Wednesday Words on Friday—Snow!

lou hoffmann books square iconOh my! it has been way too long since I’ve posted anything here. For those who’ve been following my progress on the re-publishing road, I’m sorry. The non-writing part of my life has been a busy sort of thing lately. Not bad, but crowded days that lead to tired—possibly lazy nights. Soooo….

I thought I’d play catch up. How about some Wednesday Words on Friday?

It also happens to be the 24th of December, just a few days after winter solstice, here in the northern hemisphere. Although people are celebrating all sorts of things around this time of year—and all the holidays and feasts are wonderful—nothing is quite as splendorous for the young as snow! One of my favorite songs ever, from the old movie, White Christmas—”Snow.”

It just so happens I have a suitable excerpt!

If you’ve seen previous excerpts or read the blurbs, you might know that The Sun Child Chronicles main character, 15-year-old Lucky, or Luccan, doesn’t remember his childhood. The last three years, which is what he does remember, has been spent in a dimension called Earth, in central California, where snow just doesn’t really happen. Well, in book 2 of the series, Wraith Queen’s Veil, he’s home. Not everything is going well for him, but one day he has a delightful reprieve from trouble.

Here are the “words.”

A few weeks after he arrived in Ethra, autumn treated the whole countryside to a ten-day sneak preview of winter. Like communities everywhere, the Sisterhold, with its outlying farms and villages, withdrew into itself. Short travel routes—from village to village, and to and from the Hold itself—were laboriously kept open, but few people would risk long-distance overland journeys, and the Portals of Naught had limited capacity, and anyway not everyone could use them.

Lucky found the wintry world refreshing, a vast weight removed from his newly burdened shoulders. Valley City, in Earth, rarely had snow at all, so winter outdoor pastimes were new endeavors for him and kept him happily occupied, allowing him to feel the joy of being young more than he had at any time since Hank George’s death over a year earlier. And everyone around him—even the most important people—seemed to let the limitations of inclement weather lighten their hearts a bit. The one real exception was Liliana, whom Lucky doggedly called Mom, as if that would somehow bring them closer. Lucky rarely saw Han, but the most wonderful afternoon of the snowy interlude came when Han came in to the Sisterhold’s kitchen while Lucky and Shehrice, the manor’s head housekeeper, sat at the hearth playing a game called skippers, which was almost exactly the same as the game Earthborns call checkers, and snacking on fresh bread pilfered from Cook’s cooling loaves.

“Luccan,” Han said. “I’m glad I found you.”

“You were looking for me, Uncle?”

“Yes. I have something for you, and I thought that with the new snowfall last night, today would be a good time to try it out.”

Shehrice grinned. “Go on, Luccan. You were going to lose again anyway.”

Lucky laughed and followed Han into the hall, where they donned boots and warm coats. Han finished lacing his high boots while Lucky was still trying to sort out the laces, and as he walked out the kitchen’s back door, he said, “Meet me at the hill behind the stables.”

When Lucky got there, Han was waiting with an artfully crafted toboggan in his hands. Unpainted except for the red steering bar and a twelve-rayed sun emblem on the centerboard, the wood had been oiled and polished to a high, slick sheen.

Lucky felt a bit tongue-tied, amazed that Han had been thinking of him—he hadn’t known.

“For me?” he asked, voice breaking annoyingly.

“Yes. Want to try it out?”

Of course he did. They walked to the top of the hill, and Han told him how to position himself and how to steer, and then gave him a push to get started. That first run was smooth sailing, and Lucky coaxed Han into taking a run next.

Han’s extra weight really got the thing going. He shouted “Whoo-hooo!” and when he crashed at the bottom, he laughed like a happy kid.

Lucky laughed with Han, and hugged him when he got back to the top, still smiling. “Thanks, Uncle,” he said. “I love it. I love you!” Instantly after saying that, Lucky thought, Oh my God! What did I just say!

Han’s smile fell a few degrees toward the serious, but he met Lucky’s worried gaze with calm. “I know you do, Luccan, and I love you. I’m glad you like the toboggan. It… it was mine. My brother… your father made it for me when I was ten.” He paused, getting a faraway look. Then he met Lucky’s eyes again. “Most of the things I had as a child were destroyed in a fire. This survived because I’d never put it away the last time I used it. I’ve cleaned it up a bit for you, slapped a little paint on. So”—he grinned—“your turn,”

I hope you enjoyed that!

(I confess, I remember loving the writing of it.) Thanks for reading, and whatever your season holds this time of year, I hope it’s full of joy and wonder.

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Wednesday Words: Si Vis Pacem…

lou hoffmann books square iconVIC (Very Important Character) Han Shieth…

…carries a whole spectrum of duties on his two-century-old shoulders. First and foremost, he’s the wizard Thurlock’s “shield man.” His role as Lucky’s confidant and guardian rank second in importance officially, but if push came to shove, he’d throw over the wizard to save his nephew. He’s the best horseman and trainer in the Sunlands—see Windrunner, Simmarhon, Sherah, and Zefrel. But he’s a military man too, the general of all the Sunlands armed forces. And when he’s in the world of Ethra, that  takes up most of his time.

Dragon’s Rise

Book four in The Sun Child Chronicles is titled Dragon’s Rise for reasons that have a lot to do with Han, but wait until later to find out why. Right now , I just want to share with you a short excerpt from that book, a little of Han’s inner workings as he prepares himself to prepare the Sunlands for war.

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Han had enough experience of life to tell him that no time of trouble such as the Sunlands was now experiencing was likely to end peacefully. With great luck, they might not have war. But it would be foolish to blindly trust to that slim chance.

Si vis pacem, para bellum,” he whispered.

Warrior Han An Earthborn, a Roman named Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus had written those words a long time ago, and Han never forgot them after reading them while he was in Earth with Thurlock. It meant, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Like the military truisms in the writings of Earthborn Sun Tzu—in The Art of War—and the premises of the Sunlands’ own Laws of the Sword, the simple sentence stated a large truth in a nutshell. But Han didn’t think Renatus’s statement was true everywhere and always. Sometimes, building for war meant inviting attack. Still, he knew without a single doubt that when all the signs point to the need for a defense, it’s best to have one.

If he’d had any doubt that now was such a time, it vanished when he’d arrived home last night to find a copy of that very book of Renatus’s writings on his pillow with a bookmark at the relevant page. He’d smiled at the small gift, even though he understood the meaning of it was grim. It was one of the things Thurlock had always done for him through the long years they’d worked together: If they went separate ways for separate tasks, he gave Han something extra, something specific that he would need along the way. When he was to fight Isa’s thralls in Black Creek Ravine, it was flame arrows. And this time, the gift wasn’t so much the book as it was the boost to Han’s confidence in his own military mind.

That’s it for this week’s words.

Thank you so much for reading. Just a reminder: I’m still looking for alpha and beta readers (see the blog post just before this one)—contact me if interested.

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Newborn Lucky in his father's hands

Wednesday Words—Good, Bad, Ugly

lou hoffmann books square iconHello!

In this week’s Wednesday Words, get a glimpse of three powers. Three people important in The Sun Child Chronicles, book 1, Key of Behliseth. Three people whom, whether they’re good, bad, or ugly, fifteen year-old Lucky might wish he’d never met.

Good: Thurlock Ol’Karrigh, Premier Wizard of the Ethran Sunlands

You’ve already been introduced and seen that in addition to being very powerful, he’s extremely grumpy, no doubt owing to his great (seriously great) age. Of course, no one can rack up a thousand years of life without gathering regrets. And some of the most troubling of Thurlock’s regrets center around main character, Lucky—or Luccan as those in his home world know him.

Thurlock’s sorrow—a memory

It was Luccan’s twelfth birthday, the day he should have received his cardinal name so he could begin to gather the strength it would impart. Knowing a little of what his fortune might hold, the wizard thought surely the youngster would soon need all the strength he could find.

Newborn Lucky in his father's handsAcross the vale stood the neat, sunlit windows and varnished logs of Sisterhold Manor, Luccan’s home. Beyond that, in the near distance, Oakridge rose form the hillside like a monument to history. When Luccan was only two hours old, Thurlock had brought him out into the summer dawn and fumbled him into his father’s strong but equally fumbling hands. The man had carried his child to the sun-sparked granite on the ridge and whispered a name into his ear. A powerful name known only to them. Witnessed solely by the wind.

And now, his birthday would pass without its most important gift. Because of what Thurlock had not done on Luccan’s first day, disaster threatened. For Luccan, for the Sunlands, perhaps for all the world of Ethra.

The infant, of course, had forgotten the name. His father had become lost. And the Gods’ Breath, fabled dawn wind of the Sunlands, kept its secrets.

Bad: Isa, The Witch Mortaine

Yes, you’ve met her too. She’s thoroughly unpleasant. You saw her before launching a more-powerful-than-most minion on an unsuspecting Earth. But here, listen in on her thoughts on his twelfth birthday. Thurlock had regrets. Isa has plans. And for Lucky, they spell doom.

She’ll let him live—for now

Privately, Isa thought it would be best to kill the boy and have done. Granted, the recent strange behavior of time brought opportunity. And true, the boy’s unformed powers might boost her own—in the service of her master, of course—if she could subvert them.

Yes, she would bow to the wishes of the Lord Mahl, and alter her course. The boy would live, long enough at least to determine if he could be put to use. If the costs in time and effort then grew too vast, the boy’s death would destroy the enemy’s hopes, and Mahl would be appeased.

She took tock of her image in the looking glass. The light filtering through the icy walls fo her keep lit her eyes with blue fire and emphasized her long bones and sharp angles. The reflection pleased her . Gone was the soft-faced girl of ages past, the girl who had been a fool. Staring back from the silvered glass was a woman of power, a witch who could wait for reward.

Yes. She would sow seeds now for the Sunlands’ defeat. Later, when she reaped vengeance against the one man who mattered, the fruit would be that much sweeter.

Form glass shelves holding bottles, boxes, and vials, she gather the bits she would need for the spell.

Midsummer stood on the cusp. The moment for cold, hard magic had come.

Ugly: He’s called Hench…

…but who is he really? And why does he matter?

Hate is a larval vampire

The walls of the Witch-Mortaine’s tower, glass colored blue like deep ice, stole the last of the day’s light from dusk. A man with heavy chestnut curls and a scarred face limped along the crow’s walk, circling round and round. His steps fell as listless as his greasy hair, and his mangled left hand dragged along the thin rail that separated the pinnacle from the clouds it speared. The cold steel burned and he pulled the nearly useless limb against his body, trying to rub life into it with his better hand.

The tower rose from a boulder strewn plain below the twin pillars of Death of the Gods, rooted between high-ridges, veiled in spells. At this hour the entire crater lay in shadow. But even with one eye, Hench’s vision was sharp. He could see cars sliding along Valley City’s roads trailing columns of red and white like snakes of light.Hench's view of Valley City roads, "snakes of light."

He imagined the people piloting them, tired Earthborns who wished they’d already arrived wherever they were going.

He wondered about their lives.

Did they have any kind of magic? Had they ever had it? Had any of them possessed magic and love and a good life and lost it all? He wondered whether their cars would pile up in a panicked crash if they but once saw through the magical veils and glimpsed the deadly crystal beauty of the spire from which he gazed.

He worked his shoulder into a painful shrug, wishing he could rid himself of the black shadow that weighed him down. A shadow he himself had created out of anger. And hate. He shook his head in persistent disbelief that it had overtaken him so easily, so fast.

He’d committed himself to vengeance, and the shadow had been born. A larval vampire that fed on his spirit, consumed his strength, crushed all joy. It grew stronger with every cruel choice, every time he lashed out burning with rage. It fouled his every step, turned even his best intentions to evil end, drained him of substance as surely as if it had torn his heart and bled him dry. The remains had become a joke, fool to a fiendish witch, tool in the hands of the person he most hated.


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Lucky found the way out of the collapsed Portal cave.

Wednesday Words: Wraith Queen’s Veil

lou hoffmann books square iconThis week’s Wednesday Words…

…are a little different. This is a long excerpt with a playful slant, but an important moment for Lucky. Book two of The Sun Child Chronicles, Wraith Queen’s Veil, opens with Lucky and Thurlock in the midst of a magical trip between worlds after having defeated evil in the form of Isa, The Witch Mortaine.

At fifteen, Lucky has to step up.

Lucky’s own newly recognized magical ability is responsible (in large part) for their escape with their lives. But when he begins to doubt, their conjured transport… well, crashes. Now he’d like to go back to letting other, more experienced people—like the wizard Thurlock—take charge, take responsibility, and get him out of trouble. But there’s no going back. He’s going to have to step up.

Here’s what happens when Lucky and a grumpy wizard crash land in a collapsed Portal:

Lucky stopped, everything stopped, as he slammed up against something rough—hit it hard enough to bounce off and skid over another hard surface flat on his back. All remained dark, but Lucky had a sense that the darkness had changed, somehow taken on somethingness. It felt cold and carried a mineral smell, and perhaps he could even feel its elusive presence on his skin. Skin that burned from numerous scrapes and objected painfully to the rough surface on which he lay.

What the…? Yes, that must be it. I’ve died and this is the Ethran version of hell.

It seemed plausible. He could smell sulfur. Although he couldn’t quite put that together with the cold. Aside from that, he smelled damp and stone, and heard dripping, and…. Tik-tik-tik, tik-tik. Like beetles and spiders with either big feet or else tiny tap shoes.

He might be dead and it might be hell, or maybe not. The best way to find out for sure would be to investigate. As sore as every part of him was, the prospect of moving alarmed him, but he tried anyway. It wasn’t going to be easy. Every time he shifted anything larger than a finger or toe, either his head started spinning or pain exploded like a geyser.

Gritting his teeth, he raised his arms—glad they were still attached and still worked—and felt around for nearby surfaces.

Maybe I’m just in a coffin, not hell.

Nothing close on either side, apparently, so not a coffin. Doing his best to ignore the ache in his head, he sat up. Or he tried to sit up. He didn’t make it all the way before he cracked his forehead on another unforgiving, rough surface. His “Ouch!” echoed back at least four times.

Lucky found the way out of the collapsed Portal cave.Feeling around with his hands, he discovered a wall, probably rock, behind him. What he’d smacked his head on stuck out from the wall, but not far. He surmised the darkness was really inside a large hollow space, like a cave, which explained the echo. He said to himself (and possibly to the echo), “But… where the heck am I?”

“How the heck should I know?”

That voice came out of the dark and dead silence somewhere around Lucky’s feet. Startled, Lucky again tried to sit up, again smacked his head, and this time his “ouch” turned into a scream. Before he had time to think, he kicked his legs wildly in self-defense. His foot met flesh with a crack.

“Uufh,” the voice commented, and then after a few seconds, “Luccan, stop! It’s me, Thurlock!”

“Oh.” Lucky waited for the wizard to say something else. When that didn’t happen, he gathered up his courage and asked, “Are you all right?”

“We-e-ell,” Thurlock said.

Lucky had not been aware that so much drawling sarcasm could be stuck into one syllable. Thurlock stayed quiet for quite a few seconds, and Lucky supposed he should try to say something. Before he thought of what might work, Thurlock continued.

“Well, certainly,” the wizard said. “Certainly I’m all right, Lucky, unless you count my head, which feels cracked like a melon; my ribs, which you just kicked in, undoubtedly all set to puncture my lungs if the pain of breathing is any indication; and my fingers, which I somehow jammed between two rather hard, sharp objects—just a guess they might be rocks—as we arrived here in our luxury accommodations, which are of course the absolute epitome of comfort, albeit a bit cramped.”

A brief silence followed, and then Thurlock said, “Perhaps you should breathe, Luccan.”

Lucky realized he had indeed been holding his breath. He remedied that and started to say thank you, but Thurlock had more to say.

“Oh, and of course I do feel a bit spent, having had a rather full day jam-packed with exciting activities such as rescuing teenage boys—”

“Boy,” Lucky corrected.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Only one boy.”

“Luccan, I’m feeling a bit out of sorts. Continue to breathe without talking for a moment while I finish. Can you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not ‘sir,’ to you. Just Thurlock. As I was saying—”



Oh crap! I said that out loud. “Never mind, sorry.”

“Precisely. As I was saying, rescuing one single teenage boy, and battling one witch and one god, while short on rations. So yes, I feel like I’m a thousand years old.”

Thurlock’s voice had risen steadily on those two last sentences, and by the time he was done, Lucky could hear pebbles and sand falling, having been shaken loose, he thought, by the wizard’s booming voice.

Thurlock shifted and groaned and grunted. The bug feet went tik-tik-tik, and something somewhere continued to drip. After a while Lucky said, “Thurlock?”

No answer.



“You are a thousand years old.”

No response.


Tik-tik…. Drip….

Breathe, Lucky. “Thurlock?”

No response.

“I’m dizzy. Or something.”

The wizard grunted and said, “Post-translation.”


“It passes.”

Next Lucky heard a deep wizardish groan and the sound of loud breathing. And, of course, tik-tik-tik.



“I’m going to be sick.”

“Well, turn the other way, please!” The old man’s voice couldn’t have been gruffer, but Lucky felt a warm, familiar hand giving his ankle a reassuring squeeze. He lay still and he wasn’t sick, and he started to feel like he could tell up from down. He sighed in relief, but after he stopped worrying about throwing up and having his bearings, he started thinking about the situation, and fear came galloping in, riding roughshod over everything else.


Again, a squeeze of Lucky’s ankle. Tik-tik…. Drip-drip-drip….



“Are we going to die here?”

A snort, this time, and then a groan.

“Are we?”

Sigh. “Don’t be silly, Lucky. I’m a thousand-year-old wizard, and you’re a smart fifteen-year-old Suth Chiell. Surely we’ll think of something. Just give it a minute.”

Breathe, Luccan, breathe.

Silence. Darkness. Drip-drip-drip…. Cold.


“Still here.”

“Where’s everyone else?”

“Where we left them, I’m sure.”

“Are they okay? Han and everybody? Maizie?”

Silence. For a long time.

Thurlock cleared his throat. “I think so. I hope so. I can’t say for sure, because I’ve been with you. The last I saw them, they were outside the tower finishing off a fight with Isa’s people. And Han was preparing to finish off a great blue salamander.”

“A lizard?”


“Oh.” Lucky decided not to pursue that idea, because he had other things, other thoughts cropping up. Most troubling, he kept seeing his father as he was in the battle against the witch. His already maimed left side, his empty eye socket. But his amazing strength and skill in the fight, and… a smile just before he gave Lucky his cardinal name, and the peace he seemed to find in dying. There in the dark, Lucky sort of expected tears, but instead a vivid childhood memory bled through the remnants of the spell that had locked them away three years ago.

“I remember when I was a little boy. My father took me on his horse.”

“Yes, Luccan,” Thurlock said, not nearly as gruff. “He did.”

“He loved me… then.”

“He did.”

“He loved me when he came to the witch’s tower.”

“Yes.” Thurlock patted his ankle.

More silence followed, more darkness. More Tik-tik. Drip-drip-drip. Lucky shivered. He supposed he should try to think about getting out of this place, wherever it was, because it didn’t seem like the wizard was doing it. In fact, Lucky thought perhaps the old man had fallen asleep.


“Not dead yet.”

“Why don’t you make some light?”

“This is the collapsed entry to a Portal, Lucky, a vortex. I told you about vortices. Magic doesn’t work, remember?”

“Why don’t we go through the Portal, then?”

“Key word here, ‘collapsed.’”

Lucky decided to wait for Thurlock to get ready to do whatever he was going to do to get them out of this. He had utmost faith. To his credit, he was quiet for a long time, during which he counted thirty-one drips and forty-seven tik-tiks.


“I’m going to change my name.”

“I think there’s a glow. Over there.”

“A glow, huh? That could be useful.”

“Do you see it? Over there?”

“Well, Lucky.”

There was that sarcastic drawl again. Maybe Lucky had been mistaken when he thought the wizard’s mood had improved.

“For starters,” Thurlock said, “it’s very dark in here. Also, I’m keeping my eyes closed because my head hurts a little less that way, and with my eyes closed all I see are stars. With them open I see more stars—I think that might be my brain’s way of pretending there’s light in here. Judging from the increased pain in my head at those times, I’d say that has nothing at all to do with the reported glow. So you see,” he continued, “I can’t see your hand, and I will have no idea what direction you’re indicating no matter how many times you point and say, ‘Over there.’”

Lucky could tell the old man wasn’t himself—probably due to a head injury, he thought. Or rather, he was himself, only more so. Lucky tried to be understanding, tried to stay calm. But, even though Thurlock patted his ankle now and then and made a number of unpleasant old-man noises, Lucky felt like he was all alone with his thoughts, and the path they led him down wasn’t a pretty one.

Maybe we are going to die here. Maybe there’s no way out. Maybe that’s why Thurlock isn’t doing anything. Lucky shivered but then took his wandering mind firmly to task, determined not to rush to conclusions. If we were going to die, surely he’d be trying to comfort me. He’s just tired. I only need to wait.

He lay still, breathing, listening to the tiks and the drips, and the grunts, shuffles, and moans. He felt the air move over his skin. It felt odd, and it took a few seconds for him to realize what it meant.

“Thurlock? I feel a draft.”

“That must be refreshing. I feel pain and something hideous crawling on me.”

That bit of dry wit was all Lucky could bear. He felt pretty sure he was going to cry, and in his mind he counted off a list of reasons it wouldn’t matter if he did.

  1. They were going to die there.
  2. It was dark and no one would see him cry.
  3. They were going to die there.
  4. There was already a dripping noise so his tears would blend right in.
  5. They were going to die there.

Of course, none of the hideous background noises could hide the sob that escaped as he counted off number five.

The wizard sneezed, and then he spoke. “Lucky, listen, young man. Here’s what you should know at the moment. I am hurt and I feel sick. I’m sure it’s not serious—I’m pretty hard to kill—but for this moment I feel quite helpless. I do not like feeling helpless. I’m not at all used to it, and the result of it is that I am irritable.”

Tik-tik, drip. From Thurlock, a moment’s silence, but somehow Lucky knew he was only pausing for thought, so he waited.

“Well, more irritable than usual, I should say. In any case, don’t pay my grumpiness any mind. Truly, a glow and a draft—that’s very good. Exactly what we need. But as I said, I’m basically helpless right now. I’m going to need your help again. You know how getting out of a place like this works because you’ve done it before, when you landed in the cave on Earth. This time you’ve got a grouchy old man along for company. You can handle that, right?”

Thurlock waited, so Lucky very quietly said, “Right.”

“Try to get turned so you can move toward the glow and the draft—do they come from the same direction?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Good. Okay. Go carefully, so you don’t get hurt or fall into a pit or something. Go slowly, so I can hold on to your ankle when we’re crawling, or your shoulder if we get to someplace we can walk. That way I won’t get lost, and as long as I’ve got hold of you, we’ll both know we’re in this together. I am sick and half-blind at the moment, but if we run into a problem, I might still be good to have around.”

When Thurlock stopped talking, it only took Lucky a few seconds to realize some response was probably a good idea. “Oh, uh, yes sir.”

“Good, but you don’t have to agree so enthusiastically.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Just kidding, and stop calling me sir.”

Lucky wasn’t sure how he could tell, but he was pretty sure Thurlock was grinning. Then he turned serious again.

“But, young man, here’s what else is important. Are you listening?”

“Um….” Tik-tik…. Drip…. “Yes?”

“Good. Pay attention. I trust you, Luccan, Suth Chiell. I’d trust you with my life. I am trusting you with my life. But it’s not a problem. As you will someday come to know, I and a multitude of other people would follow you anywhere. So face that light, let me latch on, and lead me out of here.”


“Get used to it, Lucky, it’s your job.”

Tik-tik. Drip.

“Move it, boy!”

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K'ormahk, winged stallion in The Sun Child Chronicles

Beasts, Dragons, and Fantasy Folks

Hello readers! This post isn’t about what I’m changing and new things I’m doing. Switching things up, today I’m going to tell you about something that won’t change.

Fantasy world populations: huge and strange

The Sun Child Chronicles develops a huge cast of characters and creatures by the time it gets into the fifth book. The variety of experience for readers (and authors) is one of the things I love best about the genre. Fantasy plots are thick and enticing. Well-written fantasy usually often includes delightfully balanced prose—lyrical, but not overdone. But I love the vast potential for variety in the beings that inhabit a fantasy world. To complicate things even more deliciously, some fantasies also venture into sci-fi. In The Sun Child Creatures, the Terrathians and their strange apparatus definitely fall into that category, along with some plot and world-structure elements.

Lists and pictures and things, oh my!

Below you’ll find a glossary-type list of some of the characters, beasts, and creatures introduced by book 3 in The Sun Child Chronicles. I hope you enjoy it, but if you want to go looking for other strange creatures, here are a few references I found.

  1. A list with some images of creatures from mythology, on
  2. Here’s a Pinterest (Shelby Peterson) with hundreds of images of “humanoid” fantasy beings. View with caution. Some images may be dark or disturbing.
  3. And—no surprise—there’s a Wikipedia! The Fantasy Creatures Category has a list with many subcategories. One could get lost down this rabbit hole!

Characters and Creatures

(A List of some important players introduced in Key of Behliseth, Wraith Queen’s Veil, and Ciarrah’s Light)

The Main Characters

Others, in Alphabetical Order

A-BImage and text: I am Baneshieldh, the wolf who keeps these woods.

  • Aedanh: Liliana’s renowned stallion
  • Ahrion: a legendary white winged horse
  • Alahn Kahrry: an elder of the Sisterhold
  • Artko Mak: A bear shifter from Earth
  • Baneshieldh: wolf who rules his forest, where magic doesn’t work
  • Black Dragon: a rare wingless dragon native to the Ehls
  • Blue Drakes: a magically mutated creature made from green dragon eggs


  • Cairnwights: thin humanoid residents of Ethra’s far north, glacier wolf handlers
  • Caveblight: an Ethran animal, single eye, hunts by heat, teeth like a beaver but pointed
  • Ciarrah: an ancient dragon-kin girl, Niamh’s sister, now an obsidian magical dagger
  • Dawn cats: large wild felines who hunt at dawn, also called venom cats or death kittens
  • Gerania: second in command of Behlishan’s Guard, Zhevi’s mother’s cousin
  • Ghriffon: King of the flame eagles
  • Glacier wolves: a pack-oriented Ethran canine; large, shaggy, with double rows of teeth
  • Guriohl: Morrow’s seventh son, Lucky’s boyfriend, also known as Rio

K'ormahk, winged stallion in The Sun Child ChroniclesH-K

  • Hank George: older Earthborn man of the Kotah’neh people, took Lucky in when he was banished to Earth at age 12
  • Henry George: nephew of Hank George, last bearer of the Mark of the Others, Sacramento firefighter, California Condor Shifter
  • Isa, the Witch-Mortaine: a witch thoroughly possessed by evil
  • Jehnseth: an official at the Sisterhold, a witch
  • Khoralie: a wizard of Ethra
  • Koehl: sergeant in Behlishan’s Guard
  • K’ormahk: a mighty, winged black stallion


  • L’Aria Tira: young girl tied to Lucky by prophecy, only child of Tiro L’Rieve, possessor of River Song magic
  • Lemon Martinez: a grumpy grey cat Thurlock and Han found under the Martinez Bridge
  • Liliana, The Lady Grace: Lucky’s mother, member of the Sunlands council, chief of the elite cavalry known as Shanha’s Rangers, renowned and infamous witch
  • Mahros: ill-tempered, resentful, powerful wizard related to Thurlock;
  • Maizie: a yellow mongrel dog Lucky raised during his time as a homeless teen
  • Morrow, the Stable Master: an immortal who, with his seven sons, raises horses


  • Nahk’tesh: Naht’kah’s eternal consort and her magical opposite, also known as the taker
  • Naht’kah: ancestor of all dragons and the Drakha and Droghona, also known as the giver
  • Nat’Kori: ancient Drakha stone wright who shaped Ciarrah and Niamh
  • Niamh: an ancient dragon-kin boy, Ciarrah’s brother, now an amber magical dagger
  • Olana: respected Droghona elder, gifted light-worker
  • Olmar: lieutenant (later captain) in Behlishan’s Guard
  • Pahlanus: powerful Terrathian Prime


  • Rosishan: Lucky’s aunt, Liliana’s half sister, council member, renowned witch
  • Sherah: Thurlock’s renowned mare
  • Simarrohn: Han’s well-trained mare
  • Tahlina: healer at the Sisterhold
  • Talon Bastien: speaker of the eagle-shifter clan from Earth
  • Tennehk: Good friend of Han, spy, nurse
  • Tiro L’Rieve: oldest living being in Ethra, only native Ethran shifter, origin of River Song magic, L’Aria’s father

Windrunner image—He wasn't always called Windy.W-Z

  • Windrunner: An old white horse now known as Windy
  • Wraith Queen: the wraith of a once living queen; helps the Ethran dead move on
  • Zefrehl: Lucky’s horse, a descendant of Windrunner
  • Zhevi: young soldier, Lucky’s good friend, L’Aria’s boyfriend


Thanks for reading!

I hope these brief descriptions set your imagination spinning. 🙂 And please feel free to ask questions or comment—tell me your favorite creature or whatever. You can comment here or find me on Facebook or Twitter.


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Magical girl L'Aria in water with gem

Wednesday Words: L’Aria—Magic, Sass

Hello! Wednesday Words this week is a bit longer than the previous. I want you to meet an important character—L’Aria Tira. She’s known for being magical in a big way, sharing an inborn talent called River Song with only one other person in Ethra—her father. On the flip side, she’s known for being independent, headstrong, capable, and sassy as hell. And her fate is tied to Luccan’s. A slight disclaimer—I’m revising before re-releasing, so the words (though not the story or the characters) may change in the new edition.)

Words about Fate

This is from Key of Behliseth (The Sun Child Chronicles #1), and it shows how L’Aria’s life is entwined with Lucky’s. (And, coincidentally, it also reveals a strange truth about Lucky’s life.)

As L’Aria was the only child of the strangest, most enigmatic man in Ethra, everyone had always known she was unique. But on the night of Luccan’s disappearance, it had become clear how important she was to Ethra’s future and how closely her fate was tied to Luccan’s. That night, she’d fallen into a stupor and couldn’t be roused even by Thurlock. Finally, her father, the legendary Tiro, had carried her away to Greenwood Forest. Neither had been seen again for twenty-nine years.

Last year, the day after Thurlock and Han had come to Earth, she’d shown up alone at the Sisterhold, still a girl, only two years older than she had been the day of Luccan’s disappearance. Every wizard, witch, and scholar in the Sunlands and beyond ran to the scrolls. Histories, prophecies, and theories papered walls and tables and even floors in studies and classrooms around the globe.

But it was Rosishan, the least scholarly of all the great witches, who’d figured it out. L’Aria’s fate was inextricably tied to Luccan’s. Luccan had aged in Earth years, and so had she. Born at spring equinox forty-one Ethran years ago, this year she’d turned fourteen.


Words about the Magic

Here’s a few paragraphs from Wraith Queen’s Veil (The Sun Child Chronicles #2) showing her using her song, preparing to help some soldiers get through a flood to a badly placed portal so they can leave Earth and get back home to Ethra.

Barefoot, ragged, and beautiful, with a gem on her forehead flashing back the early light, she walked into the water—back straight, chink proud, hands held open at her sides.

She was singing as she went, a high, ethereal melody with a thousand inner harmonies. Magical girl L'Aria in water with gem

L’Aria’s magic flowed ahead of her in waves like another stream. She walked in deeper, and when the water touched her fingertips, it calmed and cleared, revealing every rock and crevice that lurked beneath it’s surface.

The soldiers followed, leading their horses and letting them put their hooves down carefully. She led them in a sickle curve across the flats that had become a flood, keeping them away from the swirling water where Isa’s keep had been. When they came to the deeper, faster waters racing down Black Creek’s usual course, the portal loomed high above, but only short yards ahead.

L’Aria stopped and her song changed subtly; it seemed more insistent. She clasped her hands together, curved into a graceful dive, and disappeared beneath the rough waters. For seconds the current danced with lights—turquoise, violet, tender green. When they faded, the water stilled in a swath from the creek’s banks to the foot of the broken pillars. It took on a sea-green translucence the exact color of L’Aria’s gem.

Thanks for reading—I hope it wets your appetite. 🙂

BTW, I love comments and likes and followers on Facebook or Twitter almost as much as I love chocolate. Just so you know.

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Isa's worktable potions

Fork—Road! And excerpt: the evil one

A multi-book series like The Sun Child Chronicles is a big project, with a lot of content to complete and coordinate, and a lot of tasks outside of writing. I’ve of course been working on content right along. But this week I also turned my desk lamp toward one of those outside tasks—answering the big question: How will I publish this?


A four-tine fork in the road Literally, the cliché fork in the road

The options are limited, of course. I can tick them off on the fingers of one hand, not even using my thumb. (And yes, that image is cliché. But I couldn’t resist.)

  • Get an agent and let them handle selling my book to a big, traditional publishing house, brokering a deal worth thousands.
  • Flag down a busy acquiring editor from one of those publishers and hook them on my book.
  • Find interested mid-sized or small publishers. These are called “indie” (for independent), but it’s still considered “traditional” publishing.
  • Publish the series myself. This gives me all the control over when and how, aesthetic and content. And it carries with it a whole new set of choices I won’t go into here.


Let me break that down, as they say

Honestly, I’d love to go with choice one—a great agent who loves my book who sells it to a publisher who loves my book… But it’s not that easy. I think I’d have a good chance if I were touting a brand-new book, standalone with the potential to become a series. After all, I have credentials as a traditionally published author, experience in the process, and so forth. But a little research has yet to yield any agent who’s likely to look at a the previously published, revised four books of a series, even though it brings along plenty of new writing including book five now and more to come.

Option two is similar. Dream-come-true potential, but also difficult to find. And working directly with such an editor puts negotiation on my plate, and I can’t say I’ve got great skill in that arena. The only time I ever proved to be great at bargaining was one summer long ago when I sold fireworks on the rez. A book deal is slightly more complex.

Option three… Been there, done that. It ended with me having to reclaim my rights because of that publisher’s behavior. Still, I won’t rule a small to mid-size publisher out, but it would have to be really attractive terms with a solid future. I’m not sure that animal still exists in the wild.


Which way is the wind blowing?

So, bottom line: even though my mind is not made up and I’m staying open to all the great maybes, the wind is blowing my land yacht steadily toward self-publishing.


Why could that be a good thing for readers?

Because I can focus on getting content ready to publish and then release on my own timeline, self-publishing could mean more book availability, sooner. And I’d be free to set discounts and giveaways, and maybe even a perma-free book. Generally, publishers don’t like that sort of thing, and they keep it under their control.

If I self-publish, I will continue to finish up book 5, but focus also on getting book one ready and released sooner rather than later. It’s a bit of work—I’m revising, polishing, updating it to make it an irresistible read. (Yes, you’re right, I should add “I hope” to that. But really, I’m certain it will be a fun read that will draw you right into Lucky’s life, and the troubles of the strange twin worlds he inhabits. Because there are “bad guys.”)


Speaking of the bad guys

So far I’ve introduced you to wizards, a warrior, and of course The Sun Child. But some of the people you’ll meet in the series are not the sort you’d want to invite over for brunch. Let me introduce you to Isa, the Witch-Mortaine, and Mordred Brede. He’s: evil, arrogant, and altogether unpleasant, and I’ve yet to decide if he has any redeeming qualities. On the other hand, Isa—the true twisted one in Key of Behliseth—has a tragic backstory.


Isa's worktable potionsIsa sat at the glass worktable in her chamber, surrounded by potions and powders and horrid things pickled in brine. Pale blue fire lit the room beyond, sending tints and shadows to dance over her pallid hands. Exhausted, she raised a steel chalice to her cracked lips with shaking hands.

She had delivered Mordred to Mahl, as she had promised. Time had been short, so rather than drag him along the usual twisting path to sorcery, she’d sustained him with her own tainted blood and drilled him nonstop. When he’d learned enough Dark Chant, when he’d gained the skills necessary to stifle and bend the mind of a preconditioned mob, then she judged him ready to meet his Master.

She’d nurtured Mordred’s cold heart, fed his quest for dark knowledge, bequeathed to him the core of her morbid sorceries. All that remained was to give him power. That he would get from the Ice-Lord, just as she had long ago.

For the last hour, she’d watched him writhe while the Master possessed him, infected him with the power of the void, the essence of Naught. As it ended, his tortured body arched painfully and collapsed, falling hard on the stone floor. A long, smoky breath escaped his lungs. Then, for a moment, nothing… until a gasp started him breathing again.

His eyes had been as deep and richly black as raven stones. Now, he looked back at her from discs of blue ice, shallow, pale eyes that mirrored her own.

“Mordred,” she called.

Mahl had forced him, she knew, to the very brink of death. When she beckoned, he struggled to stand, but couldn’t. In the end he crawled, a show of obedience she was pleased to see. If he had not obeyed, if he had thought to challenge her, she would have had to destroy him, and then all the energy she’d spent on him would have bought her nothing but Mahl’s wrath.


Lucky and his allies face a new round of opponents and problems with each book, but never fear. There is also love. Maybe next week we’ll talk about romance.

Thanks for reading! Comments always welcome.

Visit my page at And I tweet: @Lou Hoffmann.





Red Dragon

Wednesday Words—Sun Child series WIP

First, from Han’s Story

I’m thinking of this as a potential Kindle Vella story, so I won’t be posting many lines from it here or elsewhere. Still here’s a glimpse. I started out trying to tell the story of this character from The Sun Child Chronicles from the wizard Thurlock’s perspective. But Han’s voice is clearer, brighter, better for the purpose. In the series, he’s a man of few words, though when he does have something to say, it’s meaningful. He plays an important role in every book in the series, and the reader gets to know him fairly well over the course of the story, but taking this dive into Han Shieth’s mind and heart has proven enlightening even for me.


Red DragonI’ve been afraid of the dragon all my life. I know it’s difficult to believe, but I remember dreaming the dragon, dreaming of flying, before I could walk. As a boy, I learned to play with it, keeping it in a safe place in my mind that way. If it was a companion—pretend, I tried to convince myself—it wouldn’t, couldn’t hurt me.

Truly, my fear was more for others around me than it was for myself.

Because the dragon breathes fire. And I’d always known that.

Now, from The Sun Child Chronicles #5, Kaynenh’s Triad

I’ve chosen a couple of paragraphs from the never-before-published next installment in the series. As you can see from this glimpse of a morning on the road, Lucky’s collected quite a collection of friends over time. Including a young green dragon and a boyfriend. While the series is not romance, the characters’ take us into a couple of romantic sub-plots. After all, The Sun Child Chronicles delves into lives, and love stories are part of life.

WordsGreen dragon

Commotion woke Lucky well after dawn. A lot seemed to be going on around the camp, but flapping, green, leathery wings and a squawky voice that his brain readily translated for him was the first thing he truly saw.

“Sahsha! You’ve gotten so big,” Lucky said.

“Sahsha child, be big someday.”

Judging from the other dragons he knew—in particular Han Shieth—Lucky supposed that was true, but he realized with some sadness that Sahsha had already grown too big for her habit of riding on his shoulder. He hugged his loyal hatchling, though, and was delighted when Sahsha wrapped wings around him to hug back. He ignored Sahsha’s awful dragon breath and got up to take care of his own ablutions. As he crossed the camp, he saw more new arrivals. Recognizing most, he was happy to see all of them.

Henry stood with Han near Simarrohn, smiling at each other and conversing. Lucky loved seeing the two of them—his uncle and his friend—so clearly happy together, but it made him miss Rio harder. Thinking about his boyfriend, a chill crept up his spine with no obvious cause. He shivered and concentrated, trying to decide what had sent dread coursing through him. Rio. Something was wrong. Was Rio in danger? How could I know? But the truth was he knew something was happening. No, not danger, he answered himself, not now. But something is happening in Rio’s world—in Morrow’s land, and it’s… it’s going to change everything.


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Curves, Caution Signs, and No GPS

Jumping into writing after pulling back on the reins for several months has been an exciting endeavor. But I’d be lying if I said the road was all downhill and free of hindrances.

Slow: Curves Ahead

Picking up after a hiatus has not been as easy as I’d thought. I’ve kept on writing, but progress is much slower than I’m used to. I find myself second guessing, back-tracking, and even undoing.

Merging Traffic Next 10,000 Words

The book I’m working on, Kaynenh’s Triad, #5 in The Sun Child Chronicles, is more than half written. I’m building on old prose and four previous books, all one continuous story. Of course, it deals with new situations, but the connections with the “past” have to be solid. As I write new scenes and continue old scenes, I find repeatedly I have to go back and check. What did that character do the last time this happened? What were those particular magical words? Some things, like eye color and character relationships are recorded in The Sun Child Chronicles “bible.” At least those are easier to look up.

Dead End

Yes, indeed I have even written myself into a corner and found I couldn’t go forward. The worst example involves the new wizard, Vahrenn. I wrote a few thousand words of his Important Journey (capitalized for effect) before I realized I’d forgotten he was deaf. Partly it was a setback, but also a wake-up call about how much I take hearing for granted. My apologies to the D/deaf.


I’ve a confession. I have only so much patience for outlines, synopses, etc. I tend to lay out the first part of a story in a fairly detailed manner. But after that it sort of peters out, until at the end I’m using a word or two—or else the outline never gets there. And even if it does, by that point in the story I’ve taken a few left turns and am nowhere near the expected route.

I’m still heading for the same destination, though! Along the way, each time I change my path, I usually know exactly how to get back on track. It’s like taking a different route to the office or the gym or whatever. You’re still only a few miles from home, and you know you can get there.

Having stepped away from the book for a time, I’m finding the map in my mind is pretty hazy at times. To cope, I do reread earlier stuff, but sometimes I just keep writing because, hey—

It’s only a first draft!


Traffic Revision Ahead

Step away from the publishing world for longer than a blink these days, and you’ll find a lot changed when you dip a toe in again. I know some of these are not as new to others as they are to me: Dreame, Radish, NovelCat, and Webfic are some examples of things I either never thought to look, or never heard of, or they didn’t exist. I’m not seriously considering any of those right now, but I am looking at Vella, the new Amazon Kindle platform for serialized stories.

I definitely won’t be publishing Kaynenh’s Triad (The Sun Child Chronicles #5) in serialized form. But I am in the early stages of developing a related, shorter story that would be ideal, I think, for Vella.

Han’s Story

Han Rha-Behl Ah’Shieth is a very important character in the series. He’s an adult at the start of the series, and a helper character to the younger protagonist. Yet his own character arc runs alongside his, and it carries a lot of weight. Reading the books give you some important information about his life, but it’s in bits in pieces. And incomplete. So… I want to tell his story. And as of now, I think the best way to tell it is narrated by Thurlock, the oldest wizard. He’s been there all along the line, from Han’s early childhood. And his relationship as mentor, teacher, employer, and friend gives him all the perspective.

An excerpt

Here’s a very brief part of Han’s story. This version is found in Key of Behliseth, book 1 of the series, and it’s told in third person, from his brother Lohen’s point of view.

The Fire

Lohen smelled smoke as he was striding down the hill toward home. He’d visited Nedhra City, fifty miles from the family’s stead. In addition to news and letters for his parents, he carried a gift for his brother’s twelfth birthday—a sling that could be wound tight to toss stones an incredible distance. Perfect for a boy who liked both weapons and mechanical things. Lohen looked forward to seeing Han smile when he put it in his hands.

The smoke disturbed his happy thoughts. It didn’t have the flavor of a cooking fire or the pungency of the smokes used for curing meat or fish. It was the wrong time of year for the fields to be burned off, and the smell seemed wrong anyway—dirty—or contaminated. He stopped when he rounded the bend and had a clear view of his parents’ stead.

And then he started running.

When he got there, remnants still burned, but only the low ridges where the walls of the house had stood, huddled pieces of resistant furniture, and in one place a blazing doorframe leading on both sides to nothing.

The first corpse he saw, as he stood with the heat of flames and coals on his face, was his uncle, an old man whose skill with horses had taken to work in the far north long ago, and whose devotion to an orphaned girl had reaped him no reward of love. Abandoned in old age, he’d come to stay with his sister’s family, bringing a kind face, a sad smile, and grand stories of winged horses and starry northern skies.

He’d not simply been killed, nor had Lohen’s mother and father. Everywhere he looked, Lohen saw evidence of torture. He couldn’t bear seeing it, but he couldn’t look away. He stood, not moving or thinking until night crept in and the flames around him hissed into silence.

Mindless, Lohen turned and took a step back toward the road. That was when he heard a faint sound. He followed the breathy cry and found Han hidden in a holly thicket, hugging his knees and sobbing. At first Lohen was only glad, relieved to see him alive. Then the truth dawned, and he fell to his knees, the wind knocked from his lungs by a horrifying new thought.

Han Shieth had seen his family murdered.

Your thoughts?

By the time the first book in The Sun Child Chronicles opens, Han is over two centuries old. And there’s nothing usual about his life. The wizard has seen it all unfold.

Let me know what you think about Han’s story, and what you think about Vella. (Ever tried it?) And any thoughts in general on this post—comments are always welcome, and I’ll respond. (I have to approve your first comment before it will appear, so give me a little time. 😊 )

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Graphic with text: Han Shieth





The Oldest Wizard Speaks his Mind

Well, another week has gone by, and I am a few more miles down the road to getting my books back out into published world. Thanks for joining me. This week did not go as expected.


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently writing book 5 of The Sun Child Chronicles, Kaynenh’s Triad. I’ve introduced you to is Vahrenn, a new character in this book—a wizard with a magical affinity for water. I’ve just finished a scene of over 4,000 words involving a problem he had to tackle and solve. Cold, hard reality… possibly none of the scene will end up in the book. Not sure yet. But if it doesn’t—no regrets! I got to know Vahrenn much better in the process of writing the scene. And that’s important.

Characters and “Show, don’t tell”

For any writer whose writing thrives on character (as mine does), it is absolutely necessary to know more about your characters than will be written about. To clarify, the knowing imparts authenticity and integrity, and makes them a whole, round person. That will show in their actions, reactions, and words. It will show, but much of it won’t be told. Sure, I might mention dark eyes, or a toothless grin, or a six-pack. But I know way more about the character’s history, motivation, and fears than I’m ever going to spell out in print. Nowhere in writing is “show, don’t tell” so important.

No, that’s not a rule!

Oops. I almost sound like I’m dictating what writers should do or should avoid. And I can’t do that. My words are far from the final ones—only what works for me. At least most of the time. But Somerset Maugham said:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

And that same famous author of bygone days also said:

“You can never know enough about your characters.”

So then I rest my case. Sort of. Really, I’m just plugging along and learning as I go. That hasn’t changed since my earliest days as an author.

Characters are dangerous (but fun) drivers

One of the things I’ve done in my previous posts is introduce you to some of the characters in The Sun Child Chronicles. As I mentioned, characters drive my stories, and in fact, even though I might pretend they’re in the passenger seat. Any character of significance will grab the wheel and send us careening around an unexpected corner. Sometimes they even kick me right out of the car.

That’s part of what makes me want to come back to The Sun Child Chronicles. I love the characters, and they make writing fun. Also, there are a lot of them—more all the time, because as is usual in fantasy series, the story gets bigger with every book.

I interviewed the wizard Thurlock

Now, speaking of characters and knowing them, let me introduce you this week to Thurlock. He is the most important wizard in the series. A “helper” character who guides the main protagonist through, over, and around all sorts of difficult problems. Often grumpy, often laughing, sometimes kind, sometimes scary. A while back (when one of my books was being released), I interviewed him for another blog. And even though I already knew him pretty well, some of his answers surprised me. Here’s that interview, slightly modified. I hope you enjoy his grumpy-wizard self.

In his own words


I’ve been wondering about Thurlock ever since I met him. I mean the old wizard is kind of a mystery man, right? I recently caught him with a cell phone call on a day that he popped over to Earth for a Chai Tea Latte and some pumpkin bread with too much sugar icing. He wasn’t really happy about it, but he does know where his bread is buttered, so to speak…


Hey, Thurlock. Lou Hoffmann, here. You got a few minutes?

This is my off-page time, Ms. Hoffmann. Off-duty. Why are you calling me? Haven’t you put me through enough already? What with several more books about The Sun Child and me coming up, I’d think you’d have plenty more trouble to make for me without seeking me out on my private time.

Well, Jeez, Thurlock. I got to thinking people must really wonder about you—”

Portrait-- old wizard Thurlock The Sun Child Chronicles

“Do they, now?”

“I think so. You’re interesting. I mean 1000 years old—”

“Now you’re just being mean.”

“No, really. I thought you might answer a few questions.”

“I’m rolling my eyes, now. Thought I’d tell you since this is a phone call. I mean, I can’t do the eye-roll as good as Luccan, or even as good as Han, but it is a problem with non-face-to-face communication that gestures and facial expressions can’t be seen. I’ve been studying this phenomenon and have found research, mostly by Earthborns, that shows—

“Thurlock, you’re rambling.”

“Oh yes, sorry. I was. Never mind then, let’s just get to the point.”

“Okay, questions. Before I start, though, I know I’m supposed to know you best, and I’ll be honest. Some of these questions I’m going to ask I’m pretty sure I know the answers to. Answer anyway, if you would, and feel free to surprise me with the truth.”

“Shouldn’t be hard to do…”

Where and when were you born? Tell us what your childhood was like?

I was born a very, very long time ago, in the northern part of the Sunlands, on the western outskirts of the Greenwood. The place was called Kharravale; we had a farm a mile or so from the village. My childhood…. How rarely I think of it now. I guess if nothing else I could indeed be thankful that you brought it to my mind. It… It wasn’t all good, of course. No childhood is, but as I look back through this vast stretch of time, it seems wonderful. Golden and filled with sun—perhaps Behlishan had chosen me even then, though I didn’t feel chosen as I ran in the fields. I loved the smell of the earth—you know, mud, pines and oak and maple, mown hay, wild honeysuckle. I never wanted to go indoors until winter came, and then only for hours at a time. The snow would fall heavy and deep and stay clean and white for a month. We had toboggan races, we children. And when parents went visiting it was by sleigh rather than wagon. Even the horses liked it better I think. Or maybe they just knew hot mash would be waiting, the same way we looked forward to sweet tea and honey cakes. Oh yes, it was a beautiful thing to be a boy in that place in that time. I suppose if I thought of the future at all, I thought I’d live out my years right there in the valley, perhaps raise my own children, run the family’s farm. But I went to school instead.

That leads me nicely to my second question—or perhaps I should say set of questions, Thurlock. When did you start your formal education, and how long did it last? Did you enjoy school, or want to go back to an easier time? Did you have a favorite teacher, or is there one who left a giant footprint on who you were to grow up to be?

Was I rambling? I’m sorry. And yes, you should say set of questions. Be accurate when you bother a wizard, Lou. To answer your question, I started early and I didn’t dislike school, but I did miss being a child, and being home. In those days, in that place, most children didn’t go to school at all, but when they were around twelve or so, the parents would contrive to get a batch together and teach them to read and add better, things like that. But Kharravale, you know, was named after the Kharrighan, and it was full of his descendants. Almost a tribe, or at the least a clan. Every generation sported a few young people with higher than average magical talent. I was not only among the best of my cohort, but manifested enough power, starting when I was ten, to scare my elders. By the time I’d had my eleventh birthday they’d made arrangements with a small wizarding preparation school in Nedhra City, and I never lived at home again, though I did treasure my visits. I did have a favorite teacher! Her name was Yolahnda O’Shanadah. I learned absolutely nothing from her. I was fourteen when I started studying with her and I instantly became infatuated. As far as the giant footprint, that was left by a very old man named Thomkit. An historian and a seer. I never learned to do what he did, but he taught me how to read and respect the prophecy, and how to disregard them for the sake of letting things unfold.

Did you have a best friend in your school days—tell s about them? Do you have one now?

I did have a best friend. He was Drakha, and every bit as heroic and beautiful as Han Shieth, though a hunter like Han’s brother, rather than a warrior. He’s one of the many, many friends I’ve watched grow old and die while I linger here far beyond my time. And yes. In honesty, though I’d say our relationship is quite complex, one of the things Han Shieth has become is my friend—the best of those few I have.

I’m sorry. Maybe talking about bygone days is making you sad. Probably I shouldn’t ask any more questions about the past, but I do have one more I’d like to slip in, if you’ll allow it. Were you ever so in love you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with someone, even if it meant giving up your position as a prominent wizard?

Yes. (Silence). We-e-ell, it looks as though you’re not going to let me leave it at that. Did anyone ever call you a busybody, Lou? No? They should have. But fine. I’ve loved two people that much. The first was a girl I met at a tea shop near a famous theater in Nedhra City. I saw her every day for a year. She was… I think in Earth you’d call her a transwoman, perhaps, though in Ethra we just call a woman a woman. She was the most easy-going, the least serious person I knew at the time. She was fully engaged with living life and had no great need to address the world’s problems. We ate and walked and went places around the city, or out to the countryside a few times. We talked about art and music and plays and the weather and her crazy clothes and her garden and… you know,  just everything. And we made love and—oh I know some people think I should have had a problem with that. As Han says, men are not my type. But she wasn’t a man you see, and as far as the love-making went, everything fit together just fine and it all worked splendidly from my point of view. But I was studying, you understand, and at a certain point it became clear that I’d have to pay a little more attention to wizardry or else give it up. I chose give it up. She chose to write me a note and leave on the mantel piece for me, and I never saw her again. And the second person… Well, the second person was Isa. Yes, the woman you know as the Witch Mortaine, the one Luccan and I dismantled with Behl’s help in Black Creek Ravine. Yes, she was beautiful once, and elegant, even understanding, though perhaps never truly compassionate, certainly never sweet. But oh she took me by surprise, like cold water on a hot day. It ended when I tried to save her from her fate, and as repayment she tried to kill me. No more about my past now. Please. I’m becoming melancholy and that makes my blood pressure go up.

Tell us your honest opinion of Lucky—or Luccan as you know him. Do you enjoy being around him? Does he annoy you?

Oh, certainly he annoys me, but what 1000-year-old man is not annoyed by someone who’s 16? The sheer amount of energy the boy possesses drives me crazy. And the questions. Behl’s toenails! I’ve never heard so many questions, and so strange. Do you know what he asked me? “If life wasn’t life, what would it be?” I didn’t even try to answer—and you shouldn’t either Lou. Yet, Luccan has more of the true Suth Chiell about him than any I’ve seen since I became cognizant of what a Suth Chiell should be. And aside from that, he is a strong, kind, compassionate human being. And delightful—his humor, his smile, his wonderful curious mind. I think of him as a grandchild, though I know that’s ludicrous. I love him. And I pin my hopes for the future on him, with not a single doubt or qualm. Are we about done now, Ms. Hoffmann? My chai is getting cold, and I do have plans for the day.

I’m sorry, Thurlock. As you said, this is your personal time. I had no right to impinge and I do appreciate you answering my questions. I had wanted to ask you about Han… you know, the dragon thing? And also what your thoughts are on the future of Ethra in general. But I’ll cut it short with one more question I’ve been wondering about since I met you. Are you immortal?

Oh! Gods, I hope not.


The end

And Thurlock hung up on me. I guess I should be grateful for what we did get.


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