As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to write and to write well. To do that you need to just write and keep on writing.
So about five years ago I began that journey. I started with a simple exercise from an on-line creative writing class and just kept at it. From that simple exercise, characters emerged and—as characters often do—they had their own minds. I sat back and watched them move around and interact, developing a story of their own.
Along the way I took some classes and thought, “Hey, maybe I could get this published.”
That was when I hired a writing coach. Big mistake.
I think every writer should print this out and post it on their computer:
It is better to write for the self and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly The New Statesman, February 25, 1933
I am not kidding about that. Somewhere in the process I lost my self and followed the advise of “experts.” Until I realized I was writing their story, not mine.
From that experience, I have rescued what I could. I present it here in installments and with commentary because it is the background of this story that is important to me. Hopefully it will be interesting to one or two others because, as my coach and writing teachers never understood, the setting, history, and spiritual concepts behind the story are “real” and that is what makes the story, not some contrived “arc” in the plot. I may have invented the characters but their world is based on what I have knit together during my less than traditional studies over the last fifty years.
So here is the first installment of Willing Sacrifice. At the end you will find some of the historical and magical information on which this is based.
Jacob van Ruisdael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Prologue: 12,000 years ago
I, Ainan, Chief Guardian of the Ark, watched as Kyann, my priestess-wife, stared into the candle flame. “M’Lady, what do you see?”
“Our enemies have been blown off course,” she replied. “But the storm comes our way. We must prepare.” She stood with a stately grace and shook back her long auburn hair. “Get me the Ark. We need a weather-working.”
There were eight of us in the small below-deck cabin of the ship. Fear was heavy upon us, and I watched Yonos put his muscular arms around his wife Miryan before kissing her head gently. Gryffud reached for the hand of his wife to move closer. Ka’morion stood alone, deeply saddened for having lost his wife in our escape. Only tall lanky Oron, barely old enough to shave, stood apart staring at the floor.
I retrieved the Ark from under the small bed that served my wife and I.
As I set it gently on the small table, Oron spoke, tears rolling down his face. “M’Lady, it will not work.”
Kyann stared at her brother. “What do you mean?”
“I have used the Ark to bring the storm to our enemy. Now it cannot be used to stop it. I am sorry, I only wanted to send our enemy far from us.” Never looking up, he staggered up the steps toward the deck.
“How could you make magic that would hurt another?” Ka’morion shouted after Oron, pounding his beefy fist onto the small table. “You know it only comes back in kind! You know there is always a price to pay!”
But Oron was gone.
Our small ship started to jerk roughly. The pounding waves were mounting more of their fury against us now. One hit broadside as Kyann grabbed the table for support. Whether from shock at what her younger brother had done, from the fury of the waves, or whether from fear, I could not tell.
Then even stronger waves smashed into the ship. The boards creaked and groaned. Water splashing upon the bow trickled down into the cabin.
“I did not tell you all I saw,” Kyann then admitted. “There is more disaster to come.”
She told us she had seen us paddling our coracles—our life boats—on the open sea, our pursuers not far behind. With her voice rising, she shouted over the sound of the raging sea. “Our ship will be crushed. We must prepare for the worst.”
The bile ran strong into my throat, but I could show no fear, I knew that. Instead I asked, “Do we destroy the Ark, M’Lady?”
“No, I have a different plan.”
Kyann held the Ark gently in her hands. As designated Keeper of the Ark, she removed the two wings from the kneeling forms. “Miryan, you take these. Without them the Ark cannot be opened. You and Yonos take the smaller coracle and try to make your way south. We are not far from land, maybe two days. The rest of us will take the other coracle and go north if we can. Our only hope of saving the magic within this Ark is to separate the keys from it.”
At that point, tears streamed from Miryan’s eyes. “Kyann, I cannot leave you. Yonos and I are sworn as your Guardians.”
“You are the Ark’s guardians. Not mine.” Kyann kept her voice steady and calm. “And you have a duty. We will meet on shore when it is safe. But if I am captured, run and hide the wings. Do not try to save me. Do you understand your duty?”
I could see Miryan’s vexation as she silently wrapped the two wings into a dark silk cloth and tucked them in her ample bosom.
“Yonos, I charge you as Miryan’s Guardian. She is a Keeper until wings and Ark can be re-united. Do you understand your duty?”
“I do, M’Lady.”
I will not lie. Though we kept our manner and bearing strong, there was fear and dread in all our hearts. Had we come this far only to lose the magic of the Elementals to our enemy—an enemy that would use it for selfish means?
Moments later a huge wave smashed into our small ship tilting it sideways and knocking us all about. Then the groaning boards snapped and torrents of water poured in from above.
“Hurry,” Kyann said as she rose and shoved the Ark into its ebony box. “Let us save what we can of this day. Miryan, have no fear. If we do not find one another on the shore, the Great Mother will reunite wings and Ark again one day.” Then she added, “Tell your children that.”
With that, Kyann placed the Ark in a pack and strapped it to her back.
As we struggled up the steps toward the deck and into the pounding storm, waves continued crashing into our small ship and we desperately held on, calling out all the while to Oron, but he never answered.
With the help of Ka’morion, Gryffud, and Yonos, I managed to untie the coracles and just as we all started to climb in, another monstrous wave hit. How we were not crushed by our ship, I do not know. Instead we found ourselves in the raging sea trying to get to the wildly bobbing coracles. Yonos managed to push Miryan into one before climbing in himself. The rest of us somehow reached the second coracle. I took the helm, allowing our small boat to ride the waves rather than fight them, praying all the while that we would survive.
We never saw Miryan, nor Yonos, nor the wings again.
And now as the sun sets on our aging forms, we and our children continue to pray that they are alive and somewhere safe. What happened to them, we do not know.
Signed: Ainan, Chief Guardian- Book of Knowings, In the year of Atl 3496
Some of you may recognize this Prologue as I published it April of 2016 as part of the Book of Knowings series in this blog.
Here is some of the background on which this prologue is based:
An Ark is simply a box or container. There have been many. The most famous are Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant, containers of precious things indeed.
New World Crossings:
That people have been coming to the Americas for millennia is not a new idea. Indeed, this blog has recorded some of the more convincing evidence to show that ancient people visited these shores, perhaps even settled here to escape persecution in their own lands.
12,000 years ago:
This was a turbulent time on earth as the ice age ended and massive amounts of melt water dumped into the oceans. We like to think the melting and therefore the rise in sea level was slow, but that was not the case. Earthquakes and tsunamis were regular occurrences as the pressure of the glaciers was released and tectonic plates readjusted under the continents and island. It was a dangerous time to live.
There is a story that Sir Francis Drake performed a weather-working to stop the Spanish Armada from invading England. We do know the armada was blown off course and crashed on a rocky shore, never making it to England.
Those who have studied magic of this sort will tell you there is always a price to pay when you use the natural forces against another. Sir Francis Drake certainly paid the price as he fell out of favor and died a broken man.