The Tally Master’s Missing Scene

Uh, oh. I made a mistake.

I’ve been sharing my novel The Tally Master as a serial here on my blog, and…I left out a scene! Yikes! How did that happen?

Well, I know how it happened.

Most of the story is told in chapters composed of three or four scenes each. But there are two special scenes that form their own chapters and that have titles instead of “Chapter 1” or “Chapter 2” and so on.

The first of these special scenes occurs between chapters 8 and 9. It tells a North-lands fairy tale that shows the significance of Gael’s name.

So you could read straight from chapter 8 through chapter 9, skipping this fairy tale interlude, and never know that you’d missed anything. That’s just what my serial readers have done! I apologize, guys! I’ve fixed my mistake. The Legend of the Mark of Gaelan is now present in the sequence. New serial readers will encounter it in the proper place.

I’ll share it below in this post as well, so everyone who missed can catch it now. But, gosh, I’m sorry! Forgive me?

What happened is that I put the story up on my blog a chapter at a time. So when it was time to put the next chapter up, I looked to see which one I’d done last. Chapter 8. Okay, 9 comes after 8. So, Chapter 9.


I should have looked at the Table of Contents. That would have shown me that one of the special scenes came next. Lesson learned. Once I get Chapter 19 posted, I will not then post Chapter 20. I’ll post the next special scene!

So why is the significance of Gael’s name important? Because he’s named after a legendary hero who most people in my North-lands revile. Gaelan was the North-lands equivalent of our Earth’s Cain. To learn why, read on… 😀

Legend of the Mark of Gaelan

Long ago, in the dawn of time, there lived two brothers in the land of Erynis. They studied magery, and each vied with the other to be the most skillful, the most powerful, and the most creative magus in the north. Despite their rivalry, they loved one another as brothers do: strong affection mingled with equally strong jealousy.

Each boasted that his magery was better. And each laughed, because who was to judge between them?

The friends of Cayim, the elder brother, would surely say he excelled every other magus in the land, while the students taught by Gaelan, the younger brother, would choose their teacher as the best. And all the people of Erynis were either friends of Cayim or students of Gaelan.

Now it chanced that the twin gods of Erynis heard the boasts of the two brothers. Thelor, the god of cleverness and intellect, felt sure that his powers of reason could discern which brother was the more masterful magus. And Elunig, the goddess of wisdom, loved her twin and wished him to experience the enjoyment that exercising discernment would give him.

So, when next the holy hermit of Erynis sat in meditation, Elunig granted him a vision. In his vision, Gaelan and Cayim traveled to the hermit’s shrine and from there were transported to the heavenly home of the twin gods, where they would be judged. The superior brother would be offered the choice between two wondrous gifts.

When Cayim heard of the hermit’s vision, he longed for Thelor’s gift: the enchanting of a well such that the one who drank of its waters would always know whether a given fact be false or true.

And when Gaelan learned of the hermit’s vision, he yearned for Elunig’s gift: the enchanting of a spring such that the one who drank from it would always know whether a proposed action was wise or foolish.

On the eve of midsummer, the two brothers met and agreed to the trial of mastery. They journeyed to the hermit’s shrine and were brought to the twin gods’ home as the hermit’s vision had promised.

They received their welcome in a garden of surpassing beauty. Red poppies crowded the borders. White roses, heavy with scent, climbed the trellises. And a fountain splashed.

Elunig spoke the first words, her voice gentle. “You are safe here, but do not stray into the wilderness beyond the hedge, for it is perilous there.”

Thelor spoke next, his tone stern. “Nor should you leave the chambers to which we bid you in our house, for dangers lurk in unexpected corners.”

Gaelan, overwhelmed by the majesty of the twin gods, bowed reverentially. But Cayim delayed, curious to discover if he could understand more of the divine by scrutinizing these magnificent examples of it. While he stared, and while Elunig gazed affectionately upon Gaelan, Thelor laid a finger aside his nose and winked.

Then a servant brought them goblets of fruit nectar to quaff, and when they had quenched their thirst, led them indoors.

Gaelan bathed his face and hands in the basin provided and lay down upon the silken couch to sleep. But Cayim waited until his brother’s eyes closed and retraced his steps to the garden. There he found Thelor, seated on the steps below the fountain.

“Why did you wink?” Cayim asked.

“I wished to tell you that my sister longs for a babe, despite our great mother declaring that enough divine children have entered the world.”

“Why did you wish to tell me this?” asked Cayim.

“That I shall not tell you,” answered Thelor. And he dismissed the curious brother.

The next day, after they had broken their fast on cream and honey and peaches, the brothers were ushered into a great hall with white marble floors and pillars.

Gaelan performed his magery first. He summoned flame, which transformed to sunlight and then into ice. He built a palace of the ice, which melted to become a mountain lake in which brilliant fishes swam. One fish grew into a dragon, bursting from the surface of the water and soaring to the clouds. The dragon’s scales became rose petals, and the beast came apart in a shower of blossoms, falling through a rainbow.

Elunig clapped in delight when Gaelan finished.

“Beautiful! Beautiful!” she exclaimed.

Cayim’s performance was less elaborate, by far.

He spread a magical carpet of rich blue and green threads on the marble floor. He summoned a rush basket, intricately plaited, to rest upon the carpet. He caused the soft trills of a flute to sound. And then he laid an infant to rest within his nest.

Elunig rushed forward, catching the child in her arms and pressing it to her breast. “Oh!” she cried.

“She is a human child, not a divine one,” said Cayim, “and so I judge that the great mother cannot object. Neither can any human mother, for this child has neither mother nor father nor any kin to care for her. She is yours, if you will have her.”

“Oh!” cried Elunig again.

Thelor smiled. “You envisioned this trial of skill as a gift to me, sister. But now I make it over to you.”

Elunig kissed the babe’s downy head. “Cayim has won my heart, if he has not won your reason, my twin,” she said.

“Then Cayim shall be the master magus,” declared Thelor. And then, forgetting discretion, he winked in full view of both brothers.

Upon seeing Thelor’s wink, Gaelan guessed all that had hitherto been hidden to him. Jealous rage flooded through him, and he lashed out. Had he been arguing with his brother, he might have lashed out with words. Had he been wrestling with Cayim, he would surely have struck with his fists. But because he’d been performing magery, he assailed his brother with the energea of his magery. And because he was full of wrath, his magery lacked his usual control.

His energea cracked out as black lines of force limned with gold. Not blue or silver or green, all safe. But most perilous black and gold.

Cayim fell to the floor, dead.

Within Gaelan, his heart broke—for he loved his brother yet—and his nodes—the source of his energea—tore. So strong was the disruption that Gaelan’s inner damage manifested immediately in his outer form. His ears grew enlarged and cupped. His nose lengthened, curving up. His skin sagged, and his back hunched. His thumbs became crooked and long. The truldemagar claimed him violently.

The twin gods returned Gaelan to Erynis and then did penance for centuries. They had destroyed two worthy men.

Ever after, all who dwelt within Erynis called the truldemagar the mark of Gaelan. In other lands, some who heard the legend of Gaelan adopted that name as well.

And though the righteous hate Gaelan for his fratricide, the merciful grieve for Gaelan’s loss and revile Cayim for his trickery.

*     *     *

Want to read the serial? See:
The Tally Master, Chapter 1 (scene 1)

Want to know more about Gael’s world? See:
The Dark Tower
Mapping Ancient Rome onto Belzetarn
What Does the Tally Master Tally?
Map of the North-lands in the Bronze Age
Bronze Age Swords
Brother Kings



Dragon-gods of Hantida

Last week, I emailed my newsletter subscribers a note about the Hantidan dragon-gods. Since I was about to announce the release of Sovereign Night, I thought a bit of intriguing trivia might be something fun for my subscribers’ in-boxes.

The thing is…you, my blog readers, might enjoy it also. So here it is for your perusal.

(To those of you who are both blog readers and newsletter subscribers, my apologies for the duplication.) 😉

The Hantidan gods are more truly shapeshifters than dragons. They can take any living shape—man, woman, child, or beast. But in Hantidan belief, the native essence of dragon is shapeshifter. Hantidans describe the dragon form as one in which the god assumes the physical nature of nine beasts all at once.

The dragon’s head resembles that of a stallion, the eyes those of a hawk, the ears a cow’s, the antlers a stag’s, the neck a snake’s, the belly that of a tortoise, the scales those of a carp, the claws an eagle’s, and the soles those of a tiger.

The Hantidan pantheon consists of nineteen dragon-gods, seven of them “greater” and twelve of them “subtle.” Each one possesses a characteristic color when in dragon form, and preferred forms when walking as a human or prowling as a beast.

For example, Enyakatho—the god of intelligence and the spirit of inquiry—bears green scales in dragon form, but might stalk the jungle as a lynx or visit an outlying village as a skinny and wizened old man.

Gael and Keir first attempt to scope out the Glorious Citadel by attending an offering ceremony held for Enyakatho in the public Court of Earthly Order.

Enyakatho is considered the patron god of Hantida’s royal family, as well as of scribes, poets, and philosophers.

Here’s a list of the “greater” dragons and their attributes:

Name—Attribute—Symbolic Hue—Preferred Beast—Human Appearance
Orunal—will and power—gold—lion—queenly old woman
Enyakatho—intelligence and inquiry—green—lynx—wizened old man
Okegiga—commitment—red—dog—young man
Eningizimu—inspiration—blue—eagle—woman of middle years
Imfanelo—life or vitality—bronze—bull—18-year-old youth
Bochabela—luck—silver—cat—5-year-old girl
Bophirimela—beauty—white—horse—2-year-old child

The Hantidan dragon-gods play no active role in Sovereign Night, but rather form a pervasive part of the physical and cultural landscape.

The ruler of the city is called the “Dragon Blessed.” And much of the art—paintings, sculptures, vases, scrolls, and architectural ornament—depicts dragons.

When one such artwork is damaged during events in Sovereign Night, the nobles of the royal court speculate that whoever did the deed should have targeted the bronze Imfanelo—patron of peasants—rather than the gold Orunal—patron of the Dragon Blessed himself.

For more about Sovereign Night, see:
Timekeeping in Hantida
The Baths of the Glorious Citadel
A Townhouse in Hantida
Hantidan Garb
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
Following Gael & Keir: a Photo Tour



Following Gael & Keir

I’ll be announcing the release of Sovereign Night very soon.

While we wait…I thought it might be fun to take a photo tour, following in Gael’s and Keir’s footsteps as the first few chapters of the story unfold.

*     *     *

Sovereign Night starts in the city streets of Hantida. They’re narrow, with a lot of foot traffic, some rickshaws and palanquins.

But soon enough Gael and Keir enter the formal northern court of the Glorious Citadel. Tourists are welcome there, as well as pilgrims to the temples located within its vast sweep of stone.

A ceremony sponsored by the priests of the green dragon-god—Enyakatho, patron of scribes, scholars, and the royal family—provides Gael and Keir their ostensible destination, but an accident intervenes before they can observe it.

The residential southern court of the Glorious Citadel is more intimate and welcoming in style. It features numerous courtyards and gardens.

Walkways rim the gardens, giving access to suites of rooms occupied by palace functionaries and pavilions inhabited by favored nobles.

Gael and Keir meet someone very important to their quest in a wilderness garden featuring a waterfall.

Following this fateful meeting, they are escorted to the guest quarters reserved for them.

I hope that whets your appetite for the novel! 😀

*     *     *

For more about Sovereign Night, see:
Timekeeping in Hantida
The Baths of the Glorious Citadel
A Townhouse in Hantida
Hantidan Garb
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
Dragon-gods of Hantida



Hantidan Garb

Although I draw inspiration from the history and cultures of the real world for my stories, I don’t reproduce reality wholesale. Which means that when I seek out images to represent elements of my fiction, I rarely find any that exactly match the visions I entertain in my imagination. I must make due with photographs and artwork that are almost what I have in mind, or close.

Luckily, almost and close often convey quite a bit. 😀

One consistent feature of Hantidan garb is that it possesses an asymmetric closure, with fastenings that run down the front, along one side, from neck to hem.

The peasants who work in the rice paddies, fish the river, or cut reeds in the wetlands wear linen jackets over skirts or wide trousers. Their garb needs to be practical, permitting free movement of the limbs, durable, and comfortable in the hot, humid climate.

The portrait of Kan Gao (at right) does not have the Hantidan side closure, but the jacket, skirt, and trousers otherwise mimic the Hantidan garb of a country laborer quite well.

City dwellers with less physically demanding jobs tend to wear robes. Apprentices, messengers, journeymen, clerks, delivery men, and other workers sport robes of drab linen.

Master artisans, scribes, business owners, and well-to-do professionals chose well-dyed linens, often adorned by tassels on the sleeves and shoulders.

A sash worn over the shoulder secures a pouch for carrying coin, abacus, or other tools used often in their respective trades.

Senior servants and palace functionaries wear silk robes, but in subdued colors.

The garments worn by the hanfu promoters at right are secured by sashes, whereas my Hantidans would find a snug binding around the waist too hot. But aside from that detail, the dark green silk and monochrome edgings are very like some of the robes Gael and Keir see while sojourning in the Glorious Citadel.

Dark green, dark blue, and dark yellow are common colors, as is dark gray, the robes donned by Gael and Keir.

Wealthy merchants and lesser nobility flaunt silk robes in brilliant colors: crimson, orange, turquoise, leaf green, sky blue, and so on. The most privileged might possess tone-on-tone patterns woven into the fabric, but sumptuary laws prevent more elaborate designs.

The sokutai attire shown at right depicts the shimmering brilliance typical of garments worn by the rich and powerful of Hantida, but lacks the asymmetric neckline and side closure of their robes.

Only the elite among the nobility are permitted to wear elaborate, patterned brocades. Their luxurious robes are commonplace within their city palaces, on their country estates, and within the Glorious Citadel.

But they are rarely seen on the streets of Hantida. The elite take the air in secluded courtyards and gardens or hunt on broad private acreage. When they travel from one city residence to another, or from rural estate to urban mansion, they occupy curtained palanquins more often than not.

The first such robes encountered by Gael and Keir are fashioned of “an ornate brocade depicting herons lifting in flight.” The second feature “a tracery of green leaves and lizards upon a bronze ground.”

The traditional wedding dress (above at right), although beautiful, would be considered a simpler design among the high nobility of Hantida.

The robes worn by Emperor Qianlong (immediate right) are more typical garb for the highest of the high Hantidans.

The guards standing sentry duty on the walls of the Glorious Citadel wear bronze scale mail, but the silhouette of their armor is very similar to the ceremonial armor depicted in the portrait (right) of Emperor Qianlong.

For more about The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, see:
Timekeeping in Hantida
The Baths of the Glorious Citadel
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
That Sudden Leap



Timekeeping in Hantida

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth is an adventure mystery with a good bit of action and fighting.

It’s not a brain-bender mystery like the clever Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers, in which the time tables of trains prove integral to solving the plot.

Nor is it a mystery of manners like Georgette Heyer’s witty Detection Unlimited, in which the behavior of clocks plays an important role.

Nonetheless, as I wrote The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, I found myself thinking about timekeeping and how the Hantidans did it.

Since the story takes place in the Bronze Age of my North-lands, the Hantidans would not be telling time with clocks or watches or digital phones. So how did they do it?

The earliest timekeeping devices in our own history were sundials. In sunny climes, they worked well…by day. But what about the night time? And what about places with cloud cover?

Hantida has a wet season and a dry season, but even in the dry season, a storm comes through on many days. Which meant that even if they used sundials, they probably used something else to supplement them.

Drawing again from history, I had sandglasses (hourglasses), candle clocks, incense clocks, and water clocks as options.

Some historians speculate that the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans used sandglasses. They certainly had the technology necessary to make them. But the historical record does not contain actual mention of them as it does of water clocks. No one seems to be sure when sandglasses were invented and first used, but it may have been as late as the Middle Ages.

I am not absolutely strict about anachronisms in my North-lands—I write fantasy, after all—but I like to use real history as a guide. So I decided against sandglasses for my Hantidans.

The earliest mention of candle clocks comes earlier than those of sandglasses, in a Chinese poem written in 520 AD. That’s slightly better than the Middle Ages, but candle clocks have other disadvantages, namely that it’s hard to get the wicks and wax uniform enough to prevent inaccuracy in their timekeeping. Drafts were also a problem with the even burning of the candles.

Besides…520 AD still remains a lot later than 1500 BC!

(In the west, the candle clock bore regular markings on the column of wax. In the east, weights were attached to threads embedded in the wax. As the candle burned down, the threads were released, and the weights dropped into a plate below with a clatter.)

Before my research into timekeeping, I’d never heard of incense clocks. When I did— Wow! Just, wow! I fell in love!

Evidently incense can be calibrated more accurately than candle wax, so incense clocks are more accurate than candle clocks. And differently fragranced incense can be used in rotation, so that different hours are associated with different scents.

I had only one problem with bestowing incense clocks on my Hantidans. I absolutely knew that the Daoine Meras, the people in the next Gael & Keir Adventure, use incense clocks.

I didn’t want to repeat myself!

So my Hantidans received water clocks.

Actually, water clocks are pretty cool. And they appeared in Babylon around the 16th century BC, perhaps earlier still in ancient China (4000 BC). Water clocks and humans have been together for a very long time!

The earliest water clocks were outflow clocks. That is, the water flowed out from a hole in the bowl. As the water level fell, it passed markings on the inner surface that indicated the time. Often the dripping water was not caught by another vessel, but allowed to absorb into the sand or earth below.

Later water clocks were inflow clocks, in which water from an upper vessel flowed through a calibrated channel into a lower bowl. The inner surface of the lower bowl was marked, and as the water level rose, it indicated the time.

The Persians used yet another style to ensure that the water from their underground irrigation channels was distributed evenly among the farms sharing a given aquifer. They placed a small bowl with a calibrated hole in a larger bowl filled with water. The water flowed through the hole to fill the smaller bowl. When it sank, the clock manager would place a pebble in a container to count that iteration, pour the water back into the larger bowl, and then start the small bowl filling again.

I suspect my Hantidans use the inflow model of water clock.

But how did the Hantidans get started with timekeeping?

There’s plenty of water in Hantida: the river, the monsoons, the near-daily rain in the dry season, and a generous water table below ground. They wouldn’t have needed to divide water so carefully as did the Persians.

Here, real world history came to my rescue once again.

Some of the ancient cities were very populous, counting a hundred thousand people within their walls along with great wealth. They built walls to protect themselves and manned those walls with sentries who stood guard through both day and night.

The sentries needed to know when their watch was up and when the next one started. Timekeeping was required!

That made sense for Hantida.

I could just see the Keeper of the Watch sounding the drum in his tower on the city walls when the Keeper of the Clepsydra announced the first beat of the evening watch. And then, all over the city, itinerant time keepers would ring their chimes in echo of the drum beat.

I decided to model the Hantidan schedule of watches after those used by sailors.

Each day possesses seven watches. Five of them are 4 hours long. Two of them are but 2 hours long. This ensures that the sentries rotate through the watches, rather than staying with the same one indefinitely.

Each long watch has eight beats or chimes, each short watch, only four.

Midwatch     midnight – 4 am
Morning Watch     4 am – 8 am
Forenoon Watch     8 am – noon
Afternoon Watch     noon – 4 pm
Aja-watch the First     4 pm – 6 pm
Aja-watch the Second     6 pm – 8 pm
Evening Watch     8 pm – midnight

So…did Hantidan timekeeping come into The Sovereign’s Labyrinth at all? Or was it one of those fun bits of research that never make it onto the page?

I’m not telling! 😉

For more about The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, see:
The Baths of the Glorious Citadel
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
That Sudden Leap



The Baths of the Glorious Citadel

“The Hantidans know how to draw a bath,” Gael agreed.

Although the real benefit of the palace baths might be that a quiet bather could overhear useful gossip.

I must side with Gael on this one. Hantidans do indeed know how to draw a bath. I envisioned the Hantidan bath as resembling those of the Japanese: very deep, very hot, and including a view through a sliding screen of a stylized garden.

If I could visit Hantida right now, their baths would definitely feature in my itinerary!

In the morning, Gael returned to his room from the baths pleasantly relaxed and smelling of herbal soap. Unusually for him, he’d kept thinking at bay during his soak, focusing instead on the physical sensations—the extreme heat of the water Hantidans favored, its depth—well over his shoulders—the scented steam, the beauty of the sunlight on the bamboos right outside the partially open screens.

In spite of their lure, however, I initially categorized the Hantidan baths as an appealing detail of the setting and little more.

But as I moved more deeply into The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, I realized they served as more than evocative window dressing.

“I heard two gentlemen talking in the baths, gossiping about last night’s accident. Interesting that they classified it as an accident, by the by,” he added.

In the baths, Gael and Keir would learn clues to the mystery they encountered in the Glorious Citadel. They would discover new suspects to question. And Gael would have an informative encounter there.

It was down around a corner of the tile passageway and bigger than the rest of the tubs Gael had seen in the palace, with room enough for four.

Zithilo lounged in one corner of the bath, lanky legs stretched out before him along the tub floor, gaze fixed on a close, engoldened slice of slope visible through the open screen—afternoon was giving way to evening—overgrown by ferns, mosses, and shrubs. He was tall, skinny, and muscular. He didn’t bother to look over his shoulder when Gael’s step sounded in the doorway.

“Get in!” he urged. “The water is fine!”

Gotta stop there to avoid spoilers!

So…what do the baths look like?

Well, the photo at the top of this post shows a bath similar to the one that Zithilo invites Gael to share. And the photo at right has the feeling of the corridor giving onto the individual baths.

The baths were arranged along a narrow side corridor of white tile, a tall and solid wall on Gael’s left, a shoulder-high wall punctuated by a dozen open doorways on his right. Each doorway connected to a small cubical with hooks and a wooden bench, and a farther doorway to a square, sunken tub with a view onto a moss garden.

Steam wreathed the air, along with the scent of herbal soap.

There are many bath houses within the Glorious Citadel, and the approach to each is the standard roofed walkway that runs along the edges of the courtyards and gardens and beside the walls of the pavilions that compose the palace.

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth has grown under revision. The first draft came in at 78,000 words. As I write this blog post, the novel stands at over 95,000 words. I’ve edited and revised the first 75,000 of those, so you can see that I am closing in on the end. I hope to send the manuscript out for its next beta read soon!

For more about the setting of The Sovereign’s Labyrinth, see:
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel
That Sudden Leap



Claireau’s Retreat House

Disaster falls upon Lealle, the heroine of A Talisman Arcane, as she sits at the top of the steps to the retreat house.

She’s finished her lesson in magic and awaits her mother, who intends to shepherd Lealle home in the family brougham-landau. While Lealle waits, the bullies who tormented her in the opening scene of the book arrive and begin their taunts anew.

But it is what comes of this unpleasantness—not the interaction itself—that proves so horrible.

Lealle’s younger brother gets involved in the debacle, and the two kids eventually find themselves back in the waiting room of the retreat house, and then in an examining room.

A later scene features the courtyard garden and the colonnade that surrounds the herbs and flowers.

The floor plan below shows the layout of the retreat’s first floor. The second and third floors hold more examining rooms, as well as a library, study rooms, and personal quarters for a few of the teachers who live on the premises.

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Justice in Lealle’s World
Ohtavie’s Home
Wing-clap of the Phoenix



Wing-clap of the Phoenix

The antiphoners of Pavelle—magic users—give flowery names to their art.

Basic techniques taught to beginners include things such as the Zephyr’s Gavotte or the Breath of the Pegasus.

Lealle, the heroine of A Talisman Arcane, is learning advanced techniques such as the Nest of the Phoenix and the Flight of the Phoenix.

All of the techniques involve the manipulation of an inner energy referred to as energea.

Aural practitioners hear the energea as music. Kinesthetic practitioners feel it as weight within the body. And visual practitioners see it as glowing, sparking light.

Lealle is a visual practitioner, and her reach within for the energea shapes the both the result (such as healing a bruise) and the pattern of the flow of light.

If you were to cut across one of these currents of light and draw the cross-section, you would see a delicate snowflake of a pattern.

I imagined the magic of my North-lands long before I ever tried to tried to draw it.

And when I first put pen to paper, I didn’t realize what I was drawing. I thought I was creating images that had lain within my imagination unrealized until the tools from Zentangle unlocked them. This was true, but incomplete.

It was only when I explored the idea of publishing my drawings as a coloring book that I realized they were renditions of energea, and that there was a story about energea and a young mage I needed to tell!

You can read about the first stirrings of my inspiration, and see two other patterns of energea in these blog posts:
Nest of the Phoenix (Story for My Coloring Book)
Flight of the Phoenix (Page for a Coloring Book)

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Justice in Lealle’s World
Ohtavie’s Home
Claireau’s Retreat House



Ohtavie’s Home

Ohtavie de Bellay lives in a mansion that fronts onto a large square with a park.

The photo below of a gilded age home possesses exactly the right feeling for Ohtavie’s abode. I can imagine myself standing in the park and gazing at the opulence of the Maison de Bellay.

Because circumstance has forced Ohtavie to dismiss all of her servants, she doesn’t use most of the rooms in the mansion. The dining room was one of many swathed in holland covers to protect its furnishings.

Before the room was abandoned, it might have looked like this one in Marble House.

During the events that transpire in A Talisman Arcane, Ohtavie re-opens her father’s library and begins sitting there to read. I remember being glad, as I wrote, that she was re-discovering the solace of books!

When A Talisman Arcane opens, Ohtavie occupies the housekeeper’s parlor and bedroom. You can see them in the back right corner (next to the servants’ hall) of the floor plan below. (Click the floor plan for a larger image.)

For more about the world of A Talisman Arcane, see:
Tour Nileau
The Historical Tour Nileau
The Living Tour Nileau
The Dreaming Tour Nileau
Justice in Lealle’s (and Ohtavie’s) World
Wing-clap of the Phoenix
Claireau’s Retreat House



The Unicorn Is Killed

In the sixth tapestry of the unicorn cycle, the slaying of the unicorn is modeled after that of the stag in a stag hunt.

Two huntsmen wound the beast at the throat and shoulder, while a nobleman gives the death blow from behind with his sword.

The mort is sounded by a hornsman, signifying the demise of the beast. Beyond the hornsman, we see another vignette in which the body of the unicorn is bought to the lord and lady at the castle gate.

I’d always understood that wild boar were particularly dangerous adversaries (and they are), but apparently stags were even worse.

Thus Gaston Phoebus, in his Livre de la Chasse, quoted a popular saying: “After the boar, the doctor, and after the stag, the bier.”

Judging from what I learned of stag hunts, the hunting of a unicorn would be a lengthy and grueling affair. The unicorn would run fast and far, would fight when brought to bay, and then run again.

This led me to research what the effects of such a chase might be, which in turn brought me to learn about the respiratory system of the horse, which is extraordinary and extraordinarily efficient.

The length of time for which a horse can gallop is directly tied to the amount of oxygen he can take in. In studies on treadmills where a horse was given enriched air, he did not fatigue as early. Air is everything.

Just how much air do a horse’s lungs move? A lot.

During the course of a 5-furlong race around a racetrack, a horse will have moved six bathtubs worth of air through his lungs. And the rate of flow for the moving air—in and out of the lungs—is 64 to 79 liters per second.

Compare that to a hair dryer at 40 liters per second, or to a sprinting human at 4 liters per second.

Then realize that the blood pressure in the lung blood vessels of a galloping horse is four or five times higher than the resting pressure. And the lung membrane between air and blood is only 1/100th the width of a human hair.

This is why many racehorses experience pulmonary hemorrhage after a race! And I’m certain the unicorn in my story did as well.

The other physical symptom I wondered about was lather and sweat. Why do so many horse stories speak of horses working up a lather?

Unlike that of humans, horse sweat and horse saliva includes a component called, fittingly enough, latherin. Its purpose is to allow the horse’s sweat to flow through the horse’s hairy waterproof coat from the skin to the air, where it can evaporate.

Without evaporation, the sweat would not the produce the cooling which is so necessary.

And the latherin which facilitates evaporation also produces the foamy froth seen on the hide of an exercising horse, especially where something rubs, such as the reins on the neck or the bit in the mouth.

I loved learning these details, which I found fascinating!

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn, see:
The Hunters Enter the Woods
The Unicorn Is Found
The Unicorn Is Attacked
The Unicorn Defends Itself
The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn
The Unicorn Lives
Unicorn’s Lullaby