Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One-sided Preceptions of History?

Getting you all warmed up for my next blogpost...

I had a little rant prepared after something that had been weighing on me, but since I've cooled off, I broke it down into two questions.

Jas Townsend & Son YouTube Channel

A 19th Century Housewife featuring Kim McCann (jas. townsend channel)

Gentlewomen of the Press

For All the Grace of the Sex

Why I'm Involved with Living History (from my blog):

History Myths Debunked

Eric Sloane website:

Conner Prairie Website (check it out!)

A follow up to my last video, "Living History: Two Questions" and more on my views on the importance in showing and telling of history from more than one perspective.

Check out more at my YouTube Channel and stay tuned for a new blogpost. :)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

One of My Favorite Interviews...

In my short entertainment career, I have had the pleasure of doing many awesome interviews, but this one is among my favorites. It is from about a year ago (just before I did my first #B2BCyCon). Thanks Jon Towers for the great interview and conversation! If you haven't heard it yet, have a listen. :)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fort Frederick Recap and Merchant Haul

A couple weekends ago I did some 18th century camping at Ft. Frederick in in Big Pool, Maryland. Because it was such an awesome time, I did a recap and merchant haul.
NOTE: Due to my editing software's unwillingness to cooperate in making it one whole video, I had to divide it into two parts. Part 1 is the recap/video footage of the event and part 2, the merchandise haul. :)

Fort Frederick Market Faire

Featured Merchants:
Paul McClintock (From Common Hands Studio
The Virginia Floor Cloth & Textiles Co.
Dobyns abd Martin Grocers
Fashions Revisited
Samson Family Leather

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Anaerfell (The Blood of Dragons, #1) (on sale this weekend!)

The Blood of Dragons: Book 1

A Novel You Cannot Put Down

Drast and Tyran might be considered a bit black-hearted, or even immoral. Drast is cunning but reckless, hunting for admiration. Tyran is calculating but tactless, searching for affection. When the two brothers set aside their ambitions to fulfill their father's desire for immortality, they readily discover many opportunities for redemption. Now, while wielding a powerful magic that drains their life, Drast and Tyran will embark on a maddening quest, facing skin-switchers, dragons, and the God of the Dead.

Grab a copy today.


Joshua Robertson was born in Kingman, Kansas on May 23, 1984. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology. His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.


J.C. lives in the Midwest with his wife and two dogs. He recently earned his MA in English Literature and is working on his debut novel for his own fantasy world. Despite growing up with Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, and a collection of both Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels, J.C. has an abiding love of classics and spends his free time reading anything he can get his hands on.



Pick up a copy for only .99 on Amazon throughout Mothers Day weekend!


Erzebeth convulsed. Her fur and skin shedding away while she wheeled about on the ground in agony. The bones readjusted and organs reset from beast to human. Where a beast had stood was now the naked figure of Erzebeth. Cuts and scratches patterned her body, but none were fatal.
Tyran had no place for modesty. The Vucari woman, within the privacy of the ice dome, struggled to her feet. Again, her dark eyes met his own, filled with compassion.
“You need to be put down, young Red.” Her voice was calm as her feet crossed in front of one another, closing the distance between them. “Your power is greater than any I have seen before, even from the Anshedar.”
“What?” Tyran said, forehead wrinkled with confusion. He had never heard of the race before, whether beast or otherwise.
“You are like a rabid dog, young Red. You are the perfect companion, loyal, and possibly even loving somewhere deep inside,” Erzebeth bit her lip. Her breasts, barely covered by her dark hair, touched the front of his chest. She halted her feet. “But, you are tainted by a disease that is stronger than the goodness in you.You cannot be left to live in this world, or you will corrupt every living thing around you.”
Tyran tilted his chin, lips parting. His free hand touched her pale skin, as whitish as the ice fortress that veiled this moment.
“You would taint me, young Red.” She stepped up on her tiptoes. “As with the rabid dog, you need to be put down.”
He grabbed her by the back of the neck, and pulled her to him. He kissed her with more force than he had ever kissed any woman. This woman was not Isolde. This woman was battle hardened, and a warrior. She was not plain. She grabbed his shoulders and returned the embrace, her tongue touching his lips. Her body was far warmer than his own, as if it were heated by the darkness.
He did not know what he was doing in this moment. It may have likely been the first time that his mind was clear from thought, acting without thinking. Though, in time, he may consider that when his death was nigh, he found that this was something he wanted to do before death found him.
The crashing against the ice pulled him from the moment. Tyran pulled back, moving the Vucari’s hair from her cheek. “You won’t kill me, Erzebeth.”
“No,” she breathed. Her hands fell to his chest. “But, it still needs to be done.”

Monday, May 8, 2017

Author/Artist Spotlight on Kylie Jude

TA: First, tell the lovely readers a little about yourself and your work.

KJ: Hey, lovely readers! I’m Kylie and I write stories, compose music, edit book trailers and other things, and dabble in digital art. I grew up all over the place but now live in the magical woods of Eastern Kentucky with my husband Eric Jude (.Com) and our ferocious furrbaby, Clack. I’ve only published one short story so far, but I have a lot more coming.

TA: Now as a multi-faceted artist, is there one artform you would say is primary to the others?

KJ: Oh man, that’s a tough one. It’s almost like choosing a favorite child! Video editing is probably the most fun for me, especially when it’s done to music (like trailers and music videos) but I’d say as far as doing something that has meaning and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing my purpose in life, it’s between composing music and writing novels – specifically my Science Fiction series The Undying Chronicles, which I hope will motivate and inspire its readers to change the world. Words are a beautiful conduit for hope and power, and I feel like, at least with this series, I just might have something capable of doing just that – changing the world, in some small way. Even if it just plants a tiny thought in one person’s mind that they can do anything they put their minds to, that they are here for a purpose, that they have the power to choose their fate, I’ve done my job and my life is complete. But then, with music, especially stuff like my forthcoming instrumental solo album (which has a sort of Science Fiction theme and a title I can’t reveal yet), it feels sort of like the same thing but on a deeper level. I’ve done it with a couple film scores I recently composed, but specifically with this solo album, I tried to compose tracks that healed my soul, and that will hopefully do the same for anyone who listens to them with an open heart. It’s almost a spiritual experience, composing music. But then, writing can feel the same way... Well, at least I narrowed it down to 2. ;)

TA: Do you recall the first story you ever wrote?

KJ: I do! It was a Fantasy novel about twin sisters who also happened to be fairy-type creatures, and it involved lots of other stuff too. I started it when I was 11 years old and never finished it. But now, after all these years, I’m starting from scratch and rewriting it. I’m really excited about it, but am trying to focus on getting The Undying Chronicles out there before moving on to this one. I can say, though, that the new version of this story is much more structured and filled with meaning, and I absolutely love the settings and characters. I hope its future readers will too.

TA: As a science fiction writer, what is it about the genre that draws you, as opposed to other genres?

KJ: I didn’t so much choose it as it chose me, but I’ve always loved Science Fiction because not only does it expand the mind and allow us to explore the unknown, but often it literally creates the future. Many books and films and TV shows in the genre have either predicted future technology, or inspired someone to create it. I think that if you’re in the business of changing the world, which I hope to be, then Science Fiction is the genre to work in. It certainly holds the power of influence!

TA: You mentioned that you have a book coming out soon. Can you talk a little about it?

KJ: I can’t talk about it too much until it’s released, but yes, book one in The Undying Chronicles is in the beta reading and editing stages now and we’re hoping to finally have it published soon – which is pretty exciting after 6 years! The first book in the series is called Undying and follows girl named Amaya, who was born with no arms due to radioactivity in the atmosphere. Her missing limbs make her a target for termination by Population Control Robots, so her parents have always kept her sheltered, but when her father goes missing and she sets out to find him, her search ends up leading her down unforeseen paths of hope, love, pain, and strength. Her new robotic arms are just the beginning of a journey that will change her life, and maybe even her world.

TA: What is your favorite sci-fi subgenre and why?

KJ: Definitely Space Opera. I’ve always loved space and would have tried to be an astronaut if I thought my body could handle it. But sadly, it can’t, so Space Opera (and anything else having to do with space and other planets) is a bit of an escape for me. In a way it allows me to venture into space and visit new worlds without having to leave the comfort of my home, and I think that’s what draws a lot of people to it.
And yes, there is a bit of a Space Opera element to The Undying Chronicles, although I don’t think I’d necessarily classify it as a Space Opera. But any time I can work space travel into my stories, I am happy.

TA: What's coming up and where can everyone find you?

KJ: In addition to The Undying Chronicles, I’ve got a Dystopian short story coming out in an anthology fairly soon, as well as another possible short story in another anthology. I’ve also got my instrumental solo album coming out soon, as well as some cool new covers and originals with my husband and our music project Under The Dying Sun, which could probably be best described as Folk Rock meets Doom Metal (or Folk Doom? That sounds more like it, haha) – and I’ve always got some sort of new book trailer coming out through our production company Frozen Creek Studios, which offers all kinds of services for all kinds of creative types, including authors, but for the next few months our main focus is helping with everything from music to editing for a TV pilot which is filming in June. That’s something you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on, especially if you’re into shows like Game of Thrones or Vikings. I’ll link to it below along with a bunch of other links ;)





Frozen Creek Studios:




Under The Dying Sun:


Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot:




My short Paranormal Thriller on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Author Spotlight on A.L. Mabry

A.L. Mabry is a publisher and multi-genre author. She is currently working on several projects, including a short story collection, Darker Daze: The Storms Within (dark fiction) and the first book in her Chthonian Guardian trilogy, Soul Purge (fantasy). Darker Daze is being released exclusively on Patreon while Soul Purge will be published in 2017 by OWS Ink, llc. She has a sci-fi project in the works, Vivamus (science fiction), which will be released in early 2018.
A.L. Mabry is one of the founders of and the Executive Marketing Manager for Our Write Side (OWS Ink, llc), an online community for writers, readers, publishers and more. She writes occasional articles on OWS focused on the connection between life and writing. She publishes articles on Medium and also has a weekly writing prompt; Coldly Calculating: Writing By The Numbers: Putting a dark twist on colloquial phrases with a numbers theme.
She was previously the Editor in Chief for Eat, Sleep, Write and once ran a successful special needs blog, Rage Against the Washing Machine which has since been retired. She is a highly sought freelance writer who specializes in research-based writing. This allows her to provide quality content on a variety of topics. She enjoys helping other authors find their way with private coaching and sharing what she has learned from personal experience, for example, this post on Perfecting Your Bio. As an author, she enjoys writing in all genres and forms, even grocery lists. She is an artist at heart and Wiccan by nature with an obsessive love of vampires, kilts, and blue butterflies. She is passionate about many topics, and her posts and stories are often laced with the snarky sense of humor one acquires from raising five teenagers, all at once.
In her downtime, she can be found with her loving husband, Shawn, and their children. She maintains her shreds of sanity with yoga, tea, and cats.
You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedn, Instagram, and Tumblr or shoot her an email. Be sure to subscribe to this site to stay updated on story progress and release dates.

And now a little about her book Soul Purge and a key person within the story...

Author's note: Tiago is one of the antagonist we journey with through my Chthonian Guardian series. His role is a complicated, complex one although he doesn't realize it. He sets off with very distinct plans which never seem to pan out quite right. Will this broken soul seek the ultimate revenge or will he walk a road of redemption? Only time will tell.
1. What would you say is your best physical attribute?
A lot of people have said my eyes are quite mesmerizing *snicker* but, personally I would say my hands. My hands assist me in everything from survival to...pleasure. *wink*
(Did he just wink at me??)
**Clearing my throat**
2. How much have your parents influenced who you have become?
Well, I did get me blood thirst from them...other than that, nothing I suppose. Left me to be raised by the Queen's court while they remained on Guardian duty. I was groomed to be a consort to the Queen, a position I held fast for many centuries. Once I met DeeAnn, my anam cara, I no longer warmed her majesty's bed.

3. Often people are able to identify with a quote, or there is a quote that effectively sums up their beliefs. Is there any such quote for you?
Our Queen has often said, "Love is a weakness, no good comes of it." So far I have found no proof to the contrary.

4. Who is this darling little creature hiding behind you? Is she with you often?
Oh this little beauty? This is Maeve; I think she is a brownie. SHe came runnin’ through the woods with a piece bread she stole from some brute an’ he was hell bent on getting it back. I didn't really set out to save her...I was trying to take a nap and she was making quite a ruckus. So, I set him straight about it and she tricked me into keeping her by my side. She's a wee bit shy with strangers though she'll often talk my head off.

5. When you turned around I couldn't help but notice the scar that runs down your back. Do you care to share with us how that happen?
Like my parents, I am a Guardian. My charge, Emilia, has always been a bit...hard headed. She's a wee lass but always set on doing things her own way. One evening she insisted on picking some herbs herself, to help a healer. I stayed right with her but we were ambushed by some vile creatures. That scar was the result of a poisonous talon that left me nearly paralyzed. I had only enough strength to kill my charge.

6. killed the young lady you were supposed to protect?
There are worse fates than death. Had this creature gotten its vile hands on my charge it would have proven unfortunate for all of us. Can we change the subject, love?

7. Certainly, um...Everyone seems to have that one thing they strike me as a brave man but is there anything that worries you?
Losing my anam cara. She is my promise of Transcendence. I cannae leave this world without her because she is the completion of my soul.

8. What is Transcendence, exactly?
You humans call it "Heaven." It is where our souls finally get to rest in continuous joy once they have reached complete growth. Every soul lives, dies, and lives again until every lesson has been learned and absolute radiance has been achieved. Our Queen spends much of her life observing the souls and placing them appropriately.

9. Do you normally kill people?
No. Well, not usually. Only sometimes...if they deserve it. Really it is our job to keep the humans safe from...other creatures...but sometimes the humans are their own worst enemies.

10. Are you a vampire, witch or ware?

11. I meant which of these are you?
All of them. None of them. I am a Chthonian.

Well, there you have it folks! A sneak peek at one of our beloved Chthonian Guardians. I wonder how much his next interview will differ from today's? We will check back with him prior to book two!

For more information. visit

and her patreon can be found at

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Author Spotlight on Shakyra Dunn

Shakyra Dunn can't stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure around every corner! She is the author of the fantasy series "The One Left Behind," and the upcoming fantasy novel "The Final Lesson!" When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town.

Synopsis of "The Final Lesson":

Apprentice Arcana Leilana Erovina has the chance to rise to power when she is granted a final test to gain the title of Warlord that she has craved for the last five years. She is assigned to travel about the land of Adrylis and learn one spell from every magical being. However, there's a catch--she is not to learn from the ancestors of wizardry before her. Instead, she is assigned to learn something more from the souls that she encounters in the world of Adrylis: humbleness, passion, understanding, laughter, friendship and love. Adrylis is in crisis, war at the doorstep of the kingdom of Linmus. Prince Remiel Vesarus is forced into hiding, racked with vengeance towards the terrorists that have destroyed all that he has ever known. With his loyal attendant Solus Brenner at his side, together they seek to restore their kingdom to its former glory and end the conflict of previous generations. When fate pulls them down similar paths, they will discover that the magic budding in their crumbling world certainly comes with a price.

Book Excerpt: 

The cinders crackled over the singed wood, rising through midnight’s earthy air. Gusts of wind drifted
through the dry oak trees, the shades of early autumn teeming from the branches in the form of cracked leaves. The stars were absent from the sky, yet a faint glimmer hovered above.
The still night of a new moon; such times were hard to fall upon. That made things even more
brilliant for such an announcement.
“You feel it, don’t you?” A gravelly voice cut through the silence, catching the attention of the group that surrounded him. “This air is thick. The stigma of the wind such as this besieges any and every
lost soul, carrying them beyond the boundaries of time.”
Master Hinju, you always make things more dramatic.”
Any means of a rebuttal were replaced by extended humming in a straight tone before finally,
“Now is not the time for remarks.” Copper eyes opened to the sound of distant laughter caught in the
indistinct gales, and a single glance at the source drew bitter silence. A stern expression coated his
features as he gazed upon the group of fourteen seated around the open fire; no disturbances occurred, and he once more cleared his throat, running his fingers through the curly brown mop on his head.
“I have summoned you here today for your final examination.” For a moment, chatter progressed among the group, some questioning what he meant by a ‘final examination,’ and after a second glance, silence took over again. “Moving on… The fourteen of you have advanced through your courses with ease, rising through the ranks of your respective classes. You were hand-chosen by your mentors to reach this stage in your lives.”
“Master Hinju, what is this final examination?” One student piped up, a stalwart expression coating her pale features. “We’ve had plenty of tests, but this is the first that I’ve heard of this…”
“Curious as always, Leilana,” Hinju replied with a nod. “That is correct—you have had many of these examinations, using your time to study magic and overcome obstacles placed before you.” The man cocked his head to the right and smirked. “But how often have you been sought out by the Headmaster himself for one of them?” Leilana grew silent, tucking a loose strand of her shoulder-length dark hair behind her ear.
“He’s not wrong…” one of the students mumbled.
“I guess this is the first time we’ve had someone like Master Hinju try to teach us…”
“Your examination on the night of emptiness will be a test of your overall skill level and valor.”
Hinju rose to a stand, extending his hand up towards the evening sky. “As Maesters and Arcana, under
the blessing of an innovative and invisible moon, you will be guided by none other than yourself. I chose this night specifically for you to give your all.” The students turned to one another in silence before continuing to listen to their Headmaster’s words. “Two by two, you will duel one another. The winners of each respective battle will progress towards the title that you each so crave—a chance to grow closer to becoming a Warlord.”
Leilana’s eyes widened at the statement, and she clutched the golden-encrusted grimoire in her arms closer to her chest, the metal vines lining the book pricking her fingers. So, that was the prize for
winning a duel. Seemed simple enough.
“Would anyone like to volunteer for the first battle?”
From the group of fourteen, a boy with neck-length dark brown hair tipped his beret and rose to a stand, confidence clear in his amber eyes. “I will.”
“Ah, so the mighty Lancett Lune is our first up for battle.” Hinju nodded in approval. “I expected no less. Do you wish to choose an opponent, or shall I have the stars choose for you?” Lancet briefly turned any signs of contempt on Leilana after looking over all his possible choices at least once, and the girl met his gaze before returning a small smirk. Lancet turned to Hinju once more, a hand on his hip.
“I leave my fate in your hands, Master.”
“Very well.” Hinju closed his eyes and ran his fingers along the silver crystal at the tip of his wooden staff, the jewel illuminating a smoky gloom. The students never averted their eyes from the man, watching as the crystal’s haze began to flow over another boy seated on a log. Once he had caught
notice of the beam above him, a grin upturned on his face and he shot up from his spot, his blonde hair
bouncing along with him.
“Yes!” he exclaimed gleefully before brandishing what appeared to be a rapier from the sheath at his side, twirling the hilt between his fingers. “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at fighting you, Lancelot! The day has come!”
“Lancelot?” Lancett laughed at the comment before he took hold of the sword at his side, pointing it at his opponent. “Take it easy there, Kindall. I’m not some knight. One day, I’ll be a Warlord. But right now, we’re both just knaves in the field of magic.”
“Begin!” Hinju commenced.
The two boys charged for one another at the call to battle, rapier and sword interlocking, the clashing metal harmoniously in sync. Lancett shoved Kindall back with his hand, causing him to stumble
before regaining his stance in time to block an oncoming strike. Kindall thrust his hand out, minuscule
shards of ice rushing through his palm, cutting into Lancett’s skin before melting. Lancett’s body became shrouded in flames faster than Kindall could process, the heat and cinders hazing his vision.
Kindall leaped from the line of fire and swung his rapier, sharper icicles accelerating from the tip of the blade. Lancett cut through the shards with his sword as he boosted himself forward off his right foot, ducking under another shard before slamming his sword onto the ground. Kindall barely had the time to react when a cataclysm of earth sent him off his feet and up into the air. He gripped to a tree branch and pulled himself up, bouncing on his feet in an anxious manner.
“The hell is he doing?” one of the male students exhaled. Leilana’s eyes narrowed as she kept her focus on the noble battle before her. Something about the method that the boys seemed to be taking was a little profound. It was as though they were slowly beginning to seep into a fractured state of bloodlust.
Kindall held up his rapier with both hands and cast down a streak of lightning at Lancett. Lancett cringed, the narrow impact sending quivers down his back. Once he had found an opportunity to strike, Kindall swung from the branch and pierced through Lancett’s defenses, knocking him to the ground. He quickly regained his footing afterward and extended his sword forward as Kindall was rushing to him again, a swell of dark energy ensnaring the boy and locking him in place, hovering above the ground in a magenta-shaded bubble.
“Hey!” Kindall tried to slice through the bubble, to no avail. When that failed, he attempted to kick and punch it, and when his efforts came to nothing, he groaned and decided to just take a seat inside of his solitary confinement, arms crossed in a huff. “Damn! I was so close!”
Lancett sighed of relief, falling to the ground, hand over his pounding heart. “That was close… I was afraid I was gonna run out of stamina…”
“Excellent work, Maester Lune. Victory is yours,” Hinju stated, laying a hand on Lancett’s shoulder. Within seconds, the torn flesh on his face and body began to mend and close once more, as if the marks were never there.
“Thank you, Master,” Lancett replied, grinning.
“That was awesome, Lance!” One of the girls piped up, now on her feet, both hands curled into confident fists. “You’re so strong!”
“That was impressive,” Leilana agreed.
Kindall grit his teeth, anxiously rocking his right leg up and down. “There he goes again, winning the hearts of all the girls… why can’t I ever get that lucky…? I’m handsome enough, I’m strong, and I’m
fun and I’m confident too, just like him… maybe I should just dye my hair or something…”
Hinju stepped up towards Kindall’s little prison and patted it a few times with his staff, the bubble bursting and causing the boy to hit the ground face-first. Kindall sat up, nearly glaring at the man before tapping his finger against the dirt, his free hand still pressed against the ground.
“Vanity does not win hearts. Nor does it appeal to those that you do seek out for guidance—it shows that you have some weakness in yourself.” He rested a hand atop the boy’s head, and a warm
light washed over Kindall’s body, healing the wounds that he sustained during his duel. “But those flaws
about yourself do improve your perception on what you want to improve on.” Hinju extended a hand to
the boy and once Kindall had a solid grip, he pulled him to his feet. “You did admirably yourself, Mr.
Mandrison. Do not take this as a loss, rather as an experience.”
“T-Thank you, Master. I will, definitely.”
“That goes for all of you,” Master Hinju continued, “When in battle, or throughout your lives, certain obstacles that you must face are not to be taken with a heavy heart. Every step forward is something that you are meant to grow from. Now, who would like to go next?”
One by one, the remaining students began to pair up with others or allowed themselves to be
paired with someone based on the guidance of the fates drawn forth by Master Hinju’s high prowess.
Leilana felt satisfied watching the excitement of her classmates, knowing that the duel between Lancett
and Kindall fueled their momentum. She wasn’t much different in her emotions—seeing the strength and determination in every student that came before her only made her more anxious on who among them could stand as a Warlord. She flipped through the pages of her grimoire, resting a hand on a page.
Warlords, hand-picked by another Maester or Arcana of the same level, destined to rule as a protector. Few of them existed today, but many that were gifted with the power of magic strived to become one. Anyone with magical prowess had a chance to be granted such a title.
Any of them standing in this forest could be one right now and not even know it yet.
“U-Um, Leilana?” Leilana glanced up, finding a girl with lavender hair reaching the middle of her back, her bangs covering her forehead, nearly reaching her cerulean eyes. Her cheeks were coated pink, rivaling the shade of her knee-length dress. “There aren’t, um… there’s only a few of us left… do you want to pair up?”
“Sure thing, uh…” Leilana glanced up at the sky in thought before holding up a finger in realization. “It’s Amelia, right?”
“Amiria,” she corrected sharply, her face reddening more at the affliction of her voice. Sure, the pronunciation had its similarities, but the syllables differed. And that passion of wanting her name to
stick was working its wonders in Leilana’s mind. “Amiria Farone.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Leilana interjected, waving a hand in dismissal. “Didn’t mean to upset you.”
“O-Oh!” Amiria held up both hands and took a step back from Leilana, her body trembling a bit.
“It’s fine, you didn’t! I-I’m sorry if I made it seem like I was angry, I’m really not, I promise-”
“Hey now, Amiria, no need to be so scared.” Kindall wrapped an arm around the girl’s shoulders, smirking. “Lei doesn’t bite, not usually.” Amiria held her arms behind her back and turned her head to keep from looking him in the eye.
“It’s Leilana,” Leilana said abruptly, “Not Lei, not Leila, it is Leilana. Live it, learn it, love it.”
Kindall raised an eyebrow at her words as he set Amiria free and allowed her to run off towards Hinju to prepare for her own duel. “Geez, no need to be so crabby. It was just a little fun with friends.”
“We aren’t friends, Kindall.” He jumped back at the proclamation. “We’re students at the same school fighting for the same goal. That doesn’t make us friends, does it?”
“Well, I, uh… I guess not…? But don’t you think it’s better for everyone that we tried to get along and be friends? You’re right, we’re all fighting for the same goal. Some of us are going to be Warlords
someday, and we can all support each other until we get there. Right?” Leilana pondered his words
before she cleared her throat.
“…I’m sorry. I’ve got a match.” She stepped past him, and Kindall stared at her back a moment longer before sighing, reclaiming his spot on one of the logs.
“You really are just a kid after all…”
Leilana stood opposite Amiria, holding up her grimoire for her opponent to view. Amiria clutched the silver flute in her hands for dear life, but kept her attention on the girl and even managed to narrow her eyes to try and stir some intimidation up.
“Come to think of it,” Lancett whispered to Kindall, “I’ve never seen Amiria fight anyone before. She doesn’t seem like she’d hurt a fly.”
“No, she doesn’t,” Kindall replied, retaining focus on the two. “But Amiria has skills that a lot of
people don’t understand.”
Leilana rapidly flipped through the pages of her grimoire and an array of fireballs shot out at the girl. Amiria put the flute up to her lips and closed her eyes, playing out a small melody on the instrument
before reflecting the magic back in Leilana’s direction. Leilana side-stepped out of the way, her eyes
darting between the singed grass and Amiria herself, who was starting up another melody on her flute.
She scoffed before flipping through the grimoire, stopping on a page, mumbling a scripture.
From the book, a pair of teeming hands cloaked in shadows emerged, grabbing the flute from
Amiria’s grasp and snapping it in half before her very eyes. Amiria blinked away the tears starting up as
she stared at her destroyed instrument, collecting the fractured pieces. With each passing second, her
eyes grew dark and clouded. Leilana outstretched her right palm, sending the hands propelling towards
her. Before they could reach her, Amiria inhaled deeply and closed her eyes, belting out a single high
note in a pitch of middle C.
The single note, prolonged over several seconds, caused the hands to shatter away. Leilana froze as the note progressed, the ground around her beginning to tremble before giving way under her.
She let out a shriek as the chasm opened, reaching out a hand as she fell. Amiria gasped when she
realized what was occurring, covering her mouth with both hands.
“Leilana!” Lancett raced forward, sliding on his side as he ran, grabbing her by the arm. Several other students rushed to his aide, helping the girl out of the chasm. Leilana laid a hand on her chest, finding it difficult to regain herself, her frame quivering from shock. Lancett gently placed both hands on her shoulders, forcing her to face him. “Are you all right?”
“Y-Yeah, just… just a little shaken up…”
He bowed his head, hands still on her shoulders, sighing heavily. “Good… I’m glad…” Hinju was still in a bit of shock himself, his gaze reflected on Amiria now, who continued to try and put the pieces together in her mind about what she had done. After coming to his senses, he held up his staff, moving stalagmites of the earth back into place to mend the open crater, sealing it shut.
“I-I… I am so sorry, Leilana!” she choked out, taking one step back after another. “I-I don’t… I don’t know what happened, I just…! I’m sorry!”
“It’s okay,” Leilana replied softly, “I’m not dead or anything.”
“B-But- ”
“Hey, don’t beat yourself up over it,” she interjected, “Don’t worry. I’m fine. I promise.” Then Leilana heaved a sigh. “…Okay, maybe not completely true, I’m a little bummed that I lost so terribly, and so fast. After all that work I put into learning the different concepts of the Lasette…”
“Remember what Master said,” Lancett told her, smirking. “It’s all a learning experience. You can definitely do better next time.” She averted her gaze from him.
Hinju cleared his throat, catching the attention of the fourteen. “…Without any more trauma running into our lessons… I’d like you all to return to your seats. I have another announcement that I would like to make.” Lancett stood up and held out a hand to Leilana. Shakily, she managed to grasp it and be pulled to her feet, being led back to the logs.
Amiria found herself clinging to Kindall after the boy had managed to get her to sit near him to calm her antsy nerves, burying her face in her sleeve. She didn’t want to acknowledge the faces that weren’t even directed towards her. Kindall could only let her have her moment of solitude, patting her head occasionally to quell her further.
“I am proud of you all,” Hinju spoke, “You all managed to achieve feats that I never imagined young Maesters and Arcana could, in many ways. Some of you are more proficient and honed to your skills than others, but now there is more that you are to learn.”
“I thought this was supposed to be our final examination?” Kindall piped up.
“Recall what I said: this was the final examination on your skill level. But to truly advance to the title and responsibilities of Warlord… there is something else that you are to acquire. And to seek it out…” He extended a finger behind him, past the trees, beyond any of their eyes. “You must take your first steps through Adrylis. The world outside of this school.”
“You want us to go to Adrylis, all by ourselves?” One of the students exclaimed, “That’s nuts!”
“Not by yourselves, unless you so wish.”
“What are we supposed to find out there?” Leilana asked.
“Warlords have the trouble of connecting humanity and magic as one. It is easy to lose yourself in your lust for power and understanding.” Amiria covered her ears to block out the words, stifling a sob.
“I wanted to evaluate where you stand in terms of this. And I must say, if what I saw during your duels
was of any evidence, many of you are far from prepared to become Warlords.”
“You’re kidding…” Lancett breathed.
“Therefore, I have your true final lesson in mind. The fourteen of you will be taking a pilgrimage throughout Adrylis. In the world, you will be seeking out totems that can be gathered from those that you encounter on your journey.” He held up a chess piece, marked as the pawn. “These totems represent the elements of humbleness, passion, understanding, laughter, friendship and love. They can take any form, be any material item that you can think of, but it must be an item of importance to whomever you feel represents these totems you uncover.”
“If we’re supposed to be gathering elements in that fashion, why do we need the totems?” A female student asked, “Do they siphon magic from the person that owns the totem?”
“Not necessarily. The strength of the person that owns the totem grants it to you of your own will, certainly, but it does not mean that they themselves possess magic in the manners that you do. In the end, the purpose of the totem is to grant you an understanding of others, their perspectives, how they live, and how they use magic in their own way. But you must choose your pawns wisely, for they will be the strength that carries you further, and it will be what gives you the opportunity to advance towards becoming a Warlord.”
Hinju set the chess piece down in front of the stump he sat on, a smile glinting over his features as he folded his arms. “Travel anywhere that you’d like during your pilgrimage, then return to the school to inform me of your success. Ah, one more detail! Once you have five totems, the last totem that you
possess must be your strongest element of the six. You cannot wield two of the same qualities in your
hands—there is something in each of you that is more powerful than the people that you encounter.
You also cannot find two of the same passions in the same person. Only you can decipher which element rules the heart of your chosen totem. If you cannot find where your true strength lies, then you will never truly become a Warlord. Remember this well.”
“There are so many rules,” Kindall whined, “How are we supposed to remember all of that?”
“Oh, believe me, I planned well in advance for this.” Hinju waved a hand before a notebook appeared in his grasp. “I’ve taken down notes for you all and left them in your rooms, detailing each element for you and providing more information on the rules and regulations that I’ve just explained. You can interpret them however you’d like.”
Kindall beamed. “You are amazing, Master.”
“I know.” Hinju winked at the group before venturing through the forest ahead of the group of fourteen. “I will let you all rest and prepare for your journey in the morning. Remember yourselves in this pilgrimage, my pupils.”
“We’re really going to leave the school for our final lesson, huh…?” Lancett mumbled, tugging on his front bangs with his index finger and thumb. “Never thought I’d be leaving this soon.”
“I guess that’s fine!” Kindall slapped him on the back, causing Lancett to flinch. “We’re earning our freedom, and we get to become Warlords once we’re done with it all! When are we ever going to
get another chance like this again?” He stepped back, extending his arms, chuckling. “Come on, feel excited! Pep up, all of you!”
“Kindall, I’m convinced now that you’re on something, and I want some,” Lancett joked.
Kindall slumped before crossing his arms, smirking. “I’m squeaky clean. You believe me, right,
Amiria?” Amiria remained silent, clutching his arm. “…Never mind, this probably isn’t the time to joke.”
“Forget it. I’m gonna head back and get some sleep,” Lancett stated, waving a hand of dismissal.
“See you guys tomorrow.” Leilana gazed up at the empty sky, her mind wandering. Tomorrow was going to be a new day. The first day of what could become the first steps towards becoming a Warlord.
“You should join us,” Kindall told Leilana, snapping her out of her thoughts. “Lancett and I are going to be traveling together. We always talked about going off to see the world together once we graduate, and I guess we get the chance early.”
“…I have some things I want to study in the journal.” Without another word, Leilana made her way through the depths of trees to return to the vast building.
“Man, I find it hard to believe that girl is fourteen sometimes, the way that she comes off.”
“But I’m fourteen…” Amiria mumbled.
“Yes, Mimi, but you’re a young and sweet fourteen. You can tell that by the way that you dress, and the way that you talk. You still get intimidated by little things, and you’re a bit high strung.”
“I’m not high strung!” she exclaimed, gripping to her dress.
“Whatever you say, kiddo.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, lightly shoving her ahead.
“Whatever you say. Come on, off to the dorms, time for bed.” She blushed at the gesture before glancing at the remains of the crater left in the middle of the ground.
Maybe this pilgrimage could be good for them all.

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