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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: A Quick Update!
« Reply #320 on: December 21, 2022, 09:02:29 AM »
A Sanctum of Swords - Update Summary:

Completed Chapter 19 after another 4,000 words and I am set to begin Chapter 20 soon.
Work continues apace - still on target to meet my deadline.
Four chapters and an epilogue remaining.

This is going to be a difficult remaining third act I think - as I am going to likely rebuild most of each chapter to reflect each narrative change and to expand the initial scenes, in addition to streamlining them.

We will see how it goes!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2022, 09:05:16 AM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: A Quick Update
« Reply #321 on: January 3, 2023, 12:08:22 AM »
Quick Summary:

Holiday break is done here for myself!

I have returned to ASOS' manuscript revisions and have reached about another 2500 words into Chapter 20. I am looking to have the chapter completed over the next couple of days.

Gearing up to meet the goal line - will keep everyone updated!

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Offline Myen'Tal

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RE: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 16 - A Throne Between the Stars Excerpt
« Reply #322 on: January 5, 2023, 10:27:05 PM »
###

Seated around the hearth’s burning flame, Gadara watched the embers scatter about the abandoned temple of Zahira. Lesser pieces of the kindled flame, brought little light into the interior space’s dark atmosphere. Around her, the embers withered to dead ash, the gentle dark returning in the absence of the kindled lights. That cycle of illumination and darkness, sun and moon, represented much the same symbolism of the hearth altar itself: the immortal cycle between life and death.

Gadara had found a quiet place during daybreak to keep her vigil about the temple. Hours had passed afterward, the sands waning in the hourglass she kept safe on the altar the only method for keeping the time.

Her elder brother, Mahir of Suann, spoke above the softened roar of the flames. “You’ve been keeping quiet since the early dawn. You’ve nothing to speak about during our final evening here in Suann?”

She didn’t look up, but found her brother’s hazed outline with a mere turn of her head. “I haven’t thought of anything to say all morning. I can’t think of anything to ask about that I don’t already know your answer to… And my mind has been brooding throughout the last couple evenings about our mother. I don’t know how Lucine will fare without her children.”

“Speaking about everything you just mentioned would be a good beginning,” Mahir said. “Gadara, you’ve never quite been comfortable enough being weighed down or restrained by fear of the unknown and uncertain.”

“Quite the assumption, brother,” Gadara chuckled, “to think that I’ve never concerned myself about anything ever before.”

“I said you’ve never concerned yourself enough to be restrained or weighed down by mortal fears… You’ve might never have noticed, but I don’t believe you’ve ever been afraid of anything. Not enough to keep you back from achieving everything you dared to achieve or dream about. Your climbing up the Suanna Bluffs despite many broken bones, your feats of agility and dexterity against many of Suann’s most talented youths… and your invitation from Sanctum Queen Karayan to become an Ashen Blade–“

“Just like yourself, brother?” Gadara interrupted, smiling at him. “Not quite the unique achievement like the previous points you made.”

“That may be the truth for the time being, but everything changes with time. Just like Lucine has always told us.”

“I don’t think half-a-day passes before mother reminds us again…” Gadara’s sentence trailed off from a resurgence of her fear of the uncertain. “It won’t be long before I miss mother and Suann… and maybe you after another several years have passed.”

“Just like you’ve always stated,” Mahir said, “I believe that Zahira will cross our future paths sooner than you may think. Still, the years that will pass between now and then might change us both beyond recognition.”

Gadara looked up for the first time in several hours, meeting her elder brother’s darkened stare. “You believe the sands in the hourglass will change you that much? So much so that maybe not even you will recognize yourself?”

Her elder brother didn’t speak for a moment, contemplating Gadara’s spoken question. “You’ve never been one for being afraid of the uncertain and unknown. You should leave those fears to your elder brother. I’ve enough courage to carry your burden on my shoulders alongside my own… Just be certain to keep your wits about you and continue living. Your elder brother shan’t disappear from either your memories or our current reality, at least not for some time yet…”

###
« Last Edit: January 5, 2023, 10:29:39 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #323 on: January 20, 2023, 09:39:26 AM »
Time is ticking down to the final hour before my appointment with the editor.

I am also happy to announce that I am still on track to get my manuscript over to said editor at the appointed time. I have started on chapter 23 and once it is finished, only the epilogue will remain. I'm still making frequent edits on every scene in recent chapters. I've gotten so used to correcting the mistakes that I recognize commonly and using the streamlining process that I've become accustomed with, it's honestly not requiring too much effort to get each scene and their respective chapters to a good place.

Once this is completed - it's time to hit the paint table again.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #324 on: January 22, 2023, 12:28:59 PM »
Another status update!

I've commenced the great work on Chapter 23 - scene one is completed. I will continue on to complete the chapter soon.
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Offline Dread

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #325 on: January 29, 2023, 03:00:44 PM »
Glad you're still plugging along on this. Hope you maintain your sanity.
"Burning thru the universe in search of peace only brings more war. Peace is an illusion, war is reality, that is the way of things"

                            Farseer Gol'Istria of    the Morea Nebula craftword

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #326 on: January 29, 2023, 05:30:17 PM »
Glad you're still plugging along on this. Hope you maintain your sanity.

Haha, thank you, Dread! I am doing my best!

I've actually delayed the appointment for a little bit just to take a rebreather for the next little while.

I will update once the gears are turning again!
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 21 - The Hourglass Game Excerpt
« Reply #327 on: February 6, 2023, 08:14:44 PM »
Just sharing a later chapter excerpt as I finish up to get this ball rolling toward the launch date.

Chapter 21: The Hourglass Game Excerpt

“Our paths diverged earlier than anyone might’ve anticipated.” Korian spoke aloud, each word echoing across a celestial bridge running between dimensions. “During our time on the mortal sphere. The three of us have treaded our darkening horizons into the Penitent Sanctuary. Our paths have crossed again at long last.”

“Strange,” Gadara said, “I had always thought that after taking the Penitent Pact, that none of us would ever see each other again. Despite the passing decades, each separate road that we tread upon through life have always reunited us before too long.”

Journeying deep toward the beating heart of the labyrinth, the unnatural world began to alter inside of Mahir’s mind. Together, the mortal children of Thearus delved deeper through an unnatural passage of cobalt granite, natural bands of gray running through the ancient stone. An endless rampart tunneling beyond time and space, through the deep abyss. Having endured the passing of eons, time had weathered the passage heavily, breaking down the regal stone enough to leave gaping wounds in the hall’s uniformity.

“Our legendary Enigma remains the only exception,” Mahir admitted, “Honored Korian to everyone back home in Suann.” His thoughts paused inside of his mind at a sudden realization. “Though I suppose that was all before your rebellion against Sanctum Queen Karayan. Having been absent from our lives for two decades, maybe you could finally tell us why everything that happened… happened?”

He spied the celestial heavens through the myriad of cracks running through the passage. A black abyss, a scattered veil of nebulous lights glowing throughout the vast expanse. Adrift amid the kaleidoscopic backdrop of nebulae and fathom-less black holes, ancient celestial bodies hurtled through obscuring meteor fields and a myriad of other anomalies.

Mahir noticed Korian looking up into the fathomless dark shrouding the ceiling. A myriad of memories seemed to be running through his contemplative eyes.

“Karayan,” Korian said, shrugging once in acknowledgement. Almost as if the name stole all semblance of will and endurance from him. “An aspect of our Goddess incarnate, assuming the guise of the Reaper that watches us all.”

Descending farther into the broken labyrinth’s heart, the fabric holding reality together began to unravel. Each step made in succession transitioned him further from the Penitent Sanctuary’s unnatural, but familiar aesthetic into something more akin to cosmic.

“Her knowledge has always surpassed my own,” Korian continued, “to an extent enough to make me realize that I understand just a fraction of what she does. Her mastery of the Art of Death was always flawless, a never-ending font of inspiration for a devoted disciple such as myself. An inanimate blade would rather not speak about her charisma nor her myriad of charming guises.

“Our High Queen would only wear any of them on the eve of handing down a marked contract for her Severed Hand to fulfill. Another soul fated to be reaped and offered up on Goddess Zahira’s altar.”

The Penitent Sanctuary’s unnatural reality came undone. Ancient walls shattered long ago remained in some semblance. Shadows of what the Ascended Pantheon had linked to the heart of this realm. Mahir advanced on through the cobalt-gray debris locked in levitation, scattered about the chamber.

“Stranger still then, uncle Korian,” Gadara whispered beneath her breath. The sound seemed inaudible to the other mortals journeying ahead. “You sound like you admired her… maybe even had more intimate emotions for her?”

Korian shrugged again; his stoic countenance unreadable even by Mahir. “Maybe once upon a distant time, before my trial of blades. I was still young back in those days. Amunet would tell you that I might’ve been in the prime of my life. Your uncle was still dark of thought and spirit, only just taking up the Penitent Pact.”

“You journeyed to Akara and pledged yourself to the Ashen Blades?” Mahir cocked his head at Korian. “I’ve never known many kindred daring enough to be that bold.”

“No,” Korian made a purposeful shake of the head. “I hadn’t thought to ever make the journey. I suppose the honest truth is that Karayan had come to Suann the night before everything. She had come to pay my hearth and home a visit. She honored my younger sibling and your mother, Lucine and your father during that time.

“She had heard rumors enough to come seeking me out in person. Our High Queen’s compensation for my induction into the Ashen Blades Syndicate couldn’t be denied. A wealth worth more than the blades of twelve legendary champions of the syndicate¬–an entire vault of precious gemstones and other artifacts given unto Lucine. I had accepted and departed with Karayan without anything to my name.”

Gadara snorted derisively. “It’s difficult to believe that, Korian, considering the humble lives we toiled through during our journey into adulthood.”

“Lucine always said she had no use of the wealth nor any intention to use it. That sacred vault remains somewhere in Suann. Your mother said the vault would only be opened on the fateful dusk that her children returned to hearth and home.”

“I’d wager you’re avoiding the question.” Mahir confessed at last. “Korian, what happened between Karayan and you, if you both admired one another so much?”

All echoes of the physical world vanished without warning. An absence of gravity made his body feather-light, weightless, as the ancient corridor eroded into oblivion’s abyssal shadow. The weathered stone disintegrated underneath his feet; each step taken lending him the impression of walking on wisping clouds.

“An inanimate blade will not yield the truth behind the creation of its aesthetic at the heart of this broken labyrinth. We should not fall behind our noble band of allies. Should we manage to leave this place far behind us, I will retell the narrative of that forgotten rebellion.”

“Mahir,” he heard Jaleh calling from up ahead. “Are you familiar with anything like the heart of this broken place? The celestial laws of reality appear to have no hold on the astral projection of our souls anymore.”

He looked ahead, finding Jaleh walking upon the fathomless void between the stars. A gentle leap off of her backfoot bounced Jaleh high above anyone else. A sapphire nebula in the backdrop framed her body, enveloped in the radiance of a golden sun. In the absence of gravity, Mahir detected something else luring him through the celestial oasis like an invisible reel...

#Excerpt End#
« Last Edit: February 6, 2023, 08:23:27 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 21 - The Hourglass Game Excerpt
« Reply #328 on: February 11, 2023, 11:37:37 AM »
Announcement - with some immediate changes in life, I am working to postpone A Sanctum of Swords into the tail-end of 2023 or sometime in 2024.

Going through some life changes, but some good ones! Just going to take the time to reap the benefit.

The new release window for A Sanctum of Swords will be updated on the website soon!

Thank you,
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Announcement!
« Reply #329 on: February 13, 2023, 05:08:19 PM »
A Sanctum of Swords' Revision 2.0 is now completed after eight-and-half months!

Manuscript evaluation #2 will be going forward soon and all other services will reflect the new release window.

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Announcement!
« Reply #330 on: February 17, 2023, 08:26:37 AM »
Illustration of Shoushan added to the website gallery!

It's the same one I had done around Fall of 2021.

Hope you guys like the addition!
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 23 - Dominion's End Excerpt
« Reply #331 on: February 21, 2023, 10:50:57 PM »
A final excerpt that I wanted to share here, before I get the ball rolling on The Reaper of the Mortal Sands.

I am not sure how the updates will work out from here. I will have a light summary on how I plan to tackle revisions for Manuscript Evaluation #2.

I have an appointment some months from now and we will see how that goes.

However, the good news is that as the new release window rolls in - we should be on the final path to publication!

I will be working on the sequel to A Sanctum of Swords and the second addition to The Embers of the Past series: The Reaper of the Mortal Sands in the meantime!

...............

Karayan transitioned herself out from the abyss into reality. Where silence had once reigned in the unfathomable dark, the haunting resonance of open war now deafened her. A sound magnified eight-fold from inside of the hallowed Throne of the Sun Caller Kings. A clamor created from sundered armor and shattered flesh. Defiant cries and wails born from agony. The throne hall quaked beneath her feet–the golden radiance emanating from the Sun Caller’s throne erratically shifting between flaring and dimming.

Taking in the frigid mountain air, she caught the familiar coppery scent of blood spilled in substantial quantities. She smelled prespire mingled with the metallic taste from the friction of steel tested on steel. Emotions also wafted from hundreds of mortal souls scattered about the throne hall–so thick in the mountain air that it deceived her senses.

She remained stationary as the fanning fires of war heightened around her. Blood flowed over the corridor’s burnished sandstone floor–she tracked yellow-gold eyes across the throne hall’s breadth and back again.

Her dormant remembrance returned over a moment’s span. She recalled the Children of the Sun’s seat of power and a thousand other memories with that revelation. A massive set of doors carved from granite loomed overhead at the main walkway’s end¬. About another world away, Karayan mused, considerate of the conflict between that sealed doorway and herself.

Karayan asked, “An eternity of ruling the greatest empire on this continent, yet you squander everything your ancestors dreamed about creating. I’ve always wondered during these last seven hundred years about what you seem to fear that your predecessors did not? Men and women who lived far longer than you did, their wisdom like a forest when compared to the oasis that remains yours.”

He spoke, “a mortal soul cannot reign as a God King over this Dominion, should they fear the creatures that lurk well beyond the lantern’s light. And like the Sun Callers that came before me, neither am I afraid of the shadows lurking behind night’s shroud.”

“And you must think you’ve somehow deceived me? You believe that you’ve somehow conquered death? You struck the black pact to have your firstborn daughter and yet, the price remains unpaid.”

Erasyl said, “I am no immortal deity, Karayan. My deceased ancestral bloodline should already attest to that. My forebearers embraced mortality, despite the divinity that coursed through their blood. Their sacrifice proves the pact was struck in error, one born from mortal fears.”

“A High Queen possessed of an ancient wisdom such as yourself should take heed of my warning. The Children of Sukhan will break upon the Carth Dominion’s formidable bulwark.”

“You will break the mortal sphere because of your pride and Khios will suffer beneath my dominance. Yet this time, I won’t be foolish enough to relinquish even one mortal soul, not even until the end of the natural sun itself. Should that be the last words shared between us, then let us end our old feud and the proxy war waged between our empires throughout Khios’ darkest nooks and forbidden places.”

Wailing Widow appearing in her hand, the Sanctum Queen slipped into a rigid stance, like a warrior coming to stand at attention. She kept the rapier upright and near to her chest, braced to counter any potential reaction. Karayan had assumed her favored stance so many times over her three thousand year long existence¬–she had long forgotten the burdensome weight of hesitation and dread.

She stood before her nemesis as a visible blade beneath the dusk. The mastermind behind the Art of Death and the Ashen Blades Syndicate’s embodiment made perfect. The Sanctum Queen stood before the Sun Caller’s Throne not as an unseen blade, but the Reaper’s aspect herself. Confidence emanated from her practiced poise like an aura of intimidation.

The names of one hundred marked contracts, notorious renegades to the last man and woman, surfaced to the fore of her mind’s eye. ¬Karayan had slain each of them in turn–one for every passing season for two-and-a-half decades.

Just another grain in the ancient hourglass to represent the sands of an immortal life.

Karayan beckoned Lord Sar Amun down the ziggurat stairwell for a last Trial of Blades. She observed Erasyl climb out of the alabaster and sandstone throne to stride through the celestial flames wreathed around the base. Seven hundred years had changed nothing about him.

Yet Erasyl appeared sapped from whence she had last laid eyes on him.

The endless passing of seasons had reduced the unyielding frame he had kept in the days of his youth, but still retaining a strength of body superior to any mortal being. One thousand years dedicated to achieving a heightened sense of enlightenment that made even his civilization pale in comparison to their God King and divine avatar¬, she mused, that the God King did not appear to mind sacrificing his own origin of myth. Golden radiance still blazed from within his chest–exuding from him like a lantern’s halo of light.

“A Sun Caller King and the last of his line,” Karayan noted, “defending the throne of his ancestors without a weapon to strike down the shadows assailing him? At least pickup a shining blade from one of the dead nearby.”

“I’d think that Goddess Zahira’s daughter and the Reaper’s aspect would have slain a marked soul with no regard for upholding their honor.”

“You’re honor bound enough that I’ll make an exception.” The Sanctum Queen held Erasyl’s divine-touched gaze with eyes of yellow-gold. “I wouldn’t forgive myself for making a fool out of you at the siege of the Golden Valley’s end. However, I can see that you’ve no intention to mark my words. Then honor my blade with your skill…”

Karayan lunged without physically moving a step forward–aiming Wailing Widow for a thrust straight through the God King’s beating heart within his chest. Lord Sar Amun slid back from the thrust to push the rapier aside with a backhand. The God King stepped into the Sanctum Queen’s guard even as she shifted toward avoidance to outmaneuver each crushing blow from his fists.

She ducked beneath an upward hook to weave away from another strike coming from the opposing direction. Karayan dodged him like his own passing shadow beneath the waning sun’s journey from dawn to dusk. Wailing Widow answered him with several weeping cuts carved across the unblemished russet skin on his broad arms.

“I suppose the last seven hundred years have dulled your reaction time.” Karayan mused as she made to dance around her blade-partner. “You strike with the same dull-witted clumsiness that the Qin’sar wield their over-laden and shining blades.”

Erasyl turned on a heel in pursuit of the Sanctum Queen. Stabbing her rapier out toward a vulnerable throat, the God King caught her assault with a backhand across her sword arm on the wrist. Karayan channeled the momentum behind the attack into a half-spin, stealing herself beyond the God King’s immediate reach.

Despite each hastened movement, each move the God King made to counter came with a familiar predictability. Never missing a step of avoidance, Karayan played her Trial of Blades beside Lord Sar Amun. Each successive attack from the God King’s unarmed lim]bs came a subtle degree swifter than the last. Again and over again, each successful parry, block, and counter that Erasyl made in his defense brought Karayan an inch nearer to mis-stepping.

Lord Sar Amun’s offensive bordered on relentless until his endless assault became a windstorm. She spied brief manifestations passing before her eyes. Trails of ignited flames dancing upon each current of wind created in the wake of Erasyl’s offensive. The coiling strands of smoke and fire intersected past one another–sometimes melding into one volcanic cloud that shortened her breaths.

Celestial flames. The Solar God’s wrath channeled into a physical form to be unleashed on the Children of the Sun’s myriad enemies.

Karayan closed her eyes when the God King made to unleash his magic. A mental impulse ushered her beyond the physical world into the Crescent Haven’s phantom abyss. The Throne of the Sun Caller Kings’ lantern radiance vanished from sight until she perceived only a roiling mist amid an ethereal, moonlit void. Even her unnatural sight could barely detect the blazing flames passing straight through her astral projection.

A harmless fire-bolt that would have otherwise annihilated her, now darting straight through her metaphysical form to shatter a molten crater into the ziggurat stairwell between the throne and herself.
His immortal soul burns stronger, she mused, Qalzirai’s essence is growing resurgent within him.

Another impulse shattered her imprisonment in a rain of shadowy shards and golden light spilling through the Crescent Haven’s scattered remnants. Karayan pounced out from the ragged wound in ambush. Wailing Widow lashed out to mark another cut across the God King’s chest, parting the limestone white robe shielding him there. She caught blood’s copper-scent on the unnatural wind that exuded from his wounds–luring her like a shark drawn to wounded prey.

Lord Sar Amun stepped to one side out from the Sanctum Queen’s path with a subtle turn to smack her sword arm away at the wrist another time. She lunged toward Erasyl’s farthest flank before executing a quick feint to take her in the other direction. To her undying amusement, Lord Sar Amun committed to the deception long enough for Karayan to dart in for another thrust.

Erasyl employed a deceitful ruse of his own, she knew in the very moment a sudden impact pushed her legs out from underneath her. Karayan should’ve struck the throne hall’s burnished sandstone floor on her face. She rebounded with a quick tuck and roll instead to save her from such a disgrace, but was unable to stop the sweeping fist connecting square with her gut.

An incredible force stole her breath away, pitching her clean from her feet to cast her into the bloody chaos raging between the Sun Caller’s Throne and the main gates. Several successive impacts rocked her in rapid succession. Karayan registered the sound of bones breaking within unfortunate bystanders upon them being tossed onto discarded weapons or the wielded blades of their enemies.

The snake may recoil from the prey when threatened, to lurk from the shadows and strike another time.

Dazed beyond the ability to concentrate on a whim, Karayan struggled within her mind to ground herself. She managed that mental impulse to call on the Crescent Haven. An invisible rippling through reality answered her, before Karayan fell into the moonlit abyss backward. A sensation like being pushed back beyond a cliff’s ledge into the sea waves washed over her astral projection.

Resisting the fathomless ocean’s call to slumber, Karayan made an effortless flip without the burden of gravity. Another impulse from her mind and Lord Sar Amun’s likeness at the foot of his ancestral throne ushered her back into reality through a hidden exit. A whirlpool leading farther into the darkness beyond even the Crescent Haven’s moonlit mists.

Karayan leapt out from the unstable vortex back into the mortal sphere. She landed gingerly before the Throne of the Sun Caller Kings. Alert, Karayan searched for Erasyl amid the chaos even as her mind combated her disoriented perception.

An elder male’s somber voice–somehow deathly quiet and yet audible even when speaking from a distance, called Sukhan’s High Queen by her name.

“Karayan Akara… Some moons might’ve passed since the last time we’ve spoken.” Korian’s familiar tone and languid accent drifted up from behind her. “Some decades have come and gone at least, but an inanimate blade has retained an immaculate reflection in my mind’s mirror. You haven’t changed nor aged by even a day. That is the truth...”
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Tanorith Website Update #1
« Reply #332 on: February 26, 2023, 09:33:57 AM »
The first summaries for Tanorith continent are now live ;D. This will be the first of some additions exploring the western realms in further detail.

Check my profile's signature to make your way there.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2023, 09:35:11 AM by Myen'Tal »
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Revision 2.0 Preview!
« Reply #333 on: February 27, 2023, 10:13:00 PM »
Announcement - A Sanctum of Swords Revision 2.0 is back on fictionate.me!

Chapter #1 is free and available in two separate scenes!

The first scene for Chapter 2 is also available, but will require a purchase.

Follow along if you like what you read in the free preview!

Find the link in my signature!
« Last Edit: February 28, 2023, 04:07:21 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Revision 3 Preview!
« Reply #334 on: April 4, 2023, 11:38:04 PM »
Just announcing an update here - that Revision 3.0 has begun. Received my manuscript evaluation back from the editor and am content to know that 2.0 has improved substantially over 1.0

There are still enough things to do warrant another revision before the copy edit - but instead of an overhaul - this one will be far more focused on streamlining / clarity. In essence, cutting more extraneous and detail heavy scenes while also connecting some narrative ends together more seamlessly

Chapters 1 -3 are currently updated to Revision 3 and are available at the link for A Sanctum of Swords on fictionate.me.

On a side note - I decided to brave about a week ago and reached out a voice narrator that's inspired me since I've been able to hear some of the audiobooks she's voiced

We are currently discussing her providing an audio narration for A Sanctum of Swords - more news as we coordinate on solidifying this.
« Last Edit: April 4, 2023, 11:40:20 PM by Myen'Tal »
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 6: Oath of Blood Revision 3
« Reply #335 on: April 23, 2023, 08:45:43 PM »
Aboard a raft adrift on the Seventh River, Adofo listened to the ferryman’s oar cycle in and out of the water. An elder among the Zar, wizened of features and minimalist of wardrobe, steered the float with a slender wooden oar as long as himself. Crystalline droplets pelted him from where he sat on the platform’s edge, submerging his bare legs in the chilling waters.

He inhaled a draft of the mountain valley’s crisp air, finally finding time enough to breathe after descending the Golden Mountain. An absent hand keeping his unequipped leather boots near to him, his mind wandered elsewhere.

The descent had taken the entire sunrise alongside having to spend the noon hour navigating the High Quarter erected around the foot of the Golden Mountain. The Golden Sun had fallen from its zenith after leaving via the Sun Gate into the Qaira Quarter. A small adventure through the Grand Bazaars and several market stalls in around the mercantile district, Adofo procured a ferryman’s aid to ferry his Bloodsworn from the Qaira Quarter to the Artifice Quarter on the city outskirts.

“You seem elsewhere, First Blade.” Elmas approached Adofo from behind to stand near the raft’s corner by his side. A gentle breeze sifted its fingers through her hair and obscured her words. “You must be thinking about Lady Siham.”

“You make it look so simple.” Adofo didn’t look up at his Second Blade as her shadow fell over him, shielding him a little more from the evening dusk. “Reading a man’s mind that is. Or it might be that I am making a poor attempt to conceal how I feel.”

Adofo observed the ferryman guide his raft past other slender vessels on the waterways’ primary routes. Yet more sea-faring platforms and slender craft occupied the lesser canals branching off from the Seventh River into Tushik’s densely urbanized areas. He marked the occasional Qaira warship, three hundred oars used to power each, bristling with substantial firepower and a sizable garrison of Zar’qin auxiliaries.

Elmas knelt beside him as he sat on the raft’s edge, leveling their differences in height.

“I guessed. That much is simple to understand.” Elmas smirked, staring out across the river beside him. “I’ve forgotten how long ventures from the Golden Mountain to the city outskirts can take. We’ve walked from sunrise till the evening dusk, our work is always unending for us.”

“It will be nightfall by the time we arrive,” Adofo said, “our benefactor said she will be waiting for us in the Ardent Spire beneath the city.”

He spied the Palanquin Floats of the Sar nobility scattered about fleets of fishing canoes. Every vessel drifted inland as the Golden Sun threatened to fall beneath the horizon, to anchor for the night in the Seventh River’s many harbors and dockyards.

“Our brethren seem to be in good spirits still.” Elmas acknowledged a score of seasoned Zar warriors animated in quiet conversation on the raft behind them.

Survivors of famous campaigns with enough distinction to see them rewarded with retirement from the legion and instated into the palace guard. The Bloodsworn numbered as a single group of oath-bound guardians among many defending the royal palace.

“Siham will be found in the throne hall of her ancestors, Adofo. While your companions and you are headed into certain danger to meet our benefactor. There will be another night to look forward to in Heaven’s Gate, unless our lives come to an end inside of the Ardent Spire.”

“Right as always, Elmas.” Adofo gazed up toward the sky where the night bled into the dusk. “My mind has been adrift as of late, but that’s why I have you around, right? You keep my head clear in times of conflict. I will lay my concerns for Siham to rest for the night. Once we’ve achieved our mission here, we’ll be back in the royal palace at sunrise.”

Satisfied, Elmas nodded.

“That’s unusual for you to ask after me like that. Should I be concerned about you? Does your First Blade not meet the standard to lead the Bloodsworn anymore?”

She smiled at him, a broad expression that lingered on her lips for but a moment.

“It may be uncommon, but we’re friends, aren’t we?”

Adofo looked to her, finding Elmas watching him through a sidelong glance.

“You needn’t remind me,” he said, “my nearest one is you. You know that.”

Elmas scoffed, carried away by the wind of an approaching storm.

“You must mean Siham, certainly? You’re much more comfortable around her than we’ll ever be. Your late hours spent in her room and the later morning that you both emerge attest to that.”

Adofo cackled with laughter, taken by surprise. Elmas watched him sober, noting that coy grin playing on his scarred lips.

“Are you about to tell me you’re jealous?” Adofo asked. “You’ve always mocked me for loving her, though you’ve always tried to be supportive of my foolish choices. Are you going to tell me that you’re worth more to me than our fairest lady?”

Adofo paused, killing the tension building up between them with a serious note. “You know you’ve little to be offended about if that was true, though we both know your worth is immesurable compared to myself. You could sway any Qin’sar in the Golden Valley if you wanted. I’ve heard a few of them are quite taken with you.”

That unfamiliar tension returned as Elmas deigned to leave her answer unspoken. She didn’t speak, letting Adofo piece together her displeasure beneath a quiet observance. Watching her back, Adofo found the vivid green shade of her eyes beautiful, the lure behind them almost enough to physically pull him nearer to her.

She snapped their reverie with a turn of her head, attracted by the High Quarter’s lantern lights.

“If we’re being honest, First Blade, I’d rather hear you speak honeyed words over any Qin’sar. I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the hearts of women, no matter who you choose to love. You aren’t that unnotable as to be discounted for many women’s ideal of a soulmate. Neither mine nor Siham’s.”

“I’m flattered,” Adofo said, “but come on, Elmas, there must be someone that’s caught your eye, certainly?”

Her cheeks gently blushing, Elmas confessed at long last. “I’ve little time to consider partnering with a male, but the Dominion’s laws grant a handful of the Zar the privilege of marriage. My situation of romance shares nothing with your predicament, but… I’ve been wondering about Magar as of late.

“Don’t look at him behind us, but he comes by often during the night to leave beautiful bundles of flowers by my door. Every morning brings something different and I know it’s a small thing, but…”

“I’m not disappointed,” Adofo nodded, “you could actually do far worse than him. He might be the most inexperienced in our ranks, but there is a reason he was inducted into the Bloodsworn. He shares your age and is actually the opposite to you in a number of ways, but similar in many more as well.”

“Courageous, but often reckless. Daring and reactionary, and kind like the Magar that we’ve always known. I almost thought him too good-natured for combat and warfare, but he distinguished himself on the steppes of the U’skar Qi, aiding the city of Xura with the rest of his unit.”

“Could I maybe ask you a question?” Elmas changed the subject. “Though you might consider it too personal to give me an answer.”

“What are you wanting to know?”

“You’re of the Bloodsworn. A retired veteran from the legion and a guardian of the Royal Palace. You’ll walk away from the Golden Valley as a free man within a few years, like the rest of us. If the Dominion broke your chains and allowed you to depart in peace, would you leave the Carth Dominion to journey wherever you desired? Would that mean anything without Lady Siham Sar Amun’s love to look forward to with each new dawn? Or… would you consider taking Siham with you if you did decide on leaving the Golden Valley behind?”

Difficult questions without any simple answers, Adofo thought, looking up toward the starlit heavens as night blanketed the City of Grand Canals.

“Well,” Adofo began, “I don’t know what my love for Siham really looks like to you, but her devotion might be more real to me than maybe anything I’ve known in a long time. Siham has gone to great lengths to shield me from the worst consequences haunting our relationship. She treads a blade’s edge for me every now and again, though she understands that she doesn’t have to, nor should have to. In that alone remains a debt that I cannot easily see repaid.”

“You’re just ignoring the possibility that she might think you’re nothing more than a possession? Children of the Sun think that way. That alone makes me concerned for you, Adofo.”

“You might think it’s foolish, but I will always love Siham until her inevitable kiss goodbye. We’ve always known that our relationship was never fated to last forever. We decided to enjoy the time we’re able to share with each other instead. I think that will be the truth whenever that may happen.”

A jolt rocked the raft as it brushed up against a pier of granite stone, blanketed with soot from the surrounding manufactories. Adofo spied several-story buildings, billowing with flames and clouds of charred smoke that made the building appear as if it were burning along its higher floors.

Adofo removed both of his legs from the canal, drying them with a spare towel before donning them again. Elmas loomed over him as all conversation aboard the Languid Mermaid faded to silence.

Amused faces turned to stone as the Bloodsworn amassed around their first and second blades, palms on their sheathed weapons and shields held tight across their chests.


Post Merge: April 23, 2023, 08:46:10 PM
In the future, please use the modify button. Double posting is against the forum rules, and for that reason, the system merged your posts.

“Brethren,” Adofo climbed back to his feet. “We’ve heard many myths about the Old Ruin beneath the city. I wouldn’t give credence to superstition but, I’m not one for tempting fate either. Be cautious and prepared for anything. Fall into formation and let’s move quickly.”

Twin pillars flanked the rough stone pier, flames burning from torches fastened to the blackened stone, covered in soot in every nook and crevice. A discreet entrance into the artifice quarter known to many a rogue, Adofo knew, the quickest route to the Ardent Spire beneath the main city.

He gazed up into a tapestry of patchwork quilted cloth and other roughspun blankets. Utilitarian manufactories flanked an entire swathe of the dirt road ahead, their industrial fires burning bright into the night.

“The Artifice Quarter,” Elmas gasped, awe-struck, “I haven’t ventured to the valley outskirts in years. A small measure of beauty lingers here, even beneath all the soot.”

“The gate into the Ardent Spire remains a league or so ahead,” Adofo said, “be cautious, this place is a maze unto itself, everything around this area was created well over a milennia ago.

“Be generous with the light once we’ve delved deep into the Ardent Spire. It will be the only light source to guide our way. Expect nothing, but prepare for anything.”

A formation of black thunderhead clouds swept above the Golden Valley, blotting out the ethereal moon and its starlit void. Lightning bristled, falling from the heavens without warning to strike the mortal sphere far below. A furious wind battered the artifice quarter, whipping up the waters of the Seventh River until they began to rumble like the thunder from high above.

The Bloodsworn assumed a tight-knit formation, shields arrayed in a wall against their outward-facing flanks. They advanced at his command, braving the narrow back-alleys running between the manufactories.

A wailing wind lashed about the patchwork blankets suspended above the winding road. Curtains of falling rain poured through the ceiling of cloth, coming down hard enough to obscure the way forward.

Audible notes of laughter and hushed conversation played from behind the privacy of soot-stained walls and gnarled oak doors, barred behind wooden beams. Soot collecting on the cobblestone road broke apart beneath their boots, turning to obsidian pools in the rain.

Silence haunted their journey as the road began to coil from up ahead. Looking over the railing as they neared the gate into the Ardent Spire, a spiraling descent waited below that would take another hour, leading into the city bowels. What awaited them in the light-less abyss at the descent’s end, Adofo could only guess.

They descended without hesitation, until the industries of the Artifice Quarter loomed far beyond their immediate reach.

“It’s an ominous night,” he said, “a storm wind batters the canals above and rain has soaked our armor through. You can hardly hear the thunder from these depths. Just a subtle tremor running deep through the earth.”

“And I’ve not spied a living soul since we entered the Artifice Quarter,” Magar replied, “just abandoned streets and emptied smithies, even the local craftsmen workshops.”

“Seeking shelter from another eastern storm from the steppes,” Elmas said, “maybe another event had happened earlier in the afternoon. It makes things easier for us regardless.”

“This has always been a cursed place, beneath the city.” Kalb sighed aloud into the rain and cracking thunder. We had an altercation here with the Crimson Lions back when they were a famed name. We fought a running battle on the path we’re on now, even while we speak. Remember that, Adofo?”

He didn’t laugh, overwhelmed by a seventh sense, and the disturbing feeling that brought.

“We had enough torchlight to guide our blades against them. You had almost lost your eye to their war leader that night.”

“Their champion was a vicious scoundrel, defiant up until the end too. He led quite a notorious band, but their reputation fell into ruin that night. I often thought about how we managed to fight our way out of the Ardent Spire back to the royal palace.”

“That was all before your induction into the Bloodsworn, Magar,” Elmas said, “just before I was promoted into the palace guard. We’ve a few leaders that keep workarounds for cheating death at every turn. All in the name of reaping yet more vain glories.”

“Well I’ve reaped enough,” Kalb replied, “more than anyone here. I was just noting that nothing looks different about this place. I’d wager that all the blood spilled that night might still linger on the stone.”

The spiraling stairwell leveled out to a flat road that stretched on into the dark. Flickering torchlight pealed back the darkness lying in wait ahead, banished for every several paces taken forward.

Elmas halted, her breath locked in her lungs upon her body turning rigid. Adofo looked back to regard her, watching her squeeze both eyes shut while she struggled internally. He made to call for a physician or anyone with the ability to help.

Elmas doubled over, a trembling hand against her stomach, and emptied its contents. His brethren scrambled clear before Adofo had thought to. He stepped to one side to avoid where the bile would strike, placing a hand on her back for support.

His other hand on her shoulder, he barked out a relieved laugh. She exhausted the last of her sickness after heaving a second time. Adofo knew what caused the illness. The sickly-sweet stench of death and decay, concealed amid the city bowels.

Her hand came away from his wrist, previously latched around it for support. Regulating her breathing, she staggered twice before recovering herself enough to stand.”

Her cheeks turned to rose-red, unable to conceal the blush of embarrassment.

“Apologies.” That was all Elmas deigned to speak.

“It appears you spoke the truth, Kalb.” Adofo removed both hands from Elmas, turning to regard the path ahead alongside the rest of the Bloodsworn. “Nothing appears to have changed here in the Ardent Spire after our battle. A forgotten footnote in Tushik’s history.”

Adofo commanded the torchbearers forward with hand-gestures, watching their cautious advance to comb and scout the surrounding area. He stalked forward, the Bloodsworn’s leather boots squelching in the rainwater pooling on the cobblestone road behind him.

“Strange,” Magar added, “an ominous message to the superstitious, written in the faded blood and crumbling bones of the dead abandoned down here.

“It still smells like death,” Elmas said, “unfortunates must have perished here only recently.”

Unmarred by the soot of the Artifice Quarter, Adofo spied a faded wine-red mosaic through the water. It looked like an ancient, glowing hex painted with blood. A diabolic shape that rippled beneath the water’s refracted light.

Fragments of bleached bone and decayed armor scraps littered the flooded path ahead. Some appeared sundered messily apart, while others crumbled with time and exposure to the elements. An open graveyard spanning only a league of the Ardent Spire’s main road.

A weathered gate loomed ahead of them, leading into an abandoned district lost to Tushik’s ancient past. It appeared to be opened, falling to the wayside to permit free entry.

Kalb, select half of our number and appoint Magar as your second. Anyone that Kalb passes over will follow me and Elmas. Let’s search for this abandoned district up ahead. Spread out and let’s see if we can find our benefactor.”

Kalb called out ten of his brethren by name. Called to arms, they advanced at his back through the open gates into the ancient ruins.

“Do you really think our benefactor maybe waiting for us in here? I think a Child of the Sun would rather fall from the royal palace down the Golden Mountain’s height.”

“I wonder if anyone inside of this crypt might even still be alive.” Adofo searched the surrounding colonnades and alcoves with hawk-eyes. “Come on, let’s not leave Kalb on his own for too long.”

An urgent shout came from up ahead. Adofo recognized Kalb’s biting bark commanding his warriors. He ran ahead without warning, Elmas and the others pursuing hard on his heels through the open gate.

Passing through the gate in several strides, he came to a sharp halt when failing to spot Kalb’s warriors anywhere in sight.

“Kalb!?” Adofo shouted into the light-less depths, his voice punctuated by a furious boom of thunder from the heavens above. “Gods, running toward the perilous unknown as always.”

A dim inkling of torchlight in the darkness wavered in the near distance.

A woman’s familiar voice spoke from an arm’s length away.

“You’re also running into the same unknown amid the dark and storm. Why admonish anyone following in their leader’s example?”

He startled, his heart leaping within his chest as he staggered back from a marble stairwell spiraling up into an ancient watchtower. A hand reached out for the pommel of his blade as he searched the abandoned settlement for a hostile presence.

“You’re late, Adofo Akopian of the Zar’qin Guard.” She called out to him again, whistling to lure him into looking in the right direction. “Here I am. Hidden in plain sight.”

Adofo fell out from his combat stance, finding his benefactor seated at the base of the spiral stairwell.

A Child of the Sun, russet of skin and in her life’s prime, though Adofo knew she kept several centuries to her name. Almost enough to rival her immortal father, Lord Erasyl Sar Amun.

Twisting locks of lustrous obsidian strands spilled across her shoulders in neatened coils. Her eyes, one bright like emerald and marred with four scars that ran diagonally over her left eyelid. The other eye shone like black-veined silver, to find the soul housed beneath the flesh and bone beneath.

She was equipped in a foreign style of armor. A raven black brigandine worn most often by the warriors of Tanorith continent. A western world far beyond the Black Sea. Pieces of segmented plate steel reinforced her left shoulder and both arms from wrist to elbow.

An elegant estoc rested against her midnight black saora leggings, the clothes tucked into tall leather boots of boiled brown leather.

Cautious footfalls approached through the rain as Elmas made to join them. She gasped, her eyes alight with recognition upon finding the Child of the Sun seated on the stairwell.
 
“Lady Shoushan Sar Amun.” Elmas proclaimed. “Firstborn daughter of the Sun Caller Kings and Heiress of the Carth Dominion.”

Shoushan regarded them both with a polite smile.

“You arrived later than I expected. We’ve little time in the hourglass to avert our fated disaster.”

Elmas cocked her head at Adofo, an uncertain look shared between them. “Heiress, what are you doing waiting in this abandoned district? Adverting disaster? Are you being pursued? We discovered a few dead warriors outside. Did you dispatch them?

Shoushan didn’t bat an eyelash, watching the Bloodsworn maintain guard at the gate until further orders.

“You’ve no need to call me Heiress. Just my name will suffice. I am safe here in case you haven’t noticed. You are the ones being pursued and stalked through the Ardent Spire. I am surprised that none of your number has noticed.”

Adofo looked about the surrounding area in search of threats. “I will have my Bloodsworn provide escort for you to the royal palace. I’m not certain how the Heiress of the Carth Dominion came to be here of all places, but I am assuming your guards are dead at this point.”

“I did not call on you to return me to the royal palace,” Shoushan said, “I need to venture much farther beneath the valley. Into the Old Ruin that lies buried under everything. I have a contact waiting for me therein. However, she is also being pursued and hunted by Ashen Blades.”

“Ashen Blades?” Adofo scoffed aloud. “Sukhanites from the Southern Wastes?”

“Midnight clad assassins should what I’ve learned of them be accurate,” Elmas said, “disciples to the Goddess of Death, Zahira. It would make sense if they were here in pursuit of someone courageous enough to ignore the Dominion’s laws. I see no other reason that they would be interested in visiting Tushik.”

“There are other reasons.” Shoushan stated in a matter-of-fact tone. “Our enemies have marked my contact for death. I want her pursuers eliminated before proceeding any further with our meeting. I want the Bloodsworn to aid me in that task. Are you up to the challenge, First Blade?”

“It’s our mission to aid the Sar Amun House in matters of importance when required. We will aid you if you’re not comfortable asking the Qin’sar. I know journeying into the Old Ruin is forbidden on pain of death to everyone, even an Heiress of the Dominion.”

“Not quite the truth.” Shoushan mentioned with a smile. “But I will remember the courage and loyalty the Bloodsworn have shown me here this night. We should hurry, the Sukhanites will ambush your bear-like friend up ahead. He will need to be reinforced soon.”

“Understood, but do the Bloodsworn a favor and stay distant and out of the fight. I wouldn’t refuse your aid otherwise, but if Ashen Blades are involved than any form of combat with them is too dangerous to permit your participation.”

Shoushan nodded. “Then let us waste not another second in the hourglass.”
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Chapter 6 Oath of Blood, Revision 3
« Reply #336 on: June 2, 2023, 08:09:02 PM »
A quick update - I've entered Act III for manuscript revisions and am currently progressing through Chapter 20. Total word count is reduced from 120,000 to 106,000 approximately, still several more chapters to go.

Appointment with my marketer has begun. If I can finish revisions in time - A Sanctum of Swords will be going through the rest of the editing process over the next few months.
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Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #337 on: June 18, 2023, 06:56:24 AM »
Quick update with where the manuscript and book production is currently.

Manuscript revisions are nearing completion - I've progressed into chapter 24 and things are going well. Manuscript sitting at approximately 108,000 words.

Appointment with the marketer continues - I'm learning a lot about the best path to launch and am receiving a lot of good information.

I have since removed the preview of A Sanctum of Swords Revisions 2 & 3 from fictionate.me after reviewing some suggestions from my marketer - this change is deliberate and not an accident.

I am also aiming to have another illustration done sometime in Q3 - if things continue according to plan.

I am ready to complete A Sanctum of Swords and to revisit some budding projects I was working on previously in the world of Thearus.
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Offline Sir_Godspeed

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Re: A Sanctum of Swords: Update Summary
« Reply #338 on: June 18, 2023, 05:42:57 PM »
Nice! Look forward to how it's going to work out, and glad to hear you're learning a lot. :D

Offline Myen'Tal

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Thanks @sir_Godspeed!

Announcement - after a handful of months of constant toil - Revision 3 is now completed. We're gearing up to go into the copy edit later this month.

I would also like to announce that I am working on a three-novella collection that I've titled Whispers of White Sapphire - more to come on this later!

I am also beginning the outline process for the second installment of The Embers of the Past series - The Reaper of the Mortal Sands - stay tuned for more on this as well!

It's about time to move onto new literary projects here to continue writing - stay tuned to this thread!
« Last Edit: July 1, 2023, 08:48:12 PM by Myen'Tal »
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