Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blog Hop Hunt 2016

Hi, I’m Kim Cormack, Author of The Children of Ankh series and I’m your host for this stop in the Hunt.
     If you would like to find out more about the Hunt, please click here -
     Somewhere on this page is a hidden number. Collect all the numbers from all the authors’ posts, and then add them up. Once you’ve added all the numbers, and if I am your last author, please head to the official website and click on the ENTER HERE page to find the entry form. Only entries with the correct number will qualify to win.

The Author I’m pleased to be hosting for Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt today is author Mary Woldering.

LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN....with Fresh eyes - Children of Stone.
Introducing Marai bin Ahu a semi-hermit and a shepherd from ancient Sinai
If he looked out of his cave home this is what he would see:

Chapter 1 Night Songs

“O beautiful one, Asher-ellit;
Immaculate one of the goddesses,
Torch of Heaven and earth,
Radiance of all the lands,
Goddess ‘Lady of Heaven',
First-begotten of Sin,
First-born of Ningal,
Sweet sister of Shamas
O Asher-Anu, you rule the heavens;
Oh Queen of Morning and Evening Sky,"
Marai's voice rose like the drone of a horn.
“Come bless me this starry night.
Shine for one who begs to serve you.
Come bless me this starry night."

Each phrase the shepherd sang to his goddess was different from the one that came before it. He never planned his songs of worship. In each part of his song, Marai worshiped a particular aspect of his beloved, yet dreaded goddess.
      (Do you hear me sweet one?) He asked the night sky between verses. (Tonight might be the last one for a long time). He noticed his hands were up in supplication, as if they were holding his song aloft for her. Only the stars answered with their quiet twinkles. (Maybe there’s nothing to sing to. Maybe Sheb is right. Maybe it is time to go.) He let his arms drop after a few moments, then trudged cheerlessly into the inner recesses of his cave home to collapse in sleep.
     (I should sing some more…try one more time. On a night like this, I used to sing till dawn. I have to think. Tired. Too tired.)
      Marai hadn't felt quite as bad about eating with his family and the traders who had camped for the night. His massive shoulders sagged until he formed the outline of a vulture. Stepping outside he sat down on the stone ledge that formed a natural porch before it fell away into craggy descent.
      (It’s you, my bride of a summer, buried by the time of the misting snow.) The shepherd mused, turning to look at the makeshift pole to Ashera and the softer place in the shadows. He couldn’t see it in the dark cave, but he knew his wife lay there, the bones of her arms embracing the baby girl born still as she herself died. (Ilara. I have been here feeding your ghost and quietly watching the sky.) Marai reflected.
     He shunned the company of the travelers who moved through his family's way station on the Copper Road seeking shade, water, and supplies as they headed west to Kemet and parts north.
     Tonight his thoughts weren't so solidly on the goddess, even though he sang heartily enough to her. He was singing a farewell.
(It still hurts my heart to go.) 
     The big shepherd rose and began his song again. As he sang, he paused from time to time to see if anyone from the encampment below was annoyed by the melodious baritone he sent up beyond the heavens.
     "You change our fates,
     Evil turns to good;
     I have sought you for so long among the gods;
     I have offered all to you;
    Come bless me this starry night"

The following is an excerpt from Book 2 "Going Forth by Day" 

A mystical date. The excerpt is from Ariennu and the King. A slight backstory: Having been told Marai is dead Ariennu finds work as a foreign concubine for King Menkaure. She's like an escort or paid companion. In this scene, he speaks to her of his own broken heart. 
Those who are familiar with the Egyptian Book of the Dead may recognize the prayer recited between Ari and the King.

The day had been particularly draining for King Menkaure 38.  He didn’t tell Ariennu why this evening and she knew not to ask.  Ari rubbed his shoulders with hot oil the way she did every night, but once he relaxed she bent forward to whisper quite seductively in his ear,“Your Great Majesty... What is it His Highness, the Great One of Five, places in your wine to calm you in the evening?”
      The King raised one brow, pausing at her audacity in questioning his trusted uncle, but then reflected on her words.  His hand reached up to pat her hand, affectionately. “You worry for your king,” his expression, at first paternal, grew distant.
      Ari sensed something in the tone of his voice at that moment but didn’t truly understand the nature of his thoughts.  He seemed detached.  The words ‘my death’ formed in her heart.  She wondered if the king was thinking of the curse on him and perhaps if he really would die soon.
      The only “king” she had ever considered at that point was Marai.  She thought of the luxury in which she had lived these past few days, but also thought of the dreadful emptiness in her life as she lived in the service of these two different godly men.
      Quiet, yet gentle and reassuring words that seemed to be part of a spell or a prayer filtered through her thoughts.  It was as if Marai recited them to her through time.  Her instincts told her to repeat them that they would comfort
the man in her care.  She whispered them in Menkaure’s ear as they played in her heart:  “If emptiness flourishes, my king cannot take his food... If my king flourishes, emptiness cannot take its food.”
     The thrill of her words raced through both men’s hearts; one struggling in the depth of a deathlike dream, the other dreaming of death in a candle-lit room.
“The words...” Menkaure paused.  What seemed to be a tear caught in the corner of one of his eyes.  His lower lip dimpled slightly.  “How is it that a woman such as yourself, a sojourner, knows them?  They are taught to the sacred only,” the king blinked, then moved his lips to her ear.  “Do you know the rest?” he asked.  “Gladden my sad heart, woman of the fire. Speak her words to me so I can hear them again.”
     Ariennu felt her own heart skip as a quiet spirit drifted through her.  She suddenly felt as young as a new woman who was still learning about life and all of its joyous mysteries.  At first, she thought it was Naibe’s essence, but then she knew it was a different young woman who had died.  Goddess.  A goddess... he loved a young goddess, but she was taken from him.  He did not protect her!  All at once, her heart thrilled to the sound of the king’s words.  She had never heard these words before.  She couldn’t explain to him how she knew them, or why, other than because of her own temptation to use heka, she felt compelled to repeat them.
     “Take me with you, beloved, that I may eat of what you eat,” she spoke calmly but realized that such a spoken devotion asked for love beyond the tomb.  She could never give anyone but Marai that kind of devotion.
     The king rose from his couch to fetch the onyx cup, which was sitting near the edge of the coals in the brazier.  He poured a little more from a ewer into the cup to cool the warmed contents, then sat on his couch, crossed his legs and faced her.  “Close your eyes, woman,” he gently commanded her.
     Ariennu closed her eyes obediently.  Menkaure reached up and sweetly touched her closed eyelids as if he was blessing them, then spoke the companion piece to her words:  “That I may eat of what you eat... that I may drink of what you drink, that I may be strong...” his voice broke here and Ariennu almost opened her eyes when she heard him pause. “That whereby you are strong...” Then, he tipped the vessel to her lips.  She sipped a quarter of the draught. “Open your eyes to me woman of wisdom, yours...” he started, but stopped himself.
      Ariennu knew he had been about to say: Your servant begs you.

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