Thank you so much for having me at the SolaFide Publishing Book Club today!
This character diary is from the perspective of Sielban, a mysterious teacher on the island of Braven. Every year, men come to Braven for the Murat, a period of training with Sielban on how to become better fighters and competitors, but most importantly, better servants of their people. No one knows how long Sielban has lived on Braven, only that he’s a Rasselerian, a group of people with some amphibious and sixth sense characteristics, and that he lives alone except for the Murat visitors. He worships the goddess Madel, as do all the people in his land.
Sielban would not keep a diary, so this is more a recounting of an average morning for him:
I wake with the tinkling of bells. Or rather, with the sound of angels, whose feet bound in metallic threads scrape against the pully gears that will bring supplies to the brave who will attempt to climb this peak in a few hours. The angels have another name in Madel’s realm: the chronistem. They fit in the palm of most men’s hands, and they are tasked with ensuring the safety of this mountain climb for Madel’s chosen competitors. I do not trouble the men—children, I call them, until they know more—who will complete this Feat with that information. Sometimes, it is better to let minds wander in the amazement and dulled senses of thin air.
I roll up from the evergreen shrubs I have slept against, and the chronistem startle, flouncing away like chimes in a wind. Some blush at not having recognized me, but I laugh and wave farewell—it is not their fault my suit blends so well with my resting places, and on this island, what can be seen is always suspect.
I had not planned to sleep here, but the voice in my ear had other plans last night. She directs me now to step off a high ledge, and my foot drops down on the pink grasses of Mount Frelom’s base camp. My charges have slept the night in a nearby cave. It is still early, and they will need their strength this day, so I leave them for now. Instead, I taste the air and find it cool enough for my own training; to keep up with these younger men, one as old as myself must practice well.
The webbing on my hands and feet aid my tree climbing and I jump, pull, release in repetition as I strengthen my muscles. It is routine, and my mind slips into memories of the past, of the time long ago when I heard voices in my head other than Hers. I cannot recall their precise inflections and resonances now; the sounds of my charges from many generations stand in for those that used to come from family and friends. Madel gave us Rasselerians the gift of internal hearing. It’s been so long, yet I still feel the pain of shielding my mind from theirs so I could more fully hear Hers.
I received news yesterday that Rasselerian lands are flooding, and no good comes from stagnating waters. I wish I could reach out to my people across this distance, to join my thoughts with theirs once again, but they forbade me to when I made my choice to pursue Her voice first. I do not regret that choice made long ago, but still, I feel their absence in times like this.
In my cabin, I bathe in steam to remove the sweat and dirt of the morning, and I pull out a bottle that hasn’t been unsealed in at least three decades. The cork crumbles as I expose it to the air. Out comes the minty smell of libtyl leaves and the distinctive flintiness of the sand near Lake Ashra, where my people live. The scents soak into my pores along with the moisture, and my skin sings.
“Your people?” the voice queries, and She is amused, my constant companion. “Your people are the same as mine, they are all the peoples of Lansera.”
The truth of her words intermingles with the melancholy beneath my skin. All Lanserim are my people—that is why I had to remove myself from the Rasselerians, why I have dedicated myself to this. And yet—
“It has been many years since you have felt such nostalgia, Sielban. What brings about this regret?”
“I don’t regret—” I begin, but the warmth of Her understanding relaxes the raised rill of my brow, and I start again, as though a child having learned my own lesson. “I regret that my family never knew my true name, and that I could not be joined in their lives as Rasselerians have ever been.” I breathe out a contented sigh. “And yet, I would never exchange that life for this.”
Madel’s energy covers me in an embrace from someone whose arms I will never see but have never doubted. “Regret without regret, dear Sielban. For it is merely proof that you have lived.”
I smile as I pull my snug suit around my body with a few tugs and pinchings of skin. “Sounds like a new lesson for these Murat competitors.”
Madel’s voice is rich and soothing as though an orchestra of bassoons blowing every harmonious note in accord. “They are waking. Perhaps soothe those regrets with the spoils of the life you’ve chosen?”
“I’ll consider it.”
When she next whispers in my ear, I jump into the space before my rocking chair without a flinch. On the other side I land at a cave’s mouth opened wide. Within it are the people—her people and mine—that make my regrets worth it.
About Wings Unseen
by Rebecca Gomez Farrell
Publisher: Meerkat Press
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
To end a civil war, Lansera’s King Turyn relinquished a quarter of his kingdom to create Medua, exiling all who would honor greed over valor to this new realm on the other side of the mountains. The Meduans and Lanserim have maintained an uneasy truce for two generations, but their ways of life are as compatible as oil and water.
When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancèe of Turyn’s grandson, Prince Janto. As Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.
To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: the beautiful Vesperi, whom no one knows murdered Serra’s brother. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.
Readers of all ages will enjoy Wings Unseen, Rebecca Gomez Farrell’s first full-length novel. It is a fully-imagined epic fantasy with an unforgettable cast of characters.
In all but one career aptitude test Rebecca Gomez Farrell has taken, writer has been the #1 result. But when she tastes the salty air and hears the sea lions bark, she wonders if maybe sea captain was the right choice after all. Currently marooned in Oakland, CA, Becca is an associate member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her short stories, which run the gamut of speculative fiction genres, have been published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Pulp Literature, the Future Fire, Typehouse Literary Magazine, and an upcoming story in theDark, Luminous Wings anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing among others. Maya’s Vacation, her contemporary romance novella, is available from Clean Reads. She is thrilled to have Meerkat Press publish her debut novel.