239. Morning of the Gods

Not counting fragments, dead ends, and works in progress, I have written nine novels. Three were science fiction; two were published and one is in the process of being published, so this blog had concentrated most heavily on that genre. Three others were more or less contemporary, a survival novel, a mystery adventure (now on display over in Serial), and a novel on teaching, a bit of which appeared in Serial last Christmas time.

You wouldn’t know it from this blog, but I have spent more time and effort, and more of my soul, on three novels of fantasy than on all my other efforts combined. It’s time to give them a moment in the sun. Here is the opening of Valley of the Menhir, a prolog called Morning of the Gods.

**       **       **

Other lands; other skies.  Not of earth. Lands of red sky and green sea; or gray sky and silver forests. Lands and peoples as endless as the sand, and as nameless. Realities shifting into one another, slipping by like images glimpsed in a nightride through chaos.

Out there in the night that stretches away from us all – there where consciousness ends; where experience missed sets an iron boundary on our lives – there is a land of red sky and green sea, Poinaith, and another land where the gray sky leans down to lock hands with the sliver elfin forest. 

And there is a land that has no name. We will call it the World of the Menhir. Although menhirs are found on many worlds – they are, in fact, the gateways between worlds – on no other world are the fates of its people so intertwined with their menhirs.

The World of the Menhir was temporarily Godless. Certainly, there were plenty of ways to worship. Piety was great among the people, but the last real Gods had departed a thousand years ago. All that was about to change.

In the land of red sky, two riders came, the one skirting the water’s edge and throwing up a spray of spindrift, the other riding some paces inland and throwing up a spray of creamy sand.

The foremost rider, Rem Ossilo, drew rein and his mount Margyr shook its head in rebellion at ending its run. Hea Santala’s mount closed the distance between them and they cantered inland to the cliff base and the path that wound upward. Switchbacking single file, Rem Ossilo in the lead, they ascended the cliff to a rounded, grassy hill. The sea was green beneath them, hurling itself against the headland beneath a rusty sky.

At the top Rem dismounted to look back. There was no pursuit – yet. Hea Santala’s gaze followed his. Though her face was lined with sadness and his with anger, there was no mistaking the commonality of that gaze. It was a last looking, drawing in memories for an uncertain future, hoarding a moment out of time to nourish them in exile.

Rem Ossilo gazed long at the distance, first assuring himself of their temporary safety, then taking in the panorama of his homeland. That was his way. Hea Santala took in all things at once, loving the land and fearing her enemies in the same unwavering gaze. Even hating her enemies somewhat, not for their animosity, but because she must leave this land. That was her way.

Rem looked then at his wife; that there was still some affection in his glance was a tribute to her, not to him. In the distance there was a hint of dust. She raised a finger to point, saying, “Our children are coming.”

For a moment every light emotion left his face, and it was as if someone had opened the gates of hell. Then hell turned icy and he turned away from the sea, remounting and urging Margyr toward the jumble of menhirs that surmounted the hillock. Hea Santala followed without comment. All her life she had followed without comment, and that had been her undoing.

**       **       **

That’s the last you’ll see of Poinaith as Rem and Hea pass into exile in another world, the world of the Menhir, where Valley of the Menhir will properly begin five generations later.

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