domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

Gulraj the terrible

I personally like to write about multifaceted villains. I don't like the line where the good guys are fully good and the bad guys are fully evil.

Spaulding is stubborn, disobedient and has an ulterior agenda that causes him a lot of trouble during the course of the series. He is willing to spare the lives of some of his enemies, but he will not hesitate to execute criminals or those that he considers to be incorregible villains. It could even seem odd that he spares Lord Froylan's life in two occasions despite everything the guard did to him.

Many of the heros of the novels are indeed not goody good shoes. However, I like to keep my villains interesting and even to a point, I can sort of understand why Leilandy became a villain even though I think she had no need to treat Trevilin with so much cruelty after how nice he was with her in the second book.

One villain that rises above the rest in the realm of malice is Gulraj. Tioja's half brother and the current ruler of an exiled harlequin clan, he posesses a rather powerful demonic beast that gives a huge gift to a sacrifice and then takes something equally valuable away and transfers the gift to Gulraj.

He makes a brief appearance at the end of the 6th novel as an elderly harlequin but he really shines in the unfinished 7th novel.

There are a lot of secrets from his clan that abandoned Almjarhad several centuries ago and the 7th book begins to show some of them. He is indeed a terrifying villain but he's at the same time somewhat charismatic albeit in a very different way from Froylan and has his own agenda.

While the couple would seems beyond terrifying, I almost kind of like a Gulraj-Hama couple. Hama would never willingly marry him, but I do enjoy drawing them together. When I have the free time, I wish to start drawing the cover of the 7th novel Harlequins with the two of them together in full attire in Photoshop.

I hope to continue writing the unfinished novel and someday hopefully finally publish it.

Are you interested in starting to read this series?

Get a free copy of a preview of the first novel HERE.

Read the first novel of An Ominous Book on Amazon and Goodreads. My book is continuously getting 4 stars reviews!

viernes, 9 de junio de 2017

I just watched the new Wonder Woman film

This isn't officially a movie review blog, but given I sometimes post random posts, I'll just take the chance to place a few comments about this Hollywood flick.

Hollywood has wanted to release a Wonder Woman film for quite some time and it was around 2012 when they were very close to doing just that with an unknown actress. However, between the cinema failures of Elektra and Halle Berry's horrid Catwoman film, releasing a movie of a powerful female comic book character was too risky. It also didn't help that fans didn't like the costume all that much.

In all fairness, the actress wasn't a bad cast, but the costume looked more like something you'd see in Comic-Con. I guess this was going to be a dud.

Regarding the new film where we got to see tidbits of Gal's character in that boring Batman vs Superman movie, I think Gal was well cast for the character. Whatever political opinions you have of her, I think her acting was quite suiting for the character and her more buky frame really gave her the title of a real world Amazoness. Let's face it, Hollywood is full of actors and musicians with political ideas that I don't really agree with yet that doesn't mean I'll just want to ban everything. However there are limits. Madonna's little tirade regarding burning down the White House when as far as I know she isn't even a US citizen didn't seem to be all that funny to me.

I'm not so sure about Chris Pine's character. He isn't exactly the most versatile or talented of actors and his character just seemed to be there saying the lines and enjoying the $$$. I found his character to be rather forgettable and it weakened the amusement factor of the film. Putting aside his acting, I also question what is going on with the character.

Okay, so he wants to save Europe from a mustard gas attack (just isolate atropine and inject yourself with a milligram of it!). He's a spy and loves England (Chris is so miscast in this role that it was hard to believe he was supposed to be a British national. I saw this film dubbed to spanish so I have no idea if his accent is convincing, but I'm rather certain it wasn't). The guy also shows up in an island that is not only inhabited by lots of available women of reproductive age, none of the inhabitants know about War World I. While delivering a crypted chemical recipe book to his army might seem compelling, most normal guys that are weary of war would probably just say, screw the army, I'm going to live in this magical island that is inhabited by lots of lusty women. Yet he just doesn't seem to care about Wonder Woman's affection or anything. What a weird male lead.

The token sidekick characters try to be funny, but they don't beat Mr. Marcus from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Heck, Henry Jones that was played by Sean Connery only stains a soldier's face with ink and scares some pigeons and yet he killed more enemies than the sidekicks in this film did. They could have killed all of the supporting characters and the plot wouldn't have hurt.

I liked Gal's acting and the way her character is a mixture between confidence and naïvety of the nature of mankind, but this is one of those movies where the villains are far more interesting characters than the good guys. I was infinitely more curious to know why chemical woman with crappy mask and her love buddy, Mr. angry German soldier toss some mustard gas into a meeting room and run off like they were playing a childish prank. How did they meet? Do they love eachother or just chaos? I cared more about them than the good guys.

The movie has a sort of uneven pace. Lots of boring filler talking scenes alternated with some battle scenes that are either rather well done and others with so much CGI that they look cartoonish instead of awesome. The movie would have been more impressive if the battle CGI was toned down and the battles more realistic. They seemed too clean with a plastic covering. Nothing to do with the grittiness of Saving Private Ryan.

There are some nice scenes going on that make it a mildly enjoyable movie, but the boring scenes were so boring I ended up playing with my cellphone. Might be worth it for the eye candy as a rental. I'll give the inevitable sequel the value of the doubt.


sábado, 3 de junio de 2017

A new Lord Damantin drawing

Once again, I'll make a quick post. Lord Damantin is a popular character from my book series yet I have relatively few drawings of him (I have more drawings of the series protagonist Spaulding).

I love to paint a completely blank canvas with Photoshop but you have no idea the amount of hours it takes to make a drawing out of scratch with the program. The protrait of the third novel Exile featuring Lord Froylan was rather easy to do but other drawings took me ages and ages because the proportions of the body were just weird and it's a pain in the rear to fix things (please recall I am not a graphics designer and what little I know about Photoshop, I learned on my own with trial and error).

I'd love to have more drawings of my fantasy book series, but time constraints makes that impossible. I stumbled a few months ago into an awesome online program called paintschainer that allows you to colorize images, but the program chooses whatever colors it feels like and any attempt to recolorize the image seems to worsen things.

It's awesome that Paintschainer has aligned itself with another Japanese website and it not only colorizes your drawing, it adds basic yet critical elements of Photoshop. Layers, layer style, resizing, layer visibility in %, erase tool, select color tool and more colors to choose from.

While it's not even remotely as powerful as photoshop and it doesn't include a select tool meaning the edges of my image were erased in order to make the Japanese house background visible, I'm quite amazed with this program's simplicity and the fact that I can colorize an image with whatever background I feel like within less than 1 hour.

I am definitely going to continue using this program and will be uploading more artwork whenever I am inspired or have the free time. Given the insane pressure oven cooker that my current job is, I desperately need a healthy outlet and this is helping me a little to release the steam.

The original hand drawn image.

The awesome magic of an automatic digital colorization tool and a nifty Japanese house background to set the mood. Trevilin was always fond of the epic awesomeness that is Lord Damantin from the special moment the two elves meet eachother in the 5th novel A Calamity and after joining the Äimite guard, it's only natural they would spend a lot of time together in National Palace.

If you have read the books, you'll eventually realize Trevilin keeps his black hair shorter than before after the events in the 5th novel and leaves it medium length. I think the only screw up in the drawing is the fact that the neck scar isn't shown on the colorized drawing.

domingo, 28 de mayo de 2017

A hidden facet of Lord Damantin

Lord Damantin is indeed a really awesome character in An Ominous Book. Quite frankly I have no idea how he popped up. It's like, in which moment of my life could I have ever concieved such an awesome character? When I was writing the scene where he appears in Diaspora (he briefly appears in the 3rd novel Exile but I have already mentioned in an earlier post that I am a really weird person and the first book of this series that I wrote was Diaspora), I wanted to prove to Spaulding that not only was the exiled elf clan really bizarre and "different" from the rest, I wanted the clan to have a member that was beyond amazing. Strong, excellent in sorcery and fencing, handsome, brave, noble, a unique yet entrancing personality and pretty much all-around awesome.

I was in my bedroom one Saturday morning just typing in a hurried frenzy with a tad too many Red Bulls and the second it came to naming this unique character, I sort of recalled that villanous character in Sailor Moon R for a brief instant and the name Damantin simply appeared on the keyboard. I blinked for a moment and realized that the name was just so suitable for this new character that I kept it.

For weeks I was imagining the amazing scene where Damantin summons his demonic beast and it was a huge joy when I finally went around to writing it. The Arcana has the unique shape of a floating eyeball with elongated red and blue eyelashes that resemble tentacles. The beast can shoot energy beams with a potentially inifite amount of destructive power, the capacity of carrying passengers (albeit Damantin uses this ability as a last resort because he feels pain whenever something touches the ultra sensitive eyeball) and the huge military advantage of long distance espionage that doesn't require Damantin to be in full meditation.

Whereas normal beasts require the user to be in meditation to engage in long distance espionage, Damantin's unique ability allows him to verbally relay what the Arcana is seeing in real time. Yet another reason why Froylan was so desperate to invite him to join the guard.

Damantin has many facets that are hard to discern at first sight. However, one of them that intrigues me the most is his love life. He somewhat admitted to have slept with random women (given he has visited a pirate haven named Yurtoda Bay, it isn't out of the possibility that he's visited a brothel or two during his long lifetime), but has Damantin ever really loved a woman before?

One of the more peculiar scenes of A Calamity (book 5 of the series) is when he wakes up fully nude in a bed alongside a very attractive female guard named Kerfalmin. She drugged him and they slept together (albeit Damantin has no memories of what happened). While he was expectedly very upset, he later on bumps into her in Richard's castle in Ayrtain dressed in his clan's robes and she rudely slaps his face and insults him. At that moment, a spark appeared in his heart and he started to harbor feelings for the arrogant guard.

While we discover in the 6th novel Quandary that their relationship fizzled with few hopes of them getting back together, I thought this drawing would be fun to make because it's an aspect of Damantin that is seldom seen in the novels.

I hope you enjoyed it although Damantin never kisses Kerfalmin wearing his clan robes in the story!

sábado, 27 de mayo de 2017

A new Trevilin drawing

I feel a bit frustrated that I currently don't have enough free time to devote to drawing the characters of An Ominous Book using Photoshop. I did this quickie Trevilin drawing and I'm mostly pleased with the result.

Trevilin's neck becomes badly burned halfway into the first novel and he begins to cover the ugly scar with a velvet collar. I'd like to assume this is what he wears when he rests in Tindenfarel Palace when he's not working as a ranger.

I'll try to find a little chance whenever I can to draw characters from my novel series. I hope you enjoyed it.

miércoles, 24 de mayo de 2017

I hate Kaspersky Antivirus

In the era of archtypical 3 second attention span of a millennial and the upbringing where my generation grew up expecting every company to treat its customers like a king such as Amazon (whereas companies that treat customers like crap such as Blockbuster ran out of business), you'd think companies would learn from Amazon.

I mean, it's just the 6th most powerful and wealthy company in the world.

And yet once again because I suffer from something beyond agravvating to my limited patience every year, I wanted to vent my frustration somewhere. Kaspersky Antivirus is a really great antivirus program but the customer service of the company is worse than crap. If you have had a good experience with kaspersky, maybe it's because it's less gawdawful in the country of your residence. I'm specifically focusing on the Latin American website where the code of law is: we don't care about customer satisfaction, give us your money.

Last year I downloaded the total security program where it supposedly has more bells and whistles and included a discounted Android protection service for 2 years. The software worked fine and when the code expired, I did autorenewal from within the program.

Lo and behold! Kaspersky is such a "brilliant" company that they sold me an activation code for a much cheaper and less artsy fartsy  antivirus program from their repertoire. I didn't buy this code from the internet website, I did it from their total security software. You'd think as a company if you had a client that was willing to fork 49 USD for a fancier program, you'd sell them the 49 USD program.

Oh, but not Kaspersky! They sold me the cheaper 24 USD regular antivirus. I thought the cheaper price was a client loyalty coupon code.

So I purchase without knowing a new code for the "wrong" program without realizing Kaspersky has like 40 gazillion  "slightly" different antivirus programs that have almost the exact same software name. Obviously the fancy smancy program didn't accept the activation code and I was left without an antivirus for over 10 days without understanding WTF is going on.

I need my computer for my employment and I can't be without a computer just because a company like Kaspersky sucks so bad.

10 days passed and I was expectedly riled. I asked a coworker from my job what is a fast way to get my voice heard when it came to complaining about crappy customer service and she suggested me to open a twitter account. Before that day, I never even bothered to visit that website, I never cared about it but I followed her advice and created my current account and started spamming Kaspersky with hate messages.

After fighting online for hours, I finally grabbed a hold of someone from the company that realized they sold me the cheaper antivirus program and sent me a link to download it. I managed to get a functional antivirus on my computer but it left a really awful spoiled flavor in my mouth. I mean, I spent $ for almost 2 weeks of an antivirus service that the company didn't want to pay me back or anything from no fault of mine.

This is the kind of piss poor customer service that made many companies end up bankrupt. And now, I wanted to take advantage of a 30% discount for renewal and once again, the activation code the company gave to me seems to be utterly worthless. I just hate this!

I am going to have to bow my head to the crap Kaspersky overlords because 22 usd is 22 usd, but I swear! 2018 I'm changing antivirus company. One company that offers a good program that doesn't treat its customers like crap. I always had a good experience with ESET, I might go back with them.

Kaspersky SUCKS!

domingo, 21 de mayo de 2017

An update of the unfinished 7th novel

It has been ages, but I finally wrote a whopping 1000 new words of the unfinished 7th novel of An Ominous Book, Harlequins.

I had been in a writers block for months regarding this novel. 70% of the draft has been written including the surprising ending, but the prelude to the final battle evaded me. I am glad to say I wrote a connecting scene and brushed a little text of some other scenes.

The exciting final battle hasn't been written yet where we will get to see Gulraj cause some long awaited havoc but this written scene is sure a huge help.

I don't know when I'll have some free time to continue writing, but maybe I will get to finish this novel before 2017 ends afterall.

In the meanwhile, there's 6 published novels that are still more than sufficient time to keep you busy while I continue finding scant moments to write and finish the elusive 7th novel.

Cheers everyone!

You will someday get to read Hama's adventures!

sábado, 20 de mayo de 2017

An Ominous Book giveaway

Have you been reading my blog and felt interest in giving An Ominous Book a chance but you would prefer to read it in paperback?

I'm running a giveaway that is offering a rare autographed copy of the first book in the series. You just have to sign up and cross your finger you might be the lucky one that is chosen!

Feel free to tell everyone you know to sign up for the contest as well. It will run until June 15th 2017.

Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

An Ominous Book by Nancy Foster

An Ominous Book

by Nancy Foster

Giveaway ends June 15, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

martes, 16 de mayo de 2017

Character profile: Lord Froylan, a despised villain (part 1)

Name: Lord Froylan
Race: Elf
Associated Clan: Igitur
Birthday: April 20th
Bloodtype: B
Sorcery: Fire
Phantom Beast: Levanant (resembles a two tailed lizard that is constantly enveloped by flames)
Occupation: Commander of the Äimite guard/Former convict/Former criminal/Former shepard
Known relatives: He murdered his entire family for unknown reasons

An elf with a hardened demeanor that causes a strong impression wherever he goes, Froylan is one of the main antagonists of An Ominous Book and also the character I enjoy writing about the most in the series.

Froylan doesn't make his grand appearance until the final third of An Ominous Book, but his name is repeated on several occasions creating a great buildup when the reader finally gets to meet him. And it's quite a sight! Tall, muscular build, attractive yet his face is hardened and cold, he always wears his medium length light blonde hair in a ponytail and parades everywhere with a short black cape.

Many characters in the series including Spaulding like to secretly make fun of his ridiculous cape, but Froylan causes such a strong sense of respect out of fear of his cruelty that nobody would ever dare say it to his face.

Froylan greets Spaulding with contempt on his face one late summer night when Lord Pieran brings him, Nelida and Herb to King Salman's palace. The guard mocks Spaulding's cuestionably poor taste of attire and forcibly invites him to ride on his Levanant to National Palace. While Froylan directs Spaulding to his assigned gustroom to rest before the morning meeting the following day, he takes every chance he can get to aggravate Spaulding sufficiently in the hopes he would have an excuse to arrest him. He even goes so far as making fun of Trevilin's misfortune but Spaulding shows sufficient restraint much to his disappointment.

The following morning, the three children are finally reunited and get to see beforehand the Elf King in his throne room during an official meeting. Like always, Froylan stands by his Master's side as his most trusted bodyguard and adviser. Spaulding is soon invited into the throne room and Froylan relishes the excruciating moment a guard punches Spaulding in the stomach as punishment for skipping the annual festival without a suitable excuse.

However, before Froylan could enjoy the sight of Spaulding's arrest, Master Lord Salman decides to punish him with poverty and unemployment for 10 years which causes him to lose his temper and protest. Salman doesn't relent and forces him to agree to the condition and allowing Spaulding to return to his castle in Tesafar with the three children for 6 months.

Several days later, Spaulding is discharged from the palace infirmary and greets Salman in a private guestroom where Froylan is patiently awaiting with an unsigned edict. Without showing any emotion, he delivers the scroll to Spaulding who signs it allowing his clan to be paid a decreased dowry in exchange for helping the children to return home with their nobility titles intact. The second Salman signs the edict; Froylan grabs the scroll and leaves the room without ushering any words.

The following day, Spaulding and the children are ready to return to Tesafar but Froylan takes the opportunity to mock the obstinate hero of the story and inform him that he was going to personally bring the children back to Ayrtain. Spaulding was disappointed by the plan but tried to remain polite with the guard.

6 months later, Froylan arrives with an annoyed look on his face hoping the two week trip to the border with the children would soon end. At this point it starts to be become fairly obvious that even though Froylan is the most feared and respected citizen of the Elf Kingdom after Master Lord Salman, the Elf King occasionally orders him to perform duties he is morally against but he obliges nonetheless. After exchanging some extra insults with Spaulding, Froylan leaves the city with the three children.

The following summer, Spaulding is forced to visit National Palace for the summer festival and he is greeted by Salman and Froylan. Spaulding is invited to a guestroom where Froylan eagerly burns two letters that were written by Richard and Herb in front of the distressed elf's face. As part of the conditions of his punishment, whenever the children wrote letters to Spaulding, the guard is obliged to confiscate all correspondence and Froylan was tasked with burning the letters in front of his face.

While this sounds terrible enough, Froylan becomes even worse in the second novel Separation.

Are you curious enough to get to meet Lord Froylan and see if he is as evil as he seems? Get a preview copy of An Ominous Book HERE.

Some other time, I'll continue with Froylan's character profile with his many appearances in the sequel books.

sábado, 13 de mayo de 2017

Militaries and Fantasy or How to Build an Army

Militaries and Fantasy or How to Build an Army

Military history is a bear. Humans have been fighting each other longer than history can record. It is an overwhelming subject, and a two-thousand word article cannot possibly do justice to it all.
Military bodies are diverse. There are millions of ways an army can be organized, and its effectiveness is valid as long as it works to counter whatever opposition it encounters. Therefore, to add substance to any military organization, a world creator should focus on the macro aspects before deciding on how many men are in a regiment or how range attacks and foot soldiers are combined into a single fighting unit. This is the one area in worldbuilding where starting from the bottom will not work.
When designing an army, outline the following aspects before delving too much into the details.
Here is where mission statements and codes of honor come into play. Militaries are created to either conquer other lands or defend its own. A military can undoubtedly do both, but essentially one takes precedence. An army that is designed for offensive campaigns and conquest does not need to be evil. The need for water and land resources is a powerful driver for men to rise forth and do battle.
The great kingdoms began when a single warlord, general, king or leader managed to unite multiple clans or tribes (Alfred the Great, Clovis, Genghis Khan). These great consolidated forces were often the result of conquest, but not always. Forces would constantly unite for a common cause.
Normally, when creating a world, the military is already set as an established institution to provide the attack or defensive power that governments and communities need. However, if there is an emerging nation or civilization in place, a military body should evolve alongside it.
Law enforcement and security entourages are types of armies. A group of soldiers can be worldly veterans, or they can be town guards. An army should have clear delineations. It would make sense for soldiers to police a new colony while laws are revised and any resistance or unrest is quelled, but consider carefully whether it makes sense for a king’s regiment stationed outside the walls of a strategic town to have to leave their posts to chase down a mugger. It is not unheard of for soldiers to pull this kind of double duty, but the area of responsibility should be established somehow. Otherwise armies and law enforcement will become simple generic fillers.
I know I mentioned before that specifics are not important when designing an army, but the sourcing and manning of armies should be addressed. Is the army a group of professional soldiers or is conscription in place? What is the quality of life for these fighters? Do the soldiers get paid well? Do they get paid at all? How easy is it to stockpile and replace weapons? How are the armies fed, and who shoulders the cost? How do soldiers train for battle? Use these questions to add the details needed to portray the strengths or weaknesses of your armies.
As an overall guideline, armies should have the latest and greatest technology of the era. If gunpowder has been discovered, cannons should be part of the weapons cache. If the concept of flight is known, the military should have mechanical airpower at their disposal. Unless there is clear strife between the military and scientific (or magical) communities, cutting edge weapons and equipment should be in the hands of the armies. That being said, this rule-of-thumb does not apply to special magical weapons and artifacts, since these special objects are the seeds of the fantasy genre formula.
This is possibly the most important factor for determining the effectiveness of an army. This is usually based on the purpose for the army, but it is not the same thing. Military philosophy can be a complicated subject, but it can also define the military body. The overall behavior of a fighting force reflects the underlying philosophy that drives these soldiers to do battle. Consider the following three questions:
Is this army evil or good? To most of us, world domination is seen as an evil concept. It can be argued that mankind would benefit from a single leader or government, but the very thought seems to threaten our concept of liberty and human rights. But true evil runs deeper than simply conquering nations. Overtaking a city in order to spread ideology or partake in its resources does not make an army evil, since they are only doing their jobs. Rejoicing in the suffering of a town while raping it and razing it to the ground, however, does.
How does this army value life? Are civilians to be respected and protected or are they nothing more than a resource to be used? What happens to the vanquished? Are they kept as prisoners? Are they disarmed and released to fend for themselves? Do they become slaves? Or are they killed off like a colony of pests?
What is the meaning of honor? Codes of honor are the unwritten rules of a soldier. Honor dictates behavior, sportsmanship, loyalty, and teamwork. When a group of people follows a common set of rules, it allows for better communication, a strong esprit-de-corps, and method of self-discipline that allows for better empowerment within regiments and units.
The great thing about magic is that it is the source of energy for the creation or execution of fantastical things. Magic does not require much explanation as compared to, say, science and technology. Star Trek used many respected scientific theories as the foundation of their futuristic technology. If something does not make sense to readers, they will have a hard time suspending disbelief. Fantasy and science fiction readers are generally pretty savvy when it comes to science and modern technology. It takes much more logical explanations to draw in a reader of science fiction. But magic does not need to be explained in depth. It’s magic!
But because magic does not exist in our reality, there is nothing to use as a historical basis for an army of necromancers or conjurers. Any kind of strategy for magical attacks and defenses can only be gleaned from the imagination of a great fantasy writer. There is nothing that can prove or disprove the effectiveness of magic in battle. Can the fireball of a high-level caster melt a stone wall? We would not think that likely in real life, but in a fantasy world there is nothing to disprove the power of a wizard mighty enough to create the heat needed to melt stone. The only limitation is a writer’s ability to have the reader suspend disbelief.
So with that in mind, why does magic seem to take a back seat when it does to warfare in fantasy settings? Why does magical power appear to be the last resort in the climax of a multi-book saga? I read a lot about magical swords and rings and flying horses and great eagles that serve as cavalry. I have read several stories where dragons are steeds or sources of magic not to be trifled with. I have read about magical schools; I have even used this premise myself. I have read about a small group of magic-users embedded in mundane fighter units. I have also read about bold adventurers soaring through the skies on a flying beast, jousting and dog-fighting with an opponent in an aerial duel that the loser really should not be able to survive.
But I can’t recall reading about a battlefield with fireballs and lightning bolts flying back and forth in precise tactical patterns, with some neutralized by waterballs or rendered harmless by magical shields protecting the casters as they frantically wave their hands to defend their ground. I can’t think of a story where battalions are appearing and disappearing, teleporting from one flank to another, making the war zone look like a strange game of Chinese checkers as they shoot volleys of magic missiles at groups that teleport out of danger to a more strategic spot. Maybe I am just reading the wrong books. If anyone knows of a fantasy book or series that deals with magical warfare in depth, I would love to find out about them.
I have an idea regarding the answer to the above question. Just because magic exists in a world does not mean that magical armies must be established in that world. There can be very good reasons why magical armies are so rare. Magic in itself could be an extreme rarity, thereby limiting the ability to form and train a magical fighting unit. Handling magic, such as the need to memorize a spell to perform a single cast or the incredible amount of concentration needed to execute a spell, can create considerable constraints. There could be treaties in place forbidding the use of magic in battle. There could be a much more convenient way for countries to win wars. So it is not unrealistic not to have magical armies. It is just not very common to read about magical warfare.
Psychic powers are a fantasy attribute, but the subject seems to work better in the paranormal segment. The fantasy genre mainly focuses on these five main psychic areas:
Telepathy – The ability to read and control minds and sense emotions. This can be as basic as spying on someone’s thoughts or as deadly as disabling all cognitive function and rendering the target a simpleton. A psychic can also use telepathy to perform illusion tricks.
Telekinesis – The ability to move and control objects. Great for ballistic attacks.
Teleportation – The ability to transfer oneself from one location to another. This can also apply to different planes, worlds, dimensions or whatever. A good offensive use of this field is to banish enemies or even summon otherworldly monsters. Spiritual traveling (astral projection) can be classified as a subfield of teleportation. A more accurate term for this would be psychoportation, but it is still a form of teleportation, just not in a physical sense.
Psychometabolism – The ability to heal or harm living things. This can also include metabolic enhancements, such as increased strength or cold or heat resistance.
Divination (Clairvoyance) – The ability to predict the future and see or scry events taking place far away, or even at a different time or dimension. It is a great reconnaissance tool.
ESP should fall within this area since it is that sixth sense which allows a psychic to perceive things that non-psychics can’t. But my own divination powers tell me that many would disagree and place ESP under the telepathy field. It is a sound argument, but I don’t fully agree with it.
It goes without saying that one or two powerful psychics can easily develop the ability to destroy an army unassisted. But a good way to design psychic warfare is to compare it to how the Internet influences the world today. A single click can send a message to millions instantly. Charismatic leaders and movement champions are currently using social media much like a psychic would reach the minds of the masses. Machines and infrastructure grids are controlled online over wireless connections. Countering a psychic army can consist of mental ‘hackers’ who can disrupt and disable psychic connections, steal valuable information and communications, and at the very worst, erase the mind of the psychic, temporarily or permanently.

Sadly, war and conquest is part of our nature, and we have yet to evolve to the point where our intellect and our appreciation for human life and peaceful coexistence is able to overcome our instinct to fight those who differ in looks, values and spiritual beliefs. There are still many problems we need to figure out how to solve. But hopefully we will eventually get there.

I'm reposting a really excellent article that was posted regarding the creation of a military faction in a fantasy series. An Ominous Book places a huge amount of interest in its combined military.

Basically the Elf Kingdom's defense system is divided into three parts: Local civilian military that can have their own distinctive uniform and protect the designated lands of their clan, rangers and Äimite guards.

We get to briefly know the city guards of Tindenfarel that wear distinctive blue uniforms in the first book. It's hinted early in the story that not all clans have foot soldiers. The Kasimma Clan doesn't seem to have an organized defense force because of the remote geography of its capital Tesafar and the diminute size of the clan. The Kasimma Clan barely has 5000 members and only a handful of them (such as Spaulding and Hamarin) are sufficiently powerful mages.

Rangers are the most common law enforcement organization in the nation. As Spaulding has mentioned in the first novel, if you have decent fencing and sorcery skills, pretty much any elf can train to become a ranger. While it isn't unheard of to see nobleelves become rangers, Spaulding is probably the only incumbent clan leader to become a ranger. Under usual circunstances, he should have never been granted permission because his clan doesn't have other blood related nobleelves to cover for his duties, but King Salman granted him an exception because he is a rare dual mage.

What do rangers do? They work a few months each year patrolling the uninhabited forests in a specific region of the country to ensure there aren't common criminals. They usually engage in armed combat against ordinary human criminals that cannot use magic, but they might face elves that unanimously are capable of using sorcery on occasion. If they have a hard time defeating a criminal, they can ask their supervisor Äimite guard that is always a captain to lend them a hand.

Occasionally, rangers of exceptional talent and work ethic can be invited to the Äimite guard by higher ranked guard. It's also one of the reasons why elves join the ranger army because it gives them a chance to hone and prove their skills in the hopes of being invited to the prestigious guard. If an elf no longer enjoys being a ranger, they can quit the profession anytime. They are paid money for each month they are on service. There are approximately 20,000 rangers although not all of them are on duty at a given time. They usually work in the same geographic region each time they are on duty.

The third army of my series is the prominent Äimite guard. The Elf King's private army and personal security force has less than 4000 members but they always stir a lot of attention wherever they go. Always dressed in a monotomous black uniform, they evoke fear and respect from the civilians and become guards for the rest of their lives with absolute loyalty to the incumbent king. Higher ranked guards such as captains are the only ones that can invite new members although the Elf King can write a reccomendation letter.

Joining the guard is a permanent duty albeit they have an initial 4 month boot camp where they will either select or discard potential candidates. If a candidate has second thoughts about joining the guard, they can purposely fail the training and be released from this commitment. However, once they perform the oath, they will be executed for desertion if they attempt to leave it. There are dozens of tidbits of information about the guard that are scattered all over the novels making it a very diverse and effective army with dozens of varying tasks.

martes, 9 de mayo de 2017

I just got yet another 4 star review of my books!

This is being a really exciting time even though I'm not writing nearly as much as I used to. I just got yet another 4 star review for the second installment of An Ominous Book "Separation".

Book Synopsis:

Richard and Spaulding have both survived the disaster that befell Ayrtain without knowing what has become of the other party. Richard embattles with the overwhelming news that with the exception for his sister and a distant cousin named Leilandy, his entire family is deceased for unknown reasons.

Spaulding on the other hand is enduring a grueling ordeal of his own. Encountered by a group of rangers in the western fringes of his nation just a few days after the incident, Salman and Froylan have him indefinitely imprisoned in an abandoned castle under the constant watch of Lord Eufurel in the hopes he confesses what happened to the Ayrtainian royal family.  After realizing escape is futile, Spaulding must now ponder whether he must accept Salman's offer to liberate him with the condition that he joins the guard he detests so much without knowing that Nelida is capable of annihilating both nations for good.

Separation is the darkest of the 6 novels yet I tried to have some cheerful moments added in the story as well. I'm very excited to get yet another 4 star review and hope readers will give my elf fantasy series a chance.

Check it out on Amazon.

jueves, 4 de mayo de 2017

An awesome fantasy book contest: SPFBO 2017

I have just signed up for an awesome fantasy book contest that is still accepting entries called the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2017. It's really awesome that this contest doesn't charge a fee to participate and while there are no monetary awards, the fact that your book will be prominently displayed in 10 fantasy blogs with guaranteed reviews and foot traffic is tempting enough.

An Ominous Book part 1 is participating in this contest and who knows? Maybe it will win an award! You never know.

If you know someone that has self published a fantasy book and you're interested in participating, click HERE.



An Ominous Book has been accepted in this contest and people are starting to vote for it.

I hope you give it a chance!

Confirmation Blog post

miércoles, 3 de mayo de 2017

Master Lord Salman, a terrifying villain of An Ominous Book

Salman, a notable villain:

If you have read An Ominous Book, it becomes clear halfway in the book that Lord Spaulding detests the Elf King for unexplained reasons (the motive is explained in the second book Separation). Richard and Nelida are equally confused with Spaulding's attitude whereas Trevilin becomes riled by Spaulding's percieved rudeness.

It seems like everyone in the Elf Kingdom either deeply respects Master Lord Salman or in the very least, they fear his wrath. When Richard is rescued by Seiran from armed bandits in the first book, he is brought to Salman's palace who interviews him immediately.

Salman does his best to remain affable with the orphaned human who harbors a positive impression of the immortal that has ruled his nation for more than 2000 years (his age is currently unknown). Salman tries his earnest to ensure most citizens believe he is a just and merciful ruler. Seiran is dutifully loyal to him and the motive is soon revealed in the second book.

However, Salman's true colors briefly show when he orders his guards to punch Spaulding in the stomach in front of everyone during a meeting in his throne room. Whereas Richard, Seiran and Nelida are fearful, Herb begins to harbor a secret hatred for the cruel king.

Spaulding doesn't relent. He tries his earnest to remain polite to the king he has offended and after being punished with poverty and unemployment, Spaulding takes advantage of Salman's relentless ego and manages to convince him to bring the three children to Tesafar for a few months while Salman's servants manage to repatriate them to Ayrtain.

Whereas Salman seems like a pompous antagonist with genuine motives why he is mean to Spaulding, his cruelty jumps a few notches in the second book Separation.

After a mortally wounded Spaulding is brought to his palace in the brink of time by Lord Kerva and a ranger named Derhara, Salman orders Dezan to save Spaulding's life at all costs and even forces him to perform an experimental blood transfusion. A huge breadcrumb is revealed in this powerful scene. Salman eagerly offered to be a blood donor with the certainity that his blood would be compatible.

Why would Salman offer to risk his health for a regional ruler that openly detests him?

It seems like there is more to Salman than initially thought and Froylan instantly growls because he knows the truth.

Separation is a book where we get to know more about the series's first real villain and Salman is not only cunning but cruel. We already know he shows a profound interest in Spaulding's rare sorcery and even hints that it would have been nice that Spaulding considered joining the Äimite guard. But after Spaulding appears in his palace that fateful day with sepsis just a few days after the tragedy that befell Ayrtain, Salman makes his move.

Froylan wants to discover if Spaulding had anything to do with the disaster that befell Ayrtain just as much as Salman, but whereas Froylan was willing to retain Spaulding in National Palace until he confessed everything, Salman had an even better idea.

When Spaulding wakes up in a dark stone room with only Ciedel as his company, he begins an agonizing 4 1/2 years of imprisonment inside of an abandoned castle without any clues as to where Salman was holding him or why he was taking such lengths to keep him trapped under the never-ending surveillance of his guards.

Salman begins a mind game with Spaulding and hopes Lord Eufurel breaks Spaulding's relentless spirit in order to force him to join the guard. We eventually discover some other hidden secrets about Salman in the 3rd book Exile and they are indeed surprising.

I haven't had the chance to make a full-fledged colored drawing of Salman with Photoshop due to time constraints. I am certainly interested in drawing him seated on his throne alongside his ever loyal servant Lord Froylan. He's a terrifying villain yet it seems Spaulding is the only character that sees him for what he truly is.

In the meanwhile, I hastily made this drawing to give readers an idea of what Salman looks like.


domingo, 30 de abril de 2017

May Spellcaster Free Book Giveaway

My book An Ominous Book is participating in another massive free ebook promo being launched by author A.J. Martinez.

You might want to check this event out by clicking HERE.

If you choose to download a free copy of An Ominous Book, how about writing a review on Amazon and Goodreads?

Book reviews are pivotal to gain attention from readers and every indie author will tell you that both reviews and word of mouth are needed for that. Even if the review is really awful (so far the majority of my book's reviews have been 4 stars which just proves most people have enjoyed my book), it will attract much needed attention.

Amazon US

Cheers everyone and happy reading!

jueves, 27 de abril de 2017

A lot of people are enjoying Exile

I feel ecstatic that despite being a mere preview, a lot of people have shown interest in the 3rd Ominous Book Series novel Exile and downloaded it.

What is the plot of the third book?

It's sort of like a road trip where three characters begin a long voyage to find what they have been looking for.

King Richard was forced to flee Ayrtain along with his servant Vincent and reaches the Red Clan of the Elf Kingdom in order to train his nascent sorcery with the mysterious mortal elf Lord Yu. He later on begins a tireless journey to locate Lord Spaulding.

Spaulding is living in exile as well. Tortured and forced to live in isolation in a maximum security prison for nearly 5 years, he flees to the Garardmarjin territory and encounters a strange woman named Isadora that falls in love with him. With the Elf King deceased, Spaulding only has a few months at the most to fulfill a mission he set for himself during his imprisonment before the Äimite guard tracks him down.

The villainous Lord Froylan has his own agenda. Humilliated and enraged that King Salman was murdered, he is counting the days before the sacred National Ring chooses the new Elf King in order to avenge Spaulding. Little does he know that things don't turn out the way he expected and he must form an unlikely alliance with Richard to save the Elf Kingdom from chaos.

Whereas the 2nd book Separation is grim and dark, Exile retakes the adventure elements that I love from my fantasy series and explore things from the characters. Some prior issues are resolved whereas a whole new can of worms open with huge consequences in the sequel books.

Interested in an exciting epic fantasy with lots of adventure, intrigue and magic?

Why not download a preview of Exile and see for yourself why people have been giving favorable reviews of An Ominous Book?

Read a preview of An Ominous Book #3 Exile HERE.


sábado, 22 de abril de 2017

Measurement of time in An Ominous Book

I just read an interesting blog post titled "Ways of Measuring Time in High Fantasy". I don't specify every aspect of the planet where my story takes place, but it has 1 moon, the year lasts 365 days and has a similar climate to Earth.

Elves don't measure months the same as humans, but they use two interchangeable systems to try to stay in the same book as the surrounding human nations to simplify things. Humans use the Gregorian calendar and elves use their own special calendar mainly for religious purposes.

If you have read my novel, you will soon realize in the second chapter that Lord Yu berates Spaulding because he has skipped the annual summer festival without a suitable excuse. This faux pass is once again mentioned by Lord Legarha who claims that if Spaulding keeps on skipping his duties as a clan leader, he will demand Lord Froylan to personally drag him to the capital kicking and screaming.

The ever ruthless King Salman is furious with Spaulding and thinks his misbehavior is a personal insult (BTW: he's right, Spaulding profoundly hates him and tries to find any excuse to avoid visiting the capital). Part of the reason why Salman punishes Spaulding with poverty and unemployment at the end of the first novel is payback for the percieved slight.

Things get even more reprehensible in the second novel where Salman takes advantage of Spaulding's disobedience and orders Eufurel to viciously flog him 30 times in front of the other 34 clan leaders to both humilliate him for skipping the festival 30 years in a row and to instill fear in the most politically powerful citizens of the nation.

The Elvish calendar is copied from the Aztec and Mayan calenadar which in fact has two calendars: a lunar 260 day calendar and a solar 360 day calendar. The final 5 days are the "no time" void days and the Aztecs had a really interesting 5 day New Year ritual. There is a small museum on top of Cerro de la Estrella in Iztapalapa Mexico City that explains how the Aztecs celebrated their new year in that little hill. The Elvish New Year occurs on June 21st of the human calendar.

The 5 day festival has 5 religious events which are mentioned in different books of my series. Most of the events of the festival are mentioned for the first time in the 4th book Diaspora. Spaulding's favorite day is the 4th when the king greets ordinary civilians as they drink holy water in the Elf King's presence and break the cup in a cauldron for good luck. If you ever get to read Diaspora, you will notice that the book mentions what happens 3 of the 5 days and the 6th novel Quandary mentions what happens on the 2nd day inside of the hall that contains the fog of resolve.

However, I left the events of the 3rd day of the festival as a secret. I finally mention what happens on that pesky 3rd day in the unfinished 7th novel Harlequins.

As for the way elves count time, they mainly use hourglasses, astronomy and the position of the sun in the sky at varying times of the year. When Spaulding is forced to perform the daily mirror session in the 2nd novel, Eufurel counts the hours of the daily brainwashing session with the aid of an hourglass.

Clocks as we know them are a previously unknown technology.

Read the original blog post HERE.

viernes, 21 de abril de 2017

Would you like to read a preview of An Ominous Book?

If you have stumbled into my blog, you will realize it is to help promote an epic fantasy book series known as An Ominous Book.

Are you curious to read the first chapter and see if it entices your interest?

Here it is!


“I am totally against it. The idea of taking in two children I never have met before isn’t my responsibility.”
“Come on Spaulding, the kids are a delight!”
Spaulding was sitting in his study room with his arms crossed while he stared outside the window. He took a brief look at his friend who wore medium green robes and spare looking black armor as he drank rice wine with tranquility.
“Look at those savages, unkempt, poorly dressed and making a huge fuss over the architecture of my castle. Bring them back to their land and leave me alone.”
“I swear to you they are your blood relatives Spaulding!”
Spaulding stared at Trevilin with hatred. “What in the hell were you doing over in Ayrtain anyways? I understood that your deployment was going to last well into the autumn this year.”
Trevilin started to grin with confidence. He got Spaulding’s attention all right. “I was chasing a petty criminal across the border.”
Spaulding spat some wine when he heard that. “Is this a joke? You know perfectly well that we can’t cross the border without an…”
Trevilin pulled out of his robe an edict that was signed by an Äimite that guarded a nearby post. Spaulding grabbed the scroll and read it.
“Okay, this seems like a reasonable excuse to cross the border. But why in the hell did you stick around and find those savages to give to me as a gift?”
“Well Spaulding, this is the fun part. The petty criminal happened to be a trafficker that was a member of some gang that wanted to sell those poor children to a foreign land. I was doing the usual when we are in town and found the stingiest looking tavern, sat down on a chair with a few beers and waited to listen to the latest gossip.”
“Ah seedy taverns, the best place to hitch some good gossip.”
“Which is why it’s always a pleasure for me to keep my friendship with you Spaulding because you know what our field work is like.”
Spaulding tied the scroll and gave it back to the black haired elf looking slightly less upset. “Okay, so I presume some stupid humans started to yap about these two children that are from a noble family.”
“I would dare mention from a disgraced noble family my dear friend.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well, the issue is that their parents are dead. Apparently the father had some outstanding gambling debts and he didn’t want to pay. When someone murdered the father, the regional government took away the properties to be sold in an auction and the mother I believe killed herself to avoid the shame.”
“So the little boy is a nobleman without a coin in his pockets, oh the joy!” Spaulding stood up and stared at the boy with messy black hair that was arguing with his little sister from the upstairs window. His elliptically shaped pupils straightened out and noticed something was missing from the boy’s hand. “Is this some sort of joke Trevilin? The boy inherited a nobility title and he isn’t wearing a ring.”
“Well, you are just not letting me finish my tale Spaulding! Please let me continue. In the tavern I overheard a couple of humans talk about a pair of noble children being sold for very little money and they were planning on having the sale at the southeastern border. They were going to sell the boy as an indentured servant and sell the girl I presume as a prostitute or something of the sort. I didn’t care too much about the petty issues of foreigners, but when they mentioned the name of the middleman, my interest was piqued.”
“A human with an unusual name I presume.”
“You’re correct once again Spaulding. So basically I slugged the men for the fun of it once they left the tavern and they told me where I could find the criminal I was looking for. I passed off as a middleman with a carriage in the assigned meeting spot.”
“So you spent our government’s generous endowments on rented carriages? Keeping things classy like usual Trevilin.”
“Oh you know me, I have ostentatious tactics. The rest of the story is sort of boring. I killed the men, cut the right index finger of the man with a bounty on his head and sealed his bloody fingerprint on the edict and now I was stuck with two human children.”
“Go babysit them yourself! Who cares what happens to those savage creatures!”
“I wasn’t going to leave two orphaned children in the street Spaulding. As you know, I speak human with excellent fluency and I started to interview the poor kids. Turns out the little boy named Richard is from the House of Earlrose.”
“Never heard of the clan.”
Trevilin grinned because he knew Spaulding was hopelessly ignorant regarding foreign affairs.
“I found it strange that the boy was a nobleman with a veritable story that I confirmed when I checked the city auctions registry. I didn’t initially believe the boy because he didn’t have his ring.”
“Even without the ring, you could verify his account of noble birth with a registry office.”
“Which is what I did Spaulding. Turns out that from their maternal bloodline, they are the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the younger sister of your human ancestor.”
Spaulding’s face froze and he stared at Trevilin who was casually seated on a comfortable black leather chair. Spaulding rushed to him, grabbed his shoulders and stared at his face. Trevilin stared at Spaulding’s medium brown eyes and couldn’t help smiling.
“I swear on my oath as a ranger of the Elf Kingdom that those children are your distant nephew and niece.”
Spaulding stared at his eyes and realized Trevilin was speaking the truth. He slouched on his leather chair feeling stunned.
“The boy gave me detailed accounts of the names of his ancestry. Spaulding, these children are not making this up. Richard knew the entire bloodline from top to bottom. The average con artist would need the help of an adult to visit the registry office and in this case, there would be little to gain by trying to deceive you because no human knows about your hybrid ancestry.”
“My bloody mortal curse that is!”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself Spaulding. I wished I could be a mortal like you are. You are still very young but someday if you don’t die in battle, you will die peacefully in your sleep. It’s a perk that immortals such as me will never be able to enjoy. Either we die from starvation or the sword.”
“But you will be eternally young. You don’t know what it felt like seeing your father wither and die.”
Trevilin started to grunt after he heard that. “I saw your father on his deathbed and I was mightily depressed for his loss. But he managed to live a longer life than your grandfather did. With each passing generation, your increasingly pure elvish bloodline expands its longevity.”
“Great, I’ll enjoy another 50 years of youth, big deal.”
“Which is why you became a ranger in the first place despite being a clan leader in order to make better use of your time.”
Spaulding’s face suddenly turned grave. “As my closest friend, I will believe your ridiculous tale that those two humans are my distant relatives. I will not put that into doubt. But why in the hell did you bring them to Tesafar? Give them to a human relative.”
“I didn’t tell you what happened to Richard’s ring.”
“The criminals sold it, big deal. Little use if the registry office states the name of the true heir.”
“Someone else took the ring.”
“This sounds interesting. I presume it was a nobleman.”
“That is a half-truth Spaulding. Their commoner but politically well-connected maternal uncle stole it from Richard and he sold the children to get rid of them. He wanted to con the king into giving him the nobility title with all that it entails.”
“Stupid humans and their greed. So I can assume when they became orphans their idiot uncle took them in only to kick them to the curb the minute they overstayed their welcome.”
“You have learned a lot as a ranger. Your ability to predict human criminals never ceases to amaze me.”
“Basically, you take an elf and remove any fair sense of decency, immortality and most of all their usefulness in the world and there you go. Thinking like a human has never been easier.”
Trevilin couldn’t stop laughing with politeness when a servant entered Spaulding’s office carrying a tray with some elvish cakes. “How nice! The servants brought some sesame seed cream cakes this time.”
“I presume humans don’t eat civilized food either.”
“In that respect, I can assure you that our nation is a better place to live. Humans eat meat with every meal.”
Spaulding shuddered at the very thought of tasting meat. He lived in a society where almost everyone practiced a strict vegan diet out of choice. He looked grave as he had another cup of wine.
“You decided to bring them here because you couldn’t find any decent human relatives?”
“More like I was overstaying my welcome in the human lands. I have to return to my post immediately or else I might risk being stuck working all winter.”
“Ah winter, the absolutely most dreadful time of the year to camp in the forest with our bitter weather. I can understand why you didn’t choose to stick around that much longer.”
“Well, the edict Lord Yuhara gave to me was only good for the human I ended up killing. I could have asked him for permission to locate the family of those children.”
Spaulding started to laugh very loud and seemed more cheerful than before. “You always say the funniest things Trevilin. An Äimite couldn’t care less about the comfort of a ranger much less the lives of two foreigners. From what I can understand, you were stuck bringing those nuisances to my humble castle.”
“Look, try to put up with them for a few months. I swear I will cover any unpleasant shift the guard assigns me and I will bear the brunt of covering a month or two during the winter so that he lets me off the hook sooner and then we can try to locate a more redeeming relative together when the snow starts to melt.”
“Did I just hear the word we?”
“Well, they are your blood relatives Spaulding.”
Spaulding pounded his fist on the desk. “You do realize my next deployment will begin in the spring, right?”
“Well, it is early autumn and you just barely returned from your last assignment. Just try to put up with them during the winter. It will give you something useful to do for a change. When its spring and I am off duty, we’ll take them together and find a human relative that can meddle with the problem.”
“What about Legarha?!”
“Speak to your regional guard and land a good deal to begin your next assignment a few weeks later than usual or make up an excuse that you need to cross the border for some petty criminal and discreetly get rid of those children. In the worst of cases, they will be dead in 60 years and you won’t have to worry about them ever again.”
Spaulding sighed with resignation. “Fine, I will put up with their obnoxious petulant presence in my humble castle for 6 months. I guess I could set them up with some Elvish language classes or something and have someone from my clan put up with their unwanted presence as I rest. What are the names of these children again?”
“The boy’s name is Richard and the girl is Nelida of the House of Earlrose.”
“The boy has a common name but the girl’s name is most unusual indeed.”
“The little girl seems a bit jaded from the traumatic experience so try to be easy on her. She is only 6 years old which for a human can be a bit of a difficult age. Richard is 8 but he does seem rather mature for his age.”
“How long did the carriage travel? Did you get to know the children any better during your trip?”
Trevilin crossed his arms and started to think. “I guess the trip took us 2 weeks. They initially acted like I was a demon and gave me some trouble, but they seemed to have warmed up to staying here.”
“I know you are telling a half-truth Trevilin but I guess I’ll agree to let them stay here for a while.”
Spaulding drank a cup of wine and started thinking attentively. After a few moments, his eyes shone and he put his palm on his face. “I almost forgot Trevilin! Now that these pestering humans will be occupying my limited free time, I was planning on doing something important but it seems like I may need someone else to do the task for me.”
“What kind of task?”
“I need someone that is highly reliable of high noble rank to transport a certain object to the capital as soon as is considered reasonable.”
Trevilin slightly frowned at the comment. “I presume you’d ask me, but because I am not a nobleelf, there would be too many questions asked.”
“Precisely why I need you to request someone outside of my clan of high rank that can do this little favor. If you promise me you will find someone suitable to take something to the capital, I’ll take care of these children without complaint.”
“Well, it seems like a strange request but I guess I can find someone suitable. When do you need that package delivered and how high nobility rank is needed?”
“Doesn’t have to be a clan leader, but perhaps someone of important lineage would be ideal. If the package can be sent immediately it would be even better.”
“I think we have a fair deal Spaulding. I have to leave immediately which is a shame because I’ll miss dinner, but I really thank you for doing this favor. I’ll come by when I am free to help you and I will find someone to fulfill your request.”
Trevilin stood up, put on his black hood and mace, bowed at his friend and promptly left the room. After a few minutes, Trevilin was visible in the garden from the window while he spoke to the two children as they begged him to stay. Trevilin seemed to politely bow and left in haste making the children look visibly upset.
Spaulding saw the scene and sighed with resignation. “The sooner I meet these two brats, the sooner I can leave their care to someone in my city.” Spaulding left the study room, climbed down the round staircase and was soon outside seeing the boy making his little sister cry. He reluctantly approached both of them immediately.
“Pleased to meet both of you. My name is Lord Spaulding, the master of Tesafar Castle. I have already spoken to my acquaintance Trevilin and I will allow both of you to stay in my city for the next few months.” Spaulding politely bowed at the children who looked surprised at his unusually polite demeanor.
“Um... the pleasure is mine Spaulding. I am Richard and this is my sister Nelida.”
“I don’t want to stay here Richard! I want to go home! Why is the black haired demon leaving us in here?”
“Please be polite Nelida. Trevilin already told us many times that the elf we were going to meet is our long lost uncle.”
Nelida’s piercing green eyes stared at the fair elf that wore rather plain looking beige robes that seemed to float as he elegantly walked. As Spaulding stared at both children, she tried to hide her fair face behind her brother with shame.
“I know that this is a difficult situation for both parties. You didn’t know that you had a distant uncle that lived in the Elf Kingdom, and I didn’t know I had any living human relatives that were noblemen without a home or family to take care of them.”
Spaulding knelt and smiled at both children trying to be polite. Richard blushed a little bit at Spaulding’s utter kindness whereas Nelida continued being distrustful.
“This is an awkward meeting for me, but I promise this will only be a temporary solution. My friend had to return to his military post immediately and when the snow melts in a couple of months, we will set off and locate your human blood relatives.”
“I want to come back home now!” Nelida stomped her foot on the ground.
“I’m sorry Nelida but you are going to have to put up with living here. Life is not always fair but I believe both of you will enjoy living in my quaint city. It will only be for a few months and you will soon be able to return to a normal life among humans where you belong. Please enter my home because you must be weary from your long trip.”
As Spaulding invited both children inside, the first surprising thing they noticed was a strange stair with white slippers next to a small wooden closet. Richard stared at the odd sight for a while feeling uncertain what to do.
“I forgot that humans enter their castles and homes with mud in their boots. This stair here is a dividing section between the outside world and our sacred home. We use these special shoes when we are inside of a home and leave our muddy shoes in this small closet. I would greatly appreciate that in order to maintain the order of my home, if you could always remember to remove your shoes when you walk inside.”
Both humans looked at the closet and unanimously frowned.
“There aren’t any shoes that will fit us.” Richard said.
“I’m very sorry about this. I’m not used to having guests at my home and much less children. For today you can walk barefoot inside and I’ll request someone from my town to mend appropriate indoor shoes for both of you.”
Nelida seemed distrustful but both children seemed to comply as a servant placed both shoes in the closet.
“Please come this way.”
The two children followed the strange blond elf that wore his medium length hair in a ponytail as he hastily walked past several narrow hallways with elegant dark bamboo flooring and white walls. Richard stared at the strange but aesthetically pleasing architecture while Nelida clung to her brother’s right arm as they were escorted by Spaulding across several empty large rooms with strange straw mat floors and sliding wooden doors that were fully open. Spaulding proceeded to climb down a light grey granite staircase while the children hurried behind as they walked across another similarly narrow hallway to a bamboo door.
“I am presuming both of you are weary from the long trip. My friend Trevilin told me mostly everything so there is no need to repeat children. This room has a nice bath with comfortable hot spring water. My servants will assist both of you as you have probably never bathed in one before.”
Spaulding moved an elegant violet curtain with the traditional crescent moon and sun symbol of his clan revealing a medium sized room that had several dark bamboo closets with beige robes. Both children looked inside but remained in the hallway.
“Mister Spaulding…” Richard began to speak.
“By the way, as I am a nobleelf, it would probably be most appropriate to address me as Lord Spaulding.”
“I’m sorry Lord Spaulding, but this is very new to me.”
“The servants will assist both of you as I am certain humans have different customs. Hopefully you will both find my hot spring to be most pleasant. There is something I must do so please enjoy your bath and we will be seeing each other for dinner.”
Spaulding politely bowed at both children which surprised them. In Richard’s country nobles never bowed at anyone of inferior social status. The fair faced elf that he just met that chilly day seemed rather hospitable. Without waiting for the servant to direct the children inside, Spaulding raced outside of the main entrance, put on a pair of brown leather boots and walked to the courtyard where he was greeted by another servant.
“Lord Spaulding, who are those strange humans and why did Trevilin leave them here?”
“Apparently they are very distant human relatives of mine from my paternal bloodline.”
The servant looked quite surprised at the revelation. It was well known by everyone that Spaulding was a hybrid but his human ancestor died around 700 years ago. “Will they be staying here for long?”
“I agreed with Trevilin to house them here for the winter.”
“Aren’t you weary from your latest tour as a ranger? You were on duty for 5 months nonstop this time.”
Spaulding sighed from the revelation. “I guess if the children don’t cause me too much problems, I’ll have enough time to rest. Once the ice melts and before I am again on active duty, Trevilin and I will take them together to a human relative.”
“Well, you are the lord of our clan. Are you planning on going somewhere? “
“I am going to visit my friend Hamarin and ask him for a small favor. If the children cause any problems please inform me.”
“Certainly my Lord.”
The servant bowed with politeness as Spaulding walked outside, climbed down a perfectly paved stone road across the white streets of Tesafar while always being saluted with politeness by the small city’s citizens. He soon reached a large wooden house of good decorative taste with a gigantic garden of immaculate beauty. He pleasantly smiled when he found the person he was looking for and approached him.
“Lord Spaulding, what an interesting surprise.”
A tall, thin elf that perpetually exuded an air of sadness on his blue eyes and fair face stared at the elf that approached him. Hamarin always had the penchant for wearing long white robes that covered almost the entirety of his body and liked to wear his immaculate knee length black hair loose to cover as much of his face as possible. He was sitting on top of a carpet drinking tea when Spaulding arrived.
Spaulding politely bowed and after he removed his boots, he sat down. “I am sorry for coming unannounced Hamarin, but a strange incident happened and I would like to know if you could assist me.”
“Certainly my Lord, what is the favor you ask?”
The two elves started to talk with each other for a while that tranquil early autumn afternoon when the servant Spaulding briefly talked to a while ago hastily ran to the garden.
“What’s wrong Floydin?”
“I pardon to interrupt your leisure my Lord, but the little girl is having a terrible argument with the other servants. Could you please come?”
Spaulding put his right hand on his face with frustration whereas Hamarin remained indifferent.
“I presume it’s the culture shock Lord Spaulding. You’re not used to treating with noble humans. I can assure you this will not be the first time those children will give you trouble. You should go and see what the issue is and we’ll continue our chat tomorrow.”
Spaulding smiled with hesitation, put on his boots, bowed at his friend and ran back to the castle. Nelida was wearing a towel while she screamed at a female servant whereas Richard had already changed into a beige and blue elvish robe.
“What seems to be the problem?”
Richard stared at the elf looking concerned. “Lord Spaulding, my sister doesn’t like the robes your servants gave to her after we finished our bath.”
Spaulding sighed when he saw Nelida pulling her dress from the servant’s arms. Spaulding hadn’t realized it before, but Nelida had unusual lilac colored hair in a very short haircut. If it hadn’t been for the dress, he would have assumed she had been a man.
He knelt in front of her with a worried look on his face. “What seems to be the problem Nelida? Did you find the bath to be unpleasant?”
“No Spaulding, that was nice but I hate the ugly robes your servants gave to me and my robe doesn’t fit me! I want to wear my dress but the servant wants to throw it away.”
Spaulding turned around and noticed her dress was tattered and looked unamendable. He placed his right hand on her shoulder with reassurance.
“Unfortunately your old dress is ruined. I am sorry that the robe my servant brought doesn’t fit you perfectly, but unfortunately in our lands it’s very unusual to see children. When you visit my city, you will soon realize you will only see adult elves everywhere. I will request a tailor to come here tomorrow and make human clothes of your size and to your taste so you will either have to wear the robes that don’t perfectly fit you, or you can have dinner wearing that towel and nothing else. However, I cannot permit per the customs of hospitality of my nation to allow my humble guest to eat dinner in a ruined dress.”
Richard stood nearby in contemplative silence when he finally understood the reason why his robe also didn’t perfectly fit and watched how Nelida hugged the elf while she cried nonstop.
Spaulding wasn’t very sure what to do and stared at the boy. “Is your sister always this emotional? I’m not very used to dealing with children.”
“I am also a little bit surprised Lord Spaulding. Your friend Trevilin told us many things are very different in your nation such as the streets are very safe with very few criminals and that this city doesn’t have soldiers.”
“My city is too far up north from the human borders and there is no need for foot soldiers here.”
“There aren’t criminals here?”
“Everything here is very new to you. It’s nice that I finally met a human that doesn’t call me a demonic monster for once.”
Richard had a hard time understanding the elf’s comment.
After crying for a while, Nelida started to calm down. “Spaulding, can I call you uncle?”
Spaulding stared at her tearful face with a certain degree of indifference. “If you stop crying and put on the robes for dinner, I’ll make an exception.”
The girl hugged him as he awkwardly patted her back. Richard timidly smiled at the graciousness of his host. The girl finally calmed down sufficiently to return to the changing room and allowed the servant to dress her as Spaulding and Richard waited in the hallway. Nelida came out a few minutes later looking slightly comical in the long robe that had to be folded with a tight blue belt. Spaulding slightly smiled at the amusing sight while Richard laughed which annoyed her.
“Please come over this way children as you now look presentable for dinner.”
Spaulding once more directed the two children across a long series of similar looking narrow hallways that had several empty rooms with straw mat floors, white walls with a lot of intricate paintings with the clan’s emblem and wooden sliding doors. Richard really liked the pleasant sparseness of the castle whereas Nelida had a hard time understanding the purpose of having so many empty rooms. After a few minutes, they climbed a couple of wooden stairs to a very large room that looked very similar to the other ones, but it featured a large dark wood table. The children were surprised there were no chairs and the table was barely elevated at all.
“Where are the chairs Lord Spaulding?” Richard looked around with incredulity.
“Take a look below.” Spaulding sat on the back corner as the master of the castle in front of a very intricate wall painting of the clan emblem and the children sat on top of two flat pillows next to him. They instantly noticed there was a large hole beneath the table to place their feet.
Richard was incredulous. “I have never seen such a strange looking dining room before.”
“You will get used to it Richard. Human dining rooms just seem a little bit too informal for my taste.”
The children looked at the room and instantly noticed there were a lot of supporting beams made out of beautifully carved wood with intricate golden leaf designs. A servant suddenly opened a lateral sliding door that faced a wooden hallway and farther away a beautiful garden was now visible. Both children were fascinated at the maple trees that were starting to change color that complemented perfectly with the sheer simplicity of the greenery outside.
“I have never seen a garden like that before.” Richard said.
Spaulding casually looked outside being used to seeing it every day.
“I am not that familiar with human gardens, but we generally don’t like to use plants that produce flowers. We kind of like our gardens to have a monochromatic appearance. In a couple more weeks, the maple trees will turn bright red which will give it an interesting contrasted color. The servants will bring us something to eat very soon. Are you familiar with elvish food?”
The children stared at each other looking confused.
“Are we going to be eating lizard eyes and witchcraft potions?” Nelida asked.
Spaulding laughed with politeness. “Is that what the humans in your nation think elves eat? How amusing!”
The children stared at each other wondering why Spaulding was laughing. A couple of minutes later, two servants placed a plate with assorted vegetable based dishes, unusual looking long forks, small knives and a second plate with strange white wafer cakes with assorted fillings inside. A second servant served everyone a ceramic cup with sweet tea and promptly left the room. Spaulding blessed his food and started eating quietly. After a few moments, he noticed neither child was eating anything.
“Is anything wrong? The food is delicious.”
“Lord Spaulding, what is this? I don’t see any meat.”
Spaulding balked at Richard’s comment. “Elves are for the most part strict vegans.”
Nelida turned to face the elf looking more surprised than her brother. “You mean you don’t eat newt eyes?”
“Of course not. We aren’t the demonic monsters humans seem to believe. We can eat meat, but we are simply raised in a culture where eating meat is socially unacceptable unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“But why don’t you eat meat? It tastes delicious.”
Spaulding wanted to belch at Richard’s comment. “You may find it appetizing, but I absolutely detest the flavor.”
“But won’t your body become weak if you don’t eat it?”
“If you take a close look at the dishes, you will see some small white cubes that have a gelatinous consistency. Those cubes are made out of a sort of plant that is rich in protein. I can assure you that our diet is much more nutritious than what you are accustomed back at your home.”
Richard’s hunger took a hold of him and he eventually tried out the food. It had a pleasant soft flavor, not too seasoned and the natural flavors of the vegetables complemented each other. He quickly grinned and looked at his sister. “Nelida, you should really try this! It’s delicious!”
However, Nelida just like a while before stared at her food with disgust. “This is not food! I’m not a cow!” Nelida tossed her plate of food on the table and ran out of the room crying.
“Nelida!” Richard tried to stand up but Spaulding softly tugged his arm.
“Please don’t Richard.”
“But she tossed her plate of food on your table!”
“I expected this behavior from her. I’m glad that you decided to give our food a chance and enjoyed it. I was briefly talking to a close friend of mine in the city and he told me a little bit about how humans raise their noble children. Apparently noble parents don’t even raise their children. They are raised by servants that let them do whatever they feel like and don’t teach them decorum with disastrous results.”
Richard paused as he stared at the mess on the table. He turned around and tried to bow in apology to the elf. “I’m so sorry uncle Spaulding because of my sister’s behavior! Please don’t kick us out of your castle and sell us to criminals like my uncle did!”
Spaulding only smiled with kindness. “I can assure you that elves treat their guests with the most utter respect and I will try to be more understanding with your sister. However, I think this will be a good opportunity for you to experience our nation which is something very few humans ever get to enjoy. Finish your meal and go to rest.”
“What about my sister?”
“As kind as I am, I am not going to serve meat in my humble abode. She can either eat meat with the human laborers that work in our farms like a common peasant or be a noble guest of honorable repute and eat with us. For tonight if she goes hungry, that will be her problem.”
Spaulding quickly finished his dinner encouraging Richard to do the same and once he was done he stood up and bowed at the boy.
“As much as I would like to continue getting to know you better, I am still weary from my recent deployment as a ranger and I haven’t recovered yet. I am going to rest and you might not see me tomorrow morning. The servants will direct you and your sister to your room. Tomorrow you can have a free day wandering around my city and get to know it better. The servants will have a pleasant breakfast awaiting both of you when you wake up.”
“What about my sister?”
“Like I have said before, she can continue starving until she decides she has no other choice but to eat what my castle has to offer or she can eat in the street with peasant humans. If she chooses to eat with the humans, I would prefer it that she doesn’t continue resting in my castle because it would give mixed messages to my citizens of how I treat my guests. I bid you goodnight and I will see you for dinner tomorrow.”
The elf once again briefly bowed and left the dining room. Richard walked outside and stared at the garden that had a small pond with some fish in the distance. He sat on the wooden hallway enjoying the peace and tranquility of his mysterious uncle’s castle until a servant showed up after nightfall and bowed with politeness.
“Good evening Lord Richard. Your guestroom has been fully prepared, please follow me.”
Richard followed the servant that wore simple beige robes in awkward silence. As he crossed the maze of similar looking narrow hallways, he stared at the ceiling and gasped. “What are those things?”
The servant turned around and noticed Richard was staring at a series of strange circular lamps. “In our nation, we illuminate our homes with special lamps that are not made out of fire. Is this the first time you have seen them?”
Richard blushed with embarrassment at his ignorance and nodded. The boy was impressed how the lamps maintained excellent illumination due to some alien technology.
“Please follow me my Lord.”
Richard was soon directed to a pleasant guestroom where his sister was already in a corner crying nonstop. “Nelida, you insulted our uncle by not eating the food he gave us.”
“I want to go home! This place is awful! Those demon beasts eat cow feed, dress in ugly bed sheets and look at the beds!”
Richard turned around and noticed their sparsely decorated room had two flat heaps of thick fabric with elegant blue and violet blankets with the familiar family emblem along with flat pillows. Richard turned around and noticed the wooden closet of the room was open revealing other bed sheets on the shelves.
“Now I understand why the castle has so many empty rooms Nelida. They are actually bedrooms and they store all of the furniture in the closet. What an interesting way to save space and make the castle easier to clean! I don’t know about you, but this is the most awesome place I have ever been to!”
Nelida continued bawling nonstop in her corner which made her brother frown.
“I don’t think you seem to understand how lucky we are that Trevilin came to our rescue and brought both of us to his friend’s residence even though he was going to get into trouble at his job. I had a friendly chat with our uncle a while ago and he seems like the nicest person I have ever met. He isn’t like our other uncle Nelida so stop acting like a spoiled brat because nobody cares about your complaints. Instead of complaining about your pitiful life, you should enjoy staying here. I am actually falling in love with it and I can’t wait to explore the city tomorrow, good night.”
Richard instantly put himself beneath the cover and went to sleep. After freezing in the cold for a while, Nelida grudgingly pulled herself beneath the blanket and realized that the flatbeds were immensely comfortable once you got used to sleeping on the ground level. Her stomach churned nonstop as she cried herself to sleep.


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