Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for New Kyoto



The rain had stopped by the time Yoshiro reached the shrine.  The surrounding forest was steeped in blackness, but hanging lanterns lit the stairs that wound through it.  The depth of the shadows made the open gateway at the top look ominous, a skeletal figure crouched over the path, forbidding the unwelcome. 
Am I unwelcome?
Yoshiro stood at the base of the stairs for a long moment to rest on that thought, and then started up them, resenting the moment he’d taken.  

Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

From Darkside
Available from Raventide Books 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Morenne



“The Seminary is legendary and a source of much wonder to anyone raised under the awareness that it exists.  The men and women who serve there, who live there for centuries upon centuries without aging, are equally curious to us.  Lord Ashwin could be the very Father of Heaven, for all we know.  There are several who would…who do believe that he is.  To those people, the rest of you mages could be gods as well, and that fascinates them.  Unfortunately, it makes some of them nervous and there are those who harbor some resentment toward you as well.  Why can’t you use your fantastic powers to end this chaos, they wonder?  Why couldn’t your Lord Ashwin save their homes, their fathers and mothers?  This war has gone on for far too long.  Hope has become a precious commodity in these times.”
“You make it sound worse even than it was,” Merran said quietly, respectfully, Korsten believed.
“The borderlands have become more dangerous,” Lars continued.  “The battles are quick and brutal.  Morenne gains two steps for every one we lose.  They will overtake us, Merran.  It is only a matter of time.”
“You can’t believe that, Lars,” Merran told him.  “You can’t let others believe that.”
“It is difficult to think otherwise for those of us who still have only one lifetime, my friend.”
            “It is difficult for those of us who have several,” Korsten offered with a small smile.  He was surprised when Lars smiled at him in return.  The expression was only half-hearted, but it was there just the same.  

Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

Available from Raventide Books 


Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lower Yvaria



After a long night watching the others sleep, guarding the tent from within while Gai Ping and the other guards did so from without, Xu Liang rose and emerged into the coldest morning yet.  It was cold, but the sky was changed, clear as the rising sun failed to penetrate the freeze of the northernmost edge of Lower Yvaria and therefore failed to create a mist of the melting snow.  The snow that had fallen in the night and in the nights previous to their arrival remained, and beneath dawn’s glow it shimmered with a pink hue, like the blushed petals of a plum blossom.  It made Xu Liang think of the lower regions of Ying and an intense yearning for home tugged at his heart.  His eyes felt suddenly warm against the chill air.
“Where are the fire sprites?” Fu Ran asked as he came outside.  Xu Liang could almost hear the man’s big muscles yawning with him as he stretched his massive frame.  Undoubtedly, he longed for more demanding exercise than simply plodding through the snow.  Xu Liang hoped he would not transform his restlessness into recklessness.
“They made their own camp just south of our own,” Xu Liang finally answered.
Fu Ran looked in the mentioned direction, then laughed.  “Herding the oxen to slaughter!”
“I do not believe so, Fu Ran,” Xu Liang said, more sharply than he might have weeks ago.  He was rapidly growing weary with this small-scale turmoil.  Give him rebellious kingdoms and their vast armies to deal with.  He had taken about all he could of bandits and shadows, and individuals assaulting one another.  These people knew nothing of war.  They knew nothing of its art or its etiquette. 
Just before Xu Liang resorted to measuring these realms and their people in varying degrees of savagery and ignorance, the knight who’d personally paid tribute to barbarism in its purest example not so long ago, stumbled sleepily out of the tent.  He slipped in the deep snow, but kept his balance and looked at the sea of blushed white shimmering beneath the morning sky as it spanned in all directions, as far as the eye could see. 
The knight actually gasped, and said softly, “It’s beautiful.”
With those two words, Xu Liang looked again at the Flatlands of Lower Yvaria and wondered how long he’d been blind to so simple a fact.  He’d been affected by the difficulty of this journey far worse than he’d let himself believe.  And now his hand ached for a brush.  However, as he looked closer at the featureless beauty of the landscape, he realized that even with a brush in his hand and a tablet before him there might be no way to recapture such a scene.  Of course the grace of his painting was in fewer brushstrokes, but there would be so very few to make in this instance.  He decided to commit this sight to memory and to leave it at that. 
To the man who had reopened his eyes, he said, “Yes, it is.”


Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

Available from Raventide Books 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kabuki Town



He exited the shuttle and proceeded through the constant crowd, avoiding contact where able.  A group of adolescents rushed around him to board the shuttle, exchanging words in Japanese.  Their exuberant voices danced past, their energetic presences catching and folding around him briefly in passing, as if they’d been running with long streamers of fabric.  Luka kept moving, but he paused internally, smiling invisibly before the sensation was rinsed roughly away in the flow of humanity.  Escalators eventually carried him up to street level, where he traversed the expansive main terminal to rows of automated doors leading outside.  
The distinct flavors of Kabuki Town glowed in countless layers overhead.  Luka joined the current of pedestrian traffic, which in this area covered a large space beneath the Xpander.  Stands and kiosks occupied the plaza in semi-neat rows beneath holographic lanterns in traditional shapes, lit awnings, and light standards towering several stories high.  The street and one of the connecting arms of the largest elevated highway in the city lay several meters ahead.  A sheet of liquid reflection was cast across the pavement in evidence of a recent and brief rain.  Moisture still lingered coolly in the air, which was also saturated with the sounds cast from people, music originating from various sources, and a pair of large monitors mounted high on two of the buildings bordering the plaza.

Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

From Darkside
Available from Raventide Books 


Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jigoku



            His footsteps resounded through the open corridor, like the echo of a pulse rattling against ancient bones.  Gray light filtered through the walls of smudged and broken glass that lined either side of the passage he walked, forming dismal pockets of shadow behind and ahead of him.  Outside, a light rain whispered against the building, weighing down the already heavy air; thick with chill and moisture, and the constant smog generated by dust and filth that had accumulated during years of neglect.
            Yoshiro glanced out at the overcast sky, letting his gaze drop gradually from the crowded yet broken skyline to the streets below, as empty as the corridors above them.  Highways, both elevated and at surface level, lingered in disuse among a vast collection of decaying towers.  All of it had fallen into an irreversible state of ruin, brought about by error that had rapidly become disaster, leaving death and abandonment in its wake.  The emptiness Yoshiro felt in an area of this scope was comparable only to a star having fallen in on itself, all of its brilliance burned away and a cold, barren emptiness remaining.
            Jigoku.  Hell.

Copyright ©  T.A. Miles 

From a forthcoming title in the Children of Bhast series
Book one available from Raventide Books

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Indhovan



The buildings loomed overhead, eyes seeming to peer over the roofs at them in the form of many lanterns—light seemed something Indhovan was fond of, in spite of the fact that more light seemed to only cast more shadow.  The sea air felt heavy, full of presence.  There was a current beneath it…an energy.  Korsten wanted to ask Merran if he felt it, but the chase was upon them, announced only by Merran’s sudden falling into quicker motion.  Looking in the direction his colleague was headed, Korsten saw what he needed to; a figure slightly bent in shape, but no slower for it, charging along the edge of the shadows.

Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

From Blood Song, sequel to Blood Lilies
Available from Raventide Books 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Haddowyn




“I have friends who lost family in Haddowyn when it was taken.  Worse than taken, it’s as if the town simply ceased to exist.  There was no further contact from anyone who had lived there.  Surely some of them must have survived the invasion when it came, and escaped.”
Cayri could see the fear in the woman’s eyes now, as she thought back on something that may have scarred her younger years.  As Cayri understood it, Haddowyn was not invaded, it was swallowed, directly into the mouth of the demon hiding at its core.
Lady Ilayna glanced to the ground, then toward her son as she continued.  She spoke even quieter, as if she wanted no one beyond the two of them to hear.  “Men among the activists have traveled to Haddowyn, seeking survivors.  They found none, not within the town nor its near vicinity.  There was not one living soul within the entire area.  For a place taken by enemy forces, one would think it occupied...one would expect to find evidence of battle.  Granted this was some years after it fell, but the men who went were met with desolation.  By their description it looked a place that no one had been for a century or more.  It chills me to consider what may have befallen those people.”


Copyright ©  T.A. Miles

From Bloods Song, sequel to Blood Lilies
Available from Raventide Books