Exploring the Five Orders: Guardians

No magical secret society would be complete without its dedicated protectors. In the Stonebearer universe these are the Order of the Guardians. Not only do they protect the society’s interests, they also lead its defense in times of war and unrest. In this latest era of the world, they must step forward again to counter the dark forces rising up from the barrier between worlds.

Image by Torulus from Pixabay

Most guardians tend to stay at the Stonebearer stronghold, Amul Dun, to protect those living there against attack and to train and refine their skills. After the last war, far fewer guardians returned to the keep. Many were killed. Of those who survived, some stayed away because they sought peace deep in the isolated villages far from the cities.

A Stonebearer Guardian must possess the talent to strengthen both physical and intangible objects with their power. This means any weapon in their hands becomes unbreakable, any armor, impenetrable. As long as they have the strength to cast the glyphs, they are untouchable.

As with the other orders, guardians must train hard to develop their skills. They learn fighting techniques from those who have mastered various fighting styles over centuries of effort. Many legends have stemmed from lone guardians fighting against impossible odds.

The most notable guardians in Stonebearer’s Betrayal are Katira’s father, Jarand and his trusted friend who’s stood by his side in the worst of times, Issa.


If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

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Exploring the Five Orders: Healers

In the Stonebearer universe there are those who possess a magical power called the Khandashii. This power manipulates matter. Specific abilities and skills are determined by the strengths and talents of the user. Today we explore the Healing order of Stonebearers.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

What’s the use of magic and the ability to change the reality of the world, if it can’t be used to help someone? For Healers, the call to help those who are sick or injured is the strongest and best way they fulfill the drive to make the world better.

Just like today’s medical professionals, to become a Stonebearer Healer requires rigorous study and training. They must have a working understanding of how the body functions down to the most minute details. Without this knowledge, using healing magic is useless.

Those who become Stonebearer Healers must have a talent in using the parts of the power that make broken things whole. With this power, healers can knit back together bones, ligaments, tendons, and tissues that have been injured. To some extent they can also draw away viruses, bacteria, and toxins.

Most Stonebearer Healers venture out into the world to ply their trade in small towns and villages, places where they can do the most good. The use of magic is feared by the world at large so this is a challenge. However, in life or death situations when there are no other options, they will use their power to make the difference.

Healers featured in Stonebearer’s Betrayal include Mirelle, Katira’s mother, Firen, the Head of the Healing order, and his assistant Cassim.

I would totally stick Bill Nighy in as Firen, but I can’t find him in anything but a suit and tie. Go figure.


If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

***

Thanks for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Exploring the Five Orders: Seekers

The defining characteristic of books in the fantasy genre is the existence of magic and/or magical creatures. Last month, we explored the magic used by the Traveling order in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. This month’s focus is the Order of the Seekers.

Photo by j zamora on Unsplash

For many, both in fantastical worlds and also here in the real world, the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong process that is both gratifying and compelling. Researchers, writers, documentary creators, and news reporters (to name a few) all seek out the facts they need to prove a point, entertain, inform, or improve the world around them.

Seekers are no different, except they have magic at their disposal. Where a Traveler can manipulate the location of themselves, items, and others, a Seeker can use their magic to locate items and facts. Some seekers are rumored to even be able to peer into time itself and see the past or future to an extent.

Most seekers prefer working as historians and spend their days recording their insights on significant events. Some, however, choose to be informants and use their skill to uncover plots and learn the truth behind circulating rumors.

The darker side of those in the seeker order is the unsavory practice of extracting information from those who don’t wish to give it. Stonebearer society has strict rules governing when and if this practice can be allowed.

As we said when we were learning about Travelers, the use of the power is inherently dangerous. Seekers tend to be the safest of the five orders as it’s difficult to overextend oneself.

The most notable Seekers in the first book in the Stonebearer series are Bremin, the High Lady Alystra’s master spy and Regulus, Isben’s master and Wrothe’s first victim.

If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

***

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Exploring the Five Orders: Travelers

Back in January, I shared a little about the magic system that exists in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Today I’d like to dive deeper into the magic system and talk more about Travelers.

Where would you go if you could magically Travel?

Star Trek fans can appreciate the science and technology surrounding the idea of teleportation and how useful it can be. If you can move from one place to another in moments rather than hours, a whole new reality presents itself. With this ability, escaping from danger or running to the rescue can happen in a heartbeat. No prison can hold a Traveler and no location is secure, unless protected by a greater magic.

In the Stonebearer universe, the use of magic is dangerous and therefore those who possess it must use caution. Those who have a talent for Traveling, are able to manipulate objects and themselves through space using a series of magical symbols or glyphs.

The most important rule a Traveler must adhere to is that they can only send themselves the same distance they can travel on foot in the course of a day. Pushing to move themselves farther than this drains their energy beyond what is considered safe and they risk loss of consciousness or even death.

When sending objects, a Traveler must consider the items weight and the distance. The lighter the item, the further it can be sent. This is why Travelers tend to be great spies. Not only can they escape from danger, they can send messages to someone days away. The places they can travel to, or send things to, are limited to where a Traveler has visited personally.

The energy to work all magic, including Traveling glyphs, comes from within and can be replenished with rest and time. In an emergency they can draw this energy from other people, but avoid doing so.

Dame Judi Dench would make an amazing Lady Alystra

In Stonebearer’s Betrayal, the most conspicuous Traveler is the High Lady Alystra. Not only is she the head of the Stonebearer Society, she is head of the Traveling Order. She uses her power to maintain lines of communication among the Society as a whole and has a network of spies that help her stay informed. Her head spy is Bremin, a member of the order of Seekers and her bonded companion.

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If you love a great magic system, you’ll love Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Get your copy from Amazon today!

***

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Magical Places, Mont-Saint-Michel

Castle and monastery, church and fortress, Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France has been a bit of everything over its thousand-year plus history. Which is what makes it perfect material for a post here on the blog, where I seek to find magic everyday.

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Mont-Saint-Michel at Sunset

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love ancient castles and churches. My Instagram is loaded with gorgeous pictures of them because they stir my imagination and tell so many stories.

 

I visited Mont-Saint-Michel when I was a young naive teenager. At the time, it was just another wonderful place to visit in a series of interesting places I’d been on a long trip through France. Looking back, I wished I had taken more time to soak in the history. I’m making up for that now.

The earliest history of the island extends back to the 8th century, when the island was called Mont Tombe. “Tombe” meaning grave in Latin evokes the feeling of a graveyard or a final resting place. There is a secondary, and far more fitting, translation as “mount hillock” meaning a raised place. For anyone who has visited the island, it fits this description well. From base to tip, the island rises over 260 feet out of the ocean, and all of it rocky unforgiving granite. I remember my legs burning as we trekked up the steep streets toward the monastery.

According to legend, in 708 AD Archangel Michael appeared to Aubery, bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church in the Archangel’s honor. The bishop repeatedly ignored this heavenly visitor, a truly bad idea, until Saint Michael burned a hole into the bishop’s skull with his finger. The church was built October 16, 709 and devoted to Saint Michael. Mont-Saint-Michel literally means “Saint Michael Mount.”

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Saint Michael Iconography

The location of the island is unique as it historically it could only be reached during low tide and was surrounded by silty sand that was prone to becoming quicksand. This made the island easy to defend as the assailants couldn’t continue their fight for risk of drowning.

 

It was also halfway between the two power Duchies of Normandy and Brittany during the early Middle Ages, which made it the target of the two powers and through the ages it changed hands frequently. At one point it was invaded by Vikings.

Fast forward to 1204, the Breton Guy de Thouars, an ally to the King of France, tried to take the island in a siege. In the process, he accidentally set the main buildings of the monastery on fire, destroying the very same buildings he wanted to occupy. The King of France at the time, Philip Augustus, or Philip II, was horrified that a holy site was damaged in connection to him and offered funds for a major restoration and expansion which included many of the Gothic style buildings we see today.

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Courtyard with Gothic arches

Throughout the following hundreds of years the island continued to be an area of dispute. Each successive conqueror added and destroyed parts of the island’s structures until we reach the present day. For more history, there are references below.

 

Modern day Mont-Saint-Michel can be reached by a long bridge built specially to allow the flow of tidewater underneath. Thrill seekers are still allowed to approach over the sand during low tide, however there are signs everywhere warning of the dangers of quicksand.

Do you have a favorite castle or magical place? Share about it in the comments below and I might do a feature on it in the future.

References:

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Update

I swear I’m not teasing you about doing a cover reveal. It will happen, and it looks like it might be by next week’s post. This week we pinned down a few more needed pieces to create the advance review copies for distribution. If you love reading epic fantasy, and even better, love giving reviews, please send me a note!

Also, I’ll be at the Eagle Mountain Writing Conference this weekend. If you are there, come say hi!

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Magical Places: The Kelpies

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The Kelpies are 30 meter tall (nearly 100 feet) horse head sculptures in Falkirk, Scotland and were finished in October of 2013. They opened to the public in April of this year. They commemorate the completion of a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Historically, Kelpies are mythological water creatures that have inhabited Scotland’s waterways and lochs for thousands of years. They can appear in many forms, including human, but are most commonly associated with horses and are said to have the strength and endurance of 10 horses.

In the Falkirk area horses have played a major role in the economy and industry and were used to pull the wagons, ploughs, barges, and coalships along the canals. The sculptures pay homage to this heritage.

From the Wikipedia entry:

According to sculptor Andy Scott “The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures.”[7] “I took that concept and moved with it towards a more equine and contemporary response, shifting from any mythological references towards a socio-historical monument intended to celebrate the horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses.”[8] 

According to Scott the end result would be “Water-borne, towering gateways into The Helix, the Forth & Clyde Canal and Scotland, translating the legacy of the area into proud equine guardians.”[7]

Read more about the Kelpies:

Fiction Friday: Izis of Velchi

At last I’m going to share part of a fantasy story with you.  This tale was meant to be a short story but as with most fantasy pieces I set out to create, it has grown during the course of the writing and now is begging to be part of something much bigger.  I like it enough that it might become part of the novel trilogy I’m writing.  Enjoy!

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The fickle breeze of Autumn carried the scent of brittle leaves and the promise of early snow.  It teased the deep hood of Lianea’s cloak and spun her earth colored hair into ribbons as she walked the ancient pathway.  Here, folded deep within the Velchin wood, she sought a cure for the illness plaguing her village and her dear brother Liandro.

As she drew closer to the glade the sky grew darker, the air pressed up against her, stealing her breath.  She clutched the handle of the short dagger she wore at her waist, knowing it would do her no good but reassuring all the same. With each step the dark press of air grew more eager, more oppressive. The village elder had warned her that there would be forces that would try to stop her from crossing into the glade, that she must not give them heed.

She forced her way through the stone archway and as she passed the darkness lifted. Inside the small glade stood an alter and statue of Izis, goddess of knowledge of the past and future, one hand cupped before her, the other over her heart.  The green veined marble had been worn by the wind and weather, moss grew along the folds of her long robe..  Lianea felt the statues eyes upon her as soon as she had entered.

As prescribed by the elder, Lianea lit the tallow candle and cupped her hand around it as she set it into the small hole in the low alter.  The flame seemed too weak in the failing light, too fragile for such a task.  The townspeople had said the same about her when she demanded to leave and seek help.

On either side of the candle she set the four required items, a blue feather, the blood of a dying man, a silver coin, and a rose crystal from the mines of Turah.  This last she admired in the flickering candle light, never having imagined that a place filled with such sorrow would contain a wealth of something so beautiful.  There in Turah her guide had met his untimely end when he stumbled and fell from one of the high ledges in the mine. She set the crystal next to the vial filled with his blood.

Dusky twilight filtered through the branches as the moon made its journey across the blanketed sky.  Lianea recited the first incantation as she poured the dark contents of the vial into the hands of Izis. As she did, a cold mist trickled into the glade.  While reciting the second incantation she dipped the feather in the blood and then used it to draw the broken circle slashed with five lines, a symbol of submission and humility.  The mist gathered around the statue, boiling and churning at Lianea’s feet.

With the third and final incantation she held the silver coin to the flame until it stung her fingertips and then pressed it into her outstretched wrist.  She clenched her teeth, holding back a gasp of pain as the coin burned a circle into her skin.  Izis required a token of suffering.  As she spoke, the mist drew itself up around the statue, covering it like a shroud. It pulled the flame from the candle into itself until it began to glow with its own ghostly light.

Lianea’s heart raced, screaming at her to flee the clearing as the once statue came to life before her.  She willed her feet to stay firm, she could not fail, not after coming so far. Liandro needed her to be strong. She placed the rose crystal in the palm of her hand and the other hand over her heart, the last offering.

A voice whispered through the trees. “Too long have I waited for an offering from the children of this world, too long.” The voice trailed off, but the presence of the spirit of Izis remained strong, studying Lianea. “You have suffered much child, I feel it within you. Speak your request. If it is within my power, I will grant it.”

Lianea drew in a breath, she was the last hope for Liandro and all those of her village who had fallen ill. If she failed, the sickness would claim them all, herself included.  “Oh Great One, the people of my village are dying of a sickness.  The elders have never seen it’s like. I petitioned them to leave and seek help.”

The mist rose up around Lianea, brushing her face. The gesture reminded her of times when her mother would stroke her cheek to sooth her. As the mist touched her a flood of images from the last few weeks filled her mind.  People crying, clutching wives, fathers, and children in their arms before returning them to the earth.  So many. Dark bruises covering arms, legs, and faces. People moaning, consumed by fever. Her own brother, pale and listless on his cot.

Lianea sagged to her knees, overwhelmed.  The mist withdrew.

“There is hope little one. I will grant you knowledge of those who can help.  You must seek them out.”

The mist rose towards Lianea’s face once more and she flinched as it brushed her skin. This time images of people she had never met and towns she had never visited filled her mind, teaching her and filling her with a peace she hadn’t known since before the sickness began. She knew what she had to do.

…to be continued…