Tie Dye of the Day
I’ve always found it amazing how much the music I listen to effects the mood of the story I’m writing and my character’s personalities. It’s really difficult to describe how the music makes you feel. Putting it into words is nearly impossible, but the music always seemed to be the lynch pin that pushes my creativity forward and brings me to all different emotional heights, heights that force me to run as fast as I can to find my notebook and get to work immediately. So, I thought I’d share just a few musical pieces that helped me to shape my novel, The God Machine.
First off, I’d like to explain the way I use music in my novels. The songs I use are my characters. Every time that character’s song plays, I brain goes to that character and I, in a sense, become that character. My mind will reset, and all my thoughts will go to that character, how they feel, who they are, how that song describes them perfectly. The song will put me in a mindset that helps me to see how that one person will react to certain situations. In my mind, it keeps their personalities separate because no one wants to read a book where every character is a cookie cutter of the last. That would be no fun.
So, what songs did I pick to represent my characters? Sometimes the song picks the character. For me, it happens when I’m walking along listening to my IPod. All the sudden it hits me. I gasp, and then I realize… This song is Salamander! Holy Crap!
I’ll start off with Salamander’s song. It’s “The Voice” by The Moody Blues. I also was quite fond of Steppin’ in a Slide Zone. Those two songs came to me when I was trying to write the Gauntlet of Fire scene. The great thing about fantasy writing is that you get to make things up completely, world build, but that is also the bad thing about it. I had no clue what the Gauntlet of Fire looked like until that song, The Voice, sneaked its way onto my IPod. When that song played I went from knowing absolutely nothing to absolutely everything about the Gauntlet in a matter of hours. When I heard the music, I saw Salamander get up off the ground and he was running. I could see his wand broken in half and each piece was in his hand. Like Spider Man, he flew into the air and attached himself to this terrible machine, and he had to climb up it by sinking the pointy ends of his wand into it and pulling himself up. Then I realized the machine was alive and evil and it bled acid blood, but Salamander was determined to get inside and defeat the monster. This song is so full of determination, and heart. It speaks of the future and the past and love and finding your dreams. This song is such a beautiful masterpiece, and it’s all Salamander.
Zolton’s song had been a favorite of mine when I was a teen and I hadn’t listened to it for over ten years when I found it again. It is called “The Everlasting Gaze” by The Smashing Pumpkins. It was also where I came up with the title The God Machine. This song spoke to me because when I listened to it, I heard a tale of lost love, and of a man who wanted his love to know that he was still here, still waiting for a chance to get her back, “forever waiting on the ways of your desire.” He still had his duty, yet he was still in love.
Ferret has two songs, but I say that’s okay. The first one is “The Changeling” by the Doors. You’ll know why if you read the book. The second one is “Like a Stone” by Audio Slave. Before I had to slash and burn song lyrics from my book for copyright reasons, this is one song out of many that Ferret would sing to Amanda to get her to remember him(for the sake of not giving the plot away I’m just going to say that Amanda has amnesia). There was a beautiful scene where Ferret and Amanda were on the beach and he’d been trying to get her to forget about Zolton for a century and he finally wooed her by singing this song to her. “In your house I long to be, room by room patiently. I’ll wait for you there like a stone. I’ll wait for you there alone.” Sadly, I didn’t want to get sued so I had to cut it, but that song does very well to describe Ferret’s heartache, and desperation of chasing after this woman who doesn’t remember the lifetime of love they shared, and she is now in love with another man.
Merlin’s song is really more prominent in the next book because the next book is going to be all about Merlin. His song is “Snow (Hey Oh)” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This just happens to be one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and It’s difficult to explain exactly how this became Merlin’s song. Well, here goes, I heard lyrics that were not the real lyrics to the song and it gave me the book idea. I can’t go into too much detail because it’s a storyline I’ve never seen done before, but for the sake of the song, Merlin is referred to as “The Perfect Wonder” and his love interest is the “Soul White as Snow.” The real lyrics are “SO white as snow,” but the damage is done.
Bernie’s song is “Once Upon a Time in your Wildest Dreams” by the Moody Blues, but only the intro.
As you can see, I am back from the dead! Yea! After two and a half months of migraines and last week with the Austrailian Norovirus, you can bet that I’m soooo ready to get back to my writing. Actually, today is the first time I’ve actually felt GOOD since the beginning of November. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking while I’ve been incapacitated, and I’ve decided that I would like to put The God Machine on my blog for free for all my WordPress friends. I noticed that my book is exactly 28 chapters long and tomorrow is the first day of February, so starting tomorrow, I will be presenting 28 days of The God Machine! I’ve been enjoying The Redemption of Erath by my blog friend Satis for a long time, and think he might be onto something. Also I don’t really care if I make money on my books. I just want to entertain people, so be prepared!!!! Here comes the entertainment!!! Tomorrow I will be putting up chapter 1 of The God Machine!
As I expected, November and December were bad migraine months. In the two month span, I think I might have had one week total without any pain at all, and those days were spread out.
I had been editing and eventually published my novel, The God Machine, in between migraine attacks. I have a new rule. Keep your hand away from the red publish button whilst in the middle of a month of Migraines! Thank God I didn’t sell much, cause it needed more work.
The way I’m doing it is probably not the best, but I’ve been editing a section of my book a day and republishing the better edits.
Also, I really need to rework my blurb for The God Machine. I knew for months it needed to be done because the current one looked more YA appealing than romance, but I think I have it now.
It’s really quite miraculous how these things happen. Yesterday morning, after a long night of tryptophan induced dreams, I popped up, and the first thing that popped into my head was a great first line for my TGM blurb….and then I wrote the rest of the blurb in five minutes. That brings letting things percolate to a whole new level. I hate migraines, but I love being a writer!
So I will re-re-edit The God Machine, Re-re-edit The Fall and hope to have it out by the end of January, Finish my alien series, etc….
There is no end!!!!!
Today’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School as left me feeling legless.
Are you like me and want to help the families of the victims of today’s senseless shooting rampage, but don’t know what to do? I want to give each of them a hug, and while not a religious person, I want to say a prayer on bended knee with them.
I am always shocked at how many books in the writing section are geared toward beginning writers. You can almost compare them to the amount of vampire books in the romance section (zing). This is all well and good because it seems like everyone in the world wants to write a book, and probably has already started. Very few of those everyones ever finish that book, though. Along the way those everyones have bought those “You Can Write That Novel” books, workbooks on how to become a “genius at 3 in the morning,” and books on how to divide your time between your day job and writing the great American novel.
I loved those books when I was first starting out, and they were very helpful. In fact, I still purchase the new ones when they appeal to me, but finding appeal in a book about writing is becoming more difficult the more I write and the more experienced I get. That’s why I think there should be more books devoted to the more advanced writer. I really don’t want to write one cause non-fiction is not my thing, but I would pick up an advanced writer’s book in a heartbeat. What could an advanced writer’s book offer that a beginner’s writer’s book could not? My answer is…X out the chaff! There are three rules of writing and every time anyone makes this quote I want to smash my head into the wall. I am well aware that adjectives are bad and that clichés are even worse. Showing is better than telling in most cases, and it is really an art to explain, but I don’t need to beat a dead horse.
I find myself skimming through writers books saying got it, got it, got it, don’t need this one, but what would go into a writer’s book if the basics aren’t there? Oh, there’s plenty probably. Someone just hasn’t gotten up, and decided to compile them. Maybe some day…
Well, now that I’m done ranting, I am starting my own new beginning now that I have gotten The God Machine (Available at Smashwords and Kindle) out into the world. A little bit about me, I always have something going, so my new beginning isn’t exactly a new beginning. Before I went all nuts out in left field diving over a cliff with The God Machine, I had been writing another novel called The Claiming. It’s my Sci-Rom about aliens, and I won’t go into any more detail than that.
I actually have already written a hundred or so pages of this story, and while I wrote The God Machine, The Claiming was always been in the back of my mind. I’ve been thinking and creating, still not writing down, but always thinking about the story and the characters within, but now I’m ready to get my hard hat on and start some major construction, but I have no clue where to start. The dam is full; all I have to do is open the gates, but what should I sop water on first?
Here’s a chapter for the Advanced Writer’s Book. How do you start again after you’ve stopped, gone on to another project, then came back to the original project? Here’s what I did, but I’m still in the process so I may have better advice later…
Step one: (After you’ve thoroughly congratulated yourself for finishing the first novel) Re- introduce yourself to your story and your characters.
Here is what I’m working with. I have the first three chapters written in a notebook and safely in the computer. I also have two separate notebooks full of out of date character sketches and scenes that I didn’t want to wait to write that were way beyond those first few chapters. I actually haven’t looked at this story in about nine months, but the story in my mind has progressed far beyond what I have written down. My advice to myself or anyone in this predicament is to first re-read everything and bring yourself up to speed.
Step two: Re-align and fix everything. Make it all mesh with the way you picture the story in your mind.
But, Bfly, you may say. “Aren’t you supposed to continue on with the new stuff like you’ve already fixed the stuff in the past?” I would say that (non) rule is true if you’re writing from beginning to end, but it’s hard to just pick something up and start again after months of being away. How good is your memory? Did you write that scene this way, or that way? Is there a fatal flaw in chapter one? You don’t have to re-align and fix if you don’t wanna, but I think it would be a good idea to be on the same page with past you, especially if there are huge things that are going to be different in future chapters.
Step three: Find an appropriate starting spot and continue down the road.
For me, I should probably find that place in chapter 3 where I left off and push forward. I really like those future chapters I wrote because I’m impatient, but I think I should leave those for the future, or when I hit a rut in the first part of the book. At least that’s what I think I would do.
Those were not too difficult, but I still haven’t really gotten back into the swing of thing yet, though I hope to change that. Perhaps the aliens will be good to me today.
Finally, I don’t want to forget my Ebooks that are ready for your eyes and need a good home.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. I hope all this makes sense. This is my third straight day of migraines so I would be surprised if anything I wrote made any sense at all.
Happy Black Friday, Bloggers. At the end of September I told you I would do nothing else until my novel, The God Machine, was completed. I am happy to report that all 180,000 words have been safely published on Smashwords and the Amazon Kindle store. Yea, Me!
I must say it has been a harrowing month for me. I almost quit my job twice. I had a very painful bout with some unruly ovarian cysts (both sides), several migraines, and a cold that I am still dealing with. I also rescued a poor sick hamster named Shaggy Don King. So, needless to say, I had a lot of hurtles to jump over.
Let me tell you a little bit about my process for this book. I know I’ve said this before, but I am going to say it again with bunches of exclamation points behind it. The very first thing I did was write out every page in a notebook!!!! The closer I got to the end of editing The God Machine, the more I realized how much the notebook actually helped me.
Reason number 1 to use notebooks: You can scribble, you can draw pictures. You can draw a line and write something completely off the wall to see if it works or not. You can write your notes right there in front of you. You can free write, and you don’t have to commit to any of it. Which leads to…
Reason number 2 to use notebooks: So, the notebook draft was my first draft. The type out draft is the second draft. This is where the work comes in. Yes, you do have to type the whole thing out again, but this helps you easily hop over a psychological hurdle you may not realize is there.
First, you are seeing the book with a fresh pair of eyes. That helps. Depending on how often you type out, it may have been weeks or months since you’ve seen the front have of your MS. You can go along freely and self edit, not by deleting words but by simply leaving them out. Here is the kicker. If you write your book out completely on your computer a weird thing happens. You become attached to those words. It becomes agony to erase such large paragraphs, and words that you’ve spent countless months slaving over. I’ve likened it to cutting off arms, but if you have those words tucked safely away in notebooks, they are not truly gone. Instead of deleting and sending your words out into oblivion, you simply omitted them. If you decide you need them later, they are still safely inside your notebook.
So my point here is…deleting parts of your manuscript hurts you psychologically. Omitting parts of your manuscript makes it a little less agonizing to do what you need to do. If you leave those extra things out that weren’t needed anyway, by the time you get the thing typed out it’s like they were never there.
Reason number 3 to write your manuscript out in notebooks, and this is a new one: When you reread your manuscript for the first time after typing it out…HOLY CRAP, IT’S VIRTUALLY PERFECT! Yes, I know, I know it’s hard to believe, but think about this. You did most, if not all, of the heavy lifting in the type out draft. There is virtually no cutting and pasting involved in the type out draft. You do the cutting and pasting in your head. If you want something from five (written) pages later where you’re typing it in now, you just go ahead and put that section in the right spot and make a notation in the paper copy. If you start getting redundant in your sentences, you can type one of the sentences out and leave the other one in your notebook. If you get adjective happy, you just leave them out. You forget tag lines, add them in. You forgot to say something in the notebook draft, come up with an awesome line, add that sucker in. It’s also a good time to fill in holes. I am famous for things that look like this (Add fight scene here…it’s a blood bath.) It’s been a while since I thought about this scene. A fresh pair of eyes and a fresh perspective and boom! It’s in there. And then you continue typing.
Yes, I do admit there were I scant few things I needed to move around. I did have to fix a bunch of typo’s, and had to make sure someone’s eyes stayed blue throughout the whole novel, but it read like a book. It felt like a book, and I got through the final editing process so much faster.
In other Bflyzone news, I didn’t get to do NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, I didn’t get to do it last year either because the entire month of November is a breeding ground for migraines. Plus, I was still working on The God Machine. I am planning on doing my own migraine free version of NaNoWriMo in June or July when the headaches are less likely to strike. I call it NaNoJulyMo. Any of you migraine people are welcome to join me. I know the name is wonky, but NaJulyWriMo just sounds weird.
I would like to do is give a huge thanks to MS Fowl. MS is the cover artist for The God Machine. She was an absolute blast to work with, and I absolutely love the cover. Actually, I think I might make my book cover my avatar. So, if any of you would like to have a high quality ebook cover at an affordable price, you should consider Melchelle Designs at melchelledesigns.com. Melchelle Designes also has their very own blog page here on wordpress. Check them out!
Finally, and I am very proud to do this, I would like to invite all of you to check out my new novel, The God Machine by Teri Harvey. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8JVI9U or https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255629. It is a very cool paranormal romance novel featuring wizards, time travel, inter-dimensional beings, doppelgangers, and dragons. I had such a good time writing it. I hope you have a great time reading it.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Well, my friends, I’ve been talking about this story for months, and now I am ready to give you all a taste. Here are the first ten pages of The God Machine. Hope you like. Feel free to edit me or comment. I enjoy all types of constructive criticism. Here is a description of my novel copied and pasted straight from my query letter followed by the first ten pages.
Salamander, a budding wizard’s apprentice on par to become the most powerful apprentice of them all, has made a few horrifying revelations about his life. First, he is undeniably in love with his master and mentor The Black Wizard Zolton. Second, and most terrifying, Salamander may not even be a he at all. Salamander must hide his femininity at all cost or risk being destroyed by the League of Wizards, or even worse, rejected by Zolton who has secretly come to love his young apprentice. After being outed by his worst enemy, Ox, Salamander is ostracized by the League of Wizards. With her best friend and fellow apprentice Ferret by her side, Salamander, now Amanda, is forced into hiding, and her beloved Zolton is bound by the League of Wizards to rid the world of the creature of his own creation even if it shatters Zolton’s heart in the process.
“The God Machine”
His heart turned over when he spotted her across the ballroom through the crowd of enthusiastic party goers. It was New Years Eve in New York, one more year spent away from her, but here she was, soft and delicate like a newly cut daisy, a daisy that would never die. She had been avoiding him for years, but tonight she foolishly let her guard down. Tonight he had finally caught up to her. Tonight she would be his again.
She looked stunning as the blue lights hit her, then the red, then the green. Her chestnut hair caught the light in the old ways he remembered admiring when she was by his side, when they made the impossible possible with explosions of color and light and fire, but that was such a long time ago, centuries maybe. He’d lost count, but it had been much too long. He needed her now and this time she would not escape him. They belonged together and tonight they would be one.
She could feel his presence drawing near. She could always feel him when he was nearby. In the past she could feel him and run away before he was able to find her, but tonight, she supposed, the alcohol that had drowned her system slowed her response. Now he was close, perhaps even in this very ballroom. It was difficult to tell with all these people around, all these thoughts and emotions swirling above her head along with the bright lights, ridiculous hats, noise makers, and the alcohol. Perhaps she had just a touch too much.
She had to get out of this place. She had to escape before he found her. This hotel was built like labyrinth and she didn’t know if she could find her way out. All she had to do was find an exit, find a taxi and get to the airport. Florida was nice this time of year. No, she had to get out of the country, Sao Paulo? Tokyo? Paris? She couldn’t get far enough away from this place. No, this was impossible. There was no way to find a taxi now. She was in the middle of Time Square in New York on New Year’s Eve. She would have to run away on foot.
She felt a sudden flush of amorous energy caressing her body. She could always feel the way he loved her and his feelings rushing around her when he’d already spotted her and was moving in on her position, trying desperately to catch her before she could run. That is how she realized that she was already too late. She let her eyes case the party goers around the room. Too many faces. She could feel his vibrations getting stronger, but she couldn’t see his face. She couldn’t run. The room was spinning, and she was disoriented. She needed to find a wall, a chair, anything to hold onto. Where was he? She couldn’t run unless she knew which way or she might run right into his arms. He would love that.
She swallowed and lifted her fingers to her temples. Damn alcohol. “Zolton,” she called out to him with her mind. She knew he could hear her now. She knew he had the advantage. “Go away, Zolton. Please leave me alone.”
“No,” he echoed back to her, watching her face change as she realized how near he actually was. He watched her face change from happy and carefree to nervous, and now panicked. She knew he was close. He could read it on her face. “We belong together, my little Salamander.”
She gasped. He was so near that she could smell his skin. She braced herself as the room went dark around her. Everybody cheered. On a big screen a giant ball of light with the numbers 2010 began its yearly plunge.
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Happy New Year!
Lights flashed, metallic confetti exploded from the ceiling along with balloons. Horns blew and people kissed around her. She had no one to kiss her, no one. Even with Zolton on her tail, the only family she’d ever known, in this moment she felt utterly alone.
She felt a pair of strong arms encircling her. Her world spun relentlessly until she was trapped within his embrace. He engulfed her until there was nowhere to look but into his Amethyst eyes. He looked different from when she last saw him. His usually longer black hair was cut and combed neatly in a modern style. His face was cleanly shaved revealing his smooth facial skin. His black tux fit his muscular frame perfectly, and as usual, he was several heads taller than everyone in the room.
His lips pressed against hers with a gentleness she couldn’t believe he was capable of, so soft she could not help but let him taste her Champaign sweetened mouth. She shivered against him and clasped the coat of his tux. She wanted, needed to pull away, but she couldn’t. He wouldn’t let her. His pull on her was far too great. All she could do was relax in his arms and wait for him to release her, but the confetti kept falling, the balloons kept falling, and he kept kissing her all the way through the second or third playing of Auld Lang Syne.
She took a deep breath and smiled a weak smile when he finally released her. There was no escaping now, and she knew it.
“Hello, Winn,” she whispered, but he could hear her over the crowd.
“Don’t call me that. My name is Amanda now.”
“You’ll always be my Salamander,” he said, his smile as handsome as she remembered it in the old days when they were in love. She stared up up him, her silver eyes shivering along with the rest of her frightened body. “Dance with me,” he said after the party resumed around them.
Amanda knew there was no escaping him so she allowed him to hold her close. His body was warm and oddly comforting as he led her to the dance floor. The love felt so familiar to her, so overwhelming that all she wanted in the world was to wrap herself up in it, but his love wasn’t real anymore. It was all a hoax to keep her feeling good so that she would come with him quietly without a fight. His mind was a weapon which she’d admired all her life, but she never thought in a million eons he would use it to hurt her. She wanted to believe he still loved her, but the real Winfred Ximon Zolton was dead, this man before her was but a husk, a demonic shell whose only desire was for her destruction.
He snapped his fingers and the music changed from a fast pop monstrosity, to an old classic waltz. The humans in the room didn’t seem to notice the change because it only occurred within Amanda’s ears.
“I see you still use magic for every little task,” Amanda said softly.
“I’m a wizard. Why shouldn’t I?” Zolton asked with a hint of arrogance in his voice.
Zolton smiled and stared down into Amanda’s silvery eyes. Her face hadn’t changed all that much in all their years. He remembered that face, a face that would forever be burned in his mind. He could still remember the first time he laid eyes on her as if it were yesterday.
800 years ago the newly formed wizard Zolton was hiking through the hills surrounding his home in a place called Dark Mountain. Only a scant few months ago had he stood before the sacred flame, the source of all the power in the universe. It infused him with its galactic power and transformed him into an all powerful, an encompassing black wizard, the most powerful being on earth.
He was ruthless and arrogant as most young wizards are, lighting up the night with explosions of purple fire and magic powerful enough to scorch icecaps and melt mountains. He had yet to reach the age of 300, but he was talented, blessed with more power than any of the other older wizards or his fellow apprentices could ever have imagined. He was one step away from ruling the universe.
Zolton lived a life of solitude as did his fellow wizards, but this lifestyle was lacking in ways that, at times, were unbearable to him. Wandering the countryside for special herbs and substances by day, and casting volatile spells by night left him time for little else. His focus was superb, and his spells, flawless, but when he found a moment or two in a day where he could allow his focus to break, and allow his powers to rest, he found his onyx caves and his enormous spell tower perched prominently atop Dark Mountain cold.
He’s sought companionship amongst other wizards, but those arrogant haughty sods were solitary and militantly so. They didn’t seem to mind the loneliness their stations required. He’d not stay long, and there was always work to be done for which the other wizards couldn’t be bothered.
He’d sought companionship amongst the humans, but he quickly realized it was a mistake. The seven foot seven, dashingly handsome man of magic was a daunting figure to the tiny humans who never seemed to grow to far past five feet tall. Meeting these people was impossible now that he was quite literally larger than life. When they saw him coming, they ran away from him, a vast contrast from when he was a mere apprentice. When he was young and not so powerful, the women and the men flocked around him. Just above six feet tall, he was still taller than them, but he wasn’t a monster. He’d been an alluring figure able to charm anyone he pleased, especially the women, but it all changed once he’d received his wizardhood and grew into the most powerful being on earth. Human desires and other such foolishness are washed away when an apprentice is granted his powers. Those things are of the past have should have no effect on the wizard’s grand future of protecting the universe and serving God. Zolton’s humanly desires were vanquished when he was baptized by the sacred flame, but it seemed his humanly desires were stubborn, it seemed. All he could do was ignore them, and wizards were very good at that.
One day while wondering through the woods Zolton heard a strange noise, a mewling of some sort unlike any animal he’d ever heard. He walked among the trees listening for the little cries, and they became louder as he approached a large rock off the side off the side of a sheer cliff face. Behind this massive red rock, nestled in a tuft of grass he discovered the baby.
Zolton’s eyes narrowed at the sight of the infant. The baby smiled up at him kicking his feet and cooing at him, crying every now and again. The child was covered with care, hidden well from passersby if only it was quiet, alas it was not. He recoiled and backed away. This baby’s mother must be nearby. It was none of his concern and he would in no way involve himself in any woman’s problems. He turned away from the child and stocked in the opposite direction when he saw the body on top of a mound of rocks.
She was young, no more than 20 years old, and she lay broken near the bottom of the cliffs. Her chestnut hair streamed all around her and her skin had gone ashen in death. He moved closer to the body hoping this woman was merely sleeping, but the rocks that were her final resting place were much too jagged and her neck had been snapped. He scaled the rocks up to her body and peered up the cliff face he assumed she was trying to climb. Out of the hard rock face high above grew a singular crimson poppy. It sprung straight from the rock without any soil or even a crack to help it survive.
Zolton shook his head at the damned flower, and the foolish girl. He couldn’t just leave her there dead and mangled, could he? He turned away from the body and stared into the horizon. He had to leave this place before her people came looking for her. He couldn’t have the humans chasing after him with torches and pitchforks again. One time was enough for him to learn his lesson. He’d hardly taken a step when he thought better of himself. No, he couldn’t just leave her there.
Zolton gathered up her delicate corpse and carried her away from the cliffs that had taken her life. Her body was chilled, yet still pliable, still fresh. He lay her down on the grassy earth, straightening her body parts until she almost looked unbroken. She looked merely asleep, not dead. Zolton sat beside her on his knees and wondered about her. He admired her face memorizing every line, every curve from her no longer fluttering eyelashes to her rosebud lips or what he imagined had once been rosebud lips. Now, they were a cold shade of blue.
Zolton sat in silence pondering what he should do with her. Humans generally buried their dead didn’t they? This girl was much too beautiful to go into the ground though, but what else could he do?
Magic. He could fix her. He’d never done anything so far as resurrection, but he knew it was possible. Lazarus had been brought back to life by Jesus, but Jesus was more powerful than anyone could even fathom. Jesus wasn’t a wizard, but the son of God with which Zolton could not compete.
Zolton had studied the resurrection at length and he had learned a few things over the years. Being the black wizard of death, his role in the universe was clearly laid out for him. Killing was as simple as batting an eyelash and he’d killed many unsuspecting human souls who dared to trifle with the natural order of the universe, but life, giving life to someone who had lost it? That was something different. It was well known among the wizards that only God could give life, but Zolton wasn’t just any wizard. He was the most powerful wizard. Perhaps in this one instance, God would grant him favor. Perhaps this one human could be the companion he’d been praying for, a special being infused with life giving magic making her more than just a human.
Besides, if it didn’t work she’d simply be dead. But if he was able to bring her back? Perhaps when she awoke she would be grateful to him. His heart ached at the thought. Perhaps she might choose to stay with him. Perhaps she might grow to love him. Perhaps he might find a way for them to be together. He touched her cold cheek with one of his knuckles. Then he went to gather the necessary tools.
As he walked away he heard the cry from behind the large rock. He’d forgotten this small detail. The baby sniffled and wailed and reached its little arms in the air as Zolton peeked around the rocks and glimpsing the child. Zolton stayed back at first, but only until he realized there was no danger. The child quieted as soon as it saw Zolton. It had the same chestnut hair as the lovely dead girl and stunning silver eyes that pierced his very soul. He couldn’t leave the child either.
Zolton scoffed uncertain of what else to do. “What an ugly little boy.” He sighed and groaned and paced back and forth debating his debacle. “Well, I guess you’re going to have to come with me, aren’t you?”
Zolton’s long and muscular body bent over the boy and his strong arms lifted him to his chest. The boy couldn’t be more than a year old, probably less, but he cuddled close to Zolton and cried pitifully.
“I suppose you’re hungry,” Zolton groused.
Zolton removed his water pouch and set it on the ground. It wasn’t an amazing feat to turn water into wine. After it was done originally and had impressed everyone thoroughly, there were many imitators, including him, but now Zolton wondered if he could turn water into goat’s milk.
Zolton waved his hands around the pouch of water and concentrated. With a flick of his powerful wrist, the magic exploded around him. Zolton reached for the pouch and it was warm. He opened the cap and took a sip. The water had transformed into perfectly warmed milk. He casted a little spell that closed the top of his pouch and made it to where only a few drops could escape at a time and he gave it to the baby who drank greedily until his pale skin turned pink. Thoroughly satisfied, the baby went to sleep.
“Thank God,” Zolton said to himself. “All you have to do is feed them and they pass out.”
Zolton laid the child back behind the huge rock and returned to the girl. He sighed and watched as she lay sleeping. No live girl could be this lovely. It was time he brought her back. She had a child who needed her, perhaps a family. It wouldn’t do just to leave things as they stood.
He set next to her body and pulled from his black robes his magic talisman, a sword carved from the purest amethyst. Every wizard had a wand, but not every wizard had this. The powerful sword was light in his hands and he wielded it with precision. Its blade sliced through the air around him and over the girl until the amethyst in his eyes glowed. Magic exploded around him in a shower of purple sparks raining down over both of them. The sword was hot in his hands and with all the power he could wield he sunk it into the ground next to her body. Her body jumped with the jolt of power forcing its way through her, but she lay silent as the grass and red flowers grew high around her, but the girl remained dead.
“Damn it,” he cursed retracing all his steps trying to figure out what went wrong. The baby, who had crawled into view laughed heartily at the fumbling wizard.
Zolton’s face reddened. “What are you laughing at you naughty little spork?”
The child cooed and chewed on his fingers as the purple sparks poured over them again. As the grass and flowers around her grew too thick, Zolton took the girl’s arm and pulled her to another bare spot on the ground.
For three days Zolton cast his spells over the girl’s body. He used so many different powders, herbs and potions he could hardly remember them all. Between castings he took care of the baby, feeding him and soothing him to sleep, but Zolton didn’t sleep. He lay in the grass next to the girl trying desperately to think of the next spell to try, but at the end of the third day he grew weary, and had expended all his ideas.
“Why won’t you come back?” he yelled into the night. He’d tried everything. He’d healed all her broken bones, reattached every blood vessel and even made her cheeks rosy from artificial blood flow, but as the sun set on them, so did any hope of bringing her back.
Zolton’s eyes wandered back to the child who was sleeping soundly after Zolton’s last attempt to revive the girl. He pitied the little one who had lost his mother. He knew now that he could never bring her back.
Zolton closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was time to bury her, but her face was too beautiful to cover in dirt. He brought her body to the lake’s edge and constructed a floating pyre on which she could rest. He propped the baby up against a rock so that the child’s eyes could see him as he built the mother’s final resting place. The baby’s little eyes were wide and focused once on the magic torches that lit the night blanketing him with many glorious shades of purple. His eyes then focused on the wizard who had placed the girl on the pyre along with many wooden logs that he stacked covering every inch of her body except her lovely face.
As Zolton opened his powerful hands his feet lifted off the ground. He flew back to the top of the cliff and plucked the single crimson poppy that had been the girl’s undoing. He plucked it right off the skin of the rock, no roots, no soil. Magic put that poppy there and tempted the girl to her death. One day, he would find the careless bastard who did this to her.
He had already given the girl to the lake when he flew down and placed the poppy upon her forehead. He gave her one last loving look and kissed her pale cheek.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered as the current carried her body into the center of the lake. He flew into the air high above the pyre. He raised his sword of amethyst to the heavens and the night sky lit up with purple lightning and ominous thunder. Then he lowered the sword, pointing it toward the pyre. He howled a scream of anguish as the fire erupted from his blade. A stream of amethyst flame raced through the air causing the pyre to explode, sinking the boat and its lone occupant to the depths. The beautiful, foolish girl was no more.
Zolton landed on the shore of the lake. He was exhausted. He yawned, rubbed his eyes and yearned for sleep. Then his remembered. The baby looked up at him with wide and curious eyes. Zolton glared at the baby with disdain.
“What are we going to do with you?” he asked. “Huh? Got any ideas?”
The baby cooed as Zolton lifted him. He held the baby away from him as a smell worse than any wizards brew erupted from the little one.
“Yick,” Zolton sneered. He dropped, but kept him floating in front of him. Zolton put his hands on his hips and pondered the solution to this vile odor. He lifted a finger to the child, calling upon his magic. “Be gone, foul stench from Hell.”
A bright purple light flew from Zolton’s extended finger and engulfed the giggling baby, and in an instant the baby was back in Zolton’s arms cleaner than the day God put him on this earth.
The next day, Zolton did something he thought he would never do again. He ventured into a human town. It was a village of shepherds in a place called Nob. It was the closest town to where he found the girl, and the most logical place to start. He carried the child with him at midday. In the town square he came upon a random smattering of people. He held the babe up to each of them and said. “Do you recognize this child?”
Every one of them shook their heads or shrugged their shoulders before running off in the other direction. Some of the braver towns’ folk were more polite and waited until Zolton turned away before they ran. Others turned and fled before he could even ask the question. Zolton ran his fingers through his black hair in frustration. The townsfolk were understandably wary of the handsome giant man of magic who was desperately searching for someone to take his baby. Zolton could imagine their fear, but it wasn’t helping him find a home for this foundling child.
After three days and three nights and three different villages, Zolton grew weary of his search, and weary of the unfounded fear the humans had of him. He couldn’t get anyone of them to even look at the baby. They were all looking at him and running away.
Zolton had no other choice in the end. He took the baby to the orphanage, but as he entered the dark building and watched as skinny little boys slaved around the building waxing and cleaning the fat owner’s house, Zolton decided it was time for a change.
Zolton lifted the child to face him and stared into his big silvery eyes. The baby grinned and gripped Zolton’s thumb. Zolton stared for a long time and made his decision. The other wizards were content to live alone because they had something that Zolton did not, and he could see how it would make all the difference.
“You know,” he said proudly. “Behind every great wizard there is a great apprentice. I am in need of an apprentice, so I think you should come with me to Dark Mountain. Don’t think this life is going to be easy, though. There is much to learn and much work to be done. I shall make you my pupil, and I shall train you in the art of magic. I can show you things no human could ever dream of. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
The baby cooed and drooled, but his eyes were sharp on his new master’s. There seemed to be an understanding between them that didn’t need words and Zolton could see the acceptance in the baby’s eyes as the imprinted on each other.
“Well, now that that’s settled, I shall have to find something to call you. Every little boy must have a name, and I’ve been pondering one for just this occasion. Your name shall be Thane. It means follower. As my apprentice you shall follow me for the rest of my life, so it seems appropriate. But you need a last name as well.”
Zolton reached into his robes and retrieved a handkerchief he’d found on the dead girl’s body. Inside hand embroidered in red thread appeared the name, Shelby. He expected the name might have been her name or perhaps her last name, such a lovely name.
“Thane Shelby,” Zolton said with pride. “I’ll show you the secrets of the universe, Thane Shelby.”
“Come home with me,” Zolton whispered holding her tighter now as the colored lights flashed around them. She could no longer fight him. He’d drained the energy from her body until she was limp in his arms. All she could do was cling to him as the ballroom whirled around them. “Amanda, please.”
“That place is a prison,” she managed resting her head on his chest.
“It’s your home, Amanda. It’s our home. We have so many memories there. Please, come home with me.”
“No,” she breathed. Her arms pushed against him, but her thrust was lighter than a passing breeze. “No.”
Amanda remembered her home at Dark Mountain, what it was like. Just like its name, it was a dark place where she had always felt dark and isolated. She was trapped by the flowing dark emotions of the place, and she had to hide her own dark feelings. In Dark Mountain she was always hiding, but it wasn’t always that way. She’s been happy there as well.
“Fine,” Zolton breathed. “If that’s the way it had to be, that’s fine.” Zolton lifted his fingers to her cheek and letting his fingertips graze at line up to her temple. Amanda’s lashes fluttered as her eyelids became heavier.
“Please, don’t,” she begged.
“Shhh,” he said dropping his fingertips to her lips. “Sleep, my love. When you awaken everything will be right again.”
“Salamander, what are you doing?” the large gray tabby cat asked stepping stiff legged into the boy’s conservative quarters.
The boy, who was now aged to sixteen, but in reality was actually more around 160 years old, gasped and covered his naked body with the sheet he’d been holding open in front of a long mirror. Once he was covered he dove into his meager cot on the cold floor.
“Go away, Georgina,” Salamander rasped.
“You’re supposed to be asleep,” the cat said. “What were you doing?”
“Nothing,” Salamander demanded. “I was just looking.”
“Looking?” the cat asked, yellow eyes probing as her cold nose touched the back of his neck.
“Yes, looking,” Salamander said defensively. “It’s my body. Don’t I have the right?”
“Of course, dear. Good night?”
There was a loud crash and then an explosion coming from the bowels of the mountain, and purple smoke filled the room.
“What was that?” Sal asked setting up.
“Zolton is hard at work again,” the cat answered absently licking her paw. “Doing God only knows what.”
“Why didn’t he wake me? I could help,” Salamander said in a panic.
“There are some tricks little boys shouldn’t know,” Georgina said rubbing her forehead against Sal’s forearm. Sal groaned and fell back against his pillows.
“Zolton never lets me see the good stuff.”
“Good night, Salamander.”
“Good night, Georgina.”
Sal sat up after the cat left the room again. With a flick of his wrists the wall sconces blazed until he could see the black stone outline of his room. With a turn of his finger his full body mirror returned. He gazed at himself wrapped in that sheet, his thin shoulders and nonexistent waist, the fine blonde hairs all over his body so tiny you could hardly tell they were there at all. He liked the way he looked, but he knew he was different from the other boys he’d seen in town. They were brutes. They had muscle and deep black hairs all over their bodies, and even some patches of hair on their faces.
Salamander inspected his face, softer than the petals of a freshly sprung daisy. As was his chest, he thought as he opened up the sheet and looked down. Boys’ chests didn’t look like this. They were wide and muscular. His was silky with very little muscle. His was small and his pecks were round like small oranges. They seemed to have grown over night. Last time he checked, his chest was flat.
He bit his bottom lip and closed the sheet over him. He was bothered by all of this, bothered by his soft little voice, bothered by his hairless body, bothered that he was missing certain parts of his anatomy, and bothered that he loved the way his tan sheet looked draped over his body. He stood and turned in place letting the sheet flow over the air like a ball gown. Then he sat down again.
He sprung back up when he heard another explosion. Wind burst through the caves of Dark Mountain and he heard Zolton cackle. Then there was a relentless banging sound. Then it all stopped abruptly with a thud.
Salamander gasped, “He’s hurt,” he shuffled out of bed an ran toward grand tower number one where Zolton liked to cast his most important spells, the one that Sal had spent most of the day scrubbing. Sal ducked behind a medium sized rock to protect himself from any remaining magic that might still be running amok in the tower. When Salamander peeked over, Zolton was there just fine with his back was turned away from Sal as he casted his spell.
It was hotter than murder in the tower tonight as Zolton flew through the air around a giant caldron, amethyst lava glowing and spattering all around him. Sweat rolled off of Zolton’s brow as he landed, his black robes were plastered to his body, and his black hair plastered to his forehead just the same.
Zolton rose off the ground again. Salamander watched in wonder as Zolton threw something volatile into the brew causing an explosion that forced Sal to duck out of the way to avoid the shock wave of purple fire. When Sal peeked back over the rocks, Zolton’s feet were once again safely on the ground and he was laughing, his robes covered in purple and black slop. He pulled off the hopelessly soiled robes until all that was left was naked skin.
Salamander ducked behind the rock a second time and pressed a shaking hand over his mouth. Sal’s white skin flushed and flushed again as his heart slammed so hard against his chest he thought he might not survive. Sal closed his eyes and tried to take deep breaths. He’d never seen his master that way, nor any other man for that matter. Sal’s hands shook as he lifted himself for a better look.
Zolton ran his fingers through his black hair and stood before the caldron waiting. For what? Sal could not guess, but he had a perfect view of Zolton’s olive skin glistening in the purple light. His muscles were large and sculpted like those of a Greek god. Zolton was a god, at least in Salamander’s eyes. He was everything a man should be with muscles and hair. He also had a bit of a beard going tonight. He was so rough and raggedly handsome. Sal wanted to touch that beard before it went away, to see what it felt like, to see what Salamander himself was lacking. God, Zolton was strong. Salamander knew he was strong, but he’d never seen the physical evidence of it. Zolton was magnificent, Sal thought as an overwhelming pang curled up in his stomach. He doubled over, but kept an eye on his master.
Zolton was amazing, Sal thought. The pang in Sal’s stomach unraveled and stung him until he could feel it everywhere in his body, and in places he knew he shouldn’t. Sal closed his eyes and breathed in slowly. Zolton was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his life.
Salamander gasped and fell backwards as Zolton’s eyes turned his direction. Sal had always appreciated Zolton, idolized him, and was always grateful for the shelter and home he created for them, but Salamander had never felt anything like this for his master. He was suddenly frightened by the strange and feelings he’d overwhelm him, so he ran faster than he’d ever ran before back to his little cot. He dove under all of his blankets and pillows until he disappeared.
“Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! You stupid idiot!” he screamed. “Wrong!”
Zolton could feel the presence as he worked feverishly in this blasted heat, but he could not stop at this point. He’d spend weeks on this spell, weeks gathering the correct herbs and potions. He was determined that none of his work went to waste. This spell was much too important. Besides, it was probably just Salamander. It wouldn’t hurt for the boy to watch. Sal had spent many nights watching Zolton as he casted his most precarious spells, nights when the boy should have been sleeping, but Zolton always knew when he was there. Sal had always been a curious soul, but as long as it didn’t affect Zolton’s important work, and as long as it didn’t affect Salamander’s chores, Zolton saw no harm in him watching.
Zolton smiled to himself. The boy was just like Zolton when he was an apprentice. He and Merlin would stay up all hours of the night watching as their wizard Ximon would do something as important as bending space and time, to zapping a hangnail or levitation exercises. It didn’t seem to matter what Ximon was doing, or what Zolton was doing. Zolton and Salamander alike just wanted to be a part of it.
It was probably time for the boy to participate in the more important spells that Zolton usually scheduled to take place while the boy slept. He felt Salamander was mature enough to handle the more dangerous and difficult things that come along with the profession of wizardry. Besides, Salamander had been poofing flowers and zinging butterflies for much too long.
It was deadly hot in this tower. Sweat rolled off Zolton in buckets and he promised himself a rain shower before the night was over. When Zolton whipped off his robes the sound of a heartbeat thundered in his ears louder than the explosive magic in the room. It was a frantic sound that excited Zolton’s ears and made him raise his eyebrows. He’d never known the boy to be so shy, but then Zolton realized that it was not shyness that made Sal’s blood boil, nor appreciation, nor the thrill of the magic all around him. No, this was different. This was something sweet and innocent, like the blooming of a delicate flower or the flutter of butterfly wings, the twinge that erupts all over when your heart realizes it is in love.
“That isn’t…healthy,” Zolton thought as the boy’s anger surged, and fear, and confusion. Zolton’s gaze turned as the boy ran away.
Zolton shook his head in amazement. What a thing it is to be in love. He’d never had the luxury, but he felt a certain pride and flattery at being the object of such feelings, even though those feelings were completely inappropriate, and he would have to put a stop to them immediately.
Amanda’s eyes opened slowly. The room seemed to spin as she regained consciousness, but then it stopped. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she recognized where she was, the feeling of the cot beneath her, the cold rock floor it sat on, the dim torchlight and the cold black walls. She was home, this was her room. God, how she missed this place, and the magic within it. She missed her wand and helping Zolton with spells that were crucial to human existence. She missed Zolton back when he was her master, back when she trusted him, and he trusted her with all the secrets of the universe. She closed her eyes and pulled the blanket tighter around her and wondered if life would ever be that way again. She closed her eyes tighter when she felt a presence draw near.