The Chipmunk and the Ponytail

My wife is special. Yes, you would say; anyone who could live with me would have to be special. No, more than that, much more than that. She retains the youth and vigor of a woman thirty years her junior, yet she is an old soul. She sees the world very different than most, and holds animals to have an equal place on our planet. No, she understands the idea of kill and be killed, but in there is a profound respect for animals.

 

This story is true. It happened but a few days ago. I do not mention names (ok one dog) as Cheryl felt her dogs might get a bad rap for what they so innocently caused. She is a special lady; I exaggerate nothing.   

Cheryl & ShadowThe Dane and the Rat enjoyed being outside.

She opened the door and, as quick as Batman can slap any sense into Robin, the two are all over the yard, critters scurrying everywhere. Even birds decided to take refuge in some tree. It’s the usual way the dogs greet the day. Perhaps it was preordained that this one day would go somewhat different.

The Dane’s tail was high, curled over his back; he bounced along the ground from tree to tree, attempting to reach what has gone up the trunks at lightning speed. The Rat Terrier had his front paws on an above-ground root, begging whatever was up there to come down, or maybe telling it to stay up; she has never discerned the true objective of their exercise, and doubted the dogs had thought the whole thing through.

Both dogs had a deep pleasure in leaving the house with the exuberance to awake a deaf frog sitting fifteen miles away next to a cascading waterfall. Most animals probably laughed at their feeble attempt to surprise them.

The game appeared not to involve catching anything. The dogs were well fed, and liked special food. One might say they were spoiled. So, the idea might be to make everyone climb a tree, and then have them stay up there until the two have finished looking around and marking everything for the umpteenth time. After all, it was their property.

This morning the garden was more alive than usual. There were robins, bluebirds, and an assortment of other winged creatures pecking on what they could find in the grass, while a few preferred what they found on the bark of the tall pines and oak. She heard a Peliated Woodpecker somewhere close; but he was not going to be part of any dog nonsense.

The beavers were not around, so, the dogs ignored the ponds; the grounds, before The Dane and Rat appeared, contained grey squirrels rushing about, their tails fluttering with every move, and chipmunks bobbing in and out of holes, some in and out of the crevices in the rock wall. They too, had found refuse.

A stump sat about twenty feet east of the deck. The Dane and the Rat had migrated there, and their excited barking told her they had a situation they were not used too. The stump was about two feet off the ground and about three feet in circumference. And there on top was a chipmunk who clearly had ran up the wrong tree.

The Dane grabbed him first. She rushed from the deck screaming for the Dane to let go. The Dane knew to do what he was told, and the chipmunk dropped free. But, before she could say, “Good Dog,” the Rat jumped in and grabbed the little chipmunk. Dear god, no. “O’Reilly, let him go, now.”

The chipmunk dropped free, landing on his back. He lay there on his back, no blood, his little legs poking at the air, totally frozen in fear. “Oh, dear God, let him be ok. She moved in and put her arms in a circle that the dogs would not enter. They still lunged outside, hoping the chipmunk would jump up and move outside the circle she has created. For them the game was still on.

“Get away, both of you.” They would not move against her, but at the same time, they could not back away. It was the first successful hunt of their lives.

No blood, thank God, and all his legs are moving like pistons. She held one arm out to what was now a half circle, and gently touched the chipmunk with her other hand. He flipped over, jumped into her hand, and onto her leg where she had bent down. He sat there, not sure what to do next. She dared not stir. Slow movement, one furtive step at a time. He is perhaps assessing his situation. He migrated to her side and slowly crawled around to her back, and then up. She could feel every small paw as it grabbed the next stitch of clothing. She stayed still as a mother watching a baby sleep. He finally stopped at some place he had discerned to be safe, underneath her ponytail.

What the hell to do now? If he bites me, then I will have to get a rabies shot, if I pull him out my dogs will finish him off. I have to get the dogs inside.

She stood up slowly. She barely felt him behind her neck. He had tucked in. The dogs just stared at her, perhaps wondering where their new found squeeze toy has gone.

“Come on boys, inside.”

They stared at her some more.

“Now, let’s go.” They follow her to the deck and inside the house, the little chipmunk still tucked underneath her hair.

Now, what next? If he jumped out inside the house it might create more problems than it solved. Was he hurt? She had to get back outside. First, put the dogs to the back of the house to prevent their barking.

The stove held a pot with the water now at a boil for her morning eggs. She turned it off; no telling when she would be back in.

Outside again; she needed to find the best way to free her not so wanting to be freed creature. If she tried to pull him from her hair, he might become more frightened, or even bite. The only thing she could think of was to lie down.

She lay down slowly, on her back, on the grass, no barks from her dogs which would surely see her posturing as something they should be worried about. She was happy they could not see. She undid her ponytail and spread her hair out. Don’t touch the little critter; it would frighten him.

No one is ever going to believe this.

 Minutes passed, and she sensed the movement, and then a flurry. He darted under the deck, not a look behind.

Be well, my little friend.

Moms

nan double

Moms, I love you. We need you.

I would imagine that everything there is to be said about a mom, good and bad, has been uttered thousands of time; and I would hope that all the good things said were well deserves, and that all the bad things were rare if deserved at all.

I believe for the past thirty years the role of mom has undergone great change in our western culture; I would not dare speak for what might have happened in the rest of the world. For a long time we linked mom with housewife, a sort of servant for the man and his family. Ya, I guess that’s a little harsh.

So, where are we now? Moms can be dads; two dads can be a part-time mom; extended/separated/divorced families can have multiple facsimiles of mom. It can be confusing for children, and hell for adults, or maybe the other way around.

I see it now as challenging. Back in the seventies I clung to the idea of mom and pop, even if my dad died when I was young; I was attached to the idea of family, and of course the media even then made sure to pound that connection into our buying habits. The change that took place was a good one; I won’t expound further on what to me is the obvious.

But it left a void of sorts. And along with that void came all sorts of situations real and contrived; so we are now locked into a system where a child cannot walk to school alone, forgetting altogether a bike ride to the park, or a sleepover with a new friend. And again I would concur that some of this precaution is founded in necessity.

The result is that it leaves our children living like cloistered nuns even before they have lived long enough to adopt the habit. (Yes, my pun was intended, sorry.) Every activity is planned, cloistered in some building or enclosed space, and heavily supervised. At least one of the parents, probably two, are very involved in making the money to pay for all the recreation and activities, but they have no time to mentor their children. I believe it only a few decades away that children will read a bed time story to their parents who are totally exhausted from their daily grind on the mouse wheel. A night care worker will then tuck the kids into bed.

Children need a mom. That mom has an incredible responsibility: to guide their children to be independent, alive, outgoing, responsible, and compassionate, even as the dictates of our new world require them to be consummate jailers of their children. Authoritative processes have been put in place, and they stack even more every day, institutions that might come near a child and have at their intention a myriad of rules to safeguard the child, some well minded, far too many stifling and destructive, rules often dealt out without the due diligence or the common sense of a responsible authoritative human being.

Moms need our support and understanding, more than ever before, and children need their moms more than ever before.

Give our children back their childhood. Give our children back their moms.

I love you, mom.

The Druid and the Flower

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The Guardians

Universe

Courtesy of Pinterest

The Guardians find their way into both my books, The Druid and the Flower, and Ashima. I have contemplated writing a book that deals exclusively with them, and might just yet. Perhaps their power is not fully realized by the reader until book three, The Dawn of Magic, the last book in the series, to be released late summer.

Only one universe to mingle his thoughts in; his training had allowed where ten or twelve universes were the norm; some of the elder Guardians were know to survey even more than that. Yet, he could not ignore the vastness of this one—Andesia; he loved the name. Sure, he only had responsibility in one universe, but he got to enjoin as many as his connection allowed. Having been assigned only one Universe said much about his newness to the system; he recognized that it was meant to ensure his influence was lighter than the gravitational pull of an atom in the galaxy Heracon on a similar atom in the galaxy Multiplana, the ladder being a good seven billion light years to the other side. He would have to look up both measurements. Then again why bother? Lessons were over.

And what had all his lessons thought him about this piece of existence?  Nothing of value, in his estimation; it was all theoretical. It was good to be done with all of that, and out observing. Still, he had to admit, he loved all the mindsets he had encountered; such a vast array of being. But why did he have to know all the limits of light in the twists of time? Or was it twists of space? Who thought this shit up? Whoops, a throwback to his prior existence. Not the voice of a Guardian. But light speed was all about the species who lived in the gardens; it had nothing to do with how he traveled or what his purpose was.

He admitted he loved all the color; he could create color by moving one way as the contents of a galaxy moved another; better yet was the attraction power of the super systems as they hummed their wonderful songs; yes, lots to be part of: the swirls, the vast silence of the constant motion, the massive collisions were inexplicable; once, he tried to reach for the vastness of it all and only made his Soulwell hurt; greater still were the seeds, and how they somehow found a way to plant themselves in places where impossibility stood on top of infinite improbability. He was a master student of design. It was why he was chosen. Everyone should have a vocation that allowed them to evolve as they chose.

No, he could not deny it was wonderful to be away from the lessons—done with the formal training: How many gardens in Andesia? Siateria had named the universe, this universe he was assigned to, his first, a small one, only some fifteen billion light years from start to finish. Oh, my, he had done it again, from start to start was the correct observation; so easy to ignore that space and time merely curved back on itself, an impossible illusion to those who lived here; a nonessential necessity to a Guardian such as himself.

A Guardian. Yes, he was one. Oh, he was wandering again. His teachers had mentioned that he had a propensity to do that now and again. A few million gardens, yes that was the answer to how many gardens there were on Andesia. Gardens were the only exception to the total attributes of matter. Each new spark of life, an  expansion of the whole; not only an expansion, but a true addition, something totally unique and new—no wonder such gardens were so precious; and no wonder the need for expansion. Even the Collective had a task in trying to keep up. He should know the exact number of gardens. How silly. That kept changing too. He would look up the number none-the-less. Each garden had its own species, its own language, some with multi languages, each with a special set of survival skills, all bent on one goal: evolve—a flow from nowhere to forever.

He loved all the gardens he had visited so far. Of course he had merely been an observer; Siateria had taken the lead; it was she who guided his initial steps into this, his first responsibility—the expansion of Andesia. The last assignment was the last he would do under direct supervision. Siateria concluded it was time he undertake an assignment of his own. She had mentioned how impressed she was at how quickly he had pulled from the Collective to learn the language and culture of that assignment. She had not realized that to some degree it was a product of luck; that garden had come up in his studies, and he had been fascinated with the idea of a totally liquid garden. He should have told her.

A request from Siateria. He let go his observation link and went to facial. “What’s wrong? I can’t… no vis—”

“Take it easy. Let go the anti-matter. It has to be constant.”

“Yes, of course. Sorry.” He passed the anti-matter back to the void. And Siateria was there before him; or, he beside her. Well, not exactly. This was so different than his last existence. “I’m so sorry. I forget that nothing can be created or destroyed.”

“It’s okay, Peter. It takes some practice.”

“Peter? Will that be my name? Where am I going?”

Siateria smiled. And in that smile he knew the love she had for him was, so powerful and pure; even when he should have his ears clipped she delivered nothing but concern, understanding, and her gentle nature of teaching. No wonder she was set to move onto the Asendus Plane, he having no knowledge of what that Plane was all about; she accepted it was an essential part of her growth. She had been here even before Siateria existed, and knew every nuance of its expansion. Of course her responsibilities were much greater than his meager set. He had asked her many times what came next for her, hoping it would give some answer to his own longevity. She always answered the same way; we will see.

 

“They refer to their garden as Earth.” Siateria offered a visual for his inspection.” The disaster we envisioned has happened; total collapse with in excess of ninety-five percent of the population wiped out; and yes for a second time it did not end the growth there. It seems they are a resourceful lot, if a bit too skilled at killing themselves.”

“What’s my mission?”

“As always, to observe. Well, a bit more might be needed.”

 

 

 

Pain

opposites_attract

Pain is nothing more than pain. That tooth pulled without Novocain. Yes it hurt, but once he decided to accept the pain, it became bearable. His arm bone snapped back into place after being broken, the doctor thought he was ‘out,’ but he wasn’t; he wasn’t sure who was startled more by the expletives that flew from his mouth. The fingers jammed in the car door; all of those things had happened to him at one time or other. The car thing came when he was but a child, and he had not said a word as the door jammed his fingers against the frame, and he only shouted that he needed to get the door back open; then came the pain, and he screamed.

After that he pretty much took pain as it came.

Of course, not all pain is physical; not all pain is inflicted by some outside force. Some greater pain had to do with what is possible and what is not, in the world we live.

He was not old by any means, yet he had enough time to watch the old world go round the sun a few times, watch as people groped for a living, see the greed and the power of the few against the many. He was not involved in the sadness of the masses by any stretch of Mother Theresa, yet he knew the wheels that turned, and how they rolled over those not able to get out of their way. He was no fool to how things worked.

Today his mind was on the justice system, the grand Tower of Babel. It stretched its shadow unto the poor and the rich alike, the able and the disabled, the predators and the victims, the knowledgeable and the ignorant. How it affected each one, however, was a whole different matter.

Justice has never been blind. He smacked the dashboard. The blind are those who perceive justice as some “splitting of the baby” from the wisdom of Solomon. Laws and judgments, jurisprudence its proud name, sit in volumes on top of volumes to guide the way to the truth. It’s like getting a map of the world laid out upon your table, and you are expected to fine a small cave, without a single clue that it is buried beneath ten feet of snow, in the bowels of Alaska.

 No, he knew better. It has always been about common social expectations, and of course, money. He had stopped wearing a suit for that reason. His profession called for suits. And when he entered in jeans, it was always to stares and an expectation of some shortcoming; an expectation he was well able to take advantage of.

But some advantages where not at all available to him. He cried now; he had lost, not because he was deficient, rather because he was a man. It was all about social expectations. Mothers are assumed to be the care givers, the nurturers, the place where a child should go to get a hug from a scraped knee, or sit and receive a special meal when a child is sick. And that might well be the case.

It was far beyond his reasoning to allow that one parent was more deserving than the other, or that such a decision would be necessary. But he had learned just a week ago that indeed it was the case. Two people cannot dictate the terms of a child. One parent must rule.

Even that he understood. The mother would provide, she would cloth and feed. Certainly she would need recompense for her efforts.

What he did not understand is how where they would live and where they might move to was all beyond his control.

And so he sat today and watched; the tears refused to halt. Two daughters, one nine, one five, would be leaving today. He was not moving, they were. A soon before divorced mother had a lover, far away, perhaps taken before it all took place, and she was moving there. There was no discussion, it was a right of the mother. And she would still require that financial support, it was the law.

Her car moved out the driveway, the girls in the back. He decided to sit there awhile.

The darkness rolled in, and in the darkness he got out and pissed on the rear tire of his truck. One needed to claim connection to something that he might belong to—a dog would do the same.

And then he found a highway that would allow speed before the answer found him.

The Black Monks

Courtesy of Pinterest
Hawk

The Black Monks

The red tailed hawk swooped down and latched its talons on the small squirrel. Soulewine halted; the hawk met his gaze even as it held the squirrel in its grip. Soulewine waited. The hawk’s necessity for food far outweighed his need to move along. The squirrel gave a few helpless gasps, maybe its body relaxing into death. The hawk kept its gaze on Soulewine, its hunting skills no doubt telling it to ensure the prey was dead before flying off, his presence not helping with the hawk’s need to wait. In less than a minute it was over. A powerful flutter of wings and the hawk was away with its food.

So soon from life to death was what he had been thinking about before this surprise encounter. Some by chance, some by design, some inexplicable, some as ordinary as a dying fruit upon the vine in late autumn. Did death even matter? Was it all not but a circle, like the seasons, birth, growth, decay, and death again? So, why did any cycle matter any more or less than another? He was playing with himself of course. No one cycle was the same as any other; and any farmer knew to vary the crops in a piece of land, as the sameness would soon deplete the land to where nothing worth eating would grow. Was one cycle more important than another? Had he but lived the one, it might be an easy answer. And if he had, was his merely a bigger circle embracing the many for the others? He smiled now as he continued walking up through the foothills.

There was a question. What was a circle? An important question. He had passed the tree line, he noticed. He stopped and looked at the sky for any sign of his hawk. But the sky was clear and empty. He set his gaze to the mountain ahead, snow about half way up, even as they were in the late throws of summer; a cold and forbidding place, that mountain.

His staff resonated a trickle of energy, sending out a little more warmth, a smattering more heat to compensate for the low burn of his relaxed pace against the increasing drop in temperature as he climbed. He would reach the summit by sundown; anytime sooner and he would in all probability meet with the same fate as the small squirrel, though he doubted they would offer him such a quick death. They knew he was coming of course, but they liked to stay in their mountain fortress, and they knew he would come to them; all they had to do was wait.

All cycles did not have the same importance of course, nor did they have any particular formula for what might be the start, the middle, or the finish. Seasons might be predictable to some degree, but the great cycles were not. Which left no measure as to witness if a cycle was nearing its ends or merely expressing some nuance of purpose and design that only history would decipher, should any tidbits of memory and attachment be allowed to remain. It rarely was such the case.

He knew one thing, the death and destruction was not over: neighbor turning against neighbor, fires, earthquakes, floods, droughts, terrible storms, all on the increase to where no one felt safe; even the animals were beginning to disappear, whether death had taken them, or they were in hiding, no one knew for sure. The other druids agreed all such pestilence was on the increase; all of their prophesies predicted blood on the moon, which translated to blood all over the earth.

Soulewine had but one choice. He would offer up his soul to the hounds of hell to find a way to mitigate what was happening. But he knew, as sure as the Four Cities sat at the corner of the world, so too, did the Black Monks have their hands deep in the belly of these disasters.

He would not look up again until the sun was set. It was then that he would reveal one of his own secrets. The Black Monks would pay dearly if they came to take his soul.

Rhubarb Pie and Secrets

Rhubarb Pie and Secretsoak tree

The idea of rhubarb pie always popped into his head around Thanksgiving time. And at last the day had arrived, deep into Fall, the leaves all but gone from the trees, the days already growing shorter, the seasonal march into darkness. And there it was that yearning for a rhubarb pie. Of course he had no idea how to make one. He saw his job as consumption only. Not that he was averse to cooking; he loved to cook, and in fact would do most of the preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, where a host of family and friends would gather.

He never learned to bake. Well there was more to it than learning to bake. He knew well that people liked it when someone else took the time to prepare food for them. Take breakfast for instance, the smell of hot coffee or herbal tea, the aroma of bacon or sausages; he knew it a fact that he could draw the sleepiest person to the breakfast table for such a feast, a feast that would also involve scrambled eggs, choices of jams, bits of fresh fruits, and toast made from homemade bread. There is a special love that goes into cooking for folks. The folks might be caught up in the ambiance of the food; he knew better; it was the love that mattered.

He loved rhubarb pie, and if the truth be known, he liked strawberries to be part of it. The two blended so well. And he accepted that whoever made the pie was offering a most special gift to him. He would always find someone to bring along his most sacred of dishes.

His morning went to taking care of everything: preparation of the turkeys, all the vegetables, meat pies, smoked bits of hams and turkey for picking on as the ovens did the main work of the feast to come.

The first guests arrived, and the celebration commenced. Hugs were exchanged, music turned on, fires and candles lit, stories shared, the house filled with the joy of the season. And he noted as his rhubarb pie made its entrance, the gathering was complete.

Perhaps it was the wind that caught his attention. That seemed somewhat silly to him though; the din of the conversation was well beyond the call from any wind that was blowing outside. Indeed as he came outside and looked to the trees, not a branch stirred. No one else followed him out; they would eat first and then enjoy the outside fire, or perhaps take a walk up through the woods.

He walked down pass the fire pit to where the old oaks stood setting themselves in hibernation for the cold winter to come. The sun was dipping down to the west and lighting up the oaks to about three quarters of the way down their huge trunks, the bottoms already in shadow. He had always found it amusing to have the sun climb up the trees and then blink out—a wonderful gift for living on a hill. He passed one tree and then another, touching the bark of each one as he did. Sleep well my friends.

There it was again. No, not wind; a whisper. How odd that he had heard it inside the house when he could barely hear it here. His mind playing tricks? He moved further into the stand of oaks. Maybe it was time for him to go back. He needed to take care of his guests. He turned and placed his hand on one more oak. Yes, it was time to go back…

Oh my. A Gray Wolf sitting in the path he had walked along. He kept his hand on the oak as he met the gaze of the wolf. And then the whispering… words this time … a warning, no a summons, he must come when he was alone, as no one else should know.

The Wolf leaped to the side of the small path and disappeared. He let go the tree. The beating of his heart pounded in his ears.

He wondered if this would be the last rhubarb pie he would ever taste.

Reading Fantasy is the Best Place to find Reality

Reading fantasy is the best place to find reality. Now I know that doesn’t make sense, but nevertheless I believe it to be true. Every day life has a way of getting all mixed up in subjective emotions and all types of predispositions that people bring to the table as they interact with each other on a momeDogReadingnt to moment basis. The reality is not easy to find as folks maneuver between cause and effect.

Nor am I trying to be some grand philosopher, believing that by uttering some oxymoron I might gain a reader’s attention.

I truly believe what I’m postulating. Notice I said reading fantasy and not living fantasy; there is a big difference, and we should not get one mixed up with the other. What I find wonderful about reading fantasy is that the characters are large, the settings are incredible, the pace often breathtaking, the quests impossible, and in a mere few hours you get to see the transformation that people go through when they come up against adversity. You get to see through the lies, the fear, the mistakes, the love, the cravings, the stuff that in real life makes us run for cover.

And in real life things are more subtle. Things happen to us; they sit to steep and become a bitter tea that has been left to sit for days or weeks; what we get after that is very hard to digest, and the reality of the situation may be impossible to discern; for it is buried deep inside as we move along with our lives.

Living life is meant to be complicated. Not only do we have to deal with the adversities that come with any lived life, but each day you still have to get up and move forward as there are things that pull you forward, no matter what the past might do to try and hold you in place. Layers on top of layers.

No such things happen in a good read of fantasy. Sure you get the mental anguish that goes with the journey, sometimes you are given the reflections of what drove them to where they are; but there is a straight line in what is unfolding, and that is where the reality lies. In such books, if they are written well, we get to view in a very short time what takes a lifetime in the real world to build: character, the bad and the good.

I truly believe that reading is an essential building block to living, as much as is the living itself. Reading gives you time to ponder and explore other possibilities, other ways of thinking, and gives a sort of kinship that we are all on similar paths, hopefully not all as harrowing as that depicted in the novel.

It might appear that fantasy is my favorite read, but in fact I enjoy many genres, and I explore many possibilities whether it be real science, spiritual, or some far-fetched science fiction or mystery. As with all things, reading alone cannot get you a full life; you still need to interact with your world in a more tangible manner.

But going through life without reading, to me is like going to sleep without dreaming. Yes, we all dream, though we may not remember. Such dreams are said to hold onto every little thing that happens to us such that our soul might be complete with all that we are. We are, in fact, our dreams. I tend to believe that reading allows all of that stuff of dreams to better coalesce with the grand design of the universe, and we reach for a oneness, with compassion in knowing we are all connected and share a similar story.

Dreams are what we are made off

cropped-Ollie.jpghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouxOvXr0ajc

Take a few minutes and watch this short video. Mr. Moore is the author of many books dealing with the soul. He has a very interesting background and has spent all his life dealing in such matters. I may not buy everything he has to say, but I do allow what he has to say comes from the wisdom he has gathered throughout his life.

And if you like the short piece here, the entire  hour long session with Oprah was even more enlightening

The Call of the Raven

Cat for Friday 13thThe Call of the Raven
By
Russell Loyola Sullivan

It seemed like ages since he had been up this way. It crossed his mind that in many ways it had been ages. Years had piled on top of years, too many seasons had let go to new seasons; he had hoped all of that time would wash the memories away. But for all the years he had lived, if anything he learned there was no running away from what you were, or from the things you had done.

He stopped now, more to take in the landscape than to catch his breath. The mountains off to his right were like old friends. He had fished the river running down from the foothills, and enjoyed many a dip in the big lake when he needed to cool off on a warm summer’s day. And she … No, not that. He would not allow it.

Catar trailed along behind him as he resumed his journey. This was new territory for the big cat, and Garand gave him all the time he needed to mark his passage and explore for any possible danger. Garand also knew that his companion was linking into his own thoughts as they walked along; emotions that Catar no doubt took as warning signs for some danger to come. If he did find danger, it would not be their first fight together.

Garand suddenly realized he was holding his staff with as much force as someone climbing a rope. He chuckled. It might be he was climbing a rope of sorts, climbing back into a past that was best buried and forgotten. He stopped again as his peripheral vision caught his black furred friend having done the same; Catar lowered his body ever so slightly; Garand all but saw the leap into action that was to come. He readied his staff, and Catar sprung into the air towards a thicket of bushes just ahead. Garand followed swiftly behind, his staff glowing with energy.

The bushes erupted in a mad fury of lashing, screams, and snarls. Garand moved round to where he could see what was happening, six men armed with swords, and screaming obscenities as Catar mangled one’s leg and deftly leaped to avoid a sword meant for his eye. Garand let go a burst of energy and a man toppled over, the others now turning their attention to him. Catar seized their moment of confusion and bounced into one of the men, and leaped to tear at the neck of a second man; Garand let go another burst of energy and a man fell. Only two remained now, and both decided running was a more profitable possibility. Garand gave a low whistle and Catar ceased his chase.

Catar came up beside him. Garand bent down and scratched the big head. “Well then. It would seem one of us is most unwelcome here.”

Catar sat. While it well might be that he could not talk to his human companion, they both knew what he was thinking. He took his job of protecting his friend seriously, his slow movements on the journey, his constant alertness. Now, perhaps his friend would see why it had been necessary.

Garand sat next to him. “Yes, I know you are all about protecting me. And I’m grateful.” He pulled a small treat from his pack and gave it to Catar. He took one for himself. “I hope you appreciate I stopped when you stopped, all because I know your senses are so much keener than mine.”

Catar gave off the tiniest of growls.

“… yes, I know you are warning me that this entire journey is a bad idea.”

Catar rubbed his head against Garand, and Garand passed him another treat. “… and yes, I know you love me. I love you too, my friend.”

Catar looked up. And if a big cat could smile, then here it was, and so Garand smiled back.

The two finished their treats. They moved down to where the road met the lake; drank, and cleansed the blood and the fury of the short battle from their bodies and their souls, the one perhaps much easier than the other.

So, they were expecting him. There would be no way to avoid a confrontation. What he would give to have a few of his kin along with him, but he was the last, even as Catar was the last of his kind. He recognized the two were joined by more than being the last of their line, they also represented the last Druid and Sentient Cat to be bonded by the Magic. Garand had hoped that when he disappeared after the war he would be forgotten.

Seven visits from a raven, all in one night on the waxing of a full moon, told him his ancestors required his return. Some great desecration was imminent if it had not already happened. Even in the Keep there was no record of such a visit for at least a millennia, and that call had been to seal the world against an evil that even the records was scarce in fear to describe. The war where he and Catar had found each other, bloody and evil, massacres on both sides, even then he had never been summoned to the Keep; and now here they were about to climb into where he had received his training, long ago; a young boy who knew nothing, even before Catar was born. That land was now a place where only the spirits rested, the Keep a place which knew only silence, the days of Magic where over. Or so he had imagined.

Here he was, he and Catar. The raven told him in each of the seven times; he must return to the Keep.

Their short battle told him someone else was aware of his journey. Worse still he realized that those few they had encountered had been sent merely to deliver a message, a message that they knew he was returning.

“I am so sorry, my old friend. I may be dragging both of us to our doom.”

The big cat purred.

Garand nodded. “I knew you would say that. Yes, there will be plenty of food in the Keep.”

I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.

One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.

Echoes of the Ancient Winds

pig

Echoes of the Ancient Winds
By
Russell Loyola Sullivan

The sun hangs low upon the evening, shadows long, stretching off to where they meet with other shadows, enjoining themselves in the darkness to come. The smell of lavender, and something else, perhaps a breeze carries it, though not a blade of grass stirs. The tip of the mountain off to the east still holds the light in its grasp. It reminds him of something, as well.

He stands and places his sword in its scabbard. To his left his horse still grazes, looking well rested from the long ride. His gaze sets upon the waterfalls, cascading down over the foothills, too far away to give up any sound, yet anyone watching would know the thunder of the water crashing over the rocks and pounding its way into the basin, mist rising as the clash of torrent against torrent doles out the infinity of each drop’s direction, sorting themselves out at the other end of the pool, where the water once again becomes placid as the evening itself.

The only other movement, much closer than the waterfall, a few birds hopping about the small grassy plain that butts up against the thick forest stretching on back to the foothills. The birds are finding things they like it would seem. They continue even as the sun sinks low, giving up its last gleam of light. Not a total darkness yet; though that will soon come. Day and night never join any more that light and darkness might; twilight is there to ensure they never meet. Such twilight tells the birds it is time to move on, no matter the delights they have found.

The lavender is stronger now, and the other scent is all too familiar: human. Well, not quite human. There are many who would say she does not exist. They are many who swear she does. Of course it matters little what either group has to say; she is here now. He should have known it was her. But, he was still asleep when the fragrance and the essence touched his senses. Somehow it mixed with a dream he was having about purple flowers and dead bodies. He had not meant to kill them; and some pang of regret hits him; his intentions did not always go as he envisioned.

She would find him here of course; she always did, and more so, it is he who always comes back, no matter what the cost to his soul. How long had he been asleep? It was not quiet afternoon when he lay down, so, a needed rest of sorts. An ache or two would need some time to mend; nothing he could not push aside. He touched his hand against his side, not as painful. Still, it seeped blood. He was not quite ready for another hunt.

She was before him now. No foot steps to announce her presence, only the lavender and the incredible power of her being; the Magic she carried hummed in the air, not a sound, rather a resonance of overwhelming power, a power that probably matched his own, a match he would not care to test. A few steps behind her came Danser, his eyes as dark as the night to come, his devotion to his master forged in battle and kinship, and sealed with the years that should have long ago taken any wolf to its spirit pack.

She smiled before she spoke, her emerald eyes sparkling even as the first stars came to join them. “Ah, I see you have rested. I was hoping to find you still in your dreams where I might join you.”

A breeze, as light as down feathers upon his face; it must have followed her in. He remembered now. Her hair, red like the last glimpse of sun on the far mountain peak, shimmered ever so slightly again her cheek. She reminded him of a war horse with all its power, yet she retained the exuberance of a new foal strutting with life, fragile and filled with vitality. She was neither, of course; but a more beautiful woman he had yet to meet.

Danser brushed against his legs; he reached down and scratched his ears, but kept his eyes on Merrian. “I’m pleased you’ve come to join me. How did you find me?”

“You weren’t so hard to find, my dear Gerand. I have Dancer, and he likes you for some odd reason.

He knew well to not press any further; her answers would only turn into riddles. “The hunt did not go well,” he offered.

“No, I didn’t expect it would. But you gave me valuable time to save the Woodling. For that we should all be thankful.” Merrian touched his face with her hand. “You are a brave man. I don’t know what we would do without your Magic and your sword.” She began undoing the bandage around his waist.

“Or, yours,” he quickly added.

She wiped the wound with a small cloth she took from her satchel, and pressed her hand over where the blade had found him. He felt the surge of energy and the healing she offered.

“There, that should hold you together for a few more days. … I fear our Magic and your sword might not be enough. We may already be too late.” She pointed to where the waterfalls where now shrouded in the darkness, and above a crescent moon sat just above the horizon. “If we fail, all else will ultimately fail.”

Gerand put his arm gently around her waist. “We’ll find more Woodlings, I promise.”

“You cannot promise what might not be possible.”

“It’s no longer only about Magic, is it?” he asked.

She pulled him close, “No, and the dark possibilities now loom large if not imminent.”

I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.

One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.