Jonathan J Michael

Season of Suffering – Book Update

Writing part time and trying to balance a full time job, a family, personal health, etc. is nothing new to the creative world and I’m just one of many who do this. But even with all the challenges of time, I am making good progress on the second book in the Blood of Azure series.

With approximately 60,000 words typed, I am about 30% complete with the first draft. I hope to be in the final stages of editing by the end of 2020, but only time will tell. Both a benefit and an anchor is the lack of deadlines when self-publishing.

With three main characters to follow in this series, I am opening up the world of Azure to a deeper look at the magic systems (or Seasonal Sciences as the people of Azure call it), a larger view of the world they inhabit and I’m going to attempt battle scenes on a large scale. I also hope to draw out the importance of balance in life and the consequences if you push too far one way.

Here’s a sample from what I’ve accomplished thus far in Season of Suffering.


Jaymes

Thunderbugs dart in and out of the bushes.  The great oaks tower above creating cover from the serein tickling my face.  The sun sinks below the horizon.  The only difference from a season past, is that I can see the horizon and I need not fear the dark.  I can embrace it.

“Unbelievable!  I’m back at this tedious tigershit,” I mutter aloud.  Only the oaks are around to listen.  Maybe a few peeping critters.  I swing my handcrafted net toward the bushes and snag a few thunderbugs.  I pull a jar from my haversack and dump ‘em in.

“Should be enough.”  I hold the jar in front of my face and bolts of ionized plasma flow between the energized insects as they get in close proximity to one another.  Small claps sound off, but the jar mostly muffles them.

I toss the jar back into my haversack and traipse through the dark wood back to camp.  I prefer the dark these days.  A thunder lantern comes in handy from time to time, but I’d rather not prance about in the open woods with a bright beacon telling anyone and anything of my whereabouts.  That would be stupid.

A flock of quail stir from the brush, fluttering past me.  They land several paces away and scurry off with their tiny legs.  Cute.  And brilliantly fast for such little creatures.  Not faster than a missile, however.

I pull my fukiya from my belt and blow a dart in the direction of the flock.  Dinner.  If only Stone and Goose could see me now.  Assholes.  Never let me hunt a day in my life.  I wasn’t capable in their minds. I had to collect the thunderbugs and the fucking berries.  I miss ‘em.

I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.  I wonder if they’re alive.  There’s a good chance Harris finally executed them.

I push the thought of family to the wayside.  It’s not good for me to dwell on what I have no control over . They’re gone.  Whether they’re dead or not is irrelevant.

I continue back to my ruin of a camp.  The sun is gone.  Cerise’s red ambiance is hardly fulfilling the light that the sun stole away.  But I’m fond of the red ambience.  It’s more comforting than the bright light of the sun.

There is another rustle in the undergrowth.  I pull out my fukiya, ready to aim.  I rarely take more than needed, but prepping for the next meal is hardly taking more than necessary.

A low, meaty groan erupts.  The bushes shake violently, and a large brown bear emerges.  It’s lips curl, baring its teeth, and it unleashes another gritty groan.

I slide the fukiya back in my belt and withdraw my kukri blade.  It’s a bit small to overcome a bear.  Merely the length of my forearm.  It’ll just piss it off.  But I only need to get close to defend myself.

I back away, not taking my eyes off the beast.  I lift my feet high, taking caution not to stumble over any forest debris.  I refuse to be an imbecile.  That’s not what Ellia trained me to be.  I am a shadow.

The bear approaches.

Where are the cats?  They have watched over me since my revival and now that danger approaches their protection lacks.  I’m destined to live in solitude now that I’ve claimed the independence I sought after.

I don’t want to kill it.  But it thinks me a meal.  My petite frame is deceiving in the wood.  Prey in the eyes of the beasts.  But a shadow is never prey.  Nor is it a predator.  A shadow is a balance of nature.  If only there was a way to feign a mighty giant to ward it off.

It won’t back down.  I sheath my kukri and turn to run.

Light on my feet, I swiftly move through the dark, skimming past the giant oaks.  I don’t hear anything crashing behind me, but I continue to sprint until I make it to the ruins where I’ve setup camp.

A fire ought to deter the beast.  I pull the thunderbugs from my haversack and place it on the ground.  I gather wood and pile it up, accompanied with mildly damp brush.

For sake of time, I grab the jar and throw it into the pile of wood.  A surge of light erupts as the glass shatters, followed by a small boom of thunder.  But the brush doesn’t light.  No fire, and now my thunder lantern is gone as well.  I crouch down to get my hands dirty with steel and flint.

I scrape my blade on a stone and generate plenty of sparks, but no flame.  I wish I could create fire with my Talent.  Instead, I get rot.  I continue hacking at the stone.

A loud roar bellows behind me.  I rise to my feet, slashing my blade in a whirl.  The bear is several paces away.  It stands upright, towering three times my height.

“Go!  Get out of here!  I don’t want to kill you!  Just go!”

The beast drops on all four and charges.

I do the same.  When I get close enough, I leap into the air.  The bear halts and lifts a paw to swipe at me.  It tears into my side, but I manage to accomplish what I intended.  I grab its scruff and whip myself around onto its back.  With my kukri, I stab it in the throat.  It’s not enough.  I remove the blade, tossing it aside, then I jab my fist into the open wound.  The bear is raging, heaving me up and down, but I hold on tight.  I feel around, softening its sinew until I find its spine.  I grab hold of it and focus.  Moments later, the bear collapses.

“You forced it.”  I lay my head down on the bear, the coarse fur rough on my cheek.  I close my eyes.

I open my eyes.  How much time has passed?  Cerise continues to shed light in the surrounding meadow, so I couldn’t have been out for too long.  The light drizzle has saturated my clothes, but it provides more benefit than misery for it has also knocked the smell down.  Thank Susy.  No scavengers have turned me into a meal.

I notice an unusual warmth casting away the damp chill.  A fire blazes before me.  I snap to my feet and reach for my blade.  It isn’t there.  The firelight is too bright.  I can’t see beyond it, but someone is here.

“Not quite up to the standards of the Shadow, I would say.”  A deep voice sounds from the darkness.  I can’t see him.

“I’m not the Shadow.”

“No, you aren’t.  But…”  He walks closer.  I can only see the white of his eyes until he gets close enough to the fire.  His presence would send bears running.  What a shame he didn’t come sooner.  But I’m not afraid.  “…you’re…alive.”

“And, unfortunately, so are you.”

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