You find yourself here. No explanation, just a rugged backpack by your side. You’re wearing boots. Where are you going and why? And what’s in your pack?
S2:E1 – Chat – Where Have I Been For 20 Months?
Where have I been for the last 20 months? Not literally where, but rather, why haven’t I posted anything new in a long time? This is Season 2, Episode 1 of the Grendhill Chronicles Podcast. Yes, Season 1 was only 5 episodes. I’m splitting it here as it represents a second season of production, although some upcoming episodes were recorded nearly 2 years ago. Hopefully Season 2 will flow into Season 3 without too much of a gap; I’ll mark Season 3 starting when I reach an as yet ill-defined milestone.
Full transcript generated by MS Word (Office365) after I uploaded the audio (there are errors!):
Hi, welcome to the Grendhill Chronicles podcast.
And if you follow my podcast for all of my fan out there, ’cause it’s probably one of you.
No, so for for anybody who may happen to be following my podcast weather on YouTube or Spotify or Apple.
Wherever you might wonder where in the world I’ve been for the last year and a half that I haven’t published any episodes and you might also be wondering what is with this shirt?
Well, it’s comfy.
I like it and I’ve actually had it since high school, which was a long time ago, uhm?
But like where?
Have I been?
I mean, life happens.
I have a full time job.
I have a wife and three kids and I’ve been really busy and I haven’t had time to to dedicate to this project.
So yeah, I’ve kind of made a format for self interview here.
I’m looking at my questionnaire on the screen.
And this will be a shorter podcast episode.
I’m not going to be telling any story on this episode, and I’m not going to be really getting into the how to no.
I take that back.
Not not how to, but the banking of I will be getting into the making of a little bit so.
Uhm, you might wonder if.
You might wonder, so you might wonder when there will be more podcast episodes.
Well, here’s one right now, but I mean, what can I say?
I do it when I can and they’ll come.
I actually, I love the the Clarion neat podcast.
I know it’s nerdy.
Come from a dude named Sean Perrin and I found it back when it was fairly new.
I think I’ve actually found it during its second season.
I think I found it in 2017, but it didn’t have a huge backlog and actually there was a problem with Google Podcasts at that time. On my phone it just wasn’t drying up.
All the episodes.
Anyway, so I re found it last year. Or maybe it was late 2020. I re found it and I started bingeing it and it took me a long time to get through it.
And then in October of 2021 I caught up and he just published a new episode last week and I was so happy.
To see that notification on my phone that he had a new episode.
I haven’t listened to it yet, so I hope he doesn’t announce that he’s closing up shop on his podcast.
But I mean.
It happens sometimes time gaps happen.
Mine happens to have been about a year and a half since my last episode was published.
Longer than that, actually.
Sorry if if you’re listening to any background noise on this, there’s my car running with the garage door open ’cause I’m watching the kids and they are still asleep.
Uhm, but yeah, maybe you heard some.
Hear some birds, but yeah, more episodes will come.
And I have old audio old conversations with my cousin Sam.
And, uh, actually one with my sister Julianne and I have the audio and I started editing one last week.
I have a newer computer than I did a year and a half ago and this one is a lot faster, so I won’t be sitting here waiting for the.
For the computer to catch up.
OK now if you actually read the webnovel on Thorn dot link Slash Grant Hill, you might be wondering, are there any more chapters to the Chronicles of Grant Hill the the Grant Hill?
So question #3, if you follow the story, if you read the WEBNOVEL on Thorn dot link slash Grand Hill, you probably don’t have a habit of it ’cause there hasn’t been anything new in awhile, so you might be wondering, are there any new chapters to the.
Grand Hill chronicles.
In my mind, yes.
Uh, written out no.
So it’ll get there and question four.
What other projects do I have?
Too many projects to handle, but they’re they’re all in the nascent stage, just very barely beginning.
I have several stories.
I don’t know if they’re going to turn out to be short stories or if they’re going to turn out.
To be novels or novellas?
Time will tell when I get a chance to write them, and as far as other projects. I mean up here. This is this is 3D printing garbage.
Uhm, this is.
Filament from from failed prints. Or maybe it’s just the the support and whatnot from from other prints, and I’m I’m bringing up my 3D printing habit or hobby.
Uhm, for a reason, one second.
So I I printed this.
It’s a chess board.
It’s not done yet.
Because it needs it needs the.
Wire to hold the.
Two halves together.
I mean you can’t see it.
This chess board needs a wire to hold the two halves together at the hinge.
But but yeah, I printed all this on my 3D printer and I have 3D.
Printed chess pieces.
As well, I have yet to paint half of those.
Uhm, just like I’ve I’ve painted half of the squares I need to paint half of the chess pieces.
But yeah, I mean I.
I printed out a little and unfortunately I left it on my desk at work.
But I printed out a little I I don’t want to call it a little relief print of the like, a relief sculpture sculpture of the Fallon rose.
If you go to Thorne dot link slash Grand Hill you see the the Fallon rose drawing up in the upper left corner.
So I mean that was just kind of a a test.
Print for my, for my own information.
And while my drawing and 3D model are somewhat limited and not the best, the print itself turned out well.
So I you know I dream one day maybe I can be printing little models related to my stories, so that’s a somewhat.
Related project it’s not another fiction project, but I I have some other fiction.
Projects so uhm, I am conceiving some stories within the Grand Hill universe.
Uh, there’s this one place I want to call stain or the stain.
Where the name might be counter intuitive at first, but the explanation will come in that story when it’s told whether the stain is actually a beautiful place.
It’s basically a river that is miles and miles wide and not very deep and.
There’s a nation state or whatever living in this river, and so they they build on on rocks in.
The river or.
Uhm yeah, and their agriculture is is basically with with fruit trees or I don’t know.
I’ll think of things.
Uhm, with out on at least one side.
Of the river.
Huge, immense cliffs over there, there’s another.
One where there are giant trees.
I know that’s been done before, but I like giant trees.
They’re really cool and so I have villages living up in the tops of these enormous trees.
And so the next village over is that tree over there and.
And yeah, so I’ll.
I’ll tell those stories at some point, and I have another another story that I started based in essentially our world.
It’s it’s going to be.
I don’t want to give away too much, but.
Essentially a middle school.
I don’t know if this qualifies as urban fantasy, but middle school teenage superhero story.
Uhm, it’s not just.
It’s not just like superhero out of science writer, but you’ll see an and my my concept there.
I’m calling it in my in my head at least wardrobe and what was his friend name.
I don’t remember, but I wrote it down so it’ll be good.
All right so.
Question five, I think what can we expect for the future?
I am splitting this up into writing into podcast.
I guess I already gave away a little bit of this, so for for my writing.
I do intend to write in multiple genres and Oh my goodness I need to give some background for what I’ve been doing, ’cause I mean, that’s question one.
Where have you been so question 5 slash question one again I I have been doing a lot of lurking.
On a Facebook group called 20 Books for 50K and the notion there is that, yeah, you can go and be an indie author or an independent author self published.
Author, you can go and do that and it is possible to make a living, but you’re not going to do it on off of 1 book, which is why while I have Grant Hill and I fully intend to tell this story and to and to tell it well, I’m going to take my time before calling it done.
And and printing it on paper.
So while I do have my my Grant Hill intellectual.
Property I have, I’ve realized that I need to have other ideas and I need to have.
Uhm, more frequent products than I could possibly achieve with Grant Hill, and so I am.
I’m intending for my wardrobe urban fantasy superhero.
A franchise to be a.
What’s the word to be a series?
And each series, like it’s it’s it’s mid grade fiction.
Uhm, so each. Each book is probably going to be in the easy range somewhere between fifty 60,000 words I’m guessing.
But again, I’ve never actually finished writing a book, so maybe it will be shorter.
Maybe it will be longer.
I do picture it being about that.
That size range?
Uhm, now as far as like branching out, I mentioned that I want to.
To write in multiple genres. So lurking in this in this group, 20 bucks to 50K to explain the name if it’s not.
To explain the name, if it’s not already obvious, the notion is that you can make 50K a year a notionally livable income these days.
That might be more difficult.
You can make a livable income by publishing.
You know you publish 20 books.
Or more, you’re not going to make it off of 1 book.
You’re not going to make it off of two or five.
Books most likely, of course, by the time JK Rowling hit five books, she had big success, but I’ve learned a lot of things from from this group so they they talk about not only.
Uhm, not only like you have to keep producing.
Obviously you need to keep producing good work.
You can’t throw out trash and expect readers to come back again.
But you can you keep you keep producing and you need to advertise somehow.
People talk about that.
People talk about advertising, they talk about.
On Facebook ads, Amazon ads and they they talk about their success. And yeah, actually. So 20 books to 50K. Does a conference and I have signed up for the 20 books veigas in November of this year.
So yeah, if you come come, and hopefully I’ll have something printed on paper that I can sign for you.
But yeah, I’m going to go and rub shoulders with people and learn their tricks and hopefully speed things up.
So what can we expect for the future?
Uhm, like I said I I have a day job and it keeps me pretty busy.
Also my three kids keep me pretty busy.
The reason I was able to publish the podcasts in the 1st place year before last in.
2020 it wasn’t just because of the pandemic that happened to coincide, but my my day job had sent me to some training that was months long and my family was not with me. So I I had time on my hands in the evening. Like a lot of people.
Do, whereas a lot of family people don’t come.
So I had a little bit more time on my hands than I.
Usually do and I use it too.
Cut some episodes for the Grand Hill Chronicles podcast.
I made some headway on writing the story during that time as well, and.
Uhm, so looking to the future.
I am planning a professional transition during this year.
So we’re planning a move.
We’re going to move house.
We’re going to move to an area where we previously lived and we are going to be looking for a different kind of job, which I hope will afford me more time to think and more.
Time to produce so, and I mean produce my novels.
Or maybe I’ll maybe I’ll branch into other formats.
I would love to take my mid grade fiction.
Uhm, like wardrobe, I need to remember what his friends name is going to be.
Obviously not real names ’cause they’re in middle school.
But yeah, I would love to hire an artist and turn that.
Into a graphic novel.
Uhm, I once I have some success with any stories, I would like to hire a translator and produce these works in different languages.
Uh, I do speak Spanish myself, but I’m smart enough to know that I’m I’m not a native speaker and I would be looking for a professional translator.
Somebody and people talk about this in 20 books to 50K where you want to find somebody who makes a living translating. Ideally translating that genre, not just that language.
So then there’s audio books to you.
Can you can hire people to perform audio books to produce audio books?
You can either hire.
I remember what they call them, but basically, uh, a voice actor or or a narrator.
You can hire A narrator directly, or there are services that exist and you pay the service and they take care of all of it.
So you you give them a manuscript, you pay them a fee, and I guess a few weeks.
Maybe, but you give them sufficient time.
Maybe it’s a few months and they say, here’s your audiobook.
You put it on audible or or whatever other platforms.
What else so?
So that brings up as far as doing an audiobook.
I mean, that’s that’s hand in hand with the no, it’s not.
That raises the question of of the future of the podcast though, so I do have some episodes.
Of the Grand Hill chronicles, and I I would like to make sure it is all done well, so I might start over, but I don’t think I should start over yet because I need a good text.
Not saying that what I have is bad, but I know it.
It’s not ironed yet.
I need to iron it out.
I need to work out the bug.
Beta readers proofreaders.
And all that, the web novel format online is is draft A is a draft form.
That that reminds me of something I something else I learned from the Facebook group.
I don’t remember what it’s called.
Some of you probably know what it’s called.
You’re probably familiar with it, but there is a group.
There is a website that exists and is well known.
For for serialized fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi.
I have a.
Tab open on my computer so you know what I’ll look right.
So it’s called Royal Rd.
So the problem with Thorn dot link, while it is a uh like it’s my website, you know I can put whatever I want there.
I’m I’m I’m paying for hosting out of my own pocket and I could.
I could take it out completely if I wanted to.
I can start just putting pictures of cats up there if I wanted to.
I could open up a a wiki and we could argue about.
Whether Taco is a sandwich?
So Southorn downlink is mine, I have control and I like that that’s good.
But the problem is that it’s not well known.
Basically, the people who know about it are the people who I have told about it.
It’s it’s not recognized, so Royal Rd is an existing well known platform for people to post serialized fiction.
And I I do intend to.
Start sharing the Grand Hill chronicles on that platform.
And and hopefully that will let other people know about the story and.
Yeah, so with Speaking of Thorn dot link I that brings me back to something else I have learned from 20 bucks to 50K.
Is that if I’m branching out into other genres?
There’s a problem with that if if you, as a writer, write a fantasy and a romance, and.
A non fiction whatever.
If you as a writer publish in the rainbow of genres and somebody reads your sci-fi and likes it and they go looking for more of your work and they find romance and they’re not in romance, they’re in a sci-fi or fantasy.
And so that the name of the author is brand recognition, right?
Or creates brand recognition.
So if I’m publishing in multiple genres, I need multiple names to publish under and I don’t want to restrict myself to one genre or even two.
And there are other authors out there who publish under multiple pseudonyms.
They publish fantasy, they publish.
Romance or whatever, and they do each genre under a different synonym, and it’s not ’cause they’re trying to be sneaky.
It’s because they’re trying to give readers what they expect.
Uhm, so keeping that in mind, I still want kind of my own identity to be in common I I want.
I want some way for somebody who liked who likes the the story about the the Middle middle school superhero to maybe find my other works fantasy or sci-fi or whatever, and so that makes me think of a publishing house.
Uhm, not necessarily an office you know would be nice to have an office.
It would be nice to have an office out of the house it is.
Nice to have.
An office in the house, but my concern with an office in the House is ’cause as I said, I’m going.
I’m I’m expecting a professional transition.
Uhm, later this year and I do hope to have more time to work on my creative endeavors.
And while I do that, I hope that my children respect my Home Office that I have in the basement.
So anyway, a publishing house and I’m not saying necessarily an office that I go to to work, it’s it’s down the street and turn the corner.
And what on whatever Rd.
But again a A brand identity and I have chosen a name for this publishing house.
I don’t want to share it yet because.
I’m not fully commit, I’m pretty committed, but I’ll wait.
And let it be a surprise.
But yeah, a publishing house, a name that I can put Blankety blank publishing on the back of my on the back.
Of my books or.
On the the ISBN data.
Uhm page inside and say if you enjoyed this try our tryworks from our other authors and I name my other pseudonyms but not not just me.
I mean my daughter loves the idea of writing herself as well.
Like she is writing her own.
I’m talking about the adventures of of her and her friend, and I think that’s awesome.
I think that’s wonderful and she has.
Really fun ideas.
So I am absolutely open to publishing her works later.
So yeah, I mean it’s not just going to be me only, and if this ever became my profession and if.
I got some some renown and people knew my name.
The publishing house wouldn’t be closed like I would be open to taking on other authors or even expanding into music or whatever.
Uhm, I dream a little big.
That’s probably too big for myself, but we’ll see.
I mean no harm in dreaming.
Yeah, so I’ve talked about.
Maybe publishing house maybe if you multiple genres, formats, podcasts, OK?
So the podcast, UM, I fully intend to continue the Grand Hill Chronicles podcast.
I fully intend to have that include both narrating the story and telling the making of, UM, so the Grand Chronicles podcast won’t go away.
It may, it may be modified somewhat where I might even rename it.
I think I want to keep the name the Granted Chronicle podcast, ’cause that’s where I started.
That’s my my home base.
So I fully intend to continue the Grand Hill Chronic Podcast.
It will continue.
It will tell the story of Grand Hill and it will give the making of UM, I hope to make it better now in my in my dreamland where I am able to turn.
My turn this work into my profession I dream of of.
I dream of and I’ve talked with a couple of my friends that once we are free from our current day jobs, maybe we’ll have time to collaborate on this and do the Grand Hill Chronicles making the voices and making sound effects.
Uhm, making the background music.
I have done some of that.
Heard it before.
But yeah, I mean.
We’ll see where it goes, see where.
It goes with other stories.
I don’t know if other stories will turn into a podcast, uh, we’ll see.
I mean, there’s there’s the dad bod pod from Dale Spaulding where he has read aloud multiple different stories.
He’s read a few short stories and at at least one longform, I’ve been a little out of.
Sync with with his podcast.
For a while.
I intend to get back into it and catch up with him, but yeah, the dad bod pod the dad bod odd podcast.
Covers multiple stories and I think that’s a great idea that I’m totally gonna steal maybe.
Uhm, I’ve also you know, because I talk about these things at home sometimes.
Not infrequently, we’ve had ideas we’ve had notions and a couple of months ago.
We were on a long drive to and from a weekend stay.
And we had this idea.
This idea for a.
A children podcast that we thought would is I still think is a really great idea.
I don’t want to talk about it ’cause somebody could steal the idea, but I have the name of it on the screen in front of me.
But yeah, we we could do other podcasts, but it’s a big drain on your time as I mean.
Point taken from from Sean Parent Clarinet podcast and he didn’t publish for four months, right?
So it’s a drain on the time and I am I’m still learning how to make it go faster, like how to use audacity and so I’m looking at my audacity recording my conversation right now, or my monologue, but learning how to.
I recently learned how to make audacity.
Remove dead time automatically so I don’t have to go through every multi second pause and use the mouse to highlight the the area and then delete that selected area manually.
Yeah, so you I I used to think that you could only do that with Pro Tools or whatever other professional audio editing software, but you can do it with audacity and I also learned how to do something else with it that is important, but I don’t remember what it was at this moment I have.
Uhm, so last last iteration working on the podcast a year and a half ago.
I would record and then I’d go into audacity and I would see what I needed to do to make it sound good.
Well, this time before I jumped on the mic today and about two weeks ago, maybe three, but I I I got this microphone and I got my other microphone.
And I recorded multiple distances from the microphone I recorded.
Uhm, different recording levels.
And then I took it into audacity.
Actually I recorded it in audacity, but but then I I went to go edit it and see what I could do to make it sound good.
And I wrote that down.
So you record it like this.
In this case I am about.
3 inches away from my AKG perception 120 USB microphone and my record level in audacity is .7.
Five, and then when I go to edit it, I know.
What I need to do to to make it sound better in there?
Yeah, so I hope to.
Speed things up and hopefully by speeding things up.
I can make it possible to do other works, maybe.
Maybe podcasts based on the fiction or maybe a non fiction based podcast like we were thinking of for children of.
Of course, this podcast is always going to be child safe as far as language.
I suppose it’s possible we might discuss some.
Means that might be scary or.
Uh, so I’m I’m building my techniques, my my standard techniques that I can use to to streamline the process and make it faster and make the whole process more effective so I don’t have to think about how to edit the software, how to edit the audio, I just go and do it, and instead I can think about whether this.
Should go do that or go do that instead or whatever, and I think that’s a pretty good update right now.
I’m sorry that I don’t have more plot to deliver at this time for the Grand Hill Chronicles, it will come.
I have done further worldbuilding in my mind.
I’ve made a few notes.
Here and there, but I think before I push harder on Grendhill, I’m going to push hard on ya Vault or our bot and I’m going to.
I didn’t tell you about that one, but you’ll see.
Yeah, so there’s there’s our bot and there’s a.
Wardrobe that might not be the name in the end.
But I’m going.
To push harder on these works so I can produce something and have it out there for public consumption, so that hopefully I can turn this into a profession and devote Greenhill the time that I.
Think it deserves.
I think it’s very likely that several stories within the Grand Hill universe will be published before the Grand Hill Chronicles proper is published, because that.
Doing these other stories within that universe will help me do the worldbuilding, and when it comes time to finish the Grendhill Chronicles or to to carry it out, rather it’ll be simple work.
My daughter is waking up maybe all right well until next time.
Thank you for listening to the Grendhill Chronicles podcast.
Make sure you subscribe.
Tell a friend and I’ll see.
You next time?
Story – Chapter 1-Tradition-Part 1
We meet our young royals, now about to come of age to go retrieve their weapons from another world.
Chat – Powers Explored
In this world building discussion episode, Don and Sam explore what special abilities Aton might have.
Story – Prologue Part 3
We meet Uillia and Solmi hides the Royal Arms, and we meet Zulfanael, Myndael, and King Augfi for the first time.
Read this story segment here and here, or access it wherever you get your podcasts.
Protected: Secrets of the Sage – become a Chronicler at https://patreon.com/GrendhillChron to gain access.
Podcast – Prologue Part 2
Read this story segment here and here, or watch it on YouTube or Facebook, or access it wherever you get your podcasts.
Reedl and Solmi ensure that the newborn royals’ weapons are carried to Harrval.
In this episode’s discussion segment, Don Bishop and Sam Bishop discuss issues in this story segment, from grammar to plot holes. Furthermore, they discuss a few details of government organization in Grendhill and Esclace.
Podcast – Prologue Part 1
Read this story segment here and here, or listen to it on YouTube or Facebook, or access it wherever you get your podcasts.
Our story begins. This episode presents background information on the country Grendhill and introduces us to the main protagonists and the reality that they are born with weapons.
In this episode’s discussion segment, Don Bishop and Sam Bishop discuss naming the Grendhill entity’s social media presence. It was a productive conversation, and we are now known as The Grendhill Chronicles, often shortened to @GrendhillChron.
Aftermath and Aimlessness
Aton shuttered his balcony door and lay on his bed, exhausted. He had discussed plans and contingencies with his siblings for an hour or two, after which Misolfa had accompanied him and Reedl back to Grendhill. Domire had been the most interested in returning, but Reedl had suggested the notion that discretion was worth the effort, and the sight of two Farella boys might be more noticeable than a boy and a girl.
Aton and Misolfa had met with the royal council for hours after that, hashing out the details of the strategy to be employed and sending messengers to make arrangements. Nobody had any clue whatsoever who may have abducted the King and Queen, nor how to begin any concentrated search, with no information beyond the speed of their attack and what little Aton himself had glimpsed of their uniforms. Nevertheless, they had to start somewhere.
Thus, emissaries had been dispatched to all nations within two weeks’ travel of any platform of the Thallenroads, on any world. Most emissaries would have to visit multiple nations, as Grendhill did not maintain sufficient diplomats on staff to visit all known lands at once. The Guard selected a few of their best and brightest to go incognito among nations with suspected less-than-transparent tendencies, in an attempt to glean information that may not be offered freely.
The council, with Aton’s and Misolfa’s blessing, published only vague promises of rewards to individuals or favorable trade agreements to nations, for information leading to safe recovery of the sovereigns. The council officially awaited their safe return and accepted the guidance of the Farella youths in their stead. Meanwhile, all of Grendhill had nothing else to do for their King and Queen, but to wait. Reedl escorted Misolfa back to Harrval to continue awaiting her turn in the cave, and the other siblings would be apprised of any update immediately.
Meanwhile, they would continue their planned training in isolation with no change. Hopefully the King and Queen would be found very soon, but barring further developments, Valkyr would not be interrupted. She would learn of the abduction when she completed the two weeks alone with her bow.
Aton, awoken in the middle of the night, facing an unnaturally early dawn by travel to Harrval and then an inhumanely long morning by returning to Tasala, had finally collapsed into bed in an awkward position, one arm pinned beneath his torso and one calf bent underneath his other leg, extended. He didn’t care until his arm started falling asleep. He turned over to release his pinned arm and let his whole self succumb to his exhaustion.
Aton passed the next week in a haze. He did his customary time on the training fields and the library, but found himself listless during hours he would have passed observing his parents in court. He met once or twice with his parents’ council and mentally skimmed over the meetings, nothing really needing his full attention. The council was taking care of business in their rulers’ absence, and Aton gave the formality of approving their common-sense measures. It was mentioned, of course, that their messengers and emissaries had been sent, but there was no word back yet from any of them except that nobody knew anything.
Aton found himself spending some extra time in the library, reading old tomes on geography. There was so much to read. Dozens of worlds, hundreds and hundreds of countries and wildernesses were described. He dabbled in the history of some of the more interesting-sounding countries. Unsure of exactly what he was looking for, he hoped to find some clue for his parents’ disappearance. Maybe he would get extremely lucky and find an illustration matching the uniforms the kidnappers wore, identifying the nation they belonged to. Or maybe, just maybe, the abductors would kindly bring his parents back, safe and sound, and apologize. It seemed just as likely.
It seemed most of these old history books contained some mention of the mythical Diaspora, when humanity spread from a single fabled mother world across the Thallenroads to all the worlds they now inhabited. Everybody knew it was hocus—the Thallenroads had obviously been there for as long as the worlds had, since the platforms were indestructible. They could be obstructed. If you wanted to isolate your world, you built a wall around your platform. People could still come and go, but they could never step off the platform. They could be obstructed, but they could not be destroyed. There were histories of people who had tried. All failed, and none even left a scratch.
No, the Thallenroad platforms had always been there, created with the worlds. If humanity had spread from a single world, it would have happened over the passage of time immemorial, not as some event that one could read about in history books. They myths of the Diaspora were obviously hocus, yet they still existed. Reedl had once said something about people’s innate desire to explain the status quo, and to connect themselves to something greater. The Diaspora myths filled that need, tying all the worlds and all the countries in them to one fabled mother world, Arryth.
Arryth was a concept that connected all the worlds. The standard Year belonged to Arryth. Each world had its Turn to measure the seasons and the lives of people, but all Turns were of different lengths, each belonging to its world. The Year was a standard measure. If you came from a world with short Turns and needed to understand the age of someone from a world with long Turns, you converted to Years. There were other pieces to the myth. One moon as the standard, and supposedly Arryth is where many animal and plant species originated. Each world had some unique flora and fauna, and also shared some with all the other worlds.
But where was Arryth now? It was not one of the worlds found in human knowledge. Fifty-six worlds, that is all there ever was. There was no discovery of new worlds. Some people had different names for the same worlds, as Aton was reminded while reading these histories. But it was always clearly due to linguistic differences, not any confusion about the number of worlds. Arryth had been known as Arlit, Erithi, Arth, Eyart, as well as Tellan, Tern (which could be confusing when discussing the passage of large amounts of time), Telra, and so on. Ultimately, Arryth was nowhere.
And so, training and reading, the week passed slowly. Then late one night, Captain Bailen came to find Aton where he was reading in the library, curled sideways on a large armchair.
“Prince Aton, I’ve been looking for you. Normally you would be in your chambers at this hour.”
“Yes, but I can’t sleep well, since last week…”
“Yes, my lord. About that. There’s been a new development. Umm…”
Aton closed the book and sat up straight. “Yes?”
“Well, an arrow was just shot at the front gate to the palace grounds. We couldn’t tell exactly where it had flown from, but I believe that pursuit would be fruitless. Whoever loosed it is long gone.”
“An arrow at the front gate?”
“Yes, prince. There was a message attached to it. A ransom note.”
Break the News
Aton looked at his brothers and sister, who stared back at him expectantly. Aton took a deep breath, then let it out through his nose.
“Did you have something to tell us?” Tido asked.
“Yes,” Aton said, but then stopped. Looking down to his side, with his left hand he wordlessly took hold of the single scabbard that hung there, grabbed the protruding hilt with his right hand, and drew the sword named Justice for all to see.
Domire and Misolfa inhaled sharply at the sight of the weapon. Tido made a clicking sound inside his cheek. “I see. Why are you carrying Father’s sword?” Aton responded with silence.
Domire spoke next. “I think a better question is, why isn’t Father carrying his sword right now? He never parts with it, as I don’t think I will, either, once I have mine in my possession.” His next question came out uncomfortably into the silence of the room. “Aton, where is our father?”
Again, Aton noted how the three of them stared at him expectantly. He took another deep breath, then finally spoke again. “Nobody knows. Mother and Father have both been abducted by an unknown party.”
Misolfa looked at him, wide-eyed. “What? When?”
“Not an hour ago,” Aton replied. Having arrived inevitably at the point of disclosure, he started speaking more quickly to get it all out. “I awoke in bed—something was odd. I arose to investigate and went to find Reedl to ask if anything seemed amiss to him. When I got to his home, I heard a shout of alarm from the palace. I ran back and when I got there, Mother and Father were gone. Father had left his sword on its rack next to their bed. I looked down from the balcony and saw scuff marks on the wall below. I ran back to Thallenrose Square and saw some people vanish from the Thallenrose. They’re gone.”
Aton finished and waited for his siblings’ reaction. They seemed to want more from him. He continued.
“Reedl tried to follow, using what I thought I heard their Sageman say. No effect. I evidently misheard them, but it was definitely no world we are familiar with. They were wearing a uniform that I have never seen before. It is nothing we know, not simply nothing we have seen personally. I learn all I can about diplomatic relations, and no nation that Grendhill is acquainted with uses these uniforms. Our Royal Guard did their job as best as could be hoped. There was posted, as usual, a double sentry outside our parents’ chambers, and they investigated when they heard a scuffle inside. The attackers departed too quickly, and the sentry found nobody inside. They were already gone. Reedl had a page awoken, and our parents’ council is being gathered right now. We came here to inform you and discuss. Also, we need to decide on a framework for a plan of action.”
As Aton finished, Reedl stepped forward to address the unasked questions in the incredulous eyes of the others. “It is true. Your parents’ disappearance is unexpected, of course. With Grendhill’s security and your own father’s constant readiness to face any foe, nobody could have imagined such an abduction possible, let alone so quickly accomplished. Nevertheless, it has occurred. I am here to guide you, though as you are of age, each of you on the cusp of Retrieval of your own Arms, I will try to act as a guide and resource only. Your parents’ Council is gathering, and you will need a plan before you meet with them if you expect to be heard properly, Council’s loyalty or no.”
Tido spoke. “How can this happen? How can they just break in and vanish? What are we supposed to do about it?”
Misolfa answered with anger in her voice and a scowl on her face. “We can’t let them get away with this! There is nowhere they can hide from us! We will hunt them down!”
Domire followed. “The cowards will—they’ll—”
Reedl cut in. “Young princes, princess, remember who you are. I do. I still remember the Impression I felt of each of you when you were born. True, an Impression is but a glimpse of the personality you are likely to grow into, but I expect you to fulfil every expectation. True, you are not yet your full selves, but you soon will be. You will feel and know yourselves as you are and as you ought to be.”
Reedl turned to each of Aton’s three present siblings. “Tido, look within yourself and find your confidence. It is in there, and if you do as you know you must, it will manifest itself for all to see. Misolfa, you have a kind heart. It is likely your kind heart towards your parents that generates this anger towards your enemies. Let your heart drive you, but do not swing as a pendulum. Domire, take a moment and find the answers within yourself. Your behavior will be above reproach and your wisdom will be uncontested. Do not allow this morning’s events to cloud your thoughts.”
Reedl turned to Aton. “You know I felt no Impression from you, and obviously you have no Arm to train with. Yet I have observed you for the past fifteen Turns. Your focus is unparalleled when you set your mind to a task. Your pragmatism has helped you overcome every obstacle you have found in your path. The current challenge is a new one, and daunting, but you know how to come ahead. Do as you have done for every other challenge before. Analyze it, find a way around it, and follow through. Let your inner light guide you.”
Finally, Reedl addressed the group. “Now, my young lords and lady, your parents have been carried away by some unknown enemy. How can I help you plan your path ahead of you?”
Reedl and Aton blinked against the sudden morning light as they landed on the Fassendais. Harrval’s pale sky greeted them out of the night that still prevailed in Grendhill. The pair made their way to Kascho’s home in silence, a heaviness hanging over them as they walked. Aton was armed, as was his custom, but today he did not carry his twin dao as he normally did. He felt the weight of the weapon he carried pulling him down, but at the same time the knowledge of its presence pushed him almost to take off running.
They presently arrived at the house and Reedl knocked curtly. Uillia smiled at them as she opened the door. “Come in, of course come in. Kascho’s out right now, but I suppose Aton is visiting his brothers and sisters? Well, brothers and sister, of course, the other sister being indisposed at the moment. Or at the week.” She let out a quick laugh. “Come on in, I expect they’re out back running through their forms like they do in the mornings. Should be done soon. Can I get you anything?” She let a quizzical expression slip through her friendly greetings, obviously curious about the Sageman’s presence attending Aton.
Reedl spoke. “Please gather the three of them. We need to speak with them as soon as possible. That is all right now, thank you.”
“Alright, one moment.” Their hostess disappeared towards the rear of the house.
A few moments later she returned, trailed by Domire, Misolfa, and Tido. The three were catching their breath and glistening with a thin layer of sweat.
Reedl addressed Uillia. “Madam, I apologize for our odd visit, and I apologize that we are not going to explain it at this time. Is there a room where the five of us can speak with greater privacy?”
Uillia nodded. “Yes, I will show you now.” She walked down the hall to lead them to a bedroom. “I understand you folks have important business all the time. It is no trouble. Besides, Kascho and I are paid so that we will accommodate such things, aren’t we? Now, is there anything I can get you to make you more comfortable?”
Aton, Domire, Misolfa, and Tido filed into the bedroom while Reedl stood in the doorway. Reedl paused a moment before answering the question. “Yes, please. Could I get some plain hot chocolate? And some for Aton, as well? It’s a very early morning for us.”
“Of course, as quickly as I can,” Uillia answered. She looked at Aton expectantly.
“Extra milk, please,” Aton answered the unvoiced question.
“Alright, I’ll be right back.” Uillia left and Reedl entered the room entirely, closing the door behind him.
“Aton, I will leave this to you—where would you like to begin?”