Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Archaust Saga: An In-Character Introduction

Rumor and ancient lore tell us that malevolent ghosts dwell in the broad, grassy vale south of the city of Siliven. As far as we know, nobody in recent generations has seen these ghosts. In fact, if you stand at the edge of town and look down the slope, the vale appears rather plain, just weeds and grass with a small copse of trees in the middle.

But anyone foolish enough to go down into the vale runs the risk of having her mind invaded by these ghosts, and the consequences of that are madness, violence, raving fits and worse. The only thing that keeps the ghosts from ascending the vale and entering town is a little strip of green grass that encircles the town on three sides. It is here that the ten relics of the prophet Cabrien are kept. Set at regulars intervals along the circle of grass, the relics are contained in small, silver boxes which are raised up on tall poles.

These relics have some kind of power that creates a barrier for the ghosts. I don't fully understand how it works, to be honest. Unfortunately, they are no real barrier for disobedient or foolish people, who can, if they so choose and if no one is close by to stop them, simply step past the relics and enter the vale. This has happened a few times over the centuries, or so we are told. You might wonder why they don't build a real wall, something high enough to keep even the most determined troublemaker out. Well, according to the priests, the openness of the relic wall is meant to test our faith and discipline.

That's all well and good for most people. After all, who wants a mind full of ghosts? But then, not so long ago, a local girl by the name of Miral crossed over into the vale and disappeared. Her motives and purpose remain a complete mystery. She was quiet and shy but otherwise well behaved. What could possibly have possessed her to enter the vale? No one can make sense of it. I will admit to a fleeting temptation, though my intentions were mostly pure. That is to say, I went to the relic wall and looked for her. I got as close as I dared, but I never crossed. I wouldn't.

Not that it mattered. After a couple of days, Miral returned, and as we've now learned, all the old stories are true. She is no longer herself. Far from it. She has transformed into a raving, snarling lunatic, gnashing her teeth and attacking people. What does it all mean? I don't know. Most people are scared. Some are angry. But few seem to want answers. And that, to me, is the strangest thing of all.

Father is well aware of my curiosity, and he has forbidden me to come to my own house, which is where they are currently holding her. I only want to know what's happening. I only want to listen. It's not as if I intend to get involved. Miral is my own cousin. Shouldn't I be concerned about her condition? Well, I won't go in the house. Fine. But I can't promise I won't sneak over there and sit outside the window. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with wanting to know?

And that, folks, is just a little spoiler-free "in character" introduction to The Archaust Saga. The first volume, The Vale of Ghosts, opens right where this blog intro ends, with young Annella Fenn sitting outside of her own house, her back to a wall beneath her bedroom window.

It's a story about how seemingly minor choices sometimes have life-shattering consequences, about how events can spiral out of control despite our best efforts, about how a decision can seem so right in the moment before we act and then so catastrophically wrong the moment after.

Set in a fantasy kingdom called The Last Realm of Cabrien, it combines elements of fantasy with other genres. If you haven't already, click on the book cover above and read the sample on the Amazon page. I think you'll like it. Or head on over to my website to read about these and other science fiction and fantasy novels--HERE.