April 25, 2018

V is for Varslan

  Varslan appeared in the doorway of Venn’s room, bouncing on his toes in excitement and calling over his shoulder to his teacher, “Please, Venn, can we go around town with Svarnil and Kurit?  It would be very good for my education.”
  “Very well,” the bard replied.
  Varslan came running outside, Venn following after him.
  “First let me show you the dove-cote,” said Svarnil, and the three elves led the drake along the wooded path to the center of Tanoeb.
  Varslan looked thrilled to be in the company of a dragon.  He swaggered along like a prince, and when they reached the scribe’s dove-cote, he made the introductions himself while Svarnil and Thimberil embraced.
  “You are the dove-mistress now?” cried Svarnil with a smile.
  “Indeed I am.  Calain retired on his birthday.”
  “And Segrid.  He must be two years old now?”
  “Yes, and talking all day long.  He’s usually with me, but…” Thimberil glanced anxiously at Kurit, “He’s with my mother today.  I did not trust him running loose just now.”
  By now Varslan had taken it upon himself to explain the messenger doves to the dragon, and as their attention turned to the dove-mistress, Svarnil changed the subject.
  “When I come back after this is all over we can have a proper talk,” Svarnil said, “But I suppose Kurit and I had better continue our tour.  I want to show him the whole town.”
  “The whole town!” Thimberil laughed, “You speak as if that’s a lot to show!  But all your travels still haven’t taught you to scorn our little village.”
  “Oh no!  I wouldn’t trade Tanoeb for all the cities of the Otherworld!”  Svarnil turned to Kurit and added wryly, “Thimberil is right, though.  You’ll have seen all there is to see by noon.”
  “Well, come on, Kurit!” cried Varslan, “Let’s go next to Soren’s.  He’s the carpenter.”
  “Varslan,” Venn said quietly, “You are with Svarnil and Kurit, but you are here at their sufferance.  You are not the one to tell them where to go.”
  Varslan drooped a bit, and Svarnil said, “Soren’s is as good a place as any to see next.”
They walked across the central clearing, all the elves averting their eyes hastily from the dragon when he turned toward them.
  Varslan, brows furrowed in deep thought, suddenly blurted, “If I can speak with Kurit, does that not make me a dragonlord?”
  “Nay,” Kurit retorted harshly, a puff of black smoke escaping with the force of the word.  “If thou turnest thy arrow from the rabbit, is the rabbit thy equal?  A dragonlord is one whom a dragon does not kill because that is a person whom he recognizes as a peer, and, unlike mere people, a dragon will never stoop to murder an equal.  Thou, elfspawn, art no dragon’s equal.  Thy insignificant life is safe with me because I have said I will harm no elves as long as our truce holds.  But do not presume on that safety.  I am no tame beast.”
  “No, sir!” squeaked the boy quickly, and shifted himself to the other side of Venn.

        Varslan (and a bonus V, Venn) from A Threatening of Dragons, fifth book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter 8: Tanoeb).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Elvish boy’s tunic, design for modding The Sims, by penguiny7 (Image from modthesims).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter V.

April 24, 2018

U is for Uber

        “I’m going to get us in trouble?” Chen sputtered, “I’m going to get us in trouble?  It’s your cat!  You’re the one who brought your cat into an art museum, which, by the way, you still haven’t explained!”
        Polly just gave Chen a disappointed look and whispered loudly, “Uber!  Here, Uber!”
        “Mommy,” came a piercing voice from beyond the next archway, “Mommy, look at the pretty kitty!”
        Polly strode to the side of the wide opening into the next room, flattened herself against the wall, and peeked cautiously around the left edge.  Following her lead, Chen leapt to the right side and peered around, too.  The gallery was full of Gothic sculptures: madonnas on pedestals, two large stone griffins on either side of an archway, and, beyond the archway, sitting primly on the platform in front of a carved marble panel, a calico cat.  Coming toward them was a small boy staring back over his shoulder at Uber.  His mother, pulling him by the hand, was looking at a text on her cell phone.
        “Inside voice, Mikey,” said the mother automatically, “Come on, sweetie, we have to get going.”
        “But I wanna pet the kitty!”
        “Mikey, you can’t pet the sculptures!  Remember, we have to look with our eyes not our
hands, right, sweetie?”
        Chen, staring horrified at Uber sitting in plain sight, murmured urgently, “Don’t look back, lady.  Don’t look back…” 
        “But Mommy, it’s a real kitty!  I can pet a real kitty,” insisted young Mikey, still staring at Uber.  Uber gazed back at him steadily, and flicked the black tip of her tail.  “See, Mommy, it moved!”
        “Don’t look back,” muttered Chen, “Please, please, please don’t look back!”
        The mother, just about to pull her son through the doorway, finally turned and looked back at the boy.  He pointed triumphantly at Uber.
        Chen held his breath.  He heard Polly breathe, “Uh oh…”
        Uber remained motionless.  Not even a whisker twitched.
        “That is a pretty sculpture, sweetie, but we’ll have to come back and look at it another time.”  And they were through the doorway, and the woman nearly jumped as she saw Polly and Chen lurking on either side.  She glared at them disapprovingly, dragged Mikey firmly past them, and headed out.  Mikey’s whining voice trailed behind them, still insisting that he wanted to pet the kitty.
        “Whew,” Polly whispered.  “That woman’s almost as oblivious as my mom.  Not that my mom would ever make a mistake like that about art.  Now let’s get Uber before we have any more close calls.”
        They turned back to the carved stone… but the platform in front of it was bare.  In the silence they heard the faint tip-tapping of claws on the hardwood floor somewhere beyond the next room division.

        Uber (short for Überkatze) from The Extraordinary Book of Doors, an upper middle grade fantasy (excerpt from Chapter 4: The Cat in the Museum).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: sketch of Uber, AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter U.

April 23, 2018

T is for Tuzi (and Motu)

        Bluebell led Kate and Sam around to the back yard, where Beechnut was sitting beside a pair of cottontail rabbits.
        The squirrel introduced the rabbits, “This is Tuzi, and this is her brother Motu.  They live under the big forsythia bushes behind the composter.”
        “Pleased to meet you,” said Sam and Kate politely in animal language, and the rabbits nodded their heads and wiggled their noses.  The children could see that these rabbits had unusual bright brown eyes, instead of the black or red eyes of most rabbits.  Then all at once, to Sam and Kate’s astonishment, one of them leaped up and turned a complete somersault in the air.  As she spun she seemed to jump right out of her soft brown fur, and suddenly there she stood, in the form of a brown-eyed girl, only about eighteen inches tall.
        The small girl draped her empty rabbit skin over her shoulders like a dress and said in a soft voice, “There.  It’ll be easier to talk this way.  Beechnut asked us if we knew anything about those chipmunks, and we wanted to tell you first of all that we would never ruin your garden like that.  We appreciate that your family never tries to trap us or poison us or throw rocks at us as some other humans do, and we make sure never to take too much of anything that you plant.”
        “Besides,” added the other rabbit, Motu, “We’re not stupid.  We wouldn’t do anything that might make your mother give up on gardening.  Then we wouldn’t get to sample any of her vegetables!” and he laughed mischievously.
        Tuzi grinned at her brother, but continued, “After Beechnut talked to us, we began watching the chipmunks more closely, and we noticed that there’s one spot where they’ve been digging like crazy, right under the back steps.  We thought you ought to have a look.”
        Motu hopped over to the back steps and gestured with a paw.  Sam and Kate leaned over and peered into the dark space under the steps.  There were clumps of dirt and rocks, and the curling stems of the groundcover creeping in from the garden bed.
        “I don’t see any hole,” said Sam.
        “That’s exactly what they want you to see,” answered Motu, “They’ve been digging it every night, and hiding it during the day.”
        “That’s one of the reasons we think they’re up to something suspicious,” explained Tuzi, “Besides, chipmunks are usually diurnal.”
        “But why would they try to dig under the house?” asked Kate.
        “And how do we know that’s even what their scheme is?” added Sam, “And anyway, what’s this hole got to do with our tomatoes?”
        Bluebell’s black eyes glittered and she declared, “What you need is a spy!  Someone who can sneak down that hole and find out where it leads, and maybe discover the chipmunk’s secret plan, too.”
        “We don’t know anyone who can sneak down a chipmunk hole!” Kate protested.
        “But we do,” replied Motu smugly, “At least, I think we do.”  He looked at his sister and said, “Don’t you think old Wogwa would help?  It would be his chance to prove what a brave adventurer he is.”
        Tuzi smiled.  “He might.  He’s always talking about the grand adventures he had in his youth.”  She turned to the children.  “We’ll send Wogwa on this mission, and we’ll report back
to you as soon as we have news.”  Then she swung her rabbitskin off her back, and held it out in front of her.  With a little skip, she jumped up and somersaulted straight into her own fur.  The rabbit turned, wiggled her long ears, winked at Sam and Kate, and then hopped after her brother into the dense bushes at the back of the yard.
        Sam looked at Kate and Kate looked at Sam.
        “Well,” said Sam, “I bet when you got up this morning you never expected to see that!”

        Tuzi and Motu from Kate and Sam and the Chipmunks of Doom, the second book in a read-aloud fantasy series for ages 4-9 and their adults (excerpt from Chapter 1: Trouble with Chipmunks).
More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Pictures: Tuzi in rabbit form;
Tuzi in human form, illustrations by AEGN, 2009.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter T.

April 21, 2018

S is for Skoven

        In that long, deep valley between the Mountains of the Sky and the Mountains Mioruilt Ãdun fought strange, dreadful beasts and won his way past the haunts of terrible monsters, and ever he followed the course of the River Oosial, until it brought him north into the sharp heights of the Mountains Mioruilt and led him at last to the cave of Skoven, the White Dragon who could speak only truth.

     At conquering Ãdun's call, great Skoven came,
     The white steam curling from the stone cave's brim.
     His argent crest struck diamond sparks from the rock
     In the dark cave's doorway as he raised his head.
     The rattling scrape of scales on the blackened floor,
     Gouged into grooves by the dragon's silver claws,
     Brought the bright Skoven's jaws and his flickering tongue,
     Blue as a stormy sea, into Ãdun's view.
     Long as a man was the monster's narrow head
     Mailed in his milky scales and whispering steam,
     And his talons rasped the rock like sickle blades
     As Skoven flicked his forked and pointed tongue.
     Three-cornered eyes like moonstones blue as ice,
     Slit like a cat's, stared into Ãdun's own.
     And when the dragon spoke, his silver teeth
     Clashing like knives against his armored lips,
     His breath hissed flaming with his clangorous voice,
     Boiling the icy Oosial into steam.

        Skoven asked King Ãdun, "How has this journey atoned for the death of thine innocent brother?"
        And the king was stung in his pride and replied haughtily, "I have faced death many times since then.  That is atonement enough for a warrior and a sorcerer and a king!"
        But the White Dragon who could speak only truth replied, "No, King Ãdun, it is not enough.  For it was pride that killed thy brother and pride that turned thy victory false, and thou hast not given up thy pride.”
        And there amidst the peaks of the Mountains Mioruilt, scalded by steam from the spring that would become the Oosial, King Ãdun allowed his pride to make him foolish.  Once he had believed lies spoken by one who wished him ill, and it had brought him only grief.  Now he refused to believe the truth spoken by one who wished him well, and again he drew his furious sword in pride.
        Long was the turbulent battle between those two, the mighty Ãdun and the dragon Skoven.  The blue dragon-fire flared from Skoven's throat, and Ãdun's sorcery drew down blazing copper lightning, so that even in Eotheort could people see the jagged and forking flames kindling the sky above the peaks.  The clapping of the dragon's unfurled wings cracked the air like thunder, the ringing rattle of his argent scales writhing on the mountaintop shivered the valleys' pines.  Iron clattered against dragon mail, talons rang against iron.  The Oosial seethed into billowing steam, the stream-bed was scorched dry, until it ran again with gore, brave Ãdun's flowing mixed with the dragon's sizzling blood.  And finally King Ãdun's violent pride guided his fell sword to Skoven's heart and drove the notched point deep.
        White Skoven who could speak only truth now roared his death cry, the brazen echoes rolling ringing down the frozen mountainside, and King Ãdun, having slain the noble dragon, in the very moment of his fierce triumph realized the crime he had committed.  Crying, "Atonement!" he threw himself beneath the falling dragon, letting himself be crushed in Skoven's death.  And where two heroes had met at the birth of the Oosial, now lay one heap of bones, the slender rising spiral of steam still marking the place to those on the plain below.

        Skoven from Song Against Shadow, first book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter VII: Angduv).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Drawings of Skoven by AEGN, c.2007.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter S.

April 20, 2018

R is for Rosie

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so, between the two of them,
They licked the platter clean.

        Jack and Rosie could never agree on ground beef, but were otherwise extremely happy.

        Okay, I admit I didn’t make up the nursery rhyme, of course, but Jack and Rosie are indeed characters in one of my books, and I invite you to 
imagine them more fully.
        Rosie Sprat from Hey, Diddle Diddle! and Other Rhymes, a book of nursery rhymes with additional 
comments.  More information here or here.

[Picture: Jack Sprat & His Wife, Rosie, rubber block print by AEGN, 2001.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter R.

April 19, 2018

Q is for Quail (and Tij)

        “What about us?”  It was another boy.  “We’re just us.  We have no one else to take care for, and we take care for each other so we travel so well as anyone.  Right?”  He turned to the girl beside him and she nodded.
“He can see for me, and I can reach out for him,” she said, and Svarnil realized that the girl’s large eyes, though turned toward the people who were talking, were focused on nothing.  She must be the blind child Jiriya had mentioned, and her brother was the one with the stricken arm.
        Oru was considering the two children carefully.  “How old are you?” he asked.
        “Nine years.  We are born together.”
        “And what are your names?”
        “I am Quail,” said the boy.
        The girl, however, looked suddenly disconcerted.  “What’s Tij?” she asked her brother, and when she felt his shrug she said louder, “Rika, what’s my name?  What do they calling tij in Common Speech?”
        “I don’t know,” Hedgehog answered, “But you must not go back there.”
        Oru said, “You are called Tij in your language?  Can you describe what you’re named after?”
        The girl smiled shyly.  “Little sand-color animal, jumping very big, digging deep burrow.  Long tail with…” She made a gesture.  “Um, fluff on end.  Big ears, long legs in back, little arms in front.  That one.”
        “Ah.  We call those jumprats.”
        “I am a rat?  My name is Rat?”
        Her brother crowed, “Now I call you Rat!  Rat, Rat!”
        “No, tij is different, more like little funny hare, maybe.  Not rat!”
        Jiriya said, “We know a jumprat isn’t really a rat.  That’s just what we call it here.”  When she saw the girl’s disappointment, however, she said, “There’s no reason we can’t call you Tij.  You don’t have to translate your name into Common Speech, do you?”
        “Good.  That’s right.  You can be Quail, Pir, but I am still Tij.  Just like the dog.”
        “A dog is named Tij, too?” asked Nulif curiously, for he had been making friends with the two sight hounds while the others talked.  He was rubbing their silky ears while their tongues lolled and their feathered tails swished happily.
        Quail laughed.  “No, our vikuri is name Wind.”  He pointed at the dog whose pale creamy fur darkened to charcoal brown along her head and back.  “But she still have to be called Abri because she cannot listen in Common Speech.”  At the sound of her name, Abri looked attentively to the boy.  He reached over and rubbed her chin with his good hand.
        Now Oru said, “Tij, we appreciate your offer, but how can a blind child be a guide?”
        The girl turned her face toward Oru and answered, “I am not blind from end of Akuv, I am always blind.  I never needing eyes.”
        “But,” Oru began, but Quail had already jumped in to support his sister.
        “Tij guide us away from Akuv when dust cloud making everything dark with it.  When everyone blind, then only Tij can see.”
        After a moment Oru nodded slowly.  “So, Tij and Quail, you think you can travel with the Vizier’s expedition back to Lothvana, back to the site of Akuv?  You can keep up with us and help us understand what we see, even though you are not very old and you’re blind and maimed?  Do you understand what you’re offering?  It may be upsetting.  It will be no easy jaunt.”
        “What is jaunt?”
        “A trip for amusement.”
        “Oh.  Yes.  We understanding.  Right?”

        Quail and Tij from Ruin of Ancient Powers, sixth book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt
from Chapter II: The Postponement of Two Weddings).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: photoshop sketch of Quail and Tij by AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter Q

April 18, 2018

P is for Polly

        The girl paused at the corner and looked back.  She was two or three inches taller than Chen with straight brown hair to her chin like a Flapper from the Roaring Twenties.  Her knobby knees showed beneath the short skirt of a dress that looked like it was really an oversized man’s Hawaiian shirt belted at the waist with a bright blue hip pouch.  Her sneakers appeared to have been hand-painted with multicolored polka dots and were made even more outrageous by the bright, mismatched socks that showed above them.  Dressed like that, and appearing so suddenly out of nowhere, Chen thought she might as well have appeared from another planet.
        The girl unzipped her hip pouch and pulled something out before replying to Chen.  “Well, hurry up, then,” she said.  “Oh, and by the way, where are we?”
        Chen frowned as he caught up with her.  “What do you mean?”
        “I mean where are we?  City, country, building, institution, any other relevant info?”
        “The Cleveland Museum of Art.  How can you not know where you are?”
        “Well, I didn’t come through the front door,” she replied, as though this were a wholly rational and satisfactory explanation.  And then she whistled, two high notes followed by three short notes going up the scale.  It resonated loudly in the atrium.
        She had paused and then repeated the pattern by the time Chen exclaimed, “Hush!  You’re in the art museum, didn’t you hear me?  You can’t just go around whistling like that in a museum!”
        “Well, you can’t have a cat in a museum, either, and yet mine’s here, right?  So I’m trying to get her back.”
        Chen was beginning to wonder if the girl was a little bit insane or something.  Maybe she was here with a field trip from some kind of special school and had gotten away from her class group.  He tried to identify the weird look the girl was giving him.  It wasn’t scornful.  It wasn’t scared.  It wasn’t really anything, he thought.  Just a look.  And then it occurred to him how weird that was.  Nobody ever just simply looked at someone.  It was embarrassing.  Just to break the awkward silence, he cleared his throat and said, “So, what’s your name?”
        To Chen’s astonishment, the girl darted forward, seized his hand, and shook it heartily.  “I’m Polly Goggin and my cat is Uber Goggin.  Pleased to meet you.  What’s your name?”

        Polly Goggin from The Extraordinary Book of Doors, an
upper middle grade fantasy (excerpt from Chapter 4: The Cat in the Museum).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Drawing of Polly by AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter P

April 17, 2018

O is for Oracle

     In a moment the dark dragon slowed, paused in the air, and settled on the paved plaza gracefully, yet with an impact that Svarnil felt through the soles of her feet.  It had happened, really, in an instant.  Nulif was still pulling Svarnil’s arm, urging her to safety.  The iridescent scales, black and green, glittered as the dragon moved, folding its vast wings with a clatter.  The heat of its body pulsed out across the flagstones of the plaza.  As the dragon’s green-mailed head turned toward them, and the perilous eyes were almost on them, Nulif wrenched one last time and the two stumbled back into the temple, hearts pounding.
     Svarnil looked around.  The temple was full of people who huddled in terrified groups, whispering to each other.  Did they not know that the temple would be scant refuge if the dragon should choose to attack?  One swipe of its tail, and the pillars would come crashing down.  One burst of its flame and they would all be ash.  And yet...
     From the plaza there came no sounds of devastation.  Did she dare peek out and see what was happening?  Sakar Sikwan and Nulif both stood near the door, as Svarnil did, listening intently.  Fethilis on Svarnil’s shoulder was listening, too, and the feeling that came from her was not fear but expectancy.  Svarnil took a step forward and pushed open the door a crack.
     “What are you doing?” cried Nulif, clutching her arm again as Svarnil looked out.  The dragon stood still in the plaza, its huge head slightly cocked, and Svarnil had a sudden thought that it looked like Sikwan, poised in just the same posture of intent listening.  Even as the thought crossed her mind, the dragon moved, sunlight flashing off the shifting scales, and it swung around to face her.
     Three-cornered eyes clear as emeralds stared at the elf, and she stared back.  She had not covered her face or turned away in time.  She felt herself sinking into their green depths, and she felt their gaze sinking into her, so that she was powerless to hide from the mind of the dragon.  The dragon’s eyes were infinite, depths beyond depths beyond depths, until it was as if she could see the whole world spread before her in the dragon’s eyes like a vast carpet, every wave, every blade of grass, every mortal heart…
     “Thou art a dragonlord,” said the creature suddenly, its voice deep as the bedrock so that Svarnil could feel its vibration in her own chest.  The lylit bouncing on her shoulder seemed to vibrate to the same frequency as the dragon’s voice.
     Svarnil imagined her gaze falling forever deeper and deeper, yet never reaching the end of the dark, still, living greenness.  With an effort she pulled her consciousness back into her own mind, and answered cautiously, “I was called so by Lady Koir of the Ringwood.”
     White steam puffed upward as the dragon’s voice resonated in Svarnil’s bones.  “Thou art one who seeks truth,” it said.  Svarnil nodded slightly, and waited for the huge creature to continue.  “K’Ten has many liars.  The Seapeople come to me with many tales of falsehood and treachery.  They all ask for truth, but some do not want it.  Some desire validation, rather than truth, so that they may be justified in their lies.”  Fethilis lifted from the elf’s shoulder and flew to the dragon, fluttering joyfully around his head.
     And then Svarnil understood.  “You are the Oracle?” she cried, “But why then have you come to K’Ten?”
     The monstrous jaws of the beast opened, and, as a clangorous harsh growl burst from him, black smoke knotted with the steam.  “Dost thou question me?” he demanded.  Sunlight flashed from the teeth, long and sharp as daggers.  But Svarnil knew, from the gleam in the emerald eyes, from the unabated joy of the lylit, and from the resonance within her own chest, that the Oracle was laughing.  “I am not accustomed to providing people with my reasons.  Yet thou art a true bard, and a seeker of truth, and so truth will be told thee.  I have come to K’Ten to find one who is tampering with spirits.”

        The Oracle from Vision Revealed, fourth book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter 12: Svarnil meets the Oracle).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Knot-tailed Dragon, rubber block print by AEGN, 2008.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter O.

April 16, 2018

N is for Nulif

        Oru swung himself down from his klaameleh and stepped forward, hand outstretched.  “I am Oru Hamar-azh, secretary to the vizier of Empress Kahan-Atar of Sisoa and Yuwara Ul Sahd.  She has ordered me to come and ask you about what you’ve found here in Sisoan territory.”
        One of the Minarians stepped forward, eyebrows raised.  “I had no idea Sisoa knew we were here,” he said, holding out his hand in turn.  “I am Nulif of the Family Atsu, leader of this research expedition.   Come, sit down and share our meal, and I’ll tell you about it.”
        Although he spoke the common speech, his accent was completely unfamiliar to Svarnil, with a sort of rolling sing-song quite unlike the clipped speech of the Sisoans.  Svarnil slid wearily from her saddle, staggering slightly as her feet hit the ground.  She stretched gratefully and followed Nulif’s gesture toward the fire circle.  While Nulif brought a bowl of water and invited his guests to wash themselves, the other two Minarians hurried to carry some split logs to the fireside until there were seats for everyone.
        Svarnil looked curiously at the Minarian men.  All three of them had their hair tied neatly into short ponytails at the back, and all three had closely trimmed beards, although the beard of the youngest looked soft and sparse.  They wore vests and knee-length kilts in bright colors now looking rather dusty.  Nulif himself was a young man, with dark hazel eyes which Svarnil thought had an open, earnest look.  She found him eyeing her as curiously as she looked at him, and he said, “Perhaps we should start with complete introductions.  As I said, I am Nulif.  I am a researcher for the Great Collection in K’Ten.”  He paused.  “Have you heard of that?”
        When Svarnil and the Sisoans nodded, he continued, “Several weeks ago I was given a manuscript by a trader.  An incredible manuscript.  I’ll tell you more about it later, but for now let me just say that the Head Librarians of the Great Collection sent me here, to the area where the manuscript had been found, to look for others.  These gentlemen - Bolekwa…”  The grey-haired man inclined his head.  “… and Jadogwa…”  The younger one nodded curtly.  “Are my fellow researchers on this expedition.  And now would you tell us more about yourselves?”
        Oru introduced his two aides briefly, then smiled at Svarnil.  “I’ll let you introduce yourself,” he said to her.
        “I am Svarnil of the Tungoldroleth, of the Fellowship of Bards.  I too am a researcher, in a way, and Oru was kind enough to let me accompany him, although I have no connection with Sisoa or her queen, because I was curious to learn what you might have discovered.  That is my calling as a bard, to discover all that I can about the history of the Otherworld.  Can you explain what you’ve found?”
        Nulif’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm.  “It’s too dark to show you tonight,” he said, “You must see it tomorrow to do it justice.  It is simply incredible!  But I suppose you won’t understand why this is so important to us.  What do you know about the Chebik-lan?”
        “For myself, not much,” answered Oru, and Svarnil and one of the aides also shook their heads.
        “Very well,” said Nulif with a twinkle in his eye, “Tonight’s lesson will be on Minarian religion.”

        Nulif from Vision Revealed, fourth book in a high fantasy
series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter 2: Svarnil learns of the Chebik-lan).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Drawing of Nulif by AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter N