My Mom was my best friend growing up and as an adult. We used to share Chinese food after school. She was an awesome listener and always wanted to hear what I had to say. She supported me in everything I did, and when I started writing, she was my biggest cheerleader. She used to take my books into her hairdresser, restaurants, her community center. Everyone of her friends who met me would say, “Oh, you’re the author.”
We knew her time was limited, but literally minutes before she passed away, we were joking and playing one of her favorite word games. Life will go on, but it will never be quite the same again. Somehow, even your greatest accomplishments aren’t quite as great without your mom to show them to. I've never written anything that my mom hasn't read. And I believe she is still reading everything I write, even though she isn't hear in person to point out typos anymore.
During the same week, my oldest child had her first baby. What an incredible thing it is to hold your first grandchild. People ask me if being a grandpa makes me feel old. On the contrary, I have never felt younger. I love the excitement of holding a new little life in my hands. It really is a thrill. Such an emotional roller coaster. Then trying to get my had back into writing. It’s been kind of crazy.
I seriously think the only thing that got me through this last week was the support of my friends and family. So thanks, everyone!
And now, here is the next chapter in the upcoming Air Keep, which will be out in late February of 2013.
If you missed any of the first four installments, you can find them here:
Chapter 4 Missing Reflections
Marcus looked from his pack to the door. A coincidence? He didn’t think so. Whoever, or whatever, had taken his things had clearly led him here, to his old guardian’s room. The question was, what was he going to do about it?
He reached for the door and froze. What if a giant black snake waited for him on the other side? He didn’t know of anyone other than the Thrathkin S’Bae—and himself—who could do magic on Earth. And there was no doubt in his mind that whatever was happening involved some sort of magic.
Glancing down the hallway to make sure no one was coming, he reached for the power of water. One of the first things he’d learned from Cascade, the water elemental who’d agreed to join him and Kyja on their quest to open a doorway between Earth and Farworld, was that water magic held the power of seeing.
The Fontasian with the blue skin and white hair could literally see through forests and mountains for miles in any direction. Marcus wasn’t that good with water magic, but he should be able to see through a door. That was, assuming he could tap into the power of water at all. For whatever reason, using water magic had become harder and harder over the last few months—almost as though the elementals controlling it were trying to cut him off from their power.
“Help me see,” he muttered, summoning the help of the Fontasians.
Unlike how most people on Earth viewed magic, it wasn’t just waving a wand or saying a bunch of random words. Casting a spell had two parts. The first was knowing which magic to use—water, land, air, fire, or some combination—and what to do with it.
The second part was asking the elements who controlled that magic to do what you wanted. Black magic, the kind used by the Dark Circle, involved forcing the elements to obey your commands. That kind of magic could not be used without ultimately corrupting the caster, and it was most effective for spells that were inherently evil. The kind of magic Master Therapass used required the willing help of the elements.
Marcus closed his eyes, picturing the flow of water that would let him see through the solid surface of the door, while focusing on the importance of his need. For a minute, he didn’t think the spell would work, like picking up a phone and hearing no dial tone.
Then, as he was about to give up, something tickled the backs of his eyes, and he got the briefest glimpse of a room much like his own. A bed. A desk. And something else, which he didn’t recognize.
He was almost positive no one was in the room. But there was something. Some kind of power he didn’t recognize bounced back at him like a voice echoing in a mountain pass.
Was it possible that this was the work of Master Therapass? He knew for a fact the wizard couldn’t cross from Farworld to Earth. Kyja and Marcus were the only humans who had ever made the leap without the use of dark magic. But maybe it was some kind of message. Marcus had to get into the room.
He tried the door and wasn’t surprised when the brass knob turned barely a quarter of an inch before stopping. The monks had been very clear that this room was off limits. He’d never thought to question why a simple bedroom should be forbidden—until now.
Marcus peered into the small keyhole. Changing the state of things—hot to cold, on to off, or, in this case, locked to unlocked —required the power of air. He wasn’t nearly as familiar with that magic, but one of the few air-magic scrolls Master Therapass had given him had a spell that might be able to disengage the inner workings of a lock. The scroll was in his bag, but he’d read it so many times, he nearly had it memorized.
Gripping the knob in both hands, he focused on changing the lock from closed to open. Magic didn’t require words, but he’d found that he could focus his powers if he used little poems.
“Currents of air, wind and sky,” he said quietly. “Through this keyhole quickly fly. The way I must go has been blocked. Help me to undo this lock.”
It wasn’t much of a poem, but he could feel it working. A soft breeze brushed by his cheek. The doorknob rattled, started to turn, then stopped. He reached up and tried the knob. Still locked.
Had the elements rejected his request? He’d managed to lock and unlock the door to his own room before. But maybe because he was trying to break into a room the monks had forbidden him to enter, the air elementals had refused his request.
Somehow he needed to communicate the importance of his need. Focusing his thoughts again, he tried to convey how important it was that he open this door. Surely the elementals would understand why he had to break into a room if it was the only way he could escape the Dark Circle.
“My need is great; I ask once more. Help me to unlock this door.”
The power of air magic swirled around him, and, for a quick second, he felt something else. It seemed to be a response to his magic—coming not from inside the lock, but from behind the door. Almost an echo of his request bouncing back at him, reflecting his magic in a way he’d never experienced.
The knob rattled ever so slightly, followed by a soft click. Somewhere behind him, footsteps echoed; Marcus glanced over his shoulder. Someone was coming. Quickly, he turned the knob. He pushed the door open, wheeled inside, and swung the door shut behind him.
Inside the room, he pressed his ear to the closed door. Had he been seen? Or heard? When several minutes had passed, and no one came to check the door, he breathed a sigh of relief. Now to see what was in here.
He turned around, but was disappointed to find the room almost empty. It was a tiny cell, as barren as his own. The only furnishings were a bed—stripped of its blankets and sheets—a tall standing mirror, and a plain wooden desk. Nothing that could have accounted for the power he’d felt.
He wheeled over to the desk and tried one of the drawers, expecting them to be locked. Instead, they slid open, and inside were all his missing things—scrolls, papers, a pair of smelly socks. Everything he’d thought he’d misplaced over the last few weeks was tucked neatly into the drawers of the desk.
How did all of his things end up here? He looked around the room, searching for a clue. Other than his socks and scrolls, there was nothing out of the ordinary here. It was just an empty room with an old desk, the standing mirror, and a plain bed. But then why would someone go to the all the trouble of locking it up? He glanced at the mirror—the only thing that looked out of place. Monks weren’t exactly known for their vanity, so there weren’t many mirrors in the monastery. Maybe something was hidden behind it.
His hopes were quickly dashed when he realized there was no place behind it to hide anything. Even the mirror was useless. At some point, the glass inside the ornate frame had been removed. He peered through the empty oval and found only a dusty baseboard. There was nothing here. Nothing at all.
With a sigh, he spun his chair around. One of the wheels bumped the mirror, and it started to tilt forward. Afraid someone would hear the crash, Marcus reached out to catch it. His palm met the edge of the frame, steadying it.
As his fingers wrapped around where the glass should have been, he felt something he thought he never would again. It was a jerk, deep in his stomach—like a hook caught somewhere in the middle of his gut, pulling until it seemed like he was turning inside out. Marcus gasped as the world spun. A giddy excitement raced through him.He was jumping!