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What is Needed, Part 5

 

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1, Part 2 (first section)Part 2 (Conclusion), Part 3 and Part 4 This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga). The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

 

What is Needed (Part 5)

by P. H. Solomon

Their chains clanked and scraped the stone floor as the three of them shifted.

Zelma’s resolve slipped into weeping while she clung to Hastra’s hand. “How are we alive?”

“I don’t know.” Hastra touched her blood-stained dress and the hole where the Kregen stabbed her. She ran her finger along the line of her mortal wound but found no blood. Best not probe that further. She withdrew her hand and squeezed Zelma’s with the other.

Howart cleared throat. “It’s the prophecy. We live because of it.”

“Why not the others then?” Hastra chewed her lower lip.

Beyond Zelma, Howart’s chains rattled. “What is needed is given.”

Hastra mumbled the response with Zelma. “But what has been given besides life? We are chained in darkness and useless here.”

“We must wait and see.”

“Perhaps.” He had a better grasp of the moment than she. They might be waiting for the rats to chew them to the bone. She shuddered. Did my heart beat? Would she live through the pain of rat bites? She squeezed Zelma’s hand again. Best not mention anything to her.

The time passed and Hastra dozed. She awoke to rat’s fur brushing her ankle. She kicked with both feet. The rat squealed and it pattered away.

Zelma gasped at Hastra’s commotion. “What’s that?”

“Nothing, just woke from a dream.”

“I heard something running on the floor.”

Hastra jumped as Howart’s deeper voice boomed in the silence. “There are rats in here.”

Zelma’s chains rattled as she pulled her feet closer.

After that Hastra sat awake and waited for the rat to return. Teeth gnawed on boards in the darkness and matched her hunger pangs. At least she still got hungry. She rubbed her raw wound inside her dress. Better than the alternative.

Later, the door’s lock snicked open and woke Hastra. Light shined around the edges of the door. Trolls with food or they’ll drag us before Kregen again. It wasn’t a flickering torch. She stirred and her leg-irons scraped the floor. A rat squealed as it scrabbled away.

Howart and Zelma woke with groans as the door opened. Hastra squinted at the glow and her eyes watered. A silhouette stepped into the doorway. Her chains clicked and fell open. She gasped as the figure with the wide-brimmed hat waved them to the door.

Zelma leaned close grasped Hastra’s arm. “What’s going on? Who’s that?”

Hastra patted her sister’s trembling hand and opened her mouth to speak. The hat – he’s the one who healed me. “I think we should follow.”

Howart kicked his chains away. “Who is it? Why should we follow.”

“First, he’s got a light. Second, he let us loose and third, he healed my leg several months ago.” Hastra struggled to her feet and her knees wobbled.

The stranger moved into the passage beyond the room and the light faded as he walked away.

Howart stumbled to the door. “Hurry, he’s leaving.”

Hastra and Zelma leaned against each other and followed. They stepped into the hall as their rescuer turned a far corner. The three Withlings hobbled after the light past broken doors and intersecting passages that stretched into brooding darkness.

They arrived at the stairwell out of the lower cellar and Howart paused. “This isn’t the way out. It’s back up to Kregen and trolls. Should we risk it?”

Zelma climbed a few steps before she turned back. “Maybe they are gone and this man came to free us.”

Hastra followed her sister. “Stay in the dark but I think we have no other choice.”

They gained the upper cellar and drew near the stair to the keep when the noise of trolls echoed from above them.

Howart stretched his thin arm in the sisters way. “Still here. Where’s he leading us, back to them?”

The man’s light faded and then grew brighter. He waved to them. “Come, it’s safe. There’s food for you.”

Hastra shrugged to Howart and pushed past his out-flung arm. “Think how he set us free without keys. I’m following him. Anyway, he says there’s food.”

Hastra scurried on the stair and the other’s feet scuffed on the stone behind her. They needed the food soon. She’d faint without it. She touched the rent in her dress where Kregen’s knife-blade killed her. There were too many miracles in this since that moment.

The Withlings gained the main level and hustled after the man in the wide-brimmed hat. Lumps lay in the shadows of the unlit main hall.

Hastra’s gaze touched the hand at the moment Zelma gasped and wept. They’re dead, all the Withlings were dead. Fixed stares greeted Hastra wherever she whirled.

Zelma covered her mouth with her hands. Howart gaped and his eyes bulged from their deep hollows. They wound through the hacked bodies until they stood by the door to the dining hall where trolls hooted and snarled.

Their rescuer waved his arm into the room. “Eat, take what you need. When you finish I will show you out.”

Hastra whispered in spite of the din from the trolls. “But we’ll be seen. They’ll kill us.”

The man in the hat pointed to a table where no trolls sat. “I have everything you need prepared. Go on.”

She glanced at her companions and their doubtful expressions. He had set them free without keys. Hastra peeked into the dining hall. The trolls fought and laughed, their tusks and fangs flashed in the light. She’d run if they noticed her. She held her breath and stepped through the doorway.

The trolls never noticed her. Hastra lowered her head and scurried toward the table laden with food. Around her trolls howled their vile glee but none of them even glanced her way.

At the table Hastra snatched food without thinking and shoved it in her mouth. She chewed and groaned. Howart and Zelma joined her and they ate their fill. Howart found sacks into which they shoved the excess for provisions. They returned to the doorway and the man in the hat.

“Follow me.”

Hastra bent and cocked her head as their rescuer strode past her. She never quite saw his face. She hefted her bag and walked behind the sight of his brown coat and hat.

The man in the hat led them to the chapel. Benches and chairs lay overturned and they picked their way through the ruined room.

Their rescuer kicked a pile of broken wood and pointed to a leather-bound book lying spine up and open. He cocked his head to Hastra. “You must take this burden. Write the prophecy in it and all your visions.”

Hastra stumbled through the refuse, knelt and gathered the book to her breast. She blinked tears and nodded. She knew him now. She wiped her sorrow from her cheeks.

“Time to leave.” The man in the hat turned the wreckage. The three surviving Withlings trailed after him.

They followed out the front door but turned to a postern gate down the wall.

Hastra blinked under the gray sky and the brushed her hair across her face. She sucked in a long breath. Clean air. At the gate Hastra paused with her companions.

The man in the hat pushed the gate open. “Go to the old tower if you still serve as Withlings.”

They shuffled out the gate. Here the chill wind snapped their tattered cloaks and bit their faces. Hastra hobbled on the narrow trail beyond the walls of Withling’s Watch.

Zelma’s voice rang in the gusts. “He’s gone. Who was he?”

Hastra cocked her head at the gate and motioned to her sister and Howart. “Come, we’ve a mission to fulfill now. Maybe we’ll see him again.” It’s just us now. “What is needed is given.”

End of Part 5 (Part 6 will be re-posted on 12/20)

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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The Serendipity of Christmas Generosity

Christmas Present Wrapped in Gold and SilverI read an interesting post yesterday by Raymond Philippe entitled, Writing Goals And Objectives. Go Ahead – Dream! This article got me thinking about a mistake my father made several years ago that put me on a different path. Since it’s now the Christmas season I’ll go ahead and share this as I begin to write during this month about where I’ve been this year and where I’m going in 2015.

It may have been 2008 or 2009 but either way it was during the economic upheaval when most of us weren’t willing to spend much if anything. I was in the same situation as many – slim on money and worried about keeping a job. Christmas rolled around and it was rather thin on gifts but a good time with family.

However, my dad brought out gifts that were surprisingly nice given the state of the economy. I received a GPS which was very generous except for one thing – I already had purchased one a few years earlier when times were better and I had gotten a good raise with a change of position. I kept politely quiet and didn’t mention it at the moment but a return was in order.

A few days later, I explained the situation to my father and asked if he had the receipt. He didn’t have one but told me from which store chain he’d bought the GPS and was apologetic about his well-intended mistake. I called the local store and inquired about returns without a receipt and was informed I could get only an in-store credit without one. This was fine except I didn’t know what I’d spend the credit on as a good replacement for such a gift.

I went down to the store, made the return and got the credit without a hitch. I was still at a loss about how to use the money so I took a walk through the store and found laptops on after-Christmas sale. They even had rebates on them for extra cash back. I wanted one but had no immediate reason to purchase one. I went home and thought it through.

Santa Claus Using LaptopI hadn’t been writing much – if at all – for several years but I had an inclination to do so. The more I thought about it, the more a I realized I could use a laptop as a tool to jump-start my writing. I got on my old desktop computer and searched the store chain website for laptops that were still on-sale with a rebate. I found one of the least expensive ones but the credit would only cover almost half of the cost. However, with the rebate the cost would be minimal. I jumped on the deal, bought the laptop and sent in the rebate.

I later called my dad and let him know how things had turned out. I told him what I was going to do with the laptop and he was pleased. From that point, I began to explore writing in this digital age using that laptop. That eventually led to where I am now – my firm commitment this last year to my writing and being on the cusp of self-publishing my first full-length book.

It was an honest misake on my father’s part but that gift led me down a circuitous path toward publication. The laptop has since been retired with a failed screen after almost four years in service but I still have it and it runs with the help of an external monitor. My laptop serves as my desk and I do many tasks with it including a great deal of writing these days.

My father passed away in 2012. He knew that I was writing and even had a bit of publication success with a short story but I’m not quite sure he understood how much his mistake affected me. It was serendipity for my writing and I’m very grateful for the generosity. I think my dad was always frustrated that he couldn’t do more for those he loved but I think he did more than he understood.

In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron discusses launching out creatively. Her feeling is that when we reach out creatively we begin to encounter many happy accidents of serendipity that carry us along the our personal artistic path. I’ve found this notion to be true more than once and I’m sure I will again. It’s something I should consider more often as I work creatively.

This year I’ve dared to dream big with the beginning of my author platform and pushing to publish. Next year I will continue to dream even more by actually completing that project and – maybe – one or two others. During this week and the coming weeks, I’m going to share more about where I’ve come from and where I’m going as encouragement for other writers and artists who are either beginning their creative journey or those who may find themselves floundering with hesitation, doubt or some other creative block. It’s nothing special – just how I forged ahead with my plans through some ups and downs but I hope it helps someone along their own creative journey by sharing my own plans and ideas.

The Bow of DestinyWhat gave you a jump-start with your creative endeavors? What’s holding you back? What ideas for moving along in your journey can you share with others? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Author Goals for 2015

This is a continuation from Monday’s blog, The Serendipity of Christmas Generosity. It took time to get to the place where I was ready to commit to writing after the events described in my previous post. But that bit of serendipity certainly affected what I’ve done this past year as well as where I’m going next year. In this series I want to share why I’m setting goals for the upcoming year and then post mine over several blogs to discuss why these are important for me this year.

Soccer Ball Hitting NetIf you watch much sports that is by nature low scoring you see a lot of emotion when someone does score. It’s exciting and the crowd goes crazy. The goal is to score and win. As an author, my goal is to publish repeatedly, maybe become somewhat well-known and possibly make a living at it. But I can’t do that without some smaller goals.

Why Goals?

I believe goals are important. Without them you aren’t likely to accomplish anything. I also believe in planning to meet goals. I really never set goals for 2014 until late in the year and that’s probably one reason why I didn’t complete more his year even though I’ve done a lot as a writer.

So as part of developing and setting goals for 2015 I’m blogging about them. Maybe I’ll even update my progress on them throughout the years. One reason I want to set goals is that I’m inching closer to publishing my first novel so I want to be organized about what I’m doing in order proceed in a timely manner.

As a matter of distinction, I’m not setting New Year’s resolutions for my writing. My goals are actually geared toward my growth as an author so I’m not resolving to change anything unless perhaps it is to improve my writing craft. I’m mainly addressing the need to project ahead or have a vision for what I will be doing.

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.My Goals for 2015

1. I want to make more connections with local writer groups. Why? Short answer: for more support as a writer. I’m already a member of Rave Reviews Book Club which is fantastic but I also want to for more local connections as well.

2. Read and review more books. I’m not big on reviewing but it’s a requirement for Rave Reviews Book Club (where I am privileged to be a VIP Membe)r to review 4 books in a calendar year. Also, it helps to post a few reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for the interaction.

3. If time and money allow, I want to attend two writers conferences. I already attend one locally but I’m looking for another one that won’t break the budget to attend or require long distance travel.

4. Publish my first novel – but maybe slide in one or two more since I have several drafts at or near completion already. The additional books would depend on available funds to develop them.

5. Submit six short stories to fiction markets during the year. I have several rough drafts finished or in process of completion so I need to begin submitting more of these.

6. Upgrade my website either with custom themes or by transitioning to a self-hosted site. This will require funding which is why I need to work on goals 4 and 5.

7. Improve as an author by continuing to learn my creative craft, being more disciplined, better organized, and better focused.

Conclusion

I’m still working on my list at the moment so I may update this. I do intend to share more discussion on why I’m setting these goals as a help to newer writers like me. If you know someone who is a new writer or having trouble progressing as an author, please share this blog series with them.

The Bow of DestinyAre you setting goals as a writer? What goals are important to you this year? How do you plan to accomplish your goals for 2015? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.