
Written by D.W.Gill.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

_____

I hope you enjoyed the fourth excerpt, I certainly did enjoy writing and re-reading it, it is a wonderful scene in my opinion giving you the first real look of one of the majestic twelve Celestial’s. Once again, working with the artist Bojan Sucevic was a delight, he is one of the most professional people I have ever worked with and I shall do so again, we have one more concept we’d like to tackle, so stay tuned for that because it is going to be a good one. To see his artwork prior to this post, it can be found in an article of mine called ‘Edge of The Black,’ the painting is called ‘Ruins of Imrondel City,’ I hope you check that out when you have time to spare. Also, please please please check out some of Bojan’s work on Deviant Art, it is nothing short of pure brilliance, one of the reasons I chose him in fact was because he cares so deeply about his craft. All links and contact info is displayed below for your convenience.

Before I sign off this article, I believe I owe you ALL an apology. I had hoped to have a Hardback Edition available for purchase on the 07/07/2017, but then due to the work load and a house move, release day was pushed back to the 09/08/2017. After issues arising with the layout of the front cover, having revised a proof copy costing me more than a pretty cent, The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream – Volumes 1-3 will hopefully be made available for your reading pleasure, on the 03/09/2017 … If you prefer Kindles, the book has been broken up into three Volumes and can be easily downloaded digitally from The Amazon Store. If you enjoy my work and would like to see more of it, please e-mail me to show your appreciation and if you like, suggest a topic/question of your choice and I’ll consider talking about it in my next Blog post. Thank you.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

Amazon Store – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

Bojan Sucevic’s Page – http://sucevicbojan.deviantart.com/

Tree Regrowth Charity – https://cncf.com.au/catalogue/uncategorised/donate-a-native-tree/

D.W.Gill

A Letter To The Doubters

Writing this has been hard. I have gone through three drafts within the last hour trying to formulate what it is I ACTUALLY want to address. This usually does not happen, usually I have a somewhat clear idea of what I would like to write about before I sit down and start. Usually I’ve spent a good few days researching or pondering over my next subject, while at work as I pick avocado’s out from the tops of trees, while drinking tea outside my cabin or listening to some music in my office, which currently is a white van, a van falling apart that I park outside a library under a lanky tree where I receive somewhat good internet connection. Eventually, I figured out where I was going wrong with this post, the issue was not with the content but finding a good place to start, more of understanding what NOT to say rather than what TOO say. Once I figured out how to open this letter, it all just fell into place. I had a blast writing this just so you know, it was a complete joy, filled with relief and a small percent of smugness (I am Human after all). So, here is a letter addressed to all those people who doubted me, to all those who gave me a hard time, who laughed as I explained what it was I wanted to do, who held me back, made fun of and even attempted to bully me out of this choice, this letter is for you.

_____

To the haters

It hasn’t been easy pursuing this life, the life of a writer. I still struggle with whether or not this is my profession, even after a decade of writing I feel as if I can do more. There is so much out there that I do not know, things I will never be able to get a grasp of no matter how hard I try, no matter how much time I sink in to whatever it may be, there will always be something else to experience, and I have no shame in admitting this, I will never be the best, the idea I guess is to try your hand is as much as possible and just see what happens. What I have accomplished has its flaws but I can at least make a feeble attempt to try and fail knowing I gave it my all. What I have read, what I have seen some writers accomplish in my thirty years on this planet (that’s right, I hit thirty a few weeks ago) is quite simply beyond words, pardon the pun, it was intentional. From your perspective, it may look like we (writers) or I, am just sitting down in one spot procrastinating, indulging in laziness watching the world go by using my writing as an excuse to not do anything while others, people like yourself do all the work. Watching a writer work is mind boggling to most people, it is not like watching someone who works with paint in a studio for example, where you can see the change upon the canvas happen right before your eyes and transform within a single sitting, it is not like watching a footballer practise on a field or a dancer perfect a technique in the mirror … No, what we do takes time, what we do requires a skill set that you have no compression of, a virtue that most people in this busy world have lost, it’s called patience.

Patience is key when you write, without it you are not a writer, you can’t be without the ability to wait, usually this means waiting on others, but sometimes it is just to give your work that time needed to grow, and it will only grow with the work/time you put in. Of course, there are other things that one needs in order to write a book, such as endurance, not of the body but of the mind, you need to be able to write when you are not feeling it, you need to be able capture those feelings that are detrimental to our health, feel them authentically and do your best to convey them onto that bloody page. In fact (going off topic a little) a way to cure writers block IS to write instead of staring endlessly into the white, even garbage can be polished, neatened up and turned into something useful. One of the worst things I had to do when on my journey through my first book, was to carry on with the story during a failing relationship, it sounds cliché but it is true, it felt like I was moving on without her, facing the world without someone at my side. This is a very real feeling and it will test you, because writing is a relationship in-itself, a relationship that needs nurturing, needs a lot of one’s time, thought and care. It will be up to you with whether or not you provide these things. It may seem at first that this is a one-way street but I do promise you that the work you put in is rewarded ten-fold, if not more so if you love what you do, and I certainly love what I do.

You need faith. Faith is an excuse people use when there is no evidence to provide, this is much the case with writing. From a personal experience, I knew I had a story deep down inside, locked away somewhere behind a number of doors, yet all I had at the time was my ability to voice such ideas, to describe such places and detail instances, usually this was a clash between a protagonist and an antagonist. However, no matter how well I could describe these images and feelings in my head, this is indeed a low form of evidence in the eyes of many and comes across as just cheap talk, especially when the person you’re talking to begins to yawn or check their watch or worse insults your intelligence. When this happens, I ignore the insults but know that I need to do more to engage my audience. So, faith is required, faith in yourself and in your story that you wish to build, voice and share. Should you lack this vital quality, you’ll soon stumble, you’ll soon fall and be buried over the countless obstacles that are heading your way and cemented over with your own conscience verifying that your feat is ‘impossible to achieve’ when actually all it needs is you.

You need solitude, you cannot write at a party or in the company of others, if you can, if that is how you play this game, then by all mean go nuts, you can do something I cannot, though I prefer to be alone, with candle light, tea and in the company of a cat sleeping on a radiator nearby or on a printer I never use. From an early age (7) I’ve always had a need for loneliness, often yearned for it especially when I moved to the City of Oxfordshire. The first thing I noticed upon arrival to this amazing City was the unrelenting noise from man and machine, both equally annoying and both extremely efficient at drowning out the thoughts of my story, thoughts which get me by and hold together what little sanity I have.

You need trust, trust in your ability to learn especially when it comes to the formatting and marketing stages. Often, I’ve found myself in a position where I had absolutely no idea how to do something, it can leave you feeling lost, witless and a bit hopeless. It can be daunting and make you feel more alone than usual, like being lost at sea but further adrift than you initially thought…And you’ve just put a hole in your lifeboat…And there are sharks around you…There is only one thing you can do in this situation, you must trust yourself to learn new skills and to learn them fast because even your own patience has its limits. Trust yourself to do the work and not let it linger, trust yourself to pick yourself up after being knocked down, be ready for this to happen because it will happen a great deal. You also need to trust in the fact that you may not have all the answers right away, but you know you’ll find them, eventually if you trust in your process.

There are a truck load of other abilities you need, abilities that you’ll pick up on along the way such as vision, passion, motivation. Some abilities you’ll wrestle with and have to acquire through hard work and research. There are too many to list in this letter but I feel like I’ve highlighted the main ones besides one which I will talk about toward the end, because it is the most important, but before I do that I must not forget, I need to address you, the doubters.

With such abilities needed in order to create something beautiful, on top of ALL those things I’ve listed, creators have to deal with the haters, doubters who bring with them bundles of negativity who cannot help but fling it your way. As if trying to write a consistent, complex story is hard enough we have to deal with the small percentage who try to rip us apart at any given opportunity. Not cool. There are those that lift us up, more people I have found have lifted me up rather than attempted to drag me down but oddly enough it is the enemy that has the most impact on your self-esteem. I do not know why this is; Why is it that we listen more to those who hurt us rather than those that want us to succeed? If anyone can help me answer this question, I am open to your speculations. This is where things get a little bit interesting and amusing, because if you’re reading this, if by any chance you were one of the ones who doubted me, whether you were at school, college or a university acquaintance, a literary agent or a representative of a publishing house with more money than God! Then it is with great pleasure to announce that I have written a book, the book that never should have been published according to you. It’s an epic/fantasy book which is presented in the way I want it to be presented, told in the way I want it to be told and this is only the beginning, the beginning of something which I hope will redefine what epic fantasy is. Episode One – The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream, was broken apart for those who love Kindles, I recently made my final update to them, they can be found on The Amazon Store, but also there is a remarkable Hardback Edition if you prefer to hold something physical, a book of Episode One in its entirety. To all those people who said this book, this Ancestral Odyssey could never be done, it’s impossible, that I was embarking on something that simply could not happen, that would and could never ever be published into print, I say to you, you’re wrong, you were so wrong. It is with great satisfaction that I write this letter, the feeling is uncanny. After all the doubt, the hate, the ridicule, I did it.

You know it really does something to you on a psychological level, when you spend a great portion of your life (over ten years in my case and longer in some others) pouring your energy into something, working so unbelievably hard on a project that is essentially the best you can be, the start of a path that you simply cannot falter from, something that is all you can be, a driven purpose that sees you through everything through thick and thin, gets you out of bed in the morning, gets you through that shift in a dead end job which pays like shit and is wasting your abilities. I hope you know what I mean when I say it gives you a joy that nothing can compare to, and then you’re told within a sentence long e-mail (probably automated) that it is ‘Not good enough’ or ‘We have more than enough clients’ or worse no response at all, that this is more than devastating. This is mainly directed at Literary Agents and Publishing Houses, most of you know how to do your job but you don’t know what it’s like to be a creator. Now, I am not saying that all work must be published and marketed, I am not saying that all work sent your way is worthy of more than hour of your time, I am sure you are professionals and have worked hard to get where you are today, but what comes across to us (the people submitting to you) is a complete lack of interest, a disregard of passion and an absence of even a shred of empathy. I know what you’re thinking, I know exactly what you’re thinking I do not even feel the need to spell it out, but you are the ones responsible for crushing the hopes, dreams and aspirations of thousands, people who may at the time not be good enough, and just need a push in the right direction instead of a shitty, heartless, automated e-mail saying ‘Nah.’ You are not here to offer support, I understand that you are paid to do a job and would not jeopardize your position, but in my opinion, from my experiences something has to change. I was several years into this project before I even thought about making my first submission, so upon my first rejection there was no way in hell that I was about to close my laptop and pack it in, I kept trying and trying and I did it all over again and developed a thick skin, thicker than yours no doubt, unless you know what it’s like to have invested the majority of your years into writing, but there are thousands if not millions of people who do not have a thick skin, who have not had the time to develop a layer of armour. These people could be in seriously shitty situations, a kid for example living under the roof of a broken household, a person a pay cheque away from living on the streets, someone who is at the end of their rope and their work is literally the only thing that is holding them together. Before you say anything, let me repeat, I am not saying you publish their work out of sympathy, but instead of not replying at all or sending that one lined e-mail saying ‘No, try somewhere else’ perhaps a few lines of encouragement, maybe a slight push in the right direction..ANYTHING..Is better than what you’re doing. You may be responsible for creating the next J.K Rowling (Remember her? The woman who was rejected seventeen times who is now in a position who could buy a planet, remember her?) or George R.R Martin, Jane Austin, Phillip Pullman and A.C Grayling.

The funny thing is I could be Traditionally Published by now, I could be well into my second possibly even third book, but instead I am just embarking on my second, due to the fact that I’ve spent so much time trying to convince you that what I am doing means something worthy of thirty minutes of your time. That’s right, I rejected an offer and it was in that moment when I learned that if I was going to get anywhere I would have to do it myself. I am not going to go into much detail but long story short, I was accepted and I was in that moment another being oozing happiness, but (there’s always a but) there had to be a compromise. In order to see my work on the shelf I would have to shorten the work by half which would eradicate the story and call for massive changes. I rejected the offer on the spot and tried elsewhere. After a few more months of further rejections, getting the same old tedious responses which at this point, did not feel like a thump to the delicate areas and instead bounced off of me like they were nothing, I decided not to waste my time anymore. I decided to make this happen myself.

You’d think that the story ends there, but it doesn’t, turns out that Self-Publishing is indeed harder to work through than Traditional Publishing (from what I’ve heard and read). With Traditional Publishing, you hand over your approved work to your Literary Agent, who passes it onto the appropriate Publishing House who goes ahead and edits, proofreads, spell checks, grammar checks, prints, binds, distributes and markets your work. Self-Publishers have to do all of that by themselves. I know what you’re asking; Why Self-Publish in the first place? – Simple, apart from reasons I have previously talked about, I cannot stress how hard it is to get the attention of a suit in an office, but after you hand over your work for them to handle, it no longer belongs to you, it is now a shared project. Not only are you bound by a contract but you no longer have full control over your work, you do not get to decide what content stays in, what and how much comes out, what your front cover should look like, when it is to be released and for how much and so on and so on. It can also take years to be released after the contract is signed. Sure, the work load is far less when you Traditional Publish but the trade-off is a hand over of power. Last thing I want to see is someone else who lacks originality, life experience and boldness fucking with my work, catering to the safest options for selling purposes. I know what is best for this project and the thought of me being overruled, forced to sell out and have my work misrepresented is something I will not allow. I’d rather start from square one than to see it turn into some money milking machine for a bunch of suits. I know that this is jumping the gun a little, it is unlikely my work will EVER be at such a crossroads, but just for the record, this is how I feel about it. If an offer is ever available to me, I’d rather keep my integrity than to flush it away.

In truth, to everyone who put up walls and barriers, from Literary Agencies, Publishing Houses and negative personal encounters, I thank you, for every obstacle you’ve thrown my way, for every hindrance you’ve caused I’ve overcome it time and time again. If not for you this book, this story would never have grown into what it is today, if not for you I would never have refined my techniques to create the best story it can be, and as much as I’d like to say ‘I told you so’ as much as I would like to indulge in the lowest form of childish mockery, I will not however tempting it may be, because unlike the people who drag others down, I want to lift people up, just like the people who helped me get where I am today. I’d rather see success come from each and every one of you because as I said within the back leaf of my first book, The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream, ‘People are capable of so much’ it would be a shame to see people’s individual talents go to waste. So instead of putting up barriers for you, I wish you the best, I’ll even help you overcome some hurdles if you know me personally or not, you know how to get in touch.

I’ve talked briefly about the ins and outs of publishing and how difficult it can be. I have listed off a few key abilities needed in order to be a writer from my perspective. I’ve ranted and raved about the doubters and offered a little advice here and there, but I did promise you that I’d mention what THE most important ingredient to writing is especially of this calibre, and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s love, love for your story and the characters and world that you’ve created. Love for your work at times can feel like it’s dwindling, certain to go out in the times of writers block, in the times of lack of motivation and in the times where life gets in the way. All these things will hinder the love you have but if it’s true, you’ll always find a way to get back to it, even if you have to push yourself into the page, that love will drive you forward. It did me and it’s carrying me into Episode Two. Thank you for reading

Duncan

_____

Announcement

The book is now on sale. I really hope you decide to give me a chance. You can either pick it up as a Hardback Edition on the 09/08/2017 OR you can get it on Kindle in colour, because the Hardback had to have been in black in white. Please be aware that if you decide to purchase it digitally, you can only get it piece by piece in three individual Volumes, a beginning, middle and an end. As we’re on my Kindle Editions, they have been available for a little over a year now, well the first Volume has anyway, being released in April 2016, but all the money made from digital downloads will be donated to a tree re-growth charity here in Australia. Anyone can donate, I hope that you do. From reading their site which is also linked below, $3.75 plants a tree. Please consider a purchase, if this book is not for you then please, a share to someone else who may be interested will of course be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

Charity – https://cncf.com.au/catalogue/uncategorised/donate-a-native-tree/

Kindle Edition – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

Hardback Edition – (Available 09/08/2017)

 

D.W.Gill

Alien: Covenant – Reviewed

Since the release of Alien: Covenant in May 2017, the internet has exploded with nerd talk. Questions, explanations and theories being flung around all over the place by loyal fans of the franchise, people like me who have been with it when it was just a trilogy, and those who are relatively new to these films who are half expecting fucking Predators to show up, I wish I was joking about that but sadly, there are people out there who confuse these franchises. Criticisms of all kinds, intelligent and not so intelligent are being raised, some people even pulling out their dusty old comics, novelisations, even referring to some of the mindless games we’ve seen being pumped out over the years just to make a point about that this new instalment is not a great one. People are showing this new film love and people are expressing their deep hatred toward it, just as it was like shortly after the release of the science fiction masterpiece, which is Prometheus, back in 2012, a film which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Alien has had a bad wrap for such a long time, so long in fact that a lot of people have given up with it and I do not blame them, with nothing but terrible adaptation after another it is hard to stay true, each one being more insulting than the last (Alien: Resurrection. Aliens: Colonial Marines. AvP and AvP Requiem). The Alien franchise was losing credibility, sadly falling far from grace, but that special day did finally arrive when Sir Ridley Scott announced his return to redeem the films that he started so long ago, and at that moment, everyone who loved Alien, everyone who had held onto their faith..’Came’..at the exact same time. Whether you were driving when you heard the news, walking to work, riding a bike, whizzing around on a roller coaster, relaxing in the bath, reading or cuddling a cat, it was a thunderous moment, one that we all remember as the day that we knew for sure, that we were going to see a good Alien movie returning to the big screen. Before you throw any abuse my way or turn off from what I am about to say because of my earlier statement about Prometheus being a masterpiece, let me just say that the movie is far from perfect, containing a few odd decisions here and there, some pretty silly moments which made me feel smarter than a biologist and a geologist combined (you know what I am talking about) and left the audiences with ‘Why?’ on their minds, which is interesting because people from the older generations remember leaving Alien thinking; ‘What?’ It is important to note that even the mighty Alien, the original that was going to be called Star Beast, was written off by critics of the time as useless upon its release, and received its fair share of scrutiny, as was Prometheus and now Alien: Covenant. Getting back to Prometheus though, overall it was a huge success doing what the best sci-fi movies do and that’s asking the big questions similar to what Star Trek does from time to time, you know the questions, the ones we’ve been asking since we formed our own independent thoughts; Where did we come from? Why are we here? And, Is there a God?…Although we may not get solid answers from this movie, I can at least appreciate what it is attempting to do by exploring some of these ideas and then throwing Xenomorph’s into the mix, a premise I like and am very interested in. Prometheus granted us the first movie of a prequel trilogy which will eventually leave off at the classic sci-fi horror we all know and cherish as Alien, made in 1979, directed by Sir Ridley Scott, one of the best directors working today, a visionary, a man who goes all out to create worlds, using as little green and blue screen as possible, building everything from scratch. Prometheus was a movie loaded with an insane amount of hype coupled with some INCREDIBLE trailers and sweet TV spots, some of the best I’ve ever seen of matter of fact. I can sit and watch one of the trailers and feel emotionally drained and satisfied by the end, they are that good, go and watch them right now, they are easily found on YouTube, I’m not kidding, go!

So much surrounded this movie before its release, what with the big human heads in giant rooms; Where would it be set? What was inside all those canisters? What is the deal with the mural on the wall that kind of looks like an Alien Queen or the Deacon alien that pops up at the end, it literally pops up before the film cuts to black; And, how the iconic Xenomorph came to be? Anyone who was a fan of the original Alien Trilogy which started over thirty years ago, continued in 1986 with James Cameron’s, Aliens (one of the greatest movies of all time) and finally ended in 1990 with David Finchers, Alien3, was now even more of a fan, the franchise being given a breath of fresh air. For those who weren’t or had never paid it much attention until now, quickly got on board and participated with all the talk and I could see why, because it just looked extraordinary with so many quotable lines just from a simple teaser trailer. As for myself, I’ve been with this franchise since I was a youngster, I saw it when I was too young and nothing, nothing has ever come close to re-creating the claustrophobic terror of Alien aboard the mining ship Nostromo or exceeded the intensity of James Cameron’s, Aliens. I’ve always been fascinated and terrified at the same time of the creature itself, designed by H.R Giger and the universe he depicted as a whole, it is indeed unsettling in a sexual, biomechanical sort of way. If you’ve seen some of the artistry in museums or in books, you cannot ignore the beautiful and yet nightmarish style it has, everything looks alive and sinister even within the somewhat empty corridors, something looks like it is lurking around in the darkness. It is obvious by now if you’ve read this far, that I have always held these movies with high renown which is one of the reasons why I felt it time to write a review about the latest release, but I am currently travelling, working from place to place, from farm to farm and do not have the luxury of a nice big TV, a sofa and most importantly, some quiet time.

For those of you who are new to this Blog, this is not the first time I’ve written about the Alien series. If you scroll back through my articles you will see a post entitled ‘Alien – Why it is so Incredible,’ forgive me for the lack of creativity in regards to the title, I know I can do better, I think I was a bit hungover at the time of writing it and just haven’t been bothered to go back and change it to something more suitable, but within that post you will see why I love this franchise, why I find it so immersive and why I feel (even post Alien: Covenant) that it is the best out there today. Feel free to challenge me on this but I do feel strongly that it is more meaningful than Michael Bay’s hollow Transformers, which took a sharp slip it never recovered from since Revenge of the Fallen, and I personally really want it to stop especially after The Last Knight which has been reviewed extremely well by Red Letter Media. The amount of money poured into such movies that deliver nothing but a brilliant firework show has become boring and uninteresting. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant is superior in every way to the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, a direct copy and paste job of A New Hope, riddled with questionable directions, further ruining the ethos of the legendary franchise, almost as terrible as it’s very own prequel trilogy. Please don’t get me started on Phantom Menace and Attack of The Clones, please don’t because the wounds still hurt and before you begin to wonder, the answer is no, I have not seen the trailer for The Last Jedi, I do not care for it anymore. Alien is just as exciting as Marvels and DC’s comic book adaptations which are at the end of the day, fun filled light hearted family films for all to enjoy without much thinking required. Alien is something else, it always was and always will be, requiring audiences to think for themselves and to encourage people to go looking for answers rather than feeding you everything you need to know. Simply put, depending on what you bring to the table will help you understand them, it has worked for me in my experience and continues to do so. So, check out that earlier Blog when you’ve got time and please tell me what you think about it. There is an article prior to that one, called ‘Why I am done with Star Wars’ explaining as to why I will not be following the Star War movies from now on, and have decided to just stick with the original trilogy, which I do still love and admire, The Empire Strikes Back being THE best of the three in my opinion. Also, just so you know this will be my first ever movie review, doing something a little different to what I usually do. Understand that this Blog has been geared up to offer people who are interested, a behind the scenes look into my own projects, which I will touch upon briefly after I rip apart this movie. I have an up and coming post which I am seriously looking forward to, so if you like fantasy epics taken to a whole new level, be sure to check back soon and see what I have in store.

In this review, I will be mainly talking about Alien: Covenant, but I will veer off here and there when needs be to talk about the others, so SPOILER warning if you haven’t seen them already. I suggest before reading that you watch Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, Alien, Aliens and Alien3. If you can, play Alien: Isolation, the first-person survival horror game for PS4, PC and the XboxOne. It is well worth a play through, best enjoyed sitting in a dark room, with headphones in and phone off, as you take control of Amanda Ripley, who is searching for her long, lost mother, the famous Ellen Ripley. By no means is this a poor game like a lot of the others are before it which focuses its gameplay on action elements, it is genuinely scary, challenging and an extremely detailed experience, beautifully capturing the universe of the original Alien film, providing you with almost everything you will come to expect when faced with the perfect organism, as it stalks you throughout the wrecked Sevastapol Station, “Your home away from home.” I’ll leave a link to the launch trailer below as with a trailer from Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Once you have indulged in these movies and played the game, come back and check out this review, only then will we be on the same page and less confusion will entail.

As I said earlier I’ve seen a lot of lovers and a lot of haters circling this movie like hungry sharks and a lot of people who are just floating around in the middle (like jelly fish) just asking questions while scratching their heads without actually looking closer, but don’t worry, I’m here to answer some of the most meaningful questions this movie has to offer. Share with me your own opinions and theories as to where this is all going and I hope you enjoy what I have to say, if not, just tell me to go fuck myself, I’ll probably laugh then get a little bit sad. Hopefully I’ll be able to cover most of if not all the topics, at the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinion, my goal here is to just present an angle of approach that you’ve maybe not thought of before, maybe I can convert a few haters and perhaps even get the lovers to love it even more. Whether you agree or disagree with me by the end of this review, that is fine. I’ve only watched the movie once, bear that in mind, I usually do not judge a movie fully until I see it’s DvD/Blu-Ray release where at times extra footage is included, so enough bullshit…LET’S GET THIS SORTED!

_____

_Positives_

-To get this started let’s cover what I thought was great about this movie. I think the fact that Sir Ridley Scott directed it, is overall a good thing, we’ve seen what other directors have done to this franchise and let’s be honest, besides James Cameron and David Fincher (yes, I liked Alien3, I will get into that later), they have ruined some of the key aspects of Alien and spoiled what it had originally going for it. So Ridley, I feel is still the best choice to steer these movies and I very much hope that he directs Alien: Awakening, rumoured to be the third and likely the final movie we get before it links up to our beloved original Alien. If asked; Who else would be a good choice to direct an Alien film, I’d either go for James Cameron or Neill Blomkamp. Niell was in line to do an Alien5 movie, carrying on after Aliens and ignoring Alien3 and Alien Resurrection.

-Like with Prometheus this movie is very symbolic, from the nail hanging from Daniel’s neck which represents suffering, to the themes of ‘In order to create one must first destroy,’ sacrificial rituals, transformation, quoting a poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelly, about Ozymandius the Egyptian Pharaoh, King of Kings. David even quotes Milton, a famous line from Paradise Lost feeding in a clue to the structure of these movies, ‘Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.’ Originally the film was going to be called Paradise Lost, but because they wanted to market this film as a real Alien movie, in fear of the backlash 20th Century Fox received after Prometheus, it was changed to Alien: Covenant. Personally, I prefer the title Paradise Lost, but the latter is still just as good, especially when the movie ended. Even the title ‘Covenant,’ refers to the Old Testament of the Bible, where God made agreements with Humanity, specifically Noah, Abraham, and Moses, contracts where he requires certain conducts from us, his fallen creations. I repeat, this movie is loaded, LOADED with references coming from a historical and biblical nature, even the famous systems appearing in Prometheus and Alien, LV-426 and LV-223, are actually Bible passages that tie in nicely with the essence of Alien. I suggest you check the passages out when you have time, they are seriously scary reads but intriguing none the less. I am not a religious man in any sense, in fact I am a head strong Atheist, but even I find The Bible interesting as a piece of literature, containing everything from beautiful scriptures to nightmarish texts and all the grey areas in between. Elizabeth Shaw’s character for example played by the astounding Noomi Repace in Prometheus, is baron, unable to bear children/create life, this gives food for thought about the whole virgin Mary, Mary being impregnated by God/David, leading to Shaw somewhat being the mother of the Xenomorphs. The ideas of an Engineer visiting us 2000 years ago could be where we got the whole Jesus mythos from, remember we do not have the original copy of The Bible, so it very well could (however unlikely) describe Jesus as being an eight-foot tall albino Humanoid, which we eventually killed, pissing off the Engineer race, deeming us worthy of destruction. That is a very brief over-view of why the Engineers want to do destroy us after creating us, because we’re barbaric, ruthless and fallen creations in their eyes. Religious theme is prevalent throughout this series, both its prequels and its sequels and is ingrained into Alien: Covenant as well, which I think gives the movie weight, depth, is thought provoking and pretty damn cool at the same time, bringing to the screen a holy and disturbing edge. Some people are not bothered with this aspect of the film and I can understand why, you do have to look a little deeper to find and understand these themes and although they add more to the story, they do not exactly encroach on your overall enjoyment, they are just something else to consider and I love it when movie makers do this. With that being said, some of my favourite movies, Silence, Devil’s Advocate, Hacksaw Ridge and Constantine are very religious based.

-Another thing I think EVERYONE can agree on is the general look of the movie, whether you love it or hate it with a passion, these two prequel films cannot be denied their gorgeous good looks. Truly mesmerising, wonderfully captured from the opening shots to the close, where the Covenant ship is heading off into blackness. It looks incredible and most other movies simply pale in comparison. It is actually hard now to watch other movies that do not share the same professionalism, for Ridley has indeed raised the bar in this regard.

-It was nice to hear the late Jerry Goldsmiths theme once again, played at the beginning of the movie as the titles slowly appeared, this brought a smile to my face because his score is particularly eerie, actually listening to it now at this very moment in the dark as I write this review and even though I’ve heard it so many times before, it never fails to send chills up my spine, sometimes I get the urge to just to check behind me.

-The acting was top notch, everyone did an phenomenal job. Never once did I feel like I was watching actors, I always felt like I was watching a real crew aboard a colony ship. The only actor I felt a bit iffy about when going in was Tennessee, played by Danny McBride. Danny McBride usually is cast to play comedic roles and he does a fantastic job in each and every one he is in, my favourite being Rico in Hotrod with Andy Samberg, if you’ve not seen that movie, for the love of God what are you doing!? It is hilarious, go and watch it because it’s comic gold. Anyway, McBride surprised me in this movie, all my concerns were quickly washed away within his very first scene, he was a pleasure to watch and although he did come across as the comic relief, when tragedy hit and it hits hard, I felt for him. Michael Fassbender however stole it, he is arguably the best thing in this movie and its prequel Prometheus, playing both David and Walter, A.I constructs built by The Weyland Yutani Corporation. Walter being a newer model of David, an upgrade, possessing less Human traits revolving around their safe guarding and line of duty, while David, the android once aboard the Prometheus now fiddling with specimen’s on a desolate planet, is a curious creator, the true villain of the story and such a good villain for this franchise I believe. Here you have a never ageing, forever learning, intelligent, strong, psychotic machine that is literally playing God, having the best of both worlds of a mortal and immortal man. The concept of an A.I with Human traits that turns out to be far more dangerous than Walter ever could, who lacks said traits, is in itself an interesting idea, the more Human a machine is, the more cautious one should be, brilliant. Catherine Waterson was also very good as Daniels but oddly enough, my favourite character in this movie was none of the above, it was Faris, the pilot played by Amy Seimetz. I found myself drawn to her in every scene she was in, she was kinda funny and I genuinely was rooting for her when the intensity starts and things start exploding out of peoples backs and throats. A very good actress and I’ll keep my eyes open for her in future roles.

-The idea to have couples, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives I thought was a little different. True people have complained that they did not know who was with who, but I was able to follow who was paired with who. This idea gives the death scenes which are wonderfully gory (need I mention the back-bursting scene) a lot more weight. Whenever someone is killed off it is not just another character, it is someone’s loved one.

-I liked the creatures. This kinda goes without saying, this is a fucking Alien movie after all, the creatures are the key selling point of this franchise and they looked as always remarkable. From the eggs, the new dust spawns and Neomorphs to the facehuggers and the actual Xenomorph. You could say this goes under the category of a great looking movie, which was my third point made, but there is a difference in my opinion between shooting the environments and the way characters interact, to the beasties themselves. So, I give the aliens a mighty thumbs up, when the Neomorph stares at one of the female characters for an uncomfortably long amount of time before deciding to literally bite her head off. The bit where Daniels and Tennessee are in the engineering room and the Xenomorph takes a little while to walk in on two feet standing upright, in a similar way to how a Human would. The more Human it behaved, the scarier it became just like in Alien 1979. The first alien kill made, where it leaps from the ceiling onto an unsuspecting guy made me sit upright in my seat, showing off the sheer power of the Xenomorph, tearing into him like he wasn’t even there, like his strength meant absolutely nothing, these Xeno’s are strong and can overpower, outwit and outmatch anything it comes across.

-The ending was satisfying as it was horrifying. Walter and David being the same model of android, look identical. During the end of Act Two of the film, David and Walter fight. Walter being slightly superior, gets the upper hand on David, but loses. We do not know what happens to Walter, but it is safe to assume he is destroyed by David, because David replaces himself as Walter, tricking the survivors into thinking he is Walter, easily stealing his way aboard the landing craft which eventually returns to the Covenant ship. I doubt we will see Walter in the next instalment, perhaps we will see what happened to him on the DvD/Blu-Ray release, but David puts Tennessee and Daniels (the last two survivors) to sleep, but before Daniels is out, it is revealed that Walter is in fact David. In the opening of the movie, we see Walter checking over the Covenant ship, being sure to look after the main crew and the 2000 colonists locked in cryo-sleep, awaiting their arrival to the new planet, a planet better than earth for colonisation. David visits this area, coughs up facehugger embryo’s, places them in with Human embryo’s and seals the shelf, strolling between thousands of Human’s oblivious and powerless to do anything about what he intends to do, and after watching the movie, we get a pretty good idea as to what David has in mind with his hosts.

_Negatives_

-Now that we’ve covered the positives, let’s talk negatives, the things I did not like about Alien: Covenant. I’ll start with something I found incredibly disappointing to begin with, but as I thought about it, it kinda grew on me after the viewing and began to make a lot more sense over time. I am talking of course about James Franco’s remarkably short appearance in the film, and when I say short I mean his screen time is only a matter of seconds. When I heard about his casting to be the Captain of the ship Covenant, I could not help but call up a friend of mine (another die-hard fan of the franchise) and talk to her about James Franco appearing in an Alien movie. He is one of my favourite actors, he has proven himself time and time over that he can pull off a variety of roles, from incredibly serious and desperate (127 Hours) to hysterically silly (Pineapple Express). Similar to Danny McBride, Franco is a delightful screen presence, we all know what he brings to the table and what he is capable of and after viewing the Youtube clip called Last Summer, where Franco is given a scene before they enter cryo-sleep, I was even more pumped to see how he would deal with the dreaded Xenomorphs. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have given a performance to rival Michael Fassbender’s. He also appears in a deleted scene with Catherine Waterson where they are in their apartment talking about the log cabin they want to build on the new world, not sure why both Last Supper and this deleted apartment scene were edited out of the final reel but I do hope they will be restored within the home release. What we got in the cinema was a second of Franco in cryo-sleep opening his eyes before he burns up into a crisp, then the grieving Daniels views an old video of him later on, climbing a mountain…That is it, that is all we got from James fucking Franco! I was so annoyed. However, it works to an advantage. As I said earlier, we all know Franco, even though we never actually saw his character properly fleshed out we all love James Franco, so when we see him burn we almost instantly feel a connection, a connection that cannot be obtained if they had just cast an extra called Bob. It also allows us to feel sympathy for Daniels right off the bat, her future on this new world now is a little pointless without him, she’d be alone surrounded by people building lives together.

-I praised how this movie and the creatures looked, and although I am not going back on what I’ve said, I am going to bring up a problem we all have picked up on, and that’s the use of CGI. For those of you who do not know what CGI stands for, it means Computer Generated Imagery. The CGI was brilliant, I applaud those who must have worked tirelessly on the creature, however it took me and a lot of others out of the story at times because we all knew we were seeing something that wasn’t there. We all know the alien is not real (thank fuck), we all know that this is a sci-fi horror show, but our minds want to be tricked, we want to believe what we are watching but couldn’t quite get there BECAUSE of the over use of computer imagery. If they had just pulled the old alien costume out from Twentieth Century Fox’s attic, that I believe would have had more of an effect than a creature that did not appear on set.

-It wasn’t scary. This is one of my biggest gripes with the movie and Prometheus for that matter which knocked it down a point for me, it just wasn’t scary, not in the slightest, I slept easy that same night where with the older Alien Trilogy, each film took a week of sleep from me, Alien and Aliens being the biggest culprits. Yes, you can argue I was much younger back then, but I remember leaving the film REC and Sunshine, afterwards I remember feeling a little disturbed … The main reason as to why everyone, literally EVERYONE found this creature so terrifying, was due to the fact that you barely saw it. During Alien, Aliens and even for the most part of Alien3, you only see glimpses of the Xenomorph, it only appears in full view for short periods of time and even then the lighting is usually dark.

_____

I guess that covers it from my end, agree or disagree, those are my current thoughts, opinion will likely change after a second and third viewing, but at this moment, this is how I feel. Some of the main complaints I’ve heard and read about other to what I’ve listed above, I shall answer now.

Q.1) Why didn’t the crew of The Covenant wear helmets?

Q.2) Why did David kill off the Engineers?

Q.3) Why did David kill Elizabeth Shaw?

Q.4) What happened to the Juggernaut ship that David docked with on the planet?

Q.5) What happened to Walter?

Q.6) Why did the Xenomorph mimic David?

Q.7) Is Alien still an alien due to the fact that David created them!

These are the most common questions which keep jumping out at me. I’ll do my best to answer them. If you have any questions outside of the ones I have found, or are not satisfied, please feel free to contact me on the E-Mail provided below with the question written in the Subject bar.

A.1) The film (from what I remember) does a lot to deter the reason to use helmets. There are a few conversations in the movie where this new planet, has an atmosphere and its climate is cleaner than Earth’s. In any other film with a given conversation between two characters, I feel like people would just accept it, but seeing as this movie franchise is huge, people are more than critical toward its content, critical to the point where they seem to forget that it is just a movie here for our entertainment, it does not need to be 100% accurate all the time.  Another thing to add, is that each and every take costs money, this includes the ones that end up on the cutting room floor, due to previous problems that occurred while filming Prometheus, problems like bothering the actors, inhibiting movement and offsetting the camera, to avoid this hassle I can understand why Ridley went with the choice to scrap helmets. Although it is not the decision I would have made, I do not think Alien: Covenant loses points because he chose otherwise. Also, do you know what I find even weirder? Trailers were released months prior to its release, and we all saw the crew stepping out of the landing craft and finding wheat, no one, I repeat NO ONE as far as I could see leaving comments, were complaining about the lack of head gear, it wasn’t until after the film was released, where audiences started to lose their shit.

A.2) I’ve thought about this question a lot, and in all honesty, I do not know why David bombed them with the black substance from aboard his ship, I can only speculate. This has pissed many people off because it was one of THE main reasons why most of us went into Alien: Covenant in the first place, to learn what Humanity did or not do to make the Engineers want to destroy us. Maybe it has something to do with the creation destroying its creators, it could be linked in with the poem written by Percy, or there could be some other view point as to why he did what he did, maybe he is just a broken android, maybe Ridley is still leading it somewhere. If I were to write Alien: Covenant, I would have answered it within this instalment, but alas, I am not writing the Alien franchise…Yet.

A.3) This is a tricky one, one that I should really answer when I’ve seen the extended cut, but there has been some speculation as to whether Elizabeth Shaw had actually fully recovered from her removal operation in Prometheus (which is a freaking badass scene), and she died from her surgery during the trip from LV-223 to Paradise. There is the possibility that David murdered her to use in his experiments. I think that Elizabeth died in her sleep; Why do I think this? Because throughout the movie, David shows real Human emotion whenever Elizabeth is mentioned, he comes across as being genuinely upset by her death. There is a snippet on YouTube, where you actually see Elizabeth putting David back together, and spending time with him as they travel through space. I do not think David destroyed her, in a twisted way, he uses her body to help create the Xenomorph specimen which answer the question as to why he loves the specimen, because it is a shadow of Elizabeth Shaw, the only person to show him real kindness.

A.4) If you are confused with what the Juggernaut ship is, it is the docking station on Paradise (considering that this is the planet Paradise) that David connects with before he bombs the planet. This question was posed to me almost immediately when I left the theatre and I feel I was one of few who was able to spot the crashed Juggernaut in the distance when Covenant’s landing craft set down on the planet.

A.5) Walter…He be scrap. I mean I do not know exactly what happened because you do not see him die, the film needed to be that way for the shock reveal at the end, but it is safe to assume that he is not coming back. Even if he was still functioning; How would he get off the planet? How would he be able to find the Covenant in the vastness of space? Is he really that important to the story? Walter is gone. We may see a flashback in the next movie but I really do not see why we’ll need it.

A.6) When the Captain of the Covenant has a gun pointed at the Neomorph, it seems to be looking at David, something seems to be going on between them, like when a man stares into the eyes of a predator in the wild there is at times, more to it than just acting on instincts. Xenomorphs aren’t stupid from what we have learned throughout this franchise, it is fair to say that Neomorphs (being more animalistic than biomechanical) share the same trait, so I’d say it is curious. More likely, David is not edible, he is made from metal, wires, android fluids and artificially grown flesh, he would not register the same as a Human being so curiosity would be a fair answer to this question. A friend of mine also reminded me that dogs, horses, cats and other creatures can sometimes sense the presence of danger or when it is unwelcome, David was not coming across as threatening, he remained calm and collected, so there could have been a mutual understanding here, before the Captain wastes it. This whole scene, tells me that the creatures think, they are perhaps not just killing machines. When the Xeno is birthed from Kane in Alien 1979, have you ever wondered what would happen if the crew treated it as if it was loved, instead of pulling a knife out and screaming? Maybe, we could have seen something else, but because the Xeno was threatened, it forever saw the space truckers as a threat and persisted on killing them when we wandered in on its territory. Fast backward to Alien: Covenant, David smiles at the creature when it chest bursts, he admires it and performs a simple hand gesture that the Protomorph sees and mimics, recognising that this is its only way to establish communication. There is a part of me that wants to think that perhaps there is a glimpse of Shaw inside, but that is just me and it makes no sense, but I cannot help but wonder, because it is all genetic, are there traces of memory that have crossed over?

A.7) If it wasn’t the unanswered question of as to; Why the Engineers wanted to destroy us? that pissed you off, then this IS what down-rated movie for you. So many people are finding the term Alien, meaningless now, because it is not Alien, because David created them. David did not create the Xenomorph, I repeat, he did not create the Xenomorph, he had a hand in perfecting it, this explains its biomechanical structure inspired by H.R Giger’s work. Remember the mural in Prometheus? This suggests that Xenomorphs existed or have come around before us; How did David create them when this mural existed long before his own creation? It’s possible that they are still out there, it is possible that the black substance which is organic, leads to an eventuality, the perfect organism. Let’s look at the meaning of the word Xenomorph, one of the definitions is ‘Without its own form,’ the creature needs other hosts, it needs other genetic material to grow from, manipulate and perfect, this embodies the very meaning of the word, Alien, it still is an Alien in every sense of the word! To top it off, remember the end of Prometheus? What comes bursting out of the Engineer chest in Vickers’s life pod? Something that people are referring to as, the Deacon, an under-developed form of a Xenomorph, and all this happened without the help of David, although he did unknowingly at the time, set things in motion by spiking Charley Holloways drink with a drop of the black substance, I believe because of the mural which is key, that a species exists that resembles the Xenomorph, the Neomorph sort of portrays this species before its perfection. David is also referred to as perfectly created, it is not unreasonable to think that he desires to create something more outstanding than himself.

That answers all the most asked questions I think, I hope I’ve straightened a few things out within this review. If you are unsatisfied with what I have had to say and would like to share a thought or two, feel free to use the links provided below and I will do my best to respond asap. I suppose you would like to know why I like Alien3 now? Not a popular movie and the most disliked in the trilogy. The reasons why I like it are as follows and I will not go into the details regarding the studios interference with the director David Fincher, who was under the thumb by Twentieth Century Fox and not given 100% control which he should have been given from the start. No, the reasons why I like Alien3 is that it does what Aliens did and more as matter of fact! It introduces a new type of Xenomorph, exploring how it works from a genetic level. In Alien we were introduced to a drone, in Aliens we got to explore the hive and saw the Queen, depending on which version of Alien3 you watch it either comes from a dog or a cow. Ripley has also been impregnated during cryosleep, we see the Alien behave differently around her, it even goes as far as protecting her, providing us with one of THE coolest movie posters of all time, where the Alien’s forehead is pressed up against Ripley’s and the two jaws are readying to take her head off, but we know that it would never do that, it would never destroy its own future. We see a new set of circumstances differing vastly from the previous movies, introducing us to the prisoners, the worst of the worst people you could ever find. Funny how in Alien it was space truckers, in Aliens it was marines and in Alien3 it is convicts, none provide the Xeno with much of a challenge, as pointed out by Newt in Aliens “It won’t make any difference” she was not wrong, no matter what the Xeno is up against it always wins. Alien3 is set on a new planet, Fury 161, a planet with a lot of dead technology. As for Ripley we see a new side to her, we see her softer side with one of my favourite characters Dr Clemen’s played by Charles Dance, a man with a dark past who chooses to remain on this planet, feeling like he belongs there for what he has done. Ripley, is his glimpse into the possibility of a future beyond, but this notion is quickly destroyed when the Xenomorph drops down from the ceiling and splits his skull in two. I like how David Fincher expands of the themes of religion and he does this masterfully well, by tying the burial scene in with the birth scene of the Xenomorph, the dialogue of Dylan goes “From within each seed is the promise of a flower, a new life, a new beginning” then the dog/cow literally explodes and a new creature is born. I love this scene however brutal and combined with the music, the music that is in-keeping with the tones of the movie, really does a remarkable job of giving you the feel of holiness and un-holiness. Alien3 is also gory as fuck and it is rumoured that the gore was toned down before release, it is bloody, brutal, gritty and the sound effects really tear into you, especially when the Alien rips through throats and gnaws on bones, so good. The scene where Ripley goes looking for it in the basements, still gives me the chills, reminding me of when the Colonial Marines go into the atmosphere processor, except Ripley is alone, without weapons and impregnated. There are of course things I do not like about this movie, it is a bit funny with the pacing and the CGI has not aged very well. The biggest complaint is that Hicks and Newt had no screen time other than a flash of their remains in their cryo-tubes. As much as I love these characters it did not bothered me too much, this is how the Alien films go, they aren’t fair, they are dark, unfair and cruel, plus I was too young to understand at the time so it washes over me, leaving me with the question; “I wonder if they had lived?” and “Is Alien5 still on the cards?” The main thing that I like about Alien3 was the general atmosphere, it is in touch with what makes the creature scary and is utilised with both CGI and real costumes. These are my opinions and I could list off a fuck load more positives and negatives but at the end of the day, it ends the trilogy nicely, it does not rip off the previous two, it does new things with the material and provides more growth for the creature and Ripley before they both perish in molten rock…Spoiler alert.

Overall Verdict – Alien: Covenant is enjoyable. It will be unfair to give it a solid grade without seeing it again from the comfort of my own home, but if pushed I’ll give it a 6/10 It does not come close to the original Alien nor compares to Aliens and I feel even Alien3 comes out on top. This does not mean it is a drop in the franchise, it is worthy indeed and holds the series afloat. I look forward to the sequel, Alien Awakening, and am interested in how this ties into 1979’s Alien. There are some serisouly great scenes in here, it is visually stunning, the level of detail is sick and I still would never want to ever go toe to toe with a Xenomorph. Zombies-Fine. Mutants-Okay. Machines-Find the off switch. People-Be smart. Xenomorph-I am not playing anymore…Alien: Covenant has its positives but is dragged down with some of its writing, but above all it simply is not scary, it failed to answer some questions hanging over from Prometheus, often when something is answered two more issues pop up and are brought into question bringing in more frustration than wonder. The film does not give enough screen time to each cast member which makes them sort of expendable, where as in each Alien movie before this one, I genuinely cared for the characters and feared for their safety. The biggest issue I personally have is YOU SEE TOO MUCH OF THE CREATURE IN CGI! Less CGI, more skinny guys and gals in suits.

Well, that was my review guys, hope you enjoyed. All my contact information and details about my own project is listed below, I also included the scenes we did not get a chance to see in theatres but will hopefully be included in the extended cut. Enjoy the rest of your day.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

My Work – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

Prometheus Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34cEo0VhfGE

Alien: Covenant Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svnAD0TApb8

Elizabeth Shaw Clip – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeMVrnYNwus

Last Supper James Franco Clip – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuU5YwMx1EI

Obviously, Ridley’s work is his own, I do not own such material, I could be so lucky. Enjoy and please consider checking out my work, worked hard on this project. Thanks.

D.W.Gill

 

Edge of The Black

It has been nearly fifteen years since I started my writing journey. Come October, I would have spent the majority of my life working on building this world, creating everything therein, from the characters, the locations, the terrains, the creatures, the languages, the mythology and lore but more importantly, constructing a complex and entertaining story which encapsulates Human emotions and as many different situations and scenarios as possible, both good, bad and everything in between on a huge and small scale. Looking back when I started, I had absolutely no idea how it would grow, what it would become and what the world would look like as time went by, I was new to this game but felt compelled to start at the very bottom and work my way up, just to see what would happen, glimpsing here and there into my imagination, struggling to build, all the time asking the question; Is this worth it? The answer to that question is, yes, absolutely YES! I worked off my own experiences and what I saw around me for inspiration and help to fill the gaps. I remember a time where I did not have this story, where I did not know the characters, but even then, found myself thinking of stories, continuing other people’s visions that finished, wondering what would happen afterwards, some call this brain training of a kind but I had no idea what I was training myself for, I just kept thinking about things which had ultimately no consequence, I kept escaping, kept creating things in the black space of my mind. My world was once a bleak and baron place, it was nothing but a void I could walk around quite freely in with nothing around me in all directions. All I had there was a candle which gave minimal light, but as I wrote, as I began to record my creations and nurture them, instead of letting them go and forgetting them, things started to happen, the ideas began to set. Every time I came back to this space, I’d find something new here and there, a plant growing in the distance, a tree perhaps, some ruins of a structure nearby, a strange creature would make an appearance every so often, one that I had sketched out and designed months ago. I’d begin to feel temperatures, I’d hear water running and the wind blowing. Unfortunately, I could not be in this place all the time or as much as I wanted to, life has a way of getting in the way of what I truly want to do. I’ve been through my fair share, getting sick, working in dead end jobs, failing relationships, travelling and so on. Sometimes I’d spend large amounts of time away from this place and it would be strange returning after a long absence, but do you know what? Every time I’d come back for a lengthy visit or just a brief one, the blackness would be ever so slightly faded, the landscape would be busier, there would be a little bit more each and every time. The colours were less black and white and more embodied with vibrance. Gradually, as the years ticked by, the world began to build itself without my presence, things would just fall into place and I’d no longer need a candle to light the way, for the sun would rise and fall, the stars would shine and the inhabitants were alive. I’d be able to visit the Cities as large if not larger than our own, I’d be able to see what was in the sky above the clouds, delve into the core of the earth, swim out to the oceans and walk on the sea bed among the reefs. This place is no longer dark, this place is real for me and it is only expanding. The black is still there I cannot deny, and still dwarfs that of which I’ve built so far. Standing on the edge of the black is scary, especially as it recedes like the tides. I still have no idea what it will unveil, what is out there yet to be discovered, but the more I write, the more I uncover, and it’s always exciting.

When I review this work, and believe me I review it often, I see things that may need changing, may need altering in some way, but some things have been in my thoughts for so long that they do not need adjusting anymore, one such scene is depicted here, in this Blogs display picture. My skills at drawing and Graphic Design have served me well, I’ve designed pretty much everything at this point, going to University was worth it, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. However, there are some things I will not be able to do unless a great amount of time is spent poured into the craft, time that I simply do not have. So I set out to find myself an artist who shared the same passion and love of creation as me. I put out a job opportunity online describing what I wanted, giving a very brief overview of the project and awaited a response. Within hours of putting out the job, dozens of artists from all over the world were interested, sending me some of their best works, selling themselves as best they could, I was flattered that so many were willing to help. Some, as talented as they were did not read the job description and were simply not what I was looking for so I passed them. Others were a little more on point but were more fantastical than what I was after, and again as awesome as some of the work presented to me was, the overall tone was off, I wanted a concept artist who could capture both a realistic and fantasy element, which contained the best of both worlds. After a lot of time searching through each and every artist even talking to a few of them in the early hours, I stumbled across one in particular who appeared on screen but hours later, disappeared from the list of those interested. Luckily, I remembered a link to his page on Deviant Art (I’ll leave the link below) and I went ahead and checked it out. Almost immediately, after viewing one of his first pieces, I knew that this was my guy, not only did he have the necessary skills, but he had that sense of tone, the element of fantasy mixing it well with realism within the artwork. It was just what I was looking for, so I dropped him a message. Turns out that he was indeed interested, a big project such as mine was what he was looking for, but due to an overloaded schedule, illness and while being in the process of perfecting his craft, he had to decline. Fair enough I thought, there must be someone else out there who could do what I was looking for, but after weeks of searching and vetting others, my list was running short.

I began to go off the idea, maybe it wasn’t the right time for this work to be depicted by another artist, maybe I should be focusing more on writing Episode Two. On a whim, I messaged the artist again, hoping his schedule had loosened, hoping he would re-consider. Not expecting a reply back, at least not for quite some time, I carried on as usual, going to work every day, writing bits and pieces as often as I could, filling notebooks, saving money and visiting the black now and then. Then, out the blue, an e-mail from the artist himself, not only had he agreed to illustrate the three concepts but he sent me a better sketch of what I had originally done. Overjoyed, we got right to work, I fed him my vision and he carefully illustrated, assembled and coloured it. The final version is what you see above in the picture, and I think it is masterfully done. This brings me back to the black, what you see here is part of my world, ironically it is a picture of destruction, not hopeful creation, but we can expect two more of these by the artist named Bojan, all the way from Serbia, and this is the first concept we’ve completed. It is called ‘The Ancestral Odyssey – Ruins of Imrondel.’ For those of you who have read Episode One – The Utopian Dream, which is available on Kindle soon to be on Paperback from Amazon, this illustration depicts the opening, Chapter One – And So It Ends and appears again in Chapter Fifty One – The Precipice. Bojan has done a remarkable job with the use of light, going from a beautiful sun set, a view of majesty and descends into darkness and chaos, giving the viewer and reader a sense of how the book unfolds. The character in the corner is one of two protagonists, I will not spoil anything for I hope you are curious enough by now to learn more, to find out what happens next.

As I said, this is the first of three illustrations/concepts to come, it IS important to the first book, a close representation of the very first scene you read. I’ve yet to talk to Bojan about the second piece which will likely portray the female protagonist (Isabelle, whose voice can be heard in the teaser trailers), standing before one of the mighty Celestials in another key moment in the story. I very much look forward to seeing how this next concept is handled. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, I hope like the artwork because I most certainly do. When I settle down in one place I do plan to hang this on my wall in a fabulous frame. Please, please please visit Bojan’s page and drop him a kind message. The amount of time he puts into his work is phenomenal, one of the reasons I chose him over the rest was because of the fact he favours the worthiness of his craft over anything else, plus all creatives know that a kind word here and there, is more valuable than a bit of temporary weight in your wallet. Also, please consider a purchase of my book ‘The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream.’ At the moment it is only available on Kindle devices but a Paperback will be release soon in July, August at the very latest. Check out Bojan’s and my pages, add me on Twitter, drop me an E-mail, all links can be found below. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you very soon for an Alien: Covenant Review. Peace!

D.W.Gill’s Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

Bojan Sucevic’s Deviant Art Page – http://sucevicbojan.deviantart.com/

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

Promotional Trailers and Radio Clip – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nc_VEmC27AIz6pP51UVkQ

D.W.Gill

Colliding Minds – Excerpt Three

Before I share with you my final excerpt of Episode Two – Rise of The Black Doves, I wish to express my deepest sympathy for the families and friends who’ve lost loved ones due to the Manchester bombing a few days ago. My thoughts are with you all, what happened was a terrible, unforgivable tragedy. I hope everyone who is suffering is able to pull through over the coming weeks and months to show these terrorist groups that we will not hand them our terror, that we are stronger and more resilient than they ever will be. RIP to those who are no longer with us, you will not be forgotten.

Also, RIP Sir Roger Moore, to hear of his passing was upsetting and I’ll always remember him for his role as the legendary, 007. When I return to the UK I’ll be sure to watch a selection of his films that I’ve not seen as tribute to this fine actor.

This will be the third and final excerpt I share with you on my Blog. Although the previous two were a success and you guys and gals seemed to really enjoy them, I feel like this is enough to keep you all eager for Episode Two’s release, which has unfortunately been pushed back from a June-July launch day to an unspecified time at this point. As like with the other excerpts which I hope you check out after this one if you haven’t already, content is very likely to change over time during the writing process, but I assure you that all three excerpts will appear in the final draft. This segment has been condensed for your own enjoyment but please be aware that it has been spread over the course of a chapter in the book, mixed up among other character story lines.

Feel free to E-Mail me, tell me what you think and so fourth, follow me on Twitter and be sure to consider purchasing Episode One on Kindle from the Amazon Store. A Paperback Edition is in this works, the moment I get the final edit back from my editor it will be formatted and up for sale asap, I could not anticipate this any more than I already do, it is beyond exciting. Also, a concept artist will have a rendition of the opening scene in Episode One ready by the end of next month, maybe sooner if we’re lucky, I am looking forward to seeing his interpretation of this epic story through a painting.

Contact links will be provided below as always. I pulled the image of the Ying Yang off of Google, it does not belong to me but I cannot name drop the artist or his or her website because there is none to be found, it’s a fantastic image and works well for the context of this scene. I hope you enjoy one of my favourite moments in Episode Two – Rise of The Black Doves. Grab yourself a coffee before you immerse yourself once more, in the world of Equis.

_____

     Denzel neared the opened doors of the auditorium, before he entered he rest his board up next to the wall and placed his premade roll up in his front coat pocket to be lit and enjoyed later. Inside the light was very faint, a round portion of the roof could be lifted by the use of levers inside to manage temperatures and light, but currently this round hatch was not in use, and was shut tight. The hall sunk low, down toward a grand centre stage with thick wooden floor boards. Ringed around the stage were widening rows of seats behind conjoined work surfaces, on a usual day, these rings would be full of attendants of Gaia, to listen and to learn from well-educated lecturers and teachers. Upon this wooden stage was a black chalk board. Half of what was written upon it had been recently wiped away with a duster, but something decipherable remained written upon it, something profound. Professor Atheriax was on the stage, sitting on a tall stool behind a high rectangle table reading from a notebook. He wore black lecturing robes over a dark green expensive waist coat, his tie was purple, his shoes were polished, his appearance in general was smart and very neat, a man of the modern age. Denzel found a pair of small brass binoculars attached to a thin rod lying on one of the seats close by. These must have been left behind by a student. He looked through the lenses and read what was on the chalk board. Taking away the binoculars from his eyes, he begun the calculations in his head, dividing up the numbers, reducing their meaning into singularities until he was left with one, the answer. Denzel knocked on the door with one hand twice, putting the lenses back onto the seat. Master Professor Caleb Atheriax, swiveled around on his stool and looked up, squinting his eyes and smiled at the arrival of his guest. Denzel stood still, waiting for a further invitation. This was Caleb’s building after all, one of his workplaces, it would be rude to just stroll on in after arriving so late. “Denzel Suade! How nice of you to come. I thought you might not make it. You have a tendency to be pre-occupied with other matters, mostly work related I assume. I respect that. It’s always good to see a man caring about his occupation as much as I do, whatever it may be” said Caleb, closing the notebook, putting it onto his desk and pushing it away from himself “Please, come in, take a seat.” Denzel began to descend the stairs that split the ringed rows of seats that lead down to the hall, he did this in no hurry for a calculation were still taking place in his head. “Caleb Atheriax, as do you have a tendency to show devotion to your work? It’s an admirable feature I like to see in someone, unfortunately lacking in most people I meet” Caleb put his hands together and rest his back up on his wooden stool “I think there is a Master Professor in there somewhere, but I’ll excuse you.” Denzel sided a smile to this statement and then drew his attention to the chalk board. Caleb could see that his eyes were taking a keen interest in it “That code, written upon your board” said Denzel. “It pre-dates our origins and has its own historical life to draw on” Caleb explained, secretly thrilled that Denzel could engage with him in conversation about it. “Indeed, it predates our own origins by a significant amount of time, seven millennia I’d say was accurate. Wouldn’t you agree?” asked Denzel, hands behind his back, gradually getting nearer. Caleb agreed, dipping his head the one time. Denzel got back to studying the board “This is not a phrase, it’s what some people call a hybrid equation, more than rare” said Denzel being everything Caleb had expected “A combination of highly advanced mathematical numerals whisked in with ancient philosophy, blended with chemistry and biology all written in a language from an extinct predeceasing race, existing seven thousand years ago, seven and a half more accurately speaking. Interesting” said Denzel, studying the code as quickly as he could, it speaking to him on a level he had not encountered before, at least some of it did, worryingly, other pieces of the riddle were fuzzy, out of focus for his mind to make sense of, but they would soon be deciphered and made visible if he kept pace with his mental calculations. “If the hybrid speaks to you Denzel, I’ll have to give you a prize, a prize of the century” said Caleb. Denzel’s attention left the board and fixed itself on to Caleb’s much older, wiser face. The Professor still had all of his hair, though there were signs of greying at the roots near his temples, he looked good for his elderly age, he wasn’t skinny or ill, he could walk perfectly well with pride, jog even put on a run if he wished “Welcome to my auditorium Mr Suade, treat this as if it were your study area, during closed hours of course.” Denzel looked around the auditorium while he strolled steadily down the steps, his footsteps echoing around this rich lecturing hall. “It’s impressive, a fine work place indeed. I’m envious of your achievements and jealous of the many places you’ve visited that I have yet to” he praised genuinely, chin held up high. “As am I Mr Suade, as am I. I’ve heard about you and what you wish to accomplish, I wish you the best of luck it being such a tricky subject to fathom, one of the hardest, the human mind” said Caleb “But not impossible to unlock.” “Thank you, sir” replied Denzel. “I’ve been following your progress as best I can Denzel, but I’m a busy man as you know” Denzel nodded as he neared the stage, eyes occasionally drifting to and from the board, hiding his concern for he had not one singularity yet, but dozens and counting building upon one another “Tell me, how is the postal service coming? I hear it can get particularly hectic around this time of year” “It’s manageable, so long as everyone does their part things get done on time, but no one can help unforeseeable mishaps” Denzel answered. “I see. I had a package that was late yesterday, the contents of which were rather important to me. I felt like dropping by your establishment to make an enquiry but I never got round to it. Do not worry, I will not lodge a complaint, the package arrived safely a day afterward, no harm done” Denzel did not reply to this, he just pouted his lips and nodded “Are you pressed for time or do you have a moment to spare?” “I have a moment Caleb, but I won’t be staying long” “Care for a refreshment while we talk?” Caleb offered. “Very much so. What are you serving?” asked Denzel. Caleb invited Denzel on to the stage and lifted up a metal flask from his leather bag resting at the side of his feet “Ground coffee all the way from the tops of mountains in Pura, nearby one of your friend’s estates, The Glazed Vineyards, I only settle for the very best. I hope you do not mind, it’s quite strong and does not contain any sweetener” “Divine, I take it the same way.” Caleb popped the lid and poured a little into two cups, one for himself and one for his guest “Before I forget, you must congratulate Nielata for me next time you see her, I hear she has been granted the rank of High Councillor” Denzel could not help but look at the chalk board, he hesitated to make his response on time which threw him off and the Master Professor caught on, while handing him the cup of hot coffee. “Still trying to figure it out I see?” he asked “It’s a head scratcher I must admit” “Yes, she was named High Councillor Charity after Cillian Landris’s demise. I hope she is ready for the responsibilities that entail, we all do, for her sake” “As do I. I respect those Denzel who rise for great responsibility, to be all that they are, especially in this day and age of, uncertainty. We need good people to see us through these trying times” said Caleb, with his noticeable cultured voice, coming from an older Norkron time in history, while Denzel’s was youthful, similar to a Norkron accent yet not as proper, like he used to speak as any common Requorn but had adapted to the accent of old. After Denzel took the coffee with one hand, Master Caleb held out his hand for a proper greeting. Denzel chose not to see the friendly gesture and instead took a sip of the hot drink and sat down still in admiration of the hybrid equation. Caleb recoiled his hand and closed it, not taking it personally. He turned and sat back down onto his stool, opposing Denzel.

     Master Caleb had a sip of hot coffee, holding the warm cup close to his face with both hands, smelling the rising heat of the dark bitter aroma. Denzel sat opposite, in a laid back slouched position, one hand was deep inside his pocket the other rested around the handle of his cup. His mind, his veiled, inquisitive nature in free flow, forming three trails of thought. One trail was here, present, acting in the moment, taking note of everything the Professor said and did. Another trail was analyzing what little there was to be analyzed in the auditorium, every detail from the scuffs on the chalk board, the cracks in the table, to the clothes the Professor wore, he saw. And finally, the last trail was soaking up more and more of his focus by the minute. It was of course, attempting to find the solution to the hybrid equation. Every move Caleb made, every gesture, remark and facial emotion expressed, Denzel did more than just see it, but he sampled it, had predicted the actions that had not happened yet and dismissed it as if it were as easy and as thoughtless as breathing. He called this practice of his, the foresight waltz. All the while he had to make sure to behave casually and not get lost in his trance, should he overthink, the hesitation could last as long as a noticeable three seconds. “I’ve read your papers, thoroughly. Your studies are explained so eloquently. I have someone in my services, someone I think you may wish to talk to about publishing your work, the first step toward the success you rightly deserve” said Caleb. “Success is subjective, Professor” “Quite right. Living here can become difficult, you’ve probably noticed it during your many tours of the City. Your publication can afford you more comfortable lodgings, a view perhaps and buy you the time to try and perfect what you have built. I can make this happen, if you’d like?” polite were Caleb’s words, kind were his intentions toward Denzel, yet the young lad squinted, crunching his face. Something about what Caleb had just said, Denzel didn’t quite agree with. “Try, and perfect?” he questioned “My work can be understood by any thinking man or woman of the City, anyone who has grown up with a proper education should be able to grasp the practice and what I’ve described therein. Those who decide to read my material are advised in the earliest pages that this requires your full attention, no half-measured amount will do, not in this field of psychology” “But no one knows you’ve written a book, it is only available to a handful of people” said Caleb. “I have other works that take up much of my time, works that have been plaquing me for a troublesome amount of time, two years, eleven months and sixteen days to be precise, and I’d like to be done with it, perhaps then there will be time to see the work I’ve produced be copied and put into libraries for all to read, but for now I’m busy” said Denzel. Caleb smiled and replied “I understood your work, I enjoyed it, but until it’s been put into play, until your practices show promising results in the field, how can I or anyone else for that matter be sure that it works?” Denzel took a heavy breath “I’m undertaking the task as we speak, the field is this room, my field is here, now and everywhere Professor” Caleb’s green eyes met Denzel’s wood brown ones. Caleb looked like he wanted to correct him, but he kept his words saved for a more appropriate time “I will be the one who decides whether or not my methods work, not you or one of your…Students, under your employ. Apologies if I sound rude but I like to speak my mind.” Caleb placed his cup down on the table and said “What you plan to unravel is a bold exercise, to detect choices, reactions and possibilities before the subject is even aware of them themselves. Persons, subjects vary so much, the mind is a diverse and extreme place. I warn you, if you venture inside the heads of your enemies or friends, you may not like what you find” “Let’s stick with enemies for now” said Denzel. “You play a very dangerous game” replied Caleb. “Fortune is often the great reward when paying for it with chests of boldness” said Denzel. “It’s never been done before, this is why I believe in you Denzel, I like how you’ve ignored all your peer’s advice after your graduations, and not hesitated to dive straight into the big leagues of education, but I am left wondering with the question on the tip of my tongue; Why? What set you on this path and what it is you want to actually achieve here?” Denzel took a sip from his coffee cup and savored the taste, dark and bitter “Why don’t you say what you came here to say, Denzel Suade? You said you like to speak your mind. Please do not waste any more of my time” asked Caleb, putting his hands together, awaiting the response of his guest. Denzel stood after the calculations in his head finished their mental arithmetic’s that found him one of many singularities. This one would have to do for now because he knew his presence was becoming unwelcome and awkward. He put his back to the Professor and answered “Upon the board, I’ve noticed your hybrid equation has no ending, just a suggestion, it has no solution. No result is within sight” taking out a pouch of tobacco folded in a brown bag, he started to roll himself up a smoke “This in turn means that either we are both indulging in things we do not fully understand, our knowledge is wrong and will at some point take a drastic turn for better or more than likely, for the worse. Or, this option being far more likely must I add, the code is in fact incomplete, it being part of a much larger equation” Denzel licked the paper, sealing the roll and placed it on the table, he then moved close to the chalk board, standing before it, ready to tackle the problem with what answer he had concluded. He necked his coffee “I’m sorry, may I?” Denzel asked placing the cup down, holding out his hand. Caleb handed him the duster. Denzel erased some of the numerals and smeared out a part of an abbreviation. He carefully re-arranged the equation to how it should have been, using the chalk to fill in the gaps, tweaking a couple of the symbols. Eventually, after a brief period of reorganizing the puzzle, he stepped away, put the chalk on the rim of the board and dusted his hands off, grinning at Caleb. “There, the equation now is not a hybrid but a singular, something we are more familiar with, something we can perhaps put to good use. It has meaning and an answer. It’s easily understandable if you take note of the first few sections” Denzel used his hands to point out what he meant “Here and just here, they must coincide to level out the spikes in radical spontaneity as suffered before, another word, a far simpler word for the spikes is, chaos.” Caleb scratched his chin as he listened “The numbers helpfully direct you to the biology and by that route they lead you to the chemistry. The chemistry is then broken down into easily devised proportions, anyone with a basic knowledge should be able to figure out what this string of code means and, well there you have it, the meaning” “And what does it mean, Denzel?” Caleb knew, he just wanted to hear Denzel say it. “These components Caleb, this equation derived from the prior is a code for…Life” answered Denzel, picking up his roll and popping it in his mouth “Unlike your hybrid which has a variation of endings, endings I could only begin to calculate telling a disturbing and unsettling unfinished story, mine results in hope with the promise of life, rejuvenation and continuation. The ending is the most impressive piece, the ending among the gaps and mathematic poetry is, ingenious.” Caleb gave Denzel an applause “Well done” his thin smile lifted up on to one side of his face. The Professor pulled from his bag a very small box and arose. Coming closer to Denzel, he pulled from inside this box a collection of finely cut sticks and a square sheet of rough sandy paper, he struck the end of one of these sticks along the paper and the end of the stick lit up into a single yellow flame, Denzel leant forward, allowing Caleb to light up his roll and inhaled the smoky, smooth taste of tobacco. Caleb placed the little box on the table and distanced himself from his young guest, exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Very well done indeed Denzel” Caleb picked up his coat hanging from the back of his stool, he felt it time for him to leave “I expected nothing less from you” he said throwing his coat over his shoulders. Denzel was just getting comfortable within this man’s presence and now he wanted to leave! “I trust you will show yourself out, forgive me but I have a meeting I must attend to and I do not want to be late” said Caleb, packing up his few belongings, heading for the steps of the stage. As he placed a foot upon the first step Denzel spoke out to him “I’ve chosen my prize.” Caleb turned as did Denzel, restarting the calculations in his head. “I beg your pardon?” questioned Caleb. “Your hybrid equation spoke to me, I suspect you didn’t think it would. Not only did I see through it but I re-arranged it into something practical and useful” “You over credit yourself but, I will do as I said, name your prize” Caleb was quick to cut to the chase. “How about a little honesty, Professor? Remove the veil of lies that protects you from those who think you a friend, clear the shroud of deceit that keeps you safely away from Krondathian justice and drop the mask which shadows your creative genius, and expose to me what lies beneath, your true maniacal nature with an endless appetite for destruction” “You confuse me with someone else” said Caleb. “Then show me?” “Should I do that, Denzel Suade, I believe you’d flee. The side you see now is the only barrier preventing tragedy from befalling on you and everyone you see around you. The notion of your very existence gives me purpose, fills me with warmth of joy that there is at least one person out there, who speaks my language. What pleasure can be gained if we remove you from the field so soon?” asked Caleb. Denzel puffed out some thick smoke and stepped through it as he replied “Tease your subjects Caleb, by all means play them with your games and trickery for you’d win, each and every time. Attempt thus so with me and you’d lose. You’ve picked your battles wisely up to now, and now that you’ve stirred my curiosity like dangling string over a feline, I will attempt to unravel your devises” warned Denzel. “Ah, so the boy detective finally reveals himself at last. You are not here out of common courtesy are you? You are here out of self-gain, am I correct?” asked Caleb, stepping back upon the stage. “Correct” answered Denzel. “Well now that my mask has fallen, it’s time to remove yours. How may I be of service to you Mr Suade?” “Tell me what happened to my father? Last I heard from him he was under your instruction, I have the letter tucked away safe and memorised, its dated two years, eleven months and sixteen days ago” Denzel demanded, taking the roll up out of his mouth after a brief drag. “Like father like son, always asking one too many questions and, venturing into domains you really shouldn’t go. Your father is dead Mr Suade. Do as we all must do and accept that our guardians will die.” “I accept the fact that all guardians die, what I do not accept however is when they are taken before their time. As have many others been lost under your employ, their deaths written off as accidents or unforeseeable incidents, brave sacrifices all for the pursuit of a great cause” “A cause, which will lift our race above any other” “People dyeing is a tragedy Caleb, people dying for a cause they are unaware of is a disgrace. The natural order has been cheated, if what you say is true and my father was slain by yourself or one of your cronies, I will go looking for the evidences, will follow your bread crumb trail all around the world if I have to, and present the evidences I find to the Night Guard head officer in the City, Lance I believe is his name, Fredrick Lance or perhaps I’ll raise a discussion with General Lethaniel Presian himself, he has a knack for slicing up troublemakers, wouldn’t you agree? Of course, you could save me the trouble, make it easy for yourself, and tell me what events occurred and where he is? Should you tell me, I will do you the honour and postpone the chase. Choose wisely, Professor, because whether you like it or not, your days of freedom, your puppets of New Xiondel, will not remain yours for long” said Denzel, repositioning the roll in his mouth. There was a pause between them. Caleb realised that he had long lost Denzel as a potential Student and work partner. Both knew where they stood, the line between them was clear and permanent. “You think that I have not been challenged before, that I have worked without resistance? You disappoint me Denzel with your fragile hollow threats and lose sight of the bigger picture, a picture that ascends far beyond anything you can comprehend. I know this because you failed to see the hybrid for what it is” Denzel did not respond, he held on to a grim expression as Caleb continued “You remind me of your father, you have his strength. He died tragically, keeled over after inhaling highly toxic spoors from the Seizurelock Plant. You are familiar with this particular organism and how it feeds, I assume? We left him where he fell to sleep peacefully within the cove” Denzel could not know if Caleb was speaking the truth but he did know about the Seizurelock Plants, one of the deadliest plants in Equis, getting too close to this plants scent can induce a coma, falling into a flower bed results in death, a very slow death while the plants ingest you through the soil from which they grow, draining all nutrients that reside inside a body. Denzel’s eyes filled and his jaw tightened, he avoided Caleb’s face and looked back at the equation on the chalk board “Feel free to report me to Presian, I can speak a word and he is easily misdirected, like a loyal dog I speak to him as would I be if on his level, it’s humiliating for someone like me. As for the Night Guard Officer, just be aware that it’s thanks to me that they act as our security force at night, they keep us safe from the unlawful, safe from those who want what you have, they watch over the innocent and…The sick, as they sleep in their beds. You have your mother’s eyes, did you know?” Denzel froze, twisted his head and glared at Caleb’s grinning face “Am I right in thinking this will be our last meeting Mr Suade?” asked Caleb, succeeding in getting his warning across. “You’ve done much for this City in which I and my family are thankful for. You have powers surpassing my own and the backing of the law, you think this is enough but I bare you fair warning before you harm anyone else, from one morale Human being to another immoral man cursed with lunacy. Threaten those close to me again and I assure you with a confidence you’ve lost with the tick of time, that not your Night Guard, not those you pay in the shadows for protection or the law itself, will stop me from bringing destruction down upon you” Denzel pressed the end of the roll up on the rim of the board and took his leave, jogging up the stairway between the seats of the auditorium. “Watch yourself out there Denzel, I may need your help toward the end” Caleb called, smearing out the ending of the life equation with his left hand and chalked in what was originally in place, transforming it back into its hybrid complex.

_____

Copyright © 2017 by D.W.Gill
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including recording, photocopying or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written and signed permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
All rights reserved. Published by Taoteque Publishing.
Tha Ancestral Odyssey: Rise of The Black Doves – Volume Four. Written by D.W.Gill.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

D.W.Gill

A World In Jeopardy – Excerpt Two

It’s been a seriously busy month, what with farm work and your daily nit picky pain in the ass kinda stuff, it all builds up an up and then you realise something when you finally get a chance to pause, that you haven’t actually got anything of real substance done and still have a shed load of boring shit that still needs attending to before you can actually focus on writing new content – And that sucks, because life is seriously short, so short even that I fear I will not finish the entirety of this project before it is my turn to die, I want to have something before my time is up, something that will last longer than the cells inside that keep me ticking. Little bleak I am aware to start off this post but screw it life can be cold sometimes, deal with it because we have no choice. Truth be told I have made some few advancements with the book work, both one and two, I even made a list before I sat down to write this article just to remind myself what it is I’ve done. Once I’ve convinced you that I am not a lazy fucktoid, I’ll hit you with another segment of Episode Two – Rise of The Black Doves, a segment that I am proud of and gives you another angle on what I am going for with The Ancestral Odyssey. Epic does not do this story justice, I need a new word.

-I went over my front cover for the Paperback Edition. I gave it a new texture instead of just plain black. I cleaned up the central symbol and created a neat dreamcatcher which I used for this articles picture. Before you ask, YES, it is relevant to Episode One – The Utopian Dream, and once you read it, you should be able to see the relevance, if not then God help you my friend. Plus it looks kinda cool for the back cover of the book.

-I’ve given Episode One, Kindle Editions an update. I went through hell to format the three Volumes..TWICE! Because there was a problem involved with the set up, but if you check them out after reading this post on Amazon, you’ll see that they look far superior to their older versions, their is a slight clipping of the world map unfortunately but I literally cannot fix that problem, it looks great on Kindle devices but on the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon it is ever so slightly clipped, if anyone can e-mail me on how to sort this, I will love you forever and probably marry you if you’re part of the female race. I really spent a long time on the formatting, I cannot stress that enough, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep I couldn’t think about anything else other than getting it done, anyone who has formatted before using Word, Calibre and Kindle Previewer will understand the pain/stress and I will use the word trauma in this instance, because if you love a project as much as I love this one, you want to give it the best chance it has to thrive, so please, check it out, consider a purchase or share it with someone who you think will like this stuff, it will be greatly appreciated. I’ll leave all necessary links at the bottom of this post.

-A few months ago I got in touch with an artist I had my eye on and proposed to him a project. The project was to paint three important scenes that occur in The Utopian Dream. I would describe them and even then sketch them myself if needs be, and he would either agree or disagree to do the work. He declined. Among analysing hundreds of other artists from all over the world, none of them (as talented as they were) had the particular style I was looking for, not like the artist I had asked initially from Serbia. So, I messaged him again, just to see if he would re-consider…Yesterday, out of the blue, he sent me a sketch, a first draft of the first scene I described and it looked..Incredible. After re-establishing contact, after a quick back and fourth, he is on board with the project. Soon I’ll be able to show you visual imagery from a professional artist depicting three scenes in Episode One, and I could not be anymore excited about this.

-This last note is a little detail, but worth mentioning. During this last month, I have filled a notebook to the brim of ideas for future instalments and some of them will take this story to a level not even I thought it was capable of and it scares me to think about what else it can do or go, its crazy. I wrote about the importance of carrying a notebook around with you at all times if you are an aspiring or a full time writer. Check out my post ‘The Notebook’ for an interesting read, I think it was my second post on WordPress.

Okay, I think that brings us up to date, thank you for reading up to this point. Now, here is another segment of Episode Two – Rise of The Black Doves that I promised, I really hope you enjoy it. I received a lot of positive feedback from my last article entitled Witch’s Awakening, a segment which reveals one of my favourite characters from Equis’s dark historical period called Mythorigin (Equis is the name of my world if you didn’t already know). Again, links to my work are all listed at the bottom, do not hesitate to share or get in touch, responses may be late because I work a fair bit and internet while travelling is scarce. Please bear in mind that this segment is scattered among others in between, there will be things you understand, some things have been covered in previous chapters, and of course this is only an unedited first draft, so go easy on me if you see any errors, there are a few spoilers that have overlapped from the first book, you’ve been warned. Thank you, and again I hope you enjoy.

RIP Chris Cornell – Love Audioslave, loved your work and will dedicate this day to listening to your songs. Thoughts are with you and your family today. You will be missed.

_____

     Lars lead Glenn out of The Oakening and through the bustling brown and grey streets of the City, loaded with rivers of citizens flowing through the sectors, looking for food and things to buy from the open markets. Glenn, attempted to make small talk as they went, Lars was almost unresponsive, he had always been a little distant recently and moodier than usual. Eventually the pair came to the familiar sight of The Firehand Yard, the base which was their home. Occasionally, the members referred to The Firehand Yard as The Yellow. The reason for this odd nick name came from a few sources, one being The Firehand uniform and armour, it was stripped or patched with pale yellow dyes. The second being that their insignia of two, crossed long barrel rifles in front of a simplistically painted, silhouette of the orbed Requorn emblem shielded with plates, had too been tinted with flecks of a yellow shade. Glenn and Lars had engaged in light conversation along the way, to do with the operation at hand, they had talked about Gabriel, his men and what they thought they would find at the archaeological site, but neither Lars nor Glenn knew much about the details, so the discussion was short lived. Lars was a professional mechanic, a former Mek in Lysander’s pod, he specialised in the black power bombs and worked on various types of armour to withstand such blasts, he also had a good understanding of dismantling and building Human traps. Hayden was the weapon specialist, the offence of the squad. Raquel was the navigations expert, she was the one who could read the land, hunt and track down targets. Jake and Glenn were the scouts, the support, the assistance, as green as grass. Lysander was the Captain, who had shown exceptional skills in leadership, and Elone was the Sergeant, a man who seemed to inherit all the skills of both pods. As Glenn’s position required no special skills, Lars and Glenn had little to talk about, having only shared a handful of very brief conversations and had engaged in banter from time to time when in training. “I’m sorry I left The Yellow, I only just slipped out to catch up with Denzel” said Glenn. “You think you’re the only one with a life outside duty? You think you’re the only one who does not miss the company of friends and family?” asked Lars. “No” sulked Glenn. “Right, now imagine if you worked in a market, in a restaurant or on one of your farms in Pura, and an employee hit you with ‘I only just’? You wouldn’t be amused, would you?” asked Lars. “No” repeated Glenn. “Good, then we understand each other” suggested Lars. “Of course we do” said Glenn. “Oh, come on Glenn, don’t bend over backwards so easily, you have a spine, a pretty sturdy one last time I checked. Bite back once in a while, show some balls” Glenn creased “Not literally. It’s sometimes best to be bluntly honest and say ‘fuck the rules,’ it’s what the Sargent looks for in his recruits, it’s probably why there are so few of us” “Is that so?” asked Glenn. “I’m here aren’t I, besides, we’ve all done it, soldiers aren’t mindless drones, always remember that Glenn” advised Lars “Lysander does not wish to see you because you broke perimeter, the operation is still on standby, you can relax” said Lars, tapping Glenn on the back as they neared the home office of The Firehand unit. Lysander’s office was located on the top floor of a fancy wooden house close to the Armoury Warehouse, a house that didn’t look like it belonged in The Yellow and not amongst the military base for it was not geared up for defence or offence in any way, it was just a large wooden, white house in need of a lick of fresh paint. It had three grand floors, a triangular roof, a wide patio and some abandoned stables next door. The grand old manor portrayed a cultured complexion, built in a time when citizens identified themselves as Norkron and not Requorn. This was where Lysander, Elone and Gabriel lived and managed their Pods from, a place renovated for important work, as well as the occasional late night celebration. Lars left Glenn at the foot of the hill that the manor was built upon and made for the bunker, hoping no one else has snuck off in his absence. Glenn flicked up his collar and strolled up the brown path cutting through the faded grass alone. Jogging up the wooden steps, his boots treading over the floor boards of the patio, he knocked on the double doors creating an interesting beat. No answer, so he did it again accept this time he saved the rhyming beat. When no answer came, he put his hand on the door knob and he tried opening it, but couldn’t. Eventually, he used both hands but still couldn’t open it! Placing his hands on his hips, containing his frustration not wanting to look as if he were trying to break in, he tried again, gently. The brass door knob was very loose, it required a strong twist and a shoulder shove to actually get it open! Stepping inside the hinges creaked painfully and loudly as he entered. At the far end of the square hall directly in front of him, were some steps leading up to the second floor and from there the steps split into two paths in opposite directions leading to floor three. The hall was not cluttered with decoration, there were few colourful vase’s balancing upon tall wooden stems in the corners under a thin layer of dust, a few comfortable looking but tattered sofas pressed up next to the walls and candle stems scattered all over the place. There was a lonely table and a handful of chairs nearby that looked as if it had never been used before, these too were collecting dust, it had been a while since this place had seen its famous late night parties, Glenn remembered seeing adults drinking and merry making here when he was a child, where hundreds of people gathered to enjoy the foods, the drinks, the fires that people sat around. On the ground floor, to Glenn’s left was a Western door and to his right was an Eastern door, above these doors perched stone gargoyles. The demonic reptilian creature fixed above the Western passageway was suited up in heavy armour, brandishing two chunky gauntlets that could be removed and utilized if one were so inclined. The other on the Eastern side, held in his palms a hollow spherical, whirlwind of swirling stone, inside this sphere was room to light a candle or place an orb, but currently it was empty. The creature was the same as the other but this one wore draping robes instead of metal armour. What these creatures actually represented, Glenn did not know but they triggered a time in his life when he feared them, thought them looking at him as he moved across the room that no one appeared to be using, everything must have been happening upstairs in the rooms above, in the libraries and offices of the old dusty manor. Glenn ascended the steps, treading on a faded carpet running his fingers up along the cold banister. Lysander was likely on the third floor where he worked with Elone. It wasn’t long before Glenn found the Captains office, after navigating a couple of narrow corridors and ascending another set of steps lit with the sun light coming through tall windows. Knocking on the door, mimicking his favourite beat from earlier Lysander said “Enter” from within, and Glenn twisted the door handle but like with the front door, it wouldn’t open. Several seconds passed by as Glenn wiggled the handle around growing all the more frantic as time passed, having to put a shoulder to it, bursting in with Lysander’s eyes staring up at him from head to toe behind his large busy desk loaded with files, documents and reports. “There is a definite problem with the doors of this place” said Glenn, scratching the back of his head. “That I can see, no one ever enters my office anymore they just kinda fly in as you did so gracefully. You gotta lift the handle up, then push it in and twist” said Lysander. “Twist, lift, push, yeah I got it” said Glenn hesitantly. “No, you lift, push and twist” Lysander repeated. “Lift, push and twist, right” “You have a problem with old Norkron doors, Glenn?” asked Lysander. “No, not at all, guess I am just used to the traditional twist and push routine” “Took me a while to figure it out too, first night here I thought I’d locked myself in, spent a good part of an hour resisting the urge to blasting it open with my SG” said Lysander, breaking into a smile, tucking some papers away within a drawer of his desk. Glenn laughed, remembering the time he saw Lysander’s SG in action, blowing one of the thirty-footer dummies on the firing range in half “Your scatter gun would have decimated the entire door off and part of the wall if you let that thing off in here. For a secondary side-arm capable of shredding armour, I’m curious to know what your primary weapon is” said Glenn, giving a Firehand salute. “Here’s a hint Mr Straff, it’s not a long barrel rifle or a trinity pin pointer” said Lysander. “Is it a twin barrel? Or a modified standard issue model three perhaps?” asked Glenn. “It’s something still in development, I won’t be bringing it with me when our operation is given the go ahead, it still needs field testing first, but hopefully one day you’ll see it” said Lysander. “You wanted to see me Cap?” asked Glenn. “At ease soldier, at ease. Sit down” said Lysander, walking around his desk, offering Glenn a drink, but he refused. The Captain then offered his guest a tin of his rolling weed, flicking it open but again, Glenn refused this luxury. “Ah yes I forgot, you’re the weird one of the group” said Lysander, taking in a final drag on his roll up, sitting back down behind his desk, stubbing the remains out on a silver, metallic ash tray “You’re the one who does not drink, does not smoke, only eats vegetables grown from his own patch and rarely comes out to play at night, is this true?” “Most of it is, yes” said Glenn, wondering where this was going “I eat meat on occasion, better to use it rather than let it go to waste, food is important, smoking and drinking isn’t” said Glenn. “Tell me why?” asked Lysander. “I’ve never felt the need to hasten my inevitable demise. Smoking does absolutely nothing for you and drinking although a little more beneficial, wastes zeal, destroys the body, the mind and wakes you up in the morning with the feelings of regret and the need to issue sincere apologies to his friends and society as a whole” answered Glenn “I can do without those things” “Well said, and what about the other thing?” asked Lysander. “Other thing, sir?” questioned Glenn, not understanding. “You’re twenty-four, nearly twenty-five, right?” “Right” “And you’re not interested in women?” Glenn rolled his eyes and said “No, I love women. Are you torturing me because I said I wouldn’t forget about this meeting, and then forgot about it sir? Because if it is, I apologise” “No, not at all Glenn no at all, I am curious. I and all the others are curious about you and why it is you serve as a Firehand, as you may have noticed, it is a very select group of hand-picked individuals, one that Elone himself is proud of” “I did notice that, sir. I am glad to be here” “Why do you think you were chosen Glenn?” questioned Lysander. “Someone had to be I guess, I’m not sure. Perhaps on the day of final trials I scored the highest from the other Regular candidates I was grouped with. That’s how it usually works” said Glenn. The Captain, tucked some of his long hair behind his ear after pulling out from his desk a document “Yes, that is how it works, but when it comes to you, I’m sorry, but this is simply not the case. On the day of trials Glenn, you under-performed in all sections of the tests. Evaluations conducted by Sargent Elone show” and Lysander began to read from segments of the file “Physical prowess, fail. Not by much you still scored highly but not enough to make the cut. Practical capability, fail. You are not the fastest nor the best marksman not by a long shot, excuse the usage of words but this is what the tests indicate, you scored a mere fifty on the shooting range and a terrible thirty during the raid exam. You needed a ninety in both tests to pass, minimum. Psychological analysis also shows failure but this goes way under the line to the point where it gets a little curious. Emotionally unstable due to eventful childhood trauma, subject rejects all notions of authority, reliability and precision when exposed to large quantities of the common element water” Lysander could not help to take a look at Glenn, from head to toe before he continued to read the results “Glenn Straff, Regular, number twelve fourteen is not to be approved for Firehand duty and should be re-evaluated in order to continue service in the Requorn forces. Advised he be stripped of uniform and be presented other avenues of career. What can I say other than I am confused, you failed all three modules, the most important one poorly, you have an unresolved case of a traumatic experience that effects your emotions and it’s been deemed unwise for you to even hold a sword, what am I to make of this?” Lysander closed the folder and placed it on his desk, pushing it aside. Glenn remained still, not saying a word, hoping Lysander would fill in the silence, but he didn’t, he just stared at the youngster sitting opposite, as curious as a cat eyeing up some loose string. “So, so what am I doing here?” asked Glenn. “Ah, wrong again, the question is not what, but is why” Lysander pointed out. “Then, why am I here?” asked Glenn.

     Glenn held his hand gently over his mouth, seeing the sincerity in Lysander’s eyes, he could only muster one question “This makes no sense Captain, if I am under qualified how was I even approved for service?” asked Glenn. “Elone and I were the ones who looked over your results along with a hundred others that day, and we both agreed to send you back to your Regular squad, to recommence your training if you wished. It was Isaac who approved you, Isaac who gave you the go ahead even with the knowledge of your failures” replied Lysander. “He takes precedent over yourself and Elone?” “He does indeed Glenn, he does indeed” said Lysander, looking upon Glenn with suspicion. “Where do we go from here?” asked Glenn. “Now that depends on you” said Lysander, pointing at Glenn “Elone and I are under orders from our superior who wants you to stay, even if that means endangering your fellow Firehands, myself and the Sergeant, our word has been over-ruled. You however still have a choice, either you stay or you take what was recommended to you at the end of these results” and Lysander dropped a finger onto the closed document “If you choose to leave, you will be discharged from the Pod and sent back to your old squad in the Regular unit, they miss you I hear, you showed real leadership qualities, qualities which have gotten you far. You will still be able to retake the Firehand trials, but there is a very long waiting list, could be a few years before you’re considered again” Lysander could tell by Glenn’s expression, that he didn’t like the situation he was in, who would? “Or you could stay, and keep the one-eyed Isaac happy. Choice is yours” he finished, sitting back, folding his arms. “What would you recommend Captain?” asked Glenn. “I’d leave” said Lysander, without a moment’s hesitation. “And throw away years of my life, just like that” argued Glenn, clicking his fingers. “Consider the alternative, you could get everyone in the Pod and yourself killed” said Lysander, returning the room to silence for a while with a sobering thought. “Well, this is the most uncomfortable situation I’ve ever been in” said Glenn. “Then count yourself as a lucky man, but we both know that that isn’t true, you’ve seen worse” and Lysander received a dark, glooming look from Glenn, his past flashing before his eyes, the desperation, the screaming revisiting him, fuelling him with hatred “I hate to break it to you Glenn, but what happened to you in your earlier days happens every day in Equis ten-fold. As Requorns, we hope to put a stop to it, but it’s hard, there is more evil than we can handle, bad outweighs the good. Do you even know what’s out there? Do you even have the slightest idea of what is actually happening?” Glenn was shocked at the question having not expected such treatment from Lysander, like he was a rookie going into his first Firehand exam or going through the traditional tough man spiel on the first day of joining The Regulars. Glenn was new, but not that new to this business. “Of course, I know what is happening sir. Victory, over The Dovidian Covenant was never officially declared. The Covenant War is over but the catalysts are still at large. I do not know their names but certain individuals were not caught or killed after the battle at Korthak Bridge, where The Honour Guards fell and have remained elusive. So long as these dangerous men are not deemed dead, they are dangerous, influential and can potentially rise against us again” said Glenn, impressing Lysander with his answer. “Well said Glenn, but you only got it half right” said Lysander, standing up, putting both hands on his hips as he strolled around his office. “What am I missing?” asked Glenn and Lysander, sighed, rubbing his forehead. “For twenty-years we’ve been preparing for their return, for twenty years we’ve been gathering as much strength as we can to ensure we can resist and survive what’s coming, but like before, it’s not going to be enough.” “Who’s coming, Captain?” asked Glenn, looking to his right at Lysander, taking his time in refilling his glass with amber liquid. “We have only bits and pieces of information, every day we receive more and the evidence continues to build. I’d appreciate it if you kept this and what I’ am telling you, to yourself, until I deem it fit to brief the others” and Glenn nodded, agreeing to the discretion. Lysander did not return to his seat, instead he leant up next to the wall in his office “To start with there is man who leads a group called The Long Coats, not many are aware of his existence but he was working against the Norkrons during the war. It wasn’t until The Minister of Cuether, Jeffery Vou, clarified a report in collaboration with our former Dark Rogue allies, that we confirmed that this man was the one who funded The Dovidian Covenant’s campaign, threatening Vou and many others like him at the time, with destruction and brutal torture, unless they handed over their wealth. His real name no one knows, but recent whispers call him Lord. Lord is rumoured to wield a spear twelve and a half meters in length with extreme proficiency, not a man you should fuck with at any cost unless loaded up with a trinity pin pointer, and that’s not even the scariest thing about him, he has not only at his disposal a highly disciplined merciless army, but his closest ally is a reptilian human being named Caiman, someone with the strength and resilience of three men, someone with the senses of an adept predator. Caiman was raised by Lord, he is a hunter who rides upon the back of a vaurodile” “A vaurodile? You mean those ten-foot-long crocodiles that live-in swamps! How is that even possible?” asked Glenn, having to interrupt the Captain, unable to create a clear picture in his head. “We don’t know exactly Glenn, but Caiman or someone else with a profound knowledge of cross breeding species, has somehow bred out what few weaknesses they have and created a highly-evolved organism, a beast with all its strengths growing to large proportions with no weaknesses. Lords men use the bullet proof scaled armour that grows off these creatures as protection. This new type of vaurodile, can stand, run, climb and understand human commands. Its once hind legs that were short and stumpy, have been bred to be longer, built for running, able to hold twice its weight, naturally these creatures have no predators. These beasts eat more than just deer, their nature has changed, now they eat people and horses, another cannibalistic army similar to The Blood Marauders lead by Xavien, the Demon Man spotted heading into the far North, into the desert dunes of Sand where sand sharks grow massive. Apparently, Xavien is following some kind of ancient demonic ritual linking in with Driad history, one of blood lust that will awaken something called Saphuries, The Blood Angel that killed death” “Driad’s sir?” questioned Glenn, unfamiliar with this extinct race. “The Driad’s, as history goes, did not stop Saphuries, but they trapped it within a vault of rock somewhere within the North, but the damage had already been done, and the species died out years later, unable to undo what Saphuries had done” Glenn, Lysander and other historians could only speculate what had happened in the aftermath of the battle “These men are not to be underestimated nor their faith be doubted, Xavien is evidence of this demonic power which is growing, people are saying he cannot bleed, that blades cannot harm him, and he’s lost what it means to be human” Lysander sat back down, taking the bottle with him, Glenn placed his hand over his empty glass signifying that he didn’t want any of the drink, but Lysander poured the drink over his hand anyway “Real mature Captain” said Glenn. “You’ll need it because that’s just the start of it, not only are we up against brawn but we are facing an enemy with intellect and patience. Xavien is digging, and this source comes from a reliable pair who participated in the battle at Korthak Bridge. They say Xavien is pulling Chrocian Titans out of their slumber, the largest known land dwellers on the planet, for siege purposes most likely” said Lysander, sitting back down behind his desk. “Who are the pair who gave you this information?” asked Glenn. “Riagel Tyorn and Draygo Dumear, two of our best” said Lysander. “We’ve faced impossible odds before and come out on top, we can do the same here, we aren’t exactly sitting still, we are making advancements as well” said Glenn. “Ever heard of the Harphiar?” asked Lysander, as he buttoned up his loose sleeves, it didn’t look like Glenn knew much about them either and shook his head “Harpies have been sighted on the Western coasts of Klaw, at first there were pockets of them, handfuls of these scrawny, cowardly winged, bat like people who specialise in ranged assaults, but now there are hundreds of them, thousands of them nesting on the cliff faces and they are not dull witted, they are building something, something of vast proportions. More come every day Glenn, they even have established leaders in their ranks, a King and a Queen who have no love of humans. Scouts of theirs have been sighted all over the place, the last one was sighted around the backwater town of Harloth. You want some proof? This arrived two weeks ago, from Noble Tharas Yinn and Minister Yarith, the letter carries both their signatures” and Lysander let go of the letter, letting it fall down in front of Glenn “These Harphiar unlike us, are not wasteful, when they claim a kill they use the corpse. A man’s skin if stretched can provide shelter for a tent did you know? His eyes are a delicacy to eat from what I’ve heard. His bones can be chiselled into scaffolding poles for shelters and fitted as spear and arrow heads. His meat can be used to lure in fish or larger aquatic life forms such as ophidians that love the taste of us and the Harphiar are showing interest in, you know those twenty-foot long serpents that have been known to eat fully grown sharks when desperate? What the Harphiar plan to do with them I have no idea but I am aware that they are gathering schools of these serpents in pens, fuck knows why but it cannot be just a hobby of theirs. Something tells me that they do not plan to be dangling off the cliffs forever. Sooner or later, they are going to start moving inland within the hundreds of thousands and the first thing that ANYONE does before an invasion, is to scout ahead, to evaluate the situation to make sure it’s safe for the rest of them” said Lysander, taking a drink rather casually. Glenn finished reading the short letter, it was written with a fine, educated hand and the words expressed real concern. A fleeting moment of weakness tempted him to reach for his glass and join the Captain in the drinking. “We too are aerial with our Dragora Flyers, I saw one fly over a few days ago, I think it was Zard for the dragoon was armoured, equipped with an air pike” said Glenn. “Aye, but our dragora are lacking in numbers, they are extremely difficult to tame and cannot remain airborne for long periods of time nor can they ascend as high as one of these harpies. We have a hundred or so, sending a hundred dragora to engage with a hundred thousand Harpies would be a slaughter” said Lysander. “Even so, who’s to say Lord and the King of the Harpies are allied? Unless they join forces, we do have the strength to repel them” said Glenn. “Armies with common interests, never fail to find one another, great distances may separate them but word spreads fast in Equis” said Lysander, tapping his fingers on the table. “That’s not all is there?” asked Glenn, noting Lysander’s face, wiped with grim concern for the future. “Jureai is in chaos. The country never recovered after The Covenant War. The last large scale conflict we waged against them was nigh on twenty-years-ago. We killed their Chieftain Kronix at Rivers Finn, and what remained of his Salarthian Clan fled further North into their country. We ended the campaign there” “Why couldn’t we follow?” asked Glenn. “From what I’ve been told, we had not the numbers, the strength or had the equipment to pursue. Now, The Chimera Order is broken, all of its Chieftains dead and the clans are all but decimated, their way of life destroyed thanks to the savagery of the barbaric Salarthian’s who are without a Sovereign Watcher, have ripped their country apart. In terms of ingenuity and weaponry, we do outmatch them, but they never stray far from their borders, they know that they maintain the home field advantage while in Jureai, they know the land and can tolerate the heat whereas we are suited to cooler climates. They command over tens of thousands of warriors and a battalion of ptriva striders, if they decide to go to war, they could win a war should they find proper leadership” said Lysander, who leant forward and said “War is coming.” Once again, the office returned to silence, until Glenn broke it, deciding not to drink after all “This is your way of dissuading me? After all that, you expect me to just put down my rifle and let the Pod go out into the fray without me?” “I could’ve gone on but no Glenn, you misunderstand, what I am simply saying is that whether you like it or not, you WILL get your chance to fight. Picking up a sword or an LBR will be necessary when the storm hits. We will need men like you when the time comes, I’ll even send you a letter personally if you like before you and your brothers are drafted for the front lines where you will not be coming back from, but for now, while you have time, let another take your place, and go home, return to Pura where you’re from, work on the farm under the sun, find a woman and experience a life before Equis turns to shit” advised Lysander, sliding a release document, a quill and an ink pot toward him. Glenn took the pen, and stared at the dotted line. Dipping the pen into the ink pot he placed the tip of the pen onto the paper, staining it with a mark and held it there. “I can’t do it Captain” he said, and put the pen down. Lysander pulled the paper back and slid it into the document. “I’m going to keep these papers together, in case you change your mind” said Lysander, tapping them on the surface of the table. Glenn had made up his mind, there was nothing left to say, so he stood up, flicking up his collar “I just hope we can figure out what possessed Isaac to approve someone who isn’t fit for service, before it’s too late” said Lysander, who’s friendly tone had taken a dive into deep disappointment. Glenn saluted regardless, and left The Firehand Manor.

_____

Copyright © 2017 by D.W.Gill
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including recording, photocopying or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written and signed permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
All rights reserved. Published by Taoteque Publishing.
Tha Ancestral Odyssey: Rise of The Black Doves – Volume Four. Written by D.W.Gill.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01JMZ2BE6

Twitter – MegasTeque

D.W.Gill

Witch’s Awakening – Excerpt One

On 03/04/2017 I put out a poll online. The question I posed for the public was;

“Thinking about posting a snippet of Episode Two – The Ancestral Odyssey: Rise of The Black Doves – Volume Four on my Blog, for everyone to read. I have selected three scenes which I am proud of and confident in sharing, only I do not know which of the three scenes to reveal. So I’ll ask my Facebook audience to decide for me. If you wish to participate, please cast your vote, if you do not give a shit, a share to others would be super awesome. Thank you.”

The choices you had to choose from were;

(A) Witch’s awakening.

(B) A world in jeopardy.

(C) Genius versus genius.

Well, the votes came in and the snippet you guys and gals want to read is; Choice (A) Witch’s awakening. Deep down, I wanted this one to win the vote, not that I favour it over the other two snippets, I still am extremely proud of ‘A world in jeopardy’ and ‘Genius versus genius,’ but it’s because this one, hasn’t changed much since I wrote it a few years ago, while the other two have had to to accommodate the growth of other ideas and new developing story arks during re-writes. It was one of those strange instances where this Witch scene needed very little revisiting, very little adaptation, say for a few typos here and there it pretty much hit my standard on its first draft, and has withstood the test of time. This tells me that this particular idea is a strong one, it has been well nurtured and is on the right track of contributing an interesting dynamic that Episode Two would be poorer without.

Before we get to the scene, there are a few things you need to know before reading, and those things are that as ideal as I think this scene is, it may still go through subtle changes before publication hopefully this year, so do not be alarmed if what you read here is different to how it comes up in the book. This should be apparent to all but one of the great things with writing such an epic story with so many different characters, a vast world with a wide variety of landscapes, huge twists and turns throughout the plot and incredible action sequences, is that good ideas never stop developing, the story changes like it’s alive sometimes as if the author has very little say as to how characters behave once they’ve been established. This is an experiment I am playing with while writing Rise of The Black Doves, approaching it from a new angle whereas before, with The Utopian Dream, I made myself a guideline. Occasionally I’d derail and stray from this guide, taking a lot of time to progress with the material until I was sure of the undergoing change was a positive one, this was indeed time consuming and required a lot of re-writes to keep the work consistent. With Episode Two, I am almost letting it take control of me, and I am just seeing where it leads. This move can be dangerous but I’ve always subscribed to the theory that ‘If you’re not making yourself nervous (or your audience) then you aren’t doing your job,’ especially with my goal of doing something new, delivering a story that has never been done before, wanting it to be unique, original and hideously entertaining, it would be damn right stupid of me NOT to take risks. Perhaps this new approach won’t be as effective as the guideline strategy, maybe I will look back on Episode Two (Volumes Four, Five and Six) in years to come and think, ‘that was a mistake to tackle it in that way’ but I am willing to take this risk because at the end of the day, I cannot spend as long on Rise of The Black Doves as I did with The Utopian Dream. Another thing you must understand is that this snippet is part of a much larger story, there are things that have come before in previous chapters with the protagonist and with the Witch character herself, she has an extremely cruel backstory, one that is only hinted at through the descriptions in this scene, so of course, there will be things that won’t make sense to you or simply will come across as weird. The idea here is to give you a glimpse into a small piece of a single characters adventure and his encounter with one of my favourite entities.

The image does not belong to me. It was illustrated by Greg Staples and is called Hell’s Caretaker. I found it by accident while browsing the web last year for inspiration and in doing so, not only did I find this image but I found a piece of music that fits perfectly in with the tone I am attempting to create for my Witch character. Greg has done multiple drawings for the card game Magic The Gathering, if you have five minutes I suggest you check out some of his work because it is seriously inspiring stuff. Links to Greg and links to the piece of haunting music can be found after the snippet which I hope you enjoy. Feel free to contact me for suggestions on future posts, follow me on Twitter, please share with me your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article, a kind word here and there or some constructive criticism really makes what I do worth it. If any of you are curious about the other snippets I was going to share, drop me a message and I’ll be happy to let you read them. Thank you.

_____

Deacon frowned aggressively, drawing his long sword. The slide of the unsheathing echoed through the mighty stone caverns, bouncing right back into his listening ears. It had been an arduous task to get where he stood, he felt exceptionally lucky and grateful that he was still breathing and bore no wounds that would heed his advance. Having no time to reflect on the journey, he pressed on, fists tightened around his sword handle. He had faced his fear of heights, he had faced death from a winged tormentor, witnessed his companions being slaughtered one by one and now, a new trial awaited him somewhere in the maze of black and narrow winding tunnels. Blind as he trudged on, he could feel danger closing in all around him and it wasn’t in the shape of men or of monsters, but was something far worse, something that could not be fought, sharp, crude edges of rocks that could lock him inside this labyrinth of stone for eternity. Soon the realisation would occur, soon he would begin to feel authentically again, when he had made his escape and was safe inside a warm familiar room away from harms way with the adrenaline out of his system, would he reflect on the traumatic experiences, but for now, he tried to remain calm, concentrating on finishing the task and kept his focus on all of his senses. Before him was the prize he had been searching for. A strong beam of light broke in from the roof of the mountain and it shone brightly down over a tall, pinnacle of rock. Atop this high spike was one of the twelve Celestial Gifts, The Burning Blossom, encased in a jar of glass, bathing in a cone of a white sun ray. Deacon hesitated to retrieve it, his fears of heights stopped him in his tracks. Deacon had to walk his way toward it, in the gathering dark, over a narrow winding road over a sea of blackness below him that would quite easily swallow him up if he took a single wrong step. He guessed that the fall would not be quick, for he kicked a rock over the edge and never heard it land. At the end of the was a small cabin that had been built by simple hands on a round island of land just before the roots of the pinnacle embathed in light leading up to flower. He would have to pass through this small cabin in order to retrieve the Celestial Gift. Its roof was of a fine but worn, faded red fabric, spread over a small skeletal umbrella like structure. A warm yellow light and a thin mist escaped from under the frail, wooden door and through the cracks in the wall, made from many hundreds of wooden poles sewn together with rope and cloth. The materials used were of the same materials used to string together those other strange trinkets he had seen earlier in Tthenadawn and in The Honeycomb Valley. Other trinkets of similar designs had been hung up all around the curled spines of the cabin. Someone or something was inside, all the evidence pointed to one thing and one thing only, this was one of the homes that belonged to The Mountain Witch, also known as The Remedy Keeper. She was a myth of Equis, coming from a forgotten, savage time of superstition, cruelty and injustice. This was one of the reasons why Deacon moved very slowly and reluctantly over the uneasy pathway, he had no idea what he would encounter inside. As before, he focused on his footing, ignoring the blackness below which was more off putting than the heights he had dealt with before, while climbing The Mountain of Bones. Finally, he set foot on solid ground right outside the entrance of the cabin with the red roof. Deacon kept his eyes wide open and tried to keep his senses as sharp as his sword. As he drew nearer to the door, the heat emanating from the inside touched his face. He knocked first to no response, then raised his sword and pushed the door open with the tip of the blade. The heat crept out and clasped him, gradually taking away the cold on his skin, like it was enticing him inside wanting him to venture further in. Just like the comforts of a welcoming home or maybe like a predator would do to lure its prey, and then turning on its victim when completely trapped and cornered. Deacon felt unequipped, like his sword wasn’t enough for him in this circumstance, but at this moment it had to do. He thought about sheathing his sword and locking an arrow into his hunting bow, but he didn’t feel confident enough with that particular weapon to feel safe. Deacon edged his way in so, so cautiously. A fire had been lit and was crackling away at the opposite side of the room. Deacon could tell something was cooking over it, a smell of something mild, eased its way through the air, a smell of chemicals and toxins boiling into a thick froth. A very thin, pale brown curtain hung down in front of the fire place area, obscuring the light, distorting the dancing shadows. It was then when Deacon froze. He saw her! Standing there behind the transparent veil. A thin, Humanly shape hunched over draped in a filthy red gown. She hung depressingly over the fire, her hand was pressed up on the wall below a mantelpiece for balance with long gangly fingers. This had to be the witch! It had to be her. When Deacon’s loud heart found its calm rhythm again, he lowered his sword and closed the door too. Once he had a fix on to his target he could somewhat relax himself, he remained cautious and ready at any rate. Inside the cabin, were stacks of old resources, it looked more like a witch’s stock room rather than her home, with all sorts of utensils covered in layers of dust and cobwebs, more of those strange trinkets hung about the place, some of which looked like they were in the process of being constructed, others looked threatening and intimidating, pieced together with collections of bones and teeth from wild animals, needles supported the torn fabrics decorated with black inked symbols. Nothing here looked like anything of value, like the witch simply decided to set up camp here right before one of the great relics of the world. A small table rest in one of the corners, nothing was unordinary about it but what caught Deacons eye, was that atop this lonely, dusty table was a deck of neat, colourful cards with their faces down, stacked near a bundled, black, shredded robe draped over the back of a chair, it’s sleeves spilling onto some of the surface of the table, one hanging down off the armrest. Strange that everything else in the cabin was old, coated in layers of dust and yet these cards looked like they had been moved ever so recently, cleaning away a strip of dust from the table. Another chair directly opposite had been pulled out conveniently. Deacon examined the robe briefly and pulled the cards towards him. He picked up the top card not knowing what the diagrams meant and sniggered, they were old fortune telling cards by the looks of it, an item used in those ancient times for trading fortunes for silver and gold pieces, to people who simply wanted answers to the most meaningful questions, a practice that not many still held true too during this day and age. Deacon wasn’t interested in this dead practice, cold reading was not something he took so seriously.

     Dropping the card back on top of the deck, he turned to confront The Remedy Keeper, who had remained hunched sadly over the crackling fire place since he had let himself in. He cleared his throat, mustering up a simple question “Are you, her?” She didn’t move, she just watched the fire burn. Deacon saw passed her what looked like a fold in the wall, a back door that would surely lead to the pinnacle that balanced The Celestial Gift atop. He could have made a mad dash for the prize but for some reason he thought that this would be rude and disrespectful to the lady, though he brandished a sword, an effective weapon for severing limbs and puncturing flesh drawn within her vicinity, he sunk his head when realising the contradiction he made, he meant this witch no harm but had to be cautious all the while, this was her house after all. He wanted to let her know that he respected this fact, tis why he knocked, tis why he attempted communication. Another reason as to why he didn’t want to barge in fighting is that this was a living myth in the flesh, standing not seven feet away from him. To this day, she had been something the people had only read about and disregarded as a fantasy, she had been alive for a very long time and must have faced things far more resilient and aggressive than Deacon. Challenging her, crossing her, to Deacon’s mind, would be a very unwise move. Who knew how many men and women she had dispatched in her time, who knew what trials she had faced and had overcome to become the myth she is today. He stared at her with sword drawn, through the pale brown curtain, her figure being slightly distorted with the flickers of fire light. “I don’t mean you any harm” Deacon said, slightly lowering the sword in a somewhat less intimidating way “I’m here for The Burning Blossom. I do not wish to take it without your permission but, if it not be me the one to take it somewhere safe, eventually others will come, they’ll find this place and would use the relic to cause harm” silence “I do not want to fight. The people of Harloth need a change, help me deliver that change.” His words didn’t gauge a reaction but he knew she could hear him. “If you let me pass and retrieve it, know that I will deliver it into capable hands, hands of The Star Callers and not keep it for my own, or worse yet, let Minister Yarith and men like him obtain such power. If I had it my way, Yarith would be striped of power never to receive any again, and forced to answer for his crimes, but alas, my way is not law, sometimes I wish it were, for better for all.” Something was not right, she did not move a muscle. Deacon pulled away the curtain and stood directly behind the witch and touched her hunched back. He felt no flesh under the gown but something solid and rigid. It was then when he noticed her hand pressed up on the wall, it was a fake, it was made of wood. Deacon pulled the red fabric off its shoulders revealing a posed wooden manikin. A trap! He thought, but where was she? Was she here? He felt his end drew nearer, panic set into his bones causing him to shake, wobbling the blade carelessly like he had never held one before. She must be here, who else could have lit the fire? Set up the manikin and built this place to begin with. While his mind raced and his gaze flew about the room, Deacon spotted a silver cat dish in the corner, along the rim of the dish was a name stenciled onto it reading, Enix. He knelt down and could see a dribble of fresh cream was inside. He dabbed his finger into it and put the stain up close to his nose, the cream was not foul, it was cool and had just been poured. Strange, that when he had entered he did not recall seeing this dish placed here. Then something soft rubbed up next to his leg, startling him, throwing him into a stabbing pose. His foe, nothing but a healthy black cat with large, round yellow eyes, purring intensely. Deacon smiled, relieved even with the sight of this excited animal, flicking up his tail at Deacon and meowing when his Mistress, wafted into the cabin within a violent cold breeze of air from the mountain tunnels, which had gone as fast as it had come, blowing out several candles and ruffling up papers and other ornaments, chilling Deacon’s entire spine right the way down to his centre, to his core where his courage reserves were kept safe. She was indeed here! Her presence could be felt behind him. Gradually standing up from his crouched position, sliding the cat bowl further to the side of the wall where it wouldn’t be knocked over and then backing his way up toward the card table, tensing his grip on his violet sword handle. The rocking chair set at the table creak forward just the once, the wood squeaking under the gain in pressure. The robe stained with the mud found many feet under the rich grassy surface, that had been settled on the rocking chair, found physicality, filling the empty robe with weight again, forming that of a female shape inside, a witch’s shape now inhabited the black cloth coated in thick substance of tar. Pale fingers slid out from the gaps in the sleeves, her long black nails squeaking the surface of the wooden table. Deacon, swiftly turned around to face her, raising and pointing his sword aggressively in a defensive pose. The witch didn’t move, unafraid of his fighting stance. From under the hood of the robe her features remained well hidden, the lower half of her face was wrapped up in a thick, shabby scarf. As for the top, a flock of greying, curling hair had fallen over her face, hiding her reflective, glinting eyes. The black cat sat at Deacons feet, looking up at him, purring wildly happy to see him, this calmed Deacon, allowing him to re-think the situation. The witch looked as if she possessed no serious muscular strength, taking on a young man armed with a long sword would not be logical, she would surely have employed other, more subtle tactics in destroying her foes, which was why Deacon was reluctant to fully trust her non-threatening persona. Nothing happened after her appearance, Deacon was wise enough not to strike her and she found him somewhat of a curious, interesting presence. The witch tapped all her finger nails on the wooden surface of the table eight times, waiting for him to relax and to sit down with her. If the witch wanted him dead, she could have done it by now. He dropped his stance, approached her and stood before the chair opposite hers, her nails tapped the top of the table again. Showing her his sword by holding its steel in front of her hood, the tapping of her fingers ceased, hovering ever so slightly over the table in wait, obviously, she was waiting to see what would happened next. All Deacon could see from his angle, was her tangled hair fallen over her face that in parts had been horribly singed by ravenous flames. The hint of her nose looked scorched and deformed, like her skin had attempted to climb back into itself to escape the carnivores fire once held before it. Holding his sword in front of her black gaze momentarily let her know that he was armed with a formidable blade, that he knew how to use. Sheathing it he sat down in front of her, resting his hands on his hips. The tapping of the fingers, recommenced until her long, bony fingers shrivelled as if they had been submerged under water for centuries, spread themselves over the deck of cards like an octopus would to encase a crab to eat. Deacon did nothing but observe her strange behaviour, catching a glistening shine within her unblinking eye sockets. Did she have cats eyes behind her jungle of loose, burnt curly hair? “What are you doing?” Deacon asked, becoming a little more comfortable with the situation. She didn’t answer him and shuffled the cards skillfully in front of him, with a gamblers elegance. Eventually, she spread them out within one fluid, hand motion, offering a line of cards to choose. Deacon, carefully picked one out but before he had a chance to look at it, she held up one long, straight finger vertically, signifying him not to look at what the card told. She touched his hand that held the card and helped lower it gently onto the table, face down. Her grip being one not of cold not hot, but somewhere in between, like her blood were thick in her veins and like slow waves, they washed a warmth through her. After another brief shuffle, she offered him another selection like before, he chose one and lay it next to the previous card, face down. This process happened two more times and four cards facing down, were now between Deacon and the witch while Enix, roamed around on the floor between the table legs. The witch placed the deck in front of her and then rest both her hands flat on the table wide apart. She was waiting for Deacon to respond but he didn’t know what to do. He shuffled in his chair, glancing to and from the four cards and her hidden face, trying to find an inkling of what she wanted him to do. “Are you reading my fortune? What exactly do you want me to do? I don’t really believe in this stuff” he said. She moved her finger over the four cards wanting him to pick one. Her fingers tapped the hard surface. He pointed to one of the four and she slid it to one side. She gathered the remaining three and looked at them herself, holding them up to the black void in her hood, with her hair draping out of it. It appeared that she was seeing something on the cards, nodding as she read them. From what Deacon could make out she liked what she saw. He remained quiet, confused even but intrigued as to where this was going. The three cards made a separate stack. The Remedy Keeper and Deacon repeated the whole process three more times until a small deck of twelve discarded cards and four main cards had all been selected by Deacon, were laying face down in front of him, and the witch, in the centre of the table. The main deck and the twelve discarded cards had been placed to one side, they were not needed anymore to finish the experiment this witch was performing. She pushed the four cards towards Deacon using both hands, he leant forward taking a brief look at each one, getting ready to flip them over. Enix, the black cat jumped up onto the table, landing near his Mistress. She rose a hand and lowered it onto Enix’s head, stroking him gently, tickling him behind his ear. Enix liked this and sat up straight. Deacon picked up one card and turned it over. The card read Transformation, the diagram depicted a man with his arms outstretched, one side was his usual self and the other was what appeared to be his alter-ego, someone with a heroes qualities, someone with a secret he must not share. The second card once revealed, was called Rebirth, a detailed drawing of a bird breaking out from its cracked shell, though its right wing appeared to be severely damaged. The third card was named Redemption, someone dressed in shining armour, holding an item of extreme value up to someone important. Deacon reached for the fourth and final card but she held up her hand to stop him. Deacon quickly froze with his arm outstretched, his fingers dangling over the unknown card, waiting for her next reaction. Instead of him picking the card up, she instead reached over and examined it herself. Deacon sat back in his chair and waited. Her glistening eyes, like a cats eyes from behind her tangled hair, looked fixated on the card. Her gaze arose and she looked Deacon in the face for a long while. He didn’t know what to do or what was going on, as she didn’t quite know what to make of it. Enix was a well behaved cat and stayed sitting close to the witch. The Remedy Keeper raised one arm and pointed with a long finger toward the steady opening of the folded doorway, leading to The Celestial Gift. Deacon was clear for safe passage it seemed, but what did that last card read?

     Deacon stood up, a little dissatisfied with the results of the fortune telling, he had not a clue what to expect from the experience and honestly felt a little cheated due to the inconclusive end. Perhaps deep down he had been hoping for something else to happen, but at any rate, it looked like he had free passage to collect the relic of old, this he did appreciate. As he made his way towards the back door of the cabin, she lowered her arm slowly, placing it back onto the table. Deacon turned his head one last time, wanting to say so many things to this myth of the world “Did you learn anything from the cards?” His question was not answered “Why do you trust me?” Once again, she remained still and silent, her back to him. Enix was sat near her, staring at Deacon from atop the table. “I’ve seen what you do to trespassers. You don’t want to see the relic fall into the wrong hands, right?” he said, remembering the caged skeletons scattered throughout The Honeycomb Valley. “You could have probably done the same to me, but you didn’t, thank you” he said, and stepped outside on the path toward the pinnacle bathed under a cone of light. The Remedy Keeper placed her hand on Enix’s head and the folded doorway shut itself, in sync with a pulling action of her hand.

_____

Copyright © 2017 by D.W.Gill
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including recording, photocopying or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written and signed permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
All rights reserved. Published by Taoteque Publishing.
Tha Ancestral Odyssey: Rise of The Black Doves – Volume Four. Written by D.W.Gill.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

E-Mail – taotome@outlook.com

Twitter – @MegasTeque

Greg Staples Home Page – https://www.facebook.com/TheMagicArtofGregStaples/

Witch Artwork and Eerie Music (scary music and sound effects) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y6BDbkYNDE

D.W.Gill