Something a bit different. I have been super busy doing various things. I have been world building and writing for years and these have been coalescing into novel. I have made a timid start, it is no Tolkien by any means and my literary skills are meagre but I thought I would post parts every now and again. Regular reviews will be returning soon with some book reviews of Micheal Cobleys work and Pandora season 1, Wandavision, Falcon and Winter soldier
There comes a time when even the most stubborn of adversaries must admit defeat and that to avoid total annihilation a compromise must be sought. And so, it was, Khilieeah enhel ap Aaen, Lord of Life and Raaiaas the Destroyer submitted to one another and left the world in the care of the seven. Never would either return to the world they had wrought, a self-imposed punishment, a testament to the realisation that to continue would result in an inevitable doom for them both.
The words of Prophet Kinut Mornath from the Revised Scripture of Divine Creation by Bishop-Cardinal Micah. P.S. 26.
Looking down from amongst the clouds it was very easy to imagine oneself as a god. The land beneath laid out as a patchwork of patterns and colours sliced by sinewy rivers spreading like veins emptying the lifeblood of the mountains down to the vast emptiness of the oceans. These never-ending expanses of water were far from here one could not get much further from the salt-filled air. From here it seemed as if the land went on to eternity in every direction, not even the great mountain range of the Ever Highs seemed capable of containing the burgeoning life below. Several hours earlier the gently swaying grasses of the plains of Sorrowmere had given way to the undulating hills that would subtly increase in magnitude until rocks themselves would burst from the ground, the very skeleton of the planet would thrust upwards into perilous snow-capped peaks creating steep dangerous valleys and gushing mountain streams and waterfalls.
One could not help but be moved by the beauty of life when it was all laid out like this. Was this how the lesser gods viewed the world or was their perception more nebulous, more unknowable, was it even possible to comprehend what a god saw or thought? On the macro scale, the myriad of habitats was each discernible at different scales. Like a fractal, the more one focused the more you saw. The individual denizens of these habitats were mostly unobservable although even from this height the herds of Moeths tramping across the plains could be seen and the spectacle of the thousands of grazing Zeras and Grass Deer could not be hidden. They were tide-like, a black and fawn mass moving in unison an ocean life riding upon an ocean of grass.
It was not entirely unpopulated among the clouds Ghostcaps drifted on the finds, their ribbon thin tentacles trailing behind them whilst their buoyant gas-filled bladders pulling the ever upwards. How high could they go? Was there a limit? Had they travelled to the stars in the sky or the moons above. What would it be like to stand on the surface of Belith or Naramoth and look back on the world?
Only the rhythmic whirring of the rotor blades broke the idyll and reminded you that this was not some divine outlook but a man wrought machine, one designed to break the laws of nature. The rotors had taken over from the large silk sails that had been deployed for most of the journey across the plains. Barely a day ago the white and silver material had been expertly hauled in and the long spars pulled back into the hull on their brass hinges. There was a certain romanticism about drifting lazily on the winds, like a puff of cloud devoid of any manifest destiny aimlessly roaming the skies, errant and satisfied. It must have been like that in the early days of flight when Gholamese balloons, mimicking the Ghostcaps first left the earth and entered the skies. It had been a difficult time when you were more likely to plunge to your death than reach your destination, a time when adventurers really were the bold progressives that most aspired today to be but fell sadly short. Sails were used for much of any airships journey, the less time you had an engine lit on the deck below the flammable gas bag the better. However, the closer you got to the vast mountain range the more unpredictable the winds became. Gusts of air would be funnelled upward from valleys and canyons or swirl in numerous ineffable patterns. If you had a destination in mind then the wonders of steam were necessary to get you there.
The airship was most probably at its maximum altitude, much higher and the oxygen level would drop dangerously low, whole crews had been known to pass out and crash when they ventured too high. Other than the oxygen which did feel a bit thin it was the cold that was the biggest issue. The other passengers and most of the crew were cowering away below decks aside from those on watch. Thorold however appreciated the view and wanted to drink in every moment of it. Life was of be lived and if he had learned anything in the past decade it was that there was so much still to learn. He lacked the special fur-lined suits the crew used and had instead opted for wrapping two blankets from his cot around his leather duster. This failed to protect his face that had turned a rich rosy red. His nose ran almost continuously with a thin watery mucous and his eyes streamed, making visibility somewhat restricted. Despite this, it was still worth the discomfort. The biting cold was something Thorold had missed. After four years in eastern Gholamlay on the edge of the Great Dry, to feel something other than the overwhelming dry stifling heat was a treat. He wondered idly when he might experience a true northern rainstorm again another vagary of weather that had long eluded him during his time away from home. It was said that it hadn’t rained in the Great Dry for a thousand years, it was a lie but what did that matter. The desert stood as a stereotype of baking sun and barren sands the archetype of what the southern kingdom of Gholamlay appeared to be. The fact that most of the rest of Gholamlay was quite temperate in climate and served by the great river Serrin that ran the length of the continent north to south emptying into the Green Sea in a vast delta, was a minor point. Most in Hallovan liked their stereotypes especially those in his home Thorridor, Arafas was noble and brutal, Myrios, pious, Tan Salovar mysterious, Tan Larion martial and Gholamlay backward and hot. The truth mattered little. Perhaps that was the stereotype for Thorridor, arrogant and aloof. It was thoughts like these that kept Thorold occupied whilst he waited out the journey. Even now as the sunset and the moons began to glow faintly in the gloom he pondered on a great many philosophical ideas until fatigue finally overwhelmed him.
By mid-morning, after a simple breakfast below decks, Thorold had resumed his place on the deck once more. It was like a vigil for him. He stood silently on the port side just forward of where the mainsails would normally extend from. Ropes for the rigging were curled around the deck about him. It was considerably warmer now, they had descended several hundred feet in the night. The wind was still high and his rough blonde hair was thrashed about like the grass in the fields below. He had been much blonder in his youth but it had darkened considerably as he aged although now time in the beating sun had given it an almost two-tone look with blonder tips fading into the mousey brown at the roots. His skin was a rich olive tan, something that would set him apart even more from the Marchlanders than usual. His wild hair was not paired with an unruly beard, although it had been when he had travelled with the land caravan up to the airship dock at Doall Wells. He had managed to grab a quick shave in a hotel there before the airship left and so now only a few days growth spotted his cheeks and chin. He liked it that way, he felt the stubble gave him a rakish charm, something many might disagree with. Most striking, especially for a Thorridorian, were his piercing blue eyes. Most of those born and bred in the kingdom were fair-skinned, dark-haired and brown-eyed, only those north of the border, Tan Salovar, sported blue eyes like his.
Thorold couldn’t really count himself as a true Salo, although born there he had spent his entire youth in Thorridor. After his mother had died he had lived with his uncle until he had enough of him and had sent him south to be educated at the Collegium. His current destination, the innocuous little town of Skyre’s Folly was the closest place that he had ever been able to call home. The Collegium’s great Library was in Thorridors capital, Seven Spires, but he had been apprenticed to a Loremaster who came from Marchland town. Each summer break Stalle had taken him home with him to the sleepy town across the plains. Today he remembered little of his old home in Tan Salovar and cared little for the hustle and bustle of the great metropolis of Seven Spires. Skyre’s Folly was a perfect size. It was a successful town nearly fully repopulated after the depredations of the scourge and the only one in the north of Thorridor to have its own spire. Spires were something of Thorridors architectural trademark although Stalle suspected that the twisting tower in Skyres Folly predated the founding of Thorridor. The huge stone tower that stood squarely at the centre of the town at the top of the hill and it was this that Thorold searched for now. It was a beacon for all-around of the town and its welcoming walls and as soon as Thorold saw it he could relax and know that he was home regardless of what ills lay waiting for him on the ground.