I did not create a map for this land but you can imagine a landscape similar to our Tundra, covered in snow for most of the year, and dotted with bogs. It is a twilight land that is plunged into darkness during its winter season or Season of the White Veil as the inhabitants, the Roznoghs, call it. They live in caverns under the snow referred to as holloks, and are divided into clans according to their location. The icy stream called the Bringer of Viyu (numbness) winds its way through the landscape. The roznoghs are distant ancestors of the erfins. Their food comprises mostly hyfnu weed from the bogs (Greevuns) and meat from the small furry Nimply-wiks, and the large carnivore, the Wooil, which has four eyes, huge shoulders and powerful front feet, sloping down to smaller hindquarters. The Wooil can tear a roznogh to pieces, but its meat is valued, and also its fine fur hide. The roznogh worship the Skymaster Yidu, who is a big part of the story in the second book Three Stones of Destiny. It is here that Mirrortac encounters the Werdstone — a much revered stone — and gets himself into a whole heap of trouble.
My graphic artist Michael Lenehan has been busy the last month working on a trailer for my second book Three Stones of Destiny. It has been his first venture into creating a animated trailer, which he has created in a cartoon style rather than a more painstaking method. Overall, I am quite pleased with it, as it captures the drama of a key point in the book when my erfin character Mirrortac faces his antagonist Yidu for the first time. My YouTube link for the trailer is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i98tLcgUu4Q&feature=em-upload_owner
The links for Michael and the book are:
- You will find his art at Deviant Art on http://mick2006.deviantart.com
- POD publisher Equilibrium Books’ link to my book for print and ebook is http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/threestones.htm
- The direct Amazon order page is http://www.amazon.com/Three-Stones-of-Destiny-ebook/dp/B00B57ULHO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361069942&sr=8-1&keywords=Paul+Vander+loos
When everyone had finished eating, Mirrortac ordered them to begin their march up the narrow stairway. Ameece mooched along at the tail of the party, accompanied by her ever-present and loyal guardian, Evarngar. She was sullen and even less impressed now than before. Her despair hung thickly in the atmosphere.
In next to no time they were able to peer up and make out the brilliant yellow walls of the castle with its inscriptions in some unknown tongue. Twenty steps on, they could see the blue spires spearing upwards from each of the three towers, and above them the looped, diamond shaped pinnacles and poles. Aquamarine flags fluttered on the poles, bearing an alien symbol. Enormous webs were strung between the spires, hinting of some oversized arachnid. Mirrortac knew this did not bode well, and the hyfnuks shuddered when they beheld the ominous webbing. Each step was also marked with alien symbols which Mirrortac examined as he crept up each one.
As they ascended around a sharp curve, the steps levelled out, stopping short of a high arched gateway. A portcullis blocked the entrance. It bore a central metal plate bearing the symbol Delta and below it an inscription that Mirrortac translated to mean “Protectorate of Oashu”. The first Stone of Destiny was somewhere beyond that gate and in the castle. And obtaining it would be no mean task, the erfin judged.
The hyfnuks inspected the gate and the castle with something close to awe. Karn ran his palms over the stonework and the metal bars of the portcullis, feeling the solidity and hardness of these alien materials. Ameece lifted her eyes with cautious scrutiny, taking in the wall of the castle beyond the gateway. High above them, the twin green flags hung limp from the pole on the central tower; ominous in the still air.
Mirrortac lifted the Werdstone up to the central plate of the portcullis and uttered a few brief words of maja.The aged metal squeeked into life, groaning as the gate lifted into the stone arch above. He stepped forward into the courtyard followed by Ameece and their retinue of hyfnuks. Around them the ground was just dust with no ornaments or fountains to please the eye. A shadowy archway yawned at them from the base of the central tower, revealing a wide internal stairway as they approached. A fragment of giant web, like rope, was strung out from a nearby balcony to the perimeter wall. The Werdstone pulsed brightly like a guiding beacon, showing the way. Mirrortac let it pull him into the darkened stairway of the central tower and up its spiral to the level above them.
In the days that followed, they made their way out of the swamp and onto a grassy plain where shrubs and small trees grew in small pockets of green. The once distant mountains now loomed larger, fingering out towards them with ridges of stone that sparkled in the sunlight. A long flat blanket of mist obscured the feet of the mountains. Mirrortac’s heart quickened as he recognised the landscape that Browagh had stumbled into at the beginning days. Before them lay a wide plain that led up to the verge of the mountain ridges. Numerous yellow flowers peeked up above waist-high grasses which were alive with the movements of scurrying small animals. They were all awed at the sight of the grasses, flowers, trees and the towering mountains. The Werdstone had become dark and lustreless yet remained warm in its protective hide covering.
After 12 days on the plain, they reached the edge of the great mist, and entered, as this was where the stream ended – in an untidy pile of boulders and stones many erfin-lengths high. Enfolded within the mist was a fir forest, which was the same as Ameece and Mirrortac had witnessed through the eyes of Browagh. The trees were twisted in exotic shapes and pine needles littered the ground where they walked. Water dripped from branches as the ever-present mist curled in drifts through the higher limbs. A pathway of rose quartz wove its straight way through the wood, again as in the vision, with the high stone ridges coming up to meet them on either side.
Daghva considered the forest with a suspicious sweep of his dark eyes. ‘There is menace afoot in this place,’ he said.
Karn kicked one of the trees hard, causing it to shudder and shower everyone near him in water and pine needles. His furry eye-brows rose as he looked up at the tree.
‘This wooded thing does nought yield with ease. I should have to kick it a few more times to bring it to ground.’
Rusk and Iyaji mocked their comrade with chortles, and Rusk said, ‘We shall have to wait here until Luma has left for the Underworld and has returned before you kick that tree down!’
Karn warmed to the dare. ‘I will have six of these wooded things kicked down before the two of you together have downed e’en one!’ he countered.
‘Huh!’ Iyaji laughed. ‘We will have 12 kicked down each while you are jumping around with a sore foot after kicking down your first!’
Karn grinned then waved his palm graciously at the tree. ‘Take your pleasure!’ he said, inviting them to start the contest.
Rusk took aim at the tree and ran up to it, throwing up his great foot as he leapt. The hyfnuk bounced off the tree and fell harmlessly to the ground. The tree shook for a few moments, sending another shower of water and pine needles down upon them. Karn laughed loudly. ‘I thought it was the tree that you were kicking down, not you!’
A soft voice urged Mirrortac out of his slumber. He squinted up at the silhouette in the semi-darkness; gradually realising there was a stranger in the cavern with him.
‘Now I see you, the one of the erfin clan, there is resemblance to us. I am Ameece, Maja-tak of the Werd.’
Mirrortac was surprised at the youthful tone Ameece conveyed to his mind. He strained his eyes to see her face but there was a distracting aura that simmered around her form.
‘Welcomeness She of the Werd. This erfin is named Mirrortac.’
‘The name is unfamiliar, yet it seems I have known it always,’ she answered vaguely.
There was a pause as her aura pulsed with a strange light. Then she said, ‘I am about to take you on a journey into your past. Do not be discomforted by the many images you shall be seeing. They offer no harm now.’
Ameece reached down and lifted up a small bundle at her feet. She began unfolding it, and as she did so, a soft light escaped, revealing the rough shape of a large stone that generated its own luminescence. It illuminated the maja-tak’s youthful face. Her fur was as white as snow and her eyes like bright blue jewels.
‘Mirrortac, I want you now to look into this stone and place your mind at its centre.’
But the erfin seemed not to hear as he continued to study her face.
‘Mirrortac, look into the stone,’ she said, still patient.
‘Look into the stone?’ he queried, absently.
‘Yea erfin … look into the stone; the Werdstone.’
‘Werdstone!’ Mirrortac’s eyes leapt to the glowing stone. This was the stone of the knowledge of the Ancients, he thought guardedly to himself.
He admired the stone and silently wondered at the strange luminosity which began to change in hue as he stared into it. Fascinated now by the stone, Mirrortac was almost unaware that it was drawing his mind into it, through the rainbow of yellow, green, blue … and finally, into deep violet. Everything else around him was lost to his sight until the only reality was a streaming tunnel of violet that spun and twisted past him as he sunk deeper under the spell of the stone. He could feel the strong presence of the maja-tak beside him although he saw nothing. They seemed to travel onwards, deeper and deeper into the tunnel while the voice of Ameece echoed around him, reassuring him.
‘Be nought alarmed, Mirrortac. What you are about to see, and feel, and hear and taste and smell will seem real but it be just a vision of the past. Pay no heed.’
Her voice was swept away as the tunnel appeared to explode all around him. There was a brilliant display of flashing colours which fountained out of the centre of the tunnel, gradually filling it with the most startling of visions. Indeed, despite Ameece’s warning, Mirrortac could only gasp with the incredible realness of it all. It seemed that he was standing in the forest of the Divine Green and ahead of him were the floral-clad meretees, dancing along the forest path, hugging trees and singing praises to the forest and its animals. Mirrortac could see the familiar wise form of Shubek ahead of him and felt himself acting out something that had happened so long ago now. He tried to pick up the pace but discovered that he had no control – he was simply the observer now.
The erfin felt a rising sense of fear. He did not want the maja-tak to enter into the privacy of his own thoughts but he could already feel her mind pressing at the edge of his awareness. Suddenly, there was a sharp snapping sound, or so it seemed, and he was instantly asleep. When he awoke again, the *maja-tak was standing across from him, hardly discernable except for the dim outline of shadow. He shivered despite the warmth. Swarg came to him when she noticed he was conscious again.
‘Never have I faced such a task as this discerning.’ The maja-tak’s tone sounded weary. ‘Your memories carry visions which I would fear to find in my dreams let alone in the real world. I found many of the ways barred to me though I had spelled you to sleep … all passages should have been open. You are bound with spells unknown in Yidrogh. You told Aghfa that you were a holy one – a maja-tak such as I, yet I know no such maja-tak of Eol, or the erfins.’
Swarg appeared to be shivering herself as she bent closer, and it wasn’t until her face was almost next to his that he could see that she was actually afraid. A strained whisper urged up from her throat. ‘Who are you, Mirrortac? What do you want with us?’
‘Have you heard of the **Werdstone?’ he asked simply.
Swarg shrugged with surprise. ‘Who has not heard of it? It is the Eye of Yidu … the Most Sacred … stone of wisdom and knowledge. Why do you ask me such a thing?’
‘I have come to venerate it. News came of it in Eol. I have been searching for it to ask for answers,’ the erfin lied.
‘Then you have found it, holy warrior. How is it that you came to our clan just at the time when the Maja-tak of the Werd brings the Werdstone to us?’ There was an edge of excitement in her tone, but fear still lurked in her eyes.
‘You are not the only one to discern the truth from others, holy Swarg.’
Swarg stood up stiffly. ‘I shall have to discuss your request with the elders. We must know if your intentions are as you say. The Eye of Yidu can see everything.’
‘Then bring me to the stone, so that you will know that I speak the truth.’ Mirrortac had no idea about the power of the Werdstone, but whatever the outcome, he had to access it.
Swarg left the room, leaving the erfin alone with the snoring hyfnuk. The erfin had drifted off to sleep by the time Swarg had returned, wearing a resigned and solemn expression. When he was awakened, he already guessed at the decision of the elders. Swarg remained standing as she addressed his mind.
‘Mirrortac, holy warrior. I have discussed your request with the elders, and we are of the mind that you hail from clans that left here long before the rise of Yidu, and I could not reassure them that you were nought in league with the renegades. The demons you fought may have possessed you, I can nought be sure. The Eye of Yidu must nought look upon you.’
*a maja-tak is a like a priestess in this tribe
**The Werdstone is a sacred stone that is venerated by the roznogh people. It has many powers. It is the controlling stone for the Three Stones of Destiny