Kohlnar: A land of dragon-shifters known as Kin, and the Folk whose love allows them to change, and patrol the skies while praising His Name. A peaceful country cut off from the rest of the continent by a vast mountain range known as the Spine of the World. A prosperous land, with deep mines and soil producing crops nowhere else can duplicate. A land desired by the Two Kings of Sirulan, who will stop at nothing, including use of the death magic of the Church of the Blood, to get it. These are the Chronicles of Kohlnar.
Gathering of the Light: The war started by the Sirulani against the Dragon Folk and Kin and its aftermath.
Taren’s Tale (excerpt): Neighboring Threld fights the Sirulani invaders and a traitor in their midst tries to kill their Senior Mage during the battle. Only the man who would be Taren’s can save him, but at what cost?
bloodLight (excerpt): A thousand years after the Breaking of the Spine, a serial killer stalks the streets of Dialhon the City, while the Senior Healer desperately tries to find a spell to cure the unknown disease slowly killing his husband, the City’s chief detective and the man in charge of stopping the killer.
The Dragon Winked (excerpt): Far north of Dialhon, a mage and the slave the gods forced him to buy, bound together by love they won’t or can’t admit, return to dead Kohlnar, determined to restore the Light, restore the Folk and Kin, even if they might die in the attempt.
The old city was dying.
Each morning, the sun sent a tsunami of light across the continent from the Western Sea, surging past hills and plains, ancient forests and wide rivers, until it splashed against the mountain wall forming the Spine of the World. It roared upward, dropped back, and rose again to assault the peaks which thundered into the sky. Once, the light would have vaulted over the snowcaps to waterfall joyfully on Kohlnar. Now it merely crept across, oozed down to the lesser range of the Barrakech Heights, becoming trapped in pools and puddles by the walls and towers of the new city. Each tier collected more of the light as the tiers stepped down the mountainside toward the bay, until all that was left for the old city huddled at the base was a faint, thin haze barely illuminating the crumbling homes and businesses crammed against the shattered docks. New city and old, the light was now the color of bronze, the color of copper.
It had not always been that way. Once it had been different.
Moments frozen in time.
A century and a quarter past.
The men who were Kin called.
Soft melodic voices drifted across the land like bubbles sparkling in the souls of all who heard. The Folk heard, the land heard, and hearing, gave, and in giving the Kin changed, rising on thermal updrafts and wing strokes from farm and palace, from school and court, from tavern and mine, from bakery and brothel, reaching for sky the color of molten gold. They swam through a sea of brilliant light in the bone-chilling air above the Heights and then up further yet, rising above the tops of the Spine, swooping and turning, rejoicing in His gift, His Light.
Below, laughter and joyous calling drifted up from the city and the land to join them. When the Kin flew, not merely alone, or one or two on patrol, but when they all flew for joy, forming and re-forming in elegant three-dimensional hymns, the city and the land did not grind to a halt—they merely…stopped.
Foreigners fumed, but silently, when the impromptu holidays began. They could do nothing, of course, but watch with varying degrees of amusement, anger, contempt or resignation as all Kohlnar moved outdoors. Ships drifted untended, only a mage’s hastily set spells averting disaster. Children with Kin-designs painted on their cheeks cheered, pointing upward as they ran and leaped on streets of mage-smoothed stone. Farmers lifted hand-shaded eyes to the glory in the sky. An elderly couple gladly paused in languorous morning love-making to experience a greater joy. Servants stopped the changing of bed linens, as each of the Folk answered the call of the Kin.
Come, the voices of red and gold and blue, the voices of leaves and soil and water, the voices of hooves and drying wheat and stone, whispered to the Folk.
Rejoice, the voices of white and black and grey, the voices of tears and tourmalines and stars, the voices of wings and sun and storm, chanted to the Folk in layered harmonies.
Praise Him, the sky-borne chorus sang.
And so they did.
In quiet thought. In the laughter of children large and small. In joined hands. In flowers carefully laid in His myriad shrines, floating on pools of crystal water, waiting for a caress of light from one of the moons to open the petals to celebrate this day. The heart of the city pulsed, as the land pulsed, as the Folk gave, and His land gave, and in giving, the Kin soared.
Great wings lifted on the gifts of Folk and land, a carillon of color and music cascading in intricate patterns, somehow visible against the backdrop of shining gold, until at last they spiraled back, changing. Walking once more among the Folk, cheek-dragons glowing, the Kin herded children back into classrooms to resume lessons, and led the afternoon prayers in His temple. They plowed a field and pleaded a case in the ducal courts. They hurried to get drinks for thirsty patrons, and dined with fellow merchants as they arranged for shipments of grain to the over-populated, drought-starved western lands. Penalties for the Kin-delay were cheerfully paid to the plump, glowering priests from Sirulan who had purchased the grain.
A Kin dancer swayed gently on a street corner, sensuously moving his body to the blended music, soft and sad, of sith and lyrin, and the blue dragon on his right cheek seemed to move in time to the tune. The Folk musicians leaned against the building wall—a rugged man who played the delicate sith, a smallish man who stroked the larger lyrin. The dance ended on one knee, the other leg extended, torso bent so his forehead touched his stretched-out knee, his flowing hair dropping to brush the ground, his arms spread. He straightened slowly to the applause of the passers-by who had paused to watch, and leaned into the hand caressing his cheek. Sith player and dancer smiled for only one another in that tiny moment.
The passers-by dropped coins in the gathering hat, beginning to disperse. Two were brushed roughly aside by Sirulani priests en route to the great docks, muttering hatred and chanting spells of the God to ward off the dancer’s dual evil.
The pair of priests pushed forward in an arrogant, nearly straight line through the increasing crowd. As the docks came near, the younger priest bumped into a black-haired woman holding a little boy in her arms, knocking her to one knee. It was her fault, of course, for priests of the God always had right of way, but still, he was in a foreign land, surrounded by ignorant, but well-armed foreigners, so he stopped and began a cool, perfunctory apology which never would have reached his eyes. He broke it off, though, and recoiled with a hiss of indrawn breath when the pair looked up at him. Contemptuously, he looked at the Kin-signs on their left cheeks: a dragon of black-and-gold on the woman, one of green-and-gold on the boy. Tattoos, of course. Or simply paint to be replenished daily. But for a moment…just for a moment…the eyes on the designs appeared to open, and look at him, and then they closed.
Only the slightly stout woman saw the sudden flash in the younger priest’s eyes, and the faint cold smile flickering across his well-fed lips before vanishing. He grabbed the other priest’s arm and hurried him to the waiting convoy.
A single Kin soared at sun-down, shimmering in the golden light.
Eric does not do well with third person writing, as his own writing mostly attests. Nevertheless, he’s giving it a go again here. Eric is a Midwesterner, and older than dirt. Or as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with some who would claim what he writes is really fiction. He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. That’s why, with some exceptions, most of his writing has been and probably will be in those genres.
The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué (Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture (Victorian novel), Banging the Bishop Back (Regency short story paired with RRR), and the forthcoming no way out (Regency novel) and The Serpent Mark (Regency novel).
For one brief and shining moment (on March 5, 2017), Eric’s fantasy novella, Tattooed Wolf and Painted Dragon, was No. 10 in Amazon’s gay fantasy Kindle sales. And it has a really nice five-star review.
Other things in progress are some MM fairy tales: Of Princes False and True (from an Andrew Lang fairy tale); 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar (Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats (of the gruff variety).
Eric also hopes to finally get A Rollerblade Day, a book of mostly gay poetry, released, along with the fairy tales, in the first half of 2017.
Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)