After a voyage across the northern seas of Mareos, Mirrortac lands on a desolate and strange beach from where he is transported into another dimension through the work of an ominous mist. The name of this astral “world” is Hopocus, where deception is the norm. He first encounters the Enchanted Blue Forest — a fir forest at the edge of a coastline where trees are blue, casting orange shadows, and birds fly upside down. A misted landscape leads from this forest to Fog Peak and the Castle of Hopocus that is inhabited by a sorcerer and sorceress, and their many prisoners, among them a wizard and his assistant.
Lying between the castle and the depths of Raven’s Chasm is the Wood of Forgetfulness where the souls of the dead roam in their eternal circles, having lost their minds and any sense of direction. The wood’s other denizens — deva-hogs — are creatures to avoid. Mirrortac’s mission is to cross these woods to reach the Well of Lost Memories, but how can he succeed if soon after entering the woods, he loses all memory of his purpose? How can he survive being attacked by the deva-hogs? Or joining the souls of the dead in their march of despair?
The flaming fires of Vulcan’s Moat further prevents any escape to a higher astral plane where things are a lot better for souls and those still in body such as the erfin and his friends.
The dull red of the unmoving sun was the only light that penetrated the fog reaches of the wood. Mirrortac scanned the black tree shapes for danger and, although he saw none, he felt apprehensive and giddy. He looked down at the silver tablet in his hand and for a moment, blinked at it thinking: ‘Now, what is that doing there?’ The sorcery had started to affect him already, making concentration difficult. ‘If I cross the woods at speed, the danger of it will pass quickly,’ he thought, starting to quicken his pace until he was running at a steady rate, regularly consulting the tablet to remind him of his purpose.
‘What am I doing?’ he thought, unable to remember why he was running and what he was doing in these woods. The erfin stopped and stood lost for thought. ‘These are…what are these? I do not…who?’ He sagged to the ground with his head in a muddle. He had forgotten everything, even his own name and the reason he was in the woods. He racked his brain to recall thoughts that eluded him just beyond mind.
A broken harsh voice shouted out of the fog. ‘Follow me!’ the voice said. ‘Follow me!’ it repeated. And as Mirrortac raised his eyes, he saw an old man wearing a tatty brown robe. The old man sauntered in his general direction, leading a group of bent over and dejected Nerthulians, all dressed in their rags and mumbling and shaking their heads. ‘Follow me!’ the old man kept shouting, waving his arms about in exaggerated movements and staring in front of him with glassy blind eyes. By some mindless rational, Mirrortac responded to the old man’s call and joined the group at the end of the queue, marching behind them as they strayed aimlessly through the woods.
Around and around the souls wandered in their eternal pathway of despair, mumbling meaningless dirges to themselves. Mirrortac followed, engrossed in his own confused mutterings until the blind old man staggered headlong into a tree and tried to walk up it. The band of souls sprawled into the old man and tumbled into a mass of arms and legs, crawling over each other as though they had all been struck blind. Mirrortac tripped and fell, passing right through the soul of a woman who lay in front of him. His head hurt and he lifted his hand to feel the bruise. The silver tablet passed before his eyes and recognition dawned in his consciousness.
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Provided there are no cyclones bothering the coast early next week, I will be heading off for three days to the nearby national park of Cape Hillsborough to sit and absorb the ambience and write away on my second book in the series. In between writing bouts, I will walk around the rainforest and nearby beach to snap photos of nature and get a little exercise in the best possible way – bushwalking. Cape Hillsborough is the ancient culdera of a volcano that was action millions of years ago. Now, all you can see are some forested cliffs and hills alongside a wide sweep of beach, which makes for a very pleasant backdrop for writing.
I will be spending my time at the low-key resort where I will be staying in a ‘Villa’ of modest design but adequate for my purpose. I’ll have my laptop with me, and all the other paraphernalia necessary to write, including my music on tap to put me in the mood and keep me on track.
When my trusty Dell laptop of many years decided it was time to give up the ghost just a week ago, I realised that I had not backed up about 3000 words of my new writing, and was sweating on the hope that the documents would be rescued and transferred to the new laptop. It worked out fine in the end, with everything intact, but I quickly did a back-up to the external drive just in case.
The second in the series of the Nine Worlds of Mirrortac – The Three Stones of Destiny – is coming along well, with three of Mirrortac’s offspring coming to the rescue to find the erfin and continue his mission. There are more ‘humans’ in this book than the last, and indeed this will continue through the third and final book of the series. The setting of the story moves from the home planet of my star erfin to another planet that is less comfortable, as it is always being beset with earhquakes and volcanic activity, not to mention the hostile tribes that inhabit it. This is the planet Thenigmas, which has two suns and a whole lot of death and destruction. This is where my fantasy becomes more spec-fic as it crosses the boundaries of fantasy into science-fiction. There is even some space travel involved, but the magical elements are still there. I am hoping that readers will enjoy this new book when I finally finish it and polish it, and those who haven’t yet read The Wizard’s Sword, may go back to enjoy it and this story.