Well, the cat is out of the bag, as they say.
This week, new graphics were posted to the web site, graphics of two characters that appear in the second book, Shadow in the Flame.
Both characters are very intriguing and I truly enjoy writing about them.
The first is Morna Anya, a young wizard who is forsaken to the darkest dungeons of Blackstone Keep for these simple reasons: she is young and she discovered an evil presence. The Wizards of the Edainar are distrusting of youth; they fear that which they cannot control. Early in Shadow in the Flame, Morna resides in her dungeon cell with her friend, a black cat and Tar Malal called Delotha Sil’. Morna Anya later becomes a key figure in the battle waged against evil. Does she become a Dark Wizard? Does she side with the forces of the righteous? What internal struggles will she face? Time will tell.
Here is our first glance at Morna Anya, the dungeons of Blackstone Keep . . .
Continuing through the dark and dank labyrinth of stairs and passageways, the wizard Argannon came upon a cell, one he visited most often. He peered through the small slit in the metal door, into the cell’s darkness. With a gentle wave of his hand came a slight glow to the darkened cell revealing a young female on a stone slab, a black cat cradled in her arms. The woman was Morna Anya; the cat was called Delotha Sil’, a Tar Malal. Both were sound asleep, and they looked so peaceful. But the wizard knew that under the calm appearance both were experiencing his nightmarish spells. Singularly lovely she appeared, her slenderness sheathed in a black robe whose clinging and sheen highlighted her shape, delicate curves, her long black hair fallen over the sides of her stone bed. Argannon stared at her face. He studied its contour, narrow and high cheekbones, full red lips. He remembered her eyes, soft, green and sparkling, almond-shaped, hidden under long, black lashes. Her neck was thin and elegant; her skin smooth and clear, and flawless. And upon her neck was the Mark of the Tree, only slightly faded. Ah, Morna Anya, my Morna, the wizard thought. If only you had kept your secrets to yourself. Some secrets are best left in the mind of their keeper.
The second is Straya, captain of the elite Etinian fighting force called the Shyr Shar. She wields the sword named Megil En’ Gur, or ajatar killer, for it was used by her mother to slay the wicked beasts. Straya is a powerful young woman who is feared by both sides of the confrontation. Her temper and anger sometimes gets the best of her and she easily provokes others. Straya becomes a pivotal character in the story. She is a complex person who never fails to amaze.
We first meet Straya on the battlefield, of course . . .
Roundthaler turned to the Shyr Shar and motioned for its captain. There amongst the fierce warriors upon a chestnut-colored horse was an Etinian female named Straya. She was a beautiful and powerful woman, with a finely-chiseled face, large, deep-brown eyes and flowing brown hair woven into a single long braid which ran down her back. Her body was lean and golden, and it glistened under the hazy clouds, her muscles rippled like the water in a mountain stream. She wore a short brown leather dress with attached steel armor parts and a short metal overskirt. Her boots were black leather and came up to her knees.
The captain of the Shyr Shar was known as a ferocious warrior who showed no mercy to any rival and who killed, as it was said, for the pure pleasure of the act. On her neck lay a necklace of teeth and small bones strung on braided threads of her own hair, the artifacts of those she had killed in battle. The sword she wielded with such deadly skill was called Megil En’ Gur, Ajatar Killer, as it had been used in past battles by her mother to slay the deadly beasts. The sword was magnificent and long, its handle highlighted with protruding steel carvings of ajatar wings and heads. Its blade sparkled as if it had been wrought with the dust of a hundred diamonds, and even though it had been through countless battles there was not a single blemish or hint of deterioration on its surface. Megil En’ Gur was a true work of beauty, a weapon, it was said, that fed from the emotions of its keeper.
Many authors of epic fantasy fiction have long neglected female characters, placing female characters in plots absolutely pivotal to the story. This was a trap I wished to avoid. Both Morna Anya and Straya are not only key to the story, they fulfill specific roles that hold true to their very nature. They are not flat or static, they have flaws, they each excel at what they do, they have a set of values that help or disrupt their decision making, and they face monumental challenges.
I am having so much fun with the second book. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another ten years!