Friday, February 28, 2014

Philosophy

Philosophy, as a subject, should be studied before any and all other subjects (with the exception of language and mathematics).  Philosophy teaches us how to ask the right questions.  It teaches us how to analyze data and think logically.  It teaches us how to debate intelligently.  Philosophy opens the path through which we find real knowledge.

I believe reality is truth and truth is reality.  I believe they are a multi-faceted object.  I believe that each subject - literature, mathematics, art, psychology, architecture, biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, history, sociology, politics, thermodynamics, music... each is a single angle to view this object - reality and truth.

If a person only studies one subject, that person will only see reality from one angle.  To get a full picture, to piece the puzzle together, one needs to study as many subjects as possible.  Or, at the very least, find people you can trust who have studied the other fields for you.

The brain grows and retains knowledge by making (quite literally) connections.  The more information you offer it, the more it possibilities it has to connect and make sense of.  The more intelligent you become.

Don't, however, forget the power of emotion.  It can blind and debilitate logic.  So it is important to understand emotion, whenever and wherever it comes from - and not to ignore it or pretend it has no influence.  Emotion is an angle to truth that logic cannot fathom.  They are, after all, two separate parts of the brain.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Forests of Fablemyr - Book I

The first book of the Forests of Fablemyr trilogy is now available at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/343576

-

It is formatted for all different platforms, including Amazon's Kindle, Apple's Epub and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

And remember - every book sold sends a dollar to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What is Akralon? Part I

When people ask what the Akralon books are about, I find it difficult to give a short answer and do the books justice.  Akralon is about two things, primarily.  First, it's about self-discovery and finding purpose in life.  Second, it's about the power of imagination and creativity.

The reason the characters span the globe is to show many different lifestyles and circumstances, but also to show how most people define themselves by their job or their family or their culture.  We all do it, to some respect.  But who are you without those things?  With no job, no family and no culture, what is left? 

We have all these societal norms that regulate our behavior that we never really stop to think about.  I like to use the old elevator example.  There are unspoken rules about etiquette inside an elevator.  You step in, you turn around, you stare at the doors or watch the changing floor light.  Nobody wrote these rules down, we just sort of adapted into this group behavior.  But imagine how people would react if you stepped inside the elevator and did NOT turn around, and instead stared forward.  What if you just walked to the back of the elevator and stood silently facing the corner?  Technically, you wouldn't be doing anything wrong, but something as simple as which direction you're facing is enough to make people freak out and think you're crazy!

All that, just in an elevator.  A household, town, city and country have a million more of these unspoken rules of how we ought to behave. But what if you took people out of their society, out of their country - out of their world?  What if you put them in a different world where none of those rules applied.  How would they react?  What would they think?  Without culture, family and friends - how would they now define themselves?

Now imagine, after some time, they return home, to all the familiar things.  Would they be any different - changed in any way?  Would they simply revert back to their old habits and ways of thinking?  No doubt, depending on the shortness of the time away, most people would settle back into their old ways.  It's what they've been doing the longest.

But what if they could, periodically, go back and forth?  How would they deal with two separate realities?  The human brain doesn't like not having everything on the same page, so it would try and adjust, somehow bring the realities together.  This means the person would have to develop a stronger, more defined way of viewing the world/s and his or herself. 

Throw in the extra spice of having abilities not available in the real world and you have a formula for making heroes and villains.  Some people will find strength to overcome their circumstances, to learn and grow and be better people.  Others will fall victim to their darker natures and downward spiral into infamy. 

So, in a sense, the world of Akralon is a test for the soul.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fey - The Ancient Peoples


Firbolgs were the first to inhabit the forests of Fablemyr. While they are fierce and barbaric, they lived in peace and harmony with the surrounding wilderness.

When the Tuatha de Danann arrived, they felt intruded upon the mysterious and haughty elves. A war ensued, and large and strong as the Firbolgs were, they were outmatched by the cleverness and spellcraft of the elves. Upon losing, they were pushed to the outskirts of the forest.

Now the Firbolgs dwell in the surrounding hills and mountains, venturing into the forest only when food runs scarce. Untrusting and quick to anger, some say Firbolgs have giant’s blood in them. They stand over eight feet tall and are usually thick with muscle and coarse hair. Despite their immense size, they are excellent hunters and can move silently through tree and brush when necessary.





The militant and merciless Fomor are a ruined race of deformed mutants, immune to normal weaponry.  Their pale flesh resembles melted wax, oozing over brutish malformed bodies.

The Fomor invaded Fablemyr after the Tuatha de Danann, defeating and enslaving them.  For long years they ruled with an unyielding iron fist. Lugh Lamfada eventually led the Tuatha de Danann in an uprising.  With the aid of the Four Treasures of Ireland, the Tuatha de Danann brought down the mighty Fomorii leader, Balor, and banished all Fomor from the boundaries of their realm.

The Fomor have recently began turning up in various places in Fablemyr, plotting the vengeance that has been festering in their souls for the entirety of their banishment...





The Tuatha de Danann are the magical and mystical race called elves.  After a successful campaign to drive out the Firbolgs, they indulged in music making and celebrationsThey first battled and defeated the Firbolgs and later fought the foul and mean-spirited Fomor... and lost.

Despite the beauty and grace of the elven culture, they were no match for the sheer numbers and brute force of the relentless Fomor.  It took the combined strength of four great treasures and an inspirational leader to rally them to overthrow the heavy yoke of their militant slavers.

Flourishing for a thousand years in Fablemyr, in tandem with the Fey kingdoms.  They spread out and forged four great cities.



The first two cities were Murias in the west and Finias in the east.  Murias was a twilight city of water and healing.  These elves became the Lunaire, or moon elves by common tongue.  They practiced the art of moon magic and studied lunar cycles, curative and calming powers.  A soothing city of smooth marble, flowing streams and serene ponds, Murias was the first city to be abandoned.

Finias, nearly the opposite, became a city of light and illumination, of knowledge and research.  They built tall spires to bask in the sunlight and became the Syldaer, or sun elves.  They spent time harnessing the powers of sunlight, filtered through various precious gemstones to offer the powers of revelation, divination and restoration.

In the north, they founded Falias.  Here the elves delved deep into the earth, diving into the darkness where strange molds and fungi grow.  They took a strange fascination with herbalism and toxicology.  Eventually they began experimenting with shadow magic.  This obsession is what led to the title the Dreyth, or shadow elves.  Eventually, their experimenting became to radical and severe and they were cast out by the other factions of elves - banished forever from Fablemyr.

Last, in the south was Gorias.  Here the elves cast off their fine clothes and jewelry as well as their refined customs and mannerisms.  They chose to admire both the beauty and order of nature and the wild chaos of fire.  Hence they became the wild elves, or the Wildryn.  They hunted and foraged much in the way of the Firbolgs before them.  Their tools were of bone and wood, stone and flora.  They did not tame the animals around them, as the other elves did, but befriended them in their wild and savage state.

In the end, all the elves had gone.  Men came and drove them out with cold iron.  Or perhaps they left of their own accord, seeking growth and expansion.  There are many explanations and stories, but the only thing beyond debate is that the four cities are but ancient relics, ruined and overrun by the Fey.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Guardians of the Faerie Queen

Brownies are the bristling, barbaric
guardians of the faerie kingdom. Cantankerous and severely territorial, they are dutiful and vigorous in their desire to soldier the cause of the fey civilization and protect it from the invasive and corrosive effects of outside influence. They tattoo their brownish skin with whatever animalistic designs they favor.

They once served in the households of the Dreyth, but since the shadow elves disappeared, the brownies went wild and savage and have taken over the ruins of Falias. Now they guard the borders with poison darts and spears. They are the glade guardians, the watchers of the sacred rowanoak tree.






Sprites are the energetic and cheerful children of the faerie kingdom. They have a deep fascination and wonder with stories and music and dancing. They flit about on dragonfly wings and pulse with their own inner light.

They protect their faerie rings, circles of mushrooms, and have complete power over any who wander into the circle. If they grow bored, sprites can be dangerous, often forcing the unfortunate trespasser to dance to his death. The love to tease and often rhyme when excited.


Pixies are the playful pranksters of the faerie kingdom. Notorious for their mischief, they are always devising devious devices to deceive and distract, often leading unwary travelers out into the wood and leaving them lost, or spooking the nervous with random bestial noises.

They are fond of flowers and fragrances, of beauty and basking in the chorus of the spring and summer winds that sweep through the trees. Distinguished by their colorful butterfly wings and flower pedal clothing, they are considered the most beautiful of the faerie folk, with exception to the asrai (or nymphs).



Friday, June 14, 2013

Minions of the Goblin King



Goblins are the vicious and voracious scavengers of the underground. They share a similar toad-like skin as their ballybog cousins, but they are more clever and devious. Goblins love gold and shiny treasures.     They burrow in caves and tunnels, usually in an underground network, popping up here or there when they smell travelers or gold. Goblins are filthy, greedy and breed rapidly. They are often used as spies by the Goblin King.
   


     Boggarts are shape-shifting creatures that lurk in the shadows and feed off fear. They are swift and silent and spring upon hapless victims when they need to feed. The nightmarish hallucinations they can project into the minds of those they touch often cause the victims to suffer fatal heart attacks.      Boggarts are survivalist predators and are immune to reason. More uncommon than goblin or ballybog, they are deadlier and feared by both. The Goblin King has been known to use them as assassins.




      The Clurichaun, often called the Red Man, is a faerie of deviant and destructive powers. His avarice for wine and women are unmatched. Some say the red clothing and stocking cap symbolize the lustful desires of his dark heart.
     Hating mankind with a passion, the Clurichaun intoxicates himself until the wine and whiskey fuel his passionate hatred and sadistic pleasure in tormenting and torturing his victims. The devilish desires are unquenchable, and therefore the Clurichaun can never be pleased, never truly be happy.  And so he endlessly drowns himself in poisoned bitterness...

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Paths





Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are agleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.
~ W.B. Yeats
Irish Poet


Imagine a world where all your dreams - and all your nightmares - live and breathe.  Imagine a world illuminated by your brightest hopes and darkened by your most terrible fears.  This world is Akralon.  It is the world of Greek myth, of Celtic fables and Norse epics, of Arthurian mystery and Japanese legend, of Native American tales and African folklore.  All the world's mythology exists in Akralon.  It is a dream world fueled by the imagination of mankind.

Surreal landscapes and enigmatic experiences - the kind that alter worldviews and call everything previously accepted into question - abound.  Those who find themselves somehow in this dream world are called Travelers. Not everyone can travel and none know how or why.  Answers are elusive in the ever-changing and deeply mysterious Akralon.


As a Traveler, you must balance the ongoing drama of your real life with the fantastical adventures that take place in the other world.  As you travel back and forth, you will learn things about yourself and about those you choose to adventure with.  Some of you will find the strength to overcome your circumstances and rise to become heroes.  Others will fall victim to your lives and spiral into infamy.


There are paths you must choose on your road of self-discovery.  These paths are branches of development, not just physical and mental, but emotional and spiritual as well.  It is the ultimate pilgrimage - the truest way to find what you are truly made of. 


There are five basic paths for Travelers in Akralon.  The first 3 are physical paths: Strength, Stealth and Survival.  The other 2 are paths of the mind: Willpower and Faith.
              


It is our imagination that transforms itself into reality,
Through our physical strength and endeavors.
~ Helen Araromi
Nigerian Poet


                Those who choose the Path of Strength are those who seek the most direct course to resolve problems.  If the door is locked, break it open.  If there’s an enemy in your path, strike him down.  If something you need is up in a tree, throw a rock at it to knock it down.  Path of Strength does not mean mindless barbarism, however.  It is a honing of physical abilities – strength, speed, stamina, agility... or any combination of them.  It means focusing on controlling your body.  Whether you choose Aggression – a path that dives head first into strength and stamina, on raw physical might and power, or Defense – the way of the watchful warrior, relying more on patience and precision, or Weapons – a road that can lead to the complete mastery of a single instrument of death or a collage of combat skills, you will be using your mental determination as well as your body.  A few examples include...



Aggression – Barbarian, Berserker, Brawler
Defense – Knight, Samurai, Centurion

Weapons – Mercenary, Gladiator, Swordsmaster



                The Path of Stealth relies on careful planning , deft and quick execution of practiced skills and extensive street knowledge.  Dexterity and agility are the primary physical attributes in this case.  These are the people who choose the indirect path to resolution.  If a door is locked, get out your lockpick and open it.  If an enemy bars your way, hide until he leaves or sneak up behind him.  If something you need is up in a tree, climb up there and snatch it.  Here one may branch into the way of the Burglar – mastering the casing of buildings and locations, bypassing security, breaking in and taking what is desired, the way of the Thief – trailing people in crowded cities, picking pockets, having contacts in various markets, and knowing the streets better than any, or the way of the Rogue – those solitary loners, often dark and dangerous, who study the more subtle arts, which might include contract work, herbalism and toxicology or espionage.  This path requires patience, planning, perception and constant alertness to one’s surroundings.  A few examples include...



Burglar – Tombraider, Saboteur, Master Burglar
Thief – Bandit, Swindler, Acrobat

Rogue – Spy, Assassin, Shade  



                The third is the Path of Survival.  These are the rugged and the wild.  These are those who would live off Mother Nature’s bounty.  Hunting, tracking, foraging... survival is living in harmony with one’s surroundings, whether it be temperate woodlands, arid deserts, tropical rainforests or arctic tundra.  Those who choose survival are self-sufficient, knowing which berries to eat and which to avoid, which crushed leaves numb pain and which fruits and nuts nourish and which nullify senses.  The paths include that of the Huntsman – focusing on beasts and animals to hunt or befriend, to ally with or to slay for survival tools.  Next, that of the Tracker – focusing on knowledge and precision, in identifying ingredients, tracks, habits, strengths and weaknesses of their prey and finding individuals.  Third is that of the Explorer – focusing on survival based upon terrain, climate, weather patterns, resources of local flora and fauna and adapting to new environments.  A few examples include...



Huntsman – Falconer, Beastmaster 
Tracker – Bounty Hunter, Marksman

Explorer – Ranger, Warden






The other two paths, those of the mind are Willpower and Faith.  These are the paths for the ambitious and the dreamers, the engineers and the artists.  Those who choose these paths are concerned with finding ways around problems - using their intellect to come up with the most decisive decision or to rely on their creativity to find ways outside the box.  If a door is locked, a windweaver might simply trigger the lock, a flamecaller might melt it.  An earthshaper might change the composition of the door to become brittle and breakable while a waterwielder might simply pass through it.



I broider my life into the frame,
I broider my love, thread upon thread;
The world goes by with its glory and shame,
Crowns are bartered and blood is shed;
I sit and broider my dreams instead.
 
And the only world is the world of my dreams,
And my weaving the only happiness;
For what is the world but what it seems?



~ Arthur Symons

Welsh Poet


The path of Willpower branches into the elements – wind, water, earth and fire.  Each is respective of an individual art.  Windweaving is the art of sound – of music.  With rhythm and melody, masters compose spells that flow like the wind – altering weather, increasing or decreasing temperatures and harnessing the force of moving air.  Waterwielding is the art of movement – of dance.  With fluid like movements, spirals and spins, leaps and bounds, these masters of motion can alter the properties of water, making surface tension taut enough to walk on, or manipulating the mind – creating illusions and mental deceptions, and in some cases, even mind control.  Earthshaping is the art of composition – of cooking.  Knowing the correct ingredients, in the correct amounts, added at the right time in the right order, in the right combination, can shake the foundations of the earth in quakes, alter the solidity of elements, change the elements themselves, and affect nature’s pattern – increasing growth, regeneration and immunities.  Flamecalling is the art of logic – of mathematics.  Creating formulas of sigils and connecting them in the proper order can construct and harness energy itself.   A magic of power and destruction, one can conjure temporary items, channel energy into devastating blasts, or even energize golems into being.  Those who choose the Path of Willpower choose both an art and an element.  Some examples include...




Waterwielding – Illusionist, Sorcerer, Arch Mage
Windweaving – Wizard, Songweaver, Mentalist

Earthshaping – Druid, Summoner, Elementalist

Flamecalling – Conjuror, Geomancer, Channeler



Last, the Path of Faith.  This is not a matter of knowledge and calculation.  Faith is strength of character, strength of convictions.  It is believing in something larger than oneself.  It is, perhaps, the most difficult of paths because it requires the power of true belief.  Blind zealotry or clasping at an emotional crutch offer no power.  The believer must be clear of mind and true of purpose.  This is a path that is dangerously narrow and constantly tested with each life event.

The Path of Faith breaks into sun, moon and shadow.  Lightbending, the Path of the Sun, is a magic of light and color.  Using gemstones and crystals to harness and filter light into varying shades and hues, to bathe surroundings in a magical mixture of jewel-light to reveal, divine,  illuminate or simply to restore.  It is a warm power of healing and revelation.  Starseeing, The Path of the Moon is a magic of lunar cycles.  Reliant completely on the phase and fullness of the moon, it is a power that requires excruciating patience and planning, but offers the unparalleled protection and warding of unbreakable lunar fields of energy.  This is a power of cool serenity and refreshing revitalization.  Shadowmelding, the Path of Shadow, is a magic soaked in blood and sacrifice.  The dark cursing and rotting powers of shadow magic come at the greatest cost, and therein lies the power.  The greater the cost of the blood one sheds, the more immense the effects of the spell.  This has caused many other magic users to shun the use of shadow magic, for many have crossed the line into patricide and matricide to gain incalculable power.  Some even, have committed infanticide to rise above their peers.  Examples of these paths include...




Lightbending – Priest, Enchanter, Paladin
Starseeing – Cleric, Monk, Shaman

Shadowmelding – Warlock, Necromancer, Dreadknight