Guest Post – Serang by C.S. Boyack

It is my pleasure to host author, C.S. Boyack on my blog today. I’m going to let him tell you about his neswest book, Serang!

Thanks for having me over today, Jan. I’m here to promote my newest book, Serang. This is supporting story to the Lanternfish trilogy, but it will stand on its own for those who haven’t read Voyage of the Lanternfish.

I’m trying to let the hosts have some input about what I present, and Jan asked for an excerpt. Excerpts are a great way to tease the story, so I’m happy to comply.

In this scene, Master Yong left Serang alone at their shack while he went to a village for supplies. A heavy fog rolled in, and it’s stayed for days. He’s about to return, so we’ll pick up the excerpt here:

Yong strode confidently onto the porch. Serang wiped her brow, then flicked her wrist to get the heavy moisture off.

“Where are you?” Yong asked in a soft voice.

“Here, Master.” She walked to the patio area.

“Have you done your chores and exercises?” He sat an overloaded basket on the ground.

“Yes, but something’s wrong.”

“How so?”

“The fog is unnatural. The animals have gone silent.”

“What do your meditations tell you?”

“To be cautious.”

“Have you been meditating? Tell me the truth.”

“I don’t need to. Something is wrong.”

“Do them now. Clear your mind.” He smirked at her. “I’ll protect you from the forest.”

She sat and crossed her legs but kept the wall to her back.

“What do you hear?”

“Nothing, Master. Not even insects.”

“Listen again.”

She took several deep breaths. “A light wind in the high leaves.”

“Shouldn’t wind blow this fog away?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. Something is wrong–”

“Stop. Try again. What do you smell?”

“Brine… And charcoal.”

“Taste?”

“More brine. Master the fog is cursed or something–”

“Tut!”

Serang tried to focus.

“What do you feel?”

She remained silent for a long time. “Concern. Worry even. Apprehension.”

“Is that you, or the natural world?”

“Both, maybe.”

“At least you’re honest about it. Your feelings are correct. We are witnessing something that has not been seen in fifteen hundred years. Breathe it deep inside. Let it surround you.”

She opened her mouth for deeper breaths.

“Do you feel danger? Fear?”

She kept breathing. “No, Master.”

He knelt before her. “We are in the presence of lóng de hái ze.”

“The child of the dragon? I don’t understand.”

“Something is wrong with our world. Lóng de hái ze, lives between the worlds and heaven. This one is here because it is concerned. Try again. What else do you feel?”

“Yang, but also a female presence.”

“Very good. This dragon’s child is female. She is trying to decide whether to return to her world or go on to the sea. There she will evolve into a dragon, then try to set things right. To restore balance.”

“Will she… eat us?”

Yong sat before her and crossed his legs. “Someone has needed to tell you this for a long time. Dragons have been known to kill people but do not make a habit of it. They are more concerned with the natural world, and equity among all things.”

“But my father–”

Monastic life is all about duty, service, harmony. For Serang, a young girl abandoned at the temple by her mother after the death of her father, that life becomes all she knows. The monks give her purpose, and become her new family.

When political upheaval causes chaos throughout the land, Serang again loses everything and everyone she loves. Alone, she struggles to survive. She convinces a wandering monk to take her under his wing and complete her training. Thus begin her adventures through strange lands and her trials to become a confident, capable, independent adult.

This is a coming of age story set in a fantasy world. It’s filled with monsters and martial arts, difficulties and dangers. The serious situations preclude the story from the levity of its predecessor, Voyage of the Lanternfish, but it provides a compelling look at the origin of one of the saga’s most fascinating characters.

Purchase Link http://mybook.to/Serang

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I hope you enjoyed Craig’s introduction to Serang! Hop on over and pick up your copy! I did! And don’t forget to follow him on social media. He’s an entertaining author!

Thank you for visiting!

#RRBC JULY SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR – KARL MORGAN

I am happy to showcase the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S July 2019 Spotlight Author, Karl Morgan!

Carl Prescott and the Demon Queen

Excerpt from Chapter 20

They stood on a beach where gentle waves rolled up toward their feet. Both wore shorts and pullover shirts. Sylvia led Carl off the beach toward a small house that sat behind a picket fence. They went up onto the porch and stopped. Sylvia stared at the door. “This was a bad idea. I don’t think I’m ready for this.”

“We don’t have to stay,” Carl replied. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

She turned, put her arms around him, and hugged him tightly. “Now, that’s the Carl that I know. Don’t ever change, okay?” He nodded. She released him and walked over to the rail at the edge of the porch. “This place reminds you of something, doesn’t it?”

He joined her at the railing and looked around the area. “This is a lot like my secret place.”

She nodded. “I figure when we were on the Rope Bridge, you must have seen this place in my memories.” She put her hand on his upper arm. “And that’s why your island is similar to mine.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “You put a piece of me into your place, just like I did.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will. I’m okay now, and I really want you to come inside.” She walked over to the door, took a deep breath, pushed the door open, and stepped inside.

Carl walked inside and gasped. The main room was identical to his island home, even down to the placement of identical furniture and the doilies on the back of the couch. “This is amazing.” He put his arm around her shoulders. “We must have an amazing connection.”

She sighed, walked over to a closed door, and turned to face him. After a few deep breaths, she said, “My bedroom is behind this door. Whenever I’m feeling the most vulnerable, I come here to cry myself to sleep.” She turned and ran her hand over the door. “If you come inside, you’ll know everything. I’m terrified that you will be shocked, horrified, or hate me forever.”

“I don’t have to go in there. This is your choice.”

She turned back to him and wiped tears from her face. “Is it?” She turned to the door and pushed the door slightly ajar. “I think you deserve to know everything about me, Carl Sandberg Prescott.” She sighed, pushed open the door, and stepped inside.

Carl could hear her crying, so he followed her into the room. Sylvia was sitting on the bed with her hands over her face. Tears dripped down her arms and fell onto the coverlet. Carl looked around the room. There were dozens of portraits of men filling most of the open wall space. Carl’s picture hung near the bed. He walked over and sat next to her. “Are you okay? I really like that picture of me.”

She dropped her hands and chuckled. “Which one?”

He pointed. “This is the only one, Sylvia.”

She groaned, stood up, and faced him. “Carl, these are the pictures of every man I’ve ever loved. All of them are you! Don’t you get it?”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“In every one of these lives, I have lived like a normal person, yet we always ended up together. I didn’t even realize all had the same soul until you were about to step off the Rope Bridge. In that instant, I saw all of these men in you. When you left me behind, I thought I’d lost you forever.” She began to cry again.

Carl stood and held her. At first, she resisted, but eventually held him back. “I am so happy to have had so many lives with you, Sylvia. I had no idea.”

She moved back and wiped her eyes. “Neither did I until the Rope Bridge. Now, I look around at these pictures and don’t know what to think. You said before there is a chance we could be together in this life, right?”

He smiled. “Yes, that is true, but as you’ve said, I’m still a teenager, and like everyone will have different relationships before I’m ready for marriage or anything serious.”

“What do you want me to do, Carl?”

“First, I don’t want you to join with the others. It won’t work, and countless lives could be lost, including yours.”

She nodded. “I’ll think about it, okay?” He smiled. “Now, take my hand.”

Carl reappeared outside of Death’s bungalow, which was now surrounded by hundreds of thousands of supplicants headed to pledge allegiance to the demon queen. Carl walked up on the porch and sat on a rocking chair. “I can’t believe this is all about me.”

Death stepped out of the door and offered a mug of coffee. “Busy day, huh?”

Carl took the mug and sipped his drink. “This isn’t regular coffee, Mort.”

“I know what you witnessed, Carl. I thought a little fortified drink might help you cope with what you saw. Full disclosure, I have been to that place before.”

“Am I really the only man she’s ever loved?”

Death sat on the other rocking chair. “Yes, but that isn’t the point.”

Carl sighed and looked at his feet. “I am so confused right now and why isn’t that the point?”

“You are a mortal human, and she is an immortal demon. What Sylvia did is not unusual. Many immortals choose to live regular lives in order to experience the unimaginable power of life, love, and desire. The only thing they are incapable of knowing that it always ends too soon. That is what makes life so perfect. It is temporary, and every moment could be the last, which makes every experience, emotion, and feeling real and important.”

“I never thought of it that way, Mort.”

“Of course, you didn’t. As a human, life is a journey. It is impossible for you to imagine eternity, even though the spirit within you is eternal. Sylvia is different and more like me. In my job, I experience death constantly, not my own, but those of my children. Even I do not comprehend their emotional state and those they have left behind.” He sighed. “Oh, how I wish I could sometimes.”

Author Bio:
Karl Morgan has a lifelong fascination with stories in the science fiction and fantasy genres, whether it was the Tom Swift novels by Victor Appleton he read as a young boy, or television like Lost in Space and Star Trek, and especially films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. All of those tales put the protagonist in terrible situations where the odds are against them and, yet, somehow they prevail. The reader/viewer is always left with a sense that something greater than ourselves is watching over us.
In his new Carl Prescott young adult fantasy series, the journey continues as our hero faces terrible danger and odds to help his friends and family. At the end, he will learn new things that will change his perspective on life.
Karl lives in the San Diego area with his best, four-legged friend, his toy poodle Chachis. 
​ 
Follow Karl online:
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Website

Please follow along on Karl’s tour as he shares writing advice as well as excerpts from his new book!

Voyage of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack

It is my privilege to host C.S. Boyack on my blog site so that he can tell you about his newest book release!

Jan, thanks for inviting me back. I’m here hawking my newest book, Voyage of the Lanternfish.

Excerpts are a time honored tool for blog tours, and that’s what I’m bringing you today.

Lanternfish is a pirate fantasy. It’s filled with monsters, magic, and fantastic creatures. It also has gunpowder, so cannon, muskets, and pistols are included.

To set the scene, the characters are forced into starting a war with a neighboring country. They came to this city to do some historical and political research. It isn’t coming together very fast, and James is on the verge of a new plan.

***

James strolled up and down each dock, occasionally checking the mooring of a ship. Putting a finger to his hat whenever a crewman spotted him.

The end of the third dock was empty. Even the lamps weren’t lit. The only light came from quarters on a ship tied to the second dock.

“Hello, mate,” a rough voice said.

James cleared his coat away from his pistol before turning.

“No need for that. I mean you no harm. Seen you down here walking the nights away. Been watching you.”

“What for? And come forward so I can see you.”

“You’re a cautious man, I see that. Well armed too.” The man stepped forward. Long grey stubble covered his face. He wore a small tricorn, and carried a cutlass. “I seen your type before.”

“And what type is that?”

“Long stares out at the water. Touching the ships as you pass. Hand on your face while you’re thinking of something. Probably a big loss of some kind. Family farm? Lost love? Maybe a title? Something along that route.”

“Pretty close, mate.”

“A few of my mates and I been lookin for a fellow like you. You’re a man of the sea, and can’t wait to get back to it.”

“I’m sure there are plenty like me around. Good luck in finding someone.”

“Hold up, mate. We’re just talking. Names Johnny Jump Up. There’s men around like you and I, but not too many with money to invest.”

“I don’t have any money, sorry.”

“Your mates bought a chest. Carried it back to the Ghost yesterday. Looked real heavy. They spent some too. Nice kit the lady bought. Kind of pricy. Seems like you own a slave too.”

“How long have you been watching us?”

“Longer than that fella all dressed in black. He only showed up the other day. Asks a lot of questions about who’s new in town. Asked if anyone’s been flashing a lot of gold around.”

“Speaking of him, maybe you wouldn’t mind continuing this conversation back at the tavern.”

“Naw. Too many ears at the Ghost. There’s another tavern, just down the way. It has ears too, but nobody cares. Called the Dead Man’s Rest. Heard of it?”

“Saw it from a distance last night.”

“Don’t want you to think I’m leading you into a trap. You go there. Order a bucket of beer. I’ll be along in about half an hour. It’s a safe neighborhood, but you might want to tuck your purse in your boot. If you know what I mean.” Johnny held out a lantern. “Use me lamp if you’re worried.” He struck a match and lit the flame, before placing the lantern on the dock and stepping back.

James picked up the lantern and Johnny stepped aside. “I’ll make sure your shadow ain’t around. Then I’ll join ye inside.”

“Any particular draft?”

“Get the yellow one. The dark one’s gone off, give ye the shits now.”

“Good to know.”

***

Blurb:

An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.

He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.

James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.

Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.

Purchase Link: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07MP8V633

Author, C.S. Boyack

Bio:

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

MY REVIEW:

What I enjoyed most about this new book from C.S. Boyack is the fantastic job of world-building he accomplishes through creative writing. I had no difficulty visualizing the cities, the boats, the monsters, or the people that make up this story. The root monsters are a surprise and it’s fun to see them take on personalities and start to become somewhat human. The goal of James Cuttler is often different from that of his makeshift crew, but he manages to keep everyone happy with enough looting to satisfy any good pirate. His goal is to start a war between two countries and rescue his fiance. The adventures along the way, the battles, the exploration and discoveries kept me turning the pages. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite character. I love Mal for his devotion to James (aka Captain Bloodshot) and for his incredible ability to grow monster creatures in dirt, using his special magic. I love Serang for her fierce loyalty and amazing physical abilities. Plus, she has her own surprising brand of magic. The romance that blooms between Fala and James’ best friend, Dan, is believable and adds a touch of sweetness to the story. But I think my favorite character is the half-goblin half-human woman, Halfrid, who ultimately gives James the magical tool he needs to accomplish his goal and rescue his fiance. The action and battles are intense. The ending is satisfying. Anyone who loves adventure on the high sea mixed with fantasy and magic will enjoy this story as much as I did.

Atonement In Bloom Book Launch Party Bus!

It is a privilege and an honor to share my blog today with Teagan Geneviene, and to introduce you to her new book!

Atonement Blog Party Bus Loaded

All aboard! Beep-beep, yeah! The party bus is here. (Click here for theme music Magic Bus!) Our first stop is in Connecticut to pick up Dan Antion, who has a handy guided tour of Atonement, TN. Dan agreed to be a relief bus driver too, since bus-driver-Lilith the calico, sometimes has to take a break to give Deme or Honeybell a head bath.

Where “atonement” begins

It’s best if you read the first book first. So, for the launch of “Bloom,” Atonement, Tennessee is on sale for 99¢ (e-book). Click Atonement book covers for purchase links.

Residents of my fictional town might be of any race and from any ancestry. So author and translator Olga Núñez Miret translated the debut novel to Spanish! For that language, I changed the title to Expiación y Magia!

Cover Expiación y Magia ― Una Fantasía Urbana
Atonement, Tennessee in Spanish

Speaking of the otherworldly pigs, I should mention the order of the Atonement stories. Your first visit to the town is Atonement, Tennessee. It’s an urban fantasy — set in our present-day, real-world but with magical elements. Aside from the heroine and her neighbor-friends (or as Diana Peach likes to call them, the gall palls (Diana’s review here), you’ll meet the grumpy sheriff, Robin Warden.

Includes the prequel

The first “snort” in The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee is about a very young Deputy Robin. (Review by Dr. Phuong Callaway here.) That particular story is tied to the novel I’m launching today, Atonement in Bloom.

Long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee

Here’s the blurb!

The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined. The local population included supernatural beings of the fae variety. Although only she and a few others knew about that.

In a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life. In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed. Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.

Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee. Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.

Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.

Fae foolery backfires. A friend is abducted.

On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.

The Unfolding Of An Orange Rose Bud

I don’t know why the party bus is stopping. Oh! It’s a delivery of flowers in honor of the book launch from Kirt Tisdale of The Wall Gallery! Wow… beautiful blue roses. Thank you, Kirt. The blue rose of the impossible is an important element of Atonement in Bloom.

We’re back on the road, and Dyanna at Ravenhawk’s Magazine has plenty of music for our road-trip. Lilith, slow down. I see Melissa from Today You Will Write at that bus stop up ahead.

Hang on to your seat-belt. Lilith just took a sharp curve and we are magically in Kentucky. Deme wanted to check out Teri Polen’s October horror and suspense book fest, Bad Moon Rising! You’ll find 31 authors and their books there!

Welcome to Atonement, TN! Everybody in town is taking part in the fun. Annie’s Antiques is hosting an exhibit of Art by Rob Goldstein.

My Blue Heaven

What’s that on the next table? It looks like an Aladin’s lamp. And a puff of colorful smoke! Oh, it’s the Lamp Magician. Welcome, Magician. I’m glad you could join the party bus!

My stomach is growling. Thank goodness Carol Taylor and Gerlinde de Broekert have catered the book fair. There are delicious foods at every booth! However, Deme and Honeybell love to read, so they ran straight to the Atonement, TN Book Fair. They’re in hog heaven with so many great books!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for supporting this Bloomin’ Party Bus. Click the author names for more info.

D. Wallace Peach

Image result for legacy of souls d wallace peach

Chris Graham (for Agnes Mae Graham)

My Vibrating Vertabrae cover

Olga Núñez Miret For this book see here.

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters Now available as an audio book too

D.L. Finn

Image result for dl finn the button

Jan Sikes

Image result for jan sikes flowers in stone

I’d LOVE it if you’d check out this review for “Flowers and Stone!” https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R13PIOBLYNJI4D/

Mary J McCoy-Dressel

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, western romance author, Book Three Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series, Blog Post Cover Reveal

Sally Cronin

Jacquie Biggar has a sheriff too…

jacquiebiggar_thesheriffmeetshismatch_800px

Valentina Cirasola will help you tour Atonement, TN in style.

The Road To Top Of The World: Short Stories In The Land Of Puglia

Barb Taub will keep you laughing the entire way.

Resa will help you find the right thing to wear. She’s a costume designer. She would have enjoyed helping Ralda, Bethany, and Lacey search through the antique clothes in Sunhold’s closets (scene in “Bloom”).

Staci Troilo

Tortured Soul

Mae Clair

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

John W. Howell

Annette Rochelle Aben

Image result for booku Annette Rochelle Aben

Robbie Cheadle

Image result for robbie cheadle while the bombs fell

Chuck Jackson

Image result for chuck jackson what did i do

Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Teri Polen

Image result for teri polen sarah

JONAH – FINAL SEGMENT

When we left Jonah last week, his father, Drake, had given him a key that allowed passage through the portal to a paradise on the other side of the island. The enormity of the sacrifice Tidus had made to try and help him overwhelmed Jonah. He’s taking in this new world but still doesn’t know what his assignment will be. Let’s join Jonah, Tidus, Drake, and Jade for the conclusion of this story.

Jonah turned in a full circle taking in the beauty surrounding him. Palm trees swayed, turquoise water lapped at the shore, birds chirped, and brilliant flowers filled the air with their sweet fragrance.

island

The beauty made his head spin. A large house with stone dragons guarding the entrance sat approximately one hundred yards away.

Drake stood beside Jonah. “You’re home, my son. I have dreamed and hoped for this day when I could claim you. You are strong and brave. You’re everything my son should be.”

Jonah mumbled. “Thank you, sir.”

“I will teach you our ways, and your magic will grow, just as it did with your mother. But, you will have to work hard.”

“You mean like chores?” Jonah asked.

A deep rumbling laugh erupted from Drake’s chest. “I guess you could put it that way.”

Jade reached for Tidus’ hand. “Come, my love. We have some catching up to do.”

Tidus wrapped an arm around his mother’s waist and they walked toward the house, heads together, speaking in low voices. The obvious love between them brought a lump to Jonah’s throat. How he wished for the love of a mother, but his mother was dead and not coming back. He was happy for Tidus, though. The kid deserved to have his family again. He faced Drake.

“I’m ready. What do you have to show me?”

Drake pulled a spyglass from his coat and passed it to Jonah. “Turn around and look through this glass in the direction we came.”

Spyglass2

Jonah put the spyglass up to his eye and let out a shocked gasp. It was as if none of the rocks or brush existed and he had a clear view of the place he’d just left less than half an hour ago.

A smaller boat than the one he had refused to leave on, pulled up to the dock and dropped off a passenger. The memory of himself in that exact situation flooded Jonah. But, wait! It wasn’t a male. It was a female with long flaming red hair!

female red hair

He turned in confusion. “I don’t understand.”

“She, like you, has been banished to the island for her crimes. You will be allowed to help her, but only when she is seeking and ready. You can observe her from time-to-time but, cannot go to her until she does her part of the work.”

Jonah asked. “So, I will be for her like Tidus was for me? Is she my sister? Is she one of us?”

Drake chuckled. “No, my son. She is a mere mortal trying to find her way. And, yes, you will help her. As a half-mortal, you are more able to understand and communicate. She is your first assignment.”

Jonah turned back toward the girl. That moment of helplessness, fear and vulnerability he’d first felt, when he’d been in her shoes, washed over him. It was almost as if he could read her thoughts and emotions.

Drake laid a hand on his shoulder. “Remember what you’ve learned. She must seek inside herself for redemption and answers. In the meantime, you will become my student. And, when you are ready, you will meet the others.”

“Others?” Jonah found words jumbled with thoughts and hard to form.

“Yes, Jonah. Others. We are not alone. But, all in good time. For now, let’s go to the house and get you a proper bath, and clothes.

Jonah nodded and fell into step beside Drake, the powerful Wizard ― his father.

In losing everything, Jonah had found all that he sought. And so it is for us mere mortals from time to time.

THE END

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed Jonah’s story. It’s been a pleasure to share it with you. My intent was that maybe you’d find bits and pieces of inspiration along the way. To those of you who followed it from the beginning, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

Jonah – Part 14

When we left Jonah last week, not only had he chosen to stay on the island when the boat finally came for him, but he met Drake and Jade and learned a huge secret. Drake is his father. Jonah is half Wizard and half mortal. And now, Drake has told him he has work to do. To say the least, Jonah is overwhelmed with all the developments. I thought I would end Jonah’s story with this segment, but there will be one more. 🙂

“Work to do?” Jonah asked.

“Yes. While you are learning of our ways and practicing the magic, you will be given assignments.” Drake paused. “You see, our original mission on earth was to help mortals find their true selves and lead them into the light and knowledge that lies within each of them.”

“How am I going to do that trapped on this island?” Asked Jonah.

“I will show you. We will work together.” Drake handed Jonah a small staff with a pulsating blue Crystal attached to the end.

blue crystal staff1

Jonah accepted the staff and was surprised to feel it vibrating in his hand. “What is this?”

“It is your key to passage through the portal.” Drake stood and pointed to the North.

Again, Jonah’s head swam. “Portal? I don’t understand, sir.”

“You remember how you tried to follow Tidus the first day you met him, and how the snakes blocked your way while he disappeared through a crevice in a stone?”

Jonah nodded.

“This Crystal allows you passage through that portal into our world.”

Jonah stared at the glowing gem. “I still don’t understand.”

“It will all become clear,” Drake put a hand on Jonah’s shoulder. “Gather your things. Let’s go.”

It only took Jonah a few short minutes to gather his meager possessions. He stuffed everything into a small bag and threw it over his shoulder. With a quick backward glance, Jonah bid farewell to the place where only a short time ago, he’d thought he was doomed to spend the rest of his life. When he stepped away, he watched mesmerized as the hut, the beginnings of the garden, and everything surrounding it dissipated into a dark vapor. Nothing but stinging nettles and tangled brush covered the area.

The four of them, Drake, Jade, Tidus, and Jonah followed a clear and unobstructed path toward the North.

When they reached the crevice in the rock, Drake stood aside. “Go ahead, Jonah.”

Crevice

Jonah hesitated. He held the staff in front of him and cautiously approached the rock. With a swoosh of air, he found himself in the most beautiful tropical paradise imaginable.

He turned around in time to see Drake, Jade, and Tidus appear in a mist. This was where Tidus lived. The enormity of the sacrifice Tidus had made to help him overwhelmed and took his breath away. And, to do it without knowing Jonah was his half-brother.

He approached Tidus with tear-filled eyes. “You gave up all of this to hang out with me in hell?” He made a flourish with his right hand.

Tidus grinned. “It was better than being here completely alone.”

“Thanks, kid,” Jonah choked. “I never imagined your world was this.”

“And, now it’s your world too, Jonah.”

Drake and Jade stood arm-in-arm and observed the two. Jade looked up at her mate. “We did well, my Lord.”

Drake lowered his head and claimed her lips. “That we did, my Lady.”

“I have one regret,” Jade said. “I wish I had been Jonah’s mother.”

Drake sighed. “Ah, my love. I could but wish I had only one regret.”

**Please join me next week for the conclusion to Jonah’s story**

Jonah – Part 13

When we left Tidus and Jonah last week, Jonah had missed the boat. He couldn’t find it in himself to leave Tidus behind, so chose not to go. Now, he’s having serious doubts about whether he did the right thing. And, they have company. Let’s see who it is.

Tidus looked up and let out a cry.

A man dressed in black leather boots, a long black brocade vest adorned with shining gold trim, a red and black silk cape slung across his shoulders and golden sword stood over them.

Drake

Weilderwolves stood like docile pets, on either side of the man. Gone were the blood red fangs and they looked up at him with adoring eyes.

“Father!” Tidus ran to him. “I thought you’d forgotten me.”

Drake embraced his son, then turned his gaze on Jonah.

“You did a righteous thing here today, Jonah. You cared more for Tidus than you did your freedom.”

Jonah swallowed hard unable to find his tongue.

Tidus knelt at his father’s feet and kissed his boots.

Jonah wondered. Was he expected to do the same? He certainly didn’t want to be skinned alive. He joined Tidus.

“Up, the both of you,” Drake ordered.

In an instant, a woman appeared beside Drake. With her long flowing blonde hair, purple, gold and green regality, she resembled a mythical goddess.

Jade

Tidus flew into her arms. “Mother!” Tears streaked down his face and he choked on his words. “I thought you died.”

Jade crooned, “Oh, my son. It was necessary for you to believe you were all alone so that you and Jonah could complete your lessons.” She stroked the boy’s hair. “I didn’t want to leave you but I knew you were ready for the task. You did well, Tidus, son of Drake and Jade.”

Jonah stared with an open mouth. If his life depended on him finding words to say, he’d surely die this minute.

His gaze returned to Drake. An electrifying aura floated around the warlock; something that resembled pictures he’d seen in books of the Aurora Borealis. Jonah sensed the strength of Drake’s magic. It ignited a flame inside him. Oh, how he wanted this gift. But, he was a mere mortal. Mere mortals could never possess magic this strong.

His eyes locked with Drake’s. Light shot out of them into Jonah’s and he blinked hard and struggled to stay on his feet.

Tidus touched Drake’s arm. “Father, Jonah is trapped here. The boat just left.”

“I know, son. It was the final test.”

Jonah found his voice. “Test for what, sir?”

“Come. Sit.” Red velvet chairs appeared out of nowhere.

red velvet

Jonah stumbled forward and found a seat. His head swam with confused thoughts. Was it possible that he was asleep and dreaming? Had the stress of missing the boat cost him what was left of his sanity?

But, he sat and listened.

The Warlock, Drake, spoke with a deep rumble, “You see, Jonah, I knew your mother many years ago. She was a student, learning our ways when the leaders discovered what we were doing and killed her.” He cleared his throat. “But, she was more than just a student. She was my lover.”

Jonah scooted to the edge of his chair. “You knew my mother?”

Drake nodded. “I have watched and waited to see if you would have the same gift. You’ve kept it well hidden but, nevertheless the spark is there.”

Jonah waited for him to continue, his gaze darting from Drake to Jade and Tidus. This had to be a dream. Nothing about it could be real. And yet the plush red velvet chair beneath him felt real.

“The gift?” Jonah asked.

“Like I said, your mother, Elizabeth, was my student,” Drake said. “She was learning how to use the magic, and her powers were growing daily. It broke my heart into a million pieces when they killed her.” His voice hardened. “I wasn’t there to protect her, but let me assure you, young Jonah, that the man responsible for her death paid dearly.”

“Wait,” Jonah interrupted. “Let’s go back. You said my mother was your lover. Does that mean…?” His words trailed off, and he glanced at Jade too embarrassed to continue.

Drake nodded. “Yes, Jonah. You are my son.” Drake reached for Jade’s hand. “It was before I found Jade. I loved Elizabeth and you were born out of that love.”

Again, his head swam. The son of a powerful Warlock? How could that be? And yet it all made sense except for one part.

He faced Drake. “If you are my father, why did you let them put me in the orphanage after they killed my mother?”

Drake sighed. “It was a hard choice, but at that time, we were fighting to survive. The leaders were determined to extinguish all of us and our kind. Many times, I counseled with the elders. I begged them to let me go for you. But, they refused. After all, you were half mortal.”

Jonah ran a hand through his dark hair. “And what happens now? Am I destined to exist in this godforsaken place forever?”

“No. But if you want to learn and grow your magic, you have work to do.”

 

Jonah – Part 12

When we left Jonah and Tidus last week, Jonah had asked Tidus if he would start teaching him magic. Tidus was unsure. Let’s see what happened.

“I’m afraid,” Tidus paced.

“Afraid of what? I’m not going to let anyone hurt you, Tidus.”

“You don’t understand. It’s not up to me, and even though you think you can, you cannot protect me. I don’t think I’m allowed to teach you.”

Jonah stood and laid a hand on Tidus’ shoulder. “Okay. Don’t get all worked up. I’m just trying to understand more.”

Tidus faced him. “It’s not that I don’t want to. I think you need to learn more about yourself first. If you try to go too fast, you’ll burn.”

“Burn?” Jonah stepped back. “That’s a funny word to use. You don’t mean that your father would skin me alive, do you?”

“I don’t know.” Tidus dropped his hands to his side. “I can’t tell you everything you want to know. You have to find it on your own.”

“In the books?”

Tidus nodded. “In the books, in your heart, and in your head. When your thoughts become more honest, and your heart more open, you’ll find what you seek.”

“I suppose that makes sense. You hungry, kid?” Jonah changed the subject.

“Sure. I loved the soup you made yesterday. Can you make it again?”

Jonah laughed and ruffled Tidus’ hair. “For you, kid, I’ll do it. Go gather some firewood.”

The boy traipsed into the thicket. Jonah never stopped being amazed at how the stinging nettles and venomous flowers parted to let him through. That was the kind of magic he craved.

He grabbed the pot and filled it with water and the vegetables Tidus had brought from his side of the island. He dug the package of jerky from the ground. Funny that he hadn’t realized it before now, but this jerky should have been long gone, and yet every time he opened it, he found several pieces. He wondered if that was more of the mysterious magic that surrounded him.

Tidus returned with an arm full of dried wood and Jonah set about building a fire.

soup

A thick silence settled between them while they ate. Jonah mulled over the words Tidus had spoken. He knew beyond any doubt that his thoughts were different than they’d ever been. He spent hours reading, reflecting on and journaling about deep dark secrets that he’d never imagined would see the light of day.

He wanted to purge himself of the darkness he’d embraced for so much of his young life. Shadowed memories of his mother’s loving touch came unbidden. He wished he could remember more, but he’d been too young when it all happened. He only knew what he had been told in the orphanage. Someone had killed her. He’d often dreamed of finding that someone and exacting revenge. Now, those thoughts seemed foreign to him, like they had belonged to another person.

He gathered their cups and strolled toward the water to wash them. He froze in his tracks.

There it was! A boat that looked as if it sailed straight out of Medieval times, approached the island.

Midieval Ship

 

How had he not heard it? His heart thumped. He glanced back at Tidus in time to see him disappear into a thick tangle of brush.

Jonah walked slowly toward the dock as the boat pulled alongside, churning the murky water with its propeller. A rope ladder appeared over the side of the boat, and a voice boomed. “Jonah, you have proven yourself. You are now allowed to return to the mainland. Are you ready?”

He swallowed hard. “I don’t know. Can my friend come with me?”

“What friend? We don’t see anyone?”

Jonah turned and yelled. “Tidus. Tidus come back.”

He was met with silence.

“Come on, Jonah. Let’s go,” an impatient voice continued.

“Can I have a little more time to go find my friend?” Jonah asked.

“No. It’s now or never. Either go with us now or stay here forever. We won’t come back.” The engine hummed and the blades churned.

Jonah put one foot on the bottom rung of the rope ladder and climbed.

“Hurry,” the voice ordered.

Jonah climbed halfway up the ladder and scoured the island as far as he could see, for any sign of the boy.

He yelled again, “Tidus!”

The only response was the hum of the engine.

He started back down the ladder, and the boat began to move. He jumped the last few feet and landed with a thud on the dock.

Without a backward glance, he ran in the direction he’d seen Tidus disappear.

“Tidus! Please come back,” he yelled at the top of his lungs.

He trampled through the tangled brush mindless of the sting.

Tidus emerged from a stand of trees. “You didn’t go.”

Breathing hard, Jonah leaned over and put his hands on his knees. Tears streamed down his face. What had he done? He’d given up his only chance to return. When he looked up, he met Tidus’ steady gaze.

“I couldn’t leave you here, kid,” he choked. “I wanted to go…I did. But, I simply couldn’t go off and leave you here alone.”

“I’m sorry, Jonah. Truly I am, but as I told you, I could not survive on the mainland.”

Jonah’s chest heaved. Emotion thickened his throat, and he turned back toward the hut. “You coming?” he asked.

Tidus fell into step beside Jonah. “I know you think you made a mistake.”

“I don’t know what I think. I wanted to go home, but another part of me is not sure I can survive on the mainland either. At least not the way I did before.”

When they reached the clearing, Jonah stared at the disappearing boat growing smaller. He sank down on the sand and let his chin fall to his chest.

Tidus dropped down beside him.

A shadow fell across them, and Jonah jumped to his feet.

JONAH – PART 11

This has been a pretty incredible journey so far for Jonah and Tidus. There is something shifting inside Jonah. When we left them last week, Tidus had gone back to his side of the island to get gardening tools. Let’s see how they’ve progressed.

***

Days passed by and Jonah spent hours working alongside Tidus.  His skin was covered in welts from the stinging nettles, and a large angry wound covered the back of his right hand where he’d accidentally brushed against one of the venomous flowers. But, they managed to clear a decent sized area for planting.

main-image-dug-bed-2x

Tidus had suggested a poultice of mud and herbs for healing. Again, Jonah was amazed at the boy’s knowledge. Tidus brought vegetable seeds from his side of the island along with a variety of flower seeds.

It made Jonah happy that Tidus spent days on his side of the island. Bit-by-bit, the boy brought more of his things, and Jonah had even constructed another smaller hut for him.

Shock rippled through him when Jonah realized that he hadn’t cast a glance toward the mainland or scanned the horizon for the boat in days.

Slowly but surely, he worked on clearing the land and himself.

After hours of digging, hoeing, planting and watering the rows of seeds in the makeshift garden, Jonah stretched out and opened “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.”

Tidus dropped down beside him. “Will you read out loud?”

“Okay. Sure,” Jonah replied. “Chapter 6. ‘We can now begin to take responsibility for all of who we are, the parts we like and the parts we dislike. At this point, you don’t have to like all of your aspects; you just have to be willing to acknowledge them to yourself and others. There are three helpful questions you can ask yourself. Have I ever demonstrated that behavior in the past? Am I demonstrating that behavior now? Under different circumstances am I capable of demonstrating that behavior? Once you answer yes to any of these questions, you have started the process of owning a trait.’”

Tidus interrupted. “If you ever want to talk about anything, Jonah, I am a good listener.”

Jonah stared at him. “Yes, you are. But, I don’t think I could ever tell you all the things I’ve done. I don’t think you could handle it.”

“I am a kid, but in some ways, I’m really not. It’s all very strange, I am sure, but I’ve just kinda’ stopped aging. I experienced a lot with my mom and dad. Stuff that would make your stomach turn. Before we were banished from the mainland, people came in large groups determined to kill us and all of our kind. But our magic was stronger than their hatred and they never succeeded. I’ve seen my father remove a man’s skin without ever touching him. I’ll never forget the screams. I bet you’ve never seen anything like that.”

man skinned

“You’re right, Tidus. I’ve never seen magic like that. I’ve only seen what magic I could create with my hands and it was all based on fear. I had to make people fear me so they would respect me. I was the king of my turf.”

Tidus poked at the ground with a stick. “What’s the worst thing you ever did?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.” Jonah cleared his throat. “I’m beginning to wonder if I really want off this island anymore. Now that you’re here, and we’re making it better, maybe I don’t want to go back to the mainland.”

“One thing I know, Jonah. We are both being tested. I can feel my father watching me from somewhere. I know he’s alive, but I don’t know why he doesn’t come and get me. Maybe I’m supposed to be here with you and these poor forgotten creatures that roam this island. You know they weren’t always this way, the Weilderwolves. They mutated into what they had to to survive here.”

“Are you talking about the fanged beasts?”

Tidus nodded.

“Maybe that is what I will do. Mutate.” Jonah spat on the ground. “If your father is alive and watching, then we need to show him the best of both of us. I’ve never cared about being the best at anything before except stealing, bullying and even killing. But, now I have a strong urge to be something better.”

Tidus spread his long webbed fingers out in front of him. “I can’t ever go back to the mainland. I would be tortured and probably killed.”

Jonah growled. “Not as long as I’m alive.”

A long minute of silence passed between them.

“Do you think you could start teaching me your magic, Tidus?” Jonah asked.

“I…I don’t know,” Tidus stuttered and his eyes glowed. “I’m not sure it is allowed.”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

magic sorcerer

Jonah – Part 10

Last week, when we left Jonah, he’d just faced a memory that both frightened and horrified him – his first kill. We left him exhausted on the sand and Tidus had dropped a leather pouch at his feet and ran after Jonah yelled at him. Let’s check back in and see what’s inside the pouch

leather-pouch-leather-bags

He pulled the strip of leather that held the pouch closed and peered inside. A lump filled his throat.

Wasting no time, he grabbed his clothes, shoved his legs into his pants and ran after Tidus. “Hey, Tidus. Come back. I’m sorry, kid. I didn’t mean to yell at you.”

He caught up to the boy when Tidus stopped and turned around. Tears streaked down Tidus’ face. “I’m sorry, Jonah. I only wanted to help.”

“I know. And you don’t have anything to apologize for. It’s me that’s being an ass. I just have so much going on in my head, and I all I want to do is go home. It’s obvious that ain’t gonna happen, but this?” Jonah dumped the contents of the pouch into his palm. “What am I supposed to do with these?”

Tidus shrugged and swiped his nose. “Plant ‘em.”

Jonah gestured at the tangled twisted landscape. “Where? Look at this.”

“We can clear a spot. It just takes a little work.”

“What are they?”

“Sunflower seeds.”

sunflowerseeds-406

“And this?” Jonah held up a triangular piece of black onyx outlined in bright red.

“It keeps away bad thoughts.”

“Hmm,” Jonah studied the shiny black triangle. “Guess I could sure use that.” He clapped Tidus on the shoulder. “Come back to camp with me and help me figure out a place to plant these seeds.” He funneled them back into the pouch and pulled the string.

Tidus grinned and fell into step beside Jonah. “Okay. I have lots of them growing on my side of the island. I wish I could take you there.”

“Me too, kid. Me too.”

His mind raced. Was this all part of his lesson? Instead of fighting the place he’d landed, maybe he needed to help turn it into something more pleasant. Would the simple act of planting Sunflowers help?

He glanced at Tidus. This kid was a mystery. As soon as he thought he had him figured out, he presented something new. What he wouldn’t give to see the other side of the island. Tidus made it sound like the Land of Milk and Honey.

Once they reached the clearing where Jonah’s hut sat, he stopped and scanned the area. “What about over there, Tidus?” He pointed to his right. “Would that be a good place to plant?”

Tidus studied the spot. “Too many rocks.” He turned in a semi-circle. “Maybe up there.” He indicated an area up a hill behind the hut.

“Whatever you say, kid. Do you have any tools we can use?”

“Yes. I can go get them and come back.” He hesitated. “That is, if they let me.”

Jonah ran his fingers through tangled hair. “I wish we knew who “they” were. I’d sure like to talk to them.”

Tidus shook his head. “That isn’t possible, Jonah.  They are everywhere.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. Are you telling me “they” aren’t human?”

“Well, sort of. It’s hard to explain.” Tidus turned. “I’m going to get tools and I’ll be back.”

“Okay, kid. I’ll be here.”

As soon as Tidus left, Jonah ducked inside the hut. His gaze landed on the open book and journal. Maybe he’d skip the exercises for now and just read the book. He flipped it shut and stacked the journal on top of it.

He stretched out and stared up at the grass roof. The memory that had sent him plunging into the water lingered. He reached into the pouch and pulled out the cool black stone. He noticed something about it he’d missed at first glance. A tiny hole at the top of the triangle streamed sunshine. He looked closer at the leather string holding the pouch closed. After he unthreaded it, he was not surprised to find that it fit perfectly around his neck.

He slid the black onyx onto the leather strip and tied it. Now, that ought to keep bad thoughts away. Could it be as simple as that?

The books he’d been reading talked about shifting old habits and perspectives, clearing out negative thinking to make room for positive. The next time he’d give it a try. Cancel, clear, delete, echoed in his head.