Blogs:

Buffalo Comic Con 2014
by Rastain
30th Sep 2014, 1:41 PM
Rastain

Buffalo Comic Con 2014 is this weekend, Sunday October 5th. I'll be there along with Paul to show case the initial artwork for the hard copy of   "Ancient Darkness" the  graphic novel/Comic. Copies of the original novel will be available as well. If you live in the area stop by and say hello.

comiccon2014

The official website and guest list is available here.

http://www.buffalocomicon.com/

 

Forge's Inn
by Rastain
29th Jul 2014, 5:04 PM
Rastain

Kiera verse Uttar promo

  (Another excerpt from my novel "Ancient Darkness")

They surrounded the inn like a pack of ravenous wolves. The shrieks and howls echoed across the valley like a violent storm thunderously rolling down the mountain side. Dkhra sprang forward and approached the door, his talons scratched across the wood surface loudly as he grasped the latch. He pulled and turned but the lock refused to give. He stepped back his feral rage increasing as he anticipated the sweet victory of killing and feasting on his prey. He let out a howl that pierced the valley and echoed for miles. The Uttar sprang forward attacking the inn with fang and talon smashing through the windows and ripping the inn down piece by piece.

“My Inn!”

Forge yelled as the Uttar attacked them from every angle. Forge swung his axe with bestial fervor, his anger fueling his attacks. He picked up body parts from impaled and severed Uttar and tossed them into the surging horde.

“Stupid beasts….butt ugly, foul smelling, inn destroying …. Arrrrhhhh…!” Forge sputtered out insult after insult as he attacked with no concern what so ever for his well being as he waded deeper and deeper into the mass of Uttar.

“Forge! The idea is to defend the tunnel entrances!” Rastain yelled to the half crazed dwarf as he impaled one Uttar after another with deadly accuracy. He was precise and deadly with his bow, moving fluidly and with practiced ease. Saleena found her self enthralled watching him fight, as one Uttar broke through her defenses and sliced her arm. The warm sensation of blood running down her arm broke her momentary lack of focus and brought her back to the task at hand. She cursed loudly as she unleashed a series of savage attacks impaling the Uttar hilt deep with her sword. She kicked the dead body back and backed up next to Rastain.  Forge came crashing through the advancing Uttar, severing heads and limbs as he came to stand next to Rastain.

“You know you do this to me every time.” He huffed as he tried to catch his breath.

“Do what?” Rastain asked as he fended off the surging horde of Uttar, trying to give the dwarf time to catch his breath.

“Cost me money… The inn is completely destroyed…. The damn beasts even ripped up the floor boards! Why the hell do they need to rip up the floor boards?”  Forge smashed his axe into the head of a lunging Uttar and felt a small sense of retribution for his lost inn.

“Do we have a plan?” Saleena asked as they backed up closer to the tunnel entrance. They were surrounded on all sides with their backs to the tunnel entrance. Rastain looked to Forge.

“Something will come to mind eventually.”  The dwarf grinned in response.

The Uttar stopped, pacing back and forth like ravaged dogs encircling them. Rastain knew something was about to happen he couldn't see any way out for them, he just hoped that the rest had made it through the tunnels and out the exit already.

“How far is the tunnel exit?” He asked. Forge looked around at his feet for a few minutes before answering.

“Umm…” He wasn't sure how to answer.

“Forge?” Rastain asked, the alarm in his voice making Forge feel even more guilt then he already was. “Bah…. The exit collapsed in the spring after the heavy spring rains.”  He couldn't bear looking at Saleena or Rastain.

“So they are trapped?” Saleena asked she was on the edge of breaking down into tears as she held back the hopeless feeling in her gut.

“You are all trapped….” The voice was hoarse and grating that answered.  They all looked up to see a large Uttar standing several feet away. His long black hair soaked in blood hanging over his face. The eyeless face looked at them as he grinned.

“Give us the priest… my master has need of him.” Dkhra cracked his neck and shoulders as he dropped to all fours and slowly inched forward.

“And you might live.” He whispered.

Forge laughed before anyone could answer.  He spread his feet apart planting them firmly and gripping his axe with both hands.

“Come and get him.” Forge sneered as he answered.

Dkhra sneered and simply nodded. The Uttar horde screamed and surged forward. The ground suddenly started to shake and rumble causing the Uttar to halt in confusion. Then the ground stopped shaking as abruptly as it started. The Uttar surged forward once again as they did a loud thunderous clasp of lighting exploded across the forest. The sound and light expanded from one focal point at the base of the hill like ripples across the still surface of a pond. The Uttar fell to the ground withering in pain as they grasped the sides of their heads.

“What was that?” Saleena asked as she covered her ears, the ringing in her head was intense.

“Trolls” Forge shouted as he pointed to the hill side.

The forest seemed to suddenly come alive itself as trolls appeared ripping into the flanks of the Uttar horde. The trolls rushed forward picking up the Uttar and snapping them like twigs. The Uttar recovering from the stun spell surged forward attacking the trolls in response.

“Ha-ha!”  Forge cheered as he rushed into the battle.

“I told you something would come up.” The dwarf shouted over his shoulder as he joined the battle.

“Where did they come from?” Saleena turned to ask Rastain but she noticed he wasn’t standing there. She looked around and saw him fighting with the Uttar that had demanded they hand over the priest.

The tide of battle had turned and now the advantage was no longer on the side of the Uttar. Dkhra was unsure what to actually do next. He could hear the cries of his brethren as they fought, they all wanted to flee but the desire to kill was to strong. They also had their orders to retrieve the priest. Defying those orders would mean certain punishment, even death from the master.

He rolled to his left as he avoided the ranger’s furious attack. He had never encountered any one that could attack so fast before. It took all of his ability to stay out of the ranger’s deadly reach. He crouched low and sprang forward lashing out with his talons. The ranger easily sidestepped and countered with a savage thrust of his blade. Dkhra parried off the attack and skidded across the ground to come to a stop a few feet away. He remained crouched on all fours staring at the ranger.  His sightless vision was confusing him the ranger’s aura seemed to change during the battle. The normal energy that surrounded the ranger seemed to change and fluctuate from blue to yellow then to red. Most humanoids, elves, dwarves and humans appeared blue to the Uttar as a blue shimmer of energy and noise, while demons and other celestial beings appeared red or yellow. Dkhra couldn’t understand why he was seeing different auras, but for one reason or another it frightened him. It was an odd sensation to feel fear from a human and something in his mind told him he needed to get away. He frantically looked around for a way to escape but saw none. The ranger charged forward his two blades held close to his side. Dkhra slid to his left but the ranger seemed to anticipate the move, the blades slicing deep into his side. The pain was intense as he slid across the ground his breathing was becoming more labored, each breath brought a burning pain and a rush of lightheadedness. Dkhra could feel his life draining from his body, he needed to escape. He turned to flee and came face to face with the large wolf.  The aura of the wolf flared red and then yellow as it attacked. Dkhra fell to the ground as the wolf lunged and then the world went black.

Saleena watched in horror as Sid emerged from the tunnels and lunged savagely to help Rastain. The wolf was savage and brutal as it ripped the wounded Uttar apart, it was as if the wolf had snapped and its killing instinct took over. She turned her head away, even though the creature was intent on killing them the sight was to gruesome to watch. She heard Sid howl and then both him and Rastain dashed off into the heart of the battle.

“It makes you wonder doesn’t it?”

Saleena turned to see Kiera standing next to her. She was weak but her wounds had been bandaged and she stood there swords drawn ready to fight.

“What does?” Saleena asked

“Watching a battle from the sidelines… The gruesome brutality and senseless taking of lives. We hide behind our ideals and morals but in the end this is what it comes down to. It’s either us or them.” Kiera looked at Saleena, she could tell the woman was torn, her world was changing and she was no longer in control of those changes.

“I have no pity for these creatures…” Saleena answered with a steel edge in her voice.

“You do. You just don’t want to admit it and that is what angers you.” Kiera simply answered. She was answering from experience. The conviction in her voice cut to Saleena’s heart and tugged at it.

“What do we do then?” She sighed as the world she once knew came crumbling down. She could feel it as she watched the battle unfold in front of her.

“We have faith.” Icardan answered from behind them.

Ancient Darkness - Excerpt
by Rastain
21st Jul 2014, 8:01 PM
Rastain

Ancient Darkness promo 2014

“Rastain!!” Saleena cheered and quickly blushed as she realized that she must have sounded like an enamored school girl. She grabbed Kiera and pulled her toward the other side of the village center.

“Come on, follow me.” Saleena yelled as she raced through the village center. Kiera shrugged and followed, it didn't matter to her which side of the center she died on.

Saleena was overjoyed to see Rastain, more so then she would have liked to admit. She felt as if suddenly everything was ok, his presence alone ensuring their survival. She scolded herself mentally though, she needed to remain focused.

“Quickly. Head up the hill toward the portal and get everyone through it…”   Rastain turned to Saleena as she stood at his side fighting off the Uttar. He needed everyone in the portal no exceptions.

“That means you too.”

Saleena heard the commanding tone in his voice and instantly her anger rose, she was not a farm girl to be ordered about.

“I’m staying here. You need my help.” She answered in between slashes of her sword and bashing of her shield against any Uttar that managed to get past Rastain’s barrage of steel and Sid’s fury of fangs.

“In the portal… Azzorrian can only maintain it for so long.”   Rastain looked over his shoulder noticing that Nadja was ushering the villagers through the portal as they fought off the Uttar.

“I’ll go through when you do.” She grunted as another Uttar slammed her to the ground. Kiera responded faster then Rastain could by kicking the Uttar off of Saleena. The Uttar sprang to his feet and leapt towards Kiera. She expertly sidestepped and parried off the creatures attack.

Rastain was getting annoyed now he couldn’t concentrate on protecting them and fending off the Uttar at the same time. He picked Saleena up and pushed her toward the portal.

“Go!!”  He fended off another attack while ducking to avoid forge’s wide arched swing of his axe.

“Forge?” Rastain looked at the dwarf exasperated. Forge merely laughed and charged forward into the nearest group of Uttar.

“Yer quick on yer feet lad… What you whining about?” The dwarf shouted in response as he severed limbs off of several Uttar at once.

“I told you I’m staying.” Saleena’s voice was edged with steel. She couldn’t understand his over protectiveness, she was a trained warrior and able to handle herself in battle. Why could he not see that? She turned to see her mother standing next to her struggling to fend off one of the creatures. The creature had flesh and blood dripping off its fangs and face. It had just recently finished devouring the remains of one of its fallen comrades. Driven by a crazed bloodlust the creature was relentlessly gaining an advantage on the older woman. Saleena intercepted the creatures lunge with a shield bash to its face. The stunned creature slumped to the ground shaking its head. Saleena pounced upon the stunned creature like a cat would a mouse, severing its head open with one swift blow.

She then turned to help her mother.

“Mother, get through the portal.” She turned to see Rastain looking at her. He said nothing but the look in his eyes said it all. He wanted her to take her own advice and go through the portal as well.

Nadja noticed the unspoken battle of wills between the two and decided it was time to intervene. Her daughter could be stubborn at times and if she felt she needed to make a point she was even more so. Nadja let her left leg start to drag and grunted in mock pain. Saleena instantly noticed.

“Are you ok?” Her voice softened with worry. She looked around frantically for help.

“Kiera! Help my mother to the portal.” Saleena shouted. Kiera turned and was instantly hard pressed as two Uttar attacked her. She slipped upon the blood drenched ground, letting out a yelp of pain as one of Uttar sliced open her side. Rastain was at her side in an instant fending of the attacking Uttar. He whistled attempting to call Sid to his side. The large black wolf responding instantly raced to his master side. Sid stood protectively over Kiera defending her as she pulled her self up. She was bleeding profusely barely able to stand. Rastain lifted her up in his arms and ran toward the portal. He glanced at Saleena and Nadja, hoping the stubborn female warrior would listen to him this time.

Forge noticed Rastain running toward the portal carrying the wounded woman. Most of the villagers were safely through the portal, with the exception of themselves and a few others. Forge ran over to Nadja and Saleena. The dwarf grabbed them both and started pulling them toward the portal.

“Hey… I’m not leaving till Rastain does.” Saleena pulled away from him.

“Yes you are.” Forge grabbed her and dragged her toward the portal. He wasn’t about to argue with the crazy woman.

“Listen… I don’t know who you think you are.” Saleena was interrupted as Forge pushed her through the portal.

“Shut up.” He turned to see Nadja standing behind him. She bent down and gave the dwarf a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you, my daughter can be stubborn at times.” She smiled and walked through the portal. Forge stood there for a moment blushing and looking at his feet before he realized the Uttar were still advancing up the hill.

Rastain had given the wounded Kiera over to the priest who was struggling to get her to the portal. Forge charged forward smashing into the front lines of the Uttar that Rastain had been fending off, knocking them back.  A loud piercing howl echoed across the valley followed by a series of shrieks and guttural sounding grunts. The Uttar stopped attacking and backed off a bit surrounding them and the portal completely.

“Now what?” Forge panted as he stood next to Rastain.

“I don’t know but go through the portal with those two now. The priest is past exhaustion and needs your help.” The steel in Rastain’s voice told Forge that he was expecting the worse. Forge nodded and ran over to the priest and the wounded Kiera.

“Come on lad, let’s go.” Forge grunted as he lifted the unconscious Kiera, the battle fatigue was setting in faster then he had anticipated. Icardan nodded and stepped through the portal followed by Forge.

Sid stood at Rastain’s side his fur bristling and fangs dripping with saliva. The large wolf was filled with rage and fury that needed to be unleashed. Rastain looked down at his life long companion.

“Go and protect them.” He stood with his swords drawn watching the Uttar that surrounded them. Sid looked up whining, the wolf wasn't about to abandon his master.

“Go now!” The emotional strain was evident in Rastain’s voice, he didn't want Sid to leave but he had no choice. Sid dropped his ears and tucked his tail in as he whined and stepped through the portal.

Azzorrian stood entranced, sweat pouring down his face as he strained to keep the portal open. He had pushed beyond his limits and abilities to maintain the portal. The sheer power of his will alone was sustaining him.  Paligar and the rest stood at his side looking through the portal. They saw Rastain standing there waiting encircled by the Uttar with his back to the portal.

“What’s he doing? Why doesn't he just run through the portal?” Saleena asked. She wanted to dash through the portal and physically drag him back through.

“I’m going back.” She grabbed her sword and shield and headed to the portal. Icardan stopped her. The priest’s complexion was pale and ashen. He was exhausted and barley able to stand.

“You can’t, the strain on the mage is great, if you go through he won’t be able to maintain the portal. I have already cast a power tab between him and myself, but I’m afraid that I am weak and have little power to help him. He’s holding it open by sheer will right now.” His voice weakened as he collapsed to the floor. Nadja ran over and helped him to stand. She looked at her daughter the steel in her eyes burned like a raging fire.

“Stop it Saleena. You will make his sacrifice mean nothing.” She turned and headed into the kitchen toward the tunnels. Forge sighed and gently turned Saleena away from the portal.

“Come on Lass, at least get to safety. Do that much for him.”

Azzorrian screamed as the last of his power faded. He slumped to the floor his vision fading as the last bit of strength left him, his will giving out under the immense strain.

“I’m… sorry….” The words slipped out as he faded into the black numbness of unconsciousness

Tears rolled down her face as she slumped to the floor.  She saw Rastain look over his shoulder one last time as the portal began to close. He turned and dashed toward the portal as it shimmered out and closed. The room went dark and cold as Saleena felt her heart shatter open. The portal had closed and its light faded, leaving her in complete darkness.

“RASTAIN!!!!!” she screamed as she slumped forward sobbing.

Excerpt from "Ancient Darkness" - Available anywhere books are sold.

http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Darkness-R-K-Souliske/dp/1627464840/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374887523&sr=8-1&keywords=Souliske

Elven Sorrow
by Rastain
8th May 2014, 3:19 PM
Rastain

Elven Sorrow 1

We let the world change us…

Our religion.

Our politics.

In our pride we fought the darkness, but it invaded our minds and souls. The darkest aspects of our minds became the very essence of our society.

Prejudice.

Intolerance.

Greed.

Jealousy.

Above all else…

Hatred.

We were once a proud nation, united as one. In ages past we stood together. Race, religion and politics never divided us. Our differences were what united us. Those days are passed, we are a divided people whose differences have splintered us like reeds cast upon the river.

Justice and truth have been twisted and cast aside. We no longer look out for our brother and sister, instead we use and abuse them. In the end our only goal is our own self gratification.

We look to our Kings and Princes as would be messiahs. We look the other way as they plunder our lands and people. We mock our priests and despise our sages as they speak out in warning.

We are no longer a free people. We have been imprisoned by our own hands.  We have locked ourselves behind our gates in false security.

Our joys have become our sorrows.

Our past triumphs and achievements have become something we despise.

We leave behind only a legacy of death and war.

We once claimed that we were gods. We wore the mantle of  “the first born”.  We are now the first to perish.

In our memories we will relive our days of glory as we march once again to war.

This maybe the end.

This maybe the beginning.

This is the sorrow of our nation.

The Hunt
by Rastain
5th May 2014, 1:59 PM
Rastain

Prelude to war the hunt final

Age of Ruin: The hunt – ( Prelude to war : Part 2)

Darkness, an ally that never fails.

The darkness concealed Rastain and Sid as they moved silently amongst the trees. The remaining Erahaim were camped about a mile west of the caravan. The soldiers were sitting around the fire laughing and drinking. They  were completely unaware of the fate that had befallen their fellow companions or the fate that was about to fall upon them.

“What in the name of the underworld is taking Haydrin so long?” One asked as he stood and looked west.

Rastain remained crouched on the low hillside above the camp, as Sid disappeared into the shadows. The time to strike was not right. Rastain  cautiously positioned himself just a few feet away from the fire’s revealing glow. The darkness would cloak him from their casual glances into the shadows outside the camp.

“Shut up and sit down, Darrin.”

“Yeah. No one cares about Haydrin and his goofy side kick. They probably got lost in the dark.”

“Bah… Rimick most likely got lost and Haydrin didn’t know what to do next.”

“Haydrin is even more clueless then a freaking changeling. The big ox is probably just standing there waiting, with that dumb look on his face.”

“I can see it now. He’s contemplating if he should take a leak or wait for Rimick. Most likely wondering if it would be best to just stay put and take a leak right there on the spot.”

They all laughed at the expense of their fallen comrades. Rastain smiled, they would soon join them. They could spend the rest of eternity in the underworld drinking, laughing and joking.

Rastain gripped his swords tightly as he saw Sid slowly advancing toward the fire. The wolf boldly entered into the camp.

“Whoa! What the…” One yelled as he came face to face with the snarling wolf.

“Kill it!” another cried.

The Erahaim drew their swords and Rastain stood up from the darkness above them. He jumped right into the middle of the three soldiers, slashing their hastily drawn swords aside. Rastain crouched low as he  circled around the soldiers. He was consumed with an uncontrollable rage that burned in his veins.

The soldiers stood their ground, but fear was rising quickly in their hearts. The blood covered mad man and his wolf had emerged from the darkness like demons from the deepest pit. The look in the man’s eyes was dark and rage filled, giving them pause to the idea of fighting or fleeing. One of the soldiers lowered his sword as he nodded to the others. They turned and slowly backed off.

“Who the hell are you?” The one they referred to earlier as Darrin asked.

“I’m your judge and executioner.” Rastain snarled as he slowly continued circling.

“Rimick and Haydrin have already been sentenced for their crimes, now it’s time for your sentencing.” Rastain spat out the words with contempt.

“What?” Darrin asked. He knew instantly that there was no reasoning with this man.

“You killed and slaughtered innocents. Women and children in the dark while they slept.” Rastain pointed his sword directly at Darrin.

Darrin swallowed hard. This crazy man must be referring to the elven caravan they had encountered earlier. Rimick and Haydrin had been ordered to detain them.  Haydin although had a taste for blood, Darrin could easily guess what they had done.

“Look… I didn’t order my men to do any such thing.” Darrin tried to plead with Rastain.

“Enough… you carry the responsibility for the actions of your men.” Rastain shouted as he nodded to Sid.

The wolf reacted instantly leaping into the air and knocking one of the soldiers to the ground. The soldier tried to fight back but sid was a blur of fangs and fur. The wolf went instantly for the soldier’s throat, ripping out bone and flesh in one swift motion. Rastain charged forward swinging his sword at Darrin as he spun around to come behind the soldier. Darrin barely was able to recover. He backed up and raise his sword in defense. The blood gushed out of his nearly severed left arm as he raised his sword to defend off Rastain’s relentless barrage of slashing blades.

Darrin’s attempt at parrying off the attacks was feeble and ineffective. Rastain’s twin blades sliced through the Erahaim’s neck in one swift motion. Rastain stood over the fallen man’s body as he stood with his back to the remaining soldier. He needed a witness, a survivor that would tell the others the cost of slaughtering innocent elves.

“Run…” Rastain growled over his shoulder.

The remaining soldier needed no further encouragement. He had stood motionless and transfixed in horror as the wolf and blood crazed hunter had slaughtered his two companions. He was just a foot soldier following orders, untested and newly recruited. The soldier ran toward a small cusp of tree’s where their horses had been and grabbed the nearest one. He paused to look over his shoulder as he galloped off. The wolf stood silhouetted against the dark sky its blue eyes seemed to burn into his soul from atop the small hill. The blood crazed hunter was chasing him on foot. He spurred his horse on faster as the image of the hunter’s blood covered face and body was burnt into his mind’s eye.

Rastain led chase only for a minute or so. The horse quickly out distanced him and headed deeper into Erahaim territory. The soldier would live another night, maybe another day.

Age of Ruin: Prelude to war
by Rastain
18th Apr 2014, 6:55 PM
Rastain

Age of ruin: Prelude to war

prelude to war final print

The spring winds gently rolled across the green valley, carrying with them the fresh new smell of spring. The winter snows had finally resided, though a slight chill still rolled down from the surrounding  mountains. Winter was finally over and the new season change had arrived suddenly, not an unusual occurrence for the mountainous region known as the Rashine mountains.

Rastain closed his eyes as he listened to the sounds of the valley and took a deep breath of the fresh spring air. He had been on patrol for days and next to nothing had happened during that time. He was grateful, it meant that the elven kingdom was at peace. The sound of the approaching rider echoed in the breeze, he heard it before the pounding hoof beats echoed across the mountain sides.

“Rastain!” The rider hollered as he came into view. It was Bryliff, one of the younger rangers that had joined the ranks at the beginning of winter.

“Rastain!” Bryliff panted as he approached, pulling his mount to an abrupt halt. The stallion stamped and snorted as it paced back and forth. Bryliff slid off the horse once it stopped and was immediately stopped in his tracks. The large snarling wolf stared at him, its glistening teeth and dark blue eyes held him entranced for a moment.

“uh… Hi Sid.” Bryliff gulped back the sense of fear rising in his throat. The large black wolf always seemed to drive fear deep into his heart each time he encountered it. The wolf’s dark blue eyes seemed old and wise, as it stared at him snarling. Bryliff was convinced it could see right into the deepest recess of his soul.

“Commander Monsaic, I have urgent news.” Bryliff suddenly remembered his decorum and addressed Rastain properly. Sid ceased his snarling and turned away from Bryliff and stood at Rastain’s side. Bryliff was convinced the wolf had a smug look of satisfaction on its face. He pushed the thought out of his mind and pulled out a small scroll from his pouch.

“Must be something big happening. My patrol ends tonight.” Rastain took the scroll and read through its contents. He looked up gravely at Bryliff.

“Have you read this?” Rastain asked as he handed the scroll back.

“No sir.” Bryliff answered. He was surprised that the commander had asked him such a question. He was even more surprised that he handed the scroll back.

“General Alvarin has called a war council and all rangers have been called back to Valencar Keep.” Rastain looked to the west and scowled as he noted the sun was starting to slowly transverse its afternoon course.

“We only have six hours of daylight left. Valencar Keep is at least a day’s journey to the west.” Rastain grumbled as he turned to head west.

“Sir if I may?” Bryliff asked as he pulled out a small case from his pack. The case was a small nondescript wooden box, but Rastain knew instantly what lie within.

“Seriously? A summoning stone?” Rastain asked as he took the box from Bryliff.

Summoning stones were a rare and ancient form of magic, left over from ages long past. It was believed that the stones had been crafted by the first dwarven runemasters and given only to a select few mages. Over the centuries most of the stones had either been destroyed or lost, to the lament of many a mage. Only a handful of them remained amongst the dwarves and the elves. They where highly coveted and used sparingly. The stone’s imbued magic allowed them to be attuned to specific locations. Once the stone was later activated it would open a portal that one could travel through to the exact destination.

“Aye. The master mage gave me one for each of the commanders on my list out here in borderlands.” Bryliff smiled and mounted back on his horse.

“With your permission commander.” Bryliff nodded waiting for permission to depart.

Rastain nodded and Sid growled as the ranger turned and rode off.

“Cut it out.” Rastain looked down at Sid and the wolf ceased its snarling. Rastain turned his attention to the small box. The summoning stone inside the box was a small black obsidian stone, the shiny rock reflected the rays of sunlight off it as he lifted it out of its felt padding. As the sun’s ray’s hit the stone, Rastain could see the faint magic runes glow across the stones surface.

“Well here goes, you ready?” Rastain asked as he looked at Sid.

“Valencar Keep.” Rastain whispered the name of his desired destination. The runes on the stone flared to life and shot off the stone like elven arrows fired from the high ramparts of a castle. They swirled around in a clockwise fashion, then a counterclockwise fashion in rapid succession until they flared out brightly in a blinding flash. At first the appearing portal was a small black speck that appear, growing rapidly into a large swirling vortex. Rastain could feel the magic pulling him as the winds kicked up around him. The keep itself could be seen at the vortex’s center, as if one was looking through a window in one of the keeps towers.

“Let’s go.”

rashine mts prelude to war

Rastain stepped through the portal, with Sid following obediently. The portal whisked shut. They appeared instantly into the court yard of valencar keep. The stone in his hand was cold and lifeless as Rastain looked at it. The trip through the portal was instant, no different then simply stepping through a doorway.

The main courtyard of the keep was in chaos, organized chaos but chaos never the less. Couriers and pages scurried back and forth, patrol units and battalions all filling in through the main gates as well as commanders and generals all appearing instantly as they activated the summoning stones. Rastain didn’t bother to linger and watch, instead he headed straight for the main tower. The elves where massing for war, that much was evident, but war with whom was the real question.

The tower guards looked at him with suspicion for a moment and then let him pass. Rastain found it a bit odd that they hesitated before letting a commander of the High elven rangers enter the main tower. He shrugged it off, the answer would soon be evident once he met with the general.

The interior of the main tower was as chaotic as the courtyard. Tables and makeshift maps where on display everywhere. Rastain made his way to the general’s office and knocked on the door. Sid let out a low growl as the soldiers in the room looked at them with curiosity and suspicion. Rastain took a mental note on the strange behavior as he heard the generals voice from behind the door.

“Enter.”

General Alvarin was seated at his desk, reading over scrolls and maps. He was dark skinned compared to most high elves. His head was also completely shaved and scarred from his years of war in the service of the king. A distinct and purposeful deviation from the norm amongst high elves.

“Rastain, Come in and sit.” Alvarin pointed toward a nearby chair as he continued reading through one of the scrolls. He didn’t bother to look up or even speak further till he had finished.

“I’m glad to see you are one of the first ones back.” Alvarin spoke as he stood and walked over to the window. He stood with his back to Rastain as he continued.

“You know me by now, and know I chose to speak simply and to the point.” He turned to look at Rastain.

“The elves are at war.” Alvarin paused waiting to gauge Rastain’s reaction. He assumed the ranger would take the news in stride revealing little of his own personal feelings. He smiled as he noticed Rastain’s calm demeanor and stoic expression.

“I gathered as much, once I arrived. It’s kind of obvious with all the commotion outside.” Rastain smirked slightly as he answered.

“The real question is… who are we at war with?”

Alvarin’s expression flashed a sudden look of sadness, but it was quickly replaced with his usual stern demeanor.

“The dark elves and the frost elves have declared war.” Alvarin answered as he sat back down at his desk.

“For what reasons?” This time Rastain’s voice showed his concern and grief.

“Religion, racial, the oppression of their sovereign rights, you name it. It really doesn’t matter the frost elves have already attacked our outposts along the north and the dark elves have moved their armies along our southern borders.” Alvarin pulled a scroll out and handed it to Rastain.

“The capital city is embroiled in a political quagmire, the church has taken this as a sign of the king’s weakness and have started moving towards dethroning him in the senate.” Alvarin waited as Rastain read the scroll’s detailing of the protests, accusations and racial riots breaking out across the capital before he continued.

“The dark elves and the frost elves both claim the right to rule elven kind, pointing back to ancestral ties to the first born and right of rule. It’s all crap if you ask me.” Alvarin sat back in his chair and ran his hand over his scarred head. Rastain noticed the old and tired look flash across the general’s face.

“This situation now brings up a point that I hate to even mention…”

Rastain interrupted the general before he could finish his statement.

“My mixed heritage and my stand as one of the princes of Queshanmori.” Rastain answered flatly.

“Yes. I hate to even mention it, but there are those that will want to use you as a symbol for their cause.” Alvarin scowled as he spoke, he hated to having this conversation.

“I’m not about to let that happen, I’m keeping you as far from the capital as possible.” Alvarin stood again and walked over to the window. He remained silent as he watched the troops preparing below.

“I figured my heritage was an issue, the moment I arrived. The looks of suspicion where evident on the troops faces.” Rastain broke the silence as he spoke. He never let the fact that he was half dark elf and half human bother him, he was well aware though that others found issue with it from time to time.

“The troops are well trained and you are an officer in the Ranger Corp. They will say nothing nor do anything to cause you problems.” Alvarin answered. He scowled in disgust at the reaction of those with weak minds that felt race mattered.

“However, I do have plans for you.” Alvarin smirked as he faced Rastain.

“I’m going to make you a symbol. However a symbol of what it means to be a Ranger.” Alvarin walked over to his desk and sorted through various scrolls till he found the one he was looking for.

“This scroll details the movements of the dark elves into the forgotten lands. We don’t know why they are there. They have moved a small force deep into the wastes and we need to know why. I have my suspicions, however they are unfounded.” Alvarin paused as he handed the scroll to Rastain.

“I believe they are looking for proof to their claims of the right to rule. The forgotten lands are the lands of legend and history, the birthplace of the mortal races. Home to the dragons and  the shamari. The land is cursed and treacherous, but its secrets and mysteries have never been unveiled. I’m convinced that dark elves intend to exploit that to their advantage.  What ever they claim to find doesn’t have to be true for them to simply say it is.”   Alvarin studied Rastain’s face and expression for the slightest hint as to what the Ranger was thinking. He saw nothing beyond what Rastain wanted him to see. Indifference.

“The report also speaks to the humans moving as well to the outskirts of their borders taking advantage of our “civil unrest”.” Rastain scowled slightly, before he quickly maintained his composure.

“Yes, the Erahaim have been moving to make land grabs on the edges of their kingdom, but we haven’t seen or heard anything for sure to support it either way. I have a hunch they may have started to move into the forgotten lands as well, though I cannot prove it.” Alvarin suddenly had a spark of excitement flash in his eyes as he sat at the edge of his desk. He leaned forward as the glean in his eye became stronger.

“That’s where we are going to use your lineage to our advantage. I am sending you to the forgotten lands. You’ll met Talia there on the borders and proceed to find out exactly what it is that the dark elves are doing. Your secondary mission is to find out what the humans are intending. You’re going to have to travel through their lands to get to the wastes. So it’s best you let your hair down, and change your armor. Blend in, use your human features to your advantage. Once you get to the forgotten lands Talia will brief you on the next leg of your mission.” Alvarin was once again giving orders, the commanding tone left no room for further discussion. Rastain wasn’t going to be deterred. He stood and looked out the window at the courtyard below.

“Why Talia?” Rastain asked. He already knew the answer but he wanted Alvarin to answer it himself.

“She volunteered.” Alvarin stated.

“And it has nothing to do with her connection to the royal family?” Rastain wanted to simply know that she wasn’t being sacrificed for politics as he was.

“Nope. You best get ready, you leave once the sun sets.” Alvarin answered. His tone told Rastain the conversation was over.

“Yes sir.” Rastain nodded and left the office without any further word.

~*~

Shortly after the last rays of the sun  had set and the sentry fires lit, Rastain set out under the cover of darkness. He never once looked back at the elven fortress. He didn’t have to, something inside told him there was no need. He had no problems leaving his elven armor behind, he preferred the black non nondescript chain mail and leather armor he now wore. He pulled his cloak over his head and headed down the road leading away from the keep.

The sounds of the forest at night brought peace to Rastain as he and Sid continued traveling toward the human borders. He didn’t let his mind wander or dwell on the current conditions within the elven nations, he was focused on the task at hand. The night held many dangers and with the elves being at war those dangers were now intensified. He caught the scent of the smoke well before the dull amber glow of the fires could be seen further down the road. Rastain looked at Sid and simply nodded. The wolf lowered his head and growled softly before bounding off in the other direction.

The moments that it took to approach the clearing, where the fires blazed, gave Rastain enough time to assess what was actually happening. He saw the human soldiers dragging bodies into piles and rummaging through the over turned wagons. A high elven flag , torn and shredded  lay at the nearest fire’s edge. It was clear what had taken place and the anger started to rage inside Rastain. He drew his swords and walked into the clearing. He saw the elven bodies laying there, his heart ached as he saw that even the females and the children had been slaughtered.

The humans must have come across an elven merchant caravan camping for the night and with little thought or mercy simply cut them down while they slept. They were dogs, savages and Rastain wasn’t going to let them get away with slaughtering women and children.

“What we got here?” The nearest soldier asked as he saw Rastain enter the clearing.

“You there. What’s your name and where you hail from.” The other human soldier asked.

“Does it matter?” Rastain answered through clenched teeth.

“Not really.” One answered as he shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t need to know your name to gut you like a little pig.”

They grinned as they drew their swords and advanced towards Rastain. They took their time as they slowly encircled the ranger, the arrogance and cockiness in their demeanor made Rastain grin as he studied them.

“What you grinning about boy, you think you can take both of us?” The largest of the two asked as he puffed out his chest in an unconscious show of bravado.

“I hope you’re prepared for this.” Rastain answered.

He saw the flash of black fur bursting through the flames from the shadows behind the large human just as his companion screamed to warn him.

“What the hell! Look out Haydrin.”

The warning was to late. Sid was more then the human soldier could handle. The wolf was larger then most wolves and had been raised with Rastain, fighting and training with the Rangers. The wolf knew how to fight against a well armed foe. Sid used his enormous weight and speed to barrel into the large human. Knocking him to the ground. Rastain assumed that the last thing Haydrin saw was Sid’s gleaming teeth as the wolf sunk them deep into his jugular.

The remaining soldier charged at Rastain, but it was a futile attempt. The soldier was reacting out of stunned fear and was off guard from seeing Sid suddenly burst from the shadows without warning. Rastain stepped sideways and swung both his swords in one motion. The soldier stood there motionless with an expression of shock frozen on his face. His body slumped forward as his severed head rolled back into the nearby fire. Rastain looked down at the corpse laying at his feet and noticed the red arm band with the double headed black phoenix on it , identifying them as Erahaim soldiers.

Rastain turned to Sid and nodded. The wolf sat back on his hunches and let out a piercing howl that echoed through out the valley. The Erahaim never traveled in small numbers, the others would be nearby. The general wanted to know more about the Erahaim’s intent, the answer to that was clear in Rastain’s mind. Innocents had been slaughtered for no reason, even in times of war this was uncalled for. Rastain would answer blood with blood.

The hunt was on…

The Evolution of a changing world.
by Rastain
21st Feb 2014, 5:08 PM
Rastain

The evolution of a created world is always something that takes the creator by surprise. If your an artist , writer, craftsman or whatever creative form you use to express your thoughts and ideas, change is the one constant. As a storyteller my  mind is always evolving the worlds I create. I can not help it, its just the nature of the beast. Some stories grab you and force you to take residence in the world you have created. You do so as a loving parent. As time goes on and you improve your skills you realize that the world you have so loving created has also undergone a huge change. I myself have just witnessed this.

I released my novel “Ancient Darkness”  seven months ago. In that time I have seen the online comic series spring to life and just recently the graphic novelization of the novel go into production. I teamed up with an amazingly talented comic artist by the name of Paul Martin. Paul has taken the novel and started to create it over into a graphic novel, chapter by chapter. The following images are samples of Paul’s past work and give you a great feel as to the direction of the graphic novel.

( The ink work on the last two images was done by Emil J  Novak SR. of Queencity comics in Buffalo New York )

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With Paul’s input and suggestions the online digital comic is also evolving. We wanted both projects to intertwine one picking up where the other left off. In turn this has created a new feel and look to the world and its characters. The make over has been in the works for weeks now. New character looks and designs as well as a revamp of the look and feel of the world. Some changes are cosmetic others are huge altering changes to the story arc and presentation of the story. Paul has be instrumental in pushing the boundaries of Shadora and Kaldr bane. I took every suggestion and bit of advice and started working on new content and redesigns.

Kaldr bane age of ruin promo

So my advise to every artist, author, storyteller etc out there is “embrace change” . You never know where change will lead you.

I recently got a email from my publisher and in it he mentioned one line that I feel is fitting at this time.

“Create something bigger than your book”

Changes on the horizon
by Rastain
6th Feb 2014, 1:45 AM
Rastain

Changes are on the horizon for Kaldr Bane Chronicles.

My novel "Ancient Darkness" has been slated for conversion into a graphic novel. The first issue will be released in October 2014, and Paul Martin is the comic artist I have teamed up with to bring the novel to life. Paul is an amazing comic artist and I believe you will love what he has in the works. I will be posting some panel previews and the cover desgin in the near future. That being said it, has also taken the online comic in new directions. The first change is the look of Rastain and Azzorrian. They have had a complete make over. The comic itself is currently being redesigned as well to flow with the graphic novels design and feel. The story will continue with the new look and feel, but it will start fresh where I have currently left off. Changes to the existing online comic will be minor ( only one page change so far ), but moving forward it's my hope to bring you an enjoyable story both visually and plot wise. All the characters will be getting major/minor changes and the look will be fresh and new. The story itself will be more indepth and flow more easily. Working with Paul has given me new perspective and guidance that will bring a more enjoyable experience for all in the end.

I have attempted to bring you the best I could to this point, and in that spirit I felt ramping up the look and feel is a good change in the long run. I will keep the first two issues intact and introduce the changes in Issue #3. I appreciate the patience and support. Change is the main idea and goal. Improve with each step that we take. The graphic novels launch will bring lots of new and hopefully great changes to Kaldr Bane Chronicles.

So while we wait, here's a sneak peak at the new look of Rastain and Azzorrian. 

 

 

 

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