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Author Archives: Bethany Faith

What Hides In Their Heart – Poll Results!

Hello again!

So, it is the beginning of June and I have now returned with the results for the poll (which is now closed!) It turns out what I’m going to start my third book with is…

Introducing a new character!

Which is probably gonna be even more fun for me than you guys, since I love new characters. And, quite frankly, this new character is possibly one of my favorites.

Also, just because I would like to torture you guys until I get this book published… I shall tell you a little bit about this new character…and then you won’t hear from her on my blog again until the book is finished. 😉

Short summary of what I know so far:

Her name is Ancantha, which I believe means fire…or flames. Something in Hebrew; I seem to have lost the notes on her name. So I can’t tell you the exacts there. My apologies.

She is from the lands past Shamayim (if you’ve been paying attention to the series this far, you’ll know what that is. If not then just ignore that) and Gavin is going to be the first one of the three to meet her.

Oh, yes, and she’s a girl. In case you haven’t already noticed. 😛

And that is all. I now have writing to get to, seeing as I have given myself only two months to write, edit, revise, proofread, format, and publish a book. So I shall be busy, busy, busy with this series from now on…or else I’ll have to do a dreadful thing and…move my deadline back.

On that note, I might have a small sneak peek or two coming up for this book (and possibly my novel) just in case y’all are curious. And I’ll try to get some short stories up soon. I think I have notes on a mini-series I was daydreaming up the other day…somewhere. I’ll have to go digging.

Okay, now I’m really done. I think that’s all. 😀

-Bethany Faith

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What Hides In Their Hearts vs. Writer’s Block

Hello, yee reader of this post!

In case you haven’t heard, I have two books published (look for information on the first book I published “What Lies In The Dark” on the “published works” page, if this is news to you) which just so happen to be part of a four to five five book series that I am writing titled, Trials of Three.

Consequently, I am writing the series as I publish it. This means that the time between when books come out depends on how long it takes me to plot, write, revise, redo, rewrite, and polish the book. Last year, my two books were released within relatively close range of eachother at about only a five month time span in-between the two releases. That is a very short time span to write books, given the amount of things that have to be done to self-publish a short novella.

In that respect, I intend for the third book to be released sometime late July or early August this year. I realize that’s a larger amount of time in-between books than before, and before you go a’wondering if the longer wait can be blamed on lack of interest in the series, I shall explain it to you.

First of all, I haven’t lost interest in my series. So that small handful of people that are eagerly awaiting the next book (you know who you are) be concerned not. I have a plan. This is what happened:

I wanted to start work on the third book (which you now know has been dubbed “What Hides In Their Hearts”) immediately after I published the second, but I found myself in a bit of a writer’s rut. So I took a stepped back away from it for a bit to reassess my plot, characters, world, etc. and instead started work on the second draft of my novel.

However, my “short” hiatus has gone on for quite awhile (four months, really) and I need to get working on writing it or else my poor beta readers are going to be sorely rushed to do line edits. On that note, I could start writing today only that I’m still stuck on just one aspect of the book.

Where to start.

This book is planned to have a lot of material and, unlike my novel which has proven to always have a good starting point, I could present any number of things in the first chapter. All of them give the reader equally important information, which can all be given at any time in the book.

Now, what does this have to do with you, you ask?

Well, I need your help to get me out of this little pickle of a writer’s block, or else I might never start writing it, and that would just be a shame. Gavin, Brian, and Emuna still have a long way to go before their journey is over. Thus I have concocted an age-old way to solve disagreements.

* insert drumroll here *

A majority vote! Also known as a poll. Which you’ll find pleasantly located at the bottom of this post…somewhere. Once I get to putting it up. You can’t miss it… I hope. I dunno. I have to tinker with WordPress some.

Anyways, on this vote, there are basically four options to what you want to be contained in the first chapter of the book. You could either; find out what happened to Terminus, bring in a new main character, learn more about one of the main character’s past, or be shown more of the powers that Emuna and Brian have.

Of course, I realize those options are extremely vague. So if you want a bit more back story (assuming you know at least a little bit about the books here) here are a few short explanations of the poll options:

Find out what happened to Terminus: This one is kind of pretty self explanatory. Terminus was swallowed by a powerful form of Luze earlier on in book two, and I never explained entirely what occurred to him. This scenario would give you a glimpse into what, exactly, happened. Do note though that this option is not promising that I’m bringing Terminus back, merely that I am clarifying the technicalities behind his disappearance.

Bring in a new main character: Pretty simple, I guess. I intend to present a new main character early on in the book to add to character conflict and story morals. Also…said character is just awesome.

Learn more about one of the main character’s past: If you haven’t guessed, this book is slightly a bit more focused on the psychological aspects of my main characters. Due to that, I will be presenting a lot of new information about their past and some of the situations they have all gone through to make them who they are. Choosing this options means that I will have one of the characters ‘open up’ within the first chapter of the book. Note that if you choose this option I am going to put up another poll, asking which character you would like to hear about most. Depending on your choice, I may or may not use that as the character that talks about their past in the first chapter.

Be shown more of the powers that Emuna and Brian have: So, you’ve all seen a little bit of what luze can do, but I’ve been keeping it pretty vague as to exactly what extent of strength these two characters have in their whimsical powers. In this book, I will touch a little bit more on that (and a little more in the next book, too). Choosing this option will ensue that you will get to learn some more about luze within the first chapter.

Just in case you’re wondering, this poll will be opened until the end-ish of May/whenever I feel like I’ve gotten enough votes and choose to close it. There’s really no officially set date, but the sooner I’ve gotten a lot of votes the better. 😀

Well, I guess that’s pretty much it. So, help me out a bit, and vote on the poll, please? We can’t let writer’s block win this battle!

-Bethany Faith

P.S. Just for the record, this post ended up being way longer than I intended. Sorry about the lack of short, easy, readability there, folks.

 

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Halflings by Heather Burch – Book Review

You can find Halflings at your local bookstore or online retailer.

This book starts up with action from the start. Opening in a forest, with the moon high in the sky, Nikki Youngblood, a teenager girl, is being chased by hell hounds – wolves released right from that very special place with a sole intent to destroy her. 

While her midnight ordeal is stopped by three Halflings sent to help her, the fight between heaven and hell doesn’t end there. The book follows her as a group of supernatural teenage boys sent to protect her work hard on finding out why so much evil is after her. 

In the process of being protected by the half-angel, half-human boys, she falls madly in love with two of them, Mace and Raven. Then spends a good majority of the book pondering over which one she could have, but the solemn truth reigns that she can’t have either. Humans and Halflings aren’t meant to fall in love.

Stemmed from a controversial Bible verse (Genesis 6:2) there is no doubt that very many people are going to have trouble agreeing with the theology that Burch presents in this book. The fictional concept that Burch offers follows along the lines of this:

The children of the Sons of God and daughters of men were called Halflings. It appears that the Sons of God were fallen angels that decided to take for themselves human wives. Thus the Halflings, due to their origins, are to a certain extent unredeemable. They can neither live in heaven nor on earth nor in hell. 

Because of their inability to be saved they therefore spend their lives helping and protecting humans. They travel from spirit to physical realm by something called the spirit plain (or…something like that. I’ve forgotten the name, haha) and then ‘magically’ show up where they are needed as per the Throne’s orders.

If you’re wondering which side they fight for, it’s the good side…well, usually. Halflings can ‘fall’ and turn to serving Satan, however, they are born serving God. Which is, evidently, God’s mercy for them even though they come from a line of fallen angels. 

However, rebellion flows through their blood and Halflings can have a hard time staying on track. To add to their troubles, they can’t actually hear directly from ‘The Throne’ but are instead dependent upon information from an angel in exile. 

Now, that’s the really broken down version of Miss Burch’s theology, I’m sure there is more to it, but that would be the bare bones. 

Negative Content:

The violence in this book ranges from gaping leg wounds to rotting flesh. At one point Nikki is brought into a battle by Raven where she proceeded to kill a hellhound by repeatedly beating it with a rock. 

While I don’t feel the gore in this book was graphic or frightening (at least not to me) I can see how it can be disconcerting to anybody with potentially squeamish dispositions. Be warned that you’re going to be reading about killing, blood, and other various things if you pick up this book. 

Physical touch is explained in a spiritual way. To clarify, Nikki feels attraction to Mace when she originally meets him due to his half-angel essence. Being supernatural makes him a relaxing and calming person to be around, this is touched up on multiple times. 

After so long, the various descriptions of Nikki’s reactions to the three brothers grew slightly monotonous and I started skipping over them. I think it could have been done a bit more ambiguously without having to pause every few paragraphs. 

As I’ve already mentioned, the theology can be sketchy here seeing as it was based off of a relatively controversial Bible verse. Because of this it’s probably best to be prepared to have a lot of points in the books question your own personal convictions. I didn’t agree with a good amount of the theology presented, but that’s mainly because a lot of it isn’t commonly preached-on concepts. However, I don’t think anything was presented that, personally, made me feel extreme unease.

Finally, there is a love triangle in this book. 

*NOTE: this next part can sort of be considered a spoiler so skip it if you wish.

Originally, Nikki falls in love with Mace, but towards the middle of the book she begins to fall for Raven as well. Though her senses tell her both boys are dangerous, she continues to seek after them. When the book ends, she is torn between which one she should pick, but feels like she still ‘loves’ both of them.

I think the love triangle was a bit too much like Twilight for me – this coming from someone who hasn’t read the books, mind you – and it could have been done just a bit more tactfully. Nikki seemed to swing from boy to boy towards the end without warning, whereas in the beginning she appeared to be relatively loyal to one of them. 

Positive Content:

This book is written from a Christian perspective and it’s modern fiction, so it presents God as a fact as well as makes multiple references to the Bible. Nikki isn’t a Christian (she refers to herself as ‘realist’), but still seems to accept Christianity as a religion generally easily. Then again…having half-angel, half-human boys, and an angel in exile standing in front of you would probably make you believe God exists too.

Nikki shows perseverance, being willing to fight against hell. She also shows bravery and sacrificial acts by wanting to protect the Halflings, her friends, and her parents. 

The Halflings show chivalry as well by protecting Nikki. Mace shows loyalty and makes promises which he keeps, regardless of the situation.  

Nikki keeps everything that is happening a secret, and refrains from telling even her parents. However, the lack of sharing between daughter and parents is portrayed as a stumbling block and frowned upon. In the end, it actually results in a major consequence. 

Nikki’s science teacher displays a good example of a kind adult. He offers to help her when he notices she seems to be struggling with something and repeatedly shows polite and kind behavior.

To note, as I mentioned, this book is written by a Christian author. Therefore, there are sprinkled morals throughout the story (I would list them all, but I think I’ll leave them for you to discover if you read the book) that reflect a Christian worldview. 

Conclusion:

Heather Burch pulls together a lot of aspects of Twlight in an attempt to write the same forbidden love, teenage fandom inducing book that has been buzzing about in movies, but with a Christian’s perspective. 

While I don’t think Halflings is going to rise up to my favorite books list anytime soon, I can see Burch’s reasoning for writing the book in the way she did. That said, if you’re dying to read Twilight, but are hesitant because of the vampires and werewolves and are really only interested in forbidden love and various love triangles… You’d probably like this book.

-Bethany Faith

 
 

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The Day Darkness Dawned – Part 4

Last part of my bits of this short story. 🙂

—–

To Rokam and Evony’s great dismay, the sun did not return in the morning either. Nor the next day, or the one after that. The skies remained as dark as they had ever been. At times, Rokam wondered if the darkness had actually increased since he had done his deed, but Evony always reassured him that it was merely his heart that showed his eyes a darker world than before.

The kingdom went into an uproar the morning the king was discovered dead. “Slaughtered by an unknown assassin” as they put it in the fliers that were tacked to every door.

The only change that occurred was that of the pale people, “the followers of the king” they called themselves. They wandered the streets as if a great illness had betaken them. Their eyes were tired; bodies weak, and as they attempted to carry on their daily duties, they only managed to grow more increasingly sick. After about four days, the streets were abandoned, making the kingdom out to be a ghost town of sorts. The life of the cities died, along with their king.

Due to their great illness the focus of the kingdom was, surprisingly, not on catching the murderer of their leader, but rather, replacing him with someone of equal power and leadership abilities. Many pale people wished to fill this part, but all of them had fallen ill and thus were rejected as good royalty, the concern for them dying from the illness they had all contracted being too great.

It was not until a month had gone by in this solemn lifestyle, that something rather profound had occurred to Rokam. At first Evony was hesitant to agree with his idea, unsure if it would cause more harm than it would help him, but she was soon very well with it, after having seen her husband’s eagerness to attempt it.

Therefore, they went to the castle and had a meeting with those who were presently judging who would be a good replacement for their leader. They too were people with pale hair and eyes, and they coughed and sneezed the entire time they spoke with Rokam and Evony for an illness was on them as well.

“How do we know-” The older man speaking coughed before continuing, “How do we know that this man won’t harm us? He is obviously one of the travelers from another land.” A coughing fit overtook the older man before he could continue.

A younger, less experienced looking, person sat beside him on a long table where ten or so people also sat. He finished the man’s thoughts for him with a scratchy voice that sounded as if his throat had been cut by knives, “He is right. He could be a threat to the entire kingdom! He could be mad! Why would we put him on the throne?”

Rokam nodded his understanding to the two men, “I know your concerns, good sirs, but I assure you I am neither a threat to this kingdom nor am I mad. You speak the truth, I have gone to the sunlit lands and I am not light skinned like you and your people are, but that does not make me an enemy of you-”

“How can we be sure?” the same white-bearded man spat.

Rokam thought for a moment, “If I were made king, I would not simply use my power for such pleasantries as attending balls or other such things which I shan’t list here. I would go to war for the kingdom which I ruled over; die for the people in it; defend them, whether rich or poor. I would strive to be a king worthy of my title. I may not be of royal lineage nor may I be from a castle or a class of great wealth. I am merely a simple citizen that wishes to fill the hole that has been created by the king’s passing and, hopefully, right a few wrongs which I have committed.”

Silence hung in the room for a moment as everyone at the table pondered Rokam’s words.

Evony shifted uncomfortably beside Rokam. She glanced at him and saw that he stood perfectly still. His eyes were fixed ahead, at the man which he knew would make the ultimate announcement.

After what must have been an hour of waiting while the men that sat at the table whispered amongst themselves, the white-bearded man that had originally spoke turned to Rokam. His eyes were dark and he held a scowl on his face as he announced their conclusion.

“Rokam, son of Rinian, we have all decided that, while we resent that you are a traveler, your examples of noble acts you would perform if you were appointed this high position were-” he coughed again. After a minute or so of coughing continuosly, the man finally caught his breath long enough to speak again, “Your noble deeds were indeed pleasing to us. Since we have seen nearly all the males in the kingdom and deducted that none of them are fit for the job due to illness or otherwise impure hearts, we have no alternative but to appoint you king post haste. Your coronation and crowning will be in exactly two hours.”
Rokam bowed low, “Thank you, Sirs. I will do my best to uphold the standards set for me and even far exceed them in hopes to prove to you that none of you have made the wrong decision.”

Rokam and Evony were then escorted out of the castle as the preparations for Rokam’s crowing began and the news was announced to all of the kingdom.

–•–•–•–•–

The sky was still black as Rokam began walking up the steps that would lead to his throne. Evony watched in the crowd, holding her breath and praying that the sun would return.

Many people kept their eyes glued on Rokam. Some of them held faces of disgust for their new king and his obvious rebellion against their old leader. Some were so sick they barely realized what they were watching. And some others yet, watched in awe of Rokam’s crowning for they liked that there was something different about this man. Something which they could not describe.

As Rokam walked up the steps he heard the crowd gasp each time he placed his foot on a new step. At first, he wasn’t entirely sure why they were doing this, but soon the answer was obvious. The sky began to sparkle with streams of sunshine. White clouds appeared and light leaked into the kingdom of darkness.

When the sun came out, some were awed, but others cried out in pain as the brightness blinded their eyes. For they had become far too accustomed to the darkness they lived in. The shouts of joy because of the sun’s return were mixed with cries and sobs for the loss of blackness.

Evony merely watched silently. A bright smile was spread across her lips. Rokam would be a good king.

–•–•–•–•–

I wish I could tell you that after Rokam was crowned there was a hundred of years of peace and then his heir took over the throne and there were a hundred more years of peace, but sadly, that is not at all what happened.

It is true that Rokam was a good king and he ruled with the just hand of a judge, but the gentle hand of a father. All who lived in the kingdom loved their king, for no one was as kind as he. And that was how he ruled for eight years, in a kingdom of peace and love.

Evony had their child not five months after he was crowned king and they were both joyous to find that the baby was a girl. They named her Clara and she was the jewel and crown of both the king and queen.

Sadly though, as I mentioned, there were not thousands of years of peace nor even hundreds or even fifty, but only a mere eight years was Rokam king. For on the anniversary of his coronation, a war broke out in the kingdom. The castle was attacked in the darkest hour of the night, when all but a few guards slept.

The enemy army made their way to Rokam and Evony’s bed chambers, murdering Evony as Rokam was forced to look on. They then captured the shattered king, who put up no resilience after having gone through the pain of watching his first love breath her last, and also took Clara, his eight year old daughter.

While in the prisons of the enemy camp, Rokam learned of his daughter’s capture and begged to make a deal with the leader of the camp. He traded his life for her release.

But the enemy was a breaker of many oaths, and he did not hold true to his word. Clara stayed captured, even after her father’s death and she remains a slave to the enemy’s leader even today, but she is still a light. The remaining gift that Rokam and Evony left to the world of Kochav.

As for Teshmar and what happened to the kingdom after it was overrun. The sun went black again with the crowning of a new king and light was once again forgotten. Only this time, the sun would not return to the kingdom until the end of Kochav, when light would return to all the world.

King Rokam, Queen Evony, and Princess Clara, though, were not forgotten. They remain in stories that are told to the little ones before they drift into sleep. The tale of how a simple commoner became the greatest king in all the history of Teshmar.

——

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

You can find The Hunger Games at your local bookstore or online retailer.

Note: When I originally read this trilogy, it was not with the intention to write a book review in the future.  This review is mainly to give you my overall opinion on the series, not an in-depth account of the content inside. If you would like, feel free to comment and ask any questions involving my opinions you have about the book and I will be happy to answer them as best I can, but I can’t promise to have everything important written in this one post. 

If you think these books seem unsettling to you, I strongly advise you do research on them and read multiple reviews before deciding to pursue them as a form of entertainment. As with any book you consume, be sure to read with caution and do your research.

A few friends had suggested to me The Hunger Games as a good read, when I had asked for interesting books. I was wary at first, since all my questions about the storyline were meant with disconcerting comments about twenty four tributes killing each other and love triangles. However, when I came across the trilogy at my local bookstore, I had an hour or so to read away so I sat down with the first book and contented myself reading. 

Before I was half way through the first chapter, it was clear why this book had become a best seller. As someone who finds reading to sometimes be a struggle when descriptions get too complex and POVs are jumbled, I enjoyed the coherency of Collins’s writing. 

The characters had depth and the narrative had a voice. I was quickly consumed in the fictional world of Panem, watching it all with my own eyes. The entire book rushed before me in a shockingly fast speed. The plot never stopped to let me take a breath. 

From the depth of the characters to the cruelty of the Capitol, there were so many factors that tied together wonderfully in this first book. 

Taking place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of North America, The Hunger Games introduces the readers to a place where there are 12 districts. The 13th was annihilated by the Capitol when it defied the cruel Capitol’s leadership years ago. 

Since the rebellion of district 13 an annual Hunger Games was announced. Each district gives up a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to be sent to the Capitol. They will then train, be objectified, and interviewed, in hopes to gain sponsors for the actual event.

The event? A to-the-death battle in an arena stimulating a natural environment, whether it be mountains, forest, island, ocean, or what have you. The twenty four tributes will be thrust into the arena and forced to kill each other until only one is standing. 

This is exactly the fate that Katniss Everdeen – the main character – was handed, when she volunteered as tribute for District 12. The story of what happens to this tribute when she is forced into this fight between life and death; fame and poverty, is then written down in the first person, present tense book that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Negative Content:

People die in so many ways that I’ve lost track; insect bites, snapped necks, explosions, being caught in a net then having a spear thrown through them, arrows, knives, and being mauled by mutant wolves…just to name the deaths I can recall. 

That said, even with the violence content that shoots through the roof, Collins writes it well, in a way that is done tactfully. She describes all the deaths as a-matter-of-fact and does not go into gory and unnecessary details in order to make the readers squirm. 

Of all the deaths, I can think of only one that is notably more graphic than the others. The final tribute dies in a brutal way, by being attacked by ‘mutts’ (mutant wolves created by the gamemakers) and spends the night slowly being eaten alive. He endures the slow death, until Katniss feels mercy upon him and ends his life quickly, with her last arrow. 

Other than the deaths, the tributes also receive countless injuries. Burns, bites, cuts, and other such nasty things. The worst injury being one to Peeta’s leg, which results in blood poisoning and a near-death scenario. 

The mentor for the tributes from district 12, Haymitch, is consistently drunk both on and off camera and lacks both manners and the necessary etiquette to be a good role model. Only one of the adult character in this book shows potential for Mentorship, Cinna, but he is in there only temporarily. 

Katniss’s mum lacks parental care in the beginning of the book, having forced Katniss to fend for the family since her father died. Peeta’s family is implied as being abusive, and he shows no connection to them. 

The capitol is corrupt and rules through fear in a dictatorship-like fashion. They obsessive over appearance, and objectify the tributes for their own entertainment and monetary gain. 

Positive Content: 

While this book has enough negative content to make it difficult to sum it all up in one review, Collins does an outstanding job of using most if not all of the negative content to teach lessons. She portrays the things done in the Hunger Games and actions of the Capitol to be wrong, and shows how the actions of others can have longstanding effects. 

Sacrifice is exercised on multiple occasions, starting with Katniss volunteering as tribute when her sister is reaped. Peeta also shows care and love by protecting and fighting for Katniss.

There is perseverance shown by both the main characters; defiance of evil, and Peeta expresses that he wants to be independent from the dictatorship of the Capitol, explaining that he doesn’t want to be a piece of their property when he dies in the games. 

Katniss’s love for her younger sister, Primose, is certainly admirable, as well as her kindness towards a younger tribute that she helps in the arena. 

While the main characters do kill to survive, they show remorse and even pity for the dead tributes. Death isn’t taken lightly by them, and it isn’t portrayed as such. Each life is individual, and even the characters forced to kill show vague awareness of this by their reactions to murdering fellow tributes.

Conclusion: 

Personally, I’m a huge fan of this trilogy, especially the first book. Every bit is truly extraordinary and worth the read. However, I can understand its not the book for everybody. From the violence content, to the lack of direct moral messages, many people might find it to be a controversial book.  

Because of the mixed messages and the violence content, I probably wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers. It’s hard book to swallow, with a lot of content and very much controversy hidden inside. Making both political and moral statements, it can be difficult to comprehend and take in.  

Regardless, I’d still recommend this book quickly to anybody who thinks this would be the kind of read they would like. It really is an excellent book, and Collins pulls it all together wonderfully. 

-Bethany Faith

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Book Reviews, Rants, Writing Tips

 

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They Day Darkness Dawned – Part 3

This is around the time of the story where I started to get bored of my own storyline and thus my writing failed, as well as the character development. 😛

Anyways, here’s the next bit of my short story-ish series thingamajig:

—–

Rokam returned to his kingdom late into the night when only the cruelest of the pale people wandered the streets, committing their evil deeds. He entered the gates near silently. Beyond the click, clock, click, of the horse’s hooves, no noise could be heard.
 
Dismounting from his steed, Rokam led the horse into a nearby, stone barn where other animals, more white and pale than his, were housed. He unsaddled it and carefully put the various tack items into a small room inside the barn.
 
“Rokam, dear.”
 
Rokam jumped and his hand flew his side, where he would usually keep a sword, but he found that he had removed his weapon when he had arrived in the barn. But the gentle hand the touched his right shoulder caused him to relax. He let out a calm breath as he turned around.
 
“Evony,” he stated calmly as his eyes rested on the kind, blue eyes of a young girl, “What has you up at such an hour? You are putting yourself in danger, darling.” he placed a gentle kiss to her forehead once he had finished speaking.
 
“It is my father.” she whispered, her eyes falling to the ground as she spoke. “Rokam…” she said as her voice began to shake with held back tears, “He changed. His eyes are…they aren’t his. He…he got angry and…he prohibited me to see you again.” she looked up as the tears overflowed from her eyes.
 
Rokam frowned, “He prohibits you to see your own husband? What then does he plan to do with the child? He certainly does not expect you to raise him – or, perhaps, her – by yourself.”
 
“I am uncertain.” she whispered, “I merely hope you can sway his decision. I do not wish to be away from you.”
 
He nodded, “Perhaps I can speak to him now? I have nowhere that I must go presently so I can spend many hours kindly correcting his new restrictions on his daughter.”
 
Evony shook her head, “No, he is in bed and was rather frustrated when he decided to rest, best not to bother him tonight. And to note, he would then find that I have been out and he would be furious with me.”
 
Rokam sighed, “Tomorrow then…” he said, his eyes filled with sorrow.
 
She smiled softly, “Tomorrow.” a moment passed before she spoke again, “Did you learn of anything from your venture?”
 
His eyes grew dark, “Aye. I learned of how to return the sun. Though I cannot say that the solution is one I am at all fond of.”
 
“What is it?” she asked hopefully.
 
“I must kill the king. Luckily, he has no current descendants, but if he did it would be necessary for me to do away with them as well. We must not let his family’s reign as royalty continue and so, I’m assuming, we would also have to appoint a new king.”
 
“How do you suppose you shall go about doing such things?” she said, a frown crossing over her face.
 
Rokam shook his head, “I do not know as of now. I will work out how to get close enough to the king for an assassination tonight, I suppose.”
 
Evony sighed, “And what of the new king? Who is to say that they would not appoint an equally cruel king to replace the last?”
 
“I am unsure.” He said, “I…can only leave that up to Shaddaih.”
 
She looked up at him, her eyes twinkling a bit too brightly as she looked into his, “Be careful, Rokam.”
 
He smiled softly and wrapped his arms around her briefly before pulling away, “You should be going, lest your father finds out of your little escapade.”
 
She nodded and turned away. Her thin form vanished into the darkness.
  –•–•–•–•–
Rokam did not sleep that night nor the one after that. Many times he went to the house that he knew Evony and her family were staying in, but his knocks at the door were left unanswered. As the days passed, his heart grew heavy with the task he knew was at hand and the ever growing worry for his wife and child’s health.

Three days passed and Rokam stayed quite busy as he gathered information from various sources about the weakest parts of the castle security. After many hours of planning, and multiple surreptitious meetings in the darkness of the night, he had plotted the assassination of his king.

He sat in the darkness of his home one night while he ran through the plan in his mind again. No fire burned where it usually would. Instead, the fireplace contained no more than red ashes of a fire that once was. A mere candle lit the small, home enough so Rokam could see his own hands.

 sat on the table in the middle of the room, leaning on his elbows as he bent over an open scroll. His face wore a frown and his breath came out shallow and nearly silent. One of his hands was on the table, curled into a tight fist, as most peoples’s hands fist up when they are thinking deeply about things that could change their life and many others’s.

A soft knock came at the door, causing Rokam to look up from the scroll before him. He quickly curled the paper around the roller and tucked the scroll away on his bed, underneath the pillow.

He then grabbed a cloak that hung on the table’s chair and slipped it over his clothes, being sure to pull the hood over his head and cover his dark eyes and hair. He hesitated at the door.

A moment passed.

The knock came again, more urgent this time, but still gentle.

Rokam shook himself out of his paused state and opened the door. He felt his heart jump into his throat when he saw whom had knocked. After he took in a shallow breath to keep himself from rushing at the person, he quietly stepped aside, allowing his guest entrance into his home.  

The thin figure of a person walked inside the hut. The visitor’s feet made no sound as they walked along Rokam’s wood floor and stopped only after having reached the table. They turned to Rokam. Pure white hands reached up and removed the hood of the cloak that had shadowed everything, but their bright eyes.

Evony looked up at Rokam, who stood in front of her, tears glimmering in his eyes. Her own blue eyes held a deep sadness about them, almost as if a cloud of darkness rested upon her. A red bruise covered her right cheek and she had a small cut on her lip, both of which looked as if they were recently received.

Rokam reached his hand up and gently brushed it through her golden hair. 

“What happened?” He said, his voice nearly a whisper.

Evony took in a near silent breath before responding slowly. Her words came out small and her voice sounded minuscule in the open hut that contained little furniture.

“He – my father – was angry. I don’t know what originally got him ill-tempered but he was in a rather dangerous mood when I came from the market.”  she paused to draw another breath, “He and my mother were fighting – from what I can tell he wished for her to denounce her loyalty to Shaddaih and she refused – and he-”

“Did your father strike you?” Rokam growled, his voice coming out more menacing than he had intended. He held himself back, attempting to be gentle for Evony’s sake. He was certain she would not enjoy having him upset as well.

“No.” she whispered, shaking her head slightly, “He had a greater sense than to do that, I suppose. He, instead, said that if we did not change our allegence, we could not live in his house anymore. Therefore, he forced my mother and I out. We were making our way towards here when two men came and,” she paused for a moment, holding back a sob before continuing,  “One of them had a knife and he…killed my mother and took a gold bracelet from her wrist the other one tried to hurt me, but I kicked him and ran for what must have been fifteen minutes or so… Then, when I was exhausted, I came here.”  Her voice faded away as she finished her tale.

Rokam frowned and searched for words.

A few minutes passed where silence flooded the room. Evony’s explanation hung in the air, waiting to be responded to.

Finally, Rokam stepped away and placed a few pieces of wood in the fireplace. He took a match from the shelf that was above the fireplace and lit it, then threw it into the dark corner. A fire slowly grew on one piece of the kindling until all of it was aflame and the entire room was lit. He then set up a kettle with some water in it, to make tea after the water had been brought to boiling.
Once Rokam was done with this he turned to see that Evony sat on the bed, holding an open scroll in her hands as her eyes studied the page. Rokam sighed and sat down beside her.

“You should not be looking at that.” he said as he took the scroll from her, curled it up, and placed it beside him, “Best you do not know all that I plan to do. Ignorance will save you if everything does not work as anticipated.”

Evony nodded, “When?”

“When to what, my dear?” Rokam responded.

“When will you…” she motioned to the scroll beside him.

“Oh,” Rokam paused before answering, “Tomorrow. Once the street fires have been put out for the night.”

  –•–•–•–•–

Rokam walked down the dark streets. He could not see the ground which his feet touched. Therefore, he counted his steps to remember when to turn and where he was. He turned to the right once he had counted to thirty, into the street that he knew would lead to the most secluded castle entrance.

He heard water trickling bellow him as he crossed a bridge, his sense of sight still not assisting in his walk, though he began to see fires in the distance.

Slowly, as Rokam walked further, the road began to be scattered with the occasional fire, until there was a stream of them on the dirt road he walked on.
Now that he had more light he could see that he had walked around the castle and ended up on the other side of it. His back faced the ocean and he could hear the waves as they crashed against the rock on the shore. A large, stone wall stood before him, and he walked beside it for some time before he began to hear soft footsteps.

He paused. Pressing his back against the wall, he continued edging in the direction which he heard the footsteps. Once he could see the shadows of the guards on the ground, he pulled the hood of his cloak over his head.
He took in a deep breath. The entrance to the castle was directly beside him. He just had to get past the guards. His heart pounded hard in his chest and a terrible lump built in his throat. But there was a task at hand.

Something stronger, a longing to see the sun again, came over Rokam and if only for a moment, his fears and worries seemed small. Taking in another breath, he edged closer to the entrance and waited.

The guard turned on his heels and walked back around, passing the wall which Rokam was pressed against. The guard’s eyes barely caught the sight of a cloaked man and his hands reached to his sword. Though the weapon was not removed from its sheath before a hard object struck his head and he crumbled to the ground.

A second guard had seen it all and quickly unsheathed his sword. He hurriedly lunged at Rokam, but his blade was dodged. The second guard tumbled to the ground. Unconscious.

Rokam dropped the large rock he held on the ground. His hands reached up and he adjusted the hood of his cloak so that it overshadowed all but the small white that surrounded his dark eyes. Slipping his right hand into the sleeve of his left, he pulled out a dagger and concealed it with his cloak.

It didn’t take him long to make his way to the entrance of the castle. He quietly took a window off of its frame and sneaked inside. It was nearly as dark in the castle as it had been in the courtyard, only that the hallways were lined with small candles on the sides. The candles provided enough light so Rokam could see where he walked.

Now that he was inside, he attempted to remember the layout.

Right, right, left, right, left, left, Rokam kept track of how many turns he had made as he walked through the silent hallways. Few guards were on watch inside the building and those who were contented themselves by sleeping on chairs beside the doors. Their heavy breathing echoed throughout the halls.

Rokam walked faster as he passed another guard. He took another right turn. This was his last one before he came to the large doors that led into the king’s sleeping chambers.

The doors were made of pure gold that seemed black in the darkness of the castle. Two guards slept on either side of the door. Neither of them moved.
Rokam glanced at the guards, taking note of the swords strapped to their wastes. His eye caught some rope a few feet away. Quickly striding over to the well-crafted material, he picked it up then walked back to the guards.
Within a few moments, the guards had both arms and legs tied. And yet they still slept soundly.

Rokan shook his head slightly. They had been drunk before they passed into sleep no wonder. He sighed, considering that these men would probably not live another day after they were discovered to be the guards that had been on watch that night.

His sympathy was short lived though as his mind jumped back to the task that was placed before him. He lifted his hands and pressed against the large doors.

The doors groaned then opened slowly. With the sight of a large room, with fine furniture and advanced architecture, came a rotten sent. It smelt as though a body had been slain and left in the room to rot.

He grimaced at the odor and took a step back. Once he was accustomed to the smell, he took a few steps inside the room. Unlike the stone which lined the hallways, this room had carpeted floors, which masked the sound of his footsteps.

A large bed stood before him, with collumns that reached up and created a canopy above the mattress. The sheets, which appeared to have once been white, were stained with bits of brown and some red stains from what appeared to be wine. Though, the brightest of the stains could even be mistaken for blood.

He walked up to the bed. Laying on the mattress, with a thin white sheet covering him, slept a man. He had long, blond hair that was knotted and covered the pillow which his head rested on. His skin was pale and a short beard was beginning to grow on his face.  

Rokam paused beside the man. The shadow of a dagger appeared as he removed the weapon from his cloak.

The king was merely thirty years old; he had a full life to live. He had no sons or daughters. No wife. He would never know the feeling of love or the joy of being a father. Perhaps he was not as evil as his servants had described him to be. Maybe he was merely a lost soul, trying to find his way.

Rokam thought of all these things as he looked at the man whose life he was about to end. Was he doing the right thing? Should he be listening to a stranger he met only once? Who’s to say that her word was correct?

Yet  as he pondered the man’s loss of family and life, his mind drifted to his own family. His wife that waited for him. The small child that was growing. Whether the baby be boy or girl, he was a human life, and much loved by both mother and father.

Rokam’s jaw tightened. He had to finish this, if not for himself, for his child. So that he would grow up in a world with a sun. So that his son, or daughter, would be safe and not have to worry about leaving the house at night or announcing his faith.

His fingers tightened around the hilt of the dagger. The weapon was raised in the air, above the king’s body.  The tip of the blade shimmered as it caught the light of a candle.

He took in a deep breath. His knuckles turned white. Closing his eyes, he let an image of Evony play before him.

“Shaddaih, forgive me.” he whispered. His words floated into the silence of the night and faded away.

The dagger came down quickly. It pierced into the king’s chest. The sound of echoed in the room, shortly followed by a gasp from the king.

When Rokam opened his eyes, the man’s body lay limp before him. He slowly removed his hands from the dagger that protruded  from the man’s chest, and took a step away from the bed. His hands shook and air came in short, small gasps.
 
A moment passed as he composed himself. Once his breathing had returned to normal and the shaking in his hands had slightly subsided, he turned back to the large doors he had entered from. He walked towards them, but paused just before stepping out of the room.

His thoughts spun, as if a million voices spoke to him at once. He could still feel the his hands quivering with the thought of what he had just done.

A minute or so passed as he stood there, listening to the incoherent thoughts in his mind. So many emotions ran through him in that moment; anger at himself, pity for the king, sadness because of loss, joy that he had finished his job… But the one feeling that stood above them all was something Rokam would never forget. Guilt.

As Rokam began his walk back home, he looked up into the sky. Outside, walking on the deserted, dirt road that was far from the main part of the kingdom, he had expected to see something. A star. The moon. Anything.
But as he looked up, he felt his heart sink and a terrible pit in his stomach formed.

There were no stars. No moon. Not even the grey shade of clouds that hid some form of light behind them. It was pure darkness, as it had been for hundreds of years.

—–

-Bethany Faith

 

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The Day Darkness Dawned – Part 2

As promised, here is the next part in my short story:

——

Rokam swung his leg over the side of his midnight colored steed. The horse shifted uncomfortably with the new burden he bore, but after a moment, adjusted his hooves to stand firmly against the ground. His firm neck reaching out high in the stanse of a great warhorse. The dark shimmer of his well-groomed coat sparkled slightly in the sunless shadows as the crowed watched with judgemental interest.
Their glares could be felt on Rokam as he sat upon his horses. The color of his steed volunteered the information that he would be traveling to the sunlit lands, giving the people a strong contempt for this traveler even before he had gone to the feared territories.
 
With no reason to hide his true nature, Rokam allowed the hood of his cloak to hang lazy behind his back. His deep brown eyes were now visible, containing the same mystery as the colorless sky. The brown hair that waved just above his shoulders fluttered about his face as the cold breeze caressed him.
He turned his horse around to face the people watching. The broken breath of a sigh parted from his lips while he studied the crowd before him. His eyes met with that of a girl, she must have been in her late twenties by now, no more than one or two years younger than he.
 
She had long, blond hair that reached to just above her shoulder blades. It was quite visible, even from a distance, that her hair was soft and gentle, not like that of pale people’s white hair, which tangled and felt as wires to the hands. Though what was most noticeable about the girl was her bright, blue eyes that shimmered like diamonds. They were light colored eyes, but not the white ones that Rokam’s father had. It was these color eyes that were once considered to belong only to those of royal blood. Long before the sunless days, those with these eyes were treasured and looked up to as elders with overflowing wisdom.
 
She looked up at Rokam when their eyes met. Her hands rested gently on a small bump on her stomach as small tears began to make their way down her cheeks.
 
Rokam nodded courteously to her and turned his horse around, not spending time to search the crowd for his father. He gave his horse a firm kick, causing the animal to lunge forward into a face-paced trot. The horse picked up pace as it ran onward, slowly making its way far from the kingdom gates.
 
The crowd hissed and screamed cruel insults at him as he vanished into the thick darkness. But the girl simply watched. Her eyes strained to see Rokam for as long as was possible, but soon the shadows swallowed him and she looked down, her small sobs going unheard by the raging crowd.
 
  –•–•–•–•–
 
Rokam’s horse trotted over a stream softly. The hard hooves made splashes in the water that sprinkled the ground as they passed over it. Rokam looked up at the sky, studying the new shade it had become. It was still not the bright blue he had been told of, but it had began to turn a deep shade of purple.
 
To understand what Rokam saw as he traveled onward, you will have to had seen a sunrise. The colors shifted and the night seemed to slowly melt away as if the sun were coming out after a long nap. However, unlike an ordinary sunrise this one did not grow because the time of day changed, but rather, because Rokam continued traveling forward. Therefore, if he had paused his horse, the slowly rising color in the sky would have halted as well, since he no longer travelled closer to the lands containing sunlight.
 
Rokam though, did not care much to discover this, instead, as it grew more bright, he grew more anxious. Urging his horse onward with a few gentle kicks, he started off on a light canter, which soon turned into a fast gallop.
 
It took Rokam only a few moments before the sun was fully raised and shining brightly above him. He was forced to squint his eyes until they adjusted to the light, but he did not slow down. He rode faster as the warm light heated his back. Now he could see he was in a forest. Going onward, he hoped he would reach the end of this sea of trees soon.
 
Finally, his horse broke through the thick forest trees. It slowed to a halt, pausing so his rider could take in the clearing in woods.
The sky, now fully visible as it was not covered by the tree canopy, was a bright shade of blue, sprinkled with the rays of light the sun provided. Large, white clouds clumped together in small parts of the heavens, sometimes blocking the sun, but never for too long.
 
Rokam dismounted from his horse. He patted its neck as it stooped down and began to eat the green grass underneath its feet. He took the brown bag that was attached to the horse’s saddle and swung it on his shoulder.
 
“Stay here. I will be back.” he said, brushing his hand across the horse’s neck a final time before he turned to study where he stood.
 
He now stood at the beginning- or rather, the end – of a long, dirt road. It led towards where the sun was high in the sky, surrounding the earth in its warm light. The road led to a small hut, visible to Rokam’s eyes even though it was far from where he was. The distance between him and the building was too much for him to be able to conclude if it was either empty or or not. Nevertheless, Rokam decided he would walk towards it and take a closer look.
 
  –•–•–•–•–
 
When Rokam reached the hut, he was disappointed to find that it appeared to be rather old. The door was rotting and the stones where covered in various forms of moss. Though, the door appeared to have been locked. Rokam sighed and knocked on the wooden door, fully expecting no one to answer.

A few moments passed.
 
The old, metal doorknob wobbled as it was shoved open. An older woman with dark eyes and a cruel face stood in front of Rokam. She scowled at him. She wore a simple robe that reached to the ground, covering her body. Her hands were clenched into tight fists and she almost seemed to hiss when she spoke.
 
“What do you want?” she said.
 
Rokam bowed politely, “My lady, I am Rokam, son of Rinian from the Kingdom of Teshmar, and I have come to seek aid in a great crisis that has occurred in my land.” he gestured to the sky, “Our sun has vanished and, our sky, left without any light. It has been so for hundreds of years and I fear my people are growing ill in more ways than one.”
 
The woman looked Rokam up and down, her face contorted in obvious contempt, “What is it you expect me to do for you then, strange person?”
 
“I only ask that you point me towards anyone of the people in the sunlit lands that may be able to offer me their assistance. I would be greatly in debt to you if you did so.”
 
The woman opened her mouth to answer when a small child pushed past her legs and burst into the open. The little girl, who had bright red hair and kind, yet somehow frightened, eyes, proceeded to then cling to Rokam’s legs, sniffling on occasion as if she were holding back tears.
 
Rokam chuckled and bent down on one knee so he looked the little girl in her green eyes. He gently pushed away the strand of hand that covered her eyes, and smiled kindly.
 
“Hello, little one. What might your name be?” he asked kindly.
 
The girl looked at him with wide eyes. She shook her head once before throwing herself in his arms.
 
The woman scoffed and rolled her eyes, “She cannot hear you. And even if she could, her mother was crazy and so is she.”
 
Rokam frowned and stood up while carrying the child, allowing her to rest her head on his shoulder. “She does not seem to be so, merely frightened. Do you happen to know what may have frightened her?”
 
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” the woman brushed the topic away, “She is only three years of age; anything will frighten her. Now, if you would kindly give me back my granddaughter, I would be much more open to helping you.”
 
Rokam sighed and placed the young girl beside the woman, “Be good now and stay there.” he said before placing a kiss to her forehead and giving her a friendly smile. Then he stood up and faced the woman, “Who then, my lady, do you think could assist me in bringing the sun back to my people?”
 
The woman shoved the girl inside before answering to Rokam, “I can. Tell me more of when the sun left your people.”
 
“It came when our king was crowned hundreds of years ago. The old royal family had passed and were left with no descendent to the thrown and so a new one was appointed. The day of the coronation the sun turned black and the sky was left without a cloud nor a star. It has been so since.”
 
“And this king,” the woman asked, “he is still in the throne, or at least, his descendants?”
 
Rokam nodded, “Aye.”
 
The woman chuckled, “Your people must be blind to the ways the unseen realms work to not have concluded the most obvious cause of your unfortunate demise.”
 
“Oh?”
 
“Indeed.” the woman said, “The first king carried a curse, of sorts, that was placed upon your land when he was chosen to rule it. Most likely, he took an oath with a power beyond anything either him or you have. Thus the sun will remain lost to your homeland until the last descendant of his falls from the throne.”
 
Rokam looked shocked, “Are you suggesting that I, Rokam of Teshmar – a mere peasant,- should dare to threaten my king’s life?”
 
“No…” The lady snickered, “I am suggesting you murder him. Why merely threaten a life you intend to take? Whatever your choice, it does not matter to me, I have answered your question. Now be gone with you.”
 
“But why- you- I need an explain- ma’am!” Rokam stuttered as the door to the hut was shut on his face. He sighed and looked down, kicking the dirt on the ground and grumbling to himself.
 
——

-Bethany Faith

 
 

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