"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Misty Forest

My NAPIRE students, Steve, Aliah and Briana.
All three are working with Piper ant-plants. 

The field season at Las Cruces is quickly drawing to a close, which means busy times in the tropics.  My students are pushing hard to analyze their data and prepare their final papers and presentations before the program ends this week.  In addition to giving them all the support I can, I've been trying to finish up projects of my own, moving things off the desk in preparation for jumping into fall semester as soon as I return home.  It has been a wonderful field season in Costa Rica, and I love the peace and wonder of this cloudy montane forest, but a part of me is now ready to start the journey home.

I've been talking a lot these past weeks about my adventures in Las Cruces.  Today, I want to share a little about my adventures with the written word.  When I haven't been hiking through the forests, watching the rain come down in torrents, meeting with my students, or contemplating ants and spiders in the lab, I've spent my time this summer with Eolyn and the new host of characters that comprise the novel High Maga.  They have moved me, inspired me, made me very happy, and even, on occasion, brought me to tears. Their story is quickly drawing to a close, which makes me at once excited, proud and, sad.  I've spent over two years now following the lives of these characters, and it's going to be hard to let them go when the time comes. 

With fall semester just around the corner, I've been dedicating every spare moment to High Maga, either rewriting early chapters or producing new material.  Yesterday I was thinking, what should I put on my blog this week?  And in truth, I didn't want to write anything for the blog.  I just wanted to keep working on High Maga.  So it occurred to me that since High Maga is the most important thing on my mind right now, maybe that's what I should be sharing with all of you. 

Here it is then:  The synopsis for High Maga, and a sneak preview of Chapter One of the manuscript.  I'm posting this with the disclaimer that the scene may not appear in the final version of the novel; and even if it does, it will almost certainly be altered.  After all, the manuscript has yet to undergo an editor's redpen.  But at least this brief excerpt will give you a chance to spend some time with the characters of Eolyn's world, and to have a glimpse of what is to come. 

The Talamanca Mountain Range of Costa Rica -- an endless
source of inspiration for scientists and writers alike.

Synopsis: High Maga

Eolyn, the last of the High Magas, founds a new coven in the isolated province of Moehn. The young girls she trains will, she hopes, revive a millennial tradition of women's magic.

Akmael, the new Mage King of Moisehén and Eolyn's erstwhile love, must defend his land against invasion by the Syrnte, whose witch-queen has summoned long-banished creatures of the netherworld to aid her conquest.

When the Syrnte army descends upon Moehn, Eolyn's school is burned and her students killed, captured or scattered. Aided by Borten, a loyal knight of the king to whom she is increasingly drawn, and the devious and untrustworthy Mage Corey, Eolyn must escape the occupied province and deliver to Akmael the weapon that might secure his victory. 

Their collective journey will test the limits of love and endurance, until Eolyn comes to understand -- perhaps too late -- that she also carries the shadow that could unleash Akmael’s doom.

Chapter 1 (excerpt)
*Those of you who read Eolyn will be happy to know this scene includes Eolyn and the Mage King Akmael, who after several years of separation have come together for a brief encounter in the highlands of Moehn.

Eolyn had taken her stance on the other side of the room, behind a small polished oak table that served as her desk. It was disconcerting, being alone with Akmael like this. She drew a deliberate breath, and forced her hands to be still by setting her fingers upon the table.

A trace of annoyance flitted across Akmael's features, but vanished before Eolyn could be certain of what she had seen. He strode forward, stopping just short of the desk.

“You look well, Eolyn.”

The maga saw more than these words reflected in his eyes. She saw admiration, desire, the acknowledgement of extraordinary beauty. A tightness filled her belly then extended its provocative grip toward more intimate places, bringing a flush to her cheeks.  

“Thank you, my Lord King. I am most glad to see you and the Queen in good health, and your daughter, the Princess Eliasara…” The thought that his child could have been hers surfaced, making her blink and glance away. “She is lovely. She must bring you great happiness.”

“She will be entrusted to you when she is of age.”

“My Lord King?” The announcement surprised her.

“I want her to learn the ways of magic.”

“Don’t you think…?” Eolyn bit her lip. One did not simply accept students at the will of their parents. Eliasara would have to prove her abilities and disposition, and even if she had an aptitude, the decision to take her on would be complicated. There were still many in Moisehén who did not wish to see magic wielded by members of the Royal House of Vortingen, and Eolyn still struggled with the question of whether their concerns were well-founded. “The Queen has no knowledge of our traditions. She might not approve.”

“It does not matter whether she approves. It is my will that Eliasara become a maga.”

“I see.” Eolyn frowned in confusion. How could Taesara’s opinion not matter in decisions regarding the education of their daughter?

There was a knock at the door, followed by Sir Drostan’s muffled baritone. Akmael bade the knight to enter, yet kept his gaze steady upon Eolyn as Drostan crossed the room and laid a long package wrapped in well-oiled leather on the table. The knight paused and cleared his throat, looking from High Maga to Mage King as if to say something, but then merely bowed and took his leave.

Akmael removed the leather wrapping, unsheathed the sword therein and set it before Eolyn. The hilt was inlaid with ivory, the blade shone silver-white. Her throat went dry when she recognized it.

“This? Where did you get this?”

“I have had it since the Battle of Aerunden.”

She sat down, so great was her shock. “Kel’Barú. My brother’s sword. All this time you have had it?”

“I wanted to keep it,” he confessed. “It is a fine weapon, and you seemed to have little use for tools of war. But the Galian wizards gave this sword a will of its own, and it has done nothing these past four years but weep for you.”

She stood and lifted the sword, one hand sustaining the ivory hilt, the flat of the blade resting on her long fingers.

Eolyn, it sang in the quiet hum of metals. Eolyn, Eolyn, Eolyn.

“I want you to learn how to use it,” Akmael said.

At once she set it down. “No.”

“I will not argue this with you.”

“Stop it!” Every fiber of her body ignited with resentment. “Stop it, Akmael. Why are you doing this?”

A moment passed before she realized her transgression. She lowered her eyes, trembling with anger. “Forgive me, my Lord King. I didn’t intend-”

“Do not apologize. It pleases me, to hear you say my name. I would have you say it more often.”

There was such unexpected kindness to his tone that her rage slipped through her fingers. She managed a hesitant smile. “Thank you. I mean no insult by questioning your gift, but you know my feelings on this matter. Three years ago, you sent Borten along with his knights to guard this school, and despite all my letters of protest you insist on keeping them here. Last summer you ordered him to begin building that accursed wall, and now on your first visit to Moehn, you give me a sword? This is an Aekelahr, not a military outpost.”

“This is a fragile community of Magas cultivating seeds of great power. You are not to go unprotected.”

“Moehn is a peaceful province. That is why I chose it. We are well received here. No one wishes us harm.”

“It is not Moehn I worry about.”

“Who, then? There won’t be any armies emerging from the South Woods, and no one can get through the Pass of Aerunden without crossing the kingdom and defeating you first.”

Akmael let go a slow breath. The turmoil that stirred behind his dark eyes disturbed her; as if there were something of importance he could not bring himself to reveal. He picked up Kel’Baru and proffered it to her.

Eolyn shook her head, hands clenched stubbornly at her sides. “We tried this, a long time ago. You know I have no gift for weaponry.”

 “You are not the frightened girl you were then. You have strength, balance and speed. And you have a sword that loves you. Borten can teach you how to use it.”

“I’ve seen how your men fight, Akmael. I could never hope to--”

“No, you could not!” He struck his fist against the table and gestured toward the courtyard outside where his guards waited. “Any one of those men - trained from the time they were children – any of them could kill you in a heartbeat. But with this blade in your hand, it might take them two heartbeats. Or three. Or fifteen. And that might be enough for someone to come to your aid before it is too late.”

“I am not without my defenses. I have my magic, and my staff. I can invoke almost every manner of flame known to our people. I have even cast the curse of Ahmad-kupt, though I hope never to use it again.”

“Your magic will not be enough.”

“For what?”

He glanced away, set his jaw. “I want you to have every tool at your disposal, for whatever may come.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Special Guest Author: Marsha A. Moore

Please join me in welcoming author Marsha A. Moore as a guest blogger this week.  I met Marsha through the Magic Appreciation Tour and Booksale. Her fantasy romance novels Heritage Avenged and Seeking a Scribebooks one and two of The Enchanted Bookstore Legends, are currently available on Kindle.  Today she tells us a little about the system of magic that underlies both these novels, an approach that combines elements of astronomy and astrology.  At the end of her post, you'll also find an excerpt from Heritage Avenged.  Enjoy!

A Scribe's Mystic Astronomy Studies

I’ve long been interested in both astronomy and astrology. In my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I combined the two fields into one that I call mystic astronomy.

The organization of magical power and leadership in my fantasy world of Dragonspeir world are founded upon principles of mystic astronomy. This is inspired by the balanced system of the four Chinese elements of creation: earth, fire, water, air. Chinese mythology ties those elements to sacred animals that foretell future events. The unicorn is supposed to spring from the center of the earth as the phoenix represents fire, the tortoise water, and the dragon air. For my legends, I selected those animals as the four Guardians who collectively govern the good Alliance of Dragonspeir.
Additionally, residents of Dragonspeir who inherit magical tendencies must learn to utilize their dominant element, air, earth, fire, or water, in order to control and develop their abilities. This means huge difficulties for my heroine, Lyra McCauley, who cannot learn fast enough to stay ahead of dangers from the Dark Realm.

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra, a woman destined to be one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.
Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
In Heritage Avenged, the second epic fantasy romance of my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, Lyra questions whether Dragonspeir magic was responsible for her aunt’s death. She resolves to learn the truth and accepts the Imperial Dragon’s appointment into sorcery training with the Alliance. Additionally, her proficiency in magic craft is the only way she can bridge the gap between her human world and her lover’s. Cullen is her only family now. Evil forces try to steal her inherited scribal aura. Lyra must rely on her novice training to attempt to discover the truth about her aunt and find a life with Cullen.

Although Lyra has inherited the rare powers of a Scribe, among the highest in Dragonspeir, she cannot use her powers fully. She must learn to drawn upon them with control through formal sorcery training. Lyra, like all Scribes, is born under a fire sign and must be able to communicate with the main star of the Aries constellation—her birthmate star—in order to utilize her vast powers. That constellation gives her additional power, enabling her to call upon scribal powers of her ancestors locked in their birthmate star.
Members of the four Guardians who govern the Alliance are among her teachers. Each of the magic crafts she learns is founded upon the strength of mystic astronomy, channeling power from viewing one’s birthmate star.

A sky reader or sibyl from the nomadic Qumeli tribe instructs Lyra how to view her birthmate star, Hamal, the primary star of the Aries constellation. When Lyra first finds Hamal, bright in the winter sky, she jumps in alarm at how it boosts her power. The sibyl teaches Lyra where to locate different fire sign constellations that are present during other seasons when Hamal isn’t visible. These other fire stars will deliver a lesser but valuable increase in Lyra’s power. The Sagittarius archer can help her in summer from its position in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. In the spring sky, Lyra learns to locate the brightest star of the Leo constellation.
While these fire sign stars help increase Lyra’s internal scribal power, she is also taught that air signs blow or extend her powers, like wind fans a flame. The sibyl teaches her to look for Gemini in the winter, Libra in the spring, and Aquarius in the autumn sky to spread her power farther.

In addition to the lesson conducted by the sibyl, The Head Guardian, also known as the Imperial Dragon, instructs Lyra how to apply knowledge of astronomy to work magical air instruments—the Spheres of Sidus and the Lacuna Ales—to help her discover clues about her past and future. The positions of birthmate stars must be well understood and replicated in order to unlock the capabilities of those devices.
During Heritage Avenged, Lyra is under the gun to quickly learn this vast knowledge so she may control and use her powers. She’s anxious to use her new skills to find who may have murdered her aunt. Additionally, she is constantly pursued by those wishing to steal her scribal aura, which would leave her as good as dead without a soul. Those who attempt to protect Lyra are often injured in the process. These stresses force Lyra to race through her magic craft lessons, in attempt to stay a step ahead of the Dark Realm.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Heritage Avenged:  The Letter

Lyra worried about Cullen on his flight home. Despite the fact he was over two hundred years old, it was only his second plane trip. The few wizards of Dragonspeir who visited the real world seldom traveled far, and then not conventionally. He kept her safe in his world last summer. She intended to keep him safe in hers.

“Next!” the heavyset postmistress belted out.

 “I’ve got to hang up,” Lyra quickly whispered into her cell phone. “Be sure you call me when you land in Sault Saint Marie. Love you.”

She sighed and maneuvered to the clerk at the far end of the counter. If only they could live together in one world. She needed to learn more magic first and hoped to make a start in a few weeks, when she took her winter break from teaching to attend his Solstice Festival. Unfortunately, her formal lessons would have to wait until next summer.

When Lyra approached the counter, the woman peered over the top of her reading glasses as she shuffled papers. “Yes?”

“I’m here to pick up my mail from a vacation hold.”

“Theme of my day,” the postmistress muttered and then barked, “Name and ID.”

“Adalyra McCauley. Just since the day before Thanksgiving.” She fumbled in her purse and pulled the driver’s license from her billfold.

The women sighed, slid off her stool, and shuffled into a back room. A few minutes later, she lumbered back, carrying a small stack of letters, glossy ads, and magazines. She scooted the mail across the counter.

Lyra stuffed it all into a tote bag, then scurried to her silver Subaru sport wagon and tossed it into the passenger seat. Driving Cullen to the Tampa International airport and this stop barely left enough time to make it to the university in time to teach her ten o’clock class. But the memory of those lingering goodbye kisses made it worth the consequences.

She stopped for a red light at a twelve-lane interchange, tapping the wheel impatiently. The edges of the mail peeked out of the sack, tempting her. She pulled it into her lap and riffled through the letters. The usual bills. The signal remained red.

Thumbing quickly through familiar envelopes, one unusual return address caught her eye, William T. Betts, M.D., Washaw, Michigan—the island village location of Aunt Jean’s cottage on Lake Huron. Although addressed to Lyra, it had been sent to where her aunt lived prior to passing away. She couldn’t place his name as one of Jean’s doctors. Multiple postmarks revealed a path of forwarding, the oldest dated last August, a few weeks after the funeral. She checked the traffic light—still red.

She ripped open the envelope and yanked out the letter.

Dear Ms. McCauley:

I am writing this correspondence in my capacity of Birch County coroner. Please accept my condolences for the recent loss of your aunt, Jean Perkins. Prior to delivery of her remains to the Michigan State crematorium, her attending physician, Dr. Everett Schultz, requested an autopsy. Dr. Schultz and I wish to meet with you to discuss my findings at your earliest convenience.


                                                     William T. Betts, M.D.

A horn honked from behind and jolted Lyra into a panic. Her limbs froze and her eyes returned for another glimpse of the letter. She wildly scanned the page, searching for additional information. Aunt Jean had died of cancer. What more could they tell her than that?

At the time of Jean’s death, the abrupt change in her symptoms puzzled Lyra and made her question the visiting nurse. Hours before, her aunt’s mind had been lucid. Her eyes were clear and her breathing soft and steady, not a raspy death rattle. Now those initial concerns seemed grounded.

The driver behind her laid on the horn.

The noise jarred Lyra to the present. She exhaled an arrested breath. To brace her shaking arms, her free hand clamped the steering wheel. Unable to coordinate, her foot slid off the clutch and stalled the car.

A chorus of horns blared.

After fumbling with the ignition, she restarted and herded her Subaru into the stream of traffic. She locked her eyes squarely ahead to avoid angry road-rage stares from passing motorists.

One car pulled alongside and tooted. Her eyes shifted onto the driver who flipped her off before speeding away.

Shaking, she gave up rushing to be on time. Keeping her car safely on the road was challenge enough. She hung back to allow other cars to pass.

Plodding in the slow lane, her thoughts drifted to the letter. What had the coroner found? In September, the funeral home wrote, indicating they stored her aunt’s ashes, as Lyra directed, until she returned to collect them. The director never mentioned any question about the cause of death.

Lyra shifted before engaging the clutch. Grinding gears vibrated the car. White-knuckling the wheel, she gratefully turned at the sign for Southern University. Finally in her assigned parking spot, she slumped into the seat.

Before getting out, she reread the letter to search for clues between the phrases. She found none, but the words “earliest convenience” loomed. The doctor wrote the letter three months ago. Would that lost time make a difference?

Was it possible someone harmed Jean? Hundreds in the village visited the funeral and expressed sorrow. What about that strange man, Revelin? He came to Jean’s home, supposedly working as an aide from the home care division of the local clinic. He acted suspicious, trying to read Lyra’s computer screen, open to her draft of the new version of the Book of Dragonspeir. Maybe a person from Dragonspeir? A few supporters of the evil Black Dragon could enter her world. But who? His alchemist, Tarom, possessed enough power and talent. A chill ran down her spine, thinking of his glowing red eyes and crimson cloak with moving tentacles at its hem. She sighed. No obvious evidence linked either man.

Sun rays reflected light through her windshield from the modern glass and concrete English building. This alerted her to pull herself together and go inside. After sucking in a deep breath to steady her nerves, she opened the car door and stepped out. Her legs shook under her weight. Her shoulders sagged under the load of the briefcase and bags. With an awkward gait, she ambled toward her building.

She stopped cold. Students raced around her to make their classes. What about Eburscon? Alchemist for the Imperial Dragon’s Alliance. She clenched a fist, recalling his haughty, antagonistic manner. He openly disapproved of Lyra’s influence on anyone in Dragonspeir.

Opening a side door off the parking lot, she checked her watch. Five minutes past the start of class time. She braced herself, rearranged her bags, and climbed two flights—a short cut to the classroom which avoided the department offices.

Three minutes later, she arrived in the room, out-of-breath and shaking, in no shape to teach. But, the chairman kept careful tabs on all his non-tenured professors, including Lyra.

Thankfully, the lesson was an easy one, reviewing short story reading assignments. The students in her American Lit course, just returned from a long Thanksgiving weekend, didn’t want to hear a rigorous talk about Emerson and Thoreau. Most eyed her with groggy stares, heads propped on elbows. A handful of alert and prepared students vied to contribute, snapping out responses to Lyra’s discussion questions. Usually she enjoyed pitting them against each other, but today she merely appreciated their participation.

Her mind wandered two thousand miles away. She watched the clock, counting the minutes until she could talk with Cullen during his layover in Detroit.

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!

Visit Marsha at the following links:

Website: http://MarshaAMoore.com

Friday, July 6, 2012


At the edge of the meadow, a subtle movement indicated the arrival of Lynx, come to bid farewell with the simple gesture of her presence.  -- EOLYN, Chapter 15

This has been a great summer for seeing mammals in and around Las Cruces. 

At La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, I had an encounter with P.O.U.S. (Peccaries of Unusual Size), so large I thought at first they were a small group of tapirs, concealed by the late afternoon shadows in forest.  Then they started grunting and clacking their tusks, all in all making it very clear I was not welcome.  White-lipped peccaries have garnered some fame for running hapless tourists up trees, and these being of unusual size, I found myself glancing at nearby trunks and gauging which tree would afford me the easiest climb.  Fortunately, the P.O.U.S. decided I constituted an insignificant threat and having made their point, continued on their way.

I've also seen a number of white-faced cappuchin monkeys, koatamundis (raccoon-like creatures that are charming until tourists start feeding them, and they figure out how to get into backpacks), agoutis (true Rodents of Unusual Size) and abundant squirrels.  As an extra-special treat, the tayra, a giant cat-like weasel, has crossed our path more than once. 

But what I feel like I've had the most luck with this summer are the cats.  I haven't actually seen any cats -- well, I did see one, I think -- but we've come across their tracks numerous times.  Large puma tracks graced the path on our first day out; and we've seen smaller cat tracks as well, perhaps left by the jaguarundi or the ocelot. 

Seeing a cat in the forest is, in many ways, like seeing ghost.  Afterwards, you're never quite sure whether you really saw a cat, or if it was just your imagination.  Wishful thinking.  A momentary hallucination brought on by mild dehydration.  Or perhaps that mushroom I took a photo of had Spores of Unusual Potency. 

Such was my most recent cat encounter:  I was walking alone, descending a gentle slope, when the animal crossed the trail some thirty meters in front of me.  Sauntering, as a cat does, without hurry or concern.  I saw the animal shoulder-to-tail, clear as day, and then it vanished without leaving a trace, without making a sound.  Not even a pawprint in the dirt to confirm my suspicion.  And I hadn't seen the head, so now I still wonder.  Was it a small puma?  A jaguarundi?  Or some other animal with which I am unfamiliar?

Or had I just been wandering alone in the woods for too long?

Eolyn's cat is the Lynx, which does not inhabit Central America, but is found in the forests of the northern hemisphere.  Like all cats, the Lynx of the South Woods is ever-present, though it seldom lets itself be seen. 

When Eolyn first loses her way in the South Woods as a little girl, Lynx tracks her, thinking the starved and disoriented girl easy prey.  Just as the cat is about to pounce, Dragon appears in the form of Serpent and tells Lynx about the girl's destiny.  From that moment forward, Lynx becomes Eolyn's protector.  Eolyn never learns of this event. Nor does the reader, because this story is never told in the novel. 

Lynx, according to some mythologies, is a keeper of secrets and protector of ancient magic.  When she appears to Eolyn, it is in key moments and with very specific messages.  During her rite of initiation, Eolyn climbs a rocky ridge to Lynx's lair, where she petitions Dragon for her staff of High Magic.  When the young maga decides to return to Moisehen, Lynx is the animal who bids Eolyn farewell. 

Lynx acts on Eolyn's behalf in many other ways, but for the most part the feline's actions remain secret and in the background.  Though it appears infrequently, Lynx is one of my favorite animals in the novel, because of the rich subtext of mystery it represents.

So when you are reading the novel, look for Lynx in all those forest scenes, behind tree trunks and on rocky ridges.  Look for her resting up in a tree, keeping an eye the action below.  Who knows?  You just might see something in the South Woods that I, even as I was writing, did not...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

People of Thunder

Dragon versus Thunder at the peak of a volcano.  Fortunately,
my run through the woods was not quite this perilous...

Thunder pursued the lovers through the forest and filled their hearts with fear.  At last Aithne and Caradoc found refuge in a small cave in the mountains.  Thunder raged all over the mountains looking for them, but eventually gave up and faded away.

--EOLYN, Chapter 5, 'The Origin of Magic'

Yesterday we had an encounter with the wrath of Thunder.  I was with some friends of mine from the NAPIRE Program on the Water Trail, a loop that runs through a recently acquired piece of land in the Las Cruces Forest.
The rains started early in our walk, but we weren't bothered very much by getting wet.  When the real storm rolled in, however, our pleasant stroll under a tropical drizzle became a rather harried retreat back to the station.  Lightning singed the sky, thunder clapped over head, and more than a few bolts pummeled into the forest a bit too close for our comfort.  Trees swayed, branches snapped without(fortunately for us) breaking, and what had been crystal clear shallow creeks on our way in were swollen into turbid rivers by the time we headed out.  We crossed two of them holding hands, prodding the muddy current with our walking sticks to test its depths, and hoping not to slip on the rocks and be carried downstream.

It was, in a word, exciting.

And I realized along the way, that this is how stories begin: with four intrepid travelers running through ancient woodland in a desperate search for shelter while dragons battle overhead, bellowing in rage, lancing fire across the sky, wind from their great wings shattering the trees. . .

Even as I invented my new story while running through a storm, I remembered an old one, the Origin of Magic as told by Ghemena in Chapter 5 of Eolyn.  Here, Aithne and Caradoc are also pursued by thunder and lightning, and I must say, I have renewed respect for their courage after yesterday's experience.

Thunder, in the legends of Moisehén, is a messenger of jealous Gods who opposed the use of magic by humans.  The counterpart of Thunder is Dragon, messenger of the Gods who entrusted High Magic to Aithne and Caradoc, and guardian of the people of Moisehén.

Despite Dragon's triumph with Aithne and Caradoc, the Gods that ruled Thunder did not give up.  The early history of magic was plagued by numerous conflicts between Thunder and Dragon, culminating in a great war between the People of Thunder, who eschewed magic in all its forms, and the People of Dragon, who followed the teachings of Aithne and Caradoc. 

Little is told of this story in the novel, though some of the most important figures of the history of Moisehén made their mark here.  One of these was Caedmon, a mage who learned from Dragon how to integrate magic into warfare, turning the tide of the war and founding the great traditions of the Mage Warriors.  Another was Vortingen, a warrior chief who formed an alliance with the People of Dragon and helped them to defeat Thunder and all its followers.  After the war, legend says that Dragon also appeared to Vortingen, granting him and his descendents stewardship over the Crown of Moisehén. 

The People of Dragon went on to prosper and populate many lands, their magic forming the foundation of culture and history not only for Moisehén, but also in Galia and among the Syrnte. 

What, then, happened to the People of Thunder? 

Little was left of them following their defeat at the hands of Caedmon and Vortingen, but their legacy continued in a handful of small kingdoms that rejected the use of magic by its citizens.  One of these kingdoms was Roenfyn, sandwiched between Moisehén and Galia.  Roenfyn has little significance for Eolyn's story in the first novel, but it will become increasingly important in books two and three.

Why?  Well, you will just have to read the novels to find out...