Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

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Blind Ed’s Tavern and Crematorium

When winter ceases stalking,

Takes you from the flank,

And your bloodied coat is in the bag at your side

With the body, I know a joint on the edge of town

Where the hearth always glows.

 

Drop your bag in the back with the rest,

Then slip through the blizzard’s claws at the door.

Pick a stool—Ed will know what you need.

Take a glass to thaw your throat

While the drifting embers lick snow from your shoulders.

 

When your color returns and your breathing eases,

tavernEd shakes your hand, pressing a warm key in your palm.

Upstairs, slip off your shoes, sink into the bed,

Let the rumbling roar of the furnace roll you

Deep into a dream of summer.

 

Ed can’t help with ghosts—

He deals in miracles, not magic—

But thank him on your way out,

And tip well.  Blind Ed knows

He’ll see you again soon enough.

Cabin Boy

Each ounce of daylight he’d earned

He spent in the throes of a mad ship

Named Delilah.  Her crooked masts hung

Inches above the rumbling sea,

Her sheets slave only to the gale.

 

A cannonball hole to starboard

Ushered storm-spray into his quarters.

ship
“Her crooked masts hung inches above the rumbling sea.”

His hammock swayed between the drops

Plucking his creased forehead like a mandolin.

Neither storm nor Hell on deck could wake him.

 

Within his fragile, rounded skull

He lay nestled in the grass by a waterfall—

Its earthly place swallowed by the labyrinth of memory.

A blanket of mist rolled over him on the breeze

As the soft crashing rocked his head

 

Side to side, starboard to port,

Beneath the crackling thunder of boots.

Delilah listed toward the smothered sunset—

Pitching him through the wound in the hull,

Still cradled in the arms of the riverbank.

Time: The Sleepless God

Resigned to the embrace of an oak or an elm

Nestled on a knoll as the knell from the church

Hummed its farewell for a stranger,

I settled with a stack of worn letters

And read them by the starlight.

 

When the bell clamped its jaw,

Time—the sleepless god with bloodshot eyes—

Heaved me to my feet, spun me around,

Nudged me down an overgrown path

Headed east through a forest of firs.

 

The sun crawled up behind a rotten stable

Filled with cracked horse bones.

I touched their splintered ribs,

Whispered their names,

Damned them again for dying.

stables
“The sun crawled up behind a rotten stable.”

Stomping a pelvis to powder,

I headed west, though the path was gone.

I charged into the troop of trees,

Fell over a root wrapped around a headstone

Scarred with the name of a freckled farm girl.

 

Three more tombs with names like wide-eyed cattle

Bruised my eye, broke my teeth, and stole my shoes.

I pushed through the steel needles, back to the hill,

As the sun set behind the town,

Outshone by the strobing casino.

 

The letters, scattered once more,

Will find me as they do.

I step over an empty grave under the elm or the oak,

Throw open the casino gates hoping to turn a profit—

Or at least break even.

Sensing the End

The night was always the loneliest time for Tredan. He remembered years ago a time when he never felt this way. Was it a decade? Two? After so long, keeping track had lost its importance, and wandering the world had become Tredan’s only occupation.

His new life had begun at the end of the war, when the Havat empire invasion had put Tredan’s homelands under their control. The war had lasted less than a year and the soldiers Tredan had fought alongside had either been killed or enslaved. All of them except Tredan, for he had seen the defeat coming and at the last charge abandoned his post.

Fleeing to the woods he looked back to see fires breaking out atop the castle walls. Tredan ran until the screams of his people were finally silenced, then until the guilt was finally outweighted by exhaustion. After days of running, he was lost deep in the forest of Balisk. He searched aimlessly for a road, or even a hunting trail. It had been a month–at least it felt like a month–before Tredan found other people.

He took refuge with the village’s blacksmith for a time until he had earned enough to travel on. He left that place in the dead of night; too many knew of his old platoon, the Black Wolves, and their many exploits in the ever declining defense of their country. They had tried–by the gods, they had tried–year after year to stem the invasion.

Failure still gripped Tredan no matter how much he drank and no matter how far he ran. And now, years later in the midst of unfamiliar forests, he gripped himself tight by the fire. He was shaking from the strain as the faces of his comrades raged at him from the flames.

He was still wandering the next day aimlessly walking a trail to an unknown destination. It had been so long since he had seen a village. He had no food, no water, and only his old sword at his belt. His thoughts of nourishment fled as he left the forest’s edge, looking out at the old ruins of a castle, its remains scorched and overgrown with vegetation.

This was his home. The place he had fought so hard to defend and run for so long to forget. Walking the grounds again depleted him of emotion. This place had not even been worth rebuilding. He attempted to fill the ruined halls the memories he still had. Tredan fell to all fours weeping at his cowardice, until the growls of an animal pulled him back. The largest wolf he had ever seen looked down at him with from a roof top. Eyes as yellow as the harvest moon, and mid-night black fur bristling at Tredan’s intrusion. The falling sun masked the beast’s movement as Tredan drew his blade for the last time.

Child of Star Light Part 2: Section B

Aleine was running harder than she had ever thought possible, sucking in the warm air and exhaling with a hiss as she bolted across the open water. The water walk technique which was so embedded in her body over the past decade was taxing to her magic. She spun around on one of her steps and balanced as she froze more of the area. Feeling the heat rise up her scaled skirt and over her bare legs, the flush of warmth soothed the ache in her muscles.

She scanned the dense foliage for any sign of movement, keeping her eyes moving while she pulled her bow from her shoulders. She felt the worn grip of her recurve bow with a light metal spine in the wood. It was almost older than she was, but strong enough to handle the magically aided draw that she put on it.

Nocking an arrow, she caught the scent of burned flesh tinging the air and a moment later her prey burst forth from the tree line. Aleine had lured the Toridea towards the village so they wouldn’t have to carry it far. Now was her shot–the beast had taken a few arrows already, it was angry, and its acidic saliva ran like a river all its own. The great reptile outweighed three grown men and was able to glide through water silently when it wasn’t enraged.

This one was, however; its gills flared and eyes widened as it stared down towards Aleine. She drew her arrow back, the comforting sound of the strain filling her ear over the thrashing of the charging beast. In the span of a heartbeat, as the Toridea’s front feet reached the height of its step, she released the arrow.

The long thin head whistled as it sped through the space between prey and hunter. After years under the best marksman in the village, Aleine’s aim was nearly as good. In a spray of blood and saliva the beast fell into a forward roll from its interrupted momentum. With a second arrow loosed into the under belly the beast was fished, its few remaining breaths labored and wheezy.

“Good shot,” Hafwen called to her from the shore line, as a smirk cracked her stony face. She had raised and mentored Aleine for nearly two decades, all for the trials she would face tomorrow on her twentieth birthday.

The large wooden doors to the village opened and a group of men walked out nodding politely to Hafwen. As they approached Aleine, who was slushing through the river towards the shore, a few patted her shoulder and gave passing praise. Aleine looked over to Hafwen who was shaking her head and pointing to her kill. After all this time she hounded Aleine to keep up her basics, and now wanted her to retrieve her arrows.

As she lowered her head and turned to her task, one of the younger men was still beside her.

“Care for a lift?” his voice cracked a little making Aleine smile as she accepted. He hoisted her upon one shoulder and continued to the kill. The men in the Misten’s tribes where large mountains of honed muscle, their natural strength letting them maintain the villages. The men generally stayed at the village as defense and also building and repairing building, a task made much easier by their ability to work in chest-deep water.

With the day’s hunt done, Aleine returned through the gates of the Aquar Equian tribe’s Village, where the preparations for Aleine’s trials were already under way.

Sad Rock

Hunchback of Whogivesadamn

In a room flooded with paper

Covered in dots, dashes, and scrawlings,

Perched on a crate, bent over his telegraph.

 

“Lunch plans, dinner plans, sex,

Woke up too late for breakfast, sex,

Does your back hurt? Mine does.

I bet they put something in the water.”

 

So the reams read as they roll

‘Round and ’round the room,

The cobra closing on another kill.

Hunch doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

 

Just outside, the lane overgrown,

A crow lands on a wire, squawks unheard,

Looks down the street towards the edge of the world—

Only little houses and wires in a withering grassland.

 

He calls again, the air swallows the sound,

Like everywhere else on this sad rock.

Bristling, he snaps the wire; it sparks,

Writhes in false agony, drops to the ground—

 

And so does Hunch, like fresh lumber,

A brief thud as he strikes the floor.

He whimpers as he dies alone,

Never thinking to walk next door.

Marketing Self-Published Work

If you have ever taken the first step into the abyss we call publication, you may have realized that turning your manuscript into a bestselling book is not an easy process. Turn a blind eye to the hundreds of quick method peddlers that title themselves as “publish in a week”, or “write the novel in a year”. The roads to publishing seems daunting but the truth is, publishing is not your monster—marketing is your foe.

To begin you must consider your audience above all else, for they are who will ultimately get you from “barely known” to “bestseller.” Finding an audience is about ten percent what your genre is and ninety percent getting attention. People need to see you more than your book; they know you’re an author, now they need to know why they should care.

Walk into just about any coffee shop today and you’ll meet a handful of supposed “writers.” This has become commonplace. You, however, must show why you are different than the rest; as an author, and as a person. How did you get into writing? This is the most common question you’ll get, and you should have a quick answer. What is your book about? For a number of reasons, this is a hard question for many authors. A big one is that we are too close to the story or world we have built, and often can’t give a short summary of it for people we meet. To build an audience willing to support and buy your works you need to, though.

So when do you start this obstacle course of grunt work to pull in the masses, or advertising? It depends on you and how you want to sell. If you are only selling hard copies, then start when you’re almost finished with the manuscript. As you end the book begin printing and set up distribution—take you social media apps with you. Give people pictures, share your excitement if they see you that way, more will be curious. It also tells them this isn’t all talk. You have the backing to your name now, and with that turn yourself into your brand. When people talk to you or see your web pages they should see a commonality.

As an author, we are allotted very little personal space. Once you have your brand established, you have to keep it up. Gain followers—even traditional publishers won’t look at authors no one knows about—though once you have an audience, why would you need anyone else?

Steel River

A glittering scar tears apart a meadow;

On either side, trees black with death

Haul the burden of the steel-wool sky.

A mile deep and fifty long, a river rolls:

 

River of riches, stream of steel,

Dazzling the eyes which crave it!

They plunge their toes into the earth

Where then—now roots—they drink.

 

New blood surges through them,

Sending their limbs skyward.

Their hands contort into spidery frames

As their backs collapse beneath the sky.

 

Eyes and teeth drop into the river,

Fingernails split, sprouting branches,

The gaping holes are plugged with knots

Of rotting, fetid oak.

 

A glittering scar shreds the heart of a meadow;

On either side, anguished trees

Haul the burden of the gunmetal sky.

A mile deep and sixty long, a river rolls.

Where You’re Going, You Won’t Need Sunglasses

What if you got into your car,

Turned off the stereo,

And just kept driving—

Like the spark in your skull

That crawled into its neuron Studebaker years ago,

Hit the on-ramp, and never looked back?

 

The smooth, broad hiss of asphalt

Carries you over the road

As the sun rises in the rear-view,

Sets over the dash.

On an empty highway,

Buildings blossom ahead and vanish behind.

 

A playground bathed in pastel paints

Where a girl with a voice tries to teach a boy to sing.

A high school with a fault line in its wall

Where hollow kisses ride full lips.

A parking lot where the head—

Not the hand—finds love.

 

A cobbled walk melting

Under the Georgia sun and street jazz,

Where trembling fingers reach for a switch

To cut off glittering hazel eyes

Deserving, not wanting, an answer.

The switch takes out the lights.

 

The sun disappears,

The moon quits,

The stars leave without a proper goodbye

Or even a strained “Talk to you later.”

The horizon hides far beyond

The stunted reach of your headlights.

 

You count the stripes in the road,

Hear the dull roar of the asphalt again,

And barely see the edge of the grass

On either side of the road.

There might be buildings and people.

There might not be.

 

A corrugated shed ends the road.

Your brakes don’t squeal—

They only sigh when your head strikes the steering wheel.

The engine stutters through its last drop of gas,

The battery slips out with a whimper.

The slam of the door stops at your ears.

 

The empty air stands close,

Follows you inside.

Rusted bits sting your hands

And blood creeps down your wrists

As your aching fingers fret and fumble

For a light switch.

Child of Star Light: part 2: section A

Hafwen paced on the deck in the mid-day sun absently playing with the braid in her hair. She had been hunting in the forest when the messenger from Celestaon had summoned her. She had never actually spoken to the eldest of the village; few did, but fewer still were summoned personally.

Now anxiety was setting in after spending all morning waiting for the elder on her porch. Hafwen had trained to function without sleep, but four days was pushing it. She watched all the people breaking for a meal and heading towards the communal house. The smell of seasoned meat had been filling the air and taunting her for the past couple of hours.

A couple of builders passed close to the deck and glanced up at Hafwen with broad smiles and flexing arms.  She smiled back as best her weary mind would allow. They continued on, leaving Hafwen to fall on the railing of the porch and repeatedly tapping it with her forehead in frustration.

“You will injure that pretty face child,” a gentle voice cooed to Hafwen, sending her into a surprised attack pose that she almost landed.

The full chested laugh of woman over a hundred years old was a wheezy, chirping sound. It was almost as embarrassing to Hafwen as the barely stable footing she found.

“Elder Celestaon!” Hafwen said hurriedly once her mind was at ease again.

“Come in child. I am sure you could use some rest.” The old woman waved a hand as she opened the door to her home.

The threshold of the Celestaon’s home was like a portal to some other world. The smells of a thousand herbs and the cool air that caressed her skin was in sharp contrast to the world outside. Misten was a marsh drenched nearly all year long, where everything your senses perceived came with an overtone of wet. The Elder sat in a chair covered with the furs of half a dozen beasts and stared at Hafwen.

“My child, I will come to the point.” The old woman’s eyes had a fierceness to them that stunned Hafwen. “I have asked your Constelari all about you in the days since you were sent hunting. They tell me you are solitary; that you spend your days training, and have honed yourself into one of our finest hunters. You are also a devote woman wise beyond your elders.”

“Thank you.” Hafwen’s words came out meek, as she thought, why was Celestaon praising her?

Celestaon wasn’t smiling though. “What I am about to ask you will be more difficult than any beast you’ve faced. You have been given a Starlen, starting today.”

Hafwen was speechless. Given a Starlen—the tribe’s term for young member. They were never given like this; she had thought to take on a Starlen in a few years—everyone did eventually, as it was a responsibility to the tribe. Taking in a child to raise them, watch them, and eventually welcome them into your own Constelari.

The soft footfalls of the Celestaon’s handmaiden pulled Hafwen from her thoughts of imposed responsibility. The small girl carried a squirming blanket over to Hafwen who reached for the child with trembling hands. Pulling the child up to her chest caused the blanket to fall, slightly exposing the baby to the humid air of the cabin.

Hafwen stared at the markings on the child and in disbelief stared down her own loose shirt to her markings. She cast a glance to the elder, the highest authority in the Aquar Eques tribe. Celestaon laced her fingers, resting her wrinkled chin in them, and said, “her name is Aleine, and she is going to have a very trying life. We must do what we can while she is with us.”

 

The 7:30

Knock, and the door will be opened,

But knocking can be dreadfully rude.

 

One, two, three—one, two, three,

I’m standing under the 7:30

While she pushes her hands through the sky

And the moon pours through her steel-toed eyes.

 

The door cracks, a shepherd pup

Slips into the night, looks me up—

A stiletto—screwdriver-orange—crashes down,

Spooks the dog clear out of town.

 

I peel through the waving door,

Find myself on the upper floor.

A murder of crows in her viscous wig

Pecks at the window with olive twigs.

 

In the basement a paper desk resides.

Her thunderous coughs stir the tides

In a whiskey barrel loaded with ink

As each word written turns sunflower pink.

 

The desk crumbles under my stare,

Lays the poem’s scaffolding bare.

A dust bunny raids the gore,

Walks away with the metaphor.

 

The 7:30 vanishes like a lady,

But the crows stand sure and stately—

Knocking, like I had before,

Knocking at my open door.

 

I round the corner, breathe in the lane.

Forget the growing, bloody stain

Across my snowy shirt of lamb

And drink my way to Amsterdam.

 

As starlight swirls above the bay,

A tramp with gloves stoops toward the fray.

“Chocolate?” he offers, but drops it.

A familiar crow arrives to profit.

 

“Something wrong?” the tramp’s brow cocks.

My shoulders tremble and knees knock.

I confess as I faint on a two-story shoe.

 

“Across my snowy shirt of lamb . . . and drink my way to Amsterdam.”

Trainmaker

“A dimming bulb clings to the ceiling . . .”

 

A dimming bulb clings to the ceiling

By a fraying wire while she nudges

A thimble smokestack into place.

Her fingers waltz across the placid headlamps

Arrayed on the shelves, untouched by dust.

 

Some cracked, some hazy,

Some clear and crisp as the night outside.

Soup cans, clock hands,

Toothpicks and cufflinks bound tighter

Than anything bought in a box.

 

She bends a spoon around the left wheels,

Matching the watch chain on the other side.

She fastens the lens from a pair of glasses

Abandoned in a public restroom.

She gives it a mother’s grin.

 

A room full of crowded people,

Their painted plastic on pedestals.

She brings her own table,

Displays her latest, beaming.

They spit acid when she speaks.

 

She walks out with it

Swaddled in her arms,

Clutched against her bosom,

Marches home with the dignity of war,

This Moment

watch

 

In all time of life behind me, I have not seen a moment so fondly.

With all time ahead of me, in vain my life to search for one would be.

As I inhale, filling my lungs with the hope to make it last.

Watching at the exhale this perfection so easily passes.

Faster than my eye can see, too subtle for my ears to know.

The greatness of this moment, I cannot take for granted.

It’s wondrous potential, I can not explain.

 

A Name Machine

Inspired by Neil Hilborn

 

I work in a factory filled with empty corridors

Crammed between razor angles,

Droning lights,

And the pounding of stainless presses

Cracking out Idaho plates.

 

They tell me I’m writing—

A machine making names for machines—

Lining up letters and ripping down the lever

While the river, miles away, signs every stone in its bed

With a flourish and a story.

 

They tell me I’m writing—

I make names for machines.

Each solemn slam wrings my stomach.

The diamond drops drain from my fingertips

With each symbol I place.

 

Four years wasted on Software Engineering,

Where smiling automata on the 800th floor

Leaned their glass eyes on me from the walls—

Smiles fueled by the fumes of burned paychecks.

I’ve only learned the ache of hatred, the pull of regret.

 

The mission statement rattles my spine,

Closes my throat, choked and inflamed:

“Make humanity irrelevant.”

I tap the keys.

They tell me I’m writing.

 

I caught my breath by the river,

Sobbing into its whisper,

Wanting nothing more than anything else.

A silver car with Idaho plates, its hazards flashing, clicking,

Waits in judgment, hauls me to the factory.

 

A man with the roaring voice of water

Came to town and spoke my language.

He lives with the river,

Beyond the factory’s antiseptic grasp.

He knows what writing is.

 

He saw the car with Idaho plates.

He ran through the mud

Where tires lose grip and engines stall.

Yank me out of my skyscraper cubicle.

Siren Song

Sing my sweet siren, sing just for me,

sing me to my death, to my reveille.

A shimmer on the ocean, a whisper on the breeze,

this wonderful temptress, brings me to my knees.

Tis a vexing sound, this song she can sing,

to seize my heart, and hold my being.

Awaken such darkness, a longing for depravity

mingling with pleasure, pain bringing ecstasy.

Then to taunt me from my harbor, my safety forgotten,

her arms around my neck, from my senses begotten.

A chill causing buss, my will now surrendered

my final waking moment, with a smile I’ll be remembered.

 

“Sing my sweet siren, sing just for me . . .”

Review of Bayside’s Vacancy album

 

Vacancy Baysiders
Bayside’s New Album: Vacancy

American emo rock band, Bayside, recently released their seventh studio album, Vacancy, on August 19, 2016. With its relatable content and matured emo roots, it’s the punk rock ballad album I needed as an angsty twelve-year-old looking for musical direction.

Vacancy opens with ‘Two Letters’, gritty guitar riffs slipping seamlessly under Anthony Raneri’s iconic vocals. It’s hard to articulate the heaviness you feel inside when you hear certain songs but when Raneri sings ‘I hope you understand; I’m not prepared to call you just a friend’, it almost gets easier. Vacancy is a break up album almost, but not your typical break up album. There’s no sad ballad, no self-pity, there’s just the truth.

The track ‘Pretty Vacant’ (not sure if that’s a Sex Pistols reference or not) is arguably one of the happiest tracks on the album. It’s a stand out track, one that dares listeners to sing along. Raneri’s voice is rough and edgy as he confesses, ‘Now I can’t call the shots and uncomfortable is so comforting,’ and listeners are led in this confession with him.

Vacancy winds down quickly with its last three tracks, ‘The Ghost’, ‘It Doesn’t Make It True’, and ‘It’s Not As Depressing As It Sounds’. They focus on deeper issues such as divorce and close the record softly, leaving the listener feeling introspective.

Once again Bayside provides their listeners and fans with a gut wrenching, emotionally excruciating style of music. They continue to stand out even after 16 years in the music industry. While some songs are not as strong as others, Vacancy is a solid body of work that deserves to be listened to.
Favorite Tracks: Two Letters, Enemy Lines, Pretty Vacant, Rumsprings (Return to Heartbreak Road)

Rating: 9/10

Being A Writer Today

Being a Writer Today

A craft descended from the greats such as H.P.Lovecraft and J.R.Tolkien is a huge burden to writers now a days. Claiming to be writer of any genre creates immediate comparisons to those who have come before us. Often this is enough to dash any hope of being published, let alone gaining fame for your works. How can a new fantasy writer measure up to the legendary “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy? Why write horrific tales of science fiction when Lovecraft’s tales of “Cthulhu” still haunt the dreams of people today?

Writing novels today is just as creatively difficult as it was thirty years ago, but more often than not a new idea is labeled as similar to this and there for not new. We stand still in the shadows of the stories we read as children and are smothered out of the pursuit to write by them.

Comparisons aside many other daunting tasks prevent most creative writers from taking the leap in publishing. Nowadays it seems impossible to get your darling story into the hands of an agent and before the eyes of an audience. What’s worse is now you don’t actually need to submit works to anyone. One would ask why this is so bad? Well when anyone can publish their work for public access, it means anyone will.

With the wonder that is the internet loosening the flood of publications through kindle and nook how can you make your well edited and original story shine through such a mob of haphazardly created slush? The question actually leads to many issues that past writers would never have thought of. The traditional write-and-submit-to-publishing-houses method is almost dead. Even using an agent to pump up your work is borderline useless. Why, you ask? Well, in truth, the nail in tradition’s coffin is social media.

In today’s markets writers must have a dedicated following of hundreds to even catch a glance from publishers. Agents will tell you the same, and in a weird “catch 22” of sorts you must have a fan base before they will publish what would build a fan base. Honestly, it is from a fear of failure on their part—why invest in a nobody when someone else already has fans?

Self-publishing is the new way that is rising at an astronomical rate, and many writers are catching on. At least they should be if publishing is their goal.

Next time I will be talking about the steps to self-publishing and what it is like doing so in today’s market.

Child of Star Light Part 1: section b

Child of Star Light

Issue 1: part 1: section B

In hurried movements the Celestaon grabbed up the baby as the other elders pushed her a path through the crowd. The moment of wondering bought her time to escape the questioning and get to her home. The still early morning chill hung in the air and after a night of preforming the illumination the Celestaon was weary. Down the wooden steps she hurried to the watery lands, and, as she reached the edge of the steps, she prepared to run across the waterway.

As her bare foot was about to strike the surface she reached out with her Reach and pushed the heat out from the surface and below. A process so second nature it took little thought at her age. The slabs of frozen water contrasted to her warmed skin but each step of contact was so brief most were barely noticed.

Behind her she heard the uproar of her tribe members. This was unheard of, but she couldn’t let them see the child’s mark. The tribe has no place for anomalies—every member must fit. This needed thought, and she feared the direction of impulsive Constalari leaders.

Celestaon’s home was close now, a place few would invade out of the respect her role demanded. The simple clay home was built on to a large wooden platform upon stilts to save it from the harsh change in tides and the natural swamp conditions. She finally reached the set of steps to her home and turned to see a couple of elders escorting the parents by canoe. She pushed through the door and into her home, the scent of herbs welcoming her. The gentle stirrings of her guest pulled her from relaxing, and she began absentmindedly rocking the child.

Celestaon sat at a table as the door opened and in shuffled the parents and the elder for the Merchant Constalri. Outside the arguing of the clan trailed in behind them.

“What is going on?” the mother asked worry etched in her words and the on father’s face.

Celestaon simply looked between them and their child, “She doesn’t have any markings for our clans.”

The parents starred uncomprehending how this could happen to their child. “What does this mean?” the father asked, wrapping his arm around his wife.

The other elder had the same quizzical look; she had never heard of such a thing before. She stepped over to Celestaon’s chair and looked down at the now awake child. They had named her Aleine, and she was squirming with her eyes darting around unable to focus on any one thing.

“We will have to convene the other Elders to ultimately decide,” Celestaon’s words still held a muted tone, “but her mark is troubling.”

Celestaon unwrapped the child showing them the markings that formed a faint eight pointed star. No more than a fingers length in diameter but clear as day. Every clan member from the seven tribes of Misten went through the Illumination produced a few spots that helped place them in one of the seven trades. Everyone had a place; a purpose, and this bound them to their fellow tribe members. Aleine had nothing like the rest and her place could not be determined with such a showing. To followers of the seven celestial chiefs she may as well not be of the Misten clans.

“We will most likely have to exile this child; she will be cast into the other lands of Savea.”

Celestaon knew the child’s odds. Misten was one of the southern most countries. To wonder the wilds alone was the end of all but the most experienced mages, and they must give her up to the wayward nature of fate.