I think one of the hardest parts of being a writer is constantly criticizing yourself. I am not lenient with me. That’s usually considered a good thing, but it can also be a curse because I’m never satisfied, always wanting more. I’ll write one thing one night and love it, and the next night I gag while I’m reading it and want to start all over. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever finish anything because I spend sooooo much time starting all over again!
In spite of this tendency, working on Siranai has been a new experience for me this time around. I have to finish it. No “buts,” no excuses. This is a story I must tell. I edit a ton while I’m writing, but I have a goal in mind and I know I’m going to accomplish it this time.
I have decided to give my few yet faithful supporters a sneak peek of my work. This is the (short) chapter where Mati meets the spirits that created her and her home, and requests their aid in battle. She has already discovered her princess-ship and has committed herself to fulfilling her duties. The Maladaun are the rebel humans who have been gifted by the rebel spirits to do damage; the Benedaun (Mati’s kind) are the humans that have been gifted by the good spirits to rule Benedaea effectively. Enjoy this section and feedback is welcome! 🙂
Mati could hear her own shallow breathing. She had never felt so nervous that she could not feel her feet before, but that was true this morning. It was time. She was about to enter the spirit world.
She took a deep breath to steady herself and her usual steely, determined look returned to her emerald eyes. She was not going to faint or appear weak to The Council; they would see instead that she was a worthy, strong leader—someone to be depended upon.
Her hand firmly grasped the pendant on the chain that never left her ivory neck, and she whispered softly, “Ancli urvan manum. Poldenai udain.” Nothing happened at first. Then the ground began to tremble, and a ring of blazing blue light appeared in front of her. A voice commanded her, “Enter!” and she carefully obeyed. The instant she stepped inside the circle, she was swept into a vortex of wind and light. Terrified, Mati willed herself not to cry out in fear. The vortex dropped her feet-first into what seemed like the grand hall of a palace, only there was no ceiling and the walls were only made of many pillars spaced about 20 feet apart. Outside the grand hall, Mati could see a beautiful land with the greenest trees and grass she had ever seen. There was an enormous golden throne on the opposite end of the hall from her, and the floor was made of mother of pearl. Mati looked around her and saw no one at first, just like Sarla had told her. Then she knew from her training that it was time for her to call for them in her own language.
“The heir of Siranai requests an audience with you, honored Council,” she uttered, proud of how confident her voice sounded. She stood silently for several moments, and then they appeared. One by one the spirits entered visibility; in shape they looked like the men of Benedaea, but they were partially translucent, blue, and fiery. Mati could not take her eyes away from them. She had never seen anything like the spirits.
One grander than all—white and glittering like a diamond in the sun—appeared on the throne and smiled at Mati. His face was like a man’s, only much more perfect and it shone like a star in the heavens. “Princess Matika Kurnalan. We have been expecting you.”
Mati bowed low. “Great Leader, I salute you. I have come to fulfill my duty.”
The Great Leader bade her rise. “We have much to discuss. The Maladaun move quickly and with much fury.”
“Yes, your Grace. I am your servant.” Mati replied, slowly rising to stand before him.
The Great Leader crossed the hall to meet her. “It is an honor to meet the daughter of our esteemed Rikard. You may simply call me by my name, Negasi. Your father always did.”
Mati could not help a sad smile at the mention of her father. How she wished she had known him.
Negasi then led Mati into a side room, which had golden walls and many seats surrounding two silver chairs in the center. There was not a ceiling in this room either, and the sky reflecting off of the walls produced a dazzling effect. Mati was led to the center of the room and Negasi sat in the chair across from her. She was about to participate in her first meeting with The Council, and at that realization her nervousness intensified.
The other spirits joined them and the meeting began. Everyone around her was speaking in the spirit language and Mati did not understand them when they spoke all at once. She felt very overwhelmed and anxious until Negasi held up a hand to silence the crowd.
“Members of The Council, our confluence today is not meant for us spirits to talk amongst ourselves. We are here to determine how we may aid the princess in her endeavors to save Benedaea.”
The chatter had stopped and everyone was watching Mati. She looked to Negasi, and he nodded to her. She stood with all the boldness she possessed and spoke.
“Great Leader, Council, I have come to request aid on behalf of all the kingdoms of Benedaea. As you are well aware, my father‘s kingdom was viciously overthrown by the Maladaun 16 years ago. I am the only blood heir left to Siranai—the only one left of the family you appointed for my kingdom. I know I am young and a female, but I believe that with your permission and your aid I can raise an army worthy of the land that you created, and we will take back what is rightfully ours, restoring peace in the human world. I solemnly vow this day that I am the servant of you all.” She bowed in respect and then returned to her seat.
“Her intentions seem well, but she is very young. Can she be trusted to keep her word to us?” one spirit asked Negasi.
The Great Leader responded, “From what I know of the Kurnalan family, I cannot imagine one more worthy of our confidence.”
Everyone nodded in agreement. Mati’s heart flooded with relief.
“So Princess, what is your request?” another spirit inquired.
Mati stood again a little more timidly. She knew that what she was about to ask would not be met with pleasure. “The Maladaun has many rebel spirit-lords on their side. I request that some or all of you fight for us.”
“Fight?” The crowd burst out in murmurs which held more than a hint of fear.
Negasi’s voice roared above the others. “Silence, you cowards!” Everyone hushed. “The Benedaun need our assistance and we would be foolish not to give it. If the Maladaun overtake Benedaea, the rebel spirits will come for us next.”
Many of the spirits nodded their agreement, so Negasi continued.
“Princess Matika, we shall grant your request whether all are in agreement or not. Some of the spirits will remain here to guard our home and some will come and fight for you.”
Mati nodded, relieved to have him on her side.
“Do you have anything else you’d like to say?”
Mati straightened and addressed them as a woman of power for the first time. “I know that you all knew my father,” she began. “He was a great king, but more than that a great man, and I wish I was as fortunate as you; I never knew him. However, he passed down a legacy to me which I am quite honored to possess—a chronicle of all his doings while he was king of Siranai. I have read the entire book from beginning to end, and I feel as if I know him backwards and forwards. I love the way he looked after the poor and mistreated and I hope to continue and improve upon his practices. I love his equal concern for the wealthy and the peasant. I love that he walked in unity with every king and lord in Benedaea. Mostly, I love that he was good as well as great. His position never corroded his heart. That is the kind of ruler I hope to be someday. Only with your help it shall be possible, and I thank you in advance for your support.” She returned to her seat and the entire Council began to applaud, including Negasi.
“There you have it, my brothers. This young woman is on the path to great things, and we could not refuse to assist one so worthy. If the princess has no further words, then this meeting is adjourned. We will meet again soon to discuss our strategy.”
The spirits disappeared at Negasi’s words and Mati and he were left alone in the chamber.
“I hope their initial skepticism did not discourage you, princess. I have great faith in you.”
“I thank you for your kind words, Negasi. And please call me Mati,” Mati told him with a smile.
Negasi returned her smile. “Are you ready to return to your home now, or would you like to see it from our point of view first?”
Mati’s face lit up and then dimmed. “I would love to see things as you see them, but I fear I am unworthy,” the princess admitted.
“Nonsense,” Negasi protested, and brought her into a third room; this one had a glass floor and Mati could see a large body of water swirling beneath her.
“What ocean is that?” she inquired.
“One you have never seen before. Its name is ‘The Sea of Wonders,’ and I will show you why. Laredum kotener, kinaga.”
Mati watched in amazement as the water instantly stilled and the blue coloring vanished, leaving only transparency. She could see the island of Benedaea beneath her feet as if from a bird’s point of view; except through glass, like a window.
“This is astounding,” Mati breathed, all of a sudden feeling rather insignificant. She knelt on the ground to enjoy the view more fully.
“This is your land,” Negasi stated softly, “and I want you to always remember this sight. Look directly in the center.”
Benedaea was large and circular-shaped and until that moment Mati had not recognized that the center of the island appeared different. “It’s brown. But the rest of the island is green and growing. Why is the center brown?”
“That brown, dying center is Siranai,” he revealed gently. “The Maladaun have already destroyed much of its beauty, but the people are still alive. They are waiting for you, Mati; waiting for a rescuer to come to their aid.”
Mati was aghast at this exposition. “That heap of ash is my father’s kingdom?”
Negasi only nodded.
“That is Siranai?!”
He nodded again, looking down at the land below them. “Beldi nuteron kinaga.” The water became restless again and regained its blue, opaque coloring.
Tears filled Mati’s eyes as she looked up at the mighty spirit in bewilderment. “You have enough power—you could have prevented all this. Why didn’t you?” Her words were spoken in grief, not in anger.
“I do not attempt to control everything that takes place in Benedaea. I will help you when these conflicts arise, but everything has its natural course. If I had tried to prevent the Maladaun from having their way at that time, much worse events would have taken place.” He put up his hand to stop her when she began to speak. “I know you do not understand, and I know you feel sorrow for your father’s sake, but do not fear. Things can be as they should be again, and they will.”
Mati sniffed and nodded, then stood quickly. “I am ready to return. I must not waste another moment.”
Negasi nodded, looking very much pleased. “You are Rikard Kurnalan’s daughter, indeed.”
Mati smiled slightly at the compliment. “Thank you, Great Leader, for all of this. I am grateful to have an ally such as you, and I hope that my actions will meet with your approval.”
“I’m sure they will,” he replied confidently. “Safe journeys until we see you again, Princess.”
Mati nodded to him, and then grasped the pendant again. “Rendilai,” she whispered, and reluctantly stepped back into the vortex.