New & Improved Updated Updates!

Wow, I pretty much abandoned this site, but life got busy. I’m working at a school in a PDD preschool room and I got my teacher license.

I’ve also been lazy about writing, so things are in various states of completion (or non-completion, rather.)

I think my characters are mad about this. But anyways…

The other night, I was searching my hard drive for The Faerstone, the sequel to The Brumal Star. I could not find it anywhere and then lo and behold, it popped up on a search in a random folder. I probably thought I was being clever and organized but managed to hide it from myself.

picard-facepalm

This tiny manuscript is far from being complete, but I do have the first couple of chapters finished. Apologies for wonky formatting.

Chapter 1
Sorrel the Chirelien flexed his wings as he waited under the Warde’s oak tree in their front yard. He’d been outfitted with a custom leather saddle (“but you can forget about a bridle and reins, thank you very much. Nobody’s pulling on my head.”)
His request was only fair. The giant bats were unused to having riders.
Lorica ran her fingers along the smooth verrew wood of Jamison’s crossbow. The undulating cursive script decorating it to ensure it would never fail was still as clear as the day they’d been painted on.
“Are you sure you want to part with this?” she asked.
“I’d feel better with it in your hands,” Jamison said, checking the girth’s buckles again.  “Just in case, of course.”
“Don’t shoot anyone unless you really need to,” said Lorica’s father, Edmund. As Captain of their township’s law enforcement, Reathe Guard, Edmund wished to prevent any unnecessary weapon use.
Especially when his only daughter was traveling to her mother’s homeland of Cirreket for the first time.
Lorica made a face. “I won’t!”
It never occurred to her to. Hopefully the dangers Edmund warned her about were exaggerated but at least she’d have Sorrel with her.
Getting the Chirelien into Cirreket unnoticed was her biggest worry. Nobody there had ever seen one, as far as she knew.
Edmund’s old army friend, Sergeant Reese Gage, was going to meet her once she reached Cirreket’s capital city. From there, she would be visiting the mage school, Cirrakel Araskolsa.
“Post a letter the moment you land,” Edmund said.
“I will,” Lorica said.
“You’re sure you have everything?” Edmund asked. “Traveling papers, money?”
She smiled. “I’ve got everything I need. Don’t worry.”
Edmund put his hands on her shoulders. “At least I know you’re leaving this time.”
Lorica gave him a half grin. Her last experience away from home had been hastily planned and had ended with her, Jamison, and their bat friend Scout nearly getting killed.
 Chapter 2
The first thing Lorica Warde noticed when she arrived in Cirrakel, the capital city of Cirreken, was the grotesque stink of gandraa dung. Gandraas— bulky, herbivorous pack animals with glossy deep brown hides and horns that spanned fourteen arm-lengths, were native to this southern land. They ate a quarter of their weight in grain a day and then relieved themselves all over the cobblestone streets.
It had taken them a little over a week of flying to get there. By traveling at night, they avoided most people so as not to raise any suspicion. Lorica had left Sorrel to rest in the tall grass at the base of the Verena Mountains on the outskirts of the city.
Lorica swatted away the flies buzzing around heaps of dung and pushed her way through the throngs of people crowding the avenue in a riot of colors, smells, and sounds.
People rushed by, hurrying to get from one place to the next but hampered by the swell of bodies. Parents scolded their children and vendors yelled instructions at their workers as they took orders.
The jingle of coins being pressed into hands, the hiss of meats being cooked over open fires, tangy smell of the roasting yellow vegetables called fuiral that grew in this region surrounded her.
“Hot daurebread for the red-haired miss,” called a man in Cirreken. His dusty
robes swished as he pointed to his cart filled with steaming, golden brown folded triangles. “Fresh from the oven to your mouth.”
Lorica breathed in the cinnamon bite wafting in the warm air. Her stomach growled. She hadn’t eaten since she and Sorrel arrived early that morning. “How much?”
Although she’d practiced Cailreth to Cirreken currency exchange with her father, making change with the denominations was tricky.
“Three poerets. But I’d give you as many as will fill your belly if you’d entertain me at my home for a few hours.” He winked and flashed stained teeth.
Lorica grimaced. “Entertain?”
The man stretched out his callused fingers to stroke Lorica’s hair.
She swerved out of his reach. “What are you doing?”
“You don’t wish for me to touch? I don’t see many with hair that color.”
“You can’t be serious,” she said. “My mother had hair the same color, and she was Cirreken born. It’s not that rare.”
 The man’s smile vanished. “I thought it would bring me luck.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” she said. “Don’t try that again.”
“You don’t mean that,” he leered, and reached over to stroke her hair again.
Lorica slapped his hand away. “I said don’t touch me. Who do you think you are?”
Gasps came from watchers the next stall over.
His dark eyes grew cold, like two black stones. “You disrespect me. You won’t get away with this. Someone, summon the guards!”
“You can’t just touch people whenever you want,” she said.
“Disrespectful bitch! I will see to it that you’re properly punished.” Spittle flecked his thin lips.
Sellers in neighboring stalls stopped what they were doing and stared. Passersby slowed down to watch, murmuring to each other. It wasn’t every day they had this kind of excitement.
“What are all of you looking at?” she said. “He has no right to touch me.”
Rage clouded the man’s face. He lunged towards her. His wooden cart crashed to the ground. Daurebread rolled off the cart onto the dusty street. A few people grabbed them and stuffed them down their clothes or into their satchels. The kooras birds that had been lazily pecking at crumbs among the cobblestones scattered to the faded awning overhead.
The vendor clutched Lorica’s shirt and tore the sleeve.
“Hey, what are you doing!” she shouted, twisting away from him. “Get your hands off me!”
He waved his free hand. The other he had clamped onto Lorica’s shoulder. “Guards, arrest this miserable tripe!”
He kicked and swore at the people trying to scavenge his daurebread.
Two guards dressed in bronze breastplates over scarlet tunics strode up to them. The sun glinted off their conical helmets. They had curved swords in leather scabbards and shields decorated with concentric rings.
“What’s going on here?” asked the taller, older of the two. He had sharp, angular features and precisely trimmed facial hair.
Lorica wrenched herself out of the vendor’s grip, casting filthy looks at the open-mouthed crowd of onlookers gathered around them.
 “This bitch disrespects me,” croaked the vendor. “She thinks she’s too good for Raivan the daurebread seller.”
Lorica stared daggers at Raivan. “He thinks he can touch me whenever he wants!”
The other guard ignored him and instead studied Lorica’s face with an expression as inscrutable as a snake’s. His blue eyes flicked over her dusty clothes and curious-looking crossbow with symbols etched into it, but what especially caught his interest was her Cailreth Army-issue pack.
“I recognize that pack. You don’t live here, do you?” he said.
“No, I’m from Cailreth.” She stared at his unlined face. A sweaty lock of black hair stuck to his forehead. How could he be one of their city guard? He didn’t look like he was much older than she was.
“What about the crossbow? Magically enhanced? Have you got a permit for it?” he asked.
Heat crept into Lorica’s face. “I do.”
“This foreign bitch—” Raivan started to say.
“Enough!” the bearded guard said.
“Let’s see your traveling papers,” said the blue-eyed one. “What business do you have in Cirrakel?” He rested his hand on his sword’s pommel. It was in the shape of a snarling panther: Cirreket’s national symbol.
Lorica rummaged in her pack and handed the papers over to the guards.
“Tarquin, look at this,” the bearded guard said to his partner. “Says she’s a healer.”
Tarquin read her papers. “Fully trained? I’ll believe it when I see it, Faas.”
“I’m here to visit the Araskolsa,” she said. “I came to study as part of my work.”
“Healer?” Raivan spat. “Probably a charlatan like all the rest.”
“I’m not a charlatan,” she said. “I trained as a physician’s assistant until I earned—”
Shouts and screams and broke out behind them. Lorica heard the whooshing of very large wings. Her stomach dropped.
The crowd dove out of the way, knocking each other over as they fell. Some made signs with their hands to ward off evil.
“Demon, demon!” someone shrieked.
Lorica groaned. So much for Sorrel’s promise to stay hidden until she could make it back to the rock shelter at the foot of the mountains.
“Get away from her,” Sorrel hissed.
His wrinkled snout revealed his gleaming sharp teeth. He clawed lines into the dark cobblestones. His tail swept the ground in serpentine movements.
Lorica clenched her fists. “Sorrel, I told you to stay put!”
The guards drew their swords.
“What—what is this?” Faas shouted.
“Tell them to put away their swords, Lorica,” Sorrel said.
“Stop!” Lorica shouted. “Put your weapons away.”
“Sorceress!” Raivan said, pointing at her from under his upturned cart. “She speaks to the creature as if it understands.”
She spun around and glared. “Of course he understands.”
“Tell them again to put their swords away,” Sorrel growled, “before I use my teeth.”
“Guards, please withdraw your weapons. Sorrel thinks your threatening us.”
“Tell them I will use my teeth,” Sorrel said.
“That thing has a name?” Faas said.
“Calm down, Sorrel.” She went to take a step toward him. The guards’ swords clinked together as they formed an “X” to bar her way.
“We aren’t through here, Lorica. What is this creature and what’s it doing here?” Tarquin asked.
“His name is Sorrel, and he’s a Chirelien. He came with me from Cailreth,” she said.
“I would prefer that he address me,” Sorrel said. “But I suppose that can’t be helped.”
“You know they can’t understand you, Sorrel,” she said.
Sorrel lowered his head with a growl and shook his shaggy, black mane.
Faas raised his sword. “Stay back, stay back.”
“What exactly is a Chirelien?” Tarquin demanded. “And how the hell did that thing get so big?”
“They’re giant bats,” Lorica said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “It’s a long story.”
“Your mutant bat needs to be contained,” Faas said. “If he doesn’t come quietly then it will be on you. And you’re going to have to come with us.”
Bile stung the back of her throat but she remembered her father’s words: Stay calm and don’t lose your head, even in the face of chaos. “What for?”
“For disturbing the peace,” Faas said.
“That’s ridiculous!” she said. “I’m not guilty of anything.”
Sorrel lashed his tail. “Lorica, get on my back. Let’s get out of here, now!”
He moved to get closer to her but a fruit seller nearby had armed himself with a whip. He cracked it at Sorrel’s back.
“Sorrel, look out!” Lorica yelled.
It was the noise more than the smarting sting of pain at the base of his tail that made Sorrel scream and rear up. His wing caught on the stall’s sun-bleached awning and gouged a hole in it. The awning collapsed atop the tiered bins, rolling them forward. Lemons, limes, and oranges rolled everywhere.
Sorrel lunged at the fruit seller and grabbed the whip in his teeth and yanked it out of his hand. People scattered in a frenzy to get away from his claws and teeth.
“Sorrel, fly! Get away from here!” shouted Lorica.
He spat out the frayed whip. “What about you?”
“I’ll take care of myself!”
“I’m not leaving you here with them,” Sorrel said.
“Get out while you can,” she said.
Before the guards could react, Sorrel launched into the air. His tail clipped some of the roof terracotta tiles and sent them smashing to the street. He soared over the marketplace stalls and disappeared over a brick wall.
“Time to go,” Faas said. The guards sheathed their swords and crowded Lorica.
“Wait,” she said. Her mind raced as she scanned the area for an escape. More guards had arrived and blocked her from all sides.
Faas and Tarquin clamped on to Lorica’s arms and steered her down the crowded street. Dirt mixed with sweat and leather stung her nose. She struggled to get out of their grasp but they were too strong.
“Stop fighting,” Tarquin said. “Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.”
Faivan trailed behind them. “What about me? She disrespected me!”
Tarquin whipped his head around. “Go back and clean up your mess, old man.”
“I want to press charges!” Faivan shouted. “Destruction of property!”
Terror curdled in Lorica’s stomach. “Let me go, I haven’t done anything wrong. Where are you taking me?”
“You’re going to the jailhouse until we figure out what to do with that creature,” Faas said.
“You’d better not do anything to hurt Sorrel,” she said.
“You almost caused a riot,” Tarquin said.
“None of this is my fault,” she said. “It all started because the bread seller propositioned me.”
“Well, you’re lucky you didn’t take him up on it, because then you would have been in worse trouble,” Faas said.
“Didn’t you say you know someone from Cailreth Army in the city?” Tarquin asked.
“Sergeant Reese Gage,” she said in a shaky voice. “He knows my father, Captain Edmund Warde of Cailreth 17th regiment.”
“Lucky you,” Faas said. He confiscated her pack and crossbow.
“I can’t believe this,” Lorica said. “This is unjust! I would punch the lot of you in the face if I could.”
“Why don’t you take it easy, Miss Warde,” Tarquin said. “Thing will be much easier for you if you quit fighting.”
“You won’t catch Sorrel,” she said in the haughtiest tone she could muster. “He’s too smart and quick for any of your soldiers.”
“Perhaps we’re more interested in you right now,” Tarquin said, trying not to grin at Lorica’s red face that now matched her fiery hair.
“All of you are going to be very sorry,” she seethed.
They arrived at the jailhouse, and Lorica was escorted to a cell. It was cramped, dark, and smelled like piss. The jailer clanged the door shut.
“Your temporary home until we can get in touch with your father’s friend,” Faas said.
“It’s lovely,” retorted Lorica. “When my father  and Sergeant Gage find out about this, they’ll kick your asses into next year!”
Fass and Tarquin climbed up the narrow stone staircase that led up to the jail’s courtyard. Lorica’s swears and shouts echoed nearly all the way to the top.
“You know, we could have just told her to leave the city,” Tarquin said.
“True,” Faas said, “but I’m curious about this girl’s alleged healing abilities.”
“Why didn’t you ask her to demonstrate, then?” Tarquin asked.
“I want to see how she measures up against the Ghaadeks,” Faas said.
“The Ghaadeks? That cult, you mean?” Tarquin said. “They’re the real charlatans, if you ask me.”
Faas raised his eyebrows. “Be careful how loudly you say that. If the wrong person overheard you…”
Tarquin scowled. “I’m not afraid of them. Besides, we need to contact that sergeant before the so-called healer screams the whole jail deaf.”
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Ransaran Glossary: Coluire Globe

Where I give definitions and background of various objects of interest from the world of Ransara, where The Brumal Star is set.

Coluire globe kol-oo-eer glohb | noun

A glass spherical light fixture, lit by magical means, that gives a soft, yellow glow. Usually kept in the homes and businesses of magic users.

The Brumal Star: Free Preview

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The Brumal Star is available in the Kindle store on Amazon, but here’s a free preview of the first chapter!

Jamison Undrand awaited his death. A binding curse flowed through his bloodstream like hot poison. Every beat of his heart pulled and thickened its dark magic inside of him as he swayed within the circle of his old comrades, the Ablete Calare of Reathe.

The Calare had found him guilty of murdering his wife. His joke of a trial had been a month ago. The Lawgivers had used his words against him, then threw him into a prison cell until they were ready for him to face his doom. That was today.

His accusers dragged him like a disobedient dog to carry out the most severe punishment of magic users’ society: the Darkening Ritual, where they would put a convicted magic user through torments of the mind and body to purge them of their magic.

The Calare stayed bowed in deference to their leader, Broderick Cordale, as he finished preparing the ritual. He gave the signal to Durriken, a thuggish young man he’d chosen to tie Jamison’s blindfold.

A razor wire of alarm stung Durriken’s gut as his reptilian eyes locked with Jamison’s, catching a desperate flash of anger and fear in them.

He grasped Jamison’s shoulders and shoved him into position, slipping the black cloth over his eyes and yanking it with expert savageness.

Jamison’s sight blotted to darkness. The rough sackcloth fabric of the ceremonial death robes scratched and stung his infected skin sores. He sweated under them in spite of the late autumn chill. The back of his head began to ache from the blindfold’s knot pressing into it.

   What are those bastards waiting for? Why can’t they just get this over with?

Broderick spoke.

“The Ablete Calare of Reathe is gathered on this day to carry out punishment as decided by our Lawgivers. If anyone wishes to speak on behalf of the condemned, he’ll do it now.”

No words would save Jamison. His breath had been wasted during the trial, and his strength was gone from the journey here. He could only guess what was to come.

   Somebody say something! They won’t. No, they won’t.They could, but they wouldn’t dare.Bunch of cowards, every single one of them.

“To undergo the Darkening Ritual is a fate worse than death. A magus without magic is nothing. Let it begin,” Broderick said.

The Calare raised their arms above them like conductors of a malevolent orchestra. Streams of gray light emanated from their fingers and formed a gelatinous, writhing mass. It was alive, animated by their magic. They aimed it above Jamison.

The blood pulse in his ears muted their chanted words and jumbled them together in his mind. Heaviness closed out his thoughts. He teetered and sunk on the flat, dead grass.

Cold slime spattered onto his neck. It smelled like something fetid they had dredged up from a sewer. Sticky tendrils stretched from the orb and trailed, fingerlike, along his exposed skin. They left a burn like frostbite across his cheek. He tried to shrink away from their touch, but his body would not obey.

His bowels clenched as it crawled over his lips and slipped inside his mouth. He tried to spit it back out, but every part of his physical body had been made docile by their enchantments.

The blindfold was a small mercy; it blocked the sight of it, but it allowed the rest of his senses to become engorged with overmastering fear.

It bubbled in a thickened glob and inched down his throat. His coughing and retching spread it further inside of him. He struggled to breathe through his nose in short, stifling breaths that didn’t fill his lungs up all the way while the nameless horror slid all the way down and pooled at the bottom of his stomach.

A watery churning spread through his guts, along with searing jolts of pain. It stung him now from within, hot and sharp.

More oozed under his robes and wrapped around his skin like a freezing wet sheet.

A memory flitted across his mind: a moonless night one winter when his army battalion was forced to bivouac without enough equipment during a military exercise. That cold had been bone deep, but it was nothing compared to this. This cold sank into every cell and nerve and went beyond physical. It invaded his mind and soul.

Chattering teeth rattled his skull like machinery, making him bite his tongue. Blood and drool leaked out the side of his mouth.

   Gods, make it end. Make it end. I don’t care who answers.

The gods, if they existed, had forgotten to concern themselves with the day-to-day happenings on Ransara and were unmoved by his pleas.

The sorcerers’ chanting swelled. A pressure settled on his chest, as if someone was sitting on him.

Conjured-up images of his wife filled his mind. They seemed even more vivid than reality.

Her light fingers stroked his hair and whispered his name.

“Taryn!” he went to say, but his mouth would not form the words.

“Speak to me through your thoughts,” she said.

In his mind, he saw her kneeling in front of him, her golden hair cascading over her shoulders.

   Taryn,help me. Help me!

“I can’t,” she said.

   Oh gods, please help. Make it stop.

The stink of decay surrounded her. “You never believed in any of the gods. What makes you think they would deliver you from this?”

   No, no, don’t do this—

He gagged on the stench and tried to pull away, but he was still immobilized by their magic.

   No Taryn, not you. It’s a lie!

“I thought we’d grow old together.” Her nails dug into his wrists, her hands sticky and clammy against his skin. “This is for your own good, Jamison. It’s your purification.”

She vanished, but she appeared again and again as a tainted version of herself, as indifferent to his agony as everyone else.

Jamison couldn’t guess how long it went on for. It might have been minutes or hours—a waking dream of grotesque imagery and pain until he vomited up the globby mass, now marbled with black. It spurted out of him onto the ground, where it twisted and coiled into thick, ropey strands and crumbled away to soot.

Broderick’s hands sliced the air in a quick slashing movement. The chanting stopped.

Jamison lay upon the frost-heaved ground, his broken body mended and free from the enchantments.

Broderick towered over him. “This was less than you deserved, swine!” He slammed his boot into Jamison’s ribs and strode away.

A gust of wind blew the sooty dust across the field.

The sorcerers slunk back to the forest. Unknown to them, a silent watcher bore witness from within the safety of the pines along the edge of the field.

. . .

What's Cheaper Than Dirt?*

Okay maybe not much, but from today until January 12, my short stories are available to download for free! You may not be able to plant your African violets with them but they’re entertaining and won’t die on you.

Click on the pictures to go directly to Amazon for your free download.

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*I’ve bought bags of dirt and I’m always amused by the endless variety of topsoil at the garden center.

Interview With Scout

The fearless adventurer bat Scout Pipistrellus of The Brumal Star paid me a visit and granted me a interview.

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Scout: (flies in through window and hangs upside down on the vertical blinds. There’s something poking out of his mouth, which turns out to be a large moth.)

T.Q.: Welcome, Scout!

Scout: THMMKKSSSHHHFFFFF…(swallows the rest of the moth) Thanks for having me. And for hosting me at night instead of during the day.

T.Q.: No problem. I know nighttime is when all the tasty bugs come out.

Scout: Yeah! You’ve got a feast flying around out there. Maybe I’ll stick around awhile.

T.Q.: That would be great, we have a lot of nasty mosquitoes.

Scout: Nasty? What are you talking about? Mosquitoes are delicious!

T.Q.: Then they’re all yours! Tell us what you’ve been up to lately.

Scout: Well you know, the usual: saving the world from insect overpopulation, meeting new friends, visiting new places.

T.Q.: Tell us about where you grew up.

Scout: I was raised in the province of Cailreth underneath a stone bridge. Can you imagine what it was like growing up in a giant colony of bats?  Hundreds of us all crammed in under there, squeaking and screeching. Hardly any privacy, I tell you!

T.Q.: Sounds like it gets loud.

Scout: Oh, it was chaos, but a good chaos. I’m a family bat, after all. Blood is thicker than mosquito swarms.

T.Q.: Do you still live there?

Scout: I’ve always been an independent sort of bat, until I met Skyler. And of course I lived with Lorica for a little while, after one of her brothers pegged me with a rock and broke my wing. But every once in a while I go see Mom and Pops and all seventy-nine of my brothers and sisters.

T.Q.: Seventy-nine?!

Scout: Yup. And some of their kids have kids and some of their kids have kids!

T.Q.: Holy smokes.

Scout: Holidays get very crowded. Everyone is calling each other by the wrong name all the time. When I was a youngster, there were times when my mother would be yelling for me but she’d call me by all my brothers’ and sisters’ names before she got to “Scout”.

T.Q.: I can imagine. Speaking of kids, how are thing going with your lady-love? Any bat-pups in your future?

Scout: (crossing wings) Hmph. I knew that’s where this was leading. Seems everyone loves a bit of gossip.

T.Q.: Nope, just curious! Anyways, I thought bats loved gossip.

Scout: You’re right, bats love to chatter. Well if you must know, Skyler is doing fine and there are babies on the horizon.

T.Q.: How exciting!

Scout: If we’re lucky, it’ll be twins. Usually bats only have one pup at a time but sometimes we have twins.

T.Q.: You’ll have your hands full, I’m sure.

Scout: You mean wings.

T.Q.: Wings, of course. But with all the other bats in the colony, how do you know which pups are yours?

Scout: We can tell by smell and by their voices.

T.Q.: That’s pretty remarkable.

Scout: It is, if I do say so myself. (Stomach growls loudly) Oh my! Got to go, more bugs to catch! (flies out window).

The Brumal Star is available in the Kindle store on Amazon.

Symbology of The Brumal Star: Animal Signs

I really love symbolism, the idea that there are deeper meanings and ideas attached to things that seem ordinary and mundane.

As I was writing The Brumal Star, I became aware that I had included many birds and other animal characters in the book. But I didn’t research the symbolism behind any of it until after I was done.

I was struck by how accurately the creatures that I chose for the story evoked the themes and archetypes I meant to convey.

Cardinal

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Elira, the Witch of the Larches, takes the form of a cardinal. They are a symbol of hope, vitality and faith, things Jamison desperately needs. He needs to “keep the faith” when his situation seems bleak and hopeless. They symbolize the circle of life and the cycle of renewal and restoration, which is the very cycle he goes through.

She is a “cardinal sign”, the first thing (or person) he sees after he survives the Ritual. They’re associated with winter, and Jamison is in a long, dark cold winter of his life. In the story, it is about to become winter.

The word cardinal has its origins in the Norse word kross and the Latin crux, both of which are associated with crosses or directional points. Jamison is at a crossroads as he decides what he will do next, since he cannot go back to his old life and must make a choice and pick a direction.

Goat

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Goats mean many things in various cultures, but the highest expression of what they represent are sense of independence, curiosity, progress, achievement, and reaching your highest ideals. These are themes that are expressed through Jamison and his journey.

Cat

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Revered as gods in ancient Egypt, cats are symbols of magic and mystery, birth and resurrection, especially in regards to their “nine lives”. They’re a fitting symbol of the strange, mysterious circumstances  through which Jamison receives his magical gift as a child and the way he manages to bounce back or raise himself out of terrible, frightening, and life-threatening situations.

Dog

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Dogs are symbols of protection and loyalty, courage, communication and cooperation, and as connectors between physical and non-physical realms. Berinon, Jamison’s shaggy hound, assumes the role of his faithful guardian at a pivotal moment in his life.

Bats

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Bats are symbols of rebirth, secrets, initiation, facing darkness, transition and transformation, and understanding grief. Many characters are transformed by their dark experiences throughout the story.

They also represent exploring the underworlds of reality. Lorica literally does this as she travels with Jamison to the cave with her friend, a pipistrelle (a type of small bat) named Scout.

In the mythos of the book, the Chirelien are giant, mutant bats with wrinkly faces, massive, leathery wings, shaggy, lion-like manes and serpentine, tufted tails. They’ve been transformed by magic gone awry, so they’ve undergone a massive shift both in their physical appearance and life philosophy, and must come to terms with their new state of being.

Chickadee

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A chickadee makes an appearance in a scene where two characters face off against each other arguing over trust issues. These tiny birds that thrive in cold climates are symbolic of hardiness, adaptability, ability to thrive in adverse conditions, trust, and serve as a call not to be closed off or be paranoid of others.

Ravens

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The Cave of Wrykirk is near a waterfall called Raven Falls, so named because of the colony of ravens that roosts there. Ravens have been regarded through many cultures as harbingers or messengers representing wisdom and knowledge.

They can also mean the shadow self, one of Carl Jung’s classic archetypes. The shadow self refers to a person’s inner darkness, fears, desires, shames, and weaknesses.

Many characters in The Brumal Star are forced to confront the darkest parts of their personalities as they go through their individual journeys.

Do you use animal signs and symbolism in your writing?