“Jeo pur’theron!” (1)
A blur of sun-kissed steel whipped passed Brasen’s eyes, thudding heavily as it sank into the flesh of a guardian’s neck, his body already ablaze with blue fire from the soldier’s Word. Brasen blinked, as if awakening from a dream, and looked up to take in where he now found himself. (2)
He saw only fire—a wall, a tower, a swirling tempest of deep orange and red, rippling like a mirage behind thick waves of heat that made his skin feel tight and scorched black the leather on his arms and thighs. Accosted by the flaming mass, he recalled once more that day from his youth and for a moment wondered if he might still be dreaming. But the heat assaulting him now was magnitudes worse than he remembered, and the blaze stood five times as wide and shot twenty times higher. No. This was no nightmare from the past. This was here, and now. (3)
The soldier who saved his life had run on by without a word. But in his wake, twenty more had filled the gap to hold the line that the Dei’lo warriors had formed as close to the firestorm as they dared approach. Even with protective spheres, it was difficult to stand against the heat or be heard above the roar. (4)
“Fire with fire,” shouted one of the women, her voice carrying an edge of desperation that made Brasen bristle. “The blue flame repels it!” (5)
Brasen joined the line amid shouts of Dei’lo hurled against the swirling red. Having been trained to kill men, the warriors had been searching for the Words that would have some effect on the unliving storm. And with the blue flame, they found it, at least in part. As each Word was called out, a portion of the fiery wall turned blue then black from smoke as that section was quelled as if with water. But then the tendrils of nearby flames would fill the smoky void and quickly dissipate the effect. (6)
“Together!” Brasen yelled, though still detached, as if someone else was speaking for him. “Speak in unison! Pick a single target at the base of the funnel! Try to destabilize the vortex!” (7)
Not using the Words to amplify his voice, only a handful close by heard his command. But they quickly obeyed, and when others saw what they were doing and its effect, they also joined in. Soon a hundred or more were heaving their Words at the base of the tower in a pulsating chant. It sounded almost like a song. (8)
“Jeo pur’theron! Jeo pur’theron! Jeo pur’theron! Jeo pur’theron!” (9)
With each pulse of the warriors’ unified cry, the base of the tower stalled in a haze of blue and sputter great masses of blackened dead smoke. The ripples from these holes in the vortex sent shudders of instability upward along the length of the funnel until the full height of it began to wobble and spew bursts of fire out this way and that. (10)
Just as it seemed their assault might succeed, shields all around them crackled to life at the hateful cry of a fresh wave of Sa’lei. Scores of guardians, who had been fighting their way around the vortex from the other side, had reached them. (11)
How is it they broke through our ranks so quickly? wondered Brasen, alarmed. And why didn’t he sense them coming? The rising fear in his men was as palpable as the wind. But the guardians were a void. How could they know how to block their minds from Wordhaven’s effects? (12)
“El cor’altan see!” cried a warrior at Brasen’s side, and the shield of one of the guardians imploded in a crackle of hiss and steam; the man within it simply collapsed to the ground like puppet whose strings had just been snipped. He did not even cry out. (13)
The Word of death, thought Brasen darkly. He’d used it himself, a few times before now. But always on guardians riding juron high above. He’d never seen its effect this close up before. Other Dei’lo warriors joined the verbal fray, their own shields blazing blue as the guardians struggled to find the Words to crack through their defenses. (14)
“Use your staffs! One man, one Word!” shouted Brasen, but then quickly remembered that most could not hear him now, shielded behind the surreal silence of their spheres. Inexplicably, this outraged him. Caught up a wave of fury, rising up within him from where he knew not, he pushed himself out ahead of the line in plain sight of the enemy horde and, ignoring the barrage of Sa’lei launched against his shield, ran along the length of the battle line, holding up his own focus staff for his warriors to see, his eyes glaring at them in reprimand. It was a signal they all knew and understood. Immediately his warriors raised their focus staffs in reply and with renewed clarity and significantly less fear, targeted the line of guardians before them, and cried out. One man, one Word. Dozens of guardians fell in an instant. Those still standing retaliated with a tirade of curses. Brasen couldn’t hear them, but he knew well enough what they were. Words of fire and plague, Words to tear a man limb from limb. Yet, for all but a few, the Dei’lo spheres held. The guardians were well-skilled in terror, in Sa’lei Words to maim or strike fear, to slay or destroy, but they clearly were not accustomed to battling an enemy with equal knowledge of Dei’lo. (15)
At that moment, he felt the vibration of a booming Word, he knew not from where, and the vortex of fire, which had now regained its strength due to the distraction of the guardians, began plowing forward, leaning with malicious hunger toward the valley’s center, where the bulk of Wordhaven’s forces were still gathered. In the sky above, emerging from behind the vortex like a tiny red moon, he saw a shielded form—a single man, one arm extended toward the fiery column, the other toward the valley center. And the tower of fire, all five hundred feet of it, began to tumble forward, looking for a moment like a mighty falling tree, hungry to crush the mass of tiny lives splayed out beneath it. (16)
Paragraph 15: “Caught up a wave of fury, rising up within him from where…”
This feels a little awkward. Maybe say, “Caught up in a wave of fury, rising up from where…”
You’re posting your first draft, right? It doesn’t really show much in the way of first-draft-itis symptoms. :-)
Random thought: What would happen if one side or the other discovered a way to afflict their enemy with laryngitis? Have any of them lost their voices during battle because of all the shouting?
Great start to the book! My wife found your first book for me at a used book shop and picked it up on a whim to see if I would enjoy it. It was wonderfully crafted and kept me wanting to read more. The second book fell right in line with the first. You really kept the continuity together and flowing. All in all, a superb job thus far. I can’t wait for the next volume. Do you have any idea when it might be finished? Are we looking a good year and a half out for publishing? No rush, no rush.. just a curious Wordhavener wondering what’s going to happen his city, that’s all. I’d just like to read about it first so that nothing surprises me! ;-)
Yeah, that one is a little awkward, Michelle. I’ll see what I can do.
About the laryngitis…interesting notion. Something akin to that has already happened—once with the Cal’eeb and once when Revel (I think) whacked Balaam in the throat (not quite laryngitis, but the same effect). Certainly Sa’lei could do this, but it’s destructive effects would likely spread to eventually kill whoever lost their voice from a Sa’lei Word. Dei’lo, as a language, works differently than Sa’lei…so it would probably accomplish the effect (as in the Cal’eeb example) by creating silence, rather than taking away someone’s capacity to speak.
Truth is, I’m tussling a bit with the “Word of death” uttered by Brasen’s men in this scene. As Dei’lo is essentially a language of creation, killing someone with it becomes a touchy business. Not that it can’t be done, but generally such a thing is accomplished by creating something new out of what is there, which has the effect of ending the life of whatever was there to start with (if it was alive)…for example, turning someone to stone or what have you. But in this scene, the Dei’lo phrase that kills the guardians literally speaks to an individual’s heart muscle and commands it to stop. Technically, this is not beyond the capacity of the language to do—after all, the language can stop objects moving in mid air, or stop rain, or etc etc. But to stop a heart is to kill, and something about that begins to look suspiciously similar to the destructive work of Sa’lei. Honestly, I think part of the struggle for me here is not in whether or not the language can do a thing, but rather how the language is intended to be used. You can’t learn Dei’lo without understanding its essence, and its essence is guided by a particular set of values. It should not be possible to use the language in a way that goes against its core essence. This is why Ajel struggles so much when he created a dragon only to send it immediately to its death. Something about this act chaffed against the edge of Dei’lo’s inherent intent. So all that to say, can Dei’lo be used to simply stop a heart? Or rather, should it?
Michael, I can see the dilemma. Just because a thing can be done, doesn’t mean it should. But that’s the struggle that comes with dealing with anything that has to do with warfare. What happens to the heart of a person, a doctor for example, when the tools of his trade are used to create biological weapons? How does the misuse of a tool which was designed and intended to bless and heal warp the person who is misusing it?
What would happen if the Wordhaveners discovered a way to use Dei’lo to create a virus that paralyzes the enemy? It doesn’t kill them, it just puts them in a vegetative state? What if someone figured out how to create something with Dei’lo that targets only those people who share physical traits common to all who use Sa’lei which would incapcitate them? Like biological warfare designed to target only people with a certain gene, that is used to create an epidemic. It wouldn’t kill them, but it would put them in a comatose state, which would be walking a very fine line because technically it is a creative word which does not kill. How would that change the nature of the battle?
Then, what about a third language? An undiscovered language? If I were to put this idea in terms of Christianity, I’d equate Sa’lei with the language of the devil, Dei’lo with the language of the Law as it was originally intended, then the third language would be the language of the Spirit. But maybe you’re already headed there and I just took a grand leap ahead in the storyline. :-)
Thanks for the paragraph numbers. A couple of wording suggestions (for typos?)
 whipped past
 sputtered great masses
Regarding your Word of Death conundrum, could you use some variation of “deep slumber” or “stasis” instead of “stop the heart from beating?” These alternatives seem less ill-intended,
These scenes are very enthralling. I’m so quickly drawn in that it’s tricky to keep the emotional/mental distance needed to offer objective commentary. Great storytelling!
I understand why you are having difficulty with the stopping of the heart by use of Dei’lo, however I did not feel as if it were a negative thing in the story. God is love and life, but he still aided in battles and allowed the deaths of many. The Dei’lo warriors did not act maliciously as the Sa’lei warriors did, dismembering and such, really in a war scenario simply having your heart cease to work would probably be the most peaceful way to die.
However, I do think Michelle’s idea of putting them into a comatose state of some sort would be a good way to possibly introduce a new idea that was found, by a scribe or someone, where a person who has been overcome by Sa’lei can actually be healed with words being spoken over them and then they could choose to either join Wordhaven or go their own way. Because if Donovan could leave and become a Dei’lo warrior then what if the Wordhavener’s could actually help the Jalen?
But I live in a world where I always want the happy ending. Where those who are afflicted can be cured, but that really isn’t reality and I don’t know if that might cause too much of an imbalance between the good and evil. It is that balance going back in forth that builds the suspense.
Dear Sir, Paragraph 15: “Caught up a wave of fury, rising up within him from where he knew not” leave as is with the possible exception of replacing ‘from where’ with ‘from whence’, IMHO, otherwise no suggestions except to agree with the typos needing correction. Please leave “stop the heart from beating”, isn’t ill intended? Thank-you. Yours sincerely, Michael M
Thanks Michael. I actually love the phrase “from whence”; however, I recently learned (from a literary review of LOTR of all places) that the word “whence” actually means “from where,” which means saying “from whence” is like saying “from from where.” Still, if Tolkien did it, who am I to question. :)
Appreciate the feedback
I, too, am a fan that first discovered Gideon’s Dawn and was thrilled when you wrote Waymaker. Here’s a thought about Spiritual warfare that might work in the story: often the most effective warfare against our enemy, satan, is to not engage him in a wrestling match, but to bypass him entirely and speak directly to the situation a form of blessing. ie. don’t speak a curse over the topless bar in town or spend time rebuking the devil, but pray for the salvation of all those that work there or own the business….that God’s will would be done in their lives. What if the weilders of Dei’lo could speak life to the things around them…the trees to grow as shields, the ground to rise up? There seems to be a conflict (some remnant of good left) within the hearts of many of the Jalen… perhaps speaking to that would provide an attack of sorts?
anyway-your story telling is wonderful and I appreciate the fact that you are persevering to finish this race well!!
That’s a really intriguing idea, Sheri! Thanks. I’ll definitely think on it!
First off, I would like to say the blog is a great idea, it gives readers a voice and that is a new perspective. I’ve enjoyed your past 2 novels, and as an avid reader, that comes as a compliment in a high regard. For some tips: paragraph 6, change “unliving Storm” to “lifeless storm” and the whole idea of a word of death In Dei’lo is unnerving, I even get the feeling from brasen that it just isn’t right, maybe change it to a word of finality or an end of some sort, maybe not stopping his heart but ending its beat, a kind of calling home like saying your time is up. Just an idea. I’ve notice you tend to have a lot of run-ons, not that they hurt anything but aesthetics are important. Also I would advise using more context clues. Sometimes I find myself wondering what some of these Dei’lo and Sa’lei languages mean, it might be a good idea to include an index as well. Keep up on the great work, I’m excited to read more and hopefully help some.
"...a work of extreme depth and breadth of vision."
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Michael D. Warden has been working professionally as a writer and editor since 1989. After several years as Managing Editor for a large publishing house in Colorado, he stepped into the adventure of writing full time. In addition to his fantasy trilogy The Pearlsong Refounding, he has written several non-fiction books, and contributed to more than 150 other books and magazines.