No, I have not been quiet all this time due to grieving over football (believe me, Michigan is now 8-2, far beyond what we were supposed to be by anybody’s standards, and I’m taking a little comfort…and maybe JUST A LITTLE bit of revenge from Michigan State’s game against Nebraska😉 ). But I have been writing, and I have been editing, and I have been trying to be as productive as possible, as well as trying to submit at least one story via print to a publishing company/house and also preparing for RadCon. So I have not forgotten you, my loyal readers and occasional blog visitors.
And as a reward for your patience, I’d like to send you a little bit from the sixth book of the Vein series, which I’m currently writing, called The Summoning of Kainyn. Read and enjoy!
See you in the Vein!
We congregate within the throng in order to hide from the wicked specter of Loneliness. Yet even here, amongst friends and lovers, she seeks us, she finds us, and she never leaves us alone.
-Tamoth of House Taskaber,
“A Study of the Soul”
He ran as fast as he could.
Branches and thickets struck him, grabbed at him, did their best to hinder him, but he fought through each one. Further and further into the dark forest he ran, dodging left and right, driving through branches. When a tree trunk loomed before him, he sidestepped it. So fast were his paw-fashioned feet that he felt as if he were flying. If only he could do such a thing.
He knew it wasn’t real, that it was only a dream—a dream of a memory. Yet that did nothing to alleviate the terror in his heart. Because he had to run. Or he would die.
A distant echo of logic ridiculed him, told him to simply stop and wake up. This had already happened. The script had already been written and followed. There was no reason to harbor this fear within him. Yes, he understood that. But as he was rehearsing the memory through this unconscious state, he had to do so with every detail, and that meant taking upon himself the terror he had experienced that night. That made no sense, but he did not care at the moment.
Ahead of him, illuminated with torchlight and a soft, surreal tint of sky, loomed the familiar sight of the castle wall. He had arrived: good. Soon all would happen as he remembered. Father would rise up from the other side of the wall, a frantic expression fading into relief as his eyes fell upon the young form of his firstborn son. The relief would melt into concern as a breathless string of words exploded from the mouth of the running lad, informing Father of what came after him. With a graceful motion, Father would jump the wall, warblade in hand, and urge his son to make his way toward the main gate while he would deal with it. A savior as grand and mighty as any of the great heroes of lore, that’s who Father was. A stern disciplinarian too, although it would be the last time that the foolish son would ever do something so idiotic as take an unescorted stroll through the Amber Forest ever again. No switch to his backside would be necessary this time.
But it would probably come anyway.
He made it to the wall. Furry hands connected with the smoothed surfaces of the groove-locked stone. Father should appear at the top any moment.
Father did not appear.
Father? Father? Where are you, Father!?
He tried to speak the words, but only silence spilled from his mouth. No, this wasn’t right, he reasoned. Father should be here: that great, shaggy mane of greying brown hair, made coarse by old age and countless battles. He was supposed to rise up, hear the cry of his child and rescue him in a daring act of salvation.
But Father was nowhere to be found.
He tried to cry out again, scream at the top of his lungs. The word hung in his head, but failed to register in his ears. It was as if he had no mouth. Yet he must scream, or he would die.
Behind him came a familiar sound, the thumping, plodding sound of the monster that followed him. He knew it by sight; even though he had only glimpsed it during his excursion into the forbidden layout of the Amber Forest, its image had been burned into him. Tall, dark, hairless, with a limber build. A pair of burning blue orbs that served as eyes. Compacted legs that allowed it to spring into the air and upon the sturdy branches of the trees with a single leap. For all that mattered, it may as well have been able to fly.
It was behind him, getting closer every moment.
And Father still did not appear.
Something slammed into the ground behind him. He dared not turn around, dare not look into its face, that horrible expression of unblinking rage. He didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to know what it had schemed to do with him, but based upon the dead carcass of the forge beast it had been near when he first encountered it, a couple of unpleasant guesses dared to flash through his head anyway.
Father? Where are you!?!?!
Heavy, fingered things slammed into either side of him, crushing him.
A thousand sharp blades pierced into his back…
With a scream, Kainyn awoke, springing from his mattress. Claws swiped blindly into dark air, attempting to ward off the fading blur of the nightmare. He caught himself after the third attack, realizing that his efforts were both futile and unnecessary. With each passing moment, his pounding heart relented a little more, siphoning away a little bit of the panic that had filled him with each additional beat.
The familiar shadows of his sleeping quarters illuminated by a single, dim candle began to take shape: the script table, the thick, blocky form of the wooden battle armoire, the square, black hole of the window that revealed the dark landscape of the Amber Forest and the mountain range concealing the Dread Lands beyond. He looked upon it all with desperation, pleading that this was reality, and not the fading phantasm. A look at the wall to his right revealed a comforting sight: the family paladin displaying the colors of deep blue and dull maze, as useful a shield as it was a decoration. Crisscrossed beneath it were the two squire blades, resembling the warblades in their construction: long, cylindrical shafts protruding from guarded handles, with razor-sharp tips measuring the length and width of Kainyn’s own hand at their ends. And though the weapons did not possess the energy capabilities of true Fyryn warblades, they served their purposes well enough in combat. The sight of the cutting instruments brought some relief to the Fyryn youth; he knew well enough how to handle them, and could cut through any nightmare in a single, swift stroke.
A frantic series of booms came against the door, followed by an explosion of light as it opened. Two feline-like bipeds stood there, one considerably taller than the other. The shorter one held a liquid lamp in her hand, casting a comforting glow upon her crimson-stained face.
“Kainyn?” she asked. “Are you alright?”
“Y—Yes, mother,” Kainyn replied, nodding. “A bad dream, nothing more.”
“Are you sure, son?” asked the taller Fyryn. Even with low volume, the voice seemed to boom through the room. “Do you require anything? Food or drink, perhaps?”
“No, Father. Thank you.”
The two inspecting Beings looked at each other, then back at him. “Very well,” said Father. “We’ll be taking leave to our chambers, if you need nothing else.”
“Would you like us to post Eravin outside your room?” Mother offered. “He can assist you if you require anything else.”
Kainyn shook his head. The old family servant would scale a mountain if Father and Mother ordered it, as much from love as from duty, but he needed his rest more than anything else, as he was far into his twilight years. “I’ll be good,” he replied. “Let Eravin have his rest. If I require anything, I’m fully capable of rising and asking, if need be.”
Mother gave him a concerned twitch. “He’ll be fine,” Father whispered, laying a paw-hand upon her shoulder. “Let us return to our sleep, my dear. We’ve much to do for tomorrow.”
The two wished him good sleep for the rest of the night.
A moment later, the closing door swallowed the room in darkness again, save for the patch of light provided by Kainyn’s candle. With reluctance, he returned to his bed and settled in, curling his body into a position not unlike the forms taken by newborn kits when nestled against their mothers.
He looked around the room one more time, searching the shadows of the room for burning eyes staring back at him. None did. Fatigue settled upon him again. He gave in.
He did not dream.