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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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