The Mirror of Aethos

Long ago, there lived two Veroxian brothers, Ziraeel and Vronrei. They were rare because they had been born on the same day, which all people know is highly uncommon. Those who knew them said they were one soul split into two bodies, and so it seemed, for from the day they were born, they never left one another’s side for long. They sat next to one another in their classes, slept in beds set side by side, and where one went, the other followed.

They lived in a town that was well known for its temple to Aethos. People from all around came to ask the Aethan priests to send their loved ones to the next world. Ziraeel and Vronrei’s mother was one of the workers who kept the temple clean, and so the boys spent much of their time in the temple after their classes had ended and on days their father was busy at the green houses. Ziraeel in particular was fascinated with the ways of the funeral rites, the runes, and the goddess of death, and he and Vronrei learned more about Aethos than most enorians ever would.

So when they had grown and finished their studies and Ziraeel, the older by mere minutes, joined the Aethan priests, Vronrei wasn’t far behind. No one was surprised. The two brothers worked hard and were happy in their service to Aethos. They spent many hours perfecting their co-run funerals, taking extra care to learn all the ways in which they would best please Aethos.

With the help of his brother, Ziraeel even learned how to save lost souls from the realm of Kezerien and send them to their rightful afterlife in the Aether, which had thus far never been done as far as anyone knew. Even at the temple, the brothers were never far from one another. They even slept in the same room in the temple housing, though it wasn’t necessary. And everyone was certain they would pass together in their sleep long in the future, when their wings drooped and their dark hair was streaked with grey and their eyes had turned the color of the moon.

But then tragedy struck, and Vronrei was killed.

Ziraeel felt like he’d been torn in half, his heart ripped to pieces. He didn’t know how he could possibly survive this. He wept for days, begging the gods to take him, too, for he could not live without the other half of his soul. But the gods did not take him. It wasn’t his time.

In a moment of respite from his weeping, Ziraeel remembered a tale his mother had told the two of them during their many hours in the temple. She’d told them of the mirror of Aethos, an item so special it allowed the griever a chance to see their loved one again. But only the most special and loyal were given the gift of the mirror. He sat up from where he’d been lying on his bed, thinking for sure he would be given that chance. After all, he was an Aethan priest, was he not? He had been loyal and faithful in his task, in his worshipping of their goddess. He had loved her all his life. He thought surely he, of all people, would receive her blessing.

He told no one of his plans, for he knew what the other priests would think. The dead were meant to stay that way. They should be left at peace, his mother would tell him even in her grief, but Ziraeel needed to see his brother. Just once more.

And so the day after Vronrei had been sent to the Aether, in the most intimate and beautiful ceremony Ziraeel had ever performed, Ziraeel went into the temple after everyone had gone to sleep and threw himself at the feet of the statue, the beautifully carved likeness of Aethos. There, with the moonlight streaming in through the windows above, he begged her to let him see his beloved brother again.

Aethos, in her realm, surrounded by her flowers and the dead she watched over, heard his pleas. She felt his pain, had seen the pain Vronrei felt even still, despite the peace he should feel in the Aether. And both brothers had been nothing but the best of her worshippers. She had been impressed when Ziraeel had managed to save a number of souls from Kezerien’s realm, for she knew her nephew did not give up his fire spirits easily.

And so she bestowed upon him the blessing. She sent him her mirror to find when he returned to his room in the house where all Aethan priests lived.

Ziraeel stared in shock at the sight of the ornate mirror when he walked into his room. It stood taller than him and seemed to glow with an inner light. He’d been so certain Aethos had ignored his pleas, but here stood this mirror. And who else could have sent it to him?

His eyes welled with grateful tears as he stepped toward it. He told himself he just needed to say goodbye, because he’d been unable to. And saying goodbye would somehow make the loss bearable, though he knew he would never be whole again. He spoke his brother’s name, calling to him.

When Vronrei appeared in the mirror he looked the same as he’d always been with his shining green eyes and his milky skin, with his looping horns and moth-like wings. He smiled his familiar smile, and Ziraeel wept with joy at seeing his brother again. He reached out to touch Vronrei, but his fingers met only the cold surface of the mirror. If only he could hug his brother one last time, but this would have to do.

They talked as if nothing had changed. For hours and hours, well into the night, and Ziraeel barely felt his hunger or thirst, too wrapped up in seeing the other half of his soul again. Ziraeel asked Vronrei how the Aether was, and Vronrei asked about their parents and the woman he’d fallen in love with, though only Ziraeel knew about her, for Aethan priests were meant to only hold Aethos in their heart.

This went on for days. Ziraeel shirked his duties. He barely slept, barely ate. On the rare occasion he had to leave the mirror, Vronrei swore he’d still be there when Ziraeel came back. And upon Ziraeel’s return, his brother was always there, smiling at him. For even in the Aether, Vronrei’s soul cried out for Ziraeel.

Their mother questioned him, and Ziraeel claimed to be sick with grief, which wasn’t entirely untrue. And so she let him be, though she spoke to the priests and her husband about her concerns.

Only when Ziraeel’s vision started doing strange things, when the edges began to dim and lights danced before his eyes, did he remember the warning. His mother had warned the boys that those who stared too long within the depths of the mirror would lose not only their sight, forever, but also be no longer able to even hear their lost loved one.

But he hadn’t had enough time. He wasn’t ready to give up his brother yet. There had to be a way for him to prolong this, to spend just a little more time with Vronrei. Surely Aethos would understand. She was the goddess of death. She understood the grief associated with it, he assured himself. He didn’t tell Vronrei what was happening, not wanting to worry his brother. Nor did he tell him what he planned, for he feared Vronrei would try to deny him.

Once he had hatched a plan, Ziraeel went in search of all the mirrors he could find, and he set them up around his room to allow the image of Vronrei to bounce around to the other mirrors. He hoped it would minimize the effect and slow the blinding, and he was right. When he gazed into the other mirrors, his vision stopped dimming and dancing.

And Ziraeel was thrilled he’d outwitted Aethos and her mirror tricks. Once he may have worried it would anger her. Once he would never have done a thing to upset the goddess he had loved all his life, but all he cared about anymore was extending the time with his brother, and now he had it.

But this made Aethos angry, angrier than he could have imagined. Those who were dead were meant to stay that way. It was the way of things, and she, on rare occasions, gave her blessing for certain special people to say goodbye. She had given a man she thought to be a loyal, faithful servant one such rare blessing, and now Ziraeel was taking advantage of her kindness by deceiving her and thinking himself smarter than a god.

And so she punished them. She split Vronrei’s soul between all the mirrors, fragmenting it, tearing it apart, and causing Vronrei to howl and scream at the torment. Vronrei became angry and violent, banging on the insides of the mirrors, causing them to crumble and crack, which only caused him more pain.

Ziraeel dropped to his knees, covering his ears and weeping. He begged Aethos to stop, telling her he was sorry for the deception. He begged her to release Vronrei from his torture, swearing he would never try to do anything to upset her again.

But it was too late. Aethos would not stand for such insolence, and so she left Vronrei split between the mirrors and took Ziraeel’s sight, and though he could no longer see his brother, Ziraeel was forced to listen to his tormented screams for the rest of time.

How NaNoWriMo Went and What I Wrote

Phew, NaNo is over, and thank goodness for that. I am tired. It’s crazy that I managed to go beyond NaNoWriMo length in April and May. But, then again, I wasn’t working at that point, nor did I have anything else going on in my life given, you know, COVID, so I had all the time in the world to write. It was a bit different last month for a number of reasons. The first is that I started a new job, so I went from working something like twenty-five hours a week to suddenly working full time. Second, I wasn’t working on a novel or anything specifically planned or set like I was in April and May when I was working on book two of the Enorians Saga. Instead I had a vague idea of some stories I might want to write.

I’m really glad I decided to go with writing a bunch of different things, because I ended up coming out of it with six myths (only three more to go to hit my goal of twenty), a few short stories, and the start of two novels.  

There were so many days after waking up early and working eight hours that I just did not want to write. And three of those days I gave in and wrote nothing. A couple others I counted my blog posts to try to hit my word goals. It was rough. Writing is hard!

On days I was really on the struggle bus but knew I had to get those words down, I ended up writing things I knew would be easy, which was how I ended up writing about Rowan (seen on the left here in the art breeder version I made) and Ien for funsies. But I did manage, for the most part, to write consistently. The first time I attempted this was my sophomore year of undergrad when I got halfway. And this year I finally finished! Which means that I wrote 50,000+ words in a month three times this year. Which is kind of absolutely insane.

Props to anyone who manages this while working full time, especially if they have kids, too, or things they have to do outside of work. Managing full time work and existing as a human adult who also has hobbies and friends and family and responsibilities can make it hard to fit writing in. It’s so easy to make excuses, to find reasons not to write, and for so many years I made those excuses and found those reasons. It wasn’t until I started my master’s program and decided that seriously this time, I was going to write every day whether I wanted to or not, that things changed. And as I said, there are certainly still days where I don’t write, but they’re far and few between compared to before.

Also, can I just mention how difficult finding a good picture to along with my daily Instagram post was? Especially when I was trying to post them right before bed. When in doubt, post a cute picture of a cat, right? (Haha see what I did there? A cute cat ->)

So what’s next? Well, this month I’m continuing one of the novels I wrote the first chapter of… After I finish the character sheets and planning out specific story moments. So, you know, probably like six days after I originally wanted to start it, but oh well. And then when the new year hits, I want to revise Enorian Saga books two and one (again) and then write book three. Maybe I’ll even come up with titles at some point so I can stop referring to them by number.

All right, enough rambling. Let’s look at what I wrote last month, and maybe share an excerpt for each section 😉.

Things I wrote during National Novel Writing Month

Myths

“The Folly of Blissfruit” – A myth about an enorian fruit (blissfruit) that causes crazy amazing highs and why enorians shouldn’t eat it. 

“The First Aesan” – A myth about Aesa’s decision to take children to her realm upon their death rather than sending them to the Aether.

“Aesa’s Ring of Conception” – A myth about a Velite woman who desperately wants children but can’t have them and Aesa’s special ring that allows conception no matter the circumstances.

“The Apex Predator” – A myth about Nora-Vel’s objects, which are all body parts of her favorite creature.

“Typheus the Wind Scythe” – A myth about how a weapon of Kezerien’s, a wind scythe, became a god-blessed weapon.

“Borea’s Heart of Darkness” – A myth about a god-blessed lantern of Borea’s that allows the holder to live even beyond the moment they should have died while they seek their vengeance.

Excerpt from pages two and three of “Borea’s Heart of Darkness”

Ashira’s head swam as she pushed open the door. She dropped to her knees, weeping at the sight of her parents dead in their bed. A wave of weakness washed over her, and she pressed a hand to the wound along her belly. It burned beneath her palm, hot and painful. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she knew she was dying. She felt it.

She sank onto her side, stating up at the bed, surrounded by the heavy silence of her slaughtered family. Her family had long ruled Lirona, and though she did not know for certain who had sent the assassin that murdered her family in their beds, she knew she could not die without punishing them.

Closing her eyes, Ashira stoked her hatred for the Sandrian assassin and the unknown person who had given her the assignment. She let the hatred, the anger consume her, and then she prayed to Borea. She had heard tale of an item blessed by the goddess of hatred. A special lantern that would keep the holder alive until they got their revenge.

Borea, in her realm where it rained acid and blood, heard Ashira’s prayers over the moans and screams of caged souls. So great was the princess’s hatred and anger that Borea felt it through the suffering of those around her. Borea understood the need to sate the bloodlust. And who better to offer her Heart of Darkness to but someone so desperate for vengeance that they would prolong their life to achieve it?

But the lantern came with a price. Before she sent it to the girl, Borea spoke to her through the still-pooling blood of her parents. The blood slid off the bed and formed a vague-enorian shape in front of Ashira. It stood mere inches high, but the voice that rang out was clear and laced with loathing.

I have heard your prayers, Ashira of Lirona. I will give you that which you so desire, but know it comes at a cost. You have until the light goes out to kill your target, at which time, you will die. If the light goes out before you kill your target, you will die. Upon your death, your soul will come to me, where you will spend eternity among the tortured souls in my realm. Do you still wish to seek your vengeance?

Ashira stared at the wavering blood-made being before her. She didn’t care where she went after she died. All she wanted was to destroy the person who had slaughtered her family. “Yes,” she whispered.


Short Stories

“Spirits of the Sea” – Once a year, the residents of Senresse ride their horses down to the sea to wash the evil winter spirits from their legs. But danger lurks beneath the waves, for the sea spirits require a sacrifice to keep the island flourishing (this was really just an excuse for me to write about horses).

An untitled story about a girl who receives a phone call from her mom, who died the year before.

An untitled story about a server struggling while being the only one on shift as told via table numbers.

“The Journals of Silsia” – Silsia was one of the enorians who first came through the portal. These journal entries show her struggle in adapting to this new, strange place.

Excerpt from the first journal entry in “The Journals of Silsia”

Day 2

It’s terrible, staring up at the portal jutting up into the sky, knowing we’ll never go back. We arrived at the beginning of the cold season, it seems, though we have no idea when – or if – the weather might change. Perhaps there is only a cold season here. All I know is the snow keeps falling, coating the ground in a thick, white layer. My clothes barely ward off the chill. I miss the coat our creator blessed me with. The thick, shaggy hair would’ve kept me warm like it always does during the winter.

But it’s more than that. It’s more than just missing my coat. Kalasandria “blessed” us all with these human forms, as she called them. The Zaria tells us we have to wear them to blend in, in case any humans show up. But I haven’t seen another soul since we arrived. Only us enorians. I hate this form. It’s so confining. My skin prickles and itches like it knows it’s not my real skin, like the hairs of my true form tickle it from beneath. And I keep forgetting I don’t have my secondary arms. I dropped a mug the other day, one of the few Dris and I managed to bring. I went to grab it with my lower hand, forgetting I didn’t have it, and the mug shattered on the frozen ground. That’s the fourth time I’ve dropped something now. I don’t now if I’ll ever get used to this.

The Zaria says it’ll take time, but we’ll all get used to these new forms. Those of us with wings seem to be struggling more than us land-bounders. They’re used to flying everywhere, but now they have to be careful. They can’t be seen, the Zaria warns. Apparently, these humans can be hostile when faced with something unknown.

If we don’t finish up these shelters we’re building soon, I’ll have to change back, no matter what the Zaria says. I’m freezing, and so is Dris.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Kalasandria did save us from Enos and the war, after all, but why didn’t anyone consider our living arrangements before we came through the portal?

The portal that’s now sealed. Closed off to us forever. Will I ever see home again? 


Starts of Novels

Chapter one of The Children of Oher, which started out as a short story idea, then was going to be a novella, but then I plotted out the chapters the other night. Now it looks like it’ll more than likely turn into a novel.

Kora Mercer (pictured in the art breeder version I made) gets kidnapped by the Children of Oher and is forced to marry one of their young men because the group hasn’t had a female child born in years, so they have to resort to pulling women in from outside their walls. But when she realizes her new husband, Asher Webb, is in love with his best friend and wants as little to do with all this marriage business as her, she has to decide whether to trust him in hopes they might escape their prison together.

Chapter one of the novel version of Spirits of the Sea, which will be told in first person from the point of view of the sister of one of the protagonists of the short story version. – When Amalia’s (pictured here in the art breeder version I made) brother is taken by the sea spirits, she takes matters into her own hands and searches for a way to travel to Ijamere to get him back. 

Excerpt of the first two pages of chapter one of The Children of Oher

Kora’s wedding day looking nothing like how she’d imagined it in her childhood. First, she was only eighteen. She’d always thought she would be well into her twenties or older. Someone else had picked out her dress, a simple, straight white thing that made her feel like she was wearing a sack. Not the graceful gown she’d pictured, with a flowing train and a sparkling bodice. She didn’t have a veil, though she’d always liked the idea of her husband lifting it to kiss her when the time came. Her hair hadn’t even been done nicely. It lay in its dark, messy waves, the top all frizzy from having a bag pulled off her head. Not pinned up in some elegant style like in the pictures with diamond-studded hairclips and flowers weaved throughout. And the last thing she’d ever wanted was to get married in the middle of summer outside. The sun beat down on her, making her hot and uncomfortable. But worst of all, the man Kora stood in front of, the man she was supposed to marry, wasn’t a man she loved. In fact, she hadn’t met him until ten minutes earlier.

Trying not to look into the stony face of her supposed future husband, Kora glanced at the people around her. They stood in a garden surrounded by houses. An unnaturally perfect garden. Kora had always liked overgrown ones, where the plants were allowed to flourish and go where they wished, but this one felt sterile, controlled. Each flower, each leaf, each petal placed just so. Water rushed somewhere behind her. A river? She wasn’t sure. The grass prickled against the soles of her bare feet.

She wasn’t the only one girl who seemed out of place. On either side of her a half circle stretched at least ten girls long, each one wearing the same sack of a white dress. She couldn’t get a good look at some of them, but the ones she could see looked to be in various states of shock or grief. The blonde girl beside her wept silently, eyes on the ground, her shoulders slumped. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen. The woman on Kora’s other side had hair as green as the eyes she darted in Kora’s direction. Woman, Kora thought, but young, still. Not much older than herself. All the girls in line couldn’t have been older than their mid-twenties. Had they all been brought in from the outside like her?

Each of the girls had a male opposite standing in front of her. Kara glanced at the man before her again. His skin was the color of wet driftwood, and black eyebrows formed a deep frown, his forehead winkled and beading with sweat. The muscles in his jaw stood out, as if he clenched them. But his deep-set eyes weren’t on her. They gazed at something to beyond her, and when they flicked to her, she quickly looked away.

Beyond the couples, if they could even be called that, the garden was filled with a large crowd, all dressed as if they were attending an actual wedding rather than whatever this was supposed to be. They spoke to each other in quiet, excited voices. What were they all waiting for?

Trying to relief the discomfort of keeping her arms behind her back, Kora rolled her shoulders, grimacing. She tried her plastic cuffs again, moving her hands in hopes this time they were looser. The cuffs rubbed painfully against the already sensitive skin of her hands. All the attempt did was earn her a sharp jab in the spine. She shot a glare back at the man behind her. That earned her another jab in the same bruised spot.


Other

I wrote five different chunks of scenes written just for fun, which consisted of things that happened in book two of the Enorians Saga but in this case written from an alternate point of view, background information on the antagonist of all three books, and a couple of scenes that might end up in book three.

I’d given an excerpt from my “other” things but a lot of it is very spoiler heavy in terms of things that happen either between books one and two or in book two, soooo I’ll have to skip that.

What I wrote over the last week

I finished up “Borea’s Heart of Darkness”

A scene about Ien and Akrin that will hopefully take place in book three in some capacity.

I then took two days to do nothing to recover from NaNoWriMo and used the next couple days to plan out The Children of Oher.

What I’m reading right now

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Horsemanship Through Life: A Trainer’s Guide to Better Living and Better Riding by Mark Rashid

National Novel Writing Month & Meet the Gods

For those who don’t know, every November is National Novel Writing Month for us crazy writers. The goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I’ll be honest, I’ve never managed to successfully do it. At least not during November. Though, I suppose last year technically counted as successful, since I finished enorians book one, even though I didn’t hit 50,000 words. I did write over 50,000 words in both April and May, but I did that while being off work because of COVID. So does that really count? (I guess it does a little. It was just a lot easier haha)

Since I’m not working on a book at the moment, my plan is to write a combination of short stories and more enorian myths so that maybe next year I can start sending out some stories. I’m updating my Instagram daily with little excerpts from what I worked on that day as well as brief explanations, so check that out if you’re interested to see what exactly I’m working on.

Speaking of enorian myths, let’s meet the gods! And what better way to meet them than for me to share the creation myth? But first, here’s a list of each god and what they represent:

Aesa – The Mother God – Goddess of Life, Air, and Childbirth

Loros – God of Day, Light, Crafting, and Money

Nora-Vel – Goddess of Nature, Medicine, and Wild Animals

Invero – God of the Sea and Weather

Verox – God of Night, Darkness, and Future Sight

Merse – Goddess of Love, Mercy, Obsession, Desire, Music, and Sunrise

Goriel – God of the Harvest, Agriculture, and the Homestead

Aethos – Goddess of Death, Disease, Decay, and the Cycle of Life

Borea – God of Hatred, Insanity, Revenge, and Sunset

Enos – God of War, Battle Strategy, Heat, and Fire

Kalasandria – Goddess of Secrecy and Deception

Trosk – God of Art, Markings, and Beautiful Deaths

Kezerien – God of Destruction and Natural Disasters

Zura – Goddess of Knowledge, Time, and Future Sight

Serth – God of Misfortune

The Creation of the Gods

In the beginning, Aesa, the first of the gods, was alone. She did not know where she had come from or how she had come to be on this plane with only the blue sky and sun, the barren land, the empty oceans, and the starry night for company. But from somewhere deep within her, she understood that she had the ability to create life.

And so, with her many sets of feathered wings, she flew as high into the sky as she could and there, she pulled a ray from the sun. She cradled it carefully in her hands, the warmth filling her with joy and excitement. When she landed on the dirt again, she blew gently on the glowing ray, sending it floating away from her. The sunray expanded until it took up nearly all her vision, and then it slowly took the form of a man, a man made of pure light. And so Aesa breathed life into Loros, the first of her children.

Next, she plucked one of her own many white feathers, for she knew Loros could not be her only companion. She blew on the feather, and it twirled into the sky. Aesa followed it with her sight until she had to squint against the brightness of the sun. When it came into view again, the feather had become a small, white bird, which fluttered down onto her outstretched hand. She smiled, stroking its head with her fingers before setting it down on the dirt. From there, the bird grew into a large, white beast with the front legs and head of a snarling feline, antlers sprouting from its head, and the back half of a slender deer with cloven hooves. It was equally beautiful and frightening. And so Aesa breathed life into Nora-Vel, her first and only daughter.

While Loros and Nora-Vel got acquainted, Aesa flew to the vast oceans. She swooped down and scooped up two handfuls of water, cupping them in her palms. Bringing the salty sea back to land with her, she blew on it, sending ripples over the small pool in her hands. And from that water, sprang Invero, fully formed and covered in scales the blue-green color of the ocean with fin-like wings. He dove back into the waters that called to him. And so Aesa breathed life into Invero, the child she would rarely see, for he stayed beneath the waves from which he had been made.

As she stared at the other half of the world, the dark, starry half, Aesa’s loneliness had not quite faded. She flew back up, high into the sky, as she had earlier. But this time, she plucked a star from the inky blackness. And when she brought it back down with her, Loros and Nora-Vel came to investigate. They watched their mother blow on the star cradled in her hand. It floated away from them, expanding as it went, until the darkness blotted out their vision. It formed slowly into something like the shape of a person, filled with swirling galaxies and stars. They swept forward to greet their siblings and mother. And so Aesa breathed life into Verox, her youngest child, the dark star.

Aesa wanted to create more life, a people who could keep the gods strong with their worship. But first they needed a place to live, and so the next day, the five gods set to work creating a habitable world.

Nora-Vel walked around the world, passing from the bright half into the dark and back and everywhere she went, entire forests sprouted up behind her. Grass grew beneath her clawed feet. Flowers sprang up from her hooves. When she flicked her long tail, birds burst into being, and when she rubbed her antlers on the bark of trees, tiny mice and rabbits and other such small animals tumbled to life.

Invero, deep in the oceans, had already begun his work, creating all sorts of sea creatures large and small and underwater landscapes to rival those of his sister’s in beauty. But even with the sea creatures for company, Invero felt a strange longing for others like him. And so he left his oceans to walk the land in search of his siblings, creating rivers in his wake. When he paused, water puddled around him, deep and wide, forming ponds, then lakes.

Loros and Verox went in search of building materials to create forms in which to hold their light and darkness. In the middle of the world, they found mountains. They took rock and they took the trees their sister had created, and they went to the oceans to collect sand from the beaches, and Loros built himself a forge. There, he crafted beautiful, white armor to hold his light in the form of a man. And he created a set for his sibling, as well, out of glass so all could see the star-strewn darkness swirling within.

Aesa was glad to see Invero join them again, and she marveled at the beauty of the casings Loros had created for himself and Verox and praised Nora-Vel for her exceptionally lovely forests. And she smiled, feeling joy and contentment surrounded by her children.

Then Loros fell in love with Nora-Vel, and in that fresh, new feeling of love, something burst from his chest. She was made up of pale yellows and oranges and pinks, her long hair shimmering with the colors of sunrise. And so Merse was born, and she was more beautiful than anything Aesa had seen before. 

It did not take long for a brother to be born to Merse. From the union of Loros and Nora-Vel came a being with the body of a furred, four-legged beast with cloven hooves and the torso of a man, though this, too, was covered in a dusting of fur and had an extra set of arms. He immediately set to creating the fields the enorians would need to grow food. And so Goriel was born, the strongest among them. 

With the world as prepared as Aesa thought it could be, she gathered twigs and plucked feathers from her wings and tied them all together with strands of her hair. And when she had formed them into the shapes of people, she pressed a kiss to each and tossed them into the air, where they floated away, turning into the first mortals, beings with feathered wings and horns like their creator, each equally beautiful. And they walked together into Nora-Vel’s forests to create shelters and hunt for food while Goriel readied their fields for them. And so Aesa created the first enorians.

And all was well. The newly created enorians worshipped their gods and produced children who worshipped their gods. Aesa took to the sky, and with the help of her first enorians, she added more life to the vast blue space. Her breath created pillowy, white clouds and the beating of her wings and the wings of the first enorian swept the wind into being.

But then Nora-Vel had another child, this one a dark being with gaunt features, sickly skin stretching over sharp bones. When one of Nora-Vel’s creatures died, as all beings do, the child took it into her lap, cradling it to her, stroking it tenderly. And so Aethos was born and was tasked with caring for the dead.

Loros knew this could not be his child. For he saw how bright and glorious and strong his son was. And this dark daughter, she could not have come from him. He accused Verox of coupling with Nora-Vel behind his back. Verox could not deny their betrayal, for who else could have created such a child? And Verox fled, not wanting to fight their brother.

Loros chased Verox around the world, and the brightness and darkness mixed as they flew, creating dawn and day and twilight and night. Loros chased his sibling for many days and nights, so many that their flight caused the flowers to bloom and leaves to fall and a coldness to envelope the world from the sheer force of their chase. When Loros finally caught the younger god, the cold had faded, and flowers had begun to sprout again. The two fought over Nora-Vel, and though neither had a true body, Loros sliced open his sibling, sending blood splattering down into the volcano and into the shadows of the mountain over which they raged.

A man burst from the blood bubbling in the lava, fully formed and armored, full of rage from the feelings coursing through Verox, with huge, sweeping horns and large, strong wings to take him wherever the fighting may be. And so Enos was born, ready for battle.

Another crawled slowly out of the red pool in the shadows of the mountain, the blood changing colors as it formed her body, turning a strange greenish blue color for a moment, as if the color had inverted. She slunk toward the fighting gods, crouched low, creeping up behind her brother, ready to strike. And in the shadow of the hulking Enos, she seemed to vanish, wrapped in shadows. And so Kalasandria was born, the blood forever dripping from her wings.

Nora-Vel came to where the siblings fought and shouted at them that she was not a prize to be won and she could be with whomever she pleased. She made them stop their foolish fight sparked of jealousy, and Aesa was grateful, for she did not wish for such discord amongst her children.

But while Nora-Vel helped Verox clean and heal their wounds and Verox greeted their new children, Loros struggled with his feelings of betrayal. How could his sibling do this to him? His beloved sibling for whom he had created that glorious armor? And in those bitter feelings of anger, of hatred, of betrayal, his light started to dim. Gone was the blinding brightness created by the sunray from which he had come, instead his inner light turned to warm oranges and reds, deep, dull yellows and pinks. Not unlike the colors of his first child, Merse. And as he cried tears of rage, from those tears came another child. She rose to her full height, dark and withered in appearance, the top half of her body wrapped in armor and a spiked cage surrounding her head. The swirling black mist blocking the rest of her body from view seemed to leach all the light from her surroundings. And so Borea was born.

Aesa worried things had gone wrong, but after the creation of Borea, Loros seemed to have calmed, his light coming back to full brightness again. And so they continued perfecting their world for the enorian mortals who worshipped them.

The animals came to Nora-Vel, asking her to make them beautiful, for most were the brown of tree bark or the white of her tail hairs. And so she asked Aesa to pull some blue from the sky, and asked Loros to give her some of his light, and asked Verox to offer a bit of the purple hidden in their inky darkness, and asked Invero for some green scales, and asked Merse and Borea for their red and orange and pink feathers, and she took some of her own, white hairs. From all the things her siblings and children had given her, she formed a being of swirling color to paint the animals and the leaves of the trees and flowers. And so Trosk was born, and they set immediately to work to create more beauty in the world.

While everyone else was busy helping with the forming of Trosk, Kalasandria and Enos had a violent, fiery, sparking romance, and when their son came into being, the clouds burst open with a downpour of rain. Thunder cracked and light zigzagging across the sky and striking Nora-Vel’s precious trees, setting them ablaze. Fire leapt across his flesh, the ground spider-webbing beneath him. And so Kezerien was born, his skin crackling with lightning, sparking out at anyone who came near.

When the storm had settled, the enorians, now trailed by multiple children, came to Aesa to ask her why the days had stopped turning to night, for when Loros and Verox stopped their chase, the world had settled back to its original state, half light, half dark. They missed the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets, and they feared the dark half of the world, where they believed dangers lurked, and they could not track time without the coming of night and day, as they had become accustomed.

And so Aesa asked her four children to create a new being who could ensure the passage of time. They assembled the materials, going to the mountains to mine metals and to the beach to get more sand to create glass. And while Loros began to craft their newest companion, the rest of the gods gathered around to wait. When he finished, she stood before them, made of glass and wrapped in an exoskeleton of metal, but she was not yet finished. Loros gave her a bit of his light, for the day, and knowledge of crafting. Verox spilled forth their darkness, for the night, and touched her brow to bestow their future sight. Merse pressed a kiss to her cheek, bestowing on her the colors of sunrise and with those, her love. And with Borea’s sunset offering seeped in the blackness, her hatred. Invero poured water into her, giving her all she would ever need to know of the oceans and its contents. Nora-Vel blessed her with the understanding of nature and medicine, the life cycles of plants and animals. And Goriel gave her knowledge of the harvest and all that went along with growing and feeding the mortals. Enos gave her appreciation of battles and war. And Kalasandria made her understand the importance of secrecy and gave her the ability to see into the past. Kezerien taught her about the storms and destruction and how vital they could be to life. And Trosk painted her, lining her with blue and filling her empty eyes with the same, the color of the flowers and the birds and the sky just before night fell, and with their careful strokes they taught her the beauty of life and art. Aethos brought her the body of a lost creature, and when she touched first the beast and then the face of the frozen being before her, she bestowed unto her the importance of death and its necessity to life. Finally, Aesa stepped forward, and blew gently into her face, instilling in her the knowledge of birth and life. Eyes flickered open and deep within her core, a blue light pulsed slowly. And so, with the help and knowledge of all the gods, Aesa breathed life into Zura and tasked her to ensure time and all its events moved as it should.

With day and night circling the world, with the seasons changing as the days passed, the gods settled into their new lives, reveling in the worship of their mortals. But one mortal, the youngest son of the two first enorians, did not worship as he should. He struggled through his life, forgetting offerings and prayers, letting days go by without a thought to the gods. He was too busy to remember days of celebration, despite his parents’ insistence the gods had created them and deserved his time and energy. Misfortune befell him again and again. His crops failed to grow. The animals he hunted fled before he caught them. His boat capsized as he tried to fish, turned over in a storm. His fields flooded. His cattle died of disease. He did not find love, like his siblings did when Aesa created more enorians. He could not understand what had gone wrong.

Upon his death, he came to the gods, begging them for understanding. They stood above him, pointing fingers and judging him on the things he had failed to do. If only he had worshipped and given offerings and sacrifices as his parents and siblings, they told him. All the misfortune befalling him had been his own fault, his foolishness. And from the shadow created by the youngest son from the light of the gods, a new creature pulled himself from the grass. He crouched on six limbs, four spindly arms and two sturdy, taloned legs. He slunk away to the forest and watched them, stroking his long fingers over the coarse, grass-like fur of his shoulder. And then he crept away, out of sight, away from these most glorious and powerful beings, glowering at them from the shadows. And so Serth was born, the last of the gods.

It was not long before the gods decided they, too, wanted their own people as Aesa had created, for they thought it wasn’t fair that the enorians only looked like her. With her help, they created numerous races, one for nearly every god.

Aesa gave her people her soft, feathered wings, and her kind and gentle nature and tasked them to bring forth the life she sent. She called them Aesa’s Chosen.

Loros gave his people the knowledge to expertly craft and the ability to bring brightness to the dark with their shining markings, and he made their wings strong and powerful so they could fly close to his light. He called them his Light Bringers.

Nora-Vel gave her people the gift of medicine and the ability to hunt with extreme precision and modeled them after the creatures she had created, instilling in them her love of nature. She called them Velites.

Invero gave his people the ability to breathe underwater and gave them scales and fin-like wings to move around swift and efficiently beneath the waves, ensuring they could join him in the ocean at any time. He called them the Deep Ones.

Verox gave their people the ability to see in the dark, during their time, and some, they blessed them with the skill to read the fate and future in the stars. They called them Veroxians.

Merse gave her people her passion, the power to create feelings of lust or devotion within others, and she blessed them with stunning beauty and a great affinity for music. She called them her Cherished Mersians.

Goriel gave his people the strength to work the fields and the ability to grow plants, particularly food, with much greater success than other races, and he blessed them to take his form, covering them in fur and giving them hooves. He called them his Herdsmen.

Aethos, already too busy caring for those who had passed beyond this realm, did not create a race, for all people became hers once they joined her in the Aether.

Enos gave his people his love of battle and blessed them to be excellent leaders, debaters, and rousing orators, and he gave them scales and ensured they loved the heat as much as him. He called them his War Bringers.

Kalasandria gave her people her sneaking skills, creating small, lithe beings capable of blending into shadows and being as quiet and secretive as her, and blessing them with the ability to read people well and judge character; some could even hear whispers of the past. She called them her Sandrian Whisperers.

Borea gave her people the ability to create feelings of hatred in their enemies, and in special cases, some did not even need the cursed mist to create the rage and anger within other enorians. She called them Boreans.

Trosk, like their sister Aethos, did not create a people, for they were too busy painting the world, adding beauty to it, and they saw the beauty in all people and all things and did not feel a need to have their own race.

Kezerien gave his people destructive elemental powers, showing them how to breathe and throw fire, form ice, and use lightning to destroy, and the other gods thought this was too much power for one race, but each race had their own special abilities, Aesa told them, and these were Kezerien’s choice. He called them Kezerites.

Zura decided to only bless one enorian at a time rather than create her own people. Upon that enorian, who could be from any of the eleven races, she passed her knowledge of all things, extending their life by placing a gem in the palm of their hand, and gave them glimpses into the future to ensure all stayed as it should on the mortal realm. She called them her Zaria.

When Serth joined them, they were surprised, for they didn’t know yet he existed. And when Aesa asked him if he wanted to create a race, he said no, for all he could give his people was the misfortune from which he had been born. And so the gods and the enorians were created, and that is why Aesa is called the mother god, for all life spawned from her, and she watches over everyone, gods and mortals alike, even now.

What I wrote over the last week:

A first person version of “The Spirits of the Sea,” which will likely end up being the start of a novel-length story.

A scene from book two that’s originally written from Vivian’s POV, rewritten from Rowan’s POV (just for funsies. I love and miss Rowan).

What I’m reading:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Yes. Still. So close to done, though! By next week I’ll have a new book to share. Maybe a couple.)

A final note: Starting next week, I’ll be posting on Saturdays instead of Thursdays, since I’m starting a new job that gives me weekends off (Woohoo!). To see regular updates, check out my Facebook page or Instagram. Happy Thursday!